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

At this stage I wouldn't even know the difference between success and failure. But I accept that my days are not and never haven been cursed. Today, I am mostly staring into space and wishing there was a way to compare the person I seem at present with the one I was 12 months ago.  My own control study, complete with Tables and Figures and the statistical work up. Then and now. Trying not to hiss at myself, what the fuck has happened. You call this energy? (The Alpine lakes are looking very far away at this stage.)

Still, R has asked me politely to drastically reduce my use of swearwords. We discussed it for a while, politely, and agreed that a short shout of fuck or fuck this is acceptable when, e.g., you drop the honey jar on the kitchen tiles because due to mysterious circumstances the lid was not screwed on tightly or when for unknown reasons beyond your control the handle of the compost bin breaks before you reach the garden (i.e. spilling the contents on the sitting room carpet) and, extending beyond the gravity scenario, when computers/printers/scanners/cell phones etc. act up. Which is where he has on occasion uttered the odd curse. God forgive him.

When I first met R's parents, these two very mild mannered and generous people who taught me that a stranger is always a friend you haven't met, I was pretty arrogant. I think so now. They probably thought so, too, but their hearts were so much bigger than mine was then. I took me several years of proper family dinners (all the trimmings and side plates!) and hideous parlour games and watching soccer or Wimbledon on tv together before I realised that they never ever used a swearword at all. At all. I mean, they exclaimed all sorts of stuff, holy mackerel, holy josephine, cripey, crispy crospy holy malosky and so on, while there I was all, jeez this and god no that and oh shit all, over the place. Of course, R doesn't curse either and now, after 36 years, he tells me. Jeez.

Lifelong learning.

28 July 2015

I have been grounded by my GP once again and tomorrow she wants to do the full check-up whatever that is. I am due at 9 am without my breakfast but with my urine sample. I feel like a fake. Or: I wish I could feel like a fake. There is hope for a simple explanation but also not denying the fact this year has been rather shitty and my sick days are mounting up. Already got one letter from the personnel dept. offering me assistance with occupational rehabilitation. I got such a fright, I tore it up and stuffed it deep into the kitchen bin way below the yukky bits so that I wouldn't even attempt to fish it out again. 

Instead, I doze or try and follow the plot in True Detective (I have no idea what's going on but Colin Farrell is doing a great job with the eyebrows). Occasionally, I freak out and wash the kitchen floor or clear away the stuff in front of the damp patch on the basement wall that looks so much bigger in my imagination than in reality. Still, there it is and we are arguing about its significance and whether the house will start to subside or rot away underneath us. We disagree wildly here and no longer communicate about it face to face. Instead, we send each other emails with drastic illustrations (me) or silly pictures (R). 
Looking after an old house can be quite a job, a bit like looking after an elderly overactive relative.

Anyway, after every bout of activity I am met by what my GP calls a significant loss of physical energy and it takes me a while to un-wobble my knees, so to speak. Which admittedly is a bit weird but - see above - hopefully with a simple explanation. I try not to think about it too much and spend my sleepless hours listening to our new neighbour across the road who sits outside at night skype-ing with someone faraway speaking foreign languages in a deep baritone. There is occasional laughter but he sounds lonely. I contemplate all sorts of explanations and even consider inviting him over (this is not the thing to do here, believe me) but in the mornings, his blinds are down, his doors are shut and I am not sure. Maybe it was just a dream.

Tomorrow, the second set of our three sets of summer visitors is arriving, probably full of energy. Theoretically, we are going to do all sorts of stuff. Including a very long scenic drive on Sat. to celebrate a birthday followed by a week swimming in and frolicking around clear Alpine lakes in Austria. Theoretically.

Meanwhile, the garden, oh the garden is bliss. 

22 July 2015

the terminator speaks up

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

one week in the mountains way out east

It did feel odd, strange, a different place. Maybe I am super sensitive with all the negative media (xenophobia, racism, the attacks on asylum seekers etc.) but this was not the Germany of my childhood. And not just geographically. Unfamiliar.
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

gone east

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 room bed dozing and occasionally exchanging messages with R who is following him around and on top of mountains and steam trains and much more I am happily missing out of.

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

Last week, a colleague told me that she will not eat sugar for one month to purify her true self or something like that. She said we all need to cleanse our bodies every couple of months. It vaguely reminded me of the way R's father explained confession and sins over Sunday dinner so many years ago, when he was still hopeful to have me properly baptised and saved and all that.

I like the idea. Cleansing sounds good. During my final exams at uni, I fasted for 16 days, just tea and a bit of carrot juice. I wanted to impress this guy, a former bf who was studying medicine, he called every day to cheer me on and check my blood pressure. Much later, he confessed that I was one of 12, that I had been part of a study for his PhD thesis. His experimental design was a bit flawed regarding the informed consent but I remember feeling great, apart from very cold feet and a furry taste on my tongue.

Every morning I take five different medicines, two of which I also take every evening. On Tuesdays, I take medicine number 6, on Thursdays, number 7 and on Friday, I add number 8. I keep the crumpled up instruction leaflets to each of them in a box somewhere. Early on, R offered to make a spreadsheet of all the possible side effects. I begged him not to.

But I wonder. What if I just stop them for a month to purify my true self. To rediscover my body raw with illness, to watch what happens, to find that thin line again, between what's left of myself and being ill.

I mentioned this to one of my learned friends, someone with years of medical research behind her. I told her sort of by-the-way, as if I was telling a joke. I even laughed. She just put her hand on my arm to stop me and silently shook her head.

So yes, I hardly eat sugar anyway.

11 July 2015

01 July 2015

It's early morning, very early morning. When you are weaning yourself down to the lowest possible dose of cortisone, all according to the carefully designed protocols, sleep is more of an irritation than the restorative deep space it usually should be. That and the heat. And the man on holidays while you slave away at your desk. 
You make a cup of tea and walk around the garden. Of course it's all gorgeous, dewy innocence,  the first rays of sun so gentle, so benign, not a hint yet of the merciless heat it will throw down in maybe two, three hours. The garden smells like the boudoir of the queen of Sheba. Just out of interest and maybe for the Guinness book of records you start counting the flowering lilies (in myriad colours) and you stop when you reach 85 or maybe 95. He planted them, that same man you got so mad at last night because. Because. Because he was so healthy and fit and jolly after his glass or two of some stunning red wine (you guess it tastes stunning but of course you don't know because your drugs are prescription medicines and while you are required to combine all kinds of chemicals to remain human, alcohol is not permitted in the mix)  and he never even guessed the urgency in your eyes when you asked for whatever it was you asked for because you knew if you could not get this or that done now you would not have enough energy later on. Or something other, all so incredibly unfair and why-me-ish. That endless game.
And so here he is, all fresh from his sleep, ready to cut the hedge on maybe the hottest day of the year, the century. We're ok love, he reassures me.