Monthly Archives: February 2009

Attack of the Capitalized Words, in which Miriam muses about Life, Languange, and Confidence

Today I went to lunch with Reyes, my premajor advisor (my ex-advisor?). She’s in the Spanish department, but I generally interact with her through the computer labs; computers make her terribly anxious, and she’s come in a couple of times when I was working, and I’ve been able to walk her through stuff. This most recent time I helped her re-scan a bunch of readings that were mysteriously not working sometimes, and she offered to take me to lunch. I quite happily accepted (while returning to Smith’s salad bar makes me very happy after a semester of iceberg and canned corn and canned shredded carrots and white asparagus, the “yay, home food,” effect only goes so far). We went to Amanous, a really really yummy Morrocan place, and talked – a lot about Spain (and differences between Spain and the US), but also about The State of the World Today and entymology and the random things that one talks about in conversations.

It reminded me incredibly of being back in Spain. Not even really speaking in Spanish, necessarily – but perhaps it has to do with the way that I comport myself when speaking Spanish outside of the classroom. I spent a lot of time in Spain being an Adult, conversing as an adult, moving through the world as an adult.

I’m not even entirely sure that I can explain the difference. Part of it has to do with being an Authority in My Own Right (about my experiences in Spain, or about What Things Are Like In The United States) and part about being a complete equal with the person I’m speaking with. I don’t feel this way when talking in class, even about things I’m confident on, or explaining computer stuff to faculty – perhaps that has to do with a certain care on my part not to be a know-it-all student Bringing The Light Of Modern Technology To The Fogies. It’s different that talking to the father of a friend who’s known me since I was wee little and still calls me Mim. I don’t even feel this way talking to my friends; perhaps there’s a part of me that still doesn’t believe we’re grownups; not like real-world grownups, and while I feel comfortable, having intriging discussions with my friends tends not to give me this feeling of grownupness.

Possibly I’m so aware of feeling confident in Spanish because I spent a lot of time and effort getting to where my Spanish is now, and I can clearly remember when it wasn’t that way. Eight years ago I couldn’t form a single complete sentence in Spanish. Today I held an entire lunch conversation in Spanish with a professor, and about the only times I needed to use English was when I couldn’t remember the words for carrots or beets, or we discussed the connotations of cheap (which isn’t to say that it was flawless; there were a couple of times when I got my tongue terribly tangled, and when we discussed the fact that I’m taking Portuguese, Reyes mentioned that I was using os for los and as veces (azvezez) for a veces (a vethes), but I was never at a loss for words). I don’t remember a time when I was less than competent in English, and so it does not surprise me that I’m good at it.

I’m a little bit different than I was before I went to Spain. Even this lunch is an example of it. I’m having trouble imagining myself in that situation before going abroad. Certainly not in Spanish – or at least, not nearly so fluently – but maybe not in English either. Although now that I think about it, I did spend an entire afternoon last summer hanging out with sarah-marie belcastro. But we were painting a large mesh pig yellow at the time, so I really don’t know if that counts.

I don’t know if that’s clear or not.

I haven’t forgotten about the pictures that I promised to post; I just haven’t gotten around to it. I hope that you haven’t all deserted me because I didn’t post for forever. I’ll try to post a bit more regularly from now on. I don’t have another fencing tournament until April, and that may help.



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