Thursday, January 29, 2009

Terrifying German Language Experiences

On the U3 to the Heuriger. A man sits across from us. Long dark blonde hair, stubble, camera positioned in his lap. He looks at the three of us, and then nonchalantly takes a picture of MK. Could have been more subtle if he had turned off the flash. We all look at each other. A minute later, he takes one of me. And then another. And another. And another, over the course of a few stops. MK, N, and I are bewildered and mildly uncomfortable. I decide to take action.

Me: Enschuldigung?
Him: Hm?
Me:... Wie... nehmen Sie.... photo?
Him: (German German German)
Me, looking to N and MK for help: Langsam, bitte?
Him: (German German German)
Me: I'm sorry, my German is sehr schlect....
Him: Hobby.
Me: Oh.
Him: (German German German)
Me: I'm sorry?
Him: (German German German)
Friend: He's asking if you're ok with it, I think.
Me: (shrug. What if I was Aboriginal? Can't really untake a picture)
Me: Wie heissen Sie?
Franz: Franz
Me: Ok. Ich heisse Erin.
He got off at the next stop.
MK: I'm probably going to be on some random website.
N: You shouldn't have told him your name, he's gonna tag you on Facebook.

The other experience was at the grocery store when I asked the cute clerk if he had baking powder. When he showed me the back pulver, I thanked him and he started to leave, turning around a few feet away.
Him: (German German German "Treffen" German German "Telefonnummer")
Me: I'm sorry?
Him: (German German German)
Me: (blank stare)
Him: Shit.
Me: No, I'm sorry, I'm really dumb.
Him: Maybe we meet? Coffee?
Me: Uh.
Him: Do you have telefonnummer?
Me: Oh. Oh. You're asking me out. Oh. Um. Yea, but I don't know it. Also, I have a boyfriend.
Him: (runs away)
Me: I'm sorry?

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Had a long talk with a friend who studied in Vienna last spring. Told her about my concerns, how I miss UPS already and don't know how to contact any of my friends, how last semester was not a good time, how I feel so disconnected from everyone. Haven't made many new friends yet but have very few behind me.

She said she felt the same way, how her semester before Vienna was her worst, and how Vienna and being abroad changed her. That gives me some hope.

I've thought about contacting some friends. The friends I haven't written postcards to. I don't know what to say. I feel like I should apologize, but I don't know what for. It's not even me being spiteful and stubborn. I'm sorry, last semester I was depressed, I didn't tell people because I didn't know what to do with it and what you would do with it, and I made poor decisions because I felt so disconnected from everyone. I'm sorry I didn't tell you what was going on, mostly because I didn't know how to tell anyone that something was wrong. And to this day only one person knows to the extent how messed up I felt because I sat shaking and smoking and crying in a tree with him, spending most of the time staring at the ground because I didn't know what I'd see if I looked at him. I feel like a mother apologizing for her unruly teenager who just burnt down an orphanage. There might have been some way I could have controled it, but it got out of my hands and I was embarassed.

I still feel this way sometimes. It's been off and on for awhile. Last semester, it just was on for longer than usual. Usually I can push it back, but the stress that everyone was under, along with music, family, money, boy, just did not lead to an environment where I could successfully shove them aside.

And I still really don't know how to make things go back to normal, and I doubt that that will happen at this point. I have a semester to figure things out.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inspired by Jason

First of all, two blog posts in a day.

Second of all, it is 12:04. This is the latest I've stayed up in such a long time, including going out and partying twice (although apparently not well because I was home before midnight for both). I went ice skating-it was free and rentals were cheap. Met a really nice guy-too bad there was a huge language barrier. We groped around with each other's languages, but that's about it. Still, was significantly less sketchy, and within a decade of my age, which was nice.

So, number three. Inspired by a blog by Jason about foodstuffs he was able to cook while abroad, here are the recipes I can share. I think I have become a horrible cook.

Tonight I lit spaghetti on fire. It was hanging over the edge of the pot and was set aflame. So again, expect great things from me.


Uneatable chili:
Step one: soak the beans overnight. Find out as they peel that they are not, in fact, kidney beans. Ignore this fact.
Step two: cook beans. Since recipes online recommend anywhere from a half hour to two and a half hours cooktime, sample beans, from hard and starchy at 30 minutes to mushy and bitter at 2.5 hours. Decide they will be ok.
Step three: saute an onion and some garlic. Just throw the cloves of garlic in whole, they'll be fine. Toss in some of what you hope is beef but aren't sure, as the last time you bought meat it turned out to be pork. This part is actually ok. Add tomatoes.
Step four: add entire container of chili powder. Since it seems like the amount you add back home, it should be fine. Cover and ignore for an hour or so.
Step five: sample chili by dipping finger in sauce. Run to fridge for a glass of milk, because having a milk stomachache is much better than the heartburn that will ensue from eating this chili. Decide adding beans will help this.
Step six: add beans. Taste chili. Still spicy. Add more tomatoes.
Step seven: serve, warn that it's "kind of hot."
Step eight: run to fridge, grab glasses of milk for people to pour in chili, along with rice cakes and bread to cut the heat.
Step nine: pour into pot, shove in fridge, decide to fix later.
Repeat steps six through nine until no more chili is left.

Step one: buy cheap lettuce at Nachstmarkt.
Step two: rinse, dry, and cut.
Step three: in a small cup mix in what you have left of the following that the previous tenants left: olive oil, apple vinegar, white vinegar, balsamic vinegar, pepper, salt, curry, more olive oil, soy sauce, and another kind of vinegar.
Step four: toss. Roommate suggests that it's ".... ok. It tastes kind of vinegar-y."
Step five: the next day, don't be such a cheapass. Think of what Kaity does, and buy Worcesterschire sauce and garlic powder, and good balsamic vinegar. Add these ingrediants and olive oil.
Step five: this is actually kind of good.

"Asian" "Noodles"
Step one: boil water
Step two: prepare what I thought were rice noodles but are actually really thin soba noodles by tossing them in the water. Ignore the dry noodles hanging over the edge.
Step three: remove noodles from the stove because they are on fire. Shove in sink, turn on the faucet and fan. Tell your roommates that you are usually not a huge dumbass. Try and trim the burnt edges off with scissors, but they just fall back into the pot.
Step four: douse thoroughly, toss in garbage. Move pot to smaller burner and start again.
Step five: in small cup, mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, worcestershire sauce, and small jar of some sort of hot chili sauce-asiatische specializertnesrn.... Wish that you knew more German, so you could have talked to that guy you met while skating, and not the guys who asked for a "chai five" and then took your picture while you struggled to skate.
Step six: toss and serve. Be amazed that it's actually edible.

Future topics include how to make tea, how to boil chickpeas, how to make mimosas, how to open cans, etc.

Mein Dein Sein-Ihr-Sein, Unser, Euer, Ihr, Ihr

I'm starting to feel better about things.

Even though I'm worried about being with actual singers.

Even though my roommate uses my laptop and sneezes into her hand and continues typing.

Even though I am developing a facial tic, and am running out of hand sanitizer.

Even though sometimes I still think that maybe I'm not ok, but I'm doing a much better job at pushing those thoughts away than I had been. I just stood in the shower and turned the water as hot as I could and let them steam out of my pores.

Even though I'm horrible with change, I'm learning to adapt, while listening to the three Alanis songs I like and Miles Davis, while eating Clementines and soft-boiled eggs and green tea, while repeating base forms of possesives, while knitting the perpetual sock and writing postcards to people I haven't seen in months.

Even though I just found a lipstick that the previous student tenants left behind and I know the color would look great on me but that's so gross, that's old lipstick with another person's mouth on it. I rub hand sanitzer between my palms and stare at the makeup enviously.

I think a schedule will help this. Also, a practice routine. Practicing for the first real time today. Can hardly wait to start my new music.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Was pleasantly surprised to find out today that I made it into both the voice and instrumental program here. Am totally stoked. I'm doing a Beethoven sonata for four hands, accompanying a Mendelssohn duet, playing in a contemporary quintet for clarinet, flute, violin, cello, and piano, and singing another Mendelssohn duet and am in the Act II quintett from "Die Zauberflote." Bad. Ass.

However, am preparing to be totally overwhelmed. Ran into the voice meeting late, after checking in the piano corner. Asked afterwards what I should do, as the classes conflict. She told me wherever I'm needed I'll go, and then I'll just alternate. I can just see the scheduling conflicts, especially since voice class is the one day that the piano coach is coaching.

Am relieved, though. Nisha got the packet first and before I had a chance to look through it turned to me and said "You're in." I am so excited for the semester to start!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I used to think I was a morning person, justified by the fact that I rarely slept in until 11 like peers, even after a night of heavy drinking (in fact, those nights I usually woke up the earliest, around 6 am, usually upon sobering up). I hated morning classes as much as everyone else, but I had them, and I for the most part made it work. My mornings were get up and go.

I'm starting to reconsider that. It might only be during this intensive class, when I have the apartment to myself in the mornings, but I'm liking this leisure I have. I get up when my roommates do, and shower after them. By the time I'm dressed, they're out the door. So I have a couple of hours of quiet, to listen to Miles Davis and knit while looking out the window, or to make breakfast, or to do some homework, or some cleaning, or to walk around naked. By the time I am finally leaving for class, I've been awake for around four hours. I like this.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Bad: I got an email....
Good:.... that said I made it into the program!
Interesting: Didn't say for what instrument. I didn't get a rejection email for one, so we'll see....

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday morning

Sitting in my sweats on this huge couch, back to the window and radiator, knitting Christmas presents, listening to old listening lit and drinking peppermint tea.

No email yet. I don't know. They were only going to email people they wanted to give a second chance to, and people that didn't make the cut. It's 10:01 am. I've been checking like every three minutes. Maybe I made the cut the first time. But I doubt that. My audition was pretty shitty. And they stopped me really early in each piece. Also, I definately don't plan on making it for voice, although it was a good experience. We'll have to see....

Friday, January 16, 2009

Title of the blog, pt 3

Final day of auditions was today. Action: piano audition, went horribly. I might fail college. Part of it was not being able to adjust to such a bright piano and compensate, but most of it was taking three weeks without playing, and added nervousness of hearing fantastic musicians before me. Reaction: drinking beer, vodka, and decent amounts of it.

Went to Naschtmarkt today. Got hit on by persistent men, including two brothers named "Antonio" and "Banderas." Yea. I bet that's your name. Dammit, I shouldn't have taken your candy.

Going out dancing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A fair amount of updates:

-Orientation was way better than UPS's. I'd much rather go be set free in a youth hostel, wander around on my own free time, and drink beer, than all the activities UPS had. Including camping and sitting on people on Todd Field.

-Apartment is pretty cool. Dated, but nice. Wood floors, decent kitchen, I share a room but it's decent sized-probably about twice the size of a Trimble single, but our closets are smaller, we have a big table instead of two desks, and a big window that I am watching the snow out of as I type.

-It's really fucking cold here.

-Our elevator is so scary. It is the third scariest aspect of this building. It's a two person elevator that I'm sure was impressive for the 1950s. We use that to do laundry on the sixth floor, which is the second scariest part of living here. The washing machine is locked in this little room above the sixth floor. We use a key (like a REAL key, with the long neck and two prongs at the end and the loop at the other end, like an antique, like what the stepmother uses to lock the good girl into her room so she can't go to the ball) to open the door and witness this contraption. To use this machine, which is about two feet high and across, one turns on the water, guestimates what the Celcius temp is, pulls some knobs, uses profanity, checks the water, opens the washing machine again, puts in soap, waits some more, hits the yellow button, hits the three grey buttons, hits the green button with success. To dry, there are lines strung up in the eaves of the building. Which are probably nice in summer, but it's below freezing up there. So I hung up 20-odd pairs of underwear on my bed, on the drying rack, on the heated towel rack in the bathroom. They're dry, and pretty stiff. I tried buying fabric softener yesterday (after asking my German teacher to write down the word for me), but the woman at the grocery store had no idea what I was asking for.

Oh, the scariest thing about living here is that the front door is never locked. Like the door to our building. We have a key for it. But most of the time I've just pushed the door and it opens. Which is a little concerning. We're going to email our landlord about it.

More later, as I probably should get dressed.... I audition for voice today!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Day 2, notes from a Mexican Resturant

[From my notebook, about an hour and a half ago]

I am writing again in another melting pot, a Mexican resturant (the one with the lonely metal cactus in front, which I am delighted to see is strung up with Christmas lights), reading a menu that is in two languages I hardly understand, drinking a margurita. This is Vienna!
Whatever. It's one way to warm up.
I have a tendency to attract older men that won't leave me the fuck alone. Yesterday, first the Russian man who liked the Pentagon and kept apologizing. The Greek man who invited me back into his shop, and, when I tried to leave, gave me his phone number and told me to "call anytime, this is my cell." The younger black guy who told me I was beautiful after I refused to buy a calendar. Then, today. The man trying to sell me opera tickets. The man who brought me to the Albertina. I did meet a nice older man with a beautiful Hungarian hunting dog. He informed me that he walked his dog here all the time. She tugged at his leash while he informed me that he was a "gynecologist, my office is over there" as he pointed across the street. Good to know. He told me about one of his patients, a pianist whose name I recognized but now can't remember.
Holy shit, there is a koi pond full of monstrous koi. I'm not surprised, koi being the official fish of Mexico.
Oh my god another resturant playing Shakira. At least it's a little more appropriate here.
Don't go to Austria for Mexican food. Just saying. Althouh I don't eat veal, so wienerschnitzel is out.
The koi stick their entire heads out of the water.
I need to practice. I'm terrified for my audition.
Kandinsky-The Inner Alliance
Nisha comes tomorrow! I'm excited to not be alone, and to see her, of course.

Guten Morgen
Guten Tag
Auf Wiedersehen
Ich mochte diese buch kaufen
Kennst du.... wo ist....
Ein zwei drei vier funf sechs
Seben acht neun sehn....
Ich hilfen sie? Nein, danke...

Oh no the waiter brought over another marurita guess I have to drink it don't want to offend Austria.

Monday, January 5, 2009

[Title of the Blog]

Die Reise:
Most of my Saturday morning was spent frantically packing, because I only operate when I absolutely must. My suitcases that I intended to keep underpacked somehow kept on growing. I absolutely need to bring the silk robe, every dress I own, five scarves, the teddy bear, my octopus earring holder, a book of poetry. I check in, and remember that since I am flying business class I can go into the lounge, away from the common man. As I become one of the bougeois, eating my complimentary tortilla chips and salsa, cheese and crackers, and eyeing the bar for something to wash down my Xanax and Nyquil, I think, this is the life.
I get on the plane and have a seatmate. She is older, maybe a decade older than my parents. While I was hoping for an attractive Hans or Pierre (seeing as the flight was to Paris), I enjoyed having her as a seatmate. We kept a conversation going for maybe half the flight. My food was intimidatingly nice. Champagne passed out in small glasses as the flight took off. A full set of silverware for both appetizer, dinner, and breakfast. I wonder which fork to use first, as I just dumped the bundle onto my tray and there is no outside utensil. The attendants are also intimidating. I speak no French, whereas my seatmate was raised in Aruba, studied in Amsterdam, spends time in Paris, now resides in Beverly Hills, and joked with the flight attendant. My English becomes worse as I stutter and finally just ask for a glass of champagne, as the only beer served is Heineken and I can't decipher the long list of wines. I sleep through "Vicky Christina Barcelona," and play Mah Johng and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" on the console.
I bid adieu to my new friend as we deboard, and immediately get lost in CDG Airport. It takes me an hour to find my terminal, and the moment I sit down I realize that I haven't slept in twenty four hours and nothing seems better than to fall asleep on the grumpy man to my right. To distract myself, I bring out my map of Vienna and try to find my hotel. The man to my left asks me a question that is too fast for me to understand, and when I tell him in my broken German that I don't speak German he says something else and laughs. His wife elbows him and asks me where I'm staying in Vienna, what I'm studying, where I'm from, etc, in English. The moment I get on the plane I'm out, waking up just in time to panic about landing.

Der Ankunfstag:
I manage to get my luggage and haul myself out of the airport. I ended up wandering around an empty parking garage before I found the bus, but since I still could not find Annagasse on the map, and because my bags were hard to manage, I grabbed a cab. Much cheaper than I expected- cost slightly more than a shuttle to the airport (edit: actually, more than a shuttle to the airport... ones from UPS are around $30, and mine was 32 euro. Whatever. I was too tired to do anything). My hotel is a Best Western, but looks nothing like the chain hotels in America. Instead, it is a renovated building originally built in the 1600s and rebuilt in the same style in 1945. My room is pale pink, my bathroom is Versace style, and nothing looks better than the bed. I throw my stuff down and sleep for six hours.
When I wake up, it's almost midnight. I'm starving, but everything is closed in the hotel, and I don't want to wander around this late. I wash down some Nyquil with cookies and a beer and go back to sleep in an attempt to de-jet-lag.

Der Erst Tag:
I wake up at 7. It's 10 pm back home, but I'm determined to not be tired. I get breakfast. Get flustered every time the woman in the elevator, the staff at breakfast, anyone, speaks to me in German. I know what they're saying, but somehow a simple "Nein, danke," is too much for me. I leave the hotel at 8:30 and it's silent out. It's starting to snow, just barely, and for a moment I debate going back to the hotel and putting on leggings. I decide leggings are for pussies. My mum told me to find the tallest landmark and see what it looks like from my hotel, so I can find my way home. I know that this is going to be the Stephensdom, but I can't see it through the tall buildings in front of me. I wander around, the only one on the streets, and take pictures in the cold.

The House of Music, which I need to check out-it's right next to my hotel!

I am determined to eat at this Mexican resturant.

I found Stephensdom....

After this, I ran some errands. Got a knockoff suitcase as a replacement for my broken one, a cell phone (which is good, because my US phone broke), and sheet music. Stopped by a bakery, where I was able to order in German. Baby steps. I noticed the dish on the counter, and watched the woman in front of me put her money in the dish-no hand-to-hand transaction. Avoided making a huge fool out of myself. Came back to the hotel, slept a bit, wandered around for an hour trying to find somewhere to eat without a ton of smokers. Went to a grocery store, and while debating what combination of cereal/beer to buy, got yelled at because the store was closing. I quickly grabbed a bag of wafers and pretzels and paid.
Best. Pretzels. Evar. Just wanted to say. Much thinner and crisper and lighter than normal pretzal sticks. And now to our scheduled blog post.
Stopped by a Japanese resturant. Ate the best miso soup I've had, ever, and a spicy glass noodle dish with thin pieces of beef that tasted of chilis, cilantro, and, somehow, pot. Was approached by three non-Austrian men: one Russian who kept on talking about the Pentagon, a Greek man who gave me a postcard of "The Kiss," and one who told me I was beautiful after I passed on buying a calendar. And am now drinking tea and watching BBC. The show is a legal show, and I am surprised that judges and lawyers in Britain still wear the wigs.

It's after 1 in the morning. Time to sleep.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Friday, January 2, 2009

It's 12:55 right now. I leave in 25 hours.