Warning: Whining and Navel Gazing Ahead

I missed a few days. I mean, if you follow my blog you’ll notice that there’s a few days missing.

I don’t know what happened. I just . . . I’m getting the hang of doing this writing will walking, and I just . . . . It’s been too hot to walk? I worked the early shift on Wednesday and had an appointment with my oral surgeon on Thursday morning. But, with time I’m hoping that this will get easier to do.

I have a theme song for my writing. I’ve sort of ritualized the Daft Punk song Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. I play it when I’m walking just before I start writing. Then I open my copy of Dragon Anywhere software and begin to dictate.

I feel a little short of breath today. I don’t know why. My breathing has mostly been good but today and yesterday I’ve been coughing more than usual, and right now I’m walking uphill. Most of my walks have been pretty level — in my store, at the Riverwalk, so I’m out of practice in walking uphill.

I watched a video about codependent relationships yesterday new channel I discovered called Mended Light which is a therapy channel. I mean, this channel is not a therapeutic relationship, but it’s information on therapy and what kinds of things you might need therapy for. It ends with an invitation to have a consultation with one of their therapists and, of course, if you need therapy they encourage to get it, even if it’s not with one of their therapists. Most of the videos end with Jonathan, the lead therapist saying, “We need your light,” and that’s really uplifting.

I’ve wondered if Thomas and my relationship was codependent, but based on what they say, I think it probably wasn’t, at least on my end. I actually came into this relationship from a very strong place in my life. At the time, my theme song was “The Future’s So Bright,” by Timbuk3. I’ve recently discovered that apparently the song is about nuclear annihilation, but, one in three songs in the 80s was about nuclear annihilation. For me, though, it represented my future as a foreign language translator, living in the city, maybe with a small dog and some adopted kids.

I’d dated a lot, and nearly all the guys I dated were bad news. Liars, cheats, abusers. One was really sweet and looked like a young John Travolta, but he . . . how do I put this? I had to explain a lot to him. He would be, “I’ve heard of this guy who . . .” and then describe someone legit famous like the existence of this guy was news to him. Another guy, every time I said I liked something, he’d tell me how it was bad or wrong. Eventually I gave up and broke up with him. He is apparently now a registered sex offender.

So I’d basically given up on dating. I figured that my best bet was to make my life the best it can be as a single person and if I find someone someday, then I find someone someday, but not to count on it.

So I was in this really strong place. I ended up in a long-distance relationship with Thomas, so I didn’t want to go out of the country for a semester because I barely saw him during the school year as it was. Nearly all of the people in my family who got degrees became teachers, so I figured that would be a good fit. It wasn’t, but I still got fantastic grades, got into the honor society, and would’ve graduated with honors if I’d stayed in school another semester.

I graduated, started on a career track that would’ve led me to becoming a paralegal with a large law firm in Chicago, and married Thomas. Everything was fantastic. Then we moved to Texas.

When we got to Texas, I went into the deepest depression I’d had since middle school. I’d always had a bit of acne, but the climate here made my skin just blossom with cystic acne, which led to massive acne scars.

Thomas had worked with people who’d lived here and they’d led us to believe that San Antonio was a party city. That there were street festivals and things all year. We got down here and there were, like, two festivals — Fiesta and the “Mud Festival,” when they drain and clean out the San Antonio River. I mean, there were more, but no one we had contact with ever told us about them. This was 1993, when you couldn’t just boot up your computer, connect to the Web, hit Google and type in “San Antonio Festivals.”

So my mental image of me getting a job as a paralegal and attending festivals in bodycon dresses was *poof* gone. I did get the paralegal job eventually, though it was in corporate rather than litigation practice, but the festivals didn’t really materialize. And the ones that did, it seemed that it was just “get liquored up.” Woo.

Remember that my experience of drinking is that we don’t do it to have a good time, we do it to mask our misery. Yay.

I’m having trouble remembering what we did on the weekends back then. There weren’t even any parks to speak of. Men’s Fitness magazine, I think, actually ranked San Antonio really low for existence of parks. We visited Friedrich Wilderness Park a lot, but not much else. Well, we joined the zoo and the botanical garden, but didn’t spend a tremendous amount of time there, that I recall.

Even the environment I lived in was depressing. I went from our apartment to a parking lot, to a street, to a different parking lot, to a street, to a parking lot and back to our apartment. What’s not depressing about that?

Where am I? Geographically speaking?

As I’m talking, I’m walking up and down the streets of my neighborhood. I need more steps than usual today, so I’m literally walking up and down the same street, rather than up one and down the other. This is including around the cul-de-sacs and things, so I’ll get more steps that way. I can’t remember if I’m going down or coming back up this street right now. I guess when I get to the end of the street, I’ll know.*

Back to my subject. I was feeling really good about myself and my future and things when I got into the relationship with Thomas. I was in a strong place, feeling pretty self-sufficient, and it wasn’t until the downward slide in Texas, that well, things went downhill.

Well this is a long way of saying that if I had that confidence and feeling that I could be self-sufficient from 1987 to 1992, then that ability is in there somewhere. It’s time to try to get it back. I’m planning to stay in San Antonio another 10 years. Once I’m 65, I can research which schools in which states have which discounts for students over 65 and make decisions then about where I’m going to move to for school.

Again, my plan is to work on my language skills to the point where I don’t actually need the schooling, I just need to get the grades and the piece of paper. Maybe the translation skills training, too, unless I can find it somewhere else by then.

For example, on the beginning of my walk tonight I spent 22 minutes listening to El Ladón del Rayo, the Spanish translation of Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief (Germane Amazon Link!). I had to slow it down a bit because the translation is in Castilian, and I speak Mexican Spanish. But that’s a good thing. Getting that degree, if I choose Spanish as my specialization, will probably require me to know Castilian, at least to have a passing familiarity with it, and that’s what I’m getting here.

*I was going back up the street.

It’s Friday!

I’ve been subscribing to Amazon Prime for video because most of the things I’ve wanted to watch are on there. For example, The Wheel of Time, which I’ve written about here. Also, though, there was Undone and Hunters, which looked very interesting as well.

I think I started with Hunters and then watched Undone. To get my money’s worth, though, I’ve been looking for other things to watch. I’ve watched a few major movies, like Knives Out, some foreign films like The Great Hypnotist (a Chinese movie, and I loved it), and some foreign television series like You Are Wanted, which is from Germany.

Right now, though, my obsession is El Internado: Las Cumbres, which is from Spain and concerns students in a “boarding school” which has dark secrets (also, this season, dark lighting*, which is frustrating to me).

I don’t want to binge things. I know I can watch them again, but I like to savor my television shows. So, to that end, I’ve been watching El Internado one episode per Friday night. And it’s Friday night, so “Yay!”

Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link will be Streetlights Like Fireworks, by David Pandolfe. Streetlights like Fireworks is a series about family, found and otherwise, teen runaways, and psychic powers. Such a good series. I was very disappointed that he ended with four books. Mr. Pandolfe, if you ever read this, please bring us back to Jack and Lauren’s story!

*They tell me that Netflix has a way to compensate for dark scenes like these, but Amazon Prime doesn’t. Get with the program Amazon Prime!

More Language Updatey Stuff

November 30, 2020 3 of definitely-not-going-to-be-8

So. It’s November 30, which means that tomorrow I change languages to Italian for December and January. I suspect this will go more easily than October and November did, simply because I have an easier time reading very, very small Latin script than very, very small traditional Chinese characters.

Italian is great. I love Italian. I love Italy. I’m going to do Italian for Duolingo and my games and go back to ChinesPod in the car (because I always work on Chinese in one way or another). This dovetails nicely with my current cookbook, which is Italian, and the next cookbook, which is also Italian.

It’s the language I’m going to do in February and March that’s causing me some consternation. I don’t want to go right from Italian to Spanish, so I’m looking for a language for between them. When I looked for a low-corruption country to maybe consider specializing in, I ended up mostly in Northern Europe. Okay, I thought. Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Swedish. I can work with those.

Only apparently I can’t. It’s my phone. I can set my phone on each of those languages, only at this point, Android is only slightly compatible with them. I set my phone on Danish, with Spanish secondary and my phone ended up being this kind of disturbing combination of the two languages. The same thing happened with the other languages.

So. I guess that’s not going to help me decide.

Maybe I can do a non-European language next, though. and leave the Northern European languages for later. I think I have a pretty convincing case for Vietnamese in February and March. I wonder what apps will come out in Vietnamese if I put that first on my phone?

Ooh! Android likes Vietnamese! Let’s try my other apps. I know that neither Wizards Unite nor Design Home are available in Vietnamese. No on Pokémon Go. Not Candy Crush, either. Also Kindle. Well, Samsung Health is available in Vietnamese. Babbel’s a no, too. Duolingo has Vietnamese for English speakers.

That may end up being what I do.

For our Gratuitous Amazon Link, I’m doing yet another Discworld book, this time a Witches one: Lords and Ladies, by Terry Pratchett.

More Clues in the Mystery of What Language I’m Going to Specialize In

November 25, 2020 1 of 8

With “clues” and “mystery” in the title, I think I may have done too many Nancy Drew books for my Gratuitous Amazon Links. However, for good or ill, we’ve still got dozens of Nancy Drew books to go.

I’m thinking that the language I’m going to focus on for my modern languages degree is less likely to be Vietnamese than Czech. I did the Pimsleur conversational Czech and now I’m doing Pimsleur Vietnamese I. Czech came to me much more easily than Vietnamese, despite my having less exposure to the language prior to starting.

Of course, Vietnamese is a much harder language for an English speaker to learn. Looking at the Defense Language Institute site, my guess is that Czech is a Level III language and Vietnamese is Level IV.

The Pimsleur course says that if you are getting about 80% of the questions right, you’re ready to move on, and I am taking a *very* generous interpretation of “80%.” I’m still bumping up against that problem where the pause to figure out and say the sentence is too short and so I’m pretty sure that I would’ve come up with the right sentence in 80% of the cases. I really should be doing each lesson *three* times, but . . . .

I was only going to see what was left of my Rosetta Stone Vietnamese really quickly before the end of the month, when the language for my apps will change to Italian and I’ll go back to ChinesePod in the car, but this is so frustrating that I’m not sure whether to give up or to try to figure out how to fit the Vietnamese in around the Italian and Chinese.

Back when I was playing Pokemon Go harder than I am now, I spent more than 45 minutes a day in my car driving to gyms and raids. I could easily fit a daily Pimsleur lesson and at least one ChinesePod lesson in in that time, but now I’m in the car for a Pimsleur lesson and about five minutes of Spanish radio. That extra five minutes isn’t long enough for even one ChinesePod lesson.

If only I’d thought of Vietnamese back at the beginning of October. I could’ve done each lesson three times and still knocked out 20 of them.

I know I could do my Pimsleur, like, in my bedroom or something, but I’d find it awkward to sit there speaking very bad Vietnamese by myself in my room. If I could count on my cat to sit there and let me practice on him for half an hour a day, it might be doable.

And Vietnamese would be so useful for me right now. I have a bunch of Vietnamese patients and their grasp of English is okay, but it would be nice if I could meet them in the middle a little.

Oh, well. It’s 5:30 am and there’s not much Vietnamese I can do right now anyhow. I’ll sleep on it and see what I can come up with.

Our Gratuitous Amazon Link today is. I don’t even know. My Goodreads page was set on trying to find books that I’m reading right now so that I can add them to my currently reading page. Give my computer just a minute to catch up to us. Okay. Our Gratuitous Amazon Link for today is The Mystery at Lilac Inn, by Carolyn Keene.

A Relatively Frustrating Pimsleur Day

November 21, 2020 1 of 8

Evelyn and I met up for Pokemon Go Community Day and on my way home, I finished my second Pimsleur Vietnamese lesson. First, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to need to do each Pimsleur lesson twice. When I look at written Vietnamese, I can understand it, but the native speakers on this recording don’t sound anything like the speakers in the Rosetta Stone, so I don’t know what they’re saying at all.

Also, on the way home, I didn’t get any red lights, and the parking lots on the way home were pretty small and it would’ve been frustrating to try to turn around in them and so I had Ray Brown and two Vietnamese people talking to no one in particular for probably about 15 minutes. I finally ended up putting the radio on and throwing my podcast phone into the back seat.

Now, this isn’t my normal in-the-car language approach. I usually listen to my language podcasts through my bluetooth speaker, which I can then turn off while I’m driving because it just requires me to push a button that I can find without looking at it. Trying to pause something on my phone screen, however, requires an actual complete stop.

My bluetooth speaker doesn’t work with Pimsleur, which is a real source of frustration for me not just for the “I can’t stop my podcast by touch” factor. It’s also annoying because my bluetooth speaker is much easier to hear and when I try to use Pimsleur on it (and I’ve tried with three languages now — Lithuanian, German, and Czech), I miss syllables. Like “thank you” in Czech might come out as “ději” instead of “děkuji.” So frustrating.

And it’s not the speaker. I can listen to Chinesepod lessons on it and also to Audible books. It’s just Pimsleur. Speaking of which, I’d better start downloading Chinesepod lessons again.

Well, for better or worse, November only has nine days left and I go back to Chinesepod in the car on December 1. I doubt I’ll be able to make much progress on Vietnamese in that time, particularly doing one lesson every two days, but every minute I spend will be a minute towards being able to use this language.

Our Gratuitous Amazon Link for this post is the third Discworld book. Today I bring you Equal Rites, by Terry Pratchett.

Mluvím Trochu Česky

November 19, 2020 3 of 8

I’m spending entirely too much time trying to get a capital “č” for that title.

Okay. I finally just found a page with it and cut-and-pasted it.

Today I finished Pimsleur Conversational Czech. I’ve been doing Duolingo Czech for a couple of months now and am getting somewhere, but I wanted to come at it from a different angle. I have most of it nailed, except for the part about “what do you want to do?” I don’t even know.

The program seems to be geared towards businesspeople. Well, technically, business*men* on work trips to Czechia. We learn a word for “to have lunch,” but not “to have breakfast” or “to have dinner,” which is odd. I guess they don’t have breakfast or dinner meetings in Czechia?

As for why I emphasized “men” in the previous paragraph, well, like when you’re supposed to say that you want something, like something to eat or drink, they want you to say “chtěl bych,” but that’s what a man would say, for a woman, it’s “chtěla bych.” So frustrating.

Also frustrating is that there’s not a lot of time to say the sentence if it’s particularly long or complicated. I found myself skipping the “Wenceslaus” part of Wenceslaus Square and just saying the “square” part for the first two lessons after it was introduced. Now I can say “Václavské náměstí” like it’s no big thing.

I’m still working on Duolingo Czech and will be working on it until the end of November (when I switch to Duolingo Italian). And then I’ll be back to Czech in June of 2021? August of 2021? Something like that. Maybe I’ll save up for the full Czech 1 course for next year instead of just the conversational part. I will still be “Ano. Ráda”-ing instead of “Ano. Rád,” because, still a woman.

And for the last 10 days of November, I’m going to be tackling Pimsleur Vietnamese in the car. I did Rosetta Stone Vietnamese a couple of years ago and wanted to do two months of Vietnamese in December and January, but none of my games come in Vietnamese. Even if I set my phone to Vietnamese, the games that change their language according to phone settings revert to English (or at least they did the last time I checked, which was . . . a month ago?). So I’m going to squeeze in 10 days of Vietnamese at the end of my Chinese/Czech months, for this year, at least.

And our Gratuitous Amazon Link (I wish I had some good language books to recommend so that this would be less gratuitous. Alas, I don’t), we have All Fall Down, the first of the Embassy Row novels by Ally Carter.

So I’ve Hit Four Years of Language Study

November 16, 2020

I missed my 30-day streak on NaNoWriMo. I was pooped when I came home last night, so I went to take a nap for a couple of hours and woke up right at midnight.

I passed the four year mark on my language study yesterday and I have $2,700 in principal saved up. Assuming that life will have me bopping back and forth between the lowest amount I’ve averaged ($0.48) and the highest ($2.04) for the next 20 years, Then I’ll have $13,500, which is good enough to be going on with.

Though, currently, as I go I’m getting more studying and work done every day. When I first started, my average deposit was only $0.48. Now it’s $2.04. If the average keeps going up, maybe I’ll even finish early.

Of course, this is all in aid of paying for me to get a master’s degree in modern languages so that if I ever become too ill to have a physical job, I can still work to keep the money coming in (and for fun, and also maybe as a side hustle while working my day job).

And there are other ways to pay for schooling besides handing the school cash and saying “Here you go.” If I don’t start this until past 65, then I might be able to get some of my classes tuition-free. Then there are fellowships, which are like scholarships, except that it seems that there’s some kind of work component. My impression is that it’s like if scholarships and work-study programs had a baby and that baby went to grad school.

So I guess I need to start researching how to get a fellowship and figure out how to prove my dedication to an as-yet-undecided-upon language.

Also, I don’t know if I’ve come right out and said this, but I definitely need to go to a public college or university for this. $16,000 is the adjusted-for-inflation cost of my MSIS from when I got it in 2009 until 2016 when I started this program. I figured that most of the increase in tuition and fees from then until 2031/2036 will be taken care of by interest on investing that money. I hope.

Our Gratuitous Amazon Link this time is Steelheart, Book One of the Reckoners trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. I really enjoyed this, though I do disagree with how readily Chicagoans would agree to refer to the city as “Newcago.” I grew up there. If you search for “Marshall Field’s,” the site FieldsFansChicago, which advocates changing the name of the State Street store back from Macy’s to Fields, shows up on the first page of results. There’s a meme that shows 233 S. Wacker with text saying “Spelled W-I-L-L-I-S. Pronounced ‘Sears.'”
So, yeah. I don’t see “Newcago” happening.

New Thoughts on Language Studies

November 13, 2020 1 of 8

I still haven’t decided on what language I’m going to focus on for my eventual degree. And I have lots of time to choose; I’m not going to start the degree until about 11 years from now, at the earliest.

But the thought occurs that I would like to do lots of travel (and, ideally, I’d need to study there for a semester for the degree) in a country that speaks my target language.

As we all know, Spanish is my path of least resistance. I have two years of college-level Spanish already and I speak it nearly daily in my job.

And, as a woman who would likely be traveling alone, I probably want to avoid countries where I’d be shaken down for bribes. So I’m looking at the Transparency International map for 2019 and the yellowest (the ones with the lowest corruption indices) countries on the map are Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, New Zealand, Singapore, and Luxembourg.

I already speak German, so there’s that.

So I guess I need to add Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, and Dutch to my language rotation somehow.

If I’m willing to go as orange as the United States, that opens up a bunch more, including France, Spain, and Portugal. Also, Ireland, Japan, Estonia, Hong Kong, the UAE, and Uruguay.

So I could stick with Spanish and plan for Uruguay. Also, Irish, Japanese, Cantonese, or Estonian.

I think I’d be biting off more than I can chew with Japanese or Cantonese, frankly.

So I guess I’m trying the languages of Scandinavia next. I have a friend who is learning Swedish, so at least I could maybe have a language partner there.

I have also decided that it’s too much work keeping up on my newest books read for my Gratuitous Amazon Links this month. So I’m going for my oldest read dates on my Goodreads account. And my current oldest read date is . . . . July 13, 2016? Don’t ask me. I guess that must’ve been when I started my Goodreads account. So I bring you: The Trials of Apollo, Book One: The Hidden Oracle, by Rick Riordan.

Lanuage Learning Progress

November 9, 2020 4 of 8

I made so much language progress yesterday while I was driving. I listened to my Pimsleur lesson (which I haven’t done yet today, btw), then I did five ChinesePod lessons (which I need to get back to downloading from the site — I was in the middle of the advanced lessons when I quit, IIRC (yes, I have a bunch ofover 400 advanced lessons to download, but it’s not a totally insurmountable goal)).

Then I listened to El Ladrón del Rayo for another few hours and once I was close enough to San Antonio to get 104.5, I went back to Spanish-language radio.

So that’s three languages (Czech, Chinese, and Spanish), and, with my foreign-language game playing, amounted to more than $5 saved towards my master’s in modern languages. I’m still not sure what language I’m going to learn.

This last $5 put me over the top to buy another CD (the investment kind, not the music kind). This will make it 14 CDs and 5 shares of stock. I’m trying to amass $16,000 in principal for this degree. I’ll get there someday.

Today I haven’t done nearly as much. 20 minutes of radio in the car, one Duolingo lesson. My foreign language game money. I paid myself before I did my Duolingo and Babbel lessons yesterday, so I do have that money coming today, as well.

Now if only I could remember how to open a new CD at my bank . . . .

Gratuitous Amazon Link time! Today’s book is Educated by Tara Westover. This is the story of how Westover, a homeschooled daughter of doomsday preppers, educated herself. She now holds a PhD in history from Cambridge University.

ETA: I once stumbled across another way to open that CD, but I couldn’t figure out how I got there. I finally just broke down and did it the old-fashioned way.