Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Another Language Observation: Accents etc.

When folks think of the Boston-and-area accent, they often think about the dropping of "r" sounds, as in the word "party" sounding more like "potty" and "car" or "park" sounding like "cah" or "pahk."

Below are two examples of less commonly known aspects of the accent, though interestingly, it should be noted that in terms of accent, there is a very large difference going just 15 miles in one direction or another. For example, the town Woburn is often pronounced by folks in the town as "Woo-bin." That's a north shore accent. In Boston or on the south shore, you'd hear something more along the lines of "Woo-burn."
  • The "ahh" sound doesn't just replace dropped "r"s. It is also the sound of many "a"s. However, it is very, very subtle and happens only in a portion of a Bostonian's speech, so you won't notice it right away. For example, "trash" is slightly more like "tr-ah-sh" (like "wash") and "fast" is slightly more like "fahst." The English influence perhaps?
  • "A"s are changed to "r"s almost as much as "r"s are changed to "a"s. For example, "Tina" often sounds like "teen-erh."

Probably the hardest city to pronounce in MA is Worcester. I still have not been able to perfect my pronunciation. The sounds can get very subtle. Fortunately for me, an acceptable twist on the name is "Whister" or "Whista." "Woostah" is another acceptable variety, but there is a subtle but noticeable difference in how townies say that vs. everybody else, and I wouldn't suggest that most folks who aren't from Worcester or the area attempt this version of the name. When I first moved to MA, I tried to do what the Worcester townies do and get the right blend of the word with something like the sounds in the sauce with a similar name. Big mistake. It never comes out right. People from out of town often do this (second to "Woorchester") saying things like "Wooshter" or something like that, and this would be considered an improper pronunciation of the town here. Like I said, fortunately for me, there is always "Whister" to call back on.

One term I never heard (at least not much) before moving to MA is "it is what it is." I hear that here a LOT! I even have heard it a few times on the news. This is a term that either rose significantly in use after we moved, or is fairly regional (either that, or I just hear it a lot because people don't think highly of me and the things I do LOL). G's translation is, "it's sh*t and it's sh*t." It's kind of like a verbal throwing-up-of-hands, an "oh-well" type thing to say. I think it is a spin off from the New England version of being polite, which is to give lots of space and privacy to other people. If G's translation is correct, it's a pretty non-confrontational way of saying something is sh*t.

Interesting, this language thing.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Can't Get the Colorado Out of the Girl"

The other day I sent home a notice to some of my youth about an upcoming event. In the announcement, I said the youth should bring a "sack lunch" with them.

Well, on Sunday one of the parents (who happened to be on my search committee) came to me and said that he shared my notice with his wife because he thought it was funny. She's from Colorado, and her reply was, "you can't get the Colorado out of the girl." He informed me that my use of the word "sack" would be unfamiliar and odd around here, and he said with some concern that people might think I was being weird. He told me the proper word in New England is "bag" not "sack."

I don't remember us using the term "sack" much growing up, but according to this congregant's wife, it is something I likely picked up living in Colorado. I imagine I use the words interchangably now. Most likely for shopping bags or trash/garbage/rubbish, I say "bag," and for things like lunches, I say "sack." On one online quiz I took, it turned up that I have no accent at all, so my interchangable use of regional terms makes sense.

I have not been able to effectively move, however, to saying "carriage" instead of "cart" when shopping, or "carriage" instead of "stroller" when towing the kids around town.

Anyway, this congregant ever so nicely suggested I use the internet to get a list of words that are used and not used in New England to help me assimilate. Funny.

So far, this is what I've been able to find (some have some pretty offensive terms or describe pretty offensive useage, and only a couple address the sack vs. bag issue):

Friday, April 24, 2009

Race and Adoption

I've been thinking a lot about race and racism recently. A LOT. Now that Obama is president, whites seem to think we are post-race, which they think also gives them permission to be more overt about their subtle racism. In some ways I'm glad it is no longer *quite* as subtle and insidious because it is easier to deal with overt racism. But I can't believe the things that are coming out of folks' mouths right now. [sound of me throwing up as I think about it]

Anyway, so I've been thinking about race and racism a lot.

And ta-da, one of my friends online produced one more interesting related read this morning:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Social Justice Blog

It's a busy day at work today, so I don't have time to say much. However, I did want to post a link to this blog, which might be of interest to those who want to keep in touch with humanitarian and other concerns around the world:

Saturday, April 18, 2009

They're Growing Up!

Today was M's fourth birthday party. It was at the firestation (tip for parents of preschoolers: firestations are a great birthday party activity, and they usually offer tours for groups of kids for as little as a plate of brownies...this is M's second firestation party), followed by cake at the church. The kids played on firetrucks, saw the firefighters raise and climb the super high ladder, watched a fireman slide down a pole into the firetruck garage, saw a firefighter dressed in fire gear, turned the lights on in the firetrucks, heard the sirens, watched a couple trucks take off for real-life emergencies, were given firesafety coloring books and pencils, and basically had an all-around blast.

We had at least fourteen kids I think, though I lost count LOL. Originally seventeen had RSVP'd! Fourteen or more preschoolers +the firestation +partying at the church=exhausting! And our exhaustion was compounded when G's father hit his head very hard on the car door on the way over, resulting in a probable concussion, and got quite ill. He hung on until the end of the party, but did take off for the ER afterward. Nonetheless, G. had to stay back with him at the church during the firestation portion of the party (sad), and G's sister and mom were unable to help with setup. I should have taken tomorrow as one of my Sunday's off. I am here at work trying to get ready for the day tomorrow and just completely brain dead.

Hmmm...this seemed to be an ER/car themed week as well, come to think of it. Friday I spent the day in the ER with M after he slammed his finger in the car door. It was very swollen and looked awful, but it turned out it was not broken, and it looks much better today.

Anyway, so the kids are growing up. K celebrated her third birthday last month, and here M is turning four. Whew! Every year, it cracks me up how M seems to like to time his developmental leaps around his birthday ;-). He learned to use the toilet almost overnight right around his third birthday. We had backed off from working on it with him, and suddenly, he turned three, and he was out of diapers. He has, however, continued to need diapers overnight until now, suddenly, he is waking up dry almost every day and from almost every nap. It looks like he'll be entirely out of diapers any day now.

He just seems like such a "kid" now. He now helps his sister with all kinds of tasks, in this "big brotherly" way that is somewhat new and so sweet. He is making leaps and bounds into independence. I even let him go by himself for introductions with a neighbor whose name he didn't know. The neighbor was working in his yard across the street, and M asked to go make introductions by himself. So I stood on the sidewalk, told M when it was safe to walk, let him cross and ask the neighbor his name (and tell the neighbor his own name), and then had him wait across the street until I told him it was safe to cross. Being a new englander (out here people seem to think it is best to "give others room"), I think the neighbor might have thought it was a little weird for M to come over and make introductions, but M was really proud of himself! I was proud of him too. I never would have *dreamed* of letting him do this even a month ago, maybe even a couple of weeks ago. He just was too unpredictable. But now at four he is shifting into complete focus and attention to detail. He was ready to follow the rules, and I could tell.

I also love how now M calls this neighbor by his name. Whereas before he was just "the neighbor," now he is J. We were having a picnic on the front porch the other day and a car alarm went off somewhere in the distance. As we listened to the faint alarm sounds, M. said, "do you think J hears it?" Something so sweet about it, and it warms new england by at least a degree for me.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Preorder Your Alternative to Saccharine Laced Anthologies Now

My Baby Rides the Short Bus is now ready for pre-orders at This is a book of anthologies written by parents of children with special needs. It is specifically written by voices of marginalized, "minority," and punk parents.

You can get a better peek at what the book will be like at the My Baby Rides the Short Bus blog.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Seminary and Commitment(/Focus)

I sent off a thank you note today to the Dean of Students at one of the seminaries I am looking at. She had personally invited me over to the open house at her school, and she made sure I received a very warm welcome. It was a very good experience, and I've regretted that I've been so remiss in sending her a note.

It's been a little while since I've done a lot of thinking about seminary. I attended at least one more class over at Harvard since I last posted, but since the first time I went over to Harvard I got a $50 parking ticket I can't afford to pay and the second time I went over to Harvard my car died, I admit that my energy for going there when I don't have a commitment to do so is a little diminished. The spring has also been really, really full of meetings at work and G. has been complaining that I haven't been home enough. So it's on the backburner just slightly, which is okay because I feel more certain now that I will apply to two seminaries this fall/winter and that I will hold off on a decision about which one to attend until I at least find out if I am accepted.

I'm sort of in that lull between having a plan and needing to act on that plan. I will start working on my applications over the summer, but the official Harvard application form doesn't even get posted until the fall anyway.

A friend of ours, with whom we are creating a shared garden this summer, said while we were deciding when to start germinating seeds, "Let's do this today so I don't lose interest." I laughed quietly inside, noting "at least I am not the only one." Remember when I posted about pet frogs and my problem with commitment, which seems to stem from cold feet about anything which at some point required a decision on my part? I hate to admit it, but I think part of the problem is that I am also addicted to stirring things up because I like my life stirred. I like orderly chaos ;-). And yes, I know, that is an oxymoron. G jokes with me that just when things get settled and she is getting comfortable, I say, "So what next?" It is also a matter of attention span. My brain goes a million directions a minute. It's easy for me to forget how many balls I am juggling, and pick up another one without realizing that this means one that is already in the air will fall.

I think this lull is a danger zone for me because it would be easy to get interested in something else that delays my application. Don't misunderstand. I am going to apply. My sense of calling and my interest in seminary is not fleeting. Not in the least. I've been feeling this for eight years or more now. This is more a shift of calling than anything. But it would be easy for me to get distracted and do something else and then find myself this autumn in a position in which applying isn't going to be possible. Then I would have to put this off again, and I don't want to do that, nor should I.

I'm not sure how to keep myself on track, though, other than keeping some things on my calendar reminding myself to work on my applications this summer. I've already done that. So the coming months will definitely be a test.

(Dear Lord, oh how I hope you will soothe this ADHD soul of mine.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Some Humor Brought to You By Pre-Teens

A ten and twelve year old boy at church tonight showed me this. Apparently its a thing, but well, it did make me laugh:

Today Was "Speak Your Mind" Day

Well, at least that's the side of the bed I rolled out of today.

I may have been too whiny to be deserving of a gift, but that is a different story.

Anyway, I learned a few other things about myself during "speak your mind day":

1. According to my value system, speaking out against insidious racism is highly important. When such racism is occurring publicly, I may find it worthy of a public response if that seems most effective in the moment.

2. Over time, I work up courage to speak up about things that bother me. The first or second time I witness a similar type of event, I may not say anything at all, but by the third time (even if I am with different people in a different situation) all bets just may be off.

3. The more someone's previous behavior seemed wrong, the more their current behavior will seem wrong to me when they are doing something offensive (vs. someone else doing the same thing without the same history). This is especially true for some reason or another in my view of certain famous people.

4. I expect that if someone sends me one of those forwarded emails, the subject is open for discussion. If such an email has been sent to a large list of folks, I tend to think that reasoning people will assume it is open for discussion and won't be confused by a public reply.

5. Since forwarded emails bother many folks, I rarely send them. If someone sends one to me, I figure a response couldn't be more bothersome to anyone who has already received the forward. I tend to think such responses are delightful because they are always much more thoughtful than the forward.

6. I occassionally get cranky and run out of patience when people think we are somehow "past racism" or that they couldn't possibly harbor unexamined prejudices-- big or small-- or that they couldn't possibly be oppressive of others in any way because they are good people. Being good doesn't take you out of a system of institutional racism.

7. There are some things I just don't find funny. If it is something racist, not only will I not laugh, but I won't perpetuate the problem by refusing to speak up. I also may fail to see the humor in any follow-up jokes meant to mend fences.

8. There are some hills I am willing to "die on."

Sorry. This isn't meant to be a cryptic message. Just some self-observations upon reflection at the end of the day. Nothing major happened. I just got a forwarded email that really bothered me (one of the most offensive things I've heard in a long time), responded that it was disturbing, heard back from the sender that it was rude for me to bother all her friends and family by replying all, and replied back to apologize for the misunderstanding and to explain that my error occurred because I thought that the subject had been opened for discussion. Don't worry. We all kissed and made up and everything. But I can't say I feel what I did was wrong. That email wasn't fit for public consumption in the first place, in my humble opinion.