Budapest, Hungary

My memories  of Hungary come back in flashes. Now and then, I see something that reminds me of Budapest. Fond memories and bittersweet nostalgia rush through my head in waves.

For example:

It is dark. I am walking across the street towards Costa Verde. I look to my right at the bright lights of the cars heading towards me. They slow to a stop. It is cold.

Normal, right? There is nothing particularly unique or interesting or memorable about this moment. But for me? There are times when this, for me, reminds me of Hungary. It reminds me of crossing the street at Oktagon Ter, of the nights I would walk home because it was too late and the trams had stopped running and the buses were full. I would look to my right and look into the lights that lined that street leading to Heroes square. What was it again? Andrassy utca?

It has been too long. I can barely remember the names of streets I used to see all the time. I have forgotten the words to Hungarian songs I used to sing and I have lost all sense of what it was like to feel real cold. I used to walk through cold air so cold that it physically hurt. Now I get chilly and whiny at night when my jacket isn’t thick enough.

It does not happen as often, this surge of old memories. Right when I came back, it happened all the time. Half of me was still in Hungary, reliving its paths and remembering the people I loved there. But now that they are all back, now that I am back (and have been back), I am beginning to forget.

All I have are these flashes, few and far between. And I welcome them fondly each time they come.

It’s not like I’m not happy with things here. It’s not like I want to go and live in Hungary. It’s more like I’m looking back and remembering another life. It’s happy and sad, memorable and forgettable, all at once. It’s been so long, I’m starting to wonder if it was even real. And in spite of everything, I love remembering Budapest and everything that happened there.

It wasn’t always like this, though. To put it all in perspective, this is what I felt when I was there. I figured I had to post something, just because I haven’t in a while. It was the beginning of the program and, in my literature class, we had to write something about our Hungarian experience. This was mine.

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Tally ho!

I swore this year would be different and I would write more here. We’ll see how long that little endeavor can last. I don’t really have anything of significance to write about, but it seems as though nothing I have ever written about is of any real significance anyway. And yet I’ve been able to somewhat sustain the content of this blog, so I guess not much has changed.

I feel a bit like a fraud when I go through my Google Reader because I subscribe to Neil Gaiman‘s blog, and the thing is, I’ve never read a single book by Neil Gaiman. I haven’t even seen Coraline. The most I can say is I’ve watched Stardust and I’ve read some of his short stories. And all that is really irrelevant when it comes down to the embarrassing fact that I haven’t even tried to read one of his (many) novels.

I guess I’ve found yet another (unofficial) resolution.

But anyway, the point of even bringing this up is that I really like the way Neil Gaiman goes about blogging. It’s like, he knows it’s an online blog and he doesn’t try to make it more than that. He is always sincere and it makes him seem all the more real, even with the knowledge that he’s this well-respected, largely successful author. And regardless of how busy he is, he manages to write something. Hm.

And then there’s Betsy Lerner (this crazily impressive editor/literary agent/author) who not only keeps up with her blog in spite of everything else she has going, but manages to make it refreshingly entertaining. She is unapologetic, honest, and unashamedly real.

There are many more writer-bloggers I humbly admire, but if I go on praising them, I’ll never get to where I was heading.  If they can do it, I have no excuse. I might not be nearly as entertaining or remotely accomplished, but I suppose that’s not the point. So, in my long-winded and completely unnecessary way, I guess I’m saying:

I plan on writing more.

Who knows what that entails! Cower in fear, my lovelies. Cower in fear.

So here we go.

Scary Typewriter

I figured since I haven’t been writing anything in this blog at all, I should make some sort of bold apologetic gesture. Everyone who really knows me knows that this is about as personal as I get. Actually, this is unprecedented even for me, but I’m feeling particularly fidgety at the moment and crazy notions always spawn out of restlessness.

Showing people the crap you create is always a weird experience. I think it’s because you want it to be good and so much of you knows that it can always be better.

Neil Gaiman wrote on his blog that you’ll never be satisfied with what you write. You’ll always find something wrong with it, and it’s really just a matter of learning how to deal with that. But he’s Neil Gaiman and a brilliant writer, so I don’t know if I fully believe him.

It could be true, though. It is certainly true for me. Sometimes I go back and reread everything I’ve ever written and I laugh. I laugh right there, on the spot, by myself. I look like a fool, but I laugh.

Well, whatever. We do the best we can and eventually we just have to sit back and love it unconditionally. We accept it for all its disastrous failures and embarrassing personal revelations.

So here we go.

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Oh what– a trend?

What Being a Lit/Writing Major Means to Me

It occurs to me that this is a common subject. It’s really about as personal as I’m willing to get on a public internet blog, so I suppose that has something to do with it. I hope it doesn’t come off too heavily as whining (though at times, I realize it can be) or obsession (which it probably can quite easily become). With all its zany professors and unusual characters, despite all its exhausting pains and draining passions, even considering its relative uselessness… I wouldn’t change it. Life just wouldn’t be as interesting. I can’t even describe the ridiculous classes or unbelievable situations that have stemmed from these small, fateful decisions leading me to lit/writing. I hate to say it, and I wish my descriptions could do it justice, but you actually do need to be part of it to understand. When I think about it, in any other major, in any other field, I don’t think I’d be nearly as neurotic or excited or challenged as I am now. All in all, I really love my major.

So please excuse the ranting and the repetition. Some things you just can’t help.

Behold! A lady who doth THINK too much.

Too Much Brain In My HeadI’m pretty sure it is Euripides who tells us not to think too much. I tend to believe him because he’s old and Greek and a writer… not that believing him prevents me at all from thinking too much.

I walk through the grove of eucalyptus trees and pass beneath the blue net installation that cuts through the downward path. They go unnoticed; it has become habit. My feet push against the gravel, but I feel nothing. I fall into a dull routine, and my mind wanders as gravity leads me down the hill. My body, ducking and weaving between students, operates on muscle memory as thoughts move fiercely within it. They flee into the crevices and corners of the brain, shuffling through its spaces and settling into the tissue. They pace back and forth and back again, twisting and turning through my head. They push against action and impulse, against the figure that contains them and the bitter walls pulsating within my chest. It is too much– the weight, the weight. I close my eyes. Within that moment, brief and brutal, I feel the full force of my thoughts. They weigh heavy against my body, throwing it backwards. My eyes open. Shielded by my own pitiful self-involvement, my body crashes violently as it heads down the pathway, unable to reconcile itself with the madness of my thoughts. “Watch where you’re going” — a voice growls deep and tumultuous from behind. My feet lead me quickly away. It is too late to apologize, and so the natural route of my walk continues to propel me forward, thoughts mulling dangerously under the surface.

This was the first of many indicators. Within the past week, I have tripped multiple times. I have collided into bikes and skateboards in my obliviousness. People wave at me and it takes minutes to break out of my line of thought. Sometimes I won’t respond at all. I feel like I’ve been moving around in this strange subconscious state. I think so much that I forget to pay attention to anything else. It is absolutely ridiculous.

Sometimes we just need to stop thinking so much. No, I won’t even pluralize that. It’s not fair– sometimes I just need to stop.

I think it’s pretty obvious that thinking (at least in the ridiculous, excessive sense that I have clearly adopted) isn’t the solution. Clarity has never fled more fearfully from me.

I am already strange and neurotic and absurd and confusing. So far as I can see, thinking has only added to the confusion. I have a theory: it is not the amount of thinking, but rather the intention of that thinking, that complicates things. I mean, what am I really trying to figure out? What can I possibly reason through? Is it even helping? Why do I even need to rationalize all this anyway? There is a blunt irony in the complications that arise as I think about thinking. It is exhausting.

But I am trying to be still, and it’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do.

Euripides also said that thinking too much can lead to madness. I figure it’s time to step away from myself for a while and just let things unravel as they will because I’m pretty sure Euripides is right… and let’s face it, I’m mad enough as it is.

Let’s keep it together (Can we keep it together?)

I think this week was something of a trial-run for spring quarter. Oh, what a trial it was!

I tried to write it all down. In retrospect, it was shameful and pathetic. So I deleted it. There wasn’t much. Basically just me freaking out, thinking too much, pulling all-nighters constantly, reading vigorously for literature classes while neglecting communication classes, and getting majorly pwned because I can’t seem to keep it together.

dsc04932

I spent most of my COCU100 and COSF140b classes drawing that on Tuesday. I don’t think I have the mental capacity to withstand my upper-division lit/writing classes and still devote myself fully to learning about the dullness of visual culture and European media systems. Worst double major EVER. I have obvious preferences. Oh well. You can hardly blame me.

This week has been horribly stressful, particularly around Tuesday. And it’s odd because it fluctuates so much. I’m perfectly happy now, but I suspect much of that has to do with the fact that Granger paid me a minute, insignificant blip of a compliment. And I swear, nothing has made me this happy all week. I was beaming for the rest of the day.

While it’s completely encouraging and unbelievably satisfying, I hate that I am capable of changing directions so easily. There’s a fair chance that none of this really makes sense if you’re not in my position, or if you’re not a writing major, or if you’re not absolutely insane (as I clearly am). For that, I apologize. It’s hard to explain, and I don’t know if anyone really cares for the explanation.

I think it’s just a little terrifying that a tiny comment from a crazy old man can move me to happiness. Or that anything anyone else does or thinks or says to me can shift my entire world. I live and die by someone else’s hands. It’s horrifying, really. What little control I have over myself!

I don’t know how to put this. I hate writing about myself. I hate being humbled. Slight movements and fleeting words affect me like disasters. I take everything personally and painfully. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. I mean, who am I allowing to define me? Who am I placing my faith in? My truthful, truthful answer is neither noble or right. Sometimes I don’t think I know myself at all. Seriously…I am being humbled.

And it seems I have a lot to learn.

The Lord your God is with you,

He is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you,

He will quiet you with his love,

He will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

In Which I Write a Disclaimer

I don’t know what this is, and it is quite possible that I may never know. This is the truth, and I have chosen to start whatever this is with complete honesty for the following reasons:

1. I tend to lie when under pressure.

And I wouldn’t necessarily call it lying– expanding on the truth with slight touches of imagination, perhaps. And I wouldn’t necessarily call this “pressure,” but it is something public and I firmly believe there is an overlooked risk in public expression. With things like blogs and online journals, writing easily becomes diluted down to writing for the public, all thought and opinion censored and stripped of raw honesty. It’s easier to elaborate on existing truths than to let them speak for themselves. I slip into this habit often, though not proudly. For once, it might be nice to have a little honesty.

2. I am writing for myself… or I should be (at least)

I figured that, in light of current circumstances, I should attempt (yet again) to do this as consistently and comprehensively as possible. It is really nothing more than another desperate attempt to begin more admirable habits and end unnecessary ones. I will make no promises and adhere to no expectations. This is what I choose to make it, and if it refuses to extend beyond this solitary post, then so be it. But, for my own sake, let’s hope it can break past those recurring insecurities and potent bouts of laziness. Let me stretch out these stiffened muscles and brush the dust off old practices. Somewhere beneath the layers of time and the clutter of fearful hesitation, there is a voice that has something to say.

So here I am trying to find it.