Greetings from Cafe Central- a beautiful, typical Viennese coffeehouse in the middle of the first district of Vienna. A few years ago, an American political scientist named Robert Kagan wrote a little book called "Of Paradise and Power." His central thesis was that Europe had moved beyond being overly concerned with the Hobbesian nature of international politics and had settled rather nicely into being some sort of post-historical "paradise." Of course, this was only possible because the United States was acting as the world's policeman, projecting its power all over the place so Europe didn't have to.
Well, that was all before a minor bump in the road (see catastrophes, Iraq) and now's not the time to debate systemic changes in the post-Westphalian, post-9/11international system. Suffice it to say, a day in my idea of paradise would be spent much like the current one. I've now been at Cafe Central for over three hours, and have dined langouriously on Gulaschsuppe and a Viennese specialty called Kaiserschmarn (sort of like french toast with plums) while drinking coffee and an Austrian beverage called Almdudler. I've been writing postcards to friends and family in the USA and have been corresponding with friends old and new (especially one particularly awesome new friend...:) via Couch Surfing (more on that in another post) and Facebook. Along the way, I've been studying Swedish, German, and English vocabulary and reading select articles from the New York Times and the Economist. And listening to my Ipod and making liberal use of the free wireless internet access here. Earlier I was even sitting outside in some unexpected vernal sunshine, though about an hour or so ago I moved inside to recharge my laptop and avail myself of the impending piano concert.
A little later on, I'll be moving into my new apartment- also in the first district next to the university- lifting and running at the gym, continuing my memoir of hiking the length of the USA, and meeting with friends with the objective of inflicting utter terror on the Vienna Pub Quiz scene.
It's at times such as these that I really regret my decision to forego law school or the ninety hour work weeks on Wall Street. Sigh.