Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Thrice Frustrated

I started listening to my new language tapes the other day. I feel like an idiot. I don't expect this to be easy, but dang. Part of the problem is that I seem to have a single foreign language channel. I studied Language A in middle and high school, and even a course in college.

I learned Language B in the Peace Corps. When someone speaks to me in Language A, I can often understand what's said, but when I answer, it comes out in Language B.

In grad school, I took a course in Language C and then studied to read Language C for a summer before taking a language test (because I couldn't bear to recall the high school misery of Language A, which I now realize was just part of a normal generalized high school misery and not specific to Language A). The test was a joke, but I've read plays in grad school and such in Languages B and C. I've now largely lost Language C, but I could probably pick it up for reading in a summer again, if I needed to (I could read regular short stories in the language by the end of my study).

So this new one is Language D. But Language D is in a totally new linguistic family for me. The only words I recognize easily are the ones adopted from English.

When you see a middle aged woman driving a wagon with a bike rack on the back and earnestly talking to herself, steer clear, because it might be me, and I'm doing my language tapes. Unfortunately, the tapes don't seem to have much cursing, so when you cut me off, I'll be yelling about changing money at the bank.

I have just over a year to get the basics of this language. Yes, I'm hoping to take a course this fall, but couldn't fit one into my schedule this term or last.

I'm typically obsessive for an academic, so I decided to make sure my vaccinations for going abroad are in order. I had lots of vaccines when I joined the Peace Corps; seriously, we lined up, went through a doorway, and got stuck in both arms at the same time, and then did it again at the next doorway. There were more when we got in country, and then there were the multiple delights of long bus rides after GG shots. But evidently people have developed new ones since the 1980s. (I have to admit, I think vaccines are just amazing. No Smallpox. Zip. None. Amazing! An aunt a decade or so older than I had polio; I've never met anyone in my generation who had it. Amazing. Same for measles. I also think antibiotics are the shiznit.)

Last week, I called the doctor's office to ask about vaccines, and was told I needed to call another office. So I called that office, and was told I needed to look up what I need on the CDC site and then call to talk to the travel nurse (but s/he wasn't in last week or something). I looked up on the CDC site and made a list. It looks like at least one of these vaccines needs two shots, spread 6 months apart.

Some of it makes sense: Hep A and B, maybe Japanese Encephalitis (but I don't expect to hang out on farms, so probably not; I doubt I need a rabies booster for the same reason). But I couldn't figure out if I need updates on typhoid, diphtheria, and measles. I have my WHO records, so maybe I can figure it out.

Today I called back to try to talk to the travel nurse, but the person on the phone told me that I can't talk to the travel nurse or there is no travel nurse (the person on the phone seemed evasive), but said I have to make an appointment with some specific doctor (not the one I've seen before) 6-8 weeks before I want to travel to get the vaccines in time. I tried to explain that I'd looked up the vaccines and the CDC site said it took 6 months, but the voice on the other end was having none of it and insisted I had to make an appointment 6-8 weeks before I want to leave.

I hadn't eaten lunch yet, and I could feel it, so I gave up for the day.

So, do I call back at some point in the not-too-distant future and lie about when I'm leaving to get an appointment?

Do I start back with the regular family practice office and try to get the vaccinations from them?

And finally, I went to my appointment with the retirement counselor person on campus today. I thought I was going to be a couple of minutes late, but it turns out I was a full week early. I'm such an idiot sometimes! (We set it up in a series of emails, talking about days of the week, and only in the final email did the counselor person put in a date. Unfortunately, I was lax in reading that carefully.)

When I went over my retirement stuff carefully, I got less stressed about it. I just have to plan not to retire before I'm 72, and to die quickly after that. Or maybe before. It's so hard to know: spend the money and enjoy now, and figure that my chances of living into my 90s are low, or save now and figure that all those great grandparents I knew as a kid left me those longevity genes and I'm going to need to be able to pay for care and stuffs. Do I bet on some drunk driver or something getting me early, or do I bet on those genes?

I realize I'm danged lucky to even be in a position to worry about retirement planning; it's a heck of a lot less stressful to worry about how to plan for retirement than to decide if I can afford a whole package of ramen for dinner. Life could be a lot harder than getting ready to travel abroad and wondering how best to work out positive financial stuff.

In non-frustrating stuff today: the Che Guevara onesie came today. It's just totally funny. I can't wait til the little radicals are big enough to wear it!


  1. What are languages A, B, C, and D?

  2. I'd recommend calling your campus health center about the vaccines. If you have any kind of study abroad program they'll know all about what you need and how to get them.

    I had French in HS and undergrad and then tried a semester of Spanish and kept mixing them together too. I tried Irish and have Scots Galic language tapes at home and that whole non-romance language family makes my brain hurt too. I've put them away until after I finish the diss. :-(

  3. Uke, that would be telling! But D is a non-Indo-European language, while A, B, and C are Indo-European.

    Sleepycat, that's a great suggestion, thanks!

  4. You might also check with the dept of public health: last time I traveled, I was able to get the vaccinations I needed much, much cheaper through the public health clinic than through the travel clinic. They don't offer all the travel shots, but I was able to get my hepatitis series, which is, I recall, something that needs doing in stages.