The Adventure Continues...

Rants, raves and random observations from an itinerant epidemiologist.

100 in 1000
  1. Spend a week up a mountain learning to ski
  2. Visit Karoline's place in Moravia
  3. Hold a conversation in Czech (only)
  4. Drink 500ml of each of the following beers:
    1. Pilsner
    2. Staroprammen
    3. Budvar
    4. Velke Popovice
    5. U Fleku
    6. Gambrinus
    7. Krusovice
  5. Respond to at least one GOARN request (WHO and MSF are also acceptable)
  6. Travel across the Atlantic
  7. Return to South America
  8. Read a book to, or with, an impressionably aged child
  9. Participate in one NanoWriMo Challenge and come within at least 10,000 words of the goal length
  10. Have my nose pierced
  11. Have my next tattoo drawn
  12. Purchase the perfect jeans (x 2 pairs)
  13. Attend a spin class 3 times a week for 8 consecutive weeks
  14. Bake Viv's cheesecake
  15. Make David's casserole
  16. Make David's Chicken Cashew-nut Stirfry
  17. Invite 4 people who don't know one another too well to dinner
  18. Ride from Vienna to Venice on a motorbike (pillion acceptable, those less desirable)
  19. Attend a book group for at least two books
  20. Go on a choir weekend (learn and perform difficult piece in two/three days)
  21. Visit Madame Tussaud's (in London)
  22. Take an architecture appreciation course
  23. Join an all-girl group and sing a solo
  24. Publish in a scientific journal (top two authors)
  25. Cook a duck or other 'waterfowl'.
  26. Locate the Al-Timimi's from Doha Veterinary Practise
  27. Have a pedicure
  28. Maintain a Brazilian (ouch) for three months.
  29. Find a trustworthy Czech hairdresser
  30. Treat my inner-6-year-old twice a week (at least)
  31. Do the liver-cleansing diet properly (12 weeks)
  32. Don't eat out for one month
  33. Find a flat and flatmate
  34. Purchase one Joseph sweater
  35. Purchase one of the following pairs of designer shoes (they MUST also be COMFORTABLE, and be able to be worn with 4 different outfits and 2 types of occasion): Jimmy Choos, Manolo Blahniks, Christian Louboutin (Ebay or 2nd hand are acceptable)
  36. Send 5 books to the booksphere and track them.
  37. Go hanggliding
  38. Read 10 'classic' books (from 1001 Books to Read before you Die)
    1. Moll Flanders
    2. Everything is illuminated
    3. Madam Bovary
    4. Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance
    5. Catch-22
    6. Odysseus
    7. On the Road
  1. Run (non-stop!) for 5kms outside (preferably in a street race thingy)
  2. Send Christmas Cards on time
  3. Make a collage/mural out of street lights on my wall
  4. Buy a bed, build it, and sleep soundly in it
  5. Go to Africa
  6. Host an 'event' (classified as and when)
  7. Organise a 30th Birthday Party
  8. Wear a costume
  9. Sing on stage
  10. Buy a painting that evokes memories of Prague (cannot involve queues!)
  11. Learn a god-damned card game that stays in my memory (other than fish/snap)
  12. See sunrise. Be sober. Have woken for it. Excludes months Nov-Mar
  13. Take a walk and flip coins at each intersection
  14. Win something
  15. Draft a will
  16. Take a roadtrip
  17. Go to Italy already
  18. Sea Kayak around Abel Tasman Park (NZ)
  19. Get plants
  20. Take a train to another Eastern European Destination (accession countries are acceptable) alone preferably.
  21. Get UK to give me a provisional motorcyclists license and simultaneously get a 'card' license.
  22. Go SCUBA diving again - at least two dives lasting 30mins each.
  23. Go to a dentist. *sigh*
  24. Do a Czech Wine Trail. And live to tell the tale
  25. Make an 'outbreak emergency kit'.
  26. Go to bed prior to 11pm every night (inc weekends) for four consecutive weeks.
  27. Marvel over lack of tiredness
  28. Dine at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant (or Nobu)- preferably for free.
  29. Bet on the nags
  30. Do something for charity (applying and getting a 'red card' will count)
  31. Walk along the Champs Elysee
  32. Do 100 sit ups in a row
  33. Do 50 pressups (arms in tight)
  34. Make branston pickle (or nearest substitute)
  35. Cook something 'new' and 'adventurous' at least once a month
  36. Find a mentor
  37. Be a mentor
  38. Learn what mentoring is all about
  39. Meet an online person in real life
  40. Resist the flirt. Once. Just one night. It's okay if people don't immediately succumb to my natural charm. Really it is.
  41. Spend time at a spa (spa towns in the CR don't count)
  42. Send a care package to someone
  43. Get a Tata Bojs CD
  45. Order new contact lenses.
  46. Make a list of things I take with me when I pack for different occasions
  47. Eat lobster. Prepared by someone else.
  48. Back up the blog
  49. Put everything onto an external hard drive
  50. Find a DDR mat and console and 'dance, I say dance!'�
  51. Go to the beach and lie on the warm sand. For an hour. (with sunscreen on, natch)
  52. Take and complete a course in either: Tango, Salsa or Flamenco
  53. Join the Municipal Library of Prague
  54. Move to another country
  55. Go to a live concert of a band I actually like
  56. Pay off debts (student loan excl.)
  57. Send thank you cards for every gift I receive (other than the gift of happiness, blah blah blah).
  58. Get an agent (literary or theatre)
  59. Go to a sports bar without cringing, by personal choice
  60. Ride a rollercoaster
  61. Hold a snake
  62. Spend a day wandering around a museum (not art gallery!)
The sound of bubbles bursting
Saturday, 22 October 2005
You know, it’s very difficult for me, writer in Prague, to pitch to you, darling readers everywhere, the nightmare and lottery-winning joy that was my Friday, ESPECIALLY without writing an additional thesis (thanks to DJ Mike who copy-pasted and word-counted my blog to reveal it’s stature as a book half the size of my leather bound thesis!) and put you all to sleep. So, I’m gonna list them. Sorta.

Episode –0.5 (Thursday, conversation with boss)
Good: Boss tells me health insurance will be sorted out as soon as I sign my contract
Bad: contract still unsigned
Good: am in good health and no reason to suspect change in circumstances

Episode 0.25 (Friday)
Good: woke up early, before alarm
Bad: with a UTI.

Episode 1.
Good: went to first czech lesson
Bad: they’d all started three weeks previously and the teacher for the first 90mins spoke no english
Good: I followed as best as I could, and apparently, my dictation is pretty good – which means I recognise the sounds of the letters pretty well
Bad: I felt like a complete IDIOT (despite the letters after the name) and didn’t have a workbook like all the other kids
Good: I got through the second lesson (teacher DID speak some english) conjugating verbs for the right tense AND the right pronoun (which they don’t use here) even making up sentences above and beyond the call of duty (I had to re-balance the scale of course!)
Bad: I caused the teacher to miss 10mins of class as she went and photocopied me stuff
Good: she suggested I went to the main building and request a workbook
Bad: the main building was on the other side of town
Good: the secretary was in
Bad: he wouldn’t give me a book without seeing the piece of paper indicating my enrolment (at home, why would I need it since I’d enrolled the previous day, surely the enrolment people would tell the teachers?)
Good: I had my student ID
Bad: that was insufficient
Good: he could call the enrolment lady downstairs and ask
Bad: she was at lunch
Good: he could call someone at payments
Bad: no, he couldn’t, and I couldn’t wait till after lunch as he’d finished work for the day
Good: I asked how we could solve this problem
Bad: he said I could return on Monday
Good: I pointed out that, being three weeks behind, I wanted the book for the weekend to catch up
Bad: he wasn’t persuaded.
Good: I felt anger fuelled by frustration, told him where to stick his damned course, his crappy language and his f*cked up university and stormed off
Bad: he called me back
Good: he gave me a book, and wrote down my name to check with the enrolment lady downstairs
Bad: after leaving his office, closing the door, I realised I’d just bullied someone for the first time in my life, and promptly burst into tears of self-disgust, remorse, fear and general “what the prague am I doing here?”ness.
Good: there was no one in the corridors so there are no witnesses to the snotty, teary-faced monster that sat on the couch outside the office.

Episode 2.
Good: listened to calming music on train and went to work, tear-stained but bemused at having recognised an emergent pattern (I’ve had two real jobs so far, and both times, I’ve had mini-breakdown on first Friday, around lunchtime.)
Bad: I still hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast, and it was now 2:00ish (so you can imagine my general disposition!)
Good: my boss enquired as to how I was...
Bad: my tears resurfaced, and I mumbled, blathered and wept into tissues while explaining it all (inc. UTI, lack of $$, crap czech course, nowhere to live etc)
Good: he asked Martinka to write a prescription for his wife for antibiotics which I would then get filled and use for myself, and Olga if she’d mind spending 20-30mins a day with me to sort out my beginners Czech until I’d caught up to the class, and took me to the kitchen and made me eat my sandwich and banana while he taught me swear words (which I’ve forgotten, but ‘te vola’ is used as ‘dude’ in colloquial conversation fyi).
Bad: I looked a fright and felt embarrassed to be such a ninny
Good: he reminded me that I’m allowed to say anything because I’ve no one else to tell and sometimes life gets do je ůsti (doy ye oosti) = too much.
Bad: (it’s actually quite hard to find the bad in this bit) I still felt an idiot
Good: he then told me that my temporary accommodation was sorted (Nov 1-12) and my permanent accommodation after that was also guaranteed for two years (post-grad flat in Prague 8 apparently)
Bad: I felt an idiot for being overwhelmed
Good: he pulled out my computer, which has a DVD player and writer, and we played with the infra-red feature, sending photos from both our phones to the computer (easily…it works really well) and yes dears, his eldest son IS hot! J
Bad: he and Marta left for the weekend
Good: he told me that if I have any problems, or any ideas for a Nobel Prize, I can call him at any time!

Episode 3.
Good: went home via supermarket to pick up 1l of milk and supermarket was filled with the aroma of JUST baked croissants (so one of those as well!)
Bad: stood in queue for 35mins (SERIOUSLY, a remnant of the soviet era methinks, these people queue more than the Brits) while people in front paid with food stamps (and I’m sure I saw some string there too) and my croissant got soggy from steaming up the plastic bag they put everything into
Good: Lekarna (pharmacy) next door…
Bad: they didn’t have ofloxacin (I mean, come ON!!!)
Good: they thought I was Czech and spoke a gazillion words at machine gun pace (no inflection though, it’s quite hard to distinguish words) telling me something perhaps,
Bad: i had no idea what they were telling me and just put a ‘pah!’ expression on, said Dobře den in a sour voice and wandered out, shaking my head to convey a “what sort of a Lekarna is this, anyway?” message
Good: I went home instead and collapsed with coffee (yay, milk!) and flatmate offered to show me other Lekarna
Bad: other Lekarna closed (Pondéli-Patek, 8am-6pm, it was now Patek at 6.15pm)
Good: remembered where other lekarnas were in 3 block area
Bad: they were all closed too
Good: one had a sign on it for a ‘non-stop lekarna in Paleckeho (they don’t bother with st, ave, cres, dr, gr etc here)
Bad: didn’t have map with me (since ‘knew where I was going’)
Good: there was one on the street by the metro station, went and checked where to go, and found pharmacy, gave them piece of paper
Bad: could tell they wanted to know who the drugs were for (script written for an MD, so cheap drugs, but also a Czech name, so obviously not for me)
Good: have been in SO many games of charades that telling them: ‘they’re for someone else who would like instructions in English but can’t come in to the pharmacy herself’ was not an issue…
Bad: decided to celebrate my success by finishing the other two sides of ‘the block’ which should’ve had me end up on a street near home…but didn’t, I was lost
Good: there was a guy ahead looking at a map, and as I approached, he turned and said “do you know where I am?” at the same time as I said “Can I borrow your map for a moment?”. Turns out he was a BBC television editor, on 3 months travelling around eastern europe who just HAPPENED to be a dead ringer for Jude Law.
Bad: (I know…how could this be bad?) he was travelling with his girlfriend!
Good: he walked me home
Bad: he’d just had his hair-butchered (rather than cut) by a crazy czech woman apparently, which is definitely scaring me off letting anyone other than George touch it
Good: talking to him about why I was here reminded me of how privileged I am, and how ‘right’ I am for this placement and how lucky we (the institute, epiet AND I) are to have got the combination correct, so started to feel better about my day (yes, yes, almost a ‘touched by an angel’ moment, I know…)
Bad: I didn’t get a number/e-mail address, nada!
Good: I did get a kiss on either cheek (I know, this IS europe and it IS the done thing, but we were still ostensibly two brits who knew each other not at all!) and he was really, really yummy; so I had a big grin on my face for at least an hour after that!

Episode 4.
Good: decided to put music and data files from iPod to computer
Bad: computer wouldn’t recognise iPod
Good: for assistance
Bad: all advice presented included, ‘reset iPod to factory default, thereby losing all your data/songs’
Good: I figured out a work around
Bad: it took me 4 hours to figure out HOW to do it
Good: It worked – finally – so I transferred files across, downloaded some software, wiped iPod and restored it, and then put all songs back onto it
Bad: by the time I finished, it was 6:30am
Good: er, I was finished and everything worked fine!

So yeah. That was Friday. Talk about tumultuous! I was knackered, both physically (good to know I can still DO all-nighters, but really probably quite unnecessary too) but I’d managed to make myself a good dinner, have a chat with Grandma, and briefly call Morten to offer congrats for his successful thesis defence in amidst all that. Woke up at lunchtime on Saturday feeling tired but better aligned with the universe.
posted by Nomes @ Saturday, October 22, 2005  
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