I don’t know about you, but I love it when I happen upon a word that I don’t recognize.
I first enjoy the challenge of trying to decipher its meaning based on the context in which it is used, but I also love the excuse to visit my old dictionary to look it up.
I wrote a while ago about my love for an old dictionary that my dad picked up for me at a yard sale years ago. I love it so much that I asked Ben Harrison to build me a stand just for it, and they live in a special spot in my living room.
The word that caught my attention most recently was the word “quotidian.” It jumped out at me as I was listening to last month’s pick for my book club, an historical fiction novel by Elizabeth Letts titled “Finding Dorothy.”
The book is a wonderful telling of the creation of the classic film “The Wizard of Oz” through the eyes of Maud Gage Baum, wife of L. Frank Baum, the man who wrote the iconic novel the film is based on, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
“Finding Dorothy” jumps between the story of how Frank and Maud met and married and their life together, and the story of Maud’s appearance at MGM studios as they began filming the movie, where she was intent on ensuring that the film would stay true to the book her husband so lovingly penned.
Early in the novel Maud is describing the first time she watched Frank perform on stage. The two had met through her college roommate, his cousin, and he had been courting her, much to her suffragette mother’s chagrin. She wanted Maud to stay in college, to finish school and set herself up in a career before she fell in love and married — a very unconventional perspective in the late 1800s.
Maud finally convinces her mother to let Frank come calling, and after a bit, he invites their family to attend a play he produced and starred in, and the author describes how Maud felt as she watched the show.
“It was as if the actors upon the stage had pulled back the curtain and revealed that there was another world on the other side of it — a world brighter, more colorful, more vivid, and more intense than the quotidian one in which she passed her days.”
Have you ever heard a more interesting and elegant word used to describe something so mundane as the boring monotony and repetition of everyday life?
I was fascinated by the word and began to think of how I might use it in conversation today. The first thing I thought about was how quickly the quarantine life has become quotidian for most of us.
While there was a novelty to the concept to begin with, we have quickly tired of the idea. But, isn’t that how most things go?
I then started thinking about the many ways that I have watched us learn to entertain ourselves in the midst of the monotony. Online concerts and virtual gatherings are our new norm and we happily grab our carry-out curbside favorites and lose ourselves in a more colorful world behind the screen, in lieu of a proper curtain.
Some of us are struggling with the continuum more than others, becoming downright angry with the idea that we should still be asked to restrict our contact with the outside world. Enough is enough, they say.
I’ll not get into my thoughts on that here because, after all, they are merely thoughts, mostly based on hearsay rather than the mammoth details of it all, about how we feel decisions should be made.
Instead, let’s talk about all the ways we can bring a little spice to our quotidian conundrum.
One of my favorite things that I have been doing is cooking more again. I used to love to cook. I even used to cater for a living, but got out of the habit once I became a table of one. I have enjoyed using all of my stockpiled supplies to create more complicated meals than I might otherwise.
I even joined a Facebook group started by my friend Jeremy Smith called Apocalypse Chow. The initial idea was to entertain each other by posting pictures of the dishes we were making in lockdown but it has turned into a full fledged competition, complete with trophies and prize money, with a myriad of competitors from professional chefs to amateur home cooks. There are sure to be some pretty epic entries, so I encourage you to take a gander.
I’ve enjoyed watching friends plant their first gardens, show off newly found sewing skills, take up instruments they’ve always intended to learn and discover all sorts of nostalgic gold as they clean out closets and attics and basements and the likes.
Another fun Facebook group that I have enjoyed is called “Weird Secondhand Finds That Just Need To Be Shared.” You may already be one of the nearly 2 million members of this group, but if you’re not, you should check it out.
Initially the group was a place for people to share crazy things they found at thrift stores and yard sales around the globe. But once the quarantine curtailed such adventures, various themes popped up in which people share things like unusual collections, or most recently, pictures and stories of their grandparents. I am amazed by how many unique and interesting grandparents there are in the world!
How have you entertained yourself through the vast and mundane stretch of quarantine? I haven’t even gotten to half the stuff I wanted to do. I put a list on the fridge to remind me each day of all the fun things I have yet to accomplish. Heck, I might need to “shelter in place” indefinitely in order to get to it all, and that feels anything but quotidian to me.