Archives for the month of: May, 2010

so i’m moving and moving means tossing.  so i’m going through drawers, boxes, bags and tossing stuff.  it’s very therapeutic and emotional.  each time i toss something, a swirl of thoughts feelings and emotions goes through me as i think of when i received it, why, who was around, etc.  fascinating.  i’ve heard that the amount of stuff you have is a metaphor for other more intangible parts of your life.

i ran across a box in the corner of the hall closet that i’ve been ignoring.  it is full of PICC line supplies: IV lines, bandages, dressing changes, bandage covers, shower covers, heparin flushes, saline flushes, alcohol pads, etc.  it also had several bottles of prescription antibiotics: cedfinir, minocycline, doxycycline.  man.

so my roomate is a nurse.  she moved in after all this drama had passed and she saw the stuff and said i need to toss it.  some of the prescriptions are expired.  she saw me staring at the box, lip quivering and got out a new trash bag and held it with a big smile as i threw the bottles, squares, cylinders in.  man.  i then cried a little sob and she gave me a hug and left to finish packing her room.

i’ve been at my job for a bit over a year now.  most of the people i work with i’ve seen every day since i started and we’re really becoming friends.  i spend more time with them than anyone else.  crazy to think about it like that.  anyway, i’ve learned some rules about corporate culture and polite conversation.  one of them is to never talk about your health issues.  it’s tacky, invasive and if you have a chronic illness makes everybody look at you weird.  of course, my health stuff has defined me for the last 2 years so sometimes i slip in stuff like, “yeah, virginia hospital center is really beautiful–i had my gall bladder taken out there–it has great light fixtures!”  it’s tricky.  all my coworkers know i’m into alt health stuff because i grew up on a farm but my office mate knows i had some issues but i’ve never put it together.  this is what i’d like to say:

so, you all know that i’m pretty normal but i used to be hella sick.  for about 2 years i had weird creepy crawly electric sensations in both legs every day and sometimes in my arms (and sometimes my arms were numb).  i got diagnosed with MS, then with Lyme, then with Lyme-induced MS.  during these 2 years, i had my gall bladder removed during a 3 day stay in the hospital.   i’ve had 4 MRI’s of my brain & spinal cord and a spinal tap.  i used to inject myself weekly with medicine.  i used to take up to 50 supplements a day.   I was on an intense restrictive almost no-carb diet for 16 months.  i’ve had 6 main doctors and 6 other physical therapists/body work specialists.  i had a picc line put in my arm/heart and i did an IV of medication at home for 2 hours a night, 4 nights a week for 6 months.

but you can’t say any of that at work.  just as well.

so tonight when i cried, i grieved the death of sick amy, the one who went through all of this crap and felt all of these sensations.  i don’t really feel sick anymore and i don’t have these sensations.  it’s awesome.  i went trekking around Prague and have been exercising more intentionally and i don’t get the crazy buzzy feelings.  i’m grateful.

goodnight to all, and goodbye to sick girl.

PS know anybody who needs an IV pole?

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morning: slept in, chatted with t and steph over breakfast, got gorgeous, went out in the cold and rain to meet talitha’s mentor for lunch at an exotic restaurant specializing in tea, african, indian, and middle eastern dishes.  we sat at a corner table with our little pots of tea and chipped drinking bowls and piles of steaming savory food while a czech man laid on a bench in a far corner reading a paperback and smoking a hookah.  priceless.  t and i then did another cold wet hike up to a gorgeous church–vhesherad–only to find that it is closed on friday afternoons.  snap.  we were both upset, but talitha more so.  she knew the beauty inside and was upset that i couldn’t see it.  the thought of doing another cold rainy hike down the hill after not seeing the church made me want to cry.  talitha suggested some tea at a nearby cafe.  we went in, got the idea to order two hot chocolates and a shot of bailey’s to split between them.  ahh, perfect.  we had a good heart conversation and listened to the rain pitter patter as we enjoyed our delicious warming beverages.  after a few hours of relaxation, we decided to hike back to public trans.  we walked out the door and–and–
the church was open!  we thought maybe it was for mass and decided to attend, but when we walked in people were just milling around taking photos!  we had a lovely time looking at the ornate art deco painting, mucha’s depictions of the saints, the gold leaf, a few mosaics, some statues, an amazing altarpiece.  it was all really breathtaking.  talitha got some cool images, too.  yay!  yet another awesome unexpected gracious addition to an already great trip.  wee!
after the visherad miracle, we headed to touristland to get me some postcards and souveniers.  we bought everything and were heading back to the metro when i said, “talitha, i haven’t had any sausages while i’ve been here–is that okay?”  and without skipping a beat, talitha turned to a street vendor and said “one kielbasa, please!”  it was really yummy!  there was a giant pump vat of yellow mustard, but i was delighted to find it was not the normal american stuff but rather a flecked delicate brownish mustard.  yum.
from there, we headed home (we were operating on plan D for the day at this point, so many things had changed), looked at photos, talked, prayed, laughed, i packed.  then we headed out to the same sushi place which also serves pan-asian cuisine and got korean bi-bop.  it was awesome!  a hot cast-iron-looking bowl came out with white rice, meat, sea vegetables and a raw egg yoke in it and we stir fried all the food together into a yummy dish.  red bean paste was waiting in the wings to add flavor and bright red color.  awesome.  we had sake and agreed that we go out on good dates–and that our ethnic food experiences were diverse and awesome on this trip.
next stop: bar note, the location of talitha’s expat friend’s bachelorette/hen party.  we metroed there, cursing our heels in the mud when we got off, but eventually arrived and saw *the most handsome czech man ever*  (t’s title for him) and megan and a crew of talitha’s friends.  side note: there are lots of connections with t’s expat community to virginia and the fellows.  it’s really strange.  i met 2 people who know my dear friends in VA.  [regan, i’m following in your footsteps!]  we gathered with about 12 other girls and played never have i ever and drank good girly drinks and laughed and met some gay hipsters and the bachelorette danced on the table and we told stories and had a great time.  all of the girls went on to a club but i made t take me home.  first, though, we had a bueno kinder–awesome chocolate bar!  once home, we had toast, watched an episode of chuck and went to bed around 2.
and then, this morning i got up with the alarm at 5:20, packed the last-minute things, gave talitha a hug goodbye and took a taxi to the airport!
what an awesome trip.  i’m so grateful i could go.
it’s funny, every once in a while i’d realize exactly what was happening.  one of my best friends moved to the other side of the world and i paid some money and just showed up to spend a week with her.  and we spent the week catching up, eating a wonderful variety of ethnic food and drink and touring a gorgeous old city.  that’s crazy, right?
thanks for reading about my travel adventures!

gah!  the week is almost over!  crazy!

today was another lovely day.  i woke up late and talitha brought me lunch (after another stressful work meeting) which we ate quickly and then bolted out the door to go to the foreign police office.  it looked like the tysons dmv (which should strike terror into your hearts)–except it’s called the foreign police office.  anyway, we waited for less than an hour and talitha got her visa extension so she can return to the country after she leaves for a conference/holiday  next week.  woot!  from there, we went to volunteer at an afters chool program for czech roma kids (roma is an ethnic group that is derogatorily referred to as the “gypsies”).  it was just like any other after school program: a musty room painted with bright colors, snacktime, studying, games, a lesson, a little singing–and foosball.  talitha and i cleaned up and then got reprimanded–spinning is not allowed.  we then lost when we had to use our skills.  ahh well.  the afternoon was fun and talitha taught a really rough lesson in contour drawing with pencils.  drawing is hard!  they were all good sports about it, though.  the leader of the program, ana was beautiful and gracious.  it was good to be a part of the work.

talitha and i then headed back downtown for a little more shopping, this time at trendy H&M.  talitha got 2 dresses, a pair of earrings, some shades.  i got a headband 🙂  we then went to meet talitha’s roomate, steph at the monestary/brewery Klasterni Pivovar for some first rate beer and czech food.  yum.  makes me want to learn how to cook czech and to embrace my german heritage more.  talitha got pork schnitzel with chive potatoes, steph had beef stuffed with garlic, potato dumplings and this awesome sweet sourkraut and i had beef with cranberries, bread dumplings, and a ton of soppable delicious beef gravy.  woah.  and we had beer, too.

so now we’re back  and gonna watch chuck.  sweet!

oh, and i almost forgot the most important part of our day.  we met the most handsome german man ever.  he thought we both were czech (clearly i made the right shoe/hoodie decision) and asked where a nearby hostel was.  talitha went out of her way to call her friends who work at a chain of hostels and i was glad to keep chatting.  talitha and i both agreed that he was our type.  a written description will not do him justice.

well, yesterday i just chilled.  slept in, ate lunch instead of breakfast, read some tim keller on the terrace in the sun.  t was having a stressful work day so i worked with her roomate to clean the flat.  we rearranged some furniture, put out candles, vacuumed, cleaned, made a simple dinner and listened to talitha’s roomate’s mix from her sister in the US featuring top 40.  i was delighted to hear miley cyrus and owl city–no, really, delighted.  after talitha came back, we ate and then a few women came over for small group.  it was awesome!  we had tea lights and lovely ikea lanterns setting a soft tone and we read the second part of colossians 3 and talked about having a heart of compassion, putting on the new self, bearing with one another in love and being thankful.  i’d forgotten how much i love intergenerational women’s bible studies.  it was lovely.  and i really didn’t mind leaving the flat all day.  well, i left for a few mins to go and buy some groceries with talitha after 10, but then we came right back.  oh, i also worked on some cool graphics for talitha’s prayer emails.  watch for the upgrade 🙂

swagger wagon

trailer parody

enjoy!

Today was lovely.  I slept in, had a little brekkie and watched epsidode 2 of Chuck (season one).  I’m hooked.  It’s about time to get into another TV series since my interest in the Office has waned.  It was a perfect morning.  Talitha and I then headed out to her favorite sushi place for some yummy bento box goodness.

From there, we went to Saint Vitus Cathedral in Old Town Prague.  It was dark, gothic and brimming with amazing art.  stained glass, sculptures, paintings, altarpieces, chandeliers, mosaics.  it was awesome.  i was totally the clueless tourist but everything was beautiful.  all of the tours were in czech so i couldn’t eavesdrop and figure out what was going on.  apparently, it used to be closed off to the public, but victor havel changed all that when he was put into office.  now it is free.  yay!

we then wound around quaint-looking streets and i shot a ton of pictures of signs and fonts.  get ready for some awesom euses of garamond and some tragic cooper black.  a facebook album of type will be forthcoming.  get stoked.  it will be something like: “kerning my way through Prague: czech it out” or something equally as cheesy.

I told talitha i want to consume foods that i don’t love back home but that she loves: chocolate, beer, espresso.  she was delighted and took me to an illy cafe nearby where we both had espresso (“taste the delicious nutty flavor on the middle of your tongue” she said) and chocolate croissants.

we then walked across the Charles Bridge, got caught in a rainstorm and then decided to go euro clothes shopping.  talitha’s going to be in a skit that features tacky 80’c clothes.  an hour later, we emerged victorious with a hideous pink off-the shoulder t-shirt, some graffiti black & white leggings, a terrible plastic necklace.  amazing.  we then came home to a delicious jalfrezi curried chicken with basmati rice and green beans.  yum.  good day 🙂

so, today my blog is going to be a travel journal.

i woke up this morning at 11:30 feeling like i could take on the world.  11 hours of sleep can do that.  also, it’s evidence that i am finally getting over my head cold!  woot!  t didn’t sleep as long.  we had breakfast–delicious rolls baked with olives and hermelin (a czech version of brie) and some tea and an orange.  perfect.  I did a little work remotely and Talitha tried to shake her headache, then we were out on the town!

you may already know this, but Prague looks a lot like italy.  beautiful architectural details, painted buildings, winding cobblestone streets.  awesome.  we got a late lunch at a charming cafe then walked through the streets, toured the gardens near the castle, sampled some amazing gelato and went clothes shopping at H&M, Mango, Zara and this rad Greek boutique.  it was awesome.  for dinner, we’d planned on sushi but because it was closed we went to a czech restaurant that has middle eastern food and got an awesome dinner accompanied by pilsner urquell, of course.  yum.  now we’re just chillin.  it’s almost midnight but i think i’ll watch a little arrested development with my evening tea.  yay!

Frankfurt:

– the women’s restroom icon features a stick person in a tutu or miniskirt.  i snickered every time i saw her

– the exit sign features a stick figure RUNNING with an arrow towards a door.  it induces panic every time i see it.

– lots of helvetica and gill sans and some other fabulous sans serifs that i didn’t recognize.

Prague:

– the lightswitches are huge, like 3″ square.

– the server at last night’s restaurant told us the restaurant was full but that they had some non-smoking seating if we could stand it.

– there was a list of icons on the bus: no food, no smoking, no firearms and then no scottie dogs.  yes, the icon looked just like a scottie dog.  after i realized this and chuckled that i’ve never seen a scottie dog icon and i doubt people would bring one of those dogs on the bus anyway, a woman got on the bus with a scottie dog in her arms.

more to come.

also, i’m way sick.  you can pray for me to get well 🙂

I arrived on Saturday night and got dinner with Talitha and her friend Lauren at a little Italian place nearby (where they could only offer us a nonsmoking table!).  I was deliriously tired and quite sneezy but stayed up til midnight anyway.

On Sunday morning I slept in then took another nap mid-afternoon.  Talitha had to go to church early to prepare for a children’s ministry skit so I walked to church with her friends.  church was really nice, small, kinda presby.  the worship was simple and beautiful, the sermon was great.  i felt really sick so i wasn’t up for too much socializing, but after church we all went to the beergarten down the street for a pint and conversation where i met some cool kids and enjoyed my first czech beer.  after that we went home, the girls made a delicious italian vegetable and pasta dinner with caprese salad and we finished it all off with tea and ice cream.  a delicious first real day 🙂

i had quite the adventure getting here.  i was all ready to head out on thursday the 7th to prague via munich.  i got a ride to the airport, waited in wicked long lines, checked a bag, made it through security and called my friend to tell her i’d be there the next morning.  the line for the gate slowly moved and when i was just a few people away, i decided to pull out my boarding pass and passport.  but there was no passport.  i got flushed, i told talitha to pray, i ran out of the line to the guys at the counter.  no compassion, they said they’d pull my bag.  they said if i could find my passport, they would let me board but the gates would close in 4 minutes.  i started running.  running through “do not enter” signs, running on the moving walkways, jogging down the escalators.  i got back to the tram.  finally, a little compassion, the operators said they’d search all the trains.  they did, a few minutes later there was no passport.  i figured i’d missed the flight.  a wave of insight came over me and i remembered showing my boarding pass to a lady at an information desk to ask about my gate.  i bet i’d dropped it there.

i walked back to her desk, didn’t see her, but saw a blue passport sitting on top of her books.  i looked.  there was my college short black haired visage.  crazy.  i wrote her a note, snatched it up, called my mom and talitha to tell them the good news: i have my passport.

i thought, maybe my fight hasn’t left yet, maybe there was a delay.  so i jogged down the escalator, rode the tram, ran on the moving walkway, powered up the escalator and saw the departure board: my flight was flashing a red “boarding”–i kept running.  always eager to interpret my story, i figured this is an unexpected provision and a lesson to teach me to look after my things and not be on the cell phone.  lesson learned and now onto prague!  i arrived at the gate.  empty.  i saw some agents milling around at another counter.  breathless, i asked them to check on the flight.  the gate is closed.  go to United customer service.  C20.

so i went to C20.  stood in line 20 mins only to find out that since orbitz was who i got my ticket through, orbitz was the one to help.  i decided to call my friend to come and get me.  she was coming back to the airport anyway, so no biggie.  i got on the phone with orbitz.  the orbitz girl, myrna was really nice.  i was on hold with her while she was on hold with the other airline (Continental) who really owned my bicket.  in between elevator jazz, she explained that missing the flight was my fault and that i’d need to pay a $250 international change fee plus a 200 euro change fee plus the difference between the tickets.  i let this sink in.  i swallowed hard and asked what the difference in tickets would be.  she said over $1000, the toggled back to continental.  she explained that even if i wanted to pay this much, there was a problem with the computer and she couldn’t book the european part of the trip.  she advised me to talk to someone at continental: “the ticket counter has ultimate control–they can waive fees, change prices, do anything”  i met my friend and she told me i needed to cry and beg for mercy.  i called t and she said the same.  said she’d kill me if i didn’t come to prague.  said her sister was praying for me–praying that I would see God’s provision in a dramatic way.  i swallowed.  no one at the continental ticket counter–closed at 5pm.  for assistance, visit the baggage claim desk.

so i went back downstairs, tried to conjure up tears, failed and told my story to a stern-looking woman who told me “don’t lose your passport!”  i know, i said–then i started legitimately crying.  she was really my only hope for getting a flight and she was unconcerned.  she got a little irritated and then let me into the family drama: continental and united merged that week and she didn’t like how united treated its people.  she called a supervisor at united and reprimanded her for passing off a customer to another airline: “we don’t send our customers to you to deal with–why didn’t you help her?  this is your responsiblity and now she’s down here, crying–why don’t you step up and take care of your people?”  she hung up in a huff and said, well, you’re going to have to pay for this.  a new ticket tomorrow to prague is 2500–that’s what happens when you miss your flight.  i didin’t say anything.  then she said, “there’s a flight for $1717 that i could get you on.”  i said, i’m going to visit my best friend and i’m bringing her things and i’ve saved for this trip for months.  i paid $1000 for my ticket.  she didn’t look up and said “maybe i can subtract the price of your original ticket, 998 from this price and you will pay that.  i perked up.  okay, $700 to visit Talitha still.  maybe that was okay.  i’d just put off my new laptop for a few more months.  that’s an expensive passport drop, but it’s better this than nothing.  i didn’t tell her this, i just stood there.

she called a friend at a ticket counter somewhere, explained the situation and then typed and typed and typed, just clicking away.  she hung up the phone after saying, “God bless you, Tom” and then she smiled triumphantly.  she asked for my baggage claim and said i’d need to collect my bag since united can’t be trusted.  i nodded.  then she printed a small piece of paper out of an old spool printer.

she said, “today’s your lucky day.  i have you on a flight tomorrow through frankfurt and i’m not going to charge you anything.  don’t be late!”
me: “anything?”
her: “no, nothing”
me: “wow.  thank you!”  (at this point i teared up again)
her: “no problem”

then she patted me on the back and smiled and told me again to get my bag and not be late.

i slowly walked out, got my bag and asked my friend to pick me up.  then i went home, watched “up in the air,” ate dinner and went to bed.

God provided for me in a dramatic way.  he’s like that–dramatic, concerned for his glory.  it used to really bother me.  why did the egyptians have to get so close before the red sea closed over them?  but yesterday, and today still, i’m not bothered by his glory or his sovereignty or his goodness.  he did not have to give me a free ticket to prague.  he did not have to show me mercy.  he did not have to allow me to find my passport.  though i’m not entitled, i was extended grace and i’m so grateful.  praise God with me.  He’s really good.

i want to be a career coach when i grow up.  oh wait, i am one now.  my company is currently hiring and i’ve helped several friends refine their resumes (add more numbers! cut out your industry-specific jargon! say it in less words!) and have helped others prep for interviews, write thank-you notes, and develop next steps in their job search.  it’s fun!  i’m good at it!  i want to learn more about this.  corporate america is its own culture and i have figured out how to get in and rise up one rank quickly.  this is good news for other friends who need to get in.  i am one step ahead.  send me your resumes, kids!