AK Monthly Recap: February 2021

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This month, I got to enjoy something I hadn’t enjoyed in a while. I ordered a coffee at a cafe. Temperatures were in the low fifties, so I sat down and drank it in a chair placed outside the cafe.

It was sublime.

We’ve been under the strictest restriction since Christmas, yet case numbers are still rising. So we’re about to go into a stricter three-week quarantine with no leaving your district and respirator masks required everywhere.

Outdoor dining is banned, but some shops have been putting a chair or two out in front. They can’t serve you there. But you can sit there if you want after ordering.

It was so nice, we had to do it again. Charlie and I got panzarotti (yes, our neighborhood is so cool that you can get Puglian panzarotti!) and some bitter orange aranciata soda. A few days after that, we got a lobster roll (!) and some mulled wine.

We’re finally past the weeks of freezing temperatures and near-daily snow. It’s starting to feel like spring.

An old red stone building on the edge of a park. The sky is blue and white and there is a few inches of snow on the ground.
We had a lot of beautiful snowy days in February!

Destinations Visited

Prague, Czech Republic

Lewis the gray tabby cat lies on his side and holds a feather-topped stick while staring into the camera, almost as if to say, "Hey ladies!"
Lewis is getting better!

Highlights

Lewis’s bloodwork came back and it was EXCELLENT! Lewis has been fighting FIP since December with GS, a relatively new and somewhat experimental treatment. He has the bloodwork of a healthy cat (!), and this is the best news we could have hoped for.

We thought we would have to extend Lewis’s treatment because we switched from pills to injections on day 17 — but with this bloodwork, we shouldn’t have to. Nine weeks down, three weeks to go!

The GS medication is a miracle. FIP was nearly 100% fatal until GS became commercially available two years ago. Most vets don’t know it exists. I’m so grateful we found it and saved Lewis.

My parents getting their vaccination appointments! My mom got her first vaccination last week and my dad has his first appointment this week. A huge relief.

FINALLY getting my Czech trade license. There were so many unexpected challenges that cropped up, but I’m glad to finally have it — along with being in the Czech healthcare system. I’m still waiting on the partner visa, but my bridge visa has been extended until December, so I’m clear to stay.

Valentine’s Day. Charlie and I went to the Italian market in Prague, bought a metric ton of cured meats and cheeses, and ate them with Aperol spritzes. If we can’t go to Italy, we might as well bring Italy to us.

A viral post! My Solo Female Travel in the Florida Keys post got picked up by Google Discover, sending it a TON of unexpected traffic and breaking my single-day advertising revenue record! I was so pleased.

Google Discover is something you can’t plan or optimize for, but I will be looking to see if there’s anything I can do to make it likelier to happen again.

Murray and Lewis (two gray tabby cats with white bellies and white paws -- Murray is a bit lighter, Lewis has a white stripe on his nose) sitting on the windowsill. They were looking outside but turned around for the photo.
These two little ragamuffins know how to pose.

Challenges

Our vet’s office was exposed to COVID and closed for a week. Last month I mentioned that we were giving Lewis his injections at home; unfortunately, it became too difficult to continue. It’s a very painful, highly acidic injection; Lewis fights viciously and it often leaks. Every time an injection leaks, it’s like losing $15, so we decided to just take him to the vet every day and get it done by professionals. Our vets encouraged us to come every day.

So when Charlie showed up with him and there was a sign on the door explaining that they were closed for COVID exposure and to please go to another clinic, we freaked out.

We tried to give Lewis his shot at home. We failed. Or should I say that I failed.

I suggested to Charlie that we call our old vet — the first vet we went to, the vet who is five minutes from us, the vet who told us that we would have to say goodbye to Lewis. Maybe he could help.

We called him. He agreed to do the daily injections for 100 crowns each — just $4.

Now here’s the amazing part. The admin in charge of the FIP community in the Czech Republic recently translated the study about the GS medication curing FIP into Slovak for the first time. (Slovak can be read by Czechs.) Charlie printed out the study and brought it to our vet.

The next day, our vet said, “That study was very interesting. Can I hold onto it for a bit longer?”

YES! YOU CAN HOLD ONTO IT AS LONG AS YOU WANT!!!!

I hope that between seeing how well Lewis is and reading the study, that our vet will be helping people cure their cats of FIP from now on. For now, we’re going to continue bringing him there for his injections, because a five-minute walk is much easier than a fifteen-minute drive.

COVID numbers rising in the Czech Republic again. And because of that, we now must wear respirator masks in public, not regular masks. I don’t have a problem with that; I don’t even have a problem with our curfew we’ve had since Christmas.

I DO have a problem with the fact that all this time, the Czechs have refused to shut down workplaces. THIS is where COVID is spreading. It’s worse in factories in rural areas, but even here in my neighborhood, we see so many workers sitting at their computers in their offices!

Sloooooooow vaccine rollout in the Czech Republic. Ridiculously, ridiculously slow. Something needs to happen here because this is not sustainable. I’m considering going back to the US for my shot. It might be a lot faster.

A white Baroque building in Prague. It has several layers of rounded windows and crenellation, culminating with a clock and steeple. It's underneath a cloudy sky and there's snow on the ground in front of it.
I love this elegant building in my neighborhood.

Blog Posts of the Month

Solo Female Travel in the Florida Keys — I was delighted to write this in-depth guide to one of my favorite US destinations! You should go. If only for the Hemingway lookalike contest.

Moving Your Luggage Abroad with My Baggage — I recently moved a lot of my belongings from the US to the Czech Republic using a luggage transfer service. Here’s how it went.

What NOT to Do in Croatia: The Biggest Mistakes — Sometimes pieces about what NOT to do can be more helpful that pieces about what to do!

Murray the gray tabby cat sitting on top of the clothes drying rack, his paws on underwear and socks, looking at the camera with an expression of innocence on his face.
Murray has a new favorite spot.

This Month on Patreon

On the Adventurous Kate Patreon, I publish exclusive content and never-told stories that you can access from $6 per month. We also have a private Facebook group and members get free access to the Book Club each month.

Each month I write an original long-form essay, and this month’s essay is about the years I spent waitressing — and how a lot of those waitressing experiences taught me lessons that I applied to the travel world.

Also, a mini-essay on a humble item from my upbringing: the scraper brush that is kept in the car 12 months out of the year.

Book Club This Month

This month’s Book Club will be meeting on Sunday, March 28, at 1:00 PM EST, and we’re traveling to the country of Equatorial Guinea! We are reading La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono — the first book by an Equatorial Guinean woman author to be translated into English. It has since been banned in the country.

“La Bastarda is the story of the orphaned teen Okomo, who lives under the watchful eye of her grandmother and dreams of finding her father. Forbidden from seeking him out, she enlists the help of other village outcasts: her gay uncle and a gang of “mysterious” girls reveling in their so-called indecency. Drawn into their illicit trysts, Okomo finds herself falling in love with their leader and rebelling against the rigid norms of Fang culture.”

You can sign up to attend the book club here. It’s pay-what-you-wish (I suggest $5); Patreon members get free tickets.

What I Listened To This Month

I am a huge fan of the “Chill Low-Fi Beats” playlist on Spotify. This has become my work music, and I feel like I know every contour of the playlist now. Give it a listen! My favorite is “Cooper Lake” by Kyle McEvoy.

Podcast-wise, I gave “Las Culturistas” a listen — I love Bowen Yang on SNL — and listened to their podcast about Britney. BOY DID IT FEEL GOOD to hear that they hate Justin Timberlake as much as I do! I feel like I’ve been shouting into the void for years! And they are so right that his cultural reputation is worsening with time.

What I Watched This Month

What We Do in the Shadows has been the major comedic highlight of the month — and the entire past year! I am obsessed with this show! This has been the hardest I have laughed in quite some time.

What We Do in the Shadows was originally a movie created by and starring Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi about vampires living in present day New Zealand and all the hijinks that ensue. It was a huge success (and under 90 minutes — I LOOOOOVE a tight comedy!), so they turned it into a sitcom on FX (streamable on Hulu) set in Staten Island of all places.

What makes it so good? The fact that it’s so FAST, with so many jokes packed into a short time. And how it takes a common trope — the fish out of water — and turns it on its head in a funny, freaky way.

If you watch anything this month, watch this. Start with the movie, then move to the show. You will love it.

Other highlights: I really enjoyed Nomadland (and also read the book, see below). Really hopeful that Chloe Zhao will be the second woman ever and first woman of color to win the Best Director Oscar.

Also watched Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. That was a weird one. Kind of grateful I didn’t watch it with my Bostonian family for accent reasons.

Framing Britney Spears was devastating. FREE BRITNEY!

On a wooden table: in the background, a large bouquet of pink and yellow daisies with some other pink flowers and greenery. In the foreground: two bright orange aperol spritzes in wine glasses, and a wooden plate covered with various cured meats, olives, and grissini (Italian breadsticks).
Valentine’s Day!

What I Read This Month

This month I read nine books, putting me at a total of 21 for 2021 so far. Maybe I will hit my goal of 100 after all! I also finished five new books in the Book Riot 2021 #ReadHarder challenge.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder (2018) — Employers across America have now discovered a new labor force — older Americans hurt by the financial crisis and unable to retire, who live in RVs and modified vans and travel the country looking for low-wage labor. From beet harvesting to working for Amazon, these people work their bodies to the bone for far too little, but are connected to a strong family of nomads.

This book blew my mind. I had no idea that these people, these communities, existed. It’s an absolutely terrifying book, knowing that you could end up with absolutely nothing at the end of your life, forced into work and road life. This book is not only fascinating but compassionate, and I wanted more time with all the people Bruder profiled. Equally tragic and warm. I won’t be able to stop thinking about it for a long time.

I watched the movie this month, too, and it’s wonderful. But you get more out of it if you read the book first.

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas (2021)The Hate U Give introduced us to Starr Carter and her family. This prequel, taking place in 1998, tells the story of her father Maverick. Maverick finds out he’s a father at age 17, and must make a decision: does he continue to sell drugs and remain with the King Lords, the gang in which his now-incarcerated father was a leader, or does he try to leave it all behind and go straight for the sake of his child?

I adored The Hate U Give and Starr’s family is probably my favorite family ever in literature. But Maverick, by FAR, was the most fascinating character. I’m so glad Thomas decided to write this book. I read the entire thing in one day, just like her previous two books.

I appreciated that this book chose to show a Black teenage father who was the primary parent and determined to raise his son well. I was on pins and needles knowing what happens between this book and The Hate U Give, but I was completely engrossed start to finish. Highly recommended.

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker (2020) (#ReadHarder Category: A book that demystifies a common mental illness) — Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American Dream, moving to Colorado Springs after World War II and welcoming 12 children. Then it fell apart when six of the 10 sons developed schizophrenia. This book tells the heartbreaking story of the Galvins’ lives and their impact on schizophrenia research.

This book wrenched me apart. I can’t imagine the pain that this family must have felt, seeing so many promising sons become violent and abusive, and not knowing how many more of them would develop it. An utter nightmare. At the same time, this is a fascinating book and I’m so glad that I learned more about schizophrenia in general. A long book to soak into over several days.

Class Act by Jerry Craft (2020) — The sequel to Newbery Award-winning New Kid, this graphic novel returns to Riverdale Day School and another student: Jordan’s friend Drew, who lives in the Bronx with his grandmother. This book, funny and sweet and thought-provoking, covers the constant racial micro-aggressions students of color face at the mostly white school and the inequalities between friends.

I adored New Kid and I adored Class Act too! If you’re thinking of getting into graphic novels, these are two great ones to start with! (AND you can get them as an ebook — I got them both from the library!) I loved these characters so much and it’s the perfect blend of funny, sad, and important. You will recognize a lot of people you know in this book. I really hope Craft writes more of them.

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi (2019) (#ReadHarder Category: a non-European novel in translation) — This novel weaves in the stories of several women in a family in Oman, from the 1970s to the present day. Mayya accepts her arranged marriage but refuses to be happy about it; Asma decides to make the best of her marriage, and Khawla waits loyally for her love to return from Canada. In between, the book lays out a view of a modern, changing Oman.

This was our book club selection this month and I’m so glad we read this. At first it was hard to keep straight — the timeline kept jumping back and forth, often with no clear deviation, and a lot of the names were similar. But this story, the first book by an Omani woman to be translated into English, was shocking. I had no idea how slavery was prevalent in Oman until the 1960s and how much of a legacy it has on life today. A thoughtful journey into a country I don’t know much about.

One tip: keep a family tree handy when reading it. A lot of the names are similar.

Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (2018) (#ReadHarder Category: An #ownvoices book about disability) — This book is a collection of essays about how we can create greater disability justice, from an intersectional perspective that centers disabled queer and trans Black and brown people. Altogether, it’s about building communities and systems where no people are left behind.

Wow. This book was one of the most massive learning experiences I’ve had in quite some time. I read a lot of books about racism and economic inequality. I read a ton of queer authors. But I’ve done almost zero reading on disability justice, so this was like being thrown into the deep end. I’ve read Piepzna-Samarasinha’s work before and everything she writes is centered on queer people of color.

There is so much to learn about how we can make life more accessible for disabled people — and how we can learn from the “care webs” disabled communities build to take care of each other. Yet this isn’t depressing — it shows how much joy can rise up from this kind of work.

An American Sunrise: Poems by Joy Harjo (2020) (#ReadHarder Category: A book of nature poems) — This collection of nature poetry was written by the Poet Laureate of the United States and a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. The poems touch on the abundance of her homeland and the intergenerational trauma of the displacement of her people.

I enjoyed this collection of poetry. It was definitely a good choice for this #ReadHarder topic because it entwined nature with Harjo’s personal history, including the death of her mother, as well as centering it in the oppression of her people. Yet it’s not bitter — her poems are bracing but calm.

Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! by Sarah Kapit (2020) (#ReadHarder Category: A children’s book that centers a disabled character but not their disability) — Vivy Cohen is a 12-year-old girl with autism who dreams of playing baseball. She finally gets to play for a team — but she faces cruel teasing and an overprotective mother who wants her off the field. This epistolary novel is told in letters between Vivy and her favorite MLB player, V.J. Capello, with whom she strikes up a letter-writing friendship.

I really enjoyed this middle-grade book and would recommend it to those of you who have older elementary school-aged kids. Kapit herself has autism and she also researched within her community to get a well-rounded view of a tween girl with autism in 2020. Overall, this is a story about a girl learning to grow up and be strong.

I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf by Grant Snider (2020) — Do you judge people by their bookshelves? Do you judge YOURSELF by your own bookshelf? This book is a collection of one- and two-page comics, all about books and reading.

This was a delightful collection of comics, and I laughed and related to quite a few of them.

A snow-covered church on a snowy corner in Karlín, Prague, underneath a marbled cloudy sky.
Prague in March? More of this.

Coming Up in March 2021

Any travel plans? HA! I haven’t even left Prague since November when we picked up the kitties just outside Prague. I haven’t left the Prague *area* since I arrived in September.

But we do have something very big to look forward to in March: if Lewis’s bloodwork remains strong, his final injection should be Sunday, March 21. Then we will start the 84-day observation period. If he finishes the observation period without recurrence of illness, he will be officially cured on June 13.

I also have another month of Czech classes, and I’m looking forward to improving my skills.

Let’s hope we get good vaccine news this month!

Any plans for March? Share away!


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