'wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking. we're all wanderers in life.' -spanish poet, antonio machado

Monday, March 2, 2009

the grass IS greener on the other side...there may just be a bit more poop in it...

(if/when i write a book, know that this is in the running for title - don't steal my idea, pretty please)

Before I begin, I would like to say two things:

1) please excuse my somewhat down-in-the-dumps tone...it is not entirely indicative of my feelings towards me being here, but it is real and I'm all about being real with you.
-and -
2) I forgot what I was going to say (really, I did...I left the room to cook a chicken breast and some manky-looking cheesy-broccoli-noodly-thing and now have forgotten what my 2nd - and very important - point is.).

Ahhh, yes, the title of the blog - why the title, "the grass IS greener on the other side...there just may be a bit more poop in it"? You may ask? Well, my lovely former boss (that's right, Stace - I called you "boss") constantly told me, "the grass isn't greener, gal" and I'd respond rather matter-of-factly, "the grass may be a different shade of green, but it is still green:)." And, I've really confirmed that she was indeed wrong, as the grass has to be greener here...it's simply not as freaking cold as it is in Minni. ha. Another qualifying blog title statement - as I have mentioned before, Czech people love their dogs...and their dogs love to poop on the sidewalk...and then the dog owners don't love to pick it up. And then I accidentally step in it, and then I find myself standing in tree pose, and as a result, getting dog poop on my jeans. Which, I do not love. Yes, sadly...it's happened once.

Life is fascinating here. Really. But, it is much more fascinatingly different than I could have imagined. I mean, I knew I was coming to a drastically different place, and was at least well-prepped for the translation, thanks to all of the good nuggets of info from my brother, but I've learned that it is really just not possible to prep for a move abroad. Life is different in many ways. For this reason, it is so fitting that I have decided to entitle this blog, "zmena" (which was also one of the first czech words I learned). Let me just give you a lil' snippet into the amount of change...okay, so people think it is a big change starting a new job. Add to this, a new company, a small office environment vs. large office, new people and personalities, new industry...all in a new country with a new - and very different - language, well...I think this pretty much speaks for itself.

What's even crazier, is that I am not alone here - I am surrounded by expats who have done the same thing as me, so this is what I perceive as normal. But it is far from normal, friends. I am not asking for sympathy (although packages are always great:)...thanks to Bets and Lex for sending such an awesome lil' gift, as well as Stace and co. from the office - unreal! loved it!), but I merely want to relay to you exactly how much change an expat goes through. And, that's just the start. Here, 65-year-old women have magenta colored streaks in their hair, it's not uncommon to see men and boys peeing in public and every once in a while you may catch someone snorting coke off of a dirty park bench. Un-freaking-real, but oh-so-real, because I've seen it. Oh, and the other day we saw a random fight break loose literally out in front of Czech Inn. Here's how it unraveled...guy in big truck takes up entire width of cobblestone street in front of the hostel. Guys in car behind big truck man gets pissed (angry, not drunk). So, guys in car yell at guy in big truck. In fact, guy in big truck must have hit someone's car too...maybe he backed into guys in car - not positive how it all played out. But, it was not good, because the three guys in car got out and started beating guy in truck. Literally...no joke...true, bonafide beating. I was appalled, and freaking out...of course yelling "call the police" (as if having the police there really would have made a difference), blah, blah, blah. ha ha. I mean, it's totally safe here and I even run at night - but poop like this happens often (I am learning).

I made this change with a goal of gaining experience in all aspects of life, and gaining experience is what I am doing. I have met many, many wonderful people who have been overwhelmingly welcoming from the start. However, I am finding that God is testing my patience once again...as an important lesson I am learning at the moment is really good, solid friendships take time. The last time I was in a situation like this, where I was truly uncomfortable/everything was new was back in first year of college. Phew...that was nearly 6 years ago. Crazy. So, it's all new and different and I am learning how to cope and move forward.

I just opened a book that my bro gave me for Christmas, entitled, "Pink Tanks and Velvet Hangovers: An American in Prague." And, it totally resonates with me and rocks madly. I've only just started to read it (I was holding off as I searched for Twilight, "New Moon", but was unsuccessful so I decided I might as well dive into one I had already, even though it would surely be missing some very important vampire characters. ha. tangent.), but I already love it. The premise of the book is that this American guy falls in love with a Czech gal and decided to move to Czechoslovakia less than six months after the fall of Communism.

Lost in thought, saturated with feelings of uncertainty as his taxi enters the city for the first time, Douglas Lytle opens his eyes wider as the castle comes into view. As he writes (in regards to his first interaction with Hradcany), "From that moment on, regardless of how depressed I ever became, however homesick or how bad a day I might have had, a stroll along the Vltava with its view of the mighty Castle never failed to lift my spirits." It is so very true. Now all I have to do is escape to the bridge every once in a while...feel the essence of Prague envelop me.

I have learned that I need to put everything into perspective. It is very difficult to be away from home, family, loved ones...all things familiar - but, at the same time, it is so very exciting and to be in a new place (even with that extremely sick feeling in my stomach and the end of the honeymoon period and beginning of the "oh crap, I'm REALLY going to be here for 2 years" reality stage). It's all good, though. I mean, it will be all good, with time.

Czech lessons started the other day. A few words to sum it all up - "I have no idea what's going on." This language is freaky-hard, I'm telling ya. Ja jsem unavena holka. Which means, I am a tired girl. I think studying Czech makes me tired. I do know my trusty numbers, though. However, there are sounds my mouth cannot even begin to sound out. Number four, for instance, is the most heinous sound that has ever come out of my mouth...čytři - the "č" makes a "ch" sound and the "ř" makes a "rzssh" sound (rolled r with zssh sound). Which pretty much means, for an American, these sounds together do not roll of the tongue smoothly. I sound challenged. But, I am learning - 'slow and steady wins the race' is my czech lesson motto. Stay tuned for more czech adventures - I may even video myself speaking so you can hear how incredibly silly I sound:).

This morning I walked outside and the sun was shining. When the sun shines, this magical city sparkles...but it's been so grey lately - which I think has had an effect on my mood. At least in Minni when in the depths of winter we have sunny days, with cool crisp air...and the beauty of the snow sparkling from the sun's raise is captivating. But I am learning to embrace even the grey days...for another, equally magical side of the city shows its face. I guess when it is grey and the people are frowning (no one looks happy here in the winter...very few friendly interactions are exchanged with strangers), the city has a more mystical, mysterious feeling. But, at the same time, on these grey days I can't help thinking of the remnants left from the communist regime...which has given the city a skeptical-edge. I even heard the birds singing today - a beautiful harbinger of Spring!

So, this means warm and sunny weather is coming...it means that things will gradually get better and transition will become a thing of the past and my life here will seem more natural. It will take time and patience...something which I am still trying to learn. So, Spring will be my catalyst as I dive into the reality of living in and fully embracing life here.

But, unfortunately, it doesn't mean the poop will disappear. There will always be poop.

wishing you poop-free walks,



  1. Oh boy, this log entry brought back many old world memories of mine.

    Crowded European cities, filled with dog lovers and nobody cleaning up after their little and sometimes not so little friends. So, the poop in the grass fact definitely also applies to German, French and Italian cities. I've seen it too, I stepped in it too, sometimes without noticing it right away but minutes later, sitting in the car wondering where this foul smell is coming from. Good times.

    Winters are another thing over there as well. Particularly in the cities. 30% Pantone cool grey skies for months and a suicide rate that goes up exponentially. Hey, now we now why I'm GG the Grumpy German, at least during the winter months, ha ha.

  2. ha ha ha...I know, Stephan! Thanks, always, for your comments - it's wonderful to hear your perspective (and I really value it!). I am looking forward to non-30% pantone cool grey skies! Oh, GG! You make me laugh! Hope you're well and enjoying life in Minni.


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