Sunday, January 22, 2012

Seeing Szeged as an Outsider

This weekend, two other CETP teachers visited me in Szeged and we had a lovely time in the city and at the apartment.  It is so rejuvenating to see the city where I live through someone else's eyes.  I am feeling so thankful to live in Szeged, with its city grit and cobblestone charm.

 Birds all a-flutter in Dom Ter.

 Puppy in a basket, baby in a basket.

Wall of wine.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gone to the Moon

It's been a while.  I feel like I've been to the moon and back, or at least Vienna.  The full moon swelled up in my stomach and energy field, which has been heavy and buzzing.  I had a birthday, which fell on the full moon, and a really weird birthday weekend.  I have been coming down slowly from the silver moon, just floating through space, thinking about how weird existence is.  What else is there to think about?  My trip back down to earth has been slow, but meanwhile on Earth I have shit to do, so I am working on re-planting my feet here in Szeged.

Speaking of the moon . . 


There is too much to say, and lately I have been feeling so frustrated about this canvas of the internet.  Our words to one another are so condensed.  Have you noticed how we have become greeting cards?  We leave out the "I" and say, "Hope you're doing well" but without room for the question of "How are you doing?"  I am guilty of this too, especially on facebook-land.  Sometimes I feel like because technology gives us this gift of connection regardless of geographical location, we forget the significance of how far from one another we are and what this means for our life experiences.  

I guess I am not being so ballsy, but to get ballsier what I am feeling is that some people think that because I am facebook it erases the magic of what I am doing being so different.  Is this an entitled thing to think or say?  Probably.  I guess I am missing the magic of what it used to mean (or what I think it used to mean) to be far from the people you love, for talking to your family and receiving postcards to be a treasured moment.  Our communication is so distilled.  From profiles, where you can choose carefully which aspects of yourself to display, to status updates, where you can pick through all the garbage in your mind and find the gems, to "Hope you're well" messages . . . We're all simmering in this giant internet-speak stockpot and I think the juices are disappearing.  We might too.

But enough of that.  Here are a few words and photos from my life lately. 

We started our vanilla extract.

We made gulyash.

Birthday mandala.

Kathryn and I went into the hippie store downtown on my birthday, and this was my birthday mandala on their calendar.  I asked the shop owner, a young guy with his hair twisted back, what it meant.  His English was limited, and the translation was priceless.  "Never can die your soul.  Even if body to die, nothing stopping the..." he pauses, puts on a serious face, and then crazy eyebrow wiggles, "immortal soul of man!"  We all laughed. 

Also, Attila, A.K.A. Mr. Confident, gave me the best birthday present ever.  Wine (which he pre-chilled before he brought over, classy stuff), plus this: 

Bonus points if you can tell what the gift is.

I also made a pail-list, which is smaller than a bucket-list, and with a smaller time frame and list of things to do.  This is the beginning.

Oh!  I got a bike.  Today I biked home from school while tender-looking snowflakes stung my eyes and brought a smile to my chapped lips.

And teaching.  Oh boy, teaching is fun, funny, challenging, wild, weird, wacky, frustrating, heartening, exhausting, energizing.  All of these words apply to my life on a whole at different times and I feel like the waters moving through me are changing too rapidly for me to put my finger on where the current is taking them -- I can't quite pin down how I am feeling or doing because the minute my hands are holding onto something, it changes in my fist into something else entirely.

Is this what it means to go with the flow?

It's wintery here and we've been making the apartment more and more our home (photos coming soon), and it feels so nice to be snug and cozy while the snow crusts the trees outside our window.  I saw one small child today walking with his mom, who held onto the hood of his jacket, and he took tiny careful steps while looking intently at his shoes.  "I have been there," I thought with a smile.  Isn't our life kind of like that?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Vienna, you've been good to me & the New Year.

Nine days in Vienna and I was such a bad tourist.  I didn't take many pictures, I didn't visit museums, I never left the hostel before 11 am. I did see a palace, but only from the outside, which apparently doesn't count, and the closest I got to Mozart was the pub next door to our hostel.  So, it appears that not much was checked off my list.  And still, I have stories to tell.

Silly little me thought I was going to Vienna to see my friend John from Peru.  It made sense, as he does live there, after all, and we planned my visit.  However, when I was there, he was gone, and then when he was back, he was unreachable.  Weirdly, how-ever-many-times-I-tried-to-reach-him unreachable.  Somehow it was so not in my cards that his card was missing from the deck -- much like the cards we played with at the hostel.  The intention of meeting with him and the possibility of sharing time and love and intimate human connection got scribbled on someone else's card, and this is all I will say directly about the matter.

I just want to speak to you in poetry about this trip to Vienna, I just want to use this crazy English language in ways that won't make sense unless you were there deep into that night at the hostel or having tea and talking about God, or sleeping and coughing and crying on the couch.

It is amazing, isn't it, how many places we can go by only going to one?

I meant to go other places, but I couldn't leave Vienna.  It was like a magnet that kept pulsing in my direction, keeping me glued to the cobblestone and kebab stands, to the markets and the hostel, to the fast and slow feet moving on the streets.  I kept intending to check out, to travel somewhere else, and each day, I would say yet another batch of goodbyes to my hostel friends, only to see them again the next morning while I was paying another 14 euro for my bunk.

One day, I really did try to leave.  I checked out, which is an important first step, and I even went to the train station.  After Schniztel, of course.

P.S., Steven, I had blood sausage!  Toast with toppings is a specialty, apparently, and it was so delicious. 

You might guess that I missed the train, and then the next train had a middle-of-the-night middle-of-nowhere layover, which sounded cold to me and kind of dangerous to the woman selling the tickets (which was a whopping 63 euro, more incentive not to buy it).  Mostly I had this tug that didn't pull me anywhere in the direction of the train back to Szeged but I had to start doing practical things like "looking at my options" because it was December 30th, I had nowhere to stay, and eventually I had to get back to Szeged in order to start work on January 3rd.

In the train station, on facebook, hoping to connect with this elusive John (because what better timing for him to come out of the woodwork than the night where I am bed-less?), I see my friend's post:

back to HU tomorrow :-)))

 ·  · Friday at 6:37pm near Wommels, Friesland · 

I was totally joking, but Ruurd was not, so it's set: he is happy to pick me up in Vienna on his way home from visiting family in Holland.

It is this enormously funny blessing.  I am cracking up at the perfection.  I walk back to the hostel, just thinking "hey maybe a room has opened up..." and it hasn't, but I am home here.  I adore so many of the guys who work there, and the feeling seems to be mutual.  I can stash my stuff and hang out, and I am told in whisper-quiet-voices that maybe there is somewhere random I can sleep, but I will have to wait until S comes on for the night shift.

There is no sleeping, I am too high.  The night is ridiculous.  My life is ridiculous.  We research the cause of snoring and precipitation levels (and at one point, S mistakenly googles "participation levels, Yachats, per year") and watch youtube videos.  We eat lots of cheese and suck on cough drops.  I am shaking my head as I write this because it sounds so strange and boring.  Cheese?  Cough drops?  Precipitation levels?  We say early-morning goodbyes to travelers taking off for trains or planes, smiling at these humans who look like hermit crabs (if hermit crabs wore backpacks), suited up and still crackly and crusted with sleep.  Behind the counter, where I am sure I am not allowed, there is a nice perspective.  I have discovered that I like to be in this position: pointing people in the right direction, meeting people in saturated minutes . . .  It reminds me of the morning shift at the Drift.  When I wait tables in the morning I feel a weird sense of responsibility to start people's day off right and it changes me a little bit.  I feel like it's not out of place if I call people "darlin" in the morning which is awesome for me (because it is always my dream to be the southern belle waitress, but I've never felt old [or southern] enough for it) and I like to be the one giving people the simplest things they need: smiles, coffee, pet names and small shoulder touches when appropriate.

Anyway.  I change clothes and sneak out in the morning before the shift changes and wander Vienna.  The sky cannot decide what time it is.  It is so blue and dark it is hard for me to paint it for you, but if you think of hair so black it is blue, just hold that picture into your mind, and then think of hair so blue it is black, and you will have the color of the sky.  It is lit up from somewhere, and it holds a light that doesn't pierce through but glows softly from under the color.

I didn't capture that sky, but here are a few others as seen by my camera:

The rest of this morning is not so exciting, just a slow soaking up of my last few hours in Vienna.  I am achingly tired and I pay a lot for a breakfast so that I can be inside and drinking hot tea and writing in my journal.  I buy lots of fancy tea to bring back to not-so-fancy Szeged.  I wander back to the hostel so that I can grab my backpack and then I head off to catch my bus to the airport so I can meet Ruurd.  I meet another girl from Singapore, who coincidentally was also staying at my hostel, although we never met, and she wasn't in her bed last night. She says I should have stayed in it, and we laugh, but her eyes are sparked through with tears.  She is not ready to leave Europe and while we talk on the bus ride little tears keep oozing out.  I give her some Rescue Remedy spray and a hug, we exchange e-mails, and she offers me the possibility of an ESL job in Singapore.

I meet Ruurd.  We drive home.  And now, I am back in Szeged.  Weeeeeird.  I slept through the New Year, but not through the fireworks that lit up the sky here.  After being up for over 30 consecutive hours, I am happy to be sleeping in my own bed, and after 9 days in Vienna with friendship and connection and fun times, I am determined to make Szeged feel like more of my home.

Christmas market owls.

Maybe this new years business is getting to me (well hey there, 2012!), but I want to ditch the realities for the metaphors.  And didn't I promise you poetry?

Even after all this time and not for lack of trying I am still a human with sticky honey fingers just making a hot mess of everything, but I am growing so fast I think the whole world must be singing to me.  I am bursts of buds and blossoms, I am so soaked through with rain and sun, sinking deeper into the soil that sustains me.  I am surrendering to the frost that chills me over and closes me like a fist, and I am saying yes to the sun who flirts with my lashes til the petals open and light tumbles out.  In my eyes you can see the nectar, that sweet spot of honey where the bees want to go.  And that night oh how they were stinging until the tears came.

So here I am again rambling with these nonsense words.  In 2012 I want to only be as sensible as I need to be.  Can't the rest be fun and games, poetry and sing-song?  Because all we've got is time, and even still, we have no idea how much.  So ok, Rikle, I'll do like you do and love the questions and I'll be myself since the rest are taken, and I'll do all those bumper sticker things that are annoyingly cloyingly cliche but important in living 'the good life'.

This year, Simon says: "Love more."  And even though from some dark corner of the room you might hear "Stop!" listen real close and you'll hear it's not from Simon.