Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hot Toddy

When feeling under the weather in Central Europe, there are a few accepted solutions.  One is to stay home for work for days and days.  I don't like this option, because it seems rather extreme for a baby head cold.  Plus, I get bored.  Another option is vitamin C tablets.  I do like this option, because I can buy the alkaselzer type ones that you drop into your water, thus turning it into a fizzy orange drink.

Tonight, though, the hot toddy won out.  It's a cool night, my ear is full and my tummy is a bit upset, and there's some stress going on as well.  So:

one bag lemon-ginger tea
one tea holder filled with fennel seed and mint
one smashed clove garlic

Pour hot water over these, and let seep.  Remove the materials and add some honey and lemon juice.  Finish off with a healthy splash of Polish vodka.

My preferred method here is to take my Nyquil with the hot toddy.  And then set two alarms.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Alice Cooper loves Budapest

This is priceless.  Also, Alice Cooper is so... almost cute now, in the old man sort of a way.

Katapult kavezo

I first came here with my Hungarian teacher, way back when I was studying at the Hungarian Language School. We would often see one of our old teachers here, drinking her beers one after the other. I saw her the other night as well, and she was happily getting sloshed at the bar. But now I can speak to her, at least!

Some things change, but most things just stay the same. I love that.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Favorite Memory?

Dad making whirlpools in the pool, and Jackie and I colliding into the center vortex.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


For those of you who don't know, Tiffani (or Tiff, more often) is my bicycle.  And I love her.  She's not much of a bike, really.  I got her used and have since used her hard.  Granted, I did just buy her new tires, lights, and brake and gear lines.  So now she's like new again.  But still.  She has some rust patches and chipped paint, and horrible 90s font writing for which she was named.  But she's just my favorite possession.

Every morning I wake up 20 minutes before I need to leave for work, pull on some sweats, tie my stuff onto Tiff's back rack, and am out the door.  I strap on my helmet and fly down the big old hill I live on.  After a quick journey through the tunnel, I burst out into the sunshine.  One tricky intersection later, I'm on bike path for almost the entire rest of the way to school, cruising north along the Danube.  I travel under the famous chain bridge, then the Orthodox church flashes by on the right.  I have time to enjoy the view of Parliament before Margaret Island blocks it.  And then just a few minutes later, I'm at work.  It takes me 30 minutes instead of the 45 that public transit demands, and I get to be inside my head the whole time.

I get to work steaming and change my clothes, then teach for the day.  At the end of the day, I change back into the sweats, or just ride home in my work clothes.  The trip home is the best, because I'm relaxed and never in a hurry, and as I take the corner around Margaret Island I get to see the greatest view of Budapest: Parliament to the left, the Danube curling away to the left in the center with the Citadel above, and the Castle and Fisherman's Bastion to the right.  It's gorgeous.  Every day, it is beautiful.

I just love biking in Budapest.

Also, Happy Birthday Dad!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Buda Castle Wine Fest

So way back a thousand years ago (people tell me it was only three years ago, but it must have been a thousand, surely), I went to a wine festival up on the Buda Castle with Lyla and had an awesome time at one of my first Hungarian events.  We went back our second year, as well.  This wine festival is a lot of fun, if a bit snobby and expensive.  I always have a great time, though, because you get a bit of extra love as a foreigner, and get to taste lots of delicious wine and food.  Last night's wine festival had the added benefit of taking place on possibly the most gorgeous night of the year.  It was warm, with a cool breeze, and the full moon floated lazily over the castle.  And I along with some new American friends got all emotional about it.  Because Budapest is so gorgeous, and so special, and where else in the world can you sit down on the floor of a castle's courtyard to eat potato pancakes and drink wine?

Kriszta, me, and Anna... notice the neck-pouches for the wine glasses!
beautiful pink over Pest at sunset
the castle and the moon
Parliament is all lit up now, which I love, plus the Chain Bridge.
the castle and the moon, again

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Personality Tests are eerie

So I took a two-question personality test (an enneagram, google it!) and the results are a bit creepy.  Huh.

AY - your Enneagram type is EIGHT (aka "The Challenger").

"I must be strong"
Asserters are direct, self-reliant, self-confident, and protective.

How to Get Along with Me
• Stand up for yourself... and me.
• Be confident, strong, and direct.
• Don't gossip about me or betray my trust.
• Be vulnerable and share your feelings. See and acknowledge my tender, vulnerable side.
• Give me space to be alone.
• Acknowledge the contributions I make, but don't flatter me.
• I often speak in an assertive way. Don't automatically assume it's a personal attack.
• When I scream, curse, and stomp around, try to remember that's just the way I am.

What I Like About Being a EIGHT
• being independent and self-reliant
• being able to take charge and meet challenges head on
• being courageous, straightforward, and honest
• getting all the enjoyment I can out of life
• supporting, empowering, and protecting those close to me
• upholding just causes

What's Hard About Being a EIGHT
• overwhelming people with my bluntness; scaring them away when I don't intend to
• being restless and impatient with others' incompetence
• sticking my neck out for people and receiving no appreciation for it
• never forgetting injuries or injustices
• putting too much pressure on myself
• getting high blood pressure when people don't obey the rules or when things don't go right

EIGHTs as Children Often
• are independent; have an inner strength and a fighting spirit
• are sometimes loners
• seize control so they won't be controlled
• figure out others' weaknesses
• attack verbally or physically when provoked
• take charge in the family because they perceive themselves as the strongest, or grow up in difficult or abusive surroundings

EIGHTs as Parents
• are often loyal, caring, involved, and devoted
• are sometimes overprotective
• can be demanding, controlling, and rigid

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Out of the mouths of babes

I went to a jazz concert this evening with my flatmate, Anna, who is a stealth Hungarian (most people guess she is Canadian or American, since she lived in the States for many years, but she is actually Hungarian).  Some of her second cousins were there as well, two boys of ten and twelve years old, and I wound up chatting with them at the end of the evening.  One of them asked me a question, and the following exchange took place (in Hungarian, naturally):

Me: I'm not sure.  I don't understand everything.
Boy: You don't understand everything in Hungarian?!
Me: Well, I'm not Hungarian.
Boy: But how can you LIVE when you don't understand everything?!?!

Seriously, he was just so shocked and appalled at the whole concept.  I tried to explain that you just kind of get used to it, but the concept was just too foreign to him.  I guess I could have told him that I actually live quite easily.  That being able to tune out side conversations and bus noise makes my life happier.  That sometimes the food, or whatever else, I order winds up being not exactly what I expected, but that I've learned not to be picky, and was never really that picky anyway, and have thus discovered new things to love.  That people generally approach any conversation they have with me with an attitude of "Oh, she's so cute," which tends to lead to my own benefit.  That sometimes I can get out of trouble by saying, "I'm so sorry.  I didn't understand."  That I have to be more careful with my words.  That it makes me really listen to the people that talk to me: stop what I'm doing, look them in the face, and listen.  That I learn new things each and every day, and never cease to be fascinated and infatuated with this weird, gorgeous little language.

Instead I just laughed and said, "Ahh, it's not so bad!"  And he boggled at me.  Kids!

Friday, September 2, 2011

First day teaching in the upper school...

This is my fifth year teaching, and yet I still feel nervous every year on the first day.  In fact, I always have the same dream: that my students turn into octopi and eat me.  Yeah, I don't get it either.

Yesterday was the opening ceremony, and then I went up to my "homeroom" class.  So, I'm not their homeroom teacher, nor am I their official assistant homeroom teacher.  I am their main English teacher, though, and their "Class Year Leader."  So.  I went up and told them the new expectations for the year and it went fine.

Today was the first day teaching, and I made a mistake in the Geography lesson.  Context: the first two weeks of Geography is actually like Geology.  And when the students said one type of mountains were older than the other, and they were wrong, I was all like "Yeah!" until my Hungarian partner teacher essentially said "Wa wa." And I was embarrassed.  That sucks!  What an awful thing to do in one's first lesson with a class.

But then I had to teach a Spanish lesson at the last second, and I just winged it, and it went beautifully.  And I felt better about myself again.

Happy New Year!  For me, at least, the new year starting in September is always the one that really counts.  It probably doesn't hurt that it falls so near to my birthday!