Friday, May 29, 2009

If I Poop On My Keyboard Will You Read What I Write?

I've never pooped on a keyboard before. To be honest I never really had a reason to. I mean, yeah, sure I've thought about pooping on a keyboard, you know, just as a joke, cause let's face it as Danny Devito once so eloquently put it "poop's funny".

So I admit I've thought about pooping on a keyboard, but I definitely had never thought about pooping on my own keyboard. Until last week. Now I can't stop thinking about pooping on my keyboard. Why you ask? Because of a blogger. A certain "new age" blogger who gives everyone wonderful advice like:
Make sure that when you break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend you call them every couple of days to let them know that you love them and that they are still important to you.
And ridiculous statements like (and this is only a slight exaggeration):
My next door neighbor's, son's, best friend's cat died the other day. It was one of the most sorrowing experiences of my life. To deal with such an utter travesty and to protect myself and remind myself how precious life is I spent three weeks in a state of silent morning.
And I just wouldn't be doing them justice if I didn't mention that the aformentioned blogger has based an entire career on instructing people on how to live their lives free of stress, anxiety, suffering, etc. As far as I can tell they have absolutely no professional credentials to back up all the bullshit advice they are spewing. Case in point, the first statement above, if my girlfriend dumped me, and then continued calling me to tell me how much she cared for me and that she still loved me, I would be so fucking confused I swear my brain would literally explode, like this.

So what does any of this have to do with pooping on a keyboard? This "professional blogger" has over 14,000 subscribers. If 14,000 people subscribe read this garbage surely 14,000 people will want to read what gets published by someone pooping on a keyboard, right? Let me know if you will read what happens when I poop on my keyboard. If 14,000 people will read it I will commence pooping on my keyboard on a daily basis.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Small Town Serenity

Natalie and I have been living in cities now for the last 5 months straight. Wonderful, exciting cities with lots of people to meet, places to go, and things to do, but there has been one problem with these cities. They have all been cities. So while cities have equaled lots of wonderful things they have also equaled: smog, noise, smog, traffic jams, diesel fumes in my nose, having to catch buses or the metro to go places, smog, and more smog.

For a change of pace this weekend we headed off to Salento, a gorgeous little town of about 3000 people nestled in Colombia's coffee region. Aside from great coffee and great views, there was an (over)abundance of clean air, and hiking opportunities abounded. Small town life seemed to serve as a bit of a wake up call for us. While we may love Medellin and plan to spend a bit more time here, the next stop will definitely be a small town either in the mountains or on the beach. If anyone knows of a place that matches that description give me a shout.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Funny thing about learning a new language... keeps getting harder. I think I have just come to this realization in the last couple of days. Spanish is not getting any easier. In fact, beyond a doubt - and much to my surprise - it's getting harder.

Four months ago I felt like I was really starting to grasp the language. I was taking courses at a university in a Spanish speaking country, I had made my first friends in a foreign language, obviously it was just a matter of time and practice, right?

Wrong. Four months later my knowledge of the language has grown exponentially, and yet everyday I am reminded at how far I have to go to actually say that I speak this language.

Here's the problem. When you are learning a language you are really focused on the basics. I'm not just talking about the basics like Hola, yo soy Augusto and te odio. No, what I am talking about is that basic collection of say 3000 words or so, and those maybe 300 really common phrases that you will be using all the time. Those are the building blocks (along with the grammer that supports them of course) of basically every conversation. Once you have that down you can have conversations. And there in lies the flaw in my original thinking. I always imagined that when you reached that point you spoke the language. You don't.

What you do at that point is bastardize the language. That's what I have been doing for about the last month or so, bastardizing the language (I had to throw that in for a second time because it is so rare that I get to use the word bastardize, that's three). In a way it's almost worse than when you are learning the language. When you are learning the language you can always say things like "Oh I don't know the pluscuamperfecto de subjuntivo yet, that's why I said that wrong." Now, I don't have much of an excuse. As hard as it is to believe I do know the pluscuamperfecto de subjuntivo. So now I just go around wisely offering sage advise like "Debes demandar que ellos tragan los tiquetes." (You must sue that they bring the tickets.)

Is it hopeless? Definitely not. I've really learned Spanish. Now if I can only figure out how to speak it...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

T'was weird...

I know Diego and Angela really well. I spend at least a couple of hours with one or both of them everyday. They are our Spanish professors, and our best friends here in Medellin. I have had interesting conversations with them about all sorts of topics, and while they may speak Spanish, English, and French, they always speak Spanish with Natalie and I. So last night we proposed a grand experiment; what happens when you take four friends who always speak to each other in one language, and instead make them speak to each other in another language?

The answer? Complete and utter mystification and hysteria. As Natalie bluntly put it "I'm really weirded out right now." The implications of changing the language you speak in, and the relationship dynamic that comes with it, especially when one couple speaks their second language way better than the other couple (Diego and Angela's English is way better than our Spanish, and their accents are WAY sexier) was fascinating. Diego kept saying, "You know we are the same people right?" But it was hard to believe. There was only one thing to do in a situation like that. Drink until it seemed normal. Which we proceeded to do with great success.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Brain Is FRIED!

Sunday had to be one of the most exhausting days of my life. No I wasn't climbing a mountain or busting my ass at the gym for three hours. Instead I was at a small cabin in the mountains surrounding Medellin, eating BBQ, drinking wine, playing football, and speaking Spanish. Ten hours of nearly uninterrupted Spanish with my professor's family.

While it was easily one of the best days I have had since I arrived here (the kindness of Colombians is truly overwhelming), I am not sure if I have ever tried speaking only Spanish for such a long period of time. Arriving home that night I felt more tired than I have ever felt after any physical activity I have ever done, and as mentally fatigued as I felt after completing the MCAT. I lay in bed, not able to read, nor able to watch tv.

There is no doubt that my Spanish is improving, but everyday I encounter new situations that I don't know vocabulary for, or new situations that I need to focus all my energy on simply to have conversations. I never knew it was going to be this hard!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My Tipping Point

I keep wondering if and when I am going to reach that special place in my quest para dominar Spanish. I notice improvements everyday and keep waiting for that moment when all of a sudden it all makes sense. When the floodgates will open and when all I will have to do is stand there and become completely submerged in the language.

I don't know if this is something that can or will happen, maybe learning a language isn't like that. Maybe there is no one special moment when it all makes sense, but in my mind there is. I always imagine one day that I am going to wake up and I will just be speaking the language without any difficulty.

I dreamed in Spanish earlier this afternoon (something weird where I was explaining that you don't go hunting when you are rock climbing to a random guy on the street). I love dreaming in Spanish. I don't do it often but when I do my speech is beautiful and rich, full of expression and always, always without a single error.

I'm wondering if I should down half a bottle of Tylenol P.M. and go to sleep listening to a Spanish podcast. It might just be the best Spanish conversation of my life!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Medellin Part II

I can't believe I have actually been back here for a week now. It really is one of those things where it seems like just yesterday I was stepping off the plane into what resembled a quarantine zone (every official at the airport was wearing a mask and there was a nurse taking people's temperature).

Within four hours of landing in Medellin my Spanish professors (Diego and Angela) had helped me find a great new apartment in an awesome neighborhood. We are settled in now, and enjoying the routine of Spanish classes in the mornings, work in the afternoons.

Other than that I just don't have much to report. I guess this blog post was prett pointless and kind of sucked. Sorry...I'll try to come up with something better for the next one. Wait! I got it, what if a giant man-pig-bear or bear-man-pig attacked Medellin. Now that would make for a good story. I'll get on that one.