Snippets from a dream diary, presented as a year, because Miranda tagged me. Please forgive my typos and grammatical errors — really, who can type just after waking up? Because I always have jelly-fingers…
lines of running babies in matching dark brown winter coats, running through snow, getting trampled by horsemen. they were trying to save their mothers.
rooming with a girl who looks like m____, running a go-nowhere business selling gift items and government cheese. i moved out with trickery because that was the only way to get her respect.
(wait, was she wearing glasses in the shower? i think she was)
denis leary on tv, performing in a slave collar, bare chested, with scruffy hair and a beard. the cover of no cure for cancer was there, and it seemed to be the same act. the cover, though, said “INSOLENT” down the side right next to “DENIS LEARY.”
The entire menu was sweets, including an 11$ lump that they claimed was a “pancake and cake dough pancake.” It was gross-looking, we both left.
At this point the gun gets taken apart, and b____ demands that he needs something made of metal from the gun, and the mugger begs him not to take the barrel. b____ says, I need something. The trigger, or maybe two of the bullets.
I pushed the bicycle into the overgrown driveway of the church, and then to the left and down, into a trench-like depression. The forest canopy was high above me.
“If I have to plunge for equipment, I will!”
There was a big plastic elevator up from the cafeteria. I watched a small girl try to work the buttons and then smiled at her mother.
IN THIS WORLD GUNS ARE OUTLAWED, THE USE OF ONE WILL MAKE YOU SUBJECT TO A PUNISHMENT THAT IS SO HORRIBLE THT NO ONE SEEMS TO UNDERSTAND EXACTLY WHAT IT IS.
ONLY ONE PERSON HAS EVER SURVIVED THIS AND A SMAL CULT HS BUILT UP AROUND THIS MAN. ITS MEMBERS ARE UNAFRAID OF DEATH OR PAIN BECAUSE THEIR LEADER WAS ABLE TO WITHSTAND AND SURVIVE THE GREATEST OF PIAIN.
FOR SOME REASON, THE GROUND WAS CAKED WITH SALT.
Inexplicably the bike had grown large peas (the size of cherry tomatoes) along its wheels so I scraped them off, put them in a pile on the ground and then used the bike wheel to flip them into the bully’s face.
He was shocked and complained that he couldn’t hassle effecitvely in this damn town and went somewhere else to ply his trade.
The house I lived in was weird, with the bedrooms in the basement and a weird, lumberjack lodge kitchen upstairs. Lots of light.
At this point something that resembles a Japanese Zero plane flies outside the window. A girl runs to a turret (every window has a turret!) and starts firing a machine gun at it.
“How do you know that was an enemy plane?” I ask.
The next time that a____ stole the rocket and the guard noticed her rusted bolt on his chestplate, Monkey Robot girl was under the stairwell already when Amy tried to duck underneath. The plates retracted, and the automatic system ejected a____. She would be caught red-handed! She raced back under the stairs, triumphant that at least both of them would be caught, but Monkey Robot Girl was nowhere to be found. The plates disappeared, and the guard was there.
We stood at the open end, trains loading behind us; though we were in a state of evacuation, there didn’t seem to be any urgent need to load right away.
We finally escape, which involves sliding down a huge terraced mountain covered in snow. I’m holding a plate with a hot berry pie square on it.
I raised the storm window and screen, but they wouldn’t stay up, so I held them up with my forehead as I pushed my head through.
I have no idea if any of you even keep dream diaries. But! If you do, let me know and I’ll tag you retroactively, because I want to know!
New York, New Haven, New York
— I hate packing.
Whirlwind day in Manhattan, browsing the sample sale at Triple Five Soul, shopping at Lush, H&M, and tons of cute little kitsch shops, ooh-ing at Origins’ fab new Modern Friction dermabrasion rub but backing away a little at the price. Also: nibbles at Jaya Malaysian, Woorijip and Le Pain Quotidien with Miranda and Lia (rockstar!), and finally meeting Jarvis and Samson, adorable fuzzballs — all while fighting off jet-lag.
Lots of fun, but tired tired tired.
Okay, breathe, Yuki, get some sleep. You’ve a train to catch in the morning.
…dreaming of being a bride | New Haven, CT
Much, much too hot here to write. Not heat, specifically, but awful humidity, thick, wet, like childhood summers back home, thankfully forgotten (though I dearly miss: thunderstorms, fireflies).
Back home tomorrow night, anyone in NYC up for an early lunch in Chinatown? But — who am I kidding? Still jet-lagged and will probably sleep until it’s time to leave…
Good-bye, high shoulders, metal earth dwellers, palaces of glass. heart.
A wall of rain and fire to the west means I’m still stuck in New York for now — well, not stuck in New York, exactly, which would be just fine, but in the limbo that is the airport. Airports are places you’re either going-to or coming-from. There’s no such thing as being at an airport. The air is muggy and oppressive.
Sitting in a wet-hot plane for three hours on the runway, or in the wet-hot terminal, neither much of a choice — nor is spending the night at La Guardia or O’Hare. At this point I just want to feel Seattle’s cool embrace and the warmth of home. Leftovers and reruns and chores and sleep. I’d even like to be at work again.
I. Want. Destination.
In the meantime I’ve plenty of reading to chew through. Just finished A. S. Byatt’s Little Black Book of Stories, some of which left me cold but “A Stone Woman” and “The Pink Ribbon” were both affecting. The weaker stories suffer from truncation, or too much cleverness; all beautifully-written, of course. I’d forgotten how she dances in description, her joy in lists and catalogues. Also, have started A Wild Sheep Chase, which will hopefully last me until I’ve no more need of words.
I might have read three books in the whole of 2004, and twice that just in the past month. It’s like slipping into a favorite pair of shoes, familiar and well-worn.
Update, Tuesday a.m. — in Chicago. They say we can leave within the hour. Fingers crossed.
Update, Tuesday p.m. — home!!
Resolution #1: I’m going to try a lot harder to respond to your comments on neon epiphany, so please hold me to that.
Total number of books I’ve owned: v. hard to tell, because I’ve had many collections and they very rarely accompany me when I move. And likewise the set of books I’ve owned and those I’ve read only partially overlap. I’ve always been good at reading books I borrow while neglecting those already on my shelf.
That’s not really an answer, is it? So: I suppose I’ve got four bookshelves right now, in varying stages of fullness.
Last book I bought: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, used and tattered. I’m not sure where it goes on my to-read list. But soon.
Last book I read: Mostly snippets, lately, concentrating on Murakami’s A Wild Sheep Chase, while flitting between Robert Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style (been reading this in inches for years now) and a couple books on gender studies: The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls and Sexual Metamorphosis.
Five books that mean a lot to me:
Sei Shōnagon, The Pillow Book (abridged & translated by Ivan Morris, though the Amazon listing seems to be for a different edition — complete, perhaps?): when I was thirteen I was in a summer program at the University of Chicago, my first major experience spending time away from home, and I absolutely fell in love with the Seminary Co-op Bookstore there. I’d never seen so many wonderful books in one place — not gaudy bestsellers but serious literature and non-fiction, both classic and obscure. I gravitated especially towards the east asian historical section, and swallowed them up — Sarashina Nikki, The Tale of Genji*, Romance of the Three Kingdoms — and Shōnagon was my favorite of all, a collection of moments of perfect beauty, many unburdened by narrative.
I always wanted neon epiphany to be my own pillow book. I’m still trying.
A. S. Byatt, Possession: A Romance: this was the first adult fiction novel I ever read, and the first trade paperback I ever bought, also at the Seminary Co-op. Though I’ll admit I bought it for the beautiful Rosetti used on its cover (having not yet encountered pre-Raphaelite art), Byatt managed to bring that same feeling to life in words and verse, and brought to life a kind of nineteenth-century mythology. I don’t know if it would still affect me so much today, and I haven’t dared re-read it for fear that it wouldn’t.
John Varley, The Persistence of Vision: John Varley’s been on a novel-writing kick lately, but none of them shine as brightly as the jewels of short fiction he wrote during the ’70s & ’80s, most set in his “Eight Worlds” future history. I was still in my early teens when I found his “The Phantom of Kansas” in a paperback SF anthology, wonderfully readable and touching on themes of identity and gender, human cloning, environmental disaster, and the idea of art in the future. So I picked up Persistence, as well as The Barbie Murders and Blue Champagne, and read and re-read them. They’re all out of print now, but a good selection can be found in the just-published The John Varley Reader.
Frank Miller, et al., The Dark Knight Returns: showed me that comics could be serious, dark and adult in every sense of the word. Can I tell you how much I loved Sin City? I won’t, though — movies are a different topic completely, and I’d talk your ear off. Had a hard time deciding between this and Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind, which I came to almost simultaneously and had no less effect on me.
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale: I had the best high school junior english class, ever — we read LeGuin, Mary Shelley, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Harris, and even watched Koyaanisqatsi. It’s been so long that I don’t remember the details of the story, only the lingering feeling of terror and helplessness at a society so totally out of balance. My only comfort was that I could think of it as caricature, but should re-read it, now, when our own world seems to be spinning uncomfortably off-kilter.
Honorable mention: Tanith Lee’s The Book of the Damned. That’s what I really want to write.
She is here, my doppelgänger, and already more of a person than I am. And I? I am fading, fraying, graying, not yet gone but leaving quickly. To where? I can’t tell. That would require definition.
“You shouldn’t be afraid,” she says, pulling a cigarette from a gold case in her purse. She offers me the smoke and waits for the briefest of moments before placing it between her own lips.
“Your loss,” she shrugs, before taking a deep, long drag. Unfiltered. I turn away, feeling a phantom twinge of nostalgia in my undefined lungs, and I sense her eyes on me. She’s playing — she knows I’ve no taste for it anymore.
We exhale simultaneously, and the smoke hangs between us. Did some of that come from me?
“I was saying, you shouldn’t be afraid. Letting go is not the end. It’s becoming.”
You don’t understand, I want to say. I don’t want to be you again, or never, or before. You’re what I wanted to be, once, but now I want to be me. But it’s too late. I haven’t the strength, nor have I been able to speak for a very long time, now. I can only stare at this, my past, my future.
She looks back through golden coils, like the signets scattered before Carthage — a harbinger of doom.
I think, would it really be so bad?
And I know: one snip, one slip, and I unravel. The end.
I turn away once more, trying to ignore the weight of years of want. The sky is dark through the glass, deep and wet. A lost day, a day between days.
What do you do when you want to stop wanting?
She is planning for me a death by inches, this shadow-me, and each day I flit between engineering her own, and entertaining the idea of just letting it happen. We are all too aware that there is no road on which the two of us, in traveling together, can join and become whole. Our roots will either choke for lack of space, or one will wither and the other flourish.
So we sit and plot, and smile stiffly at each other, frozen by fear of motion.
But on the other hand, Miranda, my skin is smooth and smells faintly of citrus and bergamot and white tea leaves — after all, if nothing else, we can live for these small pleasures.
i’m home alone right now. mommy left yesterday and i dunno when she’ll be back. she said not to leave the glass room but it was wet and the dark eyes kept looking at me so i snuck out.
i wanted to have another tea party with mrs. dooley and tracy and hannah and my other friends but nobody talks to me anymore. mr. dipple says they’re not my real friends anyways and i don’t need tea parties anymore because he’s gonna take me to real ones again like he used to.
i miss hannah. she has warm hands and her voice doesn’t shake. not like mr. dipple’s friends. their hands are cold and prickly and i can feel them all over still weeks and weeks after.
i made a little dolly out of my hair. maybe she can be my friend instead.
Obligatory Origins update: skin kind of overreacted and got really oily for the rest of the day. But still wonderfully smooth. Investigating workarounds.
I just realized that for about three months now, I’ve stuck to a pretty good average of one post every two days. Not being a very inspired writer — or rather, being the kind of person who frets nervously for hours at the keyboard for every single sentence produced — that comes as a total surprise to me. I never realized how much work that kind of output requires! I have no idea how all of you superstars do it!
At any rate, I’m in a full-on fret right now, so please, please let me know if you think the quality’s gone down over that time. Because, you know, I still want to be interesting.
But I guess I’m in self-evaluation mode anyway, since it’s annual review time at work — the absolutely worst time of year for the insecure.
Today I have a touch of fire, and with it I have charred my body, my love and my own. There is nothing my hands can hold which cannot be unmade by flame.
Beware! Beware my touch! For it is indiscriminate and final.
There’s a certain perversity (or is it defeatism?) to walking up to a checkout counter holding a fancy new electronic bathroom scale — complete with body fat monitor — in one hand, and a large bag of Almond Roca candies in the other.
So, a dilemma: which do I open first? Because, so help me, only one is going to see action tonight. This is still irony, not tragedy, after all.
By the way, I’ve had trains on my mind lately:
Making Tracks, a flickr photoset
Secret project — for now!
I’ve been so long without pain that I’d almost forgotten — not the twinges and tingles and needles that line my daily existence, but that dull seeping ache which leaks in & drives out all other feeling until there’s no longer a line between body and mind, but a single, white-hot flame that cannot be ignored. And oh, I am broken, broken, like Frida and her skeleton of wirework and nails—
But no, I’m not there yet. I can feel it beginning, and I’m afraid.
I had meant to write about fireflies.
Have taken a turn for the better, somehow — health crisis averted for now. Still, no sense taking chances, so I spent today mostly sedentary, reading about cherries and felting wool and echidnas, also known as spiny anteaters, the only surviving relatives of the platypus (warning: hatching baby echidna photo). Also started The Diary of Lady Murasaki.
I know it’s a horribly romanticized notion with little connection to reality, but I’ve always thought that if I’d had the chance to choose what era I could live in, that the life of a lady-in-waiting at the Heian court would be very appealing. But then, I’ve always felt (and have mentioned here before) a special affinity with Sei Shōnagon, planted at an early age. Oh, to have lived in an age of aesthetics! That’s the kind of decadence I can get behind. Being able to dress like Queen Amidala would be pure frosting.
I think the charm of tooth-black would wear thin very quickly, though.
Oh, this night air!
There is familiarity here, at this uneasy border between today and tomorrow, like a lost love returned from abroad — in how it transforms sound, enhancing the unfamiliar but muffling everything else, or the way it hangs heavy but high, as if unable to decide whether to descend and become morning.
There is power here — or is it fear? This lonely emptiness breeds one or the other, and there’s no telling them apart. Not here. We are all mad in our solitude.
There is temptation here, too, hours to spend in this moment, if only it had any to give. But daylight is held by the thinnest of threads, and is late, too late now. I know I should not be out, and remember: there are sirens in these waters.
Once, this was my element, but no more. I am worn, weak, too easily steered off-course. But still—
Can you hear? They are calling.