Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Who knew I liked soccer?

When I was in 1st grade, my parents signed me up for soccer--because, you know, it’s American Law or something. For the whole season, I ran around cones during drills, learned that you were supposed to kick with the inside of your foot, and learned that the ultimate objective was to kick the ball into the net.
“Because the coach tells you to!” I answered my dad when he asked me why.
I didn’t touch the ball once during the season. I did, however, kick puffy dandelions like it was my job.  I think I might have played right wing?  I remember being told to stand on the circle. So I did. Era todo. Sue me--I’m not aggressive. Give me shiny objects, tap shoes, and music over competitive sports any day.
I still don’t know a damn thing about soccer. What I do know, however, is that I’ve absolutely loved being in Spain during the World Cup. Just like I loved watching my old music professor get all riled up at the beginning of classes, watching the entire town light up on the night of a match--and later that night following their win--was one of the most electric things that I could have experienced. I’ve actually gone out to watch every soccer game here. Do I know what’s happening?  No. Do I know when they score?
OH MY GOSH YES I DO. Even if you’re not watching the screen (although I usually am, in a weak attempt to soak up any soccer knowledge I could gain over this almost-four-week period through osmosis), you know when Spain scores. The entire pub erupts into shouts and screams, stomps and applause, foghorns and noisemakers. Cars on the street begin all honking their horn in the same pattern (for the rhythmically inclined, it’s a 1, 2, 3+4, 1+2+, +4! rhythm that is totally from something that ends in “let’s go!”)
a batch of cookies to the first person to tell me what that’s from--it’s been bothering me ALL MONTH. And it’s not often it takes me this long to figure it out. But you can’t google “dun, dun, dun dun dun, dun dun dun dun--let’s go!” It doesn’t work.
Then the songs begin. A refrain consisting of nothing but ¡Olé! over and over again, or a rousing refrain of “Yo soy Español, Español, Español” gets the whole pub clapping and singing. It’s electric, and so exciting to watch--although I do feel like a bit of a poser if I sing that song, since it’s so blatantly obvious that I’m not Spanish (my roommate and I have taken to singing (no) soy Español instead, so we can still take part in the celebration without lying. Phew--that’s a load off my conscience!
Late into the night, the cars continue honking that exact same rhythm. Over. And. Over. And. Over. But it’s not obnoxious!  There’s such an electricity in the air that it’s just incredible. I wrote a bit about this during my Granada post, but still. It’s two days later, and people are still celebrating. 
Confession: I was asleep by 12:30. I know, it seems lame. I think we were also the only people who had to be doing anything by 9 a.m. the next day. And who also don’t get a siesta. Yes, I may be in Spain, but this school totally runs on an American schedule. I’m just sayin’. Don’t judge.
Oh, and if nothing else, I’m totally rooting for Spain every four years when the World Cup rolls around. 
¡Olé, olé olé olé!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"Make a Jail With Your Teeth!"

I'm just gonna throw it out there: I was a Speech Kid.

From Kindergarten through 3rd grade, I was pulled out of my normal class and sent down to Mrs. Bubb's room, where I would be taught time and again how to form my mouth and make the noise that came out sound something like my formidable consonant: the ever-troublesome "S." Still to this day, I remember Mrs. Bubb telling me during that weekly hour to put my front teeth together, my tongue right behind them, and try to whistle a noise out. "Make a jail with your teeth! You can do it! It'll be easier with this sentence right here!" I grew to hate those "S" tongue-twisters more than anything else.

Three years later, Mrs. Bubb decided I was capable enough to make that stupid sound on my own. I'll never forget the time I was sitting on my knees on the floor of our living room, while my dad played the piano, and it happened. I was practicing my "S," just like Mrs. Bubb told us to, and in the middle of my dad playing "Honesty" by Billy Joel, I heard a whistle. It was slight, but I knew it was there. 

...and then I couldn't do it a minute later. Traumatic, I know. Such was my relationship with Speech for the second half of my 8-year-old life.

You may be wondering why I'm even bothering to bring this up, when I'm supposed to be talking about the marvelous time I'm having in Spain. Well, we were studying "The Manner and Place of Articulations" in our Phonology segment today in class, and I was having flashbacks to my Speech days. But not happy, nostalgic flashbacks; these were more of the PTSD variety. In determining where my tongue was supposed to go for each phoneme, every so often I'd revert back to my 8-year-old self and want to exclaim "but it is at the roof of my mouth! I don't know where it's supposed to go! Does it really matter? It's close enough!" 

This is also when I realized that I'm still not making the "sh" sound properly, even 15 years later. Because no matter what, the sides of your tongue are not supposed to be the only part touching the roof of your mouth. Discovering this was almost as upsetting as not being able to properly "make a jail with my teeth" for my dad after I had done so for myself less than a minute before. I've also learned that I'm [somehow] subconsciously hyper-aware of my speech tendencies and how I pronounce certain sounds. However, a useful tool for a potential choir director, or just for someone who plans on talking a lot in life.

The fun story in all of this?  I need to take and pass a phonology exam in order to get my certificate from TEFL. Thank goodness Mrs. Bubb told me how to incarcerate my tongue, or this whole trip might have been for naught! Well, not for naught (/nɑ:t fɔ:r nɒt/), but it'd be a sad ending nonetheless.