by Niall Douglas. Last updated .
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Saturday 16th February 2008: 3.52pm. Just woken up, and I do feel pretty damn knackered but then for once it's entirely & very much my own fault! I was going to get an early night last night because I had been extremely tired yesterday after staying up till 7am trying to get my new printer to work - actually, to be more specific, it was to fix Johanna's computer because I accidentally broke its ability to print anything at all during the process of testing the new printer. Then last night I began reading a little Flash Gordon in the 22nd Century which arrived yesterday after me ordering it two months ago - these are six vintage 1980's sci-fi books telling one big long story, and I ended up reading two whole books back to back and so got to sleep after 8am. Heh!
Now those Flash Gordon books have absolutely do with the normal Flash Gordon whatsoever, in fact few people have ever heard of them or know anything about them and a full complete set is EXTREMELY rare. Don't get me wrong - the narrative is awful, the plotlines weak, the descriptions lurid and in every single way technically The Da Vinci Code would exceed it (and that's saying something!). However, I read the third book when I was about nine, I always wanted to know what happened before and especially after, and that was worth quite a bit of money to me (£30 inc postage from Canada of all places, I found the seller via www.abebooks.co.uk which is the Amazon for rare books). It's interesting you know - I hadn't realised how these books totally lack any emotional depth at all until now, yet when nine years old they certainly did invoke emotional states within me. I guess I've matured a little
As for the new printer, well I'm really very proud of my new acquisition. I got it off eBay for £38 inc delivery and it's an old ancient year 2000 HP Laserjet 2200d which you can see on the right. I bought it because I lost my temper with my purloined Epson inkjet which ran out of ink yet again when I was just about to print a letter I needed to send - you see, in common with most budget printers, it requires ink in the colour cartridge to print in black & white because the ink is where the manufacturers make their money. Even with buying generic cartridges at quarter the cost, a full set costs about £30 and I can get a new printer for that. In fact, I can get a whole new ter for that as my new eBay acquisition proves!
This printer back in its day was state-of-the-art and cost near enough to a full grand. It can print double-sided on its own which is a major boon, it also understands Postscript which makes it Linux friendly, and best of all because it's a corporate model, its toner cartridges will do about 5k sheets for only £45 (proper HP cartridges, not the generic at half the cost). Including paper @ 0.6p a sheet, that's 1.5p a single sided sheet or 2.4p a double sided sheet my friends, a BIG difference from the 4p a single sided sheet the inkjet used to cost. Ok, the savings won't pay for the printer anytime soon, but on the other hand the quality of output is VASTLY better especially as this particular model can do true 1200 dots per inch which is four times the resolution of modern personal laser printers (that means much sharper pictures and much smoother greys).
It's currently hooked up via USB1 to the Linux TiVO box I built Johanna last September so all the computers in the house can share it. I still have some permission & driver problems ... but I'll fix em!
Anyway, all that has come after ten days of busyness. I lingered & prevaricated for about four days after I got back from Amsterdam, then decided I had to get on with things and so made a long list, and started making myself tick off items which I've been doing ever since. Megan has reacted by feeling a bit neglected which very much reminds me of the last nine months of going out with Johanna. I'm really not sure what to do about that - I don't want to repeat my mistake of last time when I basically said "You can't be the centre of my Universe every single day for the rest of time", which as I've since determined caused Johanna to find ever increasingly drastic ways of regaining my attention (in her mind). I appreciate what it's like for Megan - she's definitely been the focus for the last six months, but now that I want to write the book it's become my focus and she feels like she's losing out - and then of course feels guilty about feeling like that.
It's not that we don't still spend significant amounts of time together, but it does mean that any time we do have together we both have our minds elsewhere which I suppose creates a feeling of loss of intimacy, which in our modern age manifests itself as heightened physical desire as a means of proxy or even substitute. To me, that's a necessary sacrifice of time moving ahead - and I always try to make sure that around once a week (but sometimes up to ten days if busy) I focus exclusively on the girlfriend eg; do something romantic. That wasn't enough for Johanna, she never appreciated that I was doing my absolute damned best to balance all the various pressures second half of second year because she only got my exclusive attention (and admittedly, I was usually exhausted) sporadically (ie; when I found the time and wasn't so exhausted I was a zombie). Actually, in fairness, she did appreciate it at the time, it's just it simply wasn't enough and she wanted what she could not have without me giving up getting good grades, the nascent Future Society and my coffee dates. I suppose there is a point that if I loved her enough, I'd have done that - equally, if she loved me enough, she could have waited just until the end of semester - it's hardly a lifetime, though the St. Andrews bubble makes it seem that way.
And now Megan and I are standing at a somewhat similar cross road. The honeymoon of the relationship is over, what comes next is both easier and harder at the same time. I took off almost all the pressure to move onward by last December - it had been necessary prior to that given our history, but I'm not fond of one person always driving the relationship, I think both should take it in turns. Unfortunately, that can seem like I don't care, or that my attention is elsewhere, and Johanna has repeatedly pointed out that I'm very bad at communication at this point because I'm not good at indicating that I'm watching without doing. So that's my aim this coming semester - to keep reminding Megan that I am focusing on her and our relationship, but that I'm two or three steps away from the rudder as it were.
Some of you might think I'm theorising too much again! And you're right, I do worry that I'm bucking too much social norms for what I want to be feasible - at least, for a woman under the age of thirty. Women are taught to be emotionally dependent on their man - it's why they permit a boyfriend to do many things they wouldn't a male friend no matter how close. I've deliberately challenged & broken that whenever possible during my time in St. Andrews, most obviously by sleeping with most of my female friends, but less obviously by saying, doing, and behaving in ways utterly inappropriate for a male friend to behave. My point in all this was to illuminate how men are boxed in, so for example they're not allowed sleep with women who are not their (potential) girlfriends unless both parties are drunk. However, if they become a boyfriend, suddenly they're allowed too much leeway, so they can dominate the woman, or be unreasonable, or order her around - and the woman happily accepts because that's her accorded role in society - or rather, that's what she thinks is her accorded role because in my opinion, this can all too easily become a convenient self-destructive excuse for getting out of making one's own decisions and thus taking responsibility for growing up and dealing with one's own mistakes. In other words, for most women under the age of twenty five or so, being in a relationship is an emotional "get out of jail free" card from taking personal responsibility by shelving that onto the man - because it's much easier to be told what to do and to do it than think for oneself1. And cos I'm just plain difficult, I want my girlfriend to do better - much better - which in itself is me dominating the woman into behaving in a way she wouldn't ordinarily, thus completing the contradiction!
What I'd really like is that boyfriends and close male friends are treated the same way - they get permitted sex when both parties want it for the right reasons, but NOT due to a "we're going out" on/off switch. Equally, boyfriends shouldn't be allowed to abuse, belittle, dominate or intimidate except when both parties want it for the right reasons, and again NOT due to a "we're going out" on/off switch. And just to be complete, women shouldn't be allowed to nag, pout, be jealous, moody, pointlessly demanding or stroppy just because the "we're going out" on/off switch says they can!
God damn it, all I want is for people to think about what they want and will make them happy rather than blindly inheriting the simplistic binary precepts of our society. FAR too many people go around saying "I have X, Y, Z and Q. Because I have these I should be happy, and as I'm not happy then I'm being ungrateful, and therefore I am a bad person, and therefore I should go do something bad to let out steam so I definitely have cause to hate myself because that's the only way any of what I'm feeling makes any sense at all". Yeah, I guess you're seeing the fundamental message of my upcoming book which will be entitled Freeing Growth: A Neo-Capitalist Solution to Climate Change and Social Ills except of course I'll be explaining my reasoning in a far more subtle, and hopefully therefore far more persuasive, fashion.
Now I would just love to go and bang on about that book and how its template is progressing so far, but really I should be working on it rather than spending loads of time writing in here - and besides, I'm pretty hungry now at it's 5.41pm and I've been writing this for nearly two hours. So I'll be off, though it'll be tomorrow before this gets published as Megan and Johanna should probably check it over first given the detail I've put in and both of them are out together at a birthday party right now. So y'all be happy, see you again soon!
: Megan, quite correctly, says I'm being strongly biased against women here and also that what I said isn't a purely under-25 phenomenon like I make it seem. Absolutely correct - but then I'm currently surrounded by under-25 women and I am alluding strongly to various events currently happening around me like I always do in this virtual diary, and besides, I'm also a man and am not even remotely attempting to be impartial! I might add that there is plenty more bias and assumptions in there eg; I just strongly advocated that men & women should be true friends first lovers second - an agreed myth for the European middle classes, but an assumed impossibility for the European working classes where a man's only possible female friend can be his sisters and maybe first cousins (and vice versa). Thing is, the latter are being truthful - most middle class couples secretly don't trust their partners and lie to themselves about being friends. Don't believe me? Ok, how would you react if your partner cheats on you? If they are really truly your friend, then so what to be honest? So long as they don't lie to you, they haven't betrayed your friendship - just an agreement between you to be physically and/or mentally exclusive with you, and that's something any friend should be able to get over. Another example: most relationships long outlive their natural life, and a true friend would let their partner go instead of trying to keep them because they fear being alone. I could keep going, but no time for food!