Archive for June, 2008

Goodbye Budapest

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

Took a walk down Vaci and to Gerbeaud to buy some cakes to take back to Zagreb – and stopped in a record store to get the new Coldplay CD – Viva La Vida – and the store, the clerk reminding me so much of High Fidelity. Yesterday, I had gone by and a cute, hip boy was working and I didn’t have enough forint to pay and said I’d be back this morning on my way out of town. I waited by the locked gate and a beater car drives up with Jack Black’s twin, who parks around the corner and bounces up all smiles. He told me he had just been at the movies last night and saw a preview for Kar Wai Wong’s The Lady From Shanghai where Ry Cooder does the score. We spoke about cool music and he recommended I also get the new Ranconteurs – I told him I had just seen them at Jazz Fest.

Now back to Zagreb to begin my sabbatical in earnest. Goodbye workaday life – for one month I am a lady of leisure.

Croatia vs Turkey

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Tonight Croatia goes up against Turkey and in Budapest the streets are lined with large plasma screens and sports yells as young and old are glued to the action. Who to vote for? Of course, Croatia but we love Turkey too.


Friday, June 20th, 2008

From Starbucks to Nescafe – surprisingly these little tubes of freeze dried Nescafe actually make quite delicious coffee. Who knew?

Busted flat in Budapest

Friday, June 20th, 2008

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions – here in Budapest with no clothes, no make-up, no notebook, none of what I prepped, I’m having to improvise. When I walk up to potential sources I have to act like I’m not wearing the same tee shirt I flew 20 hours in, wearing no make up and that my hair hasn’t been styled with a drugstore brush. I tried buying new clothes – but the shops (even those with brand names I’m familiar with back home) carry a garish line of gold lame and sparkles and it seems even a plain tee shirt is nowhere to be found.

Last night, after the conference, when everyone had rushed to bars to watch Germany and France play, I walked the stretch of the Danube to Raday – a street lined with cafes and restaurants that spill into each other – there are many little pockets like this around Budapest – a city a friend says is one part Paris and one part Zagreb.

I know now why the waltz is called Blue Danube – the water is uncharacteristically blue for a river. The dusky pink clouds that were settling in back of the Royal Castle as I walked along the riverside were a romantic backdrop for the Chain Bridge – a bridge that easily would have been at home crossing the Seine in the heart of Paris.

Last night, I ate goulash – yum – I would have expected a heavy fare with cream and the like but instead the bowl was filled with a light broth and tender pieces of meat with barely cooked potatoes – a sourness to the broth made it exceptional. Yum yum.

And the Hungarian beer – served ice cold with a creamy head – has been delightful.

So yes, I’m here – not in my best case scenario – but there is enough external goodness to make up for the fact that I look like a river rat (and perhaps smell like one even though I have been washing my clothes in the bathtub). Again, you have to be prepared to be flexible even when you are missing all of your accoutrements.

One piece of my luggage has shown up in Zagreb – I’ll reclaim it Saturday – and have hopes the other will show up before I get there. Intact, of course, unlike me at the moment.

Good news in the wee hours

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

At 4AM Mom called to say Bam Bam returned! She’s going to pull his ear since he was such a bad boy.

Rolling eyes is standard procedure

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Before I left New Orleans, I stumbled accidentally across a website about a young man who was visiting Eastern Europe and said in his blog – don’t bother. According to him, as east as you needed to go was East Berlin because after that it was nothing but gloom and doom from the weather to the attitudes.

I had a little prep from T who told me what to expect – directness and not so sunny dispositions.

So when I was shopping for some underwear (as mine are still over the Atlantic) and then ordering chicken and each time my sunniness was met with eyes rolling and almost disdain, I started collecting memories of who in my encounters had the best eye roll or had the best look of disdain. Right now, the waiter trumped them all.

Full moon tonight – but pieces are missing

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008
  1. Luggage missing
  2. Bam missing

Learning how to be flexible

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

I was telling someone last night how I used to be so orderly about things – my house was cleaned from top to bottom (including the baseboards), my to do list always got checked off at the end of the day, and I could pretty much bank on knowing what I was going to be doing in two months and even went so far as to have a 5-year goal always at hand. Know where all that went – defenestration – that is right – out the window.

I blame my job for some of it – for teaching me to be spontaneous, for being able to throw aside and reassemble priorities at the drop of a hat, and I also blame life. It appeared to me after a long time that no matter how many times I tried to get my ducks in a row, they went quacking like mad in eight thousand directions and most of them never came back, or if they did, the whole lot of them were plucked or crazy. So much for ordering ducks. And life.

When on Monday, I left my house and very soon afterwards found that my 14-hour plane ride was now a rerouted 20-hour plane ride, and upon landing at a late hour that my luggage with all my belongings – notebooks, phone numbers, toiletries, clothes, shoes, books, IPOD were missing – and that I had to drive three hours to get to where I needed to be and was already a half day late, I said to myself, “Self I said, take a deep breath.”

Driving through the cornfields of Hungary, I realized that I am capable of handling a lot of things but most of all I am flexible, and have learned to respect the journey, because no matter what you plan, no matter how many times you cross the t’s and dot the i’s, life has a way of tossing you around like jet turbulence and leaving you just a little off center so that you are always learning anew how to be in the moment, enjoying yourself, despite the fact that you are not anywhere where you thought you were headed.

Eel indoctrination

Monday, June 16th, 2008

I’m on my way to Eastern Europe for my indoctrination into all things eel – in my absence I am leaving all my nutty animals with my nutty mom in this nutty city and spreading an eel magic blanket over all of them so that they are safe and happy. I’ll check in when I can to update the progress of eel indoctrination – I might sound different though as there will be no intense feeling of having to do something else constantly nagging me – instead I will find myself focusing on what is in front of me at the present moment – I will be eel with the universe.

May the EEL force be with you.

Dying to be reborn

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Whenever I prepare for a journey I prepare as though for death. Should I never return, all is in order.