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Friday, May 30, 2008

Neologism #2: POOPHEMISM

Okay, I’m on to neologism #2 on my summer word-making odyssey.

Preamble to today’s entry: Someday I plan to have my own factory of words, with think tanks filled with bobbing lexiconnoisseurs (thanks, Cory, for that gem!) and high powered business meetings where we feverishly discuss the declining morale of the verb department and strategies for dealing with adjective inflation. This is all just my warm up before I conquer the world with invented language. (Mua-ha-ha-ha!)

POOPHEMISM noun (pōō`fə miz`əm) 1.The substitution of a mild, indirect or vague expression for one thought to be vulgar, especially those related to the excretion of bodily waste. 2. The expression so substituted: “After drinking that triple espresso, I felt a definite knocking on my cellar door.”

Epilogue to today’s entry: My boyfriend and I are experts in poophemisms. I mean lets face it, romance and bowel movements just don’t go together (unless you’re of a particularly marginalized subculture, which we aren’t, okay?). In an effort to communicate about these topics without totally killing the magic, we employ an ever-evolving arsenal of poophemisms.


Me: (barring bathroom door) Man, I wouldn’t go in there right now.
Him: Why not? I have to shave.
Me: Because I just had an enchanted April and it was really enchanted.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Here's word numero uno in my Summer 08 Neologism (i.e. Gehrman-coined word) series. There'll be a new one every week, so stay tuned!

POPTROPICS noun (pop΄trop΄iks)
1. A land filled with beautiful people who dye their hair sorbet hues, display sparkly bellybutton piercings, and have icy beverages surgically attached to their hands. The weather is always eighty degrees, with just enough humidity to make hair dangle in desultory waves but never frizz. The region is also characterized by the constant presence of bad eighties music, remixed and pumped through gargantuan speakers with chest-rattling subwoofers.
2. Representations of such a place, as in film, design, fiction, or bad eighties music.
3. Of or relating to those who inhabit the Poptropics. See also Poptropicarians. (2008; ME Popp, ME tropic, fr. L tropicus, fr. Gk tropikos, fr. trope turn, as in a record)

Monday, May 19, 2008

My Big Summer Plans: Neologisms, Baby!

Okay, so I just started this blog and if you ever read my stuff on myspace or on rocketgirls you’ll have figured out by now that the posts below are somewhat random and recycled. My apologies.

Fret not, though! This is going to be a really cool blog. I plan to post reviews of YA novels and thoughts on the publishing industry (not boring thoughts, though—exclusively interesting thoughts, naturally).

I also want to look into werewolves and mermaids, since I’m toying with the idea of trying out YA fantasy and let’s face it, werewolves and mermaids are like the coolest mythical beings ever, besides zombies and vampires and sirens and stuff like that.

But here’s my big summer challenge: At least once a week (though I’m hoping for once a day) I’m going to create a NEW WORD. The fancy term for that is NEOLOGISM, and I’m going to go neologistic on your ass! (Okay, technically, neologistic isn’t a word—oh, which makes it a neologism, right? In other words, I just made it a word.) If you’re rolling your eyes, believe me, Shakespeare did it all the time, so don’t knock it.

If you have neologistic tendencies, send me your WORDS, man! I want them. I crave them. And yes, I’ll give you credit here, okay? I’m not a neologistic nabber, afterall.

Touring High Schools: Did it Hurt Much When You Fell From Heaven?

A couple weeks ago I did something no one should have to do: I went back to high school. Yeah, I know. Like that dream you’re always having—scratch that, nightmare—where you find yourself sitting in Algebra, naked from the waist down, totally clueless about the spelling of your own name, let alone quadratic equations. That was me, except I wasn’t dreaming.

I was promoting my first Young Adult novel, CONFESSIONS OF A TRIPLE SHOT BETTY. Standing there regaling my audience with Tales from the Writing Life, I cringed as they cracked their gum, yawned, and smirked at each other mercilessly. It was horrifying to face, but the evidence was right there: I wasn’t cool. All my old high school insecurities came back like a swarm of flesh-eating locusts.

Okay, to be totally fair, not all the schools I visited were like that. One was filled with kids so into reading and writing, I left with a serious contact high from their enthusiasm. Others were more like visiting a coma ward.

For these tougher crowds, I passed around a hat and scraps of paper so anyone too shy to ask questions aloud could scribble theirs down and deliver their query anonymously. Any idiot can see where this is headed.

“Okay then,” I said, fishing around in the hat. “Let’s see what we have here.” The first one I pulled out read “Can I stick two fingers in your butt and stroke your balls?”

Apparently, not only had I failed to impart the importance of reading, but (much more crushingly) I hadn’t even conveyed that I am female.

Ahh, well, details, details.

The next scrap of paper was even more cryptic. I read it aloud: “Did it hurt much when you fell from heaven?”

Here I thought I was so well versed in the language and customs of the under-twenty set, and so far one hundred percent of their questions were a total mystery to me.

The third one I more or less understood. It was a drawing, actually. It depicted the prominent feature of male anatomy in a state of excitement. When I showed it to the English teacher afterwards, she nodded. “Yeah,” she said wryly. “We get a lot of those around here.”

Putting the FUNK back in dysfunctional

A number of critics who have reviewed my novels categorize the families I write about as “dysfunctional.” I’m not going to be coy and pretend I don’t know what they mean, but I’m also not entirely sure I agree.

Sure, my characters often find themselves having dinner with their divorced parents and said parents’ bizarre lovers, sometimes with disastrous results. And yes, my characters’ family members often indulge in various forms of substance abuse and (sometimes under the influence of said substances) dole out questionable advice. Still, I’m not sure this makes them “dysfunctional.”

Looking the word up, it’s defined as “(1) impaired or abnormal functioning (gastrointestinal dysfunction) (2) abnormal or unhealthy interpersonal behavior or interaction within a group (family dysfunction).”

I don’t really think the families I depict are all that abnormal. Talk to just about anyone these days about their loved ones and they’ll admit their entire family tree, from the nuclear unit to the ancestral archives, is more or less fucked up. I’d say that makes those of us with a few kinks and eccentricities among our clans more normal (statistically speaking) than abnormal. And anyway, how often do you hear people refer to any family (their own or someone else’s) as “functional”? It brings to mind a home filled with factory workers, well-lubricated cogs in a slick, efficient machine.

I’ll take my offbeat characters—and my beautifully quixotic real-life family—over that sterility any day!

magic leopard coat

I got this really cool leopard print coat at a vintage store in North Beach about a year ago. I’ve been wearing it a lot lately, though I don’t like to make it an everyday thing, since saving it for days when I’m in a particularly feline mood ensures it won’t lose its special occasion sparkle. Also, I’m a very messy girl, and I live in terror of the day when this vintage specimen that’s survived any number of divas before me gets its first coffee stain.

Seriously, that would be tragic.

I’ve noticed that when people see me in it, the cool ones tend to let out a big cat growl and turn their hands into claws. Isn’t that a great way to be greeted? I bought it because at the time I was writing NOTES FROM THE BACKSEAT, a novel about Gwen Matson, a costume designer and vintage clothing store owner who knows how to work leopard print like a mod goddess.

Here’s a little teaser from the book: “It’s widely understood that Gwen only designs for period pieces, and only when the period is somewhere between 1952 and 1963. Everyone’s learned not to even call her unless their show falls between those dates; otherwise, their Juliets always end up looking suspiciously like Jackie O.”

Anyway, back to my magic leopard coat. Wouldn’t it be so fab to find out who owned it before me? It’s from Paris supposedly (at least, that’s what the shop owner told me—am I a sucker?) I’d so love to trace its lineage and find out from its previous owners their favorite moments spent wrapped in its animal magic.