Korean Update

Hello~

It’s nearly 1 a.m. right now, so I can’t guarantee that this will be coherent, but I thought I should give a little update on where I’m a with Korean.

I think I’ve been learning for a couple of months now? Maybe two or three? I still can’t really make sentences (because my vocabulary is very limited) but I’m starting to understand the grammar. I’m currently on lesson 6 on howtostudykorean.com, so I’m learning to conjugate verbs and adjectives in past, present, and future tense.

I have high hopes for the future. I’m going to try to apply myself even more and see where I can get by the end of November.

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All the People I’ll Never Meet

Whether I’m travelling to or from my internship or just exploring the city, I spend a good chunk of my time commuting. Since I carry a book around with me everywhere I go, I generally spend this time lost in whichever one I happened to have grabbed that morning. There are, however, rare occasions on which I don’t read (i.e. I can’t get my book out of my bag because the train is too full). Instead, I’m left standing awkwardly, steadying myself with whatever pole or person is in reach and hoping that no one makes eye contact with me.

In these situations – try as I may – I can’t stop myself from looking at (and subsequently wondering about) the people around me. Without meaning to, I find myself imagining how exactly they got to this point in their lives.

Did the orange plaid-wearing man with the iconic Silver Snail bag just make a trip to that comic book store, or is he using it to carry his lunch to work, like me?

Is the woman leaning her head against the window, staring listlessly into the darkness outside, alright? Did her passionate whirlwind relationship with the man of her dreams just come to an end, or is she just bored?

Why is that sleeping girl so tired? Does she work the night shift at her job, or did she just pull an all-nighter finishing a research paper for one of her classes? Maybe it’s neither. Maybe she just finds transit relaxing.

I walk by, stand beside, and make uncomfortable eye contact with hundreds of people every day, but I’d never break the unspoken rule of transit and actually talk to them.  

 

 

 

 

Powerful Tunes

Before I get into the details of each individual song (if I even do that, that is), let me just warn you that there is an obvious pattern here. I love songs that make me feel “inspired,” or whatever you might call it. I can’t quite put it into words, but I’m sure you know the feeling… You hear a song and feel like you can do anything (or at least whatever it is you need inspiration to overcome in that moment).

These are just three of the songs that do this for me. I love every song by all three of these artists, and there are a ton of songs in my music library that I would have put on this list, but these three are the ones I turn to most frequently.

Ah, okay. Before I continue, I should tell you that part of the writing challenge today is to free write, so expect disjointed thoughts and terrible sentence structure (as in the first challenge).

Strong as an Oak – Watsky
Here’s a link if you feel like checking it out.

This is the song I listen to before big presentations, tests and exams. I, like most university students, suffer from incredibly powerful test anxiety and need to relax before writing one or I can’t think straight. Since I walk to school, I’ll leave early on exam days and play this album (it’s called “Cardboard Castles”) on repeat until I make it to class.

It’s sounds cheesy as frick, but this song makes me feel… powerful, I guess you could say. It reminds me that even if things are bad at the moment, they can be overcome. Even if I fail whatever it is I’m about to do, I’ll have family and friends who’ll still love me and, realistically, my life won’t really be changed at all.

Kunnia – Korpiklaani
Here’s a link to this one.

I’m going to start off by saying that no, I don’t know what the words mean. I think the album came with an English version of every song, but even so I only ever remember the chorus of this song. Korpiklaani is a Finnish folk metal band that my friend introduced me to a couple years ago. Since then I’ve seen them live three times. The crowd at their shows is always made up of super tough-looking metalheads, but they’re the nicest people. I’ve been to a lot of concerts, and of all the audiences I’ve been in, these ones are usually the most polite and brotherly (if that makes sense).

But yeah, if you listen to the song you can probably see how I might consider it inspirational and/or power-evoking. It’s got a great beat, and the tone of it makes me want to get up and do things! Woo!

Bricks and Mortar – Cancer Bats
And last but not least, a link.

Alright, I listed this one last, but it’s probably actually my favourite song. Cancer Bats are a Canadian (from my city!) punk/metal band. I never would have heard of them if I hadn’t gone to this one music festival, the name of which has since slipped my mind (woops).

Anyway, my friends and I were at this festival. We intended to stay for one day, then drive home during the night. Being the spontaneous people (i.e. bad planners) that we were, we ended up deciding to see one of the last shows of the night, which meant we’d have to stay in a hotel overnight. I didn’t particularly want to wear the same sweaty clothes that I had on during the day (don’t judge me, it was hot), so I went to the nearest merch booth (read: cheapest merch booth) and tried to buy a t-shirt (they were $5!). I say tried because I was so nervous and so awkward that I could barely speak to the guy behind the table. He was a grungy punk with an un-spiked mohawk and he intimidated the hell out of me.

To my surprise, however, he was incredibly nice and – dare I say – gentle. He figured out that I wanted a shirt, gave me the right size and sent me off with a “have a good day.”

It wasn’t until much later that I learned he was the lead singer of the band. That pretty much convinced me to buy their album. He had honestly been such a sweet dude. That’s not to say I don’t love their music. I absolutely do! If you like punky metal, I highly suggest you listen to them. Also, if you’re ever kicking around Toronto, stop by Sneeky Dee’s; they have a french fry platter that’s named after one of Cancer Bat’s albums (that would be Hail Destroyer, for those who are curious).

FYI, the fries are as good as the music.

Happy Place

It’s an early spring morning. The sun already sits high in the sky, warming your back as you lay face-down on the thick blanket you spread out on the grass. A slight breeze rustles the leaves around you. Their whispers sound like rain.

Heat and cool come in waves. When the breeze subsides, the sun warms the exposed skin on your arms. Slowly, the cool air creeps back, whisking away just enough heat to keep you comfortable. It’s just warm enough to wear a t-shirt without shivering.

You close your eyes for a moment, lowering your head onto crossed arms. You can hear sparrows and starlings sing. With your face so close to the ground, you can smell the sweet scent of new grass. You rest.

Once again, you lift your head. Everything around you is fresh. The mottled mix of rich green leaves stands strong against the bright blue sky. After a long and arduous winter, you appreciate this beauty even more.

Subconcious Procrastination

So today is the first day of Blogging University, and while it does not necessarily have to do with translation or languages, I am participating because I think it’s an awesome way to practice writing. And who knows, with a few twists and tweaks I might actually be able to turn their prompts into topics that fit the intended theme of this blog.

Anywho, today’s challenge is to free-write for twenty minutes. That’s not too difficult for me, since most of my writing is free. The area I have difficulty in is planning what to write and structuring articles in a logical way. Hopefully there will be something down the line that forces me to do that.

Interestingly enough, I nearly forgot to do this very simple first task. I got caught up in a short story I was writing and next thing I know, it;s 11:24 p.m. and the daily prompt is only active for… for… 36 minutes? Is that right? I am ridiculously bad at math. I guess that’s what happens when you study French. Use it, as they say, or lose it.

I was so wrong about this being easy. Since it’s so late, my brain is exhausted and I can’t think of anything to write. This happens to me a lot. So much, actually, that I think I should be used to it. This is basically the state in which I write all of my academic essays. Yes, I know I’m a bad student. But I get everything done and handed in on time, so there’s that! This year was particularly difficult because my essays were of the English literature variety. I do love me some English lit., but when it comes to analyzing and arguing… I am not the best. For whatever reason, I have such a hard time coming up with themes, symbols, messages and the like when I am being force to do so by a teacher/professor/educational authority figure. When I’m reading a book of my own choosing, I have no problem digging deeper to find meaning in the text. I wonder if it has something to do with the judgement aspect of essay writing. I know that technically there are no wrong answers in English, but having someone far more knowledgeable go over my thesis and evaluate my arguments is incredibly stressful. I never feel like anything I write is good enough.

I feel like that about a lot of my writing though, not just academic essays. I wonder if every writer feels this way? Even J.K. Rowling must have some doubts about her writing skill. Maybe even Ernest Hemingway did. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be totally confident in my work. Realistically, it would probably be detrimental. You can’t improve yourself and your skills if you already believe that everything you do is perfect. If I were totally confident in my work I might get stuck in a developmental stasis, which is not something that I want to be stuck in. I love learning new things. It’s what I live for!

On the topic of learning new things, I have recently checked out ~25 books from the library. As of yesterday I have read… one. I’m working on what I’d call and “anecdotal grammar guide,” but I’m finding it really difficult to motivate myself to keep reading it. It’s not my style of book at all, but I want to write a review of it. I can’t write a review unless I read the whole thing.

Who knows? Maybe if I push through to the end, I’ll end up liking it (although I highly doubt that). The problem with wanting to finish, however, is that I can’t start another book until I’m done this one. It just doesn’t feel right. I have the tendency to start multiple books at a time, and then I get the plots (if it’s fiction) or facts (if it’s non-fiction) all mixed up and I end up learning nothing of use. At least some of them are fun reads. I try to learn something from every book, and it’s made so much easier and more fun when the writing style is relaxed and casual. And when the author uses anecdotes! I love having a glimpse into other peoples’ lives, and if they feel the need to share a story in order to properly convey and idea, I am so down for that!

I have 1 minute and 30 seconds to write. I feel very bad that this post has just been a mélange of disjointed thoughts and ideas but, like I said, I’m going to try to do this Blogging University thing to the best of my ability! We’ll be back to our regular scheduled programming come the end of June!

Thanks for reading, and thanks for putting up with me!

The Absolute Worst Thing about Libraries

 

If you are anything like me, you’ve probably got a problem with libraries.

You can’t stay out of them.

You spend hours browsing your local library’s online catalogue, placing holds and praying you don’t forget to pick them up. When you do remember to get them, you can’t stop yourself from exploring the aisles… even though you’ve already packed a pile of books into your bag.

Surrounded on all sides by tall shelves stacked high with countless books, your blood rushes with adrenaline. The possibilities are endless. Every single bound beauty holds stories and secrets, myths and mysteries, facts and fantasies beyond your wildest dreams and you want to read them all.

When I first moved to Toronto, I scoffed at the 50-item limit. Who, I thought, would ever take out 50 items at a time? Me. That’s who. It didn’t take me long to realize that my small-town local library paled in comparison to the multi-branch colossus that is the Toronto Public Library. They have books on virtually every topic imaginable, from XML coding to Icelandic grammar manuals (just two of my most recent obsessions). The problem is, of course, that I want it all. Whether I have a specific book in mind or not, every time I go to the library I end up leaving with everything I wanted and then some. To everyone who has ever asked my why I always carry a backpack around… The better to carry my books in, my dear.