December 17, 2008

The time has come

I've been talking about it quite a lot.
So here it is:


After the trip to Gliwice, which as I previously mentioned has no Christmas fair and, as far as we could tell, no notable art galleries, today we went to Krakow. Which has a lot more to offer (obviously it does, although I still think it's overrated). For example, a dragon & his cave, a crypt under a church (that we could actually visit and I thought it was so cool because it reminded me of some crappy detective novel I translated once, in which some people were killing some other people six feet under the church, during Sunday mass), fabulous earrings, horses (the first time I was in Krakow I was on the phone with my Mom on the very moment that I entered the main square, and when she asked me how K. was, the first thing I said was "it has horses"), cozy coffee-shops and let's not forget Vistula river, which I kept staring at, with just one thing in mind: it's going to Warsaw.

So after we successfully managed to do absolutely nothing the entire day, walking aimlessly in the streets, chatting and laughing and stopping every time something seemed worth taking a closer look at, Maciek came up with a plan for our next trip to Krakow, which I totally agreed to. But given today's experience, I'd say failure is almost guaranteed (unless we'll be on speed or something) since next time we're supposed to be visiting Wawel Castle, Muzeum Czartoryski, the Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec and make it back to the centre just in time for a performance at the Old Theatre.

Field trips rock!

Back on track

The worst part is now over. The past few days (the past two weeks, actually) have been surprisingly pleasant, and if it's true what they say, that good things come to those who wait, well... it was about freakin' time, after that November I don't really want to think about.
One good reason may be that on Saturday I'm finally going home where I hope I'll no longer be dyslexic (after three months of mixing & matching languages, I do feel the need to take a break), I'll have lots and lots of books to read (without a dictionary), I'll enjoy the pampering I deserve and I'll catch up with all the stories.
But I refuse to think that I'm giving Kato a chance just because I'm leaving it, at least for a while, thus focusing on the bright side as to have some nice memories and stories to share once I get back home. I want to believe I'm giving it a chance because I'm beginning to get used to it, to be part of it. If Warsaw taught me a valuable lesson about falling in love with a city, Katowice is the place that taught me the real meaning of "being fond of". There is no better description for the relationship I've developed with this city. Or, for that matter, with the people here. I'll stop before this post gets really cheesy, and hope I'll soon regain control of my sentimental-melodramatic tendencies (how the hell did they show up in the first place?)

December 15, 2008

Kato events

Yes, I did complain quite a lot because of the lack of events here in Katowice.
Today, something did happen, and even though for a few seconds both me and Maxi thought we were insane / delusional, she double-checked it and we were right: there was an earthquake.
I was quite excited about it (you'd have to live here for more than one month to figure out why an earthquake can be so much fun), and just thought to share my enthusiasm with you.

December 13, 2008

Stranger than fiction

It's not a secret anymore that I've become somewhat obsessed with The Book With No Name. If you still don't know what that is, you either close your browser and never come back here again, or you go back to reading the letter I wrote to the Anonymous author of the book, check out the website, order the book - the English version is available here, or if you're interested in my remarkable Romanian translation, you can find it here.
Last week, when I was still fighting my mild depression, two events considerably helped me improve my condition:

  1. I found in my mailbox The Eye of the Moon, i.e. the follow-up to The Book With No Name, so Sanchez the bartender was back in my life, to set the new standards for the job, to act as a role model, the Bourbon Kid was back, the vampires, the killings, the crazy quest for the precious blue stone. For two days, Iwas the happiest kid in town. That's how long the miracle lasted, but I was still happy when I finished reading, because I knew there's the translation process waiting, so the following months will be totally entertaining, although I must admit that the walks home from the bar are like a shot of adrenaline, since I'm quite sure there's vampires in the woods, and they'll be after me at some point. Especially since a few weeks ago I found in the bar a ring with a huge blue stone, which I took home after a while, since nobody claimed it. We'll have to wait and see.
  2. He read my blog!!!!! He knows I exist! And he called me "a very pleasant lady". Thank you, I think you're pretty cool too (I probably made it very clear by now).
Ladies and gentlemen (drums, lights go dim, smoke) ... ANONYMOUS:

p.s. I would also like to announce the inauguration of a new category which, under the label "Bourbon Kid & co" will keep you all updated with everything related to the books, the author, my translation, the vampires in the woods here in Kato, my blue stone and the teachings of Sanchez put into practice in my very own Tapioca.

Learn Polish with Sam and Bilus

Back in the days when I started learning Polish, when I still had major issues with the aspect of the verb and with the cases, I was also quite impatient and wanted to know everything at once, and lazy enough to organize all the information in the grammar books. So I assumed somebdoy must have put things in order before me, in a simple, user-friendly manner, that would make the learning process easy, fun, fast, to the point, without all the details that grammar books provide and that beginners don't really need, and yet comprehensive. So i found this: the Learn Polish with Bilus blog, which became one of my most important resources in the learning process.
In the meantime, Bilus started his doctorate (his research blog, here), add that to some other projects he already has, and it's quite obvious there was not much time for this blog. So he asked me to join the team, which made me really happy, since I had becme quite fond of this project - as with all beginnings, you remember what was indeed helpful - not to mention it's a great opportunity for me to put some order in the materials I have by now, especially since, as I just confessed, school is not that exciting and resourceful.
So wish me luck :)


Normally, there's two possible reasons for not writing (be it posts on this blog, diary entries, articles, the book, shopping lists, homework, you name it). I'm either uberhappy and busy doing something that keeps me uberhappy, or not so happy, fighting my way out of a mood that might be described as a mild depression. I wasn't exactly uberhappy in this place. After a first month of excitement, discoveries, new people & new places, I found myself somewhat trapped in pattern that resembled very little to what I had pictured before leaving to Poland.
  • school: except for a very cool and entertaining Theory of Literature course, school is not at all challenging. It's not the place to remind me I have a brain that I can actually use. And I hate the Polish language course (which was supposed to be the core structure of my education here), because these people don't really have a method. Plain and simple. And they're against dictionaries, which I think is the dumbest thing ever, since most of the times I need to know the exact meaning of the word, not just some vague definition that's also in Polish. They also appear to like people who are into group activities - singing Polish carols, acting in the Christmas play, all the elementary school crap which I don't give a rat's ass about.
  • work: the tent lost its magic, but gained consistence. I'm somewhat part of it, not just an observer, and that helps documenting the book. It also nurtures my obsession for The Book With No Name and for Sanchez the bartender. But there had to be life outside the tent, as well.
  • my personal projects (the tons of translations, the book about Poland, my final paper, and let's not forget learning Polish) - just couldn't find the energy for them. I knew I had to do something, I just couldn't pull myself together.
But I did. Because I hated this pattern and I hated being so completely miserable. So now I have a new pattern.

  • the library: worth spending time there, especially when there's a paper to be written. I already have the plan (3 pages, in Polish, about the image of Warsaw between the two world wars and in the occupation years, reflected in poetry).
  • new places: Kato is not a bad place in itself, it's just that once in a while you need to get out of it, and that's that. So last week I was in Bielsko-Biala at my first punk-rock concert (Koniec Swiata, which in Polish means the end of the world. Well, if this is how the end of the world looks and sounds, what can I say, full speed ahead!) and then with Asia, Jarek, Adam, Ania and Rafal to a party in an art gallery, which was quite fun despite the not so numerous crowd. It was back then that Ania told me I should stop being depressed and start climbing :) After Bielsko, it was time for Gliwice, which is one of the prettiest cities in the area, even though it does not have a Christmas fair. I think Maciek still hates me for dragging him around the center, in a quest for something that does not exist, but overall the day we spent in Gliwice was so nice that I decided to skip classes. As far as the Christmas fair is concerned, we're going to Krakow on Thursday :)
  • climbing: Ania was right. While trying to figure out my next move up on the wall, with my hands shaking because of the complete lack of excercise (all my life I've been running away from sports, this is the proof that wheels do turn) I couldn't think of how depressed I was. And I couldn't think about it the day after, as well, because I was focused on the new pain sensations that were going through my body, especially my hands. Trafo kicks ass!
  • work: since I found out there is life outside the tent, I've become much happier with my work, which is now just one of the sources of entertainment, not the one and oly source. Again, I've learnt that overdosing (on anything) is not ok.
  • school: I'm not in the Christmas play (I keep thinking about this episode of South Park whenever I hear about the play), I'm not going to the party on Wednesday to sing Polish carols and speak about Christmas traditions in our countries, and they'll probably end up not liking me, but that's ok, since I'm not exactly their #1 fan.
  • the rest of the projects: I did get back to translating, I'm trying to put together some material for the book, and yes, I still love learning Polish, and if school is not the best place for it, then the tent definitely is, and there's also a new project that might just do the trick. I'll be back with the details.

November 2, 2008

Dear Anonymous*,

You are probably not reading my blog, but if there's any chance for this message to get to you in due time, this is it.
I just wanted to let you know that Tapioca exists. In Poland as well, not only in Santa Mondega. We live by the rules of fiction. Everybody knows everybody. We rarely serve coffee, but we keep pace when it comes to beer. People may not have that much gravel in their voices - but this happens mainly because they are the good counterparts of those in Santa Mondega. The place is totally hidden, and it seldomly happens that new people show up. If they accidentally do, they don't make a habit of coming back. And we don't have a bottle of piss under the bar, but this is also because we - the bartenders - are somewhat kinder than Sanchez. And we don't have to be cautios about newcomers. They come and go.
In order for you to fully understand how Tapioca has a Polish version, you have to come visit us. I'd say it's a must... because the Bourbon Kid might find us first, and then there would be nothing left for you to see, and it would really be a pitty.
So I found the perfect opportunity to invite you here: next week, on Friday, we're having a costume party. Which is not related in any way to an eclipse - but here it's mostly dark anyway, and light in the bar is minimal. Still not sure if I'll go for the Catwoman costume like Jessica, or for the clown, like Kacy, or if I come up with some other option. One thing is sure: I will be there, behind the bar. Just in case you show up, I will have the bottle waiting for you. Looking forward to hearing those words - the key words - from a voice that has so much gravel in it that it could fill a pint.
No hard feelings if you don't come. I will assume you've had some prior arrangement. But there are no words to describe my happiness if you did show up. And I'm sure you'll agree with me, and discover the wonders of the Polish Tapioca.
All of my love,
Your biggest fan

Note: If you are reading this and you are not Anonymous but still want to make some sense of this letter, go check out The Book With No Name first.

October 31, 2008

They're here!

So that you know.
And off I go to the forest :)

How it was not meant to be

I think it was about three weeks ago that an add, printed in black&white, caught my eye somewhere in the streets of Katowice. I tend to be even nerdier when in a strange environment (and Katowice three weeks ago was still pretty strange), so I write everything down. I'd even write my own name, just to be on the safe side.
So i wrote this in my little red notebook: "Koncert / punk / Bielsko-Biala, 31-10-2008 / 18:00".
Now Bielsko-Biala is not New York, so how tough can it be to find some punk concert, in the evening, without having the slightest clue where it is? That was the only detail missing from my notebook, and I still can't figure out why I didn't consider that to be important when I took notes in the first place.
Yesterday, I finally decided I should at least know if the concert is in some pub, out in the open air, just to have an idea. It was nowhere to be found, after two hours I gave up and turned to Maxi, if she couldn't find it, then it's probably not real.
But she did. When I came home from the office, the link was waiting. So this is the concert:

Yesterday, after work, before we said goodnite, Pan Janek told me I start work today at 8 (p.m.). I'm sure this should teach me a lesson. At least in terms of taking notes.

October 26, 2008

Me & my forest

This is where I live & work.
On a day like this, the forest is particularly inspiring. The perfect excuse for a long walk in the autumn sun, eating ice-cream (I hate eating ice-cream in summer, it usually melts all the way down the new skirt, but autumn & winter are the best seasons for it), taking pictures, soundtrack powered by Rancid.
Also, the forest is a very good setting for poi spinning, which will probably become part of my daily routine starting next week. Placed the order last night, can't wait to receive the pack :) It almost feels like Christmas.

Courtesy of my Mom

Who knows when to remind me of the really important things in life :) You rock, dude!


My brain is very close to saying "no more". And I'm not the only one. In school we speak Polish but make fun of everything and anything in English, I go to work and speak Polish but I sometimes mistake the szklanka for the kufel and require additional information in English, and since the Silesian dialect has so many German words, I need to reactivate the very basics and try to remember what I've been doing during those German classes in the past year, and then of course I go out with Maxi who is my friend-psychologist-computer doctor and it may happen that she starts speaking German with me, and let's not forget French wich is also highly popular, or Russian for that matter, spoken during class by those people who seem to take Polish for granted just because they were born speaking Russian. Oh, I gave up the idea of taking Spanish courses here, but only because the Spanish Philology Department is in Sosnowiec, not in Katowice, and I'm too lazy now and will probably be too cold in winter to take the trip.
I'm afraid there will come a point when I won't find my words anymore, or make a mixture of my own - I have this theory, that we all have an individual language, in which we know all the words, we don't lack any name for any action or object, and this subjective language is a mixture of all the languages we've learnt. Obviously, for full understanding we can only speak it in front of the mirror, because we won't find a perfect match in somebody else's individual language, so I'm beginning to think Esperanto wasn't such a bad idea after all.

October 25, 2008


Couldn't possibly miss the 12th edition of the Krakow Book Fair, could I? Books, shoes and earrings are, by far, top of my permanent shopping list, so this Saturday smelled like freshly-printed books. One step closer to polishing my Polish :)
Also, set the grounds for a meeting in Warsaw with the edtior-in-chief of Czarne publishing house, so there's plenty of exciting stuff yet to come. And since tonight I'm not working, I'll be on the wagon, writing and reading about writing in Polish.

October 24, 2008

Homesick. Sort of :)

I never thought I'd say that, but I do miss Bucharest. I miss B52 - the music, the people, Ceci's car and out late night drives ("are you not drinking tonight?" / "of course I am, we'll pick the car up tomorrow morning, when we wake up"), our late night talks about well, what else, boys... No need to mention Expirat, with the strangest happenings in the world :) I miss going out to lunch with Vero, who happens to be in Bucharest, so why not have another Cuba Libre and try to make some sense of our hectic lives, I miss Pupi coming home and telling me there's some exhibition opening and we just have to be there. I miss Ana & Gruia, who always know what's cool & hip & worth seeing / doing in the city, our talks about the things we write and the things we are planning to write. I miss going on tour with the boys (it's been a while since I last did that, but nevertheless), I miss the concerts, the parties, Beck's beer, the seaside, to some extent I miss the University and to a bigger extent I miss my classmates and our after-classes beers. I miss Jela and her mysterious ways of understanding how my life goes, her priceless pieces of advice. I miss Mom & Dad, the shopping sprees back in Brasov, Saturday afternoons, family friends, I miss the little ones who will not be that little anymore by the time I go back home, my Granny and her calm voice asking me the same questions over and over again, the two pubs in Brasov with the best bartenders in the world (except for us of course, that is the team in the tent, WE are the best bartenders in the world, there should be a prize for us).
So this is what I don't have anymore, at least not in the way I used to. But I'll be back, sharing the cool things that I do have here, and that I already know I'll miss when this year is over.

I'd be perfect

if I understood at least 10% of the male brain.

October 22, 2008

The city, the morning sun, the present

So it's not Krakow (which by the way I visited and I wasn't as impresed as people were telling me I'd be), but it's still nice and cozy and already feels like home. OK, so it's mostly about the people, not about the places, I admit, but the places are also cool, not in the tres chic way of being cool, but nevertheless cool. Right?

My mornings. All mine. Due to the stupid terms of my scholarship agreement, I can do whatever I want. And all I wanted was to enjoy my mornings. To the fullest.

Oh, the joy! Isn't this sweet? Happy happy me :)

I love my job

I love it so much, that I might actually reconsider my academic career. Today I asked the big question about the program, how we work, if we have shifts or days to be in the office and days out of the office. And Jacek told me we have no system, and as confusing as it was on the spot, I felt really happy deep down inside. This is the opportunity of a lifetime - you never know what tomorrow may bring. So my future employers will have to work really hard to be as cool as my current employers.
And then late at night I sat down and had a beer with the guys and made plans for Saturday.
Fieldtrip, fieldtrip, fieldtrip fairy princess :)

October 19, 2008

Let's pick it up from here

So I'm in Poland, for almost one month now. Having surpassed the crappy parts that any major change involves (confusion, moving in and out and in and out, fixing the internet connection), having discovered by now the really cool parts that any major change involves (the beautiful people, the sweet satisfaction when things start going the way they should), I say we pick up the pieces from here:
  • I go to school. Almost on a daily basis, Fridays are off because... well, Fridays are somewhat of a weekend, right? Oh, and also Tuesdays, they bring bad luck, so I'd rather focus on indoor activities. For the rest of it, I take Polish language classes, Theory of Literatue and a Linguistics course, which is my totally favourite, since it deals with the tendencies in contemporary language, most common mistakes, trends and rules.
  • I go to work. This is my parallel universe. Firstly, I've seen my dream come true. Yaay, I work in a bar. Actually, I work in a tent. Which is one of the coolest bars I've ever seen - and by now I do have some experience. It's in the forest. Everybody knows everybody. By now, everybody knows me and I know everybody. I've learnt how to prepare hot beer with honey, parpika and cinnamon.
  • I've (somewhat) lost my sense of fashion, didn't lose interest - hope this doesn't really happen. The main reason, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. It's f***ing cold. So I wear about half of my wardrobe, daily. I pretty much look like Yeti's offspring, dressed up as a cabbage. And it's only October.
  • I've been writing. A lot. More than ever in the past few years. And I'm pretty content with the result. Although it's a long way to the final result, but I can see it coming.
  • I have some other projects. Again, I probably took a bite bigger than I can chew. But luckily there's enough energy to keep me on track.
I'll be back shortly. Now off I go to do some studying and get ready for another day at the office :)

September 4, 2008

Kaiser Karl

Karl is watching us, demode ones. A guide to life, here. Wonderful.

Also, Karl worries about our safety. Especially when driving. Fashion faux pas becomes acceptable... sort of :)

Let's cause a scene

Only 20 days left to go. 20 days until my life changes completely. Long-term. I’ve been dreaming about this moment for two years now, and somehow moving to Poland still sounds too good to be true. But despite the fabulous future awaiting for me (it is, after all, my dream coming true), I can’t help feeling nostalgic.
The more I think about it, the more I realize it would be best if I could squeeze my girls somewhere in the luggage, although that would mean less pairs of shoes for the new roads to be walked. I know I’ll miss them now more than ever. Because they rock. And they’re also irreplaceable. And colorful. And loud. And creative. And obsessive (psychotic sometimes). And I don’t want to hear the shit about planes and cars and trains and phones and skype calls and e-mails – I will accept all these, eventually, as the next best thing – but at the time being I’m still in deep mourning over our Friday nights, our spontaneous trips, our styling sessions (who’s gonna cut my hair, by the way?), our late night talks and scenarios, our hysterical, endless laughter.
I’ll miss the seaside. I didn’t get a proper chance to say goodbye to the sea, to inform her we won’t meet again in December, or on the 1st of May, for that matter, so this is me breaking a personal tradition with an unusual longevity. Of course, the clubs. Sure, Poland has tons of them, still to be explored, loved, squatted and eventually hated. Probably. At this point, they’re just a bunch of abstractions.
One question still remains unanswered. And since the place where this question (quite an old one) usually finds its answer will be closed until Ocotber, there’s quite a possibility I’ll be boarding with some home-made dilemmas, for the sake of complicating my life instead of keeping it simple. For the rest of it, emotional evaluations are not to be discussed. This summer has been mostly about closed chapters. I would have done it earlier but, as I recalled, it was not an easy task. Actually, it only takes a little practice.
But despite closing so many chapters, there’s still so many of them remaining open, so I guess I’m just being concerned about not working hard enough to prevent them from closing under the pressure of time. Or distance. Or both of them.

August 16, 2008

Time for a swim...

... down by the sea. There's nothing I love more than last minute decisions that you don't ponder over. By this time tomorrow, I'll have had a close encounter with the sun, and a fair amount of salt on my skin. Light travel, light thoughts :)

August 15, 2008

Work is something you do, not somewhere you go

Politics has never been one of my top-rated fields of interest . Aliens and ufology didn't rank high, either.
Apparently, their combination works just fine for me. Immersed in Christopher Buckley's Little Green Men, my life has moved to Washington D.C. in the past few days, revealing the mysteries behind top-secret, government-instrumented alien abductions.

The plot-line is simple: since 1947, a top secret organization, called MJ-12, has had one mission - convincing American citizens that there is something out there... and they're trying to reach us. Things get complicated when one of the abductees is the most popular media personality of the day. And he's willing to do anything to convince Americans that the aliens have landed. The combination of absurd plot and witty humor is just wonderful.
Fiction always does the trick, and translating pretty much borders writing - finding the right words, trying to figure out what the author might have said if he could have said it in another language. The kind of work I might not get bored with. At least not in the foreseeable future.
It kind of reminds me of school projects, with all the dictionaries, notebooks, post-its and research involved (by the way, I miss school a whole lot. This is the symptom of mid-summer holiday, feeling like I've had enough spare time on my hands and waiting to get back in business). Unlike school projects, however, working with books gets me more involved. The novel I've translated before Buckley was a wonderful parody of all literary genres, with all the conceivable amount of blood, bourbon, a quest for a blue stone that holds magic powers, freaky characters and a good laughter, all set in the spooky town of Santa Mondega, home of the undead, where the only things not allowed are not smoking and not drinking. It's been a few months now since the book's been published, and I still crave for a triple bourbon every now and then, not to mention my decision of working, at least for a while, in a bar - more or less similar to the filthy Tapioca Bar, where Sanchez would serve a glass of piss to any of the new faces in town, or to the strangers who just don't look strange enough.
Hopefully, by the time I'm done with the little green men, I won't change my career options and decide NASA is the place for me.

August 12, 2008

Elf power

It may be that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. However, standardized beauty is a matter of pixels, color schemes and carefully selected tools. Likewise, my ideal of beauty is only achievable, at least at this stage, by means of photoshop. Which took over my life in the past few days, making me speed up everything else just to have some spare time, at the end of the day, to explore its magic. Sick. The bottom line is that I've been dreaming of being an elf. Didn't seriously consider surgery, and that just partly solves the problem. So today I started elfing myself. Not in front of the mirror, but in front of the screen. I'm (almost) halfway there.
Coming soon, my new and improved version :)

August 11, 2008

Yay! Planning :)

With the parents away on vacation, a household to take care of, a Granny to look after from time to time, tons of paperwork to manage until I leave to Poland, a novel that's not going to translate itself while laying on my desk, an inbox full of unread messages (most of them requiring not only reading, but also a reply of some sort) and at least two trips to plan, things are beginning to look busy. In other words, better. The time has come to make lists, to prioritize, to freak out, for the time being in the nice, productive, not harmful way.
It's reconfirmed. I work better under pressure. Typical. Pushing myself towards the edge of the cliff, waiting (and sometimes whining) until I run out of time, until all deadlines are so close that I feel I won't make it. And then pulling myself together, speeding up and checking all items on the list(s).
I'll soon be in a desperate need for a holiday, which I'll have to carefully plan, since the best case scenario only allows about two days off :)
Note to self (1): paperwork, especially when it involves the university, the dean and the secretaries, takes time. If it's August and everybody's away, it takes even longer.
Note to self (2): deadlines were invented for a reason - meeting them.

August 9, 2008

Someday soon

Crawling towards my happy self. Actually, took quite a big step today, been nice to people, smiled a lot, bought three pairs of shoes, drove around in the family car listening to Johnny Cash, chattered with the girls and avoided going out on the balcony... that balcony where this whole mess was blown out of proportion.
It's only a matter of time until I'm fully back on track.
That is, of course, if I can handle Sunday afternoon. I was never very good at this, and never saw the point of Sunday afternoons.

August 8, 2008

My American Dream

This is the cold hard truth I've only recently become fully aware of. Before, I'd just blame it on coincidence. But coincidence can hardly explain how and why, despite my European background, my (sometimes obsessive) love for some parts of Europe, I'm still the kid of American culture. Which, by the way, I never experienced directly.

I grew up with Jack Kerouac, fantasizing about the endless road and its possibilities, about the magic of light travelling and light thoughts, with Richard Brautigan, Kurt Vonnegut, Tim Leary and his Politics of Ecstasy, discovered poetry thanks to Pound, William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg and e.e.cummings. For about two years, I've lived with a strange nostalgia of Max Yasgur's farm and those three days of peace and music. Later on, the feeling transfered to CBGB & the good life provided by punk. Rrrrright... a radical twist. But hey, that's part of the growing up process :) I've dreamed about having my very own pick-up truck, pictured myself as a retro-housewife - yeah, that was me being delusional, but I still think the '50s rock (and roll), I even started mixing apple pie and ice cream because of Kerouac. My heroes: James Dean, the Marlboro guy, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, Andy Warhol. The places to be: Route 66, New York, Chelsea Hotel. Is there any need to mention South Park, again? I suspect that my somewhat sick attraction towards crappy, insalubrious motels is also American. I've outgrown some of the influences. I've adapted others, reshaped them, and accepted them as part of my present life. Others suffered no change. But no matter what happened to them throughout the years, they're still here. All of them. And I have a feeling some of them are here to stay.

p.s. Managed to keep a safe distance from fast foods, Coca Cola and (partly) Hollywood. Does this make my American dream less dreamful?

August 7, 2008

Bedtime story

The only way to overcome sadness is to come to terms with its full consumption.

Survival kit

The first option was doing nothing, watching the days and nights go by. It worked for about one week, and then I got bored. I also overdosed on cigarettes, so I had to cut down on my smoking. This brought about the worse possible mood mixture in history: depression and boredom. I never actually knew how to fight them one at a time, not to mention the two of them combined. So I started a quest for remedies. Reading. Many thanks to Kundera, Milosz, Jonathan Safran Foer and Andrew Cowan. Helpful, but not helpful enough. Movies. Wajda's movies. Watched almost all of them. Not the best choice, under the circumstances. Beer. Ice cream. Going out. Dying my hair. Cutting my hair. Endless talks with my girls. This summer is not the best for any of us. Spent half a day watching a documentary on the Warsaw Uprising. Spent the other half reading about the second world war and listening to my Granny's stories about the war. Again, not the best choice. Cleaning my desk, my wardrobe, my files and folders. Planning and thinking ahead. But it's too early for the future. Writing. Learning photoshop. Still didn't work, but at least it was funnier than the war. Polish grammar (ok, so could we please make the numeral a bit simpler?!). South Park. Re-re-reruns. World of Warcraft. Shopping (this used to be another wonderful addiction. Hope my dissatisfaction is just temporary). There's one other thing I might try. Should try: working. I'm totally running out of time, changed the deadline, gained some more time, still have something like 100 pages and one month to translate them. The quest will continue for another day or so. Then I'll probably get bored.

August 5, 2008

Addicted?! Who, me?

Ceci was the first one to mention it. To say it out loud. "Dude, you need therapy". At first, I thought she was just being funny, although therapy is hardly ever fun (of course, there are exceptions which we might talk about later on), but then again she sometimes has her strange ways. Only this time she really meant what she said. And I had to admit that, to an extent, she was right.
It goes like this.
I don't particularly enjoy mornings, hence my grumpiness and low energy level. Actually, there's about enough energy to power two crucial things: making coffee and turning on my computer. Whichever comes first. And then it takes something like half an hour to be fully awake and functional. Coffee does not fall under the "addiction" category, it's just coffee and that makes it vital. Being online, well... that's a different story. It's not vital, it's not even a necessity every morning. It's just something I have to do. It might happen that I completely ignore my computer after making sure I'm online, but if I'm not, then hell breaks loose. That's the guarantee of a pretty screwed up day. And if the problem persists, there's a nervous breakdown guaranteed before I contact the network administrator. Who, most likely, is in for a screwed up day as well
In the past five years, there have been quite a few places that were to become "home". Short or long term. And the first few days were, with no exception, awful. Guess why? There was always some sort of a problem with the internet connection. I used to think home is where your playlist is. Then I figured out home is where you are successfully signed in. No matter how excited I was about moving, decorating, shopping as if there was no tomorrow, having housewarming parties and sleepovers, my fun was ruined by this one major absence. I would postpone work, school projects, I would have postponed life itself until I was online.
Last month, while still struggling with the very basics of Polish, I've managed to enrich my vocabulary with technical terms and set up a network under the supervision of a network administrator who obviously only spoke Polish. Having to purchase a cable (one of the basic conditions in being connected), I became familiar with different types of cables, which was not spectacular in itself, if we leave aside the fact that it also happened in Polish... my survival & elementary Polish. The process was abnormally long and tiring, so in the meantime I got to know all the pubs, cafes and restaurants where I could enjoy the benefits of wireless connection. I was one of their most faithful customers.
There's something odd about my addiction. It's not like I'm the kind of computer wizz-kid who's into the newest, hottest, trendiest technologies, gadgets and internet goodies. Some of them are just another foreign language, about others I don't have the slightest clue, and there's sooooo many that don't even exist for me. So basically, I just have to be online. And then I can carry on with my life.
And yes, I have other addictions. South Park. Can't really fall asleep without at least one episode. Lip balm. Using it about 30 times a day. Cigarettes. Tried to quit, managed for one month. I still stick to my idea that coffee does not count as an addiction.

August 4, 2008

The big picture

Sometimes being in a relationship is like trying to run a marathon handcuffed to someone in rollerblades.

Falling in love with Warsaw. The story reloaded

It almost felt like I’ve only been gone on a holiday. A longer one, but nevertheless a holiday. Warsaw still seemed so strangely familiar, that I kept living with the impression I never actually left. Two years ago, I fell in love with Warsaw. It was the kind of love that’s beyond words and has no reasonable explanation. Up to this date, I can’t answer the simple questions why Polish? why Warsaw? Not that I analyzed it too much. One month was more than enough to swipe me off my feet. Come to think about it, I had all the symptoms: butterflies and hurricanes, sleepless nights without grumpy mornings, light thoughts and bright smiles. I even cried when it was over. For some reason, this was the only place where I’ve remembered how it feels to feel secure. When I was about 5, I used to walk a lot with my Dad. We don’t do that anymore, since now we mostly take the car, even if it’s not always necessary. And now we don’t hold hands anymore. Even if we did, I’ve lost that feeling of security that holding hands with him used to give me when I was still a little girl. Somehow, I remembered that feeling, although couldn’t name it from the very beginning, when coming to Warsaw. It was almost as if the city took me by the hand and made me feel secure again. And happy. The mere happiness that requires no further arguments.
It so happened that this year some people in advertising figured out they might talk others into falling in love with Warsaw. There’s one message you can’t ignore once you’re out in the streets: zakochaj się w Warszawie. On buses, flyers, posters all over the place, touristic guides and maps, basically everywhere. The people responsible for this should have used me as a poster child. I’m pretty damn sure the result they want to achieve is very similar to what I’m going through.
For reasons beyond my will, my body had to leave Poland for a month-and-something. The brain & heart chose to remain there. The body was on the edge of a depression. It was smoking inertly out on the balcony, hoping time would just pass by. There was not much to do, nothing that could compensate, at least partly, the brutal break up with the city. The brain & heart are doing just fine, thank you.


This summer I moved back to my parents’ place. It feels a bit awkward coming back home after more than five years. Even though I knew from the very beginning it would be just for a few months, I still felt like an intruder. Invading the privacy of the 17-year old who lived here, who dyed the walls in bright orange, kept dry flowers hanging from the ceiling, collected old postcards and sea shells and recorded her life in colorful notebooks. The only things we still have in common are the colorful notebooks. Apparently, we both thought diaries are only worth writing if the covers are pretty. There was no way to reason with her and refurbish the room, and actually I gave up on that idea pretty fast, this was her own private space and it made no sense trying to change it for the sake of my three months spent here. So I stacked my books where there was still room, dropped somewhere on the floor the boxes that were not be reopened in the near future (she doesn’t seem to mind the newly created chaos), convinced her to change her taste in music so that we’d share my playlist for a while and piled up my clothes in her wardrobe.
One late evening, I stumbled across the box where she kept her old diaries. The hours that followed were some of the most enjoyable I’ve had lately. There’s really no better proof of the growing up process than discovering the process itself, recorded step by step. In the morning, I woke up somewhat confused, guilty of having abused her memories that, in some way, resembled very much to my own.