spock: logic is sexy

That question meme

I am totally hiding from my Big Bang...

The problem with LJ: we all think we are so close, but really, we know nothing about each other. So I want you to ask me something you think you should know about me. Something that should be obvious, but you have no idea about. Ask away.

Actually, I like to think that I know some of you quite well, and you actually know me quite well also. So I crossed out the first part. But the rest of the stuff about asking questions is good. I can't really think of anything I wouldn't answer, except, like, my real name or my address, which no one was going to ask anyway.
Not where you live exactly, but the general vicinity?

Or, alternately, where you would live if time and money were no object.
I live in a small city in the Midwestern USA. (If you want a more specific location, PM me - I had a cyberstalking issue on my personal LJ, and I'm super super paranoid about naming my city in public now.) It is honestly not my ideal place to live, but the school where I teach is irreplaceable, so I would not actually be willing to move. Unless "time is no object" means I could beam to work or something, in which case I would move to Baltimore or Chicago or New York posthaste.

(And thank you for the story on the picture prompt meme! I am going to leave better feedback when not entirely exhausted and inarticulate, but I did want you to know I saw it and appreciated it :)

Edited at 2011-09-22 03:05 am (UTC)
Nope, small city in the Midwest is perfect. :) I tell people all the time that I live in a "Desert State" which could likewise be several. :)

(You're welcome; there's a story behind it taking so long but I'll wait to share. :) but somehow I knew you needed fresh stuff today.)
I really loved Baltimore when I visited it! I can't really even put my finger on why; it was just a city I felt I connected with. It was walkable, the food was good, I found lots of interesting things to do and some incredibly friendly people. It was much less overwhelming and anonymous than New York or Tokyo. I'm sure living there might have been a bit less desirable than hanging out and eating things, but it made me wish I could try living there for awhile.
The food is definitely good—I was just discussing this with some people the other day. I'd say that Baltimore and New Orleans are probably two of the best food cities I've been to, and probably the two best seafood cities.

Actually, one of my major problems with Baltimore is that it isn't very walkable/bikeable, at least not on a citywide basis—I live about 5 miles from where I work, but I don't feel safe biking home at night because of a couple of the neighborhoods I have to pass through (one of which has the highest murder rate in the city). In one neighborhood I lived in, I didn't feel safe leaving my house after dark. A lot of blocks are mostly or completely abandoned. Certain areas are walkable, but not the city as a whole, which was a huge downside for me after living in NYC.
Actually, I do mean to ask for an address where I can send you a package, but that's in reference to the winter cooking project discussion elsejournal.

My real question is, how many languages do you know? I'm fascinated by languages but am a sad monolingual.
Know is such a difficult term when it comes to languages. If I hadn't taught English as a second language, I would never have guessed how many levels of 'knowing' there are! And, to be honest, I'm not sure how well I know any of these languages now. It's been two years at least since I've had the chance to speak them frequently, longer for some of them. I like they're still living in the back of my mind, ready to be come back with the help of a few native speakers and a grammar book though. Anyway, the list, in order of proficiency...

1. Spanish. The only language I've ever felt fluent in, although I never reached a point where I could have discussed literature or thorny political issues or anything like that. But I studied it off and on all the way through school, and then after I graduated from college, I spent two and a half months backpacking South America by myself in the middle of winter. There were few other tourists, and very few people in the countries I visited spoke English, so I got lots of practice. Sometimes I dreamed in Spanish. Sometimes I watched TV in Spanish and forgot I was listening to another language. Sometimes I couldn't figure out why I understood people, and then I realized it was because I no longer needed to mentally translate what they said. Those days felt like flying, and I'd dearly love to have that sensation again.

2. Russian. Not my favorite language, and trying to read other alphabets hurts my head. But the people I met in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan were extraordinarily friendly and extraordinarily patient with my rudimentary language skills, so I got surprisingly good at navigating getting-to-know-you conversations. I have never even seen a Russian textbook though, so I'm sure my grammar was absolutely appalling!

3. Czech. If I could pick any language to speak fluently, it would be this one. Zmrzlina! Smrt! Vrch! No other language has words like that. I learned it when I did a semester in Prague, and the words just sort of fell into my head and stayed there. The people were understandably weary of tourists, so I did not get a lot of conversation practice, but I got very good at little transactions like buying bus tickets and such. I think I could have learned a lot if I could have stayed longer.

4. Japanese. I do not get along with this language well. Before I lived in Japan, I had not realized how much I depended on reading to learn languages. I probably learned half my Czech just from paying attention to advertisements in shop windows. But Japanese has two alphabets plus the Chinese characters, and it takes people about 10 years of hard study to become functionally literate. I really did try, and I did a decent job ordering in restaurants and buying train tickets and such. But every word I learned was a hard-fought battle.

That is probably way way more detail than you wanted! It was just a question that demanded a good answer, you know?

Edited at 2011-09-22 05:21 am (UTC)
Actually, this is more than I dared hope for and wonderfully what I wanted! You conveyed the textures of learning different languages, a detail I'm always hungry for. Thank you for answering my question so fully. *beams*

I only managed to think in Latin a few times, and I was always so delighted when I did. (It was usually when I was reading dirty poetry. Yay Martial!) And now it's all gone, damn early puberty.
Since I don't feel I know you very well yet, I'm pleased to have a chance to ask a question. So here it is -- what fact (that you feel comfortable revealing, of course) do you think a person who just met you would be most surprised to learn about you?

(PS -- How's the samhain_smut? I managed to send mine off four minutes before the end of the deadline. Whew.)
I have been to 27 countries. I feel kind of awkward about saying that because it sounds like some kind of weird boast, but it is definitely the best achievement of my life, and probably not something that people would guess about me just from meeting me.

I dropped out of samhain_smut, sadly. I did love the prompt, and I love writing Luna, but I just never could get the story off the ground. I'm working on a Narcissa one for girlsavesboyfic though, so at least I am getting an HP story in somewhere!
27 countries! That's really impressive. Which one did you enjoy most? (I know that gives me two questions, but I'm bold that way /g/).

As for Luna, well, no writing is ever wasted; I'm sure you can recycle her in some other story. And I'll look forward to Narcissa. That fest sounds fun (I was tempted by it, but I am way over-subscribed with fests right now.)
Picking a favorite is very, very hard, but it's probably Uzbekistan. I love Islamic architecture; the geometric design of it is so enthralling. I liked being some place that not many other people visit, and it was fascinating to see so many layers of history -- the old Muslim capitals, the Soviet occupation, the contemporary society that developed afterward. But most of all, I loved the people. They were so warm and kind. I would have happily stayed more than a month, but 30 days was the longest visa I could get.
How did you first get into fandom? Was it a big step for you to start writing/posting fic?
It is quite a bizarre story! Also kind of a long one, but it's too funny not to tell in its entirety...

I was traveling in South America when the fifth HP book came out. Naturally, I wanted to read it very badly, and when I passed a street cart selling a Spanish language book called Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Abridged Edition, I snapped it up immediately. I figured it would be a good workout for my Spanish, plus I'd still have new material to read when I got home.

I was enthralled from the first chapter. Harry had gone to the Burrow for the summer, and Voldemort was picking off Weasley children one by one. Harry, feeling responsible for their deaths, tried to run away in the middle of the night. Ron followed him and begged him not to go, saying that if Harry left, it would be like he'd lost a brother and a best friend in one day. I couldn't put it down. But then the story started getting weird. Snape had cancer. Harry and Ron used the invisibility cloak to watch Hermione take a bath. Voldemort killed Harry, but Fleur used a time turner to bring him back to life. I thought perhaps my Spanish was not as good as I had imagined, so I emailed a friend at home to ask if I had understood the story correctly. She responded with an article about fake Harry Potter books and said it sounded like I was reading really bad fan fiction. I asked what fan fic was, and you can guess the rest of the rest of the story from there.

And yeah, it was a huge step to start actually writing and posting myself. I'd always loved writing, but I had only ever written travel stories and newspaper articles and such. I always wished I could write fiction, but I honestly thought I was incapable of it. I watched fandom from the outside for a good seven years before Star Trek 2009 came out. Someone on my RL journal friends list hosted a drabble fest, and I managed to write a little ficlet. Much to my surprise, people left me nice comments. That encouraged me to create this fanfic journal, and much to my surprise, people friended it. It is still kind of shocking that I have been doing this for more than two years now!
That's a hilarious story, thanks for sharing it!

Harry had gone to the Burrow for the summer, and Voldemort was picking off Weasley children one by one. Harry, feeling responsible for their deaths, tried to run away in the middle of the night. Ron followed him and begged him not to go, saying that if Harry left, it would be like he'd lost a brother and a best friend in one day.

Oh, I'd totally read that. *g*
I got into teaching a couple years after I graduated from college. I had always known that I wanted to be a teacher, but my parents didn't really want me to do it, and I was secretly terrified that I would fail at it. While I was in college and immediately after I graduated, I tried a lot of different things, mostly in the non-profit sector. None of them really fulfilled me, so I got a job teaching English in Tokyo. That went well, so I moved back to the US three years later and began teaching high school.

Honestly, I don't think it's stressful, but I do find it draining. Naturally, I am an extremely introverted person, but my job requires me to interact with about 160 needy teenagers on a daily basis. I love it, but it's like I have a finite amount of energy for human interaction, and it's usually gone by the time I get home from work. It's good for me though; I think I would probably keep to myself to an unhealthy degree if not for this job.

I suppose the one thing I do find stressful is the increasing political pressure on teachers though. Lately, it seems that all anyone wants to do is blame us for the failing public education system while providing absolutely no funding to improve schools or retain good teachers. I can cope with the pressure to achieve test scores because preparing students for the tests is not actually hard, but this year, I'm getting some bizarre statistic that supposedly measures how much I personally contributed to the students' growth. Seeing my job performance reduced to a single number is terrifying -- and demeaning.

Someone already asked you about the languages you speak so now I am going to ask: What is your favourite part of travelling?
Seeking out desolate and obscure places that few people will ever see. And the food, of course!