I have never thought of myself as a grammar or punctuation stickler. In fact, I have been adamant in telling others I don't obsess about it. I, frequently, experiment with punctuation, especially commas, dashes, and parentheses, to tweak the meanings of sentences and alter the flow of words. I, sometimes, begin sentences with a conjunction to make a point. Typical paragraph construction often seems restrictive to me. And (see), I frequently toy with sentences that are way too long to be standard. I like language and the structure the rules provide, but I have never thought of myself as fussy. In fact, I thought of myself as adventurous and tolerant.
My first clue that I wasn't being completely honest with myself should have been my habit of editing my own blog. I read, spell check, and publish. Then, the insanity begins. I view my blog and start editing and I can't help myself. I tweak and reword so often that I am embarrassed, but not as embarrassed as when I realize someone may have noticed a mistake. Another hint should have been the many grammar and language loving books like Woe Is I by Patricia T. O'Conner, Et Cetera, Et Cetera by Lewis Thomas, and most recently Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss that line my library shelves. Most of these books were gifts, which should have been another clue, because if the people I love have noticed that I would enjoy books such as these, I must have a problem. All that being said, my epiphany occurred last night.
I got in the bed early with my most recent book purchase, Eats, Shoots & Leaves. I bought it because Becky recommended it. I began reading with amusement, chuckling quietly to myself at someone else's obsessive compulsive behavior. Then, I was accosted by the British use of quotation marks. Though I knew using a comma or period outside of the quotation marks in certain situations was acceptable, albeit British, I flinched. Each and every time a punctuation mark fell outside the ending quotation, I felt uncomfortable. I twitched, squirmed, reached for the white-out. I could barely enjoy my new book because of the punctuation. I, in fact, skipped into another section of the book to get away from the offensive punctuation. All this discomfort coming from the person who staunchly proclaims tolerance seemed a bit hypocritical.
So, I admit it. I am an adventurous, tolerant grammar and punctuation stickler. I have a physical reaction to poor usage, including my own, while still enjoying subtle usage variance. So there!