Spinning My Wheels - Part One.
I am going to write this in a number of parts. Mainly, as it might be very long. Pity the person who reads them in reverse order. It might seem like a whinge at first, but try to read this objectively. I am recalling some lows in my life, and trying to analyse what truths I can from them. Hopefully from these I can use them to propel myself forward in life with better understanding. In some respects, I think this is similar to the way the philosopher Seneca used to work. Two things occurred recently which made me start thinking about how I got to where I am in life. The second thing (yes, this is in reverse order), happened today. I started to read an article about a speech given to a graduating High School Class. The first thing happened on Friday. My mother and I had a talk where we had a nice walk down memory lane. Actually, when I say 'nice', it wasn't that nice at all. They really got me thinking about some truths I learned when growing up. Believe me, I didn't have a very good time growing up. It annoys me when my mother tells me what a great time I had as a kid. When I hear the old saying that 'School Days are the Greatest Days of Our Lives', I think, 'whoever invented that saying was either having a bad adult life, or lying through their teeth'. Personally, I like to romanticize a bit and pretend life gets better. The truth though, is for me, it has been full of ups and downs. I assume it is probably different for everyone. Usually it's in the downs that I learn the most. That's why I think God (or "Life" for all you agnostics and atheists), allows these things to happen. Imagine how bad we must be if we actually deserved all the bad things which happen to us! Urgh! My mother is always a great reminder of what a terrible father I had. Not that I need reminding. She is also a reminder of what injustices have befallen me throughout my life. Sometimes I am reminded of things, because she makes comments which are the exact opposite of what happened; and other times, because she is precise in her recollections. The thing I learnt from my family, is sometimes people don't realise how much they are hurting you. My mother quite often apologizes for what a bad parent she was. In some respects she was, but in other ways, she was a good parent. She was the better of my two parents. My mothers only real flaw was in towing the family line by following my fathers lead. This is funny in many respects. I can recall my father claiming on more than one occasion that my mother was turning his children against him. She never did. She always supported him. He was never able to take responsibility for his own actions. The reason no one liked him in the family, is because of the injustices he heaped upon us all. On more than one occasion I was beaten for what he referred to as, "Something I didn't catch you doing!" In my mind (and probably those of my brothers), it came across as, "I'm frustrated and so I am going to take it out on you". My elder brother once told me what a great elder brother he was to me. During my growing up, he was usually my tormentor and the agitator who got others to torment me. On more than one occasion, I had the living daylights beaten out of me by someone I didn't know, just because my elder brother told them I said something about them. My elder brother used me as a scapegoat in order to increase his own popularity. I am glad to say, I never passed this sort of thing on to my younger brothers. On more than one occasion, I can remember kids at school calling me an idiot regarding some argument my elder brother and I had when we were at home. The problem I had with it all, was somehow the arguments seemed to have gotten reversed. What had once been my brother's point of view was suddenly being attributed to me. The thing I can take away from this, is I feel vindicated that I was correct. I am sure though, that sometimes my elder brother only started the arguments in order to annoy me. Other times he genuinely got things wrong. Another thing I learned growing up, is justice is something you need to fight for. Sometimes, no matter how hard you fight, you won't win. It's not a reason to give up the fight though. I am talking about the fight in general for justice. If you lose one battle, the war goes on. Sometimes you do need to withdraw from a battle you can't win. I personally would prefer to be in the right and lose, than be a sheep for injustice. The sheep of course, are lead by ravenous wolves. That means it's always a fight. The main problem though, is lack of justice goes hand in hand with people who don't care what the truth is. Once you realise that you are fighting against people who either know they are in the wrong, or don't care about right and wrong, then you are fighting a losing battle. I recall an incident which occurred to me at a place I worked. I was required to write some general menu programs. I did this, and passed it over to the code reviewers. The way code reviews worked (and probably still do at that company), is three other programmers get together, look your code over and decide if it meets the specifications. It has to be well written, documented, as well as do what it's supposed to do. My code failed the first code review, but passed the second one. A few months later, one of the managers came looking for the programs. I told him I had already handed them back. He insisted I had never written them. I pointed out that it had passed a code review. He wasn't just calling me a liar, but the three programmers who did the review. Even after this, he still kept insisting that I had never written the programs. If he truly believed this, then he was truly an idiot. The problem I faced, was he was unwilling to consider the facts. Rather than look at the code review and talk to the other programmers who did the review, he wanted to believe I was in the wrong. After he walked away, the code controller spoke to me and apologised because he had deleted the code by mistake. I asked the code controller why he didn't tell the manager this. He told me two things. First, he didn't want to lose his job over it. Secondly, at some managers meeting it was decided I was going to be managed out. He felt, losing his job to save me was pointless. It's funny in a way, because I ended up outlasting several of the mangers in that meeting, and I outlasted the ones who were behind the push to manage me out. (Some other day I will talk about management. It's a funny profession. Bad managers need to be two faced, carry a two edged sword and keep a double standard! Then there's the tricky side. I think I've been under more bad managers than I care to name. My advice to them, is read Machiavelli's "Discourses" more than you read "The Prince" or "The Art of War". You may learn something. For those too lazy to read it, I will summarise it for you. "If the peasants are revolting, ["Yes, they are YUCH!"] it's probably because they have a legitimate grievance. Better to find out what it is, and fix it, rather than slaughter the peasants!") Another lesson I have learned, is that people love to discriminate against others who are different. When I first went to school in Penang, the first teacher I had used to slap me. (I am sure this is now a sackable offence). The reason she did this, was because I was dyslexic. At the time I didn't think much of it, because I was always getting beaten at home, and a slap was no big deal. I still have trouble with dyslexia today, (as some of my friends can tell you when they receive e-mails with letters in the incorrect order). At this time in school though, I was doing some weird stuff. Like writing backwards. My mother still tells me that you could hold my writing up in front of a mirror and read it perfectly. Another thing I remember doing (yes, I actually remember DOING this, though I was only four and a half at the time), was writing every second letter backwards. It was a row of E's. I got a slap for that! (My mother said I used to do that all the time though. I onyl remember the row of E's)
Actually, I can remember being slapped for starting to write from the bottom of the page once too. I still remember what the teacher called me too. She said I was a “Stupid China man” ... um, a child slapper and a racist! Stupid bitch! [I am essentially white and not Chinese - just in case you can't tell]. I was fortunate in one way. A couple of teachers from Australia had come up to Penang, and heard about “this weird little kid”, who was supposedly really dumb. Couldn't write his letters the right way around or in the right order for that matter. Anyway, they wanted to try some new teaching method. I can remember being given special homework. Letters which had already been written but with dotted lines, rather than continuous lines. Well, that's what I remember anyway. So, I had to do those in my own time. Homework at the age of four! Is there no justice? Um, oh, I alreayd said there wasn't, didn't I.
Whatever it was they did, must have worked, because I now write the correct way round. I can also still write backwards ... and with the left and right hand ... and both hands at once forwards – backwards – away from each other – towards each other AND both hands at once writing different things. Neat party trick, I often get called a freak.
I only discovered the last one, because one of my friends sisters told me about it. She was telling me about how she was seeing a Doctor for depression (actually, might have been Bi-Polar disorder). Anyway, we were discussing depression (another exciting thing I suffer from - no, I'm not going to kill myself!). Her Doctor had had her try to do the handwriting thing. Left hand – right hand – both at once – forward - backwards etc etc. So she got me to try (as I told her about when I was younger). I think I was more amazed when I tried the two different things at once with two different hands. Anyway, she told me that her Psychiatrist said anyone who could do that had an IQ in the top one percent. Well, I already knew I had that, because I'd done IQ tests before. [I might just quickly add, I do write better with my right hand than my left ... most days. My youngest brother thought I was left handed when we were younger. It was the only hand he ever recalled me writing with!]
(Before I am asked, No, I don't lie awake at night wondering if there really is a Dog. I know there is!)
Well, I know a lot of people are Anti-Political Correctness. What they never take into account is what it's like to be the person being discriminated against. (Of course, some people take being PC too far. But that's another discussion I guess). Well, if you've ever been in the position where the entire class is laughing at you, because of something you can't help, then you might appreciate my position as a four and a half year old.
There is enough room in this world for people who are different. In the dark ages, I might have got burned as a witch or something. (What sort of maniac writes BOTH ways at once. Actually, just writing left handed would have done it back then!) Now we know that left handed people, dyslexics and others are human too. (Not sure about politicians though ... maybe they are)
I guess that's enough for tonight. I'll whinge and philosophize some more tomorrow.