Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Day for the Dead (Halottak Napja)

Growing up in Hungarian customs and traditions, I have never quite known what to make of Halloween--mostly not sure how to integrate the macabre aspects of this particular holiday.

In Hungary, this day is a special holiday reserved for the dead. It is a holiday of great reverence. Graves of loved ones are tended. Flowers are planted (usually chrysanthemums that are in flower this time of year) and candles placed on the graves. The cemeteries seemingly awaken with beauty and light.

In the home, candles are lit (especially if one cannot make it out to the grave of the loved ones) and prayers are said for those who have passed before us but are still in our hearts. Our loved ones are remembered and most especially in our thoughts on this day.

I have to shamefully admit that these past few years my faith has somewhat faltered. I struggle to find the answers to the questions I seek. Yet, I will celebrate this day to the fullest, light my candles, and say my prayers.

I hope that my prayers will reach their destination...

Vampire to Be?

You Could Definitely Be a Vampire

Immortality, staying pretty forever, not having to get a job... you could definitely eat some flesh for these things.

It's not that you're a murderer by nature. In fact, you're probably the furthest thing from it.

However, if you woke up a vampire, you'd certainly be able to adapt and enjoy your new lifestyle.

There might not be much better than living forever, even if it means giving up your soul.

What you would like best about being a vampire: Being a total outsider

What you would like least about being a vampire: Other vampires

So, I assume I should start practicing my biting techniques?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Too many pies

Ever since I can remember, even as a very young girl, I have had a lot of interests and hobbies. For a while, I attended two schools. One, the normal every day type of school people go to, and Hungarian evening school where I learned to read and write Hungarian as well as the other subjects such as culture, history, geography, etc. In addition to this, there were the music lessons. For a while, it was just violin. Then I took organ and voice during the same time period. Since my music teacher taught both voice and organ, I could fit both lessons into one time period. But it was tiring as the lessons could last as long as three hours at a stretch if I had a performance coming up.

As I have gotten older, it seems I have added more interests rather than less.

To compound matters, I have this chronic fatigue syndrome called graduate school where I am just perpetually tired. I wish so much I could be one of those people who only need 2-3 hours of sleep a night.

Now, I am attempting to get back into music rather than just live it vicariously through listening to my CD's. I don't know how I will find the energy to do this as well.

But I suppose humans are good at adapting. I too, will adapt. But what I am hoping most of all, is that by putting energy into this endeaver, it will lift me out of my depression and reclusive state. Thus, hopefully, energy and new found enthusiasm will be returned to me.

Monday, October 29, 2007


This week I follow through with a decision I have made. The decision to go back to music. It has been too long and my soul yearns to sing.

I originally started my music with the violin. But sadly, it was not meant to be. Although I love the violin, I think people would probably pay me not to play.

For a while, I was an organist. But my heart just did not seem to be in it. It was more my parents' decision for me to play the organ rather than my own. I would have preferred piano over organ, but I did enjoy it. I have very long flexible fingers and they are quite suited for a keyboard.

However, my real love was voice. Being a soloist. There was, and always has been something about making myself the instrument.

So, it is time. It is time for me to make that long overdue call to my past voice teacher. For I need some guidance. I can no longer ignore the constant nudging from others and myself to perform. Yet, I dare not take to the stage without some expert nurturing.

So, it is time to awaken that Diva inside of me.

I also make the promise to myself this time that I will not be so quick to dismiss the various paths and opportunities as I did a few decades ago.

This time, I throw practicality aside and let what is inside me soar.

However, I do need a bit of time to properly get over this cold virus of mine. Right now, I sound a bit more like a frog than a Diva of the stage.


I love Roses. For more than just its fragrance and legendary beauty.

They hold a special place in my heart.

You see, my botanical interests all began with Roses. I learned much botany from roses. I also learned, through trial and error a great deal about cultivation and horticulture from Roses. Yes, my love and obsession with botany began with roses.

Yes, I have a rose garden that is in desperate need of tending--but I have so little time. The soil needs to be tilled before being put to rest for the winter.

And here is a rather lovely song that haunts my mind:

Red is the Rose

Come over the hills, my bonny Irish lass
Comer over the hills to your darling;
You choose the rose, love, and I'll make the vow
And I'll be your true love forever.

Red is the rose that in yonder garden grows,
And fair is the lily of the valley;
Clear is the water that flows from the Boyne
But my love is fairer than any.

'Twas down by Killarney's green woods that we strayed
And the moon and the stars they were shining;
The moon shone its rays on her locks of golden hair
And she swore she'd be my love forever.


It's not for the parting that my sister pains
It's not for the grief of my mother,
"Tis all for the loss of my bonny Irish lass
That my heart is breaking forever.


A download can be found here.

With such music and imagery, I have to say that at times like this, it does make me yearn to have some Celtic heritage. Oh well, I guess I will just have to settle for buying the CD.


It turns out that my lab had a surprise 40th Birthday celebration for me last week. Slightly belated, but still nice.

The surprise was that I was unable to attend due to being at home sick. So, they had the celebration for me anyway--without me.

Did they save any goodies for the Birthday Girl? Nooooooo.

Sort of sucks missing your own Birthday celebration.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Shadows of Death

Sometimes I walk through cemeteries. It is a quiet excursion that fills me with both melancholy and solace. The solace comes from knowing that I am not alone in my grief.

I tend to be drawn to the older monuments. Some of them can be quite beautiful. Some simple, yet elegant and heartfelt.

I will sometimes wonder about the people buried under these very old monuments. What were they like? What were their dreams and desires? Who were the people beneath the ground I softly tread?

I can't help but notice that these older graves are no longer tended. Did the descendants of the deceased move away? Are there no more descendants left? Or are they simply forgotten?

Is their only legacy a slab of stone to mark their memory?

...And yet, I can help but wonder if this someday will be my fate as well? existence forgotten beneath a stone?

(picture taken in SF 2006)

Quince Thief

To the person who stole all the Quince fruit off my tree two years in a row:

It was bad enough you stole all the fruit while I watched my mother dying. Now, once again, you have stolen all the fruit off of my tree this year as well. I was rather looking forward to preparing a lovely compote from the fruit. I am sorry you don't feel like paying $2 per fruit at the market for this delicacy. May Karma bite you in the ass and bite you hard for this evil deed of yours.

Next year, I will be ready for you. You shall reap the wrath of the warriors whose blood courses through my veins...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pajama Party

As a young girl, I have never had or been to a pajama party. Pity. So, I am going to have one now. Most likely next week in fact.

An evening of watching an old movie (Bogart perhaps?), wine, take-out food, sampling different perfumes, lotions, and make-up. Heck, maybe even paint our nails and try out different hair-styles? A girl's night in with some of my friends. Probably sans pajamas though.

There is something delightfully silly about women with advanced degrees (Ph.D.'s or Ph.D. candidates) getting together for a pajama party.

I think I need this. A night of girl talk and being a "girlie girl".

I think you are never too old to have that pajama party.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


This week I had the joy of going to a restaurant called the Pufferbelly. It is a delightful restaurant housed in a railroad station. I have not been to that place in years. About 11 years to be exact.

It brought back a special memory for me.

When I was five, I visited Hungary for the very first time. After my trans-oceanic plane ride, I had to get on a series of trains from Budapest to my destination of my Grandparent's little village. It was my very first train ride. Despite being tired from an already long trip, I was enchanted.

However, the real bonus came while staying at my grandparent's home. There were train tracks not far from their house and every evening, I listened to the trains go by as I drifted off to sleep. It was my lullaby.

My thoughts have lately been returning to that place. I think mostly precipitated by the fact I approach my 40th birthday and I no longer have my parents to celebrate this milestone in my life. Not having my parents to celebrate this event I think causes my thoughts to think about them and where they came from. Causing my thoughts to wander to their homeland and my family members in a land far away. Causing my mind to delve into memories of long ago.

I wish so much I lived near train tracks so that I could hear the trains go by at night.

But perhaps, just perhaps, someday my wish will come true and I will once again have my lullaby to fall asleep and soothe away my cares...

(The above picture is of a Hungarian train (from Wiki) typical in a rural area.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I decided to have a late lunch today. I took my lunch into the research commons area. I noticed it was pretty much empty since it was so late in the afternoon. Fine by me. I like it that way. It gives me the chance to enjoy my lunch and be alone in my thoughts. A chance to day dream perhaps?

I was not completely alone. A small group of people were sitting at a table a little further from me.

As I started to eat my lunch, remnants from a lovely dinner I had the previous evening, the conversation from the table over started to invade my solitude.

It became obvious that an auditor had come and performed an audit on the cafeteria in the research commons. He was discussing his findings:

At first, the conversation was discussing keeping things at a certain safe temperature. This is boring enough that I can somewhat block out. Now, where was I in my nice thoughts?

Then he started discussing the large number of mouse droppings he found. Okay, now my nice thoughts have been interrupted. But how many mouse droppings are we talking about? Can we quantify this please? Something like mouse dropping/cm?

Then he started taking about mouse droppings and cross contamination. Okay, I realize that food places are not sterile environments, but not something I want to hear about right now. Again, how many mouse droppings/cm?

Then he started talking about not having the baits in the food preparation area due to cross contamination of poison. Blue-green feces is an indication of rodent poison in the feces, but he can't say for certain due to the fact that this is a research institute and the blue-green feces could be due to something from the laboratories. Oh? So rather than worry about a small amount of anti-coagulant(from the rodent poison) getting into my body, I need to be thinking about some research reagent cross contaminant in my food? Yuck!

This went a long way in killing my appetite and killing my nice thoughts.


My thoughts have lately been wandering here. Perhaps it may have to do with my own loneliness. I don't know. But I yearn to go there. Now.

It has been too long since I last visited the land from which I call my heritage.

I wish to hear the violin music that caresses my soul. I wish to indulge in food that makes my body feel fulfilled. Surrounded by all those who love me, all in one place. Care for me as family often does. To have my pains soothed.

To be surrounded by people who have a long history of being passionate about life.

Budapest. It has been called the Paris of the East. Romantic? Yes. Beautiful? Breathtakingly so.

Perhaps, just perhaps, maybe next year...

Wounded Healer

Years back when I was a therapist, I remember having a discussion with my collegues. We discussed the concept of the wounded healer. That we are all wounded healers. It is our invisible wounds that drive us to the profession.

We seek an absolution. An absolution that never comes.

But we try. We try by attempting to heal others of their emotional wounds.

I also think that perhaps many of us are wounded. Just that some of us are more aware of the wounds than others.

We have to be.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Reward

Sad to say, I was in the lab until about 2:30 am. Oh, the joys of being a graduate student and running scans. But at least with kinetics, you always get some data.

I drove home tired and thinking how lovely it will feel to crawl into the warmth of my bed and fall into a slumber.

When I drove up my driveway, I saw a box sitting on my porch. I already knew what it was. It was my Tacca chantrieri. What a sweet reward! The timing could not be more perfect after a long hard day!

I finally found a source for the plant. Not an easy matter considering that most nurseries sell out almost instantly. I also found one for a reasonable price. Again, not an easy thing to do. Some places offer a blooming plant for about $75. Ouch.

Of course, mine is not in bloom. The grower stated it should bloom next year if growing conditions are met. That will be the trick considering its exotic origins. But I figure, if I can grow and bloom orchids, I should be able to tackle the cultural requirements of this plant.

Tacca chantrieri is commonly known as the Black Bat Flower. If you look carefully enough at its morphology, you can see why.

Yes, this is an exotic plant with an exotic flower. But that is where my botanical interests tend to take me.

Monday, October 15, 2007


I must admit that this performance simply sends chills down my spine.

Breath taking and masterful performance by Antonio Banderas.

Friday, October 12, 2007


The past couple months my emotions have been very labile. Sometimes depression has me in its strongest holds. It chains me, holds me down, and more often than not, I wake up to a tear stained pillow.

At times, I close myself off, become the recluse within my self-imposed walls.

I remember when I was a therapist, I was empathetic and listend to my gut when all else failed. I was very good at this. Sometimes too good. That is when countertransference kicked in. Countertransference is a bitch that bites in the ass when you least expect it. Or a bite that is harder than expected.

Now that I have gone into the realm of science, it was pointed out to me today that I have become over analytical. It is true. Now I no longer seem to be able to feel "what my gut tells me to do".

It frightens me.

Do I no longer have the insight to listen to what my "gut" tells me to do? Or is it simply that my dark emotions cover everything else?

I thought about taking some much deserved and overdue time off. I rationalize that I need to start to repair the wounds in my soul. Yet, I know myself. This would only enable the recluse in me.

I have no solution.

I am at a loss...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Reproductive Status

Years back I remember going on a series of job interviews for a position as a therapist in the field of mental health. Before landing said job, there were a handful of interviews I went through that still bother me today.

In the field of mental health, you would think that those are the people that are most perceptive, sensitive to the needs of others, empathic, and are caring towards others. You would think.

During the course of interviewing, I was often asked my opinions on various treatment modalities, my knowledge on various disorders, and my preferred course of treatment for various disorders. Since I was interviewing for a position as a therapist, these were very appropriate questions.

However, I was asked a lot of other questions regarding my personal life. I was asked if I had a boyfriend? Did I plan on marrying said boyfriend? How long have I been dating said boyfriend? Did I have any kids? Did I plan on having kids? If so, how many? When?

I cannot even describe how uncomfortable these questions made me. For starters, I did not care to disclose these matters to a stranger. Secondly, some questions I could not even answer for myself. Marriage is a decision not made by one person alone. Reproduction is a decision that should be made by two people (the exception being a visit to a sperm bank).

My personal life and my reproductive status is my business alone. It should not enter into the hiring process.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

World Domination?

Well, just when I thought things could not be worse for a wedding then the Hello Kitty wedding dress and Hello Kitty platinum wedding rings, there is the "Hello Kitty Dream Wedding". Seems more like a nightmare than a dream to me.

Yes, the "Hello Kitty Dream Wedding" offers the bride various choices in Hello Kitty wedding dresses (at least the one pictured above is not as ghastly as the one in my previous post). But still, note the fact that Hello Kitty is everywhere in this wedding (the flowers, dress, jewelry, veil, etc.)

Personally? I would have to be heavily sedated/drugged before I would submit to something like that.

I also think that just perhaps, Hello Kitty is on a mission of world domination?

Monday, October 08, 2007

No greater test of love?

Well, there you have it. A Hello Kitty Wedding ring set for bride and groom and a Hello Kitty wedding dress for the bride. Oh my.

Me? I think if a man presented those "gifts" to me as a proposal to marriage, I would probably run away screaming.

I suppose I do admire the practicality of those two items. I think there can be no greater testament of love to a woman as the man who endures his bride in the Hello Kitty wedding dress and gets the his and hers platinum wedding rings. Although at least the rings are somewhat discreet. Too bad the dress isn't.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

I will confess that I like Hello Kitty. But I would also like to emphasize that I like, not love Hello Kitty.

I am not quite sure what to think of the above Hello Kitty corset and outfit. I can't help but wonder and think that just perhaps, this is a genre that Hello Kitty should stay out of, no?

I think it is safe to assume that people will not see me walking around town in this outfit.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Were you close?

It has been a year since my mother passed (September 30, 2006). Dealing with the dreaded "Anniversary Effect" is like dealing with a blow to the head. Somewhat unexpected and hurts like hell.

The anniversary effect has forced my mind to travel down to memories that are painful and somewhat dark. All the events from that time have come flooding back without strenght to deal with them.

Death and the dying process of a loved one is painful to watch. There is one thing that upsets me still and causes confusion is when people ask at a death, "Were you close (to the departed)?"

Eh? What type of question is that to ask the bereaved? I would like to point out that asking the dynamics of a relationship with the dearly departed is making an already painful event more painful. I don't care to discuss relationship dynamics in general with people, and discussing them of the deceased shortly after departure seems like the most inappropriate time possible to ask. Also, who's business is it anyhow? Does death make asking inappropriate deeply personal questions appropriate all of a sudden?

I will state for the sake of this post that my mother and I were not very close at times. In a nutshell, we had very different views about life and at times, we could not be more different from each other. However, she had a fierce love and devotion to her two daughters and would have given her life a thousand times over before allowing any harm to come to her daughters. For me, a mother-daughter bond is very unique and can never be replaced. Nothing can patch the void she has left in me.

If I tell people that my mother and I were not close, does that make me less deserving of sympathy then? Would I be more deserving of sympathy if I tell people that we were close? My worthiness of sympathy and condolesces should not be measured on how close I was to the departed, no?

Death also has a way of making one feel guilty. It is part of the bereavement process. Things left undone and unsaid take a toll on one's mind. You go back in time several times and wish that there are so many things you could have done differently. By asking if you were close to the departed only serves as a painful reminder of things you could have done better. It is like twisting the proverbial knife in one's heart.

I realize that death in our society is uncomfortable process. So much about death and dying seem shielded behind a curtain. We have to look behind this curtain unprepared when death and dying occur. I understand that at times, people are at a loss for words when death occurs. However, a simple, "I am sorry for your loss" is simple, heartfelt, and most of all, appropriate.
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