Where do I belong?

Interesting on the subject I’ve written about a few times. What makes you what you are? The difference between your passport and the countries that own a small slice of your heart.

Language talks

It’s 5.30am and I’ve had one hour sleep in the last 20 hours so needless to say I’m feeling a bit emotional. In an hour I will be flying via Ethiopian Airlines from Vienna to Stockholm for five days, but I can’t work out whether I’m coming or leaving home.

Although my passport says I am British and I would say that I am first and foremost English that doesn’t mean I class England or Colchester as my home anymore. Vienna for me is my home. It’s where I live, where I eat and where I work (supposedly), yet I’ll be leaving for good in two months.

I have a house in Sweden and all my Swedish family live there. I’ve gone to Sweden at least 3-4 times a year my whole life and I consider my Swedish culture an inherent part of what makes me, me. So am I…

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Looking Young

I do look young for my age. From a few feet away I could pass for early twenties and I do still get ID’d quite frequently. And the rest of my body, with the weight loss my skin and my figure got softer and I’m still reaping those benefits now. My only skincare tip : Drink water. Up until I was about 21 I had a face full of zits and horrible red blotches. Then I spent about eight weeks one Summer drinking nothing but water and it cleared up completely, and I’ve been relatively blemish-free ever since. Water helps in so many ways, it can be a struggle in winter when all you want is one of your favourite hot chocolates, but even just room temperature water can work wonders.

youn2

Your clues : Poppy and a Pint

Here are the good bits about looking young :

  • Being able to get away with younger fashions – I wear a miniskirt and short dresses and feel good. There are a lot of things I wouldn’t try wearing because I feel too old in my head, but bodywise I’m sure I could pull off. But I still feel too young to try Marks and Spencer for normal daywear and for work.
  • Help in the supermarket – nice “older” men who see you struggling to get a yoghurt off the top shelf and kindly take it down for you.
  • Save money on skincare – I know this one is going to come back and bite me in the bum when I turn 40. But at that age when you’re supposed to be getting into beauty regimes and all that jazz I was being a bit bullied at school, so never really got into it, even later on. But luckily I haven’t had much cause to, the water works just fine!
  • Running around with kids – You can still run round with children and it’s fine because you only look at most five years older than them!
  • That feeling when someone says “No way! You look much younger than 30” – Inside we like the compliment, it helps on days when we’re feeling a bit fat or our hair’s gone a bit shit or you realise you put charcoal tights on this morning rather than black.

And of course there must be some bad sides of looking younger than you are :

Definitive Identification

Definitive Identification

  • Having to carry ID at all times – This was very clumsy for me after I left uni, no NUS card anymore and no driving license so I had to carry my passport. Very frustrating as I was always really scared of losing it. Now the driving license fits nicely into my purse and even my pocket so much better!
  • Condescending idiots – I am 30. No, I don’t look it but I am. There are always people who make that snap judgement and put you at 22 in their head, knowing nothing about “adult” life, and treat you accordingly. I hate this – I have lost a parent, I own a car, I have a mortgage (almost!), I pay bills, and I know I like my steak rare.
  • Getting served in bars – I used to work in a bar, and I used to leave the people that looked too young until last because of having to ID them. This happens to me a lot. On one work night out, I was standing half an hour and even complained to the staff at the time and still didn’t get a drink. In the end I thought “F-this” and just went home. I complained the following day and was offered a free meal and drinks for me and four friends. I was so annoyed with them that I didn’t actually take it up, and didn’t enter that bar again until at least a year later.

On a side note, according to this article by the Daily Telegraph, women look their oldest at about 15h30 on a Wednesday, and unfortunately that’s riiight about NOW! Written and scheduled for British Blogger Selection – Skincare

British Blogger Selection

I am… 30, British, European, blonde, shy, hedonistic, short, sister, daughter, fiancée, prometida, guërita, supply-chain coordinator, brummie, chilanga, English, happy, Master of Arts, fluent, Guide Leader.

British Blogging

British Blogging

Twenty things that define me. I joined this blogging community : #BritishBloggerSelection. And it made me think about my personal identity. A few weeks ago I wrote about language and identity, but what else makes an identity? My passport might say British Citizen, and I might get a lump in my throat when I hear Rule Britannia at Last Night of the Proms, and I did get all excited when we won everything in the London Olympics – but I feel more like a citizen of the World than of my corner of Birmingham, in Great Britain.

Being British at the 2012 Queen's Jubilee River Pageant

Being British at the 2012 Queen’s Jubilee River Pageant

Individual but Universal. That’s another theme explored in Laberinto de Soledad (Octavio Paz). One alone but part of the whole. I’ve always been keen to surround myself with other languages and cultures, even when I was small. Like there’s no point in saying I’m British because I’m also European, I’m also Brummie, and I’m also a person – like these identity barriers shouldn’t exist because we are all important and we all laugh and cry as people of this Earth.

Libro de Cookery Mexicana – Our Own Spanglish

I’ve got the recipe books out again! I’m trying to have a go at a Mexican pudding today, I’ll let you know how it goes, we’re in the oven for an hour at the moment. Thomasina Miers you probably will be the death of me, or at least my left arm until I can buy a decent mixer. Yes, did you know that? I’m a zurda, a gauchère, a left-hander. So there’s a lot of stuff flying round at the moment about less and less people being able to speak foreign languages, or people wishing they were better at them (8 Out Of 10 Cats last night). It made me wonder about how me and Daniel communicate, and while most of the time we do speak English, we must talk our own version of Spanglish.

Spanglish at its best.

Spanglish at its best.

We speak in English for things like the paying the bills, when we’re with friends, my family, organising things like shopping or tidying up, and when I can’t be arsed. Then Spanish for other things, like más íntimo, or taking the piss out of each other. We talk in Spanish in the street, or in the supermarket or on the train or to be a bit bitchy about something. I like speaking in Spanish, and I like how Daniel corrects me if I say something wrong : he just looks at me funny, and waits for me to work it out and correct myself. I prefer it that way that a straight correction. Then he’ll test me like “What’s the first-person present of caber” – I wrack my brains running through, traigo, caigo, no…! But it’s only a test so after about five minutes he can tell me it’s quepo.*

It’s like our own little language, mixing and switching the words and the phrases to fit what we’re talking about. I know that Spanglish should have a grammar, but what’s brilliant about Spanish is that you can play around with it so much. It’s difficult to think now what we say, because it just comes out naturally when we talk. We have our own verbs, like tidyupear, but I think mostly we translate. The bookmakers William Hill becomes Guillermo Colina, the TV show 8 Out Of 10 Cats becomes Ocho Sobre Diez Gatos, etc. I do wonder whether we do truly speak Spanslish, but I guess that’s the beauty of linguistics, can you mould it to fit your sentence, your situation and you can completely make things up as you go along if you both know both languages well enough. I’m not saying I’m fluent in Spanish, I’d love to be better. But then, what is fluency? To my family who speak no Spanish I’m well fluent, but comparing myself to native speakers like Daniel and his friends, I’m no where near! Ok, I just asked Daniel if he thinks I’m fluent – “Yeah, it doesn’t take ages to talk and you know what you’re saying”.

Franglais in Marseille

Franglais in Marseille

I love Spanish. I hate French. But I can speak French, my Spanish is more fluent but I have more vocabulary in French. I do love speaking both. Going to France, and going to Mexico or Spain, and coping. Being able to have that extra knowledge that I don’t have in Germany or Amsterdam, knowing just by glancing at the street sign or a poster what’s going on where. There are people here that think that everybody should speak English, but I’ve never understood that. Speaking three languages, you can find that common language. At work I spoke to Greeks and Romanians in French because they didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak their native languages. And how boring would the world be – dystopian too, if you believe what you read in A Brave New World. How would you identify yourself? Language and Identity, especially in the Spanish-speaking world are so closely linked. Words have different meanings depending on where in Latin America are from, where in Spain even, it’s an Us and Them world. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Spain was having a bit of an identity crisis, politicians thought the way to fix that was to have everybody speak castellano, and be thrown in gaol if you happen to utter a word in català, euskadi or gallego. You identify with language within political borders too, one of my friends is Catalan. Catalonia is a region of Spain and her passport is Spanish but she’s not Spanish, she’s Catalan. I’m going to wrap this up now, for fear or reciting the whole of one of my essays from my Master’s degree. Let’s have a look at this cake…

* caber = to fit (into)