The Noises Beyond These Walls…

I don’t think it’s, the neighbors…or maybe, it’s, just my AUDITORY HALLUCINATION again???

The noises beyond these walls, I’d, been hearin’ ‘em, ever since, long, long, long, long ago (funny thing is, I just, moved in this past spring!!!). The noises beyond these walls, been hearin’ ‘em, since I was, growin’ up, thought I’d, left them all behind, but apparently, not!noises in my head 的圖片結果chaotic, just like this, perhaps???  Sketch from online…

The noises beyond these walls, when will I, finally, STOP hearing them? It’d gotten, so god DAMN loud I can’t sleep soundly through the nights of my adulthood years.

So, guess, I’ll, probably, need to trace back, to the origins of when those noises beyond these walls got started, huh? But, I can’t remember ever being little at all, it’s like, I’m suddenly, here, and, all my yesterdays, were, erased from my mind for some unknown reasons!

The noises beyond these walls, how can I, make them all stop? By, putting those, extra paddings on my own walls, to sound-proof everything? But what if, my house caught on fire, and, I can’t, break through those, walls, I’d, sound-proofed, or worse, what if, I needed help, and nobody hears me scream, through these, four walls???



Trips Alone

Being an avid observer, of the surrounding environments, the life of a people-watcher, translated…

Because of work, I’d needed to have roundtrip travels from Hualien to Taipei and Taipei, to Hualien, in order to save up the fares, I’d often taken the “transferring commutes”, taking the double decker busses for some way, then the trains. This waiting and transferring, transferring and waiting, sometimes, I’d felt tension, and I’d, gazed out the windows, and suddenly, felt very relaxed, like it is, a sort of a miniature “trips alone” out of my ordinary life.

like this???  Photo from online…

In the process of my commute, I’d often initiate my “small theatre” mode, guessing at which seat I would be, given, would it be window seat, or aisle seat, would I get to see the sea? Or that I’d, start to observe the passengers all around me, from their ages, to what they’re wearing, to what games they’re, playing on their cell phone, the images from their FB homepage (am I being, too observant?), their LINE conversation (am I, breach someone else’s privacy?), listening in on the conversations (can someone call the police on me for that?)………all of these, are the points of origin of my imagination, I wanted to know, who the person who was, sitting closest to me was?

For a while, I’d even gotten so nutty, that I’d had to get the seat on the first row on the busses, that way, I got to, observe the driver at a close distance, and, his name would be, right up overhead, in front of me! In the age of Google, you will leave behind, an electronic footprint if you log online, and other than just imagining people’s lives, I get to, cross-check the facts, and, I’d often, lost control, in the one-hour ride, to the point that as I got off, and thanked the driver, I’d, actually became, genuine.

查看來源圖片like this???  Not my photo…

And so, this, is being a people watcher, and this person enjoys it, because, there are, NOT many other alternative “forms of entertainment”, so, he’d found fun, in observing the world around him, and, this trip alone became, more interesting, instead of just, watching that clock in the stations, wondering, when the busses or the trains will finally come and take you away!

The Smiley Curve

A lesson her middle school home ec instructor taught her, that’s not a part of the curriculum, which she’d found useful, and grateful over, in her elderly years, translated…

As winter started last year, I was overcome, with a sudden illness, hospitalized twice, and after the trials of the surgeries for a few months afterwards, finally, I’d, gotten better now. Thanks to the Goddess of Mercy, the doctors, the nurses, as well as, my families.

查看來源圖片training to smile…photo from online…

Recalling how I was, playing with my grandchild as I usually would, then suddenly, I’d felt my stomach turned, vomited then had diarrhea, and, as my loved ones rushed me to the E.R., they told me that it was a gall bladder stone that blocked up the ducts, causing the inflammatory response. This shock had, made me come face to face, with the uncertainties of life for the very first time in my life.

As I was bedridden, I saw my own reflection in the mirror, my cheeks slid in, that look of worry crawled all over my face, plus the effects of gravity, deepened those lines that the years left on me. I’d felt, that I looked, old, and, I’d, curled up the corners of my lips, started, smiling in the mirror; suddenly, my face looked, up, this fifteen-degree angle rise, made my eyes and brows looked happier too.

Then, I’d, recalled my home ec instructor from middle school, she’d always worn a grin on her face, she was, loved by all her students. Once she’d taught us to make a traditional Chinese snack, and, other than teaching us the techniques, she always wanted to instill that positivity in our lives. The students were all very motivated, and, as the dough floated in the fryer, with the fire, slowly, turned golden, then, pop, so aromatic. She’d told us, “Does it not look like a smiley face?”, we were shy and students, we’d circled around the pot, and, sucked in our saliva, smiled and nodded toward her.

or, like this, perhaps???  Not my photo…smiling into a mirror 的圖片結果

The attractiveness of smiles is unimaginable, to this very day, I’d still remembered how my instructor showed her canine teeth, smiling so sweetly at us. This smile had, awakened me, that life is everchanging, happy, that’s one day, regret, that’s also, one day, why not, just grin, making ourselves feel at ease, and, it’s, equally, pleasing for the outside world to see us too. In my elderly years, I’d, hoped, to open my heart up, and, face my beautiful future, with this, “smiling curve”.

And so, this important lesson that your home ec teacher from middle school had taught you all, you’d, finally understood what it meant, in your elderly years, but, it’s still, NOT too late, because now, you’ll, have that optimism to face whatever comes your way, as you remember, how easy it is, to turn that frown upside down into a beautiful smile!

Trips Alone

How the love the two of you once knew had, slowly, dimmed out, translated…

You’d Found a Café in the Snow that’s Growing, Sat Down. You Saw, Out of the Corner of Your Eyes, a Woman in a Red Jacket, She Sat, Leisurely, Sipping on Her Coffee, Looking Confident, But Not Too Proud, Seems to Tell the Rest, that She Knew that the Man She was, Waiting for, is Hers, Although He’d, Not Yet Professed His Love to Her………

I’d gone to Berlin for a lecture in the spring, there’s, still that coldness in the air there. The first evening in Berlin, you were, working on the PowerPoint presentation for tomorrow, then, suddenly, shouts broke through the silence of the night, someone was, shouting out racial slurs, you’d tilted your head out the window, saw some stumbling figures. You’d wanted to turn back to R, tell him, “It’s no big deal, just some teenagers”. But you’d, forgotten, that you’re, on this trip, alone.

You’d turned on the radio, the DJ said something in German you couldn’t catch fast enough, then, the song started, quietly. But, in this night that’s, disturbed, music seemed to serve the purpose of repair, but, although the music had, grasp onto a nerve of yours, but, you’d, worked along, and, failed to pay enough attention to what he was singing, until the final few lines, the trumpet started, sounding off in the background, and the singer, “it’s all so quiet”, and, the trumpet’s tune rose with the notes climbing up higher, then, as the highest note that the trumpet played came to a halt, the singer, “in Berlin”, and ended the song. You’d, immediately, gone online to search for the song, and, listened to it more than twenty times. It’s all so quiet, It’s all so quiet, It’s all so quiet…in Berlin. This section of the lyric, sounded like, they were, made for you.

illustration from…圖/李孟翰

Although this was the second time you’re here, Berlin was still a strange place to you, last time, there weren’t that many Muslim vendors or Turkish restaurants, and, it was, impossible, for you, to NOT feel discriminated here. But, why did you, gain that sense of unprotected vulnerability for the silent nights in Berlin now?

In Ginsberg’s poem “Returning Back to Time Square, Dreams in Time Square”, nobody saw that invisible trumpeter, only that poet who’d, stumbled down the streets, after the world changed, chasing that lost dream, accidentally, found the trumpeter again. You’d heard that trumpeter’s sorrowful music playing—or perhaps, it was, your hallucination too?

Or maybe, because it was, spring back then?

The repeated once chorus had:

I’d get lost anywhere

As long as I’m found

I could be anyone

in any town

Yes, so long as we got found, who would be afraid, of getting lost? Naturally, we’d not needed to worry of the various roles we’d played, so long as we get to, return to that very first, original role, assigned to us.

You’d gone to Athens for a meeting, the sun had, shone down everywhere. After the meeting, I’d gone to Mykonos. The bright sunlight reflected into the alleyways that twisted and turned like the walls of a labyrinth, you’d wandered aimlessly, and was, drawn to a table with an empty chair in front of a café, and, you took that very first photo of an empty seat. It was, very rare, that in the afternoons, the seats were, still vacant, and, you looked upon those empty chairs, like they were, alive, and waiting, patiently, for a customer to come and sit. But, you’d had, another, delusion, that all the customers from before never, actually left, that there were, the ghosts of, customers past sitting in the seats.

like this???  not my photograph…

You’d recalled how you’d traveled to many islands with R from before, once, she’d complained that you’d only, taken her to the islands, and, you were, dumbfounded, every time you’d, planned out the trips thoroughly, you’d made sure, to include an island in the itinerary, and she didn’t like that, and that, was when it’d, dawned on you, that she’d, favored the city living lifestyle. And so, you’d, thought, had you not scheduled these trips to these, islands………then, you’d found, that your thoughts, never actually, got off the islands you’d, gone to—you’d, kept pondering how to make the amends, should you, try satisfying her more the next time? As you were, about to, leave those, empty chairs behind, you couldn’t help, but look at them again, felt, that you’d not, gotten everything that you need, to take with you.

Those windmills in the distant hills, from a certain angle on the island, you could, get a complete view of, but, you seemed, to have, never caught them turning. Until the last day when you’re about to leave, you’d, walked to the ferry, and, you seemed, to have seen, the windmill, turned. You’d instinctively turned, to tell R, but, that huge cruise ship docked, broke your illusions—at which time, there was, a large group of younger eastern girls getting off, you couldn’t help, but look at them, and, so long as the ladies were thin and tall, you’d, sought them out, as if, trying, to find something that’s, familiar and lost……until the tourists all got onboard the ship, and, you’d, carried that nostalgia of unwillingness, alighted too.

You went to Yangzhou to lecture, the autumn light reflected onto the lakes. After supper, you’d gone with a group of younger scholars, to continue the meet in the city, they’d found a pub, “For Youth”, with a live band. And, as everybody went in, they’d, received a red bandana, turned out, it was, a day of nostalgia at the pub, other than the pop music from Hong Kong and Taiwan, the young musicians also performed the tunes from long ago. And everybody, in their Red Army bandana all, sang along too; in the help of alcohol, the revolution, seemed to have, begun all over again, and no matter how many products were, produced by the outside world. As you all left, everybody looked, and, there’s, that feeling of, vacancy. After exiting For Youth, the streets became, vacant too, and, Michael Buble’s “Home” came from the distance, there’s, that feeling of surrealness. You’d told everybody to stop walking, and the song was at:

Another aeroplane

Another sunny place

I’m lucky, I know

But I wanna go home

I’ve got to go home

You shook your head, “Come on, too overly expressive.” But, actually, you were, trying, to mask up the feelings that were, awakened in you; you’d become, another flighter; kept boarding the next plane, arriving at the next sunny place. But, you’d always, traveled, alone.

all alone, without the company of someone he loves…photo from online…

You’d arrived at Lithuania in the winter, but, the chills of the winter already got there ahead of you. Before the meeting was over, you’d, gone to the capital of Latvia, Riga. Your friend told you from before, that this country, is very tiny, but had, amazing architectures, especially, when nobody else was there. And so, you’d, gone out in the snow early in the morn, and trekked the streets. The winter morning, you’d, walked across, and in-between, those ancient buildings, like you’d, entered, into a dream of solitude: all the tourists, gone, only those, shy ghosts, still, lingered on. As you walked, there came, a beautiful woman from the turn of the corner, you couldn’t tell if she was, Latvian or Russian, but, there’s, that hint of sorrow, from either the northern weather, or some other reasons. The moment she’d, passed you by, you’d found, that a button was missing from her shirt. You’d wanted to turn back and share this with R, but if this time, she’d called you “boring”, you would’ve, had a valid reason; because this reminded you of Rilke’s book, mentioning how the young maiden the man bumped into, and he’d found that a button was unbuttoned from the back of her shirt, and, guessed at how she must’ve, felt angered by something before she went out…………and, you’d, mentioned it to R: the time she’d, rushed out the door, and, you’d, chased after her, to button up that missed button on her back………

In the storm that grew, you’d, found a café to sit. The snow fell harder outside, and, you’d, worried about the woman you’d, just encountered, that she might freeze from the cold, then, you saw, another woman, in a red jacket, sipping on her coffee in the corner, looking self-confident, but without the ego, like telling those around her, she knew that the man she was waiting for was hers already, although he’d, not professed his love to her yet……at this very moment, a memory of winter came clear to you. R too, once wore her read coat and waited for you in a café. That day, you were running, seriously late, and, as you’d arrived, you’d, apologized profusely, but she’d, spoken aloud, “I’m not, waiting, for you!”

It was, Christmas Eve, you’d recalled, in the U.S. everybody was, spending the evening with someone who’s closest and mattered most, same for the international students. But R arrived Maryland, and, passed through that final Christmas Eve you’d had in the States, but why? She’d, corrected herself: that she was there, for something else, but, there wasn’t anything planned on Christmas Eve, so, she’d, come find you. But, you’d not done anything special, just strolled around South Seaport, and, carried on, in disconnected conversations. It was, really cold that evening, and, the two of you, started, breathing out white air, but, neither one of you was, in a hurry, to find a warm place to sit. Did you feel, that it wasn’t, needed, to have other people around? Or, simply because, you can’t, find a place to sit down? You can no longer, recall. But, the only thing you’d recalled was, as the two of you, leaned in against the railing, and, gazed toward the distant lighthouse, blinking, she’d suddenly inquired, “Do you like, traveling alone?”, without a second of hesitation, you’d, replied, “I used to, from before.”

And so, that, was your experience of love, and, the two of you had, shared so many memories, but, for some reasons, you two didn’t, work out, and, you’re left, with these, memories of the love you’d owned and lost, feeling, nostalgic…

Not Yet a Traveler

Comparing oneself, and one’s own friend on the trip they took together, and at the end, she’d, understood about herself a little bit more, translated…

I kept believing that I’m an expert traveler, and started in my college years, I’d gone all over the places, and, as I’d started working, I’d gone on trips alone, to the recently opened up nations, I was among, the earliest tourists to Angkor Wat, Burma, along with Java, Indonesia, and places as such. I’d paired up with my former classmate, Helen to travel together, and realized then, that I was, a tourist that took the “comforts from home” with me out of the country.

this, is how you’d, traveled…photo from online…查看來源圖片

We’d met up at the international airport early in the morning, and, the flight to New Delhi, India was, on time. I saw Helen, with a huge backpack, and a small bag in her hand, without anything else she’d packed. I’d thought, that she’d, forgotten her luggage back in the cab, but, what befell me, was the items she’d, packed, for our twelve days of journey abroad. Now, look at me, the same twelve days, I’d had an oversized luggage, with a backpack, and my laptop too.

As we were waiting for the flight, I’d, gone to change into a less heavy, but warming “airplane outfit”, and, as I’d found my seat on the flight, I’d set up my pillow, and put my slippers on; and, as the flight took off, there was no air currents or turbulences, I’d immediately, put that moisturizing mask on, swallowed my multi-vitamins, then, readied for bed. Eight hours later, the pilot announced that we are about to descend to our destination I’d immediately started my sunblock routines, pulled out an assortments of moisturizers, sunblock……as we’d gotten our luggage, I’d, immediately, pulled out an outfit for travel, readied, to put it on. Based off of the schedules of the tours we had, there were, varied accessories, and shoes that goes with each and every occasion; each night as the itinerary ended, and we’d returned back to the hotel, I’d, worked hard, to repair my own skin. And, for Helen who was on this trip beside me, she had on her leisure jumpsuit, and sneakers, and as she’d arrived back into the hotel, she’d only pulled out her toothbrush, her toothpaste, and her pajamas to change into. She had stuffed a jacket, two sets of clothes to change in and out of, without any of the items for beauty and reparation of skin that I’d had.

Compared to how I’d hurried to find the internet connections as we’d returned back to the hotel, to share my journey with my loved ones, to have NO time zone difference with Taipei, Helen practiced her de-tox from the internet, not checked her Facebook and LINE, she’d not even cared, if she was, completely, tanned, shut off her style of comfort living in Taipei, to get out of her own, time zone.

and this, was how your friend had, done it…photo from online…

Compared to my packed up suitcases with things I’d needed for my life back in Taipei, Helen only had a backpack with her, but, she was, more of a sojourner than I am, simplified everything she had, and, able to, take in more of what she’d, encountered on this trip. So, I was only someone, who’d, traveled, with my comfort zones intact, not yet considered, a traveler.

So, this, is what you’d found out about yourself, on that trip with someone, comparing how you and her differed in your styles of travel, it’d made you understood, that your friend was able to, travel more freely, without the baggage from back home, unlike you…

Adding from One to a Hundred, a Treasure Map of Memories

Hated himself, for being too ignorant, and, he respected his own mother even more than before, translated…

That evening, I was riding on the MRT on my way home, the mom sitting opposite was teaching her young math using the math textbooks, and, the memories slowly, came back to me.

Key in the Numbers One by One Slowly

I grew up in the army retirement villages, my father was a former serviceman, a retired veteran, my mother was native Amis, they’d married through matchmaking, without the basis of love, they were, twenty-one-years apart. Because of how they didn’t share anything in common, the differences of their backgrounds, their value systems, they’d, fought a lot.

In my elementary years, my mother worked the graveyard shift at the electronics factory, in order to get a raise, she’d, signed up for the head of her crew’s examinations. One morning, I saw a graded math test, one of the problem was 1+2+3+4+5+6…+97+98+99+100=?, without thinking, I’d known, that the answer was 5,050. This was a famous question, that’s been tested and tested repeatedly on the students. But, my mother got it wrong.

“How did you get this?”, I’d inquired her.

“I’d used a calculator, and keyed in the numbers one by one slowly.” Don’t know how long it took her, to get the answer, and perhaps, she’d, keyed in the wrong numbers on a few, she’d, gotten the answer wrong.

圖/倩illustration from the papers online…

I’d looked at that exam more closely, she’d not answered the problems on close to half of her exam, and, it seemed, that adding one to one hundred took her too much time.

“Did you get the promotion?”

She shook her head.

“Why did it take you this long, and you’d still, gotten it wrong?”, I’d, blurted it out, can’t believe that the problem was so easy, and she’d, still gotten it wrong. Besides, this problem doesn’t need any calculating.

As my mother heard, she’d, fallen silent, only smiled bitterly toward me, then, marched back to the kitchen.

I Seemed, to Have, Understood Something

Later, my father learned about this, and he’d, called me, and, beaten the CRAP out of me. He was so angered he was, shaking all over, pointed to my nose, screamed aloud at me, “The reason why you’re going to school, is because your mother worked all night, to make the money, don’t you know that? What right have you, to MAKE fun of her? Everything you have right now, your mother gave to you!”

So, that day after I left for school, my mother cried silently.

And I’d become, dumbfounded, with all the bruises and bleeding over my skin, stared at my father, then, I’d gotten that wake up call, of how an ingrate I had been, I’d only viewed things, from my own perspectives.

I’d cried and hugged mom to show her how sorry I was, she’d cried, and smiled, patted my head, said it was okay. From then, it seemed, that I’d, understood some things.

And, it’d been, almost thirty years since, and, I’d recalled the incident from time to time, and, felt compelled, to go back in time, to KILL my own ignorant self.

And now, my dad’s gone to heaven two years ago, and my mom, hair all white, played with her granddaughters, and, waited until I’d visited her back home, she’d, cooked a TON of dishes I loved, and, nagged me on what I needed to be more careful over by the day.

“Mom, do you know how old I am already? Stop worrying, besides, I’m, too fat already, I need to be on a diet already!”, and, although as I’d turned her down kindly, I’d felt that surge of warmth inside of me.

I sat on the MRT, looked at the mom and her cute son sitting opposite to me, I’d called my mom.

“Mom, is it okay, that I come home for supper tonight?”

And so, it took this man until his midlife years, to finally understood why his father punished him so severely when he was a kid, and, he’d known how much his own mother had, given to his family and him, and appreciated how much love he had growing up.

Tai-Chi on My Tongue

What this mother learned about herself, from that tongue-twister her son gave to her to work with, translated…

As my son entered in to the house, he’d told me to say these words quickly, “Gundam on the monkey bars”, how hard can that be?

And yet, I got, tongue-tied, where did my bad pronunciation come from?

And I’d, stated the characters, slowly, word-for-word this time, “Gun Dam on the Monkey Bars”, and, my son was already laughing too hard, that he’d, started, rolling around on the floors.

illustration from the papers online…文‧圖/朱靜容

Was it me? Normally, as I was, scolding him, my tongue was so sharpened it’d never get tied up like this, and how can I, be defeated by these, five stupid characters? As I’d cooked, I’d, practiced it in my mind, and, I’d felt, that my brain cells were, on fire, and, there was, that “SNAP” of the muscle that connected my tongue.

Slurred speech, was a sign of aging or degeneration of the brains! Take a deep breath, start slowly, and speed it up, plus, I’m no tongue-twister expert, so I’ll, use the slower, tai-chi method, to start training my tongue! “Gundam on a Monkey Bar”, hmmmmmmmmmmmmm, getting better, I’d, found my spoof back again.

And now, before I lecture, I’d, started practicing the tongue twisters, “the Gundams on a Monkey Bar”, “The Chemistry Dissolved”, “The Performers Swim Well”…………

tongue-tied here, illustration from online…查看來源圖片

And, this mother learned, that she shouldn’t, speak so fast, and that sometimes, her mind moved, a lot faster than her tongue can, and so, she’d, started, training her tongue’s speed, until it’d moved in syncopation with her mind too.