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
  44. Take a French/German/Dutch course and SPEAK THE DAMNED LANGUAGE WHEN I HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY EVEN THOUGH IT MAKES ME SOUND LIKE AN IDIOT!
  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!)
Hug request
Thursday, 31 August 2006
Okay folks. So you crossed enough appendages to see my Dad through the angiogram. There’ll be a follow-up request for when he goes in for his bypass surgery within the next 30 days, but for the time being I’ve another request.

See, our family’s pretty…er…messy with regards to generation lines. You know those family tree diagrams that are usually so straightforward? Ours isn’t.

No, none of us are products of incest. That I know of anyway.

Dad had three children with his former wife (before Mum). They’re pretty old now ('cos he’s ANCIENT!) and they’re in the UK. We don't have MUCH contact with them, which is a shame, but when jokes go around (as they're want to do) I'm horrified astonished to find that a sense of humour is congenital.

As you know, Mum is in the UK too at present, but she’s staying with her side of the family.

So, to relieve Mum of some of the ‘burden of notification’, I (foolishly?) took it upon myself to inform my three half-siblings of Dad’s condition. I figured that they’d probably rather hear it from one of our nuclear family than wait until they see it on my blog (which I know some of the family read too – HI!).

But I fear that one of my half-siblings may have sent a letter to Mum asking why she hadn’t heard about the procedure sooner.

The joy of being a member of a family of letter-writers.

So, poor Mum has had to deal with a) not being happy in the UK, b) her dearly beloved going under a knife (well, saying ‘under a needle with a catheter doesn’t quite explain it) and c) her DD ‘selling out’.

ARGH.

I don’t think the remnants of the bottle of Port that Mike and I left in the computer room would be enough for me under those circumstances, so I think she needs a big ol’ virtual hug. Even if you’ve never met her.

Come on Altos (and Brett!). You know what to do.

P.S. I’ll be back to blogging about the centre of the universe soon, I promise. Just that nothing’s really happening in my gravitational pull. Besides which, if the centre of the universe can’t use her blog for parental benefit every now and then, what’s the point?

posted by Nomes @ Thursday, August 31, 2006   5 comments
“Oh, THERE’S the ‘heart’ thing!”
Sunday, 27 August 2006
While my mother larks about on ‘holiday’ in the UK, I sit and listen while presentations and posters are picked apart to the commad’th degree AND have discussions over the future of my training program in Estonia, and my brother weilds industrial tools in London, my Dad’s about to be strapped to a table in Australia to undergo a reasonably invasive cardio procedure.

Freaking out much?

It’s okay folks, he’s not had anything serious SEND him to l’hopital but he’s having an angiogram. Note, if you will, the current risk facts on that website (nlm.nih – I’m almost prepared to believe it’s a reputable source). Somewhere between 1:1000 and 1:500. It doesn’t take a genius to start worrying that that’s only JUST less than 0.2%. And the serious complications CAN be a stroke/heart attack (because, really, putting physical objects into your veins is just a silly idea people!).

I swear upon whichever book you hold dear (Lion, Witch & Wardrobe would be fitting) that if anyone harms my Dad, I’ll be back over in Australia within milliseconds (okay – not including the Heathrow security departure wait etc.) to make them hurt.

(the teenage lioness within REFUSE to stay quiet)

So, everyone, you’re under orders of the Nomes to keep your fingers crossed for the entire duration of Tuesday night (CEST)/Wednesday morning (AUS). Gottit? I don’t CARE if it’ll make typing difficult – it’s my DAD. The big D. The super-ego himself. The father of the centre of the universe.

And if that’s not important enough for you to risk a few typos – then PAH! Stop reading now, I don’t want your kind about.

(oh, and if you fancy holding your fingers crossed for Tues afternoon CEST, the future of my Epiet career may also benefit – but the Dad thing is far more important)
posted by Nomes @ Sunday, August 27, 2006   6 comments
I AMsterdam (apparently...)
Saturday, 26 August 2006
These dutch folk don’t need that whole ‘heart’ business, you can BE the entire city instead. To me, that means that I can simultaneously be:

  1. wafts of marijuana smoke.
  2. underdressed and overexposed in a red-lit window
  3. ogled at and possibly photographed by middle-aged American tourists whilst being 2 above
  4. a trendy bar
  5. an English pub – décor all brown – renamed a brown café
  6. a gay cocktail lounge with ‘luxury’ finger food
  7. a smelly canal with bits floating in the water
  8. a bridge with the most bizarrely decorated lights I’ve photographed yet (self-photography, since I now AM the bridge)
  9. a cool gym – albeit one that charges like the proverbial wounded bull to allow entry
  10. a leaning over, slightly squished in appearance, skinny house, with a dark façade made pretty by white trimming – crooked main beams are optional apparently
  11. an empty building for over a year – now inhabited by squatters, BY ORDER OF THE (er, not sure if it was the queen, but lets say so for arguments sake here)
  12. a mad cyclist
  13. the person sitting side saddle on the passenger rack of the mad cyclist
  14. a round building that looks like a public loo but is the opera building
  15. a ship with a mast up – despite low bridges (therefore, a conundrum to all who pass here)
  16. a magic mushroom
  17. a meal from any country you desire
  18. a knick-knack (probably farm animal related in shape, and possibly luminous in colour)
  19. a chained up bicycle, thrown over the railings hanging down towards the canal (you just know someone’s first words in the morning are going to be ‘for fuck’s sake!’ with the gorgeous Dutch accent!)
  20. a sea monster in a childrens park (there are loads of them around!!!)
  21. a streetlight hanging between the buildings on either side of the street
  22. a sunflower, growing straight up outside the door to an apartment (just the one, by itself)
  23. a bollard - painted maroony purple

I love this place. (er, how many places exactly have I NOT said that for, thus far, on the European Adventure?). Photos will be forthcoming when I have mega bandwidth with which to upload.

For many reasons. All of the above and then some more.

For instance, the oatmeal that Mårten makes me for breakfast. Just rolled oats and cold milk. That’s it. Nothing fancy here folks. Bless ‘im. He’s right – it DOES set you up for the rest of the day’s nutrition. One cannot help but stimulate the taste buds into paroxysms of ecstasy following the delicate breakfast (that resides approximately mid-stomach until about 4pm!). But hey…there’s a microwave here. And I use it.

The flat that Mårten lives in is GORGEOUS. It’s almost like he’s a real person (no, he’s not, he’s ephemeral!) – there’s a couch that’s comfortable AND pretty to look at, there are chairs in matching colours – there’s a RUG on the floor, and a PIANO!!! I KNOW! There are even plants. And a patio. *sigh* It’s beautiful. Of course, he’s paying – ooh – well more than a part-time admin assistant in Prague earns on it…so one must put things into perspective. *sob*

He has some lovely friends here too. I met my first ‘wine and food’ lover the other night – Michele. They do wine tastings where they actually spit the wine out. You KNOW that’s more class than we ever managed. So saying, they actually KNOW about the wines, instead of barely remembering how many bottles were consumed. And we ate steak!!! Perfectly cooked, and accompanied with a Chilean Carmenere. That finished off the rather gastronomical Wednesday I had: salmon salad for lunch at an ultra trendy – wouldn’t-be-out-of-place-on-the-Wellington-waterfront café/bar combination (I think that’s why it’s so comfy here – it’s familiar…I can eat/drink/socialise/dance in the same establishment all day!) that had so much salmon in it, I swear that I developed gills after consuming the lot. How trendy was the bar? There was a decibel measurer (there's bound to be a term...) set in exactly the right place in the room to detect whether the noise-level was dangerous…

Today, on the other hand, has been crazy weird.

First, I decided I’d embark on another European adventure, this one of a more personal nature. And this time, I wasn’t the only one who decided upon this. I’m not sure whether he’d be too pleased to read about himself here (although, being an attention-seeking Taurean as well, perhaps so…) just yet – so I’m not saying much. But my status is…subtly changed a little. Despite the 884kms that separate Prague from Amsterdam. Suffice it to say, my new Dutch vocabulary/phraseology, which includes “Dar ist een faast” (hideously incorrect now that Mårten has gone off to bed and babelfish is telling me crazy untruths) or ‘there is a party’ and the ever-hilarious “Mocconna haft mir mmmmmm…” means that I can communicate a variety of things by combining the two…mostly along the lines of “Dar is…mir mmmmmmm…..”. Don’t translate that at home, kids. (and a quick indignant “of course I didn’t say anything of the sort – as I had no reason to - for I am still as pure as the day I was born” to Dad!)

But, by the by, for those of you absolutely hanging on my every word to eke out meagre details: he’s absolutely lovely!! He even meets most of my high standards. But we'll see. Those 884km are long.

Following that: I receieved a schedule update, which had me down as having an Exit Interview at the upcoming training module in Tallinn (for which I should be practising my presentation now, instead of updating le blog).

Which was a little surprising (read: had me having kittens about bank balances, CV’s, places to live where I can communicate with people, plane tickets, my gear and a non-existent pension plan), as I thought I was merely having an ‘update’ style chat. Consequently: I sent an sms to the head coordinator and said, “er, this squeaky wheel has read she’s having an exit interview: is she going to be asked to leave the program?”.

Thankfully, he wrote back immediately, “NO!! You’re not allowed to leave!”. Which, instead of making me feel threatened and trapped, as it would some people, merely put the fear of the ‘tax bill’ into me – and so I’ll be saving up like crazy from now on. This might buy me a daily beer if I take a reel of string to the Albert in the train station in 40 years time…but damnit, that’s good enough for me!

Having had “kicked out of Epiet” images flashing (spinning newspaper headline style) through my mind for about an hour, we decided to put my mind at ease by distracting it with a movie (it was miserably rainy out – A’dam weather mirrors Wellington’s rather too closely for my liking). So we off’d to watch Volver. Unfortunately, while I knew that the original language was in Spanish, and Mårten knew that there would be Dutch subtitles, the two of us neglected to compare notes until the movie titles showed.

Thus, I sort of paid 10€ to snooze for two hours in an uncomfortable seat (but gorgeous theatre) while images of sandy, 70's Spain presented themselves to me. Sadly, it’s less an action than a dialogue flick, and when they started introducing ‘ghosts who aren’t really ghosts, but someone’s dead relative’s ex-housemate’ I got a bit lost between the languages (neither of which I know well enough to order coffee, let alone decipher an award winning movie!!).

The walk through town afterwards was more successful (coffee AND cake!) and culminated at the gym. Where we discovered that the interwebby had LIED to us the night before: the spin class was at 1900 not 1800. However, there WAS a yoga class at 1800 – so we could do that. The girl at the front desk had previously worked in the fashion retail industry (high end), she was so unhelpful I almost spoke to her in Czech. Take for instance, our conversation at the desk (blue for M, red for me, and puce for her),
“Oh, bother! The spin class is at 1900, despite the internet telling us otherwise. Which one is correct?”
“The internet must be wrong.”
*gasp* muttered “the internet is never wrong!”
“Hmm…I don’t really want to run and row for an hour THEN spin…I’ll die of sweating too hard.”
“Well, we should go do yoga beforehand…shall we?”
“Yes, lets.”
“Okay, can you let us in now please?”
“Not until you give me the entire content of your wallet, and your cashcard and PIN so that I can empty your account.”
“Um…could we get an additional free entry in case I want to come back with that amount of cash?”
“No.” accompanied by snort of derision.
“Perhaps, a free towel hire?” a look, “No, okay then.

5 mins later:
“Do we have to book bikes for spinning?”
“Yes.”
“Okay then. *pregnant pause* Could you obok me a bike please?”
“You can only book bikes within the 30mins prior to the class.”
“Um, but I’m going to yoga first…”
“Oh. Well in that case. What’s your name? Never mind, I’ll just put you down as English tourist.”

OUCH. I slunk off to be instructed by someone wearing reggae stripes down the outside of his pulled-up-to-shorts-height yoga pants, who had no body fat. Not in the same ‘stringy spin instructor from Prague’ way: but literally: no body fat. Not much body muscle tone either. In fact, I think even I could have drawn him for an anatomy class (had I ever had to take one), called him Bones, and been awarded with…whatever it is one’s rewarded with for successfully drawing a skeleton in a Uni anatomy class…

(note to self: think these through some more…)

Once my back had been stretched to within an inch of my full height (I love the full cascade of popping vertebrae as one does that back stretchy twist thing…I think it’s called: ‘bone xylophone posture’), I took myself off to the spinning class – early to make a good impression (read: to waylay the instructor and plead typical british foreign language ignorance). I tied my hair back, adopted the bandana/pirate look, adjusted the bike (different bikes…ARGH!) and started pedalling. All going well until someone comes in and takes the bike next to me.

I think: Dude, there are 15 other free bikes here…and you come sit NEXT to me? Have you ever spun before? Don’t you know how sweaty you’re gonna get?
I say: Hi.
The chick says: Hi. In a voice pitched a good five octaves below mine. Now, bear in mind this female was wearing a Miami bitch sloganned singlet, complete with cutouts on the ribcages, which allowed her unfettered breasts (the underside of) to be ‘just’ visible, with yoga pants and boxing boots, red lipstick and black eyeliner and you’ve got the idea.

Low voice.
Dresses like a woman (albeit none I know personally).

HAD to pick me to sit and spin next to, didn’t she?

I’m sorry…do I have a beacon that flashes out morse for “all those who are transgender, transdressing, or transloving, step right up…ask me to marry you, spin next to me, swap makeup tips with me!” in a disco beat? No biggie though: the sweat got too much for her at minute 6, and she took herself off elsewhere. *sigh*

(For the record: it's not that I have anything against trans-persons, but I'm bitter and twisted re a tranny-shagging ex-fiance - and THAT is fair unless you can trump me somehow: comments are available...)

I love this city. (I wish I’d had the opportunity to visit RIVM – it’s the place I’ve always wanted to work – since I knew of it’s existence! Maybe after Oct 2007...)

posted by Nomes @ Saturday, August 26, 2006   3 comments
Moments before departure...again!
Thursday, 17 August 2006
I’ve found a new distraction to play with…but I can’t write anything about it here just yet. Perhaps later. Or perhaps I’ll keep you all in suspense (oh come on, when have I ever managed to do that?).

Suffice it to say that I’m looking forward to this coming week.

A lot.

A whole lot. *bashful* Hi. My name’s Naomi, and I’m pathetic.

Anyway *shakes head*, moving right along.

As for the previous rant. Firstly, a quick thanks to all those who offered moral support and encouragement. I’m really amazed you managed not to say “but it’s a foreign country, Nomes, how could you expect it to be easy?” too frequently.

Secondly, it was officially the straw that broke the camel’s back that has now brought on more stuff-that-mustn’t-be-spoken-of in public just yet. Things are afoot. Though that upsets me for entirely different reasons (along the lines of me not liking having to ask for help – not to mention me not liking bawling my eyes out at a tram stop while hiccupping pathetically down a long distance line to Andreas).

Tomorrow I’m off to the UK: land of Boots (the chemist) and signs I can read. Mamma and G’ma are coming to the airport to collect me, and DJ Mike will meet us there. Then it’s a 2hr Nomes drive (so…er…1.5hrs, yeah?) to Ipswich, during which time I’m predicting at LEAST one argument about the volume level of the music (my pick – I’m driving – ha ha ha SUCKERS!) and many more about directions.

In the brief moments between arguments, I’m hoping that we stop somewhere (SERVICES! PETROL STATIONS! How I’ve missed thee!) for junk food that I can’t get over here. Crème eggs, crispy crèmes, crisps and coffee from Starbucks: here I come (I can hear my arteries singing in anticipated joy – while my sense of ‘stop globalisation’ shuts the hell up!).

Eventually we’ll get home, and immediately empty a bottle of wine between us – to rid ourselves of the immediate horrors of the trip. Yes, that’s right, we’ll all take turns emptying it onto the grass, for we’re all believers (and followers) of the responsible drinking campaigns. *nodding winsomely*

It’s not that I’ve done this sort of thing before – I just know my family.

Then the weekend’s hilarities really begin. I’m going to the UK for my G’mas 80’th birthday. Remember how I was telling you all about my insane family a wee while ago? Well she’s the head honcho. She’s the ‘big mamma’ of it all. We’re all just consigliere’s (who receives OED’s word of the day then?).

Of course, since we’re all similar, and there’s gonna be so many of us under the same roof…well…let’s just say you’ll have one of two things to read on Monday: the juicy goss of who did what to whom – or – deathly silence. As I slowly sink to the bottom of the north sea – having been pushed off a pier with my feet in blocks of concrete (I damned well hope those blocks are at LEAST in a mould borrowed from a reputable shoe maker!!).

Then I’m off to Amsterdam. I’m catching up with the divine Marten – of Cohort 11 and Hogmanay ‘06 fame. I can’t wait to see him again – because although we lazily explored Madrid together a few months ago - it feels like much longer has passed. Whether that’s because he wasn’t part of the recent wedding contingent or because I’m stuck in an 80’s time warp in Prague, I can’t be certain.

We’ll fly together from A’dam to Tallinn, where the next EPIET module is occurring (for all our darling EPIET groupies…we’ll be there all week!). I’m looking forward to seeing the gang again (it’s a wieldy 2-cohort meeting too, but that just means double the fun). I’m not really looking forward to the ‘constructive criticism’ that my poster and oral presentation will receive. I know it’ll be worthwhile, the final outcome will be much better than the start product, but at the same time, I take criticism like the Taurean snake I supposedly am (good Lord, if you check that link, methinks it's somewhat incorrect - one would hope the alternative: "she's a moody cow with multiple personalities all of whom have their own set of neuroses" option out there too!). Poorly. Right everyone-who’s-ever-met-me-in-real-life?

I’ll briefly spend another moment in Amsterdam (It’s a great shame ‘One Night in Amsterdam’ doesn’t quite fit the beats, isn’t it? “Get high, you’re talking to a tourist, who’s every move’s among the impurest…I get my kicks below the waistline sunshine…” etc.) on the way home. Whereupon I shall collapse onto my (still comfortable!) futon with a sigh, before getting up and starting the whole laundry debacle again.

I wonder which of my friends-I-haven't-seen-in-7-years will phone me while I'm away to inform me that they now have a wife and two (!!!) children, as occurred in Slovenia in the weekend (it's taken me this long to get over the shock). A big shout out to Moe if he's reading this.

And if all things go well up until this point (and I MUST put this get-out-of-jail-clause in because I’m nearly 30 and somehow that supposedly translates into "I must start being sensible about these sorts of things, despite my ridiculous nature saying optimistic things like “it’ll be fine” and “of course it’ll work out” amongst other, more terrifyingly unlikely scenarios it plays for me"), I might be hosting a visitor to Prague for a bit after I return. Hosting: as in proprietor, not escort.

Just to clarify.
posted by Nomes @ Thursday, August 17, 2006   2 comments
Tuesday, 15 August 2006
Warning: rant ahead. Bear in mind anything I say in the next entry may change in a split second. And I’ll probably take it down tomorrow – so make the most of the brief insight into Nomes’ state of mind IN REAL TIME while it lasts.

I HATE THIS PLACE AND I WANT TO GO HOME.

Army drill sergeant inside head says, “This is it baby. This is where you live now. This IS your home. Suck it up, you girl.”

Er – well, yes actually, I am a girl. Your point?

So, I forgot my keys – left them at home today. And the cleaning lady has already come and gone. And locked me into my building.

I have a choice: climb out of my office window – drop a few feet and hopefully land reasonably comfortably or call security and do this sensibly.
I (foolishly) chose the latter. Only, I’ve got no idea what the word for security is in Czech. Look up in dictionary. Check phone directory for our site. No match. Surprise sur-fucking-prise.

Phone a number that’s written on the fire evacuation plan thingy by the main door, figuring that’ll be SOMEONE helpful. Take a moment to congratulate self on masses of self-containment and observation skills.

Dial.

Have the most unsuccessful conversation I’ve ever, EVER struggled through. I’ve decided that tears of frustration at not being able to say the phrase “I’m locked in” really don’t help when you’re searching for the words instead to convey the following sequence of short ‘in the present tense’ phrases:

“I need help. I want to go home. I am in [or possibly at] building 30. I want to outside. I don’t have my key.” And are responded to with the words “I don’t understand.”

Am resorting to foul language – including Kunt with a C. Not CALLING him names, you understand (I totally agree it’s not his fault I don’t speak his language), this is AFTER we’ve hung up.

I’m sick of this. I’m tired and I’m done. I’m usually good at making myself understood, and I’m sitting here like a complete fucking waste of TIME, not able to use my brain, my intellect, ALL of the things that I’ve worked all my fucking life to hone because of some bastard fucking system that means I can’t read things/listen to things/think of things/act upon things in case people get upset. And to top it all off, I’m in a damned fire hazard/trap! ALL FOR 150E/month. It ISN’T worth it (though I would miss the travel).

You know what?

I want out.

I half hope the coordinators DO read this. Or some knight in shining white armour. Oh fuck it. This isn’t the movies (dear god, I wish it were…right now, someone would miraculously appear with a key. Either that or if the movie starred Meg Ryan they wouldn’t appear until AFTER I’d made an idiot of myself by getting stuck at the top of the fence or something…then there’d be an embarrassing interlude…where I’d STILL have great hair…)

Right. Window it is. Ciao all.

Remind myself that there is no such word as ‘helpful’ in the Czech lexicon. Seriously. Okay, I looked it up and there IS, but there's clearly no...no...willingness.

P.S. if any of you unhelpful wankers decide to remind me that it’s my fault for forgetting my keys, don’t think I haven’t already gone down the self-blame route. Did that about 40mins ago. Now am just angry (and slightly scared of view outside my window – do I procrastinate until it’s dark or just go or what? PLUS I have one more fence to climb over too…) This is ridiculous!

Rant endeth.
posted by Nomes @ Tuesday, August 15, 2006   7 comments
Don't tell me it's over, I'm not sure I can bear to hear it.

I had such a fabulous time this weeked. I’m not sure whether it was because I was in ITALY *squeal*, eating a lot of ice cream (we’re talking a Nomes’ ‘lot’ here…), hanging out with the grooviest people (Lisa, Lisanne and Andreas), eating gooooooood food (salmon, we love salmon, and roasted eggplant on kebaby things…yum!), not being around smokers (I can breathe, I have a sense of smellhmmm…hello, you smell nice…), able to justify wearing foolishly high heels for a day (and even better: not breaking anything!), celebrating a good friends success (wedding) or making new friends (hi! You know who you are!).

Whatever it was, it was divine. Yes: diviiiiine I tell you.

Now I’m back. Back to the land of:

  • awful haircuts/dyes (yesterday, at Jim’s, I spotted a new one: the pheasant look - where some people might crimp their hair (in a moment of dementia - obviously), this girl had permanently dyed hers blonde (faux, so faux) and put brown spots in it – just like on a pheasant’s body, THEN crimped it),
  • smoke (get your cheap lung cancer here),
  • bad fashion sense (stonewash, how I didn’t miss thee),
  • atrocious personal hygiene (come on people, if garlic soup is gonna be your national food, how about making swimming your national sport – or something that is likely to rid your skin of the stench of your three-day unwashed body every now and again?),
  • bad skin (was there a dioxin spill lately?),
  • rickets (it’s called vitamin D folks, your tanorexia isn’t from the SUN then huh?) and
  • bone density issues (the elderly are immensely frail here – no surprise given the food quality/availability during the communistic period – but it means you’re on a zimmerframe from about the age of 50 here).

Not to mention; heroin abuse paraphernalia greeting me on the stairs up to my apartment (apparently, our stairs are now THE place in town to shoot-up…good to know, good to know *whites of eyes showing*). The boys made good friends with neighbouring pushers and pimps (go you good things, go) and successfully chatted up the staff at the dirty Herna bar/crack den next door. Welcome home.

Oh, but the architecture. *rapture* Keep your eyes focussed on the parapets (and other high architectural words).

This trip to Italy was my first. From the moment I reached my gate in Prague – ready to board my super cheap, super bad-for-the-environment flight (still, hello? super cheap!) – I was the worst dressed person. And possibly the only non-Italian. Coincidence?? Sure, the mullet still prevailed, even on the boys who were (successfully) hiding their oversized hand luggage behind their skinny hips in the queue. ('Before’ the airport debacles resulting from Friday’s-UK-terrorist plot-threat-uncovering.)

I, meanwhile, was sincerely hoping that my poor, unadorned (ie. unlocked), lonely sports bag (9kg people, 9!) made it through to the other side without hands going through my clean underwear, drugs being dumped in it (a la Corby) my makeup being nicked.

It made it - I made it. To the land of the Vespa.

On the bus from the airport to the town, I figured out why the Italians are so romantic. They make seats too small. The bus was outfitted with those ‘1.5’ seats. I could sit on one with a small child next to me and neither of us would feel crowded. I could sit on the lap of the adult sitting next to me, and we’d be comfortable, close, and probably married by the next morning (or in church confessing our sins, perhaps). But my hips and (even) his (skinny) hips were not about to nestle willingly side by side. Oh no, ONE of us was gonna have to do the ‘support your body weight by doing a continuous ‘squat’ on one leg like a demented ballerina’ thing. Guess who?

I stood.

There’s a distinct difference between the Italian language and the Czech language (apart from the obvious fact that one stems from Latin and the other from “русский язык” or thereabouts, at any rate). One language is atonal, delivered in a never-ending stream of words, sounding a bit like a Gatling-delivered barrage of information (if only you had the cipher to figure it out). The other is all about music. This is where the word Ciao (four letters, mind) can be said in the full tertian sonority (!) of Db major. It’s beautiful to pretend to pronounce listen to, despite not understanding any of it (except ciao, grazie, prego, and per favore…oh, and gelato!). Every other garden (en route to city) seemed to be filled with vineyards (!!), and these were interspersed with gardens full of corn plants (“Corn on the cob and wine for dinner Luigi?” “Per favore!” “Prego.” “Grazie.” “Gelato?” “Ciao.” – see? I was fine with my limited vocab!). Each house was painted in the ‘colours of tuscany’ (TM Dulux) range, it just felt like it was Italy.

It was just rather unfortunate that the first industrial flag-carrying indications of having landed on Italian soil (water?) was a FIAT show room. However, within the following 500m, it was superceded by the Ducati showroom…*drool*...

…AND we hired an Alfa Romeo 159 (the joys of being permanently carless – you get to pick and choose when you hire a car) which was okay, but not as great as driving our little Škoda Fabia that we took to Berlin (for some reason – diesel?). Just in case you’re in the market.

Venice. Is. Stunning. Of course, the bit that I saw was from the Piazzale Roma around the outside of Venice to San Marco, then up the grand canal. All for a measly 5€ and a bit of a flirt with the water taxi driver, “I should stay here? Right here? Oh, where you can keep an eye on me and play that ridiculous ‘I’m in a jail cell’ game with your hand on the window pane that separates us?”. *pause for thought* Hell, it IS only 5€, hand me that receiver!

This high-speed island tour was conducted because we were collecting the car to drive to Grado: a small town on the coast – north of Venice (there was a jpeg map complete with hand drawn arrows, time to: and dates but it wouldn’t load properly on Thursday) for the evening. And thankfully, that highly desirable sea stench, you know; the mix of diesel, rotting fish and brine, was present whole way.

I hadn’t realised how much I miss, I would miss, and I have missed the sea.

Grado to Ljubljana – and the rain. Oh my goodness did it ever rain. The temperature dropped to the mid-teens and we were more than a little concerned for our ‘going to be’ bare legs for the wedding. We’d freeze. Am VERY glad I packed a long jacket.

The wedding: beautiful. Varya will definitely keep Maarten in line. The atmosphere (despite being terribly damp) was friendly and warm, especially once people actually started mingling (reception) instead of standing in the “ooh, someone I know!” clumps that we tend to aggregate into. We were ‘sat’ at dinner, and Maarten did his job brilliantly of putting the two single girls (Lisa and myself) on the table with the best looking blokes. All of which (except the ones under the age of 16!) had girlfriends already, damnit. But he made the effort. I was sat between two lovely tall dutch ex-rowing-friends-of-Maartens (why, hello!) and I had a thoroughly delightful time (remember: they had girlfriends, not to mention my Dad reads this – hi Dad! – so no salacious gossip to report, sorry! Will try to do better next time!). Best speech award goes to Maartens oldest younger brother (15) who currently displays all of the high-self-esteem that expat brats grow up with (it’ll all come crashing down around his ears when he hits his 20s) and played the piano in the morning over breakfast (Maarten informs Lisa and I we’re to keep our predatory intentions well away for another three years…).

Then Trieste, where Andreas had found us a hotel on the waterfront. We swung the double doors out onto our balcony (okay, the hotel was expensive, so we were sharing rooms…trainee salaries, remember?) and overlooked the entire harbour. It was a stunningly beautiful place for my tired hangover (I was tired of HAVING the hangover, at any rate) and to wear the remainder of my cleverly packed wardrobe (I brought it, damnit, I’ll wear it!).

The trip home was relatively lonely. The train to Venice was a mite painful – with the only available seat being in a carriage full of school children. I played peek-a-boo with some (“Dear God, I’m sorry for what I did, honest, and I promise never to do it again, just let them leave me alone to my book and miPod, please?!”) and then fully entered the spirit of things from my third replacement seat (couples everywhere – and they wanted to sit next to each other? “Er, it’s a 1h50m train ride…you need to sit…okay, fine…have my seat, just snog quietlyplease?”) when the kids initiated a carriage based game of balloon ‘upsies’.

Then the plane to Prague. At the airport, after my last gelato of the holiday (it had to be done!), I followed the large collection of stonewash wearing mullets at the airport, who were intermingled with a bunch of ‘natural shade’-shirt-and-shorts-combination-with-hiking-boots wearing English speakers with guide books and knew I was at the right place.

And now, the laundry is clean, the bag is unpacked and stowed (will need larger one for the upcoming travels) and I need to check my flights (to avoid sudden panic/adrenalin rush of last Wednesday evening). The shopping’s done, I went and saw Jim last night, and all in all: I hate the crash landing after a weekend like that.

Thank Fugu for links like this in my Inbox this morning…else I’d never have made it through the day! (hint: ignore the arrow in the middle of the picture – use the big “play” button underneath!)

posted by Nomes @ Tuesday, August 15, 2006   0 comments
"One wedding, no funerals..."
Wednesday, 9 August 2006
I'm really glad I checked my itinerary and stuff for my flight times on Friday THURSDAY!!!! (ie. tomorrow!)

So: tonight: I'm gonna quickly catch up with Joseph (who has returned to the city of golden towers or whatever the hell this place is supposedly nicknamed - and is staying in my room while I'm gone) and Marketa too (who I haven't seen in, ooh, about that many months) AND collect wine glasses (riedel - who stupidly volunteered to be a kuryr?), wrap them, do a wash load, aim hairdryer at the clothes, and PACK!

Am so glad I didn't know about this when I went to see Jim today. It meant I could totally concentrate on stringy-boys blue eyes instead. Yes, my Wednesday class is THE ONLY class I wear my contact lenses for! AND (bless 'im) although he's changed his music selection for the class, he's left in my two favourites (Love Generation and Raining Men (if you need the link for that one, I'm not talking to you ever again!)).

So, having looked up maps and tourist information (where are we going again? and how are we getting there? train - you say...), checked the currency (not the Euro) and read a bit more about the country, I'm feeling a little more relaxed. It'll be fiiiiiiiine (Mum, you know exactly how this is enunciated...). Yes, damnit, it will.

Itinerary (for those who may need to "stop that plane!", "follow that plane!" or otherwise make some dramatic self-proclamation of undying affection/lust (I'm not gonna hold out for the big-L, I'm feeling too cynical for that at the moment) OR more likely for those who wonder whether the plane that gutted itself on the tarmac in a 'sudden deceleration, the end of which was due to gravity' contained yours truly...):

10 Aug 2006 - QS0014 - Prague-Venice 12:00-13:10
10 Aug 2006 - CAR - Venice to "a beach village" 17:00 - we get there
11 Aug 2006 - CAR - "a beach village" to Ljubljana when we damned well feel like it
12 Aug 2006 - WEDDING
13 Aug 2006 - CAR - Lubljana-Trieste
14 Aug 2006 - TRAIN - Trieste-Venice 08:26-10:17
14 Aug 2006 - QS0015 - Venice-Prague 13:40-14:50

Am a bit worried about the weather...it's looking particularly crap for silk dresses and jackets purchased on e-bay!
posted by Nomes @ Wednesday, August 09, 2006   2 comments
Too much, too little, too late...
Tuesday, 8 August 2006
...am in a mood for the word "too". Mainly because those that know the difference between "to" and "too" remain high on my Christmas card list. Not that I ever actually send the Christmas cards, but some people ought to just be happy that there's a few cards addressed to them in a drawer of Nomes's somewhere...

Mamma has just left. The SMS silence is ominous. I checked - the Sleazyjet flight she was on has arrived in Stansted (which, despite all airport letters descriptions to the contrary, I am informed is NOT in London). It will be very weird not to have her around again. And to sleep in my own bed! However, the foldout couch in our tiniest of tiny lounges (me and Memnoch - shoudler to fingertip + tail to nose would be longer than our lounge is wide) has now been 'sleep tested' and despite the fact that I now know the names of all of the 5:00am rubbishmen (two floors down, Jirka's little boy is doing well now that he's out of hospital - thanks for enquiring - and Libor's father is off the painkillers too) is sufficiently comfortable to offer to others.

Am going to have to kick this inability-to-sleep habit at some point. Am grossly incapable of sleeping with anyone else anymore:
If they mutter, I wake instantly and fully, expecting to be delivered a witty, well-composed monologue.
If they roll over, I'm intrigued with the movement, certain that gravity can no longer keep one so motile attached to the bed. I remain awake for a full 5mins to make sure they don't fly away.
If they snore, I simply seethe, incapable of matching their (usually) syncopated snores to some hidden drum and bass track in my 'reptile' brain.

All of which keeps me from experiencing that delight of delights, the french patisserie of winceyette, the knedlicky of the conscious state: SLEEEEEEP!

Blessed art thou who utter nothing, who lie terribly still and who don't so much as snuffle in their sleep - for they are invited into my parlour.

This spider's off to go catch some Z's. She wishes.
posted by Nomes @ Tuesday, August 08, 2006   0 comments
Where have I been?
Wednesday, 2 August 2006
Have become addicted.

Jim.

Final Fu.

I blame them (both and equally) for my silence.

Mamma arrives tomorrow. Eeek!

But onto happier news. David owes me $100: Z hasn't called (as if I expected him to: Pah!), which is convenient, because I've officially now got too much music and have had to spend the ENTIRE day pushing half of it onto the server at work (which isn't even big enough for it all). I need to buy an external, portable hard drive. I'm looking at this one. To which my $100 can go towards.

Merci beaucoup sweets.
posted by Nomes @ Wednesday, August 02, 2006   4 comments

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