(Vsetín, Zlinsky Kraj, Česká republika)- “I read the news today, oh boy…” wait, that’s a Beatle lyric. Anyway, I read that the lead singer of the Rolling Stones has just become a great grandfather and it gives me hope. I’ve been a fan of the Stones since they broke onto the American scene in 1962. I was a senior in high school then and had just turned 17 (I was young for my class). There was something raw about their music even a bit naughty that helped brush away the quiet 50’s and helped open the door to the raucous ’60’s. The energy the Stones demonstrated on stage was like a snake oil tonic and I became a life-long fan. Well not life-long because I am still alive…let me check. Yes, there is a pulse. (Re-reading the previous sentences sounds like I am writing an obit for the band) I only went to one of their concerts (that I can remember, you know, the ’60’s and all cloud the memory) years ago at Pac-Bell (now AT&T) baseball park in San Francisco with my wife. We were in the nose-bleed section of the stadium. They rocked! I saw the Doors live in L.A. twice but that’s another story for another time. The Stones are old to be sure, but the energy that came from the stage hasn’t lost a step. And now, Jaggar is a freakin’ great grandfather and still performing. I guess “old” is a relative term. There is still hope!
Speaking of hope, soon I will be leaving this wonderful land and it’s wonderful people and journey back to the States. My youngest daughter will be giving birth in October and I am looking forward to seeing a grandchild. That’s what is keeping me motivated and future-thinking. I have said many times in these missives, this news will push me out of my flat on Smetanova street and onto a train for the 4 hour journey to Prague and home. So I look at great grandpa Jaggar and I am motivated. I will wax eloquent about my experiences here in the Czech Republic from my cramped seat on Condor airlines at 36,000 feet over the Atlantic later. So you’ll just have to wait. But that’s a month away and I still have things to do and places to see and end of year parties to attend. My social calendar and dance card are filling up. So to my Czech friends and students, there are still a few open dates for dinner.
And speaking of students, many have been presenting power points to their peers over the last few weeks in class and we still have a few more to do before classes end. So far we have had presentations on villages they come from, how to make sushi (Czech-style), things to see in the Czech Republic, vacations to Greek islands, witch burnings, dog training, Katy Perry and ski trips to the Dolomites in Italy. I decided to get them to use their English vocabulary to present something they were interested in and field questions in English from their classmates. They may use notes but cannot read their presentations. So far all of them have been very interesting and I am impressed with their work. I enjoy sitting back with the rest of the class and just listening. Whatever nervousness they have when they begin is gone after the first 5 minutes or so. I admire them for sticking with the language. Back in California at Language Pacifica in Menlo Park, my students would leave an English class and be immersed in the English language outside of class to re-enforce their lessons in everyday situations. Here the students learn new stuff in English class and go out and are immersed in their native language of Czech so it is very difficult for them to practice in real world situations. But they try and it is impressive and humbling for me. In that way, I think I am learning much more from them than they do from me.
All of these experiences keep me young mentally. So I say to great grandpa Mick, thanks for the boost. Knee problems not withstanding, I look in the mirror and see wrinkles and grey hair and a toothless grin staring back at me and know that my mental age of 12 is still alive and vibrant. I may not be able to strut like Jaggar anymore, but I can still get up in the morning and face the day with energy and hope.