What now feels like a gazillion and a a half years ago, I gave birth to a baby girl in Vienna, Austria. (That’s her about to fall out of the sandpit.)
A few weeks ago, the lovely and brilliant writers/podcasters Edan Lepucki and Amelia Morris interviewed me about the joys and travails of having a baby abroad for their fantastic podcast, Mom Rage. We talked about everything from figuring out how to find a doctor in a foreign country, to the fantastic maternity leave policies, to the Austrians’ very entrenched ideas about motherhood. It was a total joy to chat with them. You can listen here. (Interview starts around 29:00, but do listen to it all; their banter at the beginning is always one of my favorite parts.)
If you listen along and think, I must move to Vienna and have a baby! (I do recommend it), here are a few essays I’ve written on the subject (not sure whether they will convince or dissuade you, but anyway, you decide):
Here’s something no one tells you before you move to Los Angeles: you will no longer need clothing.
Let me rephrase: you will no longer need real clothing. When I moved to L.A. two years ago I was shocked to discover that grown women wore leggings everywhere — not just to and from yoga or the gym, or even just to walk their dogs, but IRL, as they say: to preschool drop off and pick-up; to the grocery store; to casual weekend gatherings; to coffee shops and restaurants. And I’m not talking about leggings with long blouses and knee-high leather boots. I’m talking about leggings as pants. With, like, a T-shirt and flip-flops.
I wrote about lipstick for a series in The Cut called “Sealed with a Kiss.” So delightful in these dark times! Read on here.
And! I wrote about getting up at the crack of dawn to have some time for myself (for crying out loud!). (It will shock no one to learn that since I published this, my kid’s been waking up much earlier. #Momfail.) This one was for Healthline.
Every morning for the last six years, I’ve woken up in an apartment that isn’t my own. I roll out of a bed I didn’t purchase, pour coffee into whatever mug I find in the kitchen, and stare out on to walls adorned with art that makes me cringe.
Before I met my husband, I found this kind of life absolutely unthinkable.
I had a baby in Europe (a million and a half years ago)! I finally wrote about it all for The Cut. Woohoooooooooooooooo! (Also now you can see how many tabs I regularly keep open. Also how retro my baby was.)
I wrote a piece that I feared would offend everyone I know about life as an expat in Vienna. Luckily no one has written me hate mail who was offended has told me so! Yay!
(Life as an expat: Lots of dirty baby clothes. No dryer.)
When my husband and I moved to Vienna, Austria, two years ago, we were frequently set up on friend dates. This is par for the course for a new expat — someone hears that you’ve moved to some faraway city, and their coworker’s cat’s former owner’s cousin always knows someone who — can you believe it? — just happens to be your neighbor. No matter how outlandish the setup — they were born-again Christians or Hassidic Jews, they were hated by the very people who’d put us in touch — we always went.
After these meetings, I would invariably turn to my husband and say: We’d never be friends with these people in real life.
Real life: this was my phrase. Not in New York, where I had lived for 12 years, or the vague back home, but in real life, as though I had skipped a track and found myself in a different, parallel universe.