Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lieutenant Energizer

Last Thursday Dan was promoted lieutenant (see the picture here). We were invited to the well attented (more than 50 soldiers and officers) ceremony at his base. While we waited for the ceremony to start, some soldiers spotted Tom in uniform and asked me what is he doing in the unit. 'He is attending a course', I informed them. Mentioning the course number generated a big 'wow' in response. They don't know exactly what this number stands for (neither do I), but they know it's something prestigious. This reminded me the nuthouse joke, where the inmates laugh at joke numbers rather then the jokes themselves.
I fixed his new ranks on one of his shoulders and my 'being Dan's mother is a challenge' short speech was followed by general laughter. Three of his commanders spoke highly of his achievements and attitude, and told funny anecdotes to prove their praises. The highest ranking officer summarized it all by comparing Dan to the Energizer Bunny for his relentless activity.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Came down from the office and saw the Italian restaurant closed. Weird, I thought, the times must be really tough. The nearby coffee shop was about to close. "It's Holocaust Day", came the waiter's answer to my enquiry. I felt so embarrased I forgot it starts tonight.

Usually we go about our daily business and don't think about the Holocaust. I'm not sure even the survivors think about it every day. For me the Holocaust is not just a big tragedy that happened in the past, it shapes the way I am, think, do or don't do things, even my children's life.

My Berger (that's my maiden name) grandparents lived in the small Hungarian village of Szentjobb in today's Romania. They were a traditional Jewish family with 8 children, a village shop and a soda water filling station. My aunt Ester survived Auschwitz and my father survived labor and prisoner camps. My other grandparents were luckily on the right side of the border, and after just one week of German-Hungarian occupation (during which they already implemented anti-Jewish laws), the Russians liberated their town (looking for watches to steal and women to rape).

My parents married late and I was a late and only child. They had no energy for more. My husband's story is similar. He is also a late and only child for the same reason. Our children have no cousins. I could have had a large happy family, to be loved by and lean on.

The murdered third of the Jewish people could have bettered the world. They won't compose music, write literature, win Nobel prizes for outstanding scientific achievements, raise new generations of followers. Their potential contribution is lost forever.

Monday, April 13, 2009

It's All in My Head

I used to look at healthy appearing people claiming to suffer from migraine headaches and couldn't understand what is this mysterious invisible disease that cripples them. A few years ago when I started suffering from migraines myself, it was like the famous Schweik replica "ormester ur, alazatosan jelentem meg egy szimulans diszno meghalt" (pardon my accentless Hungarian, it roughly means "Mr. sergeant, I humbly report another pretender pig has died"). And, thanks to medical tehnology, the disease became less invisible (see its MRI image on the left), although still mysterious, despite the excellent information available in the Mayo Clinic disease index (which I use and recommend to anyone in need of medical information).
After trying all sorts of remedies (accupuncture, medication, stress free lifestyle-I wish) I still suffer from migraines, but less often than before. So how does it feel? It goes in stages:
Stage 1: Optimistic Disbelief
Starting to feel a headache creeping up, but there's no way this will develop into a migraine. I'm not taking any stinkin' medicine, it will go away by itself. It doesn't.
Stage 2: Minor Realization
OK, it's not going anywhere without some help, I'm taking my usual OTC headache pill. 20 minutes and it's over without noticing. Or not.
Stage 3: The Show is On
It hurts so much that all I can think about is finding a dark, quiet place to lie down. I crawl into bed. Time for the heavy ammunition: my migraine pills. I fall asleep.
Stage 4: Victory and Fear
I open my eyes and the pain is gone. I'm happy. How long will it last? I'm affraid of moving or doing anything that might bring the pain back. It's like walking on thin ice. One wrong step and you fall into the icy water.
Stage 5: Joining the Partisan Movement
The self-fulfilling prophecy works. The pain is back and is here to stay for another day. Ammunitionless, I surrender. I'm trying a new weapon to defeat the bastard: I'm blogging about it.