Hi. I know I haven’t written much in the last two weeks. All the anticipation of the novel and furiously reading as much as I can, has left me pretty tired and mentally worn out.
BUT today is the official start of National Novel Writing Month, and it’s going pretty well actually. I’ve already penned 1761 words! Not all of them are great, but I’m just worried about getting everything down right now and worrying about editing later.
If you’d like to support my efforts, it’s not too late to donate to NaNoWriMo and fund me going to the NIght of Writing Dangerously. Just visit www.firstgiving.com/janyxu and contribute what you can. Thanks!
Without further ado, here’s a lot excerpt from what I have down:
I’m not sure if my earliest memory is real or a fabricated mix from stories my parents used to tell and latent memories of my childhood that coagulated into a single dream. I was about one and half, maybe two. My mom worked at the local watch factory in Hefei, Anhui- one of the poorer provinces of China but close to the mountains and great at making tea. She left early in the morning every day to ride the thirty odd minutes to go to work. I’m sure our neighborhood was colorful with bricks and green trees, not too far from where my father worked at the local hospital/university. But in my memory or dream, the scenery grayed out.
We lived on the first floor of a three story building (maybe it was two), and in Hefei that meant cold winters and wet summers. The humidity would always soak up on the concrete floors in the rooms. Enough that my mom would have to mope the floor of its wetness. At some point, I had a crib, but I remember sleeping on the bed with my parents. They’d put a chair next to my side, so that I wouldn’t accidentally roll of the bed during sleep. I tended to toss and turn a lot. Still do, in fact.
On that particular day, I felt myself waking up as my mom quietly gathered her things to prepare for work. I didn’t open my eyes, lest she figure out that I was awake. The muffled swishes of fabric let me know that she was getting dressed in the far corner of the room, so that she wouldn’t wake me up. She grabbed her keys from the dresser next to the door, tip-toed down the hallway and as silently as possible, opened and shut our squeaky door.
I was one and a half (maybe two) and thought she was leaving forever. As soon as that door shut, I was off the bed, running across the room and after her, already on the bike and pedaling away. In my dream I would keep running. She was half way to work, and I was quickly losing ground, but I couldn’t let her get away. She was my mommy. I loved her. Why was she leaving me? I couldn’t figure it out. Somewhere in my head, I knew I was in college, in the US and comfortable in my extra-long twin sized bed in my fashion magazine covered dorm. But that thought was far far away. All I could think about was my mother.
In the distant, I knew my father had woken up to my screaming and movement. He was running after me to keep me at home and let my mother leave. Finally, she parked her biked outside the rakes in a glass-windowed factory building and noticed my snot-covered, sobbing face. She reached out to hold me and told me that she had to go to work. I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t want to be with me. My parents exchanged worried looks before she handed me off to him. She went inside. I had lost.
My father was a grad student at the time (MD not PhD; he’d get that later in Germany), and though he worked long hours both taking classes and working, he slept in late, so it was his responsibility to take care of me, while my mom went off to work. I was an early riser. I’d wake up and immediately wanted to get up and start my day. But my dad wasn’t like that at all. He’d always drag me back into bed and hug and cuddle me, while I struggled to get away. Finally, I’d relent and let me just hold me, while I laid there wide-eyed and bored. After a while, I got used to it and would wake up and go back to sleep in his arms. I guess that’s where I get my habits today. I love spending the whole day in bed, chilling out and being totally relaxed. At any point, I could conveniently have a snack, watch TV, write, read or take a nap. Sure, it sounds slothful to many, but it’s also very convenient. And since I grew up a relatively clean person, my bed’s almost never made and always clean. The only things that adorn them are my duvet, two large pillows, my cell phone charger and cell phone and my laptop- a virtual mother that lulls me to sleep every night after episodes of The Boondocks or some mindless movie.
After I woke up, I couldn’t quite tell if I remembered the dream as a memory replayed or it was just a dream. I decided to confirm the story with my parents. The real version was almost eerily identical. I had woken up to find my mother leaving, had ran outside after her. She was, in fact, getting ready to ride her bike, but I didn’t by any means chase her to the factory. That didn’t make any sense, since I have no idea how a toddler could run far enough that she’d ride a bike for half an hour. That’s like three miles? Instead, she was riding off, when she heard a screaming toddler running after her- me. So she stopped, held and cooed me until I calmed down. She’d try to leave, but every time she let go, I’d start my ear drum piercing screaming again. Finally, she was already half an hour late, and had to go get my dad to hold me down as she rode away.
I swore to them that they’d never told me that story before. So how did I possibly know that it happened? Did my dream start innocently and some aspect of the memory sparked a dusty, unused nugget in my brain? Or was it totally coincidental? Maybe my parents did tell me that story, but I’d simply remembered the details and not them telling me. Whatever the rationale, it bothers me that during my second year of college, I was suddenly having this dream.
Of course, I didn’t want to grow up. As much as most of the students around me were planning their futures and taking heavy loads of finance or mechanical engineering, I was more interested in running the hell away and as fast as possible. Taxes? No thank you! Bills and getting married, living up to social expectations and living with the fact that most adults don’t have more than 10 very close friends? God no! I didn’t, and still don’t, understand why so many young adults race to erase the “young” prefix. I loved it. It meant that I had potential, but there was nothing having to do with living up to it. I didn’t have to prove anything because that was for the future. Right now, I’d just gotten into one of the best schools in the country, certainly the best business school and am comfortable enough with my environment that I just wanted to enjoy life. Not worry about this huge future looming overhead. The judgments of aptitude and worth, along with a worried expectedness.
That was probably what brought on the dream.
I’m in a very unique position, you see. I always tell people that if it hadn’t been for the Communist Revolution, that I wouldn’t exist. I know very little about my family history, but from what I did know, my mom’s side was fairly well-off and from a good sized, little town. Her great grandmother had been disgraced because her husband died, so she was subsequently sent back to her own family. It was a big no-no back in those days and deemed her a widow and lowered her family rank. But all in all, they had money, and from an influence of Chinese soap operas, a large courtyard and lots of decorated, octangular windows. On the contrary, my father’s family was largely from the farms. Many of my grandmother’s 7 other siblings still dwell in the little towns that dot the mountain range eight hours drive west of Hefei. The trek was retardedly slow and up dangerous, narrow mountain passes that almost meant my certain doom years after my parents met, married and had me. So theoretically, without the equalizing forces of Mao and reeducation in the country, my parents would have no chances of meeting. Actually, fate is fairly ironic. At the time, my mom worked in a watch factory and my dad was getting his MD. They basically switched social classes.
But I couldn’t, at the time, confirm or deny the story. It’s just what made logical sense in my head. I’ve moved around enough at a very young age, that I could probably make up any type of bullshit that I wanted to. The kids from the sheltered German school have no idea what life was like in China. Neither did the elementary school students from the very Texan public school called Mark Twain. In fact, with them, I would talk in German or Chinese and confuse the fuck out of them. I didn’t. I was a good child. But I could.
In high school, I realized exactly how nerdy I was. Before then, I was blissfully happy, if not ignorant, and didn’t care. So what if I didn’t know who MC Hammer or Moesha was? I had Mozart and Beethoven. Liszt throwing a glove at Beethoven and their subsequent feud. Did Moesha have that?
Yeah. NERD. Like not Pharrell N-E-R-D. But NNNNEEEEERRRRRDDDDDDDD…DDDAAAAHHHH….
Then, I moved to Philadelphia for college, where no one really knew me. (Thank God… err if I believed in you). I didn’t have to be nerd. Among nerds, and the errant rich kid who went to Penn instead of snobby Puck Frinceton or Harvard… or Yale, I could be anyone. That excited me.
Until sophomore year. When I didn’t want to grow up. And didn’t understand who I was. And didn’t want to grow up.
Of course, I did have to. Grow up that is. And I’m on the West Coast and non-the-smarter, but I’m a good bullshitter. Always have been, which is why I got into Penn. Which is why I never spent more than an hour on homework. Which is why I didn’t do so well at Penn. I got what I wanted out of the experience, and I’m happy.
From where you’re sitting, I’m a sarcastic, somewhat schizophrenic nerd, who just confessed to bullshit everything and enjoy lying. And you’re only on page three. Hah! Buckle your fucking seat belt.