I’ve written a few things for Matador Network recently but I’m being published almost as fast as I send over the draft, so it’s been tough to keep up! This is my latest endeavor though. Nearly overnight the piece when viral and I have no idea why. But it’s awesome! Probably my most popular piece yet!
It’s been a crazy experience. I have people who love the post and email me to say how awesome it is that someone has taken an interest in the Czech culture. I have people who absolutely hate me and think I am stereotyping Czechs. I have people who have lambasted my identity, saying that I am not “Czech” even though I have lived in the Czech Republic, have Czech family, and speak the language (oh well…). And then I have Czechs who think it’s hilarious and can’t stop spreading it around.
Compare us to Russians.
We are not, and never have been, Russian. Look on a bloody map — blocked by Poland, the Ukraine, and Belarus, the Czech Republic isn’t anywhere close. We make marionettes, not Matryoshka dolls. We don’t wear babushkas, we have babičkas (Czech grannies). Our country is landlocked so we don’t eat herring, and we drink beer, not vodka.
We don’t know how to read Cyrillic writing, and we don’t care either. The Russian Orthodox church means nothing to us because only about 21% of the country is religious. If you need further convincing, we dislike Russians because the Soviets invaded our country with tanks in 1968, and fucked everything up. So just stop.
I’m proud of this piece, despite whatever negative comments I might receive. Most of them are from expats who think they somehow know the Czech Republic better than I do. I’m not saying I’m all encompassing, but I will say that I proofed the piece with actual Czechs before sending it off, so…You win some you lose some. But I’m happy to have contributed this piece of Czech culture to the world and it makes me love Czechs all the more for it.
Read it here:
I’ve been super busy lately, in all sorts of ways!
New job! I have recently become a Contributing Editor at Matador Network. This is awesome, because A) I love that site to pieces B) my responsibilities have grown, including become the Web Submissions Manager (so if you send a piece to us via our website, I’ll be checking it over!), and C) I get business cards! It’s been an incredible learning process so far and I am so excited to be a part of this wonderful company. We are growing more and more every day and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.
Blogging A to Z Challenge. I’ve been participating in this cool bloggers collective for the past month, and while I haven’t published on time every day, I’ve done my best to keep up the pace. My focus is on travel and the places I’ve been, save for Japan, which is a place I’d very much like to go! It’s been a fun and creative way to participate with blogs around the world and gain more exposure for my site.
TBEX update. I was schedule to arrive Friday night after work, and stay until Sunday night, but that’s no fun! My site is getting bigger and bigger and my work at Matador is expanding as well, so I said “screw it, let’s do TBEX right!” and I changed my flight to arrive a full day and a half earlier. Now I’ll be there from May 30th to June 2nd, tearing Toronto UP! I’m super excited and happy that I was able to seamlessly make these changes.
eBooks. I’m writing a couple of eBooks, crazy! One of them is about my travel experiences but the other is a slight deviation on a theme I’ve written about before – relationships. I’m not sure when they will be published but when they are I’ll put up a special offer on this site!
Lots of exciting things happening, and more to come I’m sure! What developments have happened in your life lately?
This is a fun little piece I wrote when I first became a Staff Writer for Matador Network. I love pole dance as a workout and also to spice things up a bit in the bedroom, and it is becoming more popular across the world. I thought it might be cool to see other pole studios and how they run things. The South Pole part is pretty corny but again, the piece itself is more of a humorous, edgy highlight than a serious example of a new exercise craze.
BodyMind Studios, Cape Town, South Africa
BodyMind Studios has a few locations in the larger cities of South Africa, and their methodology is similar to what you’d find elsewhere. What sets them apart is their involvement in Miss Pole Dance South Africa. The aim of the competition is to promote pole dancing as not only an erotic pastime, but a sport that utilizes creativity and expresses strength in a unique way. Students from BodyMind Studios compete for the title with their unique displays of “technique, flexibility, grace, agility and sexiness.” And yes, admission is open to the public.
Have you ever tried pole dancing before? If not, do you ever think you would? What are your feelings about this new form of “sexercise?”
This past September, I traveled to Iceland. It was awesome, in part because I got to hike on a glacier where Game of Thrones is filmed. If you ever get to Iceland, it’s worth it to drive the five hours from Reykjavik along the southeastern coast, visit Skaftafell National Park and take glacier hike. You don’t need to be very physically fit but you should be able to keep up with the spritely guides.
I sort of feel like a member of the Night’s Watch as my group of six travelers ascends the glacier, searching for harm against the kingdom I’ve sworn to protect. It would be cooler to be a Wildling though, scavenging for food, scouting for shelter from storms, and being an overall badass nomad. It’s only September, but “winter is coming.” The sun is bright, but the ground of this glacier is hard and icy, and the wind is strong, stinging my cheeks. Today, we are the only group hiking on Svínafellsjökull. I can’t help but think — if we suddenly encounter a band of White Walkers, will we survive?
I love Game of Thrones and I had so much fun writing this article. I’m surprised it hasn’t gotten more exposure, but GoT fans are weird that way I suppose. Sometimes people don’t want to take away the fantasy and replace it with reality, for fear that the magic will be lost. No big deal, I still enjoyed getting paid to write about one of my most favorite TV shows.
Although, I’m secretly hoping a scout spots our diligent clan and asks if we want to be extras for a day. I’ll gladly walk around wearing 20lbs of black fur, leather, and feathers at the Night’s Watch camp, or play a motionless Wildling, victim of a White Walker attack. What’s that? Kit Harington has asked me to dinner after the shoot?
Well, a fangirl can dream.
Read it here:
This is an interesting piece for Matador that has sparked some debate. What is the author trying to portray here? Is this another example of “White person dominating developing nation’s customs”? Is she merely using the people and place as a backdrop to tell her own story? How do you distinguish when a travel piece is no longer about the travel, and more about personal glorification?
This piece could have taken a disastrous turn, but I think the author did well to keep a low-profile. I personally connected with the story because I also practiced West African drumming in Ghana. It’s not easy, and it’s also hard to engage in. Drumming in Ghana is a male-dominated art. The women dance, which is a challenging in itself, but the men drum. A local will never deny you the chance to practice drumming if you are an outsider, but to show this craft in front of others is not always socially acceptable.
More people began to fill in the clearing. When there was quite a crowd assembled, the master drummer pulled me over to his group and handed me the bell. “What!?” I exclaimed with wide eyes. He said something quickly in the language I had only just come to recognize and ushered me to a seat next to one of the drummers. I looked around frantically for my translator. I wasn’t ready to play the bell. The bell was the most important instrument in any drum ensemble because it kept the time for all of the drummers. If the bell player got off beat, everyone got off beat. I knew the rhythm they were about to play. It was a rhythm for Afa, the god who acts as the go between for the other gods. I knew the rhythm, knew the song they would sing. But I wasn’t ready to play it in front of a huge crowd of people. The noises of the crowd died down and it was too late to protest. The master drummer made eye contact with me and nodded. I began to play.
What do you think about her writing? I found it to be very compelling. Do you think she could have changed it in any way?
Link to the essay: