Follow me maybe?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"The Bathroom Sink"

The bathroom sink was very much like my parents’ marriage;
A visitor would admire the beautiful grey marble
But an inhabitant would know that it was on the verge of collapse.
My parents dealt with it like the rest of their problems – doing nothing;
In the meantime, we stopped using that bathroom altogether.

One day I went to get something from the cabinet under that sink
And I had forgotten. No miracle happened. The crash was so loud that
I ran as far away as I could in the apartment; the sink’s fragments were after me.
My father’s phone was conveniently busy. My mother, who called him,
Said phrases I could not understand but they made my head spin with fear
And they made me swear I would never be in love.

She called for repairmen to come up, and while waiting she stood there, 
Holding what was left of the sink together – 
This is the image that comes to mind every time I read 
Mao’s quote about how women can hold up half the sky.


The debris on the floor started swimming.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ice cream samples.

"This might sound rude, but I think it's an amazing achievement to find even one specific thing that you're interested in."
-Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Haruki Murakami
I've always pondered over how we seem to all be thrown into this world and given opportunities to pass the time. There's something possibly pathetic about the thought that we scramble to find things to do and many of us freak out when there's "nothing going on" (a common complaint at my rural liberal arts college) when in the end, maybe nothing really matters. Who cares if we do all of these great things when they all have to come to an end, or when we all come to an end. I think that's why I don't really watch movies - what's the point of getting invested in characters and a storyline that ceases after two hours? This is a weird fear; I recognize it's totally just me and people who watch movies are the normal ones. I've thought about how if you become zealously stingy with your time and the things you choose to commit yourself to, you just might never find something that satisfies your standards enough, you paradoxically end up doing nothing at all. I'm blessed in that I have a very sunny disposition because this could be a potentially very depressing path of thought to go down.

A couple of days ago, I realized that there was something specific that I wanted to be. Unlike some people who've known what they want to do with their lives since they were young and stuck through with it, I've been a lost kid. I'm still pretty lost. I'd like to think of being lost in a more poetic way - dancing in different directions, eyes wide open, heart beating with excitement about different things. Kind of like trying a bunch of samples at an ice cream place. Previously, I had always given some vague answer when people asked me what I wanted to do, and it was the kind of answer that I thought I should be giving. So the epiphany I had recently was the first time in an extremely, extremely long time - maybe even longer my boy craze that spanned a decade - that I could describe something that I wanted to do as a profession. It wasn't even like, a vision that I became dead set on - it was just something that I thought I would really enjoy doing as a grownup. This idea was so jarring that I sat down in my room and cried - with relief? - with excitement? - that maybe I'm not going to be lost forever and maybe I've found something worth pursuing, worth cherishing, even if everything is going to end.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

"Wiggling"

The truth, like a loose tooth,
   wiggles about slightly, unpleasantly
   something I can forget now but will remember later
   upon any contact;
   contact in the form of things you do not do,
   wishes that I dare not tell anyone,
   and last thoughts before my mind rests its voice for the night.

It breaks off where it was once connected to
   and falls
                 - falls -
                             I have fallen for you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

1/35.

“Let’s say you are an empty vessel. So what? What’s wrong with that?” Eri said. “You’re still a wonderful, attractive vessel. And really, does anybody know who they are? So why not be a completely beautiful vessel? The kind people feel good about, the kind people want to entrust with precious belongings.”
-Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Haruki Murakami
For some time, I've been aware of Haruki Murakami as "that guy who wrote Norwegian Wood". I just finished reading Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage - the first time I've read one of Murakami's works - and I really liked it. So as I mentioned yesterday, I've committed to reading all the books on the Best Books 2014: Slate Staff Picks list within the next 13 months, and Colorless is the first one I can cross off.

I definitely identified with the way Tsukuru, the protagonist, constantly reflects on how there is nothing colorful about his personality, his life, or the role he plays in other people's lives. What was more striking was that I identified so much with this aspect of his character without expecting to or realizing it until it had become a recurrent thought. I don't mean this in a depressed or self-deprecating way at all; I see myself as someone with good qualities, but also surrounded by people who are not only more so of these qualities, but they also possess some that I don't.

Murakami (or Philip Gabriel, who translated the text into English?) writes beautifully. The story is very easy to follow and the pages go by quickly. I wish the book ended with a greater sense of closure on particular plot lines, but I think this is Murakami's way of addressing what he considers the truly vital points, and making clear what he considers secondary to that.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The book club of exactly one member.

I love reading, and I read pretty quickly. This has always been the case, but in recent years I've definitely been neglecting reading books for pleasure - with no need to impress anyone or complete an assignment. I mean, I do like reading what I have to read for classes, but I frequently start thinking about what I'm going to do next once I realize I'm on the last page of an article, or book. I miss the feeling of having an unfinished book on my desk, being the thing that I eagerly look forward to. Or the moment when a book is read and, however fleeting the moment is, I feel like my brain has been stretched and I am altered in a way that is irreversible.

Content-wise, the stuff I read for fun is usually still tangentially connected to my classes at school anyway, leading me to conclude that at least part of the joy in reading for pleasure comes from purely the feeling of having enough free time to do this. It's like, a time commitment with no strings attached. I like reading for fun because I feel like I'm allowed to let my guard down and get into the language and the emotions instead of focusing on following the logic of arguments and noting key points in case there's a surprise quiz the next day. Don't get me wrong, I also really like the latter. I've come to really enjoy parsing through the structure of the arguments I read and being critical about them, but I think the former is just a nice change of word scenery and keeps things interesting.

I am a firm believer of the opinion that if something matters to you enough, you will make time for it. This goes for things, and people in your life. Other than the roughly 500 pages of academic papers or textbooks that I read per week, web articles, and newspapers, I've started and finished about five non-school related books in 2014. That's really pathetic. Therefore, remedying this situation matters to me right now. I think I could use a broadening of my literary horizons.

As a very frequent reader of Slate, I think that their "Best Books 2014: Slate Staff Picks" list was a good place to start. It is now a personal goal of mine to complete (and like, properly complete, as opposed to completing for the sake of feeling competitive against myself) all 35 before the end of 2015. I think Slate is awesome, so I feel confident that the titles on the list were chosen after much deliberation by very intelligent individuals.

I borrowed two from the library today, and I have two more coming in the mail on Friday. I'm now on page 82 of my first book and I love it. I'm not sure what this little target is going to do to my bank account, or whether starting this with finals right around the corner is necessarily the smartest idea...but we'll see how this goes! Expect more updates, or passages that I think are worth reposting.