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El Circo de la Noche

May 29, 2013

One of those unfortunate facts of life sometimes one is getting asked to do things that one is not thrilled with doing.

It seems almost an annual ritual that I’m asked to come downtown to serve jury duty.  (This is the tenth time in eleven years, I believe.  I’m writing this while I’m actually at the courthouse, so… yeah.)  Despite the fact that I’ve tried my damnedest some years to find a way – cheaply – to get online and do other things while I’m sitting around twiddling my thumbs, the honest answer is that most of the time, it’s just easier to bring a book and lose myself in someone else’s writing.  Trust me, it’s a far sight better than the drek that they’re putting on the monitors while we’re sitting in the jury rooms – today it’s “It’s Complicated” and “Maid in Manhattan” so far. 

Ordinarily, being a computer nerd, I’m usually content to come down with a load of computer books on my Nook to get through and just manage to make the day something productive.  However, the last time I came down for jury duty, I brought with me a book that the wife’s book club was just finishing up with, called The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.  If you have not read it, go out and find a copy at your library – it’s a fantastic book, and that’s all I’ll say about it in these pages.  And I’m not just gung-ho on this book because it’s by a fellow NaNoWriMo writer.

So as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, aside from my Hebrew, I’m also working on my Spanish and Esperanto.  The latter’s easy for me to work on while on jury duty – I’m still in the midst of an email correspondence class using Gerda Malaperis!, and since I have to send that by email anyway, I’ve spent part of the day getting my most recent lesson together to send to my tutor.  That took about an hour.  Hebrew is harder because I don’t have much availability of material while I’m down here, and the few other Jews here who do have Hebrew materials here would look at me funny for asking to borrow their books. 😉  (There’s a few frumim who have their sidurim with them, or other study materials.)

I managed to locate, on the other hand, a copy of El Circo de la NocheThe Night Circus in Spanish – at the public library, and snagged it yesterday so I could have it today with me.

Now, I’ve used materials in multiple languages before.  I have a couple of movies in Hebrew – the first four “Harry Potter” films, a handful of Disney/Pixar movies – that are in my collection in English as well, and have watched them because it’s easier for me than something wholly original.  I like having a grasp on the plot so that I can concentrate on the dialog and try to see how much I do and don’t understand on my own.  I’ve watched a handful of my US movies that have Spanish soundtracks for much the same reason… but this is actually the first time I’ve made an attempt to do the same with a literary source.  It’s been a year since I last read the book, so I do remember the plot of it… but details are fleeting in my mind after that long.

So I’ve been sitting here in the jury room with the book, and my high-school Spanish dictionary beside me, reading.  I assumed that I’d have a lot more trouble, actually, than I’m having with the book – I’ve perhaps referred to the dictionary a dozen times for words when I absolutely, positively can’t figure out what a given word means – and I’m 150 pages into it.  And that makes me very proud of myself and how far I’ve come since my profesora in high school suggested that I might not ever want to do something with my Spanish in the “real world”, given how badly I was doing at it.

Maybe next time, when I go to find some new book that everyone’s talking about, I’ll look for it in Spanish first and stretch myself a bit further.

In the meantime… anyone know where I can find a cheap copy of קרקס החלומות in the US? 😉  Our library doesn’t have it and I wager it’d take me quite a while to wrestle through it…

  1. Doing well there! I’m 62% through my second novel in Spanish 🙂 I gave up on the first one, coz it was boring the pants off me, rather than because I was struggling too much.
    Jury duty every year…? Oh boy!

    • Well, that’s Baltimore City for you. Unfortunately, when 60% of those called don’t show up… you call a lot more people than you need.

      And I think that’s the secret to getting through the book – finding something that keeps your interest beyond the challenge of reading a book in the language. It’s not enough to be motivated (and seriously – I’ve given up on books in English because they’ve bored me – why would I stick with a boring book in another language? :)).

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