Wednesday, December 30, 2009

First Christmas in the Czech Republic

One of my roommate's (or, in European, "flatmate") invited me to spend Christmas with her family in her hometown. They do the main thing, with CARP, on Christmas Eve (what they call "Christmas") with family. So, on the afternoon of the 25th, I hopped on the bus for a quick one-hour journey north toward the German border.

It was such a weird thing. I was on the bus, just looking out the window. I see this wonderful wall with grass on top and it looks like what used to be a moat surrounding the wall. I was wondering to myself what wonderful place this could be....and then I saw the sign...Terezin. And then there were all the tour signs for the Jewish Ghetto, etc. I would like to go back and have a tour, maybe when the weather warms up a little. And when I'm really ready for a good cry!

The name of the town in Czech is Terezin, but like most things in that region there are Czech names and German names for just about everything.
I didn't read all the detailed history, just the beginning and the end...of the 15,000 kids sent there...93 survived. can people do this to one another??

Here are some pictues (not taken by me...just from Google Images):

The city I was headed to was just a little further on, Litoměřice.
A truly beautiful city. I loved it there! December 26th was a beautiful warm (relatively) and sunny day! So we took off on a hike up a hill. The view of the city was incredible. I spent 2 nights with my friend's family. They were so warm and inviting to me. I had such an excellent time. A wonderful first Christmas in the Czech Republic!

Pictures to come soon!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Applying for a Long Stay Visa

To apply for a visa to a country, you have to do it at the country's embassy OUTSIDE of the country. So, in order to apply for my long stay visa for Czech Republic I had to go to the Czech Embassy in Bratislava, Slovakia. The embassy takes visa applications from the US, and other "friendly" countries without an appointment between the hours of 10 and 11 Monday through Thursday. In order to be there on time, this required getting on the train in Prague at 12:42 A.M. for arrival in Bratislava around 5:30 a.m. The train was going from Berlin to Budapest but I was lucky to find a seat to commence 5 hours of attempting to sleep sitting straight up. Lucky me.

At 5:30 a.m. nothing in the Bratislava train station is open. I just needed to kill some time, have a cup of coffee, etc. Not even the coffee shop was open. And the train station is open air. There are no main doors, it just opens to the street. So, at 5:30 in the morning, when my options for warmth included only coffee and hot chocolate from the vending machine, I found a place to sit on a ledge (there aren't benches there either) and read.

Finally, around 6:30, the coffee shop opened. I sought out some warmth and a freshly made cappuccino.
Disappointment 1: it wasn't any warmer in there
Disappointment 2: the cappuccino tasted like someone made it yesterday it was the WORST cappuccino of my life
Disappointment 3: the first and ONLY cockroach I have seen since I left New York City was slowly meandering it's way up the wall next to the table where I was sipping the worst cappuccino of my life

Around 8 a.m. I left the train station to head into the city to find the embassy. The bus was dirty ... dirtier than any I've been on in Prague or NYC. I found the embassy. A very unassuming building right next to the American Embassy. The American Embassy had a huge fortress covering the street so no cars could go by without checking in. There were metal detectors and guards and just an overall showy appearance. The Czech Embassy had a red door and a doorbell. I rang the doorbell, told them I was there to apply for a visa, and they buzzed me in.

The process went pretty quickly. I was there for about an hour...not sure why...just waiting around. But I was able to get back to the train station to get the 12:30 p.m. train back to Prague! And I was so happy to be home! I picked up Kazimir from the babysitter (ahoj Sarka!) and headed home to sleep.

Except I wasn't able to sleep. My friend Dave came over and then guilted me into going to movie night at Tim's house. So...I had a VERY long day!

Keep your fingers crossed that the embassy will smile on me and grant my long stay visa!!

the other day in the grocery story

So I was in the grocery store the other day humming along to the music. I didn't really realize I was doing it at first because I was paying more attention to my shopping list than to what I was listening to. Until I started singing along....I was singing along to "I touch myself" by the Divinyls. Lyrics and everything...not elevator music...was playing in the grocery store.

Here's the youtube link so you can reminisce about high school with me!

I love Prague!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Venetian Travels

Wednesdays are really long days for me. I got home around 9 p.m. on Wednesday, 18 November. My roommate started talking about going to Venice...would I be interested. Come to find out...they were leaving the next night. Well, of course I was interested! So, we left Thursday night around 9 and drove through the night. Got to Venice and settled into a hostel and wandered around the city. On Saturday and Sunday we toured La Biennale, a huge world wide art exhibition. It was wonderful! We left Venice around 6:30 Sunday night and after driving around Innsbruck looking at architecture, got back to Prague around 6:30 Monday morning! I slept for a few hours in my bed and then started the week!

Of course, Kazimir came on the trip. He was such a good boy. We even met another chihuahua in Venice who looked a lot like him!

The funny thing is that while I was driving to Venice my mom was driving from Northern California to Southern California. The drive to Venice, going through Plzen, Munich, Innsbruck, etc was about 575 miles. The drive from my mom's house to my sister's house, going through PART of California, was 550 miles!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Name is Suzannah!

Zuzana is a Czech name. The name day for Zuzana is August 11th. For information on name days click here:

The point is...I've met more people in 3 months here named Zuzana then I've ever met in my life. There's nothing wrong with that. I'm happy that elsewhere in the world this wonderful name is celebrated.

So here's the problem: Whenever a Czech meets me, even after I've introduced myself at Suzannah, they call me "Susan"...and as anyone who's ever made this mistake will tell you...THAT'S NOT MY NAME!!! Apparently that's the translation of Zuzana into they think that's my name. It is exceedingly difficult to get them to understand that my name is, in fact, SUZANNAH. And while it isn't spelled the Czech way (Zuzana), it's the SAME NAME.

I just had to get that off my chest. Off to bed!

Friday, October 30, 2009

What I should be updating about...

to answer Jeff's question...NO, Kazimir did NOT eat my next blog post. My camera and my computer have stopped communicating. Not sure what the fight is about but they are clearly NOT on speaking terms. So, I'm going to borrow my friend's card reader but he happens to be in the Ukraine right now. As soon as he gets back I will hold him down, steal his card reader, and update the blog, properly with photos.

Here are some things I should update about (NOTE: not in chronological order...and they probably won't get updated in chronological order either!):
where I live and my living situation
the Praha zoo
the Jewish Quarter
visa woes
Czech holidays (and how they differ from American holidays)
amazing live Irish music
heavy metal in old town square
my roommate's going away party

That's just a sampling of what is to come! (I PROMISE!!!)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The New Addition

Anyone who's known me for more than maybe 10 minutes knows that I love animals. When I came to Prague, the hardest thing I had to do was leave behind my two beloved critters, Charlie Parker and Kiyomi. They are both in extremely loving homes. Half the time Charlie chose Ilana over me anyhow, so no big stretch that he stayed with her. And Kiyomi, the wonderful herding dog, gets more exercise and more herding practice now than she ever did before. She has 4 great kids to herd around the yard.

So the animals are doing well. The problem was that I wasn't doing well! And no matter how many times I weighed the positives of not having an animal to look after....I couldn't accept it! I have NEVER in my life lived without animals. And I decided I didn't like it one bit.

The challenge then....what to do? I would have cost a LOT of money to ship Kiyomi to me, been extremely hard on her, and then another LOT of money to ship her wherever I end up going next. And, it would be hard to take her away from those four kids she gets to herd around!

So I began a search for a LITTLE dog so that I could take it with me and never leave an animal behind again. Which brought me to Professor Ellyot Kazimir.... Kazi or Kazimirek is what he's called. He's 6 months old today. Currently weighs about 1 kg 600 grams! He will probably never even get to 2 kg! Super tiny and super adorable. His teeth aren't "perfect" so his tongue is usually sticking out which is just about the cutest thing ever! I got him from a woman who shows chihuahuas and breeds them. But they all run around her house and yard free, not kept in kennels. I met Kazimir's parents and grandmother! Kazi can't be shown or bred because he's too small and has funky teeth which makes him the perfect boy for me!

And he loves me best!

Monday, September 14, 2009

who am I?

I just had a realization. I'm going to a friend's house tonight for a going away party for a friend moving back to London. I was about to ask one of the partygoer's if his female companion would be joining him, to get a rough number for how many cookies would be required. Except that I haven't the stuff to make cookies. I haven't baked in over 6 weeks....probably a couple weeks longer than that. This is weird. I think I'll have to rectify this soon. It is such an odd thing that all my friends here have no real idea that I'm a big baker. I feel like I'm living a double life!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

acclimated to Prague

How do you know when you've become acclimated to Prague?

When you can go out to watch American football, drink 2.8 L of beer, and get home, get in bed and pluck your eyebrows like normal. (and then, of course, update the blog!!)

Good grief. Almost 3L of beer.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Bowling in foreign lands

It never really occurred to me before last night...but I think bowling is probably mostly an American past time? Maybe I'm wrong, but last night we decided to go bowling at a bowling alley near my apartment.

We were a little nervous because it was almost 10 p.m. and we were on our way. We had Anja call (she's Czech!) to see if it was possible to reserve a lane, thinking they would be really crowded on a Saturday night. We got there and there was NO ONE there! All eight lanes were dark. They turned one on so that we could bowl. Crazy. Not cheap, but a good time. They could have turned up the rockin' '80's music a bit though!!

Picture of me bowling in an empty bowling alley!

Saturday, September 5, 2009


This has nothing to do with my life in Prague. But it does have something to do with my life BEFORE Prague....

I worked on a super funny, super amazing film short in Spring 2009. It is being entered into various film events because it is super great. The short is called SpyTime and click on the IMDB link below to watch the trailer. So great!

SpyTime is an Official Selection in the:

2009 Inaugural Thrillspy International Film Festival

It will screen 5:15 at the Goethe Theatre in DC on Friday, Oct. 9

SpyTime On IMDB & Trailer:

And...because I'm a production assistant....I have my own IMDB page...oh yeah...I'm all that!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Good News!

It's been a busy but great couple of days!

Yesterday I took the 'language awareness' exam and taught my final lesson for school! The exam was an overview of grammar, phonology and a few of the principles of teaching....I got an 'A'! The final lesson went well, a little sad because I've really enjoyed the students.

Today I had moderation for school and had a second interview at a business English company. The moderation went really well. The moderator comes in from Trinity in London to meet with everyone and score the final project that we submit. You have to talk about the linguistic aims of materials that were made for class, not using the coursebook. It went really well! The interview included a mock lesson. It didn't go amazingly well (truth be told I'm fighting a cold right now and only wanted to be sleeping) but it wasn't a bomb either. She says she'll let me know tomorrow. I do already have one job lined up with a language school, but until I'm full time, I can try to become full time through various jobs.

I am moving tomorrow, Thursday or Friday, depending on how I feel, but have to be out of this student flat by Friday noon. I found a place to live that is only about 3 blocks from where I live great! It's only for a month, after that I'll figure out where I want to live longer term, but this place was really cheap and close so I took it while I decide where I want to live.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Two live bands since I left the States

I know...I know...I need to update more so that when I sit down to update I won't be flooded with everything that has happened!

I saw Radiohead Sunday night. I really like going to concerts in foreign countries. I saw U2 in Dublin, which really can't compare to any other experience. To see them in their home country, where even people who don't really like their music appreciate them because they're an institution. In a huge stadium packed full...nothing compares to that.

But, Radiohead on Sunday was fun, too. The park where they played actually sloped DOWN, instead of UP, so those of us in the cheap 'seats' couldn't see a damn thing. There was a nice light show, and the music was really good. I'd never seen them live before (and actually still haven't actually SEEN them live) but to hear them live was great.

Just funny because I'm trying hard to remember the last live band I saw before I left NYC and now I've seen two and not just two, but two really big ones.

(the pic with me is U2 and the other is Radiohead)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I brought a whole bunch of tea with me....but drank my last bag of PG Tips this morning....AHHHHH!!!

On Friday night, while I was winning the poker game thank you very much, I asked a funny talker (i.e. a British guy) where to buy tea. He told me about a tea shop. I knew he'd know. All you have to do it find a Brit and they'll point you to the tea! After he told me about the one by school I realized I have one about a block from the flat where I'm staying! I haven't been in yet but I'm super excited and thought I should share!

Monday, August 17, 2009

apartment hunting and creepy art

The other day I opened up my blog to create a new post and EVERYTHING WAS IN CZECH!! I couldn't figure out which button to push to get me to English. Then, somehow, it was magically back in a language I can understand, unfortunately only English.

So here I am.

Lots has been going on! Mostly studying and homework, but also some exciting things like job hunting and apartment searching. I have a job interview on Thursday and send me CV out constantly.

I looked at 4 rooms in apartments over the weekend and I think I found the one I want. It has tons of light which is generally my #1 requirement. (P.S. when teaching English, this symbol #, is called a hash because that's what they call it in England....those English are trouble!) I'm going back on Tuesday evening to check it out and my current female roommate is going to come with me and maybe take the other room, he's got 2 available. It doesn't have a bathtub but, hopefully, I'll live through that! And maybe the most exciting thing is that there's a balcony off this 6th floor apartment! (and I think by 6th floor it's actually on what Americans would call the 7th floor because they count US 1st floor as 0 and start actually counting on the first floor above the ground...very tricky) And, the view from the balcony is of the tv tower which has these super creepy babies crawling up it! It's some art thing about tv rotting kids or something...but it's really creepy. I'm posting pictures so all can share in the creepy!

It will be good to have my home situation settled. It's hiring season so I think I should be able to find a job...but keep those fingers crossed!!

Another beautiful HOT day in Prague. Supposed to be like 82F...which here is called 27C. Trying to get used to all things metric which isn't easy. A guy last night was talking about how big the entire flat is, 150m that means anything at all to me!

Enough babble for now and back to homework!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sincere apologies!

I've been in Prague for a week. I love it! I started school Monday and have had absolutely no time! So, my sincerest apologies for the lack of posts....and then again for this super short one! But this is the first night I'm done with my homework before midnight so I'm taking advantage of it and going to sleep early...go me!

Check out my facebook for a bunch more pictures of Dublin and some good ones of Prague as well.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day 4 in Dublin: a few last things

I spent much of my final morning trying to figure out what to throw out of my suitcase. I did, however, remember to take a photo of the view out of the window in my room. This photo was taken from my bed. I was the top bunk and my whole body was against just glass. It was wonderful! A wall of windows.

After I gave up trying to magically make my suitcase weigh any less, I left the hostel for my last jaunt around Dublin. I walked over to Trinity College and got the walking tour. We couldn't go in any of the buildings since everyone, save a few lonely graduate students, are on holiday, but the grounds are extremely beautiful.

Then I had my last lunch in a wonderful pub in Temple Bar called the Auld Dubliner. I got there around 1 to read my book, eat fish & chips and drink a Guinness. At 2 an Irishman came in with his guitar for live music. There weren't too many of us in the pub so it was a more intimate experience. Wonderful.

I grabbed my suitcase from the hostel and headed to the stand to wait for the air coach......which didn't come....and didn't come....and the crowd grew larger. Finally this woman asked if I wanted to split a cab. We found two more girls and the four of us filed in. Was the same price as the air coach and I GOT TO SIT IN THE FRONT SEAT....ON THE LEFT SIDE!!! It was super neato! I've never been in a backwards (read: driver on the right) car!!

So I've landed in Prague which will be discussed after I find a towel (argh) and some vittles!

one quick question

Why do the toilet seats in Dublin NOT fit the toilet bowl? Is this what I have to look forward to all through Europe? Have I been spoiled my whole life by properly fitting seats?
(The attached photo is certainly not the most offensive example, it just happened that I remembered to take a photo while at the Kilmainham Gaol yesterday.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 3 in Dublin: tourist attractions

Today I tried to get a little more done. I was very successful which also extends to updating the blog. Margot and I were out of the hostel by 9 a.m. Starting heading toward Guinness. Unfortunately, the girlie sized t-shirts are NOT made for girls with arms strong from rock climbing! So the super cute shirt I bought yesterday had to be exchanged for something with bigger arm holes. sucks. But the one I ended up with is super cute, too, and I tried it on in the store so I could confirm the fit. I'm smart like that!

Then we headed toward Kilmainham Gaol (pronounced and is a "jail").
We got a tiny bit lost because no map of downtown Dublin shows the gaol. It was a bit of a walk but we made it. It was super slick and the guide was an amazing wealth of Irish history. We learned about all the different rebellions and wars for independence and all of the key players. It was really a great history lesson.

From there we opted to take a bus back to city centre. Not lazy, just tired and hungry. I wanted to go to Christ Church Cathedral next so just after the bus passed it, we hopped off to hunt up some grub. We stumbled upon the greatest cafe, Queen of Tarts. We each had the brie and spinach tart, foccacia, broccoli salad and green salad. It was all SUPER delicious! After our delicious lunch, we had the strength to check out a big ass church and crypt.

Christ Church Cathedral has a very long and rich history. It was the site of a Viking Church in the 11th Century. On the site is the church of today. One of the founders of the "modern" church was Laurence O'Toole, who was cannonized in 1200 something and whose heart is in a shrine in the back of the church. Neato.

Following that we opted for something a little lighter, like a shopping district! We wandered through the Powerscourt centre. It is a huge Georgian building that has been turned into an upscale/antique/jewelry mall. Then we just walked around Grafton Street, a street closed off to cars for just pedestrian shopping, and stopped for a scone and tea.

I took Margot to the bus to wish her off (and so I'd know where to get the bus tomorrow!), bought some more stamps, and went a tiny bit out of my way to go over the pedestrian bridge, the Ha'Penny Bridge. Then I headed back to the hostel to catch up on my digital committments. Go me!

Day 2 in Dublin: the big green bus

Before I left the airport I bought a Dublin Bus Tour 1-day ticket. On the morning of Tuesday, 28 July, I set out for the nearest pick-up point for my big green tour bus. It was pretty much in front of Trinity College, which is cool because that's the school that certifies my impending certificate.

I was very disappointed by the bus. The "live commentary" was a recording and it would be prompted at not quite the right times, so I really didn't know what it was referencing. Really frustrating. But, I rode along until the Guinness Storehouse!!! Some things are worth enduring a bad tour. I was on that bus with 3 girls who had been to U2 the night before and had been on a well-narrated big green bus the day before. They added to my frustration because they spoke of what a good tour could be! However, they really bothered most of the other people on the bus, but I just laughed. They, too, got off at Guinness, but they disappeared into it before I was hardly off the bus! And I thought I was the one in a hurry for a pint.

I took my time. I was able to take part in a 1/2 hour lecture in the Archives room that went through the whole 250 year history of Guinness. It was really interesting. One amazing fact I'll share: the harp on the Guinness logo was trademarked in 1850something. When the Irish Euro was being created, they (the people in charge of putting images on coins) wanted to put the harp on it as a symbol of Ireland. Unfortunately for them, Guinness already had the harp image trademarked! The compromise: the harp could be used on the coin, but the image is FLIPPED from the one on the Guinness logo! Check it out sometime. Very cool the power of the Guinness company!

One more super neat thing I learned: the widget (what makes a draught can possible) is better than the internet!!

While I was there, I got to pour my own delicious pint. The Galaxy Bar, on the 7th floor, is the highest point in Dublin (because it's a tall building on top of a hill). Beautiful views. You'd be able to see further if it wasn't always raining or about to rain!

I bought postcards, a keychain (I gave up ALL my keys when I left the states but realized I'd soon need a keyring, now for my suitcase lock, and later for my flat door), and a much NOT needed t-shirt....but it is SO CUTE! (just add this to the long list of clothing I'm going to have to WEAR on the plane tomorrow!)

After leaving the Guinness Factory (finally!) I headed back out to the big green bus. This time, I was so fortunate to have a real, actually LIVE, narrator. I learned more in the 4 stops than I did in the initial 10! Sad. And you know where those 4 stops took me??!!!........The Old Jameson Distillery! Apparently Day 2 in Dublin was my alcohol fiesta.

Unfortunately I was pretty tired by the time I got there so I didn't take but only one photo. Of course it's super cute! So when John Jameson started distilling, he had warehouses full of barley....which means there were mice. So they had a cat in the warehouse, Smithy, who caught about 20 mice a day. He was such an important part of the growth of the distillery, that when he died he was STUFFED. So that picture of a cat is an ACTUAL 200 year old stuffed cat!

Super funny, after the tour, a girl recognized me from the hostel. She asked me if we slept next to each other! Ha ha ha...our beds are next to each other and I hadn't even noticed. So we walked home together and rested before dinner. Margot, the girl I just met at Jameson, and Miruna, another girl from the hostile, and I all went to dinner for some traditional Irish fare. We all split Chicken Curry, Fish & Chips and Beef & Guinness Stew. Delicious! Of course, with Guinness to drink!

We stopped by THE Temple Bar of the Temple Bar area for a quick pint before heading home for the day....long day of alcohol tours!

P.S. Not sure why the pictures came up in the order they did. I even deleted and started over...and still the stuff cat is showing up 2nd.

Day 1 in Dublin: U2!!

After my (much deserved!) nap, one of my hostel roommates was planning to go see U2. I asked if I could walk with her to see if I could find a ticket. As luck would have it, I found a girl who had one ticket for sale. luck would have it, it was quite close to my new friend's seat! So we walked in, parted but agreed to meet at the end, and went off to enjoy the show.

I'm sure U2 puts on a great show everywhere. I wouldn't know because Monday night was the first time I'd ever seen them...but to see them in DUBLIN?!! That was an event not to be missed. The crowd was a SEA of people. You couldn't tell where the floor ended and the seats began. It was incredible. I read that Croke Park can hold over 82,000....and I'm pretty sure that it was at capacity. And this was the last of 3 nights in a row that U2 was playing. Absolutely amazing.

I learned that the Wave (where people stand up with their arms up going around the stadium) is an international language. The weird thing was the HUGE amount of Budweiser at the concert. This didn't make any sense to me, but apparently they were a sponsor. I finally found the Guinness vendor...yum.

Monday, July 27, 2009

it begins!

I'm here. I'm in Dublin. However, I am so exhausted that it doesn't matter where I am. The overnight flight was not conducive to very good sleep (not that I really thought it would be). I always order a window but for some reason the plane wall was further away from the seat than normal....meaning that I couldn't comfortably lean against the window which is my normal M.O. And I had some delusion that I would be able to check into the hostel and take a shower and take a nap. Unfortunately, it's only just after noon, local time, and the room won't be ready until 2. So I'm doing everything in my power to keep my eyes open while I wait.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Oasis

I always get so nervous when needing to get to the airport that I invariably get there (here) way too early. So, here I am. My flight departs in 3 hours 10 minutes.

The perk 1: there was NO ONE in line when I checked in!
The perk 2: the cutie that checked me in is Irish!
The perk 3: the cutie Irish boy asked me if I would like to get "alinge pass" for $30...unlimited beer and cocktails and buffet and free wifi. Of course I would! I have 3 hours! However, I couldn't figure out what "alinge pass" is. I had him repeat it. Still didn't understand. So when I asked the woman at ticket sales for "alinge pass", she sold me a ticket to the LOUNGE! I had NO IDEA that's what he was saying! I guess I need to get better at guessing what foreign kids are saying since that's going to be my world for awhile!

The lounge is called "The Oasis" and the bathrooms alone made it worth the expense. Spacious stalls, well stocked with toiletries, CLEAN, even free tampax and maxithins (oxymoron?). I'm currently enjoying a Kingfisher beer and a vegetarian samosa. I'm not normally a fan of the buffet thanks to a particularly frightening Chinese restaurant experience and having been friends with Jessi (who abhors buffets more than anyone I've ever known) for so long, however......compared to buying food on the plane and/or living off of Clif bars, I'm opting for a little fruit and fried delights.

I'm not that nervous. The 1/2 xanax may be part of that (thanks Ilana!). I'm quite calm. Also, nothing feels real. I haven't had to show my passport since I was 14. That was more than 1/2 my life ago. And not only did I show it to him, he swiped it through a machine like a credit card. Things have gotten super high tech in the many years I've been away!

Saying goodbye to the roommates didn't even feel real. I think I've been gearing up for this for so long that it is just "right" that it's all happening. Go me!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

t-31 hours to take off!

My flight takes off tomorrow at 9:40 p.m. My bag currently weighs 22.3 kg. That's 2.3 kg over the allowance from Dublin to Prague. That's not including ANY books, which puts all books in my carry-on. Not quite sure what to take out at this point.

I actually feel a sense of calm. I did laundry this morning. My bag is essentially packed. The animals are taken care of (although I WILL change the litterbox before going!). I've developed a little cold but I've been taking wild amounts of EmergenC and DayQuil so I think I won't explode on the plane.

My roommates are super wonderful. They're making a wonderful last supper for me tonight. Steak and squash and wine. Delicious! Then...drinks at a pub with a huge beer selection. Which means I need to get everything done today!

I'm working on a last box of things to send to my mom to hold for me. The rest either goes to Salvation Army (about 30 bags were dropped off on Thursday!) or my niece. I'll make one last drop off at the storage facility where I've left things for my niece to get when she arrives in NYC the first of September.

Things left to do:
- make sure all contacts from my paper address book are in my computer
- eat lunch! (I just realized I'm hungry)
- go through the small stack of paper work that needs to be dealt with
- pay credit card bill

I really think that's it! I'm in a state of mild disbelief that I'm really doing this and the day has finally arrived! I actually cried a tiny bit this morning thinking that THIS IS MY LAST FULL DAY IN NYC FOR I DON'T KNOW HOW LONG! That's so exciting and so scary all at once!

But first things first....nap time! If I'm meeting people out for drinks at 10 p.m. tonight....I should probably be awake!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Kiyomi knows

Kiyomi knows I'm leaving. Or...she definitely knows something is up. I've been going through my room and have gotten rid of SO MUCH STUFF!! I think she can tell that I'm gearing up for something.

My mom arrived last Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. to help me go through everything. Last night two of the dogs were out of town so my mom just took Kiyomi out to pee. Mom was going to take her for a little bit of a walk, not just a quick pee, but as soon as Kiyomi peed she was dying to get back home. She ran in the door and straight to the shower to see me.

It made me cry a little.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fourth of July drama

Jess, Courtney and I had a great day out on The Lake in Central Park. We came home, showered, ate and sat down to play a board game.

Then we saw those telltale red and white flashing lights shining off the building across the street. Oh no!! What now!!

Apparently a line of cops were headed somewhere in a hurry and one of them got into an accident with a van. The van won. When we looked out there were SO MANY cop cars. Finally the two cops in the car were taken away on back boards. But everyone who was in the van were standing around talking.

At least nothing was on fire. But we are definitely ready for NO MORE SIRENS!!

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Needless to say, no one really felt like BBQ or fireworks. We pretty much had our fair share of excitement the night before and when EVERYTHING smells like a campfire, a BBQ doesn't sound appetizing!

Jess came up with the most wonderful idea: go row boats on The Lake in Central Park. The sky was clear (after a VERY rainy June this was a wonderful thing) and it was warm but not too hot. We took a bottle of wine and stopped at a deli for sandwiches. The line looked long for the boats but it moved quickly.

Out on the water was just what we needed. Jess, Courtney and I cruised out to a nice shady spot, listened to live music and ate our lunch. An amazing day on the water!

Friday, 3 July 2009

July 3rd 2009, Friday. Got up, had breakfast, chatted with the roommates, went to the gym, stopped by the bar where Jess works for a quick drink and then headed home.

It was a little after 9:30 p.m. and I had just taken the dogs for a walk. Courtney and I had just started another episode of Dexter when some people were yelling outside. In Harlem this is not unusual but what made me remember it is that it was so loud we had to pause rude! A few minutes later I paused Dexter again. This time because I thought I smelled smoke. My roommate thought so too. We walked around the apartment trying to figure out what could be burning. Then she opened the front door. She screamed because the hallway lights were out and the hall was filled with smoke. We grabbed the dogs (3 in all) and ran to my room, furthest away from the door and at the front of the building. We stuck a towel under the door and opened the windows.

Our street already had firetrucks and more and more kept coming. We were crying and looking around, trying to figure out what was going on. We were in an apartment on the 8th floor on the right side of the "U" shaped building. The fire was on the 5th floor on the left side of the "U".

First there was just smoke billowing out of the window. (It must have been an amazing site from the south side of the building where most of the windows are. We could only see the one window on the front of the building.) We were watching the smoke and then suddenly there were huge flames shooting out of the window. That really freaked us out! Although I knew that the fire couldn't spread to us because it would have to travel 3 floors, our door was closed and the construction of the building is such that it restricts fire, my roommate was freaking out so much that it did get me riled up for a bit, especially when I couldn't get a hold of my mom. (I did get her by calling her home number and the first thing I did was yell at her for not having her cell phone with her!)

After what seemed like forever, water started shooting out of the window, replacing the flames. (Something that I JUST NOW REALIZED: While watching the event, I couldn't figure out how the firemen had gotten into the apartment to be shooting water out of the window......but the south side of the building is ALL WINDOWS. They could have gone in any one of them. A perfect example of where certain logic and reasoning skills disappear to while in a crisis!)

During all the mayhem, I couldn't find Charlie Parker (my cat) anywhere. My mom told me he'd be fine but I left my room 3 or 4 times to try to find him, each time with my shirt covering my nose and mouth, and the last time even covering my eyes. Our apartment was so filled with smoke that you could hardly see and it stung like crazy. On my last trip out, I had made sure that the front door was unlocked so the fire department could come in.

Finally, my dog started barking at my bedroom door. We opened the door a crack and a fireman was walking through our apartment. He made sure we were all okay and told us to open all the windows and keep the door open for maximum air circulation. While we were getting our instructions, Harper, Jess' dog, made a run for it. I didn't notice at first but did a quick count and he was gone.

I ran out of the apartment and started heading down. At each landing I asked a fireman about a black dog and I was told he had gone down, down towards clean air. Finally a fireman said that another guy had carried him outside. I dashed down the dark stairs and into the night. I saw a fireman holding Harper outside of the crime scene tape. I got him and proceeded to receive a lecture about tags on dogs. I didn't go into it, but his tags are on his collar in the house because he (normally) doesn't ever leave the house without it.

I headed back into the building wearing sandals, not appropriate post-fire footwear because of the enormous amount of glass everywhere, and carrying Harper, a 25 pound dog. I'd dashed out so fast I hadn't thought to bring his leash....but I couldn't have set him down in all the glass anyhow.

On the way back up, I ran into another black dog, Vagabond. I told the firemen that I knew the dog but not where he lived, but I would take him. Of course I couldn't carry him because I already had Harper. I was able to get Vagabond to follow me up a couple of flights but after that he got distracted. I found out later that Vagabond belonged to the burnt out apartment and that another woman found him and took him in for the owner.

Jess got home during the fire and had to stay behind the police tape. Some asshole told her that the black dog, Harper, was dead. Of course she freaked out and called Courtney. All Courtney knew was that I had run out of the apartment looking for Harper but hadn't returned yet. I didn't have my phone on me because it all happened so fast. That, of course, made Jess freak out even more. When I came home Courtney told Jess that Harper was fine and Jess was able to get back into the apartment shortly after that.

Our apartment doesn't really smell anymore. The dogs do, maybe they'll get baths today. The hallways of the building REEK like smoke and although they've been cleaned once, are still gross. One of the elevators has a metal interior which has some pretty neat discoloration from the smoke. Many of the windows on the stair landings are broken out from the firemen bringing in air. did the fire start? A French masseuse on the 5th floor (Vagabond's mom) lit a candle, went into the kitchen for something, came back and the curtains were on fire. From there everything went up pretty quickly. She ran out, LEFT HER DOG AND LEFT THE DOOR OPEN. In our building, if the door was closed, the fire would have been nicely contained. Instead, the fire spread to the hallway, trapped many residents in their apartments (everyone from the 5th floor to the 10th floor because of the amount of smoke!), and filled the whole building with smoke. (and how do you leave your dog?)

~~The pictures I took with my camera during the blaze didn't turn out well because the flash was going off and I didn't have the brain power to change the settings. But my camera has a wrist strap so it wasn't until after the major event that I took out my phone to shoot pictures when I wasn't shaking anymore. It is the phone pictures that I'm posting because they look so much better.~~

All day Saturday there were firetrucks pulling up in front of the building, checking things out. Apparently our building is being used as some sort of example of bad preparedness. A.) no emergency lighting came on. B.) there is a standpipe on each floor THAT DOESN'T WORK. C.) I heard NOT ONE fire alarm going off the entire time. (These are just the things that I noticed or was told about...who knows what else is wrong!)

I've heard many grumblings from people, the younger residents, looking to move ASAP. I can't figure that out. After this event, it would seem that the management company would have to put in a lot of safely features, very soon making this a very safe building. And, even without those features, this building is built so solid that no one should really be that panicked. People are crazy.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

3 weeks, 5 days

Three weeks and five days until I board the plane for Dublin. Holy shit. I need to GET RID of my stuff!!! Crunch time. Now this is very real.

There are a bunch of things I was waiting for mom to help me with. I want her to go through my yarn to see what she wants before I try to sell what's left or give it away. She wants to go through my dye. But other than that....these things are my responsibilities! I need to figure out a way to sell them. It is such a weird experience to watch my life going away in bits and pieces. But it isn't my life at all, just an accumulation of stuff.

Time for breakfast.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

respect the popcorn

I haven't been to the grocery store in over a month. Partly it's shear laziness. But the other reasons are that I'm very low on money (saving up for the trip and whatnot) and because I'm trying to eat down all the food I already have. I'm doing a pretty good job. Basically I have some trail mix, frozen bagels (but no cream cheese and almost no butter), and oatmeal left. I also have some popcorn kernels and (until this there are two) three mini bags of microwave popcorn.

I love popcorn. To me it is a main food group. I like it airpopped, microwaved, stove cooked and from the movie theatre. Pretty much anyway you serve it, I love popcorn. Recently, Orville Redenbacher came out with a Natural line and the box has 4 mini bags in it. I discovered the Salt and Black Pepper variety and fell in love. The problem was that once I found it, I couldn't seem to find it again. Until one day it magically appeared at the grocery store near my house. I was ecstatic. I bought two boxes.

Last time I went to the grocery store (over a month ago, remember) they were out. I was forced to buy the light butter variety. I had one pack of salt and pepper left, waiting until a special craving to eat it.......

This morning I woke up to see the bag in the trash can. A great sadness swept over me and I cried out. I tried not to be too upset. It is just popcorn afterall. And the girl who ate it doesn't live here and it was late and she was drunk when the travesty occurred.

But here's what bothers me: A.) why is being drunk an excuse ALWAYS for inappropriate behaviour? (and I'll admit I've used the excuse, too) and B.) I probably wouldn't be steaming about it still, about 9 hours after the discovery of the bag in the trash, if she had only just said "sorry". Instead I was told "see what happens when you save things for a special occasion?" STEAMING I AM. What the fuck were you doing in my cabinet anyhow? And then to lecture me on what I do with my own food??!!

I like this person, I really do. She's a fun girl to be around and I generally enjoy when she comes to visit. But seriously, when you're in someone else's home, respect their shit.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

good omen

I like to think I had a good omen today. I was pulling my laundry out of the dryer today and there was a five pound note in the lint trap. England isn't one of my stops right now, but it seemed like a very positive sign. The other day my roommate found a $10 bill on the ground, but I found foreign money!!

I made yummy snickerdoodles today to take to my friend's going away party. One thing I know I will miss while I'm traveling is baking. Something I know I will have to buy or borrow or steal when I get a little bit settled, is some basic baking materials so that I can bake bake bake!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

just to recap

Just to recap:
I'm leaving the country. I'm going to Prague for 5 weeks to learn how to teach English as a foreign language. After the program....I would LOVE to be able to stay in Prague or Europe, but will go where I get a job. I was looking for a way to actually travel, see things, and this seemed like a great way to do it. So here I go!!

nothing much

I recovered from Father's Day without too much lasting damage. Yes, I ended up in a hot bath with a tall glass of Jameson and Harlem's equivalent of Cheetos, a cheesy snack mix. But I ended the day drunk and giggly, watching Dexter with the roommates.

My birthday party / going away party is official. The event is posted! It will all be so real! I get on a plane in 4 weeks and 2 days. Holy cow.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

every June comes Father's Day

Today is Father's Day. I do my best not to think about it but I can't read any facebook posts without it staring at me, rubbing it in my face. It does get easier, I won't lie. My first couple of Father's Days without my dad were really rough. I could be found crying in the bathtub with a tall glass of scotch and some Cheetos.

I'm not there anymore.
I'm much better.

Now I just mope about the house a bit. I haven't even mustered up a real tear yet this year and that's what really has me sad. I don't want it to stop hurting. I don't want it to get any easier. I liked the pain. I enjoyed that somehow that made him closer to me. But I know that is the natural order of things and as more and more years go by it will get easier and easier. Someday I may not even care that Father's Day has come and gone. But that day isn't here yet so I'm going to relish every minute of my misery and stop wishing the day away but go out and enjoy it.

And save most of my drinking for tonight. Cheers, dad.

it's all no big deal

This morning I woke up to thoughts of my blender which led, obviously, to thoughts about my silverware. Both of these things I figured I would give to my niece to use while I'm away but might want back when/if I come back. But I couldn't help wondering, and I'm not proud of this, if she will treat them with the proper respect. Good grief. Get over yourself! Of course she will. And if something gets broken or lost, it is NO BIG DEAL. I could have broken or lost any number of the things I'm giving her, she's just lucky I haven't...yet....because I do have a good way of breaking things. I learned it, actually, from my sister, her mother. So we all come by it quite honestly and it is something I certainly can't hold against her. So, yes, she will be the recipient of my blender and my silverware, both Christmas gifts from my mom.

But I'm still thinking I'll put my $100 Kitchenaid PINK handmixer in storage. I'm not THAT giving!

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I'm panicking about things that I shouldn't be panicking about. Things over which I have no control.
I have so much stuff.
What to get rid of?
What to give to my niece (who is about to move to NYC)?
What to store?
When do I list my bed for sale? I need to sleep on it but I don't want to wait so long that I don't have time for it to sell.

My niece was supposed to be here a couple of months ago but her boyfriend's job keeps getting they still aren't here. I'm pawning so much stuff onto her that I want her to get to the City so that I can get this stuff OUT OF MY ROOM. I'm so sick of looking at piles. I am so ready to be free from all of this STUFF.

Don't get me wrong...part of my panic is about all of this stuff in my room....the other part of my panic is HOW WILL I LIVE WITHOUT ALL MY STUFF?!!

I have this fear that I'll be back to NYC in a couple of months and want/need all my stuff back. The stuff that has taken me years, a lifetime, to accumulate. But I know that it's just the side of me talking who has always needed the steady paycheck, who was too afraid to jump off like this. So I'm not going to listen to her. I'm going to listen to the free spirit, the one who wants to travel, to learn about other cultures, to live in new places, and who will make it through even without knowing whether or not I'll have a job come September 3rd.

Woke up from a dream....

I woke up this morning from a dream (dread? nightmare?) about the day I have to leave my dog behind. Really it isn’t a bad thing at all. I’m going on an adventure and I just can’t take her with me. And I’m leaving her with friends who really should be canonized (they’ve just adopted FOUR kids and are some of the best, most patient and loving parents I’ve ever seen….but that’s her blog, not mine). So it isn’t that I’m at all worried about her, but I’m worried about the logistics of the day, and I’m so so so sad even thinking about leaving her.

My dog’s name is Kiyomi and she’s the sweetest, calmest, most loving dog I’ve ever known. Which is really lucky for me because she’s the first dog I’ve ever had. I was afraid of dogs most of my life so I really got started on a good one. After being bitten by a Doberman (who thought my runny and laughing after his owner girl was threatening, decided the solution was to jump up and bite my ear),continually jumped on by the dogs across the street and my brother’s dog who was so aggressive we had to get a post office box because the mailman refused to deliver to our house anymore, I just didn’t think dogs were all that great. But then I bought a house, had an honest to god white picket fence, and figured a dog was supposed to go in that beautiful big yard to complete the perfect picture. And Kiyomi has been the perfect dog.

I left that beautiful house with the white picket fence a few years ago. I live in a wonderful 3 bedroom apartment in New York City now. I have roommates and so does Kiyomi. But that’s all about to change, which is really what this whole thing is about.

I am leaving Kiyomi with my friends, the saints, because I’m moving and really I don’t know where I’m going. I know where it all begins, I bought the one-way ticket, but where I’ll end up, I have no idea. And this all starts 5 weeks from tomorrow (cue minor panic attack). I fly to Dublin because airfare to get to Dublin was cheap and I figured once I was in Europe, I could find a way to get to Prague, which is my first major destination. But I figured, since I’d be in Dublin, why not stay a few days and actually see something? So, I’ll be in Dublin for 4 days! So excited. Then I leave Dublin on Thursday night, arrive in Prague, stay in a hostel for 2 nights and then move into the student flat on Saturday for school to begin on Monday morning.

I’m going to Prague to take the course in how to teach English as a foreign language. Lots of people have done it before me and there are lots of blogs to chronicle them, too. But this one is about me so that’s what makes it different!

P.S. I also woke up this morning with a huge bug bite on my heel, maybe that’s why my dreams turned sad?!