Noise and Nostalgia


A small cacophony emanates from behind my laptop monitor. The cheap speakers muffle the sound of some song by The Dillinger Escape Plan. I try to ignore it, but that only seems to magnify the noise. Noise in front of me, noise within me, I think wryly.

A few hours ago I had been laughing over a new copy of the omnibus edition of Azumanga Daioh. It's hard not to become nostalgic over that series. I had read it once years ago. A friend on the east coast had loaned me a copy of the series a half-year before it became popular. Reading the story was like reminiscing about old friends. While Ayumu "Osaka" Kasuga is everyone's favorite character (I named a computer after her), Yomi is my personal favorite.

As with many stories of this kind, I often imagine myself trading places with one of the characters. I add those character's experiences to my own, taking with me the memories pleasant or touching. I'm sure I'm not the only one that does this. One could argue that the first person perspective by its nature puts you behind the eyes of the narrator. When presented with a choice, I often gravitate to characters similar to me, or similar to how I wish to be. Depending on the events of the story, this empathy can either be inconsequential or can leave me stunned.

This can be a kind of therapy. In every life, there are regrets, "missing" experiences, and missed opportunities. I have my own share. Taking the place of a character in a story can often lessen the ache left by all the gaps in my experiences. Unfortunately, this does have the nasty side effect.

I hate finishing the story! As I get closer and closer to the end of the book (or movie, or series), I feel the desire just to simply stop, leaving it unfinished. In my mind, the untied plotlines hang in midair, a lingering question that goes on forever. I don't want the story to end, because then my contact with that world is severed. I will never know what happens in the lives of the characters from that point onward. It's almost sorrowful.

It's rare that I can keep this up for long. Eventually my need to know the ending gets the better of me. I sit down and rush my way through the ending. I never can quite outrun the lingering sadness of finishing a particularly enjoyable tale. Azumanga's ending isn't particularly climatic, but it is rather touching.

What happens now? I ask myself. I still want to know the lives the characters following the story. Sometimes I make up the continuing lives of the characters, sometimes not. Less often I imagine a story set in the same world (Haibane Renmei is one example) but never quite get around to writing it.

I haven't gotten around to writing much of anything lately. Paper Girl has been stalled for weeks now. I had also made a promise to myself to post more often, but both of these tasks have been very, very difficult. I can't seem to work past the noise in my mind, the cacophony of voices that warn me that others will set their eyes upon my ragged sentences and click their tongues in disappointment. In the meantime, I bury myself in book after book, wondering about in a haze of psudo-nostalgia.