God, I can’t speak this language

Posted at Dec 8, 2009 5:42 pm

Really, I can’t. It seems like every time I get even a little comfortable, a touch complacent, some new issue comes along and completely wrecks my confidence. I just got done trying to explain intussusception to two rather confused parents. Dammit, that’s hard enough in English but trying to explain telescoping intestines in Hebrew turned out to be completely impossible. (For me.) The problem was that I got flustered half-way through and forgot everything I’d ever learned about conjugating verbs, noun genders or normal human expression. So I resorted to hand gestures for a while, until I realized that miming a collapsing bowel with a fist and hand-shaped "O" looked rather—umm— embarrassing. I eventually got my meaning across and breathed a sigh of relief when they finally left (with a referral to the ER where the resident will clear up anything I may have screwed up.)

After they were gone I spent half an hour composing a speech about intussusception in Hebrew. I dare the next Israeli to walk in here with acute abdominal pain. Come on. Just try me. I’ll blow your ears off. I almost want to call those parents back and cry "Wait—Come back! I can explain it better now!"
Except that would be beyond stupid.
You know what else is embarrassing? Typing a letter in Hebrew in front of a patient. In English I type almost as fast as I read. In Hebrew I look like a five year old picking out letters with her index finger. And my spelling—-! This morning it was hard to ignore the bemused expression on a patient’s face when I typed out the Hebrew equivalent of "Doctor’s permission. Permissible to participate at work."
That took me, like, ten minutes. Mostly because I was choosing words I thought I knew how to spell. Except— judging by his smile– I probably really didn’t.

Movie recommendation: I watched "Brothers" (with Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhal and Tobey McGuire) in the theatre last week and really loved it. The acting was fantastic (even from Tobey McGuire! Surprise, surprise. He does have more than one expression after all!) I had watched the previews and was expecting a steamy love-triangle film. It was nothing like that, actually. The plot was realistic, the conversations natural, the ending quiet.
I especially loved the cinematography. It takes a very intelligent and talented director to resist the urge to glamorize his attractive actresses and actors. Natalie Portman is probably one of Hollywood’s most beautiful women and Jake Gyllenhal is a very handsome man. But in this film they both looked like normal people. No one wore surprisingly revealing clothes, no one was overly made-up, no one puckered their lips suggestively while the camera made love to their faces.
I really appreciated it.
Final movie recommendation: “The Brothers Bloom,” if you are looking for a weird, dark comedy. It was like a Coen brothers’ film on PCP.
It dragged a little at the end (but I watched it at one in the morning so maybe I had less patience than usual) but I laughed my head off through most of it.

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