Liebster Award – full of win

Many thanks go to Pam at Moonlightreader for tagging me with the Liebster Award.  This award is for bloggers with fewer than 200 followers.  Awardees get to share 11 facts about themselves, answer the 11 questions written by the person who tagged them, choose 11 more questions, and tag 11 more bloggers to answer those 11 questions (makey sensey?).

11 facts about me:

  1. I love bacon.
  2. I have two kids, a 3-year-old and a 16-month-old.
  3. I am a Californian.
  4. I sing alto in my church’s choir.
  5. I have a really loud laugh.
  6. I tend to be too candid.
  7. I’m really tall (6’2″, when I actually stand up straight).
  8. I’m a total grammar Nazi, but I don’t think the rules of grammar should apply to informal speech (informal writing, yes, but spoken language and written language are two totally different monkeys), and it bugs me when folks correct other folks’ speech.
  9. I’m listening to Elvis’ “In the Ghetto” right now, and it always makes me think about South Park.
  10. I am a terrible dancer, and I have no shame…
  11. I wear flip-flops every day, unless it’s raining (they’re a death trap in the rain… no traction).

11 questions posed by Pam at Moonlight Reader:

  1. Name your all-time favorite book/series – My favorite series is Harry Potter, hands down.  My favorite book is Pride and Prejudice.
  2. Who is your favorite musician? – It’s a tie between Tori Amos and Radiohead
  3. Do you prefer Jay Leno or David Letterman? – Actually, I prefer Stephen Colbert, but if I have to choose between those two, I guess it’s Leno.  Letterman annoys me.
  4. What is your favorite dinner? – Meat loaf, cheesy mashed potatoes, and sautéed green beans, all made by my husband.  He’s a cook.
  5. What did you dress up as last Halloween? – I was ill-prepared, so I just slapped on some running clothes.  My favorite Halloween costume involved me wearing my normal clothes and carrying a sign: “Nudist on Strike.”  I like to be comfortable.
  6. What book are you currently anticipating being released? – A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare.  Love her books…
  7. What’s your favorite movie? – The Three Amigos.  🙂
  8. What blog/blogs do you frequent most often? – Well, I follow a bunch of blogs, but Beauty in Budget Blog wins because it’s written by one of my best friends. 🙂
  9. Do you stay up extra late to read a good book or just go to bed and finish it the next day? – Yes… I stay up as late as I can, but at some point my husband starts muttering in his sleep about how annoying it is that I don’t just go to bed….  But yeah, I forego sleep to keep following a good story more than I should.
  10. If you could have any car, what kind would it be? – I’d like to have a hybrid something or other (or a Tesla).
  11. What’s your favorite holiday? – Thanksgiving.  I absolutely love that meal, and my husband wraps our turkey in bacon (BACON!!!) when he cooks it.  Seriously:

Turkey with a bacon breastplate

My Liebster Award nominees (read: winners):

  1. Libby’s Book Blog
  2. 365 Books a Year
  3. Lightningpen’s Blog
  4. The Literary Bunny
  5. trinity’s world
  6. Reader’s Confession
  7. Love, Literature, Art, and Reason
  8. Feminist Fairy Tale Reviews
  9. Escapism from Reality
  10. Vicariously
  11. The Diary of a Book Addict

My 11 questions for these 11 blogs:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. Who is your favorite character from a book or movie?
  3. What is your favorite food?
  4. Do you still like to fingerpaint?
  5. Regarding Mr. Clean: creepy cleaning supervisor or great helper?
  6. What got you into reading in the first place?
  7. What kind of books do you normally read?
  8. How long have you been blogging?
  9. What’s your favorite thing about blogging?
  10. Do you accept (or beg for, as the case may be) ARCs, or do you prefer to read/review your own books?
  11. If you know you’re going to write on your blog about a book that you’re reading, do you take notes?
Well, folks, that’s all.  I just want to thank Pam @ Moonlight Reader once again… I had such a blast running around and finding 11 blogs to tag!

The Exclamation Point – a discussion and guide to usage

I’ve always been a bit exuberant.  I just have so much to say, and there never seems to be enough time or space to say it all.  I talk quickly, and I tend to be parenthetical.  I write quickly, and I am tangential.  I have this horror of being misunderstood, and I somehow think that tangents and parenthetical thoughts will help me to communicate exactly what I mean (will provide the context of my thoughts) in the least amount of time (if I’m speaking) or the fewest number of words (if I’m writing).  In my early school years, my teachers always had the same thing to say: “Kelly, you write well and with great enthusiasm, but you must limit the number of parenthetical references you include.”  When writing, I have to constantly battle my impulse to include a parenthetical thought (or two) in every damn sentence.  So if, while you read my blog, you think that there are perhaps a few too many tangents or parenthetical comments, you have no idea what I’m capable of bringing to the party.  This is me being restrained.

One could not be as exuberant as I without occasionally overusing that strange punctuation mark: the exclamation point.  I used to wonder why it even exists if there are such stringent rules limiting its use.  To me, the exclamation point (and all of the rules that attend/restrict it) is rather like a wooden spoon and a giant pot that one would hand to a toddler.  They’re obviously meant to be used as instruments of joy, to be banged upon in an explosion of obnoxious, creative energy, but the adults never like it when the children are so unconstrained, do they?  Instead that pot and spoon just sit there, taunting the child with their unusable potential.  That’s how I feel about exclamation points.  As a serious adult, I’m not supposed to use them, but, oh, how I want to!

Well… I don’t think anyone could confuse me with a serious adult.  I self-identify with toddlers…

Anyway, for all my enthusiasm for the dear exclamation point, I do think it’s possible to use it in ridiculous ways, and it really annoys me when my favorite punctuation mark is so misused.  To be honest, the main reason I haven’t bothered to read the 50 Shades of Grey series is that several book review blogs mentioned the author’s outrageous exclamation point use.  Ana entered the elevator and pushed the button for the fourth floor!   Sebastian was so angry!  (not actual quotes from the book(s).)

So I decided to write a quirky little guide to the exclamation point, and I’d love to hear/read feedback on whether I’m right or cracked in the head (could be both, honestly).

The Exclamation Point – A Guide to Usage

Correct usage:  to punctuate an exclamation, to denote enthusiasm, to provide commentary on questionable behavior, to convey silliness, to creep people out with inappropriate enthusiasm (workplace use).

Incorrect usage: to punctuate statements that are neither enthusiastic, ironic, nor silly.

Examples of Proper Usage

Look out!  There’s a bear coming right for you!
I can’t wait for dinner tonight; I’m going to eat a steak the size of my head!
While I was out on my walk last night, I saw a dude who was out jogging wearing nothing but his running shoes and a sweater (because it’s cold)… !!?!!
And then they fell in a ditch and died!
Thanks for responding so quickly and helping to coordinate this visit!!

Examples of Improper Usage

Jonathan was wearing jeans! (exception: if it’s completely bizarre that Jonathan would wear jeans, that exclamation point could justly indicate the writer’s surprise at encountering denim in connection with Jonathan.)
Betty made a stop on the way home to get some coffee. She added two sugar packets and some cream! Armed with her coffee, she headed home and planned to spend the evening watching Dancing with the Stars.
I went to a funeral yesterday! (This one is just a socially unacceptable usage… we aren’t supposed to be excited about death and its various celebrations.)

Exception

An exclamation point is an appropriate terminal mark to any sentence that references bacon (e.g. I ordered a BLT! or That macaroni and cheese has bacon in it!).  Bacon is always a reason to celebrate(!).

Days off in Monrovia – perfect weather and grilled cheese with bacon

I just had a three-day weekend.  I didn’t exactly go anywhere or do anything amazing, but that one extra day of sleeping in and loafing about made a profound impact on my Monday morning outlook.  I feel sanguine about the coming week.  I will accomplish everything on my to-do list.  I will remember to smile and laugh  more often.  I will be a better person.

Counter and menu board at Monrovia's The Market Grill

Perhaps it’s ridiculous to attach so much importance to one extra day off.  Even without the extra day, this past weekend would have been great.  On Saturday and Sunday, I painted my nails, bought new bras (that alone is enough to impact my outlook on life), spent time with family, enjoyed all the pomp and circumstance of a full processional on Palm Sunday (it was glorious…), took deep breaths of after-rain air, and had chocolate pie!  That’s a great list of weekend accomplishments, but the day before the weekend officially started, I got to sleep in and then I went to my favorite burger joint (although I had the grown-up grilled cheese–with bacon!–rather than a burger) and, after that deliciousness, went to see a movie with my honey.  I know I’m belaboring a stupid point, but my weekend was simply 33% more awesome than it would have been otherwise.

The view facing north, across the street from my parents' house. Overnight rain plus Santa Ana winds equals beautiful weather.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Monrovia.  I always get excited whenever the clouds cast shadows on the foothills.  I call it El Greco weather, because it reminds me of one of my favorite paintings, View of Toledo by El Greco.  It’s a bit silly that I have this mental connection, because Monrovia doesn’t look a damn thing like El Greco’s Toledo, but the dappled effect of light and shadow in the one view always reminds me of the other.

View of Toledo, El Greco - Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Where we are (and where we were) informs who we are.  I simply can’t look at Monrovia’s foothills with objective eyes, because when I see them, I see not only what they look like now but what they looked like every time I looked north in the twenty years I lived there.  All those pictures overlap in my mind, creating a sort of mental collage overlay through which I see their current incarnation.  And, strange as it may seem, El Greco’s View of Toledo is one of the layers of that odd overlay.  In my interactions with the world, I wonder how much of my perception of the here and now is influenced by my recollections of the past.  When I look at a friend, am I ever able to see who he really is today, or am I blinded by that overlay of everything I thought he was before?  Of course, that’s assuming that the overlay is a negative thing, an obscuring thing.  I’d prefer to think that it enables me to see the world (or portions of it) in greater detail than would otherwise be available. Instead of blinding me to the present, perhaps all those accumulated perceptions help direct my attention to nuances that may help me to understand both the current picture and all the images that came before.

For example, in the case of the Monrovia foothills, my overlay of recollections enables me to recognize changes wrought on the foothills by time, weather, land development, etc.  Those foothills are not exactly as they were twenty years ago, and I would not be able to appreciate that fact in a personal way if I did not have my recollections to serve as a comparison.  There are, of course, historical photographs of these foothills, documenting the changes in an impersonal way, but when I stand on the sidewalk outside my parents’ house and look north, I am able to perceive not only the changes wrought by time in the foothills but also in myself.

I suppose it is the same in the example of the hypothetical friend.  If we take a moment to be still and look at one another and see the image proffered by the present day as well as all of the images that came before, we have the opportunity to struggle to differentiate between all of those different images of the object of our attention (the hypothetical friend) and to determine what those images might tell us about our own selves.  It means something that when I return to my parents’ house, I take a moment to stand out on the sidewalk and look north at the foothills.  It means something that when I look at a friend, I notice certain details rather than others.

My husband would say that I’m thinking too much (he’d be right).