The Perfect Kind of Cold

It feels like it was only a couple of months ago when I wrote about the greens sprouting up and about the people in bright-colored dresses. But that was only a month after the Spring Equinox on which I learned that my grandmother has cancer. I mechanically passed Beltaine and Lughnasadh, wrapped up in my university work load and not really glancing at the nature.

Now my favorite season is in full swing: Autumn. Today is autumnal equinox, or Mabon. Instead of showing off their legs, people hunch their shoulders to brave the cold. The fingertips grow cold in the outside when they are left unprotected. The wind is growing little teeth that doesn’t sting much – yet. And if you leave without a jacket, the cold will slowly seep into your skin, but only so much that a hot shower could chase it out again.
It’s getting colder, and it’s getting darker.
After today, the days will only get shorter and shorter for the next six months, which is not what I’m looking forward to. But autumn itself is lovely, and not just because of the pretty colors outside the window (although I do love all shades of red and yellow and orange). The air is crisp – no metallic snowy smell nor heat and humidity weighing it down. It might be too cold for a flimsy long-sleeve, but throw on another jacket and you achieve the perfect body temperature. Oh, and I can finally drink tea without sweating. Tea, tea, tea. English Breakfast tea with milk in the morning, Korean brown rice green tea in the afternoon, occasional Lady Grey for a change of scenery, Earl Grey if I want a presence of bergamot.

I am reminded of two Mabons ago when I was also working on an academic paper – a part of my high school graduation exams. I remember the months filled with anxiety and frustration, the excruciating four or three final weeks on a frenzied run, and finally the day I roughly finished the paper, and the sweet rush I got from it at four o’clock in the morning.
Now I’m writing a paper as a university homework, and I’m hating every process. There’s no creativity here. You are supposed to follow certain steps and basically write 20 pages about what other (important, scholarly) people think about this and that subjects. You can’t even choose your own topic – all students have to “solve” the same case so that it will be easier for the correctors, who get paid lousy 5 euros (or maybe it’s 6) per paper. I thought it was important for lawyers to keep ideas fresh, stay creative and impartial. If you are teaching first-year-students that no one is interested in their opinion and that they should just follow what other (important, scholarly) people wrote about, where will we be in five years? The university isn’t teaching me to think for myself. It’s making me unsure whether I even have an opinion. It’s teaching me that my opinions are practically worthless. It doesn’t give a damn about that, though. Goodness, this whole crazy thing makes me mad. But it’s also making me rebellious, which is like a wake-up call for me to flip the bird to those who think they know what’s the best for me.

Batch Review #12

The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round ThingsThe Earth, My Butt & Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

Reasons why TEMBAOBRT and its heroine/narrator Virginia Shreves are cool:

1. The sexy times are realistically awkward. And it has positive message about teenage sexy times and exploring his/her own body.
2. The importance of CONSENT, everyone, hurrah.
3. Virginia lets herself feel.
4. She’s also a no-nonsense kind of person.
5. The way she hates her body and yet tries to love herself is so poignant and relatable.
6. How she used to accept the ingrained society’s stigma about how an overweight person should behave and fat-shaming and how she slowly leaves it behind.
7. Dr. Love: It’s health, not weight.
8. Shannon and Virginia.
9. The loving and well-meaning parents but a father so careless and a mother so criticizing.
10. Feminist sister (who doesn’t make much of appearance, unfortunately).
11. Lists, like this one, only funnier and sadder.

The Murder on the LinksThe Murder on the Links (Hercule Poirot #2) by Agatha Christie

You can read the Poirot books out of order (I’m for instance reading the Marple books out of order) but I’m so glad that I’m following the publication history! There’s a reference or two to the first book (but not who the murderer was or anything like that!).
Now, The Murder on the Links was bloody brilliant. Its twists, so many times over, at the end you gasp every other page as another revelation hits you. I NEVER GUESSED. Agatha Christie really does deserve her crown as the queen of crime, in my opinion. She anticipates your train of thoughts, and BAM! It’s cul-de-sac.
I’ve got to read every Poirot book now. Too bad my sister spoiled The Murder of Roger Ackroyd for me.

양 한테 쓰는 편지 #1

메에 ~
나의 귀엽고 사랑스럽고 너~무나 재밌고 때론 무서운 양 ♡
태원한지 얼마나 됬다고 여기 저기서 막 함부로 대하고 정말 못됬어, 그지? 언니도 언니대로 앞으로 스트레스 받을 일 많은데… 물론 언니가 투덜 거리면서도 해야 할 일 잘 챙겨 하는 거 알지 ~
아름다운 것과 편안함과 맛있는 걸 추구하는, 가끔 너무나도 눈이 부실 것 만큼 예쁘고 가슴이 물컹해지게 남한테 잘해주는 언니. 가끔씩 서로 싸우고 상처 받고 하지만 그래도 주위를 둘러 보니까 우리 만큼 사이 좋은 자매도 없더라고. (적어도 우리는 싸울 때 서로 “야 이 X년아” 라고는 안 하잖아 – 누구 내 랑 다르게… 물론 동생인 나로선 그런 욕을 입에 담을 엄두도 못 내지만!) 언니가 곰돌이를 탄생시킨 뒤로 부터 서서히 뭔가 자유로워지는 느낌인거 있지. 나의 일부를 세상으로 부터 숨기지 않았도 되는 느낌이랄까…
우리가 서로 죽도록 잘해줄 때도 있고 소홀히 할때도 있지만 난 그래도 언니가 4/5 좋고 1/5 무서워 ^^. 아마 자매 관계에선 동생이 언니를 약간은 두려워 하는게 건강한 걸지도?
아무튼 언니 힘내고 동생이 저 대륙 건너편에서 언니 응원하고 있다는 거 잊지마 ~

유령양을 은근히 닮은 꼼돌이가

Batch Review #11

The Last BoyfriendThe Last Boyfriend (Inn BoonsBoro #2) by Nora Roberts

Oh, goodness. A much better experience than with The Next Always. I’m still not overly fond of the characters but at least I have gotten used to them. Weirdly enough I like Clare & Beckett better in this book, too. So maybe it’s the who-the-heck-are-all-these-characters problem and the next time I read The Next Always, I will love it. The thing is of course that I normally don’t have this sort of problem with Nora books.
Anyway, Owen & Avery were so cute together. And now that the inn is opening, there are not as many three-page-long description of constructing something (although there are of course new projects Justine has cooked up).

The Perfect HopeThe Perfect Hope (Inn BoonsBoro #3) by Nora Roberts

One of the perks of reading Nora trilogies is that I don’t have any problem marathoning them. Usually I get “sick” of characters if I read about them for too long, even if it’s a trilogy. I never have that problem with Nora trilogies, and in this regard the Inn BoonsBoro trilogy wasn’t an exception.

Now the inn is in full swing, Avery’s second restaurant & bar is getting finishing touches, and the Montgomery brothers are working on the Fit In BoonsBoro project. Oh, and the smoldering passion between Ryder and Hope is about to get ignited.
I really appreciate Ryder and personality. I appreciate Hope’s, too. It’s very cool in a very weird way that their personalities fit so well together. And by now I had gotten used to the construction talk.
The mystery of Lizzy the Ghost is also revealed at the end.

Duchessina Duchessina (Young Royals #5) by Carolyn Meyer

One should probably not read historical fiction for its accuracy.
The best thing about historical fiction, though? You get to meet the characters (important historical figures) in an interesting and intimate way. You don’t have to force yourself to memorize who Caterina de’ Medici’s parents were, how Pope Clement VII was related to her, who Alessandro and Ippolito were, and so on.
With Duchessina, Carolyn Meyer breaks away from the Tudors (although it’s still all connected, thanks to the diplomatic marriages between royal families). As fascinated as I am with the Tudors, it was really exciting to get to learn other dynasties. Although one has to add that the Medicis are not royals by blood, but they wielded considerable power in Italy, esp. in Florence, and they produced two popes – Leo X and Clement VII.
So Caterina de’ Medici has been an orphan since she was a few weeks, and she grows up having to fear for her safety – first the revolts in Florence due to which she spends a few years in different convents, then worrying about where she is going to be shipped to as one of the richest bride in Europe, and then her first childless ten years with the future Henry II of France (who is besotted by his mistress, Diane de Poltiers, and will continue to be so for the rest of his life) during which Pope Clement VII dies, making Caterina’s future uncertain again.
Duchessina ends with the death of Henry II of France, paving a way for Caterina (or Catherine, as she is called in France) to live truly as the Queen of France. It also ends before the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, which mainly gave her the name “Madame Serpent”, I think. I like the way the author tells the stories of young royals who had to endure so many uncertainties and dangers in their youth. It makes me able to empathize with them to a certain degree (the exception being Anne Boleyn from Doomed Queen Anne). I am curious about whether the parts of convent friends, Betta and Akasma are really true (probably not). Oh, and I wonder whether the author gets her information mainly from Wikipedia and starts out from there.
Another great thing of reading historical fiction is that you become interested in the era and the ruling royals and their politics – in essence, you become interested in history. So after doing some digging, I found out:

  • Catherine de’ Medici is the mother-in-law to Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots
  • Three of her sons become kings – François II, Charles IX of France, Henry III of France.
  • Her daughter Margaret married the future Henry IV of France. But their marriage is a complicated one. I still haven’t sorted it out yet.
  • Her daughter Elisabeth married Philip II of Spain, whose wife, Mary I of England, had died shortly before. Apparently Philip was very fond of Elisabeth (so different from his behavior towards Mary I, no?) but Elisabeth died giving birth nine years after their marriage. She was 23.
  • At some point, her son Hercule François was considered a match for Elizabeth I of England. In the end, of course, it did not go through.

Movie Review: Silver Linings

So I finally watched the movie Silver Linings Playbook based on Matthew Quick’s book The Silver Linings Playbook, with Jennifer Lawrence starring as Tiffany (which won her an Oscar, among other things) and Bradley Cooper (which won him an Oscar nomination, among others) Pat.

Because book and movie are two vastly different mediums, a word-for-word transformation into a movie is impossible. Quite few things – quite few important things – were left out or changed for the sake of movie. I’m not going to compare those two and say which is better, because that’d be stupid of me. In each format there are things you miss and things you rejoice in.

What I liked about the movie is the expansion on Tiffany’s character – Jennifer Lawrence’s acting is impressive (esp. the raisin bran scene and Tiffany’s instability as a whole). Especially the part where she says that somehow she always manages to get herself into fucked-up situations touched me. I think if the book had allowed the readers to get a peek into Tiffany’s mind, we would have found a similar woman. The more I think about it the more different movie-Tiffany and book-Tiffany are. Movie-Tiffany is a lot more confrontational (facing Pat’s dad and about the “curse”) and open about her emotions (opening up with an almost stranger at the diner and then getting hurt by his judging) than book-Tiffany. She’s also more frank, I think. I did like the part where Pat is fascinated by Tiffany’s sexual, uh, adventures (of course he went on to ruin it by basically telling her she’s slut) but book-Tiffany didn’t open up about her sickness until much later. Book-Tiffany is more cautious about offering anything – be it emotion or information. Because she’s so closed in, she’s more vulnerable inside. Of course, no doubt the aggressive-Tiffany is in there somewhere. Not getting to know Tiffany better was my only complaint about the book, and now I feel like I did get to know a part of her. So, thank you, movie.
Oh, and also the dancing scene! SO beautiful! The visual factor is the biggest strength of movies, in my opinion. Seeing it sure beats reading about the dancing. Pat’s mom’s strength showed through even in the movie, I think, although it was toned down quite some. (Even though they couldn’t ask Jennifer Lawrence to become the superb dancer that book-Tiffany is described as. But I still found her really good at dancing.)
Regarding the ending I like both versions fine – the more-Pat-and-Tiffany-like book ending and the silver-linings-like ending. I think the movie played the story as a romantic comedy one, which isn’t necessarily bad. It’s just that the book strikes another tone, so if you have watched the movie first, be prepared for the book.

What I didn’t like about the movie is that Pat already knew about the Incident from the very beginning. This let the tension and suspense out of the story – but I suppose such a thing is harder to keep out of movies than out of books. I also found it unrealistic that Nikki showed up at the dancething, after all that happened. The fact alone that the Pat Peoples is quite different from Pat Solatano doesn’t bother me that much. Pat Peoples was an unreliable narrator (in a way) due to the head trauma but that doesn’t make the book a bad one. Since that would have been difficult to translate onto screens, we have a bipolar disorder instead. Oooh, two more things that bothered me a lot: 1) I missed the beautiful friendship shared between Pat and his brother Jake. 2) The racist remarks hurled at the Asian Invasion and Dr. Petal (although at least in one instance the movie marks it as a problem, in other scenes it is overplayed as a sense of humor. Nope, making fun of foreigners and foreign cultures is NOT a joke material.).

In Growing Darkness, Through the Pink Haze

Today is one of those days. Days on which you have to force yourself to get out of bed, cajole yourself into eating some food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. Days you prefer dusk to dawn.

You can just see the red-pink patch on the sky slowly fading. The only light is coming from my laptop’s screen. Instead of feeling uneasy or lonely, this is very comforting. You don’t want to think about what appointments you have tomorrow, or how to pay the bills, or what’s happening to the global politics. You want to be in your head-zone to make a hard day bearable. Your body feels heavy, asleep, maybe even temporarily dead. But your brain has latched onto that zone that tunes out the rest of the world but for what you can just see out of your windows. The cars driving by make a soothing, lulling sound. The tall trees feel like a safe wall, like no harm could happen right now. Maybe you should silently brush your teeth and go to bed now. Tomorrow will come faster than you wish it would. Tomorrow you might not be as lucky today – it’s not every day that you can take off.

But it’s still today yet. The pink haze is gone, the darkness has not quite descended on us. There’s still time for today. Time for myself.

톼끼한테 쓰는 편지 #1

톼끼야,

나 꼼돌이야. 추석연휴인데도 우리 톼끼 완전히 파김치더라. 옆에서 애교도 못 떨고, 톼끼 하는 말 들어주지도 못하고 어떡해. 내가 너때매 전전긍긍이야.

아빠는 자꾸 나보고 페이퍼 시작했냐고 제촉이야. 실은 도착하고 난 뒤 너무 정신도 기력도 없어서 별로 아무 것도 못하고 있는데. 하루 하루 연명하는 게 왜 이렇게 귀찮지? 난 나 자신을 하루 세끼 멕이고 나면 승리의 춤을 추고 있어. (걱정마 – 지금까지는 잘 챙겨먹고 있어. 지난 7월과는 달리 식단을 만들기 보다는 쉽게 조리할 수 있는 제료를 사다 놓고 그날 그날 끌리는 데로 요리해 가며 먹고 있어.) 이제 슬슬 다시 대학 모드로 바꿔야지. 이렇게 동 떨어저서 어짜피 한국에 있는 톼끼나 양이나 못 도와 주는 거 아는데 그게 왜 이렇게 무기력하게 느껴질까.

한달 동안 북적거리다 갑자기 집안이 조용하니까 너무 이상해. 와서 바쁜데 친구를 두명이나 초대해서 노닥거린 것 (<-) 도 외로움을 좀 달래기 위해서였어. 다른 사람들이 내 집에 남기고 간 흔적을 보니까 그나마 좀 혼자라는 생각이 덜 들어서. 그런데도 뭔가 좀 허전하다. 안이 텅 빈것 같아. 겉으로는 아닌 척 하려고 애쓰지만…

나는 그래도 복 받은 곰돌이라고 생각해. 톼끼도 있지, 양순이도 있지, 오장육부 건강하고 스스로 생각할 수 있고. 그래도 내가 좋아하는 거라고 이렇게 여기서 공부하고 있고. 한국에서 어른들께서 누누이 말씀하셨듯이 내가 고른 길이 잖아. 내가 해보겠다고 자청한거니까 어떻게든 끝내야지. 비록 눈을 뜰 수 없을 만큼 나 자신을 졸립게 해야하고 밥 먹을 때 음악을 틀어 놓고 문 앞에 발자국 소리가 들릴 때 마다 긴장하지만, 언젠가는 혼자 살아야 하는 거잖아. 물론 톼끼 품에 좀 더 오래 안겨 있을거라고 생각했지만. 그렇지만 세상에 슬픈 일들이 그렇게 많은 데 내가 엄마 얼굴 못 본다고 징징 짜는 게 너무 사친 것 같아서 감사하는 마음으로 살고 싶어. 난 아직도 왜 내가 사는지, 앞으로 어떻게 살아야 될지 모르겠어. 모르니까 일단 나 자신을 추스리며 지금 옳다고 생각 되는 것, 혹은 지금 할 수 밖에 없는 걸 하며 하루 하루를 연명할래. 후회하고 싶지는 않지만, 후회가 없단 건 실수가 없었다는 거고, 실수가 없으면 난 앞으로 전진할 수 없어. 그렇니까 실수투성이로 후회하며 눈물 닦으며 앞과 뒤, 양 옆을 바라 보며 살고 싶어.

톼끼 힘내. 내가 톼끼 많이 많이 사랑하고 내 사랑을 우주에 보낼게. 돌고 돌아 톼끼한테 다시 돌아가게.

나한텐 톼끼가 No. 1이야. 알지? 평생 사랑해.  너처럼 미치도록 사랑하는 사람이 그래도 있는 게 어디야.

다음에 또 쓸게.

곰돌이가.

Batch Review #10

Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseExtremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Oskar is a ten-year-old who is very smart in some matters and not knowledgable in others. His dad died during the attacks of 9/11 and Oskar can’t get a closure – and so when he finds a key among his dad’s belongings, he starts a search for a lock that will fit. A search that takes him all over the NYC, a search during which he finds friends, a search that is intertwined with a past he hasn’t an inkling of.
I suppose Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close can be termed as literary fiction? I picked up the book because the random pictures and writings and playing with the format intrigued me. In the end they don’t mean much – just a visual reenforcement of the words, or sometimes not even that.
EL&IC isn’t just about Oskar’s story. It’s also his grandmother’s and his grandfather’s story, and what happened in Dresden in 1945.
A part of the title is mentioned in one passage: “Then, out of nowhere, a flock of birds flew by the window, extremely fast and incredibly close. Maybe twenty of them. Maybe more. But they also seemed like just one bird, because somehow they all knew exactly what to do.” (p. 165 – 168)The writing is not exactly pretentious. Sometimes it reflects the simplicity and monotony of everyday life. Sometimes it’s trying too hard to be important, but somehow it’s not that bad because most of it comes from a ten-year-old boy and that makes it somehow okay.

The Next AlwaysThe Next Always (Inn BoonsBoro #1) by Nora Roberts

Okay, so I had high hopes for this one. 1) It’s part of a contemporary trilogy by Nora Roberts. Those have been all awesome (Born In, Dream, Chesapeake Bay, Gallaghers of Ardmore, Bride Quartet). 2) It’s about an inn! Which is like a hotel…. which is like the Templeton House trilogy… right? Right? 3) It was written directly after the Bride Quartet, whose books are ones of my favorite Nora Roberts ever.
Instead, I cracked the book open, waiting to be swept away… and I just couldn’t connect with the characters. Characters are one of the strongest suits Nora novels have. Characters and their relationships with each other. But this time, it just fell flat. The three Montgomery brothers were busy as hell and sniped at each other but there wasn’t much to it – for the most part. Clare, Avery and Hope are nice and each has her own characteristic, I guess, but they are too bland. I felt like I didn’t get to know them all that well. Worst of all, I didn’t care about them.
I didn’t care about the inn that much, either. I felt like the author has written a very extensive advertisement for her own inn. The first book is very much about the restoration of the inn, and I felt like reading a building guide. I dunno – I guess I had expected (and that’s my bad) a breezy, energetic summer feeling à la Bride Quartet.
Once the three boys and their first day with Beckett were introduced, it went better. Enough for me to decide to get the second book to finish the trilogy right away. Ugh, we’ll see, I suppose.

The Secret Diary of Lizzie BennetThe Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su & Kate Rorick

I have watched a dozen or more episodes of the YouTube series, so I was familiar with the tone and the casting. What interested me most about this book form was Lizzie’s position as graduate student about to finish her master’s degree. Lizzie’s conflict with Lydia was well played out, too, and it’s reaching to the heart of the readers. But to intensify that you’ve gotta watch the web episodes.
Okay, I enjoyed the San Fransisco scenes, too. And the private Lizzie & Darcy moments after they solved their tug-and-pull. (They are small and subtle scenes, so don’t get your hopes up.)
As a modern adaptation, I think Bernie Su and Kate Rorick and the whole team made it a very realistic one. The Bennets’ financial situation might be probably – and unfortunately – a familiar scene to many U.S. readers. Charlotte no longer has to marry to escape her even more dire financial troubles. Bing suffers from pressures set on his shoulders by his family and their acquaintances. Jane had her forty-eight hours worry. She also loves her job and has a successful career eventually. Lizzie is in the end on equal footing with Darcy. (Okay, I admit I don’t know whether the founding-own-company-and-getting-financial-backers-based-on-a-series-of-YouTube-videos is realistic.)

Movie Reviews

In the last month or so I probably watched more movies than I usually do in one year. Here are short movie reviews:

School Ties, with Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Chris O’Donnell [1992]
Football games, discrimination against Jewish people in the 90s in the USA. Fancy prep school! Brendan Fraser portrayed the charismatic David Greene *little swoon*, who gets scouted for his football skills and gets a scholarship to the prep school. He hides the fact that he is Jewish though. I love the camaraderie between the boys and how they stick up for each other (until the truth comes to light, of course). I especially love the crank scene. My cousin, my sister and me all groaned when Sally made the entrance because a pretty girl among boys is bound to stir up trouble, right? And she didn’t even stick around in the end. And the actors are all so young! Seeing young Matt Damon and Chris O’Donnell was weird but in a good way. Matt Damon’s character, Dillon, is not totally unlikable. He suffers from the pressure put on by the family, the school, and maybe even fellow students. But yeah, he’s a prick.

Scent of a Woman, with Al Pacino, Chris O’Donnell [1992]
I think this is a famous movie? But I had no clue that this one also starts at a prep school. This time, Chris O’Donnell (playing Charlie) is the scholarship student instead of the rich roommate (see School Ties). To earn money during the Thanksgiving holiday, Charlie takes up the job of looking after a retired and blind colonel (played by Al Pacino). But when the colonel insists on them going to NYC for a list of things to do, Charlie’s quiet everyday life is thrown out of water. Meanwhile, he gets to know the colonel and his plans better. And all the while Charlie is struggling about the impending doom concerning a prank he witnessed – does he confess that he knows who the prankers were? Or does he keep silent? Either way there would be consequences. Impressive acting on both Al Pacino’s and Chris O’Donnell’s part, and a memorable ending. (The last thirty minutes of the movie I was all worked up about how the movie would end.)

Vertical Limit, with Chris O’Donnell [2000]
Since my cousin had developed a celebrity crush on Chris O’Donnell, we watched another of his movies – this time when he was thirty years old! The movie was very scary to me – both the nature’s force and humans’ greed and malice. The movie had me sweaty-palmed for its entire length, and in the end I had to wonder whether it was worth to rescue one human life only to lose four more in the process? In German law it is forbidden to weigh human lives and their worth… but it’s so sad, the way they died. They were courageous and it was their choice, but I can’t help but grieve.

Closer, with Jude Law, Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Natalie Portman [2004]
Dan’s such a child -_- Loved Natalie Portman’s acting, though. And weirdly enough I developed a crush on Clive Owen’s character, Larry. The key theme that binds these four characters is sex, or sexual desire. While there is no explicit sex scene (it’s all told by the characters themselves in retrospective) the movie works with the sexual pull inside the viewers. It also asks the question as to how sex and love and lust are related to each other. The time jumps between the sequences were in a way annoying because I had to wait till I could figure out what the heck happened in those three untold years.

Love in the Afternoon, with Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper [1957]
Funny, sweet, sooooo pretty! She really is like a fairy, isn’t she? Ariane’s father was hilarious, too.

Sabrina, with Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, William Holden [1954]
Another hilarious and cute mood-lifter.

The Quiet Man, with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara [1952]
Gorgeous backdrop of Inisfree, with a nosy and loving community, old-fashioned costumes, fiery tempers.

…And Justice for All, with Al Pacino [1979]
Another impressive acting, Al Pacino! My aunt showed me the movie since I will be working in the field of law. Law and legal system are something that are supposed to work together to find out the truth, and to protect the innocent. But all that gets tangled and goes sometimes even under due to procedures and corruption. Although I’m hoping to never work in the criminal laws’ area (but then again, I am reminded of Judge Sotomayor’s words and how civil cases can be more dangerous) …And Justice For All is a movie that will remind me of the laws’ real objective again.

Runaway Jury, with John Cusack, Rachel Weisz, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman [2003]
Another courtroom drama, this time a civil matter. Since the U.S. legal system operates on the jury system, it makes sense that both parties – plaintiff and defendant – will try to influence the jury’s opinions. Sigh. Dirty business, all this.

Begin Again, with Keira Knightley, Adam Levine, Mark Ruffalo [2013/2014]
Watched this one in the cinema with my sis. I had my usual Keira moments (but her acting was better in this one) but it is a fun movie with lots of music and producing & recording of it. The ending also felt rather open and real.

Divergent, with Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Zoë Kravitz, Kate Winslet, Ansel Elgort [2014]
So I had too much time during the flight, and to chase away the boredom, I decided to peruse Korean Air’s selection of movies. Lo and behold, there were even three movies I was interested in, but I narrowed it down to two because all of sudden I didn’t have enough time.
Divergent was the first one I watched because I craved the adrenaline. Oh, and adrenaline I got. My hands were constantly clammy because jumping from moving trains! Jumping down from a tall building! Sliding down from 20 or 30 storeys building! Combat lessons! Fear landscape! The movie changed some details but I liked those changes for the most part. The casting was a mix of good and meh, but I especially like Tris, Christina and Jeanine’s casting. Tris was a bit too put together to fit my picture of book-Tris, Christina’s jealousy was missing (which I didn’t mind), and Theo James is almost too sexy to be the Four in my head. That asshole Peter’s role was almost nonexistent (well, his name didn’t get mentioned that often so I was wondering which of the snotty guys was Peter). The setting was awesome though – Chicago with its broken buildings, high fences. Colorful clothes for Amity, black for Dauntless, gray for Abnegation, blue for Erudite, and Candor – hm, I forgot.
I did miss the Dauntless-born initiates, esp. Uriah, though. Like, they were just one of the many.

The Fault in Our Stars, with Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern [2014]
This is the truest book-to-movie adaptation I have ever seen. Almost nothing was changed. Perfect casting, great acting. It had its sticky-sweet moments (such as the restaurant scene, or the Anne Frank House scene), but the actors really brought Green’s dialogues to life, and I had tears streaming down my face in the airplane. My seatmate must have been weirded out by me but I don’t really care. There were times I wished I was watching the movie at home because I just wanted to sob loudly and I couldn’t. Damn it. The TFiOS movie burst the emotional dam I had been building in July, and I felt free and daring again. And fearless. And grateful.

My Trip to South Korea

Long time no see! Well, actually I haven’t seen any of you readers ever so maybe “long time no see” is a bit inappropriate. But since I haven’t seen my blog for a while, it is in a way a “long time no see”.

Let’s cut to the chase. Last July, those two weeks of five exams before my second semester at uni was officially over, I was on the verge of mental and physical collapse. I was overly anxious, too anxious even to go out and take care of everyday’s matters such as grocery. Too anxious to make phone calls. Too anxious about my personal safety when there wasn’t a reason to be worried. Too anxious and scared out of wits about the exams.
I was exhausted.
Then I went home for a month. It’s like Mom told me before she left. She told me that “home” was the place my mom was waiting for me.

So I went home, for the duration of the whole month of August. And it was wonderful. So here is a break-down of my trip.

The Places & The People
I was primarily in Seoul, visiting my aunts and uncle and cousins and former private English teacher. Oh, and shopping with my sister. I had loads of fun shopping – and not just for books! We shopped for clothes and shoes and had a good time. Now I’m not afraid of going to the department store alone (everyone’s so friendly – many people have a professional facade they slip on when they are doing their job. I can’t say for sure whether that’s healthy.) but in Germany there’s scarcely anything that I like or that fits me. My sister and I also went to bookstores (there are three big chain stores – 교보, 영풍, 반디엔루니스) a lot.
I also spent ten days in Ulsan visiting my maternal grandparents, who are the most giving people I know (My Granddad is a real patriarch à la Daniel MacGregor), and my aunt. Out of those ten I went to Daegoo with my aunt for an afternoon, and another day my sister and I made a trip over to Gyeongju to visit my other aunt and our surrogate cousin.
I think I’ve met almost all of my immediate family members (by “immediate” I mean uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents). The only ones I didn’t get to meet were my Canadian relatives, and four other cousins (Jeez, I actually only saw 4 cousins while I was there – out of ten.) But it was SO MUCH FUN to meet with uncles and aunts and to banter with them and to just see them again. It’s been four years since I saw them last (most of them anyway), and it was so so good to be a small part of a big family again. I think my mind relaxed more and more as I met more and more people. Weird, huh? Since the people I meet in Germany wear me out so much. But being on the streets, even in the stores, didn’t bother me at all in Korea. I didn’t stick out, and the faces I saw were familiar in a way, and had a calming effect. In short, I felt at home.

The Books & The Reading
I confess, I didn’t get much reading done. I read Mari Yonehara‘s book on her time she spent in Prague when she was in elementary school, which resonated with me here and there. With my sister’s permission I took it with me. I also read the Korean translation of A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park, and at first I couldn’t believe it was a translation! Of course, the author wrote about Korea in 13th century, so translating that into Korean wasn’t as hard, I suppose. But I feel a respect for the author who researched all this to write such a beautiful book that contains as much – if not more? – Korean sentiments than any other books written by Korean authors who have lived their whole lives in Korea. While I was bored, I also read The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie‘s first detective novel, and also the novel that set off Hercule Poirot’s long career. My sister told me that AC and her sister had made a bet that it is possible to write a detective story one can’t guess who the murderer is until the end. I’d say AC succeeded!
I bought only one English book while I was in Korea, the rest is gifts from my aunt (my second aunt on father’s side) and my sister:
August Book Haul 2August Book Haul  1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So the one I bought is George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London. I lucked out at bargain sale at Bandi & Lunis my aunt got me four books for 3000 Won each – that’s like 2 Euros each, and even less in USD. Those are: The Big Four by Agatha Christie, Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger, Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts, and Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, Signet edition. My sister gave me three more books, The Labours of Hercules, Measly Middle Ages, and English Fairy Tales, Wordsworth Editions.
I also got some books in Korean – two books on Korean civil law and criminal law, respectively, and a book I bought at the Gyeongju National Museum about the Korean culture. My sis gave me two cute, funny books, one about 리락쿠마, and the other one about cuuuuute cats. Oh, and one more from my first aunt on maternal side:

August Book Haul 3

The Personal
I learned that just because I’m living in Germany right now doesn’t mean I have to live here forever and that it is okay that I sometimes can’t think of a certain German word, or Korean word, or English word. I learned that I don’t have to hate my country just because its politics suck and its legal system is shaky. I realized that I am actually pretty proud of my country and that I get defensive when someone bashes it. I learned to love and appreciate my family, and I basked in the precious feeling of being loved by people just because I was related to them. I have promised several members of family that I’d take care of myself, that I’d eat healthily, that I’d exercise. That helps, actually, because now it isn’t just about me, it’s about those promises, too.

I hope I have tanked on enough positive energy to last two whole semesters. *takes a deep breath* Here we go.