Down in the doldrums again.

Down in the doldrums again. Sometimes, when things are working, life seems to make such perfect sense, and you know that even the peasant slaving away in the dusty field or the beggar clanging his bowl of pennies year after year at the same exact spot by the footbridge in Causeway Bay — even they have something wonderful to live for, some light that shines in their life and brings just enough magic to their seemingly drab existence.

Today, that light is out for me. I have to face the fact that I made a fundamental error: I should not have moved to China. No, it has nothing to do with the weather, the elevators, the bad driving, the too-spicy food, the loneliness, the broken ATMs and perennial banking debacles, the traffic, the customer service, the language, the government, the Internet blackouts, the bad TV shows, the shabby infrastructure, the miseries of China’s gays, the daily breakdowns, the high price of coffee, the media’s pretense that everybody is happy, the lines or the noise or the pollution — none of these things.

It’s that I am in a job that cannot fulfill my need to be “creative,” to come up with new ideas, to write and interact and make a difference. I was able to do that in Hong Kong for a simple reason: English is a primary language there. There are so many English-language media in Hong Kong and they all need materials in English, and I helped to meet those needs. Here there is virtually no such need, and my love for words, for writing, for communicating — it is all irrelevant. I am suddenly an administrator and not an artist. (I don’t know how much of an artist I ever was, but at least when I write I feel impassioned and “in touch” with something that I like to believe is an artistic instinct or talent.)

I have thought about giving my notice, but that is not a decision to be made on impulse. The job market in my area is tight, and some people would kill for my job. My “reasonable” voice tells me to stick it out for a full year, my passionate voice tells me to give my notice today.

I could deal with a joyless job and stifled creativity if there weren’t one more thing in my life that is missing. Far away from here, in a city sitting in the midst of a vast American desert, is a young man I never see anymore, someone whose voice and whose memory are with me virtually all of the time. We have been apart for more than two years with only very occasional reunions that always seem to evaporate even as they are starting. It is his memory that makes it all but impossible for me to tolerate my present situation, especially at moments like these when all the lights seem to be extinguished. What am I doing here? At least in Hong Kong, where I was writing every day and really making things happen, I felt a sense of purpose and value. Right now that’s not the case, and it makes my sadness over being separated from my friend of many years more painful.

I really do not know what I can do. I have learned always to wait at least a few days before making drastic decisions. And I certainly feel like making a drastic decision now.

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