Thursday, November 16, 2017

Episode 582: Czech, please

It’s a Thursday, a name day which rightfully pays homage to the Norse God Thor. Thor, the God of Thunder, brought to the big screen by Marvel Comics in the person of Chris Hemsworth, has the dubious honor of having his name attached to the most unlikely of days of the week, the not-Friday of the Union-established work week; the day disdained by Arthur Dent (of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame) as a day which “he could never get the hang of;” a day in which your humble narrator find himself alone in a cabin in a village by the woods in Central Europe, waiting patiently for tomorrow.

I do believe that was an egregious run-on sentence, but the gist is: it’s not tomorrow, and I want it to be tomorrow, because in the afternoon of the aforementioned morrow, my European counterpart and I depart for Paris for the weekend.

I have indeed arrived at the raison of my d’etre. After an eye-opening and invigorating acclimation to Central Europe, our travels finally begin.

Perhaps I should rephrase that assertion. I left Louisiana on Sunday, November 5th, and I have been “traveling” ever since, and each phase of the trip - each stop and respite - has been impeccable and warm, replete with comradely good fellowship and introductions to real faces to digital myths. Every minute of the past couple of weeks has been stunning and flawless, especially my welcome to, and time spent within, the Czech Republic. Like most Americans, I knew little of the CR before my arrival, and I am glad to state that my ignorance of the land and its people is gradually being whittled into familiarity.

All that being said, the French are very French, and I love their capital city. This will be my third sojourn to Paris, and as with any world-renowned Metropolis, it offers new delights and conundrums upon every viewing. Or, new dangers (why not? I lead a charmed life, but eventually I will attract the notice of the gods, and a reckoning will be demanded). I can’t wait to not know what I don’t know, but in French.

I am not a religious or spiritual person (I was raised hardcore Catholic, excepting only that I was never molested by priest or deacon), having discarded the yoke of faith during the summer of my fourteenth year. I am not blind to the impact of organized religion, however, nor disdainful of art or architecture due merely to the influence of the Pope’s checkbook. Notre Dame Cathedral is one of my very favorite places to visit, in the city by the Seine; it was the location of my first revelatory embrace of Paris, back when I visited with the long-dead Jim (a former close compatriot and autonomic victim of suicide). Jim was a walker, very European in his sensibilities, for an American - he didn’t own a car, and walked everywhere in his Connecticut hometown, and worked for a homeless shelter, and ate kale before it was cool - and that first trip to Paris began with the scaling of the steps to the top of Montmartre, leaving me sweaty and deranged at 8 o’clock in the morning and wondering when we’d signed up for a French triathlon; since he’d been to the city many times, he insisted on showing me places that had taken on meaning for him, instead of allowing me to absorb and embrace the city on my own.

Late in the afternoon of that day, of my first trip, we went inside Notre Dame, a dark and indifferent chasm of ancient holiness, I felt some connection to the chaos, and was made well. 

I will endeavor not to repeat such mistakes, on this trip. I am almost apathetic about planning, to some extent, because every marvel I’ve ever encountered on every trip was luck, serendipity or happenstance. We have purchased bus tickets and a hotel, and otherwise: we shall discover where the road leads. If I knew already, there’d be little point in going.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Episode 581: Praha

So, Prague.

Around here, they call it “Praha,” pronounced how it looks, and when I asked my local guide why the rest of the world calls it “Prague,” she had no ready answer. Praha isn’t hard to pronounce or recall, and in fact is shorter than Prague. 

My glib summation would typically be “white people,” slathering their imperialist cultural appropriation upon the world, but the Czech Republic (formerly the communist nation of Czechoslovakia, and as of 1993, is now two countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) is primarily white people. I’d call them “Caucasian,” except that the nation is closer to the Caucasian mountains of Russia than not, and so I don’t want to insult them by associating them with Russian mobsters and oligarchs and prostitutes. The European Union is trying to give them the shorthand tag of “Czechia,” since “Czech Republic” is admittedly a mouthful, but that title is close to “Chechnya” and a lot of the world is ignorant and provincial as it is, and so I vote we change the name. I don’t know if they vote accordingly, but we are trying to save the Czechs from themselves, because they might have something the Americans want, someday, and we might have to land the 82nd Airborne in Praha or Brno and dump big a heaping helping of Democracy on their beer-drinking asses, so as always, Murrica knows best.

Not really. Most of that paragraph was my impressions, based on the fact that I’m an arrogant asshole. 

I’ve been struggling with my identity, lately, balancing my intellect with my personality, which is forceful and angry (I’m learning). I tend to bristle at the slightest rebuff, to puff and blow at the smallest slight, and to challenge every challenge with another challenge of my own.

I can also be quiet and thoughtful, but only when I’m secure and safe - ironically, a state I loathe. Without constant chaotic feedback, I atrophy and engage in self-destruction. My talent and skills are almost unwanted calling cards.

Anyway. I finally have me and my mind and my tools and my equanimity, ingredients for the recipe for happiness (or at least, productivity), as I navigate these stormy squalls. I don’t know who I am - nor do I particularly care to learn - or what I can do - although, I seem to write fairly well - but, I’m alive and I have a few Korunas in my pocket (the local lucre), and I feel okay.

That’s a start. 

I wrote a book this summer, a book full of concepts and characters and terminology that was created whole cloth from my imagination, and I am in the process of editing it and seeking representation to sell it. I have been mired in a sort of post-coital depression of blockage. I have rediscovered my ability to type, and now I am practicing my ability to make concepts into words and words into sentences. I don’t know how other people can casually just say things. Like, sit down and say stuff, how does one do that? 

Language is too easy; all one has to do is to devote time and energy to master it, just like learning to make cheese or climb stacked mountains of egg crates. Practice and practice and you, too, can be a professional egg-crate climber. Is that a thing? That should be a thing.

I love cities. It’s difficult to explain to those who love trees and woods and clean air and quiet; I love the inverse of all of those things: noise and mayhem and dirt and crowds and a lack of trees. The earth needs trees, of course, for its Homo sapiens inhabitants to breathe, but I don’t have to necessarily live next to them. I feel the same about snow -it’s pretty, and I can enjoy it just as much on a postcard as I do by experiencing it.

Man is nature. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Episode 580: No name

I am at an impasse, of sorts, where I can’t think or function in any useful manner. I am encased in a glass cube.

I am in the midst of Europe and my expectations are exceeding my capabilities. I’m an intrusive guest in an organized existence with no safe shelter. I don’t know where to be.

My decisions have been erroneous, thus far; today I am stepping back and evaluating my placement. I will consume nothing and feel nothing. I will turn off lights and heat and pretend I am a refugee hiding in an attic. I might drink water.

I will walk, in bursts, pain be damned and rules be damned. I won’t drink or smoke or speak. This jibbering bile is my one hope of reminding myself how I felt when. I wish I had the ability to carve my own flesh with a pen knife, so as to make some good blood effects for pictures, but words are what is expected of me. Talk, they tell me. Use your voice. Give me words.

I don’t want to give anyone words. I made and developed my own mind; it is mine to share or cadge, at my discretion. 

That’s it for now.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Episode 579: Yurp Calls

So, I am in Europe, and it is as awesome as you’d expect (especially if  you go to Europe as me; I’m not sure how awesome it would be for you).

It’s chilly, even in Celsius (it has been averaging between “damn” and “brrr,” since my arrival). I brought only a black wardrobe, all the better to confuse my European brethren with my nihilistic sense of style and grace. It makes for ease of dressing (I do believe I’ll wear black with the black), and suffficently masks my slovenly propensity.

Today, I’ve been researching trains and travel around the region of Central Europe in which I find myself this month. As it happens,  a friend of mine from the U.S. is going to  be in London, U.K. and in Paris, France, next weekend, and we mutually felt it would be a lark to meet up on this side of the pond.

Europe is quite fond of reminding Americans at how superior their mass transit is to our own - a network of interconnected rail systems like neurons in a brain, creating an Artifical Intelligence  of travel. As it turns out, there is a train that goes to Prague, and a train that goes to Paris, but you can’t take a train from Prague to Paris  (you stupid American). You must take the train from Prague to Geneva, Switzerland, and then take another train from there to Munich, Germany, to change rail systems to the Deutsche SchlägenRailenFastenTräinen. And then, perhaps, go to Paris. There is no return train n from Paris, obviously - one must join the Vichy resistance to escape the City of Lights.

So, a bus. The way to cross the romantic sea of Alps and Rheinland is by Greyhound, and leave the smugness to us.

I’m having an incredible series of annoyances with my blogger software (it hates me, or the Czech Republic), and so I’ll stop there for today.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Episode 578: It’s always Six Degrees Celsius

Good afternoon and good morning and good evening from the village of Svinare, in the Czech Republic.

Since I’ve been here, it has pretty much been six degrees Celsius (about 43 degrees Fahrenheit). Or warming up to six Celsius, or cooling down from. Six seems to be the number of the temperature, and the number of the temperature is six.

You’ve never heard of Svinare (who has?) and let us not pretend otherwise, but it is where I am for the moment, sipping tea and being very American (and I am very American - John Wayne sodomized a Bald Eagle and here I am, penis and pen).

So, I like shorts and sunglasses, and I don’t get cold like humans do.

I took a walking tour about this small town, which is a four bedroom sublet of a Saudi Prince’s palace, but it is roomy enough to hold all of the grim dogwalkers entrenched here in this delightfully grey but free democracy in Bohemia. 

I wanted to set my first entry to prove that Rambles of the Night still Rambles, days and years later, and I assure you I’ll still philosophize or at least amuse, once the routine sets in. Also: Czechs are known for their beer, and I’ve yet to have a beer. It hardly seems I am fit to begin writing on the subject, yet.