So with my last post, I covered some pretty heavy topics and unpleasant truth, and this time is no different, really.
Last time I still had faith in my country and my senators to do the right thing. No, I didn’t, that’s a lie. Last time I still thought that maybe enough of the people elected to represent us would want to represent us and listen to us. No, again, that is a lie.
Female Student: [cannot hear him/her]
Learn to see yourself in context. If you feel like an impostor because you don’t know or can’t do a particular thing, think about that thing. Is that skill or content crucial? If so, can you acquire it? Not because you want to belong but because it may make you more effective or productive. And if it doesn’t actually matter, think about why it is that others have it and you don’t (assuming you really don’t and aren’t just being hard on yourself or inflating other people’s capabilities). Maybe there are real and good reasons why that wasn’t part of your background or education.
I don’t want a master’s in interpreting. I don’t see the point in it, to be honest. I learn on the job, every day. I go to workshops. I study other signed languages. But then I see someone sign something so perfectly, so succinctly, with so much meaning packed into such an economy of movement and handshape and I just want to turn in my letter of resignation and go home.
But I don’t do that. Of course I don’t. Not even when – on various occasions, from the beginning of my career to present – colleagues that either don’t sign at all or don’t sign well enough to interpret or aren’t really even sure what it is I do try to make decisions for me about my work. I should be incensed! I should be furious! I should stand up for me and what I know!
Instead, I scuttle back into my place in the universe and wait for the inevitable revealing of me as a fraud. Writing has done nothing to help this syndrome, either – if anything, it has made it so much worse. I give my manuscripts to my beta readers, breath held, heart rate on par with a disco beat – and I fully expect that they will look at what I have done and know that I am not a real author. My sentences are run-ons and full of too many ellipses and dashes. My characters are stock, storylines/plot so ridden with outdated tropes that you almost don’t have to read them to know where they are going. My dialogue swings madly from stilted to entirely too much in the vernacular of both South Carolina and West Yorkshire that it makes no sense to anyone.
And while we’re at it – international expat? Ha. You lived there two years, and you let the death of your pets in the first two months color the entirety of your life in the UK. You’re no expat. You’re just a frightened child. You’re a fraud.
WOW, who let her out? The author of the article goes on to mention a specific piece of advice that I am trying to follow in my daily life – something that would be hard even without the aforementioned voice screaming in the back of my head. (Interesting side note: to those that have read my fantasy series, this is where the idea for how Ben communicates with Gin came from: THIS RIGHT HERE.)
Stay concrete. Impostor syndrome feeds off vagaries and generalities. “I’m not good/smart/charismatic/funny/self-assured enough.” What’s enough? Who is all of those things? What is “good” anyway?
What happened politically in the US this weekend has cranked up the volume on the impostor syndrome, let me tell you. Remember the woman I mentioned last week? All of those feelings, all of those experiences – they not only lead to a strapping case of this syndrome but they help feed it and make it worse. Everything from why would you think anyone would listen to you to the ever present you must be remembering it wrong because why would anyone want to do that to YOU?
All this to say I don’t have an answer for this yet. I haven’t found a magic pill that will take these feelings away and silence that inner voice that delights in waiting until I’m about to fall asleep to remind me of all the reasons I’m going to be found out very soon. But I’m still looking, and in the mean time I’m trying to keep her as far as I can in the background.
|She truly was transcontinental.|
You know, I’m sitting here staring at the blank screen and can’t even bring myself to type the words that she’s gone…and she’s been gone for two months now. I still expect to come home and hear her whistling from the bedroom, demanding that I hurry up and let her out. But the whistle has fallen silent.
I listen for her toenails on the hardwood floors and remember how, when we lived in the UK, she made no sound at all on the carpet and could sneak up on me, suddenly jamming that needle nose into my ear and exhaling. There’s nothing in my ear now, no cold nose or loud exhalation of warm doggie breath. It’s just silent.
I call the other two dogs by her name and they look at me, with a mixture (I think) of confusion and sadness, wondering simultaneously who I am talking to and where Daisy is. I wonder that too. Is she with the Fab Five Plus Clowny? Are they now the Magnificent Seven? I don’t get answers, though. As always, my Bridge Pack is silent.
We see things that she would have loved, go to places that made her happy, and the memories are sometimes so strong that I can smell her Frito Feet and feel her nose pressed up against my neck, as she would do to make sure of me. I think for a moment that I can hear her Snappy Jaw that should have struck fear, but didn’t, not in me…but there is no snappy jaw, not anymore. Everything is silent.
She was a larger sized female for her breed, but she was Bryn’s Little Big sister. She was a good foot taller than Willow, and lorded that size over her Little Little Sister. They still run and play and I can hear their tags jangling as they bound up and down the stairs. But Daisy’s tags, still on her purple dragonfly collar, remain silent.
I want a do-over. I want more time. I want for her to not have suffered through the heart murmur and the heart disease and the Lasix. I want to take her to Ireland and to Canada. I want her to have the jacket with all the little patches from everywhere she was able to visit. All these things I want…and all she wanted was to be able to rest. Rest well, my world traveler, my Psycho Puppy Girl, my Angel…my Mei Mei. You earned it. I just wish it wasn’t so silent around here.
|Hey Anne? This is the purple sofa I wanted to
marry and bear children….
This is going to be a fairly personal episode of the Lettuce, so if that sort of thing makes you twitchy you might want to hit the back button on your browser.
Ever since I moved back to the US on 19 May, 2011, I have been lost. At first I was lost because I was back in my foreign home. Let me give you an example. One of the first things I did was go to Walmart with my parents to pick up some things I needed. After about ten minutes in the store, I had to go outside and ring My Mister (who was still in the UK and, sadly, didn’t get it) and take some deep breaths because it was just too much. Too much choice. Too much colour. Too much light. Too much.
I had come back here to stop being lost in the UK. But what I’ve found is that I wasn’t lost when I was there at all. I was me, the me that doesn’t have to be the best greyhound parent or the competent seamstress or the flawless interpreter. I didn’t have a lot of the distractions or responsibilities there that I have here. There weren’t as many people there for me to disappoint. My Mister and I spent a lot of time together because basically we had…each other.
Don’t get me wrong, he had friends and family there, but because I was not as outgoing as I could have been, I only had a few friends and my inlaws. But My Mister and I are different in that way…he doesn’t depend on his friends to define him like I do.
I thought that the things that kept me from being lost were in the USA: Greyhound Crossroads. The Hounds of East Fairhaven. Follow That Hound. My Deaf and Interpreter friends. Wrong. Since I’ve been back, I’ve had to take a job that isn’t really what I wanted to do so that I could afford to bring My Mister and Daisy over from the UK and adopt Clowny. I’m still in that job because there isn’t anything in my field that would offer a comparable salary. I see things every day that make me regret the cowardice that led me back here two years ago.
I wish I could wind up this post with a happy and confident “but now I’m no longer lost” sentiment, but I can’t. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe Christmas if we make it over to visit my inlaws and my adopted home. Maybe not. I try to remember that “not all who wander are lost” and see myself as wandering instead…but that refrain is getting old. Very, very old. Is this the curse of the repatriate?
One of my expat/repat friends has a statement on one of her signature graphics that says something about coming home to find what has changed is you…maybe that is what’s going on after all.
|Proud Racer: An American Greyhound
in Yorkshire, by Nancy E. Dunne
Just wanted to give you guys a little heads up that Daisy’s second book, An American Greyhound in Yorkshire, has been entered in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest for 2013. I don’t expect that it will go anywhere but…you never know. Three cheers for Daisy Mei Mei, international dog of mystery…and for her mommy for finally sprouting a pair and going for a contest. Fingers and paws crossed!
See that look there? That one is how my Daisy says, “Seriously?” as in “Mommy, seriously, take the camera out of my face and give me the whateveritis that you’re holding over my head to make me look at you, already.”
That is how I felt when I posted this back in August of 2011:
I was still fairly newly repatriated and I was still fairly raw about the entire experience, mostly due to the fact that the three most important souls in my universe (Hubs, Daisy, and Mills) were four thousand miles away from me.
I’m reminded of that post because now, a year and change later, Simon is here and I’ve been back from my expat adventure almost two years…and I still have moments where I’m not sure where I am or, even better, where I belong. I still have moments where I struggle to make myself understood and have the urge to go all Tanzanian Chimp (see? There is a Big Bang Theory reference for EVERYTHING) on someone that giggles if I say wheelie bin instead of trash can.
We have a new captionist on staff here who loves all things British and I have to say I’m probably rambling on and on to her more than I should, bless her, but she gets it and that’s cool. Andrea, if you’re reading this, ta very much. I still say lift sometimes, I still say mobile, and I still ring people up if I absolutely have to do so, and I don’t imagine that will change much.
But last night there was a new experience to add to my list of “only other US/UK expats will get this” weirdness: Last night we saw the Black Watch and Band of the Scots Guards at the BiLo Center and as any good British programme does, it included Jerusalem, the hymn that is the unofficial national anthem of England.
Y’all, I got teary listening to it. I almost let out a choked sob. The feeling of belonging but not belonging, of home and homesickness all happening at the same time was just overwhelming. Hubs got a bit of a giggle out of it, not of my distress but of how surprised I was at said distress, I think. These were “my people” due to my Scottish ancestry, but they were also “my people” because they were British and I feel like I was getting close to that, for a time anyway.
I said on Facebook: “Well, it happened. I teared up at ‘Jerusalem.'” The only people who have liked the comment are expats or have them in their lives.
And did those feet in ancient time.
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
I would like to say when, but for the time being I will say if…IF we make it back to live in the UK, they will have to burn me out to make me leave a second time. It is my second home…and I can’t wait to go back for a visit, at least.