Tag Archives: writing

Thank You, “Weird Al” Yankovic, For Your Lesson In Grammar


Mike said to me today, “You’re getting a little snippier every day since you’ve been pregnant.”

I said, “I don’t know if it’s me being snippy. I just feel less willing to tolerate people’s idiocy.”

Remember Crank-Ass Erica? I guess she’s still here.  With that said, this country’s decline in grammar/punctuation/speaking/writing skills is truly disheartening to me, and I wonder where we’ll be in 10, even 5 years. Frankly, it horrifies me.

Will we all be vegetables with smart phones in our hands relying on squiggly red underlines to tell us that we’re idiots–and then will we simply ignore those squiggly red lines and use single letters to denote actual words? I fear the answer is yes.

I’m currently rereading Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, and I find myself enamored with the language and the grand language of each of the characters. Though the Bennets are not of the highest society, they still sound refined.  Hell, Elizabeth is witty enough to keep up her banter with Darcy–and that is a task in itself.

When I was in elementary school, I became insanely jealous of Jillian Rhoad (anyone know where she is?) when she showed up with “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Bad Hair Day.” I wanted it. I wanted all the songs on it. I thought it was clever and wonderful, and truth be told, it made me want an accordion. “Weird Al” has been kind of MIA of late, but in the past two days, I’ve read about two of his songs:  “Tacky” – the “Happy” parody and “Word Crimes” – the “Blurred Lines” parody, which is directly below this word.

At first, I was just thrilled that “Weird Al” was back. I f*cking love this guy.

But most importantly, I was hit with the very stark realization that when a guy named “Weird Al” has to step in to tell all the people on the Internet that they sound like morons, the world should take it as a sign that it’s time to start improving the way we speak and write. As a country and as a species, our communication skills truthfully make us look like a bunch of uncouth, barbaric slobs.

So I posted this on Facebook earlier, and now I’m putting the call to improve on my blog.


Let’s get better, America!

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Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Daily Happenings


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I Need a Challenge…

Header-01Lately, I’m so impressed by (and jealous of) the passion that folks around me have for writing.  My friend Ally has been writing for 20+ days straight and is working on so many projects.

My friend Chris has been doing writing exercises trying to better himself.

There are people I encounter in the blogosphere that are driven to do great things with words and are hungry for guidance and advice.

And I miss having that drive sometimes.  But in truth, I think that it will need to be cultivated within me once again.  This will not be magic.  So I need your help.  I’m going to try to spark that passion again by reading, and I need suggestions.

I’m open to lots, but here are some guidelines:

  • I like nonfiction the most.
  • Please no fantasy.
  • No Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings anything. I won’t read it.
  • Nothing about the apocalypse. It does nothing for me.

And thats it.  So what have you got for me?


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Posted by on February 6, 2014 in Daily Happenings



On Writing


I think I’ve finally discovered my problem with writing…or at least what caused my problem with writing…

Let me take you back.  When I talked about my life, I thought it was normal.  Overly normal. I thought everyone worked summers in factories and shot beebee guns by firelight and wore patched jean jackets.  NORMAL.

Joe Mackall

The Great Joe Mackall

When I went to college at Ashland University, magic happened.  I somehow wound up in the English 101 class of Dr. Joe Mackall.  His first assignment?  A personal narrative about whatever we wanted.  So on a hot August night in my dorm room, I sat down and wrote about attending a KISS and Aerosmith concert–about how the grass felt on the lawn that night, cool yet sticky.  About how I somehow felt a kinship with people I didn’t know, and people I’d never really know, and how I felt more comfortable in decades prior to my time than in my own time.  I wrote about the chains that bounced off my hip as I climbed the hill of Germain Amphitheatre in Columbus, Ohio, and how I held the callused hands of a boy who kept me at skin’s length even though I wanted more than anything to be a part of him.

I turned in the paper.  The next class, Joe kept me after.  The humid air had crept in through the windows and the sweaty plastic of the desk stuck against my forearms.  I felt like I was suffocating.  “What’s your major?” he asked.

“Undecided…but leaning toward education?” I half-asked.  Was there a right answer?

“No.  Creative writing.  You have something here,” Joe said.  Apparently there was.  When I left Miller Hall that day, two weeks into my college career, I felt like I had direction for the first time.  The flowers were brighter and the sky was bluer, and I felt like Joe had uncovered a part of me that I didn’t even know existed, like he had peeled back my own calluses and exposed a raw, undeveloped part of me.

As with any “new skin,” this part of me was sensitive.  I babied it, wouldn’t fully walk on it right away.  It was an odd sensation, having someone believe that what I had to say was worth something, that my insights meant something.  That my story was one that people might want to hear.

I spent many nights at the computer, my chair tilted back on two legs, trying to find my reality.  Reality.  It felt so foreign then.  It felt like a thing of value.

All through college, I pecked away at my keyboard.  When I couldn’t write, I turned on Metallica, turned off the lights, and hung upside down on my futon.  I tried.

Four quick years later, I was getting ready to graduate when Joe asked me, “What do you think about grad school?”

I shrugged.  After a barrage of questions from my mother about what the hell I was going to do with a Creative Writing degree, I decided that grad school would only be a waste of money.

University of North Carolina at Wilmington.  You should apply.  A friend of mine, Philip Gerard, is down there.  You’ll learn a lot from him,” Joe said.

So I applied. I got accepted. I didn’t respond until they started calling me and asking me what I was going to do.    I decided I wouldn’t take it without a teaching assistantship, and the next day, I got the assistantship.  So in August of 2007, I moved to North Carolina with a fire in my hands to write.  I had managed to keep the skin that Joe revealed open–vulnerable, yet livable–everything that a writer should be.  Because if a writer is not vulnerable, are they really a writer?

The truth was that Philip Gerard was wonderful.  I felt comfortable with him much like I felt comfortable with Joe. I felt that I could learn something from them.  But, as I’ve mentioned, I could never fully enjoy grad school because I’m not sure I ever fully acclimated.  The place itself was wonderful, minus the humidity, and I ran into a few great people.  But most of the people there ruined it for me.  Remember that time I said “gypped”?  With everyone trying to be so politically correct, there was too much sameness.  People were letting go of their own identities so not to offend others.

But there was something else.  Something bigger.  Before I went to North Carolina, I found beauty in everyday things.  I saw beautiful, wonderful creatures in the people I worked with at Whirlpool, and I saw meaning in a dead-end bridge and a four-stroke engine.  I lost all that in North Carolina.  In North Carolina, I no longer felt like anything I had to say had meaning.  It felt like I was too normal.

This may or may not be true, and it may all be my own misconception, but it seemed very much like the only thing that was celebrated in my graduate program was the writing that was “different.”  And I understand that writing should be original, but when I say different, I mean crap like the lyric essay.  I mean taking so many risks with the format of the writing and the content that it no longer made sense.  It seemed like that was the stuff that was praised in grad school.  All I could think was, “Oh, you put a sentence four spaces down at the bottom and that space represents the emptiness you were feeling?  Shut up.”  When it came to writing, I always thought it was the truth behind it all, the crafting of the story, the reality that made it good.

I also suffered from what I call “The Plight of the Happy Writer.”  You see, all of the people I went to school with had some huge issue that they were dealing with, either from childhood, an ongoing battle with themselves, a sickness, a something.  I felt like I was at a disadvantage (in writing only) because something horrible hadn’t happened to me, because I wasn’t molested as a child, or struggling with my sexuality.  I had never been paid for certain sexual acts or had a horrible disease.  I hadn’t traveled all over the world and saw the beauty and devastation. I was just an Ohio girl who was realizing she didn’t really have anything to say.  And I became wonderfully happy with my lack of traumatic events.

So I let that callus that Joe so easily ripped off grow back over, and I hardened myself to writing.  I was surprised that this hurt more than when Joe ripped that callus, and more than the period of my life before I even knew I could write.  I was (read:  am) purposely suppressing something that came naturally to me in response to something that seemed unnatural to me.  I gave it up.

I haven’t been able to write since, but standing in the bathroom this morning while I was brushing my teeth, I saw that thing of beauty reemerge.  That simple, everyday beauty that comes from an overused toothbrush and a paste-flecked mirror.  I saw the imperfections, the reality of life creeping back in.  So I stuck my fingernail underneath the callus to see how easy it would be to lift away again.  Did I even want to? Baring one’s soul is not a decision that should be taken lightly.

But until then, I’ll enjoy the bent bristles of my toothbrush, the blue flecks on the glass, the cold tile underfoot, and I’ll keep picking at that callus to see if it’s ready to come off.  I hope that it will be soon.


Posted by on June 3, 2013 in Daily Happenings, Fremont


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On Running…

I’ve talked about running before.

Let me make it clear that I am by no means a “runner”.  I run.  But I am not a runner.  It’s kind of like “I write, but I am not a writer.”  You can ask me about that another day.

Lots of people at my work run, and they enter raises, and they go long distances, and I’m impressed.  They train, and they have the drive to do this type of stuff.

Me, on the other hand, I don’t have that drive.  My drive to run is based solely on making my body smaller and healthier.  So I do not enter races, and I run about 4-5 miles a night.  That’s it.

One of my past professors, dear friend, and overall one of my favorite people ever, is a runner.  Hardcore.  For years, he has wanted to take me to get fitted for proper running shoes–and I am finally going to go.  My ankles and knees are achy.  I think it’s time.

Maybe this will change my stance on running.  But for now, it’s just a way to stay healthy.


Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Daily Happenings


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Relish the Mystery

Do you know what drives me insane?  People who want to know everything.  People who study something until the mystery is gone–till it no longer excites them.

I think that’s kind of why I quit writing so much about myself (excluding this blog, of course–I’ll continue this blog).  This is to say I haven’t sat down and tried to write a “piece” since I graduated.  And this means that I have quit trying to figure out why I do the things I do and why I feel certain ways.  People who aren’t nonfiction writers have the luxury of not being as self-aware.  As a nonfiction writer, we are trained to kind of see what we’re doing in the moment, to analyze it before we even get the chance to let it happen without thought.  And you know what?  I love those actions that happen without thought more than any actions in the world.  I like when I’m unaware of what I’m doing.

And I think those are the moments that make the best stories.  When you can stop in the middle of telling it and say, “I don’t know why I did that…”  Because then you get to go on the journey all over again, trying to put yourself into that moment.  Why did you do that?  And you get a beautiful moment where you either figure it out–or you just have to let it go.

Why did I think it was so cool to have people call me “Ricky” when I was little?  No idea.  Why was there a phase when I would only answer to “Michael Jackson”?  Why the HELL did I ever date the men I did?

But I’m happy not knowing it all right now.  I think I’ll put writing on the back burner a little longer.  I think I’m starting to act like myself–not a writer.  And if you ask me, I think the best writers are the ones who can separate their lives from their writing.

Turn it off for a minute, look around, and live without a plot in your head.

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Posted by on December 20, 2010 in Daily Happenings


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“Use me and I’ll set you on fire, bastard.”

To keep with the media favorites theme for another day, I thought I’d talk about my favorite TV show.

I used to jump around a lot on this.  Currently, I enjoy Parenthood and The Middle.  I love Modern Family and Raising Hope.  But these aren’t classics yet in my mind.  I absolutely LOVED October Road, but that lasted all of what, two seasons?

Besides Raising Hope, the majority of the shows that I like are shows that most closely represent real life.  Real people.  Real situations.  Without being reality TV, because reality TV is so far from the truth, that it’s not worth watching anymore.  I’ve begun grouping Reality TV with Anime; they’re both so fake.

In writing, they say that fiction is supposed to come as close to real life as possible.  But if you’re writing nonfiction, no one wants to hear an everyday story, which is why we get all the memoirs about drug addicts and sex fiends and blah blah blah.  Maybe we’ve distorted our television based on this principal, because reality TV is ridiculous and wild…and the classic, good shows are the ones that have more truth than what we deem to be reality.

Parenthood, The Middle, and Modern Family are great right now.  But they’re too new to rely on yet.  I relied heavily on October Road, but that disappeared pretty quickly.  So what show stands the test of time?


Seriously…does it get more real than this?  What television mother told it like it was more than Roseanne?  Whose house looked the most realistic?  Who actually struggled to pay the bills sometimes?

And who was funnier? 

Roseanne: (to Crystal who’s been passing out things from her company, Cindy Lou Cosmetics) Whad’ya bring me?
Crystal: bath beads, made with real milk
Roseanne: Well great, then when I’m soaking and I get hungry, I’ll just add some Cheerios.

Or what about this one?


Roseanne Conner: Remember the Beatles had that song, “Run for your life” by the Beatles? Where the guy says he’d rather see her dead than with another guy. That’s all them wife beaters need is an anthem.

Roseanne Conner: Remember the song where the guy says ‘don’t get hooked on me? I’ll use you and set you free’? Use me and I’ll set you on fire, bastard.
And I’m not saying that my family is anything like the Conners, but there are distinct similarities.

Growing up in a small town in the Midwest.

Daddy worked blue collar.

Annoying little brother.

Aunts who were always around.

Never had a pet.

All I’m saying is that Roseanne is a classic, and it shouldn’t be looked over.


Posted by on November 17, 2010 in Daily Happenings


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