Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Year in review  §

Okay. Things are bad. Attitudes are bad. We have been in a downward spiral, paralyzed, falling apart. I don’t know if we’re “coming out of it” or if we’re just having a moment where we realize that there may still be hope in the world. But in the interest of knowing just what we’re dealing with, it’s time to review what’s gone on to get us here.

  • Our income in April fell by 90 percent through no fault of our own; everyone was let go.

  • We hit a personal-political obstacle in our Ph.D. program that appears to be insurmountable; the degrees are, for the moment, effectively stalled by ego and others’ self-interest.
  • Economy takes a dump and students start de-enrolling at universities. We lose 50 percent of our teaching load at least, and another 50 percent of our income.
  • The visa deadline(s) approach rapidly with no solution in sight.
  • We find out that there are laws on the books in many of the most promising locales around the world that prevent us from moving there with our dog.
  • We find that in most of the others, fees for applying to go are tremendously high, and in many places, insurmountable legal barriers also appear to be present.

In short, time is running out on us. Only one of us can legally work outside of teaching. The economy is pounding teaching like a tsunami against a wood hut. We are running into dangerous financial waters. Meanwhile, we must emigrate. Emigrating costs money, first just to try to get permission to go somewhere (many thousands) and then to actually move. Getting permission for most places looks iffy. Even if we managed to somehow get permission, afford everything, and move, we’d start out jobless.

We are unhappy and have bad attitudes because we have been royally screwed. No wonder we’re not happy.

The question is what to do next. Possibilities:

  • Find another school, a lower-end school that will be so happy to have us that they will extend visas and offer funds indefinitely until we can actually get our degrees.
  • Move somewhere immediately and start over in a new life with new careers and life goals. Leverage whatever funds are still available to us to make an “escape” and hope that we can find work. This limits choices radically, basically to bad options where it’s not clear what we’d do, how we’d fulfill our financial obligations, or whether we’d both even speak the language—but anywhere is better than here, it sometimes seems.
  • Stoically continue to do what we’re doing knowing that time is going to run out on us in very, very bad ways, crossing our fingers in the meantime while hoping that things will suddenly change for some reason and it will all work out—knowing all the while that if it doesn’t our lives are basically over.
  • Split up and go in different directions. One of us goes one place, another goes another, and we plan to reunite in the future, when conditions are favorable (whenever that is).
  • Win the lottery.
  • Break the law.

Not a good set of options. Is everyone in this kind of shape right now around the world, or is it mostly just us? I wish I knew. If we’re going to be living in misery we’d at least like some company.

The big question is: which option will it be? I mean, if you had to choose from amongst these, what exactly would you choose? How does one even go about weighing these options? What are the criteria involved? What are the ultimate values from which we ought to work?

It seems to be a distinct possibility that we are not going to “make it” in one way or another, depending on how “make it” is defined.

Meanwhile, life at home has not been easy recently. I hope we can change that, because the atmosphere is making it difficult to confront all of these problems with a clear head, which in turn almost guarantees that we won’t be able to solve them.

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