Sunday, June 28, 2009
"And the Austria-Hungarian Empire, famous for f*** all!! Yes, all they did was slowly collapse like a flan in a cupboard."
Hee. I heard this while waiting for my parents in the airport, and almost died of laughter. Shush. You know I love you guys.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
At my school's closing ceremony yesterday, there were rhythmic gymnastics demonstrations, cute little high school break dancers, and a man who could juggle a football for hours in interesting ways. And I giggled through them all, giddy with the beautiful blue sky, the knowledge of being cute in my dress, the sun on my cheeks, and relief over this week working out, well, exactly as I could have planned it. A colleague asked why I was laughing, and I answered, "Every day there is something new here. Every day I see or experience or do something new."
At the beginning of the ceremony, as the music swelled for Himnusz and I stopped talking and stood up straight, I thought about a lot of funny little things. That I know most of the words to that nationalistic dirge. That I'm starting to consider it pretty. That sometimes I miss the uplifting strains of American hymns, which are certainly much more optimistic. That less than 10 months ago, when I first had that song, I had no idea what it was, what was going on, what I was doing- while now, I can do practically anything I need to do. After the ceremony I wandered the school, visiting all the teachers that have actually helped me so much, giving the two kisses, and wishing a happy summer vacation. And I smiled that I have had a job that I love so much.
I've been lost for most of my time here. Literally, when street signs fail me, and nobody will give me directions. Or when they do give directions and I'm too proud to admit I didn't understand them! And figuratively, when I discover when walking into the staff room that the day's schedule has changed, was changed two weeks ago, but I was never told and have to make up a new plan right now. Or when I plan a great lesson, and simply can't explain it to the children in English. Or on the rare occasions when I find someone I simply cannot communicate with. Or when I need something very specific, and have to spend a lot of prep time planning, asking for words, printing pictures off the internet.
And yet, I feel myself. I feel my doubts, my pride, my successes and failures, my anger, and my love more clearly than I have in a long, long time. If ever. I feel myself here, and I grow and change and become new everytime I do something new.
I was looking for a bus with Balint the other day after he helped us out at the immigration office. As we wandered up the street, he asked if I knew where we were going. All I could say was, "Well, I know where I am." And sure enough, we soon found the bus.
Tomorrow my parents come, and they meet this funny little place that I love so much. I can't wait.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
And that, I suppose, is as good a 100th post as anything else could be. Thanks for reading over the past ten months! :)
Monday, June 15, 2009
Generally, though, the experience is lovely. The breeze, the speed, the smog burning my lungs... well, maybe not the last one...
Today was my last day with the kiddies for the school year. I mostly hung out with 1B and just sort of played games, colored, whatever. It was nice. They are most definitely my favorite class, just all sweethearts and general joys to be around. They were also my very first lesson way back in September (or was it nine years ago...?) so it was a nice bookend to the school year.
I will be sort of working this week, just darting in for three hours every morning to "finish." I'm already finished with everything I personally have to do, after last week's sort-of-work week, but I'm sure I'll find people who need help taking things off the wall. Or some such thing.
As of Wednesday we will be moving all our stuff to the new flat. I also have a nice visit to immigration to look forward to, as I renew my residence permit. So all together it will be a really crazy week.
I spent all day yesterday laying on Margit Island with Lyla, playing games. I finally got her to play cards! Then Mate, his lovely friend Dori, and some others showed up, and we continued to play and relax in the sun. It was truly lovely, and, I think, just what I needed to be ready for this insanity of a week!
My family arrives here in Budapest on Sunday and I am very excited to have them, to see them, and to show them my new home, my new me. At the same time it is so strange. I have been looking forward to their visit for so long. And it's finally here!? Time is funny. I want to catch it in a bottle.
I think my goal for this week will be to actually live it, despite the craziness. I hope to also let some people know that I will really, genuinely miss seeing their face every day over the summer. I'm really lucky to have these people. I need to remember that I'm not too cool to tell them so.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
On the subject of the Four Dragons Market, it's a really cool place. Inside. Outside it is a little bit scary, as there was a man wearing sunglasses clearly checking who went in. Next to him a large sign illustrated what was not allowed inside: smoking, cameras, dogs, or guns. Yay. Inside, though, were several clothes stands and in the back: food. Exotic produce, sauces, and spices. And several little stands in the back selling delicious food. I had noodles with meat and veggies with a delicious broth, which I made a complete disaster of with my chopsticks! I also tried chiled chicken feet, which were very tasty, if a little interesting at first. Anyway, it was a great lunch experience, and I was very happy to have had it, and very warmed at the hospitality of these two for helping some crazy girl who writes about her life on the internet.
As for the rest of the post, if you are very squeamish, maybe don't read it? I mean, it's safe for work or whatever, but... I don't know. Fair warning.
So this evening Lyla and I finally bit the bullet and headed to the gynecologist. Agi was going as well, so we felt pretty confident having a Hungarian with us, which wound up being a very good thing, because of course there were problems with the paperwork. Paperwork aside, though, this was my single best medical visit, ever, as a woman. The doctor was kind and personable. He listened carefully to my concerns and actually acted accordingly. The whole thing was treated as such a normal thing, without any of the shame that so often happens in America. No sitting awkwardly on a table in a paper gown waiting forever for the doctor, for example. I just went in when the doctor was ready for me, took off my clothes, and was examined. No stirrups, just shelves to rest my feet on. It was so much more comfortable and normal feeling, the whole thing, than anything in America.
Coolest of all though, instead of painfully poking around my stomach from the inside and out to examine my uterus and ovaries, they did an ultrasound. The doctor arranged the little screen so I could watch what was going on. I saw my ovaries, and then, suddenly, my uterus popped onto the screen, just the same shape as I'd seen it illustrated in books. And while I always knew this thing was inside of me, I actually gasped out loud at seeing it. I was just fascinated with the whole thing, with this, I don't know, capacity within myself. He printed off a picture of it for me, so I could take it with me. I'm thinking maybe I will put it on my closet door. How marvelous to be a woman.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
2C pulls Heni, aka Tammy, back and forth as the king and queen attempt to press her into jam-making slavery.
A Hungarian piece that I didn't fully understand, about a man who finds treasure and so is inspired to tie fish onto trees and thus trick his wife?
Monday, June 8, 2009
Intrigued, I darted down to grab the key, and opened up the room to find an otherwise umarked DVD with, literally, my name on it. I figured it contained his favorite cartoon, 2 Stupid Dogs (remember that, Dad?) and popped it in my bag.
But no! It contains obscene amounts of music. Well, "music." :) Such as the theme songs for Duck Tales and Dexter's Lab. Or a theme song about Tamagotchis. Copious amounts of Euro pop/techno of questionable quality. A few songs in honest-to-God Spanglish. (Nothing in Hungarian though, sadly.)
Lyla and I have been listening for a good long time now, cutting bunny ears out of poster board for 1B's performance tomorrow, and giggling nonstop.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
It's crazy how much I love my job. Every day my students make me genuinely laugh, a lot. They also make me want to kill them sometimes, don't get me wrong. But teaching here, getting to develop real relationships with these tiny individuals, is such a blessing for me. Every time that I am sad, one of them cheers me up. Really. Every day they run up to me, so happy or so sad or so angry, because when you're seven, well, everything is a huge deal in your life. And they are happy with so little. I've gotten actual shouts of joy because a student really liked a particular tiny sticker. I think they've made me so much younger, so much happier, so much purer. Just being around them, they rub their sparkly spirits onto mine.
I have a very funny story that I have to share. A few weeks ago second grade had a unit on money, so I brought in some dollars, euros, pounds, etc. for them to look at. In one section one of the pounds went missing. So I had all the students write apology letters to Lyla, whose pound it was, for being careless. So Saturday morning Bill calls me at an ungodly hour to tell me a funny story. Apparently on Friday they found the pound while they were cleaning the classroom, and Levi (one of my favorites) basically broke into the staff room to try to sneak it onto my desk, so excited by the whole thing that he lost all his English and just started shouted "Laurene, Laurene!" (It's Lauren's, It's Lauren's!) to poor Scott, who had no idea what was going on. :)
So next week the second graders will be off at school camp, or "forest school" as they call it. Balint will be gone with them, as well as Bill, and just a lot of the school in general. I will be preparing 1B for their end-of-year show (look for a post on 2B and 2C's shows in the next few days) with Edit. I will have 1C all to myself for the week, and plan on basically playing games with them. And in between that, I will be killing just a ton of time and doing some prep work for next year.
Then we will be moving all our stuff from this flat to our new one, and sort of living in limbo between the two. And I'm so excited to have the new place.
I can't imagine next year. I don't want to. I'm very excited by the decisions I've made, and I know they are the right ones. But leaving this place, leaving these people I love (many much more than I really should), and leaving these kids? That already hurts.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Lyla, Briggi, and I. Yes the weather was so bad as to necessitate wooly hats.
Hussars and pretty horses
A scary dude shouting and wielding a sword. They then shot arrows from their horses at a gong held by a nervous-looking teenager.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
"We should totally co-author a blog on this!" I near shouted in the bar, as the regulars gaped at the fact that Americans were out drinking in Zuglo.
So, here is a list. Keep in mind, folks, that this is things we miss, not people. It is not exhaustive, and it includes some whimsical things that we don't actually miss that much. Still. Enjoy.
*American supermarkets. It's not that they don't have supermarkets here. It's the selection. You've all read about the no-lettuce months. Seriously.
*On that note, beloved and easily-accesible foods in America that we cannot freaking find in this country include: edamame, wonton wrappers, udon noodles, frozen potstickers (or potstickers of any kind), generally decent Asian food, inexpensive tasty and omnipresent Italian, canned soup, pre-made pizza dough, fish that isn't breaded or carp, whole-grain bread, ranch dressing, caesar dressing, sushi (yes, it exists, but everyone says it sucks), teriyaki, delis, sandwiches that don't have butter on them, diet coke (coke light is NOT the same), dunkin donuts iced coffee (Lyla chimes: iced coffee, really), nachos (omg el favorito), romaine lettuce, tater tots, bagels, Lyla misses cherry tomatoes but not sushi (yes, we did just bicker about the inclusion of that), dill pickles (but pickles abound), cheese variety (R.I.P., sajt haz).
*Television. In English. Specifically, the food network.
*Lyla's Netflix and DVR.
*a wall separating our beds (so soon!)
*juice that is actually juice
*decent service in restaurants (bar service is actually ok here)
*other people wearing sandals, without stockings
*not having to travel almost an hour to see blockbusters in English
*elevators, clothes dryers, and airconditioning... f*** the environment, man
*organization. My school is still not entirely sure on what date the next school year will start.
*appliances that are younger than I am
*stoves that operate based on temperature, not some mystical and nebulous "gas mark"
*relatively affordable cocktails
On the flip of the coin, things that we really appreciate about Hungary that don't really exist in America.
* Intra- and inter-city public transit
*cheap wine and beer
*doner kebabs and humus bars
*47 varieties of sour cream!
*powdered soup that is surprisingly tasty
*wine drinks, socially acceptable wine drinks. For men, too!
*cheese rolls, pogacsa, and ruccolina
*19 or so different ways to say hello
*seasonal, local vegetables... heart the environment, man
*insanely specialized little mom-and-pop stores
*porta nenis (sweet middle-aged women who open the doors and take care of ill children at schools)
*Delicious Hungarian food: galuska and sheep cheese, paprikas csirke, toltott kaposzta, rantott csirke, rakott krumpli, "frying cheese," porkolt (omg porkolt), sausages, crusty bread (with no nutritional value), the use of prunes in cuisine, easily accessible and cheap duck, delicious tomatoes, 9 varieties of sprouts available year-round, mild white cheeses, hotdogs, langos, sour cream, did I say sour cream? and bacon?
*creativity of swearing. Really, just a lot of creativity of swearing.
Monday, June 1, 2009
And it's June. June! I have two more weeks of school left, and only 4 lessons with my second graders since they will be at camp for the last week of school. In 14 days we will start to move all of our stuff into the new flat. In 20 days, my parents will be here. In 31 days, they will leave again. In 32 days Lyla and I will board a train to Vienna, and then a plane to Tallinn, where we will start our 6-week long journey through the former Eastern bloc.
In only 74 days we will return to Budapest. In 75 days we will attend Sziget Music Festival. In 84 days orientation will start for the new CETPers. In 92 days my second school year in Hungary will begin.
Oh my God.