Sunday was a perfect storm of the structured, rules-driven Austrian life I will never understand.
The Vienna skyline on New Year’s Eve resembles a shock and awe campaign; the normally reserved Viennese start their pyrotechnic madness in the early afternoon and by midnight the air is pungent with smoke, and the city filled with drunken revelers leaving their calling cards everywhere.
Last week I attended the final art group meeting of the “semester,” as the sponsor refers to it. The setting was the Baroque Winter Palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy here in the city; the exhibit was titled, The Power of Pomp (in English).
There is a myth about ex-pat life (well, there are many myths) that was dispelled early on for me: many parents who place their students in private, international schools are no more invested than many parents whose students attend public schools.
The holidays were most enjoyable. For three weeks the home was filled with family and the happy chaos that comes with. Now it’s back to routine and the happy structure that we call our life. The sun shone gloriously in Vienna for at least two days this week and perhaps three, reason alone to be outdoors. The Bank Austria Art Forum hosts interesting exhibits, including this one on Russian artist-couples before and after the revolution. Since the exhibit closes in a couple of weeks, no better time than a sunny day to head out.
We have not had a good run with tenants in our U.S. house. The first was the Crazy Captain, whose family caused more damage than the security deposit covered, requiring legal intervention. The second set of tenants, the Nutty Navy Commander and his family, have thankfully been respectful to our house, but even that has come at a mental cost.
Last week at some point my personal email account was compromised, and spam was distributed to just about everyone in my contact list. If there was an upside to this most irritating event, it was that I heard from a few friends whose communication has been a little inconsistent but took advantage of the spam to send a few “hellos” and offer some updates on their lives. From some came the question of, “When are you coming home?” And this week, with the approaching exodus by many to the US for the holidays, or the arrival of family from the US, comes the question, “Do you need anything from home?” I understand what my friends are asking, but it’s still a funny question to answer.
I have been at the mercy this week of landscaping people (I learned that requesting “grass” is not the same as requesting “instant grass” (sod)); maintenance people (water damage in the house from the flash floods earlier this spring); and moving people (it takes three separate appointments, apparently, to arrange to move 100 kg of Jack’s “stuff” to America). I’ve also been largely to myself, as well, as summer and the lure of “home leave” draws many American friends back across the pond. Though, the almost-teen daughter does look up periodically from her 85th or 86th book of the summer to ask, “What is for lunch?”