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!)
Geneva: big city attitude in a small town
Friday, 29 September 2006

What a peculiar place. For a start, no one REALLY lives there. Everyone’s on some form of temporary contract with a UN-type agency. Even the waiting staff are diplomats (in the same way that Los Angeles waiting staff are actors). The only people who speak fewer than three languages are the British (of course) because even the American’s have done their bit by learning Spanish and speaking a bit of French. Of course, American accented French is a bit hard to follow…and painful on the ear even to me…but they’re still putting us Union Jack wavers to shame.

Just as well I can all of a sudden change allegiance and become a Kiwi again then, huh?

The lights in the old town were just insane. I’ve never seen any like them. And even more disappointingly, I never saw a single one that didn’t have a backdrop of tram lines or buildings (mainly because they’re street lights for dwarves…I could have touched them): which meant no clear shot for my wall of lights.

And you KNOW, without any shadow of a doubt, that to stand somewhere inappropriate to take a shot would have had me in jail sooner than you could have said “I was only jaywalking!”. It may be illegal in some places, but this is the first city I’ve ever been in where it FELT illegal. Everyone waits patiently (not in the same “Oh god, we’re waiting again” way as the Czechs, but more a “these are the rules we’ve agreed to abide by, so abide by them we shall” approach) on their side of the road until the little man goes green, even if it’s the middle of the night, on a street closed for roadworks!

But then, since it’s also illegal to flush your toilet after 10pm if you live in an apartment…I guess the Genevites (Genevieves?) somewhat accustomed to rules and regulations governing their lives.

It was nice to be in amongst a foreign language that was comprehensible again. I mean, I know my Czech has come a long way (it would be impossible for it not to have), but I can actually listen to French and understand a modicum of it. Occasionally I’ll even store up sufficient bravery to stammer a few words. Which is exactly what I did when I sat down at a small café in a square on top of a hill in the old town part of Geneva. The waiter approached and said Bonjour. I did the same and then followed with a “eeeh…je voudrais chocolat chaud du maison, s’il vous plait.” Where the ‘eeeh’ at the beginning was merely an affectation, and not because I was thinking how to phrase my request. It was all but automatic.

This bodes poorly for a return to the CR, whereupon I shall no doubt start my sentences in French. WHY?!? Because my poor, underdeveloped language cortex has smidgens of two languages, and it can’t quite separate the two just yet. It’ll get there. I’m told.

There are three things the Swiss appear to be famous for: knives (Swiss army – remember?), watches (clocks are EVERYWHERE in Geneva – there’d be no excuse for ever being late!) and chocolate. Which means that should you ever stab someone with the ‘removing a stone from a horse’s hoof’ accessory of your Victorianox for attempting to steal your bonbon (and they’re expensive, the attack AND defence are understandable) then you’d be able to quickly check the time and develop an alibi. This is when the ‘private banking’ system comes into play: you can always say you were with your private banker, discussing confidential matters and he’s obliged to agree. Perfect.

Then you’d be on the bus that heads for “United Nations”. And I swear, if I ever thought my 5th Form Geography class was like the Security Council (one Chinese person, NEVER went along with the rest of us) then these bus journey’s are even worse. In any given fraction of a second, you can see all races of the world represented (there may have been a paucity of Eskimo’s, but I’m sure I saw one!) and nearly all languages spoken (except the supposedly unifying Esperanto, of course).

But when you get to the UN offices, do be careful where you sit your arse. While mine spread due to consumption of the most delicious baguette in the world (hot, ‘baguette avec multicereales’ upon which brie had been liberally sliced, topped off with fresh vine-ripened tomatoes and Serrano ham), I watched the world go by over the top edge of my “The Times” (oh god, I miss newspapers). One incident I saw had me slackjawed. So we all know that I live in dodge central, well, there I was, sunning myself by Lac Leman, when a gentleman approached. Mid-30’s, tanned, self-assured, cords and shirt combination with sensible walking shoes. Could’ve been anyone. Went to sit down and checked the seat before sitting (gay?) – apparently for bird poo (!!?). Reached down (I assumed to ‘brush solid shit off the seat’ and retrieved (betwixt index finger and thumb) an uncapped hypodermic.

In Geneva.

By the UN!!!

Colour me horrified.

But by the time I’d gotten over returning to the WHO building (oh so geeky to be so impressed, but I can’t help myself, I never went on school field trips to anywhere like that!) which has a lobby that would rival any shopping mall (bedecked in marble, resplendent with shops, and a small sign that indicates ‘get your visa’s for foreign places here’. The only thing that separates it from being a mall is that the last minute travel agency can organise trips to Darfur/Gaza/Kabul/Beirut instead of the more usual Tunis/Cairo/Athens/Istanbul options! Oh – and everyone dresses superbly too, suits/tights/briefcases – until you get down to the Response group who are in moleskins/jeans, checked shirts/t-shirts and sturdy shoes and who go nowhere without their backpacks), in order to go out and buy more French wine to have with our raclette, I’d almost forgotten the incident with the ‘eepohdearghmeek’.

Yeah – bilingual, I am

posted by Nomes @ Friday, September 29, 2006   4 comments
Monday, 25 September 2006
I think I woke up too early this morning: I left the house at 6:20, having not managed to catch Adam and collect his UK ATM card. Damn!

Bez snidane (think of me as your starving heroine, if you wish) my pubic transport start had me staring at the back end of both the bus and train I needed to catch, just as I arrived at the stops.

Once checked in, (“is that all your hand luggage Ma’am?”), I stood and read The Observer and the Prague Post cover to cover at the bookshop, reasoning that I wouldn’t ordinarily do it: but these were special times. The Observer annoyed me when I found an editorial I’d read about 6 months ago on the internet. That’s just sloppy. I’ll write for them if they’re that desperate.

Meanwhile, closer to ‘home du jour’, a detective in the Czech Republic got all Columbo for us, narrating his favourite case, which involved a paralysed, wheel-chair bound man who survived his wife’s “accidental” fall to the pavement below their 6th floor flat. The detective, having asked a harnessed fireman to ‘fall’ from the window while watching from the alleged vantage point of the husband, indicated that, indeed, a defenestration had occurred. All very CSI. But then, the bit that made me laugh out loud. The detective then informed his adoring public that the man himself was famous, as he was the only person who ran for Presidency in the 1993 election against Vaclav Havel. Mwahahhaha. A quick internet search reveals that the internet is insufficiently old to tell me his name. Just as well.

The other thing they told us was that the new road rules (supposedly operating since July 1st) aren’t working. The near-death-experiences I have when I cross the road on a pedestrian crossing are sufficient testament to that; I needn’t read about it. Turns out that, indeed, the Czech populace followed the new rules (you know: seatbelts, slowing down for intersections, allowing people right of way on pedestrian crossings etc.) for approximately 20 days before reverting to the normal Russian/Italian driving style they favoured. The motive for following the rules (i.e. points on licesnsese, fines etc.) were simply not being given, because there were no extra traffic police. 20 days of figuring this out, that no one would enforce the rules, and the drivers are back to their old tricks. To the point where a driver who knocked down and killed a pedestrian this weekend (one of the 13 deaths) simply drove off. Not sped off. Drove. Hit and stroll.

And it’s true: the police don’t want to enforce such things. Apparently, it’s illegal for an owner to allow their dog to ‘do it’s business’ in the street. Bahahahahaha! And apparently, if they are caught: they could be fined 2,000 Kc (NZ$120, E60). But most police officers are in the habit of giving people warnings rather than fines, so the law goes unregarded. In a conversation I recently had with an off-duty policewoman, she is considering getting out of the job and back into sales, not for money, but because she doesn’t like telling speeding drivers off. WTP?

Having read sufficient proof of already known things, I wandered to my gate: through security with my iPod on (still playing music) and my phone in my pocket. And I wondered why I beeped. A part of me simply doesn’t take this all seriously enough.

Zurich airport is fantastic (where Frankfurt airport is my nemesis), not least of which because of the continuous chocolate making going on along the concourse. Yes, folks: the Lindt people were out in force: making the most delicious creamy milk chocolates I’ve ever tasted. Not quite still warm from the rolling thing (made in 1858) but only JUST set!

So now, at the hotel: I have consumed approximately 3000 calories so far today, and you can tell I was en route to Switzerland: since none of those calaroies which fit into any other than the tip of most food pyramids (except that designed explicitly for PMS-suffering women). They’ve all been chocolate (and free).

Not that that’s a bad thing, per se, but I can’t see a gym here anywhere.

Do you promise not to think too badly of me if I lie on my double bed in my hotel room and watch English television until it’s time to go to dinner tonight?

(in my defense, I am here for a few days, and have already taken some photos and read two city guides – AND it’s raining)
posted by Nomes @ Monday, September 25, 2006   2 comments
It doesn't ever just rain...
Sunday, 24 September 2006
12 days ago, my father had bypass surgery, while I was situated approximately 7000miles away, incapable of saying a 'just in case' goodbye or even just to ferry my Mum to and from the airport, make sure she eats/sleeps/washes and be the 'good daughter'.

10 days ago, my mobile phone was stolen from my desk at work. I lost numbers. Not many, but enough to be a pain. Not to mention the ability to recieve MMS. So the person that has been sending me an MMS ought to stop (please) as it simply doesn't work.

1 day ago, I managed to lose my bank card while out. Not only that but our home phone stopped working properly. Which we've hopefully fixed today, so that Mum and Dad can call me for the first time (maybe a decent conversation for once!) properly since the operation. Of ocurse, time differences being what they are, this will be at midnight my time, ensuring I don't sleep tonight (flight at 9, requires leaving house at 6, getting up at 5 and I'm unpacked as of yet).

Tomorrow I fly to Geneva for 4 days. WITHOUT ANY ACCESS TO MONEY! (not quite sure how I'm going to pay for my hotel room at present. Am wondering if I could make enough cash turning tricks for one evening in Prague...to pay for the conversion rate into Euros/Swiss Francs). Probably not.

On Tuesday, I have a conversation about my future training with EPIET.

I'm so stressed I don't know whether to collapse, drink myself into a sleepy oblivion, party hard enough that my aching muscles would take over my pain receptors, cry into my pillow (downside: puffy eyes for days) or sail off into the sunset - disappearing (and taking down the blog*).

In other news, turns out the Minister of Foreign Affairs (in the CR) admitted recently that he hadn't read any of the Accession Treaty prior to signing it (in order to join the EU). This explains an awful lot.

On the other hand, I can now purchase the correct (favoured) brand of tampons here.

This is, indeed, progress.

*mainly because it's not really helping me at the moment: I feel lonely, insecure, unsettled, pissed off, freaked out and all those nasty emotions that come with 'change' or 'potential change'. And since I'm not able to write about all that (because I'm well aware no one wants to read it: least of all myself in the future) there seems little point.
posted by Nomes @ Sunday, September 24, 2006   2 comments
Automatic Doors; Proceed with Caution!
Saturday, 16 September 2006

One of the things about having lived the life I've lived (dear god, I sound as though I'm writing my own autobiogr...wait...I am!) is that it's been full of many "sliding doors" moments, some of them were even of my own choosing.

This seldom actually occurs to me, I try to keep myself so preoccupied with living life that I run out of time (or sober moments) for retro(intro)spection. However, I'm currently reading a book called "The Invisible Girl". It's about a young woman, from a broken home, who developed her talents for comedy so well that she was writing for the BBC at 14, and a permanent staff (for things like Spitting Image et. al.) writer at 17! Insane. The level of control she maintained on her life extended to her consumption of nutrients, and, eventually, she died at 26 when her heart failed - having lived with anorexia nervosa for many, many years.
Her name was Deborah A Barham.

Anyway. Despite her life not, in any way, resembling mine, I find myself wondering exactly what would have happened had we not moved across the world when I was 6, to an unfriendly, unwelcoming triplet of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Would my sense of humour have developed differently? Would I have actually honed and developed my writing 'talent' (okay, wannabeness-esque-ocity) and entered many competitions as the precocious child I was? Or would I have simply "given up" as I did in my new home, knowing that my attempts were ill-desired and ill-recieved at school? Would I have pursued a career in something that meant I would have an opportunity to actually stay at home for more than 2 consecutive weeks, sleeping in my own bed? Or would I have gone the art route, would I have taken my love of melodrama to stage schools? RADA? Would I be a different person, or would I be the same person with a different life? Would I be as unfulfilled as I currently feel? Or would I have my own family by now, an acceptable career and a pension plan? (or at least, enough cash to pay my tax bill at the end of the year). Would I have a lover who challenged and supported me in equal measure? Would I, at least, be thin?

Who would I be? All terribly interesing questions to ponder, to distract myself from the usual 'who am I?'.

posted by Nomes @ Saturday, September 16, 2006   1 comments
Hump day.
Friday, 15 September 2006
What with everything going on at the moment, my poor wee body (not as wee as I’d like it to be) hasn’t had sufficient energy to do it’s thang…which is, in itself, yet another cause for concern. Can’t say as it’s got any reason to not be ‘shedding’ (so to speak), and I can’t recall having any angelic visitations of late. I hate it when my body decides (overriding my intellect, clearly) that I AM actually stressed. Pah. Can’t understand why:

  1. Teleconference with the coordinators to discuss progress (or lack thereof) with projects in the training site. Outcome reasonably good:
    1. I have to draw a timeline for each project (ie. write a list of deliverables) and my boss will add the timeframe given the feasibility of achieving those deliverables. Since I have 12m2weeks left of my training (!!!), and we can’t even meet the Ministry of Health to discuss one of the protocols until October, I’m thinking that that particular project will stumble and fall even before the starter’s gun goes off.
    2. Meanwhile, it looks as though I might sort out my outbreak needs in another country (unless something good happens here). Since I’m supposed to gain ‘skills’ in things like ‘responding to initial call’, I can suspect that it’s not gonna happen here! (when all I can do is say “good morning, how are you? Pleased to meet you. No, he’s not here, maybe [time]. Thanks. Goodbye.”. Good with languages – that’s me!
    3. There’s a possibility of working with modellers and statisticians elsewhere for some time-series analysis (I have NO skill in it: I can barely type it coherently). But I have to send the list of data collected here to my coordinator (HI!) to see if we can come up with a ‘question’ to ask. It’s not the IDEAL approach to science I guess (usually you start with the question…but that’s in the utopia of ‘scientific reasoning’) which sounds pretty good.
    4. Salary issues are actually an issue for the program, so now that they know, they’re going to apply some pressure to make sure that the CR does it’s bit in this European programme. This is good for me personally, as it means there’s a possibility I’ll be retrospectively paid the 3898E that the Insititute said it would have paid me by now. Yes folks. Nearly 4000E (after tax!).
  2. Spinning was fab. Stringy-blue-eyed-boy now jokes with me and the girl who sits in front of me (with the longest plait in the world) as we’re “the regulars”. When he does this, since I can’t add anything useful to the repartee (hell, I can’t even understand what he’s saying) I just smile and nod. Which makes me the inane nodding spinner. Ha ha. As if you didn’t already suspect.
  3. Returned to office to find my rimless glasses. While in UK recently, I may have gotten a little ‘tired and emotional’ and folded out my sofa bed ONTO my glasses. They, understandably, handled the pressure as well as I did. So we had an emergency dash to Specsavers, who saved my – er – eyes. The specs (cracked and broken beyond repair) were, um, beyond repair. So Mum (thank goodness she was there) coughed up a credit card and bought me a pair of replacements. Since they did a ‘two for one’ deal, I got two types. The rimless ones couldn’t be done for AGES – so my brothers girlfriend sent them to me. The other ones were TOTALLY different – thinish, rectangular, brown thick frames.
    1. And do you think ANYONE has noticed different glasses?
    2. Did they f*ck.
  4. Went to check on Dad’s vitals (last message was he couldn’t hold food, was sleeping a LOT, and had blood in urine – of which there wasn’t enough) and couldn’t find phone. Odd.
    1. Searched. F*ck. Phone missing. Gone. Not in gym bag (purposefully – wanted to disappear for a few hours). Not in office bag. Not in any of the 8 desk drawers. Not in any of the three shelves I have. Not in any of the BOX FILES on the three shelves. Tried calling it: voicemail immediately. WTP? It has battery, and I never turn the damned thing off. ??!?!? Asked boss. Nope, he hadn’t seen it. Hadn’t heard it.
    2. Checked e-mail with scowl on face. And….
  5. I’M GOING TO BRAZIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Fan-flipping-tastic. My abstract for Avian Influenza outbreak was accepted for the TEPHINET conference in November. So, I’ll miss my dearest bro’s 25th birthday – but, at the same time, I’ll be in BRAZIL. Did you read that? BRAZIL?
    1. Wrote to another cohort member: congratulating her. She asked where my phone was – she’d been ringing for the past hour but it kept going to voicemail. Suspiciouser and suspiciouser.
  6. Went to heat lunch: saw boss’s wife who asked if I’d found phone. She and her officemate had been in the office all the time and no strangers had been in at all. EXCEPT for my boss’s youngest (15) son. Great. I’m gonna keep quiet on this one, because my boss isn’t stupid and I know he would have leapt to the worst conclusion too…so I’ll see if the phone reappears mysteriously. I’m just glad I’m such a geek, I’d reproduced my SIM onto a replicator before I went to Slovenia, and Vodafone replace a SIM card with the same number each year. Now if I could just get some good hardware…*off to Ebay*
posted by Nomes @ Friday, September 15, 2006   1 comments
Spacedust
Tuesday, 12 September 2006

Not sure what it is right now (PMS/brain tumour are two hypotheses) but I’m feeling disconnected. Not discombobulated (no matter how much you like saying the word) but disconnected.

Like, say, a satellite. I feel as though I was launched a year and a bit ago, into space. And since then, I’ve been trying as hard as I can to report my exact coordinates, but they keep changing. So instead, I’ve been trying to report my coordinates in relation to other satellites (or planets, depending on their gravity) and it’s not working. Some satellites merely blink out (or crash land in, say, the dark continent), while other planets have planetary wobbles (or bypass surgeries).

So just when I thought I’d gotten a good handle on where I exist, in which plane/dimension/space and time, my bearings change.

And I can’t be sure what’s going to happen to me in the future, or what my reason for existence is. Am I there just to tour merrily around space, taking photos of ‘stuff’, sending it back in the vein hope that someone else appreciates it? Or am I to be crashed into the surface of some planet, to serve as a warning for others?

Where is the string in the theory? Why isn’t it holding and supporting me? What does one do to get string?

Or am I just making amountainous analogy out of molehill news items and a weird inner-feeling from having been uncharacteristically ‘anxious’ for the last two weeks?

(maybe I’m a piece of driftwood instead, though, not being overburdened with thousands of sensors, I think a piece of driftwood has less likelihood of developing a ‘short’ that gives it ‘recognition of self’…so I’m gonna stick with the satellite analogy for the time being)

Today, *shock horror*, someone smelt NICE on the tram. That gives credence to the brain tumour theory.

P.S. Yep, back to boring you with writing about ME, since Dad has had his two bypasses (bypassii?) and is currently languishing in ICU recovery awaiting the removal of the tube from his trachea. Hoorah! Thanks for all your messages of support, I appreciate it more than you're likely to be aware. Although it does have a tendency to bring out the maudlin side of my self-pity: see above.

posted by Nomes @ Tuesday, September 12, 2006   1 comments
Stop being excited for me...
Monday, 11 September 2006
...the thing that was almost beginning has suffered a diabolical twist. One that involves "Africa" and "thinking about things".

Which means, since Jo is still in town, that "the thing that wasn't" wasn't with him.

Sufficiently oblique for the NZ readers? (Hi, btw, you silent lurkers you!)

Meanwhile: Dad goes for his op at Tues 0400 CEST, Tues 0300 BST, Tues 1200 AUST and Tues 1400 NZT.

I trust you'll set your alarms, to wake up and cross everything (yes, including eyes) prior to drifting back off to sleep.

Those of you in Europe are expected to have as sleepless a night as I will have.

We've been told it'll take 5 hours. Then he'll be dopey in teh recovery room (no wonder they didn't want me to come back to Australia: they knew I'd hit dad up for a whopping great big loan while he was least capable of laughing hysterically) for a few hours.
posted by Nomes @ Monday, September 11, 2006   3 comments
Hmm, tears in check-in: is that a good thing?
Wednesday, 6 September 2006

Many expats, I suspect, have faced this exact same emotion. The thought of going to your new ‘home’ fills your insides with so much dread, that even hearing the language again in the check-in mob (queues are for western Europeans, apparently) is enough to cause tears of frustration, disappointment and self-pity to spill from your eyes. I couldn’t even blame hormones (damnit!), or a sad book (usually a good fall-back option).

What happened? I remember flying back into Prague after being in Budapest in December, absolutely THRILLED to be back in my adoptive land. But that was the first trip, and the only one I recall so clearly being glad to be going ‘home’. The excitement at travelling back to Bohemia has been waning with each and every trip away – especially when those trips were to nations where English is a second/third or even fourth language. And where the zygomaticus minor and levator anguli oris have not atrophied to the point of non-existence. On the last trip, we noticed (in the brief stopover in Helsinki) that the facial expressions of the Finns and the Czechs are almost identical. Which is disturbing, given this is the country (Finland) that brought us moomintrolls (they’re painted on the side of the airplanes!!) and salted liquorice (bleeeee! How could they possibly want to make liquorice any WORSE?!). They even smiled in Estonia more than they do here.

And what’s happened since I’ve been away? Madonna is closing off the Charles Bridge for a few days at the end of this week. Acquaintances have committed suicide (I won’t say that I can’t blame them, but part of the ‘running away’ feeling of this place coincides with ‘last chance saloon’ too), others have smashed their legs to smithereens after driving drunk (see, Rowls?!). One of those options is ‘painless’ – the other requires years of rehab (if lucky).

The return to work is a gruelling study in frustration. My progress continues to be thwarted by inability to read/understand/find reports/speak-to-people-who-wrote-the-damned-reports. I need a PA/Research Assistant – who can scan reports and scan them for the bit of information that I’m actually searching for. And don't get me started on the appalling state of filing here...oh for a simple method (i.e. the one that I've developed for my references to be adopted WORLDWIDE!!!).

However, my mood was lifted AS SOON as I stepped into the cemetery yesterday evening: sun shining through the trees lending a dappled light to the stones, a family “hanging out” graveside, swapping gossip, passing around a beer, etc. Was a little confused at one grave though, it’s been totally decked out with fake plastic garlands, I’m not sure whether the person who was recently laid to rest died in some sort of horrible piñata accident…

Lisanne had a piece of very good advice for me, in case I do get moved at the end of this four week purgatory: try to look at the city as though it’s the last time I’ll see it, and see plenty of the friends that I’ve made here. So I’m off to rehearsal tonight with Intunition – not taking my music so that I’m forced to keep my mouth shut – and not wrench my throat any more than absolutely necessary.

Czech lessons have also started with a hiss and a roar (more hissing from me, more roaring from the teacher). Apparently, a ‘cute’ e-mail that I wrote a few months ago was passed around all the teachers (for a giggle) because I’d misused a word in a ‘charming’ way. Ha. Ha. Ha. Last time I make an attempt to write in Czech! But I did find out that there are soft words for all family members (i.e. Mother: matka becomes Mum: maminka, etc) but there’s not one for ‘mother-in-law’. I wonder why not. I guess that some things really are ‘transculture’.

Meanwhile: Dad’s op booked for 12th. So Tuesday crossings of limbs/appendages again please darlings (Monday night for those in EU).

Apologies for laxity in blog writing of late: the sheer weight of mucus in my sinuses is slowing me down. Bleeeee!

posted by Nomes @ Wednesday, September 06, 2006   0 comments
WOW!
Sunday, 3 September 2006
Go here, create something, press print screen, open paint (or similar appliation), press Ctrl-V, save as a jpeg and send me your creation.

I'll print them out (colour/photo paper), frame them, and hang them up.

This can be considered your belated 29th birthday presents (thereby absolving Lira/Nis) and a BRILLIANT idea for all those with an artistic bent unable to be realised due to long hours with a computer.

I MUST get wireless at home.
posted by Nomes @ Sunday, September 03, 2006   2 comments

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