December 17, 2009

Yes... He smokes.

Today I was sitting in Cafe Beano waiting for Danny to finish putting sugar in his latte, when I looked outside and saw Santa Claus smoking a cigarette and drinking a coffee. He looked a lot like this guy, except less creepy and more wholesome, and no, I didn't let this one hug me.

Anyway, he was standing on the corner wearing a Santa hat and a grungy looking winter jacket with his untucked shirt hanging out. He was facing me, and as I watched, he turned around to face the other direction, just as a little girl and her mom were walking by. As soon as he noticed them, without missing a beat, he covered his face with his jacket, as though he was hiding from her. Although I couldn't hear them, I assume the mom said something like, "Don't look at Santa on his day off," because the little girl pulled her jacket in front of her face too. She peaked back at him a couple more times and the Santa Claus played along until they were out of sight, then tossed his cigarette and walked away.

I am back in Calgary for awhile, and, since this blog is about me in the E.U., I will be taking a break until the new year. Unless I miss you too much or have something irresistible to recount. Merry Christmas, Frohe Weihnachten, etc.

December 2, 2009

Home Sweet (and Chilly and still not Repaired) Home

Christian left for Vienna today, so I am spending my first night in our new apartment alone tonight. We have neither phone nor internet, so I am planning to stay out with Christina as long as possible in order to avoid ennui. Until both of those problems are resolved, you probably won't hear much from me. I am currently at our old apartment poaching WIFI.

Now that all of our stuff is there, the apartment feels much more like home, even though we have everything either of us own packed into the living room. Heating with a woodburning stove is definitely something we will have to get used to, particularly very cold mornings. Luckily the weather has been really warm here, otherwise I might not be nearly as charmed by having to build a fire every four hours.

Other than that, we are both very happy with our "new" home and its two floors and abundant light. I even broached the formerly creepy attic door yesterday and discovered that the attic is just empty and cold and not really that scary. Christian is still adapting to having to duck through doorways, but I am sure he will get used to it after a few bruises.

I am tutoring another student (Herr Paier) at the university tonight, hopefully making more progress tomorrow, and then driving to Vienna on Friday with Michi and Toni, which should be ridiculous. Not only is it Toni's birthday, but Christian's class is participating in something called Roboexotica, the basis of which is robots that serve alcohol... Yeah, I wish I went to his school too.

Reports of that adventure to come.

November 28, 2009

Mostly Cloudy, 6°

This week: my computer stopped working, my camera stopped working, my ipod stopped working, I met with 5 different handymen about our apartment, who quoted me between 1300 and 3000 Euro to make our bedroom liveable. I got up early on a rainy Saturday to go there to meet yet another handyman, who turned out to be only a painter, and couldn't help anyway. I was thinking about all of this as I unlocked my bike outside of our building.

And then I noticed this man standing there looking at our house. And holding a book. And that's when I realized that he was a tourist, holding a guidebook, and looking at the building that I get to live in as an attraction. I dawdled a little bit longer so that I could spy on him because I am nosy like that, and he walked in a semi-circle around the building and looked through the little alley way between it and the house beside it, and then looked in his book again and kept going.
That's when I realized that all of the stuff that has been bothering me lately will eventually be resolved, and that until then I should just stop moping and be happy.

PS: The Everything-Is-Alright-Alarm went off just as I finished this post.

PPS: Have I told you about the Everything-Is-Alright-Alarm? No? There is an alarm that they can set off if something is about to happen to the city; I have always assumed that this is a leftover of war times. Every Saturday at noon the alarm goes off for about 30 seconds just to make sure it still works, and also to let everybody know that Everything Is Alright.

November 24, 2009

If you want to send me love letters,

you can send them to:

Schmiedgasse 25/6
8010 Graz

I also accept cookies.

November 22, 2009


Before I get too carried away with the ridiculous developments that have recently taken place regarding our apartment, I don't want to forget to write about our lovely two day trip to Ljubljana.

We left last Sunday (November 15) at 6:34 in the morning. Yes, that is right. Christian and I got up at 5:15 a.m. in order to catch a train. It was definitely worth it, though, as we were in Ljubljana by 10:30 in the morning. The hostel we had read about was only five minutes from the train station: Hostel Celica is an old military prison that was repossessed by a group of students and contemporary artists. You can read about it here. The hostel itself was definitely one of the nicest I have ever experienced: clean and light with friendly people, a nice restaurant and several cafe areas, as well as an interesting concept and private rooms. Outside, the whole area seems to have been repossessed as well, with art and graffiti covering the walls of buildings within a radius of about two blocks from the hostel.

After we dropped our stuff off, it wasn't very far to the Old Town, where we wandered around, took pictures, and drank lots of coffee to compensate for our early start. Christian dragged me to the top of the mountain in the middle of Ljubljana (not because I didn't want to go - just because I wanted to take a nap first) where we visited the castle that is on the top. There was a tower from which we could see the whole city and then a 3-d video (which I can't tell you about because I finally got that nap...).

The weather forecast had been for rain, but we were lucky: it was neither raining nor cold the whole time we were there, but also much warmer than Graz.

Since we didn't want to buy a Lonely Planet for such a short trip, and because we both had other stuff going on right up until we left, neither Christian nor I had done very much research about Ljubljana. Once we got there, we relied mostly on maps provided at the tourist office and the hostel. Because of this, we probably didn't get as much of an historical overview as we could have, but we knew at least what there was to see, and how to get there to see it. I think that we will probably be going back to Ljubljana in the summer time, as all the cafes along the river seemed like the perfect place to drink a wine spritzer in the sun.

For dinner we went to a restaurant called Rio Momo (I think), recommended because of its good value, large portions, and authentic Slovenian food. Well. Good value? Check. Authentic Slovenian food? Check. And large portions?...*phew*...check. There was so much food, and we could both eat so little of what was put on our plates, that the waiter came over and asked if everything was OK. The food was delicious, but we could have ordered one dish and been full rather than a dish plus side dish each. When the waiter brought Christian a plate of 10 Ćevapčići, along with a bowl of boiled potatoes and a side dish of roasted red peppers, I knew we were in trouble.

Our room in the hostel was lovely and warm, and after a very long authentic Slovenian day, we both fell asleep instantly.

Sleep would prove to be very important for Monday's task... a journey to BTC Shopping City. With the unpredictable way in which TopShop is spread out over Europe, when you are in the same city as one, it is imperative to go there. And when that TopShop is located in a labyrinth of malls and it is raining anyway and even your boyfriend wants to shop... what other choice do you have? So-- we spent a substantial part of Monday at the BTC Shopping City (similar to Seiersberg, outside of Graz), and then hauled back to the Hostel for dinner, and then hurried to the train station to catch the last train back at 5:25.

That's Europe: a one night jaunt out of the city, and you end up in a different country with a different language and a different culture. And a TopShop, if you're lucky.

November 21, 2009

Schmiedgasse 25

Ok, so, clearly there is much to be said about what has happened since finding our apartment and signing the lease and getting the keys and now being in the process of giving it some love. But. Before I do all that, this is what has been on my mind today: the house I live in (or, that I am going to live in) is four hundred and sixty years old!

It just sort of blows my mind. The doorway in the kitchen is only 162 cm high, so that even I have to duck to pass through it, and I can't help but imagining little men and women from 400 years ago passing through the same frame-- without hitting their heads.

I guess it probably has to do with my being Canadian: most of the over 400 year old buildings that I have seen have been churches or little stone things in Ireland and those always have that ancient air about them. I have just never imagined living somewhere that feels like it should have an entry fee. It doesn't seem to affect Christian so much, but then again, his house in Eugendorf has a well.

[I have sort of got the impression that,] my parents are worried that the apartment is a bit of a hole, which I guess is reasonable when you hear that "it has really low doorways, a wood burning stove, an oil-heater, exposed roof beams, uncovered wooden stairs, and a toilet smaller than my closet. Oh, and it is in the narrowest house in Graz". But, these are all things that contribute to its charm.

Instead of writing more about how I like it despite all its idiosyncracies, I'm just going to post some pictures to give you an idea. OK? OK.

The only thing we have in our fridge at the moment is...

Christian built the first fire in our wood burning stove.

I measured: this doorway maxes out at 162 cm (5"3).

This is the living room which faces the street and is at the front of the house. I think it looks much narrower from outside than it feels on the inside.

This is in the stairwell at the first floor. It still works and I think that it's lovely.

Apologies for the night-time photos, but it gets dark at 4:30 here and I haven't gotten there before twilight yet.

While I am waiting for the photos to upload, I am doing research about how to build a fire that will last all night. The upside-down fire is looking most promising at the moment, but if you have suggestions, I would appreciate them.

November 13, 2009

And on Friday the 13th, of all days.

There has apparently been some strange backlog of the luck that was destined for me, which seems to have resolved itself in the past 24 hours. Yesterday was Christian's and my four year anniversary, which is to say that we have been dating for a ridiculously long time, and it was already a bit of luck that we still like each other after so long.

C. had yesterday afternoon free, so we were going to the bookstore together to check out (i.e. read and not buy) some books about Slovenia, as we are planning a trip to Ljubljana this weekend, a belated birthday present from Christian to me. Right as we were leaving my cell phone rang. It was a man speaking German, and I understood about half of what he was sloshily (his dialect, I mean) explaining to me. As the conversation seemed to be concluding without me knowing anything except that he had seen my CV and wanted to meet me today at 6 pm, I finally asked straight out what he was talking about, and figured out that I had just set up my very first lesson as an Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages. So, luck strikes a second time.

Our dinner at the Starcke Haus, a little cottage half way up the Schlossberg, was lovely. Since that was basically contingent on the success of our relationship, we'll just count that as part of Luck's first strike.

Thennnnn, this morning, we were, as you know, supposed to visit a little apartment at Schmiedgasse 25. I don't want to jinx it, as we haven't signed a lease yet, but it seems we have found a home... Third strike of luck.

After a nice cafe breakfast - which we thoroughly deserved after arriving at the apartment punctually at 8 am - we came home and made arrangements to sign the lease next week. Christian left for school, and I was tidying up our cake and wine from last night. I went upstairs with some dirty dishes and... was greeted with the sight of a huuuge parcel from my mother: sent over a month ago, presumed missing or at least sent back, containing clothes, cookies, and comfort. Sighhh...

I have this lovely image of some cosmic drain pipe directed at me that contains all the luck/happiness that is destined for me, that has had some clog or hairball or something for the past couple of months, that is now clearing. I have a boyfriend who loves me, a lesson to teach, a place to live, cookies to eat! Relief.

By the way, Schmiedgasse 25: the narrowest house in Graz, and 460 years old.

That top window you see will be our living room, and then there is a small kitchen, a staircase, and two more rooms at the roof level. Pictures will follow keys. Until then, I am glowing.

November 11, 2009

Dear Internet,

I have been feeling guilty for a few days about not having anything new to say to you. It's just that I have been a little down, and when that happens I tend to hole up rather than reach out. But, I had a really nice dinner with Bernd and Martina tonight, and drinks with Martina afterwards, and then I read a little something by Ms. Kate Preston McCarthy a.k.a. Ms. Gingham (who also recently moved to a new city) and realized that I needed to shove my moodiness aside and update my damn blog. So, here I am. Also, apologies to Ms. Gingham, who would undoubtedly never be so uncouth in an introduction.

Today was not wholly productive, but under the terms of my new don't-punish-yourself-when-you-do-something-dumb, don't-reward-yourself-when-you-do-something-right, just-live-your-life-without-feeling-guilty plan, I made the best of it anyway. So, after a late start, I stopped in briefly at Tribeka for a latte and a bit of The Magus by John Fowles, which I poached from Christian's parents in Eugendorf over the weekend. When it started to get to crowded there, I biked through the inner city to check out the building where we are seeing an apartment early Friday morning; we are meeting the owner at 8 am, and I figure that if we make such an effort to go see it, it is more likely to fortuitously be the perfect apartment for us. After scoping out Schmiedgasse 25, I continued to the university, where I handed in an application to study there next semester.


Doing a Master's in English, in Graz, is not what I had planned. But in the past 9 months, almost nothing has gone according to my plans, so I can hardly hold that against an M.A. Being a student allows me to stay in the country, take German courses at the Vorstudienlehrgang, work part time during school, and full time over the summer months, and, at the same time, puts me in contact with exactly the kind of people that I was hoping to teach. Not to mention that the courses I took here were the most engaging of all of my undergrad courses, if only because I was thoroughly intimidated and therefore tried correspondingly hard. As a result of this decision, the job search has been suspended while I focus on getting accepted to Uni Graz so that I can get accepted for a Student Visa so that I can get accepted at the airport when I try to come back here after Christmas. Then the job search can start again, except that this time.. I will have The Papers that have been so elusive over the past 2.5 months-- the ones that make employers say, "Yes, we will hire you," instead of, "Hm.. If only..."

It has been hard to accept the fact that my very rosy picture of how life in Austria was going to be has not really developed at all: We don't have an apartment yet, I haven't made any money, I haven't traveled in the past few months, or even spent very much more time on the hobbies I was excited to finally have time for--drawing excepted, but only because you can do that comfortably while drinking a latte. But... I am still making progress; even if it is just speaking German with friends at dinner, or going to an Immigration Office without my Translator, or just figuring out how to grow up a little bit. With how my "plans" have been going lately, maybe it is a good thing that Iam doing something I had absolutely no intention of doing.


Can you tell I haven't really even worked out how I feel about it yet? Well. In the meanwhile, it is getting cooler here, and they have finally put the Christmas decorations up. Once they start turning the lights on, I won't be able to feel bad about anything that means I get to come back.

November 5, 2009

Still No New Living Situation

I love you, apartment-whose-rent-is-almost-double-my-budget. I love your french doors, your hardwood floors, your white, white walls with bookshelves already mounted. Your wall sconces and your balcony, your tiled bathroom and corner tub; I dream of--- it's cruel for the Internet to keep throwing us together like this. Really, there is no place for either of us in each other's lives/bank accounts. Stop showing up in my searches-- when I enter a maximum rent, it's because I don't want to see you. Keep your high cielings and arched doorways for those who can fill you with more expensive things. I will find somewhere else to put my Ikea furniture, second hand trunk, and the random stuff I plan to spray paint gold...

Stuff I can't afford- from the outside, looking in.

PS Three balconies!

November 4, 2009


It has officially snowed here: big wet snowflakes that look like cotton balls.

Just to let you know I'm still alive. More soon.

October 19, 2009

PackParty Photos

These are the pictures from Christian's birthday party (The PackParty - Pack being a place in Austria). The location is the frat house of one of Michi's friends, who along with Christian and Michi, was also celebrating his 25th birthday. The ridiculous face-painting and beer-glass-to-hand-taping are a result of the 25 Tasks that attendees were given. These tasks included things like 6. Let someone put make up on you

7. Double Fisting (have a beer stein taped to each hand)
9. Drink a beer while doing a headstand
11. Build something to heat water
12. Call someone and tell them that everything is OK (can be only be done after 10 tasks)
22. Let someone tatoo you
As you will see, most people participated.

All photos courtesy of Christian's talented friend, Mario Jahn.


Nine more days without much change, except that I am nine days more stressed out. Made some progress today, at least, regarding apartments (we're seeing 4 tomorrow) and job-hunting. I am just looking forward to having a reason to leave the house other than getting a coffee at Tribeka, which I only do as a reason to leave the house (/who can resist a latte made from 3.5% milk? seriously, who?)

On Friday we went to a Poetry Slam, which was interesting, but sort of made my head hurt from concentrating so hard on the German. I probably understood about 65% of what was said, particularly because of the speed of the language and the intricacy of the word play that really has to be your first language to be comprehensible. Afterwards we went for a drink at the Brot&Spiele and then to a party in Niesenberggasse which was pretty epic. It is an old factory that has been turned into a private club. There had been an art show on that evening, but the paintings had already been taking down, and what was left for us to see was the permanent art. Painted on the wall in the entry way was a huge, childlike scribbled drawing of a female nude, and I thought, this is going to be good. Beer from a vending machine. A tiny
tiny dance floor in the basement. A labyrinth of small rooms. And red eyes the next morning from all the cigarette smoke.

Yesterday Christian and I went to his parent's house for an unofficial thanksgiving dinner. It was unbelievably sweet of Monika to try to recreate thanksgiving (/Christmas - the only other time we eat Turkey) at my parent's house. The turkey and stuffing were just right, and there was just the right amount of Austria added, in the form of Rotkraut, potatoes, and Semmelknoedel. And, we got to meet Anja's boyfriend for the first time. It was fun to be one of the people on the non-nervous side of that situation, but he did pretty well-- especially given that both Christian and Norbert sat across from him.

On Wednesday, the Graz
Elevate festival starts, which is apparently a big deal, because every time someone mentions it to me it is inevitably in a reverent tone. Seriously. Wednesday night we're going to an electronic show in the hollowed out belly of the Schlossberg. According to the website, the DJ, "Dual", was heavily influenced by, "the dazzling nightlife of the Reeperbahn, pumping basslines and the smoky gin mills of the harbour...". I am looking forward to hearing how the "smoky gin mills" come across, and seeing if the festival lives up to its hype. Two years ago this weekend we were heading to Italy.

Well, there's a little recap at least. Hopefully after our apartment marathon tomorrow/more harassing phone calls to potential employers I will be bursting with some exciting news to share. 'Til then...

PS. For dessert yesterday I made this, but with mixed berries instead of cranberries, and it was delicious and completely redeemed my dessert making abilities.

October 10, 2009

Lost in Translation

Austrians do not get knock-knock jokes.

Exhibit A: told C. various gems from my childhood. He did not laugh.

Exhibit B:

I said, now you try.
Christian said:"Knock knock!"
"Who's there?"
"Christian who?"
"Christian Witternigg"
Much giggling ensued.

Not much to report from this week. I don't have more pictures from the party yet. I spent a lot of the week on the internet looking at apts. and then visiting said apartments. I saw a couple that I like, but we have been looking for so long that Christian thinks our standards should be correspondingly high.

In being-allowed-to-stay-in-the-country-news, C. called the interior ministry and spoke to a very helpful man there, so I that I will hopefully be able to make some concrete progress on Monday. Not having anything to do here is starting to get to me, especially as my friends, who were previously more than happy to have coffee with me at any hour of the day, have now gone back to school or begun studying for exams.

We are in Eugendorf again this weekend, holing up away from the city. I am missing my family a bit right now, as I know that most of the Peacocks are in Waterloo celebrating my Grandma Peacock's 90th birthday and doing other entertaining family reunion things that I hate to miss.

Finally, that red velvet cake... was sort of a miss. Did you know that Europeans do not use measuring cups? Let's just say I need more practice with this whole "scale" thing. Also, Euro cream cheese ≠ N.A. cream cheese and that = cream cheese icing that ≠ good. After sneaking finger-dips into it for a week, I finally threw it (and the cake) out yesterday. Baking was honestly so ridiculous that next time I will try to photo-document it. I have much respect for generations of Hausfrauen that have made such lovely pastries either by free-pouring or weighing their ingredients. Anyway, sad face at inedible cake. Sighs of contentment at having C's grandma's raspberry/whipped cream roulade cake to supplement it. Oh, and, did I mention I almost had a breakdown in the supermarket - after being there for over 90 minutes - because everything has a different name here.....

Anyway, lots of nice things have different names too. For example, the delicious double Americanos that they make are called "ein Verlängerter", and the 1 Euro gelato you can get everywhere is called "Eis". Just to end on a positive note. Bussis.

PS. Most of these are really not that funny.

PPS. Except for this one.

October 5, 2009

Just to give you an idea...

October 1, 2009

Red Velvet Cake

Today I have that my-bones-are-jelly feeling as a result of revisiting the Ladies with Anja. We met at 11:30 and didn't leave until 5:00 pm (the lady at the front desk: "You two are still here?). Anja was much less interested in the lying around in the sauna part of the day, which was probably good as I spent a lot more time actually on the cross-trainer than I probably would have otherwise. Either way, post-workout, post-sauna, post-whirlpool, I managed to fall asleep in a hammock wrapped in my towel.

Afterwards C. and I saw an apartment that smelled like toilet and decided not to take it. It used to be a lawyer's office, and was therefore suitably decorated in dark wood-paneling, complete with urinal in the washroom -- which, accompanied by the workmen currently renovating, probably accounted for the smell. The apartment search continues.

Following closely is the job/visa search. No news. Just anxiety.

Christian's birthday is on Saturday, and he and two other friends are having what will most likely be a completely insane night to provide good stories for years to come. Christian, Michi, and Gunter's party will take place in some fraternity house out in the country. All three of them are turning 25. I hope they make it to 26. If there are any survivors, pictures will most likely follow next week.

(Wish me luck in my attempts to bake my first red velvet cake tomorrow?)

September 29, 2009


Christian is going back to school tomorrow, so today was somewhat a tying-up of loose ends. We tied up summer and made valiant efforts to find an apartment, which is going at a slightly better pace than before, but is hindered by Christian's new work+school schedule. Luckily, I am over needing him to go with me, so I will be visiting some places by myself this week, and obstinately expecting the landlords to understand/answer my still-somewhat-garbled German, that has not yet completely come back to me.

Our summer send-off included climbing the Schlossberg and having a picnic on this stretch of grass above a well, that you have to climb over a fence to get to. It is perfectly south-west facing and tilted at just the right angle to feel like the incline of a beach. With brie, and baguette, and beer and books, and tomatoes and some paté-like meat called Streichwurst, we lay in the sun for the mid-afternoon until going to check out an apartment on Annenstrasse.

After the apartment visit we split up, and while Christian went looking for school supplies, I went for a "grosse Braune" on the Murinsel, and then read my book until the sun went behind the trees and the teenage couples around me got too close. Since then I've been looking at more apartment ads - they all start to look the same after a while - and then we are going to C's parents house for dinner and our Tuesday night TV program, which is so shameful I cannot even mention it here... on my blog.

Anyway, we'll see how I do on my own tomorrow. Project Find-Christian-a-completely-amazing-25th-birthday-present is still underway, as are a ridiculous amount of other projects.

September 26, 2009

Fall in Former Austro-Hungary

Sighhh... OK, here goes. It gets much harder to sit down and write this when I let it go for a long time. First of all, regarding the brew mentioned in the previous entry, I have been told by various official Austrians that I can't get a work permit unless I qualify as a Qualifizierteschluesselkraft worker (basically a "qualified essential worker"). This means that in order to get a work permit I have a minimum starting salary of €2400 before taxes (= €18/hour). Not exactly an easy thing to tell prospective employers, especially since so far my prospective employers have said that they will only hire on a freelance basis. Anyway, this is boring and I am tired of talking about it. Possible solutions include getting a UK Working Holiday Visa to allow me to stay in the EU while I look for jobs that
will pay me so much; this also allows me to work in the UK, should the Austrian job market prove impenetrable. My other option is to go back to school and stay on a student visa, which allows me to work part time.

Not knowing where - and more importantly if - I am going to be working makes it hard to decide on what I want/can afford in an apartment, but what makes it even harder is that THERE ARE NO APARTMENTS TO RENT HERE. This is driving me crazy. Yesterday I found an ad in the Friday paper for a 2 bedroom apartment in the inner city, €594, heating included. No pictures, no details, just a number. We called right away and were told we could see the apartment today in the evening. At 5 pm, Christian got a text message that the apartment had already been rented even though
the ad was only posted yesterday. This may not sound so bad, but it is symptomatic of what has been happening to us left and right, and indicative of the way there are so many people looking for apartments that landlords can ask for ridiculous amounts of money and there will still be a line up of people for an apartment that smells like fish. *End of Rant

The lovely adventure that broke up this otherwise frustrating week was our bike trip to Slovenia on Wednesday. We left Graz around 10 am, following the river that runs through the city, and traveled south towards the border. Once you get far enough south, the Mur actually becomes the border, and so for awhile we were biking along knowing that the riverbank on the otherside was Slovenia. The whole trip took about 7 hours, including a few photo breaks, lunch + nap, and two distinct bicycle breakdowns which Christian dealt with very effectively. We kept getting past by people on fancy touring bikes, but for two people on "vintage" (old) three-speed bikes, I think 5.5 hours for 70 km is pretty decent. Most satisfying was passing a huge group of Austrian pre-teens on their mountain bikes, although it did remind me that in some places, kids actually get to go on field trips near water.

When we got to Mureck, an Austrian town with a border crossing, we went through the long ordeal of customs - crossing a bridge - took some photos, and went back to the otherside. During our mini-Slovene photoshoot, we saw at least 4 people cross the bridge from Austria and go into Dep. to buy cigarettes before turning around and going back. Rather than stock up on cigarettes, Christian and I spent our evening at the border-town at a Buschenschank drinking their wine and eating their homemade food, before a sleepy trainride home.

On a completely different note, I was surprised and disappointed to hear - from Christian's friends Thomas and Hammer who recently traveled to Belgrade - that the Belgrade Pride Parade had to be canceled because the police chief announced that they could not guarantee the safety of its participants. Apparently the following day, they found bricks and stones that had been stashed along the parade route in preparation for violence. Maybe its because I don't get a newspaper, but I didn't hear about this in the news at all, and I think it is the sort of thing that needs to be publicly condemned. The violence, not the pride parade, obvs. [Just googled; you can read about it here]

OK-- Here are some pictures from Eugendorf and our Slavic cycle.

September 24, 2009


I know, I know... I let it go again and there is no excuse. Can I just say that it's because things have been brewing, brewing, and nothing (positive, at least), is really sure yet, so I have been waiting until I have some news?

You should know, at least, that Christian and I went to Salzburg last weekend, and were spoiled, and that I have pictures from that to share-- as soon as I find my camera charger (hey I am still living out of a suitcase ok?).

You should know, too, that we are biking to Slovenia tomorrow and that I will inevitably have something to share after that, finished brew or unfinished brew.

But for now, writing things down means I have to dwell on them, and I'd rather not. Just know that I'm alive and happy about it, for now.

September 9, 2009

Do I want to live in Graz's version of the Bronx?

We are looking at apartments in a neighbourhood that has basically completely escaped gentrification. Despite this/Because of this/Having nothing to do with this, the neighbourhood is also a bit sketchy; it's not dangerous, and honestly, having never been to the Bronx, I don't know how accurate Christian's comparison was, but for me, it was like the St. Henri to our current neighbourhood's Mile End. Lots of immigrants, lots of kids hanging out on street corners, Turkish teenagers on scooters: none of these are really reasons not to take the apartment, but as we were biking around and the sun was going down, I couldn't help feeling like I wouldn't feel that comfortable walking home alone at night.

In its favour, this neighbourhood is inexpensive but still central, contains our favourite club (Postgarage, home of the Worst of the 90s parties and Russian Style Disco, etc.), is near a really cool vintage store, and contains two apartments we have both looked at and liked. Also comes with accompanying cred of living in a neighbourhood completely devoid of 'Bobos', the Austrian equivalent of yuppies.

Against it is the fact that while Postgarage is right around the corner, Postgarage is bordered by a park is definitely sketchy, and a little bit further down the street is a Mill*... Like a Quarry, next generation. Finally. I grew up in Mount Royal. I never had to learn street smarts. When we looked at the apartment today, I accidentally left my purse in my bike basket. I don't know if I have what it takes to live there.

What do you think?

*Christian sent me the link to the Mill's website to contrast my creepy impressions about it. I don't know... That font is pretty sinister.

September 7, 2009

Diary of Katie Peacock

Boyfriends (finally on same continent): 1, Roommates: 9, Reunions: plenty, all joyous, Jobs: currently none but working on it.

Am currently v. frustrated by inability to change line spacing from 1.5 to 1.0 even though have clearly done it in previous posts (see that one about point form). Also currently omitting subjects in all sentences as have been reading Bridget Jones all day and cannot avoid duplicating writing style of similar diary-entry format. Very much obliged to official BFF Lara Branson for peer-pressuring self to read said book (am currently on sequel) despite much reluctance on part of self.

Yesterday Christian and self went for dinner at Monika and Norbert's (You know Monika and Norbert, darling, Christian's parents!) and ate delicious and v. European style raclette. C. had to work all day, so had spent all of previous afternoon wandering around, reacquainting self with city and enjoying favourite activities of European haunts gone-by. After such haunting was therefore understandably excited by prospect of melted cheese and grilled meats plus vegetables for dinner. Experienced state of such gastronomical fulfillment that promptly fell asleep in Anja's bed after dinner (with Christian and Anja), although this may also have been caused by residual jet-lag and/or (most likely) being forced to watch NCIS.

Was lovely to be reunited with rest of Witternigg family as were practically adoptive parents while was here for European exchange, even going so far as to name family hamster after best friend, in manner of keeping her around even after she was gone (i.e. they liked the name). Not only were Monika and Norbert v. welcoming and friendly (somewhat appeasing residual guilt about luring their only son to far away country), but Monika began dinner by telling me about an advert she had seen in Friday's paper, which stated "ENGLISH NATIVE SPEAKERS WANTED" and then gave only a mobile number. Called today and spoke with an Irish woman named Brita.

Brita goes to Austrian equivalent of Junior Highs and teaches English with focus on communicative skills (i.e. not grammar, hurrah!). Was told more but don't want to ruin it as... am meeting with same Brita (hopefully have not butchered name on public blog?) on Wednesday morning. Am somewhat skeptical as:

  1. Brita does not live in Graz
  2. We are meeting in the main square next to where the tram arrives and does not seem formal enough to be real "interview"
  3. No real pressure was felt on phone; Brita seemed pleasant and didn't make me feel as though I had to work to obtain this interview in any way, but did mention that she had had various replies to advert so maybe she is just playing the field.
  4. Generally just seems much too easy and am therefore innately skeptical but also naively hopeful that skepticism will turn out to be cynicism and optimism will be rewarded as faith in human kind.
Tomorrow will continue apartment search with boyfriend and possibly provide summary of 9 (nine!) other people within walls of current lodging. Amendment: will only post again if can figure out how to regain 1.0 line spacing and also if can stop self from writing in ridiculous (though, if may say about self, quite accurate) parroting of Bridget-Jones-style documentation. Will resume use of pronouns! Tomorrow. Promise.
UPDATE: Coerced boyfriend into helping with HTML (after various attempts resulting in completely butchered formatting of blog) and line-spacing now conforms to high standards held by self. *Bats eyelashes at boyfriend* See? It's wearing off already.

September 6, 2009

Preliminary Findings Upon Moving (Back) to a Foreign Country

1. This is how things went as we were walking towards Christian's apartment for the first time, suitcases in tow:
Me, in my head: "I can't believe we live near such a pretty square... That is my favourite cathedral...Hmm, Cafe Chat Noir... I don't remember seeing it before... I think that will be my new favourite haunt. I'll go there all the time and drink coffee and read books and think about life... I wonder what it's like inside..."
Me, to Christian: "Have you ever been there?"
Christian: "No. That's a brothel."

2. Apparently, in Austria, a beautiful sunny day with a temperature of 20 degrees ≠ summer if it occurs after September 1st, and if you go outside wearing a white t-shirt and shorts you
will be publicly puzzled over, perhaps even scorned. This tip may be particularly pertinent for Canadians who, like myself, see any day above 15 degrees as fair game for full summer garb, including cut-offs, sunglasses, sandals, etc.

3. The door to Christian's bathroom is made out of
GLASS. I know that he pointed this out to me last night, but today when I was nakedly washing my face in front of the mirror, I only remembered when I saw the shape of his blonde male roommate move to the left of me. Christian maintains that you can't see through it, but for my part, I maintain that being able to see a flesh coloured silouhette is see-through enough for me.

OK I have to go back outside but will probably add more after inevitable further ridiculous moments. Good to be back.