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!)
Seven random things about me
Thursday, 31 May 2007
I don’t like gin. Nor tonic (so don't offer me an ice cold g'n't, for goodness sakes. I don't care if it's bloody Tanqueray/Sapphire: I DON'T LIKE THE F-ING STUFF). If I were a character in a 1930’s novel set in London, who mistakenly got herself knocked up by some cad (who subsequently broke her heart by abandoning her and returning to his wife as soon as she imparted the ‘good’ news), for instance*, I would never be able to have a hot 2” bath with a bottle of ‘mothers helper’ and a knitting needle. I would end up having the baby on the streetcorner, then shamelessly abandoning it at a nearby orphanage, before going on to become a seamstress at a big house, always wondering where the child went – before being reunited with it on page 431 – adopted, as it was – into the family for whom I’d worked for three years. You know it.

The sea provides me harmony. You know that chaotic feeling you get inside yourself, when all your blood is racing from one end of your body to the other, like a kitten chasing a laser pointer on the ground? When you’ve a roaring in your head that’s forming a whirlpool down your spinal column, and you just can’t keep still from the itching under your skin? That’s when I NEED the sea. Like, now, already. And no, the smell of brine will NOT suffice. It’s got to stimulate all of my senses: the sight of the waves rolling – whether they’re silky smooth navy blue, cresting whitecaps on a rolling boil, or smashing into rocks – I don’t care. The sound - gentle lapping, roaring, hissingly angry - I don't care. The smell - sea weed rotting and drying in the sun, seagulls poo everywhere, crabs bringing the smell of shell to the shore - I just don't care. The taste - the vinegar that begs to be added to the fish, the salt, the cold air on your tongue, the crunchy brittleness of sand between your teeth - I tell you, I don't care what it is. And the feel - the bracing wind against your face, your hair whipping around you, the sun beating down on your shoulders and nose, the sting of icy cold spray or the tempting tickle of squidgy sand between your toes - I want it all. Bring me anions - STAT.

My heart is on my sleeve. It always has been. It (probably) always will be. Despite being hurt REGULARLY (hey, it’s good blog fodder, right?) I’ll still give people the benefit of the doubt immediately – trust them implicitly instinctively. Then, said heart will be trampled on (and possibly spat upon too, but at that point I’m usually too upset to look) and I’ll have to reattach the pieces to my sleeve, and hope that they will eventually mend BEFORE I go giving it away to the next bastard. I suspect that one day, I’ll pin it on the INSIDE of my sleeve. That’ll be the day I close my eyes to the rest of the world.

I love to laugh. There’s that moment when your face relaxes into a smile. Then your forehead slides back just that little bit further, and your mouth stretches further to reach your ears. And before you know it, your throat and belly give birth to a cackle, or a guffaw. Occasionally, a full creasing up laugh, that won’t stop – one of those giggling fits that comes in waves and is best shared with someone else (in case the people with the funny white Kris Kross jackets come back). According to someone else, my tongue touches my teeth when I laughed.

I have a spell book. I’ve used it once (a spell to make myself appear prettier), because I’m suspicious that if I used a spell to manipulate someone into doing something with/for/to me, then that won’t be real. And you know, most of my stories did originally start with something that was real!

I played cricket. Only for a season. It was crap. My whites weren’t (due to Mum’s Amazing Multicoloured Washing MachineTM – not to mention parental sniggers along the lines of ‘we’re not buying you new kit when you’re not going to last in this sport - we've witnessed your attempts to catch a basketball’), and standing in the middle of a field was boring. You couldn’t even swing the bat like a baseball bat. I scored 3 runs all season (I think). It (I? Nah!!) was shit.

The only dead body I’ve ever seen was not of my blood. It was my ex-boyfriends aunt (or great aunt - I forget - Rose was her name, so possibly great aunt). It’s also the only funeral I’ve ever been to. Oh, I’ve known people who’ve died, but generally speaking I’m half a world away and skint. So I borrowed an experience from the guy who would jolt awake if a phone rang in the middle of the night – sure that someone else had died. Seldom was he amused to find me conversing with random people I used to know.

*fear not, I'm not in the family way, good grief people, talk about jumping to conclusions.

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posted by Nomes @ Thursday, May 31, 2007   0 comments
Tuesday, 29 May 2007
Might be the only way through this.

Of course, before we start, we prevaricate, and read through previously drafted chapters of novels.

Depressing and hilarious in equal measure. But: will it sell*? Has my voice changed? Is angst and vulnerability the new black?

*will it be written and completed, is possibly more worthwhile a question!

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posted by Nomes @ Tuesday, May 29, 2007   1 comments
ETA: Panic stations.
Wednesday, 23 May 2007
Here's my thing.

Once you disappear out of the public domain of the airport, you're comfortably cosseted. It's just you, overpriced bottles of water, ground staff, air staff, cleaning ladies, toilets that are big enough to swing a medium sized cat in, and (if it's Vienna) free wi-fi. You can spend an hour browsing the magazine rack and NO ONE TELLS YOU OFF - or asks you to move out of the way. You can possibly even find a paper that isn't sold within the city limits.

You can spray perfumes until your olfactory senses are so overwhelmed that you have a sneezing fit, only plugged by hearing the 'zip' of your card through another EFTPOS terminal. You can go in barefaced - and come out wearing Chanel lipgloss, Dior mascara, Lancome eyeshadow, Clarins blusher - all over a La Prairie Serum base. FOR FREE.

Then you can see your belongings in a way that no one usually does. If you're extremely lucky, you are patted down (or felt up). You are requested to, and perform, a partial strip tease (though some requests should be gently refused). You stretch your feet a bit, have a moment of respite from the shoes that are half-a-size-too-small-yet-too-beautiful-to-resist.

Once dressed again, you sit on a seat ESPECIALLY RESERVED FOR YOU. (Admittedly, it's missing the 'welcome, Dr Nomes' that I'm sure will eventually be written on the "seat back in front of you" but that's why the airlines have 'suggestion cards'.) You lean forward and tense your stomach muscles (free situps!) as the plane finally pushes forward to take off in a (still) awe-inspiring physics lesson. You make fun of the security demonstration, but still count the number of seats between you and the emergency exit. And, if you're me, you dribble (charmingly) on a complete strangers shoulder. You are allowed, nay, expected to acquire that 'travellers sheen' of greasy 'in-flight' sweat, it is the only thing keeping your skin from complete dessication at 27,000 feet (within EU, 36,000 feet for the long haul pedants).

Once you've arrived at your destination, you pretend you're a lemming, following the hordes and yellow signs directing you to where your belongings will (hopefully) meet you. On the way, you flip your passport out like you're in the FBI and are waved through by a young gentleman wearing epaulets. You thank John Paul Gaultier. You play 'long lost bag' with the baggage carousel, after inspecting everyone else's (less bright and playful*) choice of luggage. You run over elderly people with wayward luggage trolleys - and everyone smiles.

Finally, you carry out a quick inventory of your belongings - did you include fish, cheese or meat from outside of the EU in your socks? Are there feathers and shells amidst your toiletries (still)? Is your sarong protecting a jar of unpasterurized honey from dubious sources? No? Then you walk the blue aisle with the stars, or the green aisle.

Occasionally, you might be allowed a floor show, of all of your previous bargain hunting acquisitions. The judges are always delighted to see your various friends in states of questionable repose. They usually want a better look at the photos though, that's why they remove them from the frames. Occasionally, your underwear will be held up for inspection, and you can congratulate yourself on having packed the Aubade near the top.

But that's where it ends. That's where the joyous pampering stops. For hell awaits the other side of those slidey doors.

And "sshhhhhh".

They slide open.

A poorly packed sports bag has fallen off the trolley used by the family of 12 in front of you, and you can't quite make it past their stroller on the left to get out of the way, so you become entangled in the sports bag strap. One of their several snot-nosed toddlers wipes his hand on your leg, assuming that you're one of the many care-givers from the resort he just terrorised. You desperately try to keep a brave face, smile knowingly and understandingly at the parents, and yet look winsome enough to not be assumed to be part of the package nightmare coming through the doors.

Eventually, you disentangle, and can actually walk freely through those doors - that have been sliding open and shut for a few moments, displaying your anguish in comic book frames. By now, there are 100 pairs of eyes glaring in your direction, each pair searching for someone else, and YOU ARE IN THE WAY. But you have to find YOUR pair of eyes, you have to find the person there specifically to meet you. The 100 people are spread out in a 180 degree semi-circle, each focussed intently on the next "sshhhhhhh" of those bloody doors.

Quickly, you have a choice to make.
  1. Walk tall, walk through the throng, and get the hell to the other side, hoping that your person has seen you and will follow you to (relative) peace.
  2. Or you can stop, put one hand on your 'thrown out' hip, smile a half smile, toy with your Tiffany's necklace with the other hand as you examine the crowd (ignoring the 'drool stain' that draws a line from mouth to ear), meeting the eyes of everyone in one slow sweeping glance from left - all the way through - to the last person on the right.

Faced with such indecision, I kind of hustle my way through the happily reunited with a slightly pained, apologetic expression until I find the public transport rank, breathe a sigh of relief, then turn around and see whether I can recognise the back of the person who's waiting for me's head. Lord forgive me for what I might do to the person who watches my confusion from a distance and doesn't make themselves IMMEDIATELY OBVIOUS so that I can stop feeling like a loser.

Next up: train stations...

*I've only been beaten once: by a small girl who's BRIGHT PINK BARBIE case came complete with flashing LED'S. I drooled some more. Though I think I would've had to scratch off Barbie's face and replaced her with She-Ra. I mean, us girls have SOME limits.


posted by Nomes @ Wednesday, May 23, 2007   1 comments
Gilded and poised
Tuesday, 22 May 2007
When I was 15, a new boy joined our class. His name was Simon, and he was excruciatingly tall - maybe 6'2" already. As the youngest in my class, he was also likely to be older than me. As an expat brat, people starting midyear was not unusual, but what didn't always happen was the immediate and intense hatred he and I felt for one another. Reciprocated equally by both, we manifested our dislike in violence.

At Sarah Grey's party, one Thursday night (the middle easts' version of Saturday) in October, I found myself taunting Simon with words. He wasn't as quick witted, silver tongued or - frankly - bitchy as me, so retaliated by punching me three times on my upper left arm, each punch containing sufficient power to leave me with a dead arm. I couldn't feel my fingers after such an onslaught, for which I remained steadfastly stationary, as you do when 'face' is so ultimately important.

A few days later, I was walk/running down the corridor. The bell had just rung for us to go to Chemistry, so our class was lined up, "firing squad" style, against the wall outside the classroom/laboratory. I, however, needed to speak to someone who was just going into Biology - so I was racing down to the other end of the hall.

When who should stick out his extraordinarily long leg in my path? I went flying - literally sprawling out on the corridor, in front of, maybe, 75 people - my peers. Livid, I picked myself up and stormed back (flying, I tell ya) to where he stood smirking.

"That does it!" I exclaimed, for I went to school at St Trinians. "Football field. After school!"

Yes folks, I called him out. By the time I realised what I'd done, I was near the biology rooms (see, I had continued my mission!), but could not for the life of me remember why I was there. I turned to Darren,
"Shit, will you fight Simon for me after school?"
"Hell no!" he replied. I sought a champion amongst the rest, but to no avail. Shit. Awkwardly, I returned to Chsmistry, my stomach a pit of hungry vipers who can smell a dangling mouse.

Chemistry was my "double last" for the day, so I would have to either run like hell when the bell rang, or allow myself to be swept up by the (now) tide of people who had bloodlust rising. Shit. I've no IDEA what we covered that lesson, but electron orbitals have always been my weak point from then on in.

The bell rang. I'm not built to run, neither physically, nor personalitywise, so I fronted up; slung my bag over my shoulder and tried desperately to cease quivering. What the hell was I playing at, calling out the tallest boy in the school.

Football pitch: quite a crowd had gathered. I was a popular girl by then, and I'd like to (continue to) hope that many were on my side. There was no way this wasn't going to happen, though, with the "Fight! Fight! Fight!" chant attracting even more people to the melee.

So, I did what I could to win. I hit him first. While he was dallying over whether to hit a girl (who wore glasses!!), I punched him as hard as I could in the solar plexus. When he doubled over, I kneed him - lord knows where. When he hit the ground, I clambered astride him, and poised myself for the killing blow to his face.

At this point, Mr Mackay intervened, hauling me off Simon to the murmured disappointment of the crowd (who, despite wanting to see the fight, had already begun to disperse to waiting buses, parents, drivers, limos etc.).

Simon and I both visited the headmaster the next day. The head saw me first,
"I'm not quite sure what to do with you, Naomi." he stated, "I've never had to reprimand a girl for fighting a boy before."
Thank heaven's for ancient heads.
"You may go, as this is the first time you have been involved in such ridiculous behaviour, but don't let me catch you attempting to use violence to end an argument again!".
"No sir, I won't sir, thank you sir!" I beamed back, as I backed out of the room, my perfect school record unbesmirched.

Simon, on the other hand, was a known delinquent - known for glue sniffing, wagging classes and generally being a pain. This added more fuel to his black mark fire. He was in detention (both breaks) for months. I felt the heat of embarrassment every time I saw him sitting between the vice principles offices, for I know that I had a hand in putting him in that seat.

Embarrassment, yes. Guilt? No.

For despite being of the Catholic (lapsed) faith (supposedly), I consider guilt to be a very negative emotion. Like it's more glamorous misspelling gilt, it has a habit of tarnishing.

And when something was beautiful (to me, at least), then guilt can just stay right out of the picture - despite what other people may say, think or do.

So: to the person I've landed in the detention chair, I feel sad. Sad that you're hurting, and sad that there are other people who are probably hurting too.

But to anyone who's taking the high road, I can't possibly feel guilt or regret for my actions. I shall not have that fight tarnished with guilt (I did good, damnit) any more so than I shall the exquisite moments of grace I shared with someone a few weeks ago.

Note to self: blogs man. Landing people in it, since 1997.

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posted by Nomes @ Tuesday, May 22, 2007   0 comments
Vulnerability pt 1
Monday, 21 May 2007
How many Vodka Redbulls does it take before Nomes’ bladder decides it’s sufficiently full to empty itself at the end of a tram line?*

Did you ever believe there’d be a blog entry devoted to peeing in public?

A few weeks ago, I went on a tram party. At 10pm, a pile of strangers waited by Namesti Miru tram stop (one stop down from my own). A tram pulls up heading for direction Jizdy something-or-another (it means ‘out of service’). Joseph, myself and two others hand over our tickets at the front door, receive yellow day-glo flicky wrist bands (AWESOME!), and board the tram.

There’s a bar at the front. Provided by ‘bar’ you understand I mean a tub of ice with bottles of vodka, red bulls and beers shoved into it.

There’s a DJ booth. Provided by ‘booth’ you understand I mean a person sitting with a board on his lap on the front seat behind the driver.

The main lights were finally turned off, leaving only the colourful lights (strapped with electrical tape to the overhead rungs) glowing. People stood without holding on (after about two vodkas, I did the same) as the tram roared around the tracks of Prague. We (on the tram) waved to people (on the street) as our DJ mixed some wicked tunez. Or something. They looked at us with non-plussed expressions. Ah yes, still in Prague then.

We knew the ‘party’ would be going for 2 hours. We knew there was no toilet. Concern etched our faces each time we stopped at the bar for a refill.

No need. The tram stops, four times, each at the 'end of the line'. The stops are in dark places. There are many trees. When the tram stops and the doors whoosh open, everyone RUNS to the trees, pulls their trousers down, and pees.

Weirdest party ever.

*6. Good to know.


posted by Nomes @ Monday, May 21, 2007   0 comments
Thursday, 17 May 2007
There’s something incredibly reassuring about meeting a person who inspires you. It means that you can continue hoping that ‘they’ exist. That ‘they’re’ out there and ‘they’re’ waiting for you. It inspires you to believe that:
  • It’s possible to fall asleep to the sound of someone else snoring – despite all evidence (throwing things at my brother in our youth to make sure he stayed awake till I’d fallen asleep in silence) to the contrary.
  • The thing I do, when I see skulls through people’s skin, is ordinary – not weird and worthy of the Twilight Zone theme tune.
  • Silly jokes do make me giggle – once the penny has loudly clanged.
  • There’s someone of the perfect height and proportion to either kiss me standing up, or spoon me so I feel ‘safe’ and ‘home’.
  • Homesickness can apply to people, not just places.
  • The clicky finger thing doesn’t have to be taught to everyone.
  • It’s possible to be kissed on the forehead and not feel patronized.
  • I have a pretty head and I effervesce (does this mean my head is bubbly? I have bad hair?!!!!).
  • Friends recognize a good catch when they see me with one, AND will tell me.
  • My pliability is appreciated by someone.
  • I can be wrapped in someone’s arms and almost faint from delight and security.
  • Someone who ‘makes stuff’ can like someone who ‘measures stuff’.
  • My teddy bear has a gruff voice.
  • I’m not the only one who can start a dance floor. Or finish it.
  • My ‘thing’ for the ethnically variegated is well reasoned and genetically enhancing for all (I heart mutts).
  • Someone approaching me telling me that they need more attention from me makes me feel all warm and tingly inside.
  • If they’ve also been finding themselves ogling me, involuntarily, and feel slightly dirty for it, I feel even MORE delicious.
  • Someone exists who makes me laugh out loud. Lots. “fuck yeah…”
  • Some people expect me to either own or receive a tiara. And wear it. I do.
  • I’m comfortable being scrutinized provided there’s no judgment in the person’s eyes.
  • Partying is as important as climbing European mountains (not that I needed reminding).
  • Someone can be sufficiently adventurous as to take a piece of paper with my scribbles on it, venture into the Prague wilderness, fulfill a mission and return before I’ve stretched out three pizzas. No, really.
  • I like men who look like birds of prey. It’s in the eyes.
  • Straight teeth are important to me. As are smiles.
  • If they’re not smiling, someone will appreciate me reprimanding them to ‘stop scowling’.
  • It’s okay that I’ve put up my own shelves. Even if I did worry that my cat might eat my dead body as it decayed having been electrocuted by drilling through the electricity cables.
  • It’s good that I hung out with Dad long enough to learn about (some) tools.
  • It’s possible to snog someone for (not long enough) almost 4 days and not get pash-rash (but HOW?!).
So, despite wanting to unzip myself and push this person deep inside (that’s not supposed to sound remotely sexual – more, well, more Hannibal-esque actually), I can’t. And if I did, he’d probably suffocate.

Which’d be kinda gross. Imagine carrying an extra body – oh look, nevermind.

But that's not my life, right? I live in Prague, he lives in England. There are flights but, come on: a little realism, please.

So, thanks Universe, for sending me my most amazingly perfect 30th B'day present. If you could just see to it that he's there for my 31st, 32nd, 33rd...I'll not ask for any thing else. Even if it's just 'there at a distance' as with many of my friends - I'll settle for that - just as long as he's 'there'. And if you could just get him here in August...and maybe sometime after that...and after that...

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posted by Nomes @ Thursday, May 17, 2007   2 comments
Happiness previously unexperienced
Wednesday, 16 May 2007
There’s been a lot of e-mail traffic heading to Prague recently, all of it along the lines of “when will you blog the birthday?”. Especially for some, I think, “you were there, you don’t need me to recap, surely?”, but apparently, my ‘take’ of the events is necessary. I feel like one of those ‘social columnists’ for Hello!

Not that I mind, though, not a whit.

Monday 7th May to Monday 14th May was officially the HAPPIEST WEEK OF MY LIFE! I haven’t laughed so much, for so long, or at such a variety of things – ever*.

According to Julie Andrews, the beginning is a very good place to start:

Monday 7th. Card-shark Monday.
Collected keys for apartments. Went to supermarket, made Butter Chicken. Won money from flatmates in poker. Took winnings out following a 5-min booty call to go out and meet a mate. Had a few raspberry-vodka-lime-brown-sugar shots (aren’t they just THE tastiest things in the world?) and met The Most Amazing Man Ever on the dance floor. Took a major spill (due to a bloody 'flower-bed' outside Le Clan) and twisted my ankle pretty badly. Off to a good start. Home at about 8:30am.

Tuesday 8th. Duvet-Tuesday.
BRILLIANT way to spend a day prior to the festivities. Laughed a LOT. Slept some. SHOULD have done laundry, and shopped for pizza toppings/mixers for Friday night’s party. Didn’t. DID order pizza (in Czech) at 12:30am…ate two slices and promptly went to sleep.

Wednesday 9th. Arrival Day.
Slept in. Brunch with TMAME. Met Lisa at apartments. Andreas and Emma followed soon after and joined us at Coffee & Cigars where we polished off a few bottles of Jacob’s Creek Cuvee. TMAME returned - dropped gear off at home, returned to town. Went for a walk. Met Rowls & Julia. Drank down U Zavoje passage. Dinner at Sahara Café (tuna forgotten in microwave, more appropriate for impromptu game of table frisbee). Most left. Drank with TMAME and Jo. Got hugs & kisses as midnight struck. Off to Chateau to dance to hip/hop & rnb. Home around 5:00ish?

Thursday 10th. Birthday.
Waking hours starting to take toll. Spoke to Mum for a bit. Went to town to meet Kylie & Joelle. Drank cider with TMAME till they arrived. Then home to watch a DVD, dashed off to Pravda (late, naturally) where everyone else (bar Joseph – running important errands for us) was waiting. Dinner fantastic – had about three bites of a divine steak, then ate from everyone else’s plates. Opened presents at table…how much do I love presents? Wore tiara. Was presented with tiramisu topped with a roman candle (none of this ‘sparkler’ bullshit for a 30th!). Felt (momentarily) embarrassed. Went to Nebe (why we didn’t go to Zero, Perfekt or any other CLOSER clubs, I’m not sure, but my head wasn’t on straight). Left with Rowls to collect our brother Jon. Came back and TMAME had STARTED the dance floor (see why he’s TMAME?). Danced until couldn’t walk anymore. Did the stork-y leg walk until found taxi. Home at about 6am.

Friday 11th. Pizza & Cocktails.
Not supposed to be a big party, I tested the pizza dough in the morning. No worries…off to find the ingredients for toppings at about 4pm. TMAME sent on excursion/mission for ice, then agreed to be door-bitch. Managed to greet nearly everyone when they arrived. Amassed a lot of presents (YAY!! - AGAIN!) on the table. Drank a fair amount. Ate two bites of pizza. Tears following a snarky (if well meant) comment. Comfort by way of friends and bathroom discussions. Disappeared upstairs for a long time (not to have sex, nor shoot up, though not discouraging either rumour - I have a reputation to aspire to, after all). After most people left, went to Valentino’s, Le Clan then Studio 54. Danced till knees stopped working properly. Left people at Studio, and went home roughly 8:30am. Stayed awake to accompany TMAME to airport. Shattered and heartsick. Home at 12:00pm.

Saturday 12th. PARTY
Woke a few hours later, having been improperly spooned by teddy bear…showered, slunk into dress (which fitted better than previously – due to poor diet for the last 5 days) and sat in a chair at MAC where they made my eyes look like peacocks, and painted my lips purple. Felt bad for not having done nails, nor hair, and thought “ah screw it!” and tied hair up with green rubber band from MAC merchandise. Made it up to the castle restaurant an hour after the correct time, therefore, made an entrance. Some thought it planned (it wasn’t – but, you know, if it ain’t broke etc.) Had some drinks, then some DELICIOUS food, tried to fill my plate up several times and empty it at each table. Only succeeded for four tables. Intunition rehearsed in the downstairs loo – without a recorder/keyboard. Kat MC’d the evening beautifully. Forgot the words to Respect (I mean, honestly!) and ad libbed poorly. Confidence shaken. After the applause died, Kat sat me down (for lapdances?) then people made speeches about/to me. Was deemed a “bright spark”. People sang happy birthday. I had a VERY hard time not crying in a crappy response speech (damned impromptu speeches). Talked to as many people as possible (and still missed plenty, I know). Went to Lucerna hospoda for an ‘end of evening’ drink. Said goodbye to too many people. Left 6 people still carrying on. Home at 3:30am.

Sunday 13th. Food.
Finally cleaned flat from Friday. Town to meet family for brunch. Spent delicious few hours getting slightly sunburnt (but not really) on a café terrace. Bid adieu. Caught up with EPIET crew for a walk along the river, and dinner at another bar/café. Walked back to apartments, caught up with Kylie. Had dessert with her (and remaining EPIETs) at another restaurant. Finally managed to do laundry Missed TMAME all day. Home at 10:00pm.

Monday 14th. Normal?
Returned to work. Worked with half of my mind elsewhere. Went home, tidied room. Wrote in journal (yes, I keep one of those – sometimes the journal and blog cross-pollinate, but mostly not), while waiting for Angie (just like the good ol’ days!) downtown. Had dinner, went for drinks. Danced until 2ish…left her out. Home at 2:30am.

In summary; I haven’t laughed as much as I have in the last week. Not ever. This was truly the happiest week of my life. (I doooo love a touch of melodrama) I’m humbled and awed by the amount of love that I’ve felt this week (be it via e-mail, phone or in person). Some very important people were missing, and I wish so much that they could have been here. But my parents, Grandma, 9, D, NN, Mx – and a few others - probably also wish that. I can’t believe how much good fun it was, and endeavour to spend each and every moment of (at least) the next 30 years either having that much fun, and being as loved.

Watch this space.

*not even after a marathon Eddie Izzard sit-in
posted by Nomes @ Wednesday, May 16, 2007   1 comments
Letters to keep in your bedside drawer - 1
Sunday, 6 May 2007
Did you realize we’ve known each other for over 10 years? It’s been 10 years since Liorah and I were dancing at Diablo’s. I was wearing a velvet leopard print double cuffed shirt with a short black skirt.

After a while, one takes a certain pride in one’s fashion ‘experiments’.

According to Liorah, who’s recollections are more likely to be accurate than those my ‘embellishes on-the-fly' memory makes dredges up, I was quick to do the terrier thing: a baring of the teeth, more snarl than smile, let her know you'd been 'earmarked'.

We spoke. “Do you want some water?” one of us said, “Cheers” the other probably replied.

Ten years we’ve kept in touch. Whatever for?

Of all the people to have kept with me for this amount of time, I never for one moment considered that it would be the fox-faced guy who I couldn’t walk beside without bumping shoulders - who introduced me to tubs of Moritz ice cream and watched the dawn rise over the grapefruit tree with me. I STILL haven’t been able to finish Withnail and I - even ten years later – it’s still as dull as the dishwater one of them is forced to riffle about in.

Do you recall my cousin’s dream-shopping-list for blueberry muffins? Every time I smell Strawberry Haagen-Daaz, or hear David Attenborough narrating the story of the dead baby whale (disturbingly frequently, despite reasonable expectations otherwise) I feel the hot flush of embarrassment at having been stood up for 2 hours. Geologically speaking, granted, it’s not a long time. But when you are due to leave the country again in 10 more hours, it seems an eternity to wait. What DID you do with the ‘trophy boots’? Moreover, who did you give them to?

See, you always had this rather laissez-faire attitude with me, which I couldn’t figure out since I thought we got along like a house on fire*.

Because, unbidden, I still see you when someone dances 'pointily'. Or when someone refers to Mr Big (damn Sex and the City for lexicon intrusions). Or whenever Liorah rolls her eyes disparagingly at me (frequently - I can tell even at this distance). Or when I think of the Parade.

So, Mr. Question: why was I drawn so powerfully towards your stupid “Car For Sale” sign back then? Did Matt ever realize the outcome of the postman role he played? Can you make a decent daisy chain yet?

So many questions, and they’re not even the real ones I want to ask. How are your parents? What about your beautiful sister? Did Alex ruin you, or were you already half way there yourself? Is it better where you are now? Why are we not together - why do we not work like that? Will you ever repay your debt?

I’m 99% certain you'll never read this. Answers are never going to satisfy me anyway - I know that, and so, probably, do you.

But I'll stay in touch for another decade, and probably another one after that. Because, damnit all to hell, I want to know what you look like when you're old, and whether you can still make me laugh as hard as you did.

Always - it seems.

*I suppose a house on fire leaves nothing but ashes and cinders in it’s wake. Ego-sparingly, I'm gonna go with that.


posted by Nomes @ Sunday, May 06, 2007   2 comments
Salty Seadogs ahoj
Wednesday, 2 May 2007
So, I'm not much of a sailor - I'd rather sunbathe on the fordeck and that means getting out of the way of the boom of the forsail - pain!! Not to mention, I don't even know if these words are appropriate or correctly in use.

But since 2000, when I was in Auckland doing research for my PhD, I have been a bit of a fan of the America's Cup. It has to do with the large boats, the impossible camera angles ("so, um, who's in the lead then?") and the imaginary dotted lines drawn across the waves.

But here, in landlocked Czech Republic, they couldn't give a toss. Even with my 898 channels (count 'em) of television (that's 893 of crap, and 5 news channels) I can't find the races on television. Strippers from Russia doing strange things with gym equipment - now I can find that.

So I've got 'livesticker', which is supposedly my gateway to the races. Currently, it tells me that Emirates Team NZ (NZL92) is racing against +39 Areva Challenge, and that Areva are in the lead by 196m. FINISH LINE I just watched Areva's gif finish before the NZ gif. This is awful!

Do you know how much it kills me to not hear the dulcet tones of Martin Tasker blathering on about the cup, asking us to keep our lucky red socks on, and crossing quickly to some of the computer graphics that make the watching so much more enjoyable (nay, possible)?!?!


(note: picture of my boat stolen from the official website: set to desktop)

P.S. It turns out the gifs were wrong. WE WON! WE WON!! I want a recap...!!! DAMNIT all to hell!

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posted by Nomes @ Wednesday, May 02, 2007   2 comments

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