Sunday, January 31, 2010


I love-love-loved Haruki Murakami's Wind-up Bird Chronicle, but I'm hard put to tell you why, beyond that it was so completely the right book at the right time.

Reading this on vacation yielded an additional dimension of pleasure: I had my own foreign, unspottable, strange-calling "wind-up" bird to provide a live soundtrack, winding up the spring of my reality on the beach. There's something extra unpleasant (in a good way) in reading about someone being skinned alive while mass tracts of my own skin are already falling away from my body and the sun continues to sear into my flesh. Time moves differently when you're in the sun by the sea, and you can lose yourself for hours at a time in your book — existence takes on a dreamlike quality, completely liberated from schedules, commitments, the ordinary; you move in a sun-drenched, alcohol-quenched haze. All this conspired to enhance The Wind-up Bird Chronicle in immeasurable ways.

What's it about? Well, it starts off with this guy, Toru Okada, looking for his cat, but before long, his wife is missing too. He doesn't spend his days actively looking for her (them) so much as he tries to grok what's happening, to come to terms with that slice of reality in which she (they) might've gone.

Then there are the women: the mysterious caller whose motives are unclear, though phone sex is one of her tactics; the Kano sisters, psychic consultants; a professional "healer"; and the teenage girl who lives a couple houses down (arguably the best developed character of the lot of them and the most instrumental to the narrator's awakening, quite possibly because she's the only one who's a real person, but maybe not).

In my books and stories, women are mediums, in a sense; the function of the medium is to make something happen through herself. It's a kind of system to be experienced. The protagonist is always led somewhere by the medium and the visions that he sees are shown to him by her. [...] I think sex is an act of . . . a kind of soul-commitment. If the sex is good, your injury will be healed, your imagination will be invigorated. It's a kind of passage to the upper area, to the better place. In that sense, in my stories, women are mediums — harbingers of the coming world.

— Haruki Murakami, The Paris Review Interviews, IV.

But women are not the only mediums in this book. There is a another psychic, an acquaintance, whose dying wishes include that a package be delivered to Toru Okada. And the war veteran who delivers the empty parcel, with his tales of Manchuria and Russians and Mongols, turns out to be more of a message in himself than he is a mere messenger.

There is not a lot of character development in this novel. They come as they are, and leave before you know it. They seem to exist only to provide Toru Okada with some reflective capacity by which to negotiate the reality of his own mind (whether it lies in a dream or somewhere else entirely), which seems to be a bit out of sync with that of his body.

Now I was enveloped by a darkness that was total. No amount of straining helped my eyes to see a thing. I couldn't tell where my own hand was. I felt along the wall to where the ladder hung and gave it a tug. It was still firmly anchored at the surface. The movement of my hand seemed to cause the darkness itself to shift, but that could have been an illusion.

It felt extremely strange not to be able to see my own body with my own eyes, though I knew it must be there. Staying very still in the darkness, I became less and less convinced of the fact that I actually existed. To cope with that, I would clear my throat now and then, or run my hand over my face. That way, my ears could check on the existence of my voice, my hand could check on the existence of my face, and my face could check on the existence of my hand.

Despite these efforts, my body began to lose its density and weight, like sand gradually being washed way by flowing water. I felt as if a fierce and wordless tug-of-war were going on inside me, a contest in which my mind was slowly dragging my body into its own territory. The darkness was disrupting the proper balance between the two. The thought struck me that my own body was a mere provisional husk that had been prepared for my mind by a rearrangement of the signs known as chromosomes. If the signs were rearranged yet again, I would find myself inside a wholly different body than before. "Prostitute of the mind," Creta Kano had called herself. I no longer had any trouble accepting the phrase. Yes, it was possible for us to couple in our minds and for me to come in reality. In truly deep darkness, all kinds of strange things were possible.

I shook my head and struggled to bring my mind back inside my body.

In the darkness, I pressed the fingertips of one hand against the fingertips of the other — thumb against thumb, index finger against index finger. My right-hand fingers ascertained the existence of my left-hand fingers, and the fingers of my left hand ascertained the existence of the fingers of my right hand. Then I took several slow, deep breaths. OK, then, enough of this thinking about the mind. Think about reality. Think about the real world. The body's world. That's why I'm here. To think about reality. The best way to think about reality, I had decided, was to get as far away from it as possible — a place like the bottom of a well, for example. "When you're supposed to go down, find the deepest well and go down to the bottom," Mr Honda had said. Leaning against the wall, I slowly sucked the moldy air into my lungs.

Murakami's prose is nothing special, not lyrical and poetic, nothing to swoon over. At times, particularly when physical descriptions and character backstory were being supplied, the language seemed decidedly unsophisticated. Murakami is no stylist, but the text is straightforward, and this may be a blessing in the conveyance of such surreal goings-on.

There is no clear delineation between dream and real life; they bleed into each other. The whole novel is imbued with that pleasant sort of confusion you feel when actual morning noises infiltrate the dream you're waking from. It hints at altered states of consciouness, alternate states of reality, but without overtly making a case for any such thing. It just is what it is, without always making sense.

Murakami excels at mood. And I can't put my finger on what that mood is. It makes me feel young. It reminds me of university days. Of staying up late and confessing secrets and dreams. When I was invulnerable, and more vulnerable than ever. When the meaning of life and of death and the essence of cool were palpable and coded into my circle of friends, that bottle of booze, and those song lyrics. When we actually talked, sometimes obsessively and usually genuinely, about the meaning of life. Not that the characters actually do this; they touch on this kind of behaviour in only the mildest way. My wise adult self wants to call Murakami out for relying on cheap supernatural thrills and being juvenile in his treatment of serious themes, even while I'm unable to identify any consistent themes (denying death, maybe; the power of mind over body?), yet The Chronicle speaks to some inner me, joyfully and forcefully.

(Some parts in their eeriness remind me of Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves, but nowhere near as creepy.)

I'd recommend this book to almost anyone who doesn't mind if things aren't all tied up and neatly explained. (Because, frankly, I don't know what the hell really happened.) It's more than 600 pages, but it is a compelling and easy read. I've read only one other novel (After Dark) by Murakami, and a couple short stories, but I'd encourage you to jump right into The Chronicle, for it is very cool and weird.

I will be searching out more Murakami later this year.

New York Times review.

The Zoo Attack
Another Way to Die

Friday, January 29, 2010


We return rested, warmed and sun-kissed.

I was surprised to discover that my two main choices in reading material shared the exact same colour scheme, featuring blue sky and fluffy white clouds somewhere around their middle, and both coordinated rather nicely with my bathing suit.

Spotted on the beach and around the pool: books by Barack Obama, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Marc Lévy (this last both in French and in German), and a few novels bearing that distinctive style of cover art that could signify nothing other than chick lit. The maid would gather literature left behind by guests and leave them by the elevator. I recognized only Fred Vargas (in German translation) among those authors.

I read all of The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami, and loved every bit of it. Thank goodness my bookmark serves also as a a calendar so I could mark off the days and was not completely lost in time. I will tell you more about this later. (I considered leaving the Murakami book behind so other guests could enjoy it, but I'm pretty sure I'll be wanting to revisit portions of this book in the years to come.)

I started The Invention of Morel, and after loving page 1, for some reason I thought I really should read the introduction, as well as Jorge Luis Borges' prologue. I'm not sure why I did, because I have indeed learned that this is often a bad idea, as learnèd introductions often contain spoilers, and no matter how erudite they be I'd rather save the expert insight for until after I've had opportunity to make up my own mind, thank you very much. The intro in this case didn't spoil the book, but it did somehow spoil the mood.

So I turned to Ian McEwan's Atonement. I'm not finished yet, but I expect I will be before I get out of bed in the morning. It's not at all what I expected! I don't know why I anticipated something epic, but the first half of the book covers the events of a single household over the course of only a single day. There's no going back now, but I'm not sure I started this book in the proper mindset. It has, however, helped instill and maintain a certain kind of stillness since our return.

Monday, January 18, 2010

By degrees

It was -8°C in Montreal yesterday, with a windchill factor making it feel like -16°C. Today was bone-chillingly damp. In Varadero tomorrow, it should be 28°C, or 36°C with the humidity.

So I'm heading to the Tropicana, where there's a mojito with my name on it. Hasta luego!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Corruption anticipated

Hans gets an x-ray!

And Hans Castorp saw exactly what he should have expected to see, but which no man was ever intended to see and which he himself had never presumed he would be able to see: he saw his own grave. Under that light, he saw the process of corruption anticipated, saw the flesh in which he moved decomposed, expunged, dissolved into airy nothingness — and inside was the delicately turned skeleton of his right hand and around the last joint of the ring finger, dangling black and loose, the signet ring his grandfather had bequeathed him: a hard thing, this ore with which man adorns a body predestined to melt away beneath it, so that it can be free again and move on to yet other flesh that may bear it for a while. With the eyes of his Tienappel forebear — penetrating, clairvoyant eyes — he beheld a familiar part of his body, and for the first time in his life he understood that he would die. And he made the same face he usually made when listening to music — a rather dull, sleepy, and devout face, his head tilted toward one shoulder, his mouth half-open.

The director said, "Spooky, isn't it? Yes, there's no mistaking that whiff of spookiness."

— from page 260 of The Magic Mountain, by Thomas Mann.

Is it just me, or is "spooky" a funny word? It's just a bit unexpected, with a lightness of touch, just when it's getting all morbid; it stops you from taking it too seriously. This is the sort of thing that contributes to my sense that the Mountain is a funny book. Not exactly laugh-out-loud funny, but somehow joyous, gently mocking — of its characters, their conventions, and society as a whole.

I mean, "Spooky"! Not "eerie" or "frightening," not "ghostly" or phantasmal," not "weird" or "creepy." Spooooky.

I do not read German, nor do I intend to read a different translation of the Mountain for comparison's sake. I'm reading the translation by John E Woods, from Everyman's Library. Perhaps it's the jacket blurbs — "Woods captures perfectly the irony and humor" — that prejudiced me to read this book in this mood, to invest it with levity, defy the gravity of it. I very clearly hear Mann's tongue in his cheek.

I'm at page 315 this morning. Highlights of the narrative to this point include Herr Settembrini's humanist views, that as much as he most admires the mind, the body is a force to be reckoned with, with the aside that "absurdity is an intellectually honorable position"; and the encounter with Director Behrens and the review of the paintings he daubs in his spare time, with a discussion of how a physician's view of the body informs his art.

A most enjoyable read.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Oh no! Hans bought a thermometer! Pretty much just a page after where I'd last left off. Not much secret what the rest of the book will be about then.

Hans felt like he was come down with a touch of a cold. It's like he wants to dismiss it, but he wants sympathy too, from all these people who are by far more severely ill than he. Maybe if he had a fever, he could justifiably say he was sick. But he buys a thermometer! The fool! The last ritual, which he'd resisted. He'd mocked the residents for taking their temperature 5 times a day. This resistance was his last thread to the normal life of the flatlanders below.

He has a body temperature of 99.7. And an eventual examination tells us... he's sick!

He is sentenced to 3 weeks of bed rest.

I must say, it's a neat trick of Mann's treating time within the narrative in a manner that reinforces the discourses on the nature of time, stretching and compressing...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

An abnormal compression of time

Ultimately, there is something odd about settling in somewhere new — about the perhaps laborious process of getting used to new surroundings and fitting in, a task we undertake almost for its own sake and with the definite intention of abandoning the place again as soon as is it is accomplished, or shortly thereafter, and returning to our previous state. We insert that sort of thing into the mainstream of our lives as a kind of interruption or interlude, for the purpose of "recreation," which is to say: a refreshing, revitalizing exercise of the organism, because it was in immediate danger of overindulging itself in the uninterrupted monotony of daily life, of languishing and growing indifferent. [...] What people call boredom is actually an abnormal compression of time caused by monotony — uninterrupted uniformity can shrink large spaces of time until the heart falters, terrified to death. When one day is like every other, then all days are like one, and perfect homogeneity would make the longest life seem very short, as if it had flown by in a twinkling. Habit arises when our sense of time falls asleep, or at least, grows dull; and if the years of youth are experienced slowly, while the later years of life hurtle past at an ever-increasing speed, it must be habit that causes it. We know full well that the insertion of new habits or the changing of old ones is the only way to preserve life, to renew our sense of time, to rejuvenate, intensify, and retard our experience of time — and thereby renew our sense of life itself. That is the reason for every change of scenery and air, for a trip to the shore: the experience of a variety of refreshing episodes.

— from The Magic Mountain, by Thomas Mann.

One must remember that our hero is merely vacationing at the sanatorium. In all superficial respects he is fully integrated into the routine of the place — the meals, the rest cures (Hans is now expert at blanket tucking), the concerts, the lectures (and, by the way, he's still reading a paperbound book entitled Ocean Steamships), but some portion of his brain niggles at him, reminding him that he is to leave soon, which reminder comes mostly as a relief but seems also to be felt occasionally as a regret.

Hans seizes his last week to enjoy a flirtation with the door-slamming, sweater-wearing Madame Chauchat (who reminds him of a boy he knew at school). Presumably he feels the pressure of time running out and he would regret not taking some action, but the limits on his scheduled time here give him the excuse of indulging without responsibility, without long-term consequence, and with little embarrassment or guilt. What the hell, he's on vacation!

I'm nearing the end of chapter 4, at around page 200 of 854. Hans is anticipating leaving the mountain. What, then, could the rest of the book be about?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

All inclusive

I need a vacation.

Sure I had a Christmas break, but 7 days in a small house with family members I see only a few times a year ends up being more exhausting than relaxing. (Let us not relive the 7-hour journey by car in the rain with the cat, or the return journey by train with just the child, who after days, weeks, of anticipation of our rail adventure could muster only expressions of tired and cranky. Let us not dwell on our mother taking to bed for a few days. Too much time cooking and cleaning, not enough time just being.)

In about 10 days' time, I expect to wake up to the sound of the ocean, with the only obligations facing me for the ensuing 7 days being to drink a mojito or two while sitting on a Cuban beach, exchange a word and a kiss with my lover, and maybe do some reading.

It's the first time I take a vacation of this sort — it's not "travelling" around the country, no high-intensity museum visits; it's not puttering about the cottage; it's not hanging out with family and friends. It's an all-inclusive beach resort vacation.

I expect to sleep, read, sleep, swim, eat, drink, read, swim, sleep some more, drink some more. I've agreed to do everything in my power to make it happen such that we see a baseball game.

It's the reading that worries me.

How many books is enough? Other vacations have never presented this problem. They were designed for doing other things. Books were for planes, trains, bedtime. But this vacation — it's almost meant for reading.

The following books were picked up in November, intended to get me through the midwinter deep freeze, before I'd decided to go south:

The Wind-up Bird Chronicles, Haruki Murakami, trade paperback, 624 pages.
The Invention of Morel, Adolfo Bioy Casares, trade paperback, 103 pages.
Memories of the Future, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, trade paperback, 256 pages.
Atonement, Ian McEwan, mass market paperback, 496 pages.

J-F has promised to bring in his luggage the copy of The Old Man and the Sea I got him for Christmas. This book has the most Cuban flavour of the lot.

Is that ridiculously too much? If so, which books do I cut? Is it enough? Do I bring more? Should I be deciding by page count? Am I right to be leaving The Magic Mountain behind (I'm only about a quarter of the way in) because I think it's too heavy (physically, I mean, as a hardcover). Is it better to have lots of little books or a couple big books?

Should I be bringing Chess Story (Stefan Zweig), or Sunflower (Gyula Krúdy)? How come The Girl Who Played with Fire isn't out in paperback yet? Is there something quintessentially Cuban I ought to be reading? Has anyone read The Halfway House, by Guillermo Rosales?

What if I run out of reading material? Can I get books in English (or French, or Polish will do in a pinch) in Cuba?

How do other people manage this stress?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Most uncold

"It all seems rather cold."

"Cold?" For once von Abt appeared lost for words. "Cold! All my work, all my art is based on this." He took a pencil from an inner pocket and leaned forward to draw a line as sharp as a razor cut on the nearest sheet of paper. "This is the first work of art: the woman who lies down." He looked from Viktor to Liesel, holding her gaze for moment longer than seemed polite. Then he went back to the sheet of paper and drew another line, a vertical cutting at right angles through the horizontal. "And this. This is the man who penetrates her. The result is the rectangular cross that underpins all my art. What could be warmer than that?"

Liesel took a cigarette and lit it, hoping it would distract her from von Abt's look, hoping she would not blush beneath his gaze. "Yes, Herr von Abt seems a most uncold person. Don't you agree, Viktor?"

The art in question is architecture. And Rainer von Abt is to design the titular space of Simon Mawer's novel, The Glass Room, for Liesel and Viktor, German Czechs, Viktor being Jewish by heritage but neither of them religious, a thorougly modern couple, free thinkers. Their children, Viktor later explains, are to be raised to be citizens of the world. They are throwing off the past, but life in 1930s Czechoslovakia presents other burdens. The house serves as a stage.

This novel was shortlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize, so I'd heard a little bit about it in that context. (Interview with Mawer. Audio excerpt.)

I tend to shy away from feel-good overcoming-the-adversity-of-wartime stories, and stories about Nazis, both novels and films, because: 1. They're depressing, and the feel-good pay-off isn't big enough, or if it is, than the story must be unrealistic and contrived. 2. They tend toward sentimentalism, often fomulaically manipulating your heartstrings. 3. They've got nothing on reality, when I think of all my own parents and their families have been through. Tragedy abounds; it takes a special story indeed to declare itself uncommon and elicit any sympathy from me.

Anyway, the idea of this thoroughly modern house figuring as a central character won me over and I accepted a review copy. I'm very, very glad I didn't let this book pass me by.

John Self remarked that "as an account of Jewish suffering in Europe under the Nazis, it seemed particularly weak." I don't think it was Mawer's intent to supply one, and thank goodness for that, I say, as that story's already been told a million times. This novel is about a different kind of suffering, I think; the way your domestic life suffers when there's a war going on on your doorstep, the way your idea of the future suffers, and of the past. It also offers a spare but real glimpse of stressed relations between Jews and non-Jews in the context of marital strain from a gap in understanding.

I took The Glass Room away with me on my Christmas break, not really expecting to get much reading done, but it turned out to be so compelling, I turned to it as often as I could for a moment's peace away from family and general seasonal ado. It was terrific company, once the kid finally fell asleep, on the 6-hour train ride home.

At the house-warming party, Viktor quotes from André Breton's new novel, Nadja:

I shall live in my glass house where you can always see who comes to call, where everything hanging from the ceiling and on the walls stays where it is as if by magic, where I sleep nights in a glass bed, under glass sheets, where the words who I am will sooner or later appear etched by a diamond.

So, you know, love, life, another woman, another woman, blah, blah, blah, but then here's this house that's all about openness, there's all this light and space, as if their lives will be plain to everyone, yet somehow, and this is the magic of its design, it supplies private niches. The house's residents, open to inspection, become more secretive. Where the house has no walls, people build figurative ones.

Somehow, while "the whole essence of the Glass Room is reason," messy, emotional humanity seeps in. Deception in the Glass Room is a new experience for Viktor, who once thought we should all live in glass houses. Hana called him a spoilsport for it: "Everyone loves deceit. Without deceit there would be no art."

I think that's a lot of what this book is about: Pretending toward an ideal, whether it be in art, architecture, politics, or daily life. The incompatability of the ideal with the actual. The gap between function and form.

The Landauer family flees as Nazi troops enter, to Switezerland, then further west.

Over time, the house is space made manifest, beauty made manifest, and hatred made manifest. A house, a work of art, a purity of form. (Maybe it needs — or we need — some level of deceit to function properly?)

Can a building be pure in a way a human being can't? I mean (this is me thinking out loud), how is purity of form/function different from purity of race? Does this building in some way remain pure? No, its purpose is continually distorted. It's as degenerate as most of us humans.

As we are often reminded, it just is. It's just a backdrop, or a stage, for humanity. Can the same be said for humans? We just are? We are just vessels for a bigger (inter)play of larger forces?

The Glass Room is the story of the house, but once the Landauers leave, the house loses something of its heart, even while something of the Landauers remains in it. (I should say "of Liesel" — I believe it was her house more than anybody's, built for her, an extension of her — it's she who, like the house, is open yet betrayed.) The house is a Nazi-run Biometric Centre, a laboratory, humans under examination. Then the Russians move in. Later it is an annex of the state-run children's hospital.

All the house's stories of its later years pale in comparison to its Landauer years of hope. The love triangle involving the physiotherapist, the doctor, and the journalist was a little predictably contrived to parallel the Landauers' situation, and I don't think you should be allowed to write a Czech doctor named Tomáš after The Unbearable Lightness of Being. But the story moves quickly through the house's twilight, sparing us the details.

Ultimately, the city takes ownership and restores the heritage building. Open to the public. Humans are not restored so readily.

A note on the language
The language is gorgeous. There are some striking images:

The view of "the cathedral with its hunched shoulders and its black spires exactly, Rainer said, like hypodermic needles."

"It was as though they stood within a crystal of salt."

"Her legs too are sheathed in black, as slick and lucid as oil."

Poetry. Every breath of it is loaded with erotic potential. I can't put my finger on how Mawer does this. A few faintly sexy images are repeated. Twice the mouth as arabesque — first Liesel's, than Kata's. Twice the sound of the slop of water like lapping cats. (Kata the cat.) Twice the reminder of the sadness that comes after coitus.

The narrative shifts between past and present tense. I couldn't quite figure out the logic for the shifts, but the alternation confronts you with a stark immediacy, then bathes the scene in a romantic haze. An adjustment of the lens.

A note on the house
The author notes that the house and its setting are not fictional, though they have been somewhat disguised. A little Internet research reveals that it was based on Villa Tugendhat, in Brno. (Although, until moments ago, I had little doubt that it was the Müller Villa. I'd felt a glimmer of recognition, something I might've seen in my meanderings through Prague.)

The house should be like by all. Unlike a work of art, which does not require anyone to like it. The work of art is the private affair of the artist. The house is not. The work of art is sent out into the world, without anyone needing it. The house fulfils certain requirements. The work of art is not answerable to anyone, the house to everyone. A work of art seeks to draw people out of their comfort. The house should serve comfort. The work of art is revolutionary, the house conservative. The work of art shows humanity new paths and thinks of the future; the house thinks of the present. Man loves everything that serves his comfort. He hates all that seeks to draw him from his customary and secure state, and all that constricts him. And thus I love the house and hate art.

Adolf Loos, Architektura ("Architecture"), 1910.

Mawer assigns the house a fictional architect, though Loos is referred to throughout the novel, and its design clearly followed Loos' edict that ornament is crime. The architect of Villa Tugendhat was Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

Photo essay.

A note on the packaging
I love French flaps. And I love the cover art for the hardcover. But they don't come together. The black-and-white (or is it faintly sepia-tone?) photo on my trade paperback evokes a vague sense of the era but in this way it is indistinct from conventional overcoming-the-adversity-of-wartime stories and does the novel a disservice (that is, while it may prove successful from a marketing perspective, I think it serves a lie).

The artwork on the hardcover dust jacket, a futuristic portrait — hell, it looks like a man encased in a glass room! — is much truer to the spirit of the book. As the paperback stands, I wouldn't give it the time it deserves if I were browsing in a bookstore. But your mileage may vary.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010


I think I bought the wrong calendar. I mean, it's 2010, so it'll work, but I put it up on the wall before going to bed last night, and this morning, walking into the kitchen and glancing over, it just didn't feel right.

The calendar purchase is a serious matter. We're talking about a $10 investment that you hang on your wall in a high-traffic area and you have to live with it, for a whole year.

(Yes, it has to be in the high-traffic area. The designated calendar spot, across from the kitchen. So I know what day it is. Really.)

I usually wait until the year has actually started (1995 was a notable exception), not only because calendars are by this time generally greatly reduced in price, but to give the year a few days, to get a feel for it, for its potential, for how it all might pan out.

(For a few years, my father-in-law bought us all calendars at Christmas. Even while I think the calendar choice is an intensely personal one, I didn't mind too much, I guess because I always really needed one. But I did think it was a bit weird, particularly once we were a family of three. How many calendars does a family need? Hang them in the bathroom? There's always the office, but that's a space whose calendar must meet stringent requirements.)

So yesterday at lunch I went on a calendar hunt. I seriously considered one, but discarded it — it would've put too much pressure on the year, bathing it in a flavour that rightfully belonged only to January. And I bought something else. The pictures are nice enough, suitable to the space, and all the days are there, but I don't think I connect with it. And now I have to live with it for a whole year.

Maybe that's alright. Maybe it'll keep me on my toes. Maybe it's the poke in the eye I need to remind me to look at things fresh. To remind me what day it really is.