Since we moved here I've been having sort of a quarter life crisis, and I think the only solution is to be as personally fulfilled as possible, so I've been dying to get my shit from Korea and start painting again, but this is one of the two slow-moving projects I have to tide me over until I can sort everything out. Most of what I have to work with right now consists of clippings from free magazines picked up in train stations and sheets of packaging and cheap origami paper.
There's a town in Saitama called Moroyama with a cute second-hand shop run by a very nice older couple. Mostly they sell kitchen goods, everything is dusty, the lights often aren't on, and they open whenever they feel like it in the morning. Anyway, aside from newspaper, they also use large sheets of this silver Phoenix-printed orange paper to wrap breakable things. It also has an American southwestern vibe if you're thinking about it the right way, which is what I wanted for this envelope:
I sent a small handwritten letter, some flake stickers, and articles and clippings about music, art and fashion to this particular friend who recently left the Bay Area to reevaluate priorities and get some fresh air ("find himself" is way too trite and patronising) somewhere in New Mexico.
This next one was for a lovely, sweet Japanese woman I met and became friends with while working in Seoul. She dreams of returning to New Zealand - where she met her Korean husband - one day, opening a cafe there, and owning and raising llamas and sheep.
Originally I wanted to make a long, folded-up string of Alpacasso-inspired sheep and llamas that would accordion out like a shockingly lengthy bill in a cartoon, but after doing the first one, I realised I just wasn't going to draw that many, and cut it off at like 6.
Yeah, by the time I got to the one that was just a butt, my attention span was already spent, and I only made it to 5. I've disappointed my family, my country, and myself.
I made an envelope out of a lovely, thick, glossy flyer for an international gardening and rose show I'd been seeing at train stations in Saitama and threw in a second note on a cute bunny, some flake stickers, and paw-shaped gummies.
This next one's for a girl I went to college with and who I thought was still living in Aomori, until I messaged about her address and found out she'd been compelled by unfortunate circumstances to return Stateside. She's been working as a barista and doing freelance J - E translating on the side.
Being previously aware of her love for tea and cute things, the barista theme was kind of already in place and came together easily as a collage.
Along with the handwritten notes, I specifically sent her articles (on a J-rock icon and super cute but adult recipes) in Japanese:
Oh right, duh, and more flake stickers, because who the fuck doesn't like cute stickers.
Finally, I realised I could put together this last one pretty quickly for a certain train otaku I know living in Kochi. He spent Golden Week in central Europe. When I found out several months ago upon telling him that I was going to Germany that he'd been learning German for a while and planned on going himself, it was a weird, totally coincidental crossing of interests and points in our lives.
So, naturally, I sent him the Japanese train system-related things I had and turned the Tokyo subway map into an (upside-down) ersatz German postcard asking about his trip.
Now that we're settled, I'm hoping to get the third round of these into the mail a lot faster, though working with such limited supplies after work and on the weekends when I'm not doing something else - like spending 6 hours at Immi or quitting my job - is slow-going.
Not only that, but making each packet something personal and fitting is a bit more challenging than I thought it'd be.
Thankfully, another friend I went to college with who's also been living here in Japan told me that she writes short stories as a hobby and gave me the unique idea of what exactly I should exchange with her, but a lot of others are still up in the air.
Part of this quarter life crisis thing for me, though, is my lifelong struggle with actually finishing the projects that I start, so this is going to go on for a while, damn it. Not only that, but I miss people, want to stay in touch, and want to do it through creative expression and the gradually disappearing joy of receiving something in the mail.