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«  Wed.12.06.2000  »
3:09 pm EST        22°F (-6°C) in Ann Arbor
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As I write, I am feeling the sedative effects of a 12-hour extra-strength Sudafed. At least it's mostly taking care of whatever sinus problem I started having early yesterday. I'm still a little irritated up in there — set those sinus-cavity-sized explosive devices over there, please — but I don't feel like I'm ready to just hide and die like I did yesterday.

The funny thing is, only sinus illnesses ever affect me psychologically like that. I'm still my old self whenever I have the stomach flu, or a sore throat, or most anything else, but whenever my allergies go nuts on me, I become really pissy and depressed. It must have something to do with expanding sinuses putting too much pressure on my two brain cells, or something along those lines.

I wanted to talk a bit more about my parents and their latest escapades. During our phone conversation on Monday night, my father mentioned that I "have to be in school somewhere in January." I asked him why he felt this way; the only response forthcoming was, "That's what we want for you." "Why do you want it for me?", I asked, trying to clarify his motives; he repeated, "That's what we want for you." By this time, it should be becoming obvious that he has a hidden motive; I suspect that he expects me to cover for his irresponsible retirement planning.

My father is 50 years old right now, meaning he has another 15 years left in the workforce. "I'm retiring way before that, though," he always says; but he can't afford to retire before 65, given his current retirement savings. It is not my place to discuss exact amounts here, but I can say this much: he and my mother will not survive longer than eight years on the amount he has saved now. Even my figure of eight years assumes that they don't spend a dime on anything other than housing-related expenses (property taxes, utilities, etc.), food and medicine, and other vital supplies. That means no new cars, no new clothing, no new household appliances (the washer and dryer are older than I am, and the refrigerator was bought in 1981), no non-vital expenses, period. Furthermore, that doesn't even begin to take into account a possible need for nursing home care as they age.

Assuming he puts the maximum amount of money allowed by most 401(k) plans into his fund each year until retiring at 65, he can approximately double what he currently has. If they don't spend a dime outside of housing and food/medicine, they can make it to about 80 years old. However, I expect two things: (1) they will have to spend money on other things at some point, and (2) at least my father will most likely live beyond 80 — not that I don't like my mother, just that her health is a bit more questionable than my father's.

What's the point of all this family information, you're asking? Everything I've said, at least to me, backs up my theory that they're going to look to my sister and me to provide for them through retirement. I think they hope that an engineering degree will lead to a $70,000-a-year job, from which I can provide for them. However, even if I did have said $70,000-a-year job, I'd say something like this: "I remember how you acted toward me 20 years ago. Have a nice day.", before slamming the door in their face.

As I said in the December 1 update here, this is my life; I am not here to live it at everybody else's whim. That is not to say that I want no responsibility in my life — quite the contrary is true — rather, I need to have control over and full knowledge of what those responsibilities are. To be able to do that, I have to become independent of my parents. To become independent of my parents, I have to leave school — as long as they're paying the tuition, they maintain control.

On the subject of school, I just thought I'd mention that I'm already mostly "done" with it, and have been for a while. I haven't been to a single academic function since November 17, already three weeks ago this Friday. I do plan to go to my final exams, which are coming in a little over a week, but that will probably be about it. If this accomplishes my goal of leaving U-M ("you must get a 3.1" — Stephenie Bulmon) by force, so be it.

I was thinking a while ago; I imagine some people who are reasonably new to this journal (last month or so) probably get the idea that I'm nothing more than a selfish little prick that hates everybody and everything. That is absolutely not true; you have to keep in mind how many times, and by how many people, I've been screwed over. If I didn't talk about the people and situations that screwed me over here on this site, I'd go insane holding everything in. My writing here is one of the things that keeps me sane. I'm sure my life will improve down the road, once I have been independent for a while; if you're still not convinced that I'm not really "Mr. Negativity," read my updates here in six months. Just think about how maddening it must be to an adult bird to have its wings clipped. It knows how to fly, but circumstances beyond its control keep it grounded. That is how I feel about my situation right now.

Finally, I know some people will think I'm a fool for making the decisions that will lead to my independence, but all I have to say to them is that I know I'm going to be the underdog, and I relish that role. The feisty Italian streak in my blood screams out, "Bring it on!" I've been the underdog in a lot of situations before, and have come out victorious; I can do it again.