Why I like diagramming sentences

Errant droplets of tea create a path in my apartment, clinging to the lip of my favorite owl mug until they fall. When I can’t make sense of my life, I pour a mug of tea and pace.

Sometimes as I pace, I find myself trying to strip pivotal conversations of their emotional value; break them down into something formulaic, impersonal. An unexpected application of my English degree.

A few days ago I found myself dwelling on the end of a relationship, rereading old text messages as I admit I’m prone to do. Rather than succumb to the usual, toxic practice of pinpointing specific places I could have been funnier/wittier/smarter/etc., I began diagramming and labeling the verbs in my mind. Intransitive, monotransitive, ditransitive, copula, complex transitive. I plotted the form of each sentence, using colored text, italics and returns to reimagine my pain as a pattern, one I can plot, map and organize.

The terminology I once feared has become not an academic tool, a means of getting an A on the next essay, but a means for visualizing disappointment — proof that my pain exists in tangible, color-codable clarity.

I’m no longer worried about how I could have been funnier/wittier/smarter/etc. I was and am a complete being; my writing, whether it’s a text, tweet, press release or letter, reveals my pattern of thinking, feeling, being.

Tangibly mapping language is proof that my feelings and pain are real — that I’m real. Proof that order can exist amid erratic emotions and hurt that resurfaces when unexpected.

Each familiar sentence form and unconsciously recurring verb form are proof that the only thing I ever am — and will ever be — is authentically, innately me.

The girl who should probably buy a coaster for each piece in her mug collection, regularly spills her tea and diagrams sentences in her free time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *