The OED word-of-the-day is Shiver. Which is perfect because it’s 89 degrees here at 8 pm and tomorrow there’s a 100% chance of hurricane. Finn and I made paper boats. His, a pink pirate ship and mine a yellow sailboat. At his request we named them after ourselves– a process he calls self-naming.

In the last week I have lost three people. It’s enough to scare anyone out of sight for awhile. There’s no such thing as a respectable amount of time that could pass before remarking upon the loss. Especially since, as my astronomy professor used to remind us, Betelgeuse could explode at any moment. There is only not-enough time and too-much time and reaching under standing water in the streets to wrangle whatever’s closest. At least this one is closer.

Apparently S didn’t know that NC and I speak/spoke. I understand her ongoing contempt for me more now. I’ve written about NC here regularly in the past few years because she has continued to be a friend. Believing we had severed contact, I’m assuming, before their relationship began, S must have thought I was obsessed or disrespectful or in denial or– something. Withholding the truth turned our friendship into something disrespectful, at least. But I really had no idea.

After my last post, NC texted to tell me I had destroyed her relationship. S had left her.

I don’t know any more than that. Either it’s over or it’s not and they’ve reconciled but NC and I certainly are done. Of course this kind of thing from a Kantian. Information management. Unfair chances. It’s down to 88.5 here and I’m still shivering.

I’ve been at Grad School Orientation for the past three days and for the school face book I’ve been asked to muster up a denomination to be printed under my name. The registrar apologized that the provided check list of denominations includes 47 different types of Christian and just a smattering of other things. As a partial remedy they’ve instituted an Other: _____. In addition to printing our denominations, the registrar will forfeit the information for certain governing polls and tallies. I don’t remember which. The Other _____s won’t be tallied but will appear under our faces. I am entertaining my options: gay jokes, structural linguistic jokes, other jokes, contrariness. I cross out my name from my sail boat and try on other things in Crayola.

Of its etymology the OED tells us:

It may be doubtfully suggested that the word may originally have had reference to the chattering of the teeth from cold (cf. to chevere with the chin, quot. c 1475 below), and that (with the app. synonymous CHIVEL v.) it is connected with early ME. cheovele, chefle to wag the jaws, chatter (see CHAVEL v.), f. OE. ceafl jaw (see JOWL). The ending -el may have been assimilated to the suffix -ER5, common in verbs expressing tremulous movement; cf. however MHG. kiver (G. kiefer) beside kivel jaw. The change of ch to sh may have been due to the frequent association with shake.]

From one word, supplemented into an adjective. From that word: then sonorously associated into something else. So that at last we cannot see the origin unless we are bleary and educated in half a dozen colloquialisms from half a dozen dead languages.

(It may be doubtfully suggested.)

That’s what I tried to remember when I read a good-bye email from a stranger. To decipher it I look for other hints– some additional information printed under his final signature. I try to break him down and backward, make some sense with what tools I have. But I speak all the wrong languages, it seems. I tried to change the beginning of him back into other shapes and people— to take away his suffix. I wasn’t even left with a mouthful.

Tomorrow will be my first Hurricane Party since Tropical Storm Bill. I write on the back of my hand: this with suffixes. Things that break and things that hold together. I come up with more ideas for things that Finn and I can make out of paper

and tack the wall before they tremble away on Ike.

Advertisements