Monday, November 18, 2019

On Being the Antichrist. If not Worse.

As a notorious people-pleaser who wants to be liked, if not loved, by pretty much everyone, it took me a while to come to terms with the fact that, in a certain circle of friends, I seem to represent Evil Incarnate. I used to considered myself an (emotionally) intelligent, environmentally-conscious, waste-avoiding person and even now slap myself on the shoulder for not buying that sexy fruit or vegetable flown in from faraway countries even if there was no locally grown alternative.
All my efforts are annihilated completely, however, by my passion for air travel (long-distance even), persistant use of Uber and the like and the fact that I not only buy clothes and accessories whose origin I can track down to the very person who produced them. Mind you, I really don't buy from brands who are notorious for their sweat shops and have considerably cut down on the instant-gratification spending I was known for in my twenties and thirties, but I don't look at every label to put it back on the shelf if it was not produced in a country where bad practices have occurred.
So, whenever I meet with said circle of friends, I more or less anticipate the inevitable lecture and I have stopped defending myself or even mentioning what I've been up to recently as it invariably involves highlighting some bad behaviour of mine that negatively impacts the climate or human rights. It's not that I approve of everything that my friends do either and you can count on me for being that person who often blurts out the first thing that comes into her mind, but I have made a conscious effort not to be so openly judgemental as I now know first hand how uncomfortable it can make you feel to be singled out as the baddie in an otherwise rather homogenous group of people. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Good Karma

Last week, I briefly felt like the world was conspiring against me. The night we returned to Brisbane, the Australian's car broke down (the "coolant" alert came on  on and when we continued to drive after refilling the coolant tank with water, there was steam coming out of the bonnet and we spent a long time waiting for the service guy) and had to be towed to the garage. Also, my suspicion that I had NOT left my expensive beloved noise cancelling headphones at her place in Brisbane before leaving for Airlie Beach, but rather left them in the seat pocket on the flight from Cairns to Brisbane was confirmed. Plus it turned out I had left my travel adapter for electrical devices plugged in my hotel room in Airlie Beach. I was really frustrated and angry at myself. 
Even though I pitied my friend most for having to potentially purchase a new car (hers is a 2005 vintage) after likely motor damage. I suddenly got a panicky feeling of doom and gloom and weird foreboding. The fact that I had left/lost those things despite having made a deliberate mental note (obviously forgetting that my mental capacity was at "low" these days) not to. After a series of seriously stupid actions on my part, most famously leaving my handbag at the supermarket, I really was concerned where "this" all was leading. What next?
I could barely sleep that night and kept spiralling into a vortex of "what ifs", also slightly miffed that Highflyer who had texted a few encouraging words did not seem to grasp just how much this concerned me and how much I wanted to be comforted right then. 
The next morning after reclaiming my headphones at the BNE airport Lost & Found (Yay, it was as easy as that!) we were encouraged to take an earlier flight than the originally scheduled one, which we did. Once we had checked in our bags and proceeded to the gate, I suddenly wondered if this was exactly the kind of scenario you read about: somebody catching a different flight from the one they had planned to take, without notifying anyone back home. That person was lucky as the original plane would tragically crash, causing relatives to experience a tearful "miracle". Or, was it the other way around that the news reports focused on people who ended up dying because rescheduling their flight? Which would it be? As the reason for us being put on the earlier flight was a forecast thunderstorm and likely delays caused by it, I was mildly concerned. Well, we obviously made it, as did all other Virgin Australia planes that day and by the end of the day, that visceral feeling of foreboding slowly evaporated.
In fact, the Australian was right when she said she believed in good karma (she had given an elderly lady a lift with her car the same day it broke down) and she was right. Not only could her old car be repaired at little cost, but I was reunited with my headphones and all was good in the end. Even more so, our flight SIN-MUC on Saturday night departed on time and was not cancelled due to Lufthansa cabin crew strike like the Thursday and Friday services were.
All's well that ends well, but I suppose the lesson for me here is to be more vigilant and attentive if only not to have to experience this kind of vague panic and frustration at myself again.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Summer Child

As I am writing this, I am in Brisbane, Australia, enjoying perfect spring weather that feels more like summer to me. While I am definitely NOT one of these people who ever feel the need to "escape" from European winter and never want to spend Christmas by the beach, these weather conditions and scenery truly recharge my batteries and all "autumn ailments" like dry hands that want to be moisturised every time I wash my hands or cracks in my finger tips that are either caused by (over)heated rooms or cold outside temperatures...or both (I am still trying to find out what causes these) disappear immediately. Summer temperatures and blue skies really makes me happy and more energised and even though it gets dark here very early in the evening, it really feels like longer and more productive days and I am enjoying my "bonus time" to the fullest.
I do look forward to returning to foggy and chilly autumn in the Northern hemisphere, but I know already that my next visit to Australia (maybe together with Highflyer who has never been?) whenever that may be, will take happen around the same time of the year when I can sneakily extend summer and fill up my vitamin D reservoir before embracing those dark winter months back home.

Monday, October 28, 2019

1995 Revisited

When this post goes live, I will hopefully have arrived safe and sound in Australia, somewhat recovered from jetlag. I planned this trip with Chiquita months ago when Highflyer was not on the horizon. As the trip got closer, so did my dread of being separated for 17 long days from him. Yes, absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that, but, seriously, my fondness-level is off the scale already and I don't need any trials to prove that. At the same time, I was looking forward to the trip.
I was reminded of my US/Canada roadtrip with my Mum in 1995. I had just got together with Mr. TD and was madly in love. The other people on our 3-weeks-trip were a family friend and her teenage daughter, who had met her first boyfriend only weeks before and was in a sulking love-sick state all of our trip. Myself, I lived for payphones that accepted VISA cards. Every few days I would make expensive calls to Mr. TD's parents' landline in Istanbul. More was not affordable on a student budget and even that was more than our teenage travel companion had to work with and I think she kind of hated me for the advantage I had over her. When I was not talking to him on the phone, I felt this visceral longing for my boyfriend that had me counting the days until our reunion, but at the same time made me feel guilty for not fully appreciating this once-in-a-lifetime trip, a generous gift of my parents. This time round, I paid for everything myself, but I still feel I owe it to myself and even more so, my travel companion, to enjoy the moment...which I will!
Even so, I know I'll defintely be counting the days until our (hopefully happy) reunion in Vienna.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Extra

My company is a rather traditionally Austrian one that has been around for quite some time and its average employee is male and in his late forties. This context means that a lot of people are parents who choose to take their annual leave during school holidays. This also means that it's VERY quiet during the summer months and the office is virtually deserted around Easter and in the first week of January. It is almost expected that everyone takes their leave during those peak times and so, even if you are in the privileged position not to have to travel abroad when prices are highest because *everyone* wants to take their vacation due to being tied to more or less the same school schedules, it's a hard-earned perk as you always need to justify yourself. There have been countless times when I was the party pooper who raised her hand to say that, yes, it was in fact a problem for ME attend that team event "after the summer holiday season when everyone is back". Like people who work part-time, us exotic birds who dare take vacations at "odd times" always need to explain themselves and learn to ignore remarks like "What a pity, that time/date would have worked for everyone if XY had been there as well." Well, yours truly is looking forward to her BIG summer (but in the Southern hemisphere!) vacation later this week and does not have the tiniest sliver of a bad conscience for being so EXTRA. See you!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Uncertainty

Last week, I attended a two-day team offsite. One central topic was a pending reorganisation of our team and there were a lot of open questions as well as tension and scepticism. Each feedback round initiated by the facilitators revealed that (the majority of) people wanted more structure and clarity. It really was interesting for me to observe as I did not share these sentiments at all. I don't know if it is due to the fact that my priorities are even less at work at the moment than they usually are, or it is because I used to work in an environment that was waaay more fast-paced, where I experienced more reorgs than I can remember. Be that as it may, I felt like the odd one out (as I often do) and almost a little ashamed of my "couldn't-care-less" attitude. I'm not quite certain if it is a manifestation of that "adaptability" strength that I apparently have, or just shows that I am more superficial and shallow than I would like to admit. Be that as it may, I do think that I actually thrive and perform better when I don't know all the details and there are certain blank spots that I get to fill myself. 
In my private life, while I value spontaneity and (happy) surprises, I definitely don't enjoy uncertainty to the same degree...quite the opposite!

Monday, October 07, 2019

So Happy for You!

This was probably the one sentence I have heard most often in the past few weeks when I told friends and family about my recent change in relationship status. Many, but not all of them knew the full extent of the ups and downs (mostly the latter) of recent years and wanted to let me know they thought it was only fair that I got "rewarded" by experiencing Nice & Normal for a change. It really, really makes me happy that my friends seem genuinely happy for me! Obviously, I wish all of them the very best, too and always articulate it when the occasion arises, but it feels so nice to be on the receiving end of this and be reminded that, yep, it can be so easy and you deserve it.
Which brings me to the fact that I obviously am less good a friend to myself that the others are as I still occasionally catch myself veering towards panic mode and wondering whether I ought to stay alert and not allow myself to believe that "all's good" since that only ever happens to other people. The rational part of me knows of course that nobody is guaranteed their happy ending and everyone's trust can be betrayed, but whether they enjoy the moment or not is in their hands. So, cheers to myself!
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