Friday, 29 July 2016

Drinks and Sleeping With the Enemy

It is almost the weekend! I cannot wait! This week hasn't been super hectic and yet I have procrastinated slightly. I know I should be going over my business plan and revising some figures. I know this. Do I do this? No. One friend pointed out the other day "I saw you were making bracelets for your center... how's the business plan coming along?" Dammit! He caught me! Damn social media and my incessant need to update people ALL THE TIME on EVERY LITTLE THING I DO! Just be grateful I wasn't on Instagram when the Kid was born. There would have been a ridiculous amount of pictures of the Kid sleeping and farting. I will get some work done this weekend and hopefully in a week or two, I will start sending off a preview of my business plan to ministries. Fingers crossed.

On Wednesday I met some friends in the afternoon at Fassldippler. They were kind enough to come out to my hood to try out a great little craft beer place around the corner from my place. I showed up at 4 and told them I had only 2 hours to get loaded. I am classy. I had to leave just after six and I said "I have to head home now and get the Kid ready for bed. Then I am going to watch The Real Housewives of New York." one friend said "Real Housewives of New York? You are better than that." and I responded with "No, no I am not."  It was a great couple of hours hanging out in the summer afternoon and drinking beer. And I am definitely looking forward to a repeat and this time I will stay longer and most definitely my dinosaur impression will come out. Remind me, guys. But only after my second beer.

When I got home, the Husband headed out and the Kid and I hung out and watched cartoons. At 8 I put him to bed but I was not expecting him to go ape-shit banana crazy on me. He was NOT READY FOR BED and he screamed and yelled. It was a mini fit and thank goodness for the earlier beer because I was too relaxed and too tired to be a parent and make him stay in his room. Instead, I put on Sleeping With the Enemy and let the Kid lie down on the sofa beside me. I covered his eyes and ears at the first hitting scene, whispering "Men never ever hit woman. They can think about it when they discover you tried to flush meatballs down the toilet but never ever raise a hand to another person." and then he promptly passed out. Pick your battles. I forgot how awesome that film is and how Julia Roberts used to not bug me. Brown Eyed Girl continues to be my favourite song because of this film and I do not have brown eyes but the scene in which it plays was like my dream date at 12. Stage, fake snow, clothes, cute guy. Now that I am older, I am actually a lot more chill. Give me a drink and tell me I'm pretty (extra points if Brown Eyed Girl is playing) and I will act like I was jetted off to Paris in the springtime for a weekend at the George V hotel. Low maintenance kind of gal... mostly.

Thursday morning I took the Kid to therapy and unfortunately the therapist never showed up. We waited about 10 minutes and then headed to his kindergarten. Meh, he got to take a couple of bus rides and that made him happy. I dropped him off and went to work. In the evening I headed home, made some dinner and when the Kid and the Husband got back from the playground, we ate. Around 8, I headed out for a run and decided to try my own type of interval training... which basically meant running like a madman to songs like "Raise your glass" and "Wrecking Ball" and then walking in between songs, trying not to die. I had taken the extra set of keys because my key chain weighs at least 4 kilos. I came to the front door and for some reason my key would not work. I tried and I tried and I texted the Husband to let me in. I saw that the neighbour from downstairs was coming through the park and coming my way and I wrote another panicky text. Nada. I buzzed the bell reluctantly... but I was dry heaving and I did not want to talk to our neighbour. Again, no response. And then she stood beside me and I explained that my key didn't work and then she started to tell me all about the new lock and I wanted to die. She stopped and finally noticed that I was drenched and she asked "Were you on a run?" and my sarcasm skills in German had died because I really wanted to say "No, I just like to stand on the front step, sweating, for fun." but I just nodded yes and thanked her for letting me in. The Husband finally pressed the buzzer but too little too late, buddy. And when I walked into the apartment, he was snappy because the Kid woke up a little bit when I rang the bell. Well, excuse me for being socially awkward! I took a bath and then crawled into bed with a trashy historical romance novel because deep deep deep down inside, I am a hopeless romantic. Go ahead, judge me.

This morning I put on my favourite kaftan (hiding my shame) and made my way to work. I went for coffee with a friend and as we stepped onto the elevator, we both noticed a very good looking gentleman. She was sly enough to see his name on his badge and then we giggled like school girls and told Office Twin all about him and he just rolled his eyes. I went into full on stalker mode and found the guy on the Internet and I may or may not know where he lives now. Yes! I still got it! I haven't randomly stalked someone in a long, long time and it is good to know that I still have some mad detective skillz.

Anyway, another quiet weekend awaits. I am looking forward to chillaxing and shooting some b-ball outside of the school. Ten points if you got that. Have a fabulous rest of your Friday!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Stayed at Home Today

Hello Wednesday! I stayed home today because our nanny had some good and scary news and couldn't come in the afternoon. She is in our thoughts and prayers! Our awesome nanny has been with us for over 4 years and is part of our family: we would be lost without her! She has struggled alongside us through the bad times and has seen how much the Kid has developed and has celebrated all the small milestones with us. We are so grateful to have her in our lives!!! Usually I would have gone to work for a half day but the Kid's sleeping habits have been craptastic (for lack of better term). I think it has a lot to do with my trip a couple of weeks ago. I think he is going through some post-traumatic stress and is just making sure Slave Number One is still around for snuggles and chocolate bribes. I was going to make some Ike and Tina joke but realized that is totally inappropriate. Like that has ever stopped me before.

The last 5 nights he has been sneaking out of his room at bedtime at least a dozen times. Now, he loves bedtime. He craves bedtime. He asks for bedtime and usually our spiel is: lights out, some milk, sit beside him for 5 minutes while secretly checking Instagram (I AM NOT A PERFECT MOTHER, OK!?!?) and then exiting quietly. But not lately. On Monday night he came out at least 20 times and we got up and chased him back to his room. He started giggling which is what every parent loves to hear when they are pissed off. Don't poke the bear, Kiddo. He finally nodded off at 10 after we had hit our Fitbit record. We went to bed and then at 2, he came storming into our room. The Husband took him back. The Kid came back. I took him back. The Kid came back. It was like some Cronenberg Benny Hill skit. Dark and not really comical. Finally on the 5th time, the Husband yelled "Es REICHT!" and then I yelled "DON'T YELL AT HIM IN GERMAN!! YOU SOUND LIKE THE GESTAPO!" and the Husband said "YOU YELLED AT HIM!!" and I countered with "I HAVE A MELODIC AND LOVELY VOICE, DAMMIT!" Yay! Parenting at its best!

The Kid finally fell asleep at 4 but then awoke at 6 and nobody was happy Tuesday morning. As expected, the Kid fell asleep in the kindergarten so we knew he would not be falling asleep until at least 10 which really very long story short for why I took the whole day off since after dropping him off later than usual, I would have to be back in time to pick him up at 1. So what did I do with my 4 hours of freedom? I napped a little. Did a little laundry. And watched Real Housewives of New York. Gosh, it has gone downhill. It was such an epic show back in the day. And Bethenny Frankel... why you so mean? I loved you. I was rooting for you! You have millions! An apartment in New York and a house in the Hamptons! Dammit, woman, be nice! Sorry, I like to think that reality TV stars can hear me through the screen.

At 1, I put on a bra and clothes that don't have swear words on them and walked to the Kindergarten. Boy, was the Kid excited to see me! It was like he couldn't believe I was actually there and it probably looked like he never sees me. Working mom guilt thought #1585: not spending enough time with your kids that they lose their shit when you are where they never see you. I put on his shoes (couldn't find the ones I brought him in and I truly hope I didn't take some other kid's crocs. Oh, just texted the Husband a picture of the crocs and he responded, they are the Kid's. Thank God.) and I put on his helmet and he got on his bike and back to the apartment we went. He kept looking up at me with a smile and I absolutely melted. I like working. I like having a job. But moments like these are AWESOME!

In other news, I am firmly back into the running thing again. I started my interval training on Monday and it felt amazing. And when I say running I mean that if I were in any city other than Vienna, a concerned citizen would have pulled over and asked me if I needed an Epi pen. Last night I met a friend at the Beaver Brewing Company. I had a couple small beers and a portion of sweet potato fries. The night ended earlier than expected so I headed home and decided to put on my sneakers and take another run. I love running on a summer evening in Vienna. The city is almost magical and takes on this different feel: almost Italian but not quite. My run finished faster than I expected and I headed home to take a shower and watch the Husband try to chase the Kid down to go to bed. Bless. This afternoon the Husband is coming home for a couple of hours so that I can meet a couple of friends for a drink at Fassldippler. Then I will go home and try and make the Kid run laps so that he passes out at 8 so that I can crawl into bed and watch more reality TV since I will be home alone tonight. And fingers crossed for a good old fashioned storm because hopeless romantic.

I don't have any other plans for the rest of the week since I have a lot of work to do. I am hoping we can take a small day trip with the Kid on the weekend. Unfortunately it will have to be by bus since he is now terrified of the train station. Frustrating but that's life. My kingdom for a car with a driver. And a new Chanel purse. And a new nose. But we are lucky that we can still take the bus and tram and that on most days he is an absolute delight. So there's that. And, before I end this post, a big thank you to L.S. for the random e-mail she sent me. She wrote me a really lovely message about how this blog cheers her up and she called me beautiful (an nobody ever has ever truly called me beautiful) so she might have to check her eyes for glaucoma. I care about my readers. It was a lovely thing to read and it totally made my day, so thank you L.S.! I usually get e-mails from princes in Nigeria. Hey... I wonder if they have a car with a driver? I should write them back. Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

In the Newspaper, a Little Rant and the Night Run Again

Stop the presses! Or actually, RUN THE PRESSES! I was in the Salzburger Nachrichten! Thanks to a friend, I was interviewed to be part of an article in a newspaper. She wrote me and said "A friend of mine is journalist for the Salzburger Nachrichten and she is doing a piece on foreigners..." and I wrote "I'M A FOREIGNER!" and well, that was settled. I did a phone interview which was difficult because I'm better in person because I gesture a lot... sometimes inappropriately. Some friends have started turning their back when talking to me because of some of the gestures I do. I am doing one now. They would be disappointed in me. Anyway, yesterday we took a walk to Karlsplatz and I grabbed the last Salzburger Nachrichten and felt very Carrie Bradshaw. It was a big paper so I couldn't do the whole, shaking it open trick and looking at the picture of myself in the shop. That would have been obnoxious... but I would have still done it. So exciting!!!

The great thing was that I could do a small plug about the autism center so that was great! Speaking of autism... the Husband was at the playground with the Kid yesterday as is their weekend tradition. I was supposed to do some at-home yoga but I got sucked into the abyss that is the Taylor Swift Tom Hiddleston relationship and sat at my laptop for an hour, eating popcorn. It's PR gold, folks! When they returned, the Husband said "I just met a family who have an autistic son about Raphael's age!" and I said "Really?!" and he said "Yes. The boy goes to the same kindergarten as Raphael!" and then I said "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!" I'm a delicate and eloquent swan. The other child has been going there for a year. The Kid is at an integration kindergarten which pretty much means that out of 20 kids in a classroom, 2 have special needs. There are about 60 kids in total in the daycare (I have never witnessed 60 kids ever) so that would mean that there are approximately 6 children with special needs. Now, I'm not a math kind of gal but I think that it would be pretty effing obvious that if there were two children out of 6 with autism, perhaps... just maybe... they could have TOLD US! The thing is, is when your child is diagnosed with autism (and in our case, he regressed so we had 2 years of "normal" development), you feel like someone has stabbed you in the heart a million times. Your dreams are destroyed and your future is dim and you pretty much want to jump off a building and life is freaking unfair and you want to crawl into bed and never ever leave, but as time goes by, you deal just a little bit better with it (save for the time you drank too much at a fancy diplomatic party and then went for more drinks with friends and the topic was Nature vs. Nurture. No bueno.) It doesn't help when people don't understand or refuse to realize that you just can't go somewhere at the drop of a hat or assume you are exaggerating when you say you can't go to a kid-friendly show. It's hurtful when people with kids try to assure that their kids also have meltdowns (I know that tantrums suck big time but they are also completely different from an autism meltdown. Trust me. I have scars.) I'm lucky that the people I have in my life are incredibly empathetic and do their best to help out and that when I say we can't make it, they don't hold it against us and for that I am eternally grateful (Note: Thanks J.B. and K.D. for understanding that we can't make it today :) Have a present for J.B. We will talk.). But what is so key to parents of children with autism, besides evidence-based therapy and not re-birthing, is to have a community of other parents who know what you are going through. And that is why I am a little ranty because COME ON!

So long story short, I believe that perhaps we should have been introduced through the kindergarten. But what do I know... It's not like I run an autism page of Facebook which is also about creating a community for parents dealing with autism. Oh wait. OK. I feel better. Rant over. I don't hold grudges so by tomorrow, the anger will be over. I don't believe in holding on to anger. Sure, certain things I will stew over for a long long time. But I usually end up finding the positive in every craptastic thing that has happened to me. One of my favourite quotes is "He who angers me, controls me." Revenge is dumb and sucks you dry... but there is nothing wrong with sometimes daydreaming about it once in a while.

I also get a lot more worked up if I am not getting my exercise. I'm like a toddler on a rainy day. My energy needs to be released somehow and one of the best ways is for me to get a lot of exercise. Otherwise my energy gets poured into melting cheese and/or online shopping. So I have decided that I will do the Night Run again this September. It's a 5K and I did it last year and I almost died which probably had a little to do with the pizza I ate before the race. Maybe. Perhaps. That was the wrong way to carb load. I printed out the training sheet I did last year when I trained for the Frauenlauf and as of tomorrow morning, I am hitting the pavement. Gah! 9 weeks to go! Real runners be like "training for the 5 K is like training to go grocery shopping on a Monday morning". Heh. I also need to bring back the Yoga. I was definitely a lot more zen when I did the 30 day challenge a few months ago and if I can just aim to do at least 15 minutes of yoga a day (hopefully more but that might cut into my drinking time), I will feel a lot better. So spandex is out and at the ready for my first trot tomorrow. Wish me luck! And do not look out of your windows at 6 a.m. 4-5th districters.

I need to tweak my Beacon Beach House business plan a little the next week or so. Once the Husband translates it, I will start to hit up ministries and companies interested in giving me the monies. If you are a company and want a therapy room named after your company, call me... we can work something out. Unless your company's name is Hitler Inc. I have also decided to work on some prototype merchandise for the center. Since it is a beach theme, I am making nautical jewelry and then will introduce sweatshirts and t-shirts and totes. A friend is currently working on my logo and I cannot wait to present that! It is beachy and fun! Sidenote: I am totally having a Point Break viewing at a fundraising event at some point in the future. ONE OF THE BEST FILMS OF ALL TIME!

I don't have too many plans this week. A quick drink Monday afternoon with a friend and then drinks and dinner on Tuesday. Otherwise I am trying to keep my schedule open in case something pops up and also to try and not O.D. on cocktails. In other news, my blog views have kind of exploded the last few days. I had over 1,600 views from Russia over the week. Again, I must ask, am I big in Russia? If so, AWESOME! This happened a few months ago so I need to research the posts getting the most hits and make sure I didn't say anything inappropriate which could lead to some international incident. Oh! I totally forgot to mention that I met the Ambassador of San Marino a couple of weeks ago. This was before the wine so I did not make a stupid joke like "San Marino, eh? Are you also their Olympic gymnast coach and bus driver? Cause you are a small country? Get it? Har. Har. Har." Sigh. Small blessings. Anyway, I wish you all a fantastic Sunday still! I am looking forward to getting back on track (running, get it? Track. I am on fire!) tomorrow and to having a productive week. Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Canada Trip Breakdown Part Deux

I wanted to finish up this post a couple of days ago but the Kid got sick and I wasn't able to. He had a cold and seems to be on the mend. He also is going through some post-separation anxiety... on Wednesday night, he kept bringing me back to the sofa to sit beside him. It was adorable. I am back at work and still fighting a bit of the jet lag but by Monday I should be back to my old self! This past week involved some catch up and errands: Monday afternoon I met a friend for drinks. Tuesday I stayed home with the Kid and then the Nanny came and I went for a walk around town and then met a friend for drinks and dinner. When we met she said "We are not drinking a lot tonight." and I nodded in agreement and then we acted like sailors during fleet week.

But it was a hilarious evening so the pain I felt on Wednesday morning was worth it... kind of. I went for a spray tan in the afternoon (Oompa Loompa) and then met a friend for drinks and to eat myself into a coma. I headed home after purchasing more pots (I am planting shit) and the Kid and I hung out, ordered pizza and after I put him to bed, I watched Back to the Future II. Yes. Amazing! Thursday I was back at work and then the Husband and I met for a quick drink at a neat little craft beer place around the corner called Fassldippler. We headed home, I made a salad (I know, I don't know what is wrong with me) and grilled halloumi with ciabatta. I have decided to avoid packaged food for a while and make good and (somewhat) healthy meals. We will see how long this lasts. The Kid was of course overjoyed to see us... and by that I mean he looked up and nodded at us when we walked in. Friday I went to work and then in the afternoon, stopped by to see my friends K.P. and D.P. who just had twin girls. Oh newborns!! My heart! Itty bitty babies who I held and snuggled and tried to fit one into my purse. Since having the Kid, babies are like crack to me and that is a terrible sentence. Of course I get a little bit broody but then I realize that I can still bend over and pick up shit unlike when I was pregnant. It was lovely to see the little girls! I headed home and made spaghetti carbonara, watched some TV with the Husband and cried about the attack in Munich. The world has gone mad. So after that long introduction, here is part deux of my Canadian trip!

I arrived Sunday afternoon in our nation's capital on a train. Very Mr. Smith goes to Washington... I think.. but I never saw it but I have a thing for Jimmy Stewart. So hoooootttt. Anyway, I stepped off the train and was greeted by my mom and dad and my sister and her husband and their son and daughter (her other daughter was at sailing camp). It was lovely to see my fam after such a long time. My parents loaded me up in their car: no booster seat for this gal, and we made our way to their new house. When I say house, I mean ESTATE. It's like something from Dallas. I kept expecting J.R. to come around the corner and say "I know who shot me!" Bless.

It is on the Ottawa river and the garden is the stuff of dreams. A gazebo at the end of the property is a perfect place to drink the alcohol and enjoy the breeze. The house is lovely and there is a MOTHERLOVIN POOL! I was smitten. We ate dinner, drank wine and sat around the table that doubles as a fire pit. Glad I didn't wear hairpray that night. I woke up ridiculously early and decided to check out the neighbourhood. The houses are all so unique and gorgeous and it is like being in cottage country. I spied a red cardinal and thought "Oh! Hello little bird!" and then saw a squirrel frolicking in a front yard and thought "Oh! Hello little squirrel!". I walked along the shore and saw ducks and geese and thought "Oh! Hello birds!" and then as I walked down another road, I spied a fox cross in front of me and thought "Oh! Fox! Maybe I should head back slowly." and I turned back to the house and saw what I thought was a bear and in my head said "Oh HELL NO!"  and let me just say that I ran like the wind.

By the way, it wasn't a bear. It was a garbage bag. I would be the first one voted off the island. I spent a relaxing day at the house, swam a little and hung out with my sister and niece and nephew and my parents. The next day was much of the same and my sister and her two kids came by again and a Facebook friend, A.W. who has known my mom forever was in town and stopped by. The world is small! It was a lovely summer afternoon and I was actually quite happy to not do a bazillion things which I usually do all.the.freaking.time. My mom and I watched America's Got Talent that night and she is in love with Howie Mandel and I get it. I, however, have a soft spot for Simon Cowell but I think that's because he is rich and a bit of a jerk. My celebrity crushes are usually jerky guys while in real life, I hate jerky guys so I wonder what that means... Analyze that! Wednesday afternoon my friend G.G. (who lives in Vienna and was in Ottawa at the same time) came by with her friend D.M. for some swimming. We drank wine, talked and acted like we were part of the cast of 90210: the Later Years. Around 4:30, we jumped into D.M.'s car and he drove us into town. Lack of public transportation kills me! We met with G.G. and D.M.'s friends at the James Street Pub. It was great to meet them and we had a long long discussion about the song "Blinded by the Light" A few of us believed that the chorus was "Blinded by the light! Wrapped up like a douche in the middle of the night." which by all accounts, makes sense. But, after some good old fashioned Googling, turns out that it was written by Bruce Springsteen using a rhyming dictionary... I shit you not...that's a thought. Hey, I'm a songwriter! So there's a little interesting music trivia for you and no, the word "douche" is actually "deuce". Whoops!

I looked over the menu and saw "Corn dog" and mulled it over. I said to the table "I have never ever had a corn dog. Should I order one?" and the reaction was the same as if someone were to ask "Should I use protection with this woman who is 25 years younger than I am and I just told her that I am a millionaire?" So I ordered it. And I was sadly disappointed. It was a hot dog bathed in beer batter but it was too greasy (I know, I feel like I might have hit my head) and now I am sad. Maybe one day I will have a corn dog that fulfills me. One day. At 9:30 I bade farewell and waited for my dad to pick me up. Fastest way to feel young again, my friends! Twas a fun night.

The next day my mom made fabulous Dim Sum for an early lunch and then midday, my dad drove me downtown and I checked out the Rideau Center. You have changed strange mall, you have changed. I bought an adult onesie because I'm married and I don't have to look hot in the winter. I walked to my sister's place in the afternoon and helped out by babysitting her awesome kids for a couple of hours. They are truly lovely kids and I had a great time hanging out with them. My sister came home with a babysitter (I think that had been pre-arranged unless you pick up babysitters like groceries in Ottawa) and we went out for drinks and dinner and had a really great time catching up and talking. One of the biggest downsides of living in Vienna is being so far from my family and it hit me hard while I was visiting. We had a really fun night and we walked back home at a reasonable hour.

I was supposed to meet an old friend from Vienna, B.Q. We met back in the 90's and she now lives in Ottawa. Unfortunately we couldn't meet up but hopefully next time I am in town we will make a date. And this is a shout out to her sister C.B. who apparently reads my blog! Awesome! Thank you for reading, C.B.! My mom's birthday was the next day so we picked up some food and a cake (Salted chocolate caramel cake, you are the best cake of them all) and then went over to my parents' place. My brother was there with his girlfriend and it was great to see him again! We did a little swimming and talked and then my sister came back with her third child and her husband and we ate a great dinner she had prepared, sang Happy Birthday to my mom and it was just great! My sister and her family headed home and then my brother and his girlfriend and I were driven to the main street of the village of Aylmer which actually looks like the set of Gilmore Girls. The three of us ordered beer at the British Pub (in Quebec) and talked and drank and again I was sad to not be able to do this more often.

I was up at 5 the next morning because I had to catch a train back to Toronto for my flight. I said an emotional good bye to my mom and my dad drove me and picked up my sister and one of her daughters who was heading to camp on the same day. We arrived at the train station and I said good bye to my dad and more tears. The three of us boarded the train and ate bagels and enjoyed the countryside view. At Belleville my niece got off and was greeted by her grandparents. I cried. She's awesome. My sister and I arrived in Toronto just after 11 and I stored my suitcase and we decided to go to Springrolls which is where we used to go back in da day. I stupidly ordered the All you Can Eat. Not stupid because the food was awesome but stupid because I felt like I was going to pop the rest of the afternoon. My sister and I walked around and then we said good bye and surprise, I cried. I caught the train and made my way to Pearson airport where I walked around for a good half hour with my dress buttons open. I had no idea that I had flashed half the airport and I wanted to hide in the bathroom and curl up into fetal position, but alas, it was time to board. The plane took off and I saw the CN Tower in the distance. Adieu Canada! I love you. And I will be back hopefully soon. It was wonderful to see my family and to be surrounded by kind hearted people and to be able to speak the language like the native I am. It was a bitter sweet trip because I know how much more help we would get for the Kid in Canada. But that is why I have to step up and make the changes here for a better future for the Kid and for others with autism. It is go-time and I have a lot to do for the Beacon Beach House. I am excited to continue the process and I cannot wait to take the next step. Today is sadly the 2 year anniversary since my dear friend D.K's husband passed. She is one of the strongest people I know and I am honoured to call her my friend. Tonight I will raise a glass in your memory C.K. You were loved.

I wish you all a great day and hug your loved ones because you never know what life will throw you next.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Canada Trip Breakdown Part One

Cannot believe I am back in Vienna! What a whirlwind trip! I am so happy that I was able to do it and I am not doing another 4 years of no Canada. On this trip, I realized that Canada is still such a huge part of my identity and makes up so much of who I am. I spent most my life living abroad but Canada is in my blood and, wow, do I have a crush. I forgot how incredibly friendly people are. Not, that kind of friendly because of customer service skills, but real salt of the Earth kindness. I also noticed that Canadians don't like awkward silences. THEY MUST FILL THE SILENCE! I had countless conversations in the hotel elevators:

Random stranger (after I have pressed the button for my floor): Oh, there's a thirteenth floor?
Me: Yup!
R.S.: That's interesting. 13 is my lucky number.
Me: Mine too!
R.S: Oh wow!
Me: Mmmmhmmm.

Random stranger 2: Where you visiting from?
Me: Vienna, Austria.
R.S. 2: Oh? I used to live in Baden Baden!
Me: Oh wow!

Thank God it was a fast elevator because I probably would have ended up becoming besties with these people. One of my friends confided in me that she doesn't take the elevator at work anymore because she doesn't want to chit chat. I find that endearingly hilarious. And I say this as someone who will wait at the door until our neighbours leave so I don't have to chit chat either. Awkwardness. And, might I add that yes, Canadians say sorry A LOT! Like, all the time! And I love it.

My 4 days in Toronto were absolutely amazing. The Royal York hotel is fabulous and I spent a lot of time restraining myself from shouting "I'M DAISY BUCHANAN, BITCHES!" every time I walked through the lobby. It's a fabulous hotel from the twenties and I classed up the joint by wearing my Blue Jays t-shirt.

I slept, I ate and I checked out different neighbourhoods. I cried thinking of my life in Toronto and realizing how much I missed certain aspects of my Canadian life. I also cried at the prices of alcohol. On Thursday night I met a friend I had met in Vienna earlier this year. She was running a little late so I told her I would meet her at the Library Bar which is in the Royal York. I walked up to the hostess and asked for a table for 1. She asked for my name and room number and then said "Michael will serve you in a few minutes." Michael the waiter showed up and placed a drinks menu in front of me and my eyes searched for the cheapest drink. A pint of beer cost 9.50 before tax and a small piece of me died. I was offered a newspaper and I accepted happily because woman drinking in a hotel bar alone with newspaper looks less prostitute-like. I drank my beer and soon realized a drunken argument was taking place at the bar. There was a dermatology convention happening at the hotel and these two doctors were tanked and pissed off and I tried to figure out what they were fighting about. I like to think they were arguing about melanoma but who knows. A couple of minutes later, a drunk fifty-something year old doctor stumbled over to my table and said "Hey there, can I buy you a drink?" I politely declined and then went onto Facebook and updated my status to tell people I had been picked up. Now, I have spent the last few years feeling like a troll in Vienna. Like somehow I belong under a bridge, peddling crack. Getting picked up in Vienna is RARE! But, in Canada, open hunting season. I could not believe it! I am not the Elephant Man! Huzzah!

My friend E.S. showed up soon after and we went to Queen Street for some drinks and food. We shared poutine at the Friar and had a great view of the CN Tower. Around 11 it was time for me to pass out and we walked through the warm Toronto night back to Union Station. Such a fab time! I spent most of Friday swimming in the hotel pool "I'm Daisy Buchanan, BITCHES!" and then got dressed to meet my old friend from Trinity College, C.F. I decided to once again check out the Library Bar. When I walked up, the hostess from the night before said "Welcome back, Ms. Marr." and I felt so fancy. I was shown to a table and Michael took my order for another 9.50 pint of beer. Two women were talking and one exclaimed "He only sleeps with Asian women!" and I was in such a happy place. My friend C.F. showed up and we did the whole happy dance hugging thing and she ordered a glass of wine and we chatted. After our drinks, we walked up Bay Street to Gabardine. She had made reservations and it is a lovely restaurant. I ordered Mac and Cheese because I am the boss of me. We shared a bottle of rose and caught up and I squealed hearing all about her recent proposal. SHE IS GETTING MAWWIED! I also invited myself to her wedding so it looks like I will be back in Toronto next May! YES! After dinner we ordered cocktails and our friend A.M. showed up. I coincidentally met up with A.M. in Vienna a few weeks earlier when he was here for a conference. We paid our bill and then walked to the Friar. I am a creature of habit. We sat on the patio and at one point the waiter came out.

Waiter: Hey guys, just to let you know, there is a storm warning in effect.
Me: Oh. That is so sweet of you to warn us.
Waiter: Um. Actually, it is more to tell you that you can't bring your drinks in. I have to do it for you.
Me: What?
Waiter: The front door is public property so, as guests, you can't transport alcohol into the bar.
Me: WHAT?!?! BAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh Canadian liquor laws!!

Yeah, I was amused. The rain started, and we left our drinks on the patio so that they could be transported for us. We ordered some more drinks and the 3 of us talked and laughed. It was pretty wonderful. Around 11:00, my friend C.F. had to catch her bus and I walked with her to Union Station after we said good bye to A.M. We were buzzed and we spent the 20 minute walk talking about how much we missed each other and how much fun it was to see each other again. There is something truly awesome about old friendships and seeing that even as an angsty teen, I had awesome taste in friends. We hugged good bye and I went back to my hotel where I watched an episode of Cops because AWESOME! Saturday morning I woke up and definitely felt a little delicate. I had plans to meet a friend for a trip to the Beaches. K.K. who I met only this past winter in New York. She is an old friend of a friend of mine and she is studying in Toronto for a few months. We met in the lobby and made our way to the 501 streetcar as I tried not to keel over and die from the copious amounts of booze from the night before. After a 30 minute ride, we arrived at the beginning of the Beaches. The Beaches is one of my favourite places in Toronto and if we ever moved back and we had a lot of money, we would totally live there. We walked down the "Main Street" and then turned down the street that my sister used to live on. Oh the nostalgia! K.K. had never been to the Beaches and when we hit the actual beach, she realized why I love it. We took off our shoes and walked in the sand and talked and by 1, we were ready for lunch. We stopped at the Beacher cafe and sat on the patio. We ordered burgers and sangria (hair of the dog) and it was just absolutely lovely. We ate too much and I groaned when I stood up, so we got some coffee to go, walked a little more on the beach and then headed back to the city. It was truly an awesome Toronto day and made my heart hurt a little more. I love Toronto so very much. I was done-o by the evening so I got some take out and went up to my room for some TV watching and a good night's sleep.

Saturday was my last morning in the city and I had some time to kill before my train to Ottawa. I walked down to Harbour Front and took pictures and tried not to sob. Being in Toronto was amazing and while it has changed, it still has the heart that defines it. It's a bustling city with high rises and Jays fans and every type of restaurant you could imagine. The people are incredibly kind and chatty and there is an ease to being a native speaker of the language. I missed Toronto but didn't realize just how much I did until I came back. Sure, it's the summer and had I visited in January, I might have felt differently as my snot froze and I slipped on ice. But boy, is Toronto just an amazing place!

I will wrap this post up now because otherwise this would turn into a novel. I will add part deux of my trip in a day or two, titled: Ottawa, Adventures In. It is great to be back home and thank goodness I took some days off this week. My jetlag is bad and I am glad past Tova realized present Tova would have probably ended up stapling her hand to the desk had she gone straight to work this morning. I missed the Kid so much and he seemed pretty happy to see me. There was a lot of hugging and snuggling yesterday and this morning taking him to kindergarten was a joy. Today I will do some work (article editing and Autism stuff) and then in the afternoon I will do some shopping and then meet a friend for afternoon drinks. Affordable afternoon drinks. I wish you all a fabulous day!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Back in the Great White North

Hard to believe that I am back in Canada! I am in Toronto and it has been 9 long years since I was in this awesome town. This is going to be a short-ish post because a) I'm a little jet-lagged and b) going to go and get me an affordable mani and pedi soon. Woot! Yesterday morning I headed to the Vienna airport (many many tears were shed when I said good bye to the Kid. He just high fived me and turned back to his stories). I told friends at work on Tuesday that I had ordered a car at 8 for my 10:35 flight. She, who shall not be named, S.R. (yes, named you) said "WHAT?!?! THAT'S TOO LATE!" and then I started to hyperventilate because I am one of those people who likes to get to the airport super early. This time I decided to not be so safe and booked my car for 8. Well, I was more than on time, S.R. I even got bored! And, unlike what you said, I did not move up the pick-up time! Ha! Victory is mine!

Sigh. Hollow victory. The Vienna airport is ridiculously efficient. What I will never ever understand is why people dress like Mr. T when they go flying. They show up at security all like "So, I'm going to keep this WWE championship belt on, ok?" UGH! Why do you not know this?!?! I get a little twitchy. I always get a little nervous about who my seatmate is going to be and when I got on the plane, I found out I was seated beside an elderly Canadian gentleman. He thought I didn't speak English so there was no interaction. I may or may not have continued this charade throughout the flight when I talked to the flight attendants in German. Don't judge me! I wanted a quiet flight. I watched Hail Ceasar, 500 Days of Summer (adorable) and Something's Gotta Give (watched it before, still great!). I binged on New Girl and read a little. As we started to land, the pilot told us that our landing would be delayed since there was a plane that needed assistance. I hope by assistance they meant that the plane had been dumped by their douche boyfriend and needed Ben and Jerry's Cookie Dough ice cream stat. After about 5 minutes of circling the airport, we finally landed. And by the way, Mr. Pilot, next time this sort of thing happens, you don't have to announce it. I don't need to know this. Landing 5 minutes later than planned is not going to set off any panic in me. Telling me that we can't land because a plan needs help, no bueno.

We landed and people clapped and I jumped off the plane and headed to immigration. I was so ready to walk up to an officer and proudly throw down my Canadian passport and say "I'M BACK!" but no, things have changed. Customs now involves a type of self check in for Canadians and Americans. As I stood in line, a woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said "OMG! Where did you get your pink laptop bag?! I LOVE IT!" and I laughed and laughed. I knew I was officially back in Canada. Random compliments, I missed you. After I "checked in" to Canada, I walked up with my declaration form and my passport. I handed it to an officer and she looked over it. She asked "You don't live in Canada?" and I got really excited because I was all ready to chat "No, I live in Vienna, Austria..." and I waited for the whole "So what do you do there?" but she just nodded and let me go to baggage claim. Sigh. My luggage came quickly and I headed to the train to take me into town. Now, I am a taxi kind of girl (snob) but I found out that as of last year, Toronto Airport added an express train that goes right downtown. Twelve dollars one way and only taking 25 minutes, DON'T MIND IF I DO! I jumped onto the (air conditioned) train and 25 minutes later, arrived at Union Station. I totally teared up when I walked onto Front Street and saw the Royal York Hotel. I crossed the street and walked up to the hotel. A bellman took my suitcase and directed me to reception. I usually refuse this service but there were stairs and I was tired and treat yoself.

Check in took 2 minutes and I made my way to my room on the 13th floor. It's a nice room and while the view is not the best, I'm happy it's quiet, clean and plush. I put on the Portugal-Wales game and a few minutes later, a bellman showed up with my suitcase. He was chatty and lovely and we even spent a few minutes watching the game together. He warned me not to go down any alleys late at night and I promised him I would do my best not to. My whoring days are far behind me. He was lovely and I thanked him for offering to get me a bottle of wine from the LCBO. I got changed and headed out for walk in the hot summer day. I completely forgot how incredibly busy Toronto is. After so many years of European living, I realize that I am so much slower. There's this crazy pulse to this city that I realize was what got me hooked to it in my teens. Now, as a mom and needing fiber, I am ok with Vienna's slower pace. But boy, did I miss this city. People are so incredibly nice and I have heard the word "sorry" dozens of times. One woman even apologized for walking through the doorway before me. As I walked around, I realized how much this city has changed. The condos are out of control! And most of my favourite places have closed down so that was a little sad. But what hasn't changed is the niceness and the awesome multiculturalism. I missed that. After a 3 hour walk, I picked up some wine and a pizza from Pizza Pizza (tradition) and headed back to the hotel and watched Big Brother and relaxed, falling asleep just after 10. Classay.

This morning I woke up at 4 and dozed off and on until about 7 when my mom called. We chatted for a few minutes and then I put on Breakfast Television and decided to tweet  Kevin Frankish (long time host of the show) that I was back in Toronto after 9 years. He retweeted my tweet with a "WELCOME BACK!" and that literally made my day. Then about 20 minutes later, he was talking to his co-hosts and said "I just got a tweet from a Tova Marr saying she is back in Toronto after 9 years. Let's welcome her back" and the two other hosts said "Welcome back!" and I squealed like a teenage girl! I jumped up and down and clapped and I hope I never stop getting excited about things. What a moment! So now I am watching a show called "Escaping Polygamy" and drinking my Tim Horton's coffee and soon I will head out for my mani and pedi. Soon. Wow, I said this was going to be a short post but obviously I lied: not very Canadian of me. I hope you all have a fabulous day! Greetings, eh!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

See you in a Week, Canada

Deepest apologies for not writing for over a week. It has been a crazy week and I have barely had time to catch up on celebrity gossip and that is criminal. Last week I went to the opera, had a craptastic meeting at the daycare, and took another test at work. Thursday night I was supposed to work later but luckily that didn't happen so a friend, Office Twin and I decided to have cocktails and dinner in the 1st. We left work just before 6 and stopped at Pickwicks since we had a couple of hours until our dinner reservation at 8. It was happy hour. We had mojitos. We had too many mojitos. And then we walked through the city to the fabulous Da Capo for wine and pizza and lots and lots of laughs. The fact that we weren't asked to be quiet is a testament to the lovely staff at Da Capo... or perhaps, since they are Italian, thought we were charming. We weren't. After an amazing dinner, we walked back through the city and tried to out-trivia each other... well, Office Twin and I battled. I would say I won. Because I did.

The next day I went to work and in the afternoon, rushed home for a couple of hours of alone time since the Kid was at the In laws. I had plans to git stuff done... but I didn't. Instead I watched Pretty Little Liars on the sofa and dozed and felt incredibly guilty about it. I will never change. By the way, Pretty Little Liars would have been my ultimate favourite show EVER as a teenager. I totally would have dressed like Lucy Hale if Hot Topic had existed in Moscow. Sigh. Teenager shows are THE BEST!

Saturday I hung out with the Kid and worked on the Beacon Beach House business plan. I have been procrastinating for weeks. It was crunch time. I put on my thinking cap (sparkly tiara) and worked through it slowly. Tomorrow is my finance meeting to go through it and I am almost done. I have calculated sales projections, cash flows and income based on different occupancy rates. I've come up with cunning plans to get money and none of them involve me getting nekkid. Amazing. Fingers crossed the guy tomorrow doesn't look at my 20 page report and say "You are delusional." Once I get the seal of approval (oh please oh please), the Husband will translate it and then, once I am back from Canada, I will start spamming ministries and companies and pretty much anyone who has money to burn.

On Saturday afternoon, I met my friend G.G. and we headed to a friend's bbq out in H├╝tteldorf. Being city girls, we opted for a taxi after reaching the end line of the U4. It was 35 degrees out and my self tanner was in danger of streaking. We showed up around 5:30 and walked up to a house. We opened the door and walked in. We weren't sure if we were in the right place and had our doubts when we walked into the backyard and many kids were running around and people just stared at us in silence. I was about to say "Have you found Jesus?" but luckily we spotted our host and we knew we were in the right place. It was a lovely evening with sausages, sekt and a slight breeze. We met some new people and by 8, we were ready to head back to the city to watch the football match  (read: drink more wine). We stopped at Vita e Bella, ordered some red wine and watched a bachelorette party from the sidelines. This was a big affair. The bride, in a yellow dress, dangerously close to suffering a wardrobe malfunction, danced with some of her friends, while other friends looked ticked to be sitting in an overheated wine bar, listening to Enrique Iglesias. Turns out, the bride had already had a civil ceremony the week before and this was her Vienna bachelorette party and then in August she was having another one in her hometown and then after that, having the church wedding finally. Summer of the Bride. No wonder half her friends seemed to hate her. I am totally projecting right now.

G.G. and I sang along to Dolly Parton, fanned ourselves in the heat and talked about her birthday in September. My God I hope she does what she was thinking about doing because it will be EPIC! Around 11 we were wined out and hawt and we said good night and I walked back home in the warm summer night. Just as I walked into the apartment, the wind kicked up and then the storm hit and it was a perfect end to a great evening. Sunday the Kid was in a bit of a mood so we spent most of the day at home... which was fine by us because football was on and I couldn't be assed to put on a bra. Monday was a normal day at work and in the afternoon, I met a therapist who had expressed interest in the center. It was a nice talk and I am buoyed by the fact that not only are parents interested, but specialists too. Tuesday morning was an early start and I had plans Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately they fell through but I was able to make some last minute plans. I met a friend at a bar near her work for a couple of Hugos. We caught up as fast as we could before she had to head to a meeting. At 5:30 I headed to the Beaver Brewing Company for dinner and met my friend H.B. We had a couple of hours to catch up and then I headed home to work out and pass out. It was one of those great random Vienna evenings that I love so very much. Speaking of Vienna evenings, tomorrow I am going to the Canadian Ambassador's residence for a Canada Day celebration. A friend was kind enough to make me his date for the evening and I plan to behave... maybe. A group of friends will be there and I have no doubt we will have a blast. I attended the Canada Day party two years ago and it.was.amazing. Actually, the party was fine... we.were.amazing.

I should slowly end this post. The Kid is in bed and I am about to work out. After that I have to work on my business plan, fix an article I wrote and then crawl into bed and read a trashy romance novel about pirates. Perfection. Before I sign off, I am excited to say that in exactly one week from today, I will be heading to TORONTO! I haven't been to Canada in 4 years and I haven't been back to Toronto in over 9 years. I am ABSOLUTELY SO INCREDIBLY EXCITED! I booked 4 nights by myself at the Fairmont Royal York (partner hotel of the Plaza and yes, treat yoself) and here is a little trip down memory lane. Back when I was 17 and cute, I was living in Moscow. Between my Junior and Senior year of high school, my parents sent me to Toronto to check out the University of Toronto to see if it would be a good fit. My sister lived in Toronto at the time and the plan was for me to stay with her for a few days. My flight arrived in Montreal and I caught a train to Toronto. I arrived around 8 in the evening and walked out of Union Station. I was blown away by the skyscrapers and the people and the taxis. I was hooked. I looked across the street and saw the Royal York Hotel and I promised myself that one day I would stay there... and well... that dream is coming true next week. That trip to Toronto in 1998 was incredible. I remember my sister picking me up that evening. She wore a suit and we drove to the Beaches where she had a cute bachelor apartment. She was Amanda Woodward from Melrose Place, she was living the life I assumed every 20 something year old had and I couldn't wait to start my life in Toronto a year later.

But fate is funny and I did not end up in a marketing firm in Toronto, wearing short skirts and worrying if a deranged doctor would blow up my apartment building. No, now I am living in Vienna. I love living here and I can't imagine living anywhere else. But Toronto will always be special to me. 9 years ago, when I was last in Toronto, my life was so very different. So much has changed. I have a beautiful son and my life is taking a route I never ever thought it would take. I have changed and for the better. These past couple of years has made me stronger, a little harder, sometimes cynical and yet more optimistic and maybe even a little bit kinder. I see life as a wonderful gift and even though there are days I wish I could stay in bed forever, I know how lucky I am to live the life I live. Autism has changed my life forever and I am actually grateful for that. The struggles I, and the Husband, have gone through have been the most difficult thing we have experienced but one thing is for sure... I wouldn't change a thing. So maybe staying at the Royal York, the hotel palace I dreamed of staying in almost 20 years ago, is the right way to celebrate all that has happened. And, yes, ok, I am a snob. I wish you all a fantastic evening and I promise to not let another week go by without a post. Toodles!