Lizzie’s Hospital Confessionals: Episode 5
I plan to bring my camera to the hospital to hopefully document some of this experience in a visual form. The motto in much of Slovakia is to make due with what you have. I wouldn’t, however, say that they are grateful in that regard. That said, I think the vast majority of you will be pretty shocked when we get around to sharing some photos.
I spent the afternoon at the hospital with Lizzie. I brought my computer so I could work on a few designs I wanted to finish up. I knew the idea having a computer in the room probably didn’t blow their mind THAT much but the concept of having a working computer did probably shock a few (note that Lizzie’s ward does have a computer for patent use). It, with it’s Pentium 3 processor and Windows 98 operating system, was however, suffering from a strong case of neglect. Positioned near a single power outlet (not a double outlet like what is common in more modern buildings) so that one could not simultaneously plug in both the computer and the monitor. Noticing that it was plugged into a network but not allowing internet access through to Lizzie’s computer I searched for an adapter so I could power up this dinosaur of a machine. I found one plugged into the much more preferred piece of technology in the room, a TV and accompanying VCR. Once the computer was on I realized that it had been unplugged so long that the cmos battery had died and it no longer knew which device it was to search for an operating system on. Not knowing the bios password I gave up. Now that I am done with my little story let’s get back to Lizzie’s, shall we?
Last night I had my third dream ever in Slovak. I was actually in Amsterdam with Burke and everyone only spoke Spanish. Burke always says he can speak Spanish because he had four years in high school and he can order food, even though I don’t think that counts because if that’s all it takes, then just about every American fits that category. Anyway, I couldn’t communicate and I kept offering up my Slovak instead.
Some of the patients were released on Friday morning, after my bff wished us good bye and was gone, I decided to branch out and talk to my other neighbor, who seemed to be packed up too.
Me: Idete domov? (Are you going home?)
Lady: blank stare.
End of conversation. At breakfast a lady I had spotted as a new arrival sat down next to me. She reminded me of an older version of my Aunt Barbara because she was stylish despite being in the hospital. She had a silky lime green robe and matching a lime green slippers, so I figured, combined, we were the coolest people there. She talked to me a bit and didn’t seem to mind that my main responses were smiles, shrugs, and Neviems (I don’t knows). But early in the afternoon I heard an unfamiliar rolling sound in the hall and went out to investigate only to find my new friend strolling down the hall with some lime green luggage. She said dovidenia (goodbye) and then she, too, was gone.
By Friday evening, about two thirds of the women who were here had gone home. There are still some real cutes one left though. Most ladies have patches on one eye, crazy white hair, and are a good four to six inches shorter than me. It’s wild being in here because I don’t know when the change happens or happened, but Slovak women of different generations look very opposite each other. Anyone under forty is tall and very, very thin, but anyone over fifty is short and round. I wonder if it’s a crazy metabolism slow down, or if it’s just an older generation thing.
My biggest conundrum I’m experiencing is that I’m a little bit torn about how to talk to people here. For the most part now, they all know I speak English and no one wants to be my friend anymore (you can bet I really miss my bff now), but for a while, I didn’t know what to do when someone started talking to me. Here are the two camps: first, I can tell them right away that I don’t understand much Slovak, and scare them away from trying; or second, I can do my best to keep up on a conversation until it reaches a point where I have to tell them I don’t understand, at which point they generally assume I’ve understood nothing and they feel stupid for having talked to me for so long. Either way it’s a bit of a lonely existence. I smile at them all and then I realize they probably can’t see my smiling anyway.
I would like to note that I have never claimed to speak Spanish. I have said to know a little which is more than I can say for my Slovak skills. Also my Spanish skills go farther then just food. Not much farther but a useful amount farther. I thought I should clear that up a bit.