Anguish over the university strike and my cheap labor
Friday, 02.23.2018 - 5:40 pm.

University professors went on strike this week, and I'm supposed to give a lecture for my supervisor's class next week. I wrote asking him what I was supposed to do, and in his characteristic non-committal yet straightforward manner, he replied (these are my words) that I was not part of the union to join the strike; but I could not cross the picket line if I chose to; but not crossing meant joining the strike and since I was not part of the union I had no one watching my back for this. Worse, I learned somewhere else...I was reminded, more properly, that the university is the sponsor of my visa. 

I support the strike. I didn't write this to my second supervisor, when she wrote to us, her PhD students, because, well, suddenly I got this whole Big Brother paranoia. "Oh, no, what if They are screening emails and see my message?!" "Don't leave anything in print!" I'm foreign and suddenly I felt so vulnerable. It's silly, it's paranoia, I acknowledge that; I'm still in a privileged position. But still. 

These past couple of days I've been in anguish to the point of tears. I can give the lecture: it's my allocated time and payment, I was hired to do that as a "casual worker". My supervisor said he told the students that my class was "likely" to go ahead. It's his class, though, he could have slashed that lecture, and I wish he had. Logically, I have all the arguments to go ahead and give the lecture. But I do. Not. Want. To. Cross. Any damn picket line! Give the lecture or not, I'll feel I'm making the wrong decision, and both may bring consequences...which is why I think my supervisor was non-committal in his response. He has enough on his plate to worry about me. 

In retrospective, "Billy Elliot" was probably my main introduction to the miners' strike and certain aspects of Great Britain. I really have those picket lines from the movie burned in my brain. Those, and the ones in "Pride". And a fellow PhD student was a kid in the 80s, and her dad was a miner and he had to go to work because they were starving, and they were ostracized in their community. And then: I grew up in a society in turmoil, in a civil war, and Brother #2 was the leader of a national strike of medical doctors in my home country in the late 90s. 

Hence, I'm furious at being put in this position. I'd prefer to exercise solidarity and not show up, but all arguments point to the fact that I should. There's a chance I will not encounter a picket line the day of my lecture, next Tuesday, and that might make it all easier. Another fellow PhD student told me why I shouldn't worry about showing up, and what she said made me feel more calm. Please don't let there be a picket line that day, I don't want to be that jerk that crosses it (though, really, nobody there would protest for me if the university revoked my visa sponsorship). And it'd be nice if the students didn't show up. 

At this point, I can only put this worry aside until it's time to face it. 

That's been my main concern this week. That, and my work online being invisible, and my research being invisible on account of being puny, and my sexual orientation being invisible as I've been reminded this LGBT+ History Month. I'm so desperate for my writing and my cartoons to get some damn attention, but in this world full of freelancers who do it infinitely better than me, I may not have anything to offer. I feel I do, you know, but it's always been for display online and for free anyway. Maybe I cheapened my labor with that, but also maybe it's not good enough for people to want to pay for it. 

Oh, yeah, I'm going to Sweden next Thursday, back on Sunday. I'm going to see my long-time friend Michelle and meet her baby. I'm feeling lazy and I really don't want to travel, but it'll be great to see a familiar face and I'm hoping it will be nice. Maybe I'll write before I leave, or when I get back. 

I just want this upcoming week to be over. 

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