Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

When you don’t like the things other people do, it’s hard to find activity partners.  §

So, first Saturday in 2018:

  • Binge-watched 13 Reasons Why on Netflix
  • Cleaned the house enough to raise the standard of the environs from “disaster” to “acceptable”
  • Reassembled Oki color laser that is now a parts unit after I scored a new one on eBay for peanuts
  • Drank about six liters of a mix of unsweetened tea and diet soda
  • Reflected on the fact that I’m not doing any of the things that I planned to do
  • Went to Walgreens to buy more drinks, saw none of the college students I flirt with just for fun
  • Put off responding to a bunch of personal communication because I haven’t felt like it, as usual
  • Worried some about a friend who is going through a tough time
  • Got older by a day

In not-so-long I’m probably going to climb back into the car and drive down the other side of the hill to the 24-hour supermarket to get dishwasher detergent.


© Aron Hsiao / 2018

But I don’t want to go yet because it’s too early, I’d rather go sometime after midnight. I’m not sure why. It’s that night owl thing. If I could afford a therapist, I think it would be amusing just to go for a long time and ask about why I do a lot of the things that I do, and see what they said, or what questions they could ask me in turn to help me to understand myself better.

But I can’t, so I won’t.

— § —

I have a few friends that live about a day’s drive from me. I don’t see them all that much.

They’re always inviting me to come out and visit and have a drink and so on, but I just don’t want to. I don’t want to arrive at their place, then visit for one or worse several days, then return. I’d rather text or talk by phone.

Now I would enjoy it if one of them would meet me halfway somewhere. I drive toward them, say, 400 or 500 miles, and they drive toward me 400 or 500 miles, and we meet at a diner in the middle somewhere, say in a little berg that neither of us knows all that well. We pick “local color” looking spot and have lunch and a drink and a few laughs. Then, maybe an hour and a half or two hours later, we both get back into our respective cars and drive home.

I’d do that in a heartbeat. Sadly, that’s not the sort of thing that anyone else seems to want to do. It seems to be a common feeling that there’s more value to a visit if someone flies in and then back out again, staying for days at least in the meantime. That’s to maximize the “together” time, regardless of what we end up doing.

As much as I love friends, I absolutely hate dropping into other peoples’ lives and being dragged around for a couple of days. Their activities are not my activities. It’s usually boring and full of people that I don’t know. As it happens, we make chit-chat that we could also have made by phone, and in the mornings we have to do breakfast at their place. I can’t think of anything more dismal than that.

For just about everyone else, it seems that the point of friendship is to “be together” as you do some things or other things, with the particular things being of secondary importance. I go the other way, really—if there’s a togetherness component to friendship, it’s to “do certain cool things” while together.


© Aron Hsiao / 2005

The meet-in-the-middle adventure is my sort of thing. I used to do it all the time—pick a spot on the map about half a day’s drive away, drive there, get lunch by myself, and drive back. I think it would be great to do that with a friend. In general, my amusement with the conceptual and the absurd remains.*

To date, I don’t really have any friends that share that with me.

* As an aside, this was among the sad, extended arguments that I had with my ex-wife before we got divorced. She wanted to do something big for my 40th birthday and asked that I choose. I kept choosing things that were interesting to me, that were I suppose, conceptual and absurd (though other words for such things could be, say, “adventurous” or even “curious”). She grew more and more upset over many days, imagining that I wasn’t taking her seriously and was deliberately proposing shitty options, I suppose to insult her or something. And I absolutely did not want to fly to some resort or other and sit in a hot tub and eat $60 steaks and drink wine. We never settled on a plan beforehand; the differences were—say—irreconcilable.

— § —

I don’t generally watch much television (or whatever you can call it these days—”streaming video” seems far too technologically precious). My list basically includes:

  • The Grand Tour
  • Intelligence Squared US
  • PBS Frontline
  • Appearances by Camille Paglia and Jordan Peterson

The last “other” thing that I watched was the Gilmore Girls reunion series, which I found unsatisfying. But I enjoyed 13 Reasons Why very much. I’m not sure about the reasons, precisely. Probably this merits some self-reflection… which isn’t going to happen. Oh well.

— § —

Everyone is an accumulation of all the people that they’ve been—the children that they’ve been and the teens that they’ve been and the twenty-somethings that they’ve been and so on.

Therapists talk of people getting “stuck” at certain stages of development and having, in a way, gaps in their aggregate. Someone that got “stuck” at age five, for example, due to childhood abuse may be a perfectly functioning thirty-year-old and also a child of ages up to and including five—but the levels of development of the intervening years are all missing. It’s as though if life is a class, they were absent for most of the material that happened between five and thirty.

I seem to have all of my bits of education and development except those in my late twenties and thirties. My aggregate includes all of my childhood versions and my teenaged versions and a good number of twenty-something versions, but they disappear sometime before I’m twenty-six or twenty-seven and there’s not much after that until the present, at forty-two.

Am I perceiving things right? Hard to say. If I am, what is it that caused my development and learning to taper off for my late twenties and throughout my thirties? Hard to say. Like I said, someday, if I could afford therapy…

But in any case, it’s safe to say that while there is a kid and a teenager and a twenty-something and a forty-something sitting in this room, there is not a hint of any thirty-something here. It’s as though I was never thirty-anything. Those ages and that stage of life mean nothing to me.

Maybe that’s what graduate school does to you, who knows. In any case, that’s all over.

— § —

Tomorrow I’ll wake up, do some more cleaning, and then get busy with all of the personal communication I’ve been putting off.

It’s never that hard once I get rolling, but when it comes to getting started responding to email, texts, voicemail, and so on, I’m one of the world’s great procrastinators—and I’m fairly sure that’s why I like email, texts, and voicemail so much—because they enable me to put conversations, even pleasant ones, off for a while.

Always has been thus. Probably always will be.

— § —

There’s a part of me that wants to binge-watch Northern Exposure. I have the complete series here, and I haven’t watched it in years.

There’s another part of me that’s putting that off, because for me, watching Northern Exposure is a bit like taking tough questions from a therapist. Which is probably why I should watch it. And probably why I won’t.