28 August, 2009

In which I cuss once but star one cruc*al letter

I lead an ersatz life.

This is a way fun vocabulary exercise if you're ever looking for one. When you're looking up a word to try and figure out what it means, attempt to use it to describe your life and see if you can draw any interesting parallels or conclusions. A bad example would be "pharmacodynamic," because by plugging this word into the sentence "I lead a _____________ life" the word remains overly specific and generally useless. My life has nothing to do with the the physiological effects of drugs on the human body, rendering this vocabulary word irrelevant to my life. Not so with my word of the day!

Ersatz. A definition from the Oxford English Dictionary, the only dictionary worth using:

"A substitute or imitation (usually, an inferior article instead of the real thing)."

Sometimes words get stuck in my head just like songs get stuck in normal people's heads. Today was one of those days, and as the word "ersatz" played over and over again in my head like a Cheap Time LP, I realized that I do, in fact, lead quite an ersatz life. I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way, but the truth is, nothing in my life has gone the way I've planned at any point.

My life goals at the age of 5: Grow up and be tall, thin and beautiful. I distinctly remember (at the age of 6) wanting to be so beautiful that people would stare when I went out in public. Live in a house with a three-car garage. Never attend college. Be a police officer/teacher/vet. Own a pet giraffe.

My life goals at the age of 10: Grow up and be tall, thin and beautiful. Marry a guy who is in the army straight out of high school. Have eight children in seven years (Duh. Twins.) My husband goes off to war and dies. Raise children alone. Never attend college.

My life goals at the age of 15: Grow up and be thin and beautiful. (By this time I had given up on the tall.) Go to a school on the East Coast. Marry a Mormon guy while in college. Get a PhD in English and be a poet on the side while raising kids. Have no need to support myself.

My life goals at the age of 20: Grow up to be beautiful and thinner than at-the-time weight. Attend college. Get married ASAP. Own a pet dog. Once graduated, have no need to support myself.

My life as of now: I have grown up. I have attended college in the Intermountain West, served a mission, presented at international conferences, traveled to Europe and Asia, bought a car, and almost received a college degree. I have a pet dog (an ersatz baby) whom I love more than is probably healthy, considering the life span of dogs. I still occasionally consider getting a PhD, but mostly because I like the idea of being able to have the following conversation if necessary someday:

My high school enemy/mission comp I didn't like at some future reunion-type event: So, still not married, eh, Koler?
Me: That's DOCTOR Koler, b*tch!

Oh, that would be sweet.

Sometimes I dress up in a skirt and high heels and walk around Home Depot, just because it feels good to be looked at in that way. Normally, though, I go barefoot a lot. I don't wear much make-up. I am healthy, but not particularly beautiful. I garden. I like hip hop and comic books.

Now none of this is intended to be a fishery (?) for compliments or a complaint fest or an attempt to make anyone feel sorry for me. If you read this blog with any regularity, I hope you can see through the cynicism and exaggeration enough to see that I absolutely love my life, the way is it right now. But the fact is, it is not the life I assumed I would have five or ten or fifteen years ago. Not by a long shot. Which partly makes me aware that for now, some ersatz things can be perfectly acceptable substitutes for what is missing in my life (I'm thinking of the baby-dog thing right now). But most of it is ONE MILLION TIMES BETTER than I ever could have expected, or hoped. Although I lead an ersatz life, what I have right now is in no way inferior to my original assumption of how it would be. I will even go so far as to say it is better.

Except I still wish I could have a pet giraffe.

Also, don't ask me why I thought three-car garages were cool in 1989. Must have been a yuppie thing.


Elisa said...

Guys. Please notice that my post is above erstz-ness (?) which is replacing one thing with another, and the title is about REPLACING a letter with a star!!!

Clever? Clever?

I so didn't even plan that.

Shawna said...

Most days I'm this driven person who wants grad school, maybe a doctorate, a good job, good kids (with a nanny of course), and a good equal marriage... in like 5-10 years.

Other days I want to forget all those dreams, elope, start having babies, and be a stay at home mom who has dinner on the table every night when the hubby gets home from work.

I imagine real-life will end up somewhere in the middle. And I'm excited.

A pet giraffe would be really awesome thought.

Ashley said...

I see this word and can't help pronounce it Hungarianly in my head...

TheMoncurs said...

I LOVE the "That's DOCTOR Koler, b*tch!" part. I've totally had the same daydream except I didn't even finish college so you're already way ahead of me.

theFinn said...

Elisa, I just want to let you know that the English MA with a creative writing emphasis has recently been changed into an MFA. What I really mean is that, as you proceed in your life, you should spend as much time with me as humanly possible.

c. said...

i love that you mentioned the cheap time LP.

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