Friday, May 13, 2011

Now where did I leave that sense of humor?

You're probably sick to death of reading about my quest to improve my very rudimentary Spanish. I'm leaving for Mexico July 1, and I've been approaching it all oh-so-seriously. For example, when it became apparent that I couldn't just pluck out all the Italian words I knew and replace them with Spanish, leaving the grammatical structures intact in my brain, I sprang into action.

I cancelled my subscription to RAI-TV.

I stopped buying Corriere and Gazetta dello Sport.

I stopped flipping through the latest issue of L'Espresso in a hot bubble bath.

I've missed the news from Rome and all the latest episodes of Inspector Montalbano, I don't have any idea what's going on in the Amanda Knox appeal, and I haven't seen any funny Berlusconi plastic surgery photos for weeks. Consequently, I've become very grumpy. And not only has my Spanish not improved, but I've regressed so quickly in Italian that when a friend greeted me with the usual Ciao bella, come stai?, I completely froze and finally blurted out, Muy bene, gracias, e tu? Eh? My dreams of code-switching are rapidly going up in smoke!

So Wednesday when I was having my weekly conversation in Spanish with my friend Fernando from Staten Island, I was becoming increasingly frustrated as I struggled to express myself. I couldn't get out a full sentence without backtracking and correcting myself, and about half of what I said was still in Italian. If you know me, you'll be shaking your head here because you know that when I'm upset, my voice goes up several octaves and gets squeakier and squeakier. Finally Fernando put a gentle hand on my arm and said, "Dios mio! That's who you remind me of! Eres Piolin!!!! Hahahahahahahahaha!"

Piolin ! Tweety Bird! I stared at him dismayed for about a minute before I realized what a perfect ass I've been the last few weeks. Why the hell have I been stressing out and aiming for perfection? It's taken all the fun out something I love. Finally, I busted up laughing and vowed then to leave my evil twin, Type A Loony Tunes, home this summer. I'll just have to depend to some extent on the kindness of strangers.

Mexican pop music is still playing in the background as I clean house and surf the net, but instead of taking notes and running to the dictionary every two minutes, I'm singing along at the top of my lungs (sorry, neighbors). And now that I've relaxed into the language, I'm feeling more receptive and able to communicate, on a basic level, anyway. So you'll excuse me now while Mr. Bubble and I run a hot bath and indulge in a little gossip about the Vatican!

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