Published 2007-01-13

So there are two circumstances that must obtain before I get up the energy to post to the blog:

  1. Boredom
  2. An elevated sense of well-being

Funnily these things seldom coincide. My sense of well-being plunges with boredom. (This is why I don’t care for TV. It drains my energy yet does not relax me.) OTOH I am seldom bored in China. Daily life is still too interesting. And by “interesting” I mean “maddeningly frustrating.”

I’m writing this now because I can. The week between Christmas and New Year was a toxic combination of boredom and deflated ego. I felt completely defeated by China. I couldn’t stop looking backward at Oregon and America, and every daily interaction utterly enervated me. When I discovered was on the blacklist that was pretty much the right hook that KO’d me.

I remember waking up early sometime around at that point, after a fitful night of poor sleep. I trussed up Bismarck for his morning walk and stepped out into the icy cold filthy dry pitch black morning. We made it about three blocks and I had one of the lowest feeling I’d had since we arrived. I don’t know why. Bismarck kept sniffing around the park, unable to eliminate because his timing was off. Something in me snapped, and I didn’t feel human. I can’t explain the feeling any more than that, I can’t find human words to describe the sensation.

The closest approximate feeling I’ve experienced was this one time when I was camping and high as a kite on psilocybin...I crawled out from under a bush, filthy with mud, and saw the Milky Way sprayed across a night sky aglow with stars. I had an indescribable sensation that I wasn’t lying on my back looking up but standing with my back to a wall looking out. Everything about my life as a human being felt hollow and false: why would an animal wear clothes, use tools, ride around in a car, sleep under a roof? I mean this all in a mind-expanding Kerouackian Buddhist kind of way.

Well about two weeks ago I had the same sensation, stone cold sober, but in reverse. The pollution, the unheated apartment, the shitty job, the allergies that just won’t quit already, the profound isolation from all the people and places I love, it all conspired to make me feel, I dunno, not human. OK here’s the profound revelation: human beings are tied to places. You are where you come from.

My soul is always a big empty place with clean skies and clear water you can drink with your bare hands. I will always be the smell of fresh cut grass and black earth and rain on pavement. China won’t beat that out of me, and I won’t ever shed it. I can’t shed where I come from like dead skin. I will always be the English language, shovelling snow, ice cold milk, barking dogs, beer with friends, baseball on the radio, freight trains in the distance. That stuff is who I am, sure as I’m five-foot-six.