This Introverted Irish Girl’s Guide to St Patrick’s Day

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.   ~ W. B Yeats

“The Lake Isle of Innisfree” perfectly sums up how I feel about life in general, but is especially pertinent on St Patrick’s Day; not because it was written by an Irish poet about life in rural Ireland.  But because I seek peace, quiet, and solitude.  I long to be in a place where people are outnumbered by birds,beasts, flowers, and trees. I will celebrate a not so distant St Patrick’s Day (and many other days) in a place just like the poem mentions. Because I need it to thrive.  But for now, I am in a city in a country far away from Ireland.  And I live among a bunch of people who pretend to be Irish for one day. How do I know they are imposters –  they wear silly hats, drink green beer, and act appallingly in public in the middle of the afternoon.  I choose to not so silently judge these people.  But its ok – because I am outlining how I choose to observe the day of the Saint  who got some metaphorical snakes to follow him out of Ireland, and those rowdy types can feel free to judge my choices.

*I spent the majority of the day spring cleaning. St  Patrick’s Day seems like a good day to get rid of dirt and toxic energy. Everyone knows that weren’t actually snakes in Ireland during the 5th Century, and snakes were most likely a metaphor for evil (you know Adam and Eve and the apple). I figure cleaning is a good way to honour Ireland’s Patron Saint.
*I have a drop of whisky, with a little bit of soda, and lemon. It’s irish whisky (obviously).
*Usually I would make my mom’s potato pancake recipe, but Im not eating potatoes right now, so dinner is salmon and asparagus (green has to figure into this day somehow).
*Tonight we will watch one of my most favourite movies of all time, The Secret of Roan Irish. Its an incredible Irish fable. You can view the trailer here.

And to prove that I am not some total judgemental prude – I leave you with this.

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Sláinte.

 

 

Time For Me

Lately, I have been running out of time. Not just losing track of time -I am doing that, but actually finding that there are not enough hours to get everything done. It all came to a head this week, when I found that I wasn’t able to complete some projects that had a deadline. This is unusual for me.  No matter how tired I am – or how busy I get, I always manage to complete things on time. Turns out I can’t do that anymore. I’ve also noticed that I have started cancelling appointments, and sighing with relief when other people cancel on me. I find myself falling into bed completely exhausted and actually sleeping for a few hours – this is the one positive thing that has come from all this over-scheduling.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine about this- and she had a brilliant idea via Michelle Obama (not that they are friends or anything – she went to an event/lecture by her). Mrs. Obama talked about how when she is constructing her calendar, she schedules in her must do things (for herself or for her children) first, before scheduling other meetings/events/appearances.

I was listening to this, thinking I have a very different kind of life than the former First Lady, but I definitely have a scheduling problem. So, while I have a completely insane schedule for the rest of February and March (which includes working 7 days a week), I can try this out for April and the subsequent months.  Now, I already have a proposed calendar – but I have managed to do a bit of moving things around and I think I have come up with a plan. It feels like I work 80+ hrs a week. What makes it seem like I am always working, is that I don’t ever schedule in things like billing, or scheduling, or lesson prep. I do those on my own time.  And so I am often sending out invoices from my phone, while I am waiting for a movie to start on a Sunday night. This is unacceptable.  But if I take a careful look at my calendar, I notice that I have a 2.5 hr block between lessons on a tuesday, where I can do my invoicing and follow ups (and so Im going to schedule in some admin time – DONE!). I shouldn’t have to look at that every week – which gives me a few extra hours a week for practicing, and checking in with parents, and maybe even do a bit of marketing.  So instead of using that time- for scarfing down dinner or madly preparing for the next lesson, I can invest that time back into my own business.

The one aspect that my calendar is missing is time for me.  I have already made lunch hours a time to get a bit of exercise (me).  I have an entire freezer full of already prepared dinners, so I don’t have to worry about cooking for the next 3 weeks, but I rarely schedule fun.  Mostly because by the time I get around to it – Im fast asleep.

Here is what my average week looks like:

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Work = 40 hrs
Ensemble Rehearsal = 7.5 hrs
Lessons = 15.5hrs
Admin = 2.5 – 5 hrs
Practice= 10 hrs

And if you add in the volunteer hours I work, you can add in an average of 2 hrs a week. That brings me up to almost 80 (hah! so I was right).  But there is definitely time for me.  In fact, I am quite surprised at how much white space is in my calendar.  I don’t feel the need to schedule every single minute of my life – but I like knowing that there is room for almost everything I want to be doing.  And now that I have realized that I can reschedule things, in order for me to have a  more balanced life, I feel like I won’t be missing deadlines, or forgetting things. In fact, I feel like I have quite a lot of room to breathe. Maybe so much room, that I should take on another project. Or maybe just schedule in some fun things, until I start feeling like me again.

*I purposely don’t put my practice hours into my calendar because right now, I am feeling the need to be flexible with my playing.  Also did you notice – no therapy sessions for March! Time for a bit of a rest.

Singers, Sausages, and Schnapps

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When you think of Vienna what do you think of?  For me its 3 things:

  1. Opera
  2. Sausages
  3. Schnapps

I crossed all 3 off my list today.  And this was after swearing off eating all meat for the rest of my trip. This is how my day played out.

After doing a bit of work (I know – work doesn’t belong on vacation), we spent the afternoon on the grounds of the Schonbrunn Palace (see the above photo), we toured a tiny corner of the zoo, where we saw exotic chickens, and a rhinoceros. I am not really a believer of zoos-  but the animals were visible from our walk, so we just peeked over the fence.  This is what the chickens look like:

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Popping into the cafe at the Palace, I warmed up with some Irish coffee (Ireland has been a bit of a weird theme on this trip – a bit of a story, that I will share on another day). But after the coffee, I was invited to have a taste of schnapps, on the house. And while I kind of choked it down, it was delicious.  Thank you gentlemen for giving me my first taste of schnapps (of the non-peppermint variety).

Post schnapps, we went to the opera, where we saw Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda at the Theatre an der Wien.  I am sad to say, that we left at intermission.  While I am familiar of the story of Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart, having the opera sung in italian with german subtitles proved slightly difficult for me.  I managed to follow along for the most part- but struggled with what the chorus was doing on stage.  To me, it felt like they lacked stage direction, they were just standing around – looking at the leads like they were fuzzy russian chickens in a zoo.  They didn’t look like they had any idea of what they were doing – and not only was it distracting, but it was infuriating to watch. Paired with, what I interpreted to be a gang rape of Mary Stuart, I couldn’t escape fast enough.  Its too bad though, because the leads were fantastic, and the orchestra sounded really tight.

Although the opera was a bust, like all opera goers of Vienna, we treated ourselves to an aprés opera sausage. It is the weirdest tradition. But I like weird – and so this was dinner.

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Just a Usual Day in a Unusual Place

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One of the reasons (not the best reason – but may be the most important reason) that I am grateful for having a friend show me around the city of Vienna, is to help me navigate the signage for the washroom situation.  I have yet to come across the (what I thought was) international signs for the ladies or mens or trans welcome signs that we are accustomed in North America.  The photo above demonstrates the signage for the washrooms at the Cafe Korb.  Looking at them now, it seems a bit obvious. But when encountering them for the first time – I had no idea that what I was searching for was located behind the door on the right. It’s little things like this, where I am grateful that I have someone to explain these idiosyncrasies. By the way, the coffee is good here at Cafe Korb.  And despite the offbeat signage, I can see myself returning, as the patrons of this cafe look to be an interesting sort. And while I am not one for conversing with strangers, I can imagine having great discussions about art, philosophy, literature, and world events with these people.

Now that I have this out of the way, let me run down through the rest of my day.

An organ concert by Mario Eritreo at St Peters Church, where the program consisted of:

Canon in D -Dur – Johann Pachelbel
Sonata VI, op.65 Nr 6, in d-moll – Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy*
La Ballo dell’intorcia – Antonio Valente
Toccata in F-Dur, aus der Symphonie Op 47, Nr 21 – Charles-Marie Widor
Andante fur eine Walze in eine kleine Orgel KV 616 – WA Mozart
Toccata und Fugue in d-moll, BWV 565 -JS Bach

I don’t usually listen to organ concerts – but I won’t pass up a free concert. This concert reminded me that I usually feel awake and like my spirit is clean after such an experience.  So I will have to make an effort to spend a lot more time going to organ and choral concerts, when I get back home.

After the concert we went to the 12 Apostles Cellar, for a bite and a beer. My first taste of beer in Austria. The beer was flavourful, the goulash soup delicious and comforting, and the ambiance medieval and generally awesome. The surly waiter added to the charm.  I especially loved the apostle lamp posts, and the potatoes.

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Two saintly events in one day, is a bit much for me. We ended the day at the movies, where we saw the latest Matt Damon movie, “Downsizing”. I’m not going to say much about it since I am still processing.  I am not a movie reviewer by any stretch of the imagination, but I’d like to say that this movie is making me examine my role in the world.

Signing off from Vienna,
Laura

*I did take a video excerpt of the concert (and of the interior of the church) but I am unable to upload it right now, so it will have to wait until I get home.

Eine Kleine Naschmarkt

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If you can’t make a Mozart pun in Vienna, where in the world can you?

After a very slow start this morning (I have been bitten badly by the jet lag bug), we spent a bit of time at the Naschmarkt.  Since I spent most of the morning asleep, we got there about an hour before closing, but there was still plenty to see.  I will have to go back next weekend, because I found pieces to add to my china cupboard – the most incredible pieces that are made in Poland, and lovely scarves for only 5 euros each – I may come back with at least 4.

I am a bit disappointed in myself, that I only remembered to take out my camera near the very end of the market, and only when I saw someone else do the same thing. Because there were so many things I would have liked to have mementos of – not only of the china, and scarves – but the colours of the foods, spices, hummus, nuts, and teas (oh the teas!), and the most colourful olives and cheeses I have ever seen.

Next weekend the vendors will be getting a large portion of my paycheque – with any luck I can add a zither to my list of treasures that I plan on purchasing.

Good night Vienna.

 

 

 

 

Traveling Does Not Come Easy

I learnt something about myself the other day.  I really don’t enjoy flying. I’ve always tolerated it- because its kind of necessary, but there isn’t anything about it that I find enjoyable. The destination far outweighs the journey when it comes to traveling, for me.

In order for me to arrive in Vienna (at a reasonable cost), I took a flight from Vancouver to Montreal (relatively painless), a flight from Montreal to Brussels (horrendous), and a flight from Brussels to Vienna (ok once we got off the ground).

Before I started this journey, I was overcome by a real sense of dread.  I don’t usually feel this way, when I’m traveling – but this had me sit up and take notice. The dread came true soon after we left Montreal.  Now I have taken some rough flights (turbulent) before. After all, I have flown Bearskin Airlines from Winnipeg to Brandon back in the 90s (the one time I kissed the ground, when the plane landed) – but Bearskin had nothing on this Air Canada flight.  For starters, it was turbulent from the start.  Not one, but 2 people collapsed, one of whom fell on top of me, when he was walking back to his seat (turns out he just miscalculated how much he had to drink – and hasn’t that happened to all of us at one time or another?)  But at the time, it was a bit scary, and we were all concerned. However just laughed it off, when he came to.  As for the woman who collapsed, it was a serious panic attack that caused her ailment.  I can’t report on what happened, except to report that she recovered, and was fine a while after her attack.  For a routine flight, there was a lot of excitement. And then as we approached Brussels it was so windy, that the descent made me never want to fly again.  Never have I been so sick on a flight from being jostled around by the elements. Honestly its a tribute to the flight crew that we made it in one piece. Once we landed, I had made up my mind to live in Brussels forever – as I was determined to never get on another plane again. From here on in, I will stick to traveling by rail or by sea.

Here lies the problem, I know no one in Brussels.  and other than the Musée Hergé, I haven’t seen much of the city. I am not quite wily enough to enter into a new city and set up camp immediately, without any contacts or planning, and I’m fairly certain that you can’t camp out with Tintin and Hergé (at least not long term, but it would be fantastic if you could).  So I decided to take a chance and take one more flight to Vienna.

And after sitting on the runway for 90 minutes due to excessive winds – a fairly unremarkable flight with Austrian airlines happened.  I do love that the women on the flight crew, where head to toe red – even their tights are red.

So now I am in Vienna, a bit jet lagged – but my friend is taking great care of me. We did a bit of exploring and I got to experience my first viennese coffee and apple strudel at Cafe Demel -which was incredible. And while I think there are reasons for places like Stabucks, a little ambiance goes a long way, when it comes to having a coffee experience.


I got a chance to say a bit of a “how do you do” to this fellow (through the glass).

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Doesn’t he look interesting and delicious?

This leg of the journey ended well- Im happy to be here. The dread is still with me – but now its changed its form a bit, and is about returning to Canada.

 

Counting Down

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I don’t travel enough to have the packing situation down. I’m a one carry-on bag kind of girl. if you have ever traveled with me, you know that I have issues when it comes to checking luggage, customs always gets involved, and its a nightmare.  I blame the fact that my last name is Bzowy. So I bypass the problem entirely, and only pack what fits into a Filson duffle bag.  I basically look like I am a construction worker (I’m fairly sure this stuff is made from carhartt work pants), but it meets the requirements of a carry on bag, and I can pack enough stuff for 2 weeks abroad.  Also, I don’t think this bag will ever wear out.  So Im happy.  No need to be stylish – if its going in an overhead compartment anyway.

I just wish I had a cat to tell me what to pack for 2 weeks away.  Im trying to pare things down. I’d like to leave a little room in my bag to bring home some trinkets – so far that isn’t happening.

What do you always pack, but never use?  I could use some ideas on what to unpack.

*Kiki’s Delivery Service image from Pinterest.