Embracing Gray by Mary Sharratt

Five years ago, before peer pressure made me reach for the henna.

When I turned forty, my hair started going seriously gray. Fearing that this would make me look “old,” I drank the Koolaid and hopped straight onto the wheel of hair dyeing samsara, getting my hair professionally colored every six to eight weeks. This, alas, proved to be a very expensive and time-consuming obligation. I am not one of those women who views going to the salon as “pampering.” Quite the contrary. I would much rather be writing novels or pampering my pony.

The salon I frequented in those days, which has since gone out of business, had an alarming tendency to play nonstop Miley Cyrus videos. Sitting under a heat lamp with dye on my hair, I was truly a captive audience and could not run away, and the volume was so loud, it was impossible to read or even think. Subjected to such horrors, I could feel my brain cells slowly and painfully dying off, even as my hair was being dyed. I tried changing salons, but they all seemed to have the same loud, annoying soundtrack.

To compound this, my hair grows so fast, the gray roots would be visible two weeks after each dye job and then I had use root concealer to hide the evidence. Finally my scalp would take no more and I developed a skin intolerance to commercial hair dye. That, and one Miley Cyrus video too many, tipped me over the edge. I decided to jump off the hair dyeing merry-go-round and go naturally gray. By this time, I was approaching fifty. Continue reading “Embracing Gray by Mary Sharratt”

What Czech Has Taught Me about Knowledge by Ivy Helman

20151004_161012Stalé mám žlutou knihu tak neumím slova.  (I’m still in the yellow book, so I don’t know the words).  Mluvíš o něčem ale nevím co říkáš.  (You are talking to me about something I don’t know what you are saying).  Neznám jí.  (I don’t know her).

The Czech language has three verbs that express knowledge.  The first umět expresses one’s ability.  Literally, one doesn’t know because one lacks the skill or hasn’t been taught how to do something.  The second vedět captures more the idea of stating facts or events.  It almost always requires a connecting word like “that, what, which, etc.”  One can’t use this verb with a direct object with one exception: to vím (I know (it)).  The third verb znát signals familiarity and it can only be used with a direct object.  So, if you want to ask if someone knows someone else, you use znát, if someone knows when the movie starts, vedět, and if someone knows how to play the piano, umět.

So in other words, the three sentences above are better translated as follows: I’m still in the yellow book so I haven’t learned the words; you are talking to me about something but I don’t understand what you are saying; I’m not familiar with her.

Continue reading “What Czech Has Taught Me about Knowledge by Ivy Helman”

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