March 28, 2009
Wien von das Wieners!
It is day five of life in Vienna and I'd like to introduce you to my new friend, the Umlaut:
Ä Ö Ü
While these dear characters may look like emoticons gone wrong, they are in fact the workhorses of this city Wien, supporting so many words and meanings with their tiny little dots.
Wien is certainly not as alien as Yemen, but is still filled with the electric thrill of new and strange paradigms. Lightswitches and bathroom fans that time out. Trams that speed past like mini-Bullet Trains, threatening to mow unsuspecting strollers down. Grocery stores that close at, yes, hold your heart, seven in the evening. Miles of sausage and minced meats gleaming pinkly at the center of the store like cosmic Barbarella supermarket jewels. Tough little anarchists stomping past at every streetcorner in their be-Sharpied jackets. Steep spiral staircases and inconvenient elevators, awkward narrow doorways and complex thunking locks.
I'm not taking it in as much as I should, unfortunately. It's so easy compared to Sana'a, and all I want to focus on is feathering the nest for Enola, who starts daycare permanently this coming Friday. Her daycare is full of quiet and light and I'm very happy to find it, even while terrified that her spark will be muted by being one amongst many. They speak German, have great student-teacher ratios, and some of the daycare providers are full-on punk, complete with enough piercings to make my stomach a little queasy at the thought of a toddler getting a hold on one. :)
I haven't gotten hold of the flavor of Vienna yet. It has something to do with the fact that even their Emperor, Franz Joseph, got up at 5 in the morning to work the whole day through. It has something to do with the fact that they love chocolate, but take psychoanalysis so seriously. There's an Epicurean rigor here, along with something more bashful. I'll keep trying to put my finger on it. In the mean time, we are living a similar life to the States, in a way: the overload of Enola is keeping my father and me in snatches of time for anything basic or practical, but full of the sublime, like the trip today to the Winter Palace, with its fabulous Glorietta on the hilltop.
So that's the first squawk from the land of plenty. I'm sure it will only get better as spring unfurls.