Saturday, May 31, 2008

Postcard from Wien

Since an actual postcard actually takes an enormous amount of effort, here's my solution...

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Games We/I Play

I have a little game I like to play in Vienna. It's called "How long can I go speaking only German and have people think I actually understand and speak the language?"

Still working on that title.

And the game, since normally it only lasts about two sentences.

Tonight I made a significant amount of progress, however. I went into one restaurant where I asked for a place and was told they didn't have one and I should go to the same restaurant around the corner. Realistically, I only understood the general gist of that, but it was all in German and I still figured it out, so...5 points for me.

No one else gets any points in my games.

I went to restaurant number 2, was escorted toward the back of building and given my choice of going to the left tables or the right. I chose the left in German. I managed to order from a German menu (not too difficult since I knew my last Viennese meal needed to be Schnitzel). Still...I awarded myself 10 more points.

I felt that things were going very well, especially when they brought me a schnitzel that was twice the size of head. A difficult feat, you might say, considering how happily I award myself points. Nevertheless, it was true. I couldn't see the plate beyond the schnitz. I was gnawing happily away when the waiter returned. He threw off a quick phrase and smiled at me. My blood turned cold and I felt points slipping from my grasp as I just stared up at him and smiled blankly. He continued to stand there smiling politely, and I panicked. Too much eye contact, and still no German coming from my mouth. His phrase still hadn't registered in my brain. Occasionally the quick ones just take a moment before I realize what's been said. STILL NOTHING! There we were, for what felt like an eternity of misunderstanding. What was I to do?! Abandon ship? Quit the game when I was so far ahead? (Who knows of what or whom.) It could not be! There was only one solution...I smiled some more, nodded, and buried my face in the schnitzel.

I knew it was over. I'd been called out. But when he returned to see if I had finished, he spouted off another German phrase and I QUIT! I took off running. Okay, not really. But I did tell him that I spoke only a little German and hadn't understood. So he replied in English, saying that it was not a problem.

But it was. When he brought the check, I found that dinner cost me not only 18 Euro, but also 15 points.

Friday, May 23, 2008


I have a confession. Until just a couple days ago, I never realized that "Wienerschnitzel" was called as such do to it's derivation in "Wien." Or Vienna as we folk call it back home. So, yes, I'm ignorant. I'm hopeful that until now, you were as well, only as a testament that I'm not alone in the world.

Since I've visited several cathedrals in the past 48 hrs (if even that) I feel inclined to make one other confession. While I enjoy travelling, I don't enjoy sight-seeing. I hate feeling guilty for not wanting to be on my feet all day. I feel obligated to spend every second seeing things that blur into indistinction after cramming as many sights in as possible. So I don't do it. I'm a weak sight-seer.

My roommate on the other hand is not. I actually have two at the moment in my surprisingly fabulous hostel. One is a 20-year old med student from Canada (first language French) and the other is from Germany, here to visit for the weekend. The Canadian, Jennifer, has her guidebook and is on a mission which I totally respect. Carola, on the other hand, is the one I spent today with. We grabbed breakfast at the hostel, went to the Morgenarbeit mit Musik (show horse excersing) and then toured the Hofberg palace, focusing on the Sisi museum and the silver collection. Then we stopped for lunch which consisted of Viennese "Sachertorte" and a Diet Coke. It was lovely. I choose to eat like that. Now I'm home for a rest before braving at night at the Staatsoper. Totally psyched.

It's the home for a rest part that I thoroughly enjoy. I think I don't mind sight seeing if I don't feel constrained and obligated. So maybe I'm a bit too strong-willed. Regardless, Wien is fantastic. My German is rapidly improving with Carola's help and I'm slowly overcoming my fear of speaking Deutsch in public. Slowly. I'm running out of patience with the whole "pay-by-the-minute" internet thing, however, and as a result am looking forward to my apartment with free wireless in Italy.

And so I've confessed, I've contemplated, I've narrated, and now I bid you "Auf Wiedersehen." Which has nothing to do with any of the above.

***Pictures forthcoming: when I'm not on a public computer.***

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Scientific Calculations

People are always throwing around the fact that 60% of your body is water. Except sometimes the fact is 75%, sometimes 90%, etc. Regardless, I am convinced that after an extended flight, the body's composition changes to approximately 104.7% water--based on a few quick calculations. And the conviction that if I'm offered another beverage in the next 24 hours (which is 100% possible as I have yet another flight from LHR-VIE), I will be sorely tempted to accept and then throw it right back at the flight attendant. Or whatever politically correct thing steward/stewardesses are now called.

Irrational? Perhaps. Just politely decline the beverage? No can do. My ability to accept or decline the drink is governed by a higher power, a universal law which tells me that I paid for the flight, including the drink, and I better drink it. On another level my senses tell me that most likely my body is getting dehydrated and I really should take it, for my own health. As if that weren't enough, I know that "X" (stewardess, flight attendant, waitress, or whatever) does not come by my row in the economy class to offer me beverages every ten minutes, in which case I better seize the opportunity to get a drink while I can.

Result: Far more trips to the airplane lavoratory (of which I have an irrational fear of being sucked out) and the feeling that, as aforementioned, I am now composed of 104.7% water. Not a fan.

Anyways...made it safely from SLC to NYC. Barely survived my six-hour layover at JFK, carefully avoiding the health hazards which were scurrying about in the lounge where I purchased and ate my dinner. This was quite the interesting experience. It was amazing to me how unaffected people were by the birds landing at the table beside them while they were eating. Perhaps in a park that's more than natural, but we were INDOORS! I just missed a picture of a bird taking down a french fry. At the table next to me. I joined with the norm and decided that I could handle the birds. But then I looked down and knew I needed to leave.

It's a bit interesting to consider, though, how easily humans adapt to their surroundings. You can see how things once viewed as disgusting: cannibalism, for example, or abject poverty and living amongst animals could become normal. As proven throughout history, mankind can survive in even the most dreadful circumstances. And I survived JFK.

A skip across the pond and now I'm hanging in the London airport, where I can not afford anything. Primarily because I'm surrounded by names such as Gucci, Dior, and Prada---the three stores are literally right in a row to my right---but also because the measly US dollar accomplished nothing when compared to the pound. End of story. I do appreciate London thoroughly, however. There's something about traveling abroad and still arriving in a country where you understand the language that is extremely comforting. But hey, who wants comfort? Let's go to Austria.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Fist of Fate

Fisher missed his second free throw. And I knew it was destiny---we would win. After an amazing rally in the last 2 minutes and a series of impossible 3-point shots, fate had handed us a gift. Fisher was 100% from the free throw line up to that point. One last three-pointer and we'd head into overtime, where our momentum would have given us the win.

2 shots later, the game was over. And so was our season. 2 days later, I am finally able to express the sense of disillusionment and loss I have felt. Our miracle resurgence was truly brilliant, but in the long run it couldn't compensate for a slow opening. And it will take some time to recover, but I do believe healing will come.

So now for a bit of self-evaluation. I've always enjoyed sports, but something this year of my life has turned me into a minor fanatic. I actually watched portions of the NFL draft to follow my Michigan boys. I'm planning my fall recital around Michigan football. I haven't missed watching a Jazz game since school ended. I know stats, heights, birthdays and hometowns of most of their players.

WHY?! From where is this newfound passion derived? And as Derek Zoolander would be inclined to say, "Who am I?"

A bit extreme, I realize. But it would be interesting to pinpoint the psychological cause of my sports obsession. If you can provide an analysis (free of charge), please feel free. Otherwise I'll continue to ponder the mysteries of my universe.

On an almost completely unrelated note, for those of you interested in orchestrating my love life, please use the following picture as a guide. Please especially note the height. While any set-ups comparable to this are welcome, the real thing would be ideal.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Life Happens

After a brief resurgence in my blogging, I was once again silenced by the cosmos. My desire for self-expression through online verbalization became secondary to the insanity of schooling. In a nutshell, life happened. And it was a whirlwind.

Funnily enough, life continues to happen and here's where I am now...

UTAH!!! I surprised my family and came home to spend some quality time before...

VIENNA!!! Where I'll be staying for a week while auditioning for teachers at the Vienna Conservatory before...

URBANIA!!! Italy---where I'll be playing for an opera program for a month and studying Italian for 3 and 1/2 hours a day! Following which I have a week off to play in Italy and then catch a plane for...

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL!!! Here I'll be playing an opera for the International Vocal Arts Institute (IVAI) for a month, while avoiding all dangerous personages.

And so the whirlwind continues. Just when you think you've reached the calm of the storm, you start looking ahead at what must be done. And you realize that the storm is called LIFE, it never pauses, and you just need to hang on for the ride.
Life happens.
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