Saturday, January 31, 2009

Red Room antics

Friday night was another Meet In Prague event... another at the Red Room. This one was much more sociable for me than the last and I not only ran in to quite a few people I knew (yea!! there are enough people I know here so I can run in to them on a social level!) but I even met quite a lot more!!

Tonight I went out with a friend and this guy she met at the event. He is a musician (seriously though, how many people do I know that aren't?!?) and plays in a band with the guy that was playing at the Red Room - turns out, he owns the Red Room.

This is their music video... some of you may like it, some of you may not. The band is Lo Dost.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

czech lessons...

Last week I had my first official czech lesson - not super official, like through a school, but official enough. One of my students offered to teach me some time back and I finally took him up on it. (The really nice kid who brought the apples and cider.)

He asked me to meet him at a specific metro on the outskirts of town. I figured that was near his home, convenient for him, and we'd probably go to a cafe or pub and sit for a bit and get started.


We met at the metro and he took me to his home where I met his mother, his brother, had the grand tour, and was served coffee and cookies before we ever sat down in the living room. (Upon entering a true Czech home you remove your shoes along with your coat, hat, and bag - and are offered house shoes for your visit.)

After a short bit his mother came in to check on us and let us know she was ready for us in the kitchen. We then went to the kitchen were I was served three kinds of crepes and more coffee and mineral water - she was cooking just for me and my student/teacher. Around that time his father came home, and introductions started all over again.

After eating my lesson resumed in the living room - and I can now saw that while I may not have "learned" all my numbers I can understand them much much better than I was able to before - and I can count, very very slowly.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Visa debacle

Still no resolution. The Kid is supposed to fly home this Thursday but her paperwork has been temporarily misplaced... boy is that ever a euphemism for lost!!!

I will be continuing my daily conversations with the consulate later tonight. Lucky me.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

more thoughts on stairs...

I was starting to think about how ridiculous my morning was... almost ten flights of stairs before breakfast... had ingested only maybe a cup of water... when I got to school to climb up and down and up more stairs... and arrived at the same time as the water guy.

You know what a water guy is - they have the big trucks with those 5 gallon bottles of water... same here as in the US... and probably other places too.

Anyway, he was headed in to the building with a giant trolley full of bottles. He caught the first door for me, I caught the second for him... and then I headed up the stairs to get the keys.

On the way back down I encountered him again... he no longer had the trolley, but instead was laiden down with 3 of the 5 gallon bottles... no trolley, just sheer brute force. I tried to hold the door on the landing for him, but he smiled and shook his head - he was headed up to the top floor.

I totally reconsidered my whining about the stairs. Cake.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Once again I headed to The Globe for my political celebration... and once again the place was packed!!! Every table had been reserved, there wasn't a stair to the second level that didn't have 2 people sitting on it - the tables on the balconey had people sitting under them so they could see - and the floor was packed with people standing...

I managed to swipe a stool when a woman had to leave prior to the inauguration.

It felt like I was in the middle of a revival meeting with the whooping and hollering and cheers and boos and hisses... and laughter and applause... it was awesome!!

Capped the night off with dinner with a friend and then met up with a newer friend and shared a bottle of wine and hours of stimulating conversation.

All in all, it was a great, great night!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What's the deal with the kid???

Here's the story:

I applied for our visa in June - we supplied complete information for both of us - duplicate information with a just a few things changed to personalize the forms.

I had my visa approved days before we left. The kid's was not. Not a problem - the consulate assured me it was just because her visa was dependent upon mine and as mine had been approved hers would be completed within a few weeks. Additionally, as American citizens we're allowed here for 90 days without a visa... it would definitely be issued before then!!

So, time went on - I called, wrote, and emailed the consulate for updates and their response went from being erratic to non-existent. After a long period without being able to reach a person capable of providing an answer I spoke to the consulate... this would be in November as we were approaching the end of the 90 days... He let me know that 3 months prior the Foreign Police decided they wanted more information for the kidl... and said, sorry but someone should have let me know. He also told me that after 4 months from the time the application is submitted the FP can arbitrarily deny your visa... they do that in order to keep their record of timely decisions.

GREAT!!! I'd talked to numerous people had hadn't bothered to tell me I needed to submit more info. I got the list of what they wanted and was shocked - everything they wanted they either already had or was legally impossible for me to provide. I had to talk to more and more and more people about what to do as I didn't know how to proceed.

Finally I hired an agency to help - this is their sole reason for existence... assisting expats with visa related issue.

That didn't get me very far.... we were aiming to be in the clear prior to our return at Christmas. Didn't happen. BUT we did whittle the list down to one item - another copy of her birth certificate.

I had supplied a certified copy with the application. They wanted another certified copy and another translation. Got it, did it. They wanted another certified copy with a specific endorsement - I was referred to the embassy, got it, did it. They wanted another certified copy with the apostile which can only be issued in our home state.

Time to fly home. At the airport we met the police as the kid had overstayed her 90 days. Fortunately they did not issue a stamp barring her return (which would have been legal to do as we were in the Schengen Zone and had overstayed, but they were relatively reasonable after the explanation and proof of her visa application...)

Once we hit California we went to San Francisco, got the apostile, got the translation, FedExed it all to the consulate and waited... the week after Christmas I was able to speak with someone who told me it had not been delivered.... the week after that I was able to speak with someone else who told me the other person was wrong and that it was there... and had been for nearly two weeks, sitting on someone's desk, waiting to be shipped off to Prague to be processed by the FP... I was already back in Prague by this point. Alone. The kid's flight had been rescheduled to January 14th - time enough I thought, for the paperwork to be completed and her passport returned. They told me it would take about 3 more weeks.

She is now, tentatively, scheduled to return here January 29th. This is the longest I've ever been without my kid... and quite honestly I'm less than thrilled about it... and not too pleased with the FP.... and we have to start getting ready to renew our visas as they expire in May, I believe...

another reason to always have food in the house...

that way when you fall down and get a concussion you won't starve.

i am not full of that kind of forethought and so was forced to go to the store. treacherous trip that it was, i survived and now have food for a bit.

i had to walk around the corner to catch a bus for a 2 minute ride to the store... went shopping, got in the wrong line, couldn't understand why i couldn't use my card (cash only line which is quite clearly and universally marked) forgot all my most basic czech, couldnt work the atm (bankomat here), and walked half way home with three bags of groceries before stopping to catch the bus...

clearly still not thinking well.

that is the only thing i did yesterday, and it took me until 4 pm to get it together to get out of the house.

today i feel much, much better. plenty of rest, some medication (yeah, i had to talk to the doctor, and it's confirmed i have a concussion), and some fresh food.

later i am going to get out of my house again... i hope to meet a friend for a movie or tea or something... we'll see.

Friday, January 16, 2009


it's starting to get a bit warmer over here. no, not warm, warmer. as in, it's approaching zero and instead of icy steps there spots of slush on the sidewalks.

i was slipping and sliding all day yesterday, trying to stay upright throughout my treks across town. as i approached my home i was having a mental conversation in my success in avoiding not only the black ice that still exists, but also on managine to skate through the slushy spots without falling when suddenly i fell.

not one of those - oh wow i'm falling, this is taking a lifetime on the way down sort of things, but much more my feet flew out in front of my and up over my head the instant my head smacked the ground...

that was yesterday. today i am still dizzy. even laying in bed i have a terrible headache. and my shoulder is feeling pretty poorly. i didn't go to the computer lab today. i am still here, in bed, trying to get my act together and muddle through and it's nearly 1pm. urgh.

US Airways... January 15, 2009...

Yesterday my parents were taking a nice flight from the California coast to the East Coast in advance of their journey to the inauguration... They flew US Airways.

Yesterday a US Airways flight out of New York City crashed in to the Hudson. Fortunately, and amazingly, there was only one injured person and no fatalities.

At some point in time I realized that I did not know what flight my parents were on. It wasn't as simple as calling my grandparents or another relative as I found out about the crash when it was a reasonable hour here and not over there.

I also realized that I don't think anyone in my family has my actual phone number, beyond my parents... and as they were traveling I doubt they have it on them... we speak via iChat and Skype exclusively.

There was some anxiety as I was getting news about the plane but somehow not seeing where it was headed... at some point I realized they wouldn't have been on the flight - and had it confirmed this morning through an email from my sister.

However - those moment of anxiety really reinforced for me how isolated I am from my family. Should something, god forbid, tragic happen, that I am pretty much out of the loop... and it was uncomfortable.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Retro Music Hall and Midi Lidi

So last night I went out to this concert put on by a radio station... details could be found right HERE if you're interested... and there were a number of bands playing that I really enjoyed.

Now I've been to a number of places and had a great time and have never felt the need to blog about it before... what's different?

It was the first time I ever felt truly like I was in my peer group but out of my range... culturally. It was almost all czech - for a number of reasons - czech musicians, czech songs, czech advertising... I didn't have a clue who these people were or why the crowds were freaking out... but I really enjoyed it.

The first one to make an impression on me was this group with 2 guys and a dj and the music was nonstop - it was this weird funky house, retro, disco, regga, rap collision sung by a guy who also does opera. And they sung in Czech, English, some Spanish, and possibly Italian for an instant.. I've no idea.

Search as I have, I still haven't found a clip for you with just the guys I saw last night. I think the singer and the dj come from a famous czech funk band, Monkey Business, and have no idea about the other singer/rapper guy... except apparently his name is James Kohl... don't quote me on the spelling as I've no idea - that's what is sounded like when he kept saying "james kohl, ya'll... what's my name??"

The last group was Midi Lidi who were awesome. A friend told me Midi - which is a type of electronic recording that I am familiar with - is referring to electronic music... and that Lidi means people... so it's like Electronica People... Now, they're a bit different - three band members that take the stage in a row standing behind computers, keyboards, drum machines, and other stuff that all needs to be plugged in... with a white screen behind them... and they were great. Really enjoyed them.

I also searched for them and found some clips and videos that were highly polished reflected the music, their show and their sound -see the first clip - the second clip I'm posting better catches their energy as I experienced it last night...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Quite a compliment!! More egocentric stuff....

I've had any number of interesting and unexpected compliments over here.... one that was pretty cool was from a fellow American classmate - in referring to his favorite professor, who he said I should meet as we reminded him or each other - he was searching for what it was that felt similar between us - and what he came up with was charisma. I don't think I've ever had someone use that word to describe me when talking to me - he said we have the same charisma, really engaging energy.... I was really touched.

I've never met so many people in such a concentrated time, male and female, who have taken it upon themselves to tell me that I'm beautiful - not on a slimy pick-up sort of way (that's happened too and I'm not counting those) but more observational or factual, and once or twice comparatively speaking... which is again nice to hear, but not as important to me.

I've heard from a few people that I'm radiant... there's a glow, an appeal, a energy, my aura... however it's put, but the nicest summary I've heard was last night and came from a Czech girl - which is really surprising cause I thought she was British for two reasons - first, she's got the accent (living in London a few years will do that to you) and second, she is so easy to talk with... not the typical Czech experience...

We were out dancing, and I was with my friend Juan - we went dancing last weekend too, at the same club, which is where I met her. She had been there with her boyfriend who is friends with Juan. This time she was there dancing alone, so she joined us.

We were all having a great time, and she said something to me about how nice the connection was between me and Juan (in a strictly platonic friendship way - we have a great time and a ton of fun!) we both just really enjoying being where we are and it comes through... then she said I have a beauty, a joy, that shines and makes people want to be near me, and that when they are they're happier too.

I've never heard that before - and it was probably the nicest compliment I've ever received - your happiness is beautiful, you attract people to you, and you make them happier by just being you.

That is so much better than, dude, you're hot.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

oh, slow down jen! - a conversation about israel...

The other day I was talking with my student (yeah, the same student who remembers the American tanks from WWII) and somehow the topic of Israel and Gaza came up - she asked about Obama and then my opinion.

I didn't quite know what to say - I don't fully understand the dynamic between the US and Israel but from how I see it, it's like we back them 100% no matter what... which I don't quite agree with. My memories, attribute it to my youth :) , are of the Israeli army bulldozing houses and displacing Palestinians whose families had inhabited the land for centuries - I can understand the basis for the tension between the parties... and I also see that there are militants on both (all?) sides... and peace is hard to find between extremists.

So I guess that I don't think the Israel actions are proportionate to the Hamas attacks... in my view it's another situation where the civilians are being punished not for the government or nation's actions but because of extremists inhabiting their borders -and the ongoing difficulties the UN and ICRC have in reaching the injured, dying, and starving are unacceptable... bombing UN safehouses is insanity...

I didn't state any of that. Not even close. I hedged, but apparently not enough.

As she tried to communicate her views I realized I am living in a nation were Jews have suffered - where it is part of the identity of the people. Where there has been great interplay in the recent cultural identity between these people and the people of Russia - which as a very strong Jewish Orthodox history... and that I had somehow ended up in a conversation with someone who believed that because of their history of persecution any action taken by the Jewish people will be the right action. That we are living surrounded by concentration camps and there is a heightened awareness of the suffering and persecution endured.

I have no concept - I don't have the structural system to comprehend the horrors inflicted upon and observed by people I know here. It is truly beyond my grasp, and god-willing, it will forever remain so.

And yet I don't think that the past gives you an eternal 'get out of jail' card. I still have a hard time seeing it like that. I still don't quite accept the reasoning or logic, and it has made me pause for a moment.

My reality and existence to this date has helped me to form the views I hold, but that is so very different from the person who engaged me in conversation that I could not continue the conversation - her emotion and strength of her conviction showed me deep rooted passion, which, with her personal history is totally justified.

I believe I have a lot more to learn. And could benefit from closing my mouth more often and opening my ears a bit more... and my eyes.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A few names

Some unusual ones
Agata - sounds like A (like in cat) gat-uh
Honza - the nickname for Honza is Jan (pronounced Yawn) or Johnny
Ondrej - sounds like Andre
Matej - sort of like Matteo but without the -o at the end
Zuzana - sort of like Susana, but more like Zoo-Zah-na
Tonicka- sort of like - Toe-knee-chka
Bara - Bah-rah but a tiny twisty roll to the R which I can't manage just yet
Ales - sort of like Alex but with an SH at the end

Some more that appear more familiar

Julia - pronounced You-lee-ah
David - pronounced Dah-vid
Adam - pronounced Uh-Dom
Tomas - pronounced more like - Toe-mahsh

Obviously there are many, many more which are unique to this part of the world and unusual to my ears, but these are what are popping up in my head as I sit here trying to get back to sleep... not so much luck with the sleeping part. :(

Historical/Political conversation with a student

She's a Bio-Chemistry Professor at Charles University - for those not in the know, that's probably the world's oldest most highly regarded scientific department in existence.... if not in forever.... Tesla went there. So did Einstein... and a whole lot more people whose names you'd recognize but that's not my point here...

The point is she's smart. I enjoyed our talk earlier this week for two reasons - three - she's interesting and shared a lot her views with me, the conversation was quite revealing in a very introspective sense, and it got me out of having to teach class as she was the only student that day.

Here's what I'd forgotten and sort of knew:

The Czech Republic had left Germanic (Hapsburg) rule shortly before WWII and had an elected and free government of their own creation for a short while before they were invaded by the Nazis. They were so quickly overrun that the country experienced very little bombing and such - the reason why the entire center of Prague is a UNESCO sight... you won't find the cross section of architecture here anywhere else...

So - after WWII they were Communist - the assumption, quite often, as I've heard it from others is that - one Russia got there first, and/or two, they welcomed communism...

Well, actually neither are right.

The liberation from Nazism and the terror and death and destruction, however Stalin's communism wasn't much of a difference... Communism wasn't the government of choice - a free government, like they'd had prior to the Nazis is what they wanted.... but we kinda screwed that up for them.

Prior to arriving, or contemporaneous to the first liberating troops arrived in Prague there was that big ol' Summit thingy that all those famous PMs and Presidential people went to... lots of pictures and all that - and when the press wasn't around Europe was carved up and passed around - would you prefer light meat or dark? Czech or Austria?

Well, it was agreed that Russia could take a good section of central/eastern europe... pretty much the land from Germany over...

And while these conversations were taking place (without political representation from or consideration of the individual nation's desires) the first tanks started rolling in to Prague - the liberators had arrived... the Nazis were being driven out... and the school children, my student one of them, drew pictures of the flags of their saviours and rushed in to the streets to greet the soldiers....

Calling out, "America, America" over and over again as their earnest hearts had craved and prayed for this day... when their families could be reunited, aunt, uncles, mothers, fathers, siblings returned from re-education, freedom of the fear to venture outside, the freedom to speak freely, to pray out loud as they chose, to acknowledge their truths, to live peacefully.

And our American troops rolled up to the edges of the city and stopped... We held back a few days, sort of sitting and protecting, but most of all waiting. We waited for the Russians to show up for we had agreed to hand the country to Russia and so Russia had to be the 'true' liberators.

And we know how that liberation turned out.

Another "Mission Accomplished" moment.

European Gas Crisis

For those of you in the US - and there've been a few - who are concerned that I will die of exposure due to the gas conflict between Russia and the Ukraine and the stoppage along the gas lines...

Don't worry. It won't happen. We're getting gas from Norway and the country has tapped their underground reserves.

If I do die from winter related causes it'll be by getting run over by one of this insane drivers as they slide sideways through the intersections while trying to turn the corner... they're still not slowing down!!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

It is very, very cold here

My student told me, Monday night, the TV forecast was for negative 20C. I think that's about 4F. It's really very cold. I am trying to adapt but it's a whole different way of life. Layers are obvious but what you are layering with is also crucial. Three layers plus a jacket are the minimum for me to be warm... and that's not always cutting it right now. Last night I had silk leggings and fleece lined pants and was freezing. I need warmer items to layer. I'll be adding to my wardrobe tonight, probably making a pit stop at Flora on my way between pre-school and adult school... if not tonight then tomorrow after pre-school as I don't have to be anywhere right away.

This may sound silly, but I've been sleeping with my sleeping bag under a blanket... fully unzipped... It's the warmest blanket in the house, and I stick my feet in the bottom where it doesn't unzip and they stay warm all night (I have a special sleeping bag from REI, designed for women... part of the technology for their woman's bag is that the spot for the feet is extra insulated as it's quite common for women's feet to get cold - and mine do.) With my bag and one light blanket I am warm and cozy all night long... which is about the only time I'm warm and cozy... no,not true - I've come to appreciate baths in a whole new way. The giant bathtub is long and deep enough to completely submerge and thoroughly defrost. That and my bag are what I look forward to on my way home each day.

BTW - the sun doesn't surface till, oh, after 8, and is long gone by the time I leave at 4... short days, cold weather... oh joy. And this is the start of the winter season. I am getting a glimpse in to why people say "Oh you may love Prague, but we'll see if you can stick it out!"

Last note:

Your teeth freeze here. I was told to breathe through my nose, but I think that freezes too - while technically that may not be true, for all intents and purposes, it does.

The shape of my face

On one of my recent outings I was talking with a woman, a native czech. There were many people around from all over the world, various ethnicities and various appearances. We were speaking so she was familiar with my accent and through our conversation it was confirmed that I was American.

And yet...

At one point she said that I wasn't a "one of them" American - and I wasn't sure what she meant. I'm sure you're equally confused too... So I asked...

She said I wasn't a European American, and I said, but I am... and she insisted I had either some Latin blood or was of South American decent... and my immediate response was no, no I don't, and to ask her why.

It's the shape of my face and my coloring... (For those of you who haven't met me I'm caucasian with brown hair and green eyes - and while I'm not as pale as my sister I don't come close to having even brown-ish skin either... maybe I'll post a pic of myself someday, but not today.) I started to laugh and was on the verge of protesting when I realized, yes, I do have some Latin blood as well as some South American ancestry. (To make it a little funnier for me, at the moment I was surrounded by men from Brazil and Columbia - true South Americans...)

And it got me thinking... there are definitely ethnic appearances here - something that isn't as apparent back at home. There is a definite Slavic look, a more Germanic look, and a few others I can't quite label - some men have a certain ethnic appearance but the language barrier prevents me from identifying it - olive skin, medium stature, square shoulders, tight black curly hair... help me if you know what I'm talking about.

Anyway - I've never thought of myself in the terms in which this girl described me. I've never thought I had any sort of ethnicity about me. I tend to think of ethnic appearance being only the obvious ones - to be simplistic, black, white, asian, hispanic... and most of the people I know are such mutts that very few retain a truly visual ethnic identity. I never, ever would place myself in that slot. What do you think?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Cross Club and the Train Station

The other night I went out to a couchsurfers gathering. (Tell you more about CS later.) I was told to go to Cross Club but I didn't know where it is so I met up with a friend and his surfers and we all went together.

It took quite a while to get there as it's on the opposite side of town in the industrial area... I think somewhere beyond pre-school number 2. Anyway, we got there and it was incredibly cool!! Overwhelming, actually. I have to go back, probably a few more times, and during the summer with a camera.

It's an old warehouse that's been converted in to a club. That's pretty standard. What's not is how they decorated. It's one giant piece of art. They've gone through salvage yards and taken gears and drives and pistons and cranks and who knows what else and in some places have welded them together to create arches and railings and in others have created this movable ceiling piece, or things sticking out of the walls. Truly impressive.

So the night was great. I got to meet a lot of people from all over the world and in general had a really good time. We stayed out past the metro close, which is to be expected, and had to figure out the night trams - my friend is quite familiar with the night trams as he uses them frequently and so we were, justifiably, reliant upon him.

We missed the tram so we took the night bus instead. And that's where things went wrong. Over here each stop has a name - and they come in pairs - one for each direction. That should make things simple. However, sometimes there will be more than one location in each direction that has the same name - maybe a stop around the corner or something - but never any place obvious, and always without indication as to where the corresponding stop is located.

Maybe you can see where this is headed...

We took the bus which dropped us at a different location than expected - right stop name, wrong stop.

And it was -10 and snowing. At 3.00 in the morning.

So he suggested we follow these people ahead of us down the stairs - we could see where we wanted to be - it was the tram stop down the embankment and across the park. Quite often there will be stairs that lead down to the lower streets. These stairs did not. Rather, these stairs led us under the freeway and we came up inside the main train station.

Which was closed as it was 3.00 in the morning. We, however, persevered. We knew that inside the train station is an outlet with stairs that would lead to where we wanted to be. So we searched for it, moving barriers, climbing down escalators that had been shut down for the night, and in general just wandering through areas that were probably technically off limits.

At one point in time we rounded a corner and were faced with a large group of people lugging suitcases. Someone said - oh my god, they look like zombies! And they really did. Blank faces, void of emotion, wide eyes, drudging lumbering steps that involved whole body movement... I truly felt as though I were in a zombie movie. And then it became apparent that they too were locked inside the train station and were wandering in circles - shaking doors, hoping the next would yield, offering freedom and salvation.... it wasn't to be. Each door was locked, we couldn't find where we came in from, and the cleaning crew refused to set us free - telling us to wait another hour for the station to open. It was freezing outside - literally, it was snowing - but just as cold inside... no warmth to be found.

It was time to face facts. We had gotten lost. And ended up locked inside the maze of the main train station. Yet we managed to find a way... To escape that unheated hell we had to go through a temporary wall of a construction zone and then we found ourselves on an on-ramp for the freeway. From there we had to scale a wall (covered in snow), climb down an embankment (covered in snow), cross a road, trek through a park, and then we arrived at the correct tram station - while it was snowing snowing.

The big manly men had managed to get over the wall without getting soaked. I, on the other hand, had brushed my bum against the top of the wall and my pants had gotten wet. In the time it took to get down the embankment my pants had frozen. The entire walk to the station my pants were hard and crackly. I was trying to walk and stay warm while pulling my pants away from my body as the icicles forming were not contributing to my physical well being (I still have that bloody cold, and yes, I know, I probably should have been home in bed but a full month of being sick is more than enough time to dedicate to it!)

To wrap up here - we got the tram, got off at the right stop, and made our way back to the flat, and from there I called a nice warm taxi to come pick me up and take me home.

While I can definitely pass on the frozen pants (I don't know if any of you have had the chance to literally freeze your ass off) and I need to gain a stronger grasp on the night transit system, all and all in was a good night. One that is sure to be repeated under somewhat warmer circumstances.

So much snow!

I've never lived where it snows. I've enjoyed trips to Tahoe and Park City for skiing or boarding, and the East Coast for general childhood frivolity, but I've never had to experience the daily drudge of snow.

Not that it's all bad. Let me back up.

A few nights ago I meant to sit down and write about how amazingly beautiful the snow is! Walking through the dark of night, lit by a crescent moon and the orangy-yellow glow of the few and far between street lamps, the snow glistens and sparkles like diamonds... beautiful untouched snow draping the statues, dusting the park benches... it's breathtaking.

Last night I had to go to the store - staples and supplement my bedding. It was snowing. I slid along the road while walking and didn't enjoy the snow quite as much. Additionally, it was no longer sparkling and white - it was dirty and gray and slushy and ugly. But I made my way slowly and somehow remained upright and unscathed.

And got home, ate dinner, and slept on and off for just a little bit - still adjusting to the time difference over here.

And then this morning. (Don't you love how I start a fair number of both my sentences and paragraphs with AND - and I'm an english teacher!) Well, this morning it was bright and sparkly by my house... but that's cause it had been snowing all night and all morning. By the time I left, later than usual, the snow had covered up all the ugly tire tracks and slushy footprints. We don't have a snow sweeper in our neighborhood just yet.

And I thought - oh, how pretty... and then I slid all over the sidewalk again. And couldn't walk quickly and missed the first bus. So had to stand there and get snowed up, waiting for the next bus. Which came. But everyone who had been riding had obviously been in the snow, so when I got on the bus I slid around all over again - the floors are soaking and disgusting.

And while were driving I saw the tram. The tram that should have been moving but wasn't. It wasn't because of the snow. The snow had filled in the rails and frozen (I presume). I think so, at least, cause the tram was stopped and there was a large van and a team of men with long metal poles with flat ends poking and picking and trying to get the snow out and move the tram rails. This particular tram was turning so the needed to move the rails for it to turn, and then move the rails back. It was there for a while.

When we got to the metro station there was a snow cleaning crew. Another team of people sweeping snow and then throwing black crackly stuff on it - like salt or something but black and thick. And everyone moved at a snails pace.

The nice thing about the snow is that the bus drivers actually wait for the elderly people to sit down before they start zooming around again.

I think I have more to learn about the ways of walking right now.