Monday, July 22, 2019

Memory Lane Without GPS

Last week, in a strange twist of fate I caught up with two people from my past that are somehow connected even though they have never met. I saw one of them in person and exchanged e-mails with the other. The latter was somebody whom I have a very passionate and emotionally-charged history with. He had been more or less "dead" to me for years, then re-emerged about 2 years ago and just as I had learnt to trust him again and contemplate a happy ending, disappeared once more last spring. It came as a blow even though I was determined to behave like a mature grown-up for once and not spiral down the drama route. I managed quite well at the time and happily took advantage of any distractions that offered themselves but it turned out I had kept a lot of emotions bottled up. Recently these all re-emerged. I decided to swallow my pride and reach out, expecting a certain reaction and subsequent course of events. As a former colleague once said: "When women are upset, they want a hug, not arguments." Part of me bristles at such a generalisation and cliché, but, yep, I am SO that woman, every time. Despite heavy hinting that I really wanted the hug, I got all the arguments. Burnt again. Ah, well.
Way happier and just as predictable as I had hoped was my reunion with an old friend of mine whom I had not seen for 11 years. We met in Milan this past weekend and had about 30 hours to catch up and take up where we had last left off. Which we did...seamlessly! About 13 years ago she in fact had been the one who encouraged me to follow my heart and try my luck with the person I was talking about above. Back then, she lived in London and was one of a few people who knew how torn and conflicted I felt. In a nutshell, it was very complicated. I described to her that what I felt had turned "lukewarm" in my long-term relationship felt "hot" and alive with him and I realised I was sick of lukewarm. She encouraged me to take a jump and go for the hot, not knowing that I would end up burning myself not once, but several times. I have nobody else to blame, but myself, but I would have given myself the same advice and would still tell anyone to follow their hearts even though you unfortunately cannot calculate what the other person's heart - assuming they have one - tells them to do.
Every time I am in London I am reminded of the fun and carefree weekends I spent there being hosted by l'Italiana who back then had a fancy career and did cool things, such as take a whole year off to go travelling with her best friend from work. London weekends just aren't the same without her, but we might make weekends in Milan or elsewhere in Italy a new tradition. My friend now lives in the USA, is married with two kids and our lives could not be more different. We still have that same connection we used to have, fortunately, and in our core are still the same people we were when we met on UCD campus in Dublin 26 years ago when I was there on an Erasmus year.

Monday, July 15, 2019


also known as "spilling the tea"

Recently, I had a conversation about different coping mechanisms with stress or rather, about the fact that some people get physically ill when under stress. When I reflected on this loudly and said that I was not really prone to these reactions myself, my friend replied "that's because you just post on Instagram"...which really is a good explanation! Take this blog, for example. Since 2005, back in the heyday of blogging, this has been a good, semi-anonymous (now most of my very few readers actually now me in person) platform for venting, self-pity (yes, we have had plenty of that here) and pep-talks to self. Now, Insta Stories (well, hello, #storytime) has become my favourite outlet. So far, I have never regretted (over)sharing even if it happened without having slept over it before. 
Back in 2015, when I took a 3-months leave from work I began writing a book. I deliberately told lots of people (who mostly have politely refrained from asking about progress a long time ago) I would start writing a book to put some pressure on myself and I actually finished 9 chapters rather quickly. However, I soon realised that unlike my social media posts this actually would have been something with the potential to find very #cringe in the very near future that I would want to disassociate myself from quickly. As I did not want to become known for an #epicfail I just put that project aside and decided to not berate myself about the aborted project. In retrospect, I see it as a therapeutic measure that contributed to gradually getting over very bad company that had emotionally drained me at that time. It now feels like a century ago and I have actually been quite proud of myself for some pretty "adult" behaviour lately. I have also learnt to deal with some things with myself and to quietly high-five myself for them without feeling the urge to communicate it to the world. For the little daily joys and frustrations I'll gladly enjoy my 5 seconds of Insta-"fame". #sorrynotsorry
Unrelated, but even more effective: not using your work phone as your private one as well no matter if your employer sponsors it. Unless you're a heart surgeon or head of state, that is. Since I am neither of these two, switching off my work mobile and stressing in my OOO-reply that I am not available until my return (sounds obvious, but is the exception in my company) is a great stress buster.

Monday, July 08, 2019

School's Out or Second Hand Summer Break

It is no secret that water is my element and I spend a lot of time in pools, lakes, rivers and the sea any chance I get. Swimming and (responsible) sunbathing aside, I really enjoy the communal aspect of it and actually don't mind the noise of squealing children and smell of sun lotion mixed with deep-fried snacks in the least. This soundtrack and scent put me in an instant summer vacation mood. As soon as the school summer holidays begin (=first Monday of July) I am infected by the summer break vibe. Buses have longer intervals but are less crowded in the mornings. There are lots of free parking lots in my neighbourhood. My teacher friends are mostly MIA and it will be a few weeks until they begin pitying themselves that they only have three, two, one week(s) to go before the school year begins again. Yeah, you guessed it, my pity is minimal. I am slightly envious but don't begrudge them their summer break since I enjoy it in a second hand way and Vienna in summer actually makes everyone feel as if they were on vacation a little bit...

Monday, July 01, 2019

Hedonist and Proud of It

Last week there was a terrible explosion in Vienna where a huge hole was torn in a building and some people even lost their lives. After I had read about the incident on my way to work I suddnly remembered that I knew someone who both lived and worked in that very street. I messaged her to ask if she and her husband were alright and she immediately replied that they were, but "isn't it incredible how soon everything can change, which is why we should all live with a carpe diem mindset". My sentiment exactly! 
You really don't know if you will be hit by a truck, be left by your partner, learn that you have a terminal illness or lose your job the next day. Therefore: make sure that today is as pleasant as possible. Treat yourself and your loved ones if you can afford it with time and/or money and enjoy what you have. I really don't believe in depriving myself (and others, for that matter) of things that make me happy.
The older I get, the more this hedonistic attitude is also reinforced by the fact that I don't have anyone to "pass things on to", i.e. there's no point in saving money or things for generations after me. I might as well enjoy life and what the money I earn can afford me while I can. This does not mean that I want to have everything all the time, as I would not be able to appreciate and enjoy it anymore. If every day was a holiday, or even a Saturday, these days would not feel special any more. Just try to enjoy life as best as you can and treasure what you have. Every day. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

An Unexpected Gift or Instant Joy

On our flight back from Chicago ORD on Wednesday night, we were asked upon check-in if we wanted to upgrade to business class for USD 400 per person (instead of 800). Personally, I found it a good deal, but we declined. As we were waiting at the gate, tired of hanging around at the (pretty  boring) airport and ready to board, we were paged and asked to come to the counter. As there had been many announcements before, requesting connecting passengers to proceed to the gate for document check or having their carry-on luggage tagged, I assumed that we also had to show our passports or something so was more than presently surprised when the same lady that had checked our bags waved new boarding passes and said "you have been upgraded to business class". My joy was out of this world. Ten hours of comfort and the possibility to sleep in a proper bed, not mentioning decent food, was a prospect I was extremely thrilled about and my tiredness evaporated immediately. I had flown business class on  long distance flight before (not on Austrian Airlines, though) and remembered what a difference it made. The flight must have been overbooked and so we, having tickets for the premium economy class (not bad, either, actually), had first upgrade priority. I had actually paid a rather hefty sum for this short trip so this was the perfect ending to a lovely mini-vacation. My giddiness and excitement about this unexpected gift lasted for hours and actually made it harder to fall asleep. I wanted to hug the nice check-in lady for making our return flight such a comfortable experience and probably smiled from ear to ear for most of the flight, taking photos of every meal and my legs stretched out, like the tourist I was. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

That Evil Twin of Mine...

When this post goes live I will hopefully have made it to Chicago. Apparently, I am a highly suspicious person, though, as for the second time I had the dubious privilege of an SSSS treatment. If you find these 4 letters on your boarding card for a flight to the U.S. (you know you do when you cannot download your boarding pass nor have it sent to your phone, but need to retrieve your boarding pass at the airport) this is what it entails. The first time (back in 2017 when I was flying to NYC with the Empress) I was selected, I got really nervous and was at the airport SUPER early as advised. I mean way earlier even than my normal notoriously early time. Thankfully, the screening did not really take that long eventually. As I don't think that I am a victim of racial profiling with my EU passport and ethnicity, I can only speculate that a dodgy person bears my name and I don't mean my mum whose first and second name I share. Alternatively, it must have been my business travel history in my last years at the Firm when I repeatedly visited Kazakhstan and Belarus for example. Are these countries suspicious to TSA or what exactly is it that makes me a qualify for the SSSS? I will most likely never find out, but it is definitely a nuisance and cause for speculation to me.

Monday, June 10, 2019


We all know that I love weekend trips and if I could, i.e. had more annual leave from work, would take longer vacations several times a week. I do, however, tend not to go anywhere (apart from Klagenfurt) if it's a long weekend and everybody is flying or driving off. I've decided quite a while ago to leave expensive tickets, crowded airports and traffic jams on the motorways to those who are really desperate or tied to their children's school holidays. As an ex-manager of mine once put it "You and your glamorous single lifestyle". Well, you might sometimes be pitied as an unmarried, childless individual in her forties, but I actually really value the fact that I can prioritise me-time whenever I want to. This long weekend I really wanted to stay in Vienna and enjoy all the city and its surroundings have to offer. As the weather has been glorious the water rat in me got plenty of quality time in lakes and pools. For me, this was way better than jetting off somewhere or driving to my parents' whom I visited last weekend anyway and apart from relaxing I also finally managed to finish some projects I had been procrastinating on forever. The weekend is not over yet, but so far: 10/10!
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