Thursday, May 29, 2008

lots of little things

I don't know about you but it's the little things I remember, I forget names & dates & locations, but little details stick with me.

One of the things I remember most vividly from college is the door to the University Center. We were always going to the UC - to get mail, use the photocopier etc etc. The doors were heavy, ... and when it was raining or windy it was worse. Now I'm no wimp - I took weight training - but the doors were just big, heavy, and awkward – the kind of doors that want to slam back on you before you’re half way through. I remember walking to the UC, swinging open the big heavy door... then my friend - just a step behind me - reaching up and catching the door and opening it the rest of the way. You know, I can remember the feel of the door's weight releasing from my hand and then walking through the door knowing it wasn't going to whack me in the backpack as I went through. And I think how nice that nice that would be now. I can open the door myself, it would just be nice to have someone there to hold it open as I schlep all my stuff through.

I'm still working... well, "working". I still have to get up get dressed and sit at my computer all day. All of my duties have been reassigned, I'm just working on cleaning out files and answering questions as they come up. While far less stressful than normal, it's boring as all get-out. The other morning my boss was joking "Oh it's your last week - how can we twist your arm and make you stay?" but then kinda back pedaled when she realized I didn't think it wasn't very funny.

At home I'm working on CELTA application #3. The error correction sections are really hard for me. I know instinctively that "My cousin said me that." is wrong and "My cousin told me that." is correct, but it's really hard for me to articulate *why*. And I *still* can't figure out how to explain the difference between "slim" and "thin". Every time I think of a way to differentiate them, I think of exceptions. The "how would you teach this" section is a little easier though. Having spent a bit of time in language classes (both good and bad) I'm familiar with a few different techniques to use. I find it surprising, but reassuring, that I'm able to generate a lot of ideas on how to teach different things. I know I don't know all the techniques, and I know there's a big difference between jotting down an idea on paper, and enacting it in the classroom... but I feel like this is something I could actually learn. Whereas with the grammar questions, I don't even have the vocabulary to explain what I mean. I'm wishing more of my teachers had covered grammar. Miss Crawford made an effort Sophomore year... but it was too little too late. Clearly I have some catch-up work to do.

I've also been reading up on Thai culture, both online and in a couple of books. My sister belongs to an online book-swap and was able to get me a copy of the now out of print book "Culture Shock! Thailand" which comes highly recommended. Unfortunately the version I have is from 1982 (the most recent update was in 2003 or 2005 I think). Since I actually remember being alive in 1982 it doesn't seem that long ago, but it really really was. I can't get over the highly sexist nature of the book. And I'm not talking about how women are expected to behave in Thialand (I assume at least some of this has changed), but the way the author gives general advice and then gives asides for the appropriate behavior of "your wife." Um.... yeah... I guess women didn't travel without their husbands back in the early 80s. Anyway I'm taking the entire book with a grain of salt... and I have a much more recent copy of "Culture Smart Thailand" for perspective, and little guide book for more specific information about transportation, prices, and things to see. At the moment though, my reading stack is a bit overwhelming.

This whole thing is overwhelming in fact...all the little things add up- getting a visa, shots, copies of my transcript, what to do with my stuff, what to do with Sally, how much money I'm going to need, actually getting accepted into a program, learning some of the language, etc. etc. etc.

I haven't been crafting much... mostly because I haven't been especially inspired. I'm pretty deep in left-brain land right now. I've got a new pair of socks on the needles, but aside from the fact that I'm doing them toe up, they're going to be identical to the last pair I made.

One more week. One more week and I'll be free of this job... and hopefully that'll help me regain focus and feel less overwhelmed.


jovaliquilts said...

I did a language exchange when I lived in France and it was not always easy to articulate the difference between two words. Often I would go home and think about it for awhile before I could come up with a good answer (IF I came up with one). Now I put the two words in google along with the word 'difference' and usually I got far more explanations than I need, some better than others. Grammar Girl is a good site. But these are aimed at questions native speakers have -- I imagine foreigners will have other questions. Do you find you're getting far more conscious of how you speak?

Rebel said...

In an unexpected way, yes. Today I was trying to help a Chinese woman with a computer issue and I realized I was talking waaaay too fast for her. I always assume since they are Ph.D.s and live in the US they have strong English skills... but then she referred to her laptop's battery as a "bladder" and it occurred to me that she might not understand much of what I was saying.

Bezzie said...

It reminds me of how do you explain color to a person who has been blind their whole life? Oof. Too heavy for me. I applaud you for taking it on.

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Olga said...

American english is a hard language- too many exceptions and words that sound exactly alike but have diffrent meanings. At least we don't have an alphbet like the chinese do!

mlle b said...

I'm totally impressed that you remember the door of the UC. It's funny, because your description was dead on. I used to feel that way about my back-up when I went home to Kaneko (and had someone lift and carry it for me on the upward climb home when it was heavy). Good times!