amateur gypsy (wystel) wrote,
amateur gypsy
wystel

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.
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