The Mind That Sometimes Sticks

(Choose your own prompt) And, now, a variation on a theme: …付く心 時々。* means "the mind that does stick… sometimes."


I drum my fingers on the desk, tapping out a horribly rushed “Washington Post March.” When I’m anxious, I tap. A chorus of “nous-nous-nous-nous-nous” accompanies the neurotic drumming; what else can I do but idiotically repeat that one syllable over and over and over, until the glaring error on my homework corrects itself?

The repetition corrodes my brain until I no longer recognize the train of nouses, but instead begin to think about habituation. “I’ve said ‘nous’ so much, with no results, that my brain is no longer reacting to the stimulus, and… oh, right, habituation, I have to do biology and—Habitat for Humanity—I need to get the forms for that.”

The ugly black error suddenly pounces from the paper, scattering my wonderfully disjointed thoughts. No longer protected by a short attention span, I’m left with only repulsion—not towards the French language, which has treated me surprisingly well throughout the years— but towards myself. I’m the traitor, not la langue française! I think of my old teacher, a Russian martinet who warned us the first day of freshman year, “You will learn French the Russian way!” I wince as an imaginary Madame materializes behind me, staring at my unforgivable error in disgust. “Were you under the...

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