All of my cohort and I just got an email from the Department of State basically telling us to mind our p's and q's on the Internets or they will take away our grants. Like, saying "Austria is challening and I am depressed" may be OK, but saying "Austrians are a bunch of Knödel-eating right-wingers who despite their right-winginess still think wine spritzers are not foofy drinks" may be offensive to Austrians, which is why I put that in scare quotes just now because I do not mean it. Well, I do mean it about the wine spritzers, but only because I myself love wine spritzers.
I realized when I accepted the grant that it would mean that I was acting as a representative of the US Department of State whether I wanted to or not (and the DoS has also advised me to say that this is NOT an official DoS communique, though if it were, don't you think the DoS would get props for being charming and hilarious?), and that that would involve some self-censorship (and this, believe it or not, is the self-censored version of what I think), but it still deprresses me, because this pathetic little blog and its tiny connection to the non-Austrian world about my travails has been, at times, all that has kept me from blubbering my way onto a plane back home–though such moments are few and far between these days, living in a new country is challenging and one of the ways I deal with that challenge is to write whatever the hell want hoping that I will be "protected by full academic and artistic freedom" like the terms of my grant say I am (though they also say in the same sentence that I have to watch what I say, which is what brings to mind the Marilyn Monster skit from the title).
Knowing that I am now Totally Being Watched By State is a major buzzkill. Luckily, if all the rumors are correct, my as of 20 Jan, my new "watcher" will be the Gentlewoman from New York who I know for a fact has better things to do than check to see if some grantee used terrible, terrible words on a blog.