Recapping the 2017 Phoenix Comicon

I’ve read about Cons. I’ve talked to people about their experiences at a Con. I’d never been to a Comicon. Boy, oh boy. Phoenix Comicon did not disappoint.

Grammatical Art has been making appearances at various Cons on the west coast for several years now, but this was my first time attending. As a librarian, I’d attended many large-scale conventions, so I was at least familiar with a crowded convention center, panels, vendor halls, and hustle and bustle. I do have to admit, nothing compares to the costumes at a Con, though!

This year’s Phoenix Comicon wasn’t without it’s drama (I’m looking at you bag full of guns and 2 hour security lines), but it was well worth wading through all of the initial upheaval to get in and explore. The vendor hall was full of everything from books and comic books, to superhero garb, to steampunk jewelry, to awesome grammar- and science-inspired gear and prints. Wink wink. I was so excited by all the awesome costumes and our busy booth that I didn’t even have time to think about all of the celebrities doing signings and photos in the same building!

Natalie & Jess at the Grammatical Art booth!

The absolute best part had to be meeting everyone who stopped by the Grammatical Art booth. Grammar enthusiasts, science lovers, and those with an artist’s eye all stopped by to share a laugh, an eye roll, or to debate the finer points of the Oxford comma (as if there’s even a debate!). It was a joy and pleasure to meet all of you! Natalie does beautiful work, and I loved having an opportunity to appreciate it with you.

Here’s to the next Con!

A Time and a Place for Everything, Even Incorrect Grammar

I used to think Siri on my iPhone was sort of lame. I would occasionally ask her about the weather or to set a timer for me, but she didn’t really change my life. I was young; I slept through the night; I didn’t have a kid.

But now, I have a kid, which means I have only 2 hands and a thousand things to be holding, wiping, sorting, carrying, managing, collecting, and hugging. Siri has become invaluable to me. I text people while I’m buckling my son in his car seat! I ask her to look up how many tablespoons are in a cup while I’m rinsing a can of beans and holding my toddler. I talk to Siri all day long, and with some slight misunderstandings, she’s generally very helpful.

As if using Siri isn’t already the ultimate lazy/multitasking tool, I’ve found myself getting even lazier. I don’t really always double check the texts I ask her to send for their grammar and spelling. When I’m not using Siri, but I am using voice-to-text, I check those even less often. At least Siri will read my text back to me and can edit it without my having to lift a finger. Bottom line: the punctuation is always atrocious.

I’ve started to wonder if all this Siri, Google, voice-to-text stuff is going to permanently affect what is acceptable grammar and punctuation in our written society. Personally, I’ve gotten pretty good at reading texts that come to me from people using those features–lots of autocorrect, incorrect punctuation. It makes it a little harder to understand, but it’s not a full on communication breakdown by any means.

And then I wonder, honestly, who cares? Before you gasp and clutch your pearls, hear me out. I love grammar. I work for grammar. I believe that proper grammar and punctuation are very, very important. But part of what I love about language is that it is constantly evolving. We’re constantly inventing things that need names, creating new words out of conversations. We’re an ever-evolving species and our language reflects that. So, I’m not going to sweat the small stuff in a text message. It’s a matter of conversation and convenience. I wouldn’t by lazy about it in the workplace, and certainly not in a space like this blog. It’s the same way that I don’t mind a swear word or forty among friends, but wouldn’t do it while I’m giving a press conference live on TV. You see where I’m going with this? There’s a time and place for everything. Even though my heart will always fully belong to proper punctuation, grammar, and spelling.

Totes Magotes

I’m a bit of a bag lady. By my front door as I type this, there is a hook that has about 15 bags hanging from it. And these are just my reusable bags that I take to the grocery store. I have fancy bags (like my gorgeous Kate Spade beauties), diaper bags (yes, plural), backpacks, duffel bags, suitcases, messenger bags, computer bags, and loads of purses and clutches. I can’t get enough. And though I do give away a bagful (see what I did there?) to Goodwill every spring, I still feel like each bag serves its purpose.

And yet, while I dance around and make it rain with all of my bags, there are still some I do NOT own.

Like one with my name on it:

personalized tote5

Or one with a swear word (!):

fck-tote

Or the most coveted of all, one just for my library books:

library tote4

What kind of a librarian doesn’t have a tote bag in her collection that features the word “library” and is intended for carrying books? One who’s about to get out her credit card and purchase one stat, that’s who.

So, I encourage you to take a long, hard look at your collection of tote bags and purses and fill in what’s missing with one of these (or one of our other) awesome bags.

And since this is a grammar blog, let’s talk about totes magotes. Not “totes my goats” as some may confuse it, “totes magotes” is attributed to the 2009 bromance I Love You, Man, although there is some debate about whether or not it’s been around for much longer. I’m sure you all know what it means, but basically it’s a phrase that emphasizes the word “totally.” You may also hear “totally magotally.” But you probably won’t hear it anymore because no one has said “totes magotes” except for me since 2010.

Go forth and collect your tote bags!

Grammar for All

It has become a (sad) game to find bad grammar out in the world. Items found can be as innocuous as a sign on a bathroom door to a piece of art that you are meant to hang in your kitchen that says, “Mom’s are the best chefs.”

Nope.

Of course, it’s all over social media, blogs, websites, The Interwebs. But that doesn’t stop me from smiling a little when I see something like this:

tricker treating

Ah yes, the timeless tradition of “tricker treating.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about grammar and how the ways we use it reflect back on us. In one of my Facebook groups, someone posted a question about hiring a photographer who had used poor grammar in a message exchange. My first reaction was I absolutely would not hire someone who has poor grammar. When I was planning my wedding, I dismissed vendors who had websites or advertisements riddled with grammatical errors.

But this post gave me pause. Grammar is complex. Some schools teach it thoroughly, intensely. Some don’t. Some people have a mind for all of the rules (many of which confuse and evade me). Some don’t. The mode of communication matters. Is it bad grammar on a website or is it bad grammar in a casual text message?

What fascinates me is that everyone has a relationship with grammar, whether they want to or not. We all write, even if it’s only in text messages and on social media. Some people don’t have a clue that what they’re written is at all grammatically incorrect. And does it really matter if it is so long as it’s understood? If I moved to Spain and attempted to speak in Spanish and misspoke here or there or with my thick American accent, would anyone criticize me so long as I could be understood? Probably not. Grammar is a language that belongs to all of us. Maybe common grammatical errors are sort of like written slang. It’s an evolution.

And while some grammatical errors make me shudder (the abuse of the apostrophe chief among them), I totally know what tricker treat is. I might be committing grammatical suicide, but is it a big deal if it’s spelled that way on Facebook?

Hey Biatches, the OED Added New Words

OMG, y’all. The Oxford English Dictionary added new words. More than 1,000 entries have been updated and some 1,200 words or meanings added, according to an article on the updates by NPR. The editors of the OED typically wait years before they ultimately decide what words and meanings to add, making the “newness” of some of these words sort of silly. Once we start writing down and spelling out words that may only have been spoken or used jokingly, the editors start to take notice. The process of legitimizing and recording a word begins.

Some of the best additions for this go-around include:

  • cheese eater (n.): a person who eats cheese; a person who appreciates or routinely consumes cheese
  • ‘Merica (n.): America. Note: Originally and chiefly in representations of nonstandard speech. Now frequently also in ironic or self-conscious use, emphasizing emblematic or stereotypical qualities of American traditions, institutions and national ideals.
  • moobs (n.): unusually prominent breasts on a man, typically as a result of excess pectoral fat.
  • uptalk (n.): a manner of speaking in which declarative sentences are uttered with rising intonation at the end, a type of intonation more typically associated with questions.
  • YOLO (int.): “You only live once”; used to express the view that one should make the most of the present moment without worrying about the future (often as a rationale for impulsive or reckless behavior).

YOLO cracks me up in particular because it’s grammatically incorrect to say “you only live once” (it should really be “you live only once,” so YLOO). But hey, so goes the evolution of language.

There are also some racy, NSFW ones like biatch and jagoff. I might be most proud to see jagoff in the OED as a Pittsburgher (it’s a classic work of Pittsburghese). I’ll let you use your imagination on the actual definition or look that one up yourself. 😉

What’s coolest about all of this to me is that it demonstrates how fluid and flexible language is, which is one of my favorite things about it. We are, all of us, allowed to own it, bend it, tweak it, use it how we need to. There is certainly a difference between a creative evolution of a word and the bastardization of a word, to be clear. And I know there are purists among us, but I am a huge fan of this malleability. I once had a professor spend an entire class lamenting the misuse of impact. What was once a noun has now also become a verb, likely because people wanted to avoid misusing affect/effect. I for one say, “So what? Who cares?” Documentation adds validity, so now that it’s in the OED, go ahead, use it. YOLO, after all.

 

When Bad Grammar Happens to Good (Grammar) People

I proofread text messages. Most of the time. I absolutely proofread emails. Big, heavy, important emails I proofread by reading them out loud just as I was taught to do in my college writing class. Sometimes, if they’re really important, I have someone else proofread them. This is how obsessed neurotic careful I am about my grammar.

It’s always been important to me to be sure I’m communicating as clearly as possible. There’s nothing more confusing or frustrating than muddling through someone’s ill-written, typo-ridden email, text message, Facebook post.

But, hey, everyone’s busy. Sometimes, you’re jotting off a text quickly and autocorrect gets the better of you. You’re typing a response to a simple email and there are more than one or two typos. Stuff happens!

But then there’s the time that you post something for all to see on a blog, website, even your social media. You think it looks great, and then you go back and notice a mistake. And there’s a pit in your stomach. You think to yourself, How could I have done that? I proofread that! I don’t make grammar mistakes.

Well, bad grammar happens, even to people with good grammar skills.

I wonder if it’s gotten worse. Editing is so easy, even on social media! That is, unless you screw up a tweet, and then your only option is to delete it and re-type it. Did people take grammar more seriously when they were using typewriters? Quill pens? The dread you feel when realizing you’ve made an error in pen in a thank you note to your grandmother is way worse than realizing you made a mistake on your blog. What do you do in the thank you note? Cross it out and rewrite it so that it looks like scribble art? Maybe we’re lazier about checking our writing beforehand because we have a lot of ways to check it after the fact.

Trust and believe, even though you can edit a blog post, the feeling of dread is still there when you catch a grammatical error. It’s even worse when you work for a company called Grammatical Art and you have a glaring typo on a blog post you wrote for said company. I mean, I didn’t do that, but a friend of mine may have.

So, even though sometimes bad grammar happens to good (grammar) people, you’re still allowed to wear this shirt.

grammar queen

 

One Year Later

It’s now been a year since my daughter was diagnosed with autism. It was a diagnosis met with mixed emotions because while I finally had answers to why she wasn’t talking and why she wasn’t developing the way we expected her to be, I would be lying if I told you it wasn’t devastating to hear this news. It means that she won’t just outgrow this non-speaking phase; she may never communicate in a traditional verbal way. It was a difficult blow to take.

I am the grammar lady; it’s my thing. I love to talk; that’s also my thing. Over the past year, I’ve had to learn how to communicate with a little human in non-traditional ways. We use pictures, gestures, some sign language, and I’ve had to learn how to decipher different pitches of screams in order to communicate with her. It’s been an arduous adventure in patience and perseverance I didn’t know I needed.

Over the past year, we have been very fortunate to go through this with a team of professionals: special educators, paraprofessionals, pediatricians, developmental pediatricians, psychologists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists, and an amazing team of behavioral therapists. I am grateful to these amazingly patient and kind people who are helping her grow every day. While her journey may appear to be a slow one to outsiders, I know she is making incredible strides to be the best person she can be. She has taught me to cherish and value these small steps and to celebrate them as the huge victories they are.

I am impressed by my daughter’s inability to speak in complete sentences, yet being able to tell me what she needs now. She uses color names to describe most things. As I’m sitting here typing this, she’s telling me she wants “juice” and wants the “red” one–the juice box in the red container is what she’s seeking. I would love for her to say, “Mommy, I want an apple juice, please.” However, that’s not our life. Maybe that will change one day and maybe it won’t. That’s what I’ve had to get used to: the unknown development future and being okay with that.

Sadly, ensuring my daughter’s progressive development hasn’t been the only battle I’ve had to encounter this year. I’ve also been battling the loss of insurance where I live. This summer, I found out my daughter’s health insurer would be leaving my state. That in and of itself didn’t alarm me too much as there were other insurers. Then I found out they were leaving, too. Now I am stuck in a county that has no health insurance options that cover my daughter’s very necessary therapies. This is the first place it’s happened in the country and no one knows what to do about it or how to fix it. You can read more about it here: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/the-county-obamacare-forgot-227251

I don’t want to get into a debate about the politics of health care laws and how we got here, but I will be very clear about my factual position: My daughter would not be insured and would not have the access to the care she requires to thrive without the Affordable Care Act and the insurance provided through the federal marketplace. It’s not perfect, but it’s the only option I have to gain access to the health care she needs at this time.

I have spent months writing letters to every politician I can from the mayor of my city to the President of the United States and as of today, September 1, 2016, I have zero solutions or options to fully insure my daughter in 2017. The solution I basically have at this point is to move my family and business to another county or state and hope that it doesn’t happen there next year. That sounds like an asinine non-solution if you ask me.

I still don’t know what I am going to do. I am working every day to come up with an actual solution to help cover my daughter, the other 10,000 Pinal County residents who rely on the same insurance options, and also the other people across the country who will need insurance when they face the same challenge my county is. I am writing letters, I am visiting lawmakers, I am calling US Senators, I am contacting insurance companies to try to find coverage; I am doing a lot of work to ensure my daughter’s development isn’t hindered by a political battle.

I am partially writing this as an update to last year’s post to let you know my daughter is doing great and she’s thriving at her school and in all of her therapies. I am also writing this to explain why I may not be creating as many new products as you’re used to seeing in Grammatical Art. I absolutely love creating and it pains me to not be doing it as often right now. Between my demanding day job, my daughter’s packed schedule, running the business day-to-day, and fighting a political battle for insurance, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything. Creating has definitely taken a backseat. I will get back to it, I just need to get through all of this stuff first.

I truly appreciate your support over the years and I (and my daughter) would not be where I am without you. I look forward to returning to creating soon, but I need some people in Washington to cooperate first. Until then, you can still rely on all of the awesome existing products in the shop.

Resilience is a word I thought I knew. My daughter has taught me what it truly is at the young age of four. I must persevere as she does and get this done.

One Year Later

Grammatical Art is at Phoenix Comicon!

After being on the waiting list for two years, I will finally be at the Phoenix Comicon!

I run an online business and the majority of my sales and interactions with customers are done online. While I have great exchanges with my customers, it’s all done behind a screen. Doing in-person shows is a way that I actually get to meet my customers in person and I love it.

I LOVE doing comic cons because I get to meet all kinds of people who have different interests and a myriad of backgrounds and careers, but they also love grammatical puns and scientific formulas. I feel like I am among my kind at the cons and I enjoy every minute of it.

In person, I have the chance to sell things that are cost-prohibitive and a challenge to ship, like framed prints. (I really love how my prints look in a snazzy frame and I wish I could ship them all over the world, but alas, they arrive shattered and destroyed. So that’s another bonus of shopping in person with me.) I will also be debuting a couple new designs this weekend at the show!

If you haven’t grabbed tickets yet, make sure you get them! Stop over at booth 122 and say hello; if you buy a t-shirt, even better.

We’ll be at the show at the Phoenix Convention Center (100 N 3rd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004) this weekend:
Thursday, June 2nd: 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Friday, June 3rd: 10:00AM – 7:00PM
Saturday, June 4th: 10:00AM – 7:00PM
Sunday, June 5th: 10:00AM – 5:00PM

You can see more programming and ticket info here.

WonderCon 2016

Less Is More, Not Fewer

My mom is an awesome woman. She’s funny, sarcastic, smart as heck, super well read, relentlessly dedicated to her kids, and definitely knows her grammar.

Like my mom, I pride myself on my attention to detail and grammar skills. I was a writing and teaching assistant in college, so it was my actual job to edit grammar and help people write better. Living the dream, guys.

Imagine my horror when my mom corrected my grammar.

Me: There were a lot less people there than I was expecting!
Mom: Fewer.
Me: …
Mom: You mean fewer.
Me: …
Mom: There were fewer people there than you were expecting.
Me: No, I meant less.
Mom: Well, you’re wrong. It’s fewer.

She was right. Turns out, even top level grammar nerds such as myself can fall victim to spoken grammatical errors.

So, if you haven’t fallen in love with my mom already, you should. Turns out, I fell even more in love with her after I became a mom myself. The instant my son was born this past December, I wanted to call her all those times I hadn’t, send her more pictures, be a better daughter. Mostly, I just realized that there was a tiny human that belonged to me and I never wanted him to leave me. How had my mom felt when I went off to college? Moved away and got married?

I wanted to soak up every minute of my time with my son, so I decided to quit my full time job and stay home with him. When my son was about two months old, my awesome friend from college texted me, “Hey. Any interest in a part-time job from home with flexible hours?” Why yes, Natalie, yes I am interested. Home with the kiddo and something to keep me challenged and making some money? Working for an awesome company using my skills as a grammar enthusiast and librarian? Sign me up!

So that’s how I got here. I’ll be blogging for Grammatical Art (don’t worry, it won’t always be about moms and kids), and I’ll be helping manage things on the customer side of the company. I can’t wait to work with you and keep you in style with the best grammar wear out there!

Grammar Be Damned

My first blog post is surprisingly a very personal one. My daughter was diagnosed as autistic this week. After a year of doctor, therapy, and other specialist appointments, it is a good feeling to finally have an answer as to what’s going on with her. Having the answer will help us formulate a plan moving forward to get her the educational and therapeutic assistance she needs, so this is actually great news. In all honesty though, it sucks.

No one dreams of their child growing up with any sort of disability or challenge in life. I certainly never thought I would have to worry about having a child who couldn’t talk to me. (I’m long-winded and love to talk to anyone about anything, so it only makes sense that I would have a talker.) However, that’s exactly what happened. I am the lady who loves proper grammar so much that I created a business around it and now my daughter cannot string together a noun with a verb. I would give ANYTHING for my daughter to do so, proper grammar be damned. I don’t care what tense her verb is in, just give me a verb, kid.

Having an almost four year old who has daily meltdowns because she can’t tell you what she needs or is feeling is a big challenge. We are working on using other communication methods like sign language and pictograms to overcome this, but it’s still incredibly frustrating for us, the parents, and the adorable little human.

I wish I could wave my magic grammatical wand and make it all better for her. Poof! You are now able to speak in perfectly structured sentences. Love, The Grammatical Fairy Godmother.

Alas, it isn’t that easy.

Over time, I have the utmost faith in her gaining better communication abilities. At her new preschool (that actually specializes in the education of autistic children), she makes incredible strides daily and her speech therapist works her hard every single session. It’s just going to happen on her own timeline and in her own way. She may end up learning proper grammar along the way and she may not; I honestly don’t care at this point. It’s also not important right now; getting her to communicate in any way is important right now, grammar be damned.


Fundraiser for the School

My daughter is fortunate enough to go to an all-inclusive preschool where the educators tailor their teaching style and the lesson content to each kid’s needs and where the kids can have all of their therapies at the school. Educating and treating a child with autism is very costly. This is because staff to student ratios in programs like this are much smaller than that of a conventional school; they also have very qualified staffers educating and treating the children. Thanks to the school that she attends, it is affordable and we will be forever grateful for having access to the much needed early intervention our autistic child requires.

They cover the majority of the educational costs through grants and state funding, but a large portion is donated by ordinary people and businesses. I would like to assist in raising money for the school for many reasons, but the main ones are that I’d love the school to be around through the decades to come and I want more families to have access to their programs.

I am selling autism awareness t-shirts, sweatshirts, and totes in the shop to raise money for the school. 100% of the proceeds will go to the school that has changed our lives (Grammatical Art is donating all of the materials and labor). Please consider purchasing an item here:

Grammatical Art Autism Awareness Fundraiser

puzzle GA hoodie vneck tote