The Botosani Philharmonic

Yesterday I traveled to the city of Botosani which is the county seat of Botosani county in the plains of north-east Moldova. Romanians from other counties treat Botosani like Americans treat Arkansas. There are numerous jokes concerning the poor driving of Botosanites and their living in Romania's reserve county.
Despite these deprecations, Botosani has a soccer team, an almost 24 hour marketplace, a pizza place run by an actual Italian and a Philharmonic.
Last night I went to the Philharmonic with a couple of volunteers who work in the reserve counties seat.
We filed into our faded dusty-rose velour covered square seats with the soundtrack of musicians warming up behind the stage.
Soon the members of the Philharmonic paraded on stage and took their seats, playing a few more practice cords while waiting for the conductor.
The conductor was Ilarion Ionescu-Galati. He walked onto the old wooden platform, stooped with a slight limp-twitch in his right leg, silver haired. He wore a dark maroon jacket. It was laced to halfway up his neck with black kimono-style buttons. Around his neck was a short bolo tie and the material widened into puffed sleeves at the shoulder. Anne of Green Gables might be jealous of this man's sleeves. Domnul Ionescu-Galati pulled off the look and made it distinguished to boot.
The musicians were talented, the conductor gracious, and the solo cellist danced his head to the music that was smoothly flowing from his bow.
I often listen to classical music on my laptop. It is a different experience to see the music, not coming from a battered square silver box, but from a multitude of delicate wooden instruments and horse hairs. Twenty bows going up down up down in unison.


Doamne de Engleza

I was gingerly walking home on the icy road on Tuesday when I passed a few seven year olds milling around in front of a neighbor's house, each standing next to a flexible-flyer type sled. As I passed by, they respectfully saluted me
"sarut mana"
"buna ziua" I responded as I walked by.
Behind me I heard whisperings. "Uite. Asta e profesoara de Engleza." (That's the English teacher).
"Nu. nu cred." ( No. I don't believe you)
"ba da" (is too)
By now I was several meters in front of the children and I heard them pick up their pace, their sleds' scraping-on-ice noises becoming louder.
"Buna" said one of the boys, who I recognized as one of my kindergarten students, Ionuti.
"Buna ziua. Ce faci?" (Hello, what are you doing?)
"Mergem cu sanie." (we're going sledding)
"Pe parte dreapte sau pe parte stange?" (Towards the right or left fork of the road?)
By now, all three are walking abreast with me.
"Pe dreapta" (to the right)
"E bine acolo" (it's good over there).
I continue my small talk until I reach my gate. "Distractia placuta" (have a good time), I tell them, as I start to turn towards my driveway.
"Doamna, el nu ma crede ca esti Doamna de engleza" (Mrs, he doesn't believe me that you are the English Misses) my kindergarten student blurts out.
I look at the doubting thomas. "Sunt Doamna de Engleza" (I am the English Misses).
Ionuti looks at me with satisfaction and turns up the hill with his sled and his friends.



Applying for graduate school is like fishing for a frog prince. I spend hours casting my google searches until I find a school that I fall in love with and imagine myself meandering across the campus grounds so beautifully photographed on the welcome page. I painstakingly give them my detailed information, find contact information for various references and write an eloquent but honest personal statement about how certain classes on the course schedule would fit my exact needs and desires. But will the frog turn into a prince?
So in my uncertainty, I turn back to the sea of google...