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Travel Plans and Dreams for 2019

· 452 words · 3 min read

My sister came over last night, and we had a good time. We cooked what we pretty much always cook — fajitas — and watched a movie, as well as started planning a short summer trip to Estonia and Finland. I’ve been there, but she hasn’t, and I like both places, so I’m happy to go with her and show my favorite places there, as well as explore new ones. Right now the plan is to spend a day in Tallinn, at least a day and a half in a nearby national park, then take the ferry to Helsinki and visit the woods near Espoo before heading home.


The 9th Boring Conference’s date was just announced (May 4th), and I’m definitely going, even though it’s about a month after Brexit and who knows what’s up by then. I was there last year with a few friends, and we had a blast. It’s a day of extremely interesting and fun presentations about seemingly boring topics, and the whole thing costs about 25 GBP or so to attend. I highly recommend it.

A week later there’s !!Con in NYC as well. I really want to go, because they have really fun talks, but it’s harder to get a ticket, and they release them pretty late, so by the time I would get a ticket it’s possible that getting a flight there would be pretty expensive. Plus XOXO is returning for 2019, but it’s always a toss if you get in or not with their lottery system for the tickets. Two trips to the US in one year gets expensive pretty quick, so I have to consider my options and do some budgeting.

Then there’s also ITP Camp going on in NYC in June, and while timewise I could do it, it’s $1400 plus all the costs that come with staying for a month in one of the most expensive cities in the US.

In an ideal world, I’d leave early May for Boring, then go to NYC for !!Con, stay for ITP Camp, then meet up in Estonia with my sister before arriving back to Budapest, about two months later. Spend July and August back in Budapest, then come early September I would take another trip to Portland for XOXO for about ten days.


It’s fun to dream, but doing all of the above would be really expensive, so I’ll have to come up with a more realistic plan. I will definitely go to Boring, and XOXO if I get in as well as do the trip with my sister. !!Con is a big question mark, and ITP Camp is, unfortunately, a very likely no.

It’s gonna be a good summer, in any case.

My Recent Media Diet (February, 2019)

· 489 words · 3 min read

Here’s a bunch of television I’ve been enjoying recently.

Russian Doll: This was the highlight of recent times: 8 episodes of pure fun, with a proper ending. It’s best watched not knowing anything about it but here are the first five minutes: Nadia leaves her birthday party, and on the way home gets hit by a taxi, and dies. The next moment Nadia is back where the episode started, alive and well, on her own birthday party. It’s up on Netflix.

Star Trek: Discovery (Season 2): I’ve only seen three episodes of the new season so far but all of them have been great and I very much like this new take on Star Trek. The fact that it’s a prequel to The Original Series bothers me, though, because they could have had a lot more creative freedom and do less retconning if it would be set in another universe. It’s also up on Netflix or CBS All Access if you’re in the US.

Hanna (pilot): This is based on the excellent movie of the same name. Hanna is raised in the forest by his father in isolation, training her to be self-sufficient and strong, because someone in the CIA is hunting them for Reasons we don’t know yet. The pilot shows a lot of promise, but we’ll have to wait until March to see the rest. It’s up on Amazon Prime Video.

Strike Back (Season 5): A big, dumb action series about Section 20, a black ops group of MI6, saving the world, or at least parts of it. The writers’ contract mandated at least two machine-gun fights per episode. It’s… okay at best, I won’t be watching Season 6.

Counterpart (Season 2): Just before the end of the Cold War, scientists in East Germany discovered a parallel universe, a clone of theirs. In present day, Howard is working as a low-level bureucrat at the UN, overseeing the connection between those worlds, too low on the food chain to know what his actual work is about. Until one day, his “other” shows up, demanding to speak with him…
Season 2 has one episode left but so far the series shows no signs of getting boring or tired. Highly recommended.

The Good Place (Season 3): This has been quite a ride, huh? The first part of the season is a bit disorganized but it gets better as they go along and boy did they put on hell of a season finale. Can’t wait for Season 4. If you haven’t seen this series, check it out and don’t read anything about it, because spoilers can ruin at least half the fun. Should be up on Netflix in Europe.

The Punisher (Season 2): I loved the first season, but I quit this season after four episodes. The antagonist of Season 2 is just really, really bad. If you can get past that, it’s on Netflix.

What have you been watching lately?

On Yoga

· 476 words · 3 min read

I’ve written about my relationship with exercise, but I left out a significant bit: yoga.

Growing up fundamentalist, you learn that yoga (and most martial arts) are Bad. It’s by the devil; you’re worshiping other Gods, and so on. Even though I’ve been working hard to get rid of these parts of my faith, it’s a slow and arduous process.

So I never even thought of trying it for a long time. Then a former coworker and friend got into it; time to time she’d say “You should really give yoga a try,” and I would be like yeah, maybe, someday. Putting aside old and harmful beliefs, it also looked just… boring.


In late 2014 I broke my leg. Recovery was slow and painful, even though I did a decent amount of physical therapy. One day I stumbled upon a mass yoga event on Facebook and for whatever reason, I thought “eh, okay, why not?” So I went. It was awkward, unusual and weird, but I distinctly remember that afterwards the pain from my leg just disappeared for two days, like a miracle.

Even that was not enough at the time to start a regular practice, but in the spring of 2016, I finally pulled the trigger. I didn’t even know how to breathe right on the first class (hint: use only your nose), but it felt amazing, especially after the class. So I kept going back, as much as I could, though I was traveling a lot during that time.

Yoga made me at least a bit more flexible, but more importantly, it helped me to slow down, and it gave me space to process things. My mind would often wander during class, and while that’s somewhat discouraged, it was exactly what I needed at that time. And more often than not I would leave calmer and feeling more at peace with myself, something I desperately needed.

I was spoiled by having a great class filled with other expats and my awesome teacher, Lavinia. For her regular drop-in classes I’ve visited, she has her own style, a mix of existing ones, that has evolved over the recent years.

Lavinia and I
Me and my teacher

I haven’t done much yoga since I left Sweden. I’ve searched and tried, but I haven’t found a good class/teacher that I was happy with long-term—like I said, I was really spoiled, and it set the bar high. And maybe it’s not what I need right now.

To this day though, whenever I visit Gothenburg, I make it a point to go to at least one of her classes, and they never fail to disappoint me. In an ideal world, I would be able to teleport to Sweden once a week for a 90-minute class.

I can only tell you what my friend kept telling me: you should really give yoga a try.

On Exercise

· 1390 words · 7 min read

Facts

Let’s start with a few facts. I’m fat. I’m 174 (5’7”) and I weight about 125 kilos (275 pounds). I’ve had high blood pressure for the last 15 years or so, though the causes of that are complex. My cholesterol is officially considered high as of a few months ago, and if I don’t do something about it, I’ll have to start taking meds for it.

A huge part of it is likely genetics; men on my father’s side are historically overweight. But my terrible eating schedule (or the lack of thereof) and compulsive snacking does not help either.

I won’t go into my diet too much, because that’s material for another post; in any case, it’s a fact that exercise is something I definitely need.

Traumas

I have a messy relationship with working out and exercise in general. I was a chubby kid who was bullied growing up and I sucked at gym class. Having shitty teachers didn’t help either. So what I quickly learned is to just give up. Had to run laps for a few minutes, and I’m out of breath after 20 seconds? Just walk the rest of the way. The teacher will yell at you, classmates will make fun of you, but whatever. It’s the least bad option.

In high school, I got lucky and got transferred to the special gym class, for kids with mild disabilities, motor issues and such. It was easier: only two classes a week, and one of them was swimming. Which I am not great at, but not the worst either. Even there, I mostly just gave up on things quickly, but there was a lot less bullying and judging going around.

Changes

After I was finished with school, I more or less stopped thinking of or worrying about exercise and didn’t do much for almost ten years. There were times when I’d go swimming for a couple times before I would get bored with it (I still do). There were short periods when I was biking instead of taking the public transport, but they never lasted. When I broke my leg in 2014, I did do a decent amount of physical therapy, but I half-assed even that somewhat. To this day, my right leg, the one that was broken is still a bit weaker. I would go to the gym irregularly after that, mostly doing 20-30 minutes on the elliptical machine. I kind of wanted to exercise, but a huge part of me was fighting against it mentally.

Then one day, about three years ago, while being stuck in a nasty loop of self-pity, a friend of mine miraculously got me to (somewhat) snap out of it by getting me to sign up for a military boot camp-style workout program. We made a deal: I would go 10 times, and I can stop after that if I wanted to.

I ended up going only six times, and I hated most of it, except for one part: running.

Running

One of the reasons I never considered running before was that it felt like the most boring thing ever; about as dull as swimming, if not more. That, and all the bad experiences in gym class growing up. But I had this strange urge to do it anyway.

When I started it was still very much winter, so I went to a sports store, got a bunch of warm running clothes, downloaded Runkeeper on my phone and then I just… ran.

I quickly realized that the only way I can do this is running intervals; that is, running a while, then walking a while, then running a while and so on. Runkeeper has a nifty feature where you can set up custom intervals; most of the time I tried to stick to 90 seconds of running and 60 seconds of walking.

I never had much of a running schedule. I would have phases; I would go for a run three times in one week, then skip the next two weeks. As I’ve mentioned it earlier, it was a constant fight with myself. Part of me felt this urge to go for a run almost every day, but another part of me was actively fighting against it. I know this is a common experience; it’s one that didn’t really change over the years, though.


Mostly eschewing “real” races, I was racing myself, trying to improve my pace. My dream was running a 5K in 30 minutes, which is a 6:00 pace average (the best I ever did was about 4K with 6:46 on a treadmill). I ran both outside and inside; each has pros and cons. Being outside gives you variety and makes things less boring; however, on a treadmill I can set a pace and push myself more.

I did find one race that I kept going back to called Sziget Run a monthly timed 5K at Margaret’s Island in Budapest, a popular running place. There is a bit of a community around it, and the organizers are great. It became this fixed thing in my life: once a month I would get up early, and do a 5K with a bunch of people. Most of the time I would finish dead last, but everyone was always a good sport about it, cheering me on.

One thing on my bucket list was doing a complete lap around Central Park, which I was fortunate enough to do when I went for a trip to NY in late 2016. It was literally one of the first things I did there. My pace was terrible, and I felt like I was dying towards the end but I did it, and I’m still proud of it. The next day I would run an even longer distance around Williamsburg.

The longest run I did was last summer: it was a 12K race I signed up for. I first signed up for the 6K, then changed my mind in the last minute, thinking 6K is not much of a challenge, but I never did 12K, so why not? I finished last and my body was not happy with me afterwards, but I’m glad I did it.


I very seldom got what people call “runner’s high”, but for a long time, I did feel much better after a good run. It was a challenge to get started, hell, it was a challenge to keep going but in the end, I would be rewarded with those sweet, sweet endorphins. Until I wasn’t.

Around 2018 I was going through a time when I was pretty depressed, and running slowly started being less and less enjoyable. One could make the argument that exercise is not about enjoying it, but I digress; you need to get at least some form of satisfaction from it to keep going. And what kept happening was that I would go for a run, and come away feeling just as bad or even worse after it.

Last fall, when I was at XOXO 2018 I co-organized two morning runs that were quite popular. I’m happy that I did that; at the same time, it was the last time I would go for a run, at least for a while.

This story is not over

I was going through some old diary entries late last year and I noticed a pattern: every 3 months or so, I would make myself a note: get a personal trainer. For years. So last month, after not doing any form of exercise since September or so, I did just that, with the goal of working out thrice a week.

I’ve only been 6 times so far, because I had to skip almost 2 weeks as I got sick, but so far, so good. We mostly do weights and some cardio, though yesterday we did a session with mostly HIIT. I have mixed feelings about it, we’ll see how it works out in the long run.

My personal trainer and I talked about going running once the weather gets better, so who knows, I might pick it up again. For now, my goal is to do a solid hour of workout and hope that I feel at least somewhat better after. I’m not there yet, but I don’t hate it either, so the jury’s still out.

In any case, I’ll keep going.

On Photography

· 921 words · 5 min read

My father is a semi-amateur photographer; I got my affinity towards photography from him. I grew up watching him taking pictures. After high school, I got a job and soon I had disposable income, so I got my first digital camera: the Olympus E-1.

That was in 2008, and by then, it was already outdated. Released in 2003, it had a first-generation micro 43 sensor, 5 megapixels and ISO 800 was barely usable. That didn’t stop me; it was a camera I was familiar with because my father had one for years. I frequently borrowed my dad’s excellent 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 which is still one of the best glasses ever made. The combination of the lens and the camera took good pictures, ones that look great even in 2019.

In those early days I photographed a lot of things, but after a while I kind realized that I mostly like shooting people and that’s where my passion’s at. Portraits, parties, events, families and so on.


The first phone I owned that could take pictures was the Blackberry 9000 (I still miss that keyboard…). The image quality was pretty bad by today’s standards, but it was a start. After that, I had two Android phones; they were a bit better, but still not great. The first phone with a decent camera arrived to me in 2013 in the form of an iPhone 4S, and I was a convert. I took a lot of photos in the next few years with it and the other iPhones I eventually upgraded to (a 5S, then a 6+ then back to the 5S). People were still my focus, but I also took a lot of random pictures for social media. The 5S was surprisingly capable of capturing a good sunset.


I started playing with film photography around 2010, borrowing my dad’s Contax SLR collecting dust. I bought a roll of black and white film for it and started shooting with a Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 lens. Later on, I’d get a Canonet QL19 rangefinder, and shot a few rolls with that. I gave that one away to a friend, something I kind of regret. Then again, getting a new one wouldn’t cost too much. I took some of my best photos to this day on film and I almost always shot black and white, there was just something to it.


Shooting with an analog SLR spoils you with that big, beautiful viewfinder. I became obsessed with getting a full-frame DSLR, which were not quite affordable until Canon released the 6D and Nikon the D600 around 2012. It took me a couple of years, but at the end of 2013 I was finally able to afford one. I got the 6D and eventually two lenses for it: the 40mm f/2.8 pancake and the 85mm f/1.8, the latter being my favorite lens to this day: it’s razor-sharp and takes the best portraits. I got a flash for it as well, and it sort of became my “work” camera. I got into party photography and became really good at dancing with a heavy DSLR in one hand. I even got paid for it sometimes.


From the earliest days, I shot in RAW and used Lightroom Classic (née Lightroom). By now my brain is hardwired for it. I have a good workflow, and I can edit the 800 pictures I took on a party down to about 60 good ones in 2-3 hours.


In the middle of 2015 and I was about to leave for a couple of months of work and travel in Southern Europe. I didn’t want to lug my heavy 6D around, but I felt that having only a phone was not enough. It was a perfect excuse for me to finally buy a Fuji X-E1. By then I was already infected with a fascination with Fuji’s mirrorless cameras because one of my former best friends was really into them. I got two lenses for it, the 35mm f/1.4 and the 18-55 f/2.8-4. The autofocus and the EVF sucks, but it makes the most beautiful black and white JPEGs. They have a certain kind of magic to them.

I used it with an Eye-Fi card I got a few months prior, an SD card with built-in WiFi that sends all the pictures you take to your phone. Combining that with my instant printers (Fuji Instax Share SP-2, Paperang P1), I could take DSLR-quality portraits of people and hand it to them printed out two minutes later. It never fails to amaze.


By 2018 my enthusiasm for photography has started to dwindle. I was still talking random snapshots with my aging 5S, but I stopped carrying my Fuji with me in my backpack. I also stopped going to the kind of parties where I’d take pictures. I got myself a Pixel 2 to finally upgrade my phone, which briefly got me interested in photography again, and later on, I switched to an iPhone X, which I used for a series of portraits (and instant pictures) on XOXO 2018.


Nowadays most of my equipment is collecting dust. My creativity gets channeled into other things: drawing and writing. I think part of the reason I stopped doing photography is that it can create a distance between you and whatever you’re taking pictures. Without my camera, I am often more present.

I don’t know what the future will bring, but I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually I’d start taking more pictures again.


You can find some of my photos on my Facebook page.

On Living Alone, Living With Flatmates and Having the Best Apartment

· 396 words · 2 min read

I signed the new contract for my apartment a couple days ago. There has been a change: my youngest sister is moving in with her boyfriend, so one of my friends is taking her place.

I’ll miss my sister. We get along well and enjoy each other’s company. In practice, she’s been gone for more, than six months now: spending the majority of her time at her boyfriend’s place and coming home for only a couple days a month. I’m happy for her, but I still miss her. So I’ve been living alone for a while now.

I’ve lived alone on and off during the last decade or so. I’ve been privileged enough to be able to pick my flatmates. I have an aversion of living with strangers, so I always picked people I know, friends or at least acquaintances.

Of course, just because you know the person moving in with you, does not mean you know how it’s like to actually live with them. I got lucky with that as well so far; all my flatmates were great, and we got along well. I’m hoping for the same with my new one.

I could have looked for another place to live when I got the news from my sister, but this is one of the best apartments I’ve had so far. It’s the right size, it has a big kitchen with a gas stove and a lot of working area, there’s a decent amount of natural light and most importantly, it has AC — something that’s rare in Hungary — for the humid 35°C (95°F) summers we have in Budapest. There are two big, separate rooms, perfect for two people. It would be nice to have an additional living room, but still, I really can’t complain. And it’s affordable, especially for the area it’s in: the rent is 440€, with the total being around 490-520€ per month, the latter including utilities and Internet. All of that gets divided between two people, of course.

The location is excellent, well-connected, with major metro and tram lines closeby. It’s not quite in the heart of Budapest, but everything is still pretty close.

(I feel like I’m writing an ad for the apartment here, but no, you can’t have it.)


It’s gonna take me a while to adjust to living with someone again, but I’m hoping for the best.

On Board Games

· 1149 words · 6 min read

I got sucked into “real” board games about a decade ago. Some of my newfound friends from Twitter were into them, so we got together one night and started playing Catan, the gateway drug to the board game world.

Catan isn’t bad, per se; it’s just there are so many games that are much better than it, so we moved on to other games. After my move to Sweden, for a couple of years, I didn’t have too many friends to play with. In my last year there I’ve found a board gaming group and played regularly with them for a while, discovering many new games and making new friends. Since I moved back to Hungary, I haven’t played much but I want to change that this year.


Here’s a non-exhaustive list of games I enjoyed over the years and still enjoy many of them:

  • Race for the Galaxy (and its expansions): A card game, in which you’re each building your own galactic civilization, with different planets, goods, capabilities and so on. It took years of regular play to finally get bored with it; it’s that good. The mechanics are not complicated, but it does have a learning curve. We tried teaching it to a lot of people over the years, and it was interesting to see how fast some people learned, while others kept struggling with it and never really got a hang of it. While luck does play a role in it, the better you get at it, the less it matters. The base game doesn’t have much interaction between the players — whoever had the most points at the end of the game, wins — but the expansions do add some.
  • Bang: A spaghetti western in a card game. Each player takes one of the four distinct roles: Sheriff, Deputy, Outlaw or Renegade. The Sheriff and their Deputies want the Outlaws and the Renegade dead, the Outlaws want to kill the Sheriff and the Renegade wants to be the last person standing. Only the Sheriff’s role is known, it’s up to you to guess who’s playing who. Spoilers: everyone will keep insisting they’re the Deputy.
    You shoot at each other, dodge bullets, hide behind barrels, drink beer to get back life points… It has quite a bit of luck in it, but that never gets in the way of having fun, and you can play it with up to 8 people.
  • Agricola: You’re a farmer with a spouse, and you’re building your own farm, through 14 distinct rounds. You sow and reap crops, build fences, buy animals, expand your house and your family throughout the game. Like Race for the Galaxy, it’s kind of a multiplayer solitaire, but it’s a lot of fun. The only downside of it is that it takes about 15 minutes or so to set it up and even more to pack things away.
  • Love Letter: Best played with 4 players, this game consists of only 16 cards and a bunch of heart tokens. You’re a young lover, trying to win the affection of the princess. There are 8 different kinds of cards in the small deck and the game is mostly about being able to correctly guess who has which cards. It has quick, 5-10 minute rounds, so you usually play a bunch of them.
  • Codenames: This is the best party game, hands down. Two teams are working on finding their picks on a 5x5 grid of words. Each side has one Codemaster, who knows which words belong to their group and wants them to guess right: the only thing they can say is a one-word clue and a number. So if the table has “Athens,” “Berlin” and “France,” and all those cards belong to their team, they can say “Europe, 3”. It’s that simple, and yet this was an easy and unlikely example; more often than not you’re lucky if you can connect two words. Best played with 6-10 people. It’s been translated to a bazillion languages there’s even one where you have drawing instead of words.
  • Someone Has Died: I played this game at XOXO 2018 and fell in love with it within minutes. It’s an improvisation storytelling card game: one person takes the role of the Estate Keeper, who the rest of the players will have to convince that they deserve all that money the recently deceased had. Everyone gets a role, a relationship to the deceased and two story cards. In the first round, you proceed with your introduction, weaving your cards into the your story. It has four distinct rounds, and the winner is the person who is deemed to have been the most convincing by the Estate Keeper. If storytelling games are your thing, you’re gonna have loads of fun with this one.
  • Sushi Go!: This is a draft-and pass game: you deal a certain amount of cards, pick one and pass your hand to the next person until they’re all on the table. It’s fast, and it’s fun: each card has a type of sushi and a given amount of points; many of them only give you points when you have more than one of them, or combine them in a particular order. Best of all, the graphics are really cute. There’s a new version, called Sushi Go Party! with even more cards and support for up to 8 players (the original only goes up to 5).
  • Kingdom Builder: One of the most versatile board games I’ve ever played. You have a board, made of hexagons, which you build out of four randomly picked tiles. Your primary objective is to build settlements and build your kingdom. However, the three ways of getting points are drawn from a deck and therefore each game requires wildly different strategies.
  • Pandemic: A co-op eurogame in which you work together with everyone against the game itself, to stop a global pandemic killing humanity. Each player gets role with distinct powers. It’s fun and it can be quite challenging as well; the game lets you pick the difficulty.
    You can’t talk about Pandemic without mentioning Pandemic Legacy, a version of the game in which you play 12 to 24 games total, while the game changes in permanent ways. You name viruses, you tear up cards and so on. This requires you to have a regular, dedicated group of friends, but if you have those, it’s heaps of fun, I’ve been told. There are even two seasons of it out by now.
  • Fury of Dracula: Scotland Yard on steroids. One player takes the role of Dracula, moving around in Europe invisibly and building up an army of vampires, while everyone else is hunting him. Working against the clock, you have to be wise and try to find and defeat him. It’s a bit long (about 2-3 hours), but don’t let that deter you.

What are your favorite board (or card) games?

Flow (on Remote Work and Cafés)

· 380 words · 2 min read

I’m a freelancer; I don’t have an office. I can’t work from home; the silence is deafening, I need the background noise, and I need to be among people. The place I work from every day is a café about 25 minutes from my home; it’s called Flow. I am a person of habit: I wake up, I get dressed, I go to Flow and start working.

Flow is one of the many, many specialty cafés in Budapest. Don’t ask me about their coffee: I mostly eschew caffeine — my ADHD meds mostly replace caffeine — so my regular drink is an iced decaf latte with oat milk. It’s one of the most pointless drinks ever, but I like it.

So I don’t go to Flow for their coffee, but for everything else. It’s big; ceilings about 5 meters high and plenty of space, unlike most cafés. They have fresh pastries delivered every morning; if I get there early enough, I can nab one of my favorite chocolate rolls. And I kinda know some of the people running the place. They used to have great wifi as well, until the people responsible for it installed a network filter on it, blocking random sites and making work impossible. Thank God for unlimited 4G and tethering. They’re vegan, and I’m a carnivore, but they do have delicious tapioca pudding desserts. That, and plenty of power outlets.

Before Flow, I had another café as my base; before that place, another. I tried coworking spaces, and I was even part of one for about 6 months before the community around it started to dwindle.


On weekends or where I’m traveling, I go to a Starbucks. They usually have decent wifi, and their decaf is the same everywhere. They’re ubiquitous; you can find many of them in most major western cities these days (except for Sweden; there, I’ll go to an Espresso House instead).


Working from cafés is in many ways is not ideal, but it’s the thing that works for me. What would be ideal is a proper office, with coworkers — but I can’t give up freelancing for so many reasons. And it’s not like I’m alone here; I get to hang out with other friends who work remotely.

So cafés it is.

On Drawing

· 457 words · 3 min read

I started University last fall, and I used that as an excuse to get a 2018 iPad and an Apple Pencil. I had to take notes, after all, and why not do it digitally? The university thing didn’t last, but something else happened after a month or so: I started drawing.


I wasn’t that into drawing as a kid. Sure, I doodled just like everyone else, especially at a young age, and I do remember doing at least one pastel drawing, but that was about it. Hell, I was not much into visual arts either, or so it feels like, with the notable exception of photography. So it surprised even myself when one day, on a whim, I paid $10 for Procreate and promptly spent the next few days glued to my iPad and drawing every waking minute of the day.

A few months before that, I did a series of portraits at XOXO 2018 and they felt like a natural starting point. I started tracing these photos; open them in Procreate, set the opacity to around 50% or so, create a new layer, pick up my virtual graphite pencil and start drawing over them. I think I did about a dozen of these; you can find some of them on my Instagram. Looking at them months later, I think they don’t look too bad for a newbie.

Tracing felt like cheating — even though I know it’s not — and the next step was to find something or someone to draw. I was already aware of a place in Budapest called Painters Palace, a great art community that has weekly figure drawing classes. It’s full of amazing people, and they have a fantastic space.

I fell in love with figure drawing the very first time I did it. Drawing the naked human body is may not be the easiest thing, but it’s loads of fun. It didn’t take me long before I started modeling as well; I did it twice so far, and I plan to do it more in the future. My Instagram has a few early drawings posted, and I started posting my huge backlog to my art account.

Another thing I started doing was drawing hands from reference images. I have a couple of these published so far with at least one more to come.


There is some irony in the fact that even though I do almost all my drawing digitally, I use pencil and charcoal and I’m consciously trying to make them look like analog drawings. That being said, I don’t have much desire to use “real” pencil and paper, at least not right now.

All in all, it’s a great outlet for creativity and I’m very happy I discovered it.

I Am Not Sponsored by Grammarly but at This Point I Really Should Be

· 361 words · 2 min read

I was going to finally get back to work on my latest series before I distracted myself with other things, like tweaking my blog (word counts! reading time! endlessly tweaking the CSS!) as well as continuing to cross-post some of my writings from here. One thing I noticed is how my writing has improved over the last month (at least in my opinion). I was also mildly horrified how bad my spelling and grammar was before I started using Grammarly. Through this process, I fixed many early mistakes in those posts, though I don’t think I will edit them much beyond that.

A few days ago I bit the bullet and subscribed to Grammarly Premium, which fixes commas, sometimes tenses and other things one might mess up. It’s not a magic bullet, and I often disagree with its recommendations, but overall it’s definitely worth the money for me. If you want to save 40% on your subscription, register a new account and simply wait a few days. They will email you a discount on your first year.

I also took the opportunity to edit my series about ADHD into one big longread. It made me realize that breaking things down into smaller chunks really helps with writing, but at the same time editing them into one long article is not an easy process and I still suck at it. This is something I want to get better at as I want to write more long-form articles.


About ten years ago, before social media really blew up and blogs were all the rage, I hated when people metablogged. A lot has changed, of course, but I can’t help but see the irony that right now I’m doing pretty much the same thing: writing about writing, for me a form of progressive procrastination and a way to hit that 300-word mark and keep my streak.

In 2019 I feel like it’s allright, as long as it’s not overdone. I better find something else to write about for tomorrow, though.

This post was not sponsored by Grammarly, even though I’ve written about them plenty of times now, so they should really consider doing that.