(no subject)

i've been writing more in my paper journal. scribbling. endless lines and lines of despair -- if only it weren't so consuming, this process. yesterday i honestly felt like living again -- felt like all my molecules were pretty much in the room at once -- it's been a long scattering of late. but the feeling only lasts a little while. still, i started sleeping again about two weeks ago (with chemical assistance) -- after more than three months of not (an hour or two, then panic), i guess a little sanity can seep back in.

i've been looking at myself on video. it is like looking at a stranger. is it like that for others, or do they know what they look like? i keep wondering about others, do they know who they are?

i don't like being alone -- is there ever a time when i'm not?

i've been in one place a year and a third by now. this is the longest stretch in one place in six years. my immediate impulse is to run away. my heart flickers.

(no subject)

i can't help it and i know it is insane but i am having ridiculous cravings for the very unforgiving midwest. i mean the lake in the early morning, clear enough to see the rocks at the bottom. i mean the lake in the afternoon and the wind rushing over it. i mean the lake in the evening and the hollow glunk glunk it makes as it washes underneath the cement blocks at the point. i mean the way the buildings all rise over you, magnificent as mountains, and how you feel very small walking the boulevards. i mean the very grand architecture and the very splendid artwork. i love the bay area, i do. people here are so much nicer. there's work i can do here that i sure as hell could not in chicago. the weather is mighty fine. and it's ok to have quirks and be sensitive, which chicago does not love or allow at all. i think i am happier here. i have some friends my age. i have project after project (three, four at a time). but i'm not content (am i ever??? let's be serious). my mind needs more. oh, i think what is is is (hahaha. ok, i'm not even going to honor that construction with an ending)

life is good! it is!

(no subject)

i am a very bad lj citizen in that i hardly even remember to log on anymore, which makes me crap at following all four people who still write here, and it also means that i don't think in paragraphs anymore, only condensed lines for mass consumption. and ultimately those lines must be censored because i've learned by now that you can't write what you really think (like, today i woke up feeling suicidal. again.). today i didn't wake up feeling suicidal; i woke up feeling really, really overwhelmed. the last few nights i've been able to sleep but wake up grossly coated in sweat -- it's all too much, which means that today i actually VACUUMED and sorted some recycling. and listened to some music that a friend had given me, whom i'm not sure is a friend, though he's certainly a very talented musician.

i'm teaching summer school. it's weird as usual being on a different schedule from virtually everyone else in the world -- i remember this being so in Taiwan, where our term went feb-july -- so everyone was hurrahing that Summer Was Here and i was in the stage of Will This Never End? now i have the pleasure (?) of a 6 week term, which means that i am ALREADY 18% done: pretty damn amazing. i have actually been enjoying the course, sort of. 5 hours is too long. it's too long even if you managed to give them the equivalent of 45 minutes of breaks and let them go early. on the other hand, it has been reminding me just how much fun it is to talk about literature -- mainly, to read it carefully and think about what it might mean that these particular works have done so much to captivate the imagination.

i'm dancing a lot. i think i didn't know i could do this. i'm currently rehearsing four different projects. it's great, maybe a little too much. but i want to do it all. people told me i looked great in class today, which was strange. i mean, i knew it wasn't true -- i know i am ok, also that i love to do it, but i also know that i can go whole years without anyone needing or wanting me to dance with them. that's partly why i do everything i can.

i should be very happy. i'm doing so many things i love. but what i think is that overall i am a person who could not be loved and who has very few real friends.

(no subject)

this morning on the BART i had the thought. something would happen to us in the tunnel. it was rush hour. there were many of us, and most of us were standing. i looked around and tried to determine which of us would be civil in the dark fear. i couldn't tell. i couldn't even tell about myself.

after we reached the city, enough people got off that by the second stop i could sit down -- even though i was getting off at the 4th, i slumped into a seat. another woman sat by me -- young attractive lesbian type. there was a duffel-type bag on the floor by the feet of the person across the aisle. suddenly it humped up and twitched. i flinched. "dog?" said the girl next to me. yes, but i couldn't stop looking anyway.

class was wonderful, but people kept leaving. they left until there was no one except company members in class -- three of us. we could work in privacy. sisterhood.

i have wanted to say that things were going well -- extravagantly well -- well in a way that i don't believe this is my own life -- but i came back to hear the first whispers of trouble in boston. well, you do get the news over facebook. this is just how it is in this age.

i'll deal with my own good news (which at every moment threatens to become bad news) later. how to say how it feels? there's worse happening daily in other countries -- worse that the US itself perpetuates. we are torturers, murderers. and boston doesn't feel like "america" the way nyc does (as an imaginative entity). i've had this blog since 2001 (and that day i inexplicably woke in california as the planes hit the towers). have none of us made any progress at all? why are we still perpetuating acts of hatred in this gross brute way? none of this hasn't already been said by other people and better, too. this is increasingly a place where i talk to myself. but all of us are responsible -- all of us.


so i have been moping. sometimes this takes the form of blubbering unattractively in darkened rooms. sometimes this takes the form of eating a lot of muesli/chocolate chips/kale/salted whatever was there. sometimes i am able to do both at once, which takes coordination, especially after all the dishes have been used. this is not productive, and it is the worst feeling in the world not to be productive. i'm not being melodramatic; it really is.

so i made a dance for myself because no one wants to work with me. it was nothing at all. i used it to practice qualities of movement that i learned in taiwan and integrate them with ways of moving that are more idiosyncratic and gestural. it became a more interesting dance with every set of eyes that watched it. i had to perform it before i quite knew what it was. it was not a great performance -- my first in over a year -- i was shaky and it was not going well and the space was FAR too small -- and -- people liked it anyway. they responded imaginatively. they wanted to know what it "meant." they told me what they thought it meant -- and it touched me tremendously that it actually had MEANT something to them. maybe that is growth.

anyway, the dance became an entirely different thing when my friend deirdre showed me several possible items for costumes -- i immediately fell in love with (i hate it when people say that. well, i became obsessed with. addicted to.) a voluminous white skirt -- mainly because it reminded me of the tutus in serenade -- also because all girls love to twirl in a big skirt -- that and the plain white -- it changed everything. it provided a focus and a screen and oh it was so beautiful on its own that i didn't need to do much more than stand in it to feel ethereal and dancerly. i had to have it. i felt sure deirdre would give it to me because we are not really the same size, and it fit ME exactly. but of course she must love it for the same reasons that i do, so now i am engaged in the new and difficult experience of making a copy of it.

this involves #1 hunting on ebay to see if huge white parachutey skirts are available for purchase. then despairingly noticing that each panel of the skirt is larger than an unfolded sheet of newspaper. then lying on one's back for several hours. then trying to cut a panel out of an old blind without drawing a line first or thinking very hard at all. then trying to trace a line with a pen on the remaining side of the blind. then getting smart and getting out a ruler and making a makeshift compass out of a thin strip of blind (duh!! use a string next time like all the smart people do!) and tracing careful dots around. this last part with a blind takes two hours, at least.

going to the fabric store: sweating through slush on roosevelt road, pausing to look at the train tracks several times. at the counter of the store is not a grandmotherly old lady but instead two biker-looking dudes, one tattooed and pierced heavily. the sign says CHECK IN YOUR BAG. i walk over, squeak out, "hi. i'm looking for some white cotton." they don't take my bag, just point me to the table that has seersucker and gauze and shirting and novelty cotton and i swear these are all real things. i immediately find 100% white cotton for $5.99 a yard. and next to it, cotton + polyester for $2.99. but... POLYESTER. a woman behind the counter suggests pima cotton shirting (wha??). she asks me if this is for PRAISE DANCING. i say no and start to explain the piece -- but in retrospect -- yes, yes it is. all dancing is praise dancing. i start pulling things down and pacing around and finally have a long heart-to-heart with gay tattooed biker who sews -- of course he does! we choose the polyester blend (in retrospect the WRONG CHOICE). he cuts it for me and explains that my plan to make a waistband out of a rectangular piece of fabric is misguided and the mistake of someone who doesn't understand how bodies are shaped (in a friendly way). i say i'll ask a sewing friend to help me, secretly hoping he will be my gay biker sewing friend.

then i rush, sweating through slush again, to meet a new friend for coffee -- a new and wonderful painter friend who has recently Found Love. she is amazing. and she suggests that i model for her advanced drawing class, since all her models are dancers. i will be replacing a Pirate! no, really, a professional pirate!! (i hope i measure up) it will be clothed but emotional. (our talk was weirdly emotional because i explained that i was going through transitions, some of which have lasted as long as 9 years. then i felt destroyed and inadequate and unlovable etc because of my pathetic self-narratives)

then i finally, finally went to dance. i could have gone earlier but was very busy with advanced moping (can even be done while scanning books to pdf!). burst into tears in front of the teacher, who is a dancer/choreographer that i respect so much. left room to blow nose and try to calm down, which never works. then we danced. i finally understood things i had never understood before, like why modern classes start on the floor (1. to understand bodily relations without the normative directionality of gravity. 2. to understand resistance throughout the body). and what it really means to ANCHOR with the supporting leg and to pull the body through space. and how entering and exiting the floor can be super fun. and we did a bunch of silly things, like funny off-kilter cartwheels (i laughed when he showed them -- because he has such an ease and obvious pleasure in things). he said it was about rediscovering a kind of playground joy -- but -- you know, i have never had playground joy. i did my share of cartwheels, yes, but all the time i had been aiming for a Platonic ideal of a cartwheel -- and there's definitely joy in that, but i never let myself just goof around doing glad animal movements and such -- and finally i felt open to really play and not feel bad that i have done horribly at last few auditions and that no one wants to work with me and that all the people in chicago are cool and i am emphatically not. i don't want to be cool -- real love is not cool -- and clarity is knowing that what you love will always matter more than what loves you.

so busy i don't have time to eat

which is great, except for the horrible hunger that hits you after 8-10 hours that leads to random animalistic snarfing of carbs.

so much is happening! so much! the calendar doesn't even express it. for instance, paid work. i'm still getting paid in taiwan this month, so i wasn't worried yet -- but without looking, a freelance editing gig fell in my lap (via a friend who couldn't do it herself), and then, in part because i am looking, a freelance writing gig (via a friend who works for this company). the writing could be a good little job to have, since it's totally free schedule and done from "home" (for people who have them). i'm a real artist now, working by the gig (note to readers: this is irony; please understand. (the part that makes me a real artist is my homelessness)). (everything comes and overlaps -- the editing with handing in grades for my classes -- the writing with the editing -- and -- well, just wait for below)

two saturdays ago i showed photos at a salon -- a salon at which i have previously danced (several times) and read poems -- and at which i had felt i no longer belonged/had been relatively chased out. i think it went well -- people genuinely responded and felt moved by the work, though i thought it looked wretched on the projector (i also inadvertently learned some things about projectors and color balance in a sweaty 20 minutes before the show began). one of the people in the audience was an honest-to-god gallerist -- and he said he liked the work!! ! !

he invited me to take a look at his gallery, which meant that i spent several hours there while he explained the work. that he discovers emerging artists. that he's exhibited some of them for 20 years. i didn't love it all, but i loved a lot of it, and it made me realize that what i'm missing in my own work is a handmade component (i mean, this is why i hesitate to call what i do "work" -- it's not work at all. it's just seeing). that what might be most important to a gallery is to have a beautiful OBJECT. this has been troubling me about my "work" anyway -- that right now it is really raw. putting together a book was a step in a certain kind of construction (and also fairly logical, given my background) -- but i need to start thinking in more dimensions --

also a dancer/choreographer who had never liked me much (though i admired and admire him) without my asking at all invited me to his company class and said we should play in the studio. i may have already reported this, since it was mindblowing and exciting. also that he echoed back to me exactly what i had said to someone else about what i wanted from dance now -- which is some way to use what i have learned in a meaningful way -- and that i might have to make the work happen myself, since no one else is going to make it for me --

also i am definitely making a dance for the next salon and i may have engaged a poet (and friend) to play the piano for me.

also i am probably making another dance for another salon and another dancer.

also i am teaching summer school in san francisco.

also i need to follow up on the actual book.


who cares what it's all about

i make plans that aren't promises, and it's wonderful. i came to chicago expecting to pack and leave, to flash by saying hello to a few people and dash away -- and then -- one thing after another -- and yet nothing definite. it's ok.

on opportunity

i have by now done a full cycle of mlas, since i have heard that mla returns to chicago next year. this is the first year since that year (when i hadn't yet published anything or received my degree) that i have had no interviews (significant decline from last year's high of six). i was disappointed -- naturally -- and at this point there is also a great deal of humiliation involved -- but i also see it for what it is -- last year i had too many because (i suspect) i was associated with CI -- this year none at all, which i attribute to the unspoken and sanctioned xenophobia of search committees -- it has nothing to do with my achievements or experiences, since i have more of both this year than last (since, unlike real life, the CV never loses the shine of old acts). so i have been forced into the inconvenience of having to enjoy myself -- and i have -- going to panels, seeing friends, meeting idols, drinking champagne from plastic cups at the book fair.

good things include seeing sbyrne -- we calculated that it had been seven years!! -- and probably fifteen since i'd seen the friend who's generously letting me stay in her apartment. finally met HFT, who spoke at a panel that also included another major academic crush, which was very confusing. hung out on the stairs of the sheraton with the director of the humanities division of the u of c stairs -- which was just totally lovely and wonderful, and he asked me at some point what he could do for me -- and, confused, i said, nothing (which is and isn't true -- i wanted to be friends with him because i liked his face and because he's a photographer -- that he is who he is is already what he "does" for me). had intended to go to the department party, but the way i burst into tears upon being asked (completely innocently) by one of the faculty how my year had been, i decided i couldn't face a room full of people and admit i had had a terrible year and walked away from a practically tenured position.

that was 4am ramblings in boston jan 6-ish. i'm now in chicago, which is unreasonably beautiful and also unreasonably warm for january. the light is incredible -- it's giving me one of the things i love best, the shadows of branches against hard surfaces.

things are different. i can see how if i'd stayed, they would have been the same. i have learned things -- i feel it after all.

i met an old friend, and it was lovely, and she also might have a lead on a job for me to do short term -- and we agreed that it was ok if it didn't work out, and it was also ok if it did and i wanted to leave again after awhile. which i might, unless it is really the kind of job that gives me freedom or satisfaction or both.

i had a longer discussion with same faculty member i had cried in front of -- oddly, he can understand -- he's been to taipei, he's watched a lot of dance. he accused me of writing a "monster" of a dissertation -- i later countered by declaring it was myself that was the monster. he said i was doing things wrong by trying to adhere to the terms of each discipline -- to lean on the authority of the professions instead of using all of the things i know. he asked the old question, why don't you write about dance? but to me that is not an interesting question. i'd rather dance about writing. why do i have to keep explaining that dancing is something you do, and writing is something you do not do, but both are ways of understanding? he also asked me why i wasn't dancing or starting my own company -- to that, well... anyway, i offered him a print of one of my photos, and he asked for two, and he even asked me to sign the one i had on hand, which was funny.

then i went to ballet class -- a teacher who's known me for many years -- and i felt different about her class (which, understandably, was dialled down for post-holiday easing and the people who came) -- and i also felt that maybe i hadn't lost as much as i feared in terms of strength, etc. let's face it, meditation is boring. standing in one place is boring. stretching is boring. i would never do any of it if someone or something didn't make me. it's changed my approach, and that's a good thing.

i haven't integrated the things i know or experience because i haven't figured out how, mostly. and because the authority of professions seems to be absolute, when of course i'm able to see the weaknesses and flaws, and these frustrate me. and because i partly enjoy my multiple personalities, though it can be exhausting. i don't know.

on the nature of things magical

dear universe, i apologize for being the meanest grumpiest gloomiest unfriendliest bitterest unbeliever of late. i just returned from taiwan a few days ago. taiwan was supposed to be a time of great productivity. i was going to become perfectly chinese and perfectly american and intuit a history of which i have no understanding and become hyperliterate, aesthetically and socially and literally. i was going to write a novel and also prove the burnish of my advanced degree by playacting in the role of one who had acquired the presumed title of success (knowing full well that it didn't mean a goshdarned thing to me). i was also going to attain complete emotional independence, lose ten pounds, and win the lottery (no, really, i was pretty sure -- every sales receipt in taiwan is a lottery ticket).

that was before i thought i would also certainly win a fellowship to a top academic think tank that would pay me to do nothing but ruminate and write and join a dance company that would be spiritually and intellectually fulfilling --

and dress with quirky and elegant panache daily --

and master the ashtanga primary yoga series --

and and and and and --

right. this is why i don't get to make resolutions. i'm a big, no good, horrible failure at everything -- EVERYTHING -- i intend to do (repeat and repeat and repeat). also it's fucking pathetic that i cry all the time.

anyway. i flew back, finally, every minute creeping its miserable latitude. i probably ought to say a few things about my last hours in taipei -- for instance, that my chair, who had suggested the day before that i say goodbye to her at noon did not show because (i found out after waiting some time) she had scheduled another meeting then. i hated dancing even the last time in that dingy tiny room with not one drop of inspiration, music, daring in it. i didn't get any of the reimbursements i had been promised, such as the mri i had to pay for out of pocket because a full-time professor doesn't get health insurance when bureaucracy + human resources can't be bothered. the fact is, people can't be bothered about anything, pretty much, even for someone in their crappy little department who publishes in internationally known journals AND spends weekends taking her students in small groups on field trips to art museums. i said to the office staff that i'd be back, that this was not goodbye -- but it was. i'm done waiting for you, taiwan (it was galling that *i* was the one who had to ask the dept chair to meet with me about my resignation, that i was the one who had to persistently inquire about whether there was paperwork involved, etc. if i hadn't, i could have just absconded with a laptop (you know, precious university property) and maybe they'd be begging me to sign the forms and i wouldn't and they would have to keep paying me my allotment of peanuts into my stupid post office account that of course i cannot access except in person (which also means that i had to leave my atm card with someone who will withdraw my last salary in cash to wire to me from a bank). and so on. (i say this, and yet the very last class i taught -- my students wrote me the most charming, sincere, agrammatical letters you could imagine. fully 10% must have said that they could not understand anything i said in class. many apologized for not coming, sleeping in class, texting in class, and not being hardworking enough. and many more said that they had never had a teacher like me -- that they learned that art was all around them -- that they had learned so much (yet, judging from the letters, had they?)... it was painful but right that they were the only ones who made me feel that i hadn't wasted a year.

my resignation letter was two lines long.

my clairvoyant cousin channeled for me last night. who knows if it is real? it's probably only real if you want it to be. he said that nothing had been wasted. he said that the divine in us was our love and creativity. more valuable -- most valuable -- was that we stayed up until almost 6am talking talking talking. i've had such a dearth of words.

today i was the bitchy wallflower at a new year's party, hunched over a coffeetable book of magritte rather than talking to anyone. when i decided i would cram some food into my ungracious maw, an old man came and spoke to me. he said he loved english majors because they were "sensitive poetic people." he said he was a composer of "emotionally connected" music. only my ingrained respect for the elderly prevented me from rolling my eyes severely. he said i should come over and he would improvise a song for me on any three notes i wanted. he made me tell my parents before i went with him. he said he felt sure something unexpected and wonderful would happen. i said i was sure my expectations were impossibly high. his friend eugene, a russian movie producer, arrived. i sat on the floor and he chided me, so i moved to the couch. and he played a piece that i wouldn't have liked or thought of, since it was cinematic and kind of mainstream, but it was definitely from the part of the movie i would have cried at, and i cried. and i felt that i had been wound tight and crusted over, and something like sincerity, even hokey sincerity, could pierce through. he asked me about my poetry, and i showed him the one about astronomy, and he (without reading it first) immediately began to score it as a song -- which i realized when listening it was definitely not meant to be -- at least not the normal kind of optimistic ballad that he started it as. (eugene said it was cerebral). he hugged me tight and kissed my hand and said we should get together again. i'm pretty sure that is the only time anyone has ever kissed my hand.

i need to trust strangers more. i need to expect less from those i know. oh, i don't know. maybe there's not a system to things ever. i feel grateful for today.

(no subject)

when does depression stop being a mood and start being who you are?
what is this for, these months?
i never used to drink, but i drank 3 liters of liquor this year and now i'm trying not to drink anymore (aided mostly by no longer having any more to drink), but i must be an alcoholic by now because i am jittery without it.

BLAH, ok, wallow away, stupid boring depressed self/thanks, saved lj draft. Today i am feeling, for the first time in months, Not Depressed. That is, I did not cry today. I feel awake (maybe a little too awake). It's 30 days before I leave this country, and I packed a bag that I will no doubt unpack again. Of course I am wondering what it is all for, as I do over and over again because I am a Ruminant. Today I took six students to an art gallery after class (I am leaving early, you know, because the semester actually ends Jan 18 -- field trips with students are one way that I am making up for missing 2 weeks of teaching) -- spent the better part of an hour talking about a few cardboard boxes with them. One kid wanted to know if I had a boyfriend. Ha. (But why is that necessarily off limits when in the course of teaching languages, one is constantly asking students to reveal the details of their private lives?)

I asked them if they had ever been outside of Taiwan, and most of them said no... one girl said she had been to Green Island -- which is... part of Taiwan. And I realized (as I often do when talking with my students) that I have lived a life of total privilege (and as usual how dare I ever be unhappy, when I have had everything anyone could ever want?).

Our department had a conference a few days ago, while everyone in America was having Thanksgiving. This was an oddly wonderful way to spend those days. It was the most English I had heard continuously for the entire length of time I've been here -- also the most extended actual talk about literature -- and for that reason alone it was refreshing, even though I was basically semi-comatose and spent every minute not physically in the conference room sobbing my eyes out on the floor of my apartment. I presented old work, which made me feel guilty. I haven't been productive, which is the worst absolute worst worst worst sin. But they liked it. Actually, five people have asked me for copies of the paper -- including one of the keynote speakers, who actually took me aside after the conference and told me it was my VOCATION to write (i have very mixed feelings about this because i think at one point it was very much a part of my identity, until being silent and dead to the world took that place; also, he did not know it was old work i was presenting, so anything he had to praise was for a younger different person -- if anything, i do not WANT to die a person who was only "full of potential" because that is just pathetic).

I have a lot of guilt about leaving. I have lived in my beautiful cage without suffering anything that wasn't invented in the sick brew of my own head.

also today I saw a mass of people I know winning NEA grants. and I am truly delighted and happy for them. These are people who weren't afraid to do the work that they thought was worth doing, which is something I have never been able to feel about myself.