You can tell I’m manic this morning; no sooner have I finished one post than I want to write another. I’ve started listening to the Greek conversation practice and it’s so hilarious I just had to tell you about it. They start with things you do in the morning and it begins normally enough; I get out of bed, I make some coffee, I brush my teeth etc but then it goes on to I argue with the children and I avoid the neighbours before proceeding to I get on the bus followed by I have a nap. Well I guess after all that arguing and avoiding people you’d need a nap. The phrases are much too fast; having taught both French and English I know you need to go a lot slower, but listening is good. The trouble I’ve had with learning Ancient Greek is that it’s totally book-based, whereas I learn best if I can hear the language spoken. I might get the Italian one as well, which I’ll find a lot easier because (a) they have the same alphabet so I can visualise the words and (b) I already know some Italian. It’s slightly disconcerting though because it begins with a phone conversation;
Woman: Hello. How are you?
Man: I’m fine. What are you doing?
Woman: I’m washing the dishes. What are you doing?
Man: I’m watching TV.
Hmm. Language-learning does tend to be more stereotyped because stereotypes are easier to recognise. I once had a Punjabi teacher who had a fund of sayings in that language, most of which were horrendously sexist. Know your audience, guys! A propos of which I once, as an English teacher in Spain, showed my class an episode of Fawlty Towers and was struck by how insulting the character of Manuel must seem to them.
So today’s going to be a bit linguistic I think.
I’ve been a bit manic the last few days; not so much physically as mentally. I think it’s the sun; when I taught yoga for mental health a lot of bipolar people tended to become manic in the summer. It’s understandable because everything else is manic; the insects and the plants, the weeds – oh, the weeds! – everything’s up and doing and it’s hard not to join in. I wish I were physically manic though; I’d be able to lose a bit of weight, but as it is the mind is buzzing but the body slumps: I have the brain of a bee and the body of a slug.
It’s hard to concentrate on days like these. You want to do everything at once; it seems that if you don’t do it now, it won’t get done; so this morning I activated my birthday Google Play voucher and started downloading audio books like there’s no tomorrow. I want to learn modern Greek so I can put it side by side with Ancient Greek, and Italian and Anglo-Saxon (though I don’t think there’s an audio book for that) and ‘read’ the rest of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet and – and – everything. I’m just getting used to audio books; in general I prefer the physical page and as I’ve said I can’t deal with ebooks at all (though I did read Edwin Drood, what there is of it, on Project Gutenberg.) The result of all this activity is, predictably, burnout and depression; it’s a cycle I know well. Therefore I started the day with meditation, which has slowed me down a bit, and if it comes back I shall maybe play some slow music or do some breathing exercises.
I would never claim to have full-blown manic depression or bipolar syndrome – or depression or psychosis or any of the problems I experience from time to time – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real. They’re just a taste, really, of what other people have to deal with on a daily basis, and I can only imagine what that’s like. Fortunately I have techniques to manage these experiences so I can usually bring myself back to a state of balance. In any case it’s quite damp here this morning, so perhaps that’ll settle me too. And now if you’ll excuse me I’ll get back to my audio books and Greek and Italian and Anglo-Saxon…