The Linguist with an Axe

Misanthropy and Grammatical Pedantry. More fun than it sounds, I promise.

by Thought Catalog

“He is risen, and he is pissed.”
As a huge Quentin Tarantino fan, I’d go see this.

(Some of) Life’s Unfortunate Guarantees

by Nicole DeMarco

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1. You’ll wake up early when you don’t have to

While waking up to any one of the 34 alarms you’ve set the other 5 or 6 days a week is, in terms of difficulty, roughly equivalent to jogging through molasses (or maybe just jogging…whatever, no judgment), you can pretty much bank on being bright eyed and bushy tailed at the asscrack of dawn the one Saturday a month you’ve nothing to do and no place to be. Try to make the best of these few extra hours of consciousness, though. Read that book you’ve been meaning to get to, use your French press, or yanno…work that brisk walk of yours up to a jog.

2. You will see people out in public when you look…less than stellar

It’s almost as though there’s an 11th commandment etched in stone somewhere that reads, “Thou Shalt Look Like Shit in Public, and Thou Shalt Be Embarrassed and Doomed to Be Disheveled.” Okay, maybe not, but chances are 10:1 that the second you leave the warm cocoon of your bed / Netflix, it’s gonna be a goddamn reunion. Guests include: exes, that bitch you know from high school who somehow always looks fucking fabulous, and potential employers. Their judgmental stares serve as harsh reminders that if you’re going to be unkempt, at least wear a hat to conceal your birds’ nest inspired coif.

3. You will forget your umbrella, and it will rain…a lot.

Pretty straightforward. You neglected to tune into the forecast this morning, only to discover firsthand the apocalyptic downpours responsible for your wet socks, frizzy hair, and the literal dampening of your will to live. Alternatively, if you tote your best bubble ‘brella around all day, you’re in for clear skies and looking like a paranoid douchebag.

4. You will pour cereal, and there will be no milk

Maybe your roommate hates puppies and rainbows and thinks it’s kosher to put empty cartons back into the fridge, maybe you forgot taking the last swig of 1% yesterday morning, but whatever the case, you’ve got cereal…but no milk. Your best bet is to throw those toasted grains in a plastic baggy so you can eat that ish on-the-go, pretending it doesn’t taste like scratchy sadness and wondering why bad things happen to good people.

5. You will arrive at your destination, and a great song will come on the radio.

Naturally, during your commute there will be nothing but static and ads cluttering the airwaves. Suddenly, though, the second you’re home, at your stop, whatever, angelic choirs part and you’re inundated in the auditory bliss that is your fave jam. Power ballad, techno beat, 90s throwback, doesn’t matter—it’s all you can do to resist your desperate urge to burst out into full orchestral conductor mode and belt out every word, no matter how out of range.

Times It Would Be Useful to Have a Significant Other

by Nicole DeMarco

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       That the holiday season may serve as a cruel and relentless reminder of singlehood is pretty unanimous. However, the utility of having a beau is hardly limited to the few weeks that prick Cupid (known to our Greek brethren as ‘Eros’) flutters around shooting chocolate-covered arrows of concupiscence. The following seeks to elaborate on some of those instances where having duped someone into loving you would really come in handy.

1. Opening Jars

       Look, I’m all for unfettering the shackles of oppressive gender stereotypes and all that, but the fact remains: dudes are (generally) stronger than chicks, and some broads are stronger than other broads. It’s science. You can’t argue with science. (Or so I’ve been told. This is also an instance where the gays have it all figured out…this a ‘can’t lose’ type situation). Anyways, the point is, there’s literally nothing more tragic in the entire world than not being able to open a jar. Perhaps you’ll take the ‘run the lid under hot water’ route. Well, if you’re anything like me, you’ll waste no less than 30 gallons of water waiting for it to heat up, only to accomplish little more than giving yourself a nifty variety of first degree burns. Even if adrenaline kicks in and you experience a surge of Herculean strength, you’ll most likely lose your shit and wind up sloshing pickle juice all over your shirt. At this point, doused in briny sadness, it’s probably best to curl up in a ball and start batting those eyelashes at the next person you see who’s got greater hand strength than the Gerber baby.

2. Putting On a Duvet Cover

        Seriously, have you ever endeavoured to do this solo? It’s damn near impossible. I myself have almost suffocated under seemingly endless layers of cottony foe more times than I’m comfortable admitting. Nothing exclaims, “I’m single and sleeping alone!” quite like the shapeless, empty top corners of your bed linens, or worse yet, if you’ve really succumb to the treachery of the decorative coverlet, a bare down comforter. 

3. If You Want to Ride a Tandem Bike

        I mean, come on. Is there anything more likely to drive the general populace ad nauseam with the unmistakable glee of coupledom than a pair of lovebirds on a tandem bike? No, no there is not. Riding one of these bad boys with a platonic partner just doesn’t pack the same Tour de France (that’s a thing, right?) since everyone knows you’re not peddling off into the sunset to bask in each other’s (real or imagined) beauty and pick out china patterns.

          If you still fancy yourself a strong, independent woman who don’t need no man, I guess you could always buy a can opener, knit yourself a quilt, and opt for an alternate form of non-vehicular transportation. You go, Glenn Coco.  

On Gaining and Losing the “Freshman 15”

by Nicole DeMarco

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The thing about the formidable ‘Freshman 15’ is that it’s real. It’s a thing. It doesn’t matter if you’re one of those skanks who insists, usually while retching into some porcelain receptacle, “No, it’s fine, I only do shots, I don’t drink beer!” or one of those dudes who gallantly exclaims that he can bench mad weight, bro. By the time you waddle back to your hometowns, the twinkle of Christmas lights in the windows and soft din of carols on the airwaves, your precariously fastened (note I do not use the term “buttoned”) jeans are one false move away from splitting down the middle and exposing the sea of cottage cheese that has become your ass.

Now I’m not saying I’m better than this, for I have been there, and it royally blows. Due to the fact my self control is roughly that of a crack addict gone rogue, I too succumbed to the unimaginable glory of the saturated fat buffet, I mean, the school dining hall. Who can resist the seemingly endless supply of pizza, fries, and cereals whose main ingredients include sugar and the tears of unicorns, especially when they look so good next to that lame-ass salad bar? All this future heart disease, readily available with the mere swipe of a card, is not only enough food to feed ~6 countries, but a caloric temptation greater than you had ever thought possible. While I personally am not better than this shameful and delicious spiral into gluttonous oblivion, I suppose some are impervious to its eventual lardtastic wrath. Good for them and their Usain Bolt–like metabolisms. However, for the rest of us, it takes a certain amount of strong-arming (not to be confused with double-fisting), to shed these loathsome pounds, since, yanno, sweatpants really are the only thing that fits right now.

The good news is, you can do it. As is the case with pretty much everything, getting started is the hardest part. First, you’ve gotta admit to yourself that it’s beginning to look like you were injected with pudding. Also, let’s stop denying that this extra layer of insulation is having actively aversive effects on your demeanor, making you kind of a downer to be around. Put down the wings and pick up a couple of dumbbells, and no, I don’t mean drumsticks. Going outside of the grease-laden pit of snacks and despair that is your comfort zone needs to happen. I know it may sound unorthodox, but it turns out there’s something to that whole ‘diet and exercise’ routine. I know, right? Who knew? But seriously, quit eating and drinking so much, make your physical activity for the day more intense than just the walk from the fridge to your bed. Do it, if for no other reason than to show that buffet who’s really boss or to get your concerned mother off your back. Before you know it, you’ll be one svelte sonofabitch.

Pluck the Day

by Nicole DeMarco

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Okay. I’m trying to set the record straight about one of the more hackneyed Latin phrases out there, namely, Carpe Diem. While I’m sure most of you have seen this scrawled across some corny graduation paraphernalia, the origins of the quip are largely unknown. Cue my insatiable urge to inundate you all with some insight.

Carpe Diem is the imperative exhortation in the last line of a Horatian ode addressed to symposium attendee, mistress, and possibly fictitious Leuconoe. It’s not a poem about ambition. Think less Robin Williams in “The Dead Poet’s Society” and more Leonardo ‘To Making It Count’ DiCaprio in “Titanic.”

Horace, in composing this poem, seeks not to lobby for the necessity of future aspirations sine non qua, but to emphasize the transience of life. Given the ephemeral nature of well, everything, one ought to embrace all of life’s pleasures (carnal and otherwise) while he or she still can. Though the urgency of the speaker is in part due to his interest in securing himself a good old-fashioned boudoir romping, his point is tamen* a good one. While it’s great to have goals, the future is elusive, so why wait? (Obvi a rhetorical question, i.e., you shouldn’t!) The point is that we mortal underlings have no concept of what is to come, and moreover, scire nefas.

Quite possibly [read:definitely] one of the greatest Latin words in existence, nefas is busting at the seams with gnarly connotations. This indeclinable noun can most succinctly be defined as “crime,” but it more accurately describes an incorrigible affront to the gods. Scire, “to know,” as an offense to divine will, is indicative of the fact that we, as humans reveling in all our mortality and fallibility, are not privy to info of that sort.

Again, the point is, don’t worry about it, bro, you can’t do anything about it anyway. So, just sit back and enjoy the ride. I’m not (nor is Horace, for that matter) endorsing the abandonment of all your responsibilities for the pursuit of a licentious hedonistic paradise, just don’t get your undies in a bunch about the future. Without quitting your day job, you can (and should!) enjoy yourself.

What I would contend to be the crux of the ode occurs in the antepenultimate line, with the jussive subjunctives,** sapias  and liques. The former, meaning both “be wise” and “have taste” thus operates on an intellectual and sensory level. In other words, don’t be foolish; believing that time will slow down or delay is an egregiously naïve conviction. Liques refers to vina, “wines.” By saying “strain the wine” (Romans strained their wine before consumption to rid it of sediment…it’s in the arbiter bibendi job description), the speaker urges Leuconoe to drink up! Saving the wine for a special occasion is nonsense; now is an occasion special enough! And besides, if there’s wine readily available, why wouldn’t you drink it? Do you not like yourself? Are you a masochist? Hangovers be damned, the real tragedy lies in letting the wine go to waste.

Spatio brevi / spem longam reseces offers a further caveat against being too forward thinking. Because “the span of time is brief,” one ought to restrain his or her “long hopes.” The long, yet rapidly Asclepiadean (try saying that five times fast) line in which the poem is written continues to emphasize the celerity with which time proceeds.

It might seem like a downer, but it doesn’t have to be. Horace is not the original Deb, he’s just saying it how it is. While we’re all busting our humps making plans and color-coding our agenda books, time is basically just LOLing at us. Or as Horace more eloquently puts it, Dum loquimur, fugerit invida / aetas. “While we are speaking, envious time will have fled,” so quit yapping, start acting!

Why is time personified as being envious? Well, it may be said that as a third party interloper, time’s jealousy of what the speaker and Leuconoe share is simply a manifestation of this frustration. Moreover, it seems necessary to point out that whether or not Leuconoe is fictitious is of very little consequence. The message endures irrespective of an actual and specific recipient; for it is from its universal applicability that carpe diem derives its appeal.

Lastly, a word about a word. Carpe; it more accurately means “pluck, pick, or crop.” Its agricultural connotations coincide with those of reseces, from resceo, which may be translated as “prune back.” Obviously, “seize” is more appealing contemporarily, but as a Latin major I have afforded myself the right to be a pendant. Additionally, the final –e in carpe is short, so stop saying, “car-PAY” unless you’d like me to carpe your hair from your scalp.

Though by no means an exhaustive account, the preceding analysis was simply meant to dispel some common misconceptions surrounding Carpe Diem, and to help you all keep your Latinist and Classicist pals from rolling their eyes at you.

 

*Also as a Latin major, I am prone to inserting random Latin conjunctions, interjections, etc. into my daily speech and writing. I have no intention of stopping. Tamen simply means, “nevertheless.”

** I am a grammar junkie. I suspect that most of you are not. Jussive subjunctives are those that are suggestions or commands in the third person.

And What Are You Going To With That?

by Nicole DeMarco

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The above question has served as the bane of my existence for a solid three to four years now. Why, you ask? Oh, it’s because of my major. 17th Century Architecture? Nah. Pharmaceutical Marketing? Nope. Basket Weaving? Kinda…

…sike. It’s Latin. Yeah, Latin, as in e pluribus unum and all that noise. As a preemptive strike, I will neither confirm nor deny that I am currently engaged in the study of a “dead” language (rest assured, it is alive and well in meo pectore).

Now I know that there is a staggeringly overwhelming chance that in a few short years my yearning for elitist excellence and triumph over the rigors of academia will fade, and I will have become jaded by experience and delivering pizza. But in the meantime, I just can’t make any damn sense out of wasting my time doing something I don’t actively love. I can make sense out of ancient texts written eons ago, but not that. Never that.  I’ll get back to you all on what happens, now that my days as a blissful undergrad are numbered, and so, Carpe Diem.