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October 23, 2000
about my flight to America, confusion with mountains, and not being used to be Mrs. Paral.
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Hi everybody,
so I just slightly exhumed myself, made some coffee and thought I would let you briefly know... not that much would have happened, with my coming to America, I did not sprout any green antennae, and Bill Clinton was not waiting for me to give me a double "Khruschchev" hug.

Well, I managed to fly out of Prague, with my two bags quite below the eighty pound limit, but still it was a lot. Fortunately for me I have parents who helped to be beasts of burden. On my way to London I managed to read Koktejl magazine fist to last page and back again, thus I exhausted the sum of my reading materials for the rest of the journey (there you see, how "exciting" flying is for me).

In London, I quickly insisted myself upon BA stand, to ask for a possible free window seat for my San Francisco flight. You can guess - there was none. Then I hurriedly stepped towards departures. Having just one hour twenty minutes to change planes on Heathrow is no fun, especially if you change terminals, too. So to be sure I rolled all the way to the gate, where I found I made a mistake -- there is no bathroom at the gate. And I had two coffees on my flight from Prague, but more importantly I wanted to take advantage of a lavatory, which would not hit me with its walls, and which would not be in great demand by several hundred people simultaneously. So I had to disembark. It was some twenty five minutes to final boarding, and I did not anticipate to have much chance on the plane with all people standing in the aisles and stuffing their bags into bins and generally maintaining their confusion. Moreover, I have been trained for trains: cannot use the facility until underway. So I went against the stream, surprising the attendants. Not that they would be surprised by me and by what I was doing (all attendants must be issued some special make up which dries into a mask of impersonal, professional grin; having seen our wedding video I reckon that I could never be a flight attendant :-). They were surprised because I had NOT been registered before. Though they had simply ran my ticket through the computer when I boarded the plane, it must have decided to forget such silly thing as myself, and forget it did. Luckily I re-boarded. If I were relying on going in the plane, we would have never taken off... they would find that they had my bags loaded, but no passenger, so they would wait for me. Then somebody would count all aboard and figure that I WAS aboard, and then they would page -- Ms. Paralova, Ms. Paralova (just like the official at the ID counter did, and at the wedding registry in Brno, and at the driver licenses department, and at the bank) -- and I would have sat and gaped and cursed, when will this Paralova take notice and turn up so we can finally get on with our business (just like I did at the wedding registry, at the ID department, at the driver licenses department, and at the bank).

On the plane I got a seat in the window column, but in the middle. A very nice lady, from Switzerland, had the place by the aisle, and the window seat remained empty. When our departure approached, she asked me if I minded moving over to the window so we could put our stuff on the seat between us. She might have as well asked me if I was interested in a million dollars -- those who fly a lot do not need explanation. Even in a coffin, one can stretch one's feet ... but not in an airline seat! So the idea of a free seat next to you is unbelievably sweet. Nevertheless I assured her that the seat won't stay free for long, and in the last moment, a big, old, fat, chap would turn up, who will snore and drool all the way to California (just to make her appreciate that she would be gently purred and dribbled at by Neufussova -- ehm make that Paralova :-).

And of course in the last moment the passenger for the window seat arrived hurriedly. Fortunately he was neither too old, nor fat, and he did not snore. He wore this kind of face like "...and then I advised Mr. President that...", but he was otherwise sufficiently civilized, so when he noticed how I almost crawled into his lap to see something outside the window, he made enough room to allow me see without leaning much. And there was MUCH to see on the way to America. We flew over Iceland and Greenland, and also over Hudson Bay and much of Canada. Skies were cloudy all the way to Canada, so I watched the movies until then: Chicken Run, which is an animated fairy tale about chickens who want to learn to fly (I think I laughed out LOUD in about two spots) and later something I don't recall the name of, but it was fun, too. Kung-fu Chinese man goes to America on the turn of 20th century, to save a kidnapped Chinese princess, which he does with the help of a cowboy/robber and an Indian wife, whom he gains on this third day in the US. I kept wondering, how they would work it out with the two women (perhaps the Chinese guy, who may be used to multiple wives, would not mind), and they were clever about it -- the cowboy falls in love with the Indian girl, so the Chinese can marry the princess in the end. There I also laughed aloud, because the makers of this movie were making fun of themselves, and mixed final credits with outtakes, like one with the Chinese character, during his kung-fu performance, hitting himself with a horseshoe on a rope, or breaking into laughter during some deadly dialogue. Or getting so excited about the fighting performance of the "princess" that he started to kiss her passionately (in the movie, he would only dare to devoutly hit the floor in front of her by that stage). [Sid's aka Nitpicker's note: Jackie Chan: Shanghai Noon]

And in the moment when the happy ending arrived, I just glanced over my neighbor (he looked businessmanly, and was reading something so seriously that I thought it to be at least some secret FBI documents. In fact, it was a brochure of some company, explaining how all employees get room for their self-empowerment and similar blather - this gentleman was apparently getting a job at a big American company and he was being ideologically prepared) -- I realized that we were over Canada, there were no clouds there and I could see fields on the ground. This changed in an hour into mountains, snow-topped already, and we were somewhere near Calgary. Then it kept being interesting. Firstly we flew over places we had traveled through in the summer with Sid, and secondly it is an experience to see Columbia River from high above. We reached the coast eventually and that was interesting, too, as I could see three solitary mountains. I tried to pry from my co-passengers what these might be, but no-one knew. So I decided that the big one was possibly Mt. Rainier, the smaller one St. Helena, and the closest one Mt. Shasta, but then, to my great horror, I discovered another one like that! This threw me out of my balance, but then the man next to me said that it might be Mt. Washington. Quite possibly we were all wrong...

And then we landed at San Francisco. Somehow everything went smoothly, no jams anywhere, nobody bothered me, and I did not even need to pay for a luggage cart, as Sid had threatened me (on domestic flights to SFO, you may rent your cart for one dollar, which would probably cause some funny scenes at international arrivals). In the moment we were supposed to land (we had actually landed half an hour early, which happened maybe for the first time in my life), we were already waiting for our luggage to pop out. Our captain commented it with a typical British sense of humour, saying that our bags can't be here yet as we were technically still in the air.
Sid waited for me at he exit (he learned online that we were arriving early), and he even managed to clean up the apartment. (I think I married WELL for the only thing in disarray here is my unpacked luggage.)

Right from the airport, we made a small hike to a hill over Pacifica... I found out last time that is helps to get "out to breathe the air" somewhere, first thing out of the plane. Then we made for home, I jumped into the shower, and had a sushi dinner. That is something I looked forward to for all the two months. Miso soup, then small raw fish pieces with rice... we went to Sono Sushi, where food rides on small plates on boats in a channel around the bar. You sit down at the bar, catch what you like, and cooks stand in the middle, making fresh portions.

Today I managed to meet Sid's dentist. He looked sixteen years old and Sid said he was looking forward to meet me... well I guess I didn't really look forward to meet him ... but it was OK, he's not too big, so if he tries to hurt me, I could fight him. We also looked at some cars, and now we're wondering what to do. We had seen one nice Honda Civic, which reminded me of my Olushka, but it does not have air conditioning, and Sid says that's a problem... true, in summertime it is quite warm here... so I don't know... but then again I would need a car quite urgently, as without it I don't get anywhere and would have to stay trapped at home, or I would have to drive Sid to and from work (to have his car available during the day).

And Sid's teeth are hurting, I have an aphtha on my tongue, so we all collectively complain and flush with chamomile tea... what a married life! :-)

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