Merry Christmas?

For the life of me I can’t get into the Christmas Spirit this year.
Not that every other year I’ve been donning a Santa hat and filling stockings with gifts. I’ve always treated Christmas as Someone Else’s holiday, and did my best to enjoy the sentimental Christmas episodes of all the usual TV series, be it NCIS or The Big Bang Theory.

But somehow, I feel as if Christmas has been more visible in Israel in recent years, and I’m more exposed to it on my own territory, as it were, as opposed to in the general background, such as on TV, FB, or the odd shop in the center of town offering small synthetic Christmas trees and glittery decorations.

Not that I mind; so I feel a stranger to the festivities, so what?

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, as of Nov 2017, Israel’s population includes some 170,000 Christians, making up 2% of the population. The actual number is far higher, because the above figure relates to citizens and therefore does not take into account all the temporary residents, migrants, long-term visitors and so on.

Another considerable segment of the population which celebrates Christmas here is people of Russian extract, be they new or veteran immigrants. Most of them don’t connect to the religious aspect of the holiday but to its seasonal nature; a good reason for a hearty, happy celebration.

Yet another segment is the Anglo population. People from English-speaking countries, for whom Christmas was just part of Life before coming to Israel.

Obviously(?), being born to American-Canadian parents, I was introduced to Christmas from a young age, even though there was no television in Israel at the time. Jingle Bells, White Christmas, and others were part of my childhood home’s soundtrack (as were all Danny Kaye songs…) But for most of my adult life Xmas (as I learned from Uncle Harry to refer to it) was someone else’s holiday (albeit lots of “someone else”s) and didn’t concern me at all.

At the risk of sounding old, bored, and blase, I’ll admit that I’m rather tired of traditional, ritual-laden holidays, be they Passover with its Seder night or Xmas with its trees, bells and whistles.  So the fact that Xmas is suddenly more present in my life than ever before is a bit strange. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a bother, because it doesn’t really demand anything of me, except sending Xmas cards or at least sending virtual greetings of Facebook.

When my cousin and her significant other here in town, a mere 20 minute walk away (as you can see on my Fitbit log),

A 20 minutes’ walk

invited us to their Christmas-themed wine-and-cheese evening, I may have rolled my eyes a bit, but I happily collaborated, and a delightful evening was had by all, as you can see in the pic below, in case you haven’t already seen it on FB.

Xmas eve

I’ve been awfully remiss at sending greeting cards. My mom was sooo good at it! Even during the fledgling state’s (i.e., Israel) when there were no card shops, and even the measly selection available was out of her financial reach. She used to make them out of typing paper and pictures of roses cut out of American magazines sent to us by Uncle Harry. (Yes, those were ads for whiskey…)

OK, so this year I’m celebrating Xmas this way:

My Baby Is Moving Out

In 1995, our eldest packed her bags for the traditional post-military-service trip abroad. She was headed for South America, plus a meaningful visit with family in the U.S., traveling with her best girlfriend.
We made a reservation at one of our favorite restaurants, the Taj Mahal in Old Jaffa (which sadly no longer exists.) It was a lovely summer day. The Taj Mahal roof was beautifully set up for a self-service lunch.
Below is a picture of our three kids looking out at the Mediterranean.

The kids on the balcony of Taj Mahal in Jaffa

The kids on the balcony of the since-defunct Taj Mahal Indian restaurant in Old Jaffa

Twenty-one years later, this picture is still on my desk. I used to look at it and tell myself that, as much as I adore my kids, I won’t mind when they spread their wings and fly away.

Ha!

Our three kids all moved out at a relatively young age — before they hit twenty. And all did quite a bit of moving from one apartment to another, be it in the same city, to different cities, or in a different country. Leaving behind them, in our wardrobes, cupboards and on bookshelves, piles of stuff: books, notebooks, vinyl records, video tapes, letters, photos, stuffed toys, knickknacks, souvenirs, clothes, and pieces of furniture they laid claim to.

Every once in a while, when they visit, they might go through some of that stuff and retrieve a needed item such as a sleeping bag, hat, pair of socks or a book; they might condemn a piece of paper to the shredder; or give their okay to pass a furry pink panther or a box of Lego on to the grandkids.

Pink Panther & Cottage

Pink Panther & Cottage

Once in a while, my husband complains that Ms Eldest should go through “all those papers” that are taking up valuable space in Wardrobe A. And once in a while I wonder how come the socks I bought Mr Youngest are still in his drawer, never worn. Or else we both look nostalgically at the Monty Python videos and ask ourselves what on earth are we to do with them. Yes, everything’s available on YouTube these days… But still… to actually throw them out? Along with, say, the Charlie Chaplin videos that my mom used to cherish? Isn’t that, like, sacrilege?…

So long as the kids are living in rented apartments, never knowing how long they’ll be there before high rents or objectionable landlords cause them to move, we’re quite resigned to keeping their belongings. Our own parent did the same for us. But, lo and behold! Mr Youngest has recently become the proud owner of a small housing unit in south Tel Aviv! And he’s come to pick up his stuff! Tons of it! Books, games, papers, and a biggish piece of furniture which I don’t even know how to describe! It has doors and drawers, bookshelves, and a drop-down desktop. My parents had it in their bedroom for many years, but it’s not an “antique”. They’d bought it at Shomrat HaZore’a, an Israeli furniture firm known for its high quality. I’m not bothering with a link because I’m totally unimpressed with their website, and disappointed that it’s only in Hebrew. Anyway, at some point I’d removed the scores of paperbacks that had accumulated on the top of this unit, stored them neatly elsewhere, and sent my son a pic of the top part of this cabinet, which we usually referred to briefly as “the HaZore’a”. The pic below doesn’t show it in all its glory or size, but you get a rough idea:

HaZorea cabinet prior to dismantling

HaZorea cabinet prior to dismantling

Well. The day came, and out came all the stuff. Three men worked and hammered and pushed and pulled for two hours, finally taking the cabinet completely apart, then carrying its components down to the car, to be hauled to the new habitat. This is what the room looked like during the process:

Nina taking a pic of the mess

Nina taking a pic of the mess

I am still in shock. The room looks so strange. There are a few holes in the wall that need filling in. And a gap in my heart [boo-hoo] that will need to be filled. Possibly with the help of some paint, new bookshelves, and the three grandkids, god bless them. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to the housewarming party!

I Like to Move It, Move It

Sorry guys, this post is not about the movie Madagascar… it’s about exercising. But since I’ve been exposed to the Madagascar movies more times than I can count, thanks to my grandson, this phrase just popped into my head and I couldn’t resist it. Besides — I do like to move: exercise, dance, walk, skip, and demonstrate “Christopher Robin goes hoppity hoppity” (which is universal) and “Whenever I walk in a London street“, which works also in Tel Aviv, but only on the old sidewalks with the large tiles. Hate the new tiny-tiled sidewalks.

The other day I wrote on FB: “Went to yoga class this evening, for the first time after a 30-year gap. Wasn’t as thrilling as going to ballet class for the first time after a 55 year gap 🙂 But it felt good. Teacher great. Studio stinks. I mean, literally reeks.”

Then, a few days later, I posted: “Went to yoga class this morning. This time Vinyasa for beginners. Didn’t feel like beginners’ stuff to me 🙂 Though the [excellent, amiable, and Canadian] teacher assured me that usually the pace is faster. Plan to go again next Sunday. If I’m up to it, after 1-2 more Iyengars + 1 Anusara planned for this week…”

Got a few “Like”s from friends, but also one private message from a concerned colleague: “… I saw your post and, if I may, […] I wouldn’t do more than 1 class a week in the first month or two. Unless the classes are *extremely basic*. People aren’t aware, even most yoga teachers, that it’s so easy to tear a ligament or a tendon if you haven’t exercised for 30 years, as you say is your case. Best to start out *extremely slowly*.”

I thanked her, of course, but immediately set the record straight. I guess my first yoga-related FB post was not clear. Yes, my lifestyle is basically sedentary. I’ve been a translator and editor for many years, for heavens’ sake. You know what that entails: sitting, sitting, and more sitting. But I’ve been also exercising for most of my life.

My mom, Clara, is responsible for instilling in me the love of ballet. I grew up leafing through her Dance Scrapbook (early version of Pinterest, Picasa, Flickr etc) and The Victor Book of Ballets and Ballet Music; Ballet book_0487and watching Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes and The Tales of Hoffman; Zizi Jeanmaire in Hans Christian Andersen; Leslie Caron in The Glass Slipper, Lili, and An American in Paris. At the movies, guys! There was no TV in Israel in the 1950s…

So no wonder my first form of “exercise” was ballet at the Holon Conservatory of Music and Dance.

Nina on stage

Then jazz [dance] classes. First around 1971 or ’72, when I was living in Ramat Aviv, before my eldest was even conceived. After we moved to Tel Aviv, when I was a single [i.e. divorced] mother, I searched for a dance studio and found the wonderful Ruthie Lerman (whom I also interviewed for LaIsha magazine in August 1975). Then my friend Lynne Richardson took over. At some point I switched to Jane Fonda’s workout – still have 2 books and 2 audio cassettes… Lynne and I and a few other “girls” did them together at whatever space was available without rent… After that I took classes at Alma Frankfurt’s studio, which was then conveniently located on Ben Gurion Blvd in Tel Aviv. The same studio offered also pre- and post-natal yoga classes, which I eagerly joined when I got pregnant with my third child. (Didn’t like the let’s-see-in-how-many-ways-a-delivery-can-go-wrong group I attended during my 2nd pregnancy.)

prenatal yoga_0490

Nina doing prenatal yoga 1985

prenatal yoga_0489

Can’t recall the teacher’s name, but I still do the sun salutations I learnt there some 30 years ago.

Fast-forward a few years. We moved from Tel Aviv to Rishon LeZion. We tried one Country Club, but that was mostly for the sake of taking the little ones to the pool in summer. Then we tried a closer Country Club, where we went swimming for a summer or two. Didn’t care for their gym. Eventually I joined Studio C, when it was still a hole in the ground, literally… in a small converted basement of a residential apartment building. Quit for some reason. Returned a year or two later, only to quit when I realized it was doing me, or at least my hips and thighs, more harm than good.

For a while I had physiotherapy for my hip-and-thigh pain, and when that didn’t help, I started looking for an exercise class that would be less demanding than Studio C with its endless repetitions of movements aimed at beating one’s figure into as shapely a shape as possible. By sheer luck, I found a class of “health-promoting exercise” (hit’amlut bri’utit, in Hebrew), subsidized by Maccabi Health Fund, and led by Hagit, a conscientious, unassuming physiotherapist. There I found a group of middle-aged to pension-aged women of all sizes and ethnicities, who loved to stomp to the sound of Andy Williams’ Can’t Take my Eyes off You, Cher’s Do You Believe in Life after Love, and a jazzed-up version of the super-sentimental French hit, Aline. Oh yes — they also loved to tell racy jokes, exchange recipes, laugh a lot, and kvetch as they did their abdominals. It was perfect.

Exercise class “girls” with Lidor on Hanukka

I stayed with this group for seven years, give or take. When Hagit left to pursue her love of Egyptian archaeology at the Hebrew University, she was followed by a string of other teachers, the most recent one being Lidor, a sprightly young blonde whose specialty is actually energetic stuff like Zumba and TRX, but who adapts her routine for us ladies.

I said “stayed” because I’ve given notice, sort of… taking a break to try out yoga, in a more serious and methodical way than just slap-dash sun-salutations.

As I said, the studio rather reeks… probably from so many bare feet and possibly not enough ventilation. But I like the teachers, and I feel the stretches are doing me good. So I’m giving it a chance. The studio’s website is only in Hebrew — that is, until I persuade its owner to let me do an English version 🙂

Image

Cataract Surgery, Right Eye

Looking at the three very-colorful scarvebag & scarvess and the multicolored, zany Desigual handbag I bought in Barcelona recently — a far cry from my usual sedate blue, black and grey bags — I ask myself: Would I have bought them had the trip not taken place before my cataract surgery?

 

I first experienced this “Let there be light!” feeling when the brownish haze is removed from the world, a few years ago, when I had cataract surgery on my left eye. It was such a revelation, that I wrote a blog post about it. Quite a detailed one.  Now the time had come for my right eye. The cataract was far gone enough. I went to the same surgeon, the inimitable Dr. S., and a date was set. I had a vague recollection that the procedure wasn’t as “nothing” as some people told me. So I reread that post of mine, but stopped mid-way. Because it scared me. I didn’t want to re-live the discomfort and didn’t want to anticipate it. I wanted to arrive at the hospital with an open mind, optimistic smile, and no preconceived notions.

To make a long story short, this surgery was a cinch, from my point of view (no pun intended…) . In spite of myself, I kept waiting for the room to go black, or for pain in the back of the eye socket. But none of that happened. I listened curiously to the whirring sound of the machinery and to its metallic-voiced instructions (to my surgeon, not to me); I concentrated on the pink-and-blue shapes that looked like cat’s eyes; I felt the frequent rinsing and mopping. I heard my doctor asking his assistant for a scalpel or some such tool; I realized when the new lens was being maneuvered into place; and before long it was all over.

As we left the hospital, I had my picture taken and promptly posted it on Facebook, where everyone wished me a speedy recovery, and my dear cousin Gee Bee wisely observed, “If you are already sending FB messages, you must be OK…” — and that about sums it up!

Nina post cataract op

I went for a check-up the following day, having already removed the plastic protective shield, which I keep just for the hell of it, because I’m a bit of a hoarder… The doc said everything is fine, and gave me a prescription for three types of eye drops plus instructions on applying them during the weeks following the surgery. The main thing that bothers me is not being allowed to get my right eye wet, which basically means I can’t properly wash my face. In Israeli summer, not being able to rinse one’s face is a bummer. Really awful. Luckily, we’re having a very mild winter, so without the humidity and stickiness associated with Israel’s Coastal Plain, I can somehow survive with delicate eye-wipes and a refreshing skin toner. And of course, I have to be super-careful when shampooing my hair.

But all that is trivial compared to the brightness of the world and the improved vision. Now all that remains is to order new glasses; and to look forward to the next procedure — called YAG — designed to remove the secondary cataract from my left eye.

 

Ghosts of People Past

I’m sure it’s happened to you.

You’re browsing one of your usual social media sites, such as Facebook or Linked In, and the site helpfully suggests names of people whom it figures you might know and may want to add to your circle of friends.

You glance at the list, and a name or picture , or both, jump up at you and startle you: the image of a person whom you knew, and possible cared about, who is definitely dead. Deceased. Passed on. Expired and gone to meet his or her maker. This is no joke, so I’ll cut short the Dead Parrot reference; you get the idea.

Recently, two persons whose online profile keeps popping up this way are a beloved cousin who died in November 2013, and a hated surgeon [name withheld] who irresponsibly caused me much pain and grief before dying on the operating table. I shudder to even mention them in the same breath.

Obviously, I can’t expect any social media site or app to know that a certain person is no longer among the living. For all they know, the person has simply taken a break from Facebook and the like — if they know that much. As for the goner’s family, I suspect that, initially at least, they have far more pressing matters on their mind than notifying the website/company that their dearest has departed for good and the account should be deleted.

But here’s the question: Say you — no no, god forbid, not you personally; some other, generic “you” — email a notification of the death, and a request to delete his/her account. How is the company to know that it’s not a hoax? Are you supposed to attach a scanned death certificate? Are there any rules or guidelines? If you know of any, do tell.

When my mother, Clara Caren Rimon, was alive, I’d opened a Gmail account for her, so that she could correspond with her family abroad — something she did consistently at least from the time she left the States (1946), if not years earlier, when she left home to go to hachshara (training farm for pioneers). When she died, in 2009, that Gmail account was the last thing on my mind. Eventually, I thought I’d better check the Inbox to see if any mail had arrived for her, and then delete the account. However, by then I’d forgotten both the user name and password for the account…

So I googled “how to find someone’s gmail address”, and though most of the suggestions weren’t relevant, the simplest and most obvious one did the trick. So now I just have to reconstruct the password. Wish me luck.

Why I stopped using medical cannabis

The other day, while at the ITA Conference in Jerusalem, a colleague asked me casually “How’s the pot going?” or something to that effect. I smiled and nodded to indicate that everything was going well. It took a while until the realization sank in that I’d misunderstood the question and gave the wrong answer. So, dear colleague P., this post is for you, with my apologies.
Don’t ask me how come I misunderstood, or what I was thinking. I don’t know.
But I can now tell you all what he was in fact asking: Am I still using medical cannabis for my post-surgery pains, and is it helping.

The bottom line, for those who don’t want to read any further, is: No, I’m no longer using it because it wasn’t helping me. For more details, read on.

If you’re interested in the prequel, see my post of about a year ago, The Power of Hypnotherapy. At that point in time, I was down to 2 pain meds + guided imagery. When I went to my pain doctor for a follow-up, she suggested I try medical cannabis, since it is safer and has fewer side effects than Targin, a.k.a. Oxycodone, a narcotic analgesic. Most people I know would jump for joy if offered pot /grass / marijuana complete with a legal prescription. I didn’t. I don’t smoke, and besides, my sweet (seriously!) doctor qualified her offer by saying it would be in the form of drops. I said sure, I’d try it. And took the relevant paperwork to the nearest offices of Tikun Olam, which is — to quote their website – “the first, largest and foremost supplier of medical Cannabis in Israel and the flag bearer for the medical use of Cannabis… ”  That was in January, 2014.

My instructor at Tikun Olam hadn’t read the doctor’s letter carefully, and just assumed I was to use the grassy stuff. So she gave me a couple of puffs and explained how to inhale, then sent me off to the well-guarded shop in north Tel Aviv, a short walk away. But of course, they couldn’t sell me anything because my prescription was specifically for drops. Never mind — misunderstanding cleared up, and I went home with a few tiny brown bottles of two kinds of cannabis: One containing a (relatively) high percentage of THC, the other — CBD.

I started taking them as instructed, starting with 2 drops and gradually increasing. Mind you, I couldn’t get a straight answer about the effects of THC versus CBD. Whoever I asked, wherever I searched — answers and results seemed contradictory. So I experimented, and tried to keep track, in writing, of the dosage and the effects, if any. But the emerging picture was fuzzy and inconsistent. I couldn’t see a clear correlation between the number and type of drops I took and their effect on me. My doctor told me, for example, that one of her patients had reached a dosage that was perfect for him: 15 drops twice a day, morning and evening, and he was pain-free, the lucky so-and-so. Whereas I, at a far lower dosage, became giggly, a bit high, had trouble concentrating, and was still in pain. Not to mention that when you’re on cannabis you’re legally not allowed to drive. And if you want to travel abroad with your cannabis, you’re in trouble, as I explained in my posts Traveling abroad with medical cannabis, and Back from Prague with my medical cannabis. This was quite inconvenient for us, since we travel abroad as often as we can. When we travel abroad we usually rent a car and share the driving. Also, I’m a grandmother who helps take care of her grandsons on a regular basis. I can’t possibly be responsible for a toddler and a baby if I’m high on cannabis!

Nonetheless, had the cannabis done its job, I’d probably find work-arounds for the above issues — foreign travel, driving, and grandkids. But it wasn’t working for me: not only was the pain still there, but my ability to concentrate on my work was impaired. Another consideration to keep in mind is, that the strength and quality of the medical cannabis is not consistent. It changes with the weather, the growing conditions, and so on. For example: If you know your grass inside-out and you know which strain works best for you, and then your supplier is out of that strain because it didn’t rain that month and the yield was poor-to-nonexistent — you’re in a  pickle, to say the least.

And so I gave up. I think it’s just not for me. Or I’m not cut out for it. It was an interesting experiment. The people at Tikun Olam are very nice, knowledgeable and friendly. The people coming to the small shop with the armed guard at the door were a very mixed bunch and would serve as good material for a journalist or writer. But I just gave up.

Comments? Questions, anyone? Go ahead, shoot. I’m listening.

 

 

Pink Lemonade and other mixtures

I like mixing things.

Does this mean I should have been a bar-tender? A chemist? A sound technician?
– Nah. I think I just inherited Clara’s mixing habits, foremost among them the mixing of lemon squash with raspberry squash, producing pink lemonade.

Only this morning, after my shower, still wrapped in a big towel, I looked critically at the two unfinished bottles of body oil — Neutrogena’s Norwegian Formula and Garnier’s Ultimate Beauty Oil — and said: “The time has come for you two to merge, my friends.” I carefully poured most of the light sesame stuff into the darker Argan-Macadamia-Almond-Rose stuff, shook it up (mixed, not stirred), and let things rest. Mind you, the Neutrogena oil had already undergone a mixing session a few weeks earlier, when I got tired of its mild yet distinctive scent, decided it needed a bit of oomph, and added to it a powerful few drops of vanilla essential oil.

I find the end result quite pleasing.

In a similar way, I ‘ve been known to mix my shampoos, hair conditioners, and body lotions. I decided that my current body lotion, by Laline, had too strong a coconut note to it. So first I added my fail-proof sensitive skin product, Aderma Exomega. But not only did it fail to overcome the coconut, it was too thick for the bottle’s pump to handle. Quick, Dove go fresh to the rescue! The concoction works beautifully.

In the kitchen, however, I’m more careful about what I mix. The pink lemonade has become a classic in our family. But other than that, I usually restrict my mixtures to stuff that I eat, as opposed to ingredients meant for the whole family plus possible dinner guests. I might enjoy my plain yogurt mixed with apple sauce or fruit yogurt, but that’s my personal preference which I wouldn’t inflict on anyone else. I might think nothing of stirring together two different types of soy sauce plus a dash of BBQ sauce, a spritz of dry wine and a generous dash of brandy, but — oh wait, that’s just what I put into the marinade the other day. Plus orange marmalade, sliced lemon, garlic and ginger.

Told you. Mixing is fun.

Life behind bars

No, not that kind of bars!

I’m an upright citizen, by and large. Why, I hardly ever cross the street on a red light! I hardly ever accept work “under the table” (you know there are some clients one doesn’t say No to).

For years we avoided bars on our windows like – well, like one avoids living in a prison.

When we first moved into this apartment, we looked around the neighborhood, noticed that very few houses or apartments had bars, and said to each other that this must be the sign of a safe part of town. So we tried to ignore the issue as best we could.

Twenty-six years and three break-ins later, we broke down and gave in:bars on our windows

It wasn’t just the loss of cherished pieces of jewelry, laptop with Important Documents on it, camera with Precious Photos, some cash, accompanied by the horrendous mess and helpless feeling. Anyone who’s house was burgled claims that the worst part is the feeling of invasion of privacy: the fact that someone has gone through your most intimate things – underwear both clean and dirty, notebooks with secret recipes, letters from long-lost friends and lovers, checkbooks, mementos, and whatnot.

The first burglary  occurred years ago, when Hubby and I were on a trip abroad, and my folks, Clara & Nachum, stayed here with the kids. They inadvertently left a certain window open. Burglars came in during the night and, without waking anyone up, made off with my parents’ wallets.

The second burglary occurred a few summers ago, when we were only a few blocks away, at a local restaurant. Apparently we hadn’t impressed upon our house-guest, a cousin from Canada, the importance of locking both windows and shutters of her room (currently my study). Not that I’m sure it would have made a difference. Imagine how guilty we felt when Cousin lost her jewelry, though luckily not her passport and travel documents. My own greatest loss was of sentimental value: items that cannot be replaced, either because we couldn’t afford them or because they were literally one of a kind, or used to belong to a loved one who was one-of-a-kind but has been pushing up the daisies — or whatever flowers grow in Eden Memorial Park, CA — for 30 years.

After that 2nd break-in, I wrote an angry letter to all future burglars. Silly me. How many English speaking burglars who read blogs are there in this city? The least I could’ve done was have my post translated into common local languages, including Hebrew, Arabic [say 3 varieties thereof], Russian, Amharic, and so on. After all, Israel is a melting pot, you know. Then printed out the letter and had it circulated as a leaflet or pamphlet, perhaps with an attractive gift included, such as a coupon for a free drink at a local kiosk.

Back to the present.

Tami, our sweet insurance-agent’s-assistant, tut-tutted at me over the phone. The policeman on the scene scowled unsympathetically. At least, I’m assuming he did. Fact is, we were abroad at the time and the one who discovered the break-in and handled the crisis (with the help of our nosy-but-friendly neighbor and our daughter’s guidance) was our longtime cleaning-lady. The neighbor, let’s call her Rae, has a brother, let’s call him Jack, who just happens to be a metalworker and welder specializing in window bars, in addition to his day-job as a social worker. Everybody knows you can’t make a living as a social worker, at least not here in Israel.

And so our window bars came into being.

Must say, they’re not quite as ugly as I feared. We do have two escape routes in case of fire or other catastrophes. And the bars have several advantages:

  1. They do give me a certain amount of peace of mind. I can leave windows & shutters open when I pop out to the grocery.
  2. The bars with the belly will – I hope – become a home to potted plants such as herbs for cooking and flowers that smell nice – hopefully without attracting bees and other insects; is that a realistic hope?
  3. At last I have a way of protecting my remaining real treasures, such as:

– My rock collection, including the oyster shells from my first visit to the U.S.

– My braid (cut off at age 10, after years of “Ouch!” and “Keep still!”)

Oyster shells

Oyster shells

Nina's braid

My braid

 

 

 

 

 

 

– My 2 volumes of The Pickwick Club, Tauchnitz Edition, Leipzig, 1842 – precisely what your average, drug-money seeking bum in our city is looking for!

The Picwick Club

The Picwick Club

מה אתם יודעים על היפנותרפיה

או: הכדורים שהכי תורמים לשפיותי

 ג’ולייטה שהתה במחיצתי כחצי שנה, מועילה להפליא בדרכה השקטה והבלתי-מתיימרת. אלא שאז החלטתי שאני צריכה עוד אחת, בעיקר בשביל אותם ימים שג’ולייטה לא עמי. זה קורה, מה לעשות. אני לא אוהבת להרגיש שאני לגמרי תלויה בה, כך שאני לא תמיד לוקחת אותה אתי באשר אלך. ולפעמים אני מתחרטת על כך.

אז ספרתי זאת לאוה, והיא הציעה לי את רוזטי. קצת גדולה יותר אבל לא פחות יפה, והיה משהו בחזותה שגרם לי להאמין שהיא חדשה יותר, ירוקה יותר.

כמובן, רוזטי היתה חייבת ללמוד את המלאכה. היא הגיעה טאבולה ראסה – ביטוי קצת מצחיק בהתחשב בעגלגלותה – והיתה צריכה לעבור הכשרה, תקופת חפיפה, קצת התנסות מעשית. שלב ההדרכה הראשונית היה כמובן בתחום של אוה. משם ואילך זה היה תלוי בי. הייתי צריכה להחזיק בה ולהתאמן יחד אתה.

ישר על-ההתחלה הבחנתי בכך שרוזטי היא “טיפוס”. ובעצם, למה לא? מדוע שלא תהייה לה אישיות משלה? האם כל המורות, או האחיות, נניח, הן אותו הדבר, רק בגלל שהן ממלאות את אותו תפקיד? רוזטי היתה יותר חצופה וחסרת סבלנות. היא דהרה קדימה, נמרצת ומלאת אור ואנרגיה, כשהיא מפלסת דרכה בעליצות אך בנחישות דרך כאב וקשיים. כל כך שונה מג’ולייטה שלי עם אישיותה המופנמת יותר, כל מעשיה שקולים ומחושבים.

בהתחלה חשבתי שהכל סבבה.

אבל אחר כך רוזטי התחילה להסתלבט על ג’ולייטה, להקניט אותה,  לקרוא לה זקנה ומיושנת בדרכיה, להגיד שאין לה מושג בשיטות חדשניות ומתקדמות, שהיא לא מעודכנת טכנולוגית. לגלגה על איטיותה ובכלל המעיטה בערכה ורצתה להיות השחקנית הראשית, לבדה באור הזרקורים. ג’ולייטה לא טרחה להשיב מלחמה, ונפנפה באדישות את המתקפה. היא התעלמה מהטירונית השאפתנית והמשיכה בדרכה, מתרכזת בצד החזק שלה, ביכולתה להקל עלי ולהרגיע אותי בשעותי הקשות.

אין מנוס, אצטרך לתפוס את רוזטי לשיחה. להעמיד אותה במקומה. רק זה חסר לי – מלחמה בין הג’ולות שלי.

 הנפשות הפועלות:

ג’ולייטה, משמאל, תכולה בעיקר; רוזטי, משמאל, ירקרקה (מקנאה?); אוה

Julietta & Rosetti

אוקיי, פיניטה לה קומדיה. הגיעה השעה להסביר איך בדיוק הגולות האלה עוזרות לי.

זה שנה שלמה שאני נאבקת בכאבים, בעקבות ניתוח במערכת העכול שסיבך את חיי, וסופו שהזיק יותר מאשר הועיל. במשך חודשים ארוכים התנסיתי בכל מיני משככי כאבים, לטוב ולרע, על כל תופעות הלואי שלהם:  אופטלגין, טרמדקס, ליריקה, גבפנטין, אלטרולט, טרגין. אבל שום דבר לא הצליח להשפיע במקרים של כאב עז. לא זו בלבד, אלא שעצם הציפייה לכאב גרמה למתח נפשי וגופני, שכמובן רק מעצים את הכאב.

עד שאוה שחמורוב, הפסיכולוגית שלי, הציעה היפנותרפיה. אוה היא לא רק פסיכולוגית קלינית ורפואית מנוסה מאד, אשה נפלאה שמקרינה חמימות ורוגע, אלא גם בעלת רשיון לטיפול בהיפנוזה. ואני יודעת ששיטת טיפול זו מתאימה לי מכיוון שנעזרתי בה בעבר אצל אוה, לפני כעשרים שנה, כאשר השתמשנו בה כדי לסייע לי להתגבר על הפחד-מנהיגה שלי. אבל הבה נחזור להווה:

אני שוקעת להנאתי בכורסת העור בחדר-העבודה המוכר-והחביב של אוה, ותוך דקה כל גופי רפוי, עיני נעצמות, ולמרות שנדמה לי שאני “סתם” נחה, למעשה אני כבר במצב היפנוטי. קולה של אוה מנחה אותי לחוש את הגולה החדשה בידי, לעשות הכרה אתה ועם סגולותיה המיוחדות. מילותיה של אוה הם כמו לחש-נחש שמטיל עליה כישוף: היא הופכת להיות גולת-קסמים, עם כח ריפוי נדיר.

 כיצד הגולה מבצעת את תפקידה כבר תלוי בי, כיד הדמיון הטובה עלי. אני יכולה, למשל, לדמיין לעצמי איך הגולה שטה במערכת העיכול שלי (זוכרים את הסרט “המסע הפנטסטי”?), מטהרת את השטח מ”מוקשים” או חומרים בלתי רצויים, ואפשר גם מתיזה על דפנות המעי ספריי משקם ומבריא. הרעיון הראשי הוא, שאחרי שאני מתאמנת אצל אוה, אני יכולה להמשיך את התהליך בבית בכוחות עצמי: אני נכנסת להרפייה עמוקה ומשתמשת בדמיון מודרך כדי להפיג את הכאב, לקטוע את גלי הכאב באיבם, לפני שהם מציפים אותי ומותירים אותי תשושה.

 וכך ג’ולייטה ואני יצרנו לעצמנו שיגרה ברוכה. הייתי מתארגנת לי בנוחות במיטה, על הספה, בכורסא, או איפה שבא לי, מחזיקה את ג’ולייטה בידי, עוצמת עיני, לוקחת כמה נשימות עמוקות, ומתרכזת בהרפייה: שרירי הפנים, הכתפיים, הגוף כולו מהקרקפת ועד קצות הבהונות. ואז אני מזמינה את ג’ולייטה להכנס לפעולה. דמיינתי לעצמי כיצד היא נעה בבני-מעי, שואבת לתוכה את כל הכאב ומאפסנת אותו זמנית בתוכה. (כמו הטארדיס, ג’ולייטה גדולה מבפנים וקטנה מבחוץ… והיא בקשר עם החלל החיצון. כשהיא מסיימת את מלאכת הטיהור, היא משגרת את האיכס לאתר מיוחד בכוכב לכת ייעודי.) אחר כך היא ממשיכה לנקודה הבעייתית – נקודת ההשקה (אנסטומוסיס) ומתיזה שם ג’ל קריר ומאלחש.

 נשמע טפשי? ילדותי? מה אכפת לי. העיקר שזה עובד.

 לא שהיפנוזה ודמיון מודרך תפסו את מקומם של כל התרופות שאני לוקחת. אבל התהליך כן ייתר חלק מהתרופות, ואפשר לי להקטין את המינון של תרופות אחרות. וכאשר מגיע גל כאב, העובדה שאני יכולה להזניק את ג’ולייטה לקראתו והיא קוטעת אותו זו ממש הקלה.

 מקומה הקבוע של ג’ולייטה הוא על שידת הלילה ליד המיטה, נתונה בקופסת פלסטיק קטנה וחמודה. לקחתי אותה אתי כאשר נסענו לחו”ל, וגם בנסיעותי  לתל אביב בימים שאני באה לעזור עם הנכדים. וכך עלה בדעתי שעדיף להשאיר את ג’ולייטה במקומה בבית, ולארגן לעצמי בת-זוג לנסיעות. וכך קרה שבחרתי ברוזטי – דומה אך שונה. אני נשבעת שלא עשיתי שום מאמצים להעניק לרוזטי אישיות משלה. אבל ככה זה יצא. שלא כמו ג’ולייטה, היא לא רק הקשיבה לי; תמיד היה לה מה לומר. היא חצופה וחסרת סבלנות, פורצת קדימה, שועטת ובועטת, מכוונת קרניים של אור ואנרגיה לעבר המטרה, מחסלת כל צר ואויב; וממשיכה בהקרנת אור מרגיע ומרפא. זו שיטת הפעולה שלה.

יכול להיות שאנשים אחרים התנסו בהיפנותרפיה בצורה אחרת. כל מה שנשאר לי לומר זה שהשיטה הזו עזרה ועוזרת לי המון. רכשתי יכולת חדשה, כלי חדש, שיישאר אתי וישרת אותי מעתה ואילך.

The Power of Hypnotherapy

OR

How I Avoided Losing My Marbles

Julietta had been with me for about half a year, extremely helpful and effective in her quiet, unassuming way, when I decided I needed another one, for those times when Julietta wasn’t around. It happens, you know. I don’t like to feel totally dependent on her and so don’t always take her with me wherever I go. And sometimes I regret it.

So I told Ewa about it, and she offered me Rosetti. A bit larger but no less good-looking, and something about her gave me the impression that she was younger, more green.

Of course, Rosetti had to learn the job. She was a tabula rasa – which is funny considering her roundness – and needed, in addition to initial indoctrination, a sort of internship, hands-on experience was required.

The initial induction and instruction were up to Ewa, of course, but the rest was up to me. I had to hold her and practice with her.

Right from the start I could tell that Rosetti was “a character”. And why wouldn’t she have a distinct personality of her own? Are all teachers, or nurses, say, the same, just because they serve the same function?

Rosetti was more brash and impatient. She charged ahead with energy and brightness, lightheartedly yet determinedly thrashing her way through pain and difficulties. So different from my Julietta, whose manner was more low-key, her actions more thoughtful and considered.

I thought it was fine, at first.

But then Rosetti began picking on Julietta, mocking her for being old, and old-fashioned, and not up to scratch on new methods and techniques. Not at the forefront of technology. Teased her for dragging her feet, and on the whole belittling her and wanting the entire stage to herself.

Julietta didn’t bother to respond. It was all water off a duck’s back to her. She ignored the young upstart and just carried on doing what she did best, which was soothe and calm me in my hours of need.

I’ll have to speak to Rosetti. Sort her out. The last thing I need is strife among my marbles.

Dramatis Personae:

Julietta & Rosetti

Julietta & Rosetti

Julietta on the left, bluish for the most part; Rosetti on the right (green with envy?); Ewa

Okay, enough with the comedy act. Time for the real story of how these glass marbles are helping me.

I’ve been fighting pain for the past year, following digestive-tract surgery that ended up doing more harm than good, having complicated rather than solved a certain medical condition. I’d been using all sorts of pain-killers, with their relative benefits and unpleasant side effects: Optalgin (Metamizole), Tramadex, Lyrica , Gabapentin , Eltrolet , Targin . But none had the desired effect of prompt relief from severe pain. Also, the mere anticipation of pain caused my body to tense up, which obviously exacerbates pain.

It was my therapist, Ewa Shahamorov, who proposed hypnotherapy. Ewa is not only a highly experienced clinical psychologist and a warm, wonderful person, but also a licensed hypnotherapist. And I know this specific method works for me because we’ve taken advantage of it in the past, nearly 20 years ago, when we applied it to help me get over my fear of driving. But back to the present:

As I easily and willingly slipped into a state of hypnosis, Ewa guided me to study the marble, feel it, get acquainted with its unique features. As she spoke quietly, her words “put a spell” on the chosen marble: it was becoming a magic marble with extraordinary healing powers. Exactly how the marble would accomplish its task was up to me and my imagination. I could, for example, imagine it traveling through my digestive tract (think Fantastic Voyage,) sweeping it for “mines” or unwanted detritus, cleansing it, then perhaps spraying the walls with a health-giving spray. The idea was that, after practicing in Ewa’s leather armchair while listening to her soothing voice, I’d be able to do it myself at home: go into a state of deep relaxation and employ guided imagery to diminish the pain and to cut short the painful waves that washed over me, leaving me whimpering and exhausted.

And so Julietta and I settled into our routine. I’d get into a comfortable position (in bed, on the sofa, armchair or wherever), hold the marble in my hand, close my eyes, take a few deep breaths, consciously relax my face, my shoulders, my entire body… Then I’d invite Julietta go do her thing. I imagined her sailing through my large intestine, vacuuming all the pain and storing it temporarily inside her. (Like the Tardis, Julietta is bigger on the inside… and she has contact with Outer Space, where she can later dump the load of pain in an authorized location on a dedicated planet.) Then she moves on to the touchy spot in my intestine – the point of anastomosis  – and applies a cool, anesthetizing gel.

Sounds silly? Childish? Who cares. It works for me.

I can’t say hypnosis and guided imagery have replaced all my meds. But I have been able to eliminate a few and cut back on dosages. And, when a wave of pain comes along, the fact that I can set Julietta on it and the wave actually subsides, is a huge relief.

Julietta’s place is in a small jar on my night-table. I took her with me when we traveled abroad, and I’ve taken her with on days when we go to Tel Aviv to spend the day helping out with the grandkids. So it occurred to me that it would be a great help if I could leave Julietta in her safe place and have a traveling-companion marble as well. Ewa agreed, offered me her bowl of uninitiated marbles, from which I chose Rosetti: similar yet different.

I swear I didn’t set out to “make” Rosetti different, to imbue her with any specific character. But it happened all the same. She didn’t just “listen”, like Julietta; she answered back. She’s cheeky and impatient and charges ahead, bursting forth with strong, pointy beams of light and energy which knock dead any unwanted substances; then she radiates healing beams. That’s just how she works.

Other people may have had different experiences with hypnotherapy. All I can say is, it has helped me a lot, and continues to do so. I have acquired a new capability, a new tool, that can stay with me forever.