Floccinaucinihilipilification: Hashtag That

Today it’s floccinaucinihilipilification.

No, I didn’t just make that up. The term ‘creatio ex nihilo’, meaning the creation of something from nothing, cropped up in my Philosophy class. To give this a bit of background, I’d previously asked my teacher whether ‘a priori’ and ‘a posteriori’ had Greek or Latin roots. And she didn’t know, which completely baffled me—after all, why would you be happy to remain in ignorance of the etymology of terms you use and teach all the time? I guess not everyone can be a linguist, but…but… *bites lip* Since then, she’s taken to translating all the foreign terms that come up in the syllabus, including their roots (though she couldn’t define ‘despotic’. Meh).

To return to the tale in question, I’d never seen the fragment ‘nihil’ anywhere else, except in this word I’d known since I was eight: floccinaucinihilipilification. Strange how our minds work!

I looked it up later in the day, and found that not only had I spelt it correctly all those years in my mind, but that I was correct about the ‘nihil’ bit.

A bunch of boys from Eton found a list of nouns in their Latin grammar books: ‘flocci, nauci, etc’. (Sorry if I got all the cases and declensions wrong.) They collected a loads of semi-synonymic words and made them into the twenty-nine-letter monster ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’.

Longest word used in the British House of Commons, as of February 2012.

If you haven’t Googled this word yet, don’t. Give me a moment, and I’ll deign to explain.

*deep breath*

Flocci—a wisp (of wool, for example)

+Nauci—a trifle

+Nihili—nothing

+Pili—a hair/something insignificant

+fication

= the act of regarding something as unimportant, worthless or having no value

I floccinaucinihilipilificate long words. And make sure you pronounce it with optimum ease and fluency.

I spent my lunch period yesterday teaching a few strangers that word. I didn’t bring it up; they caught sight of it doodled in my planner.

To digress, one of them is a Lord of the Rings fan. Like, a real hardcore one, who makes me feel like a fraud.

She has read The Lord of the Rings (and that includes all three volumes and The Hobbit, not much less than 450,000 words) eight hundred and forty-eight times. Each of them.

I couldn’t resist taking out my calculator and pumping the sums. Taking that as four books, she’s read 3392 books at least in her lifetime. That’s like reading a book (and we’re talking about long books) every day of your life for nine years three and a half months. I’m almost inclined to disbelieve her, but she started when she was five and has read nothing else ever since. It’s just too incredible to contradict. Even if she added a couple of hundred on for effect (though she did consult a note on her phone to give me this figure), five or six hundred times is scarcely less staggering.

But I digress. I’ve made new acquaintances. That’s basically what’s going on in my life at the moment. Oh, and I’m doing my Silver Qualifying from Thursday till Tuesday. Wish me luck! (If I can only stay out of A&E, I’ll be delighted!)

Floccinaucinihilipilification.

Eat that!

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Not Eating Eating Problems, That Is

Did I mention I have eating problems? Not eating eating problems, but eating problems, you know.

Two years ago I went through a long period where I could scarcely eat. There were reasons for this: an attack of the unauthorised melancholy, a series of deceptions which led to the abolition of breakfast time, and my joining clubs to demolish free time, such that I might eat only one meal a day, and never desire any more.

But were the latter two result of the former? I joined clubs to escape both my thoughts and my friends, and it worked to some extent: on the odd day when a club was cancelled, I was abandoned to the mercy of tears, locked in my favourite toilet cubicle. And that abandonment, too, was it the result of my deserting my friends, or would it simply have happened had I never joined any clubs at all?

It’s a spiral of events and moods: a downward spiral, growing exponentially worse. And I too stubborn to do anything about such states of affairs.

I never do anything to help myself. And I could. And I don’t. I’ve no excuse. Yet still I gripe how it confounds and disturbs me.

Two of the friends I’ve spent the most time with over the past three years are exceptionally interested in food. Every day, it seems, they discuss their meal of the previous night, how it was cooked, how it could be improved, what dishes featured on the latest culinary TV programmes, and so on and so forth. I don’t blame them. They don’t know that every fresh reference to food draws bile up the back of my throat, sends spasms through my muscles and fires my sweat glands into double-time production.

I’ve always been skinny. Yes, time and time again I’ve been called anorexic—even in jest, though I laugh it off, it hurts no less than ‘ginger’. Boys tell me they don’t like stick-like women; and I don’t know why they tell me.

And all the time I get slimmer and slimmer. What am I even trying to prove?

None of my trousers fit me anymore because I’ve sprouted hips. But that seems to make the flatness even flatter and less natural. My stomach has inverted itself, so my hip-bones project quite centimetres in all directions. My skirts now fall downward, and since I’m scarcely less flat at the top, I often look like some long-skirted 40s girl starving in the Occupation.

I disgust myself! I chew and I chew and I chew, but not a bite can I swallow, for the more I chew the more repulsive the food becomes. And the more I spit the less pathetic I become to the idea of feeding myself another spoonful, for surely the process would repeat without cease, and I would chew and chew and chew and spit and retch again and again.

I thought I was getting better. Despite my little-varied diet I’ve remained healthy all these years, somehow. Because I do eat. Just enough to stay healthy, though not nearly as much as anyone else. It’s not an eating disorder because I do eat it. I do force it down, because when people are watching me I can do nought else, unless I prove myself a hypocrite and boast I’m not hungry, or lie, as I hate it when other girls used to do in the changing rooms. When one becomes what one sought to destroy…

My diet consists of carbohydrates. At least one portion of potatoes, in whatever form, every day. A single bread roll, thinly buttered. Occasionally rice or pasta, without sauce or oil or butter or any other embellishment. That is my daily menu. Yes, I am deficient in many vital substances. But I take vitamins, pills and medicines every day, and I’d rather eat what I like and take drugs than eat what everyone else eats.

There are those who tease me without mercy. That doesn’t really bother me. I don’t care what they think. After all, I like pancakes, and scoffed eleven in a row on a single night a couple of weeks ago. If I like it, I eat a lot of it.

D of E will be difficult. Last time was my practice, yet by the end of the three days the teachers were baiting me about my food. No one realised the real problem was my feet. I couldn’t’ve cared less about the food. I could’ve made it on anything, if I could make it with such blisters on my feet. Yet they will fail me in my qualifying next month because I won’t eat enough protein.

I’m scared of food. Probably. I really am.

I haven’t eaten breakfast for three days, and only eaten half my lunch. It’s this little knot of stress low down in my stomach, and it won’t go away till my self-assurance comes back. When that will be, I don’t know. And when it does, it won’t last long. It never does. Not three weeks ago I received my GCSE results, but already I’m beating myself up because they weren’t perfect. We ungrateful humans, we forget too soon. We never give ourselves a break.

Will anyone in real life ever know this? I must never tell them the names under which I go on the internet. Strangers to read of my problems, and my family and friends to remain in ignorance! What am I about?! If anyone knows, it isn’t me.

Latin, Bagpipes and Blister Plasters

I am aware I haven’t posted since I first got the blog, and for that I profusely apologise. As I said, I’ve been away, and since I’m struggling for a post topic I can complete with little research (I have a lazy streak), I will dedicate this one to describing to you exactly where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing (well, not ‘exactly’, because that would become unnecessarily dull).

My first trip, mainly in June, it must be said, took me to Cambridge for my brother’s graduation. The ceremony was mainly in Latin, and was described by my parents as ‘unusual’ (I, never having been to one before, am not qualified to make a judgement).

The ceremonies at Cambridge take place from the Thursday to the Saturday, throughout the day, in the Senate House. There are thirty-one colleges in all, to date, and the students graduate according to college. The most prestigious three, King’s, Trinity and St John’s, go first, and are thereafter followed by the other colleges in order of foundation—Peterhouse, then Clare, then Pembroke, and so on.

In each ceremony, which lasts approximately twenty minutes, around sixty graduands graduate—in the case of Clare, two ceremonies were held in order to accommodate the graduations of a hundred and twenty graduands. It’s very quick, nevertheless–kind of walk in, walk out, all done, let’s go home kind of thing. Except we had a picnic instead with all the families of my brother’s friends–a strange thing, you can imagine, since he knew his friends so well, but none of the parents had ever met!

If you’re interested enough in the Latin and all the strange gestures involved, which have been going on in the ceremony every year for the past seven centuries, I suggest you visit another website. Not that I’m not interested, but to my sorrow I was never granted the opportunity to learn Latin.

Cameras were forbidden and I’m a rubbish photographer but let it be said that I tried.

CambridgeGraduation

My second trip away consisted of a weekend to the island of Sark/Sercq for the annual Folk Festival held there. And it is truly the best setting for a folk festival there could be! Why, they have dusty tracks instead of roads, and horsedrawn carts instead of cars. The Avenue, the Sark equivalent to a High Street, is possibly the dearest lane imaginable. And La Coupée, the causeway suspended between two cliffs several hundred feet up, is one of the most terrifying places I have ever been. But last year I was forced to ride a bicycle down it at midnight, with no lights on my vehicle, so this year I was grateful to be spared such an ordeal, and crossed it on foot in the daylight.

I have never seen a place quite like Sark—and never will, I expect. It seems so completely and utterly untouched by anything and everything that make up our poisoned society today. You think Guernsey’s primitive? From Sark it looks like a metropolis.

Sark

Yet the contradiction involves the Barclay Brothers, who own most of the island and are always hungry for more power. Many an ode to power hoarders was dedicated to the Brothers that weekend! Still, I pray the island remains as perfect as it seems; and if it were less impractical, in matters such as transport and shopping, I might consider living there in the future, if I ever had the means to set up as a professional author.

As for the festival, folk fiends will be jealous to hear that Seth Lakeman headlined. Personally I preferred Hat Fitz and Cara Robinson, and the bagpipes on Saturday night, the cider and the dancing…

Seth Lakeman

My third and final journey was to Snowdonia in Wales. And about this one I was frankly terrified. Not merely because to get there I was forced to take the overnight boat in a recliner chair, and a six-hour coach journey the following day, and, being an awful traveller, either of these things would be enough to strike terror into my heart.

No; because this was to be a weeklong camping trip, and I’ve never camped in my life, especially far from home. And because the aim of the whole trip was to walk fifty or sixty kilometres in three days with a pack on my back that weighed more than half my own body weight, and, on top of that, in heat of twenty-nine degrees, being used to less than half of that down South.

This was my Duke of Edinburgh Silver practice expedition. And I didn’t do Bronze. I had no idea what to expect beyond all this discomfort, and members of my group who had done Bronze doubted I could make even one day, due to my slightness of size and blatant lack of physical strength.

Yet as it turned out, even this, which I honestly thought would probably kill me, wasn’t the greatest of my problems last week. I am prone to blisters, whatever shoes I wear, and I acquired some rather spectacular ones before I was halfway through the journey. However, due to a multitude of reasons which would take several thousand words to tell sufficiently to make them reasonable, I told no one the extent of my affliction.

Such when finally we completed out expedition, and I took my boots off, my companions howled with revulsion and disbelief. My feet were coated (besides with several layers of Compeed) in a thick yellow pus that was described by one of my friends somewhat inelegantly as resembling earwax.

I was scolded for my reservation by teachers who, if they were at all impressed by my endurance, well concealed it, and transported directly to the Accident and Emergency section of the nearest hospital, where my plasters (and in the process, my skin) were ripped off by a kindly nurse, bathed in antiseptic, and dressed more carefully than I could do in the dark with everyone else asleep.

The next two nights were terrible, for once the adrenalin that had seen me through the past days began to wear off, my feet began to give me great pain. But that is trivial, compared to what I underwent over the course of that walk. And that trivial, too, when I think what others have undergone in similar situations. After all, I could’ve dropped out if I’d told anyone—would’ve been forced to do so, moreover.

In that event I apologise for how I rave about my own petty ‘achievements’!

But now everyone who was with me knows that I may be slight, spotty and shy, but for the first time I can be proud of something physical.

Sorry; down on good photos. If someone uploads a better one I'll swap it.

Sorry; down on good photos. If someone uploads a better one I’ll swap it.

And amid all this, I have been attempting to do CampNaNo! My goal is only 25,000, what with the fact I’ve spent three quarters of the month off-island and much of that with no time or means for writing, but it is a goal nevertheless, and one which I am determined to meet.

CampNaNo13

So that is where I have been and what I have been doing. If I have sounded very stilted in this post, I apologise (once again), for I have recently been lost in Austen, and she has a marked effect on my style.

I hope to get back into blogging after this, having fired my enthusiasm once again in writing this post. But then again, as I mentioned, I ought to be concentrating on NaNo so far as writing goes…