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March 2024

Post image for Where All the Time Went

Time always feels like it’s speeding up, but you might feel like time has been going exceptionally quickly these past few years. The first few days of a new month quickly become the 11th, then the next day it’s the 23rd, and then your credit card is due and it’s a new month again.

It might also be hard to remember, when people ask, what you did with those weeks and months. “Oh, I’ve just been, uh, working and stuff, I guess” you might say, when you bump into an acquaintance at the grocery store.

For some of us, the 2020s have also come with a certain lingering mental fog, or poor memory, which is another reason it can be hard to generate an interesting report about what you’ve been up to.

Naturally I have a theory about this, maybe even a cure. The hypothesis I’m about to share is not entirely crackpot — there is some scientific evidence behind this, but I’m mostly going off of my own intuitions here. Tell me what you think.

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Post image for The Shortcut is Probably Too Long

For a few years in my 20s I was determined to learn French. This endeavor began one day when a friend and I were camping, and our campsite was sandwiched between those of two German backpackers and a French tourist.

Sitting around a fire with our new friends that night, they told us to visit them if we ever came to Europe, and we said we would. My friend and I promised each other that he would learn German, I would learn French, and we’d make a trip there a few years later.

My friend did not learn German and to my knowledge never gave it another thought. (In hindsight I remember one of the Germans saying, “Oh, but you won’t be able to learn German! It’s too hard!) I did try in French though. I attended classes for a few years, bought flash cards and Michel Thomas CDs, and joined whatever mid-2000s language-learning websites there were. I was really into it.

I studied regularly and with great passion for the language, and also for my vision as a person who spoke impeccable French and maybe lived in Paris half the year. However, I didn’t do most of the things language teachers say to do, such as reading French news articles, or having conversations in French with native speakers. That stuff seemed a little extreme to me, or at least a little messy. I would do it later perhaps.

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