The hardest part

The hardest part about having a friend who’s an addict in having a friend who’s an addict  There are times where they’re completely unable to be your friend, but they also aren’t capable of communicating it.  

Next thing you know, you’re waiting in a sketchy part of town in a Royal Farms parking lot for a more than reasonably average time it should take a person to shit in a public restroom.  You wait.  You don’t know what to do so you wait more.  

After fifteen minutes goes by you start to get mad, and if you’re me, mad means severe introversion.  You make resolution with yourself while you wait.  You decide to drop the person off at home, because it would be a completely shitty thing to leave them so far from home, still considering their feelings when they’re so inconsiderate of yours, because your mother raised you by the golden rule, but once you drop them at home, you tell yourself, you won’t talk to them anymore, at least for a month.  

You sit steaming in your resolution for ten or fifteen more minutes, but you stopped keeping track of how long it actually was once your temper started to flair.

They finally come out of the store, eyes low, unseemingly relaxed for just spending twenty five minutes locked in a public restroom.  They flop down in the passenger seat, and you know, immediately, that they’re high.  

You don’t speak.  You try to reason with yourself, trying to imagine the best possible scenario of them not using, in this seedy public restroom just outside the west side hood of Baltimore City.  You really hope inside that you’re jumping to conclusions and they just had to take a particularly uncooperative shit.

Then they open their mouth and justify your initial anger.  You’re mad that you even began to give them a second chance, all in that short ninety second period it took them to plop down in the car, close the door, and put on their seatbelt.  They don’t sniffle, so you know it’s really bad.  Then they want to tell you a story.  

You don’t want to hear it.

“This guy came beating on the door.”

I inferred it was a single stall restroom.  The right environment.

“I yelled out a him, ‘what? I’ll be out in a minute.”

The store clerk knew a junkie would hole up in his bathroom for a quick fix.

“I mean, jeez man, can’t a guy take a shit in peace?”

I barely respond, nodding only slightly as I back out of the parking spot.

As I look over my shoulder out the rear window of the car, I catch glances of my companion.  It’s dark, but I can make out some indicative body language.

He slouches forward in the entirety of his back and in his neck, his head has dropped a little lower than normal.  In his left hand, he grasps his phone, looking down at it, the light illuminates his face.  His features are overly relaxed.  His eyes appear to be only half open.  He doesn’t notice me sneaking glances at him.  He thinks that I’ve bought his lie and I leave it that way.

Wannabe

Wanting to be something, specific

Never reaching that point

Thoughts have plagued

Forever my life, my mind

My therapist said ‘Maybe

The content isn’t as important

As you think it is’

Implying that I can fill the space

With nearly any of the ideas

That come and go

Remembered and forgotten

Simultaneously between

Grand dreams of adventure

Never persisting beyond

The artist, the creative process

 

But in a world of technology

In blogs, constant opinion

And dead media

How can one man

Call himself an artist

And another just a wannabe?

A bunch of lesbians at Camp Dick

Yesterday morning I woke up at a normal hour to feed the cat, because he’d been harassing me about food for at nearly thirty minutes.  Once he was fed, I crawled back in bed, burying my head under the flat sheet in effort to shield my eyes from the morning sunlight peeking around the curtains.  I figured I’d give myself a couple more hours to sleep off the soreness in my neck muscles from hooking the entire game and the  general achiness of rugby and dehydration that still lingered in my bones.  Being outside in the summer sun the entire day didn’t help my fatigue.

The morning had slipped away by a matter of minutes by the time I woke up again.  I opened the french doors to friends up and dressed at the dining table and the invitation of warm cinnamon rolls.  The smell of breakfast filled the house, complementing their smiling faces, like it had the last three mornings.

“You still wanna go camping?” Zoro prompted, adding, “We’re gonna leave in like an hour.”

I dug the side of my fork into the soft dough of the cinnamon roll as she asked, but didn’t answer before I’d had my first bite.

“Backpacking?” I asked, wanting to go, but knowing that my backpack had seen better days.  I remembered the heaviness of it on my traps through the last days of Europe, and still haven’t figured out if the strap mount is repairable or not.

“Nah man, just car camping.  So she can be at the airport in time tomorrow,”  Zoro responded nodding at Ariel.

I looked up from my plate and at the crew, who all looked at me now, anticipating my answer.  I pursed my lips and nodded slightly as I answered, smiling, “Yeah.”

What better place that to spend a night in the woods with like-minded friends, a cooler of beer, shish kabobs, a little bit of whiskey, a ukelele, and a new campfire song stolen from Liv’s mom and her kindergarteners?

‘Goin’ on a bear hunt/Goin’ on a bear hunt

I’m not afraid/I’m not afraid

Sittin’ round the campfire/Sittin’ round the campfire

Hangin’ with some babes/Hangin’ with some babes’

 

And a poem for good measure:

 

Campfire songs and goofy jokes

Illuminated our cheeks in between

The ebb of our burning wood

Left us silhouettes in the night

 

‘New relationship, who dis?’ & ‘Damn, Gina’

Thrown around lightly as each of our

Outfits became more and more gay

With the setting of the sun (warmer too)

 

Five camp chairs and a cooler for our leisure

Synchronized standing to replenish our drinks

Swing dancing in the crescent moonlight

Until a dip ended up as a fall

 

We all laughed, often and loudly

Our voices overflowing the air around us

Louder than the fast rushing whoosh

Of the creek behind our campsite

 

Ukulele accompaniment and campfire songs

We made plans for karoake later in the week

Being thankful for each other’s company

Embracing already new good people in our lives

 

I wandered away from spot 10 each time

More comfortable with the darkness

Less worried about the black bear who’d made

Camp Dick his home, taking time

To look up at the twinkling stars

The crescent moon, our fire that burned

Like a beacon over my shoulder

Leading me back to my home for the night

 

Knowing tomorrow

It would be home no more

Next summer

We’re going to Alaska

Can’t life be like this always?

Charley just looked down at me from the top bunk and said,

“Nap or read? I’m just so busy right now,” while rolling her eyes for emphasis.  We both giggled.

“I’m writing a blog post about that right now,” I told her, as I stood up and crossed the room, headed for the open locker where my most valuable items are locked away while we’re gone.  “You inspired me.  That doesn’t happen so often.”  I smiled back over my shoulder at her, resolving to put on a sweatshirt cause it’s cool in our room despite the intense heat outside.  I laid my laptop down on the brown covered couch in our room of six bunkbeds and one queen size that Fati and I are sharing.

“Can it be the title?” she asked me.

“Maybe,” I answered her, pulling the Redskins hoodie I stole from my mom over my ponytail which hangs loosely to the right side of my head, “but it’s definitely the opening line.”

It’s three in the afternoon in Budapest, our first morning in another new city.  We’ve been gone for three and a half weeks, but we only just made a shared album on Facebook so we can share photos (I’ll post the link at the bottom).  It’s been awhile since we fucked anything major up, like getting caught hopping trains without tickets or missing a connection all together and being stranded at a nowhere train station for the whole night.  I dare say we’ve got a good routine figured out.

This morning we all woke up around 9:30, stirring quietly amongst our three suite mates who came in well into the morning, now snoozing, the backs of their heads and various limbs hanging out from underneath each one’s single flat sheet.

We were out of the house a little after ten and headed to a park on the corner of our block, that we’d noticed on the walk from the train station last night.  It proved unsuitable for exercise.  The only open patches of grass were being watered by a gardener and adorned with signs that I could only assume said “Keep Off Lawn” in Hungarian.  The rest of the small park was just a very well designed playground teeming with kids and parents.

So we headed for the National Museum, which appeared to have a lawn on the map our receptionist gave us last night, across one of the major streets in Budapest’s city center.  The high metal gate around the building, our rumbling stomachs, and the heat of summer sun cooking the sidewalks below us nearly nixed our workout plans, but we’d finally gotten in a groove and I wasn’t willing to let it go.  The girls bucked up and we found a patch of grass and the coolness of shade under a cluster of trees, next to a statue of someone important to Hungarian history.

Doing ankle PT, I wasn’t sure if I’d offend anyone by using his base for calf raises, but I peaked around the ground and decided it was worth the risk.  There didn’t seem to be anyone around to offend.  An hour later, we’d sweated enough, and went on the hunt for food.

Following the receptionist’s advice, with our map, we headed back towards the hostel and towards the river, passing numerous restaurants with mostly outdoor seating.  On the way back, I noticed kebap for 450HUF (about $1.75) and promised to have some later. [Mom, you need to come out here if for nothing less than authentic tsasiki] But now, our hearts were set on breakfast

Approaching the river, our stomachs grumbled the last of our patience out, and Charley resolved to check Google for a market.  I stood next to her, pointing out to Fati the shiny ceramic tiles on the massive building across the street from us that were similar to those on the Viennese cathedral.  Charley’s map loaded.

The building was market! With various meat and produce and textile vendors through three rows, a loft upstairs, and an Aldi downstairs, we spent the equivalent of 10 bucks on fresh food for breakfast and dinner, and headed back to the hostel to cook.  After a plate full of potatoes, peppers, cheese, over easy eggs, and couple pieces of toast, some yogurt and a banana, we were back to ourselves, feeling full and fine.

“This is the life, man,” I said to Charley, as Fati cleaned up our plates.  She nodded in agreement.  “Why can’t I live my life like this always?”

The three of us brainstormed for a little while before retiring to our room for showers and afternoon naps, not coming to any complete answers.

There’s one thing I do know, though.

I won’t stop until I figure it out.

 

 

 

 

Amsterdam ~ Berlin ~ Prague ~ Cesky Krumlov ~ Vienna ~ Budapest

Posted by Sus Kitchen on Tuesday, July 18, 2017

 

 

a short list of universality: a reflection

It’s been an ongoing conversation, with realizing the smallness of our world especially within Western Civ, and here’s just a few of our observations…

Some things are universal, like

-everybody hates Trump (it’s a great topic for starting conversation)

-racism & populism & propaganda (from the Czech-Roma problem that spans back hundreds of years and embodies lower education, poor employment opportunities, and profiling to the a drunk Brit explaining to us the platform of Brexit [who also explained that UK citizens don’t feel like Europeans])

-nationalism (the light-hearted rivalry that Austrians, ‘little brother’, have with Germany, or, bigger, each country’s pride in their alcohol, their flag, and their past leaders, as well as, contempt for those nations and leaders who took away their autonomy)

-public trans (trains/buses & airports) organization (from major stations with retail stores and food courts to the color designated train lines and letter designation to indicate the type of trans)

-ice cream/gelato (duh)

-coffee (Vienna’s coffee remains supreme)

-alcohol (duh)

-pizza! (double duh)

-selfies and/or selfie sticks (and tourists taking pictures of things, then looking at their photo instead of enjoying the view in front of them)

-American pop music (I’ve heard Despacito in every country thus far)

-escalator etiquette: stand right, walk left (or get patted on the back/told to move/pulled over my your comrade)

-landscape (besides the hills between Dresden and Prague, most of my window time on trains has been rolling hills with little towns next to farms of spiral bailed hay, like much of what you see in rural mid-Atlantic/east coast towns)

 

And some things aren’t, like

-long island iced teas (has become a side adventure for Charley, so far Amsterdam had no idea, Berlin’s tasted like rubbing alcohol, but Prague knew what’s up)

-stair size (they’re often very short and deep, but many times, are also uneven; the stairs down from Cesky Krumlov castle varied in depth by 3 inches and randomly)

-mandatory quiet hours (in Germany/Austria it is illegal to be loud in public between 10pm and 6am; Prague had a similar policy with bouncers outside to ‘shush’ the smokers)

-pedestrian crosswalk lighting (the best of which, in Vienna, is two people holding hands, standing lit in red with their hearts clear through, but when lit, the two holding hand, their hearts draw out and illuminated and walking together in green/or maybe the Ampelmann in east Berlin who was designed by a traffic psychologist and has become a city mascot of sorts)

-currency (duh, though a bit unclear because not all EU nations have Euros and some non-EU nations do)

-language (duh, except most everyone knows some English)

-hospitality/openness/general friendliness (embodied by the Austrians we met in a matter of 36 hours; the first our friend Florian, who picked us up at our hostel, drove us to his house, fed us chips, rented a movie and shared a pizza, gave us endless things to check out while sharing his love for Arnold in a legit Austrian accent, and not expecting a damn thing in return, and then, our friends at the film festival who pulled two park benches together and snagged a six pack along with a bag of pretzels, told us to come back because they’d put us up, and left us with hugs and hearts full)

//

Expect some expansions on this list, as we continue our explorations!  Tomorrow, first a workout, and then around Budapest.

A note from the middle of a bender in Prague

“A note from the middle of a bender in Prague” was started, titled, but nowhere near finished a few days ago…

Now, we’ve left the Boho capital and landed in Ceske Krumlov, in the depths of South Bohemia, a region that I never knew actually existed until two days ago.  We’d wandered over to an unnamed club downtown where the windows extended ninety degrees open, letting the sweet blue notes of a Rolling Stones song catch my attention.  We hadn’t planned on going in but we did.

Two doors down was a gay club that had been a blast two nights before. It had been the first Prague night that melted into morning.  The sun had begun to rise as we gathered our wits and each other, to catch an uber across town.  It had risen completely before I’d put out my last rollie, trading in for drool on my pillow.

That night, Fati and Charley and I danced to the blues, exchanging each others’ hands with those of a very drunk, very tall, very handsome German man who’d found us outside Friends.  When the band was done playing, they walked through the crowd, exchanging words and gathering tips.  Charley and I sat on the couch, sipping the last of our beers, as a couple of folks walked up to the stage, where the instruments still lay, plugged in and powered, and began to strum open notes and bang on the drums.

“They can’t do that, man,” I told Charley.  ” That’s not cool,” wondering when someone would stop them, and then, having second thoughts about the cultural difference.  I couldn’t stop watching them goof around, not making any real music, but just making noise.

Fati and Charley had made friends now and were engaged in a heated game of foosball, while I danced with the drunk German.  He got a little handsy for the last time, so I ditched him.  After a few minutes back and forth, I walked over to the piano and starting playing along to the tunes on the PA system.  Between rounds the bass player came up to me and told me that they can turn the PA music off.  He pointed over his shoulder between us, at the lead singer, saying, “He is the master of the cables, just ask,” repeating himself, “Just ask.”

I shook my head, declining, but still playing along, and after a little while longer, the music was off, and he started grooving on the piano, playing octave bass lines with his spread left hand and accompaniment on top.  I walked back over, reaching my right hand to the highest keys.  Every once and a while he caught me in a bad key, and I couldn’t keep up.  He’d realize it and change grooves or slow down and let me catch him.

He started on a blues riff and I stopped playing.  I listened for a minute, humming to myself, and found a melody.  Then I sang the best blues I knew.

“Wandering Prague all night long/Looking for my women where has she gone/I drink my beer cause she’s done gone/And left me”

…or something similar.  My voice filled up the space of the big empty room with couches tucked in slanted ceilings along the perimeter, floating just about the piano my partner is banging on.  I ad lib a couple more verses, come back around to the chorus, and we finish together.

It’s the end of the night, and the three of us are outside now, and he comes out to get me, and to have a cigarette, and he’s giving me compliments in broken, but not terrible English, and his smile is genuine.  I tell him we have to go, and we are all nodding our heads in agreement about that, because we’ve already lost three days to the nightlife.  Fati goes in to find the bathroom, and I take the opportunity to run back inside for one last song.

This time he plays in a major key, walking through a progression, but only after he tries me with the most basic and I call him out for it.  This one’s a bit more creative, so I play a little melody, and then stop and hum a melody, which ends with a big, full-voiced chorus, “Praaaaaaaaaaague/You’re good to me/Be good to me/You’re good to meeeeee” and he hits a solid ii – V – I, and together we end again.

He’d told me outside, when he’d asked if I performed and where I was from, that he’s from South Bohemia.  Now I know what that means.

070317

Prague feels like no man’s land and it’s too late for me to figure out if the feeling is real or manifested by tiny quiet streets that aren’t really quiet. Seven or six story buildings tower over the cobblestone streets, but every forth doorway or so opens up to a bar or a tiny food market- the type that convenience stores grew out of, but the type that still sell fresh fruit too. Most of what I could hear as we wandered, looking for late night food, was the patter of Charlie’s sneakers as we walked, but the chatter of socialites buzzed as we passed each bar. I’m still confused as how the city could be so quiet with so much going on, as if the building absorbed the sound waves. 

This hostel is the first that really feels like a hostel and not some dumbed down hotel. Our bunks are made of wooden slants and upon check in we each received a set of three keys on a wooden stick from a Czech guy who spoke great English and knew just how to tie a top knot. Our sheets are navy blue and thick cotton and there are two and a half baths between the eighteen beds on this floor. Out back, out of our windows there appears to be a courtyard but we’ll find out in the morning. 

More than happy to have good internet again. As much as I loved Berlin, getting internet was an uphill struggle the entire time. More about Berlin soon, I promise, definitely less than before. And more about Prague, because tomorrow we explore. 

062417: to Amsterdam

Things we learned today:

1. It’s true that you can sit in a cafe for hours (even in the airport) after ordering and finishing food and be no bother to the wait staff.  They don’t mind you using their internet to try and finagle a place to stay for the night.

2. Book stuff earlier (and don’t rely on an AirBnB host to not unexpectedly cancel on you) or you’ll end up in a half-swanky hotel for the night, determined to get and stay at least a few steps ahead of your wandering feet for the rest of the trip, if for no other reason than your budget.

3. Hostels are cheaper and easier to find online when you’re in the actual city, although hard to get same day (see above lesson).  Most I looked at online in the States were more than twice than what we found for the next couple nights.

4. Public trans is great as long as you’re paying attention to where you’re going and not joyously ecstatic about finally leaving the airport and heading to a place with a shower after six hours.  Otherwise, you may or may not miss your stop twice while figuring out how to indicate to the bus driver that you need to exit.

5. The Amsterdam airport may as well be a suburban center- a mall, train station, and airport packed into one- where you can find good food cheaper than outside the airport in Denver.  Also, the coffee packs a mean punch, in both flavor and caffeine boost, but for you’re only served one creamer pack.  The kick made the bitter 110% worthwhile.

6. The bathrooms in the Iceland airport are glorious- single fully enclosed toilet-sink combos that feel more private and clean than the one in my old apartment, where I lived alone (lol).  Also, the crisp, clean, beautiful modern architecture thematically spread into the food market where we sought out breakfast- fresh salmon subs, chia power boost yogurts, and the vegan breakfast option (baked beans below a fat farmhouse tomato covered in pesto).  It’s hard to feel clean after seven hours on a plane, but that place did it.

7. I should pack before the day we’re leaving.  At least the night before, because inevitably, the Iceland air queue will be unbearably long- stretching to Bridge Security around the corner from the kiosks, giving me enough time to repack the clothes and supplies I’d literally thrown into my backpack forty five minutes before.

And last, but certainly not least,

8. The Dutch are handsome, tall, and well spoken men who work at waterside restaurants inspired by Hemingway (which just make me super happy inside) who will tease us about asking where to find a gay club in Amsterdam and for eating appetizers as dinner.  Our inner meal schedules say dinner and a beer at 10:00PM though it’d been telling us to eat at every airport junction while traveling all day.

BIG SHOUT OUT TO ZORRO FOR DRIVING US TO THE AIRPORT! [you da best fr fr]

Tomorrow, we (hopefully) find our way easily into downtown via train, to our hostel for the next two nights, and then exploring museums and markets.

And from my Danish seed scientist seat neighbor flying out of DIA, the quote of the day-“Ah, yes, because flying is transportation, but the train is travelling.”

More tomorrow.