All posts by David Root

The Consultant Diaries: Meet David

Hai! My name’s David, and I’ve been a Writing Center consultant for three months. This is my first consultant diary, so I thought I would talk about what I find most rewarding about this wonderful job.

When I transferred to Michigan State last fall, I came to The Writing Center mainly looking for a steady university job that put my writing skills to use. Coming from spending a year at my last college’s newspaper publication as a section editor and writer, I imagined working in a writing center to be very similar to my work at the (shameless plug) White Pine Press.

Boy was I wrong.

The day I visited Bessey Hall to find out how to join up, a workshop was being conducted for what I assume to be a group of freshmen teaching them what the writing center was. As I waited to meet with our receptionist, Cathy, I passively listened to the workshop taking place. ‘Is this all I’m going to be doing here?’ I thought, suddenly immensely grateful for taking a Public Speaking class in the spring. But when I was told I would be required to enroll in a 3 credit class as part of my training to become a writing consultant, my expectations went from simple presentations explaining writing styles and grammar rules to something much, much bigger. Continue reading

Finals Week: a brief novel

In case you’ve been in a complete utter state of denial, it’s finals week! Now, don’t have a panic attack just yet; in the midst of your endless anxiety and sleep deprivation trying to study and finish those final essays, why not reflect on how you prepared (or more likely didn’t) for this moment through a series of BuzzFeed-esque gifs? (As a millennial and former Journalism major with exactly one semester of JRN credits under my belt, I am extremely overqualified to create such blatant slaps to the face of actual journalism)

Remember when you got back from spring break, freshly done with midterms, and started hearing your professors say phrases like ‘this will be on the final’? Yeah. Me too.

But you probably didn’t start studying/writing until, what, last week? And the moment you realized you hadn’t even thought about your final essay probably looked something like this:

Then came the writer’s block-filled process of trying to make sense of what little you remember from that 8:30am lecture:

And all your friends who, unlike you, actually prepared early for exams and kept making plans without you while you’re stuck in your room watching all their Instagram pics that you should be in like:

But then the second they actually asked you to come hang out and you knew they were aware of your insane workload:

Now, exam week has arrived, and every morning you wake up looking for a way out like:

But final-ly (pun intented), the moment your anxiety reaches its peak, the test begins, and you come to terms with your mistakes:

And just like that, finals are over.

Time to party. Or re-enroll in the same classes again for next semester. But either way; party.

When Not Keeping it Oxford Goes Wrong

The serial comma, more commonly referred to as the Oxford comma, has been recognized as the standard for descriptive sentence structure in English writing. Despite this acceptance, some critics claim it still holds a potential of introducing unnecessary ambiguity in certain contexts. These critics fail to realize that sometimes a little ambiguity is far better than complete and total miscommunication.

For instance, take this classic example of when foregoing the oxford comma goes terribly wrong:

‘Here we see the hookers, Hitler and Kennedy.’

Wait, since when have Hitler and Kennedy been prostitutes? First Washington’s wooden teeth, and now this?! What else have my history professors been lying to me about?! Next you’ll tell me most of the founding fathers were slave owning plantation owners. Blasphemy!

There is a glitch in the Matrix, people; this world’s not real, and it’s all because someone didn’t use the oxford comma when they really, really should have. Now let’s see how the sentence reads when we include the oxford comma:

‘Here we see the hookers, Hitler, and Kennedy.’

Wow! Much better! Instead of introducing a strange alternate universe wherein two of the most charismatic political leaders of the 20th century have resorted to selling their historically topical bodies for cash, we are relieved to see that the patriarchal nature of western society has been restored. Well, not exactly relieved, but still. South Park-esque stag parties in the underworld aside (let’s not forget about that whole Marilyn Monroe thing), the importance of the oxford comma has never been clearer.

Or dirtier.

Here’s another disturbingly off-putting Oxford comma mishap, courtesy of clevergirlhelps.tumblr.com. Context is everything, people.

We picked up tonight’s dinner, rat poison and nitroglycerin. 

Now it’s your turn! Try to come up with your own ridiculous examples of when not keeping it Oxford goes wrong, and leave them in the comments section below! And always remember to keep it Oxford!