Tuesday, November 06, 2012


I might as well say it is Fall. I noticed a few American "t"s entering my pronunciation so I might as well realign some of my vocabulary to American, too, right? Being abroad does change some subconscious choices and even makes you think about the conscious ones too.

It's been a month since my last blog and that reflects two new uses for my leisure time. One has been that natural consequence of my power reading earlier this year: I hit gravel to slow myself down reading a Chinese classic, The Water Margin. I'd read the first of the four Chinese classic novels in my first year, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms and, being the project that it was, was quite daunted by the prospect of another. But in August I missed the boat on a distance diploma course I'd intended to do and with only travel planning and sweating to do in my late summer free time, it was easy to get into. Since it is my second classic, I'm fortunately able to read much faster than I was before. I average about 15 pages a day. My day has a nice start, a coffee on the balcony or sofa to peel of a few pages; if I catch the bus, I read some; if I nick out to lunch, I bring it and read half a page before my food arrives; the bus back too, needless to say; and then maybe a bit more while Christy watches Hong Kong soaps. And then there are good weekends and average weekends.

The Water Margin is known by all and read my comparatively few, it seems. I don't enjoy it as much as The Romance but it does have its good points. It has more sex and violence than you'd expect in a 700 year old book. It also seems to have the recurring theme of evil women - I can only guess the writer was a misogynist. There are some brave female warriors too, but they barely get a line. There are 108 heroes in this book. All up a mountain for a good portion of it, apparently killing the corrupt and not hurting the innocent. I'm not sure how many I could name for you now, but I think I'd get to thirty before I started scratching my head. I'm up to page 820 of 965 and I really want it finished because...

I had my stroke of luck. In the middle of the year I was professionally down on my luck having been effectively demoted and missed the course that would have made the time worthwhile. Mid-October, I go an e-mail re-offering me a place in the course I wanted to do. Starting the next day, more or less. It was an easy decision. The one olive leaf of shame I have is being well underqualified (credential-wise). It is pretty much the gold standard of ESL qualifications and one that I don't mind some short term pain to get.

But of course there is still the matter of 145 pages of blood, women and loyalty to slash through so that I have the time... You might wonder why I don't just put the book on hold and let my academic reading reign for the time being. And though I should consider than option more, it's (a) a book and I don't put down books easily without quiting altogether; (b) 108 heroes and their various backgrounds are hard enough to remember with only night breaking the flow of reading; (c) I like it.

Fortunately for you, if you wanted to know all the above, I haven't done my reading yet this morning so I could write this blog. Now I think it's sat next to me long enough. It's time for coffee and battle.

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