Archive for June, 2019

Reformed Travel Slut

Guess which one I chose.

My first trip to Europe was exactly (almost to the day) twenty years ago. I was 24 years old, had just graduated college with one of the more spectacularly forgettable academic careers ever witnessed in Pittsburgh. It was my first trip alone and it was to be a learning experience. I carried a massive, teetering backpack filled with things I would barely touch over the next month and a lot of things I would discard. Hiking boots would be purposefully left in a youth hostel in Amsterdam, an umbrella would be dropped in Edinburgh, one of two sweaters would be left in Doolin, Ireland. I had a printed ticket which had a carbon copy and a huge book called Europe on a Shoestring.

I was so excited. It occurred to me in London that I had no idea how to get from the airport to the city itself. I finally found a train and handed over an exorbitant amount of money with a worrying lump in my throat. Money. Oh yeah. I met my friend Tara at Paddington Station, the train wheezed and decompressed and people bustled around me wielding British accents that I wanted to bottle and listen to at home in the bathtub. I was delirious with excitement and novelty.

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Accidental Makeover

Nestor the Oft-Used

I tiptoed down the flat escalator into the Kaufland shopping center near my work. It’s not huge, but the Kaufland is a supermarket whose hallways are lined with shops. A tobacco shop, a butcher and a bakery with two tables between them so people can eat there if they’d like. There’s also a pharmacy, a betting shop, a flower shop, and, in true Czech fashion, a  wine room.

Today I do a quick lunchtime shop, and while walking past the most recent addition to the center, a barber’s carrying the clear yet not-so-clear name of Kadeřnictví 100 CZH (100 Koruna Haircuts), I see that a man is paying and the chair is free. My heart speeds up and I move faster, afraid that someone will jump in front of me.   

My relationship with haircuts is extraordinarily on a need, get, and proceed basis. That is, one day I look at my head in the mirror and say, “Oh yeah that hair’s pretty long.” And then I make sure I always carry my emergency baseball cap (just in case things go wrong. His name is Nestor) and I start walking by barber shops. When I get to the barber, I want to be in and out as quickly as possible. I look for free spots and go for it. If there isn’t a free spot, I move on.

Today, I can’t believe my luck. The excitement of knowing I will accomplish a task. While you in the customer-service-happy U.S. might not understand this glee, it’s something to celebrate in ye olde Czech Republic. Anything can keep you from fulfilling simple tasks as a customer or in general. I have run up to the barber to see closed early signs due to illness, holiday, and general discontent. I have been told by a yawning girl reading her phone that she couldn’t do my hair because she had a client in 20 minutes. When I suggested that my haircut would take about 10 minutes, she looked at me with an oh-you-don’t-know-what’s-happening-here kind of a look.

I open the door for the man who has just paid. He looks sort of military, with a serious-almost-dour expression that goes along both his olive drab clothing and his new flattop. I have a moment of nostalgia about the flattop, as it was my doo of choice from age nine to thirteen, when I decided that I liked girls and they didn’t like boys who looked like a cantaloupe with eyeballs.

The woman gestures to the chair and I sit with an adrenalin rush of knowing that this is genuinely going to happen. Soon my hair will be out of my eyes, my head won’t be so itchy in the heat, and drying my hair after a shower will take 30 seconds. Also, depending on how good the girl was, I might soon have the hair on my ear lobes shaved off. I am happy.

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Continued Watching for Dr. Doolittle

There’s no doubt that I am a Netflix cliché in that with the thousands (OK, I’m in the Czech Republic) the hundreds of options I’m given, I choose to watch things I’ve seen two hundred times. These appear in my Watch it Again section. Jaws. Lord of the Rings. Ghostbusters. Every Indiana Jones installment. Friends (I know, shut up). Brooklyn 99. Buster Scruggs. The War.

Tonight we go for a light-hearted comedy mystery, one of my favorite genres, and we watch Murder Mystery. This is the one starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston as a married couple on a European tour who end up in the middle of a real life murder mystery. Since his big hit films in the 90s, Sandler has been hit or miss. Aniston is usually just fecken funny and she’s usually in fecken funny flicks. The movie totals in at 1:39 minutes. We’ll give it a chance.  

We last 31 minutes.

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Local Run Spot

My local park. Life could be worse

Despite the fact that my recent move to a flat place with convenient shops and metro stop has led to a bit of sedentary laziness, I am spoiled as regards good local parks. This isn’t uncommon in Prague, as this city was ranked last year as the world’s greenest city. Much of my area is covered in trees and parks, so finding a place to jog isn’t hard. Where I choose to do my red-faced huffing and puffing is a few minutes’ walk away at a wonderful park called Hvězda (star).

Like most other things in Prague, it’s got a history. In the late 900s (i.e. Bob Hope’s 5th birthday), the forest was donated to the Břevnov Monastery’s grounds. About 500 years later it became a walled in game reserve for Ferdinand II. And part of the grounds were involved in the historic Battle of White Mountain in 1620. Now it’s a park noted for its birds and other animals. Visitors can enjoy sightings of the Middle spotted woodpecker, the narrow-mouthed whorl snail, and, today, the short-legged North American red-faced cry-jogger.     

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The Return of Jethroe the Fitbit

Welcome back, Jethroe!

It’s getting hotter by the minute in old Praha and this means casting aside jeans for some light khakis or linen pants. And so I dug around a drawer that hasn’t been touched since I moved into my new place, and I found a pair. After a trip-up with the cat that almost certainly had to be purposeful, I pulled them on.  

Well, mostly. See, they were tight. Really tight. Oh I could button them, but children and midgets walking against me would possess the very real danger of being plugged in the eye with my button, which could spring out like artillery. Plus the visual result of the pants on me was something akin to an overpacked sausage.

My God. I’d gained weight!

Like any real man, I ran to my mirror in tears. I removed the infracting pants and turned to the left and the right, admiring (uh, I mean, analyzing) my rear end and my belly. There wasn’t a hugely noticeable difference, maybe a little on the belly and it seemed it was business as usual for my butt, on which some naught kids could land a drone helicopter. Otherwise, it wasn’t terrible.

I hate scales. Hate. From what I gather, scales are devices that collect dust under a bed or bathroom sink until its owner either feels there is a good or a bad reason to employ it. They pull it out from its sleeping place like it’s the Kraken, step on it, and then, I can only guess, the majority of humanity lets out a curse word so loud that the scale bitterly weeps. It is a device whose sole purpose is to put its owner into a bad mood. And, no less, it is a thing they paid for. Who exactly talked us into actually spending money on this?

This is why I mostly use pants to gauge my weight losses and gains. If pants are loose and sitting down doesn’t result in the loss of feeling below my waist, then things are OK. If they’re tight and a month ago they weren’t, well then, pants do not lie. And it’s time to act.

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