The Dilemna Dilemma.

I hated English in school, and I don’t expect that my blog follows the rules of the AP Stylebook – like, ever. I have endless grammar quirks that I am positive make my journalist friends secretly despise me.

However, I have always been a fantastic speller. I’m convinced that spelling is something you’re born with or you’re not – my brain visualizes words as I think them, and I carefully store the correct spelling of every word away in a permanent file.

I specifically remember learning how to spell “dilemna” as a child. I remember pronouncing the “na” in my head every time I wrote it to remind myself that it possessed an m-silent-n instead of a double-m, which would have made much more sense. I still pronounce the “na” every time I write dilemna (just like when I write lbs., I hear it in my head as “labels.”)

It was a couple of years ago when I first realized that the correct spelling was actually was dilemma.

It was disturbing, but I assumed that it was just one of those words with dual correct spellings and moved on. I learned it dilemna and I preferred dilemna, but I could adapt to dilemma just as I had adapted to single spacing after a sentence.

However, without reason, it recently began gnawing at my soul. What happened to the dilemna as I knew it? Why wouldn’t my spellcheck acknowledge this alternate spelling that I purposefully learned as a child? My trick for spelling “delim-na” was as burned into my brain as mentally pronouncing “Wed-nes-day” and “Feb-are-you-airy.”

So I Googled it. “Dilemna or Dilemma?”

I was overjoyed to find a website devoted entirely to this predicament –

It quickly informed me that I was one of tens of thousands (and maybe millions) of people with this same dilemma about dilemma. Then they completely shot down my first theory of why.

“It turns out Dilemna has NEVER EVER been spelled with an N… Worse yet, there’s not even a passing mention in any dictionary going back hundreds of years offering it as a possible alternative spelling.”


They continued on to explain that there’s really no good explanation for why we are all so convinced that it should be dilemna – most common misspellings take place because our brains want to spell them the way they sound, but why would our brains add in a silent n? And why would so many people’s brains do it over a vast range of ages?

There isn’t a reason.

Could thousands of teachers have taught us all an incorrect spelling that wasn’t cited in any dictionary or textbook, influencing literally every generation of people alive on this earth today?

Quite unlikely.

After thoroughly debunking any possible explanation for The Dilemna Anomaly, they presented what they said was the only theory that made sense: The Alternate Universe Theory.

“Alternate universe enthusiast Marden Paul of Toronto put forward a theory several years ago that Dilemna people had all somehow crossed over into this parallel ‘Dilemma’ spelling universe and that’s why they feel physically staggered to discover that not only are they wrong but there’s also no trace of an N spelling anywhere in any dictionary in the history of this new universe!”

“Perhaps this alternate universe transition explains why many do feel slightly ‘shaken‘ when they make this discovery.”

They continued on with an entire page devoted to explaining how I am actually from an alternate universe, where children are correctly taught that dilemna is dilemna.

I read it. I pondered it. I spent most of my time puzzling over how very inefficient it is to have alternate universes just for the varying spellings of one word. It’s like printing a second page just because Page One ran out of room for the period at the end of my final sentence.

I pondered longer.

And I did the next logical step.

I called my Mommy.

It went like this.


“Hi Mom! Spell ‘dilemma’.”

“What? You’re the speller of the family. And you have spellcheck.”

“That’s not the point. Spell it.”

“But you know I’ve never been a good speller.”



“Really? THAT’S what you’re going with?”

“Yes. Why?”

“I just needed to know if you came over with me from the Alternate Universe. Apparently you did not.”

My mother and I proceeded into a heartfelt and private exchange where I explained to her that I was not her true daughter, and apologized for any deception on my part, albeit completely without my knowledge.

Since I homeschooled, my mother must have taught me the dilem-na trick. However, my current-universe mother can’t spell dilemma right in this universe or my parallel, so it clearly wasn’t her that taught me the “NA” trick. Which means that when I did slip through the keyhole, I left my original mother behind.

I spent a quiet moment mourning the loss of Original Mother, and wondered if she could spell better than New Mother…

Which brought up the most puzzling question: what happened to the Dilemma-Universe-Rachel? Because New Mother certainly seems legit in her claim to me, and since the swap didn’t happen until after I learned to spell, we all would have realized something was amiss if everything else wasn’t identical. Did Other Rachel slip through the rift at the exact same time, into the Dilemna Universe? Is she now wondering why she desperately wants to write dilemma when everyone knows there’s a silent n? Is Old Mother constantly frustrated at Rachel’s inability to properly spell dilemna?

I feel bad for her. Because I know how it feels to be an alien.

140824c Observation

I’m now considering starting a support group. I feel that all of us Dilemna Universe Migrants should bond together so we have someone to talk to about The Old Country. Where ns were silent and ms didn’t gang up together to confuse. Where our mothers had tricks to help us learn to spell important words and didn’t brush us off to spellcheck. Where there was never a dilemna about the spelling of dilemna.

Late in the evening on the day I discovered my origins, Chris and I were sitting on the couch, cuddling and talking. I was afraid of his answer – afraid it would change everything – but I had to know. I couldn’t go on with the question burning the inside of my skull.

I tried to sound casual.

“Hey babe, how do you spell dilemma?”

“You mean ‘dilem-na’?”

I jumped into his arms and passionately hugged him , then squealed into his ear, “We’re from the same universe!!!!”

And that, most likely, is why I have always loved him so.

And now I must know. Which universe are you from? I’ll try not to let it alter our relationship.

A Brief History of Football and Offspring.

My husband has had the same Alabama football season tickets since he was a wee lad of 13, making this his 25th anniversary to sit his butt in that same spot on that same bench every fall. It became a necessary relational hurdle for me to learn to enjoy/tolerate (depending on the day) the sport and the all-day affair that was tailgating in order for our romance to blossom. I became his football companion when he was 23 and I was 17, making this year my butt’s 15th anniversary on my spot on the bench, so apparently I passed the test.

And I remember that test well.

It was The Iron Bowl of 2000, shortly after Chris and I got engaged. It had been a particularly frigid November, and Saturday’s forecast was a mix of rain and sleet.

It was the first Iron Bowl I had attended (Alabama versus Auburn and THE most important game of the year, for those of you not from around here), and the game was at night.

The temperature creeped above freezing half an hour before the game, allowing it to dump a good bit of nearly frozen rain on us, soaking our clothing beyond repair. I get cold if I get rained on in a 90-degreed-July day, so getting doused in 33 degree precipitation was something I didn’t even know I could live through.

Then the temperature dropped below freezing again and the sleet began to coat over our dripping clothes, adding a crunchy texture to the already-torturous situation.

I assumed that surely we would not sit through a game in such untenable conditions. Surely we would leave early. Surely they would cancel the game. Surely there was some sort of multi-million dollar retractable stadium roof for such a hell as this.

But no. It was The Iron Bowl, and one does not leave The Iron Bowl. We sat, wet and icicled, and endured the torment of being sleeted upon.

I hunched my back as far as it would go, looked down the entire game, and nearly died that night.

Did I mention that we lost? NINE TO ZERO.

Because there’s nothing that can improve the mood of the frozen fan like a bone-crushing defeat.

I was entirely angry at my normally above-average sweet-and-doting fiancé, but it was an important lesson in expectations with regards to the realm of football. A lesson from which our marriage certainly benefited.

I married that guy anyway, and six years later, we had a kid.

We realized quickly that infants are complicated enough on their own merit, so Ali’s introduction to the family tradition didn’t happen until 2008, at the ripe age of 20 months.


It was even more challenging that we expected.

There are naps. Feedings. Dirty Diapers. A constant need for entertainment and protection from running into the street. A vigilant eye so as to not get lost in the more than 100,000 people all dressed in exactly the same colors – trying to spot anyone on gameday in Tuscaloosa is like Where’s Waldo for Mensa members.

In 2009, at the mature age of two and a half, it was better.


She was a little more self-sustaining, although the need for entertainment was still ever-present, and I fought hard to make naptime happen – even while tailgating.

After all, naptimes are for Mommies.

(If I ever write a book, that will be the title.)

It should also be noted that things you would think would be thrilling for a nearly three year old are actually terrifying.


(Which makes them kinda more fun for parents.)

In 2010 we had an almost-four year old. She could go without naps if needed (although Mommies never quit needing naptime – there’s my sequel), and was much more self-entertaining, considering she had to hang out all day long under a football tent.


…but by then, another addition was imminent. You can’t see him in this picture, but he was there. Waiting for football season to end so that he could make his appearance.


Which brings us to 2011.

Ali was fully and beautifully self-propelled by then – an expert nut-collector,






And literary British-Waif wannabe.


But the addition.


Oh, the addition. We were back to the need for naps, nursing, poop disposal systems, and motherly exhaustion. And by this time, my quiet-room-naptime-options had been stripped from me due to a need for greater campus security, thanks to dishonorable and perhaps not-so-sober tailgaters.

I did miss naptime. Tremendously. But I tried my best to hide it for photographs, anyway.

2011e (2)

In 2012, we upgraded “High-Maintenance Baby” to “Nearly Two-Year-Old Boy Who Made us Jettison our Morals and Buy a Leash to Keep From Losing Him in the Throngs of Identically Dressed Fans.”


And naptime was…still a need. For everyone.


(Except Ali, who had by now mastered the art of Dirt Bathing.)

With 2013 came even older children,


With slightly more concentration – both pre-game and in the game.


…But we still smiled with relief when we left the children behind and attended a game on our own.


The 2014 football season has now arrived. And with it, we have an almost eight-year-old and an almost four-year-old.




They’re self-entertained.


They spend their tailgating day making dirt piles,


Then turning them into haboobs,

Haboob Slo-Mo on Make A Gif

Digging for breathtaking and one-of-a-kind buried treasure,


And if they get tired, they simply lie down.


Whether in tailgate or in bleachers.


They even pose for selfies. VOLUNTARILY.


But you’ll always be able to find it in my eyes after a long day of tailgating and football – Mommies never quit needing naptimes.


Doilies Aren’t Shorts.

I know that summer is almost over (or very over) in some parts of the United States. Those of you in South Dakota and Colorado have already seen…snow??


However, we have at least another month, maybe two, of wearing shorts, getting sunburned, and sweating our brains out.

Especially at football games.

Saturday was no exception, and although I’ll have to wait until later in the season to do my annual Alabama Football Fashion Report (I require several Gamedays to gather a full spectrum of sample data), one trend was disturbingly apparent.

This year’s sorority uniform includes a heavy dose of Doilies as Shorts.

Thick, crocheted lace shorts that look like a craft project from Valentine’s decorations bought from Party City’s clearance bin in late March. Although I’ve been seeing them all summer around town, in the official uniform seen on Saturday they were worn with a severely unharmonious frat party t-shirt or a football jersey. I’m sure when Autumn does roll around, they’ll simply add their Ugg boots to the outfit to complete the discord.

This was the most oft-seen design, although see-through ones were also in great abundance.

Doilies as Shorts{Source: Express}

Sometimes the layers were so thick that it was hard to discern if the intention was shorts or an extraordinarily tiny skirt.

doily shorts{Source: Open Sky}

In black, they became casket-skirt ready. Do they put skirts around caskets? Of course they do.

doily shorts block{Source: Open Sky}

And the backside looked more like a Christmas Tree after the Grinch robbed it of its color.

Shorts{Source: Wet Seal}

If there were ever an appropriate time for me to say “I can’t even”, it is now.

Because I’ve spent the better part of the last five years fighting long butt, when all of a sudden this lacy shorts trend wants to come along and create a whole new fight: long crotch.

IMG_1084{Source: HauteLook}

Long, long, granny-panties-marries-granny-panties-and-has-an-inbred-granny-panties-baby long crotch.

No, please – no.

Let’s talk about where crochet can and should go:

1. Tablecloths.
2. Fancy curtains.
3. Baby Bonnets, if you’re into that sort of thing.
4. Shirts even – but maybe not in the form of the Bustier pictured above.
5. A doily for the back of your grandmother’s commode.
6. Maybe even swimsuit cover-ups, but I’d avoid any unfortunate targeting.

IMG_1078{Source: HauteLook}


Now let’s talk about where crochet doesn’t belong.

On your shorts.

That is all.

Clearly a good portion of the population disagrees with me. Are you one of them?