Day 109 - Broken Momentum

Thursday, May 26th, 2016
Smog Level: 1/3 Mountains


It’s nearing the end of the month, which means that the monthly test is sneaking up. My first class has had most of what they need to be ready, while the other has still not been given their recitation piece. Shit. They need to know it and take the test by the end of this month.

We run through it a few times, and I vainly try to help them by breaking down the rhymes. It’s not getting through, and they keep stumbling on the word “preacher” which is immediately after “teacher.” Good luck, kids!

Small Bravery

I ask for volunteers on who wants to try reading it out loud, and no one has the balls. No one.. except Henry. I’ll give that kid props for the times he randomly sticks his neck out. He performs it, and does well. In order to encourage others to do it, I start a round of applause after he finishes. Well look at that, now every other keener’s interest is piqued. Clamoring over each other to read this lame poem.


At lunch, I realize how much I’m actually craving Western food. It’s been over three months,* and I’m starting to want a burrito. And by starting to want it, I mean I keep bringing it up over the course of lunch and decide that’s what I’m going to be doing this Saturday.

Broken Momentum #1

Just like the first day back to work, I don’t want to go to mandarin class. It’s like going to the gym, both of them. You got a good streak going, but then something knocks you off. First day you decide to go back, you’ll magically invent lots of fictional reasons why you don’t think it’s a good idea today. So, obviously, I force myself to go.

Mandarin Class

Mountains on the Good Days
Today, she’s giving a test. Great. A week off, and I’m reminded how much I suck straight off the bat. Well, at least it’s humbling. That, and I know my weakness: It’s my goddamn ear. I get 11/14 on the single words, but can barely figure out what she’s saying when going through a dialogue. It doesn’t help that Alex is the only other student, already took the test, has better mandarin than me, and (to me) appears to be annoyed at how many times I need to hear each sentence. I can relate with my weaker students.

But hey, knowing my weakness, I can start to come up with a plan of attack. Easy enough would be to listen to Chinese music, listen to a recording of all their consonant sounds, and watch chinese movies. I’m pretty sure just hearing them speaking - even without focusing on it directly - helps with your brain learning to register it. I hope, at least.

No words have reached the point of being automatically understood. Every word requires thought, and slows me down. I consistently miss the picture the sentence is painting, focusing on the trees instead of the forest.

Broken Momentum #2

I get back home and don’t want to work on anything. Goddamn, taking time off is painful.

I don't know what this guy is doin', but he's out here
fairly often, messing around with this mesh thing.
Mosquito net, maybe? I always assumed he was
making it, rather than untangling it.
I publish daily. That means I have to take notes, write, and edit regularly while taking pictures throughout every day. Most of that fell to the wayside (except some editing) for a week and now I find it keeps slipping my mind to take notes, or I’m hesitant to want to do it, even though it helps me in the long run.

Writing has been fine-tuned now that I can rip through a number of days quickly, without having to think too much, and in a way that it comes out semi-polished… yet I resist starting. Back when I first got into blogging, I’d mentally puke onto the page and not think about editing, leave things in complete disarray, and punishing my editing-self. Stupid. After getting back into it for a few months, you’d think it’d be second nature to want to sit down and do it. Nope, still isn’t. Procrastination is always a temptation, even though it usually only gives you a temporary, uneasy break.

Gym Going

At the gym, I see a guy deadlifting, blocking the most busy area of the gym. He’s really making a big show of it, and his friend sure seems impressed. He’s deadlifting the amount I bench, and my bench sucks.** Maybe I went to decent gyms back home, but I rarely saw people make such a show this often.

Intimidating Presence

Back in my apartment building, they’re finally installing lights in the main lobby of the building. Still the clap-on ones, but it’s better than standing in near-darkness at night. Actually, I don’t mind darkness, but sometimes I seem to make random other residents uncomfortable simply by standing there.

Moral of this long-winded post: Start a habit, and fight tooth-and-nail to avoid taking a day off. It can easily lapse into several days. Avoid rationalizing days off.

*Supposing I haven't screwed up the day count. When I started counting Australia and including the dates, I was way off and it took a fair bit of work to correct for them.
*FYI, Deadlifting is supposed to be one of the most powerful lifts, far overpowering bench.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
juǎn bǐng
[joo-ahn bing/bee-ung]
yǒng gǎn

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