Saturday, May 30, 2009

Coral Chorale Coral

Here's a clip someone took of the CISP choir's performance in Thursday. I took pictures and an even shorter video before my battery died and will post those after I unpack them after the move (which is tomorrow btw).

Coral is wearing a black skirt and bright blue top but you won't really see her as she is standing directly behind the choir director.

It was a wonderful, wonderful night, although I will say that for me, sitting in the audience, waiting for it to begin, it was feeling a little bittersweet. I was rather sad that noone else was there to share the experience with, to be a part of that moment, and lend Coral support through their presence. And that, for an instant, made me question what I'm doing here, raising her away from the physical presence of all you other people who love her. And then, afterwards, I met all the other parents and students I've been hearing about for months... and came to recognize that Coral has a much larger family here than I was aware of. She is loved and cared for by so many other people than just you and me. And that is a truly wonderful thing.

Kafkaland - straight from

I know, I know, you're not supposed to really swipe other people's words, but here it is... made me smile -
Even at a time of economic crisis, when saving is the order of the day, Kafka’s legacy is alive and well. Czech bureaucrats are currently waging a war over zebra crossings in Prague and the inhabitants of the Czech capital find it hard to believe their eyes as pedestrian crossing appear and disappear again without warning. After dozens of people called the media and the city hall to demand an explanation for this strange phenomenon an unbelievable story came to light. The Prague City Hall decided that dozens of zebra crossings in Prague went contrary to a regulation introduced by the Transport Ministry –namely that a zebra crossing across a street with a tram line must have street lights. And it ordered road maintenance crews to remove 79 zebra crossings in places where they are vitally needed. Removing them cost 800,000 crowns. Showered with complaints the Transport Ministry ordered them to be put back, pointing out that in Prague the regulation could not be taken so literally. The city hall says it will have them re-painted but insists on regulations being adhered to, so in some places it has painted the zebra only half way up the street – skipped the tram track - and painted the rest, producing broken up zebra crossings. The solution has pedestrians shaking their heads in disbelief at the games bureaucrats are playing. Surely changing the regulation would be the obvious solution. But that would be much too simple and Czechs would no longer be able to crack jokes about living in Kafkaland.

The humor - well the absurdity, but actually, yesterday on the bus we were driving along the road and had to stop for the guys doing the zebra and I was really curious about what they were doing there right then... usually there are signs in advance, etc. but there'd been nothing. And then I was fascinated by how they were doing it - standing fully upright, bent at the waist, and spreading this thick goo on the street with a plastering spatula - it was like they were putting 3 inches of this viscous frosting on the street... a little odd.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We are sinking....

Funny little advert...

oh irony of ironies

I was walking home today and thinking about my friends... and how the people I know here have differing view and opinions on many matters yet we manage to maintain all this threads of friendship going through the differences... how I appreciate people for who they are in even when I don't agree with them. And my views on the whole gay marriage debate/Prop 8 thing (which is nowhere near the radar over here) have surfaced some of those differences...

I posted a link to a free sticker which reads I love love... and then something else that is in support of gay marriage.... a few people responded that they don't support it. That's cool, I know a lot of people, both sides of the world, who don't. But I deleted the comments cause I didn't want them under my name. My name, my link, my prerogative.

Well, my note stating that I deleted the comments has prompted a bigger impact than the whole gay marriage thing. Which is sort of funny and sort of sad. Sad, in that, in the time that I posted and the time that I got home, one of those people decided to delete me from his friend's list. That really does make me sad as I enjoyed his input and thoughts and dialogue, in person dialogue, and was hoping to have a conversation with him... but apparently it's not to be - he leaves in the morning for a few months and is not the type of person to change his mind so I don't believe I'll hear from him upon his return. And that makes me sad.

Funny, not in a ha-ha way, in that my little bit of censorship, which is admittedly censorship in a certain fashion, is more outrageous and garners more attention than governmentally endorsed discrimination.

Well, I was quite honest in my FB comment that I truly do appreciate my friends for who they are - even when we are so divergent. At the same time, I don't need to spread what I feel detracts from me as an individual to those whom I love to the depths of my soul. I don't need to have my name carrying around messages that whittle away at people I love and who already are facing unnecessary hurdles (uh, Prop 8, that is the definition of an unnecessary hurdle) in a struggle for genuine equality and acceptance in modern society.

When I carry comments under my name about things that matter, not crap like how should I cut my hair or where to eat lunch, but matter on a more personal scale, it's like I endorse them. And I don't. And I understand when people delete stuff I write too. And they do. But it doesn't mean that I am rejecting them out of hand - they're part of who my friends are, and that means those people writing are people I care about too. So I don't deny or disregard and you're welcome to post it to my actual page instead of under my thread. That I won't delete. Or post the comment here... unless it's hateful or obscene I won't delete that either.

So, I've discovered that whenever I am walking home reflecting upon the great day I've had or my latest accomplishment, whatever it is that I've been reflecting upon has been destroyed or completely reversed before I make it to my front door. And that bites. I'm thinking maybe if I just don't think about my life and my life's progress and all that stuff that maybe I'll never have a problem again... and if I'm wrong, and problems persist - well, at least then I wouldn't be thinking about them:)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'm rather disappointed in you California - on off the cuff (aren't they all) response to the STUPID religious right & the CA Supreme Court on Prop 8

Seriously, what part of equality are you unclear on? Do you really think the founding fathers, those guys who tried to make the Constitution pretty hands-off and applicable to everyone, or, rather, to all citizens, would endorse your nit-picky ignorant and backwoods discrimination? In this day and age citizens come in all colors, sexes and inclinations... I thought we got over that separate but equal thing a few years back... or are you stuck still trying to distinguish one form of genetically disposed directives, such as...hmmm, let's say - racial identity, from another, oh, gee, say - sexual disposition...? Seriously - WHAT is your problem??

If God made us who we are, each and every one of us, then do you really think he'd want you pointing fingers at his creations saying, "Not you, you're not good enough. God doesn't love you like he loves me." Do you really think he made you a better judge of what is human and who is one of his beloved than he is himself? Do you think Jesus, who embraced the thieves and prostitutes, would want you condemning any other human, isolating and demeaning them for being, for fulfilling, the genetic predisposition that God graced them with. And I say graced as homosexuality is not a piece of cake in our society... as your overwhelming ignorance, California, is currently reinforcing, but as God is all knowing and acts with intention then he picked people intentionally, knowing them to be capable of handling the invective words of his less evolved creations, placing these chosen up against opposition, discrimination, confusion, inner turmoil, and societal rejection throughout the world. God knew them to be special, capable of becoming their genuine selves, overcoming the unfounded fears and misplaced aggression readily thrown about by closed minds and empty hears... and yet -

What idiots, fomenting hatred and ignorance, your empty shells and narrow minds calling "GOD" as justification for your hatred and intolerance.

However this is all dependent upon you're believing in God... which if you voted for Prop H8 you probably do... for me - I don't think he has much of a place in political issues. I think, thought, that if you want to get married and you're an adult and not already married then nothing should be stopping you. I think if you want a church wedding on top of or instead of a civil ceremony then find a church that will do it for you... and you can feel all good and special about your hetero union that way... but as no-one is stopping you from getting married then you shouldn't be stopping anyone else.

A marriage is a civil union - a religious one only if you choose to step beyond the civil ceremony, but it begins and ends with the civil law - legal paperwork is required to start it - no matter how many times you say I do in front of a priest and legal filings must be completed to end it. Anyone professing otherwise is a stupid head. I'm tired and not coming up with my true feelings at the moment, so stupid head, though juvenile, is also appropriate and for the time being will have to suffice.

Monday, May 25, 2009

stupid paperwork and stupid people

Why in the world is this place so freakin focused on paperwork??? I'm rather irritated and of course feeling absolutely justified in my stance.

First -I've had 3 positions here, 2 are still active, all without any little tiny bit of papers.

My job - the old job... no contract in place... didn't get paid for 2 months, and realized I was without recourse. It got resolved after quite a bit more hassle, but whatever.

My other job - hours changed and demands have changed and increased and I've been left without even basic support while trying to function in a school where noone speaks English and I don't speak Czech. I am supposed to have the Czech teacher with me every day.... it is the rare day that she deigns to grace us with her presence for a maximal amount of 20 minutes. Today was one of those days. Due to her rare sightings the children are not familiar with her and are now uncomfortable when she is around. That makes things even harder.

I have another job where again I am not on contract... probably cause I'm not actually employed... and again duties and responsibilities are not what they were promoted as...

BUT what is driving me bonkers at the moment is the stupid stupid people I have to deal with and the issues surrounding papers...

The Foreign Police. Never mind, if I get started there much more than the next 2 sentences I will lose my mind. They make redundant requests for papers that they have and repeatedly lose, only to recover after the 6 months period as expired, which therefore requires that they ask for the papers a third and fourth, etc, time. I hate them.

My landlord gave me a lease to sign - it had one person listed on it when there are 2, although one is a minor. It had a move in date of June 1. We agreed, verbally, that WE (yes, Coral was with me) could move in on the 28th. Coral and I made resulting plans dependent upon that move-in date.

He decided to rent it out on a short-term basis and now those tenants will be in the place on the 28th.... all the way on up till the 31st... which is when the new people are supposed to move in to my apartment as I am supposed to be out by then. The new landlord said he'd come over to my old place about 3 to help us drive our stuff over - as he puts it in one trip - as we can't move in before then. "Nice" of him to offer, but it's a lame consolation. Unfortunately, the 28th is not on the paperwork and so I have nothing to say about it. He acknowledges that we agreed on the 28th, but still apparently didn't feel bound to his word.

I SO don't respect that!!!

Now, even though he and his wife both signed off on accommodation paperwork for both me and Coral for the FP I feel like I should ask for a new lease that clearly states that Coral is allowed to live there too. I don't want it to come down, further down the line, when they feel like they can get a better price than what I'm paying, and they can kick me out for having too many people there.

The other instance.... UPC turned off my internet this weekend... why? One department wasn't communicating with the other department and my payments were being received but not registered. The paperwork wasn't being processed correctly. And when you call them, you get the option to PRESS 1 FOR ENGLISH. Which is a joke. The operators who answer that line don't speak English. Ever. They try to take your phone number down but they don't speak English... so somehow 991 turns into 912 and 784 was 342... I don't know. I really don't know. But the paperwork there is lame, lame, lame.

However, I have internet at home again. That's where I'm at, right now. Mastering my procrastinating skills, avoiding my final propaganda paper, getting ready to tuck the kid in to bed before I face the work remaining.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

remind me... although I would rather you didn't.

I need to talk with my US doctor. I say remind me cause my memory is shot - too many drugs (prescription, mind you) for far too long... and now my brain is only half intact. Compounded by pain and my brain is nothing more than a sieve.

It's started again... with my eye and then my head and the dizziness and the stumbling and the numbness and the pain. And I don't want to start all over with the poking and the prodding and the hours in an MRI only for more hours to be required and then more blood needed so more bleeding required... I hate all that. I hate needles and shots and solemn expressions while reviewing your charts... I hate testing and inconclusive results... I hate no results too. I hate seeing the doctor and don't really want to have to try to find a kind or caring or considerate Czech physician with expertise in these areas in addition to masterful English skills. And I can't afford to have my records translated, either.

Right now, more than ever before with this group of friends, I feel like an idiot. My concentration is gone, I can't remember my commitments and obligations and even forget that I wrote them down when I do actually write them down. I repeat myself frequently and am distracted by pain and the resulting exhaustion. This comes across as flaky, irresponsible, and disinterested. I'm not, at least not irresponsible in the manner conveyed and I'm not disinterested - and not really flaky unless it deals with my physical well-being.

I don't like feeling like my outer me, the physical me, is taking me away from who I am. And I do. Again.

the sky is filled with white stuff drifting about

But it's not snow. It's that damn dandelion fuzz. My eyes and nose are going crazy. Two days in a row I've been in the same spot and looked about the air really was full of white fuzz, everywhere. Thicker than some snow falls. What is going on???

I've been looking around at the grass and fields near my flat, and they've been mowed... no more dandelions at all. But mysteriously the fuzzies are still flying about.

Please, make it stop. I want to be able to breathe and blink freely. And Coral does too - even more so than I... poor kid has had a rough time with allergies.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

who wants to row me around?

I want to go on a boat ride, one of the row boats. I want to sit in a boat on the river and laugh and take pictures and laugh and eat and laugh and enjoy the sun and laugh some more. But I can no longer row the kind of boat where you sit in the middle and handle both oars (stupid injury). So I want someone else to row me around the damn river.

I'll provide the food and, obviously, excellent company. You provide the manual labor.

On a similar note - thinking about a mass paddle boat excursion sometime soon. I'd like a super soaker battle on the boats. Not that I have a super soaker here, but I may ask to have a few shipped over.

And that canoe/camping trip too. If I were more familiar with the area I'd organize the latter myself, but I'm not so - a little help, please?

so out of the literary loop

And I mean that in quite a few different ways... but the area of my focus this instant is all about reading... I am a reader - now a pleasure reader instead of a critical or professional reader, but still a reader. I love to get lost in a book - and lost I truly get. If I'm reading you will have better luck having a conversation with your shoe than you will getting a response from me. It has annoyed my Mom, my siblings, my Dad, my (ex)husband, my kid... and at times even me cause I don't have a clue what's going on around me.

Fortunately I've somehow got it down so my brain/body responds on the metro - I never know where I am but I stop reading to check it out about 2 stops before I need to get off for school - time enough to finish my page and re-pack my bag before my stop.

Again - though not what I'm really thinking about.

About 2 months ago my Mom was visiting and she truly indulged me with an unexpected shopping expedition (make that 2) at a few bookstores.... I've been caught up in school, the job stuff, and life and haven't had a chance to really jump in to anything much lately, but now I am. I'd been reading some Pynchon and was looking at some more of his stuff when a guy recommended Haruki Murakami to me. I hadn't heard of him but picked up the book and read the back cover. And from here I quote the New York Times, " Critics have variously likened him to Raymond Carver, Raymond Chandler, Arthur C. Clarke, Don DeLillo, Philip K. Dick, Bret Easton Ellis and Thomas Pynchon - a roster so ill assorted as to suggest Murakami is in fact an original"

OK there are a few names in there that I love - some consistently, some not as consistently (that would be you Mr. BEE - Luna Park? WTF? Blah). And I decided to pick it up.

I am loving what I'm reading. And was wondering why I'd not heard of this guy before, and really feeling like I'd found someone cool and special - sort of like when I was reading an advance copy of that book Nick Hornby wrote... damn it brain freeze.... John Cusack, as much as I love him, really pissed me off when the movie came out.... sort of like that, but not at the same time.

Anyway, back to my original thought - yesterday one of the guys in my annoying class was reading the same book. Coincidence. Today - I sat down on the tram ride home (before I fell asleep) and a girl sat down facing me - she was reading a book by the same author... but in Czech so I have no clue as to whether or not we were reading the same book too.

I have never heard of the guy before and now I feel like I'm surrounded by him. I haven't finished the book yet but I already plan on tracking down his others... and then checking out the few authors referenced in the review that I'm not familiar with.

In the interim... I have 2 papers to write and then am only taking one class at a time during the summer... I plan on spending plenty of time outside, enjoying the sun, with a good book in hand. So, if you'd either like to join me or have some recommendations I would really appreciate hearing from you. All genres - except romances and westerns - considered.

please let me sleep

I slept for 10 hours last night - I was exhausted when I got home and woke up early, fell asleep and then really, really overslept. You'd think I'd be well rested today.

I'm not.

I fell asleep in class this afternoon. I'm the teacher.

I fell asleep on the tram and again on the bus. I made it home intact, but it's 5:30 and I am dead tired. My plans - eat dinner, watch The Office, and sleep.

I'm also having a printer delivered tonight, so I'll have to be awake to receive it.

I was supposed to go to the fire show, but I don't think I'd manage to stay awake through it and don't want to fall asleep and get left behind in the middle of a thicket somewhere. That would really suck.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

that incredibly awful bunch of classmates...

Yesterday I had that class again, the one with that was primarily exchange students studying primarily Czech subcultures (primarily, not solely). The one with the rudest bunch of students I have ever experienced in a college atmosphere. The class hasn't been helped by the acoustics of the room - along the outer edges you experience the phenomenon where if you whisper the sound reverberates throughout the room, yet if you're in the middle it's almost like your voice gets stuck in an alcove and diminished.

The students talk constantly and clack away on their keyboards and phones when they're mouths aren't moving- sometimes even when they're mouths are moving - blatantly ignoring the lecture, fellow classmates' presentations, the movie, or whatever else may be going on. The course has been ridiculous in that no-one can hear what's going on, and unfortunate in that the instructor is knowledgeable, passionate and interesting and unable to transfer any of that to her students. I've walked out of the room when it gets to be too much.

Her anger and frustration have translated in to increased assignments, more demanding papers, shortened classes, and a loss of interest in our specific course (I really hope it hasn't affected her passion for teaching others).

Sometimes the reprecussions of her frustration made me even more frustrated. She'd be desperate to get a discussion going and so would start to ask a question but make it to expansive yet incredibly specific with information juxtaposed against an interrogatory that I couldn't reconcile - no-one understood how what she was asking corresponded to the information at hand and so no-one would answer. And she'd get even more frustrated.

Last week she finally told the students to shut their computers. (I may seem very anti-technology these last few posts, I'm not, keep reading). If they had been using them for anything relating to class it wouldn't have been a problem, but they weren't and it was obvious. Facebook, YouTube, movies, DVDs, music and headphones, IMing, papers for other classes.... typing during video clips, during a time for reflection, outbursts of laughter... that sort of thing.

This week she asked a student to not eat her lunch - the person she targeted and the way she did it I thought weren't too fair as the girl wasn't one of the rude students and every day people were eating... but the constant crinkle of the plastic wrap is distracting and has been for months. Then she asked everyone to shut their computers. And she started on time rather than wait for stragglers.

Two girls, chatty kathies, came in late - took their seats and started talking during the class's final presentations. Non-stop. Finally the instructor stopped after a presentation and gave a basic manners lesson.

She had to tell a bunch of 20 somethings that you greet people when you walk in a room and you say goodbye when you leave. Basic manners. She also had to say - you don't talk during class or over other people.

Then she apologized for being so intimidating and told the girls they could either move away from each other or they could leave.

She was FAR from intimidating and her comments were LONG overdue. It's unfortunate she waited until the final class meeting to express her feelings, but at the same time, I'm glad she finally did. She really needed to.

a few food related items...

Lipton's chicken noodle soup
Jello Chocolate Pudding
Betty Crockers Brownie mix
Sliced sourdough bread
Sonoma Taco shop's salsa - the roasted tomato kind
red vines
Crystal Light Lemonade
Tapioca Pudding (yes, we're out already)

Montreal Steak Seasoning
Cream of Tartar
Ground cinnamon
Creole Seasoning

Joy of Cooking
The Big Cookie Bible book that was a gift to Coral from Aunt Margie


There isn't anything actually healthy on this list - Sonoma Taco at least isn't bad for you - but they're things I can't find here and am desperately missing. Coral is having major food cravings lately and thinks it's cause she just misses American food.

Have we mentioned that if you get a hamburger from a stand it's not anything like the American idea of a hamburger and much more like an inside-out hot dog smooshed into a hamburger patty and then lightly fried to create a funky cohesion on the outside. It tastes worse than what you're thinking it does. Trust.

Monday, May 18, 2009

a procrastinator's ponderings....

how can you write poetry on a computer? how can you pull from the universe for the one true word to fill the spot, capture the essence... how can you find that and feel it and acknowledge it's perfection without the physical connection of ink and paper? or lead and paper... crayon, lipstick, eyeliner, what have you - just the physical connection between you and you words. Something so dry, so impersonal, so void of emotion as a keyboard, an automated machine, little bits of electricity and ones and zeros - whatever it is that translates the push of a key to the corresponding figure on your screen. How can that capture your heart? Your head? Provide solace? It can't. But it can help me finish my homework a bit faster.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

where are you from?

This week people have told me they thought I was from a variety of different places, some of which have made me laugh...

The first was a teacher at my school. He's in the law department and I've been dealing with him quite regularly for the last few months, primarily face to face contact. He asked where in the UK I'm from.

The second - someone who told me I looked south american. The shape of my face is south american to them. They were south american so maybe that had something to do with it.

Someone else told me I was clearly Irish. I forget why but they insisted I was pure Irish.

Yesterday a Romanian thought I was his friend from Moldavia. I'm not. We hadn't met. He was sure we'd met at a party and everyone had been Romanian or Moldavian. I wasn't at the party. Neither am I Moldavian. I actually had to google Moldavia to find out exactly where it is - I had an idea but I was off... I thought it was closer to Montenegro than to the Ukraine. I was wrong.

Why do people try to identify your nationality according to your facial structure? As I pose that question I am also given a little insight in to why I ask it... coming from the US most people are of a mixed heritage. Other than regional identifiers such as Asian or African we don't really have a definite strong identifiable racial identity - and even to our eye we cannot distinguish between Chinese, Japanese, Mongolian, etc... We don't' distinguish at all with caucasian.

And yet, here I can meet people with similar delicate features and then discover they're from the same region, the crazy curly haired girls are all Albanian, or from a very close region, the extreme curve to the nose shared by strangers also has a location connection, there are certain things that close inspection will reveal to be shared... yet these are generalizations that I find to be more amusing than something I would choose to base a cultural identity upon. Maybe for some who study this, they could go way overboard with it, but for me, it's just one of those things like - 'oh, you can't roll your tongue? Me neither! Did you know it's hereditary' - type things.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pac Man - I <3 the French!!

I love the French!! Let me clarify - I love the French for their innovation and creativity. They created parkour, they have excellent films, incredibly stories, and Remi Gaillard. I do not love the French when it comes to dating. Big difference.

ICP Retreat

Retreat! Retreat! GOOO BAAAACK!

Hi there. You didn't heed my warning? I hope you won't regret that.

So, over the past month or two, I have been on several retreats. However, in this entry, I'm only going to write about the latest one. Sorry.

SO. I needed service hours for school. I am still in need for service hours for school. I'm in a service hour scrape. But that is slowly being resolved. Anywho.. there was an opportunity to go on a retreat with my friends' church, and watch some kids. I'd get to go free, with free boarding, free food, and I'd get 10 hours of service project stuff. (Though I probably would have gone even if I didn't get the hours.)

Awesome deal.

AND I got to hang out with my friends who were also going, because we had more free time there than time we were working.

So, I went, and I loved it. The kids were really good (for the most part, excluding Robert and Tomaš.) I got to play with them, go play Bomb, swim, play soccer, eat delicious free food and hang out with friends. We even went swimming in the FREEZING cold pool at 7:40 in the morning. Believe it or not, it was my idea. We did some sprints, and then, before we got freezing cold again, jumped in the pool. Well, Hannah and Wendy did. I stood out, dry, and laughed. And then I got in up to my shoulders. It was cold. I mean, cold as in, I don't think I can move because I can't feel my feet cold. Or my hands. Or my legs. Or the rest of my body. NUMBING cold. Literally. Still fun.

(Wow, Coral is getting sidetracked quite easily!)

We had a bonfire one of the nights too, had some smores, and listened to a bunch of my friends play the guitar. We sang with them, and then the little kids and the adults went inside, and the rest of us played Mafia and sang worship songs (No, I am not Christian, but yes, I do sing.) My school director extended our curfew that night by about 45 minutes, so we didn't have to rush inside. Very nice of her.

The only bad parts of the retreat were the stinging nettles, which I recently learned, DO affect me now, though they haven't in the past, Robert and Tomaš wandering off all the time, and I think that I am now sick because of my swimming in the pool repeatedly when that CANNOT have been healthy at that temperature.

Totally worth it though, especially since it was completely free.


I am tired of being sick.

Bleh. That word is pretty much summing up the entirety of Coral right now.

I am sick. I am sickly. And I am tired. (I couldn't think of a third one.)

I always seem to be sick here though. I know it's because I don't have all the immunities yet, but why does it have to take so long for them to build up?! Those are one of the several things that I miss from California.

Hopefully this DISEASE will soon abate. Keep your fingers crossed.

personable poetic professor

I went to a poetry reading last night. I was feeling a bit better after a few days on the flue followed up by struggling to comprehend humanity and Robin's death. I had promised a friend earlier in the week I would attend his reading. additionally, I am signed up for a writing course this summer, and the instructor was also the lead poet. I wanted to get a feel for him.

While I got home too late and am rather tired, I'm glad I went - I definitely got an idea as to who he is his, and hopefully how class will be - and am grateful I will be taking it. However I am not looking forward to sharing my work with others - it's an uncomfortable experience for me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Another incomprehensible tragedy

Since I moved here last summer life has continued back home - there have been births, marriages, moves, break-ups, new relationships, and deaths. Mostly senseless premature deaths. Beautiful, strong, intelligent women.

The first was due to cancer, a disease, something we are all at a certain level of risk for, something, while tragic, we can combat, or at least grasp, and comprehend.

THIS is beyond words. There is no explanation. You can't hope for something that will make sense. Robin was friends with Jim, Gary, Billy - and all those Runamockians/MHS guys who have a special place in my heart... I have heard her sing, enjoyed her stories, shared her smiles, and listened to her laugh. She was the embodiment of vitality, enthusiasm, and talent. The world has lost a special lady.

Please, if you pray, to whomever it is you pray to, pray for her friends and family. Pray for your own, that you may truly appreciate what you have and those who love you. Life is sometimes far too short.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Further, albeit cleaner, adventures of the poopy person

For those of you not up to date, you may want to take a quick detour for the History of the Horrible Man in the Hall before continuing so that you will fully appreciate what you are about to see.

Coral was late for school today. There was a giant snoring man in the hallway - and the sweet sickly smell of far too much alcohol exuding from his body. She stayed home rather than deal, but only for a short bit, just until the manager come over and tried to wake him... and failed. But under his strong and authorative supervision she walked around the huge lump in the middle of the floor.

The guy is still out there, the smell off his body is over-powering, and we are moving in 2 weeks and one day.

Was this the right decision - it's more expensive and this week I've been questioning myself. This morning, the world has given me, Yes, Yes, Yes, a resounding YES!!!

*** udpate - this guy is an ASS!!! He just hit his Mom as she was trying to drag him in to the apartment when he refused to get up - he finally go up just so he could hit her and then stumble through the actual doorway before passing out again.

stupid 1800FLOWERS

I ordered my Mom some flowers last week. They were to be delivered on Mother's Day. If you're reading this and you're my Mom you may be shocked to find this out - why? Because the stupid 1800FLOWERS people took my order, took my money, and then did nothing else.

Stupid 1800FLOWERS. Their motto is something something something "SATISFACTION GUARANTEED". Well they're wrong, I'm not satisfied, I'm unsatisfied, and they've had the chance to make me satisfied and decided not to take it. And the upshot - as I'm writing this my Mom still doesn't have her flowers, I have still paid for them, it's two days after the fact, and 1800 FLOWERS bites the big one!!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sharing a laugh

We both cracked up. You are sure to as well =)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Smart and Funny ?!?!?

If this guy wasn't married and in another country - I'd totally go out with him.

How to Shoot Friends and Interrogate people - OMG!!! Hilarious!!!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

No no avocados are green

I went to the store earlier to pick up a few things - and while there noticed they had avocados - a rare treat in my little market.

Even more surprising - they were ripe and ready to be eaten!! Normally when I can find them they're bright green and harder than some rocks I've stumbled upon while out walking.

I filled my cart and when to check out. The woman checked everything but set the avocados aside for the end - then asked me something. I told her I don't speak much Czech and she started to look in the book - I offered up, in Czech the cost marked on the sign, but she told me she need the name. I said, "Oh avocado" it's rather similar in Czech... she looked at me and said no, then called her co-worker over - who also said, "avocado". I agreed with her and repeated "avocado".

Then the original checker looked at both of us like we were crazy. Her response - "No, avocados are green."

i am disgusting

I have been sitting with the computer all day, my papers hanging over me, getting nothing done. My writing is redundant and uninteresting - and my research isn't providing me with the information I need. I am seriously lacking in motivation right now. I would really prefer to take the damn tests the undergrads get to take, and just be judged on a stricter scale... but it's not my choice.

So why do I feel disgusting? I had chocolate donuts and beer for dinner.

Judge me if you must.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

nephews and a newbie!

Next month my sister in law is going to give birth to her second child... it will be the third person on this planet who can call me Aunt Jenny... and I can't wait to see it.

Of course - see it will be literally seeing it (gender uncertain at this point) as I am on the other side of the world. And with 2 small children I don't think my brother and his family will be headed our direction any time soon...

And yet - I'd love to see the new kid. It will happen, there will just be a few months delay.

I just received photos of my two nephews - two cousins - the other day from my Mom. The most adorable little pair ever. And this week I was able to video chat with my sister and my nephew for a bit - something we don't really do enough of. It can be quite hard deciphering off a built-in mic, but it is worth the effort to watch a toddler try to secretly feed the dog... or hide behind a glass door... or try to dance with you on-line.

Here are my nephews - one is 2 1/2 (background) and the other approaching 1 1/2 (foreground)... I miss them tremendously!!!!

The older one was on a walk recently when a girl resembling Coral walked towards them on a trail - he started yelling at her, "Coral! Coral! Coral, come here!" Apparently the missing goes both ways.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What is the 25th most popular blog for Sonoma County subscribers???


I am actually listed by NetworkBlogs (which is affiliated somehow with Facebook) in the Top 50 for Sonoma County - we fall in as #25! AND with a 5 star rating (thanks the two people who took the time to vote for me - means a lot!!)

Now, if only all my facebook Sonoma County family members were all listed as followers I bet I'd be up around #7 or even #6!!

hello? job calling

I had a frustrating interaction with the owner of the BS school but that chapter is now closed - I've chosen to terminate contact and maybe when I go to the bank next the money will be there and I'll consider it a blessing... and maybe it won't and I can consider it a lesson. Either way I made a decision to move on - and in furtherance of that decision I contacted other Callan schools in the area and submitted my resume.

I had one call back, yesterday, asking if we could meet sometime next week. YES I said as I desperately need a job.

This morning I got up early and made my way over to the visa agency to finalize my application - on the way my phone rang. I was asked if we could move up our meeting till today - I said YES again. Then I had my meeting, went to my uni, went to pre-school and then headed over to this new Callan school.

On the way my phone rang again - the school I had interviewed with last week that had offered and then rescinded the job offer finally had to take decisive action and terminated the other teacher - and were offering me the job again. I said YES.

After my interview with the new Callan school - which has a whole floor of a building instead of one office in a suite - and 8 separate classrooms all wired for audio/video recording and a ton of other cool stuff... where I was told they're interested and I need to do some training for their version of the method (which is better than what I had been taught by FAR) I made my way over to pick up the book at the other school to pick up the book and material for the class that starts tomorrow.... and on the way my phone rang again... it was another school calling... a new pre-school that wanted to offer my a job as a full-time teacher, and I said, thanks but I'm not available on a full-time basis... and she said - send me your hours and I'll see what I can do.

I am a little overwhelmed right now. But I can tell you this - I must apply for my work permit and I will not take a position without a contract again. Apparently, someone here told me, it's illegal for someone to employ you without a contract.. regardless if you're a legal employee or not (?).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

pickpocketed - it happened

Coral had her wallet stolen out of her bag. Not much was in it, a few hundred crowns and various forms of ID - which will cost a bit to replace, but nothing crucial or anything that will require a life alteration... BIG bummer though!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

cost of living... may update 2009

On my way home I stopped at a little fruit and veggie market by the bus stop. I knew I had steak at home and really wanted to add mashed potatoes and a salad for a complete dinner....

I picked up - 10 white potatoes, an onion, and two cucumbers - the total cost: 45 crowns... translated in to USD... $2.20.

Earlier today I had to go buy health insurance for my visa renewal. I have something very similar to the coverage you get through the governmental system... basic health insurance (pregnancy and dental is not included but doctors and medications are). I needed to buy a full year policy - total cost (including the 30 crown fee for the postal transfer): 5,000 crowns.

Let me make this clear for you - I paid $250 USD for a full year of no cost medical care and medication.... the costs for hospitalization.... which I'm not planning on using.... 50 crowns per night. That includes everything... converted amount, USD - $2.50.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Free Hugs

The first of May is a big CS day - Free Hugs! So, I, along with 20 or so other people joined together and invaded Old Town Square (Staromeska Namesti). CLICK ON THE PHOTOS IN ORDER TO SEE THE FULL PICTURE!!!


It was a blast!! After a little over 3 hours I lost count of how many hugs I got, but it was well in excess of 60. There were some pretty funny responses we heard to the offer of "Free Hugs"... such as, my wife would kill me, I'm too old, I don't like hugs, what do you really want?.... and then things like - are you getting married, is this some sort of experiment, why would you give out hugs.... but the most common response was - can we get a picture??? What was so cute though was the number of guys who would walk by and look and shake their heads, while slightly blushing, and keep looking back, while walking away - and then on their way back through the square they'd stop for a hug. It was quite funny how many people had to be dared by their friends to get a hug - and then the rest of their group would get hugs too. It was great - everyone hugged us - the elderly, children, the handicapped, Down Syndrome, and everyone else too!

Things I discovered - the Italians, while I may have posted before about the obnoxious volume level and how they're swarming Prague right now, are by far the friendliest and the most willing to engage in hugs, even when they don't speak English, the , Germans not so much - they'd turn a hug down in perfect English. The British/Irish stag groups think they're hilarious yet all say the same thing - What about free sex? The older tour groups look and smile but don't hug so often. No-one had a sign in any Asian language so we missed a whole target hugging group and will change that next year (this is an annual May Day event) - but they'd gesture their request for a photo... or sometimes would try to sneak a photo by posing a foot in front of where we were standing... so we'd walk up and pose with them and then get a hug. MORE SUNSCREEN! And lots of water.

Amongst my group of friends there were more than 300 pictures taken, easily. That doesn't begin to compare to the tourists who stood, stared, and then photographed us - combined with the number who had someone take their photo while getting a hug. We tried to implement a one photo - one hug rule but it didn't work very well - people took lots of pictures from a distance.


I also got to go an a CRAZY ride on the octo-bike - a bike that seats about 8 people... and met a ton of guy working/living in Prague from the SF/Santa Cruz areas!

For more complete photos click on the link to my friend's album Free Hugs Photos.

And - go give someone a hug - it makes for a beautiful day!

David Duke exiled from Prague

They don't like people who promote racism here. There's a real problem with racial violence directed towards the Roma... about a week ago, in a different part of the country, a home was fire bombed - home made Maltov cocktails... and a Roma family was severely harmed, with a 2 year old girl in critical condition. The neo-Nazis are on the rise throughout Europe and in Czech.

Holocaust deniers are liked even less than blatant racists. And David Duke is both. His lecture in Prague on an unrelated topic was canceled, and apparently this happened.... David Duke arrested and told to GET OUT!

It is a crime here to deny the holocaust. Good job you 30 masked police officers! Maybe a bit of overkill, but thanks for taking a stance and making it abundantly clear that those who are intolerant of others, those "former" KKK followers, those who incite others to hate-filled violence will NOT be tolerated.

a cheerier note

Don't think I mentioned the bright spot in my week - I had a student leave my pre-school.... it wasn't expected, but he is leaving on holiday and won't be back in Prague until the summer season. His parents both came in to pick him up and brought me a gift, a delicious box of chocolates, and some flowers - beautiful tulips. His father speaks fluently and so asked me about his progress - which has been tremendous! He is the youngest student and rather reluctant to join and has truly blossomed. The told me they are looking forward to seeing me next year at school.

Another mother came in and told me she had called the owner with a few questions, and had told her how wonderful I am - that she wanted to make sure the school knows that the students and parents both love me and are relying on my teaching for them next year as she has told other parents about me and expects them to enroll their children in my class too.

And yet another mother, when informed about a new teacher for the days I don't work, said she doesn't want to switch back to those days, even if they are more convenient, as she, and her daughter both love me and aren't interested in anyone else.

Sometimes when I'm overwhelmed I forget I'm doing ok in other aspects of my life. Pre-school is moving along just fine.

further work updates

Well the owner said he wanted to meet me and then cut off contact, again. I am not counting on getting paid for that!

I do have an interview as a tutor for a teenager, but not for 2 more weeks. We will see how that goes.

I don't have a job, and once again I have been informed I have a further visa requirement - I must supply an insurance policy with start and end dates - which essentially means I have to buy Czech health insurance... another 6,000 crowns. Sometimes I just want to cry.

Yesterday in fact, I almost did.