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Grammar Articles

Grammar, etc.  |   Swearing

Social Commentaries and Examinations

The Definitive Guide to Introverts  |   Why I Read Gay Lit 

The Rants and Discussions Intro

This was supposed to be a place where I could rant about lots of different things and it would be awesome… but mostly it just made me uncomfortable and I ended up talking about grammar and being an introvert. Maybe I’ll add more here at some point, but I don’t know when that will be, or if it’ll happen at all.

You’re Blinding Me
      ‐Or, the Two Most Misused Pieces of Grammar
              ‐Or, In Which I Go Nuts Over a Few Words

I’m not one of those people who gets uppity about grammar. I don’t care if your participles are dangling or if you say ‘gotta’ or use a ton of fragments or if you’re an American who always spells grey with an e instead of an a… ok, that’s just me who does that. My point is, grammar is often taken as this completely rigid thing, but I think it’s probably a lot more fluid than people usually consider it, and there’s quite a bit of play. And that’s a good thing.


There are two… I don’t know, grammatical things?... that drive me totally batshit crazy. (Notice how I just used the word batshit? Microsoft Word tells me this is not actually a word at all. Fluid grammar in motion. …Oh, gosh, that’s probably because it should have a space. Never mind.)

The first thing is the you‐and‐I rule, and the second is the use of ‘of’ after would, could or should.

‐‐‐ Dear Peeps‐ Using ‘you and I’ every time isn’t actually correct (and it’s annoying as hell)

People seem to have gotten this idea into their heads that using ‘you and me’ in a sentence is always bad, bad grammar, and using ‘you and I’ makes you sound smart. I actually see/hear people misusing ‘you and I’ and its derivatives waaaay more than they misuse the ‘you and me’ phrase. But both phrases have a place, and when you use ‘you and I’ where you should be using ‘you and me,’ you don’t sound smart, you sound pompous and idiotic.

So. In order to avoid that…

I’ve always used two rules to know which phrase to use. The first isn’t even really a rule, it’s just feel… If it feels right, then I know I’m probably right because… I don’t know, I read a lot. And write a lot. And you just pick up a feel. It’s not like I’m reciting grammatical rules in my head all day long. (In fact, I’d probably have a pretty hard time finding the predicate in a sentence. I’m not even really sure anymore what that is…) Anyway, this rule of ‘feel’ just isn’t for everyone, I guess, because it seems to be failing in a huge way.

Which brings me to the second rule, which is… pretty damn simple‐ if you can take away the other person‐ the you or the name or the he, she, they, and just use ‘I,’ and the sentence makes sense, then you should use ‘you and I.’ And if the sentence isn’t correct anymore, you should use ‘you and me.’ Or ‘Bob and me’ or whatever.

It’s not even a ridiculous amount to memorize. It’s actually really simple. You wouldn’t say ‘Take a walk with I.’ So why would you say, ‘Take a walk with Bob and I’? Or ‘Take a walk with my friends and I’? …You shouldn’t, is the answer. Please don’t. Seriously. Spare my ears.

Put in another way, if you we’re only talking about yourself, and no one else, and you would use the word ‘I’, then you’d use ‘you and I’ or whatever. And if you were only talking about yourself and you’d use the word ‘me,’ then you use ‘Bob and me’ or ‘you and me’ or whatever.

Also. If you need to add ownership (i.e., an apostrophe after the phrase) use ‘me.’ Or ‘mine’ or ‘my or ‘our.’ Not ‘I.’ There is no freaking I’s.

I’d actually rather hear someone misuse ‘…and me’ than ‘…and I,’ because they just sound so arrogant while they’re using the second. Arrogant and wrong.

‐‐‐That sound you’re hearing? You’re writing it wrong.

I have seen a TON of people use ‘would of’ or ‘could of’ or ‘should of.’ I think maybe someone saw this and assumed it was right, and now everyone’s writing it this way…? I even saw a publishing company rep use this on Twitter.

God, my eyes are bleeding. I swear, I don’t think anything ticks me off more than this. (Ok, sneezing. And that ‘awww’ sound people make when they see a kitten. Still.)

I imagine people are writing this in this way because they’re translating a sound. Unfortunately for them, what they’re looking for, although similar in sound, isn’t the same. The ‘of’ should always be ‘’ve.’ Or ‘have.’ Because the correct phrase is ‘would have’ or ‘would’ve.’ Similar sound, I know. But they mean wildly different things. See, it makes sense when you string the words ‘would’ and ‘have’ together. And ‘would’ and ‘of’ mean… absolutely nothing when strung together.

This is so freaking basic. I can’t really excuse this one. I don’t understand why people have suddenly decided to switch this and write it wrong. And it’s not like you have to memorize a complex grammatical rule. It’s basic English.

That is all.   -SEL

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Yesterday I wrote an article that was more of a rant, and in it I used, each once, the words crap, damn, ass and fuck. (I was… angry.) After I wrote it, the two halves of HfC had to sit down and discuss whether the word fuck was going to get our website censored by parental controls. This was a problem we never did find the answer to, but while we were discussing it, the issue of swearing did bring up some interesting questions and arguments.

Later, my mother sent me an article on baseball manager Bryan Price, who ripped into a massive rant at the media after a particularly bad day, and used the word fuck and its many permutations 77 times. I found the whole thing incredibly interesting because it brought up two points we’d been discussing earlier, both revolving around whether swears should be used, and how they’re used.

The first point‐ In the comments of the article, some people trotted out the old argument that swearing means you can’t come up with any other, better words to use. This seems to be the best defense people can come up with for not swearing, and I find it both incredibly offensive and relatively inane. First, there are better reasons not to swear, chief among them the fact that most swears are intrinsically insulting, embarrassing or disgusting, and it’s probably a good idea to curb how much filth spews out of your mouth.

As for why I find this offensive… I’m a writer. I write… all the time. It’s what I do, and you can be damn sure that if I select a word, it’s because I wanted that word. Let’s go back to my article for an example‐ when I used the word fuck, it was in this sentence: ‘You can’t really fuck it up.’ Now, I can think of several words to use there, because college educated or not, I do have a brain, I read like a crazy person, and the idea, as a writer, that I used the word fuck because I’m lazy, is ridiculous. I could have said, for example, ‘You can’t mess it up.’ I didn’t because it simply doesn’t convey the level of angry I was in the article. It has absolutely none of the punch I wanted for that sentence.

I could also have said ‘You can’t screw it up.’ I didn’t because, again, I just felt it didn’t have quite the same amount of punch. But this also brings me to a tangent, although completely intriguing, point which I find totally baffling‐ screw and fuck mean exactly the same thing. But for some reason, it’s much, much more acceptable for me to use the word screw. The same goes for crap and shit. True, some people are probably still going to be offended by either word because of what, exactly, they’re supposed to mean. But I’ve heard my grandmother use the word screw. And she would never in a million years say ‘fuck.’ And I think my website might get censored for fuck, but probably not for screw.

Why? Why can I say crap and not shit? Butt and not ass? They mean the same thing. And let’s not even get into when it’s ok to use words like ass and bitch for animals, because it’s ‘the technical term,’ when it’s not ok to use them in another context, even though, by now, that is also proper usage.

And why don’t I want to use the ‘less offensive’ words? Because if I say to someone, ‘You’re being a butt,’ I sound like I’m in kindergarten. But if I say ‘You’re being an ass,’ it more adequately conveys my frustration and anger. It’s pretty simple, really.

So I’m not sure where we get off on ranking particular words as more offensive than others simply because of how society has measured them. I know someone who doesn’t like the word crap, yet routinely calls people she’s frustrated with dicks or dickheads. She likes these words and she uses them, and that’s fine with me. And it’s fine that she doesn’t like the other word. But I don’t think it’s ok to say that some words are offensive and other words, which mean the same or worse or convey the same level of vulgarity, aren’t as offensive simply because they’re not classified as swears.

I guess my point is that everyone has speech patterns, everyone has words they like and don’t‐ I don’t like the word pants. It bothers me, I don’t use it. Ever, if I can help it. But if someone says it, I’m not offended, even though it makes me squirm. And the idea that someone used the word pants because they couldn’t think of a better word is absolutely absurd. No one gets called out on that. But let me tell, you, as someone who doesn’t use the word, there are a billion other terms for the lower garments, and they don’t get used often enough. But just because someone didn’t use another word does not make them lazy. And it’s the same with swearing, I think. I picked the word for a reason. Trust me.

I don’t mean to say that words don’t have different levels of weight. ‘Electrified’ has more weight than ‘excited.’ I just think we should weigh words by what they mean, rather than on an arbitrary weight society gives them.

Which brings me to the second point of discussion, which is, if you use a swear too many times, it loses its value. As someone who’s still freaked out by the word pants, after hearing it millions of times throughout my life, I’m prone to argue against this. But there is some validity to this.

Let’s talk examples. My brother uses the word fuck or fucking every, oh, five or ten words. It’s just… the way he talks. And, unless you’re some hapless person in a grocery store, listening to him carry on a conversation, you can pretty much ignore the word every time because there’s no real heat behind it and it, when used by him, has lost most if not all of its punch.

I also ended up changing my use of the word fuck in my article, to screw. Ultimately, I didn’t want to change the word because of fear of censoring. But I did end up changing it because fuck is a word I use very rarely, and I felt that, in the absence of any other uses of fuck, it packed even more of a punch than I really wanted it to. I was angry, but not rabid, raging psycho angry, you know?

In the article about baseball manager Bryan Price, it was argued that his overuse of the word took the meaning from what he was trying to say. I’m going to disagree with this. From all accounts, Bryan Price is generally a calm, kind person, and he hasn’t, as far as I know, ever flown off the handle quite like he did here. But when he did snap, and did use fuck 77 times, they wrote articles about him. He was in the news. Was he able to get his point across? You bet. Was it maybe a bit overshadowed by his extreme language? Perhaps. But if he hadn’t freaked out and used that word so many times, would as many people have been privy to what he had to say? How many other baseball people, sports people, feel vindicated by that argument, which has now reached an audience much larger than it ever would have before?

So here’s my point. Swears are words. Just words. Should we use them in public? Probably not, but only because of what their definition is, not because of how inappropriate society deems them. If we can use other vulgarities, then we should be able to swear. If I swear, especially in my writing, I did it on purpose. Not because I’m lazy. And how often you use a swear should depend only on how much impact you want it to have.

As for the other three offensive words I used in my original article‐ ass and damn have been discussed in my writing before, and I’ve always argued for the right to use them whenever I want. Crap has never been a problem, an issue I find intriguing seeing as that is, probably, the most disturbing term in the whole article. But all three terms got to stay, and I’m pleased with that.   -SEL

The Definitive Guide to Introverts

Ever answered the question, ‘Are you an introvert or an extrovert?’ Probably. It’s a weirdly common one. I always answer that I’m an introvert. But when you say that to an ‘extrovert,’ they tend to look sideways at you and assume you’re lonely and that there’s probably something wrong with you. Which is… both insulting and pretty freaking annoying.

The other day I saw an author on Twitter going on about how introverts were basically people who hid in their houses all day and never went anywhere , and really needed to try harder to get out sometimes. That really ticked me off. I don’t know where you got your dictionary, kiddo, but what you’re describing is agoraphobia. There’s a pretty big gap between agoraphobia and introversion.

And personally, I don’t like to be judged. I hate the idea that people feel bad for me and assume I’m lonely, just because of how I choose to spend my days. So I thought I’d do a little discussion on introverts and try to explain it to the extroverts, who seem pretty dead set on keeping their own ideas on the subject. And self‐proclaimed introverts tend to mix their definitions around, too‐ I’m pretty sure the author I mentioned before considered himself to be an introvert.

This is all based on my own experiences, so you might feel differently, even as an introvert.

This is What You Should Know About Introverts‐

‐‐‐Introverts aren’t anti‐social. (And we do actually have friends.)

There seems to be this idea that introverts never want to go out in public and never want to hang out with people. This is completely false. I love going out. I tend to go out once a day, which is actually probably more than normal…? Even if it’s only for something small. I also love going shopping, love going out to concerts, love to sit at a bar and hang out with people, especially music people‐ and it’s not like I’m going out and doing any of these activities by myself. I also like hanging out with my friends. Which brings me to my next point‐

Yes, introverts have friends. I have quite a few friends, actually, and I really enjoy being with them. Sometimes more than others, I’ll admit. If a conversation between me and my friends consists mostly of gossip and who said what and who’s doing what (or who) it wears me out. It’s not so much fun. If a friend wants to talk music or ideas or anything that, you know, uses a little bit of brain power and thinking, I’m a much happier camper.

I guess maybe introverts are a little more selective in who they choose to be with or be friends with, and that’s maybe why people assume we don’t have friends? Or enough friends? Because, I don’t know about you, but I just don’t want to be friends with every single person I meet. Some people crave that much contact and will put up with a lot in order to be friends with someone, but I don’t need that much contact, and certainly don’t need anyone around me who’s going to exhaust me. So I pick and choose, and I pick and choose when and how often to spend time with people, and maybe people think that’s odd.

It’s not. And when I’m with people who are interested in carrying on real, intelligent conversations, I can be surprisingly social.

‐‐‐Introverts aren’t lonely.

Like I said, I have friends, and a lot of people I can rely on for social interaction. But whenever the question arises about whether I’m out with friends, and I’m not, people tend to feel bad for me. Like I’m soooo lonely. I’m not. I’m not hanging out with people by choice. I know that’s really confusing for people who love being around other people, because a lack of people does make them lonely. But, I don’t know, accept that people interact and enjoy things differently. Being with people all the time wears me out. If I’m by myself for a while, it’s because I wanted to be. I need to be. I certainly don’t want people barging in on the time I’m taking for myself, to be in my own head.

And I’m definitely not lonely. Stop projecting.

‐‐‐Personal interactions give extroverts energy, and tend to drain introverts.

This is pretty self explanatory. Extroverted people crave social interactions, and being with people tends to boost their energy. For introverts, being with people tends to drain their energy. It’s like we’re opposite sides of a battery.

I don’t know how many times I’ve come home from even the most fantastic time spent with people, and have gotten a massive headache. All that talk just… it takes a lot of energy. Again, time spent with people who get me and who want to actually have a deeper‐than‐the‐shallow‐end‐of‐the‐pool conversation are a lot easier on me. But it’s still always draining, in one way or another.

‐‐‐Introverts aren’t interested in blather/small talk/gossip. (And we do actually enjoy talking.)

There’s another idea that introverts don’t like to talk. I’ve often been called quiet, and I guess I am. I don’t speak unless I have something to say, and that generally means something that adds to the conversation, instead of just adds the noise of my voice.

But if you’ve spent any time at all on this website, you know I have a fuck‐ton to say. And if you’ve ever talked with me about books or music or anything that isn’t gossip, you know that I can carry on a pretty lengthy, intense conversation outside of writing, too.

It’s just that, though. I don’t really love small talk. I get that you need it for social niceties, and I can do it pretty well. But when it extends beyond those niceties, when conversations consist of only small talk, or when it delves into gossip about other people, I… don’t do so well. Sometimes it’s necessary, but it’s far more draining.

And I’m also not super enthused by people who feel the need to fill every pause with words, no matter how inane. Which brings me to my next point‐

‐‐‐Introverts aren’t bothered by silence.

There are A LOT of people who are bothered by quiet, even comfortable silences. Have you ever taken a car ride with someone who had to talk every time the conversation paused, even if the radio was on?

I’m not that person.

I think a lot of people assume that if conversation is not happening, something’s wrong. That every silence is a sign that we’re not getting along. I’ve never understood that. A comfortable quiet is just that, super comfortable. I always think it’s one of the best signs that two people really get along‐ when they can sit together without yakking and still feel perfectly at ease.

In the same vein, apparently there’s some scientific data that introverts and extroverts process noise and stimulation differently. The idea is that extroverts are able to think better when there’s a lot more external stimulation, especially sounds, such as talk, and introverts process things better when there’s less stimulation.

I thought this was kind of silly‐ I’m someone who enjoys music on pretty much 24/7, and I’ve never been that person who was like ‘Please be silent, I’m taking a test/reading a book/etc.’ I actually always thought the idea of complete quiet during test taking was a bit extreme.

But then I was driving to a place I’d never been and I had to follow some quick directions at the end, which I had written down. I was listening to Beck, cranked, and I’d been enjoying the music the whole drive. But when I got close and had to start to follow the directions, I found myself turning the music further and further down, so I could concentrate. And I realized I do this often when I’m driving. I drive better with music, until I have to think about following directions. I even do it when I’m in the passenger seat and giving directions.

And those days (which are few and far between) when the TV’s on for an extended period of time, and I interact more with my family? Headaches. The need for naps. Sometimes it takes me days to recover from that much… I don’t know, noise, conversation. Stuff. I’d say information, but I don’t think it’s that‐ as someone who reads nearly constantly, that seems like more input of information into my brain.

‐‐‐Introversion isn’t the same as being shy.

I used to be shy. I don’t think I am so much anymore. But I’m still an introvert. People take it to be the same thing, though. Shy is a fear or nervousness about interacting with people. Introversion is the desire not to have to interact as much. Introverts aren’t necessarily afraid or nervous to strike up or carry on a conversation‐ they’d just don’t want to as much.

‐‐‐Introverts aren’t weird.

Well, if by weird you mean that we tend to conform less, think for ourselves, are comfortable in our own minds, and don’t mind periods of being alone or quiet, then yeah, I guess we’re pretty weird.

…So, in conclusion‐ there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert. Just like there’s nothing wrong with being an extrovert. If you prefer hanging out with a thousand people and never being by yourself, that is totally, one hundred percent fine. And if you like to be by yourself more, if you pick and choose your social interactions, also fine. Just recognize that other people prefer different things, and there’s nothing wrong with either way‐ as long as you don’t try to force someone to be something they’re not, or condemn them for something you don’t understand.   -SEL

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I Read Gay Lit, and I Like It. And This is Why‐

For a while I had up an article here (which went through about a thousand revisions) and then, I took it down and left a vague note saying I wasn’t happy with the article but I’d eventually rewrite it and post something in this space. And I think that note’s been up for… a good long while. Because I’m never going to rewrite the article.

There are a couple reasons, and since it seems like possibly someone, at one point, stumbled across this page and wondered (and also because I just super enjoy writing) I thought I’d explain, if I can, why the article won’t be reappearing.

First reason is‐ I never wanted to write this article in the first place, or felt it was necessary. I don’t feel that anyone should have to explain why they enjoy reading or writing or watching anything. Unless that thing they enjoy hurts someone else‐ then you probably do need to think about it. But I mean, I read fantasy, and sometimes I get some side eyes like I’m a big nerd, but no one asks me to explain. I read books with straight male main characters, and no one asks why I’d want to do that. So I don’t know why reading queer lit is different, or why it suddenly makes it okay for people to wonder about and also make assumptions about me based on it. Which brings me to the next point‐

The second reason is‐ I don’t care what people think about me anymore, in regards to my sexuality or gender. The thing is, when people find out I read and write books with gay or bi or lesbian or queer or trans or poly or WHATEVER characters, the very first thing that gets asked is, ‘Why?’ Quickly followed by, ‘So, are you a lesbian?’ or ‘Doesn’t that make everyone think you’re gay?’ or some furtive looks which are supposed to be subtle but actually convey quite clearly that the other person is having deep (and probably invasive and incorrect) thoughts about my sexuality.

Personally, I don’t give a flying fuck what someone else thinks about my sexuality or gender identity. I’d prefer people just asked. I mean, if it’s that important for someone to know something like that, just ASK ME. Or maybe accept the fact that my sexuality is none of your business. But people are really giddy about the idea of making assumptions, and if they want to do that, go for it. Even when I do tell people I’m straight, nine times out of ten I know they assume I’m lying because they’ve made assumptions based on what I wear, what I read, what instrument I play, when my last relationship was‐ and people hate to be told that the things they’ve so deeply assumed are, in fact, not quite right. So I’m not sure why I ever bothered to go to the trouble of writing an article explaining that reading books about gay characters doesn’t necessarily say anything about your own sexuality, because I simply don’t care what anyone thinks, and I’m most likely not going to be able to make anyone believe me anyway. And why would it say anything about anyone’s sexuality, anyway?

SO. Read what you want. Anything, as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else. Read widely and read about people who are the same as you and people who are vastly different from you. Read books with wonderful characters and excellent writing across all genres. Or stick to one genre forever, if that makes you happy‐ because that’s what I think it should really boil down to. Read what makes you happy. Screw anyone who wants to question that.   -SEL

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