Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Riiiight ... or not.

Apparently, I'm getting married on Sunday. Or so I was told by 6a this morning. I guess I'm glad they told me... otherwise I would have had no idea. It all started when F., one of the girls, asked (as she does many days) why I have a ring on my necklace. My usual answer of "because I'm not married or engaged" satisfied her about as much as it always does (ie. not at all). In a good mood after the Year 7s were excited by the movie clip we watched, I decided to throw her for a loop. So, I told her that I would probably be putting it back on my finger this summer... which is true, simply because in the States, wearing a ring on your right ring finger doesn't mean anything (here it's left hand when you're engaged and right when you're married... hence it being on my necklace). As I expected, this sent the girls into a tizzy. "Miss Rose is getting married! Miss Rose has a boyfriend!" was the big "news" in the class room. Despite my protestations that, in fact, I do not have a boyfriend, they persisted and then started trying to figure out who it was. Their guesses were beyond hilarious.

"Are you marrying, M.?" (one of the 6a boys) they asked.
"No" I laughed, "I won't even be friends with my students on Facebook, "I'm definitely not marrying any of them."
"Oh, so you don't like M.! M., Rose doesn't like you!" they exclaimed.

I don't have a problem with M., but if nothing else (and I could think of plenty more reasons), he's quite a bit too young. Nothing wrong with younger guys but, really?!, he's even younger than the guys my LITTLEST sister is interested in.

Then they decided that I was marrying B., one of the other teachers. To that I replied they should ask A. - one of their classmates - because he's B.'s son. Once it was established that I was not marrying B., they pressed on. The next suggestion was another teacher, B. (yes, a different one). That was just as crazy as the other two suggestions. But, because he's not 1. my student or 2. married, they decided it was "meant to be." Next thing I know, the board is covered with hearts and an invitation to my wedding, which is supposedly on Sunday. They didn't, however, tell me where or what time so I think I'm off the hook.

It was pretty funny, though, to share the "news" with my "fiance." He told me he's been married off to a couple of other people already.

Someone remind me why I go into the classroom before the bell rings.... I've got no idea.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

It's all Latin to me

After wanting to for years but never making any sort of real effort, I went to my first EF (Extraordinary Form - TLM) Mass this afternoon.


If I'm completely honest (which I try to be), I was pretty sure I would go, think "hmm.. that's interesting," and that would be the end of it. Yes, Jesus is there just like at any OF (Ordinary Form - NO) Mass, but everything I knew about it just sounded stuffy. The picture in my mind was a bunch of little old ladies sitting in the pews muttering their rosaries while the priest mumbled for an hour with his back turned. Even having gotten a "play-by-play" from a friend last night so I would know what was going on, I was expecting to be sitting there not really knowing what was happening. Not the best mindset... but, nevertheless, there I was, walking into the Parish Church of Our Lady (around the corner... about three blocks from my flat) just in time for noon Mass.

Funny how God takes expectations and completely busts them up sometimes.

I could not have imagined how beautiful, ritualistic, and reverent it was. Far from sitting in the pew twiddling my thumbs, I was so drawn into the prayer. A couple of things I really didn't expect
~ We did actually say some of the responses, sing part of the kyrie and all of the creed. I was most glad that the end of the doxology was audible and so we all chanted the Amen - my second favorite part of the Mass. --It's part of my whole view of the Mass as a love story.... you've got the early relationship/love letters through the introductory rites and liturgy of the Word, a proposal at the Consecration and then the Amen is like vows before the full unity of receiving the Eucharist.... seems funny to not actually say "I do (believe)" before that. (Yes, this probably isn't exactly "correct" theology ... but beyond sharing it here I'm not teaching it or expecting anyone to get the same insight from it)

~The music was all sung by a quartet that I've heard occasionally at daily Mass at the Franciscan church. They specialize in 15th-16th century Hapsburg sacred music. My friend, Liz, and I were sitting in the back and were right next to them.... Heavenly.

~The reading from Ephesians and the Gospel were both chanted in Hungarian. I understood bits of the first one but couldn't make out what the Gospel was about beyond that it was Hungarian and not Latin. I wasn't sure what language they would be in because I've heard different things from different people about the readings being done in Latin and/or English (in this case, Hungarian).

~Next time (yes, I will definitely be going again sometime), I'm going to sit closer to the front so I can see better. I'll also look up the readings ahead of time!

~After receiving the Eucharist, I felt Christ's presence more strongly than I can ever remember. I know it's not about "feeling" but it was as if He was with me saying "BAM! ... Hey, Rose, I'm right here. Not just somewhere around here but right here."

~The movement (priest and servers) was so carefully "choreographed." It just ran so smoothly -- that's the kind of thing I notice with all my theatre training. (And not just onstage ... if I'm running a quick change that isn't properly choreographed my performer may not end up on stage to do the "actual" staging)

~On a similar note, the purple vestments with gold brocade were simply beautiful and even matched the chalice veil.

Anyway, not at all what I expected and I'm sure I'll be going again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kids Say the Darndest Things....

It's a good thing I didn't have a chance to post this yesterday like I wanted to... because I think today topped everything I heard yesterday.

~~Alex, one of the 6 year olds at the kindy, was telling me about some Lego Star Wars videos
Me: That's cool... my little brother likes Star Wars Legos too, but he's a bit older than you.
Alex: How old is he?
Me: 11
Alex: How old are you?
Me: Old enough to be your teacher.
Alex: 45?
.... Actually, it was really nice to be not seen as a middle school kid for once (although I'm closer to that then 45)

~~ I was in the bathroom waiting to see if any of the little ones needed help. One little girl about 3 years old was sitting on the toilet pooping. She said something to me but I couldn't quite hear what it was. When I asked her, she repeated herself. I still couldn't tell what she was saying, expecting it to be something like "I'm finished" or "wipe please" .... nope. The little dear was telling me "I love you." You know you've "arrived" as a kindy teacher when kids make declarations of love from the toilet.

~~ To be fair, I didn't hear the actual comment in this case only the other teacher's response. Again taking place in the bathroom:
Teacher: There is no girl soap and boy soap! There is only soap!

That was Monday at the kindy... today at school, my English lessons ended up having a common theme that I definitely didn't plan. I suppose I should have expected something when I decided to have 6a read "The Emperor's New Clothes." We got about 3/4 of the way through before some of the boys in the back realized what was happening in the story ... being 11-13, of course they found it absolutely hilarious. So was the line describing how happy the Emperor was as being "uncommonly gay."

With 6a, that's not out of the ordinary. My English class with 5a was another matter. As an ongoing project, they are writing pen-pal emails to one of my brother's friends who is also in fifth grade. This also allows for me to look at their language use in context and sometimes address small vocabulary or grammatical points (today it was would/could vs. will/can). After they write their letters each week, they can spend the rest of the time playing Apples to Apples Junior... it's a great way for them to be using vocabulary and they enjoy it very much.

Although I'm not allowed to understand anything they say, I will often call the kids out on using Hungarian by asking them to repeat what they said in English. Sometimes, I will select comments that I catch but other times I just hear the Hungarian but don't hear what it is. One such thing happened today. My class was playing Apples to Apples in groups of five students. I walk back and forth between the groups, making comments and helping with definitions if they don't understand word as well as trying to keep the Hungarian in check. Walking over to this group, I noticed two things 1. they were all laughing and talking about something in Hungarian and 2. one of the words was "meatballs." I honestly didn't hear what they were saying, although I had a couple of fair assumptions, so I asked them to repeat it in English. The stunned, embarrassed looks on their faces were only topped by their explanation. To their credit, they didn't say it was "nothing" nor did they leave one person to deal with it. Together they all blundered through telling me that "Meatballs don't always look like balls, sometimes, like in the school cafeteria, they look more like" here they paused, not knowing a polite term for what they were trying to describe, before continuing "a cucumber in a man's pants." Teachable moments... they got a new vocabulary word (although I didn't make a big deal just told them the term they were looking for) and learned that using a common nickname for Richard is really not a good choice in most settings.

Never a dull moment, that's for sure.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Baltic is cold ... and this post is long

Last weekend, I was in Stockholm with my friend Deb (we both teach 5a at Krudy). The fact that I even went was funny because about a month ago I heard her talking with some of the other teachers about places to go in Stockholm. Just being curious, I asked when she was going. "The weekend of March 15th, want to come?" I thought she was joking at first but ended up deciding to go.
Deb and I at the Vasa Museum

So, last Saturday found me on my way to Sweden. Some highlights of the trip:

~~ Because it's amazing compared to the other places I've lived, I forget how bad the public transportation system is in Budapest (when compared to others in Europe) This is just a regular city bus in Stockholm (I'll have to take a picture of one here to compare)

~~The hostel was fine. We stayed in a 9 bed room but there were never more than 5-6 people. It's always strange waking up across the room from a random guy who wasn't there the night before. There was a guest kitchen downstairs along with a couple of computers. The only problem was when our key cards didn't work Monday evening - it turned out there was a new system that was causing problems.. someone came out and fixed it pretty quickly after we called.

~~ Sunday was the most multicultural day I've had in a LONG time (if not ever). Two Americans, living in Budapest, visiting Sweden, going to Mass in Italian, and eating Thai food for dinner.

~~ The Roman Catholic population in Sweden is still so low (about 1.6% of the country in 2005) that there is only one diocese for the whole country. The church (St. Eric's Cathedral - one of three Catholic churches in the city) was a strange mix of modern and late 19th century architecture due to expansions to accomodate the increased number of Catholics (now 10x what it was in 1950). Each Sunday there is Mass in Italian, Swedish, Swedish and Latin, Croatian, Polish, and Spanish - the Italian one just happened to fit into our schedule best. I was pleased with how much I understood.

View from the back of the new section vs. View from the back of the church

~~ After Mass, we went to Drottningholm Palace on the outskirts of Stockholm. Neither of us found it particularly impressive and were glad we hadn't paid specifically for it (to make life easier -- and probably save money -- we got the Stockholm Card). The Music and Theatre Museum which we visited later Sunday afternoon was much more enjoyable. There were various instruments you could play and many other interactive activities -- would be a great place to take kids.

Playing a theremin -->
"I feeeeeEEEElll a MIlllliiiiiooon Trees"
(probably not exactly the instrument Babbit had in mind but it was still nifty)

~~ Monday morning we took the ferry across to one of the other islands (we were staying on the Gamala Stan - the Old Town) to visit the Vasa Museum

Panorama from the ferry -- it was sooo cold

<-- Chunks of ice in the water behind me

~~ The Vasa Museum was fantastic! I'm not particularly interested in ships or sailing etc. but it was fascinating. The Vasa is the only surviving war ship from the 17th century. She sailed barely a kilometer before sinking on her maiden voyage in 1628. In 1961, following 7 years of preparation and 333 years after sinking, she was lifted to the surface and started an enormous preservation project which still continues today.

Meticulous preservation went into everything found on board - there are even fabric items which have survived
Scale model (I'm not sure of the exact scale) depicting how the Vasa would have looked the day she sailed.

~~ Walking around the Gamla Stan, I took a picture of the Nobel Museum (caller No. 10 gets the Peace Prize!)

and bought a PIG TEAPOT AND MUG!!
If that's not the cutest thing ever I don't know what is!
(the design is the same on both - front and back)

~~ Monday night we decided to be very Swedish... and went to Ikea!

Stay tuned for Part II...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

What is music really about?

A blog about Sweden will be up in the next couple of days (for some reason, my camera doesn't want to transfer some of the pictures to my computer)... for the moment, I'm turning to a different topic.

A few days ago, I was asked to sing for a kindergarten party (parents) with a '50's theme. Some of the other teachers will be playing as a small jazz ensemble and one of them asked me if I would sing "Fever" - as I responded "sure" he continued with something to the effect of "I don't know if you would want to because it's kind of risque - not exactly Adoramus Te."

Le grand sigh.

Really? Is that honestly the way I come across? That I wouldn't ever sing (or think or do or say) anything not appropriate for church? That my entire personality is "good little Catholic girl" (aka a "Catholic Duggar")? Because, if it is... then people are pretty mistaken. If that was the case, it would have been really difficult for me to have gotten a degree in voice performance. With the exception of sacred pieces, I would challenge anyone to find me a piece of classical vocal music which isn't about love in some form. And some of it gets pretty provocative. That's just what music is about. Ever seen/listened to an opera? Same thing. Love, in it's many forms, has been a, if not the, common theme of music for the entire history of Western classical music.

For the sake of the argument (what I would sing) the following (rough) translations/texts only include things I have actually studied and performed. This means I'm not counting the story of when a close friend had to be told by a coach what the theme was of a French art song titled "C'est l'extase" (Is Ecstasy) ... gee, sounds like a song about a baby playing with a puppy dog, right?

"Offrande" by Hahn (French art song)
On your young breast let me rest my head
Still ringing with your last kisses,
Let it be stilled after the sweet tempest
And let me sleep a little, while you rest.

"Deh vieni, non tardar" from the Marriage of Figaro by Mozart
Susanna is singing to herself thinking of her husband, knowing that he is listening, and knowing he believes she is singing about the Count.
The moment which I will enjoy
without anxiety, in the arms of
my idol, has finally arrived.
Timid feelings, leave my breast;
don't come to disturb
my pleasure!

"Mesicku na nebi hlubokem" from Rusalka by Dvorak
Rusalka, a water nymph, is talking to the moon about her lover, a human.
Give him your beams afar,
tell him, that I wait for him here!
Oh, if his human heart dreams of me,
let this vision awaken!

"Dearest Mama" from The Ballad of Baby Doe by Moore
Baby is writing a letter to her mother telling her about the married man she has fallen in love with.
Dearest Mama,
now I've found him
And he loves me truly too.
Ev'ry moment we're together
We both know it had to be.
But, dear mama, he's not free to marry
It is wrong for us to feel the way we do.
I know he needs me
And that I love him
But I have to give him up
And we must part forever.

Vergebliches Standchen by Brahms (Lied)
My door is locked,
and I won't let you in:
My mother has advised me well!
If you came
It would all be over for me!

Here's a bit of "Fever"
"Never know how much I love you
Never know how much I care
When you put your arms around me
I get a fever that's so hard to bear
You give me fever
When you kiss me
Fever when you hold me tight
In the morning
Fever all through the night"

Would I sing it? Why not? Personally, I'd rather sing "I'm beginning to see the light" because I have sung it before ... but considering these are some of the lyrics, while I'm fine singing it, maybe it's too much for them :-D
"Then you came and caused a spark
That's a four-alarm fire now
I never made love by lantern-shine
I never saw rainbows in my wine
But now that your lips are burning mine
I'm beginning to see the light"

Ok, rant over :-) ... Sweden will come soon, I promise!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Flying North for the ... weekend?

I'm heading out to Sweden for the weekend with my friend, Deb. Really excited because I haven't been out of the country (except a day trip to Vienna) since I got here in July. We'll be in Stockholm from tonight until Tuesday evening taking advantage of the long weekend. March 15 is one of Hungary's three major national holidays commemorating the uprising against the Hapsburgs in 1848.

I've got lots to write about and promised myself I would actually write some of it before I left but it will have to be short as I'm out the door in half an hour :)

~~ After an awful couple of weeks, Mr. Bronchitis is giving up his hold on my life. This relinquishment is after going to the doctor on 5 different days and seeing 5 different doctors (although some of those I saw multiple times) and I'm almost finished with antibiotics round 4 (three different ones). I'm still coughing a little but my ribs no longer feel like a midget has been using them for a punching bag. I missed two full weeks of work (W-T worked W-F afternoon when I was sent home early and then out again M-F). Thankfully, I was back to business as usual this week. And not a moment too soon as I had no intentions of canceling this trip to Sweden.

~~This Tuesday was Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday ... and International Women's Day. I had never really heard of it before but it's a big deal in Hungary. The male teachers brought a huge bouquet of flowers for the staff room along with cookies, candy, etc. One of the Year 7 boys was giving chocolate to all the female teachers and the Year 5 boys got us miniature rose plants and carnations... it was almost overwhelming.

~~ Speaking of the Year 5 boys... I felt so old in class on Tuesday. They are writing pen pal letters to my little brother back in the States because he is also in 5th grade and I know his teacher well enough to twist her arm ;-) In his letter, one of the boys wrote asking if John had a girlfriend. At first I thought that was absurd but then I remembered some of the crazy crushes I had at that age... suffice it to say I am VERY glad none of them worked out. Not just for any later implications but even for the fact that I was more of a kid... I wasn't one of the middle school kids making out downstairs by the boiler room with a high school guy ... sure, at the time, I was jealous, but I'm glad my childhood (and that's what 11-12 year olds still are to a large extent -- children!) was free from that stuff.

Phew! A post with even a few minutes to spare... now to run to the store and grab some dinner stuff on my way to the airport ... and I'm off! I'll make sure to take lots of pictures.. and, who knows, maybe actually get my act together enough to post them on here.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Phantom of the Opera is there.. inside my dreams

Wherein Rose reflects on a strange dream and is amused by the musical her old high school is doing.

I've been dreaming a fair bit lately, maybe because I'm sick, maybe because I've had less work to think about, I don't know. Either way, there have been some strange dreams. Like last night, my dream included having a baby brother with a square head, taking some of the kindergarten kids to McDonalds, and trying to go to work only to have maintenance guys hot-wire my car (a conversion van my family had when I was in high school) so it would take me back home because I was still sick. I escaped from them and ran into the school (although I wasn't supposed to be there that day) where the head of the school was giving everyone big boxes of candy wrapped in Christmas paper even though it was March. And then, some of the other teachers started posting things on Facebook about how I wasn't supposed to be at work because I was sick. Bizarre. Although I don't put much faith in “dream interpretation” I often wonder what makes people put such random things together. I suppose some of this makes sense or relates to what I've been doing (or, rather, not doing – as in working) lately, but it's not like I was thinking about any of this before I went to bed. Who knows... guess I'll add this to the list of questions for The Big Guy someday.


One can often find out the most interesting information on Facebook. Like the other day, I noticed that one of my sisters plans to see the SHS musical in a few weeks. They are doing The Phantom of the Opera. I laughed. Observations:

Miriam told me her drafting teacher is calling it “Phantom of the Oprah” … if things haven't changed in the drama club/thespian troupe since my time in high school this is probably a more accurate title.

That music isn't for the faint of heart. I sang the title duet my senior year as part of our thespian show cabaret. Although there are some funny memories attached with it, including the saga of my one and only high school detention, it was really pushing the limits of being safe. I worked for weeks to get the final high B flat (CORRECTION!!! it's a High E Flat... really not sure how I missed that). Finally, no more than a week before the show, I told the director and my ex-boyfriend that I thought I had it. I didn't want the rest of the cast to get excited in case I couldn't actually get the note and somehow thought that if Mr. W. and Erik were the only people actually in the choir room no one else would hear it. Anyone who has attempted to sing something that high as a high school kid knows it's basically impossible to sing it at anything other than full voice. I hit the note both then and in the show but listening to recordings, I can't help but wince. And that was only singing one song from the show... nothing close to singing the role. That music isn't high school music, not by a long shot.

I really hope the girls playing Christine and Carlotta (apparently switching back and forth on opposite nights... strange because the vocal requirements are extremely different **** correction**** there are two girls playing each, NOT two girls switching back and forth) are seniors. High school theater politics being what they are (or at least what they were back in my day) I hope they don't hurt themselves and make their parents regret “buying” the role for them. Who knows... maybe things have changed.

The “bigger is better” attitude with high school musicals doesn't always pay off. There are plenty of good musicals which are much more appropriate for that age group. I wish them well (honestly, I do, and really hope no one hurts themselves) but it's a shame they are being pushed to do the biggest thing possible. Better to do a smaller show brilliantly than to muddle through something more “impressive.”

My heart goes out to the student head of costumes. Although I can pray the “curse of the costume crew head” has been broken (which extended both before and after my time in that position), I kind of doubt it – unless she (or he, I suppose) is only interested in tech.

Two things I wonder... do the guys still use “Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan as a pre-show warmup? And.. will the costume crew head make a “Who's going commando sign” like I did a couple of times or have the boys actually learned not to leave underwear in the dressing room?

Can't wait to hear all about it from my sister, that's for sure!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Is it really March already?
Are we only starting the third month of 2011?

Looking back over the past two months, I can't decide which of these questions is more fitting. In some ways, they both are. It's hard to explain how I feel about time right now... it seems to be flying by but at the same time lasting longer than usual. I've seen unexpected doors open, close, other doors open, and windows fly open and shut at what seems to be lightning speed. 2011 has been full of surprises ... and it's only been 60 days so far. There's no telling what God has in store for the rest of the year.

It's strange how long the past few months have seemed ... or maybe a better way to put it would be, how much has happened in them. I almost feel like it's New Year's Eve and I should be writing a "recap" of the year... but it's not even a quarter through. Good, bad, funny, uncomfortable, exciting, painful: the experiences have run me through a gamut of emotions.

What I've learned this year ... so far ...
~~There are some situations you can't know how you will react to until you're in them.
~~Maybe God does answer prayers even if you've been praying them for years while subconsciously expecting Him to ignore them.
~~I'm still having moments where I think "Wait?! I'm an adult?! How did that happen?!"
~~Even with the Internet, being so far away can be really difficult.
~~Worrying doesn't help anything (I've known that)... but if you do worry, make it about something important, like staying healthy and not letting a cold develop into bronchitis. Don't waste the time worrying about silly things, like what someone might think of the fact that you watch dumb TV shows.
~~The fact that someone has a medical degree does not mean they will give you good medical advice.
~~Sometimes the right decision is the most painful... at least in the short-term.
~~God is a good author for my biography.. and He loves throwing in surprises.