A vibrant person born into an absurd life can turn out tragic. Givin caring nurture, such a girl child develops excellent life skills recording facets of a rapidly changing world.
Fogarassy was born in post-war Communist Hungary where East European shortages and social turn-overs rendered money nearly worthless. The 1956 revolution drove the family into Austrian prosperity and then into the stability of the US Midwest. There, remnants of war trauma bedevilled the loving family and still got Fogarassy onto the bucolic Indiana University Bloomington campus during the activist Vietnam era. With a degree in Comparative literature and a minor in science, Fogarassy followed love to New York where she began to master the art of living as a writer healing a heart broken in every conceivable venue.
As a career writer who made it into a digital global world, Fogarassy’s hallmark is institutional wisdom. At a time when AI threatens to wipe out the entire art of the word like industrialization sidelined grand architecture, Fograssy weaves quality into the flighty, disposable platforms of the age. The heroes of her works are the disappearing endangered species known as the intriguing moral human of fallible integrity.
For anyone contemplating such a rich, rewarding life, be forewarned. Going beyond your own limits is habit forming. So is the skill acquired in dealing with the consequences.
Internationalism expands the adventuring arena exponentially. In time, it may make the rewarding lifestyle even profitable.
A Charmed Life
Anna Freud, daughter of sage prychiatrist Sigmund, did a study of children living through the Second World War. She found that children were not as terrified as adults as long as they were with their parents. Separated, they were traumatized for life.
Fogarassy was among the lucky when the Soviet Russians invaded Hungary in 1956 to put down a revolution against their occupation. Her parents arranged the escape after the heartbreak of America getting distracted by the Suez crisis and failing to help the uprising encouraged by Radio Free Europe. Fogarassy remembers the th lon trek across Noman’s land in early December sleet and she remembers her parents refusing to hand the kids over for any price once the border was crossed. It’s all part of the Fogarassy back story and it came back full circle when Russia invaded Ukraine.
The thread of continuity and the long-range search for common sense in history had always been a pet theme for Fogarassy. In this case it turned into a thunderclap.
As anger built and memories came back of Soviet tanks in her hometown, the New Yourk building where she lived was bought by a Mexican family who wanted no rent, just for her to vacate as soon as possible.
With the pandemic still raging, Fogarassy couldn’t be evicted. The Mexican family’s solution was to harass her into moving out of the ground floor ao\partment.
Fogarassy was finalizing for publication her book, America Votes Obama to Biden Past Trump. As Russia shelled Ukraine her real life novel about Hungary under Russian communism grew hot on Amazon. The publisher, however had vanished in the Covid pandemic. The book was reissued by the new publisher who never notified Amazon of the reissue. All that took place as the building owners ran out of patience with routine harassment to start renovating.
In addition to flooded computer, books and possessions, the halmark of the harassment aimed at securing the American dream for a large Mexican family was the indiscriminate cutting off of electricity. .The energy surge of gathering the self to sit down and write only to have it boomerang by a comouter suddenly dead was excruciating. Court hearings, stays and orders to abide by the law were of no avail. They were, however, a perfect paralell with what the Russians are doing to Ukraine and what Ukraine is suffering under Russia’s lawless pusuit of its senseless aims.
Fogarassy was able to endure all that mindbending abuse because she is a Hungarian-American with the institutional wisdom to be appalled at her birth country’s short memory. Her first visit back was in the early 1970’s when three layers of barbed wire still sealed Hungary off from the rest of the world, from bucolic Austria just a Noman’s stretch of land and a whole planet of experience away.
Hungary is now part of the European Union but its spirit of proud independence is unlocked for both Hungarians and Hungarian-Americans whenever Fogarassy returns with her family. It is a trans-Atlantic connection that Fogarassy the internationalist sees as the spark to bring about the internationalist era in a global world.
Passion, the missing link between the comfortable, complaining and defensive West and the upward strivers suppressing passion in historical grudges. Passion, the creative fire that burns to make the world a better place, starting by standing up for dignity and a proud integrity of democratic values. The Ukrainians have that passion in spades.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine finally identified for Fogarassy the European quality that had always put her slightly at odds with her fellow Americans. Perhaps most detrimental to a career writer, she was modest, didn’t boast and was no fan of the hard sell. But the passion that had brought her so much trouble in the great US was a decided asset in a global world.
There is an air of honest innocence in much of the emerging world that is mistrusted in the jaded West. That innocence is lost when people are forced to migate into rich countries, often by demeaning routes, only to arrive and be treated like subhuman invaders. Internationalism addresses the phenomenon with approaches to cutting down the need to leave countries people could love as much as the Ukrainians love theirs.
Thus, life has come full circle for justice to all-American Fogarassy with the American-led Allied defense of Ukraine. For her, it is the start of a truly internationalist world based on the truth detecting tools of a born writer.
A Unique Perspective
When you’re born into a senseless world with the luck to be nurtured into making sense of it, the world becomes your oyster. When life begins to make sense at the formative age of eight, life becomes a boundless adventure with plenty of pitfalls that serve as a lifelong tutorial in recovery to rebound.
Secure in the hands of loving parents she’d barely known in Communist Hungary, Fogarassy crossed three countries with three very different complex languages at a formative age that made it easy to adapt. She started in the chaos of parents caught in the class rotations of Communist Hungary. From there she went to the well fed secondary status of a refugee in a very kind but pristine Austria. Finally she landed as a welcome immigrant in the US Midwest with parents somewhat let down that the streets were not paved in gold as expected.
Through all that change, Fogarassy learned the basics of communication, get the message across. The lesson has served her well. Whatever race, color, gender, culture or social millieu, Fogarassy engages readily in opportunities for people to be understood. In her view, body language is the least appreciated hope for humankind still to be explored. Her reliance on it has served her well in her entwined personal and double-edged professional life.
A Singular Career
A child born into imposed adventure itches to get out in the world however attached to family. Those early memories also remain drivers throughout the lifetime.
Like many American girls, Fogarassy’s first job was babysitting. That taught her the fun of small collusive indiscretions. Letting kids stay up past bedtime was a bonding adventure. Her second job as a deli sandwich wiz reminded her of how ornery people get when hungry.
As a nurse’s aid while studying science, Fogarassy saw how much more emotional than phyical care patients needed when sick. That view was later affirmed by the holistic approach that Indian and Pakistani medics brought to their work in Somalia. Finally as a newly minted college graduate with a degree in Comparative Literature, Fogarassy took her first real job as an assembly line worker. There she learned to appreciate the value of workplace bonding when performing robotic routines.
The mind-numbing tedium of factory work was little different from the office work with which Fogarassy began her New York career. A posh Park Avenue firm hired the unprepared novice because of her Midwestern common sense. A quick learn, she advanced quickly but the dehumanization was worse than in the factory. The point here was not the work but to “look busy.” It was a foreshadowing of the digital age and Fogarassy was glad to flee into a dream job at Scholastic Magazines.
As editor of an arts magazine plus communications textbooks, Fogarassy completed her personal take on the relationship between ideas and words. With three complex languages learned in one formative year, she focused on getting across an idea. As an editor, she fit the idea to suit the need.
College thesis papers called for elaboration, commercial text called for succinctness. For Fogarassy, the verbal gymnastics were a tailor-made career worth every cent of the salary cut she’s already taken for a creative job in place of a pragmatic role to fill. Decades later, she’s still mulling the decision with no more regrets than any other decision she’s made.
Fogarassy wrote her first stories while working as an editor of research papers at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Her first submission got a cherished hand written “try us again” from the venerated New Yorker. Decades passed before she received another such invite from that magazine. By then, she had files full of rejections, a healthy show of published work and a well-rounded career that has served her transition into a radically new digital industry.
As Fogarassy plied her craft and perfected her skill wi the writing process, she gathered her material from the real life working world. An On Paper writing cooperative that she c-founded with other artists provided an entry into a range of New York’s most prestgious offices and diversified venues.
Fogarassy’s two-year stint at Scholastic showed her the glamor of art and its power as an educational tool. Her two-year stint at Sloan-Kettering taught her to simplify and render comprehensible the complex scientific findings written up by foreign researchers. break down complex science written up by foreign researchers. Then at the industrial design firm of Robert Gersin Associates, she learned to manage the high pressure stresses of an elite New York marketing environment.
The design firm produced campaigns encompassing all aspects of marketing from package design to point-of-sale displays. Fogarassy wrote project proposals and reports for clients such as the government of Jamaica promoting touism by way of marketing native specialty products such as Scotch Bonnet pepper salsa. With the combined use of New York local and Jamaican on-site talents and resources, coordination was a key component of the project. Deadlines entailed all-nighters filled with snapping tempers. In the small office, the effort was offset by the reward of celebratory perks like lavish luncheons on less stressed days.
No such levity lightened the unmitigated stress of work at the Trump Organization. On a personal recommendation from her work at the industrial design firm, Fogarassy was hired to set up a filing system for the Trump Organization papers still in cardboard files in the new Trump Tower in the early 1980’s. The newly finished 26th floor was mirror-walled to afford a view of his holdings to potentate Donald. The project itself was a masterclass in convolution, made more absurd by the covert advice that the show files didn’t matter, the real files were elsewhere. To this day, Fogarassy considers it a badge of honor that Donald himself fired her for charging too much while she honored the loyalty of co-workers by finding a replacement to finish the project, which freed her for another dream job with child psychiatrist Margaret Mahler, again coming by way of a personal recommendation about compatibility.
Fogarassy’s first published novel was inspired by her association with fellow Hungarian-American Mahler. Initially hired to write Mahler’s biography. Fogarassy was drawn into a personal relationship based on near veneration of each other. The eminent analyst esteemed by the staid psychonalytic community was puzzled by Fogarassy’s dedication to an art that offered such little recognition. Common understanding was achieved during long silent periods of communing wordlessly in the company of each other.
Mahler was among the many clients with whom the personal crossed paths with the professional in life. Another of those was Russian-America Igor Koulichkov, a second mortgage lender who became her unwitting mentor combining work, career an real life necessity. Igor loved showing off his “humanitarian” to frough and tumble associates, especiallyin association with her work at the UN. The relationship worked on the unstated mutual understanding that a romantic entanglement would be the kiss of death for peaceful coexistence. As a savvy New York woman with a marital heartbreak already under her belt, Fogarassy drew a line between career and personal entanglement with more success in some cases than others through a series of compelling projects and civic actions.
Work with the environmentalist Pine Barrens Association in Long Island NY confirmed the tactic Fogarassy had met at the Trump Organization. Ambitious and morally lax real estate developers took the opportunity of long environmental reviews to make a fait accompli score. As the short-staffed government and environmental staff pushed through the paperwork, forests were felled and foundations laid. A small fine took little from the windfall.
In contrast to the cool sang froid of land gougers, the high stress of personal self-investment was palpable in the high fashion world where Fogarassy wrote pr and ad copy. The pressure was even tighter in Wall Street firms mid-town day-trader offices. Advocacy work for the New York library provided relief, as did ad work for banks and volunteering for political campaigns. Throughout all this, Fogarassy was among the few jury duty enthusiasts who benefitted from the wealth of information to be gained from the system on both a personal and professional level. That same satisfying sense of being part of one’s community came through For Fogarassy while working for the US Census Bureau on a decennial count held every ten years.
The US Census Bureau works year round on population studies but gathering a countrywide force to count 40 million people in athe course of a single year is a testament to human ingenuity within the necessary constraints of bureaucracy in dealing with that many people. The ingenuity came in the form of getting a job done regardless of how ridiculous the instructions or allowances. In Fogarassy’s view, that is the ingenuity Ukraine now uses in its defense against Russian aggression. It it the ingenuity that all nations must adopt in making use of the United Nations in the purpose for which it was meant. An example shows the point.
The motley rookies hired en masse to conduct door-to-door counts were led by an equally green local supervisor. Instructions from Washington mandated a date for receipt of first returns However, a printing glitch prevented distribution of formd to be filled
& submitted to Washington. The local supervisor could only parrot instructions from above. It rested on local enumerators to brain-storm and come up with the solution to gather the data and then wait for forms to arrive, be filled and submitted.
A retelling of that dynamic proved to be Fogarassy’s entrance to the United Nations. “If you can deal with the US bureaucracy, you can deal with the UN,” the Polish diplomat said. The comment foreshadowed a similar bit of advice an Indian colleague offered during a tough time on the UN compound in Somalia. “All bureaucracies are bad,” Singh said. “The UN is the biggest of them all.”
Shortcutting bureaucracy while staying within legal limits has become a hallmark of Fogarassy’s view about a workable world. Like tyrants, established bureacracies look to maintain control within their mandates. Democratic bureaucracies seek to promote equality within an entrenched system based on past unfairness. Autocratic bureaucracies seek to impress all within their purview with the control being exerted on them. In short, democratic red tape promotes progress by keeping order. Tyrannical red tape suppresses initiative.
Fogarassy saw this principle in action during her first return to Hungary ater the family’s flight in 1956. In the early ’70’s still 20 years before the Iron Curtain came dow, she crossed through three three rows of razor wire cordoned checkpoints manned by machine gunners. She paid a fee to get acceptance of a visa photo that was unacceptable at one checkpoint. On another return trip, she spent an entire day getting a one-day extension for an expiring visa. There were no lines in waiting rooms to account for delays. The senseless wait was the only point.
By contrast, the bureaucracy of the US Census Bureau or the UN system was more laughable than intimidating. To savvy New Yorker Fogarassy the creative writer recruited by the UN to help make peace in Somalia, the US/UN bureacracies were workable. But patience needed to deal with them was small potaoes compared to that needed for dealing with the tech of the digital age in a global world. To meet that challenge in Fogarassy’s view, the missing long-angle lens on where humanity stands now is vital to restore.
The young digital age makes all things seem possible right now with no consequence. Virtual reality even feels real but it doesn’t have the emotional range that real experience incorporates into the system that makes up a human. Real experience matters and it is passed on most accurately across generations by recorded texts.
As a child of the heroic 1956 Hungarian revolution against the Soviet Russians, Fogarassy has been led by life and career to dig for the truth made knowable by a common sense based on a logical sequnce of mental discoveries until the aha sensation kicks in. When the process is foiled by reality, the search is tabled until the next opportunity presents to continue the journey. Fogarassy’s eventful life is replete with examples of this process in real time action.
Frank Wetzel was a New Yorker who died in a North Carolia prison at the age of 80+ after serving the longest sentence in the state’s history. He was a Depression-era petty criminal who was caught in state-trooper cross-fire over marital infidelities. Wetzel was convicted by the 1050’s press in an age before Miranda protections. His parole petitions sponsored by numerous religious leaders were routinely denied due to a trooper lobby strong enough to sway the parole board. Fogarassy’s involvement with the Wetzel case now spans decades. Wetzel has died but his story lives on to be told as an important chapter in American history related to race relations, policing and the role of the media in criminal justice.
The situation in Hungary has been another long range focus for Hungarian-American Fogarassy, encapsulated by Plot 301 in the New Public Cemetery of Budapest. In her world view it is a morality lesson for all the global world.
Plot 301 in the Budapest cemetery is dedicated to the “martyrs” of the 1956 Revolution. These rebels against tyranny were executed in 1958 for taking part in the revolt. They were “rehabilitated” in 1989 when the Iron Curtain fell just two years before the Soviet Union collapsed. Those ugly vagaries of government are painfully evident for Fogarassy in Ukraine’s refusal to bend into servitude under a materially forceful power. For writer Fogarassy who cherishes the human experience in even in its most painful aspects, the world has no choice now but to pool its human common sense beneath all its cultural differences.
The obvious no-brainer solution to the world’s current conflicts is to meet at the United Nations common table as a forum for discussion. But everybody knows by experience how difficult it can be to get two people to agree on what to have for dinner, if there is a choice. For near-200 countries to agree enough to bewiiling to meet, alliances must be formed from the bottom up based on common adherence to principles held up as an ideal. In plain, a workable world begins with good peple who can stomach bureaucracy without falling to the temptation of abusing its many tempting loopholes.
Bureaucracy is a fact of life for any grouping larger than a family gathering or a nomadic clan depending on the social structure. ut whether it works for or against the greater common good depends on the individuals involved, most often in conflict with each other. As in human evolution itself, the fittest survive. As Ukraine is now showing the world through its democratic values of courage, integrity, dedication to law and building of alliances, the internationalist approach to globalization works.
As Fogarassy has shown in books, the United Nations is the ultimate mechanism for a workable world. However, like much of the world today, the UN is dysfctional. That’s because it is made up of fallible people working toward an ideal with a large span between the two that is the ongoing task of humans to bridge.
In other words, nobody’s perfect. Everybody either promotes perfection, stands in the way or downright opposes it. Fogarassy has met them all during her work with the United Nations. She has also seen how the stodgy UN is capable of adapting with the right people up and down the vast system.
.The UN was set up after the Second World War to prevent another such disastrous conflict. Championed by the US and backed by the victors of the War, it has remained a prisoner to the national priorities of the victorious five, the US, UK, France, Russia and China. That monopoly on power has stymied a rapidly changing world now numbering near-200 countries., many of them emerging economies due to UN Funds, Programmes, Agencies and Organization that receive little recognition in the current global world.
Within that complex structure that touches on every aspect of the global world from economic development to refugee relocation due to climate change resulting from industrialization, Fogarassy has served as a Press Officer , Organizer and writer at UN Headquarter in New York. Her fields of specialty centered on Human Rights and Internation Law.
Overseas, Fogarassy served in Somalia as Editor-in-Chief of a Weekly newsletter distributed around the worl to promote the formation of a government for the country that had fallen into anarchy. While that goal remains to be achieved some 30 years later, the road signs to success have been set out and need only to be actuated. .
Hard as it is to accept in a fast-paced technological world where everything is expected to happen with the push of a button, human endeavors are fraught with complications that can take decades and even centuries to resolve. An example is the case of case of Frank Wetzel who came to Fogarassy’s attention 30 years ago and is still on-going despite the fact that the victim died nearly 20 years ago.
Frank Wetzel wss a New Yorker with a shady past stemming from the Great Depression who got caught in a North Carolina intrigue involving the shooting death of two State Troopers. He was sentenced to life imprisonment despite overwhelming evidence that he was convicted by the emerging media of the 1950’s even before his arrest. He died in prison but interest in the circumstances of his case continues.
Fogarassy’s eclectic interests in the experience of life have ranged from enthusiastic Jury Duty service to Election campaigning. Among others, she served for a year and a half on a Grand Jury and delivered Soapbox Speeches for the 1992 Clinton presidential run. In that connection, she also worked for the International Democratic Committee and introduced UN associates to the joyous clamor of a US presidential convention.
Other civically oriented projects included promotional work for the New York Long Island Pine Barrens environmental organization, a citizens response to a Mayoral call by David Dinkins and a campaign to promote women’ participation in the male-dominated Manhattan shoe repair trade until the trade itself became all but obsolete.
On the entertainment. leisure and broadening of experience side, Fogarassy co-wrote screenplays, scripted a travelogue on China. wrote educational articles, calendar copy and fashion reviews in addition to self-help tips and guides on safety and design.
In a nutshell, Fogarassy’s broad experience in communication about life comes down to key guiding factors. The basic one is the intention to do good, to improve a challenging situation based on existing criteria. The second is developing the patience needed for a long-range perspective.
Ideas and projects are vital but selling them is equally important and much more demanding. Coercion, fraud and deception may work short-term, but enduring impact comes only through the painstaking, stunning insight exposed when humans interact.