Saturday, December 28, 2013

The best gifts are not wrapped

I had a good christmas. I tried to wish for charity gifts this year too, but my family refused it. Instead I asked for stuff-I-use-every-day, school books and other such trivalities that I spend money on regularly. I got a lot of that but I also got an e-reader.

I've always judged an e-reader to be quite useless for me. I love paper books and always will, and for other things I use my laptop. Yet I'm quite enjoying this gift and now see its uses (especially for studying). It's small, and weighs little in my bag and is very neat and easy on the eye. But yet, I didn't feel as good this year as I did last. Last year I saw all the donation cards rowed up and I felt peaceful and happy. Utterly so - despite my dislike for holidays.

There are, after all, gifts which trumphs all other costly gadgets. Donations to suffering animals (or people, if that's your preference) are a gift like that. Yet some things even trumphs that.

In mid-december, when people are still buying christmas presents and curse over wrapping them, my dad met with his surgeon. They had already informed us that his chemo-therapy hadn't worked as hoped. The day before the surgery they also tell us that they are less than confident that the surgery will be possible. The cancer might be too stuck to things they cannot remove. After all the oncologist's hopeful remarks, they land this in our laps. It feels out of the blue. Breath-takingly horrid. Mind-numbing.

24 hours of terrible wait. Of not daring to hope. Of tears in the bathroom between classes because I can't speak of it without breaking down so I don't want anyone questioning me of why I cry.

A late evening visit at the hospital. Seeing dad in the hospital bed and hardly daring to ask how it went. Then a smile, and he says they got it out. That the surgeon looked more than pleased.

That relief. It was too big for words. Too big to even feel properly. There's no wrapped-up, bow-clad present that can outweigh that. No money in the world that can compete.

I know it's not over yet. I know it might still lurk, that there might still be half a year of new chemos, that it might return, regrow, have spread. But the future is brighter, more hopeful.

I got my dad for a while longer.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Five ways of receiving affection

There's a theory about people and how we receive (and give) affection. I read it some years back and it struck a chord. The five ways helped me understand people (and myself) better. For example when it comes to writing, I can't really "believe" people's praise unless they act interested; no amount of compliments make me feel as if they think I'm any good. What do you think about this? (see them below) I'm mainly an "Acts of Service" person - how about you?

The five main ways people can give/receive affection are: (copied from here but I saw them a long time ago and just needed to find all the definitions)

Quality Time – where you give each other 'undivided attention’ to talk, listen, eat together or enjoy a shared activity. With a young family you may have to grab small amounts of time together while you can, or you may prefer to schedule uninterrupted time when the kids are asleep.

Words of Affirmation – these are kind, affectionate, appreciative statements that recognize what your loved one means to you. Phrases that respect and encourage each other are also important. As is actively listening to what your partner has to say. You could do this verbally, and/or via email, text, letter, Facebook, or through sharing music, poems or phrases that reflect your feelings.

Acts of Service – this sounds very formal but simply means doing kind things for each other. Like taking on tasks a partner may not want to do or sharing household chores. It also involves showing you care - for example through preparing meals, paying the bills, and doing the laundry. This category is often the easiest one to miss as it is already part of our daily routine. Highlighting it is as a means of showing affection – and having that recognized and appreciated by a partner can make a big difference to you both feeling cared for.

Gifts – this might be an expensive present or something you have made. The idea here is to show someone you were thinking of them, you recognise what they do for you and you’ve paid attention to their likes and chosen something appropriate for them.

Physical Touch – could be shown in the form of hugs and cuddles; sitting close on the sofa or lying together in bed. Other touch people enjoy includes hair brushing, holding hands, massage (a hand, foot or head massage can work if you’re time-poor). This may or may not be sexual. You might find that time for pleasure has disappeared and finding opportunities to kiss, touch and reconnect physically may lead to you feeling more like sexual intimacy, or just enjoy nurturing touch without it leading to sex.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Free short story - A bout of bad luck

A Bout of Bad Luck

Isaac’s elbow was the size of a melon by the time they reached the emergency room. Someone sneezed on him as the guys lead the way. An hour ago, they had all been beating the ground howling with laughter as he squirmed in pain from the stings. Isaac didn’t look forward to an eternity of hearing this particular anecdote repeated over and over.
The nurse asked one single question: if he was allergic. He didn’t realise he should have answered ‘yes’ until two hours later when he was still in the corner, cradling his arm, surrounded by his friends making up new bee jokes. Another half an hour passed before someone took pity on him.
He entered the examination room with relief. The blank surfaces and crisp sheet of paper on the examining table weren’t inviting, but at least the room didn’t contain any of his four friends.
“You can sit down.”
Isaac faced the doctor who had just entered and felt his jaw drop. The young, handsome man raised an eyebrow and touched the name tag on the coat pocket.
“I promise, I am a doctor,” the doctor said. “Want to see my license? I had my photo put on it, because people kept thinking I had Xeroxed it.”
As the doctor reached for a back pocket, Isaac waved him off.
“I believe you.”
The doctor’s face lit up and two dimples appeared on either side of an inviting smile.
“Good. I’m Harry. How about starting with your name then tell me what happened to your arm.”
“Isaac, and bees happened,” Isaac replied.
Harry gestured to the table and Isaac sat down.
“Bees or wasps?”
“I didn’t ask them.”
The doctor chuckled. Isaac’s grin turned into a gasp as Harry touched skin stretched so taut it seemed about to burst.
“No itching somewhere else, difficulty breathing or wooziness?” the doctor asked, and his tone sounded like that of a worrying aunt.
Isaac watched the man’s profile. There was a trace of white around his eyes and a red mark on his nose. A distinct shape in the pocket beside the name tag revealed a pair of glasses. Isaac hoped he saw as good without them, though it would take complete blindness to miss the abnormal size of his arm.
“Alright, I’ll give you something to smear on for the swelling, and that’s really all I can do. Wrap ice in a towel and hold it against the skin: that should help as well.”
He crossed the room and opened a drawer. The chatter from the waiting room wafted through the crack in the door, like elevator music. Harry came back to Isaac with a tube in his hands. His fingers were unbelievably gentle as they stroke the paste over the skin.


Isaac stared at the ceiling, seeing cracks swirl and sway as a headache pounded in his temples. A cold compress was melting against his neck, and a saline drip dangled in the periphery of his vision. The click of a door pulled his gaze to the left, and he recognised the young doctor. Harry had an inquisitive look in his face as he approached the bed.
“At least your elbow looks fine,” the doctor said with suppressed laughter in his voice.
Isaac licked his lips and tried to convince his inner voice that his mouth was only dry because of the dehydration.
“Isaac, wasn’t it?”
“Yes,” he replied in a croak, and coughed.
His doctor put his chart down on the table and poured a glass of water.  Isaac pushed himself up, almost pulling out the drip as he did so.
“Easy,” Harry said, and the bed creaked as he sat down, close enough to press against Isaac’s legs.
He offered the straw and Isaac accepted it. The glasses were off again, and the eyes were speckled with green like the eggs of a brown thrasher. The iced water did little to sooth the sandpaper feeling in his throat.
“First you get into close combat with bees, and now you’ve challenged the sun,” Harry mused. “Are you waging a war against nature?”
“Rather a matter of repetitively making an ass out of myself,” he muttered and looked at the colourful straw between the doctor’s slender fingers.
“Trying to impress someone, are we?”
The doctor’s jaws tensed as he busied himself with returning the glass to the imitation wood top.
“Not really. Well…” Isaac shrugged and made a face. “I was trying to help the girls next door with that hive, but I wasn’t hitting on them, you know?”
He looked pleadingly at the doctor, but Harry only arched an eyebrow and didn’t seem to believe his earnest explanation.
“And today,” he continued, frustration and a tint of shame lacing his words, “we were playing beach volley and I didn’t think it was that hot.”
“You and the girls?”
“No! Not at all. Me and my friends. All five of use are here, just for vacation after college and all. While we’re all single and free, you know?”
A nerve quivered in the edge of Harry’s mouth. Isaac released a tense breath while glaring at the man for winding him up.
“Sounds fun,” Harry said then rose at a glance on his wrist watch. “Lie back and rest. I’ll take a look at you later.”


“You’re not stalking me, are you?” Harry asked as he entered the examination room.
Not even the air conditioning could keep Isaac’s cheeks from flaming with embarrassment. The doctor’s dimples only deepened at the sight. Isaac sat on the bench clad only in a half dried t-shirt and bathing shorts. Dark red welts covered his right calf.
“Yes,” Isaac said.
He tried to ignore the itching and burning sensation that still threatened to fill his eyes with tears. This time only Sanjay had accompanied him to the hospital, but the others had supportively snorted with laughter as he limped up from the ocean.
Harry knelt down and examined the wounds, while Isaac felt more naked than he had when waiting in the emergency room. He knew one of the nurses’ name already. She hadn’t remembered him, luckily.
“Who were you trying to impress this time?” the doctor asked and his brown-green eyes darted Isaac’s way. “First it was the girls, then your friends…”
If it had been any of his friends who said it, the comment would have been meant to ridicule him. Harry made Isaac feel less uncomfortable, yet more awkward. Once more he found his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth as he watched Harry. This time the door was fully closed and there was no sound except their breathing and the rustling of their clothes.
“I must say, you’re making my first summer practicing medicine more interesting than I expected it to be,” Harry said and broke the silence of the room.
“I’m sorry,” Isaac murmured.
“Oh, don’t be. Really.”
The doctor’s hands paused and there was a distinct pressure on the last words. Isaac had to look away from the freckled face and stare at his own skinny and hairy legs for a while.
“Nature really does have something against me,” he said finally.
Harry laughed and Isaac felt better.
“Indeed,” the doctor said.
“I’ll be more careful.”
“As long as you don’t show up with a broken neck, I’m happy.”


Isaac couldn’t decide if he was embarrassed or pleased that Harry stepped through the door. He grimaced.
“It’s not the neck,” he promised. “Just the foot.”
Harry shook his head as he touched the ankle.
“Four times in three weeks,” he pointed out.
“I guess you won’t believe me if I say I don’t usually get into this much trouble?”
“No, I won’t, but I’ll give you the benefit of a doubt.”
Isaac couldn’t blame him for doubting his word. 
The smell of smoke and a mix of perfumes floated around Isaac, imbued in his silk shirt and jeans. The bar had been packed, probably more so than was legal, but it had had a great atmosphere.
“Alright, nothing is broken. I’ll wrap it up and give you some painkillers to take the edge off. I’ll see if I can find some crutches as well, but it’s late so don’t get your hopes up. Otherwise, you need to come back tomorrow and pick them up.”
“Okay. It doesn’t hurt that bad.”
An arched eyebrow and a set of dimples, and Isaac felt his insides plunge and his cheeks heat. It wasn’t because he felt silly either.
“How much have you had to drink?” Harry asked.
“Not that much. I didn’t have the time really,” he said and gestured at the foot.
“Tried to.”
He got another laugh from the doctor as the man stretched his back.
“You’ll need to ask your friends to help you hop out of here, I suspect,” he said as he moved to get bandages.
“I lost them actually. Took a cab here.”
Harry stopped midstride, and Isaac saw him chewing his lip.
“So how will you get back to the bungalow?”
“A cab,” Isaac said with a shrug.
“I’ll be off in half an hour. Want a ride?”
Isaac expected himself to react with the usual sense of dread, loss of speech and blushing.
He didn’t even stutter. Their eyes were locked, and despite nothing having been said about anything, there was reckless abandon in the air.
“You know,” Harry said thoughtfully. “If you want to stay the night, it’ll be even easier to fix the crutches tomorrow.”
His eyes glinted with a certain measure of deviousness. Isaac put a lid on the shivers travelling through his chest.
“That sounds…,” he licked his lips as words failed him.
The darkness outside pressed its neon fingers against the windows but no one watched or heard his fumbling. Thankfully.
“Fabulous?” Harry suggested. “Awesome? No way José? I know what you’re thinking. Good God, my doctor is hitting on me. Time to flee. I should report his ass.”
The word burst out more violent than he intended, but the intensity matched his own feelings. Harry’s shoulders sank visibly, and Isaac realised the doctor might just have been as nervous as he was.
“I want to come,” Isaac said.
The humorous note made Isaac realise what he had just said.
“I didn’t…,” he began but then figured it was silly to protest. “Yes, really. I do.”
“That's settled then,” Harry said softly and returned with the bandages.
He smelled of hospitals and warm skin, and Isaac had all the essence of summer nights. They were very close, almost touching. Isaac smiled.
“I never thought a bout of bad luck could be so lucky,” he said.
Harry chuckled, and despite the pain stabbing through his leg, Isaac couldn’t resist leaning forwards to kiss the dimples with lips as soft as the man’s hands.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Bad news

Some weeks ago my dad was diagnosed with cancer. It's been some rough times since - it looks hopeful so far but they've only performed the preparing operation. Chemotherapy is to come, then operation to remove the tumour. I've taken it very hard, and have been doing as much as I can to help him while my sisters have mostly been tending their own worries. I spend a lot of time being angry and frustrated. I also been trying to find an extra job for this autumn, plus I still have the horse to tend to and school starts in a week. So I'll be busy with a lot of things and might not be around much and likely won't be in my best mood. I hope everyone who knows me have patience. Better times will be coming, I hope.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Some things are better left unsaid

I have a summer job at the criminal justice service and today at lunch I came back in with a plastic bag containing a towel soaked in blood. I figured I shouldn't mention it to them. Somehow I didn't think "don't worry, it's not my blood" would make it sound any better.

Also, having such an item in your office, where you're surrounded by legal people, makes a person quite paranoid.

For the worried people: it's alright. Our horse was injured and had to get a few stitches, but it seems like she's fine apart from shallow cuts and a few bruises. It did bleed alot because one cut was right over a vein, and I'm damn glad it was my sister the nurse who was in the stable when it happened, and not useless, administrative worker me.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sometimes we all need help

I've let this blog be silent for long periods of time. Back when I started it I made a vow not to whine on it, and I've kept that promise most of the time. But that's also the reason that sometimes I've not written anything. Some of you might know that for several years I've not been doing too well physically and mentally.

About a month ago I had a long discussion with my mother which lead to me booking a doctor's appointment (not the first, I can tell you). They've tried to treat me for my pain and aches for a long time and gotten nowhere. This time we simply discussed the fact that my mother has noted a certain periodicity to my worst moods. I've noticed it myself but not really thought it that marked, but if she notices it, it has to be.

We decided to medicate me for something that's a badder relative of PMS (hormonal/mood disruptions before a girl's period). I've done one "round" of this and I've already started editing again on an old sci-fi novel I never got to work before. It's been so long since I last wrote something without immediately feeling the writing sucks, I can't even remember when that was. For two weeks I've not been insanely clingy, easily offended, or panic-prone. It's like magic. I'm still in pain, but at least I'm calm.

Of course, I've not even done a full cycle yet so it's not certain but it's promising. One part of me is afraid to hope it'll work, one part is angry that I've not tried this before and one part is crying in relief because maybe, maybe I might be returning to normalcy. Maybe I'll be able to keep friends around me again.

So thank you to everyone who stuck around (and please keep your fingers crossed!)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Blame it on the mother

My grandpa died a long, long time ago. No, this isn't going to be a sad story, but if you have a very righteous sense of humour, you should not keep reading.

So, my grandpa died and was buried in a town far from here. My grandma died (at the honourable age of 97) recently and was buried in her family graveyard. After some debates and letters sent back and forth, my mother was allowed to dig up my grandpa's ashes and move them over to grandma's family grave. The problem was that since he died a long, long time ago, she had to pick them up herself or pay an insane amount of money.

Today, my grandpa got to make a roadtrip across the country for the first time in a long while. My mother and I have had great fun discussing this fact on the phone.

We agreed that he had to be disappointed that he wasn't allowed to ride shotgun but had to sit in the back, and I pointed out that they had to buckle him in. And my mom's husband did a bad first impression by pronouncing grandpa's name wrong. We're not sure if he'd enjoy the modern music played on the radio, but we think he enjoyed passing the different towns for the first time in a while.

So if you wonder why I've got a slightly twisted and unintelligible humour, there's a good explanation for that. 

It's my mother's fault.