About fourteen years ago, my first annual experience with mildly strange but definitely noticeable coincidences involved the Cherokee language. Late one Friday night, out of nowhere, I found myself wondering how the Cherokee said the name of their language, and what it sounded like in general.
So I dialed up the Internet (“skrreeeeeeee-derreeeeeeee-aawwwwwww-weeeee-awp”) and looked it up. (Maybe I was onto Google by then, but it could have been, you know, AltaVista or something.) “Tsalagi” was the word I found. Phonetically, it makes sense.
I went to sleep that night, as was my habit at the time, with the radio on low volume and tuned to WUTC 88.1FM.
The first sound I heard upon re-entering consciousness was the tune “Amazing Grace” being sung in a foreign language. I thought nothing of it, until a couple of moments later I heard “Rabbit” back-announcing the piece as, yeah, “Amazing Grace.”
Sung by a Cherokee group, in their native language.
A couple years later, I began to realize that multiple, but insignificant, similar occurrences with concepts, words, or phrases happened around the same time every year. I didn’t know what to make of it. I would forget all about it until it started happening again, around late July or early August.
Still more years later, I became familiar with the Perseids, an annual meteor shower. Funnily enough, this spectacular cosmic light show occurs right around the same time as the annual emergence of my unexplained…awarenesses.
(I can’t really explain in words why I included this image, but there is a reason.)
The unanswered question is: did my brain quietly start to expect something of this nature after my jolting experience with the Cherokee spoken language? Or is there something to the fact that, every year around this time, I start to pick up on multiple encounters with never-before-seen words, or the same phrase suddenly showing up in more than one context?
I don’t know. It may just be that I’m not all there. But, for what it’s worth, here are some of the words from this year’s episode.
Konnichiwa - A guy at work was talking about his upcoming visit to Japan, and he is very excited. As we were leaving the lunch area, I thought to wish him well on his trip, but as it’s a month away, I was torn between saying so too early, and thought of just saying “see you later” instead. In my indecision, I said nothing.
"Konichiwa," a voice in my head said as I approached the stairs. Instantly, I began an internal conversation about a) why that word would have showed up (other than that it sounds Japanese), and 2) whether or not it was a real word—and if so, what in the world it meant.
So I pulled out my phone and searched Google as I walked back to my desk. I learned the correct spelling (2 N’s) and that it means “Good afternoon.” Oh. I should have just told him to have a good afternoon.
Shrovetide - This past Monday, I was doing a New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle—but not from this past Sunday, rather from some random Sunday edition of the Chattanooga Times Free Press (June 17; I checked after starting this post), and was intrigued by the clue “Shrovetide pancakes.” I didn’t know what “Shrovetide” meant.
A couple days later, this tweet from J.R. Lind showed up (and stood out, naturally) in my feed:
Owl City - To me, this was an all-but-forgotten pop music act, but I was reminded of them when I was walking into the house the other night amid an abundance of fireflies. “I wonder what ever happened to them,” I thought.
The next day, I was looking through the new (to me) “Discover” features in the Shazam iPhone app, and the song that jumped out at me from the list was by…Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen.
There have been a couple more. It was the Shrovetide tweet on Tuesday night that made me remember “Oh yeah. August. Perseids.”
Yeah. I’m probably crazy. And pretty soon I’m going to forget all about this.
Until next year.