A Note

Just now I dreamt of my mother.

She  is telling me it is time to consider having a child. Of course I know. I am 36, no need to pretend I am forever 29, as western women tend to do. After the age of 30, many western women always reply they are 29. Thirty is a threshold no woman wants to cross over, in social psychology.

I have been wanting to have a child since 2006. But some authorities did not like the idea. They insist I “dedicate myself to their professional accomplishments or glory.”

Of course they get what they want.

I have never realized how boundless the power of an “authority” is until after 2006, here on the American soil.

Back in underdeveloped Chinese days, authorities did not extend their invisible arms into an individual’s life as deep and imperceptible as it is here in the States. Advanced technologies have made the American people’s lives as convenient as can be imagined right now. But any technology is in a sense a double-edged sword. It can be used for its benefits. But it can also be abused.

Technology in itself is neutral. It is the way they are used that makes all the difference. That is what the thinker of Theory of Relativity believed. Nuclear technology, well used and well disposed of, provides much needed energy for a planet depleted of oil over which horrendous wars were fought. But to create nuclear bombs and wipe out the earth is not using it for constructive purposes. Everybody knows that, but many do not care about long term effects. Even state leaders tend to think for the duration of today. Yesterday, some experts said the current financial meltdown of Wall Street, the beachhead of American or international capitalism, was because the bonus of CEOs of those wealth management firms was tied to the amount of sub-prime mortgage loans they pushed through one year. It did not matter those figures did not generate real wealth. As long as those figures looked hugely impressive, they got multi-million dollar bonuses.

Of course those people always have diamond or golden parachutes. Even if the entire Wall Street crumbled, sinking the American economy and the world economy into deep recession, such people’s life is still extremely comfortable. They are always protected in good times and bad. Only those at the bottom suffer appalling conditions that they themselves did not bring onto themselves.

That is the rule. No wonder everybody has to go forward and grow as fast as you can and as big as you can to avoid being eaten.

I subscribe to that rule. I put everything I have into everything I do. But then there was a backlash. I went too fast and many around me became so angry so many undercut me in as any way possible.

Even former allies turned against me, even though I keep stressing it promotes the interests of both sides, by both sides I mean mine and his, not to severe the ally. So far it hasn’t worked. I have worn my lips thin, and my fingers thin and have stopped talking or writing.

The CEOs of Wall Street think in the same way my former high school teachers thought. I think the logic still works today. I came from a province, (which resembled a state in America), where education is highly regarded. Each high school teacher, especially the one in charge of the class, was assigned a quota on how many students they should send to college. Their bonus was tied to the number of students they sent out.

As a result, the teachers always recommended the lowest-ranking colleges for the students in the hope of sending out as many students as possible. The head teacher did not care the student should reach for a better college or university with much better resources and better professors, and better chances at making a remarkable life.

Students whose parents were in the higher education knew the ropes around. And they frequently pulled ropes to “go through the backdoor,” as people said. It was a fact of life.

Students whose parents did not know were at the mercy of their teachers. I was not happy with the college the teacher recommended. Only my geography teacher said I should reach for a better university and a better major.

So I still remember him. I remember his face but not his name. What a student!

The result was I did not get my first wish. I was then snatched up by a teacher’s college whose teachers acted smartly and immediately to ensure they got the students they wanted.

I wasn’t happy while I was in college. So I took a chance at the Master’s Program. I prepared for it while many others were having good times. I got the chance after so many twists and turns.

Right now I am seeing the same logic working again here in the United States. Professors recommend the lowest-ranking colleges and universities in order to successfully market their graduates. They do not think about what the students really want or is really capable of. Between the lowest position and the highest position some students can reach, it is the always the lowest positions are recommended first.

I can understand the thinking behind it. But I do not agree with it.

If a professor wants to play it safe, he or she should recommend the student to apply to different levels of colleges and universities, from the highest, to the medium, to the lowest, and in dire situations like these, even temporary positions and postdoc opportunities. In this four-level approach, a student will not miss out on good opportunities nor will he or she got stuck in a blackhole for the rest of their life.

It is not fair for any professor to act like a God telling that student has the right to apply to better colleges and another are absolutely prohibited from applying to better positions simply because that student does not have professors as parents.

They do not have the right to do that.

If anything, education is the only way someone is changing their life. It has always been so, from ancient China to modern China, in America throughout its history.

No one, no matter how rich and powerful, has the right to take away life opportunities from another. Not even their God would sanctify them to do that.

I put my life into my research and my teaching. I did both well, within my capabilities. I could not go beyond my capabilities.

But I got punished. I could not go to places and positions I want. I could not apply even after November when everybody else was allowed and assisted to apply in September and October.  Everything was made to facilitate their achievements. While every possible obstacle was placed onto my road.

While the different treatment?

They are students. I am a student. I have provided more faculty support than any of them ever did. Is somebody telling me I have to be “punished” because I have supported their professional development in their grant application and university projects?

As a result, I stopped my support. The more support I give, the more suspicious I become, and the more severe abuses I have received.

Let them all evaporate into thin air.

It is high time I think of my personal happiness. Now that I have finished the dissertation, whose writing process I hated very much, because the authorities were always demanding more and more and more explanations, it finally reached 450 polished pages. I do not take pride in it. It is an excellent dissertation, but when something is pushed to the extreme, it backfires and becomes hideous.

Somebody wants to punish me because I write well. Others want to gain certain fame through it. Was it taken away and flaunted on a conference? I did not know. I am the author but I wasn’t allowed to go to that conference. My application for a mere traveling fund of 300 dollars was refused.

Too many things in life can’t even be mentioned. I have to block them away from my mind to go through each day.

Can I plead to be treated like a stranger? Strangers are generally treated well because people like to be nice to strangers.

A student says he is holding fast to what he has for as long as he can so that when he loses it he knows he has had it. He was referring to his mother who was recovering from a dangerous operation.

Why all this beating down I have suffered?

If I am not wanted, send me away. If I am wanted, treat me nice. Nobody likes to stay when they are abused and punished day in and day out. I do not derive pleasure from maltreatment. Some people have that perverse taste, but not me.


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