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?
Continue reading “Hello, You Are Alive!”
So this month, we’re finally doing the ambition issue for New Slang. I’ve had this topic on the back burner for the past few months already: before Metrophilia, before going to Hong Kong, before my class yesterday when I asked them about what they wanted to do with their lives, then commenced to show them a string of paper cranes I had folded out of boredom at the office. Marla’s even written about it on the site several times.
The job you start out with is rarely ever the job you want, and I was taught this was okay because it’s just as rare that you actually know what you want when you start working. Looking back, I’m not sure I was very clear about what I wanted, but I knew there was something there. I mean, there had to be something there, right?
People around me wanted me to write. Write, like “Here, add copy to this,” or “We need someone to help with the scripts for our call center,” the kind of writing I didn’t want or wasn’t sure I wanted. It’s the “wasn’t sure” part that always got to me. At that point I “wasn’t sure” I wanted anything to do with fashion and “wasn’t sure” I wanted to turn writing from a discipline to a profession: something I did for money.
Continue reading “Where are you going?”
My sister told me that Manix told her that Melay told him that Hemingway said something to the extent that “You should never travel with someone whom you do not love.” And the number of degrees that statement went through just to reach my ears forces one to question its reliability, but I can stand behind the shred of truth it contains. While “You should never travel with someone you do not love,” sounds like a fair enough disclaimer, taking the risk will at the very least provide for some fairly interesting experiences. And no, “fairly interesting” is not necessarily a euphemism for weird. If anything, my visit to Hong Kong this time around could have been weirder, could have contained less vapid anecdotes about getting lost and clinging to every penny, but there’s not much you can do about what already took place (or didn’t take place. For shame).
I look at the short time I’ve been alive–actually been alive, like made my own choices and all that shit that comes with it–and traveling alone has always provided the best stories and lessons about my valiant efforts to act like an adult. And out of the events that transpired last week, nothing quite captures that experience of fumbling into adulthood like arguing in public, or having to keep a straight face despite being hopelessly lost (in a city, in a sentence, in a fancy restaurant where none of the words on the menu sound [or look] even remotely familiar). Try doing this with someone who broke your heart several months before the trip, and you’ll know what “alone” really feels like.
I read this poem (Edward Hirsch? A.R. Ammons? I’ll check when I get home, I promise) with the line “Plural is everything that multiplying greatens,” and I thought of that trip. Or rather I went on that trip and thought of that line. And then I went home for what now feels like a ritual weeding out of things-I-don’t-need, and this whole thing went with it. No compulsion to tuck souvenirs into the little pockets of space left on the nightstand or into the mirror on my dresser or anywhere, save for this blog. No ticket stubs saved or inside jokes that can dignify the mundane reality that we were alone together and the only thing worth salvaging was the truth that he really wasn’t worth the trip, because he didn’t think I was worth the trip either.
No regrets here, really.
The world that we live in now, it seems passé to react to anything out of the ordinary. Hoping that we never get caught in the mess, hoping to live daily without interruption. Hoping to persevere this slow boring death.
-from the write-up on Dappled Cities’ take-away show off of LaBlogotheque.com
When we were in Sagada a coupe of years ago, we kept running into this very, very blonde Caucasian dude. We called him Chris Martin, because he looked exactly like Mr. Gwyneth Paltrow. Some time after we got back and re-established our existences in the city, I found myself standing next to Chris Martin on a train, and he was like “Hello again! I am Polish!”. I’ve completely forgotten his name, in fact he didn’t even blurt out “I’m Polish!” (although he really was Polish). What I remember was that he wasn’t afraid to show how blown away he was by the randomness of it all, in his words “80 million people in this country and I run into you again!”
And that’s how I met Chris Martin.
Fact is we’re assailed by the random on a daily basis but we just stop noticing at some point. It’s like at a certain age it becomes immature to admit you’re still in awe of the world because you’re too busy coping with the mundane.
I’m not a big fan of cynicism (although I have had some of being horribly cynical). From time-to-time I still get blown away by tiny things like other people’s conversations and I find it hard to talk about this, because it feels like at a certain age it’s imperative to pretend you’re no longer blown away by running into the same stranger twice. You’re gripped by this whole notion of professionalism and capability that involves pencil cut skirts and signing papers, and it all gets very dehumanizing at some point.
I’m also beginning to find it difficult to be inspired by fashion, especially commercial fashion. Maybe it’s the working environment at both of my internships, maybe it’s me running out of ideas, maybe it’s the dress code.
Everyday we have two color choices, black or white–no prints. I understand that this is an opportunity to use your imagination, that there’s a lot you can do with solids that can’t be achieved with prints, but I prefer the flipside. I like that there’s a whole spectrum between black and white.