Friday, March 15, 2013

taking out the trash

Did a bunch of cleaning in the apartment which meant a few hours after starting, I was carrying three grocery bags of trash down to the dumpsters, mostly full of two liter bottles. (Yes, I know, I would rather be recycling but I don't have the first idea of where to do it here. I do reuse the bags for more trash when they're not filled with the gross kind--maybe that's worse, but it's helpful.)

Anyway, as I was emptying the bags, holding my breath because the dumpsters smell really bad, I could feel that someone was watching me. Looked to my right and about ten feet away a homeless guy was watching what I was doing. Finished, walked across the street wondering if he would go behind me and thinking about what exactly had been in the bags, and then watched him from beside a car. And he did, he went through it. In the end the only thing he pulled out was a small empty Coke bottle from back in November.

Not a good feeling at all. Really feeling my privilege and wealth right about now (particularly as I'm blogging about it). What to do.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

since i'm on a blogging roll

Figured I'd update on how my body's holding together.

Excited to say that my heart has only been weird once since I've left the States. Friday night it got to beating all funky again for a few hours, and that has been it. Big improvement, I'm hoping, since before it'd do it for stretches of two weeks. We'll see, but as I opted not to drug myself since they never figured out the cause, it's encouraging to see--or to hope--that something's working right. I've quit drinking soda and don't like coffee so the only caffeine I get is from hot chocolate. So yes, we shall see.

The cyst has been and continues to be asymptomatic, discovered courtesy of the untimely death of the Mighty Mazda. Hoping and expecting that to go on being the case.

And my car wreck baby. Or "the muffin-top without pants" as it was recently described. Still deformed, but shrinking more on the left and the not-hernia feels a lot smaller on that side. The question for now is if the adhesion will go away or not--this means it still looks like I've got a too-high (and now lopsided) c-section scar and even if the thing inside me absorbs completely, the adhesion might remain. Also it's still tender and still waiting on some sensation to return. But if it keeps healing at the rate it's going, I should be able to wear a bridesmaid's dress in July without looking too funky in the pictures. Not to be vain or anything... right? Also just as an aside, had a conversation with a friend recently about this and because it's sort of war-wound-y and there's a kind of morbid satisfaction in showing it off, it's cut a good amount of the would-be self-consciousness off at the knees. Thankful?

Anyway, all that to say that things are lookin' good, stayin' alive. Holler praise.

adventures from a class on old english

So I've been going through some old stuff on my external hard drive tonight and stumbled across what appears to be my very casual take-home final from probably my favorite class in college. I only ever actually took one linguistics class (Spanish phonetics--sadly there very few ling. classes and most were online) but did take Old English. As evidence to what a trip our professor was--he made us blame everything on 'the damn French' and 'the damn Yankees'--I present to you:

1. Schwa – When a vowel in a word goes schwa, over time it disappears because it is unstressed. In Old, Middle, and Modern English, emphasis has tended to be on the first syllable of a word so it’s often the second (or whichever is unstressed) syllable that disappears. Since Old English, we have lost parts of whole words because of this. For example, the old word for witch, wicca, lost the a because the a was unstressed and turned into what we now know as witch (spelling courtesy of the damn French).

2. Great Vowel Shift – the great vowel shift happened between the 15th and 17th centuries when all the sounds for vowels moved up in the mouth. For example, e went from /e/ to /i/. The vowels so high they couldn’t go any higher turned into diphthongs. The great vowel shift happened as English spelling was (slowly) being standardized so some spellings that made sense in Old English with the same pronunciation make Present Day English seem spelled funny (besides, again, the weird spellings the damn French put in).

5. Christianity – Christianity affected English greatly. For one, they were the ones writing down the language. English then was very unstable spelling-wise so writing it down helped to stabilize it some, make it more concrete. Also, it meant that readers of English were reading Christian texts, and much of what is still preserved is Christian. Also, Christian beliefs made their way even into the English language. I remember pudenda (as in impudent) being the Latin for genitals, which literally translated as ‘that which you should be ashamed of,’ which astounded me, and I also found really interesting.


10. (eth)inum: dative, plural, masculine/neuter
      ealdormannum: dative, plural, masculine
11. sealde: past tense, singular, 3rd person, weak I verb (long)
12. spearwa is nominative, singular, masculine, and hus is accusative, singular, neuter. The difference is that spearwa is the subject (and therefore nominative) and hus is the direct object. The (eth)aet in front of hus gives it away, as opposed to an in front of spearwa.
13. / h r [ash] l i
ç w /

That last bit is both way more familiar and way more foreign than it was in 2007. And at this point half of what I've written could be altogether wrong and I wouldn't remember, honestly. The really great thing about this class was that he had as read out loud from a book in Old English (so presumably at one point I understood the words in numbers ten through thirteen). We would translate later, or before, but weren't allowed as we went and it taught us to think in the  language, and it was definitely a foreign one. I remember rereading Surprised By Joy later and coming across the part where C. S. Lewis is made to do the same thing in Greek. I'm convinced by it, through and through. Can't imagine ever being able to learn a language if you're constantly having to translate it to yourself, so it's probably harder this way at first, but way more effective.

Anyway, such a fun find.

springing again

Spring is coming to Pitesti. So says the calendar and all the flowers we keep getting--but actually it was mild today, sixty two degrees at the warmest. Cool waking up weather.

Was reading Flannery O'Connor earlier which always makes me want to write. It makes me think of a friend I had in college and a precarious situation I found myself in this summer, one that still recalls yellow light and yellow wine. And anyway this weather reminds me of German summer. Standing between two blocs a few minutes ago looking up could have been the line of sky we followed through the woods and home.

We'd missed the last tram at nearly midnight--I hope I haven't written about this already--and what had already been a full and lively night became an adventure too. Since the tram didn't follow the streets and we weren't sure how to get back to where we were staying, we decided to follow the tracks, half of the twenty minute ride through the woods.

So we were blind for minutes, holding on to each other, walking in a line, singing out in all different languages. And then the tram appeared coming from the other direction and we had to hide in the trees, crouched down while it cut a line of light in the darkness. I don't think you walk away from something like that in East Germany without becoming thoughtful, without suddenly realizing you probably aren't the first to hide there hoping to go unnoticed.

Once it passed we were blind again, the sky the brightest thing by far, floating voices giving the only dimension not on the vertical. In the end we made it out. Wide smiles flung all between us, already remembering.

That's it, really. It was the first weekend and I was trying to pace myself so I went to bed, half the others obschatsya-ing. (I think it is this word in Russian: общаться. We made our own meaning out of the one we learned, and so for us it meant how we spent our evenings: hanging out, talking while drinking beer/wine.)

Anyway, just thinking. Spring number three, Romanian Spring the familiar one now, moderate continental weather. One of those nights miles away in it.