The Alphabet Soup Life

English: Alphabet pasta Deutsch: Buchstabensuppe
Image via Wikipedia

When I lived in France in my 20s, I arrived speaking the language pretty well. The toughest part of reading the newspaper was learning all the acronyms that were familiar to natives: FNAC (a book and music store), SNCF (the railways), FO (a union) and IVG (abortion), among many others.

These days, it feels like my life is an alphabet soup of acronyms. They include:

REIT and ETF, two forms of investment I recently added to my portfolio. In Canada, I bank with TD, the shortened form of Toronto Dominion.

I rely every year on the STAR, a tax refund that helps to lower my property taxes.

I often travel by MTA, the official name of the New York subway, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

While working on various high-level projects, I’ve had to sign an NDA, a non-disclosure agreement.

IV, MRI, AVN and NSAIDs. The first I’ll need for my surgery, the second diagnosed the problem, the third is the problem (dead bone in my hip) and the latter are painkillers.

NYT, ASJA and WEAF are key in our household. The first, The New York Times, is my husband’s full-time employer and one of my regular freelance outlets. The ASJA is a 1,400-member writers’ group, on whose board I’ve served for six years. I sit on the board of WEAF, which is an amazing source of aid for writers who find themselves in terrible financial straits. We can give a grant of up to $4,000 within days.

DH and DL. When I’m healthy and strong, I’ve been chosen by my softball team — a mix of men and women ages 20s to 70s — as the DH, or designated hitter, a position of some honor. It means they know I can smack that sucker far enough to get a man (or woman) on base. But thanks to my damned hip, the one that has sidelined me for two seasons, I’m on the DL, the disabled list.

The FT. We love the weekend Financial Times, and look forward to it every week. This British daily is unapologetically elitist, but still stylish, witty and fun.

CBS, a national television network. I’m praying hard they greenlight the pilot for “Malled”, a sitcom based on my retail memoir that came out last year. It won’t make me rich, but would add a chunk to my savings and be a lot of fun.

Given how international Broadside’s 588 readers are — scattered worldwide — tell us some of your local acronyms.

Which might confuse us if we visited your country?

The Naming Of Things

How exactly do I milk this thing?
Image by Unhindered by Talent via Flickr

Holstein, Jersey…

Then I ran out of names for cows. I’m not a farm girl and, although a big fan of milk and yogurt (thanks, cows!) I’m at a loss to name more than two breeds of them.

For someone who prides herself on knowing a lot about the world, this annoys me.

I went for a walk and tried to name all the trees I saw. I could recognize plane, oak, maple, elm, chestnut, white and red pine, cedar, Japanese maple, birch…But not walnut. I’d feel a little silly carrying a field guide, but how else will I know how to name the things around me?

We know to name the things that matter most, but why can I name (sigh) the makers of $800 shoes more readily than I can cite the names of the trees and flowers and birds that give me the most pleasure?

Having studied a variety of disciplines, from photography to sailing to saber fencing to interior design to two languages (French and Spanish), I have a large and varied vocabulary I enjoy:

quoin, dentil, parapluie, tenedor, gunwhale, boom vang, crazing, metamerism.

What are some of the favorite words you use in your worlds?