Saturday, October 27, 2012

I've Been Afraid, But Now I Understand The Ellipsis

I despise the misuse of the ellipsis in writing.  But, as a student of mine recently pointed out, grammar is only a problem if you understand the rules.

For those of you who don't know, an ellispsis   is this thing -->  . . .   <-- used to indicate a word has been omitted in a quotation. It can also be used at the end of a sentence to indicate the words are drifting away.  This is common in film scripts.  But what really irks me is the use of the dot dot dot to indicate someone has been interrupted.  That is clearly the case in which a terminal dash must be used!

I might see a script that looks like this:

                                                         EARL
                                          I am a no good, two-timing jerk, and you deserve better.
                                          I am having an affair. . .

                                                          LEE
                                         I should have listened to my mother!

When clearly it should read:

                                                           EARL
                                       I am a no good, two-timing jerk, and you deserve better. 
                                       I am having an affair --

                                                          LEE
                                      I should have listened to my mother!

You see the difference, right?  The proper use of the ellipsis matters.  But to the uninformed punctuator, the difference is lost.  Just as punctuation draws out bold differences in our stories, so do the cues we give ourselves in life.  Often times fears creep into my life and keep me from doing what truly matters.


It's important to recognize the things we fear in life. Sometimes fear is couched in a shoulder shrug that is meant to make everyone (including myself) believe that I just don't care.  Sometimes I have a clenched feeling in my gut, my teeth ache from gnawing my jaw, and my head hurts from squinting pensively.  These are the more obvious indicators of fears as they manifest in tension and restlessness. Sometimes fear stares me boldly in the face and I pretend I don't see it.  (Visit previous blogs in which I discuss the fear of my husband's infidelity and his forays - yes, that is plural - into that arena.) In these instances, I chose to believe that ignorance is bliss.  But now I see that it's the little clues along the way that have become big indicators to me when something I fear is preventing me from living fully.

So what is it I fear that I've ignored for so very long?  I fear my own possibility.  I've hidden in my husband's shadow, I've placed my family's needs before my own, and I've managed to avoid time spent evaluating my desires and acting on them.  Sublimation of my potential came in the form of an eating disorder, too much television and an unhealthy relationship, among other things.  Last week, however, the world of possibilities opened up for me, bashed me over the head and said, "Get your shit together, lady." I was given some very meaningful honors as a filmmaker last week.  And in those moments I knew (in allcaps, underscored, bolded, italicized and spelled out letter-by-letter,) K N E W that I am meant to be a writer and director, and that my life would unfold in that direction if I let go of my fears.

So I did what any person in that situation would do.  I took my fears out on my ex-husband.  Luckily sanity returned fairly quickly, and no humans were harmed in the process of my temper tantrum. It's taken me about a week to get back to a place where I can contemplate moving forward with my film career.  I've been contemplating it for a long time in theory, but it is becoming very real to me now.  Soon my life will change in ways that I will never be able to unchange.  Again.  But this time I get to call the shots.  This time I get to say to my life, "It's time.  Grow.  Change.  Follow the beckoning future." My future is not being thrust at me by a person who failed me; it is being given to me on a silver platter, a gleaming, polished platter full of ripe and delicious fruits.  It is up to me to partake.

Just as the rules of grammar cannot be unlearned, I cannot unlearn the meaning behind this opportunity.  I can no longer hide from the truth of who I am. It is still frightening and painful, but I am aware of my self now.  I know I am growing, and I know I will get to a new place that has many opportunities, ripe and ready for the picking.

There is nothing left unsaid.  There is no need for an ellipsis.


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