Muchas Gracias, Dr. Seuss (Reflections on Learning a Language)

Okay, I am really not sure if I am ready to do this – at least not well, but I am going to attempt it anyway. Today, I shall write a blog post almost entirely in Spanish. I welcome corrections from Spanish speakers, but please be kind, as I am still far from fluent.

(Se puede escuchar esta entrada aquí):

Bueno, no sé la razón por qué todavia pienso que estoy tan lejos de hablar con fluidez. La verdad es que ahora, yo puedo entender mucho, y soy capaz de expresarme en alguna manera, aunque a menudo cometo errores o digo algo de una forma sencilla aunque en ingles, lo hubiera dicho de una forma mas complicada. Quizá es que siempre me he encantado el lenguaje, y a las palabras. De mi propia idioma, tengo una gran maestría, y supongo que hasta el dia cuando mis habilidades con castellano son el igual de las con ingles, yo pensaré que mi castellano no es muy bien.

el conejito

Como yo escribí en una entrada anterior, he estado estudiando castellano desde niñez. En aquellos dias, todo lo que yo tenia para aprender el idioma fue un libro muy chistoso por Dr. Seuss que se llamó The Cat in the Hat Dictionary in Spanish and English. A causa de aquel libro, me enamoré de una idioma.

Estas dias, todavia estoy estudiando castellano. Pero ahora estoy aprendiendo por leer libros mas grandes (Isabel Allende, a este momento), leer y escuchar las noticias, mirar programas y deportes en la television, escuchando y cantando canciones (como La Araña Pequeñita. Sí, es verdad. Una canción muy profunda, ya sé. Violenta, tambien. ¡Pobrecita araña!).  Ademas, yo practico por leer y escribir poesía en castellano (algo que me cuesta hacer, porque poesía es casi una idioma por si solo).

¿Y cuando hablo con otras personas? Ayyy…pues, eso es un poco más difícil. Para empezar, estoy una persona muy timida. Aún cuando estoy rodeada por otra gente, yo apenas digo nada – ni siquiera en ingles. Sin embargo, tengo suerte de tener un trabajo en que tengo oportunidades una vez en cuando para hablar castellano con los niños pequeños y sus madres. Estoy aprendiendo mucho de ellos, y asimismo, ellos están aprendiendo ingles de mi. De hecho, recien yo tenia una conversación con una de las madres en mi programa, durante que ella me preguntó muchas preguntas sobre el desarollo de su bebe. Claro, es la naturaleza de mi trabajo para responder a tales preguntas, pero yo no sabia que yo podia hacerlo en castellano hasta que lo hice. ¡Qué sentimiento de éxito! Tal vez todavia no tengo una gran maestría del idioma, ni puedo hablar con fluidez (ni escribir buen poesia, tampoco), pero puedo hacerlo. Puedo hablar castellano, la lengua bella a que yo he amado ya desde niñez. Y tal vez un dia, yo llegaré a estar menos tímida y hablar más con otras personas hispanohablantes, y si estoy tan afortunada, yo llegaré a cumplir mi sueño de viajar a un otro pais para estudiar el idioma un rato por una escuela de lenguas. Pero por el momento, voy a seguir estudiando y practicando castellano, y cantando La Araña Pequenita, y me intentaré sentir contenta con todo lo que he logrado desde aquellos dias cuando yo era niña, estudiando español con Dr. Seuss. (Muchas gracias, Dr. Seuss!)

La Araña Pequenita Cat in the Hat Dictionary in Spanish

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The Sun and The Moon

    The Promise

When you are an eagle

soaring round the mountains high

I will be the winds that lift you

I will be your summer sky

When you are a cloud

sprinkling rain upon the land

I will dance beneath your shower

I will hold your watery hand

When you are a flame

throwing heat and blazing bright

I will be your embers

glowing red throughout the night

And when you are the ocean

choppy waves and salty foam

I will smooth the shores before you

shine my light and guide you home

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    The Sisters

She is larger than all

golden, glowing arms

that light the air

and caress the earth

The growers’ delight

queen of spring

and glory of summer

goddess of the sky

She scoffs at her sister

whose small, gentle hands

glow soft and silver

through the night

But the sister smiles

for she is ruler of tides

prize of poets

and the song of every lover

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    Las Hermanas

Ella es más grande que todos

brazos dorados y brillantes

que iluminan el aire

y acarician la tierra

El deleite de los cultivadores

reina de la primavera

y la gloria del verano

diosa del cielo

Ella se mofa de su hermanita

cuyas manos pequenas y suaves

brillan tenue y plateado

durante la noche

Pero la hermanita sonrie

porque ella es soberana de las mareas

el premio de poetas

y la canción de cada amante

The Best Spanish (?) Rice Ever

Okay, so it is totally conceited to refer to my own recipe as The Best Ever. And it is ridiculous to call this Spanish Rice, as I am 98% certain that people in Spain do not prepare rice dishes like this. Really, it is Americanish Rice. But that sounds dumb. So do other cheesy Spanglish/Mexamerican recipe name ideas, like Fiesta Rice, or Tex-Mex Rice (I am SO not Texan!). Whatever. Let’s just call it arroz. Now let’s cook, because I’m hungry.

The Recipe

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 cup long grain rice, uncooked

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 jalapeño chili, chopped

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

2 cups chicken stock

1 can or 2 cups chopped tomatoes

1 8oz. can tomato sauce

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

salt to taste (plenty–at least 1 Tbsp.)

My Not-Quite-Spanish rice, after I cooked it for lunch today

Before cooking, create a Pandora music station based on Johannes Linstead, Jesse Cook, Armik, or Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra. Trust me…this will make the cooking more fun and the food more flavorful. Next, follow these directions:

In olive oil, brown onions with rice, jalapeño, garlic, cumin, and chili powder. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for approximately 30 minutes, or until rice is cooked. Remove from heat and stir in fresh cilantro. Enjoy as a side dish, or add a can of black beans or cooked, chopped chicken to serve as a main dish. Or roll in a tortilla with refried beans and cheese. Just enjoy.

 

 

Why Yes, There is a Point to Telenovelas

This week, my kids and I are home on vacation (hooray for the Presidents!). The children are busy playing video games, as the weather is too cold and foggy to go out. As for me? I have been curled up in bed, drinking tea, and doing what any normal American would do on such a day. Watching telenovelas.

(Okay fine, so maybe it is not such a normal American way to spend one’s time. But when have I ever been normal?)

Now for those of you who are all, “What the heck is a telenovela?” imagine a cross between a soap opera, a cheesy romance novel, and a radio melodrama. Really, most telenovelas are so awful, I can hardly make it through an entire episode without cringing. But every now and then, I come across one that captures my attention. Currently, I am twelve episodes into a program called Eva Luna, which has the typical telenovela romance storyline: a handsome, wealthy man and a kind, beautiful poor girl fall passionately in love and carry on a secret romance, even though discovery would result in disaster for both. Yes, the acting is often lousy, and the plot sometimes makes me groan, but still, I am glued to my seat.

Now before you mistake me for one of those stereotypical, shallow    soap-opera fans who only tunes in to drool over the hot male actors, I  should explain what drew me to telenovelas in the first place. Remember when I mentioned how one of my lifelong goals has been to speak Spanish fluently? Well, it is impossible to become fluent in a language that you never hear. A friend of mine once suggested that watching television programs in Spanish is a good way to pick up the language. And so I have tried watching everything from Plaza Sesamo to absurd game shows to partidos de fútbol en español. But somehow, it is the zany, drama-filled, hopelessly romantic world of telenovelas that draws me in. Maybe because telenovelas are filled with such vibrant, colorful characters and intense passion. Or maybe it is because telenovelas give us a chance to root for the underdog, or to believe in the impossible, or to hope that above all, love will prevail.

Or, I don’t know, maybe sometimes it is the hot male actors.

Side Note (and Rant): On the not-so-humorous side, I am intensely bothered by the emphasis on a European standard of beauty in many telenovelas. With so many beautiful people with brown skin, black hair, and brown eyes, why must the stars of these dramas constantly have pale skin and light-colored eyes and hair? Why are darker people cast only as villains or servants? It is so archaic and demeaning, and really, worthy of a blog post of its own. Coming soon…

Popcorn for Dinner (aka My Family and Me)

First of all, this is me, Tiare. You say my name like this: Tee-Air. Unless you speak Spanish, in which case it is Tee-AH-ray. (I like that way better, but we’ll go with the original).

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If you want to know more about me, well, read my About. But I will give you this random detail: I am crazy about coffee and tea, and I eat popcorn for a meal at least twice a week. Popcorn, mmmmm…….
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Now take a peek inside our living room window, and you will find my family (probably gathered around the television, playing video games. Or frantically racing around, trying to find matching shin guards or missing clarinets or gymnastics leotards or field trip permission slips, because we are about to be late for something).

Here’s what we look like when we are NOT running late for something:

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And that’s my family. Now quit peeking in my living room window.