So, how’s life?

This seems to be my year of sad records.
Negative attendance record for university.
Most doctor’s visits in a year (I’m at 20, with two more scheduled, plus one hospital stay).

This is a year of endings, and new beginnings.
I had to quit work.
I started learning Latin, and ancient Greek (and had to drop ancient Greek again until further notice because it was too much for one semester).
I started reading, and writing, Latin poetry.
I started a second BA (Latin/Ancient Greek) but am not yet finished with my first (two more classes, one per semester, plus the final exam for this module).

It is a year of firsts.
First time in a wheelchair.
First time getting answers (and a diagnosis) for all my seemingly random health problems.
First time being enrolled in two degrees at the same time.
First time applying for benefits from a disability/chronic illness fund (at my university).

It’s a year of constant adjustment.
Adjusting to my new “normal” (which, by the way, I’m still not sure I’ve figured out yet).
Adjusting and readjusting my goals over and over again.
Trying out various ways of treatment and medication.
I went to four different GPs this year (the last one is finally one I get along with and feel respected by).

So how’s life?
It’s confusing.
It’s frustrating.
It’s painful and exhausting.
It’s full of small successes, and small failures.
It’s full of new beginnings.
It’s full of friendship and love.
It’s full of support and understanding.
It’s full of uncertainty.
But mostly, it’s full of reasons to live. And for those I am grateful because they help me through the hard times.

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Why I Keep Making Goals

For some people, it seems insane to keep making goals only to change them again a few weeks later because something happened. Again and again.

Not too long ago, I was told to just take a break from everything, stop making new goals, just to focus on my health and myself for a while. While this is certainly good advice for many people who get stressed out by goals (or rather by not being able to reach their goals), it wouldn’t work for me. And here’s why:

I feel lost when I don’t have any goals. No matter how insignificant a goal might be, if I have one, I know which direction I’m trying to go. If I’m left without any goals, I won’t know in which direction to take my days. I will just be floating in the wind, powerless to choose my own direction, and I don’t like this feeling. I don’t like to feel as if I lost control of my life.

So I keep making goals. Goals give me something to move towards. They give me structure and a direction. They give me back some control, or semblance of it.

When you’ve lost so much due to health, when you’ve crashed as hard as I have (because I refused to acknowledge my growing health problems for a long time because doctors made me feel crazy so I pushed through for as long as I could), any shred of control that you can regain is huge.

Having to adjust or even throw out goals because they don’t work anymore hurts, yes, but for me personally, this is still better than not having them in the first place.

So if you need me, I’ll be here making new goals, or readjusting existing ones, or evaluating goals to see if they’re still obtainable.

Hard Decisions

A few days ago, I talked to a friend about my Linguistics degree and languages, and got a bit sad that my decision to be a responsible adult and switch my focus now that I can’t teach in classroom anymore also means that I won’t be continuing with an MA in Historical Linguistics. The thing is, with an MA in Historical Linguistics, my chances of finding an online teaching job in that field are next to nothing (even teaching positions in classroom are rare since it’s a niche degree), but with an MA in Classics with a specialisation in Latin, my changes of finding such a job are a lot higher (maybe not astronomical, but definitely existant).

Now I had been thinking about taking Ancient Greek as my minor next to majoring in Latin (yes, I’m starting a second BA…and losing my scholarship because of it), but that talk really got me thinking, and revisiting the degree regulations for a few BAs and the Classics and Historical Linguistics MAs.

My findings? Much to my surprise, I can specialise in Latin in the Classics MA, meaning I’d only have one module about classical themes in Greek literature (I’d still need to actually know Ancient Greek but I wouldn’t have to do much in terms of literature studies for it). Yes! Don’t ask me why, but Greek literature doesn’t sound half as interesting to me as Roman literature does, maybe because a lot of the classical Greek epics and myths have been done ad nauseam in TV, books, etc., and because the typically treated Roman literature isn’t that limited to epics and myths.

So then I double-checked another BA I’m interested in to see whether it might be a better fit for me as my minor (I have to choose a minor with Latin), and yes, absolutely. It’s called Archeology and Culture of North-East Africa (in short AKNOA, from the German degree name), and besides a module about archeologicy, and one about writing mediums and that sort, I will be learning Middle Egyptian!

Still, Latin, Ancient Greek, and Middle Egyptian are only a few of the languages of antiquity around the Mediterranean. I want more.

I spent a great part of yesterday with research of languages and cultures in antiquity, in Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, the Orient, the Mediterranean region…and realised that I’ll have to restrict myself further since there were too many. The region and time frame are too widely set. So I tried to break it down further. I looked for the major cultures and languages from the beginning of the Hittite Kingdom till the fall of Rome (which is still a frame of over 2,000 years), and then further restricted it to the two major language families spoken in that region: Indo-European, and the Afro-Asiatic languages.

From the Indo-European side, I chose Latin, Ancient Greek, Hittite, Luwian (another Anatolian language and closely related to Hittite), and Old Persian (since the Greeks had a lot of dealings with the Achemenides, who spoke Old Persian). From the Afro-Asiatic side, there are Akkadian (which was spoken by Assyr and Babylonia, two of the major ancient cultures of Mesopotamia), Middle Egyptian, Coptic, and Demotic (the latter two developed from Egyptian).

Apart from Latin, in which I want to become fluent (since I want to teach it), I’d be happy with solid reading and translating skills from the other languages. I also want to get to know the cultures who spoke these languages. How did they live? What did they believe? How were they connected to other cultures of their time, and who was influenced by whom?

It’s a big package I put together for myself, but hey, I’m still young…

Life and Other Small Things

Life’s been busy for me lately so I hadn’t even noticed how long ago my last post has been. Sorry for that, not intentionally neglecting you. Just brain fog and other things.

So as of March 3rd, I’ve been officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia syndrome and a severe lack of vitamin D, but my doc is still waiting to see whether the lack of vitamin D is causing everything (I’m taking a high-dosed supplement now on his orders and we’ll check levels again in June). What I did notice after starting the supplement was a boost in energy levels. I’d wake up with more spoons available, and less brain fog. And I have to say, if it stays that way, even if nothing else changes, I’ll be happy. Less brain fog and more energy means I’m able to get more stuff done in spite of the pain, and it means I’ll likely be able to use the awake time when my insomnia kicks in again. You know, instead of sitting on the couch or lying in bed staring off into nothing because my brain and body decide they don’t want to work together, and sleep is not an option. If you want to follow my whole journey of life with fibro, go check out my Patreon page Fibro Warrior (most posts are available to everyone, patron or not).

Right now, though, I’m attracting koalas with my breath. None have come yet, but granted, it’s a long way from Australia to Germany. They have to be on their way. Background: I caught a bad cold, and am currently taking soft pills based on eucalyptus oil, and the oil is wafting up through my esophagus. I can smell it coming up even before it hits my nose. Good thing I actually kind of like the smell, I guess.

I’m still learning Latin, and it’s still a lot of fun–and definitely easier than Sanskrit, which I have to learn for university. Did you know that Sanskrit has eight cases, three numbers, and tons of declension classes? It’s insane! Latin’s six cases, two numbers, and (I think) four declension classes are a piece of cake compared with that.

I found the free spaced repetition website/App memrise, which is awesome! I’m currently (excessively) using it to learn Latin vocabulary, Sanskrit vocabulary, the Sanskrit writing system, Latin and Sanskrit verb conjugations and noun declensions, the Greek alphabet (which, to be honest, I already knew most of but still struggled reading fluently), and Hittite. Yes, they have spaced repetition decks for all sorts of things, even for old and dead languages most people haven’t even heard of. In short, I’m in heaven!

Writing has mostly been neglected, though, since I don’t like writing with too much brain fog. But to make up for it, my brain was so nice the recent nights to fully formulate some parts for my secret writing project–after I had gone to bed, with no intention of getting up again, or anything to write nearby. Needless to say, those well-worded passages have not been stored in my brain.

So yeah, that’s been my life for the past two weeks or so. If you hop over to memrise now to try it out, I’d be interested in how it’s working for you 🙂

The New Love of my Life

Did I get your attention with the headline? Great!

I think I fell in love with a language. An ancient one, a dead one, but one that’s still very much sought after in academics. I’m talking about Latin, which was still alive and well as language of the academics and clerus until the Middle Ages even though the Roman Empire disappeared centuries earlier.

I’m currently trying to learn Latin with the help of Wheelock’s Latin 7th edition, and so far I’m very pleased with the book (although it would have been nice if the print book included the translations of the exercise sentences). While I’m not far yet (so this impression might change), it is fairly easy for me up to now. I know three daughter languages of Latin to some more or less advanced degree (French, Spanish, Italian), and I have a linguistic background so the six cases don’t really shock me (Sanskrit has eight, and I need to learn that for university). Plus, English has a lot of words that are loaned or derived from Latin words, so taking all that together, reading and understanding Latin comes easily. I’m still struggling with pronunciation, but I expect that to get better with practice (so hubby will be subject to my tries to read aloud sample texts and poems as I continue through Wheelock’s Latin).

A poet that caught my attention through the sample text in chapter two is Gaius Valerius Catullus, who seemingly wrote a lot of love poetry (and some more raunchy pieces, from what I’ve gathered from reviews). I already checked, there are compilations of his poetry complete with annotations and translation, and they don’t even cost much, so he might be one of my first Latin authors to read in the original outside of my textbook.

Now I’m even more excited about the Coursera course on Roman Art and History that I’m currently enrolled in 🙂

One Step at a Time

I’m still getting used to my “new” life, but it’s getting better. I’m one big step closer to getting the right diagnosis after seeing a specialist at the beginning of February (next appointment is at the beginning of March), and I’m trying to find new ways to be productive. I started a Patreon page which I update regularly about snippets from my life with (suspected) fibro, and I’m trying to get back into writing. I actually started my new time-traveller series, but I’ll have to do some more research since I’d like it to be as historically accurate as possible (apart from the fact that my gnomes will travel there, but hey, literary freedom and all that).

First things first, though: Tomorrow’s my exam for university, the one about the Anatolian languages, so I’ve been studying and revising for that.

All three of the A Rogue’s Tale books have been republished as ebooks on Amazon now as well, and I’m finally taking to Twitter. I actually followed a lot of archeological accounts so my Twitter feed is full of amazing photos and interesting facts now.

I’ve also finished the course about Ancient Egypt and its Civilization, and have started my next Coursera course (with a few more lined up to start next week). I love learning new things, and while I’m struggling with attendance at my university at the moment, and still have a lot of times when focusing on anything is difficult, online learning allows me to take it slow while still broadening my horizon.

Hubby is a big source of support for me in this transition time from living a “normal” life to living life with a chronic illness, as are my friends.

So yeah, baby steps for me, but at least I’m walking forward.

Building an Income outside of Teaching

I love teaching English as a foreign language. I really do. However, being a freelancer, I face the risk of cancelled courses if not enough students enroll, which has happened with three out of six evening courses this past trimester (with the other three running below the minimum number of students out of goodwill). The four evening courses starting in mid-January are still way below the number of students needed as well. In short, it doesn’t exactly look rosy for freelance EFL teachers here in Berlin at the moment.

What that means for me (and my colleagues) is this: We block time slots for planned courses (and we only have a limited amount of time we can block, plus if we block too much time and–miracle!–all courses run, we may very well burn out because it’s too much) and then are left with more free time and less money if courses are cancelled, usually without the chance to fill the time slots at such short notice (since a lot of courses are cancelled after the first class, or only a day or two before they should have started).

We only get paid for the hours we actually teach (which is okay with me), not for all the additional time it takes us to prepare classes, correct written assignments (and in the case of some courses, grade them), go to teacher training workshops, do all the administrative stuff. In order to determine actual work hours for possible additional payment (part of health and pension insurance premiums), the Land Berlin calculates with double the time we actually teach. To put this into perspective: According to them, a full-time job with an average of 40 hours per week would be about 27 class hours of teaching (à 45 minutes each). Currently, my plan for the upcoming trimester has between 20 and 27 class hours, and one week of 35 hours (a week-long intensive class). That’s besides going to university for currently 12 class hours each week (plus preparation and homework) for part of the upcoming trimester.

So you see, I can’t possibly plan even more time slots for teaching, so if most or all of my evening classes are cancelled, it leaves me with only a fraction of the income I’m planning with. I either need more students, or a second (passive) income to counterbalance the risk.

And that’s why I started to upload designs to Redbubble for T-shirts, coffee mugs, notebooks and stuff. I will add to them as inspiration strikes me, so maybe check back every now and then.

I also have my children’s books about Miro the Dragon up on Amazon (print and ebook). The first book is available in German, English, or Mandarin Chinese, and the second book is available in German.

Anyway, it would mean the world to me if you took the time to check out my stuff. Thanks for your support!