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.