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French Influence on the English Language

Some days, nothing quite hits the spot like a cheeseburger. Maybe you like yours with just the basics — ketchup and/or mustard or mayo, a few pickles, cheese. Or maybe you want all the fixings, lettuce, tomato, onions, bacon (yes, please!).

Whatever your preference, imagine you have one just to your liking right in front of you. The bun is fresh, the veggies are crisp, the cheese is melted just right, all the perfect complement to the main attraction — the nice, thick, juicy … cow patty. (Cue the record scratching.)

If all of the English language followed the same…


The Anxiety of Having a Baby Later in Life

I sat on the edge of my bed and had a good cry. I had been 40 years old for about a month, and for the entire seven years of our marriage, my husband and I had been trying for a baby. Time and again, my body disappointed me.

And now, I was 40. The big 4–0, and staring down menopause. I let myself cry over it, but I knew I had a choice. Never being a mom wasn’t the life I hoped for, but it could be a good life, too — if I let it. …


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Here’s What Happened When I Fact-Checked A Friend

Those of us who use social media need to power up our BS detectors and turn them up to 11, especially with the U.S. general election now less than two months away.

An internet search on “how to combat fake news” or “fighting disinformation” brings up no shortage of recommendations from news agencies and think tanks. One of the more expansive ideas comes from the Brookings Institute. In December 2017, the organization posted on its website a proposal that the government, journalists, businesses, consumers, tech companies, and educators all work together to weed out false information, rebuild trust in the…


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How Confident Are You in Your Grammar Knowledge?

Quick question: In U.S. English, should a comma be inside or outside quotation marks?

Two years ago, I would have answered without missing a beat, “Inside. Definitely.” After proofreading and editing for newspapers for more than 20 years, I believed my knowledge of U.S. grammar to be rock solid.

Today, though, I googled it.

Doubt can spread like a wildfire; for me, a career change was the spark and the internet the accelerant.

I took a job as a technical writer for a private company a little over a year ago. …


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My Dad Has Surgery Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

As I drove up to the hospital doors, I could see a staff member stationed at the entry through the glass. She watched me as I got out of my car and walked in.

“My dad has back surgery this morning,” I said, “and he’ll need a wheelchair.”

She hollered to another worker and then walked with me back outside. By then, Mom had gotten out of the car, too, and had opened the door for Dad.

He stayed in the car until another staff member appeared with a wheelchair and parked it next to his door. He slowly lifted…


It’s time to give my kid — and myself — a break from the news

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On a recent afternoon, my husband and I had a conversation with our eight-year-old about how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect us for the foreseeable future. Officials closed her school nearly two weeks ago, but for the most part, my husband’s and my work routines had been unchanged.

Then finally, he got word that he will be working from home most days.

We want to be open with her about the decisions we’re making, so we asked her if she understood how the change meant she would not be going to daycare unless absolutely necessary. …


If I have clicked on your story, I have clapped for you

Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

Humorist David Sedaris was not what I expected. He was slight, barely taller than the podium he stood behind. But what he lacked in height, he more than made up for in talent.

It was around 2008, a few years before we became parents. Back then, my husband and I had disposable income for events like this, concerts, plays, one-man shows.

Sedaris read essays from his latest work, When You Are Engulfed in Flames. His inflections and timing were spot-on, making me laugh so hard my abs hurt. …


How a co-worker’s outburst prompted me to learn more

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“Where do they get that crap? It’s cyclical!”

My co-worker startled me. At the time, we worked together at a newspaper, editing content, writing headlines and designing news pages. I had given him one of my proofs to give a final read-through, and this was how he brought it back to me.

I looked at him with all the bewilderment one would have if approached by a co-worker who appeared hostile for no reason.

“It’s cyclical!” he repeated, banging his pointer finger against the proof, and then he angry-walked back to his desk.

I turned my attention to the proof…


I will always root for newspapers to recover

I owe a lot to newspapers.

For a combined 22 years, newspapers gave me a creative outlet and money for food and shelter. They introduced me to kindred spirits who geek out on city politics, grammar, and local plays. A newspaper brought my husband into my life, and without him, I wouldn’t have my smart, silly, unicorn-loving girl.

Because of this chapter of my life, I am more aware of and enlightened by the people in my community, the heroes, the villains, the survivors, the leaders, the creatives, the athletes … and the people who are a little bit of…


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“Tell your story.” That’s what Medium’s template says. If only I knew my stories better. They seem so … out of reach.

Snippets of writing ideas go wherever I go, but always they keep their distance. Are they following me? Am I following them? I’m not sure.

Pinning them down is like trying to fish a bar of soap out of a bathtub. Just when I think I’ve got one, it slips right out of my hands.

They travel with me to work, but not as passengers in my minivan. Nope. They go zooming past me in my dream car…

C.B. Peterson

Tech writer by day, writer of whatever comes to mind by night. Also former newspaper copy editor, page designer, social media manager and graphics artist.

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