Christmas – AGAIN?

IMG_2003It’s the end of September and high time to share my thoughts concerning Christmas with you! Basically, I only need four words to describe them! Wanna guess? No? Well, here they are: I don’t like Christmas! Shocked? Or are you thinking now: Thank you, dear M, I feel the same but would never dare to speak it out loud!

For those who are shocked, stop reading! Right now! For all the others … the long version: I REALLY don’t like Christmas! If you start seeing gingerbread cookies and Christmas decorations in every single store at the beginning of September you know Christmas is not far away. (Yeah, right, only four months to go! It’s absolutely impossible to get your Christmas shopping done in a mere four months! You might even consider driving to the next forest to secretly hack down a fir in case you fear you won’t get the perfect tree in time! It’s illegal to do so, of course! But, what’s a short stay in jail, at least you’ve got your perfect Christmas tree in September!)

Anyway, although I do like to eat gingerbread cookies, I always feel embarrassed buying them in the middle of summer. Which is why I have a very clever method. First, I circle the Christmassy looking gingerbread packages for a few times, deciding silently which cookies I want. After quick glances left and right to make sure the coast is clear, I snag my package and race to the cashier’s, dodging as many other customers as possible, hiding my cookies as best as I can. Quite ingenious, huh? I’ve become a real pro over the years …

But, back to the real reasons I’m not the world’s biggest Christmas fan anymore.

Number 1: we’ve already established that!

Number 2: the music, everywhere you go those dreadful Christmas songs. Wham’s “Last Christmas” is one of them … and whenever “Silent night” is playing I start crying. Cause it reminds me of Christmas with my parents and relatives, most of them dead now. It was a family tradition to cry to “Silent night” when we heard it the first time on Christmas Eve.

Number 3: the decoration – blinking lights everywhere, kitschy glittery reindeers, Santa Clauses, … do I have to say more?

Number 4: the shopping! Don’t get me wrong! I love to shop! But it’s no fun if A) you don’t know what to buy for your friends / relatives / your boyfriend / your boyfriend’s relatives and everyone else you can think of; B) you have to use your elbows to at least grab a pair of cheap panty hose and C) the shop assistants are so stressed and harassed that they start shouting at you just in case, even though you don’t even need their assistance.

Number 5: the holidays themselves! In my case it’s because they just make me sad, dreading the actual Christmas Eve, being alone, having to remember what it used to be like with my family. The hugging, the laughing, the crying … In your case it might be too much family, too many obligations. Instead of having a couple of peaceful days just to yourself, relax with your partner from stressful working weeks you have to endure your relatives who NEVER EVER leave or rush from one relative to another, trying to squeeze in everyone so to not disappoint anyone.

Whatever your reasons are … try to find a way to spend Christmas the way YOU like it, the way it makes you happy! Maybe one day I will like Christmas again too!


How not to be the perfect housewife

IMG_1456DO buy TV dinners – they can be healthy too – or (even better) engage a cook! That way your kids will harass HER (or HIM) when they don’t like their pizza / spaghetti / burger / whatever exists that doesn’t contain vegetables! And you are the good mother again!

DO NOT cook! Ever, ever, ever! Your husband will demand home cooked meals every day and the kids will NEVER be satisfied with anything you’ve prepared in long sweating and annoying hours in the kitchen! Which will then get eaten in a mere ten seconds, wolfed down by your hungry brood.

DO make a mess! Your family will appreciate it even more then when you finally decide to put the dirty plates into the dishwasher at least once a week. Or will learn to do it themselves because they can’t take it anymore …

DO NOT tidy up! Let your kids do it! What else are they here for? It’s never too early to teach them that housework is fun (yeah, right)! They’ll love to tidy up while you just pretend to and have lots of time on your hands to do what YOU want.

DO buy paper plates! Use them and throw them away! Don’t worry about the environment, you only need to cut down a few acres of the rain forest for your paper plates!

DO NOT wash the dishes!

  1. It’s a waste of water.
  2. It’s a waste of energy.
  3. It’s a waste of detergent.
  4. China plates are dangerous! Just imagine you break them, you cut yourself so deeply picking the pieces up you have to get it stitched at the emergency room. The pain and suffering is nothing compared to the pain you will feel when you receive the medical bill for your treatment! So better get real dishes out of your mind! Quickly!

DO buy a huge throw that covers everything! Or get a loft bed! No one can see what’s up there and you’ll never have to make the bed again!

DO NOT make the bed! What’s the purpose? You’ll get in at night again anyway! Crumpled sheets feel so much cosier!

DO buy plastic flowers! For inside and outside the house! Or do you want to water your flowers every day? Week? Month? By using fake plants and flowers you save lots of time!

DO NOT decorate! Forget candles, family pictures, bowls of potpourri, travel souvenirs … sleek and impersonal is so IN right now! Decoration is totally overrated! And no annoying dedusting of all those trinkets …

I miss you, Dad


It’s been eight years! Eight years without you! And I miss you every single day! I remember sitting next to you at the hospital bed, with you having been put into deep sleep to make it easier for you to go … and as usual I was writing, while Mum was dozing in the other bed. It’s as if it was yesterday …

I’m sitting here, watching you sleep, watching every move, as your chest rises and falls, touching your cool skin, listening to every sound you make. And thinking! Thinking about all the little things I will miss so much about you. Your smile, your jokes, even your stubbornness. What will I do without you? Who will give me advice? Who will open surprise eggs with me? Curious about the contents? Happy as a child about something to put together? The evenings watching TV. Documentation? Of course! Me – sometimes a little bored – you zapping from Phoenix to wherever something interesting might be. And me, sitting in front of your comfy couch, playing one of your hidden secrets games on the notebook you so loved these past months, resting from the exhausting chemo therapies. And I never failed to show up without another PC game for you on my visits from Styria, mostly secretly, I think. Mum doesn’t even know how many games you possess. But they were so much fun, weren’t they?

Now I’m here, in Villach, it’s September 15th – already -, 1:05 am and we’ve been here for 5.5 hours. Mum, my sister, her husband and I. Watching you, we don’t want to leave you alone for a minute. Scared you might have to go through your probably last hours alone. We want you to glide over in your sleep. No more suffering, you don’t deserve to suffer. You’ve suffered enough. As hard as it is for us, we love you and only want the best for you.

Your skin is as soft as a child’s and I wish I could just take you into my arms, hold you tight and never let go. But I have to let you go. I just have to. I’m so tired and I wonder … what are you dreaming? Are you dreaming? I’m holding your hand, caressing it in the hope you can feel me near you. I’m watching over you. Mum is dozing in the 2nd hospital bed, my sister and her husband in their chairs. And I’m awake. My eyes are bloodshot and I try not to cry. Even though sometimes I can’t hold back the tears. You look so frail as the cancer is eating up your body. Wherever you go, Dad, we’ll meet again! That’s what you always said, one day we all will see each other again!

You died peacefully two days later, shortly before we arrived. You loved us so much you wanted to spare us even that. You knew from the beginning when you got the diagnosis that you probably had not more than two years. You never told us. You were still always smiling, and so patient and content with everything, never complaining during your difficult chemo treatments. You worried more about Mum and her cancer than about yourself.

There are so many things I wanted to tell you and couldn’t. Even though we talked so much, about everything! You have no idea how much I miss your advice. All the time. In all aspects of my life. Which has turned out so differently than I had anticipated or wished. All you ever wanted for me was to be happy. And I’m trying. I’m really trying. But it’s so difficult right now, I feel so incredibly lonely with everyone gone who was close to me. I will have to see whether I too will be lucky enough to one day find the one, my one and only, the way you and Mum felt for each other. There is someone who might be it … but I will have to see where it leads us. Mum held out until the end, Dad! And then I had to let her go as well, she was so brave and in so much pain all the time. It was her decision to not continue with her treatments. Her strength was just depleted.

One of the things I regret incredibly is not having had the chance to be alone with for you for a few minutes to tell you thanks. Thanks for always having my back, always supporting me, giving me a wonderful childhood, youth and adulthood, allowing me to be a kid again when I was back home, joking around, even at 30, making knots into your PJs was a daily ritual … and never got old. But I couldn’t tell you all that with Mum and my sister around. So I’m telling you now! Thanks for everything! Love you, Dad!

Weird? Really?

Lunch time is the most important part of our working days. And whoever wants to contradict me, don’t even try, you know I’m right. Sometimes I take lunch from home to eat at the office, sometimes I join my colleague(s) at our usual haunts: an Italian pizza delivery restaurant without a single Italian in sight, a mostly empty Vietnamese/Thai place (I wonder why), a Chinese one, a greasy Greek snack bar, Burger King and McDonald’s. (I know, terrific selection! If you’re Vegetarian, you’ve basically already lost … good thing I’m not!) The choice for our two American fast food joints mostly comes from me in case of a bad need for comfort food or – which is another weird thing but not for me – if there are new burgers around. And since they will only be available for a few weeks, guess who needs to be there first to try them. Yep, ME, ME, ME! Convincing my fellow lunchers with girlishly fluttering eyelashes that we just NEED to go there.

My colleagues as well as our regular lunch places already know that A) I want my apple juice served with plain water (with just one fourth of juice topped with the plain water), not sparkling, B) I prefer my French fries without salt, C) I always have special requests in general. Which would fill a whole post itself and I don’t want to annoy and bore you with them now before you’re even coming to the good stuff. But lunch with me is not the only thing they think is weird about me.

  • My morning hot beverage: which is either Ovaltine (or Horlicks Malt Drink) or plain hot chocolate (with less plain Vanilla coffee creamer). For my beloved colleagues it’s an absolutely unthinkable concept to order Ovaltine from Britain. After all, one can get Ovaltine here as well (so the misconception). Nope, you can’t. Because you can’t get Ovaltine with just water to be added here. So, what am I supposed to do? Plain hot chocolate is just my emergency supply and doesn’t come near to any malt drink.
  • My British car: Yep, you already know that! And of course my guys consider this another weird thing about me. How incredibly crazy to NOT buy a German car in Germany. Before that? I was driving a French one. And that was even worse. But guess what? I’m a rebel … and will keep buying non-German cars. They would never admit, though, that it IS the coolest car around. (They want ME to drive all the time … so that should tell you something …)
  • My Austrian food supply: as you already know, I can’t live without my Austrian ketchup. Neither can’t I live without my Austrian mustard, mayonnaise, bread, bacon, cheese, pumpkin seed oil, dumpling mix, special sweets, tea bags, and much more. Because … you can’t get food in Germany.
  • My lists: for absolutely everything! To Do lists are only the tip of the iceberg. I have a shoe list, expense lists, car fuel list, bucket list, go on vacation list … and a lunch list. Usually my best lunch buddy and I switch times paying. Sometimes we don’t go out for lunch for days … and guess who then knows who had paid last? Yes, ME. Cause HE doesn’t remember! I rest my case!
  • My shoes: I wouldn’t call 87 pairs of shoes weird, do you? No wonder I need a list to keep track of them all … as a woman I still have to face the shoe tragedy from time to time: that I don’t have a single pair in my meagre selection that goes with this one specific outfit. Men will never understand that one can never have enough shoes!
  • My vacations: contrary to the German’s favourite holiday destination – Spain – I try to avoid it at all costs. Because, once again, I don’t want to do what everyone else does. Oh no, I’m crazy enough to undertake a transatlantic crossing on a luxury liner on my own, fly to Leeds to take part in a murder mystery weekend – being the only non-British person there -, undertake regular London shopping trips (what else), … and you don’t even want to know what’s on my schedule for future trips. Nope, won’t tell you now! Where would be the suspense then?

Well, speaking of the tip of an iceberg … I guess this is merely the beginning of what they think is really weird about me. I don’t think, I’m weird. Just different. Maybe.


From one coffee to another

I don’t like coffee! Basically! Although I’m coming from a country where drinking coffee is a life art. Vienna’s coffee houses are legendary, not only for their unique 19th century atmosphere with grumpy waiters, still frequented by journalists and writers to exchange their philosophy of life, but also for their different kinds of coffee. I’m not talking Starbucks kinds of coffee. I’m talking about Verlängerter, Milchkaffee, Melange, Kleiner Brauner, Großer Brauner, Einspänner, Häferlkaffee … coffee breaks with a piece of Danish or cake, Sacher Torte, Esterhazy Schnitte, Kardinalschnitte, brioche or “Kipferl” are cherished and if you don’t have anything better to do you meet at a coffee house! Me? I must be the only Austrian who – if not drinking Earl Grey British style – prefers American coffee! I love American coffee! Weak coffee where one drop of milk lightens up the dark brown liquid. A laughing matter for real coffee lovers who merely talk about “dishwashing water” coffee where you can see the bottom of the cup.

Even though coffee is not my No 1 favourite hot beverage I do like the smell of it! I could sit at a coffee house or coffee shop for hours, enjoying the smell of freshly ground and brewed coffee. But getting a nose full of coffee is not the only reason I like to lounge around other coffee lovers. The background noise of slurping and chatting is kind of relaxing. And even though some of my best friends tend to laugh about it, I’m lost without a scrap of paper and pen, my iPad or Macbook. It’s like an addiction. Let me free in a coffee shop and I just have to start writing. Something! Anything! It inspires me and I can’t be talked to until I’ve satisfied my writing needs and filled at least ten pages and used up my ballpoint or my electronics run out of juice.

My absolute favourite coffee is Latte Macchiato. Any kind will do, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, gingerbread, … or simply with a spoon of honey. Ohhh, I’m getting all twitchy! I think I need one right now! Have to go …