MY COVID EXPERIENCE

Yep, after two and a half years Covid has finally caught up with me too. I guess I’m quite proud of having held out for so long.

It started at night, being woken by my hungry cat, when I realized I had a sore throat and some ear ache. Thinking, I caught a cold by the draft wafting through my apartment during those cool nights. It took me ages to fall asleep again and then had to get up at 5:30 to start home office at 6:00 am. Fighting my way through the day with one MS Teams call after another, barely having time to catch my breath and getting at least some productive work done apart from the early morning hours. My throat was still sore, coughing had started and I was still thinking I had just caught a cold … because, it’s not as if I had been meeting tons of people. 

It hit me for real in the late afternoon with a bad headache, feeling cold all over and deciding to go to bed at 5 p.m. with a hot cup of honey milk. Well, my old trusted and old-fashioned mercury thermometer showed me 38,2 °C. And the quick self-test I had at home clearly proved two distinct lines. Yep, Covidpositive. On a Friday evening. Fricking marvellous. Not much to do apart from taking an Ibuprofen and getting a good rest. (My medicine chest is sorely lacking medications. All I got is Ibu, Aspirin, pain relief cream and band aids.)

Day 2: I woke up feeling better, at least headache and fever were gone. But sore throat, coughing and clogged up nose had become worse. So, I took it easy, spending the day lounging around, reading, sleeping and soaking up some sun on the balcony. With raised temperature again in the evening. Yippie.

Day 3: Sore throat, coughing and snivelling. Not the best of nights, constantly waking up due to the painand not being able to fall asleep forever, drugging myself with Ibuprofen once again.

Day 4: Very bad night with sore throat and ear ache plus coughing fits. I did some work in the morning and then headed to my doc’s appointment at noon. Having my first PCR test ever – what an ugly experience, one fears the fricking Q tip is being pushed up to your brain – and apart from sick leave for the rest of the week I thankfully received some meds to ease the pain.

Day 5: Slowly getting better. But still suffering from sore throat and ear ache. Drowing myself in honey milk and sucking on throat drops.

Day 6: A little better again, cough attacks less painful but more often. Nose less runny.

Day 7: Same

Day 8: Same

Day 9: Still some coughing, still some snivelling, being less tired. Feeling nearly as good as new.

Day 10: Yippie, quarantine – or self-isolation – is finally over, my self-test is negative and I can’t wait to get out and about again to get some much-needed groceries. (Darn, have to get through another day because it’s SUNDAY and everything is closed!) Mylong-life milk supply has dwindled down to the last litre due to my honey-milk self-medication and the fridge is nearly empty. (Oh well, it is most of the time anyway!)

Well, all in all, this has been not much different than one of my 3-day-colds. Just with the symptoms taking a few days longer to go away. Is it because of the vaccinations? Or because the variants are less aggressive and severe than the first ones? I don’t care. I’m just happy it didn’t totally knock me down…

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A TRIBUTE TO ROMY SCHNEIDER AND EMPRESS ELISABETH

I was a young girl when it all started. My lifelong obsession and interest in “Sisi”, the monarchy, the past. And it all started with the world famous “Sissi” trilogy movies from the 50s. So romantic … and such wonderful clothes. I always wished to possess a crinoline gown – which I was allowed to at least realize with my debutante gown, using a crinoline with a diameter of 1 m. I felt like a real princess that night, dancing through the night … and as a kid? I made my own crinoline gown, using a peasant skirt from my sister, a hula hoop and two long strings to hold it up like suspenders … quite ingenious, right?

Through Romy Schneider’s portrayal of Empress Elisabeth of Austria I wanted to know everything about her. And thanks to my parents, who were interested in everything as well, I got the chance to visit the Castle Schönbrunn in Vienna, the Hofburg, the Hermes Villa, the Kaiservilla in Bad Ischl, the Kapuzinergruft. The admiration and awe I felt walking along the long corridors of those places, being in their living quarters, thinking about the Emperor and Empress who had walked exactly where I was walking then … just incredible. My Sisi novels were my greatest treasure – and I wish I still had them. But instead I replaced them with historic accounts of the Empress. First of all, the famous one written by historian Elisabeth Hamann. Followed by others more recently and having discovered to be distantly related to the actress and friend of the monarchs, Katharina Schratt, I devoured everything about her as well.

Apart from the Empress, Romy Schneider was my big hero and I collected everything about her … she too died way too early in 1982 (I was a young girl then and cut out every article I could find, pasting the pages into my Romy Schneider fan book, which I still have.) I know she tried to escape the Sissi image all her life, moving to France to become a character actor. But still, she could never quite shake it. And whenever one of her movies were on Austrian TV (The swimming pool, Katja, The girl and the inspector, Christine, The walker from Sans-Souci, What’s new pussy cat, Monpti, Scampolo and many more) I just had to watch it. I remember one occasion as if it were yesterday, my grandmother was visiting us from Styria and I had so been looking forward to my Romy Schneider movie “The girl and the inspector” but I wasn’t allowed to watch. Because my grandmother and mother wanted to watch a crappy folksy music show … I was so mad. (In those days, of course we only had one TV and a VCR was still in the future! Boy, am I old!!!)

Empress Elisabeth and Romy Schneider, two tragic lives. Both lost their sons, both felt the need to get away from restraints put on them. Elisabeth from the strict Viennese court, Romy from the Sissi image.Both in the throes of melancholy and depression. The one dealing with it by travelling and writing poems, the other one dulling the pain with medications. Two women, two fates. So different and still so similar. I tribute both of them!

9 GERMAN YEARS

Can you believe it? I hardly can. I can hardly believe I’ve been living here for 9 years. Celebrating my 9-year-anniversary this week. Thinking back to the past nine years … so much happened (of course, it did!) First the exciting time of getting into my new job, looking for an apartment, the move from Austria to Germany, furnishing my apartment, travels to England, New York, Borkum, Berlin, Zandvoort, Amsterdam, … the Rangey car issue, the partnership search, my depression, moving in with someone, moving out again, the third apartment and my cat, Covid, home office and a new working life altogether.

9 years in Germany. Sometimes it seems like yesterday when I had my job interview here in Germany and continued my way to Bregenz to visit a friend, where I received the news that I got the job. Deliriously happy, what an excitement, having to plan everything … 9 years ago. 9 years to get used to the German way of … well, everything. Even though we share the same language – kind of – the Germans are different. And it’s starting to get to me, the differences. Missing my home country more and more every day, so many things I miss. Not even the groceries I lug back from Austria can compensate that.

What do I like about Germany? Apart from my special friend, my job and colleagues? My apartment? A handful of people? I really have to think very hard about this question when it comes to everyday life.

1.) First and foremost: No speed control on some of the highways. I really love that. And Rangey loves it too. To go 160 km/h or more when it’s possible, getting across Germany a little more quickly, especially when I’m on a long-distance drive to Austria … Distances are quite different here to those in Austria. I wouldn’t even think of driving an hour or two somewhere here in Germany for a one-day trip. In Austria? A trip to Vienna (merely a drive of about 1.5 hours from Styria) would mean a weekend away. The endless construction sites on the highways though, where you can barely see anyone working, with constant traffic jams, are an endless annoyance.

2.) Cheaper groceries: as awful as this sounds … trying to save my money for books, vacations, retirement and my future move back to Austria … I treasure the luxury of more affordable groceries. Due to my freezer and home cooking, I can live on 5-10€ a week, if I want to. Even though prices have increased here too due to Covid and especially the Ukraine war. But they are still less than in Austria.

3.) The closeness to England: yep, that’s right. My car and I love England and the short distance to either drive or fly there, is a definite advantage. In hindsight, I wish I had gone there more often. But – missing out on the two years of Covid – one can only go on vacation that often. And I did manage to go to England a few times together with the US and Austria, of course. (Plus seeing more of Germany, which is not so bad either!)

4.) Believe it or not: my female gynaecologist. They are much rarer in Austria and I don’t believe there is one in my “home of my heart” town with a common practice. So, yeah, I would miss this luxury of being examined by a woman.

5.) My favourite drug store “Rossmann”. I just love the products and once again the affordable Rossmann brands. My cat would be very disappointed if I didn’t feed him his “Winston” cat treats anymore. But he will adapt and will have to live with other brands. Or live on cooked chicken and tuna (at least that’s what he would prefer anyway).

6.) The crazy one day trips with my special friend (and my special friend). No more Hard Rock / Heavy Metal / Gothic concerts or soccer games … which I only went to in order to spend time together because, well, otherwise it’s a bit difficult.

7.) Basically, the still cheaper way of living. From insurances to fixed costs, books and groceries, appliances and beauty treatments. That’s what I will really miss. Cause this will mean that there will be less money to put away – and for vacations. 

8.) The “Ostsee” Baltic sea islands. I really enjoyed going to my little retreat Borkum. And yes, I should have visited the other islands and the North sea as well. If only … On the other hand, going to Italy for a long weekend won’t be so bad either. The food definitely will be better! And the sea warmer …

9.) Hmmm … well …

10.) Nope, can’t think of anything else on top of my head right now.

9 years. 9 German years. And the hope of returning home in my 10th …

FAVOURITE MOVIE SERIES EVER

I had to start another post, it wouldn’t have been fair not to separate movie series from single great movies. So, there they are, my favourite movie series ever!

1.) The Sissi trilogy: From Ernst Marischka, with Romy Schneider and Karl-Heinz Böhm. From the 50s. Oh my! You could say, they were my first favourite movies and still are! Whenever they were announced on Austrian TV I had to watch them, no questions asked. My poor parents just had to deal with it! (Since in those times we only had one TV set!) Even though it’s considered quite kitschy, I recently read a bookabout “truth and fiction” regarding the Austrian Empress Elisabeth. Also, discussing the historical truth about the movies having been made about her. And surprisingly, the so-called kitsch trilogy cut it much better than other pictures being made. 

2.) Die hard: all of them! Well, at least the first three movies! They definitely are my favourites, ranging with part 2 as on top of my list, followed by part 1, finishing off with part 3. I saw them both in English and in German … and let me tell you, for once I enjoy the German synchronisation more. Bruce Willis’ German voice is just incredible. Rough, tough, manly. (By the way, the RED movies with Bruce, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich etc are definitely in the same masterpiece range as the Die hard movies!)

3.) Harry Potter: the whole series! Yeah, I have to admit it! I’m a fan! It took me some time, though! First, I was just smiling condescendingly when someone told me about the books. Not being a fan of fantasy fiction in the manner of Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”, I couldn’t imagine books about wizards and magic would be as great as some people told me. Well, I decided to at least read the first book to be able to contribute my own opinion … sadly, I got hooked from the very first page and just like everyone else I couldn’t wait for the next ones to be published. Same with the movies, which didn’t disappoint at all – as often is the case with book adaptions to movies. 

4.) James Bond: scratch the Daniel Craig ones. But up till then … can watch them again and again and again … they just never get old. (As I have already mentioned once or twice in my blog.)

5.) Iron man: who could be more perfect than Robert Downey Jr. for this role? Fast paced, funny, thrilling, awesome engineering … just one of the greatest superheroes around! Wish there had been many, many more adventures …

6.) Carry on: getting introduced to the British movies (in German, of course) at a very young age as weekend afternoon entertainment, when they were broadcast on Austrian TV, I enjoyed them very much even then. And no enjoy them even more in their original form, as in English. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant!

7.) Meet the parents: Ben Stiller, Robert de Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, BlytheDanner … what a cast! Robert de Niro, the retired CIA agent, who hates Greg Focker’s guts. Any description would be futile, you have to see it to appreciate it and laughing your heart out.

8.) Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Miss Marple: But, only portrayed by marvellous Sir Peter Ustinov and Dame Margaret Rutherford (I’m a bit prejudiced by that). Having read most of Dame Agatha’s books, the movies are marvels.

9.) Indiana Jones: there is no cooler archaeologist than Harrison Ford, is there? My absolute favourite? The third one “Indiana Jones and the last crusade”, with awesome Sean Connery as Indie’s father … and the evil Nazis. I can’t even count the times I have seen it. Lots of excitement, lots of humour, great stories.

10.) Matrix: Are you as looking forward to part IV as I am? The ending was not exactly to my liking … I never like heroes dying. But, there never really dies anything in the Matrix, does it? Keanu Reeves, who I also admired as John Wick, was just perfect for the role as Neo. Let’s just face it, there are no bad movies with Keanu Reeves. And I’ve seen his very, very early teen ones as well.

Of course, there are many other good movie series … Star Trek, the Marvel universe, even Star Wars (however, I only like the original movies). And others less good (like Mission: Impossible, but I’m anything but objective since I just don’t like Scientology and couch jumping freak Tom Cruise). Or Transformers … bad actors, bad storylines … I did adore the marvellous Autobot transformations and fights, though.

So, enjoy re-watching some of your favourite movie series! I certainly do!

MORE THINGS THAT ANNOY ME

Nooo …

You didn’t really think, I would be done with two measly articles about the things that annoy me, did you? So here are even more things that annoy the hell out of me:

1.) Telephone hotlines – press 1, press 2, press 1 again … just to end up where you don’t want to be to receive the information you don’t want. And keep waiting for an actual person to pick up for hours. Literally. For hours. Phone companies seem to be the worst. Or anything else that has to deal with multimedia stuff. Or the parcel delivery services. Just don’t get me started on those!!!

2.) The German post office in particular – I’m regularly seeing red just by entering. They annoy me so much. Ridiculousness of the week? Having to present ID (no, my driver’s license is not enough to ID myself) for the ordered Austrian theatre DVD which is as harmless as the Muppets. (Oh, right, I forgot, the Muppets require a notification for the poor children who might suffer from childhood disturbances by the Muppets!) Or the postman (apart from one postwoman) who doesn’t manage to ring the doorbell when one of my used book deliveries doesn’t fit into the letter box. Even though I’m home, because I’m still working from home. Imagine my annoyance discovering the notification announcing “we couldn’t reach you at home, please pick up your parcel from tomorrow on …”. Stupid bastards!

3.) Bikers – oh boy, don’t get me started on bikers. As in those who sit on a bicycle and think they are the kings of the cities. I hate them with all my heart. Especially on country roads and in big cities where bikes seem to RULE. They annoy me to hell, they are of the opinion that THEY have every right! One of the worst city is Munster and I’m always glad when I have reached the parking garage I usually use without mowing down one of those bloody bikers.

4.) German traffic lights – as in switching from green to orange right away. Being scared every time I approach one of those it might switch all of a sudden and I will have to do an emergency break. Or just risk crossing at orange. I miss our Austrian lights, when the green light starts to blink announcing it will switch to orange in a moment, preparing you to either keep going – depending on whether it has just started blinking – or rather stop. 

5.) Spoons – as in being served spoons when ordering spaghetti. Hello? One does not eat spaghetti with spoons and forks. If you can’t eat spaghetti the Italian way, you better stick to normal pasta.  

6.) Cash only – no debit, no credit card! Yes, those places still exist. Especially in Germany, especially on small German islands, as it seems. For someone who is running around with 50€ max in her wallet and is used to drawing on of her cards all the time, it’s totally annoying to be told you can’t pay for your coffee, meal or souvenir with card. And especially now, in Covidtimes, where it was suggested to rather pay with card than with cash. Those bloody Covidinconsistencies …

7.) Speaking of which! Having returned from my weekend island getaway not too long ago, I was horrified that not once I was asked to provide prove of vaccination, recovery or being tested.What a disgrace to handle the pandemic.

8.) German hotels and their horrible pillows – yeah, it’s true. So far, it’s been the German hotels only – and I’ve been to plenty of other countries – where I constantly have to beg for a second or even third pillow. Every single hotel treated me to soft, flat pillows I just can’t stand. I need substance, I need structure, I need a pillow that supports my neck and head when I’m reading in bed at night. Fortunately, I brought Austrian, hard pillows with me on my move to Germany. I would have been totally lost!

Well, that’s it for now – once again. Will there be a “to be continued”? You bet! I’ll keep collecting the annoyances of life … or rather, my life!