Sunday, August 30, 2015

5 Funny Videos


Hello People of the Interwebs,

Have a lovely Sunday! I hope it is restful and refreshing. I am going back to the church I go to while at school for the first time today. I am excited to see everyone, but also nervous. I don't know why I should be. I guess just not having seen people in a while.

Anyway, I have compiled 5 of my favourite funny YouTube videos for your enjoyment:
1. The Hobbit (10 Guaranteed Improvements)

2. Kid Falling Out of Roller Coaster



(Watch out, this one has the F word...Are you brave enough?)

This last on is a bonus, because I am probably the only one on The Internet who thinks it is funny. Correction: I think is is hilarious. Like, I can't even watch it any more because I die laughing every time and it takes me a few days to recover. 

I found it when I was studying for my maturita* exams (find an explanation of that here). One of the questions we had to prepare was about all the different kinds of glue. I wanted to make my revision more interesting so I tried looking up YouTube videos about glue. This is what I found. Watch out. It is truly bizarre. 

Love,
Lucy Rose

PS
Five songs.
Five blogs.

*This is the final exam in order to gain your high school diploma. You are tested in four subjects. Each school chooses it's own four required or optional subjects. The state requires some mandatory ones like English as a Second Language and Maths. At art school we were required to be tested in  English, Literature, Technology of Fine Arts and History of Art. 

In the classic maturita exam you are given a list of 25 topics in each subject at the beginning of the year. You prepare for all of them throughout the year. On the day of the test you randomly select one of the topics and are given fifteen minutes of preparation time. 

When prep time is up you must speak fluently and intelligently to a panel of teachers about the given topic for 15 minutes. During this time the teachers may challenge you with questions, laugh at your bad grammar or fall asleep. During my Maturita they did all three. I think the most laughter was when I mistakenly referred to Charlemagne as "Big Charles". 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Making Assumptions


Do you ever get jealous of someone who seems to have it all together? You know that person whose outfit is well tailored and stain-free. Their hair appears clean and beautifully frames their face. They are wearing uncomfortable-looking shoes yet they still seem carefree. They walk breezily by you and flash a white, straight smile. You want to sidle up and nudge them into the bushes for being so perfect.




Is this something that only happens to me? Or do you guys also know what it feels like to look at someone else's life and find it infuriating that they seem to have mastered living.

I had an epiphany the other day. I think Oprah would call it an "Ah-Hah Moment". I think I need to pay her corporation several thousand dollars to type that here. Oh well. It is all worth it for the blog!
My favourite childhood journalist and amateur detective, the baby-faced Tintin would exclaim, "Eureka!"

My epiphany (or whatever it was) was this: They may look like they have their act together, but I don't have the full story. This hit me when I was walking around campus the other day. I was feeling cute, because I had gone the extra mile on my hair and make-up that day. I was also wearing a newly thrifted J.Crew dress, which in Mid-Western America is the epitome of class. I met an acquaintance who was happy to see me after the summer.



"Lucy Rose, you look so gorgeous! Your hair is amazing short like that. Oh my gosh, do your nails match your dress?!"

I was thrilled to be fawned over in that manner and also a little embarrassed. I felt chuffed but also confused. Esther saw a poised young woman in a J.Crew dress with perfect make-up and matching nail polish.

I saw a young woman who had been locked out of her apartment, because she lost her keys. A girl who had not eaten lunch yet and was extremely tired. I knew that the fact that my nails matched my dress was completely accidental and that I had had to re-paint them two times because I kept sitting on them on accident. I also knew that underneath all my carefully applied make-up I was hosting a larger family of pimples and red acne scars (they had so many children they were probably a homeschool family. Or maybe Catholic. Or both).

I finished up the small talk with Esther and limped away on my aching toes to find lunch. That was when I realised how good an actor I am. I played the part of someone whose act is all together and it worked. The audience bought it. How many other people are doing the same thing? Is the girl whose shoes and hair I envy also carrying some burden of doubt or insecurity? Could the girl who was engaged by the first year of college and planning her gorgeous wedding be struggling with heart-breaking in-law issues?

I am trying to remember this as I walk around campus. No, I don't need to tell everyone about all my problems with using cutlery and losing all my stuff.

Have a great Saturday, People.

Love,
Lucy Rose

PS
Another post about life-stuff.
An old update on my life events.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Perfect Day in the Woods

Hello Blog Readers,

I hope you are well. I am a little sad because I had to say goodbye to my family and Czech friends this week. 

I got to spend one of my last full days at home in the Czech Republic in the perfect way. Barbora, my dearest friend from high school, came from the city to spend time with me. We drank tea and chatted in my kitchen. We ate leftovers from the fridge and talked to my mom. Then we went exploring in the woods across the street. 






We brought a wicker basket (birthday present from Claire!) and a mason jar for artefact and blackberry collecting. Wandering slowly through the forest paths was peaceful. When I am with a fellow artist like Barbora I am more attuned to the details in nature. 

For instance when I am with Barbora I notice bugs. Because she has always been fascinated by them I am on the lookout for interesting insects. I want the satisfaction of pointing them out to her. 


Collecting bits of nature and walking helped us to talk more freely, because we had something to do. It made us each feel more comfortable, instead of feeling awkward after not having seen one another for so long. 

In the evening we sat around my dining room table and doodled together. We drank more tea. Talked some more. Then my mother drove us back to the city where we said goodbye to Barbora.  The time I spend at home in the Czech Republic always has a bittersweet flavour, because I am always aware that my time here is short.


I loved being with my sister. That girl has been a friend to me for almost six years. We have each moved to a different country to study: me to America and she to Germany for a semester. But she has still made me feel like I could rely on her. I pray that I can be a support to her from afar in the same way that she has been for me.

Love,

Lucy Rose 

PS
Here is more about my time at home.
More about Barbora.  
About trip to Arkansas. 


Sunday, August 23, 2015

5 Blogs


Darling Readers,

Today has been pretty crazy as I have been preparing to fly back to Wheaton tomorrow. I have been visiting people, spending time with my family and packing. Not to mention going to church!

Today I wanted to share some blogs that I have been loving lately. I have newly discovered them. They make me smile, inspire me and are beautiful internet things. I hope you enjoy them too.

Have a lovely Day of Rest!



Blogs I Have Been Loving:

1. A Girl, Obsessed: Girly topics, style and make-up. This blogger is savvy. She makes being a woman fun.

2. The Dainty Squid: I love the photos, rich colours and quirky perspective this blogger provides.

3. The Bohemian Collective: A series of boho-sheik bloggers collaborate on this whimsical and gorgeous blog. It always make me want to wear beads and wander in fields.

4. WonderForest: This blogger gives tons of practical blogging advice. She is frank and super knowledgable on how to grow your web presence.

5. Oana Befort: She is a mother and an illustrator. I love how she makes her daily life into an art-form. Beautiful watercolour work.

Bonus: The Everywhereist: Funny and well-informed. This blogger knows what's up in the world and gives a funny spin on it.

Love,
Lucy Rose

PS
I will try super hard to post tomorrow! It might not happen though...
PPS
Here is last week's roundup of songs.
My obsessions.
Texan obsessions.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

New to Pinterest: Learning to Pin

Greetings Blog Readers, 

I am not from this planet. I am from the planet of No Pinterest. 
I have recently arrived on your planet and I have seen this thing of Pinterest. 
I would like to become fluent in its usage. 

                                                                   Sincerely,
                                                                   Alien on Planet Pinterest 

OK. Silliness aside, it is true that I am completely new to Pinterest. I avoided signing up, because I thought I couldn't keep up with yet another social media outlet. I mean, like, I already have Facebook, Ok?! But I always enjoyed browsing my friend Joanna's browsing Pinterest boards. I loved how she curated the finds from her internet browsing. It seemed like such a sleek way to deal with the barrage of images and information that the internet offers.

One time I opened an account, but I refused to follow anyone or let the follow me. 
I was afraid of getting Pinterest emails in the same way I used to get Facebook emails. It was like anti-social social media patronisation. To this Joanna said, "That is a really dumb reason. You know you can just block those emails if you don't want them."

Thanks, Jo. What a sweetie.

ANYWAY. I am now celebrating the birth of my new Pinterest account. Hooray!


I am learning new things like:
- How to pin things
- What a "board" is
- How to install an icon with a tiny Pinterest 'P' on it
- How to be ethical in my pinning (I did my research and read 
  this article in preparation)

All of this is entirely too exciting. You observe a flurry of pinning in the next few days. It is going to be amaze balls. At this moment I already have three pins on my single board, which I have titled "Feeling Cultured".

Go ahead. Check it out. I know you are dying to.

Yours truly,
Lucy Rose, A Confessed Pinterest Alien


PS
Here is another post about the time I learned CPR. 
Here is a post about when I took Krav Maga. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Long Distance-Dating: Part IV - Interview with Sheldon (The Guy's Perspective)

Darling People,

Sheldon, my dear boyfriend, sent me the answers to my interview on long-distance dating! Here it is. I loved reading his answers, because I totally hear his voice in them. 

I hope you enjoy his perspective as much as I!

Love,
LR

1. What is the hardest thing about long-distance dating?
The distance. When you are far from one you love, communication (which means literally, "sharing") has to be mediated and fragmented. You can't share as much, and it's easy to lose a sense of the other person as they really are.

2. What helps make it easier?
It helps a lot to know that we will see each other again fairly soon. I'm sure it would be much harder without that knowledge. I also cherish any chance to hear LucyRose speak. A person's voice (more than their image, I believe) can remind you of who someone actually is. It manifests their specificness and personality and makes it easier to care for them and remember their presence. 

3. Are there any benefits from long-distance dating?
I suppose it gives you a critical distance from your relationship. I'm not sure that's always a good thing, but it can help you to evaluate what you're relationship is doing. Who is it serving? Where is it going? You can evaluate these things at short-distance, too, though.


4. Has long-distance dating helped you learned anything new about the two of us as people?
I think long-distance dating makes it easier to learn about one's self and harder to learn about the other person. That said, long-distance-ness doesn't prevent a relationship from growing. I've learned recently that we have different perspectives on photographs and movies. I've also read a lot of LucyRose's writing recently and seen much more clearly who she is in writing.



Thursday, August 20, 2015

Three Things: Fake Birks and Eau de Toilette...


I bought these for 150 Czech crowns (about 5$) from a lady in the tiny mall in our town. They have held up well and I believe it is real leather. Not quality leather, but real. Comfy and so easy to wear with socks. Hah! So stylish...


Bought this in England with some friends after we talked about the need we had to feel fresh and elegant despite our rumpled, travelling state. It works. I feel feminine when I wear it. I do all the time now, even though I used to think it gaudy and artificial. I wear this one.


I bought this on a whim in my favourite stationary shop. The same ladies have worked there for over ten years. They are always curt, but not unfriendly. I keep it with me and make random sketches in it. I love the size (European A6) and the recycled paper. Plus, it was made here at home in Czech at the Papirny Brno company. 

PS
Here is last week's Three Things.

Here is my series on Sketching Tips:

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Long Distance-Dating: Part III - 5 Big Struggles

Dear Blog Friends,

I promised you an interview with my boyfriend Sheldon about long-distance dating from the guy perspective. Unfortunately there are severe storms and tornado watches in his area. He had to go the the basement of the library instead of reply to my interview questions.  I will post his interview when he is able to send it. Keep him safe, Lord! 

Today I will focus on some of the biggest challenges that long-distance daters face. Remember these might be different for you guys. 

1. Building a Fake Conception of the Other Person
Sheldon and I both become aware that the longer we date long-distance (DLD) the more we begin to build up this weird, cyber version of the other person in our minds. Because we are only interacting through Skype and emails we have a limited lens of one another.


We start to forget what it is like to be together in daily life.
Sometimes the phantom version is idealised, because we have forgotten the flaws and idiosyncrasies, but sometimes they are demonised. The scary part is how much it depends on my mood.

2. Misunderstanding Tiny Gestures:
He didn't email me back right away. He signed the email with "Sincerely" instead of "All the love I possess in my soul". He didn't comment on the joke I made in my e-mail.

He hates me.
OK, I am exaggerating. But only a little, because when our contact is so limited I start to hinge on the tiniest details and make a big deal out of them. I have learned that I need to always give Sheldon the benefit of the doubt. Do I? No, not always. But he does for me, so I aspire to that.

3. Trust and Meeting Other People:
Other people don't know that I have a boyfriend unless I tell them. So when I travel guys sometimes approach me in a way that they wouldn't if they could see a boyfriend lurking in the shadows somewhere. This was was a little annoying this summer when I travelled to England. I wasn't harassed by men, by any means, but there some times when I would have like to point out to a couple of them that I was in a relationship.
DLL can be hard because there is an obligation to let everyone know you are committed. But if you are not wearing a ring, how will people know to back off? This issue could have stressed us out a lot while dating if we didn't trust one another a whole lot: What if Sheldon is getting hit on? What is Lucy Rose is flirting with other guys? 

That doesn't mean we always feel great about all those predatory single people who want to wrench us apart.

4. Balancing Deep Talk with Silly Talk: 
This one might be just me. But it is so hard to strike the balance between serious, deep stuff and light hearted goofiness,  because of nature of internet communication.

There are days when we Skype and talk about the dumbest stuff. We play with the lighting in the room and make our limbs look like they are shining...Usually our solution is to accept the weird waves of emotion.

Another thing we do is warn each other about serious topics. Like this: Sheldon, I have been thinking about The Plague. I want you to also think about The Plague so that we can talk about it next time. Then on the next Skype date we talk about it and it is easier because we have both been on the same page.

5. Just Plain Missing Them
I have a lot of ups and downs of missing Sheldon. There are days when it is a constant ache and days when it doesn't get me down. I actually appreciate the hard days because it means that I really care about him. It helps confirm that.
Long-distance dating requires so much confirmation. Over and over. You have to validate fifty times more than in a normal relationship, because of all the uncertainty.

I also find that missing Sheldon is helpful, because it spurs me on to communicate with him. When I miss him it makes me wan to write a letter or send an email. It also helps me to appreciate him more when we finally reunite.


Well, that's all for now, Blog Folk. Have a wonderful day. 
May the Lord protect all you who are near scary weather!

Love,
Your Expert Dating Counsellor

PS
Here is a post about the time Sheldon left for Italy.
Here is a random post about people who lick their fingers. 
Here is a post from Sheldon's birthday. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Long Distance-Dating: Part II - Interview With a Military Wife (My Grandma)


Dear Friends,

Yesterday, I talked about ways to stay connected while dating long-distance. Today
I interviewed my grandmother, who is visiting from Texas, about how she stayed in contact with my grandpa while he was stationed with the Air Force in Vietnam.
You can see her in the above photo in the sleeveless blouse and yellow skirt talking to Mamaw, her mother.

Grandpa recently told us how his orders had been misdirected and he ended up in Vietnam instead of Thailand. We laughed at the story, but I saw that my grandmother's face was perfectly serious throughout. I thought: This must be hard 
for her to make light of, because during the events of this "funny" story she was preparing for the hardest year of her life.


What follows is my interview with my grandmother about that hardest year of her life. While my grandpa was in Vietnam she was home alone with my mom, who was nine-years-old, and my Uncle Dale, who was 6-years-old.

Where did you live for that year?
We bought a house in Plainview, Texas, which was right across the street from my mother. I could send Sharon over to her house to practice piano in the afternoons while Dale played outside in the backyard and let me rest. She could also watch the kids. It was a real help to me.

How often did you get to communicate with Grandpa and by what means?
I wrote him a letter probably three times a week and Charles was able to telephone sometimes through an operator on one of the ships. He was able to say something to me and then he would say, "Over," and it was my turn to say something. When I finished I said, "Over,". But it was heard by all the ships so the conversation was kept light. Dale had to have his tonsils removed during that time and Charles was so worried about him and mother came over to help. 


Did you get many letters from Grandpa? 
Charles was very faithful in sending letters. He also sent a tape recording of his voice to his children so they could hear his voice. I was so anxious to hear from him and the fact that we were communicating was so important to me. When he sent the tape and the kids got to listen to his voice I know that it affected Sharon more than Dale. Both of them missed him so much. At night I would sit in the rocking chair and I would read or something and make sure they were asleep. Dale especially would wake up in the night and need attention. 


What was it like being "single" for a whole year? 
One day my brother Clyde took me to get my car fixed. And Clyde mentioned mentioned to the mechanic that my husband was in Vietnam. The next day Dale said, "Mom, the sheriff is coming for you." I looked out the window and this man, the mechanic who had worked on the car, was coming up the front walk. I was talking to Blanche, you know, who was in Hawaii, and I said, "Blanche, don’t hang up." 

I held on to the phone and made it look like I was having a very important telephone conversation. The man must have seen that and seen that Dale was home, because he turned around. He didn’t even get to the porch. Clyde told me later that he liked to chase skirt, "Don’t ever let him in the house, Lee Ona." But Clyde always went to him, because he was a good mechanic. 
Thank you, Grandma, for sharing about your life. 

I love you,
Lucy Rose

PS 
Tomorrow I will interview Sheldon about his perspective on dating long distance. 

PPS
Here is a super old post about the last time my grandma visited...seven years ago!
Here is another grandparent post.
Here is a Sheldon related post to get you excited about tomorrow.
(Mailbox photo by Daria Nepriakhina, hands photo by Roman Drits via StockSnap.io)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Long-Distance Dating: Part I - Staying Connected

Dear Friends,

Sheldon and I have dated long-distance for 11 out of the 22 months we have been together. Anyone who has dated long-distance knows how hard it can be. You start to forget what the person looks like.  You forget their name. Wait. Just kidding. But you do forget how they sound. You have fears about them meeting cooler, better-looking people on every street corner, etc.

We survived long-distance while he studied abroad in Italy and when I went to England and the Czech Republic. While we are not pros, we have discovered some things which helped to ease the pain.

I want to talk about our journey of dating long-distance with a three part series. I will share some of the methods which have helped us keep in touch, interview Sheldon about his perspective, and talk about some of the hard parts.

1. Embrace the Strangeness: This mostly mostly pertains to Skype, but can apply to other forms of communication. It feel bizarre when you haven't seen Lover Boy/Girl for a week and then you turn on Skype and now his face is right there, but the sound is terrible and the image blurry. It can feel awkward. That is OK. Tell them about it. Laugh. Cry. Whatever you need to do. Give yourselves time to adjust. Usually, we find that after the first few minutes we get over it, because we are so excited to talk. We even forget about the poor quality. But sometimes I cannot get over the weirdness of Skype. That is also OK.

2. Be Clear About Expectations: It helps to give one another a clear idea of how much communication you need in order to feel cared for by the other person. That can take while to figure  out. Everyone's level is different. It took us a couple months before I realised that I felt neglected and needed to hear from Sheldon more often. I told him about it and he worked on checking in more frequently.

3. Plan Skype Carefully: At the end of each Skype date Sheldon and I plan the time of our next conversation. Sometimes, our other plans were still forming or we don't know when our travels would next bring us to Internet. But we tried to make an estimate. This helps take away some of the anxiety of being away from each other. It gives the relationship a some of security during a time of uncertainty. Also it was something I could look forward to.
4. Keeping a Notebook: We did this during the half year Sheldon was in Italy. We each kept a journal in which we periodically wrote notes to one another. Half way through we switched notebooks by post. When I had a hankering to talk to him I could whip out the notebook and jot down my thoughts. I felt like I was communicating with Sheldon instantly, even he would read it later. This was useful for random thoughts or doodles rather than pressing info. But I loved it, because we now have two books filled with letters.

Thanks for reading, Guys. I know that not all of these are suited to every couple. Do you have any good tips for long-distance?

Love,
Lucy Rose

Sunday, August 16, 2015

5 Songs

Hello, Good People,

It is Sunday! 

Rest day. 

I thought I would share some of the songs that I have been loving this week.
Enjoy and have a great weekend!

2. Hvězdář, UDG (This English title of this Czech song is "Stargazer")


Love,
Lucy Rose

PS
Today I am experimenting with having no phone from 12 AM on Saturday to 12 AM on Sunday. Granted, this is easier since I can't text or call while I am out of the States...So, we'll see how it goes! 

PPS
Thanks to those who introduced me to these cool artists: David, Petra, Dad, PH and Joanna.  I am not cool enough to have found them alone. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Society6 - Prints For Sale!

Dear Blog Reading Public,

I am really excited about something. I have discovered a cool website called Society6, which invites artists to take their own design and have merchandise be created out of them. I created three prints using my homemade stamp collection. Now my prints are available to buy as iPhone cases, T-Shirts and tote-bags.

So exciting!

Here is where you can find my designs.

Much love,
Lucy Rose


Friday, August 14, 2015

Story Time: At the Hair Salon


A white haired old man walked into the room and sat down on one of the black leather benches. His request for a simple shampoo and trim was met with a kind exclamation from Evelina, our hair stylist. Evelina relinquished the care of the slim, neatly dressed man to two of her teenage minions. The young hairstylists in training helped the man slip out of his tan jacket and carefully place his horn-rimmed glasses on the window sill for sake-keeping. 

“Please don’t let me forget those, Young Ladies.” 

They tilted the man’s head back and began to shampoo his thick white hair in the specially shaped sink. One of the girls did the rinsing and gentle massaging of the man’s scalp, while the other periodically wiped the trickles of water from his forehead. From my spot on the bench I could see his expression of complete relaxation. My mother would call the expression “blissed out”, which sounds like a hippie phrase. 

The whole scene, which I observed while waiting for my grandmother to finish having her hair cut,  reminded me of a scene from Book Six of The Odyssey. Odysseus washes up onto the shore after he has finished a terrible battle in the sea and his body is worn and depleted. His good looks are gone. But he is discovered by some handmaidens who help him to find clothing and provide him with oils to bathe his skin. After he bathes his beauty is restored. 

I expected that the man would stand up from the sink and his skin would have become taught and youthful from the gentle massaging of the girl’s plump hands and the fragrant shampoos. But that didn't happen. Instead he walked over to a chair and got a haircut. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Three Things

1.
Pears:
They are so beautiful. They always make me think of still life paintings
 by someone like the Spanish artist Cotán. I love it when fruit feels translucent and
the flesh is speckled with those tiny pores. Like human skin. I derive a similar pleasure from the representation of human flesh in some Pixar animated
films like Up. The old man in Up has wonderful translucent flesh. 
2. 
Watercolour Box
This was given to me on my birthday when I turned 
20 by one of my brothers. We have all forgotten 
whether it was my older brother, Patrick, or my younger 
one, Paul Hugh. Whatever the (watercolour) case may be, 
I love this object, because it is a beautiful piece of wood. 
I use it allthe time and often carry it with me in my 
purse or backpack. It is one of the few art tools
a) I use on a highly regular basis,
 b) is aesthetically pleasing, and 
c) is portable. 

Thanks, Indeterminate Brother. 

3. 
Tea Cup and Saucer
My mother has had this tea cup around for a while, 
but it always sat on the shelf unused. I loved it from afar thinking that it was 
something she didn't want people drinking from. This week she did a clean-out 
of some of her Polish pottery collection and decided to get rid of this cup, 
because no one ever used it. She offered it to me and my heart leapt for joy. 
I have been using it for my morning espresso, which I brew in one of these
It makes my breakfast so much cooler with its beauty. 

Sorry, I couldn't quite capture it. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Coming Soon: A New Blog Series!


Dear Friends,

Starting tomorrow I am going to start a new blog series called Three Things. I love to celebrate simple objects that make life good. I always feel a tiny spark of joy if I can drink my coffee out of a pretty mug rather than a styrofoam cup. Or if I can use the red hand mirror which was given to me by my friend to put on my lipstick.

It just makes life better.

I was inspired to start this series because I enjoy a blog called Cupcakes and Cashmere. One of my favourite things that the blogger does regularly is a series called Five Things. Every week she shares photos of five things from her week that she loves.

I want to borrow this idea, because it's great. Yeah, I know. Three things is wimpier than five...but I can't copy completely! I will try to post these on Thursdays. Three Things Thursday. Gotta have an alliteration. I plan to either draw the items or take photos. I might use a variety of mediums depending on how I feel and what I have around.

I hope that you like this series. I am getting excited about it, but also a little nervous. Keeping up with the structured lifestyle of a regular series might be hard! I will probably let you guys down on occasion. Can you vow to forgive me when that happens? This whole things feels pretty official and I don't know if our relationship is ready to become "official".

But, let us take the leap together.

Love,
Lucy Rose

PS
Here is the first of a 30-day series in which I posted a doodle-a-day.

Getting Over Culture Clash Anxiety and Living the Czech Dream

Hello Readerz:)

Yesterday I got to live the Czech dream (Český sen). Or at least it is the Czech dream as imagined by my closest group of Czech friends. I travelled by train, tram and bus to the outskirts of the city of Ostrava, where we all went to art school together and where my friends live. We brought along provisions and sleeping bags and the four of us camped out in my friend's family garden plot*.

So! What is the Czech dream? It consists of these elements:

- Sitting around a fire
- Singing favourite folk songs (which all of us had learned in Czech primary school) while someone (Barbora) plays guitar
- Roasting 'špekačky' (I just looked this up and the word literally translates into "little fatty"), which are the Czech equivalent of hot dogs, served with plenty of mustard and eaten with Czech rye bread
- Sharing a bottle of Moravian wine
- Talking about deep stuff
- Talking about non-deep stuff 


In the morning we walked to the store to buy instant coffee and tea. Then we sat around the garden table in the morning light and enjoyed our eclectic and abundant breakfast.  



Yesterday on my blog I wrote about the difficulties that come along with culture clash. I talked about how it can catch you as an unpleasant surprise. But today I got to celebrate the fruits of slogging through difficult culture clashes--a special time with my dear friends. Most of that time was spent over food and laughter. Some of it was in serious conversation and some in remembering. 

I have to admit that I was not looking forward to meeting these friends earlier in the day, precisely because of a fear of those culture clashes. I thought, "Will we still have stuff to talk about even though we all live such completely different lives now?"
But I stopped and realised this: These friends will love me and care about me despite the ways that our two cultures are different. 

Love,
Lucy Rose 

*In the Czech Republic people who live in apartments sometimes own a plot of land which they cultivate and hang out in on the weekends. Often the garden plot will have a tiny hut with a sink, a table and maybe a toilet. Ali does have a toilet, but we preferred the raspberry bushes. Fewer spiders. No, we do not eat the raspberries.

PS 
Here is Part I of a post about the entry process for my art school.
Here is Part II.
Here is a post about my final project for art school. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Jack-in-the-Box of Culture Clash

Hi Guys,

You can become comfortable in a different culture. You can work your butt off to learn the language. Maybe on a good day you are even mistaken for a native. You can teach yourself the habits of that culture and even start to adopt them as your own. But when you live in a different culture or even interact with one on a regular basis things are hard. There are days when cultural differences pop up like a Jack-in-the-Box and yell in your face: "Remember me!? I am back! You thought you had the hang of this, but you don't!"

That happened today when we went to Tesco, a British chain of supermarket. My family has a long, fraught history with Tesco. It the often the precise place where our cultural Jack-in-the-Boxes (CJITB) surprise us. One reason Tesco is a prime place for CJITB is because it reminds us of home. We have been able to find rare products like Caesar salad dressing there. It is therefore even more jarring when we have an misunderstanding with a clerk, like today. We say to ourselves, "We thought we were operating on American customer relations standards!" But we weren't.



Czechs and Americans view the customer-proprietor relationship vastly differently:

American Customer-Proprietor Relationship Mentality:
When a customer enters an American supermarket they are king. They are the one paying the money and making the business thrive, therefore the proprietors consider it in their best interest to treat you with respect and deference. "You don't like our service? We will quickly adapt to your wishes, if we can, because we need your business."

Czech Customer-Proprietor Relationship Mentality:
The Czech customer sets foot in the kingdom of the supermarket proprietor. They are the ruler, because without them you would not have groceries. It is therefore the customer's job to adapt to their rules. "You don't want to adapt? Fine. Leave."

I recently shopped for a couple groceries with my younger brother, Isaac. A clerk became extremely impatient with me when I struggled to figure out the self-check-out machine.

In my mind I was like: "This woman can see I am struggling. She should help me. She is not doing her job as a proprietor."

But she probably thought: "This woman is being inefficient. By holding up the line she is costing our business valuable time. She is not doing her job as a customer. "

What do you we do? Cultural differences, which bring up your deep beliefs of right and wrong, are going to sneak up on you sooner or later. It is not going to be pretty. But taking away the element of surprise helps lessen the blow.

I have learned to say: "I am entering a different culture. It is not easy. In fact it makes easy things hard. I will get hurt and I will hurt. But I will also have gains. I will know that there is not one way of living life. I will learn to be more humble and respectful of different views. I will get to enjoy spots of rich cultural exchange and I know that I will have to work through all the hurt to get to them. Will it be worth it? Yes."

What do you guys think about this? Do you agree with me? Have you experienced this kind of thing recently?

Thanks for listening to me on this. I know I haven't touched on every facet of this issue.
Love,
Lucy Rose

PS
Here is a post about a Czech lady whom I greatly admire.
Here is one about when I took the SATs in Prague.