Sunday, November 21, 2010


There are times when I think everyone has to be a little selfish. Not in an "I don't care about anyone but myself" way but more like "if I don't take care of myself there is no way I can help anyone else." This is why the intention for the first decade of my daily Rosary is for my day, what ever struggles there will be (more often than not... just that I will "get through"), anything special happening, etc. If I don't put my life into God's hands first, how can I offer prayers for anything/anyone else? I know that my classes will suffer if I am cranky from not getting enough sleep. So, I have to be selfish when it comes to spending time with people in the evenings.

Sometimes, it's not easy to tell. There is a situation at one of the English Masses that I'm really struggling with. I've rejoined the choir after singing there five years ago. The "choir" sings every week, they meet an hour (or whenever people show up) before Mass to learn the hymns, of the 6-8 people, two have some musical training (more than being able to read music), two can read music somewhat, and the rest have to learn everything by ear. It's a motley crew to say the least. We just found out that the music director's husband got transferred back to the States. She is leaving before Christmas. That leaves a huge hole in the group. There is no official church leadership, no one who would look for a new director, and no money to pay a new director. If I don't take the position, there won't likely be anyone.

Seems pretty obvious, right? I'm here, have musical training, and therefore am the logical choice to take over. Only, the week before K. announced she was leaving, I had decided that I wanted to explore the possibility of singing with the choir at St. Matyas church. That is a semi-professional group that sings for Sunday Latin Mass at the Coronation Church up at the Buda Castle. Now, I'm stuck. I don't want to be in the new director. Frankly, there is some drama amongst the choir members (people who have absolutely no right trying to exclude others) that I don't want to deal with. Additionally, the accompanist can only be there a couple of weeks a month which means I would be stuck playing (or leading Mass unaccompanied) the rest of the time. My piano skills are poor to say the least and even what I can do isn't appreciated by the choir. When I had to play a few weeks ago, they got on my case because *gasp* I played wrong notes. HELLO! I'm HUMAN. And not a pianist. And I hadn't had access to a piano for four months.

I'm so torn. I feel like I have an obligation to take the position but, at the same time, I would so much rather be singing Schubert's Mass in G at St. Matyas than struggling to teach people to sing some banal OCP ditty by ear. I really wish the two English Masses were blended. It would be on Saturday evenings, either church.. that part doesn't matter, the music from Saturday, the priest from Sunday. Oh well, not going to happen so why dream.

Thoughts? Suggestions? How selfish is too selfish?

Friday, November 19, 2010


Some things are worth waiting for. Tonight's performance of Mozart! would be one of them. I had been wanting to see Dolhai Attila perform since discovering Romeo es Julia four years ago. While, I haven't seen that yet, I finally got to see him as the title role in tonight's musical.

Assorted thoughts:

-- Sets were amazing... so many different scenes, so elaborate. Moving platforms, raising, falling, hanging, circling staircases and floor patterns.
-- Costumes (with an exception -- I'll mention later) were great. More "traditional period" than in Romeo es Julia but not completely traditional.
-- The performers were all good -- particularly liked Baroness, Nannerl, and Leopold (besides Mozart - of course!).
-- The Porcelain Child ... wow. Silent acting plus acrobatics -- really made the story. (The story is told with Mozart as an adult but this child is often with him as a symbol of his child prodigy self)
-- Attila... well, there really isn't much I can say. Some voices can't be done justice on video or audio recordings. With all due respect to the many great tenors I know, I finally saw my favorite perform tonight. All I know is if he was really Mozart, I would fight Josie M., to the death, to win him :) Well.. if he wasn't already married with three little girls, that is.
-- Music - I've heard it before but live is so much better. It's a mixture of classical (Mozart and Mozartean sounding), musical, and rock opera.
-- Staging - all around good. Seamless scene shifts, nice chorus numbers - without seeming contrived, moments between Mozart and the Porcelain Child were particularly good. Mozart's reaction to his father's final rejection was, in my opinion, the most powerful scene. Although the lyrics are asking why his father never loved him for who he was rather than just as a performing monkey, I was reminded of St. Francis by the idea of even giving back his clothes to his father.

Some things I might change...
-- Recast Constanze... clearly, I should be playing opposite Attila (haha... a girl can dream, right?)
-- One distracting costume piece - I realize that as this is a musical, the mikes are necessary. However... if you know the lead is going to mostly strip on stage, wouldn't it make sense to at least make the mike pack flesh colored? That way it would be less absurd than a big white band stretching around his chest. I'd be happy to fix this for them. It might require a couple of fittings to make sure it's perfect though ;-)
-- Super-titles were helpful but weren't synchronized very well.

All in all it was wonderful and I'm sure I'll be seeing many more shows at the Operetta Szinhaz. It was so nice to have something take my mind of the bitterness and defeat that are threatening to take over. Only God could have know what type of week I would have before this and prompt me to make sure I bought a ticket when I did. Between the misery that has been school, the new disaster that the kindy has become, and getting sick, I really, really needed this escape.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Of the various websites which have sprouted up to leave comments about your day or life (FML, MLIA, LGMH) my favorite is GMH - Gives Me Hope. The stories there are short, one line, maybe a paragraph, about things that make the writer believe in the goodness of God, people, life around them. It's a great website to visit if you're feeling down or anytime really. I've often thought of things that I could post... although I never submit them. Here are a few:

A two-and-a-half year old boy helping his little girlfriend (two years old) climb to the top of the "mountain" in the kindergarten yard.

An elderly gentleman who grips the side of the pew to slowly and carefully genuflect when he enters the church.

The BKV officer that lets me through when I'm running down the stairs toward the metro rather than stopping to ask for my pass.

The four-year-old who might be a terror most of the day but will proudly count to 20 and tell you the colors of everything... in English.

A group of middle school students walking into my music class singing the song they were assigned to learn.

A city parish that not only is thriving enough to have 5 daily Masses but also has a Gregorian Chant Choir which sings at one of them every week.

The elementary kid who stops running in the hall when reminded by a teacher... even if it will happen again at the next break.

Bullet holes on buildings left to remind people of the horrors of war and why they should not be repeated.

The improbability of having a job I enjoy in a city I love.

Little everyday victories that prove my Hungarian is improving.

My friends who listen to me complain and worry and then offer support and understanding ... from thousands of miles away.

Perspective on how much worse things can always be.


My sister who randomly showed up in Budapest for the day yesterday... an ~8 hour trip - one way - to see me :-)

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Sometimes I wonder where I'm going... and if it's the right direction. Before getting this job offer in the spring, I had no idea what I was going to do. I was rejected from every graduate program I applied for. I wasn't sure how much a part of my life I wanted music to be. I knew I couldn't stay in Greensburg or move back to Steubenville but didn't know where I should go. All types of ideas were floating around in my brain, some more considered than others. Going back to school somewhere else and getting my masters (or a second bachelors) in theology or history was an idea that just didn't fly. Dealing with college freshman again wasn't something I wanted to do nor was paying a ridiculous amount of money for a degree which would be hardly more useful than the Sacred Music and Voice Performance ones I was finishing. I contemplated moving to another city and getting a "crap" job at McDonalds or Walmart while I explored the musical opportunities there. The problem with that option was needing a job before I moved somewhere and not being able to apply to those places long distance. After requesting information and considering, I had two very positive phone interviews with an admissions counselor at a cooking school in Illinois. Their baking and pastry diploma only takes a year and would give me a realistic and reliable career while still incorporating some creativity. In the end, it didn't matter because I got this job teaching in Budapest.

In general, I'm very happy where I am. My job is steady, full time, salaried, in a city I love, and somewhat related to the field I studied. In that regard, I am so much luckier than many (if not most) of my friends. Teaching is getting easier. My co-workers/co-teachers are generally awesome. The kindergarten should be settling down again after a major upheaval. (In a nutshell... one of the other teachers threw a massive fit, insisted she "couldn't work with her co-teacher," and rather than being told to shape up, six of us had our jobs rearranged. The saddest part for me is the fact that my old class now has one girl with her mom as a teacher, one girl with her grandma - the one who threw the fit - as a teacher, and six precious toddlers with no one. I'm not suggesting that the other children will be completely ignored but it's in no way a healthy situation.) I'm readjusting to life in Budapest. My Hungarian is getting better. Today, I even participated in a survey on Guru - a Turo-Rudi offshoot - in Auchan (similar to Walmart). Next Friday, I'll be seeing my first show in Budapest since getting back - Mozart! - at the operetta theater.

What's the problem, then? Sometimes I still don't know if I'm in the right place. I miss singing. It has been a full six months since I sang anything more extensive than Mass or music with the kids. Teaching the older kindergarten kids is something I feel completely unprepared for. Before the mess, I was with the baby group which was great because I had worked with that age group before. Now, with the kids preparing for school, I'm lost. The upper elementary kids are a handful - to put it VERY nicely - as well. It's hard to teach with one of the year 7s lying on the desk and doing everything he can to distract everyone. I'm pretty sure that year 7 doesn't like me after the singing test on Tuesday. Of the four students that I tested (in Hungary, not every student does every test/assignment... it's strange) there was one F, one D, and two C's. Being this far away from my friends and family is hard - especially with Thanksgiving and Christmas getting closer. Fighting the "if only"s can be really difficult some days.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bible Study

On Wednesday's I go to an international English Bible study at the Budapest Christian Library. The pastor that regularly leads it has been out of town the past few weeks so various people have been filling in. Today the pastor from the International Baptist Church of Budapest was there. I'm very very glad he was just a substitute. Rather than the typical discussion (lead by the pastor) it was a lecture... and then at the end he asked if we had comments. Riiight... because I'm going to comment after you "told us how it is" -- at least according to your interpretation of the Bible. One lady commented about some things in Revelations being examples rather than exact things because they were the words of John rather than the words of Jesus. The pastor didn't like that at all. "All of the Bible is the word of Jesus" he said.

I had to restrain myself. Somehow, I don't think Mr. I'm-a-Baptist-so-I-take-the-Bible-literally would have liked my asking his views on John 6! Especially since these are the words of Jesus... not "just" the words Jesus inspired John to write in Revelations.

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.

John 6:51-58
I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Things I wish I'd written ... and EXCITING ticket purchase

From "Redemption" by Karen Kingsbury (pgs108-111)
"Even if they were the only two in the room, he would have let her talk and then simply taken her hand. It was what he'd always done even back when they were kids. As if he didn't need her to fill in the missing places of a conversation because he already knew what they were.

They had been that close.

Long before she loved him and imagined that he loved her, Ryan had been her friend -- maybe the best friend she ever had.


They were two old friends whose grown-up lives had taken them in different directions.


Without saying a word, he came to her and wrapped his arms tenderly around her, pulling her into a hug that erased the years in a single instant. A combination of feelings consumed Kari's heart. She realized she was at once grateful for his friendship and brokenhearted at the distance time had placed between them. Here in his presence she suddenly felt the loss of him more deeply


She felt as if her heart had fallen from her chest, the same way she had felt on the roller coaster at the county fair last spring. The way she felt the first time she kissed Ry-- (OK, Karen, the roller coaster reference is a bit much!)


the way his presence had stirred a memory within her of a boy she'd once dreamed was her knight in shining armor. A boy she thought for sure she would marry.

Thoughts she'd long since assumed were dead."
Hmm... I was half afraid I would look at the publishing date and see 2005 or 2006 - thankfully it was older than that! I think that some hurts never really go away. They may heal but, just like an old physical injury might hurt when the weather changes, there is still a dull ache that surfaces from time to time.

Anyway.... I checked Dolhai Attila's website again today ... his upcoming performances were updated ... there were tickets available for Mozart! at the operetta theater for two weeks from tomorrow ... I bought one ... I'M GOING TO SEE ATTILA PERFORM --- LIVE!