letting the days go by.

29 May 2008


I shouldn't be blogging as I have to be at an U-Bahn station in approximately seven hours to meet for a tour of Communist Architecture in Vienna, and I am also a little bit drunk because tonight it was Heimfest and while the rest of the people in my dormitory were downstairs drinking or outside smoking, Annie and I played a fierce, inebriated round of cards in her room while listening to such hits as "Geh Mal Tanzen" by MO-DO and "Moskau" by the highly underrated Soviet disco group, Dschengis Khan. All of which are available on Youtube.

But here's the news:

"Dear Rachel Richardson,
I am pleased to inform you that our editors have accepted your story
“Trapeze” for publication in the minnesota review."

This is a direct copy and paste from the email I just received, because it's true, it's happening, it's Highly Significant and Unbelievable but, like I said, I'm kind of tipsy so I can't elaborate more than that. I'm 21 years old and I'm getting published in a national literary magazine - the issue doesn't come out until September, but if you're bored sometime this fall, go hunt down a copy at Border's and have yourself a read. I've been celebrating since I heard the news, which was potential news until just now, and I'd already been celebrating tonight but hey - anyone who wants a drink with me when I'm stateside again, let's go and toast to success and stardom. Or at least publication.

This is another gem from my inbox today:

"Dear Rachel,
Penny and I were talking last night, and she asked how you were doing. I said you were fine but ready to come home. She asked when you would be home, and I told her, but I’m not sure she understands how long a month is or what I meant by “July 1.” I probably should have said “x number of sleeps after the next full moon,” but then I would have had to consult a reference book to find out when the next full moon is, then add up the number of nights after that, and by the time I had done all of that, Penny would probably have forgotten what we were talking about. "

From my father. I love my dad. I love my dog. I love all you lovely people out there. And I hope, honestly and truly and sincerely, that life is going just as swimmingly well for you, wherever you may be.

25 May 2008

lost and found.

All right. In the immortal words of Kanye West, who actually may be God - or actually, in the words of Chris Martin (that's twice now I've typed it as "Christ Martin"), who sings the chorus, and that may be the best thing he's done since getting hitched - "do you think about me now and then? cos I'm coming home again." Really, all that past sentence meant to say was this Kanye song is incredible, and so is the Fantastichen Vier, the biggest German rap group in Europe, and so was the Bosnia-Herzegovina entry in last night's Eurovision spectacular, which we toasted to with tall cans of Ottakringer, a bag of pretzels, following another amazing Suzanne dinner of sloppy joes, because they taste like America. These sentences are going out the door but that's because I've been out the door, noon to dusk, I've been doing, I've been in the mountains and the streets! Or in a dorm room watching the Eurovision finale. And let me just say, Bosnia-Herzegovina got robbed, ala John Brown on the White Rapper Show. Ya feel me?

Weirdly, watching Eurovision really put everything in perspective; lately we've been the exploring expatriates, courtesy of another long weekend (Austria loves random Thursday holidays) and the finally improved weather - it was winter all week, gray skies and glum, but the sun finally crept back out and it turned into Spring again. And Europe - there's a helluva lot in Europe. If you've never seen Eurovision - and who would, as it's been pretty irrelevant ever since ABBA - it's basically American Idol, only for the ENTIRETY of Europe, simultaneously a geography lesson (Moldova? Serbia? AZERBAIJAN!?), dance party, and hysterical - every ridiculous bizarre foreign music you've ever seen on Youtube times 10 and broadcast live. Sadly, the majority of contestants had been raised on a steady of diet of Horrible American Pop Music (the tart from Greece took a page straight from Christina Aguelleiaerhhowdoyouspellthat's book with "My secret combination/it's a mystery for you/use your imagination/I'm not easy but I'm true" - apparently her bidnez comes with a Master Lock), but there were a few standouts: Azerbaijan had some devil-angel theme going on with lots of glass-shattering falsetto, France was one bearded dude and his bearded, female back-up singers, Spain was every song you hate to love, and Bosnia created some power-pop, indie-fied anthem though the performance was way too weird to win. Ireland didn't make it to the finals, but they entered a turkey puppet screaming obscenities and basically mocking the whole absurd thing. Basically, if you have a few hours to waste, search for any of the entrants on Youtube and enjoy.

But things have been on an up, and so have I. Got some good news on Wednesday which I won't yet publish (winkity wink, har har) or make public or publicize because it's not finalized, but we went out to celebrate, knowing we had no class the next day, and the evening could have easily been titled, "Writers Talking About Writing When They've Been Drinking." Because it is amazing, to have two giant beers with your Schnitzel dinner, to go wandering into Vienna, end up in the smoky Cafe Hawelka where's there's no menu but plenty more beer to have, where we three CreWri majors had one of those winding, exhaustive conversations that make the whole "I will never have a real job" part of majoring in what you love seem like a minor side effect. It was grand, just like Vienna, and maybe we overdid it a little and I stole a bottle of bubbly water, but it was pretty great nonetheless.

Thursday and Friday, I crammed on my new-found hat (which makes me look like a newsie but keeps weird men from saying things at me which is beginning to get pretty goddamned annoying and chokingly ironic) and Annie and I took an amble that went all over this pretty little city. Again, I always forget what a simple panacea just Having A Walk is, especially when they day's nice and you have nothing better to do. Beers at the stand-by Zwoelf Apsotlkeller, a restaurant in some medieval brick-arched cellar, visits to the Kriminal Museum, the Butterfly House, and, of course, new Aida Cafes. We wandered into a district we'd simply overlooked in our previous walkings - and Vienna, though it has too many people for me, though it's code of living is a little still and formal, though it's weather is unpredictable - it's a pretty great place, if you go out with your feet and look around. On the same street, a stone's throw from the MuseumsQuartier where hip twenty-somethings flock on all nights of the week to drink grocery-store beers in front of museums holding priceless works of Klimt and Schiele, there's a clock museum, a Polaroid store, and a furniture dealer with an old dog inside the door who will let you pet him without attracting the attention of the owner. We capped off the evening with a trip to the Volkstheater to see ,,Der Besuch Der Alten Damen" - a horrible, disturbing play Annie and I had to read in Deutsch 140 - but for 4 Euros, it was a steal - plus, the theater itself is all Austrian Grandeur, just like the cafe across the street where the Ham&Cheese Sandwich I had (a standard on any Austrian menu) was served under chandeliers.

So the weekend proper was dedicated to being out in the wilderness, with the necessary exception of Eurovision. Saturday, we took an U-Bahn, a bus, and a lot of steps up to the Kirche Am Steinhof, a church built by Jugendstil genius Otto Wagner (Jugendstil being the German name for the super-decorative, turn-of-the-century stuff that Mucha, Klimt, et al did - Art Nouveau in French - basically it's really, really pretty and I love it) on the grounds of a sanatorium. And the church was certainly worth the trek, though it was 6 Euros to go in, so we settled for walking around the exterior and then took off a random path that, in the end, led to a vista of the surrounding hills. And that's what's important, that's what I always forget - take a path, just a little dirt lane where no one's looking, and you'll end up in a field of wheat-weeds that reach to your waist, with the foothills of the Alps in front of you. Incredible, really, and so much better than a photograph or a description, because, like the meadow I found in Schwaebs oh-so-long-ago, so much of the moment was in the actual moment, the actual turning around and seeing, emerging from the trees into the great wide open. Ride the 41 to the end of the line on a whim and you'll find Narnia. Take the long walk around the Ring Strasse and you can wash your feet in the fountain in front of the Russian Soldier's Memorial. And even when nothing really happens - you don't find any actual wild boars at the Lanzier Zoo, even though you walk a few miles and lounge on a hillside overlooking the city, again in the thick of the trees - things still happen, because we didn't see any boars, didn't find anything more exotic than bilingual children being yelled at in both German and English for leaving their shoes in the grass ("Martin, we're leaving. You can stay here, but at night the animals come out and they are very hungry. Now where are your shoes?"), but the sheer happy exhaustion of being Out and About made our meager dinner of whatever we had left in our cupboards taste so much better.

If you asked me how it was going, I can finally answer beyond the usual, "Oh, it's going." Because it's going, and it's going quickly, but it's going pretty good. More importantly, I'm going - eventually home, but that's an eventually I'm not counting towards anymore. And that's what's good with me. What's good with you?