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19 September 2005

the missing on the far side of discomfort


the current music selection involves thorazine.

i dedicate the remainder of my trip to the pursuit of discomfort. i know now what she meant: the trail to true traveller salvation leads through uncomfortable situations. i think i've been too concerned about being a tourist, the one who doesn't belong. and maybe this is deeper in me beyond just the scope of this trip, but regardless, it seems an appropriate setting to confront it. it is against [me] to walk willingly into the dark; far easier to stay in the light. i'll need to make a concerted effort to force myself. because what is the purpose of this journey? to seek the differences, yes, but i've been missing something important in my struggle to not appear the outsider. i think i'll find the missing on the far side of discomfort. discomfort is the beginning. so, to the readers, i must request your assistance in this endeavor. please push me screaming and kicking back into the dark when i stray. i'm serious. i envision these pushes in the form of challenges, as in 'i challenge you to eat crickets in vietnam', 'i challenge you to outrun a dragon on komodo', or 'i challenge you to experience gravity in new zealand.'. i challenge you to challenge me; the reconboard is waiting.

i will significantly increase the percentage of photos which focus on people. this will take some time and practice. i have a gigantic shimmering shining silver camera which doesn't know the meaning of the word 'discretion'. in addition, the three seconds of start up can mean the difference between capturing a brilliant moment and capturing the nothingness after the the moment passes. yet another shortcoming of my camera: the black halo effect that appears in some of my photos is definitely a design limitation during full zoom out. i can't believe i didn't notice the halo earlier; now i can't not. quite irritating. i feel i've advanced to the level above and i'd like to replace the camera, but i really can't justify spending 1k usd right now.

i miss my blackness. after three months, you would have thought that i'd have gotten used to the blue jeans and brilliantly browns. not at all. it will be a heavy day in hell when i pull the black boots on again. jenn and jamie, you are the keepers of the boots... can you feel their power?

end of the randomness. so what have i been doing for the past month in prague? i've been rebuilding the internal inferno and now i'm burning inside again.

the night sarah left, 07 august, i checked into the u melounu hostel with a lovely central garden in praha 2 for two nights. the hostel was full on the third day; i transferred to sir toby's hostel in praha 7 where i stayed for four nights and never learned the kitten's name. all the while i scanned the internet searching for a rebuilding room. i bought a beginner czech language book and created and studied an extensive vocabulary list all college student style. black is cerny. at the end of chapter one i was able to successfully decode a paragraph describing objects in a room. i never made it to chapter two, highly discouraged after three separate czech people told me not even to bother, the grammar is far too difficult and one month is not nearly enough. i'm one to conquer what others have not but realistically, i feared the acquired would leave me soon after i left the republic.

i looked at four flats and with energy ever waning after seven days of exhausting searching, i moved into the fourth at karmelitska 30, praha 1, with an amazing view of the prague castle, minutes from the charles bridge. i went to work immediately with the recharging, enjoying copious amounts of early morning sleep without the bother of cleaning personnel or checkout times or noisy dorm room roommates. after a few days, i'd reverted to my regular night time schedule; writing in this journal during the dark, sleeping during the light; i even went so far as to purchase a distressing sleeping mask to help dull the daytime brightness. but even the mask couldn't save me from a complete day/night reversal; as my night was ending i walked to the bridge to watch the sun rise. one of my roommates kept a similar schedule.

danny is a self proclaimed elitist with all of the traits associated with the self proclaimed elite; a 24 year old eating machine american from california, letting his days drift as he works on a book; he knows the meaning of life, a philospher, perhaps someday a physicist, but hopefully not always an elitist. laura is french, paris and lyon with six years in the carribean, martinique and guadaloupe; 20 years old, smiling and friendly, i harrass her endlessly with what she describes as a terrible french accent, finally i had a teacher. her english is excellent, but of course she doesn't think so; i told her that if she can get the 'th' sound down it will go kilometers to improving her mastery of the language.

i used my superior system administrator skills to install danny's inferior usb dsl modem; systems were online for approximately two weeks until the phone company eventually shut down the connection. it came to light that danny hadn't paid the phone bill for four months; i was less than pleased as the internet was a deciding factor when i took the room. i wanted to catch up with the entries here and had a lot of online travel arrangements to make. i handled all of the interactions with the czech phone company; learned that the line was not simply shut down temporarily for non-payment, in fact it was shut down permanently and would have to be reprovisioned from nothing, a fifteen days of waiting. i wouldn't be waiting.

i went out to a club several times with danny and laura, separately, and on several of those times, i had a bit too much czech beer and once ended up crawling across danny's unclean floor. less of a crawling actually and more of a sliding, propelled by pushing feet. prague is filled with americans, this club in particular. i danced to highly suspect music. met laura's very friendly czech and french colleagues: vladka, agnes, nicholas, nichola, carole, and clara. met lars, the club's danish dj, basir, born in india, now residing in denmark, and steve, a filipino american.

on 23 august 2005, i went to a show to see a horrible touring canadian band; enjoyed one of the opening czech bands far more, specifically one of their songs entitled 'don't trust klingons' during which a second vocalist, 'captain picard', came onstage to double the chorus. i kept a close watch on the flyers hanging around town and scanned the web regularly for other shows, but this was the only show which appealed to me.

on 31 august 2005, i visited the technical museum in prague and saw a special exhibit on hr giger, creator of the alien monster. kick.

the supreme counsel of the global reconnaissance organization held a covert meeting during the first week of september 2005 to calculate mission success rates given the physical appearance of the primary recon agent. results weren't good; the beard was attracting too much negative attention and making it difficult to meet new people. the order came down from the highest levels of command to clean up, shave, and cut my hair. i complied on 03 september 2005, a few days before applying for my visa at the indian embassy in prague.

on 08 september 2005, laura and i took a trip to kutna hora, about an hour and a half southwest of prague. she'll deny it, but it was her fault that we got off the train at the wrong stop. [l: ha!] the prime target for me was the ossuary chapel. remember the schwarzenburg coat of arms from cesky krumlov? the ossuary chapel in kutna hora shows a similar schwarzenburg coat of arms made entirely out of human bones... complete with the raven pecking the eye out of a fallen turk soldier's severed head. [the full 08 september kutna hora gallery can be found here. all of the bones shown in the pictures are human and real. more information on the kutna hora and the ossuary chapel can be found at http://www.kutnahora.cz.]

my mom and her husband, george, visited 10 - 17 september 2005. two days in prague; the mucha museum. alfons maria mucha: a genius; i will absolutely be decorating my walls with his work when i return home. back down to the mother city, luhacovice. this time i'd brought blood more pure. my mother had brought all of the postcards and i was able to capture more pictures. we visited the museum woman again with the originals and learned that she'd attended school with a prachar in the neighboring town of pozlovice. we took a bus and found what sarah and i had not during our search in luhacovice a month before: a gravesite bearing the family name; most certainly some distant relation. truly gigantic. the two men had been born shortly after my great grandmother had emmigrated in 1905; they would have been infants referenced in the cards. we returned to prague after spending three days in a town the name of which my mother could not pronounce.

i've been bringing the globalrecon systems back online. laundry is done. i'm getting all of my equipment back in order. it's time to continue the mission. tempus perditur. tomorrow i'll be leaving prague and the czech republic; destination: krakow, poland.

posted by paul on Mon 19 Sep 2005 at 00:00:00 est (-05:00)


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