Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Roman Holiday

A short description of Italy

I got goosebumps when this came into sight on our bus ride. Tip: Buy a ticket for the tourist bus and use that to get around town. It's 10 Euros and takes you to all of the hotspots.

"Traffic jam" in Venice. I thought it was nifty, but our gondola rower didn't sing. I also got the Loser Seat (the chair on the side) on the boat and spent the entire ride paranoid that I would fall into the polluted canal. My back had a cramp for at least a few hours. :)

The line to the Vatican Museum. Around the corner and halfway down the block is the entrance. Think that's a long way?

These are the people behind us. And the line continues around this corner and down for blocks. Did I mention it was 30 degrees centigrade in the shade that day?

One bronze statue in a room full of marble statues. Do you think he feels like the odd man out? Do the other statues ostracize him because he's a different color? Or does his height and size give him some street cred? Or perhaps his height is just another reason they give him a hard time?

"Hey! How many times do I have to tell you idiots that I want red wine? WHY DO YOU KEEP GIVING ME SAUVIGNON BLANC?????

Ah, a statue of the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet, pillaged from the temple in Karnac. Wait a minute, we're in The Vatican! The Catholic epicenter of the world! Does anyone else see the irony?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Race to the Finish

Now that the end is in sight I want to go back and make it disappear. It feels like I've been saying goodbye to people for weeks, and it's quite true. It started at graduation on May 8th and it hasn't stopped. I hate the drawn out process.

But in good news, my mom and stepdad arrived safely on Saturday, and we had a good time in Sopron. The weather was amazingly beautiful. A few days before they arrived it was freezing cold. Now it's raining. In fact there was a short thunderstorn this afternoon. If you don't like the weather in Hungary, just wait five minutes.

It's supposed to storm tomorrow and Thursday. There go my plans for taking my classes outside. Perhaps the teahouse will be an alternative. It is the last day of class, and I would like to do something different.

Speaking of which, the last week of school has been very nice. Every lesson my students give me chocolate and/or flowers. I also had them design a scrapbook page as a way to say goodbye, so that I can remember them always. (insert "aw" here)

But seriously, they've been very creative.

So that's the news from here. On Friday I meet Mom and John in Rome, and I cannot wait! I want to visit Italy, but then again I don't want to leave Sopron. Sadness...

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Queues and Such Nonsense

The one throwback to Communist times that I think I can do without is the issue of line formation.

Today I was in Spar to stock up on food supplies. The stores will be closed a few days for holiday, and many, many people had the same idea. Tip: You can always tell how busy the supermarket is by how many shopping carts are missing from the cart storage.

I went inside and did my thang (by "thang," I mean, “got my groceries”...I wasn't shaking what my momma gave me down the tea aisle or anything like that). After I did my “thang,” I went down aisle number 6 to get in line for the checkout.

Enter 50 year old lady (okay, 50 is generous...it was more like 60).

I first noticed something amiss when I felt her breathing down my neck. No, that isn't just a figure of speech. Her breath was literally down my neck.

The next thing I know I have the end of a shopping cart rammed into my backside (what my momma gave me).

Thinking this is some sort of sneak attack, I immediately spring into ninja pose and confront the woman (not really). Actually, I just nonchalantly glance behind me to see her reaction.

Is she breathing heavily and in full ninja pose? Will I be slayed by a look that could kill? Is she mad at me for taking the last bottle of Kékfrankós? Because that would be crazy...there were plenty of bottles on the shelf when I left the scene.

What?! No expression whatsoever! She seems not to realize that anything is amiss, and is unable to comprehend that she violated another human being's posterior, not to mention an American's personal space, of which we value in plentiful amounts.

I have a theory. So I test this theory.

I move my cart up a few inches.

Sure enough, I feel her cart in my backside again, but wait a minute, the cart feels different this time. More curvy. Hm...(pause as I glance behind)

It's her! Not only is she breathing down my neck, but she is so close to me that I can make out her frame from hips to shoulders.

Again I casually check behind me to see if she notices anything amiss.

Nope. I guess invading other's personal space and somewhat violating people in the checkout line is just her thing.

Then I get to thinking. I've heard of such happenings before; I am not the only victim of this victimless crime. My theory is that crowding and rear-ending in Eastern European lines (“queues” if your British) is a common occurrence for people over the age of 40. It's happened to me before, and is always the result of some little old lady “gettin' all up in my space,” to use the parlance of our times. I can only assume it has something to do with Communism and a limited supply of packaged laundry soap.