Wednesday, September 28, 2011

You and Me, Baby

Ever since our collective second-grade teachers told us, "Don't say 'you and me' here; say 'you and I,'" well, there have been problems. Some of us got the message and use the subjective case ("I")  and the objective case ("me") where appropriate. Some of us overcompensated and now always choose "you and I," even when it is the object of a verb, causing us grammarians to cringe but appreciate the good intentions behind the error. Some of us didn't pay no attention, flunked out of high school, and continue to cause us grammarians acute agony by always using "you and me" regardless of whether it's the subject or object.

I could turn this post into a usage lesson, but I think it would be much more interesting to combine two of my favorite subjects and discuss how the "You and I" grammar phenomenon manifests itself in popular music!

It all began back in high school, when I was on my oldies kick and heard on a regular basis the Doors, singing their 1968 hit, "Touch me," complete with a "You and I" used as an object! After years of mental suffering every time I heard these miscased [neologism by Valerie!] lyrics, I started amassing a collection of their containing songs to post on my blog. Here's the song that started it all off:
I'm gonna love you [we won't talk about the use of "gonna" right at this moment"]
'Til the heavens stop the rain [we also won't talk about how it's usually not raining]
I'm gonna love you!
'Til the stars fall from the sky...
For you and I! (Doot doot dooo doo, doot doot doo doo...)
You might argue that poetic license allows one to stretch the rules a bit in order to get a good rhyme, but seriously, you're telling me nothing rhymes with stars, or sky, or me, that would allow the lyricist to rearrange the sentences a bit?

Apparently it's not just love songs that fall prey to the erroneous "You and I." Maroon 5's "Makes Me Wonder" and Groove Coverage's "7 Years and 50 Days" both suffer from it while telling their tales of tragic breakups. Oh yeah, and make-up songs, too. "Life is a highway" starts one verse by saying, "There was a distance between you and I," but implies it's not there any more.

These errors can be excused as a confusion resulting from the pronoun being separated from the preposition by "you," which never changes, but not so in "I Wonder as I Wander," which brazenly boasts the phrase, "like you and like I," and surely takes poetic license to all new heights in the process.

Sometimes all I know of a song is the part of it that butchers my language. When I heard Linkin Park's "The Catalyst," I found it wholly ignorable in every way, but my ears perked right up when I heard the lyric, "Far from the world of you and I." I then tuned out again, but noted it down as another case of terrible grammar.

So far all the songs I've listed have erred on the slightly forgivable side of overcompensation, but Lady Gaga, renegade that she is, of course takes the low road, singing, "You and me could write a bad romance."

There are a few songs that use "You and I" without using it wrong. Unfortunately, they are far between, and I don't notice them at all unless there's something else weird about them.

Take 21 Guns, by Green Day. At the end of a verse, this song blasts out with "Throw up your arms into the sky! You and I!" Great. This use of "You and I" gives me nothing to complain about—except that it's a sentence fragment! With no relevance to the rest of the song whatsoever. Read the lyrics. Tell me if you can figure out why a "You and I" was stuck in there, other than to rhyme with "sky."

And one more for the road. "You and I travel to the beat of a different drum," sings Linda Ronstadt, and I think, "Wow, someone finally got it right!" Until I listen to the rest of the song and realize that she got the rest of the sentence wrong! For years, I thought she was trying to say, "You and I are weirdos, but at least we're weirdos together!" But no, it turns out that she's trying to say that you and I are two very different people and we should go our separate ways. Hey Linda, why don't you try "You and I travel to the beats of different drums," if you want to indicate we're not traveling to the beat of the same drum. It won't even mess up your rhyme too much!

Sheesh. At least she's right when she claims, "I see no sense," and definitely right when she says, "Goodbye!"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sad Valerie Delivers the News

I had a life changing experience last week. As you well know, I've been unhappy with my lot in life. I've been devoting a good portion of my already-precious time to revising my resume and applying to jobs.

On Tuesday the 13th, I actually received a reply. Not just any reply (such as the email which read something like, "We found you qualified for the position but not among the most highly qualified candidates"). No, this reply said, "Your resume looks great." Following this amazing email, I had a phone interview in which I learned that I was the top candidate for the job, which I daresay was the job of my dreams: 10+ hours per week, mostly from home with a weekly meeting in Georgetown (a neighborhood of DC a little under an hour from my house), doing website management. On Sunday, however, I learned there was another candidate with "much experience in publishing" and who "is local" so could come into the office more days a week. On Tuesday, I received my formal rejection.

Devastation followed. Every time I thought about it, I burst into tears. You never know how much you hate your circumstances until you think you've found a way out of them. I was so close to being free from my draining schedule! So close to escaping from the manual labor that's bringing my future of arthritis and varicose veins closer every day. So close to having the time to actually build my freelance business rather than being crushed by it!

And now, well, it's back to reality. Guess the experience wasn't all that life-changing. I'll be doing what I always do, just a little more sadly. Guess I'll console myself by buying a new pair of gel insoles.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Putting the "can" back in "incandescent"

I bet you've been worrying nonstop since I told you that Congress had effectively banned incandescent bulbs starting in 2012. I know I have.

I even went so far as to stockpile incandescent bulbs for later use. That is, I bought a 4-pack back in July, knowing that 4 light bulbs will probably last me 4+ long as I don't keep knocking my bedside lamp onto the floor as I've already done twice this year.

Well, it turns out all my fears were unfounded, since at least one company is now manufacturing a dimmer-friendly bulb that complies with the new regulations!

Phew. Huge sigh of relief.

Next on the agenda: find a job that doesn't require me to get out of bed before sunrise.

Huge sigh of premonitory defeat.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Eyes Don't Lie...They Just Tell Jokes

Sometimes, when I look at some text, I only see what I want to see. I'm sure Freud would find these ocular mondegreens a fascinating research opportunity, but I'll just use them for some good old Val's Galorious literary entertainment.

It all began when I moved to Maryland and first witnessed the state's special environmental preservation license plates.
I was transfixed by the pretty colors and the adorable bird. I was even more excited when I read the tagline: "Treasure the Cheesecake." Mmm.... Cheesecake. I could totally get down with that. Oh, it's the "Chesapeake?" Well, I guess that's worth treasuring, too. Enough that, despite their slightly less enticing beneficiary, I may still pay extra for these plates the next time I need new ones.

Ashley Bell. Who's she? I don't know, but at one point in my life, I read something about her in the news. I'm sure she'd be a lot cooler if she were actually Taco Bell, as I thought when I first glanced at her name.

It's football season again, and that means it's time for team names to appear in print all over the place. In Ohio, I see it's a pretty exciting time for "Browns Fans." But for the blissfully ignorant such as me, it's time to imagine all the hype is about brownies.

Judging from all my slips of the eyes so far, it's pretty clear that the one track my mind runs on is "food." But this next word association just might take away my appetite. The other day, my dad and stepmom attended some kind of Television broadcast. I'm not sure of all the details — this newfangled Television thing is too much for me to grasp — but while they were there, they saw the following sight:
What I saw was a little different, reading the slogan on the guy's shirt as "Toilet." Shows what I think of my hometown.

And lastly, an article to prove that federal prosecutors are really witches who turn people into amphibians. "Not guilty, but stuck with big gills" was the headline I read. Actually, the term was "big bills," and being prosecuted by the federal government can apparently do a lot worse than turn you into a frog. Don't read the article unless you want to get mad.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Roads Not Taken

If I haven't been blogging a lot in any given time period, it's usually for one of two reasons: I'm depressed, or I'm going through an existential crisis. This dry spell, as you can probably infer from my last post, it's the latter. It's not only my career woes that have got me all befuddled, but also a crippling indecisiveness about housing. So, double mental whammy means double unproductivity! Sorry.

In order to give you something to read,  I'm going to write about something that is a little lighter than my current ruminations, but nonetheless in the same vein--thus entertaining you and saving me from having to dig myself out of my cozy swamp of stagnation.

The topic is: all the jobs that I never made into a career.

A Veterinarian
Despite spending most of my childhood believing quite firmly that I would be a veterinarian when I grew up, a few experiences near the beginning of my college career convinced me that veterinary medicine was high in funny smells, tedium, and sadness, and low in...well, pretty much anything that I enjoyed other than cute animals! And spending my high school years in a house overflowing with cute, fleabitten, hygienically challenged animals had kind of cured me of any desire to spend any more time with them.

A Teacher
When I was young, with my experience of the world basically limited to school and home, I chose a future career that I could understand--teaching. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, this was my answer before I really knew what I wanted. I think. It's hard to remember that far back! Ironically, this neglected career choice once again rose to the top of my list when Veterinarian dropped off of it. Even more ironically, after spending 3 and a half years of college working towards a degree in education, I changed my mind again and wanted nothing to do with it! Talk about existential crises!

A Guinea Pig Breeder
For a brief spell, shortly after my guinea pig April was successfully impregnated by my friend's guinea pig Alvin and birthed three adorable baby rodents, I harbored fantasies of engineering artful guinea-pig matings for a living. I would produce all varieties, in all sorts of colors! I would provide you the guinea pig of your dreams! This fantasy lasted long enough to be the subject of an illustration I made in fifth grade, and then I returned to more realistic plans.

An Artist
Always in planning my future, realism reigned supreme. Although I was extraordinarily fond of drawing and writing (and reasonably skilled at both), I never once wished to be a professional artist or novelist. Although even today, I longingly think of how cool it would be to be an actress, I have to admit that I'm too homely to succeed in that field even if I did have the training (of course I have the talent--it's just latent!).

An Illustrator
An illustrator is the "realistic" version of an artist, and therefore worthy of my consideration. Shortly after my teaching plans went down in flames, I seriously looked into going back to school for a career in scientific illustration. Unfortunately, educational programs in this field were few and far between, and the prerequisites for most of them required at least some college classes in art--of which I had none. I settled instead for going back to school for graphic design. Of all the career choices that passed me by, this is probably the only one I regret not pursuing. But the thought that I probably would have failed consoles me some.

A Linguist
After I took my first Spanish class, I became enamored of the language, and languages in general! I thought about majoring in Spanish in college. I thought about pursuing some language-related career, such as a linguist, or a translator. But I didn't think about it very hard.

Over the years, I've toyed with the idea of other possible jobs—a technical writer in Wisconsin, an assistant to a lighthouse manufacturer in Ohio, a secretary, a college professor, a tutor, a restaurateur (of the ice-cream stand variety), a franchisee, a full-time eBay reseller, a get-rich-buying-just-the-right-stocks kind of investor, a crafter (maker of wreaths and other decorative sundries)—but out of all the options available, I still think I picked the right one.

I may only get to do my chosen work part-time, but that's better than no time. Despite what I said in my last post, I still wouldn't choose a full-time job at a grocery store if it presented itself. I am a writer, a designer, and a website manager! I am a Communications Specialist! And I am proud!