Murakami, Twain, and Libraries

Mark Twain Branch, Detroit Public Library from

The past haunts me.  My past haunts me.  The past haunts me.  It sometimes feels as if I’m being pulled back through time.  It’s a sucking sensation.  Physical and psychological.

Today, a friend shared an image similar to the one below, of the Mark Twain Branch of the the Detroit Public library .  It captured my interest for so many reasons.  The past.  Loss.  Forgetfulness.  The care of society as a whole. The love of books.  We need libraries.  I feel safe in libraries.  I love that there is so much saved there.  All of the teachers and parents that I didn’t have, they all live there, in their words.  On pages that smell like mildew and nutmeg.

According to, “The contract to demolish Mark Twain library was awarded to Adamo Demolition in July of 2011 for just under $200,000. It did not include any provision for salvage of books or materials. Asbestos abatement began in September, and the building was gutted within a few weeks. Structural demolition of the building lasted into October. After work was finished and the demolition crew had left for the day, scavengers would pick through the piles of debris for bits of metal pipe and wiring. Curious onlookers would sneak under the fence to gaze at what was left of the building, or to take a brick for a souvenir.”

Why did the onlookers take bricks?  I imagined Huck Finn happening upon this library in his travels, what would have happened?  Would he have stolen a brick?  Would some crazy character have chased him, throwing abandoned books toward his already wounded backside?  What pithy revelation would Mark Twain come up with in response to this?

I am currently reading Haruki Murakami’s The Wind Up Bird Chronicle.  I wondered what Murakami thought of libraries?  Thanks to GoodReads I found:

“When I open them, most of the books have the smell of an earlier time leaking out between the pages – a special odor of the knowledge and emotions that for ages have been calmly resting between the covers. Breathing it in, I glance through a few pages before returning each book to its shelf.”

― Haruki MurakamiKafka on the Shore

And I thought of the quote that I’d recently read that gave me hope for letting go of my past:

“…and then she said, ‘All the things you have been through […] have been painful and bitter for you, but as you say, you have been moving toward the proper state, step by step.  The worst is over for you, and it will never come back.  Such things will never happen to you again.  It will not be easy, but you will be able to forget many things once a certain amount of time has passed.'” –Malta Kano to her sister, Creta Kano, as told to the anti-hero/hero, Toru Okada.  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (306)

So here I am, wanting to forget the past, and yet not wanting to lose the past.  I don’t know what to make of it. I want to forget the pain of my past and retain the respect and funding for books and libraries–places of solace.

How to relax

“Relaxing my Ass back on” to counter “Working my Ass off”
I come from a family where the number one belief was “you are only a good person if you are constantly hard working, you can get drunk sometimes, but then get up the next day and work.”  And like someone said in my other group, that’s a good recipe for burnout.  Which I have done.  Burnout seems to have been my middle name for about 10 years.  I look back and think…well, I don’t know what I think.  Oh, brain fog.
Anyway, I’m trying to learn to listen to my body–I’m having a hard time not getting bored and feeling guilty staying home trying to stay within my energy envelope.  I feel really angry about everything right now.  I realize that my denial about what I really can do, am doing, did do (in terms of overworking)is so huge and breaking it down is the only way I will be able to figure out how to pace myself and make myself happier.  I think I also use work like a drug to avoid my feelings–so I have feelings I don’t like, which I deny by throwing myself into work and then I deny that I’m overtaxing myself with work.  Oh the circuitous routes of my mind!
I haven’t written a goal for a couple of weeks I don’t think (everything blending into everything else lately, weeks go by without me being aware).  My new goal is to what?  Chip away at my belief that I’m only worthy if I’m working my ass off?  (funny, the older I get, the less ass I actually have!!LOL Talk about a self fulfilling prophesy!)
Okay, but seriously, how to chip away?  well, I guess it’s just affirmations and self talk that counters the old belief.
What:  repeat to myself “I am a good person even if I do nothing.”
When:  as much as I can–especially when feeling lonely, bored, or guilty.
Confidence: 8
Thanks for reading.