Sunday, April 6, 2014

Weekly Interlude 31: Spring Has Sprung

A Klimt Surprise torte!
My German has been in rare form this past week. Not only did I mail in my tax forms all by myself (which required navigating priority shipping and a tracking reference), I ordered a falafel pita to my specifications (no eggplant, please) and went to a print & copy shop where I asked how to print off a flashdrive, if the print card was also good for copying, and if I could use my American student ID to get a discount. BAM. I'm not only a foreigner but also competent now, too.

Of course, I'm leaving now in less than three months. Perhaps it's the fact that I "gave up" on my German, which then lifted the self-imposed pressure and thus allowed me to speak more freely. Whatever the reason, it's pretty great. I feel like far less of a fool than I did several months ago!

The Easter market at Schönbrunn
Speaking a foreign language is always difficult, but it is especially so when you're shy (which I am). I wonder, though, how my small-talk skills and general bravery when having to speak up for myself or make phone calls will have improved over this past year. If I can now call for a taxi and handle mailing important documents auf Deutsch, then what will I be able to handle in English? Perhaps I'll talk up a storm to cashiers and librarians when I get home because it'll be such a relief to be able to communicate on such a basic level. Think of the conversation possibilities: The weather! The latest baseball game! The book I'm checking out! Not to mention the commiserating eyebrow raise and chuckle.

Hand-painted Easter eggs
Meanwhile, the Easter season is upon us in Vienna, which means I'd better start going to some Easter markets soon. Though not quite as good as the Christmas markets, the Easter markets feature a wide variety of artisan crafts. Particularly striking are the painted eggs; some are real eggshells, and others are merely wooden eggs, but either way, they're exquisite. Easter is a huge deal in Austria (obviously, considering it's an extremely Catholic country), so Musical Munchkins is giving us ten days off! Since I'm sure everything in the city will be closed for at least five of those days, I'd better make a point to stock up on food, etc. There's nothing like being caught without breakfast when the entire city is shut down (like it is every Sunday).

More Easter eggs :)
I'm in for one more long week before vacation, however. (I can hear my dad snort skeptically at the words long week. I know, I know...) This is my last week of subbing for another teacher, which means four extra classes and a private piano lesson; I'll also have more evenings than usual with Lillian. I realize that I basically only work 20 hours a week, so why am I tired all the time? Is it because I expend all my energy around small children all day? Unfortunately, practicing and running have fallen by the wayside because I always simply want to collapse when I finally get home. It seems rather crucial that I learn to balance this. I suppose coffee can be my last resort.

The amazing roof of St. Stephen's
I've begun learning some new French pieces, though. I love French mélodie; Reynaldo Hahn is one of my favorite composers. My roommate and I are thinking about doing a joint recital in late May, which has given me an incentive to start practicing more faithfully again. I plan to do a French set (amongst others) of four songs by four different composers: Debussy, Hahn, Fauré, and Bizet. Here is Susan Graham singing L'Énamourée by Reynaldo Hahn. I might also organize a set of folk songs or Irving Berlin songs -- or perhaps some combination of both! The idea is to present a light, low-key recital full of music we both love.

And now, it's time to go to sleep so that I don't start this week exhausted! It didn't work out for me so well last week...