“Sometimes…words only get in the way.
They’re not enough, or they’re too much.”
– Autumn Dawn Leader
I only write today to put down some of what I’m feeling.
I suppose this anger has its root in resistance, in wishing things to be other than they are…wishing myself other than I am.
My frazzled, anxious state. I detest feeling this way, but this is the way it is.
Anger at my inability, my disability, dysfunction.
I slightly changed my voicemail message. A while back I recorded a message telling callers, basically, “I don’t make or answer phone calls; hang up and text.” I re-recorded the message today, using my improving accent.
I get a lot of automated calls, so no matter what the message says, it won’t make a difference to those.
Sometimes, I get a call from “private number”. I wonder who’s on the other end of that line. But, while curious, I don’t spend too much time thinking about it; if they wanted to reach me, they’d text – or, as I said in my re-recorded message today, use a carrier pigeon or send a smoke signal.
I know I’m getting worse, and it makes me want to withdraw more. I dread any social encounter; my nerves are frayed.
But, improvement is still improvement even if it is only little. I should be pleased with my progress so far, and not beat myself up for the slow going nature of said progress.
I’m speaking of my accent, of course. If you’ve been following my recent posts you will have read of my obsession to rid myself of my native American accent, and replacing it with the tone of my residence. Living in the UK for over a decade now, I had hoped – assumed – that my accent would naturally soften and, by osmosis, I would gradually, but surely, lose the harsh American sound to my speaking voice. Like in so many other things, I’ve been woefully disappointed. After so many years with so little softening, I’ve come to the conclusion that hard work and retraining is the only way to get what I want. But, hard work is what it is. Very hard work.
I have undertaken elocution exercises. And, I am finding, like all physical exercise, it causes me a great deal of pain. My whole head aches with the effort.
Today, after the school run, I decided I would record some of this baby step yet painful progress, with the idea to share it here. I went to the computer…
I haven’t recorded anything since we got a new computer and everything was different. My recording software, the operating system. Different now. I’ve been avoiding recording anything lately because… well, I didn’t have anything desperately pressing on me to record (people still aren’t beating down my door for my music), but more because of the changes to what I was used to and could use well.
The new computer was given to us…and, I’m not ungrateful…but, it hadn’t really been given with helping me out in mind, but more for my husband and the children. Granted our old one was on its last circuity legs, but I was on firm footing with it and it was only that familiarity that allowed me to use it to record two albums and all my singles. It was a crap piece of machinery, but I did do true wonders with it.
So, school run done, I approached the new with trepidation, and…
Autism reared its head and I found myself unable to navigate the changes.
Frustrated and in tears, I walked away from the strange and hostile hardware and software. Talk about your technical difficulties.
Now, I have a voice recorder on my phone, but I can’t, for whatever reason, upload what I record there. I can share it via whatsapp message, but it won’t go anywhere else.
I resorted to downloading the soundcloud app on my phone, so I could use my existing soundcloud account.
After several attempts at getting it right, the above recording is what I settled with sharing here.
What I recorded yesterday, on my phone voice recorder, sounds better…truer. But, this is what I could manage today. It’s one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and one that particularly resonates with me.
Shakespeare is a benchmark, a starting point. The language and rhythm is helpful to mastering the necessary cadence. I know, I’m far from mastering anything here. And, there I go, beat beat beat, smash, hate myself for…
all my inability.
Can I go to bed now, wretched world? No. Now, it’s nearly time to pick the kids back up from school.
I’ve wasted a whole day. My God, how miserable.
But, even pain sounds better in an English accent. Too bad my pain is simply and acutely painful and doesn’t yet – and might never – have that “better” thing going for it.
I leave you with the Bard and my imperfect voicing of his brilliant words.
I don’t like life. The always-struggle. Going to bed exhausted. Waking in pain, still exhausted. The ever-failure. Aching. Longing for rest. For ease.
Yesterday, I posted about my endeavour – my obsession – to rid myself of the despised American accent. Today, I don’t want to have to think so hard before uttering a word. Or, better yet, I’d rather not have to utter a word – or a breath – at all.
My body is exhausted. My soul is weary. All I am is tired. I have nothing to give today but pain and frustration. No energy even to scream MAKE IT STOP. No energy left to finish this post…
So, the mad compulsion to blog has lifted; I’m not feeling any desire to post everyday. Other obsessions linger, one being this matter of divesting myself of the American accent.
Some may criticise me in this endeavour. Those are people who identify me as American. But, that is not my identity.
True identity is a spiritual thing having nothing to do with where a person is born or grew up; the soul has no nationality. Therefore, I feel no loyalty to my native accent and I wish, as someone who makes much of tune and tone, to replace it with what I know to be more aesthetic to the ear.
Thus, I’m training my tongue with proper elocution exercises. And, I’m finding it a strenuous workout indeed.
When I told my husband about how these exercises strengthen the tongue, he remarked that, perhaps, he ought to try them, too. He said it with a sly grin – the perv (and, I love him for it) – and I mentioned something about the “cunning linguist” and we both dissolved into laughter.
Ouch. My tongue hurts. This certainly isn’t for the faint of heart…or mouth, as the case may be. But, my determination persists. I must make my tongue know what my ear understands, and I must make my ear all the more sensitive.
To do this, I am talking to myself… I mean more so than usual. Practising. My social anxiety presents a serious obstacle to my endeavour…it all tends to fall apart when I go out my door and I am immediately put under pressure. My speech just starts to sound better…and, then, damn it, I have to talk to someone! Irony, anyone?
I suppose, the thing is, I hate labels and boxes and typecasting. Someone hears an American accent here, and suddenly there’s the box, the confinement. I’d like them to see me before there is a judgment made that doesn’t apply to me but will be attributed to me nonetheless simply because humans are too stupid to look past something so superficial.
Elocution used to be taught in schools. There used to be a standard. Now, well…I suppose one might say that standard is just another box. But, I won’t play devil’s advocate here on my own blog. Here, this one place where I have my say. But, at the very least, I don’t think a desire to improve one’s speech (whatever the reason) could be considered, in any way, a negative thing.
The aim is merely to improve. Perfection is not in my reach. As I say, practice may NEVER make perfect, but it CAN make BETTER.
Better. I’m not getting any. I mean with the health issues. But, this – the accent thing – is something for me to focus on. I know, I know. Right now, it isn’t a focus, it’s an obsession, a compulsion…a madness. I’m mad.
Yes, I’m mad. I’m not even allowed to be eccentric. Because, you have to have money in order to be eccentric. I know what I am: ill. But, surely a sick person with a lovely accent is better than just a sick person.
So, until this present obsession lifts (i.e. I get too frustrated with myself for continual failure), or I get my lyre harp (the other great obsessive craving of right now), I will work on this project of ridding myself of the American accent for which I have developed such a personal distaste… and, it would seem, my tongue’s going to ache. And, hopefully, at some point, others in the outside world will be able to hear all the hard work. I can, you know, only hope.