Saturday, June 30, 2007

So the Creativity Class...

I have waited a full 4 days before opening these flood gates knowing full well that I can be a little cynical about my worldview at times, but after several different conversations it appears that I am not insane and it is in fact a bit of a frustration that is shared across the board.

The course begins with a thin skeletal looking woman draped in over sized linen clothing, to me immediately screaming insecurity and eating disorder. She speaks to us in a soft condescending voice and asks us to take our towels and lay on the ground for the opening relaxation exercise. With the same intonation she begins the narration, "Feel your toes. Feel the stress in your toes. Tighten up your toes...tight... (it is usually around here that my head explodes or sometimes my foot cramps up, either way, not good.) tight...tight...with a big breath release. Woof. Feel the stress in your buttox..." After feeling the stress and tightening up every possible appendage her voice leads us into a visualization, sometimes we are walking on water and then drowning (I always worry at this point because I feel that the stress of drowning will lead back to the relaxation thing and that it will be a vicious cycle of anxiety.) Sometimes we have bodies filled with eyes and we can see things and THEN, we walk on water (which also stressed me out because I would continuously have water in my eyes but couldn't swipe it away fast enough because there are too many of them and once again I feel tight...tight...tight."

This exercise usually leads to drawing what you see or writing about it which they (ah yes there is a partner to the over dramatic waif playwright, the ambiguous Argentinian painter with the sensitive ponytail look also wearing free flowing linen clothing) allow you to do for about a split second and then move on to the next thing which usually is an attempt to tap into your childhood traumas so conversations with your Grandmother, letters from your father when you were 16, you know that sort of thing. Forced intimacy with a group of people from all over the world that you don't really know but, the worst part of this is that the leaders never facilitated introductions on the first day, so we are expected to share our innermost thoughts with people that don't even have names.

There may be a revolution in class today, but more on this whole thing later.

Sensitive ponytail guy will drop names such as Jung, Miro, Melville and his associations, as hers as well, are surface level and provide no sense of connectivity to anything, whether it is the understanding of the exercise philosophically or pedagogically.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Mozart is Resurrected!

At some point I will share a bit about my art class (which I am trying to maintain an open mind) and about the characters that are sharing it with me. For now, because of time constraints, I will simply recount my evening. We attended a classical string concert at St. Martin's in the Wall (this is the actual name of the church.) it was built in the 12th century but for a Catholic worship space during that time it was humble and appears as if Zwingli had come in as the interior designer. (For those who have no idea who that guy is all you really need to know is that he like things super simple. The other thing is you must know is that I am a nerd.) The music was superb, even for the novice Classical music connoisseur. Who doesn't like Vivaldi's Four Season or Schubert's Ave Maria?

We then dined at a local microbrewery. Though, the intention was to sample the lot of odd brews it was prime dinner time and the waitress shared with us that they had no more sampling sets available. Though we managed to spread the joy a bit a mixed, a pale ale and ordered by me a wheat. all very good. You can purchase the beers to take home, plus an assortment of mugs, pilsner glasses, beer jam as souvenirs. I have the hope of return to figure out what the hell Banana or Coffee beer may taste like.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Architecture in Prague.

The interesting thing about this city is that you can be walking down any random street and see very traditional buildings that to be honest look like every other old European city but suddenly out of no where there will be something that is spectacular. On the left is a very modern building called "Fred and Ginger" because it looks like a dancing couple. Pretty freaking cool particularly when you look towards your right and see the series of bridges that cross the river. One being the Charles Bridge, which I am standing on here, which dates back to the 14th century.

Prague has a weight to it. It is afterall the home of Kafka and Kundera who are not known for their chick-lit but it is clear that the suffering that has been done on this land is such a deep part of the identity that is manifested in the city itself. Its beauty is almost tainted by it. Until the sunsets and a softness crashes onto to the city. The buildings seem a little kinder. The need for restoration fades; the marks that have been acquired in battle are no longer noticeable and heart of what Prague really is resurrected.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Prague Day 1


I have taken a few pictures and as soon as I figure out my laptop wi-fi connection I will add them to these pages until then I will continue to sit in a tiny laundry room at the Hostel use the Internet. It is quite cozy really and it provides an opportunity to chat with the British blokes that are on vaca. It is the thing to do when at the University there to take off in Europe for a bit (or at least I am told.)

The early morning dew awoke me from my slumber this morning at 7AM, so I as gently as possible slid off the top bunk and FINALLY took a shower. I should have showered twice just to be sure I was clean, but anywho. I enjoyed a nice continental breakfast with an assortment of fresh breads and spreads in the garden area that is the center hub of the hostel. I checked out of the dorm style room and moved into the more intimate apartment style rooms that the Art class set us up in. The dorm room cost less then having to purchase a plug adapter today, crazy. I set off to explore the city and after a slight turn down a major road I was stopped in my tracks by a gorgeous building, the National Museum.

There is little I dig more than a cool museum so I made a b-line for it. The architecture as you may image is outstanding the exhibits inside made me think of my favorite Egyptologist; lots of excavated this and thats, 7 rooms filled with just minerals (Why do we need this? I don't know.) The best part was by far the anthropological exhibit. Then I jaunted down a major road with no actual plan at hand until it started to rain. Ah, weather...it's cold here. Glad I packed a sweater and jeans. Of course cold being 70 degrees, which I will surely be craving once I am in the suffocating climates of landlocked Spain. Where was I? Right...rain.

It started to rain so I popped into a pub. I don't speak a lick of Czech but I had already learned the word for thank you and beer. So I ordered a peevo, sat at the bar and read The Fountainhead. After a bit I ate some Goulash which was super tasty and told the barkeep, De-q for his hospitality. I returned to my room for a nap and few hours later colleagues arrived. We headed to share a meal together.

Finally Prague!

Well I have finally arrived in the Czech Republic. After an eternity in Frankfurt which I had originally planned to check out but between exhaustion and pouring rain just napped in the airport. As you may imagine, the Germans are very orderly and the airport is equally as so, but it serves as a fine stop. The flight to Prague mind you was anything put fine. It was my 4th flight within 48 hour period, it was the shortest flight but I wished I had learned the rosary because I was about to piss myself. The flight was only 45 minutes long so we couldn't, according to the pilot, go over the storms that were crashing over us...really all around us. It was a consistent drop every other second of at least 10 feet.

Luckily, the folks sitting next to be were a couple. She is Czech and he is American. The live half the year in Prague and the other half in West Palm Beach. Floridians unite in near death experience on that German craft. These folks befriended me to the point that they road with me to my hostel and refused to allow me to pay the meter. They had taken the one thing that I was the most anxious about arriving to a foreign country at midnight and made it into a generous and overwhelming moment.

The Hostel is near the Uni and this is the first time I have been in a dorm room style. Most folks were asleep when I arrived to crawl into the top bunk, in the second room of this tiny garden building that sleeps like 15. Good thing I was a camp counselor because I have no idea the last time I was in a pace like that. Everyone was friendly and crashed, stinky and all.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Madrid

My heart lives in Madrid sadly not so much in the airport, which is where I am residing at the moment. All flights were good so far just two more planes and I will hopefully be in Prague in one piece and ready to sleep. It is 5 AM stateside and I haven't gotten a wink yet.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I'm Off!

Tomorrow I leave for the summer. My first stop is the glorious JFK and then off to Madrid. Eventually, I will make it to Prague by Monday night. Stay tuned for updates.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Appalling!

I have thought long and hard about this particular entry due to the nature of the photograph above. Certainly there is no desire to perpetuate such a racist and disgusting perspective. Nevertheless, the impact was necessary to convey my total and utter disbelief when I arrived at our habitual watering hole and I slid into my parking space just to see this written on the vehicle to my left.

There are many things that I could say and likely even many more moral high grounds that I could take instead I would rather state that the current state of global affairs in which this country is taking part in has caused a misappropriation of funds, poor straTEgy that has led to many unneeded deaths, and a series of untruths regarding our Muslim brethren.

Fucking appalling.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Ol' Stomping Grounds

Hooks

Asian food and sushi restaurant, Hooks, located on 9th Street has Wednesday $1 sushi night. BKay and I decided to check it out. We ordered ginger side salads and edimame to start. The $1 sushi only applied to the plain old raw kind which we didn't really know when we ordered a couple of shrimp and conch style pieces. We threw in a couple of other favorite rolls and put together a tasty and relatively inexpensive meal. The wait was a little long but it was a super deal night, so it was certainly tolerable.


The Martini Bar


BKay and I casually went the movies on Saturday and as we were leaving the BayWalk area we decided to stop by and wish a friend Happy Birthday. She was suppose to be at the Martini Bar. By name alone the assumption would be snooty little place with soft jazz playing and a colorful menu filled with things new words like Berrytini or Mmmtini. It turns out the Martini Bar was none of that. It was a full on dance club with young hoodlums clustered all over and that music that they call booty music blaring.

As we stood in the middle of this establishment, we looked at each other, not knowing exactly how we found ourselves there in that moment and our friend was no where to be found. The only way to survive is the secret code word of : Long Island Ice Tea. So we quickly slammed one and ordered another and headed to the dance floor.

It was so much fun to dance. Dance and not give a shit about trying to hook up or trying to maintain...just full on dancing! My hair was dripping with sweat which is only really hot in other circumstances but it didn't matter. BKay danced like a rock star and managed to score a shake or two from the super hot air force captain. The music got better as the evening turned in to early morning and the drinks grew from 2 to 4.

Series of nonsequiturs

  • A few days ago I read in the obituaries that a 31 year old guy named Jason Prenn had died. He apparently went to my high school and I guiltily had no memory of him at all. I grabbed my yearbook to search and much to my surprise and partial relief he wasn't in my graduating class. So I looked at the juniors and he didn't appear there either. So I grabbed the year before and he wasn't there. I looked through every index and no one by that name existed at Lakewood from 1990-1994. Who was Jason Prenn?
  • Looking through yearbooks only does two things (at least for me), it makes me realize that I am so happy that adolescence is way over and that every awkward moment filled with irrational emotions is in the past (at least for the most part). The second is that, we, in the early 90's, still had really really bad hair; grunge didn't help.
  • My high school English teacher inscribed to me "Keep writing!" Maybe it's because she believed I needed the practice or very well may have been the standard English teacher thing to write, considering this lot base their entire profession on reading things that people have written its probably pretty important to encourage people to keep writing. But I suppose I took it to heart because I have somehow managed to write this blog today with that in mind, so major props to Ms. Palmer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bike Butt

Summer inspiration set in yesterday. I filled a small backpack with water, a book, my camera and my trusty phone then hopped on Tracy's bike and headed downtown. The ride there was nice, leisurely. It is always cool to notice the things that I forgotten about Central Ave, tons of galleries, thrift stores, coffee shops and pubs.

Once I rode all the way down to the water, I found a shady bench with a gorgeous view of the Yacht club pier. I read my book for awhile. Enjoyed people watching.

I jumped back on the bike but the ride home was not as lovely. The heat was brutal. My ass started to ache. The seat was up my butt so badly. I tried to ride as fast as I could home because the throbbing was getting worse. The heat intensified and I thought I was going to fall out somewhere.

I did make it home. I fell on the couch. My rear isn't so pleased since I can swear that I have a bruise about the size of a bike seat on my seat.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Ft. Myers Fun

I am an only child. Most of my extended family is extended all over the place and since the Cuban diaspora I didn't grow up with all my cousins in my daily life. What I have always had was friends; good friends; lifetime friends. This weekend I went to Ft. Myers with my roommate to not only visit her folks but also Bri-guy, one of my oldest and dearest friends.

Bri-guy married one of the greatest people on the planet and that luckily came with the greatest families ever. We started off with a cook out. Bri made homemade hummus, green salsa and spicy chicken. It was a treat to eat his cooking because it is damn good. We sat and ate and talked and chilled. It had been a long time since we were able to really do that.


Evening set in and the many beers led us to hit the town. Meredith, our guide, took us to Nick and Stella's and Valerie's. We drank. We listened to local music. We played pool. Adam bought us flowers, then left with the flower girl.

The entire day and night was so much fun. It was so great to spend time with all of them.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Envy me!

The summer is a lovely time where teachers everywhere have a licence to sleep late, watch lots of television and read things beyond crappy sophomore papers. This can be wonderful for the first 48 hours or so then the inevitable guilt of time suckage kicks in and one is charged with ways to make the days more fulfilling. With various lunches planned with friends that have real jobs and gym workouts that needless to say often get skipped, I decided it was time to have a massage.

I scheduled an appointment for midday at Massage Envy, new chain of masseurs in the Bay Area. The first full hour Swedish massage is only $39 which is great. The idea is that you fall so in love with the place that you become a member and pay $49 a month which gets you a monthly massage and as many additional ones that you would like for the original low price. It is actually not a bad deal.

After arriving at my appointment and filling out paperwork explaining that I have no strange ailments that will impair my luxurious experience, Robin an older woman from Levittown New York escorts me to the private dim lighted room where she asks me to strip down and slip under a warm sheet. When she returns from her momentary disappearance she asks me if I would like my face and scalped down. I figured what the hell.

The soothing music and firm touch of Robin were great until she got to my legs. The idea is that I am to lay there like a rag doll and allow her to manipulate my body as needed. In the middle of her moving my legs around she stops and says "Are you a control freak?" Coming out of my relaxing trance replied, "Not really." You seem to be having trouble letting your legs go." I of course think to myself the array of witty comments that many of my friends would snicker in this moment but with little explanation to provide to her inquisitive mind, I say, "I am not meaning to." Now, Robin is the one that snickers and without missing a beat she says, "Ah a passive aggressive one, well try your best to make like Raggedy Ann then, and I will work around it."

Friday, June 1, 2007

Ol' Stomping Grounds

Since summer has started, sort of, I have gotten the chance to go out a lot and rediscovered the glorious city in which I reside. Therefore, I have decided to start a reoccurring segment called "Ol' Stomping Grounds" that will cover local cuisine, cool pubs and anything else that comes to mind. Today, I have a handful and perhaps I am being over zealous with looking at 3 great places.


Chattaway

The last time I remember being there was with my grandfather when I was about 12 years old. In the last couple of weeks, I have been there twice. I still can't believe that it took me so long to return. Hands down the best burger in the 'Burg. It's cheap and a within the last decade has been designated a historical monument. Located in south St. Pete on a shabby little corner, this family owned place is an outdoor eatery that is lined with pink bath tubs filled with great greenery that creates intimacy along with the funky umbrellas to eliminate the blazing sun. There is usually a hippie guy on a guitar playing some folk music. It has incredible sweet tea and cheap grub.


Bella Brava

Mojito! Mojito! Mojito! Tasty and Expensive. One of these fantastic drinks will cost you 10 bucks, if you are willing to drop the cash you will not be disappointed. Bella's also has good fancy food, but if you are looking to balance your tab I recommend the Pear Spinanch Salad or the Hummus, both delicious. The lighting at this restaurant is always dim for that romantic atmosphere. There is outdoor seatting which I always prefer because it is a little less "Let's Shag" feel. The only negative thing is pricing, so if you want a long evening out it will put a nice hole in your pocket, but if you want to give it a shot, the drink specials everyday between 4-7 are worth it.


The Taste of Wine
Who knew? This place is located in the prime of downtown, above some of the most frequented establishments. Matter of fact, this was the first time I had every been, but loved it. New Orleans like style with a rod iron adorned balcony and tiny little tables with ridiculously heavy but comfortable chairs. It seemed like you could sit there forever. The array of fancy beers and luscious wines is substantial. You can also pick up a nice bottle of wine here.