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There is an academic field of debate that I am now qualified to have an opinion on, but that I am not yet familiar enough with to explain in technical details, so instead I am sketching out my general thoughts on the matter. The debate in question is about language, and translation. The two views are that a language is basically its own complete world, and can only be explained in its own terms, on one hand, or that all languages are basically a translation of an underlying mental grammar to describe the world, a "mentalese" language. As someone who has worked as a English as a Second Language teacher for two years, and have seen people acquire language, I lean more to the second viewpoint. If there wasn't some deeper structure connecting two languages together, my job would be impossible, because there is no way I could teach even passable use of a language. This goes for me as well, living in a Spanish speaking country: if I really had to learn a language from nothing, it would be impossible. Some of this might be that English and Spanish are close enough, as languages, but in general, people's minds seem to be able to connect together two different linguistic structures to a deeper concept.

The question of language, and whether its subjective interpretation can ever be shared between two minds, is the type of question that lends itself to late night fingernail gazing, as long time readers of this site doubtlessly know. Both of the strongest forms of the debate, that either languages are boxes that people can't get out of (the strong version of the Sapir-Worf hypothesis), or that people all think in one way, (or that one language is objectively "correct"), and words are just a superfluous way to communicate "real" thoughts, are both too extreme for pragmatic consideration, as much as they make good thought experiments.

The big practical question for me has to deal with the way people look at other languages, especially language exoticization. There has been, and continues to be, reports of languages being vastly different from English, and while these seemingly exotic grammatical forms are praised, as with much cultural foiling, it is often a backhanded compliment. For example, in Chinese, the words for before and after mean front and rear, so that to a Chinese speaker, we are moving backwards in time. I have read commentators who tried to place this into the idea that Chinese is a society oriented towards the past and tradition, while English speakers think of time as something linear and progressive, which explains our orientation towards science, etcetera. There are many objections to this, but one of the most obvious ones is: English also refers to the past as being in front, and the future as being behind. That is what the words "before" and "after" mean. Although English is additionally confusing, because both the past and the future can be "before" us. Also, after the clock runs down, your time is up. English does a number of confusing and unusual thing with time, including having impossible and unlikely events in the future be referred to as in the past, and with adjectives, using present tense for causes, and past tenses for effects. (The movie is boring, so you are bored: cause comes after effect, apparently). As a language teacher, I have come up with many more examples of non-linear usages of English, that only make sense to us because we are used to them.

Another argument against the idea that grammatical forms trap people's thoughts is that the very nature of language allows people to expand and divide statements indefinitely. If a language lacks a piece of vocabulary or a grammatical form, users of that language can always find a way to express the thought further. For example, some languages have a marker for the proximate object of a sentence. Take the English sentence:

He hit the bag with the stick until it broke.
This sentence is grammatical ambiguous: we don't know which broke, the bag or the stick. In a language with a proximate marker, it might be said as:
He hit the bag with the stick-bo and it broke.
and it would be clear that it was the stick that broke.
But when presented with a grammatical ambiguous sentence, we do not go into Blue Screen of Death mode like a supercomputer presented1 the Cretan paradox by Captain Kirk. Despite not having a grammatical tool to deal with ambiguous sentences, people can use other tools to work out the meaning, usually with only a moment or two of inconvenience.

I do not think there is anything intrinsic about English, or any other language, that makes it more suited to science and technology. Certainly not that English is more "logical" or "linear", and that a language spoken on the edge of Europe by farmers and fishermen was destined to somehow set itself apart due to some hidden brilliance in its grammar. If there is anything about English that has made it more suitable for progress, it is the opposite of it being logical or linear: it is its adaptability, helped along by the fact that English, unlike most European languages, has no governing bodies to define its "proper" usage, meaning that new technical terms can be adopted much more quickly. There is much more to say about this discussion, both technically and non-technically, but as mentioned, I am sketching this out as informal ideas. I might do some more substantive research on the matter soon.

1: Notice at this point in the sentence, the verb "presented" could be either active or passive. And yet, you figured out the sentence, didn't you? Well, I hope you did...

The short version of this health update is the sarcoidosis in my heart is worsening. Various unpleasant and debilitating symptoms which started end of July 2017 have increased considerably, leading one doctor and myself questioning if there is CNS sarcoid involvement. A repeat Cardiac PET Scan on February 16, 2018 compared to the first one done in October 2017, in addition to abnormal lab results has my team of doctors mystified.

MRI of brain, vestibular testing, chest scan all normal. It's possible the rheumatologist tapered the prednisone too much. It's also possible my sarcoidosis is methotrexate-resistent.

Symptoms which distress me greatly are disequilibrium all the time unless I'm not moving, disordered and confused thinking, bone pain, muscle weakness, taste buds shot, trouble sleeping, visual problems, GI problems, numbness in one hand and soles of both feet. I check all of these off at every doctor's appointment. I am beginning to think no one reads the five or six pages it takes me a long time to do.

The cardiologist continues to be my best resource and has found one doctor in the state I reside who knows cardiac sarcoidosis. I have an appointment in two weeks. He is part of a University Medical Center with other doctors who are studying sarcoidosis. Glimmer of hope faded after I tried calling the main number and got a car dealership in Ontario, Canada...three times.

When I finally reached someone via a circuitous route (by calling a random researcher listed as staff), it took two hours of being on hold, getting disconnected, then finally a human! The human was eating something and asked me to spell sarcoidosis, which bothered me. It bothered me more when she told me I needed to see a pulmonologist "because that's where you get that disease."

The absurdity of the situation, or perhaps my latent New Yorker attitude kicked in and I told her politely but firmly that I was in no mood to explain the complexities of the disease; I just wanted an appointment as soon as possible. I was told three months for new patients. I dropped the researcher's name and my cardiologist's name. Ten minutes later I got not only an earlier appointment but one with the second doctor on the same day.

If there is one thing I've learned in life it's hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. But, also know that anything is possible. There's no way to know how good or bad experiences can become until you're in the midst or afterwards when you can reflect.

Yesterday was rough. Today I am in a much better frame of mind. I stopped by to see a neighbor of mine last night. She asked if I wanted a glass of wine, I accepted, and we sat in her living room discussing various things for a while. She gave me some very good parenting advice that I appreciate and helped me get some clarity on the job search issues. I got some sleep, took a shower, and had a great conversation with a friend of mine who went over a couple of things with me. I took some time to read Six Pillars of Self Esteem. The further I get into that book the happier I am that I found it and went ahead with the purchase. The Gary Chapman book on leading a more loving life is really helpful too, or at least the combination is effective for me. I read about the difference between forgiveness and releasing someone, I think I needed to understand the difference. I read about responding with love when people expect a negative response and I took some time to reflect on how I've wronged others as well. I'm much better at owning my part of problems than I have been in the past and I view this as a sign of growth.

Hopefully I will be offered this job. I like the culture and that is worth quite a bit to me. I'm sick of job hopping, I want to work for a company that is more functional than dysfunctional, and I realize that in the past I've played a role in contributing to an unhealthy environment by my lack of assertiveness. Boundaries are still an issue for me and I need to keep working on those. I sent a message to the guy I had planned on meeting at Starbucks on Tuesday with an explanation that I don't feel ready to be on the dating scene. I haven't heard back from him yet, I had planned on deleting the app, by now I would think he would have seen my response, but perhaps not. I think dating apps can work for some people, but I also think that an individual is responsible for being ready to take that step forward, and apparently, I'm not. I like and need deep connections with others. I'm sure if I spent long enough on an app I could find more of these people, but I think that at this point in time it's best if I recognize my need for safety prevents me from wanting to engage with men I don't know well.

The Six Pillars book speaks about the actions we take and how those reveal how we feel about ourselves. I just finished the chapter on how you can present an external appearance that indicates you have a higher level of self esteem than you do, imposter syndrome is very common, I've struggled with this in the past and can feel the anxiety rising up inside of me as I write this even though previously I was calm. I spend so much time thinking through things, trying to perfect them, making sure I've thought of multiple approaches and contingencies, I'm a classic case of the information junkie - someone who devours content without making the connection toward a new way of thinking, and new habits or actions. I'm really scared. I've been terrified for most of my life, but I learned that you can't go around being terrified and that people will prey on you if you they see external signs of that weakness. I thought that constructing an outer facade of emotional protection would help me, but it makes me come across as hard, angry, bitter, cynical, self serving, and narcissistic. Perhaps those things are true at some level, people can be very complicated, even to themselves.

Until I learn how to love and accepty myself more fully and completely, I am always going to have these same types of problems. I don't always know how I feel in the moment, sometimes it takes me a very long time to access the buried emotions. It was unsafe to express my emotions as a child. I was yelled at for crying, I saw how my mom was treated when she was upset or needed comfort. She's not nurturing because she wasn't nurtured and I'm sure her mother wasn't cared for the way she should have been either. The book says what so many others do, the best way to help other people is to work on yourself. This book breaks down each of the six pillars and explains them in explicit detail. It's a well written book that is hard for me to read because I have trouble sitting still. The information is dense, and unlike a test I can study and prepare for, this is real life. The consequences and enormity of it seem incomprehensible to me. My children were raised in a very toxic and unhealthy home. I was a part of that. Knowing that I contributed to their trauma is a pill that sticks in my throat, but at least I am facing the wrongs today so I can apologize for them and we can all move forward.

I've been looking into a career in pharmaceutical sales. Next year Jill will turn 18 and Jane will be 16. As they grow and become more independent, I can do more with my life. I held myself back for many years by putting up with the inexcusable and feeling sorry for myself. Now it's time for me to focus on my future and what I want that to look like going forward. I have really done a lot of growing as a person during this time that I've had off. I can see things I couldn't before and I've been able to release things that I couldn't before. Perhaps I will not enjoy pharmaceutical sales, it is very competitive, it can be a difficult field to break into, there's work to be done, but I think it is a career goal for me and that's what I need right now. I need to believe that I can achieve this and be successful in a field where this is a lot of turnover and stress. Now is not the time for that job. This next year is my time to get ready for the next chapter of my life. Right now I need a job that preserves status quo better. A job where I can make and save some money so I can buy my own tiny house, or find other reasonable accomodations.

It's a time to give myself and my children the things that we have so long wanted and needed. Going back to work full time will give me more income. I will have much less time, so I will have to manage the time I have better. I would like a partner, but I have an ideal in my head and it isn't fair of me to ask others to try and meet that when I know it's based on a fantasy I created rather than a reality. I've always been able to escape. When things get to be too much for me, I can retreat into my own head and live in my own world. There is a time and a place for that. It's made me good at fiction, it's helped me cope with situations people shouldn't be asked to endure, but it is a coping strategy and I can increase my own resilience and model more consistent behavior at home. I have cried a lot of tears lately. I'm getting better at recognizing emotions inside of myself and allowing myself to just sit through the discomfort of feeling them rather than trying to deny them, or repress them because that has not gone well for me in the past. I feel very childlike today. As if I'm being shown this complex and uncertain world and I'm not entirely sure what my role is, or how I fit in, or even what to do next.

It's scary and exciting, but I'm fearful because I remember what has happened when I tried to be the person I thought I was. Sometimes I feel as if I know myself well, other times I question everything. I haven't written any fiction in a while, that hasn't been good for me. It was good to try dating, it showed me things about myself that I hadn't realized before. Another thing that has been really neat is how others have responded when I've talked to them during the job search process. People believe in me more than I believe in myself and that's a very humbling thing. I don't want to let others down, I don't want to fail, but I'm also not nearly as afraid to be bold and to take more emotional risks than I have in the past. I think a key reason I've lacked success as far as a career goes is because I don't understand emotional processes and feelings, those or my own, or those of others, and maybe that isn't readily apparent to others. I don't really know. I know that there are certain people I click with immediately, the other day I was at the coffee shop, I saw someone on a computer, right away I felt the connection even though neither of us said a thing to the other. It doesn't happen often, maybe I will ask my therapist about that and what it means or how to proceed going forward.

This was tough to write, I'm still teary at the library, it always amazes me how you can sit and cry in public without anyone else saying anything to you about it. Lots to tackle to today so this is goodbye for now.

Please be well,

J

P.S. I have a feeling my life is going to be much better as I internalize more of these self esteem and loving lifestyle concepts. Nobody ever said it was easy, good thing I'm up to the challenge.

Xoxo,

j

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