Friday, February 17, 2006

"Ah, with head all mazed, Living in a foreign land..."

I have definitely, officially got into a routine, which can be remarkably similar to a rut. A mere o-i-n-e away, in fact. I realized this today when I went, as usual, to the IKEA cafe (remember, it's just a cafe, no furniture store) in the shopping plaza across from my work. After the woman greeted me and I ordered my cappuccino, I turned and decided to sit at the second table from the counter instead of at the first table, and in the big comfy couch facing the door instead of the big comfy couch facing the kitchen and espresso machine area. I don't know why; I used to bounce around the tables in there but in the last couple weeks have sort of taken a liking to "my" spot on that particular couch. Well, I went for a new one today and I realized there are decorations on the wall that was in my new line of sight that I have literally never observed were there, including a very amusing one of the back of a witch and dangling broom that look like she has flown into the wall.

Isn't that pathetic? That I've been that unobservant? I've gone there two, three, four, sometimes five days a week for more than a month. I'd observed the other three walls, notably the one with the quote (in English) from Frost's "The Road Not Taken" along it. It was weird.

I must say that I like having this comforting little ritual for my reading of The Book, though. I do occasionally read bits of it elsewhere -- the subway, my bed. But my subway rides in Daegu tend to be short, so we're talking a page here and there, and lately I've taken to reading other things on the weekends and goodness knows that late at night I read about three sentences before fading off to sleep.

So, Rostov and Princess Marya, huh? I like this, but I really hope Mr. T's got something lovely in store for Sonya. I feel sorry for her. She's been so loyal and true while Natasha falls in love with someone new every five seconds and swears it's for life.

And hey! Borodino! Remember when I was babbling about "the" War and Peace battlefield in Nelson DeMille's The Charm School and swore soon enough I'd know what I was talking about, when I got to it in W&P? Well, it was Borodino (I think!) And the battle is about to happen! I've just finished the chapter where Tolstoy delineates how entirely NOT according to plan the whole thing was, despite historians' assurances to the contrary, assurances designed to make Napoleon and or Russian military commanders look brilliant.

The amusing part of today's reading was Julie -- she rather reminds me of a homecoming queen -- finding it so hard not to speak French and her guest the militia officer crying "Forfeit! Forfeit!" each time she slipped. It seems that with the newfound loathing of all things French the Russians in the rich nobility circles pay a little fine to the "Committee for Voluntary Contributions" whenever they slip up or utter a Gallicism. That in particular kind of reminds me of the "Voldemoort Swear Cup" at Cambridgeside Borders. The whole thing actually reminded me of my students, especially my pre-schoolers, who are just so delighted with themselves all the time that even though they know they're supposed to be speaking English and not Korean in my class, they can't help bursting forth sometimes. It was great fun, that chapter.

I guess Pierre's off to ride with the regiment now, for real. Maybe he finds meaning in his life at Borodino; I'll know soon. He's got to be the thinly veiled "fictional" representation of Tolstoy, with all his seeking and being an outcast with a healthy dose of dumb luck, religious inquiring and genuine good will, and so on. I think Tolstoy writes about him with a more disdainful tone earlier on in the book and then grows to like him because he probably did the same thing with himself.

As I sat in my couch facing a different direction today, getting a much needed new perspective, I received a bit of inspiration from The Book. Cosmic sign? Perhaps. I was stressing -- crying, even (good thing I'd sat facing away from coffee girl, you see) -- about a personal emotional decision, and then Kutuzov gives his sort of pep talk to Andrei about patience and time being the answer.

"'I'll tell you what to do, and what I do. When in doubt, my dear fellow--' he paused, 'do nothing.' He spoke with deliberate emphasis." -- p. 896

I needed that.

No comments: