Monday, May 20, 2024

Time | Off

Thanks to my 4-day week with Fridays off I get to enjoy several 4-day weekends this month with either Thursdays or Monday (like today) being public holidays. In fact I deliberately chose May to start with my new schedule because of so many additional days off. With one exception last week when I needed (?) to do some work on the  Friday I now activate my out-of-office reply on my last work day and remain blissfully offline on my corporate devices until 7:30-ish on the next work day. I'm really loving this additional day of me-time and am planning to go on spontaneous trips and take the time for exhibitions and other cultural initiatives that I neglected in recent years. I actually already bought annual passes for two museums (each with several branches) and have already been to two locations in May.  Highflyer's schedule looks different each month anyway, but he is trying to align his time off with mine as best as he can. Even if there will be few occasions when he also gets Fri-Sun off and has no obligations, I definitely won't struggle to find things to do and could not be happier about my decision. 
 

Monday, May 13, 2024

Working Class Heroine

 

I used this past (long) weekend to try and become my normal chirpy self. It was in fact the third (!) weekend in a row that I tried to focus on that and we're hopefully getting there. I am just not used to being sick and this cold that segued into a lateral pharyngitis (never had that before, can not recommend) was something else and definitely felt worse than the three times I have had Covid, combined. As I didn't have a temperature at any point and otherwise didn't feel too sick or weak to work from home, either, I did just that. 10 days into unpleasant symptoms I went to see a doctor and he prescribed me antibiotics, along with other medication. The drugs immediately seemed to work, probably because the last time I got prescribed antibiotics was when I worked in Sydney in 2011 and my left foot got swollen and itchy from what must have been an insect bite. I was euphoric and even though I took it easy on the weekend, I otherwise did normal stuff and also ate ice-cream as my throat didn't hurt any more. Last Monday I felt like sh** again and my sore throat had come back with a vengeance. I really did not feel up to working, least of all facilitating a virtual workshop, but as always it was not a "good" time to be sick and I soldiered through. I did make a point of telling my manager that I should be on sick leave, not that she encouraged me to do so, rather telling me to try and do what I could get done under the circumstances. When my symptoms got a bit scary I vowed not to be so stupid again and take it easy even with what seemed like a common cold, because as I learnt the hard way, this could develop into something way nastier that I definitely didn't want to become chronic. Would the company go bankrupt if I took a sick day or two: nope. One more reason why I secretly admire Gen Z colleagues a bit, who mostly wouldn't think twice to put their physical and mental health first. Somehow, this weird work ethos is embedded in many people of our generation and it often takes a bit of a wake-up call to reconsider it.

Monday, May 06, 2024

Scammed!

This is a cautionary tale of how you might get scammed when buying an expensive electronic device at the popular online retailer that begins with A. ... and likely other places as well. After having to return a phone I bought refurbished, which would have been my sustainable preference, I decided to buy it new from said retailer as the price difference was negligible. I'll skip the rant about the first promised delivery that didn't happen even though I had waited at home for it all day and fast forward to the Monday two weeks ago when the second one actually did happen, only not of the phone I had ordered. I had been sent a one-time code that I was supposed to give to the delivery person so they could give the parcel to me. Delivery guy rang, I typed said code into his handheld device, gave him a tip and he returned to his car...while I touched the package that felt suspiciously...bendable. I ripped it open and it contained not a phone for over 600 EUR, but a paperback I had never ordered. I quickly looked at the address label, which indeed had my address on it and then waved at the driver who was already reversing out of our lane. He stopped and I told him that I had just signed for the wrong package as I was expecting a phone, not a book and had also paid for a phone. I told him I wanted to cancel my signature and return the parcel to him, but he said that he could not do that and would let his boss know. I just managed to quickly take a picture and off he went, with the paperback. 
Dumbstruck, I realised that I had officially received my phone, but in fact I had not and would have problems proving just that. I called the hotline and explained my dilemma to the lady that answered. When I mentioned that I had taken a picture she told me to mail it to a generic e-mail-address she gave me. When I did, I received an auto-reply telling me to fill in the attached return form and return the article...which of course I did not have. After several e-mails (half of them automated canned responses) and 3 days when I did not hear from them, I wrote again and was asked once more to send a photo. When I replied that I had already done just that, just to another e-mail address, attaching the image again as well as a screenshot of my earlier e-mail I got the reply that the photo unfortunately did not meet the required specifications. I then lost my patience and told them I had involved my (fictitious) lawyer and forwarded all correspondence to them. I got my refund the following day, thankfully, but it really was an awkward situation as the scammed recipient who has paid upfront has to prove that either some underpaid logistics worker on their end or the subcontractor who delivers for them had committed theft. 
I ended up buying my new phone offline, by the way.
 

Monday, April 29, 2024

Self Defense

I'm the type of person who'd always tell colleagues who seem to have dragged themselves to the office or joined an online meeting visibly/audibly sick to get back to bed asap and take sick leave. Well...in my almost 7 years at the Firm I have never taken a day of sick leave myself, which is not to say that I have never been sick for all this time. In fact, I have had the common cold several times, plus got infected with Covid three times and always worked (from home), so, yep, not the best role model. My mum always scolds me for not taking time off work, but I definitely got this attitude from her, she also refuses to acknowledge that she is sick.
Last weekend, Highflyer had a sore throat and a really hoarse voice and I was determined not to catch whatever it was (not Covid, in any case, he took several tests) off him, "doping" myself with effervescent vitamin concoctions. If I got sick timing would have been less than ideal (then again, when is it ever?!) as I had to defend my thesis in Linz on Tuesday and to facilitate a workshop that had already been postponed (not because of me) in the office on Thursday. Sure enough I woke up with a killer sore throat on Tuesday morning and feared for the worst when I took the train. Thanks to either the adrenaline rush of the exam and/or the lozenges I took I almost felt back to normal when I got back to Vienna that same night. I still decided not to go to the office on Wednesday, doing all my tried and tested home remedy routines: inhaling salt water, drinking hot lemonade with ginger and honey, taking a hot bath, etc. I slept badly that night and woke up on Thursday morning with a runny nose and an ear-ache, which I hardly ever get. I still powered through the workshop and again didn't feel that bad actually when I left for home. By Friday night I was sneezing and coughing, so, yep, flat batteries and a full-blown cold right in time for the weekend. Highflyer who went to the doctor last Monday and got antibiotics for his throat infection also had the worst of his symptoms on his days off, but did have to take two days of sick leave as home office is not really an option when you need to fly passengers from A to B.
I really was reminded of my "roadshow" days at the Firm, when I would give full-day trainings in the Balkans and Baltics, travelling on my own without a backup. During those intense 4 or so years I really perfected my "first aid kit" and tried to avoid hotel rooms without bath tubs and kettles. There were many occasions when a soak in a hot tub and a sachet of LemSip or Neocitran helped to ward off the worst. One time, I felt positively feverish (also quite rare for me) in Sofia, the day before I had to give a training and 3 days before my birthday party back home. I took a bath, had a LemSip and wrapped up with a cardigan on top of my PJs, plus scarf and woollen hat before I got into bed. When I woke up the next morning I still felt pretty zombified, to be honest, but managed to pull off the training and fly back later in the evening. What can I say, my little "episode" felt like a distant memory when I celebrated my birthday in Vienna two days later as if nothing had happened.
I know myself that it's probably neither smart, nor sustainable to fight off and try deny your cold symptoms, regardless of how important your job is (in my case: NOT at all), but somehow I can't help it.

Monday, April 22, 2024

New Conservativism

When Highflyer and I got married, he took on my surname. This is still rather unusual in Austria, where the norm is for women to either take on their husband's name or to use both hers and his, hyphenated, while the man typically just keeps his name. Elder couples in particular sometimes decide to keep their individual names ("Italian style") when they get married and this is what I had assumed we would do as well as I never intended to give up my maiden name and the double-barrelled version would not have sounded great. My better half, however, decided to go through the hassle of changing all his documents (and in his case, this involved a lot more documents that had to be changed immediately after the wedding, like his pilot's licence, for example) and I really appreciated this gesture, as did my parents. It also kind of placated my Mum, who was upset that we didn't have a church wedding.
Recently, I found out that two ex-colleagues in their 30s are getting married and when asked what they would be called afterwards one said that she would take on her husband's name even though she thought hers sounded better and the other said she would use both. I didn't comment on that, but both asked me "what did you end up doing?" and when I told them that I kept mine and that Highflyer changed his, they both said they had actually not thought of or ever discussed this version, with one of them adding "well, I might have given in too easily, that would have been great, actually." I had a similar discussion with a colleague who got married a month after me when I congratulated her on her marriage and remarked that it was a funny coincidence that her new surname was so similar to her old one and thus easy to remember for people at work. She returned the congratulations and asked me what she should call me now. When I told her it was even easier because I had kept my surname, she added "Oh, but we wanted to have the same name, so I took on his." When I replied "well, so did we, my husband took my name" she also said that this idea had not even occurred to her.
I was surprised that they all found this concept so "wild" and even though they are almost 20 years younger than me, these young women seemed much more conservative and traditional in their views. Upbringing? A millennial thing? Interesting, in any case.

Monday, April 15, 2024

The Best Things in Life...

...really are free. Case in point, my excitement over the herbs that made a voluntary comeback after winter. I'm not talking about the lemon balm that grows like weed and which I never planted in the first place and I do know that rocket/rucola is very resilient and pretty much grows everywhere, all year round, so this was not the big deal, but coriander!?! If you've ever tried to keep it alive in a pot on your kitchen window or in the garden you know what I'm talking about. It's a capricious DIVA and drama queen that tends to get offended and suicidal if you as much as give it a side glance. I bought mine discounted last summer (because it looked pretty wilted) at a cheap supermarket as I needed it for a recipe and then planted the rest in the garden. Somehow it has miraculously multiplied and come back stronger than it was in the first place. So, small step for man, big step for this amateur gardener's ego! 
 

Monday, April 08, 2024

Relief

Last week I got the grade for my thesis, which was the equivalent of an "A" of the British/American score. Pleasant enough (in particular for the minimal effort I had invested, ahem), but I really had not been biting my nails with anxiety beforehand. What was a great relief, however, was good news after the final of a series of medical tests. I had been pretty concerned for a  month or so and just felt a great sense of relief and gratitude that I can now fully enjoy the new chapter that is beginning in less than a month: all done with my MBA with 3-day weekends every week with time to explore, travel, indulge in my favourite pastimes and so much more. Life is sweet and I'm here for it!

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