Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What the hell is Semach?

If given a choice between leaving my house without clothing or without some sort of list, I’d be naked before I even got in the car.

I’m incapable of running any errand without a list to guide me. Sometimes it’s a collection of stopping points scrawled on the palm of my hand, and other times it’s a grocery list on a piece of scratch paper.

I know, I know…my iPhone surely has a way to streamline this process, but old habits die hard.

Yesterday afternoon, I scribbled a note that was half grocery list, half recipe. I wanted to make beer cheese soup and needed a few items from Trader Joes.

I grabbed the first few things on the list and then stood there on the wine aisle squinting at my own handwriting.

Semach? What the hell is Semach?
I retraced my steps through the store, hoping something might jog my memory.

No luck.

I stared at the list some more, thinking the scratched-out word or the surrounding items might provide a clue.

Nope, nothing.

I whipped out my iPhone and tweeted about it, hoping one of my Twitter followers might have an idea.

“Samiches?” someone suggested.

“Eeeeew,” tweeted someone with either a filthier mind than I have or a genuine distaste for Semach.

Dejected, I finished the rest of my shopping and headed to the cash register.

“Did you find everything you needed?” asked the friendly cashier.

“Actually, no,” I said. “Do you have any idea what Semach might be?”


The volume of his voice and the fact that it sounded like he’d just shouted “semen!” at a paying customer caused several people to turn and stare.

I thrust my scratch paper at him. “It’s on my list and I can’t read my own writing. What do you think it says?”

He frowned at it. “That says Semach, all right.”

“Thanks.” I took the paper back and watched as he continued ringing up my purchases.

All of a sudden, it dawned on me.

“Spinach!” I yelled as he grabbed a bag of it from my cart.

He looked at my spinach. “Yes. This is spinach.”

“No, no! Spinach is Semach. See?”

He looked at the list and shook his head. “Whatever you say.”

Satisfied the mystery was solved, I bagged up my groceries and headed home to make a meal that, as it turned out, included neither spinach nor Semach.

Incidentally, this is why I’ve never followed that common author habit of keeping a notepad on my nightstand and writing down brilliant ideas as they come to me in the middle of the night. If I can’t read things I’ve written in broad daylight with a clear head, I suspect any notes taken in a dark room with a sleep-addled brain would drive me to the brink of insanity the following morning.

Are you as neurotic about lists and notes as I am? Do you ever have trouble reading your own writing? Have you ever jotted anything brilliant in the middle of the night and later ended up writing about it? Please share!

I have a Semach salad to make. What sort of dressing do you think that calls for?


Claire Dawn said...

SO I was never ending up with spinach. Semacl, sernad, semadi, yes. Spinach, no. lol.

I should make lists. I'm the kind of person who goes to the supermarket for limes and leaves with $40 in groceries.


Shain Brown said...

You are one unique individual, I'm sure the mold was broken when they were done with you.

Maybe you should get one of those pocket recorders.

German Chocolate Betty said...

Actually my own lists are okay. My husband writes stuff on grocery lists that I can't decipher. At all. I have showed some of his stuff to colleagues and friends and they can't decipher them either. Your Semach would fit in there well -- of course, it help to make sense of "semach" when you at least have an idea of what you were planning on cooking (and can figure out what missing ingredient it might represent).

Unfortunately, with my huband's scratchings I have NO idea what he had in mind. I am getting better at it -- if I can just get the first letter I have an 80% chance of figuring out what it might be based on having learned what sort of things he generally notices are missing in the cupboard...but it's taken 6+ years to get this far. This morning he left me a note on the coffee maker which I absolutely couldn't decipher -- and which he later decrypted as "turn on again" because he'd turned the machine off halfway through -- but which appeared, even to my experienced eye, to be "burn off angles". WTF?????

Darrell B. Nelson said...

You need to use Frenech dressing on your Semech.

Linda G. said...

Okay, now that the semach/spinach mystery is solved, I want to know what condensed "cx" soup is. My imagination is running away with me.

I too never leave home without a list. Of course, sometimes I still come home without stuff that is plainly ON my list. Apparently you have to LOOK at a list once you get to the store for it to work.

Sarah W said...

I scribble notes all over everything. I can read my writing, most of the time, but I don't always remember *why* I wrote what I wrote.

On the back of the nearest envelope right now:

"M. does the thing with the jacket. V. is jealous."

Um, okay. What jacket thing? Is V. jealous of M.? Or the jacket?

"Bill Cameron"

Lovely man, good writer. And . . .?

"Beg for Making Waves ARC, pre-review post. Try puppy dog eyes."

Oh, wait -- I remember what that one's for.

German Chocolate Betty said...

LInda G wants to know what "cx" soup is (my guess, following my own abbreviations is "chicken"...).

But just to the right of Semach is something that looks like "Hot Lips"....???!

Michelle Wolfson said...

You actually have sort of neat hadwriting as far as I'm concerned, if somewhat little boy-ish. I can never read my own handwriting. Which doesn't dtop me nearly enough from writing everythign down.

My husband uses a schmancy shopping list app that rules his life. He seems to like it. I just stay out of the grocery store, and I like that.

Noelle Pierce said...

My handwriting is fairly neat, in the daytime, and I used to have a notebook on my nightstand...a habit I've long since abandoned. We have blackout curtains in our room, cover the alarm clocks with towels, and have electrical tape (y'know, the black kind) over every single electronic light display in the bedroom. There. is. no. light. So I'd really be fumbling in the dark. I'd write a word or two without a problem, then lift my hand and lose my place. In the morning, I had seven to ten notes jotted in the same place on the page. Not pretty.

And yeah, I use my iPod task/notes thing for groceries, or anything else I need. Or the little Dragon Naturally Speaking app so I can just do voice recordings. :D

Unknown said...

I'm also confused about the "hot lips" on the list - though if it means you are coming over to Sweden to get that specific coffee drink with me, I'm perfectly alright with the idea. ;) It's delicious (and fun to order!)

And yes, I write lists, but I rarely need to look at them. Somehow the act of writing it down means I remember it by heart.

Patty Blount said...

I love lists. I have lists of my lists. I can't write a word until I've listed characters, traits, flaws, goals, scenes.

But I have the world's worst handwriting. In fact, I no longer write in cursive because even I can't read it. I block print everything.

German Chocolate Betty said...

Oooooh, Malin, I think I figured out "Hot Lips" -- I'll bet it's "hot wings".

(It's elementary, Watson: what do you buy at the supermarket that starts with "hot" -- "hot sauce" is out, but if you look closely, that's a "W" following "hot", then "gs" -- ergo "Hot Wgs", voilà "Hot Wings"...

I have really developed a talent for this stuff, thanks to my hubby!

Matthew MacNish said...

So I officially hate you for living close enough to a Trader Joe's to actually shop there. I could WALK to the Trader Joe's near my house in Seattle. Now there is no way.

I often think of clever writing things in the middle of the night, and will get up to text or email them to myself. Rarely do they seem as clever the next day, but it has happened.

Laura Maylene said...

Ha ha ha. Sorry about the "ewwww," but it just so immediately jumped out at me as a combination of "semen" and "sumac." Semen that will give me an agonizing skin rash is NOT something I want to come across in a grocery story.

abby mumford said...

linda - CX is chicken.

tawna - i am a big fan of handwritten lists and it helps that i have the world's neatest handwriting. i'm trying to digitized things on my phone, but there's something so satisfying about scratching things off a list. although, i just moved from one apartment to another and having handwritten lists would have been a nightmare because everything was getting thrown into boxes, so the "springpad" app on my droid was beyond amazing.

Anonymous said...

You need a flashlight pen for the late-night inspirations.

It's perfect...one click is the pen, one more click adds the flashlight. Another click turns both off once the brilliant ideas have left your mind and reside on paper.

I have two (because while they are a great idea, they are never constructed well) by the bed and they've worked wonders :)

Christi Corbett

Judy,Judy,Judy. said...

The one time I can't live without lists is if I'm going to travel or do something of tremendous importance the next day.
In those cases, I write a list of everything I need to do otherwise I won't sleep for worrying about forgetting something important.
My handwriting used to be beautiful. Now I'm always in too much of a hurry.

Paige Kellerman said...

Love lists..and this post almost made me pee myself. Actually, I'm pretty sure I said that last time, so either you're really funny or I have bladder control issues..but I digress.

I make lists for everything. I have neat handwriting, so I can always read them. My only problem is forgetting the list when I leave the house. I've got lots of them lying around the house, sad and lonely.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Yeah, I'm a big list maker. (Unfortunately, that doesn't necessarily mean I always remember to take the darned lists WITH me when I head out the door!) I have my own abbreviations, too, which made my kids flip out years ago when they saw the word "pot" on my shopping list. (potatoes, of course!)


Glad you guys have enjoyed laughing at me :)

Linda G, German Chocolate Betty is exactly right, "cx" is chicken. It's an abbreviation I picked up working as a waitress many, many moons ago, but I've found few people outside the food industry who know what it means.

For those speculating about the Hot Lips reference, that's my grandmother's nickname. Her birthday is coming up this weekend, and since she's a big fan of all the nuts and dried fruit at Trader Joes, that was my note so I'd remember to buy her a few things.

Thanks for reading, everyone!


German Chocolate Betty said...

Ahaaaa. "Hot Lips" is Grandma. That explains a lot about you, Tawna.


Kristina said...

This is how I know I was born to be a teacher...I was able to decipher your penmanship, even without your help. Lol.

Allie Sanders said...

Aww Tawna, that's so horrible. I spent a lot of years working on my writing because I would never be able to read anything I wrote. I used to write in class and type it up later and spend hours agonizing over words. It was terrible.

And I'm one of those people who only make a list if I'm sending someone else for me. I almost always forget something when I go into the store by myself but still can't bring myself to make a list. They feel so...confining. Yes, I know I am strange. Besides, if I make a list I forget it at home or forget to bring a pen.

The Novel Road said...

With me it's drawing. If I freehand a plan for building something one day, I'm guaranteed to have a day of figuring out what it meant.
A friend of mine asked what a drawing I had pinned to my workshop project board.
"It's a chair", I said after a quick glance, though not really sure. It may have been a desk... or a floor plan to the Batcave?
"Are you going to make it?" He's smiling now knowing what I'm going to say.
"It's time hasn't come just yet", I then snatch the "plan" from him and put it in the 4" inch pile of plans to be deciphered at a later date.

Great post as always Tawna and if it turns out to be a chair I'll send it to you. From what I could tell from the drawing, it leans to one side... Great for listing?

All the Best,


Stephanie said...

LOL!! That was a great story!!!! I do have a notepad on my nightstand, but learned a very important lesson one night...it is imperative to actually turn on the light while jotting down notes. Yeah.....one morning, went to look at what I'd jotted down...could hardly even make out two words..and those were "a" and "the". Lesson learned.

Amanda C. said...

I must have similar handwriting, because I saw "spinach" right away! :)

ExMagistra said...

I am with you 100% about using written lists instead of electronic. I tried to use the grocery list app on my EVO and, just, no. Give me a pen and the back of a receipt or something and I'm good to go.

And I had "spinach" immediately, too. ;)

Kadi Easley said...

I got spinach after I discarded sammich as a non starter. I love to make lists. I love to put things on my lists just so I can cross them off, you know like stuff I've already done that would have been on the list if I hadn't done them before I started making the list.

Unknown said...

I'm sorry, Tawna, I was too busy wondering why you had "Hot Lps Stuff" scrawled at the bottom. Forget the semaches. Who needs them when we can shop for Hot Lp Stuff! LOL

Jason said...

I got spinach the third time I looked at that, but seriously, wow. :)

I'm with you on the not writing thing, especially in the middle of the night. I've thought about it, but I never wake up enough to make it worthwhile in the morning.

Now, if I had my cell and could send myself an email...