letting the days go by.

08 March 2008

letting the days go by.

The two highlights of my past week in Vienna:

1. Getting swindled by some young boy on Mariahilferstrasse. He flung a rose in my face, then asked me for 2 Euros, and I gave it to him because I was actually terribly charmed, and now the rose is slowly wilting away in a tea bottle on my desk.

2. Petting a passing dog in the U-bahn. The problem with dogs here is they are either itty bitty or attached to intense-looking Austrian men - fortunately, this one was at the perfect height for a discrete head-scratch, and that dog smiled and wagged its tail and I don't think anyone's been that happy to see me since I left my own dog back in Tulsa.

Your mission is to find connections between these two events, describe why exactly they were the highlight of my week, and then tell me what the hell's the matter with me and prescribe some form of change.

Not that this week was bad - far from it. You, out there, whoever you may be, are probably nursing hangovers and prepping for another rollicking night of debauchery (apparently that Buffers spandex party is tonight, marking the only night I've ever been completely black-out drunk), and I'm in my dorm room on a Saturday night, sober as a stone, waiting for Adventure to come knocking and smoking Lucky Strikes in the bathroom in the meantime.

We went tromping around the grounds of the Schoenbrunn Palace one afternoon, and, just like Potsdam, the experience would have been tenfold better if it was actually 1911 and we were all decked-out like bourgeois (I totally misspelled that) nobility and cantering about on ponies. As it was, we settled for photographs a-plenty and gandering long and hard at the actual palace, which is, to me, a lemon cake. Vienna does enjoy its yellows. Other than that, our adventures have been slow, solely because its really damned cold outside - we've made many trips to a gelateria a street away from giganto St. Steven's cathedral (where, one day, some dude dressed up like Darth Vader was just chilling), loitered in bookstores, and had Doeners that will never be as good as the ones back in Schwaebs. Also, despite having been to the nearest sushi place three times in the past week, I am still hopeless when it comes to chopsticks.

And then there are classes. I know now that Hamilton has been a very individualized experience for me, because Wednesday afternoon found me in a lecture hall with 250 other students, most of them coming and going as they pleased, with a professor rambling auf Deutsch for 2 and a half hours. Fortunately, my other classes through the University of Vienna (which, needless to say, also looks like a cake to me and is full of busts of important old man and ornate staircases and basically Hamilton is, as we've always said, a summer camp in comparison) are in English, so maybe I won't resort to doodling that caricature of myself that I've perfected over the years. I'm also enrolled in three courses through Central Abroad, taught American-style (with assignments and midterms, versus the European way of take a lot of notes and then a final at the end) but also in German, which are nothing noteworthy as of yet, aside from the readily available cheap coffee. On a whim, I signed up for the Music Seminar, which met today and yesterday and concludes with a concert on Monday night, and all I really learned was how much I miss Booker T orchestra and that Beethoven still kicks Mozart and Haydn AND Bach's collective dead asses. And that I need to listen to more Steve Reich because someday someone will also love Steve Reich and we will bond over how his music, in the immortal words of my old Milbank neighbor, is like an "ear bath."

An honest question, then, if I've still got your swiftly-wavering attention: How'm I doing with this thing? I have no idea if this is what people (what people? exactly!) want or expect from a "study abroad blog." I'm not fishing, so much as wondering if you're wondering about those things my father gets mad at me for neglecting to tell him - like my dorm room or my meal plans or hell, I don't know. Lemme know.

Also, who wants a postcard!?

04 March 2008


I AM NOT DEAD I AM IN VIENNA. More to come when I get the internets in my dormitorium.

Two Hours Later Edit:

To reiterate: I AM NOT DEAD I AM IN VIENNA. I AM IN VIENNA. I AM IN VIENNA. These are the things you forget when ansteigening and aufsteigening on the Strassen-Bahns and the U-bahns and pretty much every Bahn you could ever dream of. We got in on Thursday night, after a long, lovely bus ride where we bid farewell to Dear Old Schwaebs, took a plane from Stuttgart, were thrown in a cab and deposited in our respective dormitories all over this glorious city of ours. And now it's Tuesday. I mean daaaamn.

On Thursday, I threw my ungodly rolling luggage (Dear Ariel Weaver: if you are reading this, many thanks for the use of that big blue beauty of a suitcase) into my room, left a note for my anonymous roommate, and flew through the streets to a strange venue in some random sector, because, babies, I had to get my indie on, and I'm not sorry because it was awesome. Showed up halfway through Frog Eyes' set - after seeing the first half of a Frog Eyes show in Chicago, I can successfully say I've seen an entire set - ran outside for a Doener during Six Organs of Admittance (though the chick in the band is admittedly intensely hot, my ears couldn't take it), had unnecessary front row viewage for Dirty Projectors (too many notes! but still pretty sweet), scooted upstairs for Deerhoof and Final Fantasy. My new mission in life: join Deerhoof. The poor drummer spoke some ass-backwards German and the Viennese just lapped it up - meanwhile I was asking every passerby for a light, AUF DEUTSCH, because I wrongly assumed the entire crowd would be Europeans. Not so. This merits a new paragraph:

The Anecdote of the Indie Grandma commences like this. I'm hungry, got a new shirt tucked in my purse, so I buy a Doener outside, and while my dinner is being prepared, some 70-odd year old woman in a white sweater and trademark old lady glasses asks me, in perfect American English, "What is that?" So I explain. "It's chicken?" she says. "Where does it say chicken?" "Huehner means chicken," I say. And then I sit and have myself a Doener and ponder - is this lady lost? Clearly this is an event for 20-somethings with asymmetrical haircuts and clothes bought in the wrong size on purpose. Not only that, but you can't be in a German-speaking country for 10 seconds without encountering a Doener - like going to the U.S. and asking what a McDonald's is. Also, shouldn't she be in Florida? Retired? So I go back inside, and who do I see but Indie Grandma, sitting in the midst of a crowd of chain-smoking indie kids, with a cigarette in her hand herself. If anyone can explain this, I'll give you a shiny 2 Euro coin, which is worth about 15 American cents given the exchange rate.

Another night, following a dinner of sushi and broken German interactions with Asian waitresses, Robinson, Annie, and I took to the streets for a night wander, where we discovered that Vienna, like the name itself, is IMPERIAL itself. Look up "imperial" and there is Vienna. Every corner there's something huge and ornate - Germany was all about castles, but Austria is all about palaces - and we spent a good hour just sitting on an oversized statue of some Kaiser or another, looking at this big old palace and hoping to see some ghosts. We didn't. And apparently it's just me, but all these buildings look like cakes, with the exception of the Rathaus that looks like it should be full of bats and shadowy figures and maybe a wayfaring mummy, so every time I pass a church or the hyper-secured American Embassy up the road, I just want to slice that building up and eat a piece.

And though this entry is already bordering on "Rachel please shut up" (ala DOING THE COCKROACH MEREDYTH I'M LOOKING AT YOU), I have to announce that I am SO AMPED about my internship, which, from what I gathered from my visit today, involves me sitting at a small table and speaking English with TINY VIENNESE CHILDREN. The enormously tall Principal of the school took me through the classrooms, and a sea of little faces just stared at me, and a few brave ones actually waved. It's going to be awesome.

The whole group went out to dinner and racked up a 600 Euro tab, which is pretty impressive, but not as impressive as the mere existence of a 500 Euro bill, which is green and which I doubt I'll ever see again. We visited the zoo and a giraffe got all up in my grill. I've already begun my Third Man tour of the entire city, because THE Harry Lime doorway is all of ten minutes from where I'm sitting right this second, and because the main cemetery is always good for a quiet wander.

I mean, all in all, this is pretty legit. I'm broke, I'm tired, I'm happy.