Off the Record

"when i first discovered the internet and the wonderful world of email, i threw everything i learned in grammar school out my office window.that included the upper and lower case rule of capitalization. why exert all that effort in pounding down on the capital keys when you can ramble on twice as fast without suffering from shiftus interruptus? best of all, nobody corrects you, not even the internet.when writing emails to my buddies, i type to my heart's content via outlook express, knowing that a red-penciled english teacher or picky copy editor isn't gonna mess with my's liberating not worrying about which words to capitalize. no caps is the modern day version of passing notes in class...and not getting caught. no caps is freedom at the keyboard...sort of like jazz. no caps is where it's at.i know it's annoying to some. take my friend christi, who I recently reunited with after 30 years. we were high school buddies in arlington, and although she was a year behind me, we're on a committee that's putting together a triple bypass class reunion of the classes of 1968, 1969 and 1970.her initial response to my lower case lust was what's with the no capitals, susan? is it because you're a writer? i jokingly replied that i was reliving my e.e. cummings days, and she seemed to be satisfied with that explanation. but at our initial reunion meeting, she was more than eager to share my no caps vice with our classmates. i wonder if there's a 12-step program for those who just can't quit?it's true that I went through an e.e. cummings phase. not only did i religiously read his poems; i printed and typed in lower case just to let people know i knew the man. Although i did graduate from my girlish habit of using a tiny heart to dot my 'i's, i'm sure my newfound no caps affectation was just as irritating.this was about the same era i devoured the works of the russian poet yevengy yevtushenko, influenced by my european boyfriend. cummings was swiftly relegated to the back of my bookcase, but fortunately I didn't switch to writing in russian. e.e. eventually returned to the forefront after the boyfriend went bye-bye.edward estlin cummings (1894-1962) was a harvard graduate, served in the ambulance corps in france during world war I and was an artist and prolific writer. he produced novels, plays and more than 900 poems. cummings was a typographic innovator, too, feeling that both the look and content of his work were equally important. Spring is like a perhaps hand is but one example of his distinct style:Spring is like a perhaps hand(which comes carefullyout of Nowhere) arranginga window,into which people look(whilepeople starearranging and changing placingcarefully there a strangething and a known thing here)andchanging everything carefullyspring is like a perhapsHand in a window(carefully toand fro moving New and Old things,whilepeople stare carefullymoving a perhapsfraction of flower here placingan inch of air there)andwithout breaking anything. lovely words about a lovely season...but i give up. it's way too hard doing no caps in microsoft word. unlike the internet, that doesn't automatically change every word you write, microsoft mama is always every uncapped 'i' (as in me) and at the beginning of each and every sentence. microsoft mama changes 'wrongs' into 'rights' without even asking my permission. and do you know what an ordeal it is going through spell check and clicking 'ignore' to every so-called error that I make?it's enough to make e.e. cummings cry.Sue Frause can be reached by email at"

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