Monday, December 31, 2007

Ikea by Lori

This afternoon (monday) we decided that we HAD to go to Ikea to get Nathan some bedding for his blow-up bed that will be here this week. So last minute we ran out of the apartment before it closed. We (me, Steve and Emily. Nathan stayed home-bad stomach ache.) got on the subway till it almost it almost ended-about the 9th stop. During our trip it started to snow but not real bad. We hopped on a bus that dropped us of a block from Ikea. We got in and were lost for about the first half our. We found the quilt tops and then the quilt. Then we got lost again. We finally found all (plus more) that we were looking for and left over an hour later. We checked out and decided we needed some food to take home too and filled up another bags worth of stuff. All of our arms were totally full as we made our way out into a snow storm. We got to the bus stop and got on the bus that was already packed full of people. It was a great moment when we finally got to the subway and we all exploded off the bus. When we got off the subway it was still snowing hard. Not the dry kind of snow thats in Utah but the wet kind that totally soaks you. After we walked about 1/4 mile back to our apartment, all 3 of us were drenched and cold. One thing I did learn is to buy smaller and go to the closest subway there is in a snow storm. But it was tons of fun and I can't wait to go back!

Getting Settled

New Apartment

It's funny what things you take for granted. Pizza for example. Pizza here is absolutely wonderful, however, it does not taste like American pizza and Emily has not been happy with the result.

We are all adjusting!

We moved into our apartment and it is wonderful. It's in one of the nicer areas near all the museums, State Opera house, and most of the exciting areas of Vienna. It has high ceilings (see the picture) and heated by radiators. Despite this sense of spaciousness there is a coziness about it that makes it seem comfortable and homey. Emily and our room is very spacious. Nathan's is really a hallway of closets and about an arm's span across. He is really making a sacrifice so send him lots of letters.

Getting out of the BYU apartment turned out to be a bit of a challenge. Lori and Emily stayed at our new apartment while Nathan and I went back for our eight large suitcases (about 400 lbs as weighed at the Delta checkin). I had the number for the taxi service that took us from the airport. Apparently there is something I don't understand about dialing in Vienna because I just kept getting one of those 'you have reached a number that does not work' messages. I saw a taxi pass outside and noted the number and tried to call it, but still only got errors. I started to get worried (see my previous post) and went to find another taxi. You have to go to taxi stands to get a taxi here and you can't flag one down because they will not respond that way (which I didn't know at the time). Finally, I remembered we were near a train station and thought that might be taxis there. I knew it would take two to get us all there so told the driver the situation (in German, but he quickly switched to English once I was very far into it) and he told taxi driver behind him we needed him too. We drove around the corner, and Nathan and I hauled all eight suitcases off the second floor appartment and out to the cabs. They helped load them (a little) and, not wanting to have our bags alone in a cab and trust they followed us (which of course they would have in Austria), I told Nathan to get in the other cab. Nathan, of course, as never even ridden in a cab before and to have to jump into one alone in a foreign city was an act of great courage. He didn't hesitate but there was a look of deep concern on his face. We made it safely to the new apartment and hauled up the bags. We live on the fifth floor and luckily there is an old ironwroght 'lift' that runs next to the stairway. We are one of the 'keyed' floors (it takes a key to get to our floor) which means we are special.
Our apartment is very nice. Near what's called the Naschmarkt (Sweet things to eat Market). A flea market-like expanse of fresh market foods of every variety: breads, cheeses, meats, vegetables, nuts, grains etc. We bought some fresh ginger and a bunch of roasted chicken halves for dinner our first night in our new apartment. I also picked up some exotic cheeses. I've decided to become a cheese connoisseur while I am here. I've always wanted to be a connoisseur!

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Greetings from Austria!

It has been quite a trip. To say the least. There has been much fretting over the course of my life and of the changes that have occurred of late. Like you, my anxiety has been deep, constant and overwhelming. I thought as we prepared to leave this week that surely my heart was about shut down in anxiety. In fact, every night I expected to wake up dead (well, you know what I mean). Sunday before we left we had Christmas and I must say it was the best ever. We ditched Church (despite it being the last time we could go in a year) and spent the day playing, reading, and laughing. Timothy/Jessica and Christopher/Lesa attended with us and it was just a fun time for all. We called it Fake Christmas and as such did not feel any obligation to make it in to a religious holiday and it was all about the presents and having fun. It was a great time. Of course, overshadowing it all was the anxiety of leaving.

The night before we left that major winter storm rolled in and dumped snow. I was awake all night I watched as the snow fell wondering how this would delay flights, cause missed connections, send us into a world ever-dwelling in airports as we tried twilight-zone like tried to find our way to Austria. Then because of the snow I wondered,'Would the shuttle be there on time?; It was, but they had to put our luggage on the roof (we had 8 bags weighing in total 400 lbs.) so I worried all the way if they would fall off or if not that be soaked from the splashing snow. All was fine, but would the plane leave on time because we only had a two hour connection and had to take the train to the international terminal in Chicago and go through security again, would we make it? We did. So then one we made it onto the Austrian air flight I wondered how we would manage all the luggage?Would there be taxis on an international holiday? Would we be able to exchange our money. My mind raced thought the possibilities for disaster like a primed Thoroughbred. In this I have an unnatural talent. Taxis and exchange places do not close for holidays. Now I worried would the BYU key be lost, would we be robbed in the Airport? (My grad student's Aunt had had her purse stolen in the Vienna airport shortly before we left, leaving me with the feeling that we were entering into the rough chaos of the bar scene from Star Wars once we cleared the luggage return area.) But all went find, I had a nice conversation with our Taxi driver in German and made me feel good. The BYU key worked and all seemed blessed---until we discovered the BYU apartment was only about 30 degrees inside. It was cold beyond reckoning. None of the radiators were putting out heat although for all we could tell they were supposedly turned on. There was suppose to be a notebook with house instructions and there was not. The thing that controls the radiators and hot water was a monstrous thing in the kitchen and it was gurgling and burbling but the all showed us was that it was not working. Lori and the kids piled on blankets we found and we were in despair. A deep existential hopelessness that we were with out resource. I knew that no one would be at BYU as it was midnight there and likely on the 26th no one would be there anyway and did not know what to do. I don't know if I told you, but when we were looking for an hotel for the three days we had to live without the apartment they were mostly booked and those that were not were in the $300 a night range). I found an old file that spoke of a maintenance man. It had a phone number, Nathan found an apartment cell phone and a note in a different thing with "pin number on it which worked when the phone asked for one).. I called the number and asked if he spoke English,he did not. So in my broken German I told him the problem. Who was he? What was his relationship to the apartment? What in the could he be expected to do on a National Holiday? But we were desperate. He said he would call me back, and about a half hour later he did and said he would be there between 1 and 2. Now keep in mind this was all in German and I a) did not know if he understood the problem, (b) had really said he was coming, and (c) if I was really talking to a maintenance man or some poor soul I had called at random. Well, the wait to find out was about four hours and the dread of the last few weeks descended on me in full force. I sat looking at the door wondering if anyone would appear. What they would charge. I spent the four hours cursing the BYU people for sending me into such a situation. Cursing my own ill luck and worried to death that we would be stuck three days in a frozen apartment shivering under blankets and miserable. Emily and Nathan were very sad. Lori kept cheering us up (she was also the only one that had slept in the last 25 hours).Well, at about 1:30pm the man appeared. He tinkered with the machine in deep and mysterious ways, went to each radiator and did something with a tool that seemed to me like a kind of priming and then left. I just kept muttering "Danke". "Danke." (which means 'thank you') He smiled and seemed to be pleased he had done some good in the world and left without a word or charge. Who was he? Why was his name on a document from 2006 that led me to him and why did he come to help? I do not know. It took nearly 12 hours for the apartment to warm up but it is at last warm.There are some things to be learned from this. The first is that all the perceived threats, worries and anticipated disasters did not materialize. Nothing that I actually worried about happened. In fact, things went as smoothly as could be imagined for such a hard and difficult task. And yet out of the blue a kind of trial struck that was unanticipated and unimagined. Something so strikingly out of the blue that it is stunning to think about. Yet out of the chaos we marshaled resources we did not know we had. I'm calling strangers in a foreign tongue on cell phone that's ownership we don't know. Lori is cheering our hearts and making forays into the culture to find us some food. The kids are banding together and expressing concern, not for the cold, but for the toll its taking on me as I search the apartment for some clue as to how to fix the problem.

But note: the worry was useless. Nothing I worried about happened. Nothing. And believe me I did not skimp on my worries. I poured them on in great abundance. I even worried about the toll the worries were causing. Bad things seem to find us, but usually all the resources that went into worrying were for naught. Such was the case here. Disaster struck but of a species that no worry had yet touched it. I suspect the same thing is always in store. And of course had one of my worries materialized I would have handled it similarly and the worry would not have added to neither the discomfort or solution.