Year Two, Week 20: A Hiatus, of Sorts

 It's been a few weeks since I have posted, which is never a good sign on a blog. Life has gotten unexpectedly, and, to an extent, unpleasantly busy.

I am in preproduction of my play "Shaina," which I will post more about this week. I also had some stupid and embarrassingly trashy apartment problems. Without being too specific, people were using the parking lot outside our window for drug deals, and we discovered some of these same people were squatting in empty apartments in our building.

Additionally, I have started a new project, which I felt like I needed to do, as I was getting a little burned out on Yiddish. But when you do things that take a lot of time, that time must be borrowed from somewhere.

I have continued to study my Yiddish flashcards, but have taken a break from adding new ones. This is actually something I have been considering for a while. I have about 5,000 flashcards, and that's plenty for basic communication, but I barely know many of them. I have been thinking it might be worthwhile to stop plugging in as many new cards as fast as I can and concentrate on learning the ones I have already added.

So this is what I have been doing. It reduces the amount of time I spend on Yiddish from an hour-plus per day to a half-hour to 45 minutes, which is manageable. I think I will soon get back to adding in flashcards from my grammar book, because I want to be able to use the words I have effectively, but for the moment it has been a tremendous relief not to commit to so much time every single day, even if I have only really cleared up half an hour or so.

There also gets to be a point where you try something for a while and then revisit the experiment. I have always known that, studying on my own, Yiddish would be of limited practical value.

The American Jewish community has an affection for a hundred or so Yiddish words that is used as a sort of flavoring, but not much interest in Yiddish beyond that. There are a few dedicated Yiddish cultists, and there are communities of Haredi Jews who use Yiddish as a vernacular, but they are largely located in New York. There just isn't much opportunity for me to use Yiddish in a day to day way.

Knowing this, and knowing that things are not likely to change for me, I have to ask myself what degree of commitment I wish to continue to have to studying Yiddish as a vernacular, as I have been doing.

I don't have an answer for that. I genuinely love the language, and I love studying it, and so I think there will always be a place for continuing to do so. And if there is one thing I have learned, it is that one should not make decisions when one is feeling a little burned out.

I develop interests sometimes that I pursue for a little while, and then I lose interest and just never really return to the subject. But there are other things where my interest wanes, and then returns, and then wanes, and so on. These are things that I continue to revisit for my entire life.

Yiddish has been one of those things since I was a teenager. And I know if I got frustrated now and stopped studying, in a year or so I would regret it, because my interest would return and I would find myself frustrated that I forgot so much of what I spent a year and a half studying.

I think it would help me to learn some tools for maintaining what I have learned when my interest cools, so that I don't have to start over again from scratch when I regain interest. And I think it would help for me to learn how to pare back a little when I start feeling burnout, instead of just pushing ahead, because that it one thing that is guaranteed to make me walk away from something completely.

So, for now, I will just continuing reviewing existing flashcards until I feel motivated to add new ones, which could be in a few days or could be longer.

I'm also kicking around the idea of studying another language, but am not ready to add that in yet. I feel like my Yiddish studies have given me tremendous tools for acquiring language, and it might help me to start learning a language that is actually used as a vernacular, so I can get some practice with a language that I can actually use.

It would probably be Spanish, which I have studied in the past, but who knows? One of the things that first got me involved with this Yiddish project was reading books by self-educated poly-linguists, and the idea of speaking a number of languages was very exciting to me.

We will see, though. As I said, I am very busy right now, and sometimes you have to respect how limited your time is.