Sunday, August 22, 2004

The Trouble with Reading Other Journals

One of the nice things about The Saturday Six and The Weekend Assignment is that they become an easy way to find some new journals to read.  Or ones to avoid like bathtub rings.

Sometimes when I go to a new journal from one of Scalzi's or Patrick's links, I last for less than a minute because something in that first sentence takes my breath away.  And it ain't anybody's good looks. 

For instance, bad grammar drives me batty.  [ See The Grammar Lady at http://www.grammarlady.com/ ]

We all make mistakes -- hello, that would be me -- but when someone uses "went" instead of "gone" it's like snagging my last good pair of stockings. Or my date getting a big pimple on his nose when we're out to dinner.

[This actually happened once.  I watched the thing begin growing during the appetizer and it was nearly the size of a bowling ball by dessert, which, because of the unpleasant view, I skipped. And the guy hadn't been a teenager since Elvis fit in leather pants.]

On the other hand, I'm willing to cut some slack for folks who screw up "lay" and "lie" and "i before e except after c".  Although that last one is an easy spellcheck. 

It's also becoming abundantly clear that nobody seems to know where or when to put an apostrophe anymore.  My recent favorite is "your's."

I was going to suggest Googling "grammar" or "spelling", but I think the people making these mistakes have no idea they're making them.

Frankly, my comma usage tends to be haphazard at best. Please accept my apologies.

Recently I've discovered a couple of other journal types that drive me away faster than a '69 Chevelle with a Corvette engine.

[These are all real life metaphors for anybody who thinks I'm just pulling them out of the air. Driving from Chicago to Notre Dame football games used to only take an hour and fifteen in that car.With Eric Clapton's "Badge" playing full tilt on the 8-track. Your average Riviera needed at least an hour forty-five, sometimes two.]

Some of you may recall that I'm not partial to elves and faeries journals. A while back, I tried to make amends by posting a couple of faeries on my own journal in an attempt to assuage any feelings I might have hurt by revealing my lack of enthusiasm. I'm sure none of the elf and faery people were impressed.

Lately I've discovered that I can't wait to get away from journals that preach about "The Lord." This is not to be confused with discussions about God and faith. Or spirituality.

There was a wonderful journal I found unexpectedly fascinating, until one day I went to visit and there was a whole entry on Jesus is my Saviour.  Jesus can be your Saviour, but witnessing for Christ in your journal is a sure way to put you on my DO NOT RETURN FOR A LONG TIME list.

Here's the point of all this -- not that we all have preferences, because that's a given. Or that my preferences are better than yours, because they aren't. But recently I followed one of the links from Patrick's Place or John Scalzi's and I found a journal that bothered me profoundly.

The first entry I read made it seem like the writer had found the love of her life. They sounded like they had been high school sweethearts who went their separate ways and found each other again. They had a baby together and were getting married shortly. How nice, I thought. 

[However, the mother in me said since you don't have a job/career that allows you to fend for yourself financially, you might not want to do things in that order.]

Then I began to read her earlier entries. And the farther back I went, the worse this guy behaved. He was clearly emotionally abusive to this woman and neglectful of their infant child. He was very critical and verbally abrasive, constantly chipping away at her self-esteem. He often made her cry with his insults and chose to spend hours on the computer over spending time with his young child.  

She wrote how his meddling mother [a certified broom-riding witch] was also creating terrible tension between them, criticizing the young woman for all kinds of perceived transgressions, usually about the quality of her housekeeping. [Which is none of the old crone's beeswax.] And the young woman was just plugging along everyday thinking things would be better.

I started to write a comment after one of her difficult entries.  I think she wasn't speaking to him because he had been a total jerk.  No argument from me.  But everybody was giving her a hang in there, buck up message.  And I wanted to tell her to get out and get as far away from him as she could.  Because this schmoe and his mother were only going to make her life worse.

I was having a deja vu experience. After five years as a certified battered women's phone counselor, I quit.  I got tired of the women who had to be pounded into dust [emotionally and/or physically] before they finally said, "Gee, maybe he isn't a nice guy after all. Maybe this isn't good for my children." 

When a woman called the hotline I could always -- not sometimes -- always describe her relationship with her partner without her saying anything except "I think my boyfriend [husband, whatever] is abusive." 

You feel like you're walking on eggs everyday.  He isolates you from your family.  He belittles you in front of other people. He says you couldn't survive without him. He won't let you have a job. He is jealous and possessive. And you're the one who's making him say/do all these mean things. Everything is your fault, not his.

I could go on and on.  The pattern is there. It never changes except to get worse. Unless he gets counseling.  And that often doesn't go very well, since these guys usually don't think they're doing anything wrong. Mostly they just don't get it.

Actually, I think these guys go into an emotional brown out.  Their abusive behavior feels like it's at the end of a long tunnel and they're watching it from far away. So it seems removed, distant, from their actual ferocious, frightening, up close and personally horrid behavior.

Ultimately, I didn't write a comment. I couldn't.  It was one of those things where I was at a total loss over what to say. She didn't ask my opinion.  So it wouldn't be appropriate. And I sure wasn't going to sanction what was happening.

But I know there is danger for her and her child down the road. And a life of emotional misery if she marries the guy. Especially with his mom in the background whispering her evil thoughts into his ear.

I have had several friends in abusive relationships. College educated.  Upper middle class. Smart, highly paid professional women. But, as everybody knows by now, there are no cultural or gender bounds for abuse. 

Two of my friends used to arrive at my house at midnight with their kids in tow. They'd always go back.  Another one listened to me, got divorced and remarried a wonderful man. One of the midnight callers has developed a fortunate relationship where her husband is gone all week to another state for his highpaying job and she only has to see him on weekends.  They've been doing it this way for ten years. And it seems to work.

Another friend used to call me with tales of physical abuse, only to call back and say he'd changed, only to call back with more tales of woe.  Until I told her she was as nuts as he was if she didn't get out of the relationship. We didn't talk for a year.  The next time she called she had left him.

I can't be so blunt with people I don't know. I guess I could go back and leave a bunch of hotline numbers for her to call if things get really bad, but I think I'll just check in from time to time.  

You know something?  It's going to be a long time.

 

Mrs. L

 

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11 comments:

greyhoundloner03 said...

Yeah, I know. I was going to comment on the grammar, but the latter part of your entry has left me fresh out of witticisms. I was one of those middle class chickies who never saw it coming until the fist exploded into the side of my head. (He was 6'7", 200. I'm 5'7" 135. Go figure. There was immediate police involvement, arrest, blah, blah, blah. Parents (his) swooping in from their 1/2 mill. house on the other side of town to smooth things over for him, just like I found out they always had. I wonder what they will say to the poor woman's parent's whom he finally kills? It was a year from start to finish, and I barely survived it. Fucker. He terrorized me constantly...that was the worst part. I felt like I was the woman in one of those dramatic thrillers I used to enjoy so much, stalked by her ex like a lunatic thief in the night. There were times when I contemplated suicide, because I tyhought it just wans't ever going to end. All the while, I was actively trying to get him gone for good. Amazing that the system isn't set up for them women who WANT out, just the women who are evidently too stupid  to go. I can say that because I was there, and I know how they can twist your brains around until they are mush, and you don't know what the hell you want. I do the same, Mrs. L...I leave enough of a comment to let the person I suspect is in trouble know that I know what the deal is, but that's it. It's too exhausting. I pray for the women who are still there every night, that they have the strength to say: "What the hell was that?...DEFINITELY NOT OK, I'm outa' here!!!"
It's just exhausting. I'm still paying for it, in some ways. One man hit me, and it will never ever happen again. And like you, Mrs L, I can hear it, and see it all over the place...it's just exhausting, but it's something that needs to be discussed until the hateful face of abuse is gone from this earth. Women have come a long way, but we've a long way to go yet...

jevanslink said...

Thanks for a great comment.  You've added so much to what I said.  Mrs. L

cyberdancer1008 said...

I love this journal.  
Just thought I'd say that.

You are in the vicinity of campMumsy, you know, and those gathering are starting to multiply... well, not in the sense of reproducing, but indeed, mathematically increasing... the invite is here:
http://journals.aol.com/merelyP/ArgumentAgainstGrowingUp/entries/570

Love to have you...
~~mumsy

pattboy92 said...

Mrs. L,

Thanks for the kind words and I agree with you on the grammar issues.  I can let a lot of things slip without them getting to me once I've gotten to know the journal writer, but my first visit to a journal replete with errors is enough to get my blood pressure on the rise...I'm also sorry to see the alarming rise in apostrophe accidents.

A friend of mine had once been in an abusive relationship and she was having a very hard time accepting that a new beau wasn't going to treat her as badly.  She also had a hard time allowing herself to accept his love.  It's amazing to me how systematic the destruction of a victim's self-esteem can be...to a point where they are really only COMFORTABLE when they are BEING victimized, because they become so used to dealing with the abuse and depression that it becomes familiar territory.  When they escape the situation and find someone new and start to feel genuine happiness, they flee as if they've done something wrong!  I hope anyone who is in such a situation takes your words to heart!

Patrick

jevanslink said...

Patrick, you're so right about the problems women have with men who aren't abusive. They need a lot of help getting back on track themselves. What's so interesting is that all of us know someone who is or has been in an abusive relationship. Thanks for your story. And all the other great stuff you do.  Mrs. L

cneinhorn said...

I've found alot of great journals by checking out the links at Patrick's Place or Scalzi's blog....I just hope you weren't talking about my journal ;-)  

~JerseyGirl
http://journals.aol.com/cneinhorn/WonderGirl

lwhitewave said...

Hi Mrs. L!
I started reading this with an eye for your usual witty remarks, funny stuff but true!  Then I got to the bottom part and my heart sank.  I'm reading a similar journal...someone who was in an abusive relationship...now thinks she's in a better relationship...but from my pov, it isn't...the abuse is different, but still there.  It's heartbreaking, and all I can do is watch and wait for the inevitable.  I'm not close enough to "be there to help pick up the pieces", but it's a sad thing to watch.
~Turtle

xzasporated1 said...

I, too, get a bit bristly when reading a journal (or e-mail or anything, for that matter) which is replete with careless errors.  We're all rushing, but there's nothing wrong with taking a little time to make the reading easier on those who choose to do so, because it takes time to decide "does she mean "loose" or does he really mean "lose?"  Once I decide, then I have to go back and reread the entire sentence again, and I just don't have the time or energy for that much work.  And don't get me started on apostrophes.  LOL  There's nothing criminal about a misspelling, a typo or a few, sparse boo-boos, because none of us is perfect.  I'm talking about systematic errors.  My biggest downfall is chronic editing.  I will dissect a sentence until it feels right, and then, inevitably, I will forget to change the verb to match the noun or change the spelling of the adjective that used to be a verb.  Oy.  

But sometimes it can make me laugh.  I laughed recently when someone complained in his/her journal about another journals "bad grammer."  That was a crack-up!

I know you didn't ask.  LOL  But I just felt like sharing.  And thanks for your visit to my journal.  I always enjoy my visits to yours and welcome back from vacation!

~~ jennifer

chellebelle1977 said...

Hi Ms. L.........
I came across your journal because it was linked from Jesse's journal!!
You are welcome to read my journal at anytime but I must worn you that I dont spell check or use grammer check <hehe>
I disagree with you though on avoiding someones journal just because they use went instead of gone.  While writing in my journal I write what I am feeling and if I am feeling like saying that I went some where than that is what I will write...
Just because someone doesnt use perfect grammer it doesnt mean that they might have something important to say or write about:) But I do understand what you are saying about it driving you crazy.  I find myself sometimes using my mental red pen to correct some of the stuff that is written in some peoples journal's.
Everyone has their own opnion reguarding other peoples journals and I feel like if you leave a comment then  you are voicing your opnion!!! And people have to respect that.......If they dont like what you say then there is a delete button!!!!! Who knows you may have been the lifesaving comment in that abusive relationship :)
I respect eveyones opnion when they are commenting in my journal and I love your style :)
So come on by my journal and let me know what is wrong and how I can change it :)
Love your journal hope that you dont mine me snooping around and leaving my opnion here and there :)
Chelle
http://journals.aol.com/chellebelle1977/chellesjournal

pattboy92 said...

Mrs. L,

I thought you'd enjoy a grammar entry I did on my writing-related journal, "Patrick's 'What If...' Journal," here:

http://journals.aol.com/pattboy92/PatricksWhatIf/entries/160

I call this entry "Apostrophe Apocalypse," and wrote it one day after being fed up with the number of apostrophe errors I had encountered in a single blogjog!

Enjoy!
Patrick

mavarin said...

I was going to come up with something amusing to say about grammar or punctuation or both, but then your description of Ms. Bad Relationship Choices stopped me in my tracks.  This woman's situation sounds a lot like my friend S's former relationship with her ex.  When he finally kicked her out, I sat up all night in an ER with her on suicide watch. (This prince of a man had her served with divorce papers in a psych ward, and lied to the divorce court about her means and prospects while she was staying at a shelter.)  She's much better now, but it's been a rough couple of years. - Karen