Second Generation Grammar Police

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because I didn’t want to be thrown in Grammar prison…by my mother.

Grammar

Seriously. I carry on the proud tradition of being second generation Grammar Police. My mother is the cause for my passion for writing and my tendency to correct people. As a person who learned her English as a secondary language, both the words and the grammar she learned were very proper. Slang was something with which she was completely unfamiliar.

“Ain’t is not a word” was a common refrain I heard in my household growing up. Of course when Mr. Webster was kind enough to make revisions, it was with glee that I announced to mom that ain’t had officially been recognized.

Maybe the fact that I noticed should have been a warning as to my own tendencies, but it wasn’t. Nope. While most kids played house, I played library and forced my kid sister to play along by checking out my books. I even tried to charge her late fees. Yeah, you guessed it. My mom came along and put an end to that part of the game. Still, my calling never occurred to me and it never occurred to me that there could be “good” and “bad” grammar police.

It wasn’t until the day I found my poor sister’s cookbook that I realized I’d become my mother. The poor girl was maybe in 6th grade when I found it. She had the misfortune of spelling the word chocolate phonetically (chocklet). As is the case in most sibling relationships, I poked fun. Yes, this would be a good example of Bad Grammar Cop behavior. Mockery and abuse of power never fall in the “good” category.

As mean as I was to my sister, it was worse for potential suitors at that age. When I was in Junior High/Middle School, when boyfriends would send me love notes, I’m a bit ashamed of what I did. I took a red pen to their notes and corrected their spelling and grammar. I also sent it back for a re-write. Maybe I’m the only person who’s ever done this, maybe not. Either way, it’s a miracle I had so many boyfriends back then or that they actually used to fix their work. 😉 Yes, this also fell in the “bad” category…but may explain why my English teachers used to love pairing me with their more “grammatically challenged” students for writing assignments and projects.

Fortunately, times have changed and I’ve spent the next several decades using my powers for the forces of good. 😉 I’ve become the gal my friends and family call to proof papers and double check resumes.

Recently my skills were put to work by a friend who went to work for one of the local counties. Because his reports became legal documents that could be subpoenaed, he was very concerned with utilizing the proper words. He’d come to realize that there were way too many words in the English language that sounded alike and needed help. He called me:

Him: What’s the difference between then and than?
Me: One is a comparison. The other is what comes next.
Him: Okaaaay….
Me: Do you need me to use them in sentences that will help you remember?
Him: Yes.
Me: (Knowing my audience and what motivates him, I constructed the sentences.) Than with an ‘a’ would go something like this. “I’m better than you.” Comparison. See?
Him: Better than you. Got it. What about the other one?
Me: We took off our clothes, then we had sex. Next step.
Him: Ooh! Okay. Got it. I’m better than you is with an ‘a’. Then we had sex is with an ‘e’. I’ll never forget again.
Me: Why am I not surprised?
Him: Because you know me well. Hey, can you make me a little cheat sheet of other words that sound the same. You’re good at making it so I’ll remember.
Me: Sure…

Yes, I’d learned how to use my powers for the forces of good. To build people up and help them remember. In fact, I even made him that cheat sheet on the most commonly misused words. Wanna see?

There- used when referring to a location. “Sit over there.”
Their- plural possessive. “Seven is their dog.”
They’re- Actually 2 words combined. They are. “They’re lying.”

Two- the number “Two heads are better than one.”
Too- also “I love dogs, too!”
To- expresses a motion toward a direction/action “There is nothing to do.”

Wear- What a person puts on their body. “I have nothing to wear.”
where- destination based. “Where did he go?
Ware- something to be sold. “She stood in the courtyard selling her wares.”

I also recommended he buy Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss. I should have recommended Grammarly, too!

What about you guys? Any quirks, habits or stories to share around the complications of the English language or run ins with grammar police? Maybe you’re the grammar police. How did you discover your calling? What did you do? What drives you crazy?

When Time Means Nothing….

You all know I love my mom. I’ve talked about the fact that she is probably one of my biggest heroes/role models. Of course there’s also the issue of tardiness being my pet peeve. Since she’s a direct cause of this, too, I thought I’d share…

Growing up, my mom raised us to be very involved in the church. Sometime around my tween and early teen years, since my mom worked night shifts, we stopped going to the Sabbath/Sunday school part of the service and only came for the second half…which was sermon time. It was around that time that I’d begun to notice that when we got there, the doors from the foyer were already closed, though the ones that lead to the balcony were not. Most people would go upstairs to the balcony to sit. Not my mom. She would take our hands, open the front and center doors, head held high and march all the way up to the front 4 or 5 pew and sit. Being in that age range, I noticed, mortified, that the pastor was up front preaching and watching us walk down the aisle. To me, it also felt like every eye in the place was on us. I wanted to hide. I was so relieved when we got a little older that we moved into an apartment building within walking distance of both church, work and school. While mom was doing her makeup I’d go myself…early/on time…and sit up in the balcony.

When my mom was going somewhere with us we were never on time. It drove me nuts! In fact, once I moved to Florida, my sister was coming out for a visit. Mom offered to drive her to the airport. She was so late picking my sister up that she almost missed her flight…in fact, her luggage did miss the flight. We had to drive back to the airport the next day to pick up her stuff as that particular airline only flew into our airport once a day.

But wait, it gets better. My mom offered to do a friend’s hair once, for her wedding. Somehow, she got sidetracked along the way, making the bridal party smoothies…. The girl was nearly 3 hours late to her own wedding. I’m guessing the wedding must have been casual (I’m thankful I wasn’t around for that one).

Then there was the time I developed an eye twitch. I have never had an eye twitch before. Most of the time I’m actually pretty mellow. High energy, but not the stressed out kind. Well, not until I got to town on the week of my wedding. My sister mentioned off the cuff that mom would be over before her fitting for her dress. This fitting was 5 days before my wedding.

Me: What do you mean, fitting?
Sis: Crap! Sorry, I was trying to keep it from you to keep you from stressing out.
Me: (deep sigh) So her dress isn’t done yet?
Sis: She says it’s almost done.

Then mom came over and took me and a bridesmaid over to the lady who was making her dress. The dress was still in pieces and not sewn together. The lady (a former teacher) must have recognized the look in my eye while my mom was changing into the parts of the dress and told me to go ahead and wait in the living room.

Bridesmaid: Are you okay?
Me: (Deep breath) Why do you ask?
Bridesmaid: I work with you. I’ve seen you in some pretty stressful situations.
Me: But…
Bridesmaid: I’ve never seen your eye twitch like that before.
Me: (holding my fingers against my eye, trying to keep it from pulsing) I have not been stressed out at all about this wedding…until now.
Bridesmaid: I know.
Me: I’m trying very hard not to turn into Bridezilla right now.
Bridesmaid: You’re doing a good job. Keep taking those deep breaths.

Later on I found out the seamstress had told my mom that if she wanted her to make the dress that she needed 6 months notice. My mom gave her 2. Being a friend, she did a rush job. The dress was completed the day of my wedding…which caused my mom to be late for her hair appointment. Thankfully, the stylist was at my sister’s house and had other bridesmaids she could do while waiting for my mom.

There have been many other instances… This is why we’ve learned to tell her and my stepdad to be anywhere we want them to be about an hour in advance….and to plan on eating at any dinner party they hold 1.5-2 hours after they tell us.

So last week she sent me a text telling me that her church choir was combining with one in my neighborhood for an Easter celebration service. I was all set. Hubby was staying home to do some baking. I called her 30 minutes prior to ask her which Methodist church in my neighborhood was the celebration at. That’s when she informed me that the celebration wasn’t in MY neighborhood…it was in HERS! That meant a 45 minute drive…and me being LATE! Sensing I was about to cancel, she copped the mom attitude like only a mother can do, making me feel bad. I managed to only be 15 minutes late, and just in time for her singing.

While I was there she asked me if I’d drive to Miami with her to see my sister, who is in town to see her mother-in-law (she’s been going through cancer treatments). She told me she’d be at my house by 8am on Wednesday. That’s today. She confirmed yesterday that she’d be here at 8. She texted me this morning telling me to have a good breakfast and that she’d be here between 8:15-8:30. She then texted me at about 8:10 to tell me she was leaving her house (which is an hour and 10 minutes away).

Am I surprised? No. Am I irritated? Maybe just a little…

Have I mentioned that I love my Mom?

Super Hero or Happily Ever After?

I was on the phone with a gal pal of mine last week when plans for the weekend came up. Her boys were going to be camping with her husband, so she was planning mother/daughter time.

Her: My 12 year old daughter has her first celebrity crush.
Me: Awww!
Her: So let me ask you a question. If a 12 year old had a crush on an Avenger, who do you think it would be?
Me: Probably Captain America…or maybe Thor.
Her: Right! Captain America was All-American…clean cut. Thor…well, everyone has a crush on him these days. But not my daughter!
Me: Really? Who is it? I guess I could kind of see Hulk! Please tell me it’s not Ironman…he’s just a bit naughty for a 12 year old!
Her: Not my daughter. She has a crush on Hawkeye!
Me: Ok…I can see it. His a bit of a badass boyscout…but with a dark side.
Her: Yup! Jeremy Renner…most of his characters are that way. I guess she’s a lot more like her mother than I realized, LOL!
Me: (laughing) I guess so! I really loved him in his Bourne movie.
Her: Absolutely! So, since hubby and the boys are away this weekend, I’ve decided to indulge her crush and take her to see Hansel And Gretel…Of course, that indulges me, too.

Well, as it turned out, hubby and I took a very good friend to see that same movie to celebrate her birthday…. If you haven’t seen the trailers for this movie yet…let me give you a taste.

As I sat there watching previews before the movie started I couldn’t help but think back to my childhood. Growing up, I remembered being told fairy tales…just like most of you. The usually started with a Princess…had an Evil Witch (or maybe a Dragon) and had a happy ending! They were mostly sweet and light…kind of like the Disney movies.

But there was this other side…the Fairy Tales I read about. Yes, I was that girl who checked out Grimm’s Fairy Tales from the library when I was in 3rd grade. I was fascinated with how different many of those tales were from their Disney counterparts. They were darker…scarier…definitely not so saccharine sweet! And I LOVED them! In fact, I loved reading them as much as I thrilled reading Greek Mythology! It seemed more realistic somehow…even at that young age. It also fed my thirst for “other” worlds and adventures. It opened my mind up to possibility! I wouldn’t say I was cynical already…but I was well aware that the sugar of Disney tales…while cute and great for “little” kids…was just too “goody two shoes” to be within the realm of possible.

It seems that there Hollywood is finally starting to tell the darker, scarier versions of these stories, too! I first noticed it with Red Riding Hood (which I still need to see)…

That movie was followed by Snow White And The Huntsman…which I DID see…and enjoyed! Sadly, I’m not a huge Kristen Stewart fan, and this was the movie in which she had the “affair” with her director. She was actually pretty good in this movie…though, there’s no question that Chris Hemsworth definitely stole the show. I also really liked that Snow White ended with her Prince, and not The Huntsman…leaving him available for my fantasies. 🙂

While watching Hansel & Gretel (which, in my opinion….was good, not GREAT), they played a preview for Jack The Giant Slayer…an interpretation of the Jack In The Beanstalk story. It looked action packed…and awesome! It was also pretty cool seeing Obi Wan playing this kind of role…and yes, I’m well aware of the fact that he was played by Ewan McGregor…but I love the series enough to always associate him with that character. See for yourself…

Now my buddy WordSurfer can get all in depth as to the history and import of the darker fairy tales… And I’d agree. But most important to me is the fact that it’s pretty awesome to see some of my favorite stories from my youth being brought to life (albeit with all sorts of different Hollywood twists) in these action packed movies in the same way that all my favorite superheroes are! The fact that a couple of them are playing dual roles as superheroes/fairy tale heroes is just icing on my cake!

Don’t get me wrong…there’s room for those Disney princesses… I still enjoy those stories, too. But there’s nothing quite so thrilling to me as a bit of action packed nostalgia. So let me ask you…what kinds of books/stories/characters were you drawn to as a child? What do you think of this new Hollywood trend?