Monday, March 20, 2017

Hanging Out With the Kids

With very few exceptions, as an adult, I never really had friends who are considerably older than myself. In fact, when I was in my twenties, I found it positively odd that some people I knew counted people in their mid-thirties and even forties as friends and invited them to their birthday parties and weddings. When I started working at Coma HQ I was the youngest in my department and one of the youngest employees overall and only gradually realised that you could have fun and things in common with people older than yourself even when their lives and personal circumstances were quite different from your own.
Now, the situation is reversed and I have a lot of friends considerably younger than myself. This year, several of my colleagues who I get on really well with are turning 30, which makes me 1.5 times older than themseves. Eeek! On Saturday night, I was at a 30th birthday party, wondering what I must look like to attendees in their mid twenties. Will they wonder what such an old fart is doing there, or if I am one of the hostesses' mother or aunt? I used to be so intolerant and agist myself,  I would not even blame them in the least...

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Artist is Absent

For my birthday this year, Snow White gave me the hardcover edition of Marina Abramovic's autobiography Walk Through Walls with a lovely inscription. I appreciated the gift, but since I was not aware she had even written a memoir, I did not feel the urgency to start reading right away. I was familiar with her work, of course, in part because my parents were subscribed to ART literally for decades, in part because I often read about high-profile performances, such as The Artist Is Prsent in the media, or saw them advertised. I had never been to any of her performances myself and have to admit that this genre of art is not really my kettle of fish, most of the time. 
When my Mum recently was in Vienna, she saw the book next to my sofa and got quite excited. I know that she loves reading autobiographies of interesting women in general (I do, too), but since my mother is an artist herself, she was of course extra interested. She started leafing through the book and even though she is not all that keen on reading books in English, she asked me if I could lend it to her. I offered to give it to her to read first, but as she was in Vienna by public transport, she did not really fancy carrying this fat hardcover monster and asked me to bring it with me when I visit my parents for Easter. Well, since she was so intrigued, I took the book and started reading...and got completely sucked into the story until I had finished it. It is well-written, interspersed with photos. In a nutshell, it documents the life of a woman completely and utterly committed to her work. Besides, the difficult relationship with her parents and her passionate and ultimately disappointing long-term relationships are deeply moving. 
I am always in awe when somebody lives their passions and feels they have a mission and can't stop until their work is completed, be that horticulture, teaching, or inventing technology - it doesn't matter really. Some people are just so completely consumed by their Master Plan and willing to endure and sacrifice  everything in order to complete it. In comparison, I feel ridiculous leading the "mehp" kind of life of the majority of people who do not burn for what they do in their job that pays the bill and don't really achieve grand things after hours, either. 
I guess New Year's resolutions are just as good in March as they are in January.

Monday, March 06, 2017

A Visit to the Neighbours

This past weekend, I was in Hévíz, Hungary, with my mother. It was one of my Christmas presents and when she had asked me if I would fancy going there with her, I agreed, assuming for whatever reason that this town would basically be just beyond the Austro-Hungarian border. It turned out that it was much farther away and I began to stress about it weeks before. Even though Hungary is so close by and I have been to Budapest (by train) several times as well as on grocery shopping (read: hoarding) trips with my great-aunt who loved that everything was much cheaper and according to her of superior quality ("I don't get the same results baking with Austrian flour, I swear!") at the same time, it was pretty much terra incognita for me and I had an uneasy feeling driving there by car. Possibly, it had to do with the story of a Japanese colleague at Coma HQ who caused all employees to hand in their keys because he (one of the few people to be entrusted with a master key) had literally fallen prey to highway robbers on the motorway in Hungary. I don't remember all the details of the story, but according to him, he had been stopped by fake police men, who ended up taking all his personal belongings. Including the office master key...
With this and other stories (likely urban legend material) in my head, I researched a route that would have me drive a longer part of the journey on Austrian territory and cross a lesser known border that was not along the Balkan transit route. In the end, the drive was as chilled as the stay itself (I can highly recommend a visit to this area and a swim in the thermal lake - see picture above - was a highlight) and I felt embarrassed for having such stereotypes. Since I didn't get roasted on a pit by wild natives, nor robbed by bandits in the end, I am tempted to visit the neighbours again in the near future...

Monday, February 27, 2017

Phantom Bags or How to Tell You Have a Serious Problem...

First of all, it is a relief to know I am obviously not the only person afflicted by these symptoms - at least Chiquita mentioned the same. With symptoms I mean the slightly uneasy feeling when you are doing sports (case in point: skiing) and every now and then want to reach for your bag or get a rush of adrenaline thinking "Shit, where is my bag? Did I leave it somewhere? Oh. Right. I am skiing, I didn't take a bag. Duh" Has this ever happened to you?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Good Health

Don't you just cringe inwardly or thing "Yeah, yeah...blahdiblah and World Peace and all that" when you read that someone replies that to the question what they would ask for if granted one wish from the fairy with her magic wand? Well, I certainly have found it a less than "original" answer. As I am writing this (on Sunday afternoon) I am recovering from a killer cold. Possibly the worst one I have ever had. I usually pride myself of being THE absolute expert of nipping a cold in its bud, due to being able to read the signs of my body pretty well (one advantage of having reached...EEEEK...middle age) and having been required to be able to perform my pony tricks on business trips with no backup plan. This time, though, it caught me completely off guard and hit me like a sledge hammer. From 0 to full blown feeling-like-poop status. It was such an alien sensation I (who am definitely not of the hypochondriac persuasion) ended up googling "difference between influenza and common cold" and "symptoms of pneumonia". It's been a coughing, snot-dripping, shivering nightmare. I did not know it was humanly possible to sneeze that many times in a row without combusting. The only thing missing (thankfully) has been a sore throat (fingers crossed!), which normally is the first sign that I will get a cold. Being me, I did not cancel any of the things I had planned for the weekend (yep, my generosity does not stop at sharing germs with my friends), but I am quite enjoying being mainly house-bound and focused on recovery today.
I am a firm believer in hot baths being the cure-all for almost every situation in life, most of all, a cold. Well, this time, I could not soak in the bath because I had 3 burn marks (long story, the short version of which is yours truly is STUPID!) on my left thigh that took over a week to start growing new skin and made me look like the victim of a North Korean torture camp. Thankfully day 10, when it looked like this, allowed me to finally immerse myself in the hot tub. Aaaah.
The highlight of this week is going to a ball on Friday with a group of friends, fancy long robe and all, and I am determined to do so without the faintest trace of this killer cold. 
When you're used to enjoying good health 99% of the time you begin to take it for granted. Feeling like s*** is not so great, after all, and yeah, good health really IS the most important thing to wish for as you can't really enjoy the other good things in life in its absence. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Glimpse into Other People's Lives

By "other people" I don't mean the type of people who own that stately home, where I spent two nights last week, but the type of people whose business trips are much less "holiday-like" than mine. One of the reasons why I always tell people they don't need to pity me for my at times pretty frequent business travelling (early flights aside) is that in general, I have enough time to see something of the city I am in, be it for sightseeing, shopping or discovering nice cafés or restaurants. Quite often, all of the above. This time tough, I was in a really impressive place and did not get to explore any of its surroundings. In fact, I ended up being"locked in" all day on Thursday and did not get any fresh air that day at all, which I can't remember doing in years (!). It was o.k. , but it really made me think that this is reality and summary of every single work day of a lot of people, who typically fly in and out of a city the same day, have meetings at airports, stay at nondescript airport hotels, and might have "been" to a city dozens of times without having experienced anything other than its airport terminals, taxis and conference rooms. I really consider myself lucky that this is NOT the norm for me, but an exception that struck me as quite surreal.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Airports are Dangerous

Even after years of pretty frequent business travelling, I still enjoy flying and being in airports. I know that I am a minority, but this is how it is. I also like being at airports on time and will rather kill time in lounges, cafés or shops than arrive flustered and spend half my flight panting and close to a heart attack. Simply put, I like to get my adrenaline rushes elsewhere, rather than calculate next to no time for travelling to the airport. Having once stood in a security line for 2+ hours (!) at a US airport and had other close shaves, I am not planning to change this anytime soon and have in the past suggested colleagues who like to play it cool and like to arrive at the airport 15 minutes before departure time travel separately and we meet at the gate. Unless it is a super crappy airport that offers next to know shopportunities, I am not a fan of airport lounges that, in my opinion at least, only begin to get glamorous once you have reached Senator status or above, which I have not. I therefore prefer browsing through shops and have struck many unexpected deals over the years. Most recent case(s) in point. A really cool KNOMO backpack for 40% off in Vienna on my way to London, where, ironically, this brand hails from. I only discovered this brand last September when a colleague based in Dublin got praised for her own Knomo backpack by others who also seemed in the know(mo) about it. I liked her bag, but then forgot about it until I was idly browsing through shops in the old part of VIE airport from where I departed last Monday and happened upon this beauty:
You have read here before that I (thought I) had found "THE perfect business travel bag"...ahem. I like to believe that this one truly deserves this title:
 So stylish and with great attention to detail. Also loving the dark green colour:
Flying back, I had even more time to kill at LHR Terminal 3. Travelling to Paddington station, I had to take a detour as the Bakerloo line turned out to be suspended due to a fire alarm. Ugh, much as I love London, I don't think I would like to deal with public transport strikes and suspensions on a daily basis. I talked to several colleagues whose daily commute (not calculating in diversions and unexpected surprises) is 2 hours (!) each direction. Anyway, I digress. I had made a purchase at Termina 3's nice little Tiffany's outlet before, repurchasing the bracelet that got lost or stolen in Dubrovnik. I got intrigued by the little smile earrings they had on display.  After doing some online research to find out if they were cheaper in the US, I found they weren't and returned to try them on. It turned out they didn't look so exciting on me and so I asked for other small studs. I ended up buying their classic 8 mm silver beads, which you can't see here, but we'll agree their boxes always look pretty, right?
As I was waiting for the nice sales associate to prepare my bill, a young gentleman came in asking if they had engagement rings. Judging from his accent, he was Russian. He was looking at the rings somewhat unexcitedly and I could not help imagining some pushy buxom blonde who had been dropping heavy hints that it was about time he popped the question and produced some blinding sparkler. Nonetheless, I felt a bit wistful and for a moment wished there was someone nice (not necessarily of the Russian oligarch variety) shopping at Tiffany's for me. Well, the year is still young ;-p
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