Monday, February 25, 2008

The Preface

Empty Suitcase:
Falling Love with Someone or Something

It was the busiest weekend ever. I attended local events such as a modern music and poetry reading at the greenhouse across from IUSB with hundreds of lit candles and another music event in a romantic bar in downtown South Bend. I realized how many artists are hiding and waiting for showing their fascination at those events!

I shook hands, hugged, and had greeting kisses with the artists but in the end of the weekend, I hardly remembered who played the drum or saxophone, who said the most powerful phrase, or who in the audience supported all those artists. I just remembered my writer’s heart beating like the first love—feeling the passion of the artists— I wanted to know more about them and their creations.

I would say that I easily fall in love with someone; perhaps, I exclusively obsess with something between kookiness and beauty. I believe that not only those events represent creativity but also art from everyday life— somebody’s nails painted yellow with glittering green polka dots, a perfect free throw in a basketball game, a bartender wiping a glass, tapping a pencil...maybe all those moments are not really considered as a matter of art, but whenever I find the moments with my measurement of kookiness and beauty, I want to obsess over them, like keeping them bottled up in a glass jar just for myself.
But I am recently dating poems—exploring words and putting them into my word collection— they always give me the beautiful moments before midnight and they do not betray a promise after midnight in bed. It is the most luxurious instant when I feel the art. But suddenly, I realized that I am forgetting how to fall in love with something…no…someone, the real person.

I scream what is wrong with me, a young woman, talking about her own strange theory of art without having dates with real people after such a long time!

This weekend, when I hugged the pianist after his performance, I smelled his cologne, sweet and a little bit bitter of cigarettes. The smell reminded me of the last flavor of a kiss sometime ago. I had an urge for meeting the man but I would not knock at his apartment, where I had not visited since the summer. The moment of hugging with the pianist flashbacked my memory – the way of the man’s washing dishes and the blue cups—the art from everyday life.

Maybe because the pianist played the most nostalgic harmony, the candles, and his cologne, even all my friends went to knock at their beloved doors at two o’clock in the morning on the weekend after the events. So I kind of wished to smell the pianist’s cologne again.

After his encore, I had an excuse to shake his hand and hug him. Abruptly I felt that the hug was a farewell to the memory of the man—no affection to the pianist nor clinging feeling toward the man— but the matter of the art from everyday life. I fell in love with the moment of washing the blue cups in the kitchen; that is all.


***
Pictures: www.matiko.us.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Preface


Empty Suitcase
Twizzleristic Experiment

For the very first time in my life, I had a Twizzler— bright red as an oil painting paste and flexible, plastic, chewy, eatable substance—I could even make bows with it. It looks not like food but it is one of the most famous snacks in American society. In one of my English classes, a student brought a pound of Twizzlers—heavy and sticky like a giant red eraser, I thought from a distance—everyone was surprised at me who had never had a Twizzler. Even the professor said, “You’re kidding!” As an excuse, I am an international student from across the Pacific Ocean.

I tasted it. I was not sure what it is made of; obviously not natural flavors as tofu cookies but it was fantastically delicious.

On that day, the Twizzler opened up for me a new creative world—I admitted that I could not concentrate the rest of class—the feeling was similar when I learned how to do Origami in kindergarten. The simple ways of eating are twisting, stretching, tying, waving, tapping, and rolling. When I mastered the simple ways of eating them in class, I could create some objects combining a couple of Twizzlers. I could not experiment with creations during the class in front of the professor, so that night, I went to a 24-hour drugstore and bought a bag of Twizzlers.

I purchased only red Twizzlers—later that week, I would notice that there were other colors (black and rainbow) and any sizes are available and they are tasty; perhaps, addiction of the American freedom taste. If I bring the candy to my Japanese home, my mother will treat it as something horribly unhealthy, like cancer cells. Chewing a pound of Twizzlers, I cheered for the freedom to taste any interesting things in America.

Then I tried to make Twizzleristic glasses, a Twizzleristic man, and many undefined Twizzleristic creations. The problem was how flexible Twizzlers are, so I needed to cut it with the right angle, and then I could connect them like a puzzle game. I would say that making something from Twizzlers without glue is similar to building a box without nails.

I needed to have different colors for expanding my Twizzler creations, so I went back to the store sometime that weekend. It was the coldest night and it was so hard to open my car doors. Consequently, I bought the black Twizzlers and a can of deicer.

While I was waiting a little bit for my car to warm up outside of the store after purchasing the black Twizzlers, snowflakes suddenly fell. They were like pieces of love letters, which I burned last fall— some ashes and edges of the letters— I was thinking about a broken heart and how I enjoyed living the single life—Twizzlers on Friday nights— then the ash-like snowflakes completely covered my front windshield. I only could see the reflection of the red traffic light.

I turned on the wipers when I thought that my car was warm enough. The wipers did not move on the front window for a moment, and then only the plastic parts started moving. The rubber blades remained at the bottom of the window. They were completely frozen and stuck to it.

How much I wished that I could replace the rubber blades with my black Twizzlers!

That night, I learned how to replace the wipers and what kind of car I drove. Every time people asked me what my car is I answered “I drive a silver car.” Now I understand why they looked at me with weird faces. My car is identified by an actual make and model as simple as Twizzlers are actually food in this society.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Preface


Empty Suitcase: February Flu

I had been horribly sick last week—Everyone is getting this!—Horribly sick is defined as high fever, some joint pain, nonstop coughing and sneezing for 48 hours, and I could not drive to buy rum raisin ice-cream from the store because of dizziness. Some of my friends said that I had Bird Flu. I am from Asia…it does not mean I have one.


With a runny nose and high temperature, I suddenly wanted to eat ice cream and crunchy cereal with strawberry frost. It was two o’clock in the morning. I had been dizzy. I groveled to the kitchen like Spiderman. I really understood how Spiderman uses his finger muscles. I was exhausted in front of the refrigerator. But it was completely empty as usual even though I traveled downstairs from my bed. Every time I opened the refrigerator, nothing changed. Tofu and some oranges were beautifully lined up but no other food.


I decided to call my friends to pick up ice cream and cereal. I am not big fun of eating cereal in the morning because it is too crunchy for breakfast. I am not ready for hearing crunching in my head and drinking too cold milk from a bowl in the morning. I like having warm oatmeal but at night, but I needed the crunch in my head with cold milk. I knew that eating cereal was the cure for me.


My friends always told me whenever I need them, they would be there for me. So I decided to call them at three o’clock in the morning. It took one hour to get from my bed to the kitchen crawling like Spiderman.


Then I realized that my cellular phone had been missing. Last time I found it in the egg carton in the refrigerator and it had the tragedy of freezing to death. So I bought a new cellular phone last fall but my new phone had gone missing a couple of times. I found it in a bag of rice, washing machine, and a mail box. My cellular phone seemed to love hiding unusual places. But it had been missing for one week, so the battery was probably dead; no hope for hearing ringing. So I could not call my friends, asking for ice cream and cereal.


I dreamed about swimming in a bowl of milk with Disney’s Winnie the Pooh and my spoon was longer than the Great Wall of China. By the way, I do not like Disney’s Winnie the Pooh—harmless, lovely friends in the woods— I just have a strong rejection for them but I like the idea of stories and characters. That night, I even could hear Winnie the Pooh’s voice in my head. I had a stomachache then I woke up in the morning on the kitchen floor holding a spoon and empty bowl. I usually do not feel sorry for myself, whatever the situations, but at six o’clock in the morning still coughing and having fever with an empty bowl—my tears almost fell fast.


But good news of lying down on the kitchen floor, I found an old chocolate and heard my cellular phone under the refrigerator stuck on the mouse trap. Fortunately, the phone was still ringing on the trap. It was a call from my mother. She said, “Happy Birthday!” and added, “Don’t kill anybody. Stay safe. Be moral.”


My grandmother wished me birthday and said, “Fall in love with someone from the Earth.” My father said, “Can you find one in the Earth?” When I hung up the storm-like phone call from Japan, I realized that my birthday was a week later from the day. Removing the stickiness on my phone, I thought about my becoming one year older this early spring, February.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Preface


Empty Suitcase: Wanted: a Locker Room

For this February, I decided to be a girl who looks beautiful with rose petals because maybe I am ready for another broken heart from an early spring crush. So I changed my pajamas. I used to wear a blue shirt, a yellow track suit, a bright orange Indiana University fleece hoodie, and green socks with little frogs—how romantic!—when I went to bed. After midnight, if I were the sleeping beauty, the prince charming would say, “I only see a dwarf. Where is the beauty?”


Becoming one of the rosy girls, I needed to throw away all of my old pajamas, socks, shirts, etc. Only fine lacy clothes are allowed for those girls and they smell like carnations, not like domestic laundry detergent. I do not wear any perfume because it is very hard to find one from millions of them. In addition, I may not be ready for smelling the same perfume to use up the entire bottle.


All I needed was the nightgown when I went shopping. I realized how incoherent my old pajamas were. They were not romantic or poetic—stretching around my neck and wrist, faded colors, no unity among the pajamas, socks, and bedspread. My sleeping wear was like a breakfast—greasy bacon, eggs, waffles, some vegetables crushed together on a small plate— it was domestic but far away from a romantic moment— sugar and warm milk in a small, blue china dish, some strawberries, and music from a string quartet. Yet, I am a student who has very tight budget. Even though I bought only one new pair of pajamas, I felt bungee jumping from my bank account.


Anyway, window shopping was never helpful for the bank account. Unsparingly, I wanted to get new shoes, skirts, sweaters, and accessories beyond the purchasing of a nightgown. So grasping my budget of monthly grocery shopping in my hand, a cheetah-like impulse dashed between my thoughts—starvation or fashion—in front of Banana Republic’s windows, a shoe shop in Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, and Coach. I even could hear the famous commercial, “living in the moment…priceless.”


Of course, it is priceless. I happily wear my favorite nightgown when I go to bed and presently walk with my new shoes on campus. I feel marvelous even carrying heavy science textbooks. But every morning when I open my refrigerator, I sigh. How am I going to survive with three potatoes, an onion, tofu, carrot juice, some rice, and four eggs for a month? I am ready to be a beautiful display in a canopy to wait for a prince who comes to kiss me in an isolated attic, my room. But when my prince comes to the attic, he may say, “Where is the beauty? I only see the mummy.”


Then, I realized another vital blow. The most problematic is snow, not being hungry. I cannot wear my shoes on the melting and muddy streets. The shoes will get dirty. With a tight budget, I cannot hire a pony to carry me to class on the snowflakey campus. There is no way except I change my shoes in the bathroom. I wear hateful-unromantic-snow boots to school and change into nice sparkling high heels in the bathroom—I thought it was a great idea at first— but I have to carry my cloudy boots into class…that is not romantic at all. And again I do not have any budget for hiring someone who carries my belongings.


Besides, if I have own dressing room in every building on campus…I noticed that on this campus, there are no free lockers for every student. If the occasion arises, I wish some movement would start for building a locker room for students. I cheer with a carnation for the activist and a sunny day for high heels.