Category Archives: spazzing out

And now a break in our regularly-scheduled programming for a total geekout.

This is not a real post, mainly because it’s late, I spent most of the evening doing things that were not this, and I’d like to get some sleep tonight. And I KNOW, it’s supposed to be I-answer-all-your-questions-day, and trust me, that’s coming. Maybe tomorrow, or maybe Friday, because tonight I’m going to dinner with my theater ladies so we can have our monthly try-new-cuisines dinner. We’re trying Korean tonight. You know what Dad thinks about that, right?


Thanks, Dad.

I told him I was an emissary, like Dennis Rodman. He didn’t think that was funny at all.

Aw, BFFs!!!

Aw, BFFs!!!

So ANYWAY, we have some totally exciting geek-out news here at the Football. What could it BE, I wonder?

Some of you already know what it is because I emailed some people and I posted it on Facebook and also Twitter. I couldn’t help myself. I was so excited that I had to tell SOMEONE, dammit. Or a lot of someones.

OK, so, if you’re a blogger, you know about this (well, a WordPress blogger, anyway) but WordPress has this thing called Freshly Pressed. Freshly Pressed is where these people who work for WordPress read a bunch of posts, and choose ones that are their favorites and highlight them on the Freshly Pressed page. See, if you click there, you can see the ones they’ve chosen recently. Aren’t they pretty?

Here's the badge you get once you're Freshly Pressed. There are little hearts and EVERYTHING. Ooh! Ah!

Here’s the badge you get once you’re Freshly Pressed. There are little hearts and EVERYTHING. Ooh! Ah!

Being Freshly Pressed means that a lot of people see your blog. And read it. And comment on it. It also means your blog is probably not garbage, and someone at WordPress has actually read what you have to say, and approves. You probably will get more followers. It’s all very fancy. (Dad said, “What’s the prize?” and I told him “More recognition and followers?” and he harrumphed. Dad doesn’t get the blogging thing, yo.)

Now, how do you get Freshly Pressed? You write posts without too many cusses. You tag posts appropriately. You put in pretty photos. You don’t write insanely long posts. You don’t have typos all up in that bitch.

Well, I don’t cuss (much, ya bastards) and I use photos (some say TOO MANY photos) and you know I hate typos like some people hate spiders or maybe pine tar. OMG CAN YOU IMAGINE SPIDERS COVERED IN PINE TAR. Wouldn’t that just be the worst?!?!? Otherwise…um. Yeah. I don’t use tags. Because when I moved over here, I didn’t understand the tagging system, and then when I figured it out, it seemed like too much work to start it up, so I just put everything in categories, which was the lazy woman’s way out. Don’t ever let it be said I don’t like the lazy woman’s way out! And as for writing posts the length that someone might read…heh. Heh, heh. You’re all my loyal readers, you know my issues with editing. And yet you still love me! Aw, you GUYS!

So I thought, oh, well. No Freshly Pressed for me. That’s cool, I can live without that, I don’t care, I have the best followers ever, anyway.

Some of my favorite blogs have been Freshly Pressed. Some of my favorite PEOPLE have been Freshly Pressed. If you’re reading a WordPress blog and you see a little Freshly Pressed widget on the sidebar, like the one up there, you know they’re super-special and sparkly.

Well, last week I wrote the post about Steubenville. And I thought, this is something I’d like more people to read. This is something that could benefit from being Freshly Pressed. So I actually tagged it. And sj tweeted Freshly Pressed, and they responded that it was a powerful piece, but they’d already highlighted some Steubenville posts. So I figured that was a nice “too late, Charlie” and oh, well.

Then I got the itch to write the body-shaming post. Which was odd, following on the heels of the Steubenville post. Usually my rants are more spaced-out. But when an inspiration comes, I think you just go with it. So I wrote it. Oh, and I loved how it turned out. And if you know me at all, you know I don’t like ANYTHING. So for me to like how it turned out – that’s something.

So I tagged it and sent it out into the world. Fly free, little post.

It got read. And commented on. And shared. And I watched the stats rank up, and people mentioning that it should be Freshly Pressed, and I thought, nah. It won’t happen.

But shh, I wanted it to happen. Because I wanted more people to read it. Not ONLY because I wanted more people to read my blog (hell, can we all just be honest and admit we want that? Why else are we here?) but because – well, I assume most of you read that. Think of how that might have changed you, having read it as a kid. I sure as hell wish I’d read something like that as a kid. The thought that maybe, just maybe, someone might read that and share it with their kid…or react differently toward their child…or toward anyone’s body…well, that thought made me so, so…hopeful, I guess. Hopeful that maybe things could change, a little.

But nah. Me and Freshly Pressed? Nope.

I did a guest post at Black Box Warnings yesterday (which you all should read if you didn’t – I like how it turned out, and was so honored to be asked to be a guest, especially somewhere I admire this much) and the stats were racking up over there, as were the likes. I was having a good day. So many comments to reply to, both here and there. Lots to do. A blog to write when I got home.

Then I went to my salon to get my hair done (I needed a trim, I was getting frazzly) and got there much earlier than planned. So that meant extra time to play with the phone! Wrote some emails. Read some blog comments. Just about to go into the salon and BAM. Email with this subject heading:

Congrats, you’ve been Freshly Pressed!

Because I’m a weirdo, the first thing I thought was, “Which of my friends is screwing with me right now?” Then I thought, “Oh, maybe for the post at Black Box Warnings? That’s ok. That was a pretty good post. And the blog deserves it. Good.”


When I opened it up, it clearly was FROM WordPress. And stated that my post “You’re Gonna Carry That Weight; Carry That Weight a Long Time” had been chosen to be Freshly Pressed.


I cussed in that post!


I didn’t have any personal photos! I actually had less photos in that one than I normally use!


(Can we just revel for a minute that a post with a Beatles song lyric for a title got Freshly Pressed? I think my most beloved John Lennon, somewhere, wherever, is liking that very much. I know that I am.)

First I said (pardon my language please; in real life, sometimes I’m cussy) “No way. NO FUCKING WAY.” Then I reread it. Then I made a noise like a puppy if you accidentally step on its paw, which is kind of a yelp-whine. Then I started crying. Five minutes before my hair appointment, because THAT’S how you want to go into the salon.

I then forwarded the email to sj with the message “OH HOLY SHIT SJ WHAT THE HELL?” and to Eric with the message “I’m pretty sure you and Sara just got me Freshly Pressed” (they totally inspired me to write the post; I’m not even going to pretend that came out of the ether, they deserve the due credit for this one.) Then also I emailed more people because GEEKING OUT. Then I was late for my appointment so I had to run but she made me wait a half-hour so I emailed ALL THE PEOPLE with “I KNOW WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW” and “I’M PRETTY SURE THIS WAS SENT IN ERROR” and “I KNOW I AM CRYING IN THE SALON WAITING AREA.”

And now I am home and probably this would be a lot more effective were I to wait until it was actually UP on Freshly Pressed to geek out about it but here is my reasoning why I can’t do that:

  • if I had to hold off on this news, my head would explode.
  • I don’t know when it’s going up so how long would I have to wait, exactly? Good grief, this is like waiting for Christmas when you’re four years old. IT’S LIKE IT’S NEVER COMING. (Not a euphemism.)
  • Most of the people on Twitter and Facebook and here have read it already so it’s not like I’m ruining anything for new readers. (But if you want to read it again, go to, jellybeans. Plus read the comments. They are wonderful.)

So, once this happens, although Dad thinks there should be a monetary prize (sorry, Dad), I think this means there will be new readers. You GUYS! New READERS! We should be very nice to them and not scare them off, unless they are asshats, then we can totally scare them off, I don’t even care. Are we all so excited about the potential for our little tea social to become this gigantic rave? Wait, if it’s a rave, is it going to be like one of those foam parties I saw on 60 Minutes one time? Those look totally unsanitary and someone there is sure to get a yeast infection and my grandmother said “That looks like someone spilled the dish soap. AMY DO YOU THINK SOMEONE SPILLED THE DISH SOAP?” and I told her yeah, probably.

Don't do bad touch, you'll catch the herp.

Don’t do bad touch, you’ll catch the herp.

Also, that post? So many people will be reading that post. And maybe they’ll share it with other people. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll reach someone it’s supposed to reach. Like the equivalent of a young-me. Or a young-you. Someone who really needs it.

I can’t even pretend I’m too cool for school about this, you guys. It’s a total honor, and I’m so jazzed about it I keep bopping around the house like a Muppet.



No, seriously.

Holy hell.

The world’s gonna wake up and see Baltimore and me

Well, this is only March 10 and this has  already been a very exciting month, hasn’t it? Trips to New York to meet the most wonderful friend, and a new cat? Well! Let’s not let the excitement end, I mean, where’s the fun in THAT, I ask you?

Yes! It is true! We have one more exciting thing to discuss!

First, before we start, it’s a very important day. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO AMY’S DAD! He is grumbly about his birthday and I sent him a sappy card and he was all, “THAT CARD WAS SAPPY” and I said, “Oh, ok” and he said, “IT MADE ME HAVE SEASONAL ALLERGIES OF THE EYES” and I said, “Well, that’s ok then, I love you, you dork” and he said, “You’re not supposed to call your father a dork, RUDE” and so there you have it. Happy birthday, dork, you make me laugh. I love you.

So one of my oldest friends (in TIME, not in AGE, she’s not like 90, come on) is friend R. Friend R. and I met one of the first days of college. We were both seventeen. SEVENTEEN! Can you even imagine being that young and optimistic about life? My goodness, that seems like a million billion years ago. Back then, I used to wear skirts. On PURPOSE! And think I was going to conquer the WORLD! (Fine, I still sort of think I could do that, but I don’t wear skirts now unless I really, really have to.)

I wore a lot of these in college. I was trying to be a hippie, I guess.

I wore a lot of these in college. I was trying to be a hippie, I guess.

Friend R. and I worked in the college dining hall together. Listen, that was like being in military service together. You bonded over that job. Because it was NASTY. You can’t even imagine the disgusting shenanigans kids away from home for the first time got up to when eating food. Imagine pigs at a trough, only with opposable thumbs and minds set on mass destruction. Also, they were rude. And demanding. And snotty. And we had to wear shirts that never really got clean, no matter how much you washed them, so you always smelled like sweat and rotting food, so as you can imagine, you totally had a lot of hookups happening in that dining hall. (It sounds like I’m being sarcastic, but there actually WERE a lot of hookups happening. Ooh, the dining hall gossip and irresponsible late-night assignations!)

Friend R. and I bonded right away. She was fun and totally got my insane sense of humor and we used to make each other laugh and laugh so much that sometimes we had to duck into the kitchen so we didn’t get in trouble for laughing in front of the customers.

Friend R. and I went on to be roommates, both in college, then in grad school, and then went our separate ways, as people do. But we remained friends, and still talked and wrote and made each other laugh long-distance. And when, a few years ago, I went to visit her in the town where she grew up, and I got to meet her then-boyfriend A., I thought to myself, “yes, this is the guy for friend R. He makes her eyes light up.” And he did. (It didn’t hurt that one of the very first interactions I had with him was him doing a Muppet impression for me. He won me over right there. I do so love someone who’s not afraid to potentially make a fool out of themselves and still totally goes for it. That takes guts. I so admire that.)

Friend R. went on to MARRY A. and now they are R. and A.! They are a happy couple and could NOT be more adorable.

And THEN, late in 2011, friend R. called me. “I have news!” she said. I have known this woman since back in the DAY. I immediately knew what that news was. Without even a doubt. “YOU ARE PREGNANT!!!” I said gleefully. AND SHE WAS!

And last April, Baby CeeVee was born! And I know I am BIASED and I think the children of the people I love are the most beautiful, but she really is. This kid is all smiles. And the most beautiful eyes. And OBVIOUSLY brilliant, because I totally saw a video of her saying a WORD the other day so I’m pretty sure she’s going to grow up to run the planet or something.

Well, last year, R. and A. said, “When will you come and visit us?” and I had plans to visit them in September. Well, you all know what happened last September. UNEMPLOYMENT, is what. Unemployment doesn’t lead to visiting. Unemployment leads to working a billion hours at your part-time job and not having enough time to breathe and when you DO, the breathing is SCARY because you are having a PANIC ATTACK.

But! New job! Time off! Money to travel with!

Guess what?


(PS, when Baby CeeVee saw this photo she did happy flapping like a penguin; I think this is a good sign we will get along like PEAS and CARROTS, don’t you?)

I’m there from a Thursday to a Monday; I’m taking the train (it takes about 6 hours – well, 5, with an hour layover in New York City, which is unfortunately not long enough to have an adventure!) because the train ended up being about as much as I’d pay for gas, and plus I can kick back and read and not have to worry about driving through big cities or potentially breaking down somewhere or something worrisome like that; I got my time off approved at work (YAY MY WORK!) and it’s now less than two months away.

And guess where we’re going?


Where there are…










A large cat that might be a cheetah putting its HEAD in a BOX!

A large cat that might be a cheetah putting its HEAD in a BOX!

Oh, this is VERY exciting! R. and A. have a MEMBERSHIP to the zoo so we get to flounce in like FANCY people! I would assume that means we get to the gate and they say, “OMGGGG! It is R. and A. and Baby CeeVee and you have brought a FRIEND! Which animals would you like to pet today?” I mean, that’s what membership gets you, right? RIGHT?

(I’m going to choose to touch a penguin, of course. I’ve already touched a giraffe and that cheetah would eat my face off. Andreas told me that penguins are cool with humans so they would let me touch them.)

Also, listen, I have never been to Baltimore! Or even to Maryland! There are many things we could do!

We could see…




The National Aquarium! THE WHOLE NATION, you guys!

The National Aquarium! THE WHOLE NATION’S aquarium, you guys!


Oriole Park! If you build it, they will totally come.

Oriole Park! If you build it, they will totally come. (Not a euphemism.)


The Baltimore Museum of Art! It looks like a TEMPLE!

The Baltimore Museum of Art! It looks like a TEMPLE!


The Edgar Allen Poe House and Museum! Ooh, maybe I'll find the lost Lenore there!

The Edgar Allen Poe House and Museum! Ooh, maybe I’ll find the lost Lenore there!


The USS Torsk! Hee, Torsk. Also, this SHIP looks like a SHARK. We're gonna need a bigger boat.

The USS Torsk! Hee, Torsk. Also, this SHIP looks like a SHARK. We’re gonna need a bigger boat.


R. asked me what I wanted to do while I was there and I told her, “ZOO!” because you know me and zoos. And then I said, “Also I would like to eat some seafood. And maybe see the Poe House.” Then I thought and said, “Or, you know, if I ended up staying in the house the whole weekend and playing with baby CeeVee and seeing you guys, that would be ok, too.”

And it totally would. I’m fairly sure I could make an adventure out of a trip to the grocery store. It’s one of my more endearing qualities, truly. Unless you’re annoyed by such things.

Also, can I just say? I never in my life thought I’d get to travel. I feel like I’m living someone else’s life right now. Well, if I’ve tricked my way into someone else’s life, I’m going to make the most of it, dammit. TRAVEL TO ALL THE PLACES!!!

So, in less than two months? Totally going on an adventure. This time to a place I have never been to see someone who’s known me for longer than most people have. (And she and A. totally read. HI R. AND A.!!! Thank you for the invitation, I promise to behave and to try not to spill anything on your couch and/or tablecloth! And to be the best unofficial aunt to Baby CeeVee! AND BRING MANY PRESENTS!!!)

Are we ready for an adventure, loyal blog readers? What shenanigans will I get up to in a whole new STATE, I wonder?

YAY FOR ADVENTURES! This year is totally trying to suck, but I am kicking its ass. No year gets to misbehave on my watch, yo.

Newspapermen are such interesting people! They used to work like hell just for romance!

Today I woke up to MY FIRST BYLINE IN THE PAPER and I could not be more pleased. 2012 is the year of writing things with my name on them. I don’t know what’s more exciting, the book or the fact that I GOT A BYLINE IN THE PAPER. I know it’s only a theater review and I know it’s only 500 words and I DO NOT CARE. I feel like I got the front page of the New York Times. Listen, since I was a wee Amy, I wanted to write for the paper. So, a very long time, because I haven’t been a wee Amy in a VERY long time. But I always thought, that’s something that OTHER people do. Fancy fancy people. Not AMY people with unruly hair who are too loud and have trouble self-editing. But sometimes things happen that you don’t ever expect, even when you are at your lowest point, and then YOU HAVE A BYLINE IN THE NEWSPAPER.

LOOK LOOK LOOK!!! I’m so having this framed. Perhaps with some glitter.

And in total made-me-glow news, the woman who passed the job along to me – the one person I wanted to like the review more than anyone, because I think she writes some of the fairest reviews in the area, and I admire her a great deal, just called me up to tell me how proud she was of me, and that she loved it, and it’s exactly how she would have done it. And I may or may not have gotten teary. I CAN NEITHER CONFIRM OR DENY THIS.

If you want to pay $2 (I thought it was $1 but I am a LIAR, it is TWO dollars!) and read the whole thing (I am SO SORRY I can’t post it here, but I want to review theater here for the rest of ever so don’t want to copyright-infringe on them or whatever it might be called, I don’t know) you can click here and pay the $2. NO, I don’t get the $2. The paper does. So I guess you’re pumping money into my local economy, and for this I thank you kindly.

So I’m taking tomorrow off to do the freelancey thing, and should be doing it RIGHT NOW, but instead I am blogging and preparing for Amazing-Race time which is really “Amy and sj watch The Amazing Race together on Twitter” and it’s one of my favorite hours of the whole week. Then it’s time for The Good Wife which is like having a deliciously wicked decadent dessert. THEN I will watch The Walking Dead because MY ZOMBIES ARE BACK. Sunday nights make me happier than happy. Shush, I know this is your Tuesday, in Amy-land it’s Sunday night right now. So…yeah, no writing’s getting done tonight. Tomorrow! ALL THE FREELANCING. I promise, freelance people!

This is MY favorite team. They are BOTH goat-farmers AND life-partners, so of course I love them TWICE as much for BOTH of these things. Also, they’re as cute as buttons.

Oh oh OH, guess WHAT, so today at work, you know how we answer for that pest-control place? Some woman called in all “there is a dead HAWK in my YARD” so I got her info and she was going on and on and ON about “IT’S GONNA GIVE ME WEST NILE VIRUS” and then this box popped up that I had to refer her to some local conservation place, I don’t remember, so I did, and she was all “what? what’s that number?” and I don’t have the NUMBERS, just the name of the PLACE, so I told her it again, and she was SO PISSY and she’s all “what would YOU do” and I wanted to say, “I’d pick it up with salad tongs and put it in a garbage can and then bring it to my dumpster and then throw away the salad tongs, lady, sheesh, I take care of my OWN business” but I just repeated the thing about the conservation place and she was all “WELL!” (huff huff) “When the ENTIRE STATE OF TEXAS gets WEST NILE VIRUS from this hawk, THAT IS ON YOUR HEAD!”

This hawk can not BELIEVE I gave the whole state of Texas West Nile Virus. Utterly incredulous.

Holy shit, I just gave the whole state of Texas West Nile Virus. USING MY MIND! If I can do that, why the HELL am I still technically unemployed, barely affording my monthly bills, and not, oh, I don’t know, RUNNING THE WORLD BY NOW?

Also, sorry, people in Texas. I didn’t mean to give you the West Nile Virus. I have some people I really like in the Lone Star State. So I hope you’re all ok, and please don’t sue me using an ambulance-chasey lawyer. I really can’t afford like a medical malpractice lawsuit or something. Unless I pay for it using MY MIND POWERS. Or give everyone on the jury WEST NILE VIRUS. Using my BRAIN.

Oh, look, someone made a t-shirt so I can apologize to the whole state! That’s nice.

Oh, quick Dad-story. Then I have to go. Because it’s sj-time, and I can’t be BLOGGING during sj-time. That’s just rude and ill-advised.

Dad: I went to Sam’s Club today. Guess what happened. No. No, really. Guess.
Amy: You bought a huge bag of M&Ms. More M&Ms than anyone would ever ever need.
Dad: You can’t just guess things, you know. You’re probably never going to be right.
Amy: Fine. What happened, Dad?
Dad: I got to the counter with all the things and gave them my card and they said, “No. This card is not valid. IT IS EXPIRED.”
Amy: Was it?
Dad: Have I ever let anything expire in my LIFE?
Amy: No. No, that was a stupid question, wasn’t it.
Dad: So I said, no, I renewed that. But they were NOT having it. They said, “You can pay $45 to renew this now.” BUT I ALREADY PAID IT.

Dad doesn’t think it’s a big deal. Dad is SO MAD.

Amy: So what’d you do?
Dad: I said, “THIS IS A GOOD CARD.” So they got scared and said they’d let me have a one-day pass. I said, “I don’t want your stinkin’ one-day pass YOU CAN KEEP YOUR THINGS.” Then we LEFT.
(In the background, you could hear my mom saying “I really wanted some of those things” and sighing sadly.)
Amy: Well, that taught ’em!
Dad: When I got home, I looked it up. Sure enough! I paid that sucker in MARCH. So I called them and they said they were sorry, and the next time I come in, bring the letter that says I paid and they’d reinstate my card.
Amy: Oh. Well, that’s ok, then, I guess?
Dad: NO. It is NOT ok. I’m writing a strongly-worded letter to the COMPANY. And maybe the GOVERNOR. They called me a LIAR. And maybe a THIEF.


Amy: Well, I don’t think…
Amy: OK. Sorry you were called a liar and maybe a thief at the Sam’s Club. (There is now a loud banging.) What is that noise?
Dad: What noise. (BANG BANG BANG)
Amy: That banging. That very loud banging. What is that very loud banging?
Dad: I don’t hear any banging. (BANG BANG BANG)
Amy: Well, it’s not in MY house. (BANG BANG BANG)
Dad: Oh. I think it’s because I have you on speakerphone.
Amy: Why do you have me on speakerphone?
Dad: I don’t like to hold the phone. I have better things to do with my hands.
Amy: Like what? Building a temporary lean-to? WHAT IS THAT BANGING? (BANG BANG BANG)
Dad: Well, I have the phone on the nightstand. The nightstand that you eat your dinner from.

Here is a nightstand. A nightstand you eat dinner from. (BTW, he has a real nightstand, and I assure you he doesn’t eat dinner from it.)

Amy: The tv tray?
Dad: Yes. That one.
Amy: Why don’t you call it the tv tray?
Dad: I don’t know. I didn’t feel like it. And I was banging a pencil into the nightstand that you eat dinner from.
Amy: And is the phone right near where you were banging the pencil?
Dad: Yeah, right near that.
Amy: So…the “there’s no banging” was you banging a pencil on a tin tray RIGHT NEAR MY EAR?
Dad: I think that was the case. Yes. I think so.
Amy: You could have deafened me. I think I might be deafened.
Dad: Is this like the time I went a little bit off the road and you said “WE COULD HAVE DIED” for like a year?
Amy: Very like that. We could have, you know. Died. I still think of that day and thank my lucky stars I was snatched from the jaws of certain death.
Dad: You are crazier than three monkeys.
Amy: THREE? Whoa. That’s a lot of monkeys.
Dad: It’s certainly more than one or two.

I’m crazier than all three of these. But I’m not as crazy as four monkeys, so that’s saying something, I suppose.

OK, I have got to go. IT IS ALMOST AMAZING RACE TIME. I can’t let my sj down. (We’re both rooting for the same teams. Because they are the BEST teams.)


BTW: Dumbcat is singularly unimpressed and still wants to sleep on my lap like I’m not even a fancy fancy journalist now. THE VERY NERVE.

Protected: It’s a holiday! I hope you all took the day off and are celebrating appropriately! (School Version)

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It’s a holiday! I hope you all took the day off and are celebrating appropriately!

Well! Thanks to Jim, without whom this day would have gone COMPLETELY UNNOTICED, we are able to celebrate a VERY AUSPICIOUS DAY TODAY. This is why we HAVE a Minister of Fly-nance! To point out things like this that might have otherwise slipped by without even a mention! THANK YOU JIM!


A whole entire DAY dedicated to PUNCTUATION! Well, we here at Lucy’s Football are very pro-punctuation. We like it very much. We like ALL TYPES of punctuation here. What we do NOT like is when it is used incorrectly. So, in order to celebrate punctuation in all of its glory, we’re going to have a punctuation discussion today.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “I don’t NEED to learn about punctuation, Amy. I already KNOW how to use punctuation correctly. I am VERY GOOD AT IT.” Well, maybe you are. In which case, WE SALUTE YOU! But there are those among you who are NOT as good at punctuation. People who are confused about how best to use a semicolon; what exactly an ellipsis is; the difference between parentheses and brackets. Today, we are going to discuss ALL OF THESE THINGS. I know! It’s going to be awesome. It’s like a carnival! A CARNIVAL OF PUNCTUATION!

Also, I’m sincerely hoping that someday, some poor lost kid in school who’s all “I am CONFUSED about COMMAS” will find this post and it will help them and they’ll be all secure in their knowledge of punctuation and will do very will in their English class, and also someday when I read their inevitable blog I won’t want to claw my eyes out with salad tongs.

Let’s start with something simple: the period. There’s one at the end of this sentence. And this one. Not this one, though!

The period is used to end a sentence (unless that sentence is a question or a command or VERY EXCITED ZOMG!) and also used after initials (“There’s an airport in New York City named after J.F.K.”) and abbreviations (“I live on Smith Rd.”) (SIDE NOTE: that is a lie, I do not. Don’t come stalk me, you’ll just get lost.)

A little-known fact about periods! If you are writing a sentence within parentheses (for example, that last sentence in the paragraph above,) or a sentence within quotes, you put the period at the end of the sentence INSIDE OF THE CLOSING PARENTHESIS or INSIDE THE CLOSING QUOTATION MARKS. I cannot stress this enough. It makes me crazy when there’s a period all hanging out on its own outside of a parenthesis or quotation marks. If you need a reminder: a period is part of a sentence. You wouldn’t write this, would you? (Shh, don’t tell anyone my) secret. Or this? “One time, I totally wiped out on” the sidewalk. Because part of the SENTENCE is outside of the PARENTHESES/QUOTATIONS! So don’t leave the period out in the cold, ok? That makes the poor period sad, and makes it feel like it was picked last for gym class. Don’t do that to the period.

Now, let’s move on to something a little harder for people to wrap their minds around: the comma. DO NOT BE SCARED! Were you scared of the period? No you were not. The comma is just a period with a teeny tail! Like Dumbcat! And you’re not scared of Dumbcat, now are you? No you are NOT. You LOVE him. As you should.

Commas can be tricky. A quick rule of thumb: a comma is a pause. If you say your sentence aloud, and you’d pause at one point in the sentence, that’s where you’d put the comma. Or commas. That’s it, simplified. There are a lot of other rules. Here are a few:

  • use commas to separate elements in a series: “I bought red, blue, glitter, and black nailpolish.” (We’ll discuss the Oxford comma in a minute. Don’t think I’ve forgotten it. I am – SPOILER ALERT – extremely pro-Oxford comma.)
  • use a comma to connect two independent clauses (“I went to the store, but I forgot my wallet.”) You can leave this comma out – the sentence still works – but it’s prettier with the comma. And say it out loud – you pause between the “store” and the “but,” right? That’s your comma.
  • use a comma to set off things at the beginning of a sentence that make the sentence fancier, but you don’t really need them. (i.e. “However, he thought he should eat 14 more pounds of meatballs.”)
  • if something could be set apart by parentheses, but you for whatever reason decide you don’t want to use parentheses, you damn well better use commas. I totally did it in the sentence above. I sneaky-fucked you. See, here’s how I wanted to write that sentence: “if something could be set apart by parentheses (but you for whatever reason decide you don’t want to use parentheses) you damn well better use commas.” Neat, right?
  • use commas to set off quotes. “Ding Dong Joe will be released after 6-8 months; indecent exposure is no laughing matter,” said the police chief.
  • easy ones: between a city and a state (Hollywood, California) and a date and a year (November 11, 2011); to designate thousands in numbers (3,412,991.)

I know. It seems hard. It’s a little tough. Keep in mind, most people OVERuse commas, rather than UNDERuse them. They think they need them when they don’t.

OK, now let’s discuss this Oxford comma thing.

In the sentence “I bought chocolate, bread, peanut butter, and avocados at the store,” the comma after “butter” is called an Oxford (or serial) comma. A lot of people want it done away with. Because a lot of people have way too much free time.

If you do away with the serial comma, things like this happen:

See? It’s confusing. It makes it look like J.F.K. and Stalin ARE the strippers. Keep the Oxford comma. It’s not hurting anyone.

Here is a song I love called “Oxford Comma.” Even though it has the lyric “Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?” and *I* do, Vampire Weekend! I DO! Enjoy!

There can also be issues with using too many normal commas. Like this:


If you want more comma-knowledge, the internet can help you. Or The Elements of Style. I know, it looks all fusty and old-persony, but it’s really quite good and helpful.

Man, this is long and long. I really get jazzed about punctuation. It makes me happy. I know. Pretend it’s charming, or something, why don’t you?

OK, let’s move on to Amy’s favorite piece of punctuation: THE SEMICOLON.

I love it so much I have a semicolon typewriter-key necklace. I wear it when I want to feel like kicking ass.

If you look SUPER-CLOSE, I’m wearing it in my author photo on my book. I wanted it immortalized, I love it so.

The Oatmeal has a very helpful “how to use semicolons” link. It is better than anything I could ever write, ever. So, click on that, please. It uses the phrase SUPERCOMMA and that made me laugh so hard I almost peed a little.

A semicolon, in brief, joins two related shorter sentences into one sentence, and looks as cool as shit doing it. Here, you think I can’t give you an example? Don’t even challenge me, Charlie McDoubtface.

“I decided I didn’t give a shit about much of anything; that made it much easier to just go ahead and become a hobo who ate cat food.”

See, both parts of that sentence are sentences all on their own. But you can JOIN them with a SEMICOLON and they are a BETTER sentence.

You can also use them in a list: “I want to go to Finland to see Andreas; to Germany to see Ken; and to England to see Elaine.” SUPERCOMMA! It just sets them apart a little better than a comma would. It looks nicer.

Listen, if you can master the semicolon, your writing looks polished and you look like a superstar. I also cannot confirm or deny that there are some women out there that find it a total turn-on and, if wooed by a man with the proper use of a semicolon, might well take him home at the end of the night. CANNOT CONFIRM OR DENY. OK, fine. I’m just SAYING that if the right guy were to use a semicolon in a missive to me, I’d be pretty damn apt to wear my good panties on our next date, ok? PLUS AN ACTUAL HONEST-TO-GOODNESS MATCHING BRA. Just saying. For the record.

OK. Let’s talk brackets vs. parentheses.

Parenthesis set things apart. Side notes, like I use here. Asides in your sentences. Things like that. You can also use dashes or commas (as mentioned above) to set your text apart. Here’s a quick rule of thumb – all are right, but they read a little differently. Here, I’ll show you.

I went to the museum (the one over by the observatory) with Jenny last month.

I went to the museum, the one over by the observatory, with Jenny last month.

I went to the museum – the one over by the observatory – with Jenny last month.

See – same info, means the same thing. In this case, I’d go with parentheses or dashes. The commas look weird to me. Parentheses kind of de-emphasize the info; dashes seem to make it stand out a little; commas look like you’re not trying hard enough and can’t choose between parentheses and dashes. That’s Amy’s thought-process, anyway.

Brackets – which look like [this] – are used to clarify something in a quote, OR to show you’re smarter than the person you’re quoting. For example:

“I sure do like pork and beens [sic],” said the serial killer.

[sic] means there was a spelling error in the quote, – it’s short for the Latin, sic erat scriptum, “thus it was written,” and that you’re not to blame, and you KNOW they effed up. I own this t-shirt, because I am a grammar nerd:

Once I wore it, and someone said, “your shirt spells ‘sick’ wrong.” I’m not even kidding.

OK, possessives. Apostrophes. I know. They’re scary! SCARY LIKE A BOOGEYMAN. Here, The Oatmeal will save you. This is awesome and I kind of want the poster almost as much as I want the semicolon poster.

There are two things that make grammar nerds insane: improper possessives and improper quotation marks. Here’s the quick and dirty, jellybeans:

  • If it belongs to someone/something, you need an apostrophe. “That is Jason’s hat.” “Those are the cat’s toys.”
  • If the people/things it belongs to is plural, you do it thusly: “Those are the Johnson’s lawnmowers.” “Those are my cats’ litterboxes.” Also, to muddle you more, if the word ends with an s, you put the apostrophe at the END. Like with cats – it’s already a plural. You have multiple cats (you damn cat lady.) So to show that the cats own those litterboxes, to show their possession of them, you need that apostrophe. If you put it after the “t” in cat, you are saying you have one cat with a lot of litterboxes, and it looks like he has a pooing problem.
  • The word “it” confuses people. You either use its or it’s. It’s is used when it’s a contraction for IT IS. “It’s really quite simple.” Its is used to show possession: “I don’t understand its premise – so it’s a movie about the game Battleship? That seems ill-advised.”
  • You do not need to use an apostrophe all random-like. “I love the 90’s” is wrong. Because what belongs to the 90s? Nothing. It’s “I love the 90s.” Rule of thumb: ask yourself, does something belong to the word I’m randomly inserting (heh, inserting) an apostrophe in? If not, you probably are using it wrong.
  • SIDE NOTE: there’s a bar near me that has “half price martini’s” on their sign and every time I drive past it I yell, to the top of my lungs, “HALF PRICE MARTINI IS WHAT???” because in order for that apostrophe to need to be there, there’s a word missing at the end of that phrase. “half price martini’s awesome” would sound terrible but at least be technically grammatically correct.
  • Once you learn the ins and outs of apostrophes and possessives, you can go all around the town mocking signs that are doing them wrong. It makes you feel like a conquering grammatical hero.

    Keep dog’s WHAT out? Dog’s noses? Dog’s food? Dog’s houses? THERE IS A WORD MISSING HERE.

OK, now, quotes. You quote direct quotes from people, or if you’re saying something sarcastically, like “they” say I should probably get back out there and date again, but I think “they” should take a flying leap. Otherwise, you don’t need the quotes. There’s a whole website dedicated to unnecessary quotation marks. It is hilarious and the best. BFF pointed it out to me because he knows I love grammar errors. There’s a sign in the breakroom at work that’s all:

We are here to serve “our customers” and not “the callers” and “the callers” are not our “customers”…

And it’s a whole page long and it has random quotes all over it and the quotes are unneeded and it makes me laugh EVERY TIME I SEE IT. If you use quotes inappropriately, it looks like you’re being sarcastic about the things in quotes. Or that the thing in quotes isn’t true. And I don’t think that’s what you intended. Or, maybe it is? I DON’T KNOW YOUR LIFE.

Are they? Are they “live?” Because this makes me think you’re being sarcastic, and I don’t want your seafood.

OK, I promise we’re winding down. NO REALLY I PROMISE.

Dashes. We covered ’em a little above. They can set something apart – something like this – or they can be used singly. I suppose you want an example. FINE. An example of using a dash singly would be this – just one dash, no more, no less. Heh. Impressive, no?

If you use a dash, use just one, and put a space on either side of it. Because this-using them like this-looks stupid, and like “this-using” and “this-looks” are hyphenated words. And if you use two you look greedy — don’t use two! Now, I’m trying to show you how stupid that looks but WordPress is making my two dashes into one long dash to make it prettier for me. Thanks for NOTHING, WordPress. (The only time I use two dashes on purpose is if I’m signing a memo. You’re not going to be able to see this correctly, but pretend you do. –Amy.)

Hyphenated words are a little trickier. Some you just know – like teeter-totter, or back-to-back. People tend to leave hyphens out. I have a weird hyphen-sensor. I can tell when one is needed about 99% of the time. There are a lot of rules for hyphens, but they are as dull as dirt and I can’t find a way to make them fun, so here, if you care, you can click here and have this site tell you all about them. Mostly, here’s a quick trick – if you think a word MIGHT need a hyphen, Google it. See how it’s written on a majority of the search results. Does it have a hyphen? Go with the hyphen. No? Then leave it out. Listen, I didn’t say grammar was an exact science, and even those of us who are good at it have tricks and shortcuts.

An original piece of artwork via Jim! HYPHENS ARE IMPORTANT! (Thank you, Jim!)

Ellipses. WHAT IS THIS DARK SORCERY AMY?!?! An ellipsis is the three periods you put when you’re trailing off…or when you don’t know what to say next…or for comedic effect. DO NOT USE MORE THAN THREE PERIODS. That changes an ellipsis to a dumbass mess of periods and you look like an asshole. Microsoft Word will even FILL IN YOUR ELLIPSIS FOR YOU! And correct you if you use too many periods! It’s three. No spaces between them, no spaces before or after them. Used correctly, it’s fine. Used incorrectly, it looks like you fell asleep and mashed your face onto the keyboard.

This also means it’s not the end, by the way. If you ever see this. It trails off…like this…so it’s not really the end. Isn’t the English language the best? Yes, it totally is.

Let’s see. What else. Exclamation points. Snooty people will tell you not to ever! Use! Them! But listen, they make me laugh and I use them whenever the hell I want because they are fun and show my exuberance for all things life-related. Question marks…well, they show you’re asking a question. Oh, and then there’s the INTERROBANG. That’s this: ?! and it’s used to show you’re taken aback. “Mom said I’m adopted?!” Heh. Also, is interrobang the best word ever? Yes.

INTERROBANG! That’s not a euphemism. by the way. It’s a really real thing.

I’m too tired to properly explain colons. Click here. It’s helpful, if not a weirdly-formatted site. Also, if you say the word “colon” without giggling like a child, your heart is dead in your chest. DEAD I TELL YOU. The colon is used like a sadder semicolon, I guess. (“Jimmy only liked one girl: Helen. And Helen wished he would die in a fire.”) Or if you’re telling time. OH COLON. I am just messing with you. I love you, too, colon. Heh. Colon.


This is a snark mark. It is used to denote SARCASM. Are you not completely entranced and in love right now? Who doesn’t want a punctuation mark to denote sarcasm? It’s tough to do that online, you know? Or sometimes people think you’re being sarcastic and send you messages all “oh, shit, I think I offended you, sorry” and then you have to go back and look through everything you emailed/tweeted/commented/blogged and see what could have been misconstrued as “I was upset” when you’re not even FEELING upset because you were being SARCASTIC and it didn’t read well online. It’s not always easy to be a sarcastic bitch online.

OK. This is longer than like a month of posts. I LOVE YOU, PUNCTUATION! Thank you for making things easier for us to understand things, and for making things like this NOT happen:

Happy National Punctuation Day! Don’t forget: knowing how to properly punctuate a sentence makes you AWESOME LIKE A SPARKLY VAMPIRE! (Ugh, I can’t even pull that off. Sorry. Cool like ME. You can be cool like ME. That HAS to be better than a sparkly effing vampire, right?)

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