Tag Archives: Grammar

When the Jenga Tower Stays Up


I’ve played a lot of Jenga games in my lifetime. Okay, so I’ve played about five games of actual Jenga, and the rest have been metaphorical.

For those of you who don’t know, Jenga is a game in which wooden blocks are stacked to make a tower. Every player has to remove a block during their turn and place it on top of the tower, which gets less and less structurally sound as the game goes on. The last person to remove and place a block successfully before the tower topples is the winner.

In life, Jenga can appear a lot of places. In college, for example, Jenga was everywhere, including the trashcan in my crowded dorm room, with Easy Mac containers and instant mashed potato bowls towering to impressive heights before scattering all over the asbestos tile floor.

Jenga also appeared in my studies. I carved out blocks–from my sleep, from my social life, from my sanity–and stacked them on top of an invisible pile of credentials, hoping to reach enough to get a job without toppling the tower.

After graduation, the tower became more and more unstable. I had removed over 44 blocks (applied to more than 44 jobs). I had cried enough tears to fill the 28 glasses that Michael Phelps could rest on his 28 medals if he ever decided to use them as coasters. I had dug and dug into myself to find the best blocks to present at the top.



But after everything, I did it. I now work as a proofreader for a successful tax news organization in the D.C. area. My office is lovely, the company is ethical, my coworkers are great, and there’s dental. It’s a wonderful setup, and I am very grateful and blessed to be where I am today.

I wouldn’t be here without digging, though. In my search for more blocks, I found Writers Colony Press, the publisher of Stardust, AlwaysThe Longest Night Watch, and the upcoming The Longest Night Watch Volume 2, which will feature my first published science fiction story, “The Fringe Point.”

I also found aspects of me that I hadn’t before considered. Every interview that made me think about my weaknesses actually made me stronger in the process. Every time a prospective employer ghosted me, it taught me the value of being open and honest with your interactions, even when you may disappoint someone.

Bottom line: keep digging. Keep stacking. The respite comes just before you’re sure you’re going to fall.


The Letters E & O: Careless Whispers on Careless Twitters


George Michael has taught me many things over the course of my 21 years. First, use a catchy sax riff and you’ll be indirectly annoying the people who know sax players for life. Second, guilty feet have got no rhythm. Third, one little whisper (or a letter in a word) can make a big difference.

I’m not blind to the fact that grammatical errors happen. I’m glad that they do, otherwise I never would have gotten my internship with New Madrid Journal of Contemporary Literature.

“You see, sir. . . We’ve had to let the editing interns go.”

“Great Scott! Why?”

“Well, there was nothing for them to do. They sat around talking about Britney Spears and playing Bananagrams.”

What I am saying is that grammatical errors can make you look stupid. Take it from the girl who once waxed poetic about the fascinating topic of “pubic” relations in a term paper. A little attention to detail can go a long way, whether you’re a writer submitting a manuscript, an editor looking over that manuscript, or a marketer writing a great blog post about SEO.

As a wise wizard once said…

(DMX, “Party Up (Up in Here).”

According to Merriam-Webster, loose can be an adjective, a verb, or an adverb in some cases.

“But Kate,” you say. “It’s a verb. What’s the problem? Get back in your grammar cruiser and eat a doughnut.”

Not so fast there, Speedy Gonzales. I’m going to need to see your license and punctuation.

The way that loose is often misused is as an incorrect replacement for lose. People simply add an accidental o.  Example:

I didn’t think that I could loose my girlfriend because of my poor texting prowess.

The way this sentence is structured, loose is being used as a verb. Unless the boyfriend (ex-boyfriend, excuse me) actually used his girlfriend as a projectile or weapon because of his poor texting, he is using the word loose when he should be using lose. Loose, in its verb form, means to let fly or to unleash. Example:

“Stanley,” said Baron von Mustache to his favorite stooge, “loose the robotic squirrels. There will be great chatter tonight!”

In reality, the boyfriend should have been using lose, as in,

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime…

(Lyrics taken from “Lose Yourself” by Eminem.)

Whenever you need to loose your words on the unsuspecting populace, just make sure you don’t lose your meaning. Think of the extra as taking up extra space in the word, loosening it up a bit. 

Cradle your head in your hands, and …. breath?

(Sorry, Anna Nalick, for abusing the only song of yours I know).

This one is a personal pet peeve. Anyone else think that’s a weird term? I read it and picture one of these.

Angry Chihuahua growling, 2 years old
I’d rather take on a pit bull any day. 


Breath is a noun. You take a breath. You buy a floral arrangement that has baby’s breath in it. You may even get excited at the breath of a scandal, but any way you choose to use it,

B-R-E-A-T-H is a N-O-U-N. It rhymes with death, which is also a noun.  

The funny thing about your death/Is once it’s passed, you can’t draw breath.

I never said I was e.e. cummings.

Perhaps I’m jaded from reading one too many short story manuscripts wherein the heroine says, “I can’t breath” before she takes an Elizabeth-Swann-worthy tumble.

I cant breathe swann giff.gif

Misuse like this can make all the grammar pedants in your life want to take a voluntary plunge into the ocean.

The verb is B-R-E-A-T-H-E.

“I can’t breathe,” said Stanley. “I think I’m having a panic attack.”

“Oh, dear,” replied Baron von Mustache. “Try taking deep breaths. I’ll be with you once I finish irradiating these kumquats.”

Think if it like the sound that a balloon makes when it slowly deflates. That hiss of air almost sounds like a long e.

Don’t waste the chance that you’ve been given.

Remembering to check for an errant or a missing can be the difference between a poignant post and a guilty Tweet that has no rhythm.

Have you contributed to Careless Twitter? Sound off your favorite typos in the comments below.