Inane Grammar Rants with Elise: TRYING My Patience

It should surprise no one that I am somewhat of a grammarian. Is my own grammar perfect? Not even remotely. But I do understand the difference between a possessive, a plural, and a contraction ("Elise's grammar is not perfect," "Many Elises worry about grammar," and "Elise's a grammarian."). I know, and am avidly conscious, about split infinitives even though most people don't even think this is a rule any more. I try to use commas appropriately, but I am known to overuse them from time to time. I also don't really care if I end a sentence in a preposition, but I DO understand why it's a rule and that there is much debate on the subject. And I freely admit that I haven't the slightest clue why certain words get capitalized in titles and others don't, so I often just capitalize them ALL, which is not really a solution and I should just learn this.

With this said, I ALSO try not to be a snob about it. There are times I avoid Facebook simply because I CANNOT stand the lack of capitalization and punctuation (along with the plethora of inappropriate abbreviations; I'm looking at U, U-users), but I don't correct people either.

This is a rambly introduction. Sorry about that. What I'm trying to say is that I NOTICE bad grammar and GRATES. But I try to just go with the flow and ignore it, because who wants to be this guy? But every once in a while, I will point out poor grammar to a third-party. And it usually bites me in the ass. [GASP! She just SWORE! On the blog where she PROMISED not to swear! She must be tired of living up to her own expectations! Or maybe she just thought it was funnier than "bites me on the booty." Because maybe she doesn't want to sound like she's talking to toddlers? Hmmm...]

In light of the previous three (useless) paragraphs, let me tell you a story. When I was in high school, this song was popular:

Green Day - Brain Stew/Jaded:

I'm sure many of you remember it. In case you're wondering, I'm not exactly ADVOCATING this song, as the rest of this post will surely make clear. I'm just saying it was POPULAR and lots of people probably know it. You don't even need to watch the video to understand my point. In fact, save yourselves the agony, because my point involves ONLY the first line of this song. It goes a little something like this:

BUHdum BUHdum BUHdum BUHdumBUHdumBUHdum [What? It's not easy turning sounds into text!] BUHdum BUHdum BUHdumBUHdumBUHdum "I'm having trouble trying to sleep..."

Maybe you're not seeing where I'm about to go. Maybe you are and that means that you are my PEOPLE. But probably, this is just something that got warped inside of my head and no one else can see why. But this song bugs the ever-loving DAYLIGHTS out of me.

Having Trouble Trying to Sleep: A Grammar Rant by Elise Seaton

It was 2002. I'd recently had an English assignment in which I had to choose a popular song and analyze the lyrics, much like one would dissect a poem. I'd heard Brain Stew a few times, but I'd never really given it much thought before. One day, it came on the radio and my Dissector started pinging. I made an idle comment to my brother (who was driving the car that held the radio that was playing this infernal song) that it's pretty much impossible to HAVE TROUBLE TRYING something.

And thus, a decade-long, entire-family-versus-just-me disagreement began.

Think about it, though. You can have trouble sleeping. That's reasonable. You lie down in bed [FULL DISCLOSURE: I just had to look up the correct use of lie/lay bacuse that one is still tricky for me], you close your eyes, and you count sheep only to find that you are STILL AWAKE, despite your best efforts. I have been there. I understand this. I understand this ALL TOO WELL. You have ATTEMPTED to sleep and you have been unsuccessful in ACHIEVING sleep.

BUT! Think about what you're saying if you're having trouble TRYING to sleep. You attempt to lie down in your bed to attempt sleep and there is a force-field between you and your bed. Or you continuously lie down and fall immediately out of your bed. Or you attempt to close your eyes, but someone holds them open and you strain and strain to get your eyes closed. That is what having trouble TRYING says to me. That you are ATTEMPTING to sleep and that you have having trouble with your ATTEMPT.

BUT! Even then? You are having trouble GETTING INTO AND/OR STAYING BED. You are having trouble CLOSING YOUR EYES. The trouble is not in the ATTEMPT, the trouble is in the ACTUAL DOING. As Yoda says, "Do or do not. There is no try." Except the grammar of THAT statement is also questionable, so FORGET I USED IT OMG.

What I'm TRYING to convey here, and perhaps I am failing in the ACTUAL CONVEYANCE, is that you cannot have trouble TRYING. You can only have trouble DOING.

And I'm pretty sure I'm right about this.

By now, you may be asking yourself: "Why the hell is this important? [She swore again! She must be riled up! Except that really? She just made YOU swear. Which is different than actually swearing. It's like quoting a movie--it's not REALLY swearing.] It's one line in one song that wasn't all that good [I'm projecting good taste on to you, just go with it] and isn't really ever on the air anymore anyway. Not to mention all of the other songs with greater grammar issues. Why is it such a big deal?"

And I will tell you: IT'S NOT. It is not important AT ALL.

EXCEPT! I made an idle comment TEN YEARS AGO and this is STILL a family joke. They think I'm being a grammar snob. And they also think I'm WRONG in my clearly-outlined and completely RATIONAL AND LOGICAL conclusions stated above. So every time I hear this song, it sets my teeth on edge. Partly because it just stands there in its WRONGNESS and is flagrantly WRONG, but also because of the hassle I'm going to get from ANY MEMBER of my family if they realize what song it is. Or if I use any combination of the words "trouble," "trying," and "sleep" in the same sentence. This has reached LEGENDARY status, people, and not in the awesome-Barney-wait-for-it-Stinson kind of legendary.

I don't even argue back anymore, because it will just ENCOURAGE them and AGGRAVATE me to no end. But I'm ashamed to admit how often I still argue this out in my head. So the other day in the shower, while I was yet again arguing with myself and my mental versions of my family members (what? shower time is THINKING time), I decided to write this post. I figured 1) this is my blog; 2) if nothing else, I will be able to get my whole argument laid out on record (whatever kind of record a blog is...) without interruption; 3) the Internet is huge and maybe I will find someone to stand with me in this never-ending battle; and 4) this is the perfect subject for the kind of ranty-style post my blog has been missing since I left my rantastic job.

I have clearly thought about this far longer than is reasonable or necessary.

SO! In conclusion: You cannot have trouble TRYING, you can only have trouble DOING. Tune in next week for Inane Grammar Rants with Elise, in which I explain how absolutes with binary states (unique, pregnant, equal, etc) CANNOT and SHOULD NOT be paired with adverbs denoting intensity (really, very, somewhat, etc). This should be a rip-roarin' good time.

P.S. I know that I just painted a giant TARGET on my blog that will encourage OBNOXIOUS people to go through this and other posts and point out all the times that I have used less than perfect grammar and you know what? I'm not even going to dissuade them. Because I DID kind of ask for it and these people are not the type to be dissuaded anyway. But fair warning? I will point out any grammatical flaws in your comment if you do this. As is my right. Let the obnoxion begin.


God is Not a White Man

I can't stop watching this music video. I find it hilarious, adorable, and challenging. It's a music video made entirely of FELT. I have your attention now, don't I? Anyway, this song pretty much sums up how I try to see God and people. I fall short sometimes, but I hope I'm getting better at this. And before you click away, thinking that this is some kind of preachy, evangelistic attempt to convert you to my way of thinking, I promise it's not. Just give it a chance. I'm pretty sure, no matter your personal beliefs, you will find this both funny and cute.

And if not, you can... I don't know... Punch me in the stomach? (John Green's preferred method of book recommendation, which works for me since none of you know where I live.) Leave a nasty comment? (I haven't really encountered any of those here, so it'll at least be something new for me.) I'll leave that up to you...

Gungor: "God is Not a White Man"

[You may have to click through on some readers. Sorry about the extra click. I hate them, too.]


Sunday Afternoon Thoughts

The title makes it sound like it's a recurring feature or something, which is just silly, because I'm sure there hasn't been any kind of regular feature on this blog, except for NaBloPoMo. And even then, the only "regular" part of it was that I posted every day. Nothing else I wrote had any kind of theme. Or met any version of the definition of "regular" for that matter. I'm pretty sure exactly zero of you needed this explained, but I think my delete key needs a break (cover letter writing and my lack of self-confidence this week wore it out), so you're all stuck with this as an intro. Or this: I have some thoughts; they are not connected; bullets.

  • It is ridiculous how often I find myself praying that I do not get in a car accident, not because I'm afraid of injury (Although I am. See also: snow anxiety), but because I'm afraid that any extra pressure against the lap belt with cause me to lose control of my bladder. I guess Papa's rule about visiting the restroom before getting in the car did not last into adulthood.

  • It's been gorgeous out lately and the snow is rapidly disappearing, which means that everyone and their cousin is out on the bike paths. Running, jogging, biking, and walking dogs. And all of it is making me wish I had a dog. I would be so fit if I had a dog that needed long walks to work off energy.

  • If I got a dog, it would probably be some kind of lab. Chocolate (predictable, right?). And I would name it something cute and quirky with just a slight edge of irony. Like my pastor's dog. His name is Solomon and I have never met a dumber animal (and that's including my hamster named Cookie who only moved about once a week). He's all happy energy and brute strength. I always forget his name and then think, "It's a Bible name. With an S. Must be Samson." Which would be much more fitting. But less funny.

  • It'll probably snow or do something else Far Northish tomorrow and I will see those same people with those same dogs and I will be supremely grateful that I did not go to the shelter and pick out a dog today. But it sure is tempting.

  • Sometimes I wish I could take a picture of myself and then forget what I look like. Well, basically, I'd like to look at that photo and see myself as a stranger might. I wonder what things I would notice. I wonder which things I would forgive. I'm so used to the face in the mirror that sometimes I wonder if I'm missing out on some crucial information. Like someone who proofreads their own work; they know what it's supposed to say, so they don't read what it actually says or see the typos. I don't mean this in some WOE IS ME I AM SO UGLY BUT I DO NOT EVEN UNDERSTAND HOW UGLY I AM kind of way. I just mean it would be interesting. Psychologically speaking. Or is it sociologically? Anthropologically? One of those liberal arts that would have been more profitable interesting than the one I picked...

  • I used to use the phrase Bad Decision Tuesday pretty frequently. Because most of my bad choices, usually regarding food on my lunch break when I was trying to escape my awful job, seemed to happen on Tuesdays since my weekend strength only lasted that long. Then I started using it describe any bad decision, on Tuesdays or otherwise. Which was probably funny to no one but me. BUT! I just had a phrase pop into my head, something along the lines of, "This plan was brought to you by the Bad Idea Twins." And I was kind of sad that I don't have a pair of friends that I can call the Bad Idea Twins. They would probably be a lot of fun to have around. I'm not talking about friends who CHRONICALLY make ACTUAL bad decisions and you're always having to bail them out or listen to their sob stories. Those people are annoying. I mean the kind of friends who come up with ridiculous and hairbrained ideas that would push me out of my comfort zone to attempt things that will make hilarious stories for my grandchildren. Right now, all I have for them is "I wore yoga pants and ate a lot of cake." That's sure to keep them laughing...

  • Something just occurred to me: I think I have a much greater chance of having grandchildren (or, you know, CHILDREN) if I put down the cake, change out of my yoga pants, and have some crazy adventures. I might actually meet someone then... Hmmm. Food for thought. Doesn't taste quite as good as cake, though.

  • I'm a big fan of automatic updates on my laptop, because I cannot possibly be expected to track down all of the updates my computer needs. But I swear, every stupid time I open my laptop, Adobe tries to update me. And all I can think is, "Adobe, you're like a preteen on Facebook--constant updates about nothing remotely interesting. Go outside and play. I'm busy."

  • I just found this birthday card Brother gave to Sister on her last birthday (this is an example of the kind of familial love I'm always bragging about).
Cover: "I couldn't ask for a better sister."

Inside: "Well, I could--but I think Mom's too old now. Happy Birthday, anyway!" His message: "I think they call this a Double Burn. Or would it be a 2nd Degree Burn? Happy Birthday!"

  • I WARNED you that none of this was connected. So if you felt like this post was a waste of your time, you really only have yourself to blame.


What My Cover Letters Are Really Telling You

Dear Hiring Manager,

My name is Elise Seaton (Well, no, it's not actually, but for the purposes of this blog post? Sure!) and I am interested in the open position of [ANYTHING EVER I DON'T CARE I NEED MONEY OMG]. My background with both [Crazy] and [Hostile] offices, along with my Bachelor of Arts degrees in [Highly Unmarketable Liberal Art] and [Useless But Important Sounding Quasi-Business Thingy], give me a unique skill set that would serve this position well.

My educational background makes me incredibly qualified to [sit on my yoga-panted rear and occasionally pass a standardized test]. I graduated Summa Cum Laude (Seriously, I know I'm acting like these degrees mean something other than "I paid close to $200,000 for these two pieces of paper to hang on my wall and they didn't even come with frames." I know no one is really fooled. But could you at least nod impressively while quietly dismissing four years of "hard" work? Thanks.), a full year ahead of schedule. During that time, I learned how to [BS really well], [play solitaire on Roommate's laptop while pretending to take notes], and [pass the aforementioned standardized tests].

My work experience has taught me [a lot of unnecessary lessons in the depths of the corruption of humanity and the things people will do to cover their own butts]. (You may have noticed a discrepancy in my dates of unemployment. I was unemployed for a 6 month stretch in 2010 and am once again unemployed for almost the same amount of time. I, uh... used that time for... traveling? Yes. I traveled. And did... VOLUNTEER WORK? And I also took time for educational pursuits, such as catching up on every episode of ANY SHOW EVER. It was very beneficial, let me tell you...)

I worked for [Crazy Boss Lady] for nine months (That is MUCH longer than you might think), during which time I gained experience in managing [hostile work and living situations], accepting responsibility [for projects and mistakes that belonged to other coworkers] (I think the experts call this "maintaining flexibility in a synergistic and collaborative work environment" or something), and researching [the best free coffee in the building]. I used my strong interpersonal skills to [unintentionally infuriate my boss on any number of occasions for reasons passing both our understandings] (mine because I couldn't figure out how to avoid pissing her off and hers because her understanding was about as extensive as a chihuahua's). If you would like a reference from that time period, please contact [ANYONE ELSE who worked in the building at the time, but please don't ask her. I have no idea what she would say, but it probably wouldn't be good. If she even remembers me...].

[After I took a nice long break for self-improvement] (see also: therapy and crying myself to sleep), I began work with [Big Jerk Boss Man]. This position required me to develop and maintain [a thick skin], to schedule and coordinate meetings for [the express purpose of public embarrassment] (his own or mine, it was always a toss up), and to liaise with other members of our organization to determine the accrual of [gossip, rumors, and slander]. References inquiries can be directed to [Conniving Ladder-Snatcher, as Big Jerk Boss Man died this week]. (Look, I don't really know what the rules are when your former boss dies and reaches a sudden and unexpected "beloved" status in your industry and you're still unemployed because you could no longer work for his soul-sucking office. It all feels a little... yucky. But a girl needs to eat, so where does that leave me?)

My skills and abilities include: efficiently and accurately meeting deadlines (if eating an entire pint of ice cream before the end of an episode of Castle qualifies), quickly assimilating [useless] data (Does anyone just NEED to know the presidents in order, forwards or backwards, with their first names? Then I'm your girl!), attempting new challenges with little or no supervision (last month I fixed our ice machine all by myself just by yanking on stuff until it made noise), developing strategies to [whisper babies], creating and modifying [but not FINISHING works of fiction], multi-tasking by [crying quietly in the corner of an office while also filing and answering phones], and determining the [absolute WORST working situations].

My background and education, along with my interpersonal skills, make me uniquely qualified to work for your organization. I believe that, given the opportunity to work with you, I could help your organization influence our community toward a better tomorrow (Or something a little less over the top. Okay, can we just agree that not having been to the dentist in years and running out of money to pay my student loans is reason enough to want this job?). Thank you for taking the time to review my credentials. I look forward to speaking to you personally regarding the position of [I NEED SOME MONEY]. Please contact me if you have any questions.


Elise Seaton

PS I'm pretty sure I'm going to get employment related spam over this, so if you're a hiring manager of any sort in any kind of industry in any part of the country, please, for the love of God, take pity on me and hire me?


I Am A Secret Agent Of Travel (Which Is Different From a Travel Agent)

My vacation is over. I’m writing this from the air over Pennsylvania (and probably LOTS of other states), on my way from Philadelphia to Minneapolis, where I will spend 10 (probably long) hours before I fly home to the Far North (Ha! You totally thought I was going to give you a city name there, didn’t you? Admit it!). Three weeks away from home feels like forever and also doesn’t feel like nearly enough time with Niece and Biggest Brother and Sister-In-Law. 

To commemorate my last night in town, Niece attempted to kill herself. Okay, it wasn’t nearly that extreme, but my racing heart sure felt like it was. She took a header off of her “big girl chair” at the dinner table, landing on her chin and biting through the side of her tongue, which bled and bled and made her pregnant mother nauseous with both worry and blood-related aversions. Then, after she had calmed down and sucked on a few ice cubes and had her bath, she bonked her head on a doorframe, trying to avoid being more than three inches away from her mother’s side. Needless to say, the evening was a slightly traumatic way to say good-bye.

Since Niece is so verbal and has such an excellent memory (Example: when my parents visited two months ago, my mother made a comment about how, when Niece was a big girl, she could maybe ride a horsey, since she was so enamored with them. Now, any time we praise her for acting like a big girl, she asks, “Me ride horsey now? Ride black horsey? Mommy, daddy help?”), we decided to prepare her for my departure a day or two in advance. 

In order to help her understand that I wasn’t going to live with them permanently, I started asking where various people in her life live, thinking I’d ease in. But her response to every question formatted “Where does _____ live?” was “in church” or “to work.” So I started asking her where people slept. For some reason, that worked and she understood that I usually sleep in a bed in [Far North] in the same house as Sister (This is where I REALLY wish I used our real names, because then I could phonetically spell out the adorable ways she pronounces our names with her version of Auntie in front of them). But every time I tried to explain that I needed to go back to that bed and that I wouldn’t be there for Easter, she would frown very seriously and say, in the most matter-of-fact voice, “But me need you, Onta [Elsie].” Break my heart, kid. Go ahead; I don’t mind. 

Anyway, leaving was ridiculously difficult (I welled up a little, then did my classic feeling-avoidance moves and read about other people’s feeling son blogs) and I imagine she’s going to ask for me for a while and probably refuse to talk to be on the phone because GIRL CAN HOLD A GRUDGE! So, I’m totally looking forward to that… Compounding the issue was the obnoxion that was trying to check in for my flight on Delta. I cannot BELIEVE the things they are charging for these days and the hoops they are making us jump through. Okay, I’m sure I’m not the first to complain about this and y’all are probably all, “We’re SO over it by now. Oh, and also? Stop complaining about the ‘new’ body scanners already, that’s so 2011…”

But man, I miss my civil liberties and the money that used to be in my bank account. I guess this is just the cost of living safe in the land of the free. Wait… Huh? Okay, I’ll avoid getting all politically ranty up in here, since it’s PURPOSEFULLY not my style (on the blog anyway—meet me in real life and we will have a very different conversation), but can I just say that I HATE them? And that I stand inside them with my hands above my head with (what I hope is) a clear demonstration of my rage on my face and in my posture, just to make sure that those who are looking at my digitally naked body understand that I’m COMPLYING, but I am NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT (because, as a habitual Rule Follower, I am destined to be a chronic Hoop Jumper, no matter my level of indignation)? And also: that it boggles my mind that we have them at the Airport of the Far North, but Philadelphia doesn’t? Because that seems inconsistent and strange. 

I seem to have lost the thread of this post… Ah yes. Ending my vacation. I loved everything about this trip and am really sad it’s over. Pennsylvania, you’re kind of awesome (well, the twenty square miles of you I saw). You’re awesome enough that I started looking at job opportunities in the Philadelphia area, JUST IN CASE. You know, in case I get a sudden signal from heaven that PHILLY IS WHERE IT’S AT, ELISE. GO FORTH AND LOVE THE AMISH! Or something. 

I’m pretty sure that as soon as I get home, I will remember all of the reasons I moved back there in the first place, despite the six feet of snow remaining in my yard (which will probably still be there in May, even though the rest of the country seems to have collectively made a 2012 New Year’s Resolution “to prove some variation of the global warming theory and confuse meteorologists, just for kicks”). Added to this will be my DEEP LOATHING anything dealing with a) packing; b) moving; and c) things that are packing/moving ADJACENT, including but not limited to 1) house hunting, 2) cable/Internet installations, 3) learning new road systems, and 4) realizing that NO SINGLE PERSON WITH NO MONEY SHOULD HAVE THIS MUCH CRAP. All of this means I am probably NOT moving to Pennsylvania anytime soon. But you never know (See my capslocky rendition of the voice of God in the previous paragraph).

Which means that there is no longer any barrier to me looking for and, you know, OBTAINING some form of employment in my hometown. I kept putting it off because I was always just BACK from travelling or just ABOUT TO travel or in the MIDDLE of wearing yoga pants and watching television. But really? My last official day was October 3, 2011. It is now April 2012 (in case you somehow missed that fact). Enough is enough, Elise; get off your rear and be productive already.

But before I end this rambling diatribe masquerading as a blog post, I need to comment on the travel thing. I did not leave Far North ONE SINGLE TIME in 2011, so this year has been very weird. I did some math (counting calendar squares is math, right?) and I have spent a grand total of 47 nights in my own bed in 2012. That’s less than HALF of this year so far.  Wow, that might comes off kind of dirty. Let me assure you: except for seven nights spent stealing the covers back from Roommate and failing to keep her from sleeping in my armpit (oh, and the endless fights with Satan’s Cat to JUST STOP SCRATCHING MY FACE ALREADY), I have spent all those nights in other beds ALONE.

January started off normal, but I think it was just lulling me into a false sense of security. Then February hit. I spent three nights of February in my own bed. First, I went to see Roommate on my way to Phoenix (and PJ’s @ TJs). When I got home, Sister was out of town (being frivolous and learning how to do her new job, pfft) which meant I was in her room with Satan’s “I USE MY CLAWS TO SHOW MY LOVE” Cat. I thought March would be fine, since I only had the two night retreat, but then Pennsylvania called and I was off again. 

I’m not complaining, by the way—I feel truly blessed with all of these opportunities. I just find it all very unusual. But here is my one complaint: most of the other beds I slept in were queen-sized, which makes it more and more difficult to return to my pathetic little (broken) twin bed. And actually? I won’t even get to spend tonight in my own bed, even though I’ll be in my own house, since Sister is in Alabama being a Groomswoman for a college friend. So I will sleep in her bed to better corral Satan’s Cat. 

Maybe this is not noteworthy to you… Maybe you spend the majority of your nights in beds other than your own. Maybe you even do this in the fashion I unintentionally implied. Maybe you make a habit of sneaking into mattress stores and trying out a new bed every night just to be eccentric and have anecdotes of your eccentricity to put in your autobiography someday. Whatever. It’s notable for me. I am a creature of habit and I CRAVE stability. So 2012 has been a little more topsy-turvy than I’m used to. Not bad. Just DIFFERENT. 

Wow, apparently being trapped on a plane with no internet access—and no toddlers tugging me to “come on; me show you sumpsing”—makes me wordy. Wordier. Whatever. I wish I had a great way to wrap this up, but I have two hours of flight time left to ponder the imponderable and gaze at my navel, so I think I’ll just cut this off by saying that a Dunkin’ Donuts large iced coffee is indeed LARGE and I need to mosey down the aisle to avoid an unfortunate public incident. 

Until next time, when I’m sure I will again stun you with my limitless fount of blogging prowess. Have a Happy Easter. Or, you know, don’t. It’s really up to you.