29 September 2016

I have news for you—
there are people who get up in the morning and cross a room
and open a window to let the sweet breeze in
and let it touch them all over their faces and bodies
from a longer poem (I have news for you) by Tony Hoagland

You know what made me a tiny bit mad today, when this young smart healthy person in a moment of feel-good-compassion got all serious and put her hand on my arm, looked into my eyes and felt the need to tell me this was all wrong, that I was letting the disease take over, that I was losing myself being ill, that - oh no - I was becoming this disease and that she for one could not watch it any longer, because I am on my way to hell and depression and so on. And it hurts her to see how I have changed, worse, that I have allowed myself to be changed.
WTF, I almost replied, you don't even know how to spell  'this disease'. You have no idea of its symptoms and risks, you are too healthy to even dream of being ill beyond a sore throat. There are parts of our universes that do not overlap.
Anyway, said nothing. I smiled and thanked her for her concern before she was off on her merry way.
And do you know something else? I once was just like her.

Anyway, this autumn is like summer. The plumeria is about to flower, probably on the first October weekend. It feels wrong, there is no other way to describe this feeling in my gut.

22 September 2016

Some days I become a factory for sad thoughts: the night shift starts not when I go to bed, but when I decide to go to bed. As I turn the lights out. the factory lights come on. I used to make them by hand, the sad thoughts, but lately it's become more of an assembly line, the machines doing all the work: I sleep, and in the morning I have another consignment ready for distribution; for export, for import.

Patrick McGuinness 

I watched the documentary about the Syrian Civil Defense last night. It's only half an hour long.
It has won prizes at film festivals. This is the world we live in.

My father only talks about the war when I ask him specifically. Only once did he speak about the bomb raids . Now, he doesn't want me to mention it.
My mother never said a word, but when there was a heavy thunderstorm at night, she would walk the house, silently stand by our beds until my father came to bring her back to bed.
I never even tried to understand, I was far too angry. Why don't you just get on with life, I asked her.

19 September 2016

my homes, part 1

My first home was the drafty two room apartment my parents had moved in after they got married. I have no memories, only pictures. This was in the small, extremely catholic Bavarian town of Freising, with a large cathedral, one of the world's oldest breweries and - most importantly - the agricultural science department of the university of Munich.

Money was tight, my parents were young with two small children, my father worked as a junior researcher and my mother was slowly losing all hopes of ever returning to her university career. The story goes that I slept in one of the large wicker laundry baskets I now use in my attic to hold S's toys and a variety of sleeping bags.

There is a family anecdote whereby I fell out of the window while my big sister, who was four years old at the time, was watching me. The window was on the ground floor and I fell onto a soft lawn and my sister apparently went to my mother with the news that I had walked out. Soon after that, my father got his first car, a beige VW beetle, and his career took off.
My mother got pregnant for the third time and we moved to spacious apartment with a large garden and babysitters when my parents had dinner guests. The one vivid memory I have of this place is of the day my baby brother had an accident. In the evening, me and my sister were sent home by the neighbours, who had been looking after us and I noticed that one of the paving stones near the front door was cracked. For some reason, I was convinced that the ambulance crew had broken it and that made me mad enough to throw a massive tantrum.
Shortly before my fourth birthday, my father was headhunted away from the university and we moved north, back to my father's Franconian homeland into a newly built semi-detached house. In fact, it was still a building site. We moved during a very hard winter and during that winter, my mother's life started to unravel.

16 September 2016

Two weeks ago I watched the agonisingly slow monoclonal antibody infusion dripping into my vein, my blood pressure dropping so low I could not keep my body upright.

This morning I stood in the basement gym of the local protestant church, in a group of mostly elderly Muslim women, getting ready for an hour of Qi Gong. Lots of deep breathing, confusion, sweating and plenty of laughter.

Last night, a short downpour after another week of record temperatures, and autumn is in the air.

13 September 2016

This film is based on a poem by Jenifer Toksvig called 'What they took with them', which was inspired by stories and first-hand testimonies from refugees forced to flee their homes and the items they took with them.

07 September 2016

summer gatherings, final

1988, already steps ahead
The ground not quite there where it should be underneath my feet. But this I know: Soon I will feel it again and eventually I will go upstairs and take the sheets off the bed and fill the washing machine, the last couple of loads of summer gathering laundry.
Maybe not exactly today, there is no rush.

It's been a full summer and she was my shiny diamond throughout. It was a wonderful summer when she was around (and a pretty awful summer when she was not. Next time, I want intend to be considerably more healthy).

I forgot how deep it goes, how physical this feeling is, how heavy my arms and legs become  watching the departing car. Her serious face behind her sunglasses, while I am wiping away tears. Only minutes earlier we were snapping at each other, stop taking pictures of me, (stop being such a mum, stop being such a teenager) and now there she goes again, a car on the motorway to the airport.
In a couple of hours I will check the website that allows me to track their flights over the next two days and by the time they are back home with the cat and the dog, I know that I will have found the ground beneath my feet as well.

She moved out 14 years ago, slowly widening the gap (which now is 18,000 km wide). I know the drill. We usually argue at the last minute. Before we start crying.

Again. I let her go back to her amazing life. And you have no idea how amazing!

If this is true:
I suppose we are all products of our parents' joy and suffering. Their emotions are written into us as much as the inscriptions made by their genes.
(Siri Hustvedt)

Then she got all our joy genes.

Thank you my love for a wonderful summer.

06 September 2016

and so the night comes without fuss
like the quiet and graceful appearance
of an orca's six-foot dorsal fin
beside your kayak -
the whole creature bearing you
until it passes

Lynn Davidson

02 September 2016

What was intended as a 12 hrs max exercise/adventure has now expanded into three days and two nights of interrupted sleep and questionable food. However, the coffee is fabulous.
At this stage - helped by the prospect of going home as soon as the infusion has been fed drip by slow drip into my vein - I am so grateful for the kindness and skill and indeed thorough treatment plus detailed explanations of every step that I could start crying when the next smiling face walks into the room to monitor my process.
This morning I assured the ward nurse that I can find my own way to another  dept. where yet more tests had been scheduled and for the first time I walked across "my" campus as a patient using the shortcuts through a small green area only staff know. The early morning air was like a special welcome and as I stood there with my eyes closed facing the September sun and letting the breeze gently lift and carry away all lingering traces of the night, the smell of disinfectants and illness and fear that had  gathered inside and around me, this poem by Wendell Berry came to mind. 

There are new challenges, new results as I move into autumn and winter and I am not sure how I will be able to accommodate it all. But nobody knows and this is a comfort.