20 August 2015
18 August 2015
14 August 2015
maybe I am not wise enough or not clever enough or maybe it's still too early but really, what's the difference anyway
someone who has just been diagnosed with my disease (it's getting easier to write that, at least) contacted me and after I had offered her my personal spiel on it she couldn't find enough words to praise me and how I cope so fantastically and how positive I am and so on I almost shouted at her to shut the fuck up
but instead I put on my generous smiling face and walked away and into the sunset at the end of the rainbow
thinking this is getting out of hand
Summer is over. We are back to work and those brief exchanges of when will you get home over breakfast. But outside of course, it's still summer, heatwave after heatwave, breaking one record after another.
I would like to be at the sea right now, running into the surf.
10 August 2015
. . . the lesson of Lacan is, living by your wants will never make you happy. What it means to be fully human is to strive to live by ideas and ideals and not to measure your life by what you've attained in terms of your desires but those small moments of integrity, compassion, rationality, even self-sacrifice. Because in the end, the only way that we can measure the significance of our own lives is by valuing the lives of others.
08 August 2015
07 August 2015
03 August 2015
One of my grand nieces had golden sandals. When I told here that these were the best and most beautiful shoes in the world she decided there and then that we must climb trees together. We had a fabulous evening.
The Alps always sneak up like the biggest surprise of all. Suddenly we are surrounded by towers of rocks and fog. And then the lake.
30 July 2015
There are . . . no such things as curses. There is luck, maybe, bad or good. A slight inclination of each day towards success of failure. But no curses.Anthony Doerr
28 July 2015
22 July 2015
If action is not taken immediately my grandson will live in a world suffering heat waves, severe droughts and floods. Cities like new York and Venice will drown. We are on the brink of catastrophe but the solution to the climate crisis cannot be left to governments alone ... People are taking the lead and demanding change. We must not fail them.
Arnold Schwarzenegger at the world’s first summit of conscience for the climate yesterday
20 July 2015
Very hot, too many detours and well, my father knows how to lecture. Incl. trick questions. I managed to not disappoint, rattled off names and dates of various emperors and battles, after all he sent me to the proper school. If only for this reason it seems. To regurgitate history lessons.
Some of it very pretty, mostly the doors and the gardens.
16 July 2015
|Stolberg, Harz mountains|
Day three of travelling with my 86-year old father. Already, I have greatly disappointed him. It all started out quite well despite the fact that we arrived late (43 min!). As I got out of the car I could hear him clapping his hands all the way from his observation post in the deep armchair of the hotel lobby and before I had climbed the stairs, I could see the glee in his eyes. We continued from there. I tried to remain patient and all but some time after dinner last night I almost lost it. There are times when life seems too short to debate the finer details of classical Greek lyrics. Debate is not exactly the correct term either. I could see myself shrinking back into my angry teenage self, the one I thought I had left behind forever about 40 years ago. Silly of me, I know.
That and feeling unwell. I blame the heat for the time being and have spent the day in this very comfortable hotel
Still. This could be his last summer. It doesn't feel like it, his energy is overpowering despite the fact that he hardly eats or drinks and the condescension in his voice is as sharp as ever.
|always running behind him|
12 July 2015
11 July 2015
01 July 2015
29 June 2015
I just watched this short clip in the hope of hearing something positive. Not really.
Instead, I have been carrying this quote below inside of me like a heavy dark stone:
In a recent interview the Nobel prizewinning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, the leading scholar of cognitive biases, was asked about our brains’ limitations when it comes to understanding the dangers of climate change. “I’m not very optimistic about that,” Kahneman replies, despondently sipping tomato soup. “No amount of psychological awareness will overcome people’s reluctance to lower their standard of living. So that’s my bottom line: there is not much hope. I’m thoroughly pessimistic. I’m sorry.”
28 June 2015
No more cheerful thank yous and smiles all round because I want to remain in the good books when the shit hits the fan. I want to be the good patient, the one who is on the ball while at the same time understands the constraints of time and money, who can come up with short precise descriptions and not asks too much. In my ideal world, every person with a chronic illness deserves a personal assistant who organises appointments, tests, insurances, dinner dates and holidays, incl. cancellations and sick certs. I would settle for a robot.
26 June 2015
23 June 2015
Watching footage of desperate migrants from the illegal camps near the Eurotunnel in Calais trying to board lorries, reading the report from a commander of an Irish navy vessel on their latest rescue efforts in the Mediterranean Sea, listening to one of my colleagues arguing that basically they are all scum, only looking for free welfare. I want to hang my head and cry. Seriously.
That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
19 June 2015
18 June 2015
17 June 2015
"When I was a student at Cambridge I remember an anthropology professor holding up a picture of a bone with 28 incisions carved in it. "This is often considered to be man's first attempt at a calendar" she explained. She paused as we dutifully wrote this down. 'My question to you is this – what man needs to mark 28 days? I would suggest to you that this is woman's first attempt at a calendar.'Sandi Toksvig
"It was a moment that changed my life. In that second I stopped to question almost everything I had been taught about the past. How often had I overlooked women's contributions? How often had I sped past them as I learned of male achievement and men's place in the history books? (. . .) History is full of fabulous females who have been systematically ignored, forgotten or simply written out of the records. They're not all saints, they're not all geniuses, but they do deserve remembering."
15 June 2015
So, he watched it with the usual slightly bored yet generous patience he reserves for people who go all ooh and aah and generally fall over themselves gushing about Ireland as if it was a place of poetry and music and artists, many with red hair etc. But at about 1:38, he got all excited. Oh look, he called out, Ben Bulben in winter. Must climb that one again.
13 June 2015
12 June 2015
sitting outside with a cup of early morning tea
listening to the birds
waiting for the day's heat to build up
reading for a while
changing the sheets just because I want to and feeling like a fool afterwards, shaking and sweating
eating fresh strawberries
missing my cats
waiting for the thunderstorm and the heavy rain supposedly hitting us in a couple of hours
Music and talking is not so easy but I watched tv last night for a while, some drama about the Danish Prussian war, excellent acting I have been told, it just went past me in a blur of beautiful images. For that I can recommend it.
I am still walking on water, waiting for the swells to calm down, hoping to reach steady ground eventually.
10 June 2015
But suddenly I can see my hand resting on the handlebars of my bicycle, the forest in all its deep greens around me, the sun is breaking through a small opening and shines straight onto a small pond, birds singing around me. I don't know where I am or what has happened and I feel the noise growing again so I take a quick picture. Frogspawn on an almost dried up forest pond.
How calm, how beautiful, summer in the forest, I try and convince myself. But now a herd of noisy elephants is racing towards me, I can taste the dust on my lips already and I fall on my knees, cradling my head.
Later on, while we watch the slow drip of a massive cortisone infusion, the doctor still cannot believe me: you came here on your bicycle? I must have, I can see it locked outside the surgery.
And much later, after R has smoothed the sheets, opened the windows wide to let in the sweet evening air, after I tried unsuccessfully to keep down a bit of dry toast, panic seizes me like a force I thought I never knew.
08 June 2015
Who are these people? What planet do they live on?
05 June 2015
03 June 2015
It coincides nicely with the heatwave followed by thunder storms with heavy rain predicted for the next couple of days.
This morning I cleaned away various flora and fauna behind the shelves and sofas and where the pictures were on the walls and of course behind my great grandmother's sideboard. The spiders etc. all ran like hell and I hope they found homes elsewhere by now. The ants, I'm afraid, didn't make it. I could have rolled the dust bunnies into a large ball and spin it into gold but the hoover gobbled it all up.
Next week, after R will have perfectly reassembled the shelving, my task will be to put what feels like thousands of books back into some order. I am very tempted to chuck out most of them. I know, I know, books are holy and so on, but some are not so holy anymore and it's time to start clearing spaces, unloading my baggage so to speak.
Last night I foolishly started to calculate our meagre pensions and once again stared into the dark tunnel of poverty. Which is really quite arrogant because we will find a way to make ends meet, surely. And now my mind just brought me back 35 years when we were clearing out the attic room in Heidelberg. We had lived in this tiny room with its very crooked walls for almost a year while I was trying to figure out what to do with my university career and R was getting restless. In the end and for lack of options and cash, we decided to free ourselves from the shackles of careers and academia and start a new idealistic life in Ireland - or something like that, it was a long time ago, we were young and foolish then.
As a start, we decided to give away most of our earthly possessions - because hardly anybody wanted to pay money for it. The rule was: keep 20 books, 10 records, one bicycle and one rucksack with clothing and essentials per person. To this day, I still regret the 10 records rule and miss my Joan Armatrading and Cat Stevens collection and the fabulous Joni Mitchell live set, oh, and John McLaughlin's "Electric Dreams".
So we'll see what will happen to the books next week.
01 June 2015
and come they will,
when they stand in the sky
all over the world,
candescent suns by day,
radiant cathedrals in the night,
how shall we answer the question:
What have you done
with what was given you,
what have you done with
the blue, beautiful world?
From this online collection: Keep it in the ground, a poem a day. There are 20, but try and don't gobble them all up at once, they will linger.
31 May 2015
27 May 2015
23 May 2015
Ireland gay marriage referendum result: Yes vote certain
Ireland hasn't just said yes, Ireland has said Fuck Yeaahhh!This is also in memory of Marcus who in 1985 could no longer face the bullying and abuse from family and colleagues, who slipped out of our reach one tearful night to jump into the river. His body was found a week later.
some background here
22 May 2015
18 May 2015
Hurrah, I crawled to work and made it home in one piece, feeling like a limp something or other, licking my wounds and coughing from a tight chest - that and my croaky voice, oh very dramatic!
17 May 2015
13 May 2015
12 May 2015
This morning I was sitting in my kitchen with my head under a towel, breathing in the supposedly healing vapours of thyme and sage, listening to online radio. As my luck would have it I had tuned into one of my favourite Irish stations just as the news came on. Or rather: nuacht, that is news as gaeilge/in Irish. One of the charming little rituals that probably mean very little to most and an awful lot so some people in Ireland. Like the Angelus at six pm, still live on radio every evening.
I can understand three words in Irish: agus (and), buíochas (thank you) and grá (love). When I listen to someone speaking in Irish it's all mystery to me, like an ancient chant.
And then suddenly I heard the word Kathmandu. Another massive earthquake. Oh dear, oh saints in heavens and people on this planet.
Of course, we will all and everyone try and do what we can. Surely. It will involve money. The media will supply us with enough horrific evidence to imagine a fraction of what is happening.
And here comes the stretching because I am now jumping from Nepal to the Indian Ocean. To a place hardly anybody knows. A most beautiful place, paradise. I can honestly call it that because I have lived in a very similar place for a couple of years not too far from there. It has been the best of times for me and for my man and our child. The very best of times. And although we have all had many more best of times since, 25 years later we are all three still homesick for it.
Which is why I can feel some of the sadness (sagren in Chagossian Creole) you can see in these faces if you please take the short time to watch:
Let Us Return - The Story of the Chagos Islanders - 2015 from Evoque on Vimeo.
And while I have been working too long for human rights organisations to believe that online petitions have any meaningful effect at all, I nevertheless ask you to sign here anyway and hope for a miracle. There is no doubt in my mind that these people need to return and that they can have a happy life there. Not a single doubt.
If you have a bit more time, also watch this video.
09 May 2015
05 May 2015
. . . our families contain everything and, late at night, everything makes sense. We pity our mothers, what they had to put up with in bed or in the kitchen, and we hate them or we worship them, but we always cry for them.Anne Enright, The Gathering
03 May 2015
Anyway, I have now reached a far superior level in this game, the one where I juggle symptoms around until it feels as if I can manage a semblance of normal life, ie being a gainfully employed woman with a bicycle. For a while at least. The default settings of this level no longer include being healthy. But this level is so advanced I have already forgotten what that could have meant. Ever.
And on Wed I am going to see my lovely immunologist. But shhh.
02 May 2015
27 April 2015
26 April 2015
Almost to the day a year since the last big one. I feel so very sorry for myself. Very sorry. And I would bang my head against the wall if only that would help. Instead, I stagger around the house and that heavenly garden, lilacs, tulips, wisteria, apple blossoms. No cats. My first spring without cats.
At least now I can leaf through last year's diary and count the days I was sick with it last year (16 days) and also that I waited almost a week before I went for the ENT appointment after the cortisone spike brought feck all relief. This time, I am not even starting on that stuff. Well, not yet. This time round, I'll do the ENT before the immunologist. Variety is the spice of life they say.
Does it help to realise that there are worse things happening in the world? I wish it would.
I wish I could see how insignificant my little portion of misery is in comparison. I fail.
19 April 2015
They are men and women like us – our brothers - and sisters (my addition) - seeking a better life, starving, persecuted, wounded, exploited, victims of war.
I never thought I would quote the pope of all people but desperate news ask for desperate measures.
As I was sleeping in the early hours of this morning, as the first chords of a magnificent dawn chorus was just beginning, as the lilac prepared to open its first blossoms of the year, 700 people drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. They were adrift on an overcrowded vessel few would actually classify as such, never mind declare seaworthy, and tried to alert the attention of a real ship nearby. Seemingly, this caused the vessel to capsize and the latest news are that at least 700 bodies are still in the water.
These are the people we are allowing to die in the Mediterranean: teenage orphans of several (!) civil wars, pregnant women without family, young and old, labourers and academics, sons and daughters.
Nobody - and I dare you - is making this journey just for fun, to steal our wealth or to cheat on welfare systems.
Forget the fact that this society wouldn’t work without migrants, that nobody else will pick your vegetables and make your latte and get up at 4am to clean your office. Forget the massive tax contribution made by migrants to the Treasury. This is not about economics. Far too often, even the positive takes on migration are driven by numbers and finance, by “What can they do for us?”. This is about two things: compassion and responsibility.There are half a million people in Libya waiting to make the crossing. Libya is chaos. Libya is at war. Syria is at war. Sudan is at war. Eritrea is a cruel dictatorship. And so on. I know, African/Middle Eastern problems etc. but wait and think for a minute, it's not that simple.
Not all migration is caused by the west, of course. But let’s have a real conversation about the part that is. Let’s have a real conversation about our ageing demographic and the massive skills shortage here, what it means for overstretched public services if we let migrants in (we’d need to raise money to meet increased demand, and the clearest and fairest way is a rise in taxes on the rich), the ethics of taking the cream of the crop from poor countries. Migration is a complex subject.
We may discuss this another time. Meanwhile, what are going to do?
... let’s not be cowards and pretend the migrants will stop coming. Because they won’t. This will never stop.
Let's remember this:
We can recognise the human right to migration. We can recognise that we are ourselves, all of us, doubly migrants. We are migrants historically: our ancestors came from somewhere else, and originated, long ago, in the same spot in Africa. And we are migrants personally: life is the experience of moving through time, of abandoning each present moment for the next, of temporal migration.
Today I got mad with R because he took the car to get six bottles of wine from the shop which is about 2 km away. On a sunny day with three shipshape bicycles incl. panniers and baskets just waiting to be used.
Then I thought it must be a man thing and I apologised.
But before that we shared a grumpy lunch. Cheese on toast and coffee.
Today, I sat in the sun and read the paper while he worked in the garden. On and on. So I got up and washed the greenhouse. Inside and out, scrubbing and rinsing.
By the time I was done, he was still working.
When the sun had moved around the house and I packed up to go inside, he started to cut the lawn.
Then he cooked dinner. Fish curry. It was delicious.
Tonight, I started on our tax returns and when I went to get a folder from his study, he was asleep at his desk.
Tomorrow I will bake him a rhubarb crumble. Fresh rhubarb from the garden.
This and always.