Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Monthly Archives: May 2005

can someone tell me if this is apathy or not?  §

I’m tired and perhaps even, when I think about it, surprisingly apathetic — I think. I have more closed entries in my blog over the last three weeks than open ones. Gone are the days when I felt as though I had something insightful or creative to say here. Now there’s nothing but the same old nonsense, recycled every six hours before being put on ice, in part because everyone’s heard it before and in part because it’s still more than I feel safe saying out loud.

All of my days now have begun to seem the same; life feels very settled in its unsettledness and all of the the images since Chicago are now blurring together. The road, the white carpet in my parents house, the road, the trailer at night, the road, the white carpet in my parents house, the road, the trailer at night, some pages, the road, the white carpet in someone else’s parents house, the porch at night, some pages, the road, the white carpet in my parents house, the bridge at night, the road, the white carpet in someone else’s parents house, some pages, the white carpet in my own interim house, the steps at night, some pages…

There’s more to say, but as has been the case for so many months now, it won’t be said, because there really isn’t more to say.

I can’t hear the ocean from here. I’m tempted at midnight to walk through the woods to see if it’s still there, but I’d just get there and stare at it and turn around and come back bewildered and disappointed and unfulfilled to the white carpet and sleep unsoundly and get up in the morning to some pages…

It’s tempting, when everything starts to seem the same and you lose track of everything that grounds you to suggest that there’s nothing worse than days that seem to repeat endlessly during which you don’t really solve anything, but there are things worse than that that you never account for. Do you really want “just a change, any change” if that change ends the repetition only for a moment by making the days worse, then descending back into repetition again in their new, less desirable form?

I have already drank enough to be ill in the morning and smoked enough to be ill in the morning each separately, but I have done them together. I can’t tell any of the important people in my life that I miss them, because that begs the question: if they are following their path, and I am following my path, and those paths do not coincide, what would I change to remedy the situation? Would I force them to deviate from theirs? Would I deviate from mine?

But that line of questioning in turn begs the question: do I have a path?

That I follow?

Or am I making the worst of all decisions by choosing nothing?

i’m fucking miserable  §

What sucks is when there’s nothing to want, when everything you can possibly name is something that you don’t want — even things that you want are things that you don’t want — and you just end up completely hopeless.

not okay, not okay at all  §

It bothers me more than I can possibly explain to have to tell a loved one or a friend, “I can’t talk any longer, I have to get back to work.”

It’s wrong. It’s backward. It’s fscking backward. These are my loved ones and my friends, they are more important to me than any work, I don’t care whether they’re just calling to talk about the color of their shoelaces or the stale ramen they had for lunch. I feel wrong about placing work ahead of relationships, no matter what the reason or context.

In fact, I don’t want to have to do it anymore. This means that I should not place myself in any situation in which the task of prioritizing my time is not mine.

hm  §

Maybe it’s not as easy as all that. I’m sitting here on my lunch break and I’m wishing that everything was different. Because everything sucks and I feel really fscking down for a million reasons and for no reason in particular.

remembering to try to work within my limits  §

1 2 3 4 5

tuesday after memorial day  §

What am I doing with myself?

I have been in full-on self-destruct mode, but no longer. This is ridiculous, and I am changing as of this morning. Things that have been decided:

1. I am an author. I should write more books and stop fscking around.
2. I am an academic. I should read more books and stop fscking around.
3. New York it is, with San Francisco a close second if New York refuses to work.
4. I want to be with my girlfriend for many years and will make that a priority so long as she’s amenable.
5. There is no reason I can’t cope. I’m just being infantile. I am out of self-destruct mode as of now.
6. It is stupid to waste time.

Changes coming.

work week again  §

I feel like ass and I’m ready for a change.

sometimes  §

it’s difficult, for everyone involved

which drug is it, that can be used to forget

not alcohol, not nicotine, I must find it

another important night?  §

Sometimes in my life so far there have been these nights… that seem important. I never quite know why, but it’s like on those nights, something gels in my consciousness and I’m really very aware. Not lucid, necessarily, but aware. Aware of everything, able to see in to my future and my past not just as possibilities or unknowns, but as fait accomplis that vary depending on what I do.

No, it’s not that I don’t know what the term means. I do know. I know it’s a paradox, what I just said. But there’s a very subtle shade of meaning that is only correctly thus described.

I have a real diary, aside from this blog, that I’ve kept for years. Many years. Usually the blog is reserved for rants and anger and cleverness and flippant remarks and poems and the real diary contains long entries in prose, typed while thinking, honest thoughts and remarks and whatever else. Tonight that stuff is going here, I don’t know why.

Or maybe I do. Because it’s another night to be awake, and to remember, and to decide.

There are a lot of things in my life right now that aren’t quite right. The problem is that all of it is supposedly perfect right now, the envy of everyone, and they’re all things that I want and have wanted. I know that doesn’t sound like a problem, but there is an addendum: these things aren’t compatible with one another. Each of them is something very important to me, but each of them is also pulling me in a direction different from the others.

Family. I have lots of siblings and two parents that care. We’ve had our tough times, but the family is still together and still cares about me (and I about them) an incredible amount. When I left for Chicago, I thought to myself: I’m not 17 anymore. I don’t want to get away from this. I did when I was younger, but now I feel like I’m leaving behind a support network of love and caring that most other people would kill for, that most other people won’t ever have or understand.

I couldn’t believe I was leaving my sisters, the most important, reliable, caring people in my life, to go on some silly academic quest that would result in nothing but debt and a degree that I’d make fun of later with rhetorical questions like “What can you do with a degree in English, a degree in Anthropology, and a degree in the Social Sciences?!”

They all live in Salt Lake City, a place I hate. Chances are that that city will always be the nucleus of the family I’m lucky enough to have, the family that others would do anything to have. I know that I can’t go back, I can’t live there, but at the same time, it’s very difficult to cope with a world of people that have no tie to me at all but their current feelings and their current whims.

I know that most people don’t buy the “blood is thicker than water” thing anymore, but it’s also true that most people these days (everyone that I know, with the exception of my best friend) had families that also didn’t buy it, and that dissipated as a result. My family won’t. When I’m 80 years old (if I make it that far), they’ll still be there for me. And if I make it to 80 and I’ve built nothing else, it’ll have been 55 years of my life wasted away from the people that always loved me, with whom I could have shared my time — at least some of it — all along.

My girlfriend. Relationships are important to me. More than they are to most people, I think, and probably more than they are to her. I love her. She’s wonderful. She’s also gone a great deal, will likely not be happy in places where I’m happy, and will be happy in places where I won’t. She’s the most magical person I’ve ever met, and despite the fact that we’ve had our problems, it’s difficult to explain how diluted everyone else — certainly all of the other women I’ve ever met — seem in comparison to her.

I’d love to spend the rest of my life with her. Problem is, I don’t know if she’d love the same thing, or if she’s even capable of understanding such a thing at the level that I feel it.

I’m dying to get back to academics. She’s made a conscious decision to leave them. I’m a ruthless critic of everything, most notably those things that are most unassailable, most noble, because they are also the most dangerous, not only to me, but to the world as a whole. She’s a ruthless idealist, willing to put her beliefs ahead of everything else. That’s incredibly beautiful, and it attracts me and fills me with admiration. It also means that I know that at any given time I’m just as likely to play second or third fiddle to noble ideas as I am to be at the top of her list.

Her discipline and dedication are inspiring. But because they don’t match mine, it’s tough for me to play that role — to know that I can never be the most important thing, and that beyond that, we’ll always have to compromise on so many things.

Academics. It’s a love I came to late in life, but lately it’s been everything that’s kept me going. It’s the one thing that’s under my control, thanks very much to the fact that I’m such a ruthless critic (when combined with the fact that I’m brilliant). I know that if I invest myself in academics and make choices that privelege it, I will do well for myself, be at the top of my field, solidify both my future finances, my future life, and the fact that I will always have people around me that are interested in me — a million prospects for social ties and contribution to society, for the rest of my life.

The certainty of success and the power that it embodies are incredibly seductive, especially in the face of the many other things in my life over which I have no control.

But to pursue academics at this level requires a commitment measured not in months or seasons or even years, but in decades. To decide to pursue it means to decide that everything else must take a backseat. It’s not in my nature. To me, relationships are always the most important thing.

But my family relationships tie me to a place where there is nothing else for me. My love relationships are beautiful and I trust them, but at the same time, they are not full of promises; there is no guarantee of longevity. If I decide to follow relationships for academics, I will always wonder what could have been, and will more than likely regret during many moments of my life, perhaps most importantly the later ones, what is, particularly if I sacrifice academics for relationships that disappear.

But at times I worry that that is what must occur if I privelege academics — because to ask someone else to follow me and my decades while I build the academic person is asking too much of anyone that is special enough for me to want to spend my time with in the first place.

Career. From the time I was a little kid I’ve been making books. I always wanted to be a writer, and later, to be an editor. And I still do. I have finally landed the dream job, the career ladder job, the job that leads me to responsibility and decision-making and an illustrious career in words, in truth-making — a career full of prestige and a decent income and the respect that is afforded to no one else save perhaps but the academics.

If I leave it behind now for academics or relationships, I may never get it back. If I don’t leave it behind now, I have chosen career over everything else, sacrificed everything else for the job. I can’t do that; it’s not enough. That’s not who I am and it’s never been who I am; at my core I am the opposite. The career is simply not enough to make me happy if I have to lose everything else.

But I’m not convinced that I will be happy with everything else, or be able to avoid resenting it, if I have had to sacrifice my career to have it.

Place. Above it all hovers around the question of place. Becuase of the nature of all of these things — family, significant other, academics, career — the question of place is perhaps the largest one. And the trick (and perhaps my largest problem) is that they are all in mutually exclusive places.

Where I go will depend in large part on what I decide to do and what I decide to sacrifice. But I’ve always known and sworn, since I was very young, that place is perhaps the single most important thing in the world to my sanity, above and beyond all else. I always knew I was the person who would choose my place first, before anything else — because my quality of life was so tied up in it — and that once I’d decided on a place, I’d look around me and decide what to do once I was there for good.

But now that view of the world begins to make things around me shimmer, like a mirage; what good is a place without my sisters, or without my girlfriend, or without my ideas, or without my books? What good is any place if it’s just another place, no matter how beautiful or how comforting? In truth, no place can induce enough comfort to offset the pain of a distant family, a lost love, a failed pursuit of the higher mind, or a squandered career. A place is just a venue for bitterness if you can’t have in that place those things that make you who you are.

The places:

Utah, which I hate (but which offers me family)
California, which I hate (but which offers me a girlfriend and a career)
Chicago, which I loved (and which offers me academics)
New York, which I think I will like (and which offers me academics and a career)

Because New York holds the promise of meeting two of the needs that I must meet in order to emotionally survive and want to wake up in the morning — academics and career — in a place that I don’t think I will hate, and because there is some chance that my girlfriend will be willing to live there for some period of time with me, New York has been my tentative decision.

But I know that she doesn’t want to live there for decades, for long enough to match the commitment to the place that I’d be making. I’m all too aware of the fact that in choosing New York, I’d be putting here in exactly the same position that I’m now in. I run the risk of eventually losing once again or at least being very distant for a very long time from all of the love in my life, having to start effectively from scratch in building a circle of support and caring and identity, something that I don’t honestly think I have the strength (or or the will) to do at this point in my life. I’m too old for that. I don’t want to be making friends and getting over loves, I want to be surrounded by love and working on my castles. The prospect of being distant from my family and potentially losing my girlfriend does not feel like it is offset by my expectation of liking the place, or the fact that it is the ideas and books hub of the entire world.

California seems to offer everything except there is one problem: I hate it here. Every time I am here, I make those around me unhappy. I need extra support and extra patience from others to live here, and in the end by drawing that needed energy from those that I love, I risk losing their love anyway — the very love that would be the only reason I ever decided to live here in the first place.

Salt Lake City holds nothing for me, but at least there in my misery I would never lose those that I love, and the place holds a kind of familiarity that will never be matched. Home towns never are. But I hate it there; it would always feel as though I were living an excuse for my life, not my life itself — as if I were there only because I couldn’t face tough decisions and decided instead to crawl back into the womb.

Chicago? Why do I even consider Chicago at this point? Because it is the number once social sciences division in the entire world, and I am a recent alumnus. It is the foundation of a thousand triumphs in a place that holds many fond memories.

I am torn. I have been torn since I left Chicago. I was torn even while I was in Chicago.

I can’t tear parts of my life out like this. I can’t consciously decide to slice my family, my girlfriend, my academics, my career, or my own personal sense of being in a place right out of my life. I can’t do it. I’m not capable.

But I have to do something. I am in full-on self-destruct mode. My lungs hurt. My liver hurts. I cough endlessly and can’t breathe without nasal decongestants because I have a permanent cold thanks to the fact that I get no sleep and am under incredible emotional stress. I spend too much money because it’s the only thing sometimes that makes me feel better once I can’t drink or smoke anymore and can’t make myself lose consciousness in sleep or any other way. I’ve gained ten pounds in two weeks; I’m sure I’ll gain more, something that is compounded by and will compound in many worrisome ways the other things I’m doing to destroy myself.

This entry will probably be gone by sometime tomorrow. If anyone sees it — family, friends, employers, mentors — I’m sorry for the hurt that this must cause you; for the damning accusation implicit in the fact that you alone, whatever part of my life you’re from, are not enough for me — even though at the same time you would never in a million years want to be important enough to me that I sacrificed everything else for you.

Most worrisome of all is the reality that if I choose any one option, it will be under such enormous pressure that it won’t be able to do anything but collapse under the weight.

How can I continue to love and feel content near a family and in a place for which I have given up love, scholarship, and career?

How can any significant other stand up to the pressure of being the object of a desire and trust so strong that family, scholarship, and career were sacrificed for them?

How can any academic success seem worthwhile when you have made yourself ultimately lonely forever, giving up family, love, and the real world in its pursuit?

How can any career not seem like self-delusion when for it you’ve given up the familiarity of home, the joy of love, and the wonder of scholarship?

How can any place seem right or anything other than a temporary imprisonment when it excludes from your life the majority of the things that you live for?

“Don’t you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool by making is world a little colder?”

Maybe UC Berkeley (most tolerable place in California, close-ish to girlfriend’s home, solid academics some publishing, intersection with family) should be my first choice. When I read through all of this and think about it rationally, it seems like the best compromise, the best first choice.

New York could be a close second, if my girlfriend really could feel at home there.

I wonder if she’d ever consider marrying me. I told her once I’d have married her already if I thought she’d have gone along with it. I meant it. I still do.

Am I naive?

Something has to give.

Something has to give.

life  §


it’s gonna be a long summer

the truth  §

Over 100 prisoners have died in United States custody during the “War on Terror.”

Over 100 dead. Just three years.

There are hundreds upon hundreds of additional “ghost prisoners” around the world right now — prisoners who disappeared from their homes, family, and friends, and whose local communities believe them to have been taken in secret by the United States in the “War on Terror,” unofficially and without records.

No-one knows where they are. And of course, we as citizens still don’t have access to the list of who is in our “War on Terror” prisons.

For decades, we accused the Soviets and China because they tortured or caused individuals to “disappear” in the interest of national and domestic security.

Turns out we didn’t really have such a grounding in moral superiority after all. Surprise, surprise.

on the public space  §

So. You hate it when people speak on their cell phone in public. You think it rude. You try to stop them.

Let me explain something to you: when I speak on a mobile phone I have made space in my day, distraction in the midst of my activity, whatever you may think of it, to speak to someone who I more than likely care a great deal about, otherwise I shouldn’t have taken the time to answer the phone.

You, cell phone complainer, I do not care about at all. Beyond the assumptions that can be made about strangers and the fondness that we lack for them, it should be self-evident by the very fact that I took a call in your face that I care about the person making the call more than I care about you.

So what exactly makes you think that I’ll be amused by or accomodating to your indignation at my speaking on a mobile phone in a public place in front of you? It’s public space and you are a worthless stranger to me. Shove it up your ass. The person on the other end of the call is more important than you as far as I’m concerned, and if they begged me to throw my drink on you I might just do that as well, no questions asked. What do I care about your clothes? I don’t even know you.

You have no more right to the air than I do. If you value your precious silence, stay the fuck at home. How dare you come into public space and presume, as a total stranger, to complain at me for speaking to whomever I wish to speak with?

From now on when any of you bothers me, I shall continue to talk loudly and distractedly in your face even after my call is over. If you don’t like it, walk the fuck away. If you demand peace and quiet, go sit in the lavatory, or crawl back into your hole at home and hide under the sheets where you belong.

no good  §

I feel hollow and uncomfortable. I am lonely. The weeks ahead are empty. Life is strange.

the man  §

I’m sad. I’m really sad. So here I sit drowning my sorrows. I won’t do anything tonight, nor will I do anything tomorrow night, nor the night after that, because that would just be too healthy, or too well-adjusted.

I want the abuse of every person who will blame it on me, who will tell me to get off my ass, make a change, take control, grab the reins. I want to be abused. I want to be abused, and I want it purely out of spite.

I want everyone to hate how much I whine and I want everyone to be tired of hearing me. I want to blame the world for never understanding and I want to blame myself for understanding about complaining about the world never understanding.

I want to break the rules, get evicted, fail to turn up, get fired, not make my bills, end up homeless, commit a senseless murder-mugging in broad daylight, get convicted, start a fight with the biggest, meanest person in prison, get beaten to within an inch of my life, leave a hateful note to everyone that ever loved me, and disappear into the ground, hated.

I am underground, underground, underground, underground,


understanding the careerniks  §

I know why people get wrapped up in their careers. It’s because everyone starts out by the time they’re old enough to think like an adult building a hundred things from scratch, knowing that you have to keep a lot of logs on the fire, a lot of plates spinning in the air, because most of them will turn to shit, painfully, no matter what you do. If you get lucky, one or two things won’t. For some people, the thing that doesn’t is the career.

Once you reach a certain age and you’ve started a lot of fires and thrown on a lot of logs and put yourself out there a lot of times and nearly everything has failed to bloom and you can see that half of your life is gone and starting all over again yet again will take half as long again, you decide quickly to stick to what you’ve got — to the things that seem to have worked. You lament the rest of it — a lot — and drink some, but then you go back to what you still have and work on it.

Once you pass that point where you say “there’s a good chance that this is halfway,” you don’t waste your time anymore. You try to maximize your winnings and minimize your failures.