A church has occupied the site of Geneva’s St. Pierre Cathedral since the 6th century, and one can visit every layer of its history for a mere 18 francs. The cathedral is home to Geneva’s Protestant Reformed Church. John Calvin worshipped here during the Reformation. In many European cities, churches like these are Catholic. I was surprised to find a Protestant church of this age and scale and had to take a closer look.

I was surprised to find a Protestant church of this age and scale and had to take a closer look at St. Pierre in Switzerland.

The front of St Pierre is a melange of architectural styles reflecting its long history. The current building dates from the 16th-17th century.

Many surprises were found underneath the sanctuary of Geneva's St Pierre in Switzerland.

The church interior is stark and minimal. It was renovated in the late 20th century. Many surprises were found underneath the sanctuary.

Architectural details of Geneva's St. Pierre Cathedral in Switzerland.

I always love to find these creatures lurking here and there.

St Pierre hosts an active congregation. These colorful reminders were scattered throughout the building.

St Pierre hosts an active congregation. These colorful reminders were scattered throughout the building.

From the north tower of St Pierre Cathedral, one has a panoramic view of Geneva, the Rhône, the lake, and both the French Alps and Jura Mountains.

From the north tower, one has a panoramic view of Geneva, the Rhône, the lake, and both the French Alps and Jura Mountains. It’s worth climbing over 200 stairs. I know how many there were because a little boy was counting behind me. I told him how impressed I was with his counting abilities, and he didn’t even break his concentration to say thanks. Which was perfect.

Underneath Geneva's St Pierre Cathedral lies an extensive archeological museum.

Underneath the church lies an extensive archeological museum.

I spent over an hour wandering from 6th century to 13th century ruins, baptisteries, catacombs complete with exposed bones, wells, monks’ quarters, and architectural remnants. This mosaic floor decorated the bishop’s reception room during the Middle Ages.

St Pierre Cathedral is a Geneva must see.

St Pierre Cathedral is a Geneva must see. I found an outdoor table near this spot and enjoyed dinner, not realizing I’d get a bell tower concert. The cathedral bells played the theme from James Bond, the theme from Superman, Summer Nights from Grease, and Smile (my divorce anthem from ages ago.) Many other foot-tapping songs were in their repertoire. Afterwards, I popped into the Reformed Church Museum for a demonstration of a Gutenberg press in action.

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P.S. Wondering what I’m doing in Switzerland? I’m at The Trelex Residency in Maison Binet!

The book I’m working on now is a sequel to the others in the Nowhere Series so if you haven’t read the first two – go get them now!

To paying attention. Here's to the now.

Am I the only person who spends hours and days and weeks of her life absent?

I was in Houston recently, and I managed to squeeze an hour between appearances to visit the Rothko Chapel and De Menil Museum. For those not married to architects, Marc Rothko designed his chapel as a place of peace, a respite from the loud world, a space for silence and reflection.

I put my phone away and sat in front of each painting, trying to use the place as intended. Only I couldn’t concentrate because a woman was camped on the floor, scrolling through her phone. What was she paying attention to? She never looked away from her screen once.

Perplexed, I wandered over to the De Menil Museum and sat in the lobby. White walls were spangled with Ellsworth Kellys, and what was everyone gazing at? Their phones. We’re becoming like those dreamers in the film Inception, preferring the dream world. Absent from reality.

I didn’t bring minute-by-minute social media on residency for myriad reasons. I want to be present.

I’m fortunate to have dear friends in Milan. While they worked today, I walked the city without any real purpose. I sat in Parco Sempione and listened to conversations, watched couples make out, and savored children playing. Stumbled into a Milan Men’s Fashion Week event and an architecture week lecture. Enjoyed a latte at a favorite haunt, and noticed how many Italian men don’t wear socks. Sweated and huffed through almost 18,000 in-the-moment steps. I need to live in the present tense.

Here’s to the now. To paying attention and hearing what everything tells me. To writing snippets and weaving a tale.