Week Two of Staying at Home

The world's quarantined and there's not much else to talk about, huh?

I’ve had some trouble figuring out how to go about blogging for this week.  The last month or so of blogs have all been circling around the topic of the pandemic in some fashion, which I suppose is to be expected to some degree as it’s just everywhere, but it’s gotten to be too much for me.  I feel like I’m writing clickbait all the time, and I want to keep the topics fresh and varied.  The problem is, of course, that this blog is often poised to respond to what’s going on with me week to week, and what else is going on besides the pandemic, you know?  This is what the world is now, at least for the time being, and when I’m considering how my Spanish work has gone over the week, it feels disingenuous to ignore the coronavirus.  I’m at a loss here.

It doesn’t help that this week’s been a particularly tiring one for me, too.  My day job is still pretty busy and doling out a healthy helping of mandatory overtime.  Every day of work this week has had at least some overtime attached.  Which has its perks as far as my paycheck is concerned, but hasn’t left me feeling like there’s much to my time outside of work anymore.  I get up and get ready for work in an unhurried fashion, spend all day working, and then slump back and recover from it until it’s time to go to sleep and do the whole thing all over again.

There’s some Spanish stuff mixed in there, mostly at the before and during work stages, and I’m not discounting the sense of accomplishment from doing that, but the workday itself is defining the day.  And that might be fine in general, I like my job and feel like I’m genuinely helping people, but those people who need help are living in the same world I am, too, and there’s no mistaking what it is that they’re needing help with.  The topic is inescapable.

In sitting down to write this blog, a big part of me wanted to just ignore it.  I finished the season of Seis Manos that’s available on Netflix this week, I could have spent a while talking about that show, and probably Castlevania at the same time, and discuss how I think both are indicative of a style of American co-opting of anime that’s all flash and no substance, which has led to both shows being very pretty, but ultimately just empty ultraviolence.  The lineage of those shows is traceable through the anime bootlegs of the nineties: the people who are making them grew up on Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D, look back on those things with the nostalgia of being a teenager at the time, and wanted to create something that invoked that same feeling of mystery and violence.  And while there’s something very interesting about seeing that play out on screen, it ultimately feels like the learned the wrong lessons from that media.

That could have been the whole topic of the blog.  It’d probably have been relatively interesting, too, as it gets into my wheelhouses of animation and storytelling, and feels like a safe place to go in order to discuss something when I don’t have another topic to cover.  Instead, though, when I sat down to write a blog, all I could think about was how crass it felt, how unimportant and trivial to talk about a couple of shows which are fine, but not something that I particularly like.  Shows I watched through the week with a ho-hum, “This is good enough that I don’t feel like switching it off and spending the energy to figure out what else to watch,” attitude, in-between trying to help people whose lives were falling apart around them, as they or their loved ones got sick, their jobs dried up and blew away, their savings hemorrhaged money into the unfeeling marketplace, and they desperately tried to plan for an uncertain future with whatever they had left.

This is becoming a bummer, which is, unfortunately, kind of an honest look at the world we’re struggling through at the moment.  I’m coming from a place of utmost privilege here, a spoiled girl with a safe job where she can work from home and not have much to worry about.  I’m someone for whom this outbreak has inconvenienced, and when you consider what’s actually happening out there to real people, that turns this all into whining.  I don’t want to whine, but I also don’t want to downplay the actual human suffering that’s choking the world by pretending that nothing is going on.  All I can hope for is that this passes quickly, then fades into a memory of a weird, turbulent time that we all had to live through, and we can all get back to our regularly scheduled lives.  Maybe that’s wishful thinking, or maybe it’s just going to take us a little while to get there, but it is what I’m hoping for.  Stay safe out there.

Anyway, let’s look at this week’s language learning numbers, as that was still a thing I was doing while everything else was falling apart.

Tuesday 3/24

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 6% of El Espino de Plata, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Castlevania, 1 episode of Seis Manos, 1 episode of Arte Divierte, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Wednesday 3/25

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 6% of El Espino de Plata, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Radio Ambulante, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Thursday 3/26

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 6% of El Espino de Plata, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of DSimphony, 1 episode of Kiwillius, 1 episode of Castlevania, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Friday 3/27

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 6% of El Espino de Plata, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Castlevania, 1 episode of Seis Manos, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Saturday 3/28

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 2% of El Espino de Plata, ~30 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: Zootopia, 1 episode of DSimphony, ~120 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Sunday 3/29

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 2% of El Espino de Plata, ~30 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Seis Manos, 2 episodes of DSimphony, 1 episode of Kiwillius, ~120 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Monday 3/30

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 6% of El Espino de Plata, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Castlevania, 1 episode of DSimphony, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes
  • Total Duolingo: 140 XP, 0 minutes
  • Total reading: 1/3 books read, 510 minutes
  • Total watching/listening: 8 YouTube episodes, 1 podcast, 1 movie, and 6 tv episodes, 540 minutes
  • Total speaking: reading out loud, 210 minutes
  • Total Time: 17 hours 30 minutes

The numbers have made a full, robust recovery this week, as last week was suggesting might happen.  Having zero commute helps condense some tasks into specific parts of the day better, and with everyone working from home and on overtime, the workload has gotten easier to do other things around again.  It’s still pretty dang busy, but more like it was on busy days before the market went nuts instead of how it had been before that, as a byproduct of slightly lower volume and slightly higher agent availability, I think.  Which has been nice, the amount of work I’ve been able to put into Spanish is one of the few things that I’ve been able to feel really good about this past week.

As mentioned, I did finish Seis Manos, which you can tell I felt ways about, and I’m nearing the end of the new season of Castlevania, too.  Once that last one is also off my plate, I’m probably going to pick up either Diablero or Club de Cuervos as the next thing to try and really focus on every day for a while.  Having these easier things sprinkled in has been pretty nice, because it reinforces the sense of improvement when I can get through something absolutely perfectly, but really challenging myself with something hard for a while has a better potential of paying short-term gains.  We’ll see how that all goes as next week continues.

Speaking of reinforcing my sense of improvement, I felt like rewatching Zootopia over the weekend, which I hadn’t watched in quite a while (and is one of my favorite movies of the past decade), and found myself noticing a ton of nuance to the Spanish translation that I didn’t catch before.  Granted, last time I watched it my listening comprehension was much worse than it is now, so that was entirely to be expected, but it’s interesting actually experiencing that difference.  I think that’s a big reason why so many language learning experts recommend heavy repetition, because it really is a trip to go back through something and see how much better you get it.  I just find repetition like that kind of boring.

I’ve coasted past the halfway point of El Espino de Plata already, which is amazing compared to how long it took to get through both Mago Aprendiz and Mago Maestro.  Benefits of actually having reading time per-day.  I’m really liking this series, it’s kind of potboiler fantasy in some ways, but it’s pretty good potboiler fantasy.

I had made some plans for this blog with the thought in mind that it would be the monthly recap as well, but I hadn’t realized that my recordkeeping would cut off before the month actually ended, so that’s all getting saved for next week.  I suppose that gives me one more chance to turn things around on the fiction writing before it was too late to include in a month wrap-up, because writing is something I have not had the energy for this week.  Maybe if I found that energy, I’d feel less like everything was consumed by working, but it’s been hard to not just let the days bleed together and look forward to the next weekend.  Time flies when you’re busy.

Anyway, that’ll do for this bummer of a week.  My thoughts are with the world, and maybe we’ll start to see things take a swing back up to somewhere good.  I certainly hope so.  Take care of each other, and wash your hands.  TTFN.

4 thoughts on “Week Two of Staying at Home

  1. I’m sure you probably have a list of things you plan on writing about in the future, but one thing I’d be curious to hear about is whether you feel the need to base your Spanish in a specific dialect at some point. And if you’re agnostic about picking a dialect, I’m curious about how you then decide what words, phrases, slang, and pronunciation you use when you’re outputting and whether there is a sort of inconsistency that is generated as a result.

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    1. I’m currently not planning on a specific dialect, though I have a soft aim set on the variety of Spanish spoken locally, which is the most heavily influenced by Mexican Spanish. I don’t put a ton of thought into dialect in general, as I figure it’s better to cast a wide net and get comfortable listening to and understanding Spanish of all sorts, but I do assign a bit more importance and pay a bit more attention to the idiosyncratic turns of phrases and preferred vocab for media out of Mexico. That said, I *do* cast a wide net in the media I consume, with Spanish from all over the world (European Spanish has had a brutal learning curve, but I’m getting better at it), so I likely will fall into some traps using phrases and names that might be common in some countries but sound weird in others. I still haven’t done much output, so I don’t have any examples, or really anything to say on that subject as of yet. That might change in the future as I ramp into more output.

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  2. I didn’t really focus on any specific type of Spanish either for the first few years (although I intentionally never bothered to learn the vosotros in an active sense), but this year I’ve definitely been conscious about preferring Mexican-based Spanish. I’d say about 80% of my Spanish input is Mexican-based at this point. It some ways it’s very limiting, since I’ve rejected certain media solely because it came from Spain, but in other ways it feels like I picked a “major.”

    If someone just wants to be understood, they could probably side-step picking a dialect. But if someone wants to speak and sound somewhat natural, it seems a bit necessary. I mean, at some point you gotta decide: Am I going to use the verb coger the way the Spanish use it, or the way most of Latin America uses it? What word will I use to refer to a drinking straw? What’s my word for cool?

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    1. For my general take on it, I’m not terribly fussed about trying to come off as if Spanish is my native language and don’t mind being perceived as a second-language Spanish speaker, especially in the early going. I’d like to be as understandable as possible, so that means aiming for things like a minimal accent and clearly understood phrases (like, I think it’s a no-brainer for this part of the world to leave coger alone, it’d be like learning English in the US and deciding you’re going to call flashlights torches, or refer to being drunk as being pissed. You’re creating awkward confusion for no reason), but that’s a step or two removed from coming off as “I want to sound like I am from Mexico City.” I don’t see anything wrong with that more involved goal, I just don’t necessarily see a reason in aiming for it specifically, at least for myself. That aim doesn’t lend itself all that well to my vague goals for how I see myself using Spanish in my personal and professional life.

      For the latter, I could totally use Spanish in my day job, but that would want for me to speak in the bland, fake, and edgeless “professional Spanish” dialect that’s designed to be as character-free as possible to cut past the dialectical differences. For the former, well, that depends on what sorts of communities I end up getting involved in, and like every other community I’ve ever been a part of, I’m certain I’ll end up tailoring my vocabulary and mode of speech to match *that* environment, at least to a certain extent. I already speak very differently depending on contexts in English, I assume I’d need to be able to do the same thing in Spanish, too, at least to use it at a sufficiently high level. Which, more or less, is another way of saying that I figure I’m going to end up learning my final “dialect” later on based on how I end up using Spanish, and since that’s still up in the air at this point, I don’t see a reason to work on that at the moment.

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