Friday, July 10, 2009

Half-way Done

Jobs that are halfway done

1. Bathtub Plumbing
2. Kitchen Door
3. Rearranging Living Room
4. Toilet Plumbing
5. Cleaning

Notice how I didn't say halfway not-done. This is not just because this is a grammatically unnatural construction. It is also because I am an incurable optimist. Yep. That's me. Pollyanna all the time.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Day of Death Part 2

This story is so totally not worth the month-long wait. Not sure what happened to me. Not sure I'm back, but I can at least finish the narrative. I'm giving new meaning to the phrase "unreliable narrator".

Recall that we were on the train on the way to Kutna Hora's creepy bone museum, and the introvert (me) was for once in charge of our plans, while the extrovert (Byn) was not excited about them. Predictably, when we arrived in the small town, I chose not to ask for directions. (Talk to strangers who might not speak English? No, let's just wander around. I'm sure we'll find it.) We came to a cemetery, and I said something like, "Well, this must be the consecrated ground. Look how crowded the headstones are."

What you might not realize, if you've never been in Europe, is that even in death, Americans claim a whole lot more real estate than our European counterparts. We have all this space, see, so why not make a cemetery with rolling hills and spreading lawns and winding roads past trees and ponds? Why not choose a family plot that is approximately the size of your living room? Why not make a death room to match? We have space, and we can always head west if we need more.

So, yeah, the headstones were crowded together to our eyes, but it still might not have been the right cemetery. I don't know that it wasn't, because, of course, I didn't ask for directions, but it seems like maybe it wasn't, because we could find no evidence of the ossuary. What we did find, in the middle of the crowded, small town cemetery was a shed. Being tourists, we did what tourists do, and we snooped. We stood on tiptoes and peeked in the windows, and we found dusty stacks of femurs carefully piled up against the walls of the shed. We saw a rusty rolling cart full of old banana boxes, each one packed with skulls. We saw sunlight filtered through dust reflect off the grimy bones.

"Is this the ossuary? How old is that guidebook?" I asked Byn.

"Do you think these are spare parts for the bone museum?" he asked.

"It's creepy."

"Let's get out of here."

And so we left into the sunshine, past the Marlboro factory, over to Byn's cathedral where we hung out on the lawn smelling the tobacco in the air and awaiting the arrival of the next train back to Prague. Our willpower to see creepy bone art sapped by the stark reality of Dole banana boxes filled with ancient human heads. Perhaps, looking back on it, a trip to a cigarette-producing town with a bone shrine was not the best way to spend the afternoon with someone so recently grieving the deaths of two parents from cancer. Sometimes, I'm not as sensitive as you think I am.

The bone place does exist, and we even rode back to Prague next to two perky tour-guides-in-training who showed us pictures and post-cards of it. But the two of us never found it. We'd had quite enough death for one day.