Category Archives: Life

The Ring

There is one stainless steel ring I keep wearing all the time in this last period. Not because it has any particular material or sentimental value, but simply because I like the design of small flowers it features, flowers that manage to make some difference and let my thoughts drift away from this strange reality that is currently suffocation my mind, body and soul. It has also one pretty good practical advantage – if it gets wet or in contact with disinfectants, it doesn’t darken. Steel is tough and it doesn’t care what you do to it, precious metals do. Precious metals and gems need care, cleaning and pampering – it’s the treatment all special and rare things require in order to shine. But steel almost dare them all, it defies cold, dirt, liquids, it renounces fancy and expensive jewelry stores because they don’t let it sit on their precious shelves. It proudly stands in front of you, almost whispering: I’m not expensive, but I can be just as much beautiful as they are, those I’ll never belong to.

Last Friday I lost it, for the third time. I took my mother to eat ice cream in a shopping mall not so far away from our place. There was one of those usual offers: 2 ice creams for the price of one, so we took advantage of it. We sat and ate our chocolate and strawberry flavored ice creams in the middle of a huge crowd of those who came to eat their small portion of fast food and dwell around fancy stores, usually without buying anything that isn’t on sale. From time to time you would see those with hands full of colorful bags coming out of the hypermarket or cheaper stores, pale, with big dark circles under their eyes, victims to the modern slavery of corporate societies and their own families who expect them to exchange their exhaustion and lack of freedom during the week for material things on weekends, for an instant gratification and small endorphin surge that in many cases vanishes completely by the time they get home and realize that the hard earned money is gone and that they got themselves a ton of not so necessary or good things after all.

I finished my ice cream and left them immersed in their quest for material happiness, heading towards restrooms. I did the usual mistake of taking the ring off before washing my hands, even though water and soap can’t harm it. But it’s one thing when you take it off and forget it in your own bathroom, and something completely different to leave it on a sink of a super crowded shopping mall on a Friday night. It takes us two buses to get home from there and it was only by the time that we reached the bus stop of our second bus that I touched my finger and felt for the ring as I usually do by reflex. It wasn’t there.

I got an immediate flashback of the moment when I took it off and placed it in the corner of the dark sink – the memory of so many dark and metallic shades in that restroom gave me some completely vague hope that it could have gone unnoticed, small, insignificant and totally inexpensive ring hidden in a corner of a big, fancy and ultra modern shopping mall restroom. Yet the hope was vague and almost nonexistent – this is a country in which everybody is lacking something, many people even that totally basic stuff. In such a situation you can definitely expect everybody to collect any single thing that they spot unattended.

I can appear a pessimist or even a coward to many, but I have one quite strange personality trait for somebody with panic disorder – I almost never give up, and it is one of those few rare things in which I don’t resemble my father. He fought to be on the realistic side of things, but he inclined to pessimism. It was impossible to watch tennis matches with him – if you like tennis, you know how the situation can change all the time from one extreme to the other over the entire length of the match. It’s always about the change, but one thing is certain – it is not over until it’s really over. Until you hit the final point, you still stand some chance even though all the odds of the world might be against you. We haven’t witnessed once the situation in which the players crawled back from the bottom of the pit of what seemed long lost match to even the score and even triumph in the end. I believed in my father even when everybody said that he wouldn’t make it, when everybody gave up on him, when he gave up on himself and just begged to die. I believed to the last beat of his heart recorded by ECG brought by the ambulance doctors and even in minutes and hours after it. It just couldn’t seem real that we lost his battle. Maybe this is some kind of foolish idealism, but that’s me and I don’t think it is such a negative trait after all – if we want to live this life, we have to fight, and the only way to just try to win a fight is to believe that you can do it.

I suppose that many people would simply assume with disappointment that the ring was lost forever, go home and eventually stop thinking about it. In my case, things are not over until they’re really over – I had to go back and cast that final look on that sink and assure myself that it was really gone. I don’t know if I truly hoped to find it on my way back to the mall, it was just that my anxious and impatient nature wanted to rush the bus as much as possible to get back there in no time. Just one look, that was all I needed. The bus finally reached the right stop and I jumped out of it and started running fast towards the mall’s entrance – I had no idea that I could even just get back to this huge place at the end of a terribly busy day, let alone run that fast. Two flights of moving staircases, one final run around the corner and there I was, in front of the entrance door of the restroom. I hesitated to enter, as if there could be more than one of two solutions – it was going either to be there or not, it’s not a rocket science. But I stood frozen for God knows how many seconds, almost as if I could materialize it inside if it happened that somebody had taken it away.

Then the door opened and an old lady came out. I held the door with my hand and headed towards the remote corner of that sink. With hope. Hope dies last, but it still dies from time to time. It wasn’t there.

Two young girls were washing their hands and gave me odd looks as I stared at that empty place where I left my ring, flooded with disappointment and betrayed by hope. It was just a small, insignificant ring that I bought for myself four years ago on the street, in the pedestrian zone. The only sentimental value that it could have was the link with those moments in which I had a job with meaning, I was teaching Italian, that language that I studied and that I still love and miss so much these days, as nobody seems to want to study it any more here where I live. I parted ways with English many years ago and it got revenge on me – I have no longer the fluency and vocabulary I used to have, and paradoxically the only two foreign languages that seem useful in Serbia nowadays are English and German. I taught Italian and my father was alive, it was spring of 2013. I had no idea what 2014 had in store for me. I went out of the restroom and as I was moving away, I noticed the cleaning lady leaned over some boxes in the room for the staff. I don’t think that I had some true intention to stop to talk with her, but remember – things are not over until they are really over. I asked her if by some remote crazy insane chance she spotted a ring on the sink, expecting no for an answer. Instead, she smiled and reached for her pocket. She opened her hand in front of me and there it was, back one more time, as if it were cat with nine lives. I kissed this thin, simple woman with dark circles around her eyes who obviously has a really rough life. She said she wanted to give it to the security staff later when she finished her work but that she was happy that I found her – she could have been on either of several levels of the mall, but something brought us together in the same place at that very same moment. I think she thought the ring was a gift from somebody really special, and as it was hard to explain to her that this wasn’t the case and that I was simply overwhelmed with joy because of winning one more battle against all odds and recovering my only companion in my utterly silent days at work. I don’t think she would understand that a piece of steel could be a lot friendlier than people, so I decided to leave out this embarrassing part of my life story. I left my backpack in my mother’s arms who returned home alone, so I had no money to buy something for her and it felt bad. I do hope that I’ll see her again when I manage to return there and brighten up her day somehow, in the same way that she brightened mine with her honesty and friendly attitude.

She’s my hero of the day, the person who managed to prove that kind and dear people with human traits still exist. I will remember her every time I cast a look at my tiny steel ring with floral pattern. Psy, you were right, such people still exist – just don’t look for them among computers, they are hidden in humble masses like rare remnants of some totally different times.

 

 

Doctors of the world please unite

Maybe this is not exactly the best comeback post, but I just felt a need to say something to the world I’m still living in. I know that I haven’t been very active here for a long time and that not many people will see this post so that it can make some difference, but still here it is.

I was on a cremation ceremony today, one of my father’s friends and my neighbor died, killed by prostate cancer. He was one really interesting man, respected, esteemed and loved for his vast knowledge and numerous activities, he could have still done so much and pass on so many things to his grandchildren, but there was no salvation. There is no help or cure if available “treatments” don’t work, nothing to do apart from stuffing people with morphine and making them hallucinate up until their bodies fall completely apart.

I do understand that cancer is hard and complex disease, extremely difficult puzzle to solve and that it takes so many active hours of research to get better treatment solutions, but I want to try to believe that there are also so many intelligent people living on this planet who could make a difference if only they would join their brilliant minds together. It sometimes seems to me that so many lives are lost because numerous great brains on Earth aren’t given a proper chance to express themselves, or because they simply spend time doing tons of essentially insignificant things to secure mere survival. As I walk down this alley of life, crumbling the second half of the life journey I was set on at birth, I realize every day that more and more people are battling with cancer or losing their battle for life. Those people need something more than treatment for pain, they need hope.
People who take care of them need hope, too. They are destroyed and completely drained in those horrific battles for their loved ones, but they would still tire themselves out to complete exhaustion if only that would mean the cure for the patients with metastatic cancer. As I was following this man’s decline, I saw my father’s decline – death by cancer isn’t that much different one from another even though there are hundreds and hundreds of different types and sub-types of this disease. I wanted to be able to give his wife some solution, something different, something new, something that didn’t exist in 2014 when my father was dying. I prayed for remission every night even though I recognized the same dad’s patterns in this man’s decline. I refused to tell her when the end was getting nearer and nearer that from what she says there was about a week left to him on this Planet – how could I when doctors didn’t want to tell her anything and exposed him to the radiation therapy in the last week of his life, taking their money and giving the family false hope by destroying the last bits of energy still stored in his body?!! And exactly on the seventh day, early in the morning, he passed away and the last traces of frail hope died with him.

The worst thing is that the time is still passing and every day more and more people succumb to this terrible disease. I wish I knew more to help, I wish I could change something, but I can’t. I can only send one small cry for help to the big world out there – oncologists and all other doctors of the world please unite your knowledge and minds to help the mankind. Rich people please fund the research for cure for cancer. It truly doesn’t matter if we’ll go to the space or drive the most expensive cars on Earth if we don’t have health. The death penalty was abolished in so many places on the Planet, but many people don’t realize that there isn’t worse death penalty than the one given by the doctor who estimates that you have a certain number of months to live and that you should put your affairs in order. He or she pronounces your death penalty while you don’t understand what you did so terrible to be punished in one of the worst possible ways, sentenced to wait for death in terrible increasing pains.

Those of you who can do something, please don’t waste time.
Those of you who can help doctors work in better conditions, please fund the research. It is SO important.

Don’t act as if cancer is something that happens to somebody else. It is true, it happens to somebody else up until it happens to you. Up until it is too late.

Specific

via Daily Prompt: Specific

There is a specific reason why I decided to come back on this specific day – it’s the Orthodox Christmas day and I hope that it can help me stick around this blog much more than I used to in the previous period. Many things happened and nothing in specific, my life has changed by desire or by force, but one thing is certain – it will never be the same. When a significant person is gone from your life for good, you’re faced with one specific emptiness – you’ll meet other people, you’ll do other things, you’ll laugh and cry again, but nobody will ever be able to take that specific missing place. Holidays are specifically hard – too much time to think and analyze, too many memories in your head and only one way to deal with all that mess – accept that life is just a constant, perplexing change and no matter what you do, you’ll never be able to stop the river of life going forward and taking away the world you’ve always known and loved. Its about countless endings and new beginnings – I would like to propose a toast to this specific new beginning of taking care of this blog where I can sincerely share what I think and how I feel, without the fear that I’ll be judged or rejected, because I’m wearing a mask. I’m just one specific person in a multitude of billions of other souls on this Planet and I do have a specific story of my own, but it’s nothing more or less than a page in the universal, non-specific book of life. See you soon everybody – have a great 2017 and may all your specific dreams and wishes come true!!!

Three months

decisions

1. TIME

“Where did this time go?” I asked myself in disbelief when I opened my dashboard again and read that it had been three months since my post “Diabetes” was published. I knew that it had been a while, but the extent of that period of time was obscured by daily events and musts. Many things happened of course, but also nothing particularly big occurred to keep me completely away from blogging. Tracking things back, it all started with the World Pancreatic Cancer Day and a very long translation I had to deliver in some reasonable time frame.

2. TWITTER

The World Pancreatic Cancer Day introduced me to the Twitter community I had evaded for so long, and suddenly I found myself in that vibrant wood of never ending tweets filled with hashtags and links, marked with a true ordeal to express myself in 140 characters. This trial overlapped with that difficult translation I was doing for days in a row, so Twitter was open in the background to keep my sanity in check in the much needed breaks. I don’t know if in the beginning I had some special hopes from this experience, but what I know is that most certainly I ended up quite disappointed. The constant flow of short tweets worsened my inability to focus on things, messed up my concentration, added unnecessary anxieties and left that bittersweet paradoxical impression that I was alone on a social network – nobody was reading my tweets as I was obviously just another anonymous newbie trying to figure out how things work.

3. WRITER’S BLOCK

There was another unusual consequence of formulating short thoughts only – whenever I contemplated on an idea for the blog there was a block, my mind was dominated by that horrible white page writers can stare at for hours with little to no success. It was as if I never liked to write as much as I did, as if I totally lost the ability to write, or as if I had nothing to say. As my translation progressed, this became more and more evident because at first I simply couldn’t wait to finish the translation and go back to blogging, only to end up utterly exhausted and with one desire only – to switch the computer off and deal with my own real world for a change.

4. TRANSLATION

The text I was translating was originally written in Turkish, converted to German and then loaded into some computer translation software (Google translate or similar) to get an English version! Now I was supposed to turn this broken and at times totally incomprehensible English into some decent and normal Serbian, wondering most of the time what on Earth the writer really wanted to say. I think that my head still aches two months later, so you can imagine why I longed to run away from the screen and keyboard and take a break.

5. HOLIDAYS

December slowly progressed towards the New Year’s holidays, which in my heart awoke even those deepest pains associated with the death of my father that managed somehow to subside over time. Holidays are to be celebrated with your family and loved ones, but the chair where my dad used to sit for as long as I’ve known the world around me remained dreadfully empty. This is not the worst, the worst comes with the final realization that his place will stay empty forever, that he’ll never occupy any other chair in this world any more or propose any other toast with that bright smile on his face I’ll never see again. Holidays in this Western civilization are also the time of the year when people buy presents big and small, the time for giving and making others happy. Me and my mom barely covered the basics, presents couldn’t be considered. I remember how warm were dad’s midnight greetings and how happily he looked under the tree to search for his presents and wait to see how we liked his presents. No tree this year, no presents, lots of tears. I began to hate holidays.

6. LESSONS ON HOW TO STOP GRIEVING

I was also given a “lesson” on how to better process my loss and harshly criticized by someone who never arranged a burial or had anybody, let alone a close person or a loved one die on his hands, which cast another shadow on already gloomy holidays.

7. BUS ACCIDENT

Two days before the New Year’s eve I was on a bus that slid off the road and ended up severely inclined to the right. The doors had to be forced open so that we could all be pulled out uphill to the safe ground.

8. 2016 – The ILLNESS YEAR

The year 2016 started. On the morning of January 1st I opened my eyes and instantly realized that I couldn’t – swallow. I could, but the pain was terrible. Ok, I caught some virus, that was evident. What I didn’t know was that the flu would turn into pneumonia, that I would break the same tooth twice on 2 separate pieces of bone hidden in meat for holidays, that I would have to have it pulled out while still with fever after very strong prolonged pains due to dentists not working for holidays and that my gums would get inflamed beyond belief… and the worst of all, that my lungs and coughing wouldn’t heal till the middle of February. If I knew all this, I think that I would choose not to wake up until January 1st 2017.

9. JOB

I sent out some job applications, but I didn’t get even just a short automatic courtesy reply that my applications weren’t taken into consideration.

10. LACK OF GOOD LUCK / HOPE

It seems that wherever I turn there are just closed doors around me, and that I keep banging my head against walls that are closing in on me. I do think that I used to have luck in this life, especially in my school years, but I also think that there must be a certain variable amount of good luck in our lives that comes with an expiration date. Mine seems to have expired, several years ago. Good things ended and life got severely restricted when agoraphobia hit me in 2007 like never before. I still think that my life ended right there in the street on one sunny April day, a street that I finally crossed on the 7th or 8th attempt in total panic, feeling as if I would lose my mind once and for all. On many occasions I believed that it would have been much better if I hadn’t survived crossing that street, at least I would have died without ever getting to know the depths of despair in the unjust fight for sanity, peace of mind, and finally even life of the person who was always there for me with true and unconditional love only a devoted parent can have for his / her child. My dad’s fight is over, my fights continue every day and as whatever I do nothing works, it really feels that life has given up on me. It’s as if there are no more tasks for me to perform on this planet, as if I’m no longer needed. If there is a bigger plan we know nothing about and if things should be exactly as they are even though we don’t understand why, then it seems that my mission is over. I have no other explanation for this life without life which consists of memories and painful and empty present days. I try hard to survive them, one after another, but it’s far from easy. It’s not a rant of a spoiled childish person and I don’t long for anything big, my dreams don’t go farther than a honest work for 100 dollars a month. I don’t dream of yachts, houses or exotic islands, I dream of a day in which somebody would come to keep me company and be my friend while we get on a city bus and go to a park without any fear or panic. I would like to buy a pair of jeans and a jacket, I haven’t done so in 10 years. At first I had means but I couldn’t get out of house, now I get out of house with tons of struggles but I don’t have means. It’s an unjust world, on one side you have people who don’t have what to eat and cover many miles to fetch water every day, those who survive on less than 50 dollars per month, those who struggle with illnesses and have no either material or realistic means to cure themselves… and on the other side, you have those who have everything, whose lives consist of constant fulfillment of their wildest dreams. I feel I still have things to offer, in spite of my panic disorder and pretty realistic odds that I’ll end up having cancer as well sooner or later, but somehow what I have to offer or say is not needed. Market dictates differently and it seems that I missed my trains.

11. FIGHTING AGAINST WINDMILLS… OR THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING

I’m still going on, in spite of everything, in spite of knowing that there is just tumbling downhill in front of me, that if I stay here long enough I’ll lose my dogs, mom and eventually a house as well if I don’t manage to earn something. I try not to think about it and live one day at a time, that’s what’s defined as “sane”, while sane and logical would be to be scared to death of such life perspective. People just tell you – oh something good will happen, you’ll see. THINK POSITIVELY. If you ask them what exactly to think to make such horrid life scenario positive and what’s the recipe for success, they have no idea, but they still repeat – think positively. Or something like this – keep your goals within objective limits. If you know how to shrink mine further down, speak freely, I’m all ears. Also if you know how to make good things happen just like that on their own, don’t hesitate to write.

Thanks for listening… and let’s “think positively” for the rest of this already pretty hard year. Be well and take care.

Coming back

Daises

It’s been a while, I know. Again. It’s not that I was away doing something extra special or particularly nice, on the contrary, and it’s not that I forgot about the blog or blogging. Many things happened for sure, but even when there were breaks from the routine and when I tried to come up with something to say, I was confronted with that big scary blank page I couldn’t overcome. The roller coaster of negative emotions, illnesses and inability to deal with life as it is now for me affected my expression to a great extent. Whoever said that time alone heals, lies. I’ve also been trying hard to find any kind of paid job I could do online from home… the effort is without success, which is pretty discouraging and disappointing as well in a situation where there isn’t enough income. I tried writing a comeback story with highlights of the events from these past months, but I’m not succeeding in cutting a long story short or making it prettier to make it sound less like a rant. It will take me some more time, but I’ll complete it so that I could have a starting point for this comeback journey in which I’ll have to define a course this blog should take if I want to keep it in a more regular fashion. I want at least something to happily grow again in this sad life of mine filled with stagnation of everything I once did. The only thing I always do, every single day, is overthinking. I’m horrible at doing things in the physical world, while I could think and weave thoughts forever as it seems. There should be at least some use of it, at least there should be the joy of sharing them with the world.

Another comeback, just like another spring emerging out there in the fields, symbolized by these very first shy little daises. Hope.

About American Express and “cross it out” demons

As November 15th was getting closer and closer, I had to get myself ready for paying the share of bills my dad used to cover. If I get the money for the job I occasionally do, this is my obligation. If not, then me and my mom have to come up with some incredible idea how to make the ends meet as her retirement money can’t cover all our bills and at the same time also sustain our food for 30 days. I got some money this month, but in addition to regular bills I also had to cover the last quarter of the annual tax for the apartment we live in, which is over the limit of the budget I receive. As I was making calculations and borrowing the additional necessary sum of money from the limit the bank allows on the only credit card I hold, I suddenly found myself in the middle of some kind of commercial for the American Express credit card the bank clerk was giving her best to make me take. As I was laughing out of misery over her shiny counter while trying to explain to that fancy woman that she was knocking too hard on the wrong door, she went on to elaborate on the wonders of what the travel health insurance that comes with the American Express can do. It virtually provides you with the health insurance that covers the trips all over the world, as opposed to MasterCard’s insurance which is valid for Europe and Turkey only. She continued with praises as to how this is wonderful if I travel a lot, especially if I have a family of my own. Another involuntary stab into my back from her part because obviously she thinks that if she works in a bank for a great salary, has good health and a husband and two kids, that everybody else is like her. Maybe “normal” people are, maybe that’s how things usually work or should work. And as they don’t work that way in my case, maybe that simply means that I’m not “normal”. Whatever.

When she asked if I travel, I replied – No, very rarely at the moment. What I should have said was – No, I don’t travel at all.
A) I have no money.
B) I’m an agoraphobic, I can barely stand an hour drive from home to the cottage house. You don’t need the American Express health insurance for the village at the outskirts of Belgrade.
C) I might as well die without bothering the health services – it’s just my mom who would notice the difference, the world couldn’t care less.

When she asked if I’m married, I said – no, I’m not. She replied – oh that’s not a problem, when you get married, all the members of your family will be insured as well. She said this as if getting married were some sort of undebatable truth, almost an axiom: you’ll get married, period.
What I should have said was – No, I’m not married and I’ll probably never marry.
A) I’m 39 and living in Serbia, people are already married at that age here if they marry at all.
B) I’m 39 and female, it’s getting highly unlikely that I’ll have kids if I ever marry. Serbian men usually run away from women like me.
C) I have panic disorder complicated with episodes of extremely severe agoraphobia. It’s not a flu and it won’t go away. Men in Serbia have many much younger women without mental health issues at their disposal.
D) My father died of cancer and I resemble him so drastically that I can almost bet that what I witnessed will be exactly how the end of my days will look like. Panic disorder runs in families and is inherited in 86% of cases. The type of cancer my dad had is also very often inherited, and I can’t go and have my pancreas and the rest of endocrine glands taken out as a preventive measure to secure myself a long and healthy life. I still need to somehow digest the food that I eat. The ethical question is whether or not should I create another human being and leave it on this planet with extremely high probability of being condemned to this terrible fate… life is hard even on its own.

So, where were we – basically yep, no thank you, I don’t need an American Express card. The commercial was great and the offer tempting, but you picked up a wrong target. Thank you again, but NO thank you. I think that the bank clerk would be amazed what kind of life baggage could be hidden under a credit card commercial carpet.

While I just wanted to get rid of my November bills, I actually managed to get my self-esteem deflated to zero and below by the time I was pushing that expensive double door to run away to the street and get some bank-free air. I left aside barely enough money to buy a dental floss. It’s my life savior, as without it my dental pockets would require the hideous emergency pocket cleaning and eventually degenerate into paradentosis. More money. More pain. I used to visit my dentist regularly, now I can’t any more. I entered a DM store, heaven for every Belgrade woman in love with makeup and style. High quality German brand in combination with every other world’s best cosmetic brand you can think of, and on the top of everything tasty organic products. Almost perfect, if it didn’t require a lot of money. I grabbed the floss and as I was walking towards the cashier, I spotted a winter scarf. Lovely colors, stripes in all shades of violet from the darkest to the lightest. That’s me, my color, the one I like the best. I didn’t like the price though. Seven dollars. In America, that can probably be defined as cheap by many people. In Africa, that’s a whole world for a poor person whose village is miles away from food and water. In Serbia, it’s somewhere in between if you belong to what used to be defined as middle class. I don’t any more. So I paid for my floss and went out making sure that I arrive home as soon as possible. Not so much because of agoraphobia, more because of the fact that from the terrace of my apartment you can’t see any banks or shiny department store windows. There are just trees, little wood that can never remind me so harshly that I am a failure. Nothing to buy, nothing to sell, no credit cards, insurances or scarves. Just nature. Thank God for that. I just need a constant reminder that I should stay here as much as possible because going out there among all that “normal” people strongly aggravates my depression. Also, I have to remember not to make shopping lists. Instead of writing things down I need some sort of mental pencil to cross out every single item that comes into my mind. I can do without things, as long as I’m not hungry and capable of covering the basic needs. That’s for now. What will happen tomorrow? I simply can’t think about it. I don’t make plans, I have no means for that. It has nothing to do with panic, laziness or depression, I sent out dozens of job applications willing to push over all my limits, but with no success. Qualifications are not a problem, but age is. 39 seems to be way too old for any Serbian employer, plus the country is in quite severe recession. Life in Serbia is very hard, even without my issues.

I’ll leave this post as a reminder that I absolutely must block all shopping desires that come into my head because it still won’t come naturally, I’m doing my best to adjust to this new life I have to live. It’s livable, it surely still is life. And all that stuff we tend to consider important or even essential at any given point of time can be done without. People matter, not things.

Omega blocking

Omega block
Just what is an omega block?

I always follow weather forecast on the first channel of our national television, RTS 1. In my opinion they have the most accurate forecast for Belgrade area for the next 3-5 days, with the successful prediction rate of nearly 90 percent, which is among the highest in Europe. Also, one of the reporters called Biljana Vraneลก is a graduated meteorologist and always loves to back up the forecast explanations with interesting scientific facts. Tonight she talked about dry and unusually nice weather and clear sky above Serbia, and how the field of high pressure in our atmosphere is responsible for chasing rainy clouds away and towards East. It would have remained one of fairly ordinary forecasts if she didn’t mention that this phenomenon is known as omega block or omega blocking. That’s where the amusement and laughter started almost instantly, both because I imagined how interesting it was that the shape of Greek letter omega could shield the sky over Serbia and also because I realized how cool this expression was. In Serbian it sounds even more cool, like some super fancy foreign explanation why it’s not simply speaking cold in November as it should be, but even in English it can be hilarious. Remember how we all talk a lot about weather especially when we don’t know what to say in certain situations, or how much we complain of meteoropathy, i.e. how weather makes us feel all sorts of pains and aches, and how much we blame it for irritability, instability, anxiety, depression, aggression, insomnia etc.? Well, now if you find yourself in the middle of good weather when not expected you can tell others – oh I feel bad today, I have omega blocking… or you can excuse yourself if you unexpectedly yell at somebody with one nice – sorry, it wasn’t me, it’s just my omega blocking ๐Ÿ™‚ They might as well think that it’s some weird new alternative diagnose and sympathize with you, oblivious of the truth that it’s actually just the good old weather going on your nerves. It’s the same trick doctors use when they speak Latin, even the simplest of things and treatments get raised to a whole new upper level. In my case, I’ll try to enjoy my omega blocking as long as it lasts, i.e. till this Greek letter decides to move away from my little country and make space for some water in form of rain and snow. We’ll come up with some other fancy expression to justify winter blues by then, that goes without saying. ๐Ÿ™‚

Biljana Vranes
Biljana Vranes – video by RTS / Radio Television of Serbia

Republic Hydro meteorological Service of Serbia

Flowers for my dad

Today was one of four yearly memorial days for the dead in my culture, another occasion to visit and take care of my dad’s grave, bring flowers and relive the memories of one life that reached its end last year. Another reminder that the pain never goes away, you just learn to live with it. You simply survive because it’s the law of life, it’s still not your time. Rest in peace dear dad, as long as I live the memory of your life will live too.

chrysanthemum
Bright red chrysanthemum – photo by tamellu 2015
Heart of chrysantemums
Heart of chrysanthemums – photo by tamellu 2015

Bad vs. good news

I was always inclined to first perceive the bad picture when I summarized the event of the day, month or year. Quite sadly for a long time that was actually the only picture I perceived, unable to confront it with its opposite counterpart which always exists, no matter how dark is the darkness we sometimes found ourselves in. Flaw of the character or simply the consequence of my mental health issues which colored my days with the gray filter of depression even long before the tragic loss of my father, that was who I was and still am to a certain point. It just took a completely new shape in this last year or so because even when things are funny or I begin to smile, it is never again that relaxed bubbly laughter I used to enjoy in the past. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how independent you are at the time when you lose your parents, it’s only then that you truly become that mature grown up adult, one of all those other adults at that given moment world has now to rely on. Those who shaped that world before slowly leave the scene and you find yourself more and more alone in front of the big audience to show all you can and cannot do. Till then you always had somebody who could in case of necessity watch your back, give you advice, replace you for a moment or two. Perhaps you didn’t use that backup option at all, but still you knew it was there, like a comforting emergency button you could push at any given instant, a person or persons who would never betray you and always be there at least to give you warm two cents of their own. When you lose that, again no matter at what age, you lose the unconditional ground under your feet and your time comes to shape some tiny piece of this planet in your own way. It was easy to criticize or watch from a safe distance the previous generation at every possible work you could imagine and say that you would do it better if only they let you – when your time comes you see how hard that task is. How easy it is to make mistakes. How many insecurities and unknown things lie even in some seemingly simple everyday tasks you weren’t involved in. You realize that it’s not easy at all to shape the world. That this is new time frame but that people are still people, that your generation isn’t much better or worse than all the previous generations. That you missed so many important lessons, but that you have to do something, without creative and not so creative blocks inside that just serve as an excuse for – oh that’s too difficult, strenuous or tiresome, I’ll leave it for tomorrow. You can’t leave it, because there are not so many tomorrows out there any more. It’s scary and requires responsibility. But that’s how it is. This realization leaves you with some sort of mature scar on your soul, a scar that makes adults adults and alienates them from the carefree strength of a happy childhood.

I used to be extremely sad in this past year, now life is somewhat more frozen in several shades of gray the mature realization that I’m alone to fight now consists of. Life is hard. Literally. Things around you weigh a whole ton when you try to lift them and there is nobody else to do it for you any more. I have 57-58 kilos now and I probably shouldn’t lift anything heavier that 10-15 kilos but I have to. Nobody asks if I can. And anyhow I was never used to transferring the weight from my shoulders to other people’s backs. This heaviness of life serves as a burning fuel for depression which in turn continues to force me to see mainly just the negativity in the world around me. I’m aware of that. I see that others are aware of that too – people don’t like simple reality, they strive for inspirational heroes even if they are just a myth because people in general are much less brave than they pretend to be in front of others. What counts is what you think and how you feel when you stay alone with yourself in front of your bathroom mirror and honestly face your true reality, and there are not many of those who would sincerely share such moments with others. Nevertheless, if you’re honest, people flee. They run away from you, they don’t call you, they leave you on your own to “pull yourself together”. They can’t listen to negativism, they search for inspiration. People are just – people.

When I used to actively fight against panic disorder I read all sorts of psychological texts from the field of self-help and I tried out all sorts of techniques to simply survive a day. One of them which was dedicated more to the fight against depression than with panic was to write down your negative thoughts, at least several a day and then find as many good things in that day to confront the negativism with. At first that is extremely challenging because you simply can’t see anything good in horrible days. They you do somehow squeeze out good moments onto that paper, but they seem totally insignificant. With time and practice it gets easier, actually they say that if you practice this long enough it can become your second nature to first see the good and only later the bad in your days. I was never patient enough to give it a decent try so I don’t know if it works on the long run to improve the thinking patterns, but I know that it was a helpful tool on some pretty rainy days.

Today my soul is pretty heavy, as if somebody were sitting on my chest. Let’s try to chase some fog away by a short bad vs. good list:

1. Remember kitten Maconi from the photo post? Well, it’s not at the cottage house any more nor it will ever be. There are two people who live there in the immediate surroundings all the time, but they both refused to take care of it during the winter by saying that they don’t have the food for a cat??! My uncle wants to spend a carefree wonderful winter abroad so he won’t be here for at least 3 months. For that reason the kitten was sent away to some distant yard, it’s quite unclear if it will be taken care of or abandoned to search for food by itself during winter.

2. The first neighbor at the cottage house who was ill this last year and a half died today. My father would be very sad if he were here to hear the news, I remember their adventures when they walked for miles in good and bad weather when the buses would break down and there was no other means for them to reach their cottage houses in the past when the village wasn’t well connected with the town.

3. I have strong back and muscle pains due to heavy duty work at the cottage house yesterday – the place doesn’t look small at all when you have to collect leaves and heavy rotten apples to carry them away, there were 100 kilos of rotten apples to be collected in order to prevent trees to catch illnesses. Then I went up and down the ladder for like 50 times, quinces are finally ripe – the wind was blowing like crazy, branches were hitting me in the face and I was losing balance and almost falling down from some crazy heights.

4. I was following this year the life of one very special Serbian female writer, Isidora Bjelica. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 3 years ago and went into two remissions, but the disease stroke back again in April-May this year for the third time. She tried vast number of expensive therapies, there were big humanitarian concerts as people gathered to collect money so that she could be treated in Switzerland, she promised to fight the best she could with lots of love for her fans and every single person who gave her a friendly word of support on her Facebook page. She posted that the imaging tests done today showed that her cancer spread very much and very aggressively. I felt the blow of heavy sorrow and those same mixed emotions I wrote about that haunt me for a very long time now.

The list could go on for quite a while, but I want to stop here with the negativism. Let’s search for the positive face of things:

1.In spite of pains I managed to bake a bread. And it turned out really excellent and tasty, I hope that I finally nailed the recipe that I should stick to.

2. Quinces are hard to collect and they have very unique taste, but they are also such a pretty site to look at, plus their smell is amazing. There are beautiful songs about quinces on cupboards during winter in our tradition.

3. It is hard for me to go to the cottage house, but I’m giving my best to convince myself that it is nothing and that I can do that. I’m fighting agoraphobia the best I can.

4. It is hard, but I’m somehow managing to post 2-3 times a week. I always say to myself – it won’t take long, I’ll write a shorter post this time… then I end up writing a “novel” as always. Maybe I should put a word limit and see what I manage to come up with that way. ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a nice weekend!

Someone out there knows us

Thinking of you

Cancer stroke once again in my close proximity. Today I learnt that my dad’s best friend’s brother died on Saturday, he had bile cancer – one of the rarest and most lethal forms of this evil disease. He lost his battle in 10 months marked by 6 extremely difficult operations after the diagnose. My dad’s best friend watched my father’s rapid decline and was shocked by the speed at which his life ended, yet he hoped beyond the end of all hopes that some miraculous cure could save his brother and that even the last terrible operation on Thursday family insisted on would make some difference. I perfectly understand that surreal human need to cling to the last shreds of vanishing hope and no matter how much more I know today about cancer, I’m sure that I myself as well would start all over again that battle against all odds if I encountered this evil firsthand one more time. It’s that bargaining part of dealing with loss process, when you try even the most absurd things under the sun to prevent the bad outcome. Even though you know it’s highly unlikely to succeed and that almost everybody else failed, you still push. You still fight. Others failed because they made all sorts of mistakes you imagine to justify your fight. They failed, but you won’t. It’s so profoundly human. Then if miracles don’t happen and things don’t go well, you get into schock. And the dealing with loss starts all over again right from the beginning, from the very start of the denial part.

That’s how my dad’s friend feel now. Fast backward to ten months ago when he first told us about his brother’s issues, he was full of confidence that his brother would be cured. Relatives from everywhere gathered to send all sorts of known and unknown alternative care products and for each new one they included in his therapy dad’s friend would say that if my dad tried it, he would be still alive. It’s so weird when you find youself in the dark tunnel of dealing with an illness without some universally known and definite cure – you want some product to work but you’re still very sceptical, you feel horrible because your family member couldn’t try such product, and in my case you eat yourself alive because you know that your M.D. father would deny trying anything outside allopathic protocol even if you had means to provide it. You go through a turmoil of mixed feelings asking yourself what if this man succeeds while we didn’t manage, does that make me a bad person because I didn’t save my dad? And there comes jealousy, too. That’s such a shameful feeling, to be jealous because someone else out there is alive and you fight every second against it, but it resurfaces again when you least expect it. You know that we’ll all exit this life at one point or another in this or that way, yet you still “fear” that someone else will outsmart the laws of life and stay here forever while you were not smart enough to find the eternal life formula. Totally crazy and quite foolish when you think about it, yet once again extremely human.

I went though all these and many more phases in these past months as I frequently heard news of the state of health of the brother of my dad’s friend. I never met this man, I never even visited the town in Bosnia where he lived, I didn’t even see a single photo so that could at least imagine how he looked like. Nevertheless, over and over again during hundreds of days behind us I asked how he was. I knew where he was, what he did, what was his diet, what were the things he liked, how strong he was and how big hopes he had. I knew so much, although very probably he didn’t even know that I existed and that I followed his battle with so many mixed emotions, praying so much for his life but also for his peace when he was exposed to the last painful procedures. This realization suddenly dawned on me, how probably for each one of us there is at least somebody out there who by chance or through someone else knows about our lives and feelings and how that knowledge often enfolds and stays behind the scene, leaving us completely oblivious of its existence. Just because we don’t know it, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there who hope and pray with us, cheer for us and share our rollercoaster drive in unpredictable circumstances. Depending on circumstances and people involved, this can be a hidden burden or a hidden blessing as some sort of human energy obviously always travels our way. Whatever it is, it’s anyhow one of surprises the miracle of life consists of. I wish you all that only good people have you in their minds and hearts as your and their paths cross for a short time of this planet, may only good energy fly your way. And may the brother of my dad’s friend find his much needed peace till we meet some day. Rest in peace dear man, you were so strong and brave in you battle for life. I know that you were much loved and that you’ll be so much missed. Someone some day will find the cure, I’ll pray for this till the end of my days.