Thursday, February 26, 2009

On little sleep, less time, and not much going on


I live in Small City, Canada; you may also know it as the one that rhymes with a female body part. One of the awkward about living in a small city is the potential for run-ins everywhere you go.

[Aside: at least my city rhymes with something fun and not poop.]

You know what I hate? When you see someone out of the corner of your eye and they do that thing where they pretend not to see you.

[Another Aside: I'd like to know who coined "corner of your eye" because it makes so little sense.]

Of course, let me stress that this rarely happens to me. Rarely so little it's practicalynon-existent...everyone always wants to see me. That's the old metaphor, as in, "her voice was dripping sarcasm." Ah, metaphors.

I wish there could be a moratorium on awkward moments like this. I hereby add this to my list. If I Ruled the World people would be required to smile and nod if they saw a person they know. None of this duck and run stuff, no eye contact avoidance, and leave off on the looking around at obviously non-interesting stuff. Lame, lame, lame.

I don't propose that we have long, drawn out conversations, no, nothing like that.

[Another Aside: my mother would NOT like the above sentence. On the cover of my manuscript, underneath the fake quote from Maeve Binchy saying that it is a lovely book and I am a great writer, my mother wrote "with way too many commas." Since she read it she has become obsessed with commas, even to the point of cutting articles out of the paper that have what I like to think of as trailing sentences, full to the brim with commas.]

But in the interests of common courtesy, I submit that it is easier to smile and nod than pretend a vapid ignorance of the person two feet to your left. Much less energy.

I'm interested in the comma issue, though.

Let's try that again.

I'm interested in the comma issue though.

This brings me back to those long discussions with Tyler the English teacher and the use of "too."

Are commas a personalized stylistic punctuation choice? How much is dictated by decree of some manual? How much is up to the writer?

Ciao.

10 comments:

spinregina said...

eff it's been a long time since English class. is that a simile or a metaphor? can't recall.

Lisa and Laura said...

Wow, lots to comment on today.

Commas - I blatantly overuse them, so I'm going with stylistic choice. It helps establish voice. I've recently started rationalizing anything incorrect in my writing by claiming it adds to my voice. You should totally try it. Too many adverbs? That's just your voice. Spelling errors? Sorry, man, that's just my voice. See, it's fun!

As for people pretending not to see you, I have to admit that I've done it once or twice...in my defense, no one should ever be forced to make small talk when they have gym breath. I mean, EEW.

In just over 24 hours I'll be on a flight to the Bahamas. That's all.

P.S.
I think you should try to incorporate a GOOP reference into every post. I bet your readership would quadruple or should I say quadgoople. Oh my god, I just need to stop. Sorry.

tasha said...

i always avoid people that i dont like. or that are annoying. or ppl from high school that try and talk to me. YOU HATED ME IN HIGH SCHOOL WHY DO YOU WANT TO TALK TO ME NOW!
commas are commas, put them where you like. dont worry about your mom. she will accept your addiction to commas one day! lack of sleep on this end to there darling! and i dont have kids.
GOOP is a joke! who names there kid after a friut and then a website after a science experiment.

Davin Malasarn said...

I think commas are a stylistic choice too in creative writing. There are rules for commas, but like all rules, they can be ignored when you are making art.

I HATE running into people I don't know well. I have no idea what to do. Honestly, my favorite response is when they pretend to not see me. It makes my life so much easier.

Justus M. Bowman said...

You can't talk about fun and rhymes anymore. Ha ha. The weak part of my brain is incapable of dealing with such matters.

I prefer real conversations or none at all. If someone wants to say "what's up?" then run away, I suggest they leave me alone. I'm not interested.

lotusgirl said...

I'm a nod and wave kind of gal.

I have a love/hate relationship with commas. I tend to want to put too many in following the old rules I learned in school. Now all those rules seem to be changing.

Lady Glamis said...

I ran into a woman I didn't know at the mall awhile ago. But she knew me... it was awkward, but I pretended I knew her. And I was nice and smiled, at least! I remembered THREE WEEKS later who she was. *smacks head*

Commas are a stylistic choice except in a few instances. See the Chicago Manual of Style for those ones. :)

Tara Maya said...

I, personally, have always harbored a furtive, almost guilty, secret adoration of commas -- and, I fear, em-dashes.

tasha said...

hey ok so you guys love to talk about GOOP! i have found a much funnier version of the blog for you all! go to www.mtv.ca/doop it is the canadian mtv. so funny he even makes fun of GOOP! check it

Rick Daley said...

I'm terrible at seeing people, thinking they look like someone I know, staring at them to find out, and getting caught staring only to realize they are a perfect stranger, and I probably seem way creepy. Or maybe I'm great at that. Can't tell which way it should be.

To see if you need a comma, try the read aloud test. Read aloud, and if it sounds natural to pause, then put a comma there.

Or is it:
Read aloud and if it sounds natural to pause then, put a comma there.

Sometimes it's a sylistic choice to bend or ignore the rules of grammar and punctuation (see Cormac McCarthy), but if you do, make sure you don't sacrifice readability for style.