The Little Mother


Winter in the city.


Let that word sink into your mind for a moment.

What did you think of?

When I was younger, growing up in the Santa Cruz mountains in Northern California, I knew nothing of this city until November 1989. Sitting in my TV room, still cracked and disorganized from our earthquake a month before in October, I watched the Velvet Revolution unfold through ABC News. I was eight years old at the time and didn’t understand a thing about communism, 1968, the Cold War, or anything geopolitical. Without any of that background, I knew from the scenes I watched that somewhere in a faraway land that I could hardly pronounce, a lot of people were angry. From those images, the word Prague conjured somewhere dark. Forbidden. Maybe a little gothic. Cold. Somewhere in Europe’s east. So went my first introduction.

A few months later, one of my neighbors, a friendly older university librarian with a bohemian family, had one of his sons return from backpacking in Czechoslovakia. One of the outfits the son always wore was a black t-shirt from one of his favorite pubs in Prague, with the shirt loudly proclaiming towards its bottom the pub’s history going back to 1295. Decades later, I realized that my neighbor’s son was part of that first wave of American visitors to Czechoslovakia in the early 1990s, capitalizing on newly-opened borders, cheap beer and food, new frontiers, easy jobs, and maybe even finding the new Paris resembling what the Lost Generation flocked to in the 1920s. Still to this day, I wonder what pub in Prague my neighbor’s son had liked so much, wondering even if it even still exists today. If it had survived everything since 1295, I guess it still does.

Two decades later, I find myself living and working here in the Little Mother, as Kafka once called it. Having studied for my master’s degree in Germany for two and a half years, and then living in the eastern Czech city of Hradec Králové for a year, I was transferred to Prague for my work as an English teacher in the summer of 2013.

There’s so much to say about this place. There’s so much to tell about this country.

So, I’ve decided to start this blog to tell you what it’s like here, as well as to also describe other places that come past. This isn’t trying to be some vanity project, but rather work as an open diary about the place I now call home, along with the experiences that come with it.