23 March 2013

My father is on the phone, we have both been watching another documentary about the war, all three parts of it, and once again, he tells me about the sense of liberation he experienced as he walked towards the approaching US army, a 15 year old school boy in uniform, armed at the last minute by some fanatic henchmen to defend his hometown.
He tells me again how the first GI stopped him and asked him how old he was and how in his best school English, he tried to say something grown up. And how the soldier took his gun and told him to run off home and how my grandmother burned the uniform that night and that he became once again just a school boy. Only his school had been closed for years and would stay closed for almost another one. And how later that night the tanks rolled into the garden plowing down the plum trees. How the family was told to get out, now!, and that my grandmother would come back some nights later to secretly harvest the apples and beans from her garden, while the soldiers were up in the house singing and drinking.
We compare his wartime experience with my mother's and all her secrets and tall stories, so he claims, and before I know it he doles out another string of reasons why he had no choice but to leave her and that marrying her was probably the worst thing he ever did and that she conned him and as usual, I say nothing while he rambles through all her faults, the drinking, the suicide attempts, the lot. And when he is finished, he says, well that was a nice little chat we had. You better get on with your day now.

20 March 2013

and the forests will echo with laughter

if only, if only
instead a fine layer of persil snow was gathering on my coat as I walked home
can't stand the sight of that coat any longer, that and the mittens, the scarves, the lot
back home I am tearing at the zip, throw the coat onto the stairs
the cat jumps and hisses at me
we are so sick of winter.

The new Kurdish cleaner at work is singing. Because she is tired of this winter, she says. And maybe with singing... who knows. But it was a sad song. About loss and complications in love, so she tells me. There are no happy-come-on-spring songs in Kurdistan, at least she cannot remember any.

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now
It's just a spring clean for the May Queen

That's another song, a weird and convoluted one. 
Come on, come on, let's hear it, let's smell spring.

18 March 2013

17 March 2013

ah sure, it's that day again

In 1981, when we were young and very poor, we somehow managed to get tickets for a Chieftains concert in the then brandnew National Concert Hall in Earlsfort Terrace in Dublin. The tickets were of the cheap variety, i.e. we sat behind the band on the hard chorus benches and the acoustics were the wrong way around. Tucked away behind and above the band, we faced the audience. Halfeway through the show Matt Molloy played this solo and I still remember the total silence during his performance and the exploding applause with all kinds people jumping up from their seats and SHOUTING.

13 March 2013

I think public transport should be free. People should be able to get on any kind of bus or tram or train for any distance they want and not have to figure out fares and tarif areas. I think free public transport would make the world a better place. 
(I personally hate taking the bus but only because I am too impatient to wait at bus stops. But I know I could sort this out if I ever have to stop cycling for good. At least I hope so.)
Because this gentle river valley has been struck by a sudden and unprecedented mini blizzard I find myself on a crowded bus today. Ah yes, the smells. The clusters of school kids. The nasty elderly ladies forcing school kids to give up their seats so they can sit down and file their nails. 
The ringtones! 
Opposite me a beautiful young man is reading the Quran, his head bent over the tiny book, his voice a quiet murmur. People stare and try not to stare. This doesn't happen every day. His cell phone rings (a faint gong like ringtone) and we watch him listen to an agitated female voice. He bravely tries to get a word in but is constantly interrupted, no luck. In the end he offers a couple of yes, yes, see you noises and as he puts down the phone he notices his little audience. He blushes and explains, my mum. And we respond with a nod and a chorus of ach so, and now he smiles and so do we.

11 March 2013

Whatever possessed me to cycle to work today of all days, I haven't the slightest idea. It looked kind of still and delicate out there by the time I left home. Grey sky, no birdsong, freezing wind from the north. At 3 pm tiny icy pellets started to hammer on my office window and I actually felt very adventurous looking out. By the time I got ready to cycle home, my bike was covered in a white crust and I bravely tightened my hood and set off into the sunset. Only it wasn't a sunset but a forest path covered in ice. All 7 km of it. Which I had to walk while it was getting very dark. There were a couple of other cyclists idiots on the way and we muttered our greetings like the fools we were. Even R could not stop himself sniggering, why on earth did you take the bicycle. Ha ha and bloody ha.

My lovely immunologist left a message on the answerphone that I should go for one week without immune suppression to give the stomach and the gums and the esophagus and whatever else a chance to heal. There are so many sore areas that I fear a week will not be enough but one must accept the little blessings. And hope for the best.

I really miss coffee. Badly.

09 March 2013

There's talk about gastroscopy, helicobacter, esophagitis, gastritis, duodenitis or whatever. Well, never mind. I'll have a weekend to enjoy first.

07 March 2013

Yesterday morning we woke up to no phone, no internet and no tv. And the eventual news that due to some problems blablabla this would continue for at least 24 hrs. We told ourselves that we were not bereft, no no not at all, and after dinner, just as we started looking for the scrabble, the phone rang and it was our lovely child calling from the other side of the planet. As usual we all started talking at once and R tried a couple of dad jokes and so on before we settled down and had a long conversation with many I-really-must-go-nows in between. And as usual nobody wanted to end the call until we bravely sent her off to work and settled down with this fuzzy feeling of warmth and nostalgia, both smiling and shaking our heads with wonder.
This child of mine is my blessing.

06 March 2013

well, it's a start...

but the forecast is for snow and ice, a very drastic drop in tempartures they tell warn us...

01 March 2013

social and media or why on earth do you blog

On the day I wrote my first blog post in December 2009 I had been told by yet another medical "expert" that I was imagining things and that in his opinion I was a tad hysterical and so on. He gave me two options: a prescription for "something to calm you down" or a referral to a psychosomatic clinic. I took option three and walked out of the door and started this blog. Well to be honest, I did not quite walk out of that door because at the time, walking was difficult, the ground seemed to shift under my feet most of the time and my energy levels were unbelievably low. Unbelievably for me that is. I know now that "experts" like this one see an awful lot of women in their early 50s who after complaining of similar symptoms do the slow shuffle out of the door clutching a prescription for a psychopharmacology cocktail. And to him I was just another one of these poor misfortunate hormone-stricken creatures. Bless him.

I knew, KNEW, that I was not going through some menopausal depression drama. Or I think I knew. But there were times when I was more than tempted to give in, declare myself mad and depressed and get on with "life" from there. I remember one morning a few weeks earlier sitting in the car in the pouring rain, quite unable to face the short drive home because yet another wave of vertigo was hammering through my head. I was holding a prescription for "simply the best on the market" anti-depressant in my shaking hands. Looking back, this was clearly one of my historic moments because once it had stopped raining I got out of the car and handed that prescription back to the surgery receptionist. No, there had better be another explanation for all of this.

Of course there was our baffled GP who, while at a complete medical loss, had known me well and long enough to keep on digging (with hindsight, we had some of it staring into our faces). And there were my people who tried to stay patient and supportive and hold my hand etc. But three months of this had been quite stressful and also quite boring in its repetitiveness for all of us and I was running out of people to turn to in my modest hope of... oh I forget what I was hoping for. And so to blog. 

I knew next to nothing about blogging. It seemed a good enough way to dump my fears and panic stations. Like Hansel and Gretel I started to drop my crumbs in the hope that one day they may lead me back home. Back to my normal life. Well, obviously things did not quite turn out that way. For starters, a few weeks after my first post I was finally given a diagnosis and with it a year (72 weeks to be precise) of hospital stays, drugs and tests I never thought existed.

When I got the first comment I freaked out a little bit. I had only told half a handful of people about this blog (all of whom had heard my stories ad nauseum anyway and pretended to be interested but basically stayed well away from it) and although I soon discovered other blogs and left a tentative comment once in a while, I never thought that anybody would read my shit, let alone comment on it. It still surprises me no end. That and that the majority of comments come from such wise and clever and human and gentle and caring and funny and understanding and sympathetic and kind people out there on the planet.

Still, I was more than unnerved when I realised that there are people reading my blog (silly me). Well, I have calmed down and what the heck. And while I will never disclose real names, real places or any such personal information, there it is: the real me tumbling through this maze.

Whereas facebook, that's another story alltogether. I joined it when our daughter decided to make ALL of the world her homeland incl. travelling to ALL of its corners.  Last week a colleague went off in a little huff because I would not let him be my facebook friend. I am old-fashioned here. My facebook friends include a) people I have been able to hold hands with in real life, b) maybe even hugged in real life, c) people who have sat in my kitchen, that is any or even all of my kitchens in the past 50 years, and d) the wonderful kids, parents, lovers, ex-lovers, partners, etc. of a) to c). 95% of the stuff I post of facebook is for my daughter to smile at, the remaining 5% are videos of kittens - and they make her smile as well.