By ◆ Juppie on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 @ 7:05 PM

Yet again, I'm doing things in a roundabout way. Or at least, planning to do things. At several points over my life I have gotten the notion that I ought to start learning some Chinese characters so I can at least read the signs if I somehow get shanghai'd (Ha! Get it?) and am stranded in China. Well at least if somehow I ended up in Shanghai, I'd be okay because I can sort of speak the dialect...But anywhere else, it'd be hopeless.)

I do remember that back when I was about 6 or 7 years old, I went to a sort of day care place (it was called Little Genius Learning Center, if I remember correctly. Pretty arrogant-sounding name, if you ask me), and there was a nice lady who would go over a beginner's Chinese book with me. She'd point to a line and I was supposed to recite it to her, and at the end of the day she'd give me an apple as a present. Actually, I didn't really know what the words said, I'd just memorize what she'd said when she read it earlier, and then I'd just repeat what I remembered. But it sure looked like I was learning Chinese. Now that I think of it, I was good at fooling people when I was a kid. My grandma made me take a nap every afternoon, so if I didn't fall asleep I'd just fake it when she came in to check on me. Eventually, when enough time had passed, I would get up and she'd give me some ice cream. So actually I never got anything near as much sleep as my parents thought I had, especially in preschool, when I never slept during naptime. (But then again, they know that I'm an insomniac, because when I was a baby it took a really, really long time for me to fall asleep. It's still pretty bad now.)

Now that I'm interested in learning Japanese now, though, I'm starting to regret the fact that I never went to Chinese school or at least made my parents teach me. In fact, I was just the opposite for most of my life - I was adamant that I'd focus on English. I really believed that if I tried to learn Chinese, I'd forget English, because I actually learned to speak Chinese before I learned to speak English. Soon as I went to school and was forced to learn English, though, I pretty much forgot all the Chinese I'd learned and now I almost always speak English at home. And on another note, I actually look a weird, irrational pride in the fact that I was Chinese but did not learn my own language. I guess that was an early sign that I would later try to go against the tide in most aspects of my life, if only just to be different from "everyone else", whom I would refer to with slight contempt. I used to want to just blend into the background, but now I kind of think that fitting in means being boring. (That's not necessarily true, though; I probably just don't get to know people well enough to make an accurate judgment.)

Well, although I tried to memorize Katakana and Hiragana with the help of Quizlet, I am still a very long way from reading Japanese because I don't know enough kanji. Guess what kanji is? Yup, it's Chinese characters. The one thing I insisted on not learning turns out to be really important. So I have to start from scratch now if I ever hope to learn Japanese. I was actually planning to work on that this summer, but now that I have the homework from my classes to do...Well, I let myself get too stressed again and now I'm really not in the mood for the things I was doing earlier this summer. Looks like it's going to be a wasted summer and I'll probably be cursing myself for the rest of high school because I won't get to relax again.

Still, I probably should talk to my parents about it sometime. I know that they're going to be busy, what with work, remodeling, and health problems on both sides of the family (grandma on mother's side had back issues and had to go the hospital; dad and his mother were both very ill not long ago. And I should not neglect to mention that my mom is still limping around, although her toe is recovering considerably). But I guess if I'm going to learn a new language, starting late's better than never. I've gotta get crackin'.

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