Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jeden rok!

As of today I've been here for a year. It seems like just yesterday that I stepped off the plane and onto the blank page. With time going by this fast I must be doing something right.

Sorry about the lack of updates the last couple of months, but my free time in November was spent on the National Solo Album Month challenge, in which I somewhat successfully wrote and recorded an album(-ish thing), and December was, well, you know, December.

Other than the album the only thing I can remember about November is that Marit and I attended a small vegan potluck at Andrea's place for Thanksgiving. It was a workday, so we didn't get started with the feasting until the sun had long been down, but that didn't stop us from pigging out and going into a food-induced coma. I'm not sure if I've fallen asleep so quickly since I was a toddler.

A couple days before Christmas my friend Clementine and I had our first "gig". It was just an unplugged set at a high-quality hole-in-the-wall cafe. It was mainly covers and not really the style that we're aiming for in the long run, but it made for a very nice evening.

I ended up spending my first Christmas away from home in about as wicked sweet a way as possible. I went with Clem and Lukaš (her boyfriend and our band's manager) to Lukaš' family's house in the small Czech village of Řetůvka, not so far from the Polish border. We ate, drank, sang, ate, drank, went to mass, sang, drank, ate, slept, ate, did the gift thing, ate, drank, and then ate. In addition to the delicious smorgasbord with an ever-rotating cast of dishes and sweets provided by Lukaš' dynamo of a mother, I cooked up some Audryburgers (Red Beans n Rice, NOLA-style) to test the Czech tolerance for actual spices, and Clem cooked up some French-style crepes. By the end of the trip I felt like a veal calf. Czech Christmas is very similar to American-style Christmas save a few exceptions:

1)the main celebration is on the 24th (though it definitely doesn't end there)

2)their equivalent of eggnog is stronger and tastier

3)there's more eating and drinking and

4)instead of having their presents delivered by an old bearded man who sneaks in through the chimney, Baby Jesus Himself delivers them (i think so that sins may be forgiven or something). I'm still not sure of which is creepier.

For New Years Eve, I went to a potluck with some friends and had my first authentic Swiss cheese fondue, which as it turns out is sort of like nachos con queso but better (unless we're talking about a really good spicy queso blanco a la Gordo's). After a filling meal, tequila shots, and pea shooter wars, we went to a H.R. Giger-esque club and danced our way to a (disappointingly English-language) countdown.

So I sort of have a 2-part New Years resolution.
1)Learn Czech well-enough so that people don't have to talk to me like I'm a 2-year old. My Christmas experience was comforting in that I realized just how much of the basics I've got down pretty strongly, but it also showed me just how much there is yet left to learn (not that I didn't know, but at least now I have a better idea of what to work on)
2) To make this the best year of my life. Not exactly sure of exactly how to make this work, but it involves some mix of music-making, celebration, learning, exercise, and hopefully travel.

I started to attempt my fulfillment of 2 just this past weekend. On Saturday, Marit returned from a two-week holiday stay back in Sweden. For Christmas, she had given me a pair of ice skates, which I was both very excited and very nervous about. I've never been able to rollerskate, skateboard, or really do anything that requires much balance, so I was expecting to walk away from the experience with a broken coccyx. We went to this free open-air rink in the middle of town. It was tiny and crowded and at first I almost had a panic attack trying to drag myself around the side of the rink, holding desperately onto the railing. But after about an hour of baby steps and saying "oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit" over and over again I pretty much got the hang of it without falling even once. My method of stopping is still of the "run straight into the wall" school but I'd say I'm on my way to fulfilling my dream of Curling championships.

This weekend we're going to attempt round two so I'll let you know if I catch the eye of any figure-skating talent scouts that I just know are lurking around the streets of Old Town looking for the next Kristie Yamaguchi.