December 31, 2016

Another New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve also happens to be my birthday. (I share my birthday with Lord Voldemort, which may explain my taste for black clothes, dark fiction and for music released by Nuclear Blast Records, as well as the fact that my favorite movies are "Twelve Angry Men" with Henry Fonda and "The Crow" starring Brandon Lee...) I was born on a freezing night exactly 36 years ago. The winter of 1980/81 wasn't as harsh as the one two years earlier, in 1978/79, but it was still much colder and more snowy than Polish winters today.

Even though Lublin, my hometown, is a fairly big city, the hospital where I was born was poorly equipped by Western standards. It was 1980, and Poland was still under communist rule. Medical staff in hospitals did their best with limited means, as many medicines and supplies such as disposable syringes were difficult to obtain. On a lighter note, my mother still recalls with amusement that in the patients' bathroom on the maternity ward, a piece of rubber gardening hose had been installed instead of a proper shower! In the Polish People's Republic, empty shelves in stores meant that people had to get creative.

I was born prematurely, after just eight months; a tiny thing with neonatal jaundice and a less-than-perfect Apgar score. As a precaution, I was placed in an incubator for a day. One of the doctors laughingly told my mother not to worry, as her own daughter had also been a preterm baby and was now a tall, strapping woman!

When I was a child - six or seven years old - my mother told me the story of my birth many times because for some reason I loved to hear it over and over. I don't have any children of my own (I've decided to remain childless for reasons I won't share here) and today, part of me regrets that I'll never have a similar story to tell to a wide-eyed girl or boy sharing half my genes.

At 36, my life is full of regrets that I don't really want to share either; a string of missed goals, things that didn't work out as hoped, and dreams yet to come true. Slowly but surely, middle age is creeping closer, and I'm more and more conscious of the passage of time as my parents get older and my best friend's children grow. I have goals for 2017 that I don't want to miss and hopes that are keeping me from crying tonight as I did two birthdays ago. The ironic part is that none of my nearest and dearest view me as a failure, only I do. I'm also healthy, reasonably fit and have a loving husband; I remind myself daily that I need to be thankful for all of these things.

If my monologue today sounds depressing, well, I'm not in a very positive mood, but it'll get better. Always does. 

To all of you people out there, acquaintances, friends and faceless strangers: don't drink too much alcohol tonight (I'm only drinking green tea, as usual), stay safe, and have a great and productive New Year!

Image courtesy of Tuomas_Lehtinen at

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