Hello, You Are Alive!

That’s the title of an essay from a book I have about Superflat. Hello, you are alive. It’s nice to know that the bomb has not obliterated you.

As I type this, I am half-drunk, half talked-out, and in complete recovery from what should have been the end of the world for the paranoid. Paranoia is a good remedy for a lack of ambition…or let me rephrase that, fear is a good replacement for ambition. Nothing motivates you the way fear does, isn’t ambition after all fueled by the fear of “not getting anywhere”? Where did that term even come from–“not getting anywhere”? If you don’t know where you’re going, save your energy and stay put. Then again, this is the same logic used by the mooch.

One of the most vivid images in my mind is a picture from Life or was it Time magazine of a family prepared beyond everything in the fucking world for Y2K. “Our biggest investment was the waterbed,” said someone in that family. The picture had a shaggy blonde middle-aged wife perched on what might have been the said waterbed. Surrounded by her family (standard-sized, two kids, a husband of classic midwestern stock), stacks of canned goods, and emergency lights, she just sat there staring defiantly into the face of impending doom, causing wonder at the notion of whether we replace ambition with fear or allow our fears to fuel our ambition. And if ambition is to stay alive while all of society has perished, then where on this spectrum do our own individual dreams lie?

FUCK, you know what else I realized, around the same time I read that article, I read somewhere that Snooki Serna was an anchor. And that her biggest fuckup was too pronounce some word wrong. AN ANCHOR! SNOOKI SERNA!

I am reminded of my mom. When we were little we watched a lot of dance–ballet, jazz, improv, modern, call it what you will, we were there. It was a little confusing because we weren’t sure what would come of it, but we watched a lot. Eventually, curiosity took over and I started taking lessons at 14. My mom then confessed that we probably would have been enrolled in a ballet class earlier had Ballet Philippines not been headquartered on reclaimed land; because you know “if an earthquake or a tsunami happens, you might be there taking lessons.”

That never happened and neither did this–but fear is a great motivator. Check if all the lamps are plugged and if you have an adequate supply of drinking water. Check if your means of connecting to the rest of the world is fully functional. We are prepared for every disaster–emergency lights, water purification tablets, drawers full of sunblock in case the ozone layer disintegrates–“the ongoing potential for things to go wrong is our bound, a fascination with crisis, with control (A.M. Homes, Do Not Disturb).”

The only way I can feel like I have control is when I know what I’m doing, which entails liking what I’m doing. I do not want to be home, dicking around on the internet if the earth decides to swallow me whole.

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Author: alicesarmiento

San Juan, Metro Manila

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