Little Improvement

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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.

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On the Tip of my Tongue

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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.

The First Smile of the Day

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Bombarded, tormented, overwhelmed, I went to bed last night. Meditation helped to calm the rush of my thoughts, but the cacophony never stays silent for long. I slept. I woke up. My first thought when I wake up is always, “NO! Please. No, not again.”

A rough morning. In bed with my thoughts while my husband attempts to get the kids to do their homework. Feeling hopeless.

I cry, but I know tears won’t fix anything. My husband brings me coffee and something to break my fast. I eat and drink and listen to an audio book. I play Bejeweled. I work on losing my accent; it disgusts me.

I have determined to rid myself of the vexing accent. But, like everything else detestable about myself, it continues to force itself upon me unwanted.

The American accent is hard, ugly. It sticks out like an extremely sore thumb. It’s distressingly unmusical sounding. Rough…and comical. It sounds uneducated, even if one has been an academic and applied themselves to learning.

It’s another of my exercises in futility; another losing battle. But…I keep trying.

I don’t know why it should be so difficult for me to affect the superior, musical lilt. I’m a musician. A singer. This would suggest that I have a good ear, that I am able to match pitch and mimic sound. I DO IT ALL THE BLOODY TIME. I should be able to “sing” the “song” of received English just the same.

But, I should be able to make phone calls, too.

Yeah… sigh and #!*%¡*¢!

Needing a lyre harp and being unable to get one (everyone who sells the ones I can afford insist on using paypal…why can’t they just take plastic??? And, no, don’t tell me how brilliant paypal is; it really isn’t…and anyway, the bottom line is, I can’t get my harp).

Obsessed and tormented. A morning of frustrated tears.

Then. I asked Jamie to bring me a big shirt to put on…me being sans clothing and thinking about getting out of bed. I referred to my nakedness. He smiled and cupped my breast in his hand. Suddenly, my face, there it was: the first smile of the day.

My husband locked the door and the therapy continued.

Music is therapeutic. Meditation is therapeutic. I regularly post about my therapies of choice. Sex is a particularly excellent one.

Why? Like music, there is surrender and abandon; it overcomes the mind and can drown out the cacophony. Also, there’s the giving aspect: I’m not only receiving pleasure (and therapy), I’m giving therapy. It’s good medicine.

Sexual healing. It’s not just a song. It’s a science. My smile is proof. 

Desperation and obsession still assault me, desire, frustration, exhaustion… but, any moment of relief, delight is something so precious, something to be grateful for. As I write, the smile makes another appearance. And, I’ll finish this post with the meme I made for my FB page yesterday:

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