Feeling Thankful

I received some exciting news yesterday. I have been admitted to the Master of Arts Program in Comparative Humanities (B.A./M.A. Program for Brandeis Undergraduates) for the 2018-2019 academic year. This is an amazing opportunity for me, and I am very excited for it. The fact that I got into a graduate school program before I finished undergrad is astonishing for me.

Honestly, I never thought I would get this far in life, but I have, and I’m happy here. Imposter Syndrome is real, and although I sometimes have it, I have also realized that I am qualified, and I can do the things that I aspire to. Now that I have come this far, I’m starting to think of ways to give back. I have had so much support from my family, friends, professors, colleagues and more. I know that I would not be here without them. As I look towards my future, I am considering the best ways that I can contribute to the community that I rose from, and how to help other communities grow. If anyone has suggestions, or knows about meaningful causes I’d like to hear about them.

The Weapon we have is love.


Stand Up

One method of translation that I particularly like was introduced to me by my Creative Writing advisor. We took one of my translations and taped it to the wall, original Spanish on the left, and my English translation on the right. Something about having to stand up changed my perspective of the poem.

Usually I translate sitting down. Now I know I have claimed before that my physicality while translating is something decidedly lacking in consistency, but the unifying characteristic of it is definitely the sitting. Whether in a chair, on my bed, on the floor, I am always sitting, hunched over my work.

Standing, having the pages taped to the wall, equalized something I had not realized was disproportionate. Instead of my protective, possibly stifling hover over the words as I wrote, the physical change opened up a mental one, and I could feel myself enabled to interact with the text as though it were more malleable than before. I realize that this sounds bizarre, but these are true observations of my behavior. I looked at my work with new and fresh eyes.

I’m not having you on when I say that I truly feel the text came even more fully alive to me that day, and it was in those fresh moments that I found new words. I’ve tested since, and it works for writing original poetry too. So if anyone out there struggles with writer’s block, here is my suggestion – stand up. It’ll make you think.



Rant on Technique

Finding a way to translate has been difficult for me. Leaving aside all the theory of it ― metalanguage, ethics, religion, the hermeneutic motion, politics, feminism, gender, eurocentrism, questions of fidelity, identity, foreignization, word-for-word, sense-for-sense ― I could go on, but I won’t because that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about where and how I do my translations. I know it might seem strange, but harder than grasping theory or prioritizing source text vs. target text or wrapping my mind around the idea of rights towards an author I struggle with finding a method towards the physicality. It took me far more time than I wanted to spend to discover whether I preferred typing my translations directly, or writing them by hand. Over the course of a semester and a quarter I realized I preferred by hand ― at least at the outset. Following this, I had to discover what type of by hand I wanted, and honestly, I’m still not sure.

Currently all I have really established is that I prefer writing the base translation in some sort of notebook, typing that by hand, printing it out, and writing on it again. Here is where it gets messy though, because after a while I run out of space on the page and transition to writing it by hand, but I can’t decide whether writing in a journal or on a legal pad is better, and then I struggle with at what point do I type things up again, because typos are really annoying and cause mistranslations on a scale that is quite frankly covered in malignant slime. I once negated a positive and somehow wrote ‘perfection’ for ‘copia’ which is just flat out wrong. Turns out I wrote ‘reflection’ and misspelled it and autocorrect took things into its own hands.

Speaking of autocorrect, until I learned how to turn off the auto-capitalization function on OneNote and Word, every time I tried to write a poem, or even just type a completed poem up, resulted in auto-capitalizing every enjambment and while I love my computer I tended to get the urge to throw it against the wall. Fortunately, I restrained myself, and dug deep into settings to root out the source of the problem. OneNote Options → Proofing → Autocorrect Options, you’re my fav.

I digress, my point is that before I can even process what I’m doing, I need to find a process. The way things are going tends to work, but it also tends to make me want to light my papers on fire when I can’t find the right one. Luckily, I don’t actually have anger issues, I just like euphemisms. Even if this isn’t the most efficient way, I’m still producing content, so I’m just gonna keep going the way I’m going until I find a better way.



My Relationship with Spanish

I wish I were more fluent in Spanish. Not only am I in love with the language, but it would make translation so much easier. Yet can you ever be fluent in a language other than your native tongue?

For example: the word ‘dichoso’ I found defined as ‘happy’ and ‘dammed’ I was confused, but assumed it was an auto-antonym. I thought this for months, until I finally got around to talking to a native speaker, and within a minute of explaining my perceived definition it was explained that the word meant ‘fortunate’ and the definition meaning damned was actually not in there as the speaker being subject to some sort of curse, but in the sense of ‘that damned book!’ Unfortunately I did not know this and have undoubtedly made a fool of myself in front of anyone who reads those older translations. Not my best move.

It’s not that I’m terrible at Spanish, but I can sense the gaps in vocabulary like a child can sense they’re being left out while adults spell out words. I have never liked that feeling, hence why I learned how to spell P I Z Z A early on in my youth. (Incidentally, that word is spelled the same in both English and Spanish. The more you know).

I started learning Spanish when I was only 5. My elementary school used to have weekly Spanish classes for every grade, and while that was nice while it lasted, it stopped after my year in kindergarten. I had the option to be put in the two-way program, but I was passed up because I had ‘no aptitude for the language’. In reality, I had no aptitude for that teacher. I thought she was annoying, so I failed on purpose. What can I say? 5-year-old me was petty and had no concept of consequences.

It wasn’t until the 6th grade that I started another Spanish class, and at that point I had forgotten almost everything except how to make a trill. We don’t have them in English, but trills are awesome. One of my favorite party tricks is to trill while humming ‘Hedwig’s Theme.’ That and chest isolations while dancing are my best selling points while trying to convince people of my awesomeness.

After 6th grade and memorizing Ciega, Sordomuda I went to the Middlebury Monterey Language Academy (now called Middlebury Interactive Languages) and did 4 weeks of language immersion. My Spanish skills went up, and up again when I returned to Middlebury after 7th grade. In high school I skipped a year in Spanish and my junior year I was slated to take the AP course for Spanish, only to switch to a school that had no Spanish classes. In college I started at a fairly low level because I had the hubris to take the exam at 2am. In any case, my Spanish skills have taken a while to catch up because I was starting at such a low level again. I’ve finally worked my way back to the top, but vocabulary gets me every time.

This summer I am going to the Middlebury Language Schools, so I will hopefully learn more there. That said, it will be 7 weeks of no English, so I will most likely be creating posts in advance, or just writing them in Spanish and translating them back to English once the 7 weeks are up.

In the meantime, classes are done at Brandeis, so finals are about to hit me hard. I’ll make a new post as soon as I finish and/or when I get stressed out from working on things and want to use this blog as a pre-draft of my reflection papers.