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Note #46: Home again (2009.8.1)

It’s been a while since I last posted here, but we have returned from our month-long trip to the States. We actually got back early Thursday morning, but extreme fatigue on Thursday and a sudden change of plans last night have prevented me from writing anything until now.

I had hoped to write something before leaving, and possibly write something while we were in the States, but neither of those things happened. Considering how much work I had to do before leaving and our busy schedule while in the States, it’s no wonder.

A month can seem like a long time, but our trip flew by. One of the first things we did was head down to the city to meet up with some friends from Norway who just happened to be in New York at the same time. We took them to Mug’s Ale House in Brooklyn and had a great time. Our second week was dominated by a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia—this was an experience that deserves an entry of its own, not to mention a gallery of all the photos I took, so I will say only that we really enjoyed it, and the two days we spent in Colonial Williamsburg was not nearly enough.

After coming back from Williamsburg we had a number of things on our schedule: a trip to the Palisades Mall, more visits to New York City, a trip to the local fire department’s fair, a day at the Bronx Zoo, a hike along part of the Appalachian trail, and a last-day picnic at Bear Mountain. The Appalachian trail hike will get its own gallery, and I’ll probably post another gallery of all the photos not covered by the Williamsburg and Appalachian galleries.

One of the highlights of our trip was visiting the Guggenheim Museum. I think I visited it once when I was young, but I don’t really remember much about it, so this was a new experience for me. The museum currently has an exhibition on the life and work of Frank Lloyd Wright, beginning with his early years and ending with an exhibition on the Guggenheim Museum itself. Two things made this a very memorable experience. The first was the free audio tour that provided information and archival footage (including interviews with Wright himself) on many of the museum’s exhibits. The second was the design of the museum itself. Housing an exhibition on Frank Lloyd Wright in a building that he designed is genius, and I don’t know if any other locale could have done such an exhibition justice. The spiraling rotunda that leads to the various floors was a little disorienting at first, but once I learned to relax and let go of my preconceptions about architecture, I realized that the structure of the building embodies Wright’s architectural ideas and philosophy. Rather than having everything broken up into discrete floors, the individual spaces were joined into one fluid, continuous space. It’s a bit hard to explain, and probably falls flat here on the page—it is definitely something that needs to be experienced. Hyunjin described the exhibition as “moving,” and although that’s a word I would not usually apply to museum exhibitions, I have to agree. The Wright exhibition will be at the museum until 27 August, I believe, so if you’re in New York I would heartily recommend you check it out.

As if the museum wasn’t enough, the day was capped off with dinner at an Italian restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen with That David Guy, his lovely wife Julie, her younger sister Jennifer, and their friend Steve. The food and the company were excellent, and made that day one of the single most memorable days of the trip.

Of course, there were a number of days that we spent at my parents’ house in between busy days. While we were there, I spent a lot of time looking over my brother Brian’s shoulder in his workshop, where he produces the candles for the Promethean Candle Boutique. I learned a lot about what goes into making candles (time, patience, and a lot of experimentation, among other things), and it was fascinating watching him work. Like me, he is a perfectionist, and if something was not spot on he would either melt down the candle or give it to our mother (who will probably never want for candles ever again). We placed an order and brought some candles back with us to Korea: ten small palm wax candles as gifts for the teachers at Hyunjin’s school and two inclusion candles (one for us, one for Hyunjin’s sister and her husband) that are a testament to Brian’s craftsmanship and creativity.

We definitely enjoyed the time spent with my mom, my dad, Brian, and Matthew (my youngest brother), and I was sorry to see our visit come to an end. But life must go on, and now that I am back I am faced with a mountain of work—primarily work that I wanted to do before the trip but wasn’t able to finish. I finished one of those projects today, but next week I have a conference to prepare for as well as a final translation manuscript to look over. Then, of course, there is prep for next semester’s classes. Things are going to be rather busy until after next weekend (the conference starts on Thursday and goes through Sunday), but after that I imagine I will have the time to start putting up some photos. There are also a number of things that I would like to write, some related to the trip and some that I have been thinking about for a while. Hopefully I will be able to get back into a regular posting groove soon.

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