Speak and spell

I speak English and Spanish separately and together, as well as broken Italian, elementary French and can utter two phrases in German. Yet none of these linguistic tools are absolutely any use to me in my new city. Every sign across every highway, and every street in every city is pronounced exactly opposite of how it naturally comes out of my mouth.

“I live on Hazeltine,” I told a new friend, only to be immediately corrected. “Honey, you live here now, it’s pronounced Hay-zel-TEEN.”


The list is never-ending. San Pedro is pronounced San-PEE-droh, not San-PAY-dro. Redondo Beach is pronounced as if I’m deliberately making fun of an anglo attempting to speak Spanish. And who knows what I’m supposed to do with Topanga Canyon and Cahuenga Peak. Those haven’t come up in the conversations I obsessively eavesdrop on at Starbucks.

While sipping my macchiatto and pretending to troll my Instagram, I’ve learned how to properly pronounce the names of boulevards. For instance, Wilshire is WILL-sure and Pico is PICK-ouuuuuuh.

I’ve also learned the word SANTA, as in Santa Monica, appears to have three syllables, like the letters S and A have an imaginary ‘HA’ after them: SA-HAN-ta MO-ni-ca. This is exactly the opposite of RUNYON, as in Runyon Canyon, which gets pronounced in one quick grunt, RU-yn or RUR-n, but that could’ve been my straining to hear over a barista’s zealous foam party.

IMG_9458Here are a few more, practice at home with me:

  • Hermosa Beach = Hurr-MUSS-ah BEACH
  • Los Feliz = Luss-FEE-liss
  • La Cienega = Luuh-see-yay-NAY-gah
  • Van Nuys = Van-EYES
  • La Brea = Luuh-BRAY-uh
  • Santa Clarita = SA-HAN-ta Claire-RITA
  • Sepulveda = Say-PULL-vay-dah

Are there any other words that locals pronounce differently? I would imagine so. But all they talk about is traffic, so these are the only words I know, and apparently, the only words I’ll need.

Up against the wall

I’ve returned to the place where I made most of my messes.

This was a con I never weighed before accepting a job at the same place where I went to college. Every day I battle the ghosts of my late teens and early twenties, which is the last challenge I expected to have with this new job. From the gazebo that bears my initials, to the love triangles drawn within the walls of the student union, around every corner, in mostly all the buildings built prior to 2000, there is a memory that causes my heart to sink. Luckily, it’s just me and the walls that remember. And really, more so the walls. I hardly remember what I say when I’m saying it, let alone the mischeif that is at least a decade old, but boy did those walls keep accurate records. Every time I see one, they narrate stories of my past, like the one of the duck that got into my Alka Seltzer.

And that’s just one campus.

What will happen when I visit the other campus where I took my journalism classes and got into much more than just Alka Seltzer? Those walls will undoubtedly scream, “Quitter,” among other adjectives. It was during this time that I was earning a ridiculous sum of money, or so I thought, from the Miami Herald. I wasn’t even old enough to drink, but I didn’t need to, I was intoxicated with adulthood. I had press credentials around my neck and a vagina I finally figured out how to operate. School simply couldn’t compete. I had trouble making a one o’clock class, but no trouble starting my shift at 5am, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. The jobs that followed, a non-profit, another news station, another non-profit, flowed money to my bank account and filled my calendar with events and happy hours that flowed my money back out of credit cards with limits that I can no longer qualify for today. The little bit of cash I did have, I used to enroll in a class or two, but then, when work consumed my nights and weekends, I’d forget to officially drop them, plummeting my GPA to a number that should be my interest rate.

Among all the false F’s I accumulated, I did manage to attend and complete other courses with A’s. Two years after my originally scheduled graduation date, I had enough credits to earn a Bachelor of Arts in English.

I didn’t attend commencement. I felt I had nothing to be proud of. Plus, my parents and I were estranged at the time, and, most importantly, I had to work that day.

More than a dozen years have gone by and, although I’ve made some pretty bad mistakes, no other project or venture has been more of a scarlet letter than school. My transcripts read like a criminal record and the admissions committee of those programs I previously applied to probably saw me as a recidivist felon. But, now I’ve returned to the scene of the crime and, to add insult to injury, I’m surrounded by eminent figures in their respective academic fields that require large walls, similar to the one I climbed to get away from campus police, to fit all their degrees and accolades. Doctors and deans and chancellors and professors – and me. Now more than ever I need to undo the mess I made so long ago, so that the next time one of those walls tries to retell a shameful story, I could nail it with a well-earned degree.

Not a house coat.

Suburban dictionary

I love words. Well, some words.

I’m selective.

For instance, I don’t like the words “pretty” and “much.” Especially when they are put together: “I’m pretty much finished.” Ugh. Makes me want to bite the person in the inner thigh. “I pretty much bit you.”

On the other hand, I like the words “insatiable” and “actually.” Especially when they are put together, in any order. Mmm. Makes me want to bite the person in the inner thigh. In a good way.

But, the words I truly love are made-up ones. Particularly the words defined by Urban Dictionary.

Here’s a sampling of my favorites:

Asshat: One who has their head up their ass. Thus wearing their ass as a hat.

Brosama Bin Ladin: A best friend that you never see. He’s always hiding or just at home.

Cyberchondriac: Someone who spends their time searching medical websites for diseases they convince themselves they actually have.

Deja Brew: Much like deja vu, dejabrew is when you start to remember things you did last night while drinking an excessive amount of beer.

Electile Dysfunction: The inability to become aroused over any of the choices for President put forth by either party during an election year.

Fauxpology: When a person makes it sound like they are apologizing when, in fact, they are just shifting the blame or using twisted logic to argue their way out of responsibility for their actions.

Go Primitive: Instead of keyboarding or texting a long and detailed story someone suggests a phone call as a more direct way to have the conversation.

Hobosexual: Adjective. The opposite of metrosexual; one who cares little for one’s own appearance.

Immaculate Congestion: When traffic is backed up for miles on a highway, crawling along — and then suddenly everyone returns to normal high speeds without passing an accident, stalled car, or road construction.

Ju Ba Chee: A junior bacon cheeseburger from Wendy’s.

Killing Two Pigs with One Bird: A modern version of the popular saying “killing two birds with one stone.” derived from the popular video game “angry birds.”

LOL Theory: The theory that the internet phrase lol meaning “laugh out loud”, can be placed at any part in any sentence and make said sentence lose all credibilty and seriousness.

Masturdating: Going out alone.Seeing a movie by yourself, going to a restaurant alone.

Net Lag: A feeling like jetlag that happens after you use your computer after sunset and the bright backlight tricks your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

Onion Booty: Booty that looks so good, it makes grown man want to cry.

Postmodern Depression: The feeling you get when you haven’t had access to the internet for a long time, like several minutes.

Qi: A short word commonly used in Scrabble to piss of another person. More often than not, it plays off of an I that lays next to a triple letter score, scoring an absurd amount of points for such a small amount of effort.

Recrap: To sum up a discussion composed largely of useless bullshit.

Sexercism: Having sex with someone new to get over someone old. A way to cut any last emotional ties to a person you used to have sex with. A non-religious, therapeutic exercise.

Textpectation: The anticipation one feels when waiting for a response to a text message.

Underboob: Cleavage visible from the part of the shirt that covers the bottom of the female breasts.

Vegi-curious: One who is considering the vegetarian lifestyle, but has yet to make a committment to it.

Wikidemia: An academic work passed off as scholarly yet researched entirely on Wikipedia.

Yellular: The loudness one adopts in response to a bad cell-phone connection, in the misguided hope that talking louder will improve the connection.

ZZ Bottom: A noun describing a woman’s particularly long and beard-like pubic area.

Thank you UrbanDictionary, you make me fall in love with the English language with every click.