19 October 2014

Make believe

You would have been 38 years old today, Tig sheli. A decade without you, almost, and it still doesn't feel real or possible. 

There are a few songs that remind me of you, even if the lyrics don't always completely match. Because often, they match enough.

And every time I see, you in my dreams
I see your face, it's haunting me
I guess I need you baby

I make believe
That you are here
It's the only way

03 December 2012

H2O Revisited

I just went out into the garden and thought my vision was blurry. After I'd blinked a few times I realised it wasn't my eyes, it was snowing. Snow! Snow fell on my Portie head for the first time in my life! I've been around snow three times before but never while it was actually falling. A snowball fight is in my near future, oh the excitement!

J.I.P., less than impressed (ran inside)
Hum-Hum, also not chuffed.
Papoila, battered dog (snow and a camera, it's a bad day)
Snow-covered birdfeeder! 'Tis not a dream!

30 November 2012

And a bang on the ear

I have just been to the dentist here in Holland. I have two teeth whose fillings need to be replaced - and these are living teeth still, mind. He asked me whether I would require anaesthesia. I just looked at the man like he was mad, I mean, doesn't everyone? No, as it turns out, 25% of the Dutch are determined to one day be able to withstand torture without losing face. I had much rather have a horrible migraine than a small toothache so I am still horrified. I made sure he knew I wanted to feel nothing, less than nothing even if at all possible.

I now live in Holland, you lot, God help me, where the water is wide, the birds are plenty and the amount of foreigners causes the Dutch, who might just be a tad racist, to not want to live here ever. [My car has a "P" on it, from Portugal, obviously, but the Dutch think I'm Polish. Experience quickly taught me it is not a good thing to be a Pole in Holland even if the Dutch themselves don't care to pick the bloody strawberries, the Poles are still stealing their jobs.] I rented a gorgeous, ridiculously big house with an even more ridiculous garden, with which tripod cat, who's never been an outside cat in her life, is completely obsessed. As I type she is parked in front of the garden door, chirping mightily, because she wants out, she must go out, she needs out NOW! I bought 5-m leashes so I can let them roam but J.I.P. becomes afraid and then cries for me to come rescue her, and Tripod becomes entangled in the vases and bushes and then cries for me to come rescue her. I then go inside and repeat the scene ad lib throughout the day. It's super fun.

The thing I find really hard about Holland is how cold it's becoming. There was ice on my windscreen this morning - and did you know that, when it's 0ยบ outside and you just use water it will freeze back in about 5 seconds? Reminded me of the time in Lisbon a few years ago when we had abnormally low temperatures and I came down to a frozen windscreen too. I had to run back up, go on IRC and ask those sturdy, Northern foreigners what to do. They thought I was pulling their leg till I mentioned Portugal. [A Norwegian bloke once thought the same when I became all excited that they built snow forts - ! - and then, listen to this, stuck torches on every corner! I was fascinated, how exotic is that? To Norwegians, not at all.] You can't just pour water on the ice, the collective wisdom of IRC said, it'll just freeze again (I'd forgotten that bit, obviously), valiantly take a CD case or credit card to the windscreen. Then I thought they were pulling my leg but it works. It's time to buy one of those ice scraping thingies, is what I quickly concluded. 

The Dutch, despite being surrounded by loads of water, somehow manage to lead happy, fulfilled lives without fresh fish. All I find in the supermarkets is frozen codfish (and every Portuguese is hardwired to think that any codfish that is not our beloved salted codfish is not even worthy of being called that), frozen tilapia, frozen salmon and frozen something else that is so not particularly ode-inspiring that I have forgotten what sort of fish it is. I keep telling people that surely there must be at least one shop that sells fresh fish and they all say 'Oh yes there is, somewhere downtown,' but its location has so far eluded me. You can't also find any turkey, ostrich, lamb, goat, octopus, squid or cuttlefish in the shops but have a look at our fine horse delicacies! They do have kibbeling, for which a multitude of sins may be forgotten, and the most gorgeous wakame salad.

Kibbeling (still can't centre my pictures, it is driving me batty)

So this is where I am, going to a colleague's clinic to learn how vets work and how things are called here; and to Dutch classes, where our teacher is less than impressed if we profess anything short of absolute love for Holland and regales us with the paranormal events in her life. But it's alright, since she got a cat she no longer wakes up with scratches on her shoulders.

04 August 2012

Hatchalah, v.2

I just spoke with Iris, Uzi's mum. When I told Lila I was planning to ring her she replied 'How ambitious!' Indeed. Terrifying doesn't quite describe it. We hadn't spoken in years, her pain was too much, there was nothing but death on the line, crippling, horrifying in its intensity. I couldn't comfort her, of course, who the bloody hell could, I felt completely inadequate and raw and so I avoided it very successfully.

She laughed, she actually laughed a few times. It shocked me so much, it was so unexpected, Iris laughing again, good God! We cried too, of course. He is, after all, still gone but it was a different sort of sadness, there was no overwhelming grief vortex, just love and appropriate sadness and, on my part, hope and gratitude.

Do you remember the butterfly? A few weeks ago I was sitting in the garden in Holland, reading and thinking about Uzi. I was thinking how much I wanted to tell him about my life and how maybe, after almost a decade, he wasn't around anymore. I was looking at the sky, knees drawn up, when I felt a thump on my knee. When I looked down there was a butterfly on my knee. I actually stopped breathing for a few seconds. A butterfly had just seen fit to land on a human and perch there, delicately. It stayed for the longest time, long enough for me to properly look at its tiny face, who ever has a chance to really look at a butterfly up close? I memorised the markings and looked them up later, it was a Red Admiral. I had to wipe my tears for a moment, I couldn't see anymore, and when I could see again it was gone. It only took an instant and it's a fair-sized garden but it was nowhere to be seen, just gone, just like the other one. Love, appropriate sadness, hope and gratitude, like I said. My very own Red Admiral. I needed it desperately.

Iris didn't ask why he doesn't send her butterflies too this time. That was a horrible moment for me, I thought she'd be comforted and instead she felt left out and neglected by her dead son, oh well done, me, add to her grief, an excellent choice, let's ring again soon! *thunk* This time she saw it as a sign that he is at peace and keeping an eye on us, surely the unhappily dead don't send anyone butterflies. And this time I was  able to ask her about Uzi's books. 

When I came into his life he liked to read but owned almost no books. [He could also just sit quietly in his room, no music, no telly, just apparently looking at nothing for hours, I never understood that one either.] This sad state of affairs was corrected almost immediately and when I left Israel I left him a lot of them. I've anguished about them since he died, at least on a weekly basis. Over one in particular, 'For Love of Mother-Not'. I love this book and wanted him to have it for his birthday. The fact that there is a Pip in it only made it that much more fitting. I had to scour the internets to find it but find it I did. Then I had to painstakingly cut out Flinx's face because he looked like demon spawn, kudos to the artist. Uzi did love it and the book lived happily in the bookcase with a little round hole in the cover.

I want it, I need it to be with me, but I couln't bring myself to ask about the books because grief is different for everyone and Iris might have surprised us all by giving them away to his friends [which would have surprised her very much too, kibbutzniks don't generally fancy reading English books all that much] or a library, or what have you. Well, eight years later I found out that some are in the kibbutz library and most are stored away. They live still.

My Tig's older brother E. has two children now, a boy and a girl. (I'm told this time I really will be sent pictures.) His older sister H. is very happily pregnant. His younger brother Z., whom Uzi used to worry about so much, is doing really well and has even gone back to uni for another degree. Lila's son C. is absolutely gorgeous, if a sleepless little shit. And I, I have decided that I am going to go home to Israel for a visit next year. The books live still, and so do we. It is time. 

02 August 2012


I'm dipping my feet in the blogging waters, training wheels and all. It can't be that I've forgotten how to write, words are like breathing, yes? I used to have fun here, I used to not even be able to imagine life without this, my words, all of yours, but then life happened, death happened, and you know how Tom Robbins writes 'This decent into the deepest dark of fuck'? He meant it sexually but if you make it metaphorical that's what this blog became, just another vast place where Uzi wasn't. [Unlikely as it may sound just now this is really not one of those posts.]

I spent most of yesterday watching Tsunami clips. The white mice being funny that way, I suppose I should clarify I mean the 2004 one, my tsunami, as it were, not Japan's. There is a reason behind it, one I can't share yet but will very soon, and it is actually a good one for the most part, maybe even a healthy one in a thoroughly convoluted way. [Part of it, of course, is that I still have hope of catching a glimpse of him somehow, somewhere. Considering how it ends, that would be the unhealthy part. The healthy bit of the unhealthy part is that I have made my peace with the fact that this is how it will be always, ebb and flow, mostly clear with obsessive morbid showers.]

I have stories to tell, I never stopped having stories to tell, the difference is that now, when I say I want to tell them, it's not mostly the intellectual exercise of recognising a void where something used to flourish. Now I really feel them in my gut, these stories, these silky headbuts on the inside of me.

We could describe this unplanned hiatus as my having been literarily dyspnoeic - but I am pink-inflating as we speak. And fuck me if the random double space paragraph formatting thingy that won't go away isn't welcoming me back.

15 June 2011


Want a new look, want to fuse my blogs and have it all look airy and tidy, not quite sure how to start and not with an abundance of cash flow either but it'll come to be. It's not that I don't have things to tell, I do, I just don't like the feel of this place anymore so words don't come easy. I need a cleaner look, then I'll blabber on. 

11 March 2011


-sound of heart breaking here*

14 February 2011

Ode to a boy


Six years ago Lila rang me to tell me your body had been found, you were coming home. (Lila just had a baby boy. Did you send him butterflies too?) Am trying to think about how big your life still is for me, not how short it was for you. So, surprise, here's your beloved Jethro Tull! I still can't be bothered about their music, I sifted through a lot of rubbish until I found a music I could cope with. I can more cope with this one - in fact, I think it's gorgeous. You'd like that so much... I like to think of you tending pulsar wind nebulae somewhere (someone has to) so that's what I'll do. "I'll still be loving you tonight" as well, Tig, no matter when tonight comes.


'Pip, why can't you sleep?', he used to ask her. He always could, all he had to do was close his eyes. When the entire world lay dormant and only the occasional cow could be heard she derived comfort from watching him, dead to the world, an archangel of slumber.

(Funny thing, he's very dead to the world now still, it's just not very comforting.)

Sometimes she just can't sleep, as though a switch is missing from her biology. And sometimes she fears the desolate nightmares with gorillas and Laika and starving polar bears she senses lurking, again. So she stays awake for as long as she can, keeping herself busy with music and writing, and she pretends.

She pretends she's not broken, she pretends he is whole, she pretends she is not standing alone by the edge of the cliff. She knows she is but she's pretended everything is normal all day, who the fuck cares, a few more hours aren't going to hurt.

He was her great protector and now he's gone, she's numb anyway. Also pissed off, and past-lonely and scared. Sometimes she almost hates him, but she knows she never does. And tomorrow can't come soon enough.

01 January 2011


Hadn't even noticed the date, thank God for Udge! [And in more ways than one, actually.] It's a fabulous, irresistible date, and my wish for us and ours is that this is a year filled with health, love, splendidly interesting things and quality of life all around.

May you enjoy!

02 December 2010

Do you?

You know when you create a Fashion folder for clothes, shoes and accessories you really like? And how you sometimes browse your fave sites looking for more pics to add to the folder? And how you save them all to the desktop before organising them in said folder?

Now, you know those internet gaming forums with avatars? And how you dislike it when people can't be bothered to upload a pic? And how you decided to upload those super fab boots since you were going to post a message? And how you couldn't find the boots in the folder but managed to track them down in a hurry through a rather convoluted search again amidst a sea of images that didn't have a lot to do with shoes actually, and gleefully, even self-righteously, right-clicked to save the image? And how you uploaded it to be your avatar? And how you pressed F5 with a feeling of 'Ahhhhh'?

Well, you know when you break out in a cold sweat and pray to every existing deity your nowadays rather faulty connection will hold for a tad longer while you hysterically dive into your profile to delete said avatar because somehow, SOMEHOW, you saved and uploaded the wrong image? The beyond words exceedingly wrong image? This very image?

Do you?

10 November 2010

In which she talks about drugs and it all leads to violence - Part II

I've been ordered, in no uncertain terms, to get off my arse and resume blogging. Meet arse, getting off it now. 
Remember Adam, Adam who smoked heroin but wasn't a true addict because he didn't inhale didn't inject, had never stolen anything and still took regular showers, whom I drove  to the rehab centre and had the great pleasure of watching peacefully sleep the drugs away in a diaper, whose unleashed hell lasted far longer than our relationship because HOW THE FUCK HAD THAT HAPPENED TO ME, and HOW COULD HE?

Bitch detour. The Bitch gained her nickname when I found out something so sordid and astonishing I'm still trying to understand why someone would ever choose to be portrayed like that. When Adam and I first became a couple she acted like she was overjoyed but kept bringing up his ex, their old songs, bringing out pictures of all of them together, it was very perplexing. Yes, being an idiot, I found it merely perplexing and didn't realise till later that she'd been jealous. It all sort of came together when Adam confessed it'd taken him 2 days to kiss me because he was afraid since, you know, I was very promiscuous. Or so it'd seemed.

Flashback to about a year earlier, my home, 3 girls and 2 boys playing Trivial Pursuit. We wanted to have a full War of the Sexes thingy but lacked a male so Bitch rang Adam, who was unavailable. This was what happened on our end - or so I thought. Adam's version: So the Bitch rang me and said... Well, she said you were all at your place and you were going to have a, ahhh, well, a bit of an orgy but you lacked a man so she was wondering whether I was available, and so you see why it took me a while to be able to kiss you, I had this whole idea of you as someone who organises orgies when the parents are gone, for fuck's sake, and then I met you and it didn't seem like you at all and I needed a bit of time to sort out which one was the real you because You, I want, Orgy You not so much.

God. Honestly, words fail me. I rang my other girlfriend who'd been there that night and told her about it in utter disbelief and she said There must be some mistake, maybe he misunderstood. Right, the man was afraid to touch me because he thought I was a highly advanced whore, surely he'd misheard the request. Gosh, orgy, board games, I can see how he might have confused the two, they're almost interchangeable. Unsurprisingly, I cut off my ties with her. Surprisingly, she was very hurt, how could I. Indeed, who wouldn't want to establish a rep as some sort of vaginal garage where everyone is welcome to park his junk?

A few months after the breakup Adam and I met for dinner. It was stilted at best, I was raging mad still, he took it all. I do rage well and I had no inhibitions, and he just took it all. He kept taking it all, in fact. Throughout the years he'd invite me to his place for dinner and I'd go, we'd end up talking about us, I'd invariably lash out at him and he'd accept it all. I think we met at his place by unspoken agreement. I've never done drugs, never had any interest in them, but I wouldn't have minded if someone smoked a joint in my flat before that, who cares. I certainly didn't. But things have changed, I could never cope with it now and Adam, bless him, who's been heroin-free for over 10 years, still smokes joints like there's no tomorrow. What he does in his home is his business; not ever will I suffer watching someone do drugs in my territory. Besides, the man is mellow. Meeeeeeellooow. No surprise, considering how much he smokes, more of a surprise that he can actually stand upright really. Anyway, late dinner invitation, good food (he can cook), mellow mood, mellow music, mellow enough conversation till it all briefly went to bloody hell, then back to mellow, this was our pattern for years.

I do give him credit. He never stopped using the nickname he had for me despite my protests, he never stopped trying to be in my life, even if it was just once  a year or so, and he never once yelled out "Enough already!!" Because he never did, we were able to remain in contact and establish a relationship in the wake of all that trauma. If he'd ever tried to justify or minimise it I'd have been gone in a second, for good, the same way I will if he ever relapses. Selfish it may be but he knows I cannot go through that again, not even as a friend. Still, I cannot imagine how hard it must be to be under attack for years without feeling the need to retaliate yourself. Man is mellow, true, and always stoned, which is bound to help, but it requires some sort of self-control I would certainlly not have were our roles reversed. I think the guilt alone would kill me, he doesn't seem to suffer from it though. I think he just accepted this is what he did, this is how things are, can't be changed so accept it. At any rate, our mostly-annual dinners became a steady fixture, as did our (mine) talking about things at some point. 

I have barely any recollection of our time together, I mostly remember a few cut-scenes and the general feeling of hopelessness and despair, but not really much in the way of details. When we met in the beginning of this year he somehow mentioned the timeline. In my mind, this had all happened over a few weeks. As it turns out, it went on for over 4 months. When I realised that all it was as though all my former rage and hissy fits coalesced and I was madder than I'd ever been at him. I was so protective of that girl who suddenly found herself trapped in a nightmare, who suffered so much for no good reason, four whole months, forget me, how could he have done this to her?

So I hit him. 

We were sitting on the sofa, shoeless, and I turned my body around and kicked him high on the shoulder, sending him clean across the sofa [white leather = good slide] and then dove for him, all the while screaming You bloody bastard, four months, four fucking months, how could you! Adam is skinny but wiry, a capoeira dancer, but he never really stood a chance because a) I was off my rocker and b) he would never hit me back, so he kept trying to immobilise me and I, being insanely, weirdly flexible, kept slithering out of his grasp and landing further blows, highly satisfying blows in a primeval way that I can't even begin to describe to you. I understood then why men and Jersey Shore women fight, physically fight, for every time I hit him, every time whatever bit of my incensed anatomy connected with a piece of his body, every time he grunted, I felt something inside me uncoil, unclench, release.

At some point he grabbed my wrists strongly enough that I couldn't slip away - bruises the next day but you should see the other guy - and lay on me, effectively trapping me with his weight but not before I managed to sneak a leg over his shoulder so I could keep squeezing the living daylights out of the fucker. I wish I had a photopgraph, I don't recall ever having been this limber, I actually had one leg down and the other one's knee was by my head while I kept his head in a vise with the angle. He could have got away but he'd have had to hurt me and he was trying to avoid that - not that I cared, I felt no pain at all. He kept asking if he was hurting me, I kept glaring at him - the bit of him I could see above my leg of steel anyway - and trying to dislodge him, at one point I almost managed to but then he applied more force and that was it, we were trapped like some sort of mutant multi-limbed entity. 

I can feel sorry for him now, can you imagine? After all these years of civility I go beserker on him, kicking and punching and yelling and clawing and bucking under him like some bloodthirsty lioness. [HA!] I remember his hair flopping about and his look of utter disbelief. Like I said, very satisfying. 

Eventually I calmed down enough that we negotiated a truce and he warily let me go. What the hell was that, he asked. I don't know but you deserved it and it all feels better now, I said. And how did you do that thing with the leg, he asked, I was terrified, I kept waiting for it to crack, how the hell did I not know you were this flexible, I don't remember any of those moves in bed, he said. Oh yes he did. You were a heroin addict, there was no bed, I replied. Ahh, to both win the fight AND have the last word! Bliss.

It's all felt better since. It did release something that had been lurking and poisoning me for over a decade, that underlying pissiness was gone, just gone - deliverance, I suppose. For all I know it might have been the first and last time I kicked arse but God, did I kick it! It was a good day. 

08 June 2010

Sod off

To the stalker in Canada:

I've made it abundantly clear you're not welcome and yet you still come here and even leave anonymous comments. And now you've searched my blog for 'fellatio'? Seriously? 

Go away, stay away. It really is that simple.

30 March 2010

Buggering Manual for the Newly-Qualified Vet

Remember my possibly good news from a while ago? Before I tell you let me say I am now working at a clinic on the weekends, replacing a colleague (I am all alone!), and the pay is fair. She loved my work, the clients were pleased [preens and struts, owners can be bloody pissy] and I effectively avoided having my face mauled by my first and rather enormous patient, whose owner assured me he never bit and was very well trained but the combination of owner actually not being able to restrain the dog's head and animals with ear infections not taking kindly to having things inserted in said ears, however gently, allowed me to once again demonstrate my superb, Matrix-y reflexes.

I had a job offer that soon turned into a sociological experiment  commentary on 'How Vets Live In Portugal', told from the perspective of the very bottom of the evolutionary ladder, where we tend to unwillingly establish our ecosystems. The job offer read thus:
  • I'd be alone for the most part, i.e., responsible for the clinic
  • The clinic was outside Lisbon (a 100-km commute, which is a lot by our standards)
  • No contract, I'd be paid with green slips*
  • 800 E/month
(* A veneered Portie institution, no idea what they're called in English. We have this little green booklet with receipts that we fill in in exchange for payment when we're working as independent professionals, i.e., no one can be bothered to give us a contract, no social benefits included. It was supposed to be for freelancers, it's become the bane of an entire nation.)

My friend Bee and I sat down to calculate petrol and fiscal expenses:
  • 20% for the IRS: 160 E
  • Social Security: 206 E (bare minimum, no medical leave allowed; were I to want the right to be ill, I'd have to pay more and it still wouldn't include pay)
  • You're exempt from VAT if you earn less than 10.000 a year, though - and what a cheery thought, 'I'm exempt because I earn less than 10.000 E a year!'
  • Petrol and toll fees: 265 E (petrol prices have since gone up, incidentally)
So how much would I be left with to actually live on, after all this?
  • 800-(160+206+265) = 169 E
One hundred and seventy Euros. Bee looked like she was about to cry and kept saying "But I was so happy for you! Are you sure the salary is right? It can't be right, you'll soon be paying to go to work!" Dear, dear Bee...

A while ago I had to meet with a couple who was looking for a rabbi to marry them in Lisbon. The bride was Portie but they'd been living in the UK and US for a long time. We ended up discussing Portugal and she was aghast that I dared to speak against it, what could possibly be wrong with us?

Time and a desire to remain mentally stable prevent an in-depth analysis but let's have a look at a case study: a vet degree is hard [and I will stay away from the actual curriculum this time, remember that exam where we had to sketch and describe a Refrigerating Unit?]. There are a blissful few of prodigious memories who placidly sail through while mostly socialising over beer and fussball at the uni bar but these are not the majority. The majority of us work hard and incessantly just to stay afloat and now the Bologna Convention stipulates we shall work even harder and has added a full Masters' degree to it - unlike human medicine, they end up with the Masters without having to write a thesis, may the pestilence strike them all. And unlike human medicine, our internships are not paid, perish the thought. Then, after we've finally passed all our subjects, done the internship, written an internship report (with many a splendid pie/graph), written the thesis, printed and bound the thesis AS PER REQUIREMENT (allocate a full month for this in catastrophic scenarios), defended said thesis before a jury which will not always understand your subject matter and will, therefore, divert and insist that, e.g., the font used in table 10 does not look quite right and so forth for 21 minutes, or that latero-lateral radiographs are misnomed since *insert academically incomprehensible reason here* and should therefore be called *insert academically incomprehensible term here* and why don't you single-handedly correct the scientific community's misguided ways?, joined the Order of the Angel Wing Phoenix [Vet joke.] [The angel wing bit, I mean.] [Funny vet joke. Seriously.] and then, after over half a decade of this, you are offered the splendid salary of 800 E a month, no contract, for the privilege of working from 10.00 to 20.00, but if the waiting room is full by closing time it can't be helped, you must see every patient so who knows when you'll actually be home and who needs free time anyway, and overtime being paid is a theoretical construct that has no bearing on a vet's life, I might add, not to mention that you'll work at least a weekend a month, possibly two, and regularly be on call during the night.

My situation is by no means an exception, my friend has been working at the same clinic for 4 years, her pay? 1200 glorious Euros, green slips. Another colleague has been looking for a different employer, her latest job interview went like this:

Employer - And you've bee working for how long?
Colleague - Over two years now.
Employer - Do you have any surgical experience?
Colleague - Yes, I regularly do spayings and castrations, cysts removals etc.
Employer - What about more complicated surgeries?
Colleague - I have started doing some of those as well and I'm doing a surgical specialisation [paid by self, mind] at *insert Uni name*.
Employer - *Beaming* How marvellous! I have great news then, we're VERY interested, your working hours would be 10 to 10 and we'd be delighted to pay you 800 E, green slips, can you start this week?

This exchange was not exaggerated, by the way. I have absolutely no polite way to put this so cover your sensibilities: if someone - say, a whole country - is clearly shoving it up your arse shouldn't you at least be paid more for your troubles?

As a result, I've embarked on a simultaneous business venture in order to ensure my retirement but for now let me reiterate: Fuckortugal indeed.