29 September 2015

waiting for life to seep in again as it surely will

27 September 2015

We are all in some way beggars in this lifetime. We are at the mercy of others and at the mercy of what will happen to us. Of course, we can chose how we respond to it, but we are always praying for something to happen or not happen in one way or another. We come with these empty bowls and there’s a great deal that is given to us … We are all vulnerable to whatever might befall us.
Ellen Bass

I have no patience right now.  No desire to wait this out. I wake up in a sweat, desperately trying to find the switch that gets me out of this. Fighting another wave of nausea, but too exhausted to panic. Maybe all will be well or maybe it really doesn't matter. Shreds of dignity here and there but barely so.
Oh heavens. Tough shit.

24 September 2015

Yesterday and today

You wake up early, long before dawn. 
You turn onto your right towards the open window. Only, there is no window. 
You think you are in a dream still. 
You get up - in a dream? You want to go out into the hall but there is no hall. Not where you think it should be. 
You hold onto a door frame and you cry out, where am I? Can someone wake me up?
Then you collapse. 
You are dimly aware of the sound of vomiting, the jolly voices of the paramedics, hi what are you up to so early?
You are asked to open your eyes and you briefly try to concentrate on what maybe is the face of a tanned young doctor with long dark curls floating around her face. But everything is turning turning turning. Faster and faster and your head wants to explode with a roaring pressure. 
You can feel a soft rain falling on your face as you lie curled up somewhere outside on a stretcher. You try to apologize to the jolly paramedics for vomiting all the way to the hospital.
You can hear R somewhere in a distance and of course you start to worry that he will be late for work but the world has lost all boundaries and for a short moment you feel the excellent beauty of floating and you let go of any striving. 
You close your eyes and all is amazingly and exeptionally as it should be.
Many hours later you open your eyes again to the tedious and sterile reality of a hospital room. 
You watch the cortisone dripping slowly into your vein and you know you are in for the long haul.

22 September 2015

30th August 2015, Budapest Keleti railway station, picture by Zsíros István

the story is here

And this is the soundtrack that started in my head when I saw it:

20 September 2015

19 September 2015

The other day we stood and looked out into the rainy garden.
We looked out in silence and autumn started to sneak in, right there before our eyes. The way it looks when you squint and try to block out the green and lush bits. It felt like one massive sigh.

Later, on my way through the traffic I almost cried. There was a sad song on the radio. It rained. Suddenly, this wave of self pity washed over me and I almost shouted, I was so angry. Give me one day without symptoms, you shitty universe.

Back home, I walked into the kitchen and R stood there, frozen. I just heard live 
footage from the Hungarian border and there was this piercing cry from a baby. They are using tear gas against babies. We just stare at each other.

At night, I am holding a child, a sleeping toddler in my arms. That smell, so close, so soft. I try and keep very still, I know she will disappear when I move and wake up.
In the morning R tells me that in his dream he was holding S in his arms, a tiny S, crying and tired, until she fell asleep.

13 September 2015

Human beings have hope built in. If they weren’t hopeful they would have died out a long time ago.

Margaret Atwood

10 September 2015

Last night we got an email from friends of friends asking for any extra bedding as more than the expected number of refugees had arrived at the former school which is one of the first call places here where incoming refugees are  given shelter. So we drove out into the night with a car load of blankets and duvets and a big box of cookies and whatever we could find in the spur of the moment. The security guard helped us to unload and eventually, a few young men in shorts and T-shirts approached us with shy smiles. R started talking to them, where are you from, what would you like to do next and so on.  I was at a loss for words, all I could say was, welcome and I hope it will all work out for you.  And then we all cried a bit, the security guard incl. while more people arrived, my fellow city people, young and old, carrying more bedding and blankets and we quickly drove off. Today, people have been asked to not bring any more as there is too much already, food, bedding, toys, bicycles, medicines etc. and volunteers are now put on waiting lists. Still, it felt like nothing, a car load of bedding, and it is nothing and yes, I realise that my government has ulterior motives. Germany has the world's lowest birthrate and the industrial sector has been crying out for skilled and unskilled workers. Add to this the number of children who will be educated and trained here and do your maths. But at the same time, we - and I say this with a swelling heart and a lot of emotion - we Europeans are discovering humanity. To some extent, enough to make me weep every time I watch this video. If it will not open below, click on this link.

07 September 2015

This week I will meet the HR woman who deals with people like me, people with too many sick certs but who cannot be fired (just like that). She is in charge of this fabulous program which is helping people getting back into work after a long illness. I sent her a short rundown of my state of being, aka the volcano scenario, and we shall see. An exercise in talking at cross purposes, something about two parallels never meeting etc.
Meanwhile, I am holding my breath (in short supply as it is) waiting for yet another bunch of lab results, while working up the courage to make that phonecall for the appointment to have all sorts of stuff stuck into my throat, i.e. a laryngoscopy. Silly me checked it out with dr google and it made me gag. Way to go if you want to have an even hoarser voice than the one I have now.
As for September? Windy and rainy all of a sudden. Last week's heat has evaporated. The evenings are getting darker and I am reminding myself that this is just the way it is. Perfectly normal. Nothing to get worked up about.

06 September 2015

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark

you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbours running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won't let you stay

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly

it's not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilet
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn't be going back

you have to understand
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land


Warsan Shire

05 September 2015

03 September 2015

For more than two years we have been fed horrific footage from Syria. On our screens, we are shown what a terrible place Syria has become. For more than two years, we could have tuned into expert discussions about who and why and what.
All, ALL!, agreed that civilians are suffering tremendously and beyond our understanding. But for some reason nobody ever imagined that people who have suffered so much will need to escape, that Syria is no safe place for children, for families, for anybody. It was ok as long as they squeezed into the by now hopelessly overcrowded camps in the neighbouring states of Lebanon and Jordan. These are UNHCR emergency camps and for anybody who has never seen one: tents meant for emergency not for long term occupation in all seasons. Anyway, that was ok with us, watching from our comfy European homes. But since these desperate people have started to look for refuge here with us, we quickly shut any legal and safe route, we deny them visa, we will not permit airlines to take them on board, we force them in the hands of smugglers who put them on unsafe boats, into overcrowded vans and who drop them in the middle of nowhere or on the hard shoulder of the motorway. We do all this to protect our homes and our comfy compassionless lives.
All morning yesterday at the Serbian-Hungarian border, I saw Syrian parents determinedly walking with their children – trying to remove them from the horrors of the slaughter in Syria, which have been allowed to continue for four years, and to the promise of security in Europe. Those parents are heroes; I admire their sheer determination to bring their children to a better life.

Please read more here.

02 September 2015

Today, I had four very pleasant taxi rides between two railway stations and one clinic and our one and only home. It cost a bomb but I only do this twice, maybe three times a year. I swear that the taxi drivers all somehow guessed that this was a difficult day for me and they all tried to cheer me up. 

The Kurdish one during the 8:30 am traffic jam demonstrated his newfangled shiny purple reading glasses which fold into a small square and pop up just like that! He also told me that organised religion was the root of all evil and that we need to teach our kids to always keep their hearts and minds open. I totally agreed and it went from there. When we finally reached the station, he thanked me for a lovely time.

The Azerbaijani grandfather who dropped me at the clinic three hours later sang me the wedding song he has been rehearsing for his youngest daughter's wedding to a German policeman next week. It was a very long song and as I sat there watching him with his eyes closed and head thrown back, the clouds opened and all was shiny and golden sunlight around us.

The young Afghan who drove me back to the station offered me a cup of chai from his elaborately decorated flask and it was very very sweet, both the taste and the gesture, because it stopped me - just in time - to fall into that deep miserable hole of self pity and why me and all that stuff.

The last trip back from the station was a short German lesson because the Iranian driver had only arrived four months ago, for love, he told me, and so we went through a few phrases on his language app and after I had paid him, he showed me his young wife and his tiny baby daughter, gently wiping with one delicate finger from one image to the next on the surface of his phone. I would have asked him in for tea had I not been so exhausted but I took his card and promised to call him for my next trip, silently hoping that by then he will have passed the language exam to continue studying medicine.

On the train journeys I met:
A very heavily pregnant Japanese woman living in Cologne on her way to meet her parents at the airport, preparing herself for the inevitable onslaught of the expected Japanese misunderstandings regarding the European approach to birth. She was very flustered and I hope she and her parents made it home in time.
A former heroin addict who found jehova and the joys of keeping fish in various types of aquariums (aquaria?). Well, I now know a lot more about hard and soft water and African perch and why zebra fish prefer the company of neon fish or maybe not. 
About 20 preschoolers or their way to the Roman museum for really important stuff as one of them informed me. He also told me that under no conditions should I try and swim in the river because of the big strong currents and I promised that I will remember his advice. He then gave me a grape. 

With all this social encounter going on I managed only one picture. I didn't get that right, it's one river bend before the Loreley (yes, the Germans write it with a y) but it looks almost the same, only there are more tourist boats and flags. 

I also met my lovely immunologist and she did not like the look of things at all. Plan B has not worked out it seems, so it's Plan C for eight weeks with Plan D lurking in the background. Plan D is not nice, so keeping all fingers crossed for Plan C to do wonders. Eight weeks.

01 September 2015

At the risk of coming across all melodramatic and absolutely irrational, after all it's raining heavily (and there is a damp patch in the basement that worries me still regardless of the reassuring statement of our clever builder friend) and my balance organs, those tiny spirals inside my inner ears, are throbbing with the effort of keeping my world at a somewhat even keel, there is a tiny light at the end of one of the dark tunnels I have been staring into. Or have been staring at me? Anyway, it's really all down to maths. If 800,000 people fleeing war and persecution and poverty and hopelessness or whatever are coming to Germany, that's 1% more in a country with a population of 80 million wealthy people. Get that in your head you scaremongering xenophobes.

I would love to embed a beautiful video but I fail, so please click here to watch. This video was made by a Syrian refugee arriving with a busload of other Syrians in a small (and very conservative) German town where they have been given initial shelter. See what I mean? Yes, we can.

The music video is an extra.