Wednesday, March 23, 2011

a return to the walk this year

I mentioned in a previous post that I might not be at my current job for very long, and that I wanted to discuss my immediate future. Well, I don't have time to write much right now, but here's a general vision of my timetable:

1. Later in 2011 (a few months from now, really): restart the trans-American walk, now repurposed into something less vague and more streamlined: a walk on behalf of victims of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), to raise funds and awareness about the disease. Fundraising and prep for the walk would start now; training would start now; the walk would be completed either in very late 2011 or sometime in early to mid-2012.

People have been asking and asking about whether I planned to continue the walk I'd begun in 2008. I've generally answered with an "I don't know," because I honestly haven't been sure. Lately, though, having made the email-and-blog acquaintance of the Parks family (I wrote about them here; Marissa was diagnosed with GBM a couple months ago; she blogs about her own experience here), I've felt inspired to do something meaningful for good folks who labor under a burden they didn't choose to bear. And somewhere in the back of my mind is my remembrance of Mom, a day or so before the debulking operation that took away most of her powers of speech and coherent thought: she was sitting morosely in her hospital bed, her family all around her, and she asked me whether I was going back to my walk. "How could I do that now?" I'd asked her in reply. Her expression turned dark and she said nothing. I knew what was going through her mind: Don't stay here because of me. Go on and do your walk. But I couldn't do it. I couldn't leave. How could I possibly abandon her when she most needed her family?

Of course, the object of the game, this time, is to do the walk right: there were plenty of mistakes last time around, mostly related to planning and focus. Some mistakes, though, had to do with the paths I chose to walk: I set myself up for all manner of delays and hardships by choosing a northern path. This time around, on the assumption that it's easier to walk through heat and humidity than through a snowstorm or a tornado, I'm thinking of crossing the south. I realize that this is going to present problems when I'm in the American Southwest, but careful planning may resolve that issue.

More on all this later.

2. Late 2012: return to Korea. It's where I belong. After eight years in Seoul, I'm still not a fan of big cities, but if I were to choose a big city to live in, Seoul would be the one-- not NYC, not Chicago, not Paris or San Fran or L.A. A lot has to be arranged if I seriously plan to do this. The whole question of carting my library back to Korea with me has become something of a joke. I'm most likely going to leave that library here, and will have to budget public storage into my plan. As I wrote a friend recently, the only other viable alternatives are to (a) sell off my library and replace everything with e-books (which might not be possible, since I'm pretty sure most of my religion-related books are unavailable in e-format), or (b) miraculously become super-rich and buy two properties-- one in Korea and one in the US, so as to have space for my books no matter which country I happen to be living in. I think when it comes to choosing a place to live, I'm more of a "both/and" than an "either/or" kind of person. I simply lack the funds to justify such a lifestyle. Two home bases would be nice, though, wouldn't they? Oh, and maybe a third perch in Europe while we're busy fantasizing.

So that's the general timetable. It needs fleshing out, and I'll need to start talking about the specifics, but to that end, I'll be revitalizing the Kevin's Walk blog (which has been dormant since last year).



Nathan B. said...

Seoul has a special place in my heart, too, and I'd rather live there than many other places. I am attached to Vancouver, though.

Anyway, I wish you all the best in your new ventures. And please don't die of heat exhaustion or dehydration on the southern route!

Charles said...

Two pieces of news that make me happy!

Although, to be honest, if I had to choose my ideal big city to live in, it would definitely not be Seoul. Not that I hate Seoul--I do like it here, and I've lived here longer than in any other city (fifteen years), but I would pick either New York or London (in that order) over Seoul in a heartbeat.

I guess if I had to name my top three, though... Seoul would probably make the list.

(And I don't think you could pay me enough to live in L.A., although maybe I shouldn't say that... you never know...)

Kevin Kim said...


Well, maybe I should give London in particular more of a chance before writing too hastily. I spent only three days there, whereas I've been to NYC quite a few times and have been to Paris almost as many times.

Seoul, though, is hard to beat in terms of sheer convenience and the relative cheapness of public transportation (and taxis). I've also grown to love its dark corners, those little hideaways with the hole-in-the-wall restaurants that serve unique food to locals in the know. (I rarely discover these for myself; it's usually a Korean friend who points them out.)

When I was in London in 1990, I remember generally avoiding English food in favor of the Turkish spots I saw. Since that time, I now know, thanks to Anthony Bourdain, that the UK has been undergoing a massive culinary renaissance, and for that reason alone it may be time to give London another try.


The southern route definitely presents its own set of hazards, and as I found out while in the high desert, water is no joke. I'll be cautious.

Charles said...

"I've also grown to love its dark corners, those little hideaways with the hole-in-the-wall restaurants that serve unique food to locals in the know."

I could have sworn you were talking about NYC. If there aren't as many dark corners left in NYC these days, it's just because it has a much larger foodie community than Seoul.

But I do still love Seoul, and there are lots of places to explore. It is cheap in terms of public transportation, you're right about that. I just wish it were more of a walking city. It has become more of a walking city than it used to be, but it still has a way to go.

I lived in London for a semester and loved it there. Even though I was there before the big food renaissance, I always thought that thinks weren't nearly as bad as people said they were.

hahnak said...

nyc would be my second pick. if you dont like big cities, pick a neighborhood and then enjoy the benefits, subway rides away.

charles, what in particular do you not like about l.a.? they dont have good public transportation and i admit that is a huge deal. is that the deal breaker? just curious.

i ask because the weather and food there make me weep. its my first pick.

hahnak said...

all this talk about big cities. i am craving a pastrami on steamed rye right now...