.Important Stuff.

Buy, don’t rent.

Always think outside of the box.

Let any person who considers to get pregnant take care of a newborn child for two days (weeks). They may reconsider.

Don’t expect anything from anyone.

Don’t take shit personal.

If people have the need to feel important, just let them be and smile.

Minecraft will be in any parents’ life at some point.

My beauty philosophy: I watch my 7-year-old son and there’s no question of beautiful or not beautiful. He just IS. He is always in his body, at the moment, confident, strong. He is absolutely natural and hasn’t had all the conditions put upon him yet. Beauty is getting back to that natural state, becoming aware of your thoughts, and realizing you are more than your body.

There is no need to get married at all. It is just a piece of paper.

Pornography is the opiate of the masses.

Dry skin? Drink more water.

Too much makeup will ruin your skin eventually. So will Botox.

Everybody lies.

Many pretend.

In Vienna, a small 2-bedroom apartment to buy may cost Eur 1,000,000.

Dog owners will look like their dogs eventually.

Eat your dessert with a small spoon. It will last longer.

Home-made chicken soup is awesome and super healthy.

Don’t cover a couch in plastic and pretend it is comfortable for you (or your guests) to sit on.

Don’t buy anything that is 100 percent wool or cashmere even if it seems to be very soft and not particularly itchy when you try it on in the store.

Sometimes you just never know.

Sometimes things make no sense.

The plane is not going to crash.

Everything you think is wrong with your body at the age of twenty-five you will be nostalgic for at the age of forty.

Drinking and eating too much will result in a saggy roll just above your waist even if you are painfully thin.

This saggy roll just above your waist will be especially visible from the back and will force you to reevaluate half the clothes in your closet, especially the white shirts.

Write everything down and keep a journal.

Take more pictures.

You can order more than one dessert once in a while but keep the saggy roll in mind.

You cannot own too many black turtleneck sweaters.

Wear black. It is always chic.

If the shoe doesn’t fit in the shoe store, it is never going to fit.

Back up your files.

Over-insure everything. Especially, if you have kids.

There is a point in making piecrust from scratch. Or noodles. Or pizza.

The reason you are waking up in the middle of the night is the large glass of wine of the second bottle.

The minute you decide to get divorced, go see a lawyer and file the papers.

Buy vintage clothes.

Don’t share too much private information. Ever. There are secrets.

Don’t expect anything.

Back to nature and a big garden is key.

Reading is everything. It makes me feel I have accomplished something, learned something, become smarter, become a better person.

Parenting is not easy. In a nutshell, here is what is involved: You love your child(ren), you hang out with them from time to time, you throw balls, you read stories, you make sure they know which utensil is the salad fork, you teach them to say please and thank you, and you ask if they did their homework. Continue until they are eighteen. Yeah, right. Continue forever.

Expensive lotions and potions for your face and body don’t work. Don’t buy La Mer creme for Eu 1.350,00. WHY is this creme so expensive? Does it contain parts of the angler fish?

Don’t care what people think of you. Do your thing.

.Pet Peeves.

I am generally a pretty understanding person, but there are some things that get under my skin. You know when you are in a “mood” and then something pops out of nowhere and irritates you even further? Those are what I call my pet peeves. They are not cute or cuddly, but rather annoying. Here are just some things that really tick me off. My list of cringe-worthy moments that leave me annoyed and just….. peeved.

  • Yell sneezes.
  • Loud gum chewing and talking at the same time.
  • Chewing with mouth open.
  • Anything chewing and loud.
  • Someone cracking their knuckles and then saying, “I am pumped. Let’s do this!”
  • Extremely slow people.
  • Someone who asks for advice and does the exact opposite.
  • People who don’t replace the toilet paper roll.
  • When people read a text with a question and don’t respond.
  • When people are late.
  • When people are chronically late.
  • People who walk into the subway and stand right in front of the door.
  • People who discuss being on a diet while I am in the middle of eating something unhealthy.
  • Kids who say the food I cooked tastes disgusting.
  • People who use thousands of hashtags.
  • People who say “I mean, no offense […]” as if it downplays anything insulting they say to me.
  • People who say “literally” when what they mean is not literal.
  • People who clip their nails in the subway
  • Line cutters.
  • People who say “There are rules” for rules that can be clearly broken and nobody gets harmed.
  • People who don’t know how to get through a security checkpoint efficiently. EVERYONE knows you have to take metals out of your pocket. At the airport EVERYONE knows to take off the goddamn shoes and that liquids are not allowed.
  • When you let a car cut in front of you and the person doesn’t wave to thank you.
  • Misspelling my name when it is right there in the email staring you in the face.
  • When dog owners leave their dog’s shit anywhere but in the little plastic bags.
  • Extremely slow cashiers, a long line in the supermarket and only ONE register open.
  • Saying, “Let’s make plans!” then acting surprised when I follow up and make actual plans.
  • Misleading labels on food. Food that only pretends to be organic.
  • Gluten-free fanatics and vegans who only talk about how healthy this lifestyle is.
  • People who talk over you when you are clearly still in the middle of the sentence.
  • Passive aggressive behaviour. If you have something that bothers you or you want to say, just say or do it.
  • When you are running after the bus, you lock eyes with the bus driver in the rear view mirror, and they still drive straight past you.
  • When you open the door for someone and not only do they not thank you, they also glide straight past you as if people should open doors for them.
  • People who don’t respond when I said “good morning” to them.
  • When people repeatedly hit the elevator button, as if that will make the elevator arrive sooner.
  • People who constantly look at their watch.
  • People who are constantly on the phone.
  • Anyone with an inflated sense of their own importance. “Don’t you know who I am-people”
  • People who seal a ziplock bag without removing the air first.
  • Clapping at the end of a movie in theater.
  • The word “touché”.
  • Receiving emails from a colleague with my boss cc’d.
  • When people say “cool beans”.
  • Sponsored Instagram or Facebook feeds.
  • People who abbreviate things that don’t need to be shortened.
  • People who tell you they ate something really bad yesterday and should really stay home. Just say you are taking a sick day. Nobody needs to hear the details.
  • People who say “eh, you know” when you casually ask them how they are doing. A) I don’t know, and B) I want to know because I asked.
  • People who send emails longer than six paragraphs. Call or explain in person. Who has time to read through all of that?
  • Super fast 2-hour power point Zoom presentations. Nobody can ever focus or pay attention.

What makes you tick?

.Car Issues.

“Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.” —Warren Buffett

On my way home the other day I stopped at the traffic light and saw a car (Audi Q7) that came speeding around the corner before it stopped. The volume of the music broke my inner quietness and was drowned out only by the squeal of his tires when the light changed. The driver (who looked like my ex) wore a leather jacket, sunglasses, and smoked a cigarette that he casually flicked out of the window.

We didn’t exchange any words. I don’t even recall him looking in my direction. I don’t care about the person or how he acquired this car. I am passing no judgment on him because this is a story about me. When I saw him, a surprising thought entered my head. I told myself, “I could drive a car like that if I wanted. I could purchase a car like this anytime. But I choose not to.” There are, I suppose, a few cars on the planet that I could not receive enough credit to purchase. But for the most part, there is nothing stopping me from driving an expensive, flashy car. Except for maybe one thing. I enjoy living within my means. I like knowing I spend less than I make. I mean, I could take expensive vacations, buy this car, purchase expensive clothes, purchase more luxurious furniture but I find a significant amount of pleasure knowing my expenses do not exceed my income. I don’t need to rely on working overtime to afford things and pay off my credit card.

Staying out of debt means I am not being hunted down by creditors. It means I am not carrying a financial burden from my past while also trying to provide for the present. It means I have the freedom to make choices with my excess income. It means I can save if I want, give if I want, or spend if I want. I enjoy a significant level of freedom that others may not experience. This allows me to sleep better, carry less stress, and live a more calm, relaxed life.

Our society works hard to convince us to outspend our means and then provides a thousand ways for us to do it. And from the outside, a life built on credit may appear the life desired. With its bright lights, bold colors, and flashy impressions we are able to make.

But I will choose something different for my life. I will choose calm and peace and the knowledge that I have chosen responsibly. For there is a wonderful joy to be found in it. I know there is a number of uncontrollable circumstances that may make this choice impossible for some. Tragedy, medical emergencies, or unexpected career downsizing as examples. But for those who still have the choice, I don’t think you will ever regret spending less than you make. I love my life with less.

.Afternoon Walk.

Pssssst. Hey you! It is me: Afternoon Walk. As you may have noticed, you are turning to me an awful lot these days. Don’t get me wrong, I love what we have together, but I think we need to face the truth: I can never be everything you want me to be.

When this little routine first started (lockdown 1), I thought it was the greatest thing in the world. I was an escape. I was an adventure. I was beloved. But somewhere along the way, I became your EVERYTHING. Now, I am both: your leisure activity and your only form of exercise. I am the last thing tethering you to reality, yet your only way of escaping. I am the singular effort you make to maintain your sanity, and your sole means of experiencing joy, hope, and happiness. It feels as if I am your lover, friend, and therapist all wrapped into one and, frankly, it is making me uncomfortable.

Personally, I think I have held up my end of the deal quite well. I am there every time you need me. I am literally always an option. I don’t know if you know this, but you can even have me at other times of the day. For example, have you tried the morning?

Perhaps, instead of rolling up to your email inbox in a sleepy, hurried rage, you could first project your hopes and dreams onto a morning walk listening to the birds? I hear morning walks are a great way to extend the bliss of forgetfulness you experience in the first few moments of waking up and delay the vague, gnawing sense of impending doom before you go to work.

But let’s get back to the root of the problem here. I am but a simple afternoon walk. You are a human person with complex feelings and emotions like happiness, anger, fear and boredom. And you want us both to believe that I can address these things with magical powers?

I will let you in on a little secret: I have no magical powers. I never have. This isn’t an imposter syndrome thing either, so don’t even start with the, “Oh, come on, everyone knows how magical and talented you are!” I am telling you right now, for real, I have no magical powers.

I have gotta say it feels like even the things I can do for you are not enough anymore. How quickly you seem to have forgotten that I actually am a stress reliever and an energy booster. I shoot endorphins through your brain like a confetti cannon, for crying out loud. Do not even get me started on the way I fight off heart disease. But you never think about that anymore, do you?

Anyway, forget it. I know you don’t want to talk about heart disease because one of your co-worker just had one. I know things are hard right now. Really, I get it. But might I remind you that no one ever said, “You know what could eradicate coronavirus, convince national leaders that everyone deserves a livable wage regardless of the kind of work they are doing, and provide a rush of endorphins? A short afternoon walk.”

So please, for the love of God, I am gonna need you to develop just one or even two other coping mechanisms. Like eating. Then maybe, just maybe, we can actually enjoy each other’s company again on our way to a restaurant where you have to test yourself “in”, sit two meters apart from your friends unless you are sharing the same household, be home at 8 pm, wear a mask but are able to remove it to insert food but put it right back on when you laugh. Oh, I forgot, laughing is not allowed at all because of the tiny droplets. “Can I at least bring my dog,” you may ask. Be aware that two squirrels have been tested positive yesterday.

You are welcome.

.All the Places We Go.

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” – Seth Godin

I threw out this quote at work a couple of days ago and got mixed feedback. Most appreciated it but some disagreed. They mentioned that they miss the ocean, the beach and that traveling is so much fun. Here, I do not disagree. This pandemic is tough on me, too and I love to travel. But the point of the quote is not whether vacations are fun and traveling is good. It is rather to always enjoy your life, not only while on vacation, holiday, or weekend. On a daily basis, I am striving to make my life the one I want to be living and to enjoy it. Even on Monday mornings (yeah, right!) because life is so short. I don’t see vacation as the occasional opportunity to escape my life but I rather craft a life I don’t need to escape from. You know how?

I make good relationships a priority. Good relationships make me happy and can never be matched by income, title, or career achievements. People matter and are worth the effort. To me, relationships, where I can learn something, am being understood and loved, and where I can give it all back are essential.

“True simplicity begins when you learn to enjoy the amazing abundance of what is already yours.” – Thomas Kinkade

I remove unneeded possessions from my home and life. Physical possessions are a burden to me. They require time, energy, money, and always distract me from the things in life that matter most. More stuff will not make me happy because I already have everything I need.

I make my work my job. My job is what I do for money to provide shelter, clothing, and food. My work, on the other hand, is what I am passionate about (writing, health, garden, nutrition, my son). Sometimes, pursuing a passion as a career is not always feasible. Or not yet. I know I am required to do the job in front of me for the sake of providing for myself and this little guy who follows me around for seven years. But there is still an opportunity to craft a life I don’t need to escape from by focusing on the good things that this job brings while aligning my passions around it.

I guard my time. Not everything in life deserves my energy. It is important to become more aware of what is truly worth the hours of this one, short, important life. I have not crafted the life that I love by saying “yes” to every opportunity or invitation that comes along. I have done so by guarding my time for the things that matter most and by learning to say “no” to whatever does not work for me.

I take care of myself. What matters at the end of my life is not the house I lived in, the car I drove, or the possessions I have. What will matter in the end is my health and how I treated others. However, an empty cup cannot pour into another. To me, it is important to rest, exercise, and live healthy most of the time to be the best version of myself.

Also, life is never just smooth sailing. Storms come and go. Sometimes as a result of my own poor decisions and sometimes as the result of living in an imperfect world. But, I still look for the good in the midst of it all. And there is always something good. Sometimes all it takes is a change and shift in mindset.

Also, it is Friday. 🙂

.Multitudes.

The other night, I found myself in the most unlikely of places: In the back of a car with my boyfriend whom I dated in high school…..

It was late at night, and as the car wound its way through the streets, his face flickered in the glow of blinking streetlights. When we stopped at a red light, he leaned over to whisper in my ear. “I don’t love you,” he said. “And I never have.” Then I woke up. It was all a dream. But as I went about my day, I remained haunted. Why did my subconscious want to tango with someone I haven’t seen or spoken to in many years?

Joan Didion is one of my favourite writers. She wrote, “We are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not.” Even though I agree with Joan, this point has never been my strong suit.

My past selves were sometimes mortifying. They wore strange outfits and said awkward things, then staying up too late worrying about it. They sometimes made errors in judgement that, while necessary for learning, I would rather not relive. But lately, in these months spent largely at home, I have been forced to confront them. My brain replays the old memories like syndicated reruns of a show. For me, this pandemic has resulted in a surge of vivid, bizarre dreams due to changes in stress and activity, sleep patterns, and pretty much every facet of my life. Long-forgotten memories resurfaced. Some nice, some bad. They appear not only when I am asleep, but often in the midst of some innocuous, everday task. Obviously, this pandemic needs to be over.

My former selves have a lot to say, and as it turns out, they have not gone far. For example: While I waited for a cup of coffee in front of my coffee maker I had a flashback to the coffee machine and its similar sound at the police academy’s cafeteria. The flashbacks of the things I did, said, and the things I wish I had said to colleagues. To the boss who could never find the stapler. Another boss who threw things and screamed at me. The job I quit too soon. The job where I stayed too long. There is a lot more where this came from, but I will leave it at that.

These memories are inside me like a matryoshka doll. The more time I spend with my past selves, the more I discover that embarrassment runs in both directions. I not only uncover old disappointments, but also old dreams. Things I wanted but was too afraid to try. My younger selves demand to know what happened, and I have no suitable response. I decided the only way out is to confront them. I began keeping a notebook. If the memories can live on paper, I thought, maybe they won’t feel the need to run around my head. Sometimes, I feel lighter. Other times, I feel like I have immortalized the very thing I wished to forget.

When writing fails me, I look around. Watch. Whenever I get too caught up in my own internal chatter, I talk to others and observe. I imagine what the people behind each mask loves, is stressed about, sad about, looking forward to. I bask in feeling both connected and blissfully, inconsequentially small. Everybody has shit to deal with. And it is interesting to hear and picture all the rooms and places these people have occupied. Where they have been. At twelve. At thirty. At fifty. Sometimes it would be nice to turn back time, albeit with the benefit of experience.

Even when it seems like the scenery is stagnant, I am subject to constant reinvention, like the annoying upgrades threatening to overtake my computer and phone. My former selves are here to keep me company because I made peace with my past. And most of the time I go about my days (and nights) without the shudder of remembrance.

So, coffee is what I will have. Here in my kitchen. Now.

.There was this Plan.

I learned yesterday the difference between three forms of actions: actions to fix, actions to win, and actions to learn. The former two are kind of the same thing in my opinion — you listen to have ammunition to make a case to be listened to. When you listen to learn I think it means your personal agenda is less relevant. In my opinion, it should be always “listen to learn” and a more humble pursuit. Oh, I deleted my Facebook account. People who want to get in touch will know how to.

All this aside: There was this plan. Then life had other ideas. I never felt comfortable with too much change at once. I cling to my routines, always wanting to be sure of what comes next. I do not resist risk wholeheartedly but I am careful. I guess it is not surprising that my choices fall safely within my comfort zone and my life unfolds as predictable as I can plan it.

But it wasn’t always like that. In fact, there were times in my life when I said yes to everything even though it felt weird and wrong. And surely enough, slowly everything fell apart, seemingly out of nowhere (didn’t pay attention to the signs), and all at once, I found myself with a broken marriage, and no job. It felt like a heavy rock had dropped right on top of my chest and left me gasping for air. I tried to ignore what was happening and pretended that nothing was wrong, but this was impossible. Then I became desperate to figure out how to fix everything, but I didn’t even know where to start. So I wrote, and writing became my coping mechanism. I started to find a sense of self as well as a sense of humor about life; with time, my persistance to change softened. I began to examine my feelings of discomfort, feelings I hadn’t been willing to look at before. In doing so, I discovered that I was able to handle difficult emotions and didn’t need to push them away anymore. Being open, no matter how uncomfortable that might be, has allowed me to grow and made my life richer and more complete.

I used to have a plan. Then this pandemic happened. Now I don’t, not really, anyway. My life may be messier than it used to be, but I have never been clearer and happier about who I am and what I want to create. This article goes out to everyone who feels they have been turned upside down and are trying to find the right way up again. I hope, this offers you comfort. Please remember, this being human business is hard work.

  • Take a break. Breathe and say: hello world, I will be right back.
  • Keep in mind: Everything can change in an instant.
  • Just lie down for a little while. Look at the ceiling and not your phone.
  • Sometimes things have to fall apart so they can fall together.
  • Dear pain, thank you for stopping me dead in my tracks and showing me what is really important. It has been educational, but you can go now. Sincerely, me.
  • The painful times, the ones we think will bury us are often the exact ones that open us up.
  • Some days are harder than others and it is okay that you are not okay.
  • You are allowed to take your time.
  • It is okay to check out for a while, just remember to check back in.
  • Don’t make permanent decisions based on temporary feelings.
  • Like the moon, we go through phases of being full and we go through phases of being hidden.

But how to stay positive when all you want to do is be negative?

  • Start with one small positive thought.
  • Some of our greatest battles are with ourselves.
  • Ask more questions.
  • You don’t have to figure it all out at once.
  • Sometimes just need to sit still and breathe.
  • Know that this too shall pass.
  • The only way out is through. And this is the part where you find out who you are.
  • Start over again. Start over again. Start over again. Keep it up.
  • Surrender. Get out of your own way. Seriously, move.
  • Unpack your feelings. If it comes let it. If it goes let it.
  • Let go to realize there was nothing there to hold on to.
  • Grow through what you go through.
  • On the other side of fear is freedom.
  • Roll with the punches. But don’t forget to fly.
  • Remember, life changes.
  • Respect where you are. It is not all bad.
  • Stay hopeful. Hope helps and eventually, everything connects.

I have no idea where I am going, but I am on my way.

Stay happy. Stay sane.

.Hold it Through the Curves.

Yay! Another lockdown is around the corner and I am tired of it. Really tired of it. Even though I see this virus with different eyes now because I caught it three weeks ago but these lockdowns make no sense to me at all anymore. I rocked through all the symtpoms more or less okay and besides being tired and a bit weak everything is fine again. When I hit rock-bottom I came up with this “get-me-sane-through-another-lockdown” list to cheer myself up. It worked.

  • Compliment others.
  • Take a compliment without justifying anything.
  • When a guest says your meat loaf looks like a giant fotball, don’t tell them that their partner is obviously gay.
  • Don’t bite your cuticles. Even when nervous.
  • Invest in quality clothing. Rather less quality items than too much cheap stuff.
  • If your white shirt has sweat stains, throw it away.
  • Take care of yourself. Don’t stink. Take showers. Get medical check-ups.
  • Rest when you are sick.
  • Get your teeth cleaned.
  • Read.
  • Join a book club. Join two.
  • Don’t tell your friends with kids that if they die, you will take care of their kids.
  • If you don’t like something someone says, say: “That’s interesting…..”
  • If you like something someone says, say: “That’s interesting!”
  • Don’t complain about your interior/exterior designers and how they messed up your 45,000 Euro kitchen or your garden design for 140,000 Euro.
  • Give flight attendants your full attention during their in-case-of-emergency take off routines. Show respect.
  • Engage strangers while waiting in line.
  • Don’t reprimand people who call you sweetheart.
  • Accept it: you are too old to drink more than two glasses of wine and sleep comfortably through the night.
  • Enjoy when bouncers still ask you for your ID.
  • When your partner is in the bathroom, don’t knock on or talk to them through the closed bathroom door.
  • When a person doesn’t get your reference, don’t repeat, “Oh, just kiss my ass!” with the hope that they will.
  • Listen to erotic audiobook when you scrub the bathroom floor and gangsta rap while cleaning the windows.
  • Don’t worry about anything too much or too long.
  • Get involved in a holistic, healthy lifestyle and ask me how to get started.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Ask your friend who is a shrink if you should see a shrink.
  • Look at yourself in the mirror. It is you. Smile.
  • Don’t use face-filter apps on social media. Or ever.
  • You are unhappy in your relationship? Change. Stop complaining.
  • Make love to your partner. If this doesn’t sound like a good idea, figure out why not. Then change.
  • Clean your apartment/house like you have never cleaned an apartment/house before.
  • Consider that step of buying a house instead of renting.
  • Learn that life is more fun when you are loose.
  • Take Pilates, hot Yoga, and give yourself a hug.
  • No need to wear Lululemon Yoga pants for 150 Euro.
  • Don’t say “you are busy” or “you are working on something” or “you have poor internet connection” if you just don’t want to talk to someone.
  • Rather buy from an independent bookstore than the big “A”.
  • Make love to your partner when they say, “It is your money. Do whatever you want with it.”
  • Make love to your partner when they say, “I will cook dinner tonight, do the laundry, run you a hot bath while I take the kids to bed. Do you want a glass of wine and some dark chocolate?”
  • Don’t lie. Obviously.
  • Develop a signature look which says: I have good taste. I am clean. I am confident. You can trust me. People will know and feel if you are fake!
  • Don’t get lonely when your partner is not around.
  • There is nothing wrong with having nice things but don’t get in crazy debt.
  • Learn how to fix things in the house.
  • Don’t be lazy. Don’t cut corners. Don’t slack. Don’t infringe. Don’t be a slob.
  • Listen to others. Stay calm.
  • Oh, in case you forgot: Stop complaining.
  • Be part of the solution, not the problem.
  • If someone moves to make room for you, take up more room.
  • If someone sneezes or coughs, run.
  • If you don’t want someone to leave, sit on their suitcase.
  • Even though you can take care of yourself, it is okay to let someone be nice to you.
  • It is fine to take a nap on the laundry.
  • If you stand in the kitchen long enough, someone will feed you.
  • Just because it is gorgeous outside doesn’t mean you have to go outside.
  • Just because you can fit into something tight doesn’t mean you should.
  • If you want to be left alone, say so.
  • If you want to surprise someone, lie in a bathtub and then jerk back the curtains when they sit on the toilet.
  • Eat cheese with the refrigerator door open so it counts as a light snack and not a three-thousand-calories-cry for help.
  • Clean your bedside table from empty mugs and wineglasses, and any ChapStick-rimmed glass of stale water with cat hair floating in it. Wait, you don’t even have a cat.
  • Make a cup of tea that’s a thousand degrees too hot and forget to drink it until it is cold.
  • Say that you are going to go for a walk in the crisp, cold air on a Saturday morning and then it suddenly being nighttime without you even having put on pants.

Sounds good to you? Then we are compatible. Stay happy. Stay healthy.

.Everyday Life as a German in Austria.

As a German, life in Austria is not always easy. You want to get to know Austria, especially Vienna, better? Bear with me because there are plenty of wonders in store. Naive as I was, I moved to Vienna expecting to be welcomed with open arms. “I speak the same language and we are neighbors. Germans love Austrians and love to travel to Austria to hike”, I thought. Far from it, as it turned out. After a rather sobering first couple of weeks harsh reality came in the form of a hot, black and bitter drink, known as coffee. Everyone knows what is meant by this. Everyone has the smell in their nose and the picture in their head. Well, except the Viennese. “I would like a coffee, please, “I said to the grumpy looking waiter at Café Ritter (Kaffeehaus) in front of me. “Of course you do”, he replied annoyed. Questioning glances were exchanged between us. “What does ‘Mohr im Hemd’ on the menu even mean”, I wondered. “What kind of coffee would you like?” he eventually asked me, followed by an endless list of coffee variations. Whereupon my face immediately took on the shape of a question mark: “What is happening to me? Well, just a normal black coffee, please.” The waiter rolled his eyes, snorted “Piefke” and shortly afterwards, I had a tiny espresso in front of me and a glass of water. As a German, living the Viennese dream of lingering in coffee houses is a quite difficult task, but with the understanding for Vienna, at some point also came the understanding of coffee. And somehow, since then, it also tastes different!

Some day I was standing in a line in front of a shop; because everything was taking so long, I started a conversation with the others who were waiting. With my accent, the Austrians in front of me noticed right away that I was German. At which another woman in line asked if I could please start a Piefke-insurgency to get things moving.

At the Würstelstand: Don’t ever order like this: “Guten Tag. Ein Würstchen bitte, ein Brötchen, und ein Bier. Haben Sie eine Tüte?” I was banned from the Würstelstand for three months.

Austrians cannot say “No”. I suggested an idea to an Austrian colleague, who says, “Interesting idea. Let’s look at this,” – but what he means is, “I am going to leave it on my desk and do nothing – at least not right away.” But I think I have got a go ahead, will make a to-do-list, and start setting up the files – while the Austrian was far from decisive, but didn’t wan to say “no” directly.

Austrians cannot accept “No”. At the museum: Museum guard tells an Austrian woman to please carry her backpack in front rather than on her back. The woman says, “okay”, puts the backpack in front and as soon as the guard leaves moves it back on her back rolling her eyes calling him an asshole.

Do not speak up anywhere. As a German, you are supposed to watch and see the dynamic and gradually find a place for yourself. And after a while, when you have been “accepted”, only then you can say what you have to say. This definitely takes longer than in Germany. Don’t ever give Austrians the feeling that Germans can get things done better, faster, more efficient, smarter, etc. You get the point.

Me at he bakery: “Two rolls, please.” I then heard the saleswomen ask, “Which two would you like?” I still hear that question sometimes to this day, and I think it is an incredible luxury to be able to choose exactly the two rolls, exactly the piece of bacon, exactly that plucked chicken that you want. Just as you can order 3 or 13 Dekas of salami as a topping for your roll. Or 150 Dekas ham while the saleswoman stares at me with her eyes wide open asking her colleague if there is more ham in the back. Then, the typcial eyeroll.

My first Heurigen (epic outdoor/indoor-wine-garden where you can eat and drink liters of wine) visit: Can you please tell me what all the items on the “Wurstplatte” are in German language. Huge mistake. But ask me where the best Heurigen are and I will let you know.

Austrian words that grind my gears:

  • Ordination = Sprechstunde – visiting hours at a doctor’s office
  • urgiert = dringend – urgent
  • Schuach = Schuhe – shoes
  • neich = neu – new
  • es schneibt = es schneit – it is snowing
  • es flankerlt = es schneit etwas – tiny snowflakes are coming down from the sky

Funny things to say:

  • Eh’ = ??? – ???
  • Na sicher = Sicher – Sure
  • Geh’ bitte! = Echt? – ???
  • Der futile Hawara pudert ois, was eam üban Weg rennt = Dieser Typ ist nur auf Sex aus und nutzt jede Gelegenheit, die sich bietet- This guy f***s everything
  • Du bist a urndlicha Wappla = Du bist ein Idiot – You are an idiot
  • Ur wichtig = Sehr wichtig. – Very important
  • Schauts, die Heh’ is do = Die Polizei ist hier – The police is present
  • A Kieberer is ka Hawara = Der Polizist ist kein Freund – The police officer is not your friend
  • Heast, Gscheader, foa weida, des is a Strossn und ka Ocka! Heit bin i zu den Gscheadn ausse gfoan, Wein kaufen.” = Hören Sie, Landbewohner, fahren Sie weiter, dies it eine Strasse und kein Acker! Heute begab ich mich zu den Bauern, um Wein zu kaufen.” – I drove out of the city to buy some wine from a farmer
  • Wos Sie da sogn, is a aufglegta Schas! = Sie reden gequirlte Scheisse! – You are talking bullshit.
  • Ma, der Trottl geht ma om Zaga. = Der Idiot geth mir so auf den Wecker. – He is getting on my nerves)
  • Vazupf di, owa schnö! = Geh weg, aber schnell. – Get lost immediately

Overall, and how to make your life easier in Austria, just be on time, speak German (at least try), be polite, get a Dirndl/Lederhose, enjoy coffee and cake (not Starbucks, go to a Kaffeehaus), ignore the Viennese attitude (many are very grumpy), listen to Falco, learn to drink white wine like a pro, call tomatoes “Paradeiser“, do not tell Austrians that they are like Germans, and end a conversation with Baba, Servus, but not Tschüss. Then you should be save.

.Love in my Thirties.

The older we get, the more baggage we carry. When I dated at twenty-five, I walked into the bar with a very neat, light carry-on. Inside you might find a couple of ex-boyfriends, a mild Oedipal complex or maybe even a slight fear of commitment. When I dated from thirty onwards, it is just natural to meet someone with a 250 kg of backpack absolutely brimming with history and children and houses that half belong to an ex; and dying parents and years of therapy and problems with addiction and jobs that take up all of their time and ex-partners they still have to see once a week because of a custody-battle. It can be daunting, serious, intense, grown-up and not very fun.

The older I get, the more baggage I carry, but the more honest, open and vulnerable I allow myself to be. In 2019, after my divorce, I officially declared it nearly impossible to meet a romantic partner in real life. But I also did not want to. Accepting this is crucial in realising I am not unapproachable or undesirable or doing anything wrong. I can acknowledge my bad patterns of behaviour in relationships. I can analyse how they developed. I can do the work to make sure I never behave like that again. But that is all I will ever be able to control. I cannot predict (or at least not all the time) how another person is going to behave in a relationship. I can risk-assess, I can be cautious, I can make sensible decisions about who I choose to trust and invite into my life and heart. But I cannot manage the unruly variable of another living, breathing being. To choose to love is to take a risk. Always. That’s why it is called falling in love. Head over heels sometimes.

It is so, so hard not to feel betrayal and let be put down by love and turn that into nihilism, scepticism or anger. But cynicism, while funny and self-protecting, is very easy. Finding trust, sustaining hope – that is the real artform. One of the hardest things about getting older and being in love is knowing when something is just reality and when it is too much hard work. Identifying what the quiet, joyful but often challenging sensation of long-time love is and identifying what’s just become a pain in the arse, is where I have to rally sharpen my instincts. After the divorce I promised myself to free up some space in my mind and schedule and see what life is like without being in a relationship. Being single and all the changes I have been through (moving to another country to name just one) made being single feel so peaceful, the thought of returning to the land of the loving started to feel impossible. Later, I realized that only shared interests are one of the most misguided considering factors when choosing a partner. Deciding that someone is a good person, or my soulmate, or made of exactly the same stuff as I simply because my partner and I both love to listen to Bob Dylan is ridiculous. Enjoying reading books and collecting them will not help me to weather the various unexpected storms of life together.

To me, a much underrated and incredibly simple considering factor when it comes to choosing a partner is how much love he can give. Since many of my friends are still with their partners and have at least one child, I have watched how they operate as couples. It became even more apparent the importance on how well we work as a team. I need to be really good friends with my partner to begin with. I am not wise when it comes to relationships but I believe I am never immune to romance. And lust is a silent disco. It allows me to dance and get lost in a song no one else can hear if I choose to. I try not to judge other people’s relationships and the way they conduct them. To each its own. Longterm romantic love is a feat. People should do it in the exact way that works for them, even if it doesn’t make sense to others on the outside.

Love should be about aligning my life with another person, not a place of make-believe. It should be a person I can escape to. Where I always feel good, am the star of the show and unquestioningly adored while giving all this back to my partner.

An old pro/con list of reason to have a partner. I found it in my online diary. Too funny.

Reasons to a have a partner:

  • More likely to get a proper birthday cake
  • Access to Amazon Prime
  • Something to talk about
  • Someone to speak to in the evening
  • Sunday afternoons cuddles on the couch
  • More sympathy when you do something really wrong at work
  • Someone who touches my butt in the queue for anything
  • Holidays together
  • Reading together
  • Sometimes I cannot manage a whole large pizza to myself
  • Might have a car
  • Might own an apartment/house
  • Might have money so when there will be a huge wedding at a castle, all my female friends who will be invited can wear fancy hats
  • Nice to make sandwiches or cook for someone other than myself
  • Nice to think about someone other than yourself
  • Regular sex isn’t that weird
  • Warmer bed and cuddles
  • Everyone else seems to have a partner, too
  • If I have one, people will think I am lovable
  • If I don’t have one, people will think I am shallow and dysfunctional
  • The relief of not having to flirt with people
  • Fear of dying alone, the void etc.
  • Feeling whole with the right partner

Reasons not to have a partner:

  • More laundry
  • Debates/arguments
  • They probably won’t like nightly mask-and nail polish rituals
  • They definitely won’t like Dirty Dancing because they cannot dance like Johnny
  • They might be in love with your dishwasher that you never use
  • They might be cleaning freaks
  • They might turn out as hoarders and collectors of weird stuff
  • They might have crazy ideas like purchasing forty typewriters to then later sell but your apartment will turn into a storage unit
  • They might leave tea bags all over the apartment
  • Being told what you did the night before when you were drunk
  • Having to watch any life or television sports

So, when you are looking for love and it seems like you might not ever find it, remember you probably have access to an abundance of it already, maybe just not the romantic kind. This kind of love might not kiss you in the rain or propose marriage. But it will listen to you, inspire and restore you. It will hold you when you cry, celebrate when you are happy and sing with you when you are drunk. You have so much to gain and learn from this kind of love. You can carry it with you for ever. Keep it as close to you as you can. And whenever your gut tells you, he is the one, hold on to this person and float away together.