We had considered going into the city of Prague for New Year's Eve. Surely watching fireworks over the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle would be magical.
But, like New York, New Year's in Prague is crowded, expensive and cold.
Supposedly fireworks are sold to anyone and thus you've got drunken commoners lighting those suckers up in the streets, and with my luck, aiming them for my eye. Firework in the eye? No thank you!
So, after much debate, we have decided to spend this New Year's - our 11th together! - in Vojokovice, at David and Lukas' house (originally Andy's grandfather's house). We will drink wine, eat food that Hanka and Katka are making, play poker and have a great time.
Happy New Year!
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
We had considered going into the city of Prague for New Year's Eve. Surely watching fireworks over the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle would be magical.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Because I have so much time on my hands lately, and because it's cold out, I have found myself reading about blog writing.
You know, you find some websites that say, "Do you want to write for a living? Earn money writing your blog!"
Hey, I think. That sounds great. I mean, who wouldn't want to write for money? I want that. Or just know that someone other than my mom reads about my thoughts and daily adventures?
So, because I want to make easy money, I read on. A big step in all this is promoting your blog - getting it hooked up to sites so that it will come up when people, like me, are looking to be entertained by some stranger's goings-on and such.
So, in my signing up for these sites, I find myself faced with a problem.
My dilemma: I don't have a proper name for my blog.
It's hard to find one because I don't have an angle. I don't write focused on food or travel or crafts or parenting. It's just me.
I started writing the blog to entertain myself and any bored friends. When we came to Europe it seemed an easy way for friends and family to keep in touch and know what's going on with me. That's all fine and good, but...a name?
I'm really bad at trying to think of things like this. Like my handwriting, or my blog background, I choose something great, for a while, but soon want to change it. This probably means that I'm manic or psychotic in some way. Whatever.
I asked Andy for help and he was useless. Thanks, Andy. For nothing.
In my search for a blog name, I used a random word generator online. It made me think of when I was in high school and we were trying to think of names for our band (that never really happened), pairing random words together like (examples, not real) "Citizen Shitball", or "Angry Tampons" (grrrl band?).
Regardless, here's some words it generated, and why they didn't work for me:
Bigotry - duh
Stick - this just doesn't feel like it represents me in any way. I don't really do nature, nor am I really skinny
Utterly - makes me think of cows
Con - I am not a con-man
Oddly - I don't think I can live up to this, I'm not *quirky* enough
Naturally - this sounds like some nudist or "not so fresh" thing
Cowbell - I think of one thing only - "More Cowbell!" And I'm not Christopher Walken
Frankincense - Christmas blog? I am not a wise man
I found some words that were good, though. I'll think about it and should be naming this blog soon. Don't be scared when it doesn't just say "allyn allyn allyn" anymore.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Christmas in Prague was wonderful - on Christmas Eve morning Andy and I went with his parents to the cemeteries to put flowers and candles on his grandparents' graves.
We came back home, hung out, ate yummy yummy fish soup for lunch, then watched a movie. David, Lukas and Katka came over and we did dinner - fried carp, potato salad and Christmas cookies. Here, presents are exchanged on Christmas eve, which I'm not crazy about, but it was nice and fun. We had a good time.
On Christmas morning we woke up early and went to Prague, to St. Vitus Cathedral, which is in Prague Castle, for mass. Yes, it was all in Czech, but it was very pretty. Sadly, I have been totally spoiled by my little modern American church and didn't realize that because I was in a real church, old and stone, that I'd be freezing. Oh well, it was still beautiful and lovely.
We returned home, and I spent several hours talking to my family and Edith.
It was a great holiday! Click here for pictures, including many of the Christmas carp!
First off, please please please admire my little icon-thingie next to the address for this blog. Doing this was quite easy, but initially finding the info to do it took about 2 hours this morning. But it's SOOOO worth it, just to have something other than the "Blogger"-B there.
Anyway, I'm a total vegetable after these great holidays. At least Andy and I went for a walk today, a nice 3 mile hike in the woods. It's so cold! It's about 32 degrees Fahrenheit. But it was sunny, which was amazing, because it's been gray for weeks now, with a little sun only for about 15 minutes a couple times a day. Then the gloomy clouds take over. I'm not a huge fan of the weather here, I will say that. At least in NY it's cold but can be really sunny. Here, it's just gray most of the time.
I've posted some pictures from right before Christmas. Click here to see them.
Some are of the Christmas market in Prague, which was nice but not as organized or orderly as the one in Nuremberg, and this caused a lot of disorderly slow-walking, eating-standing-up-while-walking, straggly annoying people that made me nearly go insane.
But, it was pretty (when I wasn't getting knocked in the eye by elbows while lifting their mulled wine or food to their mouths).
The other pictures are in Loket, which is near Karlovy Vary. It was very pretty there, all snowy and pretty, and the castle there had a really cute little Christmas market, where they actually tried to make it medieval and cool. They also have a torture museum WITH dummies, and that was fun too.
Here's some little movies from the trip... be aware that the pig one (the 4th video) is a little graphic - there is a little blood.
Will write about Christmas tomorrow!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
If you're like me and sometimes want to see new websites or blogs to entertain you, you should try StumbleUpon.
Basically, you fill out a little profile and click boxes about your interests, and then you just hit the stumble button and it brings up a different website/blog each time, based on what you enjoy reading about. Then you rate it and as you rate more, the picks become more specific to your liking.
This is something I've been doing for several days now, "stumbling" around, and reading a lot of interesting stuff, like lists of unusual deaths, or medical experiments conducted by the US... fun, heartwarming stuff like that.
Anyway, I'm telling you about this because I've added these little buttons at the end of each post here, and if you think I've written about something that other people would enjoy, click on it. That will make my blog come up for others, if they are interested in something, like, say, travel. Or food. Or something.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
It's cold out and we are staying in. Therefore, I have lots of nice time to play around with free things to make my blog fancy, and you can't get more fancy than glittery strands of glitz. I love my new background. It's the little things that make us happy.
And speaking of things that rock - I hear my least-favorite person on Gossip Girl - Aaron Rose, Serena's stupid artist boyfriend - won't be returning. Hooray! My prayers have been answered!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
-Getting a driver's license once I come home (Yes, I'm 30, BUT I'm a New Yorker - don't judge!).
- Getting a job (thus the need of the license to drive my sorry self to work... I'm reminded of the end of my favorite movie, "Goodfellas", Henry Hill's last line - "I get to live the rest of my life like a schnook." That's exactly how I feel after this work-hiatus I've been on. Oh well.).
- Why it took me so long to watch "The Wire" (We finished season 2 last night and are trying to hold off on downloading anymore before the christmas gift of an itunes gift certificate comes floating it's way over here... SUCH a good show!)
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The exciting celeb news for this week that caught my eye was that Christina Hendricks from one of the greatest TV shows ever - "Mad Men" - has gotten engaged to her boyfriend, Geoffrey Arend.
This is exciting on many levels -
I love "Mad Men", I love her character, Joan (see my 101 Facts About Me, #97), and
I went to high school with Geoffrey Arend and have hung out with him on several occasions, though I'm sure he doesn't remember me (see #26). Whatever. It's still happy news.
Monday, December 15, 2008
I have been badgering Andy about going to Český Krumlov while we are here in the Czech Republic
(we went the first time I was here), and we finally traveled down there last weekend.
Český Krumlov is a lovely town, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that was chosen as the seat of the kingdom under the rule of the Lords of Rožmberk, from 1302 - 1602. It is a winding medieval town with water going through it and a castle on a hill. I love the castle because it is painted (as many Czech buildings are) to look like it has three-dimensional bricks or designs. It's very pretty.
We drove there on Sunday and it was crappy, snowy and rainy out, but we got there and walked around and had a lovely day. We had an interesting meaty-lunch in an old pub that had barely any light, and was smoky and built into a wall, or something. It was strange. Unfortunately I didn't get the name.
The only unhappy part of the day was that the Christmas market - it was a bust. It was in a nice square, but was very tiny and didn't have many items for sale, and what was for sale wasn't impressive. I saw a sign for hot chocolate and when we got up to the stand we saw that the hot chocolate and the coffee were both from a machine. Like the one H-Link had. Yuck. (though it was good at H-Link.) So we went to another stand and got apple cider, which we only realized after we'd paid, was powdered (and they didn't even try to hide it!). But, it was cold out and the cider was hot, so it was okay.
Anyway, I'm glad we got to go to Český Krumlov again and it really is such a beautiful town - apparently it even ranked #16 on National Geographic's 100 Most Beautiful Historic Places in the World.
Even in the cold winter, it's not hard to see why (more pictures).
Plus, I think this castle would be a good retreat against zombies... the walls are really high.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thank goodness for facebook**! Otherwise I couldn't have begged people to send me entertaining messages. Ask and ye shall receive! I loved the SNL skit AND the Dolly Parton video, but the best was sent by Anna - thanks Anna!
Check it out for Christmas humor - click here.
Ho, Ho, Ho.
*This sounds odd to me... "boredom abated"... does it seem odd to you? Abated is a normal enough word for me, but you know how sometimes even your written name looks weird...? That's what's going on here. Did I just turn stupid?Hmm.
**Life's getting a little sad when I feel like I've said that numerous times now...
Today is one of those lazy days...
We woke up with every intention to go play Squash (we play twice a week now and it is great fun and great exercise and surely the reason why I haven't gained any weight what with eating all the chocolates, koláč, and syr). But one look outside and we saw that it was snowing and everything was covered and very magical looking.
So, we decided we would not go out, except to take a walk later (I'm sure we'll end up at the pub for a beer - I like a walk that includes a beer in there) and so now I'm just playing on the computer. I added a ton of (mainly cooking) blogs to my blog list. I think it's because Andy's mother is the one who cooks here, and so I am cooking vicariously through these bloggers.
I also updated my igoogle birthday calendar because for some reason it had shifted nearly everyone's birthday a day later than the actual birthday. Why!? Annoying.
I've also read up on Gossip Girl news, and how much everyone else seems to hate Aaron Rose just as much as I do. I knew I wasn't the only one disgusted by his nasty hair and scraggly goatee. Eww. Oh, and the scarf. Don't forget the scarf!!
That's basically it. If you can, help me be entertained. If you know a good website or blog, please let me know. Also, if I have any people reading this besides my current 6 followers, please become a follower (over there, on the left of the screen, down a bit) so I can feel happy and fulfilled inside.
(And by the way, I
HATE the pictures of Serena that Aaron was displaying in his new show at the gallery - especially THIS ONE!!)
Bettie Page has died at the age of 85. I am not a celeb/gossip writer, just a follower, so I won't write more, other than she was such a kick ass awesome beauty. I mean, seriously, who didn't want to be her!? RIP BP.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Before St. Nicholas was a saint, and before he evolved into Santa Claus, he was a bishop. This is how he is portrayed here in the Czech Republic every December 5th (the eve of his feast day), when people dress as Mikuláš (Nicholas), an Anděl (angel) and the Čert (devil or demon) and visit the homes of children (usually for a small fee and/or a shot or a beer) to give them gifts of candy and goodies, but not before scaring the hell out of them.
Here's what happens: Mikuláš, Anděl and Čert visit the home, the children stand there facing them, scared to death of the Čert (who has a long tail, and a chain and is just frightening). Mikuláš, who is kindly and warm, reads from a book and lists the ways the child was bad this year (lying, not cleaning, etc.). The child then owns up to this wrongdoing saying "To je pravda" (It is true) and then each child has to say a poem or sing a song to receive the gifts. At some point the Čert tries to put the child into a bag to take them away to someplace (hell?) where all bad children go.
For my first Mikuláš, Anděl a Čert experience, we went to the home of Katka's sister, Petra & her boyfriend. Her daughter, Cristina (who is the adorable brunette) is five and said she wasn't really nervous, but check out the look on her face. That girl is seriously freaked out. Andy's brother, Lukaš and his girlfriend Katka dressed as Mikuláš and the Čert (we didn't have an angel) and were awesome - especially Katka as the Čert - she spoke/screamed like a lunatic and made these horrible sounds.
This tradition is awesome!
It incorporated drinking, dressing up and scaring (but then rewarding) children.
Notice the (fake) child's leg
hanging out of the Čert's bag!
For more pictures, click here.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
At this point I have to write a brief explanation about my friend Michael.
Michael and I met in 2001 when we were in the same training group at a medical call center. He left a couple months later (I know that crazy beyatch Healy is to blame!!!) but in the brief amount of time that he was there (and in NYC), we got along famously.
Just today I was recounting a story from Michael's blog to Andy and I reminded Andy of how much I adore Michael. When we met, I never felt such a click with someone in my life as I did with Michael. We just hit it off immediately and were really stupid and hilarious when we were together. And had a great time.
One specific memory is of us working in that basement office one evening, sitting next to each other with our headsets on, Michael in his neon orange sweatshirt. We were pretending to be helicopter pilots. Why? I don't know. I guess because we had headsets on. Were we dying with laughter and annoying the hell out of everyone we worked with? Probably. Did we care? Absolutely not.
After many years of not really being in touch, the glory of facebook has brought us back together. I couldn't be happier. Michael is funny and great and awesome. And now I have listed Michael's blog, as well as two that he follows, here as blogs that I follow (the newest - Dlisted - is awesome and excruciatingly funny snarky bitchy gossipy celeb stuff) and because I hate not giving credit where credit is due, just had to explain where all my entertainment these days is coming from. And it's all thanks to Michael!
Friday, December 5, 2008
Before I start I'd like to say I really didn't like my last post. Particularly, I didn't like the scrapbooking (is this one word? or should it be hyphenated? everything gets it with the red underline...) picture I included, because I started thinking maybe people would think it's a picture of me scrapbooking. It's not. Don't be confused.
It was fun. But I'm beat from traveling! Even such a little trip! It was cold, of course... surely a few degrees colder than here in Prague. Going on a trip in this cold weather can be difficult, because you're standing the whole time and you can't just relax on a bench and people watch. We stood and people watched plenty, but we realized we were on our feet for basically two days. That was a little rough, but the rest rocked!
I have two albums with Nuremberg pictures (the first starts with a few in Prague on Thanksgiving). To see pics click here and
We arrived in Nuremberg after a pleasant and fast-moving 5 hour train trip. We dropped our two backpacks at the Hotel Victoria and went for lunch. Then we went to the Nazi Documentation Center Museum which is in the old Nazi Congress Hall, which was far as I know, was never finished. We walked around a lot and saw the Zeppelinfield, where the Nazis would rally together and share their craziness and hate. It was freaky, and strange. The stands were overgrown which made it even creepier than it was.
The rest of our trip was spent on a Rick Steves' walking tour, eating Nürnberger Bratwurst on a bun, drinking glühwein (mulled wine) and hot alcoholic egg nog - all from stands on the streets.
There were so many glühwein stands, and when you get your glühwein you pay a little extra for the annual cup of the market, and carry it around to the other stands for more wine/egg nog/etc, and then you can keep the cup as a keepsake to remember your glühwein-drinking days in Nuremberg, or you can return it at any stand and get your money back. We kept ours, of course. We also got some cups from another stand that were different from the cups all the other stands were using. We like being individuals, so we kept those, too.
Our hotel was very nice. It was quite fancy which we felt we could handle since it was only one night that we would be there. It was right at the beginning of Königstraße, inside the wall for the old town, so it was a great location. We were able to easily get around, and make our way to the Christkindlmarkt, which is the annual Christmas market that draws 2 million visitors every year. Some say it's the biggest in Europe. It was big, and pretty great. Of course, kind of like NYC street fairs, there seemed to be a limit to what the stands were selling... it was kind of the same thing, over and over again. So there was glühwein, bratwurst, gingerbread, ornaments, hats/gloves/scarves... and the same over and over again. There were some differences, of course, but not much. Regardless, it was a lot of fun to walk around and see everything. It was very festive and Christmasy, which I love.
People were pretty controlled and friendly and not that big of a pain in the ass, except for the few who did the tourist stop-dead-in-their-tracks and not move thing, right in the middle of a giant thoroughfare... but then, that always happens.
We barely made our connecting train on the way back, got stuck in a cabin with some smelly people and then the lights went out making it impossible to read for the remaining 4 hours. 45 minutes before we came into Prague the train broke down and we had to wait for it to be fixed... but only for about 25 minutes. It didn't ruin the trip in any way.
It was a great time, and I'd definitely recommend the Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt to anyone... it was great holiday fun. It was so festive and nice.
I'm a big Christmas fan and any excuse to feel all warm inside while I walk around in the cold - whether from happiness and children singing, or from the wine - make for a great time for me.
Last note: Speaking of children singing... we happened to catch some little German kids singing Christmas songs in front of a church (Frauenkirche I think) and it was really cute so here's the video. Unfortunately I missed taping them singing "O Tannenbaum" but this other thing is funny and cute, and I like how the teacher sounds singing in German.
Monday, December 1, 2008
You know what's funny?
Looking through blogs.
At the top of my blog, at the very top, there should be a little button for you to go to the "next blog". You should do it. It's great. When I'm bored I do this, and just see what's out there.
There are an alarming number of "krafty" and scrapbooking blogs out there. And, for some reason, the majority of blogs I run into are in other languages... I'm not sure if that's because I'm in a non-English speaking country or what. But, it's great. And fun. And sometimes you actually find something worth reading. But, more often, you find things to make fun of.
We are leaving for Nuremberg tonight. Or tomorrow. Depending on how you look at it. We are taking a 5:15am train from the station in Prague, and so we are waking up at 3:30 and Andy's dad is driving us to the station. So we will be getting to bed very early tonight.
We will arrive in Nuremberg at 10am, which is a much better deal than taking the Student Agency bus, which would have left at 11:30 tonight but arrived in Nuremberg at 4:15am. What the heck would we do!? No, the train is better, and quite frankly I feel safer because although the Student Agency buses (which are not actually driven by students, as far as I know... I'm not sure why they are called that) run all the time, all over the place, there was an accident a month or so ago, and people died. So, I'm cool with the train.
We are excited about Nuremberg, since we are just going to be there for like 31 hours, but sometimes those are the best trips (like our Vienna trip last year that was sooo awesome!). So, we will arrive, visit Nazi sites, eat, shop at the Christmas market, eat, drink beer, shop, walk around, take pictures, eat and drink and come back. What could be a better trip!? AND we're staying at some fancy 3 star hotel, so that's exciting. It might just mean that there's a bathroom in the room, since apparently all the stars mean something like that, and I know nothing about this, but whatever, I'm going to Germany and that's exciting.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I don't try to be funny in my blog. But there are some people out there who are damn funny. Two blogs that are examples of this are Plastic Brain Train which is actually a retired blog of my friend, but has a lot of great and hilarious stuff on it, and the other is a friend of a friend's, Jen's Extraordinary Life and Beyond. Jen's blog is linked from another friend's blog, and that's how I found it, etc. etc. The whole blog world thing, I guess. Whatever. Anyway, on her blog I saw her list of 100 Interesting Things about her, and I was inspired. I totally stole the idea, but hers is much better and funnier. I just realized I like lists and didn't think I could even write 100 interesting things about myself... and while they may not be the most profound or amazing facts, I did come up with 101. So, here they are.
101 terribly exciting facts about me
1. I was born in Anderson, Indiana
2. I used to lick hot sauce off of tortilla chips when I was less than two years old
3. I was bald until I was like 2 or 3 years old
4. My eyes were blue before they turned green
5. I tweezed my eyebrows too much when I was in junior high school
6. Now I am forced to use eyebrow pencil, lest I be almost bald-faced chickie
7. I hated reading before I discovered The Baby-Sitter’s Club series when I was in fourth grade
8. My best memory of elementary school is my awesome 4th/5th grade teacher Liz Saplin playing guitar on Friday afternoons while sang along
9. My #1 favorite song from those Friday afternoons was “Harold and the purple crayon”
10. #2 favorite song was “Christopher Robin” (You know, the Winnie the Pooh song)
11. My oldest friend is Erika O’Rourke (kindergarten at PS 58!!)
12. My parents got divorced when I was 18 months old
13. I lived with my grandmother and grandfather in Indiana when I was 4, while my mother went to find a job and a place for us to live in NY
14. I moved to Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn, when I was 5 years old
15. The day I got to Brooklyn I had my first egg cream
16. I moved to Battery Park City in lower Manhattan when I was 10
17. My mother married my stepfather when I was 11.
18. I bullied a classmate when I was in 6th grade, making her jump up and down for tic-tacs and called her “Rat”
19. I’ve had the chicken pox AND scarlet fever
20. I was bullied by 2 ex-friends when I was in fifth grade
21. I played cello and violin in elementary school
22. And took piano lessons
23. I have such vivid, crazy dreams that I wake up crying at least once a month
24. I love sauce
25. I cut school a lot during my freshman and sophomore years in high school
26. Being forgotten is a huge fear of mine
27. I went to three high schools before finally graduating
28. Before graduating, I dropped out of high school for almost a year
29. I went to two colleges, Beloit and Hunter, before finally graduating from Hunter
30. I worked full time through three years of college
31. When I was a kid I was torn between being an artist, fashion designer or model.
32. My mother tried to get me into commercials when I was a kid, and they would have taken me but she asked me how I felt about it and I said I didn’t want to do it. So much for my acting career!
33. My brother Mark is 13 years younger than me
34. Every time I went back to Indiana with my father he’d drive around Indianapolis and make sure I knew which grocery store David Letterman bagged groceries, and where Kurt Vonnegut went to high school
35. I love Christmas
36. I’m Dutch, German, English and Irish
37. I married a Czech
38. I took his name, Spacek
39. I didn’t change it to Spackova, which it would be if I was Czech
40. This caused major issues when proving our marriage in the Czech Republic
41. I have 3 step-sisters
42. I met my husband working in the restaurant Harry’s at Hanover Square
43. This restaurant was where Patrick Bateman goes in American Psycho
44. I broke my ankle by slipping on ice
45. I broke it so bad my foot looked like it was hanging off my leg
46. I had surgery where they put in metal pins and plates
47. I worked in a medical call center for several years and would like to write a humorous novel about it
48. I am halfway done with my Master’s Degree
49. I was a NYC teaching fellow for a year
50. I like kids
51. I want to have a baby
52. I have baby names picked out for 6 kids
53. I pass out easily
54. I passed on in New Orleans while on a vampire tour
55. I like traveling to the South
56. I love to read
57. I majored in cross-cultural literature in college
58. I enjoy African-American and Cuban-American writing
59. I love reading about East-Asian culture
60. I grew up going to clubs where my mom sang, and in recording or rehearsal studios
61. I love epic miniseries
62. I think Colin Firth is hot
63. I really dislike body odor
64. The Czech Republic has many people who have problems with body odor
65. The only sweet things I crave are chocolate or ice cream
66. I love spicy food
67. If I had to eat one dish for the rest of my life it would be spaghetti with tomato sauce
68. If I had to eat one type of food for the rest of my life it would be Thai
69. I wrote a novel during November for National Novel Writing Month
70. When I was 17 I moved to Baltimore with my boyfriend, best friend and a bunch of freaky types
71. I drink Beaujolais Nouveau every year for Thanksgiving
72. I am a good speller and always have been
73. The one word that always gave me trouble was “maybe”
74. I don’t own much music
75. I listen to the same artists/albums/songs over and over again
76. I call my grandmother every other day from Prague
77. When I’m in the US I call her every day
78. I was a women’s studies minor
79. I have been to 7 countries outside of the US (not counting layovers) and it’s not enough
80. I have no allergies
81. I have four tattoos
82. One tattoo was done by a friend with a sewing needle and India ink
83. I can join the Daughters of the American Revolution if I want; I qualify
84. I might, when I’m older
85. I would like to be a famous YA writer like Judy Blume
86. When I hear about something I don’t know about, I look it up
87. I have become very interested in history as I’ve gotten older
88. And even more interested in war
89. I worked at Au Bon Pain when I was younger
90. I’ve never been fired from a job
91. I’m not a great speaker, but I’m a good writer
92. I like to be organized with my thoughts and plans
93. Yet I’m very messy with my things
94. I really don’t believe in most “new” diseases and conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, etc.
95. I played Sylvia, the girl who speaks to dinosaurs in the audiobook of “Dinotopia”
96. I love a good tv series.
97. I often find myself obsessing about characters on TV or in books and feel like I know them
98. My hair is naturally brown but I’ve been dying it since I was 14
99. I am a very empathetic person
100. When I’m bored I Google/Facebook/Myspace search for old friends/boyfriends/classmates/students
101. I have a steel-trap mind for famous names/faces/gossip/news
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Yes, it's true. I have finished my novel and am an official NaNoWriMo Winner!
I just finished and entered my 153-page / 50,104 word novel into the site and am DONE!
It was great. I totally got into my characters, and went places I didn't know I would go, and actually wrote some stuff that was really nice. And good, I hope.
Now I can call myself a writer.
I think I'll take a few days before I start... editing. Oh boy!
Happy Thanksgiving - as my current Facebook status says, I will be celebrating with some fig vodka from Dresden (tonight, in post-novel/pre-Thanksgiving celebration) and tomorrow we will play a little squash, then go to the Christmas market in Old Town Square, then for Thai at Noi (love that place) and then I hope to talk Andy into going to see "Twilight." When I get home I will pretend I'm with family and watch our favorite, "Home for the Holidays." Love it!
Have a great holiday!!
Monday, November 24, 2008
Some of you (Michael) might be wondering about the picture of the weird faceless babies that I have added to my name-bar thingie at the top.
These, as my buddy Crapper might recognize, are actually the same babies, created by artist David Cerny, that crawl up the Žižkov TV Tower.
Now an additional three have been installed at Kampa Park, in Malá Strana in Prague, next to the Kampa Museum, where these giant babies are just "crawling" around.
FYI - they weigh 800kg each and their faces are ventilation shafts.
Yet another reason why Prague rocks. Giant faceless babies!!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
The first snow is here!
It started snowing Friday night, and continued yesterday.
Of course, we had to go
into the city and be part of it. We went to the castle at night, then walked down through Malá Strana.
Then we made our way over to Václavské náměstí, had some mulled wine and walked around. It was beautiful!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Still writing... up to about 31,000 words (75 pages) and pushing on...
Did some YA book research last night by looking at Judy Blume's website. It was great! If you are a fan of her work at all, I would suggest you check it out. She has a little back stor for each book she's written. I was especially interested in reading about Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, one of my all time favorite Judy Blume books.
Besides writing... this week we did a few interesting things. Last Friday we went to Shadow Bar and had drinks, and then went for thai at Noi, the only Thai restaurant that lives up to my standards here in Prague. It's great.
Saturday we went to Blues Sklep with Lukas, Katka and David. We saw the Tony Viktora Band playing jazz and jamming. The best part was the piano player, who reminded me of many things: a muppet, Herb Mack if he were a crazy drunk piano player, Bob Dylan. Because he was so AWESOME, I had to share it with you in a video.
Sunday we went to a soccer match between Slavia (the top Czech soccer team) and Viktoria (a team much lower on the soccer ladder). Slavia won, of course, but it was a good game anyway because Viktoria fought hard, and though it was chilly it wasn't awful, and it was fun! The best part was that Slavia fans wear these red and white scarves and wave them around alot and shout a lot, and it was fun and exciting and the scarves made me think of Harry Potter. I liked it.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
For those of you who are wondering how I'm doing with writing my novel in this fine month of November for NaNoWriMo, things are going great.
As of this moment I am at 21,826 words (that's 50 pages!), only slightly behind where I should be. The current mini-goal is 30,000 words by tomorrow, Wednesday, midnight. So, we'll see if I can get there...
This is a really interesting process, and though I know I will have LOTS AND LOTS of editing to do when it's all done, I am very happy that I got my act together, found this exciting project, and am actually writing instead of just talking about it. My characters are fleshing themselves out, and going to interesting places and becoming rather interesting people, right before my eyes. It's great.
Here's to just 28,174 words left to write, in 12 days!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
We first went to Dresden, Germany on our first trip together to the Czech Republic. Both Andy and I are huge Kurt Vonnegut fans and we were interested in Dresden because it had been bombed by the allies on February 13, 1945, while Vonnegut was a POW being held in an underground prison camp, which he wrote about in Slaughterhouse Five.
Another interesting piece of history about this event was that while the allies were aiming at Dresden, they nearly leveled Prague in error. Prague and Dresden are quite close to each other, especially when you are up in a plane looking down. There was supposedly a navigational error, and actually some bombs were dropped on Prague (affecting some areas of the city, such as Zizkov and Vinohrady, I believe, that are not the main old historical center of Prague) but ultimately I seem to remember that Prague is considered "untouched" by war.
When we visited the city the first time we saw old wreckage from the bombs. This time, though, we didn't. I could swear we were in some of the same spots, but there's a massive amount of construction going on there, and Andy heard that Dresden is expected to be finally built back up by 2010. This is kind of sad, because although the wreckage is sad and destructive and all that, it's a big piece of history that is quite fascinating. I'm glad we saw it the first time (of course, my pictures from then are not digital, otherwise I'd post them here).
But, this time, our trip wasn't so much about history. It was about shopping. Andy's brother Lukas and his girlfriend Katka went to Dresden last week and brought back all kinds of German goodies for us, so Andy's parents decided they wanted to take the trip. It's only about a two hour drive, so we went this past Saturday. It was a nice day trip. We bought a few things, mainly liquor or interesting German food. Here's the pictures. Dresden Pictures
Here's a video, too. My videos are not exciting, they are mainly just a glance around, but I like seeing them since they include the sounds and feel of the place and time, a little bit more than a simple picture.
Oh, yeah, and sorry for the weird guy who pops his head in toward the end... he follows me everywhere and is quite a nuisance! :-)
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
This is now a week old... sorry for the delay, I've been lazy!
For election night we went to the Sport Bar Zlatá hvězda, off Václavské náměstí (in what we've decided must be the red light district, or at least the red light street, since there were numerous strip clubs), where the Prague Post (the English language Prague paper) sponsored an election night American news watching party, and it was pretty fun. We drank beer, we watched CNN. There were a lot of people there, but we still were able to find seats at a table and be comfortable.
Being the anti-social pair that we are, we didn't talk to many people, just an Australian guy and some freaky middle aged guy from Wyoming who was heavy, kind of whiny and verrrry drunk. He was like a character from a movie. He introduced himself as the drunkest guy in the bar (he might have been). He wore a wedding ring, yet was hitting on Andy who said at least four times that I was his wife (I was talking to the Australian guy at the time). Then, when I was in the conversation, the freaky guy started asking questions like "Do you think of him sexually?" and asking Andy "Do you want her?" It was weird. And then I was trying to be normal and talk to him about normal things, he kept saying "What's your point?"
Then he said he had troubles, and he was going downstairs to reassess his life, and was gone for 40 minutes. I went to bathroom, and on my way back he came out of nowhere and grabbed my arm. I said "Hi!" and he said, (as he shrunk back a little, stirring a straw in his drink). "Sorry I just... reached out." I said "That's, okay... did you reassess your life?" He laughed and said yes. I said, okay, see you later. As I turned away he asked, "Can I come sit at your table?" Sure, I said. He was freaky, but harmless and clearly had low self-esteem (based on some things he'd said) and was drunk and a little pathetic. I began walking, and as I sat down I saw him turn around and walk out. Whatever. He'd been gone for more than an hour by the time we left, and had left his cigarettes on the table, so we took them. So, we came out winners in the end.
(above: around 3am, drinking coffee between beers to stay awake!)
We left the bar at 3:15am (9:15pm for you New Yorkers), called mom from a pay phone to say hi and happy election night, and then waited for the tram. Because Prague does not have a 24 hour metro, we had to take the night tram to the night bus. This was very exciting, as we'd never done it before.We waited on Václavské náměstí for the tram. There are food kiosks every few blocks on the square, which are apparently open all night long. We had a while to wait for our tram, so we got some mulled wine from the stand by the tram stop.
We'd never been in Prague so late! How fun! The night was really foggy. Near us were other about 15-20 Americans, Brits and Czechs who were also waiting for various night trams, and hanging around. "Wannabe," the Spice Girls song, was playing from the food kiosk and a drunk girl was dancing and singing along. Some Africans were hanging around, supposedly selling drugs. An unattractive prostitute bundled up in white coat and white go-go boots stood by the buys, watching people. Cops drove by and walked by on foot. Our tram came, then we caught our bus, then made it home, watched some more election coverage (this time in Czech) and then went to bed at 6am, after seeing McCain's speech that he'd called Obama to congratulate him.
It was a fun night, even for us old folks, who haven't stayed up so late in years.
Friday, October 31, 2008
If you happen to remember, one of my goals for this trip is to write something. Though I am open to what I write, I have had some very specific ideas about some possibilities. And one of my big ideas is to write a young adult novel.
I have very fond memories of reading when I was younger. I hated reading until I was about 10. And then... I discovered the oh-so-wonderful Baby-Sitters Club series, and then I was hooked. Forever. For several years, I would get a weekly allowance of $5 and mom would walk over with me to the bookstore in the World Trade Center and she'd unleash me... I'd run to the young adult section and choose the next BSC book in the series. They were $4.99 and that's where my money went. I'd start the book as soon as I got home, reading constantly. I'd balance the book on the table, it bent around my plate as I ate. I was lost in Stonybrook, with Kristy, Claudia (God, I wanted to be her!), Maryanne, Dawn and Stacey. Baby-Sitting, dealing with boys, solving mysteries...
It was bliss.
And I want to do that for someone. I want to create a world where a young adult girl can get sucked into, and enjoy herself and be creative and learn new things. Especially after working students for the last two years, and seeing what some of them read.
Anyway, I have been writing while I've been here... probably not as much as I should, but I have written some. And I often get frustrated with the editing and going back and censoring or changing what I've written... nervous that it sounds stupid or doesn't make sense.
But NOW, well, now I have an answer to my prayers. All thanks to my friend Carrie! Carrie's facebook status today read "Carrie is writing a novel in November and thinks you should too. www.nanowrimo.org." I like Carrie. I think she's cool, and more than that, I think she's smart. I take her advice. I appreciate her opinions. So I went to the site. And it's great!
This is the site for National Novel Writing Month, and the gist is this: You write a novel. In November. I will start tonight, at midnight, and keep on writing till November 30th. By midnight on November 30th, I submit my work, the words are counted (and then the contents deleted - I was concerned about copyrights, plagiarism, etc. but it seems legit) and if you have written 50,000 words by then, well, you win.
What do you win? Mainly the satisfaction that you have written a novel (or at least begun one). There's no editing during this month, it's, as the site says, an "experiment in output." That's what got me. I like output. I want to output some writing. I'll worry about editing and changing things later.
I think this rocks. I am so excited about doing this - I think it's got just enough of a gimick to keep me going. You can update your word count as often as you like, and see how you are doing. It's fun. It's exciting. I'll let you know how it's going!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Back in the early months of 2008, when we were initially planning this European vacation, we knew we would stay in Prague with Andy's parents, and that we would try to travel as much as possible. We also knew that we would plan on visiting Paris for sure, because Andy had never been there and wanted to go, and although I had been there, wanted to experience it with him. We also had discussed for years the possibility of going to Italy, and we decided that we would go to Venice because, well, why not? It's Venice, and I think it's different from anywhere in the world.
We also had thought about doing a Rome/Florence trip, after the summer. However, once we returned to Prague from our 2 weeks in Paris and Venice (as well as our brief trip to Krakow earlier in the summer), we were happy to be grounded for a while, and also sick of dealing with groups of tourists. We decided we would wait before planning another vacation. We also were a little concerned with money, particularly because we weren't working, and the dollar was not doing well compared to the Euro. We eventually decided that we just didn't want to go to Rome and Florence and fight our way through more crowds, etc. We'll save that for the future, we decided.
That's been all well and good. We've been home, here in Prague, since August, and have had other things to focus on. My dear friends Heather and Crystal came to visit for a week in September, and we had a blast. After they left, we had the whole visa drama to worry about. Throughout all these excitements, we have been going into the city of Prague and exploring, becoming familiar with different neighborhoods, local restaurants and jazz and blues clubs (the music scene is great here) and just getting into the life here. I am feeling very comfortable here and very much at home.
We have also officially experienced the season change... when we arrived the summer days were hot (the evenings cool, as usual), when September came it began to cool down, and now that we are wrapping up October, we awake to grey days, rainy and cool, even cold, weather. I am wearing my wool jacket and have taken out my scarf. It's nasty!
Of course, being an American, my mind is on Halloween this week. I love Halloween, and will miss it this year. The Czechs don't celebrate Halloween, traditionally, though there are some decorations in the larger stores, and it seems like some towns are trying to get some festivities together. A couple bars or pubs in Prague have parties for Americans (and British? Do they celebrate Halloween?). But, it's not the same. So, I'll be at Blues Sklep on Friday night, a great place to hear live blues. BUT, because it is Halloween, I am getting into a holiday mood. I am looking forward to Thanksgiving, which we WILL be celebrating, probably at Jama, a pub featuring American food, that apparently does an American Thanksgiving celebration (while airing American football on the tv).
I also can't help but look forward to Christmas. It's almost a relief to see that the stores here, particularly Tesco, have begun displaying their Christmas wares just as early as stores in America. Now I know America is not alone in it's commercializing and capitalizing off the holiday! More than anything else, I have been VERY impressed by the Advent calendars here in the Czech Republic... I am used to the simple rectangular ones with the solid milk chocolates - you know what I mean - but HERE... well, they come in different shapes and sizes (see above), and some have fancy assorted chocolates. It's a Christmas-celebrating chocolate-lover's dream.
What has coincided with me catching this year's holiday-bug is Andy and I deciding that we would like to go on a little trip. After researching destinations and considering a variety of locations, including Salzburg, Austria (sadly, the bus company we'll be taking doesn't go there), we have just booked a trip for early December to Nuremberg, Germany!
This is great, because I've only been to Germany once, a day in Dresden, years ago, and we wanted to go again, considering we are right next to it. This is also very very exciting because in our research we discovered that Nuremberg has this wonderful Christkindlesmarkt, or Christmas Market! Oh boy, are we thrilled!
I can't imagine a better place to go to get even more into the holiday spirit.