Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Grammar Lesson

One of the drawbacks to being an English teacher is that people think I grade their emails or even their conversations. I assure them I do not carry a red pen in my pocket, and now that I have officially left public education, I mention that I've retired the pen. I never want to embarrass someone by pointing out a grammatical mistake, nor do I want people to avoid writing me or talking to me for fear I will judge their grammar! I've seen enough of my own mechanical errors to remain humble.

Having said all that (and truly meaning it!) I am about to risk my reputation by addressing the misuse of I and me. It drives me so nuts I am compelled to blog about it! (Also, I have to write for 10 minutes,)

In elementary school, teachers correct children's "Me and my sister went to the store," by restating it correctly: "My sister and I." By the time that child reaches high school, he/she has morphed that correction into a new rule: "Don't use me."

Thus, we have sentences like this one: My friend gave movie tickets to my wife and I. or She called my wife and I. Would you say, "My friend gave a gift to I?" or "She called I?" Of course not!

So, without boring you with definitions of prepositional phrases, direct objects, and nominative/objective case, I encourage anyone who reads this simply to restate the sentence by using only I or me.

Me and my wife went to the movie. = I went to the movie.
My friend gave movie tickets to my wife and I. = My friend gave movie tickets to me.
She called my wife and I. = She called me.

There! Now I feel better!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Same Song -- Tenth Verse

I've been working with a young writer through email these past few months. I LOVE our exchange but she is frustrated by what she sees as her slow progress in turning that writer's corner -- you know the one if you are a writer -- it looks differently for each individual.

For her, right now, it is delving into a creative nonfiction piece, fleshing out the description of her family dynamics, using details to evoke an emotional response from the reader.

For me, it involves writing an interesting short story. Or creating a poem that is framed in the abstract more than the concrete -- its text calling for a wide range of interpretations. Or a humorous creative nonfiction.

Anyway, in encouraging her this evening, I typed the words just write, and I once again reminded that I need to take my own advice.

It is so easy to read Literary Mama submissions or a piece from my writing group and make suggestions to them for revision. It is quite another to sit down and write something of my own.

So, world (or at least to the five people who read my blog) I am committing to writing for at least 10 minutes a day. If I end up writing longer, fine, but 10 minutes is a sensible guideline, considering how I am an all-or-nothing type of thinker. I might post that writing here; I might not. I have also set a goal to have 100 blog posts by Halloween. Having begun this blog in January, '07, I have a grand total of 69 posts. My friend Daphne, who began her blog five months after I did, celebrated her 100th post exactly one year later. I'm slow, but now I'm determined!

I am going to write! Someone please hold me accountable! :)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

55 Things Meme

I came across this meme at Caroline's blog. Memes are great for generating ideas and getting to know friends better (Even long-time friends I see every week -- it's amazing the things we still don't know about each other!) I tag anyone who wants to explore through a meme.

1. Spell my name as it sounds: (I'm going with my last name here because it is often butchered.)
muh (rhymes with "duh") ran Most people stumble over it because it looks so much like moron, and they seem hestitant to offend me -- except for immature students who through the years have accidentally on purpose pronounced it incorrectly!

2. Am I a worrier? Sometimes, but not usually. When I'm worried about something, I pray.

3. What’s my favorite CD? I don't have one.

4. Favorite colour(s)? Pink!

5. Does my home have an attic? Yes, we have a pull-down door in our garage. I, however, have never been in our attic. My husband stores business-related items there. I would love to browse thorough an attic filled with someone's wonderful things.

6. Have I ever been to Canada? Yes, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Banff.

7. Have I ever gone fishing? Yes. When I was a child, my Grandpa and Grandma Fizer (maternal side) took my sister and me fishing many times. I never caught anything worth keeping, unlike my grandma who could put the hook in the water and snag a fish within seconds. I graduated from a pole to a reel and loved the motion of flicking back and releasing the line.

8. Have I ever seen a celebrity? Yes. American Idol 2008 David Cook

9. Have I ever been on a motorcycle? Yes. My husband (then boyfriend) and I took a sorority sister's out for a spin one afternoon.

10. How much money do I have on me right now? In my purse, I have about $40.

11. How many cars have I owned? Eight -- 2 Plymouths, 1 Ford Probe, 1 Datsun, 1 Nissan, 1 Cutlass, 2 Chevrolet Monte Carlos (one of which I have now)

12. How many jobs have I had? I have had 5 positions: unit secretary (at the nurses' station in a hospital, toll booth attendant (on the bridge over the St. John River in Jacksonville, Florida), librarian, teacher (in 4 different school districts) and teacher consultant.

13. How tall am I? 5'5"

14. Last person to call me: Katie, director of the Greater Kansas City Writing Project

15. Last thing I yelled out loud: "Jim, I made oatmeal!"

16. Last person I was in a car with: my husband

17. Last time I ate at McDonald’s: about two weeks ago -- I had a craving for their french fries.

18. Last thing I bought: some groceries, mostly fruit

19. Last person I saw: Jim on his way out to run errands

20. Last time I cried: This week when discussing sexual abuse with some friends (a heavy conversation).

21. Last time I laughed: This morning with Jim

22. What is the temperature outside? 71F. Wow! What a nice respite from triple digits!

23. What time of the day did I get married? evening

24. What did I do two nights ago? Rode along with Jim when he made a business-related delivery.

25. Who’s birthday is coming up next? Mine, acutally, September 5

26. What time did I go to bed last night? 12:30.

27. What was the first thing I thought this morning? "What time is it?"

28. What are my plans for this weekend? Attend a wedding this afternoon, go to church, go to my husband's end-of-the-year baseball-team picnic

29. Lemonade or iced tea? Either -- only if the lemonade is homemade, not something from a powdered mix.

30. What do I dislike at this moment? My body -- too pudgy.

31. What did I dream about last night? I can't remember exactly -- something related to teaching

32. What’s the last TV show I watched? Sex and City -- in reruns on TNT

33. What is my favorite piece of jewelry? A necklace with a big synthetic pink stone

34. Am I a dancer? in my kitchen Actually, Jim and I like to swing dance, but we seldom have a chance to dance.

35. Have I ever cut my own hair? All the time!

36. What is my favorite treat? Brownies with icing and nuts sprinkled on top

37. How many piercings/tattoos do I have? Pierced ears.

38. Where’s my favorite place to be? home or any quiet cafe with my friends Dottie and Betty Jo (Their company is comfortable, yet reviving!)

39. Is there someone I haven’t seen in a while and miss? Yes, my friend Betty Jo moved to Kentucky

40. Who was the last text I sent to? Patrick, about a week ago. I don't remember what wrote -- the process is such a slow one!

41. Do I care what strangers think about me? not really -- but probably sometimes

42. Last person I talked to on Instant Messenger: Jeff, over a year ago. When re-installing programs after a computer crash, I never got around to Yahoo! Instant Messenger. We have Skype now and use it more.

43. Last person to make me cry: something I saw on TV

44. Who can I tell anything to? God

45. What am I doing tomorrow? See #28 above.

46. Do I have alcohol in my home? Wine and whiskey -- the wine is for dinner parties (which I seldom have) the whiskey is from Ireland and the Jack Daniels distillery in Tennessee; the bottles have not been opened.

47. Do I like ketchup? Sure -- always with french fries

48. Do I think I will be on a vacation this summer? This summer my only vacation was traveling to Shelbyville, Tennessee, with my husband's baseball team. The women spent one afternoon in Franklin, one of my favorite places, eating lunch at Merridee's Breadbasket on the Franklin Square -- I highly recommend it!

49. What colour is my master bathroom? beige walls, white porcelian, sage green and pink accessories

50. Do I wear a bikini at the beach? not since I was in college!

51. Have I ever been to the Grand Canyon? Yes

52. What is my favorite fruit? I love all fruit -- except mango

53. What did I really want to do today? Same as Caroline! Sleep in. Stay in bed a long time after I woke up, reading. (It's a cool, cloudy day!)

54. Am I always cold? Not always, but often. I carry a jacket wherever I go, just in case.

55. Does it annoy me when someone says they’ll call or text, but don’t? Only if their call/text was about something I needed to know in regard to setting an appointment, finishing an article, etc.