Friday, July 31, 2009

christmas revisted

If you were one of the very few to see me this past holiday season then you've seen what I'm dealing with. Again.

I've been sick for almost 2 weeks... not all the time sick, definitely thought it was the flu sick, suddenly shaking, sweating can't breath sick, this isn't all right or do-able sick.

So, after much searching and calling about (turns out the Dr.s who take my insurance are out of town) I finally found an English speaking physician with responsive office staff and was told to come on by. So I did.

I have another lung infection. That things that seriously sidelined me back over the holidays - spent weeks in bed... yeah, that. Again.

I am not going anywhere, doing anything, or being anyone until this thing is over. Again.

All the best laid plans go awry.

I need to be able to breathe and stop with the shaking sweating fever stuff. Life, right now, is not a ton of fun.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

it's a small, small world

Recently a friend remarked upon an experience she had that reminded her of how small the world is... and it reminded me of an old story... and moments later I had my own reminder. They both make me smile so I'm going to share them with you here :)

A few years back I was at a party held by a guy I've known since I was 5. There were a number of people I hadn't seen in quite some time, and someone I got involved in a conversation with - a lot of catching up to do. I was talking about my daughter (Coral, duh!) who, as you may or may not realize, has a very distinctive name. Our conversation continued and I made some remarks about "Coral and I" or "Coral is" or Coral this or Coral that... whatever. There was a woman, an adult, I did not know standing on the outskirts of this small group - and as that phase of the conversation was ending she turned to me and said something about having just seen Coral at a party... some sort of innocuous statement that also had a proprietary feel to it - and I was confused.... and I asked "How do you know Coral?" and she responded, "My brother is her uncle. How do you know Coral?" To which I responded, "I'm her Mom. How do you know Coral???"

It turns out her brother was married to Coral's Dad's sister (Coral's aunt) but both sets of siblings were somewhat estranged... she'd just met Coral for the first time the previous weekend, and then we met for the first time at that party.

Secondly - this week I received a message from my most favorite barista on the world... she happens to live back in my hometown in California (HEY!) She sent me a flyer for a friend's band and told me I should check them out... why would she send me a flyer knowing I love on the other side of the world? Yeah, they were playing here, close to my flat actually. She's friends with the singer's brother who publishes a cycling magazine out of the East Coast... and the singer brother lives here in Prague - with the wonders of the internet she's up to date on his band's schedule and so giving me tips from back in CA. Lovely!!!

And then, a friend from my hometown who has relocated to LA just sent me a message introducing me to a friend she had met at a conference in the US who happens to live here in Prague, too. And then, I had classes with exchange students this past session who not only were from the same school as my cousin - but good friends with her as well.

There are more little things that remind me the world is so small... but I need to go back to bed - still sick, darn it!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

36 Bottles of beer on the wall....

Actually, today, no beer at all. I've lost my voice again, quite bothersome really. And it was my birthday - so I spent most of it in bed, resting up for an afternoon of fun and games with some friends.

the bottom of the chandelier 


the interior of the billiards hall 


This is a rather interesting and kind of funky place... I'll be there again and again and will continue to take pictures to give you a fuller feel for the experience. I've been a few times already, but have forgotten to bring my camera.

For starters - the door locks behind you when you enter.

You must collect a white ticket where your expenses are marked, and present it when you want to leave - they don't unlock the door until you've paid... you must be buzzed out of the building.

Inside you can find card games, pool, snooker, table tennis, bowling, pinball, foosball, a basketball shooting game, electronic darts,a boxing game, and supposedly a golf game somewhere too. There are various rooms and other devices I haven't explored yet, so I'm sure to come across more as time goes on.

Anyway - it's where I spent my birthday with my friends and a stranger or two. Not everyone was captured in a picture - most people weren't... these pictures are here are more to give you a feel for the place than any attempt at capturing the day.

Hope you're all as happy as mole in a hole. I've got a cold and now I'm going to bed.

My First Brunch

Last weekend I woke up Sunday morning and desperately missed my friends... so rather than sit around and mope about it I called a few people (texted rather) and invited them over for a spur of the moment brunch. It was quite last minute and I didn't actually expect any positive responses... but I was wrong. Everyone who was awake to get the message showed up - and it was great!

Here are a few photos from friends who stopped by for the first of what will be many regular Sunday brunches. You can click on them for a better view - I uploaded them differently this time and they're rather small. Live and learn. :)

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Emergency Care Clinic

Yes, this week I was introduced to my neighborhood emergency care clinic... it wasn't an emergency, I was just hobbling along and wanted something to wrap and support my ankle - let me back up a few days...

Last week it poured while I was out walking in some open leather shoes. The shoes were drenched and chafing my feet, so at the end of the night I had a total of 8 big blisters covering my right foot, and a lesser number on my left. Not necessarily a happy day. The following day I had to go out for another long walk and wore different shoes. Despite the the change of shoes those darn blisters were really hurting - so I was walking a little gingerly, trying not to aggravate them any further.

Which mean that my balance was NOT free flowing and centered as it normally would be, and while it was raining, again, I slipped and fell in to a big crack between some cobblestones, twice, while crossing the street. That is when I think I hurt my ankle. THINK, I say, because I'm not 100% sure, but I know it started hurting then.... but being the stupid person - stupid, not stoic as I'm too much of a wimp to be stoic, I overlooked the pain for a bit and continued on with life.... until Sunday when I was aware it was really hurting, and Monday when I actually payed attention and notice my ankle and leg were a little purplish and definitely swollen.

But, at that point, I couldn't walk. I would have had to be dead to not know something was wrong.

I was slowly making my way home when the gyros guy stopped me - I get gyros from them fairly often so we have a friendly wave and a smile sort of dynamic goin on. He asked what was going on and I asked him where I could buy a wrap - at the droggerie or at the lekarana? He told me to wait 2 minutes so I did, then suddenly the other guys were kicking me out of the shop so I left... and he was out there on the street - ready to give me direction - or so I thought. Instead he started walking and I had to follow, limping and gimping along. We walked round the corner, passed my flat, round another corner and then straight on until we reached the emergency care clinic.

He took me inside, located the English speaking doctor, and handled all the translations - the doctor apparently was a holistic doctor and said she couldn't help me as she didn't have any medications and I needed x-rays - I was able to so NO X-RAYS and he let her I know I didn't want medication, just a wrap for some support. So, she checked out my ankle, wrapped it up, and sent me on my way after refusing to allow me to pay her for the wrap... to pay her anything at all, actually.

And then the gyros guy - his name is Omar, he's from Algeria - walked me back home and went round the corner and back to work.

And that is my intro to emergency care.

big time... birthday blues

This weekend... this weekend marks a few milestones. Sixteen years ago today my brother was in a plane crash, two days later I had my birthday, two days after that my one and only child was born. This is the first year I will not spend this time with my family. Even then, when my brother had made it home, broken, and battered, he rested but was there through my birthday and then he made my parents bring him back to the hospital to see his niece.

The kid and I always have a week long celebration - indulgent but fun, it is full of love and affection. She is in the US and I am missing her terribly. Fortunately, on her end, she is surrounded by her family and friends and will have plenty of love headed her way.

I opted to stay here in Prague, take summer courses, and continue work at school. As it turns out - due to circumstances beyond control - those whom I care for most here will be gone. In fact, almost all the people I consider good friends here will be out of the city. And a few people, who I had considered good friends, are no longer the people I want around me... and the people I would really like to get to know better are also it will be a rather solitary experience. One I've not had. Ever. I don't mean I will be a hermit, there are things to do, events planned and such, but I usually spend my birthday, and hers, with the people who matter most... my family and a few close friends. And that is not an option this time around.

The closest is 16 years ago when I celebrated my birthday by going in to labor. I was home resting most of the day, and in the evening my water broke - but I wasn't in any discomfort, so we had my birthday dinner (I was told to abstain so I watched everyone eat)and then went off the the hospital. I came home later that night, but went back the next afternoon - and she showed up right after midnight on the 28th.

That was the most hectic of all birthdays - and the highlight. I can't think of anything that could top that as a birthday gift, belated, but miraculous and wonderous and continuously giving more and more and more...

Happy Birthday kiddo. I love you.

Monday, July 13, 2009

About last night.... sometimes I just like listening

Yesterday I hung out with some new Dutch friends and a few guys I've known a few months and have really come to appreciate and think of as 'real friends' - more than people who hang out cause you speak English and get along moderately well but still need stuff to fill your time together as you only sort of connect. In other words - I have strong affection and appreciation ( you both may be reading this... it isn't anything you don't already know.)

After dinner with a few more people who I don't know quite as well but whose presence I really enjoy - I was going to go home... instead I stopped by a party I had rather circuitously been invited too... a text from an acquaintence inviting me to a party at a strangers whose voice I'd heard a few nights before as he identified me at a meeting but with whom I'd not engaged with at that time.... I knew about the dinner invitation but had opted to stay with my friends - the people who matter, rather than the people I don't really know. However, on my walk home I gave a call and ended up walking past my house and on up to his.

I had already told someone (not involved in any of these events) that I was planning on an early evening as I'd had too many late nights too many times in the past week. I was wrong.

I met quite a few people completely disconnected from my social circle and enjoyed expanding upon the acquaintance dynamic with the few people I had met already... as I was getting ready to go I engaged in a conversation with this guy from Serbia. At some point he made a remark about having fought against Americans in the war - and I had to ask him his age as he looked far too young to have been active in that conflict.

It turns out we're only 8 days apart... his birthday is next week and mine the week after. (Side note - I swear - not smoking in a country full of heavy smokers preserves your appearance - but in relative terms - cause I can look in the mirror and to me I've aged drastically since I've been here!) We got started talking and talking, and he was probably the most fascinating and knowledgeable person I've had the chance to talk with in a very, very long time - not fascinating as in - he's an expert in this field with this degree and that title blah blah blah - like the people who are supposed to be fascinating and to who the term is applied to far too liberally, but fascinating as in, he spoke from experience balanced with knowledge gained through education and his personal passion, his ideas and theories were well thought out and more unbiased than I've been exposed to in a very long time, and the dichotic manner in which he has been forced to live his life would drive me crazy... And yet he spoke passionately and at length - but not too long, I could have continued the conversation but realized it was well after midnight and everyone there had work in the AM.

Every now and then something little happens and it makes me go - THAT is what I wanted when coming over here, THAT is what interests, THESE are the people and ideas that need to be raised up and attention given to, and THAT is what feeds me. This was one of those experiences.

I had ben introduced to him in a large group of people, with another man standing next to him. We talked for hours, literally as it was well after one when I got home, and he walked me back down the street (strip club central) and around the corner towards me flat on his way home too. Despite the length of time and the quality of our conversation I have no idea what his name is. None.

stripping for Unicef

No, not me... the people on the street today.

Actually, they were Unicef workers, finishing up their shift. As we stood at the tram stop they all decided to change. So guys yanked their shirts overhead and then fussed with their t-shirts buried deep in the bag... and girls kept their shirt cover their chest as they shrugged it off, overhead and through the armholes, their new t-shirt quickly in place - it was only a moment, a quick flash, but quite brazen nonetheless. Especially as right next to me was a police officer with a roaming, watchful eye.

Friday, July 10, 2009

mail call!

As you know I moved recently... as I've recently discovered - the mail-delivery person doesn't care to deliver my mail. So, please if you have a note or postcard or pictures or package or whatever - send it to my school address - contact me for that - cause otherwise it may take many months before your mailing surfaces... back at your home!

AND if you're a local - what in the world do I have to do to get them to deliver my mail??? My name is on the box - but the box remains empty and I have been told that mailings sent to me, here, have been returned. WHY???

Thursday, July 9, 2009

those super sneaky ticket checkers

I got checked today - hasn't happened in a while, and grateful I took the time earlier this week to renew my ticket after riding around for a few days with an expired pass...
(poor planning on my part - didn't realize there were a series of holidays and the ticket office was closed).

HOWEVER - those ticket guys are super sneaky!!!

He was dressed like a tourist - this old guy with sun glasses on his head, and one of those "I AM A TOURIST vests - 600 pockets and zippers galore... he even had an English language PRAGUE laminated foldable map sticking out of his pocket.... super, super sneaky!!!

So - watch out... cause they're totally in disguise!

Friday, July 3, 2009

1st catch-up attempt for you US-ians

so, i've been totally neglectful this past month... rather busy, missing coral, tryin to find my groove without the kid - don't really like that part of life :(

BUT here's a bit, a brief overview:

Back at the end of May I started and finished writing course through school - we attended the international writing festival here in Prague and the opening of Entropa (please goggle Entropa after you read this if you don't already know about it - it's crazy huge! like 4 stories or something!!) This course presented me a new challenge that had nothing to do with the curriculum or the events we attended - a very friendly acquaintence (we've shared quite a few conversations and have go to tea a few times after class... and this was our 3rd term together) apparently is fiercely anti-american... HATES americans and everything related to America... and is quite generally unhappy at the moment. Her emotional state and intense emotions were rather over-powering and difficult to take when seated next to her in a four-person class where we present and critique our writing.

Coral left and that was a bit of unhappiness for both of us.

I started a new course in intercultural communication - at first i was a bit resistant to the generalizations but am now seeing the truth in so much... and am trying to adapt my form of communication across cultural divides to increase my odds in my attempt to convey to my partner what it is that I mean in the context in which I mean it... I can try to explain later if you really care about it....

Made it to a few more couchsurfing events where I continue to have a great time and meet interesting people, am hosting a few more people which is always interesting. I got caught up in a group of 8 Brazilian travelers - 2 of whom I agreed to host, 1 of whom actually stayed here - across the 2 generations they were all awesome!!

Went to the opera - la Traviata - which was amazing. I can't say enough so I'm not going to say anymore.

My water broke - one morning it came out dark brown - the next morning there wasn't any water.... I have water now.

I moved - my mail is not coming to my new house... not my old mail and not my new mail so if you want to send me something you'll have to use my school address and if you want that ask me for it :)

I've been kind of sick and really really tired for a few weeks - can't seem to get enough sleep even when I stay in and go to bed early... which is really frustrating.

Had a major meeting at work (my univeristy job) and discovered that our Welsh review board is way cool and that the stress I was placed under and the extreme intense energy directed towards me during the prelude to their visit was extremely misguided but not unwarranted - although not for the reasons expected!

My two teachings jobs came to an end. I am really stressed out - I was given a verbal notice from Coral's school that they had made a miscalculation and I owed about 54,000 crowns, which is now down to 25,000-ish but still not at all cool in any remote possible way, especially as my income just ended.... I have gone on two 4 hour job interview type things and am hoping that the third one Monday will not only be much shorter but will also work towards confirming my in a position by the start of the following week.

Lots of celebrities died, there were 2 memorial services back home for women some outstanding well loved women, two of my favorite czech friends each had a grandparent pass, and my brother and his wife welcomed their second child. A cousin was married and another cousin is about to be. A third cousin may stop by for a visit. A high school friend who visited me earlier this year send his Mom over - and I had a nice visit with her Thursday night... I have to meet up with her again as she brought me some chocolate Jello pudding (yum!)

I know there's more, this is sort of the glossy version... but, that's what I offered here. Hope you're great - please let me know - I miss everyone, and today being the 4th of July is making me a bit homesick as that's the last big iconic party thing before I left... and I miss the California summer - this really marks the start for me, which will be followed by our birthdays and my grandparents' birthdays, my Grandma's visit, my sister's birthday.... and more.... things that are part of my idea of summer... over there.