May, 2008 -- Inside Wawel Castle

Whenever I travel, I keep a diary — I jot down the names of good and bad restaurants, songs playing in coffee shops, ideas I have for novels I’ll someday write, and if possible, the way people speak. When I was in Poland, I wrote down lists of things my friend’s roommate said, mostly because I was fascinated not just by his views of things but how he communicated those views.

Most notable was his story of buying a Barbie doll in the post-Communist era, which became the lede for my story about “how today’s young Poles embrace the West.”

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