Beginning of Backsliding

Ladies and gentlemen gather round, gather round sights the like you’ve never seen on these here shores. Peruse the many palpable pleasures produced for your perusal. Lay your eyes upon the averagely strong man able to carry heavy groceries without complaining more than he believes he is entitled to. Meet the woman with some amounts of hair. How much you ask? As much as she desires to have at the moment and get off her back sonny; it’s her life let her live it. Be confounded by the mystery that is this dog I found. What does he do? What is his breed? Nobody yet lives who knows the tale. Finally, we have our greatest sight, hidden in that big tent yonder. I warn those of you with weak hearts, faint constitutions, small bladders, trust issues, minor anxiety, low bank account statements, lower back situations, tinnitus, insomnia, propriety barbeque blends, rhinovirus, rhinoceros, plesiosaurus, please let this joke stop sometime soon, spontaneous song and dance numbers, and irresistible knitting to please enter the main tent at your own risk. When ready witness the wordy wonders of a western writer. Watch as he wrestles to wring whatever works from wandering and worrying. Wrought words of worth become written record. Shows start once a week whenever our main event decides he has enough free time to grace the world with his indispensible wisdom. Copper for a peek, and a nickel for a poke, at least that what I tell the womenfolk.

Alright, I think that about counts as an intro. So, in the current week for no for no particular reason that I can pinpoint, I have been just feeling just the most lazy. Irrepressibly lazy with my only desire being to harness the powers of free and mindless entertainment to make the minutes pass. There are no traumatic experiences I am attempting to hide from, and no negative feelings forcing me to find solace in inactivity. I am just beset upon by the recommended videos section of Youtube. Although rather fitting for the theme of this post, this attitude and behavior was on the docket as what I wanted to touch upon. Let us all give a half-hearted hooray for poor habit synergies.

As our home began to impress its positive and negative character upon us; and as we prepared for our new occupation, there was another quirk which to a technophobe like me considered a quirk. For the other person in the home, the one who does not lie awake at night contemplating the rise of the machines, it was less of a quirk and more reminiscent of being stranded thousands of miles away from friends, family, and your own language. Our new place was lacking in the wireless fidelity. This little turn of events could be interpreted as having ups and downs.

You see I am, gasp, a filthy Millennial. As the generation that bridged the gap between life pre-digital and post us all being integrated into the Matrix, a large amount of my life is dedicated towards finding a positive balance between the two. As a self titled technophobe recording his life for the internet to witness, I’d say that I’ve had varying degrees of success. I was old enough that I remember living and doing things in the time prior to my family first attaining the internet in all of its 56 kilobytes of glory. The very ebb and flow of daily existence changed and I went from having to entertain myself to never being without entertainment. So much wasted time. I mean as a child I remember just playing, using my imagination, and the world around me to pass the days. However, these moments were replaced minute by minute as the siren’s digital call brought me closer and closer to the computer and the joys that it could bring. I never got the chance to experience a more adult means of life before the effortless entertainment of the web became near inseparable from my daily existence. It is a bad habit that only became reinforced as brick phones gave way to smart phones.

As I have lightly hinted at in the past I have a problem with wasting time. At this point I am not sure if that is because of or in addition to my reliance on computerized diversions. So it is that a not inconsiderable part of the reason that I felt that this entire European venture would be beneficial was that I wished to break my cycle of inactivity. My protective barrier from the stresses of the real world, a handy little escape from parts of my life that are now gone. So I wanted to regain my future from the destructive force of remaining stationary.

I look back on all the wasted time in my past with a measure of regret. However, this regret is only a modern filter with which to view the past. At the time, all of my temporally frivolous activities (from a plethora of video games to just so many Youtube videos) were so very informative to whom I am now. I would have continued to pass my life with these diversions forever without a shred of guilt if I hadn’t discovered something to drive me. I’m not sure why it took me twenty years of my life to discover, but I absolutely love the creative process. As might have become apparent I have a spark for writing, this isn’t a boast of quality, only the expression of desire. I want to create, I wish to become better, and not just in the realm of literature. My college education was focused on studio arts. When I had a deadline, and some accountability to produce creativity, I was at my happiest. I gave the feeling of progressing to a better state of self. It’s only now that I have discovered a personal goal that I feel the sting of guilt and reprobation when I spend an entire 72 hours improving myself and practicing my passions with all of the fervor of a sea cucumber.

Even though I have passions, would you like to know what is easier than working on your hopes and dreams? Nothing. Returning home from a day of work and losing yourself in just the sheer inactivity that can be delivered so well by the computers is so very simple. I do fully realize that sorting my issues is an issue of willpower not geographic location. However, I wasn’t writing a weekly blog about my life experiences back in the states was I? No, self, no you were not.

So it was that upon realizing that our new apartment would be without the great system of tubes in the sky I was overjoyed. This was the means of my deliverance. This is how I would reach past the part of me holding on to an outmoded childhood notion of self responsibility. Without the ability to distract myself I could make progress towards the theoretical more perfect me. To a certain extent, this is what happened. For that first magical week of time, I was free of disturbance. I began to write, I began to draw, and I began to read physical books for the first time in years. It was a time of flowering hope and renewed hope for the future, all the while I was marking the time it would take until regression.

However, of the opposing mind, was the woman with whom I had agreed to share this little adventure with. She did not make an internal promise to herself to improve her artistic abilities through monastic sequestering from the exterior world. As such she was unprepared and unhappy to fill the hours of the day with nothingness. After a few days of having nothing to do and having her boyfriend ignore her for his own self aggrandizement, my girlfriend derived purpose in the only means she could. Utilizing her prior experience in the theater, she adopted a personae to better see her through the boring ordeal. Her grand muse was the modest caterpillar. Said caterpillar would crawl on the floor with undulating motion, followed by the unexpected thespian delight of her rolling back and forth before grabbing on to my leg to better introduce me to the floor.

But as it is that you are reading this on a computer screen and not a stone with words chiseled into its side mailed randomly, it may become apparent that I did indeed get the internet hooked up in our place. As such all of the negatives of interconnectivity have indeed reared their ugly mugs into my life and livelihood. So in these past six months I haven’t made leaps and bounds so much as crawling scrambling spasmodic motions in the correct direction. I am not disappointed though as forward is still the direction I wander.

New Abode Blues

Welcome back ladies and gents to the show. I trust the accommodations are to your liking. I take my role as host quite seriously, I’ve spared no expense. Make yourself feel at home. That seat you’re currently residing in was recently imported directly from your home just to make you feel all the more relaxed.  Lean back, take a load off, and read a minute. The refreshments can be found in the kitchen, and the drinks are free provided you brought them yourself. Go ahead; take that momentary holiday from your life to gaze through the eyes of another. Entertainment at its finest, only instead of being provided to you by paid professionals you get the rustic charm of being entertained by an amateur.

With several days free before the call of employment whispered its way across the winds to our waiting ears, we proceeded to work off the excitement to come the best way two young and awestruck travellers could think. Approximately sixteen hours of uninterrupted sleep later we sloughed off the bonds of weariness to visit curiosity upon our surroundings. The problem with describing a home properly is that it is a thing of rock or wood or metal which is expected to fit so many contexts. It is simultaneously a fortress of emotional respite concealing one’s true natures from prying society and an outward representation of self. In this way it is incredibly difficult to sufficiently comprehend and describe one’s own abode without a great deal of reflection. With near five months of experience, I feel that I have gained the capacity to more honestly discuss this location in which I live.

Every coin has two sides, every rose has its thorn, and every turduckin makes Jesus cry; in this way our new home was more than just location for internal reflection. As a very real Soviet era building, it is rife with fascinating design choices and all of the issues that one would think to exist in a cheaply built mass produced concrete tower.

In addition to whatever oddities may arise from living in a place with an unfamiliar culture and language, keep in mind that I have never lived in a building more extravagant than a two story log cabin. So I was not at all prepared for the rigors of city living. Feel free to laugh along at anything that seems incredibly foolish or undoubtedly obvious, but I wasn’t privy with such highfalutin information as being able to leave the building.

Earlier I stated that there is a security gate as you reach our floor, but this is far from the only security measure in our little fortress. Located at the bottom floor is our lobby you would not be surprised to find lobby like things. It is a square room adorned with mail boxes, two glass doors on opposite ends of the building which lead to the exterior, two doors close together which lead to interior rooms, and lastly an elevator and stairs. To date I only know what the deal is with two of those doors. One of the glass exterior doors leads to a nice little courtyard that I sincerely wish to enter into, but some engineer decided that you needed to have prior knowledge of the five humors followed with a firm grounding in the alchemical arts before you are allowed bear witness to its mysteries.

So with this simple layout in mind I wish to elaborate on how very dumbfounded I became when upon attempting to leave the building to attain a little thing called food I was met with a closed door with no obvious means of releasing the mechanism. A number of minutes passed, a number which if it were to be stated would reach somewhere into the embarrassing. I persevered though. Attempting my most unconvincingly casual, I hang out in shut lobbies staring angrily at locked doors, stance I set to work unleashing my wit upon the predicament which perplexed me so. This pitiful display of brainsmanship gave way to a random passerby entering into the building and providing my escape. I whispered my best Blanche Dubois and was aided to my escape. You see I had no issues with entering with the building. There is a panel that you enter a code which allows you in, a fact that gave me a false sense of confidence before forcing me to accept the fact that I didn’t understand how to door. Few things transform you from possessor of knowledge and future bestower of knowledge to a bloated man baby as being bested by a stationary object that children have mastered. How’s it going foreshadowing, nice of you to stop by. It became such a problem that I was beginning to get panic attacks that I would have to call my new principal so to send someone to let me out of my own house. Because after two days of relying on the winds of fate for my release I had work in the morning and no guarantee that I would be allowed to escape my self-imprisonment.

Now before I reveal the great secret of my deliverance I would like to reiterate that this whole time that the temperature was hovering just below the 100 degree F. mark, and at no point was there respite from the heat. I am admitting right here that I am not a brilliant logistician once the heat creeps past a breezy spring day. Thus it was that through no efforts of my own was there a solution found. By this point, my girlfriend had gotten into the swing of the conundrum and we put our mighty intellects together like some kind of logic Voltron. Our grand experiment essentially boiled down to lying in wait for one of our neighbors to leave and then casually as possible Jane Goodall them. So it was that the evening before our time was up, along came a child neighbor of our who luckily spoke some English. Unfortunately for us that English did not extent to cover, “Oh god, please let us out, we are but souls stranded in this purgatory. Wouldst thou perchance to produce revelation producing our ascension!?”

His response was one of confused glances as he walked over and opened the door to leave. You see as all of the great detectives will tell you, it is the little details which answer great questions, and the thing that we had been overlooking the whole time was the row of light switches near the entry way. When we initially tested one of the switches and it did the likely thing which was to turn on a light and not unlock a door we foolishly thought that all of the switches accomplished similar things. Of course all of the switches had little pictographs of alarm bells on them just to confuse unsuspecting foreign devils.

Another issue similarly bourn of ignorance, was a little thing called trash. Namely where did it go? This was an issue that was solved in a similar way, random happenstance and luck. However, depressingly, it took weeks to sort out which you may realize as far too much time to live with piling trash. In order to not have to wade through a layer of persistent muck to live our daily lives though, we made great efforts to not produce trash so as to postpone the inevitable need to take out the bin. This was solved when I happened to witness someone walk out of one of the interior rooms and leave the door open. Inside were the trash receptacles for the entire building.

I have one more observation about my new home to share with you all before I end for this week. Our roof looks like a Jackson Pollack painting if instead of a famous American artist renowned for his drip paint method, it was an unfortunate mixture of heat and moisture. And instead of layers and layers of paint there was mold, just so very much mold. There is so much of it that I am slightly tempted to hand it a bill for rent, just to see what form of monetary units mold would consider reimbursing me with. The answer is most likely spores.

There you go folks, a little self directed levity to break in the new year and get us moving along. To date I have still not witnessed a single person from our building placing their trash in a bin, and yet it finds its way there somehow. I suspect teleportation lasers. I have yet to discover what lies in wait behind the last mystery door. I can only assume it leads to the golden underwater city of Atlandorado.

 

 

The Miscellaneous English corner:

Special thanks to Merriam Webster for telling me the proper spelling of highfalutin. Fun fact, to this day I always thought that highfalutin, which is just the most fun to say, was actually the words high and fluting but just said with the most stereotypical accent. Something new every day you know.

Also a fun note, I know the name Blanche Dubois and the quote, but I have no idea how I know that considering I have never seen any of the versions of A Streetcar Named Desire. It also isn’t as though the youth of my day were busying themselves with 60 year old film quotes what with their Linking of Parks and their Sinking N’s. Fascinating what has pierced the pop culture veil with enough force to stick in my mind.

The Jason Bourne movies have ruined me, because now every time I wish to type the word bourn my brain autocorrects it to Bourne. Good job Matt Damon.

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Out With the New In With the Old

Hello dear listeners, it is a new year, and still early enough in said year that it hasn’t become incredibly tacky to remind everyone of that fact. As many of you likely know, the big bad holiday season has come and gone and we have survived the Chris Cringling and the happying of years new. I have been away from writing for the last two weeks, for reasons just explained. It has been a long and busy break with a great many interesting events, events that will make their way into these records should I continue this record long enough. Now that the festive winterpocalypse has rolled on past to leave us with the plain old mundane winterpocalypse, I am attempting the return to normalcy, and part of that is continuing this blog, woo, go team!

Truth be told, and I’m sure this won’t win me any special unique snowflake awards, but the holiday season played the part of Joe Pesci moving to Miami only to take a taped up lead pipe to the unsuspecting kneecaps of my work ethic. Or something along those lines, I’ve never been a fan of The Godfather series. In the span of two weeks I managed to completely de-familiarize myself with my own schedule. From a rational perspective I seem to remember that before the break all of these pieces of a week fitted together nice and snug in the hours I allotted them. I certainly haven’t added any new pressing pulls on my time. The jigsaw is all a jumble and refitting the pieces will take some time.

The same as everyone else on the planet I am struggling to bounce back into the swing post vacation. I have begun to backslide a little ways into my lazy ways. After a vacation in which there was much tiring travel and too little sleep, there’s the whispering specter implying that you have been tired, that you deserve the chance to kick off your shoes and relax.Then as you spend the next 8 hours of your life staring at a screen, basking in the gaping vortex of random information that is the internet, the brain does its best to justify inaction as well deserved recuperation from whatever ill is plaguing that day. Tired? Watch a video. Not feeling it? Sit on your ever expanding ass. Hungry? Eat that fourth grilled cheese, you deserved it, you’ve had a long day.

The problem is that I indeed have not had a long day and almost never have. See, the teaching position that I am in right now seats me at a hyper generous 25 work hours per week. Add on a half hour of travel time per day and that brings me up to a grand total of 28 or so hours per week allotted to work. Now I may not be a mathematician, but I do have a good idea of what number is bigger than another. I have so much free time that I see just slipping by the wayside as I could be self-improving in all the ways I know I should be.

Back to the continuation of past events, oh boy this is going to start getting confusing. Where I left off in my story is still somewhere in late August to early September, but I’m making asides referring to Christmas and mid-January. This whole continuity of events would be so much simpler without the whole passage of time thing making my posts out of date. Damn you constant universal force, you’ve made a fool of me again!

At the end of the previous chapter we had in a rather rapid and somewhat to highly discombobulating manner been relocated to our new domesticity by a nice man who didn’t speak English. Our new home for the next ten months is located in a building that at first struck me as imposing. This could be because the city of Budapest, the country of Hungary, and most countries located in its immediate vicinity used to be not so happily located in the former Soviet Bloc. Because of this, most of the buildings that aren’t hundreds of years old possess an architectural style one would be safe in classifying as Communist Chic. Buildings belonging to this phylum and genus are approximately seven Europe Land Stories or eight United States Freedom Floors tall. They are towering concrete constructions with relatively little ornamentation built in. These grey towers are clustered together in large groups to create vertical suburbs.  Austere is a description that could be bandied about. In addition I have never lived anywhere other than a two story wood construction nestled at the forested base of a mountainside.

On location at our very own monochromatic spire we were met by two new strangers who this time did actually speak English. These strangers we later learned were my and my girlfriend’s section heads at school, a fact I’m sure they told us. However, at this point I had slipped into my go with the flow attitude where I only really take in the broad strokes of information. We were led to the tippy topmost floor where we were to reside. Stepping out of the elevator there is a metal security gate that we have to unlock to get onto the open air hallway lined on one side with entries to the apartments. Directly opposite our door is a nearly unimpeded view west towards the city and the hills. I know that it isn’t the most breathtaking vista I’ve ever experienced in my life, but that wasn’t what was important. Something about this view elicited calm from me. It was a momentary reassurance of the sanity of my move. The choices made that had led me here seemed to make a slight more sense in that brief glimpse across the landscape. In moments of introspection I take the step through the front portal to gaze out and relive that fleeting solace.

We were given the grand tour of the flat which amounted to our guides saying here’s a room, what a nice room, there is the next room. Contacts, direction, and advice were exchanged and they vacated to get on with their hectic schedules of getting a school back up and running post summer vacation. Before their exodus, we were informed that we had a day or two free before we were expected to show up to work, and there we were. Alone save each other, with naught to do but ponder the coming challenges.

So it is here, now, as I hunch over my laptop tapping out the past and wondering on the future. The rational part of my mind says that change comes day to day, a steady stream of effort carving the valley. The romantic however has always been swept up in the rejuvenation of spirits echoing from the end of something as grand yet fleeting as a year. Another one gone to memory and reaction with what gained? Is progress attained? If it is so, then is there purpose? Tune in for this new year and new self.