Week 5: Restful days and more

Just be yourself.

When we were kids, it was so easy to do something. If we thought of doing it, we just did it. When we wanted to read a book, we just read it. I remember those days I spent in the library as a child, tilting my head sideways to read the titles until my neck got sore. My sister and I always brought back a bag brimming with books. I wonder what my mom thought, maybe she thought it was funny her kids struggled to carry the bag that was clearly too big. I think back to those moments with a smile. I appreciate my mom for all those moments, spending her time with us, our youth, all that we were, young little sprites of energy, innocence, and curiosity.

We can still be like that; kids. I used to have this thought. What if we could reset our lives, start at age 1 but this time with the knowledge that you have now. I would mischievously outsmart all the adults. Although as a child, I remember doing that but failing each and every time!

I think back to childhood. I think back to home; the sun shining through the mustard orange curtains of our window, filling the room with a warm glow reminiscent of days bygone. Home was where mom came home, Dad did his weird rituals, and my sister and I played. Home was the Hispanic community I grew up in, the Asian community I moved to, and the White college I attended. When I say these races, I only mean the majority of the population. I never thought much about my race. My parents always told me, you are Chinese on the outside. I never understood this fully until yesterday where I sat amongst 14 Austrian students at a local restaurant; realizing I was the only with black hair, from America, and not speaking the German they all were. This is what my parents must have meant, conscious of their appearances and ethnicity in the society of another country other than their own.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the experience very much and came to use that consciousness to appreciate differences. Philipp and Dominic, the first two people I talked to after a month living in Pfeilgasse 3A dormitory, invited me to this dinner celebration of the end of the semester of sorts. I joined them on Friday night at a local beer garden. I came a bit late due to work, but they saved me food. I ate cold cuts and bread, chocolate dipped strawberries, and an Austrian pancake filled with apricot jam. I talked primarily to Dominic, who had a lot to converse about cultural differences and the excitement about him going to America for three months soon. The women wore drindls, traditional Austrian/German clothing, and the men wore pants made of deer hide. Dominic told me a lot about what constitutes Austrian culture. It really came down to a common core of appreciating nature and spending time with friends and family through get togethers and sitting down and drinking beer and talking. My Austrian language partner also told me about this appreciation for nature just the day before, so I found this quite interesting. We stayed there for hours until midnight approached. Afterwards, we moved to an underground bar across the street. By the end of the night, I had spoken with Benji, George, Carina, Klemens, and Flo. My socializing abilities were stretched to their limits!

Just the day before, I had not known anyone that lived on my dorm floor and now I met so many. Crazy things happen in the course of a week.

There is a day to note, a day in which I enjoyed very much. It was Thursday and a national holiday which meant no work. I woke up early that day to chat with a great friend back home. Then after some indecisiveness, I decided to open a book given to me by a girl I met in Munich. We had met in the kitchen of my friends living complex, and somehow we descended into a rapturous conversation of poetry, love, and meaning. Anyways, the book is called the Forty Rules of Love and I opened the book at 9 AM and closed it at 4 PM, completing the novel in one sitting. It has been a while since I’ve done that; a luxury I can afford because it is summer time. I hope to do more of these sorts of things: just doing things when you think of them, like a kid!

The book was great. I haven’t read a novel in a long time as I primarily read non-fiction, but it was a nice change of subject. The story alternates between 13th century and modern times and describes how Rumi, a 13th century Sufi mystic, came to be a poet through his love with Shams of Tafiz.

After reading, I decided to bike through the city, choosing a direction and seeing where I end up. After 10 km, I found myself sitting in a stone cathedral resting my soul in the echoing chambers. Little did I know service was to start just 20 minutes later. I stayed until communion before I headed back to Skype call with my summer book club I formed with my TaB students! After my Skype call, I wandered into a gay pride festival haphazardly. I returned home and then was when I met Philipp and Dominic, the first time I was to talk with the people living in my building.

These days have been filled with events, meeting people, and cultural exchanges. Work has been progressing as the code I wrote has become more robust. Next week should be exciting as I will work hard to finally get my project rolling toward results.

On Sunday, I saw the Rigoletto Opera at the Vienna State Operahouse (Wiener Statstoper). The trick is to purchase standing tickets for three euros. Best deal ever. Oh, I also purchased a 1981 Austrian road bike (Puch rennrad)!