So you thought you wanted a yarn store in Budapest, did you? A snap judgment in progress.
My life is full of snap judgments, too many to even tell, perhaps the capacity for rapid change is even a genetic inheritance, as I am the direct result of 2 people libel to make a snap judgment. The road to my formation started when both my parents, individually, seeing a rally forming in the streets of Budapest in 1956, went to check it out on their respective lunch breaks and wound up escaping the country days later not to return to Hungary until the coast was clear some 20 years later. Their main beef with the government at the time was mainly that they couldn't party as they saw fit, they couldn't go visiting other nearby countries to make use of their language skills and or go to the opera in Vienna or make practical jokes without being arrested. So, when they had the opportunity to split, being in their early 20's, they made a b-line for the Austrian border. My Mother ended up in Kansas City, but the day after receiving a check from a small car accident bought a bus ticket to New York, and with the remainder of the funds got a nose job the following week. My father went instead Australia, and once was visiting friends in NYC, when he applied for an engineering job. In the part where you assert your pay request he put the amount the Australian prime minster earned at the time. Well, he got that much, and decided to stay. They then got fixed up on a blind date through their mutual friends from the old country and eventually eloped in Las Vegas. Aahhh, the American dream in short-form snap judgments brought to you by Hungarian refugees living it UP!
Back to my story: Starting in 2002 many important figures in my life up and died on me, leading ultimately to my inheritance of the family flat in Budapest that one relative or another has lived in for decades. The only apartment that made it through wars and revolutions, this place is PACKED with family treasure. I arrived in BP in August of 2004, my teeth a wreck, and recovering from a mild Oxycodone addiction I acquired because of all the painful dental work I had just endured while under the so-called care of my father; who only allowed me to come visit my dying great aunt (who was a truly great personage, and by the way, so much for the good times of NYC in 1968) under the condition that I "subjugate myself to him." And after my boyfriend of 5 years dropped off all my shit in front of my door declaring we are "finished." Well, here I go then. I scrape my last pennies and buy a flight back to Hungary to at least to hang out with Bori néni untill she ultimately meets her rest at the age of 93.
My first order of business was to find the yarn stores in town, as knitting is my thing. Firstly to get situated on my throne as knitting queen, then ultimately to open a yarn store, as has been my plan since long before it was cool. Of course there was nothing of the sort one could find in western city, however, there was this one place. Although not an actual yarn store it seemed the perfect boutique, in an awesome location, charming, lovely, and dealing in hand knitting and crochet already, perfect - and I never forgot it. However I was new here, and it IS different, even though I speak the language I can easily come off as a callus bitch much of the time because I don't know all the many levels of platitudes that people take as automatic from someone with such fantastic pronunciation. So their was no chance then of me opening a store for many many reasons
Anyway, time flowed by, got married, got a dog (both man and dog are awesome), checked out Iceland for a couple of years, and finally came back in April of 2010. Around X-mass that same year I had cause to look up this charming store and make some inquiries. Within moments of my making an offer to buy the place Valeria noted that as she was going to close the store down anyway I could move in there virtually rent free and we would partner in a new venture. I would design stuff and market it, and she would make it a realty, at least organize the knitting ladies and handle quality control, plus be around a lot to hold down the fort since she lives in the building. I had a job working at that moment to make 100 pairs of slippers for Japan and it seemed like a good first joint project as the manufacture wouldn't start until the spring. Here I mention that Vali is insane. A fitness freak who if she didn't jump around at Zumba at least 10 hours a week would explode. She takes pills to calm down, but I think her dosage needs to be adjusted upwards to have any noticeable effect. Many people warned me against working with her, and I was really quick to fly to her defense, fully acknowledging her faults I chose instead to highlight in what she was very good and I wrongly thought things would work out, taking as evidence that things were starting to ramp up and go well. I was featured as a designer wherever possible, got a few new boutiques to sell my fashion collection, became a Rowen designer, and started to come out with one good idea after another. I even started to design crochet for her benefit and I thought she was noticing my efforts - even if she was largely an obstacle to any real work.
I started there with a small but robust marketing strategy to sell off the old things so as to make way for the new. I made posters, fliers, had sales on the street, payed my assistant to put her old stuff on an e-bay-esque craft website for sale, carefully photographing and cataloging her things so she could make money while I was getting my own things together (plus I was constantly pressing my own cash into the register drawer, where she was free to take from as long as she wrote it down). I also cleaned, a lot. Vali is an explosion heals, a veritable Tazmanian devil, and always throwing stuff around, can't handle having a basket where her projects live and insists on messy piles right in the middle of the floor, and most annoying, she loves to jam things between you and your work, like an ear of boiled corn for example, or she will slam her keys right down on your organic Peruvian cotton yarn, the one you are working with!! I hate this!!! Then yell in your face that she is constantly cleaning after me. Anyway.... As the weeks progressed it started to become more evident that she was truly mentally ill. It was impossible to get any work done while she was around and more and more frequently she would burst in and yell at me. It meant nothing to her that I even have a potential investor just waiting for things to smooth out before dropping some big cash on us and I had started talks with the local yarn business power-chicks to join forces, so Vali can largely have a studio instead of a boutique. I was well aware that things were not working out as I had envisioned them, and was already working a new angle that would please everyone and bring in more cash for us all. She could be as messy as she wants and do what she is best at, and the money could come in from that angle as it wasn't happening through yarn sales (which after less then 2 months from the official opening party is frankly to be expected).
Last Wednesday Vali tore into the shop while I was meeting with knitting ladies and photographer screaming "WHERE IS MY MOTHER FUCKING BELT YOU BITCH!!!" It was very early in the morning. We all looked at each other, and when no one said anything for a microsecond Vali started furiously yelling and stamping her bejeweled sandal-ed feet, demanding that we all drop everything and look for this belt. Her tantrum escalated so fast we didn't even have time to react on this stupid belt thing, within seconds she was standing in the middle of the room screaming "PAY ATTENTION TO ME!!!'" Just to let you know, she looses everything, not a day has gone by when she couldn't find her keys, or her project (which was always placed in a tidy basket under the couch) or something that she felt the need not only to tear the store apart looking for, but had to yell at me or Barbara that we directly hide things on her. I went out for a meeting and by the time I got back she had made an enormous mess and insisted on getting up in my face calling me a filthy Jew, saying I was badly raised by a filthy Jew of a mother, and that I constantly steel from the register, haven't done anything but rob her, and on, and on, and on. I thought it was probably time to end this relationship and spent the rest of evening thinking about how to gracefully do so. Around 9 I get call from my assistant, Barbara, saying Vali called her that I should pack up and go. Great! I will take a week to finish my business and then scram. Vali doesn't even actually appear on any contract, and I was loading the register with my own family's money to keep her happy and the business going, and at least I will stop hemorrhaging cash to pay for her trashy used clothing habit.
Everyone says, you should sleep on it, maybe this or that will be different in the morning. Besides, she told Barbara that she will not even come in so as not to see my horrible face. However on Thursday she came right down and started again directing her racist slander at me, belittling my work, style, and person. Mind you this is all very sudden, so I have appointments and important (to me) work lined up for the whole day, so while she is yelling at me, (or Barbara), at a distance of 5 centimeters from the face we are silently labeling clothes for delivery, talking across her with knitting ladies, and signing over post, and even talking to the occasional customer. We just finished what we needed to as fast as we could, called off the rest and by noon were packing up the entire store from back to front. My man showed up with my trusted stead, a red Toyota pickup that has seen the world and born away more households to distant lands then I care to mention.
By then we are 4 packing up the store. Vali would go upstairs and drink alcohol then come down and start being insane. Sometimes putting on a sugar sweet voice and asking for this and that, and when completely ignored would snap into venom-spitting mode and start calling me a stingy Jew for taking the curtains that I brought, and the 'hooks display' which is very much mine. She also destroyed a bunch of hard won displays that were meant for delivery to another store and then, the icing: she slapped me - in the face, unbelievable. We were all very surprised at just how very much stronger then her I was, and at any time I could beat her 54 year old ass, fitness club or no I am still big, and young. With all this she still didn't push me to that point though, really I am more of a silent menace when angry and can icily ignore someone for a long long time before getting physical. I have only ever hit one person with a closed fist, and that person was a dentist, and that, is another story. But as I grabbed her arm to push her away I could see the recognition of the facts as our eyes locked, I could kill her, I should kill her. I could also feel it in the ruthless way I squeezed that arm, fingernails in I could feel her flesh crushing as Bela and Barbara pulled her away from behind. However she took it upon herself to scream even more about how I went to beat her, without any recognition that perhaps she might deserve it, and that next time perhaps I wouldn't be so zen about it.
While we were packing Vali was standing in everyone's way, yelling her venom, occasionally disappearing upstairs to drink a few beers and come back even more belligerent (if possible), getting more and more upset as no one was willing to even say a single word to her. This, I know is even more infuriating to someone who wants to fight, but none of us could even get a word in anyway, and besides, what is there to say, really? Vali thought I was evil because I had plans to make an organic and fair trade yarn store, and then what? I'm just glad she didn't have some kind of stroke and die on the spot. I can see it now, she keels over and everyone looks right at me, the stinking Jew that killed Vali.
She changed the locks on the door in order to take my beautiful embroidered couch hostage until I return the big ugly retro pod chairs, the exact chairs mind you, that I sold in February, sold on agreement with her. I am thinking I might meet a locksmith on the spot, as I have a contract for the place, rented it from her x-husband and she doesn't even appear on any document. That is if I am willing to make another big scene, which I might just do.