Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Grammarous Life, Take I.

This is my first-ever blog entry. True story. I've never written a blog before. I’ve never even really been successful at keeping a diary. But, like everyone else and her sister, I think I have really insightful signposts to add to the information superhighway. So here I am.

Let’s see, since this is our first time together, what should you know about me? I’m a 71-year-old, chain-smoking retired drycleaner who collects figurines from “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and subsists solely on Spam sandwiches.

Not really. That would’ve been cool though, wouldn’t it? In reality, I’m 34-years-old. I don’t smoke. I don’t even take my clothes to the drycleaners. Okay, I do, but it’s an organic drycleaner. “Omigod,” you’re thinking, “she’s one of those.” Kind of. I do what I can, but that’s not much. I replaced one of the 54 can lights in my house with a fluorescent bulb and I’m still trying to decide if I like how it sticks down farther than the other ones. So, yeah, I’m not exactly hard-core green. I bought one of those tote bags you’re supposed to take to the grocery store so you don’t kill the earth by using a paper or plastic bag (which one AM I supposed to pick anyway? I never know…) but I keep forgetting to take it with me. I drive a Lexus sedan – not exactly a gas-guzzling SUV, but it’s no Prius either. I think recycling is GREAT. But I haven’t exactly gotten around to that yet. Geez, I thought I did some stuff to help the Earth…what the hell do I do? Oh, I know. I turn off the lights every time I leave a room and I only use water when I absolutely need it (like, for example, when I absolutely NEED to fill my 100 gallon tub and relax with a glass of wine and a New Yorker).

I digress. What else do you need to know about me? I have a Ph.D. in Human Communication (I’ll ‘splain what that means in the big scheme of things later). I taught at a private university for 7 years before leaving to pursue freelance editing and, ultimately, open my own media development firm, which is what I do now. It’s been fun, but also really, really crazy, stressful and frustrating to try to run my own biz. Actually, I co-own it with my business partner. We’ll call him Bartlett (the kid loves pears). And, yes, he is a kid. It’s pretty crazy being in business with someone so young: he’s 23. But, he is so incredibly talented at what he does and he’s pretty mature for his age (most of the time). He is also, however, unbelievably unorganized. This is a fact that does not go unnoticed by someone as anal retentive as myself.

Let's see, what else should you if you are to be a reader of my blog? I’m a pretty gregarious person and I tend to have pretty strong opinions and I will stand up for the things (and people) I believe in. My friends mostly use one word to describe me: passionate. I think that’s pretty cool. As my best friend said in her speech at my wedding, I’m passionate about my husband, I’m passionate about my friends, and I’m passionate about chocolate. That about sums it up! I expect a lot from people, but I give a lot, too.

Oh, I almost forgot the most important thing. Why "grammargirl"? I think I'll leave you in suspense until my next blog...

Bye for now. I'm off to live the grammarous life.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Grammargirl to the Rescue

So, why "grammargirl" you ask? Since this is an anonymous blog, I can tell you that I am actually a superhero who flies around correcting people's grammar. HA- I wish (is that possible? I should look into that). No, but I am genuinely - ok, I'll admit it - obsessed with grammar. It's not so much that I'm obsessed with diagramming sentences (although doing so would get me more excited than, say, watching football). It's more that, frankly, the poor grammar of the majority of the people in this country frightens the bejeezus out of me.

Perhaps this stems partly (or mostly) from my upbringing, but it is my belief that how you speak communicates your level of intelligence. Would you agree? I think most people would. So, why are so many people ok with sounding (nicely put) unintelligent? The thing that really frightens me is that it has gotten much, much worse over the last decade or so. I can say without exaggeration that I literally cannot go one day without being confronted with atrocious grammar. It's everywhere: at the gym, at work, on the radio and tv, on the internet (this may be the worst of them all!). And I'm not even talking about poor grammar from the perspective of insanely high standards here; I'm talking about people who do not know when to use "me" versus "I" in a sentence. Isn't that one of the most basic things we learned in the 3rd or 4th grade or sometime? I'm talking about people who use "myself" for all references to themselves because they think it makes them sound smarter. It doesn't. The list is truly endless. But, the most flagrant and common culprit - the one that plagues me daily as well as my friends and family members who are fellow grammarians (yes, there are some!) - is the apostrophe. Oh, apostrophe. Remember the day when you were used only to make words possessive? Now you are flung about with such careless abandon like cheap tinsel on a Christmas tree.

True story. I had a friend in college - let's call her Amy - (by the way, in case my fellow grammarians are reading this, I am well aware that I should be using em-dashes with no space rather than hyphens with a space, but the creators of this blog apparently don't know what em-dashes are, so I am relegated to this). Anyhoo, Amy was soooo bad at English that she used to ask me to edit her papers for her and I would have to sit down with her and say, "Amy, I can't even edit this paragraph because it is so bad that I do not understand what you are trying to say." She would explain it to me and then I could edit it.

Today, Amy is a junior high English teacher. Now that I look back on it, perhaps it's my fault. Had I not edited her papers so perfectly, she would have failed English and not been allowed to become a teacher! Dammit.

So, I could talk about this for hours (seriously, ask my husband), but I'll end here. From now on, though, I want to do my little part to try to make the world a smarter place. So, I'm going to end each blog with a grammar tip. Do with it what you will (although, what I hope you will do is pass them along to everyone you know and they will all do the same. Come on, is that asking too much?).
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grammargirl's grammar tip of the day:
How do you know whether to say "me" or "I"? Easy!

Incorrect: Me and Joe went to the store.
Correct: Joe and I went to the store.
Remember: Whether you use "I" or "me" does not change simply b/c you add a second person. You wouldn't say "Me went to the store" would you?

Incorrect: The vacation was good for Rob and I.
Correct: The vacation was good for Rob and me.
Remember this: "I" am too important to go at the end of the sentence.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Allow Myself to Myself Myself

Myself and myself's friend Cindy took myself's dog to myself's favorite ice cream store last weekend. Myself had the chocolate chip cookie dough; Cindy tried myself's ice cream and liked it better than her own! Myself even gave a lick to myself's dog, Flicka. She was very grateful to myself for sharing myself's ice cream with her. This was a new ice cream place, one that myself had never tried before. Myself and Cindy will definitely go again - myself enjoyed it very much!

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grammargirl's grammar tip of the day
Figure this one out on your own!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Forget Paris

I made a decision two weeks ago. I will never again read a gossip rag. As average people go, I did not read them all that much anyway, so it wasn’t a hard decision. Mostly I partook at the gym, where they were free, when I needed “light reading material” (HA! I can’t even believe I just wrote that with a straight face) because I was bouncing up and down on the elliptical. Nonetheless, the fact that I did not read them all that much does not detract from the realization that hit me that these things are trash and they were filling my brain with garbage and I wanted no more of it. So, I’m done. I made a conscious decision to never read a trashy celeb mag again. That includes all of ‘em: Us Weekly, In Touch, OK!, People (yes, people, People is a gossip rag. This is NOT real news), and the rest of the lot of ‘em.

I am a well-read individual. I have a Ph.D. for crying out loud, so what was I doing reading this crap to begin with? I got sucked in just like everyone else (Oh, and I soooo hate to be just like everyone else! Ick.). I have read some of the most important novels of our time and my favorite magazine is the New Yorker. The realization of the irony in that or, perhaps, the blatant absurdity of the clash of cultures is one of the things that led me to this decision.

The other thing, though, was a vacation I took recently. I vacationed with several of my girlfriends and while having the opportunity to hang out and converse with them for longer than usual, I realized that hardly any of my girlfriends can carry on a conversation for longer than 10 minutes without comparing something in that conversation to some celebrity. “It’s just like when Brad dumped Jen for Angelina” or “Can you believe that Scarlett Johansen was dating Jared Leto?” or “I cannot believe Nicole Kidman took Keith Urban back after he cheated on her and went to rehab!” Half the time, there was a tenuous, if any, connection between the celebrity talk and our own conversation.

Mind you, these are normally intelligent, articulate, successful women, prone to displays of sheer disgust, anger, or even delight at the behavior of celebrities—people they do not know. What’s even more disturbing is that they talk about them as if they DO know them! They are on a first name basis with some of these people and they talk about aspects of their personality as if they have first-hand knowledge. To one person’s “Can you believe…” comment, another will say, “Well, she’s always been a jealous person.” REALLY?? How would you know that exactly? You and Madonna hang out a lot, do you? Yours and Gwyneth’s kids have playdates at Chuck E. Cheese?

It all became too much. It was on that flight home when I decided I would not subject my own brain to any more. No more garbage.

We all have pretty interesting, fulfilling lives if we would live them instead of being so wrapped up in what other people are doing with theirs. I wish my girlfriends would realize this so that we could start to talk about things that matter, like politics (do any of them even know who the nominees are for the two parties? Do they care?) or the environment. For now, I guess I’ll have to settle for being out of the loop at our next get-together, when the rest of them are talking about whose cellulite looked worse on the cover of the Enquirer.

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grammargirl's grammar tip of the day

The word is "frustrated" not "fustrated."
The word is "ecstatic" not "estatic."

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Jeez Whiz

I’m one of those “healthy eaters.” The thing that is always hilarious to me is the stigma that this carries with it. Somehow, I’m the weird one because I choose not to live life in the drive-through lane at McDonald’s. People think it’s unfathomable that I haven’t been on a diet in over half a lifetime (because, see, if you eat healthy all the time, you don’t have to diet! It’s a crazy concept, I know).

Don’t get my wrong, as you’ll likely read in many of my posts, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who loves chocolate, donuts, and birthday cake more than I do. But because I eat healthy most of the time, I get to have these things once a week! That’s pretty good by my count. But what kills me is that people honestly give me weird looks when I tell them this his how I eat (nay, live my life). They look at my like I’ve just told them I collect mold, spores, and fungus for fun. Seriously. It’s somehow much more normal in this country to fill your body with crap, complain to your friends about how fat your ass is, and then starve yourself to “lose those last 5 pounds” and then gain back 7 of them. Hey, if that’s your bag, that’s cool with me, but why am I the freak, exactly?

Not only does being a “healthy eater” carry with it this stigma, but the other thing that I find funny is how most people define “healthy eating.” I have found that there are two categories of people who mistakenly define what healthy eating is. First, there are the people who think if you buy it at Wild Oats or Whole Foods, it’s healthy. Dude, their cookies don’t have pesticides, but THEY HAVE SUGAR. Their fried rice may not have MSG or transfats, but it’s still FRIED rice.

The second category of people who mistakenly define healthy eating is comprised of the infamous vegetarian: people who think that not eating meat means they are eating healthy. Now, I am fully (seriously, vegans, please read this sentence before angrily posting to my blog) aware that there are many, many vegetarians who choose not to eat meat for moral reasons or simply because they don’t like it. And, yes, it is true that certain meat is not healthy for you. However, avoiding meat alone does not mean you are a healthy eater.

Case in point: I was recently on a vacation with nine of my girlfriends. Well, actually, it was seven of my girlfriends and two girls brought by one of my friends. So, this girl—the friend of my friend—who I had just met this weekend, tells me that she, too, is a healthy eater as she is walking out of the kitchen with a heaping plate of fettucine alfredo and a bag of Tostitos.

Oh, and prior to her leaving the kitchen, here was our exchange.
Her: “Oh my gosh, you’ve got to try this Cheez Whiz on these Tostitos; it’s sooo good.”
Me: “Oh, no thanks, I’m good.”
Her: “Seriously, it’s really awesome.”
Me: “Actually, I’m one of those [air quotes] healthy eaters, so I don’t eat Cheez Whiz.”
Her: “[Incredulous laugh] It’s cheese in a can – How unhealthy can it be??”

Okay, stop right there. If you aren’t laughing right now, you did not read that last sentence closely enough. It’s cheese in a can, how unhealthy can it be?? Are you kidding? She wasn’t. If you don’t think cheese in a can is unhealthy, what DO you think is unhealthy? Words fail me.

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grammargirl's grammar tip of the day

Apostrophes 101
Do NOT use an apostrophe to make a word plural!. ONLY use an apostrophe if a word is possessive (i.e., someone or something owns/possesses something).

Incorrect: I want to order five pizza's.
Correct: I want to order five pizzas.

Incorrect: I only work out on Monday's.
Correct: I only work out on Mondays.
Using an apostrophe here would mean that Monday owns something on which you are working out, to which I would reply "You only work out on Monday's what? Sounds painful."

Remember it like this: PLural = PLain A POSessive = APOStrophe