Clumsy Bones

I have always been clumsy.

Bumping into walls? Check. Tripping over my shoelaces? Check. Burning my leg by spilling boiling water on it and ending up in the hospital? Unfortunately, check.

Sometimes I feel like objects should have a sensor and if I come too close, quickly take a step back. Or beep. Cars can do that. Why tables can’t? It seems unfair.

Lots of bruises have always decorated my legs. They come in all sorts of sizes and shades of blue. It’s like body paint, but free!

A few days ago, a thought stroke my mind: “Am I clumsy or just mindless?”. Hmmm. Food for thought here. My head is sometimes floating in the clouds, lost in some remote universe. Is that why I don’t see the wall that’s right in front of me? Or should I get an eye test?

I can’t help but also wonder: can someone be mindful and clumsy at the same time? Or being mindful automatically regulates your clumsiness levels? What about someone who is mindless but not clumsy? Is that a thing?

I’m just pondering something here… Is being clumsy a consequence of lack of coordination or simply briefly getting distracted from the present moment? Maybe I just have butterfingers! And clumsy bones! (Well, maybe more like clumsy joints or muscles)

Let the facts speak for themselves

According to Macmillan Dictionary, this is the definiton of clumsy:

a clumsy person moves in a way that is not careful or graceful, and breaks things or knocks against them

Ouch. Graceful! Interesting. Ballet is all about harmony and graceful movement. I started attending ballet lessons two years ago. If I keep practicing, will it cure my clumsiness once and for all? Are there any positions that I should focus on? (If you have insider information, please contact me) I’ve just pictured myself walking in the street and stopping to do some pliés every once in a while. Not sure if this is the solution…

I decided to do a little research. This is what I found…

Hispaniolan Solenodon by Frank Wouters

Let me introduce you to the solenodon. This cute(ish) little fella has an insanely long nose and tiny eyes. It’s also able to survive in really horrible conditions. However, its saliva is venomous (no one is perfect, I guess). Turns out solenodons have received some nasty accusations of being slow and clumsy just because they walk in a zig-zag. Maybe they’re just trying to be graceful in their own way, like I am! (If you’re intrigued about these creatures, find more info here)

I was about to write the conclusion of this post, but then I jabbed my toe and lost the plot. Please accept my apologies. I’ll be more careful next time.

I Wanted a Sandwich, but Asked for a Sangwich Instead

As a language and phonetics nerd, I am really curious to observe how people talk, how they pronounce certain words and what sort of language they use. My brain also has fun making mental associations between people who speak in a similar way. Sometimes I’d love for them to meet up!

I’ve been living in the UK for four years now and would like to share with you one of the many pronunciation struggles I’ve had as a non-native English speaker.

Sangwich vs Sandwich

I’ve pronounced the word “sandwich” wrong ever since I can remember. I only realised it last year, when a friend mentioned it to me. I was embarrassed and fascinated. Since it’s quite a subtle mistake, I have successfully managed to hide it for many years. Like a language ninja. But now that I know I am mispronouncing the word, I try to pay extra attention while talking about those two slices of bread with some cheese in between.

The British pronunciation of the word is /ˈsæn(d)wɪtʃ/. Instead, I pronounce /ˈsæŋwɪtʃ/ (‘sangwich’). Please don’t kill me. Here’s the thing: if I try to pronounce ‘sandwich’ including the ‘d’, I find it quite challenging. I have to slow down to make sure I am doing it properly. My tongue feels clumsy. If I choose to ignore the ‘d’, as many people do, and go for “sanwich”, I still struggle. Sad times.

Our vocal organs always try to make things easier for us while pronouncing words. This mechanism is loaded with an inventory of phonemes (sounds) which varies depending on our native language. This video by A Way with Words sheds some light on this topic:

Sangwich speakers: assemble!

They explain that the cluster of consonants ‘ndw’ is quite difficult to pronounce by people who aren’t English native speakers, as our original inventory of sounds doesn’t include those sounds. Turns out I’m not alone! There are many people around the world happily saying ‘sangwich’ instead of ‘sandwich’ too. Apparently, it’s a common mispronunciation within the Italian-American community in New Jersey, New York, Canada and also some Spanish speakers. This makes a lot of sense. I’m a Catalan native speaker and Italian and Spanish share a lot of linguistic traits with Catalan.

I still would like to dig a bit deeper though. Why do I find ‘ngw’ easier to pronounce than ‘ndw’? I can’t seem to find any Catalan words with the cluster ‘ndw’. I found one with ‘ngw’: “pingüí” (penguin). Somehow I find it easier to transition from the velar /ŋ/ to the bilabial /w/, and that’s why my tongue has been making these little adjustments to make speech smoother for me.

What about you? How do you pronounce “sandwich”? Apparently, there are at least four different ways. Let me know in the comments! 😉

Unofficial Olympic Sports

Before digging deeper into the so-called unofficial Olympic sports, let’s do a bit of background work.

Unfortunately, the Olympic Games which were meant to be celebrated in Tokyo next month, have been postponed to next year due to the coronavirus crisis.

However, there’s no reason to worry. Life challenges us every single day so that every one of us has the chance to take part in their own Olympic Games, a totally personalised experience.

Yes, you’ve read it properly. Forget about pole vaulting or synchronised swimming. Think about yawning with your eyes open or putting your contact lenses on with your eyes closed.

There are small daily victories that, unfortunately, are still labelled as unofficial Olympic sports.

  • Blowing your nose when it’s windy.
  • Typing on your phone at high speed with extremely long fake nails.
  • Holding a child in your arms for an extended period of time.
  • 200 metres sprint with obstacles (optional) towards the bus stop.
  • Sprinting to reach the first available seat before the bus starts again.
  • Trying not to lose balance in the underground or bus while standing up and when you have nowhere to hold on to.
  • Changing nappies in 15 seconds.
  • Changing the duvet cover.
  • Bring the washing inside when it rains.
  • Freestyle artistic sliding (falling is optional) on wet or icy pavement.
  • Stacking your grocery in the bag in 15 seconds, placing the heaviest and sturdiest items at the bottom and working from there, leaving the lightest and more delicate items for the top.
  • Juggling tangerines.
  • Slaloming on a Saturday afternoon on the busy Princes Street, zigzagging any obstacles.
  • Playing Twister.

Cooking Disasters Brighten your Life

Today I would like to honour my cooking disasters. I feel like they deserve a post on my blog. Yes. Cooking disasters brighten your life. They also provide a really good opportunity for that long and liberating crying session that you’ve been postponing for months. How boring my life would be if every time that I tried to cook something it turned out amazing!

Burnt NYE Pizza

Yes, I’m not afraid to admit it. Burning a pizza on New Year’s Eve is starting to feel like a tradition. Bear in mind that when I say burn I mean burn. I am not talking about a gently toasted or lightly browned pizza. Just picture a black circle. Then add your favourite topics: black pepperoni, black mozzarella, black and crispy bacon… As you might know, in Spain, we eat twelve grapes at midnight on NYE. If you don’t,  you can expect bad luck for the rest of your life. Maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea. I’m starting to think my calling is burning pizzas instead.

It’s not pizza but it’s close enough. Source: GIPHY

Easter Cake Fail

Like many other people, I felt like baking during lockdown. Unfortunately, my first baking experience didn’t go as expected. Easter was around the corner, so I thought it would be nice to try to bake a very special cake that we eat on Easter Monday. When I say we, I am referring to the Spanish regions of Catalonia, Murcia, and Valencia.

This delicious sponge cake (we call it “Mona de Pasqua”) will try to steal your heart with its apricot jam, candied fruit, and chopped almonds.Getting the ingredients was already a challenge. I couldn’t find any flour, baking powder, or candied fruit. Instead of giving up, I decided to innovate. After some Google research on a very slow 4G, I bought some cornflour, cream of tartar, and really cute tiny icing carrots.

Back home, I assembled all the ingredients on the kitchen counter. While I was casually reading the cream of tartar label, I found out something horrifying: if I wanted to use it as a substitute for baking powder, I had to mix it with bicarbonate of soda. Spoiler alert: I didn’t have bicarbonate of soda. The supermarket neither.

I decided to proceed regardless. I added some egg whites to the dough in a desperate attempt to increase the volume. It just went worse and worse from there. I messed up while pouring the dough into the cake tin and some of it ended up all over my jeans. I oven-baked what was left of the dough. You can see the result below… Even after baking it in the oven for what seemed like an eternity, it was still kind of raw inside. The taste was atrocious, believe me…

Scrambled Zombie Pancakes

I woke up late, feeling like a zombie with a creepy hoarse voice and craving pancakes. I didn’t have enough flour according to the recipe. I’m sure you know that zombies don’t like going to the supermarket so that wasn’t an option. My flatmate kindly lent me some of her exotic coconut flour. There was some light at the end of the tunnel. But no. The pancakes kept breaking after turning them. I kept the momentum going and instead of crying, I listened. The coconut pancakes didn’t want to be normal pancakes. They were born to be scrambled.

Truth is those pancakes had a strange flavour and texture… I ate them anyway, though. There is nothing that lactose-free chocolate and hazelnut spread can’t fix.

By the way, I also use the scrambled trick on other occasions. For example, it’s quite useful when you’re initially going for an omelette but you observe too much resistance. Give it a try ;).

Lightly Salted Cake

What a fancy name for a cake. Well, it’s not. It’s just the name of another of my cooking disasters. It’s the result of not labelling containers. You can already guess what this is about: I was happily baking a cake. I added 260 grams of “sugar”. Later, I realised it was salt. I took the block of concrete out of the oven, waited for it to cool down, and ate a slice binned it.  Life’s too short. Be gentle with your arteries :).

What about you? Do your cooking disasters brighten your life as well? Feel free to share them on the comments below. Happy cooking and crying!

First Day with Contact Lenses

A colored abstract eye in purple, green and pinnk
Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

The first day of wearing contact lenses is big, exciting and scary at the same time. No one is ready for that, to be honest. You assemble a mirror, tie your hair up in a ponytail and wear your most comfortable clothes to allow freedom of movement. You do some arm stretches, followed by some wrist and finger stretches and tapping exercises. Fine motor skills need to be at their best today. 

You take a deep breath. 

The contact lenses are happily floating in their solution. Yes, it feels kind of cruel. You will take them outside of their natural habitat and place them in some strange and uncharted territory (aka your eyes). And drumroll please… they might not like it there. They might get annoyed and dry your eyes so much until you give up and remove them. Or they might feel all cosy and just let you be, and see, most importantly. 

Gathering strength from God knows where you carefully grab one and place it on your index finger. You inspect it carefully to check if the shape is correct (if it’s not a perfect circle, it might be inside out, as your optician warned you). Everything seems fine. In slow-motion, you bring the contact lens closer and closer to your right eye. Your terrifying look is undeniable (Thank God no one is around to immortalize the moment). You are almost there, and your eye is wide open, ready to embrace his new friend. 

Plot twist. Your eyelid closes. Again, again and again. It’s like there’s a switch somewhere: as soon as the enemy is too close, it’s time to close the curtains. And then you sort of wish you were in that A Clockwork Orange scene where the eyes are clamped open… But then you think again, realise it might be a bit painful and forget about it. 

After several failed attempts, somehow you succeed. You are now wearing one contact lens on your right eye. WOW! It’s a whole new world out there, you think, keeping your left eye closed. Fuelled with adrenaline, you rush and manage to put the contact lens on your left eye on your first strike. Oh boy, does it feel good… 

It’s like seeing for the first time. The frame of your glasses is gone. Your eyes are wild and free to look wherever they want. Everything is clear and focused. It’s better than a dream! Every once in a while, your hand reaches up in an attempt to readjust your glasses (which are no longer there). It will take a while to get rid of this automated action… Later on, you’re chilling on the sofa and decide to read a book and out of force of habit, you reach for your glasses and put them on*. 

*All memories of what happened afterwards have been meticulously erased. Thank you, brain, I owe you one. 

Thank you, Writers’ HQ for this lovely exercise on day#1 of 14 Days of Self Write-solation :).

P.S.: Aliens struggle with eyesight too. Find evidence on that here.

Guess what, I’m an alien! (Chapter 7)

Easter 2020 in a nutshell. Yes, I know it’s not an egg. Photo by Brunno Tozzo

2nd of April, 2020

I feel like it has been Sunday for ten days in a row but I have the impression this might not be possible. At least, here on Earth.

Anyway, somehow I forgot to write in my diary… Luckily I didn’t forget about my virtual appointment with my GP several days ago. Dr Crownie, still wearing his SpongeBob pyjamas, seemed to be fascinated with my case. He was also deeply concerned in case coronavirus caused unexpected symptoms in my body. Then he went on about his long career and how he had never encountered a similar situation and asked for permission to write a report about me. If I could blush, I could have… But aliens don’t blush. My mum would be so proud of me! I would be famous! Right you, back to the important bits.

So yeah, basically Dr Crownie told me that I have to collect and send some samples for him to perform a “thorough and compendious” analysis. No idea what he meant, but I agreed anyway. He needed blood, breath, urine and hair. HAIR! What on Mars is that? Ah right, that fluffy thing some humans have to keep their head nice and warm… Well, I don’t have (or need) any of that, thank you very much.

So yeah, unfortunately I still don’t know if I can get coronavirus. I have to wait for the results… I feel cool as a cucumber, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. And no, of course I didn’t manage to get those COVID-19 positive human samples from the hospital because Dr Crownie told me to self-isolate at home until he has more information on how to proceed. Yes, I am a disappointment to my family. I might not be allowed in my hometown ever again. And no, my aunt won’t send me chocolate eggs for Easter… Not even a card.

Ready for the next chapter?

Guess what, I’m an alien! (Chapter 6)

24th of March, 2020

I have to admit that when Dave first mentioned it, I was about to bake a cake because I thought they had discovered a new asteroid. Turns out it’s not exactly that. And it’s not good news. But I was kind of close. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sure you know there’s a new virus going around. What you might not know is that there’s an astrobiologist called Chandra Wickramasinghe that claimed that COVID-19 came from space, travelling through a meteor.

Offended? A LOT. Puzzled? That too. I wish I had paid more attention at school… I feel too embarrassed to email my teacher about this. Luckily, my aunt is a police officer, so I thought it was appropriate to send her a link with the article so she can properly investigate the issue. She told me that she needs proof ASAP. Guess who will have to sneak into the hospital and “borrow” some positive swab samples COVID-19 positive… Not sure exactly how am I going to send them over to her. But I’ll sort out the logistics tomorrow.

But still, there are too many unanswered questions. My poor four brains can’t cope. Here’s my question: can I, since everyone keeps claiming I am an “alien” (no comments…), get infected with the virus as well? Should I expect the same symptoms as humans? Do I need to wear a mask? Where do I find a mask that doesn’t irritate my slimy skin? Are the space borders closed as well or can I go and “briefly” visit my mum to tell her I’m OK?

I phoned 007 and when I explained I was an alien they hung up and blocked my number. SHOCKING. No one seems to take me seriously here, except for Dave. Because look, if it turns out I am immune to COVID-19, I could go and help at the hospitals, do the grocery for elderly people, walk people’s dogs… But instead, here I am, stuck in my flat, refreshing teenager memories by watching Venus Shore for the fifth time… And I can’t even meet Dave for a cup of tea.

Tomorrow at 2.59pm I have a videocall with my GP. Let’s see what he has to say… Stay safe everyone…

Hungry for more? 😉

No Need for Binoculars

It was very toasty in there. It wasn’t necessarily good or bad. But it was definitely something worth mentioning. And there was a really annoying noise in the background. I don’t know how to describe it. It was hard to focus on the job.

Every 10 minutes or so, a light breeze would come in and someone would stare at us. Just between you and me, the situation was quite violent. I don’t remember signing any papers agreeing to this kind of treatment. Did you? And there was no place to hide, which made things even worse! We were clearly not ready. Why couldn’t he just leave us alone?

I swear I tried to make it clear, but the fellow wouldn’t get it, and simply kept staring with this annoying hesitant look on his face. I mean, yeah. One could possibly blame Hitchcock for “Rear Window” and the peeping theme. But. Here, there were no cameras or binoculars involved. And the fellow was anything but discreet. Oh, and that filthy thing underneath us.

First things first, it was so shiny I could barely open my eyes. And last but not least, it made me want to scratch my skin like a psycho. But for reasons only God knows, I couldn’t, and I guess I’ll never be able to. I guess being a chicken nugget is not an easy job, my friends. Stay strong!

Guess What, I’m an Alien! (Chapter 2)

8th of November, 2019

I’ve been thinking of going to the beach for a while now. Sandcastles, water and jellyfish seem like an interesting combination. I’m a bit nervous because it’ll be my first time.

I did some research to ease my mind and found out that I need a swimsuit, a towel, flip-flops and sunscreen. I still haven’t figured out what sunscreen factor would be more suitable for my skin. I’ve been looking everywhere, but there’s no information on slimy emerald green #046307 skin.

I’ve never had to use sunscreen before: actually, I didn’t even know that such a thing existed. I think I miss our moonlight. Anyway, the pharmacist almost had a heart attack when I asked him for advice, so I ended up choosing one randomly, leaving the coins on the counter and rushing outside.

Back home, I applied a bit of sunscreen on my left arm, just to try it out. My beautiful skin turned PUR-PLE! Purple and green… It’s like the beginning of a horror story! I tried to wash it out but the colour kept changing: orange, black, yellow, purple again… What a disgrace! I really wanted to enjoy the sunshine but my whole body turning purple wasn’t an option.

Luckily, I ended up finding a bargain on eBay: a diving suit. Of course, it didn’t fit me properly so I had to make some alterations here and there. Getting a towel? Easy-peasy. I just couldn’t find any flip-flops size 76.4 so I decided to go barefoot like I always do. Apparently, walking barefoot on the sand is good for you anyway.

12th of November, 2019

Oh, what a day. Much to my surprise, the beach was completely empty. But it was so hot outside! I wonder where everyone went. I mean, 8ºC? Unbearable. Anyway, I drove to the beach with all my equipment and set up camp. I sunbathed for 39 seconds. Then I went for a swim.

Swimming has relaxed me since I was a child. We used to go to the lake with my parents every second Sunday. I should give them a call sometime. Let’s set a reminder at 4:58:03. So, back to the water. I was about to bump into some strange orange balloons when my hands started to itch like hell. I made an enormous effort not to scratch, I swear. I focused on my breath. On my toenails. On my belly button. But nothing worked. I swam back to the beach and sat down in despair, feeling every inch of my skin getting stuck on the diving suit. Yuck. I googled like there was no tomorrow using voice recognition (my hands were too sore to type) until I found out the issue: the sea has salty water! Heaven’s sake! Whose idea was it?!  

Hungry for more? 🙂

Guess What, I’m an Alien! (Chapter 1)

28th of May, 2019

Today, at 9.07 am the doctor told me I was an alien. An alien? What was that supposed to mean? “You might have noticed you have 3 eyes”. Well, of course. There have always been there. What was the problem with that? “Well, you see… normal people usually have only 2”. Normal people? Usually? Too much for today. I’ll go to sleep and pretend all this never happened.

1st of June, 2019

I can’t read the numbers on the whiteboard but apparently, no one cares. This morning, the optometrist told me that unfortunately, they don’t provide glasses for 3 eyes. “There has never been a need to manufacture 3-eyed glasses in the current market” – he remarked. My migraine is killing me so I wasn’t ready to give up yet: “Is there any alternative? Contact lenses maybe?” He had to check with his manager.

After 2 minutes and 66 seconds, he came over and awkwardly stared at me. He obviously didn’t know where to look, but he was trying to act professionally. He smiled nervously. I jumped to the rescue: “Just choose one eye. It doesn’t really matter which one. But please. Could you provide me with contact lenses? I really struggle to read the signs when I drive”. Oh boy, you should have seen that. His chin dramatically dropped. He started mumbling, trying to find the right words. I interrupted: “What about laser surgery?” Apparently they’ve never performed this procedure to people like me. But hey, how different would that be? They’re just eyes. Why was everyone so scared of them?

Ready for the next chapter? 😉