December 4th, 2007


extremely close and incredibly loud

Still reading Foer's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close". Honestly, I don't think I could give an objective opinion on this book--I'm bringing too much to the table. I don't directly identify with any of the characters and yet it resonates with me as strongly as if I had personally lived every moment. It's as if a far more skilled and mature writer watched my subconscious for a year, thought "hmmm", and wrote something completely different. No description of this book could do it justice, so I'll just quote a short passage. Skip it if you're already certain you're going to read it yourself.

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    White Town - I Could Never Be Your Woman
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in which my subconscious goes to grad school maybe?

Woke up feeling ill this morning. Think I pushed myself too hard yesterday, cleaning the new room and unpacking my shit.

After calling in sick and going back to bed I dreamt I was returning for another semester at Oberlin. The thing that made it not just another nostalgia dream was that it was a sophomore year semester, a semester without the friendly familiarity of the halls and the dorms and the green spots. It was an Oberlin I knew, but a new Oberlin, into which I was taking none of the things that make it special to me, like Will returning as a sophomore four years after he was a freshman. Not post-Oberlin, where my friends are going, where I guess I am going, but something entirely new. No late-night chill-out sessions on Union Street or Nerf battles in North. No concerts at the 'Cat and dancing at the 'Sco. No Anna, Kate, Tom, Erica; no Eric, no Todd, no Heather or Will; no living in a little green house with Andy, Mike, and Phil; no worship night with OCF; no losing the game in the lab (you just lost the game); no pretentious English major parties; no running through the halls of an empty Science Center with a female kindred spirit. A clean slate, with none of the good memories and none of the bad. Just a big, strange campus, with the vague smugness of past experience.

I was living in a double in Phillips Gym, which had been converted into a dorm and was occupied entirely by enormous jocks. I introduced myself to my RA, an eight-foot crew-cut Asian troglodyte, telling him that in the past I had always made the mistake of never getting to know my neighbors, and he smiled at me and welcomed me to the dorm and told me not to let his door slam shut when I leave because he fucking hates it when people do that.

The Asia House lounge was full of strange young faces. Very '08. There was some kind of social going on so everyone was in costume or fancy attire, standing or lounging about on a series of couches. Yoshi was juggling flames in a circus mask, Eric Michaels was fencing a freshman, Aries and Liz Hibbard were looking out the window and holding hands and smiling. All the lights were turned off, though the streetlamps of the North Quad outside were more than enough to bathe the room in orange--groups of froshlings babbling to each other, couples under the wisdom tree, a half-moon over the Science Center. Trees. I looked outside, and thought of all the research I needed to be doing. I wondered if I would ever manage to leave.

But you already have, I thought.

This is just a dream.

And I woke up alone, in the dark, on an enormous double bed, in a room with no windows. With a whinging headache. I fumbled for the light switch but the bulb was burnt out. Familiarity told me otherwise but I knew that this was real life and that was the dream, and, well.

It was only after maybe an hour of sitting up, staring at the empty walls, awake, that I could bring myself to get out of bed.
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I couldn't find cougarfang's translation of Emil Chau's "Peng You" (Friends), so I made one myself. If you've ever seen me singing in Chinese on the way to the Cat, the 'Sco, Nerd House, or Anna's house, I was probably singing this. (With irony, occasionally.) In Taiwan the song has similar cultural significance to Don McLean's "American Pie"--it is commonly sung on graduation trips, campouts, and other high school outings, and thus holds a lot of nostalgic value to people of my generation. It was my high school graduation song, and it has continued to grow with me ever since.

(It's also the song from that color barf entry I wrote two years ago, which confused the hell out of all of you non-Mandarin-speaking folk. ^_^)

Anyhow. You're not going to find any further ado here, because there will be none!

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    Zhou Hua Jian (Emil Chau) - Peng You (Friends)
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