At the moment, I study natural sciences: fundamental physics and chemistry and maths and biology; stuff like formulas for gravitation, how hydrogen and oxygen gas can create water, the PQ-formula enabling you to solve second grade equations, and how photosynthesis transforms carbon dioxide and water into sugar and oxygen gas, etc. And, apparently, large scale artificial photosynthesis is on the way. Soon, we’ll be completely independent of all green bug-attracting plant-life. What an age we live in.
Anyway, this is what my ever-smiling father and my never-smiling mother want me to do. And what do I want? Shut up with your stupid questions.
Some people believe schooling is still free here in Sweden. If only. At the moment, I work as a janitor in the local library to pay for school. The other day, I found a homeless man sleeping on the library’s toilet’s floor, strangely peaceful, slowly breathing, his coat as a blanket and a backpack as a pillow. I didn’t want to wake him up, but I had to, because it was closing time. I told him I wouldn’t mention it to management, and he could come there to sleep whenever he wished, and I’d look the other way. However, right now it was closing time, and if he didn’t go, he’d have to stay in there the entire night to not set the alarm off. He thanked me, and shook my hand, and left.
Marie, my mother, often points at the homeless people sleeping under billboards, and she says, “Those specimens are better commercials for establishing your independence than anything else. They show us the importance of standing on our own hind legs.” She always looks at me as she says so.
My parents don’t pay for my schooling. Not because they don’t support it, but because they want me to stand on my own hind legs. You’d think that’s partly liberating: not having them hover above me, funneling me into the most respected schools, making sure I get good grades, and so on, but you’re wrong. They hover in another way: by praising independence, the individual, self-governance, the self. My mother has an oil painting of herself in the living room, huge, something you’d expect to find in the mansion of the villain in the latest superhero movie. Dad’s less hardcore about it, but he always picks Maries side. If he didn’t, I’d probably find him in the food waste disposal.
One evening a couple of years ago, my parents had some kind of fight, about me. I escaped the house and sat down on the porch outside, facing the Igloo. After a while, dad sat down beside me. The moon hung low, surrounded by horror-movie mistm, illuminated in a fuzzy circle.
“We want what’s best for you, Max”, Simba said.
I sat silent. He kept going.
“You see, the world is rough. It’s ruled by no one, by everyone. The market is everything, and if we don’t follow its rules, we die, okay? We just think it’s important for you to listen to the market. It will guide you to your future, understand?”
I didn’t look over my shoulder, but I knew Marie stood in the window, her hands on her hips, staring hard at my dad’s neck. Marie always wins their fights. Every single time.
Occasionally, when Marie’s had a glass of wine, she gets friendly all of a sudden, and sits down beside me. She says, “You know we love you, right? We do. We’ve given you this home, food on the table, everything you need. All we want is for you to succeed, you know. But dad, he’s afraid you’ll fail. He thinks your writing and video editing and all your whimsical interests are destructive. He’s afraid what happened to him might happen to you. And that would make him so, so sad. You don’t want that, do you?”
It’s not uncommon for her to threaten me with my father’s sadness.
I hate this.
All of it.
My mother is the manipulative mastermind of the family. Guilt, self-doubt, expectations of their definition of autonomy and success, they inflict this on me. Whenever I make a decision I always wonder, am I keeping my parents’ opinions in the back of my mind? I often feel like a remote controlled car.
And what I hate the most about it, is that sometimes, I’m glad they do it. I’m glad they manipulate me, that they try to make sure I go where I’m supposed to go. I hate that I feel this way. But, I’m young, and confused, and have no fucking idea where to go. Anywhere I look just looks like a dead end.
Everything that entrances me, be it music or writing or reading or some other “whimsical” interest, it’s never anything there’s a future in. The future lies in software engineering, industrial engineering, in bioengineering, anything with engineering in the name. The closest I’ve got to this, is playing around with coding, but only because it’s easy to use infinite loops to create evolving, chaotic patterns of symbols.
And, well, not only are my interests a bit esoteric and generally stupid, but I don’t even know myself what I’d like to do, if I got to choose. Would a write, or make art-code, or what? I have no idea. I wish I could get obsessed with something, because at least then I’d know what I wanted to do, but obsession is nowhere to be found.
I have no idea what I’m doing. Part of me want to go rampage and run away from home, and maybe burn the house down while I’m at it, and another part of me want to listen to my parents, do what they says, and soil my hands by working with the bioputer technology, the Oh so great evidence of the power of the free market.
Sorry for writing all this.
Another thing: tomorrow The Man with the Pig’s Heart will be here, with his twins, and Kris, one of the twins, is to sleep in my room, and have no fucking idea what I will do about it.