I live in Austria. It’s this little country in Europe, which is a different continent from North America.
The country is about the size of Illinois, which is actually where I’m from. Austria’s largest city is Vienna, with a population of about 2 million people. This is where I live with my wife, daughter, and two sons.
People ask about the weather. It’s like the Midwest, except not so shitty cold in the winter and not so dripping hot in the summer. Average number of sunny days November-February: 0.12. The rest of the year is fine. It’s good for growing grapes.
The official language is German, with pockets of Croatian, Hungarian, and Slovenian. It’s 90% Catholic or so, with most people not attending church. The other 10% are atheists and Muslims, made up chiefly of a sizable migrant worker population from Turkey.
Vienna is home to the United Nations and OPEC. One of my neighbors works there. He says don’t fucking ask him about oil prices.
There are lots of good things coming out of Austria today, such as wine, food, ski resorts and health spas, so if you come here, try to ignore the fact that it was part of the Third Reich about sixty years ago. That will score you some points.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is from Austria. So was Falco and Mozart. Beethoven was not, although he did live here for many years. Hitler was from Austria as well, but don’t tell anyone about it. They prefer to have the unknowing think that he was from Bavaria.
People always ask me what it’s like living in Austria, and to be honest, I haven’t the faintest.
Seriously, I never know how to answer that.
‘It’s European. Vienna is a majestic, beautiful city that’s compact at the same time, so you can see pretty much everything in a few hours of walking.’
‘It’s socialist, which means that you can’t fall through the cracks. Taxes are high, but so is the standard of living, and poverty as people might know it in the United States is virtually nonexistent.’
‘The wine is awesome. The beer is awesome. Schnitzel is basically just fried pork, but fried pork of any sort is awesome, too.’
‘Public urination is legal. So is prostitution.’
‘It’s so fucking on the down-low that you can have beer at lunch and go back to work and no one cares. In certain settings, it’s expected.’
Really. I used to live in Chicago, and I never knew what to say when people asked me what it was like to live there.
So Austria kicks ass. I first learned to love it, then to hate it, then to really fucking hate it, and now we have declared a truce. You will find tatters of that white flag pasted all over this site.
Feel free to ask me about it. I’m much better at answering simple, direct questions.