One of the most rewarding things about watching your child learn to write is realizing all the things they get almost right. Like the President’s name.
One of the most rewarding things about watching your child learn to write is realizing all the things they get almost right. Like the President’s name.
I often get words wrong. Completely wrong. For a few weeks, I’ve had swimming around in the back of my head remember to write about cache, remember to write about cache, remember to write about cache. Write about how to pronounce it, and what it even means. So today, I thought I would enlighten all of us (myself) about the proper definition and usage of the word. And hopefully get it out of my head because it’s annoying. [ed: Doubly annoying because I am still pronouncing it wrong in my head. Every time. Saying it with two syllables. Still.]
This interest in correct pronunciation goes back to a moment in time, circa 1990 or 1991, when I was having my first taste of grown-up living, in a very nicely-kept mid-century 3 bedroom, two bath rental home, near 50th and France, with grown-up amenities including a tuck-under two-car garage and a subscription to the Star Tribune and a so-fancy-I-feel-rich snow plow service, included in the rent which divided three ways came out to be $266.66 or $266.67 per month–and yes I think we were still so young and idealistic about the fairness of life that we even rotated on who got to pay a penny less that month. (What the hell? Did we just have so little else to think about?) Imagine. You could actually live in luxury digs, own a decent used car, have full health insurance and money leftover, making around twelve bucks an hour, back then. No home improvement projects, no kids, we were rich in time and money! (But poor in something, I’m sure. I’ll let you know when I think of what it was.)
Did we really have so little to think about “back then?” I recall a lot of impassioned discussions of the wrongness of the (first) Gulf War, about how much we detested (the first) George Bush, and equally enthusiastic discussions of who was playing at the Uptown Bar that weekend and who’s in for Twin Peaks, and should we get Pasqual’s or Szechuan Express? (Full indoctrination into the world of What’s for dinner? = Take Out was completed here on W. 49th Street.)
I do miss those days of roommates and shared meals and shared love of TV shows and wasted Saturdays and oh yeah, the impassioned political discussions. So there I was at the table in the sunny corner of the kitchen of our grown-up rental (seriously, it was so grown-up that when we had a couple of larger gatherings there, i.e. keggers, at least one party-goer would assume it was one of our parents’ house).
It was a Saturday morning, and I was enjoying our cost-divided-three-ways Star Tribune, and had just read some front page story about Kuwait or Iraq or something related to Operation Desert Storm (ugh), and was sharing this important new development with my then-roommate (and creator of the Happy Anniversary Card featured on the St. Patrick’s Day post) there at the kitchen table. I read a few sentences aloud, in possibly an overly-dramatic tone to convey my outrage and concern: “Blah blah blah Kuwait, blah blah blah, Hussein, blah blah blah military coup. . .” And, yes I did pronounce it coop, like chicken coop.
This former roommate and current friend is lovely for so many reasons, most notably her frankness, her forthcomingness, her lack of need to censor many of her thoughts and feelings. (Perhaps we’ll devote an entire post to that very quality of hers, and touch on the highlights of 25 years of When this Quality is Unveiled in Interactions with Complete Strangers, and the (sometimes life-threatening) Mayhem that Often Ensues, but first I’ll need to secure her permission. Stay tuned.) So, let’s remember we find it lovely that she so unabashedly shares her opinions of you with yourself, so we won’t judge her harshly when I tell you that she smashed my beautiful foil swan from Figlio–oh wait, that’s a totally different story.
What I meant to say is that so we won’t judge her too harshly when I tell you that she looked at me with a mixture of surprise and disdain and said, loudly, “Coo, Ally! It’s pronounced coo.” Which was her shorthand way of saying: “You, my 4.0, GRE-acing roommate, may think you are smart, and you may in fact soon be heading off to get a Ph.D. at a prestigious Midwestern institution of higher learning, but your lack of common-sense, real-life-useful-knowledge-that-matters is striking. Remarkable, even. Astonishing.
To which I say: I already know that. (But seriously, coo? Like a pigeon coo? I had no idea.) And it’s okay that you smashed my swan. Because I do know what really matters in life, and of course I wouldn’t hold a grudge for all these years over such a small unimportant thing. I can always get another one. Just because I haven’t gotten another foil swan in twenty-two years of frequent dining-out with left-overs doesn’t mean I’m not about to get another one any minute now.
So, yes, it was a deeply formative moment. The “Coo” vs. “Coop” moment, I mean. The Pigeon vs. chicken moment. Not the swan moment. We have let that go. And let us never speak of it again. The formative moment that revealed the vast discrepancy between my book smarts and my street smarts, between my ability to read a word and my ability to correctly pronounce the word, and to then use it in a sentence. Twenty-odd years later, along with a couple more decades of reading more new sophisticated words, and hearing new sophisticated words correctly pronounced on Minnesota Public Radio, yet still failing to put the two together, the chasm remains. Perhaps has even deepened.
Just today, at coffee with a friend, I tried, unsuccessfully to use the word millieu in a sentence. Still not sure of its exact meaning, or pronunciation, but pretty confident I was slightly-to-mostly off on both. (Now that I think about it, it is quite often words that seem to be of French origin that trip me up. Damn Frenchies, and their Au Pairs, which I also am never sure if I’m saying right. Aw Par? Oh Pear? Whatever.)
Well I hope at least one of you readers will benefit from my public service announcement for today, which is this: The word cache is pronounced “cash.” Like money. Like rhymes with “smash” or “bash.” It means “a secure place of storage, or something hidden or stored in a cache,” according to my friend Miriam Webster.
But do not say “ka- shay!” That is only correct if you wish to say cachet, which is an indication of approval, or the state of being respected or admired; prestige. Here is an example.
Being rich … doesn’t have the cachet it used to. –Truman Capote
By the way, don’t get him mixed up with Al Capone. Truman Capote wrote about a real murder in In Cold Blood, and kind of ended up being friends with the murderer, which sounds like it would be a mobster story, but it was Al Capone who was the mafia guy, and who did a lot of different murders. I know, I have done the same thing, thinking I was going to see a film about Al Capone and the story of the book In Cold Blood, which turned out was confusing because you’re like halfway through the movie thinking ‘Why does he seem kind of more like a gay socialite than a mobster?’ and ‘I didn’t know he hung out with Harper Lee? and, wait–What? Also their last names do not rhyme.
Back to the main point, which is cache (without an accent over the e) is pronounced “cash,” like money. And it means a secure place of storage or a hiding place especially for concealing and safekeeping valuables and treasures.
Now, I’m not much of a shopper, but there is also a store that calls itself Cache. Which makes sense, if you go with the “store of treasures” definition. However, guess what? They put a little decoration over the e, so the store is really called Cachè. Or Caché. Or Cachê, Or Cachě.
Do they want to have us pronounce it “ka-shay“?
I think retailers are not always the brightest bulbs, especially fashion retailers, so maybe these people called their store the wrong thing. The mark makes me think you really want your store to be called Cachet! Like, she has a lot of cachet, because she shops at Cachě! If someone feels like calling the store at the Mall of America to see how they answer their phone, maybe we could clear up this mystery. Maybe even interview the clerk about What does the name of your store even mean? And then report back. 1. MALL OF AMERICA, 952-858-9211. Cupcake reward! Or if you prefer,donut reward, from Yo Yo!
One last thing, if you drive by Yorktown mall, across from Target at 70th & York, I believe you will see this or similar signage:
CACIQUE. You might think this word, too is cache or cachet, but again you would be wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. (Smash, smash, smash the swan.) This is not cache. Cacique? Is it not obvious? This is pronounced “ka- seek,” like hide and go seek. I don’t know what they sell at this store, if it is even a store, but Google suggests that it might be something related to a native Indian chief or an area dominated primarily by a Spanish culture. Similar to Chico’s maybe? And again, why Chico’s (which is masculine)? Why not Chica’s? And is it Southwestern style, or Latin American style or American Indian or Mexican or Spanish or Edinan-in-Sanibel-Island-Florida style?
Once again, time to get the kids, so need to wrap up, but one more thing, in case you didn’t know, queue is pronounced “cue” like “pool cue” and there is actually some relationship between cache and queue, in computer language. (Are you now saying cache correctly in your head? One syllable. Rhymes with stash.) Don’t ask me what either word means in computer language, though. My only college C was in MIS 3300 (Management Information Systems). In this particular area, not even book smart. You could ask my bro-in-law, though, he would totally know. Super book smart and street smart, in computers and other real-life things. Even fashion smart, although not so much in his younger days (see crocheted mock-overalls vest in photo below.)
So, lots to cover today, as I stepped away from my desk yesterday for yet another SCHOOL RELEASE DAY. Because seriously, the kids just had two consecutive five-day school weeks, and how much can a kindergartner and a second grader take before they need another three day weekend? It was just this very grade school rhythm that set the stage for the emergence of what would become my future most career-limiting personality trait, namely a deeply rooted inability to show up for a 40 hour per week job without giving myself a WORK RELEASE DAY (i.e. calling in sick) at least every second or third week.
The school system doesn’t properly train anyone to keep that consistent five days per week thing going year-round. (Which I believe is part of the push in moving toward year-round school for K through 12? To train us to become better grown-ups who can hold down jobs?) For me, it is just not a sustainable work-life model. You might call me a socialist, but I don’t think it should be anyone’s work-life model.
Happily, though, I want to report that yesterday’s school release day was much more fun than the President’s Day holiday, where I was basically waiting for someone to call or email or come over for a playdate, and nobody did. Perhaps they were at work.
Yesterday’s School Release Day was Parent Teacher Conferences so I got to hang out with my kids’ teachers who are seriously rock star (juice box level HIGH, if you speak that language) kind of people whom you would want to hang out with even if they weren’t your kids’ teachers. Maybe even especially if they weren’t your kids’ teachers, so you could get past the pesky professional boundary thing (not good at boundaries–working on it).
But now I need to immediately contradict myself and say maybe I’m not working all that hard on boundaries, because as the friendly visitor who calls himself “Bird” so astutely commented with regard to my father’s “outward approach to others”: “The world needs more of that stuff!” I recognize that the comment was posted at 1:29 a.m. on a non-school night, so there is a good chance that “Bird” had had a few beers, but I think the sentiment remains, and I agree.
The world needs more people who will reach out and be a little real/ridiculous with strangers, and who will try to make a human connection once in awhile, and I had the best convo with the 2nd grade teacher, and our 20 minute conference went on for about 50 minutes (no one was waiting in the hall, so we weren’t being rude) where we shared our desire to say to many people, “People. Just let down your guard and your pretenses for a minute, and be real and make mistakes and lighten up, so we can get to the good stuff, the real stuff, and learn something here,” and then we tried to solve the world’s problems but alas, came up short again. (Also, if my daughter’s second-grade rock star teacher happens to be reading this, which I don’t know why you would be unless I forwarded it to you, I totally know that was a run-on sentence and I am not modeling good writing, and I also say “totally” way too much. So don’t be worried for the second grader’s writing future, I will teach my children well even though my blog writing is loosey goosey.)
But the other reason yesterday’s school release day was SO MUCH FUN was I got to hang out with one of my best Mom buddies and for one of the first times ever in our two and a half year history of hanging out during our kids’ playdates we got to finish not just sentences but LONG conversations. When you have small children underfoot, you almost never believe the day will come when you get to have your adult time without dealing with a constant barrage of We’re putting on a play and you’re the audience! He tackled me! They’re not letting me have a turn! She called me a bad name! The kindergartner is being too wild again! Can we nail these boards together I promise there will be no blood! Please? Pretty please? With Sugar on top? More magic tricks to show you! We need a snack. Can we go outside with no coats? Well, of course there was SOME of that, but far, far less than when they were younger.
And may I also add that this particular Mom Buddy of mine is exactly the Oprah’s Best Friend kind of person. Here you have to pretend I am Oprah (I keep typing “Opera” but no, that’s totally wrong) and she is that one friend, I think her name is Janice. No, not Janice, wait right here while I Google it. Okay, Gayle. Gayle King is the friend. Oprah has this great quote about her friend Gayle that goes like this:
Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.
Not like I have ever had a limo, mind you, (or that I have any fame or fortune), in fact I have a rather craptacular 2000 Dodge Caravan sports edition, but what I am trying to say is that this Mom Buddy (who is also the previously mentioned Really Smart Friend) is one of the few women I know who has been genuinely just as glad to spend time with me when even the crappy minivan was broken down. And here is the really special part: it was definitely not in a bad rescuing dynamic kind of way, and not in a I’m going to help you/fix this/feel superior/you are my pet project kind of way that even some of the best of us inadvertently slip into (myself included). And not even in an I’ve been there too and next time I know you’ll be there for me kind of way. Simply in a basic human love and dignity kind of way that is hard to describe in mere words.
There were a couple of times in the months past that I confessed to feeling like I had zero self-confidence, which is unbelievably hard and scary to admit to when you actually have no confidence. My feelings of inadequacy were looming so large I forgot that there was some good stuff way down there inside me, it just happened to be buried under a bunch of oppressive crap at the moment. And this Mom Buddy just listened, and didn’t offer advice or perspective or false attempts to prop me up, she just listened and said, “Oh, my goodness, my lovely friend, you are feeling so bad right now. I am so sorry.” She said this with no pity whatsoever, she didn’t try to make it go away, and didn’t try to say you’ll be fine, or give me any pat answers, or false reassurances or glib “hang in there,” kind of talk, and you would not believe how healing it can be just to be deeply heard.
I hope every single one of you reading this has a friend like that, or a partner or mother or father or sister or brother or someone who you can turn to. Now I will be done with the kumbaya portion of today’s post (and by the way, thank you to NPR’s National Correspondent Linton Weeks for asking the sincere, intelligent question when did Kumbaya become such a bad thing) and get back to the humor. Thanks for staying with me. And thanks to my dearest friend and Mom Buddy hero. 🙂
Where were we, people? I didn’t post any Jesus Archies photos, because I didn’t check out any of those particular issues from the library, and I could have Googled some images, but am instead going to delegate that to you. I’m not a good delegater at all, so this is a good skill-building opportunity for me to say: you go do it. (Still working on my delegating skills.)
This topic might be getting old for you, but I want to share today’s Waking Up on the Couch to a Cartoon story with you. It was kind of a nightmare because today, Saturday, the 6:30 am cartoon I awoke to was Caillou which I know at least some families have banned from their household for the sole reason that Caillou, the main character, is super whiny even when he’s not whining. His voice is just a constant whine. So I woke up to Caillou at Volume Level 5, which is just as bad as waking up to your own kid whining at you, which is like waking up in hell.
Why Volume Level 5, Ally? you must be wondering. Your trying-to-fall-back-asleep Insomnia Toolkit Volume is 2 or 3. Why was the TV so loud? Here is where the same old tired story takes an exciting, unpredictable turn.
Sometimes when I wander downstairs in the middle of the night and flip on Channel 2.1 or 2.2 or 2.3 tpt there is a really interesting show on and I WANT to watch it but I also don’t want to wake up the household so my level for that is 5, and here’s the tricky reverse psychology part–when it is an interesting show I want to stay awake and watch, I’m usually–you guessed it–asleep within minutes. Go figure! And the show was not MN Originals, which is nearly always interesting, but in fact Moyers & Company.
Now, I don’t want to turn this blog into a Religious or Political Debate blog, or try to educate you about anything, because that is not what this is, but I will say this: if I can find serious discussions of either of those topics remotely interesting, then you can too. (If you find The Daily Show interesting, I agree, and it does have some good facts, but it still doesn’t always count as serious discussion.)
And the intersection of those two particular topics, Religion and Politics, in the hands of intelligent people who are not politicians or proselytizers, can be so interesting it makes you feel tingly with intellectual curiosity. As a bonus, listening in on these interesting discussions may even teach you some things about history and philosophy and the role of government and all of those topics that, sadly, when you encountered them in grade school made you think “Oh good a filmstrip, turn out the lights so I can put my head down on my desk and not listen.” Or if there was no filmstrip, pretend to listen while secretly writing two-page notes to your friends with rainbow colored markers.
The one thing I have discovered as an adult is that if there is information packaged that I can actually pay attention to it will often be delivered in the format of a Bill Moyers interview. So last night was Mr. Moyers interviewing Susan Jacoby, author of The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought.
I know I just said I fell asleep to it, and I did, but it is seriously brilliant and fascinating stuff, so do check it out if you have a moment. I haven’t actually gone back to watch the whole thing yet, so my hope is that YOU WILL (I’m delegating again here) and then you and I can go meet for coffee and we can talk about it. Also if you have seen it then I will sort of motivate and go back and watch it too so we can have an intelligent conversation.
My main story for today was supposed to be about the most excellent musical concert I had the privilege to attend on Thursday night, which on account of Friday being a School Release Day, was almost like a Friday for me. But this is already getting long so I will save some of that for tomorrow’s post and just say Mother Banjo and Moors & McCumber and their friend Ellis ROCKED IT. Details to follow, but if you are looking for love, I would suggest buying Moors & McCumber’s newest release, “Gravity,” and who knows, you might even find your life changing in some amazing ways. And if you need underwear for your squirrel, you can totally buy that at Ginkgo Coffee House in Saint Paul.
Bye for now! Write me Back! Chemistry is sooooo boring. (Rainbow drawing)