Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The week that was...

Last week was a hard one. It started off with an email from one of my old Japanese professors, half of the Japanese team at the university where I first started learning the language. The email said that the other professor (a healthy and active woman barely past 60) had passed away suddenly after suffering a massive stroke. Being so far away can make announcements like these harder to deal with as I had no choice but to continue on with my work day and nobody to turn to immediately (although U was a gem when I called him on my lunch hour and he listened and made comforting noises as I rambled on about the professor).

Maybe it is flu season and everybody feeling a bit under the weather, but my daily commute was even more stressful than normal. Having your toes stepped on over two dozen times within an hour train ride or having to dodge a newspaper coming close to giving you paper cuts on your forehead as the salaryman standing in front of me blithely ignored everybody around him and spread out his paper, are absolutely no where near losing a remarkable and inspiring teacher and woman, it certainly didn't help my mood and left me with less than positive feelings toward much of the human race, or at least those members of it that commute on trains in Tokyo.

But then on Friday, after a particularly bad morning commute, I arrived at work and dragged out a smile for my good morning to the always grinning janitor. She handed me a small and very intricate origami box filled with candies. It was a small gesture, but one that completely changed my mood and my day. The weekend continued on in the same way. My advisor invited a group of people, including myself, a visiting British museum studies professor, and a group of Japanese museum professionals that she has been working with, to spend part of the long weekend at his apartment in a hot springs town. Good umeshu and local beer, even better fresh local fish, and even even better company did wonders for me and reminded me again of just how lucky I have been in the professors and teachers I have had over the years. All I can do is to continue to challenge myself and use what they taught me and hope that by doing so I will be able to begin thanking them for what they have given me and, in some small way, contribute to their legacy.


  1. I'm sorry to hear about your professor. You're right, these things are harder when you're far away from the people who share your sadness. I'm glad U could understand, that must have helped.
    And, what a weekend! Sounds lovely.

    1. It is hard, isn't it?

      My advisor is a great guy on his own, but his place in the hot springs town is a huge plus! I love the "study group weekends" we spend there. A great getaway that is only made better with company, and this time it was perfect company!

      Do you have any getaway spots you go to? Or do you just relax at home?

  2. I'm catching up with all my favourite blogs, slowly but surely, reading about the good news and the bad news.

    Sorry to hear about your professor. Sixty is just too young to die.

    PS: I think your professors were lucky to have you as a student, too. Bit stroppy, sometimes, though ... ;)

    1. I had thought she was still in her 50s, as she seemed younger than she was... although I suppose it was more than a decade ago that I was her student, so... From the sound of things the stroke was massive, and it would have been a long hard road to recovery, so at least she was saved the pain and suffering there. But so many people have lost a special teacher/coworker/friend/mother/grandmother...

      Stroppy?! Me?! (heh! you bet!! ;) But, one of my profs once told me that was a very good quality, questioning my profs and challenging what they said!)