The trauma of packing is emotional baggage.

I went on a trip last week.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking and no, the sentence above has nothing to do with frowned-upon hallucinogens. I really did go on a trip.

I won’t delve into details, but it was fun. Which was unfortunate, because then I couldn’t really complain about anything (although my mother will testify to the fact that I did make a good effort).

So I’ve decided to complain about what comes before a trip – the packing.

I consider bag-packing to be the single biggest First World Problem. I am a perfectionist and an undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive, so for me, packing is synonymous with a nervous breakdown. Even if I need to pack for just a couple of days, I end up on the ground hugging my knees and rocking back and forth in the foetal position while weeping copiously.

The problem is that I don’t really think about packing until the day before I am scheduled to leave. I call this ‘denial’. And when the day finally comes, I am too busy making lists of what to pack to actually pack anything. My mother calls this ‘lunacy’.

Example of my list of things to pack:
Glasses
Spare glasses
Glasses case
Paper towels to clean glasses
Cleaning liquid for glasses
Small pouch to put the glasses equipment in
Clothes

Once I’m done with my extremely comprehensive list, I have to look for each item. Now I think it’s a universally accepted fact that you never find anything that you’re looking for. There is one exception to this rule however – my mother. Suppose I’m looking for my glasses (yes, this is a recurring theme here). I know it’s on my desk and I scan every corner of it for hours and hours, but I can’t find it anywhere. I go outside for a second to call my mother. We come back to the room, and there it is, sitting right in the middle of the desk, a golden beam of light falling squarely on it. I can almost hear the choir of angels singing.

True story.

My mother’s very presence can make objects appear miraculously. Sometimes even the mere mention of my mother’s name does the trick.

Anyway, once I’ve found whatever I need to pack, I’m tasked with the laborious job of putting everything inside the suitcase. As I said before, being an obsessive perfectionist, I cannot rest until and unless every single object fits neatly into its predetermined slot. This…um, let’s say inclination, sometimes has dangerous repercussions. The Great Jeans Crisis of 2012, for instance. I had to fit four pairs of jeans in enough space for three. Let’s just say the crisis ended in a mess of scissors, torn denim and attempted murder.

Now that I think of it, attempted murder features heavily in stories of my packing crises.

Usually to prevent such catastrophes, I make a mind map – a layout of how I plan to arrange my stuff in the suitcase. Shirts in the top right hand corner, jeans in the bottom right hand corner and so on. Sometimes, though, I get a little bit carried away. I once made a large schematic annotated diagram of how to fit every single item required for a seven-day trip in one suitcase. And then, in a fit of misplaced enthusiasm, promptly proceeded to tear it in half. Two-thirds, more like.

So I didn’t go on the trip.

To be fair, my not going on the trip had more to do with me falling ill the next day. But I strongly suspect that my illness was, in fact, a case of nervous breakdown which I owe to the mind map fiasco. Alright, I admit, the doctor said that it was simply a case of the ’flu. I think he’s wrong, because one of his suggestions was that I “drink plenty of fluids”. I don’t trust anyone who says ‘fluids’.

Getting back to the topic at hand: packing. Alright, so I’ve found my stuff and (somehow) stuffed it into the bag. Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that I haven’t suffered a breakdown yet. There’s only one thing left to do now – to lock the suitcase. Now, most suitcases have number locks, and by now, you probably know about my password problem. To put it succinctly: I have the memory of a goldfish in a retirement…well, bowl. In fact, I can’t even remember why I decided to use such an asinine analogy in the first place.

And now I’ve had an epiphany.

You know that John Denver song where he croons, “I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again.”

I know now why he was so unsure about coming back:
He’d have to pack again.

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I didn’t choose the Grammar Nazi life – the Grammar Nazi life chose me.

The title of this post was originally meant to be ‘Lessuns in Grammer, Speling and Puncshuashun’. That didn’t work out because I was afraid that, had I clicked the ‘publish’ button, I would have to walk around with that disturbingly flawed title on my conscience for the rest of my life. I would probably get a big black X beside my name in my Life Book.  So I decided to stick with the clichéd but grammatically accurate ‘I didn’t choose the Grammar Nazi life – the Grammar Nazi life chose me.’

Please forgive my OCD.

I’m very ashamed to admit that I am a Grammar Nazi. I’d like to blame it on my genes, but I can’t. Alarmingly, my mother has no qualms about using ‘who’ in place of ‘whom’. It shocks me that my mother, my mother, would let her grammar fall into such a state of disarray. It’s having an impact on me as well. I’ve fallen into the bad habit of using semi-colons when colons will suffice. I have to do something about this before I end up being entirely gangsta. Just imagine – I may start scribbling ‘Mushroomsup rox!’ in library books.

I digress.

I’m not proud of being a grammar Nazi. It’s a disease. When somebody says “What is the time in your watch?” my immediate response is “by your watch.” I like to think that I’ve taught the inquirer something new, but in fact, all they’ve learnt is that they should never ask me for the time. It’s quite sad, actually. The inquirer has left to ask someone else for the time, while I’m sitting there all alone, telling myself, “It is half past three by my watch.” The same thing happens when someone says, “[Insert Name] and me will grab a bite on the way out.” I can barely stop myself from shaking them by the shoulders and weeping, “It’s [Insert name] and I, for heaven’s sakes! [Insert name] and I!

The average Grammar Nazi has no friends. When someone says, “I’m headed for the movie theatre, would you like to come?” the grammar Nazi is busy wondering whether it is ‘headed for’ or ‘headed to’. It’s a lonely life in Grammar-ny (If that didn’t make you think of Germany, I apologize – making terrible puns is another characteristic of a Grammar Nazi).

Every time I write a post for this blog, I spend most of my time rushing to check grammar forums to see if I have used a certain word correctly and in the right grammatical context. If I can’t find the answer on grammar forums, I’m forced to resort to asking my mother. I get on her nerves. Sometimes I get on my own nerves.

Spoken grammar is nothing when it comes to comparing it with written grammar – social networking is enough to propel a Grammar Nazi to suicide. I know I’m being a prick when I comment ‘*You’re, not your’ on injudiciously titled photographs, but I just can’t help it. I feel compelled to educate the world, no matter how unwilling my pupils are. The Grammar Nazi’s job is the most underappreciated job in the world.

One of my pet peeves is people using more than one exclamation mark or question mark at the end of a sentence. Why would they do that? Do they want to convey a level of surprise or inquisitiveness that one single exclamation/ question mark cannot handle? Is there a set of rules I haven’t heard about? Perhaps one exclamation mark indicates mild surprise, two indicate shock and horror, three indicate eye-popping disbelief, and so on. Still, I haven’t heard of these rules, and this trend shall continue to annoy me until someone draws my attention to such a set of rules. As a rule, all Grammar Nazis love rules.

I like the fact that Microsoft Word and most word processors have an ability to check spelling and grammar. I do have a bit of an ego when it comes to spelling and grammar check, though. I’m glad when Word corrects others, but I’m not so happy when it corrects me.  I hate those little red and green lines under the words and the ominous command ‘Fragment – consider revising.’ I’ll have you know, Microsoft Word, that I’m extremely partial to sentence fragments. They’re my favourite kind of grammatical error. If there’s one grammatical mistake I’ll tolerate, it’s a sentence fragment. Also, don’t try to correct my spelling errors. Seriously; you don’t want to mess with me.

I’ll conclude with some advice: Never ask a Grammar Nazi to proof read anything you’ve written. You WILL regret it. By the time the Grammar Nazi’s done, you’ll be weeping in despair. The Grammar Nazi will then comfort you by saying, “There, they’re, their.”