Tuesday, January 15, 2002

The Eagle Has Landed

The Eagle Has Arrived

This morning, the door buzzer downstairs rang. It was the mail carrier again, grateful that he had a package with Ron’s name on it. I really think he is afraid to face me yet again. It was the present from Wyoming that we were anticipating. Glory be!! We have been blessed unconditionally. The cost of mailing for the three shipments totaled enough to make a down payment on a new BMW. This alone was more than humbling to have a real visual of what our friends thought enough of us to spend on postage, but then the bounty inside was beyond belief.

This will sound like a motley rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, but if you know that my singing is only one shred better than the sound of a hippo in heat, you will appreciate this list of what our “true loves gave to us”, which is definitely not a motley assortment.

4 cans of ground pepper, 4 Rice-A-Roni, 3 bags of Starbucks coffees (different blends),

2 mashed potato mixes, 2 books, 2 sets of pictures on CD Rom, 2 rolls of paper towels

2 candy canes, 2 cans of pumpkin, 2 cans of evaporated milk, 2 aluminum pie tins, 1 pie crust mix, 1 jar of pumpkin pie spice, 1 Jiffy pizza crust mix, 1 taco seasoning, 1 enchilada seasoning

1 blueberry mix, 1 cornbread mix, 1 box of Sees candy, 1 bag of peppermints, 1 bag of Herseys Kisses, 1 box of Applets and Cotlets, 1 chocolate snowflake, 1 deck of playing cards, 1 Betty Crocker cookie mix, and a bag of mixed beans for soup picked clean of potential floaters.

Some people have to drop dead to find out they are this loved. Are we lucky or what?

Here are the coincidences that just fell into place with these packages. We had gone to the Stardust Café, the coffee house that is trying to be to Hungary what Starbucks is to the States. As we were sipping the coffee, tasty, but not Starbucks, we were saying how much we missed a good hearty Starbucks roast. We will not be using this for breakfast, but for our evening coffee breaks at home to make it last a good long time. I had been trying to find paper towels that were larger than a handkerchief, but they do not seem to exist. Finally, I settled for a roll of what was available. When I ripped off a sheet, it was smaller than a business envelope. The Bounty towels will be saved for those big jobs where they are needed and not wasted. Then I said to Ron while we were in Venice, that I had not seen any good chocolate shops in Budapest yet. It would not have occurred to me except that we were surrounded with sumptuous, mocha creations of every shape, size, and co-starring ingredients you could think of in the Italian confectioners. It was enough to get our saliva glands stimulated for some deep, rich, chocolate confection that melts in your mouth and surprises you with the complimentary essence of the center filling. If you read the Amsterdam chapter, you know that we have had a craving for pumpkin pie since Thanksgiving. It was too overwhelming making a crust, preparing the pie filling, messing with the spices. All of that would just take too long when the ingredients were so close at hand. Once the cans of pumpkin and evaporated milk were opened, it was easier to tear into the box of piecrust mix, grab a spoon, alternate a spoon of pumpkin with a spoon of mix, and wash the whole thing down with the evaporated milk. For those of you that remember the ‘crazy crust’ pies of the 80’s where you threw all of the ingredients in a pie tin, it miraculously made the crust, and filling while baking, this is not so far fetched. Just for good measure, though, we stretched out over the heaters to warm our tummies, baking the pie in our covered pots. The last of the coincidences was that while in Venice, we saw playing cards, something that no traveler should be without. We are both positive that we packed a deck, but they never materialized in the suitcases. In one store window, we saw a number of decks and were going to purchase a set. There was one little problem. In Italy, the playing cards are regionalized. Each region uses their own symbols for the face of the cards, many of which are cups, sticks, and other similar symbols to the traditional Tarot deck. Then the other complication was that they only use forty-eight cards and not fifty-two. We left the store empty handed. So not only are our true loves observant readers, they can read minds as well.

As grateful as we are for all that we received, we are asking that no one else sends us a care package. The cost of postage is devastating and it is truly embarrassing to us to see the cost of what was spent for the mailing, plus the guesstimate of what was the cost of the goods were.

Our get away did Ron the world of good. It must have been the increased sunshine. He returned with a renewed sense of purpose. For a couple of weeks, I was very concerned about his lack of focus and interest in pursuing any goals that he had talked about prior to coming here. As soon as we returned he took the proverbial bull by the horns, found another rental agent, and started looking at properties to move to. The only holdbacks are that we need to give thirty days notice and I am stuck here until my new diploma arrives, since they do not forward mail here. I am trying to get USF to Fed Ex it to me, so eliminate at least one barrier. Even with these restrictions, Ron has some bounce in his step once more and is now actively looking for classes in Hungarian. We were also billed double for our phone bill, which has been a total confusion since the phone is in the name of the rental agent. All rented apartments here have phones pre-installed and the bill automatically goes to the rental agent or the apartment owner, not the tenant. Ron has been very pro-active and tenacious in getting this straightened out. It is a great relief for me to see him back to his usual self, I was getting really concerned and thought I was going to have to bring up the Iowa Corn Cam on the Internet and have him sit in front of the computer for therapy. Some one has actually set up an Internet camera in an Iowa cornfield, so that “you can watch the corn grow.”

I received a call today from the school that I interviewed with. They want me to come in on Thursday and do a ‘teaching demonstration’ with one student and to write a lesson plan for an Intermediate Conversational speaker. This is the second step in their hiring process. The school only contracts with businesses to teach English to the various businesses employees, so generally, it is all one to one.

A couple of hours later, I received a phone call from another school. They asked if I was still interested in teaching. When I said I was, she explained that normally the first time in is only filling out a stack of forms and then they call you back for an interview, however, based on my resume, she is willing to skip the forms and go right to the interview. This is the Berlitz school of Languages. At 9:00 this evening, I was sitting here typing and fortunately not on the Internet. The phone rang and when I answered it this woman who sounded like she just finished a marathon, panted, “Is this Ryan James?” When said it was, she sighed, “I have been trying to reach you for the longest time. Are you still interested in a teaching position?” I have an interview with her school on Thursday of next week. For all of my lack of success finding a position in the States, I am recouping it here, albeit there is a major difference in salary, there is also a major difference in the cost of living too.

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