Thursday, July 23, 2009

Back to the future

Yes, the line of whiny personal posts continues. I just finished reading some pages I wrote two years ago and a few posts I deleted from the blog in between. There are no skeletons in my closet, they are full-fleshed demons. In my lines, I kind of stick to the same concerns: not knowing what I want, except for not wanting to become anything like my dad, being afraid, afraid of so much I have no time to list it all here, being single and how much I hate all the push-pull people play on me. I do have optimistic words sometimes. Fear is the mind-killer :D I hardly identify with that girl. All the right words are there in my head and now, knowing where all that led, I can tell her it was all worth it. That the big mistakes were fearsome responses to being deeply hurt. That all the people whose opinions she feared are no longer relevant. That she is and will be loved by all the right ones. That there are immense possibilities of bifurcations her life can take and that none is better than the other one and you can make the best of what you've got. That having slight feminist tendencies is not that bad ;) One thing I've noticed is that I never become a better person. Is there such thing?
Now I wish there was a blog post from the future to make me feel better. I've always been a lazy person and got away with it, but the past is only making me wonder if this time won't be an exception. I need someone to tell me I'll graduate this thing and that there are wonderful things waiting for me back home and if not, that I'll someday head to wherever they may be. It'd be comforting to get a hint of how foolish my fear is.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Midday soulsearching

The more I think I know who I am, the less helpful that is. At my age my mother had a family and a job. My friends were still in school. I'm somewhere in the middle. I'll be taking a break from school (although I'll probably apply for an M.A. when I get home) and looking for a job. I'm maybe the only one not trying to move towards something better or greater, but just heading towards different. Maybe it's because of all the moving around as a child that I long so much for a place of my own. I enjoy my solitude and maybe I'm just going in the wrong direction, a few years away from becoming the crazy cat lady. Some of my friends think I should've applied to PhD. My grandparents wish I had a well-paid job and settled. But settling is the last thing on my mind now. I've done most of it and none of it seems appealing to me right now. I know I should be growing up, but I still feel like a teenager. There are lots of causes I support, but I ain't fighting any of them. There are things I like, but I'm not good at any of them. Hell, I can watch a great movie in the same day with a chick flick. I've been reading less of what I like and more of what I had to and even though I like the latter, I can't talk to people about it. People I have conversations with are either dull (most of them) or I am dull to them. I'm a party animal when I go out, but I seldom get to do that lately. There is nothing mine about me. Except for my time alone. So maybe I'm not going where I should be going, but I'm more likely moving somewhere where I can keep being happy.

Friday, July 17, 2009


The summer sky is still pink-vanilla each day. I can't remember exactly when the rainy days stopped in Budapest. The second day in Prague was pretty fun. We went first on a boat tour. On our way to the deck, we looked for the swans we met the day before, but they were sunbathing somewhere else.
I then wanted to go check out the shopping streets, excited about my mum's suggestion to get something nice as a birthday present (of course, she found out only two days ago how much I had spent before going on my trip, so it was a good idea not to indulge). As it was really hot, we headed towards the old center to find some bench in the shades. But we came across a nice market, where I bought silly souvenirs made of wood. No Prague logos on them, just pretty things for the children within us. We somehow got to the castle and the sun had to shine right on top of our heads as were going up the hill. But it was really beautiful.
Later on we had a beer on some stairs and a photo shooting in front of the Romanian embassy. Tried for hours to find a place to dine and ended up at the global fast-food. We were so tired, we only went to sleep at midnight and spent time talking in the dark. It felt like camp.
In Bratislava we encountered (much too) good weather and our wonderfully hospitable colleague waiting at the bus station. Here we saw the castle first and then the city center. Bratislava is indeed quite small. Having lunch was another quest, successful this time, ended up paying six euro for a two-course meal and a beer. Pretty amazing for the area. After another walk the thirst got to me and had to find a supermarket. So we also found the Bratislava shopping street. After our guide left, we spent two or three hours on a bench. It was so hot and our bags felt so heavy and uncomfortable, that we just gossiped until it was time to take the bus. I freaked out when it was late, of course. Luckily, it wasn't full and we found pretty convenient seats. The first shower home was an orgasm.
I spent the last three days trying to convince myself to start writing my internship paper. I am lazy and I am freaked out I won't pass and in between I'm paralyzed. I managed to read some today and I have a picture in my head of how the paper will be structured. Maybe tomorrow is a lucky day. I didn't do bad today. I'm back on track with quitting the bad stuff and getting used to a healthy life style. Almost fainted because of too much time in the sauna, but I'll insist.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sleepy in Prague

We went through the roof on Thursday when we saw that the bus to Prague was almost full. And we had had booked the accomodation. So we tried all kind of options and ended up buying more expensive tickets from Volanbusz. The bus was not that horrible, but I was cold all night and my sweater was in the backpack down. When we arrived it was cloudy and could not find a place to change money. While looking at 7 o'clock in the morning for an exchange and a place to eat, we saw half of the center. We then had plenty of time to have some breakfast, walk, sit in a park, have a beer on the sidewalk. Came in the afternoon to the hostel, which is pretty hidden, but I figure really quiet. I had the most shocking shower when I woke up. I had to push a button and it just sprang. My heart stopped for a moment. Well, the water was hot in the end, it's clean with friendly staff, I cannot ask for more from the lowest price. We got around the center quite well even without the map. Probably tonight we'll take a walk around here and go back to see the castle tomorrow. I'm finally out travelling and I can't get enough. I'll add some photos when I get home. I'm now writing from the hostel's desktop.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Public display of affection

Turns out it was just like entering a pool of cold water. When you put your foot in, it gives you the chills, but once you're in, it's comfortable. I enjoyed discussing the reading with my colleagues. As much as I dreaded having to spend time on them, they were actually making smart points. I felt quite surprised by Freeman's argument that we can have globalization and labor standards at the same time and that the two actually reinforce each other. We take some dichotomies for granted. I'm really looking forward to his lectures tomorrow.
When I was heading back home, a couple was kissing on the metro like there was no tomorrow. And they really annoyed me. I know I've always been that kind of person who believes there are only two people in this world when she is in love. And I don't practice what I preach. But I really don't like to see people all over each other in public. I also don't like daughters and mothers who hold hands, when the former is over ten. Maybe I'm just too irritable of a person.
I've been watching 'Commanding Heights' most of the afternoon. Which means I was not working and I'll wake up early tomorrow to do that. I'm just at the middle of the second episode and I
ll leave the rest for tomorrow or whenever I can get some time for that. I feel pretty panicked about my internship. I was absent for too long and now I need my papers signed and the coordinator won't answer my e-mail. It'll be all right in the end.

La toma

I don't wanna read all that stuff. I would if I had plenty of time and energy and no stress about a hundred other things. But I can't right now, so I can just hope my free rider abilities are sharp.
So this morning we watched 'The Take'. I felt like crying most of the time. I'm probably never going to be a cold-blooded scientist. I'll always have a weakness for people's individual stories and a slightly activist rage. It's about a factory in Argentina being taken over by the workers in order to be transformed into a cooperative, where they would all have equal pay and run the business through participatory democracy. It wasn't the first time this kind of grass-roots movement re-opened factories. Several Argentinian businesses were revived by the workers and now the owners who closed and sell them wanted back in. There were many conditions related to the political environment, the economic pressures and globalization that led to such situations. I think now that Naomi Klein did have a point there, as much as I laugh at activists.
The problem I actually have with activists is that many of them have nice jobs and can afford fair-trade coffee and they are these lucky individuals who have the choice. But I wonder how many of them have actually been on the field, how many know personally people in need for whom they fight. Environmentalists can be just the same. Urban hippies don't impress me much. It's the people who go out into the world, the real one, that I'd wanna learn from.

Monday, July 6, 2009

On tours and contradictions

There's been a lot going on. I had a lovely time on Saturday walking along the bridge and looking at hand-made stuff, watching street performances and sitting in the grass. At the same time, there was a riot in the center, I think because the Magyar Garda was declared illegal. It was an amazing moment of two parallel worlds just a few hundred meters from each other.
Sunday we went on a boat trip to Szentendre. I love love love being on a boat. The town is really cosy. It's called the town of seven churches, but I only got to see four. We tried some spicy local sausages with baked potato and gazed around at souvenirs. The Marzipan Muzeum si a must. They have so many pretty things. Cartoon characters, the Hungarian Parliament, a two meters Michael Jackson and whatever else crossed the manufacturers' head. I did get sun burned, but it was worth getting out of the house.
Today Janos Ladanyi took us on a tour of Budapest's neighbourhoods. We looked at it from the top of Gellert Hill. Then we went to a poor area. I felt pretty embarassed to be walking with a large group looking at people's homes, but as our sociologist guide said, we learn by observing. Then we went through this middle-class garden house neighbourhood and another one of blocks of flats. Last we stopped to look at the center being re-built by pushing the poor out. It seems that Budapest is indeed a segregated city, both in terms of ethnicity and social class, but that this segregation is not spontaneous and natural, but built by planners and decision-makers. I didn't go to the beer garden, I really wanted to work a bit. I did not get to writing yet again, but I did read some.
It was a good day overall. I went on my tour and read articles, I talked to people and got to know some better, I saved money and worked out. I just come from the sauna. I can't make it as long as the hourglass takes, I got the chills like two minutes before and had to get out. I am somewhat exhausted, but I feel that it makes me feel fresh, improves my blood circulation and stamina. This is going to be a great summer.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Somebody stop me because I can't

I've been shopping, shopping, shopping. Spent 3/4 of my scholarship already and I'm facing the perspective of taking a home-made sandwich to school, as I can't afford eating out anymore. All right, I'm exaggerating. But really. I limited myself to buying classical pieces I needed for a while. But I've also been having lunch in the center and today I went crazy earring shopping. It's a lot of fun, I must say. Pretty things make me happy, I'm a sucker for pretty things. Everybody knows I have a sweet tooth and it ain't sugar I'm talking about. But then again, I have to start all kinds of diets.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Summer in the city

I might be addicted to noodle soup. That being said, I can get to more earthly matters. I do use English when I'm in Pest, it's surprising how I even catch myself thinking in languages other than Romanian. When I watch the news online it feels so strange to hear everybody speak my mother language. Anyways.
The first four days of summer school are over and it feels like it was longer than that. On Monday we had the usual introductory stuff, with a reception in the evening (oh, my, I've been eating way too much the last weeks). There were lectures each day and we watched two documentaries so far. 'Life and Debt' was following Jamaica's struggle to cope with the effects of globalization and 'Mardi Gras:Made in China' is more about production relations and worker exploitation.
I enjoy a lot of what we do there. Christy Glass gave a presentation on the Global Development Project, we had Elaine Weiner giving a lecture and talking about her research in the Czech Republic on female workers and managers, yesterday David Ost spoke of class and how much it is a vehicle of mobilization in capitalist societies and today Mahua Sarkar presented her research on Bangladeshi workers in Singapore, a striking example of regulated oppression.
What I don't like is the narrow mindedness, snobbery and hypocrisy we approach such stories with. Sometimes it feels like social science is some new religion and every scholar feels like a chosen one. We look down on those who dare to contradict us. We fail to understand the conditions under which certain situations develop and are hasty to interpret things. But we rarely remember that what we do need to do is make sense of things. And if we are such activists, find ways to approach issues. But it is rather difficult to do the latter, isn't it? Well, then we shouldn't make judgments. Our pity does not help, our being shocked and angry is just so empty if all we do is sit around a table. I'm not saying we cannot have feelings about such issues. We need to be angry and care, but I just hate it when this turns into a parade banner and nothing else and that's what I feel we do at moments in our roundtable discussions.
I don't want to end in this mean tone. Life is beautiful. Budapest is everyday amazing and all its scents and noises and sights make me feel like dancing. All right, that was a bit tacky.