Monday, September 17, 2018

Belonging or: One Year Later

Last Friday, THE annual company-wide event took place: a relay team triathlon with hundreds of participants. From what I found out, it always takes place in September. Last year, the triathlon hype completely bypassed me and on the day it took place I had a hearing with external training vendors with 2 other colleagues at the office. It was only when I saw photo and video coverage on our corporate Facebook channels and heard colleagues rave about the fun they had, that I realised it might be worth going the next year. I always only intended to attend as a "fan" (every team gets to nominate one fan to accompany them and cheer them on) until I ended up agreeing to sub for a swimmer that dropped out the day before. As it is not a "real" triathlon, i.e. with considerably shorter distances, the 250 m of swimming was not such a big deal and I did have great fun. The biggest revelation and partial contributor to said fun, however, was that as I was in and around the event tent, I met and said "hi" to many people I got to know during the 14 something months I've been with Household Name by now. Had I attended last year, less than three months after I started, I would definitely have felt the need to stick to the few colleagues I already knew (which might well have annoyed them). I am not a shy introvert by any means, but it does feel a bit awkward and uncomfortable when you are in a huge crowd and basically don't know anyone. Way different this year! As I was sitting eating overcooked pasta with my best work friend (the one I wrote about here), whom I have decided to call Bestie Boy here, bitching about people analysing our sporty performances he agreed that it is actually incredible how many people we now both recognise. I realised that this sense of belonging was something I had missed. At the Firm, I was one of a handful of people with the longest tenure at the Vienna office and  felt I knew "everyone" at several other offices abroad, too. Also, the sheer size of Friday's event made me think of the many company events I attended in the past decade. Well-organised fun events that were some of the greatest memories of my time at the Firm...where in retrospect it probably also took me a year to feel I really belonged, but my nostalgia made me forget that detail.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Something to Look Forward to

This past weekend, I was in Klagenfurt, getting to enjoy the lake weekend that I had forgone due to the wedding I had to return to Vienna for last month. The weather was beautiful and I got to go swimming just as planned. 
The Friday I arrived, my Mum also received the itinerary for our trip to East Canada in less than two weeks time. It is a package tour (my birthday gift) and I checked out the hotels that were listed and made a seat reservation on the Lufthansa website for the two of us. What with all my gazillion weekend trips this year, I had not put too much thought to that trip until very recently, to be honest. Now that the trip is getting closer and we have more details, I am looking forward to revisiting a country that I had only visited once, 23 (!) years ago and am beginning to paint those vague images I had in my head with bright colours. Our roundtrip includes a visit to Niagara Falls, which is definitely a bullet point on my bucket list that will be ticked off.
In general, I love having things to look forward to (well, I guess that's human nature and not a rare condition): trips abroad (or to my parents' and the lake), meeting friends I have not seen in a while, dressing up for going OUT out, trying a new cake recipe that I know my colleagues will appreciate, getting started on a new DIY project, you name it. Pretty much every Monday to Friday I am seriously looking forward to the weekend and this is actually some thing I think I might miss when I am retired or be in the lucky situation (not that likely in the near future) that I won't have to go to work any more.

Monday, September 03, 2018

My Happy Place

As I am writing this, there are no blue skies like last Monday when I took these first photos on the last day of validity of my 3 months card for Vienna's municipal outdoor pools. I managed to use it 28 times, this summer, 3 more than in 2017 when I first decided to get such a "season ticket". While there are many more pools to choose from, "Strandbad Alte Donau" which I also discovered only last year, became my absolute favourite. Not only does it only take me 15 minutes from the office, but I simply love its charming retro flair. It is a place where I can switch off the minute I pass the gates and get handed my locker key for the changing rooms. When the weather is not so great or I have plans later that evening, I only go there for a quick swim, others, I catch the last rays of evening sun and read until closing time or meet a friend whom I introduced to this gem this summer. 

I love the no-nonsense 1960s (?) architecture, the many flower arrangements with great attention to detail and all the (mostly elderly) regulars that play cards, share slices of watermelon and run after grandchildren. For children, old-school entertainment is provided and I once got really nostalgic when I saw a group of them peacefully draw on the concrete tiles in front of the changing rooms with crayons, no electronic device in sight.
I would not mind owning one of those houses along the banks of the Old Danube, but looking at them is okay, too. I particularly love the sailboats that are the icing on the cake of my postcard-perfect escapist vacation mood.

Example of the omnipresent flower arrangements:

My friend likes to lay by the old wooden bridge, which is pretty impressive, too:
From your sunbed you look up to the sky and the tops of some seriously tall trees:

Looking forward to next season!


Monday, August 27, 2018

Black Hole. The Weekend Edition

Most Friday afternoons I have three million (slight exaggeration) plans for the weekend and am pretty confident that they'll all fit in, because, you know, it's a whole weekend. Somehow, "weekend" seems like this endless time unit containing way more than just 48 hours. 
By Saturday evening, I often realise that some of those projects might not get done, but, hey, there's still Sunday (with its 50 or so supposed hours...). By Sunday afternoon, I realise that I might have been a little too ambitious again, but, hey, it has been a good weekend all the same and I got a lot of things done. In fact, a whole lot. Case in point: this past weekend: Saturday: made a smoothie for breakfast,  read Friday's newspaper, went grocery shopping, did laundry, had a massage followed by lunch and coffee with a friend, cleared out invoices, insurance policies and other files, mended some beach towels, made peanut and almond butter, polished silver necklaces, watched a film on Netflix. Saturday: made a smoothie again, baked a cake, cooked lunch, did some more laundry, went to the pool for a quick swim, cleared out some more stuff, watched YouTube and Instagram Stories, wrote this blogpost, edited a film on iMovie for a work project and read a magazine. Not that bad and unproductive, but still, I missed at least 20 extra hours I had mistakenly counted into my weekend-calculations. Sounds familiar?

Monday, August 20, 2018

Who Would Have Thought

...that I would attend the wedding of my former boss (like I did this past Saturday) and have a great time. If you had asked me eleven years ago, when I had only just started at the Firm, I would have thought that very unlikely. Without exaggeration he instilled me with terror and for the longest time, I was convinced that he downright hated me and was out to expose my supposed stupidity. I found it very hard to believe that he had lobbied to get me hired and must have seen some kind of potential in me. For me, he was a bad-tempered bully who was looking for a victim to offload his own pressure and insecurity on and for lack of many more candidates (for the longest time the Vienna office literally only consisted of a handful of employees) that victim was me. There were many evenings when I sat at home crying, regretting ever having made the move and left my comfortable, if boring and unchallenging, job at Coma HQ. The main reason why I was so unhappy those first months was a big dose of imposter syndrome and he only contributed to that, constantly making remarks that suggested I was clueless and slow at what I was doing. Back then, spending time with him voluntarily outside work would have sounded about as appealing as a two-hour-session on a dentist's chair. 
Gradually, I lost my fear and discovered that he did not in fact despise me, but actually valued me both as a person and team-member. Several legendary road trips in his Porsche convertible to clients in Graz and Salzburg contributed to the ice breaking and getting to know one another better. We never lost touch despite working in different countries for the past 6 years and he is usually the first person to wish me a happy birthday, no matter what time-zone he might be in. Together with the Empress who I also found scary at first, we also share a near-death experience on a snowy mountain in Tyrol. In a nutshell, the horrible boss has long become a friendly "big brother" figure that I shared many funny and sad moments with and I feel honoured that he invited me to celebrate his special day with him and his new wife...whom I am still struggling to find a wavelength with. Given my track-record of (mis)judging people based on my first impressions, I am quite optimistic this is doable, though.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Just chilling

Last week, when I was still in Nice, I counted how many times I had already visited with la Mademoiselle (and in recent years, more friends): 9 times, including this last visit. Wow! This means next year I'll celebrate my tenth anniversary, provided our landlady will have us again and all people involved will be in good health. Whether I want to visit again, is not a question: I certainly do! One year, Mademoiselle and I skipped Nice and we both missed it. 
I guess it's the reassurance of familiarity ("same procedure as every year") sprinkled with the right dose of new adventures (this year: a daytrip to Marseille, which was super hot, but lovely) that makes me want to return year after year.
This time, though, these stones on the beach felt a lot spikier and uncomfortable to decrepit old me and sparked a DIY project in my head: creating the perfect padded, portable beach matress for 2019. Well...350ish days to create that prototype!

Monday, August 06, 2018

OOO

(image borrowed from Capital.de/Ghetty Images)
When you are reading this, I will be on vacation. Yay. For once, I feel I have really earned  my time off and had been looking forward to taking time off work. Don't get me wrong, I was not stress beyond belief and still managed to go swimming after work when the sun is still out, but I did have plenty of things to do at the same time and was (am!) involved in several projects that had a lot of visibility and urgency. Having ticked off all tasks from my to-do list really feels like an accomplishment and it is great to announce in your out-of-office reply that your laptop and work mobile will chill at home, taking a break from you. Despite a gazillion of weekend trips that definitely won't be repeated at the same pace and frequency next year, this is the first longer vacation I am taking this year and it just feels GREAT!
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