Monday, June 07, 2021

Socialising

On Saturday, I visited a restaurant AND a café together with 2 of Highflyer's (fully vaccinated) elder sisters who were visiting. It felt unreal after about 9 months or so of not having been able to visit any of those establishments. Also, having house guests felt like a remnant from another world. Highflyer's teenage sons were staying last week as well. The last time they (who live in Germany with their mother) visited was after Christmas when they had to self-isolate for 5 days in his house before they could break quarantine after a negative Covid test and take the train to Innsbruck for our joint skiing holiday.
I am also meeting a group of friends for dinner on Wednesday night and it feels almost decadent to be able to socialise in a proper way, rather than going for endless walks with a coffee-to-go and no opportunity to use a toilet when you need to.
Truth be told, I have not missed the actual food part that much since cooking and baking has been my primary creative outlet for the past months, but it's nice to eat some things (like fried food) that I won't or can't cook myself. I never ordered any takeout other than an occasional pizza since I a) hate all the packaging that comes with it and b) don't really like the condition the food is in, mostly.
Spontaneously meeting friends for dinner or an ice-cream in town after work is something I used to do a lot and which feels like a habit from another world. I am definitely looking forward to slipping back into my city-girl costume once I am fully vaccinated (so far, one dose with no noticeable reactions or side effects) myself and will be back in the office parts of the week.
 

Monday, May 31, 2021

Name Dropping


I don't know if it's true (still), but apparently in China a common greeting is "Have you eaten?". In Austria these days it's definitely "Have you been vaccinated?". Whereas at the beginning of the year many people were still sceptical and didn't necessarily want to be among the first to get vaccinated, it soon turned to eagerness and impatience and those who still say they do not intend to get vaccinated are becoming a minority. Once the first question has been answered, the follow up question is not so much "when" and "how" (GP, local vaccination centre, at work,...) but "what did you get?" People who got Astra Zeneca are regarded with a mix of pity (maybe they are teachers who didn't have a choice when it was their turn?) or respect for their bravery in view of the bad PR and the lower percentage of efficiency. Those who got Biontech Pfizer, the crème de la crème, according to popular opinion here, are envied and asked how they ended up getting that (in the case of my parents, because my Dad is in the high risk group and my Mum the primary contact) and those who got Moderna are also considered lucky as logic goes if it's the most expensive vaccine, it must be good and you also don't have to wait any longer for your booster shot than you would with Biontech Pfizer. I have yet to meet anyone in person who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine here, but it definitely would add some spice to the discussion. 
Vaccine name dropping and discussing the ifs, and how-longs of side effects really has become THE smalltalk topic and replaced complaining about the weather even...which definitely is noteworthy as we've just experienced the coldest spring in 34 years!

Monday, May 24, 2021

Finish Line?

 

I am currently in Klagenfurt and happy that my parents got their second Covid-19 vaccine last Saturday (with no noticeable side effects, by the way). I'm eagerly awaiting my own first shot, not only because 3 weeks after that I won't need to get tested for pretty much every thing apart from shopping and museum visits. This year, you even need to show proof of vaccination, test or recovery for visiting my beloved Strandbad. I am very happy that there is a general air of optimism and it's possible to meet up with friends and family again. I am not so happy that there is an - in my opinion - unjustified URGE to get people back to the office and I have been asked to facilitate (and attend) a gazillion of in-person workshops in June. What's the rush all of a sudden? Can't we wait until everybody (insert raising-hand-emoji here) has had a chance to get at least their first vaccine before we herd people together and risk a new escalation of "the situation" that means the end of fun and games for everybody? It feels like we're close to a finish line of sorts, but many people are throwing out reason and don't follow their own guidelines and it exasperates me.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Somebody Else's Life

 

Last year, I ordered my first ever photo book (as a Christmas present for Highflyer). I wanted to document this crazy past spring for us. It came out really well and I get pretty nostalgic every time I look at it. Even more than "nostalgic" it feels utterly unreal that with the exception of 3 (half) days I have worked from home for 14 months and spent most of my time in a small village in Lower Austria. Like, how did that even happen?! And no, this is not an actual question since I am well aware of what caused this change in circumstances not just for myself, but for so many people. I often feel that it was a little more extreme in my case, though than for many others (thankfully in an entirely positive sense as losing your job or even worse, loved ones as a direct effect of the Pandemic is of course a WAY more drastic change in circumstances!) as I (temporarily) relocated, changed so many things in this house and (re)discovered new hobbies. Okay, the latter probably holds true for a lot of people. I have always been an avid photographer, which is why Instagram holds such an appeal to me. The last 14 months were no exception and I have taken many photos of pretty mundane activities and "events" and when I scroll through my camera roll on my phone I sometimes feel that those photos between March 2020 and now which I of course clearly remember are documents of another life, or even more so, somebody else's life...

Monday, May 10, 2021

In Permanent Rotation


In view of the name of this blog it's ironic that I've been wearing pretty much the same bag(s) for months. Not very surprisingly, my lifestyle has changed A LOT since Lockdown Nr. 1 back in March 2020. Other than regular day trips to Vienna that almost feel like mini breaks and short holidays in Klagenfurt that definitely feel like exotic vacations, the weekly grocery haul is pretty much the only use-case for a handbag and I've had these practical Longchamp bags on permanent rotation. I bought the red one on my only trip abroad last summer, when I spent a few days in Nice and treated myself to the blue one for my birthday. I'm still not adverse to beautiful things, but when you don't regularly browse things in stores or kill time at airports where you feel justified to spend a little more "Monopoly money" (in case you did not know, money spent on vacation does not count) you don't feel as much need to have the latest it-piece. That's not to say the local parcel delivery people have not come to know me during the past few months thanks to my online shopping habit, but I've become a basic b**** here in my suburban home office and I'll readily admit that getting an opportunity to give some of my finer items of clothing and accessories a long overdue airing might the the only reason that makes me look forward to working from a "real" office again. 

Monday, May 03, 2021

It's a Thing

Today the most recent lockdown is over for Vienna and Lower Austria, not that I am planning to do anything crazy. It is also the beginning of the week that some people I know personally or who are friends and relatives of my friends will be getting their Covid vaccinations, even though they are considerably younger than me. Why? Well, it's either because their companies were more diligent and/or politically well-connected and/or pushier than mine or because they found doctors to write them dubious certificates that they belong to the "risk factor" cohort that is currently being prioritised. Impfneid, which translates to "vaccination envy" is one of those words that were coined during the past months. Until recently it was not really something I could personally relate to (my main concern was that my parents would get their first shot and they now have, thankfully) and I still feel more than a little disgusted by people who swindle their way onto some prioritisation list, but now that it begins to feel that I will be among the very last people in this country to get the chance for lack of connections and low moral standards, I am getting a feel of what this concept means. The envy is becoming real and I really don't want to end up with less privileges than everyone who has received their vaccinations and, worst of it, be put into the same category of people who deliberately choose not to get vaccinated because they are believers in some conspiracy theory or other. Excuse the lame pun, but can I get my shot at the new normal, please?
 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Off Grid

On Saturday afternoon I had arranged to meet the Empress for a walk in Lainzer Tiergarten, a popular recreation area in the outskirts of Vienna. Unfortunately Google Maps, which I always use for navigation in my car, did not direct me to the main gate where we were supposed to meet, but to a different one (20 minutes apart by car) which I did not realise until I parked my car as where I ended up, there was absolutely no mobile coverage. I asked a lady how far I was from the other gate and decided to take a shortcut through the park while restarting my phone several times, not sure if there was simply no reception or if there was an outage by my phone provider. Unfortunately I had started walking into the opposite direction and when I asked a group of elderly hikers if I was on the right route to the main gate, adding that I could not use my phone, they confirmed "oh yes, there's no phone coverage here." At this stage I was not sure whether the Empress would still be waiting at all and decided to walk back to my car and call her (back, assuming correctly that she had tried to contact me in the meantime) as soon as my mobile network was accessible again. Eventually I ended up at the arranged meeting point pretty much one hour late having had to circle around for a parking spot as well.
I felt both flustered (I hate being late!) and stupid (are we really that useless and non-functioning without our mobile phones?!) and it reminded me of a similar situation a few years ago when my phone slid out of the back pocket of my jeans on a bus in Zurich and it cost me quite some stress and money to get it back. I suppose it's that feeling of helplessness, knowing that actually everything is fine (I'm okay and in no danger, the sun is shining and my friend won't get cold waiting) and yet it's extremely awkward (I was putting myself in her shoes knowing that I would be extremely worried if someone whom I knew to be always on time did neither show up, nor answer their phone and messenges only yielded that one dash telling you they had been sent, but not delivered yet) and annoying. With few exceptions (elevators, a few buildings with very thick walls, and my office actually) you do not expect to not have any signal in Vienna...and it's not that pay phones are still a thing. If there is one learning, I'll check the suggested route on Google Maps next time before setting off...

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