Archive for March, 2014
It’s Sunday morning and I am suffering the previous evening’s beat down by the Becherovka Imp. I went to the village and met L. The beer flowed like wine and the Becherovka flowed like beer. And now, I am paying the price. My head is both swimming and pounding so much that it’s like being in a cyclone. I can’t see and hope that my blindness is temporary, but I would gladly give up the gift of sight for this hangover to disappear. My stomach is making its future game plan known by sending highly unsubtle hints that I will not explain any further.
I squint, blink, and peep enough to make out the time on the clock: 7:32 am.
I have a lot to do today. I am leaving on a trip tomorrow; I need to finalize a presentation, write two blog posts, and pack. So getting up and getting an early start is the most prudent decision. However, my brain says nuts to this and I doze off again immediately. It’s as if my body is sending itself into torpor to avoid the day’s events. When I awake again, it’s 9:10 am and I feel slightly better. I can see, so that’s good.
I feel slightly guilty about sleeping in until after 9, as it’s not something I do much these days. This is a drastic change from my night owl youth and that I have become something of an early bird has caused my parents to reconsider their belief in a deity. But still, 9 am isn’t too bad.
It’s when I turn on my computer that I find out it’s actually 10:15 am. And then it dawns on me, the Time Thief has been here. I then begin imploring the heavens.
Every now and again, I go through the search engine entries on my blog to see how people find my blog. There are the obvious ones (my name + blog, my name + my book, hottest teacher in Cz Rep, short fat men who write, Bjork haters of the Czech Republic). Same old same old.
But there are also weird ones, creepy ones, and downright inexplicable ones. This morning I go through the search engine entries that people have used in the last three months. Some of them elicit confusion – how did someone find me using that? Some of them elicit a belly laugh, and some of them elicit an online search for bodyguards.
Be scared, people; be very scared.
Here are the top ten.
Friday night. I am cooking and watching a documentary on the birth of language (cartoons) on my laptop. I am slicing a cucumber when I am struck but something odd, and it takes a moment for it to register. It’s silence.
I look over and sure enough the screen is frozen and I have that initial jolting reaction, as if something has just tugged on my leg in the Atlantic Ocean. I go to the computer and fool around with it, check settings, check signal. Everything seems OK. I check the router and the signals are fine there too. But when I click a link, it says I am offline.
Another five minutes of curse-laden exploration shows that my WiFi signal has now disappeared. I am getting a black exclamation point on a yellow triangle, the international coat-of-arms for: Sir, you are 100% f*cked.
Houston, we have a problem.
Evening class. Three students come in late, apologize profusely and offer chocolate. The students have found this is the only way to quell the demon I become when someone arrives late. I accept the booty and continue with the class.
I set the chocolate down and play it cool. Don’t want to scarf it down it ten seconds. Well, at least not with witnesses. As I breathe deeply to invite self-control, I notice that one of the girls has a band-aid in the middle of her forehead.
“What happened?” I ask.
“I am awkward,” she answers.
When I realize that this is the full extent of her answer, I nod gravely. I understand all too well. If bleeding were a contest, I’d be covered in gold stars and ribbons and not just band aids, scrapes, and cuts. To the awkward girl, don’t worry, here are some reasons I bleed more than a man not living in a combat zone should.
I am under my desk. And when you are under your desk, you often wonder how you ended up there.
As usual, I decided to celebrate Sunday with a themed documentary film marathon. Whether inspired by recent airline incidents or my morbid Sunday mood, today’s theme: mysterious disappearances.
So I queued up some documentaries on YouTube and made popcorn. We had the Devil’s Sea, the Bermuda Triangle, Flight 19, The Carroll A. Deering, Amelia Earhart, and lots of other mysteries. Some explain these as the result of bad weather, others as a mix up with another dimension, and others as run-ins with the lizard men.
Today I saw Kevin Bacon’s video campaign to raise awareness for the 1980s and this is my bit to support him and 80s awareness. I am an 80s kid. Millennials, can you even imagine a world in which you have to write down phone numbers, go outside for fun, and meet people face to face?
Here are some of the things we had to deal with back in the days before tablets, MP3s, and video games so real that couch potatoes actually consider careers as a sniper.
A little thing called D&D, my friends. I was a combat-tested cleric capable of 3rd level spells and healing potions. I know what you’re thinking – hot! We used to spend rainy days on Mike Barr’s porch, eating bologna sandwiches and getting genuinely freaked out by non-virtual zombie and ogre attacks. We were a simpler folk.
Later on, there was Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Brothers. This social network involved all the kids from our street gathering in the one kid’s wreck room who actually had the game. When there was a tech problem our IT department (John) took care of it by slapping the top of the Nintendo and then blowing into the slot.
If that didn’t work, we went outside.
If you have the internet, a brain stem, and cogitate in any way then you have noticed the recent flood of Buzzfeed’s “Which … Are You?” quizzes. In the last week, I have found out which Golden Girl I am (Blanche), which mythical creature (the Phoenix), which Beatle (Ringo. Yes, fucking Ringo!), which Harry Potter character (Neville Longbottom), and which classic rock band (Zeppelin).
These quizzes have got to be the most popular thing going on the internet. Basically informal and silly personality quizzes, people love them because they take three minutes to do and offer minor pseudo-analyses that allow you to be linked to some famous social or cultural icon in some way. Bring me a monster snake to slay, for I am Neville Longbottom!
Still, though Buzzfeed makes some enjoyable quizzes, they sometimes miss the mark. Here are some which haven’t enjoyed the same success.
Emails. What a fantastic invention, a speedy way to deal with both business and pleasure. A way to reconnect with friends and family you’d otherwise lose touch with. I shoot emails back and forth all day with friends sometimes and I love getting an email from an old friend. Emails and IMs have completely overhauled our daily communications and it is wonderful.
But. And there’s a big but.
As it turns out, many people out there are rude, ignorant, lazy, and completely incapable of exhibiting the simplest degree of social skill. And all of this comes oozing out in their emails. It’s also where you see the devolution of language and communication and major support for the idea that we are headed down the road towards social Armageddon. And that road is paved with no punctuation and the inability to capitalize.
Here are some of my pet peeves.
Running on a Sunday morning in Prague means running along streets, sidewalks, and paths littered with the remnants of the night before. There are empty KFC buckets, broken beer bottles, blood, scorched scarves, and many more pairs of pantyhose than seem reasonable. It’s returning to the scene of a crime I had nothing to do with.
Running on a Sunday morning also means quiet and solitude. It’s like having Prague all to myself so I can run and sweat and implore the heavens and cry and sing Led Zeppelin without any fear of embarrassment.
Today is no different. Mostly.
I am halfway through my route. I have crossed Výtoň Bridge and am heading along the river towards Palackého Bridge, which I will cross and head the 1.5 miles home. All alone, I am screeching my version of Gallows Pole, but hush when I notice a form in the mist up ahead and the little dog next to him. I recognize the scowl, the hunched shoulders, the hair.
“It can’t be,” I say.
But it is. It’s him.