Contemplation, Wonder and Gratitude


Dear English-B Interpreter Friends,

(First, my longer-than-usual letter to you to using words from Post #8)

Yes, indeed, I took some time off. I made the executive decision that committing clever booth vocabulary to memory is not a task that should be shoehorned into the inevitable end-of-the-year chaos. Plus, I had a couple of salient, non-academic exigencies to attend to these past weeks, namely visiting the newest family member – my stunningly adorable nephew, celebrating my feisty grandmother’s 90th birthday, and crewing an ultramarathon. These were three wondrous experiences, each in their own right.

My nephew is my mother’s first grandson and my first nephew. And he is named for my late father, of blessed memory. He is also a beautiful present to my mother’s husband, who never had the opportunity to have children of his own. So, with all the requisite hoopla and excitement to which all of you can probably relate, Little J popped into the world (after over 40 hours of labor) riding a wave of boundless love and honoring his lineage just by the mere fact of his safe and healthy arrival. For me, doting endlessly on such an utterly, helplessly dependent being was humbling. I felt an inexplicable sense of gratitude and privilege even (or especially) in all the mundane tasks of feeding, diaper changing, burping, tummy time, etc. And I walked about simultaneously tearing up joyously and smiling goofily all day, overjoyed just to be near this new miracle.

Celebrating my grandmother’s 90th was equally impressive. This woman (who is sharp as a whip from doing an NYT crossword a day for the last 60-odd years) recalls when television arrived, where she was when WWII ended, the down payment on her first house in 1950, the cultural no-nos she committed on one of her first trips abroad (Cartagena), what movie she told her parents she was out watching when she actually eloped with Grandpa, how she made an adventure of trying to find blue dungarees in China, how she cried with joy after living through the Civil Rights Movement and then seeing the first black president sworn in, why she tried (but kind of detests) Facebook, and on and on and on. At her celebratory dinner, she gave all the family members in attendance a mug that now sits permanently on the inspirational old treadle-sewing-machine desk I use to occasionally write fiction and stories. Inscribed are the words “my cup runneth over” – still true thousands of years after they were penned.

And then there was the ultramarathon. Although it may beggar belief that I actually voluntarily went nearly 60 hours eschewing sleep, willingly accumulating a thick film of dirt and dust over me and my car, cooked food hobo-style along trails and ran back and forth along the Caminho da Fé in the high heat of summer in order to see someone else run safely from point A to point B for days on end for no monetary recompense whatsoever, there was a reason for the madness. Among the gorgeous, verdant backdrop of the mountains of Minas Gerais, in the still moments of the sweltering day and the cool silence of cricket-filled nights, the universe gave me hours on end to parse the questions of life that seem so manifest at the start of the year. With the added milestones of my nephew’s birth and my grandmother’s 90th birthday, this inner and outer space for contemplation, for wonder and for gratitude was a nothing short of divine.

So, a belated message from this finally rested interpreter: May 2015 be a year of blessings for all.

Suggestions always welcome. Forwarding and sharing encouraged.

Happy words,
Melissa

P.S. To those of you who have graciously sent me word requests and digest suggestions, keep your eyes peeled for my inclusion of such throughout the year.

*** FIVE WORDS (IN CONTEXT) TO BRING INTO THE BOOTH ***
MOOT
* As used in the headline of this post on a recent US Supreme Court case concerning life-without-parole sentences. For those who wish to expand their legal English vocabulary, click on the post’s link to the Simerman article (#law)
*  As a Portuguese-to-English interpreting opportunity from musings by Rubem Alves on childhood and education (#education; #policy)
ref. “mas na minha infância eu não conhecia essa diferença” (2:02) – In my childhood, this difference was moot.
CHASTISE
* As used in the body of this detailed review of Oscar nominee ’Timbuktu’ – a movie quite apropos to Islamic fundamentalism and geopolitics today. (#film; #politics)
* Cameo (pun intended) of the word moot.
*  As a Spanish-to-English interpreting opportunity from this analysis of the state of Spanish society by political scientist Juan Carlos Monedero. This is also a great speech to practice interpreting since the presenter talks a mile a minute. (#political science)
ref. “la misma Alemaña que frenó sus impulsos es la que hoy se permite el lujo de regañarnos” (7:35) – The same Germany that checked its earlier impulses is the one that can now afford to chastise us.
DELUDE
* As used in the headline of this article in The Independent about the effect on the recent election of Greece’s leftist party on Germany, which took on much of Greece’s past debt (#geopolitics; #finance)
CALLOUS
* As used in this somewhat intriguing, somewhat disturbing Sydney Morning Herald article on the cerebral wiring of psychopaths (#science, #psychology)
* Bonus: this article also makes use of the famous phrase “the slings and arrows” – another brilliant Shakespeare original ubiquitous in modern English.
PURPORT
* As used in this culturally eye-opening op-ed on witchcraft and superstition in Tanzania (#culture, #religion)
***Reader Request***

This week’s reader-request special is a well-known contronym:
DECADENCE
* As used in the negative sense in tech writer Nicholas Carr’s blog pondering on the state of innovation (#technology)
* As used in the positive sense in this quirky, adjective-happy description of the food at a music and arts festival in Ireland (#food, #culture)

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