Tonight, I worked concessions for the volleyball game. It was very busy and chaotic–our lines were continuously long because our team did so well, we had a new worker, and our registers kept going off line….and I got like 3 new burns on my hands. However, I still enjoyed it. I love working concessions.
People always ask me why I study Welsh. What real world application does this cool, but strange, and almost useless language have? I mean, not event the Welsh speak Welsh all the time. They all know English.
Well, I’m a historian.
To me, it’s fun rediscovering an endangered language. When I went on the Welsh Study Abroad in Summer 2010, we visited Tintagel in Cornwall. We spoke to a few of the shop keepers, trying to see if they knew any Cornish, which is a closely related language to Welsh. They didn’t–Cornish has gone extinct. By learning the language, I am helping to preserve it from becoming another dead language.
Welsh is a gorgeous language. To the beginner and non-speaker, it sounds like guttural, Germanic elvish. Which, it pretty much is.
Welsh is a Celtic language. The Celts originated from the Rhineland, then migrated to the British Isles. There is a lot of “ch” (guttural hhkkkhhhh sounds–think Hanukkah), there is a weird LL sound (saying “th” and lah at the same time).
But, it is also “elvish.” Not only is it one of the numerous languages that Tolkein used to create his Middle Earth languages, but it is also an old language, the language of the druids, the language of the bards. Both of these were high revered social positions. They were the entertainers, the praisers, the heralds, the propagandizing politicians, the seers, the prophets.
The Welsh language, spoken correctly, and by natives, is a beautiful language. It is known for its poems. Ever since medieval times, there has been a national festival every year celebrating the culture and language of Wales. It is called the Eisteddfod. This is a major celebration, and I went to it in 2010. Poets from all over Wales come to compete in Welsh poetry–which is FAAAAAAAAAAAR too complicated to explain! (You thought English poetry was hard, try writing good, publishable Welsh poetry.) The highest honor is to be in the Gorsedd of the Bards–meaning you are as good as the Medieval bards.
I love to listen to Welsh singers–their songs are astoundingly beautiful. You might recognize this song:
I have this thing: when I learn a new word and like the sound of it, it becomes a “phase” for me to continually say it as often as I can. However, there are a few words that just stick with me for the rest of my life.
So, I promised to tell you the story of the toothpick and the toe in this blog.
One day, when I was a freshman and 14 years old, I was chasing my brother around the house. At the time, he was only 7, but we loved to chase and tickle and wrestle and sword/lightsabor fight each other. Around and around we went, from the kitchen to the dining room to the living room to the hallway back into the kitchen. I was catching up to him. Then, suddenly in the kitchen, I felt a prick on my toe–a sharp prick. I let out a short, “Ow!” I hobbled over to the stairs to sit, expecting to see a safety pin or a tack stuck in my sock (if it had stuck on).
Boy was I in for a surprise.
Staring straight back at me, through my fuzzy, green frog-eyed socks, was a toothpick. Ok. A toothpick was stuck through both the top and the bottom of my sock. It must have grazed my toes and was caught between them. I began to pull it out–but it wouldn’t budge. AND I felt a rough tugging.
The toothpick was IN my toe.
Mom rushed in, Dad behind her. I explained the situation to them, mom worried, dad hiding his expression.
“How did you get a toothpick stuck in your toe?”
“I don’t know dad, but it hurts, get it out!”
He sat down on the stairs beside me and tried to pull it out–that hurt. By this time, I was freaking out. I had read stories of people having nails and the such speared through their foot, with the pain, and the bleeding, and the infection, and the ER. I wondered if my toe was severely bleeding under my fuzzy green sock. I wondered if I had to go to the ER. I started to get light-headed and started crying.
“How did you get a toothpick through your toe?” my dad asked again. This time laughing. “I understand about a nail, but a toothpick?!? I mean, was it just standing straight up?” He laughed.
“It’s not funny!”
Dad couldn’t pull the toothpick out with the sock on, but since it was through my sock, he had to cut my favorite pair of socks off. And there it was. My second toe on my right foot with a toothpick through it completely.
“It doesn’t look to have penetrated bone,” Dad said, as if that made it any better.
Dad held onto my foot with one hand, and took the toothpick in his other hand. With a quick yank, it was out. No blood, no swelling, a tiny hole were it just was.
I was a little sore for the next few days, but just fine. There is no scar from it. But, it scarred me nonetheless. For months afterward, I watched the kitchen floor as I walked. Whenever we used toothpicks, I personally made sure all of them were escorted to the trash can.
But, to this day, I trump all.
Some have pierced their skin with a safety pin, pinning it on a layer of dead skin.
Some have stapled their belly, or their fingers.
Some may have even been stabbed by a small nail.
But, I have had a toothpick go all the way through my toe.
“A toothpick! How did you get a toothpick through your toe?????”