Thursday, May 28, 2009

Und So Weiter

I need to confess that during the opera I was thoroughly frustrated. I couldn't understand enough of the singing (which was operatic) and I couldn't understand the supertitles (which were in German). It had been a long several days and Joss hasn't been giving us a whole lot of sleep, so trying to understand church, then class, then the opera was giving me what Rob says is "classic culture shock" whose major symptom, according to him, is a wish to quit speaking German.
Whatever. I have good reasons.
In the opera, the word "shicksal" kept coming up, over and over, and I couldn't make out any cognate in the singing. 'What the heck is a shicksal?' Afterward I asked Rob and he told me it means "fate". I was mad. Fate doesn't have an indefinite article -- what is that about?! If there is "a fate" it means I can choose between options and is that, I ask you, really fate? Also, etymologically, I thought that shicksal should be a room (like "Lesesaal" or "Prunktsaal" or the other "saals" we've been to, but I was missing another "a"). Stupid, obnoxious language that I can't understand after ten years of it. Blech.
Since then, I've had more sleep and I've understood a lot more. Yesterday I took the three boys on their scooters rolling down the Donau Canal. The U-bahn ran alongside the path, and Will was elated to try and race the trains going by. We reached the next stop on the green line so quickly, that we decided to roll all the way to Schwedenplatz and get ice cream. It took us about 45 minutes, but it was a great place to work out some energy and scream and run. We got our eis and sat in the plaza and ate it, and I realized that I hadn't fed Joss after his nap, so he had Haselnuss and Malaga gelato for lunch. Seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. Both boys told me that they were definitely going to need to ride back home on the U-bahn. It was getting to be busy commute time and the train was pretty full, so we worked back a car or two before we found an entrance to get on. Imagine our surprise when Maddie and Rob left their seats and came over! They were really impressed with our trip.
Here are a few things we've seen/I've noticed in the last couple of days:
- a huge orange boat, sponsored by our online bank, which is a swimming pool barge. So that you can go swimming in a pool, floating in the Donau (it sounds good to me, being a bigger fan of the pool than of the green/brown Danube)
- three police motorboats cruising up the Donaucanal; the one in front had it good, but the two behind had a hard time in the wake.
- a streetcar that said "Fahrschule" (driving school) with only Bim Drivers-in-Training and their mentor up at the wheel. I feel much better riding those knowing that they've had their own school.
- Austrian dryers continue to lag behind in their technology. I actually have to empty the water out of mine each time I dry a load. Nothing like a sensor, either.
- But the cheese! Oh, the cheese, cheese, cheese, CHEESE! Our teensy little train-station grocery store has dozens up on dozens of cheeses, and most of them are less than two Euros. Where has all the cheese gone in America? And why does Fluffy favor huge blocks of Costco cheddar instead of the beautiful Gouda they have here? WHY?
I'm going to conquer this wee alpine language with it's arbitrary genders and its Kasus and its Chaos and its Krapfen and Kipferls and Beisls and Grundesbundesschlickesgesamtweltwerke. I am. It is one of my schicksals -- I'm certain of it.


Zina said...

Dean tells me that for sabbatical opportunities he can only find things in German-speaking or possibly Dutch-speaking places -- none in French-speaking -- and to me that seems like another reason just to abandon the whole living-abroad-on-sabbatical idea for at least a few more years. And I was already kinda feeling that way *before* reading this post. I even worry that if and when he and I go on missions when our kids are grown, they'll consider what languages he speaks and not which ones I speak, and I'll never get to live anywhere French-speaking again. And since I've already done the thing of living in Jordan without knowing Arabic, I really think Dean should have a turn to be the one who's lost.

professor rob said...

Just for the record: I did not touch that angel. I was still about 3 feet away. To touch it would have meant bending out over about 250 feet of free-fall space down to the marble of the church floor. My stomach was feeling rather Baroque at this point, so high up there that the dome was closing in on top of me and nothing but scaffolding between me and a long dive into the high altar. Besides, Maddie was clinging to me for dear life. Extreme art history.