Sunday, May 20, 2007

To Err is Common

I feel like a fool lately. Well, that's not accurate--I've felt like a fool for as long as I can remember. But lately, it's been amplified.

Yesterday, one of my favorite cousins got married, and I had the honor of reading scripture at the wedding. I chose 1 Corinthians 13: 1-8a, 13, and I rehearsed and rehearsed until I had it down. I read it several times flawlessly, with perfect timing and inflection. And then yesterday, when I was actually in front of people, I read much too fast and I flubbed verse 2. D'oh!

The day before yesterday, I got an e-mail regarding my fanfic "Azumanga Daioh Plus Six," which I wrote in late 2002-early 2003. It continually amazes me that I wrote a fic good enough that I occasionally get fanmail even now, four years later. None of the other fanfics I've written generated much if any comment even when they were new. (And since I haven't actually published any of my original works, I have no idea what kind of response/nonresponse they might garner.) So I'm actually rather proud of "Plus Six."

Anyway, this email wasn't exactly fanmail, but it did show that this gentleman was a careful reader with a thorough knowledge of the source material. He found an error not in the story itself but in my notes. I thanked him, and in my response, I blithely misidentified Chihiro as the unnamed "Female Student B." He emailed back and (kindly, gently) called me on it. So I feel like quite the idiot.

When I wrote AD+6, I watched Azumanga Daioh repeatedly, both with and without subtitles. (Without because at the time I was studying Japanese, and I was using AD for listening practice.) I knew it backwards and forwards. I could quote some of my favorite scenes in Japanese.

I have not watched it since 2003, and just like my Japanese and my German before it, I have forgotten. Use it or lose it. It's lost. It's gone the way of my aviation history knowledge and my one-time ability to sing along with Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" without missing a single word. The information is probably somewhere in my brain, but the filing indicators have gotten garbled.

Then this morning I read "Democracy and Things Like That" by my favorite essayist Sarah Vowell (in The Partly Cloudy Patriot, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002.) She talks about how the 1999 talk by Al Gore at Concord High School was misconstrued, and she sympathizes with the reporter who wrote down one word wrong. And she admits that she herself has ". . . publicly misspelled names, confused Sinclair Lewis with Upton Sinclair, and gotten who knows how many things wrong over the years . . ." (p. 54). And I felt better about misreading the 1 Corinthians 13: 2, confusing Chihiro and Female Student B, and assigning some debatable call numbers to music CDs.

I guess screwing up is just part of being human. Thank you, Ms. Vowell, for reminding me that I'm in good company.

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