As much as I hate to say it, all those Spelling Bee practices I went through as a kid are coming in handy these days. Ask any of my brothers or sisters and they will all tell you that sitting around the kitchen table on weekday nights going through spelling words with my mom is not among their favorite memories. I remember the tears, the crumpled pieces of paper, the endless writing and rewriting of the words I missed. I remember wondering why it was important for me to know how to spell “jacal” (pronounced ha-kal, meaning a thatched roof dwelling made of wattle and daub found in Mexcio and the Southwest US), and secretly being relieved (and maybe a little sad) when, during my eighth grade year (the last I was eligible for the spelling bee) I missed the word “stupefy” at the district bee. I put an “i” where the “e” should have been. It sure “stupefied” me! Ha ha ha! At least I’ll never misspell it again. But there were bright spots and fun times in the early morning drill downs and after school tests. Mostly they had to do with the mnemonic devices we would come up with. I can still hardly look at a mosquito sucking the blood out of my arm with out singing to myself, “Moe the mo-skweet-o” before I take a slap at it.
Now that I am trying to increase my vocabulary in preparation for taking the GRE, I am utilizing the spelling bee techniques again. Micah and I have taken to sitting down for a half an hour here and there to memorize a few words. Micah has the book on his lap and he’ll ask me to define some obscure word. After I struggle with it for a while, racking my brain for any familiar clues (as long as it is not “veracity” for which I can identify the root word “veritas” which means truth–thanks to Harry Potter and Veritas Serum), I give up. Micah will then tell me what it means and I’ll repeat it a few times before looking for ways to use it in my everyday life. Just like I used to do with the spelling words. When possible I resurrect the “Moe the mo-skweet-o” method and come up with super ultra mega creative ways of remembering words: truculent=fierce and cruel. “Truc”–like a monster truck. I hope images of huge tires and sharp teeth painted onto the nose of a truck are coming to your mind.
So when I take the GRE in the next few weeks, rest assured that I will click the mouse with alacrity (eager and enthusiastic willingness), knowing (or hoping, anyway) that my efforts to become erudite (very learned or scholarly) are not totally in vain. I will continue to read perspicaciously (with acute perception, keen discernment) and voraciously ( having an insatiable appetite for an activity or pursuit) so I can find new words to add to my collection.
And years from now, whenever I see a scone, I will picture myself having absconded with it (depart clandestinely, to steal off and hide) to a closet and eating it greedily while the honey drips down my chin.