The things I do …

Have you ever thought about why you do certain things? (You know, something that’s called self-reflection!) Have you? Like during times when you are unhappy? And I’m not talking about a bad day or an unhappy moment … but this deep sadness, unhappiness about yourself and your life. When you just know you need to get out of it again, but it’s so incredibly hard, because the world seems to keep revolving but without you. You are just stuck. When you ask yourself constantly why in the hell you have to go through all that, you don’t deserve it, cause in principal you are a good person. When everyone around you seems to live the normal life, being in relationships, having children, and you are the only one who always has to take care of everything on your own, missing out on so much and panicking that nothing will ever change. Cause it’s always been that way.

What do you do? What do you do then to find at least some happiness? When the simple things like a hot bath, chocolate or some shopping just don’t work anymore?

I’ve discovered that my obsession with interior decorating and my apartment grows significantly the unhappier I am. I remember the time my father was diagnosed with cancer … my obsession then was decorating everything in the colour purple. I needed purple! Purple throw pillows, purple candles, purple throw, purple towels and bath accessories … plus lots and lots of fake flowers in all kinds of colours. (Tacky, I know!) I was living on 35 sqm then and every free surface was covered in vases and silk flowers. Roses, peonies, orchids, lilies, … (and yes, I still have them stored up, just in case, for absolute emergencies …)

And not long ago it was once again time for a new “get-happy-again” project! (I just hope none of you are professional psychologists … cause I really don’t want to be told that all my problems started in my childhood! They didn’t! I had a wonderful childhood with great parents and a great older sister, who built scarf-and-blanket-houses with me. Sure, we fought too, I was a little spoilt brat, but really, I had a great childhood, so don’t even try pinning this on my childhood!)

Am I babbling again? That happens, me getting distracted sometimes when originally I wanted to tell you about my new project … drum rolls, please … a new kitchen! Let me add in my defence, that when I moved into my apartment, I took over the kitchen from the previous tenants and obviously they had already brought this kitchen with them, when they moved in. Since I basically had to furnish a whole 100 sqm apartment I was glad to not have to invest in a new kitchen at that time, instead remodelled it by painting it black, covering it with blackboard film and changing the handles. At least I could live with that without being totally disgusted by the original colour. So, spontaneously I decided to do some research and in the course of one week I had everything planned and was ready to order. Oh, how I enjoyed sitting in my boxspring bed at night after work, armed with millimetre paper, pencil and ruler, my MacBook to look up the cabinets and appliances, doing a first draft including prices. The planning, the re-planning, the driving to Ikea several times to look at everything in real life, the last stage of planning together with the Ikea personnel … happy times. Happy, happy, times! And then, of course, all the preparations until the kitchen would be delivered: the dismantling of the old kitchen, repainting, buying new kitchen appliances in black (a red toaster, brown coffeemaker and white electric kettle just wouldn’t do in my new white and black cottage style kitchen), living without a kitchen for nearly a month … and then the big day when the new kitchen was put up. It made me happy. Everything about it just made me happy! My apartment is perfect now! Or is it? Until my next crisis and I decide it’s time to finally tackle the bathroom …

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What a sham(e)

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I know that you are following my blog passionately and therefore you already know that I’m happily unhappily single, trying to find MY MAN quite ingeniously. Online. It’s fascinating as well as depressing and certainly exhausting at times. Conversations, conversations, conversations. Until you either meet and find out it won’t work cause there’s just not enough chemistry, no physical attraction or one of those things or one-sided anyway or you stop before all that because something sounds fishy or you discover characteristics through the way he is writing that you better get rid of him as quickly and nicely as possible.

I do have a few simple rules I follow, because, let’s face it, it can be dangerous trusting the wrong person and in the end, you don’t know who’s on the other side until you have met. So, being suspicious and careful with my private data and too many details about my home and work place have become second nature to me. Meeting in public places with lots of people around for your first date might also be not such a bad idea. (And it’s giving you quite a nice James Bond feeling …)

It’s fascinating the kind of men you meet. Well, probably that’s an understatement. Showing all kinds of good and bad behaviour, characteristics, expectations …

1.)  The ones who don’t write back: I hate that! You are chatting normally – small talk really – and suddenly … no reply anymore. And you have no clue why. This makes me mad as hell, especially since it happened to me quite a few times. One expects more from people, academics, who registered and paid a large sum of money to find a partner. The funny thing? It’s so simple to send someone a rejection with prefabricated phrases like “I’m concentrating on someone else right now”, “I’m looking for someone with more matching points” or “I want someone who lives closer”. Just pick one and push SEND. Dealt with. Done. But receiving nothing is just bad style! Bad, bad style!

2.)  The ones who are mad if you tell them that you are interested in someone else and send you something like “it’s stupid to concentrate on one person already”. Well, what can I say? It’s the gentle way to let a guy down without hurting his feelings because he’s just sooo not your type. Never ever.

3.)  The scammers: yes, they are everywhere. Lying through their teeth, calling you the most beautiful woman on earth, using endearments after a few messages, claiming they are on long-term business trips somewhere, like a construction engineer, coming back in a few months … and I bet the money question will come up sooner or later. One guy I met was really good. He claimed to be in Washington. Washington for me is automatically Washington DC on the East Coast. He told me then he was in Washington State. West Coast. He tripped up by not getting the time difference right! Ha! Another one caught in the act! Sometimes it’s small things, so watch out for discrepancies and things that just don’t make sense!

4.)  The ones just wanting an affair: often to be recognized by the missing pictures in the profile. I seem to have a knack for those ones. They want me, but I don’t quite want them. Been there, done that. The tragic thing? Those guys would be exactly the kind of men who would be suitable. If they weren’t married. And, of course they are. The good ones already seem to be taken. And their wives? Not appreciating at all what they have at home! Come on! Sex once or every other month? And then they are surprised their needy husbands stray from home? How stupid can one be? Or those guys are in the tragic situation that they just can’t afford a divorce …

5.)  The weird ones: oh boy! Yes, those exist too! I had conversations you wouldn’t believe. I mean, I’m open to many things … there are always solutions and compromises … but some stuff is even too weird for tolerant, open-minded me. There are “fantasies” and preferences out there I hadn’t heard before …

6.)  The ones claiming to be single … but aren’t: something like that is bad. Really, really bad. One enjoys the communication, like each other’s looks … and if you’re lucky you’re being told the truth BEFORE anything happens. One guy at least spilled the beans and told me the truth, because I was just too nice a woman to lie to anymore.

7.)  The ones who look different than their pictures: I realize one wants to look its best to attract the other person. But, hell, of course it’s a big disappointment if you are looking forward to meeting the guy from the picture and then he is standing in front of you with beard and twenty kilos heavier. Shallow me? Shallow everyone, I guess!

8.)  The ones who cancel the second date shortly before meeting: oh yes, that happened to me as well. One hour before, to be exact. I was already on the way when he sent me a text message, claiming there was not enough chemistry, wishing me good luck, totally blindsiding me.

9.)  The ones you like, have second dates with … but just don’t like their kisses, smell, certain characteristics. Which just proves that you can’t enforce feelings and chemistry.

There are times where I just want to give up. Cut my losses and deal with the sad truth that there won’t be anyone for me. Other times I still keep hoping …

Tennis chicks

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Reading my blog faithfully, of course you know that I’ve joined those dull women choosing tennis as her preferred way of staying halfway in shape. (The other kinds of sports I enjoy more than anything else will not be mentioned here … but I think you know what I’m talking about!)

I’m quite unambitious and lacking any kind of vanity in these regards. I started out with my old racket, only investing in a new one when my wrist started to hurt badly from the vibrations. I still wear my 20-year-old Reeboks and probably will wear them until they are disintegrating around my feet. As for the rest of my outfit? Cheap leggings, cropped or not, plain t-shirts, preferably some I bought at hard rock concerts (one wants to be a bit shocking), a baseball cap I got from one of our sub suppliers and my long-trusted black backpack displaying the Canadian maple leaf flag I bought at ROOTS in Vancouver in the late 90s. And which is far from the styles of fashionable tennis bags one wears today … that’s me.

I love to play tennis. I really do. But I hate to play tennis with other women! Why? Because these housewife types are all about competition, trying to outmatch each other. In every single way. Starting with their standard tennis court uniform of Nike tennis skirts, pink Ralph Lauren tennis shirts, matching baseball caps from the same brand (and colour), full makeup and the best racket, sneakers and bags you can think of. Like … real tennis bags or backpacks, with special compartments for their rackets, balls, etc

Off the court, especially at “official” club functions, think country club style. White pants obligatory, polo shirts and – again – matching sweaters of the usual designer brands thrown “casually” across their shoulders. Not forgetting the blond bleached hair including cheap extensions.

Then, of course, they are also competing in terms of cars (anyone envious of those boring family luxury cars like BMW, Mercedes or Audi?), husbands (doctors, lawyers, bank managers, insurance and real estate guys … anything less is unacceptable) and on the tennis court itself. Nearly scratching each other’s eyes out in the process.

What I really hate about them, though, is their meanness and intolerance. Their talking and whispering behind other women’s backs, those who actually are nice, just want to play and would like to join their groups but are maybe not as “good” as they already are. (Not me, I would never want to join them, it gives me the creeps and goosebumps just thinking about this unthinkable concept!) Well, therefore, I couldn’t care less what they think of me, I have no intention of interacting with them in any way. If they want to, they can talk all they want behind my back. They are so far beneath me in every single way that all they get from me is a cynical smile at best and a cold look and raised eyebrow when I disapprove of their behaviour. That’s all they deserve.

Watching sports is dangerous

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I’m THE anti-sports fan, pure and simple. And I have been watching a soccer game not too long ago! No, I’ve neither gone mad nor have been brainwashed by my soccer loving best friend. Then why in the hell was I watching a soccer game? At the Olympic Stadium in Berlin? Driving there for 5 hours, one way. When A.) I don’t have the slightest idea what the rules are! B.) I don’t even want to know what the rules are. C.) And what the hell are the people around me talking about? Cheering or nearly crying about … what exactly had just happened on the field?

All I know is that it’s got something to do with kicking the ball into the other team’s goal, trying not to lose it to the enemy too stupidly. Never mind that I don’t know my way around this kind of sports. I just can’t peel my eyes away from the far away playing field as all that manpower fights its way from one end to the other.

The next life threatening question arises! Which team should I cheer for? Being a bad girl I decide to pick the obviously weaker one, which is also the BIG BAD ENEMY in my friend’s eyes. Just for the fun of it! Whenever he yells at the “good guys”, swearing at them, telling the players what to do, I cheer for the other team, telling them how well they are doing! (Unfortunately, I usually am at the wrong end of the fan base and am looked at quite meanly!) Sadly, however, my friend’s favourite soccer team is usually winning, which makes it hard to root for the losers … even though I never give up hope until the end.

So, the question still is, what makes me do such dumb things? Taking one day trips, driving to Munich, Berlin, Düsseldorf, etc occasionally to see my friend’s favourite soccer team play? When I wouldn’t be caught dead watching it on TV, because it’s so incredibly dull? Well, basically it’s just getting away for a change, spending time with one of my friends. And I have to confess, it is fun. Watching those hard-core fans with their shawls and caps and jerseys, totally living in the moment, suffering every messed-up chance, celebrating every goal. (Yep, HE is no stranger to all those fashionable outfits either while boring me is usually dressed, well, quite boringly boring in jeans and a black top, refusing to join the lines in buying any soccer merchandise. I clearly draw my line there!)

Naturally, we have established the one or other ritual as well. Eating Bratwurst in a roll or Currywurst with fries before the game is a must, accompanied by a beer-lemonade-beverage we usually share. And by share, I mean I try a few sips and he gets the rest. During the game, it’s usually me who heads up to the beverage stalls to have it refilled, careful not to step into sticky spilled beer puddles or on ketchup and mustard filled food wrappings. Because … it’s an art and long-time experience to eat the German version of a Hot Dog without getting covered in the condiments you foolishly squirted onto your Bratwurst in huge amounts. Which I have tragically had to master after the first game when huge globs of mustard landed on my then pristine white shirt … of course, one wouldn’t expect less of me. One does learn, however! Hence the black tops and dark jeans! I’m not all stupid!

By now I at least can tell whether the game was halfway good or not. Even though my friend can’t help rolling his eyes whenever he has to answer my silly chick questions when I’m stumped once again by something that had happened on the field without me knowing what and why. But … well … it’s something different and – let’s face it – a fascinating study of human group behaviour. With the exciting perk of having something to write about and share with you! Happy Russia World Championship of soccer watching … I’m rooting for … wish I had a clue …

Just get over it

A few months back lots of historic monuments were being dismantled or destroyed in the Southern states of the USA. Monuments from the American Civil War. Confederate statues. And I just can’t stop thinking about it. Because I just don’t get it. I really don’t. I mean, I would totally understand toppling over a statue of the crazy dictator who had to be displayed at every corner of his empire directly after his downfall. But 153 years later? Are you mad? It’s your history! Just accept it. With all its good and bad sides. You can’t change it. It shaped your country, the way history intends to do. You really think destroying historic monuments will solve your problems?

Every country has black sheep in its past. And there will always be black sheep, power hungry, egocentric, paranoid and just plain crazy. There is the one or other one I could think of at the top of my head right now who doesn’t care one bit about human rights or laws. Incarcerating journalists, teachers, homosexuals, normal people on flimsy excuses. Without proof. To put pressure on other countries and its own people. How exactly is that any better than what leaders all through the centuries did?

The Germans are the only people I know who manage to play the martyr role perfectly well. The funny thing? This guy wasn’t even German!!! Just whispering the evil creep’s name whose name one does not mention – Austrian, I have to admit – makes them hide ashamedly. Remember the Harry Potter books? Where in the first few parts Voldemort’s name was not dared to be mentioned? Reminding you of something? Mentioning the little Austrian’s creep’s name is politically incorrect. I condemn his followers as much as everyone else who still has got a little brain left. And the man so beautifully portrayed by Charlie Chaplin in his prediction of the future movie “The dictator” was a small, power hungry, insecure psychopath who somehow managed to enchant Germans and Austrians alike. Using the bad economic situation and obviously getting things done.

Killing millions of Jews and enemies was an abominable horror. But, what the hell, just get over it, Germans! Yes, you got roped in by this guy first and fell for him! But it’s been 73 years since the Second World War ended! Stop being martyrs and feel responsible for every little thing. Show me any other country still being stupid enough to pay retributions to everyone who makes you feel guilty.

My point in bringing all this up? Even though it’s a delicate topic? Because it makes me sad seeing history destroyed. Might it be ancient sites bombed to smithereens or 150 years old statues disfigured and destroyed …

Greetings from John and Jane Smith

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Have you ever considered going on vacation incognito? No? Why not? It’s more fun you can think of and sure spices up your relationship!

Perfect for pulling something like that off is a few-day-train-ride. I could picture the Royal Scotsman, the Blue Train, The Canadian, the Orient Express … I’m sure you are wondering how I even come up with stuff like that? I honestly don’t know! Must be the writer in me, picturing and planning things I want to do sometime in the future. The fun in this game? You can be whoever you want to be! I wouldn’t recommend “John and Jane Doe”, though. Dead unidentified people’s names are not your best idea. “Smith” is a whole different matter. It’s so common it’s credible enough but still will make you feel like completely different people!

Now, apart from a new wardrobe for your “incognito trip”, of course you also need backgrounds, background stories, how you met, hobbies, etc to go with your names. The planning and talking about it before the trip – or during the trip in your private carriage – will probably be more excitement than you had in years … Your usual jobs are a no-go, of course. What would be the fun of it, if you didn’t choose something completely different or something you’ve always wanted to do!? You should be actually able to talk about it, of course. So, being a psychologist pretending to be an engineer might not be your best idea! How about being a sleazy car salesman and hair stylist couple? Or art dealer and writer? Or very boring accountant and librarian? If you’re travelling a lot in your real life, wouldn’t it be nice to imagine your lives being totally 9 to 5 boring? With the white picket fence house, two cars, two children and a dog? When in reality you live in a stylish apartment, don’t have time for children and spend more time in restaurants than at home cooking!?

On the other hand, if you DO have this kind of boring life … John and Jane might pretend to be the boring couple with boring jobs but your background story is spy-on-a-mission where you obviously are so fake it’s interesting to get to know you because nothing checks out. Yes, I know, the crazy, twisted me comes to light again. Guys, what have you been expecting? I’m an Austrian who lives in Germany, writing English articles to be published in a blog without connections to Facebook, Twitter and Co … There you go … you just have to live with that!

The little things that annoy me

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Imagine it’s Sunday, the kids are with your parents and you’re looking forward to a quiet morning with coffee and the Sunday papers. So, still half asleep you go outside, in your crumpled old flannel PJs and an even older, frayed bathrobe to pick up your treasured papers … just to discover that it’s dropping wet and unreadable because A) the newspaper boy hates you and threw it right into the puddle from the last rain, B) your neighbour’s dog peed on it, again or C) you forgot to turn off the usually non-working sprinklers. Your beautiful Sunday morning is ruined and you’re in such a bad mood that not even a lovingly prepared breakfast by your loved one can save the day! You know what I’m talking about? Of course, you do! Welcome to my life and the little things that annoy me!

1.)   Waiters! Well, actually, waiters who take away my plate even though my company is still eating. Every time that happens I’m considering holding onto my plate and telling them to please read the “Elmayer” – THE Austrian publication for rules of etiquette. I’m sure there are equivalents in every country. (Well, guess Google would work too …)

2.)   Other car drivers! Those who crawl up to the red light in the hope it will turn green without having to use the brakes. Because, replacing the brakes is expensive and one has to avoid using them at all costs! Not caring that the line of cars behind them is getting longer and longer (with me in it), already blocking the previous intersection. Those who drive on the far left highway lane (or far right for the British) with the speed of a snail, holding up the other drivers and causing mini traffic jams in the process. (Guess which lane I usually drive on and have to endure those dangerous, crappy drivers, yelling at them that they are too stupid to drive!)

3.)   Imagine you are playing tennis with a friend, enjoying it, minding your own business, not caring about tennis rules because you just want to play. Sometimes you’re having a good run, sometimes … well, not so good. When suddenly one of the players from the other court starts commenting on your game and giving you good advice. Ohhh! I hate that! I so hate that! I have always hated that! Even as a kid! People should just mind their own business! The only person allowed to correct me or give me advice is my dearly beloved tennis trainer. Anyone else … can rot in hell!

4.)   Standing in line at the supermarket checkout! Aaand … always managing to pick the one taking forever to move forwards. With people in front of you counting small change out of their unorganized purses, bagging their groceries is an endless task and then you certainly will have the one person who forgets to separate her groceries from the one before her, ending in a discussion with the checkout clerk who then has to deduct the already scanned products again. Good thing I’m always carrying a freezer bag with me for my frozen peas, ice cream and pizza … otherwise I would be even more stressed out, counting the minutes I’m waiting in the wrong line, while the other one is moving forwards in the speed of light, seeing my food thawing in my mind …

Of course, there are quite some more “little things that annoy me”. But this will have to keep for another article in the near or far future … can’t reveal my “secrets” all at once, can I? Well, have a nice weekend and an annoyingless week.

The most fascinating book

Recently I have been thinking about the question which book I would consider the most fascinating I’ve ever read. And with a personal library of about 900 books and hundreds more in digital form, not to mention those books I’ve given away over the years … you might say I’ve read quite a lot. Ranging from theatre plays, classics, historic romances, fantasies, mysteries, science, biographies, non-fiction, children books, teens, etc … there’s something from every genre. I’m not talking about my favourite book. I haven’t decided on that quite yet. As a kid I would have said “Insu-Pu” by Mira Lobe, 1953, 316 pages, a book my father had read when he was young and which I still possess and treasure and love very much. I still remember lying on my parents’ bed, book in front of me, basically reading it in one go, my father looking in on me when he came home from the office, me barely being able to stop reading for joining family dinner.

Ohhh … and there I go again, reminiscing about the past and totally straying from the topic. (Well, this all just a clever measure to make you more curious and heighten the suspense! Hope it worked!)

The most fascinating book I’ve ever read is the “Pfaffenspiegel” (“Priests’ mirror”) by Otto von Corvin. Written in 1845 – 1845!!! – it describes the beginnings and history of Christianity up to the 19thcentury. Why it fascinates me so much? Well, apart from the fact that I myself am very critical of the Catholic Church – and other more fanatical religions – I was more than surprised … stunned … to read something this critical having been written in the 19thcentury. Confirming my personal views I already had. Otto von Corvin writes quite openly about the crimes and misconducts of bishops, popes, priests, monks and nuns … orgies, murder and mayhem … “celibacy” … sales of indulgences …

The funny thing? The “Pfaffenspiegel” I possess is a reprint from 1995. At this time “Amazon” and the huge world of online shopping was still in its infancy and the book basically forbidden. (Especially in Austria, where the Catholic Church rules with more than two thirds of Austrians being Catholic.) Which is why my issue had been printed in Finland. My father, who remembered that book from his youth, having grown up in a quite liberal family, also due to my grandfather’s extensive business travels around the world, gleefully discovered the reprint in a book shop in Germany and couldn’t help buying it. Thanks, Dad, for introducing me to this exceptionally fascinating, entertaining and well written book. Another one of those I couldn’t stop reading until I was done.

I could write endlessly about this book, recounting the shocking historical facts, some of which I have already “used” in past articles about religions, one of my favourite topics, as you know. But … I don’t want to reveal too much and spoil it for you. It’s one of those books one just has to read and enjoy oneself.

The treacherous world of online dating

Yes, I admit it. I’ve joined the league of lonely people hitting the online dating circus in the hope of meeting the one for me. And since I’m thorough and impatient … I registered at three different platforms. One highly expensive one, forking over 450€ for a one-year-membership, one of the swiping kind and a free one. I can tell you, it’s a jungle out there. Especially the free platforms can be, well, treacherous ground. Starting out quite naïvely – even though I did some research on what to do and not to do – I quickly learned how to be more careful with my information, even getting an anonymous email address and communicating through likewise anonymous chatting portals. And good thing I did. One of my first experiences was actually a military scammer. For all those stupid people out there who don’t know what a “military scammer” is – like silly ME, who had never heard of it before – let me quickly explain: military scammers are people using fake identities and pictures from US military personnel, probably stolen from Facebook accounts, trying to catch unsuspecting men and women, making them fall in love with them and getting as much money out of them as possible under false pretences. Usually they need the money for the “trip back” from wherever in Africa they are stationed, for being “released early from the Army”, etc etc. When in real life the person behind this scheme is probably a Nigerian … and not the handsome guy you think you’ve been chatting to for ages. In my case, I don’t have a clue who actually was behind “Brian”, but when he wanted me to send him money my warning bells rang loud and clear and I drew him in like a spider to its web. Tripping him up had become a game for me and he stepped into it beautifully. I asked clever questions about the States, customs and also pretended I would send him the money, asking him how to proceed. “Western Union” and an amount larger than the flight to Germany would have cost was exactly what I had expected. Ha! Caught you! Gleefully I confronted him, also with all those grammatical mistakes he had made as well as the wrong use of words. Boy, it was so funny how indignant he was … how could I think so poorly of honest US Army guy Brian. Yeah, right!

But, I also have to admit, it took me a few days until I got suspicious for real. Not all too familiar with American chatting styles I excused his grammar with exactly that: chatting style and plain and simple typos.

So, all in all, I got off lightly, and neither with a broken heart nor with any money lost, but simply some wasted time. And a big deal of more life experience.

Darn! This is not exactly the kind of article I had wanted to write when I started. This was supposed to be a funny piece … or let me rephrase it: at least a funnier one. Once again, I’ve managed to get distracted a wee bit by my first scammer (oh yes, there were more who tried something similar, but I caught on more quickly the other times). But I guess it’s never a bad thing to write about one’s experiences. Sending out a warning to be careful out there …

I promise you, though, I’ll be back with more of my online dating experiences!

Mother’s Day

It’s coming. Every single year it’s sneaking up on me and then it’s suddenly here. Mother’s Day. (Oh alright, even I can’t help noticing it’s about to happen again with all the ads for flowers and everything possible and impossible in heart shapes left over from Valentine’s Day). And images start flashing through my mind … like me giving baking a try in the form of a Swiss roll with apricot jam as a young girl or presenting my Mum with a flower-style bunch of cooking spoons in various colours. Or making hand-painted cards, gift certificates, buying flowers together with my father at the florist, preparing Sunday breakfast in bed for her (which actually was not anything special because we often did that for Mum; it was just the way my father was …)

Basically, my Mum was not all that into Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. It was more important to her that we thought of her and did something nice occasionally all through the year instead of just once or twice on those particular days. And we did. I remember my father buying a single rose or orchid on his way home from work, hiding messages for her to find, sending post cards from his business trips and he always brought home little gifts for all of us from all over the world. I remember how often we prepared supper to have in the dining room instead of the kitchen, with cheese and cold cuts nicely spread out on fine china and decorated with carved radishes, tomatoes and pickles. Or preparing a hot bath for Mum to enjoy. And cooking … that was always Dad’s job on weekends. And still, Mother’s Day was Mother’s Day …

Being very close to my mother’s sister and my Aunt Do who had been in my life as long as I can think of – actually, she had already been in my father’s life from his childhood years on – and was not a relative of the usual kind, but a relative of the heart, I realized that Mother’s Day doesn’t just have to be about mothers but about the women in our lives we love. Both of them childless, I was their child as well and they surrogate mothers to me. How lucky I was to have them close during my university days, living in the same town as most of my relatives. It was Aunt Do and me who came up with the “Aunt’s Day”. And we always spent it together with my mother’s sister, my uncle and grandmother.

Everything has changed, of course. My Mum is gone. Has been for the past five years. So are my Aunt Do, my grandmother, my uncle. But I still have my mother’s sister, who has become everything to me. Even though she is far away back in Austria. And like every year I will talk to her on “Mother’s/Aunt’s Day” and send a surprise to her. Which … in the tradition of my family … I do in between as well. The latest mystery novel from authors she likes, a little something for her holidays, etc.

Mothers (and fathers, by the way) are not the only ones deserving a day to be spoiled. Everyone deserves a day like this. Those people who are there for you, always, at least deserve a “Thank you” once in a while.

So, happy “Mother’s, Aunt’s, Friend’s Day”! Thank you!