The Spanish-American Ambassador

I’m talking with my coworkers in Madrid, and they casually mention how Americans are. You know, all of us, all the time—how we act (boorish), how we think (hint: we don’t), what we look like (obese), what we eat (hamburgers, fast food, and generally junk). My pulse quickens, and I feel the urge to say something, anything, because they are oh-so wrong. But what do I say? How can I not act like a know-it-all? Most importantly, how can I convince them that not all of us would choose a greasy hamburger as our last meal?


Continue reading

Third Culture


In our guest room a flag hangs from the wall above the bed. No, not a yellow and red flag; this one is red, white, and blue. You know—the stars and stripes. My dad bought Mario this flag to remind him where he should (eventually) settle down. My dad would like it very much if we moved back to the US, preferably yesterday. It has a prominent place in our home, this flag. Why?

Continue reading

Spanish Phrases I’ve Learned

Yesterday I wrote about the advantages and disadvantages of dating a foreigner. One is, as I’ve repeatedly said, learning a new language from said foreigner. That said, I know I have many American readers who either a) are learning Spanish or b) want to learn Spanish. I love learning new phrases from my boyfriend, ones that make no sense literally, but are used just the same. (Think “cut to the chase” – what am I cutting and what is the chase?)

I often want to learn new phrases in Spanish, but it’s not as though Mario can think of them off the top of his head (another set phrase in English!). So, I wait until they come up in conversation, as they inevitably do, and then pick his brain (+1 more for me), as you will see below. I suppose I could Google them, but the useful Spanish phrase websites are almost always written for beginners and it’s more fun this way as well as easier to remember.

Example of phrases I do not need to learn. Thanks, but no thanks.

  • a secas – Mario, of course, said this to me. Here’s how it went down, Spanglish and all. And yes, this is copy + pasted straight outta Gmail.
Mario: I hope my next mobile is a mora negra
Mario: o mora a secas
me: mora a secas?
Mario: a secas means “just that”
Mario: in this case, there’s no need to say “mora negra”
Mario: because blackberry means mora
  • pan comido – literally, “eaten bread,” but it means easy as pie / cake. Like, “Ese examen es pan comido” = “That exam will be easy as pie.”
Mario: ¿por qué es pan comido?
me: muy fácil de hacer. eso es lo que significa pan comido, ¿no? ¿fácil?
Mario: sí, aquí ya sabes que hay un culto hacia el pan
Mario: por eso, decimos pan comido
  • irse / marcharse con los bártulos a otra parte – take your stuff and go, but more in the sense of “this sucks, I’m gonna take off.” I love the word bártulos, by the way. Example from Cinco Días.
  • ser una piña – literally, “to be a pineapple,” but you use it to mean to be a tight-knit group. “Somos una piña” = “We’re tight.” Example from La Voz de Galicia.
  • a diestra y siniestra  – this one happened early on in our relationship/my Spanish learning. It means “left and right” in the sense of “The Spanish team is winning medals left and right” = “El equipo español está ganando a diestra y siniestra.” Example from El País.
So, fellow Spanish language learners / Spanish people who want to teach me a cool new phrase – what should be the next phrase I learn? I’m all ears.