well, I'm back

Monday, 28 September 2015 01:05 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I've been on anti-depressants since just after the Great DVT Experience (so nearly four years, in fact, gawsh), and I got lucky: Welbutrin was a good match first off. It kicked my energy up out of its chronically fatigued depths quite handily, and also smoothed out the wild moodiness which was plunging me into fits of homicidal rage or utter despair more or less randomly. (Possibly life-threatening illness after-effects, possibly hormones, possibly my not-career, possibly the residual effects of the unrelieved horribleness of my father's death and associated miseries. Possibly just me and my brain chemistry.) Welbutrin was a tiny chemical god. It made it possible to live something not unlike an actual facsimile of life.

Unfortunately, it turns out that it has long-term side effects. The smoothing effect on jagged emotion spikes settles in for the long haul, and slowly, inexorably disconnects you from actual feeling. I ended up breaking up with my therapist a couple of months back, for various reasons which are a long introspective post in themselves, but partially because therapy was becoming this soul-rotting succession of interactions in which I groped unavailingly for actual feelings with which to connect. Sadness? Nope. Self-hatred? Nope. Anger? Definitely nope, I've never been good at anger at the best of times. I was trying to come to terms with things through a thick glass wall, and getting nowhere. I have a lot of respect for the therapy process, and got a lot of good out of it, but it does need some sort of grist to its analytic mill.

So I consulted my lovely GP, who confirmed that the emotional muffling is a known anti-depressant side-effect, and a month ago I madly downsized my dosage by half. Immediate effects have been to slightly up my shouting-at-the-cats quotient, and materially up my shouting-at-stupid-videogame-AIs quotient, but primarily it's revealed that the Welbutrin, sneaky bastard, has been suppressing my dreams. I'd vaguely attributed the gradual slide into a quotidian dullness of nightly landscape to, I dunno, increasing age, or the humdrum nature of academic admin, but apparently halving the anti-depressant dose unfettered my subconscious from an unsuspected level of hideous chemical thrall. Which is delightful, because I was missing my vivid dream-life something 'orrible.

The moment of realisation came when I woke up on Saturday morning having just dreamed a Baroque pillared mansion in which I was for some reason running a major corporation. The dream-mansion was further enlivened by the presence, sitting on the steps outside, of a judicious mix of several of my male friends with most of the more obscure male cast members of Sherlock, singing exquisite four-part a capella harmonies in serenade to Ashley Williams. Ashley is a Mass Effect squad member who's always annoyed me (she's religious and anti-alien) and who I only managed to retain in my latest game by dint of having played through the trilogy twice in quick succession, which means my residual annoyance at being dumped by Kaidan on the first playthrough was recent enough the second time round that I summoned up the resolution necessary to sacrifice him rather than Ashley on Virmire for the first time ever. (Non ME-players can ignore that bit, it'll make no sense). At any rate, I have no idea why they were serenading Ashley, I've never romanced her and never plan to. But it was a quality rendition; as I rocketed past in heels, bent on unspecified corporate shenanigans and trailed by a phalanx of secretaries, I recollect being highly impressed.

Last night I dreamed an arrival via horse-drawn carriage at a mansion in the woods; given the unspecified older male companion who was wafting around somewhere, it's remotely possible I was Jane Eyre. I spent most of the dream being alarmed and scurrying for cover as the mad woman with the shotgun crawled up the outside walls to get at the second-floor windows, and eventually woke myself up with my heart pounding, which I haven't done in years. As drawbacks go, I'll take it. Fear of dying horribly means at least you're alive.

adventures in retail

Saturday, 29 August 2015 11:00 am
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
One of the side-effects of chronic fatigue is, it seems, its tendency to rot the memory. I have now honed to a fine and perfect point my ability to forget someone's name within approximately a second and a half of being introduced to them, which adds a particular dimension of terror to my teaching and curriculum advice activities. I also do not undertake to remember the details of complex administrative scenarios from longer ago than a week or two, which has led to a recurring motif in my interactions with faculty colleagues, in which I chase a vague impression of event along the lines of "did that actually happen, or did I hallucinate it?" Sometimes I have, in fact, hallucinated it. This cannot, I confess, attest to any particular professionalism on my part, and does lead colleagues to look at me a bit oddly, but on the other hand, I cherish a profound indifference to the notion of advancement within my career qua career, and am damned if I'm going to give up harmless idiosyncrasies1 in the pursuit of it.

All that being the case, it's something of a relief to discover that I am not alone in hallucinating things. This morning's usual Saturday grocery shop was enlivened by the discovery that the computer had somehow added, out of nowhere, a R14.99 item to my bill that was identified as "PAPRIKA/PWD SHAKR". I assume this is powdered paprika, but (a) I hadn't added any to my basket, (b) I hadn't even been in the spice aisle, (c)I never buy paprika from Checkers anyway as I prefer the smoked stuff, and (d) there wasn't any left on the counter by a previous shopper. Also, (e) the random addition came in the middle of the list, between the butter and the astonishingly cheap pecan nuts (what's with that? They've dropped from nearly R50 per packed to R23, presumably the pecan farmers have found the Entwives or something), so it wasn't left over from another bill. And (f) the nice checkout lady whose eagle eye had spotted the addition, re-scanned everything and it wasn't actually a wrong bar code on another product entirely. The system basically hallucinated it. Either that, or it's making sarky comments on my culinary tendencies, or has some sort of frustrated virtual affection for me and is trying to give me gifts. Odd, random and pointless gifts, but who am I to judge?

I am slightly more horrified to discover, perusing the list, that I seem to have accidentally bought gherkins, under the entirely erroneous impression that they were baby marrows. Gherkins in the pickled form are An Abomination Unto Nuggan, and I have always avoided the raw version on the grounds that they can only lead to evil. What does one do with raw gherkins, anyway? My current inclination is to bury them in the garden in a lead-lined box under an Elder Sign, but I may be over-reacting.

1Am I alone in always hearing that word said as "idio-idio-idiosyncrasy" by the goose in Charlotte's Web? A book which, may I add, is responsible for many of the long-word addictions I have had from childhood.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Spam is the new surrealist poetry. I still cherish with some fondness the email I received a few months back from the nice Jewish gentleman with the recently dead wife and the fixation on Kabbalah, "post-Auschwitz Spiritists" and Jewish goddess figures, whose ramblings encompassed pre-Christian gender politics, medieval sex magic, Borges, Bacon, Conan Doyle and game theory before even faintly approaching a point, which turned out to be an interest in one of my fairy-tale papers he deemed may be relevant. (Short answer: hell no). Shenanigans with font size suggest that this was a cut-and-paste approach comprising lumps of reference inserted into a hail-fellow-scholar-well-met sort of template, possibly distributed wholesale to swathes of randomly-selected paper-writing populace. The whole left me with the faint, irrational suspicion that some sort of money was going to be demanded about three exchanges in if I in any way responded. Which I didn't. Is this a new scholarly spam? I am curiously tickled to be singled out by it.

Today's was even more surreal, which is rather entertaining and has distracted me very nicely from my current state of hellweek frantic. I reproduce its initial lines wholesale, because wtf, and also because its particular confluence of high-class drivel - mystical conspiracy theory, apocalyptic religion, random header kipple and second-language grammatical and idiomatic solecism - is so deeply entertaining.

Urgent and Immediate Attention - Invitation of Chosen ONE-See “ATTENTION”

I am Saviour of Earth.
This Message is prepared from far away, beyond every Universe.
Thank you for your immediate attention.
Read “Before Print” on the below, before print email.
This email have previously sent email.
During the time of email sending, some of nation government leaders or
ministers, such as Russia, China or other nation government, maybe changed.
People should consider of it.
This email have previously sent email.
To improve understanding of email, it would better, read from early days email.

With attached Message document “MASTER_OF_ALL.pdf”.

Readers should consider of it.

There are, in fact, attachments labelled, among other things, MASTER_OF_ALL.pdf, but I have not clicked thereon, on account of basic hygiene and generalised fear of surrealist rabbit-holes.

The perpetrator is addicted to the third-person and admits, apparently with some pride, that "Although Chosen ONE have study background of economy, but during the time when he was lived in western nation, Chosen ONE also studied several years of IT [Information Technology] subject, including, “internet” and “website development”, but never experienced some of sent email, seen on receiving email account, but some of sent email, not seen on same receiving email account, even with correct email address, by not typing email address, but selecting email address from its list." However, "Chosen ONE don’t want spend more of time to solve such problem, or to make discussion with “Gmail” from “Google” internet company, about it. Because Chosen ONE already observed it several months of time, also, importantly, Chosen ONE have to keep focus his attention to element of Earth along with element of Moon. Focusing on element of Earth & element of Moon is important to him."

I now have a mental image of some sort of wild-eyed bearded figure crouched over a green-screen monitor in a shack somewhere, clumsily channelling his element of moon fixation through this strange "internet" thing he only faintly grasps.

This actually requires some sort of medical diagnosis, I think. Schizophrenia?

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