house of the black madonna

I completely stole that image off of Google, sorry. But it’s where I was this afternoon, and it was awesome. It houses the museum of Czech cubism, and it is the second museum that I went to just on a whim, knowing nothing about it and thinking that I actually would be underwhelmed, and instead I loved it. My favorite artist was Emil Filla. I want a print of his work, or an original if I can have whatever I want in the world, when I have a home to decorate. And the museum itself, in the House of the Black Madonna, is a cubist building designed by one of the Osma, the group of eight Czech cubists.

I realized that one of the biggest reasons for travel and for visiting galleries and museums is a completely hedonistic one, and I feel guilty about that. But I also feel like it’s inevitable. Why do we learn about other cultures, why do we eat new foods, and why do we discover new artists except to enjoy the experience? But is it cheapened if I think about how I want reproductions of Dalí’s plates in my kitchen, and how I want Torres-García and Filla and Renoir prints on my walls, and how I would love to be able to afford to be an art collector, and how I’d like to cook this or that, and how I prefer cava to other wines and champagnes, and how I want to go to Ireland to learn how to sing and then incorporate that into the songs I write? Or is that in fact the most authentic way to travel? I hate these arguments, but I can’t help thinking of them.

hyperlinked photo journalism or, it is so unfair that europe has castles and america does not

I find picture-taking and photo-uploading completely exhausting and unexciting, which is why I don’t do it more often.

Karoline and me with Arnost Lustig after hearing him speak

You gotta love a city with a giant metronome at the top of a hill.

Especially when the view from the metronome is fabulous.

Bars with awesome names must be remembered always, even if you do not go inside them.

It is important to know that the real Budweiser is not made by Anheuser-Busch.

I spent this weekend in the rain in Cesky Krumlov

Many Czech buildings use sgraffito, which from far away looks almost like a layer of wallpaper laid over the actual edifice.

The Cesky Krumlov castle!

The castle there has bears!

This is the view from up there.

meat and bones

Wow. Somehow I only have a little over a week left. I’m ready to go home, but I’m also just getting the hang of things in Prague and want to enjoy that. And I have an unbelievable amount of work to do. The weekend trip I signed up for (and paid $95 for) was a bad idea.

I’ve taken a decent amount of side trips already, and I’m still adoring my classes. I have a lunch conference with my fiction professor, Robert Eversz, who is awesome–one of those people who will just talk and then all of a sudden you’ll realize that he’s teaching you something really useful. Our workshop is particularly for people writing novels, which means not only do we critique and talk about literature, but we also storyboard everyone’s submissions, talk about extended narratives, etc. I’m loving it. I’m learning. I’m inspired. I actually want to write a lot, and I do it. It’s been at least a year since I’ve been a writer like I used to be. I feel good about where I’m headed. I have three fiction projects I feel really good about.

My side trips have been to Kutná Hora, Dresden, and today to Terezín, but I don’t think I feel like writing about that. Leaving that space in my journal empty seems like the most justice I can do to it, at least today. In Kutná Hora is a church with decorations made from the bones of 40,000 people.


in which i remember why i am here

The other day I went to a cafe alone for lunch and got to overhear a couple arguing in French. And I understood bits of it. Later, it turned out that the woman also spoke Czech and the man also spoke English. Today, in a gift shop, I got to hear a girl and her mother speak Portuguese and English (Portuglish?) and understand a lot more.

Last night I got to sit on my windowsill (!) and listen to the rain. I think that’s something I’ve wanted to be able to do since I could read, because books always take place in settings where there are attics and basements and secret passageways and window seats. And the weather is always such that opening a window would not make your house unbearably hot. Rain in Prague is different from rain in Tucson, which is heavier, harder, and more driven. Tucson rain has a goal. Prague rain just rains. And there was no lightning, at least not that I could see. It’s lovely. But I hope it’s monsooning when I get home.