Kaihua

Drabble 42 – Kāihuā

I have dreams of being a polyglot but so far all I’ve managed is English and some French. Spoken French is still a mess for me; I can pick out certain words and take an extra few seconds to translate them, by which point the meaning is lost and the conversation has moved on. But I keep practicing, listening to the same songs and hoping someday I’ll understand the lyrics as effortlessly as I would in English.

Learning languages is difficult. Words are packed full of meaning, not just at surface level but deeper, with context overlaying literal interpretation overlaying etymology and connotation all swirled around in there too. The difference between yell and shout is subtle, but they sound different to our (or at least my) mind’s ear–the former being sharp and painful, the latter being lower and generally more frightening.

When we translate words to other languages we lose meaning. It’s why translators often appear on book jackets–translating a work isn’t just flipping a word from one language to another. It’s analyzing all those other elements like connotation and context and wordplay and literal meaning to create something like, but not exactly the original. It’s an art in itself, and different translations will yield dramatically different responses from readers.

Case in point: my least favorite work of Greek literature is The Iliad, not because it’s particularly bad but because the translation I read was so poor in comparison to Fagles’ Odyssey and all the other texts I read, it forever feels inferior, amateurish, in my head.

When I write about words from other languages I can only rely on translation and hope I don’t lose too much of the meaning along the way.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

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Chronostasis

Drabble 41 – Chronostasis

It’s not at all a surprise to me that I’m posting a drabble at 11:25 PM and that drabble is about how there never seems to be enough time for anything. I spent three hours doing ten dollars’ worth of work today. I spend a lot of time planning work I will do for free. I don’t regret it.

I’m at a place in my work where I feel like I’m wearing too-tight pants. I have things I want to do. I want to grow and learn and grow some more, but there’s something holding me back. Maybe it’s lack of experience, maybe it’s lack of time, maybe it’s fear. It’s probably fear.

I doubt I’ll ever be fearless, but there is something I can do. I can ignore fear and keep submitting job applications and short stories and articles anywhere I can think to shove them. I have passion, I have a work ethic, and, in time, I hope I’ll have enough skill to get by as well. If I can’t have skill, at the very least I’ll have a few jobs under my belt willing to say that I am worth the time and effort, if only because you know you’ll get your work on time and with minimal fuss.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

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Thanatousia

Drabble 40 – Thanatousia

Something I just learned in the process of finding an image for this post: the flower I’ve known all my life as daffodils are also known as Narcissus. Yes, as in that Narcissus. Daffodils grow wild where I’m from, which I’m sure would have fascinated me as a child–I can imagine myself wondering if every daffodil I saw marked a mythological site.

When I was a kid, the world seemed very, very small. I imagined that every important event I’d ever heard about had taken place within in the confines of my small town. Someone had erected a large cross on the road that led out to the freeway, and for a long time I assumed that had been the site of the biblical crucifixion–I couldn’t conceive of things that existed more than an hour north or south, and it fit right in with my town’s numerous churches.

When the world was that small, the potential for magic and stories was always nearby, hiding behind a tree or in a hole in the ground. The stories I read didn’t take place in far away places–it was possible that Lucy Pevensie lived in the next town over, or that Artemis stalked through the woods behind my house and every dog I heard bark at night was one of hers. Everything was right around the corner, a bike’s ride away.

Anyway, here’s an entirely unrelated drabble.

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Oblivion

Drabble 39 – Oblivion

Oblivion

Journey on the Styx by Gustave Doré. The River Styx is not the River Lethe but I made do with what I had, okay?

Memories are weird. The fact that I can forget things that have happened to me and not remember them when they’re pointed out is disconcerting, to say the least. Where do my thoughts go when I’m no longer having them? How is it that swaths of my past can just disappear?

Dreams drift off shortly after you’ve had them; I get that, I’m used to it. But memories ought to stay put, pinned like butterflies to cards, ready for viewing and indexing and scrutiny.

Not to be a downer, but how is it that someday, everything inside my head will just vanish altogether? I better start writing it down now, before I forget.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

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