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Just when I thought I'd seen everything in Budapest

I confess I felt left behind when my ex-expat friends fled Budapest, after the holidays, to return to more glamorous places like Manhattan, LA, London and Munich.

I mean, here I am in Budapest, still picking up the empty beer bottles.

That perception warped, last night, when I attended a meeting of the Budapest writers' circle. Actually, the group has no official name. They're just friends, some of whom have literary aspirations, all of whom enjoy getting together for a good time. As far as I could make out, none of them are actually being paid to write.

When I arrived, my host, Jeff, informed me his girlfriend was performing minor cat surgery.

It turns out in Budapest, you can get a vet to perform live pet sterilizations. My host claimed this was in no way connected with the night's literary agenda. Things got even more exciting a half an hour later when the anesthesia wore off.

I was amazed to discover I had all kinds of connections with these people. Andrea, the amateur cat surgeon, knows my 14-year-old daughter Hanna, and used to work with her mother at the language school. Hell, I even taught Andrea for a semester. (English, not medicine.) Everybody in the room knew Daniel Langenkamp.

The night started out like a campfire storytelling session, with the group riffing off of current events. Jeff informed us that Michael Jackson has a mysterious connection with Louis Farrakan. What would it would be like, we speculated, if the Muslim Brotherhood ran Neverland as a commercial amusement park? What sorts of uniforms would they wear? (Did I mention what we were smoking.)

After that we wrote group sonnets. Really. Each person wrote two lines and passed the paper to the left for the next person to continue. I should also mention that we drew up a list of words to include in the poem, which included 'Michael Jackson,' 'sterilization' and 'rutabega' (credits to Chris Condon for that last one). I know this sounds silly, but ... okay, it was silly.

Anyway, just when I was ready to settle down for the Winter and be bored with Budapest, the City of Magyars took me by surprise. I'm still not looking forward to February, though. See you this Summer in Manhattan, Rick. Have you had those cats fixed yet?

Steven Carlson | Gen Expat Life Updates | Jan 9, 2004 | Comments (4)


Oh my goddess, Steve, is Hanna really 14?!!
Damn, we're getting old...

Rachel Elson | Jan 9, 2004

Yes, Hanna is really 14.

Actually though, Rachel, I don't feel like I'm getting any older, but sometime it seems like everyone else is so terribly YOUNG.

I mean, you should see some of these kids out and about on the town here in Budapest. Can they write their own names yet?

The good news is Hanna, at least, seems to be more beautiful and intelligent than her parents. So maybe there is such a thing as human progress.

Steve Carlson | Jan 9, 2004

Yes, Steve, my cats are neutered, so leave your scalpels at home. Reminds me of, when I was in college, I helped my veterinarian step-father declaw and de-ball our two male cats -- on the kitchen table. Old farm doc that he was, he tossed the testies into the sink over his shoulder. Quite surreally, in the midst of this, my dad, Dick, showed up to show off the house of his ex-wife and her new husband to Dick's girlfriend of the time. Step-dad will never forget that one.

Per kids growing up, one of the remarkable things about this visit back for me was that none of our friends seem to age a day in my eyes (denial ain't just a river in Egypt), but you can track the passage of time by how all their kids have grown.

Rick Bruner | Jan 9, 2004

Hello Steve.

While browsing through the web looking for a writer's group in Budapest, I came upon your blog.

I'm a freelance writer, moving to Budapest this Saturday (if I can organise it all in time). I dabble in fiction, but make my money freelancing for various publications. I'm looking to make contact with fellow writers/ journalists and hopefully pick their brains about freelancing in Budapest.

Does the writer's group still meet? Are you still in Budapest?

| Jul 29, 2004