Thursday, March 4, 2010

In which I start to learn Danish!

I'm halfway through Chapter 1!!!! And I took four tests and 94% was my lowest score. So far I have learned numbers, colors, people, eggs, airplanes, flowers, and eyes. But apparently I can READ the vocabulary a lot better than I can pronounce it. Judging by Michael's giggles. Oh well. I'm quite pleased with myself. The way Rosetta works, it doesn't really teach you the words first and then test you. It starts testing you, and you use your logic to guess which picture goes with the word. Once you learn one word, it tests you on two, and you can identify the picture based on the word you do know. I'm not convinced this is a good way to learn a language but at least you feel progress is being made quickly. Still, I could probably not recite the numbers 1-10 right now nearly as well as I could recognize the words online. Wait here and I'll test, to, tre, fleur, fem, seyks, suyt, otte, ni, ti. I did IT! But I think I spelled them VERY poorly. I just checked with Michael and he says I spelled 4, 6, and 7 wrong. He can't remember how to spell 8, which I take some comfort in. If only Camilla were here!

It took me forever to get Rosetta installed on my computer. In fact, once I finally found the right disc, my drive stopped working and I thought it was a sign that I was doomed to fail for March. But, in fact, I did not. I did an hour and I have to tell you that being as competitive as I am, the test format was sort of like reading a good book where each chapter ends in suspense and you can't stop reading. I kept wanting to take another test! =) So I'm feeling pretty good about my progress there.

And speaking of great books you can't stop reading...last night was a GREAT night. Michael covered the dorm--on a VERY busy night--so I could go to a Jodi Picoult reading. She was AMAZING and I already started her new book and it's keeping me from getting enough sleep. She's a great reader and speaker (and writer, obviously) and she freaking reads all her own fan mail, even though she's had 16 best selling books and she writes one a year and does all her own research. She was so down to earth and funny and it made me want to be friends with her. It was kind of nice because Kerri hadn't read her before but luckily seemed to enjoy the reading as much as I did. Which was good, because I would have felt badly if I dragged her to it for our first time seeing each other after a year and a half and she was bored! We got there early enough to buy books and catch up a bit and I was struck again by the compassionate listening thing. Kerri is one of those people (like my gym buddy Melissa) and I knew that from the very beginning. The first time Kerri and I hung out was after a Self and Identity class at Harvard. We were both taking the class even though it was in another school outside of HGSE, and we went for tea on Church Street afterwards. It was so easy to talk, and we talked so intently and openly about our lives and thoughts that it was as if we had known each other forever. She's a very good and compassionate listener. It is a gift, and I am a little sad at myself that I'm just realizing it is something I want to do. And now that I say that, I realize I was actually really good at it in HS, but somehow did become a little more self-absorbed in my college and after years. hmmmm. Let's "unpack" that another night. It's getting late. In any case, I was on a total high when I came back from the reading (after getting my book signed!!!!) and I connected with two of the girls in the dorm about it, and one told me she loved how excited I was about it. It made me realize that as open as I think I am, I haven't really let these girls get to know me very well. That seems very silly. No wonder our connections aren't as deep as I've been thinking they were. I've been very colonialist about it all. The thing I learned most from the poetry program I did with teens for my thesis was how important it is not to have an agenda of "helping" them but rather just "being" with them. Which includes sharing yourself and seeing them, without pretense or judgment. Last night, this girl (we'll call her Clara) suddenly asked me if I am a writer. I grew instantly sheepish and told her I like to think I am, but that I haven't written much of substance yet. She and her friend asked if they could read something I wrote. Hmmm. Maybe I'll send them the essay/memoir I entered in the magazine contest last fall. I'll read it tomorrow and see if it's okay to send.

The other thing I realized...and AGAIN I already learned this lesson once...Alicia sits on the couch during dorm meetings. Michael and I stand. Which is a power thing, however subconscious. The thing that won over the poetry kids all those years ago was that I would sit on the floor (or a desk, or anything other than a chair) and read them my poetry. So last night, halfway through the meeting, I sat on the floor. It was weird, because we have 26 kids in the dorm and if I sit on the floor I can't see them all at once. Which is why I usually stand. But it's not really necessary. So next week, I'll sit.

We had our dorm parent review today. Sort of. It was more a talk about the survey results than a genuine review of our work over the year. And it was fairly reassuring about that part. Our boss is working on following up with the girls who made the strongest, most malicious statements and getting a better sense of what's going on. Meanwhile, Michael and I plan to address the feedback at the next meeting on Tuesday. I'm actually looking forward to it.

In any case, there were some good things and some frustrating things about the review, but I'll have to tell you about it another time because it takes a good deal of concentration to edit what's okay to share in a public forum and I don't have that kind of energy tonight. It's well after midnight and my Jodi Picoult chapter is calling my name.

go nat!

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