Archive for the ‘Mum’ Category

The first time I saw the flat I live in now I thought “thank fuck I don’t live in this hell-hole”. What met me was a dark, dank (if large) flat, filled with what to me amounted to no more than junk, and it was dirty. The first time mum saw the flat she pulled me aside and said in shocked tones: “Don’t ever move in here!” But I did.

The rooms have been “reassigned” since then, and some of the hoard has been shifted, but it is essentially the same overcrowded, dirty, ugly space it was. I have failed in my efforts to turn it into a home after my standards. It’s sad. And it makes me sad. And it is a huge contributing factor to my depression.

Mum was an architect. She loved design furniture, and of course she leaned towards airy Scandinavian designs, Bauhaus and modernism. Though our home was by no means pristine – how could it, with two kids, a dog and both parents working? – it had a clear and logical layout and the entire framework was good, as in, the house itself was nicely decorated, painted, the floors were nice, the ceilings, the walls… and the furniture was collected according to mum’s very high standards. Mostly.

There was that one time when dad had spent days clearing out the basement and got rid of stuff mum considered junk (perhaps because it was mostly dad’s junk and included old shoes he’d grown out of during the war but held on to for sentimental reasons, or perhaps it was in case they proved useful, you know, broken old shoes no-one could wear). Then he went to work. At the same time the two little old ladies next door cleared out THEIR basement and threw out several old pieces of furniture. Mum spent the entire afternoon trudging between their heap of junk and our basement, rescuing what she considered gems that she could restore and that would prove oh-so-great, quickly filling up the space dad had worked so hard to clear. It’s one of the few times I’ve seen dad reduced to tears.

So. I come from a line of hoarders. The ability to dump stuff that is of no use, or not acquire new stuff that one really doesn’t need, is not something that was instilled in me as a child. That ability came much later, when Kevin and I had an accident while moving from Edinburgh to London and a lot of our stuff got ruined in the crash. The fact that we walked away with only minor bruises put things into perspective.

Before I moved in with Thomas, however, I lived in a large flat with almost no furniture. The layout was wonderful – you could walk from the hallway to the bedroom to the living room to the office/dining room to the kitchen and get back to the hallway, all in a big circle, and every room had at least one window. There was so much light, and so little furniture, and every morning I would roll out of bed, make a cup of tea and then do my round through the flat with Mischa in tow just enjoying the SPACE and the LIGHT – and the fact that it was so easy to clean and keep neat.

Then mum and dad came to visit. First I had that “touché” moment where mum in awe asked how I kept the place so clean and tidy, then a few weeks later came that other moment when a large lorry arrived with a load of furniture from mum. My grandparents’ sofa, a dining table, six dining chairs, a beautiful, handmade, mahogany sideboard (also from my Danish grandparents), dad’s old mahogany veneer office desk (HUGE!), an old waiting room bench mum had restored herself, the old chest my Norwegian grandfather had used when he went to America to try his luck (I seem to remember dad telling me he even tried his hand as a cowboy in Arizona). The place was suddenly less empty, but as it was so big it easily accommodated all of it and still looked neat and tidy – and cosier.

Then Thomas and I married. I held on to my flat to the end of the contract, half-way dreading the challenge of joining our two households. I knew it would be a nightmare to try to add my old period furniture to the overcrowded mishmash in Thomas’ flat.

And it was.

And it is.

And every day I have moments where I metaphorically bang my head against the wall in despair wondering what I can get rid of to give myself some breathing space. And each time I find something to dump, Thomas fills the freshly liberated spot with empty cardboard boxes, or tools, or motorcycle parts or… Is this some sort of Karma visited upon me because mum got dad to dump his stuff so she could fill it with her kind of stuff?

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The Finger…

I mentioned the Finger in the last post. I should perhaps elaborate a little.

It started with my grandmother. She had a very commanding Finger, according to mum. I can believe that. As so many things regarding our parents, we would rather not be too like them so when mum developed the Finger — and we pointed it out (note pun, etc.) — she was not entirely amused.

It turns out that I am next in line. Thomas has on several occasions caught the Finger on camera, as represented by me. I refused to believe it when Kevin mentioned it, and as he could not present pictorial evidence I was able to deny that the Finger had anything to do with me. Living in denial is not so easy with someone who is permanently attached to at least one camera.

In addition to being the inheritor of the Finger I also have a nasty habit of changing my mind. “I want it THERE,” I say, pointing loudly, only to moments later claim that I didn’t say that at all and that I want it THERE, pointing again with the certainty of the religious fanatic.

"HERE the Gundersveen City shall lie!"

When Thomas found a statue of Christian IV’s pointing glove in Oslo, he immediately asked if it was put there in tribute of my mother and made me promise never to tell her he said that. Sorry mum! Sorry Thomas! Oops… I guess I told everybody in the whole world. I may have to convert to Catholicism so I can confess my sins and beg forgiveness before I am hung, quartered and drawn.

I’ve learned to live with my own ridiculousness. After all, I think my mum is great and don’t really mind being like her. Mostly. 🙂 It remains to be seen if she will ever forgive me.

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Summer is upon me

I’m going on holiday today. Per motorbike. Yes, I have a new bike. A little Kawasaki Ninja 250R. I’ve called her Nina — what else? We’re taking our motorbikes overnight on the train from Vienna to Hamburg, then riding to Copenhagen where we will stay with my cousin and then we go on to Norway. I’m really excited as it makes the travel itself part of the holiday, and it all starts on the train: the most civilised way of travelling!

Over many years of flying here and there I have come to loathe flights. I used to love them, used to love being at the airport early, get the seat of my choice and then wander around the tax free trying all the perfumes until my eyes watered and people took flight before me to avoid the tear gas, sometimes trying various versions of whiskey or gin or whatever they were promoting that day, then going to the technical equipment bit — Dixons or something — and buying something completely useless I could load down my hand luggage with.

When going to Norway I would naturally add some tax free alcohol to the load that was already in my suitcase. That’s just a given. Norway is insanely expensive when it comes to alcohol. As if that stops anyone from drinking. The making of moonshine is something Norwegians are taught in the womb. It’s how we survive the cold. And dark. And the depressions that go with being Norwegian. And yes, everything you’ve heard about Norwegians and alcohol is true.

One Christmas my dad invited Kevin to a morning of manliness with his friends. The guys were going to head into the forest and chop their own Christmas trees. As dad had talked about Kevin, his exotic son-in-law (in the sense that he is not Norwegian), the guys were curious and thought it was was a great opportunity for a bonding session between men. They had not counted on Kevin’s reaction which was “I am not going without Ine”. And that was that. Not up for negotiation. So I was an honorary male among testosterone ridden males with axes.

They had also not counted on Kevin refusing to kill a tree, so I was the one who headed into the freezing forest to find and kill our prey. Which I did with gusto and in record time. And then we all assembled by the cars where it was time for some man-talk and a coffee.

With my history of migraines I turned the coffee down. The bringer of the coffee, however, would have none of it, stating that there was not a lot of coffee in the coffee. And when the “coffee” turned my face a shade of red not before seen in the real world the lads roared with laughter, coffee bringer — the local sheriff — included. It was indeed an illegal substance of little colour but impressive potency. With the sheriff’s blessing, our prey in the trailer and alcohol schlosching around our veins, I got behind the wheel and drove me and Kevin back to the warm house where I spent the rest of the day sobering up.

Not sure I would recommend this experience.

Last night I took Mischa over to his previous home. I had agreed this with Livia who is presently on a hiking holiday, but she had only passed the information on to her mum in her imagination so the agreement came as a bit of a surprise to her. Karin is already taking care of all the kids (4), the other dog Knickers and the cat. Sorry; keep forgetting the cat’s name. I only see the cat in short glimpses when I’m there, between her hesitantly emerging from the shed until she disappears around a corner with Knickers in hot pursuit.

When I got ready to leave, Mischa trailed me with the expectation that he would come too. I cuddled him and said no, he would be staying to have his own holiday with his old family, but the look of loss and bewilderment he sent me was heartbreaking, and the last thing I heard was Karin reassuring him that I would come back for him — “Sie kommt wieder! Dass verspreche ich!”

Today I’m scratching my head trying to squeeze my usual holiday luggage into two small saddelbags and a top-bag. I intend to keep up with my jogging regime, so running shoes and sweatpants etc. have to fit in as well in addition to the thousands of shoes I always have to have, a nice dress, a summer dress, underwear to last, extra — ok, you’ve been there done that yourself so I’ll shut up now. I’ll just reveal that I’m not taking my hairdryer — and that’s a first. Since I will be spending a considerable amount of time with my head in a crash helmet it hardly matters if I blow dry my hair first. It’s gonna look shit regardless. Sorry, mum! This time I will agree without hesitation when you tell me you don’t like my hair. But just wait until 1 March 2011! My hair will be sorted out then.

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Oh bum

So what did I achieve by taking my mental state to the Internet? Well, first and foremost I’ve received advice regarding natural remedies (herbs and such), yoga and meditation (as long as I don’t have to chant I am all for it), and offers of various shoulders to cry on.

But the downside, the BIG downside is that I have upset my parents. And when their worried e-mails signalled just how much I at first really regretted writing about this. I wished that I had gone on pretending that all is well, that I am Superwoman, capable of working ridiculous hours, caring for a dog, dealing with my grief as well as Kevin’s, owning a stupidly wonderful old MG, being a wild biker chick and nothing, nothing would ever faze me.

Yeah. Did that come back to kick me in the teeth, or what?

If I had not admitted that I’m breaking I could have caused myself some serious, lasting, damage. I don’t know what kind. I’m not that experienced in the department of mental injury. I just knew it had to be NOW or forever hold my peace. And that was just no longer an option.

I’m not ok. I hurt. But I have just done one thing right: I have admitted it. And now I am trying to do something about it.

I agree that the Happy Pill is a dodgy route to go. But I have a good doctor I trust and who is doing close follow up. I’m seeing him again tomorrow, and then we will be going over the initial side effects and see how we can reduce them. And, as my mum pointed out, pills are not a solution when there is a problem; just taking anti-depressants and going back to work to try to catch up with a work-load that is already too big for me is not going to help in the long run. So once I get my brain on a more even keel (that’s what the pills are for) then it is time to tackle the things that started this whole thing in the first place.

But as long as I am at the stage where I can’t take in information, where I can’t remember a conversation minutes after it took place, when a simple chat with another person leaves me totally drained — as long as this is the state I am in I can’t sort it all out.

So for now I am observing the side-effects of the pills with mild interest, allowing myself to let go and being totally open about it. Because I know one thing. There was another me before this. A me I want back. And I have already glimpsed that light in the other tunnel — I just need to find the tunnel. I know it’s around here, somewhere.

And now it’s time to care for that dog. Mischa! Walkies!

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And this is why I love my parents

When I uploaded the pictures on my camera I found this at the end:

My wonderful mother -- my not so wonderful wig.

My wonderful mother -- my not so wonderful wig.

Turns out I had inadvertently left my camera at home, and mum and dad had — well, you can see the result.

Did she really think I would not put it on the blog? Fat chance!

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Mum has said nothing about my hair being ugly. And she likes the flat. And she likes Mischa. We iz keepingz ourz fingerz crozzdz.

Seven days down, one thousand and eighty eight to go.

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