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!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Offline Magic

Last Saturday I saw an enchanting performance of "Carmen" on the super impressive stage in/on Lake Constance in Bregenz. It was a looong train journey and a short stay, but so worth it. My Mum, whom I treated to the weekend in Bregenz for her birthday, really enjoyed it too. As thunderstorms had been forecast we were rather anxious that the long trip might have been in vain, but the weather gods had mercy and we enjoyed the performance in perfect summer weather, sunset shortly before the performance and all. Theatres, concert halls and opera houses are among the few places where the audience really sticks to the organisers' no phone/no photos policy. Perhaps only because the glaring screens of their phones would immediately have given you away in the dark. The above picture was taken during the "curtain call" when everyone was reaching for their phones for the first time after two hours of focused and undisturbed listening and watching. It's almost an unreal experience these days to be able to follow a performance and be able to take in every detail without double-screening or replying to some message simultaneously. At the beginning you (or rather I) can't help thinking "this would make a great picture" and are itching to reach for your phone, then you forget about it and let yourself be sucked into the plot and the cool stunts (spoiler alert: the protagonist jumps into the lake at some point). Sometimes I serious long for this period of digital innocence in everyone's lives when this was the norm and not a slightly painful conscious decision or lifestyle trend ("digital detox"). Part of me thinks that it might become the norm again in the not so distant future. We shall see.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Age

Last Saturday, I attended the first 50th birtday party of my circle of friends. Fifty! About 20 years ago, fifty seemed positively ancient to me and while I did not really think about people that age much, it was definitely an age you could only ever imagine your parents or grandparents to belong to and not yourself and your peers. Now that I am not that far away from this number myself, it is neither a scary, nor really associated with "old" anymore. Also, the older I become, the more diverse my circle of friend becomes and the more I realise how immature and self-righteous it is to bitch about people who are in an age-gap relationship or hang out with people way older or younger than themselves. I have learnt that age really just is a number and due to personal circumstances (marital status, sexual orientation, job...you name it) you might feel more affinity to people younger or older than you. Particularly when you fall in love with someone way off the social norm you will immediately be judged and speculations will be made. Older man with young woman? She has a father complex and a gold digger. Vice versa? Desperate woman clearly in denial about her mortality wants a toyboy. He just wants to exploit her and will leave her alone for a hot young chick at the next opportunity that presents itself. We have so many labels and preconceptions and while they might look their age or not that much younger (even though I personally think your attitude towards life is also reflected in a certain youthful look) a lot of 50- or 60-year-olds feel and act a lot younger than some people half their age. Provided I'll enjoy it in good health, I am definitely not afraid of my half-century birthday and have already told my friends to save the date. It's a Saturday, yay!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Deeds Above Words

Yesterday, I broke the silence (of approximately 3.5 months) via a happy-birthday-to-you e-mail to somebody who I never wanted to have silence with in the first place. It just happened and I let it happen as that phone-call I had been hoping for that I believed would clear the air and do away with all misunderstandings never came. (And no, I couldn't just call myself, otherwise I would have). The reply was friendly, but sobering and not quite what I had hoped for. The old me would have fired off a dozen sequel e-mails of novel length to try and "understand" and "get to the core" of what I already understand only too well: that I am just not important enough to this person, never was and never will be. The new me has learnt (and no, that insight did not come overnight) that you just have to accept some things as tough and unpleasant as they may be and it's better for everyone involved if you keep those needy novels to yourself and look out for people who don't suffocate you with words, but impress you with deeds. And vice versa, of course.

Monday, July 09, 2018

One year later

This past week, I had my one year anniversary chez Household Name. Yes, I know. Time flies! Anniversaries are always a good opportunity for a bit of reflection, so here goes. In this year, I have managed to sniff out the "cool kids" who are on my wavelength and build up a pretty good network. I still miss the colourful fun, generosity and creativity of the Firm A LOT and still get baffled by the attitude of quite a few people at my current place of work that can best be described as a mix of passive aggressiveness and refusal to even consider adapting to anything new. What I enjoy most is the fact that not only does my job title contain the word "expert", but I am really treated like one. Working at the headquarter of a multi-national company now as opposed to a little outpost does make a big difference and I like that a lot.
My first months were pretty quiet, almost boring, task-wise. Oh my, how this has changed. Very recently, I gained more visibility than I ever wanted and now have turned into an executive-summary-producing, leadership-meeting-attending machine. Not really something I particularly enjoy for an extended period of time, to be honest and I would not mind if things got more quiet during the summer. All in all, though, I have learned a lot in this year, most of all about myself.
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