“Home” has been a malleable word to me for years. Although my family and I only lived in two states when I was younger, we changed houses often. Because of that, I’ve grown to have a pretty flexible definition of the word, to the point where “home” just means, “where I feel comfortable. And sleep.”
Tomorrow I turn twenty-seven! Or, technically, two days from now I turn twenty-seven since Japan is ahead of the States clock-wise and I was born in the States. Essentially, living in Japan gives you two birthdays for the age of one. …I’m jetlagged. I will continue making half-workable jokes and metaphors under this blanket of excuse.
Today was very long, so much so that it feels like three days happened over the course of one. Of course, that’s partially because I’ve only napped here and there over the actual last two days, flying from Europe back to Japan, and today I crashed for two hours because I was starting to hallucinate finished novels, so there’s that.
It was also a day I very deeply enjoyed. Traveling lets me comb out confusion and second thoughts, and now that I’m home, I know what my next few steps are in Life. I’ve reaffirmed what makes me happy and how to best motivate myself in my career.
I had sushi for the first time in weeks and that first bite of salmon was a spiritual moment of utter happy.
Even better, and maybe the best part of the whole day: this morning in Stockholm, I started reading the book up there in the photo – A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki – and now I’m halfway through it. The writer’s voice is loving and frank, my favorite combination of writer-y adjectives. I can’t handle too much frank.
For example, there’s this book out there in the world that begins with two babies left in coin lockers in Shinjuku Station. That thing miserable’d the hell out of me for hours and needless to say, I didn’t read all of it. The characters would have conversations like, “I don’t have butter,” “Ah,” followed by a paragraph describing the cigarette burns on the walls and a creepy guy living two floors up who owns a telescope aimed out the window and enjoys smelling the laundry he steals from the other tenants.
Books like that are powerful, and I understand the appeal. I prefer my books laced with love.
“A Tale for the Time Being” has heart in spades. It also manages to do two things I vehemently admire. The first: she opens the book in first person, using a technique I’ve seen before but I don’t…think has a name to describe it. It’s like a movie that starts with a wide focus of the Earth and then narrows down to someone’s wristwatch. But in literary form. I bought it without knowing anything else about the book, just based on how solid the opening is.
The second thing it does is this: it divides the POV between two characters, and I’m almost equally invested in both. The danger in giving your book two narrators is that you risk your readers losing interest whenever it jumps from one to the other. Instead, whenever the POV changes, I find myself 1) wanting to skip the next chapter to get back to Nao’s story, and 2) really, really curious about Ruth’s story because it left off on such a strong, curious note.
It’s been a while since I read a book that made me this excited to finish it, and that only reminds me how little I’ve been reading the past few years. I’m one of those people. Eugh. And I’ll probably relapse and go back to doing nothing but writing for several months at a time, but I’ll always come back to books. ♡
Aaaand now I have successfully made myself sleepy enough to pass out and with any luck I will wake up at a normal hour for JST.
GOOD NIGHT, CITIZENS OF SLEEP.