Monday, April 26, 2010

Face Off

This is not exactly a hockey match, but when the puck dropped, I had to concede to my husband. I'm referring to my six hour stint on Facebook. He's not ready for me to get tangled up in the World Wide Web. So, the Face is off, but the blog is still on. Reflecting on it, I know my friends will be there when I really need them because my Mama's Grapevine is alive and well.

Today Rosetta had me jumping through more hoops. The reading is the easiest, but speaking is still a challenge. I put on my best Antonio Banderas accent, but still mess up when speaking without prompts. For one thing, I can never remember the words for breakfast almorzar, lunch desayunar or dinner cenar, and Rosetta has us brushing our teeth and drinking coffee and going to sleep before antes de and after después de these meals. These are important terms you need to know to survive. Maybe if I talked faster with a slur, I'd fool Rosetta. I overheard a conversation at a coffee shop the other day between two college students; one a native German speaker and the other who was studying German. It was suggested that they have a German-only weekend - no foul English to muddy the waters. Total immersion. Sink or swim. I don't know how the conversation ended, but I'm pretty sure there will be some German beer and brats involved too. Perhaps we can host a Spanish speaking exchange student one day.

Word of the day: Rechazado declined. Kind of sums things up.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

You're my best, best, best friend

It's incredible what happens when you open your heart. When you cross barriers of race or religion or culture or nationality to connect with another human being. When I began my Guadalupeproject eight months ago, I never envisioned that I would be enveloped so completely in another culture. That I had so much in common with folks who spoke another language.

My youngest daughter plays tennis for her high school, and is teammates with a cutie from Guatamala. Her mother is best friends with the Panamanian mom of my dance partner, Glenis. So, we're all family. Glenis came to the match and gave me a huge hug. She introduced me to the Guatamalan mom as her "best, best, best friend." I can think of no higher compliment. Now, if only I can get her to marry my son.

Keely has been asked to be on Ashley's Quinceañera court. I don't know what that means exactly, but it's Ashley's 15th birthday - a coming out party of sorts. New adventures, here we come!

Rosetta is doing a great job, but oh how I long for a textbook. My scribbled notes are filling a box by Antonio, mi computadora. I'm tempted to take a class with a workbook that I can use for reference. What I'd really like to do is spend a winter in Costa Rico and live like a native. Be forced to learn Spanish out of necessity, as the Latinos are forced to learn English by living here.

Hasta luego mi amigo!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Erma and Company

When I sent a text message to my 23 year-old daughter telling her that I was in the presence of the Bombeck kids at my conference, she replied, "Sorry I don't know those kids." The generation gap swelled bigger between us, and I replied that they were the children of famed columnist, Erma Bombeck (Feb. 21, 1927 - April 22, 1996), and her kids were the fodder of her stories, as mine are for my blog. You can't help it - kids are so generous with material. I asked the Bombecks how they felt being the subjects of the column that had a readership of 30 million people. They said that their mom usually exaggerated everything, and besides they didn't read the column anyway. Touché! I have nothing to fear.

Being at the Writer's Conference was like being on a cruise at anchor. The food, accommodations and service from the Dayton Marriott were superb, and the University of Dayton couldn't be more hospitable or beautiful. This was a bonus to the talent-packed lineup of speakers, authors, columnists, comedians and workshop leaders that filled our days and nights. If you're an aspiring humor writer, Dayton Ohio is the place to be with Erma.

Joanne and I rubbed elbows with Loretta LaRoche (stress management and humor consultant), Wade Rouse (America's Boy), Christian Lander (Stuff White People Like), Gail Collins (NY Times columnist and author), Tracy Beckerman (humor columnist), Bill Scheft (David Letterman's writer and author), Steve Doocy (Fox News host and author), Bruce Cameron (8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter), Suzette Martinez Standring (columnist and hypnotherapist), Jerry Zezima (humor columnist and author), and Craig Wilson (USA Today columnist and author of It's the Little Things.

That's just who I saw. It was like a Writer's Buffet: every session looked delicious, but I could only stuff in so much in one day. The great thing about the conference is that these folks were totally accessible. They roamed around like normal people throughout the workshop. We could strike up conversations with whomever. I rode the bus with Suzette and told her about my experience with God during her hypnotherapy session, told Craig of my experience in Mexico with "sombreros," one of the chapters in his book, and had my picture taken with Bill. Wade said he liked my jacket. Probably one of my biggest thrills was meeting Peggy Rowe, mother of Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame, who was a fellow attendee. Hopefully her son will send my son the promised autographed photo, and maybe offer him a job when he graduates from Purdue...

Something else that was cool about this conference, if I may belabor the subject, was that every attendee had a great sense of humor and were motivated to excel in their craft. And helpful! Jim Higley, Chicago Tribune online columnist and blogger was effusive in his advise on blogging and social networking tools. He talked me into joining the Facebook frenzy, something I've been avoiding for various reasons. Most of all because I was told point blank by my younger kids that they would not "friend" me if I joined. Whatever. Maybe when I'm rich and famous they'll be singing a different tune...

On the anniversary of the passing of Erma Bombeck, I pay tribute to this very special lady. God bless you Erma! I'm sure you're still firing off jokes and anecdotes to the heavenly bodies.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Yo estoy muy bien

Say "Yo estoy muy bien" three times really fast. Very strange, it's like talking with an enlarged tongue that is trying to get peanut butter off the roof of its mouth. It means "I am very well," as in the response to "¿Como estás tu?" The abuela in Rosetta's most recent lesson said it without a hitch, as if she's been scraping peanut butter from the roof of her mouth her whole life.

I also completed another Milestone Lesson, finally, with Rosetta. This time we went on a bus ride. Again, it's like watching a slow motion filmstrip, starring a cute Brazilian hombre (man) and an attractive Chinese mujer y su hermano (woman and her brother). He opens a small duffel bag filled with pelotas (balls) and naranjas (oranges). Obviously, he's a juggler on the side. He says Hola, and her face brightens up. [A green light to continue!] ¿Cómo ésta? (How are you?) ¿Cómo se llamo usted? (What's your name?) ¿Ese es su hermano? (Is he your brother?) ¿Cuantos años tienes? (How old are you?) - asked of the little boy, of course. The girl would have slapped him. ¿De dónde son ustedes? (Where are you from?) Duh. China. ¿Tiene hambre? (Are you hungry?) The Brazilian shares una naranja with el niño.

The bus stops and everyone debarks. Oops! La mujer left a yellow book behind. He runs to catch up with her. Es esta su libro? (He knows it is.) The book falls, they laugh as they retrieve all of its loose papers and photos. (Who carries loose photos? My kids' photos are kept in their cell phones or facebook.) Anyway, they share some sodas after the incident, the boy trys his hand at juggling and the Brazilian plots his next move.

My phrasebook with all of the practical, modern phrases could be employed at this time. A perfect setting for international relations. Rosetta doesn't go there, and I'm not going to either!