“What do you like to do Bobbie?”
“What are your interests?”
“You must have hobbies”
“What music do you like?”
“What do you and your friends like to do?”
The truth is that I don’t actually have any interests, any hobbies, or any friends.
I don’t like TV.
There are very few movies that I like.
I don’t like electronics.
I understand electronics. But I don’t like dabbling in electronics.
I bought various electronic kits over the years. For example I used the Raspberry Pi for a bit, I’ve also used the Arduino kits. Setting them up and programming them is easy enough. There’s just nothing inside of me that gives me any joy programming these devices.
I don’t like computers.
I can use computers. Computers are a tool just like any other tool. I can set them up. I can use them for writing reports. I can scan and archive. But I really don’t care for computers.
When my brother came to visit last year he said that he was sure that I liked cars. Nope. I understand how they work. I can work on them. But I don’t like them.
Music. I really had no interest until I was in my 20s. This I think was due to the way Richard belittled me for any interest that I had shown in music at school. Throw into that the fact that Earl Ray Stevens had used my desired to learn how to play drums as a way to sexually abuse me.
Also, as a form of punishment for causing our relocation from CFB Griesbach to CFB Downsview, Richard had thrown out my stereo, my records, and my 8-track tapes as punishment. This was a record collection that Uncle Doug, grandma, and my weekend job at Pizza Plus had allowed me to build. It wasn’t large. Maybe about twenty or thirty albums and 45s. The 8-tracks were mostly Uncle Doug’s. I was 11 when Richard threw out my stereo. The stereo had belonged to grandma, and it was mine when we moved from CFB Namao to CFB Griesbach. Uncle Doug bought grandma a new stereo system for her bedroom.
When we were younger and living on Canadian Forces Base Downsview, my brother always accused me of picking on him and making fun of the groups that he listened to. Even when I went up to Edmonton in 2013 and saw him over the summer he quizzed me to see if I knew the songs he was playing. And then he told me that he was always ashamed to sing along with his bands because I used to “tease him” when we were younger.
Tease him? Nope. I was going to Junior High in the period of ’84 through ’87. Poison, Cinderella, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Twisted Sister, Motley Crue, et. al. were standard fare at school and on the radio. I liked Van Halen, Quiet Riot, Slade, Queensryche, all the way to Supertramp, Bruce Hornsby and the Range, Peter Gabriel. So, it wasn’t that I didn’t like his music, or that I thought his music sucked. What I deeply despised him for was that he could play his music at any volume in his bedroom and neither Richard nor Sue would give a flying fuck. If I turned my music up above barely audible, Richard would fly off the fucking handle. My brother was allowed to have a stereo. I had to scrap together a used stereo out of a van. So yeah, there was some angst created there. I don’t know if Richard intentionally created this rivalry, or if he was just so fucking stupid that he didn’t realize what he was creating. What my brother also seems to forget is that Richard would make non-stop snide comments about the music we listened to. The comments didn’t seem to have much impact on my brother. It was like he was oblvious to Richard’s contempt. For some reason I was super sensitive to Richard’s snide comments and his put downs. C’est la vie I guess.
I think my lack of interest in TV comes down to two things.
The first was having a stunted imagination as a child. After the events on CFB Namao, and after being involved with Captain Terry Totzke, and with my father’s reaction to the events on CFB Namao, any imagination I had as a child was killed. Richard’s demeaning comments and his frequent sarcastic putdowns would kill the imagination in just about everyone he came in contact with. But the weird thing was he loved the original Star Trek, he loved the original Dr. Who, he loved Bug Bunny, and he loved the Batman TV series. I’ll never figure him out. He’s dead and gone. All I can put it down to is his self centred perspective and his superiority complex.
The second was that Sue would insist that we play outside which was fine with me as on Downsview I was mostly heading off to work at my after school jobs. On Griesbach things were a little worse as I only had my weekend job at Pizza Plus so week nights were spent wandering around North Edmonton no matter what the weather was like, and yeah, Edmonton can be quite cold in the winter.
So yeah, I’ve never really formed an attraction to TV.
When I met up with my brother last year, we went for a long walk around the seawall. He wanted to talk about whether or not I was really serious about wanting to undergo medical assistance in dying. I assured him that I was very serious about this and I explained to him why as well as my justifications for wanting to die.
I don’t know if he honestly believes that I was a psychiatrically fucked up as I was, or if Richard’s frequent assertions that I was just “acting up to get attention” have made it impossible for him to understand.
As we walked around the seawall we talked about other things, such as my skills with fixing cars. We ended up on the topic of electronics. He wanted to know why I wasn’t more involved with electronics. I told him that I was never very good at electronics to begin with, and that as I had no diploma in electronics any skills that I had were nothing more than a “hobby”. He replied that I had built so many things as a kid that he was sure that I liked electronics.
I told him that the one time it became very crystal clear to me that electronics was never to be in the cards for me was when I was in grade 8 and I had put together a helium-neon laser for science fair. I had salvaged the parts out of a couple of old Pioneer Video Laserdisc players. Mr. Bowles, my grade 8 science teacher was very impressed with the project and my writeup of how ionizing gas laser tubes worked. My father was pissed off because Mr. Bowles called my father at work to try to convince him that I should enter my project at the National Science Fair in Ottawa. My brother replied to me that I didn’t really build that laser, I just took it from a laserdisc player.
****insert abrupt vinyl record scratch noise here***
Narrator: It was at this point that Bobbie realized that maybe he was wrong, that maybe there was an afterlife, and that his dysfunctional father had risen from the grave and had gained control of his brother’s vocal cords in order to issue insults from beyond the grave.
Yeah, that was Richard’s thing back then. That I was just too fucking stupid to make anything on my own. That I was too fucking dumb to do anything with my life. That I was a liar. That I was fucking insane like my mother. That I had fucked with his military career.
And sure, it’s true the parts came from two non-functional video laserdisc players. But it took me picking the parts out of two players to make one functional 5mw helium-neon laser. These lasers, because of how much energy they emitted were under very strict control of the laserdisc player CPU. This meant that the laser power supply had to be modified to allow the laser to start and run without the CPU controlling it.
I had also built from scratch the twin 20watt push-pull power amplifiers that would drive the radial and tangential correction mirrors that I had repurposed into scanning mirrors. I could feed audio into the amplifiers and have the laser make patterns on the wall. I could feed the output of a frequency generator into the amplifier and make shapes on the wall. I could even feed the analog X-Y signals from an old Vectrex video game into the amplifier and play vector scan graphic video games on the wall. Was quiet messy though as I couldn’t figure out how to blank the beam.
It was basically Richard belittling and ridicule of my electronics skills that made me turn my back on electronics.
The final knife in my back came a few years later when I was servicing arcade games, pinball machines, and jukeboxes. I would have been around 16. The company that I worked for, Rainbow Games, had a Championship Sprint game in the shop that their technician couldn’t fix. This technician had a diploma from DeVry and a diploma from ITT Tech. He had been working on the game for weeks and couldn’t solve the problem. They were about to give up on this machine and scrap it for parts. I went through the schematics, went through the error codes list, and found that the problem was caused by a faulty 8-bit bi-directional latch on the data bus between the mother board and the graphics processor board. It took me two days to do what this DeVry / ITT tech trained technician couldn’t do. Hey Bruce, hey Ed, can I get a pay raise seeing as how I’m fixing more equipment than Len. Nope, sorry Rob, but you’re not a certified technician, it wouldn’t be right for us to pay you more without a diploma.
So, that drove the final nail into the coffin of my interest in electronics.
Computers honestly were never a thing for me.
So…… what are my interests?
I have no interests or desires.
I think that the depression that I inherited from Richard also explains why Richard was the way he was. He really didn’t have any interests either. What he had though was a gun pointed at his head. He had to learn avionics / aeroframe mechanics / electronics / computers if he wanted to be able to stay in the Canadian Forces. When Richard joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1963 at the age of 17 with a grade 8 education and a remark from the enrolment officer stating that Richard was developing into a bit of a “rebel” in school, the Navy was more than happy to accept people like Richard. As the years went by though, the requirements to enlist went up and the expectations placed on the currently enlisted went up as well.
Richard’s education level is debatable. When I examined him for federal court in 2013, he claimed that he had grade nine. His enrolment records into the military also say grade nine. However, when I met Marie in 2013 I asked her how Richard and she met. She said that her brother, my uncle Al, and Richard had both attended the same grade 9 remedial program in Nova Scotia before they were allowed to join. Either Richard’s grade nine marks were too low to meet the requirements, or he only completed some of his grade nine.
By the time I tried to enlist when I was 18 grade 10 was the absolute minimum and there weren’t many trades in the military open with that minimal qualification. Grade 12 was preferred. And university or college was desired.
I don’t think that my father really had an interest in electronics or computers as his depression wouldn’t allow for it. My father did have the ability to learn electronics and computers, but that was mainly so that he could save his career in the military. In the ’70s and the ’80s there really wasn’t much need for a unilingual anglophone with a grade nine education.
I know first hand just how crushing depression can be, especially major depression.
Where did Richard’s sarcasm, his pettiness, and his desire to mock and ridicule come from? That I will never know. With my depression I’ve never felt the desire to ridicule or mock anyone. I just want to be left alone when I hit one of my crushing depressions. I know that grandma could be cruel. But I don’t remember her as ever being the type to mock or into ridicule. She was a very authoritarian type person who loved to discipline. I don’t know when exactly Arthur Herman Gill left grandma. I remember that Richard and his father were not close at all. Is that where Richard picked up his need to ridicule and mock? I don’t know when exactly Roy William Anderson and grandma hooked up. I honestly don’t remember much of Andy as he was only with us a short time before he slipped in the bathtub and suffered severe brain damage. Was Andy married to my grandmother when Richard was young? Did Andy mock and ridicule Richard?
Not my concern where Richard got his issues from.
What is my concern is that Richard, his defective parenting skills, his depression, his sarcasm, his need to feel superior, his need to ridicule, and his need to mock left a trail of destruction in his path.
And that is why I mainly feel completely void and empty and for the most part worthless.
And please, I’m not trying to be rude, but don’t try to cheer me up. Compliments are the hardest thing for me to accept. You could say that I have major trust issues. And when I was young, compliments were a way that people got their hands into my pants, or got me to do things for them.
So, as truthful as you may be with your compliments, my trust issues are burnt so deeply into my brain that I will never be able to accept a compliment without assuming that you’re buttering me up for something.
And trust me, it’s not you.
I know that.
One thought on “Empty on the inside”
I remember your brother’s music playing loudly. I could hear it from outside, and I was always surprised your father didn’t flip out. I knew it wasn’t just that your father wasn’t home, because sometimes Scott would be locked out because (I think) you guys weren’t allowed to have a key to the house. I remember your laser too. I didn’t understand anything you said when I read your explanation just now, but I remember it blew my ten year old mind.