Watson

Post defined by the adjective suffix meaning “without”

Not only motherless, but catless as well. That's me, at present. Manasse died, 5 days after Mum did. He was 17, which I'm told compares to a human lifespan of 84. And as with Mum, the overriding sense was one of acceptance. I have yet to cry for either one. Perhaps I'm just heartless.

Meanwhile, I've adopted two female kittens, who were born to a friend of a friend's cat in Amsterdam on the 25th of May. I'll pick them up at the end of next month, and hope to have them with me for years to come.



I've christened them Pax and Izzy.

Also, I'm going to be jobless again in a few short months. I signed a three-month extension to my contract yesterday, but I'd already made up my mind that I'm not staying, even before I knew there was no possibility of getting that permanent position they dangled in front of me to get me to sign on the first time round. I'll come right out and say it: ABB is one of the worst companies I've ever worked for. It's not the people (they're lovely), but it's the organisation itself that is at fault. Sheer endless lines of communication. No written procedures. No accountability, high work pressure, and churn of over 10%. On top of that, I don't like being a people manager, or a customer services manager as I am now. I'm working flat out, 70 to 80 hours a week; right now, I'm doing the work of 3 people, and while the money's good, I'm close to exhaustion myself.

But instead of trawling the job boards, here I am, checking into LJ again... Good to see I've still got my priorities in order, eh? ;-)
cry

'The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude' - Thornton Wilder

It's been 11 days since my mother died.

I was actually receiving my first Pfizer jab when the call came through that Mum had had a stroke and was being treated in hospital. When I got there, and spoke to the neurologist, it soon became clear that there wasn't very much they could do for her. This was the Friday before Pentecost; she died the Tuesday after.

Her funeral was last Wednesday, which my sister and I had organised according to Mum's wishes. The vicar from Mum's church came to remember her on behalf of her small Dutch Protestant community; my sister, my niece and myself spoke about what Mum had meant to us, and my nephew played the guitar beautifully. Unfortunately, because of the Covid restrictions still in place, not many people could attend, but those that did say it was a beautiful service and we did her proud.

I went back to work the day after, but had to give it up after a few hours, unable to focus and with a terrible headache. I'll try again Monday.
not important

"Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory." ~ Albert Schweitzer

I can't remember whether I mentioned I suffered a lung embolism two years ago in January here; and even though I had regained most of my health in the months following, a certain breathlessness on exertion remained. But then that breathlessness became noticeably more noticeable, and people began to comment on it. They also began asking me if I'd lost weight, which pleased me greatly even though I didn't think I had...but then I began to feel dog tired, and not just because there were nights I couldn't sleep because my heart felt like it was trying to break out from my chest. Still, it took a couple of months and several people nagging me before I went to see a doctor.

Turns out, I have an overactive thyroid. And possibly Graves' disease (they're still testing for it).

So now I'm on medication: something to bring my heart rate down (and it does seem to work!), and something to stop my thyroid from producing any more thyroid hormones. Then in three weeks, I'll get other meds to mimic those thyroid hormones; and I have been told I should be taking those for the next year to year and a half. Then, we'll see if I can get off them.

The takeaway from this for me is: you don't lose weight without putting in any effort :-(.
the follies

Addicted to K-drama

Woke up this morning with my eyes all puffy and red, because of the tears I shed the night before watching K-drama. It's something I find myself doing more and more these days, ever since I fell down the rabbit hole of Korean tv series on Netflix. It's okay though, as I read online that crying at movies is a common indicator of great emotional intelligence ;-).

Over the last few days, I've been binging on one of the most successful series in recent Korean television history, Crash Landing on You, starring Son Ye-jin and Hyun Bin (a couple in real life, aka JinBin). The story centres on a South Korean chaebol who while paragliding, accidentally crash lands in the DMZ, and is helped to get back to Seoul by a lovable group of North Korean soldiers and their dashing captain. Obviously, this isn't a straightforward return and I recommend you see it for yourself if you want to know exactly how it happens.



Late last year, I was enthralled by another Korean series, Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung. The main characters, an unmarried and free-spirited young lady who finds her calling as a 'historian' (i.e. a clerk who records the comings and goings of the King and his ministers) at Joseon's court, is played by Sin Se-kyung; and a young, and somewhat naive prince who tries to alleviate his terminal boredom by writing romance novels, by Cha Eun-woo...who simply has the dreamiest smile...



K-drama appeals for a number of reasons -- most noticeably, it's different to Western dramas in its squeaky clean content. The majority of K-dramas are G-rated and very clean: foul language is rare and strictly reserved to villains, and love scenes barely progress beyond kissing. And even that is just closed-mouths, bottom lip to upper lip for a second. But mostly, Korean dramas successfully create emotional connections with viewers. Characters are developed and brought through trials and tribulations in such a way that the audience relates to the characters and feels the same emotions. The cliff hanger endings of nearly every episode leave us squirming till the next episode can resolve the conflict. The tension is built up so expertly that it is more emotionally resonant when the main couple finally hold hands halfway through the series than when a full-blown bedroom scene happens in an American series.

In other news: Mum has settled into life at the care home, she's had both of her Covid jabs, and seems happy enough.
Me, I've started a new job, which I will tell you about later.


ETA: seems GIFs don't work here. Oh well.
2 men and a dog

She's moved in

Mum took up residence in the care home today.

She confided in me, just before we left the flat that had been her home for the last 6 years, that she was feeling a little apprehensive, maybe even a little scared, at the thought of going to live somewhere else -- but when I left her a few hours later, she was already eating cake and chatting to another resident in the communal living room ;-). I think she'll be alright. Or she will be in a day or two, when the results of her Covid test come back negative.

Now comes the hard part of clearing her flat, deciding what to do with all her possessions, checking all her papers, and informing all the relevant parties of her change of address. I should have asked for more than just 2 days off...

It's been a long day and I'm absolutely shattered, so I'll pick up the thread another time. I can't really think now, anyway.
epic fail

Don't panic!

So my sister was supposed to take Mum to the dental technician for her umpteenth appointment this morning, but she texted to say her boss hadn't approved her request for leave -- resulting in me having to make a mad dash across town to get to Mum's, get her out of bed, washed, clothed and fed, and finally, into a taxi. We arrived at the dental clinic at 10:44, right on time for her appointment at 10:45 ;-)

Umpteenth appointment, I said: well, Mum broke her dentures sometime in February. Got her an appointment to see the dental technician about a week and a half later; apparently, they were very busy. Mum habituated herself to living on soup and porridge; then, she was seen. And straight afterwards, the corona crisis happened, and all dentists were closed for two full months. They've been allowed to open again halfway through May, but aren't operating at full strength yet, and so Mum's had to come in for multiple fittings, each 2 weeks apart. Apparently, her next appointment, two weeks from now, will be her last.

But...while we were there, I suddenly remembered: I had left the house with a pot of rhubarb on the hob! I tried to call my neighbour, who has a key to my flat, but as luck would have it, he was out. When the taxi came back to pick us up (Mum has a subscription), I asked our driver if, after I'd settled Mum back in her chair at home, would he mind racing me across town to my flat which in my imagination was already either ablaze or severely water-damaged? Thankfully, he agreed...and waved the fare, saying it was all part of the service! To give you an indication: since I don't have a subscription to a taxi service, I rarely if ever book one; but if I did, to cover the distance between my flat and Mum's, I would expect to be charged somewhere in the region of 30-35 euros.

Luckily, when we turned into my street, my apartment building still looked intact -- and although my rhubarb had more or less been incinerated, all that was required of me to make it alright was to turn off the heat and open a window.
deerstalker

Of old people, the things that pass

In February 2014, Mum moved into her present abode. Ever since her last divorce in 1997, she had been living in a ground-floor flat in an inner city area that went from bad to worse, and after the second break-in in a year, my sister and I managed to persuade her to move to another part of the city...well, to the outskirts, really. And for some time, she was happy there.

But about two years ago, she began to forget things. Soon, she lost all sense of time; and I began to receive regular late night calls from worried neighbours telling me she was roaming the streets in search of a loaf of bread in the middle of the night. Many times, she locked herself out, and I'd have to come down from Amsterdam where I worked to let her in again. She flew into rages over the tiniest things; and began to lose the ability to express herself accurately, not being able to think of the words she needed. More and more, she began to fall back on the language she'd spoken in her childhood and teenage years: Malaysian. A language my sister and I don't speak. Eventually, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Then, she began to ail physically: bronchitis, pneumonia, falls, and broken ribs. I no longer received those calls to come get her, as she no longer went out into the street, and became increasingly housebound.

The first week of March, she told me that she thought she might be better off in a care home. I promised to look into it. Then, the coronavirus struck and everything was put on hold for 4 months.

Two weeks ago, a representative of the CIZ, the central authority for deciding what care an elderly individual needs and can claim under a particular law, came to assess her; and on Friday, we received the highest 'indication', entitling her to round the clock care, 24/7, in the care home of our choice. We opted for one that advertised catering to the needs of former Dutch-East Indian colonials. On Wednesday, the care home called to say she could move in the next day.

But because of the corona crisis and the restrictions pertaining to care and nursing homes during the recent lockdown, we hadn't had a chance to view it yet. All I knew about it was what I'd seen and read on their website. So I told them I wanted to have a look round first, and then decide.

So I went to inspect it yesterday. And I saw pictures of sawas and kampungs on the walls, batik throws on the seats, heard krontjong music playing, saw other Indos sitting and chatting in the communal living room...I'm hopeful that Mum will connect and make friends with these people, who share the same background as her, when I take her there next Tuesday. But I know I will feel like a terrible person, when I'll leave her there, with her suitcase, on her own for the first night.
happy bunny

I'm IN!

I don't believe it -- I'm in!

When I came back to LJ some months ago, I thought I could just pick up where I'd left off. Unfortunately though, I soon found out that LJ had other ideas: for the first time in all our many years together, it locked me out. It told me I could regain access if I reset my password (for the first time ever!) and that it would send a validation email...which never arrived. Not once; however many times I tried. Until tonight, when it finally did. I hope this means I am forgiven.

So what's been happening? Not a lot, as the lockdown continues and my world has shrunk. I rarely leave the house these days; and if I do, it's only to go grocery shopping for myself and/or my mum. I miss being able to meet up with friends and feel sad when I think of all the gigs, theatre shows and exhibitions I held tickets to or was planning to visit but that have been cancelled (though some have already been tentatively re-scheduled for next year), while at the same time I've enjoyed spending more time at home with the cat. I hope...nay, I think, he's enjoyed it, too.
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Amy

The Rona

And so the PM has just extended our 'intelligent lockdown' till April 28, with the proviso that it may be necessary to push that date out further into May. Basically, 2020 is already a write-off.

So, what does an 'intelligent lockdown' look like? Well, the measures taken are slightly less draconian than the ones my Italian or Spanish friends have to deal with. We are allowed to go out, for the essential food or medicine shop. We can even go out for a walk, but we are not to do so with more than 3 people (and keeping 6 ft distance all the time) or crowd parks and public spaces. We can't go out otherwise, as for the last 2 weeks all bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, markets, malls, hairdressers, nailbars, sun lounges have been closed. Gigs have been banned till further notice, but at least till June 1st. Which is a bummer as I was looking forward to going to see Queen again on May 28 and 29.

I'm in my third week working from home. Feels like three years. I don't mind, really, though I do miss 1) people 2) faster network connection 3) big monitor. Also, as off tomorrow, I'm conveying into GSK, who have bought Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. They've just couriered my new laptop over to me, so joy of joys, tomorrow, I can begin the day by figuring out how to set it up for GSK systems. 30 Days later, Pfizer will kick me off what systems of theirs I will still have access to, that are crucial to my work; and then the transition ought to be completed by July 31st.

They're calling it a Joint Venture, but really, it's just a takeover. And I don't know what it means for my prospects. My line manager has assured me my job is safe until at least September (when my contract expires -- Pfizer were going to offer me a permanent position after that, but GSK may have other ideas), and now, with the economy taking a hit because of the Rona, I may very well be looking for another job by the end of the year. Actually, she did say she'd understand if I started exploring job opportunities elsewhere immediately...but unfortunately, I like my job and so I'm still focused on doing it to the best of my abilities.
grumpypants

Corona madness

So, how about this coronavirus, eh?

We currently have 959 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Netherlands. 12 People so far have died, all elderly, with underlying health conditions. We have a total of 1,150 beds in ICU, 70% of which are usually taken.

At first, the government advised us to wash our hands, then to stop shaking hands. Halfway through last week, that changed to a recommendation to work from home as much as possible and to avoid large gatherings, until all venues with a crowd capacity larger than 100 were closed on Friday. Football matches and other sporting events, markets, theatre shows and gigs have been cancelled, and even big weddings and funerals have been banned. We'll have to wait and see if any of these measures will have the desired effect -- we are about 14 days behind on Italy so it's possible it'll turn out to have been too little, too late.

Meanwhile, I've been working from home since last Thursday, and will be doing so next week as well. I had tickets to go see a theatre show today, to which I had been looking forward since August last year, but alas!...and I've yet to find out whether these tickets will remain valid for another date, or whether I will be reimbursed. I also had a couple of gigs coming up in the next few weeks, all of which have been postponed 6 months or more. It's going to be a busy autumn! It's fine, though, I fully understand why it has to be this way for now.

What I can't understand though, is my countrymen stockpiling supplies. I was in the supermarket just now and there were no bananas or any kind of citrus fruit; no tinned and hardly any fresh vegetables, the dairy section had been raided; and don't even get me started on the toilet paper! I even saw a man make off with the bakery section's entire stash of baguettes -- he had to pay for 53 of these at the checkout! This despite government and branch officials coming on the telly almost every hour telling people there is no need for all this panic-buying, that the supply chains haven't been affected and there's plenty of everything to go around.