Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Week in the Life

I can’t talk about my week without talking about my bed first. Every day starts and ends with the fucker.  I gotta give credit where credit is due.


My Bed:

My bed … is a piece of shit.

Lemme rephrase that.

My bed … is a four-legged slab of donkey excrement haunting the corner of my room like the week-old corps of a murderous clown. Its sheets are holey and stained. Its blankets are ragged and thin. Its pillows are lumpy and old. Its mattress is flat and saggy. The cheap wooden frame that houses its diseased organs is shaky at the top and ribbed at the bottom. The ribs aren’t nailed down so they often slip from their positions, allowing my boney ass to punch through the gaps while trying to get comfy. This phenomenon has made for fun times when I’ve had female company. I won’t go into any details. Let’s just say that on more than one occasion, my liaison and I have gone crashing through the under-planks “mid-hump,” and ended up in some extremely unflattering positions.

With this bad-boy as my cradle, I rise up and greet the week. Every day of it is different. I’ll give you a taste of each.



Most people despise Monday like a bitchy mother-in-law. I for one don’t mind it. There are many reasons for this. The biggest is my chances of having a hangover are slim. I almost never drink on Sundays. And when I do, it’s just a few beers. This means I’m able to embrace the next day with less-than-achy limbs – a reality that makes all the difference.

I have three classes on Monday - two of which are with pretty ladies. The lessons are light and friendly. Most times, I laugh right through ‘em over coffee and fresh fruit.

My workday ends at 14:00 (yes, I’ll be using European time). I take the tram home and make myself lunch. When my belly’s full, I get on the computer. I don’t have a girlfriend so I like to look at flowers on the internet. I usually start with daisies then move onto roses. Sometimes I throw in tulips or the odd dandelion. When that’s finished and I’m nice n’ relaxed, I take a nap. At around 18:00, I rise and make dinner. Afterwards, it’s straight to the writing desk. I shell out a chapter or two, toss in a movie and fall fast asleep in the arms of my shit-wagon.



If Monday is a slender goddess kissing me on the lips, Tuesday is a pair of goat testicles slapping me in the mouth. I wake up at 7:30 – which may not sound very early to some of you but keep in mind I spend most nights writing until 3:00 am. I shit, shower and shave. Then I race to catch the metro line to the other side of Prague where I have my first class. When it ends, I’m off to see the Don. My next lessons last till well into the evening and they’re scattered around the city like the body parts of a mafia snitch. Come home time, I’m dragging my heels. I enter my seedy building, unlock both doors and board the elevator.

I’d like to take this time out to tell you about my elevator. I call it that, but really it’s not. It’s more like a screaming wooden head being dragged up and down a mineshaft by its metal hair. As it has no door, I can see the floors as they pass. Many tenants have made use of these bare concrete halves to hone their drawing and writing skills. This means I get a moving comic book of dicks, balls, and pussies, replete with clever dialogue such as “Pisssssss!” and “Asssssss!” It’s a real treat at the end of a long day.

When I get inside I’m too tired to make food or look at flowers. I simply shed my backpack, strip down to my skivvies and crash. At around 20:30, I wake up. Since my time is short, I usually zap a cardboard pizza, scarf it down and hit the keys. This carries me into the wee hours. I’m a shadow by dawn.



What a vacant lot! What a goddamned travesty! Wednesday is nothing. Wednesday is less than nothing. It’s a bee fart in a hive of shit. It’s a zero lost in a digital sea. I don’t love Wednesday. I don’t hate Wednesday. I don’t give two shit-flingin’ fucks about Wednesday!  As far as I’m concerned, Wednesday can crawl into the sewer with its ugly wife, Tuesday. Christ, it can eat my day-old cantaloupe rinds! FUCK YOU TO INFINITY, WEDNESDAY! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!



The only thing worth mentioning on Thursday happens at a park near the banks of the Vltava. It’s a crappy little park, ringed with blue benches and some grass in the middle. I pick a seat there and open my bag. Inside it is a sandwich. It’s a miserable little sandwich, made with old ham and cheese, dry onions and tomatoes. I grab it and take a bite. As I chew, its brown mustard collects at the corners of my mouth. I swallow it down and the thoughts pop up. I think of where I’ve been and what I’ve done - the hundreds of roads I’ve kissed with my footprints, the thousands of tears I’ve spilt over my lips. At about this point, I cross my eyes. Staring back at me like an ugly asshole is that fucking sandwich. I often feel like throwing it against a tree and screaming:

“Is this is it?! Is this where all those roads in all those countries have taken me?!”

I pull out a pen and start writing. The anger flows nicely against the page. Before I know it, I have a poem. It’s enough to get me through my sandwich.



My eyes open. I rub them and creak out of bed. I go in the bathroom and twist the shower on. The water runs hot and steamy. I grab the nozzle and circle my body with it. As I do, it wakes him up. He opens his eyes and crawls from his cave. As he enters the bathroom, I leave it. I get dressed and walk out the door. While I’m teaching, he does his business.

First, he bathes his red skin. Then he takes a razor to his oval face. After that, it’s on to his teeth. He plucks the meat from his gums and brushes the pink from his fangs. This continues for a few. Now it’s time to see. He squares his shoulders and lifts his chin. His lips pull back to bear his grin. It’s long and sharp and clean and gleaming. It looks like a crystal chandelier. He lets it glint in the mirror. Then he leaves the steam. He enters my room and selects an outfit – a checkered shirt and jeans perhaps, two pointy shoes and cocked grey cap. At about this time, I come home. I slip into bed and snooze. The hours roll by, one, two, three. Homeboy’s perched on a box in the corner, smiling at me in the dark. My alarm goes off and I get up. I stretch and yawn and scratch my junk. Four steps forward and then it hits. We clap together and join our wits.


What happens next is anybody’s guess. Sometimes I drink so much that my eyes turn yellow and my only goal is to waltz through Prague with my dead grandmother’s ghost. Sometimes I walk aimlessly in the cold for hours watching the snowfall erase my tracks. Other times I sit on a bench under a streetlamp and write poems to the frozen pile of leaves next to me. And sometimes, just sometimes, I get lucky. When this happens, the moon lights up and the skin of the earth convulses. I am a skeleton, screaming in a river of babies. Once the panic ends, my partner and I collapse and curl together. Sleep takes us like a gentle beast.



My Saturday morning takes three possible forms. I’ll go from the incredibly rare to the embarrassingly common.

  1. I wake up next to a beautiful stranger with whom I share a delightful breakfast and an interesting conversation.
  2. I wake up next to a hideous stranger with whom I share a bottle of water and a curt goodbye.
  3. I wake up next to Death with an eye-splitting hangover and the need to vomit.  

Once I’ve finished with these things, the rest of the day is mine. I usually spend it watching movies on my computer or trying to decipher the nonsense I scrawled into my pocket-journal the night before.


When evening arrives, I have two options. I can either go out and brave the frosty jungle again, or I can brew a pot of tea and write. Now that I’m a rickety thirty-something, I often go with option B. It saves my nerves and liver, plus it sharpens my pen.



If you’ve read my first post (or my first book), you’ll know that my childhood friends and I speak our own dialect of English, which we call R.O.A.S.T. (short for, “Result of a Small Town”). Central to this dialect is a phrasal verb we concocted using the name of our friend “Chuck,” who is notorious for his ability to lounge with gusto. The verb is “to Chuck out,” and in Standard English, it more or less means “to lay on your fat ass and let the stress dribble from your joints like so much grease from a roasting turkey.” “Chucking out” is a truly “baumish” (meaning, “awesome”) affair and as you might have already guessed, I elect Sunday to do it the hardest.

There are many ways in which one can “Chuck out.” One might lie in a supine position doing crossword puzzles on their stomach. Another might sit on the throne for hours reading the daily news. I however, prefer the “Sultan’s Choice” – a hookah packed with mint tobacco on one side, an icy bottle of soda on the other, a tower of fluffed pillows at my back, and a TV screen flickering just above my toenails. Hmmmmmmmmm …


Welp, that about does ‘er! Hope y’all enjoyed yeehaw’n though my week. Stay tuned for next month when I discuss the finer points of my first “pig-slaughter” in The Czech Republic.



Note: I reserve the right to occasionally alter the character names, descriptions, and/or event details in my posts for the purposes of identity protection and “fluidity of story.” If this puts a kink in your panties, read someone else’s blog, homey.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Promise to a Cousin

My cousin Erica and I had the same dream when we were kids. We wanted to travel the world and write about our adventures. After high school, we chased this dream like two bloodhounds on a limping fox. We got involved in journalism, scoured the globe with backpacks, did volunteer work in developing countries, and had experiences unmatched by most people we knew. On the home front, when we weren’t studying obscure languages or doing temp work for pocket change, we were fluttering the keys till our fingers bled in an effort to craft our tales.

By twenty five, Erica had surpassed me in her pursuit. She was a senior staff writer at a well-read newspaper and was even set to intern under Wolf Blitzer at CNN. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous. She was “making it” on this path we’d chosen, while I, for the most part, was still in the Styx, picking ticks from my underwear and washing my balls with creek water.

One day while visiting my folks, I got a call. It was Erica and she sounded elated.

“Guess what, Hans!” she said.

Ummm let’s see, I thought. You’re being personally awarded the Pulitzer by Dan Rather in a g-string?

“Joe and I are having a baby!”


I was blown to shreds. I knew she’d met a guy and gotten married, but I never expected her to go the kid route so soon. I congratulated her, of course. Underneath, I wondered what would become of our little dream.

Over the next few years, Erica moved further and further in a different direction. Where once she strapped Vipers to her feet and braved snowcapped peaks, she now strapped diapers to her tyke and rode hub-capped Jeeps. That’s not to say I wasn’t happy for her.  I was just disappointed that I no longer had a companion to run with and a competitor to run against.

By 2010, the nomad’s footprints had all but faded for Erica. She was now living the domestic life with her sweet baby and hard-working husband in a small condo just south of LA. Before moving to Prague, I went to visit her. She cooked us chicken tikka masala, and we looked at photos of my recent trip to Africa. As we flipped through pics of me cliff-diving in Zanzibar and off-roading in Ethiopia, I noticed her eyes. They were flecked with a tearful longing for something long since forgotten. At one point during our viewing, the super-tramp in Erica kicked through her skin and twirled her to life. She started bouncing up and down around the living room and yelling:

“Joe! Wouldn’t it be awesome if we went to Africa together?!”

Joe, though kind and curious at heart, is hardly built for the road. He just sat there in his loafers, gripping his kneecaps and sweating his crew-cut to a shine.

“I think we’d do better in Florida,” he said.

Erica popped like a teardrop on a stove coil. She withered to the Indian style position and sagged her head. I told her and Joe it was time I got going. I gathered my crap and hit the door. As I reached for the knob, Erica stopped me. She turned me around and pinched my elbow.

“Bring me back some stories, will ya?” she said.

I told her I would.


A month later, I boarded my plane for Prague. I had three bags of a junk, a hundred bucks in my pocket and a drinking problem the size of a church spire. By the skin of my nuts, I got a job teaching English. I set up shop at a crappy flat in Žižkov – the grittiest hood in the city – then commenced learning the local tongue and exploring the local bars. In the three years I’ve lived here, I’ve seen, done and written some wicked shit. But this post isn’t about all that. It’s about keeping my promise to Erica.

Last July, while at home for her brother’s wedding, I saw her for the first time since leaving. The minute she got the chance, she sat me down and opened her peepers up real wide.

“So tell me about Praaague!” she said.

I folded my arms and chewed the side of my mouth. Had Erica been one of the boys from back home, I’d have spilled my filthy stories like a bag of used condoms. Truth was, I was ashamed to tell her most of what I’d done. Not cuz’ she’s woman, mind you, but because she’s, let’s say, more “religious” than I am.

But Erica’s no dummy. I’m sure she sensed her alcohol-and-caffeine-free spiritual affiliations were puttin’ the pinch on my inner devil. Even still, I could see her eyes were filled with images of castles and cafes and torrid romance. I had to give her something. While I thought about how to address this, she rephrased her question.

“Well, can you at least just tell me what the average week is like for Haaans in Praaague?”

Like a jerk, I spit her alotta horse crap about “interesting students” and “beautiful sights.” I should’a ditched my pride and told her the following …
Note: I reserve the right to occasionally alter the character names, descriptions, and/or event details in my posts for the purposes of identity protection and “fluidity of story.” If this puts a kink in your panties, read someone else’s blog, homey.