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The Power of Joy, or, Why Chewbacca-Mask Lady Is The Viral Hero We Need

At this point, odds are high that you know, at least in passing, about the latest viral video sweeping social media: Candace Payne, a mother from Texas, putting on a Chewbacca mask and laughing hysterically in her car by herself—I mean, hysterically. If you’re not familiar, take four minutes and treat yourself. Continue reading

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Arachnophobia 2: Electric Boogaloo

Hey, look, my blog is active two weeks in a row! Can you believe it? I’m not sure I can either.

This post is brought to you by one simple word that I (unfortunately) came across as I skimmed my morning blog roll: “spiderling.” Let it sink into your consciousness and roll across your tongue for a little bit. It’s pretty obvious what the word means, but let’s allow Merriam-Webster to clear things up, just in case there was any doubt: “a very young spider, especially where the brood remains on the back of the mother or in the egg sac for a time after hatching.” (It can also refer to a plant from the genus Boerhavia—I have no desire to Google Image that surely nightmarish creation.) Continue reading

Ire of a Grammarphile

As someone who makes their living working with words, it’s not exactly surprising that I’m a bit of a grammar/word nerd. (The slant rhyme in this post’s title aside, natch.) Let me elaborate somewhat on the points this distinction raises:

  • I don’t particularly care for the term “grammar Nazi,” mainly because I don’t appreciate the connotation—does someone who corrects spelling and word choice really need to be compared to a political party responsible for some of history’s worst atrocities? We’re already reviled enough by the public at large. I also hesitate to use the term to describe myself because people then just look for typos to correct in everything I write, which we all find exhausting. “Grammar police” isn’t as bad, but it’s still not a desirable term.
  • As evidenced by my use of the singular “they” in the first sentence above, I don’t adhere so firmly to the prescriptive grammatical rules of the language that my speech and writing become stodgy and outdated. I’m firmly in the “English-is-an-ever-evolving-language” camp—we need a singular, gender-neutral pronoun, and that’s that. Saying “his or her” is stilted and ungainly, even if it’s grammatically correct. I’m also a big fan of the word “selfie.”
  • That said, I do believe that rules exist for a reason. English shouldn’t just ignore all existing syntax and vocabulary rules just to accommodate the recklessness of language abusers. Case in point: the fact that “literally” now has an additional dictionary-recognized definition that acknowledges the word’s sarcastic, antonymic overuse is disheartening at best, and a travesty on par with human trafficking at worst. (I kid, I kid.)

Continue reading

The Tale of the Idiotic Duck

It was a lovely day in central Kentucky today: low-80s, partly cloudy, a light breeze. On my way home from work, I drove with my windows down and music cranked, surely making my fellow drivers crazy with my aerodynamic hand dances from my driver’s side window.

Now picture this:

Mallards, man.

This isn’t THE idiotic duck, but I’m sure this one’s stupid, too.

I’ve just pulled off the freeway, and I’m driving down the exit ramp toward a recently-turned-red light. (There are two right-turn lanes and a left-turn lane here, and I am the only car on the ramp.) I glance up and see a large amount of ducks taking off from the small copse of trees to the right of the road. There must have been 40 or so, flying across the lanes right in front of the stop light. I remember thinking that the mass duck exodus was a little strange, but it wasn’t anything incredibly out of the ordinary. Continue reading

Why I Consume So Much Entertainment

I’ll be the first to admit it: I consume a lot of entertainment. It’s more than just a way to wile away the hours for me; experiencing the magic of story through books, television and movies is my oldest and most passionate hobby. I love delving into narratives and immersing myself in their waters, surfacing afterward to ponder and discuss and marvel. It’s the primary reason I was an English major in college, and I’m never happier than when I’m extolling the virtues of a story I’ve just experienced to a dear friend. (If you’re interested, you can check out my running list of what I’ve consumed so far in 2013 here, and see for yourself just how many things I read and watch.)

I bring this up mainly because I’ve found myself battling a question lately, one that has done more mental damage than I’m willing to admit: with so many other things I could (and arguably should) be doing, why do I spend such so much time “lost” in other worlds? Shouldn’t I be out experiencing this life to the fullest right here and now instead of coming home from work, making dinner and reading a book or watching a movie?

Continue reading

Post Office Sketch #1

As part of my duties as assistant editor at Hobby Farms magazine, I am responsible for making weekly to semi-weekly runs to the local post office to pick up mail and send out back issues of the magazines, etc., which means that I have to frequently wait in line. Because I’m perpetually analyzing my surroundings, I’ve come in contact with quite a few characters in my time at the post office. These are their stories.

She’s the quickest worker they have: middle-aged, but always at the top of her game, dark hair pulled back into a loose ponytail with a 90s-style scrunchie. She can prepare a package for delivery in mere seconds, her slightly weathered hands moving so quickly that they seem a blur in the harsh lighting, shaking the computer’s touch screen with a flitting intensity. Her whole body is tense, brimming with an inexhaustible energy that manifests only through her quick, accented speech and rapid movement. Eye contact is beneath her—if she spent time looking at your face, she would add a few seconds to her average interaction time. That’s not to say she’s unfriendly or standoffish; rather, she graces you with the occasional thin smile or peeks at you from beneath her bangs while she puts a sticker on your parcel, and she always uses an appropriate honorific to address you: “Hello, sir. How may I help you today?” Continue reading

Arachnophobia and Me

Here’s the thing: I am terrified of spiders.

I know, I know, you’ve heard it a million times from a million different people:

“I am SUCH an arachnophobic person!”
“Spiders are, like, THE WORST.”
“I just can’t even deal with spiders. They’re, like, so gross.”

But, seriously, y’all, let me talk to you about spiders and how they make me feel. Continue reading

"Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind."

-Virginia Woolf, "A Room of One's Own"

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