Monday, January 23, 2006

I dream of dreaming in Italian!

It has been oft-repeated, as I endeavor and sometimes struggle to learn Italian, that I'll know I've reached a level of proficiency when I begin to dream in Italian. Needless to say, I'm still waiting for that day, er...night, to come.

I try reading Italian books in the evening, hoping that somehow the words will be infused into my subconciousness while I sleep. Instead, I dream of wandering Italy with stunted, confusing phrases emitting from my mouth while Bryan stands mutely behind me. Mostly I still have those annoying "channel changing" types of dreams. You know the dream that you're standing on a street talking to people and you're in your underwear feeling uncomfortable but nobody seems to notice your state of undress. And then the channel changes and you're in your childhood home, but you're in your current age and life situation and yet things are like they were when you were a kid. And just when you start to think, well that's odd, then the channel changes again. Or maybe it's just me. Strange dreams. In English.

Reading Italian stories and books is a good exercise, albeit one that consumes my time and my brain cells. I can usually complete about two pages a night, because I sit there with my dizionario and my book, looking up far too many words for timely progress. When I do hit a page that I can understand without reference material, I am elated. Dare I make it through an entire story, I jump from the chair exclaiming, YESSSS!!! Brava!!!, while tears of joy spring to my eyes. And then I feel exhausted from the brain strain.

And despite these efforts, still no dreams occuring in Italian. I have tried the CDs; the verb exercises; the Listen and Learn method, all for naught. I wish there was an Osmosis Method of learning a language, whereby I would sit in a yoga position with my eyes closed and the grammatical concepts and vocabulary would be poured into my brain. Alas, I'll have to continue with the Work Hard- Study Hard- Practice Method. This is a problem because I tend to remember a vocabulary word for about twenty seconds. Then I'll encounter the same word on the next page, grab the dictionary and look it up all over again. Bryan's memory skills are even worse. I'm contemplating whether Gingko may help with memory retention.

At least my Wednesday morning conversational class has resumed and I get to enjoy the company of others laboriously learning this language alongside me. There is some progress. Since I began this class last year I've learned two past tenses and am pretty well on my way to profiency in the future tense. This has opened up a whole new world of conversational possibilities!

But I still dream of dreaming in Italian. Someday.

copyright 2006 Valerie Schneider

Saturday, January 14, 2006

A Brief Interlude

The week started off promising enough. It was shaping up to be a pretty exciting and busy week, with work to do; Italian class starting again; physical therapy; a contest drawing to assist with...among other things. Yes, I was looking forward to many activities. And then it fell in the crapper when I came down with the nasty flu or cold thing -I'm never sure how to tell if it's a cold or a flu - that has been devastating New Mexico. Nary a citizen in the state hasn't been affected. Everyone has a sister/husband/child/self who has been afflicted with the virulent bug. I'm no exception; I'm one of the statistics.
Today's headline:

N.M. flu activity still ‘widespread’

"New Mexico is again one of seven states reporting widespread flu activity.

New Mexico remains on the list of the busiest states for the flu bug.
The Centers for Disease Control on Friday released the latest flu activity map. It shows seven states, including New Mexico, with “widespread” flu activity – the highest possible rating on the map. "

Great. I'm feeling, well, icky, but I won't bore (nor gross you out) with the details. Instead, I offer you this brief interlude in absence of an actual blog entry.

I entered two articles into an online contest on the Slow Travel website. One was selected as a winner and put into the prize drawing (yes, the prize drawing held today that I had looked forward to helping with.) In lieu of a blog post, I am giving you the links to my articles for your reading pleasure.

New Mexico's Indian Country (the winning entry)

Climbing the Family Tree in Basilicata's Hilltowns

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to make a hot toddy.

copyright 2006 Valerie Schneider