Category Archives: Spanish

Untitled Day

The first link is NSFW: if you don’t like cursing, do NOT open the link. If you’ve never seen the website or read the material elsewhere, congratulations! https://markmanson.net/not-giving-a-fuck

I said the words as a joke. But I felt the reverb in my head and knew that I inadvertently shared a truth: “In October, I realized I was in an abusive relationship. With food.” Someone who hadn’t seen me in a year was shocked that he didn’t recognize me. Yes, I had a mask on. And lemon-colored glasses. He asked me my secret: “Short answer. Keep mouth closed. Second. I found a vision of my future life in my head that I had no choice but to pursue. And I am.” He congratulated me and of course asked me the usual questions.

In my head, I think about my previous food-driven life and consider it an addiction. Old thinking won’t keep me on track. My treatment will be life-long. And if not, me living a life that doesn’t contain what it should will be a certainty. Though it may sound unintentionally new-agey to say it, the vision of my life that flashed in my head in October when I started all this didn’t contain a deviation. Old habits will continue to be replaced by new pleasures.

Someone who didn’t interact with me before now periodically takes a moment to ask about my transformation. Today, he surprised me by saying, “I knew when you told me this was going to stick. Months have passed, and it’s like a switch did break in your head. I hope you take that momentum and expand it to other things.” He was sharing truth and an observation. “I am, yes,” I told him. “Losing all this weight was just a piece of the puzzle. Somewhere in all, this is an ‘after’ that might surprise everyone.”

A few minutes later, I was loudly playing verbal volleyball with a co-worker in Spanish. Another employee from another department turned and looked at me a couple of times, unsure. Still hammering away in Spanish, I neared the third employee, and his eyes widened. “You’re just full of surprises, aren’t you, X?” I laughed. “I hope so. I forgot myself for a while.” The words exited my lips, and I recognized the essential truth I had blurted out. Anticipating his next question, I told him that I am not Latino. And then added that what I do for a living in no way touches the perimeter of who I am or what the world inside my head resembles. He laughed. “Yes, I knew that the first time you said something to me.” He shook his head, still laughing. I told him a brief synopsis of my Spanish journey. “I couldn’t learn Spanish, X,” he said. “Do you think I possess superpowers? Can you learn one word a day?” He looked confused. “Superpowers? You might! But yes, I could learn one word a day, I think.” I laughed. “Well, there you go. Don’t look at the idea of learning Spanish as unwinnable. Take a shovel and take one lump at a time. In a year, at one word a day, you will learn about three times that many due to association. AND, the average speaker only uses about 800 different words a day, regardless of language.” He looked at me in surprise. “I never thought about it like that, X. For a second, you convinced me that I could do it.” At that point, I told him, “That idea you had for a second? The one where you thought you could do it? That is the secret. You can do it. You don’t have to promise to do the whole thing. Just take one word and step at a time.”

Later, I had a couple of lemon moments that surprised even me.

Though I was working, the morning held its embrace out for me, in unexpected ways. I’m grateful to the universe.

I wore my shirt inside out the entire day. People looked, but no one commented. People noticed, especially the clerk who sold me a lottery ticket. She laughed but said nothing, even as I pirouetted away from the register with a dancing flourish.

Unrelated to anything:

https://www.litographs.com/

https://offensivecrayons.com/collections/frontpage/products/original-offensive-crayons

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/03/about-85-of-people-only-breathe-out-of-one-nostril-at-a-time/

https://theoatmeal.com/comics/believe_clean?fbclid=IwAR14pSw_6pHAKCW7L9hBrIDyUgnZn4XVIoA3w06eNfI7PYFFvmW92yN5JX8

X

Best money for an honest opinion you’ll ever spend. If that sort of thing is important to you. If you have someone in your life who observably finds you appealing, that is the best definition of attractive imaginable.

.

.

I’m probably the last person you’d expect to have an opinion about clothing or fashion. My past self was disinterested. Being fat makes much of the concern difficult to navigate. Once upon a time, I loved crazy clothing and vibrant, ridiculous colors. That love has returned.

Now that I look at ‘fashion’ (whatever that is) with a thinner eye, I discovered something I knew before: I am a huge fan of asymmetrical clothing. Shirts, vests, dresses, everything. I don’t remember noting the inclination as strongly before. Maybe there wasn’t as much of it. Maybe it’s me who has changed.

Interestingly, science fiction tends to portray most people in the future as fans of asymmetrical clothing. Don’t get me wrong: normal cut and other clothing is still interesting. But I find myself seeing the odd angles and mismatched materials much more interesting. I guess there is hope for me not getting old yet. In case you’re wondering about the last comment: it is difficult to find new things and enjoy them and feel old simultaneously.

.

.

.

On a personal level, I haven’t lost a lot more weight. I’ve lost some. But I have not jumped on the scale. I’m at a plateau and I’m still okay with that. But do I feel thin? Lord, yes, I do, even though I have a pudge. I’ve yet to lose all sense and dive into unhealthy behavior, at least in regards to eating. I hope I don’t lose this sense of gratefulness to the universe for providing me with this feeling. I’m still convinced terrible consequences were impending without this big weight loss. I’m equally convinced that being significantly thinner is going to keep me smiling, even when other things might not, for quite some time.

.

.

Being bilingual sometimes causes awkward laughter. Earlier this month, I invented a better, new word that better expresses what younger people want for Feb. 14th.

“Will you be my valentine?” will now be replaced with the more accurate, “Will you be my sinpantalón?”

¿Quieres ser mi San Valentín? = ¿Quieres ser mi Sinpantalón?

.

.

As an educational comment. Many people do not know that a standard 9 volt battery contains six AAAA batteries (now obsolete, of course) linked in a series. Additionally, If you connect two 9 volts to opposite polarity, you create a hand warmer. Also a detonation device if you’re not careful.

.

.

In a move best characterized as “ill-advised,” John located his martial arts studio adjacent to an Anger Management Institute franchise.

.

.

Just me? “She Talks To Angels” by The Black Crowes summons a strident desire to recommend a competent mental health professional for the protagonist of the song.

.

.

Now I understand why I’m obligated to buy expensive toilet paper: the Bible instructs us, “Be fruitful and multi-ply.”

.

.

.

.

Feb. 11th

Coming over the hill into the long valley, I realized mine was the only car. Ahead, the ground and everything around it was strangely illuminated from winter’s touch. Winter did not bring its worst to us last night, choosing a subtle reminder that certainty eludes us. Far ahead the emerald traffic light burned with a green intensity. Go. Proceed. And I did, though I wanted to linger in the early February morning, as the world slept. On to work I came, as Evermore melodically hypnotized me. Go. Proceed. The emerald light is somewhere out there.

.

.

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may” is great poetry. But evidently a terrible horoscope for the day.

.

.

Day after the Super Bowl

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: complaints about the halftime show are proportionally correlated to the likelihood that Centrum Silver is somewhere in the speaker’s medicine cabinet.” – X

.

.

The pandemic was a really bad time to start using mustard in the hand sanitizer dispensers. That’s what my manager shoutily told me.6 Comments

(Shoutily is a word because I say it is. You’re welcome.)

.

.

If I had a kid, I would name him or her “Mnemonics” so that people would be unable to forget the name without looking foolish.

.

.

“‘X, how would you describe his intelligence?””Well, ‘Parts On Order’ adequately covers it.”

.

.

Titles don’t impress. Even the monkey closest to the tree trunk is the Branch Manager.

.

.

The above picture made me remember Amen Tailor.

.

.

The above is to be used when you find yourself irritated that people place ideas over other people.

.

.

.

.

The Joke

This is “the” joke I read in Spanish at a restaurant in Tulsa many years ago. Upon reading it, I realized that whatever controls language had clicked full-on for me in Spanish. The subtlety of the dumb joke caught me off guard and I’ve not forgotten that moment.

*

A Sergeant and his Lieutenant are on the edge of a wide prairie. Both are laying behind a slight rise on the perimeter of the prairie. The Lieutenant looks through his spyglass.

“Sarge, take this and look at the group of Indians riding toward us and tell me if you think they are friends or enemies!” The Lieutenant hands Sarge the telescope.

The Sargeant hits the Lieutenant on the shoulder. “Duh! I don’t need to use the telescope. They must be friends if they are riding so close together like that!”

Potato-Peeled Heart

The title of this post popped into my head as I ran from work today. All of us have our struggles. I catch myself in surprise by the dusk in my head. Though I wasn’t consciously thinking about it, I’d walked across the parking lots and sidewalks in the rain, still wearing my mask. It was an absurd moment. “Lost in my thoughts” doesn’t begin to describe the floorless circumstance of my mind. If you’re lucky, you’ve had meditative moments of selflessness like that. In dense moments, they often save us from what streams in our heads.

Ricardo Arjona recently released another album. One of the songs, “El Amor Que Me Tenía,” among others, hit me like an anvil. I learned a lot of poetry and vocabulary from Arjona. He’s known for his turn of phrase. It fundamentally resonates with me. Musicians like him broke open the capacity in me to see beyond language. If Spanish were to become my primary language, I would devote myself to speaking like Ricardo Arjona writes his music, no matter how perplexed people become. I find myself wishing we spoke English the same way, too, but it is difficult to find anyone interested and willing to spend the day deconstructing the absurdity and content of what we say. (Yes, such a willingness is one of the things by which I evaluate a person. Those who demonstrate such an interest won’t ever be disappointed by circumstance.)

One of my co-workers from another department is an avid Arjona fan, too. He got excited when he realized that I had the new album. It amazes him that a gringo like me can appreciate such musicians’ subtle capture in his native language. I brought it, and though we don’t overlap many hours a week at work, I played it on the computer/jukebox I rebuilt at work. Today, my co-worker returned briefly to pick up something. He asked me to put “El Amor Que Me Tenía” on again. I did and increased the volume in the vast space to the point that the angels trembled. I left him there in the back of the room. As the song started, he sat and listened with the rapt attention of one enthralled. It’s rare to see another adult so rapturously engage with a song. When the song ended, he stayed seated for the next song. He emerged from the shadowy area in the back and looked reinvigorated. Whatever it is in that song, it found its way inside him. We now have a shorthand we can use to connect to that kind of music and message.

Whatever the moment with his immersion in the song was, it is a shame that we don’t have such moments several times a day. They ground us in our humanity, and in the parts of our lives we let slide from our grasp.
*


P.S. “This amazing story was brought to you by me.”
(A line I felt obligated to steal from a winsome writer.)

How Do You Say

After decades of watching people, I can share an obvious secret with you.

People don’t work to learn another language because it exposes us to our ignorance. It’s not because they’re lazy. They are nervous or scared. If you find someone who doesn’t fear their ignorance being on display as it diminishes, keep that person in your life. They are rare. All of us start from complete ignorance for every language. When we already know one before starting a new one, what we think we know trips us like an endless bucket of banana peels.

If you are lucky enough to speak English as a first language, trust me when I tell you that you won the lottery without purchasing a ticket. Please do everything in your power to forgive others as they struggle with the mess we’ve made of our language. Please take a second and consider that they’re using another language. I know that the necessity of needing to speak or write another language ADDS pressure to those in that position and adds difficulty. Whether it is the case for you, I’m an idiot if a proverbial gun is to my head.

Also, if your accent is remotely like mine, you might sound a bit weird. As the old joke says, the last thing you want to hear your brain surgeon say is, “Y’all are going to be alright.” I’ve butchered so many words that I should have a Dexter spinoff. One thing some don’t know about me, though, is that language is a melody that excites me, and when I find myself forgetting what once was at my disposal, I feel a bit of loss.

For language, all any reasonable person is going to ask is that you try. It helps to be able to laugh at yourself. People learning other languages is a joy to witness. There’s no better comparison than observing a child conquer something complex; mastery soon seems inevitable. Laughter and self-observance is a considerable part of a good learning plan.

Yes, people don’t take the time, that’s true. With a couple of other people before, I proved to them that a person could learn a LOT of another language by just learning one word a day. Like all learning, words begin to associate, stick to another, and create grooves in your brain that you might even realize have formed, in the same way lyrics fall surprisingly from your lips. You’ll soon learn phrases, insults, and wit. Anyone lucky enough to hit the milestone of laughing at a joke that isn’t directly translatable experiences a deep satisfaction at having done so. For me, I will never forget the abstract joy of telling my Sarge/Lieutenant On the Edge of The Prairie joke in Spanish.

Most of us only use around 800 different words a day. I’m not talking about Tiffany or Jessica, who seems to rattle off 800 a minute. They only use four different words, and two of them are both the word “like.” Sorry, Tiffany.

Truthfully, it is not the words per se that create difficulty for us. It’s the connecting words and the ridiculous verb tenses we allow in our language. If you can overcome your initial fear, you can communicate a lot of information using words as a toddler does. You don’t need the word “sublime” in your vocabulary during a typical day – nor do you need to master the future perfect tense, subjunctive or otherwise, in either English or the language you are learning.

I know there are people out there who have always toyed with the idea of another language. If you learn nothing else from me, please hear this: if I can get to a decent level of mastery, anyone can. Even if you only remember a few words, those few words will push your mind outside of its normal limits.

It’s Just a Song

bruno-emmanuelle-Gi6-m_t_W-E-unsplash

A couple of nights ago, I was scrolling YouTube on the FireTv app. I tend to discover a trove of songs in other languages. When I began to learn Spanish enough to discover nuance, music in Spanish opened my mind and heart to other styles I hadn’t appreciated. There are many words that I still associate with the first time I understood them through music. Artists with clear voices gave my dubious English-oriented mind the opportunity to understand them.

If I’ve heard it before, I don’t remember it. A song titled, “¿Quién Dice Que No?” by Oscar Cruz played. The video was overly dramatic but the song in its simplicity hit me in the face. Listening to the song again, I was struck by the simple majesty of Oscar’s voice.

As I do with all such songs, I listened to it several more times the next day.

Curiosity overtook me. I discovered that Oscar Cruz won the first season of the Mexican version of “The Voice.” And rightly so. The show and his judge/coach failed to return Oscar’s contribution by helping him afterward. After all, people like Oscar are what makes the judges million dollar salaries possible. While Oscar plays several instruments and has a booming voice, his advancing age make stardom an elusive goal for him.

While there is a lot of his music I’m not partial too, I will always remember the first time I heard this song. Oscar plays several instruments.

After reading about Oscar’s story, I realized I had seen his performance of Piano Man in Spanish on La Voz Mexico a few years ago.

I wonder what he thinks of his momentary fame a decade ago.

¿Quién Dice Que No?

iii-xxiv-mmxx

In the midst of this torrent of surprise and unforeseen circumstance, some of us have found means to engage our sense of morbidness and humor simultaneously.

I’ve always been more extroverted and loud as a Spanish speaker. One of my catchphrases is catching on. No one means any disrespect.

In fact, because we are in the barrel of this thing together, we’ve earned a bit of leeway from outsiders.

I created a shorthand way to say, “Hey, we’re above ground and working when a steadily increasing number of people aren’t.”

In Spanish, it’s “Los muertos no caminan.”

It literally means, “the dead don’t walk.”

I use it as a greeting, as a reminder – and honestly, almost as a tentative prayer.

Not all of us are going to see the end of this spectacle. None of us will be unscathed.

But we’re still walking with a bit of either optimism or denial.

Above it all, we nod and smile as we say, “Los muertos no caminan.”

I hope to see us all on the other side of this.