Because it takes two extra steps to add accents with my keyboard and I “don’t have that kind of time.”[1]

Because “I hate to tell you this, but I have a gun,”[2] and “Could you sound a little less angry?”[3] and “I’m telling you, watch out for that bitch.”[4]

Because, “[security officers] became suspicious when they saw the suspect following women through the store”[5] and “We’re so grateful for those who have stuck with us during this time. They know who they are.”[6] and “He’s still the best man I know.”[7]

Because, ‘When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.” [8]and “Is this judge a really good man? And he is. And by any measure he is.”[9]

Because fluent, cadenced nonsense used to tumble from my toddler’s mouth like birdsong.

Because “there are very fine people on both sides”[10] and “3,000 people did not die in Puerto Rico.”[11]

Because “when you finally realize that you do not need to understand everything said, you will know victory.”[12]

Because of the plane trees.

Because “Hey man, I feel like if you’re going to criticize this country, you know, you can just leave.”[13]

Because it’s so far away from everything I’ve ever known and also, it’s so far away from everything I’ve ever known.

Because I understand too much of my mother tongue.

My mother



[1] Anne Lamott

[2] My assailant. December 15, 1989.

[3] Faculty Meeting, April 2012.

[4] Former Colleague, April 2017.


[6] Former friend, former Vilonia teacher, Facebook post.

[7] Former friend, former Vilonia teacher’s wife, e-mail correspondence.



[10] Donald Trump.

[11] Ibid.

[12] How to Get Really Good at French. Polyglot Language Learning, 2017.

[13] Overheard, University of Central Arkansas Fitness Center, September 11, 2018.


by Stephanie Vanderslice

Stephanie Vanderslice is a prose writer and creative writing professor at the University of Central Arkansas. Publications include Ploughshares Online, EasyStreet Online, So to Speak and many others, as well as several books such as The Geek’s Guide to the Writing Life (Bloomsbury 2017).

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