Jah Bless, or A Privileged Kid's Lament

I guess in most peopleís eyes I had a cool childhood. At least thatís what people are telling me. And I guess I understand why they would. If youíve spent all your life in Suben am Inn it probably sounds cool if someone has lived on four continents before the age of 12, including such ďexoticĒ places as Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, or Cambodia. However, what most people donít seem to think about is that this can be a serious handicap once you do move to Suben am Inn. Like, you donít exactly fit in. And itís not that easy to make yourself fit into a place like Suben am Inn either. Like, definitely more difficult than, say, Ulan Bator. At least when you are used to that kind of thing. But what would have prepared me for Suben am Inn? So, moving there when I was 12 sure wasnít what youíd call a great experience. In fact, itís the reason why I hate my parents. And donít get me wrong: I still do. You donít get over these things. Now of course I donít have to deal with my parents anymore. But let me start from the beginning:

My dad worked for Exxon. A pretty bad thing to begin with you might say. But I donít concern myself much with politics. Especially not with regard to my parents. Iím more concerned with their fucked up personalities.

So, my dad worked for Exxon, and thatís why we moved around all the time. Letís see, the first 12 years of my life I lived in: the US, Canada, Russia, Scotland, Nigeria, Bahrain, Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Cambodia. Not bad, ha? Then my parents moved back to Australia (which I had particularly enjoyed) but decided that moving around and changing school all the time was no good for us kids, and so they sent us back to where they themselves originated from: Upper Austria. Why on earth they chose Suben am Inn will always remain a mystery to me (I have never heard any explanation that made any sense to me) since neither of my parents was actually from there (dad was from Linz, mom from some hamlet near Wels), but that wasnít even the point. Any of those holes in Upper Austria would have been equally bad.

Oh, who was us? I had a little sister. She was only six years old when this happened. Now check this: My parents said that it had become obvious to them that we were rootless and had problems with that. How can you tell a six-year old girl is rootless and has problems with it? Unless youíre a psychic maybe. And, believe me, neither of my parents was a psychic. Psycho maybe, yes, but obviously thatís different. So, this just tells you how full of shit they were. In reality, we kids just got on their nerves, so they looked for an excuse to dump us, turning it around like theyíre actually doing us a favor. To enhance our ďpersonal developmentĒ or something. Give me a fucking break.

In the end things did work out better for my sister. She was young enough to adapt, plus she was smart, plus she was brave. I saw her knock out quite a few of those smartass Upper Austrian peasant kids. I liked that. She didnít need me around as the older brother protecting her. She knew how to take care of herself.

It was almost more like I would have needed her. I found no way into that Upper Austrian boysí community I was now supposed to be part of. I was used to hanging out with trilingual peers, not with folks who couldnít even speak their own mother tongue properly. I was used to friends who talked about moving to Gabon or Belize next, not to ones thinking that Schwertberg was a metropolis. I was used to parents of friends who were diplomats and CEOís, not mechanics and office clerks in the Gemeindamt. And I was used to go on outings with my friends in Mercedes and Porsches, not old Mazda 323ís with fake spoilers and weird looking splashes of purple or orange spraypainted on them. You know what I mean. How was I supposed to fit in with this crowd? I didnít even play soccer. You play rugby in international schools.

We stayed with my momís sister in Suben am Inn. ďAunt RosieĒ. Doesnít that say it all? You might think that she was the reason we moved to Suben am Inn. Not true. She still lived in that hamlet near Wels before we were banished to Austria. She only moved to Suben am Inn Ďcause we did. Go figure. I donít know what kind of deal she struck with my mom for that. At least she was kinda fun. I gotta give her that. She didnít care much about what me and my sister did. I think she got paid to look after us and thatís why she decided to move there. Away from the folks and all. And she sure made use of that. There were different men over at the house all the time. Aunt Rosie had quite a reputation in that respect. But back then that didnít interest me much. I was more interested in why I had been thrown into this dump. And why not only me, but my sister too. I asked Aunt Rosie once. She said that my parents had expressed worries that my sister would turn out like me. That didnít exactly help much.

These days my sister is on my side. She thinks my parents sucked too. As I said, she didnít have any problems adapting; in fact, she pretty much became an Upper Austrian poster girl, if you will: dirndl and braids and skiing medals and all that. But I think eventually she felt deprived of the experiences of living abroad and hanging with people making a billion a year and having folks paid for bringing you cookies and milk whenever you wanted, and just feeling overall important - especially since I always told her how cool that was.

But these days everything is better. I donít even wanna think about those high school days anymore. It wasnít even like I was bullied. I did stand my ground, and somehow there was a kind of weird respect that the dumb kids had for me after all. I guess their parents must have told them that my parents were rich. This always sways power over people. Especially dumb peasant folks. But I was, well, what youíd call ostracized, I guess. Like, I had absolutely zero friends. Nil. If it hadnít been for the computer, I think I would have been seriously left without social contact. (And donít give me that shit about computers not making a proper substitute for ďrealĒ friends. Computers are awesome. They are stimulating, they are loyal, and you can even program them to be kind if you know how to do these things. What else are you looking for in a friend? - Okay, I admit, there are some advantages of having people friends: like you can play rugby with them, pinch them, get drunk. But I was only reminded of that once I was out of high school.)

My parents had wanted me to attend university in Hamburg. Germany? You gotta be kidding. Austria was bad - but Germany!? While Hitler was laughed at in Vienna, he took over the high and mighty neighbor to the north with a couple of political charades like it wasnít a thing. Thatís why Germans get off on making fun of Austrians so much. To disguise the fact that the man who had driven them into the greatest moral catastrophe that has ever beset a European nation was an Austrian loser. I didnít need any of that misdirected collective psychotherapy. Being around the losers themselves was bad enough. Being around those who had a hang-up about having allowed one of them to screw them over I could definitely do without.

In fact, I didnít attend anything. I grabbed a backpack and bailed. To Africa. It was cool. I finally met people I could relate to again. Rich expatsí kids, volunteers, travelers. I didnít discriminate much socially, even though some of the volunteers and travelers seemed a bit rough around the edges, but what the hell. At least they knew that Djibouti wasnít a coffee brand.

I eventually made it to Malawi and lay on the lake all day smoking reefer and trying to pretend to be a Rastafarian like those other white kids from various countries I smoked reefer with. Sometimes an African guy would bring us a Coke. It felt pretty much like being back in international school, just with a rougher crowd and less money.

My parents died a year ago in a plane crash in the Australian outback. Was I sad? Ya, right I was. I had an extra big spliff on the lake that day, and then got on a plane to Vienna, and then on a train to Linz to sort out the inheritance.

I have a lot of dough now. But I donít wanna waste it. One thing I realized in Malawi was that working was really unnecessary if you were white and privileged. Sure, if you didnít make a billion a year but only had a certain amount of money to operate with, you had to do it wisely, but you could get by. And getting by rather than working for Exxon was definitely more in Jahís sense too. I had learned that much. After all, Exxon was seriously Babylon. (True, itís still Exxonís money Iím gonna be living off, but thatís different. Like, have you ever seen that movie with Everlast, that dude from House of Pain who then got a heart attack or something and is now doing solo stuff? Anyway, so in this movie there is this other guy who used to be on MTV, whatís his face?, Dennis Leary or something, and he is a really, really bad guy, and he pulls out a wad of money for Everlast, who I think is a bad guy too but not that bad Ė anyway, Dennis Leary wants to pay him for something, and he pulls out this wad of money, and Everlast looks at it and goes: ďit has blood on itĒ, and Dennis Leary goes, now check this: ďhave you ever seen any without?Ē Isnít that a killer line? In any case, thatís what Iím sayiní.)

I convinced my sister too that this was the real way to go and she dropped out of high school. Iím really proud of her. We are in Thailand now, chilliní on the islands. My sister smokes at least as much reefer as I do. She is really cool.

So everything worked out just fine in the end. Justice and all, ya know. Jah Bless.

(2004)