A Nerd With a Word
When Nacho, my terrifically bright, artistic Spanish friend and creator of this website asked me to pen a bio, I was slightly surprised. I´d wanted to publish my work online for ages, in its own virtual space, have this liberty at last, but a bio?
A bio? Me? A CV is tedious enough work.
I never really want to write about myself, not directly. I do tend to tell stories in which I am present, but not necessarily protagonist. It´s how I give voice to my “sideways” perceptions. But not always.
Talk about a Suzanne who is not a filter? Does that Suzanne exist? Is she relevant? I´m not being coy. People who write-note I have not called myself a writer- tend to hide behind their words, or perhaps wrap themselves in them. I know I can be as timid as I am bold when asked to speak about myself. I remember when I gained fame or notoriety as a columnist in Trinidad and Tobago and “fans” would approach for a chat. I´d go mute. I had nothing to say. I´d said it all, in writing, I guess. I usually felt they went away disillusioned.
I can say this. My first memory of anything ever in this world is of me in a crib clutching a ragged cloth book. I do not recall if it contained words. It could not have. It was a book for babes. I do know that old cloth book would shape my life and my life would become filled with letters. Forever.
My second memory is also one made of words. I am three years old and I am standing in the kindergarten in my grandmother´s street in Belmont, Trinidad, a neighbourhood on the edge of Port of Spain, Trinidad´s capital (Tobago´s is Scarborough). The teacher is a spinster who gives spelling tests every morning. Get it wrong and get your hands stung red by her ruler, wielded with no mercy. True old fashioned “beating book”. Education by force, permitted then in the sixties. There I had been despatched by a maternal grandmother overworked by a terrible two´s toddler.
“That child does not stop”, she had pronounced. “Time for that child to go to school.”
And off that child was sent at age two plus to Miss Godhavemercy.
That morning I am the only one at her school who does not “get licks”. I don´t even know how I know how to spell. I am three. But I can and my skill has saved me from the ruler´s ruler. I am I discover an orthographic wonder. Well, I have learned to read before I can walk. I still read better than I walk!
Words have always captivated me. I have always felt at one with them, most at peace with myself when using them. My childhood spare time was divided equally between running from yard to yard in Diamond Vale and being draped over the side of the bed, book on the floor reading. I was always the one in linguistics class at uni to penetrate a language and break it down to the zero phoneme. I have always liked looking at words up and down, sideways, moving their letters around, changing their form, their function. I went from gazing at English to Spanish and then my syntax went with me, but I get a kick from my Spanglish sentences, even if editors do not. Most of all, I enjoy being irreverent. I often think I annoy people because I see precisely what they do not want me to see.
I don´t read as many books as I used to. But then who does? I´m online all the time and the internet is the power of the word. I may be 46 but I feel like this is my time, the age of IT and Aquarius.
So, I think if you ask who is Suzanne, the authoress of this site, these tales, I´d have to say in essence, I am a nerve of a nerd with a word. Or that´s what I’d want my epitaph to read. If I was going to have one.