Sunday, February 04, 2007

More ramblings to fall asleep to...

February 2, 2007 5:25 pm

Well, made it through the week. Yea! I just finished dinner—homemade French fries (I can feel my ass and stomach expanding into gross fatness, but they were soooo good. I’m having some tea now [with chocolate]).

Had my three hour conversation class today. Wow, those kids need help. Their English is actually pretty good, but… wow, where to start. I was talking to my roomie about it, and she was just like, “wow.” I don’t know where to start, even, but I now have a list of future conversation topics.

So. Last week we talked about guns and school massacres (easy topic—sure to generate conversation). Then we watched “Bowling for Columbine” (which I tried not to present as gospel—in fact, on this viewing I found myself a little put off by the film, but whatever.) Anyway, today I wanted to talk to them about it some to see how much they understood. And they had actually picked up a bit more than I had thought. Only... there were parts that they hadn’t quite gotten. For example, when I asked them what MM thought was one of the reasons there were school shootings in the USA, one of the students said, “Negros.” Okay, stop. We now have vocabulary appropriacy (I have no idea how to spell that, but neither does MS Word) issues and (Major) comprehension issues. I asked why they thought he thought this, and another student mentioned the short animated film in the movie. So I walked them through the main points of the film short (related to fear of African-Americans, not African-Americans being the cause of the shootings). So then the conversation turned to the USA having different cultures. (I didn’t want to stifle the conversation and I wanted them to have their own opinions, but I did want to make sure they had the points of the movie right and that they were using appropriate vocabulary and that they were not making basic faulty assumptions—it was an odd balancing game). So, when talking about the different cultures of the US, they started talking about “Native Americans,” but they didn’t mean Native Americans, they meant White, European descended Americans. I corrected them, but I don’t think they completely understood that a person born in the US (no matter the origin of their parents) is an American. (I’ve encountered this before, when students tell me that another student is Russian. I assume that this means that the student came from Russia a few years ago and speak Russian. No. It means that, at some point in the student’s familys’ history, they came from Russia to the Czech Republic.) So then the students started referring to “normal” Americans.


I ask them what a “normal” American is, and they say, “like you.” Like me what? Uhhh…

Yeah. Thought so.

Ugh. I can’t even get into all the messy missteps the conversation took. All I know is that I now have a list of topics to present to them for future conversations. We are starting with Native American cultures, I’ve decided. Why? Because they informed me that, before the Europeans discovered America, there was nothing there. No culture, no technology, no civilization, nothing. Yeah, I totally need to address that. Then I’ll go from there.

I don’t want to brainwash my students into being hippie liberals, but I think a lot of what they were saying was the result of basic ignorance of US American culture and history. I want to make sure they have some more of that (and hopefully make them think a little more critically about some of the stuff they were saying, but we shall see).

February 3, 2007 8:22 am

So, this past week, I spent 1529 crowns. That’s 1179 on food and entertainment (and includes an opera ticket, a drag show, and a [somewhat expensive] beer), and 350 on my Czech book. It is not great, but it is not bad. My goal is to get it down to under 1000 crowns. My roomie only spends 500 crowns a week on groceries, but she never eats, so… I don’t think I will ever get my grocery costs that low!

6:26 pm

Just ate an entire pizza… woa. I didn’t mean to. I just kept eating slices and, all of a sudden, I opened the pizza box and the pizza was gone! I’m considering having some chocolate now. Well, maybe I will wait awhile.

So, I’ve felt a little crappy today. I think I am just a little run down after last week. I pretty much spent the day inside. I watched Amadeus… but I was actually pretty disappointed that I didn’t recognize any of the buildings. The snow did look familiar, though. In fact, I found it pretty funny that every outdoor shot involved snow (I know, I know… it has only snowed twice since I’ve been here, but… I don’t know, it seemed appropriate.)

So, anyway, my roommate and I went to a drag show last night. I t was pretty entertaining. Everything was in Czech, but most of the songs were in English (a couple were in Czech, one was in French, and one was in Spanish). At one point, the announcer said something about černy musika. My roommate looked at me and said, “black music?” and we raised our eyebrows at each other. Turns out černy musika is a tall, Czech drag queen with a giant afro wig singing “I will Survive.” That was pretty standard, but the ending was… worth the price of admission, I think. The song morphed into a Russian style and the drag queen (still in the ‘fro wig) started doing the Russian bob up and down and kick dance (I don’t know what it is called, but I know you all know what I’m talking about). It was absolutely excellent—approaching sublime. It was the highlight of the evening as far as I was concerned.

I may never need to eat again. I probably shouldn’t. I still can’t believe I ate an entire pizza like that. Dude.

Future topics:
Jirny (ugh. Still too traumatic).
Skunk Hair (and anyone who has been in Europe will know what this is)
Mullets, Michael Jackson, and The Final Countdown (time warp, anyone?)
Czech citizenship

Actually, I think I will write about the last one—Czech citizenship—now. My roomie and I were just discussing the fact that the Czechs don’t really seem to understand diversity, and she mentioned to me that, in order to be/become a Czech citizen, one must be at least 25% Czech. I was just like, “?” As in, how do they measure that? Is there a blood test for Czechness? She pointed out that the fact that, until pretty recently, the Czech Republic was a closed country. Okay, fine, but… I say again, “?” So we discussed that fact that, in a few years, the government is probably going to have to change this law. They won’t be able to measure it and even if they could… well, a Czech woman has a child with a Ukranian. Kid is now only 50% Czech. This kid stays in the Czech Republic his entire life, is culturally Czech, and marries a German woman. Their kid is now only 50% Czech. If this kid has a baby with, say, someone from France… The kid still won’t be Czech. He could be raised in the Czech Republic, speak Czech as his first language, be completely culturally Czech, and STILL NOT BE CZECH. So, I say again, “?” But I guess my inability to understand this is perhaps like my students inability to understand anything different from this.


February 4, 2007 8:00 am

Time to face facts: I am sick. It is not the flu (not achy enough) and not strep or tonsillitis (tonsils not swollen enough), but I do feel like crap. I blame that nasty teenage boy in the metro who kept coughing on me (like, not coughing in my direction, but actually hitting me on the back of the neck [and only because I turned around] with cough). The good news is that my week is a little lighter because two of my classes are on break (the bad news is that I won’t get paid for those classes).

So, I’m gonna stay in again today too… make myself some chicken noodle soup (I was gonna do some Chicken Florentine with the meat I got yesterday, but now I think I need to use it to make chicken soup. Don’t have noodles so I will have to use rice. I wonder if I make the rice first, then add it, or if I can just throw in a couple of handfuls of raw rice and just cook it in the Chicken Soup. Hmmm…).

Maybe I can scalp my opera ticket to some tourists. Or to my roommate. But I think I am not so sick I can’t go see an opera (if I were supposed to teach today, I’m not so sick that I would call out sick, so I figure I’m not too sick to go see an opera).

I suppose I can use this time today to catch up on my ‘blog… not that there is to much left to write about.

About time:

So, I’ve mentioned that the week speeds up towards the end—that time is not exactly even. It is similar to the principle of “an hour in the dentist’s chair is longer than an hour with a lover,” but it is not exactly the same. That principle measures a single hour. My theory, on the other hand, measures the relationship of the hours in a measurable unit (a week, a month, a year, etc). It explains why sometimes one year can pass more quickly than another. So, imagine a piece of taffy. It is pretty tacky stuff, and hard to work—you can stretch it, but it takes a lot of work. But, once you manage to stretch it, it becomes easier. If you take one end of the taffy piece in both hands and pull it apart, it becomes easier and easier to stretch until finally you no longer have to actually move your hands—it continues to stretch out on its own, thinner and thinner (until it eventually breaks, but that’s a different theory). Anyway, time is like taffy—once you start to stretch it… well, basically, you stretch it too much and you’re screwed.

Okay, I’m exhausted. Time to eat some breakfast then go to sleep.


At 11:07 PM, Anonymous Shari said...

Thank you! You made my Monday night, once again. ;-)

(Okay, I'm now on about my fourth try at posting this comment. I don't know why it's not working. My apologies if it shows up multiple times!)


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