This month Fledgling Immigrant Digest is proud to bring you an exclusive interview with that most reserved, yet adorable, yet irascible (yet curiously alluring) Edinburgh to Nashville immigrant, Difficult Second Novel, on his first anniversary of arriving in the United States.
Fledgling Immigrant Digest: How are you?
Difficult Second Novel: Bit tired. Also doing the allergic coughing thing a lot today. I’d like to change the air-conditioning filter to get one that can get rid of all the pollen and dust but I can’t find one at Lowe’s or online that’s the right size. It’s a nuisance. My eyes are so itchy, I reckon I’m a rub away from waking up with conjunctivitis.
I was just saying “hi”.
Oh. I thought maybe you were British.
Interview continued on page 73.
So…how is the difficult second novel going?
That’s such a “gotcha” question.
I’m not trying to trick you. The novel. Your blog’s named after it.
I’ve been busy. I couldn’t find a pen. I had walking pneumonia for a week last October.
Those are all excellent excuses. But you should write it. You’re a phenomenal writer.
Thanks, I…wait…do you really think I’m a phenomenal writer, or are you just doing that American thing?
Just doing the thing.
Why do you do that ? I find it really disingenuous.
You have to be positive. All the nice things that people have said to you since you got to America, did you think that it was because you’d magically become a better person?
Well, no, I just thought the bar was set a little lower.
The bar is at the same height. Actually, the bar’s higher. But in America we encourage people, we talk to their strengths, we build them up.
Right up until the day you fire them.
And is this like the American thing where you say that politics is taboo but in reality you all want to talk to me about politics, and when you do the things you say are completely mental?
Pretty close. So let’s practice the positive talking. You’ve been here a year. How’s it going?
It’s going…great! I have all the highly-paid and highly-rewarding work that I need, and I have no financial concerns whatsoever. I have nothing but praise for the way local and national US television covers the news or the way Americans drive in the rain and on top of all that, I have suffered not one single culturally or linguistically fuelled embarrassment or humiliation since I got here.
This isn’t working.
But I’m being all up and positive.
You sound sarcastic.
It’s the accent.
Maybe. Okay, tell me something real.
How do you mean?
Go on. If you can’t be convincingly positive, at least be honest.
Let me think. Oh yeah, I have one. For eleven months, the bread here has been awful, just hateful. But in March we found “English toasting bread” at Kroger, and that stuff? It tastes normal. So now I can have toast. Now I can look forward to breakfast.
Okay. That’s…a little better. Now, can you tell me something that’s honest and at least a little bit positive without being depressing at the same time?
You’re making this harder than it needs to be. But fair enough. Over the past year, I have found several restaurants that I don’t hate.
And I’m still me, which sometimes makes things
tricky difficult, and sometimes people in restaurants or stores will understand me, and sometimes I’ll understand them, and perhaps I’m learning to compromise just enough to get by.
Look. I’ve been here a year. I’ve worked hard but I don’t know, I can’t know, if this move across the ocean is going to turn out as a wonderful success story. I’m still working things out. Is that good enough or do you need a happy ending?
Yes, please. The happy ending, I mean. We need closure.
Do you want me to cry?
With happiness, yes, it wouldn’t hurt.
Right. My American family sometimes seem genuinely pleased to see me. My wife is the main draw but we’ve had some good times over the last 12 months, and they’ve made me feel welcome, and you know what? They really didn’t have to do that. And I’m often genuinely pleased to see them, which is a good feeling, because I have some friends over here but not a bucket load and it’s nice…it feels good to be close to family.
Are you crying?
It’s the conjunctivitis. And don’t misunderstand me. My American family can sometimes think I’m super-British but I could’ve been so much more British and whiney and condescending than I’ve been, I mean they have no idea, and just for the record, if anyone, and I mean anyone expects me to cheer on the United States in this summer’s Olympics, they can go-
Well that’s all we have time for. Thank you for answering my questions. You’re very good at this.
Now you’re being sarcastic.
Just American. Hey, what’s conjunctivitis?
Oh, right. You should see a doctor.
I should get some health insurance first.
© Fledgling Immigrant Digest, April 2012
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