The Editing Games

My brother and I weren't allowed to read children's books when we were little kids. Momma say chill'en book are da debil, which made children's books no different than the lorikeet, my stuffed Ziggy doll, the avocado-green Chinet plastic plates, the china hutch, the Alvin and the Chipmunks cassette taped over the Blue Oyster Cult because my father cannot resist poking a stick at a hive full of crazy, the silverware, and (occasionally) my big brother. 

Chinet plates and silverware will not melt, no matter how hard you try to make them. Neither will my big brother. Bygones. 

We were allowed to read the bible all we wanted, and we had a book of bible stories that we could read, too. Aside from that, my mother read us only two books -- The History of Physics by Isaac Asimov and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Those were our bedtime stories. This may have been the only good choice my mother made in her 24-year-long career as a parent. 

This information is simply context for the rest of this post; I have a massive bias against (most) children's books. I am also still convinced the world is probably going to end before, like, 2017 or something. There are some things you can unbrainwash, and then there is dogma. More on that later.

I try, like all mothers do, to give my kids better than I was given, and so we have children's books in the house. I've even read a few. *gasp* There are some really great ones (Sandra Boyton? *piles* of win.) and some really horrible ones. Have you ever tried to read the first five Magic Tree House books? It took them five books' time to find an editor who didn't instantly commit harakiri with the nearest semi-colon upon reading that woman's "writing."

Grammar isn't just a snobbish set of preferences; it's like the traffic laws, or maybe even the sheet music, for words. Pixies sounds amazing, all jumbled up and off-key and wah-wah-peddled to death, but if you sat down and tried to read No. 13 baby you'd gore a hole in your frontal lobe with a bass clef. 

The thing is, fragments? Can be used cleverly to make a point, or. Well. You know. They just make sentences choppy. Difficult to read. Doubly so if you're reading them aloud.  

I pretty much banned the Magic Tree House books from my house during my sons' formative years because they were impossible, annoying, and insulting to read out loud, but also because I didn't want them learning to read with that nonsense as their model for acceptable grammar. This whole deal sucked, because the stories are actually quite lovely.

When I attended Parent Night at my kids' middle school this fall, I learned that they don't actually teach grammar to children anymore, at least not in our school district. A parent had asked when they would cover grammar, in between creative writing and reading comprehension and all that jazz, and the teacher said, "Oh, we don't teach that." When asked why, she replied, "because they aren't tested on it," and then alluded to the fact that they would learn it as they went, by, you know, reading

This is what they're, you know, reading.

Supple leather that has molded itself to my feet wwwwhhhhaaatt??? ::tears hair out:: 

This is not me saying that I am so much better than anyone else, or some master writer or anything. I didn't go to one day of college; I went to high school and then made martinis and babies, both in bars. I end sentences in prepositions all the damn time, I start sentences with and, but, and/or/also because. I personally guarantee you no fewer than three grammatical errors in any given post. And then there was this.   

But hell, I'm not a New York Times best-selling author who has a team of editors *at freaking Scholastic* working like crazy to make my book the best selling tweeny-bop novel of all time. 

Hunger Games, however, does

That paragraph up there in the picture is from page two of Hunger Games, and that's as far as I got into the book before I had to walk away from it. Those "liberties" she takes with grammar are brick walls that we crash into going 87 miles per hour with no airbag, and the entire story stops while we scrape our brains off of the ground, scoop them back into our heads, and ram them against that sentence again. 

I think the arguments that it's written for young adults or that it's all just 'creative writing' are malarkey. Why on earth don't we need to use proper grammar when it comes to our teenagers? For little kids, sure, taking license works, and sometimes it works gorgeously, but for my 14-year-old? He can read through a semi-colon and if he can't yet, I'd like him to learn now before he becomes an adult and has to write as a professional man in the world. 

All I'm saying is that I'd like my children's first exposure to proper grammar to come from something other than the internet

In Chinese, if you use the wrong tiny little line in a word, your boss' business cards say Big Sauce instead of Big General. They execute motherfuckers for less.

Maybe what we really need is The Editing Games, where we pit editors from different publishing companies against each other in a race to the dangling participle. We could pair them boy/girl to create some future-perfect tension, and equip them with white-out, those ridiculous horn-rimmed glasses that are all the hipster-rage these days, and red marking pens filled with the blood of the last round's losers. 

The publishing team who actually has a fucking clue how to write a book in English gets the contract. May the subordinating conjunctions ever be in your favor.  

If I Don't Stop, I'll Go Blind.

(The cop story's anti-climatic end.)

The problem with having no depth perception is that you spend the better part of your life with a mascara wand lodged firmly in your left retina.

The problem with being an idiot with no depth perception is that the cops keep calling your house.

See, the thing is, I have this habit of leaving things on the hood of my car. Things like Nathan Jr, things like three cell phones, consecutively. But not like hamsters and cookies, oh no. I have much more creative means of killing them off. Also, things like Gucci purses (yes, it was real and yes, it was fabulous) (was is the key word in that sentence fragment). Now that doesn't have too much to do with the fact that I can't see how deep onto the hood of the car I've left my kidnapped child, my yet again brand new uninsured phone or my designer purse that I will never be allowed to own, ever again. That just has to do with the fact that I'm really, really dumb.

Also, consistent. Bygones.

Also also, really fucking lucky.

Every time I've left my purse on the hood of my car, it's been pummeled beyond recognition, eventually pushed off to the side of the road, recovered by one of the five good people left on earth, and turned into the local police department. With everything in it. Well, except that one time that I found it before anyone else did and the answer, my friend, really does blow in the wind just like every last dollar I have to my name does. My debit card, however, just lays there and takes it like the little bitch it is.

You can totally use a smashed flat, tire-imprinted credit union debit card at all major retailers. See, you learned something today. You're welcome.

You cannot, however, use lost glasses anywhere if you never find them again. This is the second time I've lost them, and they're the second pair of glasses I've ever owned. That, friends, is called batting a thousand. You wish you were this awesome.

The first time I lost them, I was eight months into being an illegal alien and had no concept of how to use my new Canadian health insurance, so I waited months to get a new pair. This last time I lost them, I was eight months into being deported and had no concept of how to use my new American health insurance, so I've waited months to get a new pair.

Well, that and I left my damn wallet on the hood of my car again. With everything I own in it. Including my insurance cards.

But the good news is that there are 6 good people left in the world, and one of them lives somewhere in the middle of Godonlyknowswhere, Texas, and while watering his lawn one fine summer morning, what did he stumble across but a red wallet belonging to yours truly. And he turned it in. To the local police department. With everything in it. Including my insurance cards.

So the police department called my insurance company and my insurance company called me and I called the police department and now all I have to do is drive back up to Godonlyknowswhere, Texas, to claim my slightly soggy and totally recovered wallet.

Except that I can't see far enough in front of my face to drive to the grocery store, let alone the middle of Texas, and I can't get new glasses because my insurance card is in my wallet which I left on the hood of my car in the middle of the night in the middle of Texas. And my wallet is in the local police department which also happens to be the local prison and I'm pretty sure it's against several laws of both God and man to propel more than 1/2 ton of metal, without any measurable amount of vision, any further than you can drag it.

Which isn't very far. My gym card was in there, too.

Eyes Wide Open

The thing I love best about wearing glasses again after a long time off is that I acquire depth perception, which I sorely lack without glasses, and my first day or so is spent tripping up stairs, swaying into walls and almost but not quite throwing up all day.  It's like riding the Tilt-A-Whirl, without all the Britney Spears and the whiplash.

Even better?  Getting your eyes dilated the day before.  Did you know they don't give you those superfly glasses anymore?  They don't.  They "suggest" you don't drive and send you out into the world with your three kids, your husband, a mall on clearance sale, and the vision of a vampire bat.

You know what you should never attempt to do while dilated?  Walk around the mall.  Walk period, for that matter. Oh, and trying to watch after three kids at once?  Will make you barf.  But the good thing is this: You can't see the price tag on your new frames, or the tears in your husband's eyes when he hands over the credit card.  Don't ask, don't tell baby.

You know what else you shouldn't ever attempt whilst dilated?  Talking to anyone you know at the mall, especially if that anyone happens to be the former PTA president and his whole family.  Really especially if it's the same former PTA president who also happens to be the local church minister and the guy who's face you shoved your boobs into last year.

Because as hard as you've tried since your porno-table-dance night to say not two unnecessary words to that man or his family, you'll find yourself stuttering and stammering in the paper towel aisle of the drug store and then you'll inevitably say, "And, um, yeah...just got my eyes dilated.  I'm totally not cracked out on drugs or anything, promise!" right in front of his two precious little children and his one saintly wife.

And then you might just die.  At least hindsight is 20/20.

Hey Man, Nice Shot

at-the-doctor



Those are two of my children. They are at the doctor. Why do I care? Because the last time one of them saw a doctor, she looked a little more like this:

moving-to-vancouver



Yeah, it's been 2 years and 4 months. The whys are too complicated to even begin getting into, so you'll just have to trust me. I had a reason. That reason no longer applies. And we have some catching up to do.

Her baby book is empty on the pages for height and weight, though quite full on the ER visits, so I'll call that a wash.  I've just figured that if she outgrows clothes on a regular timeline, she must be doing okay, right?  The one thing that I can't reconcile is her immunizations.  Those are way behind, and it sucks hard when you get way behind.

You know what happens when you go 2 years and 4 months without immunizing your child, and the one time you do when she's one year old it's under ever so shady circumstances and there are no records anywhere of what shots she actually had?  Your doctor tells you to come back when she's 12.

Or your newly found Canadian doctor will decide that he's just repeating her 18 month shots.  ALL OF THEM.  There are 3 that he can't repeat if she got them at 12 months, because of course Canada and the US have different immunization schedules.  What is a 12 month shot in the US is by no means necessarily a Canadian 12 month shot.  That's just what I need, more complication.

The nice thing is that since I haven't taken her to a doctor for 2/3 of her life, she doesn't know that doctors stick things into you, and she thought that going to the doctor was just as much fun as going to Disneyland.

no-clue-whats-coming



Poor thing had no clue what was coming.  Look how excited she was.  Until the doctor gave her a flu shot, a measles shot, and a couple more shots that I just can't remember.  What I can remember is the screaming.  My boys were totally used to shots by the time they were three.  They flinched, they got their popsicle and we were on our way.  This baby?  Screamed like I have NEVER seen her scream before.  My heart?  Broke into 8 million pieces for her.

Yes, I'm trying to kiss him.  What of it?



He wasn't being seen that day, and WOW was he happy about it.  The doctor totally snuck a flu shot in on him when he wasn't looking, though.  Spreading the joy, that's what christmas is all about.

So everyone got an injection, my girl came home with a small case of the measles, and this is what we were up to at 11:45pm a few nights later.

Pokey makes it better



That's a Tylenol bribe.  A "Please child, for the love of god and all that's holy, take some medicine so you can sleep already" bribe.  It didn't really work, but now she knows that Tylenol gets her treats and that one in the morning is a super fun time to be awake until, and I know that I will never, ever skip another shot again for as long as we all shall live.

I Really Want to Make a Kung Fu Fighting Reference In Here Somewhere

Guess who has the most awesome blog readers in the whole wide blogosphere?  I do, that's who.

You guys are really, extraordinarily good at making complete asses of yourselves.  Really, I am in awe.  And I have to give someone that (fast as) Lightening Online t-shirt for making the biggest faux pas (which I will always pronounce as Foe Pahs, thanks to my darling step-mother, who thinks that's really how you say it.  Maybe she should get the shirt.)

In true, blond, Pisces me fashion, I find myself unable to pick a winner, so I'm leaving it up to y'all to decide.  I have narrowed it down to 3 categories, with two entries in each:

In the Menstrual Disaster category:

Mutha, who was asked at the UHaul counter to show her receipt.  (I'll admit, this one's my favorite.)
I checked my pockets. Nothing. I went to my car and didn’t find it. Suddenly, I remember where I had put it. It was in my purse, which I had left on the counter. I ran into the store yelling, “I know where it is!” I reached into my purse, saw the pink paper, shouted, “Here it is!” and pulled it out with a flourish.

There, dangling onto the end of it, was a maxi pad, which had somehow gotten stuck to the corner of the receipt.

Ahem. It wasn’t fresh, I had wrapped it in TP, because the rest room didn’t have a trash can and you can’t flush those things.

Special K, who had the quintessential junior high slasher chick nightmare happen to her.
OK In the 6th grade I was the first girl to start her period. It was a horribly heavy non stop thing I finally had to get shots to stop it. They gave me some hospital ones, you know, the ones after you have a baby? Except I didn’t have a baby and I was 11 years old.

The boys in my class found them, stuck scotch tape on the backs of them just to stick them ON THE HALL WALL SPELLING MY FIRST NAME!!!!!!!!

In the Poop category:

DCUrbanDad, who is really lucky she married him later.
Had an unfortunate sharting accident in college whilst trying to impress the ladies in college.

Was actually heading to the library with my now wife for an all night exam cram session.

Had to let one out after a dinner of enchiladas. I thought it was going to be fairly benign but boy was I wrong.

Ended up going commando the rest of the evening and threw my boxers away in the men's room.

Secret Agent Mama, who shit in a ditch once. Seriously.  More noteworthy; On her honeymoon.
“STOP THE FUCKING CAR!” I screamed.

He pulled over with diligence. I scanned the backseat, spotted and picked up a random towel, opened the door, and in one huge leap I was down in the swamp ditch with my jean shorts around my ankles, relieving myself. I didn’t care that I could be attacked by a gator. I didn’t care that there could be any poisonous plants. I didn’t care that a snake might bite me. I just didn’t care about anything, other than pooping, at that very moment. I dumped, I wiped, and I left the nasty towel. I wiped my brow and my upper lip, both of which were sweat drenched. When I looked at Michael, once I got back into the car, I saw this look of sheer, utter amusement on his face.

“Shut! Up! And, I swear Michael, if you tell ANYONE about this, I will divorce you,” I quipped confidently.

Oh, he told everyone.  EVERYONE.  And as luck would have it, every woman in Secret Agent Mama's entire family has done this on their honeymoon.

In the Just Awesomely Stupid category:

Mrs F, who set out to walk with her newborn baby about a mile to a friends house.
When number one son was a few weeks old, I was running round to a friend’s house for coffee (also new mother). Remember those paranoias you used to have? About forgetting the baby? So, before I left the house I had a little mental checklist: Keys? Yep. Diaper bag? Yep? Baby? Got it. Looked in the hall mirror - Mascara? Wow yes.

Friend greeted me with snorts of laughter and “Think you forgot something?”. Ran through mental checklist….. nope, got everything.

Except clothes. Utterly naked from the waist down. Naturally, I had shoes on.

Matt's is really long, but I can't find a good way to edit it.  He's on a treadmill, at a crowded gym, watching the Waco, Texas stuff going down on the TV, when....
I jerked my attention back as my left foot ran off the left edge of the motorized belt. Immediately my right foot tried to correct from the rapid change in speed and my ankle rolled a bit. My entire body was lurched back and I panicked. Without thinking I grabbed ahold of the little handrail in front of me, but it was too late. I heard a collective gasp from the hundreds of people watching behind me as my body laid itself out, white knuckles gripping the bar, legs and feet outstretched behind me, dragging on the treadmill with toes pointed. My shoes made a deafening “BRAP BRAP BRAP BRAP” sound as they dragged on the treadmill, capturing the attention of the few people who were not watching at this point.

My body gave up and I let go. My chin slammed onto the belt and I was jettisoned back off the machine into a large rack of dumbells with a loud crash. My face flushed and my heart raced as people begin to laugh. In an attempt to salvage what was left of my dignity, I quickly and confidently scrambled to my feet and raced back to the treadmill, jumping onto it with gusto. The belt was still moving at the same speed that it had been when I had fallen off. I realized this a moment too late and begin leaning forward, flailing my arms wildly around in a large windmill pattern, trying to right myself. For some reason, my breath was coming out of me in loud grunts as I was doing this, like “UH, UH, UH, UH!” Another roar of laughter went up from the crowd. Eventually, I stabilized myself and continued to run, the eyes of a thousand laughing faces burning tiny holes into the back of my head.

And now it's up to you.  Vote for your favorite, and the blogger with the top votes on Friday morning needs to send me their address.  Which I will use for evil.  *wink*

(If you're reading this through a reader, I don't think you'll be able to see the awesome poll thingy. Click through to vote.)