Gwen Dormandy - Baden, Austria

Destination: Baden, Austria
Sponsor Club: West Jacksonville
School: Douglas Anderson School of Arts
Read Gwen's Journal - 1/09/04

October 12, 2003

Am involved, for those who don't know, in my first theater show. Show went up this past weekend. Was received v. well. Show was v. time consuming. Mon thru Thurs from 1 to 5 or 6ish were my rehearsals for a month. It's not normal theater, its in the new experimental theater movement. It's weird, but kinda cool. Like it, and apparently am good at it (who knew? Never really thought was that good of an actress, though with everyone here telling me I'm v. good....). Whee. Hehehe... who said creative writing wouldn't come in handy? Basically, w are taking poems from Jandel (an oscure german poet who plays with sounds) and putting together movement pieces to his poems, or based off of that idea. I play a researcher trying to help fix a society of Primates. It's very weird and I don't think I can explain it very well. It was very very weird. Will leave it this way: one of the scenes I am in is me explaining to a primate what an Eulen (owl) is through gestures, and somehow it turns into Owls eat chickens.. It's v. comical, though The show has several underlying themes that have come about throughout the making of it. See, there's no script, no single concept that runs the show together when you start. You are just told to go on stage and 'do something' so, basically it's a lot of improv (thank you thieves' guilde) that then gets turned into a story.

Part of role as the researcher Is to randomly give a monologue, explaining some concept through gestures. Have 3 monologues, the first, is to describe what 'parallel' is, The second is to describe what Closeness is, and the third and most difficult is: 'The concept of society as a masquerade' and as can tell, this one is v. difficult to describe through gestures alone. However, this monologue is favorite so far, because am trying to get the Primates to make different masks for different emotions and don't want to cooperate and steal my hat and things. It's v. cool. If record the show, will get a copy to take home with so everyone can see it.

Am making losts of friends, well.. not many in school, but when did ever have a lot of friends who were in school with self in self's grade? These kids are 16, so... it's kinda hard to make friends with them, as most of friends back in FL are older than self, but am making the effort. But Tessi, Allicia, Jenny and Stefan are v. cool. Usually hang w-them, annie from canada, or Christoph- nice guy who grad. all ready. Is 20, has car, is v. nice and has cool friends. Also hang with Natalie from time to time (theresa's friend. 19. v. cool.) Max is fun too. w- friends from school, we hang in cafes after school (cool little eurpoean cafes. Fav. is in Mvdling, it has funky furniture and modern revamps of the great art works. v. cool! ! With Chris, we go to different pool halls and cafes in other towns (the above cafe is one chris and self frequent) also hang out with mike and julie with him. V. cool. Natalie is my clubbing partner! Whee!!!!! Fun fun fun!!! It's funny to watch Europeans dance. Dance like such white people. Seriously, 90% have no rhythm at all! Hehehe. Thanks to Brenda teaching self to dance long time ago in states, am one of the best dancers at the club. The bouncers let self in free (all ready they knew nat, and now the melker keller ones know me, working on Dance Palace next) Max, Annie, Sabine and self usually go to the park and hang out, or sometimes will go to movies.

Is v. cold!!! Was hailing other day, and was at 0°C (32°F) last week. Brr!! Seriously, something is wrong when it's that cold the 1st week in October. Floridian behind is freezing.

Never complain about gas prices!!! Glad now that don't drive far too expensive. is 8.75 for cheap kind

Hrmm... anything else?... school is v. easy. Most classes are discussion, which don't understand yet, so usually sit in the back and work on German. English teacher likes self a lot, nat. Doing unit on America, and watched Bowling for Columbine. Now, expected questions about Schwarzanegger (who won, by the way. Did you hear?? Did, about a million times every hour) and Bush, etc, but never, 'You are American. How many guns do you have??' Stunned. Have no guns, actually hate them. Give no chances, hold no honour, etc. Never thought that this would happen. Ppl here usually think it's cool that am American, but is v. weird with this respect. All think am violent. ! Me?? Would self ever do anything like that...? (thinks of Thieves' Guilde and swinging swords around) but that was just stage combat!!! Most of the time... ^.^

erm... Annie and self and Krystyn are talking about starting a modern cafe like the ones here in Boston when go back and through college. Am v. good at numbers and management, Krystyn is excellent cook and baker (taking gourmet cooking classes starting in Jan) and Annie has good design instincts and advertisement things. Who knows? Could happen. Would be cool if did. Thinking a modern cafe w funky lights and comfy-cool furniture with neat tables. Postcards from Europe all over the walls, and a few of Krystyn's art works. Kinda like feul, only better. And have started adding up start costs, and have been taking inventory in stores for different lamps, plate styles, etc. and have looked up average costs to get a restaurant space in Boston. So far, starting costs figuring about 25 grand, but am cautious and would like to have an additional 5 grand added to that cost, for just in case. And yes dad- added insurance to! that cost, and furniture, and lamps, electricity water, food costs etc. Fun to plan even if doesn't happen. Who knows? Maybe will, but then, is about fourth time since January have changed career. Any ideas?

Have actually been getting bit homesick. Didn't think would but is hitting self hard. Miss friends, car, parents, job, cats, Vera's dog, life. Is hard. Didn't think would get homesick, but am. Contrary to most people, feel much better after talking to friends and things b-c reminds self that they are all remember and still wait for self to come home. makes less homesick after hearing from them.

ON language: Understand about 75% of what people say aber, ich kann nicht sprechen sehr gut. People have a hard time understanding self b-c I speak American accent, (and self's english dont understand either) not british. Have spoken british accent with random ppl so they understand self better, and have started talking slower than usual. And have started speaking britain english instead of american so ppl understand self. Help them with english and help self with german. Funny story: was in the club the other night and was dancing, but got hot so stopped and sat down. Friend asked why, and self said, 'Ich bin heiss' which thought meant, I am hot, (heiss meaning hot) but no. apparently, if are talking about temperature you say mir ist heiss (me is hot) because if you say ich bin hei_ it means you are horny. Couldn't figure out why she was laughing so hard until she told me. Was amused.

Well, I suppose I will leave you with this.

More as it comes


January 9

Ok ok ok... I can no longer ignore the demands of my adoring public. I will use a bit of my valuable time and post an update for your ever-eager clutches. Ok, so it's not an autograph, but you can print it out and pretend.



Do you have your inner moo? I do. If not, I know where you can buy some. No? How about a free sample? Are you sure?? It's free! Your life will change with the inner Moo!!

I have my inner moo. I found it while hiking in Tauplitz (yes, me... hiking and getting sweaty and dirty and gross. When Austrians say, let's go for a short hike, they mean a 20 hour plunge into the wilderness to enjoy scenery. Thank the Gods that there aren't mosquitoes here!) Two of my best friends among the exchange students Heba (aus Colorado) and Margaret (from the Great white Tundra known as Canada) and I elected to go for the really long walk around instead of climbing a mountain. We had a lot of fun laughing and joking around, and had some great apple juice in a little house in the middle of the wilderness. It is a humbling thing, to stand in the middle of nowhere on a large rock and realize that without you, this will endure. A quiet comfort to those who have gone through many trials, and who will go through many more. On the way back to the rustic lodge we were calling home for the weekend (where you had to pay for showers! how insane is that?? Bah! I am a poor exchange student, and they put sinks in each room. paying to shower when you can sponge bath and wash your hair in the sink. This is how I learn to adapt >besides, I heard the water was beyond freezin. hahaha to those that paid! my sink was warm and refreshing. and free!!!> ^.^) We got lost. Horrendously. Huzzah. But, reaching within our inner souls, we were able to pull forth the Order of the Cow, and we realized our savior had come. on the bottom of Margaret's shoe, and later on her pants when she slipped. It was hard (and smelly!) work, but by trusting to our inner moo, we were able to forge a path back. Now, don't you wish you had your inner moo??

SNOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW is everywhere! Falling outside right now as I write this. There is already about 3 feet on the ground, and more falling on the sky. It's sooo beautiful. I have used 2 rolls of film on nothing but snow. ^.^ First fall was in late October, very unusual say the Austrians. I'll say! In October, I am still wearing sleeveless shirts and sandals!

November warmed up a bit, and there was no more snow until after Christmas. v . v But that gave me an opportunity to buy a winter coat. A real one. Insane

But November was not entirely uneventful. I took Ball Room Dancing classes. Huzzah! Everyone knows how to dance here (except my host brother. he adamantly refuses.) I know how to do Langsam Waltz (English) Weinese waltz (Viennese waltz, or fast waltz), Fox trot, Boogie, Samba (ewww...) Rumba (Roman makes me lead for this dance cause he can't do the counts) and Tango. huzzah! (Which Is good, because I attend the first of the Balls today <yes, realllllll Balls! weeeee!! I am going to three. only in Austria can you buy your ball gown for cheaper then a sweater... my dress was 40 euros, and thick sweaters run from 35 to 50 euros. crazy...>).

We celebrated Thanksgiving too! How wonderful is my host family?? They are soo cool ^.^ I hope Teresa <the one you all know in FL> knows how cool her family is and how wonderful of people they all are. Annie aus Canada and I cooked the whole meal ourselves. Two turkeys (big tom and little Clyde), gravy (made by yours truly!), broccoli, mashed potatoes, Candied yams (the most, err... 'interesting' dish), fruit salad (done in the Austrian fashion with Rum added...), salad, and apple pie ala mode. (Now, this was most interesting to make... They don't exactly have pie tins in Austria... so we improvised and made pie in the lid of a pot. pictures below). It was ever so much fun!

in Austria, they have thing called Krampos, which is like a devil who comes around to scare all the little children into behaving. They have a parade where young men dress up in scary costumes and go through town, flogging people they think have been evil. Strange.

For my Christmas, I went with my host father to church to get some fire from the flame that was lit in the church of Bethlehem. (Did you know that every Christmas eve <which is when Austrians celebrate Christmas> they light the fires in the church in Bethlehem and take the fires in planes to every church in Old Europe?) My host mom was decorating downstairs and I wasn't allowed to see the room until she finished. then we went through the house with incense and they did a chant praying to God to keep evil out of the house (which was cool). We went into the living and dining rooms where my host mother had decorated the Christmas tree very beautifully. With lit candles and sparklers. just sat there praying the house wouldn't catch on fire. It didn't, fortunately, and the sparklers wore themselves out with resigned dignity that they could do no harm. Then we opened presents. I got a hematite bracelet, an Vsterreich jacket and candy. oh and some lotion, which is always a good thing in this freezing country! how wonderful is my host family? (as I have said before and will say again).

I went to Altausse for a week following Christmas. Altausse is a town that's so small, it wouldn't be allowed in CanAmerica. Seriously. We walked across town to the grocery store, and it was about 10 minutes. All the way Across town. But! There was snow a meter deep! and it kept snowing the whole time we were there, so that when we left, there was much more than a meter. it was cooooooooooooool!!!! v. cool. v. cold! we made a snow man who was taller than me by about 4 or 5 inches!!! There are pictures of me sitting on his head (not pictured here). And I also tried snowboarding for the first time. ,., NOT my favorite activity... I fell down for about 5 and a half hours.... couldn't even go up the lift, never mind making it down the mountain. not even up the lift...

Now I must dash, my adoring fans. Tears are not becoming on your face, do not shed them when I take leave of you. Fear not, When I stop being busy and lazy, I will write again. Until then,