Fragility, naïveté…

This post analyzes the motivation of the play Muñeca de Porcelana (China Doll). It might contain spoilers. You have been warned.

Last Saturday, I watched the Spanish adaptation of David Mamet’s “China Doll”. My friend and I kept guessing why the playwright chose that title, but even at the end, we weren’t able to wrap our heads around the idea.

About the play

Muñeca de Porcelana isn’t just another conspiracy theory-based story. It shows one side of a filthy, golden coin- the price of fame, fortune and power, if you wish. Accordingly, it invites the viewers to guess, assume, suspect and mistrust what’s being said right in front of their very noses.

As dialogues get more intense, thinking becomes the only possible option, because at that point, viewers realize that they have somehow become an accomplice of something horrible, and they need an explanation. So they start rubbing their neurons together, to see if a filament of some sort would light up.

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Image courtesy of: https://madridesteatro.com

The scene starts with a pompous display of wealth and power, where the big boss- entrusted into the hands of the sublime José Sacristán– barks at his loyal assistant because the latter was handing him the day’s newspaper, when he didn’t really ask for it in the first place. The role of the devoted secretary is strongly portrayed by Javier Godino, the perfect complement to the seniority and experience of his counterpart.

What motivated the play?

The piece clearly insinuates that power is concentrated among an elite few; where having money is not enough to get in the “club”.  Membership depends on the family tree and perhaps any ancient personal favor from one clan to another (I doubt if there was one member of that club whose ancestry couldn’t be traced to a Mayflower passenger). Very distinctly, it also shows that even in places that boast of being bastions of democracy, it is still the rich and the influential who hold the key to the machinery of the society.

Oh, but being rich and influential are but tickets to join the club. To remain in it is another hurdle. Exhaustive training is needed if one is to thrive, and a crafty mind with zero moral sense is crucial to triumph. And so that, according to Godino, is the origin of the title, “China doll”. It refers to the fragility of the triumphant based on the fact that he is nothing but a product; victorious, yet always and forever conditioned by the existence of incriminating evidence against him. A chess piece inside the board he is trying to conquer.

The way I see it, the play’s motivation is to open people’s eyes to that filthy side of the golden coin, as mentioned earlier. I’m not sure how society behaved when Mamet launched this opus, but in this generation, people only tend to look at the brightness of an item, not minding the dirty rag that polished it clean.

In an interview, Godino said he had an impression that viewers seem to evade what Mamet is trying to demonstrate, because it causes distress. He alluded to the naïveté to which spectators hold on, as a way to fight the awkwardness. (They’re just missing the point, then. But hey, their money, their choice.)

The ending, though, didn’t distress me. It was just as one would expect people to act given the situation and their current condition.

Et cetera…

At the end of the day, we’re all porcelain dolls: fragile in our naïveté. They don’t say “knowledge is power” for nothing.

Four seasons of delight

We met in autumn

amidst falling leaves,

in between caught breaths,

on rain-soaked streets.

When winter came

with its heavy rains,

we braced ourselves

to face the day.

Without any notice,

we were welcoming spring.

It warmed our hearts.

We learned some songs,

we learned to dance.

We got ready for summer…

what a season to remember!

 

Once again,

leaves have fallen.

You learned to stomp

and make them crunch.

You make me

greet any season with glee.

-Karessa Ramos

 

 

Personal Interview

It was a fine Monday morning when a dear colleague from Human Resources approached me quite excitedly. I honestly thought she was going to ask or share some tips about child rearing, as we are both first-time moms. Never did I imagine that she would ask me if I wanted to be interviewed for the official, internal blog of the Foundation where I work.

Clearly at this stage of my life, I have already had various interview sessions both as the interviewer and the interviewee. However, this is the first time I got interviewed with the aim of sharing the content (ergo, my thoughts) to the public! I had to pause with disbelief. I’m a very opinionated person but then I thought, “Who would want to bear with me and my craziness on purpose?” I mean, would you dare, dear reader? If you would, then without further ado, let me share with you the translated version of the said article. (For those of you who wants to read the original version in Spanish, just click the following link: Entrevistamos a Karessa Ramos, Comunicación y Relaciones Externas _ Nos-otros)

-*-

We interview Karessa Ramos, from the Communications and External Relations Department

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Briefly tell us: how would you describe yourself?

According to me, I’m flexible. According to Filipinos, “Marunong makisama” which roughly means someone who knows how to get along well with others. Lastly, according to my family and friends, tenacious.

Imagine that you could only have one hobby. What would it be? and why would you choose it?

Cooking and baking. I love the whole process, from going to the market to buy the ingredients, to tasting the finished product (of course). I don’t know exactly why I like it. Perhaps it’s because sharing food is vital within the social life of us Filipinos.

How did you come to work at the BBVAMF (BBVA Microfinance Foundation)?

I started out as an intern, hired to work for a few months in Bancamía (the Foundation’s entity in Colombia), with the Finance Department in 2010. Luís Germán Linares was still VP for Finance at that time. (Did you know that I got an offer to work for them?) When my “apprenticeship” ended and I had to return to Spain, I consulted  whether there was any vacant posts I could vie for in the Foundation. It turned out that a vacancy just opened up at the Finance Department and that was where I started: collaborating in the elaboration of the Annual Consolidated Financial Report, with my first mentor, Ana Nogueras.

Come on… Tell us a funny moment you’ve had in the BBVAMF.

It was during one afternoon in the office and I was checking some PPT templates. I had my headphones on and was listening to ’80s songs and when Kylie Minogue’s song played, I started singing without realizing it, and my officemates started to stare. I suddenly saw some of them turn their heads down smiling, or maybe they were laughing. Later on, I understood that it was because I sounded like a cat… Well, for me it was funny, but maybe for the rest it was annoying, hehehe! (Let’s ask Victor H.)

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

The lessons I learned are my greatest achievements. And among them, I really treasure having learned to be more assertive and empathetic (although a lot of work has yet to be done). If I may add another thing: I am also very proud of the relationships I’ve established through the years. I’m surrounded by good, kind, intelligent and trustworthy people. They help me think, they laugh with me (and at me, I suppose), they cry with me, eat with me… they offer excellent company and I learn a lot from them.

What has been your happiest moment?

When I survived my son’s birth in France. There was a moment when I was actually thinking of leaving final instructions to my husband because I already accepted I wouldn’t last for very long. So when the doctors announced that they could solve my issues, I felt really happy. Most of all, that wave of happiness came when I started realizing I was going to live for at least another day!

Where would your ideal vacation be?

In my hometown, in the Philippines.

If you could learn something new, what would it be?

I’d learn how to ride a horse.

If  you could transform into another person, who would it be and why?

I would like to be transformed into my grandmother, and experience how it is being my own mom’s mother, HAHAHAHA! Seriously now, my maternal grandmother was the first enterprising woman I’ve ever met. She was strong like no other: she separated with my grandfather, taking charge of her four children with a teacher’s salary, she learned how to cook many kinds of plants so her family wouldn’t go hungry… when she retired, she improved her cooking skills and started a catering business so she wouldn’t depend on her children for her expenses. Furthermore, as a teacher, she would stay until late in the school, tutoring the students for free and she wouldn’t go home until they caught up with the lesson. I would like to be a woman like her: committed, intelligent, creative, generous and with the desire to transform her environment. The reason is because I’m seeing the legacy she left behind, the values and principles my cousins and I possess. And I also see how we are trying to pass them onto our own children.

A dream?

I wish for women’s situation to be normalized. That is to say, for us to stop feeling pressured to prove ourselves as valid as men; for us to fearlessly express our femininity whichever way we want to; that our happiness, value and aspirations not be measured with masculine metrics; that we stop judging ourselves and the competition that supposedly exists among us be converted into solidarity and cooperation.

While we’re dreaming… What would be your super power?

I would like to have the power to teleport. Is that how you say it? I like traveling a lot and that would cheapen the fare, hahaha!

Anything else you want to share about yourself?

I love eating. And you know it!

The former interviewee would like to ask you: if you could travel to the past, where and insist period would you have liked to live?

I would like to travel to the Philippines during the precolonial era.

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Colorfulifesite Blog is looking for a guest blogger

Hello dear reader!

Colorfulifesite Blog would like to give you the chance to be guest blogger of the week. (You don’t really have to be a blogger per se. You just need to want to do it!)

The only condition is that you talk about your own experience in owing money.

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Does that sound cool?

Please comment below, or send an email to colorfulife@outlook.es, or contact me through the Contact Page in case you’re interested.

THANK YOU!

Garage Sale Diaries 2: Online Version

Author’s note: I used the webpage http://www.leboncoin.fr to sell my second-hand items.

Image courtesy of: http://www.arkhen.net

The online version of my first garage sale is shaping up to become more like an opportunity to reflect on human behaviour- mine, primarily.

This mini-project has enabled me to reflect about myself.

The first on the list were my intentions when I decided to take this on. Of course, the main objective was to earn a little money while getting rid of things that are already of no use to us- most especially baby’s equipment. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t need the money. I’m not desperate, but if I can earn a little to cover some costs of moving from one country to another then I’ll go for it!

I made it a point to price the items a bit higher than if I sold them to friends. I thought it would also leave room for negotiation in case I like the buyer. Is this my little way to have fun? by taking this small chance to manifest the control freak in me and having a valid reason for it? I had a good laugh meditating at this first of many thoughts.

The second realization I had was that through this type of exchange, one gets a peek at the human psychology in a very candid way. It might be due to the anonimity, mixed with the  honesty system. I invite you to read on and see what I mean:

The first item I ever sold was a hair dryer. It was a little more than a  year old and I can tell you it has only been used exactly 5 times. I got so many inquiries about it and after receiving each text message or each email, I would refer to the potential buyer as a “she”. What a surprise to discover that most of them were a “he”. I was very surprised! more so because the guy who finally bought the hair dryer had really short hair… (Oh, and the cheeky monkey tried to make me lower the price even more. Tough luck!)

When I told my husband about this strange phenomenon, he explained it wisely enough by reasoning out it’s a cheap Christmas gift. And if it works perfectly, then it would clearly suit the girl’s need.

I tried to fight the stuck-up girl in me from judging the situation. I’m not confirming that the buyer would truly give the used hair dryer as a gift; but as I tried to picture myself receiving a second-hand or pre-loved present, I didn’t think I’d like it.

Further along my daydreaming, I imagined myself thinking that the giver is stingy, that he or she doesn’t appreciate me much for giving me a cheap pre-used hair dryer and that I would definitely think twice the next time I get a gift for that person.

Immediately, I felt (I still do) so bad for being so superficial and not having any excuse for it. Sorry but there’s no childhood trauma, nor a family tradition that could explain why I’m this shallow. The only thing I could say for my part is that I would not give a second-hand gift to anyone, unless the recipient himself tells me he doesn’t mind, or that’s what he wants.

For a while, I tried to reflect upon this from a different angle- the gift’s utility. If someone gave me a pre-loved item as a gift, will I use it? or will it just be stuck in a cabinet gathering dust? In the case of the hair dryer, I had to admit to myself that it is a useful gift. Winter is settling in fast in the Northern Hemisphere- many people still want to wash their hair and not freeze afterwards, including me!

Lesson learned: price tags say little about what a gift represents. The real question for the buyer/gift giver is- was it a bargain or a waste of money?

The next two items I sold together were Leo’s first bathtub (the foldable type) and the seat. This time around, I made sure people would make a good deal out of them. I figured that if future parents are scouting for second hand baby equipment online, it’s because they’re making every cent count.

My husband and I bought a couple of things from Leboncoin for our son, but mostly we got brand new items. It made a dent on our wallets but we thought, “This is our first baby!”. And hard as it is to explain, it’s exactly because of this that I understand why some parents would prefer to get pre-loved items and save their money for other things.

Gigoteuse/Turbulette d'hiver 3 mois- 9 mois

Image courtesy of: http://www.leboncoin.fr

Personally, I would not buy second hand baby equipment from strangers. I’m annoyingly scrupulous about these kinds of things. Funnily enough, I believe that is precisely why I made sure the equipment were in good condition.

Lesson learned: Empathy arises in the most mysterious of ways.

The third item I was able to sell was a black dress. I priced it very cheaply because truth be told, it was bought by one of my very good friends L! Just like what happened with J, I didn’t hesitate to let her be the new proud owner of that robe de fête because I know how much she would care for it. Besides, with my new-mom figure, I can’t deny that it would look so much better on her!

It must be said though, that my experience in online selling is as varied as the amount of people who have inquired about the items I’ve put on display. So without boring you with the details of our interaction, I shall simply list below the interesting observations I gathered from this social experiment cyber vide grenier.

1. People may adopt irritating attitudes when contacting the seller: asking for a discount, requesting for the item to be sent by mail or worse, demanding the seller to go to their place to deliver the purchase. I tried to never lose the opportunity to exercise patience and politeness towards these people. But I also made it a point to be firm about my terms and conditions.

Lesson learned: somehow, it’s so much easier to exercise assertiveness when you can’t put a face on the person receiving your message.

2. Others don’t really know what they want.I learned how to detect them and didn’t lose time entertaining them when they start telling me about their lives and why they think they should buy the item or not. But if they make inquiries about the item (price, quality, brand and other characteristics), then as a seller I have the obligation to reply truthfully. Leboncoin works based on an honesty system and so far it has worked well for me.

Lesson learned: unless you’re really in need of money, entertaining undecided online buyers for pre-loved items is a waste of time. Turn your efforts into something more useful like better describing the item on display.

3. Before uploading pictures and details about the items to be sold, I should have tried to put myself into the shoes of potential buyers. This would have allowed me to think about the questions I would ask in case I get interested in anything: “How do I know this is an authentic (brandname) polo shirt?”, “What other payment options do you offer aside from cash?”, “Is it possible to meet up with you halfway between my place and yours for me to pick the item up?”, “What guarantee do I have?”, “What happens if this doesn’t work?”, et cetera, et cetera…

Lesson learned: at the end of the day haste only brings half-baked results and more work than expected.

Humidificateur Ultrasonique

Image courtesy of: http://www.leboncoin.fr

4. I admit that even before I sold anything, I was already prepared to keep the stocked items back. Somebody else will always offer a better price, a better quality or even a more convenient way of delivering the item to the buyer. So it should not come as a surprise if there are items left unsold.

To solve my dilemma about space and storage, I made a mental list of which friend will receive such and such item if I failed to sell them.

Lesson learned: even the best laid plans do not lead to the most ideal results. 

-The End-

Endnote: Please excuse the shameless plugging!

Garage Sale Diaries 1: In-Person Version

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Image courtesy of: http://northernconnectionmag.com/

Rewind back to 24 years ago in Binakayan, Kawit, Cavite (Philippines):

I tried having a garage sale when I was 8 years old. I was suddenly obsessed with having a lot of cash, so I collected all my nice things and took a long, good look at them: a neon-green plastic jewelry box with its lock and key, a super-hero themed coin bank, a black and pink striped jumping rope (a boy from my class bought it for me so I could give it as a birthday gift to another girl, but I kept it anyway; he didn’t seem to mind when I told him) and my 60+ bead-shaped plastic “kisses” (a.k.a. aroma beads).

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Image courtesy of: http://scentdeals.com/

I thought they would be irresistible to all my friends and in my mind, I was already projecting sales of up to 50 pesos!

Sad to say, the enterprise was not successful because when my first customers arrived asking how much things cost, I realized I couldn’t put any price on anything on display! The thought of my jumping rope being used by Beng-beng or my coin bank being filled with Dan-dan’s filthy coins (I meant that literally, that boy was not very hygienic) didn’t sit well with me. Quickly I changed my mind and gave up my dream of having 50 pesos for the day. But that was okay, I forgot all about it as soon as we ran out to play. I think we ended up climbing a guava tree that afternoon…

Fast forward to when I’m 32 years old, in Paris 12ème (France)

*Note: Garage sale is called vide grenier in French. This literally means “empty attic”.

As I carefully picked clothing too bulky to be brought back to Madrid, I remembered the exact moment I purchased each of them: the very first black coat I bought as “serious” office outfit, the white blazer I got for a wedding I couldn’t attend to because I got sick, the pencil cut skirt that was wearable during all the 4 seasons, the little black dress I purchased on sale for a New Year’s Eve party and the maroon dress I got “just because”.

Hard as it was for me to part with them, I saved myself from getting too emotional by offering them to my friends first. I didn’t mind selling them at a very low price- what mattered was that they were going to the hands of someone who would appreciate and take care of them as much as I did.

My husband criticized me at first because he considered the prices as a big joke. I said of course I could’ve sold the items at 5 times more expensive but my conscience wouldn’t allow it. Each item must be at least 5 years old, was purchased either on sale or in an outlet store and was very much used back then. I just took care of my clothes really well. (My secret? I brought them to the dry cleaners instead of washing and ironing them myself.)

Anyway, I sent a text message to my friend J (we’re both petite women, so I thought maybe she’d like to check the stuff out). She was thrilled and agreed to come to our house.

She came, brought Leo a gift for his 1st birthday and got me a box of chocolates. This garage sale started out pretty well, wouldn’t you agree?

So, after the customary “how are yous?”, “fine and yous?” , etc… she proceeded to try on the clothes. She loved almost all of them because she purchased 6 out of the 10 items I was selling. J was also very shocked at how low I priced each clothing. But I explained that they were really used clothes. They just don’t look it because I really paid attention not to wear them out.

She was so happy with her purchases, she asked me to go with her the next time she went clothes shopping! She even said that she has never dressed so elegantly for work. I was truly, very glad. That honestly made parting with my clothes much easier, seeing that my friend was so happy. She looked beautiful, of course. But what made her more beautiful was the look in her eyes when she saw herself in the mirror wearing my pre-loved stuff. It’s as if she couldn’t believe what she was seeing! And that, dear reader was the cherry on top.

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Image courtesy of: http://rcmuret.footeo.com/

I wholeheartedly bade farewell to my precious clothes and sincerely wished my friend the same confidence and poise that they used to give me.

Why am I disclosing all this?

First of all because as obvious as it might sound, garage sales are truly a great way to rid oneself of things we don’t want or need anymore. Even if the sole purpose is just to de-clutter limited space (we can’t all have Kylie Jenner’s mansion now, can we?), this is a great way to do it.

Second of all, it is worth mentioning that people are big on acquiring second-hand items in France. When not buying, people wouldn’t hesitate to get usable furniture or decoration left on the street. You see, some really generous (or desperate) folks would leave their possessions on the pavement for the rest of us to freely pick up: baby strollers, cabinets, bedside tables, books, kitchen appliances… once or twice I even saw toilet bowls.

However, we’re talking about things that I really did love. So the “love” in “pre-loved” isn’t just a term. It really described how I felt about those clothes, explaining why I made sure they went to very good hands.

Truth be told, I wouldn’t have gone back to Madrid with any of them. Had my friend not purchased anything, I would’ve sold them online at a higher price. But I’m currently selling other things that way and the dynamics are totally different (more of this later). As I’ve said earlier, it seems I made the right choice because I disposed of them immediately and my friend was able to shop without the hassle of actually doing it the traditional way.

My husband told me that I might as well have handed the clothes for free, if I were going to sell them so cheaply. What he doesn’t understand is that there’s a reason why a “symbolic price” is called as such. The psychology of the person who acquires something differs when it is freely offered to them, compared to when they have to give something in exchange.

Another reason I’m sharing this is because garage sales are another fun way to bond- aside from sleep overs, dinners, movie nights, shopping trips or drinking sprees.

Several years ago, a friend also held a garage sale in her house. Her aim was to make more space in her closet, so she invited family members and some friends to take a look at her stuff (for some reason, I ended up not paying for anything I got). And it was there where I got the idea to hold a garage sale for friends.

I believe this is a good idea especially if you’re trying to sell anything with sentimental value because you wouldn’t want just anybody to go to your house and try or test them, would you? At least that was how I felt about the whole ordeal.

When it comes to your friends being your “clients”, you can easily slip in a few snacks, some gossip tidbits from your common circle, talk comfortably about anything that comes up and it’s even nice when they stay for a while longer even after the purchase.

Additionally, I would like to let people know how much joy the whole process gave me: from the day I had to text my friend, to the moment she came to our house (bearing gifts, too!) and finally upon seeing her so proud of herself for having acquired such nice items at a very low cost… I know I made my friend happy and at the same time, she knows she’s helping me a lot with our packing problems. It’s a win-win situation.

Lastly, when I compare this experience to my first intent of garage sale a quarter of a century ago I realize that the reason why it didn’t happen was because I really couldn’t make do without those bibelots. They may be junk to anybody else, but for me, the jewelry box was magical, the coin bank was cool, the skipping rope gave me super powers and the aroma beads multiplied themselves when flattened with a pencil… In short, they were irreplaceable objects back then.

This time around, I had to be practical and admit that clothes are expendable. To give you a clearer idea of my point: I would never sell any of the books or comic books I had here in Paris, may they be bought, salvaged from a park bench or originally brought from Madrid 3 years ago.

Tips

Before ending this entry, I would also like to share some tips I got from this personal experience namely regarding garage sale and pricing.

But before that, may I first suggest that you be very clear on why you’re having a garage sale. Is it to de-clutter your wardrobe? Perhaps you want to make space for new stuff? Or maybe just like me, you’re moving and doesn’t want to bother with packing bulky stuff like winter clothes. It is also possible that you simply wish to raise funds for something new to purchase!

This is a very important step because the reason you’re doing it will determine the rest of the things you’ll have to do to make the garage sale: the choice of items to sell, the pricing, the choice of how to hold the event, etc…

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Image courtesy of: https://enlightenedcustomer.wordpress.com

In my case, I wanted to get rid of some of our things and at the same time earn a bit of money to pay for the boxes we have to send to our new house. But I also wanted the future customers to find real value on what they’ll buy from me. I want to be part of that group who does what’s in their hands to curb excessive commercialism. I would like to contribute to a more sustainable, less aggressive model of consuming in my own little way…

Having said that, below are some of the tips I promised earlier:

On garage sales

  • Gather all the objects you want to get rid of.
  • Separate them in groups according to: very good condition, good condition, slightly impaired and very impaired.
  • Donate the very impaired ones. People buying second hand items are most probably not first-timers and they would be pissed off if they discover they’d been outsmarted. Admittedly, many people sell very impaired objects. My husband once got a vacuum cleaner that never worked. But I would suggest you save yourself the trouble of potentially facing a non-content buyer.
  • Itemize the objects and write a brief description about them.

On pricing items in your garage sale

  • Search for the items you’re selling and find out how much they cost when brand new. From there, price your products according to their condition, how many times they have been used and how much do you think they are in demand.
  • Ask yourself whether you’d buy the same second-hand objects at the prices you just set. Be very honest with your answer. Also, ask people around you for their opinion.

After you’re all set, I believe you are now ready to announce your garage sale via SMS, group chatting devices, social media and of course- through word of mouth!

Tune in next week for “Garage Sale Diaries 2: Online Version”.

A Short Note On: Mastering a Language

I was once told that the moment you could express anger in a foreign tounge, then you can be considered highly-skilled in speaking that language. It was only two weeks ago when I realized that albeit the truth behind this principle, HUMOR has proven to me the best way to improve my communication skills.

A quick background

I hail from a nation of story-tellers, so the desire to understand different languages comes from my fascination with recited tales of adventures, droll anecdotes and parables offering moral lessons. All the better if these stories are based on true to life experiences!

Suddenly, there came a time when I also yearned to share stories of my own (remember when I said I talked too much?). I noticed then, that the more I got to know a language the more I felt attracted towards it. This attraction is currently making me want to better my abilities. And in principle, the best way to do this is to spend time in a place where the said language is widely spoken or a place where that language is native to.

But in real life…

… the manner of speaking and being understood vary according to culture*.

Communicating is really not as easy as textbooks describe, even if one is lucky enough to be able to practice in the language’s native land. As a result, foreigners who are trying to succesfully communicate in a new tounge must exert an effort to establish a connection with the native speakers.

In the Philippines, this is achieved through a smile preceding any question or comment. In France, one connects through la politesse (politeness)**. In Colombia, the tone and melody of the voice set the scene***. In Spain, people also make it a point to be polite but it seems to me they talk more directly to the point.

No matter what kind of connection sets the stage for communication, it cannot be argued that life generally presents us with more opportunities to use humor (unless you live in a conflictive or famined area). It may be in the form of wit, light banter or joke.

Continuing with the examples: French people seem very serious but they are also susceptible to good-natured teasing (especially when the weather is “not bad”). The Colombians and Filipinos share a very similar sense of humor (we all love jokes with double meanings), while the Spanish style could range from being witty to total absurdity (look for Miguel Gila and Martes y Trece, respectively).

So wouldn’t it be easier to make our way into a labyrinth of vocabulary and grammar through amusement?

(And perhaps a bottle of beer or a glass of wine…?)

I don’t doubt that verbalizing anger helps master a language. After all, it taps into our most primordial feelings and connects them to that new system of words. But practicality-wise, to whom would we vent our anger out for language skills improvement? Our partners or housemates? A public servant? The butcher? The baker? The candlestick maker? And even if we are able to find someone to “practice with”, would they really give an assessment on how we might have constructed the sentence? Because, digo yo, self-evaluation doesn’t count…

Isn’t humor a much better connector than anger?

A differing opinion

According to my husband, I may have a point. However, he also stressed that the words spoken in the heat of the moment “arise from the soul” and break out automatically. So if a person naturally blurts words of anger in a foreign language, this means that the language has taken such roots into the subconscious that it could be easily accessed to voice out strong emotions.

I agree. Anger might be more effective. Yet as I’ve mentioned before, it may not necessarily be more efficient. At the end of the day, it depends on what objective a person has in learning a new language: does he simply want to speak it, or does he want to use it to communicate with others?

In my opinion when someone is angry, oftentimes he just wants to send everyone to “where the devil lost his poncho” and leave- perhaps without even waiting for the other person to respond. This describes a situation where the speaker utters whatever is needed and doesn’t necessarily need a reply; this is not communication. Whereas, within a fun atmosphere there is a lively exchange of stories, reactions and impressions among people. Besides, feedback is more accessible. This is communication.

In my own words

I don’t consider myself a “master” of any language. I am honestly nowhere near that. Even with regards to my mother tounge (Tagalog), I have to admit I still have a lot to learn.

I do, however celebrate my mini-victories during the times when I am able to grasp French humor or on occasions when I make my Spanish parents in-law laugh.

 

* For example, I learned how to speak Spanish in Spain, but when I went to Colombia… TENAZ! Whatta difference the Atlantic makes!

** It is compulsory to greet “Bonjour” before starting any kind of conversation with anyone. It is also important that you wish the other “Bonne journée”- or whatever is applicable- after bidding goodbye.

** If you are speaking to someone with who you regularly see like a co-worker or a client, it would be highly appreciated if you asked them first how they are doing, how their family is doing, etc…