Saturday, February 03, 2007

Commute the commute

Yesterday, returning home from my language class, I spent 30 minutes driving the distance from campus to the highway on-ramp. Yes, really. We're talking about 1-2 miles tops! As I sat in traffic (wishing I had Ianqui beside me to snap a photo, because I just know she would have loved it), a fellow jogged by, with a simple yellow t-shirt, the bold letters clearly custom made on the cheap:
was all it read. At that moment, I wanted to abandon my vehicle, chase him down and hug him. I hated cars too.

I listened during the infuriating drive (two and a half hours before I stopped the engine in my driveway), to NPR covering the UN Report on climate change. And I thought to myself just what the hell am I doing here? Granted, I could in fact (most weeks) take public transport, but that would guarantee a minimum of two hours each way, with a transfer to another bus, assuming they keep schedule, which I seriously doubt. Meaning, I could be stranded halfway there. Not like the public transport in the Old World.

Okay, I confess to another thing: I am pretty good in this language, pretty good at understanding what is said to me, pretty good at making myself understood, and pretty good at making sense of what I read... well, with the assistance of a good dictionary and a reference grammar. I'm actually pretty awful when it comes to producing the right grammatical construct. Admittedly, I studied the language for all of 8 weeks, a decade ago at a summer workshop. I've been to the country several times, including 10 months as a Fulbrighter.

This class is for me, not for a requirement, for the instructor, nor for credit; it's for me to improve my skills, period. Point being: the commute, to sit through an hour and a half of hand-holding and impatience, simply doesn't sit well with me. Of course, I've paid for the class, so I suppose I can propose that we communicate via email re: my independent project (which is actually relevant to my dissertation-to-book project). Whatever, I don't think I can sit through that traffic again, knowing that I'd rather be spending Friday evening having a relaxing dinner with my family, contributing less to global warming and pollution. I am working nearly every day with the language, so I expect that my skills will necessarily improve.

I think this might be for the best.


Tracy said...

I agree!

I wouldn't go to ANY class (necessary for me or not) if it necessitated that much time in the car. I HATE to drive, period. And to spend that long just to go a few miles would drive me absolutely insane.

And you're right -- your language abilities will improve steadily as you work in the language yourself, and no class can really help you with that.

Here's to Friday evenings at home!

Ianqui said...

Hahaha! That's awesome! You're right, I would have given anything for a photo of that (making sure the gridlock was also clearly visible.)