Monthly Archives: July 2009

¿Lo dices en serio? – Are You Serious?

Scene

Joan at her computer, readying the next group of articles.  Luis and René (friend and video editor of Viajando en Español)  at her back talking as though she weren’t there.

Luis:  ¿Como está Paola?  ¿Como va su embarazo?  (How is Paola? (René´s wife) How is the pregnancy going?)

René:  Bien, normal …  (good, as would be expected)

Joan:  body turned toward computer as though in deep concentration, however if you were listening carefully you would have heard the hydraulic of her internal satellite dish reorienting to fix itself directly over these two guys that seem to heading toward thin ice.

René: (continuing with a tone of exasperated authority as though covering well trod territory):  “….quejandose acerca del dolor en su cadera …. pero pasa así … el bebé crece más rapido en el primer trimestre que en los otros y las caderas necesitan expandirse para acomodar la creatura.” (…..complaining about the pain in her hips, but that´s the way it is, the baby grows faster and bigger in the first trimester than in any other and the hips need to expand in order to accommodate the baby.)

Luis (Bio: neither father, gynecologist nor obstetrician): “¿Está con nausea y mal humor?  Siempre es así con todos los cambios en el cuerpo y por las hormonas.”  (Is she nauseous and crabby?  With all the changes in her body because of the hormones, it´s always like that.)

René:  “No con nausea pero con dolor de la cabeza y siempre está pensando, con cada sensacion en el cuerpo, que algo malo está pasando pero yo le dije que todo lo que está sentiendo es normal.”  (No, she doesn’t have nausea, but she does have headaches and with every little thing she feels she thinks that something is wrong but I told her that she is feeling what all pregnant women feel.)

Luis:  “Sí es así.  Ellas necesitan mucho consuelo, como niñas”  (Yah, that’s the way it is.  They need a lot of reassurance, like little girls.)

Joan:  (rrrrrrrrr, sound of satellite returning to it’s original position)

Analysis

Now one might conclude that what was said was not nearly as bad as what my first husband said to me. (In fact it was a series of these that lead him to receiving the number before his title)  When #1 heard me recounting to a friend how utterly painful labor was he said in all honest to god seriousness;  “You weren’t in pain!  Giving birth is like having the biggest orgasm possible.”  (What?  Hello?  You weren’t in that room with me?  Oh ya that’s right, you kept trying to sneak out to get something to eat!  You were the one experiencing discomfort and pain.  You must have missed my screaming and crying out and begging for a cesarean! )  To this ridiculous myth deserving sure and immediate death I retorted;  “Yeah, “big” in the same way pooping out an 8 lb watermelon is.”

So it wasn’t that bad what Luis and René had to say.  Still, there was an irritating attitude of  ‘all-knowing’ as these guys discussed what it was like to be pregnant.  I am THERE, in the room with them, natural birth mother of two, listening in …  and not even a ceremonial consultation for accuracy.  Man ….   But do you know what was the first thing that came to my mind?   It was NOT that all men every where act as if they had been female in a previous life,  because this is a truly perplexing and horrifying universal phenomenon across cultures.  NO!  Instead, the first thing I thought was; “Oh my gosh.  They are speaking in Spanish about this because they don’t want me to know what they are saying.  They know that they are fools and they know that I would totally bust them if I heard what they were saying so all boys-clubby like.  They don’t think that I can understand them!”  

Yes, it was insecurity over my Spanish!  Can you believe that!  My “I am woman, hear me roar”, took a back seat to what I perceived as their critique of my Spanish!  Rather than being amused (I’m too old to be outraged at this kinda stuff anymore) by the universal folly men seem to demonstrate about all things female, I was instead completly crushed about what I thought, they thought about my Spanish.

Holy cow, I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it a thousand times more …. three steps forward, one step back.  (But psst…lean in a little…..would you think me petty and childish if I were to tell you that I felt a little better this morning when Luis asked me;  “What does it mean to ‘jump sheep’?”   Biting the inside of my mouth I said with all the respect I could muster; “That’s ‘jump ship’ honey, ‘jump ship’.     Seguimos adelante,  Joan

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Pasión u Obsesión, esa es la pregunta – Passion or Obsession; That is the Question

…the question put to Luis and I by a new friend and fellow Spanish language enthusiast.  Well, the complete question went something like, “What is the difference between having passion for something and being obsessed by something?” 

It was a question posed innocently enough, over dinner, the four of us present;  she, her husband, Luis and me.  But appearances are sometimes crafted to camoflage  intentions and my amygdala went on full alert as I got a whiff of our 5th diner – danger.  Something about this question seemed loaded and the dynamics between her and her husband upon it’s uttering let me know that I was right.  Subtle dynamics to be sure, subtle in a taut kind of way that betrayed the self talk just below the surface;  “Keep the emotion out of your voice.  Appear ‘devil may care’.  Stay cool – we don’t know these people very well.” 

Well, I was hooked immediately.  Was it the dynamic across the table from me?  Or was it the question itself?  I knew the inquiry had to do with her interest in learning all things related to the Spanish language and the cultures within which it lives, but knowing this had more to do with ‘Spanish’ being the reason we had met for the first time only 2 hours before and were now having dinner together, not because the word “Spanish” had actually had been articulated.  It was one of those questions understood for the context.

While my amygdala was doing a scan of the area, I ventured cautiously;  “Good question, hmmm, I don’t really know.”  Yes, it was a cagey and clever response.  So complete in it’s simplicity that upon additional hemming and hawing, I came up with nothing more eloquent.

A couple of days have passed since the initial posing and I’ve used the question as a litmus test for a variety of situations just to get a full 360 view.  While arranging the same 3 flowers in a vase for the 8th time, I asked myself, am I passionate about how flora evokes mood or am I obsessed with spacial relationships.  While trying to decide when I should knock off work for the day, is the fact that I have to even entertain this question an indication of my passion and love for what I do, or is it my obsession to demolish my competition. 

And after some intense reflection, enhanced with the tiniest spot of Limoncello, I think I’ve come up with something. 

I think maybe “passion” is the internal experience ‘one’ has when they feel strongly for something.  This strong feeling could be manifest in behavior or not – that part doesn’t matter.  The strength of the feeling and how it probably lights up the pleasure centers of the brain when one thinks about it, is more the key here. 

“Obsession” on the other hand is merely the same thing identified from the opposite perspective.  That is, from the outside.  If I observed your “passion”, I would probably call it “obsession”. 

The difference between the two can be distilled down to a love of something being experienced from the inside, verses being observed from the outside.  The notion that there is a dichotomy inherent; a good vs. bad, a health vs. pathology is more misnomer.  Remember folks, the “map is not the territory”, its simply an instrument employed to make sense of something far greater than ourselves.

What moves us and why is one of life’s mysteries.  And though I am probably more apt to gravitate toward people who share my passions, I find people passionate about just about anything, captivating.  They epitomize vitality and fertility and promise and possibility, they have things to do, people to meet, places to go, more to experience, goals to accomplish.  Passion has it’s musk to be sure.  I would way rather be around someone who was ignited and on fire and heading in unexpected directions, than someone who still tells the same joke 15 years on.  Just kill me now if you know that we’ll be still talking in 50.

Yah, give me dynamics any day of the week.  I want the thrill of the chase, the romance of the unexpected turns, the mystery that keeps me seeking and at every satiating summit I want to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I staved off putrification and defeated death (of some kind) to get here.  

Maybe my trying to perfect a foreign language is your flying a 757.  It takes audacity to believe it can be done, courage to take it on and constant work to be sure that you are ready for whatever might come at you.  Even more, maybe my speaking Spanish and you flying a 757 means we couldn’t be more perfectly matched given our nature to take on any challenge and stick to it regardless of the odds we play and the fate we tempt.  Success is defined by challenge.   And if you are reading this Blog – at least one of your 757’s is Spanish or is it the other way around.  ¡Qué será!  Pasión es buena, ¿No?  Aliméntala –       Joan

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¡Vayase! – Get Outta here! parte II

43 days later –  Buenos Aires –  departamento que da a la calle, el 3 piso, con balcón (mi eleccion de modo que fue posible ver todo el mundo desde mi dormitorio)

Luis is already in the throws of “fining tune”, (that´s “fine tuning” en inglés) MY well thought out choices for my VERY OWN SOLO experience here in Buenos Aires.  “Honey, are you sure you want to be so close to that busy street… you will never sleep at night.”

Joan:

Luis:  “What time are you meeting this guy you will do that work with?”

Joan:

Luis:  “Maybe I’ll go to the bookstore where you’re meeting him too, because I have a couple of books I want to buy for my classes. ”

Joan: 

1 hour later – Bookstore Coffee Shop – Joan and Dr. Cabeza sipping espressos y platicando  (going well)

Luis:  “Hola, mi nombre es Luis, soy esposo de Joan.  Mucho gusto.  Yo estaba buscando libros para mi trabajo, soy profesor de español en el estado de Minnesota, cerca de Canadá.”

Joan:

Luis:  “Honey, sorry to interrupt,  I just wanted to ask you if you want me to look for a good cookbook for us to take home with us.”

Dr. Cabeza:  “Mucho gusto Luis.  Por favor toma un asiento.  ¿Quieres un cafecito?”

Joan:

Following day – address in hand – making a dry run on the Subte toward place of  ‘pacentia’

Luis:  “Okay, what you want to do is get here early, cause you can see that it’s total chaos at this time in the morning.  Now, you don’t have your purse do you?  Remember how I told you to keep all your stuff in your front pocket and be alert to the people on your sides and behind you?” 

Joan: 

Next day – first day of pacentia – Joan heads out alone – but this, only after very long discussion the night before about how Joan has already lived 50 years very successfully on this earth, at times even averting danger due to her measured caution, agility and general lack of stupidity.  The deal was sealed however only after an agreement to carry mace concealed in closed fist and to check in by cell every two hours. 

Joan has effortlessly negotiated 3 subway lines and 8 blocks on foot,  is almost at the clinic door where she will begin her first day of work.  An experience, born of an idea, that she took from it’s vaporous inception all the way through to it’s no ‘detail left unplanned for’, reality.  (well, except for the buying of the plane ticket)  She will be working with a well known and respected Psychologist, Director of a Clinic for chronic drug and alcohol dependents, the same man who was appointed to this position by the Argentinean Undersecretary of Mental and Chemical Health who in turn reports directly to President Kirchner.  She will be meeting with this Undersecretary later in her pacentia and could even score an introduction to the Prez himself.

Just a few steps more and Joan will be ringing the bell of the Clinic’s unassuming and secured front door.  Suddenly, out of no where she feels the presence of someone walking up way too fast behind her.  It feels as though this person does not intend to pass on either the left or the right, but is heading for a direct hit to her back side.  Joan thinks quickly and remembering that one of our best allies is the element of surprise,  she decides to interrupt the forward momentum of this person but stopping abruptly and whirling around to face them.  To add more confusion and by so doing maximize her advantage as well hedge her bets by alerting those people on the other side of the street that there is something happening on this side, she decides to yell, “¡Vayase!”  simultaneously.

1.5 seconds later, plan in place – Joan executes it

Joan:   Stops, whirls, yells – “¡VAYASE!”

Person:  Unintelligible scream, then;  “Honey, ¿Qué haces?   ¡Me matas de susto!”

Joan:  “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!”

Luis:  “I just wanted to make sure you got there safely.”

The people across the street stopped for a moment, looked our way, said something to one another shaking their heads as they spoke, then continued on.  It was pretty clear Luis and I knew one another – I suppose we looked like just another couple that could use the help of a counselor.         Stay safe and keep the love alive!   Joan

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¡Vayase! – Get outta here!

So we are in Buenos Aires about 2 years ago, Luis and I.  Reluctantly I brought him along on a trip that I arrange to get CEU hours for the renewal of my Psychology license.  He wasn´t invited initially mind you.  I wanted to do this on my own. 

The idea was to improve the Spanish I used at work.  I was already good at chatting it up casually with a native Spanish speaker, I could talk about the day´s news or what I thought would or could happen if something else occurred…I could even expound upon what the future held should you decide to embrace it.  Subjunctiveville.  I owned the town. 

But I was still missing two things critical to my practicing psychology effectively with the Spanish speaker.  The more obvious of these was  was vocabulary.  You know, how do I say …  Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Features of Anxiety and Depression, Differential Diagnosis of  Trichotillomania, Rule Out Borderline Personality, though this seemed quite straightforward and easy enough to pick up.  The less obvious but more critical thing I was lacking had to do with ‘world view’.   I didn´t quite get what was perceived as a problem and what wasn´t.  What the beliefs were surrounding why particular types of problems occur and what must be done to eradicate them, if it is even seen possible.  Fascinating stuff, but for other entries.  In this one I am wanting to talk about my marriage.

I´m fairly industrious and since all great feats start with nothing more than an idea and I was teeming with those … I figured I was off to a good start.  Idea;  study in Buenos Aires.  The obvious first step was to see if there were any conferences being offered during the time I wanted to go.  This investigation turned up a big fat ‘nada’, but not to go down with at least the appearance of a fight, I called Luis´ brother Dany, who lives in Buenos Aires and asked him who he knew, just to keep the momentum going.  Dany´s a heart doctor and not a head doctor, but I figured he probably has access to all the varieties through a hospital wide staff meeting or something, whatever, he´s sweet and I knew he´d come up with someone.  And he did.  Turns out it was not someone from the hosptial at all, but someone that happened to attend the same church he did.  Good enough.

Yippee, idea is turning into something that promises substance…. this is good.  Next – write letter to ‘head doctor’, (Dany didn’t know his specialty exactly, just knew he dealt with ‘los problemas de la cabeza’), tell him that I got his name from the guy with 4 girls that sits behind him and across the aisle at the 8 30 service at el Iglacia de San Ignacio, check.  Tell him that I want to do a ‘pacentia’ under him, offer some money for his trouble, sit back and wait.  Check, check, check.  Long story short, it’s a Bingo.  Time to buy the plane tickets.

After a long day at work, I come home to Luis jumping up and down.  “¡Habemos tickets!”   Luis, Southern Baptist, knows nothing of the Catholic tradition and found it fascinating when the new Pope was introduced to the world first with a ribbon of smoke from a chimney followed by the proclamation, “HABEMUS PAPA”.  So when ever something is really exciting to him, he takes liberties with the expression.  In this case “¡Habemos tickets!”   Brings to mind potatoes and chili peppers for me but anyway… when I heard him say “Habemos”, I heard the “…mos” part more than the “Habe…” part and knew I was in for the other shoe.  “Honey, I decided I am going too!”  What!?  What happened to all the “…you need to get out there and use the language, you need to take chances, you need to push yourself to the limit ….”?

…….to be continued…….             Joan

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Y entonces él empezó a llorar – And Then He Began to Cry

My comment was innocent enough, meant really just to break the tension; “No has tenido mucha suerte con las mujeres, ¿Eh?”  “You haven’t had much luck with the ladies?” 

He looked away from me then, his eyes searching something invisible to me in his perifery.  An ironic chuckle escaped which betrayed just enough emotion to cause a breach in his battle weary armor.  The tears burst through.  He was more surprised than I at how he crumbled … even though tears were not what I was going for specifically.  “La quiero, mucho.”  “I love her, alot.”  “Yo quiero que tengamos una vida feliz juntos.”  “I want us to have a happy life together.”

“¿Ella sabe que quieres esto?  ¿Ella quiere lo mismo?” “Does she know this is what you want?  Does she want that too?”

“No sé.”  “I don´t know.” 

“¿Con quien hablas acerca de las cosas personales?”  “Who do you talk to about your personal issues?” 

“Nadie.”  “No one.”  The tears continued.  He stopped searching his perifery then, found my eyes instead and smiled ever so slightly.

The human condition.  It takes surprisingly little to get beyond the veneer – if we cared to – if we needed to.  I know your ‘stuff’ cause it´s the same as mine.  The reverse goes without saying.  Remember “LIFE Magazine”?  It was famous for it’s photos not it’s words.  Why?  Because photos shoot beneath the veneer and beyond language.  Suddenly we are with the subject in their fear,  their lonliness, confusion, illness, hunger, mourning, celebration, relief, determination, victory. 

He has a life full of native Spanish speakers.  I am not one of those.  I am new to his language and yet with a bridge constructed of a few words familiar to him, I was was able to traverse the space between us to get  just close enough to let him know that I understood his human condition.  For the space of a few tears and a smile, he wasn´t all alone. 

Why learn another language? 

Well, could get you a new job, could get you your coffee the way you ordered it, could get you the best room in the hotel … or it could give you just one precious opportunity to ease the burden of another if only for a second.   There was more than one time that my life changed forever in that single second someone communicated to me that they understood me, that they were with me.  A picture may be worth a thousand words but one word can save a life.     ¡Salud!    Joan  –   Licensed Psychologist and Editor in Chief of  La Casa Rojas

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¡PELIGRO! Aprender español va a cambiar tu vida – Danger! Learning Spanish Is Going to Change Your Life

Many of you know from previous posts that Luis and I could not hail from more opposite extremes of cultural tradition.  My very German upbringing and his Latino has been the fodder for more color in our lives together than one could hallucinate after a few Pisco Sours. (actually, any descriptor that occurred to you before you actually read my artfully selected choice, “color”, would work here too)  How many pages is War and Peace or does the Iliad feel like it has? Well, that´s how many stories I have living with Luis – though he tells me he has at least double in ‘Joan’ stories.

Let´s talk color.  If any of you have seen the videos of Luis and I you will note that I am always dressed in some variation of  Black; that is, short sleeves, long sleeves, collar, sans collar, jacket, etc.  I may have thrown in a little grey once, but that is about as adventurous as I get with color unless I am going for maximum impact.  This is when you will see me play fast and loose with contrasts and throw in a blindingly white T.  Really, too much white or white in the wrong place, hurts my eyes. 

Now Luis will often be dressed in Black as well, especially if he is in the frame with me … I don’t usually like being in proximity to color either.  And to innocent voyeurs of these films all probably seems copacetic.  But what has gone on before the actual edited piece you all see is …  hmmm, how shall I put this … at least an hour of intense negotiation. 

Luis dons one shirt after another;  his Yellow, Red, Vibrant Blue, Kelley Green and his Violet.  With each color change, he walks out of the bedroom as though we had not had the discussion only seconds before that he really ought to take himself more seriously and wear one of the several Black shirts I have bought him over the years.  I’m flexible.  Any of them would do.

Scene change.  It’s time to paint our very modern Condo.  I do agree that the nearly all white walls are hideous and some shadow of color is called for.  At first we painted everything a very subtle beige which had a wild yellow undertone, well that is with the exception of one very dramatic long wall that followed the Dining Room into the adjacent Kitchen.  We agreed this crazy wall would wear a deep bricky red.  Don’t cringe, it was the kind of red that works well with hints of yellow.   But much to my astonishment, I warmed up to this color kick so much that in contrast, suddenly it seemed that the beige laid on the walls like a serious case of jaundice.

Too many unsuccessful trips to the paint store and enough nearly full cans of paint in our garage that we would could have been mistaken for the annex to our local Benjamin Moore led us to call in our good friend and ‘colorist’.  Please!  A colorist?  Desperate times as they say.  Remember I am German, we don’t call in ‘colorists’.  In fact I don’t recall ever hearing the word as I grew up.

Michael (of course, you knew it would be the proper of whatever name…) arranges 3 – 2 hours blocks of time with us.  One in the early morning light, one in the afternoon light and one with only artificial light – you know, like lamps and stuff.  Michael is lactose intolerant and if that doesn’t just say it all right there.

He brings in 4 cartons measuring about 3 feet by 2 feet and 1.5 feet deep.  He begins to pull out color “chips” and instructs us to say “yes” or “no” to the colors as he begins to deal them as fast as any Black Jack dealer I’ve seen deal cards in the movies…(remember, Joan is German, we don’t gamble).  The instructions are that we say what first occurs to us,  that we don’t over think it, that we don’t think about what colors goes with what and that we don’t worry if I say one thing and Luis says another.  (Phew, that’s good).  

So this is the way it went for 6 hours in various light conditions and in various rooms of the house.  When it was all said and done, we were handed a very complex color map of the 39 different and distinct colors that make up our freshly painted house.  That was not a typo, 39 is the number I meant to type.  And what’s more, Luis and I love it!

Okay, so it took a little counseling and mediation from a ‘colorist’, but in the end I moved a heck of a long way from Egg Shell and Luis moved a heck of a long from from Primary Colors.   We look around our home now and can see how each of us have really had a very significant impact on how the other now sees their world.  The colors in our home are truly symbolic and a clear outward manifestation of how blended we have become.  In fact we were so excited by what we had created together on the walls, we didn’t stop there …. we ripped the place down to it’s studs and completely rebuilt it.  We selected tile colors and designs for the bathrooms and kitchen influenced by our South American and Spain travels that even resulted in our ’tile guy’ asking us if we would allow him to bring his family through to see what we had forced him to do.

Did I ever think that learning Spanish would lead to my meeting my husband or kissing complete strangers in greeting or sitting close to someone when it wasn’t absolutely necessary?  Nope! We Germans don’t even smile that readily.  But these are some of the very happy secondary gains from my adventure to learn Spanish, an adventure that I embarked upon on a whim some 6 years ago now.  You will indeed continue to see me in Black, but don’t be fooled … there is lots of rich and vibrant color just a scratch below the surface.    Besos,  Joan    P.S.  Here’s a link to our home …..

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Practíca tu fluidez como un latino – Practice Your Fluency Like a Latino

I am kinda excited about my entry for today.  I was in a therapy session yesterday with one of my clients, from a Spanish speaking country.  She speaks only Spanish and she was was trying to say a word….in Spanish.  I watched her for a while and thought pretty early on in her struggle that I knew the word she was trying to say, but thought, geeze, I am the English speaker here, she can´t possibly be having trouble with the word I think she is trying to say.  So I watched and waited and little longer…and when she had not been able to spit it out for a few long seconds more…I ventured;  “¿Atmósfera?  “Sí.”,  ella me dijo.  “Nunca he podido decir esta palabara.”

Oh my gosh!  Are you kidding me?  A native speaker can have difficulties speaking their own tongue twisting words?  Holy Cow, this was just the best news I´d heard in week!  So many times, it´s me trying to eloquently explain my theory for this or that, or encourage, or motivate or whatever the delicate issue the session calls for, all while tripping around and over the trills and multi-sylabic overly endowed vowel filled words.  Remember, I am shooting for therapeutic credibility here and I´ve worked hard to get everything is in it´s place so that what I am about to say has maximum impact.  So when I go for the big internvention and my tongue goes all flaccid that ‘ah-ha’ moment loses just a little of it´s punch!  Ya know?

Well, I could hardly contain my glee as she repeated after me, sylable by sylable, “At-mós-fe-ra.”  I think when it was all said and done, this session could have been, all things equal, more therapuetic for me than for her!  (notice how this word is divided differently in Spanish, than we would divide it in English…cool, huh?)

Upon reflection later in the day and in talking about this incident with Luis, he reminded me of the day he and Rene, our video editor, were singing songs from their childhood.  As you know Rene is from Venezuela and Luis from Peru, but the songs they learned were identical and both concurred that they had to do with teaching them, as tiny tots, how to find the rhythm and fine-tune the pronunciation of their speech. 

I am going to have them record a couple of these songs and I´ll include them in another entry over the weekend….it´s really pretty hysterical.

This got me thinking about my own childhood and the songs that we were taught from preschool through 3 or 4 grade.  Well, I couldn´t remember any but I know we sang plenty and I suspect the songs were composed and employed for much the same reason.  Of course we had A, B, C song to help us remember our alphabet, there were some counting songs … and though we preferred to sing 99 bottles of beer on the wall, we were directed to sing 99 bottles of pop on the wall….please!  I remember the day I could sing the song from Mary Poppins, “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”.  that was a red letter day, no doubt!  I remember Dr. Seuss and his “Fox in Sox”.  In fact, I used that book with my kids.  We would read it again and again, faster and faster.  It was great fun and we would laugh a lot, but it also had its linguistic benefits.  I remember feeling my mouth all warmed up and able to speak with greater precision following a session with Dr. Seuss.

Now applying this back to Spanish as a second language.  There is no reason not to believe that as we begin to learn this or any other language, that it is important to find a way to get our tongue and lips the same, well, ethnic work out.  Obviously as a 50 year old, reading a “Fox in Sox” equivalent would fast become mind numbing … but this should not detour us from looking for other, more age appropriate ways to practise this essential skill.  It is a ‘learned’ skill.  Luis did not explode into the world with the ability to say “aeropuerto” o “deslegitimizar” o “polirubro”.  (actually I heard Luis having trouble with the second and third of these just today!  another great moment for me!)  

If we can say it, we can hear it.  And if we practise it we will get better at saying it so that we can be understood, understand better what is being said to us, and just get closer to that all coveted fluency. 

Luis told me this morning, “Honey, (I like how he starts with the endearment), you really need to take advantage of the voice recordings of the articles in La Casa Rojas .  Follow along with the article while you listen to the recording and then try to read it yourself sounding just like the author.”  “But Honey”, I said, “Remember, I am the one who helped MY Spanish speaking client with pronunciation.” 

Of course, this was just my quick defense.  I know he is right and it sent me off thinking about another session I had yesterday with a couple.  The husband found it necessary to repeat everything I said to his wife.  I would say it in Spanish and he would repeat me verbatim in Spanish to his wife.  To HIM she would respond with light in her eyes and a nod of the head….”Ohhhhhhh.”  Oh man!  Poco a poco.    Hasta mañana,  Joan

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