Monday, September 24, 2012

And Then You Smack into an Ironing Board . . .

I often suspect that many people believe if they were to cut me open, they would locate a Chinese book where a heart ought to be, a sheaf of history monographs where a brain ought to reside, and, most definitely, clumsiness in place of all the other essentials . . . and I bristle about it.  Perhaps I ought to switch to decaf.

After 28 years of it, I'm used to my clumsiness and the oafish way in which I walk/stumble about . . . but lately, it has really irritated me.  I'm tired of being that person, the court jester of bruises.  Ordinarily I laugh or shrug those stumblings and bangings and tumblings away . . . but lately, I've gotten annoyed instead.  I don't want to see those antsy looks on Chinese friends' faces each time I approach a staircase, or a crack in the sidewalk.  I don't want students to hold their breath every time I walk past an extension cord.  I don't want to approach the steps getting off the bus with trepidation each day, wondering whether or not I am about to plummet to the ground in an unladylike heap.  I don't want to fear the rug that gleefully lies in wait for me in front of the main entrance of the secondary school building.

"Why," I ask the walls, the sidewalk, the sea, or even the trees (those wretched, ugly new ones that were controversially planted months ago at great expense and still can't stand up straight), whichever inanimate or animate object that happens to witness my latest escapade, "Why is it always me?  Can't someone else do the tripping and slipping or the smashing and crashing for a bit?  Can't I just have a moment of gracefulness in an entire lifetime of black eyes, sprains, scrapes, burns, scratches, inexplicable harm from seemingly-innocent objects --"

Yesterday, the universe replied.  As I reflected on my own clumsiness, I tripped over the doorway whilst carrying an ironing board and got hit in the eye with the leg of it.  Second black eye of 2012 . . . I'm choosing not to count the almost-black-eye back in July.  As I commented to my roommates, "Usually when I get a black eye --" one of them interrupted, remarking, "Very few people would start a sentence that way - I don't think black eyes are usual for most people."  I sighed, and chose to force a laugh, though inwardly I just wanted to . . . well, punch myself, but that would only have given me another black eye.  It's tiresome being me.

Today I fell down the stairs again.  I guess it's nice that now my left eye and my left ankle can color-coordinate.

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"