A friend of mine had me watch Singin' in the Rain
the other day, and while I didn't particularly enjoy it, the song the characters sing after they realize they've stayed up all night talking has been stuck in my head on and off ever since.Good mornin', good mornin'.. it's great to stay up late..
Anyways. I feel as if I have arisen from a long and sometimes terrifying dream. There were dragons, and zombies, cat-people and lizard people. Yes, I've been playing Skyrim pretty much non-stop in my free time since I caved and bought it sometime in January. The days became fuzzy and I'm not quite sure where or when I am yet, but I imagine I'll come around soon. I'm not finished with it and I intend to play more, but I do miss crafting and writing and seeing sunlight and my boyfriend.
Right now, though, I want to tell you about my Chinese class. Yes, Chinese. I'm taking a little two-week intro to the Chinese language, and I have to say that it is an absolute blast. I'm really enjoying learning about the culture and geography, but I can't decide if my level of fun is based entirely on the language, or is partially due to the novelty of learning a language other than Korean.
For reasons almost unrelated to the language, though, it's been an eye-opening experience. You'd think that being in the military would expose you to all sorts of people and viewpoints and really broaden your horizons, right? Not so much. With a few notable exceptions, most military folk can be categorized as neat, health-conscious-ish (if only because it makes PT less painful), patriotic-ish, and in general right-wing-ish. This is at least true during training, and I have to caveat this by saying that there may also be some bias towards the intel fields, as I still haven't and probably never will interact with military folk outside of my career field.
Either way, I'm meeting some really
new people in my class.
First is an older woman who I suspect may be either slightly illiterate (is illiteracy a spectrum or a binary thing?) or perhaps dyslexic. We've gone over pinyin (the Chinese romanization system) every day for a week now, repeating the sounds over and over again as we look at the letters that represent them, and she still can't get it. Even something as simply as "ne" being pronounced "nuh", she'll sometimes say "neh" or even "ha" for some reason I haven't fathomed yet. Possibly because she's remembering "ni hao" from earlier in the dialogue that we're reading, but still. I've even asked her if she's much of a reader and she says she used to be, but doesn't have much time for it now. She could be lying, I don't know. I just can't figure out how her brain works that she doesn't pick this stuff up. She doesn't seem unintelligent-- in English she gets along just fine, so I don't know.
Next is another older woman who wears cat sweatshirts to class every day. I look at her and think, "there but for the grace of a gym-rat boyfriend in college go I". She loves her cats way better than people, has given up meat and seafood because she doesn't like animals dying, but also hates vegetables, therefore ends up eating pizza almost every night. She scares me because that could have been me if I hadn't developed an intense aversion to stagnation and unhealthy living while in college. She also doesn't seem like she really wants to be there. She makes no attempt at speaking with tones, speaks very quietly when called on (not in a shy way, just in that tone of voice that implies no effort whatsoever), and in general seems more concerned with making sure we take all of our breaks on time than with learning anything.
The character that drives me nuts, though, is a guy who almost perfectly embodies the Sad Nerd
archetype. He's very outspoken about his opinions, asks odd and oddly-timed questions in class, blinks furiously when speaking, engages in obnoxious self-deprecation, and I hate to say it but he has this way of existing
that just makes me want to shake him and tell him to grow a backbone and stand up straight and stop being so goddamn sad. It's not even that he's particularly sad emotionally, it's just sad watching him. It's hard to say. He makes references no one gets or wants to admit to getting, and he's got that particularly aggressive conversation style that I've noticed a lot of "intel" type people having. I don't know if it's that I was raised in the South, and we're generally polite (until we're not) and willing to make conversational concessions. Things like conceding that a particular book or movie wasn't to one's taste, that perhaps there is a difference of opinion among the speakers, that sort of thing. This gent, and others like him, see conversation as a sort of competition (see also: nerds and penis measuring at D&D and other gatherings) where they're trying to score points on the other person. It makes talking to them exhausting and extricating oneself from the conversation difficult if not extremely painful.
I'm trying very hard not to be judgmental of the people in my class, especially where it comes to language skills, but it's more difficult than I like to admit. It's worse because I'm convinced that I'm not doing anything special but paying attention and maybe some pattern-matching. When the teacher tells me that "ao" makes the "ow" sound, I expect that it doesn't take but one or two repetitions for that to stick and I can't understand why it wouldn't. Especially when you know of such things as Mao Zedong, Laos, Daoism.. That sound pops up everywhere and there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to remember that when confronted with it twice in a ten minute span.
That turned into way more of a rant than I intended, but I suppose that's a side-effect of having a journal to write in. Shit bothers me, yo.