Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, and cabbages and kings

In other words, about this and that. Especially that.

Dateline: Wednesday night, December 1, 23:52, Jerusalem, Israel

For the curious, the quotation in the title is from Lewis Carroll’s The Walrus and The Carpenter (from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

See the blog post after this one or go to http://www.jabberwocky.com/carroll/walrus.html

Briefly, I have been getting on with life.

Big time.

1. On Tuesday-Wednesday, November 30-December 1, I spent hours and hours preparing an application for recognition as a professional translator and interpreters by the ITA (Israel Translators Association). I finally went to bed at 4:30 in the morning. This in itself is an indication of the fact that my accumulated sleep surplus (from staying in bed late in the morning) has paid dividends!

2. The envelope with the application had to be postmarked no later than December 1 in order to qualify for a discount on the fee. I got it to the post office about noon, and the clerk immediately franked it. I even had stamps at home and got the correct postage from the Israel Post website. I think I’m relatively over my terror of the Internet…  :roll:

3. Went off to chemo, picking up this week’s chaperone on the way. I felt like a “veteran”, and when I was told in advance by Dr. Ilana Kedem that my cocktail hadn’t been ordered, despite the fact that I had faxed the results yesterday, I wasn’t too bothered. At least I know the system by now, and both Dr. Kedem and my lovely Michel Gordon looked after me a treat. Best laid plans…

4. I thought I’d spend all of the chemo time asleep, catching up with sleep, so I was given a bed. My chaperone even got  me two (!) light quilts (US: comforters), as I was cold. Toasty isn’t the world. Taxol can make one sensitive to temperatures, particularly the cold.

5. In fact, we spent all the time chatting. I told Aden how great I felt yesterday, when I spoke to three clients from three different organizations to ask them if they would be willing to sign my recommendation form (part of the application for ITA recognition). I was quite “blown away” by their heartwarming reactions when they heard my voice and why I was calling. Some said they missed me, and they were all delighted to hear of my progress. One of them had stopped receiving my updates when her college changed part of her email address, and fearing the worst, had not dared contact me to find out how I was doing…

6. I am seeing a community work student once a week. She’s doing her praktikum (“stage”"in Hebrew) at our local community centre, and I’m one of her “clients”. It took me an hour to put her into the picture, about the ITA, how much progress it had  made over the 20 plus years that I’ve been a member, how computers have become an integral and indispensable part of the translator’s life, and how I ignored the recognition process for months because I was taken up with my own rollercoaster and was convinced that I would never translate or interpret again. I finally reached the point when I could quote my clients’ reactions, and she urged me to remember the “high” that I experienced and cherish it and remember it when I come down and if I get despondent again.

7. Talking of which: This evening I watched for the second time part of an episode of a wonderful BBC programme called The Secret Millionaire. In this episode we saw a support group of people who have lost their loved ones to cancer. They had written pieces about how they felt about the loss. One woman was so distressed that she couldn’t continue to read out her own piece, and a fellow member of the group completed the reading for her. I remembered how in the summer I had literally felt envy for all of these people who had died, and whose suffering was over. I have said to people, and genuinely meant it, that if in the summer when I was on the AC chemo treatment, I had been given an utterly-reliable, guaranteed-no-suffering suicide pill, I would have taken it.

Of course, Dorothy Parker pointed out that no such method exists:

Dorothy Parker tried to commit suicide more than once, but one of her best known poems is “Resume”-

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.


Seeing this same group and hearing the same voices brought back the thoughts and feelings I had in the summer. Now, fortunately, I am feeling infinitely better and utterly different. It shows how time and circumstances can change one’s outlook out of all recognition. But when you are hurting and suffering physically, emotionally and psychologically, when you are in the depths of despair and despondency, when you can’t see the light at the tunnel because you’re so far down in the abyss that there is only the most profound blackness round one, there is no hope and no reason not to feel and believe that it will always be like this.

8. Buoyed by the thought that this was my eighth Taxol treatment, and I have only four to go, I made an effort and learned the names of three of the other nurses in addition to Michele: Ariella, Emilia and Vivi. I have also decided that the day of my last chemo treatment, I shall turn up with a couple of bottles of my favourite wine (Rashi Moscato d’Asti, see http://www.theshalomgroup.com/wine/rashi.html) and some snackettes for the wonderful nursing staff. A fitting way of celebrating the fact that these wonderful, dedicated, hard-working women help patients through a very difficult time in their lives.

9. The taxi driver who took Aden and me home turned out to be a real character. When I told him where I lived (Zichron Tuvia Street), he asked who Tuvia was, since zichron means memory. I explained that the phrase in fact comes from one of the Psalms, and rather than a person, the “Tuvia” actually refers to good things (tuv).


Zichron Tuvia (Recollection of [God's] goodness), the neighborhood between Nahalat Zion and Mahaneh Yehuda through which the street runs. The name comes from the verse in the Ashrei (Psalm 145:8): Zecher rav tuvcha yabiu  זכר רב טובך יביעו, which translates as “A recollection of Your abundant goodness they shall utter”.

Misled by my reference to the Psalms, the taxi driver, Yossi, decided to ask  me a question relating to the parshat hashavua. This fascinating account, which lasted all the way home to our neighbourhood of Nachlaot, will be narrated in a separate post.

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