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.

Traveloog Friday 191101 (Redacted Version)

Start: [Redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana. 

End: [Redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Exciting Events: 

  • [Redacted] gave me $2 as backpay for [redacted] favors. Hilarious. 
  • Made [redacted] by snapping my fingers. 
  • Dinner with [redacted], wherein we discussed books and ideas and art. I like her. 
  • Cuddled with [redacted] for a long while. Watched her cook dinner, too. Both very intimate. 
  • Lots of [redacted]! Great. YAY! 

Real Realizations: 

  • [Redacted] is not withholding. She does the thing she wants to do irrespective of what someone else wants. That’s self-driven and irrespective of someone else’s desires, but it’s not withholding. 
  • The feeling of something being meaningful is just that—a feeling—and could be wrong. 

Quotent Quotables: 

  • [Redacted] talking with me: 
    • “How late are you staying up? I casually need one or two more shots.” 
    • “What?! You alcoholic!” 
    • “Of photos! 
  • The feeling of something being meaningful is just that—a feeling—and could be wrong. E.g. “When I nerd out about something for hours and hours, it’s not necessarily because it’s the most important thing in the world. It’s because I get pleasure out of the feeling of nerding out.” -[Redacted] 
  • “Sometimes I feel like life is just a series of obligations that repeat every day.” -me 
  • “I hate being organized when I don’t remember where I organized things.”-[redacted]

Commonplace occurrences: 

  • [Redacted] work. 37 mins, nothing happened, [redacted]. 
  • Completed my daily writing. 
  • Completed my travelog. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • Boudin balls at Buffa’s. Delicious! 

Alluring Activities: 

  • Sleeping well! In bed to sleep before 1am.

Travelog Thursday 191031 (Redacted version)

Start: Parked outside [redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana. 

End: sleeping in [redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Exciting Events: 

  • Wandered around New Orleans dressed in a couple’s costume: I was Draco Malfoy & Smidge was Dobby the House Elf. 
    • Drunk wandering is just as pointless as I remember. Trying to find that friend, avoiding places with covers, etc. 

  • Felt twice like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. 
    • When [redacted] and I were playing connect 4 as the night was coming to a close.
    • Wandering down Bourbon street sipping a delightfully fruity daiquiri.
  • Talked through [redacted]’s life goals and how he should choose a career by ability, not passion. 
  • Did two [redacted]. 
  • Phone with [redacted] to tell her I [redacted]. 

Real Realizations: 

  • People are the same everywhere. The difference is interests, topics, opportunities. Same people, tho. 
  • Sleep deprivation keeps people wired and happy. 
  • I don’t enjoy dressing up for Halloween. Too much effort, too little value. 

Quotent Quotables: 

  • “I’m gonna be a cow.” -[redacted]. 
  • “The first thing to attack in your enemy is their communications.” -[redacted]. 
    • I like this quote for its wide-ranging reach. Whether playing chess or in war with a country, the first thing to destroy is their ability to think. You knock out that ability by knocking out communications—between them and another or within one, itself. 

Commonplace occurrences: 

  • Work for [redacted]. 
  • Did [redacted]’s dishes. What a gift. 

Disappointing doldrums: 

  • [Redacted] with [redacted] feels oddly fractured again. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • Cooked a steak and sweet potatoes for [redacted] & me. 
  • Chicken tenders at dinner. 

Alluring Activities: 

  • Hanging with [redacted]. 
  • Sleeping late. 

Travelog Wednesday 191030 (Redacted Version)

Start: Parked outside the New Orleans African American Museum, Governor Nicholl’s Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

End: Parked outside [redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana.

Real Realizations: 

  • Everyone’s self-conscious about something vis-à-vis their sex life. 

Quotent Quotables: 

  • “Sir, sir,” the older woman behind me in Walmart says. “Yes?” I reply, removing a headphone. “You have nice looking legs.” “Thanks, I appreciate that,” I say and then feel incredibly uncomfortable. 
  • “You can sweat on the inside, just don’t sweat on the outside.” -[Redacted]. 
  • “You’re interesting, in a challenging way.” -[Redacted]. 

Exciting Events: 

  • Call with [redacted] to reorganize his working life. 
  • Call with [redacted] for fun. 
  • First [redacted]. With [redacted]. 
    • [Redacted] with both [redacted]. 
    • Gave [redacted] while [redacted]. 
    • Playfighting / [redacted] with [redacted]. 
  • [Redacted]’s stories: 
    • Stealing $1,100 from a movie theater by dropping the $100 bills into a big gulp cup. 
    • Smuggling drugs into prison as a guard. 
    • Stopping 3 kids from stealing his car stereo & dodging a bullet in the process. 
  • Awake till 5am for the third time in New Orleans. It was 6am, this time. 

Commonplace occurrences: 

  • Showered at Planet Fitness. 
  • Bought steaks from Walmart. 

Disappointing doldrums: 

  • The death ritual. Well structured, good concept; lacking in execution &/or details. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • First muffaletta! Yum. 
  • The stew that [redacted] made. That chick can cook! 

Alluring Activities: 

  • Nap tomorrow?!?!
  • Rocky Horror tomorrow?!?!
  • More [redacted] with these great people?!?!

Travelog Tuesday 191029 (Redacted Version)

Start: [Redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana. 

End: Parked outside the New Orleans African American Museum, Governor Nicholl’s Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

Exciting Events: 

  • None to speak of. 

Real Realizations: 

  • All the thoughts that bubbled up as part of watching the comedy special Nanette. 

Quotent Quotables: 

  • This dialog:
    • Me: “I’m doing a couples costume with my dog: I’m Lucius Malfoy and she’s Dobby the House Elf.” 
    • [Redacted] (Former college classmate): “That sounds exploitative.”
    • Me: “Yeah, I’ll have to watch out for the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare.”

Commonplace occurrences: 

  • Vaguely disappointing [redacted]. 
  • A bit of [redacted] work. 

Disappointing doldrums: 

  • Didn’t love [redacted]. Enjoyed talking [redacted] though. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • Pizza & fettuccine in New Orleans again.
  • Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey.  

Alluring Activities: 

  • Work.
  • Date with [redacted]. 
  • My death ceremony. 
  • Getting out of New Orleans. 

Travelog 191027 (Redacted Version)

Start: Parked on the corner of Marias & Governor Nicholls St, in the Tremé district of New Orleans, Louisiana. 

End: Parked on the corner of Marias & Governor Nicholls St, in the Tremé district of New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Exciting Events: 

  • Happened upon a New Orleans parade! They’re called “second lines”, and are essentially the parade of people behind the typical parade. 
    • Mine was for the Black Men’s Labor Union. No, it wasn’t a protest or a strike; just a parade! 
    • Later in the evening, overheard another parade. These things are everywhere! 
  • The outfits—absurd! Straight out of the ‘20s. 
  • Happened upon a birthday party on the sidewalk. Felt odd to this CA native. Seemed commonplace here. 
  • Wrote about my time in New Orleans & relationship to partying. 

Real Realizations: 

  • For a celebration to matter, you need something to celebrate. 

Quotent Quotables: 

  • “It’s the universal New Orleans excuse for being late: “I got stuck behind a second line.” -[Redacted].

Commonplace occurrences: 

  • Half-an-hour phone call with [Redacted]. 
  • Watched a few more episodes of Bojack Horseman. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • “Shrimp po boy on french, dressed with everything.” 
  • Fettucini alfredo & pizza 

Alluring Activities: 

  • Getting back to the grind.

Travelog 191026 (Redacted Version)

Start: Parked on the corner of Marias & Governor Nicholls St, in the Tremé district of New Orleans, Louisiana. 

End: Parked on the corner of Marias & Governor Nicholls St, in the Tremé district of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Quotent Quotables: 

  • “Have you ever had a New Orleans sweet potato? You don’t have to add anything. They come out the ground sweet.” -[Redacted], my waiter at Willie Mae’s Scotch House. 
  • “I wonder if a Chihuahua with Parkinson’s just doesn’t move.” -Me. 
  • “People in New Orleans all get along. If you come to New Orleans and you can’t get along with anybody, there’s something wrong with you.” -[Redacted], my Uber driver. 

Exciting Events: 

  • Awoke at 1pm. My first Day in New Orleans and I was out til 5am… 
  • Wrote a reply to [redacted] letter. 
  • Ate incredible soul food in the Tremé district. 
  • I asked an Uber driver how the city is different after Katrina. He said “it’s not.” And pointed to a pothole that’s been here since before the storm. He evidently isn’t impressed by any political change. 
  • [Redacted]’s after-party
    • Apropos of nothing, a man [redacted] on the couch next to me, 
    • I ask a woman why she spends time around these people. She says, (paraphrase) “because all the women tell me I’m beautiful.” 
  • Halloween party with intense [redacted] demonstrations (like [redacted]), where the band played Pink Floyd for an hour. 
  • Video call with [redacted] both right before he went to bed (my 9pm) and right after he woke up the next day (my 5am). 

Real Realizations: 

  • The people I’ve met here live to party. It’s cheap and exciting and pacifying and hollow. 
  • I’ve been [redacted] but all of it feels empty [redacted]. 

Commonplace occurrences: 

  • Completed [redacted] outline: another [redacted]. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • Fried chicken and sweet potato fries at Willie Mae’s Scotch House, New Orleans. 

  • The best chicken tenders of my life, at Key’s Fuel (the gas station near my friend’s house). 
  • All That Jazz sandwich: ham, turkey, cheese, shrimp, mushrooms, and a white sauce. So good! Shockingly so! I expected it to be weird from the shrimp but it was not.
    • Everything I’ve eaten in New Orleans has been delicious. 

[Redacted]

Alluring Activities: 

  • Afterparty with [redacted] tonite. Do I go? It only starts at 2am… 

Travel Log 191025 (Redacted Version)

Start: Parked on a public street outside Walmart, West Houston, TX 

End: Parked on the corner of Marias & Governor Nicholls St, in the Tremé district of New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Exciting Events: 

  • Went to a vampire masquerade party, last minute, on a whim. 
    • Carried a mermaid, because it was having trouble traveling on its own (the feet-together tail-hop was ineffective). 

  • [Redacted]
    • [Redacted]
  • [Redacted], Smidge used her pee pad! Yay! No pee on my bed! 

Real Realizations: 

  • Partiers go [redacted] HARD here. 
  • People in New Orleans put serious effort into their costumes. 

Quotent Quotables: 

  • “It is moister than an oyster.” – partygoer, on the copious amounts of rain. 

Commonplace occurrences:

  • Worked for two hours. [Redacted]. Yay! 
  • Phone calls with lotsa friends.
  • Watched the first four episodes of the final season of Bojack Horseman. 
  • Floofed Smidge in delight. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • A brisket-stuffed burger. Yum! 
    • The Louisianan cashier asked where I was from. I told him to guess. He guessed Australia. 
  • A [redacted] 4am slice of cheese pizza. SO GOOD. 

[Redacted]


Alluring Activities: 

  • Crazy New Orleans happenings! 
  • Letter to [redacted]. 
  • Outline to the [redacted] guys. 

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.