Friday, August 18, 2006


My birthday went by not long ago, and was celebrated in various ways at various times. My writing group made sure to take care of the event somewhat in advance in case I ran off back to Prague before they could see me again, and provided a very good cake. While I didn't quite have a chance to make a wish before blowing out the candles, we all thought the cake went well with an impromptu sauce of backyard plums.
My parents' card offered the following interesting sentiment: "To age is human... not to show it, absolutely divine." While it is true my appearance has not changed all that much in a good many years, I think I have inherited this trait from my mother, who has been told (by a Czech plastic surgeon we knew for many years, no less) that she never changes. Or, of course, there is the Dorian Gray hypothesis. (I am not going to reveal where I keep the portrait.)
My birthday itself was marked by such exciting tasks as getting plane tickets for Prague and picking up new glasses (lenses). I would not normally schedule such things for my birthday, but with terrorist activity being what it has been lately, I decided I needed professional help in avoiding Heathrow. Usually, British Airways is the cheapest way for me to get to Prague, but this fall did not seem like the best time to avail myself of their services. Their web site indicated that airlines flying through Heathrow were supposed to cut flights by 30% and that about all you could take in the cabin would be keys and glasses, preferably in a see-through plastic bag. I suppose I could tolerate that if I had to, but I really did not want to spend a transatlantic flight playing with my house keys and extra glasses. Besides, after John's laptop screen was ruined in the checked baggage, I am not too anxious to put my new laptop anywhere where it will be flung around by baggage handlers. Consequently, I told the travel agent that I needed to go to Prague and was willing to go to any airport in Europe except Heathrow, and preferably to avoid the UK entirely. After all, while terrorist activity can occur anywhere in the world, it is my impression that the Americans and British are particularly disliked at the moment, so there is no point in mixing the two. Now, if Air India flew to Prague, I would be quite content, as I enjoyed their service on my last trip to Britain. But there was no sign that Air India was a possibility. My itinerary will involve a German-speaking city rather than London-Heathrow and we can only hope for a smooth and unproblematic voyage.
As for the glasses, I had not been satisfied with the close-up portion of my Czech glasses. It did not seem possible to read comfortably out of any part of them. The staff at UC Berkeley's eye clinic assured me that the prescription seemed just fine, but admitted that the Europeans grind lenses differently and that there are many ways of making progressive lenses. I pointed out that I spend the majority of my time reading and working at the computer, so they fiddled around with things a bit and came up with glasses that will only work close up. While this is not my ideal, they didn't think my frames would accommodate all the distances, so I will have to learn to carry around two pairs of glasses all the time and swap them constantly. So far this has not been too bad since both the distance and the close-up prescriptions work well and I can tolerate temporary blurriness on whatever distance I'm not wearing. (Of course, we will see how this works on challenges like muddy night-time bus schedules posted above my head; I may have to rely on Jesse to read them for me again.)
But... so far it is not bad being a year older. I have no complaints yet and John did take me out for Thai food on my birthday.


Blogger Julia said...

Happy belated Birthday and when are you back?

August 19, 2006 11:25 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

I'm scheduled to get in on September 12.

August 19, 2006 4:10 PM  

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