Posted in potpurri

Diary of Hip Replacement Surgery Part 4 I think

It’s been three years almost to the day when I had my first hip replacement surgery. Yes. First. My right hip is turning bionic in a couple of weeks. Since the first replacement, I’ve been able to run 15-20 km per week, bike, swim and exist upright pain free. Well, except for the right hip which has been creaking and grinding more and more for the past months.

So it’s time. Three to four months down the line I’ll be able to run again. I love running.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Posted in potpurri, Uncategorized

I’m bored – Diary of my hip replacement surgery, day 15 post op

Day 9 post surgery. And by coincidence, my recovery period coincides with the whole #stayathome Coronavirus thing. So staying at home, not going out often isn’t such a big sacrifice for me.

Regarding the surgery: this is exactly what I was worried about and afraid of: not being able to do anything. People who’d had hip replacement surgery would go on and on and on about how awesome it was afterwards. No pain. But these were all lazy ass people who are now happy they can get up out of a chair without moaning and groaning. For an active person, it’s so not awesome. It’s boring and worse than before because now I still can’t go running, I can’t do any stretches, I’m not supposed to ride my bike, climb the stairs, walk without crutches, swim..what the fuck??! Am I being impatient? Maybe. Possibly. I have no idea how slow or fast recovery is supposed to be. There seems to be no guidance. They send you home but there’s no real plan. With babies for example, you get this little booklet that tells you what your baby is supposed to be able to do at certain times: weigh this much after 3 months, this and this at 6 months and so on.

Why doesn’t something similar exist for hip replacement? You should be able to ride your bike after one week. You should be able to not feel like theres a big fat dumpling logged somewhere in your groin on day 31. Or a vise-like grip, depending on the time of day, from day 38. Something like that.

I’m confident it will get better but this is exactly why I was so hesitant and a bit afraid. There’s no pain only the tightness and it’s just annoying and weird and worrying in the ‘is it supposed to feel like this?’ way. Reading up on the Internet is not helpful: has the joint dislocated and is on the loose? I don’t know. I don’t think so. Tomorrow I have my first of 10 physiotherapy sessions. Hopefully, she’ll be able to reassure me (she did and all is as it should be. Score!)

You’re not allowed to do this or that. It’s like this huge long list of all the things you’re not allowed to do! It’s awful. Don’t cross your legs. Don’t ride your bike, climb the stairs, lift more than 25 lbs., sleep on your side, sleep on your stomach, walk without crutches. And so on. It’s like really? Kill me now. First of all, according to my pamphlet, I am allowed to sleep on my side as long as I have a pillow between my legs. So I do. And I’ve slept on my stomach from day one because I can’t sleep any other way. Sleep is elusive. I take what I can get.

PS I know I am not supposed to be complaining in light of this insane pandemic. But hey, at least it’s a different topic. Enough of the Corona Virus reports already. Sheesh. I know! Wash hands for at least 20 seconds several times a day but especially after going out, Social distancing and literal distancing when standing in line (finally people here are not invading my personal space. Took a pandemic to teach them that? Good grief) and only go out to buy groceries. I know. There’s nothing more I can do. All the old ladies I know have mobile caregivers. And I sent out messages to everyone in the building if they need anything or want to be daring and go for a walk.

And yes, this too shall pass. We will get through this. No, it’s not going to be easy. It already isn’t for a lot of people and I am soooo fucking grateful for everything I still have and can do and will be able to do.




Posted in potpurri, Uncategorized

I really hate hospitals – Diary of hip replacement recovery

Don’t get me wrong – I’m totally grateful for them but don’t particularly like being in them. I had hip replacement surgery last week. A week ago exactly. I took the photo an hour or so after the surgery. So, on the road to recovery and bionic superpowers. Hopefully. I expect nothing less.

Between now and running a 10K? Months. Hell, I can’t even do my multiple times daily stretches that I’ve been doing all my life. Like seriously for the past 50 odd years. Try making do without that. Hard core. Seriously.  Muscle memory and all that? Yeah, my muscles do remember and are asking what the hell is going on? why aren’t you stretching? why aren’t you doing sit ups and pushups? Arabesques? Attitudes? (I know, it sounds like I’m totally badass and not lazy. I am lazy but there was a minimum of movements I’ve done for centuries. Okay. Decades.) 

I’m not allowed to ride my bike (even though I do a bit)  I’m not allowed to walk without those stupid crutches (mostly I don’t use them because they’re useless and topple over when I want to take something off the shelf at the supermarket) I’m not allowed to go swimming for another three weeks. Outrage. Annoying. Bored. The few exercises I’m allowed to do according to the physiotherapist and post op brochure are lame. Takes me five minutes and doesn’t tire me out at all.

Okay. Enough of the lamenting and complaining. I just hope my bionic superpowers kick in soon. I am a very impatient patient. Luckily, my best friend Dr. Mousen is keeping me on the rails. Hobble on.

Posted in potpurri

Canned Cat food: recycling is gross but I’ve a genius solution

No, I’m not a cat lady but I do have two. Cats. Bertie and Lucy. Occasionally three, when Millie is here on vacation (our family cat, who has taken up residence with my son and his girlfriend). So, it’s either two or three whisketeers. And lots of cans pile up.

I have found the most environmentally friendly way of storing before these smelly yucky containers wander into the recycling bin across the street: I save water and prevent the pipes from clogging with disgusting wet cat food remnants being washed down the drain.

Here’s how and what you need:

1. Thick paper bag (I save the ones my roast chicken comes bagged in)

2. Space in your fridge (I use the fruit vegetable drawer because I store my fruits at room temperature and my veggies are usually of the frozen kind)

Empty cans do no get rinsed anymore (uses way too much water) they wander directly into the paper bag (or whatever you choose to use that seals halfway decently), then into the fridge drawer. Voilà. No smells, no leakage. When the bag is full, I carry it across the street and empty the bag into the metal cans container.

It’s genius. Saves time (I hated rinsing those cans), saves water and dishwater soap, no smells (even the washed cans emitted a faint fishy odor).

Posted in Uncategorized

How can I help? The problem with plastic

Even though there are countless inspirational posts and tweets and newsletters explaining the power of ‘you’ as an individual and all you can change, when you’re standing in front of the supermarket shelf – refrigerated section – an array of pastel colored smoothies luring with easy healthy, some brands even with cute knit beanies, do you catch yourself thinking:

“What difference will it make if I take one or not?”

I find myself in that position way too often. Like everyday because – guilty I am – of buying Innocent smoothies and their bargain brand cousins. All clothed in plastic bottles.

They’re tasty, reasonably good for you, my fruit ration for the day (I do try buying fruit fruit- like bananas and apples and blueberries or strawberries but honestly, more often than not, they are tasteless and just yucky, sit, lonely and forgotten, in my fridge until the color brown which eventually kills any piece of fruit, induces me to throw them out)

Not a good solution those plastic clad smoothies. So can I make a difference? By refusing to buy anything clad in plastic? Simple answer is: one person can make a difference when she or he inspires others to do the same.

I will try to not buy smoothies in plastic bottles. I won’t always succeed (where I shop – out of ten different brands, only one was a glass bottle) but I’ll try and stay strong.

I’m not a neophyte when it comes to recycling and lessening my carbon footprint. I ride my bike and take public transport. I have my New Yorker tote, never ever resort to plastic bags and recycle cans, plastics, paper.

Problem is, even if we all recycle plastics- we still have too much of it. Way too much.

So goodbye smoothies in plastic bottles. I will miss the practicality, the refreshing snackiness, and all that. Goodbye. Hello bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, berries. I’ll try and treat you better. Maybe there’s even a blender in my future.

Because this 👇🏼 is a tragedy and can be avoided. Our choice. My choice. Your choice.

Posted in krimi, opinion

his masterpiece theater: Amadeus and Milos Forman

The occasion: Milos Forman died. He was 86 years old. And his masterpiece Amadeus left such a lasting impression, belongs to those rare movies I can watch anytime anywhere over and over again. I feel the need to extoll its virtues and with it, the virtues of its maker.

I love Amadeus. That three-word sentence, so simple yet complicated in its strength in meaning. It’s a popcorn movie, adventure, a crime drama, it has heavenly music, it is history live – what more could you want?

When Mozart staggers home through the snow one dawn, you feel the cold seeping through the thin leather soles of his shoes. You feel the wind, whistling through the narrow streets, lifting the heavy wool of the mysterious mentor’s black cape visiting him, asking him to finish the requiem.

You feel the discomfort of flesh pressed into corsets and brocade coats, satin pantaloons and too tight embroidered shoes. You smell the sweat. These details, like the thousands of stiches needed to make a tapestry, each are crucial to the bigger picture. A masterful director, never losing sight of the canvas nor forgetting the lock of a powdered wig.

Needless to say, a fantastic cast and crew (each and every one) contributes to the masterpiece theater under the direction of one captain. Milos Forman.

Against the historical fabric of late 18th century Vienna, he gave us a pop star, a rock star who was funny, cool, erratic, endlessly talented, driven, tortured; your average genius. What a fabulous journey into the past brought into the present.

Thank you forever you wonderful wonderful man. Milos Forman.

Posted in politics

the siege of stupid: Trump

It amazes me everyday how he manages to hang on. More amazing still: lawmakers let him.

It amazes me everyday that he followed in the wake of one awesome President.

When Obama was elected, I was so proud that I was a citizen of a country, of that country that elected that guy to be president. The entire world envied us for the cool dude we had in the White House. Twice. Twice. We managed to honor smart twice.

I guess it was too much smart, too much class, too much intellectualness, too much integrity. We had to go for the opposite. We had to bow to the stupid. The stupid, the brazen, the con, the criminal, the bigmouth, the ugly American. The horror clown. The wannabe mob boss.

What I didn’t foresee was the spinelessness of those keeping him where he is. With few albeit principled exceptions, too many grovel before this wretch. Welcome to the Grand Old Party. The dirty old white man’s party.

You know, in the private sector, Americans are no nonsense executors of what has to be done. Consolidating, downsizing. Also known as firing. You’re not viable anymore, you’re doing a crappy job, you get sick, the boss doesn’t like you. Any one of those reasons will get you fired and out the door within a day. Two weeks notice max. Clinical efficiency. Cruel efficiency. Americans are used to that cruelty. It’s how the economy works.

So why doesn’t that same efficiency apply to the highest office where a lot more is at stake? Where the influence of this crazy person can affect so many and so much?

I honestly don’t understand. I mean, you can pick and choose any number of crimes to impeach the guy. From paying off women, intimidating them, using inauguration funds to finance legal fees for his crime family to financially profiting off the presidency through his businesses to misusing tax payer money for countless trips to his hotels to hiring only the most corrupt unqualified people to run the most important departments (I mean, really, it should be a crime nominating the worst possible people for the jobs; consistently) and the lying. The lying. The constant lying. Isn’t there a law? X amount of lies? “You’re fucking fired.” ?

I honestly don’t understand. On the one hand, we Americans know if you gotta chop off that leg, you gotta chop off that leg. Yet with this president, we are letting the leg turn gangrenous. The danger of leaving the leg attached for too long, you kill the whole thing.

Leaving Trump in office for too long is going to kill our democracy. Sure. That sounds dramatic. And maybe I’m exaggerating, but I do believe the longer he stays, the more damage he does, the harder it will be to recover from the wrecking ball destruction on the environment, the public school system, the banking sector, trade, relationships with allies but also upon the simple institutions of dignity, respect and language.

Those simple institutions are, after all, the pillars of a humane society. I hope we can get out from under the grip of stupid. Soon?

PS I can’t wait to read A Higher Loyalty by James Comey. From what I’ve read and heard, his fly on the wall insights are very compelling.

Posted in opinion, politics

how to survive in the age of Trump: Broadway vs. off Broadway

I’m an American in Vienna. Austria for those of you who don’t know. But I will assume you do. It’s in Europe. Let me jog your memory about Austria: Hitler was born here. And Austria became the Ostmark in 1938 when Hitler and Nazi Germany marched into Austria on the 12th of March, 1938 (yep, exactly 80 years ago today. And I can tell you, it makes me shudder). The Austrian Broadcast Network ORF has been showing footage from that dark dark time in history. “The Gates of hell opened this day” said one witness. So, while some want to see Austria as a victim of Nazi Germany’s expansion to the East, Austria was part of the problem ie was happy to help. Not all. There were some notable resisters.

When Austria shook off some of the mief, in 1955, when it became a republic, it was stipulated in the constitution the Wiederbetätigungsverbot, Nazi Symbols etc. against the law. While the US government can get away with a racist president, a white supremacist advisor and a shitload of politicians with varying degrees of explicit racism, the USA’s special friendship with Israel (to the tune of billions in economic help which does seem to soften the sting of racism -it’s mostly against Brown people anyways, right? So Israel doesn’t care about those racists) Austria cannot. And should not. The above mentioned reasons. And 6 million more. It’s the law engrained in the constitution.

And now to my personal dilemma: not only do I as an American Citizen and staunch believer in social justice, health care for all, equality for all, Bernie Sanders fan ( but not a fan girl and did and do vote democratic) and proud member of the #resistance #impeachTrump hashtag movement, relentless Trump denouncer, have to deal with that wretch Trump back home, now, in my current place of residence, I have to deal with neo nazis as part of the coalition government here. It’s totally unfair and really pisses me off. And I’m being mean here, but they all look like nazis. Stupid nazis. I hate them. Here, the right wing party is called the freedom party of Austria. You know if a political movement has freedom in its name it’s code for we hate all non-white people. If the freedom part isn’t a dead giveaway, the fact that the FPÖ (its official acronym) was founded in 1955 by an Austrian guy named Anton Reinthaller, a former SS Brigadenführer, who spent time in prison for his role in the Holocaust, this latter tidbit seals the deal: it’s a party of racists.

To use a metaphor for what’s going on there and here: the Trump show is bright, gaudy, loud, expensive, lavish – not unlike a big Broadway production. In Austria, it’s the same script (fake news, the meanies on the left calling out right wing fraternity members who like singing songs that celebrate exterminating another one million Jews. It’s a conspiracy! ) except the production value is comparable to off off Broadway: lousy, small theater, uncomfortable seating, rotten production design, no private jets to fly around in, no citizens united, no billionaire donors. Just stupid wanna be nazis pinning after the good old days when you could get away with mass genocide.

According to research, 28% of Austrians are anti-semitic. Within the EU, the average is 24%, worldwide 26%, according to a NYT poll. So, always a little higher and a little more pervasive than most places. Which I totally don’t get. Some of the most famous Austrians were Jewish: Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth, Bruno Kreisky, although now, they’ve added another facet to their playbook: Islamophobia. You know, immigrants, refugees. That’s the right wing freedom party’s favorite bogey man. The average anti Semite (out of tradition)/Islamophobe (out of ignorance and the stupid) can be rallied by headlining immigrant owns smartphone. Don’t worry about corrupt politicians and greedy business people evading taxes by parking billions offshore. They don’t see them on the bus or tram. So who cares, right? The same rhetoric you get via tweets from Trump, you get here via some newspapers: all immigrants are criminals.

So, it’s stressful having to deal with horrible politicians both sides of the pond. I have to take days off not looking at my Twitter feed because it’s gets obsessive. Not good. Instead, I read. I read books and have subscribed to physical newspapers. There’s something soothing about the crackle of paper. And instead of watching the talking heads on MSNBC or CNN, I listen to podcasts. Or Beethoven. His symphonies in particular remind me there is wonderful genius possible in this world not only nightmarish awfulness. You forget sometimes.

recommended podcasts:

The New Yorker Radio Hour (because it’s not only politics)

The Daily from the NYT (because it’s not only about Trump)

Pod Save America (because I can rant vicariously through these guys)

Stay Tuned with Preet (because it’s the closest you can get inside a fellow prosecutor’s head ie Mueller)

Trump Inc, WNYC Studios (because they shine the light on The Trump crime family’s shady business dealings)

Posted in Uncategorized

Sophie Scholl and the face of resistance: an anniversary

February 22, 1943: today marks the 75th anniversary of the execution by beheading in Stadelheim Prison Munich of Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans and Christoph Probst, members of a student movement called the White Rose, resistance against Hitler’s National Socialist regime.. She was arrested on Feb 18th for distributing pamphlets at her university. She was executed three days later. She is remarkable for her courage, and especially prescient today in light of the #NeverAgain movement started by the students of MRD High School. 
I realize going against the Nazi Regime vs protesting in the here and now  – in this case, in the USA, going up against the NRA – has some crucial differences. No mass deportations into concentration camps for the sole purpose of annihilating a people, a culture. But there are  parallels: brave students from MSD High standing up in the face of oppressive injustice (inexplicable greed in the face of tragedy induced by the millions in donations by the NRA; strongarming congress to play dead) enduring slander and falsehoods, having the courage to face these corporate fiends can be paralleled to the past. 

What I am trying to say is that courage is courage no matter what and standing up against injustice will be heard. 
Sophie Scholl made a difference after she gave her life for what she believed in. The pamphlets were smuggled out of Germany to Sweden; were subsequently published and she became the symbol for German resistance. The kids of #NeverAgain will make a difference. 

Recommending reading: 
Das kurze Leben der Sophie Scholl by Hermann Vinke.The author was able to speak to one of Sophie’s surviving sisters, Inge Scholl, and incorporated her remembrances into the book. 

Die Weisse Rose by Miriam GebhardtHere, the author asks the question: what upbringing, what factors, turns an ordinary citizen into a hero? A resistance fighter? 

Both books here are in German but you’ll find a few in English too. 

Keep the #resistance against injustice of any kind.