Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Choosing Happiness

Triumph means different things to different people, even different things to the same person.  For me, these days, triumph is about finding solutions.  My wife, Lucia, and son, Eldar, have returned from a month in Russia, visiting my in-laws.  I remained here in Budapest, working and taking a bit of a holiday.  Now challenges are making themselves known.  First and foremost, I am very happy to be alive and healthy.  The joys of this life cannot be overestimated.  Simply to sit here and type these words is an experience so amazing that when I give a moment's consideration I can hardly believe it's happening.  To think that I own a laptop computer (to think that even such a thing exists!), that I write for a newspaper in Budapest, Hungary; that I have a son!  These are all miracles.  But my very breath alone is a miracle.  All the "troubles", the hangups, the difficulties (call them challenges), these are minute, the stuff of jokes compared to the wonder of life!  How absurd it would be to allow such minutiae to spoil the joy of being alive!  No matter what happens, no matter where I go on this earth, to be alive is an incredibly fantastic gift.  To have a body, a human body!  How nice. 
I wish Lucia could feel this way.  She has a history (most recently an hour ago when I phoned her) of devoting so much effort and energy to being miserable and attempting to make others (e.g. me) feel miserable, too.  She has told me that she does this, in part anyway, because if she is nice to me then I won't do what she wants.  There must be a flaw in this thinking.
She says I remind her of an old man. (never mind that my recent sexual exploits prove otherwise)  She goes to such lengths to paint the most wretched picture of me in her mind and describe to me in detail, it's a wonder i'm still here.
She told me about her trip to Russia and how aweful it was to be around her mom.  Her family lives in a neglected mining town some 200 km away from St.Petersberg.  Lucia told me how her mom feels trapped and disappointed and takes it out on her family in torrents of abuse.  Lucia's dad's response it to get drunk and beat her.  This spins the cycle further, giving her mom new ammunition with which to continue the war.  It's such an unltimately self-destructive behavior.  Unfortunatley it takes a special person not to be affected by it if they happen to be nearby.  Lucia recognizes and condemns such behaviour in her mom, but then practices it herself, without the awareness of the harm it does, or even that she's doing it at all.  She finds so much to complain about, especially regarding me.  It's so tempting to fire back.  But of course this would only make things worse.
She seems to lack a basic understanding of economy, a misunderstanding I find endemic in people from Central and Eastern Europe.  I built a microphone stand form a winebottle, carving the cork so that it fits to the mic mount.  I made a jacket for the bottle out of brown paper.  It was just right size for the desk upon which sits a computer.  Lucia knocked it down, saying "what is this piece of shit!?" or something similar.  Friends of mine, on the other hand, remarked on my ingenuity.  There's something inside her that won't allow her to see the beauty in such a thing.  It's the same sort of barrier that prevents her from taking public transporatation rather than a taxi home from the airport.  It seems to escape her that spending money comes at a cost and that finding a way to enjoy cheap or even free alternatives makes a person richer, both in terms of choices, time and disposable income.  If you spend money, you have to make it.  And making money does not always mean doing what you want.  She curses and belittles me for being cheap.  But to live one's life in order to pursue minor luxuries is to squander the greatest gift of all.
Of course there are things I can do to make our life together better.  To persevere in those things which I have to with a smile on my face, making the best effort I know how, forgiving myself and others for our shortcomings.  To understand the self-evident logic in foregiveness.  People, being creatures of dust, of course fall short of plans, expectations and desires.  If one cannot foregive, one obviates the value of planning, expecting and desiring!  Anger, hatred, bitterness; these do no good for anyone.  So long as we are alive, one is better off happy.  To distress over what others might think is madness!  How much control can one have over what others think?  Very little, I assure thee.  What's more, how do we know what they think or even if they care?  Much better to practice kindness, happiness and foregiveness.  To focus on perceiving the goodness in others and to affirm this; these are the ingredients of triumph.
How I love my son and his irrepressible smile.  And how I love when Lucia is able find her child-like smile!  Optimism, happiness are decisions.  Plans and desires are fine, but not to be taken too seriously.  Live for the joy of living.  Pursue plans, but one ought not to wager one's joy and peace of mind on their specific outcomes.
She would do well to pursue projects which make her happy, that give her a sense of total accomplishment and pay her in money.  I would do well to help her in this regard.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Heat of Summer

Summer is in full swing here in Budapest.  It's been very hot throughout the day and night for a week or so.  Thursday evening I went to Franz List Square and sat at one of the many outdoor cafes which were all quite crowded. I met with the filmmaker Katalin Krammer who told me of upcoming projects she has planned starring the likes of Penelope Cruz and Nicole Kidman.  She also fed me several Marlboro menthol lights cigarettes.  I had funny pains in my chest the next day and swore I would never smoke again.  Katalin drove me across the Margaret Bridge into Buda so I could make my way home.  She was on her way to a date.  She met with me because she seeks my services as a publicist.
Yesterday I finished an article on information technology outsourcing.  While I was working on it a tall, slender short-haired brunette photographer came into my office to make conversation.  I got the sense she was horny.  That evening we met at the Shark Beer Garden on Margaret Island.  It turns out she's first generation American of mixed Bolivian and Hungarian parentage.  She's twenty-nine and recently returned from a two-year stint in China where she learned Chinese and rode her bike 3000 km.  She also smokes.  She smokes in the style of a bygone era, deep inhales and second-stream exhales - the kind where the smoker first blows out a long stream of smoke and then after a short pause blows out a second, smaller stream as if emptying a reserve tank.
I probably could have got her home and taken her into the realm orgasmic ecstasy which she clearly desired, if the way she chewed on her nails was any indication.  But I didn't.  Instead I wussed out and said goodbye to her at the mouth of the bridge to the island.  "Let's do this again sometime." She said. 

Monday, July 19, 2004

Weekend to Remember

Weekend to Remember

On Friday I worked until late putting together a website for a born-again Christian massage therapist. She gave me a pocket New Testament and kept demonstrating different massage techniques on me. By the end of it all, I was honestly ready to join her at church that Sunday. My wife, a Yoga teacher is in Russia with our son for a few weeks. She knows this woman and doesn’t really like her.

Saturday I rose late, after 7. My morning Yoga practice was strong and ultimately relaxing, as it is most mornings with several intense forward and backward bends (wheels). This was followed by a bowl of very nice and hearty Muesli – rolled oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, salted peanuts, coconut shavings, sliced bananas, kefir and warm organic milk. And honey of course. Just before midday, I took a longish walk in the nearby Pilis hills with my friends Steven and Fanny. Steven just returned from a month-long trip to the US where his new film MIX played at several festivals. It was the third feature film he’s directed. I got on Steven’s nerves a bit as I kept talking to him and maybe not with him. We were pretty baked. Later, after descending, we ate some food and drank beer and all was well.

Saturday night I went out with my friend Bob in his Lexus convertible to meet my friend Y and her Italian friend Laura. Bob was angry because he didn’t find either girl pretty enough. Later he dropped us all off in the wrong place and then sent a text message asking me not to be mad at him, that I shouldn’t have introduced him to such old bags anyway. The girls and I walked in the moonlight along the Danube, past some medieval architecture, took photos by a fountain, and went to a nearby beer garden. There, a drunk guy sat at our table and tried to make conversation. I drank a soda water. The girls shared a small beer and smoked cigarettes. Laura took a taxi home and Y and I shared a Taxi back to the house she’s staying in, a gorgeous place owned by a filmmaker in a green and wooded neighborhood. I didn’t notice it at the time, but it’s across the street from the palatial home of Phil Collins, not the rockstar but the ALCOA executive who is also a senior guy in the Mormon Church where Lucia, Eldar (our son) and I often go.

At Y’s place, we drank lemongrass tea, had a little sex, then slept, then woke up and had some more sex. Y cooked corn-on-the-cob, carrots and other veggies. I was fasting however, as I do each Sunday. Surprisingly, the fast actually improved my stamina. By midday we were downstairs among the overstuffed Turkish pillows on the daybed. Bob’s ideas notwithstanding, I rather like Y. She’s ten years younger than me, has a fine body and a great snatch. Sunday afternoon I stayed inside her for probably three hours. When we finally ended the session, we were both in heaven. “You satisfied me.” She said with a tired smile. "Right now I couldn't have an argument with anybody."

When we left the house at half-past six, I was well into thinking about how to respond to this job offer that had come to me regarding a new business intelligence service I’m being asked to organize. It was then that I recognized the Collins’ place, a regular red brick castle: tower, turrets and all. “Good thing they didn’t see us,” I told Y. I wasn’t worried about Lucia. She has her fun with fellow Power Yogis, afterall. But if word spread among the Mormons about my behavior, a real moral crisis could break out. After parting with Y, I prayed for the well-being of Eldar and Lucia, that they come home healthy and happy on an agreeable date and that all will be fine with us. Amen.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

15 July

Just a quick note as this is my first blog on this page. A question that's been on my mind. We beam a laser at a spaceship near Saturn, it would arguably travel to Saturn at light speed. Once the laser has reached the craft and has been received by a phototransistor/photocapacitor fixed there, a laser is beamed back. My question, with the beams turned on and received, how long would a color or hue change take to reach the distant craft? Would it be faster than it took the laser to reach in the first place? Could a signature of this change be picked up before the full-on change? How long before? My hunch is it could take less time, perhaps a lot less. My goal of course is real time digital communication through space.