lydamorehouse: (yaoi)
As you know, gentle reader, I am attempting to teach myself Japanese. Currently, I've found a method that really seems to be working for me, the Pimsleur method. (I think it works because I am a HEAVILY auditory learner who needs a lot of repetition. There aren't even books that come with these CDs. It's 100% listen and repeat. EXACTLY what I like.) I bought the Pimsleur "Conversational Japanese" after having gotten half way through the library's copy, and then I took out Pimsleur's "Japanese: A Short Course." What's been fun is comparing these two.

My conversational Japanese is all about keeping it simple (and picking up the ladies, but that's another story), so for making chit-chat they taught me this:

Person A: O-genki desu ka? (You okay?)
My response: Genki desu (I'm okay!)

Japanese: A Short Course has the same set up, but uses different words.

Person A: Ikaga desu ka? (How are you?)
My response: Genki desu, okage-sama de (I'm okay, thanks to you.)

ISN'T THAT ADORABLE??  I absolutely love that the polite response to "How are you?" Is "Fine, THANKS TO YOU."  I suppose we have something similar in English in that you can sometimes say, "I'm fine, thanks for asking" and that's generally the same vibe here, but the -sama is a particularly polite honorific and I just find it super kawaii! (cute)

The other odd difference is that on the "Conversational" CD we learned to ask where the train station (eki) is.  On the "Japanese: A Short Course" I'm asking for the street (touri). From this I have surmised that the cool, hep cats take the subway and the dorky, stuffy "a short course" people are stuck walking the streets.... 

You will also note that I am exclusively using Romanji here.  That's because I am a loser and have not committed to learning any Hiragana or Katakana yet (don't even speak to me of Kanji.)  Honestly, this is about goals. My goals for learning Japanese is not to read it or write it.  What I want to do is be able to understand spoken Japanese and maybe be able to formulate a response if spoken to (very secondary goal, although the Pimsleur method is giving me a lot more confidence in that secondary goal.) So, Romanji works for me right now.  I do feel like a loser. Speaking of the cool kids, they all write in Hiragana or whatever.  I can recognize a few syllables, but put them together?  Nope, not yet.

lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
I don't remember the last time I called my congress critters.  I've been thinking it's probably time again. I don't want them thinking that we've lost faith, but I think I finally had that 'OMG I can't cope/too much' moment a couple of weeks ago. I need to pull myself back together and get back on the letters and postcards and phone calls.

The world isn't going to save itself.

The other thing I've slowed down on is my Japanese.  I didn't listen to my CDs at all while I was away in LaCrosse and, even though I've been back a couple of days already, I've not picked them up again.  I will have to throw the "Japanese: A Short Course" CDs I got from the library into the car's CD player so I can at least have something for the times when the radio sucks (which is kind always these days, I've noticed.)  

I have to head off to work in about 45 minutes.  Probably, since it's White Bear Lake, I should head off a little earlier than that, because the construction on Snelling has been a bear.  I worked last night at Roseville, which was busy (as usual) but fairly stress free.  They were still behind from Memorial Day weekend and so I spent the last two hours on the desk dashing back and forth between answering patron questions and helping the volunteers shelve the requests.  SO MANY requests.  On the flip side, I FINALLY got a copy of A Closed and Common Orbit, which I started reading last night.  I think I was #47 on the list... and I'm sure there's someone waiting for it after me.  

I watered the front and the new transplants a little bit this morning because I somehow, miraculously, have grass under the maple tree and I'd like to keep it alive.  Plus the little fuckers squirrels dug up one of the violet plants I carefully transplanted all the way from LaCrosse. So I had to replant yesterday, so I thought it could use a little boost of wet today.  It's actually supposed to be kind of HOT this weekend, so I think I'll finally be able to move my bonsai tree outside.  (*whispers* I can't believe I've managed to keep this tree alive this long. Normally, I suck at keeping anything resembling a houseplant alive....)

I'll close with a funny story from yesterday.  I have cash again because Mason bought a game using my PayPal account (he always pays me back in cash from his allowance).  As I do the moment I have "folding money" I stopped by my regular coffee shop, Claddagh, to get my morning infusion of caffeine.  The barista there said that she was thinking of me over the weekend because the coffeeshop team had a working retreat over Memorial Day.  One of the games they played was "try to name as many customers, their drinks, and one fact about them as fast as you can in five minutes."  Apparently, EVERYONE, every single barista there, named me.  They all remembered my drink and most of them remembered that I was a writer.  But, this cracks me up on a deep and profound level, because... yes, I'm THAT customer. Yet another sign that I am definitely not "from around here" was that Tim, one of the guys who is even MORE regular than me, was remembered only by half of them and most of them had trouble naming a fact about his life.  Tim is much more typically Minnesotan.  Personally, I could tell you several things about him: he plays Fall Out 4 on his phone, his son is the exact same age as Mason, loves to hunt, and has a dog named Chester.  But, see, that's because I'm THAT GIRL the one who talks to everyone about EVERYTHING.


I did joke though that I think I would have failed this quiz of theirs on their retreat because I am pretty sure I can only name about four of my barista.  I know the owner and Becky... but the woman who talked to me?  Maybe Molly?  There's a Lydia there and I know this because we talked about how I'm often called by her name and she is tattooed so I had to sing her the "Lydia, oh Lydia, Lydia the tattooed lady!" song.  But, the rest of them, even the ones who know me so well?  I would be hard pressed.

Now I have a new goal.  I need to learn all my barista's names.
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
 ...where I'm skeevily trying to pick people up.  

I don't know why this always seems to happen in the language CDs I'm learning from, but here I am on lesson seven and I am already asking:

Me: Nani ka nomumassen ka? (Wouldn't you like something to drink?)
Her: ii desu ne (Sure / it's okay) Doko de? (Where at? Basically: where should we go?)
Me: Watashi no tokoro de.  (my place.)

What the hell, language tape!  I am NOT THIS KIND OF GIRL.  

And I am not kidding you. Pimsluer is teaching me to ask, "At my place?" BEFORE TEACHING ME HOW TO ASK "at the restaurant?" Restaurant is literally "restaurant" in Japanese. It's a borrow word. Sure, you have to kind of say it in a Japanese accent, but C'MON!  Also, I'm apparently a little rapey, because the next conversation goes:

Me: Nani o nomumasu ka? (What would you like to drink?)
Her: Ah... so desu ne... wakarimassen. (Hmmm, let me see.... I don't know.)
Me: Wakarimassen ka? (You don't know?) O-sake? Biiru? (Sake? Beer?)

I can not believe I'm like, "You don't know?" What kind of jerk am I? Am I really shaming this nice woman about her being hesitant and indecisive? Then, I'm pushing the alcohol!??!  Why not kouhi? (coffee) Or o-cha? (Green tea, which, like sake, gets an honorific 'o' in front of it.)

On the other hand, I'm certainly learning all the super casual interactions and, because this method really seems to works for me in terms of how I'm learning and the amount of repetition, I'm remembering everything.  I was talking to a friend of mine who is also studying Japanese and she told me her flashcards are all very "Your company is very efficient!" and other such business-like transactions. I told her that I'm clearly studying to be a frat boy to her salaryman.  Suddenly I had this wonderful image of the two of us in Japan: me, trying to hustle the women on the train, and her, brokering the deal with Nissan.  She can get us reduced rates at the hotel; meanwhile, I'm making small talk with the receptionist at the hotel.... 

Weirdly sort of suits my personality. I mean, I hope I'm not rapey, but you know the sort of super-pushy aggressively overly friendly sort.. that's me.  As I told my friend, I already talk to strangers on the train. This isn't that far off. :-)

So what do you say? Watashi no tokoro de nani ka nomumassen ka?  (Wanna have drinks at my place?) 
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
 I suspect I had other resolutions earlier this year, but I've forgotten them.  I'm certainly not doing them, unless one of them was to try to do a little bit of gardening every decent-weather day.  Yeah, so that's the thing I'm trying to do this year. I'm really hoping it will stop my gardens from becoming their usual weed-infested, overgrown disaster areas.  It would be one thing if, when I let my gardens grow wild, they would become a haven for woodland creatures.  Somehow that doesn't happen. Somehow I just end up with a mess.

To that end, so far this year, I have spent probably a total of four hours on a couple of problem areas.  One, hardly anyone will see, but we have this pathway that leads from our backyard to the front.  It's usually completely ignored by me and becomes the place the weeds with the sticky burrs live. Then every time I take the garbage out and come back again, I have to pick those little sticky bastards off my sleeves.  WELL. A couple of days ago, I dug that whole area out and transplanted some hostas and day lilies and now my fingers are crossed that the predicted snow does not kill them.   

Today I spent an hour or so on the front hill. The front hill... when we first moved into this house we had lush, green grass growing down the hillside.  It was a really big pain to mow, but it was GRASS (something, it turns out, I have no skill in growing or maintaining.)  Now... now there's a lot of dirt and weeds.  Underneath the weeds are some hosta, so pulled out a lot of the weeds today and uncovered several hosta. A few were big enough to split and a couple were in places where they were going to get smothered out--so I moved some stuff around.  I'm hoping this will help things look intentional.

The second resolution is that I'm going to try to learn more conversational Japanese.  I did NOT start this year out well in that regard as I have had to drop out of my community education class, however, I did find a REALLY GREAT set of language CDs at the library which I'm listening to while I do the dishes/make dinner/other housework.  I love these CDs because they're actually teaching me some useful phrases ("I don't understand Japanese being the FIRST THING THEY TAUGHT ME) and they keep bringing up the things you learned in earlier lessons on heavy repeat.  I actually, for once, feel like I'm retaining some of this information I'm learning.  That's a HUGE step forward in the language department for me. Because I can't otherwise seem to retain information. I told Shawn that I'm going to have to buy this particular brand of language CD.  

I should probably resolve to write fiction, too, but sometimes I feel like I should give up.  :-(
lydamorehouse: (ichigo adorkable)
 Just when you think the editing process is over, it isn't.

Rachel and I are STILL going through the book version of School for Wayward Demons (now with help from a third beta reader, my friend Josey).  But, in the mean time, you can keep reading here:  "Broken but Strong."

On the flip side, I do think we'll get through it by the 30th, which is our deadline to get it off to the professional copy-editor as part of the whole trying to have a book-type thing before MarsCON 2015.  This is all very crazy, honestly.  But, it's been a ton of fun and... we'll call them "learning experiences."

In other news, I started Intermediate Japanese on Tuesday night.  It's being taught by the same instructor, Tetsuya-sensei.  It's pretty much all women, except this one guy (Mint, who I will forever think of as Mint-san), all of whom took it before.  Also, most of them have actual plans to go to Japan, Idyel-san is actually leaving for Tokyo before the class is over.  So it was kind of amazing that, when we were asked to introduce ourselves to the ONE new student, I was the only one to have practiced full introductions. I seemed to be the only one who studied at all during the break.  Which only underscores for me that 1) otaku rule and 2) learning something for fun is far better motivation that even NEEDING TO KNOW IT BECAUSE YOU ARE GOING THERE.

Yesterday I had a wicked headache.  It was so bad that even after medicine and a bath, I really didn't even feel up to reading, my eyes hurt that much, so I plugged into my account and listened to several more Japanese language instruction podcasts. In fact, I learned an easier way to say "Please repeat."  Tetsuya-sensei taught us, "Mo ichido itte kudasai" which isn't terribly hard, but the podcast's version was shorter and had no real verb, which I appreciated: "Mo ichido onigaishimasu."  Which is basically the difference between, "Say it again, please." and "Again, if you would." And believe it or not, considering how often you are expected to say that super-long looking word, "onigaishimasu," it's actually much easier to say that than to verb, as the kids might say these days.  And just like in my English version, the second phrase more compact and feels less cumbersome.  So that was a cool revelation.

The only problem with listening to the podcasts right before bed is that the migraine relief aspirin stuff I took had a dose of caffeine, so I slept really fitfully for the first couple hours, and I kept drifting in and out of consciousness repeating these phrases and the more irritating one, "O-genki desuka?" over and over and over.


Anyway, I'll be ready to ask someone how they are... :-)

lydamorehouse: (Default)
I write so many things these days I'm sure it's hard to follow along, but, if you ARE following the School for Wayward Demons (looking at you, Frank G.) there is a new chapter up:  Gabe Sees Demons... And They See Him. Today's story is the introduction of one of "my" characters, Gabe Herrara.  The story also features art by Alexis Cooke:


If you didn't know, we actually have TWO artists working on the School for Wayward Demons.  So far, you've mostly seen the work of Mandie Brasington, but today, we not only get Gabe's debut, but Alexis' too.  This is just a small bit of a large piece I'm sure we'll see later on.

Anyway, I need to report that Glory is still alive.  I did try to take pictures of him, as I promised, but he's very concerned about that OTHER Siamese Fighting Fish that he can VERY CLEARLY SEE IN THAT REFLECTION, so he's always darting around trying to scare that troublesome dude away (my, but he is a handsome devil, though....)

In other news, today was super-busy. I worked from 9 to 1 at the Roseville Library.  I'm there today and Thursday shelving... it's all to see if I can continue to pass the numeric and alphabet quiz.  I guess I did well with the fiction, but I don't know how I did with the non-fiction because I had to leave before John had a chance to double-check my work.  Two things, I discovered today.  1) When allowed to work at my own pace, I shelve about a cart an hour, except non-fiction which takes me an hour and a HALF.  2) Yeah, I can see why John is testing people.  While shelving I came across a couple of books that were out of order.  I left notes for John saying, "Hey, I spotted this but didn't move it."  Because I wanted him to know that the problem was decidedly NOT ME.

Oh, and another thing, their adult graphic novel section needs me.  Badly.  But, because it was quiz day, I could not spend the time organizing that.  The problem, frankly, isn't entirely the shelvers fault.  The problem is the way comic books are read and the way the librarians want things organized (which makes FAR MORE sense to a reader of graphic work than it would to your average shelver, who doesn't.)  BECAUSE how it's organized is first by manga, then (and this is different at Roseville) by general non-titled graphic work, and then by collected series (ala Batman, Spider-Man, etc.)  So that people can know what is collected and what is NOT, there is a handy list, which I consult regularly because (of course) it's different at each branch (kind of. Mostly it's the same, but the collect somethings I wouldn't think to and don't collect some I think they ought, so I always double-check.)

Anyway, that was my work day.

THEN I drove right to pick up Mason, even though it was hours early, so I could sit in the car and study my Japanese, which I have to leave to go to in about ten minutes.  Our instructor quizzes us every week.  And I'm that student, so I'm highly motivated to try to get as many right as possible.  The only problem this week is that Mason didn't have swimming due to the MEA (or whatever the teacher conference thingies are called) and so I didn't get my usual practice in on Saturday morning.  I crammed today.  Thus, I have a feeling this time it isn't going to go as well as numbers, time, and counting did.

TBF, the previous week was HARD.  This week we mostly learned how to ask where things might find themselves, like, "Sumimassen, kaisuiyokujo wa doko desuka?" (Where is the beach?)  To which I've also learned ridiculously unlikely answers such as, "Kaisuiyokujo wa koko ni arimasu." (The beach is here) and "Kaisuiyokujo wa asoko ni arimasu." (The beach is over there.)

I'm pretty sure if I asked, "Sumimassen, yakkyoku wa dojo desuka?" (Where is the pharmacy?) I would get a complicated answer that might start, "Whoa, dude, you are so LOST...." and possibly end with "Holy crap, you puked on my shoe!  Do you have ebola or something??"

Which, again, is why I wish I could write my own Japanese how-to class exercises.

lydamorehouse: (Default)
 The new chapter/installment for School for Wayward Demons is up: 

In this chapter, Theo's breaking & entering is starting to have consequences.  People are after her.  But who will get to her first?  The good guys or the ones who want to kill her?

Check it out, if you're so inclined.

There will be more news later tonight because the Bleach chapter came out early.  Mason and I will be podcasting this evening.  We've kind of given up being perfectly timely, especially since I had to work at Roseville last night.

I thought I should also give you an update about my Japanese class.  If you've been following the story, you know that I asked the instructor (Tetsuyo) if Mason could join.  There was some hemming and hawing because Mason is significantly younger than the cut off age of 16, but he said Mason could certainly try it and, if nothing else, could audit.  Mason and I spent much of last week getting ready to knock Tetsuyo's katsushita (socks) off with all the Japanese we'd memorized.  So, around came Tuesday night and Mason I bundled off together, quizzing each other all the way...

...only to get turned away by the two administrative people who sit guard.  

Apparently, they asked after Mason further up the pike and the administration came down with a HARD NO.  The email one of the women showed me made it sound like somehow having a child in the class would destroy the "adult" experience, but just looking at that my first inkling was that there had to be some deeper story here, like maybe they just didn't want to get into the habit of letting kids in, because then there'd be a precedent.  

I was only cranky because no one told me BEFORE I showed up with kid in tow, and having him sit in the hall seemed 1) AWFUL and 2) stupid, given that he had homework to do at home.  As I dithered the ladies apologized for not contacting me... kind of.  One of them asked, "Are you registered for the class?" (to me.)  I gave her a look.  "What?  Are you kidding?  OF COURSE."  She says, "What's your name?"  I said, "Lyda." Then the two women get this look, which they exchange sort of guiltily with each other.  "Oh," the other one says, "T kept saying Lyda."  

They apparently can't cope with saying Tetsuyo.  (Any anime fan who has seen Akira can handle this name, btw.  It's not THAT hard.)

But, I'm not even horrified by that yet.  I said back, "Yeah, that's because THAT'S MY NAME."

One of the women say, "I looked on the list, but I thought that said Lydia."

Right, I thought silently, because you can't cope with a simple name like Tetsuyo, so CLEARLY THAT PERSON CAN'T SAY LYDA CORRECTLY AND GOD FORBID SOMEONE BE NAMED SOMETHING YOU'RE NOT EXPECTING.

I say, snippily, "Well, It doesn't.  My name isn't Lydia, it's Lyda.  Just like the instructor said."

On that note, I left.

I ran into the instructor, Tetsuyo, in the parking lot and told him I was going to have to drop Mason off, but I'd be back, only probably quite a bit late. He asked what was wrong, why Mason wasn't staying, but all I managed to tell him was that the administration said Mason couldn't attend.  I mean, to be fair, writing this now it's all processed in my head, but at the time I was feeling all the FEELS, and most of them were WTF.  I AM DISAPPOINTED AND ANGRY AND HAVE NO WORDS.  

To be very, very honest, I was far more bummed not to have Mason able to take the class than I think Mason was.  So, I actually spent much the car ride home and back to class again being SAD.  Mason and I had practiced so hard.  I'd had this wonderful plan to surprise Tetsuyo by having Mason introduce himself properly with bows and everything.  It was going to be cute.  Now it was not, and I was sad.  And the whole thing about "T" and them not able to cope with my name was floating around in there feeling cranky and not quite knowing why, you know?

Class itself was fine, once I was back and in the groove.  We were talking about money (and later counting), but Tetsuyo and I have this funny thing about me being the Anime fan in the class. He's clearly NOT an Anime fan. I think he's especially annoyed by it because it's a connection a lot of people taking his class have to Japan.  Probably it'd be like going to Japan and having everyone wanting to talk about something you hate, like American football.  And like not really GETTING that it's not your thing, and going on about favorite teams and players, etc.

Anyway, I mostly don't mention it, but he was asking the class if any of us knew what the significance of the chrysthanimum (sp) is?  I said, "It's the flower of the Imperial House."  Then we get to the cherry blossom. I wait, hoping I'm not the only one, but then I say, "It's the national flower of Japan."  Tetsuyo looks surprised and asks, "Lyda-san, how do you know all this?"  I smile and say, "Anime."

He just shakes his head.

After class he asked me to stay and I learn that he's heard that the policy about not having kids under 16 is a result of some bad apple or another using Community Ed. as cheap babysitting.  That makes sense to me. I mean, Mason wouldn't be like that, but if people have abused this in the past, being firm about the age limit is suddenly far more understandable.  I told him it was fine.  (At this point I was WAY more calm) and I understood policy is policy.  He confessed to me that one of the other student is actually underage and he only found out because he got curious, given that Mason might be joining the class.  He found out this other student is only 15.  She was supposed to wait to sign up.  OR someone made an exception for HER. He was not happy with this, if only because it seemed that much more unfair to Mason.  Again, I told him it was fine.  Mason wasn't nearly as upset as I was.  I was bummed to be losing a study buddy who could have helped with an 'ear' to pronunciation, but he was still keen to learn and would keep learning from me, at home.

I think this actually made Tetsuyo sadder that he couldn't let Mason in, but I told him that Mason would sign up as soon as he was able.  Maybe, he'd even be able to join me in a later, more advanced class, if possible.

So, it kind of all worked out.  I still think it's a shame the way the two desk ladies gave me the news, especially given their weird issue with unconventional/unusual names.  But whatever.

I'll learn how to tell them to fuck off in Japanese and it will be my great revenge.  

lydamorehouse: (Default)
 Though I may possibly be the most annoying student in the history of students.  TBF, I'm the kind of student I love to have.  I'm engaged, willing to interrupt, ask lots of questions, and am generally 110% present and participating. HOWEVER, this tends to result in moments like last night....

Shimano-sensei: We have two words for the number four in Japanese yon, and shi.  But we rarely say shi because it's extremely unlucky.
Class: baffled silence, waiting for more information.
Me:  You should tell them why.
Shimano-sensei: (looking vaguely shocked) Yes.  Shi is the same sound as death.
Me: (to my neighbor, there are only eight people in the class): Also don't give gifts of things that are in the number of 4, like 4 plates."
Shimano-sensei: Oh yes, that would be VERY bad.
My desk neighbor: Really?  Wow.

The almost identical conversation hits when we reach number nine: kyū/ku (only difference is, of course, that this one means agony/suffering.)

Our instructor was born in Japan, but has lived here since college.  So, I don't know if he was building up dramatic pause before revealing or just not going to tell us.  But, we're a bunch of impatient Americans, so you know... I AM THE NAIL THAT STICKS UP THAT WILL BE HAMMERED DOWN.

Also?  Who says fan fic teaches you nothing!????!!!

But, as annoying as I am, I can not be as bad as Nancy-san who basically told Shimano-sensei not to try to explain Japanese language in terms of English, because clearly we don't actually say things the way he thinks we do.


BUT, I totally bulled Shimano-sensei into letting Mason audit the class. So my aggressive personality for the win.

lydamorehouse: (Default)
In a minute I'm going to change into my painting clothes and go paint our fence.  It's already green, so I'm re-painting it green...which may seem like an odd choice.  I can't quite remember why we thought this was a good idea in the first place.  I do remember painting it the very first time many, many moons ago and our next door neighbor saying from her second story porch (just loud enough for me to hear), "Tsk, those Micks will paint anything green."  

This is not as random as it may seem.  

She apparently thought we were Irish due to the bumper sticker on my car at the time which read, "26 + 6 = 1" (which is a reference to the partition of Ireland and my personal politics.)  And you know, we painted our porch green too... so she might have had cause to think we had some kind of weird love of the color green. And, god knows, I might have been blasting Irish music while painting, too, so... not as odd an assumption as you might think, given that I'm Czech and Polish and German.  

When I was talking to Naomi about this last night at Wyrdsmiths, we stopped to wonder what a Czech or Polish or German person might paint a thing if they were feeling particularly patriotic.  Turns out, red would work for all of them.  But, I'm not painting everything red.  I mean, it DOES still kind of suit my politics, but you know., then the neighbors would have to be all, "Tsk, those Commies will paint anything red!"

In un-related news, I was going to see if I could find a Japanese language 'tape' to listen to while outside painting.  I may just have to listen to music (oh noz!) but it would be nice to reinforce my Japanese.... because, damn, I feel far too old to be starting a new language.  Though, as a bonus, I've been listening to my "John Learner" tapes in the car again.  What is funny is that, of course, what I remember best is the English and I find myself, not so much listening to learn the language, as making up crazy stories about the life and adventures of John Learner.

This is what I mean about too old.  The Japanese just bounces off me and I'm off in my imaginary world with fictitious John Learner.


Speaking of things Japanese, though, I signed Mason and I up for Anime Detour.  We are now officially attending together!  That should be great fun.  I'm really looking forward to it.

Okay, I should stop stalling.  There is a fence to paint!

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