Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's not getting any better...

Right now, my life sucks.

My husband and I have had more arguments this week than we have in the past five years combined. I have cried more in the last eight days than I have in the whole last eight years. And, on top of everything else, I have managed to get myself a sinus infection, so the entire right side of my head is plugged shut, the right side of my face is puffed up…including a drooping eyelid which makes working on the computer a joy…my ear hurts, I’m dizzy, and I’ve had varying degrees of laryngitis since I woke up this morning. That’s not all, but unless you are into scatology, telling you more about how my body is dealing with all this would be over-sharing.

I am miserable, the most miserable I have been since Chuck died. I’m doing my part about accepting the inevitability of my situation and making genuine efforts to deal with it. But it feels like planning a funeral…it must be done and it must be done well, but I must be forgiven for my lack of enthusiasm for the task and my visceral negativity towards it.

I’m crying again. I can wrap my head…my logical, pragmatic mind…around this and make it happen. But my heart just feels like it is being simultaneously squeezed and shattered. I keep hoping I will wake up in the morning and this will all be just a horrific nightmare. But I know it is not and that next week is my husband’s last week home before he moves to Joburg, leaving me behind to deal with the agony alone.

This is going to be one of the worst Christmas seasons on record.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I am sick with sadness. Yesterday it was confirmed that my husband is being transferred to Johannesburg on 1 December. It is a permanent position, so we…me included…have to move.

I don’t want to go. I love Cape Town, I love my life here. I have put down roots and established a kind of security and contentedness that is new in my experience, and it is precious to me. My previous moves have always come with the sense of either moving away from something I did not like or moving to something better…this move feels like I am being ripped away from the very fabric of my existence. I do not know if I can ever again feel as settled and secure as I have over the past six years. Now I feel guarded…I know this can happen again and I don’t ever want to feel this way again.

I feel very much like I did nearly ten years ago when I answered my phone to hear a doctor telling me my husband had died. Shocked. Shaken. Unsettled. That was an event that shook my world to its foundations, changed my life in a way I did not welcome and without my consent. In certain aspects this is worse…that was dealing with an act of nature that none of us can change and therefore must accept. This is a human act that is ill-considered in more ways than you would believe: it will unnecessarily cost my husband’s employer a boatload of money and it hurts people unnecessarily.

You see, my husband is not just a mechanical engineer, he is also nuclear qualified. The only nuclear power plant on the continent of Africa is just 10 kms up the road from our house here in Cape Town. Because it is the only nuke on the continent, there aren’t a lot of nuclear-qualified engineers hanging around South Africa, so the company imports them, largely from Europe. Since these imported engineers come in as contractors, this means the company has to pay these guys a boatload of money and perks to get them down here and keep them around.

One of the nuclear divisions offered my husband a position and it was not approved by someone in headquarters…they want him to come to HQ and take on a position for which he has no background or experience: HVAC. He is a nuclear-qualified turbine specialist with two years of engineering management experience…why are they importing, at a much higher cost to the company, nuke engineers from overseas and sending one of their own nuke engineers to work on something else…something for which he has no background or training?

If they imported an HVAC engineer, it would save the company the cost of transferring us halfway across the country, a process that will not be cheap. They have to pay for the cost of moving our possessions, moving one of our cars by rail, flying us up and back (and paying for hotels, etc) for house-hunting trips, and it is going to take at least two moving vans to get our stuff up there. Then, they are obligated to pay rent on a furnished place (as much as 50% more costly than unfurnished) for the first six months we are up there to give us time to find a permanent place to live while they pay for storage of the stuff that came up in the vans. This is easily going to cost the company hundreds of thousands of rand (tens of thousands of dollars), every one of which could be saved by simply transferring him to the nuclear power plant a few miles up the highway from our house and importing a qualified HVAC engineer to work at HQ. Considering the citizens are up in arms over the company’s 31% rate hike…and another rate hike is scheduled for next year…one would think that the company would be eager so save a few hundred thou by deploying its technical talents less wastefully, ya know?

I keep having these unexpected “sadness attacks” between bouts of pragmatic thinking. Just like when Chuck died, I feel my nose swell up, my eyes water, and a hollow feeling opens up in my chest. I feel grounded and secure and content in this house, in this city, in my life. And it hurts to have it ripped away.