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Thursday, March 29, 2007

On Books and Buying Tickets

March will forever be remembered (well, by me, anyway) as one of the most mediocre blogging months in my entire life. What do I have, like, six entires this month? Pathetic! I truly am ashamed of my demoted rank in the blogosphere.

As I read through The Brothers Karamazov, I can't help but want to name a future dog "Alyosha." Al for short. Oddly, though, I am finding it more tedious to read this novel than anything I've read by Dostoevsky. Maybe because he wrote this toward the end of his life, when he had worked through all that nihilistic Raskolnikov energy and all that "underground" anxiety. I tend to feel a greater connection to those listless and anarchic characters than I do the impossibly pious people that litter BK, and I don't think Dostoevsky's (relative) youth is a coincidence. Can you relate to an artist's work better when you're at similar stages in your lives? I'm sure something like Beloved changes wildly once you have children; likewise, the reborn Russian Orthodoxy of Dostoevsky kind of hangs over the whole of BK in much the same way that his more radical feelings were injected into every sentence of Crime and Punishment.

Or maybe I'm just older now, and I'm not as excited by his traditional fare as I was when I read C&P for the first time in high school. Yet the oddly traditional "harper" (harpist) Joanna Newsom's Ys has been an auditory delight lately. I'm so postmodern that I don't even know what classic archetypes to reject anymore! And for the record, no, I don't get any money from those Amazon click-throughs.

March draws to a close as I am preparing for a once in a lifetime trip around China with my siblings. I leave for Hong Kong tomorrow, and they arrive there on Sunday. It feels like last week I was just getting into Hong Kong after an amazing time in Cambodia and Vietnam. A month has past, and there remains much I've wanted to do this term that I haven't been able to. I haven't been going to the gym or exercising regularly, I haven't been studying my Chinese. But I have been doing some things better, arguably more important things, most of which involve making my classes more useful to my students in the long run.

Buying tickets is a pretty shady experience here in China. Prices are quoted, questions are asked, prices are adjusted, oh you wanted four? well then there's the multiple ticket fee, don't charge me that fee please, prices go up and down and up again, you jump through hoops with three different travel agents, and finally a time and date and lastly a price are all pegged. And then they're delivered by some guy on a motorbike who has them balled up in his fist, and for all I know it's some jackass with a printer I just gave eight thousand kuai to, so you call and double-check and make sure your tickets are legit. Fun!

Ah, screw it. I was blogging out of no-update guilt, and I just began rambling. Meghan, Deirdre, and Patrick will be here soon, and everything will be awesome.

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