Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I have finished filling out my tax forms, am awaiting on a paper from my school detailing my pay structure, and plan to mail out my very first tax-filing on Thursday. And may I say? Agh!

I don't know what is wrong with me this week, but something is off. I'm stressed, I'm snippy, I'm not sleeping well. I think I definitely need to get out of town for awhile and chill. Happily, we're heading for Berlin Thursday night for Easter and the long weekend. We're taking the night train. I love trains... they are still exotic to me, especially the ones with beds in them.

You know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are?
Anchor chains, plane motors, and train whistles.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hungarian elections

Ok, Hungarians. I know you are out there reading this blog. Occasionally you comment, but now I am asking you to comment. Tell me about your elections that are going on right now. What are the parties? What do they stand for? Who are you supporting, and why? Who are you against, and why? I'm very curious and I can't find much anything in English besides wikipedia articles, which I don't much trust.

Legyetek udvariasok is, legyetek szĂ­vesek!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring, thoughts on a future goodbye, and a recent one too

Spring came today. Seriously. Yesterday it was cold and windy, and this morning the sun was shining, despite the chill in the air. I decided to chance it and rode Tiffany into work, which wound up being a great decision, because the afternoon was beautiful. Wearing only a cardigan for warmth, riding leisurely along the gorgeous west bank of the Danube, watching puffy white clouds reflecting in the sparkly water... it was perfect. It's amazing how much the weather can affect my mood, as well as the opportunity to finally get a bit of exercise!

Spring, however, also makes me very nervous. It reminds me that April 9th is coming closer and closer, when I will finally know my future. It also reminds me that after spring comes summer, and with summer comes the closing of this chapter of my life. I suspect that that will not be the end of my time in Hungary, but it will certainly be a big end nevertheless. I will be back to America to actually be there for awhile, and then with any luck I'll be living in Spain. Which is something I've wanted for years and years, but also something very scary and new. Doing this masters will be a really intense experience for sure, what with the working full time while studying thing. I'm really excited for it. I'm also terrified to leave Hungary.

The thought of leaving my students actually makes me cry. I only have 60 more school days. I know that they will barely even notice I'm gone come September, because part of the joy of little kids is how resilient they are. They'll have a new native speaker teacher, and hopefully that person will be a good teacher and a good person and love the kids, and then the kids will love them. These kids though... man. They've made me such a better person, so much happier, positive, and trusting than I was when I came here. I came to Hungary so angry, so bitter after my time in California. I'm sitting here now, a bit melancholy at the moment, but generally so full of... I don't know. It sounds corny to say peace, and yet that's what it is.

Hungarian, this godawful language that used to cause me such stress, flows out of my mouth. It's still not very good, actually, but I can communicate almost anything I want to. And I like it. I've even started joking a bit. I find the language funny in a slightly awkward way... the way the words work together to form new words always makes me laugh. And I'll miss this weird little language. The culture, of course, is just starting to sort of make sense to me. I know how to do things now, and my life here is starting to be so easy. I still get frustrated sometimes, because oftentimes the natural Hungarian reaction to something, or how they go about doing something, just strikes me a stupid. But I no longer really get stressed, or take it personally, I just sort of shrug and say... well, it's Hungary. Most of the time.

Leaving my rat is going to just kill me. Not getting to tease Balint everyday is going to just kill me.

My life here in Hungary makes sense to me. It's a clean, happy, fulfilling life where I am constantly entertained and amazed and frustrated just enough. It's also starting to make sense in a more day-to-day way. I can buy stuff, find stuff, ask for directions. I've found almost all the food stuffs I need, and every sort of restaurant I missed. I'm even giving Spanish lessons. My life is awesome... time to leave. Sigh.

Bearing in mind that I have such a short time left in Hungary, I've decided to make a real effort to really make it a fantastic time. To that end, I'm spending more time outside. I'm carrying my camera around with me. I've recommitted myself to lesson planning and creating really awesome lessons for the kiddies. I'm speaking more Hungarian at work. I'm trying really really hard to not stress out about the cleanliness of my flat too much, but go get a glass of wine instead. I will go to more museums and monuments and parks and spend less time watching streaming TV.

And I've pretty much cut a friend out of my life. Which is the recent goodbye up there. Now, I don't have many good friends here in Hungary. I have Lyla, and I have Balint and Magda, and even Anna and Bill. Beyond that, I have colleagues who I am friendly with, and occasionally will hang with, and some other foreign teachers scattered throughout the country, who are glorious individuals but not in Budapest. And this person I considered to be a good friend, but I realized recently that this person doesn't actually respect me: they discount my feelings, they don't help me adjust to life in Hungary despite being Hungarian, and they only agree to see me on their terms. It was stressful, and it hurt me, and I constantly felt like I was less when I was around them. Like they weren't really interested in knowing ME or being MY friend, but rather in having someone to fill this need that they have... and I realized I don't need it. So I'm done with that. And that rips my heart out, because I also don't believe that this person meant to hurt me, but since I've started explaining how they hurt me they've continued doing the same things, and in the end I think it's for the best.

So I'm really sad about that, but also proud of myself for actually saying "no," for actually looking out for my feelings and emotional well-being above those of others. So I guess I can thank that friend for that, at least.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Toenail thief

I went to bed last night, blissfully unaware of my toenails. I woke up this morning with one toe all bloody, and a large section of the toenail ripped off. Toenail thief? You suck.

So I've spent the evening consoling myself with enchiladas and a mini-marathon of the live-action Tick series. Batmanuel makes me giggle. As I'm sure you can guess by looking at the picture, he is a really inappropriate character. If any of you find yourself the victim of a toenail robbery or other similar misfortune, I can safely recommend this series to you; 9 little 23-minutes episodes in length, it is surreal and hysterical. The tragic thing is that it took me until about the 4th episode to figure out that Batmanuel is a play on Batman. I just figured he was a Hispanic fellow dressed as a bat. Oops.

Friday, March 5, 2010


I have been ordered to relax and heal. And healing I most certainly am... I ate oatmeal today! I also ate soup, and was rewarded with only moderate nausea after both. I may still be sleeping 10 hours, topped with 4 hour naps, and be a little loopy and strange, but I am definitely healing. I was too queasy to head across town for my Hungarian lesson today, but did manage to teach a private lesson, which was totally disjointed and weird, but luckily to an old student who I think found my inability to function oddly charming.

Relaxing, on the other hand, is proving a lot more difficult. I have taught Bencelita to chase things. I did some Hungarian homework. I am totally up-to-date on all possible theories regarding Lost's latest developments. I cooked said soup. I downloaded some movies. I read a book. I've started writing my much-dreamed-about cookbook. I edited a bunch of photos. I've done an insane amount of general putzing around. Yet I am twitchy, and itchy to get back to my life, to see people and do some contributing to society.

And... now what do I do? Monday is still a long way away, even if tomorrow I do have the great excitement of going back to the doctor, this time with the ability to function, and even a private lesson to look forward to tomorrow. I don't know how much more relaxing I can handle.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

London, in photos (I kill your bandwidth, bwahaha)

So we arrived to London on Friday night after taking the bus in from Luton airport, Balint giggling giddily the whole time and Lyla doing her very best to remain patient. We got a bit lost in Victoria station and finally found ourselves in the proper line to purchase underground tickets and were off to our friend Alfie's home south of the river. When we arrived, he, in true English fashion, was already at the pub, so we dropped our bags and joined him and his friends there for some rugby and ale (aaalllleeee!!) before going back to his flat for a lovely cheese plate and some toast. Classy kid.

The next morning it was up for the most epic day of sightseeing we have ever embarked upon, which will be detailed in pictures. According to the internet, we walked over 10 miles on Saturday (16 km for my Euro friends), stopping to eat, gawk, and take photos.

Our day started on a double-decker bus into town (up top and up front, naturally) and we got off at the houses of Parliament. Which is very big, very elaborate, and, even in late February, very full of people.

It is also long.

I don't know that I have eyes in this picture, but regardless, here I am in front of Parliament.

Big Ben peeks up over the top of the building.

Westminster Abbey is beautiful, craggy, and covered in funny looking statues and gargoyles (the fact that I can now spell that without effort is a sign I've been in Europe a good while, I guess), while maintaining just the right air of disrepair to satisfy my picture-taking efforts. The nearby St. Margaret's Church (formerly the official church of Parliament) was open to visitors, and we wandered in, literally walking on some very famous Englishpeople, and admired the inside for while.

Heading up to Buckingham Palace, we passed a park full of giant, fat, happy and tame city gray squirrels. They were eating peanuts out of people's hands and seemed especially attached to this older fellow, whom we chatted with for awhile. There were also pretty jays that would swoop down and snatch food from people's hands, as well as wood doves that could swallow entire shelled peanuts in a single gulp. It was like the pigeon version of Jaws. I kept expecting them to choke, but they did not.

We happened to wander up in time to see the changing of the guard, complete with giant hats, and much pomp and circumstance. It was also complete with about a MILLION people. I cannot even imagine how it looks in August.

the palace, ta

These are military buildings. I like that the old brick building, all covered with menacing dead ivy, goes right into the pretty red building.

We also saw the horse guards.

Just some interesting building tops, with a double-decker whizzing by.

Balint got mauled by a lion in Trafalgar square (I think he managed to escape)...

There were also some fountains in Trafalgar.

Some cool roof-top decorations.

St. Paul's Cathedral poking it's head from around the corner. Unfortunately, there was no way to get a full-on photo that didn't also involve being hit by a car.

Balint wanted to go up to the dome, and hemmed and hawed until Lyla and I convinced him to go up, and to take my camera. He took this very cool picture from up there and came down all bouncy. Lyla and I opted to stay on the ground and eat amazing macaroons. Mmm.

We walked a bit more, saw some more cool little streets, and then came to the river walk, where we admired the Tower Bridge for a good long while.

We also walked around the outside of the tower itself, but it's frankly sort of ugly. So no photos of it here! Instead, me and Lyla being cute.

On the bridge.

The strange city hall building.

A stream running through the town where we stopped to use the bathroom and I almost got locked in during the automatic cleaning process, which would have been very sad indeed.

The London Bridge itself is quite boring, but the sign is cool.

I just loved this mantis statue fellow.

A church on the south side of the river. A fun angle. Shush about the artsy photos, Dad.

Sir Francis Drake's boat (a replica, where kids can have parties), floating in a little harbor.

A few remaining pieces of an old church.

A colorful bridge.

The rebuilt Globe Theater, where they apparently still often follow Shakespeare's tradition of an all-male cast and floor standing areas.

Just a nice view across the river.

The sun started to set.

We spotted Parliament in the distance. This was exciting because 1. it was beautiful 2. our tour was almost complete and soon we would be eating pub food!


The London Eye, which is very cool and absurdly pricey.

(Just shut up.)

I finally get a photo with Balint after a year-and-a-half of chilling with him all day, every day at work.

A cool photo, with the light helping me out considerably.

So then it was off to Oxford Circus to meet our friend Dorota and her boyfriend Liam for some drinks in Soho. First we stopped at a pub and got the not-stereotypical-at-all and damn delicious dishes of fish and chips and bangers and mash. Yum! And ale. More ale. Can you tell I miss ale? Then we pushed through the hoardes of people and met our friends, with whom we had a lovely time. We woke up early the next morning to cook some breakfast for Alfie to thank him for having us, chatted a bit, and then caught the tube in to catch the bus to catch the plane home.

And on the way out, we saw a giant horse's head. Strange.

All in all it was a very enjoyable weekend, if somewhat exhausting. It was especially fun to hear English everywhere, read English signs, make English jokes, think in English, slur off in English... just English everywhere. My brain became a bit less confused about what language it should be in for sure! It was also quite nice for my psyche to see all the diversity of London running about being totally normal after so long in lily-white (or else SCARY!) Hungary, and to enjoy that in the food available, the accents heard, the music playing.

Finally, it was damn adorable to see someone be introduced to traveling and just freak out at all the difference from their normal world. It really reinforced to me how much we are a messy amalgam of all the different things we've experienced, and how different we would all be if we had never experienced those things. It really made me glad to be in the situation I am in, to be traveling and doing all these crazy irresponsible things. Beyond that, it made me appreciate my nomadic upbringing by parents who love ethnic food. I think this life is making me a much better person. If nothing else, I'm really enjoying the ride, and it was quite fun to take a newbie along on that ride for a little while.

On the other hand, I felt a little bit sad. Nothing really freaks me out like that anymore. What am I going to have to do next... move to Africa? Hike through SE Asia? Or maybe just worry a bit less about being cool and just freak the hell out at little amazing things. Step away from the phone mom... you don't have to worry about me doing it today. I have the flu, remember?

Bencelita falling asleep/the flu

Yes, I have chosen to begin this blog with a photo series of my pet rat falling asleep. Why? Well, it's damn cute, for one. For two, I have nothing much else to comment on about my current state of being, for I have caught the flu. Sunday night we got back from the airport and I felt a little off, but figured I was just tired from our whirlwind trip to London. Monday morning I woke up convinced that I was dying. I spent all day Monday being violently ill, shaking, sweating, unable to eat or drink anything without horrible consequences, and generally hating life. My whole life I have thought that the flu was nothing more than a bad cold, and sort of inwardly judged those who got it and whined about it. Suck it up! I thought. I regret those thoughts now, because the flu is just miserable. Miserable.

So yesterday I felt healthy enough to venture outside to the doctors. I went, and right as I walked in I had a flash of heat and nausea, and started sweating and shaking and being all pathetic again. Super. I also lost the ability to speak, like, any Hungarian, and just thrust my little post-it note on which I had written key phrases like "vomit," "sore muscles," and "would really just prefer to die." I am joking about that last one, by the way. So the doctor took my temperature, which was apparently normal, and had me lift my shirt so he could brutally assault my muscles. "Flu blah blah blah blah," he said. At my bewildered look, and stammering about needed a work excuse, he handed me a prescription and said in the slowest Hungarian I've ever heard, "You.... must... come... back... Friday. Then... you... get... work... excuse... crazy... American... girl." He also prescribed that my friends should could delicious soups and teas for me, and swatted me out of the office, shouting, "Jew Har Velcomb!" after me and giggling with his assistant.

So I filled my presription, which is for some good stuff, especially when one has barely managed to eat. And now I'm sitting at home for the rest of the week, trying to figure out what to do with myself.