Sunday, 19 August 2018

Lessons learnt, love-wise, life-wise

A month and a day after the break-up… I don’t regret and though there moments when I feel lonely, hopes for bright future lift me up, while the dead-end relationship kept bringing me down. As the dust has settled and that stage is over, time to share some (blindingly obvious) notions.

Early weeks of the relationship ought to be ideal, butterflies should fly around your stomach, you should be heads over heels in love. If doubts creep in so early, it does not bode well. In other words failure of such relationship is just a matter of time and the sooner it comes about, the better for both parties involved.

The general tenet in any relationship is to accept your partner they way they are, with all their shortcomings. Love is unconditional, so you cannot state: “Yes, but…” and list conditions under which you will embrace your second half. It is a “shape up or ship out” situation. A piece of advice from me: try to balance good and bad traits of your partner; if the former outweigh the latter, go for it.

The feeling of comfort is absolutely essential in the relationship. You must feel at ease when your partner is around and if for any reason it does not come naturally, this is a serious signal the future of the relationship ought to be thought over.

A sustainable relationship rests on a healthy balance between giving and taking. If the balance is not struck for prolonged period of time on a level of relationship as a whole, the party which gives more than gets is bound to grow frustrated and put their misery to an end.

Never try to act not like yourself to live up to your partner’s expectations. No matter how hard you try, you will sooner of later run out of energy to pretend to be a better version of yourself. Bending over backwards will turn your relationship sour.

Living under one roof is one of two biggest test a relationship is put to (the other is birth of a child). The time when your find yourself in a daily routine, down-to-earth stuff needs to be handled and not only good moments are shared is also usually a time when get to know your partner better… Around such time people tend to cease to make efforts to attract your partner, care less, foster the relationship less…

Foundations of a relationship should be built on similarities, while differences tear the relationship apart. Common ground and similar approach to life increase the probability the relationships get ahead. Differences come in useful if thanks to them partners complement each other, but in terms of “approach to life”, differences do more harm than good.

Out of guilty conscience, because you feel sorry for them, out of fear of loneliness and not finding a better partner and several other… are not reasons to be with somebody. Unless you have children, which complicates things a bit or a lot, if not love keeps you together, time to consider whether to quit… And even you wonder frequently “should I stay or should I go”, the answer is already clear – quit!

In spite of the above, the very decision to break up must not be taken in a rush and ought to be well-thought-out. And before a relationship is terminated, mature partners should attempt to fix it (there are exception to this consideration, such as lie, infidelity, etc.). Plus such decision, when taken and communicated to the partner, is irrevocable!

If you decide to live together, the splitting up is not just a matter of a few words and saying “bye”. In many circumstances you just cannot cut yourself off, which might sound as the best option. We lived in one flat for over two weeks after the break-up. With hindsight, though I was reproached by some people for not packing my suitcases and returning to parents’ house immediately, I believe it was the right course of things. Had I been able to cut it off, I probably would have still wondered whether the decision had been good. But after seeing my ex-girlfriend what she was like for a while, my conviction of making a right move on 18 July 2018 has been strengthened.

Looks like I have broken away, but based on my friends’ and mine observations, I am in the minority of people who have had courage to quit. My recently devised concept, backed by suggestions of other persons is that once you decide to break up to fall off the edge of a slow descent and plunge yourself into the realm of unknown, uncertainty. Inevitably you will find yourself in the doldrums far worse than if stuck in a bad relationship, but to sacrifice today to trade it for a chance you a far better future. 

This is illustrated on the chart to the right (copyrights: Student SGH): the red line represents lasting in a dead-end relationship, the green one, breaking up. Short-term effects look tragic, but in the longer run the braver ones win!

And for the record – I regret nothing what has happened between early 2017 when it started and today and no matter what I have lost, I am better off anyway.

My thanks again to Marcin, Ola, Martyna, Patrycja, Krzysiek, some of my workmates and my parents for keeping me company through that difficult time.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Wrzeciono – the new neighbourhood

What a sigh of relief. The first weekend not spent looking for a flat to rent or not moving. Formalities after the break-up completed, though lots of other stuff play out in the background (more about it in due course), I have found some time yesterday in the afternoon to stroll around the district and snap some pics.

Actually I was wary of renting a place in Wrzeciono (part of Bielany district). For those less familiar with the history of that housing estate – the blocks of flat, including the one have rented a studio (25 square metres) on the photo taken in 1969 to the right, were erected between 1968 and 1973 for workers of Huta Warszawa and were inhabited by those workers and their families. Needless to say the estate has differed much from the “highbrow” Ursynów

To the right, council housing blocks by ul. Szegedyńska. Formely, those were two hotele robotnicze, purchased by the Warsaw town hall in 2004 and converted into flats for poor families. Some time ago a hotbed of manifold pathologies now is considered a safer place. A Straż Miejska’s outpost is on the ground floor, besides a modern multimedia library and community centre has been opened just round the corner.

Wrzeciono is full of contrasts. Since distances between buildings on housing estates built in the bleak days of communism were larger, new blocks were squeezed among older ones, therefore each new development borders the old one. On top, the distinctive feature of Wrzeciono are numerous rows of terraced garages. Sadly, many are used as clutter boxes, instead of serving as “homes” for cars. Consequently, finding a place to park a car after 8 p.m. on a working week day is a challenge.

Here, I approach ul. Dorycka, the most  infamous part of Wrzeciono. The spot gained notoriety for taking top positions in criminality statistics, for violence, thefts, vandalism, alcoholism, battles, drug trafficking, etc. To the right, the newly built development, Przy Doryckiej. I presume buyers of flats in there (those buying to meet their own housing needs) have little notion of how awful location it is. To the left, Okrąglak, with the customary shop with alcoholic beverages, open 24 hours a day for locals in need…

Back in late 1990s a prudent citizen would not show up here even in broad daylight. Today, one can feel safe, however while passing by an open-air drinking den, I feared taking out a camera to snap the peculiar hangout. I could only snap typical Pan Heniek and Pan Ziutek who have stocked up in Świat Alkoholi.

Having escaped from the underworld, I crossed ul. Kasprowicza and headed south-west past ul. Nocznickiego. Vicinity of the underground station has spurred a lot of new developments between ul. Nocznickiego and ul. Sokratesa. Seemingly, the location and the neighbourhood take one’s fancy. The catch is that a dual carriageway (extension of Trasa Mostu Północnego) that would join S7 expressway will run just next to tram tracks in a few years. Noise and fumes all day round guaranteed. Hint: check the zoning plans before buying a property!

I stroll towards my place through Wawrzyszew. Stawy Brustmanna are the most marvellous part of Bielany I suppose. The park surrounding two ponds, each with a fountain on the middle of it, has been brilliantly revitalised and are a lovely hangout on summer evenings. Sadly, I shall have little time in the coming weeks to enjoy it.

I get closer to home, from ul. Kasprowicza I spot the chimney of former Huta Warszawa. Their sight is far more breath-taking when they are illuminated by setting sun. They remind of one shot of music video to U2’s one (Berlin version)…

Did I ask too much?

More than a lot?

You gave me nothing

Now it’s all I got…

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Bielany - a new place to live

Just for the record - after two weeks of attending castings (finding a flat to rent is not a matter of one day, unless you have no expectations and no price ceiling) on Thursday I have finally been chosen to become a tenant. My new, hopefully temporary, place is somewhere between Wawrzyszew and Młociny underground stations. I have transported nearly all my stuff (the last batch today in the evening) to mere 25 square meters in a ten-storey block built in late 1960s, yet cosy and functionally furnished that will be my dwelling until I find my own flat (have two under negotations, oddly enough one is Flat 3 from that post, partly refurbrished, but put up for sale at the same price. Keep fingers crossed.

Tomorrow the chapter will formally be closed, i.e. the contract for the flat we have rented will be signed over to my ex-gf and our common bank account will finally be closed. Then comes the time to enjoy the freedom. Still too early to take a well-balanced look back, but I am convinced this has been the right the decision.

But before this happens, some snaps from the new neighbourhood (next week).

Sunday, 29 July 2018

A break from lousy time in Wrocław

I will actually share my memories from the post split-up days once I bring all the stuff into order, i.e. once I rent a flat (hopefully one of landlords makes a decision this weekend), move out and handle all formalities (signing over my current flat to my ex-gf and closing our common bank account).

In the meantime, I went for a training (very useful one) to Wrocław and enjoyed two days away from the nasty goings-on I need to endure before I find the peace of mind.

The training on the first day ended before 5 p.m., then a drive to a hotel, check-in and off I go to town. For the sake of scarcity of time, I decided to get about Wrocław by car. Moving by my own four wheels turned out to be cheaper and faster way of moving between places, but driving around Wrocław remains far less pleasant than around Warsaw and bit of more stressful, even for a seasoned driver.

Around 7 p.m. I turn up to fountain park next to Hala Stulecia. The sun is still high, temperature around +27C, people roam around or sit by. A wonderful summer afternoon in a place which fills one with positive energy. I remember sitting here on 1 June 2018, in the first weeks of the relationship, in days when I was uncertain of its future. This chapter is now (almost) closed…

Jumped into the car and drove towards old town. Then, on foot I pass the bridge where lovers attach padlocks to symbolise their affection. Regardless of circum- stances, this is one of my favourite places in Wrocław, looks even more glorious, illuminated by the rays of setting sun.

A quarter later, wandering past the bank of Odra river, passing several tourists and local youngsters whiling away. It is still hot, I am breaking sweat, but the thought of air-conditioned hotel room lifts my spirits up.

The last part of my walk is the stroll to the Rynek and Plac Solny, the latter being one of my favourite places in Wrocław, while the former I deem to be a more ordinary one. The city is alive, but I begin to get drowsy after a wake-up at 4 a.m. to make it to Wrocław by 8:30 a.m., so I head back to where I have parked my car, around a mile away.

Plus a bonus shot, yesterday’s total eclipse of the moon. Not as splendid (with a naked eye) as advertised, here shot with my compact Olympus, without a tripod. Lack of professional equipment makes itself felt.

Apologies in advance if I don’t post next weekend. Need to get over the tribulations.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

5 May 2017 – 18 July 2018

It’s over.

There’s no way back.

Members of former band ABBA interviewed about the lyrics of “The winner takes it all” said no one had been a winner in the divorce of Agnetha Faltskog and Bjorn Ulvaeus. They both had lost, along with their children.

For the posterity, my girlfriend and I split up four days ago. The last weeks had been an enormous struggle and though we both had tried hard, the what had torn us was far bigger that what we had had in common.

Actually the end could have been seen from the beginning as moments in which I had felt truly secure and comfortably in that relationship (with hindsight, if such foundation was a missing piece, it was bound to fall apart) were scarce. The relationship which was tainted in doubts, in which I considered breaking up several times, in which uncertainty was unrelenting.

Half a year ago, after actually the best period in our relationship which oddly enough coincided with the most acute phase of my depression episode, we decided to rent a flat together. Living under one roof has helped us get to know each other better, but also found ourselves tackling the daily grind we both thought we would share by the end of our days.

We had ups and downs, the latter being more frequent, but it all went downhill after our holidays in late May. In early July we nearly broke up but decided to have a long and sincere talk and gave ourselves one last chance. We tried hard and appreciated each other’s efforts, yet that struggle gave little comfort to both of us. Our “recovery plan” could have come in useful for a falling apart marriage, where children and other stuff would be valid points to stay together, but not for two people who have been together for just more than a year.

Burdened by downsides outshining upsides, ever-increasing doubts, uncertainty and discomfort, I resolved to let us both have a chance to find life companions having makings for a perfect match. Time has proven this was a grossly imperfect match.

Needless to say, breaking up has not restored any sense of comfort, certainty, I actually feel even more insecure, not like somebody who has broken free of what has brought them more sorrow than joy. Memories remain...

Enough musings for now. My moods since Wednesday evening have swung from moderate despair to relief and they will continue to do so for a week. Unfortunately, we still live in one flat, though I am intent on finding a flat to rent quickly and move out the next weekend. Yesterday I visited one, yet the impression (dirt in the kitchen, smells of 1980s inside) was awful. Lookout has to go on. In the meantime, I am heading for Wrocław in business, so evenings spent in the city I’m love with should heal my soul a bit.

Once I read if you decide to break up you exchange mediocre today for even worse tomorrow to avoid awful years ahead.

A heartfelt thank you to my dearest friends: Ola, Martyna and Marcin for keeping me company (for long phone calls and messenger conversation) since the first hours of the hapless moment I turned single, and to my parents who offered my support and understanding and have not attempted to assess my decision.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Spring, summer, out and about

Time to share where I was getting about, locally, over the recent months. The weather was quite conducive to trips to nearby places, especially for cycling forays (I must say, comparing to winter months, I have cut down on local driving considerably – less than 400 kilometres covered by car since the beginning of June).

Here, for posterity, the Smolensk air crash memorial, a day after the eighth anniversary of the tragic accident. The police keeps guarding the monument 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The venue is a destination of ardent advocates of the assassination theories, but also a must-see spot for curious tourists. Being in two minds about the artistic concept of the monument, I suppose even if PiS is kicked out of power (which is now out of sight), their successors will lack guts to remove the monument from there.

Saturday, 21 April 2018. A late-morning trip to Królikarnia park, my first time ever visit there, to lap up the spring in full bloom, yet not affected by drought. Actually this is a shame despite living in Warsaw or around for 30 years, I have gotten my act together to visit some of the capital’s tourist attractions just recently. In recent weeks I could also boast of popping by Łazienki park several times (for Sunday Chopin concerts).

Thursday, 3 May 2018. Presumably the first day in 2018 when temperature reached +30C in Warsaw. Hanging out on a shore of Vistula, in Wilanów. It was the middle of the long weekend, but despite that the beach was not chock full of locals. In the distance, cranes and other machinery on Warsaw’s southern bypass construction site. The bridge over Vistula can boast of higher progress in construction than other stretches of the road.

Sunday, 13 May 2018. My first ever (again!) visit to the gardens atop of Warsaw University’s library. The afternoon was more than warm, less than hot, student festival (juwenalia) went on around, so a cheap beer came in handy (had come there by public transport, fortunately). Warsaw, to catch up with other capitals of Europe, needs some more public greenery to be available for its inhabitants. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Long after the holidays, Saturday, 23 June 2018. First heat-free weekend since the onset of June. The temperature oscillated near +20C so the weather was perfect for cycling. The distance covered on two wheel quite optimal for me – slightly over 40 kilometres. Here, in the middle of Mazowiecki Park Krajobrazowy, we ran across Warsaw southern bypass construction site. The works have not moved on much. Trees chopped down, land cleared, preparatory works done. Hard to believe the expressway will be opened by the end of 2020. I rather foresee a delay of one year, similar to the completion of the western section of S2, due to be opened in June 2012, finally opened in September 2013.

Thursday, 28 June 2018. Got the permission to knock off earlier to watch the last match of the Polish team on the world championship. But since by no means I am a football fan, I rather chose to take my bike out and enjoy a late-afternoon ride. My route was roughly a circle around Okęcie airport. Here, I stopped over on the side of Al. Krakowska, where planes flying in from the west touch down. The bigger the plane, the closer to the ground its descent path is. Fond of the place.

Sunday, 1 July 2018. On that day the weather had taken a turn for the worse and was truly autumn-like. Not much warmer than +15C, though it didn’t rain, howling chilly wind was awful. I cycled 46 kilometres pedalling at full blast, without a stopover and didn’t even break sweat. Unfortunately the side effect was a throat and ear infection which I came down with consequently. Down with fever in bed and a day off on ensuing Tuesday, two next days of home office (far too overloaded with work to share it with anyone…).

July in turn brings different spells of weather, ranging from cold and rainy days (precipitation in abundance would help overcome the drought) to near +30C heat and sunshine. Will keep observing the weather in next weeks, as I somehow believe 2018 is more unique weather-wise than any other year.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Early Autumn?

A short note today, as I am busy and a bit of stressed-out for private reasons.

Spring in 2018 was probably the warmest in the history and one of the driest ever. So far, the number of days when temperature in Warsaw exceed +30C has reached 6, versus long-term average of 5 per year. And bear in mind this is early July, the summer has just begun.

Deficiency of rainfall is visible everywhere. In my parents’ garden the soil is dry as sand. Yesterday, as I paid them a visit, I could not stand the sight of the lawn, which I had attempted to bring back to life in April and which was consciously watered by my father, but despite that it has dried up.

Yellow leaves fall down from trees everywhere, the grass in town is also yellow. Yellow colour prevails over greenery. Recent rainfalls have helped little and customarily for summer downpours, while one spot can enjoy a downpour, another one a few miles away might not see a single droplet of rain (out of luck were the southern suburbs of Warsaw several times).

The forecasters herald some summer storms in the coming days, yet with little certainty. Looking forward to this unusual weather cycle unfolding. The seasons of the year have accelerated in 2018 (except for winter which kept its grip until the third decade of March) so I am curious what the next weeks and months bring.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Half-year musings on economy

Late June. The time of year when days are the longest and it is a shame to stay indoors while the sunlight is out until 9 p.m. or later. After nine hours spent in the office and some household chores, there are still two hours left to enjoy the beginning of the summer.

On Wednesday I went to a swimming pool, for the first time since ages not during the weekend (few people had the same idea), on Thursday I took a bike and rode over 30 kilometres, making ac circle around Chopin Airport, which in a decade might be non-operational if idiotic plans of building a giant transport hub half-way between Warsaw and Łódź are carried through. The ride was a good time to ponder on the current state of economy, on macro and micro level.

The press reports say despite the rising crude oil prices, summer of 2018 will go down as the time of cheap airplane tickets. Checked out some offers at Wizzair’s webpage to learn the prices are indeed quite attractive. As it can be witnessed, tight competition exerts pressure on margins, which in the long run will not be beneficial for travellers. The weaker airlines might not withstand the price war and might easily go under or be taken over by stronger competitors. With fewer flight operators on the market, competitive pressure can ease and the era of low prices might draw to a close. On the other hand, prophets of doom have outlined such scenarios for many years and despite some bankruptcies cheap flight are still easy to find.

Although for nearly four years I have kept my savings away from the stock market, nor even investment funds, I recently began to keep track of stock market performance. WIG, the broad-market index of the Warsaw Stock Exchange on Thursday was 19% down from its peak reached in the third decade of January 2018. It rebounded on Friday, but the 5-month rate of return is below -17%. After one or two trading days marked with red colour, the broad-market index can enter the territory of bear market (20% decline from peak). Several factors bring stock prices down: fear of trade wars (say thank you to the insane president), fears of global economic slowdown, but also imminent lower GDP growth dynamics in Poland, as the peak is by all accounts behind.

I cycled past the recently built housing estates in Mordor and near ul. Kłobucka within the borders of Ursynów. New blocks of flats are erected between recently built ones. Proximity of the airport, S79 expressway, railway tracks, prison and old warehouses, lack of decent infrastructure and public transport links, high density of development are crucial downsides of that location, but despite that flats are selling like hot cakes out there, even before construction commences. Second-hand (nearly new) flats in the area have asking prices in the range of PLN 10-12k, same as in areas of Ursynów superbly linked to the city centre by underground. Nevertheless, data from residential primary market show 2% q/q and 2% y/y decline on six biggest markets, shows the demand is not infinite and buyers are sensitive to price hike. On the other hand, the recent NBP report shows profit margin of developers have not shrunk despite rising costs of building materials and shortages of labour force.

Sales of brand-new automobiles still rise, but the growing supply of 3-4-year old used (mostly post-lease) cars constitutes an alternative to a purchase of a brand-new vehicle. Though I personally see several drawbacks of such cars, many people will go for a used cars which cost half (or less) of what they would have to pay to drive out of dealer’s showroom as first owners of a shiny vehicle. Car dealers’ sales targets are exorbitant, besides stocks of unsold cars are rising, so the tensions in among distributors begin to emerge.

Last week the central bank of Czech Republic jacked up interest rates for the fourth time in a year. Currently the benchmark rate is 1%, still 0.5 percentage points below the benchmark rate in Poland, yet it has to be noted the central bank of Poland’s southern neighbour is acting ahead of inflationary pressures and overheating economy and cools it down, while it is going strong and easily absorbs the higher cost of money.

Lessons from the crisis have not been learnt. I recently heard property prices in Denmark rose by 100% since 2012, so a classic bubble has emerged there. Reasons: firstly, negative interest rates, secondly, adjustable-rate (interest-only for up to 10 years) mortgages, in which a borrower pays only interest (laughably low), but principal repayments begin after 10 years. Such product, similar to toxic mortgages which a decade ago blew over the US economy and spilt worldwide, is a ticking time bomb, waiting to go off. Frotunately, in terms of mortgage lending regulatory constraints in Poland are far tighter and ward off a serious crisis.

One only ought to bear in mind nothing lasts forever. The business cycle theories still hold true and after a few years of boom time of growth deceleration ensues inevitably. This should be borne in mind and taken into account while taking forward-looking decisions.