Have you ever seen someone at the door of your office and thought: “O-oh”?

Year-end at work is not for the meek or the weak.  Before the books close and we all say goodbye to the old year and ring in the new, things need to get done.  December weeks are tough.  High-Intensity Mondays turn into High-Intensity Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  No one seems to have patience for nonsense–at least, I don’t.  I know what’s waiting on my desk before I even get there.

I’m plowing through the work today–I mean, I’m movin’, I’m shakin’, I’m getting things done.  I’m on fire.  The morning flies by–I go out and grab some lunch (a slice of eggplant pizza…it’s been a long, long time since I’ve had one of those…so yummy).  I devour the thing.  It’s a good thing I have an office.  Behind closed doors, no-one can see me woofing down my $4.00 slice.  Once that’s over with and I have enough fuel to keep me going, it’s back to work.  The afternoon would be a toughy.  I was still working on a foreign language piece that needed to get out today–but in the end, didn’t. (Circumstances beyond my control.)  Of course, it would be a foreign language that I don’t speak or read, which makes it extra special.  Then, of course, I’d be pulling in mailing lists–an absolute time-drain and one of my least favorite things to do–not to mention making sure everything in the Hieroglyphics-looking text from the original matched the secondary version.  It was all making my head hurt.  Separately and unrelated, I also had to create a holiday piece.  Deadline, of course, today, which would require me to run out of the office later to play photographer on the streets of New York City in the midst of the tourist chaos.

So, I’m stressing…just a little.  I sense a presence, and I look up.  There’s a person at my office door, and not just any person, The Person.  O-oh.

This is one of the last people I need to see to today because on top of a mailing list being an absolute time-drain, this person will suck the tick-tock out of any clock.  Before I could even cross my legs, close my eyes, whip my head back and forth and Genie my way out of the office, The Person took a seat in my visitor’s chair.  (I find it ironic at this point that the last visitor I want to see is now sitting, legs crossed as if they plan on staying for a while–Oh God–in my “visitor’s chair”.)

“This will only take a minute,” are the words I hear.  “I know people always come to you at the last minute for things, and I try not to be one of those people.”

Twenty-minutes later with about 1,000 “ahs” later to rival a pilot reporting from a flight deck, the visitor leaves me with something I need to handle now.  Sometimes I wish I had a bouncer at my office door.  Someone about 6′ 5″ – 7′, big and burly, dressed in all black wearing dark Aviators ready to keep “visitors” out.  The “this would only take a minute” turned into a total of 45 minutes.  Not bad, but not what I was counting on when I still had to go running around the streets of New York City in the early darkness snapping “holiday” photos, and return to the office!

What’s with people and, “This will only take a minute,” when they clearly know that I know that it won’t?



Something must be wrong with me. Why, oh, why, after…let’s see…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6…oh, I’ve lost count at this point, of different attempts with private and small group tutoring, am I STILL struggling to be fluent in Spanish??? I’ve done Berlitz, like way back in the early ’90s when cassette tapes were all the rage (am I aging myself). I went to Instituto Cervantes.  The others escape me. The last bit of lessons were private with a friend of a friend who was patient and funny. But, that was a while ago at this point.

I’ve been to Spain several times. Okay, here’s the thing. If you live in the paella that is La Ciuidad de Nueva York (New York City), you have the flava (that’s “flavor” for all you non-urban folks) of Spanish Harlem and the Lower East Side. Between the Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, Cubans, Mexicans, etc., etc., etc., you’ll keep up with Spanish words, some more colorful that others, but the Spanish you hear in the Boogie Down Bronx is not the Spanish you hear in Spain. Nooooo. I always have to brush up on my Spanish before heading to España (Spain) or I wouldn’t be able to function.

Unconsciously, I guess because I really don’t want to lose what I have, several times a week I’ll flip through the television channels and land on Univision. Between the telenovelas (soap operas) — which if you don’t know is filled with melodrama, highly dolled up women, scheming men and women, spying, love affairs to make Elizabeth Taylor in her heyday blush, and of course, death (someone is always dying or someone is always plotting to send someone else into the White Light) — not to mention the scandalous talk shows, news programmes and beauty queen contests (it’s not just a Latin-thing, it’s really a Caribbean-Latin thing — we loooooove our beauty queen contests and bathing suit models), you can keep up with Spanish 60% of the time. The other 40% goes way over your head. The way they speak — I don’t know what it is — but especially the news programmes, they’re fitting 60 words in 60 seconds of coverage. I’m serious. If you don’t believe me, watch any time slot of Univision’s Noticias (News) or “Aqui y Ahora” (Here and Now). For some reason when I’m in Spain I do much better with conversations and television programmes.

So, do I just throw my hands in the air and give up? I mean, I’ve been at one point or another studying Spanish for over 30 years! I should be busting out the Español in stereo! There’s a reason for this road block…

Okay, you sofa psychologists, what do you think?