In Spanish, the word for…: Conversation starters

Odds are, you know at least part of a foreign language. Whether you’re bi- or tri-lingual, a regular polyglot, or only remember the basics from a high school French class, you most likely remember something, and more often than not that word means “poop.”

The  words people remember from languages they don’t use much are the fun words. Swear words, strange idioms, words that are plain fun to say: these are the words that we remember best.

Beyond some greetings and counting to ten, all I remember from my middle school Spanish class is how to say pencil sharpeners: Las sacapuntas. Why? Because it’s so much fun to say! Sacapuntas, sacapuntas. The fun rhythm made me smile then, and still makes me smile today.

When I moved on to American Sign Language, you can bet your bottom dollar that when showing friends what I’ve learned, I went straight to “horny,” “whore,” “bullshit.” It’s fun to know how to swear in secret—and in this case, in silence.

The first sentence I learned in German was Ich bin Blau: I am drunk. My friend taught me at a high school lunch one day.

My friend’s sister who studied abroad in Italy once told us of an Italian idiom that is equivalent “rose tinted glasses:” “Avere gli occhi foderati di prosciutto.” It’s funny because it is literally translated as “to have your eyes wrapped in ham.”

Language is not just important and brain-expanding; it can be a load of fun, too. Bringing up tongue twisters, swear words, and fun phrases in foreign languages can be a light-hearted conversation starter that leads into a linguistic parade. Bring your dictionaries!

Lucky and busy

I’m lucky. I am. In the dying field of journalism I’m getting work left and right…in fact, too much. I always feel bad when I have to cancel something or decline an offer, but it’s sometimes necessary in order to assure the work is the highest caliber it can be.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember I’m lucky.

I covered a fashion show this morning, to be written by the end of the week. I just accepted an offer to cover a meeting on Thursday due on Friday, on top of a graduation ceremony I’m covering Friday night. Not to mention the two other stories I have to get done by next Tuesday.

I also have to get back on track with German, and figure out a plot for the D&D campaign I’m supposed to run Monday. Not to mention the fact that I had planned on doing Camp Nano in July, and I haven’t even begun to think of a novel idea!

Busy is good, but also overwhelming. Being lucky is good, but also brings guilt. I wish I had more time to read Life of Pi and ride my bike and play ukulele and finish my TV shows, but at the same time I’m glad I am using those things for fun when I can, rather than to halt boredom. It’s better to want to do something than to do something so much it’s boring.

I am glad I’m taking these assignments, because they only take a few hours out of a week and give me money I can use for the things I like, not to mention experience.

Like I said, it’s hard to complain when I know I’m so lucky. Lucky to be doing well in a weakening, overcrowded field, lucky to be able to live with my parents this summer without worrying about rent, lucky that we live so close to Boston, lucky that all this has worked out.

I think back to this time last year—I was a line cook at Chipotle. I worked eight hour shifts rolling burritos and wishing I were somewhere, anywhere, else. However busy I get, I have to remember that I like my job, and that’s rare. I don’t groan when I have to go on assignments; I love it. I don’t even whine when I have to wake up early in the morning. I like my job, however busy it makes me. It took awhile to settle on that fact, but it’s true: I like it. One day I will find the ideal balance of work and life. One day I will know myself better and know exactly how much I can handle. Maybe today is not that day, but as of now being busy is okay.

I mean, hey. It’s better than rolling burritos at Chipotle.

Hi!

Hey guys–this should’ve been up yesterday but I honestly didn’t have any time, so here it is now, the weekly check in:)

I hope you are all enjoying the A to Z challenge. I’m certainly enjoying writing it! I have pages full of notes on how to connect the characters and letters, what themes go where, and how the bagpipes fit into all of this. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m glad you seem to be liking them too:)

The most interesting thing that has happened since we spoke last was a self defense course I took Friday and Saturday. It’s called RAD (more info here) and focused on basic ways to get out of a dangerous situation. It was actually really empowering.

I usually hate that word, empowering, because it’s usually used in a pretentious context. Like feeling “empowered” after walking a 5K, or while wearing heels. It’s almost always used in a feminine context. Empowered, as if you were powerless beforehand. However, when it came to the self defense course, it feels fitting. I am newly empowered with tools I can use in dangerous situations—tools I didn’t have before. I feel more confident.

The best thing about it was that it reversed my thoughts that I wasn’t strong. I don’t work out as much as I should, sometimes I can’t open water bottles or open heavy doors, I must not be strong. But being taught how to use my body to my advantage rather than seeing it as a hindrance, or as a vessel for my mind to live in, allowed me to feel truly strong and powerful. Connecting to one’s body and allowing it to be used like it’s made to be is a wonderful thing.

Plus it’s really fun to punch foam pads.

I recommend it to everyone! Not just to feel safe, but to feel confident and happy with yourself.

What else? Colin comes back Sunday, which is exciting, and I move back home in two weeks, which is also exciting. I have finals soon, which is less exciting.

I saw my old high school’s musical, The Sound of Music, on Saturday. All the kids who were sophomores and freshmen when I graduated are now juniors and seniors, running the show. They were wonderful, and made me miss high school and theatre as well as their friendships. I miss the excitement of being part of a team, the rollercoaster of emotion, the bright lights and smudged make up, snacking on pretzels and Twizzlers since they didn’t mess up lipstick. Mostly, I miss my old friends, and I’m glad to get to see them again in only a few weeks.

I’m also determined to start learning German again—I’ve been so busy that it’s been pushed to the back burner, but I have my mind set on it.

So, yes. Self defense, German, and The Sound of Music. And, of course, huge bouts of creativity brought on by the A to Z Challenge. I’m really glad I followed through with the challenge. It too is giving me confidence, in my creative writing rather than my body. I haven’t completed writing a novel in a long time, and these little bursts of fiction are helping me feel like a valid creator again.

I’ll also soon be separately posting my book review of Maus and Maus II, so look forward to that today, as well as the letter “I” in about 2 hours. That’s about all I have–enjoy your Monday!

 

Ich bin eine Frau!

That’s about all I can say in German so far:) it is going well, though. I’m using duolingo and reading bits online, trying to find a good online course. I do have 6 months, but I’d like to get down at least conversational German. 

It is a feat to know two languages! I wish I was taught 2 from birth, or from an early age, like so many people are. However, I don’t think that will hinder me too much. 

People often say it’s far more difficult to learn a language after childhood, and this often discouraged me in the past. However, I’m going into this German thing with an open mind: sure, it may be hard, but not impossible. Completing challenges is good for the soul.

Open mindedness is, I believe, the key to happiness. Taking chances, making changes…it all comes back to being open to new things. So, here we go. Open, and ready. Ich bin eine Frau! Hear me roar (in German)!

Learning German

I think I’m going to start learning German. I feel like I should know a second language for my Europe trip, and frankly, American Sign Language just isn’t going to be the most helpful thing. I could brush up on my Italian, but I don’t plan on going to Italy, so I don’t know how helpful that would be.

I think German, because I don’t like the silent letters of French and there’s no real reason to learn Dutch, even if I’m spending most of my time in the Netherlands, because apparently everyone there learns English. So, German seems like the most obvious choice. We’ll see how it goes.

I’m lucky enough to be the sort of introvert who isn’t terrified of social interaction, even if I do need time to recharge. It took me a lot of work, but I’m also no longer afraid to talk to strangers. If I didn’t talk to anyone, a second language would be simply unnecessary.

I was asked recently what my favorite things about traveling were, and I said art, history, and food. I could spend hours in museums or just walking around a city. I could eat until I explode out of my pants. I like eating things where they’re famous, like fresh Maine lobsters or Louisiana gumbo, Canadian poutine and Italian pizza—which by the way I didn’t like at all. And I like seeing the local art, the “flavor” of the city, and I like being where history happened.

People came as an afterthought, because I haven’t travelled somewhere where they didn’t speak English in about three years. Connecting with people was something I just did, it wasn’t something I had to work at, and it didn’t seem like a “cultural” experience, or something I could only do on location. I meet new people all the time, it isn’t something unique to traveling…or is it?

After all, why am I trying to learn a language, where English is honestly probably enough? To connect with people on their level. To make friends over the language barrier. To be a traveler, not a tourist.

So, German. I have always loved German history, and the German language is so pretty to me…I may be in the minority with that opinion, though.

We do get to visit Germany, guaranteed, on a class trip—and even if that doesn’t happen for our semester, I’ll definitely spend a weekend there. I heard Berlin is beautiful.

Six months to learn conversational German. I’ve done more in less time…Let’s do it!

Auf Wiedersehen