Awesome Autumn and the Eternal DINK Daze: A Post-Trip Trip to La-La-La-Land

Previously on A&A's Adventures, Perambulations, and Prague-Peripatetics: Ado ahustle and abustle brought our plucky proto-plutocrats from planning to Pragueing! All against the wily ways of frisky fates. Our hero escaped from the final aftershocks of Screwpocalypse by going the long route through Bolder. Our heroine rose from the mire of the estrogen pit covered in patches and spluttering about  chia seeds. All on their way to the land of wonders, castles, clocks, caves, concupiscent marionettes, horrifying European clowns, evil faeries, Bizarro-Budweiser, and the funnest of FUNiculars. 

Coming up: A toss and a tumble back to the "real" world beyond the summery simulacrums. Will Associate Thompson rally the troops to stage a coup against Fitness Instructor Adelia? Will our heroine reassert her bond with the pivotal golden SHEET OF STATUS OF CASES?? Will she survive the inevitable homicidal mania attendant to an officemate's fervent DTs and withdrawal symptoms? Andrew sets his clock adrift to sea, verging too early and too late with little left in between. Shall the loris find his Goldi-Locks by holiday times? Travels and moves roil in the ether, as future discussions fortend far-flung quests and final destinations. Will our DINKs find roost away from their beautiful B-Town??

No answers are ever complete, but consult the pill-case calendar, award a gold star, take a nap and plunge beneath the surface to discover the hints that lay below!

Return to DINK (er. it's close to Galbraith) Mountain And other tales of Amuricuhn Yup-yup-yuppeees

After our detour through the lands of Europe and the very long customs line, it appears that we (W)rights are gradually re-acclimating to our native environment. Gradually. Yesterday was a touch odd as can be expected. Mostly odd for the fact that (1) the boyfrianceband was actually awake and quite alert yesterday morning. I didn't even have a chance to rouse him before he was dressed and chattering. This. Never. Happens. (Except when it does) (2) the boyfrianceband was actually nodding off by eight p.m. instead of getting the inevitable second-wind. This is a drastic reversal of our typical diurnal cycles. Although I'm generally less inclined towards narcolepsy and less transparently TIRED when I am tired, I still tend to be the tamarin in the morning and the grumpy bear within fifteen minutes of my decidedly irrevocable bedtime. Jet lag is a strange mistress.

Things were also a little different because Andrew had decided to take the day off. Clearly not to sleep in! But he did get a lot of necessary dawdling, some trumpery transactions, and a fair bit of bike obsession in. He also stopped by my office for a brief "coffee" (and/or in Adella's case, "much bigger breakfast that had to be delayed because of medication timings") break. Which was very pleasant. Back when we both went to the UW, we'd meet on campus for little study breaks during the day sometimes. There was something a little sacred about that time, and I do miss those little windows of wooing.

 I'm grateful that we can live in Bellingham instead of some garbage hole nearer to EI, but the long commute does negate such impromptu moments during the day. Perhaps to my husband's surprise, I've started to show more openness to leaving the beautiful B-town after my mom retires. Not that I desperately want to get the hell outta Dodge or anything, but I do recognize that Andrew did a pretty big thing being so willing to move up here due to my commitments and preferences, and it may be my turn coming up.

Whatever my next employment path may be, it's likely to be far more portable and less location-sensitive. Given that I'm increasingly drawn away from the absolute practice of law to the alternative dispute resolution and administrative case/project management aspects, I'm not even as wed to staying in Washington as I once was. At least starting out. Frankly, if Andrew and I were willing to move further afoot (all quite theoretical, as he loves his job and we both love this area), Andrew would easily make enough money to support us both as I tried to adjust to the next stage of my career. 

Of course it would be nice if it were a place I'd want to live. With a comparable community and favorable cost of living, etc. etc. But it's interesting to have placed that in the horizon more assuredly. I've actually been clear with a number of colleagues that I wasn't entirely sure where I'd be in a few years, albeit in a far more mysterious manner. Perhaps that's just the travel bug talking in me and a sign that things aren't back to normal, but I even indicated that I was open to moving away from the coast (a truth about which I've been reticent for fear of encouraging it too handily)... if the conditions were right. 

It would be genuinely nice to both live and work in the same accessible area. I know Andrew has fantasized about this extensively - and already mostly allotted the time regained from commuting to cycling and other personal pursuits - but the flexibility of seeing each other more often would be fun as well. 

Then again, of course, we'd be absolutely stuck with each other and I'd lose all that extra house-time I already have. What with the husband able to come and go as he pleases whenever and without the hour and a half's notice either way. And inevitably, our sleep cycles would have to readjust. Don't get me started on the potential for me to isolate myself so far abreast from my last hold out coffee-date friends and both of my parents, whom I'd miss quite deeply. To which I trail off in yet another ambiguous etc. etc. with a side of yadda yadda. But the future is always scary and exciting in turns. I've done enough scary shit to know things shake out over time. 

Still, I'm glad that's all a fair ways off. I still need the motivation to get back into work and come out fighting. Fall is when things pick up around here and I've got office work (hell even some of my own clients who have yet resisted reconciliation), a Collaborative Professionals Retreat to which to apply my secretarial organizational iron-fist, and a volunteer gig at the DRC that is still very much in transition. 

After Vanessa left there has been a lingering question mark about my exact role at the WDRC. I've gotten plenty of really cool work and I do think Cynthia and Luke have been grateful for my help, but it's also kind of a crapshoot every time I go in whether they'll actually have work for me or feel hard-pressed to confabulate something on the spot. Sometimes I think they look a little terrified and disappointed when I report that I've completed a task with more celerity than anticipated (I'm sharp, so that's a pretty common occurrence, even when I channel my inner-intern and stall). Sometimes I admit I fear that I'm more of a burden than a help. I guess that combined with all the intermittent vacation and medical interruptions have dulled my eagerness to pop in. Which in turn has made it easier to cancel on shifts when I'm tired or otherwise don't expect much to be going on. Which in turn puts off any sense of regularity, momentum or habit. Which... 

Before I left, we were  planning to sit down together and discuss how I might help them and what my role might be (help me help you help me help you?). Of course it was right before Prague and I was thoroughly distracted with lady-hormones, packing, and a wandering wastrel of a Bouldering husband. I didn't make that last shift so we put off meeting until (theoretically) yesterday. And naturally, I wasn't super keen about going in yesterday due to the exhaustion and piles of office work already bleating for attention. Still, I'd cancelled often enough that I felt I had to if for no other reason than to get some momentum back for a gig I really do enjoy. 

When I arrived, both Luke and Cynthia were MIA. Eventually I was informed they were in two separate mediations that had run long. It turned out well though. After noting my distress at this turn of events, Leah (the ascendant volunteer coordinator and office guru) sat down with me for a spell. She was emphatic that they all hoped I remained interested in coming in and were very worried I might not want to. I expressed my more optimistic sense that things were still in the air and would eventually normalize. We did bandy about some ideas to make it easier for me to contribute.

She set a meeting for all of us on Thursday and I think we might get a clearer sense at that point maybe. Midway through that conversation, Cynthia actually did come out of the room and suggest some work for me, which is heartening. Following a trend, I'd already told Leah I was tired, so she told me to go ahead and pick up with that on Thursday. Really. 

And, back at work, mom-boss was quite keyed up by a busy and daunting day. Leslicita was feeling the afterburn of a detox self-cruciation in the form of a raging coffee-withdrawal headache. And I was still kind of disoriented and jetlagged. A very appropriate first fall day somehow. 

It was even a mite productive, as I spent the entire day updating the case status sheet. This is becoming akin to the task of outlining in law school. For the uninitiated, most law school exams are several hours longs and "open book." This means you have certain allowed resources, and can bring in a self-made outline of the course material for reference. As it turns out (in some "you had your courage all along Cowardly Lion" literary cheap trick kinda way), crafting a competent outline is such sufficient study that you'll likely not need it once you've completed it. Outlining more or less forces a student to re-analyse the entire body of the class in retrospect and synthesize personal and global understandings of how each thread interweaves. Trowling through office records and billing statements to make a single document representing THE STATUS OF THE OFFICE has a similar feel. It definitely shook off any remaining cobwebs from those lovely baroque-coco-nouveau-gothic apses we visited. 

And it seems that Andrew's day off from work worked wonders for reorienting him along the temporal grid. As of this morning, he was loris-laggard at each stage of rising. I believe he took exactly ten minutes between my official announcement that breakfast was ready (he had admittedly gotten out of bed and commenced his ab workout by that point) and his grand appearance in the kitchen. And about five more minutes to locate the sufficient items of clothing requisite for sitting down to breakfast. I think he was still eating when I left (a few minutes later than my usual departure time), and only occasionally coherent through the veil of sleep inertia. This means all has returned to normal I believe. 

And hey, after weighing in at yet another two and a half pounds less than before my trip, I regained a whole pound overnight! It's a miracle!! And/or I've rehydrated. Given I was trending lower than I should have been before the trip, I'm still back to eating closer to 3k calories for a spell to see if I can right that a bit, but gravitating towards ordinary in any form is a positive. 

Today the mom-boss has enough time to actually explain all the work that's earmarked for me and I've had enough time to tell her all the things that maybe slipped through the cracks last week. Bring on the autumnal ado! 

DINK-gal is ready for action!

Looby Lady Lolls into Laggardly La-La-Land Taking a Fall with Fall

I do love fall, and I'm rather excited to have returned from our wild wanders to equinox itself. That said, my how the days have shortened. Quite rapidly and quite notably during the single week of our absence. We left a sun-soaked greenhouse and returned to a deliciously overcast bluster from what I can tell. No more sunrise on the way to work for us. And dinner shall be accompanied by the ambient flicker of several household lights. It may well be time to extract the SAD light from its trusty corner and at least feel a little more covered for having filled up my pill case with Vitamin D caplets. 

Oh my pills cases. They remain things of wonder as I plunge ever further into heavily supplemented and thoroughly medically matryoshka'ed!

For those missing the hormonal carousel's first million installments, I'm now on a month long protocol that involves covering myself in estrogen patches along with pills. Just to see how ladylike such perilously high doses will bring me. May I faint at the thought of rough handling, afflicted with the vapors? I'm sure I could have come up with a bevy of better chauvinist stereotypes, but it's still dark out and I'm - as noted - I've got more estrogen pumping through my veins than your average sorority house. 

 The protocol started out innocuously enough at roughly similar doses to what I'd been taking (two weeks out of a four week cycle) the month before. But we're adding patches and pills left and right by the week. My body is starting to become a patchwork of residual marks from whylum Vivelle leeches. Today is the next jump up in doseage to "pretty darned high" which will last for at least two weeks before an ultrasound determines what craziness to hop to next. 

And today is the first day to add yet another pill to my midday pills. I'm ever so excited! Those pill cases are really getting full usage these days. Although they are still awfully plain and demanding of glitter. 

Needless to say, I'm anticipating a week or two of sheer drooling stupor. When you tally estrogen bonk + autumnal exhaustion to + the dregs of jet-lag, you get a very special superpower allowing (nay, compelling!) you to stare right through walls into the fractal land of of atoms and animism beyond. I'm sure this will all go splendidly for my next slate of necessary tasks. 

On the bright side, the jet-lag weight loss proved to be just that. No massive impacts from travel, thank god. I prepared so very doggedly, it would have been a shame to still splutter out poundage. 

And all this is not to say I'm incapable of some semblance of mad-Adella managing. I did determine that yesterday was the absolute most important crucial day to figure out THE HOLIDAYS and to promptly purchase travel tickets (oh yes, yes I did - I did split that infinitive in twine because English ain't no Roman language folks and I'm just that much of a cowboy!). Utilizing several chat messages and a few google shares of calendars, I cornered the boyfrianceband into agreeing to tickets (after apparently compelling him to figuring out his bevy of ski vacation options with his mother over lunch break).

Travel planning. It's a fun logic game.

I have my rules: I don't want to fly anywhere more than once in less than a month's time; If possible, I will celebrate near to Christmas with both of my parents, though the exact day is negotiable; I prefer not to fly on the premium days where flights are twice as pricy and infinitely more insane (this is fortunately a shared preference).

He has his rules: he will get a ski vacation in; it may in fact be two ski vacations, but one of them doesn't need to involve me; he also has the holiday days given to him by EI and two additional days of vacation to draw from.  

Despite these various constraints, our Thanksgiving at least seems somewhat determined and we'll even be in San Francisco over the actual holiday despite the slightly better fare for missing it entirely!

Furthering my claim to almost-consciousness I made some passes at kitchenry last night. Nothing grandiose, but I do have greens again, and my yogurt has been made as of this morning. Which is good. I was making do with some small greek yogurt packages mixed with cottage cheese. Not bad, but all that protein at once was kind of filling! I was dragging myself to bed with a roiling stomach. 

For his part, Andrew made his annual "oh yeah I don't like this" pilgrimage to a local cyclocross practice at Lake Padden last night. He did not, in fact, enjoy himself. I am not, in fact, heartbroken to hear he might not be making "staying out until after 8 p.m. on what was usually our date night to come home muddy and bloody tired" a regular habit. But glad he gave it a shot. Sounds like he's realized that he remains a Rooster (Blue in color) at heart, so the pressing issue of "which team shall I join" has been decided. 

He definitely is back to morning grog with the help of that later night activity. When I went upstairs to announce breakfast, I found him standing in the middle of our room staring reproachfully at a vacant space on the floor. He made it downstairs in his pjs after several minutes before immediately retreating upstairs to find his slippers. He returned again, broadcast a general confusion and ventured upstairs yet again to find the coffee he'd apparently left on the washer and dryer (for no particular reason). So I'm saying that we're both super sharp these mornings, I suppose!

And despite my sopor, I must now attempt to draft some final papers and - oh my - get my trial prep checklist out for not one but TWO cases. Oh god, I think there's a declaration to draft before tomorrow too. And no caffeine. Thank god for the synthroid, which has blasted me back from hypo to vergingly hyper-! I'll just drink my decaf tea, keep my head down and pretend the tea is about ten shades darker and muddier. 

Reign of the Rain Boots And other tales of fall tumbles

I present my own comic rain boots. I endued myself in these slick little sweeties this morning on the supposition that the tat-tat-tat on my rooftop indicated a wet walk to work this morning. As always, the microclimes of Bellingham are such that weather conditions at my house have less to do than the price of tea with weather conditions a few miles down the road. While the walk from my car to office was quite dry, at least I'm covered if the storms start to bluster. 

These boots are genuine BOOTy from a shallow dumpster-diving street-sweep up by the college. A few months back, I was maundering about town when I saw several bags and a "free" sign abutting the sidewalk. Never one to pass up the opportunity to browse in an environment that forfends future retail horrors, I indulged a meow of curiosity and emerged with a heaping bag full of potential raiments for future wear.

The girl who had left these little nuggets 
(or so I assume it was a girl given the sizing, style, and general mien of the discarded wardrobe) seemed to be moderately petite (no skirts or pants would come close to long enough), sporty (my favorite technical jacket was from this pile, and given the emblem on the back I suspect she liked tennis), and a little nerdy. Although she did shop at Forever 21. I thoroughly washed the wardrobe upon returning home and gave myself a little fashion show.

Hence how it came to pass that Adella owns a few hopelessly vexing shirts from Forever 21. They look like they should look good, but they just don't quite. Still I can't get rid of them just yet. There were also some definite finds that have made it into my regular rotation. That jacket in particular. But I awfully much love these boots as well. Being a Pacific Northwesterner, I'm stubbornly averse to rain gear. Umbrellas strike me as silly. Actual rain jackets tie poorly around waists and don't breathe well. Boots are just a little uncomfortable trekking up and down stairs. But sometimes they breach well into fashion statement territory, and then I can hardly resist hobbling about on dryish pavement. 

At any rate, it is promising to rain hereabouts. I'm promising to attempt some sort of work as the clock ticks down to "this really needs to be done." I have a client from a ways back calling me this morning. Which is inconvenient, as I have to stop walking to hear the telephone. I try to train these people to email me as much as possible, but some people are oddly wed to their antediluvian "talkie" technology that lingers in several smart phones still. Pshaw. 

And I'm still not feeling it at work. Well, that's not fair. If "it" happens to be "a spaced out but not entirely unpleasant ennervation" then I am most certainly feeling it. Yesterday, of course, being The First Day of the Rest of My Crazy Estrogen Protocol, I'm a bit bonked out on double my initial dosage of the looby-lady juice. Add jet-lag, fall, and what I think to be fall allergies, and I'm kind of ready to just curl up in a corner with a blankie and a crossword for the rest of the day.

 Andrew and I had our belated date last night, which turned more into our "binge on Mexican food and then crash ceremoniously on the couch in a cacophony of yawns" night. We definitely got in our oxygen for the evening! And for whatever reason, this prompted the loris to leap from bed this morning and be quite thoroughly conscious by the time I came up with coffee... disturbing things are afoot!

But if I'm to be disturbed, let it be on a Friday heading into a (finally!) normal and mellow weekend with maybe just enough rain to make staying in feel extra cozy. 

Daffy DINK and the Delirious Kitchen-Sink Weekend Whimsies Tales of light rain and lighter chores

First off, I guess I should say "Go 'Hawks" except from what I hear they aren't even playing this weekend. I guess they have a bye and/or a bi- and/or a buy... week where they don't play. Well we weren't sure of the proper spelling, but apparently it is the former. Like "bye bye, we're taking a short break" and less "this round, you've been passed by" or "we're taking a bi-weekly schedule for a spell." Oh and I guess I'm not really a football fan, except that I enjoy receiving my mother's bacchanalia of game updates via chat message during any regular game (or on a delay since they like to record and skip through the commercials). But I do like green socks. And gosh golly, these have some style. GO GREEN SOCKS!!

After a summer full of family frolics, work explosions, and international intrigues we've finally alit (I hope) upon an autumnal "normal weekend" at the tail end of September. Of course "normal" is a bit relative concept. The blend of jet lag, sudden seasonal change, and my looby lady hormonal surges are still mucking up any concrete sense of pat routine. As if there ever is or was a patticake pat sort of routine to begin with, something I am sure is thoroughly conjectural!

But I've tentatively reassumed the make-believe mantle of kitchen apron strings and very real houndstooth oven mitts. And Andrew has remounted his mountain bike. And we've both importuned upon mom-boss and boy toy for entertainment and family dinners. This goes a long way to meeting my requirements for "normal weekend." 

Still a bit dodgy in the kitchen on my return, I've finally managed a brief oven flurry to make my protein bars and a new experiment with granola bars. I had a bunch of bananas that I froze before leaving for Prague. Assuming I'd have the urge to bake on Wednesday during Mr. (W)rights annual flirtation and subsequent renunciation of cyclocross, I thawed them. As one would suspect, they were getting kind of nasty. Thawed bananas tend to liquify. If you leave them in the peel for the freezing (much easier, so I do), the peels go ebony and may start to leak muddy condensation in whatever bag you've left them in. 

As such, it was imperative to use all bananas immediately. Since my protein bar recipe only utilizes two, I did my traditional "what can I make with some modifications from cobbled together internet recipes" google scour and came up with oatmeal-banana-chia-jam bars.

In essence: I mashed the remaining bananas with the rest of some pluot chia jam I'd also thawed, then added two cups of rolled oats and some raisins. Then thawed one final banana in the microwave because there wasn't a sufficient mush:oats ratio going on. I will subsequently thaw bananas in the microwave instead of leaving them out. It is a far less disgusting process. Also, if you're cautious about the defrost function, the banana will remain slightly gelid and will be much easier to peel. Of course, if you are less cautious you might just end up with an banana-explosion. I suspect this is in my future cards given my general tendencies with cooking and attention. 

For good measure, I chopped up some veggies and made some more hummus. 

As previously mentioned, the bike-and-chain got himself back into the saddle and galloomphed about Galbraith. He has appropriately commence seasonal brooding over (1) bike part orders and (2) his 2015 racing calendar. 

Being goo local-DINKs, we also attempted to support some local charities by attending a food truck round up. I admit it didn't sound much like my thing, but I was still game (with a purse full of a snacks) on the principle of "if every one else buys things with their truck bucks, I can take little samples of whatever they buy!" Fortunately, my adorable loris was dilatory in making the meet-up time, giving mom-boss and boy-toy a chance to realize the place was an Eschatological anomie. Just as Mr. (W)right emerged beaming from his shower, I received the notification that they were leaving, everyone had a headache, and we should definitely NOT GO.

Instead we had lunch at a little market down the street. Which was far less charitable, but very tasty nonetheless. The timing also afforded us a perfect window to take a nap together before seeing The Box Trolls, which is a perfectly marvelous movie that I highly recommend on this cusp of October. 

For good measure, we went from movie to salad bar. And in celebration of a Saturday well spent, I proceeded to toss my salad quite violently and across the floor. Note to self: a stack of pizza boxes is not a stable foundation to rest your heaping salad plate. Thank goodness it was an all-you-can eat salad bar plate. Clearly I was just testing the limits. 

Today, we'll be watching the weather warm up enough for a run. I'm expecting my tendencies in Prague to pull far ahead of a lagging hubby have come to an end. A mix of hills to slow me down and less daily walking to drag his accelerometer back should have us "pacing" each other into "a little faster than comfortable for either." But since the weather has turned seasonal, it will first necessitate a rather thorough spelunk through the closet for light-but-warm-running cover ups. Mostly gloves. My feet and fingers go numb once we get below sixty. An irritating quirk, but one that can be properly addressed with proper sartorial choices. 

It's good to be back in a truer sense now! May all my fellow argonauts find their fleecies and cuddle with their cozies this weekend!

Prlog Finale: Final Days of Better Bud, Black Light Fairies and Mead-Moon Merriment

After the mad rush of the first two days, and the slight scale back of days 3 and 4, the DINKs doffed their palace rushing, communist cave hopping ways to hit the theaters with mad clowns, evil fairies, and endless cubist conclaves before daring the horrors of uncustomary US customs and a final homecoming... 

Prlog Day Five Black Lights and Evil Faeries Hit the Miniature Museum

Well on our penultimate day, we didn't want to let down the pace too much. We had important things to do on Saturday! After a bit of a slow start (Andrew was dead until a fair bit after his fifth cup of coffee), we decided to take the funicular (kind of like a monorail but it scales the side of steep inclines) up to the top of the Petrin.

Andrew had wanted to ride the funicular at least once, and I had wanted to see the miniature museum, so it worked out perfectly. It's a short walk through the Petrin Park to reach the monastery where the museum is located between several difference beer kiosks and tennis courts. A small (har har) museum, it features minute detail work done by Anatolij Koněnko. By minute detail, I mean elaborate camels passing through eyes of needles, and circus animals daintily adorning the wings of mosquitoes. Jesus on a poppyseed (which may be my new "gosh golly" expression).

The entire display is set up under separate microscopes for viewing. Only a room or two, but oddly fascinating and well worth the otherwise beautiful walk through yet another edenic Prague park. Sure, Andrew and I adventured a little bit and ended up scaling some off-groomer mountain type trails on the way back, but we did relocate the tower and then the Funicular for a downwards ride. 

The funicular is indeed FUN as promised. It is also apparently mostly interesting to lazy people. The ride down was sparsely populated. Us, a mom and child, and another couple crammed into the first car of several. The ride up had been Standing Room Only, and by the time we reached the bottom of the hill around 10:00 a.m., they line was serpentine and crammed far outside the building. Little secret: it might be a glute-burning to scale that damned hill (having climbed the hill previously I can say that it is, I swear, sometimes perfectly vertical), but the real views are definitely on the way down. 

The Funnest of Funniculars also conveniently dropped us back at the New Stage Theater Box office, where we waited in several different box office areas for consternated-but-polite Czech ladies to process Andrew's request to trade Friday night's failed tickets in for Saturday night's hopeful performance. Wait we did, but success nipped on our heels. We emerged with fresh tickets and hastened on our way to the Museum of Czech Cubism. Alack, no time machine. I'd forgotten our guide book was a bit ... dated. Actually our guidebook was drafted before the most recent flood, so we suspect certain "islands" referred to in our book no longer exist. The Czech Museum certainly doesn't, though a nice enough restaurant seems to have taken over the "Architecturally Cubist" building in which it lay (House of the Black Madonna). 

With resolve to track down the pieces now further afoot, we returned to the hotel... or lunch.. or the hotel lobby and then wandering about the street. 

Figuring I had control of the meals yesterday, I had determined to let lunch be Andrew's call today. Except I'm impossible to feed. Andrew's approach of "hey, there's a restaurant" was mired in "um, there's nothing I can eat... well, ok, I guess maybe... but that seems awfully expensive, do you really want to eat at... well wow compared to the last one... maybe just... let's go back to that one I saw several menus ago, which isn't looking as bad after these, except maybe this one will..." Yeah, thank god I sucked it up just around the time we found a suitable bar. I got a salad and Andrew got a magical skillet of meat not otherwise specified. 

Because we're double-dippers in the realm of theater, we spent the afternoon at the exquisite State Opera House, where the National Theater was staging Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet. A fascinating and evocative performance that really plays on the subconscious elements and abstracts the themes even further.

 In this version, Friar Lawrence finds an ethereal foil in Queen Mab, the fateful driver of all action and something akin to death (she also looks great in a 1930's white vamp costume). Mab presents the play, each character her puppets, while the Friar despairingly attempts to thwart inevitable fate. At first I was concerned this lack of agency or the insertion of an insidious femme fatale would dull the emotional impact, but ultimately it let the heart wrenching really fly. The inventively intertwining choreography was set against abstract sets of scaffolding and projected words, which had an interesting effect against such a rococo theater setting. 

Despite the lack of anything remotely resembling climate control, I fended off any headaches and Andrew stayed awake. Which  speaks volumes if you know either of us at all well. 

In fact, we missed our "napping" all together, given the fact that we were thoroughly theater-hopping last night. We got back from R&J around 5:00 p.m., and were due for another tussle with the black light theater at the New Stage at 8:00 p.m. Naturally, we would also have to leave earlier to make sure Andrew had his requisite coffee and/or espresso with special little tea cup, water, and frothed cream (he only touched the espresso, but I'm pleased to see part of the rituals associated with any coffee experience in Buenos Aires also available here... too bad about the missing coffee treats).

Our down time was filled with some desperate internet injections, a hearty bit of snacking, and a few peanut butter and craisin sandwiches. Yeah, it was Adella's turn to pick dining options and she picked making sandwiches for Andrew and trotting out her bevy of travel-adapted weird foods for herself. 

(A particular favorite I've discovered is pre-soaked chia seeds mixed with half a pack of plain oatmeal and a half scoop of vanilla protein powder and boiling water. Don't ask, but it's oddly tasty and filling. I also am so happy for plain shredded wheat, which travels well in purse baggies and goes splendidly with a little fruit.) To accompany our self-made room service, we added in a little more international television, hopping between British, Russian, German and Czech options. 

But of course, you're all dying to know: Did Laterna Magicka acquit themselves? Were black light theater options redeemed in a second showing? What the smeg is black light theater anyways?? Um, it's... very... European. I was expected a pared down Cirque de Soleil, which isn't totally off, but not nearly as apt as I would have imagined. I'd say it was more like Fellini dropped acid and decided to produce a stage show tribute to the proleptical era of moving pictures. With a mix of Becket. And maybe a touch of Teletubbies. Kind of like a Harlequin show but with a live projector and several lighting effects to interact with the live aspect of the show. 

Since this was a repertory piece, the original piece had aired in 1977. This is when all the on screen action was filmed. In this particular production, characters wander in and off screen, necessitating half decent lookalikes for the screen actors. Of course, the costumes and faces have drifted over time, which adds just one more layer of oddity. But really, the production itself maxed out on "you should be ten times more stoned for having watched this in the first place." 

Plot... um, a bit Waiting for Godot mixed with Pee Wee Herman maybe? Two clowns wash up from a waterfall and encounter an evil circus master who tries to control them by showing them naked lady pictures and then manifesting the Venus rising in a Clamshell, whom he then turns into a Gypsy; and the clowns chase her around amorously for a spell until they all end up at the circus and the lady turns into a ballerina, while the circus master tames lions, but then the circus burns down and the clowns run away with/rescue the lady, who is then turned into a dancing doll who then escapes to the Netherlands and finds love and the clowns are sad, but eventually (SPOILER ALERT) they find other clowns and run off to join them. Something like that. 

There wasn't nearly as much black light as I imagined, but there were heavy special effects via projected image on a few screens that were raised and lowered. And a few little black light touches that were fun to watch and would definitely have appealed to the nephews. 

Probably not going to be my favorite new form of theater, but certainly a new genre to tuck under my belt of theatrical experience. I'd still maybe warrant that Romeo and Juliet was a touch more my speed. 

And oh my, we've come to the final day. There's a lot to do, though I could honestly walk away this morning and feel we've already had more than a full trip. If I came back, I could certainly think of five more days of activities and then some, but we've certainly had a fitful start. Today's agenda includes tracking down that darned Czech Cubist art at the place that also has most of the National Museum's collection (main building is under construction until 2015). We may also finally have a Czech beer and maybe even - if we're really up to it - do the obligatory McDonald's international comparison. 

All the bajillion photos from today can be found here

Hip Hops Hurrah Tales of the Infinite Palace and the Tasty Bud

And with some rather grand rigamarole (read: tossing and turning in bed while we fruitlessly attempt to approximate "half a night's sleep" before our 3 a.m. slog to the lobby for airport shuttling), we're set to wrap up our grand Adventuremoon. But not without one or two final hip-hip-hoorahs. I've got designs on some serious pacing of the Frankfurt security gate. Don't get me started on the madcap loll through various passport control and security lines yet to come! This shall be a day to go down in infamy and/or a complete goulash of addled anamnesis and flashes of tv screen snippets.

But our true hoorahs perhaps were peaked out yesterday. We started with a follow up run that led to complete revival of the olden days of "Adella goes all Sweet Pea and takes off totally all over the place, until the run turns into a much grander endeavor than initial planned." Hey I made it back to the hotel alive!

 There's a certain trajectory with any travel. You start big on your list of "things I'd like to do before leaving." That's because you have that nervous burst of initial energy, sure. But it's also because several attractions are complementary and easily piled atop each other. The longer you stay, the more you begin to whittle your list down to the ones that require a little more logistical specialization and the occasional bout of prioritization. 

And thus had we reached our curve. We'd done the easily walkable attractions that bled well nigh into each other. We'd done the shows and tours that commenced in the muck of two billion other tourist-lures. We'd reached every attraction through every park that was within some semblance of walking distance. We were down to the meatier museums, cemeteries, day tours, and excursions requiring public transit or hired vehicles. 

Sometimes museums are brief little larks. Sometimes, like my last day in Paris at the Louvre, they are trips unto themselves and you'll come out of a day's wandering with thousands more sites within the museum walls to wander. 

Veletržní Palace turns out to be less of a wee lark and more of a day-trip. This is largely because it has absorbed The National Gallery's Art of the 19th, 20th and 21st Century Permanent Collection, as well as the Black Madonna's Museum of Czech Cubism's entire collection. Additionally, it has its own exhibits of technical and decorative arts to complement the evolving time periods. "Palace" is a tad misleading. This is a building established in the early Twentieth Century to serve as The Fair Trade Palace. It served as something of a mall thorugh several destructions and rebuilds (one of the exhibits was on its destruction by fire in the 1970s). 

The displays encompass a pretty thorough tour of Pre-Modern Modern and Contemporary European art, including copious scads of your usual names - a room of Picassos,

Rodin every which way, Gaugin, Cezanne, Klimt

Renoir, Munch, Monet, Manet - as well as the Czech luminaries - Mucha (of course)

Fila, Kubista, Gutfreund, Čapekand Benes, Pavel JanákGočárHofman,ChocholProcházka,... 

It has a floor of set designs. A floor of Art Deco furnishings. A floor and then some of architectural models.

 And the building is quite deception. What looks like a fairly contained little round of four floors, actually contains a main wing on each floor several times the size. 

After two floors, we realized that two and a half hours had passed and we were yet to hit the big money exhibits up top (we foiled the system and started on the lower floors, ensuring complete disarray of their carefully cultivated chronological evolution). Affirming with some desperate and hungrily butchered English (the butchering was on our part: we were really quite tired and hungry) that we could leave and return, we attempted to go to the Museum Cafe. This seemed otherwise occupied with a strange photo shoot, so we finally went abreast to grab a bit of Prague Pizzeria pickings. I ended up with a greek salad on steroids (so good I ate until my stomach was near bursting before ceding the final pile of fresh feta and olives to Andrew) and Andrew got a calzone that looked to be the size of a small puppy. 

Thus fortified, we returned to our self-cultivation for another two and a half hours. We'd originally planned quite the day. The museum was conceived of as a brief warm-up for the excursions to come. Metro tickets were involved. Citadels were to be stormed, cemeteries observed, and tv towers scaled. We didn't quite get to all those. We thought we might still have time to hit the creepy baby tv tower, but by the time we figure out the trams and decided where we might even consider buying a ticket, we'd walked almost entirely back to the hotel and it was pretty well into dinner time. Our feet gave in and we came back to the hotel for a desperately needed moment of repose. 

Never fear, the best was still yet to come. Despite all inclination to add more weary wandering to the mix, we saved the most important for last: Czech Budweiser.

 If you're at all into beer, you may be aware that there are two companies with rights to the name Budweiser. One is Milwaukee's agua blecka, known as the choice of really cheap college students who are not hip enough to want something slightly ironic in their choice of piss water. The other turns out to be a crisp, fine, and entirely Czech lager (and other flavors) that can be found dominating the Czech Republic and much of European flavor preferences. Yes, trade disputes come up, but they both have legal rights to the name. You'll find this beer called Czechvar in the US, incidentally. 

During our runs, Andrew and I had passed a boat with Budweiser emblazoned on the awning. Naturally, we had to investigate, and it was quite the appropriate way to toast our belated honeymoon a/k/a (given we've had time to age our matrimonial bliss) mead-moon. And hell, if Andrew gets one to two drinks a month, he'd best make them count. 

We lingered for another longer-than-planned spell, but of a fully different nature, before shuffling back home (all that museum shuffling trained us well) and pretending to sleep in restive bouts for a few hours. Now the packing is almost done and the shuttling is nigh. Time to locate the final ziploc bags, recheck that passport and stay conscious just long enough to make it through security!

It's been a wonderful trip and I've got several more reflections to sift through on our long ride home. Until then, I raise a mug of herbal tea to Prague and wish you all a wonderful night/evening/morning/whatever. See ya on the other side or at least on the way

Many more museum photos and other odds and ends from Day 6 can be found here. 

The De-Prlog Slog Back Home Return of the DINKS (yawn and hellooo)

Despite U.S. Customs best attempts to keep us out, the boyfrianceband and I have repatriated ourselves to the good(ish and/or sometimes morally ambiguous to downright evilold(ish, except compared to most other countries one might visitUS of A (well unitedish...). 

I immediately went to get my blood let, since there's technically a blood test I should have timed for smack-dab in the middle of my fabulous vacation. Trying to find a lab in the Czech Republic that would fax my results over to the appropriate doctor and take my insurance seemed like a bit of a challenge. Anyways, the phlebotomist commented that a week really didn't seem like that long given the arduous travel involved on either end. 

I agree and disagree in equal measures. For one, in the last week I've theoretically lost two pounds. I'm guessing some of that is jet lag related, but it is definitely on trend for every other travel Adella ever takes. Not that there wasn't fantastic food there. Not that I didn't also pack a suitcase full of food. But without a kitchen and a lot of nibbles-while-cooking, I'd better be pretty sedentary to keep any semblance of weight up. And we were decidedly not sedentary. It wasn't much more than my usual treadmill walking (albeit over much rougher territory and up a lot more hills), but it was between 3-5 cumulative hours of actual walking each day, plus museum shuffling and the like. Definitely got to Andrew (who usually has two speeds: charge full blast in a sprint or collapse on the bed). And we also did get two runs in. 

My point being, unless we were fully committed to the longer haul with a kitchen and enough time to justify buying more cooking ingredients (I swear I eat an extra 500 calories a day nibbling while cooking alone), my body might not have tolerated much longer of a trip!

We were there just long enough to leave wanting more. And I definitely have a list of things we didn't get to that I'd like to do if we go back. These include: both cemeteries, the citadel, a day trip or two, that dagnabit tv tower, the rest of David Cerny's displays around town, The City Museum, actually going to a Smetana concert in the Municipal Hall, going to an opera in the National Theater... several more similar ideas that often involve more specialized museums, a couple of tours, and definitely climbing more stony steps to more spectacular views.

I do have a whole 'nother week in me for sure. But the energy for this kind of thing flags after the urgency flows past novelty and into the second week. There's a tipping point one reaches on travels between not enough and complete overstimulation. I'm still a wee bit burnt out on grandiose cathedrals, for instance, even if I make a few obligatory stops on whatever trip I've taken. I'm thinking perhaps that perfect tipping point was maybe a few more days out. Maybe an extra half a week would have been fine. 

Back in the day, I used to take an entirely different approach to travel. This worked too if you had the time and could afford it. Basically going for a month or more eliminates the urgency, lets one get into a routine, and relax into a more measured schedule. But that's not happening any time soon, and I definitely couldn't pack enough peanut butter for that kind of trip. 
In the alternative, I'd country hop a day at a time, jamming in a month's worth of travelling in a long weekend and crashing for several days on my return. 

But I do grant the phlebotamist's point: it is a ridiculous ratio of transit to actual fun travel. "Yesterday" (let's not even begin to try parsing the nine hour time difference and how that impacted one's sense of when travel began), we left our hotel at 3:30 a.m. (Prague time). That got us there with ample time to wait at the first airport for a 6:00 a.m. flight.

This was an hour, plus the half hour to taxi via bus from some random spot on the tarmac to the actual Frankfurt airport. Blessedly, we did not have to go back through security, so we made it to the gate with plenty of time to wait for our 10:00 a.m. (still Prague time). 

Plenty of time for Andrew to "read" (and/or pass out in that way he does that makes my neck sympathetically sore) and for me to make several loops around the airport in my "can't sit, must walk" pre-travel urgency. Nice place for a walk, the Frankfurt airport. Very high-end. The restaurants are not your typical food court fare. They have dutch restaurants, bavarian pretzels, beer everywhere, and even a specialty stop for high end wines and caviar where other restaurants would have a Starbucks. 

After our two hour layover, we were consumed in a massive throbbing blob of a "line" and fought valiantly to reach our seats for the ten and a half hour flight. Oh god the sitting. I admit to making up a bladder infection to increase my frequency of mini walks to the bathrooms and back. I also took several excuses to retrieve things from my overhead bag that I didn't need. I just don't sit that well. I also maybe did some lunges and calf raises whenever Andrew went to the bathroom. 

The trip was well punctuated, albeit not with much sleep. I think I got about three hours of very restless and uncomfortable tossing (courtesy only of two ibuprofen pms which served as much to decrease the discomfort of that kind of sitting as it did to drug me into a stupor). We did tandem-watch The Amazing Spiderman 2 (like Captain America 2, it was way too long for a movie theater, but long actually becomes an asset on trans-Atlantic flights) and The Grand Budapest Hotel, which was not what I expected at all and thoroughly in a good way. 

So, we technically landed in Seattle at about noon, which would be 9:00 p.m. Prague time. And of course then there was US Customs. We don't do that shit nearly as well as the Europeans. The Germans were so well organized that even the highly increased sensitivity on the security lines (nearly every one was bleeping off that metal detector and I had a bag search as well on the way to Prague), they manage to route people through Passport Control and security rapidly. Organized is not a word I'd affix to US Customs.

We were washed upon the shores of a roiling mob of international returnees. The signs were thoroughly confusing and nobody knew where to stand. Passport control for US citizens is now automated with self-checkout machines, which seem to discard the need to ever fill out that form they give you on the plane. In theory this should speed things up. In practice, I think it makes things worse. The line was absurdly long and several people had problems understanding the machines, requiring the intervention of several customs officials. The scanners didn't read passports well. We were still referred to an actual person by the end of ours. And of course, that was just step one. Then there was the zoo of baggage claim and the horror of a single customs line with no discernible end (at least until some staff member started wandering around with a mobile "end of line" sign while screaming at us to go somewhere other than where she was) eventually forced us into a serpentine queue around the various baggage carousels. At the end of our line we discovered a SOLE customs checker handling all the people passing through. 

Needless to say that added an hour to our technical return to US soil. Which is actually much better than I feared, so I oughtn't complain too much. And the ride home was thoroughly mediated by my mother (anticipating that actually "vegetarian" meal options on planes still mean "huge globs of semi-fried cheese and mushy vegetables that Adella will foist onto Andrew") showing up with a cooler full of salad for me to eat. 

So, we got back into Bellingham at about 3:00 p.m. local time, which would be midnight in Prague time. Not a full 24 hours of transit, but certainly a hefty chunk of time-change. And when you consider the two days of travel to five and a half days of being abroad, you don't reach the most delightful ratio.

 I suspect that if we ever remembered the sheer hassle of travel, we'd never bother. Even back in my peripatetic days, I used to get an onset of sheer dread a few weeks before a trip as I started to remember the discomfort, confusion, and exhaustion involved. Probably why most of my trips were intentionally spontaneous and rarely too planned out. If I thought about it too much, I'd talk myself out of it in favor of a nearer destination. 

But thank goodness we forget that part. Because it was so worth it. Travel, especially distant travel, forces one out of any semblance of comfort-zone. It negates the ability to fall-back on habit, overrides the easy fall-backs, and eliminates the quotidian concerns that don't matter as much as we think when we're rutted in context. Stripping one of that raiment of regularity allows for so much. There's an energy and drive for novelty and learning, there's an indulgence for spending a little more money here and there, there's risk, there's experiment, and with all of that there's some form of self-expansion and reintroduction. Sharing that with another person adds even more layers of nuance I think. And the memories that we craft together from our trip, the story we're developing about "us on this trip" adds and highlights ourselves as a couple. I really think that. 

And of course, as always, there's the joy of "coming home." The reintroduction of familiarity in a new light. The reignited appreciated of all those little things you take for granted. The sonorous settle back into a missed routine. It's nice to be back there, even if it was equally nice to be abroad. 

And hey, the internet is a lot faster here, so I'm back on it full scale! Well, after some major work catch up. Holy crap a lot happens even in a dull week! Wish me luck!!