28 October 2018

Like a fool I still believe it will get easier with time. Is this a survival instinct?
Anyway, it didn't and it wasn't, my seventh encounter with monoclonal antibody therapy. A grand word for spending a day in a state of drowsy nausea while attempting to act unfazed and not at all scared. In the early hours, I even converse with other humans until the world fades into grey.
You'll be here again in six months, the nurse tells me. I am not sure whether this is meant as a comfort or a dare.  Am I alive because of or despite this therapy? I have lost the plot a long time ago.

Instead, I get a treat and after the predictable 24 hour battle with extremely low blood pressure, I am packed into the car and chauffeured to the sea, dramatic clouds and open horizons, the flat landscape of southern Holland, sipping mint tea while watching the tide going out.

"When somebody does me a kindness, it enlarges me, adds to my life . . . And not only mine, it adds to all life."

Tim Winton   (from: The Shepherd's Hut, best book I've read all year.)

22 October 2018

We carry magic. But so does everyone.
It lies in water.
Human beings are mobile wells of mildly salty water. As every schoolchild knows, our bodies contain the same fraction of water—71 percent—as the portion of the Earth’s surface that is covered by oceans. This is no mystery. We are water animals born into a water planet. Water is everywhere and nowhere. It is a restless compound—transitional, unstill, always on the move. It shape-shifts constantly from gas to liquid to solid and back again. (Even frozen at the South Pole into a mile-and-a-half deep cap of ice that is one million years old, it still flows, albeit slowly.) The oceans hold 97.25 percent of all the water on the globe. The poles and glaciers trap 2 percent. The absurdly small, drinkable droplet that remains— the precious 0.75 percent of liquid fresh water that Homo sapiens relies on for survival—we squander like madmen raving in a desert.
. . . 
One oxygen atom. Two atoms of hydrogen.
Water molecules are bent like an arrow tip, like an elbow. This gives them a certain polarity, an infinitesimal charge, that collectively shapes the world. They are the magical solvent, binding and dissolving brain cells, mountains, the steam of morning coffee, tectonic plates.

Paul Salopek

This is the river, a short walk from our garden gate, after a hot summer without rain.

This river, our river, the Rhine, is fed to a large extent by glaciers in the Swiss Alps. Here, we see the development of water strored in these glaciers. According to various climate scientists, all in agreement, more than 70% of the remaining volume of water stored in these glaciers will have disappeared by the end of this century (my source: Swiss Federal Office of the Environment, FOEN, 2012).

 (Image: FOEN 2012)

13 October 2018

this is all over the place

Obviously, I read bad news every day and until recently, my reaction used to be, (example) so what if 15% would vote for the right wing populists with their conspiracy theories, there are 85% who will not.
Let's concentrate on what's to be done and get cracking. 

But these days, a sense of powerlessness is creeping in together with this idea of how much resignation would make my life easier, with better sleep and more time for the good things. After all, have I not been active and outspoken for most of my adult life and surely, I deserve a break without stressful thoughts and fears about the future. So, yes, powerlessness, take me on.

The thing about powerlessness is that it behaves like most sensations. It is a feeling, and feelings are very self-confident, much more self-confident than reason.
As in: Oh dear, did you read that IPCC report/watch these neonazi hooligans/listen to that hate speech etc. Let's lose all hope and curl up into a ball and hide and just wallow in finding everything unbearable. Don't even begin to suggest any concrete actions.

This helps neither the planet/my community/anybody I could assist nor my tattered self. And my problem is that I don't think I have the stamina to remain curled up wallowing in miserable powerlessness for very long. Probably only until I realise that I cannot step out of this world. So it seems the only thing that really helps is to start again, with endurance.

Endurance does not mean looking away, avoiding the bad news, nursing my wounded hopelessness. It means continuing to be affected, being shocked. If I refuse that and allow myself to be powerless I know that at some point I will just not feel like part of the whole anymore.  And this is a scary thought, to end up deciding that the world is bad anyway, withdraw even further into distraction and apologise for just watching. So no. I need to confront my powerlessness and respond, with courage.

I admit that this is were I get stuck because I after 35 years of calling myself a feminist/unionist/activist I am so used to the usual patterns, signing petitions, attending vigils, even chaining myself to a tree - been there, done that, bought the tshirt and look what I achieved. Nada.
There are people out there who continue to convince me that all this, alone and in combination with new amazing ideas does work, and yet I would love to remain reluctant. Partly due to my limited physical fitness, but mostly due to my seemingly unlimited supply of sarcasm.

Only, this morning my father shouted down the phone and into my ears that he has lived through it all before, the fascism, the lies, the fears, the war, the hunger, the destruction, the hopelessness and and and. His voice grew louder as he bellowed that he for one will not stand by idly while some idiotic whippersnappers waffle on about patriotism and how migrants are a threat.  As for climate change deniers, he roared, he has a thing coming for them too. It starts with science. (My father will be 90 years old next January and we rarely see eye to eye.)

So. This is what I know deep down in my heart and mind:  I must not allow myself to freeze into inactivity in a cold society. I must continue to nurture empathy, I must not look away.
Because if I refuse to look at or read or listen to the bad stuff,  if I give into my feeling of powerlessness, I willingly let all that shit happen.  

Instead. Responsibility, for myself, for others, for our planet. A wide open heart even if it hurts like hell at times to do so. To have the courage to suffer for what I believe in.
Sounds pathetic, I realise.  So what. 

some of the activists in this video are very dear to my heart, more about them here.

07 October 2018

On Friday, these two extraordinary individuals were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I don't find it coincidental that this year's laureates are dediacted campaigners against sexual violence.

I told them that I wanted to look the men who raped me in the eye and see them brought to justice. More than anything else, I said, I want to be the last girl in the world with a story like mine.
Nadia Murad, in her own words

At a time when men are being encouraged – by Trump and many others – to reassert patriarchal domination to demean women, to dismiss women and to define themselves in toxic ways against women, and to brag about how they can assault us with impunity, I would say: he is a model for men.

Eve Ensler about Dr Denis Mukwege

Dr Mukwege features in the documentary City of Joy (see my last post) and if you haven't watched it yet, do so. It will lift your spirits.


01 October 2018

"The only border that matters is that thin blue line of atmosphere."
 Nicole Stott (astronaut and artist, she painted the first watercolour in space)

Most days I get through ok, whacked, shaky and by 5 pm I can spell exhaustion in all caps. But the goal is to reach a stable state, enough to eventually allow for some extravagance, such as travel and a few wild nights and so on.  Stable state is not a magical condition, it's the best I can hope for (and oh, do I hope!). It's the little sister of steady state (physics: when a condition does not change over time or whereby one change is continually balanced by another) but less fixed. Basically, it means, don't go overboard for the next 12 weeks (max) until the dose increase of the drugs takes hold. And then we shall see if it works.
This is nothing new. As one of the world's most experienced immunosuppression drug user, I know that these little numbers don't work a la Hollywood movies where the distraught patient knocks back a large pill, preferably without water, and hey presto, within seconds feels better.

So I am really good these days, resting and reading and distracting myself from beckoning activities. Mostly. We did a deep clean of the tile floor in the kitchen yesterday, on our knees with brushes etc., but I swear R did most of it and the kitchen is not that big anyway.

I've watched City of Joy and it is simply an amazing, uplifting, empowering documentary about women, community, dedication. I cried and I laughed and ah well, in the long run, women have the answers. I want the whole world to watch it.

There's a blog to read as well, klick here.