Wednesday, November 19, 2008

mirror image

Over at Glow in the Woods, Tash has posted an email conversation that she had with Elizabeth McCracken, the author of An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination, a book written shortly after the birth of Elizabeth's second son, Gus, describing her pregnancy with and the loss of her first son, Pudding. Somewhere in the first few exchanges, Elizabeth writes:

I think I found Niobe's blog while I was still pregnant [with my second son]. In fact, I'm sure I did. & I don't know how--if I was googling symptoms or science and it came up. & I read it and kept reading it. & strangely it was comforting because it was A. so well-written and B. because her reactions seemed so different to mine.

On reading this, my thoughts were, in order, (1) what a nice thing to say about my blog; (2) "so different to mine?" Is she British? Or has she absorbed that turn of phrase without being aware of it? Or maybe with being aware of it? Though I suppose you can't really say "with being aware of it," can you? And, idioms aside, does "different to" mean something subtly different from (or to) "different from?" and (3) I really should read her book. But I don't think I possibly can.

When I was in second grade, our student teacher, Miss Petracca, who was small and loud and had red hair in a bun on top of her head, once asked me, "wouldn't the world be a boring place if everyone were exactly the same?" As a matter of policy, I never contradicted teachers, not even student teachers, but, serenely self-centered, what I thought was this: Yes, it would be an awfully boring world if everyone were exactly like you. But I don't think I'd mind at all if everyone were exactly like me.

24 comments:

Antigone said...

I think it was my attorney who said, "the world would be a very boring place if everyone were honest and kind."

Tash said...

It really struck me during this conversation with her just how many times I had to scratch the word "universal." It just seemed so much of her book resonated with so many, and yet as I (for one) was furiously nodding yes, I suddenly came across a paragraph where I thought: "WTF? Am I a freak or what?"

And it also made me realize just how kind this community is -- I think when people say, "I know exactly how you feel" they're not talking about your Grief, Capital-G, Generic, but that particular iota of grief you (or anyone) happens to be talking about. And that people are often not afraid to step outside and say, you know? Not me so much.

In terms of extended family and grief? Niobe, you're my bellwether.

The Nanny said...

Sorry to be off-topic, but you had closed the comments on the picture below. Those muffins? Um. My keyboard is soaked in drool.

YUM and NOT FAIR.

thordora said...

I'd hate it if everyone was like me. I'm so annoying and full of shit and issues...I don't want to talk to me. :)

niobe said...

The Nanny: The muffins were baked by my son, Gray, whose other specialities include chocolate souffle and mushroom risotto. Stop by our house some time and I'll have him make you some.

cinnamon gurl said...

Yum, food...

I love this post. I also always notice the different to vs from thing (being a die-hard from follower myself). And I don't think I'd mind a world full of mes either.

Amelie said...

My dad is much like me (ok, it's rather the other way round), and I can tell you from year-long experience that this is not always as much fun as one would think ;)

thailandchani said...

I would actually be horrified if everyone was like me! :)



~*

The Nanny said...

DEAL. May I marry your son?

Aurelia said...

The one person I know who is exactly like me personality-wise is my birth mother.

And we annoy each other so much that I don't talk to her.
A little bit like me, would be great. Too much, not so good.

Bon said...

i think, alas, that i am one of those self-centered folk who wishes the world were like me, and then waits for them to be as curious about ME as i am about THEM.

slowly, i'm learning.

Julia said...

So my sister? Much like me. Also my dad. The whole three way mirror thing drives mom crazy on occasion. Yet there are enough differences to keep things a little interesting. And for us to have things to harp at dad about.

Shhh... I haven't read the book yet. In fact for a while I was having a hard time thinking about picking it up. After this interview though I am thinking I would like to...

painted maypole said...

i think we have all secretly thought that as well. well, at least those of us who are interesting. ;)

Smiling said...

I'll just comment on my personal observation that 'different to mine' sounds completely normal to me when talking about ideas, feelings, thoughts, but I would say that someone is 'different from me.' I used to be good at noticing such phrases, now I just start using them without realizing them, so much for all that linguistics in college.

Eva said...

I quite liked the book of hers I read. Niagara Fall All Over Again. And I do recall reading an interview with her about her stillbirth. I think she was in France? That bit of it does make her remind me of you.

Amanda said...

I just finished her book a couple of days ago, and it really is quite good. I highly recommend reading it, though maybe later, once you're in a much surer place.

thordora said...

Bon, a world full of you would be so perky and smiley I'd go insane. :)

Yolanda (the callipygian chronicle) said...

Different to mine sounds like English spoken through translation. I want o replace it with from or even perhaps than.

Yolanda (the callipygian chronicle) said...

And a world full of me's would be quite comfortable. But we'd hardly say anything, or leave the house. Because we don't talk about how we're doing unless someone asks, and since we're all me, we intuitively know, anyway. Nothing needs to be said.

Ahuva Batya said...

I would be afraid if everyone were like me... I would then have to meet myself on the street and come to grips with the humiliating realization that I'm really a lot more irritating than I thought I was.

Lori said...

I think you would like the book. But I could be wrong.

Like Julia, I wasn't sure I wanted to read it. I went back and forth.. but in the end I decided I would read it as a gift to myself for my twin's birthday. I'm not sure why that felt like a gift to me... maybe just allowing myself to indulge in something I don't usually indulge in anymore.

I really liked it.

Monica H said...

I just bought this book last week, thanks for reminding me. But, like you said, "I don't think I possibly can." At least not right now, anyway.

red pen mama said...

I had heard about this book, too. I think my husband is thinking of giving it to me as a gift. Not sure how I feel about that, let alone about reading it. May check the interview.

I find her turn of phrase odd. Unless she is a Brit.

ciao,
rpm

Little Miss Hopeful said...

Hmm - I wasn't aware that saying "different to" was odd...is it a British vs American thing because that would explain it (me being from Aus and all)

I would hate there to be more people like me in the world! I'm a lot like my mother and we drive each other insane...I don't think the world could handle more of us!