Thursday, March 31, 2011

April 1st : Elevators and Me, Part Two

When we moved into our 1st apartment in the City, our dirty, stinky 1970’s apartment building without a 90 degree angle in sight, I was excited to find that we had an elevator,well, 2 elevators exactly. In my world, elevators are cool and our building had 2 stairways and 2 elevators and 2 sets of intercoms. Wow! Ameryka!

“Our” elevator exited right outside our apartment door. It was smaller than the other elevator. The other elevator (down the hall from us) was large and had one large door, you opened and closed by hand. There was no sliding automatic door. “Our” elevator was considerably smaller and had a series of doors. You opened the first door by hand, stepped in, the first door slamming behind you. Next, you had to close another set of double doors and press your floor and …usually nothing happened…because the interior doors almost never closed right. You usually had to hold them shut with your hands. Not that there was any danger that they would open and you would fall out, but if they were not closed properly you wouldn’t go anywhere.

My traveling on the lift usually looked like this. I got through the first door, then closed the second doors behind me and held them shut. I pressed the button for my floor and….nothing. I opened and closed the doors again, pressed the button and nothing and so on and so on in some compulsive-obsessive ritual until I finally gave up and walked to the 7th floor. Finally, I just gave up on the lift altogether and walked to the 7th floor (which had its own perils as our apartment building was a popular haven for the homeless…another post, another time).

Early one morning, I decided to pop to the store downstairs to buy something for Misiu and me for breakfast. On my way back, full of morning optimism, I decided to take the lift (or maybe I was just afraid the homeless people I stepped over on the way down the stairs wouldn’t appreciate me stepping over them again on the way back up). The same procedure as always, doors closed, hold shut with hand, press button and miracle of miracles, I’m going up, up I tell you! And then the lift stops…but not at my floor, well, almost at my floor, actually between the 6th and the 7th floors. I ritually open and close the doors, hold them with my hands and press some buttons. Then the lights go out and I cannot see what buttons I’m pressing. I pressed them all, one after another, until I located the alarm bell, which is just that, a little bell inside the lift which serves to do nothing more than to notify you, the person already stuck in the lift, that you are in fact stuck in the lift. The bell was pretty loud though and our apartment was not far away so I decided to ring and ring and ring. Nothing. I wasn’t going to be saved by the bell this time. I began pressing each button and manipulating the doors. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the elevator starting moving again and deposited me back where I had started on the ground floor.

As I walked back up to the 7th floor even the homeless people catching the look on my face got out of my way. I walked into our kitchen and slammed my shopping onto the kitchen table to which hungry Misiu asked, “What took you so long?” I growled back at him, that I had been stuck in the lift. He laughed, “All this time. Yeah, right.” I implored, “I really was. Didn’t you hear me ringing?” “That was you?” he asked disbelievingly. “I wondered what that ringing was.” “That was me,” I said defeated. “Really?” he asked again. “Yes,” I answered exasperated. “What did you think I was doing?” “Well,” he started, “it is April Fool’s Day. I thought maybe it was a joke.”

Happy April Fool’s Day

Here’s Part One of the elevator saga – Elevators and Me – Windy i Ja

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Too shy, shy

Last night I spent my evening blowing my nose like crazy and coughing enough to hack up a lung – pre-school virus. I hope you all spent your Saturday night in a much more entertaining way.

I also had a run through all the channels to check what was on and settled in on MTV’s One Hit Wonders from the '80’s. As I remember the '80’s from the first time around, a lot of memories of childhood came flooding back as I listened to those old hits. I also like to watch those kinds of programs with Misiu and hear his memories of the 80’s. We have a lot of similar memories and excluding one crucial potassium iodide incident, you’d hardly suppose we’d been brought up on different continents. Oh, the uniting influence of pop music.

My favorite video from last night’s line-up was Kajagoogoo’s hit “Too Shy”. Who could forget that song? (Who could figure out what they were actually singing?) And who could forget Limahl’s hair?

Misiu has a memory connected to this characteristic hairstyle…and no, he did not wear this style himself, but an older boy from the village did. Can you imagine what an influence music has that young boys in England, in the US, in Poland and all around the world were sporting the same crazy hair-do after one hit video. So it was not Misiu who was sporting this do but rather his friend Tadek. Misiu to this day is convinced that Tadek, armed with his Limahl hair, was able to single-handedly score all the chicks from DDR (Eastern Germany) who were in Poland on kolonia (camp).

Who could resist?

PS Do you know Shakin’ Steven’s song “Kła czas tu lulbe”? No? You’ve never heard Misiu’s friend Danka’s version? The actual title is…..??? Anybody venture a guess?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I guess Polish really is hard, even for the Poles ;)

In case you haven’t heard, Poland has suffered a serious spelling gaffe, by our President none the less.

Here’s what happened. President Bronisław Komorowski and wife wrote an entry in the book of condolences at the Japanese Embassy. He wanted to write that Poland connects with Japan in pain and in hope which should be “w bólu i nadziei” but instead he wrote “w bulu i nadzieji”.

What can I say? Even I know how to spell these words in Polish. President Komorowski responded in the only way he could. He apologized and has corrected his entry. He did also add a little dig at Kaczyński (opposing party) claiming that Kaczyński writes “obiad” (dinner) as “obiat”, but overall his apology was genuine.

Here’s my question: Why do Poles even have spelling problems? Excluding a few letters which have interchangeable pronunciation “u,ó” for example, Polish is completely phonetic. Sorry Polish people, I have to explain this to our English speaking friends who have suffered through years and years of spelling tests and spelling bees trying to figure out if it should be “so” or “sow” or “roofs” or “rooves”. Listen to me English folks…in Polish if you know how to say a word properly, you should be able to write it properly as well, with little to no interpretation. No homophones. Can you imagine that? English speaking people should make spelling mistakes. Our language is completely messed up.

Now back to the President’s mistake. Just how big of a mistake was it? You know, after 8 years of George W. I have a pretty high threshold for presidential gaffes but for those of you who do not know Polish, I will try to explain the extent of the humiliation. It is like if in one official letter, the President wrote, umm, I don’t know “definately” (instead of “definitely”) and, umm, I don’t know, “ejucation” (instead of “education”). Ok, the “ejucation” example is maybe a little harsh, but it is taken from reality**.

parody of the President from Szymon Majewski Show

Spelling mistakes really get on my nerves (of course when made by others). I was interested in looking at some terraced houses being built close to our place until I saw the price :) and the billboard advertising “wysoki standart” (high standard) instead of “wysoki standard”. With an ad like that you are just shooting yourself in the foot from the get go.

One of my students who is infamously unpleasant to all (to me as well) writes “ktury” instead of “który”. It was my pure pleasure to point it out to him. Normally I wouldn’t have said anything but it was right after he very strongly criticized my Polish skills. Revenge is sweet.

** This is taken from a real life example of a classmate of mine from university. We were asked to exchange compositions in English Literature class before handing them in. My classmate’s paper was entitled, “The American Ejucation System” or something like that. It was in no way his attempt at irony, believe me. I told him to take a look at “ejucation” and he slapped his forehead and said “Of course” to which he promptly changed it to “Ejucational”. Problem solved.

PS Here’s a link to an old post of mine about the Polish language – Polish is hard. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Women’s Day – Dzień Kobiet

carnations,flower head,flowers,leaves,mothers day,nature,petals,reds,ribbons,tiedSo, I received my obligatory Women’s Day carnation from one of my student’s, the President of one of the companies where I teach.

He decided to drop it “old school” and with a large group of gentlemen traveled around the company delivering carnations, good wishes and the triple Polish cheek kiss to all ladies of the company. I wasn’t complaining.

This is the same man who last week on Fat Thursday ate 3 doughnuts during the lesson and told the secretaries that I had eaten them. He’s a charmer :)

Here are some old thoughts on Women’s Day and Fat Thursday.

Dzień Kobiet

No więc otrzymałam obowiązkowe goździki na Dzień Kobiet od jednego z moich uczniów, prezesa jednej z firm, gdzie uczę.

Postanowił zrobić to OLD-SCHOOLOWO i wraz z wielką grupą dżentelmenów krążył po firmie wręczając goździki, życzenia wszystkiego najlepszego i potrójny polski pocałunek w policzki wszystkich pań w firmie. Ja nie narzekałam.

To ten sam facet, który w zeszłym tygodniu w Tłusty Czwartek zjadł 3 pączki podczas lekcji i powiedział sekretarce, że ja je zjadłam. On jest czarujący :)

Oto kilka starych myśli na Dzień Kobiet i Tłusty Czwartek.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

This Is My Year - To Jest Mój Rok

2011 is going to be “The Year of Chris”.

My resolutions are going very well, thank you very much. In fact they are going better and better each day. Ok, it is March already, but I psyched myself out this year by starting my resolutions in November. The plan was that by January I would either have 2 months of success behind me and hit the ground running in 2011 or that I would have 2 months of failure behind me and I could start anew in 2011. Thank goodness the former (and not the latter) is true. It has also helped that this year I have made resolutions of things I am going to do more of (rather than things I want to stop doing). I am feeling optimistic.

I have made some plans for the whole year – not too restrictive but not too loosey-goosey either. I used to have a student who made a 1-year plan, a 3-year plan, a 5-year plan, etc. and I thought she was crazy. Now, I feel that some kind of goal identification and planning really helps prevent bumbling through life. I don’t want to be a bumbler.

My children are growing and learning everyday. They are happy, healthy and optimistic little girls. 2011 is going to be a great year for them. Last month, they attended a fantastic birthday party of Lizzie’s best friend. They had so much fun and it was a pleasure to watch the children play together. Soon, they will be celebrating their own birthdays and then Easter. We have wonderful plans for planting some flowers and vegetables in our garden in the springtime. Rosie will start pre-school in September. My parents might visit us – fingers crossed. So much is going on.

iCLIPART, turtle, colorful, goggles, disco, happySome companies have contacted me about working with them and I have a lot of new contacts to get working on. Something good has to come out of it. Anyhow, somebody contacted me about working and not the other way around. That hasn’t happened in about 3 years. Was it the crisis? Who knows, but I have high hopes that things are turning around.

All in all, things are looking up.

It’s my year.

PS And to Misiu! I think it is going to be your year too.

To Jest Mój Rok

2011 będzie "Rokiem Chris ".

Moje postanowienia noworoczne idą bardzo dobrze, dziękuję bardzo. Tak naprawdę codziennie jest coraz lepiej. Ok, jest już marzec, ale psychicznie tak się nastawiłam, że zaczęłam moje postanowienia już w listopadzie. Plan był taki, żbackgrounds,concepts,daisies,flowers,NVTOfficeClips,patterns,smileys,wallpaperse w styczniu będą już za mną 2 miesiące sukcesu kiedy wejdę z hukiem w nowy rok 2011 albo też będą za mną 2 nieudane miesiące i będę mogła zacząć od nowa w 2011 roku. Dzięki Bogu, że sprawdziło się to pierwsze (a nie to drugie). Pomogło również to, że w tym roku postanowiłam sobie zrobić czegoś więcej (aniżeli przestać coś robić). Czuję się optymistyczne.

Zrobiłam pewne plany na cały rok - niezbyt restrykcyjne, ale też nie za luzackie. Miałam kiedyś uczennicę, która miała plan roczny, plan 3-letni, plan 5-letni itd., a ja myślałam, że jest szalona. Teraz czuję, że pewnego rodzaju identyfikacja celu i planowanie naprawdę pomagają zapobiegać przebimbaniu całego życia. Nie chcę być życiową niedorajdą.

Moje dzieci rosną i uczą się każdego dnia. Są szczęśliwymi, zdrowymi i optymistycznymi dziewczynkami. 2011 będzie świetnym rokiem dla nich. W zeszłym miesiącu wzięły udział w fantastycznej imprezie urodzinowej najlepszej przyjaciółki Lizzie. Było naprawdę dużo fajnej zabawy i to była sama przyjemność oglądać jak dzieci bawią się razem. Wkrótce będą świętować swoje urodziny, a później Wielkanoc. Mamy wspaniałe plany, żeby posadzić w ogrodzie kwiaty i warzywa na wiosnę. Rosie rozpocznie przedszkole we wrześniu. Być może odwiedzą nas moi rodzice – trzymam kciuki. Tak wiele się dzieje.

chimneys,clouds,concepts,environmental conservation,factories,flowers,greens,industries,iStockphoto,nature,pollutionsNiektóre firmy skontaktowały się ze mną w sprawie współpracy z nimi i mam dużo nowych kontaktów, nad którymi muszę popracować. Coś dobrego musi z tego wyniknąć. Tak czy inaczej, ktoś kontaktuje się ze mną, a nie odwrotnie. Tak się nie działo od około 3 lat. Czy był to kryzys? Kto wie, ale mam nadzieję, że wszystko się odwraca.

W sumie wszystko wygląda pozytywnie.

To jest mój rok.

PS A Misiu! Myślę, że to będzie też twój rok.