Friday, May 18, 2012

Neither East Nor West

Dear Reader(ship),
To quote the now late Christopher Hitchens, who himself was quoting the very late Mark Twain: reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.
It wasn't my intention to kill off Expatriate Act with some drunkenly transcribed Dylan lyrics, but they were all I could muster at the time. I'd long since run out of good things to say about China; it was a mutual breakup, but certainly not an amicable one. To have wrapped things up in a neat and nostalgic little prose package would've been untrue and anyhow, I wasn't in the mood for writing by then. I was in the mood to get the hell out of China and to never again set foot in the developing world so long as I lived. 
So much for that.
Sometime in January, I may have mentioned to you that I was bound for Georgia. Perusing my inbox four months later, it seems that I failed more often than not to specify exactly which Georgia. At any rate, I did mention to most of you that I'd be writing about my travels again, which must have led to at least some speculation that I would be kicking off my very own Atlanta Falcons fanblog.
But to quote my own late ass: reports of my resurrection were a wee bit premature.
When first I arrived in Georgia, I had every intention of picking up where I'd left off writing-wise, making sure to skip over the nasty in-between parts re: leaving China, re: attempting to survive in America, and especially re: my short-lived speechwriting career on The Hill. The plan was to write about life in Georgia: The Country. The trouble with that, you see, was the part where I actually had to write about life in Georgia: The Country whilst living in Georgia: The Country.
Firstly (and most horrifyingly, my brothers), I live in a village of some 300 souls, most of whom share the same last name, none of whom have access to the internet. If you are reading this in America, or Bolivia, or Djibouti, or pretty much anywhere that isn't rural Georgia, there is probably quite literally more internet going on in your pants pocket than there is within a five mile radius of where I live.
Exiled from interconnectedness, whatever I write these days feels somehow stripped of immediacy. I have been writing without the electric momentum/slight panic one experiences knowing that one's writing can and eventually will be published instantaneously. Things get half-written, then sit on the shelf waiting for a time in the distant future when maybe, just maybe, I will be near enough to a semi-functional computer with a dial-up modem and not too much human semen between the home row keys and perhaps, just perhaps ... But once something I've written has been collecting dust that long, and after I've jumped through that many hoops to post it, a gloomy sense of what's-the-fucking-point descends upon me and I decide not to post anything at all.
This is also not an easy country in which to write. Or at least: I have not found my situation terribly conducive to writing. I live with a host family, and Georgian families tend to be very familiar. The Western notion of "alone time" strikes Georgians as conspicuously fruity and new age as a concept, and morally perverse when enjoyed in moderation. It is exceeding rare that I can lock myself in my room long enough to eke out a paragraph. At half-hourly intervals, my host mom comes pounding at the door, clamoring for me to eat. Or my host brother comes pounding at the door, clamoring for me to play indoor basketball with him. Or my host sister comes pounding at the door, clamoring in general. And I'm usually too nice to keep myself to myself. On the odd occasion that I really put my foot down and bolt the door shut, I start to feel like a hermit, or a pervert, or a pretentious hermit pervert asshat. So being alone – something I enjoy – winds up making me feel shittier than being surrounded by droves of noisy people – something I hate. This is what happens when collectivism and Catholic guilt collide.
In Georgia, I have found myself increasingly estranged from my primary muse: capital-A German Angst. I was able to write regularly in China because I had no shortage of things to be pissed off about; I could list them here, but that's what I spent the past two years doing. Georgia is almost tranquil to a fault. The scenery, at least in the countryside, is indescribably lovely – though describe it I will in due time. The villagers are, as you might expect, down to earth and omnipleasant. And for what it's worth, I am comfortable, underworked, overpaid, and overfed. I even have access to free health care, something that has also figured into my inability to write.
About a month ago, I broke my left wrist. I won't tell that story now, but will save it for later, for a time when my writerly bowels have regained some semblance of bullshit regularity. Suffice it to say that typing blog posts one-handed isn't something I've attempted since I was 14 and owned a LiveJournal account. Even now, having finally regained the ability to flip a flaccid bird and a feeble thumbs-up, typing is a chore, one that, when combined with the aforementioned lack of privacy/lack of Angst/lack of internet trifecta, makes the what's-the-fucking-point variable very, very hard to divide and conquer.
But I've made it this far. And if I can get the provincial cigarette distributor to give my gimp ass a lift into town this weekend, I will have made my triumphant return to the blogosphere. What a crummy word that is. Blogosphere.
So what will happen next is this: we will engage in an act of not-very-exciting time travel. I will go back and spit shine what I have written about my first two-odd months in Georgia, then regurgitate it at weekly intervals as though it is occurring in the present tense: what happens next week will have happened my first week, and so on. Then, if all goes well, figuring in my current level of sloth, the past will eventually catch us up with the present, and then we can proceed into the future as if nothing ever happened. Until my host mom finagles a way of mounting a wi-fi hotspot to the family cow, this is how things will have to go for a while. Her name is Jurga, by the way. The cow, I mean.
Warm regards,
- Petit

1 comment:

erin said...

bah! welcome back(ish).