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Posted on 2017.06.25 at 20:31
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So I have nearly completed my work for the first year of graduate school. It was intense, immersive, and fascinating. It has been without a doubt one of the most positive experiences of my life, which is such a nice change after the last two years. I will put all that into a different post though as I want to talk about recent research before I lose my thoughts and questions.

During graduate school, one of the doctoral candidates and I had a few brief conversations and at one point he told me I actually think differently because I can speak other languages. It is not his field of expertise, but he has taught in other countries and has friends who are studying languages and perception. He gave me a list of links to check out when I asked for further information. So I have gone down the proverbial rabbit hole over the weekend instead of finishing my last paper.

One of the things that came up repeatedly was the idea that one language can, and does, interfere with the others. It can be obvious or subtle but it does often impact the language. So I do what comes natural to me and begin analyzing it. I know when I get migraines, I will use the words from one language and the syntax of another. I have also noticed when I write, there are times when I use a syntax that is from a different language than the one I'm writing. Case in point, read through a few entries as it happens frequently in English. Not the extent that you don't understand and it's necessary poor grammar, but to the extent a native English speaker may think it was an unusual way to word something. I also sometimes have spelling issues for a similar reason.

Research goes on to apply this to accents. How sometimes an accent is present, but more often is not. It even went so far as to say the accent could affect the first language in some cases. My first reaction was a memory of competing in a language tournament in high school and my German judges asked me if I was French. When I replied no, they asked if I studied it. I said yes and asked how they knew. They said because I sounded French not German, that my "r's" were very French. My second language accent was transferred to my third, which is still true today. However, it oddly did not translate to Japanese. I also have some issues with words I learned in French first and English second, like Quebec. It sounds wrong to me to pronounce it as "kwah-bek" rather than "kay-bek."

Another topic was that of "thinking" in another language. It started by stating that linguists define thinking differently than society; for a linguist thinking is what parts of the brain are being accessed versus society's idea of the language of their inner voice. For the linguist, they used the example of learning Chinese and how many who start it, view the variations as a variation in pitch thus using their right hemisphere, but once they become more fluent this shifts to the left hemisphere and the variations are considered variations of phonetic sound instead. While interesting, I am still left with a question. Why when I study Japanese do I translate it into French rather than English? There are some similarities, but they are also very different and sound nothing alike.

The idea of fluency was something else brought up in the research. Fluency is a continuum, not a destination. I took it to mean when you began to process the language as a native speaker rather than translating it to your own and back. At that point you begin to enter stages of fluency in that language. If that is the case, I am some stage of fluent in at least three of the languages I have studied with the fourth being nearly at that point. French is fluent, and if I'm honest I have no issues with Japanese...in fact is was startling to me how quickly I transitioned into the stage of not translating with Japanese. German I am hesitant to say is fluent because there are moments I have think of German grammar to say what I want to say. The language itself however is not being translated, just the syntax is not as easily accessible.

Lastly came the idea of metalinguistics being a huge advantage to language learners. That is to say, those who are aware of the rules of language in general and how it is acquired and used across cultures and languages have an easier time assimilating other languages into their learning. To me, this perhaps has the biggest impact on changing how we see the world. For one, we know that there is a deeper meaning behind words at times not just the literal meaning. Two, we know that the meaning is a cognitive thing and does not change depending on the word we use. Thirdly, we understand that language can be manipulated and changed. You can also start to see how having an overarching view of language could change how you perceive any language and go about acquiring it. Perhaps this is one reason I think French when I learn something new in Japanese? I think however, it is more likely true of when I decipher the speech of others. I do not presume to know what they mean because I understand this can vary widely between culture and language even when the same words (or translations) are used. I am highly aware of metalinguistics and in an effort to improve communication I perhaps notice things both in spoken and non-verbal language that others do not. If someone pushes me to make an assumption, I will often opt with the literal one rather than guess at the intent, even if I feel I know what it is (and am often correct).

This has been a source of miscommunication with specific people and I have no doubt I have frustrated them to no end because of it. Often they are frustrated with why I think what I do (and interestingly usually don't argue it's validity), and I am sometimes at a loss for words because it's like trying to describe what blue looks like. "I said ____ how did you get that from it?" Well, because it was the order of the words, the specific word choice, your inflection, your gestures, and how you felt...sometimes it reminds of how someone in another culture acts when they mean ____. I'm going to move to the next point as I feel I'm getting a bit rambling in trying to explain. I have also found I will take on the cultural aspects of the language in communication depending on the situation. I notice the most with Japanese because there are times when I respond in a more "Japanese" way than "American." It could be the type of speech I'm using or it could be an actual reaction, filler word, or interpretation of something. Research has showed that bilingual and multilingual people often will flow from one language to the next and also between cultures. They have learned to live with a blending of them rather than keeping the language in its own isolated folder in the brain. This is so true it isn't even funny for me.

The thing is, I don't even think about it. It's just like when I see a word that looks Japanese or French or German, I will pronounce that way even if it's an English word. Likewise, when presented with a situation that the response feels more natural in one of those culture's that's how I interpret the situation and act. It isn't to be difficult, ambiguous, or arrogant; it's simply what feels natural. I had never really thought about it before researching this but now I'm curious and want to know more about it.

How do we get to that point where we assimilate it all into ourselves?
Why are others, who are aware of other cultures and languages, so closed minded when dealing with this?
Is there a way to prevent one language leaking through into the other? Or to choose how it affects the target language?
What IS fluency?
What impact does it have for a multilingual teacher who teaches bilingual students? Does it make it easier, harder, or have no impact on learning?
Why would someone have a native accent in a second language, but the third results in the accent of the second rather than the first?
Why would someone when learning a language past their third translate the new language into a language other than their native tongue?
Does the method of learning another language need to changes as the person learns more? Does it get easier? Is a different type of study more or less effective?

I look forward to seeing what future research turns up.


Kuroshitsuji Manga

Posted on 2017.06.24 at 03:46
Cutting for Major spoilers for Chapter 129.Collapse )

I guess we will see what happens in the next issue. While excited to possibly have some answers, it also is a little sad as it means the end is probably near.



Posted on 2017.04.28 at 23:20
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I was talking to another teacher today and she was commenting on how a class she is taking is very racially divided and that it makes her sad to see that. I agreed and we started talking about what teachers bring to the classroom and the biases we have that we don't even realize...

I didn't grow up the way most of the people I work with did; I grew up the way most of my students are growing up. With an absent or unreliable parent. Struggling to make ends meet and having to make difficult choices. Feeling like you were walking on eggshells so a parent didn't explode physically or verbally. Hiding your fear and pain so you could function. Being the adult rather than the child.

As an adult, you have an whole different set of struggles. People who didn't grow up the same way don't understand. To them, you should have it all together because you aren't responding to the things they find difficult, but they think you must have something wrong with you when you are sensitive to other things like tone of voice, word choice, etc. Really, we are just coming from two different sides and while I'm not perfect I try not to judge the other side. However, I'm tired of being judged.

In fact, if I had to choose between my struggles I'd pick the harder childhood. People waste so much time and energy worrying about things that aren't important and don't really even impact them that much. When I get really anxious is when my career or someone I care about is threatened. In fact, I've been told I deserved to be happy and the person proceeded to attach that to money. I don't give a flying fuck about money so long as I can support myself. What matters to me is relationships, memories, voices, laughter, sensations...things money cannot purchase. The material possessions that matter to me are limited to books, an electronic form of a communication, and my violin. The rest is merely a means to an end.

Sometimes I do feel lonely, but not because I dislike people...I just have so little in common with them. I hear them complain about having to borrow money from their parents AGAIN or what someone else said about someone else. Spare me. If that is the extent of your conversational material I prefer my own mind. It's not personal; I just don't have anything to discuss. Sometimes I will prod people to see what they tend to discuss or wish to talk about, but once I find it superficial I'll back down. I try not to do it because it feels manipulative, but really I just want to know more about you without directly asking you--since so few people are actually honest when asked.

The rapport I've built with my students are based on who I am. And I've decided that gentle is a better way to go than elitism or threatening consequences. My philosophy is we simply need to believe and help them believe in themselves. Simple, yet so very difficult to achieve. However...

Today I worked with a student after school and he expressed nervousness over singing a solo. I asked him if I had ever asked him to do something he wasn't ready to do and he said no. And I said, "So believe in yourself. I do. You will do well, just believe and relax." When he left shortly after, he thanked me for staying after as always but then he stopped and said, "Thank you. For all this" gesturing to the room. (He's been my student since the 4th grade and is now a sophomore.) I replied, "no problem! That's why I'm here! Thank you for your hard work!" But really, on the heels of so much negativity thrown my way and feeling so defeated like nothing I did mattered I realized something...I'm giving the wrong person's opinion too much weight.

What I do and say matters. Even if not everyone understands why I am picky with words or get frustrated with the nonverbal messages sent by an action, it matters to the kids. They're why I'm there. They matter to me and because of them, I matter. And for that I will be forever grateful.



Posted on 2017.04.23 at 23:50
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One of the hardest things I've had to do in my life is silently mourn the loss of a child I will never have while hiding behind my excitement for all of the recent new mothers around me.

Society allows you to mourn the loss of a child that was born, to an extent the loss of an unborn child, but not the loss of the ability to have a child that was so desperately wanted.

"How can you grieve over something you didn't have?" while at the same time they say, "You don't know love until you are a mother." They say I can't possibly understand the sacrifice...when I would trade everything in my life that I have fought for just to hold my child in my arms or hear a little voice call me "Mom." They tell me I don't know, I can't possibly know, how much a parent loves their child. If that's true, then you can't possibly understand the grief I carry with me every day. Every day, while I listen to you go on about your child; every day while I smile at the pictures you want to show me; every day while you make comments only a parent would understand or how lucky I am to be childfree.

You are so very wrong. I do know the love a parent has for a child...not because of what being a mother has brought me, but because of the void it left inside me when the possibility was taken from me. I don't begrudge you your happiness; I take issue with your lack of compassion and judgement of those whose path diverges from the one your life is on.


New Year

Posted on 2017.01.01 at 23:55
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2016 was a bad year for a lot of people. Someone told me today, in regards to a mutual friend, that she lives in the grief. She commented that she doesn't express it but lets it marinate. I asked what I do and she said it consumes me and will come in a wave and then it's over.

I think she's right. I refuse to hold on to the negative. The problem is when I can't escape it because it overwhelms me, the wave crashes into the shore and then I let go of it again. 2016 was a year filled with grief for me. Every aspect of my life had it profoundly and on many levels. But I really only talked about a few of them.

I also realized, that while I talk a lot at times, I am sharing experiences and not myself. Usually I am trying to establish trust so I can help or comfort the other person, but I am not actually expressing myself. Granted people don't typically know that and assume they have some understanding of me from what I shared. They aren't entirely wrong, but it is an exceptionally small piece of who I am.

It isn't because I don't want people to know me, but that in my experience they are unable to handle the emotional intensity with which I feel every single thing. It isn't a wave, it is a vast tempest at all times raging under the placid surface of an ocean. It isn't a fault either; it is simply who I am. Life has always been a vibrant vivid experience for me.

But even as I had this conversation, I found myself wanting to joke and focus on the positive. Perhaps that is one of the biggest conflicts in some of my current situations...that intent on the positive may appear that I am unable to see the negative. That isn't the case, but I don't see the point in focusing on the negative as it does not change it to positive by dwelling on what was. I am future oriented and I live my life by regretting as few of my decisions as possible; rather I seek to learn from them as I move forward. If that means I piss you off because I'm not beating myself up with regret, I'm really not apologetic. Why would I waste my life and time regretting what I can't change rather than letting it fuel my energy to change the future?

I think the biggest way to sum it up is, I want to bring hope to the world around me and hope is not found by looking into the past. So I will walk forward into 2017 with hope and with the belief that we create what we believe, think, and feel. I am not perfect but I will always strive to create as beautiful a world as the one I see when I look into the night sky or the forest; when I feel the soft warmth of my cats fuzzy purrs; when I hear the innocent laughter of young children; when my students come to the edge and start to take flight towards their potential; and when I speak the truth of someone's strengths at a time when they have forgotten.

2017 is a year of Hope.


My Power, My Success

Posted on 2016.12.29 at 21:21
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What is more important: the destination or the journey? At what point does destination matter more than the path you take to get there? Or when the destination ceases to be achieved because the path went so far astray? Maybe when it comes down to it, there are only three types of people; those who ultimately value the destination, those who ultimately value the journey, and those who are afraid to make a decision.

I value the journey and no end will justify the means if it is achieved by hurt, deceit, or arrogance. I would rather never reach my destination but stay true to myself than to finally have the results I am seeking and lose myself in the process. It is fundamental to who I am and I'm not sure people can change this aspect of their personality...nor do I have any desire to change it. Maybe this is a root in all miscommunication.

We all want the same thing--to achieve desired results while minimally compromising our integrity, but ultimately I think people fall into one of these three categories when really tested. I can no more care more about the result than I can stand by and not act. The fire within me is too great to contain, but it will also be spent focused on how I am moving forward. Everything I have built has been because of this aspect of myself...my students, my friends, my family...

It is every step and every person along the way that matters and demands attention. To look at the goal and devise a plan is such a small part of life and, at least to me, of reaching the goal. If I reach the goal at the expense of the steps or the people, I cannot consider it success because they ARE my success.

Perhaps that is more what this is about; some people build connections with ideas but I do it with people. That is my strength. I keep getting shoved into a box of "making such good connections" and "attention to detail" and "thorough" and whatever else people say. But in reality, I am good at uniting people with each other. I'm not even that great at making connections with other people, but when I'm uniting them for a cause or a goal, that is where my true strength lies.

And this is what I must harness to regain my power.


Grief's Touch

Posted on 2016.12.22 at 13:37
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Sometimes the human heart amazes me. It seems capable of so holding so much without breaking and even then, it finds ways to move forward.

Grief is no stranger to me. The problem comes when the nightmare you are living never ends. People don't know how to handle that or respond or offer support. So they blame you instead. They stop believing you, they stop trying to support, they stop reaching out with positivity; they give up on you.

And you are left more alone than before, having once felt their support, with the grief that will never leave. I'm not talking about depression; I'm talking about living nightmares. Tragedies that have no closure, that change your life forever, and no medicine or doctor can help you navigate unless you want to numb yourself from life and lose who you are in the haze of mood-stabalizers.

You learn to embrace the little things. You learn to be true to who you are. You learn to value authenticity and honesty over fake pleasantries. You learn to feel guilty for sharing your life. You learn to hate when you become overwhelmed and have to speak or vent. You learn to feel the pain of those who have turned their backs on you through the anger and hurt. You learn there is no such thing as closure, only the choice of standing still or moving forward. You learn sometimes it's okay to stand still--sometimes it's necessary if you want to move forward later. You learn that despite how amazing the human heart can be, many mistakenly believe that you are the exception and different, and push you away.

When I recede from society, it is not a depression. It is to heal myself because no one else can re-establish the balance within me but myself. And I don't wish to talk to those who really don't want to know. Please, though you mean well, if you aren't willing to be there for the long haul, just don't step into my path. You see, I am used to solitude and strife. In fact I don't know anything else. You being there confuses me...and about the time I start to feel safe enough to expose who I really am, you cast me away.

Living nightmares exist. It's not always violent crime, and it doesn't always exist for just the one it happens to. You have not walked in my shoes and you know so little of me, but you judge anyway. You say hurtful thoughtless things meant to help, not even realizing how wrong and misguided your words are. But I can't tell you...I smile and accept them, hide my tears and pain of what could have been. And you will never know because you will never ask why, although you might wonder.

What motivates you? Making this world a better place. What inspires you? Being needed, being believed in, and knowing I am making a difference. While I don't think my answers are exceptional or unusual, I wonder if they surprised you. I am not motivated by things, money, or recognition. Nor are my goals linked to material gain or power. In fact, I do not want power...and therein lies the difference between us. Stop treating me like you would treat yourself. If I didn't trust my intuition I wouldn't even be fighting with you believing you might actually care underneath all this.

Hidden illness, lurking beneath a mask of choices, takes its toll on a person. To not have that diagnosis to wave in front of someone, to explain, to give hope that it will get better. People don't know how to deal with that. Or with health that continues to deteriorate and the doctors can do nothing but wait until you show signs of what the disease is. An organic pathology that escapes modern diagnostic testing until the symptoms are obvious. It isn't a choice that led me here, nor is it one that keeps me here. But here is still where I am and where I will remain until my body gives more information. It isn't in my head, the oncologist was adamant that it wasn't just my normal--something was wrong and will come to light as the condition progressed. He is not the only doctor to say that.

My family, devastated by tragedy sparked by the spiteful and hateful in this country. The ignorant who are so quick to blame and get riled up that they don't even question if they are right or the logic of their words and laws. And when tragedy happens, it affects the lives of many not one. You don't understand until it happens to you, and it isn't something I would wish on anyone. The lost futures, joyous memories turn to shattered dreams, the pain of what could have been, the reality of what will never be...not everyone feels like celebrating holidays. Restrictions left and right, and people mean well when they make suggestions...they don't understand the limitations of your situation and you can't tell them. Either out of fear of more judgement, of not wanting to bring someone else down, or of simple protection from making a bad situation worse. After all, people leave and that hits a bit too close to home to share. The risk is too great so you smile and nod, swallowing the pain and frustration, and return to your solitude...letting them think what they will.

You see your life foiled by so many around you. You smile and delight in holding your friend's child, and feel the horrible loss more acutely of what has been taken from your life as you watch him run to his parents. Yet you are just happy that in a room full of people, he chose you to interact with other than his parents. He came to you, gave you his toys...and as you smile and feel that joy, you are hit with the pain of the son you wanted so badly but will never have.

You hear stories of grandparents and families, having just buried your own. Having just witnessed who people really are...how in a time of strife they bickered and argued rather than rallied together for support. You and your brother felt out of place for shedding tears while the rest acted like it was a party. To approach death so casually, is alien to me but this is also how they approached any challenge in life...and why they never really moved past them.

You hear people talk of their lives and find it difficult at times because of the pathological abuse you have suffered, seen, and bear as the first generation after. You hold the secrets in because no one can know, and watch as your loved ones are unable to break free from it and witness the destruction it can have on a person, all the while vowing to not continue in the same cycles of negative thinking of yourself that you now understand. You see loved ones on the edge of death, trying to offer support and kind words and love, even when it is not what they have offered you because you have stood on that edge and looked into the abyss.

Grief doesn't leave you; it becomes a part of you. It doesn't mean you don't move forward, grow, or that you hold on to the severity of the pain, but it does mean it leaves its mark on you. Someone showing or experiencing grief doesn't make them weak or depressed; it makes them human. It can become your strength or it can become your kryptonite. We can transform our grief into strength and compassion rather than let it harden us and break our spirit, but we have to embrace it first. Or perhaps it is that we must let it break us so we can be reborn from the ashes into who we were afraid to be.

I was once told my soul was like a light and that the darkness would be attracted to it...that person was right. At the time I was thinking in terms of people, but I see now what they meant. It is not our job to fight the darkness; it is our job to be the light.

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