I've been a little busy lately, so I thought I'd let you in on a couple of major things that have been going on in the world of Samson.
1) I'm re-learning French. Actually, it'd probably be a little more accurate to say I'm learning French. Yes, I took a good four years of it in middle and high school, but still wouldn't call myself up to par. Like 90 percent of American kids, I took it for what it was, a class. I did my fill in the blank worksheets, took my vocabulary quizzes and came out with A's and B's like everyone else. I'd wager to say that the majority of people who "learn" foreign languages in public schools go about it the same way, and have little to show for it after graduating.
This time around, I'm learning it more naturally, through an immersion method. I learned the ins and outs of this method by following a blog called AJATT (All Japanese all the Time), and applying it to picking up French. Basically, the method consists of replacing your English media with your target language media, and learning a number of sentences consistently by using a free computer flashcard program. So I've been watching French episodes of The Simpsons and South Park, watching French movies, listening to French albums and mixtapes (Found some artists that I REALLY like, La Fouine and Yannick Noah, father of Joakim Noah), and knocking out my sentence reps daily. The purpose of learning sentences and not just words is to learn them in context. The method issues a goal of 10,000 learned sentences, I'm at about 700 so far--I've been at it for a good month now.
The guy who came up with this technique became fluent in Japanese in 18 months. Since I have a French background and already have a decent grasp on the basics and pronunciation, I'm shooting to be fluent in French in a year (and maybe a few months). I plan to take my wife to
Paris next year, and will also be taking a Caribbean cruise with my family next summer in which I believe a couple ports of call will be French speaking islands. My goal is to be able to freely have conversations by that point.
I don't know what to compare my progress too, but I think for a month in I'm doing pretty well. I went from what the #!$!@ am I listening to?...To having a few songs basically memorized, and being able to listen to a song for fun and know what is being said without translating things in my head. I stream France Radio and
24 news nonstop, and am able to follow things by listening. I also started watching Dora L'Exploratice aka Dora the Explorer (Don't laugh, it works!), and have pretty much been immersing myself as much as possible and devouring the language. I went from what the #$!@ am I reading?...To being able to leisurely read French Harry Potter books on my Nook. I even made the jump to a monolingual French dictionary (French words, French definitions) and have zero trouble figuring things out, this way, I'll be THINKING in French... My understanding is a little slower of course, but I'm getting it slowly but surely. Basically, this method boils down to using fun things to help you learn the language. Scratch that, the bottom line of this method is that you don't LEARN a language, you simply get used to it. Hopefully by the time warm weather hits in 2012, I'll be used to French enough to be proud of myself for picking up such a life skill. France
2) I'm taking steps toward starting my own business. As it stands right now, I work a 9 to 5 in the field I went to college for. My wife is working on her undergrad degree, and plans to enroll in grad school somewhere next year to start her MBA. Our initial thought process was, we move (definitely looking to move out of state) get jobs, and she'll go to school. That switched to me starting my own business and her finding work and going to school. NOW, for a few reasons, the gameplan is for me to take this year to get my business off the ground, and after we move let the wife not work, and just focus on her Master's. The prospect of this excites me for a few reasons.
For one, it's always been a goal of mine to be my own boss. I work in a field that take certain skills that I'm finding more and more that not everyone possesses. So if I have a gift or skill that not everyone else does, why shouldn't I be profiting from my own talents as opposed to my company reaping the benefits? As it stands now (I do love my job by the way, but...) I work the hours I'm told, receive the wages they tell me I can earn, and have to ask for time off to do what I want with my own time. What part of the game is that?
By going into business for myself (it'd be basically freelance/contracting work), I'd be working from home (or anywhere with an internet connection), and have the power to succeed or fail as much as I want. That's scary, but that's also freedom. Those vacations to
Paris and the Caribbean I mentioned earlier? I wouldn't have to ask anybody for time off, because I AM the business. Now the idea of my wife not working was actually my idea also. I told her my goal for how much I'd like to be earning within two years of running my own business. Her response was "Wow, if you were able to make that much I'd quit work and just focus on grad school." She was joking, but I got to thinking, why not?
The goal I gave her was just that, a goal. At the same time, if I earned a good $20,000 less than that goal, we'd still be more than good as far as living expenses and living comfortably go. As it stands now, we both work like crazy and she goes to school, so our schedules don't really match up enough for us to take trips together. I often make the trip alone whenever I take off for the weekend to visit family. With the type of work I'm planning on doing, if it works out, I can take the work WITH me whenever I want to head out of town for a while. And since she only has grad school to worry about and not work, she'll be more likely to be able to travel with me. It's crazy to think of the possibility of heading out of town for a week but still making the same wages. Or if I choose not to work, then so be it. That's my decision and my consequences. I'm still young, but I'm beginning to value my time more and more. By taking my future into my own hands, I control my time and destiny.
I grabbed a beer with one of my old co-workers this past weekend. We worked for the same company, but about four months ago he set out to do exactly what I plan to. He works for himself now. He's been in the know on my plans for a while, as it's something we discussed before he left the company. His thoughts on it now? "Dude, do it. It's the best thing I ever did." Since there is no cap on his dollars, he's making more money, his time is his time, and he can choose NOT to work with a-hole clients, which is definitely a luxury I don't have now. Nuff said.
I'm going at this thing full force and already have a potential client I'm in talks with (fingers crossed). If I continue to do the side work I've been doing for the last 6 or 7 months, and throw in a good 4 or 5 reliable clients or more... Look out. Self reliance has been a dream of mine, so now that I have a reason to do it, I'm about to make it happen.
This type of pressure is the true test of a man's mettle. I could crumble and say, "B-b-but, it's scary! I'm used to a consistent paycheck. Why rock the boat?" I'm the exact opposite. That fear excites me, almost to the point of arousal (TMI?). It's as if life is throwing me a challenge, and I respond by grabbing my nuts and asking "Do you know who I am?" Of course, I will be taking all of the necessary precautionary measures.
I plan to have my car note paid in full before we move (It's not scheduled to be finished until 2014) so that there's one less bill to worry about. I plan to have a good 6 or 7 months worth of income stashed away in an interest building savings account for those "Holy sh*t, we're broke!" moments. And when starting a business, there WILL be some "Holy sh*t, we're broke!" moments. And hopefully, my beautiful wife will do it up these last few semesters, land an internship or two and help us out on that end by getting some of that good ol' free education money that they set aside for high achievers.
And when she starts grad school, the fact that we're allowing her to focus JUST on school also makes that a very real possibility later. And that also means we'll have more "us" time, because when I "clock out", I'll be able to walk into the living room (which is hopefully clean, since she's been home all day!), eat a nice meal (Hopefully she'll have more time to cook, AND we can do the romantic thang and cook dinner together...+PQ!), and then head out on the town and explore the new city we now call home.
It's the stuff dreams are made of. But a man without a plan is not a man, so in the year and change leading up to that I'm using DREAMS as motivation... but I'm taking action baby.