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I’m not really sure he works. Artists are always like that. Flighty, fluttery. You’re never really sure where they are or what they’re doing. It probably involves paint. Or they have paint on their hands for some reason unknown. There’s no transparent artist. Or anyway, we don’t want there to be. It’s supposed to be dreamy, not, “Yeah guys, actually, so, I work at Pizza Hut most days but then on the weekends I make stuff, or at night, or at 5 AM.”

I picture him with a tiny sketchbook in his hand. I don’t know if this is accurate. But he’s gotta write down these crazy ideas sometime, right? Whatever it is. Some crazy contraption or some terrible poem or some horrific self portrait. I mean, that’s the kind of art I do, so it’s easier to imagine.

Art is really hard. I know it is. Unless you somehow land some cozy job where they pay you to do it because you’re some kind of brilliant mind, and you can prove you are. That’s the hard part. Being loud enough, yelling it where someone important will hear you. Otherwise it’s you in your garage or bedroom or basement grinding, cutting, lazering, gluing, whatever. And then painting, of course. Or you’re on a guitar or piano or saxophone. And your art is music; sketching it in pencil on paper. Bringing it to life not with paint but sound. That’s good stuff. Important. Necessary.

1. Is that his dog? Aw, that’s cute! Wait. He totally used this picture just so girls would think his dog is cute. Oh, no, buster! That’s not working on me!

2. Is that his girlfriend? I don’t get it. Why does he have a girl (or two) in his profile pic? Is he secretly in love with her? Is that his sister? What? This is already too complicated.

3. His adorable grandma/grandpa?! Oh, my, gosh. So precious! I bet he really loves them. That’s nice. He must be a nice guy.

4. DUUUUUDE. Find a shirt.

5. WHY CAN’T I SEE YOUR FACE IN ANY OF THESE PICTURES? Hmm. Suspicious.

6. WOAH did you catch that fish? Or are you just holding it with your arm scrunched up like that, and I’m not supposed to think you’re doing it so that I check out your arm muscles? Anyway, I don’t eat fish. I’m a vegetarian. It says so on my profile. Gross!

7. Something about this picture tells me you traveled to London/somewhere in Europe/somewhere. Maybe it’s the giant historic building/landmark behind you. Are you trying to tell me something? Is it… do you… like to travel?!

8. Oh, here we go. A guy blatantly wearing sunglasses/holding an alcoholic beverage/on a beach/in the mountains. Never seen that before! What a unique fellow. He must be super tough. Also adventurous. It must also have been really sunny when all three of these pictures were taken. Wait, is that indoors?

9. Hmm… a small child. What does that mean? Is that a spawn of you, or a relative, or just a random passing baby? Please clarify. I mean, I would ask you to clarify if that small child hadn’t already scared me away.

10. Ooooh, look at this guy. He’s cute. 6’2″! No way! Oh, he likes books that I like. This is good, this is good. He watches Netflix – hey, me too! Lemme just message him something… something clever… how about: “Hey! :)” That’s it!! I think we’ll be married soon.

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I wish I could filter out all the things I don’t care about. But that’s terrible, isn’t it? I should care. Shouldn’t I?

They make big posters and banners and they scream, “black lives matter!!” and I don’t care. “All lives matter,” I whisper. “Everyone matters,” I whisper.

He writes, “Je suis Charlie,” and he doesn’t know what he’s saying. He doesn’t understand anything. Neither do I, but I don’t care. “Je suis moi,’ I whisper. “Qui etes-vous?” I whisper. I’m trying to teach myself French. I’m trying to understand without listening.

She yells at me because I take a picture of my Italian dessert in Seoul. She teases me, asks if I’ll share it on Instagram. “Of course not,” I say. “Not anymore,” I whisper. It doesn’t matter. Sometimes I just want to share everything with you. Do you? Voulez-vous?

I was in love with a black boy when I was young. His skin was like chocolate. I don’t remember his name because he moved away, and I don’t remember anyone’s name. I wonder where he is now. I wonder if he speaks French. Who knows? Je ne sais pas.

They hate war, say it’s terrible. They hate bombs. They won’t talk about it, they filter it out. Everything is black and white. The gray color is too difficult. No one knows what gray matter is really about. I miss Psychology class. I learned a lot back then. I think I have forgotten everything. What good is a degree you don’t remember? But it still might get me a job somewhere. Peut etre.

I stay up too late. Too early. What timezone am I living in? My own, I guess. How do you say that in French? “Ma propre, je suppose.” That’s nice.

I want to write you a book. I remember this one time my friend said to me, “If you write a book, I’ll read it.” And that was a great thing to say. So maybe I’ll write a book for her, if I ever think of anything good. But maybe I should learn French first. It seems important. How do you say that? “Il semble important.” That’s nice.

I want to talk to all the people who I disagree with. I mean, it seems like I disagree with them. They march around upset and screaming, waving banners, blaming each other. They scare me. I don’t know if they would talk to me. I don’t know if we could get past our disagreements. Isn’t that sad? Tragic. Terrible. Lonely.

Je suis seul. I know that one. I like it because seul is a lot like Seoul and I’ve been to both places. Loneliness seems like a wonderful and terrible name for a place, doesn’t it? N’est-ce pas?

Hello. Who are you? Will you tell me? What do you look like when you’re all alone? Who are you? I don’t care about anything else. I won’t tell anyone your secrets, I promise. I miss you. I probably do, anyway. Even if I don’t know you. Isn’t that fucking stupid? Maybe you think it is. It’s not really true, because it’s impossible. Maybe I learned about this kind of logic in Philosophy classes, but I don’t remember any more. Merde.

I’m very bad at endings. I remember once I took an online Theater class, and I had to write a play. Just a short one. And it was about a family, and I don’t really remember what they said to each other. But students in my class commented on my play, and I remember they said it was too happy. There was no tension. It was too circular. Everything happened for a reason and the end was like the beginning. Do you think life is like that? Tell me. “Dîtes-moi!”

 

 

 

 

1. Ok, here it is, 2015. Usually I’m bummed on NYE, in some kind of sentimental sad way. I don’t know, it just happens! Every year, like SAD. BUT this year, I felt so excited! Happy, even. Wow. You guys. This is either going to be awesome, or really terrible and tragic. Let’s go find out.

2. I have finally entered the “post-college” phase of my life. I mean, it only took a year and a half of actual post-college. I have been so busy (aka gainfully employed and interesting) before now, I had no time to think about (aka sleep in too late) my life now! You know? (Don’t worry mom, I’m working on finding a “real” job!)

3. At some point you have to stop trying to be brave and brash and instead do what is beautiful. What makes you happy instead of terrified. What makes you feel fulfilled instead of simply adventurous. What is “good” instead of “interesting”. Throw pillows and rugs instead of throw-stuff-in-a-suitcase. It’s ok if it feels right, right? More on this later…

4. Sometimes the worst thing for you can be too much of yourself.

5. SHUT UP. STOP TWITTERING ABOUT HOW HEARTBROKEN YOU ARE. IN SOME STRANGE VAGUE WAY. (and yet, at the same time: LISTEN TO ALL OF MY WHINY PROBLEMS!)

6. Selfies are over. Stop. Stop. Or I will be force to break your selfie stick over my knee. Watch me!

7. (Contd from 3, sort of…) When I was younger, (maybe 4 years ago or so) I loved to talk to one of my best friends about how people are so lame, how people get married, and all they want is that house, those annoying kids, and stuff. We loved to think that we were so much better, that we wanted more for our lives than that. We wanted to travel, to meet nice/cool people, to do important things. We never, ever wanted to settle down, to own a house, to be tied to some square chunk of land. Fast forward to now… we’ve done a bunch of cool stuff, we’ve met lots of nice people, we’ve started and are still trying to do important things. And we have more perspective, thanks to all that we’ve done, on the stuff that other people choose to do. Yeah, ok, sure, kids are cute. Yeah, marriage seems, well, it seems to work for you, we guess. Oh no, we still don’t think buying that house is a good life choice… anyway, what I’m saying is, is that we’ve changed our minds. Even if it is just a little. And we hate to think what our past selves would say about it, so we barely admit it to our current selves.

8. What do you mean, you saw me on OKcupid? No way. I saw you! (BTW your profile pic is really terrible. I mean, it probably is. It might be. Not that I’ve seen it. What are we talking about?)

9. What country this year? Vietnam or South Africa? Do I have to choose?

10. It’s all going to be ok! Especially when you think about global warming and how terrible it is, and how no one even gives a shit that the polar bears are dying, not really. Look, all of your other problems have now practically vanished!

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Listen, 2015. You seem like a nice year. Everyone has high hopes for you, especially after these past 12 rotten months. There has been entirely too much hatred, violence, death, sadness, failure, loneliness, drought, natural disasters, heartbreak, boredom, poorness, and way too many lost airplanes over Malaysia. What’s up?! 2014 has, we must admit, been a shitty year. I for one hate to admit defeat. I’ve never proclaimed a year as “bad”. But, c’mon. Even I’m saying uncle! And it’s almost over. We all still have hope, us people of planet Earth. We can do better. You can do better, 2015!

We want all of the things 2014 did not give us. We demand it! It has to be better. It can’t possibly be worse! We should all be improving as the years and decades go on. We need nice people, communicative people, caring people. Smart people. A community of one mind, or hundreds of minds — even better — to talk and get along and make things happen, make improvements! Every year should move us forward. So, we’ve got a lot of work to do, 2015. We’ve got an extra year’s worth (at least) to make up for. Are you listening, 2015? Everyone? Pay attention! We’ve only got a few days left to think this over.

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He walks to the middle of the road and lays down on the wet cement. Cars run over him — bump, bump — and he returns slowly to his city streets. Boston, Christmastime. Every pine tree is decorated downtown, filled with lights and tinsel running every which way. Mothers and new wives are in their shabby or chic kitchens, baking, rolling, sprinkling sugar and flour over everything. It is not snowing, not cold; just mildly unpleasant as he rolls across town, smelling the air and imagining something else.

He has seen all of the holiday movies worth watching, and so has everyone else. On the television now are horrid things, awful sequels, revisions of visions of sugarplums. Women and men pretending to be from the 1950s, pretending to sing, pretending to have talent. No, no, that’s enough. That must be it. There must be nothing else, nothing new. No snow on Christmas Eve either, just gray slush in the gutters reflecting outdoor blowup Christmas lights.

After a few hours he sighs and scrapes himself off the road. There wasn’t even that much joy in it, he thinks. The only pleasure gleaned knowing that somewhere there are a few shiny BMWs with bits of him on their wheels.

It is dusk as he makes his way home, and he imagines the yards of colorful paper that will fill garbage dumps in the week to come. Covering other terrible things with their shiny foil masks. He rubs at the sleeve of his suit, a bit dusty from his travels. In his hands he carries bags of gifts for his three children. Of course, he made sure to put them safely aside, as usual, before lying in the road.

He expects his wife is home from work by now, waiting for him, sitting around the tree. His family will be there, as always, waiting. He will hide the expensive presents until the children are in bed, and then he and his wife will sit them all under the tree. They will be there, waiting, until morning.

At his house, he pauses at the front gate. He looks on from the dark street, admiring the strings of lights running every which way. He steps up onto the curb, walks past the sidewalk, unhinges the gate latch, marches up his front porch stairs, opens the door. He stashes the bags as the smell of Christmas cookies greets him. He turns to close the door, catching one last glimpse of the road. He sighs as the door clicks shut.

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