Year 2, Week 5: The Schedule
Published on Wednesday, February 01, 2017 By Max Sparber
I have studied Yiddish for 372 days
I have studied Yiddish flashcards for a total of 232 hours
I have reviewed 4,349 individual flashcards
Anybody else having a hard time focusing on things nowadays? I can't be the only one who feels the constant need to check in on social media, news sites, etc., to make sure that nothing newly terrible has happened.
I soldier on, though. It helps to have a routine, and mine is as follows:
I wake up at 6 am. Actually, I wake up sometime between five and five-thirty and then try to fall asleep without alerting my dog that I am awake. I always fail, and so he leaps into my bed and demands attention for a while. Sometimes I manage to sneak in an additional 15 minutes of sleep.
At 6 a.m. I take the dog out and then climb back into bed to play video games on my iPod for about 15 minutes. Mostly I check in on a game called Simpsons: Tapped Out, which I have been playing for five years, good God. I think that's longer than I ever watched the show.
It's not a game in the traditional sense, but instead you complete little tasks and as a reward they let you build buildings or add decorations. I recently added both a synagogue and a Wicker Man, so now the place really feels like home to me.
After that, I study Yiddish for 45 minutes to an hour. I go through my flashcard program and try to eliminate all the flashcards for the day. If they are new cards, I must remember them twice; if old, once. If I can't remember a card, I recite it five times. If it has a gender, as I recite it, I combine it with a mnemonic: Male nouns explode; female nouns burn; neutral nouns freeze. So I imagine the thing exploding, burning, or freezing as I say the word. This works surprisingly well.
I must not just get the word right, by the way, but also its gender and, now that I am working with a new dictionary, its plural. Fail to do so? Card goes back in the deck.
I'll tweak my cards as I study them, too. I use images rather than words, and sometimes I can't remember what an image represented, so I'll replace it, or add another image, or a snippet of text as a reminder. Verbs tend to end with an n sound, but there are some nouns that do too, and I always think, what the hell is this verb, so lately I have been marking them as nouns. Flashcards need constant tending.
Then I get ready for work. On my way to work, I usually listen to some Jewish music, or, if I need to clear my head, some country music, which I find unaccountably relaxing. I generally listen to an audiobook on the way as well, a chapter of a book or a short story. I have been listening to I.L. Peretz's stories lately, which I have been enjoying.
I work at a Jewish newspaper, as regular readers know, and have now been here for about three months, apparently. So time flies like a banana, or whatever it was that Groucho said. I do my job, and then I head home or out for the evening. When I find time, I write these blog posts.
At the end of the day, I make some new flashcards. Depending on what I am trying to learn, that can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, and I usually start about 10 p.m. with an eye toward being asleep by 11 p.m., which I always fail at.
Then I go to sleep and dream, as I do every night, of fistfighting the moon.
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