december, 2001

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 spring). THRONGS.

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 linux syntax.

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 time.

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 some ago.

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 over break.

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.)

--naja, anders.
--amerikanische Schokoriegeln
--keine Ahung. »Erdnußcreme« ist kein Peanut Butter, weißt du.

The ingredients on the back are in six different languages -- wonder if the ingredients are different for each one. Somehow wouldn't surprise me.

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 wrists do.

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 eat.

Hence the Snickers.

Donnerstag, 13. Dezember, zweitausendeins, 16:39 (GMT +0100)

Ridiculous phrases in papers or tests I have recently written (and turned in):

  • "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 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 cycle.

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 racking up.

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 Decke.

all this ©nori heikkinen, December 2001

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