…I’m a legal alien!
It’s intricate work being an alien, there’s lots of fine lines to walk and a lot of taboos to learn about. The name itself is a daunting task—alien. Right off the bat you know you stand apart, not “natural born” but of foreign origin.
Then there’s the language, one my favorite lines from a movie “A Walk in the Clouds” the character of the father says to the guy that just married his daughter, “I don’t think with an accent.” Man, I love that line.
When I first moved to the U.S. at age fourteen, I really confused a lot of people. My appearance has always been incongruent with my accent. Or complete lack of understanding of the English language, because when I first moved to the U.S. I spoke no English. Sure, I could say “Where’s the bathroom?” and “My name is Silvina. Hello, how are you?”
In Argentina, my mom made us all take English from a young age. She considered it a must for us kids, and even started her own English Institute in Buenos Aires when I was twelve years old. The problem with me and English was that I never thought I would use it, so I never cared to learn it!
Some of it must have stuck, because my first High School English class I took, I got an A. We were studying Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and I could read and write somewhat in the language. My mom was furious! She actually complained to the Principal about my A, asking him why I was given such a grade when I couldn’t even speak the language.
School wasn’t easy for me here, in spite of my initial A, and neither was making friends. One look at me and most kids would peg me for an American, then I would speak and I could see their wheels start to turn. “Australia? Sweden? South Africa?” Yep! Believe it or not, those were the usual suspect countries that I was peg to be from.
I could have tried to fit in with the Latino crowd, but that was equally impossible. They would hear me speak with my Argentine accent, and wonder where on earth I was from.
Alien, I was an alien. Alienated on both sides, but don’t feel too sad for me. These things build character, so I turned to books!
The other part of being an alien that is tricky is the whole “status” thing. Until I became a “Naturalized Citizen”, I had to keep my status in check. My parents were “Permanent Residents”, a very coveted status to have. But as such they could not keep me in the U.S. legally after I turned eighteen. So I had to apply for a “Student Visa” and study. This I did gladly, but a tragic turn of events rendered my father unable to work, so I was faced with two choices. Go back to Argentina, or transfer schools.
My mom was teaching—then at a two year school—where I could study for free. The problem now was that I was a senior, majoring in Spanish Lit. The college my mom was teaching at was working on a four year program in that same department, but it was a long ways away form materializing.
Thant’s when Culinary School came into my life! Not only was I able to keep my status as a student, but I was also able to learn the art of cooking. So now I’m the Queen of Eclectic!
My accent is my own, with no discernible root. Visually I’m as gringa as they come. Now a mother and a homeschooler, a treadmill-runner, stationary-biker and incense burning yoga-freak!
In February…or March, perhaps I’ll add “Published Author” to my eclectic list. Wahoo! …and still an Alien!
Here's one of my favorite Recepes from Culinary School