Wednesday, April 30, 2008

MoVie Stars

Last weekend (half of) the Book Club went on a girly weekend in the Mostviertel (get it? MoVie?). This district of Lower Austria is famous for its beautiful landscape, largely dominated by apple and pear trees, hence the name (most = cider). We were lucky enough to be there when the trees were in glorious bloom. To be honest, I'd probably never have discovered that area if it hadn't been for K. whose job required her to do intensive research of the b&bs, sights and culinary attractions of the area last year.

Mostviertel (onemorehandbag)We stayed at a nice b&b specialising in farm holidays. It was spotlessly clean and the loving arrangement of our not really lady-like flannel pyjamas was reminiscent of more exotic places where male "maids" try to wheedle a greater tip out of guests by arranging clothes and towels into swans and the like.

The weekend was quite action-packed and included sight-seeing, shopping (each of us, I hasten to add, not just ME) and hiking. Oh, and a schnaps tasting extravaganza at an award-winning distiller's. The latter lasted from 9 p.m. until well after midnight and, being the designated driver and more than paranoid on account of two occasions of deer running across the road right in front of me already on the way there, a good half-hour drive from our b&b (and twice on the way back, but I didn't know that then, just as well) it was a purely second-hand-experience for me. I just smelled the 32 samples, ranging from more traditional flavours like apricot and apple to rather bizarre ingredients like beetroot or coffee.

On Sunday, we went on a hike not devoid of Camel-Trophy-esque elements. Think: fences of the barbed and electrical variety to climb over or limbo-dance under, cows to circumnavigate, rivulets to wade through. On a bench in front of a little church in the middle of nowhere, I discovered Mrs. K., my elderly neighbour whose flowers I water a good 4 months every year while she spends time at her weekend house not that far from where I bumped into her. It's a small world. She'd been trying to get me to visit her there ever since I took on my flower-watering and post-box-emptying duty and when I introduced my lovely friends from my book club, she must have decided that they didn't look like serial killers and invited the whole lot to her house ("I have 11 spare beds!"). When I told the girls that her cakes were legendary, the deal was sealed...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

You should have seen the other ones...

Ever since she bought a pair for herself and saw me walk like a homo erectus in them for a change (for those who don't know me in person - I'm more your hunchback of Notre Dame type) my Mum had been getting at me to invest in a pair of MBT shoes, even offering to give them to me as a gift. Until recently I'd always thought, "Nah, paying € 200 and more for downright ugly shoes you don't want to be seen dead in is not worth it". On Sunday, on my way back from the MQ where I tried out the free WIFI with my little white darling I walked past a shop with some remotely decent looking MBT shoes on sale. Hmm. Today, I went there in my lunch hour, only to find out that - as usual - size 38 is a size shared by many women indeed and that there were no discounted models left. I didn't really look at the regular ones but, once back at the office, searched for other branches and decided to rush to the only one open until 7 right after work. Woman on a mission. The only discounted range they had there was black and fire-engine-red (shudder) and in spite of the fact that the gentlemen next to me who was waiting for his wife to make up her mind was trying to make me believe that they looked "just like any other trainers" (yeah, right, if you're colour-blind and have had your fashion-sense forcibly removed) I could not envisage myself going further than the rubbish bins in my yard in those monstrosities. As my mission needed to be completed right there and then (what else) I deigned to give the other pairs a look and set my eyes on this one:
will they call me the white Masai? (onemorehandbag) Not that bad, in an American backpacker "doing Europe" in 10 days kind of way, eh? Anyway, I only intend to wear them at home pretty much anyway. In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king, so to speak.
Conscience cleared, Mum made happy...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Recently, in Heaven

In Vienna, there is a place called Heaven. It's pretty heavenly indeed, particularly on a sunny April Sunday.heaven in Vienna (onemorehandbag)dandelions (onemorehandbag)


Monday, April 21, 2008

Ain't no mountain high enough

...for me NOT to stumble over some bargain. Below you see exhibit A, silver-grey down jacket from the North Face, reduced to €50 (originally € 300), waiting patiently for me to rescue it from a rack outside a sports store high up the Ötz Valley. I can see a new trend in the making in my crystal ball - Altitude Shopping!
space suit (onemorehandbag)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Snow White and the 2400 Colleagues

...went to Tyrol earlier this week. I've never skied this late in the year but was very impressed both by the perfect snow -the real thing - and the fact that the slopes I chose were virtually deserted.
winter wonderland in spring (onemorehandbag)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

working on the edge

Working on the 5th floor of an inner city building can be pretty interesting at times. Like, when a huge crane sways past your window, creating the impression of some creature extending its tentacles towards you. That crane, by the way, was dismantled last week and when we walked past the empty concrete platform it had rested on for months yesterday, a colleague wondered aloud how they were going to get it off the pavement. Today we found out the hard way - a pneumatic hammer provided the merciless and somewhat repetitive soundtrack of the day and a good reason to update our iTunes and YouTube playlists.
crane (onemorehandbag) It's the season of spring cleaning and hey, vertigo is, like SO overrated anyway:

working dangerously 1 (onemorehandbag) Why fork out the dough for a gym membership when you can go outdoor climbing on listed architecture, eh?

working dangerously 2 (onemorehandbag)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Scratching that itch or: 7" is all I need

You know the way some guys are convinced they absolutely need an iPhone, the answer to their prayers for all needs internet, navigational and entertainment (oh and I've heard it's a phone, too)? Well, that was me with my quest for a small but inexpensive notebook. Like those iPhone-geeks who probably have 5 fully functioning mobile phones lying around at home it's not that I was desperately under-equipped on the hardware front. I'm writing this from my Sony Vaio which I really like, most of all for its shiny screen that allows you to work in bright sunlight even. This is not the case with my work notebook which I could also use 24/7 if I wanted to. It's an IBM Lenovo that has a really good battery but shitty display and weighs a ton. In my visions of myself daintily typing a novel somewhere other than my flat, like, say a nice café or the MQ, sipping a latte machiato or mojito, big, unwieldy notebooks did not feature. What did you say, have I seen to much Sex and the City? Well, Carry B. did look pretty good with her iBook. Anyway... That the elusive notebook had to be white goes without saying. When a visit to the Apple store in NY confirmed my suspicions that I did not want to a) queue for 3 hours (see iPhone guys above) at the checkout and b) nor did I fancy typing on an English keyboard %&/T&?P*k# the Asus EEE PC which I found out about only recently and got it into my mind last night needed to get today seemed to be just the gadget I'd been wating for.
Look, it's tiny!
So small and a notebook already (onemorehandbag) I'll spare you the details, but I'd almost given up on it. One shop had plenty in stock (the version without webcam anyway) but none on display and the guy there wouldn't let me open the box to check whether the keyboard was big enough for typing compfortably, another store only had one last EEEPC waiting to be picked up by a customer who'd already paid for it but let me try the keyboard without switching the sacred machine on. Hours later, I finally got one, with webcam and all the extras I wanted (there's even a snazzy little neopren case included) - for € 299.
About two hours before that purchase, when I had resigned myself to my fate that I wouldn't get what I wanted - this is me, after all, the world's single most impatiant human being - on top of the prospect of an evening percolating in your usual Saturday-Night-Without-Plans-Depression, made worse by the fact that I went to the hairdresser's first thing in the morning and no one would see me in all my post-hairdresser-glory, I needed a quick fix:

Tommy in white. And yellow and silver...(onemorehandbag) They match the EEEPC, don't they?

The baby should be fully charged and ready to tickle now, will keep you posted on my eeexperience.

Monday, April 07, 2008

good in chair*

Last night, I saw the best film in a long time, Juno. Cool soundtrack (which you will be rewarded with when the site is done loading) which includes Belle & Sebastian, David Bowie and other faves of mine aside, the story about a teenage pregnancy is told so well and differently from what you'd expect that I wanted it to go on for another 2 hours or so. The ending was perfect in a non-predictable, non-Hollywood, way, too. I have a real penchant for teenage films, or rather: films about teenagers, in general, possibly because I'm stuck in that phase emotionally and therefore can relate to it so much. Whatever. Beautiful Thing, for example, really is a beautiful thing. Although Juno is essentially funny and feel-good, it is heart-rendingly sad in a good way at the same time and I came out of the theatre with 2 crumpled-up tissues to dump.
* it loses in translation so I guess you'll just have to see the film.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Anne to the rescue

My own stash of Lindt bunnies ended up in a tray of One-Bowl Blondies, together with dried cranberries...

Saturday, April 05, 2008

period of grace

How can you tell Easter (alternatively insert Nikolo/Krampus, Christmas here) is over? It's the time when reject chocolate paraphernalia start accumulating in your office:
rejects (onemorehandbag)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Almost like in the good (?) old days...

Yeah, an actual "offline" lunch-break purchase...
lunch break purchase (onemorehandbag) And after MANGO, where I hadn't been since - hm, my late twenties? - I hit Laura Ashley's where I bought a (cool, summery interpretation of the classic) white blouse.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The blog, the book, the t-shirt

So I finished Petite Anglaise, the book last weekend. At the book club meeting last Thursday, I was only halfway through and my verdict (some of the girls also follow the blog and were interested in what I thought of the book) was somewhat lukewarm. I found it a bit clichéd and some of the phrases repetitive. I was also a bit annoyed at the many italicised French phrases without translation that I didn't like in the blog, either. Admittedly, you can grasp a great part of it from the context even if you don't speak the language, but it annoyed me still. The biggest disappointment for me personally was the lack of any background info about how Petite/Catherine lost her job, or rather about how her boss found out, who tipped him off. I do realise and fully understand that it was probably for legal reasons that this kind of information was missing, but nonetheless I was curious to find out more, not least because I, too, had been blogging from work in my Coma HQ days pretty much on a daily basis and wanted to know more about the occupational hazards of bored office bloggers.
Now that I have finished the book I have to say that my overall verdict is positive and that I did cry when reading the last chapters, though whether this is due to the literary value of the book, or to the fact that I once more marvelled at how the author's experiences mirror mine (minus the happy ending) is not too difficult a guess.

Petite Anglaise was one of the first blogs I discovered and started reading on a regular basis. If I remember correctly, I found it on the blogroll of The Glory of Carniola when that particular blog was still very much alive and kicking. At the beginning, I preferred expats' blogs, in fact I still think that they are the most interesting sub-genre. If you have to find your niche and USP, making observations from an outsider's point of view is as entertaining as it is - potentially- controversial and conducive to heated discussions in the comments box.
At first, I was just drawn to well-written snippets of this young woman's life in a cool city. We're more or less the same age and back then both were in a long-term relationship with a man of a different nationality and cultural background than our own. I could also very much relate to wanting to immerse yourself completely in another culture and language.
Gradually, between the lines, it began to transpire that Petite's relationship with Mr. Frog wasn't without it's cracks. Interesting. All of a sudden - the bomb! She had split up from the father of her child, little later revealing that she had found Mr. Lover through her blog. This blog had long since become my little soap opera (a phenomenon described really well in the book, too) and when I read about the break-up, I immediately called FCN who had become as addicted to her daily installments of Petite Anglaise as I had.
Around that time, I had developed a sudden, entirely one-sided and unrequited crush on a colleague in another country whom I had recently (re-)met on a business trip and immediately put on a pedestal, being very impressed by his language skills, wit and versatile talents. In hindsight, my rather indiscrimiate infatuation (which is not to say that the guy isn't a worthy object of affection) more or less by virtue of being the complete antidote to my then partner, TD, should have been a sign and I should have known much, much better than to hurt TD in very mean and unsubtle ways and nip what could have become a great friendship with the Crush in the bud, by ambushing him with a stream of carefully crafted e-mails, reading secret signs into his rather neutral ones. I cringe in retrospect.
Back then, I was fascinated to read Petite's "real-life" adventures of how her life had changed, showing me that mine could, too. Nothing changed, although in my confused state which lasted well into the summer, I ruined a lot.
By the time Petite had been dumped by Lover, I had developed an infatuation much worse (to call it a Crush wouldn't do it justice) and this time it seemed more than reciprocated. While Petite was smarting from sudden rejection, I was basking in what I took for unadulterated love and affection from a man who seemed on the verge to turn his life over completely for me. Me! My life promised to turn from lukewarm to hot if I only wanted it to. I did and I couldn't believe my luck. In the end, it was me who did the turning over. And me only.
The aftermath of my separation was a nightmare and the mother of all guilt-trips. I turned to Petite Anglaise for inspiration on how to get a grip on your life again, post dumping. She seemed so much more successful than me, a real model. Ready to move on, pragmatic and grown-up, where I was just a self-pitying mess, mistakenly believing that you can convince somebody of your merits by means of persistant negotiation and seduction. Not so.
Unlike Petite, I didn't get fired, but quit my job and found a new one, the regulars of my blog are in the two-digit range compared to the thousands who read hers every day, the book I dream of writing one day has yet to materialise, I am not a mother, nor do I have a wedding to look forward to and yet, I like following her life, or rather her life as she choses to present it to her readers. After all, we don't want the heroines of our favourite novels or soaps to be like us, we prefer them to be larger than life.
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