Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I’m a liar, baby.

I don’t usual lie. If I’m late because of traffic, I’ll say it. If I’m late because I took too long in the bathroom, I’ll say it too. I wouldn’t lie just for the heck of it but…

What should you do when the new IT specialists from India (who haven’t signed their contracts yet and are looking to do a runner back to India) ask about the weather in Poland?

You lie.

You stand in front of the big, glass windows in the conference room overlooking a –5° C day with snow that hasn’t stopped falling for 3 days and you lie.


What? This weather? Highly unusual for this part of Poland. This is the warmest part of the country (the only truth in my sea of lies). Just ask anybody (but not Mr. Leszek who is just dying to tell you that it is supposed to drop to –11°C at night) . It’s due to warm up next week or the week after that. Really. Don’t worry about it. This is the worst it’ll get this winter. Spring’s right around the corner…

I know, liar, liar, pants on fire.

But you know what happened? It warmed up! Lo and behold a warm front has moved in to melt all the snow…just in time for my kids’ winter break. Considering the great winter-break thaw, maybe I’m not a liar. Maybe I’m a prophet. There was a rainbow (A RAINBOW!) outside my window during my last lesson today for goodness’ sake. Ok, so maybe I’m not a prophet. Maybe I’d just reached my karmic quota of lies told and the universe decided to give me a break.

Anyhow, if it is any consolation (for my deceitful ways) not one but two of my university spring breaks were snowed out. I mean real, live, bona fide blizzards. I managed to dig myself out just in time to go back to school.

Now, in honor of truth-telling, I feel I must tell you that I am going to pour myself a glass of red wine even though it isn’t even 3:00 pm. And in honor of truth telling, I can tell you that that wine was brewed in the bathroom of my student’s penthouse apartment in a very, exclusive neighborhood. And in honor of all the truth-telling, I can tell you that I had planned to cook bigos and use the wine for the bigos but considering, quite honestly, that I haven’t bought even a single ingredient for the bigos and you can’t even really eat the bigos the first day, I am just going to drink the wine. All of it.

Bottoms up to me on this cold, wintery day. Damn it! On this warm, wintery day.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Hello world. It’s me, Chris.

I exist. I may be insignificant among all those who exist, have ever existed or shall exist, but I exist. I live. I breathe. I absorb energy. I exert energy. Sometimes, I even move and speak. So maybe you have never seen me, but somebody has to write all this stuff, nie?

I was beginning to think that I am invisible. And I don’t mean figuratively invisible as in “Whoa as me. There’s no place in society for a woman my age”. No, not like that. I was beginning to think that I am literally invisible – as in POOF! Where’s she gone? –invisible. Why? Because in a 24-hour period I have had road salt thrown on me from the front (yummy), sidewalk sand thrown on me from behind and then I was plowed over by a lady running to catch the bus in the morning. No “przepraszam’s. No “sorki’s”. Nothing.

But after this morning I guess I am not so invisible. It is amazing how a smile and a one-word invitation, “Kawa?” from a gentleman on the street can make you suddenly feel visible again. My existence has been reinforced. Even if my reply was a demure, “Dziękuje, ale nie.” (And yes, I did look behind me to make sure he was talking to me.)

Disappointed? What should I have said? I cannot go for a coffee with you because…
I’m married?
I have 2 children?
I just may be old enough to be your mother?
I’m due at work in less than 10 minutes?
I’ve already had 3 cups of coffee this morning and I’m bursting at the seams?
I only drink coffee with strange men for money?
All or any of these? I mean they are all true, even the last one, (don’t judge me) but none of them is the reason I refused.

Ok, I confess, it was his jeans, his impossibly small, incredibly tight skinny jeans. You know the kind of jeans so tight as to render a fellah infertile. Those kind of jeans. I’m not a picky gal, really. And it’s not for reasons of fashion that I refused as the guy looked good. In fact, I think he took notice of me because we were similarly dressed, very matchy-matchy, or perhaps he was impressed by my example of superb parking skills today as a slid into a teeny-tiny spot. It was a complete fluke. Everybody knows that I need at least 3 parking spots to park my one car. Well, everybody knows except that guy.

I am a woman of principle (well kind of) and I have a rule: Just say no to boys whose dzinsowe rurki are smaller than yours. Simple. Easy. Effective. Guaranteed to keep you out of trouble. Take that advice free of charge.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The time has come

Yes, the time has come – the time to start coloring my hair. Bleh.

If you could get a good look at me, you’d probably say, “Nah, you can wait.” But I know it’s time.

I remember when my hairdresser found my first gray hair. You’d have thought he had found a third ear judging from the look of horror on his face accompanied by an over-dramatic gasp. Just as I was beginning to think I, in fact, had a third ear back there somewhere he said in the most solemn tone, “A gray hair”. Is that all? I thought.  Jeez, what an overreaction. They’re not contagious. “Pull it or leave it?” he asked. “Pull it,” I replied and that has been my stance ever since.

Not that I don’t like gray hair. Gray hair can look elegant, distinguished, even regal…on you. Not on me. Your gray hair I like. Mine, not so much. I know, boo hoo, Chris, so you have a couple of stray grays. At least you still have hair. Yes, that’s true and I am not complaining, really, ok, just a bit. I do feel lucky to have such a thick head of hair and to have avoided coloring my hair for this long. I have friends who have been covering their gray since their late 20s. I have been able to eek an extra decade out of my chocolate brown locks…ok, plain old brown hair.

Why the sudden need to do something with my hair? I’m not sure. I don’t have any monumental birthdays coming up nor do I have any important events to attend. Maybe a comment from one of my students got me to thinking…

First, I shall state for the record that I am not especially fashionable. I shall add to that statement that I am not especially unfashionable either. Ok, let’s face it, I buy whatever is on sale at ZARA, H&M and Reserved, oh and Tatuum. We cannot forget Tatuum. So that doesn’t make me much of a fashionista (or fascist as Joey on Friends said) but I am clean and ironed and presentable enough. I did have a consultation once with a stylist. What was here advice? I don’t know. I stopped listening to her after she told me that I should hit the gym and lose an amount of weight that would put me in 40-something kilo range.

But coming back to my student, the conversation went something like this…

Student, relaxed president of company: Chris, I really enjoy the company of women like you.

Hoo, hoo. Ho, ho. “Women like you”. Very cool. I had a lot of ideas of what “like you” could mean going through my head. All positives of course.

Student: Yes, women like you who don’t care about their looks.


Making appointment. How to say “cut and color” in Polish?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Christmas? What Christmas?

We’re back to work and school and we’ve already forgotten about our Christmas break. It’s time to start planning summer vacation, I think.

We spent our Christmas unplugged as I mentioned before and I heeded the warnings about unexpected happenings 9 months after a rustic Christmas. Funnily enough, we did have one evening without power, but it was due to our neighbor’s barn burning to the ground so it was just too much excitement for one night.

I suppose our Christmas was a success. I was a little worried about the tree. We waited to the Friday before Christmas to buy it and I was worried that they’d be all out of good trees. I was wrong. They had plenty of good and expensive trees and plenty of cheap and horrible trees. What was missing was the “good enough” trees – those were all sold out. So car packed to the brim, tree strapped to the top of the car, we were off for the village with Christmas spirit in our hearts. Our neighbor must have also had Christmas spirit in her heart because as we were leaving the Christmas tree place, she called and asked if we’d like her to go to our house and turn up the heat (she has an emergency key). She also opened our driveway gate for us which was very thoughtful. (Just a note, this is not the neighbor who comes to our garden without permission. That’s another person entirely.)

So we arrived to a warm house, unpacked, put up the tree and began decorating. We had cleaned the house top to bottom the week before. It was a relief to just start decorating, cooking, baking and enjoying our time together. But wait, I had forgotten about one thing…our new front (well, back door, ok entrance door, we’ve got one door and it’s in the back) was to be installed the next day. Piece of cake. You pop out the old, poorly-fitting original German door and pop in the new, super-duper “Produkt Polski” door. Except for one problem, those Germans really knew what they were doing when they installed that door. As we found out, the frame was severely bolted in with long, metal rods. It took the men 7 and a half hours to install the new door – 4 and half of those hours spent  removing the original door. And all that time, we were without a door, the heating system was pumping and dust was traveling all over my beautifully clean, Christmas-decorated home. Oh well, we have the new door and it is much, much warmer at home now without a 3 cm gap at the bottom and a 1/2 cm gap at the top. Yippee!

After a quick clean up, we stood around and admired our door for awhile and I was so impressed with my door that I didn’t even remember to take a photo. Maybe next time. I was also so busy that I forgot to hang mistletoe this year. But I suppose that after the dismal reception from last year (dismal reception=long time spent under mistletoe, no kisses), it was really unnecessary. With or without mistletoe, I did not receive more than my regular kiss allotment.

One surprise hit of the Christmas break was the lard-based bird feed that we hung from a tree outside the girls’ room. It provided lots of entertainment until it eventually fell down and was taken away by some animal. I highly recommend such forms of entertainment.

Another hit of the Christmas break was the box set of DVD’s which I bought for Misiu as a Christmas/13th wedding anniversary gift. First, I had a bit of a problem finding that set. I went to Empik to the section called BOKSY (or was it BOXY?) but I didn’t know the Polish title of the DVD’s that I wanted and the sets are in alphabetical order. After some searching I found it - “Keeping Up Appearances” or “Co ludzie powiedzą?” in Polish with the famous Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced “bouquet”, of course) and her sisters, Daisy and Rose.

Love it!

After the door was installed, installers paid and gone, mess cleaned up and house decorated, we began to cook and bake. All cakes, cookies and kutia were made by me as well as Christmas Eve dinner. We only ordered pierogi from a bakery and we were ready to go. Our Christmas Eve supper was peaceful as always because our kids don’t get presents on Christmas Eve as they do in most Polish families. Our kids receive their presents “po amerykańsku” in the morning of Christmas Day. One problem was that the presents were hidden in the house, unwrapped. After the girls fell asleep I was the mad wrapper until about 1:00 a.m. Then I had to sneak all the presents into their room which is where we put the tree again this year. Overall, putting the Christmas tree in the kids’ room has its advantages. It means that the Christmas mess with toys and paper and Lego pieces stays in the one room. However, you have to be very quiet and crafty when you put the presents under the tree. You must be careful not to crinkle the paper or stub your toe. I managed without crinkling or stubbing but still Rosie claimed that the presents come from parents and not Santa Claus. No comment.

We also had carolers this year too. Ok, they muddied up the hall and kitchen but their show was well-prepared and well-rehearsed. They we very deserving of the 15 or 20 zloty they got from our house.

This year we didn’t return to work between Christmas and New Year so we had free, free, free time! We visited Misiu’s sisters and nieces and nephews and their families and we even ran into some old friends (I mean the friendship is old, not the friends) we hadn’t seen for awhile. Shout out to Łódź. New Year’s Eve we spent at home with the kids watching Maryla dance Gangnum Style direct from Wrocław. We also kept an eye on our neighbor’s house during the intoxicated backyard fireworks displays. You’d think a barn burning a few days earlier would put a damper on backyard fireworks displays, but we were wrong.

So that’s all for our Christmas. We are desperately looking forward to all weekends and days off in the near (and far) future.

Hope you had a good Christmas break and that 2013 will be a successful year.SDC13491