31 May 2011

It apparently has been shown in brain research that when you keep a positive stance, i.e. straighten your spine and hold your head up etc., your brain over time translates this into a general positive attitude which is in fact reflected by an increase in certain hormone levels. I just heard this on the radio in the car, waiting for a green light, on a very hot day, eating strawberries, unwashed strawberries straight out of the punnet spilling on the passenger seat. Must be true.
I remember one miserable day last year in March after my month in the RW clinic when I sat in my GP's surgery and wanted to fold myself into a small crying bundle and it was so hard to speak up that he had difficulty hearing me. Where was Charlie Brown when I needed him?! 
(I have eaten so many fresh strawberries in the last 48 hours I think I am all gooey sticky sweet red inside.)

25 May 2011


A friend from long ago visited me last night while I was watching the box. I saw him in the faces of the men on the screen, heard him in their voices, recognised his shy smile in the way one of them turned his head  just a small bit to one side, looking down as if to avoid looking fully into the camera while he spoke of being sexually abused by his teacher. One of at least 18 teachers at this progressive secular co-ed boarding school. He was there, at the time when it happened, these were his schoolmates, I know that. I can imagine him, a shy, beautiful waif-like little boy. I don't want to imagine anything further. But he stayed with me all through the night.
We were close for a while, sharing music (JJ Cale) and poetry (Erich Fried) and films (Visconti's adaptation of Camus' The Stranger), spending more time in the Hohe Strasse cafes and pubs than at the university. Everything was so important, intense. Heidelberg, so beautiful and so many angry young students.
He lives somewhere south now, a sculptor, with a family, a quiet life - I hope.

21 May 2011

there should be more songs starting with happiness

You wouldn't think I could forget that I am ill? I can. And when it happens it is so sweet, so gentle and soft.
And, no, it is not just getting used to being ill. But maybe it's to do with me not dwelling on it so much.

Wait a minute.
What was that??
Only joking. I know how to dwell, seriously dwell on it. Self pity is my middle name.

reading Joyce Carol Oates

When there must be a choice, a girl will choose Daddy. Even if you are Mommy, you concede that this must be so: you remember when you were a girl, too.

I ran from both as soon as I could.

20 May 2011

the grapes

May morning

breakfast on the veranda, cat in hiding, birdsong, bumble bees in the poppy blossoms, peonies just starting... my man is a serious gardener.
I don't get it. I mean, maybe I am seriously naïve or too detached from the real world. Some weeks ago I finished a translation of a lengthy scholarly essay on the traditions of giving, gift vs exchange paradigms etc. The author - university professor with a tight schedule of global lectures and conferences - wrote in depth about anti-utalitarian concepts and gift traditions in peasant communities and urban settings and so on. Very committed and detailed. 
Her research and with it my fee was funded by a generous gift from one of these philantropic billionaires, who is also a friend of the author. In a footnote, this gift has been praised as an example of some ancient human gift giving spirit, bla bla and bla.
Today, I get a request from the author for a taxable invoice, i.e. to set off against her personal income tax. No joke.
Well, you can stuff it!

19 May 2011


My head has not been ok since this weird massage treatment on Monday. That was an impulsive move, I know. Lesson not learned. 
Yesterday was all hazy fog and more roaring than usual and today is headache day, plus it's close and damp outside, hot.
Funny (?) how I can vividly remember some headache episodes, like that one unseasonally hot Sunday with Mona insisting on a proper Sunday walk with grandchild and UH turning up out of the blue and so much showing off and many unresolved conflicts in the air and the sunlight unbearable and of course the constant remarks like this is what you do back in your country? Really, with children that age?

Or my good-bye lunch in paradise with the minister and the board members and someone from head offices who had come over from Mauritius and who kept on topping up the cheap white wine. I remember sitting through the speeches thinking, soon I must drive over the winding cliff road to pick S up from school. I laughed too much when I got the cheque because we all knew that my chances to change it into dollars or sterling were slim.

18 May 2011

17 May 2011

Maybe there will be a time when I look back and remember that in spring 2011 my menopause started. For the moment, I am quietly elated. When I mentioned this to U today, she laughed in disbelief. 
Dr B told me that hot flushes are child's play compared to the fever episodes I had during the early months of getting ill.  And right she was. She also told me that a hot flush usually lasts not longer than 90 sec max.
Well actually it's nice to experience something so normal. So predictable and natural. There I am sitting behind the steering wheel in a traffic jam and this hot wave is gently washing over me tingling and leaving a soft dewy feeling on my face. And all I wanted to do was roll down the window and shout, hey, I am alive.

16 May 2011

Sunday's child

I know, I know, this is the life we showed her and what with our living and working in many places, her six different schools and all the stuff about third culture kids. The positive stuff, the enlightening stuff. The wonderful fact that she can step off a train, a plane, a boat and walk down the road and before you know it she is somewhere in a crowd of friends sharing food and laughter and, guess what mum, this is so amazing.

But when I start seeing her in Julia Robert's smile for goodness sake, this is serious withdrawal.

13 May 2011

So what do you do when a 'friend' brings you a gift of two bottles of wine, nicely wrapped, and with her sweetest voice tells you, I know sweetie that you cannot drink any alcohol but I had no idea what else to bring you.
Well, I 'smiled' and when after about an hour of patronizing I closed the door behind her, I said to myself, good riddance.

08 May 2011

Inside of me is there is this stranger, something that eats my energy, my good intentions, my wishes and plans. Most mornings I wake up and I am myself, all over, inside and out. These mornings are wonderful, there is a whole day unfolding and eagerly I am welcoming it. I have come to cherish these slow and peaceful hours and I make my plans carefully, holding back the avalanche of creative ideas and projects that my mind is so endlessly producing. With as much mindfulness I can muster I step out into my day and get on with my tasks. And as I move through the day, the stranger wakes up. At first I notice it just like an insistent nagging, an itch, something trying to get my attention. But soon it is getting tougher, louder, snapping at me. And before I know it I am running, running, trying to stay ahead of this stranger and I am using whatever coping strategies come to mind to keep it out but all my efforts are as useless as trying to bat at an irritable insect. And eventually, exhausted, I give up and there it is, the stranger, the woman with a disease, a pitiful level of energy, shakes and vertigo, nausea, roaring ears and and and and 
This stranger scares me no end.

04 May 2011

Scottish poem

I give you an emptiness,
I give you a plenitude,
unwrap them carefully–
one’s as fragile as the other–
and when you thank me
I’ll pretend not to notice the doubt in your voice
when you say they’re just what you wanted.

Put them on the table by your bed.
When you wake in the morning
they’ll have gone through the door of sleep
into your head. Wherever you go
they’ll go with you and
wherever you are you’ll wonder,
smiling about the fullness
you can’t add to and the emptiness

that you can fill.

Norman MacCaig