Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day 2008

White Christmas, as hoped for. Just a sprinkling and probably not much down in Pest, on the other side of the river. But up and over here in Buda, high in the hills, we have a sprinkled white frosting on the grass and on the patio.

Yesterday evening we went to a Christmas party at Tom Popper's. Tom is a long-time expat who has a history of holding parties, especially at the holidays.

It started out very nicely, a small crowd of expatriate "orphans" who had no local family and who hadn't themselves gone abroad for the holiday. There were some families with children and some old friends. Eldar had fun running around with the other kids. Perhaps because people tended to drift in and out and because there was no MC - Tom is a great host, but no MC - there were no toasts and no prayers and a lack of esprit de corps. Sort of fractured social affair, like a trip to the pub. Later, after the kids had mostly gone, the mood darkened into a drunken smoky late night at one of the junkyard taverns that many of the stragglers still there pack into. Intriguingly, at that stage, in the hours of the early morning, the party itself was packed. Why is it that the artist/boho crowd take so long to get out? Among the artists there assembled, I'm sure there was talent. But talented aritsts in Hungary, perhaps oppressed by economic hardship and lack of opportunity, tend to be prone to depression and substance abuse, along with proactve social skills and graces.

It was very nice to hang out with my old friend Claudia yesterday. I spent a few hours at her flat during the day and then later - after some convincing - she showed up at the party. Claudia is Swiss, but during a previous period, she spent more than a decade here and the local artist boho mindset had some effect. So she came a bit late. But she enjoyed herself. Another old friend, Pierre, was strangely cold to me. It strikes me as curious how people who run in government and corporate circles tend to be (outwardly, at least) far less moody and generally so much friendlier and engaging than these "real" people.

Today Eldar opened his presents, a big 3 in 1 lego ship, a pair of books, a Popeye DVD, some clothes, Turkish cookies. Lucia got a new video camera and tripod. I got a scarf and an electric razor.

Now it's 27 December. On Christmas Day, the evening thereof, we went to our friends Christopher's and Sophie's place. Christopher is a rock musician of mixed Californian and German parentage. His stepfather, who was there with his Californian mom, is also German. Also there was Pierre, who readers of this blog will remember from earlier entries. It was a great evening. Lucia shot on her new camera Maomi, Christopher's stepmom who is herself a documentary filmmaker for the past 40 years. And Adrian, her German husband was also good for some intriguing footage, telling a story of how the banana that is typically spelled with "b" but sometimes with "s."

Christopher's flat is so cool. The tiles and the furniture and the kitchen and the original art and framed photos on the walls give it a Western US, Central Turkish sort of feel, sort of desert pioneer. Maomi's place next door has its own groovy vibe, lots of pink and red and walls full of framed photos. Great kilims and antique furniture.

I made a lentil and laska mushroom lasagna. Others ate a roast beef. Then there was Sophie's homemade beigli, one with poppy seeds and the other with walnuts. Beigli is a Hungarian Christmas cake, dough rolled up with walnut or poppyseed paste and then baked. Delicious. I had a piece of the spacecake I'd made the night before where I'd served it at the party (I'm also munching on one now.)

Tonight we're off to see some friends perform.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Morning Thoughts

Funny thoughts this morning. Just sat up. 8 a.m., Saturday. In times past, I'd be meditating now, then practicing Yoga. These things are good and I will at least practice Yoga this morning. But I've had thoughts.

Yesterday I interviewed Michael Tippen, successful Canadian buyer and restorer of historically and architecturally significant buildings. He's the same age as me. Practices Yoga and eats a raw food diet. Clearly has a vision of a better world and is working toward enabling that vision to become reality. His head does not appear clouded by spite, anger or pet fetish. Unlike mine. I will be publishing this interview, which is good.

Many hours after the interview was over, Lucia, Eldar and I watched the film "Awakenings" on the computer last night. About people who were catatonic as the result of an illness. A doctor was able to "awaken" them for a few months and they were conscious and able to speak and move around on their own, thanks to "el dopa," a synthetic dopamine. The hospital imagery was a bit weird for me, familiar owing to my own stays in hospitals, I suppose.

Funny how I was feeling inadequate comparing myself to Tippen. Like there was something wrong with me for not being him. Something wrong with me, like the characters in the film. Catatonic. Or just bad, thinning hair. Spite, anger, governed by pet fetish.

Lucia attended the interview with Tippen. It was very nice to have her there. She took photos of Tippen's vast and beautiful office, filled with happy and productive people. She sat looking lovely, listening attentively to Tippen speak about his professional history, achievements and philosophy. He appeared to appreciate her. For one thing, she gave him an additional set of eyes to contact with while he spoke. I was looking at my notepad much of the time. His assistant Zsofia, a very pleasant, lovely and well-witted young woman was also there. So it was like they were his audience and I was his scribe. All of us seated in this thoughtfully appointed meeting room, adorned according to his taste, while he shared his thoughts and his story.

Funny how blogs and Internet content in general affect people. Post something on a blog and it's there for everyone to see. Of course, very few people will see it. But they could. I personally love the idea that I can be so public with my private thoughts. But more than once people have let me know they weren't pleased with what I wrote about them and demanded that I remove it. I felt to do so would be an historical injustice. Not that what I wrote had been a perfect account of history, but it had been an account, written freely and representing my point of view at the time I wrote it. But people often don't like the sound of their own voices when play back from an audio recording. And people are fussy about what pictures of them are allowed to exist.

The way I see it, if a person disagrees with how I or someone else has represented them, they can represent themselves differently. They can add a comment to one of my postings. They can write an entry of their own about me, if they like. They could petition friends to write positive things about them. Better to add to the conversation rather than to attempt to censor it.