Oxforded

I’m apt to agree with Vampire Weekend after tonight (fyi, if you want to suddenly Google Vampire Weekend’s “Oxford Comma” lyrics because you don’t know them, there’s … grown-up language, which is why I didn’t post them directly here. This is mostly for the benefit of my mother.)

I joke with my friends that I am the grammar snob about whom your mother warned you, but to be honest, I have little to no basis for the claim. I did copyediting for an internship back in college, but … that was six years ago. And things change in the writing world, practically on a daily basis, or so it seems to me, so there’s the possibility that EVERYTHING I DID  six years ago is no longer relevant (this is unlikely). I’m like a food snob who doesn’t actually prepare his/her own food. [As an aside, I recently read an online review of a local sushi restaurant in which the individual wrote “There is a preponderance of avacado (sic) … “, and I wanted to punch that person in the face. Seriously — don’t use a word like preponderance and then misspell avocado, but even more seriously, don’t be a snobby online food reviewer in Utah county.]

Image courtesy of usu.edu/usupress
This is where I interned, and it was awesome.

And, for some reason not entirely clear to me, everyone in my work office takes my word when it comes to all things editing based. I should qualify that statement with the fact that there are only four of us, and that’s including a student employee, but still. My boss even called me “more of an expert on Chicago than [him]” today, to which I had to stifle a whole lot of laughter.

But I’m a confessional kid by nature, and I admitted that really, all I know about Chicago, or grammar and punctuation in general, is entirely thanks to my best friend, Shadra (who you should be hiring to be your professional editor before she is so swamped that you can only read about her and wish you’d done something sooner). The woman is a grammar genius and not snobby about it. Not one bit. She just knows stuff, you guys. And since I regularly read her syntactically sustaining blog, you’d think I’d, oh, I don’t know, retain information.

Image courtesy of shadrab.com

And yet.

The irony of tonight’s experience (please, Shadra, tell me I used “irony” correctly … even if I didn’t) is that I am actually a huge proponent of the Oxford comma. And before this sparks up an enormous online debate, let’s all just calm down and realize to each her own. I like it. I understand why some people don’t. But I had it in my head that the Chicago Manual of Style doesn’t use the Oxford comma, so, while editing several manuscripts for work, I crossed them all out.

All of them. All of the Oxford commas in almost all of the eleven manuscripts that are all about thirty-fifty pages each.

Because I’m awesome.

I don’t know what spurned me to go back and double-check my assumption against Shadra’s blog, but I suppose in the long run it was a good thing because I only messed up, like, seven of the manuscripts. (That’s a good thing … right? Right!?) But of course there was that inevitable pit-in-the-stomach feeling of death that followed when I discovered that, in fact, Chicago TOTALLY uses the Oxford comma. *sobs*

Image courtesy of wordstogoodeffect.com
Hey, Chicago – I knew I liked you best for a reason

I think there’s the chance that boss man will no longer consider me an expert on Chicago.

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I’d like to think you read my blog because you like funny things. And much like I enjoy being right, I also enjoy being considered funny.

It would be a real low point if you read my blog out of familial/friend obligation or because you and your friends like to make fun of how lame it is. Seriously, I would totally cry. Lots.

Anyhow, I fully recognize that I am absolutely not the funniest person out there, and I like to share funny things with the world (or, you know, ten other people), so you might have noticed the “Blogs to Follow” on my upper right corner. Oh, you haven’t noticed that? Tsk tsk — I changed my blog theme and everything so you would. Anyhow, it occurred to me recently that you might not know why I think you should follow these blogs, and so …

Shadrab.com (The Apostrophist: a Grammar Blog) — This isn’t actually a humor blog as much as a blog that will make you a better human being. This is actually the website for my best friend’s editing business, which covers everything from web content to syntactical sustenance. But when she writes in her blog (including the Oxford comma and how to use words like “comprise,” which seriously you’re probably using incorrectly), she’s extremely witty and clever. And if you were to hire her to be your PERSONAL EDITOR, you’d get regular doses of her hilarity. All day long. So hire her already.

Hyperbole and a Half — Blog readers beware: you might pee your pants whilst reading Hyperbole. Allie deftly combines the magic of the written word and the artwork that can be produced by Paintbrush (as in the Paintbrush that comes standard on every computer and essentially allows you to draw pixelated squiggles with your mouse). That, in and of itself, is hilarious because she draws herself as such:

Image courtesy of hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

As means of forewarning, there’s adult language in a number of the posts.

The Weed — I’m proud to say that I know The Weed personally — I’ve known the entire family for years (his parents were even at our family only wedding ceremony, so if that doesn’t indicate closeness, then I don’t know what does.) You might have recently heard the name Josh Weed or Club Unicorn thrown around on the Interwebs … you know, like on gawker.com or perezhilton.com (No. Big. Deal.) due to his recently coming out of the closet on his 10-year anniversary (celebrating his marriage to a woman who knew he was gay before she even married him.) Not only does he produce hours of giggly fun, but his daughters are chock full of excellent fodder, such as Bambi Nuggets and family-run cesareans.

The Surfing Pizza — I came across this blog by Google searching for humor blogs. Incidentally, when you do something like that, you end up with a lot of blogs that are not even slightly humorous. But! Chances are you will find something that is wordsmithing gold. I spent the majority of a work day reading post after post, ranging from flea market finds to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And the biggest upside? He has a Master’s in writing from Johns Hopkins University, so he actually knows how to write.

It’s like magic, you guys.

So those are my top four blogs right now. And I actually read them. Like, I get emails and notifications on Facebook that posts have been published and then I immediately stop what I’m doing and go to the original sites and read and laugh and share with my friends and then drop into a bit of a depressed slump realizing that, in comparison to these fine individuals, I am actually not all that funny. Never mind. Someday I will be.

And at least I have my rightness to tide me over.

The Mind of the Overthinker

You know how sometimes you’ll be talking to a friend (or even an acquaintance) and he/she suddenly pulls a random topic out of the air? Switches on you when you had no realization that you were actually finished discussing the previous topic? The change is usually accompanied by something along the lines of, “I don’t even know what made me think of this, but … ”

I do this all of the time. I won’t say literally, even though that’s kind of the “it” word these days — after all, most of the time I stay on track pretty well. But I can safely say that I literally always know what made me think of it. I just don’t want to share the thought process.

Because the thought process goes something a whole lot like this:

“I’m making a salad that has apples in it. Our apples are really flavorless. Kate told me apples are out of season, so that’s probably why. I hope Kate doesn’t think I’m lame for eating out-of-season produce. She eats awesome produce. She made kale-potato cakes the other night. I wonder if she’s ever had kale chips. I should ask her if she’s ever had kale chips. She went to this awesome restaurant the other night with her boyfriend. They had delicious food. I wonder when they’re going back next. I should peruse the menu to see what I would order if I ever went. I wish I lived nearer to her so we could actually hang out on a regular basis. When I move to Portland, eventually, I’m going to have lots of friends to hang out with. I am really excited for my upcoming high school reunion. I wish I could have lost more weight. I need to exercise more. Pinterest.”

I also spend a lot of time dwelling. Shadra always tells me to not worry, or to spend my time thinking about something else, but she full well knows that there’s literally nothing she can ever tell me that will actually make me stop worrying. That’s a literally I can stand behind. Case in point: several years ago I attended a holiday party with my parents, and they had this guessing game in which you wrote down your dream present and everyone guessed to whom it might belong. I wrote down shiatsu knives.

Shiatsu. Knives.

For total clarification, those are two totally unrelated things. Shiatsu is a type of massage, and I was actually thinking about santoku knives when I wrote my answer. I still worry, from time to time, whether anyone from that party remembers my faux pas and whether any of them still think I am a total and utter moron. They’ve got good evidence.

“Oh, look, she got her santoku.”

Until all the party-goers die, I’ll worry about how that experience made me look.

Before you get really concerned about me: I realize no one really cares. I’m 99.9% certain they’ve all forgotten about it. In fact, it could be argued that I’ve made things worse by bringing it up for them to potentially read, provided they stumble upon this blog post.

Oh, great: one more thing for me to worry about.

Case in point number two: the unresponsive friend. This will eternally be the bane of my existence. And Facebook has made things even worse by informing me when any of my messages have been “seen” by the recipient. Fact: there is no way Facebook could possibly know such a thing, unless all computers mass produced since the beginning of computing time were actually installed with eyeball scanners. And since I think we can all agree that probably hasn’t happened, I think we can also all agree that Facebook is just ruining our lives, one update at a time. 

Image courtesy of latimes.com

I laid my soul out for a Facebook friend recently, who is probably very busy or consumed with…quite possibly anything and simply hasn’t had the time to respond, but Facebook told me he saw the message last night around 7:15 pm, and I might die any day now without a response. The upside? I am no longer 13-years-old and don’t feel the need to perpetually send more messages till I hear back. If there’s one thing time teaches you, it’s that you can, in fact, suffer in silence.

An Important Fact I’ve Been Leaving Out: I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (most commonly known as OCD.) Those three little letters probably bring to mind:

Image courtesy of wereviewfilm.blogspot.com

or

Image courtesy of divinefollies.wordpress.com

or

Image courtesy of imdb.com – I don’t usually care for spoofs on OCD, but Tony Shalhoub, you get an eternal pass.

and I get that. It’s Hollywood’s way of trying to stop making OCD obsessive and make it awesome instead. True story. In my case, however, OCD looks more like this:

Whoops. Wrong picture. That one gives does NOT help my case.

Better.

I’ve alluded to this in another post, but here it is — all out on the table. I’m mentally disordered and awesome. Mostly awesome. I often feel as though I have all the benefits of OCD and just a few of the drawbacks. This one time, my boss stood next to my desk, dumbfounded, till he finally admitted he simply could not believe how much more organized my desk was than his. (I should interject here, before my parents and Husband fall off their chairs, with peals of laughter, that the office organization basically…stops in the office.) And I am remarkably efficient; to the tune of being let go in my previous position because I got all the work I was hired to do completely finished. You can determine whether or not the efficiency really played in my favor. I’m still trying to determine that myself. Defense calls to the stand how the office was shut down by the police one day after my last, so it was probably for the best. Yeah, I know, way too many lawyer shows this week.

I don’t wash my hands incessantly, I don’t turn the lights on and off repeatedly, and I don’t sit at work, worrying that the oven might be on (on the contrary, Husband has often found the stovetop still on, hours after we finished dinner.) And, seriously, I will cut the mold off food and eat it anyhow. Most of the time.

As for the drawbacks, well, in the last year or so I suddenly determined I hated my eyes and my eyebrows, and have wished them gone ever since. I don’t do anything particularly weird besides wiggle my eyebrows and blink a lot (Richard Gere style), but I think we can all agree that’s pretty weird. Mostly awesome. Also there’s, you know, the worrying thing.

You’ll find books out there, written by OCD-sufferers — memoirs about how they suffered through life till they finally figured out how to not suffer any longer. But I think we can all agree that we all have more than enough reason to write memoirs about how we suffered through life for a plethora of reasons. [Also, if you want to write said book, visit http://shadrab.com for editing tips or to hire YOUR VERY OWN PERSONAL EDITOR. You’re welcome.] I don’t mean to make a mockery of OCD — that’s counterproductive — but you’ve probably mostly been exposed to the depressing or ridiculous. And sometimes it’s about as hilariously normal as anything else with low points and sometimes even high ones.

Low point: total hysteria over heights during a high school choral academy that resulted in my being led from the 2nd balcony to the mezzanine, hand-held, by the director, tears streaming down my face. High point: Books on shelf in order by author’s last name and separated by fiction and non. I get stuff done, people.

And, luckily for me (and Husband and parents and friends, mostly Shadra, who apparently has the longest fuse of any human that has ever lived) it kind of gets better over time. Just a couple months ago, Husband convinced me that I didn’t need to line all the magnets up on the freezer door. According to him, it didn’t look very good.

For the record, it looked AWESOME. But now it looks like this:

Not awesome, but no one has died yet, so perhaps Husband is onto something.

 

 

Do you have OCD? Recently diagnosed? Have a friend or family member with the best disorder on earth? Talk to me — I’ll even personally reply to every comment posted (unless it’s mean, and then I’ll just feel super bad about it and worry for eternity.)

And this is when you meet Shadra

Remember how I mentioned Shadra in my “About Mary” section because I knew she’d make some amazing appearance at some point?

This is that point.

Oh, sure, I’ve namedropped a few times, but this post is actually all about her. Which is really saying something because I love writing about myself all the time.

Shadra edits things. Yes, she even edits this blog for me, free of charge, because we are best friends and that’s what best friends do. Shadra even edits things professionally and has a brand new, beautiful website:

http://shadrab.com

At Shadrab.com, you will find not only tools to help you become a better writer for web content, book proposals, and much more; you’ll also find links to contact her so YOU TOO can become a superstar writer.

Admit it, you totally want to be a superstar writer right now.

Look how much she helped me!

The Low Point

Um, you’re still here and not there.