On nonproductivity

Is hard to believe I’ve been in Seoul for five days now bouncing between coffee shops, staying a five minute walk from one of the palaces that I still haven’t been in, the Magritte exhibit at the art museum being my only activity of cultural merit.  There are a lot of people in town taking language classes which, in retrospect, might have been a good idea.  Those people all express such admiration for the fact that I have no purpose or goal but am just being in the big city.  Which reminds me of this quote:

There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is in having lots to do and not doing it.
– Mary Wilson Little

Went to Mare Coffee yesterday.  I have this problem that I can’t easily walk out of an establishment I’ve been seated in and handed a menu even if an espresso shot on that menu costs five dollars.  Even if that menu inexplicably has a picture of Mother Theresa on the first page and the words “She’s so beautiful!” underneath.  So what is the solution to the conundrum of facing the most expensive cup of coffee you’ve ever ordered in your life and having to decide what is most worth an amount that no cup of coffee should ever cost?  Whiskey.  Now, if only Starbucks made Irish coffee, I’d really be set.

The Japanese traveler occupying the bunk above mine said of her first impressions of Korea that it’s a lot the same — the faces, the sound of the language.  I wanted to say “I feel that way too!” but it would have taken more explaining to explain how walking down the street, when there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts on every corner, when even in this local coffee place, the decor is dried flowers, stuffed Coca Cola polar bears and next to me is a fancy nutcracker riding a rocking horse, even though the faces are all different and the language doesn’t sound the same, sometimes I don’t feel like I’m in such a foreign place at all.  Although in America I would probably have had some compunction against ordering Irish coffee at two in the afternoon.


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