Monday, May 13, 2019

Mean Girls

In my previous post I told you that I attended the wedding of a good English friend last weekend. What I did not tell you was this was the first time I saw her school friends again after 30 years when I  had attended school in Maidenhead with my hostess for a week or two. Back then, I found these girls all downright scary. They were very cliquey, made insider jokes and used slang I didn't undersrand. Above all, they pretended to be very worldy wise and experienced in the things that mattered to seventeen-year-olds back then...all of which I was very inexperienced in myself. It wasn't that they were mean to me, I was just an isignificant add-on to their friend and they didn't give me much attention. It was more that they left me feeling inadequate and provincial. Fast forward to 2019 and they (a group of 5 women) clearly did not recognise me at the wedding and to be honest I had not given them a single thought in the past 30 years, but I immediately recognised them and remembered how intimidating they seemed back in 1989.
Only a few days later, I had a very unpleasant work meeting where a group of female colleagues was very vocal about their discontent with a project I was the central point of contact for. I'm not saying that their anger was entirely justified, but it was as tiring as it was unpleasant. Bestie Boy helped to act as mediator and together we stayed late to produce slides to appease them. Essentially, they had felt poorly informed and I realised that my strategy had been entirely wrong: I like to avoid conflict and confrontation whenever possible and my instinct was to minimise contact with the evil witches demanding colleagues and just hope for the best. Well, that backfired and only served to make an already extremely stressful week that bit more stressful. Learning: try not to avoid the mean girls or wait until they seem harmless a few decades later, but face them and hope that your own friendly attitude rubs off on them.

Monday, May 06, 2019

30 Years

Sometimes I only realise just how old I am when I calculate how many years ago a certain event took place. Or how long I've known certain people. When this post goes live I will hopefully be back from England where I will hopefully have had a great time (and not frozen my bum off) at a lovely wedding in scenic Henley upon Thames. The wedding of a dear friend with whom I did a language exchange thirty (30!) years ago! I really can't believe we have known one another for that long and that we have kept in touch over all these years. We don't meet very often at all and don't write to each other bar one birthday and Christmas card per year, but when we do meet in person, we instantly click and reconnect where we left off the last time we saw one another. She has a great sense of humour and I remember the three or so weeks when she stayed with my family around Easter 1989 mainly laughing and sharing private jokes that made us convulse with fits of giggling. I have no doubts that we will still be in touch in 30 years time...or even 60? Okay, that's probably a little too optimistic, but we shall see...

Monday, April 29, 2019

Beach, Baby

Right now, I'm enjoying the flower explosion that is spring and never fail to stop to smell the lilac when I walk by a bush here in Vienna. In Burggarten, my favourite flowers, peonies, are in bloom and overall, it is a really nice time of the year. For me, however, one thing I love most about this season is that it won't be long to my very favourite one, summer. As the days get longer, I have more energy, am in a better mood and love life more than ever. Everything really is better in the sun as far as I am concerned and if you add water to the equation I am the happiest bunny of them all. You can bet that I'll get another season ticket for Vienna's municipal pools that will prompt me to go swimming even when the sun is not out just to prove to myself that it was money well spent. I will also enjoy lazy selfish antisocial me-time laying on the grass or sand, finally able to read the backlog of magazines I have accumulated over the previous months.
Summer is also the season when I get the most compliments as I just look and feel better when I have a bit of a tan and my hair is naturally bleached from the sun. You will see me in my feel-good uniform of striped t-shirts and white linen shirts for the next half year. I'm also totally team #daylightsavingtime and if ever there is a petition to make this the standard time for the whole year, I shall be the first to sign it. 

Monday, April 22, 2019


There have been a few occasions when I did not celebrate Easter with my parents but I can literally count them on the fingers of one hand. For me, it is pretty much unquestionable that I travel "down" to Klagenfurt for the long weekend, eat more ham and boiled eggs than during the rest of the year and pretty much enjoy a rather predictable time. Which I like. I always think of myself as "the urban type", but I do sometimes get nostalgic for the slow-paced small-town life and living in a house with beautiful garden. When I'm in Vienna, I hardly ever miss it but when at my parents' (where I am being spoilt rotten) for the Christmas or Easter holidays I just love being lazy, having someone else cook for me and finally getting to read all those books I for some reason never find time to read in Vienna. Also, there are some friends from school, who like me also work in Vienna, but whom I almost exclusively get to see when in Klagenfurt. Laying on the living room sofa or in the hammock in the garden is just as much of a tradition as is the traditional food and other rituals. I would not want to miss it for the world, really.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Matchy Matchy

The majority of my friends are married with children. The others are currently single (like myself) and mostly not of the desperate variety at all. Nonetheless, most of them would not mind a significant other provided he or she is a nice, funny and good-looking individual. Unfortunately, this species seems not only hard to find, but definitions of what exactly IS nice, funny and good-looking vary. 
What seems so complicated for oneself appears so obvious in the case of others and myself, I am often tempted to match two people I know. So far, no success at all as at least one party did not fancy the other and they were not that keen on being matched in the first place. Recently, some friends of mine and I have become low key obsessed with "trying to match our gay best friends". Needless to say, not very successfully either.
Part of me secretly wants to get somebody delivered on a plate who has been pre-approved by people who know me well, i.e. in particular they have done the background checks on them in the categories "sociophath", "psychopath", "potential ghoster" or "more issues than Vogue" on my behalf. The only time a friend matched me with a seriously handsome guy in her portfolio he definitely fell into the latter category. Then again, the few dates we had made for some anecdotes that have become classics among my friends. Better than nothing, I suppose. *Insert shrugging emoji*

Monday, April 08, 2019

Words, Words, Words

Recently I had a pretty serious fallout with someone very dear to my heart. It happened over chat and escalated quickly. In a nutshell, something I had written rubbed the other person the wrong way and they replied with a snappy retort that I found very hurtful. Cue: me sulking and waiting in vain for an apology. In a group chat, there was eerie silence or rather just a dialogue between myself and the third group member. I actually ended up getting worried that something had happened to the "offender" when the radio silence continued. The next long message I received was what I interpreted as a summary of accusations and what to me boiled down to "and now please leave me alone". I was shocked and after digesting and rereading it a few times, fired back an (in)appropriate reply. 
This all happened while I was in Bologna and even though I was in lovely company and had plenty of distractions, I kept going through these words in my head, feeling very sad and unfairly done by. I really was very upset and emotional, but all the same it was good to take a step back and think about things. No more verbal missiles were shot but we ended up talking on Monday night when misunderstandings were cleared and "business", i.e. our friendship resumed more or less where it had stopped.
It really got me thinking. As much as I love written communication (see also my previous post) and treasure words on paper in particular, it often creates misunderstandings and unintentionally might hurt the recipient because additional context is lacking, as are looks or gestures that make you realise when things are intended ironically. In chat, even the meaning of emojis is not necessarily universal and people spend hours trying to interpret what the sender might not even have put any thought into before hitting "send".
Over the years, I have also worked on letting people know more or less immediately when I feel insulted or need to clarify something. It was definitely a process as I used to be the absolute QUEEN of sulking and the undisputed world champion in expecting people (significant others in particular) to be able to read my mind at all times and to anticipate my every thought and need. Very annoying and useless indeed as I have thankfully come to realise. Unfortunately though, not everyone else has also come to that realisation and I don't deal well at all with being served a summary of "wrongdoings" weeks or even months after having committed them in the first place. It makes me suspect that all my words and actions are being secretly documented in some kind of log file only to be used against me whenever the need arises. 
Also, I think that in most relationships, be they amorous, platonic, or sometimes even familial, there is one person who is more emotionally invested than the other and thus extra sensitive and touchy. That goes so far that I know some girls who are actively looking to find someone who likes them more than they like them as it's obviously good for the ego and you can't be hurt as theory.
Myself, I have pretty much always sensed from the start which side the "emotional scale" had a bias towards and when I know it's to my likely disadvantage often have a foreboding that it's only a matter of time until I will be disappointed. Well, hello there, self-fulfilling prophecy.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Community Manager

I like to display my Christmas and birthday cards on a vertical metal "string" on one of my living room doors. Since these days I hardly get any snail mail apart from these, I usually leave them hanging for weeks before I take them down and either throw them out, or, depending on whether I love the card and/or the message enough to keep it, put them in a box. I used to keep all cards for the longest time before I realised that my storage space was not endless, so these days I also often just take a photo of some messages as opposed to hanging on to it. Last weekend, I (finally) cleared away my birthday cards and there was one by a friend who is actually among those I have known least in terms of years. She thanked me for being a good friend, adding that I should keep doing what I am (according to her) so good at: "being a community manager both at work and with your friends". I really, really loved being characterised like that as this is something I both love doing and what comes naturally to me. I really like putting like-minded people in touch with each other and get the conversation going. 
Her kind words also made me realise that I should put more efforts in my own messages and wishes because you clearly can make the recipient just as happy (if not more so) with words than with the actual gift. Also, the older I get, the more, I value real friendship as opposed to "fair-weather-friendship" and try to stay away from people who fall into the latter category.
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