please let it be the weekend already

 choucroute garnie

In addition to my French slump, I am finding it impossible to work at my actual place of work this week. The weekend cannot come soon enough.

In the meantime, I just read this mouth-watering article (yes, I am slacking off) and my stomach literally grumbled aloud. An extremely good reason to learn French: so I can take a food tour of France and gorge myself on galettes (gluten-free!!) and choucroute garnie, which sounds like just about the best thing on earth.

On that note, time to find some lunch!

Til Monday…

(Photo: Sungit Yabang)

in a slump

Scarlett O'Hara vows never to go hungry again

It’s been about three months since I committed to doing an hour of French and/or Spanish every day. I kept it up almost every one of those 90-something days – I guess that’s a good run. But now I’ve hit a period of sluggish, zero-motivation, would-rather-be-doing-anything-else apathy.

I know enough about myself to know that this happens whenever I take on challenging projects, and that most of the time I come out of my slump and get back on track, until the next dip, from which I eventually emerge, ad infinitum. There are highs and lows and I just need to take the lows with a grain of salt and the assumption that I will get back on the horse when the spirit moves me.

So for now I am giving myself a reprieve from my hour-a-day rule because I’ll only get mad at myself for inevitably breaking it. But this coming Monday I will force myself to attend a French Meetup and try to use that momentum to start up those Anki flashcard thingies soon thereafter.

Avec Dieu comme mon témoin, j’apprendrai le français! Because after all…

Tomorrow is another day quote from Gone with the Wind

I have like five readers but I would welcome your words of keep-on-keeping-on, even from strangers! Especially from strangers. That would be neat.

(get over the) hump-day inspiration: Ram Dass

Ram Dass quote

Something like 13 years ago, soon after I had moved to Los Angeles to start my career in documentary production, I attended a screening of “Ram Dass: Fierce Grace.” The man blew my mind. He seemed to embody peace and empathy and a calm mind. For 13+ years that sort of peace and empathy and calm mind eluded me (especially in Los Angeles!), but lately I’m realizing it takes much more of an effort than I have been giving it. The nice thing – as this quote rightly points out – is that you can start at any time.

So here’s to opportunities to awaken, ever-present, just waiting to be grasped.

done with duolingo

wooden human looking out window

Finally made it through Duolingo’s French exercises last week so now I have to figure out what’s next. I think I’m going to start doing vocabulary flashcards using Anki and/or sign up for an online language chat buddy. And keep forcing myself back to French Meetups.

Spanish has pretty much fallen by the wayside at this point, except for the occasional Destinos episode. I don’t want to lose the very little progress I made over the two months that I spent studying it but on the other hand this linguist told me that trying to learn two related languages at once is inefficient and will only result in confusion. So I’m taking his advice and focusing on French, which is the one of the two languages in which I am way further advanced.

I had been whiling away my time with Duolingo far longer than I probably should have. Now I turn to the great unknown, wistful already for the zany phrases I won’t be hearing again: ‘Pour qu’il vive je dois mourir.’ / ‘So that he may live I need to die.’ And: ‘Vous mangez des frites bien que vous soyez riches.’ / ‘Even though you’re rich you eat fries.’

Adieu, Duolingo! Parting is such sweet sorrow.

(Photo: Abdulrahman BinSlmah)

it’s le week-end!

jumping for joy on the beach

I’m so excited for three days off! I’ll be hiking in the Bronx, going to a Mets game in Queens, taking in rooftop films in Brooklyn, and brunching in Manhattan. The only borough left untouched this weekend will be Staten Island and no offense but I am not shedding any tears over that.

Here are some interesting things to read over the weekend – though not what I’d call beach reads…

How to overcome the fear of speaking a foreign language. (I need to take this advice.)

Who knew? This phrase is apparently more lowbrow than classy. 

9 habits of highly effective polyglots

See you on Tuesday!

(Photo: Jamie Henderson)

why learn Spanish

Spanish speaking corzuela pardas

There are a million reasons to learn Spanish. Here are some of mine:

Let’s start with the obvious. Because it is the second most spoken native language in the world, because it is the official language of 20 countries, because it is one of the UN’s six official languages, and because 20% of my hometown speaks it for god’s sake.

Then the practical. Because once you know English and French you’re only a hop, skip and a jump away from knowing Spanish, too. It would be quite a waste to have such a jump-start on a language and not bother to learn at least a little.

The aspirational:

Spanish Mediterranean coast

Because the Mediterranean is, when it comes down to it, the best place on earth. And quite a large chunk of the Mediterranean runs along the Spanish coast.

The personally appealing:

Because my favorite genre of literature, magical realism, has distinctly Latin American roots and I wish I could read it in its native language. Especially my beloved Gabriel García Márquez.

Because Spain seems to operate on my night owl clock.

interior of Gaudi house

Because then I could live in Barcelona and visit Gaudí houses every day. (I know they speak Catalan there. I know that is different from Spanish. I’d work it out.)

Argentina World Cup teamBecause Argentine men are beautiful. All of them. I know this from personal experience.

provoleta grilled cheese

Because provoleta – a grilled hunk of cheese with a crunchy outside and gooey inside, seasoned with oregano – is the best invention in the history of food.

And finally, because I started learning it and now I want to finish learning it. Simple as that.

(Photos from top to bottom: Me; Maria Rosa Ferre; Trey Ratcliff; R. Mazalan; Wally Gobetz)