Flickr, though, I find to be swell these days. When they redesigned it earlier this year a lot of internet people pooped all over it, but I like it better now, and my reasons for liking it are indicative of how bad I am at social media. Basically, I think the new design is great because when I want to mindlessly scroll through photos — specifically my photos, specifically when I’m bored — they’re arranged a lot prettier now than they used to be. They’re Instagram-y. Is this why we travel? So we can have nice mosaics that, once we swipeswipeswipe back a few pages, look like this?
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I feel now, versus how I felt when we came back from Korea. Back then I had an urgent need to display stuff. The cheap watercolors, the masks, the photos, the figurines: While we were still busy doing actual, important things like looking for jobs and a place to live in DC, about 80% of my available brainspace was somehow taken up with thoughts of knickknackery. I knew that if I didn’t get a chance to decorate soon I would disappear into a pit of madness, dark crazy nesting madness, and down in that deep shadowy nest-pit I would scoop up armfuls of our things and throw them in the air and twirl around and cackle, gibbering wildly, rolling about as the things fell all around me, sort of like Scrooge McDuck or Demi Moore in Indecent Proposal, except instead of rolling around in money I would be rolling around in physical reassurances that we were, despite all other evidence to the contrary, interesting people leading interesting lives.
I don’t really have this feeling anymore. Well, of course I do, for what is that screenshot of my Flickr page if not a virtual apartment wall that I can come home to, stand in front of, hands on hips, saying “Yep”? But then again, really, I don’t, I don’t have that feeling. We have at least two times the number of knickknacks now, knickknacks that scream “I AM SO FUCKING WORLDLY LOOK AT ME AH,” and almost all of them are still in boxes at my parents’ house, and I rarely think of them, and when I do it is more stressful than anything else (e.g. ugh, it is going to cost a million dollars to frame all the crap I want to frame).
So much of what I idly read on the internet these days has to do with 1) America’s slow decline and the way it is screwing with the career paths and assumptions and futures of young people, and 2) said people who say “fuck it” and have some kind of privileged, bougie 20-something adventure instead: Biking across the country, hiking the Appalachian trail, founding a start-up, backpacking around Europe, starting an artisanal muffin shop with your bffs, or, of course, joining the Peace Corps (lol, losers). Reading about these kinds of things when I was 22 or 25 was excruciating. Reading about these things now inspires almost no emotion in me. Like, oh good, this article about some chick’s time WWOOFing in New Zealand will be a nice quick read during my lunch break. I’ll just keep that open in that tab there, and then I’ll finish writing these emails real fast, and then I’ll get my glass container of lentil salad out of the office fridge, and then I’ll have a quick banter with my coworkers on my walk back to my desk, and then I’ll have myself a read while I shovel my lunch in my face! Maybe afterwards I’ll even let myself scroll through my Flickr photos, real quick, just to feel superior about my adventures! But then, hey, right back to work. And then if I get enough stuff done this afternoon maybe I’ll let myself go to CVS and buy a Diet Coke. It’s the little things, ha ha ha!
I have no desire to travel or live abroad again, any time in the near future. At first, realizing that I felt this way was like realizing that I was missing a limb. But now it feels like a relief. I spent the three years between Korea and Mongolia becoming increasingly crazed about the possibility that we would not ever go overseas again. I would read those articles about WWOOFers, and I would feel doors and windows closing. I would imagine myself in five or ten years, not having scratched the live-abroad-again itch, and I felt horrified, knowing how miserable Future Me would be — sad, frumpy, mundane 35-year-old Future Me. Filled with regrets! Regrets and longing, and rage, and pizza.
But now I wonder if I was wrong. Did we really need to go to Mongolia? If we hadn’t, if we had stayed here instead, would I have still arrived at this place of deep, deep boringness, and satisfaction with my boringness, and indeed, a desire to become even more boring, as fast as possible?
(here is a piece of information I should have started this entry with but whatever: My job might go away soon, and so for the eleventyfifth time in my adult life I am on the cusp of unemployment, thinking about “the next step,” which is, as always, a lot of fun)
So the other day I submitted a job application to a major defense contractor. I did not even really understand the job listing but I could tell that I was almost qualified to do it, and this made me excited. Very excited. I would totally do that inexplicable job, or any inexplicable corporate/government job, in a hot minute because a) money, b) insurance, c) “an opportunity to gain new skills and grow within an organization” haha, like, why am I putting that in scare quotes? I am being earnest! All I want to do is disappear into some gigantic company for the next ten years and make a reasonable salary and do new things with new people and add meaty, opaque bullet points to my LinkedIn, and I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT!
BTW do you think all this is because I’ve been off hormonal birth control for the last year? I tried Googling various combinations of “hormonal birth control + life + restlessness + anxiety about future + worldview” but, no luck so far.
Too Much Information, guys, sorry.
But then of course there are moments. A few months ago I was at the mall with my mom and we saw a couple of Buddhist monks up ahead of us, walking past the Abercrombie and Fitch. Young guys, heads shaved, orange robes, sandals, cell phones. Maybe from Thailand, maybe from Laos, or Cambodia, or Vietnam. I felt the smallest pang, first for them (oh my god so far from home) and then for myself (aw remember when these guys were everywhere, what a visual treat that was, and then remember those two in Battambang who wanted to practice their English with us, they were so sweet, etc) and then for them, again (what is it like to be the living symbol of privileged carefree travel to eat-pray-love-type fuckheads everywhere you go?). And then I probably went home and read some of my blog entries from our first backpacking trip. I probably didn’t look back at my Flickr photos from that trip, though, because it’s been long enough and my equipment upgrades have been substantial enough and my skillz have improved enough (or at least I’d like to think so, don’t try to disabuse me of that notion) that these days I have a hard time looking at an early travel photo of mine without thinking: oh yeah, good one, moron.
Anyway! That, basically, is the real reason for me to not stop blogging or taking photos or whatever: Because at some point in the future I will be bored at work (please, god, please let me be at work) and it will be nice for Future Me to sit in front of the screen, and eat her pizza, and remember what happened in 2013.
Maybe I should move this whole shebang to Tumblr, though.
Well either way, coming up sometime soonish: My thoughts about this one dude on the Metro who talked to me!