May 11, 2012

Two things:

First, I passed my Spanish exam!! For those of you who talk to me regularly, this is a big deal! For those of you who don’t, this class was a free graduate Spanish course, just so I could get a foreign language requirement for my MFA. I didn’t know one language well enough to take the translation course (French in high school, 1 year of Italian in college, 1 year of Latin) so this was my only other option. It seemed like everyone else in my class had taken Spanish in high school, and I had no idea what was happening for the first half of the semester. At the midterm, which didn’t count for a grade, I failed because I only finished half of the newspaper article we were given to translate. For the final, I was determined to finish the whole thing even if it didn’t make perfect sense. We had one hour to do the first half of the exam- translating a story, and one hour for the second- which was chosen according to our field. I got an article on two Mexican novelists. The story was very long and I rushed through it as fast as I could, so that by 5 minutes from the end of the hour I only had one paragraph left. I assumed everyone else was finished because they are much better at this stuff in class, but for some reason I kept seeing eyes peering over at me from other areas in the room. A woman in my class said, “How much have you guys finished, ’cause I’m still on the first paragraph.” Other voices chimed in, “Yeah, I’m only halfway done”, etc. and the professor decided that we only needed to translate the first half of the story. I was disappointed because they probably paid very close attention and their stories were more cohesive than mine, but I hoped the professor would notice that I nearly finished and got a rough translation of the story, which was that a man is just sitting in his house with a letter which mentions a lover and he gets shot through a door at the end. The second half of the test I did wonderfully- I finished and the sentences were clear, and I hoped that even if the professor thought the first half was horrible that he would pass me because of the second. And when I got the P on my grade report I was very excited, however, I know I need to study speaking Spanish all summer because soon, I’ll be around native speakers and will have no idea how to talk to them. I try to pick out things people say on public transportation, but as I pretend to speak back to them in my head, I can’t come up with anything to say that I know is correct.

Second, I got my first rabies vaccination! I called basically every hospital in Boston, and the cheapest was the “Passport Health” clinic, which I found a little shady just because they don’t have any real doctors on staff. BU did put Passport Health, on their list of places to call about the rabies vaccine, so I finally decided to give it a try. The office is located in Cambridge on the second floor of a photography building, and I had to call the office to tell them I couldn’t find them. (There’s not really a sign anywhere, just an address number.) When I finally found them, I went to the women’s restroom, because shots make me nervous, and the light wasn’t working. The  man came out to find me because he knew I was lost, and there was an awkward moment of me standing with my backpack in the bathroom with the door open and the lights off. When I told him about the lights being off, he went right away to tell the landlord, and said that he would be happy to stand outside the men’s restroom to guard it if I wanted to use it, which was nice. He is a white-haired man with a British/English accent, one of those people that you would put your money on to be a kind grandfather. The lady/nurse? that was going to be vaccinating me smiled, and asked if I was Esther. I sort of freaked out at this point because I was already nervous- and I imagined getting shots that someone else needed, so I responded by saying, no, I’m Laura, don’t you have me down for 1:00? Laura? 1:00? and she laughed and said, OH, we have you down as Flora, I like Laura much better. I felt a bit better but was still skeptical until I actually sat down and started talking to her. She was very knowledgeable about what vaccinations I needed, and even about the BU clinic and recommended I go back there for malaria pills. When it came down to the vaccine, she first said she was the best shot-giver in Boston, and I believe her. She also asked if I was a fainter. I said no, but hesitated a bit too long, and she said, “Tell me the truth now, I don’t like surprises” and then I laughed and said that I have never fainted but do feel lightheaded sometimes. She made me put my feet up and kept looking at me like I was going to fall on the floor even after I told her I was fine. And I was fine. And as my friend told me the other day, this isn’t going to be the first or biggest risk I take on my journey this summer.


About legoldstein

I will be embarking on a journey to Ecuador on June 24th, 2012 as a traveling Robert Pinsky fellow, thanks to donations made to the BU MFA program by Bob Hildreth.
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