Monday, 5 December 2016

A Special Saturday and a Special Event Ahead

Hey y'all! I truly thought things would calm down after our big movie afternoon on Saturday but that was dumb of me. Never ever assume that things will slow down because BAM! suddenly things will be chaotic again... But don't worry, I'm not complaining. Good stress makes me super efficient... sure I have chest pains but that's normal right?!

It is Monday night and I am back at home and cozy as cozy can be. I am listening to Frank Sinatra's Christmas CD and I feel like making myself an eggnog martini and giving up my feminist ways... well, not really. But the martini would be awesome. The Kid is running around and keeps running into his room and closing his door. He started this last week and it makes me laugh and laugh. He's 5 going on 15 and I am waiting to find nudey magazines. We aren't sure what he is doing in there and the other day I found myself knocking first which is ridiculous. I PAY THE BILLS! Anyway, we are incredibly proud of the Kid. I was a bit of a nervous wreck before we made our way to Film Casino. One reason for the shakes was that I wasn't sure how many people would actually show up and the other reason was not knowing how the Kid would react to a movie. We left home just after 1 and walked down to Margaretenstrasse. He was great and babbled but when we got to the front entrance of the movie theater he yelled "NEEEIIIINNNN!!" and refused to go in. Well, shit.

The Husband took him for a walk around the block and I went into the theater to set up. I act like I actually had anything to set up.. like draw the cartoon or something. No, I just helped figure out the lighting and the sound level and then I stood at the front, hoping the Kid would actually walk in through the front doors. When the Husband and the Kid came back, the Kid spied me inside and walked in. I bribed him with chocolate and within 5 minutes he was running around the theater, happy as a kid can be... which is pretty happy because kids are awesome at that. Shortly thereafter people started to show up and I was so happy to see some friends with their kids there too. The film started, we had about 42 people in attendance and the Kid managed to sit still for about 15 minutes which is kind of a record. Then he took off and made several laps around the theater... but you know what? It didn't matter. I teared up because finally we could have a movie afternoon. The other kids were all amazing and when I looked around, you could see that parents were completely relaxed. This was the whole point of the movie afternoon: a safe place for families. And I would say it was a complete success. Well, until the Kid had a little meltdown halfway through the film and the Husband had to take him home. But I didn't care because the Kid was amazing and I was proud.

The film was Totoro and apparently when you say to people Totoro they all go "TOTORO?!?! OH I LOVE THAT FILM!" So since it was a cartoon and people seemed to love it, I didn't really look up the plot. Turns out it is about two little girls living in the Japanese countryside who befriend a giant ghost cat. Well, their mother is in Tokyo in a hospital and while I didn't get to focus too much on the film because I was chasing my spawn, I found the music and animation lovely. About 15 minutes before the end, I headed to the lobby to wait for people for when they would exit. When it ended, a friend and her family walked out and she said "Wow, that was kind of dark." to which I responded with "DID THE MOM DIE?!?! Oh my GOD!!" and she was like "No, just was kind of a dark film but still good." Oh thank God. I could just imagine the headlines "Stupid mom shows tragic Japanese cartoon to children with autism" It seemed like everybody was happy and I felt a huge amount of relief that it was over. It was a great first try and the best news is that the manager of the Film Casino has given me a discount so I won't be in debt! Hooray!

So yes, totally happy and will think about doing another one in a couple of moths! And, now, in other news, on Friday I received a message from a woman I met briefly last year. She works at Hardrock Cafe and wanted my opinion on a Santa meet and greet and before she could sign her name to the PM I wrote back "WHAT ABOUT A SANTA SESSION FOR KIDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS?!?!" She wrote back a few minutes later and said "My general manager and I LOVE THE IDEA!" and boom! The wheels were set in motion. Today I received confirmation that it will happen on December 17th at 9:30 and it is open to all children with special needs. Another friend told me she had a Santa and now I have a Santa and it is all coming together! I need your help to spread the word and to tell the Hardrock Cafe that they absolutely rock (heh) for doing this. They are going above and beyond and it was all I could do to not Ebeneezer Scrooge at the end of the Muppet Christmas Carol (the best version. Michael Caine. Yes, I'd tap that. Shut up.) and run up and down the hallways at work yelling "IT'S CHRISTMAS!"

It is such a dream come true! The last few days have been pretty amazing. I crashed a friend's duvet day on Sunday morning so she could make me pancakes and then in the afternoon, the Kid and I snuggled and watched a Christmas cartoon. Aaaaand, Austria voted Alexander Van der Bellen as its new president which means Austria is pretty cool, guys. So I am going to keep riding this high for as long as I can. It is going to be a busy week: tomorrow I am stopping by the Hardrock Cafe to go over details, on Thursday is a friend's going away dinner (she doesn't know that she isn't allowed to leave Vienna), on Friday is a friend's birthday party and on Saturday I am going to a Christmas get together and then later meeting a couple of friends at Kleinod for a couple of cocktails to celebrate my dear friend D.K.'s birthday and then afterwards we are coming back to my place for baked zitti and Christmas films. Yaaasss. Perfect few days ahead!! So I wish you all a fantastic evening and where is my damn martini?! Happy Monday!

Sunday, 4 December 2016

A Tova Movie Re-cap: A Christmas Reunion

Yesterday was an awesome day: the cinema day for Autism in Vienna was a huge success but I will write about that in the next post. Today is election day in Austria and everybody is a little on edge so instead I will write about fluff because fluff doesn't give me anxiety and heart burn. As you know, I adore cheesy Hallmark Christmas films. They are the antithesis of my life and are complete and total cringe-worthy escapism. You  know there is going to be a happy ending and great hair and I get to do one of my favourite activities which is to roll my eyes with panache. WITH PANACHE!

So after doing a Google image search on Hallmark Christmas films, I settled on A Christmas Reunion starring Denise Richards because this cover had what I was looking for... yes... So come with me on a magical re-cap of a cheesy film.

We start off with the gold standard of Hallmark films: a montage of something Christmasy. It can vary from a small town decked out for Christmas, ornaments on a tree or in this case, Christmas cookies. A song is playing and it most likely will contain the sweet dulcet tones of a saxamaphone (thank you, Simpsons). After the 2 minute intro showing the names of actors who may or may not have made bad life choices, we are transported to an industrial kitchen. Two kids: a girl and a boy, are making ribbon trophies. I'm guessing the girl is about 8 and the boy is about 11 and soon we are all going to have to have a little talk about feelings and age of consent. They finish the trophy and Aunt Linda with a fabulous wig walks in and immediately makes it clear that she wants these two to one day hook up. This is where I start to wonder if she is both their Aunt Linda and we need to all have a little talk about not hooking up with cousins. We find out that Aunt Linda is hosting the annual Christmas Cookie Competition and has a muy importante recipe tin. They head to O'Brian's Diner which I assume is the town's Irish bar but I was wrong. It looks like an Italian restaurant from Goodfellas. I'm confused. The kids (Amy and Jack) head to the kitchen to put out the cookies and then at one point a bully comes in and pushes Jack and you know that is totally going to be Jake Busey. Yes, Jake Busey. I will get to that later.

The competition begins and poor Mr. O'Brian makes melted snowmen cookies every damn year and every damn year he loses. Womp Womp. Foreshadowing. After the competition, Jack and Amy head to the kitchen because Jack has a surprise for Amy and somebody should be watching these two. He hands her a cookie and they smile at each other and Aunt Linda pops her head in (hopefully with a hose just in case) and she smiles knowingly. Blech, they aren't even teenagers yet!! And then the music starts up and we are treated to a montage of New York City at Christmas (of course) and the sentence "30 Years Later" plays across the screen. Now, wait a damn minute. I saw the customers at the Cookie Competition... nobody was dressed like the 80s. No blue eyeshadow, no big hair, not even an oversized cross necklace. COME ON HALLMARK! You could have tried a little. Send your costume department to Hot Topic, get some cheap fishnets, sew on some shoulder pads. I am disappointed in you. Anyway, we now end up in the office of who I believe is Amy all grown up. And I kind of appreciate Hallmark for saying 30 years later rather than 20 years later because while Denise Richards looks great, 28 she is not. So we can immediately tell that Amy has a high powered job based on her grey power suit and her jerky assistant who actually kind of stole the show throughout (Just looked him up. His name is Danny Lacy. Hallmark, put him in more films.)


So Amy has a meeting with her boss but suddenly her phone rings and you know it is bad news because the camera pans to a pretty woman sitting on a sofa looking sad telling Amy she has bad news. Obviously shaken but trying to be professional, she walks in to see her boss. And the boss is none other than PARKER STEVENSON! PARKER! I once watched some E True Hollywood story about Kirstie Alley and she used to be married to Parker Stevenson and apparently he was supposed to be the big next thing and when it didn't work out, they divorced. In what universe was Parker Stevenson a big thing? The man looks like your local trying-to-be cool pastor. Moving on... he tells Amy that he is incredibly impressed with her campaign (apparently they hired a famous hot guy to be the face of a department store, apparently sales increased by 25 % and apparently this is one of the biggest ad agencies in America) and he wants to promote her to junior partner. And he is going to announce it at the company Christmas party on Christmas Eve! Alright, wait, first of all, totally douchey to have a company party on Christmas Eve and second of all, way to keep company morale up by announcing a promotion at a party. He finally notices that Amy seems a little upset and she admits that her aunt just passed away. Her aunt that raised her after her parents passed. Oh Amy. In a rare move, the boss tells her that family is the most important thing to which Amy responds "You've been married 3 times." and guuuurrrlll, that's some sass. He tells her to go pay her respects in her town "Hazelnut" and Amy says "Chestnut" and ughhhh.

Now we have a Florida coastline montage and I am wondering if I somehow missed the fact that Chestnut is in Florida oh no, never mind. There's Jack all grown up. We know it's Jack because he has the same damn haircut that the kid actor had. Jack's working on something that involves tools and his dad comes up and they sit down and the dad says something like "You serving our country is the thing I am most proud of." and ok. Then the dad says something like "When are you going to settle down and your mom wants GRANDBABIES!" and Jack is all like "Dude, just retired from the army. Give me some time." and they laugh and then Jack's phone rings and you know it is baaad news. Aunt Linda has died. We are now in a car with Amy and her friend who looks like JLo circa 1998. They talk about the funeral and how Amy never knew that her aunt was sick and how the bakery is going to close and blah blah. She gets dropped off in the town and it is the perfect small town that Hallmark loves to use. I am also trying to figure it out because it doesn't look cold and it is December and I kind of assumed it's in Montana. Anyway, she walks into a lawyer's office and hey, it's Jake Busey! The bully! Now all grown up and doing law stuff. Look at that! And my word, he has his father's teeth.

Amy walks into Busey's office and there is Jack and she is not happy. Obviously these two haven't talked in years. She alludes to her mega important job and Jack mocks her and it comes out that he has been checking the INTERNET and she says "Oh! You have been cyber stalking me?!?!" and oh honey, whatever. Do you not have Facebook? And during that whole cyber stalking talk, they make fun of some guy's teeth and Amy is like "Yuck, who likes big teeth?!?" and it is a total Busey burn and he covers his teeth in shame and I am so freaking confused!! Also, the guy playing Jack is someone called Patrick Muldoon and fun fact, Busey, Richards and Muldoon were all in Starship Troopers together and ten bucks they got drunk every night while filming this because where has the time gone and why are we not being invited to Academy parties?! Cough. So it turns out that Aunt Linda has left both Jack and Amy her house and her bakery. By the way, Jack is not related to Aunt Linda, he was obviously just a kid who really really liked cookies. There is also a handwritten letter from Aunt Linda imploring Jack and Amy to re-open the bakery and to host the Christmas Cookie Competition. I see you Aunt Linda, playing matchmaker beyond the grave. I respect that, you little shiksa shadchun. Amy says it is simply impossible because she is very very important and Jack mocks her. Lovely.

Amy heads to the bakery and we are treated to a flashback as her as a child with Jack and Aunt Linda and did Jack not have a home? She then heads to O'Brians to find Jack and her saucy friend (former bakery employee) who is married to the high school economics teacher and decides that she will help get the bakery set up again and her friend is re-hired with a 10 % raise. Um Amy, the bakery was practically bankrupt and you live in New York and I know your apartment is probably outrageously expensive and highlights and Botox don't pay for themselves but whatever, let's get this bakery up and running. The 4 of them set up the place with budget Christmas decorations and of course, they can't find Aunt Linda's recipe tin. OF COURSE. HOW EVER CAN THEY GO ON WITHOUT RECIPES FROM THE 80's!!!?!?!

They re-open and there is a baking moment with cheesy country Christmas music and you can tell there is chemistry between Jack and Amy. And of course, Jack and Amy are sharing Aunt Linda's home and we find out that they were the it-couple back in the day. You can also see that Amy is really back into the swing of things because she now wears plaid shirts and jeans. Oh Amy. Since Amy is a marketing genius, she gets to plug their bakery and Christmas Cookie Competition on the radio and that is terrible lighting for both of them.

Things are still going well despite the fact that they can't find the tin. Amy and Jack go out for dinner and she says "I forgot we had a table" and he says "We had everything." Oh sweet mother of... They finish dinner and sit in the car and then they kiss. The next morning we see them in the kitchen as they act awkwardly and she is wearing a pyjama top and he is wearing the bottoms and this is very reminiscent of that episode in Who's the Boss where Angela and Tony have to share a hotel room and there is so much sexual tension and...

So we don't know if they got it on the night before since this is Hallmark. They end up going to the lawyer's office because apparently Busey has a deal they cannot refuse. Young bully is still bad. He offers them 400,000 dollars for Aunt Linda's house and the bakery and Jack and Amy decide that selling is for the best... guess they didn't sleep together last night or Jack has lost his mojo. They sign the paperwork and Jack Busey says something like "Sign at the red flags... I mean.. they are orange." and you just know a Hallmark writer high fived himself when he came up with that. Busey gets a phone call and he leaves the room and Amy knows something is up so she eavesdrops and hears that he is selling the bakery to Espressos R Us. Oh COME ON! She checks Busey's desk and finds the recipe tin! OH THE DECEIT! Jack rips up the paperwork and they head back to the bakery where they are determined more than ever to make the Christmas Cookie Competition a huge success! Of course Amy's boss calls and tells her there is an emergency. Apparently the spokesperson they had hired for that one department store has been caught holding a competing department store's bag. OH NO! WHATEVER SHALL WE DO!?! It is December 22nd and the boss wants Amy to fly back to New York and create a new campaign within 48 hours. Now, there are a couple of problems with this plan 1) you cannot create an ad campaign in 48 hours and 2) what ad campaign for Christmas releases on Christmas EVE?!? It makes no sense... probably about as much sense as Parker Stevenson once being considered a sex symbol. Amy says she will come back and Jack hears that and freaks and we kind of find out that they were together in high school and then she wanted more from her life and left for New York and that was the end of their relationship and obviously her leaving again is re-opening old scars and man up, Jack.

So Amy is back in New York and the new campaign is a success. And Jack gets everything ready from the Christmas Cookie Competition. And it is Christmas Eve and Amy's boss is getting ready for the company party and asks her assistant "Where's Amy?" and then Amy calls from a taxi and says something like "I'm sorry, I have to quit and move back to Chestnut." and the boss smiles and hangs up and her assistant is all like "Well that's just so unprofessional" and the boss is all like "This is why you will always be an assistant... no passion." BUUURRNNN. The Christmas Cookie Competition is underway and the radio host tries all the cookies and then of course, OF COURSE, O'Brian's melting snowmen cookies win after like 50 years. O'Brian should be about 80 at this point but he too must use the Botox. When O'Brian wins, they look for the trophy ribbon and oh, oh, LOOK! AMY HAS IT AND SHE IS BACK! HUUURRRRAAAAAYYYY! If you win the Christmas Cookie Competition, you get your recipe added to the recipe tin and when they add O'Brian's recipe, they find a letter from Aunt Linda and she has written something like "I knew you two would make it." and Aunt Linda kind of freaks me out.

The film ends and you are wondering if Chestnut has a licensed dermatologist for Botox and if Amy will soon regret not being in Manhattan, getting drunk off mojitos with fab friends. And will Jack prove to be a controlling ass? Oh! The questions! So that's the re-cap. It wasn't the worst and it definitely wasn't the best, but Hallmark stayed true to themselves and I hate to admit this, but I kind of like Jake Busey. I know I KNOW! Happy Sunday!

Friday, 2 December 2016

Well Hi There Friday and a Little History Lesson

This felt like an incredibly long week. I have been battling a cold so I guess I have been feeling worn out ergo feeling like it has been a long week. The Kid was off from Monday-Thursday (he too had a cold) and today he went back. I am sure it was a bit of a shock to his system to have to wear pants and actually follow rules. This afternoon he has a 2 hour session with two therapists and fingers crossed it goes well. After work I am stopping for a quick gluehwein at Karlsplatz Christmas market (my first of the season!) and then heading home to make dinner and wear pyjamas and try and not freak out about tomorrow... because tomorrow is the big movie theater afternoon event thing! Dun dun duuuunnnnn.

I am sure it will be great and I hope there is an awesome turnout and is it too early to start drinking? Besides the big event, it will be a pretty quiet weekend. I hope to be able to do some crafts, watch a Hallmark film so that I can rip it apart in my blog and of course, stare at our pretty pretty Christmas tree. I can't believe we are in December already and my calendar is cray cray but hooray! I will definitely need some downtime over the Christmas break.. or dialysis. Whatever. Anyway, about last night... And that sounds like I am about to go into an epic story. Actually, I didn't embarrass myself as much as usual.. must have been this kerblasted cold. Oh well, there is still next week when I have an important meeting with a very very important person (it was postponed so stay tuned for that!)

Last night I attended a reception at the Canadian ambassador's residence. I love this house and have fond memories of Christmas parties there as a teenager. I remember one party in particular because I wore my most perfect Cher from Clueless inspired outfit and I totally wish I could still wear it. It was a burgundy shiny cropped long-sleeved fuzzy sweater (I know, right?!?!), paired with a mini velvet wrap skirt. I wore dark tights and thick high heeled loafers and I was about as awesome as could be. And I had dark red hair. Awesome. Anyway, about the house... it is spectacular and whimsical and comfortable and just an incredible mix of styles. It isn't the grandest of official residences (I AM A SNOB, I KNOW! STAHP JUDGING ME!) but there is something about this house built in 1925 that just draws me in. It is a mixture of English country house, surrealism, neo-gothicism (I think I made that word up) and with surprising Asian influences. There is a lot of wood and my favourite is the wooden carved ceiling in the den with a carved stone fireplace (I didn't study architecture so I don't know real terms, ok?). This is a room to sit in, drink sherry and read Jackie Collins... or Gogol whatever. So I did a little research (yes, I sometimes look up smart stuff, not just celebrity gossip) and found out that it was designed by the famous Viennese architect Sobotka for a chemist named Dr. Emmerich Granichstaedten who had come into a lot of money for being involved with the patent of fats being made into margarine or something like that. Dr. Granichstaedten was of Jewish background who moved to England in 1938 (I have no idea why), signing the house over to his wife and then losing it in the divorce (ouch). Apparently Dr. G rarely returned to Vienna after moving abroad (I have no idea why). Now I totally want to know more and maybe I will do some more research and it will turn out that Dr. G's grandson has another similar house in Vienna and he will be all like "this place is too big for me and why don't you take it off my hands and by the way, here is 250,000 euros for your center and my God you are beautiful!" Yup, could happen.

Anyway, it was a lovely reception and I got to chat to a few people. I was pretty well-behaved until I wasn't for a minute. I was talking to someone with a really good job and we were talking about the recent (disappointing) snowfall and I blurted out something like "Calm your tits! It wasn't that much snow." and then I wanted to die. I also bumped into someone I met a few months ago. She told me that I reminded her of a friend she knows and I blurted out "Oh please tell me she's hot!" and she looked at me for a second in confusion and I continued "Because when somebody says I remind them of someone, I have this feeling they are going to pull out a picture of Jabba the Hut and say 'THE RESEMBLANCE IS UNCANNY!'" and then she laughed. She said "No, it's your eyes. They seem to sparkle when you talk and it is lovely." and because I can't take a compliment I said "That's the wine." Ugh. But it was an awesome thing to hear. Totally think it was the wine, though. The food at the reception was amahzing and unfortunately the Nanny was only staying until 9 so it was a short reception. Again, I love that house. LOVE IT. I slept fairly well last night so at least today I feel like I am getting back on track. I haven't gone for a run in a week because I can't breathe much but hopefully by Sunday I will be able to take a little jog and not die. So I hope you all have a fantastic weekend! Happy Friday! And hopefully I can share with you all another Hallmark movie re-cap soon! Toodles! And before I forget, yay, DECEMBER!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Dis and Dat

Hello Wednesday! I was off work yesterday because the Kid has a cold. I dropped him off at Kindergarten on Monday and 40 minutes later, they called and said he was coughing and he had to be picked up. He was fine most of the day but at 3:30 in the morning on Tuesday, he was awake and ready to partay. Luckily around 8 a.m. he fell asleep for a couple of hours and I could snooze on the sofa. The Nanny came in the afternoon and I was able to meet a couple of friends for a late lunch at Cafe Wortner and then a quick drink with another friend at Cafe Gitarre and then onto the Beaver Brewing Company for an 80's tribute night. It was a fun fun evening and at one point, 2 friends pulled me to the front to sing Jesse's Girl with them and my real life nightmare came true. I am not a singer and I am not a performer. Ok, yes, there have been a couple of karaoke episodes but on both occasions I was pickled. My somewhat hazy memory seems to recall me saying "No no no. I do not do Karaoke.." and then about an hour later, grabbing the microphone and wailing "AND IIIIIIIII...eeee..IIII WILL ALWAYS LOOOOVVEE YOOOOUU!" Yeah, not proud.

It was a busy weekend so I apologize for not posting a post sooner. On Friday I went to a friend's birthday, on Saturday I took out the Christmas decorations and then had to lie down because I had a cold hit me like a truck. Sunday morning we decorated the tree and the Kid was ecstatic. Sunday evening I went to Allaverdi for another friend's birthday and had fantastic Georgian food. It used to be called Satrapezo but had sadly gone out of business so I was curious what the new place would be like. Well, folks, it is exactly the same: same food, same cutlery, same wine service, same damn Swarovski decanter I have wanted for years. This might sound odd, but I really like a nice dinner out. Heh. It's nice not having to cook and I look so much better in candlelight. And I will make a quick segue here to list my favourite restaurants in Vienna for future reference if anybody ever feels the need to bribe me. Or if you are looking to woo your crush. Here are Tova's favourite romantical restaurants (and I haven't been on a romantical dinner for a while so some of these places might have closed down) (and I am pretty sure that I posted a similar list a few years ago but whatevs):

Cantinetta La Norma (I took myself there the other week so I know it's still there): frescoes, nice owner, and my favourite window seat in all of Vienna.

Motto am Fluss: I haven't actually been in a couple of years but when I did go, I found it lovely: overlooking the Danube and eating kind of fancy food. Feeling kind of fancy...

Entler: Again, I believe it is still around. Last time I went was about 2 years ago. The food is seasonal and the lighting is low (perfect) and the wine list is plentiful. I should take myself there one night. It's been too long!

Zum Schwarzen Kamel: Ok. To be honest, I went there but somebody else was paying. I don't think it is in my budget but it is fantastic... and historic... and the cheese plate was to die for.

der Fuchs und die Trauben: Yes, I am biased because school friends own it. And I go there a lot. The food is extraordinary and I have always had a great time every time I go... probably because I am a lot more charming after a couple of glasses of rioja.

And now I guess I can add Allaverdi to the list because amazing food!

So those are my go-to places. I now feel like I need to broaden my horizons so maybe in the new year I'll take myself out for dinner more. So if you are reading this, gentlemen, book a table, surprise your lady, and take her out for a fabulous dinner. Even strong and independent women want to be treated to a romantic night once in a while, made to feel special, want to believe that they are the most amazing person in the world, that they are desired and appreciated, that you don't want to smother them with a pillow every time they ask "whatcha thinking abooouuuut?" A little romance goes a long, long way. You are welcome!

The rest of the week won't be too crazy. Tomorrow night I am going to the Canadian ambassador's for a Christmas party. I am very much looking forward to wine and Christmas songs and I truly truly hope they have those moose eggnog cups that I have wanted for so very long. I feel like if a Canadian embassy party served eggnog in those, world peace would soon follow.

On Saturday is the big movie afternoon. I have rented a theater so that we can have a sensory friendly afternoon for kids. So far 37 people have signed up which means that I am dry heaving slightly. I need about 100 people to attend so that I can almost break even. I am going to believe that it will all work out and that it will be an amazing success. Fingers crossed. In terms of the location for the autism center... well, unfortunately I haven't heard anything more. I guess it wasn't meant to be and while that is definitely disheartening, I know that the perfect place will eventually come along. I am glad I put on the brakes but it is still hard and probably a good lesson about going with gut feelings. If you wake up sweating profusely in the middle of the night - it probably isn't a great idea. In other news, I've been a little weepy today for various reasons and I am usually pretty good about keeping a stiff upper lip and acting like Liza Minelli in any Liza Minelli musical act, but today I didn't have the energy and immediately Office Twin and a friend at work looked at me and said "What's wrong? Why so glum?" I shrugged and said "Nada" and Office Twin gallantly volunteered to come by at anytime to make fun of me. Heh. Brits. I can't wait to update you all on the cinema afternoon and of course the fancy reception I will be attending. I still haven't decided what to wear so tonight I will be spending most of it contemplating if stretchy pants denote "class". Sigh. Happy Wednesday and catch you on the flip side.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Being Stupidly Responsible and Three Years Ago on Thanksgiving

So yesterday's post was "Rah! Rah! Opening the center in 4 months! ZOMG!". The last two nights... I have not slept well. I have woken up in a cold sweat, imagining bankruptcy.. or even worse. I have spent the last 48 hours whipping out my calculator and trying to sort out how I was going to raise enough money by April and it wasn't looking great. Now, I am an optimist and I believe things will work out... but raising the amount of money I need in 4 months, while definitely possible, is a little too ambitious even for me. I tossed and turned and this morning at 3, (just an hour before the Kid came tearing into our room screaming and kicking with a fever.. sigh.) I finally came to the conclusion that I need a later deadline.

It was a hard decision for me and it broke my heart, but I have to do this right. Risks are good but not when we have to pay for rent, childcare and therapy. It's not just a situation of tightening our belts (is that the right idiom?) but actually making sure that we can afford to help our own son. "Sorry darling, we can only spend 2 weeks in the Maldives this year. And your third pony is now paste." Yeah, no. So I have been a big girl and I have asked to delay the lease until September. This doubles my time to ask for money and will make me less likely to lose my hair in the process. By asking for an extension, I might have lost the property and if so, I will go into a corner and crawl into fetal position and cry for a couple of weeks. But, and this is where optimism rolls up its sleeves and get to work: if it is meant to be, it is meant to be. Pass me the wine.

I love the location, I love the space, it is perfect, but if I don't have the funding yet, it will become my proverbial horse's head in the bed and I just did laundry. Now it is time to get to work and to go methodically through my to-do list. I have drafted a letter for ministries and it is currently being translated. I am in the process of setting up a business account. In Austria, special accounts open you! Also, a friend also has put me in contact with someone mucho mucho mucho importante in Vienna to give me some guidance... I just made an appointment with his personal assistant and I started sweating on the phone. The meeting is on Monday and let's all take bets that I say something like "Yes, how are you? I got a q-tip stuck in my ear today but boy am I happy to be here.. or hear? Heh heh heh." Ugh. Stay tuned for that story of awkwardness.

Today is American Thanksgiving and for me, it is a very important day for another reason. Three years ago on Thanksgiving, I met with a speech therapist at work in the morning who had observed my son the night before. I had to miss the meeting due to work and when I got home, the Husband told me that she had dire news. I cried most of the night and in the morning, when I looked at the Kid, I felt like I was in mourning. I could not accept autism as his diagnosis... to me he was a regular little boy. This was before our real diagnosis and before he completely regressed. I went to work, met the therapist at the cafe and she pretty much said that his life would never be normal and that he was severely autistic, he would probably need respite care and I should probably consider giving up any thoughts of him going to school or even speaking much. In short, life as I knew it would never be the same. I sat there and I sobbed. I had to go back to work and I couldn't focus on anything. I wrote my dear friend D.K. who was as sick as a dog and I asked if she could meet me at our local cafe after work. Like a superstar she dragged herself there and for 2 hours, I drank wine and I sobbed. I didn't know how I was going to face my son who I loved more than anything in the world. I opened the front door and I walked in, drained and devastated. I put on his favourite DVD and, at one point, he started laughing. It was that sound that made me realize that we were going to get through this... that I would never stop fighting for him and that he was never going to be a statistic. So yes, Thanksgiving is an important day for me. My life has not been the same and that is ok and it is amazing to look back to that day 3 years ago and see how far we have come. There are immense challenges as he gets older, but I am more equipped to handle them... so equipped that instead of you know, taking up a hobby, I try and start an autism center. Totally reasonable reaction, right? So to my American friends, have a splendid holiday! Tonight I will watch some crappy TV, do some crafts and thank my lucky stars for my incredible son. Happy Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

I AM ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED

Sup sup Wednesday? I think you can gather from the title of this post that I am kind of freaking out just a little ittle bitty bit. OMG! YOU GUYS! The past year has been a labour of love. I have been slowly but surely building up the Autism in Vienna Facebook page, bombarding strangers with my concept of an autism center, and sobbing off and on. I am now officially a Verein thanks to a friend who helped with the statutes and I am now looking at a real life actual location. I saw it a few weeks ago for the first time and last night, I was back but this time, with my board members. We met with the couple who owns the location and it was all business. Yes, I can be business-y.

We looked at two different floors and then discussed the rent. I laid out my plans for the center and how to raise funds and hopefully sounded business-like and shit. They made an offer which would be ridiculous to refuse and if all goes to plan (and I don't throw myself off a bridge) then we should be up and running by April. It is an incredibly generous offer they made and it will give me about 3 months to raise funds and sell an internal organ. After about an hour, we shook hands, I promised to get back to them as soon as possible and once I rounded the corner with my friends, I started to shake. It hit me like a ton of bricks. This is big guys, this is happening and I am terrified. We headed to a cute hipster heuriger around the corner from what will most likely be the center and I demanded wine and lots of it. The three of us talked excitedly and I tried to stop myself from hyperventilating.

The rent isn't cheap... but for the location and the size, it is amazing. It is the ideal space and I am avoiding a ton of additional costs since there isn't much to renovate and I am not being charged the dreaded real estate fees. And as I mentioned above, they have given me an incredible deal for the next 3-4 months and I know that that would not be possible anywhere else and now I feel like I am on a roller coaster and I can't get off. And I don't want to get off (that's not what she said. heh.heh) but I need to have some capital before I can fully commit. The next couple of days I will be drafting official letters/proposals. One will go to different ministries and the other one will go to anyone foolish enough to give me their e-mail address. I am planning a donation programme that will pretty much consist of a wall in the center: on that wall will be three categories: sponsor, donor and patron. Names of people who give me the monies will be allocated under those three categories. And you can totally Instagram that when you come on by for a drink or stop me from running off to Bali in a fit of terror and angst. Either or. Another option will be for large companies or my really really rich friends: you can buy the name of one of the therapy rooms. How exciting! The Cookie Von Cookiestein room or the Propane and Propane Accessories room? The possibilities are endless!

And if you are truly vindictive, you could choose a name like: Tova is a moron and smells room. I am fine with that too. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am also hosting a fundraiser in January. So far prizes include: a couple of dinners at great restaurants, photo sessions, wine, personal coaching... I am so excited and so so grateful. My ultimate goal is to reach 100,000 euros by April. Yes, that is a lot of money... but that money is going to help many many families. It is going to help parents and children and maybe for the first time, they won't feel so marginalized and alone. This will give hope and will make people feel accepted. This will cover the rent for a couple of years so I don't have to sell all my clothes and my soul. This needs to happen.... and it will. I need to believe it will and I need people to believe in me. Some of the people closest to me are doubtful and while that hurts, I understand the concern. I don't even want Christmas presents this year and for me, that is huge! Gifts are my life.. yes, I am a brat but I am maturing. Kind of.

Long story short... if I don't do this now, I will never do it. Not only will this help change the face of autism support in Vienna, it will help my son and future generations. Now I am dry heaving again. Stay tuned for the next few weeks... it will be a wild ride. I must get back to drafting these letters. Where are my crayons?!?!?!?! Toodles.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Planning the Fundraiser, Burlesque, I Yelled and Brunched Out

Hello Sunday evening! I just got back from a great long walk with the Kid. It is slowly becoming our thing. Just the two of us walking around the neighbourhood, taking in the sights and me just talking to him about everything even though I know he doesn't really know what I am saying. He is awesome on the walks; his eyes light up and he makes a happy sound once in a while. He stops when I stop, he walks faster when I do, and he is just a joy. These walks give me a sense of normalcy and it is the one time of the day I don't feel like I am a mom of a special needs kid... I am just a normal mom, taking a walk with her little boy. My only wish is that one day he starts speaking and then he can finally say "Dammit, woman! Shut it! You are a neurotic ball of stress and angst. And by the way, he's just not that into you." Heh.

Friday after work I headed home and we decided to try and take the Kid to a Christmas market. It has been a couple of years since we have been to one with him and I was a little nervous. We walked to the Belvedere Palace and as we rounded the corner, the Kid got a little scared and didn't want to go into the market. I gave him some chocolate, walked behind the market and then entered from the other side. He was a superstar and I was incredibly proud of him. Except that we bought an oversized pretzel for 3.90 and he didn't want it (Great! More carbs for Mommy!). We walked back home and I was so happy and then unfortunately, once we were home, the Kid had an epic freak out and my heart broke. This one lasted for at least 45 minutes and by the end, we were all spent. I had no idea what had brought it on and after he passed out on the sofa, I turned on ORF (Austrian national TV station) and watched the show Die Grosse Chance der Chöre to watch a friend and her troupe perform, while rocking back and forth. Sidenote: check out the Hot Box Girls. They are a fantastic Burlesque group and I am very much hoping they perform more in Vienna because I will totally go. I have always found Burlesque to be incredibly sexy and it looks like a lot of fun. Of course I could never ever do it because I have incredible stage fright and I would really really look like, to quote the Internet, a busted can of Pilsbury dough... The next morning the Kid woke up and was just on the verge of a freak out and I was not up for round 2, so I yelled "KNOCK IT OFF!"

Now, I am not a screamer (when it comes to the Kid). I am a pushover and I am a Jewish mother and I rarely if ever lose my temper with him. But I had had enough and I yelled and you know what, he stopped, looked at me in shock and then sat down. Now, I don't agree with yelling at a kid, especially a kid with autism, often, but I also think that I have been too lax. There were no more freak outs yesterday. In the evening I took him for a long neighbourhood walk and he was a complete joy. This morning he was on the verge again, and he grabbed me by the shirt in anger and I yelled at him firmly "NO!" and he let go and sat down. Ugh, Kid, you are going to make me hate myself.

But if his behaviour improves because I am stricter and once in a while, scary Mommy comes out, this is for the best. Fingers crossed I don't have to be shouty that often because I do not like the sound of me angry... it does not match with anything that I own. And I know I am taking a risk writing about yelling at my child on the Internet because I am pretty sure I will be getting strongly worded messages shortly. And this is where I preemptively say, I am not scaring my child, just asserting my authoritaaaay. There is no manual for parenting especially for parenting a child with autism. And even if there was a manual, I would probably just ignore it because I don't like being told what to do... and manuals like the ones from Ikea lie just to mess with you.. right? So life is a lesson yadda yadda, where's the wine?

Speaking of drinking, it has been a decadent weekend of brunching. On Saturday I was invited to an afternoon brunch/housewarming party. It started at 1, I showed up 1 minute after 1 and I was thrown first an aperol spritzer and then a bloody Mary and I had sausage rolls and cheese and a croissant and met a couple of lovely people. At 2:30 I had to leave and head to a friend's place down the street where I drank wine and kvetched about recent disappointments and heartbreak. We laughed and drank and then I headed home to hang out with the Kid and then take him for a long walk. Today I was also invited to a brunch at a friend's. She lives around the corner from me and I showed up at 1 minute after 11. A couple of other friends and their son were also invited and we had an amazing meal of homemade rolls, scrambled eggs, cheese and waffles and of course mimosas. I stayed for a couple of hours and put on a couple of pounds and then met the Kid and the Husband in the playground. It was pretty idyllic and I spent much of the time telling him to stop licking metal. It isn't cold yet but soon I am going to have to pack small packages of salt in my coat because I imagine there will be a future incident.

Anyway, in other news... last week was pretty hectic and on Friday I decided to post about a possible fundraiser in January. About a year and a half ago, I hosted a fundraiser in the Spring and it was great. Many people gave incredible prizes for the raffle and my friends bought lots of tickets because they are awesome. We were able to raise 1,500 euros. Unfortunately I sent that money to another center and all I got back was an e-mail that just read "Danke." Yeah, I was ticked. So ticked that I even started a Facebook page for autism a couple of months later and then the idea of my own autism center came into being. When I get mad, I get busy. So this time, this fundraiser will be going to the Beacon Beach House. When I posted on Facebook about tentatively saving the date, I received 4 different offers for prizes and I was blown away! I am so excited and touched by the outpouring of support and I cannot wait to plan this event. So mark your calendars for January 18th. It will be at the Beaver Brewing Company; the theme is beachy so break out your flip flops and Hawaiian shirts and be ready to drink and buy raffle tickets. I know it will be an awesome evening and I cannot wait! You all know how I like to plan things.

And the last little story before I become one with the sofa, it seems like the Kid lost another damn tooth and again we didn't notice. I am hoping that the lost tooth was the cause of Friday's epic meltdown: maybe the wiggly tooth was causing him stress. Maybe not? I also have been throwing myself on the ground anytime I see something white on the floor. I need to find this damn tooth. I missed the first one and now the second one? DAMMIT! Bad MOM! This week will be busy again: I am meeting a friend on Monday and then on Tuesday I am having a board meeting for the Beacon Beach House. By board meeting I mean we are going out for drinks. Before the board meeting we will actually stop by the maybe location to talk with the landlord. It might actually be happening and I will see what the conditions will be. If they are good conditions (please, please, please), then I will have to meet with a lawyer to look over the paperwork because I might end up accidentally promising my kidney. Wouldn't be the first time. On Thursday I am meeting a friend at Hawelka and then maybe stopping by an art show that has been put on by adults with Autism. I will post the information on Facebook tomorrow. I can only stay for about 30 minutes unfortunately, but I want to support this awesome initiative. On Friday night I am going to a friend's birthday party and then on Saturday I am going to see if I can get started on the Christmas decorations. I need my bling out, stat. I wish you all a fantastic Sunday night. May your evening be calm and cozy and not filled with dread thinking about going to work tomorrow. Toodles!