Sunday, February 26, 2012


Every Sunday, the same thing happens.  Bedtime rolls around and I roll right on past it.  A later bedtime, too late to be really practical but things could still be ok, also comes and goes.  It is late, and I sit up, awake and stressing over the fact that I am awake.  It's really a bit ridiculous.  I should start getting up earlier on Sundays, but the truth is I usually don't even sleep all that late.  I just get enough sleep so that I'm up too late.  And then I wake up on Monday tired.

It's a vicious cycle and one that is starting to bug me.  So tonight I'm going to bed before midnight, darn it, even though I'm not even a little bit tired.  I'll read until I fall asleep.  I have a boring book all picked out and everything.  I'll leave you with Don Draper speaking Hungarian: this is pretty much how I guess I sound!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dancing on boats

Almost exactly three years ago, Lyla and I saw that a Spanish band called Che Sudaka would be playing at the A38.  On something of a whim, we decided to head to the concert. And there we saw the opening act, Kistehen, dressed in footy pjs and singing about how great it would be to be a bunny. We also danced like crazy people, jumping up and down to the random ska music.

Last week, we saw that Che Sudaka would be returning to the A38. On a whim, again, we decided to go to the concert. And again, we jumped up and down like crazy people and danced our little hearts out. The crowd was awesome and the boat was literally rocking. It sort of felt like dancing on a trampoline.

Totally worth getting home at one am on a school night! I love all these random things that happen in my life, and how much fun I always have.

Also: I'm on a boat. Always good to act out that particular music video!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Strange Winter

This whole winter it has been strangely mild.  There wasn't even a hint of snow before Christmas.  Suddenly, two weeks ago, it was incredibly cold.  Below freezing, even in fahrenheit.  The Danube looked like this:

Now, I did not take either of these lovely photos, rather I got them from my very good facebook friend, Budapest.  (Yes, I am fb friends with Budapest.  They give me the forecast and tell me about cool upcoming events every day.)  But they show the blocks of ice floating down the river.

It has since gotten consistently warmer.  Yesterday and today, it was in the high forties!  I biked to work today, and didn't even need my mittens on the way home this afternoon.  Craziness.  Does that mean spring is on the way, or is it just going to snow in May or something?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Starting to slack

I have totally given up on my New Year's Resolution to not get irritated at other peoples' idiocy.  To be fair, certain events in particular have made that particular resolution particularly difficult.  And also, you know, my basic nature of judge-asaurus, the scariest dinosaur of them all.  Plus, my and Lyla's bus rides became oddly silent when we couldn't comment on the sartorial and life choices of the strangers around us.

My other resolution, to get healthier, is taking up a ton of my time and concentration.  And, to be honest, it's going really, really well.  I feel great.

My other other resolution, to blog at least three times per week, is starting to be a hassle.  Particularly because of the fact that the getting-healthy resolution is such a big part of my life right now, and I really don't want this blog to become one of those diet and exercise blogs.  Because those irritate the heck out of me.  (Judge-asaurus, hear me roar!)  So, I find it difficult to find things to write about.

Today I met up and had dinner with a pair of total strangers.  They were, literally, the neighbors of one of my flatmate's old professors.  But they were in Budapest and wanting some sightseeing, so I was happy to oblige them.  I showed them around a bit, then took them to Menza, one of my favorite restaurants, and they bought me dinner.  We talked about Budapest and Hungary, Hungarian, and Hungarians... many of my favorite topics. And it was really nice.  It made me miss the good old days, where random friends of friends were always on my couch/floor.  The people who come to Budapest are generally rather awesome people.  And my life here is so amazing, and I find this place still so fascinating, that I love to show it off.  Plus, there is something so validating when people who have been to so many different places are impressed by the place that I've chosen to make my home.  Budapest is always a pleasant surprise to people, and that's fantastic.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Old Men

Today on the bus to work, a seat cleared up.  The (really very) old man standing next to it essentially shoved me into the empty seat, despite my squeaked protests that he should take the seat.  He then explained to me that standing keeps him young, and expressed his disapproval at the fact that only young women ever stand up to offer him seats.  "The day I take a seat from a lady is the day I will know that I am old!" he scoffed, while lamenting the state of young men today.  He literally lamented the fact that they never shave their necks, and I laughed and thought of my dad, who often makes the same complaint.

That laugh apparently signaled to the old man that I was a willing participant in his conversation, and he started to talk.  He talked to me for the remaining fifteen minutes of our ride together, before he got off at the hospital by the school.  ("My awful knees keep betraying me," was his last comment.)  And the fact of the matter is, he was very old and spoke softly and incredibly fast, and I couldn't really understand him all that well.  I considered pulling the "foreigner card" and letting him know that I was only getting about half of what he said.  Looking up at his face, though, I could see that he was just incredibly happy to be talking to someone who was listening.  Since he spoke without stopping, I only had to nod and make the occasional "mmhmm" or "igen" noise.  I'm pretty sure that he never even figured out that he was talking to a foreigner.

He told me to hold out for a good, old-fashioned man.  "A real man, not one of these boys."  He told me that with my beautiful blue eyes and curly blonde hair, I could afford to wait for a real man.  He then went on to say that even more important was the fact that I was so sweet to listen to an old man ramble.  And then he took my hand, and kept talking, now about government, and we rode the last few minutes hand-in-hand.

I hope that when I'm 87 years old, I can still stand up on the bus and push kids into chairs.  I hope that I still have my faculties about me and can talk without stopping for fifteen straight minutes.  I hope that I can be kind enough to make strangers' whole day.  I thought I was being nice to listen to the old man, but by the end I realized that he was being nice to talk to me.  So, thank you old man.  You made my whole day better.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I relax my brain.

My brain is totally relaxed.

This is the little chant that my yoga teacher does at the beginning and end of every lesson, starting from the toes and working up through the whole body, to end with the brain.  And while the concept of intentionally relaxing seems counterintuitive, it actually works.  After a relaxation activity, my arms feel heavy and lazy when I try to move them.  My chest and hips sort of spread open, and my legs press into the floor.  It's amazing.

I started taking yoga lessons at the beginning of January.  And I can think of nothing better to have done.  Not that I am awesome at yoga, by any means.  Today, for example, I totally fell coming out of the plow into the bridge.  And then I giggled, just to be extra nonzen.  I more appreciate yoga as a catalyst.  I have become more aware of my body and as such have started to eat more consciously and to exercise a lot more.  I stretch in the mornings and evenings.  I can do a shoulder stand for about five minutes now.

And I feel more relaxed.  Except at the concept of trying a head stand next week.  Then, not so relaxed!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Biting the bullet

I bought a gym membership.  I spent tons and tons of money, so now I have to go, right?

But seriously: it has a pool, cardio machines, free weights, nautilus machines, and tons of classes.  It's also super nice and clean, plus everyone speaks English!  It even offers yoga, so now I won't have to travel all the way to f-all deep Buda to do yoga.  Surely, this is a worthwhile investment.  But still... so much money for the annual membership.  So, so much money.  I hope the sad feeling in my belly is a result of my abs workout!

It's a small Budapest, after all

Budapest is a city of about 2 million people.  It has 23 districts, and extends out over kilometers and kilometers.  And yet, everyone I meet knows someone that I know.

Part of this is due to the fact that Anna knows, I think, half of the city.  Then there is the expat community, which it still feels somewhat strange to include myself in.  I go to a party, and later get a friend request from a few people on facebook, each of whom has two or three mutual friends with me, often from totally different friend groups.  Or the same thing happens after a volunteer event, or even after just randomly meeting someone on the street.

I walk down the road and bump into people I know.  I sit down at a random cafe to grab a coffee and hear, "Hey!  Lauren!"  I've even wound up, coincidentally, on the same train as acquaintances, only to realize it after we bump into each other upon arrival to our destination.

It's all lovely, and I feel happy to be part of this big community.  At the same time, it's a bit disconcerting.  I'm starting to lose my anonymity in the city.  One of BP's greatest charms, for me, was the ability to walk down a street or sit down on a random bus, turn off my "trying to understand Hungarian" switch, and be totally alone in the crowd.  I can still usually manage that, but sometimes not.  It's an adjustment.

More and more I feel like I actually live here now.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Europe is covered in snow. A bit to the north and to the east, people are literally freezing to death. Here in Hungary, things aren't quite that bad, though it is below zero even in fahrenheit now. Now, this had been an incredibly mild winter so far, without any snow that stuck. So when we woke up to snow on Saturday, we really didn't think all that much of it. When it started to stick, though, I was thrilled! I slid down our hill on Saturday, giggling like a crazy person. Now there's enough snow that the city is even starting to shut down a little bit. It's crazy... I guess the weather is making up for lost time!

Trips planned

Upcoming trips and traveling joys...

Madrid to visit friends: 2-4 March (booked)
Paris with Lyla and Rachel: 15-19 March (booked)
Ukraine with Anna: 6-9 April
Sweden and Denmark: 28 April- 1 May

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Here's a fun little video featuring my roomie's cousin, Gabor, who is an opera singer with the Hungarian national opera and whom I saw in November and January.  If you're interested, there are some clips from Mephistofele at minutes 3, 7, and 11.  The opera had quite a production, with a massive chorus and crazy sets, and it's worth checking out.  And everyone else can maybe get a kick out of listening to how DAMN MONOTONE even opera singers are in Hungarian.  Monotone opera singers.  While speaking, not singing, granted.  Strange language.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

An update on my little ratties

First, let me say that I had fifteen posts during the 31 days of January.  That's pretty much every other day, and definitely, thus far, in keeping with my New Year's Resolution.  Go me!

I thought it would be worth an update on my sweet rattie boys, Smokey and Dexter.  They are big, full-grown ratties now!  Especially Dexter, who is a bit of a chubster.  And it's funny how two brothers can be so different.  Smokey is brash and brave, as well as a bit of a bully.  He will steal treats and shove your hand to get what he wants, then grab that same hand and kiss it for a minute or two.  Dexter is a shy little cuddle bug, hiding from loud noises, but always happy to have a scratch or sit on my shoulder.  They can do tricks, spinning and walking on their hind legs, and answer to their names without hesitation.  Even Anna has warmed up to them.  Just little bundles of sunshine.