letting the days go by.

18 May 2008

into the blue again.

Preface: Sorry about the length. I suggest getting some coffee or something, because you can do that in America! Drink cheap, crappy coffee all day long! It's glorious!

Time does funny things in Europe. Yesterday, I tried to update this thing, and ended up with a paragraph trying to rationalize my very third-graderly, first-time-at-sleepaway-camp feeling of plain ole Homesickness, because that's what it is, and it's raging right now, as constant as a cold, and I can't really explain it or excuse it. I'm trying my best to keep it at bay, but there's no real remedy, and it does creep up on me and keep me quiet - that, or I've run out of things to say after nearly five months abroad. Yet another reason to look forward to being back, where I can start stories with, "Well in Vienna" rather than "Back in Tulsa/Hamilton/America in General." I'm flying home a week earlier than anticipated, though, thanks to some finagling with STA Travel and my father - originally, I'd booked my flight for the 8th of July, naively thinking I'd be smitten with being broke and bored and exhausted all the time and want a week extra to travel, and I'd landed on a decision for where to spend that week, which, as time went on, was becoming more and more daunting and dreadful to me. Hamburg, Germany, though - where I could speak the language, see My Morning Jacket, go to the North Sea in the daylight, and get back to Frankfurt easily for my flight out - and then my father, after I told him the idea, innocently asked, "What about coming home?"

What followed was one of the most awful experiences I've had here: literally ransacking my desk to find my flight information (I should take a picture, the collection I have here on my desk is pretty incredible - dried flowers, either picked or purchased, books and letters and doodles, Polaroids I never pinned to the wall, the stray Euro cent), drafting nervous emails and waiting for the response, running back and forth to the kitchen for a dozen cigarettes and not seeing anything but the interior of Delores, my 92 Oldsmobile, the green walls of my room, the view down Erie Avenue - literally blinded with the hope of home, equally ashamed that I was so gung-ho to get the hell out of here, as if this were Nam and not, well, Vienna. And, initially, the answer was it's impossible, but I did some digging and felt pretty low for a few days, until my dad writes me, "Hey, Spud, success. See you on the first."

So, in short, I'll probably be able to re-emerge from the womb of my home by Independence Day. Someone arrange a crazy party and we'll get drunk and set off fireworks on somebody else's property.

In the meantime, we've had tests. Stupid, impossible tests, about Austrian History, and rather than pay attention in class, I drew comics or remembered the last time I heard the name "Metternich" and "The Congress of Vienna," which was back in Mr. Wheelah's room at BTDub, and then I'd think about how good a roll from the Booker T cafeteria sounded right about now - basically, I was completely unprepared, and felt pretty shitty afterwards. But, again, my father, the Voice of All Reason and Wisdom and Dadliness, emailed me to say, "Chin up, sport. Go out and take a walk. Eat some struesel."

Which was adorable because there's no such thing as 'streusel.'

And, as a disclaimer, my mom is also awesome but she does not understand The Internet and when she emails me IT IS IN ALL CAPS AND HAS SUBJECT LINES LIKE "JUST WANTED TO SAY HI!" AND THEN I FEEL LIKE SHE IS SHOUTING AT ME EVEN THOUGH SHE IS NOT ALSO HER SYNTAX IS A LOT LIKE THIS.

So I did as Pops prescribed: Took a walk. I enjoy walk-taking. So does Penny. This is why we are best friends. Actually, I started off with some coffee and scribbling and just got so damn down that the walk was accidental, a desperate idea of going anywhere solely for the sake of going. But it turned out to be the best thing I could've done. The Guertel follows the outer ring of the city, where the U6 line runs aboveground, easily demarcated by this giant brick wall with all these nice arches and shady lanes on either side - it's hard to describe. But I got turned around, which is rare for me because I've got a compass in my head (probably from growing up in a city where streets either run N-S or E-W) and just kept walking, breaking in the 5 Euro sandals Rob and I found in some cozy, Turkish-run courtyard flea market right off of Mariahilferstrasse, the shopping, neon-lit, consumer-crazy street of Vienna (where, incidentally, we saw Iron Man on Friday and it was a lot more awesome than it should have been - robots! I love robots!). Along the Guertel actually feels like a neighborhood; it's easy to forget there's such busy-ness as Mariahilferstrasse just a Strassenbahn ride away - and it reminded me of walking around Hyde Park in Chicago, exactly a year ago.

So I saw some trees down a street and literally ran into a gigantic park. Vienna, for all of my complaints, knows parks, and I like parks. So does Penny. This is probably why we are best friends. But Penny is in America, and Austrian dogs are insanely obedient, so the dog-runs in Vienna are about three times the size of American ones and the dogs usually clamber all over each other while the owners just stand there, unless the dog is a very old golden retriever, in which case the dog will wander over to where I am sitting and let me pet it for a quarter of an hour. And then some other dogs will decide that underneath my bench is the best place for their love-making. So then I was sitting there, petting one nice dog, while two others dry-humped beneath me. STUDY ABROAD WHOOOOO.

But then! The quest continued! Past the Vienna ICE BAR (it exists! capes! ice! bar!), and then I boarded the 41 Line to ride it to the end, and basically found Narnia. If you're looking for Narnia, and aren't we all, it's at the end of the 41 Strassenbahn line, in Poetzleindorf, where there are random, eerie statues in the trees, where there are deer running through the woods or in the fields of wheat-grass, and if you go at dusk, it's silent save for crickets and the occasional owl. Beyond beautiful, and so quiet and nice and that's all I could think as I walked around: I found Narnia, and why are there so many mosquitoes in Narnia.

And, to add adventure to more adventure, last night was Vienna's annual Life Ball, this huge, gay-tastic celebration to raise AIDS awareness, and basically the ragingest, craziest, themeiest party in all of Central Europe. The theme this year was "Landing on Planet Life Ball," so here are all these nutty Austrians spray-painted silver wearing antennae, in addition to an elaborate fashion show where aliens danced with ballerinas, some silver cowboy rapped in German, midgets on motorcycles, lots of models wearing very little, psychedelic unitards and dancers pretending to be on acid, pirates and pole-dancers. I'm not making this up - it was insane, though the crowd was too thick to be anywhere near the action, so we watched the show from the jumbo TV set up in front of the actual happenings - but, if you count that as "seeing live," which I do, I also saw the following list of celebrities: Alan Cumming, Kim Catrall (she spoke German!), Naomi Campbell, a very bizarre Sharon Stone (possibly a robot?), AND DEBBIE HARRY. And a lot of drag queens.

Plus tonight we're cooking Breakfast for Dinner!!!! Okay the end.