Happy Friday!

We're trying to keep things upbeat over here, even though the sad truth is that this weekend is the weekend when I leave Vienna (but only for 10 days this time!), on Sunday morning, to be exact. So we'll be having as much fun as possible for the next 2 days. Tonight we're celebrating our Fairy Godmother's birthday. Tomorrow, we'll head back to the Naschmarkt for breakfast (yum!), and we're contemplating taking a hydrofoil down the Danube to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. We are jet-setters. What are you up to, lovely readers?

Besides clicking on these links, that is:

Currently providing me with a laugh out loud moment every single day: Catalog Living. Enjoy.

This is the bike I would like to ride around Vienna. Of course, it costs approximately 1 million dollars. I have expensive tastes.

I'm planning to make this some time very soon. But first, we're trying Kaiserschmarrn in a bag. I heart Dr. Oetker.

Jan Benzel, an editor at the Times who's just about to move to Paris, is using her last few weeks in NYC to try all the things she's never done and writing about it here. Most recently, she wrote about the Shake Shack, which I will definitely be visiting next week. I'm suggestible like that.

We're talking about honeymooning in Scandinavia next summer. I'm campaigning to do this. Like I said before about the expensive tastes.

Hope your weekend is filled with fresh berries, bike rides, and sunshine! xoxo LMB

Lofty goals

I don't know if you've noticed, but I added a few new items to the Bossy List this summer, so that it's now 103 items long. And actually, now that I'm over here in Europe, the list might need to expand more. I want to cruise through the Norwegian fjords! And stay in an Ice Hotel! And climb around on Greek ruins! And gawk at celebrities in Cannes! And sing "The Hills are Alive" on the top of an Alp! And drink vodka in Moscow while wearing a furry hat! And that doesn't even include all the things I want to do right here in Vienna. Who knows, maybe I'll throw the 10-year deadline out the window and turn this thing into a Life List instead.

But for the meantime, let's continue on as if we're still aiming for April 22, 2018, shall we? I'm currently beginning to tackle #103: Eat a meal in every country in Europe. People, I don't know if you knew this, but there are 45 countries in Europe (50 by some counts, but the list I like has 45, so there.)? I've got a lot of eating to do. But I get incredibly excited just thinking about planning trips to exotic locations like Cyprus, and Portugal, and Moldova.

I've arbitrarily decided that airport meals don't count, which is too bad, since I'll be visiting 2 Swiss airports in the next 2 weeks. Oh, well. The fondue will have to wait. So far, I've eaten in 2 countries (because I'm starting now, rather than counting meals I've eaten in the past 28 years since I started traveling internationally).

Austria (obvs). Many meals have already been consumed here, but I'm choosing the one at the Wurst stand behind the Staatsoper. So delicious. In other news, since we arrived I have become mildly obsessed with mustard. You would, too.

Czech Republic. I was going to order a roast suckling pig on a spit, just so I could take an awesome picture of it and post it here, but instead our best meal in Prague ended up being Italian food. Go figure. This restaurant opened exactly 12 days before we went there. I saw it sitting majestically right on the river as we trammed it over a bridge, and I fell in love with it even before reading the brilliant reviews (and the very affordable prices). So we forewent the meat and potatoes for a night and instead sat on the deck of the restaurant, eating Italian food and watching the sun go down over Prague Castle. Not a bad way to spend an evening.

Pictures, as ever, by CameraMan

At the bus stop

She's doing all the talking, and she's not talking much. He's giving nothing away. There's an air of desperation in the way she leans into him, pleading. He stands poker-faced with his arms crossed. She steps in and starts to put his arms around his waist, one last attempt. In an immediate, instinctual reaction, he blocks her arms with his hands, preserving the distance between them.

And she's off. She's walking away from him fast, her face dissolving into tears as soon as her back is turned. She keeps her head up, though, and she covers with a hair toss when her hand comes up to wipe her eyes. She makes it halfway down the street before she turns to see if he's following her.

But he's not. He hasn't moved a muscle since she left him at the bus stop. He's standing poker-faced with his arms crossed, giving nothing away.

If I'd been driving, I wouldn't have seen it, but I wasn't, so I did.

Weekend in Vienna

Surely there's no better place to sip wine and nibble schnitzel on a Friday night than the Weingut am Reisenberg. Seated high above Vienna, it takes a subway, a bus, and an uphill climb of 300 meters (whatever that means—we're too busy learning German to learn the metric system, too) to get to your table, which just means you'll feel you deserve every bite of Rösti you devour. Austrians sit around casual picnic tables with friends or strangers. Sounds of laughter fill the air as the sun sets over the city. The waiter speaks with an unintelligible Viennese accent, but it turns out all he's asking is whether you like your food. Ja! Es hat sehr gut geschmeckt! A dog wanders over from a neighboring table, and all of a sudden you're making friends and getting recommendations for where to live. You'll probably drink too much wine, just so you can prolong the night, gazing over this incredible town that already feels like home. Then you'll stumble down the hill to the bus stop, laughing all the way, and kiss in the street like teenagers.


And why would you spend a Saturday morning anywhere else but the Naschmarkt? Already bursting with produce and international flavors on weekdays, on Saturdays the market explodes with stands selling everything you can think of. Also with tourists. Why not sit for a while and eat breakfast? No need for a restaurant recommendation—just wander down the aisles until you see plates full of delicious things. It shouldn't take long, and in the meantime you can gawk at people eating sushi and/or drinking beer at 10am. Then you'll sit at high stools, eating something revelatory involving feta and the freshest eggs you've eaten, people watching, and trying to figure out the difference between a mélange and a cappuccino. Once you're full of breakfast, you can wander through the market without wanting to buy up every gram of hummus, giant ravioli, and cheese...almost.


And certainly there's no better way to explore the city on a sunny afternoon in August than by bicycle. You can walk down the hill from your apartment to the closest CityBike station, and after a quick swipe of your credit card (even an American one!) you'll have a bike, and the city is yours! Whip down dozens of paths and lanes designated just for you, the Viennese cyclist, merrily ringing your bell at the pedestrians dawdling in the bike lane. You'll find your way to the Danube Canal (Donaukanal), where you'll ride right next to the river, past boats, past little fake beaches complete with sand and lounge chairs and tropical cocktails, past locals with fishing poles and hoodlums with spray paint. One quick hill to get you to street level, and you can find the Ringstrasse, planning picnics in every park and pilgrimages to every ancient building.


These days, these weeks, these precious few moments, these firsts, you know that these are the ones that will stay with you forever, once you've moved away and moved on. So you'll hold them fast, cramming them full but finding room to breathe. And you'll happily end your weekend curled up in bed with your love, watching a classic and surrendering to sleep accompanied by the comfortable sound of his laughter.

Postcard from Prague

We went to Prague for the weekend. Why? Because we're hip Europeans. Obvs.

And the moral of the story is... I will climb almost any number of stairs for a great panoramic view (or, as they say in Czech translated into English, panoramatic). This time, 287. Worth it.

That's my handsome fiancé. In Prague. On vacation. Boy, I love our life.

I also love me a gothic cathedral.

Please. Like I was going to pass a giant baby statue and NOT climb on it to have my picture taken. Have we met?

The real reason we went to Prague. I'm just saying.

Back to school

You know those movies where an adult gets to go back and relive high school? Either their teenage years were terrible (à la Never Been Kissed), or their adult years are terrible (à la 17 Again); either way, they go back to high school looking for a do-over. Along the way, they generally make a fool of themselves, become super popular, and learn some valuable lessons.

I am currently living one of those movies, and as of today I have definitely not moved beyond the "make a fool of yourself" stage. I started German class Monday. I am by FAR the oldest person in my class. I don't know exactly the age of the other students (from now on I'll refer to them as "the other kids"), but to give you a rough idea I will tell you that a) the boy next to me is currently, ACTIVELY going through his voice change; and b) another boy is wearing braces (there's only one, not because he's younger than the other kids, but because he's the only American). Much as it was in high school, most of the kids are clearly there only because somebody is making them, so there's a lot of scrambling to finish last night's homework in the five minutes before class starts, snickering at the teacher behind her back, and other assorted tomfoolery. I feel old.

My back to school movie is not going as well as I might hope. I'm not one of those people who long for their high school years, reminiscing about their popularity or their dress size or their innocence. Frankly, my life has only changed for the better since I graduated. But the one thing I definitely had going for me as an awkward teenager? I was good at school. I was no goody two-shoes Hermione look-alike (well, not EXACTLY), but I did well, and teachers liked me. None of this holds true in German class. In fact, I think it's safe to say that I am worse at German than any of the other kids. Even the one who's just now going through puberty. I'm soldiering through, spending hours on my Hausaufgaben and concentrating extra hard in class, but it's embarrassing. Of course, it's only the 3rd day—I'm holding out hope that I'll make some kind of breakthrough.

Also that some really stupid old ladies join the class next week.

Wiener Wohnung

Way back in February, when CameraMan had just been offered the Vienna job and we were still keeping up the fiction that there might be another option besides taking it, he had drinks with a tenor friend of ours. When CM (in strictest confidence, of course) told our friend about the opportunity, his first reaction was to tell CM he had to take it (as everybody did), and his second reaction was, Oh, you know my wife (one of our favorite sopranos) keeps an apartment in Vienna, and sometimes she sublets it.

Fast forward to now, and we're settling in nicely to her beautiful apartment, which is fully furnished and cat-friendly. The location is perfection: a couple blocks off the best shopping street in town, and an easy 15-20 minute walk from the opera house, our German class, and the IKEA bus (yes, that's a real thing). Best of all, we didn't ever have to stress about finding an apartment, or find a realtor who spoke English, or any of those other annoying things most expats have to deal with. Like so many things about this opportunity and this move, it seems completely serendipitous that we were able to stumble into the perfect living situation.

We thought it might be fun to make a little video showing you our apartment. We're still learning how to do this—cut us some slack. And whatever you do, be kind and don't count how many times I use the word "awesome" in 5 minutes. Embarrassing.

Das Geheimnis

The German Wort of the day is Geheimnis, meaning secret. Its gender is neuter (das Geheimnis), because generally men and women are both equally secretive and sneaky. The story I'm about to relay, however, is a story of the sneakiness of men, specifically one man, named CameraMan.

A couple weeks ago, CM mentioned casually that he thought we should plan a nice dinner out once we got to Vienna, to celebrate the journey and reward ourselves for all the work that went into moving. He would research restaurants and we would dress up and have a night on the town, and did I think that might be fun? As it so happens, dressing up and going out to dinner with CM is pretty much my favorite way to spend a Saturday night, especially when I'm not in charge of deciding where we go. I told him I was excited that he was taking me on a romantic date, and he said, "Well, it's a date. I didn't say it would be romantic." The evening was henceforth referred to (by me, at least) as our "nonromantic date."

We spent Saturday running endless errands (knowing that all the stores would be closed Sunday). We got home from all of that, I blogged, we chatted briefly with our parents on Skype, and then we primped for our nonromantic date. CM was making this big Geheimnis of where we were having dinner, which I thought was kind of ridiculous; I had never eaten a fancy dinner in Vienna, so why would I care where we were going? I brattily informed him that he could keep it from me all he wanted, but of course I would know at least what neighborhood we were going to when he told our cab driver the address.

Dressed to the nines (I had on my latest opening night dress and my hot pink Barbie shoes, and he was wearing a suit!), we took this picture before going out. (CM looks kind of freaked out, doesn't he? But I didn't notice that at the time.)

And here's where he got really sneaky. He wrote down the address on a slip of paper, and when we got in the cab, he handed it to the driver and told him in perfect German that we were going to this address, but it was a Geheimnis for his girlfriend. The cab driver got a big kick out of this and promised not to say anything.

We drove through Vienna for a while admiring the incredible architecture that fills every neighborhood I've seen, and then we arrived at the Prater, which is an amusement park where nobody was dressed like us. I, of course, assumed that there must be a nice restaurant hidden somewhere inside. And I was right…sort of.

Okay, here's where sneaky turns into the most romantic thing EVER. One of the most famous landmarks in Vienna is the Riesenrad (it amuses me greatly that everywhere it gets translated into English they write GIANT FERRIS WHEEL). I've been on there before, with The Best Friend. You buy a ticket, stand in line, and slowly ride around once in a large enclosed cabin with about 10 or 12 other people, all jostling to look out the windows at the gorgeous view of the Prater and all of Vienna. It's nice.

Turns out, there's another way to ride the Riesenrad, which is in a private cabin for 2, over 2+ hours, while eating a delicious 3-course meal (with champagne before and coffee/hot chocolate after). And that's what we did.

Here's a view of our cabin:

Each course was served while our cabin was stopped at the bottom of the wheel, so during the actual rotations we were alone in there. We started with champagne, and almost as soon as the cabin began to move we were up and out of our chairs, staring out the windows, pinching ourselves at our good fortune.

We were right at the top when he got down on one knee.

Sneaky bastard.

I've pretty much been crying from happiness ever since.

In which we switch continents

Here I am, coming to you live from Wien! So much has happened, it feels like a year has passed since we left the Trap Wednesday afternoon. We're close to being settled into our beautiful apartment (pictures or maybe video(!) to come), and we've mostly beaten the jet lag (we don't have an awake in the middle of the night problem, but we I still have an asleep in the middle of the day problem). We've already been very productive: CM is officially a resident, he has a bank account, and he's discovered his visa application was incomplete (wah wah). We've eaten Eis every day and sipped Kaffee in cafés. We've shopped in 2 different grocery stores, and I think we're ready to move into one of them. We're attempting to speak German whenever possible—it's going pretty well so far, but we're not getting cocky just yet.

One more post about the Bossy Cat and I think this blog will be veering dangerously into Mommyblog territory, so I promise that this will be it for at least a little while, but I know you want to hear how she did on the transatlantic crossing, right? Yeah, I thought so.

We had grand plans to sedate her, after the craziness at the vet, but by the time we got close to leaving, she was so freaked out that she had absolutely no interest in eating the wet food with the pill crushed up in it. After much coaxing, she ate about half of it, and then she actually got into her carrier by herself, which all boded well for the trip, I thought. We were a little worried because we'd seen online that our flight to Copenhagen was delayed 2 hours—we were going to be cutting it extremely close to make our connection to Vienna. We got to Dulles with 5 suitcases, 2 bags, and a frightened cat, gladly paid for Skycap service, and then stood in a long ridiculous line. On domestic flights, people know what they're doing—lines run smoothly, people have already checked in online, everyone has their ID—it's civilized. I don't know why, but it's always mayhem in the international terminal. Nobody knows what line they're supposed to be in, 9 family members have come to see them off and insist on standing in line with the people traveling, people are repacking their giant suitcases in the middle of the floor…it's chaos.

By the time we got to the front of the line, my heart was pounding in my throat and I was having the kind of anxiety I've rarely experienced since I stopped singing. I was SO nervous about the cat. What if we hadn't gotten the right documentation? What if she leaped out of my arms as I walked her through security? What if they wouldn't let her into Austria, or there was a problem in Copenhagen? I was a wreck. But the minute we got to the ticket counter, everything turned around. They didn't check her papers. They didn't charge us for our seriously heavy suitcases. And best of all, they asked if we would "volunteer" to be rerouted…on a direct flight to Vienna that would arrive 4 hours earlier than our other flight. Ummm…YES.

Going through security was completely fine. Turns out, the Bossy Cat was not that interested in running through the airport, like she had been in all my nightmares. We waited tensely for about an hour, and then our names were called and we were put right on the direct flight. Oh, and to repay us for the "inconvenience" of being rerouted, they gave us 600 euros of travel vouchers. Thanks, SAS, you rock! We're already planning our Copenhagen vacation.

All was well. We were ensconced in our seats, eating snacks and drinking wine, and we had individual TVs with a choice of movies! I watched Date Night in German. Every once in a while, I would unzip the top of the BC's carrier to pet her head, and she seemed to be okay, just a little bit in shock. She was sleeping a lot with her head buried in the corner of her carrier…until she WASN'T. Half asleep in the darkened plane, I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye, and then all of a sudden she was climbing up into my lap, clearly very much awake. Apparently I had been a little lax with closing her carrier—oops.

We fed her another sedative, and this time she was so hungry that she gobbled it right up. Its only visible effect was to make her eyes weird and glassy. She stayed wide awake, and meowed pretty much constantly for the remaining 3 hours of the flight, taking 10 minute breaks every once in a while, during which we would almost fall asleep, only to be immediately awakened by more crying. It was rough.

Luckily, this (extremely long) story has a happy ending. After we landed, went through passport control (where we were asked not a single question), picked up our luggage (which had miraculously made it onto the new flight), went through customs (where I forced someone to look at our hard-won cat documentation, just for fun), took a taxi to the apartment, waited 30 minutes for the housekeeper to let us in, and climbed 2 flights of stairs with all our heavy suitcases…we were here!!! And the Bossy Cat has never been happier. She loves this apartment, she loves her Austrian cat food, she loves our bed. She is a loving, snuggly version of herself—no sign of the Devil Cat.

Actually, all 3 of us are pretty happy. It's good to be home(!).

At last it's come

The day we knew would come at last has come at last. See you on the other side. xoxo LMB

The Bossy Cat & Mr. Hyde

Okay, first of all, let's just get this out of the way…I haven't blogged in an epically long time. Plenty of time, in fact, for all loyal readers to either find a suitable LMB replacement or just lie around pining for a post. Well, pine no longer (and COME BACK!!), for I have returned. The thing is (and isn't this always the way?), just as my life was getting really blogworthy, I had absolutely no time to blog. It's been an exciting couple of weeks. We opened our incredible show (I am planning more on this in the future, but in the meantime, do read our kick-ass review in the Times. I'm proud.) Also, the Bossy Folks came to visit me in Santa Fe, saw the show twice(!), learned the difference between red and green chile, and gawked at the gorgeous sunsets. That was fun. And then I made almost the entire drive to Houston in one long day, caught up with friends, and tried not to die from the fatal combination of heat AND humidity. Yesterday I flew back to DC and reunited with CameraMan, and that pretty much brings us to the here and now. Phew.

The here and now is a wild and crazy place, I have to tell you. We are in full on FREAK OUT PANIC mode, all because we are leaving WEDNESDAY. For VIENNA. I'm sorry, but we are in an all caps world right now, people. Also in a multiple exclamation points world. !!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm feeling it, CM is most definitely feeling it, and although it wasn't immediately clear to the naked eye, evidently Bossy Cat is feeling it too. How do I know? Because during a routine check of her vital signs at the vet's office this morning, she transformed into what can only be described as a Devil Cat. What? you ask incredulously. How is that possible? This Bossy Cat? Umm…YES. That sweet beautiful face is hiding a monstrous demon who has lain dormant for 4 long years, just waiting for the right moment to emerge and scare the sh*t out of her mother. It started with hissing, moved on to growling, followed by unholy banshee screaming and the grand finale of biting me hard on the hand. After muttering "She frickin' hates me" and calling in an assistant who shall henceforth be known as the Cat Whisperer, the vet wrapped up the examination as quickly as possible. Was it my imagination, or did he seem relieved, even EAGER to sign the documentation allowing Bossy Cat to leave the country? Also, he gave us extra cat tranquilizers, "just in case."

On the bright side, having to speak German on a daily basis is no longer the most stressful thing about this move.


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