grammar and tonic                

Editing with a twist.

A Splash of Tonic

If you are reading this, please be advised of the following:

I am fluent in sarcasm. I tend to teeter on the line of political correctness like it's a balance beam. Sometimes I fall off. There is no method to my madness, and sometimes there are puns or obscure song references. Sometimes I write just for me because I get me. It's not always about you.

If you're still reading this, here are some random facts:

I love to read and write. I carry a black Sharpie in my purse and I would delight in correcting bad punctuation on signs with it, but being arrested for defacing public property--no matter how right it would be--would not look so good on my resume. To me, a segue is only a slow mode of transportation.  I think life is too short to be serious all the time. I childproof my house, but they keep getting in. I have a twisted sense of humor and an active imagination.

I don't really know what you're going to find here. It's kind of like that box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get. Hopefully it's one you're glad you picked out, like a truffle or a caramel, instead of the oblong one you bite into and realize it's filled with toothpaste. Enjoy!

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Posted on May 28, 2018 at 7:20 PM Comments comments (5)
The day was noisy. Phones ringing. People talking loudly. Computers beeping. The air conditioner humming. An electrical buzzing undercurrent. Caffeine coursing through her veins. She thought her head would explode. A ping! announced an incoming email. The chatter on the radio bored into her brain. She squinted and rubbed her temples, needing to escape. "I'll be back," she said to the girl at the reception desk, wondering if she was lying. What was stopping her from running out the back door, never to return? She went outside to the picnic table where she ate her lunch on warm days. The building muted the commotion from the front parking lot. Back here, she only heard the birds and the breeze whispering through the tall grass on the other side of the picnic table. She sat and closed her eyes, feeling the warm sun on her face, and exhaled the chaos. When she opened them, she noticed a butterfly had landed on the corner of the table across from her. Its yellow wings shifted ever so gently. She was mesmerized by the slow ripple. The butterfly. So simple, yet so complex. A transformation into something so beautiful with time and new circumstances. She watched for a bit, silently contemplating. Then it fluttered away into the tall grass, just a flash of yellow in all the green. The quiet became loud in her ears. She had heard about the butterfly effect, but this... This was her butterfly effect. Chaos in reverse. And for the moment, she was changed.

on writing

Posted on April 15, 2018 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)
Writing is hard. The words hurt when I put them to paper. It hurts when they don't come. The ink is my soul, bleeding over the paper, staining the lines with words and emotions that are meaningless to anyone but me. Sometimes they pour out like a dam has broken; other times they trickle. But any word written is better than none at all...just a blank page staring back with too many possibilities. Writing makes the heart sing, the wind cry, the leaves dance. It is raw; everything and nothing at the same time.


Posted on March 15, 2018 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (0)
Someone asked me who I'd want to meet on a park bench and talk with for an hour. It had to be someone who was deceased. What would I say to that person? After thinking about it, I would choose to meet my adolescent self. "But, Jodi," you say. "You're still alive. You're not doing this right." I beg to differ. The person sitting on the bench is dead. Young girl aspirations derailed by real and imagined fears. Lack of confidence. Doubt. I would take her in my arms and hold her. "You are enough, " I would whisper in her ear. "You can do whatever you set your mind to. I believe in you. You're smarter than you think you are. Believe in yourself." I'm sure she would roll her eyes and pull away. But just maybe the butterfly wings of self assurance would begin to beat inside her soul, preventing the inner darkness from creeping in and smothering her.

Sunday Morning, Sunday Mourning

Posted on March 14, 2018 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (0)
Sunday morning creeps in like a fog. Blurry thoughts and feelings. Whispers of regret and words left unsaid. The sunrise through the curtain chases away my sleep. I close my eyes to keep the reality out. Alone in my own darkness, I won't have to face the truth. But will it be worse to find myself there in the blackness?

mirror, mirror

Posted on January 11, 2018 at 10:50 PM Comments comments (0)
My reflection stares back at me through the same blue eyes, yet the face that holds them is different now. The wrinkles around my eyes from laughter. The grays at my temple from worry. The lines in my brow. Softness where there once was a little definition at my jawline. My mouth is bracketed by lines like parenthesis. (Is that why I feel like I'm making an aside to the audience when I speak sometimes?) Mine is the face of many different people. A daughter. A wife. A mother. A friend. My eyes have cried tears that ebb and flow with emotion from joy to heartache and back again. My mouth has spoken kind words and biting ones. I am in the autumn of my life, further from the new, bright springtime and closer to the quiet, harsh winter.


Posted on November 4, 2017 at 10:25 PM Comments comments (0)
I floated home one night last week, smiling and feeling a tingle like I'd just been on a great first date. I spent a little more than an hour with a dozen people, only one of whom I'd ever met, but I felt a deep soul connection. Someone started a writers' group in my city for the simple reason that he wanted one...what a concept: seeing a need and making it happen? If only more people would do that. But, I digress... I went, not knowing what to expect. After all, by my own choosing, I've put my writing on the back burner to make way for opportunities to edit, and I love it. Yet, I find myself still scribbling in the notebook I carry around with me in case inspiration strikes...which it does...and I jot down a sentence or two I want to expand on "when I have time." Hah. Anyone who is creative is a little quirky, and I think I'm more on the weird side. A lot of people don't get my humor. A lot of people don't get me. With a few exceptions, sometimes I feel like those closest to me don't truly understand me, and that's ok. I get me, and usually that's all I need. I've gone to writing conferences and workshops, and in those settings, I feel an energy within me thrive. It feels like home to be in a room full of people who are excited about words and know the love/hate relationship of writing. It's beautiful and frustrating at once. I didn't know how it was going to go for me. I've shifted more into editor mode and when I settle in to write, often times the words don't come easy. I spend a lot of time looking at the keyboard or the paper. I'll write a paragraph or two, and then go back and polish and change and not get much accomplished. Several months ago, I took a writing class an author friend was leading, and he gave us a writing prompt and said, "Go!" My horse didn't explode out of the gate. I felt like I was the one being prodded with the riding crop. "Stop looking at the paper and WRITE!" It was hard. Mostly, I write for myself. I feel exposed when my friends and family read my work. It's like I've ripped out part of my soul and offered it up on a platter. I didn't think I'd share my ramblings with these people. The format was simple. A writing prompt, 30 minutes with our thoughts, and then we'd share with the group. I decided that no matter what, I was going to keep my pen to paper (I was old school with my spiral notebook) and write. When we were done, it felt like I'd written the equivalent of an unraveled sweater...rambling...jumbled...a mess. Nope; I wasn't going to do it. I wasn't ready to read. I was wrong. Before I chickened out, I decided to do it. When I began, I felt like I'd jumped out of a plane. After I got over my initial terror, though, it was freeing. I didn't realize how much I needed it...the group...the motivation...the writing. Every time I come back from a conference, I am on fire and inspired and I love the feeling. After a while, though, the inspiration embers die down and burn out until the next time. I'm glad the embers are glowing again.

far the lobe of autocorrect...

Posted on September 5, 2017 at 8:35 PM Comments comments (0)
Oh, autocorrect. One thing that really gets on my nerves is how my phone thinks it knows what I want to say when I text. Google comes in a close second to giving me suggestions about what I want to research, but that's a story for another time. Autocorrect has turned my dreams into dramas and plans into planes. I sent a text once and 'bane of my existence' became 'bang of my experience'. It won't let me text swear words, and sometimes I get really tired of that shirt. What's even better is when I send a voice text and wonder how the heck the question about my daughter turned into something about a mermaid and a steak. Technology.

Pause for positivity.

Posted on December 4, 2016 at 9:30 PM Comments comments (0)

"There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative." -W Clement Stone

Let's face it: dealing with people is a challenge. Every interaction we have with our coworkers, clients, family members, and friends comes with the human element. We have emotions, different opinions, stress, and busy schedules. We offend others and are offended ourselves. We experience days that begin with drama and spiral downward from there.

But don't forget that there is a choice.  Whether you decide you're going to have a good day or a bad one, you're right. Perspective is everything. You can turn a problem into a challenge and an error into a lesson. You can make all the difference in someone else's day with a smile or a kind word, and in turn, make your own day better. Everything we give truly does come back to us in one way or another.

Choose happy. Make today a good day.

I childproof my house, yet they still find a way in...

Posted on November 16, 2016 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)
I find it interesting to realize which character I most relate to when I'm watching something on TV or in a movie. Sometimes it's obvious, but other times, I'm surprised. For example, when three of my firefighter wife friends and I get together, I feel like Samantha from Sex & the City...because I'm the oldest. (Pause for sarcasm here.) It's usually just one persona per show that reflects back at me, but I recognized bits and pieces of myself in almost every role in something recent. I'd love to say I saw the nurturing and lovely parts, but that wasn't the case. Given that the movie was Bad Moms, I should probably be embarrassed to admit this, but I'm not. By the title, I'm sure you can guess it's peppered with f-bombs and foul language. If this offends you, you may want to wait until it's on TBS when the bad words morph into 'fork' and 'trucker'. Beyond that, it was good to laugh out loud at an exaggerated look at being somebody's mama. Before I had kids, I thought I had some idea what it would be like. After all, there are hundreds of the 'what to expect' type of baby instruction manuals on the shelves of the library and bookstores, so how challenging could it be? (Cue the maniacal laughter.) It. Is. Hard. Babies are miracles. I still can't wrap my head around the fact that I could grow a person--two of them, actually-- inside my body, because the flowers I keep planting in my yard look awful. Motherhood is the most amazing, fascinating, terrifying, exhilarating, beautiful, messy, wonderful thing I've ever experienced. I have had my heart bursting with love and broken into a million pieces in the same two minutes. There are days when I think I have it figured out mixed with the times when I crawl in bed at night, feeling like a failure. There are things I wish I would have done differently and things I wouldn't change a bit. I love my kids with a fierce love and I am proud of them. They have taught me so much about life and about myself, and I have become a stronger person than I ever thought I could be because of them. For me, the takeaway from the movie was that it's okay to not have it all together. Especially when you throw in being a wife, having a full-time job, a dog, your own social or community organization involvement, your kids' extracurricular activities, and trying to find fifteen minutes before the turn of the century to have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with a friend who is in the same situation, to expect ourselves to be perfect is just unrealistic. There are only 24 hours in a day and we can only accomplish so much, even with a husband or partner who is involved. My goal is to love my kids, keep them safe and healthy, and raise them up to be good people with common sense. I know they love me, but I also know there are days when they don't like me. To be honest, I've felt the same way about them once or twice. I know I'll never make it to June Cleaver or Carol Brady status, and probably at my best am more in the vein of Frankie Heck (with a cleaner house) or Beverly Goldberg, but I hope they know I'm doing the best I can. When my kids were younger, and sometimes even now, I've been given unsolicited advice. I remember how annoying it could be and I try not to do the same thing. I will, however, say one thing: It goes way too fast, so enjoy every fantastic, messy minute of it.

Cut Down the Tree

Posted on September 1, 2016 at 9:50 PM Comments comments (0)

On the Saturday I was to pick my daughter up from church camp, I arrived a little early for selfish reasons. For seven of my summers growing up, I spent a week at that very same place, although the wooden cabins and creaky metal bunk beds have been replaced by concrete dorms. Even now as an adult, I have the same feeling of nostalgia and anticipation when I finally see the wooden sign that welomes me back. As much as I missed my daughter and could not wait to see her, I was nearly as homesick for this place. 

I made my way back to a clearing in the woods and sat on one of the plank benches in the outdoor worship area. I closed my eyes, almost overwhelmed to sit there and just be. Lately, I'd allowed myself to get caught up in the logistics of daily life and hadn't been doing much living. I was only going through the motions, rushing from one thing to the next and not feeling rested or fulfilled, and not doing anything well.. I was on a hamster wheel of my own making and I was exhausted, both physically and emotionally.  

I sat there alone with myself and my thoughts and my God. I lifted my face and felt the warm sun reach down between the tree branches. Out loud, I asked for help to regain my balance and focus on what is truly important. I asked for help to stop getting hung up in the details that don't matter. I asked for guidance to help me find who I am truly meant to be and where I am meant to serve in this season of my life. It was fitting to be having this conversation with God out in the woods because I'd been living the cliché of not seeing the forest for the tree.As I sat there and the quiet became loud in my ears, a peace that I hadn't felt in quite a while washed over me, almost as if my soul exhaled and melted into child's pose at the end of a yoga class.

When I'm listening for God to acknowledge or answer my prayers, I've learned that I need to be patient. Sometimes the answer is not at all what I'd expected it to be. Sometimes it's simply a lesson in learning patience and discipline. And still other times, the answer is so subtle that I almost miss it.

This time, however, there was no doubt that I'd been heard. The gist of the opening prayer the following morning at church was what I had prayed the day before, but was worded far more eloquently: Patient Lord, we schedule our lives down to the very second. We crowd in as much activity as we can and then wonder why we are so stressed out and tired. We are afraid to miss out on anything. And when it comes time to be with others, we spend our time worrying about the details rather than longing for the visit. Forgive us when we get so caught up in the details and miss the opportunity to sit at your feet learning, listening, and growing in our faith. Help us to place ourselves in your care. Slow us down, just a bit, so that we can see the wonders you have placed before us and truly enjoy and share the blessings you have given us. Amen.

Indeed, this message was for me, about me, to me. It was the gospel according to St Carly Simon. “You're so vain, you probably think this (prayer) is about you..." 

Well, then.

I am in the process of reevaluation. I am going to try to get rid of my shoulds, need tos, and have tos. I am going to try to slow down and listen better for divine direction in my life. I am going to try to clear away the things that are blocking my path to inner peace. 

I am going to cut down the tree.