Archive for July, 2023

New Place in Town

hen we got off the metro at Ladvi, the brewpub was right across the lot. Pivovar Cobolis. It was a monster. Burke says the pub here used to be an old dinosaur from the communist era. It’s easy to see old men hunched over red tablecloths sipping ten degrees and smoking at a rapid pace.

Now, it’s filled with the pre-concert droves heading to Depeche Mode. They are dressed in black and many of them sport hairdos popular when Depeche Mode made its appearance in 1980. Everyone is nice. Everyone loves our dog, who lies on her stomach on the floor and awaits cookies.

One of the great parts of moving to a new home is finding new places in the area. For us, this usually means pubs, cafes, restaurants, and grocery stores. This is a good payoff to the extreme stress of moving to a new place. So, after a month and a half of limbo and disruption, we get a new pub.

Read the rest of this entry »

No Comments

Getting Lost

It’s about noon and Burke is teaching in the bedroom. I get the dog’s harness on her and we step out into the hot day. Her tongue instantly curls into the ladle that tells me she doesn’t like the heat. Indeed, the sky is blue and deep, but the air is hot and not as cool as I want it to be in the shade. But as we have just moved to a new part of Prague, it is time to explore. It’s time to get lost.

Since I am the navigator on this journey, getting lost happens fast. Almost too fast. We pass a hotel where my friend works and then a Lidl. And then we’re in unknown territory. There are lots of flat blocks and an occasional sign for a shop. The sun is hot and so we wander into a small park and sit under a tree. I pour the dog a little bowl of water and we look around.

I don’t deal with ‘new’ too well. Never have. On the first day of school each year, I was baffled by this policy of simply changing teachers. Who does that? And just when I’d gotten used to the last one? Now, having bought a flat in an unfamiliar part of town, I am dealing with new every day. New shops, people, parks, grass, buildings. My stress and anxiety levels are at the same level as when I’m in a place I can’t leave and forced to listen to death metal. While my brain knows that this is a very normal, human and temporary reaction to a very normal, human temporary experience, my heart and soul are just pissed off that I put them into this position.

The dog and I look around. She sees none of her friends from Petřiny – the grumpy old dachshund, the two poodles, the blind retriever, the chihuahua whose tongue is always hanging out of the side of her mouth. I see nothing that I recognize. The foxtails that are eating up Petřiny grass isn’t here, and while there is nothing wrong with them, the streets and green lots here have yet to provide the same comfort that they did in Prague 6.

I hand over a cookie to the dog. In a mutual state of glum, the dog and I agree that noon-thirtyish is not too early to visit a pub. So we get up and make it our passive goal. The dog is panting, so I pick her up and carry her as though she is Shihtzuvian royalty. I pass a woman and she smiles and addresses the dog. She comments on the queenliness of (I hope) the dog. But, hey, who cares.

“Ahoj Maisy,” she says.

Read the rest of this entry »

No Comments

To Home?

Today, I am moving. I also moved last week. And I think the week before, too. It never seems to end and I’m not entirely sure I didn’t die a little while ago, go to the place downstairs, and end up with a Sisyphus sort of dealio. But instead of pushing a boulder up a hill for eternity, I get to move for eternity.

I am now waiting for a moving man. I have never met this person, but he and I will pack the contents of my flat into his van (which better translate to ‘big fucking truck’) and then we will bring it to my new flat. Each time I move I implore the gods with a repetitive ohm, which, while less than Zen to be sure, does grasp the root of my present state of mind.

“How the f*** do I have so much s***!?”

I say that about 300 times about 5 times a day. By the end of my entreaty, I usually and miraculously find myself in a pub being served by a waitress with a concerned look on her face and a tray full of drinks that happen to be for only me. The move isn’t only distressing because of its physical acts, but rather for the psychological impact it’s having on my – evidently – fragile psyche.

I am a routine fool. I get up early, I take my vitamins, I drink my water, I push a button on the coffee maker, which was already filled and set the night before. I sit in my chair and I do my work. Now, owing to the disruption in my schedule, I am up in the air, unmoored by my routine and my work. Until now, I did not realize how badly I could fall into depression without that routine.

I am jealous of everyone. Men, women, especially children, who don’t have to worry about doing anything at all. If their parents move, they probably don’t have to do too much to help them out. Oh, to live a life of no worry. A woman I was walking behind yesterday abruptly stopped, dug through her bag of recent shopping and removed a bottle of white wine. She then sat down and unscrewed the bottle and drank a big pull from it. I gaped with envy. This was not the act of a person who didn’t have a place to go back to. This was the act of a woman who was going to a well-established home and going to sleep. I could have cried.

Sometimes nowadays I lie awake at dream about padded walls and high dosages of mood elevators. Oh, the utter joy. Especially if some guys were to just, you know, move my stuff into my place while I was in there. This thought keeps me warm.

Now it’s time to bring things – once again – down some steps so that I can bring them somewhere and then bring them up some other steps. I wonder what waitress I will awaken to this afternoon. I wonder what will be on her tray of goodies.

No Comments


I am surrounded by bags and boxes overflowing with my things. Bags of trash lie heaped in the corner. The dog and cat give me leery looks from stacks of books so that they look like revelers at Stonehenge. Nobody is happy. Burke is in the office listening to a Joe Rogan podcast. I hear a groan.

One never knows how much stuff they have until they have to move it to another location. In my brain, my flat is more or less four rooms that don’t have that much stuff in them. My brain is a moron. I always overlook the bathroom. And the closet space. And under the bed. And in the drawers. Then, when my brain starts understanding the level of hell it’s about to get into, I am reminded of my storage space in the basement. I groan.

For something that isn’t altogether a bad thing, moving is unbelievably unpleasant. In my case, I am moving to a flat that I have bought – by most barometers, a positive thing. Nevertheless, I am still in hell and hell is four rooms filled with boxes and bags and angry cats and dogs. Once I started pulling things out of drawers and closets and books off shelves, my flat stopped being my flat and started being a wasteland of random tidbits. It’s unrecognizable as the flat it once was, like if you took apart a car and laid it out on a blanket. But that’s only academic, unless one were to make the car’s owner bring it to another location in a van and then reassemble it.

Everyone I have told about moving has responded with the same tongue clicks and grimaces as though I’d told them I’m going to the hospital for ‘additional tests’. Sometimes I wish that was so. For moving involves not only doing something you don’t want to do, but doing that thing within a merciless deadline, and must be done to completion. My inner procrastinator and my inner half-ass nature will not be satisfied.  

When I moved from my last place, there was a bunch of stuff that wasn’t mine. For I had lived there for thirteen years and had had four roommates. And we all know that the person simply moving out of a flat but leaving someone behind in that flat does not have the same task. Someone will remain, so they take every advantage to not move things. So when I left the last place I was moving things from four people. And I hated them. I have permanently earmarked hideous revenge for each of them and they should spend the rest of their lives looking over their shoulder lest they suffer a head blow from a toaster they left in a Podolian flat in 2015, emotional or otherwise.

But this time it’s my fault. All the stuff here is mine and I can’t blame anyone else for it. Even though Burke borders on the hoarder, I am no better and any judgment from me will come back to haunt me seconds later. I am in hell.

And then it got worse. I woke up in the middle of the night last night from the heat. I was stuffy and uncomfortable and it looked like I’d woken up in the basement of a museum of middle-aged men. There was no place in the flat to go to feel comfortable. I was in the bowels of hell.  

I know. I know. This is positive. But the only thing that gives me any pleasure right now is the knowledge that since I am buying this new flat, I technically will never have to leave it. I may never have to move again. In the midst of all this madness, an astounding thing happens: I smile. It’s all going to be OK.

But on my way down the steps, I glance outside on our balcony. Two bikes look back in. More stuff to move. I am back in hell.

No Comments

It’s a Bad [Enter Body Part Here] Day

“I’m taking the dog for a walk,” I call to Burke as I fit the dog into her harness.


It’s beautiful outside so I will walk with the dog aimlessly for a while and, since I got no deeds to do and no promises to keep, I’ll let the dog bring me where she wants and smell whatever she wants, no matter its state of decomposition. I will then carry her for a while, because she is a Shih-tzu and can only be pressed into walking for brief periods. But it’s while carrying her around like a four-manned sedan carries Chinese royalty that I will subtly aim us towards a pub with outdoor seating.

I have packed a bag: a book, my notebook, a few doggy biscotti (mostly for dog, but if I’m being honest I’ve tried one). We leave. The day is perfect in every way. It’s cool in the shade and warm in the sun, it’s breezy and comfortable. By the time the dog ‘tricks’ me into picking her up, I am excited to note only a minor layer of sweat behind my knees. It’s a good day. I direct us towards a pub called The Windmill.

The Windmill is perfect, set in a garden off the road. There are a few scattered people there when I grab a seat. It’s days like this that make me appreciate life on Planet X. Burke will be joining me shortly and until then I’ll read and have a beer and enjoy the warm weather. If everyone would just appreciate such content, the world would be a better place.

I take out my book and search for my reading glasses. They’re not to be found, sadly. I huff. And then I do something ill-advised and rash. I start reading without my reading glasses. I squint, realizing a dark cloud has moved over the pub. It’s black.  

One of the joys of aging is the appreciate the smaller things. A free afternoon, a good cookie, an hour of reading, lounging in bed on a Saturday. One of the great ironies of aging is that one small misstep can alter those joys into discomfort. And what body part causes that discomfort is like a rolling wheel of fortune either based on poor decisions or a universal joke.

While working out last week I stepped on the edge of the workout mat one time, turned my foot a fraction of an inch, and had to wear a compression brace on my knee for three days. A month ago I slept on my right side throughout the night and couldn’t use my right leg for a good forty minutes after I woke up. Two weeks ago I made the mistake of sneezing while holding an apple and couldn’t walk upright for two days. I find myself explaining these things as a Bad ____ Day. It’s a Bad Back Day, a Bad Knee Day. A whine in the ear makes for a Bad Ear Day.

And today, foolishly, I try to read without my reading glasses, thus creating a Bad Eye Day. I ask Burke to bring my reading glasses and she does, but the damage is done. I spend the remainder of our visit squinting and rubbing blurry eyes.

On the walk home, the clouds have moved in. Four beers have added to my sight issues. The trees in the distance look like green giants. I hum a tune to myself. Only as I get home do I remember the words

“Hello darkness my old friend…”    

No Comments