Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The xx - Angels

Can't stop listening to this song. I adore this band and how easily they seem to evoke night time magic and the beauty and fragility of innocent love.

Four days left in Korea...

And it's a heatwave! I think the current temperature is around 38 degrees, oh my! I can't really tell at the moment as I'm lounging on my bed with both the fan and air conditioner on. Decadence. 

The last few days have gone differently than planned due to my poor little big toe. The doctor finally removed my toe nail (surprisingly it didn't hurt at all, I was terrified for nothing) and I haven't been very mobile as a result. Which isn't such a bad thing after all as I've been delighting in oodles of delicious moments with friends and especially my boyfriend. Four days left. Terrifying. 

I can't believe I've been here for a year and a half. I can't believe I'll be saying good bye in less than a week. Nothing is really registering and it feels like an ordinary, sunny, carefree summer day with no worries or difficulties except for which ice cream flavour to select. 

Coming soon, I will undoubtedly transform into a puddle of emotions. 

Today, it's still "carpe diem" all the way.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Walk the Moon - Anna Sun

So I've had to rethink all of my plans and expectations for my last two weeks in Korea due to a toe problem of all things. I somehow managed to get a painful abscess on my toe and have been hobbling over to the hospital every day for the past week for treatment. The doctor drained it (sorry this is not so lovely to hear about!) and now they just keep changing the bandage and giving me antibiotic shots and medicine. Sigh. I'm not supposed to walk and I have to keep the bandage dry, which is tricky to do during rainy season. Bah! This unexpected surprise is not exactly one that I welcomed with open arms.

Here's a colourful music video to brighten up the day. There's nothing that music (and time and love and chocolate) can't fix.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Kholstomer: The Story of a Horse (and cake)

Last week I was wandering around downtown with my boyfriend when we stumbled upon a tent advertising the Daegu International Musical Festival. They were selling discounted tickets for some lovely musicals performed by actors from all around the world. One of these happened to be a Russian musical based on a story by Leo Tolstoy. We quickly purchased 2 tickets and I'm super glad that we did because the performance was amazing!

The story uses defamiliarization - a literary device that makes us view something ordinary and familiar in a new way. In this case, the story is told from the point of view of a horse. This makes us look at certain artificially constructed concepts with different eyes. For me, one of the most memorable parts was where the horse talks about ownership. This is something that we ordinarily take for granted, but from the view of a free animal that lives wherever he is and belongs to no one, the concept of ownership takes on an utterly different meaning (or lack thereof). Here is a translated excerpt:

The words 'my horse' referred to me, a living horse, and seemed as strange to me as the words 'my land,' 'my air,' 'my water.' But the words made a strong impression on me... only after the most diverse experiences with people did I understand... In life people are guided by words, not by deeds... Such are the words 'my' and 'mine,' which they apply to different things, creatures, objects, and even to land, people, and horses... And the one who says 'mine' about the greatest number of things is, according to the game which they've agreed to among themselves, the one they consider the most happy... 

 (I always feel that Russian cannot be translated in a way that keeps the beauty, poetry, and tone of the language intact. When I read English translations, the words don't touch me the same way. However, now that my Russian isn't as good as it used to be, I'm immensely grateful for all the translations available these days. Luckily, I could understand almost everything the actors said in the play. Listening is easier than reading.)

Back to the story, just as Animal Farm is not really about animals, Kholstomer is not really about horses. I love stories that reveal truths about humanity and make us question things that we ordinarily take for granted and don't bother thinking about. This illuminates our everyday life and challenges us to live authentically and freely.

I feel so lucky to have gotten the chance to see this performance. I think I miss hearing Russian and connecting with Russian culture far more than I realized. So now I will delve back into Anna Karenina and savour every (translated!! bah!) word. I should study Russian more so that one day I can actually read everything in its original version.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the cake! After the performance, we visited Daegu's most famous cake shop and got one slice of opera cake and one slice of tiramisu cheesecake. They were beyond delicious!!! And incredibly satisfying, the ingredients were rich and high in quality, the flavours deep and subtle. I had some hazelnut coffee with my cake, which was tasty but resulted in insomnia. That's alright though, I just ended up reading and listening to music for many magical hours ;-)

Student visa paperwork stress serenity now...


I love all of the interesting, somewhat random decorations and focal points at trendy/modern Korean restaurants. Especially the lovely old things...sometimes I really want to take a tid bit home. Shhh, don't tell anyone ;-)

So I've been caught up with sorting out all grad school related things. Planning and doing paperwork of this sort is not my greatest love by far. The last hurdle at this point is the student visa...can I just say some of the things on the application forms look like an alien language!! But I'll get through it one way or another. 

Hopefully this experience will help me to learn that worrying and stressing over (mostly future, imaginary) things is not useful whatsoever and a huge waste of time that I would rather spend enjoying myself and actually living. 

Sooo, it's time to enjoy this moment right now :-) Um, carpe diem!!