Thursday, August 21, 2014

풀꽃 | Wildflower

자세히 보아야 예쁘다
오래 보아야 사랑스럽다
너도 그렇다
                                – 나태주

You have to look closely
To see that it is pretty
You have to look long enough
To see that it is lovable
You are like that
                                  – Na Tae Joo

Sunday, June 1, 2014

May Reads

14. The Grand Babylon Hotel by Arnold Bennett
Comedic yet filled with intrigue due to the element of a murder mystery | Grand Budapest Hotel definitely took some notes from this novella (in addition to Stefan Zweig's memoir) | British-American relations in early 20th century is always entertaining  – aristocratic traditions versus the emerging capitalist millionaire 

15. An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
Evoking memories from a bygone era as told by an aged fictionalized Japanese painter of repute in which ideologies either made or broke your career. | Interesting to hear Japanese perspective following the aftermath of World War II

Took fair amount of mental effort and re-reading to get through certain passages, but glad to have plowed through. | Working out Kant's arguments via diagrams helps. | Lewis Carroll's Four Rules for Digesting Information and Mastering the Art of Reading applies here.

17. Amerika by Franz Kafka
Train reading en route to Prague to pay homage to the Czech writer. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

UltraBalaton Marathon

Every spring, the university I work at holds a Spring Sports Day picnic extravaganza, popular with students, faculty, and staff alike. It's really nice to see colleagues outside of the work environment because you realize that all these people you work with have personal lives as well. Watching them play football or getting goofy with their kids while dancing Zumba choreography kind of peels away some of the office persona people take on as part of their "I'm in the work zone" mask.

While eating the free lunch that was offered (it was Turkish gyros, score!), Boss's Husband mentioned he liked my magenta sports watch (kinda random conversation starter but I'll take that over the weather any day) and also complimented me on finishing my first half-marathon. He had heard through the grapevine and as an avid runner himself, we got to talking about training and some of the other finer points of distance running - fuel, shoes, where to buy runner paraphernalia in Budapest, etcetera.

Among other things, he mentioned how he was participating in an ultra marathon relay with a team in a week or so, which would involve 7 to 8 people running in intervals for up to 24 hours to make it around the entire perimeter of Lake Balaton, some 212 kilometers. That's 131 miles.

Perfectly fine with me, considering I wasn't the crazy heathen running it. Ha! (Little did I know what I'd be getting myself into).

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Exploring Ferenceváros

Nighthawks, 1942 (120 Kb); Oil on canvas, 30 x 60 in; The Art Institute of Chicago 
Hopper, Edward (1882-1967). American painter, active mainly in New York.
Paintings such as Nighthawks (Art Institute of Chicago, 1942) convey a mood of loneliness and desolation by their emptiness or by the presence of anonymous, non-communicating figures. But of this picture Hopper said: `I didn't see it as particularly lonely... Unconsciously, probably, I was painting the loneliness of a large city.' Deliberately so or not, in his still, reserved, and blandly handled paintings Hopper often exerts a powerful psychological impact – distantly akin to that made by the Metaphysical painter de Chirico; but while de Chirico's effect was obtained by making the unreal seem real, Hopper's was rooted in the presentation of the familiar and concrete.
It's been a little over three years since I studied this painting during an art history survey in college. It's ironic how unattached I was to it back then. Just another date to memorize for the blue book and a few thematic sentences of the era it evoked. I couldn't appreciate the value of the painting at the time because I lacked the aesthetic sensibility to perceive its meaning. There was a glimmer of the idea, but the capacity for me to appreciate, or experience, the painting wasn't fully there.

Hopper's painting loomed in my head after walking around the IX district of Budapest yesterday for several hours. There was no other purpose to my walk other than the fact that I needed some fresh air and it was a lazy Saturday afternoon. Basically, I was revisiting the idea of walking for walking's sake.

From my flat, I headed in the opposite direction of the Parliament and kept walking. I spend the vast majority of my time in Belváros, or the city center, so I decided to give my eyes a change of scenery and by happenstance, I explored Ferenceváros – the ninth district. It's "up and coming." I walked towards Kálvin Tér and then I alternated streets, weaving back and forth along the alleyways of Ráday and Lónyay Utca. The architecture of these buildings, and throughout Budapest, really, is fascinating. Ráday street has an interesting vibrance, different from other popular areas in Pest. It's not as touristy in feel as Gozsdu Udvar, Vaci Utca, or Andrassy Út, which is probably just as well because it means that sör (beer) and gyros is around 100 Forints cheaper than your usual fare.

Confession: I compare neighborhoods in Budapest by the price of its gyros and shawarmas. It's a great economic indicator. In my neighborhood, the gyros is 680 Forints. At my workplace near the Basilica, it's a whopping 750 Ft. In the IX district, it was 600. Does this illuminate the socioeconomic situation a bit?

The most distinctive landmarks for me in Ferenceváros: cafes, pubs and restaurants along Ráday Utca, St. Francis of Assisi Temple (neo-Romanesque), Museum of Applied Arts (Art Nouveau – has the most beautiful emerald tiled roof similar to Market Hall; also has the largest Turkish rug collection outside Turkey), and Corvin Mozi.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

I am because of her. 영원히 사랑해.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Reunion in Prague

This weekend was spent catching up with Evey, an old friend I met while studying abroad in England my junior year of college. She flew out to attend a family wedding in Poland, and so we decided to meet up in Prague before heading down to Budapest, where I would show her around since she had never been. Evey is such a good person to have long conversations with, partly because she has a vibrant personality and always has a lot on her mind, but also because we both have backgrounds in visual storytelling from our graduate journalism degrees (hers in progress at UNC Chapel Hill).

It's kind of crazy to think about how we first met in England so many moons ago. We sporadically kept in touch but then were reunited when my younger sister, who also studied abroad at Oxford, met Evey. She had decided to do a second semester abroad her senior year – I don't blame her, I love that magical place. So that's how our worlds collided, and we got to talking again.

I took the train from Keleti Station and it was pretty much a straight shot from there. To make the weekend getaway somewhat more literary, I decided to check out some Kafka from the library and began reading Amerika on the way up. While the train was passing through Slovakia, I remember looking up at one point and seeing a field of yellow rapeseed flowers. The cheerful color was such a mood brightener!

After meeting up at our "home away from home," we took off to explore. It was an overcast day, which is actually quite ideal for taking photos. There's something about bridges – whether it's connecting people, places, or ideas – that I love. In this case, the Charles Bridge crosses the Czech Republic's longest river, the Vltava River. One of my mom's favorite songs growing up during her teens was Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water." I often think of this metaphor for friendships when crossing bridges. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

April Reads

Good introduction to political philosophy | utopias/dystopias | similar: Sophie's World, also read: Kazohinia, 1984, Animal Farm

11. The Stranger by Albert Camus
Existentialist | detached and hollow | quick read | similar: Franz Kafka

Secular humanism | critique | somewhat depressing but thought-provoking | next: moral philosophy, enlightenment philosophers

Autism as told through perspective of 15-year-old math genius | read: Uta Frith's Autism (Oxford Press) 

* Starting from this month, I've decided to start numbering the books according to what number they roughly correspond to in the 52-weeks this year.