Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Utah  §

© 2011 Aron Hsiao

The Local Culture, Part I

We were invited to a barbecue by our next door neighbor, nice enough guy, who says he wants to welcome us to the neighborhood. He’s pretty insistent—”Please come!” he says, over and over, and it stops by several times in the days beforehand to ensure that we turn up.

On the day of, we arrive to find a packed backyard. Right after “Hello, Aron!” he asks, “So what religion are you?” When he introduces the crowd, it turns out that it’s his church group, who have been invited for us. He speaks, telling us that he knows that “the church” is true, then introduces us to the crowd:

“Everyone, these people are non-members. So please, fellowship them. Visit their door often. See how they are doing. Tell them about your beliefs. Bring them into the fold. Oh, and dig in, everyone.”

Amongst the crowd are multiple missionaries, members of the lay clergy, and all of the neighbors around us (all members of the dominant faith here).

A Utah welcome.

— § —

The Local Culture, Part II

A man comes to our door today, introduces himself, and tells us he is running for city council. His big schtick? He is a true, far-right conservative and he is the only one running. He is surrounded by progressives! At least three other candidates that are progressives! So it’s imperative that we all pull together as a community to ensure that we don’t end up with progressives running the place.

Given the demographics here, and his clear assumption (though he’d never met us before) that we were true, far-right conservatives like him, I highly doubt three or more actual progressives have emerged from the woodwork to run for city council.

If they have, I don’t suppose (again, demographics in mind) they have a chance in hell of winning, anyway.

— § —

The New Yorker that arrived today has a sketch on its cover of the exact view from the subway platform I used to wait on every morning at 125th Street and Broadway.

It made me instantly nostalgic.

— § —

Tonight, feeling increasingly overwhelmed, I resurrected my task list. It was about time. Task lists disappear or go to sleep when one moves, but eventually they always have to come back again.

The task list is right now longer than it’s ever been before in my life, even at the height of things in New York while teaching five courses and working multiple jobs. I don’t quite know what to make of that.

What I do know is that a lot of things simply aren’t getting done because it’s humanly impossible to do them. The solution (if you can call it that) is simply to prioritize.

In practice right now, this means drawing a line between things that “get done today,” things that “get done eventually” and things that “probably won’t ever get done” (but that last designation is unofficial).

The overriding heuristic is a regrettable one: “Can this person or these people hurt us or negatively impact our future? No? Then ignore the promise that you made to them; they are expendable.”

This is not my nature. But right now the ruthless “juggling and management of priorities” (keyword: ruthless) is absolutely necessary simply in order to survive the moment.