I put the punctuation outside the quotes.

I put the punctuation outside the quotes. I also hyphenate adverbial constructions ending in -ly. I know these are “wrong”. I understand they’re conventions. The conventions are stupid.

A sentence ends with a mark of punctuation. A quotation may include a mark of punctuation in the quote: 

  • David said, “Where are we going?”
  • Did David say, “Where are we going?” 
  • Did David say, “We are going north?” 

Oh shit. You see the problem? It’s that third sentence. The one where your English teacher would demand the question mark go inside the quotes, but putting it inside the quotes is misleading. 

An English sentence starts with a capital letter and ends with a punctuation mark. This system works. It doesn’t need to change when it’s in a fucking quote. 

I’d punctuate that last, dastardly question like this: 

  • “Did David say, “We are going north.”? 

Why? Because David spoke a fucking sentence.

Let’s reverse it. What if the sentence is a statement and the quotation’s a question? 

  • David asked, “Where are we going?”. 

See what I did there? I tossed a period into the sentence, after the quotation marks. Why? Because “David asked, __________” is a sentence. It should end with a punctuation mark. Omitting the punctuation makes us assume it’s a question… and David’s quoted query doesn’t make my statement an inquisition. 

Some will be uncomfortable with these ideas. “But my English teacher taught me…” Well, tough titties. Language lives. We grow and improve it. Did you know the word “okay” comes from a mid-1800s comedic misspelling of “all correct” as “oll korrect”? Is it stupid that old-timey people misspelled words for humorous effect? Yep. But aren’t you glad we now have that damn valuable word? Language is for communication. If it works, use it. 

Maybe punctuating outside the quotes “looks ugly” or “feels weird”… but think of our children! They’ll live in a much clearer grammatical world. They’ll inherit a world where the sentence is the sentence and the quote is the quote, where you can tell whether the person said a full sentence or not by checking the quote itself. 

  • Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon…”.

Without the ellipses in the quote, you’d assume that as his whole sentence. With the ellipses, you know he continued. 

  • He finished the speech, “… in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”. 

Grammar should make writing clearer, not hold onto outdated structures. 

Join the resistance. Punctuate proper.

My Current Favorite Word

My current favorite word is “pejorative”, generally for indicating what I’m not doing. I frequently need to separate a word’s denotations from its connotations. Take the word “manipulate”. Denotatively, it means “to create change by influencing something… in a negative way”. That latter connotation is not inherent to the act of manipulating itself. One could manipulate the world in a strictly positive way, by using ethical means for a purely desirable end. To communicate that, I would say something like, “he manipulates the world around him, but I don’t mean ‘manipulate’ in a pejorative sense” to isolate the facts from the opinions. (Why use “manipulate” at all? It’s the most denotatively-precise word; more direct than “influence” or hands-on than “alter”.) Pejoratives are judging, and I appreciate the ability to remove that opinion.

New Orleans Would Agree If It Ever Came Home

On a cold Sunday night with my van heater blasting and a bit of white wine still seeping from my blood, I don’t feel misplaced. Not in the wrong place. Just alone, lonely, sad, and wanting. Maybe that’s this place.

The thing about travel? They don’t tell you it’s lonely. “An adventure of excitement and eye-opening growth.”

Yes, that’s travel. But it’s lonely, too.

It’s me and my dog, one month in our roadtrip. Atlanta, then Texas, now in New Orleans. Friends—some great friends—we met along the way. Yet still it’s just us— me and my dog.

Last night, out til 5, surrounded by parties, I made two new friends that I’m now gonna see. Interesting people with lives and opinions. Better than that, unique, fun, funny, too.

But now, when it’s late, and my sleep schedule’s fucked, I see why someone would get drunk again. Then it’s tomorrow. Who knows what could happen? Who wouldn’t have fun at a New Orleans club?

That’s not a solution. That’s open containers. Vessels transporting liquid from one place to place. People vibrating where they stand, moving forward only in time. Bleary, wide-eyed blobs drink to replace their cold sweat.

Why has this city not changed since Katrina? Why did my cabbie say there’s really no dif?

If you spend your life dancing, you’ve nothing to celebrate. That’s what this is: just an empty, wet kiss. But not one from your grandma or a dog or a lover. Just tongue from someone who, right now, like you, feels alone. Together will be great for the time that it’s lasting, but morning will come and you’ll have to go home.

My Dog Gets Catcalled

“Little boy or little girl?” yelled the toothless man from his garage across the street.

“She’s a little girl,” I hollered back. It’s 9:30am on a Thursday as I walk Smidge, my 5lb chihuahua.

“Well, I got a little boy about the same size. Does she wanna be a momma?”

“I don’t think she can.”

“Well, thought I might give it a try.”

My thoughts, in retrospect: 

  • What?
  • What?!
  • WHAT?!?!

The Heaviest I’ve Ever Been

I stepped on the scale today: 188.4lbs, a new record for personal mass. I showered today, too, for the first time in 11 days. My facial hair and fingernails are growing long. My van is disorganized. I say: LET ‘EM GO. 

I’ve heard of someone “letting themself go.” It typically means, “This person used to be attractive. Now they’re fat.” 

I could hit 200lbs. Perhaps I will.

Is this what happens when I release myself? When I live without restrictions? Instead of eating strict carnivore or low carb, it’s ice cream and pizza and…, oh my!

I could be a bigger man. Right now I’m just a bigger man. 

I worry. I don’t want to fall into a hole I can’t get out of. I don’t think I’m there yet though. And I’m enjoying digging. 

The day I decided to trust myself.

On following others:

School is following others. Culture instills following others. Corporations, countries, and organizations require following others. Following others is not for the individual. It’s for the safety of the herd.

On freedom and the individual:

I need the freedom to express. I need the freedom to explore. I need the freedom to create. These are only taught by the world’s best teachers. Learn to learn from yourself or risk living someone else’s version of your life.

The Fiercest Chihuahua You’ve Ever Met

In this corner, at five-pound-four and thirty inches long, she’s the fiercest chihuahua you’ve ever met. She defends her food with the courage of a Rottweiler. She’s a fierce mama bear with six gnawed nipples to prove it. She marks giants’ territory as her own and likes her scritches… ruff.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen…

 

 

 

 

The one and only…

 

 

 

 

 

Smidge

IMG_7309

 

Want more Smidge? Comment with a request.