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Not having had any vacation for eight months was a Bad Idea, even if I did take two weeks off in August. (It's not September any more, is it?) To that end, I'm taking the first week in April off.

There's a method to this madness, besides; the ATISA conference is in El Paso at the end of that week. I love the ATISA conference. It wakes up my brain and reminds me why I love to play with languages. I'm also considering taking some of the week and being a tourist. Conferences are good for seeing the insides of hotels and not much else.

I'm planning so far in advance that I can't even look up airline tickets yet (flying isn't fun any more, but I am not driving to El Paso, thank you very much). For some reason, that amuses me. Maybe I'm just easily amused today.

I picked Lily up off the floor last night, just to see what she'd do. She mostly wanted to leave her hind feet waving around in the air, but she never stopped purring, and she was still friendly afterward.

OK, so I didn't do the SixApart Donors Choose thing, but I did donate to the Tomato Nation Fall Contest (although I didn't actually enter the contest; I don't need more random stuff). It's in its third day and has already raised most of $40,000. Nifty.
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I've been bothered lately by knowing I needed something, but not knowing what that something is. I finally figured it out. My center is off; I need to go somewhere and work on that for a couple of hours, preferably somewhere private but not home. (Or somewhere outdoors, if there was anywhere outdoors that could be relied on to stay dry today.)

Basically I need to run off at the brain for a while, until it clears out some.

On a related tangent, I have to find out if I can get into the main Harvard library system. I need an academic library so I can research the paper I want to write for the next ATISA conference. (There's got to be somebody else out there who writes about colonialism and borrowing; I can't be the only person interested in the two-way linguistic street between colonizers and indigenous peoples. And it is a two-way street.)
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Last night I slept like a rock, and woke up two minutes before the alarm went off. (By the way, I found my travel alarm clock yesterday, cleverly disguised as the bottom of the traveling-kit bag it lives in.) Anyway, I eventually got showered and dressed and all that jazz, and wandered off to the conference. This morning they had the business meeting, which I didn't go to because I was busy sitting on the edge of a fountain absorbing sunshine and drinking coffee, and talking to a Spanish professor from the University of Kansas about children's literature in translation and a point I had made about adults as conduits, rather than as audience.

I was going to take the afternoon off and go sightseeing, but I ended up being good and going to panels anyway. I'm glad I did, in retrospect, but I could have skipped the last one of the day. It was something about prosody and collocations in Russian-English interpreter training, and I had a headache anyway, and the whole thing went right over my head. The best presentations today were one on forensic linguistics, one on dealing with foreign words in source-language texts (for instance, the bits of the original Russian War and Peace that are in French), and one on why it really shouldn't be an ironclad rule that you translate into your native language.

The closing banquet was tonight, but it was one of those things for which you had to pay $30 when you registered for the conference in the first place, and I really couldn't afford it then, so I went out for dinner by myself. I ended up going to a half-decent Mexican restaurant (Mexican restaurants are all there is in Old Town anyway). I really wanted pub food, but I settled for taco salad and beer. I suppose I could have had nachos instead.

The more I think about it, the more I like this idea about exposing medical students to a course in what it's like to work with an interpreter in the context of seeing patients. It's really more than "tell me what the patient said and tell the patient what I said", and if the medical professional knows how the process works, it can't possibly hurt. I wonder who I should talk to at work about that?

Several different people have told me I ought to see if I can get my translation published. Considering that the original is out of print and copyright 1974, I wonder how much of a hassle it would be.
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Last night I went to bed at midnight PST (3 AM EST). Then I proceeded to wake up, for no apparent reason, every couple of hours or so until 5:45 PST, at which point I either got somebody else's leftover wakeup call, or somebody put in a wakeup call to the wrong room, and called again at 6:15. I wanted to be up at 6:30 anyway, but I was a bit miffed about the 6:15 call. I wandered off to the conference hotel in time for free breakfast, and the first presentation started at 8:30.

The conference hotel has been taking lessons from the Escher Hilton. It's built up the side of a hill so steep that it's got four different levels of buildings. The lobby's in a building at the bottom level, one of the conference rooms is on the next level up, the other is on the level above that, and the reception tonight was on the level above that. Lots and lots and lots of stairs, and somebody from the conference fell down enough of them tonight to break her wrist and get the paramedics to come take her off on a stretcher.

And there was my presentation right before lunch, and it went as well as could be expected for my having to read it off my laptop screen instead of off paper. My ex-scientific translation professor said it was superb. (It isn't, but it went over pretty well and nobody really blindsided me with any questions I couldn't answer.)

So, anybody want to read this thing? Leave me an email address either here or at the address in my userinfo and I'll send you a copy. I'm not going to post it here because it's nine pages long, double spaced.

I'm tired, but it's the good kind of tired. I love being confronted with ideas I would never have thought of, to which my immediate reaction is "whoa, that's incredibly cool!" There was a marvelous presentation today on the parallels between erotic relationships and the relationships between text and translator. The metaphor breaks down when it gets to the editing phase of translation, but up until then, it's fascinating stuff.

The only problem is that somebody put on my badge that my affiliation is Harvard Medical School, and I have to keep explaining that no, Harvard Medical School has not suddenly up and started offering a translation program (although somebody I was talking to said it would be a good idea to have them start a medical interpreting course); I work there to pay the bills while I'm not translating.

I must be alone in a hotel; it's the only place on earth I would have been eating chocolate ice cream in bed, within two feet of the computer, which was sitting on the same bed. Not the greatest idea I've ever had, but never the twain shall meet, either, so it's all good.

Yep, I'm tired, all right.
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So here I am, in sunny (at least I assume it was, today, since the stars were out when I got here) San Diego. As usual, it cost a small fortune to get out of the airport, and the shuttle dropped me at the wrong hotel, but it happened to be the conference hotel, so now I know where that is, too. (The hotel I'm staying at has free wireless internet, which is why I'm writing this.)

My presentation now has slides (otherwise it would take me all day to describe some of this stuff) and as soon as I slap a conclusion on it, I'm calling it done, at least for the night. It may still be a little short, but that'll be a novelty. Mostly, presentations run over time. I'll bring the computer with me tomorrow and revise if there aren't any panels I want to go to before mine.

I managed not to jet-lag myself too badly by having coffee right before I got on the plane. It's 11:37 here and I'm about ready to go to bed.


Mar. 23rd, 2006 02:32 pm
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It just hit me what I'm going to be spending the rest of the weekend doing. While I was at work, concentrating on work stuff, I could manage not to think about it.

Ye gods.
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Packed, except for the stuff I need in the morning, and I have no idea what I'm going to wear to work tomorrow. Layers, theoretically, but I don't know what sort.

Three translation books and a mess of notes so I can finish the paper on the plane, two reading books, various music CDs (including The Joshua Tree), the Civ III CD, and my current embroidery to keep me entertained on the way home (and the way there if I finish the paper).

Travel documents in folder in bag.

Dishes done (I hate coming home to dirty dishes).

Travel alarm clock has gone AWOL. Last time I saw it was at Christmas. It seems to be in neither of the two places it always is.

Nearly forgot my phone. That's what I get for plugging it in to charge.

Might as well go hunt up the sorrowing Buddha carving I carry around in lieu of a worry stone when I need one. I rather suspect I'll need one.

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For future reference, over-full hanging folders don't stack on their sides very well. This morning I had a small avalanche off a counter, which would have been all right except the papers took somebody's tea with them. Oops. Thank goodness laser-printed documents don't run when they get wet.

However, there's actual space in the working senior promotions file cabinets now, because I took 14 people out to be archived. Archiving involves throwing a lot of things away, which is nice. I reduced the pile by two thirds just by going through and saying "nope, don't need that, or that, or those, and why are there four copies of those anyway?" The guy who takes away the confidential recycling on Mondays is going to hate me, though.

Last night I left off writing in a place I was both happy with and not done with yet, so hopefully tonight it'll get off on the right foot. I think I'm up around 10-11 minutes now. I have to pack tonight, too, but that won't take longer than about half an hour. Let's see if I can remember to pack the flight and hotel confirmation numbers, which have been stuck on the freezer door for a while now. Actually, I'm pretty good at remembering things like that; I tend to forget incidental things like socks, and things that might keep me from getting bored to death on the way (I'm bringing the Moose and the Civ III CD if I remember it).

Speaking of packing, I'm curious: what do all y'all not travel without for superstition's sake? For me, it's music. I have to bring a U2 CD, generally The Joshua Tree. There's a very specific subset of my music collection that's "traveling music", but whatever I end up taking, there's always U2 in it. That guarantees that things won't go irretrievably wrong. It's silly, but there it is.

One of my coworkers has wanted ice cream for the last week, and now I want it too. Silly brain.


Mar. 21st, 2006 01:37 pm
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I bailed on my trombone lesson last night because it wouldn't have been worth it, since I hadn't practiced all week. I've got something like eight minutes of paper written (I know that because I read it out loud). I swore I wasn't going to do it, but it looks like I'm going to be one of those people who's working on their presentation in the airport, and on the plane. I didn't want to have to do that, but I'm fighting with myself so much that I'm not getting anything done. I've certainly got another twelve minutes of material to talk about, but I can't seem to get it to come out right.

I had a friend in high school whose last resort was laundry; if she was doing laundry instead of homework, she REALLY didn't want to do homework. I don't even have a last resort right now. Everything else I could be doing isn't competing with me for time and brain space. And somehow I still can't write this paper. BAZZ FAZZ.

On top of which, I've fallen back into the habit of eating too much, and I know it, and it's annoying me because I can't stop. I should just give up making pasta at home. (And I will, as soon as I have breathing space enough to think about cooking anything more complicated than pasta for dinner.)

At least I'm not getting sick. (Yet. Due to the nature of long plane trips and the germ pool I work in, I'll probably wake up on Monday with pneumonia.)
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I'm tempted to not go to my trombone lesson tonight, because it's 1:30 and I'm dead tired. However, since my lesson has been moved to 7:30, I might be somewhat recovered by then. I hope. The only problem with having my lesson end at 8:00 is that the buses don't run as often then. Which is fine when it's acting like spring, but today it ain't, and the idea of waiting 20 minutes for a bus home doesn't thrill me all that much.

I spent all day yesterday with a crick in my neck. Today it seems to have gone, which is nice of it.

The only thing more fun than figuring out the logistics and timing to get myself to the airport from Brigham Circle on Thursday is figuring out how to get myself from the San Diego airport to the hotel I'm staying at (which is around the corner from the conference hotel) without spending a small fortune on cab fare. It's theoretically possible, but by the time I land there, my brain is going to think it's 11 PM and I'll have been on a plane for seven or so hours and at work for most of a day beforehand. In short, when in doubt, write it down or print it out or something.

I really don't want to do it, but I'm afraid I might have to resort to caffeine to get me through the rest of today.
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Well, at least now my paper has an introduction, and a page of really good stuff about the process of getting children's books off the page and into the kid's brain. The problem is, I believe in what I said and I think I'm right, but I don't know that I can back it up. Almost everybody seems to think that reading to kids is a good idea, but nobody seems to deal with the fact that an adult reading a British book to a kid isn't reading exactly what the author created. I bet J.K. Rowling hears what she's writing in a British accent in her head, and I bet there aren't a lot of people who are reading it aloud to their kids in this country in a British accent. The words are there (providing the American publishers haven't changed them), but the act of reading it in another accent is a kind of cultural translation. (That's what I'm trying to get at, and I can't prove it. ARGH.)

Oh well, at least I've also got another eight pages of fragments of good stuff, most of which I can either prove (theory) or defend (practice). Now all I have to do is get them all to play nice together. I should have done that yesterday, but yesterday my brain decided I had a lot of very important nothing to do, and that's what I did. Unfortunately that lands me right back where I was last week with the trombone playing (aka, I haven't touched it since last Monday), and I've really got to quit doing that.

I was thinking about cooking for this week, but it doesn't really make all that much sense if I've got three days of leftovers from last week and I'm leaving on Thursday night anyway.

I hope this is really all going to work out and I don't end up looking like an idiot at the end of it. I'm presenting right before lunch on Friday, and I sort of hope all my ex-professors have better things to do then, because I really don't want to end up looking like an idiot in front of my ex-theory professor...

I know, I know, quit worrying and write.
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Trombone: going well even if I'm not practicing enough to suit myself. I can sorta kinda almost produce something that sounds vaguely like "Good King Wenceslas" (or, as my Pogophile family calls it, "Good King Sauerkraut", which is probably more what it sounds like).

Work: February SOP meeting today, March SOP meeting in two weeks, April SOP meeting three weeks after March meeting. I've got my work cut out for me if it doesn't kill me first (18 candidates through SOP in six weeks is almost, but not quite entirely, impossible). And I'm getting paid in money for over 35 hours instead of in time, which is good.

Paper: should probably be scrapped and started over, because its current incarnation ain't working. Hotel reservations for conference finally made yesterday.

Other: My apartment is a disaster area, I've been eating too much junk, and somebody someday should invent a bus shelter that actually provides shelter.
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Last night I got email from one of the ATISA conference organizers. She had gotten email from somebody at the Université de Laval in Quebec, who had seen the conference program, is writing a thesis on children's literature, and wanted to talk to me about my paper. (Before I've even written it yet, forsooth!) So I sent email to Canada last night saying I would be delighted to talk about it. (Maybe I really do have a future in translating, but I've been looking in the wrong direction?)

For some strange reason I'm a lot better at playing the trombone at my lesson than I am at home. I can do things in my lessons that I then go home and swear at. However, I did find the low notes, finally. It seems I have a naturally high embouchure, so it's hard for me to produce low notes right off (usually I start high and the note drops when I start running out of air).

Also good: congratulations to [livejournal.com profile] cuilean and L, who have a son as of yesterday.

Off to conquer Troy, or at the very least give the SOP task list a serious talking to.
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According to [livejournal.com profile] timiathan, the poem I translated is getting reprinted this summer. It's humbling that people are actually quoting my translation, and that's what shows up in Google if you put my name in (well, that and the out-of-date TUSDM contact information, which wasn't right even when I did work there). It's odd to be an example of the translator's invisibility; people quote the translation as if it's the poet's original words. It isn't. It can't be; in order for that to be true, the same person would have had to produce both the original and the English versions. What people are quoting is my version of what I think the poet meant. So the question is, did I get it right, and would anybody who didn't know the original know if I didn't? (This is how the Bible got that way; people who didn't, and in most cases couldn't, know the original took the translations literally, and a couple thousand years or so later, we've got...)

I rather suspect I'm making mountains out of molehills here. I was happy with most of that translation when I sent it off in the first place, and what I wasn't happy with was only because I don't think it's possible for "crucify" and other such things to be a reflexive verb. (In a literal sense of the word, you can't crucify yourself. You'll eventually get to a point where it just isn't physically possible.)

This is also what I get for thinking about this at midnight last night, when I probably should have been conducting a thorough inspection of the insides of my eyelids.

I should get back to the paper again. It's going fairly well, but it keeps trying to be practical instead of theoretical, and I submitted the abstract on the grounds that it was theoretical. I think I'll write it as practical, and then go back and cut most of the practice and put in more theory. That'll get it out of my system, anyway.
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Providing I didn't make a mistake someplace, I'm getting enough tax refund to pay for the plane ticket to San Diego. That's nice. I've been worrying a little about that.


Jan. 20th, 2006 08:25 pm
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Ye gods. Remember my last post in which I said I wasn't singing because I've got too much to do?

Add to that, I have to write a paper. ATISA accepted my proposal; I'm off to San Diego in March to present it.

GYACK! (In a good way, but GYACK!)
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Today was the annual HMS staff holiday party. You know you're in trouble when you walk in and the first thing you encounter is a chocolate fountain, and then you get to the food. If I hadn't skipped lunch due to hearing that this was going to be a fairly serious food event, I would never have gotten past the fountain.

For some reason, my brain is convinced it's Friday. Silly brain.

Anyway, I'm almost to the point where I can't do anything else with the current round of projects, because I have to get other people to give me parts of them. And my boss is leaving for Hawaii for a week, tonight, so I don't know what I'm going to be doing next week.

How long does it take for a conference to decide whether or not it's going to accept a paper? It's been two weeks now, and I'm starting to wonder if I should email them and find out what's going on.

I've had the Play of Daniel stuck in my head for two days now. I think I'll have to do something about that.
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I just sent off the abstract for the paper I want to present at the ATISA conference. We shall see...(especially considering that I think it's going to be a good paper, but I haven't written it yet, and I spun the abstract out of thin air and various notes in an hour).


Nov. 10th, 2005 11:44 am
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Just because everything always happens all at once, I expect that if I get this job, I'll also get a translation job at the same time. (Today is the deadline for two of the recent translation jobs I sent off resumes and samples for.)

On top of which, the deadline for abstract submissions for the ATISA conference is December 1, so I had better get cracking on that and at least come up with a title and an abstract for this paper I want to write. I've got so many ideas that I don't think I'm going to have a problem with a 20-minute presentation if the paper gets accepted. I think it probably will since the ATISA isn't that big yet, and besides I heard something vaguely similar presented at the last conference.

I'm still sort of bemused by the idea that I'm volunteering for something involving public speaking. I guess the desire to blow my own horn a little is stronger than my dread of oral presentations.
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I don't feel useful any more. Probably because everything that has to happen next doesn't depend only on me. Getting an apartment depends on somebody being willing to rent me one, and getting a job depends on somebody else being willing to admit I haven't spent the last two years indulging myself to great expense. Of course, the apartment problem also depends on my being willing to spend more than half of my bank balance on getting an apartment and spending the other part on getting myself out of Ohio in a little over a month, all probably before I have any money coming in. So I start from absolute zero again, and it's not a comfortable place to start from. Particularly when I have one loan I have to start paying in two weeks, and two I have to start paying in November. I've been told that if I can get work as a freelancer, I'm going to be living in poverty for two years, and then it'll pick up. I can't afford that. So I need steady income for two years at least, and I need somebody somewhere to be willing to give me freelance work. The process of getting employment lately seems designed to discourage me before I even start; I don't want to have to expect that absolutely everybody is going to jerk me around as much as possible, but that's what seems to be normal these days.

This apartment-hunting thing is making me nervous. I know what I want, and I know that I probably definitely can't afford it. The problem is, I don't want to move in July and move again in September. Especially if it means I move from living with one set of people I don't know to living with a different set of people I don't know. If I didn't know that life is inherently unfair, I would complain about how I had it all planned out when I left and had it all fall out from under me in April. But that's how it is, and complaining about it won't get me anywhere.

Part of the reason I want to present this paper at the ATSA meeting is because I don't want to forget what it feels like to do what I love and be good at it. I want to show off a little, is what it boils down to. If I have to go back to being a secretary again, I want to be able to remember what it feels like to love what I'm doing.

Going from being a good student to being employed and housed and self-sustaining is like swimming across the river Lethe. By the time you get to the employment side, you forget that being academically good is something you can be proud of, because nobody on the employment side cares.

Here endeth the self--indulgence. Anybody who has read this far probably deserves a medal.
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