ladyfalcon: (Default)
Ugh. I am so stressed. Now, on top of the Visa stress that I've been eating my heart out over for the last month or more, I also get told that I can't re-sign my lease, so I have to find a place to live. Hello, I work six days a week, every week. Because I picked up some classes for a co-worker who went on vacation, I have some days for the next two weeks where I am literally working for 12 hours. A lot of that is traveling from class to class, but it's still hardcore doing-stuff-for work. And somewhere in all of my abundant free time, I have to find a place to live. In the height of tourist season. By June 30. Bitches.

Also I really love our house. I'm going to be heartbroken having to leave it, even if we find an acceptable place elsewhere. It has so much charm! I demand our new house have an equal or greater amount of charm.

Anyway, once this is over, Irish Roommate is probably going to go back to Ireland for a bit and then go off and teach somewhere else. It was never his intention to stay in Prague too long. English Roommate, on the other hand, wants to stay in Prague pretty much for the rest of his life, so assuming I get my visa and so will actually be able to move anywhere that isn't straight onto my Dad's couch, he will probably stick with me.

For preference, we would prefer to stay on the red line of the Metro, which is what both of our workplaces are near. And close to it, too, because right now we have a two-minute walk to get on the train and it's really nice. Some people I know have to get on the metro AND a tram to get home, and that just seems like a whole lot of waiting around. And I personally would love to stay in our neighborhood, Holešovice, which is far enough out of the town center to be Prague-charming without being the least bit touristy, but close enough to the center that it isn't Communist-era soulless like the immediate suburbs of Prague.

There's also a (very small) chance that I will move to Dobříš because of this. It would make getting to my very-early classes in Prague absolute hell, but I have to travel out that way four times a week as it is, so that would actually be less travel for me. Also it's ridiculously cheap there. I pay 7,000 crowns a month for just my room in my flat, and you can get a whole family-sized apartment in Dobříš for 3,000. So I have options.

Still. It's so irritating. I can't imagine we're going to get a place in this era that is as cheap and lovely as where we are now. I mean, for one thing, my room was huge. I'm sitting in a cafe right now where the entire thing, the tables and the counter space and everything, is actually smaller than the room I live in. And that's not counting the space added by my private balcony.

In any case, I couldn't really drive myself crazy about this, because my friends Dan Glassberg and Ian Prince from St. Mary's were here this week. It was completely different from when David came to visit earlier this month, where we had planned it for ages and the last two weeks before he came were basically my brain endlessly repeating "David's coming, David's coming!" Instead, I got a Facebook message on Sunday saying that they both had just finished semesters abroad in England, and were taking the first month of summer to see the continent, and could they stay with me for a week while they were in Prague? Then there was a bit of a mixup when a note they sent me at 4.30 AM on Monday said that they would arrive in Prague 'tomorrow', which meant Monday evening but I thought meant Tuesday... and basically I barely had time to realize that they would be here before they were calling and asking to be picked up from the train station.

I wasn't able to take any time off work to hang out with them, which was terrible, but I loved having them to look forward to every time I went home. I would say 90% of my friends are naturally gifted storytellers, and among this group, Dan and Ian are some of the best. I don't think I've laughed so long or so hard, or talked for so many hours at a stretch, as while the boys were here. They won't be back at St. Mary's in time for this year's graduation (tomorrow) which is too bad because my first impulse was to load them down with gifts and letters for everyone, but god. It was so good to see home friends again. I've been spoiled this month. It may be difficult to go back to my life of relative solitude now. More people should come see me in Prague!

This morning I saw them off at the train station on their way to Budapest and Romania. My life, while still excellent, got a little darker for their absence.

I just used that darkness to send off an e-mail to my landlord letting him in on my TEFL school's scheme for what they're going to do with the apartment we sub-leased from them. I somehow doubt that he's going to be chuffed to discover that they're planning to put a new group of four students in there every month from here on. I mean, I stayed in TEFL housing when I was in school, I saw how disgusting and run-down those places got after being used by successive groups of transient students. It may not help us keep the flat, but as long as I can make life a little harder for these people who fucked me over, I'll be happy.

Erin

ladyfalcon: (Default)
Ugh. Just found out that I am losing my awesome beautiful cheap Prague apartment on the 30th of June. Between not knowing if I'm even going to get my Visa, and now realizing I will have to make time to find a new place, probably for more money (will I be able to afford it?) AND I'll be searching for accommodation at the height of the tourist season, when it's not exactly a buyer's market. Sigh. Stress and stress.
ladyfalcon: (Default)
I am not a WOW addict, or even really a player anymore, except that I occasionally get uncontrollable cravings to like, do 100 battlegrounds in a day, or whatever. And I had this type of craving recently, so I paid for a month of time. I was also getting myself all fired up to do an Epic Prague Post where I describe for your delectation all the Pragueventures I got up to while David was here two weeks ago. (Two WEEKS? What the hell, April, where have you gone?)

And in the way of things, as soon as I did all that, the internet company realized that we hadn't paid the bill for four months and cut us off.

So the upshot of this is, 1, we have to wait for them to re-connect our internet sometime this week or the next, but also 2, because the original contract was in the name of Roommate who Defrauded the Federal Government and Had to Go Home, we don't have to ever pay for those original four months of service. Which honestly seems like an unfair-but-awesome trade. I can live (grudgingly) without 'net access for a week in order to keep $150 or however much the bill finally was.

What this means for you, though, is no Pragueventures, although if you are friends with me on Facebook you can see all the pictures David and I took, which I hear are worth 1000 words apiece, so it's basically like reading Moby Dick if Moby Dick were about Prague.

Erin
ladyfalcon: (Default)
Well, David has gone home. I have an absolutely HUGE amount of stuff to write up about what we did while he was here, but it's a beautiful day so that will have to wait. We did do some very amazing stuff that I wouldn't have thought to do otherwise, so I am terrifically glad he came.

And sad he went, because within five hours of seeing him off to the airport, I was trying to make dinner. Hash browns, which I've never tried before but which turned out remarkably well despite the story I'm about to tell you. Which is that as I was trying to strain my diced potatoes, the pot slipped from one of my hands. I wound up pouring literally-boiling water all down one leg. I also gave both my roommates heart attacks from the scream I let out, because I really, really thought I was going to cover my whole body and have to go to the hospital.

So now I am the possessor, on the top of one thigh, of literally the hugest blister I have ever seen - and understand that while I do not spend a great deal of time looking at blisters, I have seen a few. This one is massive. Also coupled with a red streak down my leg that may or may not progress into further blistering.

That being said, it's still a lovely day, and I will be taking my current book (Les Miserables, which I've been kind of desultorily flipping through for more than the last month) to a beautiful garden David and I found in Malostranska yesterday while going to the Charles Bridge to get him his wish off the statue of St. John of Nepomuck. I like reading my books in amazing places. I find that for me, it enhances both the place and the book, rather than distracting me from both.

Erin
ladyfalcon: (Default)
Today I almost got a cat.

I was walking in the big graveyard near Flora, I found a cat, I loved the cat, the cat loved me. For a while it looked like circumstances were with me and I was going to be able to take the cat home. Then they all turned against me and I couldn't.

I would tell more about this story, but I'm actually really depressed about my catlessness, and need some alone-and-quiet time to recharge my battery.

Remind me to tell you later about the amazing 12 kilometer hike I took yesterday through the protected forest around Karlstejn, though.

Erin
ladyfalcon: (Super cool)
Today, I got up early, got on a train, took a nap on that train, and when I woke up I was in another country.

Europe is so fucking magic.

I was kind of hoping that the universe would do one of those things it occasionally does and bring up the Dresden Dolls on my iPod as I pulled into Dresden, but that did not happen. So I made it happen. And that was how the most meta moment of my life so far occurred.

It's strange to say, because in America I hate the country and love the cities, but in Europe I might like the countryside better than the cities. When I am going through Europe's more natural areas, my desire is to walk through them and see their beauty up-close, to explore the tiny nestled towns and learn their histories. Whereas when driving through the rural areas back home, my thought process is a lot more "Please let me get out of here as quickly as possible and hopefully without talking to anyone."

Anyway. Dresden is beautiful and confusing. I didn't realize how much I was relying on my ability to decode some words in Czech until all the words were in a completely new language that I also don't understand. And it became even worse when I needed to ask for help, because I didn't even know how to say "I don't speak _____" or "Do you speak English?"  These two phrases make up 80% of my Czech vocabulary and fully 98% of my daily Czech use. I also don't know "Please" or "Thank you" in German, which in Czech make up about another 1.5% of what I say every day. ("Pardon" makes up the remaining .5%, but that isn't only Czech and I say it with a French accent anyway so I'm not sure it even counts).

In fact, the only German word I know is Vergangenheitsbewältigung, which means more or less "the process of coming to terms with the past," usually used to refer to how Germans after the Second World War dealt with the aftermath of the Holocaust. You'd be amazed how often that doesn't come up in conversations where all you want to do is ask for directions across town.

Anyway, it was partially my fault, because there are two train stations in Dresden, and I got off at the first one, which was far away from where I needed to be, whereas if I'd just sat tight and waited, I probably would have been taken to the one that was closer. Or whisked off into the wilds of Germany. In any case I got to ride the tram and see a little of the city center that way, and it was pleasant once I figured out where I was going to.

Then there was a bit of embarrassment when I finally found the Czech Embassy, and rang the bell next to the front gate, and was told that Visa services was 'on the right'. I looked around a bit, looked next door, determined that was a doctor's office, and went back. "I don't understand," I told the speaker box. A woman had to lean out of an upper-story window of the Embassy and point me around the side of the building. My confusion was based on the fact that the front gate to the Czech Embassy, that portal on one side of which is German and the other Czech sovereign territory... was unlocked. Anybody could just walk in. I have a certain amount of experience with embassies, living in D.C. and now with the visa stuff here, and never, nevernever, have I been to one that you could get into without a metal detector and a badge and a passport check, at the very least.

Anyway, I spent about an hour doing paperwork pertaining to my visa, so that's done. I'll have my answer within 60 days. So this is either the beginning of me being able to stay here all of next year, or the beginning of my last 60 days in Prague. Fingers crossed, hope for the best, lather, rinse, repeat.

I then took the tram back to the train station. I hung around for about two hours, looking at the local Dresden-ness and window shopping. I also on the spur of the moment got another helix piercing done, since I have been collecting them for places I have been (I have Rhode Island, London, and Seattle). I had been holding off getting one in Prague because I plan on staying so what's the rush, but who knows when I'll be in Germany again? (Probably two weeks from now when David gets here, as he really wants to hit at least two European countries this visit).

By this time I was ready to gnaw my own arm off with hunger, and I decided that though the spirit was willing, the flesh was unable to stick to the plan of waiting to get back on the train and hit up the dining car (this turned out to be a good move, as the train back didn't have a dining car, and I shudder to think of the misery had I not broken down and had dinner earlier).

So. I currently make Czech crowns, and it takes 27 of those to make 1 Euro. So everything in Germany is very, very expensive, from my perspective. So I'm not making excuses, and I'm certainly not proud of it, but I just want you to know that there is a reason why I the first German meal of my life was eaten at a Burger King, and that reason is that I am a poor teacher and anything else was simply outside of my price range. (Now that I mention it, though, I recall that my first Czech meal was at IKEA, so maybe I'm just sticking with the trend).

Anyway, this has a point, and that point is that I have been in a foreign fast-food establishment, and the situation is worse than Pulp Fiction told us. For, in Burger Kings in Germany, a Chicken Club sandwich isn't a Chicken Club sandwich, it's a Long Chicken. My hunger for science was outweighed by my actual hunger, and so I did not purchase and consume such a horrible-sounding foodstuff. So in the absence of actual evidence, I will simply hope and pray that Long Chicken is a horrible, horrible marketing choice, and does not come from the same source as the more-famous long pig, and leave it at that.

Back in Prague now, and it's amazing how much more comfortable this far-from-home place where I know no one and don't speak the language feels. A lot of it is still so strange, but it's familliar strange, in a way.

Erin

ladyfalcon: (Default)
Man. I was gonna get stuff done today. Like, I was going to clean my room and get all my paperwork ready for going to Dresden tomorrow, and do laundry and read a ton.

Then I woke up at 11 and discovered that our water is off for the building. No laundry, no doing the dishes, no cleaning. No flushing the toilet, for fuck's sake.

It's funny that, day to day, I don't really feel the need to learn more Czech than I already know, because I get around fine. But about once every month or so, something like this happens, where I know there was a sign posted or an announcement made, and because I couldn't understand it, I'm missing vital information. Or I get into a situation where I desperately need to make someone understand specific information, and I have to worry about whether it's even possible, whether a translator or an expert English user can even be found. And then I realize that if I stay here, my first priority should be getting into a Czech for foreigners class, pronto.

And I don't shower every day (you don't actually need to and it takes too much time, and no one can tell me different), but I can't imagine doing anything before I've brushed my teeth. Which I also can't do. So fuck it, I'm going to stay in bed and tool around on the internet and basically waste time until we have water again.

Although, I don't care if I can't brush my teeth, I AM going to see Watchmen tonight. It came out here at the same time as in the U.S., which never happens, but my work schedule has so far kept me from seeing it. This is the night, and nothing will stop me.

Dresden tomorrow for visa stuff, which means that after that point, Official People will know who I am and where I live, so I will be a lot closer to either being legal here, or being deported. Fun stuff.

Erin

ladyfalcon: (Default)
So. According to my boss, despite the fact that I haven't gone anywhere or turned anything in, my visa stuff is on time. Or "in process," as she puts it. I do not know how this could be, but she told me not to worry, and agreed (I think) to call the labor office for me and plead my case.

As you can probably tell, it's hard to get a single straight answer from my boss. For one thing, she doesn't speak absolutely the best English, and for another, I get the impression that sometimes she makes stuff up as she goes along. Generally, I ask her the same questions two or three times, then try to extrapolate the average from the different answers she gives me. In any case, she seems unfussed about the possibility of me getting deported, so there's that.

She's really going to want to keep me, too, particularly once New York Colleague gives her two-week's notice in a few days.

While that's kind of sort of comforting, more news is coming through the expat community of deportations, and people leaving so as not to be deported. Our British and Australian friends are fine, what with not needing visas, but a lot of Americans here are going around scared. I'm just trying to keep my head on straight and looking forward to David coming in two weeks so as to keep my focus positive.

Erin
ladyfalcon: (Default)
I just talked to my father about the possibility of getting deported. I feel much better about it, actually, although obviously I still come down 100% in the category of 'don't fucking do that to me, please'.

The thing that had been worrying me most was the real potential of spending a night or two in jail before I can actually get put on a plane and leave. The friend-of-a-friend who got deported (for turning in a visa application two weeks late - I'm already five weeks late), spent a night in jail. I was stressed about that.

My dad, though, just said, "Well, it'll be an experience." I get the impression that my mother and he were expecting me to end up in jail at some point anyway, and are mostly just relieved to find that it isn't going to be for actually doing something wrong. Although now that I think about it, it's really just a continuation of a problem I've been having all my life, that of turning homework in on time.

Also he says it's unlikely to affect my ability to get security clearance for jobs in the future. Which is excellent. I mean, in D.C., every job worth having requires security clearance. My friend Mike's summer job required security clearance and some sort of contractual oath of secrecy. It would suck if I crippled my lifelong chances of employment in my hometown for a situation that was neither my fault nor totally avoidable. Apparently if I had come a month earlier and turned in my application with the same degree of lateness, it wouldn't have mattered at all, but with the current economic situation being what it is, the government is rejecting even on-time visa applications out of hand. The difference is, if you apply on time and are rejected, you are simply reminded that you have to leave once your three months are up. If it's late and they reject it, you're already illegal, and now the government knows where you live. So, deportation.

I have an appointment to go to Dresden to turn in my application on the 30th. My dad convinced me that attempting to stay in Prague for a year or whatever without even turning in a visa application is not the way to go, so at least I'll get to see a bit of Germany as well?

So yes. I'm not so scared anymore, although if I have to go home I will be heartbroken and also I have no clue what my next step would be at all. On the other hand, I would certainly have something awesome to put on that LJ meme of '10 things I've done that you probably haven't.'

I also need to find out if, when they deport you, they make you pay for the plane ticket. The silver lining of this whole thing would definitely be if I got to go home and see my family and friends for free, since right now I can't pay for squat. Last month, my meager pay-packet savings were eaten up by an emergency at the copy shop (I wanted 1 color copy and 8 black and white copies of a set of flash cards for my kids - I wound up with 9 color copies, for a bill of around 50 American dollars, which was everything I had). This month, my savings are being eaten up by an emergency cardiologists appointment. I was having an irregular heartbeat, and between my need to see someone who speaks English, and my lack of national health insurance, I needed to find a private doctor, which promises to be expensive.

Anyway, I remember back when I first came to Prague, I went to the plaque in the Charles Bridge that is said to grant a wish - one wish per lifetime to anyone who rubs the plaque. I wished that I would get to stay in Prague. I read later that the plaque is also supposed to ensure that anyone who touches it will return to Prague, so I really doubled up on the power for my particular wish, kind of like blowing out your birthday candles while holding a four-leaf clover. I have to believe that if the contract runs out on my own wish, the power of the plaque will re-assert itself and I will be returning to Prague in short order.

Ah, well. I said I wanted adventure. I can't be mad at the world for providing.

Erin

ladyfalcon: (Default)
Ten minutes into my first day back at work, and I have already managed to:

1) Drop my entire alarm clock into a cup of cold tea, thereby killing it,

and,

2) Pop a blister on my thumb that I'm pretty sure should have remained un-popped for at least a few more days.

Yeah. Getting all the bad out early. It's gonna be a good day!

(Also I stayed up obscenely, stupidly late last night thinking about Wuthering Heights, which I am listening to on audiotape as a method to soothe me to sleep. As soothing material, it is the worst choice ever, but man oh man, what a book).

Erin

ladyfalcon: (Default)
Finally broke down and went to the doctor today.

It was kind of an adventure. Really, when I asked my school's receptionist Željka what sort of decongestant medicine is good here, I meant like, What's Czech for NyQuil? But apparently they don't have such a big over-the-counter culture here, so she found me a doctor. It was a precious gift, this referral, because I have not yet turned in my visa application and thus am not yet covered by Czech healthcare. My American healthcare is disaster-only, and a headcold, no matter how bad, is not a disaster.

Then there was the excitement of actually finding the guy. His office is all the way over on the end of the green line, and oh, by the way, I only had an hour to get there before he closed for the week. And Željka didn't give me any directions on how to get there past telling me what metro stop to go to.

But, I got there. I even found the street. There was a little confusion before I learned that while Prague streets, like in America, have the odd numbers on one side of the streets and the evens on the other, in Prague, the even numbers go down the street while the odds go up the other side. So if, for example, you are looking for Jugoslavských partizánu 15, and you are directly across the street from Jugoslavských partizánu 16, you are not actually in front of 15, but 3. 15 is further down.

I would be a lot more annoyed about this if it weren't for the fact that entering the wrong building gave me the chance to hold the door for the most unspeakably adorable little old woman ever. On hearing that I was an American, she wanted to tell me all about her son who lives in Chicago teaching physical education, and how she wishes she wasn't waiting for a heart operation so that she could visit America again, because she loves America. For serious, I like America just fine, but I will never be able to muster the sheer delighted enthusiasm this lady had for the whole country. I loved her and wanted to stay and talk but at this point I had 10 minutes to get to the doctor.

I did finally find it, and it was flat-out the most decrepit doctor's office I've ever been in. Also, he spoke no English, which is fine because it gave me another chance to utilize my fool-proof Sharing Vital Information with Non-English Speakers method, which is to call one of my Czech friends, explain the situation to them, and then pass the phone off to the N-E S. Željka had been expecting this maneuver, so all was accomplished in good time. I got a prescription for a decongestant and one for an antibiotic, and had my first experience with Czech pharmacies getting them filled. And spent all but my last 200 crowns on filling them, but this is fine as I expect to get at least part of my pay packet on Monday.

I wasn't going to actually take the antibiotics, as a cold is a virus, and I know the effects of too-heavy antibiotics use, especially in Europe, but it occurred to me that with the amount of time I've had this cold, I'm probably cruising for a sinus infection, which would be... double-plus ungood. I'm already likely to be broke for the next two months with all the time I've taken off work, and if the cold laid me up I can't imagine soldiering through with sinusitis.

Really, what I wish is that other cultures would adopt the Japanese style of wearing surgical masks when sick. I know it's crazy, but lookit: On the one hand, it reduces the spread of illness, which is very important when you ride the crowded metro every day, f'rinstance. Secondly, for me at least, the single worst thing about being sick is that my nose gets beet-red from repeated tissue use, and I would actually rather walk around looking like a naughty nurse from a porno than like some sort of alcohol-soaked lush with the sniffles. Maybe that's just me. Still, spread the word: Surgical masks - the wave of the future.

Now I've just taken my pills like a good patient and am hoping fervently that the decongestant knocks me the fuck out for at least the next 12 hours.

Erin
ladyfalcon: (Default)
Ugh. I'm getting sick again already. I can feel it in my throat and chest. I've had maybe four days free of runny noses since my last cold, and I can just feel it starting up once more. Teaching children in the winter? worst idea ever.

I told Mr. Valín about this today, as a sort of 'don't be surprised if I cancel some lessons' forewarning, and he advised eating garlic as a means of fending off the dread disease. So I decided to experiment - I had a nice dinner of beef and potato wedges with about half a bulb of garlic chopped up in it, but that didn't really seem to affect the sick feeling, although it did make me happy so I was less focused on worrying about getting ill. Anyway I decided to step up the experiment, so right now I am nibbling slowly on a raw garlic clove. The experience is about as intense as one would expect. I could really care less if I smell like a pizza kitchen for the next week, so long as I'm not hacking up a lung and having my brains running out my nose for the same amount of time.

I may be giving my tongue chemical burns from the intensity of the garlic, but it is indeed strangely soothing on my sore throat. I will report on the results of my cold-destroying garlic-chewing experiment as they become available.

Erin
ladyfalcon: (Default)
Guys guys guys. It's a fish. With a transparent head.

In other non-fish news: I still miss my dog (not really news, but the biggest day-to-day workout my emotions get). I still like teaching. AND my best friend from high school has bought plane tickets to come visit me in April. It's lucky that one of my three favorite people on earth is also the one and only person I know with enough money right now to come see me. (The other top three, my dad and Krystle, are not so lucky, but I am just counting myself fortunate that, if only one person is able to see me, at least it's also someone I actually want to see, and not, say, an old enemy or indifferent acquaintance.

Erin

ladyfalcon: (Windswept)
Today was the first day since coming here that I would have rather been at home in D.C. than here in Prague. God. I have actually never been this happy. Because real happiness, I think, requires the hope for future happiness. I've never been able to look forward to the next four years so much.

I can't wait to see what the future holds for my whole country. I feel love stretching me from the inside, and it's so good.
ladyfalcon: (autumn kisses)
SO. Today was not my first bad day in Prague. I had some bad days back in my TEFL program. There was the day where I went to laugh at something and wound up crying instead. There was the day I got in a shouting match with my instructor, which was actually less of a shouting match and more of a contest to see who could fit their head farther up their own ass (it was a tie).

This was my first non-TEFL related bad day, though. All because I decided to stop being a criminal.

See, I've been riding the Prague public transportation for free for a while now. And by 'a while now' I mean 'since I got here'. Tickets on the Prague system are bought by time (the cheapest being a half-hour ticket at 18 Kc). They're paper and cheap and you basically get it stamped by a machine on your way into the station and then you're free to go about your business. And usually I just... don't buy a ticket. Because most people have month-passes that are basically ID cards that sit in your pocket and the way you 'use' them is just to produce them if an inspector ever asks. But after about two weeks of consistently buying paper tickets and never being asked to produce them, I just stopped paying altogether. There's a ton of things that require me to use coins around here that made me not want to put my precious metals in the ticket machine. And no one ever bothered me.

My reasons for changing this way of doing things were many. For one, even though I have never been asked to show a ticket, I have seen ticket inspectors on platforms and always felt a frisson of fear that I could really do without. Second is that it just seems wrong to cheat the country that I'm trying to get a visa in. And third is that I'm getting an extra 580 Kc's a month from my job to pay for the month pass, so I figured I might as well get one. And I had some hours free between lessons today, so why not?

But god. Why did it have to be such a hassle? Crime was easier!

First problem is that not all Metro stations have manned ticket counters where you can buy a month-pass. I wound up going to Florenc, which I had heard had one. But Florenc is a transfer point, and a big station, so after wandering around for about 10 minutes I decided to head all the way up the yellow line to Vysočanská instead, because I knew for a fact they would make the pass.

I also knew I needed a passport photo for the pass, but the photo booth in Florenc had an old woman sleeping in it (!), so I decided not to bother her. You see those booths all around anyway, so I was certain of there being one when I needed it.

So. All the way up to Vysočanská. For reference, I started my trip at Kačerov, which is three stops from the end of the red line, and Vysočanská is three stops away from the other end of the yellow line. So I've basically crossed the whole of Prague already at this point. It is a long trip.

So I get to Vysočanská. I even find the ticket counter. I am told that to get a month-pass I need a passport photo. I ask where the nearest photo booth is.

I am told that it is at Palmovka. Two stops away back the way I came. I am also, humiliatingly, given a map of the Metro with Palmovka circled on it, despite my replies of 'ano' and 'rozumím' to indicate understanding.

So. I get to Palmovka. I find the photo booth. It is empty of old ladies. It is 100 Kc for ID photos, and I deposit my change.

Except that I do not have enough change. The machine doesn't accept coins smaller than 5 Kc, and I am five measly koruna too short to complete the purchase. I would have plenty if the thing accepted 1 or 2 Kc coins, but alas.

Oh, and did I mention that the machine doesn't give change, either? So I actually have no change.

And the guy at the tabak refused to let me purchase a Kit-Kat bar with the 1,000 Kc note that I took from an ATM to pay for the pass with. (It is one of my few enduring annoyances with the Czech Republic that the banknote generally issued from a bankomat is the 1,000 Kc note, which is impractical for small purchases. Imagine trying to buy a soda with a $50 bill. I find myself buying stuff I don't want just so that I don't feel ridiculous at cash registers, or worse, get turned down as I was today. At least at home, the basic bill issued by machines is the $20, which is versatile in that it is neither too big nor too small to be useful).

So okay. I go to the ATM, remove an extra 200 Kc bill, and the guy at the tabak is nice enough to change it for me without making me buy anything. Bless his heart.

I go back to the photo booth. The machine informs me that, sorry, "Due to huge demand, I am out of film at this time."

Grumph. Back on the train, ALL the way back to Florenc. I have now been in the Metro system for two hours.

It was around this time that things non-related to my goddamned odyssey really started to bother me.

For example: I usually do not get particularly exercised by the behavior of people on the Prague escalator. Those of you who have been around since my epic DC ranting days know that I think you have to be literally born in a barn to not know and heed the 'stand right, walk left' rule. I can't tell you how many times my perpetually late self got stuck on some DC Metro escalator behind two seemingly able-bodied out-of-towners and just. God. It makes my blood boil. I have to get to work, this is a two-lane device, what the fuck.

But, see, that is in DC. My town. This is Prague. Whatever Prague-people want to do with their public utilities is their entire right and privilege. Also, I think when they were making this Metro system they looked at what happened in London during the Blitz and decided to dig the thing extra-deep, because these escalators are really fucking long in any case. So whatever. Prague-dwellers stand two abreast on the Metro escalators, and I settle in for the ride and remember to tack on an extra five minutes to any commute calculations I make.

Except. Except today, I was trapped in Metro hell for literally hours, made worse by every single person who decided that they neither wanted to walk up the Escalator to Fucking Heaven, nor did they want to shift two feet to the right so that I could get by. And by this point that was getting right up my left nostril.

Another thing that usually doesn't press me but did today: Standing Too Damn Close in Non-Enclosed Public Spaces. The only time previous to this that it's actually been a problem was at a coffee shop where this woman beside me in line was so close that literally every motion of her near arm rubbed on mine. And every time I stepped away, she would wait a moment then follow. I am absolutely certain that she wasn't aware of what she was doing (not as such, for example she wasn't trying to surreptitiously pick my pocket), but at the same time I know that if it hadn't been for the language barrier I would have screamed at her, because it was unbelievably irritating and really fucking aggressive, if a probably-unconscious act can be aggressive. Anyway, today was another day for people rubbing all up on me, and I was Not In The Mood.

Luckily at this point things started looking up. I got to Florenc, the old lady had left the photo booth, I got my photo, went back to Vysočanská, paid my 580 Kc, got my goddamned ID. It sounds quick but took about 40 minutes. I even made it all the way back to Budějovická in time for my 4.30 lesson without being late. Total consecutive hours logged without leaving the Metro system once: two and a half.

But still it begs some questions. Like: If only a limited number of Metro stops are equipped to provide the (I.D. photo required) month-pass, why is one of the only Metro stops so equipped also one of the only Metro stops without an I.D. photo booth? And: If you don't want people sneaking rides on the Metro for free, why make it so goddamned hard for them to do it the legal way? (I for one took about 3 days worth of free ridetime today between all the running around I did).

I was a lot more exercised about this whole thing before I had the lesson with my entirely brilliant Advanced Certificate student, and I'm even less bothered now that I've had a BLT for dinner and am looking at a shower and bed before I have to get up at 6.00 tomorrow (teaching is hard work, y'all). But at the time I was about ready to cry or kill something every time an obstacle sent me that little bit back towards the way I had just come.

Who cares, though, amirite? I'm in Prague, where the people are beautiful and kind and generous to a fault. I'm making money doing fun stuff, and with my stable of individual students growing fast, I stand to be making a lot more money very soon. Every day something great happens where I look around and wonder, god, why isn't everyone doing this?

Seriously? It's pretty fucking great.

Erin
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Ugh. Went in at 9.00 this morning. Was told at 9.30 that I need to prepare a lesson for 3.00 TODAY for this woman who's paid for lessons for her 3 kids through January, but for some reason the teacher who's been with them... can't do it anymore? I have no idea why a) their old teacher isn't just keeping them for the last month, or b) why I need to be the one to do this (I already have 17 hours a week on my schedule, versus my roommate Laurence who has six. I mean, this means I make more money, but Jesus, I already had to do an emergency lesson yesterday, isn't it his turn yet?)

Things I can't wait for: First paycheck, Spring (so so so tired of snow & cold), lunch, bedtime.

Erin
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Happy New Year's, everybody!

I rang in the new year standing in slippers and coat out on my balcony, watching approximately a million dollar's worth of incendiary devices being lit off all over the city. The nearest fireworks display was only half a block from us, but from our house we could see seven or eight different shows all going on at once. The entire horizon was lit up by fireworks. Maybe next year we'll put on our own show - unlike back at home, there are no laws keeping average citizens from getting their hands on the good stuff.

On the Charles Bridge, there are double rows of these fantastic old statues (although a lot of them are reproductions as the originals have been moved to keep them safe from weather and vandals). One of the statues has a bass plaque in the base, showing the scene of some martyr being killed by being thrown off the bridge. Depending on who you talk to, you rub either this one woman's back or a dog's belly that appear on the plaque, and you make a wish. But you only get one wish this way, ever, for your whole life. It's like Narnia, you don't get in via the same door twice.

So the first weekend I was here, I went to the wish-plaque. I kind of tried to think about my wish like a... responsible wish-maker? Is there even such a thing?

Anyway, I couldn't, because I already knew what I wanted right away. So I rubbed the plaque (woman and dog both), looked out on the lights reflecting off the Vltava river, and thought, I wish that I could stay here forever.

So I guess my new year's resolution is to do everything I can to make that wish come true.

And to remain completely fucking badass, of course.

Erin

ETA: If you look up John of Nepomuk in Wikipedia, you will see a picture of the statue and the two brass plaques, which are shiny on both the dog and the woman's back where people have been touching and wishing.
ladyfalcon: (Default)
So, after two interviews, I got a job offer at one place (The British School) to start Friday, and an invitation to attend the other place's Christmas part (Alternativ School) that I'm pretty sure constitutes a strong statement of interest.

Neither one is in my first tier of choices, however, so I'm probably going to try and hold out.

Remember the last time I had such an abundance of choices? Cause I sure don't. I am very happy.

Erin
ladyfalcon: (Default)
So, I had a fairly-good-to-middling lesson plan all worked out around 2 this morning.

Then I got a really great idea (I thought), and threw all that out and started over. With no reference to the teacher's book or anything

At 6, I slept. At 8.45, I got up. After 2.5 hours of sleep and too late to change anything, it still looked like a good idea.

The one thing I know is that this is going to be spectacular. The only thing that remains to be determined: Spectacularly good or spectacularly bad?

Erin
ladyfalcon: (Default)
Still in Prague. Still no internet unless I'm at school (and only allowed to use it during breaks) or in the mall next to school, which is why I've been fairly incommunicado even though I'm having amazing adventures.

It snowed yesterday and was generally gorgeous, and we went down to the old town square and across the Charles Bridge and drank mulled wine. It was all very exciting, until I realized that it's NOVEMBER and I'm probably going to be well sick of snow by whenever it stops. March? I'm hoping it'll be completely over by March.

Also I'm considering taking whatever Christmas money I get and going to London for a few days. I can finally relive the experience of good lamb shish kebab!

Erin
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