Kutná Hora and a Church Decorated with Human Bones

I’ve been devoting most of my blogging time in the last month to my new blog about Czech beer (http://ceskepivo.wordpress.com). In doing so, I find myself reminiscing about last year. I also realized, going through this blog, that I had said many months ago I would post photos from my visit to Kutná Hora but I never did.

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This is the first sight you see after walking past the train station in Sedlec. When you walk a little farther, you arrive at the Sedlec Ossuary, which is what goth and metalhead kids on Tumblr seem to be obsessed with. You see pictures of the inside of the ossuary quite often, it being decorated with the bones of people who were once buried, but were removed because with all the plagues, there was simply no room to bury the new dead. Many of the remains of the people who make up the decor of the church had died from the plague or from wars. But, very rarely do you get to see pictures from the modest graveyard around it. My roommate, Ilayda, and I walked around the cemetery, finding all sorts of unique tombstones, many having photos of the people who were buried there, as they were in their lives. Exploring a village’s cemetery in Central Europe is a very good way to learn about its inhabitants, both past and present.

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After we had explored the snow-buried cemetery, as more snow fell around us, we went into the church. We took our time on the stairs down so that we wouldn’t slip, paid our way in, and collected our laminated handouts in English that told about the history of the church.

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If you are ever in Prague to visit, I strongly suggest making the day trip to Kutná Hora to see the Sedlec Ossuary for yourself, along with the rest of the city. It’s also a great village to find nice, Czech blown glass.

My Blog was Nominated for the Liebster Award! (Part I: Shout-out to Writing Gallery and Q&A)

Due to my hectic schedule and infrequent posts on here though, I haven’t been able to respond to that nomination in a timely manner. I feel a bit guilty that someone thought of me and wanted to recognize my blog, and that I haven’t been able to respond. My requirements I must fulfill for the award will be broken up into two posts. The second post will cover my four nominations for the Liebster Award and my questions. This post though, will cover the first two requirements.

I was nominated for this award by Writing Gallery, who runs her blog mostly just to practice English, being a non-native speaker, and speaks English already almost like a native speaker with very minimal exceptions. Popular topics she discusses are dealing with conflict and stress, improving one’s writing and foreign language skills (an interesting topic for me, because of my career interests). If you’re looking for a casual, laid back but well-done blog to read, you should check out Writing Gallery.

Here are the questions that Writing Gallery came up with for her nominees to answer.

1.) Iphone or Galaxy?

Neither. Due to Apple’s recent treatment of their employees in China and other countries outside of the U.S. and their massive price hikes and general unwillingness to help customers with Itunes related issues just because they don’t have a recently purchased apple device or this new Apple limited warranty service that you now have to pay extra for–although when I got my Ipod Nano it was included free for about 2 years–I haven’t bought any new Apple products in 5 years and won’t be. I don’t have a Galaxy either, but I have no issues with Samsung as a company. I actually have an Android Transform at the moment, but I’m due for an upgrade soon.

2.) What’s your favorite book?

Well, that is difficult to answer with just one title. Being a writer and a literary translator, I read a lot of books. Actually, I have a post from around February or March of this year that details some really good world literature that I hold dear to my heart. But, I won’t do the lazy thing and link to that–I’ll answer the question, with updated information, because I have read quite a lot since then. *Pulls up Goodreads page*

I read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar once about every three years, so I guess you could say that there’s something about the prose and feelings in that book that cause me to return to it again and again. I also enjoy short story compilations and the journals and letters of Franz Kafka. I’ve read his most famous stories in both English and German, but the journals and some of his lesser known stories, I’ve read just in German. The complexity caused by the sheer length of his behemoth sentences provide me a good warm-up for translation projects. I’m also exploring the short stories of Anne Valente, a native of St. Louis, Missouri–where I am also from. I first read a short story from her in the online literary magazine, Memorious, and have been exploring the works accessible through her portfolio. I think she has a very interesting perspective.

As for whole books, other than The Bell Jar and selected short story compilations, I remember enjoying Edith Pattou’s East, Joanne Harris’ Runemarks–I need to get around to reading the sequel to that one of these days–Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices Series, and pretty much everything I’ve read by Libba Bray.

3.) What’s your dream job?

If I were answering this when I was thirteen, I would say guitarist of a death metal band. But having witnessed what that lifestyle does to professional musicians, I’ve since changed my mind. (I still love playing my guitar though and writing about it.) Now, my dream job is best-selling author. With the economic climate in the States though and the majority’s general disinterest in reading literature though, this dream is probably unachievable. I think I would just really like to get to a point in my life where I can just focus on my writing and have enough of a following that I can justify the ridiculous amount of time I put into writing, revising, editing, etc.

4.) What’s motivates you to write?

Dreams, my hectic emotions, really good books and writing, looming deadlines, finding lit. mags with intriguing themes that I would like to submit to.

5.) What’s your favorite dish (food)?

Also a very difficult question to answer with just one option. I have lived in three countries besides the U.S. and sure, those countries all have culturally similar dishes, but one dish you would find in Czech Republic for example originating in Czech would be called something else in Germany or Austria and made slightly differently. I also have traveled a lot and experiment in my kitchen to find healthy but delicious recipes. Well, I guess I am really missing my favorite Czech dish, svičková na smetaně, which is beef tenderloin in a creamy sauce served with flat, white bread dumplings (Knedliky). I also really like fishes served in various sauces with couscous or rice, Wiener Schnitzel and home-made potato salad, and anything with lots of spice, peppers, and tomatoes, or involving creative usage of avocados or pomegranate.

6.) What kind of sport do you like and why?

I don’t really like any sports. However, I did used to do ballet and pointe until I developed knee problems, and the amount of strength and conditioning and practice that goes into that rivals your typical sport, I think.

7.) Nature or urban life?

I’ve experienced both, although I have more experience with urban life. It depends on the city and country though. Like if I am living in Austria, I wouldn’t mind living out on the land in the Alps, surrounded by nature. But if I am living in Czech Republic, then give me the old, foreboding architecture of Prague any day. Brno is a runner-up just because they have awesome student life and people there are just really friendly.

8.) Who influenced you the most in your life?

I don’t know. There is no one person I want to be exactly like and when I was younger I didn’t have someone who fit the traditional definition of “role model”–someone who I would want to emulate. I had people I thought were cool and I respected because they dared to be themselves. I have the same still today, and so it is hard to say who has influenced me the most when the thing I hold most important in life is being yourself.

9.) Whose blog do you like to read every day?

Well, I don’t read blogs every day, which is why I lag behind in views and networking. I just don’t have the time during classes and when I am working and trying to save money while also trying to fit time in for catching up with my lengthy goodreads to-read list and working on my projects, while trying also to keep in touch with my closest friends on a regular basis. So I can’t name any names.

10.) What’s your favorite quote or saying?

I have a lot of quotes from Nietzsche and Kafka that I really love. But I am trying to focus on ones that do not have to do with religious or personal life philosophies that would potentially alienate people from me. I also don’t want to get preachy on this. So I will post this one from Kafka , addressed to Max Brod in a letter, that amused me:

“I usually solve problems by letting them devour me.”

I think it puts living with panic disorder in perspective as well. 

The part II post for the Liebster Award will be posted as soon as I gather my nominees. I fear that I may not be able to reach 10 though, given my limited time and how many people I know of who already have been nominated for this award or have more than 400 followers.