Sunday, March 23, 2014

Weekly Interlude 30: Back to the Grind

Lillian is back!
Real Life has resumed -- though many wouldn't refer to it as Real Life, I suppose -- and I'm back to working more than six hours a week. Lillian and family returned from New Zealand in good spirits; most happily, Lillian was overjoyed to see me! (As we were buying flowers on the first afternoon together, she said, totally unprompted, "I really missed you, Susan." Cue my heart melting.) We've had many great afternoons together since, and, as always, the half-hour commute each way provides invaluable writing and reading time.

Musical Munchkins has really taken off, too. This semester, I'm teaching eight classes, ranging from Baby&Me (5-10 months) to kids three years old. The experience is certainly improving my small-talk skills, as I have to constantly chat with parents. (When in doubt, ask if the babies are sleeping through the night or if they're teething.) One of the teachers at MM is spending a month in Australia, so I'm subbing several of her classes, as well; this weekend, I worked eight extra hours! It's been quite the challenge trying to preserve my voice as I talk for hours straight with very few breaks, but I will say that I've been mostly successful.
Looking across the Danube

My voice lessons have also resumed. Currently, I'm working on Beau Soir by Debussy and My Lovely Celia by John Monro (amongst a few others). I'm toying with the idea of doing a small joint recital with my roommate, but choosing rep and learning it to perform in about two months is no small feat, especially when my technique is still growing and changing so rapidly.

The weather in Vienna the last two weeks has been shockingly gorgeous -- about 60 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny! I never realize how lethargic the grey weather makes me until the sun comes out, and then BAM! It's like I'm a new person. I celebrated the glorious weather by running several times and taking some long walks. In fact, some friends and I have decided to run a 10k at the end of May, so I suppose that will force me out of the house even when the weather turns cold again (which it already has, just today).

The Gloriette at Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace at dusk
On another note, I've been writing literally every day for the past month or so, which has been so much fun. I started a story (whose details I'm still keeping secret, for fear of jinxing the progress I've made), and it's not only ridiculously fun to write but also incredibly challenging. I've conducted so much research, and it's been fascinating unearthing the details necessary to create a vivid world. Interestingly, it's not always easy to write every day, but I've made a promise to myself that I'll write something. Of course, it could just be a sentence that I then delete tomorrow, but nevertheless, I've made a pact with myself, and so far I've kept it. Writing so much and so consistently continues to be a huge learning experience for me; I've discovered what sorts of things stump me and which I excel at. The moments where I felt most out of my element have so far turned out to be some of my favorite parts! The story is divided into sections, and after finishing the first one and a half, I realized that I needed to completely rework the first section before I could move forward. Therefore, I gutted the 55-page document and began again, thus creating something even better!

Schnitzel, Kartoffelsalat, und Bier
Kayla's visit last month was awesome and included such highlights as the Belvedere Museum (which houses an extensive collection of Austrian and German art, as well as Klimt's most famous work, The Kiss), Wiener Schnitzel, a ballet at the Staatsoper (Sleeping Beauty), Schönbrunn Palace, and some classic Viennese cafés. A too-short visit, of course, but Kayla fell in love with Vienna in just four days! It's an easy city with which to fall in love, I must say.

The Upper Belvedere
Speaking of which, it hit me last week that I'm leaving relatively soon. I'm flying back to the States in the beginning of July, which gives me just over three months. When I was so miserable and homesick when I first moved here, I thought this day would never come; in fact, I hoped not to make very many friends so that it would be simpler and easier for me to leave when the time came. Let me tell you that this plan completely failed. Not only are my coworkers at MM amazing, but I've met so many incredible people over here, both through MM and Jennifer. It's been super fascinating to talk to dozens of people, all with different backgrounds and stories that led them to Vienna. I'll miss the kindness of these strangers, their surprising interest in my own thoughts and adventures, their earnest and sincere well-wishes. Come July, I am sure my departure will be anything but simple and easy.
The Gloriette at night

So it's with renewed vigor that I tackle the city (and the continent, actually). In late May/early June, I'll be spending a week in Innsbruck with Lillian and Jennifer; I plan to spend the first weekend of May on the beaches of Slovenia with two of my friends. There's so much to do and see! And, of course, now that I'm mentally preparing to leave, my German suddenly seems significantly better...Funny how that happens, isn't it?