After the job was finished, I wandered around for a while through the alleyways of the Old City. It was a late September night. Summer was ending, and the crickets were chirping ever more slowly and sparsely. The early morning mist was beginning to drift in from the river and dampen the asphalt. From this distance, I watched the glittering of high-rises along the Bund.
The journey had been a wild and senseless one, as I now realize all journeys to be. But on that September night, at three in the morning, that particular journey had come to a close. I had been a character for a while, and now I would become another. A sudden silence fell over me. It was the silence which strikes when your neighbor turns off their vacuum cleaner, or when the air conditioner grinds to a halt, or when the washing machine has finished its last rinse cycle. A silence louder than any white noise.
I stood for a long time under the neon sign of a corner convenience store, watching the gnats flutter around me. The store was still open. So I stepped in to buy a jar of peanut butter – in preparation for the morning.
Back in my solitary apartment, I sat at the kitchen table and finished the last couple of pages of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I was too tired to climb into bed, so I closed the book and laid my head down on the table. In the span of time just before dawn, I drifted off for a moment.
IT’S RAINING IT’S RAINING IT’S RAINING IT’S RAINING I CAN’T DO ANY WORK AT ALL IT’S RAINING IT’S RAINING IT’S RAINING
I don’t feel like myself and Songnan is in love and it smells like a December morning in San Francisco and sounds like a June evening in Yangzhou and fuck! calculus! and i’m so sad and so happy and it’s raining.
I! am! the! rain!
Joe HIsaishi soundtracks have never sounded better.
Felt incredibly unreal today.
Conversations in the dark.
Slept a grand total of three hours last night, and four hours the night before. Felt like that time I stayed overnight in PEK airport due to monsoons and watched the rain drum against massive aluminum frames on the tarmac until they finally cancelled my flight at 5am. So I lugged my shit back through customs and up the escalators and down the escalators out onto the sooty curbside. Couldn’t be bothered to hail a cab right then. Laid down against my luggage on the curb and allowed myself to be gathered up into the blanket of smog. Slept fitfully until an arriving passenger shook me awake.
I can’t write my short story and I’m becoming more and more agitated. It’s like trying to fall asleep all night, but each time you feel sleep lapping against your consciousness and beginning to pull you under, you become so flooded with relief that the tide carries you back to shore. Where you lie shipwrecked until finally, at 7am, the darkness in your room begins to dissipate, and you hallucinate that there are fucking birds chirping outside your window. And when at 9am your roommate’s alarm goes off, you have to remind yourself that the knives in the kitchen are only (peanut) butter knives.
It’s like that time I stayed too late at Mona’s. Woke up in the middle of the night with terrible nausea and couldn’t get a grasp on myself. Felt like I was retching myself into the toilet bowl and flushing myself away.
Went to calc review session and a girl wandered in late wearing thin yoga pants. She was asked to solve a problem on the blackboard and all I could do was stare at her ass and occasionally glance over to check if the instructor was doing the same.
Couldn’t feel hungry today. At all. Took two multivitamins. Walked into the cafeteria for dinner and was struck with the sense that I hadn’t been there for years. Ate a few leaves of spinach salad. Tried to talk to new acquaintances but couldn’t. Apologized. Left.
My palpitations are more noticeable than ever. I remember the night they began. Atlanta. April. The door of my motel room wouldn’t lock so I had to pull the desk across the room to wedge against the door. The thermostat was set too low, but I couldn’t do anything about it, I was too young and terrified, so I put on all the clothes I had in my carry-on and brushed my teeth with the tiny set Delta Airlines had provided. The hairs on the bathroom floor formed a sinister pattern.
Another one of those unreal days wedged in between my real ones.
Beginning on a short story about a pretentious dick who suddenly finds himself involved with the Triads. That always goes well.
One of the strangest interludes in my life occurred, as such interludes have a tendency of doing, when I was hard-pressed to find a sure and quick way to pay off some suddenly-accumulated debt. I was in my mid-twenties, very popular amongst the expat crowd in Shanghai, and I thought of myself as The Next Big Intellectual. And, if I can recall correctly, I believe I was on a strictly macrobiotic diet at the time. I identified with the weak digestive system of Nietzsche and was very vocal about it. I’d rather not go into details about my embarrassing monetary circumstances during that time, but thank god my friend knew someone who knew someone else who knew someone with connections who needed a roommate. So I ended up with a new roommate (a new room, in fact) and he managed to secure for me the job with (arguably) the highest pay/work ratio this side of the Bund.
WHICH OF YOU FUCKERS LIVE IN NEW YORK CITY I’m heading up in a month and I’d love to meet some of you if at all possible.