Come to Prague the City of Architecture

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“Of all the triumphs of life-haters today, of fun-haters today, of beauty haters today, of thought-and-love haters today, of the Forces of Satan, if you will, the one that most troubles my heart is the inducement of some Czechoslovak politicians and police to behave like cannibals toward the most humane and generous and gifted members of their society. […] These people are rooted like the saplings in a tiny nation whose people have created a major fraction of the Earth’s most important architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry, imaginative prose and most recently motion pictures. […] If a flying saucer person were to ask me what Earthlings considered to be their most habitable city, architecturally speaking, I would reply without hesitation: Come with me to Prague.”

Kurt Vonnegut- Taken from an archived article in the Czeský Rozhlas 

Prague truly is a beautiful city. Architecturally speaking, I agree with Kurt Vonnegut (RIP). I will admit that I haven’t been to all of the cities of the world, and that there may be others more beautiful than Prague, but it would be hard to beat this city of spires. Even on a bad day it kept me going; I had a difficult time losing myself into the depressive depths of me because Prague’s buildings kept grasping my senses, and I couldn’t get away from how lovely it was to walk through its streets. I’ve been to Prague four times. Twice to visit and twice to live. The first time was in 1997 with two of my friends. It was a bad trip to tell the truth. It was filled with a lot of fighting. The kind of fighting with friends that I think you only experience in your early twenties. Your twenties are much more difficult then anyone ever lets on. We are supposed to be adults, but adult-ing can sometimes take a lifetime to figure out. You think you know it all, but you still have little control over your emotional reactive responses, and you haven’t picked up the many communication skills that can ease an argument. It’s just a lot of yelling, and the word bitch get’s thrown around a lot (or some other pejorative). Still, the arguments are filled with learning points. What kind of friends and people do you want to surround yourself with, and what kind of person do you want to be? Where do you focus your self-reflections? Do you reflect? It’s all learned as we grow (hopefully) or perhaps it’s learned in Prague. Even amongst the fighting, Prague still left a huge impression on me. How could it not? Its spiraling towers touch the clouds, and its angels reach for the soul.

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I went again in 1998. A much better trip, and no fighting with my travel companion. It was a very short trip that also included a visit to Budapest. In 2000, I moved to Prague. It was while I was there that I was inspired to write about this city in a book. Again, I returned to Prague in 2015. This time may have been even more powerful than the last because I felt I had built a family in Prague. A family who is still there. It was the only time I cried when I left a place. In my heart Prague is another home.

What is it that is so spectacular about Prague? So resplendent? Much of it has to do with the architecture. Prague was fortunate to not be bombed and destroyed during WWII (except for the snafu bombing by the U.S. military in 1945- way to go U.S.A) and because of this it has been able to retain the history that has been embedded in its streets, buildings and houses. You can find gothic, romanesque, renaissance, baroque, rococo, and if you visit the Spanish Synagogue in the Jewish quarter you can also see Moorish revival which was influenced by the Alhambra in Spain (another must see).

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Nearly every part of Prague has some incredible sight to see, but it isn’t only a walk through the histories of the far past, if you visit the Dancing House or any of David Černý’s strange and fascinating pieces hanging throughout the streets, you will be awarded with architectural modernism, post-modernism and contemporary designs. This building, The Dancing House, which is a hotel and hosts art exhibits, is an amazement of deconstructivist architecture. It was built in 1996 and is the site of the accidental allied bombing of 1945. It is also call Fred and Ginger as it sways like the two famous dancers. It’s crown is a metal birds nest.

Most people when they visit will stick to old town, and head up to the castle district, but in every neighborhood from Vinorady, to Mala Strana, and from Vyšehrad to my favorite neighborhood Žižkov (my heart belongs in Žižkov) there is beauty to behold. So please, take my hand, and come with me to Prague, because I plan to return.

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Hlavní Nádraží’s station was stunning. The prodigious dome, with its illuminated stained-glass windows, and the colorful matted walls with winding plants that undulated in whips of movement had caused me to pause for a moment. There were statues leaning from the corners of the walls. Their faces with carved blank eyes, all more than a century old, stared down at me. I was crossing platforms that had been crossed by hundreds of thousands of strangers. People just like me, and people nothing like me, but we were all traveling. The colossal doors with sweeping archways were framed by statues of supine women draped in stone fabric that looked to flow and breath. The marble women, with their down-turned mouths and closed eyes, curved like open yawns over the arched windows of the doors. The station was a reminder of a time when travel was ostentatious and reserved for the wealthy.  And here I was. I had decided to move to Prague because someone had told me that the Prague of the nineties was like the Paris of the thirties, and I was a romantic.

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The Day My Cat Died

I’ve created a new category titled Accidental Vagabond. This section is part of the answer to the question, how did I get here. How did I become an accidental vagabond? How is it that I am reposting a blog about the death of my cat while I am sitting in an a apartment in Seoul? How are theses things possible? Are they connected? Do they matter? It’s funny to think back on it, but the death of my cat was a starting point for returning back out into the world of travel. It didn’t happen right away, but a few years after Boo died I left the country. I had wanted to leave before, but my cat prevented it. Not that I couldn’t just give her to someone, and then go. I knew and know that’s possible, but I didn’t want to. I loved my cat, my pet, and I chose to stay in places where I was able to have her. That’s what happens to us in life. We make choices, and some of those choices mean giving up other things in life. We have pets, we get married, we have children, we decided to help our parents. There are many things that we choose for better or for worse, and at times we may wonder what would have happened if I made a different choice. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter if you made a different choice because you live in the choice you made, but that choice back then does affect you in the present. It built you. It’s part of your foundation.
After my cat died I was free to travel. I didn’t have to worry about her. There was a freedom, but I was happy to have spent the time I did with that precious animal. I know some people don’t think animals have much value in our lives, but for those of you who understand loving and caring for a pet, you know what I mean.
I’m reposting this as a reflection because I’m about to have a change in my life, a new pet. This time it is a different animal. A dog, and the dog is not mine, she belongs to my boyfriend. There are many choices being made, and this choice does affect my ideas of travel. In fact, many ideas or thoughts and day dreams have to change and adapt. I’ve chosen a man and his dog to be apart of my life. We are building a new life, and a new foundation together. I wonder, in a wonder without remorse, but purely curiosity, will we be able to travel the world as I fantasize? If so how? At least years from now I can check back to this post.

An Accidental Vagabond

My cat died today. She died in my arms. I hope it was the right choice, I hope she was ready. Its difficult to tell with animals. I wasn’t ready. I would never have been ready. I dug her grave this morning, and eerily and somewhat comically she watched. She even peered her head into the grave as I dug. At first I laughed, but then I told her it was too macabre and she should go. Then we watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind until the vet aka Dr. Death came. I didn’t want to let him in. It was all very fast. He said she was very weak and she probably would go fast and she did. She had a couple types of cancer and it was all a race to see which one would kill her first, and neither winner would be a pretty death. That…

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It all Begins with Quitting

The tag line of The Accidental Vagabond is how did I get here. When I wrote that I was just looking for a quick note to express something about the title, but now that I think about it, “How did I get here” is a perfect tag. That’s really what this blog is about: a long, journey to… I still don’t know. There are these moments in our life when things are spinning and we ask ourselves, when we reflect on our life, we ask, how did this happen? Those of us who journal have the advantage to look back (if we bother to) and actually see the path we took. This blog which started ten years ago serves exactly that purpose. Here I am now, living in South Korea, teaching English, living with my boyfriend, and planning a future with him that I hope involves writing and travel. So, how exactly did I end up in an Asian country that I never actually thought about visiting, and teaching English? What happened to acting, to writing, to “the novel”, or the first book that so many of these earlier posts are about, what happened? How did I get here? Well it all begins with this post about quitting. I was working for Jive software a collaboration software development company, and I could have stayed there and maybe worked my way into an other department (I was the front desk) and made some decent money. Yet, I had decided to quit, and write a book. In retrospect, I still am not convinced I was super smart about the decision, but there were also other factors in play.
The thing is, this point in time, this decision put me where I am right now, right at this very moment. I’m sitting in Itaewon, in Seoul. I have about an hour to getting ready before heading to work. In Seoul. In South Korea. I can hear the birds chirping outside, and the men working construction on an apartment a few winding blocks away. All of this is occurring at this moment because I quit my job at Jive software ten years ago. That’s life: a series of events set off by a series of decisions and choices.
I had seen some posts, not too long ago, on Facebook from some old Jive co-workers that Jive had been acquired by another company. See, everything changes. I can play in my mind a little about what life would have been like for me if I had stayed, but then again, it doesn’t really matter because this is where I am right now

An Accidental Vagabond

The other day I was listening to an archive of  This American Life and the topic was quitting. The first story was about a woman, Evan Harris, who wanted to quit everything. Quit her job, her city, her boyfriend, everything, but she didn’t know how to go about it. One day while at work she was alphabetizing files with a co-worker they began talking about the letter Q. Evan felt it was a misplaced letter in the alphabet and, oddly, that was the moment her life changed. I wont say more- you really should go listen to it for yourself, but I have decided that I love this woman. The fact that she felt that the letter q was in the wrong place is enough to fall in love, but her philosophy on quitting sealed the deal. She had created a zine which I’m not too sure if is still…

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