So I’m at my best on paper. I do okay in person, too, mostly because I’ve still got my limbs to do the talking. Yes, I talk with my hands. Always have. Once, in sixth grade, my classmates teased that if I were to sit on my hands, I’d be unable to speak. Mortifyingly, I actually attempted it. They were right. I need my hands to trace the words into existence, to pull them out into air.

Which brings me back to the phone. I don’t have one of those snazzy headset do-hickeys, so at least one of my hands is tied to holding the receiver. Further, and more importantly, the person on the other end of the line can’t see my gesticulations. And without them, the words get stuck at the base of my tongue and stick there. I stammer. I fail to generate the most basic words.

This turns into high comedy when my mother and I are on the phone:

Her: Did you see that movie?

Me: Which one?

Her: You know. The one with that guy. The one we like. What’s-a-ma-who's-it.

Me: Oh! From that thing with the detective?

Her: Yes, and the girl from that ‘70s thing…you know, with the hair…and the secret club….

Me: I LOVED that! Wasn’t she in “Tenko”?

Her: I don’t remember.

Funny phone conversation? Somehow we communicate, because our brains are wired alike. The problem comes when I’m on the horn with anyone else. Anyone who doesn’t share my faulty connections. They must think I’m an idiot. Heck, I think I’m an idiot.

Then I remember: God did the electrical work on my brain. There must be a reason I am this way, some way that I am absolutely, perfectly perfect. ‘Cause God doesn’t make junk.

But until I figure it out, please, try not to call. There’s a reason God created e-mail.

Lost amongst my acres of knowledge
and mounds of books
I'm a mere academic,
Trying to make sense of life and love.

I own a mellifluous mountain
of meandering meaningless words
and I mouth them
when the moment arises.

I cannot tell the difference between
patois, idiolect, jargon, dialect,
idiom, argot, slang, and gobbledygook,
or colloquialism, waffle, claptrap.
I care not for ephemeral sounds;
"I'm sorry; I don't speak your vernacular."
I pray for someone to understand me.

-Tanja Cilia

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