A Brief Note on Grammar and Criticisms

A friend recently confided to me she’s been interested in blogging, but is hesitant to start it, worried of how others will view it, and frightened she’ll have to deal with a big tide of harsh criticisms, or even mockeries, for her less-than-fantastic grammar.

I told her she needs not afraid of grammar critics, because:

a) Unless she invites people to take a peek at her blog (e.g., puts her blog address on her Facebook page, tells her friends about it, etc.), chances are it will be only her and a handful of accidental visitors who are aware of the existence of the blog.

b) Bloggers are generally pretty generous to newcomers; grammar correctness is usually the last thing they’ll be concerned about (particularly in Indonesia’s blogosphere). It is the content that might prompt comments – be it nice words or ugly condemns.

c) If one’s blog is criticized heavily for the grammar incorrectness, most of the times grammar isn’t the main issue. It might be the subject, the idea, or the personality of the blogger as perceived by reader(s).

Of course, one might argue that a blog cannot be considered the representative of the blogger – a renowned Indonesian blogger once claims that only 5% of her personality is reflected in her blog. Should that be the case, the blogger then ought to always, always, ALWAYS take any comment on his/her blog with a grain of salt – or even with their tongue in cheek. After all, once you decide to make your blog public (there’s an option to make it private, right?), you open your front door to a battalion of predators. To keep your sanity level in check you need to remember that THIS.IS.ONLY.A.VIRTUAL.WORLD (don’t take it too seriously) and strengthen your sense of humor.

On the other hand, the blogosphere is also the place where you will meet likeminded people, those very possibly will be good friends – maybe even become your other half – in the future. I met some of my closest friends here and I can’t be more grateful for that :).

The Farewell

I saw you lying there, helpless. Your hair was white. You were awfully way smaller than you used to be: only bones wrapped in a thin layer of wrinkled skin. You had never been fat despite a hint of beer tummy (you never drank beer, though, as far as I remember). At times you made gestures, uncontrollably. The doctor said you were unconscious, yet you let out a cry of pain. It hurts me to see you like that. I softly stroked your arm, your leg, while whispering words of encouragement. I wasn’t sure you heard me. I didn’t even have tears by then, unlike some of the other girls. But I was torn apart inside.

You don’t know how much I cursed myself for not calling you when I heard you had been ill. My (un)famed ignorance took the best of me as usual, taking it for granted that you were “just too tired of work”.

But it was work indeed that consumed you. Your doctors apparently had warned you to take things slowly since your body – your liver, in particular – had not functioned properly. Some say you hated going to doctors (and you didn’t exactly trust them). So of course you didn’t get the regular general check up as strongly advised by your American physician. I must say I admire your wife greatly, for her strength all this time.

The last time we hung out together in a group lunch was exactly the last time we met prior to this. You looked very normal. It was only a few months ago. Surely at that time the cancer had been spreading throughout your body, and YOU.KNEW.THAT.

Damn you for not even hinting about that! Damn you for hiding it! What was wrong with you???? You were not supposed to work even slightly hard (and YOU.KNEW.THAT) yet you stayed at the office until very late, traveled a lot, attended all those meetings! Were you trying to get the posthumous promotion aka kenaikan pangkat anumerta? Did you think our big boss care about that? I’m not sure he even knows your name!

Funny, being a workaholic, you actually like outdoor activities. I envied you once for being able to explore those cute East Coast towns during weekends, since I felt my days off had been practically robbed by the series of events I had to attend thanks to my line of work. But you and your wife took me to one of your ‘Civil War pilgrimage’ (you were crazy about the Civil War period) and I had a great time. Oh, and if it hadn’t been you, I wouldn’t have visited the first colony across the Harper’s Ferry. Thank you for sharing that with me. You would enthusiastically show off your Civil War scrapbook to anyone who would listen to you. (Well, we had to as we were served lunch in your apartment! :)).

Remember when you, Renata, Wawan, and I went to the Wolf Barn for Jewel’s show straightly from the office? That was our first time going there, none of us made a research before, so it shouldn’t have been surprising that we were salah kostum. Everyone else but us wore casual outfit, shorts and T-shirts and jeans, and carried blankets or folding chairs and baskets with sandwiches and wine. We were quite lucky that I (ahem) happened to bring a sheet of plastic tablecloth. I’m sure we looked like morons: working suit clad people sitting on a plastic sheet, watching Jewel performing on an outdoor stage.

I had to thank you too, in particular, for helping me finding a right place for the ASEAN picnic. That was a perfect spot, at the bank of a small lake. ASEAN people had a great time together in DC, and disputes in their own respective territories. Can we call it the sweet irony?

A couple of years working together with you, in combination with genuine friendship all along, are irreplaceable. While praying for you, I’m thinking of those times. I pray that God release you from your pain, and I wish that it also means seeing you around for more years to come. Yes, your cancer is in stadium 4, but God is more powerful than those cells He creates.

But if He decides to call you home, I can only say goodbye, wish you a peaceful trip to Heaven, and thank Him for letting me know you and befriend you. Love you, buddy.

Addendum: I got the news that you left this morning. Zai jian, mon ami. May you rest in peace.

Notes from the 2009 Grammy Awards

1. I thought the writers’ rally had ended last year. The 2009 Grammy Award’s script has been the worst I’ve seen in years! Presenters never sounded so lame. Crapfest.

2. I love Whitney Houston. But how come she decided to get high in the Grammy night, on stage? Girl, save that for the after party!

3. Nice effort, Rock... er... Dwayne. Just remember that only a very few people can be offensive and funny at the same time. You were certainly not one of them.

4. What did Katy Perry try to say with the fruity trapeze gal outfit? Her cherry Chapstick?

5. Jennifer Hudson is a pretty good singer, but I couldn’t help suspecting her Grammy was a generous consolation gift.

6. I almost burst into tears too when Adele cried accepting her Grammy. It’s so amazing that we’re built alike.

7. I couldn’t stand Miley Cyrus’s screechy voice, but her collaboration with Taylor Swift surprisingly excelled my expectation. She should always, ALWAYS, stick to lower notes. Taylor Swift has been this year’s wunderkind – no wonder Miley called her “my best friend”. I wish I could say the same thing about Obama and kept a straight face.

8. Sir Paul McCartney was the highlight of the night. How old is he, 70? Those way younger musicians didn’t hold a candle to him. Not even when they bring the whole marching band team on stage. And you think you only see parades on the streets. I would really love to rain on this one!

9. Lastly, with all due respect to the night’s “power couple”, their names Plant and Krauss somehow reminded me to my grocery list.