Tuesday, March 23, 2010


My sister Holly and I share a brain cell (yes. just one). Sometimes we each get half (which works the most in our favour) and some of the other times, one person steals the entire brain cell, leaving the other person entirely oblivious. It’s not normally evident - we have become pretty good at masquerading as “with it” and “mentally together” people - however there is, on occasion, a breakthrough so profound that anyone in earshot would think we were joking. I still remember one of the first occasions where we learned how similarly our brains worked (or rather, didn’t). We were sitting on the floor in our living room, eating cereal at the coffee table. I picked up the box at one point in a fury of passion.

“HOLLY!” I yelped. “Lucky Charms!!! LuckyChaaarrrmmms. Like, there are lucky charms in the box, and it is called Lucky Charms.” She laughed. She made fun. So did I. But soon after this, a trend started. Whenever one of us would discover the “secret” meaning of a word or experience a thought so dull that only we could think it – we started to tell each other. From this point on, life got better.

Some time later (could have been a few weeks or years), we were sitting across from each other on our kitchen counters – the coolest place for a late night chat with a sibling. Holly hopped off the counter at one point. The moment her feet hit the floor, she was laughing. Harder than I think I’ve ever heard her laugh. So I started laughing, because she was laughing. And finally, when she could form the words, she explained the genuine thought that had crossed through her mind at that mid-air moment. “It’s a good thing I have legs,” she had marvelled, “otherwise I would have landed right on the floor”. Yes Holly, it is a good thing you have legs. (what’s even better is that we tell each other these things instead of keeping them to ourselves).

This trend of sharing a brain cell that we had begun in our younger years at home carried over into our lives even when we were not together. Following my second year of college, for example, I travelled with my (now) best friends to Nebraska to work at a summer camp. During this time, we took a road trip to Colorado to camp in the mountains. Somewhere along the I-5, as we were following a U-Haul trailer, I had another moment. It was dark and we were tired; the car had fallen silent. Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, a shrill voice (mine) pierced the silence.

“U-haul!” I nearly screamed.
Silence. Bewilderment. Nervous laughter.
“U-haul!” I repeated, with less volume and more intensity. “Like, as in, yooouu haul it, as in you are hauling the stuff. U-haul!”

I had never felt more excited to realize something; I’m not sure I’ve ever felt smarter; it was a grand moment of discovery! Apparently, being so far away from my sister rendered my half of the brain cell entirely useless.
Thankfully, my friends stayed friends with me. And of course, Holly laughed as hard as I did when I told her the story.
These situations have happened so often for us over the years that in a brief conversation this morning, we both realized we can’t actually remember a lot of the times this has happened (although I do remember it happening a lot).

Lately we’ve begun to discover words and their origins, and how actually, words make sense. Phrases weren’t put together by happenstance or clumsy decision. They actually, you know, mean what you think they would mean when you say them. Phrases like “brand spanking new” (like a baby!), “piece of cake” (easy as eating a piece of cake, perhaps?), and “daylight savings” (because you are saving…daylight….ta da!) come to mind. Or what about words like elevator, computer, or sidewalk? A cubicle is square. And don’t even get me started on telephone, television, teleport, telekinetic… remarkable! It’s like they knew what they were doing when they invented words! Ha!

I’m sure that by now you’ve either had to downgrade your own mental abilities to compensate for a lack of them on my end (or you’ve begun to look for “special projects” for me to do next time we use scissors); regardless, I’m going to share with you our latest discovery. Well, it was Holly’s (to be fair). This one’s a bit of a stray from our other “discoveries” but it still fits in, simply because we both turned into giggling nerds when we learned it was true.

“For all intensive purposes” is incorrect.
“For all intents & purposes” is correct.

Who knew? I certainly didn’t. I had always "heard it" the first way. I actually Googled it when she told me, because I didn’t believe her (me, the English Lit snob).

So there you have it; that is today’s lesson in English phrasing, with a bit more context than you probably needed. You’re welcome.


.................................................................. said...

Andrew has always said the phrase "nip it in the butt" When I first heard it I didn't say anything- thinking he had just mixed his words up, but mentally filed it away. As I heard him say it more and more, I just couldn't keep silent anymore... "what the heck are you saying?" I asked. He reiterated. Argument ensues. He still doesn't believe me that the proper term is "nip it in the bud"- a gardening term referring to pruning when the shoot is at its smallest to ensure it doesn't get to a size where it is to hard to deal with... ahhh I love those funny sayings, and the ways they get twisted!

Christina said...

I like the post Ashley, made me smile, and think a lot too:)

Holly said...

I laughed out loud...hard! hahahah seriously we are so funny!! I can hardly wait for the next realization!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and ...oh just thought of another one whilst texting... what do you 'have in mind'....as in whats in your mind, as in what do you want. oh dear. i need. brain. cells...

Deborah Turner-Davis said...

I am so thankful to be related to you wonderfully fabulous women.

Mama said...

This is hysterical as are the photos. I had my own epiphany recently and I'm sure you'll love this.

I've always wondered how on earth they ever managed to come up with a name like "qwerty" for a keyboard.

So I was watching some show on TV recently, I don't even remember what. A scene started with a closeup of the top left corner of a keyboard and there it was...the first five letters across the top. It was like my brain caught fire. Seven years staring into a keyboard as an Operator...emailing...posting and commenting on Facebook....
And how did I miss it?? Nary a clue.

afterthoughtcomposer said...

hahah!!! mom that is hilarious :) :)