Pretty Even

She remembers the times
he rubbed it all in her face.
Car payment, shopping sprees,
fancy meals, his fancy place.

Every argument led to one direction,
“I’ve done so much for you;
I’m the answer to your equation.”

Repetitive words
he said so often times,
made her question decisions
she made in her prime times.

Guilt, insecurity, loneliness, and misery,
She raced against life,
trying to change destiny.

Maybe he was right;
maybe she owed him a hundred.
He picked her up, after all,
when her days were thundered.

Pounding her head
with the hammer’s claws
until the impact
cut loose the gauze.

Countless years with no elation
were indeed grounds for cancellation.

Pretty even, she thought,
it had been paid off.


©Marcia Capellán

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Getting to Know Sara

Since she was eight years old, Sara has never lived in any country for more than three consecutive years. It is constant moving for her and her ambassador parents. She studied at many international schools, from London to Australia, and she speaks five languages: Italian, French, African, English, and now Spanish. Sara just moved to Salamanca, and in a few minutes, we’ll get to know each other better over a welcome lunch our host-family has prepared. My palms are sweaty and my middle finger wrestles my index under the table, imploring the universe that this girl is likable. After all, we’ll be housemates.

Jose Maria, our host father, offers me a glass of wine. “I only open these on special occasions,” he smiles and pours me some. It’s a reserve wine; Ribera del Duero, I think. Now I have to drink this thing. Jose Maria has been extremely friendly and helpful since the day I arrived in their home. I’d feel bad not to drink his special wine… My eyes struggle to stay straight after the first few sips. I can’t stop laughing either and I don’t know why. Jose Maria is laughing, too, but he’s laughing at me. “Already?!” he says. And now everyone is laughing.

“You’re not used to drink at this time of the day, are you?” says Carmen, the host mother.

“This is my first glass of wine,” I say.

“Ever?!” Sara seems shocked.


“It’s okay,” says Jose Maria, still laughing. “Just sip it slowly.”

Spaniards don’t worry about too many things in life. Carmen says her kids have been drinking since the age of twelve. It’s not much different from some kids in the US, but admitting it is what makes them cooler parents. And, for the short bit I’ve known Carmen, I know she would have smacked her children across the face if she deemed wine-drinking at an earlier age to be wrong. But maybe she did, and doesn’t care now that her kids are in their thirties and turned out to be decent human beings.

I thought Jose Maria must know a thing or two about drinking, so that’s just what I do. I take it slow. The wine makes it easier for me to talk to Sara. If I look like a fool, she’s not giving me any signal. She sounds cultured, and wealthy, and concerned about women’s rights… I can’t keep up. Our lunch is over and now I just want to take a nap. I grab my plate and try to put it in the sink, but Carmen stops me. “No, no, no…you go take la siesta,” she slurs, cigarette in hand. She seems worse than me. I want to insist on doing it, but now the kitchen has turned into a ball of smoke and it really bothers me, so I just find my exit.

Sara walks over to her room first. Then I follow. Our rooms are across from each other, only divided by the shallow hallway. I really want to stop and keep talking to Sara, but I think this conversation will be better when I’m sober.

“I feel really funny and extremely lethargic,” I say, “I think I’m going to take a nap.”

“Yes, yes, you should,” says Sara, always smiling from ear to ear. “I’m going to the park at around six, you know, for a little exercise, if you want to join me when you wake up.”

This girl is something. But now I think she’s crazy. It’s 4:30 PM already; how does she expect me to be up in an hour? This would be my first nap since I came to Spain five days ago. I want to experience it. But, “I’ll try,” I say.

When I wake up, I’m completely disoriented. The blinds are down and it’s darker than inside a sinkhole in my room. The red digital numbers in my black alarm clock indicate that it’s past eight. Never again, I say to myself. A whole day, wasted. I then remember Sara. Oh, no… When I open my door, she’s in her room, her door open, and that signature smile on her face.

“Hey!” she waves full of energy, removing the headphones from her ears.

I’m a sleepwalker though. Rubbing my left eye with my left hand, I raise my right hand and wave back, a shy mortified smile on my face. “I guess I slept in, huh.” We both giggle.

“How are you feeling? I didn’t want to wake you.”

“Better,” I say. Then, I make my way to the bathroom and disappear for a short bit.

It is rather quiet in the house. Carmen and Jose Maria have definitely left for the paseo, as they do every evening. They’ll be home by nine something as we agreed we’ll eat dinner by ten. We don’t normally have dinner that late back in The States, but a late lunch calls for a later dinner.

When I come out of the bathroom, Sara is standing in the hallway. Her tall voluptuous shadow scares the crap out of me, so I jump.

“I thought you were in your room,” I say, my hand over my heart.

She apologizes for scaring me and tells me that she went to the kitchen for a drink of water and got distracted by Carmen’s paintings on her way back to her room. Then, with her ear-to-ear smile, Sara asks me,

“Hey, have you ever stolen anything?”


© Marcia Capellán

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Still, I Can’t Breathe

My feet up on a table, hands writing my life. Papers, sticky notes, cheap street art. All overlapping each other, hanging from a wall so plain and white. Receipts everywhere; months old, years old. What’s the point of holding on? Organizing them is futile, I long gave up. Paper towel wasted, not my doing. ‘Til Monday I’ll be buried in them, when the trash truck comes.the climb

Outdated tapes hiding years of better days, and people by whom I was betrayed. Standing there begging to be watched, yet another pile of shit I don’t give. A dried bamboo plant wonders why I let it died. But we’re all dying over here, maybe not as visibly as its leaves.

There’s no more room on the coffee table; my bags and other random objects have taken over. I used to be better at putting these away. It’s the end. Can’t find room, can’t find time, can’t find motivation, can’t find…life. It’s as simple as living, if only I remembered what it meant.

Computers with connection. Not one, not two, not three; they’re about six. The great escape is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Walls, they’re more than four. The ceilings are high. Functioning doors from July to July. Big windows welcoming the air. Not too far from the ground if running I should need. Still, I can’t breathe.

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White Matter

The town was completely white. Cars, trees, power lines…everything was covered in white. I climbed up the couch by the double window and slid the curtains to the side. Kneeling on the seat, I cross my hands on top of each other under my chin and watch the white matter fall from the sky. It doesn’t stop falling.

No different patterns, no colors, nothing but white when I look up and around. The brick houses in my neighborhood are untouched, except for their roofs. Up there, the white matter does stick. The roof on some of the houses have a very thick layer hanging on for dear life, while others only have some flakes scattered all over the edges.

A squeaky sound disrupts my absorption. I turn my head to the house next door to the left and see Mr. Claude, our neighbor, resurfacing from under his garage door with a shovel in hand. He walks about two feet from the garage to where the white matter is accumulated and he starts clearing the driveway. Mr. Claude is wearing a big black and blue coat and the hood almost covers his whole pale face. He doesn’t notice me staring out the window.

I watch in fascination as my neighbor cleans all the walkable spaces around his house, only to be hit by more and more of the same white bits. Mrs. Claude storms out of the house, running after Gregory — Mr. and Mrs. Claude’s only child. My new mom says he’s hyper than me and my two sisters combined. I thought maybe Gregory was in trouble and that’s why Mrs. Claude was chasing him, but she’s just being playful. They start playing with the white matter and now I’m really tempted to touch it.

“Do you want to go outside, Emma?” says a sweet soft voice. My mom is standing behind me in her pajamas, smiling and holding a cup of…I think tea. I nod enthusiastically at her question. “Okay, let’s go bundle up and wake your sisters!” I can hardly contain my excitement.

I’m bundled up and ready, waiting for Annabelle, my oldest sister, to put on her boots before running downstairs hand in hand. I watched Gregory play with the white matter earlier and, like him, I want to roll some of it into a ball. I finally go outside and step on it; finally, the white matter. I grab a handful. It’s flaky and fluffy and…cold! Just like the wind. My eyes are googling it with intense curiosity.

“It’s snow,” says my new mom, a smile on her face. Snow. Of course. It’s been seven months since I came to this country, but I’ve only seen this in one of the movies Annabelle plays for me a bunch of times a day. I really like Manny and Sid, and Annabelle says it keeps me busy while she studies. And, here it is, the same white matter in front of me. My other sister Liz comes out running and grabs my hand.

“Yay, snow day! Come on, Emma, let’s make a snow angel!”

Snow angel? I don’t know what it is, but my mom seems excited. She steps aside and takes her camera out of her pocket. I think it’s going to be a fun day.

© Marcia Capellán

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Why I Write a Spanish Word a Day

For over a year, I have been using my Twitter and Facebook platforms to publish a daily Spanish word or phrase with its English equivalent.

I don’t know exactly what audience it reaches, but some friends and strangers have acknowledged my daily post and it seems that they like it. I’m obviously happy to hear that a few people look forward to my posts because that was the goal.

The reason that I came up with this semi Spanish vocabulary list is because, as a translator, I am in frequent touch with the language and a lot of times I come across words that I myself don’t know or that I had forgotten. I love languages in general, but I really love my native language, Spanish, and I never want to not be able to speak it properly. So, I thought it would be nice to make note of some of those words as a reminder. Also, they might be very useful to other people.

Living in a country which official language is not Spanish — even though Spanish is huge in the US due to its Hispanic population— it is easy to lose the fluency if not used regularly.

By posting a Spanish vocabulary of random words, I am not only helping others learn a word a day, but I am also helping myself keep up with my own vocabulary. It’s a win-win.

In addition to learning, I decided to do this daily post to draw traffic to my website and my services. I am an independent Spanish translator and writer, and I think it is a good way for people to find me. As anyone who owns a website probably knows, traffic matters, especially when you’re indie and a no-name. 🙁 (No worries, hard work always pays off!)

How do I choose the Spanish word or Spanish expression of the day?

Most of the time, it is completely random. It could be based on works I am doing at the time, conversations, readings, or based on the occasion.

I may schedule the words in advance to be published at one o’clock in the afternoon every day or I may post it on the spot, the same day, it depends… But I hope more people continue to find it useful!

¡Gracias por leer, amigos!


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Wooden Scars

Lately, I find myself in one of those moods when anything may turn into a lovely art-piece. I’ve learned to look at the positive of not-so-positive moments, turning them into poetry or, in my head, a symphony.

I’ve learned to appreciate the smallest things. The other day, as I was cleaning, a scratch on the console table made me stop and think about what I was seeing. It was a thought of appreciation. I ran my fingers through the small crater and followed its shape. Beautiful, I thought, as I wiped away the dust.

Maybe it isn’t really beautiful and I’m being overly sentimental and dramatic (because I just moved and it brought back memories), or maybe there really is something heart-warming about the old furniture that have spent so many birthdays with us.

Things, just like someones, also have a lifespan. Our scars — physical or emotional — remind us of the pain we’ve endured; scratches on furniture are also scars, wooden scars, and they remind us of paths we’ve traveled and steps we’ve given, sometimes literally. How I banged my toe on the claws-like feet of the same table, for example. Or how loose the screws on the coffee table are from moving it so many times from place to place. They’re memories worth keeping.

The old me would have wanted that table out, in the garbage, ready for a brand new piece because that’s what most people do. But today, I think I want it in. I think, from now on, it is not old until it’s old. Like, completely useless.

I never thought I’d look at a scratch on a piece of furniture as something precious, but time and life change us. These simple little things, which I never before cared for, for some reason now mean everything.

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Midnight and Pie

It’s been one of those days when the fork can’t seem to find its way away from the mouth. Self-control, you ask? None. Not today.

Pretty sure that’s how obesity happens, but it has got to be normal to indulge like this every once in a while.

My case today, when I finally thought I was done eating for the day — teeth brushed and flossed — I walked by a piece of pie. Gotta have it, I said, right before bed.

The sippy cup is my water, but I had it with some nice warm (wrong-purpose) tea called Gypsy Cold Care. Tea was served, day was made, happy day.

Moral of the story: allow yourself to enjoy the little pleasures of life every now and then!

Good night.

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Time Doesn’t Slow Down

I saw a clock turn time today;
it was quick and sharp.
From seven to eight
the colon blinked once.

A rarity it is
to catch the clock doing time
Because, even though it’s its job,
it is too fast for the eye.

Perhaps that’s my fascination,
we never see eye to eye;
me being the late-runner I am,
time doesn’t think that I try

To move at the pace it requires to
make it to dinner by nine.

So today looking at it for once,
actually, so many times,
I smirked, stared and wondered;
so this is how time goes by.



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