The Friendship Situation

“It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear,
Well, it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.

But, I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour.
I’ll be there for you, like I’ve been there before.
I’ll be there for you, cause you’re there for me too.” –“I’ll Be There for You” by the Rembrandts.

Brief aside: Ok. Now I know that my blog hasn’t exactly been “weekly”, in the American sense of the word “week”. But, as it turns out, in the Czech Republic, a week is actually 11 days, so I’m pretty much right on time.

Being in Prague, I’ve learned several things. 1. Bone roasted pork knuckles aren’t necessarily the best things to eat before running. 2. Avoid British stag parties at all costs. 3. Expecting to work while two of your friends are visiting is nearly impossible.

I got to Prague two weeks ago, after spending several days in Bratislava absorbing the culture and eating alone at the one, sort of Mexican restaurant in Slovakia. I keep doing this–getting homesick for something ‘American’ (or, I guess in this case, ‘Mexican’) and hoping that the Eastern European approximated facsimile of that thing will stave off said feeling. And it never, ever works out. The guacamole at ‘Hacienda Mexicana’ was something that a well paid food critic for a Bratislava paper might refer to as, “gross” and ” possibly made with fish”. But, alas, I needed to reunite with my friend and travel companion, the aforementioned Big Cat, and so I met him in Prague, where we rented an apartment for a month and both finally shaved off our travel beards.

The city is beautiful. It was one of the only European cities left basically untouched during the destruction of World War II and it is small, walkable and safe. But there are SO many tourists. SO many. See how I emphasized the word by putting on caps lock? That’s how serious I am about getting across this point. And, yes, technically I am a tourist too, and yes, I guess, looking back I shouldn’t have purchased an extra large velour sweatsuit with the words “Czech it Out” stitched across the front and back and, okay, fine, I probably shouldn’t wear it everyday… but, seriously, how are there even any people in other European countries if they’re all here posing for novelty caricature artists on the Charles Bridge and congratulating me on my hip sweatshirt purchase?

Whoa. Sorry about the anger. I just wish I hadn’t “discovered” Prague five years after everyone else. (Brief snippet of convo with my father to illustrate this point: “Hey Dad.” “Who is this?” “Kevin.” “…?” “Your son?” “Oh, um, how’s…where are you, New Mexico?” “Prague.” “…Dude, that place is so 1999.” “…Did you just call me dude, Dad?” “Yeah, I did. A lot has changed since you left. Anyway, I need to go. I’m watching a video I made of me swinging a Medicus 5 iron. Get me a t-shirt in Albuquerque.”)

 Anyway, the first week here, I was a writing machine. I finally had a “routine” down, and a spot to go that served bagels and bottomless cups of tea, and I was working at a prolific rate, getting thing accomplished I hadn’t even thought about in months. I finally finished and edited a new Writer’s Digest Quiz (aptly titled: Does Your Editor Hate You?), pitched a travel story, wrote a new chapter in my novel, and started working on editing the reality celebrity short story. I was excited. My life looked brighter. Colors were more dramatic. I had even stopped noticing the intense throbbing sensations stemming from the cavities in the back of my mouth. But then it all stopped.

My friend Frank came out here for spring break from law school and my friend Stu bought a flight two days before he came and within fifteen minutes of getting a new job offer in San Francisco. And they both brought their computers, which seemed like a good idea at the time, because our apartment has Wi-Fi, and I’ve been spending upwards of 200 Czech crowns a day (something like 30 grand American, I think) sitting in Internet Cafes watching the “Dick in a Box” SNL skit on YouTube. Plus, my old laptop I’d shipped out here came with its computer screen smashed despite being bubble taped and in a laptop case and so I figured, well, how nice, my friends have provided me free access to put down my thoughts and get some real work done from the comfort of my own apartment. Um, right?

“Absolutely not. Don’t touch my computer,” Frank said, when I asked if I could type up some of the chapters I’d written down and maybe do a, you know, blog entry. “Seriously, not right now. I’m looking at famous images of New York City on the New York Times website.”


“Because I don’t have any new emails and I’ve already read all the articles on ESPN, obviously.”

My subsequent minor temper tantrum only inflamed the situation and became a source of hilarity for all of my friends.

“Frank may I use your computer,” the Big Cat would theatrically ask. “I want to re-look at some emails I just sent and think about ways I could have improved them.”

“Of course. Take as long as you want. I certainly wasn’t doing anything.”

All of this is actually happening right now. As I type Frank is standing behind me and trying to calculate how much I owe him per minute for being able to use the computer (“I mean, you act like I won’t give you competitive rates”) and everyone is waiting for me to finish my work so that we can go see a “museum” or “something they don’t have in Charlottesville, VA.”

As anyone who has ever tried to write something coherant with a bunch of people standing around, sighing dramatically and whispering secrets behind them can attest, it’s basically impossible. My productivity has tanked, I seem to be getting some sort of rash, and I can’t even think of the central point of this post.

But, like Stevie Wonder said, that’s what friends are for.
Right? …. Right?

Join me next time, when I attempt coherance by stealing Frank’s laptop and hiding myself in the Czech movie theatre showing of Rocky Balboa, where I can finally concentrate.

P-P-Push it real good.


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6 thoughts on “The Friendship Situation

  1. Carolyn

    I really enjoy reading your blog…and know of a perfect place you can write, be inspired, and still drink lots of cheeep beer with your roasted pig knuckle. So, pssst…get on the train and come down to Cesky Krumlov. When you get here, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Stay at our hostel, Krumlov House, and you just may never leave.
    And don’t complain about the tourists…jeeesh! This world isn’t made for our quaint private pleasure. Look around you…don’t you think all that beauty is worth the hassle of elbowing people along the Charles Bridge?
    Your fan in the Czech Republic (by way of Somerville, but that’s another story…) Carolyn

  2. Shelia

    I leave the city, not New York or LA or even Dallas, but Charlotte, NC to go up to the mountains to visit my step-dad every few months. I was going up last Saturday. On Friday night I went to a party with the most (some professional)incrediable musicians; the crowd was VERY what you might say Yuppy Professionals, docs, contractors, realitors, small business owners, programers, etc….
    The music was great. I left the next morning for the high country mountains of NC… Later that night I went to a little mom and pop restaurant with a band. It was smoke filled with people of all walks of life, some in overalls, some better dressed but not wealthy. However, the bluegrass was fantastic.

    What a great world I live in to go to such extremes in
    a 24 hour period and live the best of two extreme worlds. I didn’t have to cross the globe, even though it felt like it.

  3. Morgan Barnhart

    I hate it when my social life, school and work interrupts my writing damn. Damn you, life! Grrr!

    You have the most odd conversations with your father. I think you should write a quote book called, "Quirky Wisdoms from Father to Son"…or something.

    And I’m still jealous you’re over there. Keep up the fun and hope you get to write soon!

  4. Lorri

    Hey, you’ve already got the rash, now get up outta that chair and go do something naughty to earn it . . . Seriously, dude, you’re set. You got guys standing around ready to watch and "sigh dramatically" and "whisper secrets." It’s time to take the show on the road.

    Oooh baby baby


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