Monday, February 11, 2019

Blue & Green Or: A Smart Investment

Sometimes we find things eccentric or exaggerated that other people do and we ourselves don't. I do as well. Sometimes I just don't care what the story behind is, others I might be curious enough to want to find out more. Well, I'm not assuming all the people who are following me on Instagram and who have paid enough attention to realise that I always wear a blue, or rather turquoise, ski outfit when in Carinthia, and a green/navy and pink one when in Vienna, have had sleepless nights wondering why that may be the case. I'm going to tell you why anyway: because I have 2 sets of ski gear (outfit, helmet, boots, gloves, skis, ski poles, helmet, goggles...) one each in Vienna and Klagenfurt. Best investment ever as after years of carting my gear back and forth I am flexible to the point where I can spontaneously hop onto a train/bus/plane to Klagenfurt. It has added so much quality to my life since skiing is one of the few sports I seriously enjoy. My perfect day would be working only half a day, then being picked up by a shuttle bus that takes me to a ski resort about 30 mins away from my office where I can ski (on perfect snow, in sunshine) for 2-3 hours. Anyone would like to join me (in my pipe dream)?

Monday, February 04, 2019

Time-Thieves

We all make mistakes. We are all absent-minded and scatter-brained at times. Myself as much as the next person. However, we don't all work in fields where our mistakes or inattentiveness result in stealing other people's time and causing them a lot of anger and annoyance.
My entirely non-scientific and highly subjective research in the field of parcel delivery services has revealed that the number of (likely grossly underpaid and hence not really motivated to do a good job) people who do a messy job is particularly high in this line of work. I remember an incident a few years back when I had to hunt after a parcel that apparently had already been delivered and signed for only to find that it had been delivered not to me (or my office address, rather) but to a random brick and mortrar store of the brand I had bought it from online...for reasons only known to the delivery person. I had to go to that shop, be questionned by the store manager and then generously handed an already openend parcel. Great. Last week I spent a lot of time on the phone talking to UPS callcenter agents, most of which had such thick foreign accents that we could barely communicate...which resulted in the tracking status update not reflecting where the parcel was actually delivered to. I trekked to a "service point" (aka mobile phone repair shop not anywhere near either my home, nor my workplace) only to find out the parcel was not there. It took more quality time in the hotline to find out that I could actually retrieve it at my local post office, after waiting in line for 15 minutes. 
Arguably, just a sign that I should not order anything online any more, but annoying all the same.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Déjà Vu

Something that comes with age (...and I will turn a year older this week) is that you not only catch yourself thinking that you've seen - and worn - a lot of fashion trends before, decades ago, but that you meet people or end up in situations that are eerily familiar. 
At the beginning of my time at the Firm there was a colleague who, in retrospect, was partly a hiring mistake for that role (it was an internal transfer) and partly was treated with a distinct lack of emotional intelligence and leadership competence by her manager, who happened to be mine, too. In a nutshell, we could watch her getting more stressed by the day, become very emotional to the point of paranoia and it really put a strain on everything and everyone at work. Back then, in all honesty, part of me felt relieved that it was not ME who was in her shitty situation and who had to bear the brunt of our boss's moods. Mind you, I ended up in a not too dissimilar constellation a few years later myself that I eventually escaped by changing teams. 
These days, there are first signs that a similar drama is about to evolve and I am not prepared to be as passive and quiet any more, but want to contribute to a "de-escalation" if you so will.
In other news and also on the subject of déjà vu, I wonder if I might be on the fast track to becoming a bit too emotionally dependant on and comfortable with somebody I have spent a lot of time with lately, as they simultaneously fit the role of sibling, best friend and substitute for a partner perfectly. Not  that I am too concerned, really, but...watchful, for my own good.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Only Child

When this post goes live I'll hopefully be preparing for breakfast in Paris. When I booked the flight at the end of October, there were no protests there yet. Myself, I am not concerned for my safety as I am not planning to seek out any places that smell of danger and imminent escalation. My Mum, however, made remarks along the lines of "Who in their right mind visits Paris these days?!" as I knew she would. I am an only child and for as long as I can remember, my parents have been worried about me...and I have been doing exactly what they did not want me to. Mum does not want me to drive a scooter? Just pester Dad long enough until he caves. Parents implore you not to visit Northern Ireland (back then, still a rather tumultuous place) during my Erasmus year in Dublin: just say "yay, yay" and then go there anyway. Same with some holiday destinations, such as a planned visit to South Korea a few years ago when - pre Trump, but still - there was considerable tension because of heated rhetoric regarding nuclear strikes. Do I need to mention that I did not cancel my trip?
So. Now Paris. Parents not that happy. Daughter going there anyway.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Everything But the Sea

Last Sunday as I was ice-skating with a friend, we agreed that Vienna is pretty much the best place to live when it comes to recreational options. Outdoor swimming and other water sports in summer and ice-skating in winter right in the city centre and slopes just an hour away. Brief tangent: I am SO happy about all this snow right now (not that I want people to be snowed in or die in avalanches, of course) as it makes me think nostalgically of the winters of my childhood that I remember as white, mainly. This is most likely a gross exaggeration of my faulty memory, but never mind.
In a lot of other countries, people can only dream about such luxuries that I, personally, really appreciate and would not want to change for the world. I also love that several other European capitals are only a short drive or train ride away, depending which part of Austria you live in. It only occurred to me that this was not in fact the norm when I was on an Erasmus year in Dublin and hardly anyone in my History of Art class raised their hands when the lecturer asked who had ever been to Italy and seen some of the art we were discussing in the original. Admittedly, this was more than 20 years ago, pre-Celtic Tiger and before Ryanair got really big and affordable, but even so, it made me realise that having grown up in a town where driving to Italy for lunch and shopping was a pretty standard Saturday occupation made me stand out like a unicorn from my Irish classmates. It is all a matter of perspective. The Irish of my generation all have (more or less fond) memories of school trips to Bulgaria for skiing, which for Austrians of course is a very odd and eccentric idea what with all those mountains right at our doorstep. Similarly one of my ex-managers at the Firm would tell me about day-trips to Denmark which is not that far away from Hamburg, where he lives. Denmark is about as "exotic" to Austrians as Italy is to the Irish. 
The only thing I wish we (still) had is access to the sea. Other than that: no complaints.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Empties

While, again, I don't have any BIG, worthy New Year's resolutions along the lines of saving the world, inventing the cure for cancer or single-handedly putting a stop to global warming, I do have a mini resolution...also again: using up my HUGE stash of cosmetics and make-up products before I buy new ones. In the jargon of YouTube beauty gurus this means "hitting pan" or achieving "empties". This might sound like a minor feat, but for me, coming across the beckoning aisles of drugstores in countries like France (hyped beauty insider products!), Bulgaria (OMG, so cheap and such great quality!) and Korea (cutting-edge science that will not arrive in Europe anytime soon!) is a hard test to my shopaholic heart. Also, Niche Beauty's bi-annual (at least) "goodie bags" that you get once you purchase over a certain (rather high) threshold are very tempting...as are the vouchers I receive from local brands where I own loyalty cards. So...small step for mankind, big step for yours truly: don't buy any more stuff until you have used up some.

Monday, December 31, 2018

2018: The Year I Grew Up

What a year! I'm not really one for ranking people or events and I (thankfully) forget easily that the weather was particularly bad a certain summer that other people refer to as the "worst ever". Rain? So what? Similarly, I would not really label years as "the best" or "worst" of my life since I hope to have many more years ahead of me. 
2018 has definitely been a pivotal year for me, though, as I felt I could finally drag myself out of a spiral of having my happiness and self-assurance determined by people (well, men) in whose priorities I came 2987th, if that. A friend of mine had told me about a decade ago already "you know, it's not that hard to just ignore a ringing phone". While I not only understood what she was trying to tell me, but actually agreed and knew she was right, I had always felt this urge to have the last word. in an argument, to "make sense" of what, deep down, I knew I would never be able to rationalise, to find closure...or to just get some extra airtime to convince somebody that I was awesome and loveable. Turns out you can indeed NOT have the last word, not react to a message and not offer the other cheek when you were already slapped before (metaphorically, not literally) several times. Accepting that some things are just not meant to be and there's little you can do to change the situation does not mean you need to sulk or be bitter, either. You can just let go, think of the good times you had and not dwell on the others. Wow, almost easy.
Acting on my words only took me 46 years, I know. Won't lie: it really made me proud when some people whose opinion I value remarked on how impressed they were by my "transformation" and mature behaviour. I'm still impressed by myself, at times ;-p
This does not mean that I don't get nostalgic and wistful. I do. I think of the lovely ski weekend I had last year, that was exactly like I had always wished for, or holding hands under the table at a fancy restaurant. And quite a few things that don't have their place in a nice, family-safe blog, wink, wink. These are exactly the good times I will remember and while I have not even been looking for someone after the very unexpected and unpleasant end of my "non-relationship" this March, I did not mind being "alone" at all, because I knew I needed the time to focus on what I really wanted and needed. It was quite a novel experience, having so much extra time in my life that was not wasted obsessing over texts or e-mails, not waiting for somebody to call.
Another thing I had been told echoed in my ears: a few years ago, my cousin had replied to my complaints that all I wanted was somebody to "be nice to me" with a wry "Do you really? I am getting exactly the opposite impression." It was true: while I kept telling myself I was so over the drama, I secretly put myself into situations where I knew there would be drama. No more, though. So over drama. Bring on the nice, please! I can handle it now.
The other thing that made me realise I've grown up was an incident at work this autumn. At a meeting with almost 20 colleagues a notoriously choleric team-mate lost his composure and verbally attacked me. He behaved like a stubborn little child, whereas I remained completely calm (which no doubt enraged him all the more). Inwardly, I was boiling as the whole incident was so sudden and unexpected I had not prepared myself for it. People who witnessed the scene were more shocked than I was and some of them congratulated me on keeping my cool afterwards. "I admire you", an elder colleague told. me. "If it had been me, I'd have left and not returned that day." I have to say, I was very proud of myself, knowing that a few years ago, tears would have shot into my eyes and I would have walked out, too.
It's very empowering, not seeing yourself as a victim, but as the person who wrote the script for challenging and bewildering situations you may find yourself in. Here's to an exciting 2019!

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