coconut jewel cupcakes 1Mondays are a bitch.

They always start with an early morning run, finish with a two-hour evening class and offer little joy in between except for a homemade ham sandwich and a bag of dried apples.

At 2 p.m. my phone beeps with a message from my Czech teacher, M.

I have a surprise for you. Meet me at Nova Scena at 8.

While I love surprises—cupcakes, canceled classes, smiles from people on the tram—M’s surprises often take the form of physical exercise. I have been surprised by hilly hikes and journeys to cafes that resided at the top of endless stretches of stairs.

Despite my history with this word, I hope for an iced pastry of some sort.

After some NCIS action (Google) I find out that the Prague Writer’s Festival is at Nova Scena and that the headlining speakers are Anita Desai and Hanif Kurieshi. I am excited, but wary. Excited enough to momentarily forget about the ham sandwich I left on my kitchen counter that morning. Wary as I imagine M signing us up to build the stage or carry Hanif around in a sedan.

But it doesn’t happen like this at all.

That evening, Anita Desai answers questions from a man who seems as though he is pursing a PhD in douchebaggery. She is peaceful, wise and thoughtful in her answers. Then she reads a story, which is about a man witnessing his own death. She reads it in a quiet and melodic amble fit to put you into a comfortable sleep for the night.

Hanif Kurieshi speaks about writing and life, his early jobs writing porn and how to write books. His manner is charismatic and coolly demanding of attention. He talks about the difficulty in writing a novel, how long it takes, how impossible it is to organize and still make it look almost casual. I am so inspired that I want to jump up and shout, “I understand this!”

These interviews give me that get up and go that you should get at the end of a good movie. Like how The Karate Kid makes you want to beat up bullies, Dirty Dancing makes you want to move to a mountain resort in the Catskills and molest rich people and Shine makes you want to become a musician and poop in your own bath.

After their talks I want to run to my house and sit in my office writing until morning. But that’s when M gives me the second part of my surprise.

And so, on the long walk to a small section of Prague to try out a nice tea house, I can only think one thing.

Mondays are a bitch.


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