Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I used to be a writer...

You know, when I try to think of what to tell people that I want to be when I "grow up" I still find myself saying I want to write. And it's true. So why am I not doing it? Why am I not pouring amazing literature out during my every free moment? Why am I just basking in the glow of people saying "You write so well! Have you ever considered writing?" To which I must naturally reply, "Why yes, that is what I do after all."
But do I? Do I actually write? Am I really still a writer? Besides the occasional blog or e-mail update, and the hours I spend pouring out my every thought and passing moment in my journal, do I still write?
The sad truth is, it's been a long, long, LONG time since I produced anything even vaguely akin to literature. There was a three year gap in my poetry journal. And I've only added a scant three poems to it this year. Have I lost the ability to create, to captivate?
I've recently been reading Rebecca's blog on a regular basis, and have longed to have such incredible posts to call my own. Perhaps it is partly a lack of stimulating subject matter, or maybe it's just the fact that I've lost the ability to see it. I still live in a place that, to most of you, is practically like science fiction. A place still recovering from the toll taken by the communist government, not to mention all the other governments that have held power over these people. I'm sitting now in a small cafe looking out at Spalicek, a group of houses once owned by Jews who were brutally murdered centuries ago, for reasons now long forgotten. The street outside my window is cobbled, the buildings around the square painted in pastel shades of pink, blue, yellow and orange, well suited to the upcoming Easter holiday. There is snow on the ground. We've had a rather freak storm for the past couple of days. My students have been telling me for the past month that, with each weekend, we are facing the last cold days of winter. Instead we've been experiencing a relapse of that frigid time of year. The "flakes" which more resemble really wet cottonwood offerings, float through the air mysteriously as though they somehow realize they are inappropriate.
I walk to work every day past a horrible smelling manhole that must clearly open into the sewer, and have to hold my breath to escape the fumes. A few minutes later I pass a factory that often smells like burning tires where I try to make eye contact with the dogs so they know they won't get a laugh out of surprising me with their vicious barking. They truly are a devious pair. One day completely unconcerned with my existence, the next, noting my inattention and waiting until I'm right next to them before barking their little brains out. I continue on, check the time and temperature, and hike up the hill that tends to make me sweat whether it is -6 or not.(That'd be in Celsius of course.) I continue past Listopadu 17 (a building that always makes me smile because it means November 17 which is my birthday for those not in the know) and walk down Evropska, or Europe Street, where you can often spot the prostitutes hanging out on the corners waiting for German tourists at all hours of the day or night. Past the wobbly scaffolding where the men are currently tearing all the siding off an ancient building which will soon be replaced by something that looks like Styrofoam and will later be painted some pastel color like the rest of the town. I continue down the street past several cigarette stands, bars, and casinos to "hypernova" over which Winfield College sits.
Somehow in this recounting I've forgotten to mention the people I pass. They are a random mix of 14 year olds smoking cigarettes they really aren't supposed to be able to buy, women with hair ranging from bleach blond with a black under layer, to the most shocking shades of fuschia and red or a combination of all of these with some blue and pink mixed in - and I'm not just talking about young women, but women of literally every age! - wearing real fur coats that have possibly been passed on for generations, or clothes clearly from the 80s that match nicely with their 80s mullets. There are also so many men out walking babies in the most amazing strollers you have ever seen. I mean, these strollers are really made for walking. The tires are burlier than those of Alaskan SUVs in winter! In this country women are allowed up to three years of paid maternity leave with their jobs guaranteed at the end of the time, and the men are also allowed to take time as well, although I'm not certain of exactly how long. And so we see them walking the babies, and it is so nice. Of course not all their habits with babies are very nice. We have also seen them leave their babies in their very nice strollers outside of stores. It would never be allowed in the US, but here no one seems to mind here at all.
Well, it seems that the game has finished, so I need to head back to the office. So maybe I can still write, but it would be nice if someday it would amount to more than random thoughts online or in books never meant to be read by anyone but me.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Prayers appreciated here!

As I'm looking into the skyrocketing airline prices, I would appreciate all the prayers that I can get. Really have to come home, but not sure I'll be able to eat once I get there at the rate the prices are going.
Also, we've pretty much hired the help for next year and I'm a bit worried about him. The students seem to be thinking he's good, but he's already driven me insane and I haven't even really had to deal with him a whole lot. He's in his 50's, American, and a bit of a whiner. Not really looking forward to babysitting him next year.
Lately I've been a bit despondent as well. Just feeling blah. Trying to figure out if I've made the right decision to come back. I mean, I really think I have, but complications with life in general are making being around my family and friends ever so much more appealing than ever. I really NEED to come home for the summer, regardless of the costs, for my own mental well being.
Fortunately, I continue to really enjoy my students. I'm hoping that next year I'll figure out ways to spend more time with them.
Wow, I just looked out the window and the clouds that dropped rain, hail, and sounds of thunder have somehow disappeared with the crazy wind and it now looks positively gorgeous outside my window. I'm expecting it's still less than warm out there, but hopefully the current outlook will help my mood a bit as well. If only I wasn't such an infernally moody creature! Goodness!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Living in London

While I could, no doubt, go on for ages about my trip to London. I mean, I even managed to make a weekend in Salzburg go through two posts. I don't want to push it on and on forever, so I'll stick with little tidbits of our Spring Break Extravaganza.
To start off, in order to make the trip somewhat reasonably priced, Naomi and I took a bus to London. Now we had been told that our arrival time would be somewhere around 6 AM. Not the best time of day for a night person like myself, but doable. Unfortunately, they lied. We didn't get in at 6. Oh no. We arrived at 3 AM. And what do you do in a city you know nothing about and have no contacts in at 3 AM? Hmmm...neither did we. So after wandering randomly around the closed shops by the bus station we finally found a bench in a fairly decently lighted place, and rested our heavy heads on our backpacks.

Yes, that was the bench on which we "slept" and that is me in my disarray after a seriously long bus ride. Amazing how comfortable seats can quickly disintegrate into torture devices after long periods. I won't even take time to go into the stench on the bus, or the crying newborn, or the old man with the hacking cough who wouldn't let me put my seat back. GRRRR!!!
But when all was said and done, we were in London. How could I possibly argue with the end result. After spending 3 hours trying to somehow stay awake, we finally made it inside a building and were able to have breakfast McDonald's style. Good times for certain. We passed up Starbucks, seeing as how the prices that looked the same as those in the US were actually twice as expensive because they were in pounds instead of dollars. I must confess, the prices for pretty much everything were ridiculous! We did our best to live off the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we had brought from Czech for as long as we could stomach them. And we were more than happy to hit up McDonalds, Subway, KFC, Burger King, and the supermarket Tesco to keep our food budget from killing us all together.
Now it is said that London is one of the rainiest places on the planet. I was prepared, having lived in Duckville Oregon for a number of years, and was happily disappointed. Our weather was really very pleasant. It only dripped on us a couple of hours two of the days we were there, and the rest of the time it was really sunny, with crazy wind only one day.
We also did our best to take in as many of the free attractions as we possibly could. We walked through such amazing places as Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, St. James Park and Regents Park:

We walked along the Thames River and took in views of The Globe Theatre, Big Ben, St Pauls Cathedral, Tower Bridge and many other fabulous sights:

We really enjoyed all the museums as well. I was impressed by how many of them were free. We spent a lot of time at the Natural History Museum, and really enjoyed the Victoria and Albert Museum that has artifacts from around the world. We did pay for a few tours as well. It was great fun to go through Kensington Palace (where you naturally can't take any photos) The Tower of London, and Sherlock Holmes House (which I visited alone while Naomi sat through a session of Parliament.)

I know this is quite a whirlwind review, and I would love to tell you all about things in more detail, but I feel that the pictures say a lot for themselves. Especially that one of me in the massive hoop skirt. A spinster from way back or what!?!
We spent a lot of time in Trafalgar Square, and I was particularly fond of Big Ben. I've always been really drawn to Big Ben. I have a vision in my head from childhood where I saw something, either in a dream, or in some sleepy state that made me think it was Big Ben. The sun was setting and Canadian Geese were flying through the sky in a V...But now I've seen the real thing. I've drunk in the view and been amazed.
We were pretty lucky to get into Westminster Abbey and St Paul's for free to take part in services there. I really enjoyed being in these amazing buildings where people have worshiped God for centuries. We went to the changing of the guard which was pretty cool as well. I was very impressed by the bands they had that played.

Here are a few more sights from our walks through more parks, and finishing off with my wonderful meal of fish and chips (no I still don't like fish, but I just knew I had to have the most famous food in London) that we consumed in a restaurant that was once frequented by none other than Charles Dickens. Yeah, London is pretty much just that cool.

So there's a fast tour through the wild and crazy world of London. Our bus ride back wasn't nearly as uncomfortable or bad smelling as our trip there. However, once again we were dropped off at 3 AM, not the 5 AM we had been promised. Can't really say we were overly thrilled by the fact. Especially when we found ourselves in unfamiliar and very dark surroundings, the wind whipping wildly (I later learned it was a severe wind storm all over Czech that even took the roofs off people's houses), and people randomly shouting in the night. We were greatly relieved when the lights turned on and we were able to sit indoors until our bus toward home at 6. It was a great trip, and I'm so thankful to have been able to have this experience.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Back from London

Just a short note to say that I had an amazing trip to London last week. God is so good. He provided us with positively AMAZING weather! We're talking sunshine, and only brief moments of rain two of the days we were there. It was truly incredible, considering that London is generally known for it's horrendous rainfall.
Now I'm trying to get back into the swing of things with teaching. Always a bit of a trick.
Please pray for the school here as our boss is looking at a couple of new teaching candidates that are not a part of ESI. It is a very difficult decision for her to make, and could really change the atmosphere here at Winfield college.
It's raining here now, and I'm hoping it will clear up before my walk home this evening. It was really nice to have some time away to be refreshed. London was so completely different from Cheb. And most people spoke English there. It's amazing how much you miss your native language when you hear it from so few people. In Hong Kong I didn't notice it so much because pretty much everyone spoke English there, but here that is not the case. It was also nice to be able to get some American food. Yeah for Subway! We ate there at least 3 times during our stay! Excellent!

Okay, enough for now as I really will be filling you in with all sorts of details soon.