Sluta ljuga för oss, Sverige!

En vän skrev nedanstående text i ett inlägg på Facebook.

Jag går en utbildning och nu ska vi ut och “praktisera” på företag. I min naiva bubbla har jag trott att alla som vill något får en chans på arbetsmarknaden. Dessvärre verkar det som att några i klassen med utländsk(utomeuropeisk) bakgrund har väldigt svårt för att få plats på ett företag. Trodde inte tröskeln var så hög. Själv löste jag det genom att ringa ett företag och fick napp på andra försöket. Avtal skrevs och sen var det klart. En 20-årig kille i klassen som kom från Syrien 2015 och har svensk examen från naturvetenskapliga programmet får inte plats efter att ha sökt på 40 olika företag. Han har full närvaro på Yrkeshögskolan och goda studieresultat. Han har körkort och referenser från arbetslivet. Fixade sommarjobb till honom och han försov sig inte en enda gång. Även på jobbet hade han full närvaro. Har hört att man får “allt gratis och serverat” när man kommer till Sverige. Man får verktygen och materialet, men jävlar en del måste jobba hårt. Så kanske de får en plats. Han måste vara stark. Det var inte en dag för sent att börja plugga för mig. Har nog lärt mig mer om människor än automation när allt kommer omkring.

Texten syftar på narrativet att det handlar “bara” om att skaffa ett job och behärska det svenska språket. Klarar man av dessa öpnnas dörren till Sverige, allt blir tillgängligt möjligt och utförbart. Jag befinner mig i ett mellanförskap, mellan nysvensk i vuxenåldern och förstagenerations invandrarskap i barndomen. Jag har varit svensk medborgare sedan 1996 men har inte det sociala kontakter som de flesta fick i barndomen. Jag är inte uppvuxen med samma vänner sedan förskolan.

Men sedan jag flyttade tillbaka för sex år sedan köpte jag på narrativet, samhällets kära snuttefilt. Lärde mig språket igen och tog till mig några idiom. Skaffade ett jobb. Det blev inte en orkan av vänner och socialt kapital som utlovad trots att jag ansträngde mig och gjorde vad som föreslogs. Bytte bana. Pluggade det jag ville. Försökte skaffa ett jobb bortom yrket. Gick inte. Stängda dörrar.

Det visade sig att att jag utvecklade känslan av berättigande efter ett tag. Varför skaffar jag inte vänner?! Varför blir det inte som det ska?! Jag har gjort allt.

Det funkar inte så i Sverige. Det spelar faktiskt ingen roll alls vad du har gjort eller åstadkommit. Du har inte förtjänat något mer än någon annan. Med språket och jobbet har du endast blivit som alla andra.

Vill du har mer? Kämpa. Förvänta inte dig ett skit av någon annan, samhället eller staten.

Finns det motgångar? Bli kreativ och hitta vägar runt dem.

Sluta gnälla, Mina. Ingen bryr sig. Staten bryr sig inte.

Faktum är att det spelar roll att man har ett utomeuropeiskt namn.

Det spelar roll att man har mörka ansiktsegenskaper.

Det spelar roll att de flesta svenskar oavsett etnicitet inte vill skaffa nya vänner eller släppa in nya kontakter.

Det spelar roll att man är äldre, har inga kontakter och har inte varit här sedan man har varit på barnsben.

Har du något yrke då ska du vara tacksam. Håll tyst nu.

Vill du göra något annat hjälper vi inte dig. Finns andra som är viktigare än dig, som har mer kritiska behov. Du har en sysselsättning. Håll tyst nu.

Känner du någon? Nej? Håll tyst.

Ibland säger en vän att han tänder på sköna tjejer med härlig humor men han blir faktiskt ihop med stela träningsnarkomaner. Han är varken ond eller skev. Han har ingen självinsikt. Hans verklighetsuppfattning är obeprövad.

Denna man är Sverige. Sverige visslar i mörkret och hävdar naivt att påståendena stämmer. Om inte får staten fixa. Inte min grej vetdu.

Narrativet är osant inte för att samhället ljuger utan det svenska samhället har inte behövt tänka på det. Det behöver inte göra det. Allt är ordnat.

Längst ner i vännens inlägg bifogade han en bild som kan tolkas som att nazismen ska slopas. Jag delar inte hans slutsats, att problematiken med sin väns misslyckande i arbetsmarknaden är på grund av nazism som måste bekämpas. Jag tycker att samhället inte vill acceptera att det handlar om namn, utseende och socialt kapital. Och om Sverige accepterar dessa… då blir inte Sverige “ett bra land”, det blir inte modernitets mecca längre. Det blir som alla andra länder. Sverige har ingen moraliskt övertag längre.

Sverige, du är i förnekelse. Sluta ljuga för dig själv och oss som flyttade hit. Tala om för oss sanningen. Då kan vi antingen stanna kvar och acceptera eller protestera och eventuellt gå vidare någon annanstans.

A Rant about Co-opting International Men’s Day

I’ve been told that today is International Men’s Day. Remarks:

  1. Men don’t need International Men’s Day.
  2. How is it different from any other day?
  3. I hereby boycott this day and if you’re celebrating it today, you’re a very silly boy.

Please don’t celebrate this blatantly nonsensical and unnecessary day.

… unless you’re willing to try out the following suggestions.

A Proposed Way to Celebrate International Men’s Day

1) The next time a guy physically assaults or catcalls a woman, either in front of you or he tells you, don’t laugh. Don’t snigger. Don’t stay silent. Call him out. And suffer the social consequences.

2) The next time someone makes a rape joke online or in front of you, don’t laugh. Don’t tweet about it. Be silent and then call him out. And suffer the social consequences.

3) The next time you see a woman being verbally assaulted online by a guy, jump in and shut him up. Or at least call him out. And suffer the social consequences.

4) The next time someone makes blatant or veiled sexist jokes or comments about women, don’t join in the har-har. Be silent and then make a call whether you will call him out today or do it later. But do it someday. And suffer the social consequences.

This is only a start and this is by no means the only things men can do. But this is a start, an uncomfortable start, an unpopular start.

If you do any or all of the above, congratulations. You’re celebrating “International Men’s Day”. You know what it’s called? Basic human decency. It could be the tagline for this “day” – “International Men’s Day. Basic human decency!” If you suffer consequences because of any of this, congratulations. You’re celebrating “International Men’s Day”. If there is going to be a day in the year where men do things that other men find objectionable, and then they receive ?? recognition for it, let it be this day.

Now, celebrate this “day” and don’t tell anyone, especially women, that you did any of the above. Just do it and shut up.

Otherwise, if you want to eat a steak and grab your dingus while you rail about how “women are taking over”, you are in fact truly, madly, deeply sick.

This was posted originally on my Facebook account three days ago.

Epilogue: The Woman From the Poem

I wrote last month about the woman from the poem. This is where I ended off:

We reconnected recently. She explained. I apologized. And I told her about the poem. And when I found it here on my Medium, I sent it to her.

I’m back on that stage, with one person in the audience. She’s still reading my performance.

And I’m waiting for her to walk out silently or talk to me after the show.

… and this is what happened. She responded. She loved the poem. We bonded over words and IMs. We shared music. We had pillow-talk, where I imagined her voice reading out her messages first thing in the morning. It escalated. Then, it ended. Because of her partner. Like last time, she disappeared.

I cried and grieved for days. And then it was over. Behind me.

Sharing a Poem with the Person You Wrote It For

Credit: PhotoAtelier (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

I wrote my poem Don’t Slay Me four years ago, in one sitting, with no editing or drafts.

Message me tonight
Tell me that you can’t do it
because I want to tell you
That there’s a riot going on in my heart

voices hoarse because of you
my heart sore because there’s no you
bringing peace to the disorder

I dream about moving hair away from your eyes
I want to look into them
and see where my place is in them

You told me to surrender
and I have
I have acquiesced to you, the impostor
You may come now into this old hardened castle
with rotten moats and dying doors

Don’t slay me unless you’re going to kiss me
Don’t end me unless you will fall into my arms to celebrate
Don’t smother me unless you will pour sex into my pores
Don’t bury me unless you carve your bed into my chest

I was in love with the woman for whom I wrote this poem, in a way that disarmed me and left me vulnerable, as if naked on stage and I had no plans to be on that stage.

There are a few strong strains of emotion in this poem that haven’t come up in my other work. The direct and open longing for someone, is not something I had expressed in a while. I thought that that type of quiet pleading was something I left behind with the adolescent poems from high school. But, this wasn’t adolescent. This was adult and this was direct, “don’t slay me/don’t end me/don’t bury me”.

Then, there is the direct mention of sex. I have a strained relationship with sex and sexuality. I talk about it in hushed tones and sing about it with bravado. That shows the tension, I suppose. But here, I say to her very openly, that sex is between us. Or, that’s what I want. Wanted. If anything, this poem is a step towards being sexual with someone else, to express a sexual desire.

Finally, there’s the call to action that perhaps is the product of the first two characteristics. Love me. Touch me. Be with me. Don’t slay me. Kiss me. Don’t kill me. That is intimacy and that is confidence, two things I haven’t allowed myself to have in relationships.

I met this woman, and our conversations developed into a thick cloud of desire and longing. We went on one date. And then it ended. She withdrew.

We reconnected recently. She explained. I apologized. And I told her about the poem. And when I found it here on my Medium, I sent it to her.

I’m back on that stage, with one person in the audience. She’s still reading my performance.

And I’m waiting for her to walk out silently or talk to me after the show.

Wordless Intimacy

Credits: DodgertonSkilllhause

A couple sat in front of me on the underground today. They both took out their phones on settling in. He put his hand though on her thigh and it just stayed there.

Every now and then, they would come up for air from their phones, to leave little feather kisses on each other’s mouthes. It was truly beautiful and sublime to watch.

Every time they did it, it seemed like they would slow down as their lips touched. It wasn’t rushed, like kiss me so I can get back to Facebook, but rather I’ll meet you here in this moment.

Two people on their way to work, average-looking like I am, present and together, even as they’re doing different things, not having to talk or chit-chat to be together, their intimacy woven together with selfless physical contact and light kisses.

I really saw intimacy in action today.

On Growing Up

I saw a woman today for whom I have feelings. It’s a quiet, warm affection I have for her. I’m happy when I see her face. My body tingled when I’m around her.

I wanted to try to like her less today or in a less intense way. But I don’t fight like that anymore with myself. I accept and I surrender. Then, the feelings stay but they go quiet. They may have just wanted to be seen. Like putting with care a pacifier into an irritable child’s mouth.

Our last couple of hugs have been relaxed and charged with meaning. Familiar hugs. You know that they’re going to let go, but you’re not in a rush.

She’s strong, solemn, a fighter, and warm. I miss her when I don’t see her.

The Past Three Days

I know I went dark these past three or four days. It was dark and it felt dark.

Life revolved around keeping head above water. It looked possible at a few points that I would sink again.

By the grace of God, I didn’t. I just fought through it, a war of attrition through every moment until the enemy retreated.

I am left with a sense of longing, more than shame or guilt. The past weeks before this week’s toil were just great – immersed in the creative arts and blogging every day.

Back on track now. Till tomorrow!

The Curse of Over-engineering

We have two half days (affectionately known as Freaky Fridays) at work a month, where we get to work on our own projects or explore something new. Yesterday was dedicated to exploring Angular 2.

I thought that it might be a good opportunity to test it out in a real-world application – my Flashcards app to help me learn Swedish vocabulary.

The syntax isn’t too dissimilar from AngularJS, but rather is abstracted in more boilerplate code. Getting a basic app going, by following the Quickstart Guide, wasn’t too difficult.

“Look at where you have to be.”

Then, there was a knock at the door. It was Earl, the Grim Reaper of Over-Engineering. He asked me to remember that I am a software engineer and that everything has to be TIP TOP from build one.

So, the curse kicked in and I started scrambling to get the basic setup working with Webpack. I tried cramming in a Webpack tutorial, alongside the Angular 2 tutorial. Soon, it just became about cursing the day Webpack was built and racing through Stackoverflow, hoping someone else wrote something to make everything PERFECT now.

10 minutes before the end of the day, I realized… wait.

The goal was to learn Angular 2 and use it to build an app.

That’s it.

I told Earl that there was another engineer across the street, about to do something simple. He scurried away.

I gutted out the Webpack configuration and stuck with the lite-server package suggested in the Quickstart guide.

Moral of the story: fuck Earl and fuck over-engineering.

 

Learning How to Work in a Team

I am working on a new feature for one of our microservices. It’s about a medium-sized T-shirt that involves working with AngularJS’s ui-router, working with new API endpoints, and writing some CSS from scratch. I’m excited! And a little daunted…

To work against being overwhelmed and becoming unproductive, I focused on tackling the hardest part first – the routing and views. I knew that I was going to work with ui-router, so I read through a few tutorials and brushed up on routing in AngularJS.

I then put together quickly some mock views to connect to the new states and routes. This felt better than starting to code markup and styling, I had to remove the unknown first.

The tutorials only got me so far, so I stopped and thought about it. I did some searches on Google. After a few iterations on this cycle, I reached out to a coworker. Instead of telling him it’s broke give me the codes!, I explained what I had done, what I was trying to achieve, and what wasn’t happening as I expected. Rather than him coming to help me google, it turned into a discussion about patterns, structuring code, and a brief pair-programming to get something working quickly. I even got some praise that my initial concept is good and that I should just find the right balance, between sound design and time spent on the solution.

I thought of this article after the whole discussion with my coworker.