I’ve gone back to school — sort of — in an attempt to perfect my Spanish and earn a national-level interpreter certification. They’re working on developing a state certification for Alaska, but I don’t think they’re quite there yet.

Anyway, I really dug the first couple days of class. I was into today’s class. And then, suddenly, I looked down at where I’d written my homework out and saw that instead of just filling in the blanks like a good student, I’d scribbled multiple possibilities next to each prompt. We were reviewing the difference between ser and estar (that is, the difference between to be and to be), and maybe ser was the simplest, most straight-forward answer for the question we were about to discuss, but I just had to include a case for when estar would be appropriate, too. The answer wouldn’t have been complete without that piddling little detail. I’d done the same thing all over the page, cramming multiple answers into each blank, arrows zigging and zagging all over the page to connect exposition with the assorted answers. I was so frustrated that I actually cried. Everybody else had their nicely written homework, and I had pages full of football plays.

I can’t figure out whether I should be proud of this fastidious attention to detail or not. On the one hand it’s part of what makes me a good writer, and I’m pretty sure it has made and will make me a good interpreter too. On the other hand, sometimes keeping it simple is the best [tear-free] approach. I mean, really, Maloney. You don’t even turn the homework in. No need to write down the entire lexicon.

Photo by “Evil Erin” via Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution license

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