Monthly Archives: May 2004


alcohol in french is alcool (m.).
you know, like hypercool.

les adjectifs qui me décrivent
>> pauvre (très)
>> débrouillard (je pense)
>> content (parfois)
>> bavard (en l’AIM)
>> enthousiaste (j’aime ce mot)

how the peter kang that i am no longer resembles the peter kang that i knew

note: get ready for a double-dose of preaching and doodling

when something ends or is about to end, it only seems natural for me to do some sort of “recap” followed by some self-reflective commentary that is supposed to make me a better person… not that i buy into any of that anymore, but just because of habit, i’ll go ahead.

[list] how the peter kang that i am no longer resembles the peter kang that i knew

1. the extra-curricular commitments surpassed academic ones
by doing things like KSA, Res Programs, CampusPix, unsuccessfully running for student council, etc., my academic life took a backseat and i finally learned what it felt like to be “involved” in the college community. i guess some positive things i came away with were leadership skills, using email, functioning on minimal sleep, and handling pressure better.

2. being lonely does not mean being unhappy
i’ve fooled myself so many times this year into thinking that the “something’s missing” part of my life was the romance, the companion, the significant other. i drove myself to insecurity buying into this thought, and to a large degree, i still suffer from it. however, little by little, my awareness of this pathos is fighting away foolish urges to pursue random girls, stare for hours at my buddy list, and sit alone in my room in despair when nobody calls to hang out on a weekend night. i do think the disbanding of the lonely man club had a lot to do with my struggle, but i think it’s time for me to stop feeling sorry for myself. i need to remember also, that i have great friends here.

3. the deterioration of the body
i used to be a healthy, eating well and going to the gym several times a week. this year, such good routines went down the drain with my extra-curricular commitments sapping me of any desire to take care of myself. i stopped going to the gym, losing much of the muscle mass that i gained over the summer. i ate nasty foods during the late night, bumming off wook’s dining dollars at JJ’s or eating pinnacle at 3am on weeknights. my coffee habit compelled me to buy a coffeemaker which i used for all of three months before running back to starbucks for triple shot lattes. i smoked for the first time and several more times in social settings. i don’t sleep enough and i think my eye sight has drastically worsened. summer needs to be a recuperation period if i am to survive another year.

4. wanting to be a writer but knowing i am too unskilled/lazy
reading louis menand’s american studies, chang rae lee’s native speaker (aloft is on my shelf waiting its turn) and books such as A House for Mr. Biswas or Remains of the Day for british literature class has made me want to become a writer. i feel like i have a unique voice and a story to tell, but i would like to know how i can ever reach the level of writing required to put together something meaningful. i have a tough time grasping the intricacies of subtext, symbolism, allusions, and character development. all i can hope to do is read more and maybe my writing will show some sort of progress.

5. the loss of hope and the inevitability of career
i looked several years into my future and realized it would end up boring and meaningless. with no real goal in sight and no cause to embrace, the life i envision for myself, at least from my collected thoughts this year, is a series of social rituals that will deprive me of any individuality, although in my mind, i will convince myself that i am uniqe. i will find a job out of college and work there, making entry-level money. i will probably work there for a few years before realizing that i should have gone to law school right out of undergrad. i will probably go to law, or if i am bold, i will go to business school. since my grades were mediocre as an undergrad, i will have to attend a second-tier graduate school, and this will be shameful to me and my parents, who, as much as they deny their immigrant-minded ivy-preference, will wonder why their son’s professional course has been so disappointing. i will, of course, keep myself distracted through wild weekend nights at twenty-something hangout spots and maybe some sort of alumni involvement at columbia. my biggest worries will be paying rent and affording the wasteful lifestyle that i will acquire. i will probably remain single and even opt not to have a family. my sister will marry first and when she has her partially korean kid, the other half up for grabs, i will be the “cool” uncle who buys gifts and sneaks sips of champagne at family gatherings. in the meantime, after a JD or MBA, i will upgrade my career and make slightly above-average income. living alone will help me to maximize expenditure on myself, allowing me to buy an impressive wardrobe, especially in the shirt/tie department. my living quarters will be furnished with sensible contemporary urban taste and i will have membership at a fairly overpriced gym in my neighborhood where they let you do your office work in their lounge. by the time my hair starts to gray, i’ll have done what i can to help my parents be comfortable, and maybe i’ll have had a few side projects that have occupied my time, such as writing, a personal business, some viable investments, and a photo album of good times with friends from my post-college years. hoepfully i’ll have read a lot more books by then, have acquired a taste for more sophisticated magazines, and have traveled a bit more around the world. by the time it’s time for me to reconsider my career, either due to boredom or the glass ceiling, i’ll have had enough experience and capital to start up my own business/firm. i’ll pour my heart and passion into it, and succeed or fail, i’ll be satisfied with the feeling of having had my independence. barring a freakish, unexpected death, i hope to grow old enough to mature and write seriously. i will have a collection of writings that will chart my development over the decades, and by the time i’m ready to be published, i’ll know enough to be coherent and meaningful to a degree. when i die, none of these things will matter because their significance will go to the grave with me, but whatever it is that i’ve written in my book may or may not hit a chord with someone reading it one day. but then again, that’s just a vain thought and it may have to be through some cheesy publish-it-yourself services that i make available any copies of my book, in which case, disillusionment is very possible and death without any published works very likely. but having been a film major, perhaps i might have some sort of hand in making a motion picture that will allow me to derive a bit of satisfaction before death. i wonder if i will look back one day and ever think about the day i decided to write about my future and was totally wrong about it.

6. understanding that i don’t understand anything
in my time at columbia, i’ve read books by very intelligent people and i’ve been exposed to very important ideas. however, i’ve come to believe that i know jack about anything and that anything i do say is a bunch of BS and an attempt to sound interesting/smart/cool in order to impress my peers or to be viewed favorably by them. opinions and thoughts formed are usually all contingent on the latest thing i’ve read, and whoever gets read on the toilet becomes my god for that day. this practice of read and regurgitate with the conviction that i am being my own person and developing my own thoughts and ideas as a synthesis of my readings and life lessons is another self-serving mechanism. and this attempt to be overly critical on my weblog in order to inoculate myself from outside criticism is a cowardly, self-serving practice as well. then what? is anything acceptable? i can say that i realize that when we act, we do so out of self-interest, but that would be such a cop out and a testament to my reliance on primitive philosophical doctrines. the best way for me to handle this would be to say – i don’t know shit, but help me feel better about myself and talk to me.

i regret many things this year and it ranges from the way i’ve behaved with girls, the way i procrastinated so much for papers, the way i missed classes in chunks, the way i let my body fall apart, the way i became so insecure, the way i made myself feel so lonely and bitch to everyone about it. i think if anything, i learned that i have a lot of things to tweak and improve about myself, but even this notion of working towards a “better” version of myself shows how ingrained in the protestant tradition i am. i don’t think it’s “better” that i want, but perhaps to be able to look back one day and tell myself: i’ve learned some and tried to change a little.

i’ll probably regret writing this piece, but then again, it’s not as bad as some of my self-pity entries. cheers to self-criticism and great applause for short attention spans that will make a full reading of this entry near-impossible.


the pink and the green

a metro lets me know
“pink and green are in”
and sports a pastel polo.

i’m no better with trends,
i find myself in a store
buying cotton dress shirts
and ties of these colors.

it’s only sixty-five degrees outdoors
but girls wear skirts and shirts
green on top pink on bottom
or the other way around.

makes me wonder where they got it,
a scheme that seems to celebrate spring,
compelling a certain consciousness
to visit the nearest chain retailer.

my school is based around a single walkway
lined up with trees and plots of grass.
for a brief moment in late april
the flowering cherry trees remind us
that the city appreciates nature, too.

it was evening and i was walking home
when the lamp reflected its light
on the falling petals of the blossoms.
i looked up and saw the green leaves
supporting the colony of pink bunches.