Archive for October, 2007

Too much too suddenly too at the same time

I’m sorry I’ve been so totally out of touch. It’s this Murphy’s Law thing. For me that consists of new job + new flat + starting a German course + insecurities about what my friends in Edinburgh are doing which will result in them moving out of our flat + more travel lined up in the next two months than I’ve done all year + still teaching English and Norwegian and — and — now all we need is an untimely pregnancy and a puppy and we’re away!


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So, we’ve been looking for somewhere new for a while now. Quite a few months. There are various references to this search both on the blog and around the rest of my web-page. The biggest problem has pretty much been that the letting agents here demand the equivalent of 3 months rent as a fee, and the prospective tenant has to pay this. In addition to a standard 3 month deposit to the landlord. Plus VAT. And though you’re at least meant to get the deposit back eventually, the agency fee is money sucked into an enormous black hole never to be seen or heard of again. So even though I’ve seen lots of nice flats, I’ve not been able to rid myself of this feeling that going via an agent is nothing more than throwing money at people who really don’t deserve it – and I really, really don’t want to give my hard-earned money to blood-suckers. Which is all they are. The bastards.

So we’ve done what so many people here do; we’ve spread the word of our search to friends in the hope that someone, somewhere, somehow, would be able to point us to a private let. I have lots of stories of the horrors of this too, but I’ll cut several long stories short and just let you know that we finally found a place via friends. Kevin has not yet seen it – he’s working two jobs at the moment and only comes home to sleep so he’s trusting me blindly when I say that the place has running hot and cold water and that the toilet is only shared with the people on the one floor.

Initially we had problems contacting the landlady; there were e-mails not being received, phones not answered and various other things, and this led to the landlady, who does not live in Vienna, wanting me to meet her sister, who does. To be vetted. Which is part of a sister’s job description, as we all know. So eventually her sister and I talked and agreed to meet in one of Vienna’s nicest cafés, Café Sperl, on Saturday. Saturday morning she rang and asked me if I wanted to go to a design fair with her and a friend instead. I did not feel I could turn her down, so we met at the exhibit, which was called Blickfang (Eye Catcher) near Stubentor, and which turned out to be a sales fair and that’s just dangerous for someone like me. My saving grace was that most of the exhibitors only accepted cash and I was sensible enough to only go to the nearest cash machine once…

I can’t show you what I bought for my dad as he sometimes reads this blog and it would totally ruin the surprise for him, so that will just have to wait until Christmas. For me I bought a rather odd little ‘picture frame’; a glass ball with a flat side where you mount a round little picture which then gets magnified by the thick glass in front of it. It can be hung on the wall, but I plan to keep it on my desk at work as a letter weight with a picture of Kevin in it. And for Kevin – and here I feel totally safe as he NEVER reads this blog, I bought a book of stunning pictures of dogs. Mongrels. All of them. (And if you know Kevin and reads this SHUT UP or I will have to carve you up and serve you to — actually, I can’t think of anyone to serve you to but I promise it will be nasty.)

I actually had a really nice time with my new landlady’s sister and her friend, and totally loved the exhibition, but I must admit it’s been one of the stranger vetting processes I’ve been through in my flat hunt here. And I did have a glass of wine which went straight to my head and then I babbled about how gorgeous Kevin is and – please, someone! take me out and shoot me! I even showed her, and her friend, two pictures of Kevin that I keep on my mobile just because I can do that with my new mobile and that’s just so cool and… why do I have these meltdowns??

If our new landlady gets cold feet and decide to back out I have only myself to blame.

Here are a few pictures of some of the gorgeous stuff at the exhibition:

Folding Chair

This folding chair folds completely flat. The designer, Dieter Paul, also makes other stylish folding chairs and I want them. But having not-too-much money I didn’t even dare ask about the price…


Here’s the sobriety test part of the exhibit. From wine decanters to shot glasses, they all have these pointed bottoms. Before I left the table I set all of them in motion and they were twirling merrily away for quite a while… If only my mother had been there. She would have joined in or I’m not her daughter.

Alternative Tennis Balls

The slightly less overpriced bit; recycled tennis balls. Only €8… how about a drill, a Stanley knife and some DIY skills?

With suction cups on one side and smiley mouth on the other, they provided quite a firm grip for a towel or a pen or whatever. The designer, Peter Freund (name translation; Peter Friend; web-page; friendly inventions) had various other things too, among them the glass ball picture frame I got.

Alternative Tie

The fashion bit was upstairs, but I totally lack an interest in fashion and got bored almost immediately. However, as an ardent opposer to pointless pieces of clothing such as the tie, I thought this tie presented a nice twist on a dull theme. I have no idea who the designer is, but if you too are a hater of ties and have been loaded down with them – take a pair of scissors to them and see what you can come up with. This version was zipped up at the front and brought out the child in The Sister who couldn’t resist pulling down this man’s zip… A tip for how to make a tie sexy…?

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In the Face of Temptation

So, I started my new job today. As not everything was ready for My Coming I was sent home early with a magazine under my arm and suitable homework. Unfortunately, the route home goes across Mariahilfer Straße, Vienna’s main and best shopping street. I suddenly found myself wearing a new pair of jeans and I have no idea how that happened!

This could prove detrimental to my already shaky economy. What if every time I cross that street something else wonderful attaches itself to my magnetic body, causing money to flow over the sides of my pockets…?

And in the other direction from my new office is Nashmarkt which sports all sorts of expensive delicacies. I have no way of avoiding temptation. My temptation resistance is rubbery at the best of times, how am I going to fare when in the vicinity of such wonderful goods for many hours every day? How do people COPE??

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David Sim – again!

Well well well… here goes another story about Scotland’s biggest cowboy! I’ve written about our experience with this guy and his company before, and I can honestly say; if you want to crush this guy’s kneecaps – and his friends’ – YOU HAVE MY BLESSING!

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Total Exhaustion

Am I the number one victim of Murphy’s Law? I doubt it, but these days it sure feels like it. Everything happens at the same time and the mere thought of sorting things out sends me scuttling for my duvet and a comforting cup of tea. Except today, because today I have been playing with my new mobile phone which has kept my mind firmly occupied with ring-tones and the Wonders of Bluetooth. Right up until I discovered that one of my Chopin CDs has disappeared, and that just had my insides melting in a heap because on just that one CD is the piece of music that I want to use as my ring-tone! Life’s just not fair! And I can’t accuse Kevin of having taken it as it is Chopin, and he is not interested if the CD doesn’t contain the soothing voice of a beautiful female jazz singer. I hate it when I’ve only got myself to blame.

But the CD may resurface when we move. Yes, we’re moving. I hope. I’m still having major doubts about the whole project, especially as it will increase our rent considerably, but the need for somewhere with a kitchen and a little more storage space is by now overwhelming and so it had to be done. We’ve been looking for somewhere for months, but renting via a letting agency is not an option as they demand 3 months’ provision – which is money pretty much flushed down the loo as far as I’m concerned. I actually went to the length of asking my present landlord if he had another slightly larger flat available in the same building. He offered me a huge luxury flat next to some embassy for the very reasonable sum of €1500… an increase in our rent of 150%… I wonder what part of ‘not more than €700‘ and ‘same building‘ he didn’t hear. I also love the way he shouts at me when he thinks I don’t understand him. I thought that was a British thing this lack of ability to realise that shouting the same phrases over and over does not enhance understanding.

The next thing is that the job I didn’t get? I got it after all. So now I’m starting in a new job at the same time as we’re trying to sort out the move. And no, the wages from the new job will not afford me a €1500 apartment in the embassy district, in case you were wondering.

But just to top things off I’ve finally got my act together to dig up a German course which runs twice a week in the evening. So now… now I’m just sitting here wondering where to start and if I will ever find the time to breathe again. This may not be a good time to get a dog.

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The Sports Connection

When I met Kevin he was a truly welcome change from my ex. The ex was a man who demanded quality time whenever we were together, which simply meant we quickly ran out of things to talk about and we had an awfully boring time of it. Kevin, on the other hand, was a mixture of both of my parents in one – yes, that’s dreadfully Freudian, but stay with me here; he had my mother’s wonderful sense of humour and my father’s kindness, the type of kindness which works like a magnet on furry four-footed creatures. And me.

And he had another major thing about him which is oh-so-Freudian if there ever was Freudian; he was a total sports fanatic. (Did I mention that I was born during a handball match? Dad nearly shoved a big cork up my mum to postpone the birth.) After 2 years of being with someone who demanded 100% of my attention every second we spent together the contrast to someone with his ear permanently glued to Radio 5’s every sports broadcast was such a relief I nearly cried.

Now, 14 years later, the first thing that happens in the morning is that Kevin turns on the computer and logs in to BBC where Radio 5 Live is streamed over the net. He has bought an audio transmitter which is plugged into the speaker outlet, and this broadcasts on a particular frequency that can be picked up by the many little radios he has dotted around our tiny flat. That way he Won’t Miss a Single Word. Of the cricket… which is like listening to paint dry. And. Just. As. Fascinating.

Sometimes he changes over to 5 Live Sports Extra to add to the excitement, and occasionally, when one of those two can’t broadcast a match of some kind ‘due to contractual reasons’ he logs on to TalkSport.net, which is just so exciting I nearly wee myself with the expectation of another evening well spent.

I don’t really have a problem with any of this. As mentioned, it was a welcome relief to the tension of Everlasting Quality Time with the ex, and my ability to let anything to do with sports gently flow through my mind to pour out both ears without leaving as much as a trace was perfected in early childhood (see Freud). The part I struggle with are the extra noises. The ones he makes when Hamilton wins a Formula 1 race, Wilkinson gets that ball between the posts, West Ham loses or he insists that I watch because Rossi has just won again and he knows that I think he’s cute. That may be so, but I’m old enough to be his mother! And that was all I said – he’s cute. As is Thierry Henry, but that’s pretty much the extent of my interest. Unless he’s on screen all the time, wearing less rather than more, smiling that incredibly cute smile of his – I don’t care!

Thing is, Kevin has never been into those guys’ nights out watching a match at the pub while drinking lots of beer and being very loud. He’s just not that type. And he wants me there when he occasionally does go to one of the awful Irish theme-pubs which show the games live to the slightly lost and homesick ex-pat population of Vienna. And that’s kinda nice. He doesn’t like going out without me. And I don’t like going out without him.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I wish he would.

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With Bated Breath for Burma

With the last hellish video smuggled out of Burma the tension rises again, and not just inside the country. I’ve been feeling really down lately; I thought the whole protest was about to die out and we would once again find the country hermetically sealed with only the odd rumour of death and destruction coming out at irregular intervals. And… well… the whole depressing situation happened to coincide with my period which always leads me into a personal hell for 2-3 days, a hell where everything is black, nothing is fun, humour is a ‘Fremdenwort’ and everybody‘s irritating. And Kevin is jumpy. Poor man. He should have found a more even-tempered wife without (un)predictable hormone swings.

Anyway; we may find that the worst is yet to come in Burma. So for the next few days I shall be wearing red and checking the internet and any newscast nervously for what’s going on in the region and hope! hope and hope that the junta finally goes and we may soon see the early days of democracy in Burma under the leadership of their rightful Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi.

If you’re not with me – you’re against me!

I’m gonna teach my English students to say that, I think. And stand to attention. Now, that could be fun…

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