my favourite grammar rules

As a PhD student and native English speaker (mais je suis bilingue aussi!), I have grown quite fond of several obscure, yet important grammar rules that I honestly take pleasaure in having the opportunity to use.

Yes, indeed, sometimes I even structure and entire sentence, or paragraph, around the opportunity to use a specific punctuation mark or stylistic element.  As embarrassing as it is, I actually get excited when I get to use the following characters: [ ], ‘, “, ;.

For example, I just copied and pasted the following quote into a document:

To take an ironic example, if somebody like Judith Butler were to be asked “What is this?”

She would never have said, “This is a bottle of tea.”

She would have said something like, “If we accept the metaphysical notion of language identifying clearly objects, and taking all this into account, then may we not “…she likes to put it in this rhetorical way… “…reach the hypothesis that, in the conditions of our language game, this can be said to be a bottle of tea?”

I wanted to add that the quote was originally said by Slavov Zizek, so I changed it to read as follows:

Slavov Zizek said “To take an ironic example, if somebody like Judith Butler were to be asked ‘What is this?’

She would never have said, ‘This is a bottle of tea.’

She would have said something like, ‘If we accept the metaphysical notion of language identifying clearly objects, and taking all this into account, then may we not’ …she likes to put it in this rhetorical way… ‘…reach the hypothesis that, in the conditions of our language game, this can be said to be a bottle of tea?’ ”

As you probably know, in reported speech, the ” becomes ‘, inside a set of “‘s.

I love getting to do that!

And, if you have another reported speech inside the first reported speech, it goes back to “‘s!

For example:

Slavov Zizek said “To take an ironic example, if somebody like Judith Butler were to be asked ‘What is this?’

She would never have said, ‘This is a bottle of tea.’

She would have said something like, ‘If we accept the metaphysical notion of language identifying clearly objects, and taking all this into account, then may we not ‘…she likes to put it in this rhetorical way… ‘…reach the hypothesis that, according to Foucault, who definitively remarks “This bottle of tea is in fact a construct representing the social and cultural norms projected by the interlocutor” in the conditions of our language game, this can be said to be a bottle of tea?’ “

It’s so fun to get to do that!

By the way, I made up that sentence by Foucault.

Another aspect of reported speech that puts a smile on my face is getting to change a sentence like

This is a bottle of tea” – Judith Butler becomes

Judith Butler agrees with Zizek’s appraisal of the bottle, confirming with “[t]his is a bottle of tea.”

Of course, to be correct, I would be properly citing my sources using the APA citation style.  But this is just a blog so I’m not doing that.  

The semi-colon, or the “Super comma!” is also a pleasure to use.  Another thing I love to do is make singular nouns, such as Laos or Chris, possessive, by adding an ‘s !  This rule of course, is not set in stone.  Some people simply write Laos’ or Chris’, but I love that extra s!

Admittedly I am a grammar nerd.  Though also admittedly, my spelling is not the greatest, I still do take pleasure in reading a well written document, especially in today’s world of “how r u?” text message English.  In fact, one of the things that really attracted me to my darling was his grammatical prowess, correct punctuation, and mastery of the English language.  Nothing gets me hotter than a man with a big vocabulary!

cycling is sexy

Of course, you probably already know this.  I regularly bike around town in skirts and heels, my vintage riding hat protecting my head from traumatic injury.  I wouldn’t be caught dead in one of those high visibility fluorescent yellow monstrosities that cyclists in New Zealand tend to live in, or the head-to-toe lyrcra get up.  Come on, is it really necessary?  Especially those people in $500 worth of specialized gear, to go to or from the office.

Seriously, it’s not the Tour De France.  You’re on a bicycle.  We know you’re a cyclist.

I favour my mustard  yellow Cambridge Satchel for visibility, and a red rear-end flasher for my own safety, which is of course important, but you don’t have to look like a fool riding around town to be safe.

Cyclists are sexy, as this model from Frock’s On Bikes Wheel Stylish fashion show proved yesterday:

In addition being sexy while cycling in a cute frock, I also got to hang out with Wellington’s newly elected green party mayor – Celia Wade-Brown.  Photographic proof coming soon!

the sweet temptation

Well, it has now been over 5 days since I had any sugar!  It’s been hard.  I actually took a very tiny bite of a piece of cake on Thursday, but it was coffee flavoured and I no longer felt any temptation to eat it after I had tasted it.  I’m really looking forward to Monday, when I can eat my flatmate’s brownies with cheesecake on top.  However, by cutting out sugar for 1 week, I already (5 days in) feel some how “cleaner”, and healthier.


the sugar (free) diaries

Hello.  Since I last wrote, though faced with perilous temptation on numerous occasions, neigh a grain of sugar has passed my lips!

Hours since I last tasted sugar: 60

Most difficult item to resist: Chocolate ganache mini-cakes at PGSA meeting

Closest “near-sugar” experience: A tin of spice cookies in my hand

Mood: Resolved, resigned, hungry.

God, I miss sweet things.

the sugar diaries

If you know me, you know that I have an insatiable sweet-tooth.  Cakes, cookies, muffins, pies, ice cream, and, my Achilles heel, candy, figure far too prominently in my diet.  I definitely exceed the daily recommended allowance for sugar on a regular basis.  For some reason I have convinced myself that calories from sugar are better than calories from fat, because you can exercise, which I do a lot, and burn them off.  And deep fried shit is like, really bad for you.

But, I realize now, I have been deluding myself.  Sugar is like, really bad for you.

Not only does it make you fat and rot your teeth, it suppresses your immune system, among other things!  I was a ill a number of times this past winter, and I wondered constantly why I kept getting sick – I eat lots of vegetables, I exercise regularly, I take vitamins, I drink green tea, I get a good amount of sleep, etc.  My colleague who lives on rice and onions and works about 10 time as many hours per week as I do wasn’t sick a single day!

I see now, it must be the sugar.

While I do eat healthy, generally, and I don’t drink sugary drinks or put sugar in my tea, I do a lot of baking, and eat a lot of cookies.  When I feel hungry… my snack of choice is undoubtedly something sweet.  So, after listening to this podcast about how bad sugar is for you, I got to thinking… “I should really eat less sugar.”

This was at approximately 1’00 pm this afternoon, just after I had finished my lunch.  I had pulled out a small container of “Blackberry & Cream” flavoured low-fat yogurt which I was planning to have a little later in the afternoon.  I realized that so far that day, I had already made it to 1’00 pm without having any sugar.  I determinedly put the little container of yogurt back in the refrigerator, and willed myself to give up added sugar for an entire week.

This shall be the diary of my experiences.

I then spent about 2 hours looking up recipes for baking with stevia.  I haven’t  tried any yet – since my ill-fated and inedible chocolate stevia cupcakes of last year, but I will post about my experiences here.

I already felt tempted this evening, when, feeling peckish I opened my desk drawer in my office, where my eyes fell upon a bar of Lindt chocolate.  “Just one little square won’t hurt….” I heard myself say to myself.  I picked up the package and looked at the ingredients.  Sugar was right there, at the front of the list.

I resisted the voice telling me to eat it, and shoved it to furthest recesses of my drawer.  Out of sight, out of mind, right?  I just keep telling myself I can save it for next week.

But who knows?  Maybe by next week I will be cured of my addiction to sugar !??!

For the purposes of this experiment, by sugar, I mean “added sugar” – ie – any food that contains refined, or unrefined added sugars, including honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, etc.  However, natural sugars found in juice, fruits, and vegetables are permitted.  And since artificial sweeteners give you cancer, no aspartame or sucralose.  Stevia, on the other hand, is not sugar or an artificial sweetener, so it’s ok.  It also has a pretty repulsive aftertaste, but if I get desperate, I feel safer knowing I can bake some stevia cookies.

it’s official.

I was hesitant to make and official announcements until I had definitive proof; in the form of plane tickets purchased, more specifically.  I suppose I was worried that something might change, as plans do, or something might come up, as things do.

But I can now say, without hesitation, that my sweetheart is moving to New Zealand, to be with me.

As evidenced by the .pdf record of his Air New Zealand purchase, I know that, barring catastrophe, he will be arriving here in Wellington on December 6th.

This is of course, very exciting news!  He’s arriving just in time for what I have been assured is going to be a beautiful New Zealand summer, and the traditional Holloway Road Christmas Garden Party.  These are both things to look forward to, but mostly I’m just looking forward to having my sweetie back my side, and knowing that the next 12 months will find us a maximum distance of mere tens or hundreds of kilometers apart for any extended length of time, rather than the current 15,000.  I can finally see the light at the end of the long-distance-love tunnel!  Hooray!

Ye Olde Times

I was just listening to “The Blow” and reading about Khaela Maricich, which suddenly got me reminiscing about… “Ye Olde Times”.

I am trying to pin-point the first time I ever become cognizant of Khaela Maricich.  I will attempt to do so based on a particular memory I have of seeing the Microphones play at a space on Milwaukee Avenue.  I believe the name of the space was “Buddy”, though it went though a number of name changes, at the time, it may have been called that.  It was a small-ish room, painted white, normally used for pretentious Chicago hipsters’ vernissages. That was probably among the first half-dozen times I went to that space, which was affiliated with the Lumpen people,  and would go on to play an extremely important role in my early-twenties socialization and lifestyle.

My specific memories of this evening are still so vivid, despite being 10 years old.  I remember that we (Betty Eo, Dave Weldzius, and perhaps some one else?) were late, and there were no seats left, and I sat on the floor.  This is central to my memory because I very clearly remember I was wearing a short denim skirt – the same skirt I was photographed wearing at my going-away party before I moved to France, in August, 2001.  This skirt was far shorter than anything else in my wardrobe and I actually felt extremely uncomfortable wearing it – but for some reason I did anyway.  It was hot.  I very awkwardly tried to sit on the ground, without exposing myself more than a lady should.

This room, with no more than 100 people in, was full of the sounds of bass drum, as this girl sang out, loud and clear, and pointed at some one in the audience – “You’ve got green eyes, I like your party thighs”.

That line, for some reason, has stuck with me, and remains in my memory, to this day.  I remember, on the way out, seeing copies of the tape for sale – “Get the Hell Out of the Way of the Volcano”.  For fuck’s sake!!!  Why didn’t I buy that tape??!!!!  Then I would have audible evidence of that line which has burned in my memory for over 10 years.

I secretly dream of finding an mp3 of that song, somewhere, one day, on Demonoid, or the Pirate Bay, which I know is hopeless.

On an interesting side-note, some time the following year, 2002, I read one k-records or some website somewhere that Phil Elvrum was looking to tour Europe, so I contacted him and suggested he come to Avignon and stay with me.  Unfortunately things didn’t work out – I think he went to Norway instead – but he did give me his address and I did send him a postcard from Scotland when I went there on holiday.

That year, 2001, I was 22 years old, in love with my friend Charlie Vinz, moving to France, and I had no idea what the future held.

I wonder if I ever could have pictured myself where I am today?  I wonder if Khaela Maricich ever thought she’d go from playing loft parties in Wicker Park to world-wide celebrity-dom?  Wow.

I guess if I look back, I don’t really have very many regrets.  There are only two that really come to mind; one being that i wish I spent more time with my mother, when I lived in the same country as her.  I really miss her, and my brother, and being so far away from them, only seeing them once or twice a year, is one thing I hate about my life.  The other thing I regret is being so laissez-faire about my health and wellness for such a long time, eating so much shitty food, being overweight for so long, probably drinking too much.  I guess I still probably drink too much, though less than those days, doubtlessly.

40 seems really old to me, but I wonder what I’ll be doing in 10 years?  What’s past is prologue, right?  If my recent past is any indicator… God my life will be so fucking boring in 10 years I will have to acquire some horrible vice just to make things bearable.

Weather and Mood

I was just reading my lovely friend Caroline’s blog about autumn in Montreal, expressing her lack of motivation, low spirits, etc; in the midst of grey skies and rainy days.  I was suddenly reminded of exactly how I felt… oh, 4 months ago, in the midst of grey skies and rainy days, here in Wellington, while (nearly) the rest of the world was enjoying a glorious summertime.

I don’t know if rain-related hum-drums exactly qualify as “Seasonal Affective Disorder”, but it’s certainly true that the weather can affect one’s mood.  Sunshine in particular has an effect on the melatonin levels in the brain.  A lack of exposure to sunlight often results in lowered mood levels.  Scientists think the evolutionary causes for these lowered mood levels stem from scarcity of foods available in colder months, as people in depressed moods are less likely to exert themselves physically, thereby require fewer calories, etc.  In addition, scientists suggest that the above-average prevalence of such seasonal depression in women may have a link to reproductive cycles.

If the grey skies have you down, despite the cold, and rain, try to get some fresh air.  Being outside will invigorate you, and even that little bit of exposure to the sun may help to lift your spirits.

Sitting here at my desk on a beautiful spring morning, looking at the sunshine filling Holloway Road, I can’t help but feel good.  It’s finally warm and sunny in Wellington!  Hooray for springtime!!!