West to East Side of Austin..a different flare!

Saturday morning started out with a yawn, a stretch, and a fresh cup of coffee! The fresh cup of coffee was key to getting Marquitos out of bed to head to my favorite place in Austin, Lady Bird Lake (a.ka. Town Lake) I have to admit I had a little resentment towards the new name, until I realized that the woman who funded the wonderful place had recently passed away,  and thats why it is now called,”Lady Bird Lake.” Well she certainly lived up to her name, Lady Bird.

Some of my best days have been ones that were unplanned and slightly unpredicatable. Had I known that I would be cruising around central and east Austin until 7PM I might have worn something other than what I went to sleep in! Saturday was certainly one of those days. I had every intention of walking 4 miles with Marcus as we have plenty of Saturday mornings. As we were walking from my car to the lake I couldn’t help but take a fresh breathe, hug Marcus as we walked, and say, like I always do, “I love this place! Too bad we can’t live closer to it!” Just as we were walking onto the trail I noticed a man at a table soliciting some information. I’m always curious to see what sort of solicitations people are promoting at the lake. Well it turned out to be some organization that was trying to Keep Austin Beautiful! Before we knew it, we were grabbing a large trash bag, some sort of trash picker-upper device and slipping our hands into protective gloves. Yup, thats right, we were picking up trash at the lake. So much for our 4 mile, heart pumping, eye-pleasing, fresh-air smelling walk!!! I have to admit we weren’t doing this because we are such whole hearted, intrinsically driven individuals. If you found the “easy to find” envelopes and returned by 11am you could win wonderful prizes to Austin original venues, like The Alamo Draft House! Needless to say we never found an envelope, but we filled up the hefty, hefty trash bags.

During our trash picking up escapade we got a little bitter especially because we weren’t finding any envelopes. We started imagining all the individuals that could have dumped their trash at our beautiful lake. We found everything from a deflated soccer ball to high-end beer bottles! The hour sort of flew by, but I was really regretting not enjoying my 4 mile walk. Marcus, being the reflective person that he is, reminded me that we were simply doing our part in Keeping Austin Beautiful. “Oh right, ok Marquitos,” I replied.

From there we met my sister and an old friend at Joe’s Bakery and Mexican Cafe on E. 7th Street. Wow! If you have ever seen a movie from Bollywood, you would totally get what Im about to describe, except this would be a Mexican version of Bollywood!

So, as I was saying we met up with my sister and an old friend who grew up in East Austin and recently returned to live in his old neighborhood. For those of you who aren’t familar with Austin the East side is being revitalized, gentrified etc etc It really just depends on who you are speaking to. At any rate, it’s changing. The restaurant is your typical colorful Mexican restuarant. It even has La Virgen de Guadalupe in one corner. What I’m about to describe is what actually makes this place unique. First of all, this Satueday morning was the morning of a huge UT football game day. Mostly everyone there was wearing burnt orange and the restaurant was playing UT songs. Occasionally, about half the people in the restaurant would raise their fists and proudly sing the “Texas Fight” song and “The Eyes of Texas!” I swear it was like being in a Mexican Bollywood movie. Practically everyone in the restuarant was Hispanic and I’m willing to bet Mexican-American.

From there we went to “Rabbits,” a dive bar in E.Austin. If I had to describe this place in three phrases I would say something like, inexpensive imported beer, live Austin music, and friendly people. We stayed there for a little while…

I ended my day appreciating and loving the city I live in even more. I love that I belong to two different cultures. I helped keep our lake beautiful with fellow walkers, who were all anglo, but I can also hop over to the east side of Austin and fit right in with Latinos eating a traditional  Mexican breakfast while singing The Eyes of Texas!

*This weekend actually occurred about a month ago. 

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Bilingual Dilemmas Comment Response

Yes, I am being too hard on myself, but I cant help it Im a little obsessed with language. I don’t have a distaste for Spanish. I think it’s normal to have these sentiments. Ill eventually grow out of this phase and move right back in…it’s the way I get by. As I mentioned in the section “About my blog” I write these thoughts and experiences about my bilingual life in order to better understand language, culture and identity. I try to compare and relate them to the experiences my students may be going through in order to inform my research interests. Thanks for your advice….it helps mujer!

Exploring Spanglish

There’s more to come. Briefly though, I learned that in the realms of academia it is not called “Spanglish,” it’s called borrowing. Hmm what exactly does the use of “borrowing” instead of “Spanglish” imply? If you read my blog post about Spanglish and then read this, not yet written post about my explorations of Spanglish, you will learn that my interpretation of “Spanglish” has evolved….pero solo un poquito.

Bilingual Dilemmas: Negotiating my use of Spanish.

Lately, I have been utterly sick of speaking Spanish. I’m tired of not knowing all the words I need to communicate with. I’m sick of trying to decide whether or not the Spanish phrase I’m using actually exists in Spanish or if I’m borrowing it from English. I find myself having to compromise my identity as a Spanish-speaking Latina living in the U.S.! I find myself meeting Spanish half way, per se. For instance, I’ve decided to speak Spanish with the custodians at work, but I’m not going to with teachers who I know are proficient and comfortable enough to speak English.

I have stated before that I came to the realization that I will never be nearly as fluent as a native speaker of Spanish until I live in a Spanish-speaking country. So, until I do, I refuse to speak Spanish unless absolutely necessary. I’m tired of negotiating conversations, thinking over and over how to say certain things, and pulling out a Spanish dictionary. I’m also tired of trying to figure out why people use Spanish and English the way they do. They “code-switch,” “borrow,” and all sorts of other creative twists.

I can only imagine what goes on the heads of my little students!

If you have ever heard me speak Spanish you would probably think I speak it well. Depending on your experiences with Spanish you may even notice my errors. I consider myself very proficient, but my mind is actively thinking about what I’m saying as I’m saying it and it drives me insane. In other words, I want my use of Spanish to be as automatic as my use of English.

What does this mean in terms of my research interests?

Good question. I recently learned that sometimes the actually “study” may come after  exploring a pseudo-study. For example, when I began my case study this past fall I had a very specific skill in mind that I wanted to work on with my student. I wanted to analyze how her proficiency in Spanish may or may not be detrimental to her writing experiences in junior high. Yes, I know it seems broad. After two months of meeting with my case study I came to the realization about what I actually would have liked to focus on. Unfortunately, I realized this two days before our second to last meeting. So, by writing about my frustations in regard to Spanish I may not know exactly where I’m going with this sentiment or thought, but through various explorations I may or may not be on to something. For instance, during the last two sessions with my student we decided that she would watch her favorite novelas, like she always does, and write about what happened in each novela in order to edit and revise it. She was writing about two novelas. One she summarized in English and the other in Spanish. In other words, we were using her writing about the novelas to help her learn revising and editing skills. By default, she was also learning about the English language. She also drew her own conclusion. She noticed that one thing she did in her writing in Spanish was the same thing she did when she wrote in English. The writing skills transferred!

One of the struggles I had with my case study was that we didn’t really communicate. She wouldn’t speak! I was speaking to her in English because she is scheduled to write in English on her high stakes standardized test in the Spring. As we progressed through each session we spoke less and less English and more Spanish. Spanish eased it’s way into our sessions. If my student feels as if she has to negotiate her use of English then it’s no wonder she would hardly speak to me in English!!!