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"I was always afraid that someone would find me, And was saddened when no one actually found me"

“I was always afraid that someone would find me,
And was saddened when no one actually found me”

He went to Japan on vacation and brought back this greeting card with a cat on it that sang when you pulled a tab on the side. He recorded a video of himself showing off the card, and his eyes followed the tab as he pulled it, left to right. The video looped automatically and I watched his eyes move: back and forth, back and forth. It looked like he was staring at me, but he was staring at himself, watching himself. His brown eyes are seared into my memory along with the little pink Japanese singing cat. We all had high hopes for that year of our lives. We thought it would go well; that there might be another year after if we were happy. And we tried to be. But the months slowed down as we went, the days stretched out, and the mornings came earlier. The smog in the sky stayed put, blocking out the blue, even in the summer. We were all left to ourselves, by ourselves, recording little moments of time, trying to share them with others. But when we left, there was nothing left of it in us to share. There was no moral to our story. No punch line to the bad joke. Just a sort of gray smog covering strange hangul memories.

 

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1. How to not make friends: refer to someone as “ethically flexible”. Oops.

2. There are a lot of terrible things happening in the world. People are allowed to talk about/mention/feel sad about different things, even if you feel like those things are not as important/tragic/terrible as the things you think are terrible/tragic/important. Just like people are allowed to be happy, even though there are terrible things happening. No one has to wallow in all of the misery at once. You are not the director of the world’s actions. You don’t get to proclaim what’s important and what’s not. Basically, shut up! 

3. sometimes it is forever; other times it is nothing at all.

4. Do some people just enjoy being cynical? I can’t understand it. How can you even have the energy to be so mean-spirited, hateful, angry, blunt, wrong, foolish? Does it give you some kind of pride? Does it make you happy? Does it feel like you’re doing the right thing? Are you lashing out at some unknown attacker? What are you doing?! What. Are. You. Doing. Just stop! Good grief. Do you need a hug?

5. At some point, no matter how nice/funny/smart/good-looking someone is, the little things they’ve done or said that you’ve disliked in a deep-down sort of way add up. And it’s sad, heart-breaking, whatever. But it happens. And they just aren’t the person you thought they were/you didn’t know who they were to begin with.

6. good things from the past month of my life: sparklers in the middle of the road at midnight, polite strangers, tiny presents of tiny stickers from tiny children, mail from Panama and America, learning possessives in French (but please don’t ask me to actually prove it!).

7. You can do it all differently tomorrow.

8. Orange Is the New Black is a great show! I never believe it. It’s always true.

9. It’s real fun living in the middle of a giant city, especially at night, when you hear murderous screams/manic laughter from outside your window and you’re never sure if it’s either or both or just a crazy alley cat.

10. We’re more than halfway through the year, World, and I’m not really sure if we’re being any kinder to each other. Let’s try harder. Let’s all keep going.

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He started traveling when he was 23, 5 years ago. Now he’s lived in 6 different countries, speaks 4 different languages, has a lot of great photographs and memories. And, much of the time, he is happy. But he does not have happiness. He says all he really has is his guitar. People that move around on their own, he says, they need something other than people to hold on to. He has his guitar, he says. His traveling companion.

His hair is long, kept in brown dreadlocks. He’s from Germany, but he sings in English and whatever language of whatever country he finds himself in. He is content, happy, to sit on benches across the globe, strumming and singing with the people, the crowds, that quickly surround him when he plays. He brings joy to them. Him and his guitar.

I wonder if he is happy after he packs away his one possession, after the crowds of people leave. I wonder how he is strong enough, if he is strong enough, to have been going so long on his own.  I wonder if he lied, if he’s actually terrified and lonely, or if he does take something else along with him on his travels — bits and pieces of people: the old man’s laughter, the girl smiling as she recorded him singing with her cell phone, the busy people who missed train after train as they stood in their subway station, singing. I wonder if it is enough for him, to have a part but not a whole.

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1. How many times is too many times? How much is too much? How vague is too vague?

2. You know your life’s exciting when you find yourself researching how to keep your houseplants watered so they don’t die when you leave them for an extended period of time. My babies!

3. Maybe you’re not bored but boring.

4. So, the World Cup is pretty cool, eh? #American

5. I wonder if I’m annoying my apartment neighbor by playing Sondre Lerche’s Bad Law over and over and over…. oh well.

6. I get it, you have opinions. About everything. And you’re very outspoken. And you hate that other people have opinions. Because they’re always wrong. Or offensive. Or politically incorrect. Maybe you should just get off the internet, because sharing all of these articles and making virtual support groups for offended people is not going to solve anything. Or maybe you’re just bored otherwise?

7. He has brown eyes. Of course he does.

8. People on Instagram totally take some of those photos with like real cameras, right? It’s ok, you can tell me!

9. If you can go outside and look up and see blue sky, and if you can go to the grocery store and buy strawberries at any month of the year, you’re fortunate. Please feel fortunate, for me. The gray-sky, berry-less lady. Thanks.

10. Wake up in the middle of the night and smile to yourself and go back to sleep.

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1. Musical festivals are not your friend.

2. “I accidentally read a wiki page on it today.”

3. Oh, god, is it Summer already?! I forgot what hot, humid weather felt like! WHY did we want this?!

4. “If not now, when? If not now, never.” was something I told myself/fought with myself about last week. I was so so so scared to do something, something simple, even though I really wanted to! So then I did it. And it was great! SO JUST DO IT, OK, SHEESH. Whatever it is. Do it. You’ll be afraid but you’ll also be ok.

5. I’m beginning to like K-Pop. …SOMEONE SAVE ME FROM KOREA!

6. He was beautiful but not kind. So, technically, not beautiful.

7. I’m getting very tired of having to tell you to GET THE FUCK OUT. Leave. GO. Do something! Go somewhere! Be someone you want to be! People like you fade from my heart. Please don’t.

8. Write a letter to yourself in the future. Say anything. Tell them what you want to be doing in a year. Tell your future self what you had for breakfast today. Anything. Put it in an envelope. Wait six months or more to read it.

9. It’s not gonna be easy but it will be okay. HASHTAGlife.

10. Wanna write something for heyinfinity.com?! Of COURSE you do! And we want to hear from you! Send an email with your idea to: heyinfinityjenni@gmail.com

“…I work hard, do a lot of push-ups, a lot of sit-ups, get made fun of, sniff benzodiazepines–” He pushes one nostril closed with a finger.

“–Barry!”

“Hey, you asked. I wouldn’t tell just anybody this, you asked.” He’s pretty drunk. The overly-bent bill of his super-American baseball hat makes his thin horse-face look even thinner. I flick at the hat with my fingers.

“How often do you get your hair cut?”

“Every one-and-a-half-weeks,” he says, taking off the hat to show his ‘do.

“Wow.” The sides of his head are shaved, while the top is a bit longer. He’s got golden-brown hair under that hat, and a tattoo on his chest. And on his side. He shows me both after another beer.

“This is a wolf. And this is a quote from the bible.”

He asks me to dance with him, and I do, feeling it’s my duty as an American citizen. He is an Army man, after all.

He twirls me around a bit, and does some fancy twist with far too many moves for the amount of gin tonics I’ve had.

“Is this what you do, go out on the weekends and dance with girls?”

“I don’t know what a weekend is, anymore. I just have off days. And, no. Not really.”

He spins me again, and once I recover, I ask him more “meaningful” and “deep” questions about his life. About being in the Army. About how he likes Korea. About his hat.

At some point, later, after the dancing, I laugh to myself, thinking about how quickly I’ve become the English teacher who hangs out in the Westerner neighborhood, who drinks on Friday nights and dances with American Army dudes. Typical. Typical. Wonderful.

But it’s more than that. It’s the first moment we saw the group of “Army dudes” walk into the bar, forearm muscles out, baseball caps on. It’s how wrong we were, so quickly. It’s how all people, if you give them the chance, might just be good, interesting people in your life. Even if they wear sleeveless shirts.

Gold Digging

I have a craving. Sort of like when you’re all, “I really want pancakes for dinner! Someone make me pancakes!” in a really whiny voice, and you say it over and over again until someone serves you a plate of hot pancakes or hits you in the face so you stop using that really annoying voice. Sorry. I like pancakes.

Actually this is not about pancakes at all (although isn’t it really always about pancakes??). It’s about art. (Aren’t pancakes an art? Ok, I’ll stop.) It’s about weird art. How do you classify art as weird? I don’t know, you tell me. What does weird really mean, anyway?

You know. I’m not talking about lovely printed photographs, or museum art, or the odd-looking statues you can find in every large public park. Weird art. You know, like, I want to buy seven pairs of old shoes from Goodwill and spray-paint them gold and then cover them in gold flake and hang them up around town.

I want to paint a mural in the inside of an 19th-century abandoned funeral home. I want to watch people in costumes made out of car parts pretend to be sea monsters and battle each other while dancing around a stage made of recycled pallets and old tires. I want to have an indoor picnic in a room filled with a huge tree made out of cardboard. I want to hammer a pencil onto a wall. I want to throw an all-silver Andy Warhol party and eat food out of aluminum pans covered in aluminum foil while dancing under disco balls and bubble machines. I want to sit in a cafe sipping a latte and watch a man in a pig costume read me terrible poetry. This is all weird art shit that I’ve done with my friends.

Ok, so, now that I’ve moved halfway across the Earth, now that I’ve settled in, I’m ready! For weird art. (For pancakes.) For making things. For creating. I can’t stop! It’s a thing I do. It’s a craving I have.

Now, who’s in Seoul and wants to go on an adventure to find some spray paint?