26 January 2016

My Heidi Klum colleague has decided to no longer believe in climate change. She is once again cheerful and delighted with the world. She is making plans to surprise her son with a weekend trip to Palermo (one overnight stay,  4 hrs flight each way). It is such a relief, she tells me. I never really understood it anyway and now I have seen this youtube video that explains it so well, it's all a hoax!
I fiddle with some envelopes and politely return her smile. Oh, how I wish I could just join her and together we would clap our hands and shake our heads, how silly of us, all that stupid talk and ice melting and sea water rising and weather patterns and terrible disasters. Away with it.

Throughout the day, I watch the people I meet and I silently ask them, what do you think, do you worry, what do you tell your children, what do you teach them, are you afraid for their future and if so, why are we so numb?

But of course I am not going to say a word. When R starts to talk about Stephen Hawkins' latest lecture on the end of the human race in the next 100 years (maybe), I ask him to shut up for godsake and at night I dream of a massive clock ticking away over my head. 100 - 99 - 98 . . .
I must stop being so gullible.

25 January 2016

cycling home from work this evening, almost like spring
When we label something good, we see it as good. When we label something bad, we see it as bad. We get so hung up on like and dislike, on who’s right and who’s wrong, as if these labels were ultimately real. Yet the human experience is an experience of nothing to hang on to, nothing that’s set once and for all. Reality is always falling apart.

Pema Chödrön

22 January 2016

Waiting. I am tired. So tired that I fall asleep sitting up, for a half minute, enough to jerk my head upright when a clanging noise, a cold breeze, whatever, wakes me up again. I want to look smart and presentable when the doctors knock and walk in with their white coats swishing.
Ever since breakfast I have been imagining what I'll do once they discharge me - which they have done by now or this post would not be up. The taxi ride through the cold and sunny Friday morning, searching for the house keys and stepping into the warmth of my messy kitchen. Putting on the kettle and sitting on the old leather sofa, wrapped in two blankets, looking out into the garden with a steaming cup in my hands and the newspaper on my lap. On the window sill, the first little pots are basking in the sun. We'll start with the peppers, R told me last night.

Not looking at the lab report from hell. Not yet.

To think that somewhere on these pages with their secret codes, the bold red type indicating where my blood sample failed to remain within the reference ranges, a hidden message may be waiting.
I am kidding myself. It jumped at me as soon as I got the print out and hastily I folded it and stuffed it in my overnight bag. I can see it with my eyes closed and I wish I would be ignorant, that nobody ever told me about transaminases and inflammation markers and all that shit.

Anyway. Spring is on its way somewhere. Get a move on, hear me.

Ottorino Respighi: Ancient Airs and Dances

20 January 2016

This morning my father calls me to tell me - once again - the story of his visit to Syria. Maybe 15 years ago. He brought me back two exquisitely carved wooden boxes and a bracelet made from precious stones. For himself, he bought a waistcoat in velvet and silk. He wears it with his dark suit when goes to the opera. 
Once again, he spoke about that morning in Damascus when he collapsed in a small park and crawled onto a bench under a massive cedar tree (he knows his trees). When he came to, he was surrounded by a small group of school boys in smart uniforms and eventually they found a common language - Latin. 
And again, he told me how these boys peeled him an orange and made him eat it, slowly, slowly. About the grandmother of one of the boys who came running with a pot of herb tea and some bread, about the house with the beautiful courtyard, the vines and the flowers and the whole family who looked after him with laughter and kindness until he was better.
Only now, my father is in tears. I can hear it in his voice and while he puts down the phone to blow his nose, noisily, at the other end, I start crying too. I try to imagine what he looks like when he cries but I can't remember when I last saw him in tears. When his brother died? But I was only ten years old at the time and we all cried. Maybe after Germany won the world cup in the seventies?

The Island of all Together (English subtitles) from Philip & Marieke on Vimeo.

17 January 2016

There is this:

The chemistry of the brain’s reward system means that when you receive a favour, like a cup of tea or a lift to work, dopamine is released, and this makes us feel good.

and the world looks quite nice all of a sudden
until you read on to this:

Random good deeds also activate our social brain, which is perked up by the idea that someone is looking out for us. Unfortunately when someone is looking out for us every day the brain doesn’t recognise this as much as it probably should.

12 January 2016

fiddly work in progress

imagine a pillow case - eventually

that an War & Peace (one chapter a day, thank you for the suggestion Elizabeth) are my daily rituals to keep the winter in check

11 January 2016

thank you David Bowie

for the blue nail varnish
for the glitter and the stripes
for the hair cut suggestions and the fights I had with my mother
for the wild dancing and shaking of my head until I felt numb and crazy and free
for all the gorgeous snogging on the dance floors
for the glimpse of rebellion you promised me in my youth
for the music
for the music
for the music

07 January 2016

Breakfast this morning was an elaborate affair, minimalist design meets carved fruit, that kind of thing. It all made sense once it transpired that the person in charge is Indonesian. Hence the apple roses and grapefruit flower petals. I praised her in two languages.
I pretended to be super cool and grown up when I stepped into the adjoining building with all the gadgets of modern medicine where I was soon put into place. As in stretched out and attached to a colourful range of cables and tubes. Or maybe this was already the effect of the clemastine injection. Beautiful stuff, let me tell. When R picked me up five hours later, his first words were, hey, you are tripping. Once inside the space ship on the rainy motorway, I could see the heavy traffic through my closed eyes. And back home, after the first cup of tea, I watched some amazing cat videos and read that Germany has invaded France again.

06 January 2016

This is your life.

The journey was dark and rainy and the train was late. I almost tripped over a sleeping Hungarian sheep dog in the hush hush silence of the first class compartment I shared with two eldery men who knew without doubt that I was only there because of the free upgrade. I am not first class material. The dog ignored me as well.
But I arrived eventually and walked out of the station among cheerful healthy humans. Nobody noticed.
The dinner menu listed more additives than options and it took a bit of persuasion to get a decent cup of tea.  I managed to appropriate the chocolate bar from the reception.  There are seven Arab, five Russian, three Chinese and only two English channels on the tv. The bed is strangely placed diagonally across the room. And the balcony is inaccessible. Everything is reassuringly labeled in four languages.
All this on the night before my first monoclonal antibody treatment. The adventure has begun. Tada!

03 January 2016

Just before I fell asleep last night I had all the answers right there in my head and this wonderful calm was rushing through me. For a second I thought about getting up and writing it all down - it was elaborate and complicated but very meaningful - but instead, I knew that I would remember all of it, word for word, in the morning because it was just, well, so obvious. Obviously.
Over breakfast, I tried to explain it all to R who politely listened and grinned in his usual annoying teacher way and I remembered the slight argument we had I tried to start last night and I could hear my voice the way it sounded at shortly before midnight, raised yet trying not to shout or cry. Something about the world being unfair and his lack of recognising this or maybe it was about the smelly bowl of 3-day old cooked broccoli in the fridge. 
He never confirms my greatest fears. But, he said, tell me all about it when it comes back to you, the stuff about all the answers.

I remember one sentence only: We are insignificant.