September 2007 Archives
There is a lot of coughing going on in my world right now. Coughing and spluttering of the whooping kind. And too much work - a phenomenon which is accelerating rapidly, and which will culminate in that annual "go away for a week for work and get no sleep adventure". I'm not sick, just coughing. A lot. And I'm a bit tired. But as much as I want to just curl up in my bed for the next few weeks and let everything pass as if it didn't exist, my conscience wins out and I'm hoping that the antibiotics will eventually do what they're supposed to do without us all having to resort to the harder stuff. There are lots of things that need to be done! And I want to do them, without coughing my way through it all, if possible!
All of which means that I'm feeling rather miserable at the moment. Although the situation was VASTLY improved when Sylvain got home from his trip to Korea last night and showered me with presents (teacups, tablerunner, jade earrings, bracelet, necklace...). Ahem.
Perhaps the thing I need to take from this experience is simply that I need to be given presents more often?
Oh, and it's been awhile - go and listen to the podcast. We have so much fun that it's ridiculous.
When Sylvain is away, I curl up on the couch and eat ice cream.
Then I run around frantically for half an hour trying to clean up my spills and trying not to hear his voice echoing in my head, "so we're in agreement, love? There is to be no eating on the couch!"
Damn him for knowing me so well.
Biggest project of the year - done! In record time. I'm dizzy from all this excitement and stress. The dizzyness is not helped by my constant coughing (which died down to almost nothing yesterday then came back in force today, overcoming me most mysteriously every time I got on the phone) nor by the effects of the whooping cough medicine.
I think I definitely deserve a new pair of shoes. And a vodka. And a nice lie down.
Whilst Sylvain is living it up in Korea, I'm stuck here... being jealous of Sylvain's adventures, podcasting and seeing pals, coughing and spluttering from my newly diagnosed (and highly dramatic) whooping cough (I am relishing telling people about it), working way too much overtime for my own good (this really has to stop soon), drinking cough medicine that puts me to sleep (I can see why people get addicted to this stuff, although I have to be careful not to take any before work otherwise I end up falling asleep at my desk), drinking juice (a new juice bar! just near my work! I'm in raptures!), painting my nails, taking care of Symphony (she gets in and out of bed at least 300 times per night), sleeping on his side of the bed, watching Sixteen Candles (this is something Sylvain would put up with only under sufferance. but I'm so excited! finally! after reading all about it in the Babysitters Club when I was a teenager!)... I suppose things are going ok. It certainly could be worse. I could have whooping cough or something crazy like that... oh, hold on...
So far today (in one and a half hours) I have been asked four times on the phone where I come from. This is not unusual, by any means - I've just noticed it really today because a colleague who normally does not spend time in my office was sitting in close proximity to me this morning and he giggled louder each time I responded, "ahh, I'm Australian".
What makes people think it's ok to ask such a question out of the blue? Is their curiosity really that strong?
When I was in Australia I don't think it would have occured to me to ask where a random person that I was talking to on the phone where they were from, except if they made a reference to their home country or something like that.
I'm not upset about it - it's been going on for so long now that it's just par for the course - I'm simply perplexed.
People who have known me for a long time will know that I've struggled all my life with a bad habit...
Biting my nails.
It's a habit that I've always been ashamed of, ever since I can remember. I tried everything - that horrible tasting stuff on a hundred different occasions, acrylics, even just pure psychological warfare against myself. But I couldn't stop. I have spent every conscious day of my life so far clenching my fingers into a fist, or curling my fingertips until a ball under my thumb, trying (uselessly) to hide this bad habit of mine.
I hated myself for doing it. Loathed myself for it. Hid behind the shame. But I just couldn't stop.
2007 has been a difficult year for me. Intellectually, emotionally. I've made a lot of choices that have taken me in a number of different directions. I've been taken up in so many various activities and so much work that I sometimes I can barely breathe. So. Much. Work. As I am presented with challenge after challenge, I tremble, and wonder each time whether I'm actually going to make it to the other side. Yet I do, and I learn from it.
And somehow, in the middle of all the stress and the challenges that I've been drowning in every day, about three months ago, I managed to stop biting my nails.
That was it. One day, after all this time, I just stopped. And didn't do it anymore.
When I used to play netball, we had to stand in a line and hold our hands up, palms facing away from us, so that the umpire could check that she couldn't see our nails over the tips of our fingers (netball was a pretty violent sport at times, especially amongst 13 year old girls). I watched with interest, and a little bit of jealousy, as most of my teammates would get told to trim their nails. The umpire just passed me by, with barely a glance. I definitely didn't have long nails.
Today, I hold my hands out, my fingers outstretched and palms towards me. I check whether I would get told by the umpire to trim my nails (if, in a parallel universe, I still played netball!). With satisfaction, I count which ones I would need to trim.
"Hah!" I tell my, 13 year old self, "we made it."
I look down at my hands as I type, and I don't recognise myself. These are not my hands. I'm not the same person that I was 12 months ago. In so many ways. But I think this is a good thing.
We drove down to Saint-Etienne yesterday to spend the weekend with Sylvain's parents. The trip was uneventful, the time wiled away by paying attention to Symphony. I fell asleep at one point (after a late night and a number beverages consumed the night before), and Symphony miaowed at me until I woke up and paid attention to her again.
We arrived at Sylvain's parents house, emptied the car of our stuff, then jumped back in again to go mushroom hunting. We had gotten maybe halfway there, and were pulling off the highway and onto a small road when we passed a car smashed into the side of the road, and a van stopped just in front of her. The image of a woman, her face covered in blood, reaching her hand out to the door as we passed, is etched in my minds eye. Sylvain screeched to a halt and I threw my mobile phone at my father-in-law, screaming, "I'm getting out, I'm going to help".
I have never been more glad of my first aid training.
And hope I never have to use it again.
She had passed out between us going past and me getting to the car. I pulled the door open and she revived when I started talking to her. People started to flood the scene, but none of them had any sort of first aid training, and all of them just did what they could do - pulled out their phones, called the emergency services and kept the traffic moving.
I did everything I had to do - made sure she could breathe, had no visible fractures, cleared the way around her, covered her up, cleaned off the blood, ripped her shirt out of the way, reassured her that the car wasn't going to explode. An off-duty ambulance technician pulled over and we sat in the car holding her hand, pushing her hair out of her eyes - time slowed to a standstill and it felt like an eternity. It was really far too long before the emergency services arrived. But they swept in, asked questions, took charge, smiled their thanks in-between the shouted instructions, and we got in our car, shaken, and drove off.
I don't know how these people do this every day. They deserve medals - every single one of them. I know that I have a cool head and I act exactly as I should when I'm under pressure like that, but I really needed a hug afterwards. I wouldn't have said no to a drink of something rather strong either. Just writing about it makes my chest feel tight.
I have never been more glad of my first aid training.
And hope I never have to use it again.
We only found a few mushrooms (and to be honest, I just wandered around the forest uselessly, staring at the little purple mushrooms), but it was enough for dinner and Sylvain was happy (I had beans instead). We opened a bottle of champagne and toasted the woman in the car, that she would be out of danger, and resting.
Today, with a lighter heart, we headed to Lyon (I draped myself in my Australian flag, Sylvain was in my boxing kangaroo one) and watched Australia massacre Japan in the first round of the Rugby World Cup. There's nothing like a bit of yelling to make you feel better. Especially when you only learned the rules to the game that morning. Gotta love Wikipedia.
A weekend of ups and downs. I'm kindof looking forward to it being over. And I'm thinking about updating my first aid qualifications.
Over lunch, for the sixty millionth time, "it's not fair that summer has arrived only now and we are back at work."
By sms, "Guess where WE are... he he he. the sex o drome! he he."
Walking with a friend in the Marais, "You're a gay man in a woman's body, I'm telling you!"
Over a pile of peanut shells, "it's when you start chuckling when you're typing that you really give away the fact that you're not actually working."
Talking to a colleague, who was getting ready to go to the airport to wave her daughter off for a year in the Dominican Republic, "I understand how your parents felt, letting you go... letting your sister go..."
At dinner, an American reflects, "I am eating cheese that smells like feet."
Whilst watching the pilot episode of Firefly, "You know, he's the priest from Season 7 of Buffy."
Between an old married couple, "Oh, I forgot to tell you! Symphony vomited under the coffee table the other day." "Ooh, ok... so, did you clean it up?" "No, I left it there." /end sarcasm
Whilst watching a Japanese horror film, "Look! They're in military clothes! With manga hair!"
I have spent my whole life thinking that my sister and I couldn't be more opposite. When we were little, she wore pink, and I wore blue. She was blonde, I was brunette. When we went into the sun, she got freckles, I got a tan. She has miniature ears, I don't. She was tall, I was short. I was careful, timid and shy, whereas she was always more adventurous. That typical older/younger sister dynamic. Certainly today, our respective jobs couldn't be any more different, and she seems to waltz through life with the world at her feet, whereas I always have the impression of having to watch where I step, just in case I trip over myself.
Then we went to Australia for her wedding. Everywhere I turned, people were saying, "oh, the two of you look so much alike!" I kept replying, "no, we don't!" And they would say, "ohhh, yes you do. Two peas in a pod."
She still gets freckles, and I get a tan. She's still tall, and I'm still short. She's still adventurous and outgoing, and I am still struggling to overcome my shyness.
But maybe other people see things that we can't. Maybe today we've grown into our sisterhood. We don't fight like cat and dog any more, but we both know which buttons to push that will make the other fly into a mad fury in a way that no one else can. She knows what to say that will make me feel better, and I know how to sit and listen when she needs to talk. And I know what will make her roll her eyes and smile (toes! corn!), and she knows what will make me laugh until I hiccup. And sometimes, when she grins really hard, she has a little dimple under her eye like me. And like my mum. And like my grandma did.
I was looking through some photos, trying to pick out a few to put on the walls of our apartment, and I came across these ones, taken when she visited us here in 2004/5. And I realised that we have the same dorky smile. Maybe that's what people see.
But I could never have pulled off a dress like this. Especially not one I made myself. There are times that I am just happy to bask in her sunlight. Even if I know she's going to get cranky at me for being soppy ;)