Saturday, December 20, 2008

"Proper" English

I started reading "Stories of English" by David Crystal. For my English minor, I had to take a history of English course at OU. We read "A History of the English Language" by Baugh and Cable, one of the most comprehensive texts on the subject you can get, featuring both a linguistic and cultural history of the language from the Middle Ages on up. Being the dork that I am, I was really geeked about the class until the professor totally ruined it for me by being the worst lecturer I ever had at OU and thus, sort of ruined the subject for me for a few years. She was a PhD student in her 50's and had absolutely no idea how to relate to people, much less teach.

But anyway, Neil let me borrow a copy of "Stories of English" and it got me looking into it again. Crystal approaches the subject in an entirely different manner, starting out by highlighting how most teach the history of English: Most tell "the" story of English as though there is only one - formal English. What's interesting is that even among those who strive to use formal English, what is actually "proper" English varies from discipline to discipline, style guide to manual. What is correct according to the AP Style Guide is wrong in certain instances of Chicago Manual, just as Strunk & White and the MLA approve of some things that others would not. Psychologists follow different styles than journalists, and so on. And no one typically speaks in those formalities on a daily basis - there are thousands of dialects and different forms of slang around the world. But most histories of English ignore all of the irregularities and try to make it one, seamless story. In the past decade or so, this has changed -- dictionaries and style guides are starting to tell more of the story of conversational English, but Crystal attempts to tackle it more comprehensively.

OK, so I am still a total geek. I think it's really cool. I am way too excited to be reading another history of English, but what else is new?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mason Williams

Thanks to "The Story of Us," I think Classical Gas will always be slightly depressing to me.

At least.

Compartmentalizing Your Life

Every Thursday, Neil hosts board game night - yes, it's exactly as it sounds: a bunch of geeks sit around eating junk food and playing board games all night. It is pretty fabulous.

So anyway, this week a conversation that took place made me think of how often people try to get certain aspects of their lives separate from the other pieces.

When I was at Borders, one of the groups there held a lunch discussion on separating your work and private life, and I'm wondering... when they have been kept separate for so long, can you really bring them together again?

What if, you've been in a relationship so long.. that separated work from live-in partner... from friends... to gaming group -- how could you bring them together again?

I tend to believe that keeping things so segregated shows some cracks in said relationship, but... I guess I can't really relate. In my past relationships, I simply stopped doing things certian individuals didn't want to do, rather than compartmentalizing... and I doubt that is any better.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Creative Pursuit

I have now been in my “new” apartment for more than 5 months and still have a few boxes of notebooks and books to unpack. So, yesterday, I unpacked a box that contained an old composition notebook in it from a creative writing class my senior year in high school. Most of it was absurd and hysterical, but a part of me was appalled that my 17-year-old self had better diction than I do now. I don’t care if it sounds like a crutch – majoring in journalism totally destroyed my vocabulary and any creative urges I used to have. Heh. OK, so that is part of it, anyway – the other piece might have something to do with working 2-3 jobs at a time while going to school full time for four years…

So anyway, my point is that I don’t write anything anymore. I still journal about twice a week as I have since elementary school – but I haven’t done any creative writing, really, since high school (definitely not consistently). It is pretty depressing. No poetry, short stories, novel attempts… nothing.

In the spring 2007, I took a creative writing fiction course at OU that I absolutely loved. It was incredibly difficult for me in several ways, namely because I was so out of practice and because, as a writing workshop… it entailed sharing your work and having it ripped apart by a published professor and peers. I took it in my final quarter of college and I wish, now, that I had been able to take it sooner and maybe delved further into it. OK, before I start another tangent, my point: I don’t really write anymore and I really should. Not just regurgitating another's words, rearranging sentences from an interview or a research article… I mean, really write.

So, starting today, I am going to actually try again. Maybe only once a week for an hour, but something. We’ll see how it goes. There was no way I could have made Megs’ suggestion of going for NanoWriMo, but maybe I will at least do something on a quasi-regular basis from December on.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Holiday Weekends and Everyday Occurences

A few random thoughts that I can't put together into a cohesive entry (except like this, with no segues):

Don't ever, ever drive back home from a family visit on the Sunday after a major holiday. If you live out of town, it will be a terrible experience, I promise.

I don't know why I still want to get married when I know from more than one experience how little it really means, particularly if it has no religious significance for you. But I do. I think I need that assurance, no matter how false it is.

I find that to be sad and upsetting.

I still think I would be happier working for a bookstore (if not necessarily for a bookstore company... =P)

I hate that I hold on at all the wrong times, and let go when I shouldn't. Apparently it is not only my gaydar that malfunctions consistently. Or is maybe just broken.

Oscar is once again living with me. That makes me very, very happy. And better yet, he and Chewy seem to be good influences on one another. Oscar keeps Chewy calm when they are home alone, and Chewy makes Oscar get a little bit of exercise (in all the right ways, I hope, or pretend, anyway). heh.

The right music can ruin my mood or make me feel better immediately. I find that to be incredibly comforting. Books do the same thing. That may explain while I can't stop listening to The Beatles, Aimee Mann or Tuesday Tunes and Jamfests right now. And also why I currently can't handle anything more in depth than Fables or YA fantasy at the moment in the literary world. And why I am consistently seeking out Edna again.

Silly holidays.