Friday, October 9, 2015

I used to be

I was demanding of ideas,
I was quick to comprehend,
I was voracious of discussion.
I loved new information and adjusted what I already knew to accommodate it.
I enjoyed having a flexible mind,
and a store of inter-related knowledge.
I drove my reading family nuts be only wanting to read non-fiction
(a great failing according to my mother).
There were few topics I wouldn't entertain,
but mostly I loved people topics.
What makes us tick?
Why do we do what we do?
How can I influence others behaviours towards whatever
and move them over here?
I loved the alchemy of figuring out people.
But where has that gone?
Is there an age limit on curiosity?
Did it really kill the cat?
Why don't I care anymore?
Have I been ground down by reading too much non-fiction and
my mother's predictions have come to fruition?
What the hell is going on???
Or is it that finally I have realised that there are problems too big,
too complex, too repetative that
it is easier to keep to my knitting?
Maybe it is a quiet life I need now?
But the flicker is there...... *sigh*

Monday, September 14, 2015


I'm crushing on this song so much! Downtown! Downtown! Dooowwwnnntown! Hey ey ey! Hey ey ey!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

San Andreas earthquakes

Yesterday I had a day at home with a wicked bad sinus headache.  You know the kind that comes with a low pressure weather front, that makes you want to peel off your skull at about cheekbone level just to get a little relief. 
I wasn’t tired, just very sore so Homeboy put on a movie – “San Andreas” with the Rock.  Ironically it’s the fifth anniversary of the Sept 2010 7.1 earthquake on the 4th. 
I thought surely after five years I must be fine to watch a movie about giant and unlikely earthquakes.
I found myself just a little tense and sitting in weird poses. 
Like the first movie earthquake hit, it decimated Los Angles.
It was a 7.1 and I was on the edge of seat with my arm outstretched and my eyes were very watchful. I have no idea what I thought was going on but my fight or flight senses were on, super on.
And it didn’t get better as the pretend earthquakes heading north up the San Andreas fault line towards and into San Francisco.
I lived in the South Bay to the south of San Francisco.   I spent heaps of time walking the streets of that hilly city overlooking the bay.   Every street in the movie looked like somewhere I had been, probably wasn’t though, I wasn’t that energetic. 
So seeing another place I ‘knew’ crumbling wasn’t that enjoyable.  Thankfully it started getting ridiculously outlandish and I found my equilibrium again. 
Although it could also have been because I moved to the couch and snuggled up to Homeboy. 
Earthquakes are easier when there are two of you.
Even fake earthquakes.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Palmerston North

It was John Cleese,
not a man of tact and one would like to think
he says everything he says to be humorous
but y'gotta wonder sometimes.
John Cleese said in 2006,
"If you wish to kill yourself but lack the courage to,
I think a visit to Palmerston North will do the trick."
It is a soulless place and
I live in Hamilton so I should I know.
Tomorrow I will get on the 6.15am flight to Palmy
Yes that is a 30 minute check-in so I will be at the airport at 5.45.
driving at 5.15,
up at 4.45am.
That's in the morning 4.45am.
I am shuddering at the thought of an early start.
I shudder at the thought of being in Palmerston North by 7.05am.
People are still getting up at 7.05am,
people I will have flown over in my wee bubble of an aeroplane.
Yesterday I was speaking to one of our Group Managers
who will be at the meeting also,
and she said oh yes, we catch the 6.45am flight to Dunedin.
Like it was the same thing.
Gee when she arrives at the airport,
I will be aboard my tiny plane setting off south.
She will be heading the Koru lounge to have a hot drink
and then board a much bigger plane than the 20 seater I'll be on.
So not the same thing.
After an all day meeting,
all day means we start when the senior managers arrive
at about 10.15am and go to about 3 maybe 3.30pm
so they can get home before 5pm
My homeward flight doesn't leave until 6.20pm.
So while all my workmates are heading home,
of not already there
I'll be sitting in uncomfortable seats thieving wifi at the airport.
Yes I am complaining and
I am very conscious that I am.
I get paid very well to make day return flights with rental cars
and Koru lounge memberships
so forgive me my first world problems and
indulge me. 
My weekend is a write off of exhaustion.
Palmerston North was where my parents met.
Mags training to nurse,
Greg an junior insurance agent freshly moved there from Wellington.
There is nothing wrong with Palmerston North,
shoot I wouldn't be here without it.
But there is nothing particularly right about Palmerston North either.
There in lies the problem.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

struggling to make sense

My mother, Mags has been diagnosed with Stage One Dementia. 
That’s Stage One on the New Zealand scale – America has five, though this may be confused with the Five Stages of Grief, it’s dementia after all.

There have been a few struggles with this but mostly its things that we can laugh at. 
Boy I am not looking forward to the end of the laughter.
So far she is very chatty, very, very chatty. 
Every car ride we take is full of surprises at new buildings and different roads. 
There are stories about that shop or this corner that I’ve never heard – I was only just told my standard 2 teacher broke her neck falling off a balcony at Waihi Beach not that long after she taught me, this may or may not be true. 
This has nothing to do with any of the stories my mother told me about her years of shopping in Hamilton East. 
Her memory’s concept of real time fluctuates. 
One moment its 1982, next it’s 1953 but mostly it’s still 2015,
she checks regularly to be sure. 
Problem is she introduces a long past story or asks a question as if it is current observation without any reference to the conversation she has planted it in. 
To be fair this is not a recent thing but then the dementia symptoms have been creeping up on us over a significant amount of time. 
Probably the hardest bit to deal with at this kinda early stage is when she gets really sad, just super sad.
And teary. 
It’s quite something to come across someone who is sitting quietly weeping, just silent tears running down her cheeks.  She weeps about loss, loss of unknown things, things beyond her grasp.    She weeps about things being beyond her control, things that were within her control not that long ago, things that are now on the edge on her knowledge but too far to manage. She weeps because things that were familiar are no longer. 
So many things on the edge of her memory. 

The other morning, Mags woke to a room filled with morning sunlight and warmth from the heater oil fin heater left on overnight. 
I had just stepped into her room to leave her morning pills by her bed. 
She seemed alert, she seemed like she had had a good sleep. 
She asked how long we had been here.  I said, you for a few weeks and we had been there for some months.  She asked if I were going to work and would I be home for lunch.  I said I was about to leave for work but wouldn’t be home for lunch. 
And then she asked how long we had been in the Hawkes Bay – we live in the Waikato – and I realized we had been speaking to two different things.  When I queried her, she said that she had been dreaming of holidaying in the Hawkes Bay and covered it up as much as she was able.  But for the first five minutes of her morning we were on holiday in the Hawkes Bay, enjoying summer sun and she was looking forward to a day of reading and resting outside in the gentle warmth. 
Not a bad way to start the day I say. 

I don’t mind these collisions of memory and desires. 
But I borrow worry for when the memories are no longer there and the desires are increasingly simplistic and needful. 
I am watchful for change.
Noting incidents and words, unsurely judging their relationship to reality and time. 
I worry that I am too watchful, reading into silliness something more serious.
Then I worry that that I am not watchful enough. 
 It worries me that she will slip out of the house and slowly walk across busy and fast roads to the shop and it worries me that she doesn’t. 
It worries me that she is too compliant. 
It worries me that she feels useless but can’t be bothered doing anything. 
It worries me that she is losing herself and gaining timidity. 
 It worries me as I wash her back that her bones are so small and close to the surface but it also worries me that her tummy is too round and she only wants to eat ice cream but devours everything I put in front of her.

For now it mostly it bothers me that I can keep her safe and that she doesn’t push back like she used to.  I want her to walk away by herself. 
I want to her use her independence while she has it. 
I want to her feel free to be herself and to have no pressure as her world slips away. 

We are nearing the end of Stage One Dementia and there is nothing to do but wait and make the most of the time we have listening to stories that get stuck in a repetitive groove and smiling at silly things, being playful and simple. 
I’m trying to make life like one of those long summers afternoons that never end, that holds only warm goodness and pleasant relaxation of slowly swinging hammocks and perfect summer dresses, of fresh sandy feet and the smell of sweet ripeness in the air. 
Those days that wrap themselves around you like a sleepy sigh.  
But I am failing.  I can't not fail.