The Grey Pen Goings

Navigation through a World that's Wild at Heart and Weird on Top.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Absurdity of the Prague Teaching Life

Today I was supposed to teach 4 lessons: 3 ninety minutes lessons and 1 45 minute makeup lesson.

Lesson #1: Actually takes place, good times, good lesson.

Lesson #2: Cancelled in advance because of trip to Kenya. Fine.

Lesson #3: Cancelled 4 and 1/2 hours in advance, meaning I still get paid.

Lesson #4: Cancelled 10 minutes after I show up.

So, in summation:

Hours paid for (45 min = 1 teaching hour): 5

Hours actually taught: 2

Hours spent traveling: 3

On Thursdays, for example, I teach for 5.5 hours and travel for 5.5 hours. Good times. Good fucking times.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


October the 27th marks the one-year anniversary of when I started my novel. I still remember that night clearly. We had done a Modern Drama Reading Group at Dana Pitts’ house, just five of us plowing through Enemy of the People, a long though pleasurable affair that didn’t get out till one in the morning. I didn’t get home till two, but by four that same morning I had the first 9 pages of Ouroboros. By Saturday (two days later) I had twenty-five. In the first three weeks I had seventy.

(Progress has since slowed considerably.)

But the actual origin of Ouroboros was born two nights earlier, on a Tuesday, when my friend Mark came home with my roommate Suz and I to have a post-pub beer (Oh, to be unemployed in Austin again! You never truly appreciate unemployment till ya get a goddamn job!)

We were getting there, the three of us, when Mark, sage and loquacious photographer that he is, made the offhand comment that life behind the camera was like living your life through others.

What would be the opposite of that? I immediately wondered. The model, my mind reasoned, who has to live all these different lives that for other people. She’s different and yet the same, like the other side of an equation. For some reason, this stuck with me, and I began to make more combinations as I fell asleep on the living room floor. The builder and the architect, the murderer and the victim, the colonizer and the colonized, the black and the white, different sides of the equation…

The week before I had read White Teeth by Zadie Smith. In it she mentioned the term ouroboros, which I was forced to look up. Ouroboros is the figure of a snake eating its tail, forming a union through its own death, and for some reason it stuck with me: Ouroboros. It was important. I wrote down its definition in my journal, unsure why it had to stay near the front of my mind.

And this is how art works sometimes: for some reason, the next day, when I woke up, these two things were all I could think of. The photographer leading his life through others. Ouroboros. The model living others’ lives for them. Ouroboros. My heritage, my halfbreed heritage—which side of the equation did it put me on? Ouroboros. Why did they fit together like jigsaw pieces? I don’t know. But they did. Everything wanted to fit together so, so badly, and I began to type.

Now, it’s hard to imagine I’ve been working on it a year. Certainly factors have slowed me down: a job, teaching that university course, moving abroad and training here, inexperience, laziness, other mental factors. But it’s getting there. I can honestly say it’s getting there. The hardest part is that it just requires more work and revisions than you want to put into it—the first chapter, for example, has been edited five times, and several chapters have been completely rearranged and rewritten. Over thirty pages have been straight cut when I decided to go in a different direction. This is the process. In terms of length, I’m about 60% through. As for being finished with it, well, that’s another matter.

Whether this thing ever sees the light of day is beyond me. In truth that’s only a part of why I write it. It means a lot to me. It’s very autobiographical in its own fantastical way. So, without further a due, here’s the Prelude of Ouroboros as a sort of teaser. The rest of the book follows different patterns, and only intermittently returns to this style and theme. Please don’t think it’s always so esoteric, but I hope you enjoy anyways. It’s been a strange, wild year.


And if all you were left with was a box?

When you’re not left with the clearest of moments. When all that remains of your neighbor, Claudia—who your parents encouraged you to call Grandma—is the jaundiced, dried-up rosebud she gave you the last time you saw her (because even if you didn’t know, she did). That and her four-leaf clover coffee mug. Or Uncle William, stolen by cancer, whose entire existence has been distilled into a mulberry sports coat that drapes below your knees.

Or your best friend from second grade, Will Monroe, in that tiny starfish of a scar on your forehead from when you both tried to head home the same soccer ball.

Or the handmade Valentine’s Day card from the first girl you swore you were going to marry, Michelle Bost, that know you can reread with an ironic smile and point out the subtle hints that your relationship would soon be downgraded to “friend” status.


—the shirt you got when you and your father went down to watch Spring Training, just the two of you, and he caught a foul ball bare-handed. He said it didn’t hurt at all. You know the shirt, it’s got too many holes in it now but you still wear it to sleep.
—the bits of hotdog your mother would mix into your mac-and-cheese.
—the air brush set you only opened twice, now stuffed in the back of you closet, next to a remote-controlled Corvette and that lacrosse stick you borrowed from Steve Dixon.
—how your kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Moore, taught you to hold on to your shirtsleeves when you put on a sweater so they wouldn’t get bunched up around your elbow. You reveled in this secret and always thought of her as your “school mom.”
—Craig Biggio’s Donruss rookie card, the corners bent from being looked at so much.
—the silver-chained necklace with a small pendant of Ganesha your father embarrassedly gave you for your 13th birthday. He walked away before you could thank him for it.
—your life lying not in the things all around you but in the invisible, interlocking web that connects them to you and other people, which is only able to be expressed through words like “borrowed” and “bequeathed” and “stolen” and “gave.”

And if you were left with a box?

Ten little Indians and then there was one.
He looks around and what’s to be done?
Ten little Indians and then there were none.

And if you were left with a box?

And think maybe you don’t know. Just maybe, maybe, you don’t.
Things would make so much sense in other, more fantastical ways.
There should be leaves after all. Certainly branches. Maybe an owl
Looking preciously out the hole in the trunk. And there is none of that.
Even the roots are conspicuously withered and threadbare…So…?

(“What the hell are you?” Frank Lee, your chemistry lab partner, used to ask. As if human wasn’t enough. As if saying halfbreed meant more. As if being from one definable race coming from one definable country gave you your own history book. So you called him a dog-eating communist, even though you knew he was Taiwanese.)

Look down at the cardboard wrapped in glossy tape.
Smoke a cigarette about what may be inside. Nod to yourself.
Close both eyes for a second then get out your scissors. Open gently,
Because this is a matter of extremity.

And if instead of a family you were left with a box? Rolls of film?

208 pages and counting. (cracks open Pilsner Urquell) Here’s to Year Two.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


As we wait for the train to arrive in Prague, I sing happily to Tom. “We’re going to Dresden, Dresden, Dresden Germany, we’re going to Dresden. Oh I have reason to believe we all will be received in Dresden.”

“That’s pretty good,” Tom replies. “Did you make that up?”

Well, not really—Graceland, you know? But Tom doesn’t know Graceland. I pause as the train pulls in: maybe this journey isn’t a good idea. How can I travel with someone who doesn’t know Graceland? My traveling companion is 25 years old, he is the product of my third flat, and I decide to go on. Yes, I have reason to believe I haven’t been deceived by Tommy.

I must confess I didn’t know much about Dresden going into the trip—our main goal in traveling was to get out of the Czech Republic, since you’re only allowed to stay in the country for 90 days without a visa, and I was getting frightfully close. Dresden happens to be the biggest city close to Prague: two and a half hours there, two and a half back, a short jaunt over the border and a stamp in your passport.

And this too I must confess: Dresden rocks. Rocks! It’s an incredibly interesting town, a very artsy city, the cultural center of what was East Germany, and, of course, the site of the famed bombings of ’45.

Like many large European cities, Dresden is divided by a river (the Elbe). We got in to town around 6 and made our way to our hostel, located in Neustadt. Neustadt is the hipper part of town, located near the university, and everywhere you look there’s posters for theatre and readings and exhibits. All of Europe seems to have this semi-goth/semi-grunge/intellectual/I’m-a-drunkard movement going on, and there were lots of these folk in Dresden. Also, there were many cute girls with scarves and striped socks riding bicycles. Between glammed out Czech girls and cute German girls on bicycles, I must defer to the Deutsch.

Upon our arrival we were accosted by a young American girl who we were happening to share a room with. If you can guess what a twenty year old girl from Michigan named Brittany might be like, that was her. Bright-eyed, hopelessly naïve, lugging her Nalgene around everywhere. She wasn’t someone who understood the silence that exists between people. Several quotes from this Brittany:

“You don’t sound Texan at all!”

“I can’t stand Germans after a while, they’re so reserved.”

“All the people from Wisconsin have sticks up their asses, and there aren’t many people in Iowa so we don’t really talk about them.”

It was nice to sample different beers—there is a huge difference between Czech and German beers, and both are very proud of their brews. The thing about Czech beer is that there’s more or less only one type of beer: pilsners. Now, of course they make some good pilsners, Pilsner Urquell is THE pilsner, literally, it’s made in Plzen. But damn if I don’t need some variety after a while! The only other beer in the Czech Republic is a “black beer,” or a dark beer, but it’s a very sweet drink aimed at girls. It’s the equivalent of a Smirnoff Ice or something.

And that’s why Germany was so nice: Hefeweizens. Mmm. Good, flavorful dark brews. I still sorely miss the taste of a Shiner, but I got to drink a couple of beers in Germany that were similar and quite delicious.

A couple other notes from the night in Dresden:

1. It’s amazing what a good bed can do for you! The bed I sleep on at home amounts to little more than couch cushions. This was a real bed. Sweet.
2. Another difference between Czech and German beers—one gives you hangovers, one doesn’t. Oh yeah, hangovers. Huh.
3. OK, and I’m not making this up just because I have a deep love for couscous. They have African specialty restaurants that advertise couscous; there is actually a restaurant called the COUSCOUS HAUS! I refrained from going only because I eat couscous on a daily basis. But this is how I knew Dresden was a good town.

The next morning we went to see the sights, at a leisurely pace. We crossed the river to the “old” part of town. And this is where Dresden becomes interesting. Because there are old parts, beautifully old ramparts to the castle that house museums now and so forth. And then there is the reconstructed old.

The main square of Dresden was put into the ground in ’45. The beautiful old church, the Frauenkirche, was turned to rubble, as were the surrounding buildings.

In the past ten years, Dresden has been reconstructing those buildings. Not just building new ones, but building them to replicate what use to be there. I find this incredibly fascinating—what will reconstruction fix? Will it make people believe that it’s really the same town? No. Will it make people forget the war? No. What, what then?

These buildings are so new despite the old designs given to them. It’s impossible to ignore their newness. Nowhere is this problem more prevalent than with the Frauenkirche. The church was finally rebuilt last year, and is indeed beautiful—one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve seen in Europe, in fact, over most of Prague. So that’s saying something. They used what old bricks still existed, but otherwise it’s new.

The inside is similar…they added every ornate flourish that used to exist in the church, only everything is also newly made, so it looks lavishly overdone. It is what the church used to be, but it doesn’t ring true anymore.

This is the eternal trap for Dresdenites. Do you let the past be erased by bombs, and build a new future? Or do you try to preserve the past in some sort of false present? Perhaps wars and bombs make these questions unanswerable.

The rest of the day we kept on our feet, saw the German Transportation Museum randomly (saw the first motorcycle ever made!), wandered between churches and other things. Tom got tired because he operates on naps, so we made our way to the train station and back to Prague.

It’s difficult and semi-expensive to leave for a weekend to another country, especially if you head west from the Czech Republic. In a month or so I’m hoping to go to Krakow. Over Christmas break, who knows? Hopefully somewhere warm, right? For reasons I cannot explain I wanted to see Dresden, and yes, we were well received.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Books I've Read So Far on My Journey

Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
Lethem’s book is a twist on the gritty detective story, with the protagonist a low-level mobster with Turret’s. The plot itself is not much deeper than a regular detective novel, but the style is engaging, the characters are entertaining, and the Turret’s angle is very interesting. Fun if not too deep or moving. 6.5 on the recommendation scale.

The Tin Drum by Günter Grass
A large, frenetic tale that is written as the autobiography of Oskar Matterath, a thirty year-old who willfully stunts his growth at the age of three. Oskar grows up in Germany during both World Wars and these events, obviously, color his childhood. The tale is twisted, strange, fantastical, absorbing, and the style is great—you get the feeling that Rushdie read a translation before going at Midnight’s Children. It wanders at time, lags a bit, but is a wonderful, engaging novel. 8.3 on the recommendation scale.

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera
After absorbing a book based on German history, I figured I ought to plunge into the works of the country I’m living in. Kundera’s works are like philosophical candy—he offers simple treatises about, obviously in this case, laughter and memory, and proves his points with examples through stories. Not only are these stories and his style remarkably straightforward, they often have to due with sex. I feel like there’s sort of two ways of looking at the world at any given time—that it’s impossible or very simple. Kundera, his country’s history heavy on his mind, only sees one. 6.2 on the recommendation scale.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
This was my first foray into Joyce and I found it very interesting. For several reasons it took me a while to get into it—that I’ve been on a modern kick for quite some time now, that I’m not Irish Catholic, that the structure and style of the story don’t really reward an adult reader till the fifth section, in my opinion. As a wannabe writer there are certain sections towards the end that make me say, “Yes, yes, exactly!” But otherwise I was sort of bored by my wading through it. 5.7 on the recommendation scale.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
I went back to the other Kundera book I’d read as a sort of comparison. Though similarly structured and similar in style, Lightness holds up much more than its Kunderian brother. Why? Kundera gives us much more time with the characters, dotes on them, attempts to explain them and their problems, that by the end we understand the philosophical point while feeling empathy for the characters. This is simply not the case with Laughter and Forgetting, where characters don’t really exist beyond the points Kundera is trying to make. 8.7 on the recommendation scale.

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
There are certain writers who, beyond meaning or subject matter, are flat-out style masters. For me, personally, Rushdie falls in this category. Arundhati Roy. Jonothan Safran Foer. And Vladimir Nabokov, whose wit and playfulness astounds me every time I read him. His puns, his gigantic, precise vocabulary, most everything he uses fits perfectly—and English was his third language! This I find amazing, that he wrote his books in English despite knowing Russian and French first. Pale Fire is the concocted edited version of an epic poem by a fictional poet, and the edited notes take on a story far greater than the 999-line poem. Nabokov doesn’t necessarily hit your heart with each book, but in terms of style and enjoyment, he’s certainly a master. 9.4 on the recommendation scale.

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
This is only the second Murakami book I’ve read, after the tight and totally engaging Norwegian Wood. I’ll says this about Kafka, it is as equally engaging, something you don’t want to put down because you want to know how its bizarre events are combined. The ending effects were disappointing to me, though—why go out of your way to make fantastical events seem real, or weave suspense into the reader, if you’re not going to fulfill their expectations at the end? Murakami gets really wrapped up in his metaphors, and his introduction of talking cats and time-traveling and mysterious phenomena—while fanciful and initially enjoyable—falls flat when their use is random. I’m still going to give the Windup Bird Chronicle a go. 4.3 on the recommendation scale.

If On a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
Unfinished as of now, but can't imagine the last fifty pages bringing it below an 8. Very heady.

Friday, October 13, 2006

On Age

The whole last year I was in Austin, a recently graduated mess of a 22 year-old, I was positive I was in fact 23. Maybe this has to do with the fact that most people graduate at 23, or turn 23 shortly thereafter, but I graduated and then turned 22. But whenever anyone asked me my age, I had to hesitate: I felt 23.

Of course I came here, an older mess of a 22 year-old, and turned 23 a couple of weeks later. Only now I feel like I’m 22 all the time. To this I have only one word to say: TARNATION!

This conversion seems to have to do with the fact that I am once more the youngin at my place of work. Most teachers at the school fall in the range of 25 to 27. Which isn’t a huge difference. But it’s a difference. I was flirting with this British woman named Sara last week when it sort of came down to the fact that she was 27 and gorgeous and I was, after all, 23. Not in words so much, just in any potential seriousness in the situation.

It’s something I’ve been used to my whole life, as a younger brother: I was Luigi to my brother’s Mario, Tails to his Sonic, Earl to his Toe Jam. And every job I worked at shoe stores, bakeries, etc., I always found myself as the youngest, which I’ve found I play both in my advantage and hide in its comfort. The youngest is always the darling, always precious, give lots of leeway, but never taken seriously.

It’s a little bit frustrating here, since I sort of came to have this new, adult life (Or did I come to put off adulthood? Um, shit.) and I wish I wasn’t firmly entrenched on the young side of the line. But such is life. It’s not like they’re pinching my cheeks or anything. That’s the funny thing about experience—you don’t want to believe that you need it till you have it. Then you understand.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Canadian Thanksgiving

So I live with two affable and mild-mannered Canadians, Tom and Emily. They keep low on the weekends and we share the grocery bill and cook together sometimes so yeah, things are pretty casual and hunky-dory between us.

So, generous people that they are, the two Canucks invited me to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with them this Monday. I readily agree—someone else cooking your food is not something you should frequently, if ever, turn down. “So, does Canadian Thanksgiving have a special name or something?” I ask.

“Yeah,” says Tom from Toronto. “It’s just called Thanksgiving.

Oh. Right. Whatever. We have potatoes and steamed broccoli and a roasted chicken picked up from the store. Also some wine and dessert. A good time is had by all. “It’s weird that you have chicken for Thanksgiving,” I comment and pat my sated belly.

“We usually have turkey too. We’re not that backwards,” says Emily of Alberta.

Oh. Right. Whatever. It wasn’t an ornate affair, nothing lavish was whipped up, but it was nice to sit down and have a good, relaxing, and tasty meal. And it was ridiculously easy to make, too. Hopefully—once we get more acclimatized to our schedules—we’ll be able to do this more often, and not just on made-up Canadian holidays.

I speak maroon

I went to a little dinner party the other night hosted by two vegetarians. The menu was simple and successful: salad, rice, couscous with cherry tomatoes (which I was expressly asked to bring), vegetable curry, and a delicious coconut pie. Some wine, as these soirees necessitate.

And while the food was sumptuous and the company swell, what made the night truly memorable was one of the host’s revelations about herself.

First, a little background information about Jessica: she’s 27 and hasn’t lived in the states since she graduated high school. She’s the coordinator for TEFL classes at the Caledonian School, picks up languages like they were pennies on the street, and her personality is…flighty sounds way too negative, but she certainly is fluttery, and she isn’t so much spacey as operating at her own frequency. So much I thought before this revelation.

Jessica has synethesia, a condition in which one’s senses never fully separate (as other youngins’ do) and thus are connected in day-to-day life. For example: letters and words have colors. “It’s great because Julie’s name looks blue and purple and her voice is in that color too,” Jessica says of her roommate. Yes, she sees voices too.

Some words have tastes. The word metro in Czech, for example, tastes exactly like steam in her mouth. To paint what a song looks like would take several walls. Certain people she can’t stand because of the way their voice looks. Everything she says amazes us. Naturally we have her go around the room and describe our names. Alissa is white and yellow, Luis is green. “Avimaan, oh you are so red. So red,” she says. “A’s are red and so are M’s, so, yeah, very red.”

We go back around for our voices. Julie’s voice is blue-purple rhombuses, which delight Jessica on a daily basis. Alissa, who speaks slowly, rolls out in thick yellow boxes. I speak in incredibly smooth, maroon ovals. This sounds good to me, a man of red, speaking in a stream of well-crafted maroon ovals, if only in this bizarre woman’s head.

The only other time I had encountered such a condition was in Allan Moore’s Top 10. She showed us some small paintings she had made of things she heard: a drum beat, two cases of a didgeridoo. We get so used to the way life works, oftentimes we don’t or can’t even think to realize to try and soak in all we can. Even in Prague, after a couple of months, you’ve seen enough ancient architecture or beautiful Czech girls that you don’t bother to let your breath be taken away. You needn’t waste your breath, perhaps. But learning about Jessica’s synesthesia, I’m wondering if I’m taking in as much as I can.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Unbearable Itchiness of Being

I pointed them out to Tom, my flatmate. “I haven’t even noticed any mosquitoes,” I said, running my fingers over my newly-bumped biceps. “But those suckers got me pretty good.”

“Yeah,” Tom agreed. “Though maybe you’re just not used to European mosquitoes or something.” Tom’s an environmental scientist, so I believe him. Fucking European diseases—the bane of Native Americans past, the bane of native Americans present!

The next day I found I’ve been rocked several more times around my ankles. Ok. And the next day I’m bitten all over my calves and knees. Goddamn. But I still couldn’t grasp it…

Now, I’d like to think I’ve suffered through some diseases. In India when I saw six, I drank some unfiltered water and got dysentery. Unseemly pain continually passed through my system. And I’ve had my waves of flus and fevers, and when Coach Dixon had to pull pebbles out from the skin flaps of my scraped up knee, I didn’t flinch. So, yeah, I’d like to think I can put up with some pain.

But the bed bugs tested me. Oh yes.

Once I spent the night at a girl’s place (our first time together), and when I woke up at 5 A.M. she was gone. She was sleeping on the couch. Apparently she couldn’t take my snoring. Now regardless of how she should’ve/could’ve dealt with the problem, there was something absolutely defeating about my situation upon waking—I can’t control what I do in my sleep. If I snore, I snore. If I dream, I dream. If I kick, I kick. So be it.

This is what I wanted to say to the bed bugs—it isn’t fair. I am asleep, you cannot do things to me while I’m asleep, you can’t attack when I am defenseless. It is wrong. Naturally, it should be wrong.

They ate slowly into my sanity. I would wake up to find two new bites and would claw for hours at old bites or imagined new ones. I would twitch on the tram, thinking they had followed me on. I was helpless, and I was helplessly naïve to think maybe they would go away or that I could wash them away. Oh no.

The trouble originated in the mattress my landlady, Kveta, dug up from her basement supply to give to me. In retrospect, it must have been festering down there for several years at least. But they were there, waiting in that baby-shit-brown mattress, and once they were in the mattress it was only a short time till they were in the sheet, and from the sheet to the pillows, and from the pillows to the couch, and from all of these places to me…

Now I like Kveta, my landlady, a lot. She is very earnest and charming and a twinkling little old lady. But elderly incompetence is only endearing when it doesn’t affect your well-being: from being in Prague I’ve learned so much. “Ali, I think it is stress,” she tells me when I show her a few bites. “I have been to doctor and he says. I have same like you. I show you.” She shows me her horrifically scabbed shins. I don’t have such heinous scarring. I have fucking bed bugs. “I can give my medicine when you want.”

But we changed mattresses and we changed the sheets. For one night there was nothing. I thought I had them licked, those invisible bastards. But the next afternoon I spent five minutes napping on my couch, face pressed against the green cushion. Ten minutes later I pass by a mirror and—

I’m not sure what’s better, having an Orion’s Belt of zits across my cheek or an Orion’s Belt of bed bug bites. Either way, I decide as I trudge off through the first nasty tentacle of Prague’s winter, I have hit rock bottom.

Drastic measures are taken. After waking Kveta and showing her the excess of bites, she finally believes me. We throw out the couch. We throw out the rug. The next day we tossed the bed as well. “I think is allergy,” Kveta told me again. “But we will see. I have another flat, but you will be alone. I think is better, if you are not alone, yes? Do you understand?”

I don’t particularly want to live alone. I liked this room, I really did. For a little while later we would play the game of wait and see (which I’d already been playing for too, too long). And though the bugs may have been eradicated their itches stay with me, beyond the reach of an anti-histamine’s help, and I can’t help but realize that this, this, is the unbearable itchiness of being.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Memoir Villanelle to a Wallet

How many worthy notes have lined your pocket walls?
You’ve opened economy’s gate for ten hefty years
And now, now you are mute when the waiter calls.

Through winters and summers, through springs and falls
Holding cash for the Times or Rushdie, creamless coffee, so many beers
How many worthy notes have lined your pocket walls?

Bought by my grandmother in one of Cincinnati’s malls
You survived the washer’s cycle, my fat ass, the pickpockets’ leers
And now, now you are mute when the waiter calls.

You were always ready for weekly ATM installs
The additions of credit cards, coins, receipts, bits of cheer
How many worthy notes have lined your pocket walls?

My grandmother knew what thoughts hemp recalls
The sturdy nature that surpassed your fibrous peers
And now, now you are mute when the waiter calls.

Your back is ripped and tattered, your frame as weary as Saul’s
You’ve been through my nostalgia, an extra sense after eyes and ears
How many worthy notes have lined your pocket walls?
And now, now you are mute when the waiter calls.

After ten years of its ever-withering, charmed life, I finally put my wallet to rest. It was too bulky here in the Czech Republic, where oftentimes you have to carry your wallet in your front pocket lest it be stolen. It was a thirteenth birthday present, and I snickered then because my grandmother bought me a hemp wallet (and she knew what hemp was!).

But it served me faithfully, and like a good pair of shoes you never think about a good wallet—it does its job so well it incorporates into your very life, your being. So, my old, now departed friend, I hope this villanelle does you some justice. I’d feel hard up if it didn’t.