27 January 2014

Six years later. By request.

The Kutna Hora Sequence - as an animated GIF.  We'll probably be the next big meme.

03 February 2007

Retrospect, Resumes, and the Rest of the Story...

I’m not sure if you knew this about me or not, but I’m an expert at hindsight. Retrospection and after-the-fact over-analysis are two of my most consistent character traits. This attribute is likely going to surface a few times during this potentially lengthy email, so take a deep-breath and perhaps a glass of wine. You’re in for a big one. I just thought I should warn you.

Our first example of hindsight relates to the very blog that you’re currently reading. After I posted stories and photos of the German and Czech adventure that was Kylepalooza ’07, I realized that I had neglected some crucial photos and stories. I’m ridiculous, I know. Just bear with me.

So lets start with the Ishtar Gate, one of the original entrances to the ancient city of Babylon. I don’t have a funny story to go with it, but I liked the picture a lot.

Kyle and I hit the Pergamon Museum just a few hours after Kyle’s bus pulled in, after which we shot over to the enormous Sony Center at Potsdamerplatz. For those unaware, the center, which holds a variety of restaurants, galleries and theatres, is recognizable from a far due to a huge glass and steel canopy that is meant to look like Mt. Fuji. So anyway, as we’re strolling through, we couldn’t help but notice a huge crowd of people, multiple projection screens, and more lights than the Superbowl. Of course, we felt it necessary to join the crowd. No sooner had we found ourselves a place near the front of the crowd, than a caravan of SUVs pulls up, and out steps Will Smith, wife Jada Pinkett, and son, whats-his-name. Apparently, we had stumbled onto the German premier of “The Pursuit of Happyness.” The funny thing is, most of the people in the crowd didn’t speak any English, so Will was greeted by shouts of “Veeel! Veeel! Hallo Veel!” Over and over and over. So of course, Kyle and I found it necessary to exercise our English fluency and shout “Love from Ohio, Will!” Don’t ask. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Well, anyway, Will turned to us and shouted “Yeah, Ohio!” That’s all there is to the story, really. But we think it’s a good one. It wasn’t until we were walking away that I realized I had miraculously captured the moment on film. So here’s a photo of Will “The Fresh Freakin’ Prince” Smith shouting “Yeah, Ohio!”

I already told you most of the Prague stories post-Berlin as they involved Kyle, but I might as well throw another picture in there. Pictured: Kyle, Mike, and Chuck (the Charles Bridge). This picture took forever to take, so I felt including it was necessary.

When last I posted, I didn’t have pictures of the Lednovy Underground Music Festical quite yet. So here is one of the decent ones sent to me since then. Pictured: Petr, Me, Boris, Kevin, and Michal. Kevin was being fuzzy when the photo was taken.

Retrospect also brought me to the conclusion that I hadn’t given due attention to the kind gentlemen who allowed me to crash in their flat for nearly a month. You’ve met Zach before… he was my roomie, traveling companion, and fellow beer critic last year. You’ve likely not yet met Andrew Straight. He has recently graduated from university with a degree in Music, recently proposed to a lovely young lady named Elanor, and recently recovered from a lengthy battle with Salmonella. It was pretty bad. Finally, we have Benji, a moody Beagle-ish dog who spends his time sleeping, drooling, humping and stealing and hiding shoes. We like him. Pictured: Zach, Andrew, and Benji.

Most of the last two weeks of my trip (post-Kyle) was spent with friends, former-students and the aforementioned moody Beagle. I spent more time in pubs than I care to admit, easily consumed more than 10 gallons of Masala tea at Kralupy’s teahouse. Like my last grand departure from Kralupy, I found that I hadn’t quite seen all the people I hoped to. So I sent out a blanket text message to the masses announcing that I would be at one specific pub at 7pm the night before my flight (Sunday), should anyone want to have one last beer with me before I go. 20 people showed up. On a Sunday night. In a wind storm. I’m not sure that I have that many friends in the states who would do the same. I’m going to miss them a lot. So here are pictures of them:

Also before I left, the friends who accompanied me to Siberia last summer gathered once again for an evening of stories, pictures and music. In addition to the original six, a handful of other friends joined in the festivities. It was a really great night. You may recall a photo from the Siberia blog in which Ondra, Martin and myself were displaying our Baltika beer proudly in front of the Trans-Siberian railroad line. Well we attempted to re-enact the photo, sans railroad, with Staropramen beer instead. I'm proud to have captured Ondra's halo on film as well. Pictured: The six Siberian travellers; St. Ondra, me and Martin.

I departed the Czech Republic on Monday morning. My dear friends, Zuzka and Katka drove me to Prague airport and sat with me while I waited for my flight. But it wasn't really goodbye, as they'll both be coming to visit me in the states this summer. Pictured: Me, Katka and Zuzka.

I mentioned to a friend yesterday that, while the trip was certainly full of people that I love dearly, it was also good for my soul and outlook on life in ways I hadn’t anticipated. I guess returning to a place that changed me so significantly over the course of two years, and finding that there are still people there who genuinely want me around and remember all the stories that I often think about… (again, hindsight playing an integral role in my well-being)… well it was just really good. But I also find myself a bit more optimistic about whats next. I cant really explain why, but returning to Kralupy brought a lot of closure for me. Apparently there wasn’t quite enough closure to keep me from applying for jobs in Prague before I left, but alas, the fish just weren’t biting. So now I’m back in the states.

I’ve been back in North Ridgeville, OH less than 100 hours, and already I’m feeling stir-crazy. I’ve never wanted to work… or at least to be productive… so badly in my life. I’ve been sending resumes to companies like its going out of style… and have unfortunately received very little feedback. If I don’t find something in the next week or two, I may very well just move to Chicago and work as a waiter for a bit longer. Its not such a bad deal, and it would certainly help the fact that I don’t really know many people in Chicago. But I’m pretty ambivalent about Cleveland and all that comes with living here. So why not throw caution to the wind once more while I can? Right? (This is where I need you to insert affirmation… or a job offer.)

Unlike my last post, I can’t promise that I’ll keep you updated in the near future. If I move I will certainly post an update, but my blogging motivation stateside is waning. The best way to reach me is email, and I would love to hear from you. I hope this note finds you well, my friends. Thanks for reading all of this.

Two quick notes before I go.

• As I type this, my counter is at 9,998 vistors. That means that the second person to view this new post will be the big #10,000. Congratulations, whoever you are. Shoot me a note and I’ll give you due recognition.

• If you’re the iTunes-perusing type, download “Long Time Traveller” by the Wailin’ Jennys. I submit it as one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

18 January 2007

Czech, Germany, and the Big 10k

Its been a while, friends. Once again, I find myself at a loss for good reasons that I haven't blogged in the last few months. My last excuse was a combination of withdrawl and denial. This time I can only plead laziness. Turkey season, the twelve days of Christmas and the turn of the year all came and went in a whirlwind. Most of my whirlwind experience was spent at Swingos Grand Tavern. I sold filet mignon and bathtub-sized banana splits like a maniac. Alas, those days are over now. January 2nd was my last day. Two days later, I was on a plane back to Europe. Pictured: The last night at Swingos. From the left: Christine, Bonnie, Andrea, Mike, Sean, Patrick.

The plan all along (though I occassionally second-guessed it) was to find gainful, interesting employment in Cleveland for the remainder of 2006 and to return to Kralupy for a student ball, a music festival, and one of the most beautiful places in the world sans tourists. And so it was. I did my best to hit the ground running and in the first three days managed to attend a wedding, a student ball, and more than a few pubs with friends I'd been missing terribly. In a lot of ways it feels like I never left. I'm sipping the same brew, laughing at the same stories, and dancing traditional Czech dances with people who call me "Miku" because they don't realize that English grammar doesn't change names like theirs does. My Czech came flooding back as soon as I stepped off the plane, and that alone had me smiling for a good couple of hours. It feels really good to be back here. Pictured: Prague

3 1/2 days after arriving in Prague, I found myself stepping off of a bus in Berlin, Germany. The following morning I met my long-time friend, brother, and partner-in-crime, Kyle, who had flown in from Scotland. Having thoroughly (which is a really hard word for Czechs to say) enjoyed the city last year, it only seemed right that I take Kyle on a grand tour. My pictures are a bit limited, because in all honesty, I have more than plenty of pictures of the same places from last year... just hit my archived post from February (or March?) 2006. So the two of us toured, sipped german hefeweisen and gluhwein, and made fools of ourselves on more than one occasion. All elements of a quality German sojourn, I think. We also met a two young ladies from Peru and Denmark, with whom we toured and gorged ourselves on schnitzel. Pictured: Brandenburg Gate; Kyle and I at the Pergamon Altar; Kyle, Adriana, Sedsil, and me at a little German pub.

After a few days in Germany, Kyle and I bussed back down to Prague. As mentioned previously, part of my choosing to return now was for the Lednovy Underground Music, in which I have taken part the last two years. This year was by far the best. My great friend Kevin, who lives in the town of Ostrava, took a 5 hour train into Prague just to play drums with us for 20 minutes. What a great guy. There are quite a few other pictures of Kevin elsewhere in this blog. So it was Kevin, myself, Boris (also pictured frequently) on saxophone, Petr on guitar, and Michal on bass. The crowd included so many of my old students who have been requesting the same songs for the last two years. It was so fun... though exhausting. I hope to have pictures of that soon. The next couple of days were spent touring the lovely city of Prague... let's be honest, I give a pretty incredible tour. You should probably hire me. The Prague leg of our world tour involved quite a few late nights, most of which can be blamed on English teachers at Gymnazium nad Aleji. I'm confident they'll disagree, but don't listen. Pictured: Kyle and I above the Charles Bridge; Amy, Kassidee, Ben, Kyle and myself at a random pub.

So Kyle hopped on a plane back to the states (with a layover in Istanbul??) on Tuesday night, and since then I have been relaxing and meeting with friends and students. I even had a chance to help Zach teach one of my old classes. I plan to continue with much of the same until my departure on January 29th.

As for whats next, I'm not ready to think about it too seriously. For better or worse. I'll likely post a more sentimental/introspective/panicked perspective of whats to come in a later blog.

As for the 10k mentioned in the title, scroll down to the bottom of the page real quick. You just may be the 10,000th visitor. Congratulations. As for the honor of being your e-distraction of choice, I'd like to thank the academy, my parents, my friends, and of course Time Magazine for choosing me as the 2006 Person of the Year. Maybe I'll put that on my resume.

Thanks for reading. I'll post again soon.

18 October 2006

Autumn in Ohio

Its been two months since my last update.  To be honest, it wasn’t completely unintentional.  Re-adjusting to a country and culture so different than those of my last two years, combined with a little voice in my head that often whispers “You have no idea what you’re doing next”… didn’t lend itself to a desire for public disclosure and scrutiny.  Sorry for that.  I just wasn’t ready to update.

However, in the last week and a half I’ve made a handful of decisions.  How long said decisions will last is a whole different issue, but as my friend Kyle and I determined this week: we’re confident in where we think we’re headed.  Whatever that means.  But I’m ahead of myself.  Lets back up a bit.

I returned to North Ridgeville, Ohio on August 8th.  You may or may not recall that two weeks before my initial departure for the Czech Republic, my parents moved to a new house in a new town.  My enthusiasm about returning to a fairly unfamiliar town with very few remaining/single friends was waning. I spent the first couple of weeks sitting around and reading books.  I took a short trip to Chicago to play music at the wedding of Greg and Liz Masching (that wasn’t her last name before the wedding).  Post-wedding is when the anxiety started to set in.  So I started sending resumes.  Unfortunately the job application process isn’t nearly as speedy as I had hoped it might be, and financial need led me to get a job as a server at Swingos Grand Tavern, a swanky new restaurant not far from my parents’ place.  I’m learning tons about top-shelf wine and single-malt scotch, which has been really fun.  It’s a great job with great co-workers, but the restaurant business is not my career of choice.  In the meantime, resumes were processed, interviews were done, and though a few opportunities rose to the top I have yet to find a job that I’m genuinely excited about.  So I’m still looking.

As you might expect, this time of reflection, analysis and self-marketing has led me to consider on my options and interests a fair bit.  So the aforementioned decisions I’ve recently made are as follows…  For the next month and a half I’ll be preparing to take the LSAT.  No gasps please.  This doesn’t mean I’ve decided to attend law school.  It simply means that I’m going to take the test, see how I do, and make my decision accordingly.  I’ll continue to wait tables until New Years-ish.  The arrival of 2007 will mark my return to Europe for a short visit.  I’ll be spending as much time as possible with my friends in Kralupy and Prague during that time, and possibly taking a side trip or two to visit folks elsewhere.  When I return home, I plan on staying only long enough to establish residency elsewhere.  I’m thinking about Chicago.  From what I hear, finding work in another city is far easier if you live there.  So I think I’ll go.  I mean, why not.

In other news, Mr. Jason Chamlee, my former roommate, traveling companion, and European partner-in-crime is now married to the former Miss Susana Torres.  They were married on October 7 at Kumler Chapel in Oxford, Ohio.  I was a groomsman and musician for the ceremony.  It was an amazing weekend spent with old friends and Sgt. Joshua Florio, home for three weeks on leave from Afghanistan.  He’ll be heading back over on Thursday (tomorrow) and I’m sure he’d love to find a care package or two waiting for him when he gets there, so shoot me a note if you want his address.  Pictures of the wedding are posted below.

I hope that as you read this, you are doing well.  I’d love to hear from you sometime.  My email is HarveyME@gmail.com.  

It took far longer to take this photo than it should have,

Chams, Fleaux and I.

The wedding party. We're just a bunch of good-looking people. Let's be honest.

Wedding rehearsal.

Culture Shock. Because of lawsuits over the name Budweiser, the original Budvar cannot be marketed under that name in the states... but Czechvar? Thats just ridiculous. Oh, and it doesn't even taste good. I'm despondant.

I applied for a Key Visa card to get a free iPod Nano. I received this letter in response. I laughed for days. Keep in mind I've been earning Czech Koruna for the last two years.