Sunday, January 31, 2010

the sun finally does rise in Prague

Have you ever been so thirsty to see a sunrise that you wake up your flatmate just to see it? I had been here for three weeks and the only sign was the brightening the clouds and that was how I knew the day had begun. Winter skies are often dark with pregnant clouds yielding their fat snow flakes. During the winter months, you have to have just a bit of faith that the sun still exists.

The sun was a shade of red I forgot existed. I was able to gaze with wonder at this red ball of light and reflect on the many sun rises I observed in South Korea. What I marvelled at was how the sun just appeared to always be white, a different position on our globe, a different season and I felt like I discovered a new view.

How each new day appears as something new and even though I appreciate winters far more now than I had in my youth, I always get up to see a sunrise. Perhaps it is in the promise of a new day, the power it represents. While we live we still have the power to make anything possible.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sounds of The Prague Royal Orchestra

The old Bethlehem church had their outdoor statues adorned with flowers and gifts with the burning candles and homeless praying to statues. I was reminded of the classic line from Beowolf, "No god will help us when we can help ourselves." Often the stench of strong drink clouds a sober mind, and I wonder how many paths and directions we all go in at times, but no commentary on the lives of the street. No judgment about their lives. The streets are perfumed by the hot wine stands, the cheese rounds on display as the snow comes down and meat is roasted over open wood pits. I look and see etched faces in the marble and marvel at the gifts we all have. Down the road, I found a gift, in the Municipal House of Prague.
A brief description of the House which houses several restaurants and concert halls which I found while I was on a different quest and I opened the door and found heaven on earth. "The concert halls of the Municipal House is one of Prague´s most impressive and significant concert halls, primarly due to superior acoustic and its magnificient Art Nouveau interior. The building is crowned by the outstanding decor created by most of the prominent Czech artists of the day, namely the painters and the sculptors: Alfons Mucha, Max Svabinsky, Frantisek Zenisek, Bohumil Kafka, Josef Vaclav Myslbek."
In this place, I found all of my loves, art, jazz, Mozart and Vivaldi. I also was able to realize one of my dreams today, to sit in the front row and listen to heaven. I went in alone, but I am never lonely. My eyes filled with pink marble, the carvings, the paintings, the statues, and the feel of so much of the history of what it must have been like in the past and the flourishing of the future. I wanted to weep with the pleasure I was simply feeling just walking in the corridors or sitting in a booth while drinking a glass of wine. I wanted to multiple the time, the moments, and stretch it out and savour it.
My eyes were opened wide. How often to you go into a place and just feel the experience as if it was a holy moment? How often do you go to a place and realize where you are? The person that gave me my ticket at the booth saw in my eyes the deep love I had, and discounted my ticket. When I asked for a front row seat, she said to me, "I love to sit in the front row too. There is no other seat like it."
I saw them play, without anyone obscuring my view. I was incredibly happy to learn that as much as I wanted to photograph I could...and I hope they always allow their visitors to be able to have this opportunity. I don't know if I will ever be able to come back to Prague, but for now I am here.
I am amazed that people believe classical music will die. This violinist is a rock star. From the front row in Prague, in the Municipal House. With my little camera, I captured this moment. I am no expert film maker (ha ha ha), but what good is an experience if you can't share it.
That is why I am sharing it with you.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Religious Relic of St Vitus Cathedral

I like to be more timely in my posts, however, getting adjusted and settling into Prague, in combination with the obligations I have signed on for here have been challenging at times. Like trying to understand how and why things are done the way they are done has been at times somewhat amusing. The real world events of the Haitian earthquake has also dampened my enthusiasm for sharing my side ventures...which seem pathetic at this time. Human suffering never seems to stop for a moment. So many tell us to pray, but to what? So it kind of seemed appropriate that I happened to see St Vitus Cathedral in Prague. It seems like an artifact of the darkness I now associate with religion. Religion likes to blame things on perceived sins. Was it sin that causes children to die from the mounds of earth that shifted in an area that had not known an earthquake in over 200 years??? Do we need to blame something or someone for tragedy? So as I looked as this rendition of the ark of the covenant, I realized the full symbology of how this symbol was to protect and strengthen all of those who would battle in the name of a god, as long as this ark was before the warring army, giving false courage to those who would raise their weapons against others. Well, my thoughts on war have been long abandoned, but I still ponder how people are manipulated through many means. It usually is in the most malicious ways, using those things we love and cherish to serve their ambitions. It is at those points, we are so much like sheep.

Still, I found signs of Paris in Prague. In a cafe, the Eiffel looked at me. Through the snow excreting skies, I saw the tip of the replica calling me.
I still am beginning my journey to discover this city, this jewel that has just started to taste freedom again. Just a beautiful journey. I realize that more and more each day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dobry Den from Prague

If you want to feel like going back in time, there is nothing like taking a train during winter from Paris to Prague. The snows were coming down blanketing Europe delays and cancelations of all forms of travel, except for my charmed trains. I watched the ticker of the schedule canceling all Eurostar trains bound for the UK, and the other lines were on the brink of the same fate at Gare du Nord. I was one number off, and mine was still a go despite a 20 minute delay. Incredibly, I was booked to share a car with other femmes...but as fate would have it...I got a car all to myself. Getting the perk without having to pay for it when I boarded the change of trains in Köln Germany was like getting an unexpected gift. I however learned quickly why I was given two bottles of running water on the the irony of seeing a shower and the towels and soap reminded me of (ahem) a more horrific time in history.

I realized these routes had more horrific destinations, and I am sorry, but being on a train, where the end point was Moscow, really made me feel the full weight of history. Yes, I was (am) obsessed with the history of the second world war as we went along and through the dark snowy night...I crawled into the bed...really more of a litter and looked out the window, pulling the curtain down just enough to feel the rocking of the rails.
I arrived in Prague, met by a wonderful girl, named Helena. Helena's English had the most wonderful accent, perfectly imperfect English, that seemed to be the right dramatic effect to go along with the surrounding area. Helena later took the bulk of our motley crew on an adventurous tour, snow and all through the center of Prague. I feel like I have this growing love affair with the city, the cold, the snow, and of course the depth of the history that lies within their bones. Just over 11 million people live in the Czech Republic. Though they are apart of the EU, they resisted the Euro, which the people are very proud of that fact. As one local told me, 'it protected us from what the rest of Europe is going through.'
While we toasted our journey, our beginnings, we are this group of teachers who all breathed in for a moment what being here really means to each and every one of us. There is such a positive energy in this group that is unmistakable.
The beginnings of a journey that has a smile and a huge sense of humor, even if it means falling down a time or two in the snow...sliding down a hill and screaming at the top of my lungs as if I was 10 years old again...while I still can do it.
As this graph clearly illustrated for me...yes, 'I'm stronger...' but even more so...I am stronger than I even thought I was. Let's make most of this time...this adventure continues on.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Père Lachaise - Regret a Horrible Word

Today is my last full day in Paris, and of course I had to say goodbye in Père Lachaise, it just seemed appropriate. While I was looking in the columbarium, one word that I kept seeing over and over again jumped out.
Placard upon placard...the word 'regrets' was plastered on the wall. I know the intention was to express sorrow over the passing, but how often to we set ourselves up for those needling results that prick you like a damn cactus on steroids. Having regret, most often implies hurting someone, which usually is your own self. However, I am glad for my imperfections, I have learned a hell of a lot from them. Before you start thinking I am this type-A perfectionist (well, wait, yes, that IS me), I really do try to find the rainbows after the storms come through. Except there are no rainbows during the winter months in Paris, just a dusting of snow.
So I tried to find a few scenes of beauty along the way. Paris has a way about making death into art. The grave above amused me. It was a young man who the prime of his life. I looked at every angle of this gent to note the top hat, the waist coat of the era, his boots, and something else. The gent's image, well, whoever was commissioned to make this likeness, took extra care to ensure the man's pants were unbuttoned. I immediately fell in love.
The beauty with the dead flowers..sitting on a bench to one of my personal favorites; Marcel Proust...a red rose and the thoughts of me reading, "The Prisoner" on the way to Paris.
It isn't a bad thing to walk through and visit...not at all. It puts it all into perspective. No regrets darling...not ever. We just do our best to not injure those along the way...our bodies do have an expiration date. I believe it is a good thing to remember to make the most of whatever time we DO have. We forget at times how temporary everything is, so don't make it more difficult than it needs to be.

Good journeys to all of you. Next stop...well...stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Place de la Concorde

Place de la Concorde is not the center of Paris, but it should be. From here you are able to view and access the Louvre, Avenue des Champs-Élysées, see the Eiffel Tower, the obelisk of Luxor, and have a stroll through the history of Triumphs and Tragedies. Here, it seems, history, literature, art, and life pulses through these streets.
Paris is simple and complex. The people have endured revolution, been conquered and have conquered others. Often Americans forget, without France there would be no America. Without America, there would be swastikas flying still in the streets of Paris. This blood line between the two nations is deep and strong. In every sense of the words of Liberty and Freedom, these two nations are tied together under the constant tides and changes in the air that seem to project the challenge of the pursuit of life. Freedom is an intangible notion that people innately chase externally, through a person's own definitions of what that truly means is often in question. To be what you want. To do what you want. To experience the full nature of what it means to live for those brief moments of time we are given.
The appearances of grandeur, royalty...all remain. The people did not destroy these images when they changed their government by force. It is a testament that all governments should heed. The government should fear the people because it is for the people that governments exist. Yet, we also need to realize that governments are designed to serve.
The great wheel is up, and it spun around, displays for the tourists to see. However, it amazes me how the sounds of Paris are the sounds of many languages, cultures and creeds. I looked at the wheel in sheer appreciation. Just a wheel, perhaps, but the people still come just for the moment of seeing this grand dame of a city. The wheel evolved to provide comfort, instead of feeling the cold air sting the cheeks of those who used to ride the open chairs.
A wonderful footbridge is not far away that crosses the Seine. The steps going up and over the murky waters that churn with tourist boats...but there are no cars on this bridge. Just us.
And the locks that are placed along the bridge...the locks of love...of pledges two people who try to give love a go...for whatever time that may be...a moment or a lifetime.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Cross Roads of Pigalle

Pigalle is the guilt ridden playground of Paris. Along Boulevard de Clichy, it seems that it is all about sex and exhibitions or to put it simply, sensual pleasure without the real sensuality. The candy carnal knowledge seems to grow in economic downtimes. It just goes in cycles of seeing the same things over and over again...except there is even less mystery, less mystique, and it becomes more about the money.
Pigalle is the cross road of excess and falls under the shadow of the Catholic church. This strange guilt factor that casts this huge shadow over Clichy. Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre attracts a daily pilgrimage of tourists and merchants alike. People don't come for a religious experience, but for the mere sake of seeing the complete landscape of the city (perhaps that is a religious experience).
When you think about the emotions people tie to a flag, a picture of a loved one, or the symbols of what people associate with love and it really necessary to beat our beings about with all of the nonsense of guilt and control? Just a few random questions along the journey...but I believe those are questions we all should ask ourselves.
Can liberty exist if you deny yourself the ability to feel free? From the cross-roads of Pigalle in the 18 eme...with love.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010

It was with complete amazement that I heard the sound of beauty in the Metro Tunnels of Paris on New Year's Eve. I guess I am a huge softy as I wanted to cry hearing this beautiful music in the most austere conditions that the Paris Metros can be. There was no second guessing myself as I pulled out my camera in wonder to capture the magic of this moment. The mood was high, as if the whole of the city could not wait for 2009 to be over and done with. In the transit of the day, as people were rushing off to celebrate, there were no fireworks at the Eiffel this year.
Here this group came together with open instrument cases and the passion of their gifted hands. It was with wonder I listened in the crossroads on Metro lines 1 and 4...too brilliant for this scene, like displaced art that made me want to move it to a different venue. The venue didn't seem to bother them, because the joy of just being able to play poured out of these young talents.
As I continued on in the night as the revelry continued with life pouring in and out of the metros I made it over to Jim Hayne's flat once again, and brought in the New Year with new friends from across the world...a cross road, a way point for the curious people of life.
Happy New Year from Paris...Life is beautiful at times...and this is one of those times.