When I started writing tonight I turned on the TV just for some background noise. Turns out the 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee was on live. I love spelling kids ever since I saw the glorious documentary Spellbound, so I watched the Bee out of the corner of my eye while typing. As it went on and more kids were eliminated, I watched it with increasing attention. When it was down to the final three (all girls), I was on tenterhooks [In a state of uneasiness, suspense, or anxiety].
Word after word went by, the majority of which I've never even heard of. Apparently, the way to do well is to not just obsessively study word lists, but learn the patterns of spelling in French, German, and Hawaiian. There were an awful lot of words of those origins. Here's some fun stuff from the final rounds:
poiesis - production, creation, formation. I actually knew this one because of nursing school. Hematopoiesis is the production of blood cells. Hooray, a word I actually know.
aubade - a poem or song greeting the dawn. It's of French origin and now that I know the word, I want to write one.
weltschmerz - mental depression or apathy caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state; sentimental pessimism. Ha! I knew the word, a great example of the hilarious specificity in German compound words concerning mood, but "sentimental pessimism?" Genius!
The penultimate championship word:
kundalini - the yogic life force that is held to lie coiled at the base of the spine until it is aroused and sent to the head to trigger enlightenment. I'm more familiar with the sexual aspect of this word and was mildly surprised that the word came up. Shame on me I guess.
ursprache - language that is the recorded or hypothetical ancestor of another language or group of languages.
Congrats to 2006 Champion Katharine Close!
So, spelling bee yay! And then I kept the TV on as Diane Sawyer introduced a Primetime special, A Call to Action: Saving Our Children, about foster care children. One and a half minutes into it and I was already in tears. Sure it was mildly exploitative - giving a mother who's child was taken away from her because of neglect and sexual abuse a chance to "tell her story"? Blech - and yet, it was captivating. Diane Sawyer, you are good with kids, at least on camera.
And then the show closed with a bit about the kid who made me cry at the beginning. He was adopted by two dads and doing well. To which I say, "Right-wing nutballs? Fuck right off."