Monday, August 10, 2020

Smiling Behind My Mask


I am writing this the night before flying to Nice, where I have been already 10 times with Mademoiselle and other girls. This time, it's just the two of us plus her eldest godson who arrives the day I fly back, and to be honest, if I hadn't booked my flight in January already I would not have chosen to fly abroad this summer at all. After our original flights had been annulled we managed to get rebooked and even though we found out recently that masks are now obligatory outdoors in town, which I am not too keen on, I am actually looking forward to my bit of summer routine. More upon my return!

Monday, August 03, 2020

You'll Find Me in the Hammock


(Starbucks cup and straw are not for single use, I hasten to add)

My maternal grandfather had one holy grail item of garden furniture he kept wistfully talking about for years until he finally received it as a present: a three-seater garden swing chair, which in German has the great name Hollywoodschaukel  (literally "Hollywood swing"). When he finally got it, he loved it and even ended up doing his post-lunch power naps stretched out in that swing. 
For me, the coolest summer "furniture" is the humble hammock and it does not make a difference if it is one tied between two trees or comes with a stand, like the one from a popular German discount supermarket chain that Highflyer got me when I told him how much I loved them. Since it has shown up in his garden not a day has gone by when at least one of us ends up laying in there, reading. I love, love, love the instant summer feeling I get as soon as I'm stretched out in one. Sometimes, it really is the simplest of things to make you happy.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Privilege

At one of my last conference at the Firm, I took part in an eye-opening exercise where the (international) audience had to place sticky notes that had been hidden underneath their seats on paper hats depending on what the facilitator told them to. There were instructions such as "if you grew up in a country where it is not safe for women to walk home alone in the dark put a post-it on your hat", "if you grew up in a house that had more than 100 books take a post-it off", "if you have ever been discriminated because of your religious beliefs, add a post-it", and so on. Essentially, it was an exercise in diversity, but it really showed me how privileged I was, above all! I have never in any way felt deprived of anything, nor harassed or discriminated against because of my gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, you name it!
In the past few months as we have been bombarded by horrible statists of Covid-19 related deaths, collapsing health systems and leaders making questionable decisions, I have felt incredibly privileged to live in a country with a stable and reliable health system, to hold a well-paid job that does not require me to work in unsafe conditions in times of a pandemic or in general and to be able to make the best of this situation. I really do appreciate it every day.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Just Like Any Summer

Last weekend I was in KLU for a rather spontaneous long weekend. The weather was almost as unpredictable as on my last visit, but after an unsuccessful attempt that had me hide from a thunderstorm under an umbrella in the restaurant area five minutes after I arrived I eventually was able to take my first swim of this season in my beloved Wörthersee. In the water, I could briefly forget that this summer is so different from any other. The day before I had learnt that one of the few people I met recently suddenly became a potential Coronavirus "suspect" and took a test as precaution because one of their colleagues was infected and contacted them. Unless you lock yourself up in your own home indefinitely and only interact with people dressed in biohazard gear everyone of us can get into the situation that they need to change their plans, postpone holidays and appointments because there has been a "case" in their child's school or kindergarten, or they had dinner with somebody whose colleague's husband is infected. A disheartening prospect, but I refuse to live in permanent paranoia and choose to cherish those moments where you can pretend the "old normal" is a reality.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Stay Away From Me

Last week, a colleague vented her anger about an acquaintance of hers who had completely disregarded her refusal to let him kiss her on the cheeks by means of "Hello" at a party. She said the only word for such people was "asshole" as it should not be that difficult to keep a little distance and follow a few rules in order not to completely destroy weeks of sacrifices that many other people paid a much higher price for (losing their job for instance) and brought herself on the verge of a nervous breakdown many days thanks to home office and home schooling. While I don't agree with her extreme label for such "offenders", I do feel extremely uncomfortable when I end up in situations where I feel I can't escape (potentially contagious) closeness. Until recently, I had managed to avoid shaking hands or exchanging kisses, but then I suddenly didn't and in both situations I was both annoyed in equal parts with the other party's naivety and/or denial, and my own weakness. Sometimes you feel you just can't lecture others about what is the sensible thing to do, or you (literally) don't want to be the party pooper. It's a fine balance and I definitely wish everyone decided to err on the side of caution. 

Monday, July 06, 2020

Everything is Better in Summer

Summer is finally here (let's not jinx it) and I am my happiest. I love those long days, slightly sweaty nights and being able to eat dinner out in the sun. Followed by ice-cream as dessert. Bliss! I am incredibly happy and content right now and there's nothing to add, really. Hashtag blessed, I suppose.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Brings out the...Whatever...in People

In the first weeks of isolation many people remarked that the exceptional circumstances everyone found themselves in served as some kind of social glue and people seemed to be friendlier, more helpful and mindful of others. Random strangers suddenly greeted one another, young people offered to go grocery shopping for their elderly neighbours and all was rainbow-coloured and harmonious.
Well, that benevolent atmosphere seems to have evaporated. Every household in Vienna was supposed to have received restaurant vouchers (redeemable at one of many restaurants in Vienna who had registered for the programme) last week at the latest. It's not that I am in desperate need of the 25 EUR a single household is entitled to and was in fact thinking about donating it, but I had not questioned finding it in my postbox at all. When I did not, it dawned on me that it might have "disappeared". A quick Google search revealed that in fact a lot of people never got theirs and there were instances of whole sets of postboxes having been vandalised just in order to get those vouchers (and resell them online on some classifieds site). To be honest, I felt both naive and mildly disgusted. There's a small chance that upon my next visit to Vienna I might find a delayed voucher in the post, but it's even more likely that it got stolen. If somebody really needed it to prevent imminent starvation (rather unlikely) they are more than welcome to it but if this was not the case...well, I just hope that karma really is a b**** .
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