I don’t write about work much because when I’m there I spend most of my time imagining I’m not and when I’m not there I forget about it.
But yesterday it was rainy and dark, and I got to sit in the back of the clinic in the nurse’s office answering phones while they had a meeting. Those are my favorite days because I can read uninterrupted. I was reading Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami and became so consumed I was surprised by every telephone ring (sorry, people of Lincoln who were calling the nurse yesterday.)
After reading Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore and The Windup Bird Chronicles (both given to me separately by good friends) I’m appreciating the simpler plot of Sputnik. It’s decidedly Murakami in its inclusion of cats, dream-like reality, out-of-body experiences, and the idea that people can be split in two. But it isn’t quite as complicated as the other two, which makes for a quicker read. It also has the wonderful (best aspect of Murakami in my opinion) quotes that come so naturally to the setting of the book, but stand alone in wisdom.
He writes so eloquently about love and travel and self-actualization, it feels like he’s living in my own subconscious.
The following are some of my favorite Murakami quotes:
“The answer is dreams. Dreaming on and on. Entering the world of dreams and never coming out. Living in dreams for the rest of time.” (Sputnik Sweetheart)
“What do you think? I’m not a starfish or a pepper tree. I’m a living, breathing human being. Of course I’ve been in love.” (Kafka on the Shore)
“Narrow minds devoid of imagination. Intolerance, theories cut off from reality, empty terminology, usurped ideals, inflexible systems. Those are the things that really frighten me. What I absolutely fear and loathe.” (Kafka on the Shore)
“Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back. That’s part of what it means to be alive. But inside our heads – at least that’s where I imagine it – there’s a little room where we store those memories. A room like the stacks in this library. And to understand the workings of our own heart we have to keep on making new reference cards. We have to dust things off every once in awhile, let in fresh air, change the water in the flower vases. In other words, you’ll live forever in your own private library.” (Kafka on the Shore)
“But I didn’t understand then. That I could hurt somebody so badly she would never recover. That a person can, just by living, damage another human being beyond repair.” (Murakami)
“Here’s what I think, Mr. Wind-Up Bird,” said May Kasahara. “Everybody’s born with some different thing at the core of their existence. And that thing, whatever it is, becomes like a heat source that runs each person from the inside. I have one too, of course. Like everybody else. But sometimes it gets out of hand. It swells or shrinks inside me, and it shakes me up. What I’d really like to do is find a way to communicate that feeling to another person. But I can’t seem to do it. They just don’t get it. Of course, the problem could be that I’m not explaining it very well, but I think it’s because they’re not listening very well. They pretend to be listening, but they’re not, really. So I get worked up sometimes, and I do some crazy things.” (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles)
“Chance encounters are what keep us going.” (Kafka on the Shore)
And, in honour of Kari’s literary persuits: “The light of morning decomposes everything.” (Murakami)
I’ve also been reading Alan Dugan in the nurse’s office recently. I found this poem fitting with the weather and the setting. My favorite line is: “Some of the typists laughed/ to feel real water not from taps: they are the ones/ with joys to dream of, once/ the day is typed away.”
Always prudent but unprepared
For spontaneity in weather,
The office workers got their pressed
Survival jackets soaked
While running in new rain
From work to travel home.
Some of the typists laughed
to feel real water not from taps: they are the ones
with joys to dream of, once
the day is typed away. Once
I’d hope to dream in the rain
For life, unbothered by
The economics of appearance,
And I did, for years, and knew
It’s soaking intimacy. Now
I’m pressed in the synthetics too,
And have no place to go
to in the weather, except home
but it is not so bad,
pacing an empty office after 5
in the trash of squalid crises.
I hit the key of “I”
On a girl’s machine, and see
That it is red, nail polish red,
With her device of getting on
Beautifully for survival:
That is not just vanity!
I get rebellious for the truth
Of outside weather often, but
My check is here each Friday.