Thursday, March 01, 2007

More Prague Journal

February 6, 2007 8:24pm

Was feeling upset and exhausted and frustrated, then realized it was about time for my monthly breakdown (like clockwork). Also time for me to fight my monthly urge to look at plane tickets to the States. I told myself I would have a good cry before I went to sleep, but I’m too tired now so I guess it will just have to wait until I have more energy. Ugh. Hope this one passes as quickly as the last one (about 36 hours of wallowing in self-pity, then it was gone).

February 18, 2006

Wow. It has really been a long time since I’ve written anything here. I just finished watching Everything is Illuminated. The best scene is where Alex, the translator, asks “Jonfan” how much currency premium accountants make in the United States. The conversation that follows is pretty much like something out of any one of my classes. (I showed it to my roommate and she was laughing her ass off).

But meanwhile, I’m trying to steel myself for a trip into the classroom tomorrow. Nervous as hell… and I know I need to appear confident… can’t let them smell fear. I would say that this group isn’t so scary (and dangerous) as some other groups, but I’ve learned my lesson about taking anything for granted. Now I feel like I need to be on guard from all sides.

February 24, 2007 8:37am

Well, survived another week of this whole teaching thing… whew. It is now Saturday morning. It is a little chilly outside, but I think I’m going to go jogging anyway. I just need to give my breakfast some time to settle. Then, grocery shopping and maybe some cooking. Nothing too exciting—Saturday is usually a day of recovery from the week. I always tell myself I’m not going to do any lesson prep over the weekend, but I usually wind up doing some. Monday is going to be a little crazy again, so I have to do at least a little bit at some point this weekend. I may try to leave it for Sunday evening, though…

I need to work on developing a social life—not so good at that. I was working on it, then all that crap happened with complaints and observations and whatnot, so I put social life on the backburner. Now I think I should probably start working on it again…

So, wow, it has been a long time since I’ve really written anything. Ummm, but I’m not going to write anything right now because I’m still waking up and I feel like anything I write will be slightly incoherent. I’m gonna watch the last episode of Reno 911 season three.

Before I do that, though, I have a Czech lesson for everyone:

To je škoda = What a pity. (pronunciation: toe yeah shkoda—š is sh)

Škoda is also the name of a Czech car.


February 27, 2007

Feeling pretty good right now. My student for tomorrow morning cancelled, but it was less than 6 business hours before the lesson, so I should still get paid for it. So, not only do I get to sleep in tomorrow, I have her lesson for next week prepped now AND I get paid for sleeping in. Yeah. Life is not so bad sometimes.

Last weekend I went into the creepy building (see pictures I posted a few weeks back). The creepy building is open once a month for a few hours—it was open last Saturday so I went there before I went grocery shopping. The inside is just as creepy as the outside—maybe a bit more so. It used to be a tomb for Communist party leaders—Gottwald’s embalmed body was displayed there for a few years until it started to decay (ewww…). The inside is completely in marble—it was colder inside than it was outside. Everything was at right angles—completely uniform. There were no windows. Well, almost. The lower level had a couple of windows, and the upper level didn’t have windows but it did have some nearly opaque glass in the ceiling. Having the only natural light come from the ceiling gave the place a feeling of being built completely underground—not a pleasant feeling overall. It was so odd because everything was so geometric and measured. On one hand, there were no flaws—but that is not a good thing. There was no extra ornamentation or design to help give the eyes a break—it was all so harsh and oppressive. Still, I’m glad I went to see it. Things like that remind me that I’m in a country that was Communist for several years. That is something that will always make this place foreign—will make it different from West Germany or France (or the USA or Canada). There is a whole range of experiences that I can never tap into (which is not a bad thing, it is just something I need to remember. Things like this monument remind me of that).

Sunday I went to Letna Park. There is a giant metronome at the top of Letna Park. The park itself might have been nice, but it was in such a state of disrepair. If I wanted to film a post-apocalyptic movie, I would use Letna Park. There was grass growing up through the cobblestones and pavement, there were stairs missing (and parts of stairs missing). There were broken slabs of… benches, pavement, platforms, etc littering the park. I half expected to see people using drugs under the few benches that were not completely destroyed. I thought about taking pictures to post on my blog, but I decided against it. It was just a little too depressing.

I also saw the Exhibition Hall in Prague—also known as the Odessa train station (but only to people who have seen Everything is Illuminated. By the way, for those of you who are going to come and visit me, I recommend this movie. Parts of it were filmed in Prague—and the areas are easier to find than the places Amadeus was filmed—I still haven’t found any Amadeus sites yet).

Then I went shopping on Wenchaslas Square (Vaclavske Namesti) to try and find a pair of pants that fit. Didn’t have too much luck, though I did find the most AWESOME top at Marks and Spencers (I feel like I’ve written this before. I know I have. I just can’t remember if I wrote it in my blog or if I wrote it as an email to someone. If it is somewhere else in the blog, sorry). Anyway, the top was wayyyyy to expensive (over 1000 crowns!) so I told myself I didn’t really need it (I actually told myself that it didn’t fit. They didn’t have the size I needed, so I tried on the next closest size. I think that technically it did fit, but my story is that it didn’t fit well enough for me to spend over 1000 crowns on it (basically, two weeks of groceries).

Yeah, so that was my exciting weekend. I know, I know—I may as well have stayed in the States and had the same exact weekend back there (only six hours later). But, well, it’s Prague.

I think today was another blue day. I can’t decide if it is a blue slash or a blue cross. My system has already become complicated. I decided that having just two options—a blue X and a black X—was not enough, so now I have blue and black slashes (I also have left a couple of days blank because I really did not know what to do with them. I think they may count as black if I have a lot of black Xs and slashes, but they will count as blue if the blue marks outnumber the black marks. I know, I know—too complicated. But my days are that complicated—a good lesson, a great lesson, an indifferent lesson, an awful lesson—and all in the same day. This morning I played the Hypothetical Game with some of my students (they had taken a Mock PET exam last week, so I wanted to do something light with them). They had to write out cards with hypothetical situations (What would you do if you won a million dollars), then write three possible answers. Now, these are my computer tech students, so I was a little worried about their creativity. And it took them a looooong time to do six of their cards (I finally had to stop them so we could actually get to the game!). They did have some good ones though—in a very logical way. One student wrote “What if you broke your car” as his situation. One of his options was “cry like a small child.” The other student wrote “Imagine you were the most popular person in the world. What would you do?” One of her options was ‘be very tired.” Of course—it makes perfect sense! I love it when my students come up with stuff like that!

Well, I’m gonna read a little bit then get some sleep. I’m pretty tired right now.

March 1, 2007 11:40am

Ugh. Don’t know what is wrong with me, but I feel blah. Just completely blah. I really don’t want to have to go teach right now. I just want to eat chocolate, crawl into bed, and read and sleep. Oh, and drink tea (and maybe some hot chocolate). I may have to get some hot chocolate at the school café just to reward myself for leaving today (although I did already teach this morning. But I already had some chocolate to reward myself for that). Blah. I hate feeling like this. Blah blah blah.

8:45 pm

Feeling better—it may actually be a blue slash day (even with my totally wacky Czech class and my drag-ass exhaustion through three straight hours of teaching). So—wacky Czech class: 90 minutes is probably about 20 minutes too long for a beginning level language class, but… hell, I need to learn the language anyway. So, I was completely exhausted through the entire Czech class. Then, in the last fifteen to ten minutes, the teacher decided to explain the entire Czech verb system to us. Yeah. The ENTIRE Czech verb system. Granted, it is nowhere near as extensive as the English verb system, but… turns out there are four different groups for conjugation… and the verbs can switch groups depending on what tense is being used. So a verb that is conjugated as a group 1 verb in the present tense is conjugated as a group 4 verb in the future tense. Ugh, ugh, and double ugh (and ugh again). We’ve also started looking at a case. Don’t know which one it is, but:


Jsem z Ameriky

Jsem Američanka

Yeah. That. Also, it looks like the verbs in the past tense have to be conjugated for the gender of the speaker. Dude. I just have one thing to say… To je škoda.

Well, I have my guide book out and I’m gonna try to figure out what I want to see this weekend. There were a couple places I wanted to go, but it looks like they are closed until April. I may just have to stay in and drink tea and watch tv (CNN, Al-J, and Sex in the City on my laptop). Oh, and fight the urge to go back to Marks and Spencers and get that freakin’ awesome top.

By the way, it is odd having business folk as students. I was talking to one student about finding the awesome top at Marks and Spencers and that I didn’t get it because it was too expensive, and he was all like, dude, that store is cheap. If you want expensive clothes, you should go somewhere else. (Okay, I embellished his English just a little bit there, but you get the picture). I had some students tell me to go shopping in a mall (WTF?? Do they think I’m made of money here? Do I have Czech crowns coming out of my a$$?) and I actually had a different group of students suggest I go shopping between classes (insane). And everyone always talks about how materialistic Americans are… HA! It is all freakin’ over the entire world, thank you very much.


At 4:10 AM, Anonymous Anna said...

Everything is Illuminated played at the Lyric. I heard lots of good stuff about it, but I didn't get around to watching it all. I might've seen ~20-30 minutes of it.

Funny thing is, I wouldn't have guessed that the guy (Alex? Eugene Hutz? I don't remember) is actually a music guy/singer. :)

At 8:52 AM, Blogger Ovonia Red said...

Anna, remember that Start Wearing Purple song on my other blog? That is from Gogol Bordello, the group that Eugene sings in.

BTW, everyone--I read some reviews of Everything is Illuminated that mentioned that the historical events in the film are completely inaccurate. Just wanted to mention this.


At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anna said...

Huh...I'm not sure I connotate "folk music" as they connotate it, but awesome. :)

I can totally see that guy singing a song like "Start Wearing Purple," though. ;)


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