Archive for April, 2011

Zugspitze

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Annie and Markus went for what I’m pretty sure is the last ski of the season on Sunday. (With our string of 20+ degree days, I’m done with skiing so enjoyed a blissful day at home alone.) This prompted me to record one of our interesting adventures this winter, which got lost in the dearth of posts the last few months. (Can something get lost in a dearth?) Anyhoo…

One Sunday we drove out to Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. (Not, Markus was quick to point out, even close to the highest point in Austria.) Our season ski passes let us go on the cable car for free, but we had to pay for skiing. I chose to sit it out and spend a few hours enjoying the view.

It really is a long way up.

We started here.

And then went up…

…and up…

…and up…

…and up…

…and up.

At the top are several restaurants, shops, a small museum focused on the history of mountain climbing and lots and lots of massive picture windows and viewing platforms.

Annie and Markus bought their ski passes and went on there way.

Zugspitze: highest mountain and highest ski region in Germany.

The reason that our ski passes didn’t work is that the cable car is in Austria but the ski region is in Germany; the boarder runs right through the mountain peak. So if you go out one of the doors you leave Austria…

…and enter Germany.

Even after almost three years here I still think the proximity of all these countries to each other is so cool.

Just into Germany there is an old restaurant (closed when we were there.) Here is the door:

Wait a minute; what does that sign say?


That’s right. Built in 1897. 3000 meters up a mountain. Maybe it doesn’t compare to the pyramids, but I’m still mighty impressed.

This 14 foot high, gilded iron cross was erected on the mountain’s summit in 1851, hauled up there on foot as the first cable car wasn’t built until 1926.

I’m not sure what drives people to explore, discover and build in the most unlikely of places. But I’m glad they do, as I had an awesome day.

Update

Friday, April 1st, 2011

The thing about taking an extended blogging vacation (no, not vacation…stress/laziness-related work stoppage?) is that when you start again you feel the need to fill the masses of readers (all 6 of you) in on what has been going on. So not to balk at convention, here we go.

A few months ago I started to really feel like I wanted to work more. One of those deep down feelings. Why I didn’t also realize what was coming is poor foresight, since after 40 years the one thing I know about myself for sure is that I am an amazing manifestor of work. Although this is in no way related to being able to manifest money (odd that), as soon as I think “more work”, “new job” or “I’m bored” something comes along. The last 2 years, despite verbally bemoaning my unemployed/work eligibility status, I didn’t have to dig very deep to realize that I actually wasn’t interested or ready to work due to a large and exhausting list of reasons.

So.

This time, when that thought passed my consciousness, I knew it was the real deal. Fast forward a few weeks. Friend Lesli offers me a retainer for 20 hours a month to be her business manager. Pug Pharm gets a few hundred thou in funding so I sign-up with them 60 hours a month to start. Another former boss and friend starts a business and needs her website written. Despite two previous rejections, a friend at Swarovski prompts me to send in my resume to the Director responsible for online communications, and I have an interview for an (on paper) well-matched position (more on that in a sec), plus two positions for English-speaking jobs at a local non-profit (SOS Kinderdorf) get sent to me. Whew! (Reminds me of a story I once read about a rainmaker who did his thing after several months of drought and down came a massive flood of water. He commented he could make it rain, but had no control over the volume.)

And I’m still doing some shopping, laundry and the occasional lunch shift at the cafe.¬† All with Annie in Kindergarten 20 hours per week.

So what is the fall-out of all this? Firstly, I’m totally loving my contract work. Being involved with a new venture when it isn’t primarily your money at risk is fun. (Being involved in a new venture when your own money is at risk is stressful.)

I’ve also been thinking a lot about what it would look like if I worked full-time right now. In summary, it wouldn’t be pretty. Families with children here don’t have 2 full-time working parents (or one full-time working single parent) unless there is another family member to step in. (It is the 1950’s here in Austria, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before.) So Annie would pretty much be the only child at Kindervilla (of about 100 children) to be there full-time. And believe me, she would notice. (The word “unfair” gets a lot of play these days.)

Plus the cafe is picking up again (a very good thing!), which means Markus is working a zillion hours a week. (A 12-hour day is a shortish day, with at least 2 or 3 long days of 17+ hours.) So Annie literally would have no parent around most of the week. The fact that my (overly judgmental) response to my friend telling me daycare in San Francisco was 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (to 10:00 p.m. and on Saturdays if pre-arranged) was “why bother having kids then?” does indicate that this doesn’t jive with my parenting belief system.

And don’t get me started on what happens once she goes to the first grade. School is over here for the day at 11:45. 11:45!!!!

Not to mention a full-time job would mean giving up my contracts, which as I mentioned, I’m loving.

So it was with this ambiguity that I got gussied up and went to the interview for Manager of Online Communications at the headquarters of the multi-national, multi-billion dollar, family-owned Swarovski empire. The job description was for a manager responsible for a team of four to work on the strategy and implementation for all online, mobile, and social networking communications. Very similar to my last job at AbeBooks plus some things I’m doing at Pug Pharm.

Ah assumptions. You would think in my middle-ageness I would have learned better. I sent my resume in English, the director answered me with an email in English, the admin assistant booked the meeting with me in English, the job posting (which was in German) stated that perfect written and spoken English was required…you don’t need to be a genius to see where this is going.

The incredibly hip, pleasant and obviously smart director gave long explanations of the position in his (thank goodness High) German, to which I had to concentrate so hard to follow that when he was done my brain was ready to explode so that I would give¬† insightful and relevant comments like “interesting!” or “good idea!”. Blink, blink, stare, stare. I don’t know whether I’m more embarrassed for myself or my poor friend who actually recommended me.

That was just a few days ago, so I’m going to let that sit for a while before doing anything else on the work front. In the meantime, I sent out my first set of invoices for the contract work, which felt pretty good after two years of not financially contributing to the family.

In other news…as mentioned, the cafe is picking up. Yeah! The franchise owner helped Markus out with a spring patio-opening celebration where they handed out 5,000 tulips to near-by office workers and people on the street. See photos here. And since the weather has been lovely the last 10 days, people have been making good use of the outdoor seating. That plus a good run of catering events means sales in March are double what they were in January.

And Annie is, well, Annie…..

That’s a wrap for this update. Here’s hoping this is the restart to something more regular.