Monday, February 23, 2009

In tune

I thought I wanted to be a nomad to fit all my possessions in a backpack a traveler a poem writer speaker of seven languages an existentialist patriotic a wanderer adaptive courageous instead I am a burrower a lover of quiet evenings bonded to my home rooted a wife a daughter an immigrant solid dependable unmusical yet completely in tune



Tuesday, February 17, 2009


My brain refers to me in the second person an ever present stream of rebukes like a high strung overachieving hyper conscience you need to be better do more read more try harder despite the fact she never gives it a rest I like the insides of my mind just the way they are persistent noisy and architectural


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pass the thing

When Luca and I first met and taught each other our respective language, we delighted in words the other used. Italian and Spanish are both beautiful, and have many similarities, despite of which they are a lot more different than people assume.

Our favorite anecdotes are around “false pairs”, where the same word, spelled the same, means very different things in each language. (Try putting a word you know and use into a sentence where it means the opposite and examine your immediate reaction to it. If I told you “get in the car” actually meant “get out of the car” and let a day go by and yelled “get in the car!” what do you think you’d do?)

Learning each other’s language, and the fun inherent to it, continue to entertain us.

We have now been living in the United States for ten years, where we speak English in the office all day. Having three languages in common, we have adopted words from each one and peppered our sentences with a mix that we realize has become incomprehensible to anyone else (and often to each other.)

Most recently, we’ve discovered we are incapable of getting through a whole thought without some kind of abuse to all language. In place of the original creative flourish we displayed, we have reduced ourselves to sounding something like this: “Ah, we need to go to the watchamacalit to get the thingamajig” or “hon, did you, ummm, you know, whatever?”

The most alarming aspect is that about 90% of the time, even when the sentence is devoid of nouns (and sometimes verbs) we know what the other is talking about. The other 10% of the time, one of us stares while the other sits there locked in an internal struggle for recall. Or, we begin to holler, “Come on! Say it! Say it in ANY language!”

I fear we’ll soon be reduced to incoherent blabber.

We’ve hence resolved to lay down the law: a sentence begun in a language must be finished coherently in that language. No inserting words that don’t belong. No making up words (my favorite.) No long pauses where one secretly hopes the other will finish the sentence.

This is going to be…yeah. Phew. You know.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

25 random things about me

My friends Jill, Adriana, Nicole and Miguel requested that I share 25 random things about me.


I know I was supposed to post this text in the notes section of my facebook page and in turn pick 25 other people, but in an attempt to curb the madness, I am writing them here instead:


1.    I love to read.

2.    I love to write.

3.    I love words. Finding the right one is like touching the sky.

4.    I love food. To prepare it, to eat it, to talk about it. I will always want to know what you had for dinner.

5.    I prefer lemony or spicy over sweet. Green papaya salad over chocolate mousse.

6.    I tell the truth as often and as clearly as possible.

7.    There are people who had an impact on me who I no longer see. In most cases, I think that’s a shame.

8.    I am a lot less extroverted, aggressive, competitive and difficult than people initially assume. Don’t tell.

9.    I don't know if there is a God.

10. I believe there is an indestructible kernel of divinity inside each of us.

11. Whenever I had something good going and somehow sabotaged it, I concluded I had a self-destructive streak. I now realize my subconscious knows before I do when I am wrong to assume I have something good going.  I have a self-preserving streak, and I trust it. 

12. "Reliable" is one of my favorite compliments. (Failing that, I’ll take “smoking hot”.)

13. I will always look over my niece.

14. I learned to swim before I learned to walk. Being under water fills me with a primal happiness.

15. I need space. If I can't get it, I become first distant, then insufferable. I wish I didn’t.

16. I don't like parties. I go through great lengths to avoid them.

17. I feel lucky every day.

18. I feel grateful every day.

19. 87% of the time, I look forward to going to work.

20. 85% of the time, I like what I see in the mirror. The other 15% I think I’m ugly but find solace in the fact that I have uncommonly pretty feet.

21. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.

22. I have an aversion to clutter.

23. I have no patience. I wish I did.

24. I used to believe that worrying somehow protected the people that I love. I now think worrying is a colossal waste of energy.

25. The life I have today exceeds all my expectations.