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LJ Idol IX - 6. Step On a Crack

A woman enters the theatre and presents two tickets to an usher. "You see", she mutters, gesturing at herself, "I do not fit into one chair, so." "Madam, it's all right", is the answer. "Only, it won't be easy for you: your seats are in different rows."

I am that woman. Oh, I do not need two tickets, even though the smaller seats in XIX-century-built theatres are a tight fit. In many other spheres, though, I have a foot here and another there, which can lead to connecting strangely useful facts, but most often it means having no deep knowledge anywhere and sometimes sometimes amusing or bizarre predicaments.

I. Law and Physics

I breezed through middle and high school and shone not in classes in a particular field but those taught by "good" competent teachers. When the time came to choose a career path, I did not know where to turn and took extra classes in law and history for a possible higher education in humanities, and at the same time, advanced maths and physics so that I could follow in my parents' footsteps and become an engineer. It was mostly chance that decided in favour of the latter: people and atmosphere were nicer in the second college. But every Thursday for a year before my admittance there, I had to slink early out of my law class only to be late for maths taught in another school across town.

Attempting to bridge the gap can bring embarrassment.

II. Reading, Writing, and Science Articles

I was, as it is called, born literate, and can pick out misspellings at a glance in every language I know. Punctuation, on the other hand, is a jungle where newly hewn paths to better knowledge quickly overgrow again. I read a lot, and love fanfiction, and I beta read some of the stories. You pick up things this way, formal education or no. Things that make you cringe reading professional literature in your field, cringe helping write articles, cringe and recoil at the "but they (readers, colleagues) will understand our slang anyway" attitude.

And you wonder if your picking at grammar and style is inconsequential. Finding typos in dictionaries is always fun though.

III. Russian and English

I have been learning English since before primary school. A dozen years later, it occurred to me that the only interlocutor that was always there to speak with me was myself. Thus started the epic process of saying anything and everything I could in my head in English. Big, small, clever, ridiculous, I said it over and over again until saying the same out loud when necessary became automatic. And there I fell into a trap. I got so used to playing verbal games and saying silly things in it that thinking through difficult topics is now also easier for me in English. Partly because it is easier to ignore various cultural taboos in another language, partly out of habit of talking to myself like this.

Tiresome though balancing with my feet over different crack and fissures may be, it is also even more scary to let one of the sides go.


( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 21st, 2014 08:53 pm (UTC)
ConCrit is welcome.
Apr. 22nd, 2014 12:40 am (UTC)
Perhaps it is too late to change it substantially, but I feel each of these vignettes feel somewhat disconnected. I see what the connection is. But would another reader?
Apr. 22nd, 2014 12:49 pm (UTC)
Hmm. Maybe I should have paid more attention to both sides in each part. In the third part especially may be not very clear.

As for the connection between the parts themselves, there really is not much of one and it is part of the point.

I have faith in my readers. :)
Apr. 22nd, 2014 12:59 am (UTC)
An excellent essay.
Apr. 22nd, 2014 02:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you :-)
Apr. 22nd, 2014 08:31 am (UTC)
I sort of feel the same way about Russian - I talk to myself in Russian a lot and it's easier to think about my feelings, there's more subtlety than in English, and there's privacy in it for me ... Though, I can't spell in Russian for shit. For certain words I'll confuse -ий and -ый endings every time despite the fact that I KNOWWW the word doesn't decline that way, and then catch it five minutes later and get mad.
Apr. 22nd, 2014 01:30 pm (UTC)
Lisa, is that you?

I know what you mean about privacy. :)
Apr. 22nd, 2014 11:00 am (UTC)
Can relate to this "Tiresome though balancing with my feet over different crack and fissures may be, it is also even more scary to let one of the sides go."...how true!
All the best for the balancing act...and sometimes tipping the scale is advisable and not really wrong I feel.
Apr. 22nd, 2014 12:54 pm (UTC)
Sometimes tipping the scale is natural even, more often the unwillingness to do so is frustrating.

Thank you!

Apr. 22nd, 2014 02:35 pm (UTC)
A great interpretation of the topic.
Apr. 22nd, 2014 02:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
Apr. 22nd, 2014 06:42 pm (UTC)
*hugs* You never really know when you're going to need the side you might let go, so you hesitate to do it. And, sometimes, knowing really odd facts is fun.
Apr. 24th, 2014 08:08 pm (UTC)
Sometimes it is, yes. Thank you :)
Apr. 25th, 2014 02:54 am (UTC)
You're welcome.
Apr. 24th, 2014 02:05 am (UTC)
I enjoyed reading this, thank you for sharing it.
Apr. 24th, 2014 08:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you for taking time to comment :-) I am glad you liked it.
Apr. 24th, 2014 03:48 am (UTC)
I know that feeling of straddling too many worlds. I wound up getting an undergrad degree in music, and a graduate degree in computer science. That pull between music, language, literature, math, and science makes it really hard to choose a single path!

The third point explains why you write so well in English-- it's more your 1.5 language than your second, by now!
Apr. 24th, 2014 08:46 pm (UTC)
It really is now. Thank you :)
Apr. 24th, 2014 09:14 am (UTC)
Finding typos in dictionaries is always fun though.

Not nearly as fun as finding them in menus. My wife will attempt to hide them from her editor husband if she sees the errors first.
Apr. 24th, 2014 08:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, menus. You should see the wild things the so-called translators sometimes come up with trying to translate dishes from Russian into English literally. :)

Apr. 24th, 2014 03:08 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this interpretation of the topic! I know the feeling about language. I'm not nearly as fluent in German as you are in English (and you've worked a lot harder at your English than I have at my German, by the sounds of it, so you deserve to be!) but there are times I have to say something in German. My host family's phone number, for example? I only know it in German. If I want to say it in English, I have to write it down to be able to do so.

I like having one foot here and one there, though. It makes for a far more diverse and interesting life :D
Apr. 24th, 2014 08:29 pm (UTC)
This does make you life diverse, but it stops being funny when you want to say something in your own language, and the first thing that pops up is a foreign phrase and then you feverishly look for the correct equivalent :)
Apr. 24th, 2014 06:33 pm (UTC)
I really love what you did with this topic :)
Apr. 24th, 2014 08:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Apr. 24th, 2014 07:30 pm (UTC)
I often feel the same way!
Apr. 24th, 2014 08:26 pm (UTC)
It's both a blessing and a curse, is not it? :)
Apr. 24th, 2014 08:30 pm (UTC)
I can identify. I always seem to like disparate things too.
Apr. 25th, 2014 12:03 am (UTC)
I like this thoughtful approach!
Apr. 25th, 2014 02:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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