“Every few minutes I would reflexively check to see if my gas mask was still in place and, more importantly, if the holster still contained the self-injectable 10-mg canister of diazepam that had been given to me in Kuwait. The diazepam was to give me a happy death in the event of an Iraqi chemical attack… what they wanted more than anything else in the world was exactly what I was trying to avoid: a fight.”
War Reporting for Cowards: Between Iraq and a Hard Place by Chris Ayres
My memory of the details is a nightmarish blur: work, church, Christmas bags, writing, wind, rain, bombs, shooting, news, Paris, websites, vessels, Spectre, Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, gym, restless sleep, hospital appointments, emails, study, French homework and general life.
Tonight is our office Christmas party. I can’t believe we’ve already got to this time of year – it’s caught me off guard and I’m just not ready!
There is a staccato pace to my life and yet my body and brain are responding by abdicating their duties and preferring to shut down. I believe I’ve now completely switched to auto-pilot.
It’s hibernation season here in the Northern Hemisphere. Last night I literally (the correct sense of the word) sat on the sofa from dinner time to bed time – catatonic. I achieved … wait for it … NOTHING! If we had had a TV, I’m sure my only movement would have been my finger on a remote control, flipping robotically through channels without registering anything specific.
It’s in hibernation season that I am most cowardly.
I wonder if you can relate? All the fight seems to have left me and I’m not sure I’m brave enough to face some of the things I would, in a different season, laugh in the face of. It has got so bad that this morning I even opted for a bacon butty for breakfast instead of my preferred healthier choices – I’m already regretting it.
Do you ever wonder if you really have what it takes? I do. Often.
Have you ever, in an exuberant, endorphin-enduced high, imagining you could achieve anything, signed up for the very thing you now doubt you have the brains or energy to accomplish?
I’ve begun two courses simultaneously. Commencement date: yesterday. Reading material: ample. Homework: challenging. Period of study: up to 2 years (hoping to do it in 1). Do I have what it takes? Well, in a brave moment last month I did think so.
Last year I watched the 1970’s film, ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers‘. It’s a somewhat dated, but remarkably eerie, unmissable dystopic horror film starring a terrifying curly-haired Donald Sutherland, in which one by one people’s lively spirited selves are snatched away in sleep and replaced by zombie-like automatons.
As the horror genre codes prescribe, no-one will believe the heroine when she goes to the authorities for help, no matter how much she pleads or how much evidence she gives.
“She looks like Nyamazela,” our heroine cries “She sounds like Nyamazela.” Now in tears, voice wavering: “But she’s just NOT Nyamazela!” The helpful voice on the phone is suddenly gone and the line goes dead… Cue the shot of the abandoned phone booth with payphone receiver dangling ominously on its cord.
The only explanation is that I’ve been snatched.
What will happen in the next episode? Will we ever see Nyamazela again? Is there an antidote pill she can take to get her enthusiastic self back?