I didn’t want to write a blog. I wanted to write fantasy stories about mages and swordsmen and princesses and the like. For many years, I tried my hand at writing amateurish, unpolished fantasy because that is what I found appealing to read. It was an escape from my life. Which I will not go into detail about here. I imagine that the details of my existence that are pertinent to anything important will reveal themselves in what I write, to those who are looking. There will be those who will glance at this and be like, “Wow this person is full of hubris and I don’t want to read any more of this drivel”! I am not planning on writing for those people. Those people have kept me from writing. The idea that there are people out there who would read what I wrote and spurn it has kept me enslaved. It isn’t always easy to write about one’s experiences. One has to reveal a great deal of that which is hidden inside. And I was not about to do that just for the heck of it.
The people I hope to write for are those who will be able to look past the supposed (or real) arrogance, the airs or the clichéd topics. I am not perfect and will never claim to be so. I love clichéd topics as much as the next person. Sometimes I like to think about nothing and write about it. Be warned.
The reason I am writing this really, is because of the people who want to know about my “orange peels”. This is for them because they asked. And I will not be bullied by the mean people in this world, to become something I am not. If you ask me and I have it, I will give you what you want. It’s how I roll.
Back to the “orange peels”. You may be thinking, Farheen! What do you mean “orange peels”??? I’m so confused! Allow me to explain the name of this blog and further illuminate on “orange peels”. In the fall of 2009, I was entering my senior year at Elmhurst College, majoring in English Literature (big surprise huh?). The Capstone course for English Lit was… Advanced Literary Study of J.D. Salinger. SALINGER???? The culmination of my undergraduate studies in literature, the Capstone, is all about Salinger? I felt betrayed. Cheated. Furious. Gnashing my teeth, I went to class.
You see, I was not a big fan of Salinger, having only read his best-selling coming-of-age story, rife with male teenage angst… The Catcher in the Rye. Even after the class where I obviously did develop some grudging respect for Salinger’s work, I still hate it. I despise Holden Caulfield. I detest the stupid things he does. The only thing I liked about that book was the question he continuously ponders about the ducks in the pond in Central Park and where they go in the wintertime. Because, quite frankly, I love ducks and probably would ask myself that question if I were in Central Park in the middle of winter.
What I did learn to appreciate is hard to describe. I never thought I would spend as much time thinking about The Nine Stories as I have. Most of them struck some kind of chord in my mind – dare I even say, my soul? All of the stories had a hypnotic quality that appealed to me. They all had a something elusively intriguing. But the one I think most about is called “Teddy”, which I won’t tell you about because it is really disturbing on many different levels. I will give you a teaser, just so the quotations make sense. If you want to read it, in its entirety, go for it. Here is a link…http://www.dibache.com/text.asp?id=176&cat=51
So there is this 10 year old kid looking out a porthole window of his family’s cabin as they are journeying home on a ship. His parents are busy fighting, with his father taking a few moments out of the arguing to tell him to get down from the luggage and to stop looking out the window. Teddy ignores him and peers out the window when suddenly someone above on deck empties a garbage can of orange peels into the ocean. Teddy announces what has happened and as his father sarcastically comments that they should contact the press, Teddy watches them, and observes that some are floating in the water, while others sink. Teddy is intrigued.
“’I don’t mean it’s interesting that they float,’ Teddy said. ‘It’s interesting that I know about them being there. If I hadn’t seen them, then I wouldn’t know they were there, and if I didn’t know they were there, I wouldn’t be able to say that they even exist.’”(Nine Stories 261).
The orange peels cause Teddy to ponder the question of existence. But wait, there is more! Teddy continues observing the orange peels.
“‘Some of them are starting to sink now. In a few minutes, the only place they’ll still be floating will be inside my mind. That’s quite interesting, because if you look at it a certain way, that’s where they started floating in the first place. If I’d never been standing here at all, or if somebody’d come along and sort of chopped my head off right while I was –’” (Nine Stories 262). What he was speaking of, we’ll never know because he is rudely interrupted by his parentals going off on a tangent that has nothing to do with Teddy’s observations.
What is going on? Did I forget to mention Teddy is a genius? He is. When I was ten, I pondered why the moon followed me around and why some trains had engines at the wrong end. I didn’t ponder the existence of things in my memory. Deep stuff, Teddy.
The final reference to the orange peels, and in my humble opinion the most potent in meaning, comes as Teddy is sent off to locate his little sister, who is 6 years old and wandering the ship, alone and unsupervised…
“‘After I go out this door, I may only exist in the minds of all my acquaintances,’ he said. ‘I may be an orange peel.’” (Nine Stories 265).
It should be clear why this image of “orange peels” is stuck in my head. I am sharing my thoughts and experiences, my orange peels, here. They have been tossed into my line of sight by some random force, entity, or perhaps higher power, as I peer out into the world. Should someone come across this blog, it becomes an orange peel for them.
And one day, hopefully later rather than sooner, I will become an orange peel myself, existing only in the memories of the people who knew me.