Being The Clever Kid One Last Time
My relationship with Stockholm is a bit ambivalent in that it’s the biggest city in the land where I was born and while many of the people I grew up with would be happy if they ended up being a person of note in this city, I would consider it a failure so great that I would probably go full Vasa after a wet night out. (The Vasa was a ship built so wrongly that it capsized from a single gust of wind and sank before it even made it out of the Stockholm harbor in 1628. A lot of people died. It’s now the main attraction in one of Sweden’s most popular museums. That’s right, we made one of our biggest failures into a tourist destination. It’s the Swedish way.)
Let’s just say it was time for me to leave this great nation and its all-encompassing security. During my last year of high school, I spent a lot of time preparing my university applications. I started an American one, did a lot of research on journalism schools, and decided to apply to the schools that kept appearing at the top of different rankings. These included NYU, Missouri-Columbia, Syracuse, and Northwestern.
The application process was quite stressful. They wanted to know everything about me, mostly things I didn’t even know myself. It was a weird road of self-discovery, mostly consisting of discovering how bad of an idea this actually was. It was expensive, scary, and anxiety-inducing. Going to school at home was free and easy. That was exactly what was wrong with it. It was easy. It was safe. It wasn’t scary and I needed something to fucking happen. So crippling debt and foreign nation-states seemed like a reasonable solution, even if it did mean I had to research two of my grandpa’s phone numbers because the number to my dad and mom wasn’t enough for some indescribable reason.
After making it through half the application process, I realized that it would be way too complicated and expensive and gave up. Yay for me. I would have to go to the United Kingdom. London, Sheffield, or Cardiff. I applied to three universities in London. Northwick, St Donatts, and Spring Gardens. Spring Gardens was the best one, hands down. I don’t know who they paid at Google but when I googled different variations of “best university journalism course in the UK” they were always the top result. In every single ranking, I came across they were in the top three. I applied and got a conditional offer to go to Spring Gardens, if I got good enough grades I would be accepted in August. It didn’t seem too difficult. I was going.
I was invited to the official Facebook group of the people who were going to Spring Gardens to study journalism that year. I was going. I was finally getting out. Except I wasn’t. I thought what the conditional offer meant was that I basically had to keep doing what I was doing and everything was gonna be alright. But one morning in August I logged into the application website, legs shaking with nerves, to see that my bid to go, according to my excessive googling, to the “best journalism school in Europe, and one of the best in the world” had been unsuccessful.
My stomach fell. I wasn’t sad. Just empty. So empty. I had gotten unconditional offers from all the other schools, but I wasn’t giving in that easily. I was going to the top one, even if it meant staying home for another year. I felt like I needed to cry to get rid of some of the anxiety that the knowledge that I had to spend another year living with my mother had led to. I couldn’t. I actually tried. It was like trying to push an exceptionally large turd through your eye sockets. I seemed to be suffering from emotional constipation. The tears just wouldn’t come. I was in my robe, I already looked like someone who had been unemployed forever. Quite quickly, I went into the kitchen to tell mom.
She looked compassionate and stood up to hug me, and for once, I didn’t recoil at her touch, probably because I needed the hug. After all, we were both comforting each other. This meant at least one more year of war. It was like the Christmas truce of 1914 during the First World War, when Brits and Germans stopped shooting at one another and came out of the trenches all along the Western front to exchange prisoners, recover bodies and even play a game or two of soccer.
I had been writing for the local paper to spice up my university application since October of my last year of high school and got a really nice recommendation letter out of it. It didn’t work, but it was nice to know that I could just glide into a local paper and immediately be better than everyone else (that’s honestly what happened, I was shocked). I mostly went to the local soccer, hockey, and basketball games and wrote match reports.
That Christmas, the second in line to the throne of most annoying woman on the planet, my grandmother, stayed with us for Christmas. She wasn’t that bad, I was just seeing her through a pair of eyes that were skewed to hate. She was after all responsible for both my mother’s and, by extension, my own existence. I wasn’t a fan of either.
Grandma grabbed a stack of the local papers dad had saved because something I wrote was in them. Seeing that he saved them all felt both nice and weird. The fact that he now took an interest in something I did that wasn’t sports was new and felt a bit odd. I hadn’t really done anything else for him to take part in, and during the last year and a half of basketball injuries, general indecision, and eventually quitting, there hadn’t been much sporting activity to get involved in.
I was in a transition period, writing was the new thing. Dad reading my articles was never a problem, mostly because he didn’t tell me he did. The stack of papers was just there one day and him saving them for any other reason than because of my articles didn’t make any sense since it was a rather shit paper. When grandma picked up the papers, I asked: “Are you gonna read my articles, you’re not interested in sports are you?”
“I’m just gonna check that you have a proper sentence structure,” she said. I almost melted. I think I deserve an award for not murdering her then and there. Why the fuck would I listen to her opinion about anything I’ve ever written? The last time she wrote anything was 50 years ago and that was in a different fucking language – old-timey Swedish. She was unbearable that Christmas. At one point she actually said: “Entertain me!” I went outside, picked up balls of snow and ice, and crushed them against the ground. I walked out on the frozen lake and listened to “Dancing In The Moonlight” by Toploader, in the moonlight. It was really nice and fairly meta.
Grandma ended up in hospital that holiday. Not because of me, although I wouldn’t have been surprised if it was the shock of my mesmerizing sentence structure that did it. Regardless of the sentence structure, it was the beginning of the end for grandma. It’s weird how rapidly you go from thinking Christmas is the biggest and best thing ever to just considering it being a giant “Meh.” It’s a bit like the year before you enter puberty. When you’re ten or eleven, girls are disgusting and they have cooties, twelve months later you want to put your penis in everything. That’s just plain disturbing.
The last year of high school came and went. Graduating wasn’t that fun, I was so ready to move on. It was finally over, or so I thought until it became clear that I had to spend another year at home. I applied to study journalism at Stockholm University. It was my b-plan and even for that I was put on a waitlist and told to show up at the university to claim my spot. It was an odd system. I got there early to not miss it. One girl arrived late and that was it, she lost her spot. She left the room crying. This was apparently a big deal. I never realized.
The department for journalism, media, and communication was the only department not situated at the main campus. The main campus was to the north of the city, next to the museum of natural history. The department of journalism, media, and communication was in the city, next to the public service media companies for TV and radio. It made sense, but in my year there we never visited either of them so I didn’t really see the point. Although it did allow major journalists from the public service companies to come and speak to us without having to schlep across town, which was nice.
Most of the people in the room were older, late 20s. In Sweden, and probably a lot of other places, it’s common to work for a few years after high school while you figure out what you want to do with your life. Some study film or philosophy or some other flimsy-ass subject to pass the time and to be able to get financial support and to tell themselves that they’re doing something worthwhile.
Once again, I was the young, clever, whippersnapper. But I wasn’t going to get shit for that here. Finally. A man in a beard and glasses, wearing a knitted sweater was sitting a few rows in front of me, scrolling an IMDB (International Movie DataBase) list of black and white movies on his MacBook. He couldn’t have been more hipster. This was my new crowd. The cool kids were no longer messing with the teachers and throwing crumpled paper balls at each other, they were researching old movies wearing clothes their grandmas had knitted for them. Perfect. These people would never pick on me for being cleverer than them because I probably wasn’t.
I would finally come to be included in the smoke circles in the streets outside in the cold night air. I know, weird. I finally got my spot. The guy sitting next to me told me getting accepted to JMK (the department for Journalistik, Media och Kommunikation) was a “once in a lifetime thing.” I suddenly felt a lot better about being stuck in this hellhole. That year at Stockholm University would help me open my mind a bit. That man sitting next to me that day later became a friend for the duration of my year there. So there I was. I was living the life I would have lived in my childhood hadn’t gone straight to shit and I wasn’t desperately trying to run away. I wasn’t happy with it, but it wasn’t that bad in the end.
Grandpa turned 75 that fall. He celebrated by inviting us all to dinner at a very nice place. Apparently, he didn’t want any presents.
“The present is that we’re all there and that we are happy and nice,” mom explained.
“I’d rather have bought something and been an asshole as usual,” dad replied. The news of me being sure I’d be moving to London had traveled. The news that I had ended up at Stockholm University had not.
“Are you still here?” My cousins asked me when they saw me. I was praying for a bullet the second they spoke.
So, you could say I was doing great. I watched all five seasons of the new Doctor Who because it’s what you do when you’re a nerd and only have class twice a week. In season 3, a then less famous Carey Mulligan says: “I love old things. They make me feel sad.”
Some forgettable character, probably Mickey, asked her: “What’s good about sad?”
“It’s happy for deep people,” she said. I identified with this for a number of reasons.
1. I was sad a lot and needed a reason to feel better about it.
2. I was and am a pretentious dickhole. I’m the kind of person who would carry around a Franz Kafka novel without having read it because I wanted people to think I was reading it. I haven’t actually done that, but I have started and failed to finish both “The Rise And Fall of The Third Reich” and “All The Presidents’ Men.” So, you could say that I’m in the pretentious ballpark swinging at nothing, but at least I’m swinging. (I have since writing that actually finished “All The President’s Men.” So yay me).
The most told lie is one of two words. It’s either a yes, or it’s a no. And that yes or no is usually the answer to a question like “Have you ever had sex outside?” Which was a great question for me because I could say no without admitting that I had never had sex at all. I lied my way to seeming somewhat normal the few times people actually took enough of an interest in me to ask those questions. But sometimes, there’s no escape, especially when you’ve had a sip or two of the truth juice. It was at Stockholm University that I first started going out drinking with people.
Yes, my adolescence was that sad, but if you’ve read this far, you knew that already. Once, when I was pissed off my face, I accidentally told a girl I was a virgin and she was so surprised. She asked me, “Are you waiting to do it with someone you’re in love with?” I can’t remember what I answered but I can remember thinking, Have you ever heard of ugly, fat, and weird as reasons for not having got laid??? I had never even been on a date, I had never even been close to a hypothetical shag. I’ve encountered so many people who seem to think that getting laid is so easy like a girl’s pants automatically drop just because you look at her.
I’m not a wizard, I can’t just wave my wand and say “Accio pussy” and end up with a vagina in my face. That’s not how it works. I wish it was. And she wasn’t any prize either, the girl who asked me that fateful question. I thought for myself How the hell does she get laid, does she just go up to the most desperate looking guy, pulls up her shirt, and goes “Fuck me please”?
As it turns out, yes that was what she did, she made out with several guys that night and we were at a gay club. Quite an achievement. The guys that made out with her weren’t even attracted to her hypothetical vagina. I’m not slut-shaming, I’m just telling a story about how if you’re very talkative, in your face, and also a girl, you will end up with a lot of tongues down your throat. Which is a good thing, I think. If that’s what you want.
Here’s a tip: Don’t wink when you’re drunk. It just looks creepy. I did that once when someone was taking a picture of me. Then I saw the picture. The horror. I looked like the monster from The Goonies. I met another girl at university back in Stockholm, and I liked her mostly because she was 6’3, which meant I didn’t have to break my neck in order to talk to her, but her lazy eye weirded me out too much, so I didn’t do anything about it. She was also older, but most importantly, I was a coward. There would come a time when I would give fewer fucks and it ended fairly well if I say so myself.
When something horrible happens I just smile. It’s part of my autistic allure. When a girl at JMK told me that her mom died from cancer and that she might go the same way, I just smiled. When I see pain and despair on film or on TV, I smile. I don’t know why. Sad things make me smile. Maybe it’s the recognition, maybe it’s to protect myself, to push it way. I don’t know why, but I smile when others in the same situation would probably feel the need to cry. That’s how I deal with horrible things, it sounds like serial killer behavior, but there you are.
There were pub nights at JMK. I struggled to understand how almost everyone arrived in groups. I always arrived alone at a bunch of tables filled with strangers, the only guy I had managed to get to know well enough to be on immediate speaking terms with, Edward, being behind the bar. So, I stood there and talked to him for a while before I decided to make a move. Doing anything the first time can be scary.
Walking up to a table and asking to join a bunch of people you’ve never talked to before is scary as all fuck every time you do it unless you’re an extreme extrovert, otherwise known as an insane person. But I managed to do it. At some point, I think I started to care a lot less about what people thought about me since I failed miserably to be likable growing up, so if these people ended up disliking me as well, it’s not like I wouldn’t have had gone through that before.
I tried to be jovial, but somehow the subject of religion came up and the train of jovialness left the station then and there and I was NOT on it. The idea of God is too obviously made up to believe in. I still think believing in God is dumb as all hell, but when I was 18, I learned to shut the fuck up about it. I was drunk and sitting next to a guy who I didn’t know was a catholic. In my defense, being a catholic in Sweden is a bit like a woman driving in Saudi Arabia, it’s just not gonna happen. (I wrote this before they were given the right to drive, would you look at that, we can make progress as a species! Hooray!)
This stark revelation of having a catholic in our midst at least allowed me to open my mind and nuance my opinion on the subject a bit. I realized that you can be very intelligent but still have this deluded part of your brain that’s like Yeah God, he’s totally a thing. Which is weird. Then there are people who say stuff like “But how can you know there’s no God, the universe is endless! How can you know?!” Yeah well, we also know that there’s no such thing as dragons and unicorns.
The universe is endless, but even though you might just be able to see a hundred feet to the next building, you know that there’s not a dragon waiting behind that building. God is just as much a work of fiction as Harry Potter. Actually, the world of Harry Potter is much more real than God because they fucking built it in Orlando.
If a child would ask me “Where do you go when you die?” I would probably respond “Nowhere, you become dirt in the ground, or if you choose to be cremated then your daughter will take your ashes and spread them across a lake, but then there’s a gush of wind and they end up in her face, but she kind of enjoys it because she’s used to it being cum.”
Also, while we’re on the subject, the whole idea of souls is just a bunch of bullshit. Here’s why we don’t have souls: A surgeon has never cut up a person and said “Look there’s the soul!”
“Ooooh, but when you die, your soul lives on!” Yeah, no, that’s not how it works, you ignorant cunt.
“But you can’t see a person’s thoughts either, but they’re still real!” Yeah, but I’m sure if you smash someone’s head hard enough, you will find a brain. So yeah, you can see someone’s thoughts, you just can’t read them because they all look like gooey innards.
I was watching a science show where this scientist was talking to a creationist, a black priest to be precise. And the white scientist asked the black priest, “Are you an ape?” For about a second I thought he was going to be barbecued to death on a stick until he said, “I’m an ape.” Oh holy fuck, he was talking about evolution, he wasn’t being racist, thank God. What I’m trying to say is that I have a hard time understanding how creationists can still exist.
We are animals, I mean for fuck’s sake, put on any porno you like and there will be two people sniffing each other’s butts like dogs. Are creationists just sitting in school feigning deafness or are they being home-schooled by their equally fucked in the head parents? Two years after initially writing this, I would actually meet a guy who didn’t believe in evolution and when I asked him what he thought when they attempted to teach him common sense in school, he said he just sat there and ignored it. So there.
He also said he could never live abroad because he was too close to his family. That’s just another piece of evidence that his family had indoctrinated the shit out of this kid, turning his brain into mush and soccer statistics. I’m sure they’re lovely people, that’s just my prejudice against religion talking. It’s loud, isn’t it? I have no time for intolerance, except for my own of course. But my personal intolerance is devoted to worthy causes, such as other types of intolerance and stupidity.
In short, Jesus was just a short Palestinian Arabic Jew with massive daddy issues, not a six-foot white guy. Claiming his dad was the omniscient deity and not a drunk who left him when he was four was a dead giveaway. Moses spent 40 days on that mountain making those stone slabs himself, he was just a great liar. And we all know the only way to get a bush to speak to you is to lick it. There, good to have that settled.
For a while, once I was a bit older, I became sure that I had grown accustomed to not fare well socially and that it wasn’t as uncomfortable to fail anymore. But it was probably the dulling sensation of the alcohol that had been brought into the mix. Sometimes though, it was even worse than it used to be. Having failed completely in the social field, it felt even worse when you fucked up as an adult as well.
It feels like your incompetence is rock solid when in reality it comes and goes. I managed to delude myself into thinking I wasn’t socially awkward but one wake-up call later and I knew that wasn’t true. My sister’s boyfriend asked me on the first night we actually hung out if I had had any near-death experiences. When someone asks if you’ve had a near-death experience, they’re not asking you if you have ever been close to killing yourself. I wasn’t aware of this the last time I was asked. It was kind of awkward, but as always, I was spared the worst of the guilt for divulging my inside self with the aid of that sweet, sweet booze.
Even in adulthood, I was forced back to the question that defined my teens.
Why is spending time alone considered to be so weird when half of the world’s people are introverts?
Because ordinary people can’t handle being alone in their own ordinary brains and extroverts hijack every conversation and the introverts’ point of view never gets heard because we’re too quiet too speak up, thus introverts tend to think that they’re the only one of their kind when there are literally billions who feel the same way.
God, I hate ordinary people, they drive me insane.
Be more like Holden Caulfield, please.
When Clara and I discussed Holden, the star of The Catcher in the Rye, we came out on different sides of the issue.
“Holden Caulfield is such an asshole,” she said.
“And here I was thinking that he was exactly like me. He hates stupid people and thinks everyone is fake. Although I don’t think people are fake, I think they are genuinely as stupid as they seem.”
Everyone on the internet says that they’re socially awkward, and they seem kind of proud of it. They wear their awkwardness like a badge of honor. And I just assumed that I was also socially awkward because I never really had any friends. Slowly but surely, I was trying to change that image of myself. I faked some confidence and sat down at a table full of strangers at JMK, introduced myself, and just started talking to people. When I told my sister this, she looked at me in awe and told me I was brave.
Sure, it had taken me a while to build up the guts to do it, but by “a while,” I mean like five minutes. But if she thought what I did was “brave,” how the hell did she end up with a group of friends and I didn’t? To keep myself going, I’ve always told myself that I’m better than everyone else, that they don’t like me because they don’t understand my brilliance. That is such a dick thing to think, but if it keeps me from wearing a rope as a scarf while stepping off a chair, then I’m gonna go with it. Maybe you’re not supposed to be okay with meeting new people. Most often, it feels like shit for at least the first 90 seconds.
But humanity wouldn’t have developed the bar if we weren’t a social species. Or maybe the bar was just a way to make that process easier with the help of nearby alcohol. Probably the latter. It’s not the normal thing to do to arrive alone and then just sit down at a table with a bunch of strangers. The normal thing to do is to arrive with a group of friends and occupy a table and never let anyone into your own little circle.
But then how are you supposed to make new friends, how are you supposed to start over in a new place? How does everyone, in every situation, always seem to have a bunch of pre-existing friends? How is that even remotely possible? Does no one move ever? Does no one ever start over in a new place, what the hell is going on? The answer is of course that there is no such thing as starting over, you will always be haunted by your past so you might as well jump off a bridge right now. Good luck, dipshit.
Sometimes I look at my dad and immediately realize where I get my social incompetence from. “I had to eat lunch out today,” he said one evening after a day when he actually went to work instead of avoiding people like most days by working from home.
“Why?” Mom asked.
“…And it wasn’t exactly a good time to say no,” mom filled in.
“Why wasn’t it a good time to decline?”
“I’m supposed to work there you know.”
“After work, you can be a nerd.”
“At that place, I’m not much of a nerd.”
This was true since he had just entered the university world at the end of his career, which was teeming with nerds. There was a time when I struggled to understand how my parents were still together. They weren’t fighting, but they didn’t seem to enjoy each other’s company a whole lot. Maybe it was just me projecting my unhappiness onto their sometimes-mopey faces because all of a sudden dad would tell one of his stupid monotone jokes for the millionth time and she would actually laugh. They do seem happier since I moved out which makes perfect sense, I imagine I was like a dark cloud over that already dark little row house.
I guess it must’ve bothered me when my parents decided to send my sister to therapy when I was the one making a things-I-have-to-do-before-20-bucket-list with items like:
· Go skydiving minus the parachute
· Go Bungy jumping minus the Bungy
“I think it’s funny that you sent the child who seems to be doing fine to a therapist because she’s 21 and hasn’t started university yet when most start university later than that anyway and let the kid that obviously needs some sort of psychological help just carry on,” I said, knowing what the response would be. They didn’t say anything, and they barely looked at me. It was like they hadn’t heard it, but I wasn’t gonna say it again because I knew they had. They were ignoring it, riding it out so that they didn’t have to deal with it. Why they did it, I don’t know.
We usually talk a lot about mental stuff. They might not be great at it, but they’re there. I guess they got tired of my shit for a minute. Or just assumed I’m going to be okay, and therefore the talking isn’t really necessary. I guess that makes some kind of sense, sort of. It was a cry for help but I didn’t want it to be one. It was framed as a joke, but when I heard how it sounded, it sounded pathetic and helpless.
That was yet another thing that would come to tug at me for months, making me punch walls and curse under my breath, always trying to control the uncontrollable outbursts of anger which came whenever I remembered something slightly annoying making me suicidal, god it was pathetic. Who’s the one who has been treating mom like shit for no reason?! Apparently, that wasn’t enough. I went to a therapist when I was twelve after wandering up on the rooftop of the school to “jump.” I should clearly never have stopped going to said therapist.
Despite my old, yet nonexistent soul, I had a lot of growing up to do when I arrived at Stockholm University. I was still hiding behind a Holden Caulfield-esque kind of attitude where I thought I was better than everyone else, which was one of the many, many reasons I struggled socially. People were dumb, it wasn’t my fault that they didn’t understand my brilliance.
At one point, it briefly spilled over into how I saw dad. I thought that he didn’t have anything to offer anymore, that our discussions had reached the end of the road. Dad even said himself that me being smart as a kid would’ve pushed others away, which wasn’t great because it only spurred on that kind of thinking. I don’t know why, but I loved thinking that I was one of those clever douchey assholes who get away with being bitches because they’re so clever. A Gregory House, or a Tom Riddle if you will. I may have changed a lot during this time, but the only thing showing the passing of time was the steadily growing number of bloodstains from popped zits on my bathroom towel.
To tell you the truth, a lifetime of sports didn’t translate to an automatically healthy lifestyle post-sport. Not only was I gaining weight, but my face was gaining weight as well, in puss stretching my skin to its limits. I didn’t look great, I wasn’t great in social situations and I really didn’t have much going for me. Slowly, but surely, I was working my way out of that deep hole. I just wanted to leave.
Mom would ask me to go grocery shopping for her. It was the worst thing she could ask me to do. I’d rather take the dog for a walk and pick up her piles of runny shits with my tongue. Whenever she asked me to go to the store, I would always park on the third floor of the parking garage, where it was easy to hide if you saw someone you’d rather avoid. I turned around to lock the car and I saw through the barred windows straight into an apartment kitchen on the top floor in the apartment building on the other side of the road.
It has to be horrible to live there, I thought immediately. I couldn’t help it. I had thoughts like that about most homes I looked into. Yet I couldn’t imagine myself living in any other place than in this suburb. Where I obviously hadn’t had a great time. I had spent my whole life in the same house, the last ten years in the same room. And within months I was going to be leaving the country for good. That was at least how I thought it would turn out. I was moving to a country I’d never even been in, but still, I didn’t see myself ever returning home.
Steve Jobs once said: “Those who are crazy enough to believe that they can change the world are the ones who do.” Now, I’m not crazy enough to believe that I can change the world, but I am crazy enough to believe that I can actually do shit, something which has become a bit of a curse. Because as soon as you believe that you can do shit, you’ll start dreaming about all the successes you’re capable of and how life would be pointless without them. It’s not terribly efficient.
When I was a kid, I couldn’t understand how my dad could watch the news every night because I found it so boring, but suddenly when I was about 18, I sat there myself listening closely to a piece about healthcare for old people, suddenly yelling at the screen because it wasn’t done well enough and I could obviously do it better. Both the politics and the journalism. Neither was true of course, I was just an 18-year-old idiot suffering from a severe case of hubris. My dad went to parties in his teens, smoking cigars and drinking scotch.
Having been brought up by an outsider, it was obvious that I too would end up at the outskirts of any group of kids. They talked about Disney, Batman, they knew every fucking word from the theme tune of the Adventures of the Gummi Bears. Meanwhile, I was in a corner humming along to “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from the Life of Brian by Monty Python. I’m not saying one is better than the other but I think we all know what takes more intellectual prowess to enjoy as a 13-year-old nonnative English speaker.
The fucking Gummi Bears were dubbed because kids are fools in need of simple storylines. I mean for God’s sake, some of those bloody Python sketches ended with one character explaining what was wrong with the sketch. It’s so fucking meta, it’s not surprising any young impressionable viewer would end up being introspective. So yes, I’m saying one is better than the other, but at least I tried to avoid doing so initially, which of course means I’m a humble and great person. In reality, I am of course a cunt and I love it.
Despite the improvement that came to the relationship between my sister and me because of the interest I took in her interests AND NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND I MIGHT ADD, I was still afraid of sharing what I was consuming. I had earphones in most of the time and she would ask “What are you listening to?”
“Nothing, I’m just storing the earphones in my ears,” I would respond to make her inquisitiveness go away. You see, her interest could turn into ruthless scorn within a fraction of a second. She was a fucking dragon of cultural judgment.
If she heard or saw something she didn’t like, you could see your own standing just fall in her face until it was nothing more than a worthless pile of vomit at the bottom of a pit of manure. This is the reason why I simply said “Nothing,” when she asked me what I was listening to. My mom, who understands none of this, thought this to be the best time to ask “Why can’t she hear what you’re listening to?”
“Because if it’s ‘wrong’, she will violate you with a shovel straight up your ass… That was a bit graphic but you get the picture,” I said. You see, the communication between my sister and me ranges between “You’re disgusting” and talking so fast our parents have no idea what we’re on about.
There was a time in my life when even all the great thoughts of myself in the future eventually ended in death. You know how it goes, you lie in bed at night with a giant amount of anxiety in your stomach and you’re just thinking “I’m alone and sad, I should really jump off a bridge,” and then you have thoughts that make you psyched like “I’m going to be the best fucking journalist on the planet. I’m going to be a foreign correspondent and get tortured to death by terrorists. FUCK YEAH.” You know how it goes.
Part of the appeal of the United States was not just the media landscape, the late-night talk shows, and the movie industry, but of course also the beautiful simplicity of death as you really just had to upset a local and he would shoot you in the face for you. In the land of dreams, even committing suicide was made a whole lot easier by the ample opportunities to become a murder victim. That way, my parents wouldn’t have to be thinking about what they did wrong for the rest of their lives, they would just be wishing they hadn’t raised a son stupid enough to think he could make it in the States. Which could be argued must have been the result of some solid parenting on their part.
This sense of overconfidence was what kept me alive for some time, or at least that’s what I like to believe. In reality, I was always too much of a coward to actually kill myself. Those arguing that this would be bravery and that suicide is the coward’s way out are of course fools and don’t deserve to be listened to because they obviously haven’t been there themselves. I realize that I’m walking on thin ice here.
Taken out of context, or perhaps even in context, this could sound like I’m glorifying suicide. In some ways, I guess I am. Or at least I did back in the day. It was, after all, THE solution to every single problem I had ever experienced. It was also the only solution that seemed to solve the biggest problem I was having, namely that of not necessarily wanting to be alive anymore. I guess I wasn’t longing for death as much as I wished I had never been born. I am not a man of big, bold actions, and suicide is by definition big and bold. It’s in your face, it’s loud, it’s a huge middle finger to the rest of humanity who are looking for ways to become immortal.
It’s a way to show that you do not accept society the way it was built by the majority of people, the majority who have more often than not done things in a way that excluded you in some way. Meanwhile, literally, no one will notice you not being born. Not a single person will notice. It’s fucking impossible to notice someone not being born, since it’s not happening.
I guess you could notice someone not being born if you’re in the delivery room and the kid is literally holding on to the pussy lips for dear life, I guess that could be called noticing someone not being born, but that’s not really what I’m talking about. It’s the stealthiest way to not have to deal with this annoying pain in the ass we all call life. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s a lot to be said for anti-natalism. Please don’t use this kind of thinking as an argument to kill yourself. That would be a real bummer. Honestly.
I never really wanted to be a writer, although it would be nice to work from home. I write because I have to get all of these ideas out of my head, otherwise, they’ll haunt me forever. If I don’t at least try to make all my impossible dreams come true, then I might as well jump in front of a train right now. The same goes for my weird ideas for stories, like this one that I am writing right now.
Despite the general consensus, I’ve always thought that preserving your naivety and your hubris was something worth fighting for. I often find myself thinking about the unlikelihood of anything I want coming to pass and it leads me down a spiral of doubt giving me nothing but hours and hours of wasted time. Naivety and hubris on the other hand allow you to create like never before since in the world of dreams and fairytales, anything is possible. Coming out of that world always feels like a horrible, gut-wrenching kick in the balls.
I know I think I’m way more fantastic than I actually am and I know I overestimate my capabilities using previously unknown amounts of assholery, but is that so bad?
Because you’re gonna fall so hard into the pit of reality.
I know, that’s what suicide is for, it’s not like I haven’t planned for failure.
So, you’re basically a despot, believing you’ve been sent by God to save humanity, that you are the Messiah.
Nah, I just think I’m rather clever.
But like a dictator, when your empire finally falls, you’re just gonna blow your brains out?
What’s wrong with that?
Nothing, jeez, I was just asking a question.
If I manage to have the level of confidence I have now, with the level of success I have now (i.e. zero, zilch, nada), then some level of success whatsoever would probably make me able to bend over and blow myself.