letting the days go by.

12 May 2008

in the making.

Two posts in two days may seem excessive, but it's been a Weekend of Note and due to the arbitrary holiday, it's not over yet, though, to be honest, I'm straining a little to maintain the Everything Will Be All Right attitude considering El Roomie just walked in and I forgot to buy toilet paper for the bathroom. Ick. I stole a roll of TP from a cafe, but I had to leave it at another dorm, because, for once in our lives, we were Going Out and who Goes Out with a roll of stolen toilet paper in her purse? That's what you don't learn from Preparing For Your Study Abroad Experience pre-meetings and waivers and informational brochures - you will more than likely steal toilet paper from a cafe up the street because you are a broke American (in more ways than one) and it'll probably be awkward to live in your room, especially if your laundry is literally exploding out of your wardrobe and your desk is a collage of empty Coke bottles, train tickets from months ago, mate-less earrings and contact cases. Dear Reader, consider yourself informed, I guess.

So Going Out is good, and I've missed it, though I never much was one for it, unless it involved an elaborate theme, free beer, and facepaint to dance and/or stand awkwardly around in a dark, graffitti-covered, and probably structurally unsound basement. Some of my home-slices took advantage of the long weekend and headed for those Alps we have in Austria, and I stayed back, due to a perpetually empty bank account and some lingering childhood bias against Mountains (when we went for the umpteenth time for the Rockies, some part of me was always wishing we were off to see the sea - and I would still take water over rocks any day). So the weekend was wide open, and prime time for experiencing the jumpier side of Viennese nightlife - not that my friends and I are complete recluses, though I've spent practically days at my computer chicken-pecking away at hopeful, too-long story drafts, but when we go out, we end up in a smoky cafe near Stephansdom, or down in a cellar brewery where men in suspenders play The Third Man theme on the accordion, and that's great, but where do the twenty-somethings go to dance about and get sweaty? I had no idea, but some kid on our program did, and fortunately extended an invite last night to me and Suzanne, so, following my fourth viewing of The Third Man since I've been here and an immaculate dinner cooked by Suzanne, we got ourselves done-up and pre-gamed with someone else's vodka. Sure, we were overdressed, and sure, we were in mixed and pretty bizarre company, but the Young And Stupid Girl in me Who Only Wants To Get Drunk and Dance was pretty amped to just be Out, with new people, at some cramped club on the banks of the Danube Canal, where if you sat at a picnic table long enough someone would come by asking, "Grass? Cocaine? Only 5 Euros."

And music - another simple thing no one warns you that you'll miss. How many games of Kings did we play listening to Girl Talk or Velvet Underground? How many gallons of gas did I waste, driving around Tulsa aimlessly with the windows down and some indie mix CD in the player, unlabeled but named? How many hours have I spent in the basement studio of WHCL, blasting choice tunes to a grand total of 3 listeners, if I was lucky? We're sitting outside, smoking cigarettes or cigarettes emptied of their tobacco and stuffed with some headier wares (I passed, though, yet again, everybody just wants to get me high), and all of a sudden, from inside where some Austrians are awkwardly dancing around like they're in someone's apartment and not a public club, in plain view of hundreds of people - Beirut. Spoon's "You Got Yr Cherry Bomb," the DANCING ANTHEM of this semester. Interpol. Oh, did my little indie heart soar, even if it was the lone indie heart at the table.

But really, the highlight of the night, and the highlight of the entire weekend, maybe of the entire time in Vienna, was the silent, lengthy hike back from the bar. I was tipsy enough to walk across nearly the entirety of the city - and you haven't seen Vienna until you've seen it at 3:30 a.m. on a Sunday, the buildings dark, the streets empty, a ghost town, everything huge and vast and so silent. I gave the handful of change in my pocket to a haggard-looking guy I passed by the Hofburg palace, but, aside from him, I was completely alone. Stephansplatz, where hundreds of Italian tourists are usually chattering and eating gelato, completely deserted, the cathedral shooting up into the sky - and the silence inside, unfathomable. The Spanish Riding School, where guys dressed like Mozart are usually conning you into buying concert tickets, utterly empty. Heldenplatz in front of the Hofburg palace, where there are concerts and rallies and demonstrations, where Hitler once spoke, as dark as if no one had ever been there. The epic, imperial architecture of Vienna is pretty awesome in the middle of the afternoon, but in the middle of the night, as the sky's just getting light and the birds are starting to chirp - incredible.
And I have to admit, it felt pretty awesome to come back to an empty room at 4:30 in the morning, the room just starting to get light - reminded me of a lot of other all-night adventures, drug-induced or paper-caused or otherwise.

So I woke up at 2 p.m. today, which was fine, and have spent the entire day reading Bradbury, feeling as lost as an astronaut and relating far too much to stories about rockets and aliens (Mars and Vienna might as well be the same to me), and being interrupted twice by two entirely different conversations started by two remarkably similar men. First, I'm just sitting against a tree, enjoying the slight hangover I have, when some guy just walks over, crouches down, and asks me how I am, what's my name, stuff I wasn't going to volunteer until I finally had to get up and walk away - I don't know what he wanted, but I just wanted to be left alone, and the whole thing disturbed me. It's not uncommon for passing men, usually African (I don't know why, that's just how it is), to just shout stuff at you - nothing derogatory, just a "Hello beautiful" or "Wie geht's", but it's pretty annoying - but this was the first time someone approached me and where I had to leave my cozy tree spot for another. Within fifteen minutes, though, another guy comes over to me, and, as if he knew what had happened, demonstrated how to actually converse with a strange girl. He asked if I had a lighter, which I did, and then simply said, "Wienerin?" meaning, are you Viennese? And I said no. "Neither am I," he said, in German - which was pretty apparent, given that he was black and Vienna is as about as white as cottage cheese. "I've lived in Germany for many years, but I'm only in Vienna for a semester. I'm a student. And you?" "The same," I said, again in German. "Just here for the semester." "It's practically a summer's day," he said, and then, cigarette lit, bicycle beside him, bid me have a nice day and left.

So then I went and goofed around on the baby grand piano in the Central Abroad office. Not bad, for a Monday.