Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Should have turned it off.


Okay,  so there's this lab. And all they do in this lab is run simulations. Simple ones and complex ones, long ones and short ones, of all kinds of situations and scenarios. Most of them are just programmed, set to run on their own, and given a little alarm for when they're done, so somebody can come by, print the resulting graphs and reports, and click start on the next one. But there's this one sectioned off part of the lab that not just anyone can get into. It's only senior staff in there, with special certifications and extra training, and only they have the authorization to enter. Even the cleaning staff can't get in there, except for two people who have been given clearance to come in and clean, but only at specific times and under constant supervision. 

Now, the simulations they run in there are the most complex of all. And the most fickle. They have an extremely long runtime and are prone to errors and all manner of complications. If anything goes wrong in one of those and nobody is around to take corrective action, well, that could be bad. So bad, that the whole thing would just implode, all data collected up to that point would be lost, and they would have to be started all over again. Da capo. Setting research back years, possibly decades. 

Each one of those simulations runs on its own machine, with emergency generators and everything else necessary to ensure they run smoothly and uninterrupted. And each one of those simulations has its own lab tech, dedicated to nothing but observing the simulation, keeping it on track,  and preventing it from failing, from destroying itself. A science nanny, if you will.  Switch it on in the morning, monitor it all day, turn it off at day's end so it doesn't run unwatched overnight and spin out of control.

This morning, the tech came in and all the way from the door saw that, while the screen was off, the little blinky light at the bottom of the machine that indicates that the device is on and the simulation is running was going blink... blink... blink.

Blood drains from face. Cold sweat starts pouring. Dizziness. Nausea. Panic.

And with good reason, because that simulation is us. And that lab tech is fired.

As are we. 

Meaning, we've set ourselves on fire and burned ourselves into extinction.

Sounds dramatic, but I challenge you to disagree.

The simulation hypothesis is a big thing at the moment. It's been a thing for a while, but I feel it's only gotten big recently. And it's actually pretty fascinating. I mean, you literally can't disprove it:


I'm not educated enough in that field to give an opinion on the science, but it's perfect for describing how I feel about our world right now.

Think about it: more and more seismic activity, meteorological madness, environmental and humanitarian disasters. Terrorism, war, famine; racism, sexism, hatred; fear, loneliness, death. Everything bad is on the rise and, yes, there's good too, but it's barely shining through. Amid the smoke and rubble of Brexit, Colombia's No to peace, extremism of all kinds in all kinds of places... and the literal smoke and rubble left behind where people's homes used to be... I can't see a lot of light.

Yes, there have always tragedies, but for quite a while now it's felt like there's no respite. There's no time to recover from one thing before you're confronted with the next. There's no catching your breath. Blow after blow after blow. Shitstorm. Clusterfuck. 

One more thing to be noted about the simulation hypothesis: there's autonomy. I'm not taking our free will out of the equation. We are, all of us, one hundred percent responsible for what we've done to the planet and ourselves. Because what can you really expect from beings who value status more than morals, money more than connection, things more than lives?

Those screwed up priorities inside of us are what we need to change in order to fix our situation. Societal as well as environmental. If that's still possible.

Yet, somehow, the far right is on the rise all over Europe, people have stopped taking politics seriously despite being aware of the ramifications and consequences that has, and the citizens of the US have just voted a xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, unreasonable, aggressive, tasteless, disrespectful, dishonest, racist, sexist, and, frankly, completely ridiculous manchild into what's arguably the most powerful position on the planet. 

Are we even aware of what we're doing anymore?
Can we please stop pretending like everything is a game?
Can we please start paying attention?

Because the lab tech left and we need to hit the brakes. Hard. Now.



PS: I know I said I wouldn't write about politics anymore, but this is so much more than that. And my dear fellow Austrians, we have less than three weeks to go until our third attempt at electing a president this year... just make sure to, you know, think long and hard about where you're going to cast your ballot. But do cast it; there's no such thing as an unimportant voice. Thanks. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Do I miss her?


Yep.

Quite a bit, actually.

Who's "her," you ask? Justified question, unless you spend a lot of time around me. Then you'd know.

She is Colombia.

Why is Colombia a she, not an it? Or a he, for that matter? Hwell, it would make sense in that the country is a neutral noun in German. "Das Land" is neither feminine nor masculine, so using "it" in English would be a logical solution for this Austrian girl. Similarly, "he" could be my pronoun of choice, seeing how I always talk about loving, missing, adoring, dreaming about,... Colombia. But no. She's a she to me.

I'm talking about this now, because I realized that, aside from being back for over a year now, I also haven't gone anywhere in over a year.

I haven't left the continent.
I haven't left my time zone.
I haven't left the country. (Passau doesn't count; it's so close to the border it might as well be Austria still.) 
I haven't left the region. (Passau doesn't count; it was barely a whole weekend we spent there.)
I've barely even left Vienna. I mean, I never even went more than an hour's drive away. (Passau bla bla...)
In fact, I barely even leave my district - if not my neighbourhood!

Might as well stop leaving the house altogether...

No, don't worry, it won't come that far.

However, I realized I haven't been in Austria for this long continuously EVER!

Annual holidays with the family every year. Then language study programmes every year. Then I got my backpack. No stopping after that, until UWI. But "at least" I was away. But now... It just... Stop.

If we discount the family vacations (because those weren't my choice, my own trips and travels), then I still haven't been here for this page a chunk of time in over seventeen years. The time I haven't been really sedentary could vote and drink if it was a person! Think about that! My mind would have blown now if it hadn't melted four paragraphs up.

Now, I think I can make this work.

It's just another kind of journey. I'm spending time with my friends, I'm reconnecting and re-inserting myself into my family, I'm in training to become a professional in a field that's otherwise new to me, I'm having a lot of #ohnoimagrownup moments. Stuff is happening. And things.

And I plan on not being in the same place all the time as soon as I have a proper income and my savings account is again collecting savings, not needing to be saved (from starvation).

One thing that's standing out the most, though, is how long I haven't been in Colombia. It's been over three and a half years. I know that's not objectively a long time, but to me it is. I do get homesick a lot (sorry, mom). A little while ago, I saw this video posted on YouTube and immediately felt the añoranza, the saudade, the homesickness so badly, I just couldn't stop crying (sorry, mom).  I actually -for real- had to call my mom so she would console me over the phone. Hey, mom, have I apologised yet? Sorry, mom.

I'm now in the process of "Colombia-nising" my place in hopes of it making me feel better. Not just about missing her but about the whole stuckness. To remind myself that this is temporary and I'll be able to be my roaming self again soon. A toned down version, at least. Turns out, when you work full time outside of an academic setting, you can't just take three to six months off and still have a job when you come back. Whaaat? Fellow adults (sure, that's what we are, not bill-paying kids), please tell me how you do it. I have to learn to successfully live like this without losing myself and my happiness in the process. And soon!

I haven't come far with the "Colombia-nification" of my place yet, but I've made a start.

Check it out:


So yes, I miss her. So crazy much.

But I'm fine.

Promise.


Friday, September 16, 2016

One Year.


One year ago.

Today.

I got here.


One year ago today I got here.


It's been quite the year. Probably one of the more intense ones I've lived through so far. Uproot yourself, turn around and around and around and somehow end up facing the opposite way you had been facing thus far, pack as much of your stuff as you can into your backpack and give or throw away everything else, grab your kittie, get on a plane, and thank the old gods and the new for your incredible family who provide you with a safety net the size and shape of a new chance.

That's how I got here.

During this year, I've found an apartment, put stuff in it, put a lot of work into figuring out who to be and what to do, gotten some things checked out and/or fixed, applied to a lot of jobs, gotten a lot of rejections, lost hope, found hope again, found a field of work I'm interested in, gotten into a traineeship programme in that field, gotten to welcome a little niece and a little nephew into my world, reconnected with old friends, found some new ones, started putting more effort into reconnecting with my family, and done so, so, so much thinking.

Now, I think I'm okay.

There's a lot that still needs to get done. Small and simple things as well as big and complicated ones. I've a lot left to learn - in the immediate future, not overall. Overall, learning never ends, luckily. I'm referring to things I need to figure out right now.

I've been here for a year.
A year ago today was the last time I've been on a plane.
I've done and grown a lot this year.
I'm far from done.

For my first year of life as Isabella 2.0, though, it hasn't been terrible.

Thank you for that.

Off into year two now.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Trust Issues.


I'm a busy bee these days. Weeks. Months, actually. Ve-hery busy. But today, I was stopped dead in my tracks and I just have to talk about this.

There's this Austrian candy, which most Austrians I know don't like because it's so sweet. But it's also very traditional-looking and great as a little edible souvenir, which is why tourists and those receiving Austrian guests in their homes are super familiar with it. I am, of course, talking about Mozartkugeln.

Mozart('s) balls.

I know, I'm twelve...

Now, a lot of souvenir or candy shops like displaying them in crazy quantities. Big vase-like, clear plastic containers full of hundreds and hundreds of little marzipan-nougat-chocolate balls.

Of course, I know that there's not actually hundreds of chocolate candies in sun-filled shop windows. Usually, there's a styrofoam or cardboard filler in the middle and the balls are placed around and on top to make the container look full.

Today, however, the last piece of innocent, no-questions-asked trust was stolen from me.

There is no Christkind and no Easter bunny.

The cake is a lie.

The few balls in those displays. Are. Not. Real.

Plastic.

I will never be able to trust again.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Championship done.


So, I guess Austria lost to Iceland in the EURO2016 on Wednesday. We're now out of the competition and the boys are probably on their way back home. I think... I'm not sure.

Why don't I know?

Because:

#whatisthisfootballyouspeakof

Yeah, absolutely zero.


PS: I made this. If you've seen it on 9gag or Facebook then you saw my upload.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Championship Humour.


Today is the beginning of the European Championship #EURO2016 in France. I'm not sure I got the name right, because all I ever see us that hashtag or what people call it on social media. Which is the same as the hashtag but without the hashtag. As in, the pound sign.

I don't know almost anything about football, to be honest. Are we playing any matches anytime soon? We being Austria. Are we out yet? Were we even in to begin with? I don't know any of that, but I do know that something else starts today along with the cup:

The Worldwide Barrage of Terrible Puns about Football and Everything Related to It. WBTPRERI. Rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?

I'm going to illustrate what I mean by WBTPFERI by sharing with you my tweet from a few minutes ago.


I know, I know. I'm brilliant. 

Not. 

But hey, follow me on Twitter for more silliness!

You won't regret it. 

Okay, you might. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

The (Old-) Timer


I spoke about growing up yesterday. Yesterday? Maybe earlier. But probably yesterday. I'm not sure.

Here's the link to that: link.

The reason I started talking about "That Grown-Up Thing" now is that I'm having a lot of #ohnoimagrownup moments.

Here's the first example: my watch.

My mom's been working on cleaning out her basement storage unit. First, she wanted to declutter and figure out what's where in terms of boxes. Second, there was also a lot of my stuff still in some of those boxes and now that I have a place of my own here in Vienna, it was her big chance to get rid of all that by returning it to me.

One of the things we found was my old watch. It's a Laks watch with a design by one of my favourite photographers: Andreas H. Bitesnich. I saw his work in Vienna's Kunsthaus (aka Hundertwasserhaus) a bunch of years ago and fell in love. Naturally, there was no hesitation when I saw a watch with one of his designs on it. What's more, it was a limited edition and all proceeds went towards helping people living with the HIV virus as well as full-on AIDS.

Here's my gorgeous watch.

I mean... look at that beauty!

There isn't any risk of growing up (as described in the previous post) in owning a pretty watch. Not even in wearing it.

No. What's risky is that I want to wear it. And not just because I like the way it looks. Oh no! I want to wear it because it'll be more accurate than my phone, which is perpetually fast. I want to wear it because I want to be on time. More than usually. Like, minute precision.

Wow.

A timer is a good thing. But if this manages to force-grow-up me, it'll be an oldtimer in the sense that it's aging the wearer! Me!

We can't let that happen.



And here's the "worst" bit: even before we found this treasure, I had gone online to order myself a wristwatch. I didn't just use my old watch. No. I bought myself my own new watch. Of my own volition! What?!

Danger!!!

Alas, hope has not been lost entirely. There's one thing that can still save me: the fact that the other watch has a world map on its face and the second hand is a teeny tiny little airplane traveling in circles all day long.

Phew, that was close!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

That Grown-Up Thing



This is something I get told a lot and say myself even more.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that being prudent, responsible, and thoughtful is a bad thing. I'm not suggesting ignoring rules or throwing caution to the wind. I'm not condoning childish behaviour.

Instead, what I'm saying is that I love my inner child. Childlike behaviour is wonderful! Being open and curious, playful and excitable, having some of that original innocence left. That's what I don't want to lose.

See, I distinguish between growing up (growing the "big" part and thus shrinking the "little" part, the inner child) and being an adult (this is potentially temporary and doesn't snuff your kiddy candle).

Yes: working hard, learning all kinds of new things, cleaning your apartment, paying your bills on time, saving for the future, doing the laundry and the dishes, taking care of family, helping out friends, being healthy, and aaall those things.

No: concentrating on nothing but work, losing the twinkle in your eyes and the spark in your heart, shutting down your sense of humour, and aaall those things.

I love being an adult, but I love being a kid too. That's why I keep an expense book where I record every single cent I spend (yes, really, down to the cents). And that's also why any time my mom tells me that I'm a grown-up I yell no, stick my tongue out at her and run away. 100% true story.

I'm introducing a little series with this post, where I document some of my oh-no-I'm-a-grown-up moments.

Coming soon:

          The Scarf of Doom
          The (Old-) Timer
          The Dryer Choir

Friday, May 27, 2016

You put what where?!


A few days ago (maybe weeks, I can't know) I was talking to someone (possibly multiple people, I can't know) about cilantro (I know that).

The conversation went the same way it always does:

Somebody: Do you like cilantro?
Me: Ugh, no. But I learned to tolerate it in Colombia, because they put cilantro in everything. It's like, you eat cilantro or you don't eat. About the only thing that's missing is cilantro ice cream or something.

Hwell...

On Tuesday, I went to get coffee with my mom. I remember all of that. After, she wanted to get poppy seed ice cream (really good, by the way) from Eissalon am Schwedenplatz (a very good ice cream shop). I didn't want to get ice cream because I'm trying to get rid of (obvious) sugar in my diet. However, I looked at the list of flavours and my jaw dropped instantly.


Yoghurt Cilantro!

Yoghurt! CILANTRO!!!

ICE CREAM!!!1!

Of course, I immediately discarded the idea of another star sticker in my calendar (I get one of those for every successful sugar-free day) and got myself one scoop of yoghurt cilantro. Yoghurt. Cilantro! ICE CREAM!!!

Here it is.

The brown stuff is chocolate ice cream 
left on the spoon from the previous serving. 
Nothing rotten here. 

You might think that there's not an awful lot of cilantro in there, but if you know cilantro, you'll know this is more than enough. If I had to describe the taste sensation of that flavour combo in one word, it would have to be confusing.

My reaction after every single spoonful: "giggle giggle giggle 'What?'"

It immediately reminded me of chow, where the flavours of sweet and spicy are combined and then mixed with a cilantro overdose to provide a marinade-bath for fruit. This ice cream just lacked the spiciness of salt, pepper, and chili peppers - which I'm very grateful for! The sweetness-but-also-a-bit-sourness of the yoghurt is the main taste bud tickler; the cilantro comes in after and provides the final touch. That's where the giggling starts.

I was definitely surprised by that scoop of ice cream. My second reaction (right after "hey you read my thoughts and stole my sarcastic idea") was one of incredulity: "You put what where?! Cilantro in ice cream? Are you completely nuts? Or Colombian?"

The fourth reaction, though, after the giggles and whats, was absolutely positive. It was 100% worth giving up a star. If you're in the area, make sure to try that weird flavour if it's available again, you'll be surprised too.

In the meantime, keep using your cilantro for guacamole, soup, and salad. Let's leave the experiments to the pros.

For now.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Rise no moah!


Advance clarification: this post is not about the sun, don't worry.

You know how, when you drink a carbonated beverage, the drinking straw gets buoyed up and up by the bubblies, sometimes rising high enough for them to fall out of the glass or the bottle?

Well, worry not.
I have the solution for you.

Yours truly is a "blogger" by day (more like by month, amirite..) and a crazy inventoah by night. Nope, that is not a typo. I'm just too cool for the regular old "inventor" that a new term needed to be found and coined. So I invented that too. </brag> <modesty>

Now for the brilliant idea. <okaynowmodesty>

Here's what you do:


When life gives you lemons, you put a slice in your drink, poke a hole with your straw, and marvel at how perfectly it holds your straw in place.

#lifehack

Just like the hole in the tab of a soda can, the lemon slice holds down your straw in any tabless container.

Great, now I'm thirsty!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Camouflapple.


A quick little post, to share with you this brave young apple's forage into enemy territory.
Pearitory, if you will.

Let's see if you even find the guy.
He's perfectly camouflaged in there.
He's a camouflapple!

Typical caption for a picture like this:
"It's been four days and they still think I'm one of them..."

#camouflapple
#pearitory
#makingupwordsisfun

Did you spot the intruder?

Monday, May 23, 2016

ISA.on.the.RUN


Woohooo!

Wooohoooo!!

Woooohooooohoooohooo!!!

Wohoo!

I RAN MY FIRST 5K YESTERDAY !!!1!

Ok, breathe...

Phew.

Ok.

So, every year in the spring for the past 28 years a special running event has been taking place in Vienna. Yesterday was the 29th time. The event is the Austrian Women's Run - Österreichischer Frauenlauf.

A small step (if any) for mankind, but a freaking gigantic mountain-of-a-leap for me!

Generally, there being a running event and people participating in it is not a big deal. For me, however, ist crazy special. See, until yesterday I'd tell you I'm not a runner. That's now changed.

I used to go jogging more or less regularly when I still lived at home, as in with my mom. Since then, my average moving speed has slowed down substantially. Yeah, I walk very fast (which gets on some people's nerves), but, still, not that fast. My next contact with the sporty shoe didn't happen until last year, when I started running with Clevon, aka The Seismic Guy. Unfortunately, we couldn't go very often before my toe started hurting too bad (Have I told you that story yet?), and then I left Trinidad.

Back here, I soon took up my old hobby of White Nordic Walking, but I didn't decide to run again until April of this year. As in last month. Yeah...

Me being me, I figured the best motivator would be signing up for a 6K that same month. Reality being reality, I failed epically. I wasn't well trained (because running 200m twice is not proper training) and I had a bad cold. Life lesson: if you can't breathe, don't run. I made it to the 500m mark and then completed the first 3K walking. And wheezing. And crying. Awesome.

Because of that, yesterday's 5K was all the more special and important.

I did train this time and had upped my in-one-go track to 1,400m. I had already signed up for the beginner's group, the slowest, knowing I'd be combining walking and running. Many ladies did that, I wasn't the only n00b. I have to mention that for myself rather than for you, eh.

The route.

In order to pace myself properly, I decided to alternate full kilometres of running and walking. I wasn't going to cross the finish line walking, no sir. Run or die trying. (Not really, but I was determined not to repeat the WomanFunRun disaster.)

I ran the first 1.1K.
Then I walked to the 2K mark.
Ran from there to past the next sign, about 3.2K.
Walked a bit further past the 4K marker.
Ran the last about 600m.

That feeling. Crossing that line. And crossing it running! And fast, too! Thanks to an almost-there-adrenaline-boost. Oh, man...

All 33,000 of us got a medal but that doesn't diminish the value one bit.

I want to feel that again.
I want to feel that feeling all the time!

Because of that success, I have decided I'm going to run "for real" now. As soon as I can, I'm getting proper running shoes. I'm going to get a good running app so I can track myself and try to improve as I go (or, rather, run) along. I'm going to participate in as many of the upcoming running events as I can afford. And there are many - and all of them sound like tons of fun. Looking forward to that!

Lots of sponsors = lots of goodies.

This year's shirt. None of these show the actual colour, LOL.

I'm a runner now.
I'm a runner now!
I'M A RUNNER NOW!!!

Thank you, Clevon, for getting me started by putting up with my silliness during your evening runs around campus. Thank you, mom, for not letting me give up after my first failure. Thank you, everyone who didn't say I was too fat to run, for not saying I was too fat to run. You all rock.

Oh, and before I go, just to share - and as a point of reference for myself - here are my results.

My rank: [Do yourself a favour and read this in a Bond voice!]
I came in 1st. 17,561st. [Hahahahaha!!]

My number: 13942.
My starting block: G.
My class: W-25.
My rank within my class: 2,364th.
My net running time: 0:42:11,9 - about 42 minutes.
My average running speed: 7.11kmh.
My average time per km: 8:26 minutes.

None of this might seem impressive, but I came in mid field in my very first real 5K and I am proud and happy and super pumped and proud. Yes, I did mention that twice.

This accomplishment/achievement means a lot to me and the feeling I'm getting from it is one of intense joy. I do believe that in keeping this up, among other things, of course, I'll find my way back to my happy self. Like I found a road sign and it tells me I'm heading in the right direction.

However, the other feeling is one of intense soreness.
I'm off to go spend the night in a tub full of Perskindol.

Friday, May 20, 2016

My plea to your humanity.


This is a serious one.

It's directed mainly to my fellow Austrians, who are -hopefully- making their contribution to the country's future path and direction.

Voting in person in April.

However, it's also directed at non-Austrians, both within the country and without. Ourselves, but also our neighbours and our fellow members of the European Union and, really, everybody everywhere.

This is not just our problem, here in our little red-white-red bubble.
This is big enough to affect everyone, because similar things are happening everywhere.

I'm talking about our second round of this year's presidential election, where green (Dr Van der Bellen, independent/Green Party) faces blue (Norbert Hofer, Austrian Freedom Party). The decision is about to be made. Aleae iactae sunt - and we're all about to get hit in the face. Hard.

I'm not going to tell anyone where to cast their ballot, who to vote for.

But I am going to tell you to vote. Use your right to make your voice heard and steer our country (all our countries) in a hopefully good, wholesome direction.

And I'm going to tell you to think, watch videos, and read (news-)papers and books about our past, present and future. I'm not going to lecture anyone, I don't have knowledge extensive enough to do so. All I ask is for you to take some time to, as I said, think and read. Take a look inside yourself. So you'll be able to make an informed decision on Sunday (or whenever, if you're not from here) and make it one you can stick to later, when the results are in. Remember, we'll have to live with it.

Remote-voting in May, because I might not have time on Sunday.

No matter your personal views and ideologies, we all have to play our part.

Because we're all responsible.

And we're all human, all of us. Equally.
I can only hope it'll show...


[I'm most likely not going to post about politics again. this being an exception, and I'm definitely not making it a regular thing. I just felt the need to speak up. And this is where I do that.]

Saturday, May 14, 2016

200-year-old instagram!!!


Instagram just updated their logo and the in-app design, taking a step towards the future. I, however, am about to reveal instagram's distant past!

Here's my tale:

Today, I went to the Museum of Art History (KHM) with my mom. There was a special event for the museum's 125th "birthday" involving free admission when presenting your public transport annual pass and a free guided tour through the current special exhibit: Feste Feiern - Celebration. I'm translating this as I write, meaning you'll have to check the museum's website to see what the official English name is. Yes, very lazy, I know.

I love our many great museums and actually am a proud owner of a KHM annual pass, but I don't usually do any guided tours, instead just walking around on my own and reading all the placards and wall decal explanations. Thanks to our young art-history-student-and-museum-guide-on-the-side, I learned something new today.


Above is a part of Johann Carl Auerbach's 1773 piece "Court Banquet Celebrating the Engagement of Archduchess Marie Christine and Prince Albert of Saxony on April 2nd, 1766 at Hofburg Palace" (tl;dr rich people eating).

Now, there's nothing much new right there, a bunch of royals eating off golden plates at the table in the centre, a bunch of lesser royals and nobles sitting or standing around them watching them eat, plenty of servants and guards everywhere. What was new to me was that in order for the audience to know when the big fish in the middle were receiving their next dish, fanfares announced every new course to the spectators.

That's kind of like sitting in a sports arena or stadium and relying on the announcer to give you the information you can't get from just watching, because you're way back and up, in the cheapest of seats. That's pretty wacky, but not too crazy.

What is seriously nuts is the fact that outside the castle or palace cannons were fired so as to allow the townspeople and the nearby peasants to also follow the royal banquet plate by plate. Cannons! So the peasantry would know when the fancypants received another plate- or bowlful of food most likely prepared, at least in part, from the tenth of the crop they had to hand over with every harvest.

So I'm in the museum, looking at the picture and listening to the guide and I'm like, "Dude! It's instagram!"

And I mean it!
Think about it!

Transport that setting into our times and what you get is a bunch of rich people (not to point fingers but... probably the Kardashians) blasting out picture after picture of #foodporn and #dinnerselfie and #blessed to their hundreds of thousands of followers who sit around, phone in hand, waiting to see more. On one side, the followers will react with #goals and whatnot and, on the other, tweet about how those rich b******s are really just annoying wannabes with too much undeserved money.

I'd like to believe that, back then, the scenario would have been similar, if offline. Two peasant teenagers going on and on about how Lady X totally needs to stop stuffing her face, because last time she rode by their fields they saw that she was getting, like, really fat. And how Prince Y is, like, so cute, but he's also, like, a bad boy, because he definitely cheated on Baroness Z. And, really, they should all just, like, #checkyourprivilege or #gtfo.

Or something like that.

#keepingupwiththehabsburgs

You may or may not be able to tell that I had a lot of fun (in my head) at the museum today.

All I can say is go and see it all for yourself. The museum is open year round and even if admission fees are a little steep, it's worth it. Especially if you reserve at least five hours for the visit: that should give you enough time to at least browse through everything.

The special anniversary exhibition opened on March 16th of this year and will be open in this shape and form until September 11th. After that, only the pieces that reside at this location anyway will remain, while items on loan will be returned to their regular homes (which include museums like the Prado in Madrid - how cool is that!).

You'll think of me when you see the painting and hear or read about the 18th century's weird customs. And you'll enjoy the art, even if you don't go spinning tales in your mind like I did.

And now we know: #foodie et al are absolutely not an invention of our time. It's been happening for hundreds of years and we're definitely not the first ridiculously self-involved generation out there. (Phew!)


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The new cloudwatching.


Cloudwatching.

Hobby of millions.

Maybe. Well... at least tens.

I love it and if you work out your imagination like your other muscles (leg day!), you'll find some pretty cool stuff up there in the sky.

It was overcast and stormy-skied today, so there were no individual clouds to identify, but lucky me had tankloads of coffee again - as per usual. The last one I had was a cappuccino and while I didn't get any latte art from the new and unexperienced barista at the bakery, I did get some cocoa on top.

And that had a story in it!

#milkfoamcloudwatching
#makeitintoastory
#butalsodrinkit

I don't know what you see in there, but I see two people on a swingset.

I wonder where that swingset is. Is it in a park? By a river or lake? Is it in their backyard or on their porch? And who are they? Are they a couple? Best friends? Siblings or mother and daughter? What are they talking about? How do they feel? How often do they get together like this, to sit and talk?

There's so much to think about!

That's another thing I like about clouds (and cocoa). Traveling through time and space with whatever it is you see in there allows you a timeout from all your other thoughts. The ones about the day-to-day, about work and friends and family, about things that might make you anxious or even sad.

And after your little break, you come back into the real world with renewed energy to take each diem-bull by the horns and carp it like you're not just one person but a whole team all inside one body. Fresh power.

Good night!
(Dreams also make for fun stories!)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Source.


Dear all the people who have ever asked me where my "crazy" comes from. Those who want to know why I always seem to be making one weird face or another. Those who inquire about my ridiculous sense of humour. Those who can't get over the weird ideas I sometimes come up with. Those who call me "special."

Dear ladies and gentlemen,
I present to you,
proudly:

my mom.


#theoriginalcrazyface
#happymothersday
#thatsnothowyourideabike

Just let me add, if you will, that, of course, it's not all her "fault" as she's not the only source of the-good-kind-of-crazy in my life and my gene pool. I just thought Mother's Day would be the perfect day to show off this childhood picture of her and demonstrate one of the origins of my "uniqueness," as some of you call it as well. Why Mother's Day? Cos she got a ton of gifts today and thus isn't allowed to be mad at me for posting this. Ha!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Isabella 2.0


Hi. 
I'm Isabella. 
I just got here. 


I've been doing a lot of thinking these past two or so weeks about how I came to return to Austria, what I've been doing these past few months, and how I've been during that time. Mentally and physically, but with the main weight of my internal investigation directed toward the mental. Not crazy mental, but the general world of feelings that we humans carry around inside of us, whether we're conscious of it or not. 

I'd been thinking about all that ever since I bought my and the kittie's plane tickets, of course. Now, though, my perspective has shifted, my perception of myself and my surroundings has changed, and I'm able to view things, my current situation and my future, through a lens that was previously not available to me. 

The most life-changing "epiphany" regards the basic nature of my return. Independently of the actual circumstances, which I am still not willing to disclose, I've been seeing it as a bad thing. Making the incredibly difficult decision to leave UWI and Trinidad has, so far, felt like a gigantic failure to me. Regardless of how things went down and what things went down, all I could see was "dropout" and "step back" and "giving up" and "failure"... 

I think it took this long, because it's not just the degree and the university versus whatever will happen now, here in Austria. I've been a student for as long as I can remember. From the first day of kindergarten until the last day before I left Trinidad, I've been a student. So not only did my place of residence change in September, my whole universe changed. I've never not been a student, so what am I now? Maybe putting it this way will help those who can't imagine my dilemma, those who haven't been in this situation. I moved myself into a new place, geographically. But I also moved everything I am around to where I was completely lost. 

I pulled the rug out from under my own feet. And I just now managed to catch myself. 

Now, what I see is: Opportunity

This is huge. It's hard to understand unless you've been in the same situation, but I tell you, it's gigantic. 

For over seven months, I was nowhere. In limbo. I had physically left Trinidad, but I wasn't able to let go. Because of that, I physically arrived in Austria, but I wasn't really here. That's what made everything so difficult: you can't settle down when you're still so very attached to another place, another situation, another life. You can't hear or even feel yourself, you can't make any plans for the immediate/near/far future, you can't take a proper deep breath. 

Until the moment I was finally able to let go of previous plans and ideas and visions of the future, I wasn't even aware of how deeply all of that had been affecting me. 

I drew that first deep breath, air flowing down all the way into my belly, lungs stretching, a heavy weight lifting off off me. I suddenly stood more straight, walked with determination, looked confident. 

Now, that I wasn't holding on to the past anymore, with my whole arm stretched out and grasping tightly at any and all straws behind me, I could turn to the future properly: standing tall and facing ahead. The present less scary, the future an open field, my mind at ease, my inner voice suddenly speaking up and I heard it!

No, I don't have a real plan yet, I'm still searching. I'm still applying for jobs and still learning how to be my real self again, still finding out who that really is. But I do feel and hear me now. Not 100%, but more every day. Now, when I hear someone tell me that I'm going to be okay, I'm able to believe it. 

It took 219 days to get here.
Seven months and six days.
But I'm here now.

I just got here.
I'm Isabella.
Hi.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May the Forthe!


Today, May 4, is, without any shred of doubt, my favourite mid-year holiday. Hurt much else going on between Easter and Christmas, no presents necessary, fun memes all around, the whole internet celebrating together, my family has no clue what I'm talking about, all-around fun times. In case you didn't know:

It's Star Wars Day!

Sorry, wait, that's not right.

It'th Thtar Warth Day!!!


Love this image, because it's not just Star Wars. Oh no. It also adds a little extra for all of us who have a dirty creative mind. Oh yes. 

I'm all geared up now with one of my three (okay, seven) Star Wars t-shirts and a bunch of quotes to throw around as I go about my day. So, all that's left is to wish you:

#happystarwarsday2016


PS: The Trek sign is on purpose. Poor trekkies should get to celebrate with us instead of being ignored on this special day. We're all galactic geeks anyway!

PPS: I also have to share something outrageous with you: I got am awesome Star Wars Yoda calendar for Christmas last year and now look at the holidays it lists for May:

Drunk you are, calendar,
go home you should. 

(The outrageous thing is the missing holiday in the one calendar that should have it pointed out. Having received a great gift is not outrageous.)


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ova and Ornaments: Crown Jewels


...or some other silly pun about jewelry and eggs that you won't really get until you're done reading this post... But then, I swear, you'll laugh. Or giggle. Or maybe smirk..? But there will be some sort of a reaction. And it'll definitely be positive. I swear! At least you'll know what this is all about. 

Ahaanyway...

Today was, or still is, really, a sad day for this nation. My nation. Austria. 
[Scroll to the second picture to skip the political banter.]

Why? We had our presidential elections today. That's not a bad thing in and of itself; democracy is a great thing, I do believe in it still, and exercising our right to do our civic duty is, even though that just complicates this mess of a sentence even more, a huge privilege. 


However, today, it made many of us feel pretty blue. See what I did there? 

According to Österreichwahl.at, as of right now, the majority of people seem to have voted for Mr Norbert Hofer. Of the FPÖ. The blue party. The far right. This is the first time since the Second World War that the majority of votes has not gone towards either the christian democratic Austrian People's Party (ÖVP, black) or the socialist Social Democratic Party (SPÖ, red). This is also the first time since World War II that we've fallen this far to the right on the political spectrum. As the often misquoted Austrian writer and journalist Karl Kraus didn't really say, "Austria is the only country to become dumber with experience.

Either way, with or without witty quotes, there is very probably going to be a second round on May 22nd. What we have to do now is hope for a different result that puts another candidate (literally, any other candidate) in an absolute majority position, so we can - way too narrowly - escape the fate of having a far right president. Even better than just hoping for change, we can try to effect it by speaking our minds and trying to show those blue voters why any other colour is better for us. 

It's true, the position of president is a mostly ceremonial one, but the person does represent our country and all of us to the rest of the world. Aside from that, the current situation all over Europe is messed up enough as it is: we don't need to kick ourselves 71 years into the past right now... May Space Cat save us all.

Now, on to more positive things and the actual topic I want to talk about today. 

Egg Carton Jewelry Drawer Organisation Awesomeness!


I love earrings. 
And I like rings. 
Naturally, I have a lot of both. 

Add to that about eighty-seven little hair-related items. 

I used to have more than just a lot, more like a whole lot. All of it was kept on hanging shelf-/rack-like things I either found and repurposed or made myself for that specific use. Then, traveling all the time and moving around, criss-crossing the planet over the last few years, I had to sort through everything and could only hang on to the most special and most often used pieces of jewelry (and hair care). The excess went to friends and family the last time I left Austria, so I didn't have to throw anything away but instead was able to find all of the earrings and rings and even bracelets wonderful new homes. 

All I had left fit neatly into a little crafts/tool organising box, so I didn't have to worry about keeping an order - the order kept itself. Now, though, I'm settling down again. That means that I can extend my collection again and also give my jewelry a permanent spot in my apartment. 

This is where the egg cartons come in.

Inspired by The Oblique Imperative's jewelry sales displays at craft fairs and markets in Trinidad, I asked around various local supermarkets in my new neighbourhood to see if I could get some of the big, tray-like egg cartons. Unfortunately, while they do have them, they also usually have to keep them and return all of them to the egg delivery company or they get in trouble by the next time they need a shipment of eggs. Luckily, my mom was able to get me three cartons at the farmer's market, where the rules are not as strict. 

The reason I wanted egg cartons and discontinue the use of the organising box is twofold: first and foremost, I didn't want to always have to open and close the box's lid all the time, because they do break off so easily and it's extra tedious when it's stored in a drawer: open drawer all the way, pull forward organiser box (which had always slid to the back...), open organiser and take out thing and close organiser box again, shut drawer (and listen to the box slide back again). It doesn't sound like much, but it was very annoying. Also, after extending my "collection" to feature a bunch of new, officey nice things, I needed a bit more space. I could still make the box work, but that meant items sharing compartments and things getting tangled or forgotten. Can't have either of that. 

Now, my bling and my swag are sorted by occasion-appropriateness and together-wearability. Every piece/pair has its own compartment and they only have to share when they actually go together (like my fake-pearl ring and the fake-pearl earrings) or are just completely interchangeable (like all my top-of-finger rings). It looks much more organised and neat than I actually am in my private life. And it will definitely keep looking that messless, because I'd have to put in a real effort to make that new system look disordered. 

Originally, I was going to paint my cartons white or another light and neutral colour, but seeing them in the drawers as they were when I checked their size and fit, I decided I liked the way they looked and to leave them untreated. The cartons fit into my (IKEA Kallax shelf inlet) drawers in a way that their sides rest on the sides of the drawer itself, which are not as high as the front of the drawer. That means that there is space left underneath the cartons to hold other, less frequently used things. HighFive for effective use of space


If your drawers are larger or smaller, you have a bunch of options. If they're smaller (more narrow, shallow or short), you can cut off the edges of the former centimetre by centimetre or millimetre by millimetre until the trays fit onto the bottom or onto the sides of the drawer. If they're bigger (more wide, long or deep), you can set the trays on the bottom and put other things next to or behind them. Lastly, if they fit the trays perfectly, but only when they're on the bottom and not the sides, you can fix up some contraption using straws, or maybe chopsticks, to hold the cartons at side-wall level and open up that space below for who knows what.

Again, this wasn't my own idea, but my buddy Rohan's.
I just wanted to share a little DIY/lifehack goodness after all this time.

Again, my country did a bad, bad thing today and I hope it doesn't stay this way.

Again, this blog is definitely back. 

Good night.


Friday, April 22, 2016

So... this thing here... I think it's back.


This morning (-ish) I had a wonderful conversation about work-related things, life-related things, and, very much to my surprise, me-related things. I was surprised, not because we talked about me as a person, but because of 1) how much we talked about me as a person and B) how much I took away from the conversation, in terms about rediscovering myself and properly seeing myself as part of the environment I am currently in. For the first time.

Now, while I obviously hope that I was able to present myself, my ideas, and my various characteristics/skills/experiences in a positive light, showcasing "Isabella, the worker bee" in a way that would make somebody say that, hey, they'd like me to be their worker bee (yes, it was a job interview), there's more to it. I also realized that I want to be my worker bee. This thought is manifesting itself right here, as I type.

I stopped writing on purpose, this time. I felt I had to. I wasn't able to find any way of writing about my "new" life back here in Austria, without potentially offending anybody related to my previous life over on the other side of the Atlantic. I held back on sharing my thoughts and musings with my two readers (thanks, mom and dad), because I couldn't be sure it wouldn't be misunderstood by anyone as me happily shouting about and telling everyone how much better Le Homeland is than Trinidad. That's neither the case nor my motivation behind writing.

I am starting again, though.

I am done protecting other people's toes.

If whoever feels that I am, through this blog, stepping on theirs, please know, that's not what's going on. I have missed writing so much: this outlet I have here to share fun stories from my travels as well as more inside-touchy-feely-whateverness. This is not about you, this is not about "which country is better" - not at all! There's no comparison here, because the situations are so far apart, they haven't even found a connection through that whole six degrees of separation thing.

Life changed my path for me, as it has done a bunch of times in the past. But it's only since today that I'm thinking that, maybe, this abrupt change could, in the long run, be positive. I am finally seeing the move as an opportunity. Took long enough, but here we are: Episode IV, people!

So, yes. I have finally reached the point where I can say I am able (daring, if you will) to write again and I also have things to write about. And if there aren't any (things, that is) then I'll make something happen myself.

And about that conversation today... I do really, really, really want that job. It'd be perfect for me and I truly believe I'd be perfect for it. However, even if the only thing to come of it is that I have found my way back onto this site and my fingers are flying over the keyboard again, spelling out my tangled and random thoughts on life, and I get to regale you with fun or not-so-fun stories, tips and facts about people and places, and just the worst, most terrible puns and jokes this side of the Milky Way... even if that's the only outcome - I already win.

Beware, people.
The eagle has landed.