When Punctuation Panic isn’t Enough

Posted by Kathy on Mar 26, 2014 in Thoughts from ME |

DSC_0153I am having my annual panic attack.

No, it is not because spring is arriving and I still haven’t put all my Christmas stuff away.

Nor is it because the taxes are due and we can’t find something like half of all documentation, which is actually better than most years at this point. In some weird cosmic way, the more things get messy, the easier it is to find what is lost. Don’t ask.

And no, it is not because once again, a few pounds have crept up on my mid-section since last fall. I have no idea how that happened hot fudge sundaes celebratory suppers out sometimes late night snacks like every night like several times every night salty or fatty or both and all necessary to keep up one’s strength during a frigid winter when it becomes more essential to bulk up than to waste time with, uh, punctuation.

No. The annual panic is due to the upcoming deadline of a contest very near and dear to me: the National Society of Newspaper Columnists contest. And for those punctuation fanatics (of which I am actually one), there is no hyphen in Columnists. I don’t think. Well maybe. But anyway, there is panic. Not because I can’t find three “best” columns. It’s that I always, always find four. Or two. But never three. The rules are explicit. Send in your “three best” in the appropriate category.

First of all, being appropriate is sometimes a problem. But never mind. I write for a family-type paper, so I generally leave out the something-bombs, saving those for the ears of my loved ones who signed contracts to love me unconditionally no matter what spews forth (“Don’t touch that paper! Don’t Don’t DON’T and get your %#&$*^! fingers- yes, they do too have grease on them!!!”) Deep breath. And again.

The panic…is really about the details. All columns must be submitted on letter-size paper. My columns never fit. Not even the column breaks between pages fit. Cutting and pasting was so much fun in the old days. In grammar school, I could cut and paste with the best of them. But now?

“Dear Luenna…” I write to the group director. “What if my column is a couple of inches over the…”

I get a prompt and kind response.

The next day, I realize the title of one column doesn’t fit across the top.

“Dear Luenna…So sorry to bug you again, but…”

OK, so that one gets solved.

I get ready to do the paste-up.

Wait. Paste-up? Or tape-up? The rules say “no staples.” But…

“Dear Luenna…HUGE apologies, but…”

Boy, is Luenna ever a good sport. Note: Bring extra chocolate to conference.

A week and three more “Dear Luenna’s” later…(go ahead, challenge that punctuation – I’m too tired to give a-)…well, a week later, I get ready to bring the envelope to the post office. Hmmm…USPS or UPS? Regular mail or Registered? Or maybe Priority with an extra 95 cents or whatever they charge now for tracking? Or just First Class? Don’t want to have them not deliver something just because someone isn’t there at that moment, so forget the registered mail idea. But should it be hand-stamped? Or just…

I give the envelope to the snappy woman behind the counter (people can be so grouchy when there’s a line to the door – you’d think she’d be happy for the business in this economy) and I leave it all in the hands of the gods.

I hope it arrives there in time. I hope someone at the post office remembers to stamp the date on it.

I might not even know if it arrives. Although, if my check gets cashed, then I’ll know it got there. But, it could get there late and get disqualified if it wasn’t stamped by the deadline.

“Dear Luenna…”

Ugh. You know what?

I should have sent different columns.


Ben Pollock
Mar 26, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Fun! I certainly CAN relate.


Apr 2, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Thanks, Ben. I guess it’s part of the deal! See you in June 🙂

Cathy Turney
Mar 26, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Kathy! Definitely include this column in next year’s contest!

Nancy Burnell McMinn
Mar 27, 2014 at 10:48 am

Another great one,Kathy.

Jerry Zezima
Mar 27, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Do I think you have made your (question) mark with this column, Kathy? Yes! And you make several good (exclamation) points! Now, before I lapse into a comma, I will add that this one’s a winner.

Janine Talbot
Mar 28, 2014 at 2:00 am

Now your nerves have my nerves more nervous! You’re a great columnist/writer/blogger. Best of luck!

Apr 2, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Thanks, Janine! 😉



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