Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Progressive Dinner in Hungary

Location: Sopron, Hungary
Time: 22:26

I just got back from English Club at the Púskás on Várkerület. It was the perfect opportunity to meet up with more friends, and before English Club I had tea with Harriet and a delightful Danish lady at the Liszt Salon. I taught her the term "progressive dinner" as we continued our visit at English Club.

Needless to say, a WC was in need before the evening was finished.

When I used to live here, English Club in Sopron every Wednesday night was often the highlight of my week. People from several nations who just happened to be in Sopron gathered together for beer and English conversation.

Tonight we had three Hungarians, three Americans, one Austrian, one Dane, one Canadian, and one unidentified male (we were sitting at different tables and so I didn't get a chance to speak with him). There was also a Frenchman at the Púskás enjoying dinner. While we invited him to join us, he declined to instead watch Manchester United battle Barcelona in the Champion's League.

Two great things happened at English Club.

First, I killed with this joke (thank you, Rachel):

Second, I learned that if you speak a little of the local language the restaurant will charge you local prices. This could also be filed under the category of, "You know you've graduated past the point of being a tourist when..."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memories Seen Through Rose Tinted Glasses

Location: Sopron, Hungary
Time: 20:30

Jó Ested Internets.

I spent the day at Bérzsenyi Daniel Evangélikus Gimná old stomping grounds. I got to chat with two of my favorite former students, blessed as I am, and visited a few of the current English classes. I truly miss it here, but I can't tell if it's because I've learned so much since I've been gone or because I'm simply a tourist and loving life right now. I feel that if I came back and did the same work I would be much more effective because I know what I was doing wrong before, and I understand the culture better. However, this could just be the rose tinted hue of remembrance.

Do you ever notice how memories are more positive than the actual reality? For whatever reason, and I'm sure a psychologist could tell me why, we have selective memory when it comes to our past and we seem to remember much more of the positive than the negative.

In Hungary I find it's the opposite.

Hungary is a country steeped in history, tradition, and remembrance, and a lot of that remembrance is melancholy at best.

For example, I remember a trip to Budapest a few Octobers past during a national Hungarian holiday. The country was remembering the revolution of 1956. Granted, I was educated in the American school system and know shockingly little about world events, however, I do know that any revolution against Communist Russia in 1956 was unsuccessful.

I mentioned this to my Hungarian colleague, asking why, if they failed, do Hungarians celebrate the revolution?

She replied, "because we tried."

And that is a great summation of the Hungarian spirit. They don't have much to celebrate by way of successes. Another colleague, at a different time, lamented, "we always pick the wrong side."

She, of course, was speaking in regards to conflicts and past world wars.

But while they don't have many successes to celebrate, they have a few attempts to remember. And they do so with gusto.

Because the spirit of Hungary isn't about victory. The victory itself is in the attempt.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hungary: Land of My...

...well, certainly not "forefathers," but that title sounded so nice and ostentatious.

I am currently in Aszod, Hungary, yesterday I was in Sopron, Hungary, and the day before that I was in Vienna. Life is good.

I am visiting old haunts and great friends in Eastern Europe before I head down to Italy for the summer. I can't convey how much I've missed it here, being back it has taken no time to jump right back in to living the Hungarian life...including trying (poorly) to speak what little Hungarian I can (i.e. not much).

Soproni beer. Paprika chio chips. Palacsinta. Gesztenye Puree. Nescafe. I am doing as much as I can to eat and drink my weight in delicious Hungarian treats. I have 15 pounds of luggage weight to fill, and plan on doing so with wine and beer, in addition to what I may ship back to the States.

Gotta run. Store only open from 9-12 on's surprising it's open at all!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tomorrow MKE becomes Gokewaukee

I've been trying to put off this post. Unfortunately, and for reasons unknown so say some comrades who watch American Idol, Danny Gokey, Milwaukee's own, is becoming quite the prospective finalist for Idol. I'll let them explain their stance, to which I adhere. Afterall, they are more articulate.

However, due to Gokey Day tomorrow in Milwaukee, I feel the need to roll my eyes via the Internets. I've never watched a full episode of Idol. Sure, I've caught snippets here and there, and read some press and know the general format of the show. For the sake of full disclosure, I must admit that I love the Slovak and Hungarian versions, Megasztar, but I'll defend myself because those versions actually include contestants with talent and judges who know what they're talking about, not to mention where they are on any given night (I'm talking to you Abdul).

Milwaukeeans have been freakin' flipping their lids for this guy since day one. Tweeps have been all a-twitter, bloggers have been all a-blogging, and the local news stations have been all but foaming at the mouth for a chance to claim a piece of this national stage.

Tomorrow there will be a parade. The Gokemeister will perform a mini-concert for his worshippers, and he will get free entrance to the hottest show in town - the Brewer's Cubbie's game - for the low, low price of squawking out the national anthem.

As my comrade put it - did CC Sabbathia get a parade when he pitched his balls off last season and was instrumental in getting the crew to the playoffs? Did Waukesha'sErin Lobdell, of Survivor, get a parade for being a finalist this season?

What's the big deal with Gokey?

I have no clue, and so I am escaping Milwaukee before it becomes CrazyTown for safer, and saner, climes.