Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My life in parentheses . . .

One of my favorite writers is Jenn Lancaster. She primarily writes non-fiction accounts of her own life. Her books are hilarious. She inspires me. She is snarky. I want to be her friend. Stalking inclinations aside, one key element to her writing is her use of footnotes. At times, her paragraphs are so heavily footnoted, it makes for challenging reading. But mostly, the footnotes are just funny. I look at footnotes and parentheses in much the same way. And, I think I actually talk in parentheses. Is that possible? 
According to, “Parenthesis” (plural: parentheses) (look, see, here I go) is defined as: “a qualifying, explanatory, or appositive word, phrase, clause, or sentence that interrupts a syntactic construction without otherwise affecting it.” Well, according to that, the comma is a mightier grammatical tool. The comma says, pause and take this in; the parenthesis says, here’s a little something, but it’s not necessary for you to retain this info. Hmm. I really think that the words inside the parentheses really deserve more attention than their definition entitles them to (I know -- ending a sentence with a preposition is wrong but we’re only working on one grammar problem today). I think of them as little asides. Like here’s the main thought (and here’s a little something extra). And that’s how I look at the way I speak, the way I write and the way I live. 
Hence: (A) musings. (A) for Ann's musings and amusing musings (clearly I do find my thoughts to be humorus). 
Musings are a big part of my day, though. I think I am just so inundated with so much information from TV and the internet (admittedly, I do watch a lot of TV. Too much. Don’t judge.) that I find myself questioning aloud (or in my head, but that’s pretty much aloud to me) so many things: choices people make, choices celebrities make, choices government makes (I’m fairly apolitical, but really, sometimes politicians deserve questioning). You get the drift, right?
So, this is my outlet. I’m giving my husband a break. He hears my musings daily. He’s a saint. 
Clearly, you can see that I speak and write in parenthetical expressions. And as I said, I think I live in parentheses sometimes too. Don’t we all, really? There’s the life we present to the world (and then there’s the life we save for ourselves). Or vice versa, the life we save for ourselves (and the life we show the world). Personas, per se. I don’t think my “public” life (ha - like I’m famous - NOT) is vastly different from my personal life. Although, I do swear a lot (and I mean it: A. LOT.) in my personal life (just ask my husband; if he never heard the word “fuck” before he met me, well, he’s become well-versed in its many uses in the last 13 years -- that’s a tale for another day!), in public, I rarely swear. But, I think I am “aware” (I use air quotes a lot too, just a warning) of my surroundings and act accordingly. Sometimes. For me, parentheses in speech and writing are a way of stretching out what I’m saying. In life, they’re a way of adding to its flavor. A way to keep the good going and a way to comment on the bad (and that’s when what’s in the parentheses doesn’t need to be retained).

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