Upon finishing my seventh of nine novels translated into the English language, I reflect.
Dreams that Only Come from Reading Murakami
I don't remember how the dream started. And I don't remember how the dream ended. But this is what I do remember. I was with my family (my mom, my dad and my sister) in a dark, empty and generally non-descript room. What I could make out was a small green garden snake slithering towards me in my corner of the room. I screamed and pulled myself backwards on my hands and feet. Not even a solid blink later, that garden snake is ripped into and swallowed, I see a hideous 12-foot long snake with two heads both of which were erect like a scorpion’s tail raised to the ceiling, leering at me. Before I can even react, I feel the sudden burst of hot liquid as its two fangs from its left head (my left, its right) punctures the flesh of my thigh. This is where the dream feels more real than I would like it to. This time I scream and the snake recoils.
It’s unclear whether or not my family is hurt, in fact, it’s unclear whether they are present in my dream anymore. One of them, not sure which family member, crouches over me on my right and tells me to snip off the snake’s antennae as I’m screaming and writhing in pain. Or was it a voice in my head? Like I said I’m not sure if there was another person physically in the room with me at all. In any case, now I have scissors in my hand. And it appears to me that this double headed snake has in total 4 long antennae each protruding like a single eyelash above each eye. Before it gets the chance to strike again, I quickly snip off each antennae. It reels back (predictably) and quickly shrivels and turns to dust. Then it’s dead. But I’m dying too, I think. The venom is spreading through my leg. And before that vision becomes ever creepier or more melodramatic, I wake up to my little sister’s cell phone alarm.
My face is sunken into a memory foam pillow. I’m drooling, as I usually do when I have such fantastic and detailed dreams. It’s 6:30am this morning and we’re all driving her to college, it’s her first day.
In these almost five years, I have read other books for pleasure. They tended to be memoirs, short story collections, lightweight non-fiction or books to get me through a lightweight workout (Dan Brown, I'm looking at you). But the meat of my pleasure reading has been Murakami novels. I picked up Kafka on the Shore not long after the hardcover version appeared on the shelves of the two-week loan section of the Fort Lee Public Library. Like my sister is now, I was a freshman in college then. When I read I would have menacing, frightful dreams. Of Johnnie Walker as a magician in a sideshow tent killing rabbits and slitting the throats of his audience participants. (I could have sworn I wrote an entry about it here, but I guess not).
That was the first novel. Charming and addictive, I quickly rebounded and set my sights on Sputnik Sweetheart. For the next few years I realized that Murakami brought people together. More than any other writer, I was able to connect with my peers and those older than me on his writing. Whether it was his most recent novel or a short story I devoured while idling away at an internship—being quick to ALT-TAB of course. When I interned at Simon & Schuster, carrying a hardcover edition of The Wild Sheep Chase with me was not so much frowned upon as it was critiqued. My pretentious officemates, the literary types who edited digital editions by day and attended their MFA programs and toiled at their novels-in-progress at night, chatted me up about how pulpy his novels are. Whatever, I’ll read Joyce and Dostoevsky for school sure, but let me have my pulp in the summertime. This coming from someone who proofreads Lance Bass’s memoir Out of Sync or Zane’s latest volume of Caramel Flava for a living. In summary, Murakami’s novels, and the corresponding ideas, thoughts and dreams, were the most cohesive thread throughout my college and post-college life (so far).
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Having no inclination to buy books that I will most likely only read once—come to think of it, I have never read a single book more than once, life is too short!—I often scoped out the Fort Lee Public Library every few weeks to see if they had any unread Murakami novels in circulation (The Wild Sheep Chase) or I reserved whatever copies I could from other libraries (Dance Dance Dance, Norwegian Wood). After finishing Norwegian Wood, I sighed. Being his most popular book in Japan, I had high expectations. Unfortunately, I couldn't emotionally connect with the loneliness, inability to communicate and utter hopelessness of the post-World War II youth of Japan. What a sob story—and not even as slyly ironic as Jeffrey Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides. I balked at the melodrama and like an addict craved the supernatural elements of his later works. Soon after, without looking very hard for it, I saw copies of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle twice in one year.
The first time I saw the pale green paperback with the upside-down bird, it was on the nightstand of someone who I was in love with. It’s unclear if that’s true or if it’s still true. He only got halfway through the book, which really doesn’t do me any good. He can neither recommend it to me nor would he lend it to me. I’m not too concerned about it anyway, they say this is Murakami’s most literary book, and I like my pulp, thank you very much.
Some half a year later, I’m standing in front of a bookshelf, in the apartment of a man I dated briefly who, now I realize, served no real purpose other than in helping me let go, leading me down the path from my ridiculous schoolgirl delusions of having found the Mr. Darcy to my Elizabeth Bennett, the Rhett Butler to my Scarlet O’Hara. One of the VPs at work—remind me not to chime in during love/relationship roundtable again—remarked last week that it’s the tough, apathetic girls that fall the hardest when they do fall. But, I digress.
Here I was looking through his books as he was showering. Before facebook, this must have been the best way to get to know someone—without their knowing. He caught me looking at his copy of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
“Hey I’ve been meaning to read this one. Did you like this?”
“No, I only got through the first few pages.”
“Not really into fiction.”
I could tell. I’m pretty sure that was the only fiction book on his shelf.
“If you’re not going to finish it, can I have it?”
“No. But you can borrow it.”
I pocketed it. Then I never saw him again. So effectively he gave it to me. I mention him because despite the fact that he was entitled, selfish, arrogant, rude and immature in just about every imaginable way, the one thing that did him in in my mind was the fact that he had no imagination or patience for fiction. I can somehow understand those who don’t have time to read for pleasure at all. But those who do, yet they only read non-fiction, how boring! How uninspired!
Another six months go by, I finally finish the book—no kidding, it really is a chore given how extensive and scattered the narrative is. The upside-down bird on its pale green background is sitting on my desk next to me as I’m writing. I can’t return it back to its owner. But I can’t keep it. I think I’ll swap it for something new (anything but South of the Border, West of the Sun or Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World).
Sometimes I forget what I am looking directly at. What is this carrot dangling in front of me? Or is it even a carrot? And is it even dangling? Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love it. As I love many things. That doesn't change.
What has changed on the other hand, especially in the past three months, is that I've been more emotional than I have ever been in the past 9 years. There are many possible explanations. The one that I just thought of right now is I haven't been writing about it. Notice my long absence from LJ.
I don't want to brood (I've never liked to, I always find it a tactic of the weak). However, I do ride on waves of emotions that resemble manic-depression in my socially affected mind. (I admit if we aren't the shrink-and-meds generation, I wouldn't hypothesize this. But we most definitely are).
My life is great. Not perfect, but very good. I choose to surround myself with good people and thus I have been very happy. Just on the flipside, I have also been extremely sad in small but frequent doses.
Sometimes though, there is nothing that anyone else can do for you. No one can teach you how to swim, if you're unwilling to jump in the pool. They can throw you in the pool, but if you cannot wave your arms and try, you cannot learn. I am more than willing to make the effort but I don't know where to begin. I'm scared that my paranoia, insecurities, and loneliness are, in fact, not due to hormonal imbalance. I am afraid that the root of the problem must be snuffed out with a much more painful sacrifice.
Let's hope it is a hormonal imbalance, and it will naturally work itself out.
It gets so dark at 5pm.
Join us in kicking off your Independence Day weekend early this year with not one but TWO parties. (Missed your chance on Thursday? Party it up on Friday!)
Celebrate your liberty like the libertine you are...
Contact me if you and any number of your friends want to get on the guestlist. I will be at both parties celebrating the end of my summer class! :-D This is already turning out to be a great summer and I haven't even started my month of travelling yet.
I hate when my mother complains about money. You think by agreeing to pay her $287 would buy the opportunity for her to shut up. Unfortunately no, I have to pay her $287 and she STILL gets to continue yelling at me. Life's not fair.
P.S. It's not like I have to pay her $287 cause I wrecked her car or anything. I have to pay her that cause that's how much she paid for my 2 Columbia classes this summer. And since I told her one of them is terrible and I want to drop it. She feels it's not worth it to pay $287 for me to take 1 Columbia class. Now she's yelling at me cause she thinks I'm lazy and too concerned with working and making money instead of taking classes. Ugh, this woman has no perspective.
I got accepted to be a Field Marketing Rep for Contiki Vacations. Which translates to: I get to go on a 14-day tour of Europe from July 26 - August 9th this summer, on their tab. It's what they call a "training trip."
Then I'm their slave for 6 hours/week for the next year, and then a "reward trip": 14-days in Australia. :-D
Attached is the last page of the presentation I had to make for them, just for kicks.
Then I'm spending the following two weeks in Shanghai, China. And then on the way back to the U.S., spending four days in Hawaii.
I'm also working on a movie this summer, as one of two production assistants in a four-person production team. I read the script and cringed. At least the directors aren't taking themselves too seriously, they very appropriately call it, "a Korean drama set in Chinatown." Except the obvious flaw in logic is that while a Bollywood movie set in say--Jackson Heights will do well since most people in India are bilingual (and especially if a big name like Sharukh Khan is starring in it), a Korean drama set in Chinatown won't. And unlike Better Luck Tomorrow, this movie is not produced by MTV.
Fun fun. Now I wish I were as enthusiastic about my other internship interviews... Summer Session I starts Monday, right after I come back from KPL National Conference this weekend in Maryland, ohhhh boy.
How's everyone else's summers starting out? I'm probably going to be in Manhattan for at least 11.5 hours/day Monday through Thursday (this is the condition in which I don't get a summer internship, I'm waiting on one). If I do, then certainly I'll be spending even more time here. I don't know why but for some reason, having a boyfriend makes me feel lonelier than usual, it makes me realize that there are very few people in the world who would absolutely go out of their way for you. Anyway, if any of you are in the area give me a call.
Who just raised $1000 for Pediatric AIDS?!?!
YEAH! I'm pumped. WHOOHOO. Now in 10 minutes I'm going to dancer breakfast. And from Saturday noon till Sunday 4pm you will not hear a peep from me cause I'll be imprisoned in Lerner Auditorium doing the Cotton-eyed Joe. 28 hours!!
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY DANCE MARATHON! WHOOHOO!
Wow that felt good.
IS IT EVEN POSSIBLE TO GET A MIGRAINE AND HOT FLASHES AT THE SAME TIME?! WHEN YOU'RE 19?!
Okay done... finally. For tonight. GAHHHHH *RIPS HAIR OUT*
Kids, don't ever do favors for people. Cause they're never going to repay the favor.
I need to quit this gig before I go crazy.
Edit: On the brightside, I will have made $980 this break. :-D Thereby salvaging my second-half of 2005 savings-to-earnings ratio from the negatives. My roommate asked me why I'm so bent on working and saving money.
I guess I'm a workaholic, cause it's my only vehicle of freedom from my restrictive, overprotective parents. When I make a deposit into my money market account, or pay off my credit card, I get such a thrill from seeing my name and social security number attached to these $ signs, decimal points, and numbers scrolling down the screen. It's my security blanket. No matter how the world may own me, I find it satisfying that I own a tiny piece of it, that belongs to no one but myself.
I had the strangest dream last night.
On the bus to work today, I was preparing to write an LJ entry about it. Especially about what happened after I woke up, that's the real icing on the cake. Excuse my uninspired idioms.
Anyway, I forget what the entire dream consisted of, but the end involved my friends, my family, and myself in a tent at a carnival. Somehow, a bunch of us were lured into a tiny sideshow tent.
A man dressed like a magician/mime was calling people up onto his tiny stage one by one. He had a white painted face, big exaggerated eyelashes, and red lips. He was wearing a top hat, a red vest, a puffy white shirt, and black breeches. He called up his first volunteer. A tall, middle-aged man, probably a father of young children.
With his "wand" he bore a hole into the man's neck. Blood immediately gushes out of his throat. The frightened man is struggling but can do nothing as he's magically standing paralyzed on the stage. We, the audience, try to back away, but at this point, there is no way out of the tent. Our feet are heavy, and we cannot move. Then suddenly, the magician seals the man's neck with what looks like clear mailing tape. The blood immediately stops flowing.
He calls up his next victim, one of my friends.
And then, it's 6:30am, and my sister's alarm clock goes off. She leaves it on for 8 minutes, much to my dismay. The station is WCBS, the headlines are typical... Judge Alito's hearings, the unusually mild forecast, the Disney World hostage crisis that ended with the police shooting and killing one of the perpetrators.
I have a private eureka! moment. What a coincidence for my dream to be so similar to current events. Like that time I dreamed about Princess Diana... on a certain weekend in September years ago.
Except, I'm at work now. And I have not seen any news of a Disney World hostage crisis.
Note: I'm not really so sick and disturbed. I was just reading Murakami yesterday, if that explains anything.
My roommate lost the bet. There will be no champagne for her and my suitemates. And I'm not sharing my vodka.
I watched, but could do nothing, as my GPA was singlehandedly destroyed by a certain banana-loving megalomaniac French professor.
I don't understand how I can get a B+ average on the problem sets (only two of which I didn't get 100 or 95 on), but manage to fail both the midterm and final. I mean of course I studied the textbook and each problem set, little did that prepare me.
Now I don't know how they do it in France, but I certainly can't devote all of my time and energy to ONE class. Give us a break, we're fucking American undergraduates (in a school used to relatively high inflation). Having to balance four other classes, a part-time job, and heavy involvement in three organizations, I don't have time to sit in the Business library for 5 hours everyday poring through every single Microeconomics book ever written just to predict the kinds of problems you'd throw at us on exam day.
That is the last time I am ever taking a class with a visiting professor, or one who doesn't have any reviews on CULPA.
GRRRRRR. SO MAD. CAN'T WRITE IN COMPLETE SENTENCES.