23 August 2011

Thinking About Words

To "expire" is to breathe out, but also to breathe out one's last; i. e., to die.

To "inspire" is to breathe in, or to strike with an intellectual or artistic or emotional idea.

Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.

Most of us, most of the time, take inhalation and exhalation for granted. I'm having a little trouble with them today; a lingering cold has left deposits of gunk* in my lungs, and getting air around it has caused a couple of head-exploding coughing fits today.

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Is "invalid" the opposite of "valid"? If you haven't already, put the stress on the first syllable. I hate that word.

I spent the better part of a day in a wheelchair, about a month ago, in transit in two airports. I was felled by Lyme disease, and the airline wanted $2200 to postpone our flights, so we traveled anyway, and I nearly collapsed at JFK.

In New York, there was hollering. "Wheelchairs don't belong here. I've been telling you all day, no wheelchairs in this line." The hollerer was mysteriously removed, and I proceeded through the line.

In New York, there were also starers. Most of the children were well beyond toddler age, and should (I opined to myself) have been taught better. What can I say about the adults?

In London, there were no starers, adult or child.

But the wheelchair to which I was assigned for the duration of my six-hour stay at Heathrow operated on the same principle as a luggage cart, with an automatic brake accessible only from the rear, making it impossible for the person occupying the chair to move the thing.

Making the attempts of the user to move the chair invalid.

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*Yeah, that's a technical term.