Saturday started off as usual, with Pieter and I doing groceries for the next week. For the afternoon, however, Pieter had an appointment at a music store, particularly organs, and I wasn't opposed to the idea of accompanying him.
You see, Pieter is quite a good organist, he started playing at quite a young age already and at around the age of 13 he could easily have performed the more complex pieces. He has played on a number of smaller and larger church organs in the Netherlands and still professes a profound interest in playing this instrument. The last few years, mostly due to not having access to anything more than a semi-broken electronic organ from 1989, he hasn't played that much any more, but he wants to pick it up again. Ergo the need for a new organ. Enter Hauptwerk.
Hauptwerk (hauptwerk.com) is a software application which uses audio samples from real organs, church, theatrical and so on, to simulate the experience of playing on the organ in question. The result is a near-perfect sounding simulation. One can combine the Hauptwerk software with a variety of enclosures, whereby the actual controllers, keyboards, buttons, LCD panels, connect with the PC running the software via a MIDI interface.
Traditionally electronic organs have used a purely hardware solution, with a fixed sample set of a real or virtual organ. As it takes years to develop a new model these organs are very expensive and offer few upgrade or customization options. Hauptwerk allows for nearly complete freedom in the physical setup and the sound of the resulting electronic organ, all for a fraction of the price with a traditional solution. This is why we went to this music store for more information.
After over 3 hours at the store we came back very impressed, with the only thing keeping Pieter from ordering one right away is the price of the configuration he has in mind. Not everyone has over 10,000 Euro just lying around :) Hopefully next month Pieter will be able to order the organ (full enclosure with PC and everything complete). It'll then take around 8 weeks before it is delivered.
I think that organs are very impressive instruments, if only because they're absolute massive, with thousands of pipes at a total weight of 20+ metric tons for the larger ones, and I think they're quite nice to listen to as well. While Hauptwerk faithfully replicates much of the authentic experience, there's one thing which bothers me about it, namely the fact that you are confronted with the fact that it's still an application running on Windows or Mac OS X, with the regular boot and load times.
Something I have been working on for a bit, which I have also talked about with the owner of that music store, and of course with Pieter, is an embedded solution, which would use a basic operating system (Linux?) and a customized version of Hauptwerk, reducing the complexity and load times and possibly making for a more pleasant experience. I wrote up a basic analysis of this concept and I'll see what the response to it is.
Because we spent so long at the music store and with the drive back home, it was around 9 PM already by the time we had finished dinner and everything. I had been feeling a bit tired the entire day already, yet when we were sitting upstairs in the computer room I felt so much pressure inside of my head and so incredibly tired that I just kind of shut down. Pieter even asked me whether I hadn't taken a sleeping pill or so. He practically had to carry me downstairs to my room and even help me into my nightgown.
On the upside, I slept until 8.15 AM, with only a short break around 5 AM. I didn't feel terribly rested, however, yet I still went to the pool with Pieter and friends. There I had generally quite a bit of fun, playing with the usual group of Chinese children, talking a bit with their mothers and Pieter, me and the others trying to kill each other with a soft ball.
Less fun, however, was the presence of a young couple. At one point when I was walking past them while in the pool, dragging along one of those floating separators with me, I noticed them all hugging and kissing and stuff, and I felt this enormous anger/rage/hatred welling up inside me. I seriously could have killed them in that moment, yet I reduced it to merely splashing some water at them, something which they barely noticed.
This apparently had set off my PTSD again, leading me to move over to the kid's pool, where the Chinese children were playing. That kind of helped me stabilize a bit again, yet I still found myself wondering about this murderous rage I had felt earlier. I can think of a few reasons for it, including my PTSD (not trusting guys in the presence of girls), my medical issues (frustration at being the only one without physical/sexual identity) and my bad experiences with relationships (getting used, abused and such).
To deal with it would require a) a solution for the medical stand-off leading to a physical identity I can accept, b) therapy for the PTSD, and c) possibly a relationship with a person I can fully trust and care about. I do however wonder whether I haven't suffered too much emotional damage already for this to be viable. Considering the enormous amounts of stress I have suffered and still suffer, as well as the increasingly severe physical effects it has on me, the thought keeps occurring to me that perhaps I have already passed the point of no return, that I'm merely living out my last weeks, or months until the curtain finally falls.
I don't know... I guess I'll have to see for now what my GP came up with on Tuesday with my next appointment. I still think that the psychiatrist idea is a friggin' joke, as one appointment a month can't possibly be remotely effective, let alone prevent a case of self-harm or suicide without active and very regular treatment. My only hope is that the medical side won't take that long.
But yes, I still feel absolute desperate inside. 4.5 years simply is enough to break anyone.