Went, Goes, So

When writing I start a lot of sentences with the word SO. And that is bad. Sloppy, lazy, bad grammar, bad writing.  Recently I have noticed, when speaking, people are starting sentences with SO – lots and lots of people. It irks me, my ear picks it up immediately and I automatically frown. Since I am also guilty of this, not so much in speech I don’t think, but in writing, I have no standing in criticizing anyone else. Still, it grates.

There is this bit of language usage where instead of saying ‘he said’ a person says ‘he went’ or ‘ so he goes…’ and ‘then I went..’ Went and Goes instead of  said or says. 

I always thought this was a New York thing but I’ve heard this usage in movies and tv shows so I’m guessing not. Unless the scriptwriters are New Yorkers – could be, probably not.  What say you? Do people talk this way where you live?

I use a lot of slang, but to my mind it’s not slang so much as a regional/cultural language quirk. When I was writing papers in college I wrote the way I spoke, as I do even now on this blog, and it cost me in the grade department. It’s why I could never be a professional writer or even be successful in graduate school. You know my writing style, can you imagine a thesis written in this style? Me neither.

The question is, can I write ‘properly’? In good, solid academic English? Probably, if I tried really hard, if I really put my mind to it, of course I could. I simply don’t have the inclination therefore it mustn’t be important to me. My love affair is with words, in and of themselves, words are solid things to me. I can feel them, smell them, taste them. How I put them together in a sentence is personal.

The only time I labor over how I choose and use words is when I write poetry. While I think in quatrains they aren’t always exactly how I want them the first time they present themselves, well rarely.

If you have ever seen my notebooks (and you have if you remember) then you know how carefully I craft a poem.

Prose and poetry – different voices, different effort. Even my humorous poetry is carefully honed. Therefore not a matter of content or even intent.

I’m just meandering …


Whenever I see, hear, say the word “words” immediately my brain starts playing that song by the BeeGees, and I don’t even like the BeeGees…Anyway moving on…

Homophones seem to be the most oft committed grammar error. I’ve been writing about this for years, wondering why people have problems with this. I never found an answer. Homophone errors are the ONE error that jumps out to me – I can be fuzzy on other grammatical matters but not this one.

In this morning print edition of The Washington Post there were two side-by-side articles in the Business Section regarding Eli Lilly dropping the price on insulin – from one article we have –

‘Vile’ instead of vial. Yet in the on-line version of the same article that error has been corrected. Raising two questions in my mind – why the homophone error and which came first – print edition or on-line edition. As a third question – who caught the error/who made the error.

Also – in an article reprinted from the Baltimore Sun, and not in the on-line edition of the Post, there is this awkward sentence “…which he has briefly remarked upon only briefly since…” What? Does that make you twitch as much as it does me?

Lest you say “Grace – get a life!” I must tell you my inner editor has been alive and well for as long as I can remember. For instance – back in the early 1990’s I read the book “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” – twice – all 416 pages. The second time was to make notes of all the errors, which I then typed up and sent to the publisher. That was fairly recent I admit.

I can’t at the moment remember a specific incident from my childhood but I can tell you one funny story from my early 20’s when I worked at the Encyclopedia Americana.

For some reason I can’t recall I had the page proofs for a section that included an article on the novel “Don Quixote”.  Also you should know that page proofs are pulled from the permanent print plates. Reading the article I noted an error – “flying pan” instead of “frying pan”. I laughed and brought it to the attention of the production manager. He was not happy. The editor was not happy. The copy editors were not happy. It could not stand, had to be corrected, therefore the whole plate had to be re-done – an expensive proposition. I was jokingly (?) told to never read page proofs again.

And yet – so many errors in what I write – words left out – tho I will swear that’s my computer messing with me. And my almost nonexistent typing skills. But that’s another story.

Whadda ya call it…

I’ve been on a cavatelli kick. For those of you who don’t know the different types of macaroni it looks like this:

We only ever ate this one way – with ricotta and gravy ie: spaghetti sauce/red sauce/meat sauce – however you want to call it. It seems cavatelli and broccoli is a classic – I’ve never had it. You can look up the recipe if you are curious. Cavatelli and any kind of vegetable seems to be a thing. Who knew? Not me.

Anyway, we called cavatelli bullets, probably because they look like bullets. Cavatelli was almost always fresh made at home and the trick to getting that shape was rolling the dough into a rope shape and then using your thumb you just flicked off a piece dough.

As I was making this for lunch today it crossed my mind how we called the dishes we used. While calling cavatelli bullets, makes some sort of sense, referring to different types of tableware “flat” and “round” makes no sense at all.

When told to set the table for dinner we would often ask “Flat dishes or round dishes?”  In our house a flat dish was –

and a round dish was –

Now quite obviously both dishes are round. The first plate is just a dinner plate. The second dish I suppose could be called a soup dish(?)  To my mind a soup dish is smaller and deeper but this is what I own but I don’t eat soup from it.  And since I am the only person who deals with the dishes in my house it doesn’t really need a name. Tho in a pinch I guess I would refer to it as the glass dish.

I don’t know where that absurd designation for the dishes came from but I do remember that the terminology later became “flat dish” and “deep dish” which makes more sense I suppose.

What do you call these two different types of dishes?


Say the word ‘sleep’ and my brain automatically responds “Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,” MacBeth, Act 2, Scene 2 – Wm. Shakespeare.

But I’m not writing about sleep, I’m exploring the world of words, particularly words that are misused but which misuse is accepted as correct because it has been a part of the language for so long (such as irregardless. Using the prefix ir does not change the meaning of the word regardless.)

Speakers of the English language seem to think that if you attach the prefix ‘un’ to a word it creates an opposite. But that’s not always true.  There are actually words whose ‘opposite’ means the same.

The other day I happened across a writing that used the words “ravel” and “unravel” in the same sentence. I’m sure the author experienced those two words as opposites in meaning. They are wrong, strictly speaking, but in common usage no one would take them to task.

Except me. And why I would even know that – too much Shakespeare? Too much reading of dictionaries including the OED?

And why, while writing this, could I not remember the word prefix? I did eventually but only minutes later I can’t remember whether the remembering was spontaneous or resulted from research.

On to another inconsequential subject –

When I first took up blogging one of the first little tricks of the trade I learned was to have clickable links open in a new tab.  I do believe you had to add the code yourself but that was easy enough to do. By making clickable links open in a new tab you make it easy for your readers to access the linked site WITHOUT leaving your site.

I don’t know about you but if I am reading anything and a link takes me off the original site and then to go back to the original article I have to use the back arrow and wait for the page to load again – well, hell no. I’m just moving on.

The thing is, nowadays, you don’t have to insert the code yourself, the ‘link’ tool does it for you –

See that box under “Link Text”?  Just click it!

Any clickable link you see in anything I post on-line will always open in a new tab. You’re welcome.

Well it's funny to me –

 FedEx has the most convoluted shipping routes I’ve ever seen. Something I ordered was shipped from Trenton, NJ to Breinigsville, PA to Martinsburg, WV to Lorton, VA to Arlington, VA. It left Trenton on 8/10 and arrived at my door on 8/13 – so not bad I guess. The distance from Trenton to Arlington is 176 miles.

One time I had an order go from South Carolina to Texas to Louisiana to Florida and then to Virginia – I’m sure there is some sense in all that for FedEx, all I know is that it makes me laugh. Hey, I’m easy.

I just finished The Verifiers by Jane Pek. An interesting book, a mystery, a relationship/family story. modern romance, techie stuff, 20 and 30 something-aged characters. It also has dollops of humor courtesy of the main character, Claudia Lin. Gotta love Claudia. 

This particularly made me chuckle – 

“ ‘Good.” He said absently. ‘did you see the latest New York Time op-ed fumigating against preference algorithms?… I say under my breath, ‘Fulminating.’ I can already tell that when I get older I’ll turn into that insufferable type of New Yorker who interrupts the conversations of strangers to tell them what they are getting wrong.”

I laughed because I am that person (remember this recent post?) Or rather I was that person. 

I try so hard, and mostly succeed, in keeping my mouth shut. You want to make a fool of yourself in public? Hey, no problem. Go for it, you do it so well. 

The other day I read a post titled “Oy Ve” – um, no. That’s “Oy Vey”. Did I say anything? No I did not. 

I was going to relate another incident just so I could use the phrase “she called me everything but a child of god!” I don’t know why that phrase popped into my head while I was mentally composing this post but it did and it delighted me. So there is a random idiom for you courtesy of my pinball brain. 

I just thought to myself “Wouldn’t it be fun to have a book of idioms?” an idiom dictionary, if you will and of course there are tons, online and hardcopy. I’m going to make a new bookmark folder and stuff all those online sites in it. 

What fun that will be to browse through, eh? Or is that just my idea of fun? 

I stopped being serious

 about writing a long time ago. I never wanted to/aspired to being a prose writer, a writer of novels or stories. I always wanted to be a poet.  In 6th grade I declared that as my chosen profession and Mrs. Forlano (you remember her, right?) said “You mean poetess” and I retorted “No, I mean poet, it is a neuter noun” Little ole rebellious me.

I don’t read a lot of new poetry because poetry has changed; it seems to me to be just prose chopped into short sentences. But it also seems that is just me. Yet, one of my favorite newer poems is exactly that – prose in short sentences and yet immediately recognized and experienced as a poem. I’m so confused. 

I always insist that poetry must have meter/rhythm/music; I have always been somewhat dismissive of “prose poetry” and “free verse” – it just doesn’t scan for me (you see what I did there?). There is a lot of crap poetry around the blogosphere – and the mistake I see most people make is – they don’t put in the work. They don’t maintain the imagery or the metaphor. Poetry is damn hard work. Writing is damn hard work – it is not just spewing words on a page. 

I just had an exchange with a friend – she is so talented and gifted with words, language, metaphor. I call her the Empress of Metaphor. Her writing is lush and lovely. I don’t always understand what she is writing about and I don’t care, I just love the way the words flow. She is super smart, well educated and a lot of her references and metaphors go over my head but I get the beauty of them. 

Anyway – she is finally getting ‘serious’ about writing and she said “… but need a bit more discipline and some work around craft.” Craft – she is working on her craft. (Craft: Skill in doing or making something, as in the arts.”)
I stopped working on my craft long ago. When I was young I took poetry workshops, I took writing classes, I worked it. I still do when I settle in to write a poem but there’s the rub – the discipline part. That and the fact that I write personal poems. I don’t comment on the world at large or Nature. I only write about how I feel. And most days, these days, I don’t feel much of anything. 
Yet – I’ve talked about this before – I think in quatrains. My thoughts come in poetic form – with rhyme often, certainly with meter. I’ve got rhythm! 
But I have written prose that knocks MY socks off. I read my own stuff and think “Damn, that’s good.” But when it comes to prose I am only a writer of good lines. But my voice is my voice. I write the way I talk. But better because, oh hey, I can edit what I write. You may not realize how much goes into simple, seemingly off-the-cuff posts like this. 
At any rate, I no longer have any pretensions to being a real life ‘professional’ published writer. My goal of having a book of poetry published is long retired. I don’t even consider myself a serious writer. Writing for me now, maybe always has been, is just a form of therapy. I think if I had any kind of social interaction I would write even less than I do now. 
I will always prefer pen and paper to typing – 

Heard with a sneer

 Whenever I read the phrases “you do you” and “it’s not all about you” I hear them said sneeringly.

There is something so dismissive about those phrases. So belittling. The speaker (or writer) matters, you don’t. 

Their choices/preferences matter, yours don’t.

When either of those phrases are directed at me personally (instead of in a general way as I read in someone’s blog this morning) I get – well, to be honest, nasty. 

After overhearing a conversation I was involved in, a person said  “You verbally chopped them up and flushed them down the toilet!” 

When anyone says (or writes) those phrases to me, they get chopped up and flushed down the toilet. 

But calmly. I don’t shout. Not when I’m truly angry. 

That’s the funny thing. I don’t handle raised voices very well; having grown up with raised voices. Raised voices = people shouting in anger, me feeling threatened.

I do raise my voice but, how should I put this, in a benign way? In annoyance rather than anger; to warn someone of danger most certainly, when taken by surprise. Or when listening to the news…I shout at the television a lot. The television doesn’t care. 

When I am truly angry I get quiet. Very quiet. I speak quietly and deliberately. 

When I get truly angry, to the point of losing control, I don’t see red,  I see white.

On those occasions when I have been pushed to the point of white anger someone usually got hurt, it’s never been me. 

I’ll put up with a lot of shit from people; keep my mouth shut, not overtly react, tell myself they are not worth the breath it would take to put them in their place, chopped up and flushed.

But then – those times, those times when I go all quiet, those times when someone crosses the line from mere stupidity to unconscionable,  when they push my alarm button – Be afraid, be very afraid.

“You do you” and “It’s not all about you” aren’t quiet anger producers but they are “verbally chopped up and flushed down the toilet” provokers. 

There are things up with which I will not put.