A Love Letter to NYULMC Freelancers & Staff

It’s time to attempt to help each of you to understand the floating globs of magic that you have each been during this chapter of my life. Together you add up to one huge magic show that’s worth being alive for.

patio shadowOn a professional level, practicing within this department has been an experience that I never thought possible.  Schedules are so well-organized, dispatching so seamless, communication so thorough and warm, hospital staff so respectful and aware, department leadership so positive and accessible, and you–my colleagues–so professional, motivated, open and seeking.This might as well be an ingredient list to running a highly fruitful interpretation department. To miss being at work while away on vacation is an all-together new sensation.

The opportunity to work as a freelancer, the gift of being able to technically choose day after day whether to work or not, and then observing myself choose yes and yes and yes over and over again has been enormously satisfying, motivating and freeing. This system reflects my values. It’s the philosophy I like to apply to everything from flossing to marriage.

Beyond the accolades with which I would most certainly decorate the department, Laura the person has fallen in love with each one of you. I would bail you each out of jail, or donate a kidney to you, or travel with you to far away places (particularly if you have a useful language in your combination for zee destination).  Your belief in me, your trust of me, has solidified the notion that I might be, at a minimum, a pretty decent person and possibly even a good interpreter. You are responsible for inspiring me to get my master’s degree in Conference Interpreting. You have each accompanied me into the understanding that this specific realm of communication work known as interpretation is what I’d like to spend the rest of my life fiddling around with.

Whether you meant to love me so much or not I cannot know. In any case, that is certainly how I feel and I am grateful.

Out of the Trenches

Recently I was interpreting for a coffee cupping course.  During lunch, the following conversation occurred between me and one of the students who I had really come to enjoy.

Him: So, how long have you been speaking Spanish?

Me: Oh gosh, like ten years.

Him: WOW!

Me: But what? You think that my level should be better for having done this for ten years?

Him: [Plainly, uncharged] I just think that you should be more fluent. 

Me: [Change of subject.]

Moral: You win some you lose some.

banana boquet

Later I thanked this young man. Our conversation had pulled that infamous ego right out, bringing her into plain view. Guerilla warfare with one’s self is quite exhausting. My vision now clear, my foe in sight, I could take a rest from my post. She and I then sat next to each other for a bit, our animosity turning to the indifference of an upper east sider and a crown heightser on the A-train.

Maybe one of these days, just like in the famous WWII tale, we’ll lay down our arms all together and play a bittersweet game of fútbol together if only for a few hours.

Out of Lima

On the way to the airport, suddenly I feel the presence of the Spanish, not just the Spanish but every conquerer, all of us conquerers, the conquerer as a force that survives in it’s heavy buildings and crumbling ledges. The taxi driver asks if we’ve been through this part of Lima before. I interpret keeping the notes of sadness I perceive in his voice to myself, not sure if they’re mine or his. The driver continues to skim the depth of this place us: a comment regarding bygone indigenous building methods, current poverty in the area, and mass graves near the cathedrals, a meter wide where bodies where thrown in during the war.


Through the window I see Indigenous everywhere. Faces that say: we fought, we tried and now this is what is. Crowded buses, loud trucks, society. My academic brain kicks on. The indigenous resistance must have been valiant. I try to recall the names of the great caciques. I can’t. The radio continues it’s steady parade of oldies in English indifferent to time, mood and geography. I return my gaze to the faces.

This is the place I love. I am not this place but I love it. A self-awareness of sadness manifests. I am sad. No, I just haven’t had any coffee I decide. And then I realize, we all drink to forget.