SPINNING MY WHEELS – PART FOUR
Well here I was. First semester at University, and already the system had begun working me over. There were new friends and new enemies to make. As they say, “Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate”. The first thing I ran into was the prejudices of the “Private School Kids” (Anyone from the UK, can read that as PUBLIC SCHOOL. In Australia the Public ones are the ones run by the Government. The Private Schools are the ones for the RICH kids).
Apparently, because I was poor, it made me inferior. Oh, well. Hopefully a lot of them have wasted their parents fortune and can't afford to send their kids to Private Schools. Then they can look down their noses at their kids.
Studying became a chore, because I felt I was on the wrong track again. My father informed me that I wasn't allowed to change courses. You may be wondering what had happened to the Computer Programming Compromise I had worked out previously. During my last year of school, all my friends were adamant they were doing Physics Degrees. Somehow I got caught up in that too, and felt it was a good way to go. My parents thought it was Okay too, because it wasn't Arts. In my Year book though, I wanted to put down that I wanted to be a Musician. People kept telling me it was childish and no one becomes a musician (but what about those who ARE musicians?). So I compromised. I went for the computer thing again, but people were convincing me I wouldn't be a programmer. So I put down 'Data Processor'. What a stupid ambition. I wish to this day I stuck down “Musician/Writer/Artist”. It would have been truer to myself. Once again though, I compromised myself for the opinion of others.
You might be wondering something. Did I always do what others tell me? A psychologist asked me the same question once. The answer unfortunately is, “Yes”. That sort of changed for a while, but not for a few years. Then I fell back into it when I was married.
You might think I am being too personal and open with my life. I have discovered two things that I both know and feel are true about myself. The only way I ever seem to get things done, and be happy, is when my life is naked and I do things my own way. Keeping secrets about myself, and compromising myself only leads to failure and misery. The sad thing is, I discovered this when I was about twelve, yet always seem to stumble from this path into other paths I wish not to take.
I think what a lot of life comes down to, is trying to justify your actions. Years ago, someone asked me why I liked certain bands.
I replied, “The only reason to listen to certain music, is because you like it. Everything other reason is meaningless.”
In life, we try to justify some of the things we are doing with other reasons. There are many reasons to do and not do things. Sometimes you do something to help others. After all, humans are a social creature, and should help one another. It's how we survived against the climate, wild animals and ourselves. Today, the world is a larger place, and the whole human race could and should be able to help each other out. I think the recent Tsunami showed it was possible. It is a pity it doesn't happen the rest of the time though.
In the case of where I was going in life, people didn't accept my arguments for going into Art. I liked doing art, I was good at it, I could even make a living if I was given half a chance. No! People didn't accept those answers. To me, they seemed like the only rational answers to the question. What they really wanted, was for me to choose a path which met their own agendas.
It was a case that they really wanted me to make up some story to justify me choosing their path for me.
I couldn't say, “I am doing computers because you told me to, as you don't like me doing art.”
The fact was, that was the real case. Instead I had to come up with something else.
“I am doing Computing because it is the future.”
What a lot of crap. The world changes, and though there were jobs in the Eighties and early nineties, the jobs have left. Now they're in India, and even then, languages are getting so simple and easy to do, that almost every kid and their pet dog can throw together four lines of code and claim they wrote a program.
In my case, I tried to get into Physics because all my friends were doing it. I was also good at it (as per my mark from my final exam). Now Geology I was also good at. (As per my Year Eleven Results). All the time, I couldn't get over the feeling that I had somehow been ripped off. I'd put Physics as my first choice, and ended up in Geology. In fact, in my head, I was far down the list of places I wanted to be heading. My first choices in alphabetical order had been, “actor, artist, director, musician, writer”. Now I'd also compromised computing, missed out on Physics, and was in Geology.
Second semester I failed one Geology subject, not because of my marks being low, but due to my attitude. They really picked up on the fact that I really didn't want to be there. (I wasn't rude or abusive or anything.)
Getting back to first semester though, I did my best, but it was difficult. There were arguments at home. My father was always telling me I was going to fail.
His favourite line was, “Garry couldn't pass University, and so you can't!”
There was also my mother with her interruptions, because she claimed I studied too much. Then her constantly waking me four or five hours after I went to bed, because she claimed I slept too much. In spite of all this, I passed first semester. I didn't do great. No Credits or anything. Only passes.
These all compounded into my next semester. I was used to being good at subjects and getting good grades. Now, I was doing average. On top of this, my 'passing grades' made my father more antagonistic towards me. Where as my elder brother never passed a subject at University, I had. Now, he was always yelling at me to get out of the house, because he wasn't going to waste any more money on me. I then went against my fathers orders, and spoke to the Physics department about transferring to Physics. It is interesting to note though, at this stage my mother was doing daycare, and was paying for all our food, clothes, and other things. The only thing my father was paying for was rent. He kept every other cent he earned for himself. Another thing he liked to say to me, was he expected me to pay him back for all the money he'd spent on me. (ie Food, Clothing, rent, Doctors bills etc ). My usual comeback was I would when he paid his father back. He didn't like that.
There was an added problem. I now had a subject which didn't finish till nine at night. I couldn't catch the bus as there wasn't one at that hour to my place. I had to catch another one which dropped me off about half an hour away (walking). I didn't mind except my father suddenly decided he wanted to pick me up. This was really weird, as he wouldn't even drive me to the library normally, which was just as far away. The few times he did pick me up, all he wanted to talk about was taking me up to Kings Cross and getting me laid by a prostitute. Very weird. I suspect this came about because he probably wanted to go to the Cross himself and get laid. Getting me laid would have been an excuse.
There was also another reason I suspect. My father had always encouraged my brothers to call me “Poofter” and other references to being “Homosexual”. At parties, he would get drunk and tell others to feel sorry for him on account of his son being “gay”. At first I wondered who he meant. I later found out ... IT WAS ME!!!!! Gees, glad someone told me. So, I received abuse from my father and brothers for being a “poofter”. [I will quickly add, (just in case you were wondering), I am not gay. Even if I was, I don't think it should matter.]
In the end though, in order to avoid his conversations with him. I started getting off at an earlier or later bus stop and walking even further home. Some days, he'd catch the same bus as me. He'd try to talk about similar stuff on the bus. It was embarrassing to say the least with the other passengers listening.
Second semester was hard because I had little to no motivation. In the end, I passed one subject and failed three. My record meant that they wouldn't allow me into Physics, but they did allow me to transfer to a Diploma in Science with a Physics Major.
My father kept yelling at me, “If I find out you've transferred, I'm throwing you out!”
I kept yelling back, “I already have transferred!”
Home became unbearable. This set up something which was probably my greatest triumph in life. I'll talk more about it tomorrow though.