Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Homeward Bound

After four months of running from the law, we got our visas to validate our stay in the Czech Republic. It was a long and tedious process, as well as expensive. We seemingly had to dish out money every step of the way. Complications with our lawyer only bogged us down more and our pleasant stay in Prague has been called into question. Sadly, the moment we received our visas we began to think about returning home. A sad thought when things were getting better. My visa lasts for 114 days. I have to be packed and ready to go by June 14th. But Eve's visa expires June 5th. Why the difference in days? Who knows. Another vexing problem added to the bag. (Although, this is not as bad as Sara's visa only lasting for ~70 days....)

After some deliberation, we arranged our flights home. We are leaving on May 27th and we couldn't be happier with the weight of the decision off our shoulders. It feels nice to have some definite answers for once. No more vague answers when asked questions about our visa situation or 'when am I coming home?' I'd be happy to oblige you with the answers. 

Last week was pretty difficult on me to say the least. I wasn't feeling too good about our situation here, even after getting our visas situated. Everybody gave me (us) a celebratory congratulations on our 'triumphant victory!' I wish I could have shared their spirits, mood and drink. I felt down and indifferent about working so I took all day Thursday and Friday morning off. It didn't really help but it was a consequence of my mood. I feel better now that we have a set time frame. Maybe the vagueness was really getting to me. It's amusing how 10 months can go by in a blink of an eye whereas everyday could drag on, ball and chain and everything. Routine. Droll, i know. But our trip here has had a little bit of both. Weeks fly by but I can feel the inexplicable slowness in each day. Here's to hoping that the former drowns out the latter. Cheers. 

Today, my lesson canceled as I was getting off the tram. I don't mind the cancellation, especially since it was late and i get paid anyways, but I don't like going all the way there just to come back. Well, I've been enjoying my free day so far. I watched 28 Weeks Later and I enjoyed it very much. I loved the opening scene and the cinematography. Eve and I had lunch at The Globe after her lesson and I've been here every since. I like this place. I'm upstairs alone, enjoying a Gambrinus and contemplating our dinner options. I foresee an unavoidable Tesco run for sure. Maybe another movie tonight? I'll let you know.

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Global Update

So lately, due to financial restrictions, we've been taking more walks around Prague to explore all that this beautiful city has to offer. The short amount of daylight really prohibits outdoor activities but we try to manage to get out for at least a few hours. Work has been stressful and disheartening, which has put me into an uninspiring rut. I have been walking with my head down to and from work. The demands of life have blinded me from Prague. I needed a solution and we found one that was staring us in the face. If I was missing Prague, I should go out and see it. And frankly, it's been a wonderful revelation. I took Prague for granted for a while but now I'm startled by how much beauty is everywhere….

"... they decided to take a walk... and after a night of stiff winds the air was rinsed clean and the light was so precise that distances in the park seemed diminished. Clouds began to build, fair-weather cumulus, high-prowed and drifting. It was one of those days... when there's a distilled sense of perception, a spareness, every line firm and unredundant, and the leaves were beginning to turn, the dogwoods and sumacs, and nothing was wasted or went unseen."

During my last semester of college, I had become exhausted with doing anything related to history. I was burnt out and lacked the motivation to continue researching my once arduous passion. 19th American History had become tedious and stale. So for the past two years, I’ve shelved history for another time. That time is now. I have rekindled my love for reading/researching/writing history. I have been reading about the Radical Republicans during the 19th century and how they influenced American politics. To me, this stuff is very interesting. This was a tumultuous epoch with extremely passionate people in an inchoate democracy, which shaped the political system we use today.  Upon reading this passage, I felt inspired with history again....

"By democracy, I mean a historical face, rooted in a vast array of events and experiences, that comes into being out of changing human relations between governors and the governed. Stopping history cold at any particular point and parsing its political makeup negates that historical flow and stifles the voices and activities of actual people attempting to define the operations of government. Only over an extended period of time is it possible to see democracy and democratic government grow out of particular social, intellectual and political contexts... Democracy is never a gift bestowed by benevolent, farseeing rulers who seek to reinforce their own legitimacy. It must always be fought for, by political coalitions that cut across distinctions of wealth, power, and interest. It succeeds and survives only when it is rooted in the lives and expectation of its citizens, and continually reinvigorated in each generation. Democratic successes are never irreversible."

Why can’t I seem to be really knowledgeable in something particular? I’m thinking of music at the moment, but I guess I can apply it to most things. I absolutely have no interest in finding new music lately. I don’t really have any new music. None.  Maybe I don’t like the new wave of music coming out or I have just lost my drive for listening to music altogether. I have something to say about this new wave of music. I get it. Art can be whatever you want it to be. But I feel like some (not all) bands get away with being ‘good’ for doing nothing musically inspiring at all. (I say this with some reservation. I don’t mean to offend anyone’s taste in music. Nor am I saying that my taste is any better than yours because it's not and I know it.) But I can’t help the feeling that the fringe music is automatically more inspiring because it’s exactly what its not; mainstream. I want to listen to musicians making music that combines taste and talent. If you have any recommendations, let me know. A healthy marriage of both, please…

"He worked for a movie distributor part-time and also produced documentaries, or coproduced, or made phone calls, and it was a process that carried just enough slanting light to make it renewably futile. He arranged screenings for a film society as well. And he saw everything, collected movie posters and lobby cards, could recite the filmographies of the obscurest directors because the more obscure the figure, of course, the more valuable the knowledge. This has always been a point of honor in the business."

Movies have been watched. True Grit, Black Swan, The Ghost Writer, The Kids Are Alright, Somewhere, Blue Valentine, Animal Kingdom, In America, Resident Evil 4 (that one was just for me), Buried, The King’s Speech, The Town and some others. TV series have been watched. Dexter, Breaking Bad, Madmen, Big Love, Californication, Fringe, V and The Wire (all up-to-date/finished). Gearing up to start Boardwalk Empire. I'm excited to start watching it because I've heard good things about it. Looks like my type of series.

I liked this exchange in the King’s Speech…

Lionel Logue: [as George "Berty" is lighting up a cigarette] Please don't do that.
King George VI: I'm sorry?
Lionel Logue: I believe sucking smoke into your lungs will kill you.
King George VI: My physicians say it relaxes the throat.
Lionel Logue: They're idiots.
King George VI: They've all been knighted.
Lionel Logue: Makes it official then.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Early mornings and early nights

It's been a while since I've written one of these entries. I created this blog to keep in contact with the rest of the world but I have done an extremely awful job at it. I thought it would be easy to just sign on and write about my life here in Prague. It's been really easy to sign on, but extremely hard to put my thoughts down on the screen. Maybe I have arid thoughts or maybe it's a lack of effort. Sometimes my head is like a desert with the occasional tumbleweed blowing by and other times I feel indolent and torpid. But whatever has been happening, I am now going to try to shake it off. Bring rain to my proverbial wasteland.

Update: Prague was beautiful when we got here in August. Prague is even more beautiful in the winter.
Another update: It is officially winter in Prague.

Full blown winter. Snow was covering just about everything until yesterday. The average temperature has been around 20 with a low in the single digits. Today it is about 30. Relief. The snow is melting and creating a slug around the city. It's sorta funny to think that 30 degrees is a relief though. It also gets dark around 4pm nowadays, successfully inducing sleepiness around.....19:00. It's bad. Maybe that is a factor to my laziness. This is my first winter and I might be overdramatizing the situation but winter is not my favorite. I don't plan on being outside much and we usually speed walk (can't run because of the icy roads) to wherever we need to go. No lingering or loitering outside. It's bad for your health.

Teaching for the past four months has been amusing to say the least. Most have become a conversation rather than a "lesson." My one-on-ones want to practice speaking, making my job a whole lot easier. Just think of a topic and bam, 240 easy Korunas. (A whopping $13) Unfortunately, it feels like any other job. You work all day just to come home and talk about it. It seems like its all we talk about. At home, in the pub, at a party and now in this blog. So I'm sorry that this section is truncated.

Plans for the holidays: 1)We are going to Brussels for a few days to visit and celebrate Christmas Eve with Eve's friend's boyfriend's family. 2) We are going to Milan to celebrate New Year. We will be in Italy for a few days, so hopefully we will travel a bit.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hello Mr. Salcito

Cesky Krumlov
A 38 year old lawyer named David needs help learning English in Prague. He wants to be able to communicate with his colleagues and clients with fluency and confidence. David wants a native speaker that will assist him. I am the one that will teach him the ways of the world. Or at least English for that matter. Wait, what did I just say? I am teaching English to other people, for money. (very little, but thats not the point) Shocked. Absolutely astounded. Speechless. Just two months ago, my life was lackluster and repetitive. I was waiting tables for cranky old people and doing the same exertions day in and day out. This is not in anyway about the friends and family back home, but about the routine. And now, somebody is trusting me to teach them English. As well as Mr. Freiberg, a high school and six unfortunate souls at an ad agency! Ever think you are not qualified to do something? Hah...

My first day at the high school (it's a Jewish school and they actually have all grades but i teach a class of 12-13 year olds and a class of 18-19 year olds and i like to say its a high school for some reason) was one of those times in your life where you question why the fuck you made the decision to do something in the first place. I was introduced to the head English teacher, a very nice lady that was engrossed in preparing her next lesson, who asked me a few questions before the 8:30 bell rang. "Have you ever taught kids before?" "No." "Haha" (she smiled one of those pity smiles) Ominous. "Your first class is easy, the older kids are very nice. Your second class...are 12-13 year olds, mostly girls and they will giggle a lot." "Oh great." I might have even said that. I don't really remember because my mind was preoccupied with restraining myself from turning around and running out the door. Then the bell rang, and my teaching career began. Ten teenagers stared at me wondering how did this guy got into the building. Awkward. I wrote my name down on the board and introduced myself and we all started to get to know each other. Well, they started to get to know me. They have known each other for a long time. Then the bell rang, and I let out a prodigious sigh. My first high school class was over. Yay. Only an infinite amount more to go. On my way out, a student said to me, "Bye Mr. Salcito!" It's hard to explain how that feels until it happens to you. It was strange to say the least. So strange that I told them to just call me Matt. I wasn't sure if I could handle being a complete teacher just yet. Also have to keep cool you know. 

I'm about three weeks into teaching and I'm finding out that it gets easier and less stressful the more times I do it. It's actually quite challenging and rewarding. (Taught what those words meant to my 'older older' students the other day, hah) I think this could be fun. 

I live in Prague now. Seeing myself writing that has a profound impact because it makes it real. I live in Prague. I have an awesome apartment in the heart of downtown. I work at various places in the city, and I am slowly embedding myself into this culture. We have found a couple restaurants we like to go to, cafe's to read in, parks to relax at, clubs and bars to get drunk at, etc. I might actually become Czech. That actually can't happen, legal shit. Plus, its only been two months since we've left Florida. Only two months. Thats a short and long time, at the same time. 

I miss everybody back home.