The matrix (no, not the movie)

The last store affirmed my belief that life is good.  In a three foot glass showcase, a man sells nothing but strudel: poppy, apple, pear with honey, apricot, plum, cherry, chocolate cherry.  The strudel man prepares everything on his worktable which takes up most of the small shop.  I topped my day with two pieces of strudel (and “yes, I’d love powdered sugar sprinkled on top”).

Julie Callahan, The World In Between

boy and catWednesday was Three Kings’ Day (replete with cannonades at times) and it marked the end of the two-week school vacation, so yesterday morning I had my wake-up alarm back (the children first arrive in the schoolyard at 7:15 and their voices wake me, then, if I doze, at 8:30 – first recess – the snooze alarm takes place. Is there nothing more wonderful than to wake to the sound of children playing or birds singing or the tiptoeing of your kitten across your torso?

The Matrix

The matrix I use to plot my future consists of 17 categories and each can have a value of Best, Meh, or Not. The categories range from costs (rent, health insurance, dental care) to the pragmatic (weather) and to inescapable/improbable (what’s the likelihood I’ll exercise?, are the people basically happy/not happy? [in surveys of nationalities, Mexicans typically rank among the happiest with life, Hungarians far less so – it’s rumored customer service doesn’t exist in Hungary and it’s the land where 5 in 10 people claim to be dissatisfied with life].

Locales included Germany, Budapest, Cleveland and San Miguel. France wasn’t in the matrix as I feel incapable of negotiating its regulations for obtaining a long-term residence visa.

Germany was quickly excluded as it had no “Bests”. Hungary had a number of “Bests”, but it was Cleveland (who’d da thought?) and San Miguel that scored the most “Bests”.  Only one Best separated San Miguel and Cleveland (they had the same number of drawbacks). Cleveland scored big with items such as “I would be surrounded by my stuff,” and the unofficial categories “I would feel at-home in my own space [not someone else’s furnished space, as lovely as it might be]” and “I could buy clothes that fit”, but then San Miguel scored a lot of practical points (costs, ease of obtaining medicines without prescriptions, ease of visiting family, having a hair stylist who understands me).

How did Cleveland ever get in the mix? I’d liked Chicago, but thought it too big; a former boss, Harvard grad, had looked down on it; there were childhood feelings stemming from my relationship with my step-father. I’d basically exhausted my U.S. search and there were apartments at the high-end of my rent scale that were just lovely.

After I staring at the fact-based matrix a long time, emotions began to fade the ink in which the list was written and the European options, first Budapest, then others, peered over the horizon.  But only Budapest managed to stay visible.


Numbeo is a website that lets one compare living costs between two countries or two cities. It’s driven by user input, so it’s not as reliable as it might be, but it’s useful nevertheless.  Want to know the cost of a liter of milk in Utica?  Utilities in Slovakia?  You got it.

Whenever I’ve used it, Budapest has always comes out as the least expensive option [of the places I’m considering]. That knowledge underlies whatever thinking I might have about the results of the matrix. No matter whether a locale earns “best” in every category, it always has to counter the fact that “Budapest is cheaper across the board”. Given my reliance on Social Security as my pension, costs drive much of my thinking.

Supporting argument #1

Tom Rosiello’s talk last Sunday on mazes hadn’t sliced through my conundrum, my maze turned matrix.  However, the blog Eat, Drink and Carry a GPS presents one of the best strategies for living life fully and for selecting Budapest as a base and it helped clarify my thinking.

Today, Sunday, Rosiello will talk about fear, and that, really, is the undercurrent of my indecision: fears of losing, of being without what I’ve come to like or love, of the unknown, of change. He’s focusing on fears generated by world events, but I think fear is one of those things, like metastatic cancer, that spreads inside one.

Supporting argument #2

The strudel-maker and his strudel.  See the quote at the top.

Sherlock, The Disappointment

I love the Benedict Cumberbatch-Martin Freeman pairing as Sherlock and Watson in the show Sherlock that airs on PBS. Michael Hogan of the UK’s The Telegraph fawned over the New Year’s special (seen in the U.S. and the U.K.), but I was disappointed as I found  the plot … terribly contrived and the show too full of too many wonderful characters, each of which I enjoy most when teased apart from the pack (Andrew Scott as the arch-enemy Moriarty could be a series unto himself and Andrew Gattis as Mycroft, Sherlock’s brother, is deserving of more attention). Other reviews (Chris Tilly, Julia Alexander) were far less kind.

America’s contemporary take on Sherlock Holmes, Elementary, cleverly makes Moriarty female, the murderer of Holmes’ love as well as the replacement for Holmes’ deceased love. So if one wants to read psychological symbolism into the Moriarty plot line, one can spin contentedly.

Albert Franz Doppler, Fantaisie hongroise pastorale, Op. 26


One thought on “The matrix (no, not the movie)

  1. Hola amiga!

    Hungary?! You know we lived there for 6 months.. Before our school went bankrupt 😵 . Liked the city but the language is HARD and i put on 7kg 😬. Are youstill considering it?

    Sent from my iPhone


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