Friday, September 09, 2011

WeekWord: Disposition

Katy, over at Creating Misericordia, is hosting the Weekword, Disposition, which Katy has requested we use as a noun.

Here is the Merriam Webster student definition of Disposition.  I HATE definitions that use other forms of the same word; in my mind they are singularly unuseful.
Main Entry: dis·po·si·tion 
Pronunciation: secondarystressdis-pschwa-primarystresszish-schwan
Function: noun
1 : the act or power of disposing DISPOSAL
2 ARRANGEMENT 1  disposition of furniture in a room>
3 a : one's usual attitude or mood disposition> b : a leaning toward a particular way of thinking or acting TENDENCYINCLINATION  disposition to retreat> 

 I've written a chapter of a story, or a bit of it, for the WeekWord (the picture is an illo for the story--if you click on it, it will get bigger and you can see the background I designed for it):

Taming Uncle Beast
7th grade English, 2nd period, Tiny Lee Latham
            I am not sure which is worse, Uncle Beast's disposition, or mine.  Both of us have been growing fangs, and those fangs are yellowing and honing themselves to a razor-edge.  We are acquiring growls.  Roars.  Our eyes shoot flames.  We are both turning into ogres.  If I were writing a werewolf story, instead of the truth, I would say that the moon was full and the transformations were nearly complete. Picture saliva and blood dripping from our long, pointy fangs and you’ll get a pretty accurate idea of how we are behaving—and feeling—right now.
            We are at each other's throats.
            I almost think werewolves would be a relief compared to Uncle Beast and me.  (Okay, not really, I suppose.)
            Neither of us has slept for two nights.  We've been playing cards until we're bored out of our gourds.  Uncle Beast is staying awake in hopes I'll sleep and he can somehow sneak away for a beer somewhere.  Or find Pa's beer, which I have safely hidden.  I'm staying awake in hopes of preventing that very thing.  I’m almost ready to give up and tell him where I hid the beer, or let him sneak out to a bar.  If there are any bars open at 3:20 AM, which I doubt.
            In some ways, though, it's worse for Uncle Beast.  He is in the throes of withdrawal, Martin tells me. Martin Jakata is Beast’s court-assigned shrink.[1]  Martin has access to me via the cell phone the Fuzz[2] gave me to keep tabs on Uncle Beast.  He talks to me, not Uncle Beast.  He tries to calm me down when I get excited.  And of course, I am the go-between.  Beast refuses to speak in person to Martin.
            It's hard not to get “excited” when yr[3] exhausted.   (Excited might not be the right word here.  Or, maybe it is.  Tired but wired. (Excitement seems antithetical[4] to exhaustion, doesn’t it?)[5][6]
            Martin (for some reason, he told me to call him Martin rather than Dr. Jakata, which seemed weird at first, but now I'm used to it) told me that lack of sleep makes you stupid.  It makes you stupid temporarily (short-term memory loss) and causes permanent brain damage, that's what he said.
            I don't like the idea of my suffering permanent brain damage because Uncle Beast has turned into a monster.
            Martin says that Uncle Beast (he calls him Farley, or course), should be peaking about now in his withdrawal, and that things will get easier.  Why does that seem so unlikely?  I guess because I'm so exhausted and Beast is so beastly that imagining anything good is difficult.  Really difficult!
            This is all happening because the court disposition gave Uncle Beast to us.  And Ma and Pa gave him to me.  To me.  I'm 13.  I'm in the seventh grade.  I'm not supposed to go days without sleep.  I feel like no one cares.  They care more about Beast than about me.
            I wish I were a cave woman with a big club and knew just where to hit Uncle Beast to make him pass out without actually hurting him.  But maybe that's only in the cartoons.
            I wish I had a pill I could give him that would restore his sunny disposition.  To tell you the truth, I can hardly remember that he used to be fun and funny.
            Right now, I am waiting outside the bathroom door.  I'm listening for the little sounds that means he's in there, doing what he's supposed to do in there, and not climbing out the bathroom window.
            I can hear him cursing under his breath, so he's still in there.  I want to sit on the floor.  I want to lie down.  I want to close my eyes, but the only way to stay awake and keep tabs on Uncle Beast is to stand up.  I can't even lean on the door.
            Wait, is that the window I hear, inching up?

Tiny Lee Latham (Mary Stebbins Taitt)

[1] ok, he’s a psychologist, I think, or maybe a psychiatrist, I’m not sure.  I should ask him.  But I have the right, as the author of this memoir, to choose to call him a shrink when I’m tired, so don’t take off for it, please.
[2] yeah, yeah, I know, it would be more polite to call them the police, especially since they are trying to help us—or, help Beast, anyway.  But I’m tired, and Fuzz is better than “pigs” and some of the other things Beast has been calling them, which I can’t turn in in a paper for 7th grade!
[3] “yr,” in this case, equals “you are.”  Don’t take off for it, Teach, because I am using it to indicate exhaustion.
[4] ha ha, I used a big word.  The thesaurus helped me find it.  And yes, I do know what it means:  direction opposed or contrasted (as in opposite of), mutually incompatible.
[5] Ms X, please advise, I’m confused about when it’s appropriate to use “parenthetical remarks” and when I should use footnotes.
[6] I probably should NOT address you directly, should I?  Don’t take off for that.

And, of course, a bit of doggerel from the rhyming words offered at the end of the definition:

Disposition Doggerel  Poem #1:  
A Cheery Disposition Requires Good Nutrition

I have an admonition that’s worth some repetition
If you prefer good disposition avoid all malnutrition.
You’ll need some ammunition to form a coalition
to retain a dietician to write to a politician
to use his erudition to make a requisition
to get some great nutrition for all with inanition.  

This bit of doggerel (above) refers to the definition of disposition as mood or inclination.  The doggerel bit below refers to the definition of disposition as arrangement or disposal.  (As in the disposition of a will.)  (I will refrain from commenting further.)  :-(

Disposition Doggerel poem #2:
A Will’s Dark Disposition leads to Inanition

Greed’s antithetical to manumission; that’s surely no superstition
We could use a rescue mission if it contained a proposition
that would could save us from commission of miserly competition.
It leads to opposition and the lust for acquisition.
Any statistician could illuminate the supposition
that a will’s dark disposition leads to imposition and inanition.


John said...

Excellent Mary, all of it. Super story and poems.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Thanks, John--the poems are kind of silly and goofy, but then again, they're supposed to be. I could seem to write a real serious poem about this word.