Mittwoch, 5. Dezember, zweitausendeins, 11:29 (GMT +0100)
Justifying the alignment on my html paragraph, I wonder if I
can justify going to The Abduction from the Seraglio at the
Volksoper tonight and go clubbing with Daniele later (London
Calling at Flex). With a viola lesson this evening, two looming
finals, one tour, and two papers all within the next six days, I'm not
so sure I should. Doesn't mean I won't.
My time here is dwindling much more rapidly than I'd like it to. I'm
out doing what I can to make it last -- saw Tosca (with Neil
Schihoff as Cavaradossi -- that man can sing! The aria at the
beginning of the third act drew three solid minutes of applause),
going out to Europa in the rain, beer paid for by tardiness, small
silver rings of bracelets on my arm as fascinating as I thought they'd
be; not getting enough sleep -- but the fact remains that I have
eleven days here. In the vein of milking the city, I saw Kruder &
Dorfmeister with Anna and D. on
Saturday night. First time at Flex, and I wish I had time for many
more. Short again but we pushed our way though the thronging masses
(hundreds of people there) and I danced in the front row for what must
have been three and a half, four solid hours. Live; highly danceable.
Not a light show like Air's, and not
much to see, but I was glad I was up there so I knew what I wasn't
missing. The reason to be that far forward, though, was to have the
room to groove to the awesome music (I don't hear enough live of this
genre -- miss marTin's bashes in the
The hot water chez Frau B. has been fixed. Was a little bit ago.
Showers, for your reading pleasure, are now WARM, no matter what time
of day. Glory. That and the huge down bed covers could keep me in
Austria, where the moon cookies of Mom fame originated, as Traude told
us this morning -- let us taste the dough for » vanilla
Kipferln «, and I realized what it was. Anker didn't have
any but I'm sure I can steal some of Traude's small moons.
Problems (at least the immediate ones of the day) solved -- Keine
Vorstellung wegen technischer Proben fur die Ballettpremiere »
Blah Blah «. Do I hear London (calling my name ...)? Now
the only other dilemma of this rainy Wednesday is whether a coffee or
a nap would better wake me up. Yesterday I succumbed to the lure of
Cafe Prückel across the street from the MAK, in whose Lesesaal I was
trying to decipher a book on Gerstl. Wasn't telling me much, and it
was much harder to read with my eyes closed. I grabbed Chris
(visiting Olivia for the week; I love being able to speak German over
his head with her -- evil but fun for discussing Geheimnis
(which word I have finally managed to extricate from its phonological
-- but not semantic! -- similatries to Gefängnis)), sitting on
a very art-nouveau couch, and Olivia abandoned her Carl
Moll reading and joined the campaign to wake my ass up. Needs to
be somehow accomplished today.
Freitag, 7. Dezember, zweitausendeins, 17:50 (GMT +0100)
I fell asleep Monday night listening to R.E.M. Automatic for the
People. I haven't listened to music while going to sleep since the
spring, when Martin made me queue up three albums of mp3s with one
command line, and patiently grinned and waited until I figured out the
The weather in Vienna has been unhaltingly shitty for the past few
days, forcing me to use the umbrella Mom lent me (i miss my duck one!) when she visited us in Salzburg
and then insisted on leaving me with it. The velcro is coming off.
It rained for about two days straight, nasty really wet kind that
seeps into my shoes. Finally turned to snow last night and the
wetness made it even prettier. Melted this morning, but perhaps the
city is getting the idea. But this means that all the pictures I
wanted to take will be of an overcast Vienna, instead of the sun it
deserves. Oh well; it won't matter for the cafe interiors.
I woke up Tuesday morning on a makeshift bed of a few coats, and
slowly came to life with a bowl (the biggest teacup I've ever seen) of
black tea, with sugar and milch. A different Frühstück than we get at
Frau B.'s, but then again Daniele, Sybille, and Jan's (palatal
j, not the english dzh but the German ja)
apartment is not her flat, either. After the Prüfung I took my time
in the cafe drinking a melange, eating
Apfelstrudel and a clementine the proprietor lady gave me "zum
Krampus" (it being the 6th and all). Those two doses of caffeine were
enough to keep me buzzed for the rest of the day.
My hair has been in and out of a large barrette recently, which has
proved to be very useful for this unruly length. The best ones are
come by completely accidentally -- I can never replicate a Frisur, but
I can usually simulate one with a few more pins than I used the first
Daniele owes me a Krügel, from a bet he himself initiated. An
Italian, a German, a Pole, and an American ambled into the sunken
benches of the cafe next to his flat Monday night, and actually ended
up speaking my language. My Polish is limited to "little bird," which
I had to ask Jan to remind me of, from my paper on Polish diminuitives last
Fall, garnered from Kasia. But I knew that the Italian couldn't go a
whole weekend, as he claimed, without making fun of Americans.
The Belvedere museum has a wonderful painting of a woman reclining on
huge Austrian pillows, the fluffy ones that are as big as a small
child, and the covers that are not covers but pillows as big as you
are. I want it, and more specifically, I want to bring those covers
home with me, to be able to keep talking passionately about them,
instead of just reminiscing.
I was greeted as I walked in the door of number four
Fuchsthallergasse, Apt. No. [Bacardi Stickers] with a glass of
Weißwein Monday night. People are getting to know me. Like the way
Martin greeted me as I got into his yellow car in Munich a month and
Olivia and I gave the tour today, and it went perhaps better than
expected. Between us we had Fendi, Waldmüller, Schindler, Romako,
Klimt, Kurzweil, Schiele, and Gerstl. A mouthful and a headful.
Finally saw the connections between some, and I will have to go back
with my camera to get my own copies of the ones that just do not exist
in reproductions (i.e. Kurzweil's Dame in Gelb, which I
actually first saw on a book Mom was reading in Vienna -- which one, I
can't remember). The papers due Monday and Tuesday respectively will
just flow. And they will be typeset in LaTeX, if merlin or
diamond wants to let me compile the code.
Sybille had Kahlúa and milk, and began
talking about not going to Flex. Or rather seconded my admission that
I was feeling lazy, and that I would rather have a White Russian call
me than London at the moment. Wodka was summarily broken into.
Ice on the trees of the Prater as we drove past them to the Danube
International School Wednesday morning. Coating the branches. I
imagined streetlights shining through them ... as much as I don't
want to leave Vienna, it will be good to be back in Madison, and see
old friends, even if they do have to go to stupid Harvard (why did
they all go there? i ask you) and thus have about zero time
We got hungry around 3 a.m., and I tried to call Olivia when I
realized I wasn't coming back, but the fax picked up a couple times,
and so I quit and surrendered myself to homemade sauce (right, he's
Italian ...) and an excellent post-midnight meal.
My leather jacket is so much cooler than the faux snow leopard which
is really a size too big for me. How did I shrink? My red pants no
longer fit, either.
Sonntag, 9. Dezember, zweitausendeins, 18:41 (GMT +0100)
Sitting in the cafe (as i have been endlessly over the past day or so)
waiting for my Snickers to thaw.
(I'm really nibbling on it anyhow; I'm too impatient.)
--keine Ahung. »Erdnußcreme« ist kein Peanut Butter,
The ingredients on the back are in six different languages -- wonder
if the ingredients are different for each one. Somehow wouldn't
Writing papers, at a moderate pace. Just finished the art history
one, which took longer than it should have, what with remembering the
intricacies of the various incarnations of TeX, and making a
coherent paper. Schönberg and his Method of Composing with Twelve
Tones is due Tuesday. One might think that means I have time, but
tomorrow we take the art history final, eat chez Prossinger, and then get to the
Musikverein in time enough to get a good enough stehplatz to see the
Vienna Phil play Mahler 6. I'll be absorbed in fin-de-siècle
Vienna all day, but none of it paper-writing. So tonight I have had
to forego Götterdämmerung (twilight of the gods, not of Goethe
-- just as I can't always parse Daniele's good-but-heavily-Italian
English, so was Sybille at a complete loss the other day about my
pronunciation of the Wagner), and will have to hold out as long as my
The Nikolofest bei Frau B. und Familie was yesterday, even though the
proper day is the 6th. Eleven of the thirteen Enkelkinder
congregated, along with an assortment of parents (the
Erwachsenekinder), and der Heilige Nikolo came in to the parlor
decorated with devil-masks, and asked them all, from the tiny Johannes
to the fünfzehnjährige Franz Josef (what a name for a child!
especially here!) if they had been brav. (All apparently had
been, even der kleine Benedikt, who I guess decided to end his
year-long being-good streak and ran around the dining table that
evening grunting töten! in his baby falsetto.) There was no
enumerating of bad deeds and threats of Krampus (who didn't show; i
was somewhat disappointed), because one of the parents had objected a
few years back. Even Olivia and I received chocolate Krampi, before
we were ordered to stuff our faces with a bûche de chestnuts and
chocolate, with kirsche darein and schlagobers on top (soooo reich!),
and drink tea. There are worse fates.
The sun broke out yesterday morning, so Olivia and I grabbed our
cameras and began a much-abbreviated photo tour of the first district
and Nähe, punctuated by a really bad melange in Aïda which we managed
to send back and replace in German with Pfefferminztee and heiße
Schokolade. The holiday zoo that was the Kärntnerstraße H&M
afforded lovely green purchases. May have to buy some in red, too.
Going out for sushi with Flo in an hour and some. Hopefully won't
freeze in my wahnsinnige Strumpfhose (gekauft in Barcelona), as
Olivia's predicted. Schönheit muß leiden, and a girl's gotta
Hence the Snickers.
Donnerstag, 13. Dezember, zweitausendeins, 16:39 (GMT +0100)
Ridiculous phrases in papers or tests I have recently written (and
- "aesthetic wanking"
- "aurally titillating"
- "bastions of creative juice"
... after a while, you just don't care. I'll stop this
tongue-in-cheek sesquepedalianism when I start publishing in journals,
and not before.
I realized Monday night at around 10:30 or so that I hadn't once yet
in this paper used the word "idiom." This is strange for me; usually
in papers I end up using it like I do the word "the." --Which is not
strange, when you think about it, since I'm majoring in idioms, in a
way. And trying to major in the confluences between them. Writing
this Schönberg paper has actually made me understand his whole
Zwölfton theory better -- the idiom that is western harmony that he
saw fit to expand in to a matrix of idioms, the combinatoriality
afforded by 12! (=479,001,600, of which really only one had been used
before). Hopefully will be able to integrate these idioms into my
thesis. --I of course then proceeded to use the word about six
billion times in the remainder of the paper.
Can you tell I've been thinking about twelve-tone too much? Monday
night, as Olivia and I received a plate of Schokoladepalatschinken
covered with powdered sugar at Europa around 3 a.m., and as Tony
commented that it looked awfully hedonistic, the synonym that
immediately sprang to my mind was "dodecadent."
(I must start buying these Palatschinknen with abandon, as I said,
before I leave. Sleeping, as in the Belvedere painting, on huge
Austrian feather covers, pink pillows. Appropriately alliterative,
where the line breaks of a random email exchange are inspiring. Wir
werden uns wiedersehen.)
Since then it's been the beginning of an end. Olivia left Wednesday
morning, or Tuesday night I suppose, because it was still so
scheißfrüh that it didn't really count. Plus I hadn't gone to bed
yet. Zwölf Apostelkeller the previous night with a gaggle of
Linfielders, down into the second cellar I hadn't discovered the only
time i was there before, with Thomas, to
which Sarah the Brit, Eva the Pole, and Flo the Austrian turned up.
(Nationalities actually mean something here -- it's kind of cool.
I've always before just been caught up in the melting-pot mentality of
the US, and been disgruntled that even though I was half Finnish and
my last name was 100% Finnish, I couldn't speak a word -- literally!
-- and knew nothing of the culture from which I supposedly came. But
here it would be 'Nori the American', having nothing to do Finland,
and is as valid as 'Daniele the Italian' or 'Sybille the German'. I
like it, finally having a cultural identity of sorts (even if it is
the one currently bombing the shit out of Afghanistan with identical
food and bomb packages!).)
After a melange (not so good as in real cafés), imbibed for the
caffeine that I was going to need later that night to sustain the
agenda, and after getting the waiter to bring Justin the Rosé he'd
ordered, and not the Traubensaft he'd set down in front of him,
subsequently and inexplicably picked up and spilled on him, and the
second (very non-Rosé) Traubensaft he'd then brought, until
orange.belligerence.net had decided to earn her German wings,
I had a lovely spätlese very reminiscent of the wine that I and the boy in the yellow
shirt leaning on my shoulder in the picture I just received had had in
the fall, an Australian gewürztraminer/riesling we'd imbibed in
quantity while watching August muppet movies.
Flo showed up and the conversation stuck to its bilingualness, with
Eva who spoke no English, and the former who always responds to the
English he understands perfectly well auf deutsch. Respective
parties dispersed at closing time, midnight, and I went off to U4 to
dance to Falco, UB40, Madonna, Nena, ABBA, and other classic 80's
group from both Austria and the US, which meant that everyone else on
the Tanzfläche knew all the words I didn't -- though, thanks to
Alyssa, I got them all to 'Come On Eileen'. Some Arschloch burned my
finger with his cigarette, and a few Pflasters and Austrian neosporin
later, I still think it will leave a scar. Mom said to soak my finger
in loose Earl Grey. While the tannic acid is helping the burn, it's
also turning the digit yellow. The bandaid impairs practicing, but
also saved me from my Campagnoli #14 in my (last) lesson today.
Exercised more German -- ain't fluent, but I'm aiming to cause a
ruckus in both languages, like at the Keller above -- in getting ice
from the bartender. Was almost getting tired when it was time to pick
Olivia up, fight with a suitcase as big as she was, and deposit her at
the airport before dawn. The room feels half-empty, but my stuff
looks a lot bigger and unsuitcaseable without hers to balance it. I
believe it will all fit -- even though my gado-gado spatial perception
is not what mom's is, I have blind faith in the capacity of my
suitcases. Or in the Austrian postal system.
Got our Zeugnis at the last German class today, and then repaired to a
café en masse. Agreed to reconvene at Irene's tonight for
Weißwein from our respective countries (0,7 L of 1998 California
chardonnay for 57 öS! -- I am going to hate being 21 in the states, if
only for the price of a lush lifestyle) and Italian cooking. I
confused the woman in Billa today asking if the packet I was holding
was what you put in bread to make it aufgehen, a word which she
supplied after being very confused by my garbled request. Oregano in
a package. All this to attempt to recreate the french bread I cooked
for small armies of Lodge Deux dinner-party
goers in the spring. Wir werden sehen, ob ich endlich hier
kochen kann ...
Freitag, 14. Dezember, zweitausendeins, 16:18 (GMT +0100)
I just heard of this wine for the first time yesterday, reading
Lillian Langseth-Christensen's A Design for Living, as she
describes the cases of Tokay from a specific side of a specific wine
hill in Hungary her father had shipped back to himself in New York
whenever he came back home to Vienna. Never even heard of it before,
and then there I am last night, in Irene's apartment, drinking the
translucent, rich-cream colored Tokaji from Budapest, courtesy of
Kata. Sweet and full; I'm a big fan.
For the dinner Irene proposed to host, I offered to make bread, and
after finding out that the Germ I'd bought was indeed
Hefe, yeast, I went to Daniele and Sybille's kitchen (where I
found that the pair was planning to leave tomorrow! not Saturday as
expected) to mix things together and hand-knead the flour, water,
yeast, salt, sugar, and oregano into something doughish. They left to
go secure an apartment for spring, and I brought the bowl of rising
dough onto the big red-covered bed with me, where I turned up Jan's
borrowed Who(m) Can You Trust (Morcheeba), read my
pilfered-from-the-Institut book (it will be returned), and smelled
bread on my hands. The yeast plus Morcheeba was strongly reminiscent
of last semester at Swarthmore, waiting for dinner guests in the
brightly four-colored basement as I worked. I miss Martin.
We rode six in a car to a few clubs after we'd drained six bottles of
wine, from the frozen Prosecco which thawed in our borrowed champagne
flutes and with which the two Italians, Sybille and I devoured a hunk
of formaggio francese and a few good Austrian ones to boot,
through a few Italian reds including a Montepulciano to accompany
Irene's fabulous lasagne (Pilzer, lovely mom-cooked zucchini, and
bechamel sauce), and then wound back to a Riesling with my bread which
finally emerged from the oven after dinner, a little heavy, but
explicably so, having been carried halfway across -12 C Vienna under
my coat before the second rising. Radiohead The Bends from the
stereo as Sybille and my hands were warm through loaned Latvian wool.
Flex looked boring and full, and though Chelsea wasn't exactly
rocking, it made everyone sufficiently tired to decide to go to bed.
Beatles replaced Radiohead, and as we drove around the 4 a.m. Ring, I
translated "All You Need is Love" into German so the Italian behind
the wheel could understand it.
They all left today, or at least Irene, Daniele, and Sybille did.
Tomás might still be here but like the rest of them, he's coming back
next semester. I'm glad to be here for this winding-down -- the
flight back will feel more culminary and less severing. I hope I see
these people again. On a train in five years?
Dienstag, 18. Dezember, zweitausendeins, 23:06 (GMT +0100)
As I was looking through the racks in a small CD store on
Mariahilferstraße Saturday afternoon, the store clerk approached me
and told me I should buy this new one (Llorca New Comer -- "from the
people who discovered St. Germain!"). I thought about it, decided I
was already spending too much money on Weihnachtsgeschenke for myself
instead of my family (I have no inspiration whatsoever. Hilfe?), and
that I really couldn't afford to go buying on a whim at the moment.
He said, oh, but you'd really like it ... whatever. As I was checking
out with Kruder and Dorfmeister (The K&D sessions) and Vienna
Scientists III, he said, Schade that you didn't buy this, blah blah.
I shrugged it off but he was persistent, the little bastard, and made
me feel guilty about buying other good music!
Accomplished a fair amount that Saturday in Vienna,
my last, before I spent an oddly alone and finished evening -- my
thoughts were wrapped up concerning the city, what with everyone I
knew there either in Philadelphia, Trieste, Verona, the Czech
Republic, or somewhere in the Austrian mountains, and I felt very
mentally done. Superfluous like the male viewer of Klimt's Die
Freundinnen. Chilled in the internet cafe and then got to sleep
early, before I woke up, finished stuffing shit in bags, and hopped on
the Sunday train ... though that verb implies too much agility. I was
so glad to have known the language, and been functional in it, not
just to tell the conductor that yes, he'd already checked my ticket,
but also to get about six billion different people between Frau
Bernthaler's flat and meeting Martin and the Münchner Hauptbahnhof to
help me with my own weight in luggage which I was carrying. One large
suitcase, one small, a viola, a backpack, a bag over the shoulder, and
a purse. More than one 53-kg girl can easily trag. The taxi
driver; the girl tending a shop in the Viennese Westbahnhof; the kids
on the train; the guy hanging out in the Salzburg train station where
I umsteigened; the conductors on the train to Munich. Good to
speak something mutually intelligible.
Since then, I've been chilling in Munich. Viel Spaß
-- and it really is; none of the possible complications there could
have easily been. I like that I've been here before, that I feel zu
Hause. I adore the heated bathroom floor, and i like the
stereo the brothers have rigged up in there, on which R.E.M.
(Automatic for the People, what else?) accompanied me one
morning showering (hot water! water pressure! oh, how luxuriant!), and
Revolver the next. Astérix on the bidet. I like that I have
access to five Linux computers -- I've missed this OS! And that I
have been imbibing Grapefruitsaft and Orange-Karottensaft in quantity,
kicking this thing that wanted to be a virus in the ass, and also my
finger is healing nicely, possibly without a scar. Drunk Glühwein
today in the Stadt, extra-spiked for me, and wandered aimlessly about
the large Markt-turned-Weihnachts-. Seatwarmers in the ridiculously
lovely car. Equanimity. He did ask if Frauen could come see the
ridiculous fraternity fencing he does, but the answer was always
nein, so while he was off proving his manhood, I proved my
Weiblichkeit and baked Lebkuchen with his mother (who took me to a
concert, Mozart and Mahler, last night with the Munich Phil) this
evening, on the Backoblaten he eats whole and raw (ew; why?), then
played Scrabble with her auf deutsch -- wow, is that viel
schwiereiger! I lost 197 to 221, which ain't bad for six or
six-und-halb months of the language. Copied my underlinings out of
Unbearable Lightness -- I adore that book. Every time I
approach it, I am at a different place in my relationship with its
central themes, and it means more from every angle, every time. The
lightness of being, in all its bearable and unbearable forms. I came
to it at a good time.
This afternoon, he and I spent too much time browsing CDs at a huge
department store-ish thing in downtown München. Browsing labels in
the Acid Jazz section, I found the same cover and showed it to him,
having earlier told him about the guilt-tripping dipshit in the small
Viennese record store. Looks good, he said, and in the stereo of his
yellow Peugeot convertible on the way back home, it is. Lounge-y and
gets almost a little gospel at times, but I like it. Glad to have
gotten to hear it in a non compunctory manner!
I fly home tomorrow and I'm not looking forward to the 11-hour flight,
or to be away from this new language I'm finally able to function in
and enjoy. But it will be good to be home, I think.
Oh, and Olivia, I think I owe you a dollar.
Friday, Dezember 21st, two thousand one, 20:40 (GMT -0600)
Today is the official Winter Solstice, the day about which Elizabeth
Scheibel and I used to have a blues song when I was learning to play
guitar in seventh grade, the point from which all the days start
getting longer, and, supposedly, the first day of winter. I picture
the year extracting itself from the right half of the temporal wheel
in my head, around which I see all the months going clockwise around a
circle, and pivoting delicately on its toe into the new season, from
the vantage point of the very bottom of the year, at 270 degrees. She
leaves the previous bad embedded in the old calendar, forgetting the
grades of the spring semester and tearful upsets of early summer, and
she trails bits of memories behind herself like a dress, the good from
the past year floating out from her like streamers, bringing a
wonderful love affair and Viennese pastries with her into the next
There is no snow on the Madison ground, unlike in Vienna and Gauting,
whose branches were coated thick and whose sylvan dog-walking paths
crunched under my Sybillan boots. (She also gave me her houseshoes
with the huge yellow flowers affixed to the toejoint, Sybille did, and
today I am wearing them with new rainbow-colored toesocks, quite the
pedal eyesore.) It is even a balmy 1 or 2 degrees Celsius,
appallingly above freezing. This morning I donned my Cheerios T-shirt
and running shoes and headed out to the West
five-and-a-third-laps-to-a-mile track, and while it was initially
chilly, it was not subzero in either measurement, and the two miles
felt good after a semester of relative indolence and Sachertorte.
It's slightly odd, being in America again -- the States, I suppose I
usually say, but in German die Vereinigen Staten von Amerika
doesn't go over as well as just the last word of that phrase, so the
false cognates seep through (I'm not sure I'm ever going to live down "hand
shoes"). I did speak English in Austria, but I haven't spoken a pure
English since August or so, so my regular, colloquial stimmt,
genau, scheiße aren't always understood anymore. Store clerks
speaking at me in my native tongue are especially weird, as is the
fact that every other patron in a restaurant is also speaking English,
or the fact that everyone on the streets understands what I'm saying.
I asked the waitress at Wasabi last night for Tempura Sakura,
bitte. She didn't get it.
There are good things here, though. Cheddar cheese. I have never had
so radical a change of diet for so long, and while my eating habits
were not drastically altered, the difference was insidious. I didn't
really notice the disappearance of cheddar cheese, peanut butter,
wheat bread, skim milk, and other staples of my daily intake. But
when Grandma told me yesterday (having fifteen minutes earlier
declined an offer for lunch) that she was "visualizing a cheese and
bread sandwich," and upon making her the perfect grilled cheese, with
self-lighting burners and my favorite square griddle, I caved and had
to make myself one, too. The cheese here is not what you'd call
exquisite, like you might some of the French varieties, or even
historically savory, like the Austrian Lipatuer, but it is
Cheddar likely produced within a 15-mile radius, the product of a
different kind of farmland than that inhabited by Niederösterreich's
Bauern. I feel like the Kühe there are even different than our 'cows'.
What is indisputably different here, and should be more apparent than
the different types of cheeses or cows, are the alcohol laws. I have
been 21 for three months now, and been able to drink legally for about
four, but none of that time has been spent in the States. I have had
crazy dreams about trying to purchase a small bottle of the Verpoorten
egg liquor, like the kind that sat on my desk last spring and finally
went into a failed rum-cake, from a grocery store as it was closing,
and only having my internet cafe student ID on me ... and now, as I
realize that I'm in a position to legally buy alcohol here, Ari asks
me to buy him beer for the would-have-been poker game bei ihm that
night. I readily agree -- but in Apollo Liquor, the clerk happily
sells me a twelve-pack of Sam Adams and four Guinnesses without even
blinking. I consider asking him to card me, but then finally just
return his "have a nice evening" and leave, crushed. I was carded all summer! and now, no one even
looks at the red box around my driver's license photo to verify that
the "under 21 until:" date is three months past! At our paternal-side
Christmas dinner last night at Wasabi, the waitress did not think to
ask for an ID when Delia and I split a large Sapporo and a small Sake.
Where is the justice, I ask you. And I don't mean the poetic kind.
Madison is a little stranger every time I come back to it.
Specifically this time has to do with the lack of snow on the ground;
the growing distance I have from my roots here; running on the West
track this morning and seeing my 10th-grade History teacher Mr. Irwin
get into his car in the faculty parking lot (who'd taught us all about
the Hapsburgs, whom I didn't remember at all until reëncountering them
this semester in Imperial Vienna); fewer and fewer jobs in this city
that I could do (of course, that has also to do with the recession).
Thankfully, this time round most of the people I care to see are in
Madison for at least two weeks -- all my Harvard boys; Alana; Emilie.
Did some more Christmas shopping with Ari yesterday and promised to
make graham crackers from scratch with him; re-finding another branch
of the Original Pancake House out off Monona Drive with Ben this
afternoon and stuffing our faces with chocolate chip pancakes, hash
browns and cheese, fried over medium eggs, toast, and extra-pulpy
orange juice; drinking tea at Emilie's house this afternoon with
others and Alana. Hopefully I'll find a job to fill a few of these
hours, and eliminate a little of the Christmas debt I'm currently
Espresso (not Sockensaft, jus de chausettes) in the brown china
with the three Eleanors after dinner -- Grandma regaling us with
stories she told me yesterday; Mom insisting there's an optative mood
in English; and me commenting on the former to the latter in German
(she responds in French). Patterns of home.
Wednesday, Dezember 26th, two thousand one, 22:52 (GMT -0600)
Belief that there are no monsters under the bed is tantamount to
belief that there are. Age does not confer reason -- I'm not sure I
ever fully believed that there were beasties waiting to get me when I
slept, but an opposite belief has certainly formulated over the years,
and I don't think I've actually checked in two or so.
But something last night compelled me to look for monsters. Perhaps
my unguarded feet were a little too close to the bed as I reached over
it to pull down the windowshade, but in any case, I looked underneath
my futon when the shade was drawn. Kicked under the frame was my
yellow brush, which I hadn't seen since I left Gauting a week ago, and
which I was sure I had left there.
aber weißt du was, daß ich auch bei dir vergessen habe? das
traurigste -- meine bürste! meine gelbe haarbürste! ich weiß nicht,
wie ich funktionieren kann, ohne meine leibe gelbe bürste! also,
wenn du sie schicken könntest, das wäre ganz toll.
I've bought another brush since its perceived loss,
and I didn't mourn too greatly. Since I stopped imbuing everything with symbols,
brushing my hair every morning with a yellow brush which I received
around the same as a yellow toothbrush in ML, hasn't had a particular
meaning. I wear the perfume I received this summer with
equanimity (one of a recent three words); many levels of
meaning on many objects and activities have been ignored, or just
dealt with. But where does the GOD over djinn
end? ... there is likely an infinite recursion of levels, and I won't
ever fully extract myself from all of them, nor do I want to. And
sometimes left alone with my thoughts, and the memory of beethoven seven, downloading and refiling old emails
from the spring and reading journal entries from the same period, what
can I do but inhale slowly and feel my eyes tear up as I breathe out?
It was inevitable -- and he had more self-awareness than I gave him
credit for in the spring -- which I saw for myself in Munich early
November, but no matter how you slice it, it's sad. Quietly-crying
sad. Give me time, give me months or years, but I can't help wishing
for a chance meeting on a train.
* * *
On this bed, under which was found the belovèd Bürste, is now a lovely
purple Decke, courtesy of my christmasing mother. It's not as puffy
as the real Austrian ones (or German, or Czech, but specifically the
first two in my experience), but it's summer-weight, and wonderfully
warm. A purple casing buttons on the end, like the ones at Frau B.'s
(; there were zippered ones at marTin's -- as I quoted him
inadvertently on the debian-user list today (to which I am now
subscribed) -- marTin, capital aspirated T, as he's always been
aliased to me). Beautiful plum color with subtle strips in the
texture, well-insulating and sets off my skin.
* * *
My grandmother, here for the holidays, has been livening up our
after-dinner espressos with priceless maxineisms:
"do i dare to eat a peach? ... or is it a pear?"
--grandma, 23.XII.2001, just after having said how wonderful it was to
be able to say something about famous works of literature and have
your family know what you were talking about.
"are you talking about estrogen and testeroni?"
-grandma, confusing pasta and hormones, 24.XII.2001
She may not have measured out her life with coffee spoons, but she's
seen the giant sea turtles crawl out of the dawn Costa Rican beaches
and lay their eggs.
* * *
To the comforts of the purple Daunendecke, and my similarly-encased
bean pillow, on my confirmedly-monsterless bed. But oh, I still
dream, my invaded subconscious spreading itself on this violet feather
all this ©nori heikkinen, December 2001