I just realized today that something curious has happened with my Russian. I've begun to read for pleasure. Let me explain.
When I was in college/grad school, all the Russian I read was for my coursework. In other words, it was to read to meet some external goal. When I worked at Honeywell, I read and translated to be able to serve my colleagues. From my point of view, even the Honeywell work was a sort of extended graduate school, which, on the level of my emotions, had the purpose of improving my Russian.
What's changed now is this. The novels that I'm currently reading, I'm reading for pleasure. Not just for the purpose of improving my Russian or my professional skills. It's for the pleasure of the story. I find myself laughing at times just for the joy of it. In retrospect, I realize the these novels by Lukyanyenko plus the book «У них что-то с головой, у этих русских» (“There's something not right in their heads, those Russians”) have been the books that made the transition for me.
My mother will laugh when she reads this. She somehow made the transition in Spanish much quicker than I did in Russian.
Still, it makes me happy. Russian has somehow slipped away from being a series of tasks on my task list, to being part of my life. And weirdly, for other reasons, this is my first time in Russia when I feel like Russia itself is not on my task list, but rather it is now a place where I can live.
How very odd. I had no idea that this was a change that I lacked or needed. But today life is somehow better for it.