Blog Post: Prague Ducks

July 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

I had a lot more of these, but they weren’t very appropriate. I mean, it’s not like I drew these cute little duckies doing graphic sexual acts or something like that. They were just not something I wanted to carry back to the states with me, so I left them in a Czech garbage can. A few made it back, and I’d like to bring them back to life, too. So for now, here are three. I’ll make more. Promise!

I want you to read all of what I write and figure out who I am.

Sometimes I forget that I am fat.

What is in here that will help me understand out there?

What? What is it? Are you upset that I dove into comics that aren’t actually funny, or is it about the crappy scan job? The crappy scan job? I’ll give you a crappy scan job!

Writing prompts return tomorrow.

Happy July.


Terezin and Children’s Poems

May 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

Sunday brought a trip to Terezin, a concentration camp about forty-five minutes out of Prague. I have a lot to say about it.  A lot of my thoughts I haven’t even put into words yet, but I will say that it was powerful. There are a few thoughts I had that I want to highlight.

First, after we arrived at the small fort, we found out that there was a fee to be able to take pictures of the location. I didn’t ask why; I guess I like trying to figure it out on my own better than being told an answer. I wondered whether it was simply to raise extra funds toward maintaining the place, or whether maybe there was another motive: trying to discourage taking pictures of such a painful place, or at least trying to discourage those who were not serious enough about taking pictures to pay the fee.

I chose not to pay the fee. At first, I didn’t know why I made that choice either. I decided to sketch sights that struck me instead. But there are two reasons I’m taking pictures in Prague.

One is to augment my own memories.

The drawing, I think, might work better to augment my own memories anyway. Moving my hands through the shapes helps keep the memory in a different place than it might have normally been kept. Looking at the sketches and trying to work the (badly drawn) scenes back into photo quality also helps getting more areas of the brain working than just looking at a photograph. So that might work to my benefit.

The other reason is to share sights with my family of the places I have been.

But I wonder if I want to share this concentration camp with them. I was looking around and it seemed like everyone on the tour was very internal, experiencing the places in their own way. It was very personal to me. I got things out of it better, I think, without worrying about what was important to capture for posterity. Any way I’d try to explain it in the future would have come out distorted by my own lense of view anyway, so perhaps it is better to leave such powerful sights for personal experience.

The other experience that I want to highlight was the children’s museum. There was a girl’s school in the city near the big fort where a trunk full of children’s drawings had been discovered not long ago and turned into a museum. They drew pictures of their old life, their new life, fairy tales. Mostly things that any child might draw. They were a little eerie. What struck me most, however, was a poem in a room made of walls covered in names:
A little garden,
Fragrant and full of roses.
The path is narrow
And a little boy walks along it.

A little boy, a sweet boy,
Like that growing blossom.
When the blossom comes to bloom,
The little boy will be no more.

by Frantisek Bass

Flowers, in my mind, are so fleeting. They wither when their season is over, sometimes even before winter. They die soon after you pluck them up from the earth. Boys, on the other hand, are hardy and filled with so much potential for life. They have a long time to live ahead of them. But there, in the place that I visited and little Frantisek Bass had to live, flowers were outlasting little boys. It’s hard to swallow.

And it reminds me again that writing is words, but the writing is not in the words. The writing, the meaning, what we communicate is what is between the words, what it means that “[w]hen the blossom comes to bloom,/ The little boy will be no more.” Or what it means when the book of poems in the souvenir shop is titled “I have not seen a butterfly around here”. There is a lot of power hidden behind words, behind walls that without a tour guide might not hold knowledge or change. I hope that you and I can find at least one moment where we can write something as powerful as what that little boy wrote, and maybe in the future someone will read those words, and we will move them.


Writing Prompt: Praha 7

May 30, 2011 § 3 Comments

Yes! It’s true and it’s happened. I am in Prague in the Czech Republic and am getting ready to head to sleep for the second night in my lovely bed in my lovely apartment in my lovely hostel. I live in Praha 7, if that means anything to you. If not, it’s like a neighborhood or region of the city in the North, just a rather short foot-blistering walk away from Prague Castle, which is beautiful by the way. Europe is nice. I say this because it means something to me. I’ve only ever been to Asia, so I haven’t had the experience of Europe before this trip. Europe feels like this: drinking, smoking, graffiti, walking, old fancy-roofed buildings and potatoes and pasta. The Czech Republic especially feels like graffiti and unleashed dogs.

This is the street our hostel is on. You can see several different tags in this one picture, some faded or covered up by a coat of paint.

I loved this piece, though.

This is at the John Lennon wall, which was covered with all sorts of beautiful messages and even had a tiled space invader by Invader.

Click here to find out more about the Space Invader project.

So today’s writing post is inspired by graffiti, tagging, street art, whatever you want to call it. Think especially (if you’d like) about what you would write if you could, spray painted on a wall somewhere.

Here are my responses, just random little things. Yours can be longer if you want. What if you could take up a whole wall? What would you tell? Post your responses in the comments.

I once met your grandfather in the basement of a convenience store and he told me to buy the tomatoes in the back because he’d taken them from the chain grocery store and switched them out.

If antennas and planes were underground, do you think we’d have more room to fly through the air?

There is a tree by the river with our initials in it. I don’t know how they got there, but they’ll stay there and so will I.

Have you ever heard a bomb outside your window and the debris splashing up against the pane?

Happy tagging!

It Feels Like Stealing

May 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

I won’t lie. It was a big event. It warranted a lunch at Panera in celebration. It’s just not something that happens everyday, you know? My old computer (I get to call it my old computer now, so can you guess what this will be about?) was having problems. At first it started randomly turning off. Then we found out that it was because it was losing battery even while plugged in. I managed to fix it, sometimes, to keep using it. Adam perfected this magic where he’d rub his hand on the adapter really fast until maybe the static charge got it going again? But on Friday I plugged it in and heard this high pitched beeping noise coming from the adapter. When I twisted the wire coming out, it rose in pitch, and that was awesome because it definitely sounded like some overworked employee in China had rigged it with a bomb to go off after the mechanisms had malfunctioned.

My boyfriend and I had been talking about buying me a new computer for a while, even before these obvious problems had started. My computer was old and would freeze up in regular intervals when I’d been browsing the internet for too long or something. So, it was time for it to be put down or at least for it to be more gently used. I needed a computer to keep up with my WPM, okay?

We set Sunday for the day for a visit to Micro Center to get flash drives and a new computer, but yesterday we went to Staples for cardstock. While he was busy inspecting the paper to see if it would be thick enough for the cards for the game he’s currently working on, I said I would be over looking at the laptops. I wanted to shop around, see if they had anything I liked.

Well, they did.

Chiquita : HP G62

Isn’t she beautiful? The biggest thing I tested was the feel of the keyboard. Ideally, I would have loved a Mac keyboard. They are so smooth! Have you ever tried one? It’s great. That’s what I was looking for. This keyboard is almost as smooth, and I also like that the keys aren’t raised over they keyboard, but they’re kind of sunk into it to an extent. Another thing I liked about this computer was the texture around the outside. It even goes over the touch pad area (which, incidentally, you can turn on and off) which is nice because I hate being able to tell when a computer is greasy. So neither the keys nor the touch pad and frame area show grease, the keyboard is smooth, and what else could I want?

At Staples, it was $499 with a $50 rebate. I almost bought it there, but we said we’d wait to go to Micro Center to see if they had a lower price.

So we went there today. The bus ride was an adventure, and it was annoying to Adam to walk with me when the store was in a mall area and we passed so many restaurants on the way and I asked him if he wanted to go to every one of them. I was hungry. Okay, okay, move the story along. Long story short, there was a gorgeous Samsung laptop there that I wanted even more than this one, but it came with a numberpad and I wasn’t too cool with the price. But! Micro Center had the price tag of $549 on this baby. So I asked the employee about it and told them the rebate price at Staples. Well he came back and told me that their price was $449 and that there was also a $30 mail-in rebate.

And then there was a pause. How do you tell someone you want to buy a computer? It felt so weird to me. I felt like there should be a lot of forms to sign, a lot of things required like when you apply for Federal Student Aid or sign a lease for an apartment. But no, I said I wanted to buy it, he tried to sell me extra insurance and a carrying case, and then told me it would be waiting for me at the register. I went there, told the man working I was going to buy a computer and as soon as I gave him my money, we were done.

It felt like stealing. It felt like I hadn’t undergone enough scrutiny. Who was I to make this purchase of this piece of equipment that cost over $400 dollars? This piece of equipment that could get dropped or have water spilled all over it at any moment? It was so risky, and they let me walk out of the store with it in a plastic bag? Out to the bus?

And home? Where I set it up and proceeded to re-download everything? I guess I just expected a little more guidance, but it made me realize that I’m not going to be coached by my parents anymore. There will be no “are you sure you want to spend your money on that?” over my shoulder and neither will there be questions from the salespeople who make their money from making me spend mine. It’s both liberating and confusing, but in any case I’m happy to have a new, working, fantastic laptop.

On a related note, I pick locks now. It’s really easy. No, really. I used a paper clip and a butter knife because Adam lost the locks to his safe and I had to get my passport out to make a copy. You stick the paper clip in to push up the tumblers (they are only on one side, where the pointy parts of the key are) and then you use the butter knife to turn the lock. AND WHOO, NOW YOU CAN GO TO PRAGUE AGAIN! Or at least, I can. Had to turn in a copy of the passport to the office to go! I’m very excited.

Now just let this blog fade out…

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