Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Differentiating between wins and losses at 3:00 AM  §

So it’s 3:00 in the morning and I’m just finishing up work for the day.

Work that, in fact, isn’t done and could stand to go on quite a bit longer.

— § —

All of this ought to have been done earlier, only I fell asleep in the early evening unintentionally, and others around me thought it would be nice to “let me sleep.”

If only that were the case.

Instead, it strikes fear into my heart.

— § —

Even though it may at times right now feel as though we’re “stable” and “have made it” for a while, events of the last several days like this one remind me of just how unstable the economy is right now, and just how unstable and subject to immediate and catastrophic revision my current work life is.

Like so many else in the new “flexible” economy, my career feels as though it is on borrowed time every single day, and every single step feels as though it could be the difference between work and no work, between having a contract and losing it.

Wife is convinced that this would change with employment-based work and contract work. I’m not so sure any longer. I think those days are gone. We live in an at-will state.

At least with contract work you can keep multiple sources of income coming in. Lose one, still have the rest. It’s like the new, 21st century version of the insurance policy.

— § —

Tomorrow (well, today, once I wake up again after 2-3 hours of sleep) is the last day of the semester at one school (the one at which I’m teaching in person). This marks the end of seven years as a university instructor, and one more final exam that I’m giving to a room full of students.

At some point, when it’s not 3:00 in the morning or afterward, I feel as though I’d like to write at more length about this, reflect on it, chew it over for myself in writing.

Because seven years is a big chunk of your life, particularly for something as liminal as adjunct teaching is. It is both the center of your life and a barely noted or notable part of it. The first identity that people care about (“Oh, you teach at university?!”) and the last thing able to actually help pay any bills.

And the number of people and places that sail through your field of vision and with whom you form actual relationships as a result is unique amongst jobs.

— § —

Dissertation draft has finally been submitted, too. Defense is likely to be scheduled in May.

And then what?

Hard to say.

— § —

And O— will soon be out of diapers. and M— is emerging into schoolkidness.

— § —

It’s all very liminal.

They say that life happens in stages. I don’t know if stages telescope or not. In some ways, I want to know, to frame theoretically, for myself, what stage I’ve been in recently.

For 11 years now I’ve been in the “graduate student” stage.
For 8 years now I’ve been in the “New School” stage.
For 6 years now I’ve been in the “student with no actual coursework, working on dissertation” stage.
For 4 years now I’ve been in the “New Parent” stage.
For 3 years now I’ve been in the “Just moved to Utah” and “full time consultant” stages.

But I’ll be damned if I’m not just tired of all of these stages. With some of them falling away, what I want is a reckoning, a way to get beyond, a resurrection or a new slate of some kind, tabula rasa.

— § —

I’d meant to steal a few moments for myself, say from 1:00 AM to 2:00 AM this morning, to sit down and make notes about these things, to chew them over in writing.

But since I fell asleep from 8:00 to midnight instead of working then, I ended up working from midnight until now (with more to be done, though I’m not going to finish it tonight), and—as always—me will have to wait.

They say that your life passes you by that way.

But it’s hard to see how to avoid that eventuality in practical, everyday, trying-to-get-by life.