Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Words I Promised Days Ago

All I can say is this, the last 20 days have been non stop for me. I have been either on the go or trying to recover from being on the go. The Jet Lag coming back killed me, even with all the measures taken. I need to figure out a better system for returning home to Bratislava from the US. So I have been spending the last 8 days restoring order to my universe, at least the part of it I control. I have also been taking care of a lot of things I have been putting off that needed to get done since I have returned.

So for my trip to America. I had a great time and got to spend so much of my time with friends and family. I was not able to see everyone as I only visited Richmond and New Jersey and some of my family where in other places. I also got to see so old friends from high school who I had not seen in years. It was all so seamless in the way I was able to see people, one right after the other. While in Richmond I was driving a ton and loving that, It had been about 5 months since I had driven. I was trying to get so many things done so I can get my visa for Slovakia, finally. The last documents I needed showed up yesterday in Virginia and our on there way here now. I hope by July 1st everything will be done, if not sooner, I have hope. I also hit all the places I wanted to eat when I was in Richmond except Dot's Back Inn. I never heard from my friend Carol Ann and with out her it is not worth going. (next time girl.) But most of all I enjoyed telling my stories about Slovakia and my job teaching. I really do love being in Slovakia. And teaching is the frosting on the cake. It was the thing I looked forward to returning so I could tell me students my stories about my trip. (which I have done some of, but just scratched the surface.) After 4 days I headed north back to New Jersey, with a quick stop in Washington DC to get a new passport. (Which turned out to be a surprisingly painless process.) I then spent the next 3 days hanging out with my dad and step mom and taking care of electronics issues I was having with the SlingBox. I also took care of some electronics upgrades for my dads entertainment system. I ended up installing a new HD SlingBox and a new HD TIVO for my dad. I now have access to almost unlimited programing choices now. I then headed towards the beach for the last few days of my trip. I meet up with friends at the beach house in Bay Head for three days of drinking, smoking, eating, and hard core UNO card games. This was the 15th year that Jake (and his wife Char), Alex, Clem and myself have gotten together for our version St. Patrick's Day. (if doesn't have to be March 17th for it to be S.P.D.) I have known the three of them since I meet them on my Outward Bound trip 16 years ago. Those 3 guys have changed my life in so many great ways I wish we could see more of each other. So after 3 great days I headed back to my dads house for a ride to the airport for my flight home.

Jet Lag and my attempts to combat it have been an ongoing struggle for the last few years. Flying to the US is easy since I gain 6 hours when I land in New York, as long as I can stay awake the first night until 9:30 p.m. east coast time, 3:30 a.m. SK time I am fine. I will wake up early that first day but that is the only real effect I get, I do go to bed earlier than I would if i was home but I also get up earlier and doing a lot so I am tired. But when I return I loose 6 hours. My flight leave around 6:00 p.m. and land 8 hours later, if I am flying directly to Vienna. So when I land it is 8:00 a.m but my body feels like it is 2:00 am. Now if I can sleep on the plane this helps. If for whatever reason I get little or no sleep I am screwed but if I can get 5.5 to 6 hours that helps a lot. This trip was not a direct flight but included a 3 hour layover in London. So I knew sleep on that 6.5 hour leg of the trip was the key to my success or failure to beat the jet lag. I was prepped and ready to go. I had with me 2 bagels with cream cheese, 3 mg of Melatonin, 2 mg of Valium and .5 a liter of water, an extra pillow, the worlds greatest eye shades, and Bose noise canceling headphones connected to my ipod to listen to the flight sleep mix. Now here are the keys you need to make all of this work. When you get on the politely ask a flight attendant for an extra pillow if they have one. Next get yourself prepped for comfort and arrange the things you have to help for the flight. As soon as everything is pulled out of my carry on and I have stowed everything else in the overhead bin. You will want the legroom so don't leave stuff under the seat. Once the shoes are off and I have everything arranged I start eating the bagels. You need to carbo load as soon as you can. This will induce food coma in about 45 minutes, about the same time you reach 10000 ft. Now you wait until the plane begins to push back from the gate and watch the safety demonstration. Remember, Safety is No Accident. As soon as the pilot tells the flight attendants to sit for take off this is when you take the pills. If you take them before you run the risk of having to return to the gate all loopy if there is a problem with the plane before take off. As soon as you take off pop on the headphones and the eyeshades and wait 5 minutes and recline your seat back and start the Pink Floyd Playlist. My 45 minute playlist is just 3 songs, Dogs, Shine On You Crazy Diamond parts 1-7 and Shine On you Crazy Diamond parts 8-12 set to repeat. The combination of high carbs, melatonin, valium and music combine to put you quickly into a blissful slumber. If you are lucky you will sleep for the whole flight. I only woke up once about an hour and a half into the flight for about 20 minutes. I missed the meal service but did not care, it's airplane food and unless you are in business class you are not missing much. I woke up about 40 minutes before we landed in London. So part one of the battle was won. I then spent the next few hours walking around and shopping in the duty free area while I waited for my flight to Vienna. I was not too tired as boarded the next flight but was able to sleep for 1.5 of the 2 hour flight using the same methods as before minus the pills and the bagels. Stage 2 won. I cleared passport control without a word, just a smile and stamp. I collected my bags and cleared customs. (Customs in Vienna: they don't really have customs, there are a few agents near by but in the dozen or so times I have been through Vienna I have never seen them stop anyone. This accounts for the reason I went to America with 22 kg of stuff and returned with an additional 23 kg of cloths, electronics, cameras, perfumes and 7 cartons of smokes.) I then meet my taxi driver John and we headed home. The only thing I had to do was stay awake until about 10:30 p.m. and I would wake up fine and back on schedule having defeated the Jet Lag. I made one error in my plan. I did not give much thought to what I would eat when I returned. So about 2 p.m. I had a big sandwich, french fries and a chocolate milk. Huge mistake by 4 p.m. I was feeling the effects of the heavy carbs beginning to put me into food coma, requiring a nap. So at around 4:25 I decided that since Kate would be coming home from work in about a half hour and wake me up it would be OK to sleep for about 30 minutes. I did not set a backup alarm incase she came later, mistake number 2. I slept until about 6:20 when she did return. This is how I lost the final battle and ultimately the war with Jet Lag. I was not able to get to sleep until about 5:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. I then spent the next 4 days trying to slowly work my body clock forward. By Friday I felt back to normal.

Since I have been back I have gotten a lot of things done that I have been wanting to do but never got the chance. I came back with 10 poster size prints of some of my favorite photos to hang up in the flat. Fixed a bunch of little things around the flat that needed attention. Put together the Pond Cottage video below. And of course, taught. I missed teaching more than anything while I was away. I could not wait to get back to all of my classes. So durning my breaks instead of smoking I would go visit the other classes I teach but didn't have that night just to say hello and catch up with everyone and show a few photos to some of them. Let me say it again, I love teaching and enjoy every class I get to teach, I feel so great after each class even on the Thursdays when my day starts at 7:00 am and I teach until 9:00 p.m. with only a 2 hour break where I am at home between my morning and afternoon classes. So to my students who might read this, thanks and keep up your hard work, it will pay off for you.

So that brings you up to date, I have a few more things I am working on and will post as soon as I can. I am getting into doing more videos of my images these days and you will see them as I do them. Thanks again for reading my ramblings.

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