Monday, March 18, 2019

It's a Fine Balance

On Friday morning, I thought I had a weekend ahead of me that would be of the "me"-variety and allow me to get some household chores and other projects I had procrastinated done since the only thing I had planned was visiting a friend's charity exhibition with two other friends on Saturday morning. By Friday night I already had more plans and eventually it was quite an action-packed weekend...again. Somehow those productive weekends rarely come about and I'm not complaining either as I am not forced at gunpoint to meet friends but voluntarily do so. It is a fine balance though between having nothing planned at all and over-committing to the point that I actually wish I had an extra two days to recover from my busy weekend. This past weekend was just right for me.
I am a social animal at heart and highly spontaneous, but I do need some downtime, too. Now that I have made a conscious effort not to travel as much on weekends I really notice that I appreciate those weekend breaks much more and love alternating them with weekends in Vienna when I can catch up with friends and also just enjoy "living" at home with no plans.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Original vs. Copies

Last weekend I was in Venice. The real one as in Venice, Italy. I have not counted how many times I have been there in total (15 perhaps?) but it is one of my favourite cities and every time I arrive, my breath is taken away despite the gazillion tourists and tacky souvenir stalls. Since Venice is so close to my native Klagenfurt and not that far away from Vienna either, I have never really stopped to appreciate how lucky and privileged I am for being able to visit for very little money. For other people, visiting Venice remains a lifetime dream because they live far away or don't have the time or financial means to travel there. Just how much of a dream city it is, I realised when I encountered two fake Venices, both in the form of a hotel/mall/casino complex owned by the Sands chain, one in Las Vegas (where I actually stayed at the hotel for a conference) and the other in Macau. Unlike in the real Venice, the gondolieres there must be trained opera singers as they belt out "O sole mio" quite impressively. Also, the "canale grandes" there are of a swimming pool turquoise (and smell of chlorine) unlike the murky grey of the actual Canale Grande Even so, no copy (be it Venice, Hallstadt, or another city) can ever live up to the real thing and I am forever grateful for having the original Venice within easy reach. And I won't be condescending to those whom the fakes make happy, either!

Monday, March 04, 2019

#bossgoals

Last week, I met quite a few people from my two previous workplaces. It was lovely to see all of them but a highlight was the unexpected message I received from my former manager (pictured above in Dubai where we were on a business trip together in 2012) who was in Vienna for a day only and asked if I was spontaneously available to meet him before his flight back to Hamburg. Since I already had dinner plans, we only had one hour to catch up, but the mere fact that he thought of getting in touch (to quote him "I thought if she only has 15 minutes to say "hi" and exchange a hug would already be worth it") really made me my day. We share so many happy and funny memories working in the same crazy team that travelled and partied so so much. It really was a period of "work hard, play hard" and since then I am forever spoilt when it comes to hotels as the four years in his team were a blur of design hotels and fancy dinners. It seems like a lifetime ago and even though I have resigned myself to the fact that my work life is not remotely glamorous any more, but the subject matter of my work is way more interesting now, to be fair, I do get quite nostalgic at times. My ex boss has also since left that team and is currently not experiencing the best time at work, so those golden days are a thing of the past for him as well.
It actually was on that trip to Dubai that I realised what a privilege it was to have a boss whom it does not feel an obligation to have dinner with, but whom you can talk to like a friend. Having had a horrible manager before, who was a bully and really poisoned the atmosphere in the team, working in this new team was like a breath of fresh air and I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulder. We were the only German speakers in the (small) team, which created an extra bond and I really took it as a compliment when he repeatedly told me that I was a "great travel companion". Since then, he is my personal benchmark for a great manager who can also be a friend and confidant...and who gets in touch years after you don't report to him any more.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Sleep

I once had a boss who told us he was reading on a book on how to reduce the hours of sleep you need. I remember thinking "Why in the world would you want to achieve that?!" I love sleeping even if I unfortunately am not somebody who can have a power nap (unless it's a plane or train that somehow are like anesthesia for me) as I can't sleep during the day unless I am severely jet-lagged and even then I try to avoid doing so as it is really much better to make yourself stay up until it's night in the respective time-zone.
This past weekend, I realised I would have to set my alarm both on Saturday morning for skiing and on Sunday morning for a concert that was actually a church service with the Vienna Boys Choir and part os the Vienna Philharmonic performing. Even though I managed to get almost 8 hours of sleep (my usual ideal) the mere THOUGHT of potentially not getting enough sleep made me uneasy.
Mon-Fri is for feeling like a zombie who cannot function without a steady supply of coffee. Weekends are for recharging your batteries and not having to set your alarm. 
Often when I'm not feeling too well for whatever reason, a good night's sleep erases all problems and I wake up refreshed and as if my "reset" button had been pressed. I really pity people who have trouble falling asleep or wake up frequently. Personally, I am one of those people who can switch off immediately when in bed and, once up, are switched on again. It can be somewhat concerning or annoying for people who share a room, or even more so, a bed, with me to expect me to reply and find me fast asleep. It's equally, if not more annoying for people who don't jump into gear easily in the morning and who really don't want to talk to anyone, at least not before their first coffee, to have me babbling away as soon as they open their eyes. Sorry, not sorry. 

Monday, February 18, 2019

Too School for Cool

Recently, I have had one too many reminder that some people really REALLY take care not to ever mix their profession lives with their private ones to the point that they are two separate people really. It bugs me on a variety of levels. For once, I simply feel that it is sad and must be exhausting to feel that you have to play a certain role every (work) day that might be completely different from what you would otherwise behave like. What is infuriating is that it is only natural that people who get to know you in your professional role to base their evaluation of you as a person on that version they get to see. It can lead to friendships based on wrong assumptions or prevent them from happening in the first place. Why is it an excuse for arrogant or bossy behaviour that somebody is "actually super nice in real life". Why are they not super nice (while still professional and compliant) 9 to 5 Monday to Friday as well? Why do they feel that it is socially acceptable to deny being friends with certain people just because they happen to work with them as well. I am not talking about workplace affairs or scenarios where one person reports to another, but just a general paranoia of feeling you need to put on a metaphorical armour in order to be taken seriously and not risk being accidentally considered a (vulnerable, empathic) human being rather than a robot. It definitely has not always worked in my favour, but I could not be a different person at work if I tried. And I'm okay with that.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Blue & Green Or: A Smart Investment

Sometimes we find things eccentric or exaggerated that other people do and we ourselves don't. I do as well. Sometimes I just don't care what the story behind is, others I might be curious enough to want to find out more. Well, I'm not assuming all the people who are following me on Instagram and who have paid enough attention to realise that I always wear a blue, or rather turquoise, ski outfit when in Carinthia, and a green/navy and pink one when in Vienna, have had sleepless nights wondering why that may be the case. I'm going to tell you why anyway: because I have 2 sets of ski gear (outfit, helmet, boots, gloves, skis, ski poles, helmet, goggles...) one each in Vienna and Klagenfurt. Best investment ever as after years of carting my gear back and forth I am flexible to the point where I can spontaneously hop onto a train/bus/plane to Klagenfurt. It has added so much quality to my life since skiing is one of the few sports I seriously enjoy. My perfect day would be working only half a day, then being picked up by a shuttle bus that takes me to a ski resort about 30 mins away from my office where I can ski (on perfect snow, in sunshine) for 2-3 hours. Anyone would like to join me (in my pipe dream)?

Monday, February 04, 2019

Time-Thieves

We all make mistakes. We are all absent-minded and scatter-brained at times. Myself as much as the next person. However, we don't all work in fields where our mistakes or inattentiveness result in stealing other people's time and causing them a lot of anger and annoyance.
My entirely non-scientific and highly subjective research in the field of parcel delivery services has revealed that the number of (likely grossly underpaid and hence not really motivated to do a good job) people who do a messy job is particularly high in this line of work. I remember an incident a few years back when I had to hunt after a parcel that apparently had already been delivered and signed for only to find that it had been delivered not to me (or my office address, rather) but to a random brick and mortrar store of the brand I had bought it from online...for reasons only known to the delivery person. I had to go to that shop, be questionned by the store manager and then generously handed an already openend parcel. Great. Last week I spent a lot of time on the phone talking to UPS callcenter agents, most of which had such thick foreign accents that we could barely communicate...which resulted in the tracking status update not reflecting where the parcel was actually delivered to. I trekked to a "service point" (aka mobile phone repair shop not anywhere near either my home, nor my workplace) only to find out the parcel was not there. It took more quality time in the hotline to find out that I could actually retrieve it at my local post office, after waiting in line for 15 minutes. 
Arguably, just a sign that I should not order anything online any more, but annoying all the same.
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