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!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

A Night at the Opera and then a Shot to the Heart

I sometimes feel like I am in some type of Telenovela. Like it's my big wedding day and then BOOM! dead ex fiance shows up and knocks over the wedding cake. There are good days and there are bad days and sometimes I wish I could just Joan Collins it and call it a night.

On Sunday we decided to take the Kid to the Museums Quartier. He was already a bit grumpy and we ignored it and that was our first mistake. He demanded that we bring his stroller (which is rare) and then we should have decided against our walk, which was our second mistake. There were red flags flying and we were like "Nope, can't see those." We let him sit in his stroller and made our way to the tram stop. He was a little kvetchy but we got on the tram (obviously we have death wish). I took him out of his stroller so he could sit on my lap and then he freaked. I quickly told the Husband to press the button and at the next stop we exited. We put him back in his stroller as he screamed bloody murder and quickly got off the tram. He wanted to walk so we let him and then he didn't want to take my hand and tried to break into some palace grounds we walked by. Kid, I get it, I try that too. It took us a while but we got him to the park and once at the playground, he was back to his cheerful self. At one point I did not lift with the knees and when I picked him up, I felt my back seize up. I pulled a muscle and told the Husband I had to go lie down. I minced back home and ended up spending a couple of hours on the sofa, feeling very sorry for myself. Of course, I had a drink date with a friend so I found the motivation to roll onto my stomach and hoist myself up and walk down the street.

Standing and sitting and lying down were not the issue, but moving to those various positions was incredibly painful. At night, I popped some codeine and put on a heat pack. Monday morning I was still in pain but by the afternoon, the pain had gotten a little better. I made my way to work and by 4:30, I was ready to call it a day because I had plans. Big, huge plans! My friend K.P. had invited me as her date to opening night at the Staatsoper of Manon Lescaut. Her husband, David Pershall had a starring role alongside Anna Netrebko. She did not have to ask me twice! And how was the show? UNBELIEVABLE! I love Puccini anyway but seeing it performed by Netrebko, mind blown. And seeing a friend perform in it? MIND BLOWN!

I will try and do a recap in a few days but let me just say that this was one of the BEST performances I have seen at the Staatsoper. Netrebko is otherworldly. Not only is she gorgeous but her voice... my God her voice! I literally started crying the minute she started singing and did not stop until the end. She also has such physicality that you are transported into her world. I want to cry again. Not only was she amazing but David rocked it! I have seen him in Madame Butterfly (my favourite opera) and the Barber of Seville, but his performance last night blew my socks off. The guy is only 30 and is singing with Anna Netrebko and holding his own. I was blown away. Watch this space. And I am not saying this just because he is buddy... the audience called out "Bravo!" at the end and the Viennese know opera. Forty years from now, I will be in some fabulous retirement home, being fanned by cabana boys and I will tell my paid friends all about the time I knew David Pershall before he banned me from seeing his wife because I convinced her to buy several Chanel purses as an "investment". Heh.


So thank you K.P. for the ticket! And one day you will also sing at my third wedding to a French Count. Moving on...This morning we had a meeting with the kindergarten to discuss potty training. We are about to start potty training again (may God have mercy on our souls). We did this a couple of years ago and I almost doused the Kid in Holy Water to exorcise whatever demon possessed our child. Now he should be ready but I have fashioned a cross out of an old Malm bookcase from Ikea so we should be covered. Anyway, we showed up at 8, sat down in the impossibly small Oompa Loompa chairs that seem to only accommodate one butt cheek at a time, and our meeting started. Now, usually our meetings are KICK ASS! They rave about how much he has developed. We lie about what we feed him (mostly toast and cake) and by the end we all walk away feeling good. Well, this morning did not go as planned. We chatted briefly and then one of his providers asked us where we were on the school registration for next Fall. We mentioned that we had had a couple of meetings and then we would start looking at intergration schools. Without batting an eyelash, one provider said "Oh no, he will be attending a special needs school." to which I responded with "Um no. No he won't". And she said "He isn't cognitive enough for a normal school." and at that point I almost started crying. I stuttered "There is no way we are sending him to a special needs school!" and she said "Well, we are going to recommend to the school board he attends one." and at that point I almost stood up and stormed out. And then she added "As parents, you know that a special needs school would be best for him, right?" Ah! Parental guilt! Nice try lady. I'm Jewish. We have 5,000 years of practice doling this out. Pretty sure Moses' mom was all "You don't call, you don't write..."

I won't lie, I saw red. I was PISSED. And also unable to find the correct German term for "I will cut you." I took a deep breath and in my scary voice said "It is against the law to force parents to send their children to special needs school." (thank you for the information from last week's craptastic meeting) and she shrugged and said "True. But..." and I put my hand on the table and said "Right." and that discussion was over. I have never shown angry Tova at the kindergarten. It doesn't come out very often in normal life. In fact, even in the face of bad service I say "If it's not too much trouble..." and so on and so forth. But when it comes to my son. No, I've changed. And I am angry. The meeting didn't last much longer. They raved about how much he has developed and I wanted to scream "AND YET YOU DON'T THINK HE CAN ATTEND A NORMAL SCHOOL?!" Look, it kills me that I can't talk to my son about what he likes and how his day was. And it kills me that we can't do "normal" things. But I wouldn't trade him for the world. I also realize that he has special needs and needs additional support... but isolating him is not the solution. So now we have yet another battle on our hands. What frustrates me the most is that we still have 14 months until he starts school. He is 5. He is in a crazy developmental phase. Literally anything could happen in the next 14 months and to basically write him off... unacceptable.

And this is why I feel like my life is a little soap opery sometimes. Where's my damn martini and who's face can I throw it into? I want to thank EVERYBODY for the support. It takes a village to raise a Tova and for that, I am eternally grateful. Now if only Anna Netrebko would call me so we could be besties. Da?

Sunday, 19 June 2016

A Day Off and the Concordia Ball

Happy Sunday and Happy Father's Day to all the great fathers out there! We celebrated Father's Day here last week since it was the Austrian one. Hope you all get a chance to go to the bathroom in peace this special day! It is one of those weird Vienna weather days. June is always a little touch and go on the continent. One minute you could be wearing a parka and the next, you are stripping down to your tank top, cursing not having shaved. We are still undecided about what we are going to do today. We could a) convince the Kid it is too gross to go outside b) take him for a walk around the neighbourhood and then convince him that it is too gross to stay outside or c) take a tram ride and get him a chocolate croissant. So many exciting options. In the afternoon I will meet my friend D.K. for a couple of drinks and then I have to hit the step machine.

This past week has not been a great diet and exercise week. I did so well (I originally wrote "yell" and that works too) on the Fit Into Ball Dress challenge but alas, I did not end up fitting into the ball dress. It almost zipped up... almost. Instead, I wore an oversized coral dress that made me look like I was playing dress up. More on that in a bit. In 2 and a half weeks I will be flying to Canada. It would be great to drop a couple of pounds because I know I will be gaining a couple of pounds in poutine, dim sum and Ice Caps. Today I am concentrating on smoothies and light eating because my body is like "Dude? What the hell?!"

Thursday I worked a half day. Originally I had an important meeting but it was cancelled so I was happy to be able to stop by a friend's place. We sat on her balcony and drank wine and ate cheese (this is why my body hates me). It was so nice to enjoy the sun and the windstorm (Vienna is windy, folks). After that, I jumped on the tram and made my way to meet a friend at the Beaver Brewing Company. We ordered beer and food and caught up. She told me about a yoga retreat in Croatia she went on and I was jealous. I love Croatia and have spent many glorious holidays there. Miss it! It was a nice night and we were joined by a friend and we talked a lot about Murder She Wrote because the show is awesome. But me thinks Sheriff Metzger is in need of early retirement. The amount of false arrests? Dude! I caught a taxi around 11:30 and once I got home, fell into a deep and contented sleep. I had Friday off and it was the first time in a very very long time that I had absolutely no plans. And I did what I never do... I napped and watched TV and napped some more. In the afternoon I bought some costume jewelry at Claire's (classy) and then took a bath and at 5, my very talented make up artist came by. I asked for a loose updo and beachy make up. She did a fabulous job as always. Unfortunately I was in the "I am a hideous and fat sea creature" mode. Feeling stressed and like the Elephant Man, I called a cab and made my way to the fabulous French bistro called Variation Bistro next to the Rathaus.

I greeted my friends, whined that I looked terrible in my too-big dress and ordered some prosecco. We had a great meal and just after 9, made our way to the beautiful neo-Gothic Rathaus. We walked up the steps to the Festsaal, took our seats and watched the opening ceremony. The theme was Cuban and they had about 6 dancers come out and do salsa and cha cha and all the debutantes and cavaliers were lined up and it looked like a bizarre scene from Bring it On. After the ceremony we all went downstairs, to the fairy tale courtyard, secured a table, bought mojitos and then the night was on! I danced a little, talked a lot and actually did not drink very much. I would like to say that this is because I am a mature adult but in fact, the line for the drinks took FOREVER! At 2, professional dancers took the stage and suddenly the courtyard turned into an all inclusive resort. There's nothing quite like seeing several hundred people in formal wear do the Macarena. Yes, I did the Macarena too. One of my favourite moments was when my friend G.G. asked me to take a picture of her by a vintage Havana-style car. We waited patiently as people took cheesy pictures giving the thumbs up. Like a proud mother, I told her to go up to the car. She's done this before because posed like a model at a car show and there were definitely a few men who took a couple of excited breaths at the view. Epic. By 3 a.m., my feet were done and a friend and I caught a cab. It definitely was more of a low-key ball. I wasn't feeling pretty and I hate that I let this affect me. When it comes to who I am as a person, I am confident. I am a decent person and I can be funny. But physically? Put me under a bridge.

I probably won't ever change because self-love seems like a lot of work, but I guess the advantage to being unattractive is that I can be friends with guys and never worry about them being attracted to me. Now, this is not some ploy to get comments like "I think you are a-ok, Tova!" or "Your face... it's eclectic!" because most of you are my friends and I love you and know you lie because you are good friends. And as you get older, you start to realize that looks really are the least important thing in the grand scheme of things. Pretty doesn't pay the bills... unless you are an escort and in that case, you do you.

It was a really fun night out and it was great to hang out with lovely friends. And nothing quite beats looking for side boob in a sea of formally dressed people. In other news, tomorrow I am going to the opera! I CANNOT WAIT! I will definitely be writing a post about that because it is going to EPIC! Tee hee! So excited! I wish you all a fantastic Sunday! Sidenote: did you all watch the game last night? Austria against Portugal? That was exciting! I love that in Austria a game that ends 0-0 is like winning the Stanley Cup... Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Ups and Downs and Dis and Dat

Apologies for not writing sooner. It has been a busy few days! But as of tomorrow afternoon, my long weekend starts! Huzzah! Hurray! Friday I have the whole day off and for the first time in a very very long time, I have not made plans until the evening. The plan in the evening is the Concordia Ball and that is kind of a big plan. Last time I had a day off, I had something like 5 appointments and I spent the day running around like a mad woman. Not this Friday, my friends. No, I plan to lie on the sofa, watch Murder She Wrote and maybe even take a nap. I will probably go for a massage in the afternoon and then at 5 I have a very talented make up artist coming by. At 7 I am meeting friends for dinner at a French restaurant called Variation Bistro and I CANNOT WAIT! After dinner, we will cross the street and enter the fabulous neo-Gothic City Hall to get our Cuban on. Speaking of which, the last couple of days I have been listening to the Buena Vista Social Club album. I had this album years ago and I adored it and listening to it again gets me all ready to hit the dance floor and dance badly.

Tomorrow the Husband and I have a meeting with the Kid's therapist and then I will work a half day. Originally I had an important meeting but unfortunately it was cancelled so instead I will meet a friend and we may or may not have a picnic and then, after, I am meeting a friend at the Beaver Brewing Company. In other news, on Monday I took a very difficult examination. One that cannot be studied for. One that has a 25% pass rate. I did not like those odds. But I ended up passing and I am happy about that and I should celebrate a little... And also thank the multiple choice Gods and their gospel of "When in doubt, choose C". Monday night was spent at home, watching football and working out. Tuesday morning the Kid woke up at 4 (again) and talked to himself for a good 2 hours until he fell asleep again. Of course I was unable to fall back asleep and I felt like weeping. 3 coffees later, I headed to work for a short day.

In the afternoon, the Husband and I had a very important meeting regarding the Kid's future at school. For the past 18 months, a very important person has been dodging us. I pretty much gave up hope last year after my fundraiser which lead to a subsequent donation which was met with a simple "Thank you": because obviously somebody does not understand bribes. I was excited to finally get face to face with the Wizard. The meeting did not go well. I can't go too much into detail but let's just say that this is reason number 839493 why I am going rogue and starting my own center. There seems to be a lot of misinformation and a lot of shadiness going on. My concerns of snobbery were also confirmed. I'm going to be very vague here.... The Wizard did not know me before, did not know my background, and after I dropped a couple of "hints" (and usually I love this, but not in this situation), we were treated suddenly very very well. Now, I am a snob. I freely admit that. But autism CANNOT be a class thing! Ever! I was ticked by the end of the meeting. Really really ticked. We did learn one thing that is invaluable and I will share it here in case parents of children with special needs who live in Austria read this (and I will post this on the Autism in Vienna page): you as a parent have the right to refuse to send your child to a special needs school. Your child has the right to be integrated in a "regular" school. Do not sign ANYTHING until you know for sure that your child is getting the option you want for your child. So there's that. After the meeting, I met up with a friend and her husband and drank a glass of wine and restrained myself from throwing it against the wall. Then, I met another friend for a drink before we headed to a concert. I have written about Mosaique before and last night was another great night! They are going on a summer hiatus but on September 12th, they are having a swing night so I will definitely go to that. Last night also featured portraits by Dina Lee and they were fabulous. At the end of the evening, I headed home and enjoyed the summer night. I love walking through the city on summer nights. There is just something about it... the chance to see a chandelier through an open window, hearing the cheers from sports fans, or even catching classical music coming from courtyards. Vienna is pretty magical this time of the year.


Last night the Kid actually slept the WHOLE NIGHT! HIGH FIVES EVERYBODY! It was monsoon-like outside this morning and of course, as keeping with Vienna weather tradition, it is now bright and sunny. I brought the Kid to kindergarten and then went to work. I took a longer lunch because I had a lunch date with an old buddy from University of Toronto. He's in town for a conference and it has been a long long time since we've seen each other. We met at Cafe Englaender, ate Schnitzel and caught up. It was really nice and now I am full and trying not to fall asleep. Tonight the Husband is out so I have the TV to myself. Not sure what I am going to watch but I know that there is a face mask in my future and a date with some self tanner. Which most likely will end up a big old mess. Thank goodness for maxi dresses and cardigans! I wish you all a fantastic evening!

Friday, 10 June 2016

A Therapy Networking Evening and Almost the Weekend

Hello Friday. Hey good looking. This week went by pretty quickly and I am so grateful for the weekend. Tonight is the big Euro match featuring Austria so I know what will be on TV at home tonight. I always love it when there is a big football cup because it gives me the opportunity to drink beer and look like a soccer fan (I'm a hockey fan because hockey), usually outside on a summer night surrounded by men. There is something about a crowd of cheering Europeans that makes me feel all happy inside... maybe because it's not the angry yelling I usually encounter when I accidentally step on someone's foot on the u-bahn. Awesome.

After work today, I will head to the Esterhazy street festival. I should get there around 4 and I will go straight for a beer stand. I hope the weather holds because my hair is already looking like Ms. Frizzle from the Magic Bus. And that paired with a bright orange dress? You can't miss me! I will stay for a couple of hours and then go home to work out, have some dinner and then watch the futbol. Tomorrow I am going on a walking tour and then I have some sewing to do. I am sorry to say that I have pretty much done nada in terms of making my ball dress for next Friday so if you see me in a garbage bag at the Concordia Ball... don't ask.

I was going to do a recap of the Boy Next Door - the film starring Jlo and a man who is supposed to be 19 in the film but looks about 25 and he ends up stalking her but I'm not sure why this is a problem because dayuummm. cough. cough. I mean, I will still write a recap but I thought I would talk about last night's Therapy Networking Evening instead. I won't lie, I was nervous yesterday and I showed up early to the Beaver Brewing Company so that I could have a cheeseburger and a beer and read a crap romance novel to calm myself down. I knew that about 3 people were coming for sure and that was great. I was not expecting an additional 4 therapists showing up and that was FANTASTIC! It was an amazing evening because meeting specialists in the field of autism is always great. One thing that I have noticed that is shared among them all is their tireless dedication to making a difference, their incredible patience and their love of children. I also found out more about the system for children with autism here in Austria and it broke my heart.

Once a child is in school, if the child is failing, a teacher may only at that point, contact a representative. That representative will contact the main autism center here in Vienna and if there is someone available, they will dispatch an aide. These aides are trained psychologists who literally just sit beside the child during class. They are not supposed to do any type of therapy. They are often snubbed by the teacher. And they are not allowed to have contact with the parents. In many cases, the children themselves do not know that they have autism. WHAT?!? This is all sorts of wrong! Parents are not allowed to request aides themselves. And if the teacher refuses an aide in class, that kid is shit out o luck. UNBELIEVABLE! I sat there last night, taking big sips of beer, trying not to cry. I knew it was bad... I didn't know it was this bad.

And here are my thoughts and what I think needs to happen:

Aides are necessary for many children with autism and this needs to be common place in schools through out Vienna and Austria as a whole.

This decision is the parents' decision and the teacher needs to deal with it. Basta!

Psychologists doing their clinical studies should be shadowing trained therapists and not sitting in classrooms lying to the other students why they are sitting with one of their fellow students (this happens a lot).

Autism understanding and acceptance (as well as other disabilities) need to be part of the curriculum. Children are awesome and they will get this. Not talking about it, not educating and generally keeping the whole thing under wraps will only spread misunderstandings and taboos. 

Parents need an outlet and need a union to get support. I heard about one therapist that charges 500 euros for a diagnosis. The parents fill out a questionnaire, send it back to the therapist and voila the child is diagnosed or not without them even meeting the child. If the parents have additional questions when filling out the questionnaire, they are charged extra. THIS IS CRIMINAL!

ABA therapy is rare, Floortime is unheard of. WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THIS CITY?! 

Finding a therapist using evidence-based therapy is also pretty difficult. I have also heard of and experienced people overcharging for their "support". This taints it for all the other qualified therapists and specialists out there. Stop it.

Psychology degrees are non-transferable here in Austria and that means we are missing out on a huge amount of qualified people who are able and willing to help families. Again, this is criminal and we need to develop a certification scheme to enable people to work with families. 

Early intervention is key in autism. The state diagnosis center has had to close their waiting list until September because they are overwhelmed. Again, how is this possible? 

Rawr! I am angry again. But I also feel like I received the much needed jolt I needed. I've been procrastinating a little with my business plan so this feels like the kick in the ass that I needed. Yay! I am extremely happy with how last night went. I will be hosting another therapy networking evening in July. It is important to have trained therapists get together and discuss their concerns and their hopes for the future of autism in this country. I have also decided to make a small documentary about the state of autism here in Vienna. Nothing fancy... just a compilation of interviews with therapists working in Austria, foreign therapists and parents of children with autism. It is important to show first hand how dire it is here. And I will show it when I apply for funding. Some may call this emotional blackmail, I call it, getting what we need. Actually kind of sounds just like how I am as a wife. We will see how much longer I retain that title.

So that was last night. I walked away excited about the work ahead. I will hit a lot of resistance on the way but I am tenacious and I can be a brat and I hate being ignored so onwards and upwards! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Dis and Dat

The sun has risen and I am exhausted because the apple of my eye has decided to act like a deranged spider monkey. At 3:30 in the morning, I heard him talking/singing to himself. We have no idea what he is saying/singing but I am sure it is something like "I am awake. Talking to myself. It's so daaaarkkk in here. I am going to run across my room a bazillion tiiiimees!!! CAUSE I AM AWWAAAAKKKKKEEEE!" I kicked the covers off and made my way to his room. Scary mommy was not happy and as soon as I pushed open the door he froze in mid run.

He knew he had been busted and he ran back to his bed. "Go.to.sleep." I threatened in scary mommy voice. The voice that sends a million men diving for cover. I do not have a face that launched a thousand ships, but rather a voice and "the look" that could sink a dozen. He crawled under the blankets and I walked back to bed. 10 minutes later, "I AM AWAAAKEE! SITTING IN MY ROOOM! ALL BY MYSELF!!!" (again, he doesn't speak but he has this high pitched language... and at 3:30 in the morning it drives me up the wall and where is the aspirin?) I shoved ear plugs in but to no avail. He started walking around again and singing. Now, if our downstairs neighbour didn't sleep directly under the Kid's room, I would probably just let it go...but I don't need her to one day lose her shit and throw a Molotov cocktail through our window so once again I kicked off the sheets and headed to his room. 

"GO TO SLEEP!" And he ran back to his bed. This went on about 4 more times. I finally just crawled into bed with him. He finally fell asleep around 6 and I crawled back to my bed and got another hour of sleep in. Sob. He woke up again just after 8 and I got him dressed and ready for kindergarten. It will be a long day at work and then I will go home, work out and try to work on my ball dress. And catch up on my celebrity gossip. The rest of the week I have some plans but nothing like end up at a random house party or learn how to play bocce kind of evening. Tomorrow night is the Autism in Vienna Therapy Networking Evening. About 6 people are coming; super qualified therapists with years of experience and I am really excited to create a strong network of experts. Originally I was hosting this event at Rundbar in the 6th. I wrote them close to two weeks ago and they wrote back almost immediately and even said "If the weather is nice, we can save a table outside for you!" I was pleasantly surprised and wrote back "That would be wonderful! Thank you!" And then, of course, on Monday night, I got an e-mail asking me to push back the reservation by an hour.

I was not amused. Luckily I was able to get a reservation at the Beaver Brewing Company. Obviously this has recently become my second home and I fear I might be hanging out there a little too much.  I might have to wean myself off the craft beer a little. Too much Tova is never a good thing. Too much Tova and craft beer... could lead to over the top Tova and nobody wants that. I become a combination of Zsa Zsa Gabor and the Fonz. For reals. Speaking of. nothing.. here is a funny Vienna story. Just across the street from the Beaver Brewing Company is an apartment building. And what is interesting about this apartment building is that there is a tree growing out of a window!! Apparently Hundertwasser put that tree in there as an art installation and now the building has to replace it every few years when it dies. Ultimate trolling Mr. Hundertwasser. Hats off to you, good sir! Hats off!

Besides the Therapy Networking Evening tomorrow, on Friday afternoon I will head to the Esterhazy street festival. I will probably get there around 4 and stay for a couple of hours. I went last year and had a great time so don't let me down, street fest, don't let me down. On Saturday I am going on a walking tour for an article I am writing. I am looking forward to that and I am sure I will learn something new and I love learning something new. For example, I just found out yesterday that the theme of the Concordia Ball is not Spain but rather Cuba and now I am quietly putting away my castanetas and unlearning the tango. And yes I know the difference between Spain and Cuba but obviously I jump to conclusions. But yay to Cuba Libres! I cannot wait! On Sunday is Father's Day and I think I will take the Kid out for a long long walk as a gift to the Husband. I need to spend most of the weekend sewing my dress: the pressure is on! Fingers crossed. And before I end this random post, probably filled with errors due to exhaustion, I want to talk about flirting and love and dating. I am working on a longer blog post on the side because the last few weeks, I seem to be having lots and lots of conversations about the topic of love with lots of different people. Dating seems to have changed dramatically in the last 15 years. 15 years ago was my last date so that's why I chose 15 years as an indicator. Did I use that term correctly? Who knows. Anyway, I am wondering if people have become cynical about love. Or if, as we age, love is not the same mythical magical thing we used to think it was. That heart pounding, soul scorching I would just die if I didn't spend every single second with that person thing. Does that change? Is it now all apps and hooking up? Sure, I have heard lovely stories from friends meeting their loved ones in different ways... but have the rules changed?  

I don't want to type too much about this topic in this post... I am just thinking out loud. Also, as women, do we have to follow the Rules still? Do we have to not say what we are really thinking? Do we have to play the cool girl (thank you Gone Girl for that reference)? I never did because I have no filter and I was cute in my late teens (I hit my late twenties and I melted like that guy in Roger Rabbit). I also wonder if maybe due to my constant asking of questions and ability to drink beer makes people wonder if I am flirting? I'm not. I just like people and I like to find out about people because people can be cool. But since I have no idea what modern day dating looks like, maybe I am acting like Jennifer Jason Leigh a la Single White Female? And how does one know if someone is flirting with you nowadays? I don't think anybody has really flirted with me in years unless they have an ulterior motive... like getting fries off my plate. Ugh. So many questions. So stay tuned for that post and if you have any stories about dating in 2016, drop me a line. I want to know more because I like to learn new things. Did you know that blowing your nose in public is considered rude in Cuba? Amazing! Happy Wednesday and please please please let me get a good night's sleep tonight!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Fantastic Picnic!

It's done! We did it! Autism in Vienna's first picnic and it was, in my opinion, a success! I won't lie... I was a bit of nervous mess this morning. The weather looked dicey and the forecast was calling for a storm and flash floods. And I was 95% sure that we would have to postpone. By 9:45 the weather looked stable so I made the executive decision to go ahead with the picnic.

I was not only nervous because of the weather but also because I am actually a bit of an internal introvert. Now, I know that seems insane if you have met me and my 10 piece band that follows me around. I am loud, I am outgoing, I will make inappropriate comments... but when it is something that involves me being an adult... I can be a little bit shy. Also, since this was an event I planned, I had a lot invested in it emotionally. It's amazing how 25 years later, you can bring up those childhood memories; those fears of no one showing up to your birthday party, being stood up or losing your Brownie sock suspenders (and I know who took those, bitch. I will never get over that! My outfit was not complete!). Just past 11, we had our first family arrive and they had brought two more families with them. They were all super lovely and then about 20 minutes later, a mother with her son who was about 11 came as well. Some friends came by which was really really lovely. Having support like that is incredible! The Kid ran around and was as happy as could be. The park is his hood, his West Wing, his war room. At one point, I noticed a couple with a newborn child and a son about the Kid's age walking towards us. They were introduced by one of the dads that had come at the beginning. Turns out that this couple are refugees from Afghanistan, had read the Facebook post and came, but were too intimidated to come up because of their lack of German. Luckily the aforementioned dad spoke Persian and was able to convince them to join us. My heart exploded. There are good people EVERYWHERE!

I talked to the mom a little bit in English. She told me her son was recently diagnosed and that they have to wait 6 months to a year for therapy and even then, it won't be what they probably really need. I told the mom I would send her some links because she hadn't been told anything about autism. I also want to see if I can get some type of subsidized therapy for their son. Even just an hour a week to start. So if there is a therapist out there, looking to get some good juju, drop me a line. Once the center is set up, I would like to have fundraisers annually so that we can help out families like the one I met today. I cannot even imagine what it is like to be displaced and then to deal with a child with special needs. No, we have to help them out!

Around 2:30, most people had left and at that point the Kid had a slight meltdown. To be fair, he had been running around for 3 and a half hours. The Husband took him home and I cleaned up and then headed home. We gave the Kid a bath and now he is watching cartoons and I am mainlining coffee because I am meeting a friend for a quick drink in a couple of hours and then I have to work out. I am exhausted but in that feel good way exhausted. Based on today's success, I will be having these picnics monthly throughout the summer. The picnic today showed me that I need to continue this and it motivates me to work harder! Tomorrow is Monday and the start of a busy work week. Office Twin has been off sick and last week I wrote him.

Me: How are you feeling? You are missed. Kind of.
Office Twin: Still pretty sick. Doctor signed me off.
Me: Well, you better come back soon because the other people in the office are tired of hearing me talk about myself.
Office Twin: Well, if that doesn't motivate me!
Me: Right?!?! You are such a good friend.

Heh. On Tuesday afternoon I am meeting a friend for beers at the Beaver Brewing Company and on Thursday will be the first Therapy Network Evening at Rundbar. I am really looking forward to this and most likely I will be a nervous wreck just before the event because that's meeeee! I wish you all a fantastic Sunday! I hope your week ahead will be fabulous and fantastic! Happy Sunday!