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Tuesday, July 31, 2007


The last time I spoke with my mother was just over a month ago. No, wait, she called me a couple of weeks ago just to ask me to order some wine for her sister. She couldn't stay to talk as she was expecting a neighbour around.

So today, I thought, okay Fiona, it's time to reach out. So I called and we chatted a little. Of course about her neighbours. She mentioned she hadn't heard from Rhona for a while but I told her that she'd been very busy, and she has been. After she told me about the neighbour with something wrong with her hand, as yet undiagnosed after almost a year, thanks to the 'wonderful' national health system, I thought I'd hop in with an update about my shoulder. She'd forgotten I have a problem with my shoulder. My tale of the problem with the MRI was met with her telling me about my dad's similar problems (of which I'm very familiar). I tried to tell her that the final decision seems to be bursitis, but she was more interested in talking over me about her friend's problems.

Then she said: "Oh, while you're on the phone, could you order some wine?" Yes, of course, is it the usual mixed case of white? Yes. I took the opportunity to mention that the last order she asked me to arrange, I sent as a gift to her and she said: "Yes, I know, I saw the little note on the box. I meant to say thank you. But I don't want you doing that." I said well, now and then I like to make it a bit special by sending it as a gift. She just said, okay and that was that. Alrighty then.

The reason I called her was that I wanted to tell her my happy news. I really wanted to, I wanted her to be happy for me. But I didn't. I didn't say a word about it. I didn't even tell her I'll be away for a few days. I don't need to, she won't be calling me, I've taken care of the wine for a few weeks. To be honest, after my conversation with her, she took the wind out of my sails. I tried so hard to make that a really upbeat and positive call, gearing up to tell her how happy I am, but she pulled me back down. Everything I told her about me, she had to compare me with someone else. She made me feel inferior, less important than a neighbour. I guess I thought she might do the same with my happiness. I don't know why I thought it would be any different.

I've long since stopped wondering why she's like this. But why, oh why, does this sort of thing even bother me any more?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Fun in the Sun

My heart is full and my mind is being severly tested today at work, as I roll into the last four days before my trip. So I leave you with some pics my sister sent me over the weekend. Here is the gang having fun in the sun....

...Lupo has a tendency to let it all hang out when he sits....we call it his 'lipstick'

Friday, July 27, 2007

One Man's Meat (Vegetarians Beware)

Fresh Meat Seized at Border

More than 24kg (53lb) of illegal fresh meat was seized at the Man Kam To border checkpoint in the past two days. Customs found 10.7kg (23.5lb) of chicken, 6.4kg (14lb) of mutton and 5kg (11lb) of pork in a mainland woman's baggage at 11:30pm in the arrival hall. Also, a Hong Kong woman was intercepted with 1.3kg (2.8lb) of pork and 700gm (1.5lb) of chicken on Monday.

When I read this little snippet in the paper the other day, all I could think of was how hot it is here right now. We're talking 36C+ (97F+) and hotter in some parts, especially the enclosed immigration areas at the border. Actually, if you take the heat index (combining temperature and humidity to give an approximation of how hot it 'feels' due to the inability for the body to cool itself down by perspiring), it's way up at 61C (143F). Something tells me that meat isn't going to be fresh for long. It IS an indication, however, of the cost of fresh or chilled meat here, and the efforts to which some people will go to reduce their grocery bills. It's really quite astronomical when you venture beyond the 'produce of China' label.

While the mainland woman was clearly transporting enough to supply a market stall, the other woman was, I suspect, just bringing home dinner.

That's a picture of a local meat market. It hangs in the open, in the heat, helped along by big hot lights. You select your choice of cut and it's placed on an old wooden block, cleaned only by a casual wipe of a dirty cloth (clearly visible at the bottom of the picture, centre). The cleaver gets the same cleansing treatment from one use to the other. Local 'flavour' to be sure.

Now, I do love me a good piece of steak, cooked medium rare, but suffice to say I eat only meat imported from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, etc. I avoid anything local or from the mainland and you can probably understand why.

Warning(s) in Force


The Very Hot Weather Warning is now in force.

The Hong Kong Observatory is forecasting very hot weather
in Hong Kong tomorrow. The risk of heatstroke is high.
When engaged in outdoor work or activities, do drink plenty
of water and avoid over exertion. If not feeling well, take
a rest in the shade or cooler place as soon as possible.

People staying indoors without air-conditioning should keep
windows open as far as possible to ensure that there is
adequate ventilation.
The Hong Kong Observatory advises that prolonged exposure
under sunlight is to be avoided. Loose clothing, suitable
hats and UV-absorbing sunglasses can reduce the chance of
sunburn by solar ultraviolet radiation.
Swimmers and those taking part in outdoor activities should
use a sunscreen lotion of SPF 15 or above, and should
re-apply it frequently.


Guess who's not going to venture far from the air-con today!!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sea Change

On our next to last trip, right at the end of it, we experienced something quite earth-shattering. A moment unparalleled. And no, before anyone thinks along those lines, it wasn't part of any physical act.

It had been a long day driving, we'd started off from the place where we'd been staying for the past five days. Our journey took us through beautiful untamed areas with not a soul in sight for miles and miles and miles. Hardly any other traffic on the road. We drove through woods and by the sides of rivers, some close enough to dip our toes into, had we wished. Some with gently rolling waters, others with tumbling rapids. The sun was shining and it was a perfect day. We talked and laughed and drank cold sodas and ate chips. When we got hungry, we stopped at a lovely little out-of-the-way restaurant where a young woman did the ordering, cooking and cashiering, and her adorable little girl of about four brought us our change. We ate cheese soup and burgers.

By early evening we'd arrived at our destination, our last night together at the airport hotel as we had an early flight to catch back to the major hub, from where we'd be going our separate ways again. We got to the room and did a quick check of our emails, having just returned from five days in the wild with no online access and not even cell phone services.

Feeling a bit tired but wanting to go out for dinner, we decided to lie down for a little while, to rest. Snuggling into the queen-sized bed with its soft, welcoming pillows and duvet, we lay face-to-face and started talking. We spoke of our love for each other, of our respect for each other, of our pride in each other. As we spoke, our hearts opened up to each other and something magical happened, which to this day I still can't properly put into words.

It was a supreme awareness of each other as a source of love. It was the most amazing connection with another person I've ever known. We spoke of so many things, we shared so many things, but nothing could interfere with the incredible bonding that was happening between our souls. There was an intense, almost unbearable sense of feeling, as though a thousand sharp edges were piercing at my skin but at the same time they were tempered by a rolling smooth softness of comfort. We looked into each other's eyes and saw our own truths in their depths. It was as though every secret, even unspoken, was heard between us. We breathed as one, with a single heartbeat.

My love and I have spoken of that evening many times and we still cannot truly explain it, not to ourselves, not to each other. What he has said to me is: "I caught a glimpse of your soul, and I saw myself, reflected back to me, what I was in your eyes... in love, only natural, in peace, in our Oneness, in Our joined wholeness... and I couldn't even imagine seeing anything more beautiful in my life." We know that it was a defining moment in our relationship. I think it was the moment we knew we had to be together, properly, forever. It was the moment of our absolute truth. The moment we started to travel in a direction to fulfil our destiny.

It was our sea change.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Love, Expressed

Love is not love
Which alters when
it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover
to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixèd mark
That looks on tempests
and is never shaken.

~ William Shakespeare ~

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Today I have an appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon to look at options regarding my shoulder. Update : Well he has put his knives away and we're going to continue trying to treat this without surgery. He's not worried about the small tears and feels they will heal over time. However, the MRI shows a large amount of fluid around one of the bursa. He gave me another corticosteroid injection right into it this time. May I just say, holy hell that needle went in a long way in and hurt, hurt, HURT. He commented that there was seepage of the bursal fluid when he took the needle out but I'm unsure if that's a good thing or not. Right now my entire shoulder aches from the shot but I'm hoping it will have me good to go in just over a week ;)

Today I have enlisted the help of the CEO's PA to keep putting my leave request on the top of his in-tray until he signs it. Update : I got it approved!!

Today I shall start negotiating with some hotels for my visit plans. I refuse to pay rack and usually settle for around 50% off. Hey I'm in the industry! Update : I've just discovered that the new head of the department currently works for the hotel company with the nicest hotel there so I've asked her to see what influence she has to get me a severely reduced rate (would have to be, given their rack rates!!)

Today I have quite a few items to knock off my things-to-do-list. Update: Getting there, slowly.

Today I realised that Philip has given me an odd haircut which is shorter at the back, at the nape of my neck, than at the sides, which are longer. I hope that's what he meant to do! Update : It feels like a modified mullet.

Today is my second day of being GOOD about my eating. Update : Still being good :)

Today I woke up loving someone just that little bit more than I did yesterday. Update : And I got to speak with him before he settles in for the evening. He's so wonderful :) :) :) :) :) :)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Happily Ever After

Once upon a time, two people in far-off lands said hello via words on a screen. A year later, almost to the day, they have made their first step into the future together. It was a painful but necessary step, and one which will change the lives of several. And soon, there will be another step, thankfully a less emotional one. But one nonetheless as life-changing as the first.

Sometimes, there really can be a happily ever after. And this woman never, not as a little girl, not as a teenager, not as a young woman, nor even as a mature woman, ever thought that there would be a prince charming for her.

She has learned that there is, and that he wants her as much as she wants him. And he has learned that there is a woman who will appreciate and love him, who will value and respect him.

For both of them, they have discovered a love neither ever imagined, could exist.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Yes, I'm tripping, literally and figuratively. I've never felt as excited as I do, right now. We really, REALLY need this time together.

Yesterday, miracles of miracles, we had an opportunity open up for us to see each other in a couple of weeks' time. Within 15 minutes, we had our next visit planned and booked.

Three nights and two whole days. Just for us. This will be the first time ever that we will have all this time, without any intrusions. No work to chew up the days, no early breakfasts, no grabbing an hour here or there, no waiting until the late evening to be together.

Yes, three whole nights and two entire days (plus an evening and an early morning) of togetherness! Am I repeating myself? Delirious with joy, that's how I feel.

I'm about to go into battle to get my leave approved. It's only three working days (and all of them will be spent travelling) as our visit is over a weekend, but dammit I'm not going to take a 'no'!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Because Settling is NEVER The Right Thing To Do

What is one way to go from being married to being single, without a death and without getting a divorce? Easy. Get an annulment. I was married once, a long time ago. To a Bavarian. Please don't make the mistake of calling them German, it's like calling an Irishman, English.

Why did we marry? Good question and one neither of us could answer at the time, except it seemed the logical next step in our relationship. I didn't love him, but I wanted to be married. I felt I should be married at 35, so I settled. He didn't love me. He felt he should be married at 36, perhaps even more than I felt I should, so he settled.

Max worked as Chef in a hotel in China. I worked as Human Resources Officer in the Regional Office. We both worked for Holiday Inn Asia-Pacific. That's how we met. Or rather how we were introduced. And this is how it went:

My friend Tat-Leong, standing at my office door with a dark-haired, bearded, slim man in tow: "See I told you she has big boobs." ( I later found out he has a penchant for large mammaries)

Me, standing up to 'meet' him, glaring at Tat-Leong: "Hello, I'm Fiona." Handshake

Him, eyes fixed on the features pointed out to him: "Hi. Max." Handshake

Three years later, we were each working with other companies and not always in the same city, but still 'together'. We had some ups and downs but come December 1993, there we were at the Registrar in Hong Kong. The fact I had to buy our wedding rings should have sent a clear warning signal but alas, it didn't.

I should interject here that during our entire relationship leading up to marriage, never once did he actually have full-blown ('scuse the pun) sex with me. He said it was because he respected me, and he milked abstinence for over three months by saying he had a hernia. After we were married, we honeymooned in Bali, in a villa with its own pool. Special, very special. And still no sex.

We moved to Germany (both of us between jobs) and still no sex. I started to think it was me. I was still dealing with so much from my past and he was only my second boyfriend (I'd met Andy before him). Goodness knows I tried but whenever 'it' got near me, 'it' went flaccid with apparent fear, or revulsion.

I was still on shaky ground, sexually, and after a while I stopped trying, thinking there was something wrong with me.

Three months into my stint living in a tiny village in Germany, I came back to Hong Kong, moved in with my parents, and went back to work. He eventually found a job in Jakarta. At my invitation, we went back to our honeymoon villa on our first anniversary. Still no sex. I tried talking with him at that point. He walked away and didn't come back for hours. I spent all that time thinking. When he came back, we went for dinner and I offered to find help, a urologist, a therapist, something. He said he didn't need help.

I was convinced it was me, why else wouldn't he want to have sex with his wife and at the same time say he didn't need help?

In April 1995, I made one last effort. I booked a hotel room and went to visit him in Jakarta. I'm not even sure why. I suppose that's how I am, I don't give up easily. I probably, more than anything, wanted to know why we had failed with such a basic part of a relationship. He said virtually nothing and left me alone in the hotel room after about an hour. I cried non-stop until my flight the next day. By then I knew that if I stayed, I was just settling.

I was also starting to think it wasn't all about me, that he had to be part of the problem.

In November, I decided I wanted out of this sham of a marriage and contacted a lawyer. He explained that I would have to wait two years to initiate divorce proceedings from the time we officially separated, which we hadn't done up to that point. And five years if both parties were not in mutual agreement. Even two years seemed intolerable, at that point. As my lawyer spoke with me, more pieces of my story came out. The parts relating to the fact that the major cause of the failure of our marriage was his unwillingness to have sex with me. And that's when he told me that we could go ahead right away, with a Petition for Annulment.

That's the route we took and Max agreed not to fight it. However, he refused to attend court in Hong Kong as the Respondent, even though he had a ticket I'd given him after the failed anniversary trip, just in case he wanted to come and visit me (ever hopeful was I). It was explained to him that if he did come, it would make it much easier on me. All he agreed to do was to write a statement declaring his part in the whole sad situation. I was going through my old papers the other day and came across the documents submitted to the court, including the lawyer's official submission of my statement.

9. The said marriage has not been consummated owing to the wilful refusal of the Respondent to consummate it.

Particulars of Non-consummation
On the night of the wedding ceremony and on every night thereafter which the Petitioner and Respondent spent together, the two parties shared a bed. During the course of the one-week honeymoon directly following the wedding ceremony, the Respondent made no effort to consummate the marriage and rejected all such advances to do so by the Petitioner. The Respondent refused to give any explanation as to why he did not wish to consummate the marriage and despite the Petitioner's attempts to consummate the marriage, the Respondent rejected all such efforts. The Petitioner tried on several occasions to assist the Respondent in achieving sexual intercourse in order to consummate the marriage, however the Respondent refused to engage in sexual intercourse. Discussions took place, however the Respondent failed to explain his refusal to consummate the marriage and would state only words to the effect that "I've lost the urge" and "I can quite easily live without sex". As a last effort to rescue the failing relationship, the Petitioner offered financial and emotional support to the Respondent to seek medical and/or psychological assistance to attempt to find the reason behind the refusal of the Respondent to engage in sexual intercourse, and through such assistance to attempt a reconciliation between the two parties. The Respondent refused, advising the Petitioner in writing that "You tried everything but......I do really believe that we should go each our own way." This refusal by the Respondent to either consummate the marriage or to accept help in remedying the situation, has left the Petitioner no alternative but to seek a formal separation from the Respondent and subsequent annulment of their marriage and the parties have since lived separately. The Petitioner knows of no reason whether from a health, psychological or emotional cause, why the Respondent should continually refuse to consummate the marriage.

Part of the process was standing in an open court and defending the reasons for this request, answering questions from the judge as to how hard I'd tried to make it work, after that statement was read out. It was the most humiliating moment of my life, listening to that and hearing sniggering from the public area. I wish my role had been as easy as Max's that day. I really hated him at that particular moment, for making me do this on my own even though he was the party at fault. Later on, I came to the realisation that he might have been gay, which helped me come to terms to a certain extent. That is until a couple of years ago, when he contacted me to sign a statement that our marriage had been terminated because he needed this to re-marry in Germany. To a woman. Mind you, she worked for the German branch of a company a friend of a friend here worked for and I found out she was a 350-pound leather-wearing, heavily-inked and many-pierced woman. So perhaps I just wasn't his 'type'.

I've not remarried. Andy wanted to, but I didn't. That would have been settling. Dave wanted to, bizarrely even after we broke up, but I didn't. That would have been settling. It's not something I take lightly. I never thought, at this late stage in life, I'd meet the man I want to grow old with, but I have.

My greatest wish is that one day we will get the chance to start our life together, the one which will enable us to grow old with each other. He's the only man I've ever known, about whom I've thought: I want to commit to forever with him. And even forever doesn't seem long enough.

There's no 'settling' in this case, far far from it in fact. He fulfils my desires, he inspires me, he cherishes me. I fulfil his desires, I inspire him and I cherish him. We nurture each other, we respect each other, we admire each other. We balance each other. And while we know neither of us is perfect, we accept those imperfections as being part of who we are, part of the person we love.

I'm closing my eyes and wishing very, very hard. It's all I can do right now.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Severe Cuteness Alert!

One of my regular commenters, D, has a beautiful black lab, Cassie, and she just had a litter of absolutely gorgeous puppies, nine in total! He has allowed me to share the pics with you - aren't they beautiful? Sired by a chocolate lab, her litter is six black ones who take after mum and three chocolate ones who take after dad.

Well done Cassie. They really are smile-making aren't they - and talk about shiny coats! Don't you just want to line up to take one home :) I know I do.

Monday, July 16, 2007

...And Once More, With Feeling

I just heard from the Specialist doing my scans. He wants me back tomorrow for another session. He's still sounding mysterious. Today it was: "I think I've found out what your problem is, but I need you to come in for another 45-minute session."

Considering he's completed the rotator cuff scan and he's obviously not convinced that's my problem, for which I've been treated for four months, what the 'f' has he found?!

My stomach churns.

Update Tuesday - well it was 'just' another tear but the last scan was showing only the fluid so he did another run of pictures and showed me them. This time it was much longer, I was in the machine for well over an hour, he had to adjust me and use a different coil and that worked fine. Thank you all for your support and encouragement. Next stop, orthopaedic surgeon.

Hide & Seek

I was never good at hide & seek
because I'd always make enough noise
so my friends would be sure to find me.
I don't have anyone
to play those games with any more,
but now & then I make enough noise
just in case someone is still looking
& hasn't found me yet.

~ Story People by Brian Andreas ~

Friday, July 13, 2007

I Did It!!!

Thank you all, for your wonderful, constructive, caring and oft-times humorous support of me through this difficult time. I did it.

It wasn't quite as open as I'd expected, this is the model he used with my head being inside the body of the machine as only the shoulder needed scanning:

But at least the opening was wide enough that I wasn't touching it and I found that if I twisted my head up and around a bit, I was looking out the back of the machine so I made myself do that. A couple of times at the beginning I felt the panic creeping back in but I thought about all the comments you'd made, to help me through it.

It was a really nice centre, very comforting and relaxing and the doctor was brilliant. He showed me around, explained exactly what was going to happen, how to use the alarm if I felt uncomfortable and needed to stop, what I'd hear, how many stages it would be done in, how long each would last, etc. I felt a bit anxious because I kept remembering my last experience and I told him about that and he put his hand on my arm and said don't worry, more people than you think have that kind of reaction, that's why the call it 'the coffin'.

So I took off my bra and changed into my t-shirt (not in front of him!), hopped onto the table and lay down. I closed my eyes at times, I thought about puffy clouds and rainbows, I focused on my breathing and I went through in detail, each of my visits with my love!! It all worked. At first I felt it a bit difficult to breathe and I could tell my face was going bright red and I 'felt' the weight of the machine just above my face, but I got over it. Only once did I take a peek at how close the machine was above me and that made it worse, so I really concentrated on looking out the back of the machine at the door to the room. I pressed the alarm button only once, to move my arm because it was hurting like hell being in the position it was placed in the 'cage'. Once I was allowed to bend my elbow and rest my hand across my chest, I was good to go again.

The poor technician caught my right booby in the 'cage' when he closed it and I said ouch. I think he was more embarrassed than anything so I said don't worry, it just felt like having a mammogram, is that included? He laughed and left very quickly.

From start to finish it was an hour and 15 minutes, with just shy of an hour in the machine itself. The noise wasn't too bad but I do have a headache, more I think from a manifestation of the tension I was feeling. I get the same at the dentist, from my body being stiff as a board and trying to make my head go through the headrest to get away from him!

The doctor sat with me afterwards for a chat and he asked me some odd questions which make me wonder what he's found as the way he said it, and from what he asked, he seems more worried about my neck and back of shoulder than about the site of the actual pain (top of my arm). He's going to go over the images after the weekend in more detail and get back to my doctor and he mentioned that I may need to go back for some more images. He did say that he found a small tear and an accumulation of fluid around it, but he asked more questions about my neck and back of shoulder than anything.

Please don't let there be anything else wrong!!!!

I'm going to try and put this totally out of my mind over the weekend. Haircut, al fresco lunch and some shopping. Time with me, myself and I.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fright of My Life

It's more than an hour after it happened, but my heart is still pounding in my chest, I'm shaking and my breathing is shallow and laboured. Goodness only knows what my blood pressure is right now. I'm still trying to recover from an anxiety attack, the proportions of which I've never experienced before. Why? Well, because they just tried to put me into one of these:

I went back to the doctor this morning about my shoulder as, for the past week, it seems to be getting worse again. He said based on that, and the fact the area of pain is spreading (down to my elbow and across my collar-bone) he believes now that there is a tear and not just inflammation. Four months later, we might just be getting to the real problem.

So, MRI time. I've been dreading this. He did tell me before that because of my size (yes, I'm a fat chick but I can still fit in coach class seats when I fly - and I'm talking Asian airlines!) it might be difficult but I did some research and if the table can easily take 350lbs, which I'm NOWHERE near, I figured it should be ok, that the bore must have some relativity to that weight allowance.

I'm also claustrophobic, so I wasn't exactly chomping at the bit to get in there, but I know I have to fix this shoulder once and for all. And it could mean surgery. Well, if it's a tear it most likely will mean surgery. I don't even want to think about how I'll get into my bra with an arm in a sling and an immobilised shoulder. And trust me, there's not going bra-less with these puppy dogs!

Anyway, I say "Book it Danno" (even though his name is Julian) and he confirms a slot is free at noon. Today? Yes, today. Ummm all right. He describes what is going to happen and so on, and then asks that critical question - are you claustrophobic. Yes, most definitely so. You know those coach class seats I mentioned? I've no problem with the seats, it's the fact they're stuffed into rows where my knees dig into the back of the seat in front, and I'm contained in this small metal tube which is wrapped around the rows of seats, and I'm enclosed in that tube, that is what bothers me. Big time.

So I arrive at the hospital, go into the basement where they keep all the heavy equipment and register. They look me up and down and start whispering. And I know what it is. Against Hong Kong standards I'm ginormous. Head and shoulders, hips and thighs above and beyond your average person here. They don't have a ladies' gown big enough. After much muttering and more than a few giggles, I'm shown to the changing room and the radiographer says to take everything off from the waist up. As he closed the door, he mumbled: "The gown might be a bit long." I look at the label and it's an MXL. Oh boy I already know this isn't going to work, men don't have breasts, so no matter how XL it is, it's not designed for someone with the boobage going on. I take a deep breath and put it on and of course it goes around my waist but it only just covers the boobs. The damn thing is secured only by a tie around the waist and yes, you've got it right, substantial gaping is occurring above the waist. Plus, when he said it might be a bit long, he didn't say it was sized for a seven-foot male! With breasts all but on display, I can't even hold it closed across them as I'm having to gather about three feet of ridiculously heavily-starched fabric from trailing across the floor. Hospital gowns aren't meant to have a train!

I hop up onto the table, more than aware that this poor young man will probably never want to see another breast ever again in his life, and lie down. Another briefing by him and his female assistant, I'm arranged and strapped and goodness knows what else, then an alarm button is thrust into my hand. All along I'm thinking, Fiona you can do this, you're stubborn enough to will it away. I'd read a bit about it, the close proximity of the bore and the clanging and so on. Mentally I thought I was ready. Until the sides of the bore started pressing into and sliding along my shoulders and arms and I felt I couldn't move and, and, and, and.....major anxiety attack starts. I couldn't breathe, my heart rate shot up, I asked them to stop and they pulled me out. I was in tears, I could hear my pulse in my ears and I was shaking like a leaf.

He said that this is a common thing and lots of people have this response. But that with the degree and speed it happened with me, he couldn't even give me a Valium to relax me, I'd have to be knocked out to be able to take 45 minutes in the machine. And they wouldn't knock me out as I was alone. I was kind of glad about that as I was already in a mess and I didn't fancy being totally unconscious for almost an hour.

So now I'm here, still shaking, my heart still pounding and I have to call my doctor to look at my options. Apparently there's an open MRI machine somewhere here, but the quality of the imaging isn't as clear as he likes to work from.

I think it's going to be the only solution. And next time, I'm taking a t-shirt to wear!

It turns out I'm a fight, not flight person, except when it comes to MRIs. Someone just came to see me and asked if I was alright, so goodness only knows what I must look like!

Update: I woke up in a cold sweat last night, gasping for breath. I had a nightmare that they'd sedated me but that I came round while I was still in the machine. Oh boy!

Update Thursday: I'm booked in tomorrow for an open MRI scan at a specialist scanning centre. When I spoke with the doctor he said that he'd not put me through trying to cope with the traditional MRI machine as the report he'd had back from the hospital was that due to my very severe claustrophobia, they would have to give me a general anaesthetic! I still feel like a wimp!

Prickly Heat

Yesterday, I was grizzly and barbed and irritable. I was on edge and tired and unfocussed. I felt vulnerable and uneasy and on guard. I was distracted and stressed and restless. I couldn't get away from feeling cantankerous and annoyed and intolerant. I was worried and impatient and discouraged.

And I spent way too much time gazing out my window because I'm in denial about just how much work I have piling up. If I ignore it, will it go away? How's that for a totally irrational approach. And if all that wasn't enough, I have a headache that refuses to quit.

Who the hell is this woman inhabiting my body right now?

I don't like her. Much.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Poem by Rumi


From the beginning of my life
I have been looking for your face
but today I have seen it

Today I have seen
the charm, the beauty,
the unfathomable grace
of the face
that I was looking for

Today I have found you
and those who laughed
and scorned me yesterday
are sorry that they were not looking
as I did

I am bewildered by the magnificence
of your beauty
and wish to see you
with a hundred eyes

My heart has burned with passion
and has searched forever
for this wondrous beauty
that I now behold

I am ashamed
to call this love human
and afraid of God
to call it divine

Your fragrant breath
like the morning breeze
has come to the stillness of the garden

You have breathed new life into me
I have become your sunshine
and also your shadow

My soul is screaming in ecstacy
Every fiber of my being
is in love with you

Your efflugence
has lit a fire in my heart
for me
the earth and sky

My arrow of love
has arrived at the target
I am in the house of mercy
and my heart
is a place of prayer.

~ Mawlānā Jalāl-ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhi (Rūmī) ~

This poem truly resonates for me because, when I did see his face for the very first time, when we were finally so close I could feel his breath on my neck and the whisper of his eyelashes on my cheek, I did realise that I had been looking for his face all my life. And he does have, such a beautiful face. Finally, there he was, before me. All I could manage to utter was, "It's you."

Since that day, our love has taken us places in the heart and mind, which neither of us even knew existed. And it will take us still, to so many places yet to come. Our love knows no bounds. Our love is our future.

He lights a fire in my heart.

Monday, July 09, 2007

First Anniversary

Ooops, it slipped by. On 6 July 2006, I started to blog.

I've come a very long way. And along that way, I've:
  • Met someone I love 'hard'

  • Travelled to places I never thought I'd see

  • Peeked into your worlds

  • Formed some wonderful, life-lasting friendships

  • Revealed some intensely personal things about my past

and so very, very much more.

I hope the next 12 months is at least as good, as the past 12. Something tells me that they have the prospect of being life-changing ones. For the better.

"I'm Not a Plastic Bag"

Have you all heard the hype about this eco-bag, by the designer Anya Hindmarch? We've renamed it here to the 'aiyah howmuch' bag.

While we can certainly be more conscious as to how to use less plastic bags (in Hong Kong, an estimated 27 million plastic bags are disposed of every day, from a population of just over 7 million people), this bag has brought parts of our downtown to a standstill as people queued for over 20 hours for the privilege of purchasing a designer canvas shopping bag. As I travelled in to work on Friday, the crowd was wrapped round the equivalent of a city block. They had to close the actual shop all day (quite a revenue loss as it's a high-end supermarket) and many access points to the shopping mall it is in, as part of crowd control. And they are already on the resale market at a 500% markup.

We're getting better here, in reducing plastic bagging in supermarkets and other shops, but really, this isn't the way to go. I'd personally opt for this later version, in response to the ridiculous demand for the original:

Oh, and I'll bet they're manufactured in China, where there are almost no controls on emissions, so I wonder how this worldwide demand has increased direct pollution in response to the manufacturing that has gone on to 'satisfy' such consumer demand.

Hong Kongers have a very strange urge to collect what they think is a product not everyone can get their hands on. As a further example, the local racing organisation (we have some of the biggest purses to be won in the horse-racing world) put out a commemorative keepsake to celebrate our 10th anniversary. People queued and queued. Supplies started to run low as they hadn't anticipated the demand. When the crowd got wind of this, mass panic ensued. People were trampled and beaten. I saw the news report on the television that evening and I have to tell you, it the closes comparison I've seen was watching the refugees in Darfur scrambling for life-saving food supplies!

Hong Kong, get your priorities right!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Our Stories

Something Kimba posted the other day got me thinking. It's her 'Story of Me', and it made me reflect on my own story of me. And then the stories of my siblings. I think that from this current reflection, I have reached a greater understanding of why my mother treats her children so differently.

I know all our stories because they have often been spoken of within my family. My brother is her firstborn, the much-wanted son. Shortly afterwards, she became pregnant again and lost the child. I was an unexpected pregnancy after that miscarriage.

First daughter, the apple of my father's eye, but apparently a difficult baby. I was left with my mother and brother for months and months on end, as my father was at sea. My entire family unit was the two of them during my formative years.

When I was five, my sister arrived. An unplanned child, the result of poor contraceptive management and a surprise visit from my dad. The family used to joke that at the time, my dad was going to adopt an orphan monkey in Cambodia but those plans fell through when my mum became pregnant as they couldn't afford both. Often we would laugh about how we wished we had the monkey. Only now can I see what effect hearing that, must have had on my sister growing up.

My relationship with my brother was destroyed at a very early age. But he did adore my sister. In a healthy way, gladly. My dad was at sea until I was about 10, so I really can't hold him responsible for not saving me from the problems I encountered in my childhood. My mum seemed to so favour our brother, he got everything he wanted, he could do no wrong. In her eyes that is still the case. A part of me will always wonder if she knew, but refused to accept that he would do such things.

My sister and I didn't have much of a relationship, my brother was too busy making sure I was miserable, to let me have her as a friend. It's really only in our adulthood that she and I have grown together, perhaps from a shared feeling of not being loved by our mother and watching her give all her affection to our brother. That and my strong nurturing feelings towards my 'baby' sister.

I know, and accept, that my parents did the best they could with their resources and personal experiences. But then if that's the case, how can she pick only one of us to love and cherish. That shows what she is capable of, but is unwilling to spread around.

And I can't help but feel, that maybe it's because he was the only one she truly and absolutely wanted. Whereas my sister and I were 'accidents'. It would certainly explain a lot. She has left such an imprint on her daughters' souls and both my sister and I struggle in our relationships with her. I realise that I talk often about my mother here, as though I'm trying to explain something to myself. Perhaps I am. But perhaps I just need to stop harping on about it all.

Kimba has grown and accepted her mother for all her faults, for what she has given her and especially for what she has not. I admire her so much for that. But I don't know if I'll ever get to that place. I love my mother, as the person who gave birth to me. She'll always be my mother.

But I don't particularly like the person she is.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I'm Not Waving, I'm Drowning

I got through Tuesday by working until almost 10pm (with a 7am start). I'm getting through Wednesday (with a 7am start after waking up at 4am) but it's a battle. I feel the quicksand beginning to take hold. I'm sinking a little today. Too many meetings and too much unexpected work added to what I knew I'd be facing. Suffice to say we have a major management meltdown at one of our operations and I'm part of the fire-fighting team.

I still have three open positions for which I'm interviewing and today I've had to actively shuffle those, with repelling the trio of banshees who provide administrative support to the Directors. One is going on holiday and the world is falling down around them because I can't allocate the person she wants to sit in for her. Ladies, take your show on the road because right now you are so low on my list, you're almost not there.

My assistant has been furiously tapping away at her computer all day and running to interviews she's holding, too, and Anuja has hardly looked up from her desk except for our excursion to the British Consulate at lunchtime. She works against a tight deadline every day, to get home to her little one by 6pm.

And then there's HER. Our newest department manager. Supposedly my 'peer'. Huh! She has a clear desk and I'm sure she's been surfing the net all afternoon. Apart from the always-forthcoming stupid questions aimed at Anuja (who does most of her job for her anyway), she doesn't contribute anything. Oh and did I mention that she regularly leaves at 4:00pm to go to the hairdresser? It took me only a week after her arrival to name her 'FW'. It rhymes with duck-shit. I was told to give her a chance, it's because she's new. Well guess what, she's been here a year now and I'm not the only one who uses that nickname for her. What can I say, I call them right most of the time.

Blogging has become a release for me. A time during the day when I can escape from everything I'm buried under and let my brain roam free. Free. Freeeeeeeeee. It's a glorious feeling to just let it go, like water, and find its own level. I'm not procrastinating, really I'm not.

I'm sure I'll feel better after I vent with this post for tomorrow. Ach maybe I'll decide not to post it. But I probably will. My shoulders ache and I feel really tired throughout my entire body, but my mind is still running at Olympic record-breaking speeds. It's 6pm and some people have already ended their day. For me, I don't see an escape before 9pm. And if my ex-boss emails me one more time saying that August and September will be eventful, but manageable, I'm going to bop her one. I should have made her do my job with hers for two months, before she left, to give her an idea of what's involved. And just for the pleasure, added some spectacularly unexpected events which require heaps of woman-hours.

Oh well, back to scripting dreaded job descriptions. And then I have to wait for a decent hour to call our employment lawyer stateside, during his July 4th celebrations. Bet he'll love that! I'm sure he rues the day he ever gave me his cell number. Really, though, all I want to do is settle into the arms of the man I love and let him smooth the tension from my brow. Aaaah, if only.

Update today: Here I am again, only three hours of sleep but I did get two phone calls with my love. Serious far-reaching stuff, but all is very, very good between us. His was the last sound I heard before I finally fell asleep and also the first I heard this morning. Oh how I'd love all days to be like that. I hope all my friends in the US have had, and are having, a brilliant 4th.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Today, I'm renewing my passport. It still has three years to run before it expires, but I'm doing it now.

For two reasons: Firstly because it was issued in Madrid. My last one was stolen when I was in Tenerife (which is a huge marketplace for counterfeit passports and other associated dodgy schemes). For some reason, Madrid-issued British passports seem to demand an unusual amount of attention at border points.

Secondly, there is an issue with the photo. This is a conversation I had with an Immigration Officer at London's Heathrow airport earlier this year, after surrendering my passport for inspection (usually one breezes through just showing the photo page as you walk past) :

"Madam, would you please stand out of line over there."

"Is there a problem?"

"Please just stand over there, an officer will be with you shortly."

Of course everyone is looking at me as though I'm some sort of international terrorist. Or at the very least an attempted asylum-seeker. But I patiently wait until finally, a young gentleman approaches, carrying my passport.

"Madam, there is a problem with your passport." He tells me while fingering the plastic covering my photo.

"Oh, and what might that be?"

"We suspect this is a forgery, it hasn't passed our inspection."

"Well I find that hard to believe considering I've travelled in and out of the US several times in the past few months with no problem and from what I've seen, their inspection routine for non-US passports is far superior to yours, here."

"Is that so?"

"That IS so, yes."
By this time I'm getting somewhat pissed off with it all. And I had a connection to make.

"Well Madam, I'd suggest you renew your passport as soon as possible and next time make sure the photograph is placed square on the page."

I looked at him, in disbelief, expecting him to correct what he'd just said.

"Thank you, I'll make sure I'm more careful the next time I stick my photo in my passport."

Blank look (him, not me).

"May I have a complaint form please, I would like to document this discussion."

Much reddening of his face. "I'll get you one."

15 minutes later he returns. "I'm sorry we don't seem to have any."

"Well that's pretty damn convenient. So, may I go now?"

"Yes, Madam."

It takes about 10 days to get a new passport from the British Consulate here. 10 days without a passport. That's a terribly uneasy sensation for me, I feel like a prisoner. I could leave Hong Kong and go to China as I only need my Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card for that. But what if I want to go further afield? What if I need to? Being passport-less is, indeed, a very strange thing.

But I get one of those new cool ePassports, what they call a biometric passport, with a little chip in it, containing encrypted facial recognition information. I hope to hell they do the equivalent of 'squaring that on the page'. And I'd just like to say that my photo is awful. But I have to live with it for 10 years unless, of course, my passport is somehow pinched on my next visit to Tenerife.

Update: I pick up my new passport in seven days. AND I got to keep my current one in the meantime, just in case. Awesome service!!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Emotional Flatline

I've been spoiled over the past week plus. I've been able to speak with my love twice a day, including waking him up in the morning. I love that, it's as though we lay there together quietly talking. I want that for real, soon, but neither of us can see any plans in the pipeline for the immediate future.

It hurts to be away from him. It always will.

So, I'm a bit flat right now, nothing much to say.

Beep, Beep, Beep, Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.


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