note: forgive the title – a terrible attempt in trying to convey the winding down of March, the month, with a reference to a song that reminds me of my birthday (March Fourth / “Forth”)
It’s hard to write an entry with a clear mind anymore. Not after about thirty or forty emails at work all ending with meaningless “Thanks” or “Regards” followed by some spreadsheet attachment that I probably should’ve checked twice – but didn’t.
I’m sitting here with a bottle of Rock Rabbit syrah, from Sonomoa County, and I’m very pleased with this $12 investment. A full body and very subtle flavors – I love it when you buy low-priced (not cheap!) wine and don’t get that overwhelming alcohol aftertaste. And wine just drinks better in this wonderful Spiegelau glass, part of two sets of wine glasses (for white and red occasions) that sweet Melanie got for my birthday. Speaking of which, 100% of my birthday presents were all wine-related. I guess people think I like wine or something. Novi got me two books, one about wines and wars and the other a huge “Wine Bible,” Jina got me a pocket wine book and a bottle of riesling, and Sei-Wook and Brandon pitched in to buy a $95 bottle of Barolo at a classy Italian restaurant on the UWS. If only I had more occasions to drink it. But I’m very grateful that these people are taking a bet that I will in some way emerge as a wine connoisseur.
KASCON20 was this past weekend. Quite a ride indeed. For three straight weekends and some very long weeknights, Sei-Wook and I, with the help of Annabel and Dan Sim, labored on various KASCON (Korean American Student Conference) related projects. Our involvement for this phase of KASCON was to create various collateral items bearing the KASCON20 brand, which I happened to design back in November. Most projects were easily accomplished such as the t-shirt, a faded vintage look we got from Abercrombie, and the folder, a pattern of various symbols that I felt represented KASCON in some way. The conference program book was what drained us. About 60-70 hours in the course of two weeks, about 50 of them coming in one weekend, were invested in creating the 44-page book. I felt it was too text-heavy, but Sei-Wook, who manned the layout on Adobe Indesign, toughed it out and pumped out the final version. I don’t think anyone noticed, but I’m a arm and hand model in two 2-page spreads in the book – part of my last-ditch efforts to incorporate photography into the book to give it some additional flavor.
The KASCON20 experience was capped by our work for a workshop we put on at the conference called Tailor Made: Crafting the KSA Identity. The actual presentation was not too difficult to make, but making the highly customized CDs, using the Jewelboxing system, kept us sleepless until the moment we actually presented on Saturday. People seemed to respond very positively to our workshop, with many people coming up to me and Sei-Wook to ask questions afterwards, and our Tailor’s Kits – the CDs – were gobbled up in seconds. Wook and I talked today about launching a site devoted to addressing issues regarding KSA with periodic advice and resources for KSA members all across the country. There certainly seems to be a community for this, so I think it may be a worthy idea to pursue.
I realized that I went through all of February without a single Menand article in The New Yorker. Luckily, he finally posted one last week, and I was thrilled. The article is about Francis Fukuyama’s break with the neoconservatives. I had been ignorant of the neocon movement, mostly because I thought it was a label for people like Bush & crew, but apparently, there’s a deep history to the neocon ideology, and it gave me goosebumps reading about it. Menand’s review of Fukuyama’s book does a good job of outlining why Fukuyama finds himself at odds with this newly-defined strain of neoconservatism, but to get a detailed understanding, it may be worth checking out Fukuyama’s New York Times Magazine article – basically an excerpt from his book – which came out sometime in February. Fukuyama is one smart dude, and his intellectual view of policies and history makes me wonder how in the world he was associated with hegemonic neocons in the first place. You can even sense Menand’s excitement in welcoming Fukuyama after a puzzling alignment with the wrong side. Wilsonian realism is what Fukuyama calls his proposed approach to international affairs. I soaked up his words and reveled in the fact that I had read various books on Woodrow Wilson and the Cold War, which helped to make this Wilsonian realism a very clear idea.
Today I bought a bunch of books from Amazon.com. A friend of a friend, who I’m hoping can be my friend, mentioned Paul Auster. I’ve seen books by Auster everywhere but never cared to pick one up. He’s a Columbia alum in his fifties now whose very postmodern way of writing – in that he often writes consciously about the act of writing – has found lovers and haters of his work. I think I’ll like him. I ordered The New York Trilogy, Book of Illusions, The Invention of Solitude, and Timbuktu, apparently a book about homelessness from the point of view of a dog named Mr. Bone. Awesome. I also ordered Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go in paperback, Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City, and I, Claudius by Robert Graves. I’m waiting for cheaper versions of Malcom Gladwell’s Blink and The Tipping Point as well as McInerney’s The Good Life. Oh, I’m just hoarding books right now. I actually have about five books I still need to finish. Bleh. Need. New. Job.
Only a year ago, I used to think that status and money would be the keys to happiness. Well, both things will certainly make anyone look good in the eyes of others, but at what price? I look at the list of all the books I would love to read and all the ideas for short stories that I would love to write. I think about all the pick-up basketball games I haven’t been able to play and all the films that I haven’t been able to watch. I think about the cooking skills I’ve been unable to nurture or the happy hours I’ve been unable to attend. Sure, the grass is always greener on the other side, people tell me, but what if I really had a plan and I knew exactly what I would do with additional time? What if I was able to travel more – roam different cities, taste different foods, learn different languages? What if I could take classes, attend lectures, or volunteer? How many years of your life can you defer in hopes of achieving financial security and comfort? A stack of lucites can only bring so much satisfaction.