No Post Today…

…it wasn’t always so….

Sorry, I just got a huge chunk of work on my table (yay!) plus some other things I’ll need to finish either by this weekend or the end of the month. So: No post today. Not much happening here anyway – Kyoto’s back in a state of emergency until September 12. For the 5th time now, if I counted correctly…

So, nothing to see here today, move right on 😉

Going Down, Down…

You’ve probably noticed my rather erratic posting schedule lately. Well, I’m not at all feeling well. For the last month at least, I’ve been in the depths of a serious bout of depression and things are not going well.

This is nothing new. I’ve had depressive episodes since I was a teenager. At several points in my life, things got so bad that all I wanted to do was stay in bed and read all day. A stack of books and a large jar of Nutella, and I was set. (To be honest, I still believe this is the setup for a perfect weekend at the best of times.)

But this time, it’s different. I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to read, and eating – even chocolates – is optional. I’ve saved almost a quarter of my food budget last month because I didn’t feel like eating much beyond a sandwich or two a day. I don’t feel anything right now, there are no highs, no lows, there’s just apathy. I lie in bed, stare at the ceiling and that’s all.

It’s the first time I’m down quite so low and I wonder why. Maybe, because the other times, I still had a 9-5 job that forced me out of the house and among people five days a week. Many people do perk up with daily routines; not so much because it makes them happy to be among people, but because it keeps them from brooding too much. However, if you’re working from home most of the time – and there’s not much work to do right now, still thanks to Corona – it’s easy to fall into holes.

I’ve been thinking about what to do. At least, I’m keeping the handful of appointments I have every week. Even though I often just want to cancel, I make an effort to show up, and I usually am glad that I did, afterwards. I also try to do things I usually enjoy, on days I can muster the energy. I mentioned the Dainenbutsu Kyogen plays I say two weeks ago (final report is forthcoming, promise), and last Sunday, I went to the big “Ancient Egypt” exhibition with items from the Berlin State Museum. Tomorrow I’m planning a shopping spree – well, I am going to order shoes and a book. It’s nice to focus on something else every now and then.

But overall, those are just tiny islands sticking out of a vast ocean, and I’m mostly struggling to stay afloat in between them. So, forgive me if my posts remain a bit unpredictable for the time being. I am thinking of not forcing myself to write on Wednesdays and Sundays, but just when I’m feeling up to the task, and then scheduling the posts accordingly. But to be perfectly honest, I’m not even sure I want to commit to even that much right now.

Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. This too shall pass. Like all the times before…

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sorry for not writing this week, I have been quite busy with a big deadline looming… I hope I’ll be on schedule again next week. For now:

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Have some choccies like we do here in Japan and enjoy some quality time with your loved one – provided you’re allowed to meet them in person…

Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!
I wish you all quiet and peaceful holidays!

As you can see, this year’s Christmas cards come from my stash of ancient goodies. I hope my friends liked them anyway. 😉

As I am almost done with my work for this year – one more meeting plus the What’s up in Kyoto newsletter (which you definitely should subscribe to!) – and with Christmas Eve tomorrow, I’m calling my Christmas holidays already! I will take time off over New Year, and post again on January 6th with an update.

Please take care until then, stay healthy and safe, and I’ll see you next year!

Terror

Today, I thought I’d whine a bit about the weather – it’s that time of the year again after all! And then I woke up to something else yesterday…

On Monday evening, at around 20:00, there was a terrorist attack in Vienna. Four people were murdered by open fire on the streets of the inner city, 25 were injured, among them one policeman. One attacker, a 20 year old member (?) of ISIS was killed. Whether there are any more is subject of investigations. 

I’m happy to tell that all my friends who live in Vienna are safe and accounted for. But somehow, I don’t feel like writing about the weather today. Or anything else much, really.

You too, my beloved Austria?

Getting Old…

This year I’m turning 45! Even if you wouldn’t know it, my body certainly does, and it is hitting me with all sorts of ailments. A little one is that I’m getting gray. I have dark hair, and although my hair dresser says it’s not bad at all, I have days when I feel that I can see every single one of the white whiskers and I need to start dyeing rightaway.

A much bigger one has been causing me problems since last Christmas: I have pains in my left hip when walking. As such that’s nothing new, I had that pain already back when I was at university, although not as badly. The pain is such that it pulls “inside” into my groin; it gets worse over time, and I need to stand still and take the weight of my left leg for a while before I can walk further again.

I have never seen a doctor for the pain, it just seemed normal to me. Some 10 years ago, a Korean friend took me to her “bone-setter” and he performed a miracle and fixed it within 10 minutes or so. I had been completely pain-free all that time – right up until last Christmas, when I could almost feel my muscles cramp up and the pain came back within a minute – and with a vengeance.

But now, of course, I’m a proper adult, so it took me only a few weeks until I went to a specialised orthopedic clinic nearby my home. After a total of 13 x-rays (made in 2 parts), 1 MRI (made in 50 minutes) and some 10 visits to physiotherapy (where I burned through 4 therapists so far), I finally had an appointment with a hip specialist at that same clinic last Saturday.

The diagnosis comes in several parts:

1) I have hip dysplasia, where the hip bone does not cover the head of the femur as much as it should. I have it on both sides, but it’s more pronounced on the left, it’s congenital by the way.

2) I have a tear in the left acetabular labrum, which is a cartilage and part of the joint capsule of the hip, and essentially keeps it all together. How this came to be, we don’t know, but it looks spectacular on the MRI, as if something had burst right out of my hip bone (think Alien)!

3) I have osteoarthritis in my left hip, a degenerative disease where the cartilage inside the joint that cushions the friction between the two bones is slowly wearing down. It’s probably caused by 1) and 2) together, and this is what actually hurts.

While the doctor was polite and explained everything to me in great detail, he also said there’s nothing he can do, really. Technically, the tear in the joint capsule could be repaired with arthroscopic surgery, but he says that the long-term outcome is generally poor, so there’s not much point in doing it.

What he suggests is a conservative treatment with physiotherapy. The idea is to strengthen and stretch the muscles in the hip so that they keep everything in place – hopefully in one that doesn’t hurt quite as much. So far, therapy has indeed been successful, in that the pain has diminished. What pain is left is also not focused in the groin area but more in the center of the leg, which is more bearable for some reason.

The doctor also prescribed some pain killers for the time being, I am not sure how much they are helping though. In the long run, the very long run, we’ll be looking at a hip replacement, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon, thankfully.

So yes, I’m getting old. We all do. Although the pain will probably stay with me, I’m not worried too much about it. In the worst case, I’ll just try to find another miracle bone-setter…

Return Stamp

As I have mentioned in a post last year, the Austrian-Japanese relations are now 150 years old. Which, usually, sparks all sorts of commemorative events and speeches and celebrations…

And stamps. Japan has come up with a set of 10 stamps showcasing the beauties of Austria (you can see it in the post linked above). Of course, relationships go both ways, so Austria also has created a commemorative stamp. It shows the ship that sailed to Japan bearing Austrian presents and an Archduke if I remember correctly…

Thanks you a friend who always sends letters with beautiful stamps, I can finally show it off. What do you think of it?

150  years Austria-Japan Relationship Stamp; the Austrian one.

Cold

It’s getting really cold now and I have caught some virus or other. I’m feeling tired and slow and not up for much at the moment, not even writing blog posts, let alone work…

I hope I’ll do better by the end of the week. After all, I have some bonenkai coming up. And the German Christmas Market in Osaka is beckoning too. 😉

Peter Handke

By now, you should have heard of Peter Handke, an author from Austria: He has just won the Nobel Prize in Literature today. Congratulations!

I’m not really sure how I feel about this, partially because I have never (consciously) read any of his writings, and partially because he was more or less defending the Serbs in the Yugoslav war, which didn’t go down well at all at the time.

That leaves the interesting and quite difficult question whether an artist should be judged by his art alone (in particular when considered for an art prize), or if their personal views on society, politics, etc. should come into play as well. Clearly, the artist imbues his pieces with something of himself; that’s why we often want to know more about them, their inspirations, their life, their routines…

But is this truly important? Would the Nike of Samothrace be any less of a masterpiece had it been carved by a mass murderer?

Nike of Samothrace