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Wisdom from Grandma Part 4378: “You can’t take it with you”

Not long ago, I inherited the house of my grandmother. It’s in the middle of nowhere and it’s so little and pretty and from another century that it’s heartbreaking. I would move in the minute I could if it would be in Vienna. But since it’s not, I now want to rent it out to somebody nice. If I find someone who’s willing to move out there 😉 And if I find someone who is willing to pay me some rent for such an old house…but that is a whole different story 😉

The secretary of my grandfather isn't that beautiful, but that one caught my eye. Maybe I'm gonna treat myself to one of those when I'm older... picture via inetgiant.com

Until I find that certain someone, I have to clear out the house. Which is a difficult task, considering it’s full of stuff my relatives loaded there the last few years since my grandmother died. The only thing I would have liked to keep was a little secretary that belonged to my grandfather. It has those little drawers and doors with tiny, beautiful keys. It also has a hutch with a round, built-in ceramic picture. I don’t think it’s antique but it is definitely charming. My granddad stored his most beloved things in there and nobody even dared to touch it. He died before I was born but interestingly, drawings he drew when he was a child only came to light when I was already in my teens. Somebody “dared” to look into the secretary and found those little beautiful drawings of his childhood home in the woods with a pond in front. He never showed those pictures to anyone. Not even my grandmother knew of their existence. Nowadays, all of his children have a photocopy of that drawing in their home and the original hangs in the house I inherited now.

Just a nice little back story to get to the point … because last week I told my mom to ask her siblings or my cousins if they wanted to have something from the house. Never did I think that somebody would want the secretary…

As it happens, my mom visited a cousin of mine  last week. When mom mentioned the house, my cousin carefully asked her what would happen to the secretary. THE secretary. Of course. At first I was shocked. Disappointed. Sad. I couldn’t believe that she had the nerve to suggest to give her the secretary. She put me in an awful position. How could I refuse her wish? I was very upset and felt trapped. Grumpily, I told my boyfriend the story who wasn’t very impressed, since we don’t even have room for it. I would store it in some place that doesn’t do it justice. I still brooded over it a few minutes, and then I let go.

via cartoonstock.com

My cousin still knew my grandfather. Maybe she even saw him sitting there, writing letters or something. She still knows the real purpose of it. Additionally, she studied art and definitely knows how to restore the secretary to its old glory. With me, I would maybe paint it, but I would spoil the old appearance. If she gets it, the secretary will definitely stand in a fitting place in her house so that everybody can admire it. And then people will ask where it’s from, and she can tell stories about our grandfather. People should definitely hear more stories of him! He seems to have been a wonderful man. If I would have it, nobody would get to see it since I don’t have space. And that would be a pity. The most important point though, as my grandma (the other grandma who’s still living) always says: “You can’t take it with you when you die.”

I think of this saying a lot whenever I treasure material things too much so that they start to become a burden. I don’t want this flat to be my last one. I don’t want to only live here in Vienna. I hope to move a lot and get to know lot’s of places. How can I possess furniture if I want to do that? Where would I store it? Would it be fair to the furniture? Definitely not. What’s also important is that I can make my cousin happy. I always like to make others happy and this gives more comfort than holding on to it. Besides, she has four children. Those kids didn’t know our grandfather either, maybe they will appreciate their roots through the secretary. In the end, I hope I can admire the secretary in her house sometime with a feeling of perfect contentment. And maybe this is the chance to get back my Game boy I borrowed one of her kids in 1999 or something … what can I say, yet another crazy backstory 😉

The missing piece in my resume

picture via hs-heilbronn.de

Since I’m almost finished writing my thesis, the topic of what I should do next is coming up every so often. In a few months, my “student” status will have expired and then I have to face the tough “real” world. My plan is to just quietly apply for jobs and quietly getting rejections. I am normally very optimistic and don’t worry that much, but whenever people talk to me about it, I brood for days on end. The reason I am brooding is that I am afraid of the job market because I think I have no qualifications whatsoever and I never did an internship. This is basically the kiss of death for a 26 year old first-time job seeker. People happily point that out to me. What annoys me is that nobody makes suggestions how to succeed despite this flaw. I cannot change it anymore, so why people persist on dwelling on this point so much is beyond me. I am also not immune to taking pleasure in others’ misfortune sometimes. But it is annoying. Well, maybe I can take comfort in that it helps other people feeling less inadequate and better prepared for the job market through me 😉

The thing is, I never worked. I had two summer jobs once. One was in the summer of 2003, the other in the summer of 2004. Then my dad died. Most people assume that I am a lazy person just riding on my mom’s money because I didn’t work afterwards anymore. And in a way that is true. But the reality is, I didn’t even dare to do an internship during my holidays after that. Because holidays meant I had to go home and help my mom. If my mom’s house were in the city, it would have been no problem to do an internship and help her out at the same time. But since my family lives on the countryside, far away from any city, far away from anything really, I didn’t have the opportunity to do it both. I don’t like to explain myself when I am accused of doing nothing. But yesterday, when a girl suggested I am “the worst” because I never worked in a joking manner, I replied that my mom preferred me helping her with my grandma instead of working on my career. My grandma is almost blind and she cannot walk very well anymore. This has been getting worse over the years. She needs help 24/7 and my mom is by her side the whole year round. Everybody who cares for older people knows how exhausting this can be. My mom doesn’t complain and she just gracefully accepts the situation. She deserves a medal and I am always amazed at how patient she is! Naturally, when I am at home she takes every opportunity to get out, meeting up with friends, going to exhibitions and so on. There are no other people whom she can call to help her out. It’s basically just me and my mom. Nowadays I’m very guilt-ridden since I don’t help her out that much anymore.

image via squidoo.com

So yesterday, when I said that the reason for not doing “anything” was to help out my mom, I was met with embarrassed silence. Did I overburden them with private family matters? Nowadays nobody wants to hear of the sick and the old, but I didn’t say that to gain sympathy. I just stated the facts. The reaction irritated me. I don’t know why they were embarrassed and it still bugs me that they reacted that way. Since I was too stunned I couldn’t react properly and the topic changed very quickly. I take it that they either pity me, feel sorry for me, think of their grandparents, think of my decision to put my grandma before my career as stupid or just don’t know how to handle someone actually having a grandma at home. I really don’t know. If they pity me, I think it very strange. Yeah, my grandma is very annoying if you don’t tend to her the minute she wants something. There were times when it was exhausting and frightening to be alone with her when she was sick and I didn’t know what to do to the point of pitying myself. But she is very lively for her age. While she remembers stuff she did on a particular day, let’s say, in 1942, I cannot for the life of me remember the stuff I did yesterday properly.  What amazes me the most is that even though she already told me stories on every possible subject and on every possible stage of her life, every time I visit she still knows a new story I never heard of. Through her I get to know every family member in every possible way. She tells me stuff nobody else would dare to tell me, juicy family secrets and the like. I discover things through her stories which I would have never known. There are new stories every time and I even hear new things about my dad from time to time. I love that! It’s astonishing. Listening to her is like a live-cast of history. To conclude this, it’s not a burden to care for her.

I think the reaction annoys me that much because I got a taste of my future job interviews. When future employers will ask me about the missing spots in my resume, I will have to tell them the same. And because I didn’t even think about such strange reactions, I never thought about my “holiday work” as a problem. Since this was what I got, I am more afraid of strange feedback than ever. I cannot process their reaction, don’t know what it’s about and don’t know how to cope with it. And most of all, I don’t know how to make such situations less awkward. Let’s just hope nobody asks 😉

My future job might involve looking at private parts

Well, yesterday I met a friend who recently spent half a year in Shanghai doing an internship. She met lots of expats who, after graduating, found a job there. Some of them had studied Sinology, just like me. Apparently the guys she met were the “not too successful Sinology students”, those who didn’t top their studies with economy or business studies or something else “practical”, just like me. As she told me of the one friend who worked for an Internet site, I saw my future in front of me. That friend is working for a site called po**ing.de, and in German “poppen” is practically having intercourse, to put it elegantly 😉

image via jobboardsites.com

It’s like facebook but on that site people get connected, well, to pop 😉 Now, her job involves looking at pictures people uploaded for approval. And sometimes this means looking at p**n the whole day…so wow! And apparently many men like to take pictures of their p**n from all kind of angles. To her, there’s not much of a difference anymore…the vanity of men…

This is a girl who studied for a few years and ends up looking at p**n… I wonder how far I would go for a job… As I cannot afford to be picky I might end up on a similar job. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but how do you tell your grandma about a job like this? Well, at least the job is in China… This prospect of my future is not too encouraging… Now I am really looking forward to searching for a job  But please, let it be something not too slutty…

Easter gossip

Easter holiday. Visiting my mom. Going to church and almost dying of boredom. Eating way too much chocolate. Seeing people I haven’t seen in a while and getting sentimental.

The only funny thing while sitting in church was the priest grumbling at his altar boys and girls (not even my splendid service I did as a kid could change his character, bless his heart) and my mom pointing out to a former student of hers sitting in front of us where we are in the church song book. The former student surely was thrilled getting instructions from my mom years after leaving school 🙂 It seems like you can get the teacher out of school, but the school doesn’t leave the teacher…or something like that.

It is almost always the same when it’s time to visit my family. Since it’s always the same old, you know what to expect and I’m cool with that. But this time, my grandma was agitated when her brother pointed out to her that I wasn’t featured in the yearly report of the area in the section of people graduating or accomplishing something else in their life. Because of him, she now worries that the whole township is gossiping about me and my eternal studies and living off of my mom’s money. “If he is already talking about this to me, imagine what other people are saying!” she cried out to me! THE horror!! My grandma is deeply concerned about the reputation of my family 😉 She surely imagines people whispering behind her back: “You know how their girl studies until she’s thirty and still won’t get anything done.” Or: “You know, I was told that someone saw her there and there sipping cocktails/buying expensive clothes/eating in a fancy restaurant. The nerve of that girl when she didn’t even earn her own money yet.” Or “My child is working ten years already while this kid just lives her life without any concern for the community she lives in!” And surely she imagines them discrediting my upbringing: “Boy did they do a job on that girl!” Or “Boy, what could they have done to deserve such a slouch of a girl.” I was very amused, but when the neighbor started to ask me the same questions my grandma was worried about, I started to wonder, is my grandma on to something here? Do you only get a pass in your early 20s, but when you reach 25 without a degree, people get suspicious? Even a friend of mine who normally isn’t interested in anything I’m doing sat there expecting answers from me. And the questions kept going on when I was going out. It’s exhausting. “How is your thesis going?”, “What’s the topic of your thesis?”, “When are you planning on handing in your thesis?”, “When are you finally finished with your studies?”, “How do we call you then?” (In a country like Austria where titles are the ticket to being worshiped this is exceedingly important to ask!), “What are you planning on doing then?”, “You surely start working there or there, right?”  Blablabla…  Scary! Especially because I don’t know a good answer to any of these questions. And especially because I dread the time when I really graduate more than anyone else and I am profoundly dreading the time searching for jobs when I don’t have any hope of finding a decent one.

Now I returned to my little haven in the city with no gossip and no one is interested in my studies! What relief 😉 But not for long, Mother’s Day is around the corner. I wonder what the next visit will bring…

♥ Grandma ♥

Today is my grandma’s birthday. I phoned her and she was really happy and seemed to be very excited. My aunt sent her flowers, the people dearest to her visited and she ended the day in style with a glass of sparkling wine!

Why am I writing about that? Well, she made it her goal to live until I graduate…. That sounds very morbid and weird, if not creepy, but I really think she sets herself goals to keep her going. If it wouldn’t be me she would find something else to claim. But it still makes me thinking…I am the first in the family who went to University, so it is kind of a big deal to finish this. If I graduate, find a job and have security, she can die a happy woman. Right now she is always concerned for my future. So I really hope that I can make her happy soon….not that I want her to die 😉

Regarding my progress: Today I went to the library and somebody blocked the section I wanted to search in. So I wandered around and accidentally stumbled upon a few excellent books which I hope to use in my thesis. Seems to be a “happy accident”!

Image: http://www.muttnik.org/tuwwi/happy_birthday_mr_smithers.jpg