Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

long post  §

There are too many decisions to be made, and too many ways in which my preferences in any combination of them are irreconcilable and contradictory. At play:

**The job/career.** What am I doing? Where am I going? I am leaving a lot behind (yet again). I have said that too many times in my life now. Soon it will be time for me to stop leaving things behind. I am getting too old to keep starting yet never finish. Am I working on another job? Am I a freelance writer again, and can I do it at a livable level this time? Am I once again the same anti-careerist I was when I was younger, satisfied to earn nothing, have nothing, and build nothing? In reality, I will likely take whatever happens and make it mine, but I can’t help but think that as a result I will be here once again in very short order.

**Living arrangements.** Where? With my girlfriend? I hope so. But I don’t know if it’s workable. We don’t like the same places. We’re two “young adults” (aging every day) trying to build something for ourselves. In our capitalist world, it may be that individuals are incidental and careers are real. If that’s the case, I’m not sure I want to participate in society any longer. If we just no-plan it and end up in the first place where one of us finds something that works, the other is going to be compressed until they find something to do, then eager to leave when they find it (as it won’t necessarily, or even likely, be in the same place). Even if it was just up to me, what do I want? The woods or the high-rise? I’m torn. I’m torn between motorhomes and subways and feel as though I won’t be satisfied unless I have both. And of course, even alone, I couldn’t. It’s not possible.

**Academics.** Dovetailing with the career question is the question of academics. Do I really want to go back? Of course, I say I do all the time, and I do, but that desire has more to do with my distaste for the rest of reality and the marketplace than my love of and for the academy. That isn’t the right motive. I know it, and I’ve heard it from dozens of people dozens of times. I won’t be particularly fulfilled as a professor, but it seems to me that I have a very good chance of being forever forcefully unfulfilled as anything else. Still, there are things that seem attractive to me. Journalism, writing, photography, travel, diplomacy, all of which are extremely difficult to break into. More to the point, they all require a measure of permanent nomadism and homelessness to which I don’t object per se, but which all conflict quite spectacularly with some of the other things (i.e. a home, a nearby significant other, a nearby network of friends) that I desperately want.

**Money.** Can I even afford to think about any of this right now, or should I simply be moving to the cheapest city I can find, locating any roommate who will have me, and getting a job at a Hollywood Video? Could I stand to do that very long, though? Wouldn’t I just quit a moment later as the result of my dissatisfaction and the degree to which it conflicts with everything else I want? And wouldn’t I then be returned immediately to where I am now? So it seems that I should think about the other issues right now. But in the meantime, money threatens to derail, or at least to traumatize, everything else in my life: my academic ambitions, my living arrangements, my relationships.

And of course through it all there are the difficulties of interpersonal relationships and the fact that ultimately every man is an island, desperately trying to cling to others in the vast and brutal sea beyond the reef.

Everything is pressing on me, and I don’t want to face it. I feel like personal catastrophe is seeping in around the edges and I am powerless to stop it. Maybe in a year I’ll be in jail for one reason or another and won’t have to think about anything other than eating three squares a day and watching daytime television from my cot, reading long novels in the evenings. Right now that doesn’t sound so bad. In fact, it sounds like heaven.