Friday, November 23, 2012

Shakespeare and the monkey

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far away, an actor and an actress met and fell in love. Eventually, they had a daughter who they named Elizabeth. When Elizabeth was young, she promised she would never be an actress like her parents. As time passed, however, a strange sequence of events resulted in Elizabeth being thrown into a season of Shakespearean dramas. To her great surprise, she loved acting. Shakespeare was her favorite because there was so much substance to his plays. She decided that she wanted to become a professional Shakespearean actress.

After many failed audition attempts, Elizabeth secured a place with an acting troupe. It was not quite Shakespeare but she was confident that she could use (and continue to develop) her talent which would help her be a better actress. As with any company, the first few shows were rough but Elizabeth thought it just needed time. Unfortunately, time only made things worse.

Eventually, Elizabeth realized the awful truth. She had been hired by a circus and turned into a performing monkey by a powerful magician. She had been reciting monologues and blocking scenes when all they wanted her to do was stand on a ball, pat her head, and rub her tummy. At first, Elizabeth tried to resist. They might have turned her into a monkey but she knew who she really was. She continued on, trying to share Shakespeare with those who visited the zoo. Unfortunately, the zookeepers were not happy with this. They had to find a way to make her stop.

The answer came with a simple strip of duct tape. The zookeepers placed this tape across Elizabeth-monkey's mouth and sent her back into the cage. Poor Elizabeth was heartbroken. After rejecting acting for so long, she was finally ready to perform and was now restricted to eating bananas (yes, there was a mysterious way she still could eat  them even with the duct tape.. it's a fairy tale... don't question it)  and scratching her head and armpits.

One day, a wiser monkey came to visit Elizabeth. This monkey knew that Elizabeth was not really a monkey. The wiser monkey told Elizabeth that the zookeepers did not really want an actor but only a monkey.  She knew that she was better than that but she also had to accept that all the zoo wanted was a performing monkey and they would keep finding more ways to punish her when she tried to do more complicated performances. Elizabeth was still sad but she agreed to pretend to be a monkey. It was simply not worth fighting about because the zookeepers would always win.


In other news, I still love extended metaphors and Happy Thanksgiving (one day late).

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Everyday life in Szoboszlo

It's been a while since I've written. Not because I've been particularly busy but because it doesn't feel like much has been happening - in the  most wonderful way possible. I am settling in and Szoboszlo feels like home. I teach, lesson plan, shop, go to choir practice, make it into Debrecen for Mass some weeks and others just go here in town, I cook, I watch tv, normal everyday things. It's hard for me to remember that this isn't "normal" for everyone reading my blog because it seems so natural to me.

One of my main goals this year was to figure out if I love living in Hungary or if I just love living in Budapest. I've only been here a month and a half but I know the answer quite definitely. I love living in Hungary. Last Saturday, I got up early and took the train to Budapest for the day to see some of the other CETP teachers. It was very strange because I had never "visited" Budapest before. Of course, I've lived there and I have seen many of the sights and I know my way around, but I had never gone there just to visit. Comparing it to Szoboszlo was bizarre. I love Budapest, it's a wonderful city and I will always be grateful for my years there, but now I can see more of its flaws. The city is big, dirty, noisy, and smelly. I am happy to be this close (2.5 hours by train) and be able to visit every so often rather than live there.

School is going well. Slowly but surely I am learning names (hard when I have ~425 students!!). At this point, I know most of the students who misbehave as well as the excellent ones but I still need to learn the rest. I would venture a guess that I know about a quarter of the names (when they are in class... it's much harder when I see them in the hall and don't have a class to associate them with). Not bad when you figure I've only had five classes with most of them (I was out sick for three days in September with a bad cold)! The kids are sweet, it was quite an adjustment at first because they speak much less English than those at my last school but I am figuring out how to make things work. My favorite classes to teach are 1st grade (they are so so adorable), 5th grade (very small classes and they are bright/hard working kids), and one of my 8th grade classes (they focus better than any of my other classes and we get things done much quicker - which means they get more time to play games - it's a win-win situation!).

I am still playing the "I don't know what you're saying, tell me in English" card and will do so as long as I can. Of course, I slip up every once in a while and respond to something they say but I tend to play it off and be extra "clueless" for the rest of the  class. Even though I don't respond, it is very helpful to know what they are talking about. I would prefer that they not swear in Hungarian in my class but I'm not sure how to deal with that without "exposing" my knowledge. I have given most of my upper school classes a piece of my mind when they have slipped and sworn in English.

Finding creative ways to manage my classes is a bit of a challenge but I'm getting better at it. All of my students need to have a name tag (we made them the first week of classes) so that I can see who they are and I have different tactics for different grades to ensure that they have them. First and second get stickers if they have them and a sad face if they don't; I think I may start recording more closely with rewards if they have a certain number of stickers. Third grade gets an X if they don't have it and after three Xes I'll be talking to their teacher. The fourth graders are getting a taste of my childhood - if they don't have their name tag and/or notebook I assign 15-25 sentences for the next week: I will bring my notebook/name tag to Miss Rose's class. We are having a contest in fifth and sixth grades and the class loses points if they do not have their name tag. In seventh and eighth, I give them time at the beginning of class to make a new name tag if they don't bring one. I count how many minutes of my teaching time it takes them and then I take the same number of minutes from their break at the end of class. In general, stickers are a wonderful reward for anything. I haven't used them in 7th or 8th but even the 6th graders get very excited to get them for a good mark on an exercise in class. All in all, I really love teaching. It's funny since I never expected to be doing it but I can see myself teaching for a very long time.

All my paperwork is completed. It was fantastic, I only had to go to immigration in Debrecen once. And, had the officer not mistyped my name in the form, it would have taken about an hour. As it was, we were finished in an hour and a half. Two weeks later I received a letter saying my residency application was accepted and another week or so later, I received my residence permit. Both of those came by registered mail so I only had to go to the post office and pick them up. The school has been so organized with all my paperwork. I have been very thankful because it saves so much time, energy, and worry that one of my papers will be misplaced.

My health card took a little longer to get which was almost a problem when I was sick. I had a nasty cold (just a cold this time... I didn't let it develop into bronchitis or anything!) and had go to the doctor. That was challenging because my contact teacher was in England on a school trip. I ended up calling Hajni, our program director. She called the school and one of the other teachers took me to the doctor after the principal called the doctor's office. My doctor is directly across the street which is great because it only take a minute or two to get there depending on when the lights turn. The pharmacy is around the corner from the doctor - I can still almost see it from my balcony. Despite not having my health card, I was able to see the doctor and got prescriptions for antibiotics (which I took even though it turned out not to be bacterial), nose spray, cough medicine, and vitamin c. The appointment was free and the prescriptions cost about 6000ft (a little under $30) all together. I think the three days of rest which the doctor also prescribed did more than the rest! I've gotten my health card since then so, while I hope I won't have to go back, things should be fine if I do.

As I mentioned above, I'm singing in a choir in Szoboszlo. It's held at the music-focused elementary school for the teachers there and other people from the town. We have a concert this afternoon at my church to celebrate the beginning of the Year of Faith. Most of the members are much older than I am (there are a few in their 30-40s but most are 50-60) but it's nice to have a place to sing. I may be joining a choir in Debrecen as well. My contact teacher's best friend teaches in the music school at the University of Debrecen and I met her yesterday. She invited me to join the Debrecen university/community choir AND is going to help me get set up with a voice teacher from the school for private lessons!!

The mail seems to be great here - I've gotten everything that people have sent quite quickly - so feel free to send me something!

Kovach Rose
Szilfakalja utca 6 2/5

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Dear Subconscious: Shut Up.

It's been almost a year since my decision to swear off relationships. Most of the year has been fine. So much has happened (crap and otherwise) that a relationship would have just complicated everything. Not to mention the fact that I truly believe it's better for society if I am single. The past few weeks, my subconscious has been rebelling against me. So many strange dreams about me being with different guys in all sorts of romantic situations. Possibly the result of too much Downton Abbey, who knows. The most frustrating thing is that I know most of the guys I'm dreaming about. And, for the most part, I've either dated or wanted to date them IN THE PAST. For a variety of reasons (good, bad, and neutral), none of them are date-able and that's fine. I don't want to date them or anyone else.

I've woken up gagging over a dream to free a criminal so that I could marry him.

I've woken up bewildered after a dream in which I was married to a gay guy.

There have been plenty of others which I don't remember all the details.

Last night, I had a cute dream about being on a school camping trip with a ton of people (we were students) and sneaking into this guy's (not someone I know) room so that we could pray night prayer together. Apparently, neither of us knew that the other was interested but it seemed like we were on the brink of finding out when I woke up. I had a split view both first person and third person omniscient but then the way he had his arm around me wasn't exactly subtle either. This was definitely the most "realistic" of the dreams I've had lately in terms of what I could see myself actually doing (minus being students) had I not sworn off relationships. I wish I could want it to be reality.

I definitely do not believe this dream "means" anything. The last time I had a dream which I thought was foreshadowing turned into a big mess. First, I thought the guy was a neighbor of my parents' who I MAY have spoken 100 words to in my entire life. Second, it was a new student at my uni who I proceeded to pine over for two years. I later became friends with his girlfriend (now fiancée) and she found it hilarious that her boyfriend had been the "man of my dreams." Thirdly, I thought it was my rad-trad ex from last summer -- definitely the worst option out of the bunch.

So, I don't think my dream last night meant anything. But it didn't help that I saw someone who looked just like a "grown up" version of the guy. Sure, the guy is attractive. Yes, I noticed that he didn't have a ring (on either hand). But, NO, I am not going to try and meet him, obsess over him, etc. etc. like myself a year ago would have. My track record just isn't worth it. (And that's not even considering my "slightly older Hungarian man" record because I do not hold one disgusting person's transgressions against a country which condemns his actions just as much as the US does.)

Seriously, though, the dreams need to stop.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Happiness is ...

logging on to the internet and seeing that two students (including one you thought didn't understand) found the student website and left comments as you asked them to. Despite the fact that you accidentally gave them the WRONG ADDRESS.

Miss Rose - 0
Students - 1


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Itt vagyok Szoboszloban!

(Here I am in Szoboszlo!)

It's been 11 days since I arrived in Szoboszlo and I've successfully made it through the first week of school. One of the first things I learned about my new town (first hand, I read plenty on the internet before arriving) was that, in the area, people refer to the towns by their shortened names ie. Szoboslo vs Hajduszoboszlo or Boszormeny vs. Hajduboszormeny. My contact teacher's husband told me this as we drove across the country from Budapest to Szoboszlo. It was helpful to know because a few days later an older lady at the market used the short form and I knew what she was saying.

Life here is very different from Budapest. While things in BP are slower in general than in the US, life is even more relaxed here. I suppose part of that  is due to the size of the town (~20,000) and the lack of exciting things going on, but it is a pleasant atmosphere. I haven't done much yet besides walk around some, discover a fantastic ice cream place, go to Tesco and Aldi, attend the local Catholic Church, and, of course, teach. Hungarospa, the largest spa in Europe, is only a short walk from my apartment but I haven't been yet. Once my insurance card is processed I'll get a discount on massages so I will definitely be making a visit.

School is going alright. So far I have met 16 of my 21 classes and will meet the other 5 on Monday. It's overwhelming trying to get to know 400+ kids (plus the teachers) but I'm doing my best. The level of English that the kids are using has surprised me because I thought they would be more advanced. Even through all the many problems I faced with the foundation, I cannot overstate how amazing the philosophy is and how much English the kids actually know and are able to use. Many of the teaching supplies and books which I brought from the US will be hard to use with these students compared to those in the foundation.

The other CETP teacher in town, Alli, and I have gotten together a few times and it is so nice having another native speaker so close. We are discovering how much we have in common (two girls of Hungarian heritage, both from Ohio, now working at bilingual primary schools in Szoboszlo) perhaps most notably that we have both spent some time in Hungary before so this is not completely new for either of us.

My flat is amazing. Not being able to chose it for myself was one of my biggest worries about coming but it has not disappointed at all. I am on the main street, near the market, shops, churches, and only a 5 minute walk from my school. The flat itself is great as well - I have a separated living room, bedroom, kitchen, and entryway. The kitchen has a stove/oven, fridge, and microwave. I even have a bathtub/shower which has a curtain after I asked my landlady for a curtain rod. There is plenty of storage space (so I really have no excuse for not being fully unpacked), internet (with a cord that reaches to the sofa so I am not confined to the desk!), a sofa-bed (visit meee!!!), and a balcony -- with a SCREEN door (almost unheard of in Hungary). Suffice it to say, I would have been thrilled to choose this apartment for myself.

In my spare time (which is so much more than when I lived in Budapest - advantages of a 5 minute walk over an hour commute!), I've been watching tv. One of my 40-something channels is TLC. Toddlers and tiaras and Jon and Kate Plus 8 are even more ridiculous when dubbed into Hungarian. I also try to watch a show in the evenings on one of the Hungarian channels. It's a docudrama called "In the Shadow of Suspicion" and has really interesting real-life scenarios like a white woman trying to convince her white husband that she did not cheat on him (which she didn't) after giving birth to a black baby or a teen arrested for a murder he did not commit. Then the show goes about finding the real story.  I find that I don't understand everything but enough to get most of the story.

Except for a quick trip to the immigration office, I haven't been to Debrecen yet. I will probably go next Sunday when the English Mass starts up again for the semester. I am definitely hoping to meet people through that as I haven't made many friends here yet.

One of my current projects is deciding which VPN (or similar) service to purchase so I can watch Downton Abbey when it starts on the 16th (in Britain). After seeing the latest, full-length trailers (Sybil and Branson FTW!!), I really cannot wait for the new season to start!!

I am not abandoning this blog and I do promise to write more often. I spent a while this morning reading through old journal entries and stories I've started and realized how much I need to get back into writing. As some of you know, I started a book this winter (a memoir of crazy college stories) and I want to continue working on it. I am beginning to explore the possibility of some online writing courses to further develop my writing skills. It's funny to remember how much I thought I hated writing when I have always been so creative and loved telling stories. My biggest task is learning how to effectively translate my knack for story telling onto a written page. College seems to be a good place to start since so many crazy things happened in my four years. All names and places will be changed, of course, to protect the "innocent, awkward, irritating, and/or guilty" but I cannot let more time pass without setting down my memories. Whether or not it gets published will be up to fate but I want to do my part in at least writing it.

As always, I would love to hear from you! Thoughts, comments, rotten tomatoes, etc are all welcome in the comments and if you want my address to write me a letter just drop me a note asking for it. I LOVE mail and will do my utmost to return the favor.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I'm Baaaackkk! (and Hungarian)

Apologies for dropping off the face of the Earth. I've been getting ready and moving to Hungary and, as is not unusual for my life, I wasn't comfortable getting excited until I was actually here. I arrived about ten days ago and spent a few days with some friends before starting orientation.

Being back in Budapest is amazing. I alternately feel as if I have been gone forever and as though I just left a week ago. Just arriving in London, after a changed flight schedule and an extra night in the US (in a hotel in Dallas which terrified me to no end), I felt so relaxed and peaceful. Even having my luggage lost and not getting it until the next day didn't faze me. This is Hungary after all.

Orientation has been fantastic. I'm making new friends - surprising myself how much I am going out of my comfort zone to introduce (and reintroduce) myself to people - and learning a ton. I'm skipping the Hungarian lessons because I already know enough to get around but the rest of the classes are proving to be very helpful. So many of the cultural differences between the US and Hungary which I was aware of are being explained in ways which I could have never put into words. The thorough (albeit not always perfect English) lectures are fascinating. I am taking more notes than many people simply because every facet that is explained and can be transferred from inarticulate experience into something I can actually describe makes me very happy. And with nearly every facet, I find parts of myself mirrored in the culture.

I am Hungarian. Not that there has been any doubt in my mind through the last ten years but now I have "proof." Hearing explanations for the pessimism that runs in my blood, the tendency to have very little privacy about my personal life (far too many people know far too much about my life and I care far too little about this fact... clearly, I belong in a culture where people would be asking me about all of this rather than my awkward over-sharing of unnecessary blather), the generation gap (although, I often feel on the "old" side of it) while still being able to socialize with a wide variety of people, the list could go on and on.

These things don't usually bother me but occasionally I feel them highlighted and outside of Hungarian culture it can feel uncomfortable. I guess there are simple solutions (largely revolving around keeping my mouth shut when the urge to over-share strikes me... or not blogging about it) but I'm like an addict that can't seem to break the habit.

Because the majority of the new teachers have never been to Budapest, I have been playing tour guide quite a bit answering questions, giving directions, and leading expeditions. Although I make it known that my advice is not "official" CETP advice, there have been a few spats when returning teachers who are helping with orientation strongly disagree with me. While I don't mind differing opinions, it is frustrating to be told I am wrong by someone who has been in the country, not to mention Budapest itself, much shorter of a period than I have.

Lest you think this is all gloom and doom, things are going great. I'm so happy to be back in Hungary. I can't wait to move to Hajduszoboszlo on Tuesday and get acquainted with my new town. I have so many teaching strategies and ideas that I am itching to try out and I am learning more everyday during our sessions on Teaching Tips. Those are especially good because they are taught completely from the understanding that we are Americans who don't know much about the Hungarian educational system. While I have a better understanding of the Hungarian system than most of my classmates, I know much less about education in general than some of the rest. I'm so thrilled to have this opportunity (yes, even to the point of being thankful for all the crap that happened with Szoloto which lead to my leaving and ultimately coming back) and cannot wait to see what the year will hold.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

In a perfect world..

I would divide my time evenly between the following -  in no particular order -
  • Singing
  • Eating
  • Cooking, baking, cake decorating
  • Sleeping
  • Dressing shows for an opera company
  • Reading
  • Traveling
  • Teaching
  • Going to Mass, praying, etc
  • Hanging out with friends (could be combined with almost any of the above)
  • Wasting time on the internet
Too bad this isn't a perfect world.

On the bright side, I do get to do most of those things on a fairly regular basis :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Why Hajdúszoboszló?

So how did I decide to move to a small town that I had never even heard of? This is the beginning of my journey to Hajdúszoboszló (hi-doo-so-beau-slow).

Since I first started thinking about going back to Hungary my course of action has evolved though several scenarios. The first was that I try to reapply with the foundation I was working for last year. I soon realized that wasn't a good plan since I am still not over what happened eventually causing me to leave. After I decided to apply to CETP, I began researching other parts of Hungary. Through consulting the website for the Catholic Church in Hungary, I discovered that there were two cities (outside of Budapest) where Mass was celebrated in English every week. These were Szeged and Debrecen. Once I started contacting the CETP American director, Mary, I asked if there were any availabilities in either of those cities. While there were not, she suggested Hajdúszoboszló  which is only a short bus ride from Debrecen. The more I thought about it, the better of an idea it became.

By this point, I am very excited to be moving to Haj. not just to be moving back to Hungary. It will be a very new experience and I think that will be good for me. Each time I have lived in Budapest has been a different experience but I have always compared them because it was the same (relative) location. This time, I will be in a completely new setting. I've never been to the eastern part of the country. I've never lived in a small town. I've never been completely on my own. I am looking forward to getting to know another part of Hungary. Although Haj. is a spa town, I'm sure that there will be fewer people who speak English which will, hopefully, force me to improve my Hungarian. I have already found a choir right in the town which I plan to join. The town is large enough (~23,000) to have enough shopping for everyday needs -  Tesco (similar to Walmart), Spar, Profi, and ALDI. There is one main city bus and my commute shouldn't be too bad. There are two Catholic churches in town and a bunch more in Debrecen (including the English Mass community). Being a spa town, there are thermal baths and water parks. Having finally gone to one in Budapest the week I left (after living there three years without going!), I am sure I will go more often next time. I'm not entirely sure at what school I will be teaching but I think it will be one of the two bilingual primary schools (1-8). I know it's not one of them so I'm guessing the other. The town is known as the "sunniest town in Hungary" which is excellent for someone like me who has had problems with getting enough vitamin D.

One of the lessons I learned the hard way last year was that I cannot put off making friends and other connections. This time I will be forcing myself to join the choir, go out and do things, be more active, so that I can build up a good support system in the area. I am hoping that the English Mass in Debrecen will help with that also. Plus, there will be other CETP teachers in the area and I'll have gotten to know them through orientation.

Speaking of, orientation starts four months from tomorrow. Longer than I would like but at least I know the end (or beginning) is coming. I'm eagerly awaiting my new passport (I had ZERO empty pages so I renewed it three years early) so that I can buy my plane ticket. It still hasn't really sunk in that I'm going back. Going home is more how it feels. I've had a number of people from those close to me to acquaintances point out that Hungary is really where my heart is and I couldn't agree with them more.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

See new blog title :-)

As you can see, I've got big plans for next year!

As of today, I have officially submitted my application for the Central European Teaching Program and, baring any unexpected disaster, will be teaching ESL in Hungary starting in the Fall. I am thrilled to be going home and so thankful that CETP is providing the way for me to get there. My placement isn't definite but I am most likely going to be working at a bilingual elementary school in a small city (~25,000) called Hajdúszoboszló in Eastern Hungary near Debrecen (the second largest city in Hungary). After such a rough few months, it is hard to express just how happy I am to have a direction and something to work towards again. As I get more information, I will continue to share it but for right now, my plan is to arrive in Hungary between August 13 and 20, bum around in BP for a week or so before CETP orientation starts on August 23rd, then head east to begin teaching.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Brand new blog format :)

No, it doesn't say where all the roads lead to... yet. Waiting to solidify some plans. Very excited!

Monday, March 19, 2012


After almost six miserable months of no direction, the needle on my compass has finally found its way back to North. I've been barely surviving these past few months: living at my parents' house, just got a job last month at Walmart, singing a little, reading, and wasting time online. I wasn't working towards anything and didn't even know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. If asked where I saw myself in 5 or 10 years, the honest answer was, "no idea." The future was a huge hole. Rather than a light at the end of a tunnel, I felt like I was on a train hurdling faster and faster into a cave with no other end. And then my "fever broke."

I was in a meeting with my counselor on Wednesday when I gave her one of the "missing puzzle pieces" which I thought she had known all along. With that information, she helped me make sense of connections and priorities between my main goals/dreams in life. By the end of the session, I had a plan of action (somewhat) and something to work towards. Later that day, I was able to understand a decision I had made a few months ago. I knew that the decision was somehow logical, but until I saw the connection, I had no idea how or why it made sense. I get it now. And, with changes I'll be making in my life, the decision will probably be reversed in time.

In the short-term, my plans are still being worked out. There are a number of different paths I can take but at least now I know where they are leading.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Reality sucks

During my year in Budapest, every few days I would have "pinch me" moments. Those moments where it hit me again: I actually am in Budapest. I'm living in my favorite city in the world. Being in Europe is my "normal." I'm not 4000+ miles away from my favorite ice cream and pastry shops. I have a full-time job with benefits and can afford life.

After being back in the States for a few months, I'm having those "pinch me" moments again. Only this time I want the pinch to wake me from a bad dream even though I know this is reality. Make all of the statements above negative and that's pretty much what these moments strike me with.

And, it's even bigger than that. I swore when I started college that I was never moving back to Steubenville. Now, my options are live here with my parents or be homeless. That's not much of a choice. On top of being back in the States, being stuck in Steubenville is like adding insult to injury. Unless you go to the university, there is very little of interest or value in this town. I don't know when I've ever felt so trapped. There are simply no opportunities here. I finally have a job (part time in a walmart bakery) but still don't have a car and pretty much anything meaningful requires a trip to Pittsburgh which requires use of a car, gas money, and large amounts of time.

If I was still in a city, I think things would be better but, as it is, I'm not. I keep getting information about auditions for all kinds of choirs and shows in Pittsburgh but, if I'm honest with myself, I'm just too far away for that to really be feasible. Which means I'm stuck with VERY minimal musical opportunities and little chance to improve them. Church choir, while good, only goes so far. The one community group which I've joined is disbanding after the next concert and, even if it wasn't, I wouldn't stay with them because the director's rehearsal and conducting skills, or COMPLETE lack thereof, make me want to walk out every week. I *am* splurging and driving into Pittsburgh every other week or so for voice lessons with a new teacher. Unfortunately, while they are going as well as they can, we have to go painfully slowly as we work to correct years of bad (or not ideal or something) technique that I had drilled into me. I wish God would give me a new dream based on the way this one is falling apart but that doesn't seem to be happening.

To make an already bad situation even worse, my depression is at the worst that it's been in years if not ever. I have no interest in doing much of anything and find plodding through the day about the most I can handle. It's as if, rather than seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, I'm realizing that I've driven into a cave. My doctor isn't helping as it takes four months to get an appointment (I wish I was exaggerating). Since it's easier to see the nurse practitioner, I'm going tomorrow but since she hasn't been treating me since the beginning I'm worried that it will be harder to move forward compared to my doc who knows all the different meds I've already tried. I'm furious with my ex for nagging me into stopping my meds and myself for caving to his radical views. There is so much rage bottled up inside toward him that some days I almost want to write a nasty email telling him just how badly he screwed me up mentally and emotionally. I know he didn't "mean" to but it doesn't change the facts.

As for God, I know He's out there. And I guess I believe He cares. Maybe. I'm just spiritually dead. Oh, sure, I'm going through the motions: reading my Bible, working through a spiritual book, going to daily Mass most of the time, praying before meals, etc. but mostly because I have time and I feel like I "should" go. I love the new translations of the Mass except for one in the prayer after the Our Father --
"Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ" the priest prays.
I can't help but give a silent, morbid chuckle every time I hear it. If the prayer is asking (as it appears) to be kept safe from distress then either God's not listening or He and I have very different opinions of what constitutes distress. I'm not saying that things couldn't be worse (which, with my luck, they probably will become) or trying to imply that no one has ever dealt with more crap than all this, but I'm not exactly walking through a field of daisies.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Smoking and a deer

My two favorite moments about Valentine's Day yesterday were a man smoking a cigarette and a song about a deer. A close second (which would probably be first if it actually happened on the day) was a comment from Mass on Sunday.

It's been just over a year since one of the worst mistakes of my life began. Thankfully, it's also been about six months since it finally ended. I can dwell on the "if only I had known"s but that wouldn't change the facts. I ended up in a toxic relationship. I allowed that person to affect multiple areas of my life which they really had no business interfering with. I am dealing with the results. While there is still a long way to go, I am making progress. More and more days I make it through Mass without thinking about the fact that I'm wearing pants or worrying if my shirt is cut lower than "two finger-widths below the pit of the throat" OR snarkily wearing a shirt precisely because it's cut lower than that (I can assure you that if anyone EVER tries to admonish me about those blasted two fingers again I will tell them exactly what they can do with them). My medicine doesn't get a second thought . . . well, except for needing to talk to my doctor about upping the dosage or finding something else because after almost weaning all the way off of them in the fall they aren't enough anymore. Even knowing that there was a chance Mass would be a TLM, I still went to St. Pete's on Sunday, admittedly telling myself over and over "even if it's TLM, it's still Jesus' Mass and no one else's. I don't go on the guy's blog or check facebook. I haven't even been on Catholic Match since December.

But Valentine's Day was nice. I was walking across the FUS campus to daily Mass when I happened to be behind a student smoking a cigarette. I don't smoke. Never have, never will. And I'm not a big fan of smoking in general. But as I smelled that smoke for a few seconds I realized again just how free I really am. No one can yell at me because I'm "endangering my future children" because the five seconds of second-hand smoke exposure will harm my eggs thereby resulting in deformed descendents (I wish I was kidding). No one can embarrass me by loudly exclaiming "EWWWW SMOKE!!!" and pulling me to the other side of the street (again, I wish I wasn't speaking from personal experience). No, I am free. And in that moment of smoke, my freedom was clear as day.

The second moment of Valentine's Day was at the end of church choir practice. I had jokingly told the choir director last week that if I "had to be at choir practice on Valentine's Day we had better be singing more of the Tallis and Palestrina and less of the rest" although, the music we're working on now is nothing compared to some pieces we've done (in the words of my sister "kum ba ya by any other name is still kum ba ya"). We had gotten to nearly the end of rehearsal and neither of those pieces had shown themselves. Finally, as the last piece, our director passed out Sicut Cervus by Palestrina. We sang through and I realized (not for the first time) that my love of this piece of music is one of the few things that I shared with my ex with which I do not have negative associations. I think that comes from the fact that I had loved it long before he was part of my life and I will continue loving it now that he is no longer part of my life. In any case, I'm very glad that I didn't "lose" it in the mess.

Finally, Sunday was World Marriage Day. As I mentioned, I went to a different parish and so, got to hear a homily by a priest I rarely see. There were a set of very interesting coincidences about this particular Mass.
  1. The priest preached about marriage (OK, not surprising as it was World Marriage Day)
  2. The girls sitting in front of me thought that was funny.
  3. I'm pretty sure their amusement was due to the fact that they are two of his granddaughters.
  4. Yes, Mass on World Marriage Day was celebrated by a married priest (he used to be Episcopal)
  5. Fr. mentioned at the end of Mass that it was also the 29th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

While that collection of coincidences was fascinating, my favorite thing was something he mentioned in his homily. He told the story of a couple who were meeting with their pastor for the last pre-marriage counseling session before the wedding. The priest told the couple that everything they had learned about the Catholic Church's teachings on marriage could be summed up in one sentence: "And the two shall become one." The groom-to-be nervously asked "which one?"

On hearing this story, the congregation appropriately chuckled and then Fr. continued, reassuring us, as the other priest had the groom-to-be, that this did not mean that the couple would become totally absorbed into one indistinguishable entity. According to Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae, they do become one in a mystical sense while retaining their individual personalities and the like. Although I have no plans to get married, this was such a relief to hear articulated. At one point in our relationship, I had been chatting with my ex about the idea of women keeping their last names when they married (yet another red flag -- we should NOT have been talking about marriage a few months into a friendship when we hadn't even spoken to each other let alone met). He vehemently opposed the idea saying that by keeping her maiden name a woman was "saying the marriage meant nothing more than a partnership and not a true two become one union." I tried to articulate what I believed (basically what Fr. described on Sunday) but he still disagreed. The only concession that I managed to get out of him was "well I suppose you still have individual souls." God help the woman (if she exists) that marries him.

As I'm sure as been evident by this post, I'm still a mess. Healing from this relationship is going to take plenty of time and the other circumstances which have surrounded it don't make it any easier. I'm trying not to be bitter and, in some strange way, the fact that I'm done with relationships has helped. I pity my ex as he has many issues (some of which he can help and others not as much) which may prevent him from having the type of relationship he wants. All I know is how thankful I am to be out of the situation.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I could do that... really, I could

That's my most frequent feeling when I read through job postings these days. Because I honestly feel that I would be able to do many of the jobs I see listed. Retail, food service, administrative assistant, secretary, etc. the list could go on. But, I have no proof that I can do any of those things. Looking at my resume, people have no reason to believe I'm capable of much more than teaching working with costumes (and my ability to do one of those is shady at best).

No one wants you unless you've got the experience.
And how do you get the experience without a job?!
It's a vicious cycle.

And, what makes it worse, is I feel like I have no direction. This afternoon, it hit me that I have no idea of where I would like to be in 5, 10, 25 years. None. Frankly, what I'd like to be doing is singing, but that's a slow process at best and a pipe dream at worst. Because, again:

You have to have the experience to apply for graduate school and young artist programs.
And how do you get that experience outside of graduate school or young artist programs?!
Yet another vicious cycle.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year?

I'd love to think that 2012 will be better than 2011. I wish I could believe it. That there would be fewer
  • friends stabbing me in the back
  • unwanted moves
  • full-time jobs lost
  • problems finding a car
  • toxic relationships
  • persons in positions of authority randomly going crazy
  • weeks of work lost due to illness
Unfortunately, I'm not much of an optimist. Never have been. Of course, the fact that I begin the year having been forced to move back in with my parents with no car and no job doesn't help much. Nor does the fact that all I want to do is sing and I'm evidently not good enough/there aren't enough opportunities for that to be a possibility. Add in the fact that I'm not qualified to do much and the future looks even grimmer. By the fall I had quit thinking "things can't get worse" which is good considering they definitely continued to. I just don't know where the next blow will come from. It's like I'm running a gauntlet and can't even see the objects before they strike me. The next catastrophe could come in the area of
  • work (hard since I've got nothing at the moment)
  • living situation (although, I'm already at my parents' so it's hard to get worse unless I was actually homeless -- unlike "technically" homeless which I was last month)
  • health (that was the "lightest" of my problems last year... "just" bronchitis which lasted a month, kept me out of work for two weeks, and left a cough which still lingers)
  • friends (not something I like, but it is almost a relief when people show their true selves... the effects can be particularly unpleasant, however)

but there's no way of telling which of these (or something completely different) it will be.

I'm so sick of the "things will get better... this is just Calvary before Easter... blah blah blah..." crap that I've been getting from people (add 25 fail points if the person that says it contributes/has contributed to the disaster). Frankly, it's trite and makes me want to vomit: particularly when it's from people who aren't dealing with their whole life falling apart around them.

No, this is not a particularly positive way to start the new year. At least, hopefully, by expecting the worst, there's always a possibility that I will be pleasantly surprised. Right?