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Stacey's twin sister, Danielle, decided to make a Vancouver road trip (from Calgary); Stacey and Devin joined her (though they're flying back in eleven hours or so; she's staying for another few days). Saturday night I joined them for drinks after dinner; tonight I joined them for both dinner and drinks.

Going out drinking with friends is a funny thing; you have to be in roughly the same mindset to make it work, it seems, and by mindset I really mean blood alcohol level. When I'm happy and suitably tipsy, among friends, I get a feeling that I can only describe as euphoria. I don't get that much, here—don't get me wrong; I have some good friends in Vancouver, but most of them seem to drink little or not at all. (And don't get me wrong; I'm not a heavy drinker, but I do like to have a few every week or two, and I often lack the company.) Devin is a really nice guy, and Dani seems nice, and Stacey—I don't talk to her very often these days, but she is and remains a true friend to me in the sense that she's someone I trust, feel comfortable around, and feel affection for (and not merely an amicable acquaintance in the sense of someone whose company I enjoy without feeling any particular affection for the person).

In conclusion, then, I have had a rare opportunity to get quite tipsy and euphoric in company that makes me comfortable and unselfconscious, and I have had one of the best weekends I've experienced in recent memory. Thanks, guys—I'll miss you. Come visit Vancouver more often.
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Back in old Québec for (a rather early) reading week, and a grand time is already being had. It felt like a sort of coming home, just seeing Sherbrooke (after flying into Montréal rather late and spending the night on [livejournal.com profile] dark_wolf's couch—he can pretend to be mean and scary all he likes, but I now know he's not only polite and soft-spoken, but also a great host, not just offering me a spot on his couch for my brief stopover, but cooking me supper and breakfast as well); it was great, too, seeing all the familiar faces.

Yesterday (Saturday) night we had a grand old poker game, with eight players (and one observer), two tournament style games, and quite a lot of alcohol consumed. Scott was the host, of course; [livejournal.com profile] sheepykins was there, and Michaela, and other friendly familiar faces from my Bishop's days. Both Sheepy and I had our first taste of absinthe )

—frankly, it didn't taste that good, though the whole lighting-sugar-cube-on-fire ceremony bit was fun. Sheepy claimed it tasted like mouthwash. Apparently, Sheepy doesn't like mouthwash, but she kept her spirits up. )

All in all, a grand old time for everyone involved except one. ... Statistically, that isn't half bad.

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Last night, there was some form of concert in the castle gardens downtown. ("Downtown" is a somewhat misleading phrase since the town in question only has, at a guess, something under 11,000 inhabitants—21,000 or so in the entire municipality—but it's the centre of the town, such as it is, and it mostly seems to be downhill.) The artist was not one with whose work I was in any way acquainted, as might be expected—after all, I haven't spent much time in Sweden over the last few years. I didn't feel at all motivated to spend money to go to the concert, but I decided (after some hesitation) to go downtown and see what things looked like. Well, I went down, had a bite to eat, and noted that while the town had a lot more people about than is usual for a Saturday night, the crowd was decidedly middle-aged. I sort of wanted to see if there'd be any people in my general age bracket around later on, but didn't feel like hanging around, so I went home for a bit (it's perhaps a twenty-minute walk in either direction, so it's not really a big deal to walk back and forth a few times).

I almost decided to stay home, figuring that I was extremely unlikely to run into anyone I knew, anyway, except perhaps Tomas—he's the only person back here I generally have any contact with, and I've been hanging around with him, anyway, so the prospects didn't seem very good. Well, I did end up going—and lord, was I wrong! I did run into Tomas, as it turns out, but also an astounding number of old classmates from elementary school—eight in all, so there were nine of us around if you count me. Actually, I think there were even more—perhaps eleven: There was one guy I simply didn't recognise (it's been about ten years, after all), and one guy who was pointed out to me whom I have no desire to talk to, ever. However, I spent quite a bit of time talking to the others, catching up and being caught up with.

It's funny—not long ago I would have thought I was immune to or incapable of (depending on one's point of view) the sense of connection that I experienced. These, for the most part, were not people I spent a whole lot of time with. Of the eight old classmates I talked to, half were girls, and back when I was seven to twelve years old, I really didn't spend much time talking to girls ... I've only had any contact at all with two of them over the past few years (seven in some cases, ten in most). Even so, there was a distinct feeling of connection—for all that I didn't directly associate with them very much back then, we did, in a sense, grow up together; six or seven years in the same class seems to matter down the road. Catching up was great. Some people had stayed in the old time; some had been all over the place—a couple of them had (recently? I'm not quite clear on this) been on a nine-week adventure trip through Africa (which was wonderful except for the time they got stuck in a tribal insurgence, with people wielding knives and spears banging on the windows of the bus). The person I spent the most time talking to, Sara, had (other than this Africa trip) spent a year in the US and three waitressing in Norway (apparently, this is a fairly popular way now for young women here to make some money).

Toward the end, something I daresay was moderately incredible happened. After we'd been hanging out and just talking for a while, Sara presented the ludicrous idea that we should enter the dance floor. Yes, "we". As in, including me. Me, on a dance floor!

The old Petter would, of course, have balked and refused utterly. The new Petter balked briefly, demanded that he be allowed to have another drink first (the second and last of the evening, mind), and tried it. I'm not going to say that I was any good at it, for two reasons: First, because I can't really judge; second (but, as it were, primarily), because as a first-timer I'm sure I was quite horrible. It was a surprising amount of fun, though (and every time I slowed down and didn't move enough, Sara would grab my hips and start shaking them—there were also a lot of admonishments to "shake that ass").

That ended when the bar closed, at 2 am (lunacy! Why do they close so early?), and we went home. I walked some of the girls home, since they were going to the same street as me, anyway; we talked for a bit longer, and I got home at some time between 3 and 3:30 am. It was late. I was tired. I have rarely had so much fun in my life.
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I've been remarkably uninspired when it comes to blogging, lately. Here's the very short and laconic version.

I went to Finland. I hung out with Ren (Tats) and Mr. D. Moistbottom (her husband). It was lots of fun.

Now I am back.
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I seem to do random, infrequent but relatively lengthy (and occasionally incoherent) updates lately. What new?

I really haven't been doing much lately. Not nearly enough, I should say. I'm frankly rather astonished that I have not been driven entirely insane by it—usually any extended period of inactivity will. Much as it has been partially mitigated by my recent semblance of a social life, however, I think it is getting there; I need to pick up a project. Perhaps I'll investigate RentACoder. I also strive to motivate myself to not eat such crappy food all the time (mostly successful; I eat less crap, more real food, occasional vegetables, and recently oranges) and not be in such awful physical shape (we'll see how that goes; at least I manage to make myself go swimming two or three times a week, though it's sort of aggravating sometimes—I like swimming, but I hate swimming when it's crowded and I can't get a lane to myself).

On the aforementioned social front, something rather amusing happened the other night. Chutz, Shahn, Michaela and I went for a walk in the woods (a generally enjoyable experience; it was night-time and we used flashlights when the moonlight did not suffice, though it usually did; we ended up walking for what I believe was something over two hours). Afterwards, we all ended up joining Michaela and her two roommates in attending some nocturnal gathering—a party involving a bonfire. As it turned out we arrived at what I label the ass end of the party and some bad things happened (not "people got hurt" bad, but "property damage" bad; I shan't go into details here—suffice to say that my group left fairly soon and less than completely content). Nevertheless, I had a briefly good time.

Stepping back to empty my shoes of sand, I made some remark to a girl sitting nearby—something sarcastic and at best very mildly witty about the finest minds of local academia gathering to burn couches—to which she responded with gales of laughter (whether because she was drunk enough to actually find it hilarious or in an exaggerated display of polite amusement I do not know; I do know it wasn't that funny), and a conversation ensued. As an aside: To me, this is a big deal. It should come as no great surprise to anyone if I say I am usually not the most adept at striking up conversations with strangers ... Anyway, once the subject turned to introductions and I told her my name was Petter, I was surprised when she thought for a moment and said "Aren't you Dave's old roommate? The artist?"—she was an old friend (or girlfriend? I wasn't entirely clear on the matter) of my roommate back when I lived on campus. Thinking to myself that this was a mildly curious coincidence, I was rather astonished to learn that she was there in the company of no less than two Swedish girls. I haven't had an in-person conversation in Swedish in some time; it was rather amusing. (Also, I've never declined a bong in Swedish before, but never mind ...)

On the topic of social occasions, and working chronologically backwards for a moment, the previous day had also been rather pleasant (though without property damage). In the morning, my roommate asked me whether I would like to go see Episode III; I did, and invited Michaela along for the ride. We watched the movie (I kind of liked it; I'm not going to analyse it here—I'm not a hardcore Star Wars fan; I reserve that sort of nerdiness for The Lord of the Rings); afterwards, she stopped by here briefly before going home to eat. I had to go to the grocery store, so I walked her down; she joined me in the grocery expedition, and quite unexpectedly we ended up getting some salmon shish kebob, a baguette and a (fairly small and quite cheap, admittedly) cooked lobster. A very small barbecue was had; food was good, and Michaela was introduced to the pleasures of eating "cute" little crustaceans (though she insisted I do the picking apart).

Closing that social topic, Scott needs to hold another poker game soon (hint hint). I leave in little over a month; I have to get some opportunity to interact even with very busy friends ...

On a final note regarding an issue mentioned in the last update, formal graduation decisions have been made, and on June 11, I will graduate as a Bachelor of Science (Honours in Computer Science, Minor in Mathematics), "with distinction"—not sure what that means, but it sounds like it's a good thing, so I'm glad. (Arrangements have been made for the Records Office to send copies of my final official transcripts to UBC once I graduate.)

On the geek front, I'm getting a laptop and a USB 2.0/Firewire hard drive enclosure (with a 160 GB Seagate). Also, I have set up a 32-bit chroot environment on my main box (that was surprisingly easy; bind mounting is my friend) and seriously need to do something with my old machine, which in spite of having quite decent hardware is presently serving as my bedside table, upholding my alarm clock and some paperwork.

That was an extraordinarily anticlimactic finish, but I've naught else to say for now.
haggholm: (boat)
So what's happened since my last terse post two weeks ago, or my last real post three weeks before that? I feel like a random, jumbled post, so that is what you shall receive. I warn you; I'm rather tired, and this is not entirely coherent, certainly not cohesive, and frankly rather poorly written.

Well, school's over. Most of my marks were above my expectations—for instance, I expected to squeeze by on the honours dissertation and ended up receiving a mark of 93%, which makes me happy. My average is a little bit above 90%, which also makes me happy—I'm no Scott or Jon Ben, but I think that's fairly decent. Formal graduation decisions are made this week, but I don't foresee any trouble. Today I straightened out an immigration mess, so I will be legally allowed to stay in the country for convocation, which is a bonus.

I've been accepted at the University of British Columbia (and rejected by U. of Toronto and Waterloo). It's kind of far away from everyone I know here, and I shall miss some good company, but it seems like a nice school in a very nice location. I look forward to grad school; extremely interesting courses, a big and stimulating academic environment, and a chance to reboot things and enter a university as a ... well, maybe not non-recluse, but certainly less of one. One can try ... Time to apply for a new student visa and look into residence in detail ...

When I go there, I want a laptop. Part geek gadget love, maybe, but it's sort of a social thing, in a way—I don't want to shut myself away too much again. If I can carry a computer around and do my homework in a lounge or coffee shop or someone else's room or apartment ... it'll just open more options. So now I want to find a laptop that's reasonably cheap, well supported in Linux, and powerful enough to run some mostly rather simple apps; programming and office programs and such. Nothing extravagant for me; I'd rather have good battery life and a decent price. (If anyone has suggestions ...) If possible, I might even get it now, before I go to Sweden for the summer. It's probably cheaper here in Canada, I could use it whilst home, and when I get to UBC, I will have a computer until my desktop gets there—I may get things shipped a little later.

As for my time here, I'm relaxing and battling bureaucracy. I shall have to apply for a visa next; once my paperwork is done, I might look into making a few extra dollars on RentACoder so my time isn't entirely wasted. I rather enjoy relaxing, though, which in itself is rather unusual for me; I hang out a lot with Chutz and Michaela (and often Shahn) and some with Scott, have a drink now and then, just hang around ... it's just nice. I've never really had a social life before; it may not be large now, but it's a pleasant novelty.
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Saturday was Stacey's birthday; Sunday was Scott's. Saturday night, there was a party at Devin's place, with predictions of alcohol consumption in epic quantities, third-party vows that Scott should not return home conscious, and a vow from Scott that I would not walk home steadily. There were also allusions to going out to some establishment of an undetermined nature. As it turns out, none of the above actually happened, but I think it was a good night for everyone concerned. Scott, while quite conscious, was certainly rather merry by the end of the night ...

Of course, this being my blog I'm mainly focusing on my own part of the story (much as I was not a main character of the event). Being who I am, and being that it was a gathering of some size (about twenty people), I naturally ended up hanging at the outskirts of things—now hanging by the door, now standing in a corner. Stacey was kind enough to talk to me from time to time to ensure I wasn't completely isolated, but of course she didn't spend the night talking to me—for which I'm very glad; I didn't go there to monopolise her time at her birthday party ... All in all, this (entirely through my own fault, mind) made me a moderately miserable person for the first few hours. (Not as wretched as I would have been pre-Celexa, by any means, but let's face it, hanging around the edges of a party isn't fun for anyone, however neurochemically well-adjusted.)

Fortunately, that evening was saved by the fact of a nice girl by the name of Felicia coming up to talk to me. We ended up talking for several hours, and by virtue of there being two of us, we apparently comprised a group that other people could drift in and out of, so from then on it was pretty good. (I may be rude and relentless in a mocking way, but I like to think of myself as reasonably courteous in the ways that actually matter, so I did the gentlemanly thing and walked her home. Egads, the town was full of drunk people last night.) I shall have to meet up with her again, sometime.

Nick shot some video at the party, available at his blog, here. You can't really see me much, except for one shot where I'm standing by the door looking rather dour (and a couple of times in the background, where I doubt you'll pick me out), but there are some amusing shots of Scott ...

Tonight, I went to the more-or-less-weekly poker game at Scott's (Texas Hold'em, $10 buy-in); there were five of us playing, all guys this time. Last time was not so good—I lost a fair chunk of my money early on, overreacted in the customary fashion, lost the rest on purpose, and moped. I would like to think that I'm capable of dealing with that in a better and more mature fashion now, but tonight it was not necessary: I ended up cleaning everyone out, after a nerve-wracking round against Scott where he went all in, either bluffing or betting on a card that failed to show.

So afterwards we were sitting in Scott's living room, talking about this and that, the conversation taking some turns into areas ... less commonly publically discussed. The conversation turned to sex toys and stores selling them, with which I have no experience (either stores or articles), and—stodgy conservative that I am—don't really have any interest in. (The usual disclaimer: Nothing wrong with anyone who does, I'm not that dumb or judgmental; but personally, I fail to see any attraction; to each their own.) The other guys all have interesting things to say, though, prompting the following brief exchange (as closely as I can recall it):

Me: "I take it I'm the only person here who fails to see the excitement about sex toys."
Chutz: "Sex toys are cool!"

At this point, the conversation is interrupted by a loud, vibrating noise from Chutz's direction.

There's a shocked moment of silence before Chutz answers his vibrating cell phone. The four of us collapse in helpless laughter for the next five minutes, and I'm surprised that Chutz managed to get a proper sentence out. (I believe it was his father calling.)
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Last week I was prescribed the antidepressant Celexa, and I've been taking it since Saturday—not even a week. The first few days they made me nauseous and somewhat disoriented; the next few days I sensed nothing in particular ... today was different. (Scott claims he noticed a change earlier; I myself did not. I had a good week last week, so I was pretty much all right to begin with, or what passes—passed—for "all right" in my life.) Today was ... good.

I'm not sure how to describe it. It feels as though some weight—not great, but constantly pressing—has lifted off my shoulders. It seems as though some pale grey pall has lifted from the world. I feel good in a way that I haven't felt in so long that I'm honestly frightened.

Don't get me wrong; I haven't had a terrible life, and I've had good times—lots of them. Being with friends, a tremendous amount of time with Lori, the time with Stacey, and of course thousands of other things great and small ... but this is very different. Before, I was occasionally happy about things, and sure, when I was happy about something I could go on for a bit and be happy in general. But eventually, whether shortly or after a relatively long period of happiness, I would sink down into the bleak state that was usual for me—Stacey explained something about this to me at some point, and I believe the term she used was "baseline happiness". My "baseline" was pretty damn low.

Today is not like that. I'm not happy about some particular thing that's happened—nothing concrete—I'm just happy for no reason (well, obviously there is a reason, and it's fairly concrete and comes in 20 mg capsules, but there's no particularly exciting thing for me to be happy about—pills don't strike me as that cheerful). It's an entirely different feeling, and right now it feels strange and wonderful. At odd moments during the day I have felt at the verge of laughing, perhaps simply from the novelty of this feeling.

So the pills are good. Why the hell, do you ask, didn't I get on them sooner? Certainly people have advised me to. And if I was in such a bleak state of mild-to-moderate-to-pretty-bad depression for so long (how long?), why didn't I do something about it earlier? Am I completely stupid?

I didn't realise I could feel like this. I have gone so long without this general, non-specific happiness that I had all but forgotten what it feels like. I didn't know, and couldn't believe, that I could go for a day feeling this good without having some very good reason to. Looking back, I can't recall the last time I felt like this. How old must I have been? Twelve years old, perhaps? Slightly younger? Stating it like that, it sounds like I have been in some degree of depression since puberty hit, and that's a damn long time. That's about half my life. Now I understand why people were frustrated with me, why they urged me to do something about it—because really, it doesn't have to be like that, even for me. But I feel no shame about my reluctance, foolish as I now know it to have been, because it's been ten years, and it's no wonder, I think, if I couldn't easily recall what I may have felt like back then, especially in light of the fact that my psyche has undergone a fair few other changes since then ...

I realise I should take one step at a time—this is how I feel today and I may not feel like this tomorrow. But today I do, and I will remember it. Today I feel as though laughter is on the very verge of bursting out just because of the novelty of being happy without beeing happy about something—intransitive happiness, if you will. And even if I don't feel this good tomorrow, I will remember that it is possible, and the next time someone tells me to fight for it, I will know that there is something to fight for.

Finally—thank you, Scott, Sheepy, and Stacey—listed here deliberately in alphabetical order—because you pushed and you kicked and you dragged me to the counselling office and finally to the doctor, and you made me take this, and so you have shown me what life can be like.

Thank you. I cannot express how grateful I feel to you right now—others as well, all of you who have supported me through some bad times, but primarily (just now) the tribunal above who pushed me to this decision.

I still have a ton of issues to work on, I have a long way to go, and I need to find a way to be self-sustaining after I eventually stop taking the Celexa. But ... I'll get there.


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