Monthly Archives: August 2011

Why hello, sweet-looking Triumph motorbike. Look at you, just sitting there so innocently on the street. Do you want to be a part of my mid-life crisis? I have candy in my pockets…

Our town is still under a boil water order, since Hurricane Irene botched up our clean water supply. It’s a pain in the ass, but the water that’s dribbling from the tap is a nasty shade of gray, not suitable for healthy living. The Busy-Lazy family had the bright idea of going to the gym to get cleaned up, but the one we usually go to doesn’t have any power, so it’s been closed. This morning I drove 45 minutes to another gym to workout and get cleaned up. I wish I could say it was due to vanity but I think my co-workers would appreciate it if I went to work today at least somewhat clean. The other gym has a significantly higher douche quotient than our regular gym. Beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.

Recently got some more ink, this time adding color to the lotus flower on the front of my right arm. Also, there was an empty patch on the back that I was trying to figure out what to fill it in with, so I ended up adding more clouds and another lotus blossom. My tattoo artist completed all of the outlining and shading work, but we ran out of time to color all of the flowers, so I have to go back to finish up the coloring in a few of weeks.

Since I started my Tattoo Spree of 2011, I’ve been doing things like Googling “motorcycle schools” and eying Triumph bikes on the street. I’m pretty sure that I’m in the throes of a full-blown, early on-set middle-life crisis.

Seen at the local deli in town. Apparently, the weekend storm was simply a competition between our humble township and Mother Nature. And I guess we won? Yay for us?

 the31styear said: And you’re right—it is only white people who do that shit, because we’re assholes.

Hi the31styear! I debated whether or not to respond to your comment on my last post, but I felt that out of respect to you and others who were offended by what I said, I should clarify.

First, I didn’t mean to suggest that only white people act as grammar Nazis. What I said was that in my personal experience, more often than not, it’s white people who go out of their way to correct the spoken and written English of non-white people. Certainly, grammar Nazis come from all walks of life. Second, all white people are not assholes. The funny thing about asshole-ism is that it’s an equal opportunity condition that afflicts all races.

I did mean to suggest, however, that people who like to demean others for their imperfect or improper use of English are assholes. My point is: the wonderful thing about language in general—and English in particular—is that it’s constantly evolving and what’s deemed imperfect or improper at a given moment in time could turn out to be perfectly acceptable in another.

I make the distinction between non-white, non-native English speakers and white, non-native English speakers because I believe that non-white, non-native English speakers are often treated as if we are less intelligent or less cultured or less sophisticated because we might speak with an accent that’s not as mellifluous to the Western ear as the accent of someone who comes from a non-English-speaking, predominantly white country.

My larger point is that (some) people get their jollies by castigating other people (of all races) because how they speak or what they write—on their Tumblr blogs, for example—isn’t said or written to the precise grammatical specifications that these grammar Nazis have arbitrarily decided we should all follow. Unless these people who demean others for their poor English are perfect themselves and possess doctorate degrees in English literature from Harvard, I just don’t think it’s cool to judge others on their usage of English. And if these grammar Nazis are, in fact, perfect Harvard graduates, then they are simply being assholes.

Lazy Dad’s Guide to Broken English: A Primer

Despite the fact that I have two degrees in Creative Writing (in English), sometimes I like to pretend that I don’t know how to speak English. This is especially true when strangers on the street come up to me and ask, “Excuse me, do you speak English?” I usually respond, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak English.” And then I walk away.

Conversely, when random Chinkies come up to me and ask if I speak Chinese—in Chinese, no less—I like to say, “Duibuqi, wo bu hui shuo zhongguo,” which is totally true because saying, “I don’t know how to speak Chinese” in Chinese is pretty much the extent of the language that I know (aside from some baby words).

I’m always tickled whenever I see people going apeshit over grammar and language, especially on the Interwebs. You know the type. They’re the ones with Facebook status updates that say: “If you’re not going to use correct subject-verb agreement, then don’t post on my wall!” Or they’ll create a listicle that reads, “No. 1 Reason Why People Are Stupid: They don’t know the difference between you’re and your.”

I suppose there’s value in speaking and writing in perfectly clear, perfectly grammatical English, but personally I rather like the idiosyncrasies of language, how it changes and evolves over time. For me, pidgin English and Ebonics are totally legitimate forms of language expression, seriously.

It’s funny to me when people go out of their way to correct other people’s writing or speaking because it’s really important to put those of us with imperfect English in our places when it comes to proper usage of English. Often these are the same people who always only use the “and I” construction because someone once (mistakenly) told them that it’s more proper than using “and me.” (Sorry to break it to you, but it’s not always the case.) And often these English grammar Nazis are white folks. I’m not sure another person of color as ever corrected my English. Ever. Seriously.

As an immigrant, I’ve spent my entire life surrounded by people speaking and writing in broken English. When I was young, this used to irritate and embarrass me to no end. But as an adult, I’ve realized how lovely it is to hear and read the unique patois of non-native English speakers. Because the boy’s nanny is a non-native speaker, my son has picked up some of her jargon and speech patterns. He’ll say “ax” instead of “ask” or say “girl” with about four syllables.

It’s adorable to hear my little middle-class, Asian-American son say, “I axed her.” Seriously, it’s freakin’ adorable. But I suspect that as he grows up, some people will think he’s stupid or provincial or a hick because he doesn’t speak the Queen’s English. To these judgmental know-it-alls, I say: Please remove the disco stick from your ass. Life is not an advanced placement test. No one gives a shit that you can correctly speak or write in “proper” English. Seriously. No one. Gives a shit.

Besides, it’s more than likely that those of us who aren’t speaking and writing in perfect American English can, in fact, do so whenever we want. We just choose to pretend that we don’t understand what you’re saying.

BTW, why does the picture above make me look like I’m a refugee in 1940s Germany? I swear, it was taken at the Sears Portrait Studio in suburban Chicago.

Schedules might be for squares, but after three days of a wackadoodle schedule at home with the boy, it was kind of disaster getting out of the house this morning for work. The boy asked, “Dad, are you going to work?” I said, I’m going to try, if the trains are running. The boy said, “Just work at home today.” I said, I can’t. The boy said, “Look at my face. This is what I look like when I’m sad.” I told him I’d be home tonight and then we can play.

What’s for dinner? We had handmade crab cakes and spicy yellow and green zucchini from the farmer’s market. It was all really, really good. The only drag was watching Hardball during dinner and hearing those talking heads bash my girlfriend Michele Bachmann for saying that “America is on a morbid obesity diet.” Look, Miss Thang is—what—a size double zero? If anyone can judge anyone else for being morbidly obese, it’s Mrs. Bachmann. Shantay, you stay, guurrl!

BTW, we still don’t have running water in our town, so we’re still using paper plates. I think the last time I took a shower was Saturday. Don’t judge. That’s Mrs. Bachmann’s job. And she thinks I’m fat. Plus, she said it’s my fault that god decided to wreak havoc on the Northeast with Hurricane Irene. And because she speaks with such conviction, she must be right, amirite or amirite? What can’t the lamestream media just leave girlfriend alone like Britney? Why?