by Niall Douglas. Last updated . This page has been accessed 5,680 times since the 8th December 2001.
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Sunday 4th August 2001: 7.10pm. It's hard realising that it's August already. That's about six more weeks or so until the one year anniversary of me coming to Spain. In other words, it's been a year in not very long now at all. That's mad.
And what's changed in a year? Almost nothing. I'm still screwed up. And recently I've had even less energy or bright feelings. Just feel spiraling downwards, not going anywhere good. No improvements, no hope, just more of the same.
One can though if one thinks about it enough offset the depression of the past year with what I've got done during it given the circumstances. Certainly my general reading level has improved immensely, something I wouldn't have had time for without living such a quiet life. I have seen and experienced quite a number of things I couldn't have done if I had not been here: sunshine for more than five days, living in a large city, art, long walks around some very abstract parks, learning a new language among others. These are all very solitary activities, I suppose easy to explain if one considers my nervousness interacting with people. I've noticed recently I definitely am experiencing negative feedback regarding all social situations, oddly work situations are no trouble - doing my job seems fine. It's just socialising with others - it's arouses a feeling much like the thought of sucking on a fresh lemon.
I suppose it must be an issue of self-esteem. It would explain partly my lack of follow-through - I seem to be having enough ideas given my new idea book which I carry around with me and within which I write ideas as they come to me. My difficulty apparently is enactment of these ideas. There is an overriding sense upon embarkation that there isn't really any point in making the effort, because I'll never succeed anyway. This interestingly does not seem to apply to computer programming which appears to be a form of escape from the real world.
Furthermore, I definitely have difficulties seeing how other people can like me or think well of me. It could be called paranoia in that I keep expecting people to dislike and make fun of me or laugh at me, it's just the difference now from a year ago is that I no longer hallucinate it happening, instead I keep expecting it and sometimes I think it might be happening but when I concentrate and listen to the words I realise that in fact I was mistaken, the conversation has nothing to do with me. This cycle, which repeats a number of times in a night, contributes to a definite feeling of uneasiness and lack of ability to relax in social situations.
This makes for an interesting suggestion. This means that my lack of fluency is holding back recovery. This would then infer I need a spell in an english speaking land to get my self-confidence bumped up a bit - if the hallucinations are gone and all I need is a spell realising without constant concentration that the people around me don't hate me, then definitely my next destination should be english-speaking and furthermore, with plenty of necessity of interaction so that I am not permitted to retreat and hide somewhere and avoid the problem.
One of my motivations behind moving to south america was the hope of it providing tests of character. A life and death situation does lots for getting out of a mental loop holding one down. Right now, I have no self-confidence in key areas and as a result a substantial fear of engaging myself within those areas. It is clear there will always be people who won't like me for some reason, but without self-confidence one cannot say to oneself that be dammed with them, it's not my fault nor problem. Also, possessing a mission in life, now sorely lacking, gives one a rationalisation of why I am right and others are wrong. Without, I just consider myself always wrong, and never trouble to stand up for myself.
I remember once mentioning in this diary that I was fortunate in that my upbringing furnished me with a substantial feeling of self-confidence and self-ability. I didn't think I was perfect, but I saw substantial worth within myself in all areas. That feeling still persists in most areas, it's merely a few which appear to have been lost and these are getting me down generally. The solution to this would seem to be the execution of a number of self-confidence building measures, but the counterpoint to this would be that the same infirmity works against drawing sufficient energy to get started. Hence the idea of forcing oneself through circumstance, but it is difficult to know where and when to start, and indeed how without imposing too much permanence thereafter.
Hmm, hunger calls, thus I go to feed. All be happy!
Sunday 26th August 2001: 3.18pm. These last few weeks have been brighter. I had a friend from uni come and visit and so I got in my English-speaking time and I even last weekend told a few stories in spanish, something which it had occurred to me just thereafter that I hadn't done in like ... years. I used to be excellent at telling stories, used it to great effect to soften entry into new social groups a number of times. That was like pre-2000. Has it really been that long?
Furthermore, I suppose psychologically I made the jump that I'm going to be here for a lot longer. It has become pretty clear that work shall be continuing until at least April 2002 and seeing as my contract is of a non-fixed length ("until the end of the project"), that's quite legal. Now I believe that Spain's nice social service system provides me 80% of my salary for three months after job end (it may be four months after 16 months working here). You can see the obvious conclusion - yup, that's right, a three month summer holiday in Spain!
Actually, even if this idea doesn't pan out, I should have enough money for three money holiday anyway without negatively affecting my ability to relocate. It's just that it'd be a lot tighter, and it means reigning in spending from now until then.
Speaking of spending, if I'm going to be here six months more than I had thought, methinks it is high time for a new computer! My aging 400Mhz beast was the best technology of its class money could buy at the time and I have to say, it's performed admirably in that (strugglingly) it acts as 24/7 internet server, DVD & DivX movie player and still runs modern applications fairly okay. Put it this way, we have a vanilla 400Mhz AMD K6-3 at work and to use it in comparison with mine - well, it seems a lot older. I suppose my hard disc and memory subsystems were top notch at the time and that shows with the increased bandwidth of modern applications.
Nevertheless, the poor thing maxes out very easily. Encoding & editing things like movies (which I must say I never had expected to do regularly, but that's changed as the freeware tools have vastly improved) take hours or days on this. Now that recently I've been learning Qt which I believe is the future of computer application programming (and it is excellent!) which is based on very heinous C++ (many many multiple inheritances and subclassing), again it takes quite a bit to compile my latest efforts - it's certainly nothing like as quick as C or even regular C++. Oh yeah, if anyone remembers my old Tornado project, I am getting itchy to go try implementing that on Qt. Much of the grunt work that would have been done by Tornado is done already by Qt - and what's more important is that Qt works along similar though much less developed lines.
So what do I have my eye on? Well, unlike last time where I bought the cream of an outgoing technology (the socket 7 architecture) and hence it was much cheaper, I now cannot see anything less than a dual-processor solution being viable. In fact, I nearly bought a dual original Pentium 133Mhz for my first PC but reports of compatibility problems stopped me. In uni, I could never justify the cost - but now, well it's possible.
Very very recently indeed AMD released their dual Athlon system and while there's like one motherboard out there, more are coming very soon indeed (especially affordable ones). I'm thinking the Tyan Tiger MP will be the first dual Athlon motherboard under €250 and will remain so for a long time, so that kinda clears the choice. Anyway, I need to study it a lot more, especially as I'm going to need a new monitor too for the first time in five years.
Cool, I'm off to eat pizza and watch "Howard Marks - The Movie" which is my latest acquisition from the internet world of free but illegal movies. Then there'll be more Qt self-training. All in all, pretty good. Hope things are with all you lot too! Be happy!