The Lizard Chronicles

Some of this is true. Some of this is better. –Too Much Joy

Free for the Summer June 10, 2015

Filed under: Clothing,Rants — lizardesque @ 12:07 pm
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July 15

Twirling in my favorite skirt

Summer weather is finally upon us, and with it comes many things to love: sunshine, long days, fresh berries, big floppy sun hats, festivals, al fresco dining, sprinklers, corn on the cob, and fireflies. Need I say more? Perhaps not, but I will, otherwise this would be a really short blog post. There’s another less-oft-mentioned reason I am a lover of summer: pantslessness. At long last, the weather is warm enough to free my lower limbs from the garments that have imprisoned them for months. I can go barelegged, free from confinement, and leave behind the tyranny of pants!

 

For me, pants are a necessary evil. They have their place, of course. They offer warmth and protection in ways skirts cannot. Getting through a Chicago winters without pants would be tough. Also, I don’t have to worry about pants possibly blowing up into my face on blustery days. Pants are also generally better suited for bike riding and yoga, but, in my mind, that’s where their advantages end. You see, I’ve long suspected that the people who make pants hate me. I feel pretty certain that they have been conspiring against me for quite some time, such that I look forward to shopping for pants as much as I look forward to visiting the dentist. At least dentists have some good pharmaceuticals at their disposal. Meanwhile, I have considered self-medicating with wine while shopping for pants since it usually brings me nothing but piles of discarded trousers that are too big in the waist, too long or too short in the rise, too tight in the thighs, and always much, much too long. Yes, I realize they can be shortened. Great, so now I also need to pay a tailor to alter these already overpriced garments lest I trip over them. Hem them myself, you say? Sure, I’ll add that to my pile of projects I’ll get around to some day. Adding insult to injury, even when pants are the proper length for me, they just make me feel kind of stumpy.

 

Sometimes I feel bad. After all, it wasn’t always socially acceptable for women to don pants. Shouldn’t I be dancing with joy in my slacks as I celebrate feminist progress? Turning cartwheels in my chinos while singing, “I am woman, hear me roar”? Then again, perhaps I should just be comfortable knowing that I can wear pants if I want to. I don’t have to wear them. So, while the weather is warm, I won’t. I will put on a dress and twirl as I enjoy freedom of choice along with the many other delights of summer.

 

Winter Haiku January 5, 2014

Filed under: Poetry,Rants — lizardesque @ 11:43 am
Tags: ,
winter

No al fresco dining in my immediate future

I, blissfully spoiled

By two years of mild winters,

Think this one just sucks

 

The Great Corrector June 14, 2013

Filed under: Life tales,Rants,Writing — lizardesque @ 5:34 pm
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Hark! Somewhere, grammar needs correcting!

Hark! Somewhere, grammar needs correcting!

My name is Liz, and I’m a recreational copy editor. Well, it’s not entirely recreational. I am actually paid to use my knowledge of spelling, punctuation, and grammar, but after hours, the proofreader in me is never off duty as I navigate a sea of improper usage, mentally (and sometimes physically) correcting assaults on grammar, spelling, and punctuation from all sides.

On a typical day, as I wrap up my morning walk, I might pass the corner store that proudly offers food and liquor for my convenience. I have never patronized this establishment, as I am leery of merchandise that necessitates the use of quotation marks around food and liquor. Likely, the quotes are part of a misguided attempt at emphasizing the store’s offerings (never mind that stocking both food and liquor hardly make this shop unique in the realm of convenience stores), rather than a diabolical ploy to circumvent USDA regulations, but you never can be too careful. Anyhow, since I routinely carry neither a ladder nor an array of paint colors for correcting signs, I continue on my way.

Later, as I settle in at my desk and check my e-mail, I sigh, not only because of the absurd amount of spam in my inbox, but also because at least seven messages proclaim that I can loose weight now! with the revolutionary, miracle celebrity cookie diet. I could simply delete the e-mails and instruct my spam filter to recognize such correspondence as junk. After all, to expect perfect spelling from spammers would be to set myself up for profound disappointment. Still, I fight the urge to reply with the suggestion that the company probably would be taken more seriously if its advertisements were not riddled with errors. My fight proves successful for a number of reasons: 1) I know the aforementioned reply would never be read; 2) if, by some strange turn of events, the reply is actually read, the reader would probably forward it to 100 or so friends with the subject line Does this chick need to get a life or what?; 3) although I think everyone should know better than to refer to spam for dietary guidance, I don’t actually want to help a company that clutters up my inbox and preys on people’s insecurities to make a buck; and 4) even I have better things to do than copyedit junk e-mail.

Meanwhile, a radio commercial advises me of the newest drug that I should discuss with my doctor if I happen to be one of millions plagued by seasonal-affective-attention-toenail-fungus-hyperactivity-personality-reflux disorder (or whatever) and declares that side effects are low. Um…what? Does this mean side effects will only affect the lower parts of one’s body? I would think any recipient of this medication already has enough problems down there, what with the toenail fungus. Perhaps this a clever way of stating that the drug’s side effects are really bad (as in, “Aw, man, that was low!”). Of course, I know that the intended meaning is that the risk of side effects is low, and I grit my teeth when I think that someone was actually paid to write the copy for that ad.

In one of my non-junk e-mails, a friend says lets definately get together next weekend, and, although it pains me, I don’t correct her for fear of becoming that friend. Besides, I realize everyone slips up now and then. I will never claim to have perfect grammar and spelling. I went most of my life before finally learning how to keep continuous and continual straight, and have a serious mental block about remembering whether I want to lay down or lie down on the couch for a nap. As I type this, Microsoft Word, with its squiggly green underline, implies that lay down is incorrect, but word processing programs cannot always be trusted, as anyone who has ever typed the sentence, “All ways remember too reed you’re work two Czech four miss takes,” can tell you. Oh, that’s just me? Okay then.

I turn my attention to work and use my considerable command of English to earn money that I can spend on overpriced coffee drinks. After a few laborious hours, I decide it is time for a latte run. As I stand in line at the coffee shop, I see the sign: Muffins: buy one get one free! Muffin’s? Muffin’s what? Actually, I know that there is nothing missing and a superfluous apostrophe is the culprit here, but I amuse myself with wondering what a muffin might have in its possession that is available for purchase today at half price. I’d never thought of muffins as having possessions. I suppose certain qualities that are associated with muffins (for example, deliciousness, sweetness, caloric density, blueberryosity [this falls under “artistic license”]) could be implied by the use of the possessive muffin’s, but I sincerely doubt that was the intent of the sign. I sidle up to the white board, quickly look over my shoulder to check that no one is looking, and, with a flick of my hand, remove the offending apostrophe. I wipe the marker dust on my jeans and casually step away from the sign, smiling because there is one fewer (please note, not one less!) error in the world. I may not be able to leap skyscrapers in a single bound or rescue children from burning buildings, but I like to think that, in some small way, I am making the world a better place.

 

The Offenders May 22, 2013

Filed under: Psychology,Rants,Writing — lizardesque @ 7:42 am
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Far from home

Far from home

People who do not return their shopping carts to corrals in store parking lots encapsulate everything that is wrong with the world. I’ve been silent long enough and feel I must speak out against those who leave their shopping cart beside their cars instead of taking them to the designated collection areas—selfish, lazy, and borderline sociopaths! Some might think I’m being harsh and that it’s not that big of a deal. After all, it’s unlikely that anyone has ever died or been seriously injured by a wayward cart. So, yes, there are worse offenses of selfish carelessness, but by refusing to return a cart to the corral, the Offenders allow us a glimpse into their rotten core. They are telling everyone that they cannot be bothered to abide by the rules of being a decent person.

The unreturned cart could dent someone’s car. It could inconvenience someone by blocking a parking space, causing her to have to look for another space or get out of her car (before parking, probably inconveniencing other would-be parkers in the process) and move the cart that was the Offender’s responsibility in the first place. Maybe that’s not the end of the world, but it could all be avoided if people would take 30 seconds to do their end-of-shopping duty.

I’ve heard all the excuses. Some of them aren’t even excuses. “I’ll admit it. I’m lazy,” a person whose name I will not divulge once said to me with a shrug and a please-don’t-hate-me look. No. I’m lazy. I know lazy. I can be so lazy that I groan and ignore dryer lint that falls inches short of the trash bin when I attempt to toss it in. This inconveniences no one. I’ll get to it later. The Offenders and their cart-abandoning habits are not simply lazy. They are rude, thoughtless, and reprehensible.

“Oh, but it was raining/snowing/windy/hot,” Offenders have whined throughout the ages. Guess what—people have brought carts to corrals under many sorts of inclement weather conditions and lived to tell about it. What’s more, the weather probably will still suck when someone else has to take care of the Offenders’ carts.

“Oh, but I had my kids with me and…” The Offender then goes on to describe how returning a shopping cart to the corral is an absolute physical impossibility when one is accompanied by children. Here, the Offender is not only lying but is also using his or her children as an excuse for being a despicable human being. After all, the Offender managed to get the kids into the car, take them to the store, and complete his or her shopping with the kids in tow. It is absolutely possible to return a cart to the corral without putting one’s children in mortal danger. I promise.

I call upon you, dear readers, to help me in my quest expose the Offenders! Do not put up with their excuses! Shine a light on their sociopathic tendencies! Shame them into good behavior!

And keep returning your carts, for the sake of all that is good in the world!

 

Just Be Happy! April 8, 2013

Filed under: Psychology,Rants,Writing — lizardesque @ 9:42 pm
Tags: , ,

“Maybe it’s time for you to consider treatment with an antidepressant.”

The words weren’t exactly a surprise to me, but they still made me cringe. Antidepressants were for two kinds of people: the lazy ones who took the easy road of popping a happy pill and ignoring whatever was wrong in their lives and the weak people who just couldn’t handle life. Either way, taking these pills represented some kind of character flaw, a moral failing even. I should be stronger. I should be able to cope. I shouldn’t curl up into a ball and cry when I get stressed about work or when I can’t find my other sock. If I needed antidepressants just to feel normal, I must be bad.

Weak.

Broken.

Useless.

Bullshit.

Too many people view the body and mind as two distinct entities, when they really aren’t. They’re irrevocably linked, if not one and the same. My brain is part of my body, after all. My brain does not make enough serotonin, and that makes me, at times, physically incapable of being happy. But there’s a treatment, and once I stopped listening to all the bullshit and took antidepressants, I felt like the person I had actually been all along finally got to come out.

Still, some might say I shouldn’t need these pills, that they are a crutch in the worst sense of the word. “Happiness is a choice,” the saying goes. I should just make myself be happy out of sheer will. Just be stronger. Just be more positive. Just be happy!

Just start making insulin.

Just stop releasing so much histamine when you encounter pollen.

Just build stronger tooth enamel.

Just stop refluxing acid into your esophagus.

Just stop breaking down cartilage in your knees.

Just stop growing tumor cells.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Originally published in the Journal of Ordinary Thought, April 2013

 

Fighting the Good Fight…Well, Fighting Anyway September 19, 2012

Filed under: Rants,Writing — lizardesque @ 5:02 pm
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As a writer and editor, I tend to be a tad picky about words. I’m not even referring to grammar here. Yes, I cringe when people say, “I feel badly.” Unless you are trying to say that you are somewhat numb, in other words, you are bad at the act of feeling, you don’t feel badly. You feel bad. That’s a whole other story, though. I’m talking about the meanings of certain words in a larger sense. I am irritated beyond reason by the misuse of certain words, but I am able to let the erroneous use of other words roll of my back (or I can at least grit my teeth and muddle through). My own inconsistency on this matter even bothers me, but I suppose it’s a lot like having pet peeves of any other kind. Automated phone menus drive a lot of people cray, but unless I am in danger of getting stuck in a seemingly endless menu loop* (which has happened once or twice), I often prefer dealing with a machine, at least initially. On the other hand, I despise marketing and charity phone calls so much that, no only am I on the Do Not Call List, but I rarely answer my land line outside of my work hours anymore. Most nonwork calls go to my cell phone anyway. If I happen to miss an important call, I trust that the caller will leave a message. Barring any strange technological glitches, I will get the message and return the call if necessary. I’m starting to sound like I don’t like talking to people, which isn’t true. I’m just selective about who I want to speak to and when.

But I digress. This post is about misuse of words. Really, it is!

I have all but given up the fight on random. In fact, I find myself saying things like, “I ate such random things for lunch today,” when I mean that I ate a hodgepodge of things that one might not expect to find on the same plate. If I truly picked things to eat at random, I would likely be very ill or dead. However, the use of random in this manner has become so common that I have stopped actively fighting it. I die inside a little bit when I catch myself slipping on this, but that doesn’t mean I don’t go around randomly using random. There are words I am still fighting for, though…for now.

Isn’t it? Don’t you think?

  • Literally: A recent comic made me think for a second, that I should give up the fight for proper use of this word, but then I came to my senses. I will not literally fight to the death for proper use of literally, but I will fight!
  • Wherefore: This is not one I come across frequently, but nevertheless I am continually annoyed by the misinterpretation (not so much misuse) of this word, usually in reference to Romeo and Juliet. Just about everyone knows the balcony scene in the play in which Juliet says “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” This scene has been quoted by many and used in countless advertisements over the years. Most recently in a radio ad (for what, I cannot recall), a high school girl reads from Romeo and Juliet, “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” and then pauses her reading to interject, “He’s not in my high school!” Face, meet palm. Wherefore does not mean where. Wherefore means why. Juliet is not wondering where her beloved is, but rather wondering why, if she was going to fall in love, did it have to be Romeo (a Montague and sworn enemy of her family) she fell for. Why are you Romeo? Curses to all the literature teachers who taught this play and did not stress the proper interpretation of this particular line! And thanks to Mr. Chesney for not being one of those teachers!
  • 12 a.m. or 12 p.m.: No. No. No. It’s either 12 noon or 12 midnight, or it’s wrong (not to mention a recipe for confusion).
  • Ironic: Yes, I know I’m not alone on this. Dave Eggers, for one, has ranted about misuse of ironic. Ironic does not mean coincidental, merely out of the ordinary, or annoying. Rain on your wedding day is not ironic. Writing a song called “Ironic” in that contains no examples of irony, that‘s ironic.
  • Vagina: One might not think this word would come up too often in everyday life, but lately, I have noticed rampant misuse of vagina. Here’s one example in which an airline passenger complains of an inappropriate search by a TSA agent, saying, “I didn’t really expect her to touch my vagina through my pants.” I don’t mean to make light of this passenger’s feeling of being violated, but let’s please agree the TSA agent did NOT touch this woman’s vagina through her pants. A vagina is a muscular canal, not an external structure. If someone can touch your vagina through your pants, you might want to think about going shopping or visiting a tailor because your pants have some serious fit issues. More likely, you are using the term vagina incorrectly in a way that is analogous to saying that you put lipstick on your esophagus. I’m not sure whether people are unfamiliar with the term vulva or are simply uncomfortable saying it. I do understand a hesitancy to use some of the other, more colorful, terms for vulva, but there are ways to be correct without being vulgar. Lady bits will suffice in most situations.

* I originally wrote this as “an endless menu loop,” but I revised it because, since I am no longer stuck in the loop, it was not actually endless. I can be a bit strict with myself about such things…not that I don’t ever use metaphors or hyperbole. In fact, I use hyperbole a billion times a week.

 

Worst. Invention. Ever.* September 11, 2012

Filed under: Clothing,Life tales,Rants — lizardesque @ 12:55 pm
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They look cute, but in fact, they are PURE EVIL

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a lounge on a cruise ship, enjoying a cocktail, when I noticed a persistent squeaking sound that reminded me of the hot dog squeaky toy that my childhood dog used to chew on. I looked around, spotted a little girl of about 3, and figured she must have some toy that was the source of the sound. I tried to ignore it, but the noise persisted. Why people give children toys that make noise I will never know. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the little girl jumping up and down and noticed that the squeaking matched the timing of her leaps. At first, I thought she was just squeezing whatever noise-making toy she had in rhythm with her jumping, but I realized the situation was much worse.

The noise was coming from her shoes.

(dun dun DUN)

This toddler was wearing shoes with some sort of squeaking device embedded in them. Before long, she stopped jumping, but she still squeaked with every step. The only apparent way to stop it was to take her shoes away or pick her up (both of which are frowned upon if you are a stranger to said toddler).

For the love of all that is good, why would someone invent squeaking shoes for children???

Upon further investigation, I learned that these shoes do offer the option of removing the squeakers for “quieter times” (ie, to prevent parents and/or innocent bystanders from flying into homicidal rages). In looking at the Wee Squeak website, I learned that some parents seem to feel the need to outfit their children in squeaky shoes in order to keep track of them. Now, I’ve never been a fan of the kid leash, but please parents, if the choice comes down to leash or squeaky shoes, opt for the leash.

Squeaking shoes for children has officially unseated the Epilady in my personal list of worst inventions ever.

* Disclaimer: Please note that I am prone to using hyperbole. I’m not suggesting that this invention is actually worse than things like the nuclear bomb, Agent Orange, or Microsoft Power Point. Just go with me here.