Thursday, 19 January 2006

flowers for algernon

www.freefoto.comOne of my all-time favourite short stories* is Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

The story is written in diary form, by Charlie.

Algernon is a mouse, who is subjected to an experiment to make him more intelligent. Charlie is not very clever, but he wants to improve himself; he agrees to be subjected to the same experiment.

The experiment works.

First Algernon, and then Charlie, become enormously intelligent.

But then the scientists who are working with them discover that Algernon is losing his new capabilities. And Charlie checks their work and discovers that he is going to progress down the same path.

His diary becomes an expression of the realisation of what he is losing and charts his return to his old self.

Rather dramatically, I feel a bit like Charlie this week.

I've felt so good since we came back from our few days away (which I haven't written about properly yet). But at the moment I've got dreadful PMS, which seems to upset my mental state pretty dramatically. Along with all the usual symptoms, it also seems to make me much more fuzzy, much more likely to panic about things and much more depressed. Rocking, even.

It's a hard job holding on to the 'real me' that has been here for the last few weeks and I am pretty upset about it.

B is constantly reassuring me, saying that it will all come back in to balance again, once I've come on. But I'm scared it won't.

Being a bit mad** is fine so long as one is mad enough not to know that one is. I've gone through that stage on my 'getting back to normal' road. I'm currently slipping back from 'pretty good actually' to 'mad enough not to be able to control my moods, but not mad enough not to care'.

Quite frankly, it's a bit shit.

However, on the good side, I've been to sign on with a temp agency today for a bit of part-time work. It's partly because the extra cash would come in handy; and partly to get me out there in the world again now I am so much better, interacting with people. I made an appointment with a different agency before christmas, but had a panic attack and didn't get there. So this morning was a big step, and I achieved it, despite the Flowers for Algernon situation.

The agency might have a bit of work coming up for someone who can organise an Access database. Since I am a Database Nerd, I am keeping my fingers crossed that it comes off.

So, there you go. I am going to go to the Co-Op to buy some chocolate and then I am going to sit on the sofa and watch a crummy dvd all afternoon with a pot of nice tea.

And go read Flowers for Algernon, even if you don't think you like science-fiction***. It's great.


* I think there is also a novel or novella that came after the short story.
** Clearly not politically correct. Irony, humour, my way of dealing with it.
*** Good science-fiction is about people and how they react in different 'what if' situations, rather than simply Big Space Guns From Planet Zarg. Of course, bad science-fiction IS about Big Space Guns From Planet Zarg and there is a LOT of it about.

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