Posts Tagged ‘frustration’

Well folks, it’s been about a month since I walked away from Chadron State College with a Bachelor’s degree in Literature with a minor in music. I’ve done what few others in my family have managed to do. I should feel proud, shouldn’t I? Shouldn’t I feel like I’ve accomplished something?


To be honest, rather than feeling accomplished, lately I’ve been feeling tired. It’s as if 4 years worth of determination and hard work emptied out of me and left my old bitter self behind. People ask me about grad school. People ask me about a career. I have no answers for them.

What I want to do is jump up on the table and scream at the top of my lungs: “I don’t fucking know, okay?! I’ve done nothing but take tests and write papers for the last 16 years of my life, so how the fuck am I supposed to have it all figured out? I don’t even know where I’ll be next Tuesday, let alone 5 goddamn years from now, so get off my fucking back!”

I don’t do that though. I mention writing. Getting a decent job. I say what I think will give me the least amount of pain in the ass explanations and lecturing. You’re told all through high school to go to college, that you’ll amount to nothing otherwise, make no living for yourself. You finish college and you get a slap on the back and a “well, that’s nice!”


I’m tired of my efforts being seen as a “good start.” I’m tired of my band not being taken seriously or considered a priority. I’m tired of my writing being rejected by all but the same 2 publications. I’m tired of people having phones for the express purpose of ignoring them. I’m tired of classic literature, I’m tired of Jazz elitists, I’m tired of the ignorance of news media and conservative Christians, ladies and gentlemen, quite frankly I’ve had my fucking fill of the world today.

I told myself I would take this summer to work on my writing, and I haven’t. It’s completely my own fault. I discovered a bad habit that I’ve taken on. I only “feel like” writing when I’m in a shitty mood. This is pretty counterintuitive to wanting to be able to write every day. My guitar sits lonely in the corner because I feel like picking it up, trying to learn something new with it is just a wasted effort. I’m going to be disappointed in the results, be them from me or from others.

Maybe I’m just bitching. Maybe I’m just in a funk. Is post-grad depression a thing? I don’t intend on feeling this way forever. Frustration isn’t a good look on me. Do I feel like shit because I haven’t done anything new, or have I not done anything new because I feel like shit?




You know how simple it is to draw a box? You don’t even think about it. You just kinda do it, and it’s on the page. It’s the same way with the English language. By now, it’s so common to you, letters just kind of spew out. If you had to describe to someone how you make the characters, you’d have to slow down, and you’d probably draw it wrong at least once. Isn’t that strange?

When tackling a lot of other languages, like German, French, Spanish, etc., they’re greatly Latin based, and use the same if not a mostly similar alphabet to ours.

Chinese does not give a fuuuuuuck about your predispositions to drawing characters.

fuuuuck God whyyyyyyyyy

For my homework this week, I had to copy down a set of Chinese characters five times each, and practice their pronunciations with each copy. I learned two things here:

1) Stroke order matters. Not ultimately, no, but if you don’t want to look like a child or a bumbling foreigner, it’s best to get the right order of mystery lines.

2) Keeping a monotone syllable in a word is hard. Seriously, try to say something with no inflections. You practically sing it. Shit is difficult.

If you can make anything out from this image, right around the 4th to 5th character in each line, they start looking a little better. Kind of. Stillllll pretty sketchy.

I already found myself asking about grammatical order of words and how to ask certain questions, though. My teacher was pleased with my curiosity, but I also jumped myself ahead several steps and had to slow her down when she got excited about grammar in Mandarin. Though, I have noticed similarities to the grammatical set up of Chinese with other languages. In French, when describing words, the adjective comes after the subject. The blue car isn’t the blue car, it’s car blue. Chinese is somewhat similar. alex bellink

Photo CC-by Alex Bellink, pertinent ’cause frustration, and also I need to fold my laundry

I learned something about myself as a learner. I, rather than be corrected and shown the correct way to do something, would rather have it explained to me, attempt to emulate it, and then be shown when I fail miserably. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Even to me, that seems kind of silly. Wouldn’t it just be easier to be shown the first time how to do it properly, then repeat?

I also discovered (spoilers: already knew) that I bitch and moan the entire way through a painful process. I’ll see it out to the end every time, I’m not a quitter, but jeezus will I kick and scream the entire way. I’m like the troubled student from a TV show with a heart of gold: angry, scary, stand-offish exterior, but you’re getting through to him somehow.

For now, I’m just doing the necessary woodshed work. Repetition is key. I can try my hand at sentence structure and grammar all I want, but if I can’t write the words, that doesn’t mean a damn thing!


Metaphorically speaking, of course. I can’t swim, so taking a plunge would be a bad idea. Today, I cracked open “New Standard Chinese, Elementary Level, Book 1” with little to no background information, annnnnd…

it was a disaster.

mike behnken

Photo CC-by Mike Behnken, a neon-flavored Shanghai for your day

Okay, so maybe disaster is a bit much. I definitely had a humbling with my beginning lesson, in the sense that I expected to be able to crack the book and hit the ground running. I hit the ground and subsequently face-planted.

After being dusted off by my teacher, the internet proved helpful on both the front of the educator and the learner. With the help of one Fiona Tan on YouTube and some basic ground coverage on beginning Chinese tonal inflections in words (as well as how to read them) we were off to the races.

The rest of Lesson 1 consisted of practice with a whiteboard in actually drawing Chinese characters – because that’s what it is to me. It’s not writing. It’s drawing. To me, they’re images. They’re symbols that stand for something else, but then again, isn’t that all language?

Fun fact: Chinese is an ultra-tonal language. The same letter can mean 4 different things given the proper inflection. There’s an entire poem consisting of the phrase “shi” (pronounced shuh) floating around on YouTube. Needless to say, tone is everything, and I’m pretty bad at not making every word I say in English come out like I’m a sarcastic asshole.

Wonder why.

liz west

Photo CC-by Liz West. Get it? 

Once my lovely educator got through my thick skull, I felt as though I was picking up basics pretty quickly. I’m not going to put the cart in front of the horse or anything, but the endeavor doesn’t seem quite as hopeless as it did an hour prior. I already have homework, even! Yeesh. I can already tell though that between the two of us, I’m more cut out to be a learner than a teacher. I feel encouraged by my teacher, and can tell she’s passionate about the topic. She squeals when I get things right and has the utmost patience while I struggle. I wish I could say I was as easy to deal with.

I briefly considered having my independent learning project be “be a better teacher,” but I was unsure how I would really structure that. I don’t have any consistent avenue to teach in, except to torture my own poor teacher with writing / music lessons. I know I’m passionate about the educational system and how people turn out because of it, so maybe I’m passionate enough to teach, but I just have no clue. This’ll be a good opportunity for me to learn how to stay humble and stay patient with myself, as well as with my teacher. I’m the kind of person who likes to just be good at something without the crippling self-doubt and failure in the middle. Despite my advocacy for failure as a learning tool, I am, indeed, still afraid of it, because that’s how society hard wires us.

Regardless, I’m excited to see where this heads. Considering that my teacher lived for a year in China, and is (for some reason) inclined not to bash my brains in when frustrated, I think the only weak link in this whole mess will be me.

Here’s to hopin’ we can fix that.


(Addendum: also, here’s a picture of said teacher’s Chinese book from China, complete with her doodles. She’s gonna be super mad that I put this in here.)

chinese book