Friday, July 16, 2021

The Beauty in Breaking All the Rules

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

cahoots ~ fox ~ recoup ~ stickler ~ wistful

It was submitted by:


I used to be a big stickler for using proper grammar for even the most casual communication. But then I grew the fuck up a little.

Ok let me say I don't ever think it's a problem if in your personal life you choose to use proper grammar all the time. Most of the time I still do. What changed for me and what I'm really talking about is dismissing and/judging other people for not doing so. A preference is one thing; mocking others over a preference is quite different. I want to talk about both these issues--grammar and preference. And I hope the time you spend reading this is more agreement than eyerolls, but we'll see. I mean it's about to get real geeky in here...

I've been rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation lately (see... Geeky). And besides me developing a weird infatuation for Beverly Crusher, the fox of the future, it's been a fun way to think about people and humanity and social issues. Bodily autonomy, what makes a human different from anyone else, what might society look like without classes... And it is very much a intergalactic world without slang. Beverly do be talking all posh. Oh there's an alien race that communicates using an old epic poem about a battle the entire planet remains wistful about, but that's more or less about not treating someone less than you just because the two of you don't speak the same language at all which is a little different than bending and eroding rules to carve out a spot for yourself in a world where the dominant people carved and eroded societies and their languages in the name of imperialism. (Don't get me wrong, a whole lot of us need that lesson about different langues, too, but I still think that's different than slang and code switching.) It's interesting that on a show with unlimited races of peoples/aliens there is never an advanced culture that has developed localized slang in generations. To the people who created this show, in this world access to standards of grammar and syntax in the English language are equitable. Class is no longer an issue in Star Trek. Those issues have been resolved. And in that way, these creators decided slang would be eliminated. Everyone would have equal access to the same education and the same ability to grasp the written word, and humans, at least, would be more homogeneous when it comes to language as an aspect of culture. I do think judging someone for poor grammar at least in the U.S. is classist and ableist or can be as is the seeming belief of Star Trek's creative team. Our schools' funding is dependent on local taxes. It creates wide gaps in funding depending on the values of property in between the imaginary lines that create a school district, and unfortunately the powers that be have a way of keeping poor folks especially poor folks of color out of schools where a lot of higher class groups send their kids. Teachers already spend out of their own pockets even in some of the more funded districts with no way to recoup their money. So yeah in that way I think Star Trek is right about things. Maybe equal access and elimination of classes does change the evolution of language.

But that doesn't take into account how much fun it is to say fuck the rules every now and then.

Like that. And like that again. I'm not supposed to, according to the rules, use just one sentence in a paragraph. I'm not supposed to start a sentence with a conjuction unless it is following a sentence and makes a complete sentence. And then I followed it with two dependent clauses that should never stand alone the way I left them. We've become a society that communicates almost solely online at times, and because of that, we have learned to write/type with affectations and put fun into it. Words are written in distinct ways that change the tone and connotation of what's being said without it having to be heard. Slang words spread far more quickly beyond the small groups where they begin. Language evolves as we do with the times, with our needs, and because some of us want to have fun with our words when and where we can. That's part of the beauty of language. And that evolution does not mean you can't prefer to use grammar by the rules entirely nor does it mean there aren't spaces where a standard might be necessary so we all understand what is being said and the importance of the meaning behind it. But a preference one way or another outside of those limited situations should never come with judgement about the other person's worth or ability. It shouldn't mean we have to discount what someone has said because they don't follow arbitrary, prescriptive rules. If you can understand what's being said *if* it is being said to your that's all that matters and even if you can't understand, a polite request for explanation is fine. And if it isn't said to you, then it's none of your business anyway.

What I'm trying to convey here is that even if we somehow manage to escape the inherent faults of capitalism and have a classless society where everyone's needs are met, we won't be without slang, without linguistic cultural experiences, without blendings of languages and meaning, without new rules we can joyously break. I think slang is inherently part of existence and has as much value as precise academic speech and purists' opinions. The writers of Star Trek even understood that when writing Picard's detective noir episodes. The slang was part of the experience. As it should be.

So now that we all know we don't have to be in cahoots with the rule makers and justify mockery because of arbitrary standards, I hope you appreciate the more descriptive language around you.

Oh and live long and prosper. 🖖🏻

Friday, July 9, 2021

A Number 4, Hold the Patriotism

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This month 5 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Your “Secret Subject” is:

Are you a fireworks person? How do you celebrate the 4th of July?

It was submitted by:



I feel like I could probably leave it there, but that wouldn't really make for an interesting read, so let me overshare some more of my thoughts and life. Why the fuck not?

I've never liked fireworks even as a kid. Cried over them every time. I startle easily, though--loud noises, someone just randomly coming around the corner or speaking to me when I'm in my own world, the most tame scene in a not even very scary movie. It doesn't take much.

Let me introduce you to my friend, Childhood Trauma. C.T. has been faithfully by my side for as long as I can't actually remember at all because, you guessed it, Childhood Trauma. She's pretty cunning but ever-present in my life. Honestly, she really shaped who I am as a person even this many years later. I don't know who I'd be without her. And the great part is no matter how hard I work at pushing her away, she pops back up at the weirdest times, and it's like she never left at all! And she definitely likes to give me some jump scares.

Seriously, fuck fireworks. I get little snatches of memories here and there about being a kid. There are things I know without remembering specific events, but there are many little blurs of things I can recall, and there are some terrible images of my parents having knockdown physical fights over fireworks especially on the 4th buried in my brain. July 4th is my mom's birthday, you see, and she didn't want my dad using the 4th as a reason to get drunk and shoot off fireworks (and his mouth) and pretend it was for her birthday. We couldn't get very many fireworks in a Georgia legally back then, and I remember crossing state lines to this little hole in the wall shop in Alabama with the tension thick enough it slapped against your body like a weighted blanket so heavy you couldn't kick it off.

So we'd drive back, the car either scarily quiet or loud with the fury of two people who didn't have a clue how to love or understand one another. By the time my dad shot the literal fireworks, the metaphorical ones had ruined the day. And unfortunately my feelings about fireworks are forever associated with those metaphorical ones my childhood was so often witness to. There's nothint but panic and fear and a desire to hide under the covers and pretend it's all okay.

As you can imagine none of this really lays a great foundation for celebrating the 4th, fireworks or not.

I didn't grow up in a very patriotic family. We were poor working folk. Money was a hard topic. We were rural and low class and in this part of America in the 80s and early 90s, that meant something different than it does now. It was outlaw country then, for us at least, real rednecks like the warring for unions kind. And outlaws like the we don't fuck with cops kind. American was just a small part of our identity, the smallest. Everything else was just so much more pressing, right? So this "holiday" that my parents would still have to work on was always more about my dad getting drunk on my mom's birthday than America. America took a backseat to my mom wanting a day for herself in a life slowly killing her and my dad wanting to let loose because being a fucking adult sucks bricks especially when you're killing your body for barely enough money to keep everybody dressed and fed. And as shitty as all that sounds, I'm very glad that on top of all the trauma my childhood gave me, I didn't also get brainwashed into blind patriotism or religion. I feel like it left me open, if I somehow worked through the trauma at least, to bigger, different ideas, to be curious, to ask questions, and to demand better.

What exactly are we celebrating anyway? America is rarely any of the things we were taught in school. And the older I get and more I learn, the more I realize how little there is to celebrate. We won a war for our sovereignty and immediately started doing the same exact things to other people that we started a war for in the first place. I think we have a lot of work to do before it's time to celebrate, but I certainly don't shun others for wanting to use time off or whatever excuse to have a good time with some good food, friends, and family...if you leave the fireworks out of it at least.

And even if somehow I could get past all that, my friend who was murdered back in 2002 had a birthday on July 3rd, and even this many years later, as I always say when I write about him, he stays on my mind. Loss and grief are weird things whether it's the loss of a friend in a tragic, unexpected, and senseless way or the loss of childhood to trauma and pain. They're always there. They're always the same just learn to grow and shape yourself around them.

Halloween is the better holiday anyway.


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

What TF Sarah