Thursday, March 11, 2010

I forgot again

Yeah, I forgot I had a blog. And I'm sure this will be neither the first nor the last time that this happens. However, I find that when I feel a strong urge to write something, I suddenly remember that this is here--so maybe that's a good thing. My blog is like my own personal "Room of Requirement," Harry Potter style. Yeah, I did just make a Harry Potter reference, and I am not ashamed to admit it.

I am writing today because after last night, I think I am officially losing my mind over comps. Is it possible to have a recurring nightmare over the course of one night? I feel like I had only one dream last night, and it repeated itself about 17 times. I still feel a panic attack coming on just thinking about.

In my dream, it was the day of comps--which, by the way, is officially ONE WEEK from today...a'wpeojfojwflahsdfklahsk. Anyway, I entered the room where the test was taking place and my teacher handed me a laptop and a sheet with the test questions. (Another side note: how cool would a laptop be in real life for written tests? I'm not looking forward to a 6 hour essay test that has to be handwritten.) So I have the laptop, open it, and look at the test--but somehow the test is sort of high tech too, in that I have to refresh the page multiple times to figure out the right questions. I didn't say my dream made sense.

On the real test next week, it will be divided into sections: ancient, medieval, modern, and "grab-all." There will be a couple of questions in each sections to choose from, but I have to answer one from each section. Of course in my dream, I have a hard time deciphering which questions go with which section--they are scattered all over the place, and I'm panicked thinking that I might accidentally answer two questions from the same section and fail the test. Also, the questions keep moving every time I "refresh" the page. Again, I didn't say this made sense.

There is only one question that I can understand in my dream, and it's in the one subject that I feel most prepared for in real life, which is on the constitutional Framing. So I decide to start with that one. I start to type, and all sorts of distractions keep coming up--people come into the room to talk, a meeting is supposed to meet where I'm testing, etc. Suddenly I realize that for my 4 hour test (even though the real one is 6 hours), somehow nearly 3 hours have passed and I haven't even finished the first question! There isn't enough time and I'm panicking again.

I decide I have to just start answering the rest of the questions to make sure I have a remote shot of passing the test--but then it's like I can't even figure out which questions go where, and what the questions even mean. Half of them aren't even questions. One is just a generic statement, like a quote or something, but without a question or any context for me to figure out what to say about it. Some of them are just inanimate objects. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to formulate an answer to a picture frame.

I scribble down random words and then time is up. My teacher grades my test on the spot. I see that my first answer (the only one I knew) got full credit, 60/60. (I guess my grading standards in dreams are pretty specific). The rest of my answers were terrible, and I did not do well on those. At the end of it all, a passing grade was (randomly) 158, and I ended up with 159 overall. I passed by one point. I guess you could say I should have felt relieved, but all I felt was disappointed. After all my studying and all my hard work, I only barely squeaked by with a pass thanks to all the craziness on testing day. It also meant that what I'd really really like to strive for on the real test day--to not only pass, but to pass with distinction--didn't happen in my dream.

I realize all this is a testament to my underlying anxiety about this test, but the dream is still with me and it's making it difficult to study today! I'm so nervous that I won't do well next week, and my degree depends on it.

I guess I just have to keep working and hope for the best, though. Maybe if the nightmares could ease up a little, that would make the process a little bit easier!

Okee doke. Back to work. Guess I'll need to be adding picture frames to the study guide today too...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Grammar blog?

Obviously I love words/grammar/spelling/etc. Sometimes I even think I missed my true calling as a copy editor. But alas, that is not the career path I chose, so now I'm left to post about it online. :) Should this blog perhaps lean in an all-grammar direction? Eh, probably not--but that doesn't preclude the occasional (OK, frequent) grammar post!!!!! Yee haw!!

Recently, one of my dear loyal readers ( it makes me sound important to refer to my "dear loyal readers," even though I only have about, um, three) asked me about the proper usage of the plural and possessive 's'. So today I present a lesson appropriately entitled: Kiss My 'S'.

When deciding whether to add an 's' to the end of a word, you must first determine whether you are adding the 's' as a plural or a possessive. For instance, are you talking about multiple dogs, or something that belongs to your dog? If multiple dogs, you need a plural 's' ("dogs"). If something belongs to your dog, you need a possessive 's', with an apostrophe (my dog's poop).

The tricky part about the 's' arises in situations where the plural form can be either an 's' or an 'ies'--when to use which form?? The good news is, you really only need to worry about this situation for words that end in 'y'. If the word has a vowel (haha, vowel--rhymes with bowel) before the final 'y' (as in "day"), just add an 's' as you normally would ("days of our lives"). If the word has a consonant before the final 'y' (as in "reality"), change the 'y' to 'ies' ("'Days of our Lives' is a show that compellingly portrays the realities of daily life").

For possessives, it may SEEM tricky to try to figure out an "s apostrophe" (s') vs. an "apostrophe s" ('s), but it's actually quite simple; in fact, it's ALWAYS correct to just add the "apostrophe s" and be done with it! The "s apostrophe" is only used after words that end in 's' (for instance, for a family named Jones, the possessive could be "the Jones' mullets"), but if you're confused, it's perfectly correct to add on the "apostrophe s" just in case ("the Jones's mullets").

Exceptions to the rule? There are always a few. People often have trouble figuring out when to use "it's" or "its", for example--and for that, use "it's" as a contraction for "it is" ("it's time for a pig roastin'"), and "its" for anything possessive ("that pig is about to feel some roastin' on its hind quarters").

In general though, just remember to determine plural or possessive, and follow the rules from there. And if you get it wrong and someone calls you out on it? You can always feel free to tell them to KISS MY 'S', STINKY McSTINKFACE!

Thank you,

Grammar Girl

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Random. Dome.

Two posts in two days? What can I say, I'm working to even out my abysmally pathetic average. Baby steps.

Anyhoo, I was just looking at my blog title and suddenly remembered what it reminds me of: Gurgi in the The Black Cauldron. Remember him? Or that book? It used to be one of my all-time favorites. I have a very clear memory of discussing the book in my sixth-grade English class, and a chubby boy with glasses who was in my small group was obsessed with how Gurgi always talked about "crunchings and munchings"--which, if you'll note, is rather similar to my title of "Musings and Ventings." So...there you have it. Then.

I'm Ron Burgundy?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Yup, it's true: I'm a total word nerd.

So I was reading one of my summer reading choices at the beach last week ("Certain Girls" by Jennifer Weiner), and I noticed -- as I always do -- that she often would use the word "bemused" in the sense that someone was operating in a state of mild amusement. This is one of my pet peeves in reading authors/columnists/writers in general, because the word "bemused" is so commonly used in this way, yet it SHOULD be used to convey a sense of being perplexed or confused. There is already a word for someone being amused; it's called "amused."

This being an issue I have come across many, many times in the past, I decided to look up the definition of "bemused" again just to confirm my misgivings. Lo and behold, what should I find this time but that Merriam-Webster online now actually lists a THIRD definition of bemused--and yes, it now states that bemused can mean a state in which one can "...have feelings of wry or tolerant amusement." Um, really? No offense Merriam-Webster, but I've been pretty secure in my assessment of "bemused" before, and have looked it up many times in the past. Never before have I seen it actually being ACCEPTED as a synonym for "amused", nor can I agree with it being used in such a way.

So, having fully embraced my word-nerdiness by this point, I did a quick Internet search on the evolution of "bemused" and came to find this very fascinating article on

If you're not as big of a word nerd as I am, and/or you just don't have the time or patience to read all of this, I'll break it down briefly here: basically, the word bemused now falls into an ever-growing category of so-called "skunked terms" in the English language, and Merriam-Webster has taken to including many of these "newer" (read: incorrect) meanings in its dictionaries. Another example cited in this article is the word "nonplussed"; its historical meaning is "puzzled", but since so many people now use it to mean "relaxed" or "unfazed", its meaning is headed down the same path as "bemused." And frankly, that is just wrong.

I'm all about evolution of the English language, but come on--are we really going to go so far as to accept evolution of word meanings simply on account of people being too lazy/ignorant/whatever to actually look them up?? I mean yes, I think we can all agree that "nonplussed", if seen without knowing its meaning, sounds like it would refer to someone who is not (non) bothered (plussed). That just sounds right, so it must be right--right? Because I mean, "plussed" just sort of sounds like "fussed", which is a kind of flustered word, so that should just all fall into accepted usage, no? Who really cares if the new meaning has become virtually the complete opposite of the actual meaning?? While we're at it, can we just add "plussed" to the dictionary too? It sounds like it should really be there, right?!

OK, well clearly I'm getting a bit too worked up over this, but I just find it annoying that we are so quick to transform a word's meaning entirely because people are so consistently wrong about using it.

Oh well. I guess I can just continue to try to do my best to use words correctly and hope that their true meanings will prevail. And as a side note, I realize that writing posts about words/incorrect usage is an open invitation for scrutiny about my own writing, but I would just like to point out that I know I am not always perfect--I like to split infinitives, for one--and I do try not to blast people who misuse words in an everyday context. I do, however, feel that professional authors, writers, etc. should be held to a higher standard on things like this. They are the ones perpetuating the mistakes to all of their loyal readers, and that is a real tragedy. (*Note: NOT, I repeat NOT, a "travesty"). But that is a post for another day...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bellyaches and Wedding Pics: Losses all around

It's been a rough couple of months (in some ways), so I figured maybe starting this blog and getting a lot out in the open might help me to focus more on my other priorities in life--the past few days have started to make me realize how important it is to do that.

Part 1: Physical Stuff

It's basically just been an awful week all-around on the physical front. I was awakened last Monday night from a deep sleep by horrible abdominal pain, which lasted in varying degrees of pain throughout the next several days. After trips to the gyno and ER Tuesday, the GI doc and surgical consult Wednesday, and a follow up with the GI doc and sonogram Thursday, they were FINALLY able to figure out the source of my pain: my gallbladder. Who knew it could cause so much freakin distress?? So after 3 days of being told that whatever I had was definitely not life-threatening, I was re-admitted to the ER Thursday night since they told me the position of my gallstones and the gallbladder inflammation was very concerning and I had to be on IV antibiotics immediately. On Friday morning, they removed my gallbladder completely, and a horrendous migraine and nausea on Saturday set my recovery back a bit, but I was finally released from the hospital on Sunday and am so, so, so very happy to be home at last.

My husband was a Godsend throughout the process, sleeping on the pull-out couch in my hospital room for 3 nights in a row, and helping me and supporting me every step of the way. It really made me appreciate the person that he is (even moreso that I already did, if possible), and realize what a tremendous difference the love and support of one person can make in your life. He was truly my guardian angel over the last week. My Mom, as well, was incredible, and made numerous trips to the hospital to offer support and company when I was feeling my worst. The rest of my family and friends were also just wonderful for their words of support, friendship and well wishes--I cannot thank everyone enough for making me feel so loved during a difficult time.

I am so happy to be home and in the process of recovery now; the surgery should also help with the stomach issues I'd been dealing with for many months (possibly years) after eating, which would be huge relief as well. To say the least, I am relieved to be on the latter end of this painful journey.

Part 2: Wedding picture stuff

So, in the midst of my abdominal distress last week (and on the anniversary of my father's death, which is always an important day for my family), we finally received a facebook message from our wedding photographer after literally more than a month of his refusing to respond to any of our phone calls, emails, or messages of any kind. Taken without the history/backstory of our situation with him, the email was very saddening: he basically told us, in great and superfluous detail, of his various personal difficulties, including the loss of his aunt the day before, and also the variety of other personal difficulties he's had to deal with over the last couple of years. The tone of the email was almost accusatory and guilt-inducing: the litany of personal distresses was accompanied by his imploring us to stop calling him regarding our wedding proofs, as he simply could not deal with us right now.

To say the least, I was shocked and angered by the email. Our history with him has been extensive by now: to go into it briefly, we were married on May 31, and have been asking him to simply see some--ANY--form of our proofs ever since. At one point, months after the wedding, he posted a mere 13 pictures onto a public facebook site, which was the first and only glimpse we've ever gotten of our treasured photos. We were more than compassionate and understanding throughout most of the first several months as he came up with various and elaborate excuses a number of times for why we weren't receiving them, to which our response was almost always understanding and very supportive of his need for time, space, etc. It's like we were in a relationship with him--and we are his CLIENTS! He would go MIA, without responding to our phone calls or emails, for many days at time on more than one occasion, and we became increasingly upset at this. When and if he would finally respond, more and more farfetched excuses would be thrown at us: the online website where he promised to post pictures simply "wasn't working"; he had to move halfway across the country; his business was going under due to an unpaying client; the proofs were repossessed along with his car (on the very day he was supposed to hand-deliver them to us); his cell phone provider was dropping his messages, etc. etc. etc.

Finally, after yet another deadline that HE had set came and went for us to see our wedding pictures, we lost it and were exceedingly angry with his lack of professional ethics and bad business, and told him so (in an email, since he refused to ever contact us over the phone or return any messages we left). It was especially frustrating for me since I knew him from high school and entrusted him with our WEDDING pictures, which to me is quite a level of trust that he had simply betrayed. Not to mention we had pre-paid him for his services, so there was little incentive for him to deliver us the photos as promised (both personally and contractually). After that point, he simply stopped responding. No number of phone calls, emails, voicemails, or text messages made any difference: Justin Schuck would not answer to anything we sent him. A post to his facebook wall was deleted without response; he was brazenly ignoring us for simply asking him to fulfill his professional duty to us. Heartbroken and upset, I sent him one final message on facebook, imploring him to please just let us know that we would receive our pictures at some point, and letting him know how difficult the entire process had been--it was literally keeping me up at night, which I told him in the message. It was not an angry message, it was begging for him to have some sympathy and at least CARE about what he was doing to us, which, like everything else, he simply ignored.

At a loss for what to do next, we then filed a BBB complaint: no response on that front as well.

So, after many weeks of absolutely NOTHING from him, to finally have received a message like that one was infuriating. Mountains of angry questions formed in my head: WHY am I only hearing about this now?? WHY would you choose the day after your dear aunt's passing to finally take 5 minutes of your time to email us this semi-accusing diatribe as if we were pestering you in this time of extreme distress--as if we even knew anything due to your lack of communication?? Why are we being subjected to basically DEMANDS of compassion after the way we've been treated--with NO compassion, or respect? Why were personal struggles from years past--which occurred prior to us even BOOKING your services--being brought up here, much less, why were personal struggles being mentioned AT ALL for our requests for you to follow up on professional services??? WHY were we being treated like bothersome creditors when all we are asking for is to simply see PROOFS from our wedding day--which we already paid for, in full, February of 2008??!!! And especially, WHY is any of this guilt trip even necessary at all...just send us ANY freakin form of our proofs-upload them to a CD for goodness' sake--and you'll never hear from us again!!!!

Not to mention, the timing of the email--composed the day after his aunt's passing--was clearly intended so as to prevent us from imposing any further demands on his obligations in such a time of personal distress. We hadn't so much as called him in over a week--but suddenly he's responding that day as if we'd been pestering him nonstop. And should we have forged ahead with requests for the proofs again, we would come off as unsympathetic a-holes, basically. It was manipulative and troubling that someone would go so far as to use personal struggles as an excuse to get out of professional obligations; as someone who had endured quite a lot of similar life circumstances at one point, it was truly disturbing to me. I would never--EVER--try to manipulate anyone through using my personal problems as a way to get out of any responsibilities, ESPECIALLY professional ones.

On a personal level, of course I feel terrible for what has happened in our photographer's life; but on a professional level, I cannot believe that someone has formed and maintained a business with this level of utter disrespect for his clients. It is manipulative, unethical, and bad business to say the very least.

So, as I sit here, again temporarily diverted from my tasks of the moment, I am ultimately betrayed and saddened by what seems to be the loss of our wedding pictures--a once-in-a-lifetime set of mementos. But, I will also move forward now, hoping for a positive conclusion in some way, and feeling better having vented about these never-ending issues.

Though I am still in a great deal of pain from my surgery, I know that I will sit at my computer and work on my graduate papers, because that is my current profession, and those are my obligations--regardless of the many personal strains I feel.

I hope that I will be strong-minded enough to be less anxious about the pictures, and hope against hope that some sort of positive result will come of it all in the end. Right now, I am happy to have my health coming back to me, and wish all my family and friends similar blessings.