birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Maria Laura

Maria Laura introduces herself to Americans as “Maria” because sometimes Americans get thrown off by her two “first names” but mostly because she doesn't like how her name sounds with the Anglo pronunciation. She actually goes by the nickname Malala but I guess Americans get confused by that too, though not as much after Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

I met Maria Laura/Maria/Malala when I hung out in Buenos Aires for two months back in 2008. She was introduced to me as a Spanish teacher and in fact became MY Spanish teacher while I was in Argentina. I later learned that she is actually a Spanish-English translator/interpreter and that she dislikes teaching Spanish. She told me I was an exception, probably because we mostly just hung out. I only exasperated her once in awhile with technical linguistic questions that she didn’t have answers to. She tried to teach me some cuss words and offensive phrases that were commonly used but I could never remember those. I do remember quite a few of them had to do with the Spanish word for “fart.”

Malala is a beautiful, statuesque woman of Italian descent. She’s the kind of woman that turns heads when she walks into a room. Her mom never affirmed her outer beauty when she was growing up, though, so she doesn’t really know the kind of effect she has on people. I started going to tango lessons with her. I noticed that men liked to partner up with her.

Because of her profession, Malala has impeccable mastery over English. She will switch over to Spanish every so often when she has to express something with emotion but we mostly converse in English. Every so often, though, she’ll ask me questions about the nuances of words. For example, she recently asked me if a typical man would describe something that is “riquisimo” as “yummy.” I explained to her that, no, a typical man would probably say something was simply “delicious” rather than use the word “yummy,” even if the thing was very, very delicious.

Rembo Brite

Waste of Space