Stuck!

I’m still here. Meaning, in Vienna. Travel is pretty much non-existent at the moment, and it’s absolutely impossible for me to get back home. Which sucks, because I’m paying double rent on a reduced income with so much fewer proofreading and translation work now that companies and universities are closed all over the place, whilst everything I love most about Vienna is denied to me anyway: the people, the music, the theatres, and the museums and galleries and nightlife.

Vienna’s Karlskirche by night

On the plus side, I’m healthy and safe and have food to eat. It could be a lot worse. It’s just that it would be better in my kućica, for reasons such as:

  • Now that the days are getting milder, I could step out into the garden in the morning and walk around barefoot in the dewy grass.
  • I could cuddle Kiki the kitty, who loves visiting me at home.
  • I could walk to the front of the house and see the bay. I miss the sea sooooo much.
  • I’d practice the piano. And then, with reckless abandon, practice again the next day! The luxury.
  • I’d remember that music sounds great when you can actually hear the bass. In other words, through speakers rather than a laptop.

I just thought the other day how cruel it is that two months into being the European Capital of Culture, Rijeka was cut off from tourist visits and forbidden from actually going ahead with all those cultural events. The same goes for Galway, of course. I hope they’ll allow both towns to make up for it somehow, maybe move everything forward so they can be Capitals of Culture in 2021?

Because I don’t know how soon this will be over. I don’t see things changing much until at least June, and we may be looking at most of the summer as well. It’s a scary thought, although I’m doing well so far. I’m just not sure what prolonged isolation will do to me. Touch is important. I just thought back, and the last time I hugged a human being was three weeks ago when I visited Kati. It seems a lifetime ago already.

I know of couples who are stranded on different continents. Others who simply don’t live together and now can’t see each other at all. I don’t have any of those problems, and like I said, I’m dealing with it all pretty well so far. But that’s just the thing.

There’s no doubt I’m good at being alone, as you may remember if you’ve known me for a while: So good, in fact, that for years on end I had isolated myself completely and been quite “happy” – except that I was actually in a mild depression and had kicked people out of my life.

My problem is not that I struggle, it’s how easy it is for me to be by myself. How the numbness beckons. I remember the ecstasy of coming back to life during that enchanted spring of 2016, connecting to people again, meeting friends, drowning in a lover’s arms… – and how I swore to myself I’d never stop feeling my feelings again.

And yet, here I am.

It’s been just over four years and I remember it well. I must be very careful, remind myself to keep reaching out to people, keep talking, messaging, send virtual hugs in the absence of actual ones, and use my body to ground myself, because that’s the key to everything I am, even when it ends up looking rather undignified and silly:

I hope you’re all holding up, wherever you are, that you and your loved ones are healthy, and that you’re coping with all the material and emotional fallout. We need to stay connected, support each other, create, and be as happy as we can.

And hope to the gods that this mess will be over soon.

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… And Home Again, Unexpectedly

Café Sacher with part of the birthday crew

In recent years, (peer reviewed, mainstream) science has found out that trauma can be inherited. Grandchildren of holocaust survivors, even when they’ve never had a bad experience in their own lives, show the same physical and psychological trauma patterns as their grandparents. Women everywhere display the effects of trauma from centuries of patriarchal abuse and oppression.

In a Facebook group of pagans in Vienna, someone posted that she has an ominous feeling these days, as though something major were on its way (Martina, if you read this: thanks for the prompt). Which startled me, because I instantly, instinctively knew exactly what she meant. To avoid misunderstandings: This isn’t about people buying 200 rolls of toilet paper in a panic. In fact, it’s not panic-related at all.

This is all on the energetic level, which explains why highly sensitive people and pagans who work with energy feel it in particular. It’s like a collective version of inherited trauma. Throughout history, Vienna has seen several catastrophic epidemics, from the (pandemic) flu of 1919 to the plague in 1679 – to this day, the impressive “plague column” commemorates how one third of the population was wiped out over a short period of time.

Pestsäule (Plague Column), Vienna

Stuff like that leaves a mark on the collective psyche. And I believe the current pandemic, which has led to rather severe restrictions of public life here, touches on old trauma nobody is even aware of in this day and age. And that’s the ominous energetic hum, the vibration of “uh-oh…” that permeates the city, even while its inhabitants are amazingly calm and cheerful and for the most part, take the news in stride so far.

I for one am glad that Austria is one of the few countries who seem to take the threat seriously and who take appropriate measures. I’m starting out by saying this, because what follows will be a bit of a whine. Or rather, an expression of how fucking sad I am that things have turned out this way. I just want to make clear from the start that I know the world has far, far more serious problems right now. I’m humbly aware of how insignificant my own woes are in comparison, and I’d still like to voice them, here, on my personal blog.

This thrice-accursed virus is cutting short my three months in Vienna which I’ve been looking forward to, counting down to, for ages. First of all, all cultural events were cancelled, and that includes Evgeny Kissin’s concert with Renée Fleming that I had prime tickets for. It was supposed to happen yesterday, and I still tear up every time I think of it. All other concerts, operas, and theater performances are cancelled, too. And my Croatian course, along with all university courses in Vienna, will happen online rather than in person.

Yesterday, they also closed all state museums, and overall the recommendation is to restrict one’s social life as much as possible – which is shit when you’re stuck in a small flat with two suitcases of clothes, virtually no books, no music, no piano, no bow, and only a tiny laptop that doesn’t even fit a computer game. What would I do in isolation here?? I came to Vienna for the cultural life and for meeting groups like the aforementioned pagans and polyamorous/non-monogamous gatherings.

Today, Croatia has announced that everyone travelling into the country from abroad, must enter into 14 days of self isolation. Who knows what the situation will be like in a few weeks or months – judging from the developments in China, this thing will be far from over in May, when I was scheduled to go home. What if I got stuck here? Therefore, I’ve done the sensible thing and booked a return ticket on the train, for Tuesday.

Don’t get me wrong: Being in Rijeka isn’t a punishment, it’s amazing – although I’m not looking forward to 14 days incommunicado. Expect a lot of messages and social media shenanigans from me. Caging a hag is never a good idea, I’ll go nuts within two days. Again, I’m grateful for the measures and I know they’re necessary. I’m also grateful that those I love are still, to the best of my knowledge, all healthy. But it doesn’t cheer me up one bit that I’ll be back in Rijeka and won’t even be able to go to the city and down to the sea.

What’s worse is, I’m not done in Vienna yet. Being here has been so emotional. The other day I returned to one of my favourite haunts from the time when I used to live here, the Plötzleinsdorfer Schlosspark. There are pictures from me in the 90s in this exact same place. It was profoundly moving, being back. So many memories from the time “before” (before all the crap happened). I’m going to have to dig out those old photos some time, here are two new ones:

Plötzleinsdorfer Schlosspark

 

So nice to see these pseudo-Greek guys again.

I’m far from done re-visiting old favourite spots and my original self along with them. It hasn’t fully sunk in yet that I’ll have to leave again so soon.

I’ll be back of course (read in the Terminator’s voice). And just to balance things a bit, here’s a reminder of how danged blessed I am. Here’s a small selection of the things I’ve managed before COVID-19 forced me into isolation:

  • Seeing and hearing Kissin’s incredible Beethoven program in London. I don’t think I could have put up with missing this. It was beyond words, surreal, slightly unsettling.
  • I also got to see and hug Penny while in London!
  • I managed to celebrate an epic birthday in Vienna with some of the loveliest, most amazing humans I know.
  • I saw my lifelong idol Martha Argerich playing Prokofiev’s 3rd concerto the way only she can. And I’ll never, ever forget that night.
  • I also went to a great 80s disco, and now I’m crying because I just realised I won’t be there for it in April… oh man.
  • I spent a beautiful day in the countryside with Kati.

These next three days, I’ll enjoy the shit out of being here. Obviously, I’ll be sensible. I’ll take a lot of walks and revisit the wide open spaces in the city center and around it. If I manage at all, I’ll also take the train outside of rush hour when it isn’t crowded, to go to the place where I used to live in Langenzersdorf (I really, really need to cry in the arms of the Greenman, and I always know where to find Him there). The fields, the Bisamberg, the Danube around my old home are further places of power for me, the places where I experienced a few years of intense growth in spirituality and power.

And then I’ll go back home to my bow and my piano, into solitary confinement.

This too shall pass.

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