Are My Blackouts in the Past?

I?m used to strange things happening to me. I seem to be traveling through this life slightly off-center, with odd little happenings that have only increased in frequency as I?ve gotten older.

But this one is just goofy, and I don?t understand it. Even though I?m a writer, even though I’m a journalist and editor?even though I?m a [i]certified English teacher[/i]?for reasons I can?t account for, I have this weird mental block, this strange case of the yips, regarding the difference between [I?m used to strange things happening to me. I seem to be traveling through this life slightly off-center, with odd little happenings that have only increased in frequency as I?ve gotten older.

But this one is just goofy, and I don?t understand it. Even though I?m a writer, even though I’m a journalist and editor?even though I?m a [i]certified English teacher[/i]?for reasons I can?t account for, I have this weird mental block, this strange case of the yips, regarding the difference between [i]past[/i] and [i]passed[/i].

Intellectually, I realize that [i]past[/i] has essentially four main uses:

As an adjective ? I watched 70 Yankee games in the past year.

As a noun ? The past is the past. It?s time to move forward.

As an adverb ? The cars drove past.

As a preposition ? Joe is past the point of help. He?s a gonner.

And I also realize that [i]passed[/i] means:

As a verb – The Yankees passed the Mets in public favor with their very excellent playoff position (woo hoo!).

As an adjective ? Jerome is a passed student (i.e., he successfully completed the course).

(In all fairness, I ?know? all this because I just looked it up!)

And yet no matter how many times I refer to these points on [i]past[/i] and [i]passed[/i], when I?m writing, I hardly ever get it right. It drives me crazy! I just have this mental block?a case of the writing yips?that I can?t seem to overcome. (Notice I didn?t say, I can?t seem to get [i]past[/i] it?because my brain won?t let me know if I did it right!).

Even when I did my student teaching, I had to present the lesson on [i]past[/i] and [i]passed[/i] with the teacher?s version of the textbook, and even then I was barely holding on!

It?s the spazziest thing, I know, and yet it?s real. For whatever reason, my brain hears the word [i]past[/i] or [i]passed[/i]?or sees it written?and goes … [i]uh? What, uh … what am I supposed to do with this? Is it alien?[/i]

I’ll be writing, and then I’ll write something like, [i]and no matter how many times Roy passed the station, he felt a tug of sentimentality[/i]. And then I’ll think … wait, how many times Roy [i]passed[/i]? Or [i]past[/i]? No, no, it’s [i]passed.[/i] Right? Isn’t it? No, wait, wait, wait, it’s [i]past[/i]. No, it’s [i]passed[/i]. Right. It’s [i]passed[/i]. Definitely [i]passed.[/i] … Is it [i]passed[/i]? Is it [i]past[/i]? To the point that neither word has any meaning to me anymore and I’m yanking my hair out!

Arrghh!!

I realize this isn?t quite the end of the world, but as a writer, journalist and English teacher, it?s difficult for me to comprehend or accept. So what do I do? After several bouts with this madness, I?ve chosen to just let it go, and let the copy editors deal with it.

I don?t typically let my responsibilities fall on others, but the amount of time it takes and Agata it gives me to futz with these words until I get them right simply outweighs my desire to overcome the problem. So I just shake my head, shrug my shoulders and chalk it up to one of those things.

Weird.

(For another case of my yips, go the [i]Philosophy, Myth and Culture[/i] section of the Message Board, with a bizarre story about my experiences as a young golfer).

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/10/24 05:40

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