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Katlyn writes about history, travel, and culture… with some snark. www.KatlynRoberts.com.

Past Is Prologue

What a princess, a knight, and an evil dragon can teach us about Covid-19

A CGI of a dragon breathing fire while flying in the air against a dark cloudy background.
Photo: Coneyl Jay/Getty Images

We have not even to risk the adventure alone for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path. And where we had thought to find an abomination we shall find God. And where we had thought to slay another we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outwards we shall come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone we shall be with all the world.

— Joseph Campbell

I’ve lived in Catalonia, a…

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This. Changes. Everything.

Mitri the Scribe looking fresh as ever.

Mitri the Scribe was once the highest-paid servant of Pharaoh Unas in the 24th century BC. He was the guy you went to if you wanted a temple built, or a letter written, or if you needed a funny idea for a personalized license plate. Now he sits in the middle of a room at the Cairo Museum, unmoving, unblinking…

…but very much alive.

Really, this is a story about a tour guide. I promise I’m going to get back to Mitri, our Lord and Savior whom I met in Egypt, but first I want one of my favorite scribes…


Check in with your audience and avoid shouting into the void

Photo by Wynand van Poortvliet on Unsplash

According to a study by Microsoft, humans now have an attention span of eight seconds. Eight seconds! Don’t ask me for details on the study, I only skimmed it. And please don’t click away to that study link, I only included it so you’d believe me.

Anyway, if you’ve made it to this second paragraph, congrats! You’re a rare breed. Though you’ll notice that I’ve increased my odds by appealing to writers in my title. Writers tend to be readers by nature and practice. Reading articles from start to finish is like our daily push-up routine. …


The inevitability (and responsibility) of getting swept up in another country’s politics.

A Catalonian Independence protest/general strike. Photo by NOTAVANDAL on Unsplash

Two years ago, I stood on my apartment balcony in Barcelona, Spain, and watched a group of 40–50 young people with dark clothes and bandanas tied around their faces as they dragged every nearby dumpster from the sidewalks to the middle of the crosswalks and set them on fire. Within minutes, three massive dumpster fires blazed, sending up plumes of black smoke that forced a woman on her own balcony across the street to retreat inside.

As the flames grew, police vans stormed the intersection and the fire-starters ran in every direction. Several vans clipped the flaming dumpsters themselves in…


“Orwellian debate” is an oxymoron, but that appears to be what we’re having.

Image by Stafford GREEN from Pixabay

Tourists go to George Orwell Square in Barcelona all the time, hoping to relive that spooked/sanctimonious feeling they felt when they first read 1984 as an angry teenager. They’re often disappointed by the fact that the square has nothing to do with Orwell. He probably passed by… once... maybe… sometime between signing up to fight a war against fascism and getting shot in the neck.

“They laid me down again while somebody fetched a stretcher. As soon as I knew that the bullet had gone clean through…


OMG, they were tomb-mates.

Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, as depicted in their tomb in the necropolis at Saqqara, Egypt

I’m going to rip the bandaid off real quick here by letting all my gaybies know that there is significant (as in “much”, not “important”) debate about the nature of the relationship between Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, two royal manicurists whose shared tomb was discovered at Saqqara, Egypt in 1964. But isn’t there always significant debate when it comes to historical LGBTQ+ relationships?

“Oh, they slept in the same bed, went everywhere together, cherished each other’s romantic/erotic letters, called each other ‘my love’, and had each other’s zodiac signs tattooed on their asses? …Gal pals.”

Granted, I could probably get to…


Strangers, symbols, and signs from the universe.

Photo by capt_tain Tom on Flickr

When I was at my sickest, when I was worried for my life and the lives of my loved ones, there was the little girl with the light.

She lived across the plaza from me in the Dreta de ‘Eixample (“Right of the Extension”) district of Barcelona. In the plaza, there was a garden with a water tower, built in 1862 to ensure safe drinking water to the area. Now it was decommissioned and the base had been converted into a small kiddie pool for parents to take their babies to as an alternative to the tourist-packed beach. …


A celebration of science and spirit.

Interior of the Sagrada Familia Cathedral. Architect-Antoni Gaudí. Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Photo by Eleonora Albasi on Unsplash

I’ve started a little tradition for myself. I never leave La Sagrada Familia Cathedral without sitting down in a pew and meditating, specifically on what it means to live a sacred life.

I’m not a religious person, but I think a sacred life means looking up and around at your surroundings, lifting your face to the light, connecting with the work of someone who had something profound to say, whether that be God’s own work or that of some charming old architect who died in 1926 with faith in his heart — a faith that takes both attention and intention…


And why you feel like an a-hole for complaining about it now.

Martyrdom of Saint Ciricus and his mother Juliitta represented in the Romanesque antependium (frontal altar), known as the Durro antependium, dated to the mid-12th century, originally from the Sant Quirc de Durro chapel in the Vall de Boí area in Alta Ribagorça in Catalonia, Spain, now on display in the National Art Museum of Catalonia in Barcelona, ​​Catalonia, Spain. Photo courtesy of the author… who will never un-see it and now you can’t either.

Churches in Europe are on a whole other level, man. And yet I’m somehow drawn to them like I was to the Cinnabon shop back at the mall in Tucson. There’s something irresistible about an over-opulent assault on the senses mixed with guilt and bodily hostility.

I can’t believe I pulled that comparison off.

See, since pain is, in many senses, invisible, and one of the only methods we have to measure it or express it to one another is language, I thought maybe if I couched this cringe-worthy topic within the folds of a delectable dessert, it might take…


It’s great, actually. Everything’s fine. Nothing excruciating to see here.

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

As a previously healthy and semi-vital Long-Haul Covid sufferer, I’m asking myself several key questions these days:

  1. WTFishappening?!Whywon’tthisstop?!WhatdidIdotodeservethis?!Owowowowow!
  2. By the time experts know more about the long-term effects of this, am I going to be an irreversible pile of mush? Or worse, a dead pile of mush? Seriously, what’s happening to me?
  3. Wait. …Am I someone with chronic pain now?

I got sick with Covid back in March of 2020 and my symptoms were mostly neurological rather than respiratory, which is rare for Covid but definitely not unheard of. …

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