Archive | Language Matters

Quibble This!

Some thoughts from a former copy editor and chronic critic: 1. I really despise “basic” as an insult. It’s classist, middle-school, mean grrrl mishegos masquerading as punk rock. 2. “Because [insert noun/adjective]” not only sounds ignorant but also rapidly has become hackneyed. Viva the verb! 3. Ditto for sentences.with.periods.after.every.word! 4. I adore exclamation points. They’re my tonal compensation for a blanket rejection of emoticarnage. 5. If you don’t have time to proofread that email/text/update you’re sending, you shouldn’t send it at all. 6. The rhetorical question is not as cute as you think it is. Try a colon instead of a question mark. Because really? The alternative is grating. 7. Adding a “y” to a noun doth not an adjective make. I particularly take umbrage with “rapey.” Sexual felonies are just not cute. 8. It’s not “side eye,” kids. It’s “a sidelong glance.” 9. I’ve started to refer to male interrupters/conversation-hogs as “verbal manspreaders.” Spread that.

A League of Our Own

I’ve always liked my manicurist a lot even if we’ve had a hard time communicating beyond the basics; her English isn’t very good and my Korean is nonexistent. A few weeks ago, we had a breakthrough, though. An animal rescue commercial came on the salon TV, and, from our shared reaction, it became immediately apparent that we both spoke the International Language of Cat Lady. Now, once we establish my nail color of the week, that her children are doing well, and how terrible I am for eating my cuticles, we converse solely in meows and purrs. Naturally, everyone around us thinks we’re batty once they realize we’re the cats they are hearing and, naturally, this only makes us meow more. It’s the nature of the beast. (Pictured here: Another member of our secret feline and fancy nail appreciation society.)

I, an Alarm

Ever since I moved my bed next to the window, the first thing I do upon waking is open the curtain. Then, settled against the pillows, I join the sun as she slowly rises, drifting back from the heavens where we’ve both been traveling all night. After decades of living in New York, I’ve become so attuned to my environs that my mood shifts right along with the indigo streaking into violet into rose into orange across the sky. Outside is inside, and on most mornings I find that fact beautiful.

I’ve had a melancholy week. My birthday was a disappointment and that was mostly my fault, which only makes me more melancholy. But each day brings a new sun, and I’m just easy enough to let her magic work on me. Tonight helped, too. I was crowded into a rush-hour subway, ogling a woman’s mermaid afro and fuming over a man standing too close, when I spotted a Poetry In Motion sign that was like another glimpse from my predawn bedroom window. The poem nailed the aloneliness* that develops when you are unwilling to mingle your sourness with others’, and reading it among so many strangers’ private smells and worries made me feel grasped by something better than my past. As did the quiet blue rooms to which I was gliding and which I’d built myself. It was the sweet knowledge I could begin again. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy