Self-deprecation is worth its weight in smoldering phoenix-ashes and baby unicorn tears.
Published on April 15, 2008 By SanChonino In Blogging

Howdy, y'all.  I've been in Madrid for the past week, so I'm a bit behind.  Like 20 hand-written pages behind.  And each article I post here is usually 2-3 pages.  So I've got a bunch, and I'm going to try to keep them shorter for Cedarbird's sake, since she loves to complain about how long-winded I get.  Whatever.


02 Apr 2008.  5:24pm.

"Say pull for me again.

"Say hot for me again."

I sit in the darkened booth, twisted sideways and backwards to fit in the claustrophobia-inducing hellhole, and read the words on the computer screen through the window (outside of this horrible, dark, sealed box/coffin) in a painfully monotone voice, careful to keep my speed consistent as the maddeningly repetitious phrases scroll before my dull, dead eyes.

"Say furl for me again.

"Say Paul for me again."

I can see the grad student, seated patiently at the other laptop, biting on her thumb while watching the recording stream live, her face lit like someone telling a ghost story around the campfire - all light from below, all shadow above.

"Say pole for me again.

"Say hoe for me again."

It's not that bad, I guess.  When i got the e-mail from her asking for my help in recording some phrases in English for phonetic analyses connected with her doctoral dissertation, I was more than willing (mostly because I hope people are willing to help me when I reach that point).  The fact that the school would pay me 25 Euros each for the two sessions only sweetened the deal.

"Say poor for me again."

But did I know it would be so mind-numbing?

"Say Paul for me again."

I already said Paul four times for you again.

This is proof positive why I study literature, not phonetics and phonology.  This may be mind-numbing to me to sit in this coffin/box for two hours and read words into a microphone, but she's got to go listen to this recording heaven-only-knows-how-many-times and extrapolate whatever data she's looking for.

"Say pool for me again."

That's not only mind-numbing, that's downright brain-liquefying.

"Say furl for me again."

Nevah! I say to myself, as I begin to think about the Sonata de invierno, waiting for me back home and with so few pages until the denouement.  Poor Marqués de Bradomín, losing his arm and then unknowingly, accidentally trying to seduce his own nun/daughter.  My sordid adventures have nothing on Xavier Bradomín, man.

"Say heat for me again.

"Say pure for me again."

In that moment I realize my brain has been severed into two in new and exciting ways.  Speech, one of the supposedly 'higher' brain functions, has joined the lower functions and my mind is in no way, shape, or form connected to the words coming out of my mouth.  They might as well be gibberish, the mad ravings of a Pentecostal who smoked a little too much 'Holy Spirits' and is in the throes of the ridiculously misunderstood 'gift of tongues'.


The screen reads "THE END" and I force the door of my sound-proofed prison open and tackle my bottled water, eager to slake my thirst.  With a big smile, the grad student thanks me for my time and hands me some money.

Not a bad way to earn 25 Eurobones, and she needs me tomorrow for another (shorter) session, same price.

Good.  This will finance my weekend travel.

on Apr 15, 2008

We fear the things
We do not understand

The powers

Of good
And evil

Of the world

The past
The future

The promises

The folly
Of those who died

For nothing

Leaving their wives
And their children

For love

The only thing
That makes us human

Ulver, "All the Love"
on Apr 15, 2008
Yikes...that sounds uncomfortable. Ah, but money was it's tolerable.

Nice to hear from ya, SanCho.

on Apr 15, 2008
I had a similar traumatic experience with a grad student when I was overseas. I spent three days trying to find Indonesian translations for English emotion words. Until you've tried to explain the difference between rage, anger and wrath in a foreign language you just don't understand the meaning of frustration.

Still, cash prizes at the end of it pay for the booze or diversions you need to forget.
on Apr 15, 2008

Get online, boy.  We have to talk.  You know when I'm going to be around.  Instant Message me, brother!

on Apr 15, 2008
Thanks, folks. It's good to be back!

The texture of the soul is a liquid that casts a vermilion flood
From a wound carved as an oath; it fills the river bank a sanguine fog
These arms were meant to be lost! Hacked, severed and forgotten
The texture of time is a whisper that echoes across the flood
It's hymn resonates from tree to tree, through every sullen bough it sings
These boughs were said to be lost! Torn, unearthed and broken
Earth to flesh, flesh to wood, cast these limbs into the water
Flesh to wood, wood to stone, cast this stone into the water...

Agalloch, "Limbs"
on Apr 15, 2008

Good.  This will finance my weekend travel.

Come the weekend it will be all worth the pain.


Welcome back.

on Apr 15, 2008

Good to see you mate.  And I could think of worse ways to earn a few dollars (or Euros, in your case).  Looking forward to hearing of your adventures in Madrid.

on Apr 16, 2008
Come the weekend it will be all worth the pain.

It was.