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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Good Night But Not Goodbye

This is my last night in Vienna until my return after Thanksgiving. I am sad to be leaving.  There were days that I hated spending so much time alone.  There were days that I missed my friends terribly, but between Starbucks and church, I found people that I enjoyed  spending time with.  I feel as if I finally started to find my "niche" here; as if I could do what it takes to make a nice life, and now, it is time to go. It reminds me of the feeling of the last show I was in.  On closing night, I finally felt as if I did my part the best I had ever done it.  It made me sad to see the show close, and I really hate having my European adventure interrupted. Many people have been kind to me and made me feel very welcome in a city not known for its hospitality. Thank you Daniela Sechel and Dora Gerlach for your friendship and hospitality.  Thank you, Slawomir Wierzbowski for storing some of my things so that I didn't have to figure out how to lug more baggage than I could possibly handle all over the city for the last few days of my stay.  Thanks to all the people at Four Corners Church for welcoming a stranger with an odd story of a Vienna adventure. Thanks to my family and friends for being supportive of me doing the craziest thing I have ever done in buying a plane ticket, packing up, and going half way across the world.(I just re-read that paragraph. Sorry for the overkill.  I know I didn't just win a Grammy, but I am very grateful and sometimes it is helpful to say to whom and for what).

On the bright side, however, tomorrow will be my first glimpse of Ireland. There it will just be a matter of understanding the accent instead of comprehending a whole new language.  It will be an adventure within an adventure there.  More photos will be forthcoming.

Ohio peeps, I will see you soon!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Small world

 Today started off as most days do, with me checking email and facebook to see what happened at home overnight.  By early afternoon, I got dressed and went to Bobby's to see what was on the menu.  There, I ran into someone I know from Texas. I didn't realize that she was still here, and she had no clue I had come.  She asked my favorite things about Vienna.  Stephansdom, the Graben, and this little shop were on my list.  Although I am not looking forward to leaving my favorite things, I look forward to returning here.  Who knows who I might meet here next time.  It seems that it is a small world after all.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Things That Make You Say Hmmmm

I just ran into an American who works freelance here.  He told me how he does that.  It gives me another plan of how to successfully re-group when I come back.  It is exciting to think about living some of my dreams because I am all too familiar with dreams that die. I had enough courage and craziness to get myself to Austria.  I need a map and an instruction book for the rest.  I am willing to do the work needed; sometimes, I just don't know exactly what needs to be done.

This is my last week in Vienna for this trip.  I have such mixed emotions about leaving. When I worked at the hospital, we used to always talk about "feeling human again" after having had a few days off. It has taken quite a while for me to feel more like a human and less like a machine. Also, I'm not excited about the possibility of putting myself back in the position of becoming a work machine again.  I am not nearly the "hot mess" I was for the first year after my divorce, but a burned out nurse is not a pretty thing.

I was about to share some of my "dreamier" thoughts that I think sometimes. On the other hand, I think that is for another blog and another audience.

Thanks for being so supportive thus far.  It will be exciting to see how the rest of this adventure unfolds!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Vienna, Vienna, Vienna




Because I must leave the area of the Schengen agreement soon, plan B is underway.  I have completed an application and will have documents to fill out and fax back.  In the meantime, I am hoping for a different kind of opportunity to pop up that has nothing to do with wearing scrubs.  The most enjoyable years I had in the nursing profession were my years at Children’s Medical Center Dallas.  It is the closest to “missing” a nursing job I will ever get.  I plan to continue the singing path and have considered exploring other, related professional avenues for money.  I think it would be much more fun to record a children’s "book on tape" than it would be for me to have them see me in scrubs. 

The first month in Vienna was about exploring and figuring out just how to be here.  Vienna is beautiful, wonderful, and almost perfect.  My two biggest complaints are the cigarette smoke and the elitism seen here. After that first month, I had encountered enough elitism in my travels about the city; I decided I needed a “taste” of home. Finally, I broke down and visited Starbucks.  I’m so glad I did. Stephan told me tonight that he thinks Starbucks is my real home. As time allows, the baristas and I help each other with language practice.  Some of them have spent their breaktime or some time after shift with me for some conversation.  It makes a stranger feel at home. Although I am aware of lots of stereotypical Viennese prejudice, racism, and self-limiting ideas, I don't really want to leave this beautiful, perplexing place.  

Also, I have to say that being here has renewed my faith.  I have been to almost every kind of Christian church on the planet over the years, and it is in Vienna, where churches are plenty and atheists are even greater in number that I find the gospel is simple, and love is great.  It is a place in which the free churches (those not subject to Hitler's church tax) believe in more supernatural things than most New Age followers I know.  The guest speaker described miracles and the awareness of the angelic realm "like quantum physics on steroids." It piqued my interest and made me want to know more. 

The rest of this week will be busy with a conference and packing.  I have to leave the flat a week earlier than I had planned, so the transition to get to Ireland, England, and Cleveland is more tedious that I would have liked.  On the other hand, maybe more answers to the mystery of the call of Austria in my ears will be solved.



Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Having "Plan B"

While I have had an offer from Berlitz, and it seems that nachhilfe (tutoring) opportunities abound, the Magistrat will not give visas for such jobs.  As yet, I haven't been offered what they consider to be a "real" job.  My Starbucks friends tell me I should just get married to an Austrian, and although they still wouldn't allow me to work, I could at least stay.  Since the Austrian men I know are either young students or married men, that doesn't seem to be a possibility within the next four weeks. So, I started working on an online application for "Plan B."  That application does not like to save information and continue very well, so I will have to try again later. Maybe I shouldn't be so anxious to go to "Plan B," but I need just a small amount of stability in my life right now.

It is strange that as I get ready to do my part for "Plan B," I have found a more open, welcoming environment here.  This morning, I met Trudy.  She is a 64 year old native Viennese woman with a sister-in-law who lives in Dallas.  She was concerned about the wind being cold on my bare arms, and I showed her my pullover.  She was satisfied that I could warm up if I got cold.  She told me that she doesn't speak any English because they didn't teach English when she was in school. I told her about my brother, my sister, and my BEAUTIFUL nieces and nephews.  I told her about how my sister's children have her big, beautiful eyes, and about my sister-in-law's beautiful blue eyes and blond hair.  She knows that my brother is tall and slim and that my mother has six grandchildren.  I told Trudy that I hoped to find a job so that I could stay.  She told me that it is difficult here.  I said yes, but it is so beautiful.  She agreed with me. She was going somewhere to meet her friends, so at my stop, we said "wiedersehen."  My German is not so fluid, but I was able to communicate with Trudy and connect with her on a friendly level.  I'm including the story here because the whole encounter was completely amazing!  For someone born and raised in Vienna to be as friendly as an American from the South or Midwest is extremely unusual. It is one of those things that makes me feel very welcome here. It gives me hope that things will come together this month.  Having a "Plan B" doesn't negate my hope of having things work out this month.  It doesn't take away my hope of singing or of continuing with this radical life change.  It just makes me more determined.  If I must go back to the US in a few weeks, I will get some contract work and just come back as soon as I am allowed to do so.  I will continue to study German and voice. The possibility of hope deferred is not a happy place to be, but I am not entirely without hope.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The seat of the voice

Although the CV is complete, submitted, and I have a potential offer, I still don't have a work or residence permit.  The teaching job is here in Austria, but it was much easier for me to find the German residence permit files online.  Tomorrow I have some work to do to get that squared away.  I pray I can soon be finished with all of these things.

Today, I had a good voice lesson.  Finding that the voice should actually be "seated" where the diaphragm sits under the ribs is an interesting thought to me.  In terms of chakras, it is the self esteem center.  While it is not the center of gravity for anyone, it is approximately in the middle of the body.  It is connected to the rib muscles, back muscles, abdominal muscles, pelvic muscles, and your legs and feet.  Being grounded while singing provides the connection to the support to allow the sound to come out.  To those of you who are not singers, you may find this technical boring, and dry, but to me it is exciting.  Finally having a physiologic understanding; muscle memory, to help me sing a legato line is perfectly exciting to me! 

So, what does all that mean?  I'm making progress.  The vocalise exercises are making a difference.  I absolutely should not give up now.  I'm close to attaining my present goal. Next, I would like to record some music and put my name and my voice out there.  Right now, my biggest fans are the baristas at Starbucks.  They loved hearing my rendition of the Pie Jesu the other day, and maybe I just need to trust this voice that drives me.  It is the expression of  my innate need to sing.  For me, singing isn't something I want to do, it is something I must do or I will burst.  It drives me forward, always.  If I am unhappy, the physical act of singing always makes things better, and if I can't sing because I am sick, tired, or in the past, when I worked too many days in a row, it left me miserable and all those around me suffering. If the twenty-somethings liked what they heard, it encourages me to know that there is an audience for what I bring to the art.