August 28, 2005

Absolutely comma-tose

I have a hard time reading things that are not punctuated, capitalized, italicized to show me how to read and interpret the passage. A lot of people type their blogs or post on internet message boards and messengers in this style. Quite often I have to ask what the poster's meaning is exactly. (Because I have to know)

Well I've come to a place in my life where I have looked down and seen the comma. I looked up comma usage on a grammar and language sight and believe me, you do not want me to post anything I read there, except for a few quotes that made me smile and chuckle as I read them. Basically a comma separates a sentence so it is more easily interpreted. It is usually applied orally by a slight pause mid-sentence...pause, take a breath, but don't stop, there's more. I was thinking this morning that a comma is just the word picture for what is happening in our family life right now.

My oldest daughter moved out of this house yesterday and here we are in the pause, taking a breath, waiting to see what happens next. We can feel the pause. It is a real thing, almost tangible. I felt it last night when walking down the hallway to go to bed. The lights were off, dishwasher was started, everyone was in bed, but not everyone. Hannah has moved out and her bed is not here anymore. (She has moved 30 miles away to share a mobile home with 3 other girls while going to college.) It was a strange, unpleasant feeling to know that I can't have that peace of mind knowing that all my children are in bed and safe. One of them is out of the nest and off to fly solo now. I think it's going to take a little more faith, a little more trusting God to go on past this comma and continue as a family. There is no way to prepare for such a day. I have been busy trying to be excited for Hannah and preparing her to live on her own, but now that it's a reality I find myself unprepared and wanting some white out to blot that comma to Kingdom come! She came over today after church to use the internet and to see us, and I found myself trying to think of ways to prolong her visit...just like my mom used to do when I would drop by their house when I was in college. It used to drive me crazy! Now I understand....I want to hold on.

It's not that I don't trust Hannah, or that I don't trust God to take care of her needs. This is a good thing. We're excited for her to start her life and to be on her see where God takes her in her life. It's just that this changes things. It changes our family...we will have some redefining to do in our home and in our hearts. Soon, new habits and game plans will emerge and become a new kind of normal for us. But until then...gotta learn, gotta grow, let go

~~I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out.~~
— Oscar Wilde

~~And what does a comma do, a comma does nothing but make easy a thing that if you like it enough is easy enough without the comma. A long complicated sentence should force itself upon you, make you know yourself knowing it and the comma, well at the most a comma is a poor period that lets you stop and take a breath but if you want to take a breath you ought to know yourself that you want to take a breath. It is not like stopping altogether has something to do with going on, but taking a breath well you are always taking a breath and why emphasize one breath rather than another breath. Anyway that is the way I felt about it and I felt that about it very very strongly. And so I almost never used a comma. The longer, the more complicated the sentence the greater the number of the same kinds of words I had following one after another, the more the very more I had of them the more I felt the passionate need of their taking care of themselves by themselves and not helping them, and thereby enfeebling them by putting in a comma.
So that is the way I felt about punctuation in prose, in poetry it is a little different but more so …~~

— Gertrude Stein
from Lectures in America

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