New Flat

It’s late and we’ve got guests so I’d better get this blog written so everybody can get to bed.  It’s been a hell of a day, and the flat is in a bit of disarray, we’re going to have to move things just to lay down.  Helena’s Dad and cousin are here and they painted our flat, which is a huge improvement, and we bought a new (new to us) couch from the neighbor to replace ours, which I  thought was unnecessary but it had been  clawed up pretty good by the rabbit, we’ve had it for years, and the new one is considerably larger.  So, we took the old one to the recycling center, which took two trips because it wouldn’t all fit in  the car at once.
We’re sending Fifi off to the cottage for the summer, so the new couch will get a bit of a grace period, but we’re going to have to figure out some kind of rabbit proofing come September.
I guess that’s the deal.  You can have pets, or you can keep your furniture intact, but it’s hard to balance the two.  Such is life.
Anyway, I’m not going to worry about that now.  It’s high summer, the trees are as green as they ever get, the sun is hot, we’ve got guests arriving, a trip  to Croatia is planned, and within another week or two my class schedule will have dwindled to nothing.
From now until September, my plan is to enjoy every single moment.

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Winding Down for the Summer

It was time to begin the class but Natalie (they are all 10 or 11) had sat down at the piano and was playing Beethoven’s ‘Fur Elise, Emma was at the blackboard drawing, and David was practicing Parcour, leaping over tables.  On the one hand, I don’t get no respect, as Rodney Dangerfield always said, and that bothers me  a bit, but on  the other, it was such a perfect scene – three different students, three different personalities, three different modes of self-expression, that I let it be for a couple  of minutes before insisting on starting the class.  Annie (the smart one) was late.
After the class, I was talking with one of the moms, and we were wondering whether next week was my last week and I said I thought I had two more weeks before the summer break but, calculating it later on  the bus on the way home, I figure next week  actually will be my last week.
Summer is here.  We’re going to have guests next week, a partial family reunion, a full house of Americans  in Prague,  and I’m looking  forward to that.  In  about a month, we’re off to Croatia,  or somewhere along the Baltic coast, as long as we find a beach and can spend some time swimming in warm,  salty  water I  will  be happy.
This weekend, Helena’s Dad and cousin are here,  they have volunteered to paint the flat.  I was informed of this about a day ago, but it’s O.K.  I wasn’t doing  anything special  this weekend, anyway.

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When the Lesson Plan Goes Awry

The best laid plans of mice and  men aft gang agley, and so they should.  It’s only when we try to put them into place that we realize their flaws, it’s only when we put theory into practice that we disprove the theory.

I had a great new game planned to practice the ‘th’ sound in English, but in my first class today  I was trying to set that up through normal conversation, waiting  for one of my students to pronounce it badly, e.g. ‘de Lord of  de Rings’ but most of them, it turned out, were saying it perfectly correctly, which pleased me, they’re a good class, but it left me without  a lesson plan, so  I went ahead and played the game anyway, it was a time waster  and that’s all they  really  want out of my lessons so  they  were O.K. with  it.  In the next class, we just wound up talking about other things and then in my third class…well, I’ve got very little control over that  class, they’re a wild bunch but they’re bright, so it’s always interesting.  There is one who always wants to argue with me about the value of education, which is so much like what I  was like in High School  that it’s absurd but now it’s my job to try and force some knowledge into  his empty (he is 18.  Of course his head is  relatively empty) head, so that’s what I do: my job.
Then we spent some time talking about how the world was likely to end (overpopulation was a popular contender, but aliens did get mentioned) and Disney movies.

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Summat About the Summit

I’m not totally defending Trump.  I  think the ‘summit’ with Kim was long on theater, short on substance.  Nothing is going to be based on a short meeting like that.  North Korea has not suddenly stopped being a nuclear threat, if they actually  were one, and it’s unlikely that we’re going to see instant re-unification.  On the plus side, re-unification is  just as possible as it was before.
I do think that the rage from the Democratic party over the summit is absurd.  They mock Trump for suggesting that Kim build hotels, but North Korea does have a lot of beachfront  property, and tourism can be  a boon to  anybody’s economy.  Also, let us not forget the role Coca Cola and McDonald’s played in  opening Russia to the West.
They make fun of the video Trump made for the summit, but I watched it and was actually surprised.  For being done by Trump people, it was actually competently put together.  Even the message was on point, that Kim could  go down in  history as a great man by bringing prosperity to  his country.  What better message?  I don’t know that it will  be listened to, but you don’t know unless you try.

The idea that he made a video, which is kind of a new step, just plays to Trump’s strength, which is TV.  It reminds me of  how he arrived for the speech  announcing his candidacy, by escalator.  We laughed then, too.
So, in summary:  It’s O.K., even good, that world leaders should meet and talk.  It should happen frequently, even  casually.  Not much usually  changes, and  I  don’t expect it  will this time.
Meanwhile, it seems Trump’s lawyer may soon  be indicted, people along the path of  the Keystone pipeline are putting up solar  panels and windmills, which  is  a brilliant  tactic, and the world  is still turning around.

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June Spit it Out

The poetry readings at A Maze in Tchaiovna have been great, but soon they will  be no more.  There will  be one more, on June 24th, but I don’t know if I’ll make that  one, because we’ll have guests in town then.  After that, Kae is leaving and  the whole  thing was her project.  It was such a different group  than Alchemy, and I suspect a large part of that was just the force of her own personality.  Some, of course, might have been the location, but I don’t know of anybody who’s picking up the mantle.
Also, Alchemy is over for the summer.  Perhaps it’s just  as well.  I haven’t been writing as much lately or, for that matter, as well.  When I go to a reading, I like to have at least one poem that I think is absolutely amazing, which will leave the audience  in  open mouthed awe.  Of course, it seldom does, but if I have one poem that I feel deserves that reaction, I am happy.  I read six poems tonight, all performed for the first time on stage, but none of them were up to that level, or even close.  Still, they weren’t horrible.

There were quite a few people  I’d never heard before and a couple  of them were good.  The girl who got up and read song lyrics was lame, but a couple of people read rhyming poems, which I’m always entertained by.  One guy read a poem which was  kind of bad couplets (been does not rhyme with Hallowe’en, but he totally redeemed himself on  the second poem, which was about getting drunk  in a Czech bar and it began in English but after the second beer had slipped almost totally into Czech, and it was good Czech, funny Czech.
Certainly better than anything I’ve ever written, or could  write, in Czech or any other language than English, so there’s that.

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Rough Class

O.K., a friend of Sam’s is sleeping over so I need to get the blog written so  I can vacate the living room, and I am not going to write about the Singapore Summit because, really, what is going to come of it?  Trump, with all of his bluster, is not likely to actually provoke a nuclear war, and I doubt very  much if the conference will lead to re-unification.  I imagine it will end as all political meetings end, with both parties coming out and saying there was a  ‘good exchange of opinions’ and that ‘progress was made.’  Of course, with Trump you never know.
My Mondays sometimes (every other Monday) start with 2nd graders and, boy, are they a handful.  Last lesson, I had them marching all around the room, hoping that I could teach them the months as they marched around the room.  Today I was a bit less ambitious, focusing on  the days of the week, but the results were similarly frustrating.  These kids know nothing, and they’re perfectly happy that way.  After that, I played the ‘find the color’ game which involves letting them run around the room a lot, then we sang ‘the eentsy weentsy spider’ and I read them ‘The Sneetches,’ in between yelling at them to shut up, and sit down, two very important life skills they have not yet mastered.
I had two sitting in corners and one sitting out in the hallway, but it was wack-a-mole, there was always one more.

It was a very  physical  class, and a very hot day, and  I’d run from the Metro  in the first place and was still  almost late, and by the end of that  class I was sweating like a fat man after a spinning session.  Between the 2nd graders and the 4th graders, a group of 6th graders comes in and  occupies the room  for about 10 minutes.  They aren’t my students, but some of them talk to me anyway.  One of them asked me “Why  are you so wet?”
And so I told  him.  If he was planning  on being a teacher when he grows up, I’ll bet he doesn’t now.

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Creativity

It was a creative day, in a few small ways.  I woke up from a dream in which I was teaching, and got an idea for a great game, emphasizing repetition of the ‘th’ sound, which all non-English speakers have trouble with, but it’s not  difficult to say, it’s just repetition that’s needed.
Then, I wrote a short poem.  It started off as as a response to a Facebook comment, somebody saying “You’re all so fake!” which I think is a real bullshit thing to say because it implies that only the commenter, out  of all the people  on  Earth, is not.  It’s like people saying “Wake up, Sheeple!”  Just shut up, you are not a damned alarm clock.
It drew a response (the poem did) which said  it was as if “Holden Caulfield had written a version of The Who’s ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ badly.  He may have meant that as a putdown, but I liked it.  I loved ‘Catcher in the Rye’ and ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ is a great song.  Also, the comment showed that he understood what I  was saying, whether he thought the poem was badly  written or not.  So, success.
Then, I finally, (after years and years) figured out how to  jump back in time to  previous blogs, and was surprised to realize how long I’ve been writing this thing.  I’m in my 8th year.  Read a post about a day when Sam was 8 and Isabel 4, a spilled drink and some crying, which made me laugh.  The reason this is  a major breakthrough is it’s going to make it very  easy for me to write a ‘best of’ book.
Also took a walk downtown to go to the Post Office.  The amazing thing about Prague is that now that I’m not a tourist, and don’t necessarily  get into  the center  more than once every couple  of  weeks, whenever I do do I see something different.  A new building finished or  a new construction project started, a marketplace where no  marketplace was before (cash free which gave  it a futuristic feel, but correspondingly overpriced), a new statue, etc…
Seriously, the city changes that fast.

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