Monday, May 31, 2010

You're not from around here, are you?

I don't talk like you.  I guarantee it.  It's the first thing people notice about me.  In fact, if I meet someone new and they DON'T mention the way I talk, I want to hug them and bless them and shower them with gifts.  I'm shy, I don't like the attention my dialect/accent gets me.  Once people notice, they stand around together and listen to me talk and then have discussions about it.  It mortifies me.  It's like having people stand around and talk about how strange your outfit is.  Apparently, I don't sound like anyone else.  If there are others with similar accents, I'd like to meet them.  We could go start a colony somewhere new and the first law enacted would be a ban on asking people where they're from or what kind of accent they have. 

It would be better if I'd move to a different part of the country or another country entirely. Then when people ask where I'm from, I could respond honestly and we could move on. I respond honestly now. I tell the inquisitors that I'm from HERE. Same place you are. Then they set about picking apart why I don't talk like everyone else. "Did you grow up here?" Born and raised. "Did you move away at some point?" Only a few hours. I've lived in a few other the SAME state. "Do your parents have an accent too?" Nope, they talk like the rest of you "normal" people. New conversation topic, please?!

I talk like an American Midwesterner except for a tendency to sound incredibly English, mostly at the ends of sentences and phrases.  This excites people.  They start talking with British accents.  It makes me want to find something heavy to clobber them with.  The other oddity is my pronunciation of certain words with R's, basically, if I don't sound British, I sound like a native New Yorker.  This one gets me the most attention, and thus, I'm the most sensitive about it. I've had two cabbies in the last few months INSIST that I must be from the East Coast. One of them refused to believe that I wasn't. The other? Well, let's just say I was having the world's shittiest day and didn't care to explain, so I just played along. That went well until he began to ask me questions I didn't know the answers to.  Oopsies. 

To make matters worse, I've complicated it over the years.  There was the year I was 14 and got so sick of all the comments that I just completely adopted an Irish accent. I thought if people wanted an accent, I'd give them an accent.  This still cracks me up.  The best part?  My parents made no mention of it whatsoever.  To be completely honest, they may not have noticed at all.  They sort of live in their own world.  My vowels are generally a mess.  Spending too many summers up North has made many of my O's sound very Scandinavian.  Think Minnesota, but with that whole "Da Yoopers, eh?" thing.  Everything else is mildly English with a smattering of Midwestern diphthongs.  Night.Mare.  I have relatives in North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and New Orleans, so on occasion, I sound twangy or like I'm mumbling around a mouthful of chewing tobacco.  Awesome, I know, right? 

During the last Presidential elections, my then fiancee and I attended a dinner party with a number of well-known politicians.  I really don't know how we got on the guest list, we were by far the youngest people there and certainly the poorest, but my ex had connections. The day of the dinner, my ex was getting dressed while I did my make-up and moaned about how I hate these kinds of gatherings, because you have to make small talk with people you don't know, and I have to pretend that I'm not an introvert and that I actually like people, and then they talk about my accent and it's embarrassing, etc. and my ex looked at me quizzically for a moment and said, "Oh, that?  I don't even hear it anymore."  And that's why I loved her, y'all.  You know who else didn't mention my accent that night?  Barack Obama.  So politics aside, I love him too. 

So, how do you talk?  And do you wanna trade accents?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Singing Sand

If you read my Impeccable Misfit blog, some of this will sound familiar.  Forgive me, I'm still processing.  Happier posts coming soon. 

This isn't getting easier.  If anything, it just hurts more.  You weren't supposed to die, Wren.  Especially not like that.  It was excrutiating to see you in immense pain, emaciated and weak, lying there limp and helpless as the cancer ravaged your body.  You were our strong one.  You, the stubborn, vibrant, independent, spit-fire.  How could anything have defeated you?  I miss your lion loyalty and rebellious spirit.  I ache for your soft-spoken gentleness; your soothing words when I'm sad or feel alone.  I grew up with you leading the way.  You blazed the paths through the deep snow, I just followed behind and used the footholds you created.  You were so powerful, so sure.  I believed everything you ever told me.  You never told me you were going to die.

Your mother blames the doctors.  Your sisters blame our society's treatment of cancer, modern medicine in general.  I blame...I don't know.  Sometimes God, except that I basically told Him to fuck off after you died.  It's hard to blame something I refuse to believe in.  I blame the gene mutation, the poisonous combination of chromosomes that you and I share.  My risk is higher than yours.  Why did YOU die?  Statistically, the cancer is supposed to hit me.  The genetic counselor couldn't even pretend to think I'd make it through life without getting it.  He kept saying "When you get cancer" instead of "If you get cancer."  I was twenty-two when I sat in that room, frozen, mind reeling, the damning numbers on the page a dizzying blur.  Those numbers were mine.  THEY WERE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE YOURS. 

I never thought you'd have the mutation too.  If you have it, it's possible your sisters do too.  It's possible your nieces do too.  Your sons?  They certainly have it and are unable to prevent passing it on to any daughters they father.  We could do this sickening dance of death again and again and again.  You knew that.  It terrified you.

I never told you I have the gene mutation too.  For a long while, I never told anyone what I learned in the genetics lab building, because it was depressing and there's nothing that can be done about it anyway.  I left the lab and dumped the test results and  pamphlets in a box in the back of my closet, unread.  I vowed that this cancer would NEVER touch my life.  I would simply refuse to permit it to.  I would put it out of my mind.  I did.  A few months later, you got sick.

You didn't tell me you were going away, I wasn't ready. There were things left unsaid. Dammit, I wasn't ready to lose you. The cancer was supposed to be in remission. We talked about the future. We planned your 40th birthday party. It never occurred to me that you weren't going to make it!  Fucking hell, Wren! Do you know how bad this hurts? Surely you must. You were the one who had to tell your children that your cancer was terminal. You were ripped away from your life and loved ones, extirpated. Your sons will get married and have children without you.  You didn't want that anymore than we did. I'm so sorry, love.  Sometimes I forget that you were heart-broken too.

Our nieces are delightful and amazing. They're brilliant, creative, kind, funny little people.  Most of them are stubborn, like us. You'd like that. That would secretly please you. I know, because it pleases me.  Sometimes, I glance at one of the girls and there it is, your grin.  It always takes me by surprise.  Once in a while, I catch a glimpse of you in my own reflection.  I'd never before noticed the similarities in our faces.  The year after you died, your mom, sisters, and I took the girls to your beach.  We taught them how to make the sand sing.  We held their hands and ran with them.  You were supposed to be the one to teach them that.  I wish you could have seen their little faces.  They were awestruck by the magic of your singing sand.

You shared my adoration of the little ones.  Loving them with you is one of the things I miss the most.  I love them extra hard now, trying to love them for both of us..trying to make up for your absence.  It hurts like hell.  The girls are the biggest source of beauty and joy in my life.  They talk about you.  They hurt too.  They don't understand why you died.  I talk to them gently, trace the freckles on their cheeks and stroke their heads.  I cheer them on until I'm hoarse.  I throw myself full-force into loving them.  I try so hard to love them for both of us.  It is both the best and the most painful thing I've ever done.  It is the one thing I am sure I am not fucking up in my life. Even so, all my love isn't enough, Wren.  I know it isn't.  My love doesn't bring you back to them.  I'm unable to give them the memories and experiences with you that they would have cherished.

But when we are sad or weary or crabby, I take them to the water.  I take them to your beach with the singing sand.  And we run, our bare feet kicking up the sand, the way you ran before.

I love you, Wren.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Chin Up

Hey Wren,
I came home from work and wrote about you, worked on a draft that still isn't quite right.  Writing about you thinking about you Trying to make sense of your death is hard.  Realizing how much you're missing out on and how much I still miss you is heart-wrenching.  It is dreadfully painful.  We still need you.  The little girlies are bigger now.  Some of them will have little or no memory of you.  I feel physically ill just typing that.  I wrote about you until I had to leave to run errands that wouldn't get done otherwise. Today I remembered the way you used to say "Chin up, little one," when I was discouraged.  I haven't thought of that in over a decade.  I needed it today.  Thanks. Miss you like hell.

Love you, Celine

PS In keeping with your "chin up" crap I ignored my budget today and bought more postcards for post-crossing and also an outrageously bright nail polish.  I cannot believe I bought such an obnoxious color.  It's all wrong for me; much too flashy for the shy, low-key girl who tries to blend into the woodwork.  I'm definitely painting my toes and maybe even my fingers.  Just for you.  Chin up.

****Edited to add pic****
Yes, i still have paint on my skin, it'll come off in the shower.  Isn't the color attrocious?  I grin like a jack-o-lantern whenever I catch a glimpse of it.  Fingers are painted too.  The last time I painted my toes and fingers was the day of Wren's memorial service.  Wren died 3 years ago today.  I'm not sad.  She's finally free from the pain.  There won't be any new inside jokes, but the old ones still make me smile.  The nail polish joke is one of my favorites, but I'm not explaining it. *grin* Next time, I'm getting a putrid purple.

Thirteen and Killing Me

A while back I had a phone conversation with my 13 year old niece...

"I'm old enough for my own Facebook page!" She informed me.

"You are?" I asked a little too brightly, trying to mask the horror in my voice.

"Yeah! I'm thirteen! I've got boobs and my period and everything! Isn't that great?" she chirped away, cheerfully.

I'm sorry, dear girl.  I'd answer you, but that loud THUD was the sound of Aunt Celine's unconscious body hitting the floor. You unknowingly just rubbed my nose in the one thing I've been desperately hoping to prevent. Having failed to stop it, I was still quite happy to nurse denial, but alas, I can't avoid it. You aren't a little girl anymore.

However, having said that, let's have a little chat about that Facebook page, shall we? I want you to remove your last name, your birth date and age, the name of the small town you live in, and the name of your middle school. I would just as soon you not have that photo of your cherubic, sweet young face up there, but as long as you don't "friend" anyone you don't know VERY WELL, I'll compromise on that. On the other hand, I will NOT compromise on those two "Lover of the Day" applications that randomly assign you a daily sexual partner from your group of friends. Are you trying to kill me? Obviously, you are not allowed to have sex until you are 40 or I am dead, which ever happens second.

Aunt Celine