Saturday, December 26, 2009


Winter has now officially arrived. Am I the only one who enjoys this time of hibernation, short days, and long nights? It is my last week before I return to work. Soon it will be 2010, and I realise that it is really only this year (2009) that I truly entered and acknowledged the digital age! I have at last surrendered, and now I write a blog and read from a Kindle. I hardly recognise myself!

My life has always been one of coincidences - synchronistic happenings which occur in different countries, at different times. Seemingly miraculous meetings with people from my different and varied experiences, places, and interests.

I remember a long ago very dark winter in London, trying to descend the stairs into the tube at Oxford Circus, being jostled by the teeming crowds. I banged against someone and we both turned around to either shout, or apologise to each other. I found myself staring into the face of Michael Klein, last seen years before at Northview High in Johannesburg. Or the time when I walked through the stiles at Earls Court station, at rush hour, and heard a voice from above, "well, if it isn't Nesta." I looked up into the face of the tall man hovering above, Peter Cimring, also from high school. Peter was a year ahead of us, a really clever guy. He suffered from congenital cirrhoses of the liver and sadly he died in a pensione in France a few years later. These seemingly random events heralded a lifetime of similar occurrences.

Doris Lessing has described these events as being synchronistic, rather than coincidental. Everything exists simultaneously. Past, present, and future are constructs we have created in order to function. Every person, place, object, and thought, are interconnected. For the most part we are closed to these experiences. But they seep through. How often is it that we think of someone only to have them phone us in the next minute? When I wrote my first, (unpublished) memoir, I sat typing in my cottage in Rockridge in Oakland. It was at night, and I typed about Raymond (Rafi - my late husband)'s nightclub in Tel Aviv. The phone rang, interrupting the flow of my writing. I answered and heard a man ask if I was Nesta, who lived in Israel. This was the man who co-owned the nightclub with Ray, a tall, brash American who returned to America at the time we moved to a kibbutz. I remember Ray telling me that he heard he had died of a drug overdose! He assured me he was alive and well, and then he asked whether I was still with Raymond, and I told him Ray had been killed in the Yom Kippur War. This man had obtained my number through a potential business partner of his, a South African man who lives in San Francisco.

Last week I checked my e-mail to find invitations to people on Facebook that I last saw 35 years ago! One woman is Danish, I told her I still own a pair of socks she knitted for me 35 years previously. I have connected with family and friends in Australia, Denmark, South Africa, Israel, Canada, all in a week. My sister-in-law found me online and we reconnected. She and her family live in Toronto.

These are the same connections and synchronistic experiences, but they now happen in the digital age. Thanks to the web, the internet, e-mail, skype, videos, we don't even have to step away from our sofas or tables to meet old friends.

Indeed, we are all connected.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter solstice

2009 draws to an end. My mom died exactly today a year ago, and I lit a yahrzeit candle. Last night was the last night of Hanukah, and also erev shabat. A blaze of dancing lights illuminated my space.

It is no surprise that I have spent quite a while thinking about eyes, and sight. I am grateful beyond belief that this time the surgery appears to have done what it is supposed to do. My pressure is appropriately low. My bleb, the doctor assures me, looks wonderful!!! This news is truly joyous.

These past few years have revolved around my eyes. Although prior to my first eye surgery in 2006 I had glaucoma, I used drops and had no problems. However, at the beginning of 2006, after some truly horrendous events happened at work, and which I will write about at some stage, I awoke one morning unable to see out of my left eye. It was as if a dark grey curtain descended and I could not raise it or pull it aside. I thought maybe I had 'squished' my eye while asleep, and soon the world would become clear, but the curtain remained static. I am not sure how, but I drove myself to the ER in Kaiser, Richmond. The lovely young doctor who checked me and my eye stated that the pressure in the eye seems to be so high that she thinks her machine may not be reading it correctly. She sent me to the eye department where a doctor confirmed the reading and put me on steroid drops. As it happened, I had an appointment with my 'glaucoma' doctor the next day. The pressure did not decrease even with the use of steroids and my regular drops. Thus began my saga. My doctor sent me to the glaucoma specialist. This doctor is truly wonderful, but I have had to see him far more times than I care to count. He has been respectful and thorough in his care. He involves me in decision making, explains what he is doing, the reason for the surgeries and the subsequent ghastly procedures. If it were not for him, his care, and his humor, I am not sure how I would have managed.

Besides western medicine I tried homeopathy, acupuncture, and tibetan medicine, to no avail, glaucoma is my inheritance.

After each surgery I experience a sense of vulnerability that is difficult to put into words. Our working bodies are such intricate, magnificent machines. When something goes wrong, one's whole experience in the world is changed. My spatial and depth perception changes, leaving me feeling as if I have drunk a little too much. I bang into objects, feel wonky, and the worst part is that my memory seems to float away. I cannot recall simple things. My doctor insists there is no correlation between the surgeries, subsequent procedures, and my mind, but I know there is. Because the pressure did not decrease substantially after the first two surgeries he would stick a needle into my eye. This is a technique devised by a sadist cum torturer to 'needle' the eye and open the bleb. The other, possibly even worse procedure, required me to 'massage' my eyeball and press the contents upward. I couldn't bring myself to do this because every time I pressed into my eyeball I felt like vomiting. With the blessing of the passing of time, and a decrease in my pressure, the memory of these horrors faded, only to resurface with this latest surgery. But I have not required any of these invasive procedures this time. It is miraculous. I actually feel good, my mind seems to have remained relatively intact, and I feel okay in the world. This is a really blessed way to end the year. I am thankful indeed.