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.  

Saving Private Benjamin

Sometimes I try to wrap my head around the fact that there is a day this year that won't exist next year and then I trip and fall into a wormhole of high school quantum physics and the left side of my brain goes on strike until I end up self-medicating with the Spice Girls - who, for good or evil, know whatIreallyreallywant.

BlogHer '12The 29th is the last day you can register for early bird pricing and save $100 off a BlogHer '12 conference pass. You should come because it's fun, it's informative, it's New York, and because Lesbian Dad and I are working our booties off to make it awesome for you (proof). <--we did that *squee*

I thought I'd commemorate the last day to save a Benjamin with my top five four favorite things related to saving. You spend 16 years in a Judeo-Christian cult and walk away without some salvation-based issues.

On saving days:

On saving math:
Actual billboards in New York in 2007. Best billboard of all time ever. Photo creditBackstory at XKCD.

On saving me:

The song is actually called Manhattan but it's just about the best little chick-punk-pop tunes about saving you ever did hear on the radios.

And my all-time favorite thing ever, saving related or not - On saving THEM:

I caught you a delicious bass; wanna play me?

My kid does this thing with his hands whenever there is an uncomfortable moment in our day. He calls it Awkward Turtle and I'm pretty sure it's something he's picked up off of thems there internets, but I don't care because it's AWESOME and I'm going to use it right now.

*puts one hand on top of other*
*sticks thumbs out and spins them around in circles*
*inches turtle forward*

Oh, nevermind; ask me to show it to you next time you see me.

So there's no real seque from that post into this one, except that

A) everything is fine for now, and
2) I can't believe I didn't do that years ago, I feel *that* much better and
lastly) I have bigger fish to fry.

Fish like blogging conferences. Blogging conferences like BlogHer, which is where I work now.

Um. Yeah. I cannot believe it, either.

After, like, 87 Internet Years, Jes Ferris moved on from BlogHer and I somehow duped them into letting me take her place as Conference Programming Manager, which is so very awesome and so very time consuming that I think I will henceforth just be a Saturday night blogger, if I'm lucky. I made it all of nine days into my Highly Lofty Plan to Post a Picture Every Day and posted two whole times at my Babble blog this year so they're probably going to fire me, but that's okaysih because I really, really, really truly, madly, deeply love my new job.

Really. I'd stand with it on a mountain. I'd bathe with it in the sea.

I'm Going, Y'all! - BlissdomWhile we're on blogging conferences, I'm going to Blissdom for the first time ever, so if you're going too, I'll be the person continuously standing under something taller than she herself is, wearing rubber shoes and eating all the imitation Jesus-meat crackers I can get my hands on, just in case. Say hi, if you dare.

2012 Dad 2.0 Summit - March 8-10I'm also going to the Houston Meet-Up for Dad 2.0 summit this Thursday night at The Stag's Head Pub downtown because, ironically enough, I really need a fucking drink. That, and I think that Doug French and John Pacini are stand-up guys and fantastic leaders in the dad blogging community who are going to throw one hell of a boy's weekend out conference, and I fully support their efforts that I won't be able to attend, see: new job.

And I think that's pretty much the total summation of every minute of spare time I have from now until August 6th, which means Daphne Brogdon is going to have to keep flaring her nostrils at me for pretty much abandoning everything I was up to at my kids' schools, but that's okay because, well, frankly? She's stinking adorable when she roars her terrible roars, she says from several thousand miles away.

Volunteering At School: Do You Buck Up Or Bow Out? w/ Daphne, Janice and yours truly on Momversation.

Kakorrhaphiophobia

I am afraid of spiders. I am afraid of tight spaces and heights, afraid of the cold, afraid of dying and afraid of not being good enough.

I am so terrified of rejection that I will put off and procrastinate and excuse my way out of every opportunity I am given, because in my head, opportunity is only a chance to show everyone how much you can't do. 

Because of that awesome little personality quirk, I currently have very organized kitchen cabinets and sparkly grout and an inbox that looks like the Library of Congress is archiving it. My dogs have been double-bathed and the leaky faucet in the kitchen has been tinkered with and half of the holes my insane beagle has chewed in the fence have been patched and I've helped the kids start to build a skate ramp with the leftover wood and none of that is going to get me a new job, so today I forced myself to sit down and write out my résumé.

I wrote a résumé today. 

I've never done that before. Ever.

Five years ago I was a waitress. A good waitress. A really great fucking waitress. Every year before that, since I was 17, I was a waitress. You can write a résumé when you are a career waitress, but that's kind of like showing up at a punk show in a sweater vest and penny loafers. 

I was very proud of the fact that I waited tables, because it is extremely difficult work that requires high levels of mental agility, physical stamina, excellent service skills and a tolerance for alcohol high enough to make a pirate blush.

But mostly, there was no fear in it. I can wait tables in my sleep. It's easy for me, and I knew that so long as I kept up on my French Reds, I'd never, ever fail at it. I aimed just high enough to respect myself in the morning and plenty low enough to never worry about rejection.

I had no idea that I could, or would ever, write, let alone write marcom. The most I'd ever written were witty sandwich-boards that paired sexy adjectives with sultry wines and smoky jazz for Friday night happy hour crowds. Even though that's *totally* marketing, you don't get to call it that in the restaurant business...you call that opening sidework. It does you absolutely no good, it just makes five minutes of your 10 hour shift a little more interesting.

But it turns out that I can write, and rather enjoy marketing/online advertising, and now I have to find out if I'm *actually* any good enough at either to get another job doing one or the other or some amalgamation of both. Now it is time to put myself on a piece of paper in 10-point Times New Roman and ask people to tell me I am good enough for them. 

I would rather re-caulk every shower in the house than lay myself bare on résumé paper.

But I did it anyway. I spent all day dissecting what it is I do, what it is I hope to do, and what exactly it is I am so afraid of. Today, I did one thing that scares me. Today, I wrote a résumé. Tomorrow, I am going to see where it takes me.

I am afraid of spiders. I am afraid of tight spaces and heights, afraid of the cold, afraid of dying and afraid of not living up to my own potential.

Ain't no party like the Co$$unis# Party 'cause the Co$$unis# Party Dudn't Give a Fuck

Ni Hao, Harbin!

So, I'm in Harbin, which is like 100 miles from Siberia, and I just had a breakfast of powered coffee with powdered milk and powered orange juice and powered eggs and I don't even want to know the origins of the 'sausage'.

Everything is banned in China, except my blog, which means I've done a really good job of limiting my conversations about drinking with the Co$$unis#* Party to Twitter. Which is blocked. Just like Facebook, though I really can't blame them for that. I'm 98% sure that Posterous is blocked, too, but maybe I just fail at landlines. The Party does not want you to have friends.

We're on LAN networks. In China, the land of Technology and Honey. It took me 10 minutes to figure out how to plug my computer in. Seriously. The Party does not want you doing anything but making more party members from bed.

The work "bed" translates differently in Harbin than it does in the USA. Here, it means 'shut the fuck up and lay down before The Chairman sends you to the labor camp', or, 'there are 1.3 billion people here; clearly our beds are doing the trick; shut up.' The Party appreciates your willingness to split up the box springs and the mattresses amongst yourselves.

My assignment for the day is to take our American guest shopping at 10 this morning, which is going to be hilarious since we cumulatively speak -15 Chinese words. My boss (who actually can say things like "how much does this cost" and "xie xie" and "please don't kill them, they don't know any better") is off speaking to college students on the wonders of America or dot net or something, I don't know. The Party encourages me to remember my place as a woman, and get them some more Tang while I'm up.

...and that, unfortunately, is as good as I get on 4.5 hours of sleep in a foreign country halfway around the world from my home. Hopefully I'll still have a blog tomorrow (provided The Chairman appreciates my humour) and maybe a power adaptor so some pictures can go up. Or airplane footage, which was *really* funny at the time, but the time was 16 hours without sleep, so it's probably going to read like Fear and Loathing in Shanghai. 

*China: Successfully censoring Mr Lady since 2011.