Posted by: chartroose | May 8, 2008

Manual Labor – Booking Through Thursday

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  • Writing guides, grammar books, punctuation how-tos . . . do you read them? Not read them? How many writing books, grammar books, dictionaries–if any–do you have in your library?

Hooray, an easy one!  I use zero, zip, zilch which is why my grammar is often so atrocious.  But I DON’T CARE, because it’s mine.  I own it and I’m proud of it.  I have no grammar books in my library, although I did purchase a Harbrace hybrid in college to refer to when needed.  It disappeared a long time ago.

As an undergrad Lit major, my alma mater required that we take “advanced grammar.”  It was the most difficult course I’ve ever had in college — EVER!  It was a hundred times worse than any math/science class I’ve ever taken.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if the instructor hadn’t been such a mean old biddy.  She was about a thousand years old and had a nasty temper.  She had a conniption fit one day over some pop quiz that we’d all failed and got so worked up that she started to choke and turned bright red and had to leave the room.  I think we were all secretly hoping that she’d die. 

We got a study group together because a bunch of us were all freaked out about the course.  Luckily for us, one of the members of our study group was a total genius, and she showed us how to correctly diagram sentences, and how to use her mnemonics to remember all the rules (thanks, Suzanne)!  It was our saving grace.  Doesn’t it seem funny that none of us, except Suzanne, knew how to diagram sentences?  I was never taught diagramming in school.  Were you?

I have one more admission to make before I go.  I cheated on the final.  Suze had helped me make it through the mid-term, but I had a “D” in the course, and I knew that a comprehensive final would be too much for me to handle.  I feigned illness and took the final a few days after everyone else.  I made a bunch of crib notes and took the exam seated at a desk around the corner from my grammar class.  Nobody was around, so I ended up getting a “B” on the final and a “C” in the course.

I’m not proud of this, but I kind of feel like I did the right thing.  If I had failed the course (and at my school, “D” was failing), I would’ve had to take it over again.  The same instructor would be screwing with my head because she was the only “advanced grammar” teacher on campus.  Hell, I’d probably still be there today, listening to the old biddy squawk and trying to figure out why I can’t use certain past participles in declarative sentences.

It was the only time I ever cheated in college, unless you count the times that I lied to my “man of the moment” in order to sneak around and go out with someone else.  That doesn’t count, does it? 



  1. >>That doesn’t count, does it?<<

    Not unless you were graded. 🙂 I recently confessed to never reading Huck Finn in high school and having my best friend tell me all the test questions. It’s kind of fun, isn’t it?


  2. >>It’s kind of fun, isn’t it?<<
    Confessing I mean, not the cheating part. 🙂


  3. Yeah, confession is good for the soul, Lezlie! Cheating is never fun. It’s way too stressful. I was so nervous taking that final!

    I’m adding you to my blogroll. Yay!

  4. I love the name of your blog!!!!!!

    Doesn’t everyone have their own cheating guilt? I remember mine from helping others in Juniors history. To make matters worse, I went to a Catholic HS – cheating guilt on top of Catholic Guilt…

  5. OK, confession time? I once had a guy in my Materials Lab do my welding for me and pass the work off as mine. (I was so bummed cuz I really expected to be GOOD at welding but I sucked.) I bought him a six pack – probably of Bud Lt. And on one of those crazy god awful computer classes… Yep, I think it was FORTRAN, when we still had punched cards for each line of code – once it was mixed up it was H – E – L – L and so I “borrowed” the a guy’s stack of cards and bought him a pizza.

  6. Oh, and yes, I was taught how to diagram a sentence. I can also say that I never had a specific ‘grammar’ class after grade school.

  7. I don’t think grammar is ever fun. I’m sure glad I never had to take advanced grammar!

  8. Literate,
    For you, being catholic and everything, confession really would have been good for your soul!

    Hilarious! I would get people to do my work for me sometimes too, and beer and pizza are great bribes for guys. H-E-L-L — too funny!

    Grammar was never fun. One time, during a grammar refresher in high school English class, I became so bored that I tore a bunch of old peeling wallpaper off the wall (I was sitting in the back of the room, as usual). I got into big trouble for that one. I guess grammar and I have always been enemies!

  9. I think, I think I was taught to diagram a sentence, but that’s one of those, When will I ever use this? kinda things that you mem it and forget it. KWIM?

  10. I remember diagramming sentences in sixth grade, but I couldn’t do it now to save my life! I had a really, really mean fourth grade teacher who was obsessed with grammar, so that gave me a strong foundation and then studying Latin in high school and French and Russian in college taught me more grammar than I’ll probably ever need. lol

    Re: cheating…I cheated once, in tenth grade in World History. I came back from being sick and missing a couple of classes, and the teacher made me and three other students make up a pop quiz. Well, the reading had been over a week ago, and the ten questions were ridiculously specific, so we were all kind of grumbling in the hallway w/ our quizzes, and then one of the real quiet guys just started saying the answers. I felt bad, but I wrote them in anyway.

  11. Trish — Yes, I do know what you mean. I’ve felt that way about a large portion of my education, like A + B = who cares?

    Eva — I really think you have to cheat sometimes to save your ass. I try to be honest, but there have been a couple of circumstances where I’ve had to choose self-preservation over integrity. Your 10th grade choice was one of those circumstances.

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