Monday, July 26, 2021

Quiet

 

The company I work for has a lot of parents with school children among its workforce and you can always really tell when it's school holidays season. It's a sweet (if rather unproductive) time when you can get admin done and enjoy shorter work days. Before I met Highflyer and came to enjoy skiing in Tyrol between New Year's Even and January 6th, I was reluctant to "waste" any of those precious days of annual leave right after the Christmas break as it tended to be extremely empty and quiet in the office. You know, back when people worked from their office, mainly. It's also similar in July and August when few meetings take place and everyone agrees to reconvene "after the holidays". I used to always be the odd one out when taking a longer break in September or November and almost felt apologetic when it seemed that I was the only obstacle to finding a date for a team event in autumn "when everyone is back". In recent years I also switched to taking a two-weeks-break in August so I am right on trend and can still enjoy some quiet work weeks. On a side note, unless the pandemic will magically be over next year I might reconsider and take time off in June to July rather than August because for the second year in a row this seems to be the golden time when numbers are promising and borders open.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Carping that diem...

Last year, even though many people experienced many individual crises, it was all overshadowed by The Pandemic and it often felt a bit "off" to complain about anything else. This year, the old 'Rona Show" is still on and that Groundhog Day Feeling (lockdown, slight optimism over declining numbers of infected people, lockdown: repeat) unfortunately has not quite become a thing of the past.
In the meantime, though, it seems accepted to be concerned about things that may also be entirely unrelated to Covid and I know several stories of serious health concerns (physical or psychological) and fallouts with close friends or family members. It's okay to not be okay and yet another reminder that you should not wait and keep things for tomorrow, be it that holiday or activity you have both time and resources to undertake right away, or that potentially unpleasant conversation with somebody dear to you. Go for it!


 

Monday, July 12, 2021

Kiss? Hug? Fist Bump?


This past weekend I was at my first big gathering this year. It was a special birthday and like the Empress's birthday bash last July was also garden-party style. The only difference was that most of the attendees were (fully) vaccinated so there was an air of relief and readiness to party in the air and greetings were much warmer than last summer. Even so, it was still a little awkward and overwhelming. Highflyer and I made rules in the car: we wouldn't proactively initiate any cheek-kissing or hugging, but not refuse any if the other person signalled they were in kissy-kissy mode. In the end, it was a mix of kisses, waves, bows and fist bumps all around.We knew that we'd kiss the birthday girl anyway and obviously she'd be the one person whose cheeks would have been potentially "contaminated" by the majority of attendees at the end of the evening. Weird times. My (fullly vaccinated) parents obviously still have "pandemic mode" programmed and wanted to greet us with a formal distance but I decided we're okay to hug and kiss again. 
Somehow, it has all been so fast from not seeing anyone other than the person you live with in person to spending a day at the decently populated office where masks are no longer mandatory and nobody actively checks proof of test or vaccination and going for lunch in the canteen where you can grab your own cutlery and water glass again and help yourself to salad from the salad bar. 
Sometimes I feel like we're all part of a social experiment and have now reached the stage of "whatever". Now that I have finally received my second vaccination dose, kisses are welcome even though I have to admit that part of me quite liked the much shorter welcomes and goodbyes.

Monday, July 05, 2021

Zero Plans

Just like last year, we were urged to "log in" all of our annual leave as soon as possible (we can always reschedule) and I will be taking off the first half of August. So far, so ordinary. Unlike previous years when I would spend half of the time in Nice and the other in Klagenfurt at my parents', I have no concrete plans regarding travels abroad yet and know already that I won't join Mademoiselle in Nice this year as the availability of our usual place falls right in the middle of my time off and is thus not convenient for me. Unlike many of my friends who were itching to book trips abroad once lockdown was over and travel restrictions were lifted, I was not that bothered and thought I would decide spontaneously. Truth be told, I am starting to miss a bit of good old Vitamin Sea and much as I like Carinthia and Vienna and its surroundings, just spending the summer in Austria is a bit...meh. First world problems, obviously, but my frequent-travelling old self is starting to  emerge and when I get woken up by Highflyer getting ready for a (super-early) check in to fly passengers to a popular holiday destination I am a little envious. Not of having to set my alarm to some horrible time, but of getting to see some coastline from up above. Well, we shall see. First: counting the days until my second vaccination next Sunday!
 

Monday, June 28, 2021

Normality

 

Last weekend I stayed at a hotel for the first time in about 1.5 years. This may not sound like a remarkable fact for a lot of people even if there were no Pandemic, but for me, who used to travel a lot it definitely is. We spent the weekend at a hotel by Lake Neusiedl, redeeming a voucher we had got as a Christmas gift from my parents. 
Masks aside, you could almost forget this was still not quite the "old normal" and even if it was barely an exotic location by any means, it felt quite extravagant and also a little bizarre to be sitting among so many strangers (with a safe distance) and being able to stroll around on a sightseeing mission. 
Unlike many of my friends, I am still not that keen on travelling abroad when this is still dominated by tests, forms and uncertainty if rules and regulations may change while I am there, but I am definitely looking forward to the day when the new variants won't be anything for news headlines any longer.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Water Babes

 

The older you get and the more you have compromised in your life (even if you only realise it in retrospect) the more you realise that it's often the little things that make you compatible with someone for the long haul. I have mentioned that according to several "personality tests" Highflyer and I could not be more different from each other, but theory apart, we get on so well and have still not had a single argument or situation where one of us was offended or sulking. One of the things I love about him in particular is that we can spend action-packed days (e.g. on the slopes, skiing) just as well as uneventful quiet days with him doing some thing or other in the garden (such as obsessing about the grass) and me pottering about in the kitchen or my "crafts room", or, case in point, also spending a whole day by the lake or pool. I have only once in my life (on vacation in France when I was very young) seen my father in swim trunks and not once has he accompanied my mother and me to the lake. I also have a "pool friend" in Vienna who has been in a happy relationship with a nice guy for decades and yet he has absolutely no interest in swimming and sunbathing. The fact that Highflyer (who by the way is a remarkable diver and morphs into a fish once he is in some body of water) is more than happy to come swimming with me is just the icing on an already perfect cake. We obviosuy have almost identical happy memories of spending childhood summer days by the pool/lake/sea and the joy of getting an occasional soft serve ice-cream or some fries and this makes me very happy.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Back to School

This week, I'll be back at the office for the first time this year. It's for the first module of a training I'm attending and we'll all be masked and tested. Having had my first Covid vaccine a little more than 2 weeks ago I also feel a bit safer. Other than my own planned two-day interlude at the old treadmill, people are all talking about when and how often they are going back to their respective offices. Some companies have decided to just press the "factory reset" button and pretend this pandemic never happened, others allow their employees to choose whatever they want, location-wise and my own employer is somewhere in between those two extremes. We will be able to choose one of three models on the condition that our job description allows it and I will opt for a mix of actual office and home office, planning to sleep in my apartment in Vienna on those days when I go to the brick-and-mortar office and in Highflyer's house when I work from (his) home. Definitely not complaining about having this choice of real estate that allows both for an easy commute on public transport and a tranquil home office setting with a garden.It seems this New Normal we've been talking about for months is now finally on the horizon.

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