Tag Archives: Chesapeake Bay Islands

Thoughts On The “Slow Food” Movement

This piece of prose is meant to serve a dual purpose: provide a life update and artistically reflect on 2020.


Have you heard of this thing? It’s called, “Slow Food.”

I shake my head. “Isn’t that cooking?”

“No, no. Not like that.” Judgmental tuts put me in my place.

People are always waiting to tell other people they’re breathing the wrong way because it isn’t the way they learned how to breathe.

I stare at my ceiling as my partner falls asleep. “Is my food meant to be causing constipation?” What is meant by slow? Sounds uncomfortable.

2020 distorts time like light passing through water and glass – the concentrated pockets brighten momentarily, but fade into the surrounding textures and patterns. I’m reminded of Bay Time – of a place in my past that no longer exists – when waking up during the blue hour meant a circuit of nets and crab pots, checking juvenile oyster baskets for conchs as they float tethered and returning by mid-morning on a clear day – when our family’s laughter sparkled off the water for hours as we chattered and picked steamed crab from exoskeletons. Hand-packed. Frozen. Thawed. Remembered.

Did I remember to respond to those emails last week? What about those interview questions I was going to write? What is Slow Food?

I create daily menus as my partner’s coworkers abandon ship for economic mirages. The grass is always greener… says the cow chewing cud.

What started as a chance to write 6 books turns into 6 unfinished books and 4 shelved ones. No one reads this. Why would anyone want to? Is there a world where my words matter?

“No, no. Not like that.” Say the rejections I receive.

I search for staff writing and editing positions at places that might acknowledge and apologize for microaggressions. Where I would feel safe bringing them up. I try to imagine a writing position where I could continue to find growth. I take two weeks off wondering if they’ve realized I’m the only staff editor they didn’t acknowledge the birthday of yet.

“No, no. Not like that.” Says the writing group I try out, but don’t feel comfortable going back to after the group leader says those that are talented at writing fiction are narcissists… after she compliments my ability to write fiction.

I read antique poetry books for inspiration and tell myself I’ll finish A Hundred Different Skies. I’ll finish at least one to be sure. But no one will read it. Why would they? Not even my family supports me anymore.

I stop getting on Twitter after our friend dies. He’s not the first death this year. My heart hurts. I’m told to take care of myself, but in isolation it’s not that simple. The words don’t come when I try to talk about the brick building on Poquoson Ave. I begin seriously considering mortuary school again.

“Have you tried Slow Food?”

“Isn’t that cooking?” I stare at these pages of unpolished text.

I lose a close friend to schizophrenia. She creates 15+ phone numbers and iMessage accounts to call and harass me about how I am the grey goo in her computer — about how I knew about the people living in her walls — about how the literary magazine I gave her in Summer 2018 predicted all of this. I try not to dwell on wedding pictures. My voicemail box fills regularly to the point my doctors can’t get ahold of me.

For the first summer since undergrad I lose count of the number of times I’ve been camping. This feels like the correct number of times. I start to wish I didn’t have to go home and find myself learning how to do seasonal prepping of food for the winter. I already knew.

“Have you tried Slow Food?”

“Isn’t that cooking?” My entire life has changed, but I haven’t found a new normal. Nothing is normal, and the only thing “slow” is Schrödinger’s Time in this box of a year trying to tell me everything is both fine and not fine at the same time.

But “No, no. Not like that,” says the world as it spins madly on.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read my writing today. If you enjoyed this piece, please like, comment, and/or share it. This helps me know which posts my readers enjoy the most.

Ode To The Chesapeake Bay Watermen – A Poem

Today’s poem is dedicated to a special demographic. For those unaware, Accomack County is one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic in Virginia. Tangier Island, one of our treasured communities, is safe, but if the pandemic reaches its shores the results could be devastating. I’ve been a Bull Islander and a Shoreman, and by that, I am blessed.

Photo by Michael Barlow on Unsplash

Ode To The Chesapeake Bay Watermen

We go out in boats
Catch the sun’s morning rays
In nets and crab pots
Tossed over the sides
Into brackish green depths
These channels – our roadways
Through marshes and creeks
The bay feeds our veins
Where we have sewn seeds
Young oysters – new reefs
Repairing pollution
To save our way of life
Our houses on stilts
(As sea levels rise)
Overlook a world over water
And ospreys laugh songs
We bring in our bushels
To markets by shores
Sell seafood by dozens
No quotas or weights
And pray to a God
For mercy and hope
In the next hurricane
There never been Noahs
In the many Great Floods
But still, we are
People of faith


Thank you so much for reading my poem today! If you found its words meaningful, please consider liking, commenting, and/or sharing it with others. Truly, I am grateful for the time you spent reading my work.

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Thoughts On YouTube, Podcasts, And Accents

I was 18, sitting on a dock over Lion’s Creek.

The Article

Today there is a repost of an article by Jessica Love in The American Scholar titled The Disappearing Accent. In this article the author goes on to discuss how certain age groups have more difficulties distinguishing English accents than others, particularly younger age groups to focus on only familiar accents and will tune out unfamiliar accents.

Accents and dialects play an important function socially by helping individuals distinguish locals from non-locals. This gives an immediate sensory input of “in-group” vs. “out-group” and based on the associations with that group a person will have a response. Accent responses contribute to a global issue of systemic racism and sometimes, these responses aren’t so friendly (see: almost every anti-immigrant accent joke ever – even Disney is guilty of a long history of these).

Accents do help individuals determine where, geographically, someone is from rapidly without conscious thought. Interestingly, accents can tell us a lot about the history of human migration as well.

Expanding on this, even English accents and dialects demonstrate this history of human migration. The accents found throughout the former British Empire are based on the timing of colonization compared to when the Great Vowel Shift occurred, when and where the colonists originated from, and whether their English dialect originated from Victorian or Elizabethan English.

As someone from the Chesapeake Bay my accent originates from Elizabethan English prior to the Great Vowel Shift. This is unique and part of what makes accents from this area special and different sounding from all other Southern accents. Tangier, Hog, and Smith Island are the famous Chesapeake Bay islands, but there are so many others no longer occupied by more than one or two houses, if any. The watermen lived along the shorelines and worked the bay.

My grandfather was born north of the Bay and we came into the area. My parents lived most of their lives elsewhere, then raising us in towns always on the Shore as opposed to on the Islands. This is an important distinction. My accent is not multi-generational, and therefore not as thick as others.

The Accent Tag

If you haven’t been exposed by now, there’s an incredible thing called the Accent Tag. This has been used extensively for documenting the way people speak through YouTube videos and is a wonderful resource for authors who want to research how someone from a particular area would sound. I decided to read off the words from the word list after several hours of silence and white noise as auditory input to provide a baseline of my accent.

Here’s a recording of me saying the Accent Tag words

What About Youtube Videos And Podcasts?

I would love to! Based on my pronunciations above, do you think people could understand me if I slip into that? Do you think I’ll need subtitles? I’ve had students accuse me of needing subtitles before, during classes while teaching and that’s been embarrassing. In the past my accent has made it difficult for people to understand me.

In past relationships it meant I was lectured on correct pronunciation, and it may have played a role in why they never introduced me to their family. I have been told that my accent makes me sound “low class” and “uneducated”. I’ve had to explain to my own husband that he needed to back off with the “you’re pronouncing it wrong” bull crap.

Long story short, people experience accent discrimination by losing job opportunities and by experiencing people being dicks to them, sometimes their own spouses and friends. The moment this is combined with any other factor their lives get way worse. To be blunt: it’s a lot of effort to keep constantly worrying about how I’m pronouncing things. You can hear me trip up in the word list with “Spitting Image” because… That’s not how I would even begin to say that phrase because it’s not even spelled that way in my head.

For these reasons, I’m nervous about being public with my voice. I know my accent that slips out is not as thick as a Tangier Islander accent:

That said, my accent is something I think is special and unique. It is one of the most beautiful things about where I am from and about the history of the United States. And it’s disappearing. Accidentally, I may be part of the last generation of Americans to have a Chesapeake Bay accent.

The Delmarva peninsula and the Chesapeake Bay are the settings of many of my stories. I look forward to sharing these with everyone so you too can know the joy of stories of Accomack, Onancock, Harborton, Onley, Wallops Island, and more.

Concluding Thoughts

Accents are complicated. They are used to make judgments that are often unfair and completely uncalled for. They are used as a deciding factor in job interviews and by random people we meet in passing for an introduction.

“An accent comes with a connotation. You think you know if someone is smart or stupid because of their accent. And yet the truth is an accent is not a measure of intelligence, it’s just someone speaking your language with the rules of theirs.”

Trevor Noah Afraid of the Dark

In Trevor Noah’s quote, which I love, I think dialect comes into play. A dialect is a particular form of a language specific to a region. Think about an accent as a language being spoken with the rules of a dialect or another language than the one the listener thinks is “normal”. That’s it.

So… Next time you want to correct someone for pronouncing something “wrong”, pay attention. Is that how they always pronounce it? Are they consistent? Is that how everyone pronounces that word where they’re from? Maybe it’s okay to not correct accents that are different from your own. Besides, it’s on both of you to adjust during the conversation to improve communication.

So what do you think? If I slip up and say a word (or a lot of words) with my rounded, drop vowels and soft start consonants will it bother you too much for me to make videos or podcasts? Should I do both formats and put subtitles on the videos? Let me know in the comments!