Entering Year Four of Blogging

Of 'three years' to look back over, these three have just been WILD.

As we slide into June, this blog has slowly and quietly entered year four.  I started it back at the end of May/beginning of June in 2018 as an experiment of sorts, tracking my time and effort spent on language learning, going over the stuff that has worked for me and the stuff that hasn’t, talking about my experiences here and there, and overall just plugging along on a language learning journey toward improving my Spanish.  In the intervening time, I must say that some of my goals and priorities for the journey itself have changed, and along with it has the tone of this blog, I think.  Which is a good thing overall, probably, and I figured I’d talk a bit about it.

The most fundamental change is likely going to be from my relationship to the importance of getting to a fully fluent place with Spanish.  At the very start of this project, I said and maintained very firmly that everything involved in this, from the blog itself to the language learning, was “for fun,” but truthfully, there was a bit more to it than that, because although I had to approach it as just for fun in how I interacted with the material and the blogging itself, there was very little room in my head at the time for something just for fun.

Three years ago, I was in a more difficult place in life, which isn’t something I’ve talked about extensively in this blog (though it’s slowly become more autobiographical over time), but was definitely weighing on my mind.  To just not be coy about it, I was a fulltime rideshare driver for a couple years going into the start of this project, my car was starting to feel the weight of mounting wear and tear on it from the job, and the job itself was not by any means a permanent solution, but I was, in a way, trapped in it at the time.  There were lots of reasons for this, some more personal than others, but to keep it short and relatively simple, I knew the job situation had an expiration date and I was going to need to pivot at some point.  However, I didn’t need to pivot immediately, so I was allowed to be a little picky and see what opportunities might come along.

Being in a situation like that has lots of positives and negatives, and ultimately ended up working out as I found my way into my current career, which is an actual career that I enjoy.  That said, one of the major negatives with that situation was that basically everything became part of me sniffing for opportunities, including this project.

I’ve never really tried to career-ify this blog at all (despite some WordPress phone calls and emails trying to upsell me to plaster this place with ads, lol), nor wit the act of learning Spanish, but a pragmatic part of my brain had a goal in mind of “being bilingual can get me a job somewhere,” with the tertiary idea of “maybe the blog will provide material that I could turn into a book.”  Both of which are, I think, pretty reasonable goals overall, and still might end up happening down the line—as my current job does have some positions that require Spanish fluency and maybe there is a book lurking in this project in some way—but which drove me in a certain way with how I approached this project and this blog.  Something that, after my life situation shifted, has fundamentally changed.

While maybe there is a book, or a new position at work, or something that learning Spanish can provide me financially-speaking, the simple truth is that I don’t need it to do that.  My job is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future, and I have a livable wage that lets me cover my expenses and save for the future in a way where I don’t feel stressed about money.  There is no expiration date looming on me, and I don’t have to pivot.  Not everything needs to be an opportunity.

With this perspective change, probably the most obvious shift in the tone of this blog has me cutting myself slack on working on output to any real extent.  I know I should, and am planning on devoting some serious effort to it to try and push through from my current plateau into really being able to use Spanish for communication, but it stopped being a “finish line” of sorts in my head that I was working my way up toward.  It’d be nice to push through that plateau, but I don’t need to push through it, and at this point I can comfortably enjoy basically everything I come across in terms of Spanish content, which is my real and honest desire of what to get out of the language 99% of the time.  Talking to people is nice and all, and being able to do so comfortably would “open up opportunities,” but mostly what I want to do is watch dumb youtube videos from interesting creators, or enjoy cartoons or books that I’ve never had a chance to enjoy.  In that sense, I’ve already achieved my goals with this project and am more or less done, just enjoying the fruits of those years of hard work.

Which…kind of sounds like a quitting blog, but that’s not what’s going on here, just considering the general state of things at the end of year three.  Thinking it over, it probably is time for me to make some decisions about where things ought to go from here.  I’m in the middle of some pretty extensive book series that I started in Spanish and would like to finish without jumping languages, and they could potentially last me for the next couple years considering the overall speed at which I can read them.  I have plenty of watching material I’m enjoying, too.  Having those things to do in Spanish every day has been a nice bit of structure in my life as well.  These aren’t things I’m keen to get rid of, regardless of what decisions I decide to make.  As year four begins, though, I have a feeling that something getting shaken up is going to be pretty inevitable.  I suppose we shall see.

Anyway, enough rumination, let’s take a look at the numbers for the week.

Tuesday 5/25

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 2% of Cielo en Llamas, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 2 episodes of Tangled, 1 episode of Kiwillius, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Wednesday 5/26

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 2% of Cielo en Llamas, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 2 episodes of Tangled, 1 episode of Kiwillius, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Thursday 5/27

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 2% of Cielo en Llamas, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 2 episodes of Tangled, 1 episode of La Zona Cero, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Friday 5/28

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 2% of Cielo en Llamas, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 2 episodes of Tangled, 1 episode of La Zona Cero, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Saturday 5/29

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 2 episodes of Tangled, 1 episode of Daniel San GMR, ~60 minutes

Sunday 5/30

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 2 episodes of Voltron, ~90 minutes

Monday 5/31

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 5 episodes of Voltron, ~120 minutes
  • Total Duolingo: 140 XP, 0 minutes
  • Total reading: 1/10 books read, 360 minutes
  • Total watching/listening: 5 YouTube episodes and 17 television episodes watched, 510 minutes
  • Total speaking: reading out loud, 150 minutes

Total Time: 14 hours 30 minutes

A relatively normal week.  Monday was a holiday from work, so I got to treat it as a weekend, and despite normal life cutting into that time, the third day meant I really did have some time to focus on stuff outside of the work week.

You’ll notice I switched from Tangled to Voltron: Legendary Defender on my watching, and this isn’t because I finished Tangled, I still have about ¾ of a season to go, but I seriously needed a break from it for a little bit.  The show’s okay, but it isn’t great, and I was getting kinda bored.  It’s the right sort of show to have watched as it was new, watching a season all at once and enjoying it well enough without particularly loving it, but three seasons back to back to back’s a little much.  Voltron has been a nice palate cleanser these last few days, and I’m nearly done with the first season already.  My plan is to go back and finish up Tangled after that, then go on to season 2.

Progress on Cielo en Llamas continues at its sedate pace, and as I approach the halfway mark, I’m excited to hopscotch back to Memorias de Idhún next.  As I said in the main blog, lots and lots of reading ahead of me.

As this week cleanly ended the month of May, let’s take a look back on the month as a whole.

  • Total Duolingo: 630 XP, 0 minutes
  • Total Watching/Listening: 69 tv episodes, 2 movies, and 25 youtube videos watched, 2,250 minutes
  • Total Reading: 1/5 whole books read, 1,500 minutes
  • Total Writing: 0 words written, 0 minutes
  • Total Speaking: reading out loud, 540 minutes
  • Total Time: 62 hours 30 minutes

And here’s the breakdown for money spent.

  • Netflix Subscription Standard HD Plan, Television and Movie Streaming, $10.99 per month, $10.99
  • Disney+ Subscription, Television and Movie Streaming, $6.99 per month, $6.99
  • Amount Spent on Services: $17.98
  • Total Spent: $17.98

A pretty good month, though a smidge on the low side thanks to life starting to open up and all.  The lack of writing for the mid-month blog is standing out like a sore thumb to me, but eh, can’t win them all.  I have not at any point abandoned this project, so despite things slowing down a smidge, I’m feeling like things are still going strong.

What’s going less strong, unfortunately, is writing.  After things started really coming to a head with the training over March and April, writing took the brunt of my burnout and I cut myself the slack of letting that happen and rebuilding after things settled again.  Once things did settle, it’s been a little slow getting fully back into the swing of things.  Something not on display was I went through and did one last editing pass on roughly 120k words of a novel over the course of about a week and a half, which is nothing to sneeze at, but since I wasn’t tracking word counts on that, it doesn’t end up adding much to statistics.

Additionally, the weekends being busy enough to keep me from devoting much more than lip service toward Spanish has impacted my writing, too, with me largely not getting much down on weekends at all.  All this together and things look kinda paltry on writing produced, at 7,372 words for the month.  My current project, which is on the short side, is nearing completion however, and as things continue to settle and I get more and more back into the swing of things during the work week, I think my numbers will start to climb back up.  Weekends might start to even out, too, though that’s hard to say for sure.  I’m enjoying the freedom compared to quarantine time and am not going to look at it all that closely.

Anyway, think that’ll do for this one.  It’s been a strange, strange three years, and I’m curious what directions year four will go in.  Hope you’ll join me to find out where things go.  TTFN.

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