Photo Lingo

I helped out on a little photo shoot today.

I always learn something new at these, which is great, but I always enjoy them just for the fun of their being an event: a photo shoot.

Photo shoots aren’t just an everyday nothing, really… usually, they are, to some degree, a little or big to do, an event that requires at least one someone’s best up-do, and then some.

Today’s, though a small shoot, was no different.

Those being photographed were clearly in their best getup for the occasion, make-up done to a T, and several costume changes at the ready.

It was, as I mentioned, an event.

Now, this was fun, of course…, especially some of the silly things that happened throughout the photo shoot.

However, the little nugget of surprise delight and God-granted satisfaction popped up when we had a few quick comments from the photographer to one of the models, who was the husband of someone there.

The photographer was giving a few specifics about how to do something, if that model was doing it, and then somewhat simultaneously asking the model to come throw something in the background of the photo.

Now, the husband of this model, in a moderate accent, said to the model, “Entiendes?”, which is Spanish for, ‘Do you understand?’

The husband then gave an iffy explanation, still in English, of what the photographer had been saying.

I could tell that neither one of them was getting what the photographer had said, not even the English-speaking husband…, and so I went ahead and, in a quick aside, verified with the photographer for myself when he had wanted communicated.

I then, while still standing atop a large ladder, broke into the conversation between the husbands, addressing the Spanish-speaking one pointedly.

I asked him a few questions in Spanish, told him the first the the photographer had said, and then communicated the answers to the photographer in English.

I then explained to the model, again in Spanish, the second topic the photographer had mentioned (i.e. throwing those objects), and asked if he could do it.

He asked for some clarity on specifics, and then readily agreed.

Problem was solved, and amazing photos ensued.

When that model was then in photos, I let him know to tell me if ever and whenever he did not understand… he agreed, and proceeded to check with me on just about everything that was said to him.

At the end of it all, it had become very clear that he was relieved to have had me there, and everyone was grateful for my surprise super-helpfulness in the form of Spanish, whipped out of my back pocket.

Might I point out that I am dirty blonde, pale, and blue-eyed, – obvious German heritage of which, one could imagine, Adolf would have been proud – an outer shell that does not boast a likelihood of speaking Spanish?

But it is situations just like these that send a delighted tickle to my core when they arise, because everyone is simultaneously flabbergasted and relieved that I have this oh-so-unexpected skill.

I love having my languages be of use.

When I went for that “Super” trip the other day, it felt like a relief and a blessing that the person selling turned out to be a German guy, with whom I was able to interact in German… it made things feel ever so slightly more ‘right’, like I was on the right path.

It really felt today that this same sort of thing was happening – the World, God, was making a sign to me that I was (and am) in the right place.

I want photography to be the right place, and it increasingly feels more and more like it is the right place for me to be and to be putting my efforts and my love and my passion right now…, so this whole Spanish thing today was like a super-blessing from God and the World.

So, yay!

Thank you, God.

Thank you, World.

Thank you, Universe.

Help me to continue on this beautiful path that is meant for me to create and travel, that I might share the beauty and the love I have to offer the World. 🙂

……..

In a separate note, I found myself wondering this evening: How can a couple be married, and not really be able to communicate in the same language?

From what I saw today, the one guy’s Spanish is super limited, and the other’s English is very questionable… so, how do they communicate?

Is it really more like the idea of mail-order brides that caught on back when I was little, than a naturally-occurring relationship?

But then, perhaps their language is presence, and words are in the works…

I know fully well that speaking the same language fully isn’t exactly a requirement for wanting to be with someone.

I even had a time (with one of the acrobats) in which I declared this guy and I could not date until we both spoke the same language fluently (though, I didn’t care what language that ended up being), and I, eventually, followed my declaration (after, of course, passively ignoring it, and, essentially, being in an informal but distinct relationship with him for about six weeks)…. (We had a great time, but too many problems began to arise due, mostly, to language issues, but also to cultural differences.)

So, they very well could be that way, where words are not the language of the now relationship, because they just absolutely hit it off without the words, but the words are in the plans for the future of the relationship.

I dunno… anything is possible, but I know that I, personally, need to speak the same language fluently as my partner in life, whatever language that may be.

Post-a-day 2019

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Domestic International Travel

One of the things I love about Houston is how I can just immerse myself in different cultures here.

Tonight, my mom and I attended a festival that was in celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Naturally, we were immersed in the Spanish-speaking world, with a great emphasis on Mexican culture (and Mexican Spanish).

And it was wonderful.

People, for a good part of it all, did not behave using U.S. standards of behavior – southern hospitality, southern sweetness, and southern chivalry were on vacation, for sure.

A small fight even broke out between two guys, and people broke it up and gently shoved people back on their way through the festival, almost immediately forgetting about the altercation that had just occurred in front of them.

Items for sale couldn’t have been more stereotypical, and they were all genuine.

Performances were wonderful and traditional.

And the food was spectacular and native, as much as is possible out of country… I wasn’t even hungry, and I had to get some, because I knew how good certain things would be. (And I was right, too. But I just had a taste, and then saved the rest for tomorrow.)

And it was all a really good time, the two of us kind of being two of the very few gringas and gringos at the event – it was such a genuine piece of culture that we were the ones who were visiting, as opposed to the event visiting Houston… (I hope you get what I mean by all of this – it isn’t intended to be ignorant or rude or anything of the sort, but merely showing an appreciation for the drop of foreign culture that is utterly at home and at its ease here in Houston.)

It was great.

Post-a-day 2018

Nerd-ing

I am years into having a smartphone, and my most visited webpages remain almost exactly the same as when I started using one.  They are translation websites and dictionary websites.  Originally, it was wordreference.com and dictionary.com.  Wordreference.com was an easy one, because I had already done the research for my preferred translator for French, Spanish, and German.  But, after some research into different dictionary websites, I found that I preferred merriam-webster.com over dictionary.com.  So, today, my most visited webpages are wordreference.com and merriam-webster.com. (I would add in Google Translate, because of my constant use with Japanese on it for kanji translations and photo translations, but I had to download the app almost immediately, when I moved to Japan, so that I could use it almost constantly to understand things around me.  Therefore, it isn’t a website I’m visiting, but an application I am using.)

I’m just a word and language nerd.  It’s like that day at work, earlier this year, when I spent an hour looking up information on certain punctuation marks – I am a word nerd, and there is ample evidence to support the claim.

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Post-a-day 2017

Tying up dirty boys with grammar

Changing laundry from the washing machine to the dryer (It’s a machine, I know!!!!!!!*), I saw a towel on the floor between the two machines.  It was originally intended for the load of red shades earlier today, but the load was too large for comfort, so I pulled out the towel.  I left it on the floor, because a towel load needed to be done today or tomorrow anyway, so why bother bringing it back upstairs just to bring it back down only hours later?  But that isn’t the point.

The point is (sort of) that I saw the towel sitting there, and I had an almost-urge to pick it up and put it in the dryer with the laundry I was transferring.  Not that I wanted to put it in with the clean laundry, but that, usually, whenever something is on the floor there, it is because it has fallen in the transfer between the two machines.  So, I simultaneously wanted not to touch the towel, to put it in the dryer, and to move it to the dirty towels upstairs (since I wasn’t doing the final two loads tonight, but doing them tomorrow).  And, for a good moment, I was worried that I would pursue the final of the three, and accidentally fulfill the second in my tiredness and in the middle of routine muscle movements, and then wish for the first.

I managed to let go of having to deal with the towel now, and I left it on the floor, for fear of the second result.

As I thought about that possible second result, I was practically distraught at how it would ruin the fact that I had already put the load of clothes on to wash.  By putting one single towel in the dryer, I thought, an entire load of laundry would be considered dirty.  Now, why doesn’t that work the other way around?  Why does one piece of clean laundry not make a load of dirty laundry clean, when mixed together?  The dirty still win out.  And how come a whole load of clean laundry can’t overpower the one dirty article?  The clean just can’t overcome.

And then – now, this is the point of this all – I wondered about what is life is like this, if anything.  Almost immediately, I thought about gender pronouns (and particularly in Spanish and French, because I learned those first).  It’s just like guys and girls.  A group full of guys, the dirty clothes, is (let’s use French) ils.  Add one girl, the clean clothing, and it stays ils.  A group full of girls is elles.  Add one boy, and it becomes ils.

So, no matter what, if there are any boys, it is ils, dirty.  The only way to keep it elles is to have only girls – no boys allowed.

And how odd that the boys are the dirty laundry and the girls are the clean… so like life, and I hadn’t even intended it to be so.**

Anyway, isn’t all of that fun?!  Towels to grammar to life comparisons – I do lead an extraordinarily interesting life, huh?  😛

 

 

*Japan doesn’t exactly do dryers.  People are expected to hang clothes outside, because every has a stay-at-home wife, you see… not.  Everyone used to have a stay-at-home wife, but the lifestyle hasn’t changed.  It just takes days and days to do laundry as a solo-liver, because weather can decide to soak your clean clothes while you’re off at work, or hide the sun from them, or be too humid for them to dry at all until they start to smell of mildew…  I just hung mine all indoors, because I’d heard too many stories from my brother’s issues.  Plus, supposedly people steal women’s underwear from the drying clothes in Japan.  I didn’t need to deal with any of that nonsense.  So, I set my air conditioner to a daytime setting to keep the apartment mildew-free, which also helped dry my clothes!

** I once wrote a poem about how boys are dirty.  I didn’t exactly believe any of it, but I knew that people thought boys were dirty and smelly, and I rolled with the idea.

Post-a-day 2017

Table Troubles

We spent a good chunk of today at or around the international airport, but it was actually a really good day.  One of the best parts was the delightful misunderstanding at lunchtime.

Now, to understand the significance of part of it, you must first know what happened yesterday.  My mom, my stepdad, my stepsister and her boyfriend, and I went to lunch at a restaurant in The Galleria.  My mom and stepdad went in first, while we kids went to look at a Lamborghini just outside the doors.  When we filed into the restaurant, we saw them heading up the stairs, and followed.  They told us up top that the waitress downstairs had told them to pick a seat anywhere, and had specifically mentioned that whether upstairs or downstairs was of no importance – it was open seating.

However, a waitress was rather snotty with us when we mentioned this upstairs, after asking kindly if a certain table could be wiped down before we sat down at it.  She declared that we needed to check in with the hostess (but would not help us find the hostess, even when we asked kindly) and that there was a wait time, and we could not pick our own seats.

About two minutes after finding the hostess, we were seated at the table we had originally found (and then requested).  And the guy setting the table was unfathomably slow, leaving us all standing, watching, as he finished setting the flatware.  (Not sure why anyone was bringing us to a table that wasn’t ready yet, but it just made us laugh at how ridiculous it all was.)

We were quite nice to everyone, keeping always in mind the fact that it was a holiday and that we were grateful for their being there.  A good handful of the people at this place seemed just ready to throw things at people for the simple defiant act of existing.  Nonetheless, we got our table and, eventually, food and all, and it was a good time all-in-all.

Now, fast forward to today, lunchtime.  We found a Mexican place that was near the airport – and I mean Mexican, not Tex-Mex, and not non-Mexicans who claim to have Mexican food and whatnots – and was open.  My stepdad went in first, while we all parked the car.  My mom, my stepsister and her boyfriend, and I all walked in in a row as another family was leaving, excusing ourselves in Spanish as we bumped paths and all (I meant it, when I called it a Mexican place.).  As I walked in behind my mom, I saw my stepdad standing next to a table just two over from the door.  He said that the lady told him that we could sit there, but he was going to the bathroom now.

So, we all slide into the booth and begin discussing whether there might be bleach in the cleaner (because the table was still damp from being cleaned and smelled a bit of bleach, but my mom had on black long-sleeves, and so wanted to be cautious about touching the table, if there were bleach in the cleaner), when a lady comes to our table and, in English, apologizes, but this table is already for another family.  Could we please wait just a minute over here?

I turned to my mom, and asked her what their deal was with tables right now, and she could hardly fathom it herself, giving a genuine I have no idea.  So, we stand up, the boyfriend telling the lady in Spanish not to worry and that we were completely okay.  We wait to the side for perhaps 45 seconds.  Then, the lady tells us that, okay, you can sit in this booth (the one just next to where we had sat down, and that was almost exactly the same).  So, we sit, and comment how it is drier that the other table was.  I sniff the table, and my stepsister fusses at me not to do so, but I explain that I was merely smelling for bleach, and she laughs.

My stepdad eventually returns, someone comes and takes our drinks orders (in Spanish, of course), and then the original lady comes to take our drink orders.  I notice passively that no one ever sat at the table next to ours.  We tell her that someone already had done so, but we are ready to make our food orders, however (all in Spanish, of course).  Then, before taking our food order, as she looks at all of us, she says something surprising.

Apparently, since she spoke to my stepdad in Spanish originally, it was a non-compute that the rest of us would be the family with him.  Though the boyfriend is from Mexico, he has blue eyes.  I am dirty blonde and blue-eyed, and my mom is sort of a brown-haired, brown-eyed, older version of me.  My stepsister just kind of blended in with us, since we were the majority look of our little group.  So, we were the foreigners, so to speak, and clearly weren’t the family of the original guy who’d asked for the table a few minutes ago.  She didn’t explain all of that, of course.  We deduced that.  But she did say (in Spanish) that she had thought that we did not belong to the gentleman to whom she had given the table, and so she told us that the table was taken by someone else.  But, upon seeing that that same gentleman was at the new table, she realized her mistake.  So, she apologized for it a few times, and we all enjoyed a good laugh at the whole thing.

No one ever ended up sitting at the table behind us, until the last few minutes that we were there, when a single man sat down to wait for someone or something briefly (so it seemed).

So, those were our adventures with table miscommunications this week.

Post-a-day 2017

Time for Multilingual Christmas Stuff

My task for today (from my tea advent calendar) was to listen to a Christmas song in every language I speak.  Seeing as how it was likely to be difficult to find a song other than “Jingle Bells” (which is definitely not one of my favorites on repeat) in a bunch of different languages, and taking into account that it could get quite boring, listening to the same song over and over again, I chose to interpret the assignment as being any Christmas song for any of the languages (i.e. different songs for each language, as opposed to the same one in each language).  These are the songs I picked.

 

German:  Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht
(It was originally written in German.  I love the version by John Denver and the Muppets on their joint Christmas album.)

French: Minuit Chrétiens
(One of my favorite Christmas songs, and it was originally in French.  This isn’t my favorite version, but it’s still nice.)

Japanese: All I Want for Christmas is You Japanese cover 
(Clearly not originally Japanese, but I like it anyway, so I listened to it.  I loved the ridiculous Christmas music I would hear in the shops while living in Japan, but I can’t remember any of it.  This one does justice to some of the better covers I heard, though.)  😀

English: Mary, did you know? 
I first remember hearing this song at Mass at my aunt’s Church in a small town in Texas. A boy around my age sang the song during Mass, I believe during the meditation time following Communion (when everyone goes up to the front and takes some bread and wine).  I thought it was magical, hearing this twangy-accented high schooler sing his heart out with these words and notes.  This version reminds me of a grown-up version of that first one I remember hearing.

Italian: Tu Scendi Dalle Stele
(Originally written in Italian.  I love this guy.)

Spanish: Los Peces en el Rio
(I’d never heard this one, but I love it.  It is originally in Spanish, and also quite popular as a Christmas song in Spanish-speaking cultures.)*

 

Seeing as I don’t speak any others fluently or conversationally, I didn’t do them – this took some time and consideration as it was!  But it was totally good.  Just made me want to listen to loads more in each of the languages, really.  Also, I totally forgot about English and Spanish songs until after I thought I was already finished with this task.  Whoops.  😛

 

*If you want some awesome, quality, unoffensive music in Spanish, check out this song.  Be prepared to be a little shocked when you see the artists performing, and how strongly it contrasts to the sound of the music.  It rocks.  Try listening to it without seeing the video for a minute or two.  Enjoy!

Post-a-day 2017

‘One Spanish-speaking Boyfriend, please’

I said to myself yesterday that I needed a native-Spanish-speaking boyfriend, or else a native-Spanish-speaking friend, because I need Spanish in my life, and I need to use the language more than I currently do (hardly at all).

Tonight, at dinner, the waiter, who might also be the manager or owner or something, brought over to our table a handsome-looking young man, probably right around my own age, and explained that the guy knows very little English, and, if I would like, would be willing to work with me on improving my Spanish, if I would help him learn English.  And no, I hadn’t told him about yesterday’s declaration.

Isn’t life awesome? 😀

To give a little context, – the waiter was not being crazy or anything, with his suggestion that the helper and I work on language together – I had asked the waiter, after interacting with him a few times in English, if he would speak to us in Spanish from now on.  My mom had studied Spanish in high school, and then briefly in college, and has had plenty of interactions with Spanish in the years since then.  I spent a summer in Spain while in high school, and had just used Spanish all over for a couple years after that.  So, while it could be difficult at times, I figured we could handle it.

The waiter was delighted at the request, and instantly spewed out fast Spanish.  My mom told him almost immediately (in Spanish), “But you have to speak more slowly, because I am a gringa.”  (It’s essentially a term for foreigners.)  We all laughed, and he acquiesced.

As the meal went on, the waiter would pause and chat with us here and there.  He moved here from Mexico when he was 17 or 19 (I forget which), and don’t even know how to say ‘please’ in English.  To help himself learn English, he watched the American movies, and had on the English subtitles, and action I fully approve and support, and which I have done plenty myself.  He also spoke of how strong the Spanish-speaking community is in Houston, and that I need only get involved, and they will turn me into a Latina.  He learned that we are not studying Spanish; that I speak Spanish, but just never use it; that I just lived back from Japan; and that I just have no friends here who speak Spanish.  So it made sense that he brought over the guy later.  And it wasn’t weird.

When we left, a while later, I gave the young guy my number on a napkin.

Post-a-day 2017