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.

Image

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.

Image

Image

Image

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.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

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.

I Wish I could be Traveling right now

I can’t travel right now though. I’m supposed to be staying in St. Louis at least until the end of May 2014. Hopefully, there are no sudden issues with my graduating in the spring. I just need to finish up my BA in German with a minor in English and a professional writing certificate, then I can go on to either an internship abroad or teaching English in Europe. I’m working on a blog about Czech beer for my Special Topics in Writing: Writing in the Professional World course. I figured if I am qualified to talk about anything in Czech Republic, I am most qualified to talk about its beer, since beer is cheaper than water there. (Although, I probably drank far more coffee, cappuccino, and espresso during my year in Brno than I did beer. . .another beverage that I miss and makes me feel nostalgic about my time there.) So here I am, sitting around avoiding biology homework and feeling nostalgic for Czech beer and sights.

You can check out the beer blog here.

At least, I am working on my book again. I keep thinking that it would be easier to work on my book in Czech Republic because I require Czech sources for it, since it is partially set in Czech Republic, and partially set in Austria. But when I took over the first 30 typed Word pages to work on in Brno, I found myself preferring to focus on short stories instead. (And then during winter holiday break while I was in Norway visiting friends, all I wanted to do was work on the rewrite of my on-going fantasy project–the first draft of that, I wrote during my exchange year in Austria 2010-2011.) I am such a fickle writer. I’ve tried getting my priorities straight, but my mind doesn’t seem to want to do that. I rebel against myself. I tell myself that I must work on Mind Terrorist and my mind says, “No.” Or, I tell myself that I must work on biology homework and my mind says, “No. I want to work on Mind Terrorist.”

Maybe if a miracle occurs, by the next blog update on my main blog I will have my priorities straight. But that’s highly unlikely. My boyfriend is visiting during holiday break, and I envision that I won’t be able to get on here and update (because I’m working on the Czech beer blog for a class this semester and the last post for that will be in December, and I am also going to be translating two new interviews for my metal in translation blog). But my boyfriend will be visiting here around that time from Czech Republic. Well, he should be. . .

The Article that Funded my Trip to a Black/Death Metal Festival in Belgium is Up

You can read it here.

At the last minute, we decided that I would write an article about why students at my university who will be studying abroad through our sibling schools program should consider Masaryk University in the Czech Republic. However, I did take two trips to Gent and Brussels while in Belgium and did some cultural/aesthetic sight-seeing, so I was perfectly equipped to write an article about why you should go to Belgium/what there is to do in Belgium. But if you are interested in reading about my trip to Belgium, I have a blog entry about it here.

I Just Lost an Entire Blog Post Despite saving it as a Draft

I spent a rather sizable chunk of time writing a post this morning. I have limited time and so if there happened to be a way to get that time back so that I could do something more productive with it, I would do so. Situations like this make me want to stop using WordPress, or “rage-quit” the blog if you will. Apparently though, if you have more than one blog (like me), there’s a risk that WordPress might forget which blog you specified for the post to go to when you hit “publish post” and just pull something like, “un_known post” or “we forgot where you said you wanted this to go.” Well, don’t do what I did. Don’t say “Okay, I’ll just save this as a draft then and try to redirect it to its rightful home from under my drafts page.” No! Big mistake. Even though, I waited for the screen to confirm that it was indeed saved, when I got to my drafts page I couldn’t find the post. It had vanished.

This has happened to me at least three times, and it’s a reason why I don’t update my blog as often, because of stupid technical derps like this that eat up my time and force me to have to conclude that I just wasted an hour trying to update my blog and have nothing to show for it. It’s time to move on to one of my 8 billion other projects I’m working on or else just resign myself to doing homework. I really don’t have time for stuff like this.

Anyway, I’m just going to do a short recap of what I actually wanted to post, since it pertains to my last blog entry and my future blog entries.

1.) I’m not doing the second part of the Liebster Awards. I’ve had a gut feeling ever since I first saw this thing floating around that this award is just fictional and it’s basically the WordPress/blogger version of a chain letter. I appreciate that someone thought my blog was awesome and wanted it to be recognized and thought this was a great way to network with people. But I don’t have time to fulfill the demands of this “award”. Also, I’m noticing that most bloggers view this as spam, so I’m not going to bother them with it. Yes, I decided at first I would try to do it because there are also a lot of bloggers out there who use this chain letter as a means of networking, and I see no issue with networking. In fact, I think the one good thing about the “Liebster Award” is that it got more bloggers to network. But I can find other ways to network that are in line with my current goals. And speaking of goals. . .

2.) I’m going to temporarily abandon this blog for the next 5 weeks to work on another blog that I’m doing for my Professional Writing 4160 course. It’s going to be about my experiences with Czech beer. There will also be beer suggestions and information about where you can get these beers if you ever travel to Czech Republic are happening to be planning a trip. I will put up another post when I have my first entry up so that you guys can find the blog.

3.) I’m also working on numerous translation projects. Still. I’ve got a project with Jewish, German-speaking writers from Prague who were in the same literary circle as Kafka and Max Brod. I’m still working on my Belphegor and other death metal/black metal German language interviews that I’m translating to English. You can view the results as I finish them here.

4.) I’m thinking what I don’t get done for the Prague Writers project will be going into my proposal for a Fulbright Research grant. I’m also dealing with that now and trying to get a translation internship abroad though AIESEC. To do both of these things, involves a lot of back-and-forth with representative from both of these programs.

 

 

 

The Summer of Frustration: My Summer of Striving to Write Realistic Mental Illness, Professional first Translation Projects, and Getting Myself Interested in my own writing again

I feel like I’m stuck in a rut when it comes to my writing. I have to admit that I haven’t been able to move the plot line of Mind Terrorist forward because I just feel iffy about the scene I’m currently writing. In it, Lenore has wandered away from a bar and her friends and gotten herself lost in Prague. She gets picked up by the police in the city park and tries to evade arrest by running. (For those of you just passing by, I should mention that Lenore is no ordinary special flower. She’s just had a mental breakdown and is trekking through Europe intending to kill the man she believes is controlling her thoughts. Her friends know this and this is why the police were called.) I’m hesitant about finishing this scene, because afterwards I’m unsure where the story is going. I can’t decide if I want her to spend a night in jail or spend the night with her friends (who have become more pushy and less patient with her). It’s too early in the book for her to land in the hospital. I don’t want this to be a hospital novel, because I feel like the niche market for books about people struggling with mental illness is overpopulated by narrators in mental institutions and psych wards–I mean, that’s the most obvious place you’d look when you want to find people who are mentally ill. But the reality of the situation (and I’m more interested in my book being realistic and believable) is that the police would probably take her to the hospital, and the hospital would try to find a way to keep her since she is such an extreme danger to herself and others.

I’ve kind of switched gears this summer because of the frustration I’m having with the plot of Mind Terrorist. I’m finishing a translation project I started for a friend. My friend asked me to translate a few German language interviews with two bands we really like to English so that she could read the interview. I’m fortunate to be in contact with one of the interviewees, so if I have any uncertainties about his intended meaning of a statement or if I have trouble interpreting the mood of the conversation (the first and third parts are a round table discussion between three people), I can just run the question by him. Of course, I don’t want to irritate him–he is busy–but I am striving to translate it so that the original meaning and message of the articles are not lost. (That happens sometimes with more experienced translators, and since this is my first major translation project, I know I’m not a seasoned professional yet and I don’t want to mess it up!)

The other project I’ve switched gears to is a long-running fantasy project that I have no immediate plans to publish, but that I work on between major projects or when I’m feeling demotivated about my current project. This summer, I intend to hammer out one of the major details of my fantasy world: the fashion. Luckily, I found a doll designing template on http://www.dolldivine.com for the Showtime series, “The Tudors” that features gowns and clothing visually similar to what I envisioned for my fantasy series. Also, the template is not so strict that I have to make things exactly in the way that designers of that time period would have done them, it allows me to take various clothing details from the period and mix and match them into the kind of outfit I was envisioning. I feel like I’m wasting a lot of time doing this, but the clothing worn by my characters is a lot of the times important to the central plot. (For example, one of my female characters helps free another from the dungeons by switching clothes with her.) However, I need to minimize the amount of time I’m spending on Doll Divine making dolls, because I found myself spending the entire afternoon yesterday just making duplicate outfits for one of my characters for a certain part of the book when she is probably going to be in her nightgown about 70% of the time. I think my next mini-maintenance project for my fantasy novel will be sorting out my world’s religious practices and customs, because I’m finding this is another hole in my world that I can’t visualize through what I’ve already written.

So where do you think I should go with Mind Terrorist? I’d love to hear opinions from people in the comments, especially if they have any experience dealing with severely mentally ill people. My problem is that I don’t want the story to suddenly become unrealistic, but I also don’t want it to turn into a hospital novel. Confining Lenore to a hospital would halt the action of the story dead in its tracks.  But again, telling a realistic story is also very important to me!

Travel in the United States

Should I change the name of my blog? I realize that I’m no longer in Central Europe and won’t be for a while. But I’m still working on Mind Terrorist (which takes place in Czech Republic and Austria) and most of my posts will probably be about working on that. One could say that Lenore is on quite a travel adventure in Central Europe herself. But I don’t know how many travel adventures I’ll be having in the U.S. for the next year. I did just get back from visiting relatives in Colorado Springs. That was my big trip for the summer, other than trying to get out of Europe before anyone noticed that my visa had expired. I am definitely also supposed to visit my friend, Liz, for a day this summer. Right now though, my focus should be on trying to find a job that won’t be too demanding since I am taking 15 hours this semester, but that would allow me to make enough money so that I can both save and go out for fun every once in a while.

While I was in Colorado Springs, I certainly experienced quite a lot of different severe weather scenarios. There was a flash flood in El Paso County near Manitou Springs, which carried a car away. We went down there later when it wasn’t flash-flooding and were relieved to see that the old Arcade with all its penny video games was open and mostly undamaged. We’ve gone to Manitou Springs every year that we’ve visited in Colorado and the penny arcade was always an attraction for my brother and me when we were kids.

On our way to visit my great aunt and uncle, we drove through the remains of the Black Forest fires. It was really eery, because almost every year of my childhood in the summer we would drive out to Black Forest and pass a lot of these houses and ranches that were destroyed in the fire. On a lot of properties, all that was left were debris, burnt out cars, and chimneys. It seemed so empty in Black Forest and a lot of the trees had lost their leaves and were charred black. The last time I had visited 4 years ago, the place was so alive. I had even participated with my cousins and brother in an antique car parade that year. I remember seeing so many people out on the streets that day. But when we visited this year, most people had gone away and it was just really sad.

Back in the States after a long Few Weeks of Travel

It was brought to my attention that I haven’t updated  the blog for a very long time. First of all, I apologize if anyone else happened to be looking out for one of my random posts. But I must explain myself. In the beginning of June, I started work on another post that requires quite a lot of research and thought. I underestimated how much time exactly it would take to put it together. As a result, I ended up burning myself out and I just had to give up temporarily on it. Then, my German history exam and all the studying I had to do to prepare for that came up. Right after taking this final exam, my boyfriend and I left for his parents’ house. That was when I became too busy to update my blog or work on my writing projects.

The last few weeks have included a day trip to a small town in Poland (the name of which I can’t remember–maybe my boyfriend will comment and remind me of the name of the city we were in 😉 ), a weekend trip to Slovakia, a weekend with my host family in Graz, Austria, moving out of my flat in Brno, three last nights in Prague with my boyfriend, being detained by security in Poland because my visa had expired the day before, and finally returning to the United States. (If anyone is interested, today I also got a haircut.) I’ve been back in the States for almost a week. I’m wondering if I should start texting people on my own, or continue to wait for them to text me, because I haven’t hung out with any of my friends since I’ve been back and everyone was so insistent that we hang out as soon as I came back. (Now, I understand there are busy exceptions who I’ve made plans with but we unfortunately cannot get together until a few weeks from now, but the amount of people bummed that I was out of the country and the amount of people calling my phone now are not equivalent. It’s an odd phenomenon, but also an experience I’ve had before. The last time I returned from a year abroad the same situation occurred. I’m at peace with the fact that people who were my good friends before I left last September will probably no longer be friends of mine next September. It happens. But nothing can make this not feel weird.

I hate how many of my international and Czech friends I will probably never see again. Or, if we do see each other again, it won’t be for a very long time. It is so weird that last month I woke up every morning next to my boyfriend and told him immediately about the nightmares and weird dreams I had. Now though, if I want to talk to him about the dreams of the night before, I must go downstairs, turn on the computer, and hope that he is on Skype. (This is another reminder that I need to ask for more people’s skype I.D.s because I only have two contacts.) It frightens me that a few of my international friends are returning to countries, which have recently become a lot less safer than they were before my friends had left (Egypt, Turkey, Syria) and I hope for the best for them and that we can meet again in the future someplace safe.

Every year for the last four years, I have felt like my life was starting over again or everything was changing and I had entered some kind of new era of my life. This year is no different. I feel like I’m starting over again from the beginning. I don’t want to do exactly what I did the last year I spent studying in the U.S. I want to try something new. I want to gain more experience working either as a German tutor or translator. But the lack of opportunities that I am finding in St. Louis right now is frustrating. I feel like I’m about to attempt to push a boulder up a hill, honestly. I’m just warming up. It’s really hard not to be overwhelmed by the frustration though, and I’m bracing myself for the next few weeks. I keep telling myself that I just started looking and that it will take some time. However, I don’t listen. I’ve always been stubborn.