When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along with an FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie, which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta.
Is this not the most perfect first sentence for a novel you’ve ever read? It reads to me like poetry. It’s the first line from The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murikami, a novel I’ve been hypnotized by for over a month now. I finished it yesterday and I have that accomplished but sad void inside where the book used to live. It was a colossal novel and could have gone on for a thousand more pages, and I’d be happy to read them. The Wind Up Bird came after a similarly mesmerizing experience reading two of his other novels: A Wild Sheep Chase and Kafka of the Shore. I couldn’t say which I love the most–they’re all my favorite. Suffice it to say, Murikami is my favorite new author, and I’m a little late to the game. Luckily for me, he is a such a prolific writer with a large repertoire to choose from, and I just can’t see transitioning to a new authors work right now. I’m glued to his clean, composed writing, rock solid metaphors, and uncharted territory in terms of subject matter, truly. Read any one of the aforementioned and you’ll know what I mean. Transitioning to a new author now would be like shopping at Armani your whole life and then being thrust into a jam-packed Forever 21 store with flashing lights and blaring electronic house music. I just have to stick with him for now.
I can’t sleep again. It’s 4 am and I’ve been up and down all night. Actually it’s been more back and forth: bedroom kitchen, bedroom kitchen, microwave heat pad, kitchen bedroom. My bones are achy all over, the flu-type of aches, except that it’s explicitly in my bones and not muscles. Don’t ask how I know that for sure, but I do. There’s nerve pain, muscle pain, and bone pain. This time it’s the bones. When I rustle the sheets to get out of bed, Monty’s head jerks up to watch me, calculating whether he should get up to follow. But when I hold up the heat pack in my hands, he knows I’ll be back in one minute and thirty seconds, or something close to it. His heavy head plops down, he stretches all four legs and takes a deep breath, then drifts away. There’s something calming about Monty sleep on the edge of my bed, his belly rising and falling. It’s also nice knowing he’ll save me from my nightmares when I’m stuck in one and can’t wake myself up. I envy how perfectly in sync his body is with nature. The rhythms are so obvious. Always asleep by 10:00 pm, awake around 8 to go outside, and pawing at the pantry door at 6:30, ready for dinner. My body’s internal clock has been broken for years, so it’s nice to see one that actually works. I wonder what he’s dreaming of now. He’s chasing something fast because his legs are kicking away and he’s making small whines and growls. Probably a squirrel.
Sometimes I take insomnia as not a symptom or interruption, but a sign that I should probably just wake up. So here I am, here it is.
There is a large black spider that I noticed out of the corner of my eye when I was reading earlier. In my peripheral I noticed something dark making those jagged, stop-go movements along the wall. By it’s jerky advance I figured it was a spider, but I was not expecting the huge size of the thing. The circumference a tad bigger than a mardi-gras debloon. It’s not long legs that get to me, but when they have a thick body- forgetaboutit. This one did, and every time I looked his way he stopped dead in his tracks. I tried to catch him anyway to let him outside, but to no avail, so we’re just hanging out I guess. He can’t make up his mind about staying or leaving my room, but when I intervene and herd him like a sheep in the direction of the door, he splits and goes the other way. Owell. I’ve become pretty desensitized to arachnids, insects and even vermin since moving back to “the farm.” We get a lot of Wolf Spiders here, which look exactly how they sound–frighteningly huge with thick hairy legs. They are abundant but not poisonous. Sometimes I see Monty pounce to a corner of the room and I know that’s what he’s after. For whatever reason, maybe it’s the statue of St. Francis in the garden, I feel the need to save every animal I come across in this house. Same goes for the pool. Sometimes this means taking a substantial amount of time just to save some critter, which I’d imagine many people would call a damned waste of time. And maybe they’d be right. But the mouse would beg to differ.
Once, I was trying to save a small frog in the pool who was being a real jerk about it. He kept jutting to opposite corners every time I went to swoop him up. Finally he was sucked into one of the skimmers on the side and I was able to scoop him out. When I looked in at all the other debris and leaves swirling around in the basket, I saw a large spider struggling to stick to the side. If I put the lid back on top he would obviously die in there. I squatted there in the sun watching a while, and it occurred to me Why the frog but not the spider? I reached in and scooped him out too. Ever since, I save all the animals around here that I’m able, and there are a lot and of every variety. Last summer it was a rather large blue skink–not easy. But I just can’t see where we should draw a line on who stays and who goes. I find it funny when I hear that bears or deer are “encroaching on our land!” Wasn’t it always their land, or just land where they hung out, until we decided to develop and build on it, driving them further and further out until there was no place left to go? I don’t mean to be some PETA extremist throwing paint on our growth. It just seems like the earth is a large enough place that we should be able to live in tandem with creatures who came far before we did without pushing them to the edge. “Population control” means lots of dead animals. And I understand the premise, the intention. I don’t know, maybe I’m too romantic and that’s a Utopia that just isn’t possible.
One morning while brushing my teeth, I kept hearing strange high pitched squeaks. At first I thought it was the AC unit or some indoor appliance. But then I saw Monty heard it too, and was sniffing all around with his tail and ears rigid and alert. He sniffed the ground until he got to the bathtub and stopped. I heard the squeaks again, and like a scene out of a Hitchcock movie, I slooowly peeled back the shower curtain, when suddenly a mouse squeaked and bolted, running for his life in circles around the tub. Like any civil woman, I shouted loudly and needlessly, while Monty tried to lunge inside the tub to capture it, I guess. Once I collected myself, pulled Monty away, I saw that it was just a baby mouse. We all came to a hault, and I could see his poor tiny heart thumping. Finally I found a gladware container, that’s basically all they’re used for at this house, slowly ushered him in and let him free outside. He quickly disappeared underneath the leaves and Monty sniffed at the spot for a while. I have so much uninterrupted time for these kinds of things, and I think that’s why they happen. If I were a busy woman late to work, maybe I’d have a husband and maybe he’d have killed the mouse and we’d have gone on with our lives. Funny how differently things can turn out.
Now I cannot see the spider, which I think is actually scarier than seeing the spider, because who knows? I keep jerking around suddenly when I feel an itch or some movement, but it’s mostly just my mind freaking me out. Hopefully he’s gone to the hallway bathroom–that’s where most of them end up.
Anyway, nights like these are not infrequent for me. I am often up at strange hours, and years ago I realized how sacred the night had become to my life. It felt like this whole other private world. No questions, no explanations and defenses, no phone. The walls come down, and a lot of ideas come to me then, sometimes annoyingly when I’m really tired, but they’re incessant and poke at me, so I keep a notebook next to the bed. After I write them down my mind settles. Sometimes they’re poems, dreams, letters, randomly long essays, and sometimes they’re just a one line sentence that is begging to be written. Recently they’re rhyming poems, which normally I hate. But strike when the irons hot, I guess. I think that most of my poems are crappy, but I find when I keep at a few of them for long enough, sometimes weeks– a little work everyday– I might end up with two or three stanzas that I would call decent bordering on good. I’m not sure, there’s really no way to gauge your own work.
You’re doing it again
You’re talking to yourself
I said that I wouldn’t
But there is no one else
Whom else could I speak
Without opening my mouth?
You’re wise enough to know now
there’s two of us inside
a sick one who is fading
and a strong one that won’t die
the reflection in the mirror
is a face, and not a mind
don’t let that pretty shadow you,
think that’s where to find
the one that wakes you from the dream
the one that comes out alive
one of us lives by numbers
one of us doesn’t tell time
There’s something you said,
And you weren’t wrong.
Things get weird
Alone too long
the question is
who’s writing this
the writer or the wrong
That’s a snidbit from my “No I’m Not Talking to Myself” series. Don’t worry, it’s not meant to be sad and I hope it doesn’t come off that way. But maybe it does, like I said, I need a teacher. I know they’re just basic rhymes and they lack some of the mystery and depth that great poetry contains. But I’ll keep at it and add the rest to my poetry page. Haters can leave comments there. It’s cool, I can take it.
I should try to sleep now. I’ve written way too much and I just transferred half of this post to a document on my computer that will probably never get read. My mind is so scattered lately, I have to get organized, but it’s been unusually hard. I guess I’ll start with sleep. That’s an OK place to start.
I’ll leave you with my favorite lines from The Wind Up Bird Chronicles. I can’t recommend Murakami enough, and I’ll write more on him next time. It has been a supernatural experience reading his books. Really.
“What gave money its true meaning was its dark-night namelessness, its breathtaking interchangeability.”
“Once he got a taste of the world of mass media, though, you could almost see him licking his chops. He was good. If anything, he seemed more relaxed in front of the cameras than in the real world.”
“..We never saw each other again. The relief this gave me bordered on ecstasy. Nothing so consumes a person as meaningless exertion.”
“When your hair starts to thin, it must feel as if your life is being worn away..as if you’ve taken a giant step in the direction of death, the last Big Consumption.”
“Everything was intertwined, with the complexity of a three-dimensional puzzle- a puzzle in which truth was not necessarily fact and fact not necessarily true.”
“I guess time doesn’t flow in order does it–A, B, C, D? It just sort of goes where it feels like going.”
Oh, I see the spider. He’s in the corner and positioned on his way out. Maybe I’ll save him in a glad-ware container tomorrow. For now I feel like I’m going to ralph. Good night.
Health, Happiness, Arachnisomnia
11 thoughts on “Let the Spider Live”
Mary! Murakami was one of the reasons I majored in English in college. I literally have read that book four or five times. Wrote a long essay on the problem with translations based on notes from the translator of this book, Jay Rubin. He, as well as all translators, was faced with tons of ambiguous underlying messages that are rampant in Murakami. Japanese is a very concise language but when translated into English there are countless examples of a word or phrase that could take up a paragraph to explain. This happens in nearly every translation of any language, but ya, my favorite is the word Kawaii which means cute, lovely, pitiful, and poor. It blows my mind. Words literally shape our thoughts… There are very few places to go from Murakami once you’ve tasted his sweet-sweet poison, but I do have some recommendations! Samuel Delany, Gene Wolfe, Neil Gaiman, and Gwyneth Jones are all great writers who dabble with the balance between reality and dream-like states of consciousness. But ya, there is only one Murakami. I just finished 1Q84 last month. Talk about a tome… Would be great for those long nights. I really love your writing and stay strong. You are a champion =-)
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Kyle! No wonder we dated when we were five, our mutual love of literature. Haha. I had no idea about the translational issues there were with these, as I thought all three read so smoothly as if they were written in no other language than English. But I did know Japanese, like Russian and German, are much more concise and I imagine that would cause some situations for translators. Your word Kawaii makes me laugh. So in Japanese you could be like “you’re so Kuwaii but also kind of Kuwaii and besides I’m really Kuwaii so we have to break up.” Haha. Thank you for your recommendations.. I am definitely going to need help transitioning from Murikami after I read the others so I will take them gladly. You’re right, few places to go after his intoxicating dreamy worlds. Out of curiosity which is your favorite? I think I’m about to read “Hard Boiled Wonderland” but I could use a recommendation. I had no idea you majored in English that’s great. You used to blow off your English homework all the time and sometimes I’d try to help you last minute finish but most the time it was too late. Hah what are you doing now? Still live in GJ if my memory serves me? Next time I visit we will have to hang for sure. I think it’s been twenty years! Crazy. Thank you for the encouragement, means a lot, and the the author recommendations. I’ve been eyeing the gargantuan 19Q4 but I want to make sure I’m ready hah. Wanna read a few earlier ones first. OK, good chat. Talk soon xoxo
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LoL yeah, it really has been at least twenty years… umm where to start… I graduated from Mesa State in good Ol’ Grand Junction in 2010, had a baby daughter that year, and split up with baby momma the next year!! It was really really hard. Her name is Coral Belle and she lives in Denver with her mom, who remarried, a super nice guy. I just wasn’t ready. Ummmm lol ya like I don’t know what to do with myself. Struggled pretty heavily the last seven years with baby mama drama and a serious head injury in 2013 (got hit by a bus… i’ll save that one for another time).
Still here, still happy to be, still don’t regret majoring in English! I often think of going back to get the teaching certification. It’d be like another 9 months of school, or maybe my Masters in Writing so I could teach… Part of me is still waiting to write the great American novel. ummmm lol hehe I dont know… probably too much info… Still living with my parents in Grand Junction, and take work wherever I can find it, mostly cafe’s and pizza joints lol…
Let’s see, ya, Murakami! he is literally the best. So his writing translates very well into English because he speaks English, in fact his first job in Literature was translating English books into Japanese! This is when he fell in love with mystery writers like John Cheever and decided to take a whack at being a writer himself. So ya, he has the rare privilege of being able to work directly with his translators. He has said he doesn’t want to translate them alone because he could miss something crucial… Yaaaaa! he rules. I really enjoyed Hard-boiled Wonderland and The End of the World. It is probably my favorite, but Wind-up Bird really is one of the most important books I have ever read. It is amazing. His main character is a Detective without ever really knowing he is! the story sort of follows him instead of the other way around.
Kafka on the Shore is good, but brace yourself, much like 1Q84, we are talking about depression, suicide, and guilt. As a Catholic you should be fine. JK… but seriously they are sad. OR at least there are some sad moments. Same with Norwegian Wood, and After Dark but don’t let that stop you. Those are all AWESOME works of fiction. I see people copying his style right and left anymore. The truth is is that Japan has suffered enormous amounts of Cultural Guilt. They are a traditional, ritualistic people that came from an incredibly battle hardened past, and now they are trying to heal the wounds they caused and received. I mean jeeezo they are still the only ones ever to be nuked, and it wasn’t like they didn’t have concentration camps in Japan. They did, but ya. He writes a lot about that kind of thing.
I like stuff that juggles Fantasy/Sci-fi with Realism and sorta philosophical approaches… You might enjoy Jose Saramago. My favorite of his is Death with Interruptions. It is literally what the movie Meet Joe Black is based on, but much better than that hehe.
YA! hit me up if you come to Grand Junction. I would be so down to catch up.
I think you would save the spiders if you had a husband and kids and were late for work. I do hehe. I haven’t read a good book in ages, Murakami sounds intriguing.
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Yeah you’re probably right. I may just be more of a pansy. I forgot to mention I fear cockroaches like the plague, and when I was in relationships I would always make my bf kill them for me. Now I actually (while trembling and making frightened gasps) throw a container on top of them and throw them outside. THAT is a new thing in my single thirties haha. I can’t recommend him more.. especially if you like books which play with dreams and the bounds of consciousness. Yet somehow he does it in a very accessible, tangible way: think inception, if inception made any sense at all. And was a whole lot better. :)
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Hello again! I don’t know if you do blogging awards, but I just wanted to let your know that I’ve just nominated you for the One Lovely Blog award. You can check out the details on my post: https://mommytrainingwheels.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/one-lovely-blog-award/
for a moment I had to hide behind my keyboard coz I thought the squeaks were coming from a sp..spider
Kafka on the Shore is like my bible! which is (not) weird since I’m a cat person ;)
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I’m getting into cats more and more, Murikami (plus the internet) is certainly encouraging my affection. Have you read Wild Sheep Chase? You should, especially becausethechacatertalkslikethis
This. Amazing. I have MS, so I feel for you. I read your blog every time you post. Thank you. <3
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Aw thanks dude. Really appreciate the support.. hang in there ;)
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You too! And I know it’s so much easier said than done! Keep writing!!!
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