February 7th, 2002

2020 lack of vision

yes, for *you* ...

I have these pills in my desk. They're my cold cures. It's a hangover from working at Oxfam when I'd occasionally get colds during crises, and really need to stay not just at my desk, but actually alert and working. They take care of all that. It's hard to give up on things like that, especially now, when I keep getting head colds.

Bunged up and fuzzy, tired and grey, problems with motivation, concentration and effort? No problem. Insert two pills and wait half an hour. Drink plenty of water and try not to wear out your fingers.

So I'm trying to get one thing done. Just one thing. At least I feel alert now. I'm actually spotting what needs to be done. I may even get something done. (I get something done)

Later. My tulips are open, purple and pink. I'm an expert at stress containment, know the tips for reducing your stress levels pretty much off by heart. For once I wish someone would come up with a new suggestion. Or that I could find a lunchtime yoga class in Central Oxford. Yes, that would do.

Hahaha. The hardest thing, when I'm like this, is avoiding the following thought: If I were more dynamic / better organised / more persistent / tougher / more determined I wouldn't get into these situations. I know I'm being hard on myself, but from another perspective it is realistic; other people do cope better, and do get more done, and make better successes of their projects. (Of course there are also other people who cope worse.) The trouble is, in this, as in everything, I'm half-hearted, torn by the suspicion that as I get better at work I get worse at everything else that matters to me.

So I fetch up neither one thing nor the other, but never doing anything so badly I reach crisis point, or if I do, what of it? Crises can be coped with. I've been coping with crises since I was a child. They end, stuff happens, you sort it out, you move on. Or perhaps I've never been in a real crisis yet? It's hard to tell about these things, they're so subjective, and what is terrible, terrible, terrible for one person can just be a shrug for another. It happens. You carry on.

My co-workers found out I was paid on the administrative scale today and were (as usual) appalled. Apparently what I should be doing is getting myself trained up to become a youth worker (at which point I get a better pay scale and more holiday) discuss my pay with my bosses, join the union and oh a host of other things. If I did all this extra work, it seems, my work would be better. But honestly, I have to ask here: how much better? Is it likely to be a lot better than the amount of extra work making my work better is likely to be? Will it increase or reduce my stress levels? Or will it exaggerate the importance of my job to my life until it is one, long, dissatisfied struggle? Will the extra courses/training/hassle solve my motivational problems, up my salary and sort out my job problems, or am I more likely to end up less convinced by my job, and with less free time, more work, and therefore more stress?

The thing is, I survive being employed by attaching as little importance to it as possible. I don't like working, I never have; it's a distraction, a nusiance, a necessary evil.

Damn it all. I just discovered that the sexual Health page has the local contacts for Drug misuse on it. Grrrr. I thought this was finished, now I have to go picking through contact details for Family Planning Clinics. And come up with a non controversial way of saying, "kiddies, get your free condoms here".

I think it is different for me than for Lalage or Anita or Shelley. They're committed to a career in this area, they care about Youth Work, about young people, for god's sake. Do I? I tend to think that teenagers are probably not worth the bother of sleeping with, and I'm quite fond of some people who happen to be young, but they can't help it, and they will grow older. I don't even like most people, ruthlessly discard a lot of potential friends / shags / acquaintances, am definitively not a people person, except possibly in relation to some people who I like a lot. I have no general love for humanity, particularly not the brutal, thuggish, unreflective mess that is the world of teenagers.

Even with people I like it's an endless effort if they're not going to spend their entire life drifting away from me. Or perhaps, again, I'm wrong. I judge too harshly. But they say that depressed people have a more accurate view of the world than the optimistic ones.

Hmmm. Spellchecker suggests Orgasm for Oxfam.
2020 lack of vision

mandy's horrible eye accident

A couple of my friends wanted me to try out reef diving, and, you know, I really fancied something relaxing this time, because with canoeing, it has to be exciting enough that you can get that buzz, but, you know, not so exciting that you're scared all the time, and it can be a real effort keeping that up. So, we went out and the plane landed on one tiny island with hardly even a town on it (the capital was on another island) and at the airport it was just us and all these couples, it must be a really popular honeymoon spot, but it didn't matter because all we did was get onto a small boat which took us out to the big boat where we were staying and we just didn't come back to shore all holiday. So we practiced diving a bit and then (it was still the first day) we went down to the reef for the first time. I dived in and I was doing fine until my eyes started hurting. When the pain in my nose and eyes just got worse and worse. When I realised what was happening I managed to get my mask off and get back to the surface, but my eyes were really painful, even then I didn't realise how bad they really were. It wasn't until my friend said, "Mandy, your eyes look really bad" ... I couldn't believe it when I looked in the mirror. My eyes were bright red, and already beginning to swell up. I practically threw up, it looked so disgusting.

Apparently I'd made a really basic mistake. I'd forgotten to breathe out through my nose, to equalise the pressure, and the pressure had just built up under my mask until all the blood vessels in my eyes burst. The instructor reckoned I'd be okay, and I could still see, but everything was red, and by the next day my eye[ball]s had really swollen up so I was going round with sunglasses so my mates wouldn't throw up when they saw me.

Me: So was your holiday totally ruined then?

Mandy: Oh, no. No, not really. The sea was, like, turquoise and it was so warm and lovely. I just lay on the deck and read. I didn't get bored because all my friends were there and anyway we had to move the boat lots to get into position for the next dive, so there were always people around. It was really lovely on board. Every day they caught fresh fish and that was dinner; grilled fish, fish curry, fish with lemon, and for breakfast we just had bananas and stuff. It was fantastic. And I did get to dive in the second week, the instructor reckoned it wouldn't do any harm. It was difficult to get down to the reef because we were always diving against the current, but when we were down there it was like another world...

Take a look for yourself.
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