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Home: The Toast

Previously: how to tell if you are in an Iris Murdoch novel.

An elephant mysteriously vanishes. A giant frog is waiting in your apartment. Your cat mysteriously vanishes. Two moons hang in the sky. Your wife mysteriously vanishes. A strange man comes to you and asks you to find a sheep, or a woman calls and asks for ten minutes of your time. You might be the protagonist in a novel or short story by acclaimed Japanese author Haruki Murakami. Look around you. If any of these things sound familiar, you might want to get a new collar for your cat:

1. You drink your coffee black.

2. You have a deep and abiding love for old jazz records.

3. You find it easy to have emotionless sex with strangers. If you were to describe the sex to a friend you would use the most abstract language possible, but you never do because you have no friends.

4. You worship the 1960s and the simple comforts in life: black coffee, old jazz records, emotionless afternoon sex. If, however, you are actually living in the 1960s, you mostly just keep to yourself.

5. You find yourself constantly thinking that things would be better if we just went back to how they used to be. You spend days thinking about how only you are living the only real way to live; everyone around you is unrefined, uncouth, and unworthy of your attention.

6. You have a friend who is your complete opposite. If you are quiet and insightful, they are bold and brash. You are unquestioningly good friends, even though you both uncharitably compare yourselves to each other all the time.

7. You are incredibly good at describing any room you are currently in. Every detail is outlined, with strict attention paid to the seemingly non-essential items that fill in the gaps of a careful description. To hear you describe a room is to be able to imagine every single object with perfect clarity, down to how smoothly the paint lies on the walls. You do not know how to describe emotions.

8. The highest compliment you can pay a woman is to not sleep with her.

9. There is a single person you are destined to be with. Your relationship with this person is not just of love, but of total and complete being. The universe was created solely so that you and this person could meet. Be careful: this may also be a sign you are in a Banana Yoshimoto short story.

10. You are forced to leave your home and journey in search of something, you know not what. You go to five-star hotels, small towns, seedy motel rooms, a psychiatric ward in the hills, an island off the coast of Greece. You wait there for something to happen. You wait for a long time, but it is not until you return home that the thing you were waiting for actually happens. It surprises you, yet afterward you still feel unresolved. No matter what you do, you always are left feeling unresolved, catharsis always just out of reach.

Note: This applies to men only. If you are a woman in a Murakami novel, you have probably already disappeared.

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Alice Lee can now rock a leather jacket, ripped black tights and combat boots with the best of them. She writes things at The Yearbook Office and talks about video games on her podcast Girlfriend Mode.

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