Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Gold and yellow and red and brown.


I'm not going to give any details as to the big picture concerning my return to Austria and my new-ish life here - because, you know, spoilers and stuff - but I want to give you glimpses, of course. I want to keep sharing. And what I want to share today is autumn.

I'm aware that I can't actually share it with you because it's a season and not a physical thing and it doesn't belong to anyone, but of the seasons it's my absolute favourite and I by sharing it I mean share my view of it, my love of it, and my excitement over it.



Colour. It changes. And with it it changes everything else around it. Everything invariably looks different in autumn. There is a melancholy about everything, not just places but also the things we do and even ourselves. The grey sky with its low hanging clouds, tendrils of mist creeping around and whole fields of fog, dead and dying leaves all over every open surface.

It puts us in close proximity of those things we don't usually think about: the surprisingly quick passing of time, the evanescence and ephemerality of everything we are and do, death.

There's two things we can do with the realization of all those truths of life, that things pass and vanish and have an expiration date. Either we dwell and get sad, or we look beyond and see how precious our now is. Our appreciation grows. Our wish and will to make the best of everything we have and fight for what we still want.

Yes, I know, how very naive of me to assume this is he we all can make ourselves think. Of course we can't, not one hundred percent of the time. But if you take the warm, soft blanket that is melancholy and curl up in it, all cozy and comfortable, and peek out from your new vantage point instead of hiding completely underneath and letting sadness bury you, you'll notice the glow that's about everything.

All those dead plants everywhere, they're not actually dead. They're preparing for the new life that comes after the winter.

Okay, wannabe philosopher segment done.


Next up: temperature. I'm often told how weird I am because of this, but I love the cold weather.

Walking outside all bundled up in a thick jacket with gloves and a scarf, seeing your breath puff like little clouds every time you exhale, wearing warm socks and drinking tea even when you're inside - I love it all.

This year, having missed my favourite season and the cold months of the year in general so many times in a row, my excitement has risen to ridiculous (but not alarming) levels - to the amusement of my friends and family.

And there's so many little things that come with this season, aside from the aforementioned tea (which is number one, though):

There's chestnuts and pumpkins and pine cones and soup and new wine and spectacular sunsets and apples and grapes and tangerines and nuts and a general laziness and sleepiness around us all and staying in with a book and red cheeks and icy blue skies and that special kind of quiet. And, I have to say it again: tea.




Lastly: anticipation. The one most people feel and can identify with most easily. Autumn is not only spectacular in and if itself, it's also the herald that opens the season that so many love the most. Winter? No. Christmas!

Mulled spiced wine and gingerbread start invading outdoor markets and grocery store shelves. In this area, not just Austria but most of the region here in central Europe, stalls are starting to be built in parks and town squares for the upcoming Christmas markets. It's still almost two months away, but questions are already being asked about presents and wishlists, colour schemes for trees and decorations, even plans for New Year's. It's crazy, but it's everywhere.

This is probably what gets many through a season they don't like, because top them it's dreary and sad. Me, I embrace it.

Any given evening I spend at home I make myself a big cup of tea, put on my new crochet slippers, let the cat hop on my lap to warm up, and read. It's gorgeous.



No idea if anyone who previously didn't understand my sentiment now has a better grasp of how I feel, but this is it. I love autumn. Love it. Missed it like crazy when I wasn't here, and now it's the main reason I can adapt top being back. Because autumn, the way I described it earlier, with this blanket of melancholy and tranquility, it feels like one big hug.

Which is great.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Independence 3... 2... 1..!


The first time I ever came to Trinidad was in August of 2011, during a State of Emergency that came with armed roadblocks, reduced traveling options, and a curfew. Despite all that, Trinidad presented herself as an incredibly interesting country: an island full of tropical landscapes, a people proud of their heritage, a past shrouded in mysteries of colonization, emancipation, and so much to learn and discover. I was with a group of students and we spent time in the university, driving up and down more and less developed stretches of road, and exploring as much as we could in those limiting circumstances. I still remember how fascinated I was and just how much I liked the place. Incredible.

The following year, again during August, I came back with another group of students. This time, there was no curfew, there were no roadblocks, and we got to visit the same places we had seen the previous year while looking through a different pair of glasses. By then I had traveled to more Caribbean islands and had spent more time learning about the region and so I was able to appreciate how unique she was (and, of course, still is) among her sisters. Or, rather, her cousins. Trinidad was still just as welcoming and I was still just as fascinated and I made the decision to come back for a longer time, which I did two and a half months later - happily. Incredible.

That third time I came to Trinidad, in November of 2012, I stayed for three months; and because Trinidad still liked me and I was still really into Trinidad and a gigantic opportunity had presented itself to me in Academia World (somebody create that theme park, please) I was going to come back once more - to stay. Incredible.

I came back for the fourth and last time in the spring of 2013, to start my UWI career that September. The plan was to stay for four years and complete my PhD in Geography in that time. That's why I say it was the last time I came back, because the other, future, times wouldn't count anymore. I'd still be coming back, but differently, because the immigration forms and the stamps in my passport and the address I wrote everywhere told a different story now. Trinidad was now the point of return, not another destination. Incredible!

But this is where independence comes in.

Today is Independence Day.
August 31st.

I was here for every single Independence Day since that first one. This is my fifth one.

However, now is the first time I am also celebrating my own independence again. I wasn't last year or the year before. I didn't have any; something I have explained in previous posts and surely will explain a few more times before the year runs out. Because in two weeks, I will again, and I have to leave to get it. Incredible...

Happy Independence Day, Trinidad and Tobago.

And Happy Independence Day, isa.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

This is tense.


I met a few new people this week and as they're all academics like me, the basic get-to-know-you questions were about the formative years. You know how those questions vary depending on who you're meeting and where and under what circumstances...

Friends' friends:
How do you know ABC?
What do you do?

Travelers:
Where are you from?
Have you been to XYZ?

Hookups:
Can I buy you a drink?
Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?

And when you meet people in an academic setting of any kind it's always the obligatory mini interview about your current research and previous studies.

So, what are you working on right now? Have you read so and so? Don't you find this theory absolutely fascinating and that other one just ridiculous? And what did you do for your undergraduate degrees? How do you feel about this professor and that university. What are you planning on doing when you're done?

Whoa... cross-examination, much?

Anyway, talking about my background in philology made me want to revisit the times I spent learning and speaking various languages by blogging about what's new and at the same time exploring the fascinating world of English tenses.

Yes, I'm weird. I know.

Get over it.

Present.
It is hot. It rains a lot these days. I don't understand cricket. I am in Trinidad. I have pink paint on my left hand. Some giving up is more of a victory than a defeat.

Present progressive.
My kittie is sleeping downstairs. I am going through a time of transition. My friends and family are helping me. The air condition unit is making a quiet rumbling sound.

Past simple. 
I drank a lot of apple juice today. I sent my cousins an email. I took tons of pictures at the cricket matches I visited. I also asked a lot of silly questions and used the wrong terminology. One of my plants died. I never thought it would come to this.

Past progressive.
I was thinking about a lot of things. Many people were waiting outside the bank. A young lady was stacking milk cartons in the supermarket. My thoughts were firing in all kinds of directions and giving me a hard time sorting them.

Present perfect.
I have come to a conclusion. A colleague has asked me to participate in his pilot study. My cat has destroyed one of his toys. A former neighbour has decided to move back into his old apartment.

Present perfect progressive.
The vet has been giving us many tips on healthy nutrition. My supervisor has been supporting me in my work from day one. I have been thinking about this a lot. My closet has been threatening to explode because of how full it is.

Past perfect.
I had planned to visit my friends in Mexico, Colombia, and Chile. I had thought I could keep trying and fighting. My cat had tried to eat that plant, which is why it ended up dying. The other manager had told me I couldn't return the item to the store.

Past perfect progressive.
I had been meaning to sew new curtains for my bedroom. The roof gutter had been leaking for months. The police officer had been threatening me with high fines and taking away my license. My cat had been waiting behind the curtain for me to walk past him unawares.

Future I - will/going to.
It will all be okay. I am going to give my cat a treat. I will drink even more apple juice tomorrow. I am going to see more cricket matches. I still won't understand the rules though. I will miss a few people.

Future I progressive.
I will be continuing this blog. Hollywood will be producing more and more Marvel movies. I will be traveling again. I will be working on finding solutions for everything.

Future II.
One month from right now, I will have left Trinidad.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Iz sooo smart!


Quick notification:

I'm super super smart and watched some YouTube videos on my phone using my own data so of course now I've run out - four days before I go back to Trinidad and my WiFi-filled apartment. Therefore, I won't be posting any more until then.

Right now I'm using the agonizingly slow and patchy (compared to that in my house) WiFi connection at Starbucks, but over the next few days I won't have any time for iced lattes and leisurely writing, because on Sunday is the day I'll be introduced into godmotherhood for realzies - yay!

Therefore, you'll have to wait for the next posts until I'm back in Trinidad, but it's not like you're not used to that. ...

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a picture collage from Burggarten, where I wrote the previous post before posting it here.


See you in the Caribbean!

Quacking little duckers!


I'm in Austria, which means I'm away from my desk and my laptop and my printed little library and the actual library on campus and my office and my colleagues and my supervisor. What it doesn't mean is that I'm on vacation.

I have some articles with me that I have to read and I'm replying to emails where I can (though it's proving itself a challenge with only my phone and my mom's computer at hand), I have my thesis notebook so I can keep working on the questionnaire and the interview structure and the outline of the timeframe I'm continually setting and resetting. And I have a Sith-load of appointments. Only about a third of which are related to seeing friends and family, who I'm not actually getting to see enough of. No, I'm seeing all kinds of doctors (nothing's wrong, just annual checkups), I'm seeing my bank person (nothing wrong, an ATM just ate my card on day one of my stay here), I'm seeing my bank person again (because we're having a secret affair... not. I just love visiting the bank so much... not. Because living abroad means there's crazy much to take care of whenever you're in the country... this one's the truth.), I'm seeing my dentist (because "people who are really good with brushing their teeth tend to get kicked in the butt with flossing-related issues" - his words, paraphrased), and then there are an estimated sixteen million shopping errands, because of what I have to do here and what I can't get there.

I'm having a good time, don't get me wrong. I enjoy all of that because it's so easy to get it all done here. I already said this in the food post, but there's really nothing like walking all over town and taking trams and buses and metros. I'm being serious. And I also love the feeling I get when, at the end of the day, I look at my crammed calendar and get to tick off every single item. Accomplishment feels awesome! And that's also something I miss when I'm at school, not because I don't do anything, eh, but because the process is slower.

Sounds like a lot, though. Fun or no fun.

And that's why I took a day off.

For a while before heading over here I'd had the idea that I wanted to go somewhere for a day where I hadn't been before. I used to travel a lot, as you know, just look at the other posts on this blog, and since I started with my new university programme I've been stuck on Trinidad and it. is. killing. me.

Not having more time to go places means I have to take advantage of being here in Europe. Last year, I went to Rome for a week. This year, I don't have enough time for something like that. So the idea was to go somewhere new inside Austria. We might be a small country but there's tons to discover so don't think there's no surprises left just because I'm from here and grew up here.

A place I've wanted to visit ever since I first heard of it is the Green Lake in Styria, but for a series of reasons that ended up not being possible. My next idea, after about seven minutes of research, was to go to to Attersee. There's a bunch of Strandbäder (basically beaches) and one of them has a kayak rental and on top of that there's the option of doing a Klimt walk. The painter used to work there and you can explore the landscape that specifically inspired his paintings. Buuut I slept terribly the night before and it would have been irresponsible to drive that far so we ended up going somewhere else. (Don't worry, Attersee, I'll come by another year.)

My mom decided that she also needed a day off and to spend more one on one quality time with me, so she took the day off work and accompanied me.

This is where we went:
Neufelder See.



On the border of Lower Austria, just inside Burgenland, only about half an hour from Vienna. The water has A+ quality, it wasn't going to be too full as it was Tuesday, perfect.

Stereotypes!!!

We settled down on rented beach beds and just relaxed for a bit, when suddenly I heard quacking. That's because we were in for a super cool surprise: ducks!

The website hadn't mentioned these so I was very surprised when they suddenly waddled up right next to me and didn't give a single quack about us humans. They weren't scared or anything, badass little duckers.



They proceeded to show off by going in the water. At that time it wasn't show-off-y, but I realized that it had been when I tried to get into the water myself. It was freaking freezing!

The internet hadn't mentioned that either... And there was a display showing the outside and there water temperatures - as 32 and 25 degrees Celsius - but it was obviously broken. No way was it that hot out and warm in. Later, that even rose to 36 and 26 degrees, but I swear on my crocheted bikini top that that was still incorrect.

I did make it into the water, but it took me so long that I refuse to disclaim how long exactly. Hey, what matters is that I made it!


After that came coffee, more toe-dipping - I mean, swimming... more swimming! - some reading and about half an hour of sleeping in the sun - all in all very good, exactly what a day off is supposed to be about.

We didn't stay too long, though, because while the typical Austrian Strandbad food is delicious (Langos, fries, sausages, etc), we had seen one of our four Oldtimer Raststation restaurants on the way to the lake - basically a fancy truckstop for vacationers, well, and trucks. And they always have salad bars. Mmm salad!!


After that, it was only about ten or fifteen minutes to reach back into the city and the rest of the afternoon was spent doing nothing.

Because relaxing is exhausting!

Take that, logic.

I'm already back to running around Vienna like a beheaded chicken, getting this and taking care of that, all the while enjoying the fact that I can, as I've explained, exhaustively. However, no matter how much I enjoy the things I'm doing, that break was awesome. 

Now I'm off to errand-ing again, byeee!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

And a waffle on a stick.


During this time I've been in Austria so far, I've been eating like a king. Which makes sense, because I am a king (this is a Real Austrian Embassy reference, in case you weren't sure).

I don't mean I've been eating like a king in that I'm starting to look like a typical king as the result: fat round belly, beard, the works. I don't have a fat round belly (and don't you dare tell me otherwise), a single beardhair (knock on wood), or any work (this one, I'm not happy about). I also don't mean I have a legion of personal cooks, waiting staff, and a food taster. I get and prepare my own food (most of the time), I only get waited on when I pay for that type of service (at a restaurant!), and I don't think anybody wants to poison me (read: hope).

What I do mean is that over the past two weeks I have been eating things I love - exclusively. That's not always the case, add that in Trinidad I can't get all the things I love (because my favorite foods are very specific and often place- and season-bound). Sometimes, I even have to eat things I don't like at all, just because that's all there is. I'm not exactly complaining here, that's just how life works; I'm saying that during my visit to the mothership, um.. motherland, I mean... anyway, I'm being very conscious and selective about what I consume. By that, I do, of course, mean picky and annoying.

I walk around with this mental list of all the things I remember missing in the last eight to ten months, because I'm too lazy to calculate how much time passes between the end of September and the beginning of July of the following year. And I try to combine meeting friends with getting those foods and drinks and experiences, too, but mostly food and drinks.

The experience I missed the most is being independent: going wherever I want whenever I want without having to wait around for anyone or asking people for rides or thinking forever about whether it's doable and safe or not. And I have that here, in Austria. All the time. I walk to my appointments, up and down and around various districts of the city. In the morning, in the evening, at night. I take reliable public transportation or my mom's car when something's out of walking distance. It almost doesn't matter how I get from A to B or U or T, or T again (see what I did there, I lightened the mood). What matters is that I, isa, do my, isa's, things whenever and however I, isa, want to. And it feels gorgeous.

Oh, how I missed thee, bliss-bringing and empowering winged shoes of independence. Thou fittest perfectly, no blisters ever.

So because that's a given, this post is about food. And because we just saw what happens when I try to be poetic, I'm not going to describe what I've been munching on (which translates to "what this Austrian missed stuffing her face with in the great faraway lands beyond the sea"), I'm going to put up a few of the fifteen thousand pictures I took.










Now, a thought crept into my forebrain, or wherever the conscious deliberations happen, while I was enjoying that last plate pictured above: This is reminding me of that one photo series I saw that one time on that one website. I know, I'm being super specific. You know, the one about what prisoners on death row ordered for their last meal.

Weren't expecting that, were you?

And, bear with me, it really is a lot like that. I'm not dying or about to be executed (I hope... I do have a meeting with my supervisor when I get back...), but I am making a series of very carefully thought out decisions, because pretty much all of the above is not going to be available to me anymore starting next Monday. Either because it doesn't exist in Trinidad, or because you can only get similar things and not the exact same thing, or because I just can't afford the tediously imported product. Buncha reasons. But because of that, in a way, they all are last meals.

And because I'm me, I sat down and thought about what I would order as my last meal on the eve of my execution, should that scenario ever come to pass (though, how, I don't know).

And here's the answer:

It would be a x-course meal of bite sized portions of all my favourite foods, prepared perfectly, to the t, how I like them. I'm saying "x" instead of a specific number because taste and personal preferences change over time and who knows what I'll like best then. But I can imagine that it would include some kind of fresh salad, seafood (maybe ceviche peruano and some sushi), steak, brussels sprouts (no, you're weird), McDonald's fries and vanilla ice cream, Austrian bread and cheese, fruit,... a lot of stuff. Hence the bite sized portions.

And a waffle on a stick.

Because I've never had one and I've always wanted to try one and I'm just thinking it's as good an opportunity as any.

Though the blog post describing my impression of it would never happen, of course.


Monday, July 20, 2015

She wants the DD!


I heard a piece of relatively random and certainly unimportant (in the big picture of life, that is) news a little while ago and forgot about it again until just before I started getting ready for my trip to Austria. That's because the news had to do with Vienna; being that that's the city where DunkinDonuts, (not) everybody's favourite olde donut shoppe, opened two brand new locations. One is on the recently redesigned Mariahilfer Straße and the other - lucky me - is all of ten minutes from my mom's apartment, right here in Favoriten, just below Reumannplatz.

For obvious reasons, I had to go as soon as I had the opportunity.

In case it's not obvious to you, quick explanation: it's not that I'm some huge fan of donuts. Not at all, actually. I just used to get DD coffee whenever I flew out of FLL Hollywood Int'l Airport, because there was a little outlet in the terminal that served Caribbean and South American airlines, as well as Spirit. And the second reason is that there also used to be DunkinDonuts in Bogotá and I'd get coffee there from time to time. That was before Juan Valdez had WiFi. Which brings me to reason number three: DD has WiFi and my mom doesn't.

Favoritenstraße

Oh mah gaah! Plaah-gs!

So now I sit here once a week to enjoy a gigantic iced latte (non-fat decaf double shot soy vanilla... not) and bum around online and update my Kindle and download some podcast episodes. In fact, that's what I'm doing right now (Can't wait to listen to Paul Rudd on Nerdist tonight!).

Last time, the first time, I was here I enjoyed a Cookie Monster donut and a giant (read: large) iced latte. Because even though I'm not big into donuts, it's still fun to try their pretty and creative little concoctions.




Today I went for the same large iced latte, because I like simple; simple is nice. But I opted for trying a different donut, the one with the heartbeat. Drawn-on, not a real one. That'd be weird.


Fun fact: heartbreak is no longer to be feared!

If somebody breaks your heart - or eats half of it - then don't worry, there's a bright side. A bright red side. Jelly!


So that's why she wants it, the DD. Because donuts, coffee, reminiscence, and WiFi.

All of which I'm done with now, so this is buh-bye for today.

Buh-bye!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

TempTU-tation


I met someone.

I am really not looking for anything;
I don't want to be found.

It's not one of my priorities.

Every now and then,
for a special event or when I want to feel pretty,
I'll go for it.

But still.

And yet.

I met someone.

I'm talking about make-up.
And this new someone's name is TempTU.

My mom has a new job at this company, TempTU, which specializes in make-up (I know, so not me.), and she invited me to come pick her up after work so we could go have a coffee together. I said sure.

When I arrived after a long walk around town she still wasn't done for the day so she asked me to come upstairs to wait in their nice waiting area. I said sure.

The waiting area is right next to their showroom so mom said why not take a little look around. I said sure.

Feel free to try out some of the products at this cool Hollywood starlet make-up station. I said sure.

I shouldn't have!

This is the meet-cute I've been leading you towards, this is where I met and fell for this "someone". Here's why I fell and here's why it's so surprising and here's why I wish I hadn't.

See, TempTU isn't just a make-up company, no. They specialize in professional make-up. Everyday you and me can, of course, use it as well, but it's the type of make-up that pros go for. And make-up artists. Conchita Wurst is a client of theirs!

That says it all, I think. They're for the beautiful and the fabulous.

And for those who want to feel that way, even if we don't always put ourselves into that category.

I'm no princess, far from it. But there, I felt like one. I hardly ever wear make-up and if I do, it rarely goes beyond mascara and eyebrow shadow. But there, I wanted to get "dolled up" - do people still say that? I don't care, I want to do it.


If this crazy amount if glamour doesn't make you want to join the party, I don't know what will.

TempTU has all kinds of products of their own and they also work with some other brands, or at least have other brands' products in their showroom. They have a whole line of airbrush make-up. I didn't use that, obviously, but it looked really cool. Here's what I tried out (because I was surrounded by inviting testers).

A non-edited photo of my face after going crazy at the make-up table. 
(With me, going crazy means using four products.)

I look at this picture and think, hey, my eyes look huge and pretty - but: without being arrogant or anything, that's rather easy for me to achieve, because I have long lashes. So as soon as I use almost any kind of product, my eyes pop. Therefore, we'll ignore them for now.

Here's what I want you to look at.


I did crop this picture at the bottom, but there's no other edit. Isn't this lipstick gorgeous?

And I don't even like pink!

What is happening to me?!

The lipstick is called Pink Hype (aptly named, I must say) and it's from TempTU's own pro lip make-up line called ColorTru. Then I finished the "look" with a little clear gloss from the same line, as in, also by TempTU.

Now, let me repeat: I am no girlie girl. I do own lipstick (two kinds), but I never wear them except for special occasions (like my Rome trip, for example). It's true, the last time was Christmas (it's July). I should also add, at this point in the post, that that I'm not getting anything for this. Neither does my mom. In fact, I haven't even told her I'm writing this. And nobody at TempTU knows that their accountant's daughter has a blog. I'm writing this simply because I cannot for the life of me get that lipstick out of my mind and I need to tell someone about it. So why not tell you, dear one reader?

What's more, I haven't even told my mom how much I love that lipstick. Not necessarily the bright pink one specifically, but that line in general. Hi mom, surprise!

This post is getting long and I'm just rambling. But remember when your friend fell for this girl and wouldn't stop talking about her or looking at her photo and stopped being able to talk coherently and all that? That's what's happening here.

Because it was the middle of the day and not an evening (maybe even with a nice outdoors summer party, that colour would have been perfect for that...), I took off the gloss and toned down the intensity of the lipstick a bit:

Even the paper towel looks great now!

And here's the reason.
The reason I fell.
The reason I fell so hard.

As someone who hardly ever wears anything on her face anymore and only uses lip product once in a blue moon, I don't have a clue about how to take care of it while I'm wearing it. I tend to forget that I am, so I'm not careful at all. About my lips, I mean, when I eat or drink out do anything else that brings the face and things into close proximity.

Yet. Yet! When I got home that evening, hours later, that lipstick still looked perfect.

It's no wonder the pros use TempTU and it's no wonder they're on the face of covergirls and models in magazines.


And it's no wonder I can't forget them...

What a temptation to just go back and get it.

Sigh...

Monday, July 13, 2015

Earbuddy!


The inventor strikes again, so here's another DIY post (now you have to go "away" and be all excited).

I don't know how you feel about knots and tangles in your earphone cable, but I, for one, dislike them. I do, in fact, dislike them so much that I stopped taking my headphones with me unless absolutely necessary. And this here is a person who loved music and recently also podcasts, so it means something that I'd go so far as to completely swear off music on the go just because of the regular frustrations of struggling with Gordian cable knots.

This is not a rant post, though, as I said at the beginning it's about a DIY project. I have found a solution and want to share it with you. Because I love you. ::whispers:: Forever... ::lightly blows on the back of your neck::

I'm not saying I'm the ultimate inventor of this thing, by no means, I'm sure this idea already exists and tons of people have made it or maybe you can even but it somewhere. But I came up with it one day at home, through no outside inspiration whatsoever. And I'm calling it the EARBUDDY.

All you need is

- a little container with a wide lid
- a sweet tooth (optional)

I'm saying you might need a sweet tooth because you're likely to find the right kind of container in the candy section of your local supermarket. And I'm mentioning the wide lid so you don't get something where you can't get the plugs and cable into or out of.

I tried two things: a Hubba Bubba roll-up gum box and a little box of Lifesavers Duo Fruit&Cool. This is not an advertisement; in fact, I find both those sweets disgusting.

The Lifesavers won, because their container opens and closes perfectly and the gum box seemed in the end like it would pop open randomly and unexpectedly. And that's not the point of this at all.

Here's the final product:


Really, this almost doesn't count as a DIY project, because you don't have to do anything yourself. All you do is take out the candy and wipe the inside of the container to get rid of the sugar dust. Then you can but don't have to take off the stickers on the outside of the box.

I then went ahead and took a sharpie to it and ruined the whole thing with my anti-talent for drawing.


But hey, it still works and I'm very happy with my new knot- and tangle-free life full of instant access to music and stories - or ways out of awkward encounters, you know, when you want to pretend you can't hear that person that's calling you from across the street because you really don't want to deal with them right now even though there's no music coming through the earplugs and they're actually not even connected to anything in your pocket... Not that I ever do that.

Anyway, happy listening!


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Long everything.


It's been a long year so far. A ton of stuff has happened. Good, not so good, and wonderful.

I am no longer alone, because on January 1st a little kitten adopted me. He, Macaquinho, is absolutely adorable, playful, and fun. And he's long, very slender and long. You should see that Guy stretch! My human family also grew when my dear Iris and Wolfgang brought the lovely Hannah into this world. Hannah is even about to officially become family, by becoming my goddaughter. It's a long-distance-relationship, family edition.

My research is progressing - more slowly than I'd like, but we're getting somewhere. I'm currently in the process of getting all the approvals I need to send my survey questionnaire, which I'm piloting right now, out into the world. It's super long, that questionnaire, with a total of 67 questions. Those questions are interesting, though, they make you think. And they're mostly closed-ended - multiple choice & Co - so it's not terrible.

What else is there? New laptop, broken laptop, more broken laptop, no laptop, repaired laptop. And I got Netflix. Long hours spent listening to really cool movies and TV shows. Listening, mainly, because I just can't sit still long enough to fully concentrate on watching something without doing anything else at the same time. All those ailments I've been complaining about healed (no worries, I replaced them with some minor new ones, of course) and I'm almost completely intact right now. Let's hope this wasn't a jinx! I've been crocheting like a madwoman and I even baked a bit since my oven was fixed for real. I don't know how to build the "long" theme into those last ones, you'll forgive me.

But yes, it's definitely been a long year.

And this week, Monday and yesterday, almost punctually at the halfway mark, I went through another long thing. The way to Austria. (Cos, like, that's where I am right now.)

Somehow, I managed to book the weirdest connections and now I'm going to tell you about them.

POS-TAB

First, naturally, I flew from Trinidad to Tobago. Naturally, because Condor flies into ANR Robinson Int'l on Tobago and not Piarco Int'l on Trinidad. In Tobago I did something I'd been looking forward to for almost a year, since the last time I made that connection on my way to Europe: I had fried chicken.

But isa, you live surrounded by KFCs and other fried chicken chains! Why did you have to go all the way to Tobago to eat some? Well, my dear, that's simple. I hate KFC in Trinidad (the few times I ate there I got sick because the food is ridiculously greasy) and I don't like any of the other chains for the same reason.

However, there's this little place right in the airport over in Tobago and, oh goorsh, it's great. The chicken smells, feels, and tastes like real and fresh chicken, not like it was processed in five different big machines and then fried and then keeper warm somewhere until sold. The outside is crispy and crunchy and almost dry, not soggy, limp, and stale. And the service. The service! The outsole who work in there are so friendly and sweet, I can't even think of an appropriate comparison.


After I was done enjoying my meal, I sat and crocheted until it was time to head to the gate. The flight was delayed by an hour because the plane came in late, but when your belt is full and you have your latest crochet project and you're fully charged kindle, you don't even notice the wait.


TAB-BGI

That flight was funny, because of Condor's organisation. It was officially counted as part one of the flight to Frankfurt, so the flight number was the same on both flights. The passengers, however, wouldn't be, as some left and others joined while the plane was cleaned and re-stocked and -fueled in Barbados. So upon boarding, the stewardess at the door told everyone that it was free choice of seats until Barbados. Of course, that meant that everybody was confused - I rarely hear that much giggling and laughter between strangers on a plane.

The wait in Barbados was uneventful, but I did take advantage of the time to stroll around the duty free shop and get a little something for the parents. You know, being a nice daughter and whatnot.

BGI-FRA

At somewhere in the close vicinity of nine hours, this flight made up the bulk of the trip. It wasn't the most comfortable of experiences, but I had a surprisingly good time, to be honest. Condor, who I usually complain about because of their limited entertainment programme on board, entertained me for the whole flight.

Whaaat? Hooow?!

They had the usual very few watchable things, but I ventured into the audio past of the programming and was truly and very positively surprised. I was able to expand my musical horizon by listening to the latest albums of bands I've been interested in but haven't had the time (read: kept forgetting to) look into some more.

People, it's official: I like Of Monsters And Men.


Frankfurt itself was fun. I didn't go into the city like I did last year, because I had a quicker connection. But that connection's direction was unusual.

First, the "fun" I had in Frankfurt.

I'm usually pretty good at security checks and general airport things. I have, after all, done it all often enough. This time, though, and I'm not sure why, I totally messed up. Maybe it was because I hadn't slept for more than an hour (not consecutively) on the plane, maybe it was coincidence.

It was me and my two small bags that had to go through security. And all of us got double checked by Fraport personnel. I made the metal detector beep, for no reason, according to the attending officer. "It just does that sometimes." No problem, I had time. But then, my first bag got a red light in the X-ray machine. Apologetically, I turned to the officer and explained that I was traveling with my 8mm crochet hook. Guy looks at me and says "No problem, that's not what this is about." So I racked my brain trying to figure out what I had in that bag that could be causing trouble and came up blank. Turns out, the rum cake I got for my dad was packaged in a tin can inside the cardboard box I saw - whoops. Not a problem at all, but they did have to make sure I want carrying bomb accessories/ingredients. Then the other bag got a red light. Now I really was dumbstruck, because the other one had been checked at an earlier airport (crochet hook...) but not this one. What could be causing this? I didn't have anything forbidden? I would never take anything through security that could be a problem! - Except for the bottle of waterI got on the other plane and put in my bag. They took the bottle, I took my stuff, and then I walked away with my face redder than the light on the X-ray.

Hashtag smart girl!

Luckily, I was quickly distracted by an adorable little bookshop I found close to my gate and the lunch I had while waiting for boarding.



Bread. Real, good, dark bread full of seeds! With cheese! Real cheese!! Heaven.

Now to the weird direction connection.

Instinct would send us south at this point, wouldn't it? Vienna is south of Frankfurt, after all. However, that's not where I was going.

FRA-HAM

I went north instead, to Hamburg. And then I went back down, past Frankfurt, to Vienna. That's somebody traveling on a student budget for you, right there. Going via Hamburg cost less than half of what a direct flight would have cost!

Wasn't a problem, though; I took the opportunity to get a Hamburg magnet for my collection, because back when I went with my dad in 2011 I wasn't collecting yet. Yay magnets!


Now on to the best part of this ridiculously long journey: arriving.

HAM-VIE

For the most part of the trip, the main thought occupying my mind was how much I was going to miss and already missed my little kittie cat (who is at home, being taken care of by a friend who moved into my place for just that reason). Now, finally, something else moved to the forefront. Not that I no longer missed my muppi, trust me, I did and still do. But I had something else to focus on now.

VIE

I'd love to tell you about some movie-like moment, where I walked out the double doors into the arrivals hall and my eyes locked onto my family waiting for me and then music played and we all hugged in slow motion... but that's not how life works. Especially when you're tired and not wearing your glasses!

I walked out and saw a sea of people and nobody I recognised, until I heard a familiar voice calling my name. And then again. And again - then I finally found them. Yes, Hollywood, put that in a movie, I dare you.

There they were! Not just my mom and Peter, but also Iris and Wolfgang and Hannah! Hannah was there!!

I can't believe those people. They came all the way out to the airport, all three of them, just to receive me and give me all the hugs and chat for a few minutes. I mean, we all went home then, separately. They literally came out there just for that. I must have been one crazy nice person in a past life to deserve friends like that. Wow. And family of course.

And then about four minutes after I got to the apartment I left again to go see my dad. More hugs. It was great.

What a trip, right?
Long? Yes. Tiring? Yes. Worth it? Yes!

Why?
Because family.
Because friends.
And because Hannah was there!!!