We do change, right? We’re not the same people we were decades ago, right? We grow. Or de-evolve. We become better people. Or demons in human flesh.
In 1976, I joined a Civil War re-enactment group, a Confederate regiment, the 26th North Carolina. It was a way for me to learn about the life of a soldier in the 1860s. One summer during my college years I’d drawn meticulous maps of Civil War battlefields, places in rural America that would collect forever-bloody names like Antietam, Gettysburg and The Wilderness…
“With educated people, I suppose, punctuation is a matter of rule; with me it is a matter of feeling. But I must say I have a great respect for the semi-colon; it’s a useful little chap.”
― Abraham Lincoln
“Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.”
―Kurt Vonnegut,A Man Without a Country
Semicolons . . . signal, rather than shout, a relationship. . . . A semicolon is a compliment from the writer to the reader. It says: “I don’t have to draw you a picture; a hint will do.”
— George Will
I love semicolons.
My master’s thesis was rife with them.
But my critique group says I mustn’t use them any more. They say I should follow Kurt Vonnegut’s rule.
Mr. Vonnegut is wrong. The semicolon is not a transvestite hermaphrodite, representing absolutely nothing.
It is a compliment from the writer to the reader.
It is a wooden bench, where you can sit for a moment, catching your breath.
It’s a useful little chap.
When Mr. Vonnegut called the semicolon a transvestite hermaphrodite–well, bless his heart, he must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed.
Today I went to a tattoo artist, and for $60 I let a man with a giant Jesus-tattoo on his head ink a semi-colon onto my wrist where it will stay until the day I die. By now, enough people have started asking questions that it made sense for me to start talking, and talking about things that aren’t particularly easy.
We’ll start here: a semi-colon is a place in a sentence where the author has the decision to stop with a period, but chooses not to. A semi-colon is a reminder to pause and then keep going.
In April I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. By the beginning of May I was popping anti-depressents every morning with a breakfast I could barely stomach. In June, I had to leave a job I’d wanted since I first set foot on this campus as an incoming freshmen because of my mental…
No, it’s not the swimming pool. It’s not the hot tub. It’s not the gorgeous male trainers.
It’s the closed captions.
Some machines at the gym have TV monitors attached so users won’t become bored. A wise move.
My first day on the recumbent bike, I said to myself, “Oh, pish-tosh! I don’t need television. I have an active mind and a rich internal life.”
The second day, I discovered my internal life isn’t rich enough to keep me pedaling for twenty minutes without my active mind imploding. So–on with the TV. Since I hadn’t brought earbuds, I turned on the closed captions.
Viewing choices are limited: some cable movies, lots of sports, a travel show, all about as stimulating as watching your knees rise and fall. But one news station runs unscripted programs, most related to business and the economy.
And the closed captions for those unscripted programs are a hoot.
During one session, I managed to take notes. Here are some of the fragments I recorded. Remember, the program was about finance, and my knees were moving up and down at 9.4 mph.
1. … when people gathered to talk about the economy and cucumbers…
2. …too much of Peoria for political to sin…
3. …when like at Europe the monkey is struggling and falling apart…
4. …and to see Barry big surprise interest from some pastries…
5. …we have the armpit that all of our options fade with time…
6. …the importance of a kiwi in Europe…
7. …call the stow the hillbilly of what is coming…
8. …take on a ministry the comics not to forget…
9. …the markets found some milk without the markets coming up…
10. …learned from a tumor and people said a tomato…
All that in just one session of violent bodily exertion. What more could I want?
Yesterday earbuds were available, but plugging them in didn’t cross my mind. Nor did announcing my find.
Those captions are my own little secret. When other cyclers look my way, wondering why I laugh aloud, they can just wonder.
And when the rest of the health nuts have dropped out from indolence and ennui, and I alone register perfect attendance, and when the muscleiest trainer can’t drag me off the bike, the Powers That Be will admire, nay revere, me. And they will give me head pats.
Brightly colored instruments of torture, heavier than they look.
More colorful double-dealers.
For strengthening the core. Deceptively innocent in appearance, but treacherous at its core. One mission: to unseat the trusting rider. Passive-aggressive.
For strengthening the cardio-pulmonary system. Old technology corrupted by new. See below.
Digital conspiracy #1: Information dump–time, speed,calories, watts, resistance, heart rate–heart rate? None detected. So much for cardio.
Digital conspiracy #2: TV monitor/pacifier. Vast wasteland pulls cyclist in, won’t let go. Twenty-minute rep turns into forty. Dr. Phil. “Shape It Up, Woo Woo!” (I did not make that up. It’s in Wikipedia.)
Vile trickery. Toil masquerading as recreation. It seemed like fun. Too long did I tarry.
1. When the trainer says to do 12 of something, do 12. Don’t do 30.
2. When you’re counting, pay attention. If you think you’ve done 12, don’t do another 8 or 10 just to make sure.
3. When the trainer says to go home and ice something, go home and ice it. Don’t forget and then decided it’ll probably loosen up and resume bending of its own accord.
4. When the sky opens and water pours onto the parking lot only three minutes before your cardio session is set to end, don’t just keep pedaling until the downpour stops. That’s too much pedaling.
5. Curb your enthusiasm. Stop doing more than the trainer and your brain tell you to. OCDs do not win. They just go home and ice things.
In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, and so created two agencies dedicated to the development and preservation of arts, culture, and history in the U.S.
On September 29, 2015, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities will celebrate their 50th birthdays. If you are an artist or historian, you are invited to be part of this celebration.
The NEA has issued an invitation to artists to share how art influences and inspires you, your family, your community. The project is called Tell Us Your Story. You can submit an essay, audio, video, and photos. In September, the NEA will begin posting stories on their website.
As the grateful recipient of fellowships and grants funded in part by the NEA, I wrote an essay and submitted it. I was thrilled when, last week, the…
We were fortunate to have our very own members read from their stories in the anthology Murder On Wheels: Kathy Waller, Gale Albright, VP Chandler, and Scott Montgomery. They also shared their experiences in writing, editing, and submitting their stories for publication. BookPeople will host a book launch for Murder On Wheels in July (date not yet chosen).
Sunday afternoon, May 4, 2015
Malice Domestic Convention Day 4
I should go to the Agatha Tea and Closing Ceremonies. It starts in ten minutes.
But after a plane trip, a ride on the Washington, D. C. Metro,
days of intense workshopping, nights of sleep deprivation,
I am just conventioned out.
Anyway, I forgot my gloves.
So while others sip tea and engage in polite conversation,
I shall sit in the bar, on this squishy couch,
and rest, and write.
Sisters in Crime Guppy Chapter Breakfast
Seeing so many people in love with books–specifically, with mysteries–is exciting.
The convention has been, to employ a cliche because I’m too tired to come up with something original, a whirlwind of activity. I’ll have to look at my program notes to remember what I’ve done. Two things, however, are burned into my…