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Patti loves Kurt Vonnegut. Probably always has. Knowing her, she picked up one of his books when she was in junior high, maybe earlier, and just started reading — not because anyone told her to, probably, but because she’d read his name somewhere or saw his works referred to by someone else whose books she enjoyed reading.

She’s a bit of an explorer, that Patti.

I read something by Vonnegut once, a short story or two, I don’t remember. I’m quite certain I had something else going on at the time, so, as usual, I wasn’t paying full attention.

(I always seem to not catch on in time, sometimes.)

Anyhoo, upon hearing of Vonnegut’s death, I e-mailed Patti because I knew she’d be sad. He was one of her heroes — and if you know Patti at all, you know she doesn’t toss out words like “hero” to too many people. Which is probably for the best, really.

This morning, I found myself thinking about this Vonnegut quote:

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.”

What are some of the things I pretend to be?

  • Aware
  • In control
  • Interested (I try to be, but when it’s not all about me … I struggle.)
  • Responsible

There are many more, of course;* these are simply a few of the ones I don’t mind sharing, mostly ’cause people have probably figured them out already.

What are some of the things you pretend to be?

* — I couldn’t resist throwing in a semicolon, in part because Vonnegut apparently hated them:

“Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.”

(I will admit: I’m trying to cut down on semicolons. Although I have to say that one of the things I love about me is that I know exactly how to use them. So put THAT in your drok pipe** and smoke it!)

** — There are, basically, no limits to my capacity for drokdom.

A few years ago, Sheila gave me this cool little book called Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O’Conner. It’s a pretty nifty handbook for people like me who like to string words together, occasionally, and want to construct complete sentences and get the punctuation just right.

Except when I don’t.

I like the book ’cause it’s straightforward and not very long, and the author has a relatively good sense of humor — Chapter 6, for example, is titled “Comma Sutra: The Joy of Punctuation.” And did I mention the book isn’t very long?

Yesterday, I awoke with the phrase, “Woe is me,” in my head. Of course, I visualized it as “Whoa is me”; nevertheless, it reminded me of the book, so I got to thumbing through Woe Is I and forgot, momentarily, about what was on my mind.

I had this “Woe/Whoa is me/I” mentality because I was feeling the proverbial weight of the world and worrying about things that were beyond my control (and others that were very much IN my control … or had been, at one point), and I started to feel as if nothing would ever be right or “normal” again. As if I were a victim in the cruel scheme of life.

The thing is, I was a victim once. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. And I know it was absolutely not my fault, and that there was nothing I could have done differently to prevent it.

And I learned from it. Oh, did I learn from it.

I shook off the “Woe is me” blues and decided that any obstacle in front of me is simply a challenge waiting to be taken on. And, guess what: I’m up for it.

Now watching: West Side Story on TCM (yes, the mild fascination with Natalie Wood continues … but I’m not so fascinated that I’m not going back to bed ’cause, honestly, it’s way too early to be up on a Sunday … plus I have more cupcakes to bake, later).

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