July 18, 2009 | Russian
It's starting to get to me.
Since I started this project, I have lost weight, but my blood pressure has soared. I felt nauseated yesterday and this morning—overwhelmed with Russian, it seems. Also, my ears hurt from my running headsets. Apparently my ears are built weirdly or are very delicate. I have been on a lifelong quest for good running headphones and still haven’t found them.
On the written-skills front, the grammar book I am using is Daphne West’s Teach Yourself Russian Grammar, published by McGraw-Hill. I am getting a lot of stuff wrong in the grammar exercises. And I do not like getting a lot of stuff wrong. In the past when I studied languages, in actual classes, I generally got a concept down fully before it would be time to move on to the next. With this project, though, I am racing. I have to accept that retention of the details will be poor. A lot of this project is simply about getting a sense of a given language’s structure, about broadening my notion of what a language can be and how it can work. To enjoy this, I have to give up the type of perfectionism that is so often a barrier to achievement.
One thing I realized tonight: I have studied six noun cases without knowing how to count to 10 or say, “My name is Ellen.”
I have to figure out how to live and study at the same time. Since beginning this project, I have stopped doing basic things such as cleaning and putting away my clothes. Our den at home has now become the Russian Den, and really, it is chaos, with CDs, books, unfolded clothes, papers, and the channel changer in a big heap on our loungy, hedonistic sofa.
I am now constantly on the lookout for Russians to see whether I can practice on them. Russians beware.