June 6th, 2001


still can't get any sleep

So there went Netscape. A little window appeared, titled "Updating Netscape Client Preferences", and then the whole thing fell over. Bah. I've got to get a LJ client installed, or a more stable browser, or both. Someone said you can use LJ with lynx, which is the most stable browser I've ever seen, but the problem with that is that you can't see what you're typing beyond the last line or so. That would possibly drive me even more nuts than these random Netscape crashes.

OK, so I was writing about Sunday, and why it was interesting in the sense of "may you live in interesting times". My brain's gone foggy about what I was doing on Sunday morning, but I was obviously up late cleaning the house because I wasn't online :) I went to bed around 10 in the morning, planning to get up again around 3pm so that I could go around the shops before they closed (I think I've mentioned the UK's Sunday Trading laws before?). However, I just couldn't get to sleep at all. Taking melatonin didn't help in the slightest. Melatonin is the chemical that's produced naturally when your brain thinks it's time for you to sleep - it's what produces the "bedtime!" feeling that people without sleep disorders get. I was working on the assumption that I was obviously not producing enough melatonin and this was what was screwing up my body clock, so I brought some melatonin tablets back with me when I came back from the USA, as you can't get it here. As it's just a chemical that occurs naturally in the body in similar doses to those in the tablets, it's perfectly safe to take - unlike many sleeping drugs - and it's actually recommended as a good way to reset wonky body clocks. So I expected it to help. Wrong. I'd taken it a few times when I couldn't sleep, but never when I was in the desperation of the sort of insomnia where you're utterly exhausted but can't, can't, can't get your brain to switch off and let you sleep.

It would appear that taking melatonin when I'm utterly exhausted but stressed out causes me to go into a "fight or flight" situation and start producing huge amounts of adrenaline. I found myself totally awake in the sense of heart pounding and blood racing around my body, yet I ached all over through needing to rest and my eyes and head were hurting like mad. I can only assume that my problem is actually not about not producing melatonin, but that my body has been trained to ignore the signal. I've spent so many years at school and university sitting up late working beyond the point when I should really have gone to sleep that it would seem I've lost the ability to notice when I'm ready to sleep. The stress of having to get something finished for the morning is what would produce an adrenaline surge, and it would make sense that I'd get the adrenaline surge at the point where I'd otherwise have fallen asleep - so somehow the instinct to sleep has got linked with waking myself up again, and I've got to learn how to unlink them. Could be tricky - I have enough problems controlling my brain biochemistry at the best of times. I might have to look into meditation and self-hypnosis a bit more, which is the sort of thing I hate as I find the traditional sorts of meditation that I've seen far too "pink elephant" for my liking. (You know, if you're told you're not supposed to think about pink elephants, what instantly comes into your mind?). My well-known bizarre caffeine intolerance really doesn't help, as most people would simply self-medicate by pouring themselves a bit more coffee. Because caffeine even in small doses gives me migraines, hallucinations and fits, I've had to evolve my own personal chemistry for dealing with late nights. Great.

Anyway, so it was late on Sunday morning, and I couldn't sleep at all. I was so tired that I was crying, and I felt so bad that I woke Richard for a cuddle, in the hope that having him nearby and snuggling up with his warmth and his sleepy smell would let me relax enough to fall asleep. It didn't. Not only was I exhausted and stressed out, but I was starting to become quite depressed as well. So I was just crying and crying and crying, and Richard started to get angry with me as he was asking what was wrong and I was just sobbing in reply rather than even trying to talk. We ended up having a shouting match and he stormed out. I cried until I got all my stress out, then I sat and read for a while, until he came back. We never stay angry with each other for very long, and we were both upset and apologetic for having the row. Finally, about 1.30pm, I got to sleep.

I did actually mean to get up again in time to go to the shops, and Richard did try to wake me, but I muttered "need more sleep" and zonked out again. I kinda became conscious around 9.30pm, when I woke up and noticed it was dark. Erk. Double erk, as I was supposed to have been meeting my friend John sometime during the day. Well, I got up and threw clothes on, and we went out to catch a train into London, as I had a craving for a milkshake, and there is a rather fine 24 hour milkshake bar in Clerkenwell that also does reasonable food. On the way we phoned John, and it turned out that he was also on strange hours, and would still be able to meet us - especially as he lives in the City of London himself and so it was only a short motorbike ride for him rather than a major journey with three train changes for us.

All's well that ends well. I had a lovely omelette and 2 huge Mars Bar milkshakes (actually worth the money, as the omelettes at this place are fantastic, and we've never been able to make chocolate shakes at home without redecorating the kitchen - fruit works fine in our blender, but not chocolate - it gets stuck!), got to see John for the first time in about 6 months, and he gave me some books back that I'd forgotten I owned, along with a new pile of comics to read. This was good. We went home, Richard fell asleep, and I stayed up all night doing online stuff - which explains the large number of journal entries in the early hours of Monday morning :)

The sad state of the London Bisexual Group.

I posted about the sad state of the London Bi Group on a private message board that some of the people on my friends list here read. Something Lizz said in reply to one of my journal entries made me decide to tidy it up and repost it here. Apologies to everyone who'll see this twice - you can play "spot the difference" or something :)

LBG meets on Fridays between 8 and 10pm at a venue in central London. For as long as I've been going and presumably for some time before that, there's been two separate groups - the main/social group and the personal group. What happens is that people turn up between 8 and 9pm and socialise in a vague sort of way (there's free gay papers to pick up, coffee to drink, and people to talk to), and then at 9pm split into the two groups. The personal group go downstairs for a meeting where members can talk about problems in their lives with a counsellor experienced in bi issues (I think. I've never actually been "downstairs"). The main group meet upstairs for debates, discussions and other such things, which are for some reason called "workshops". Don't ask me why.

I took over as one of the people running the group in February 2000, and officially in April at the AGM. For some months prior to us taking over, the group had been experiencing a large decrease in attendence. We thought this was due to the fact that the previous committee had gone AWOL, so for a while there had been no organisation whatsoever - workshops were being cancelled at the last minute (sometimes because the person running the workshop hadn't been told that they were supposed to be running a workshop) and the adverts in Time Out and gay press had lapsed. So we made efforts to be organised: planning a programme several months in advance and publicising it, updating the web site, reinstating all of the adverts, asking lots of people to run workshops, and adding a fair amount of fun stuff and video evenings to the programme to try to pull in people who are bored with the regular discussion workshops. This did absolutely nothing to reverse the drain. When we were at the stage of an average of 3 people turning up for workshops, one of the committee members quit. I carried on until the end of my officially-elected period, but I've given up now, and I'm not sure I want to go to the group again.

Meanwhile, the personal group is still ticking along happily. Every week 10 to 15 people, mostly 40-50 year old men with few social skills, turn up and go downstairs. None of them will even consider coming to a workshop or watching a video - they just go downstairs, regardless of what we're doing. We could throw an orgy and they still wouldn't come. The last couple of parties have failed dismally - there's been 3 of us sitting around upstairs reading the Pink Paper whilst everyone else goes to the personal group.

Yet all the time people are coming out to themselves as bi and wanting to find other bisexuals to talk to. So it's not that there's a shortage of new people to come to the group. It used to be vibrant, with lots of interesting people of all ages from 20-something to 70-something. Now it's stagnating. We're not getting any new blood. One problem is that for the past few months I've been the only person under 40 there, and another is that I've been the only woman there - so any other young women who've turned up have got there, found it's all old men, and gone away to the London Bi Women's group in disgust. I thought about trying the women's group myself, but they used to have a policy about transsexual women which I disagreed with strongly, and I felt unable to go to the group for political reasons. I'm not sure what their new policy is. Also, early evening Wednesday meetings really aren't all that convenient for me. So I guess I'm destined to get my contact with the bi scene through social meetings, Bi Community News, and the occasional BiCon.

But I miss those workshops.

a weird thought about ethics.

I'm catching up on my newsreading at the moment. Whizzed through uk.people.gothic and uk.net.news.config, and more slowly through uk.transport.london and uk.games.video.playstation. I stopped and posted quite a few messages in both utl and ugvc. I seem to be the token female in both groups - it's really quite amusing. There are a fair number of women programmers and sysadmins (computer geeks), but comparatively few trainspotter or gaming geeks. I'm not sure why.

One of the messages I posted in ugvc is something I'd like comments on from a wide audience. It's too early to point you to it in google groups - I only just posted it - so I'll include the text below:

(Note for the uninitiated - "backups" is the term used by Playstation gamers for unlicensed copies of games - when you put the original into a CD burner and make a gold CD of it).

I just had a strange thought about "backups".

I pretty much only own original games. The "backups" I have are all games that either didn't get a European release at all or weren't available in Europe at the time I got them. I feel quite strongly about only buying original games and supporting the developers, but I have absolutely no problems with owning "backups" when the stupid companies don't bother to grace us with a release.

However, at least half the games I own were bought secondhand. So the developers have only seen the money from the original purchase - my money is just going into the pocket of the seller. So am I wasting my money by buying secondhand originals? Should I just get "backups" if I'm not prepared to pay the price of a new game?

I'd be interested to hear thoughts on this.

Revelation of the day.

I had to go to the doctor this morning (Okay - yesterday morning. But I haven't been to bed yet, and I measure my days from when I get up to when I go to sleep, rather than by what hour the clock says). I go along every month or so because underneath the drugs that I take and the self-analysing that I do, I'm still fundamentally broken, and it's absolutely vital that someone checks me out regularly to make sure that the tablets are still doing their job. (I'm actually very pleased with the drugs I take - they work about as well as I'd expect an antidepressant to without any noticeable side-effects or personality changes. But that's a whole long post in itself).

My doctor's quite a bright man, and unlike many medical professionals I've met, he treats me as an intelligent person. So we have relatively long, informed conversations about my health and how I'm doing. Today's chat included a revelation about the way I handle things.

Most of you know that I'm supposed to be writing up a PhD at the moment. Some of you know how much work on that I've actually done since December. Basically, around zero. Oh, I've written a paper which is to be published in a journal soon, and done a few diagrams, but diagrams do not in themselves a thesis make. It needs words to explain what the diagrams mean, for starters.

I have been putting off and putting off starting the actual write-up. I've made every excuse under the sun. I've decided to check results by redoing some of my simulation runs, I've learnt a new programming language, I've done and redone diagrams, I've been to the library and made a load of notes. But I haven't actually committed anything to my Thesis document on the computer - not even a copy of my paper. Then I've spent the past couple of months declaring that I'm too damned stressed to even try working (well okay, Richard's mum dying really did knock us for six - but Richard went back to work after a week of grieving and just went slowly for a couple of days until he felt better, and there's no real reason I couldn't have done the same).

You know why I've been making all of these excuses? That's right, it's my old friend Fear. He pops up to trouble me whenever I've got a big project on - he and his aquaintances Lack of Self-Esteem and Self-Loathing. I get myself into this wonderful state where I'm too scared to even start because I know I'm stupid, I'm useless, I've muddled my way through the past three years, I don't understand anything, I haven't worked anywhere near hard enough, and I don't deserve to actually finish and get my PhD. Ouch.

In theory, past performance would indicate that I probably can get this PhD. I've done well enough at passing exams in my life so far. And if I really was incapable of getting it, I wouldn't have been accepted onto the course - or if somehow I had been, I would have got thrown out before too long. But few proofs hold up to the scrutiny of Fear and Self-Doubt.

So what to do? Well, there's a few things I can do to get started. Actually write something would be a start. Just a couple of pages. And I need to stop using excuses such as "I can't start work until I've finished reading news" when one of the groups I read is getting more than 300 messages a day and I try to read them all. I've got to cut right back on things like newsreading and timewasting. Spending time in the evening playing around online is one thing, but doing it instead of working is another, and I need to stop it.

That's why I'm up so late tonight - I've been trying to catch up with all my online stuff so that I can work tomorrow without the temptation to do other things. I've hardly managed to clear out anything, but I think I'm going to mark all read in soc.bi, and get a better newsreader to read alt.poly with, one with scoring, so I need only read the stuff I really want to read rather than the entire group - at least until I have time to read the entire group again. People can manage perfectly well without me for a few weeks or months. But can I manage without them? Hmmm.

I've actually still not written all of the journal entries that I wanted to make today, but I've said the things I need to say. The other things can wait until I have more time. Discipline and motivation are what I need right now, and I don't have a huge amount of either.
  • Current Mood
    worried worried

London Pride.

That's London Pride as in "the Gay Pride parade in London", not the beer of the same name :)

Apparently the Pride parade is going to be on 30th June this year. Because of my feelings towards the London Bi Group, I was thinking of making my own banner and marching with it. The banner will be suitably silly yet serious at the same time. I was thinking of "Queer Geeks" with gay, lesbian and bisexual symbols, and net symbols like smileys. Anyone fancy joining me?
  • Current Mood
    tired and political :)

Small bloody world!

OK, I've just found out that even more of my random friends and acquaintances have diaries on here that I didn't know about. That would be Stuart and Cam and Bruce.

Wow. Some of my best friends irl are here. All but one of my crush objects are here. It's all getting very incestuous...
  • Current Mood
    excited excited