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Archive for the ‘Lord&Master’ Category

So, for the second time in my life I split up with someone out of sheer self preservation. Wrong. Third. But the third one, which is really the second one, is a very different story. Here’s the story of the most recent split, and the most devastating:

When I met Kevin I had just split up with Erland. I was head over heals in love with him, but our second year together was not good and I finally realised that I had to get out of the relationship were I to retain any sort of personality or dignity. I split up with him in spite of how I felt for him. And I cried. For more than two years I cried. Then it got better. And now, 17 years later it’s ok.

I’ll never forget him or how I felt. He will always have a piece of my heart.

Oddly enough, it was a similar story with Kevin, it just took so much longer. Love kept me going (I am doing this from a “me-point-of-view” as I can’t tell you anything about what Kevin thinks). Weeks after we first met he informed that he was not even remotely interested in having kids. I replied that at the time, neither was I but that this was likely to change. And so we agreed that when I started to get broody we would part ways.

I was always a very sexual person, but Kevin stated that other things were more important. For me it got so bad I even asked his permission to get a lover. He thought I was joking. I was. Sort of.

We split once, when we lived in Edinburgh. I think he was depressed. We didn’t talk much, and I lived a fairly independent motorbike life. He was always invited to both bike runs and parties but made it clear that my “hairy biker friends” as he called them were not his cup of tea.

In general, my friends were not his cup of tea. They were anything from “boring” to “dull”, apparently. His friends were not, so we had a good time with them. Except that he didn’t have many friends in Edinburgh and didn’t make any new friends while there so he either had to suffer the company of my dull hairy biker friends or be on his own. He was on his own. At this point he became an archetypical unemployed actor who spent his days playing golf when the weather permitted or listened to Radio 5 in the flat. And I was his landlady so we always kept the guest room looking as if it was his room in case social services came to check. I hated that. But at least he was an interesting, unemployed actor with interesting, not boring friends. In London. Bummer.

We split. But it didn’t work out. I missed him insanely, holding his hand when going for a walk or on the way to the pub, kissing him good morning, nuzzling his neck, his smell, his laugh, the warmth of his eyes, his jokes. His sarcasms. His one-liners. Sharing our favourite radio programme (I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue). He had been engaged by a small theatre in Vienna, conveniently coinciding with our split, and we talked on the phone every day and then he asked me if I wanted to join him there, going back on stage as Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol.

We had the most wonderful reunion, he was so alive, so happy, his eyes were shining and yes! he wanted a family and commitment and to live! We got engaged. There is nothing more romantic than being in Vienna at Christmas and getting engaged to a man you love so much it hurts.

We moved to London. None of my dull hairy biker friends were there, but some more of his interesting actor friends were and he was willing to get temp work when not working in the theatre. I went from one horrid job to the next, all interesting in their own way, all pretty exhausting and soul destroying. But we were financially better off than ever and eloped to New York in 2003 where we married. I always had a feeling that we disappointed a lot of people with that, especially my dad though mum took it in her stride and approved whole heartedly.

After three years in London I hit the wall with frustration. My job was going nowhere, I was going nowhere, Kevin was only doing temp jobs of the shittiest kind and going nowhere with that. The family plans never materialised and when I occasionally broached the subject I was met with Kevin’s favourite mantra: “This is not a good time.”

We moved again. This time to Vienna. Turned out that by now we had more friends there than in London, including shared and acceptably interesting. Kevin got us a tiny flat in the best district of town, Josephstadt, where we squeezed in all our belongings and felt like true bohemians. We had had a falling out with the small theatre — it never pays to be honest, one should always remember to lick ass, no matter what people say or do to you, but that’s another story — so we both ended up teaching English.

And that was the beginning of the end. Because even though I enjoyed the new challenge, and even though I was still in love with Kevin, the mantra, the ever present mantra that prevented us from discussing things that bothered me, built a wall of discontent in the flat. The much too small flat. As bohemian as it was, the walls started closing in on me, the view across the narrow Hof to our neighbour’s bedrooms started to get to me, no matter how many of my things I got rid of, there was always stuff all over the place that had nowhere to go, and we could still not have a dog and family? No way. It was not a good time. Tick, tick, tick.

We moved. This time we stayed within both country and city and ended up in the 4th district.

It worked for me, but never really seemed to work for Kevin. Unfortunately, I was the one who found the flat and insisted on the move so it allowed for free vent of complaints for him. He didn’t like the district, he didn’t like the kitchen, it was too warm, he wanted it to be cheaper with an extra room… and in the meantime he still refused to discuss the future in any way, and though we still borrowed every dog we met for a few precious seconds the time was still not right for getting our own. When we were asked to look after Mischa over a holiday I was told in no uncertain terms that he would have nothing to do with it and that he would not help. When the issue of Mischa needing re-homing came up, he said that Mischa made him depressed and he didn’t want him.

Perhaps I paid too much attention to Mischa and too little to Kevin. I don’t know.

By this time I had given up trying to talk about things. The few times I did I could hear my own shrill voice turning into a self-pitying complaint and I hated it. I had no idea how to change the way I approached the issue of the future, my friends, a baby, how to make it clear to him that it was important to me. Important enough to be the right time also for him.

Instead I became the last thing I wanted to be. Frustrated in every way imaginable, negative, bitter, scatterbrained. Did I mention bitter?  I was unable to concentrate at work, I was moody — ok, so that’s nothing new, but I was more moody than usual. Things seemed pretty bleak. And of course, I had made new hairy, and one less hairy, biker friends who reintroduced me to biking. Very dull people indeed. Particularly the less hairy one.

Alongside this my periods became heavier and more painful and then came the Bad News about the myomas and my personal little world fell apart as the ticking of the time bomb started and I realised that without some serious help there would be no family for me. And with all the helpfulness of a well meaning Labrador Kevin told me it was not a good time to discuss the family issue, that he would support me through the operation, that was more important.

Was that nasty of me? Sorry.

Have I been going on too long here? Sorry about that too. Just getting things off my chest here.

I’ll try to conclude.

I went from bad to worse. I saw nothing but black. I wanted to go to sleep and stay asleep — forever. Then I lashed out at Kevin and slowly and painfully ejected him from my life. I had run out of time. And I needed help, badly. And this is where the boring hairless biker friend turned into a rock and Mischa became my sponge and my doctor became my drug dealer and together they got my head back on pointing in the right direction. Forward rather than down. It has so far taken them more than two years.

I suppose I am still fighting the battle.

And Kevin? He has told me to stay out of his life, to never contact him again. He has to pretend I never existed. I have ruined his life. But he will always have a piece of my heart.

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And you thought IKEA was bad

A while ago I fell in love with this chest of drawers. It was called an “Apotekerschrank” and had lots of drawers. But I kept putting off ordering it for various reason. Such as being short of money and stuff like that. You know, the usual.

Eventually they — Dänisches Bettenlager — dropped the price and I thought, what the h***, might as well go for it. I was convinced it was a great idea, that when I paid €35 to have it delivered it would be carried to wherever I wanted it and voilà, there it would be, the perfect chest of drawers in the perfect spot, ready to be filled with my imperfect clothes.

Ah — no.

Tuesday morning there was a ring on my door and a guy shoved a piece of paper in my face with my name on it, asked if that was me and on confirmation disappeared down the stairs. Not to reappear. So eventually I trotted down to see what had become of him and found a hydraulic trolley with a pallet and two large parcels on it  right outside the front door, but still with no sign of the man with the van.

After a couple of minutes’ dejected and confused waiting I eventually spotted him walking leisurely towards me from a long distance, and on finally reaching me he told me there was no loading bay anywhere near and he’d had to go to the North Pole or something. Then he started to unload the trolley, pallet and all, right there on the pavement.

“??” I said.
“I only have to deliver to the address”, he said. “This is the address, I deliver.”
“I have paid a small fortune for delivery — do you expect me to carry that myself? It weighs more than me! And what do I want a pallet for??”
He shrugged and repeated the previous, pulled out a piece of paper and said “That’s me”, pointing to his name on the paper — “me, the driver.” Then he pointed to the number above the door and said “Address. I deliver.”

I could see no way around it. I had to resort to crazy-woman-with-nothing-better-to-do so I screamed at the poor man that this was madness, that I could not be expected to cart 70 kg worth of boxes, plus a pallet I didn’t need, up two flights of stairs, that this was no service at all.

He offered to do it for me if I paid extra.

I resorted to even-crazier-woman until he shouted “what do you want? Do you want me to take it back?!”

I said yes. Actually, I yelled YES!!! with at least three exclamation marks. And stalked off in my very best stalk.

And that’s the point when crazy-woman paid off and driver buckled, ’cause driver was not allowed to return with the goods if customer was indeed there and I KNEW HIS NAME. So the end of the delivery was that I did not have to accept the pallet and that we carried the parcels up together.

But I did not tip because crazy-woman is very mean that way. Hm, come to think of it, my German has never been better than it was then…

So, there I was, with two heavy parcels of Royal Oak Apotekerschrank from Dänisches Bettenlager. And my brain short-circuited at the thought of putting it all together. When I looked at the drawings I saw nothing but a mess so I left the parcels in the spare room with all of Max’ things and fell asleep. Falling asleep is generally what I do these days when my brain overloads. Except at night when I should sleep. It’s great. Works a treat at keeping me crazy.

When I later cried out my despair to Kevin he came over and sorted it all out with me as his assistant handing him screw-drivers and screws as he told me to. I’ve never seen him so calm. Usually it is me who assemble stuff quietly and patiently, only swearing occasionally, and Kevin who swears like a trooper and flies off his handle at irregular intervals. Talk about reversed roles. I actually like assembling things. It’s a little like complicated Lego. But this totally ruined several evenings and the mess on the floor had Mischa tip-toeing between screws and metal and wood parts for drawers. He’s quite good at that, even when walking backwards he is able to avoid stepping on things.

Right now he’s lying on the floor next to me with a look of “I’m a poor, starving, neglected puppy and nobody loves me” so I think I had better prove him wrong by taking him outside for a groom and then giving him a shampoo. That should make him feel loved.

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I finally visited Kevin in his new abode. I was really pleased to find that at least he has a cosy flat. In a terrific area. I am almost envious…

A wonderful feature of his flat is an old fireplace, a tall, brown, tiled stove. Being me, I just had to open it to see if it was in use, or had been in use, and there I found the remnants of an old letter, written in beautiful joined-up writing.

Though badly scorched around the edges, it was still possible to make out quite a lot of the writing, and it turned out to be an old love letter, to Elfi. I couldn’t make out all of it, but the last sentence read:

“Allerliebste Elfi bitte mach mi/…/wieder ganz glücklich und schreibe daß du mir nicht /…/ mehr böse bist.”

Dearest Elfi please make me /…/ happy again and write me that you are not /…/ angry [with] me anymore.

Another broken heart. It's not just us.

Another broken heart. It's not just us.

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Neither Kevin nor I had a hugely exciting end to 2008. Though mine was probably better than his since I got to have dinner and champagne with my parents. His was spent at home with a chest infection. I blame the booze for this exchange:

Me: Kevin er syk. (Kevin is ill.)
Dad: Er han syk? Hva er i veien? (Is he ill? What is wrong?)
Me: Han er sannsynligvis utslitt. (He is probably exhausted.)
Mum: Hva? Har han utslett? Hvordan ser det ut? Røde hunder kan være farlig for voksne menn! (What? He has a rash? What does it look like? Rubella can be dangerous for grown men!)

So I sent Kevin an e-mail this morning warning him that he probably has rubella but should beware that it may develop into the Black Plague very soon.

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What a bugger of a year. And if you’re not a native English speaker; don’t look it up in the dictionary. I had a group of students do that. In my efforts to avoid swearing in front of my students I had landed on that very word as a mild expletive, not counting on their Germanic tendency to want to get everything right and that they all marched off to look the word up in Leo. The result was that I had twenty enjoyable minutes of young men trying to explain the true meaning to me while blushing.

I woke up this morning to a white world. No, not snow, but a thick carpet of frost on everything in sight. Outside. -12C, which is a mere spring day in Siberia, but as Siberia is bottom of my list over places I wish to visit that is neither here nor there. I feel the cold quickly and simply looking at all that white frost made all my body hair stand on end and pretty much stole my will to live. It was very pretty, though. And then my mother sneezed and scared all the world’s birds and broke the spell and my will to live was completely extinguished.

The year started with my tenants in Edinburgh informing me that they wanted to move out. We were friends until then. The friendship did not end because they wanted to move, after all, flushing money down the toilet on rent year after year is not what a normal person wants to do. But my pettier nature thinks that when you rent from a friend at a very reasonable, below average, rate, you should at least treat the place as if you cared. At least a little.

My job was still quite new and I got the chance to travel as one of its perks. I have seen more of Europe this year than in the past decade. Hamburg, Coimbra, Tallinn, Paris. In addition to the usual places; Oslo, Edinburgh, London, and Vienna where I live. I totally love this side to my job, and luckily I also love the job and think I have great colleagues (I even like Ms Phobia) and hope EU will continue to sponsor us so we all have a job to go to for the foreseeable future. And I really don’t mind my boss’ show of Swedish patriotism in displaying a rather frightening postcard of the Swedish royal offspring in the office. I can live with that. Really, I can. After all, they are more glamorous than the Norwegian royal offspring which is more of the oafish kind.

In between travelling we also found time to look after various pets belonging to friends; Mischa, Alex and Livia’s dog and my favourite among our charges; Amy, Graham’s Golden Retriever; Lucy, Adrienne’s black mongrel; and Snowy who belongs to Howard and Kaki. In addition came three rats gerbils hamsters belonging to Tom — he had asked us to look after one and turned up with three. Neither of us were able to relate to the rats gerbils hamsters, but the dogs all gave us lots of joy and at times some major worries such as when Amy threw herself into the smelliest pool of mud in all of Prater, Lucy barred Mischa from the bedroom (the only time we have had two dogs at the same time) and Snowy refused to eat for days and almost vanished. Until I discovered that pancakes were the key to his heart. If I can buy a dog’s affection with pancakes I will do so.

Half way through the year I was given the devastating message that I had myomas in my uterus and would have to have a full hysterectomy. According to the plumber who diagnosed me. Humpty-dumpty reversed the death-sentence and said reassuringly that the experts at the AKH (Allgemeine Krankenhaus) had an assembly line approach to myomas and could whip them out in no time. Which they did, and I met a woman who had been given the same sentence and who, as a South African, I could communicate with. Which we did. Over copious glasses of wine and amidst lots of laughter that hurt the operation wounds and the trapped air that for some inexplicable reason seems to be pumped into the body during an operation and how come they can’t give you a quick squeeze before closing you up? Just thought I’d ask. At least I learned how to spell gynaecology.

Louise has become one of my closest friends. And sometimes I wonder how I would have got through the past few months without her. Because not all has been well in the Kevin and Ine paradise since we moved to the 4th district, and while convalescing at home after the op I split up with the love of my life. That is the all-time-low of this year. Frustrations that had built over a long period came to a head with the operation, an operation which made me question my entire life and my dreams and hopes.

Suffice it to say that Louise has become invaluable as a friend. And when Alex and Livia gave me Mischa he too became an invaluable support with his silent gentleness and cuddly presence. And Thomas, whose instincts seem unusually tuned in to the state of my mind. His ability to grab me by the scruff of the neck and either shake or hug me before I completely succumb to self pity has several times been my saving grace.

Depression has still reared its ugly head and in November I did a “Britney” and cut my long hair short. The hairdresser had doubts about my sincerity — having doubts about my sanity would have been closer to the mark. But I have no regrets: someone who is depressed will try anything to shake the feeling, and that was just one attempt. There will be others. Such as when I get my new motorbike at the end of April. A clear sign of a mid-life crisis. If I’m going to have a crisis, I’m going to have one all the way.

Louise’s husband, Max, died in November. His prolonged illness is one of the things that has brought Louise and me closer together. Within an hour of meeting at the AKH we had told each other all the important things, and one thing she told me was about Max and how he had been in a coma for two-and-a-half years after a prophylactic shock from a wasp sting. Louise and I have emptied several bottles of wine together while laughing and crying over our miserable lives. I have a feeling we will continue to do this at regular intervals, and no, it was neither me finding a new flat or the flat finding me. It was Louise offering me the flat. We will soon be neighbours. And both be cuddling Mischa when we have bad days and need a complacent male. Poor boy; he has no idea what awaits him.

Splitting up has of course brought finances to the fore, and I can no longer afford to keep Cleo and complete her restoration. I had to go to London to hand over the rest of my money to Peter and make a few heartbreaking decisions, and while there I stayed with Colin who is dying from cancer. And isn’t this just about to turn into the most cheerful post you’ve ever read? Death and depression everywhere you look. Years don’t come much better than 2008 in that respect. But I did like Colin’s remark as I was on my way out to meet Richard, my depressed (…) fashion photographer friend. Colin looked me up and down, then he said: “You dress well. That should be in your epitaph. ‘She dressed well. All else was shit’.” I love my friends. They always know how to say the right thing and invariably make me feel better.

So now, on the eve of 2008, I sit in Ski, a place I never learned to love, or even particularly like, contemplating my life. It’s pitch black out, I can hear the odd pop of fire crackers, the news is on TV about the storm “Yngve” causing havoc to a small community up north. And about Israel bombing the Gaza strip to smithereens in revenge at Hamas firing rockets into Israel. So samme bloody procedure there as every year, then.

I wish me a vastly improved 2009. And if you need one too: Happy 2009! May things be nothing like 2008.

Eidsvoll, 20 December 2008. Norway as I know and sometimes didn't love it at all. But in general I'd say it's a pretty country. In the summer. When it's a bit lighter. Ok, I'll stop now. You get the picture. I suffer from SAD -- something to do with light deprivation. There's a lot of it here. Ask someone who knows and is feeling sorry for herself.

Eidsvoll, 20 December 2008. Norway as I know and sometimes didn't love it at all. But in general I'd say it's a pretty country. In the summer. When it's a bit lighter. Ok, I'll stop now. You get the picture. I suffer from SAD -- Seasonal affective disorder. There's a lot of it here. Ask someone who knows and is feeling sorry for herself.

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I think about you every day. And that’s no exaggeration. I do. Every day. Nothing specific really, just that I miss you. I miss your devastating honesty. And you. I wish you could come here for a visit, that we could have a good blether, that… but I know that is wishful thinking and nothing more.

Now that I finished saying that, I thought I’d tell you: Dan is a huge success with my company! We are now not only using him for our reviews, but he is regularly engaged as a translator because he actually understands the French articles we’re sometimes sent, and I’m not just talking linguistically but also the concepts they’re discussing. Simon, our main editor, thinks Dan is little short of a genius and asks all sorts of questions about him. Well, there is little I can tell him as your son is quite a private person and I only know so much.

That aside; I am struggling with the dark hell of an oncoming depression. Not that everything is black; I really like having the flat to myself, turning it into what I wanted all along without any interference of any kind. I love being a dog-owner. Mischa is a terrific dog, and once I get him slimmed down a bit more he should be able to live to a ripe old age. The vet said he was a very healthy dog, and I intend to keep him that way as best I can. If only people in pubs would stop giving him tidbits…. he may be quite big — sort of a short-legged Alsatian — but he is just about the soppiest and softest lump I have ever met. The other day he waddled up to a police officer to get a cuddle. If he keeps doing things like that I will have to get him registered so they don’t discover that his dog-tag is fake.

Another positive thing is that my hospital-roomie has become a really good friend, and between the two of us we keep the world at bay. I may think I have screwed things up, but compared with her life my life is a dance on roses, without the thorns. Her husband went into prophylactic shock because of a bee sting 2 1/2 years ago and has been in a coma since. It’s like an extremely slow death where she has no real possibility of moving on with her own life. Also because she really misses him. Yesterday (Saturday) we met to take our dogs for a walk together (she’s “fostering” a puppy from Romania), and before that we spent some time crying about our respective situations, eating a rather excellent soup she had made with a few glasses of something alcoholic and generally being women giving and getting emotional support. I haven’t had a girlfriend like that in a long time.

I miss Kevin dreadfully. I knew I would. But I did go through a long, very long, period of not missing him at all when he was still here. And that is something I somehow have to work out and understand. And I’m still at a stage where I find it hard to contact our shared friends. I feel guilty, as if I have something to apologise for, and so I find it hard to see them.

Well, it’s late. I have two long days at work ahead of me, days that will keep me working into the evening both Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday I am going to get an adjustment to my “Britney” — I am sure you are sensibly outside the whole reference of that, but the girl, Britney Spears, shaved her head when she hit rock-bottom in a depression and her fame made sure it was broadcast to the world at large. I haven’t quite done that, but I did totter off to a hairdresser and had her cut my hair short. Paradoxically, my crash helmet now fits a lot better. Which of course is important.

Nuff of that. As I said; I miss you. I hope you’re ok. I love you.

Ine
xxx

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I fell asleep on the sofa last night. Didn’t feel great, a little nauseous and cold, so when Mischa came over and licked my nose he was more than welcome to join me in a tight snuggle. So there we were, snuggling close, he keeping me warm, and we slept.

I came home from work to find Kevin there, looking for something he had left behind. It felt so incredibly good seeing him again, and we hugged, long, and then we talked. About work, about theatre, about sports, about all those little insignificant things we used to talk about. We laughed, opened a bottle of wine, agreed on everything and nothing, and then we went to the bedroom. We sat on the bed and kept talking and joking, while the walls slowly disintegrated to reveal a field and a forest in the early evening sun in the autumn. I reached out to touch Kevin, to remind him of something that happened in Norway many years ago, but he was no longer on the bed, he was standing a few feet away looking into the forest saying he had to go, he had found what he was after. The bed metamorphosed into a grotty old cast-iron bed full of cockroaches and rotting bedlinen.

I woke with a screaming headache, still nauseous and too hot from having Mischa draped across me. It was late and time for his evening walk, so together we stumbled out into the city, into a still, warm evening. There were bats out flying around the dome of the Karlskirche. Mischa didn’t try to play this time, just kept near me, walking slowly.

In the morning I found him comfortably curled up on the sofa. Mea culpa. I put his cover on the seats and let him back on; Moby Dick now officially belongs to him.

Line: you may well find me on your doorstep soon. I’m coming to Norway on a long weekend.

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