William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

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13. Air Conditioning (If Equipped)

Written Tuesday night.

The bad news is that my grandmother is in the hospital. The good news is that my grandmother is in the hospital. My grandfather says she looks and sounds better being there. But every bed is in use, so they're sending her back home on Thursday morning. Her sister will come back down that day, and there'll be people here over the weekend for the observance of my grandfather's birthday. It should be interesting. It'll be my last weekend here - I'm going to PEI next Wednesday. Andy said he might have a going-away party for me, too.

My grandmother says the heat is a factor in driving so many people to the hospital, but the hospital itself can be a little bit hot. There are portable fans running non-stop all over the halls and in the rooms. Is it a concession to climate change that air conditioning is increasingly the norm in automobiles and homes, or are we just getting wealthier? Or the cars got less expensive? Or all? I suffered in plenty of hot cars when I was a kid. Air conditioning was something I saw in the manuals: "Optional" or "If Equipped" (they never were). You could usually tell where the buttons or switches for optional features were supposed to be because there'd be a blank insert in place of them. I always hated the car companies for holding back the good stuff like that.

I suggested, kind of jokingly, that my grandmother should write her memoirs. She replied that her last few months of medical comings and goings could fill a book, but I said that she should start from the beginning. Everybody who cares already knows about the medical stuff, and somebody could reconstruct the important bits from my writing anyway.

In front of a fire the other night, my cousins' stepfather called me "Saint William". I guess I'll become the patron saint for autistics? j/k I'm sure caregivers already have one. I don't really want to be a caregiver; it's just necessary sometimes. I want to live my own life for a while. My year in Japan was the closest thing I had to that. I hated my job and I had an iffy social life, but at least it was a beautiful and healthy place to live. And as much as I'd love to play House, it's a little different when it's your grandparents. ("Make sure Grampy eats right!" In that he can be as helpless as I was when I went to Japan.)

Is wanting things for yourself selfish? Yes. Should that be judged to be wrong or evil? Depends. I think we need to be a little bit selfish; I think it's necessary for survival. Not only are you in the best position to look out for yourself: if you don't do that, you'll be swept up. You need to be a little bit like, "Hey, I want as much as I can possibly get for myself" just to leave more copies of your genes. If you're too altruistic, you'll get buried. I know a guy who once mused that he'd be happy to give blood to mosquitoes if they weren't so damned annoying in sound, feel, and bite. I must ask him if he still feels that way. If people taken on the whole didn't tend to be selfish (with a proportion of giving folks mixed in to help grease the wheels), would we be any more than mosquito food? Would we vanish? I'd say "no" and "yes", but I'm far from 100% sure.

For my part, I'm not getting any opportunity at all to pass on copies of my genes (not that I look at it in those terms - that's the reason for the motivation, not the nature of the motivation itself) so I am looking forward to some kind of transformational change that I'll hopefully be able to initiate after my program is over. But there's always the possibility that it will all end up being just for self-edification. Oh boy I can write beginner-level applications now. I'll win the seventh-grade programming competition every year.

At some point I've got to get back on the math wagon too, because I'll feel defective until I do. I ran away from intermediate calculus and several other courses with my tail between my legs. Everybody else was so much better than I was that it was somewhat stupefying. I hardly got any chance at all to shine or stand out, at least not in my produced work. I treasure a compliment I got from a summer math teacher: He liked my sense of logic. Yes, as a mathematician, I'm a great philosopher.

When I look at my cousin and my uncle, both engineers, I feel like a lower grade of person. I'm quite sure they don't feel that way about me, but still I resent the way math came seemingly easy for them. It could be that I'm totally wrong here. I was also too proud to approach my uncle for help. Couldn't I get it all on my own? Didn't he? But it was the drudgery of the physics labs that really drove me out, come to think of it. That's what made me throw up my hands and walk away. Sure, genius is mostly perspiration, but it seemed like perspiration with no hope of reward. As a physics student, I was a serviceable peanut gallery.

So far, the IT program has come really easily to me. The bumps in the road so far were overcome with a little patience and discipline. So at least there's that. When I get back I'll see if they'll let me tutor programming and database for those impressionable first-years. It'll be good brain-exercise for me.
Tags: family life, sherbrooke, summer 2012

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