What a Friday. It was one of those days that doesn’t have a category, but if it did, it would be something like “All Over The Place” or “Tilt-A-Whirl”.
The allergens here haven’t let up much on me, so even though I take my antihistamines, I wake up with a pretty, puffy face. So, naturally, my eyes want to stay shut since everything’s just a teeny tiny bit swollen. After I got myself up and going today, the swelling went down a bit, and once I’d talked to Jesus, had some bread and yogurt and coffee for breakfast, and put my clothes on, I felt ready for the day.
I carried my laptop with me in my backpack, which often feels like I have a papoose or a small furry animal breathing heavily on me since it adds so much heat. So, I arrived to print my paper with my friend Maggie rather sweaty since the day was already pretty warm. We printed off our papers for our history class and headed over.
Our final exam is coming up, and since this particular professor has a tendency to wax eloquent about nothing that seems like exam material and tends to be rather scattered in his lectures (with the guise of being a calm, organized, collected older man), I had emailed him the day before, indicating that I wasn’t sure what to expect on the exam based on what we talked about in class.
So he begins class saying that some of us seem to be afraid of the exam. Afraid? Who’s afraid? I just wanna know what the heck is going on. This class is 75% self-taught. Heck yeah, it is. You pick a monograph and write a short paper and do the readings – these texts are invaluable. Yeah, they would be if we had a skeleton of knowledge to stick them on. There’s no context, MAN.
I felt reprimanded and completely justified at the same time. The class was actually a bit more coherent than normal, and afterwards, as per our Friday tradition, my friends and I got pizza.
I was sleepy in my next class and slightly annoyed at the way my professor seems to see Americans, but the annoyance might have been due to my sleepiness.
On my way home, I just kept telling Jesus, I feel like I can’t connect today. It’s too much work to bridge the culture gap. It’s too hard to communicate. I don’t like Austrians. Just kidding. I love Austrians. I love Austria, but it’s so exhausting to constantly be filtering meaning in communication. Then, what should happen but that I would run into a fellow exchange student from my class. We had a nice little chat as we walked the same way, and as we parted, I felt buoyed.
I took the tram (an unusual happenstance) to an English-speaking gathering of believers and met some nice Germans en route who needed directions. I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to not be the one needing directions for once.
The gathering was lovely, and I decided that since it was such a nice night, I would walk home (though it’s like a 35-40 minute walk) and soak up all the Graziness. (not a real word… forgive me)
I’m always slightly trepidatious when walking past groups or pairs of men, just because they so often give me a you-are-an-object or a you-female-must-gawk-and-make-you-feel-awkward look. It’s not a compliment. It’s unsettling.
So, I’m walking alone, on a well-populated and well-lit street (don’t be worried, Mom and Dad). There’s a guy in my way, and he says “Entshuldigung.” (trans: excuse me) I don’t intend to stop because I’m alone and don’t want to talk to him, but he’s in my way, so I slow. “Eine Frage” (a question), he says, waving his pack of cigarettes in the air.
Then, here’s what made my blood boil.
Jerkface (I would use stronger words, but I don’t use those words) points to the lingerie store next to me and asks me if I would wear the mannequin’s outfit for him.
I wish I had punched him somewhere that he would have understood my response. I know violence isn’t the answer, but I’m still mad as I type this. Instead, I answered a calm but firm, “Nope” without making eye contact and continued to walk.
As I walk away, he says, “Why no?”
Ohhhhhhh. You will never have a fulfilling relationship with a woman, ever. And I should pity you for the erroneous image you have of women. I should pray that Jesus will touch your life and change your heart. But I really just wanna punch you and tell you that I’m not a piece of meat. Not eye candy. Not a thing. And I don’t owe you, so you have no right to heckle me.
Okay, rant over.
Because the story does end on a happy note.
Remember that group of Germans I met on the tram? Well, since I chose to walk home, I was about 15 minutes away, at a stoplight, when I thought I saw them.
Yep, it was them. Turns out they weren’t sure how to get back to their hotel. And I got to walk them back since it was right by my dorm. I had a lovely conversation with the one who spoke English, and it redeemed the night for me.
Quite a mixed bag of a day, wouldn’t you say?