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Monday, April 30, 2007

4 a.m. Phone Calls

I hate those. Even though it wasn't 4 a.m. when I got the call, it was 4 a.m. where the person was calling from.

On Friday morning, I got a message from my assistant after coming back from a meeting. Your sister just called. My sister? Looking at my watch and calculating that it was 4 a.m. in Tenerife. I sighed and dialled her number. I knew what it was about. I'd had the following emails and texts over the past 10 days:

email on 16 April - All is ok here at the moment, went sailing yesterday and had to do a capsize!! All good fun though and better than spending the day in the friggin pub!! Me n kirk are on day 4 of no drinking!!!! Well the odd beer but literally the odd one so no drunkeness and what a difference it feels. Soooooooooooo much better and I so prefer it this way!!!!! Mind is sharper, not so tired and much more fun being sober!!!! Rxxxxx

email on 16 April (8 hours later) - all was well with kirk up until an hour ago. I am starting to get serious warning bells with him. he totally misinterprets situations sometimes and can NEVER admit when hes wrong, i dunno fion, when its good its amazing but when its bad its REALLY bad, no inbetween and really no reasoning with him. very stubborn and macho and am beginning to see that but still think we can break through that. i dunno........ anyways........take care love rhonxxxxxxxxxxx

text on 17 April - he has left me for good this time fion...over something so stupid. feeling really down. Rhon xxxxx

email on 23 April - hi fion..........thanks for phoning and listening to me yesterday. I really dont want to worry you so please dont. I've got through it before so i will again, its just painful at the moment and i am struggling a bit. life has been really chaotic with kirk for a while and have been feeling out of control. You are such a good friend to me fion and i love you for being there for me, again.Rxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

text on 23 April - hey fion, all is well. Had good chat n sorted alot so we r back on! Will send u email when in the office next. Hope u r ok? Lotsa love Rxxx

email on 24 April - hey fion.............got half a day in the orifice today. All is well here, had a good chat with kirk and sorted alot out! Big thing is is that we have stopped drinking (well more or less) no vino, just the odd beer (a couple here and there) even drinking tea at night!!! Am feeling so much better for it too, much clearer and awake and loads more energy!!! Just eating like a maniac instead!!Heard from mum?? I haven't, need to make the call though, i just don't look forward to hearing the same old crap.All the babes are good and getting loads of big walks, da loo had a swim at yellow mountain the other day but didn't have the camera with me, will start taking it out more. lotsa love rhonxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Then, the phone call yesterday, at 4 a.m. The guy in that picture had just chucked her out of his place, where she'd been spending the night. At 4 a.m. he told her to go home, to drive home. So, she was calling me right after that. She needed to talk about it. Wanted to hear me say everything would be alright? Maybe. But it's not what she got. I was angry. Angry mostly because she's let this man manipulate and control her. Angry that she'd let it happen. Angry because in part, I saw too much of my old self in her actions.

We talked. For over an hour. Well mostly I talked and she listened. She gave me examples of his behaviour. I explained the manipulation in them. I explained that the reason he didn't want her to have any friends, the reason he'd been instrumental in their alienation from her, was so she would have nowhere to turn. I explained the reason he controlled the pace of their drinking was so he could be in charge of her moods, her sobriety. I explained the reason he found her wrong in everything she does, is that he wants her to doubt herself. I explained the reason he gets angry if she has to work late, is that he can't exercise his control over her when she's working and being productive on her own merit. I explained the reason he told her that her independence is a bad thing, is that he doesn't want her to able to walk away.

I explained so many things to her because I have actually lived them. I have been with a man like that. They are so dangerous. They are so damaging. I hope she can stay strong and keep away this time. But I also know that if he beckons to her, she'll go back to him for more. And she knows there will be more of the same. She thinks she can change him. I tried to explain he doesn't want to change, he thinks he's right. He just wants another victim.

I finally told her to please go and get some rest because she was diving in the morning, well in just over three hours from the time I told her to go and lie down. She is a divemaster and leads qualified divers on dive tours, as well as taking newbies on fun shallow dives. That day she was scheduled to do a deep dive, which is nothing to mess around with either for yourself or for the others. We agreed on me giving her a wake-up call in a couple of hours so she could at least rest her eyes.

email on 27 April - hi fion.......managed 2 dives, 35m and 25m!! on one hours sleep.....neil's letting us go early but don't want to go and bump into kirk clearing his gear out. I'm devastated fion and really hurt. Mia is coming round tomorrow night so thats good, i just feel that no one ever sticks sround with me and that i'm always dumped. i dont want to be on my own forever fion and it feels like i will. anyway, thanks for being there fion, i love you lots Rxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I love my sister. I know sometimes it doesn't look that way from what I write about her. But I do love her. I want her to be happy and to have a good life. I want her to find love and a man who is good for her. She hasn't found that man yet. Along the way, she has had some really awful men in her life.

There are some, not that one there, but others who gave her scars. Visible, physical scars, not just the ones on her heart. That guy was another control freak. She's fragile, which is probably what they all see in her. I want to help her to avoid being hurt again. But I can't do it for her, I can only try to share my experiences, my hopes for her. I can only try to guide her and help her. I have finally found the love I never thought I would. I want the same for her. I want to see her smiling again, for the right reasons. It's time.

Friday, April 27, 2007

On Being Not So Young, Not So Beautiful and Not So Slim

Young, beautiful, slim. Prerequisites for having even a smile returned by the jackasses that pass for some men in Hong Kong. Some men? Hmmmm, let me revise that, A LOT of men in Hong Kong.

And it's not only me saying this. Everyone who lives here and is honest, knows it. If you don't fit some sort of preconceived notion they have embedded in their mind, they don't even acknowledge your existence. I'm so sick and tired of it. Sick and tired of being blanked when I smile or say good morning. Sick and tired of the look that makes you think you've trod in doggy doo or something. Sick and tired of them adopting an air of disdain when I'm spotted, because I'm not young or beautiful or slim. As though I shouldn't occupy eye-space. And hell, this attitude isn't even restricted to the good looking young ones!!!

It's so bad here, that we have 90lb women calling themselves 'fat'. And being told they are. I'm ashamed to say that, in the business I'm in, at the specific company I work for, they perpetuate this terrible dependency on aesthetics. Not only must our buildings look beautiful and pleasing, and our furnishings look beautiful and pleasing, and our food look beautiful and pleasing, there are standards for how our employees look, too. Beyond grooming and well-fitting suits, beyond personal hygiene and an ever-present smile. Everything is so formulaic. Size, height, weight, age, jewellery, hairstyle, hair colour, heel height, skirts not trousers for the women. I sometimes wonder how they allow less than perfect looking guests through their doors to ruin the overall 'style' of the place.

I joke with Nooj that I'd never have made the grade to get this job with our current boss, who upholds these traditions of appearance before substance. The sad thing is it's not a joke, it's the truth. Choices are made which have nothing to do with ability and potential, but are made purely based on appearance. There isn't one overweight person working in our hotel here. Well, not in the front of house anyway, not in the line of sight. Even height requirements are there purely because they don't like the look of people of varying heights working behind the front desk, for example.

In this town's terms I'm not young, beautiful or slim. And I'll accept the reality that I'm none of those. HOWEVER, though rushing towards 50, I am ageing reasonably gently; though I'll never win a beauty pageant, I don't frighten the horses; and while I am definitely a plus-size, there's no need for a seat-belt extender when I fly, no POS label from the airline. I'm just not a little petite thing that fits the required mold around here.

Most of the time when I'm blanked, I'll quickly remove the smile and just go into ignore mode. Like, fuck you mister, and the horse you rode in on. But sometimes it hurts. Yes, I know no one can make me feel bad, only I can. Truth is, though, it can hurt. Because I know why they're doing it. I'm not quite good enough in their book, to warrant even a smile or a good morning. If it was some jackass that's like that with everyone I'd accept it. But when they break into a beaming smile and practically climb over me to stand next to the pretty slim thing in the queue at Starbucks, it has the power to make me feel, well, less than I am.

I tell myself inside my head..."Fiona, don't let them get to you", and most days I win the battle. But the days when I'm not really feeling totally confident in my abilities or my looks, no amount of head talk can get me past feeling sensitive about it.

Those are the days, I don't want to be in public. Those are the days I want to take the shortest route from home to work, and back again. Yes, those are the days. The days where even that short distance in between, has the potential to open up that deep dark hole, that vulnerability, inside me again.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Your Kisses Ring, Round and Round and Round My Head

Your love is king,
Crown you in my heart.
Your love is king,
Never need to part.
Your kisses ring,
Round and round and round my head.
Touching the very part of me,
It's making my soul sing.
Tearing the very heart of me.
I'm crying out for more.

Your love is king,
Crown you in my heart.
Your love is king.
You're the ruler of my heart.
Your kisses ring,
Round and round and round my head.
Touching the very part of me,
It's making my soul sing.
I'm crying out for more.
Your love is king.

I'm coming up
I'm coming.
You're making me dance,

Your love is king,
Crown you in my heart.
Your love is king,
Never need to part.
Your kisses ring,
Round and round and round my head.
Touching the very part of me.
It's making my soul sing.
Tearing the very heart of me.
I'm crying out for more.

Touching the very part of me.
It's making my soul sing.
I'm crying out for more.
Your love is king.

This is no
Blind faith.
This is no
Sad and sorry dream.
This is no
Blind faith.
Your love...your love is real...
Gotta crown me with your heart,
Never, never need to part,
Touch me.
I'm coming,
You're making me dance.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men....and Fiona and Her Love...Often Go Awry

Well, the trip may not quite happen as we have prepared for and arranged. We've hit a slight speed-bump due to some scheduling, and our plans may have to be pushed back a little. But neither of us is fazed by this, because we have reached the point where 'Even The Bad Times Are Good' (apologies for the quality and brevity of this clip, I'm amazed I found anything really given the age of this tune!) :

La la la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la la

There are times in this life of mine
I think that the sun forgot how to shine
But as long as you're always there
It don't bother me 'cos why should I care
When all I've gotta do
Is run to you

Even the bad times are good
Soon as I get to you baby
You just gotta hold me
And even the bad times are good

Even the bad times are good
Soon as I get to you baby
You just gotta kiss me
And even the bad times are good

La la la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la la

When the day seems to drag along
And all that I do is workin' out wrong
Still I find that I never cry
As long as I know that you're standing by
Then all I've gotta do
Is run to you

Even the bad times are good
Soon as I get to you baby
You just gotta hold me
And even the bad times are good

Truth be told, even the bad times are wonderful, with this man in my life. He just totally does it for me on all levels. There was a time I'd have been bereft, sad, even angry and wanting to apportion blame somewhere.

Not any more. He has helped me to be more at peace within and with myself. He has helped me to accept everything that comes along with a positive outlook. He has helped me to be a better person.

There's nothing to worry or fret about, we'll be seeing each other soon, we both know that.

And as if to reinforce it all, this is my weekly horoscope:

This week April 23 through April 29 - Scorpio

You are a sensitive and emotional person, and you respond to the intricate nuances of life around you. That's why your sign is considered to be the psychologist of the Zodiac, since you are observant of your own and other people's motivations. This week you may have to deal with quite a bit of change. It will help if you look for the positive aspects of your new life challenges.

Hell to the yeah (as he and I say), I see the positive aspects of it all. Who knows, maybe we'll manage to get SEVEN days and nights if we have to reschedule.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Bigger Half

Usually, when we cleave ourselves away from each other at the end of a trip, there are tears pinching at our eyes. Hot, heavy, salty tears just waiting for the next blink to release them.

This last trip, we parted in laughter. And all because of a mint.

We'd spent a few hours in the airline lounge and upon leaving I reached into the courtesy mint bowl at the door and took a couple. I tucked one into my pocket for later and unwrapped the other to suck on as we made our way slowly to his gate, as he was leaving first.

A tangle of computer bags and arms, and bumping hips and thighs, as we walked slowly, so slowly, to the inevitable parting of the ways. Talking and just enjoying the last few moments together, taking smaller than normal steps to delay for as long as possible, our arrival at his gate. Stopping often to embrace and whisper to each other.

(Warning - food sharing story coming up)

I'm a cruncher then a sucker, so by the time we got to his gate, I'd gnawed through the mint and it was in two halves in my mouth. When he pulled me to him for a kiss at the gate, I pushed one half of the mint into his mouth with my tongue. I could feel him chuckle as he does so love it when I slip my tongue between his lips, but he didn't pull away. Instead we rolled the mint around between our tongues with our lips still locked. Then he pushed it back into my mouth.

Oooooh game on, I'm thinking. I decided to change halves and pushed the other, larger half (well really it was the three-quarter) into his mouth. He pulled away laughing and proceeded to chew on it. He had a wicked smile on his face and cracked up when I blurted out "Oh my god, you took the bigger half." I think I had a pretty incredulous look on my face, and then I cracked up too.

Moral of the story - don't risk the bigger half unless you're prepared to lose it!!!

By the way, as an aside, he has the sexiest mouth ever and I live in a constant need to press my lips to his.

For once the parting was of laughter and smiles, not tears and that stricken look that only lovers know. It felt so good to have that lightness of being, that sharing of fun right up until the last moment. To separate with the sound of each other's laughter ringing in our ears.

Oh, and very sticky, minty lips.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Little Bit of Fun

There's really nothing quite like tarty white bread. This was the favourite bread and baked goods supplier in Tenerife (and available in most Spanish-speaking territories).

Oh yes, the famous 'homo sausage'. Actually I consumed quite a few of these Japanese meaty snacks in my youth. Until I realised I couldn't identify just what meat it was. Inside that packaging, the sausage is encased in a thick plastic tube secured at both ends with a metal clip. That alone should have put me off.

A favourite of British households, the good old 'spotted dick'. Sponge and raisin pudding to those not in the know.

What can I say...we Scots take our oatmeal very seriously, to the point of categorising the consumer on the packaging.

These are, again, found in the Spanish-speaking world and I couldn't believe my eyes when I first discovered them. Filipino being a native of The Philippines. They come in dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate.

Judging from the translation of 'Ritz' into Chinese characters, these are for the China (or Taiwan) market. I haven't seen them for sale here, but I'm guessing Blueberry Cheese is an acquired taste.

Aaaah good old collon biscuits. What can I say?

When you're thirsty, bet you want to reach for a bottle of sweat too!!

'For Musicians With Lips', now there's a market waiting to be tapped.

The blurb on this is: "Toilet paper Hemo-Roll is 3 plies hygienic product. The coloured side of a piece of Hemo-Roll tissue paper contains a herb micro-layer of an extract from oak bark, marigold and common yarrow, with easeful effects on rectum." Got to love those easeful effects on one's rectum.

This would be classified as racist...if it wasn't actually made in China for the Chinese market!

Updated 24 May, subsequent to s*'s comment....

Friday, April 20, 2007

What's On Your Keyring?

I have:

Two house door keys, two letterbox keys (don't know why I keep my spare there too!), two office keys and my office desk key.

A carabiner so I can hook it all to my backpack loop when I travel. There's nothing worse than thinking you've lost your housekeys when you're travelling. I thought I had once, and then found them packed in my suitcase. So now they are clipped into my backpack, safe and sound, for the duration of my trip.

A big red plastic heart I got for free with one of the coolest mousepads ever, the top was gel encased in clear plastic, with little sperms floating around, which moved as you slid your mouse over the pad. Nooj and I had one each at work until they got 'noticed'.

A 'horny angel' tag (whistles innocently) I picked up in London on my last visit. Nooj has a blue one that says 'bootylicious'. Sistahs!

My HSBC online banking code generator. Those things are so cool.

Oh and last but not least, barely discernible is my 'kiss token' which I gave to my man on my last trip and collected back when he redeemed it. And boy did he ever redeem it (insert huge grin right now)!! I suspect that little disc will be travelling between our hands A LOT on this next trip ;)

So, what do you guys have on yours?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sublime Anticipation

In 16 days I'll be on my way again. Wow, we really managed to plan ahead this time, which is great. No frustration over full planes and last-minute bookings, no stress over a sudden and unplanned absence from work.

Just wonderful, glorious 'looking forward to' feelings. Aaaaaaah I do cherish him. I do appreciate him. I do adore him. I do want him. I do treasure him. I do love him. I do need him. And damnit, I will have him. In 16 days.

And he'll have me too. This time for *swoons*.....

Myspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter Graphics Myspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter Graphics Myspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter Graphics

days and nights. SIX!!!

Of course, I want him forever, but until then I'll take the six.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Language of My Roots

They don't speak English in Scotland. And I'm not talking about Gaelic, the language of my ancestors. Once in danger of being exterminated, a Gaelic renaissance has slowed this trend, if not yet reversed it.

I'm talking about their normal everyday speech. I need an interpreter when I'm there. I can handle Edinburgh, where it's ever so 'refeened' but anywhere else, I'm lost. And oh my goodness in little Lower Burnmouth, with those accents, I just nod and smile and hope that's an appropriate response to whatever is being discussed. I sometimes think though, that they call me 'yon nodding nugget' behind my back.

Scottish Vernacular Dictionary

It's an interesting language, to be sure. To wit:

cuntybuggeryfucktoleybumshite : the ultimate Scottish swear word (yes, it's one word) - now how colourful is that!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Introducing My New Skin

My favourite colours, my favourite 'theme' of mosaics.

I love them because of the way those little tiles can stand alone and be beautiful. Then you combine them to make something else.

Little bits and pieces of something special, coming together to form a larger image. The detail of which has the power to fascinate.

A bit like each of us :)

Note: Thank you Se7en at Blogs Gone Wild for your patience with me!!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Right Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

There really is just one word for rotator cuff tendinitis - Ouch!!!

I've tried treating it with anti-inflammatories. That didn't work. So, on Saturday, I had a cortisone injection into the shoulder. The specialist told me that out of 100 people, 90 will find it helps, while 10 will experience greater pain for a few days. Guess which category I fell into. Uh huh, the latter.

I hope it gets better soon, it keeps me up at night. And if I'm going to be kept up at night, trust me I'd rather it was something else other than a sore shoulder. Plus, it's getting almost impossible to reach up and back to hook and release my over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder!!!

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Conversation With My Mother

We haven't spoken since just before Easter. I was going to call her yesterday and then the phone rang at work and it was her. Nooj picked it up as I was over at her desk with her. They had a nice little chat, how's Eshaan and so on. Nooj told her that I'd been to visit with him the night before, but that she'd leave me to tell her about it. Then she transferred the call back to my desk.

This is how it went (as verbatim as I can recall) :

Me: "Hello Mum, how are you doing? I was going to call you later."

Mum: "Oh, ok, just getting the cats ready to take to the vet for their shots."

Me: "Is someone helping you?"

Mum: "Yes, Sheridan is going to drive me there and help with the lifting."

Me: "That's good, she's such a great friend."

Mum: "Anyway I'm calling because my wine hasn't arrived. Are you sure you ordered it?"

(To avoid my mother having to carry heavy bottles of wine - she consumes about a bottle a day - I help by ordering it online, using her credit card, and have it delivered to her door. When she is running low, she calls me and I place another order for a couple of cases.)

Me: "Yes, I ordered it the day you called me. And I got a confirmation back from them."

Mum: "Well it's still not here and I know it's going to arrive this morning while I'm out."

Me: "Let me just go into the Waitrose account and I'll check the order status."

Tap tap tap as I login and go to the account.

Mum: "It's going to arrive and I won't be here to accept it."

Me: "Just give me a second, I'm logging into the account."

Mum: "Are you sure you didn't forget."

Me: As I continue doing the old logging in bit and going to the order page, etc. "Yes I'm sure."

Me: "Yes there it is, ordered on the 4th, the day we spoke. There's a note saying it takes five working days so that would be (counting the days on my calendar) Thursday then Tuesday Wednesday....."

Mum (interrupting) : "It's going to get here while I'm out today and they'll not be able to deliver it."

Me (continuing) : "Thursday Friday. I'd say Friday or Saturday at the latest."

Mum: "What?"

Me: "Mum, there was Easter in between and it says working days."

Mum: "I'm going to miss the delivery this morning when it comes."

Me: "It's Thursday today, I'd say it will arrive tomorrow according to their delivery note."

Mum: "Well I've been out of wine since yesterday."

Me: "Well next time order the bloody stuff yourself or get one of your other children to help you." (ok ok I only thought that, I didn't say it)

Me: "I'm sorry about that but it's beyond my control. I guess it's a good lesson for us for the next order around a holiday period."

Mum: "Well I have to go now to get the cats to the vet."

Me: "Ok. Well it was nice to hear from you. Take care."

Mum: "Bye."

Nooj: "Don't let her get to you Fiona."

Me: "I know Nooj, but fuck's sake she didn't even ask me about my evening with Eshaan."

Nooj: "Next time tell her to get Callum or Rhona to do it. Tell her you're sick and tired of being the only one who helps her." (I swear that woman reads my mind!)

Me: "I don't think she trusts them with her credit card information."

I suppose I should feel honoured in some way that she trusts me enough to have given me her credit card information. Aren't I the lucky one!

Update 16 April. Email from Rhona:

"Spoke to mum a couple of days ago...........asked if she'd spoken to you..........
said she had, about the wine delivery !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
unbelievable fion............then asked about callum, says he phones once a week and how wonderful he is but doesn't say much!!!........puke!!!!!"
I read that and big, hot, salty tears spilled from my eyes. Why does it bother me so much?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What's Bothering Me

I've tried to hide it, cover it up, pretend it's not there, make it less important than it is. I've tried to hide my angst by blogging about a visit to the wet market, flavours of my childhood, my evening with a family I adore.

But nothing is working. The thing is this. My sister is in meltdown again. And I'm at the point where I'm not sure how to help. But more than that, I'm not sure I want to help. I'm tired, so tired of it all. I'm tired of being her surrogate parent. I'm tired of shoring up her frailties. I'm tired of taking care of her, in truth.

She lives in Tenerife, Canary Islands. She has done for the past seven years, when she came over at the time I was returning to Hong Kong. She happily took on the running of my business, ultimately almost destroyed it, thankfully managed to sell it. She has had my apartment there rent-free in exchange for taking care of my dog and two cats, whom I had to leave there when I returned to Hong Kong. Now, she wants to leave but she doesn't know where she wants to go. Doesn't know how she'll survive when she gets there. One thing is for certain, wherever it is she ends up, it won't include the use of a free apartment and it's time I stopped supplementing her finances as she's unable to earn enough to live on, even without having to pay rent. In fact the only thing she does know is that she wants to dump all the animals onto me now. After telling me two years ago I couldn't have my dog back because he was more hers, than mine. And accused me of having trapped her with them, including her own dog. I couldn't see the logic in that little detail I'm afraid.

She wants to go into rehab. A private facility, maybe back in the UK. No, she doesn't know how she can pay for it. But she did at one stage say to me: "Once mum is gone I can use the money I get, for it." She's counting the days to our mother's death, to go into rehab?! I can't tell you how sick I felt when I heard that. A few years ago, because my father was strong enough to say 'no' to her, I paid for her to fly back and forth to the UK for therapy and treatment. It cost me a small fortune and she decided she didn't like where it was going because she was told no drinking with the drugs she was prescribed. For a while she took both. And even OD'd on valium and whatever anti-depressant she was on, one night in a drunken depression. Great - talk about stupidity, take drugs to lift the depression then drink to bring it back, all in one go.
Her most recent boyfriend has just left her. But to be honest I'm not sad about it. They are both alcohol-dependent, in different ways. She drinks a lot every day, he drinks every other day to the point of being virtually catatonic. Then the next day he'll have nothing. When he's not drinking, he still encourages her to drink. When he's drinking, she encourages him by being there when he needs to be taken home. I tried to explain co-dependency to her while I was there, when I witnessed this for the first time. I tried to explain enabling destructive behaviour in each other. She just got drunk, and angry at me.

So now she wants rehab for her alcoholism. Oh, sorry, no, she's not an alcoholic, she says. Because she only drinks in the evening. Drinks until the house is dry then goes down the road to the nearest bar and drinks any money she has away (yes, I realise I'm enabling her to do that). Drinks to the point that in the early hours of one morning, recently, a stranger found her on the pavement near home, unable to get back to the apartment. He picked her up and got her home. I still don't think she realises how lucky she was, that it was that particular stranger who found her. But no, she's not an alcoholic because she 'controls' her drinking she tells me. I breathed deeply, counted to ten and then proceeded to tell her that she is totally out of control and all she has is some structure to her alcohol-dependency, but absolutely no control over it whatsoever.

The arrows of accusation were fired out at me. You can never understand, you have never had a problem with alcohol. Well, actually, I understand better than she thinks, because she's talking to someone who, 10 years ago, used to have a bottle of vodka in her desk at work. She then said, I never saw you drink, as though only those you see drinking, have a drinking problem. I told her, not everyone makes a show of their weaknesses. Another arrow, well then when did you give it up? When I saw what it was doing to someone I cared about. Someone I wanted to help more than I wanted to help myself by leaving. I actually didn't touch a drop for over five years. And only recently have I taken to having a social drink once in a blue moon, and only with one person.

So, she believes she'll walk into a rehab clinic and they will 'cure' her. Like flipping a switch. I tried to explain that any switch has to be flipped by her own desire to stop this self-destruction. To first of all take ownership of it and deal with it. No one can do it for her. My sister can find responsibility in everything and everyone else, for her failures, for her drinking, for what she doesn't have. Her ex-boyfriend got married recently and they are expecting their first baby. She tells me that should have been her. I said, it's not you Rhona because he didn't want to spend his life with the likes of you, not the way you are at the moment. So it's because of x, y and z that she drinks, all external factors. Truth is, even when in the happiest periods of her life, she has reached for the bottle.

Alcoholism. As I've said, I've dealt with it before. I've been pulled down in its clutches because I cared. I've been almost destroyed financially and emotionally, because I cared. I cared enough to put time and resources into getting that person the help he needed. And which he ultimately threw back in my face, every single time. I cared enough to believe I could make enough of a difference to his life to make him want to change. I was wrong. I just can't do that again. Maybe I'm failing her. Maybe this IS the time she'll make it happen. Maybe I'm stealing her future from her by not just paying for her rehab, paying for somewhere to stay, paying for a new start for her, taking all her responsibilities away.

But I want to have my own life now. I want to make my own plans, and they don't include looking after her. For the past seven years they have, directly. And for many years before that, she had an impact on my savings. I will have to make some decisions about my animals (though I refuse to take her dog), some of which will break my heart. But I know what I have to do for my beloved Lupo, for him to have a life of quality, and sadly that means not being with me. One of the cats couldn't make the trip back here, he's getting on and is a little frail and the journey from Hong Kong all those years ago nearly did him in then. But I know I can make whatever decisions I have to.

Am I being heartless? Should I be looking after her, and out for her, like I have been doing? Is it fair to turn my back now? Am I going to end up one more reason she will use, to excuse her own self-destructive nature?


The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things.
Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

Update 16 April - she listened !!! (back with the co-dependent alcoholic though) :

hiya fion...............All is ok here at the moment, went sailing yesterday and had to do a capsize!! All good fun though and better than spending the day in the friggin pub!! Me n kirk are on day 4 of no drinking!!!! Well the odd beer but literally the odd one so no drunkeness and what a difference it feels. Soooooooooooo much better and I so prefer it this way!!!!! Mind is sharper, not so tired and much more fun being sober!!!!

The Night of the Momo-chas

Thick heavy dough hand-formed around a mixture of meat and delicate herbs and spices, steamed to perfection and dipped into searingly hot chili chutney. That is the way of the momo-cha.

I had dinner at Nooj's place last night, her mum cooked and I spent time with her and her parents and the joy of her life, her little boy. And we ate such good food. Her mum is just an awesome cook and one of the sweetest, most endearingly kind women I have known! Her dad is a retired ghurka, the warriors of Nepal, in fact the highest ranking ghurka in the British army in Hong Kong at the time. A wonderfully gentle and spiritual man, though he seems to be withdrawing as he gets older. He even apologised to me as he saw me safely to a taxi, for not being as talkative as usual, but he feels less open with his thoughts these days, for fear that people are not interested in them. I told him I always would be.

Eshaan gets more gorgeous every time I see him. We tested each other on alpha and numeric flashcards, he needed to make sure I knew my stuff too. He still has a fascination with my boobs, they were grabbed a couple of times during the evening. I told him that had to stop by the time he's 20. He also insisted on a full frontal by running through to me at bathtime showing me all his bits, and again I told him that had to stop by the time he's 20.

He'll be 3 in a couple of months and it's hard to see how quickly he's growing up! Seems like just yesterday he arrived into the world. Nooj is an amazing mum and it's awesome to see her with him. And to think I knew her when she was just exiting her teens! She and I have come a long way together and our friendship just gets stronger.

I am blessed to have this family in my life.

I've been preoccupied with food posts recently, I can't deny it. When stressed, uncertain or fearful, I used to seek out food and developed a very unhealthy relationship with it. Many years ago I was caught up in the binge/purge cycle and perhaps this is some sort of virtual reincarnation of that way of life. Albeit a less damaging approach.

I know I often speak of the 'unusual' when it comes to food. Someone once said to me that he felt we were different because of the foods we ate in our daily lives, almost as though he was citing irreconcilable differences. But let me tell you I can also chow down on a burger with the best of them. Not to mention fajitas, steak, ribs and the like.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Flavours of Childhood

Anna's comments on soyamilk made me think about how our palates develop. I'd never thought twice about drinking soyamilk and have been doing it since my childhood days. Before it became a healthy option to dairy milk in the western world.

At school, the midmorning break was a bottle of Vitasoy. Kept warm for the cold winter days in a big metal chest filled with hot water, which was replaced with iced water to chill it for the summer months.

and a Bor Law Bao/Pineapple Crust Bun

Nothing to do with pineapples, named so for the way it looks. It's actually a plain bread bun topped with this lovely crunchy sugary, slightly nutty tasting concoction that crumbles away as you eat it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My Eyes

He said the sweetest thing to me when we were together this last trip, relating to this post, which I wrote back in August.

Out of the blue, he took my face between his hands and looked deeply into my eyes. Then he told me that my right eye is beginning to look more like my left eye. I put my hands over his and smiled at him. He smiled back and then leant into me, and kissed both my eyelids.

And you know what? I think he's right. And I know his love and his nurturing, his belief in me, are behind me starting to feel softer, more comfortable, less guarded. And for the first time in my life, I feel loved, for being me.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Wet Market

I visited the wet market today, I had such a yearning for fresh fruit and veggies. I could have gone to the fancy supermarket where everything is right there, in air-conditioned comfort, but I just love the wet market.

Lines of the freshest of fresh veggies and fruit (I stay away from the meat section, the smell puts me off) it's difficult not to want all of it. And one of the main delights, the vendors. Mostly little old ladies who cackle away with delight at me when I speak to them in Cantonese. Lots of praise for how well I speak it and of course as is the culture here, you must deny such compliments. So it's a barrage of "waaah, ho leck" and me "mo, mo, ngo jungmun m hai gai ho" (translation: the old lady "wow, you are so clever", and my reply "no, no, my Chinese isn't very good"). They love a little bit of a barter and always give me a little gift of a tomato or a small bunch of green onions. That's their way of being gracious with a sale.

Today I decided I'd have some stir fried snow pea shoots for dinner. To make this I use:

a drizzle of this in the bottom of my wok

to which I add a little:

some chopped:

and julienned:

and then a couple, or three (I do love chilis and these are lovely little hot ones), of these thinly sliced:

those really are my 'holy trio' of cooking (garlic, ginger, hot chilis)

and when those start to cook in the very hot pan, I add my snow pea shoots:

and stir fry very quickly for about a minute, that's all these little fellas need:

and voila, a really delicious and extremely healthy meal, served with a little steamed brown rice.

Oh and I was in luck, the soybean stall still had some fresh soymilk so I got a bottle of that. It's so incredibly good fresh like that, no additives, no sugar. Deliciously nutty.

I exit each stall with an exchange of "joy geen"s....which is literally 'again see'. Can't wait for my next visit.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


You split me,
tore my heart open,
filled me with love.
You poured your spirit into me;
I knew you as I know myself.

Speaking waters touched me
from your fountain, the source of life.
I swallowed them and was drunk
with the water that never dies.
And my drunkenness was insight,
intimacy with your spirit.

And you have made all things new;
you have showed me all things shining.
You have granted me perfect ease;
I have become like Paradise,
a garden whose fruit is joy;
and you are the sun upon me.

My eyes are radiant with your spirit;
my nostrils fill with your fragrance.
My ears delight in your music,
and my face is covered with your dew.

~ The Odes of Solomon ~

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Mentoring Part 1

(Oh my goodness, I never realised this would end up to be such a long post, so I'm breaking it into two parts)

Mentoring -- from the Greek Mentor, a friend of Odysseus entrusted with the education of Odysseus' son Telemachus -- is defined as a sustained relationship between a youth and an adult. Through continued involvement, the adult offers support, guidance, and assistance as the younger person goes through a difficult period, faces new challenges, or works to correct earlier problems. In modern management, it denotes the relationship between one more experienced and one less experienced, and the process of sharing in order to help the less experienced person advance in their career.

Sometimes mentors are thrust upon us according to programmes companies implement, sometimes we find our mentor more naturally, by chance or fate, or because we are simply meant to share in this way.

But first, a little personal history:

In 1977 I finished my A Levels at a crammer in Kent, England, after completing Form 5 only two years earlier in Hong Kong, with one GCSE, in English Language. And as a native English speaker, to have failed that would have been virtually impossible. I felt so defeated, at no point during my school years was there any indication I wasn't learning the right stuff, nor enough of it. I also knew that I had to remedy this, and do that fast, so I got hold of a directory of independent schools in the UK and pored over it, finally selecting a small crammer in Sevenoaks, Kent which specialised in people like me! I sought and obtained my dad's approval and he and my mum took a visit over to check it out. I'll be forever grateful to him, because although he couldn't really afford it, he dug deep for me to get me back on track.

So, over the next two years I studied for, and obtained, five O Levels (English, English Literature, History, Geography, Biology) in the first year and then two A Levels (English and History) in the second year. I'm really not sure how this equates to the US system, except that with the A Level qualifications, you are ready for University entrance.

I still wonder how I finished my standard education without anyone realising I hadn't actually had one - it wasn't about not studying or applying myself. Because I did. The school certainly left a lot to be desired but still, how did I get to be almost 17 and at the end of an important period of education, with that measly qualification in my hand? And how, five years before that, had everyone allowed me to totally cease any kind of mathematical learning because I couldn't keep up? I do accept that no one had diagnosed my difficulties in mastering anything mathematical, as being rooted in my being discalculic.

Anyway, after pushing myself through those two years of hell (I really had no grounding in anything in the syllabus), I came home with very unstructured career thoughts. The crammer, I later found out, specialised in educating 'the landed gentry', you know, Lady this and Countess that - to give you an indication, though these names may not mean much to many, I spent those years with the likes of (name dropping) The Hon. Laura Lloyd of Lloyd's Bank, Lady Liza Campbell of Cawdor Castle, one of the Guinness girls and Christa d'Souza who is a renowned journalist and an Editor with Vogue. (I really liked Laura and Christa!)

The careers counsellor who met with us all at the end of our A Level examinations had only one suggestion for me - social worker. Back in Hong Kong, my thoughts were stuck at: either a journalist, speech therapist, or probation officer. I had enough academic qualifications for somewhere to accept me, though it certainly wouldn't have been a first or even second tier university. The problem was, my family couldn't afford it. As we had lived in Hong Kong so long, I no longer qualified as a 'home' student in the UK and the fees for overseas students were exorbitant. My dad had already cashed in his life insurance policy to pay for my two years in the crammer.

So I lazed around at home, pissed off a bit about not being able to pursue my goals (Hong Kong only had one University at the time and you might as well forget that unless you had at least five A Levels, the competition to get in was that fierce). I moped and moped around the house, annoying both my parents, for several months, not knowing what to do next, until my dad lost his patience with me. He came home one day and said: "Right, you're going to secretarial college." Oh.My.God. He wanted me to be 'just' a secretary. JUST a secretary. I was aghast. That he thought so little of me. I'm not putting secretaries down, goodness knows my career started off there, but in those days it was already considered a non-career choice.

Aghast, but still a conformer, I enrolled in a local college specialising in secretarial studies, in their one-year 'Diploma in Executive Secretarial Studies'. And I excelled. Top of the class. The college actually put me to work before I'd finished the course, in their temporary division, helping with high-profile police transcription cases. I had to sign the Official Secrets Act. Then when I finished the course I had such high shorthand speeds they were pushing me to be a court reporter. I didn't fancy that so I went to work for them in their temporary division, placing people for them. That was after turning down a teaching job with them. I had NO experience and really didn't want to teach when I hadn't actually worked anywhere yet.

After a while, my father heard of a job in a company where he knew the Managing Director, so being the good little girl that I was, I went to be a secretary in the world of measuring and weighing cargo. Oh and tallying too....hey mister tallyman, tally me bananas. Gosh, the excitement of it all was almost too much to take!!! I excelled there too, well it wasn't exactly a huge stretch, and ended up the Managing Director's Personal Assistant, but the scope and nature of the work was just so utterly boring. And there was never enough to do. I used to have to pace myself to make sure I had some work to keep me busy in the afternoons. Plus the office was right next to my dad's so my work life for five long years was pretty much an extension of my home life (I was still living at home) and finally I decided to quit.

Oh boy, that didn't go down well. I was quitting before I'd found another job. It took me a good long while and lots of interviews, with lots of offers, and lots of temporary assignments to keep some money coming in, but I just had to find something interesting. I was offered a great job with an amazing salary, working for someone in the bathroom fixtures and fittings business (yes, ladies and gentlemen, the TOILET business), and when I turned it down my father actually said to me: "Fiona, you'll never work again!" I laughed, I just knew something right would come along for me.

And that is when I had the amazing good fortune to find myself working for Peggy, an incredible woman who has influenced my life in the greatest and deepest of ways. She became my mentor for five extraordinary years and is a lifelong friend.

Left to right - Fiona, Peggy, Lydia (August 1985)

...to be continued.....

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

It's Open

Remember this ?

It's open now.

While I Work on My Next Post

Which requires me to scan an old photograph (yes people, you're about to see what I looked like 22 years ago!!!), here's a little something to keep you entertained.....

Testriffic IQ test

Me, a universal genius. Hahahahahahahaha riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!!!!

Give it a whirl if you like, and enjoy.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Upon reading through the blogs I missed while I was away, I came upon the fact that both Fusion and Oblivion have nominated me as a "Thinking Blogger"!!! Who?? Me??!!!

I'm honoured and more than a little humbled that two great bloggers would think that of me.

The rules:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think, not including the one who nominated you.

2. Link to This Post so that people can find the exact origin of the meme.

3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.

My five are (bearing in mind I can't vote for those who have voted for me) :

Steve - he's been a little quiet of late, but I'm hoping that he gets back to writing more, to sharing more of his thoughts.

Sunny - this woman is my dear dear friend and constantly inspires me to think, and even challenge my own thinking.

Sally - will just come out and say it. Like it is. She'll make you laugh, make you cry and help you understand.

Deb - I truly am in awe of this wonderful woman. She meets her challenges with such dignity and integrity. She's a beautiful, insightful writer.

Ian - this sensitive, thoughtful man has no doubt been voted for elsewhere. But he's definitely on my list too.

I couldn't stop at five, so I'm adding an additional two (I never did like too much rigidity):

Jonas - what an exceptional mind and ability to express, this man has.

Mist1 - one thing's for sure, Mist will make you think about things you've probably not thought about before - or at least never admitted to it!

Like I said, I'm honoured and humbled and I really don't feel I have a place on any such list. All I do is tell it like it is, and I let the thinking come from that.

Home Again

Though this isn't the home where I want to be. I'm now only truly at home when I'm with him. It's getting harder and harder and harder to leave this man. And easier and easier and easier to run into his arms. To be held and loved as only he ever has, me. To hold and love as only I ever have, him.

We had the most fabulous, amazing, awesome, phenomenal time. Just beyond all expectation. Our love grows leaps and bounds, our comfort with each other settles into the depth of our being. We talk, we laugh, we share, we cry and most of all we love, love, love when we're together.

I can't even seem to find words right now to express how I feel about him...it's beyond words. I've never known anything like this. It's so intensely personal.

So instead of speaking of our love, let me tell you about some of the highlights of the trip. I got to see loads of these and for someone who hasn't seen a cow close up, in real life, it was such a treat!!!!

When I thought it couldn't get any better, we stopped in amazement at the sight of two of these in a field right by the road:

Not quite full size but unmistakably bison!!!! And there was one little fellow who was trying to roll over in the dirt and couldn't seem to understand he has a hump on his shoulders that stopped him getting beyond midpoint. It was the funniest thing to watch him keep trying and the older one just looked at him as if to say "dude it's not going to happen".

We drove and drove and drove and saw incredibly beautiful countryside with woods and rivers and some gentle rapids and really lovely farms. Things I haven't seen before. We ate good food, had a few local delicacies and one evening had the best:

with these for our dessert instead of pre-dinner drinks:

I need him.

I want him.

I love him.

My arms and my heart are open to him. And so are his, to me.


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