Sunday, 30 December 2012

End-year thanks to my Guardian Angel

If every time you touch heaven you find out there's nothing to grab and you fall back to earth, if every time you plunge into hell you find out instead of drowning in the abyss you bounce back and return to earth, it probably signifies a human's place is on earth.

I owe big thanks to my Guardian Angel who kept me company over the whole year and has not let me run into troubles though opportunities were ample. This was a year when for the first time since roughly setting up this blog I was touching heaven and then, to strike the balance, I was sending myself to the darkest depths of hell. Needless to say such trips are dicey as both when you fly too close to the sun and when you are licked by infernal flames you risk being burnt. Therefore I thank my Angel for not letting me kiss the sun and for lifting me up from caverns of hell.

The Angel is a metaphor, albeit last year’s ups and downs have made me believe in the existence of a supernatural creature that keeps tabs on every man. Now the mystery to be unravelled is the extent to which Guardian Angels interfere in humans’ fates. If you look at the magnitude of miseries which afflict representatives of mankind every day, no wonder you seriously doubt in the powers of shields Angels use to protect people. I discern it and thank once again, as I was lucky to have been looked after by a very patient and wise Guardian Angel and to have got off lightly from situations when my common sense was turned off.

How much joy your life gives you is roughly equal to optimism towards life you display. There is always the option to focus on the dark, yet indispensable, side of life. In November a stupid song made me realise some feelings are natural and sometimes not feeling pain would be a reason to worry. “Where there is a flame, someone’s bound to get burnt” – if so, burning at some stage of that affection was inevitable. When making a summary of 2012 I could highlight the bitter experiences; there were some, probably more than in previous years, but they happened because I felt much more than in previous years. For sake of waking up from a long-lasting spiritual numbness I deem 2012 to have been a particularly great year. Not everything turned out the way I had wanted, but every time when confronted with adversities, I emerged stronger and never lost heart. Sometimes to cope better with emotions I did turn on the ‘numb’ mode, but these were always temporary moves aimed at relieving psyche.

Maybe this is the way how we should handle life. Every time bad fate slaps your face, instead of hitting it back, give it a kiss. For those of you who have lived through some sort of severe suffering, this may sound ridiculous, but try to treat every hardship, every calamity, every blow as a chance, and as a lesson. The worst you can do is letting the pain knock you down. Such stance means letting bad luck or bad people triumph. How about spiting them? Whenever adversity hits you, put a smile on your face.

Some two weeks ago I left my car for the whole day in the open air, exposed to freezing snow and rain and in the evening I found my vehicle covered by a layer of ice and frozen snow. Try opening any door in such conditions… I beheld it and burst out laughing. After all I was facing a challenge!

Disasters strike you when you don’t take precautions to avert them. In early December I had sprayed door seals with silicon and packed a hammer and screwdriver into my briefcase. Armed in these tools I broke the ice with a smile on my face, which brought back to life central locking system and allowed me to open the door without problems. The engine, despite dampness which could have played havoc with electrics and motor starter, cranked up without a murmur, then it was all downhill. Seemingly a small trouble, but depending on your attitude and how prudent you are, it can knock you down or toughen you up.

As this year ends I think I’m richer as I’ve learnt to look adversities in their eyes. Never turn your eyes away, when your enemy sizes you up. Look at the bright side of life, there’s always such one, but it sometimes takes some effort to discern it. May the new year bring all of you many cheerful days, may troubles stay away from you, may your Guardian Angels be as merciful for you in 2013 as mine was for me in 2012. And don’t be afraid of changes in your life. Any change, although it involves taking risks, should be treated as a chance for a better life. And remember, it could always get worse...

Technical announcements:
1. Apologies for lack of posting a week ago. I was down with flu and decided to stay in bed to overcome the illness once and for good, unlike other people who get up, go to work and spread germs (we have an epidemic of flu in Poland). The strategy proved successful!
2. Next week – road construction summary – let’s look what roads were opened in Poland in 2012
3. Any hints on the direction in which the blog should drift – for aforementioned reasons posts on economy of politics have become infrequent here, while I began to focus on myself and turned the blog into a form of personal diary for posterity, against my intent at inception of blogging…

Sunday, 16 December 2012

New camera review

I’d been putting back the purchase of a new photographic equipment since the discovery of my Canon’s breakdown in early autumn this year. My first preference towards the new device was Canon Powershot SX130, which I found in Euro RTV AGD in late October. The camera could be picked up only in one of their shops in Warsaw, but due to busy and stressful period at work in the last days of October I postponed the visit to the shop for 2 November to find out owing to my procrastination they’d run out of stock. Then in November I was focusing on sitting for the exam and gave up on looking for the new camera. Last Saturday, while browsing Media Markt leaflet I found Olympus D-760. The camera took my fancy, so I checked its technical specification in the web, settled for the purchase, rushed to the car and drove to the nearest shop (Warszawa Krakowska).

The camera offers a decent trade-off between price and quality. For a device offering 12.5-fold optical zoom, 15 mpx matrix, optical picture stabiliser, HD filming and tens of useless gadgets I paid 419 PLN. Enough to have my needs met, as I wouldn’t have probably made use of a better equipment and this one is small enough to fit into inner pocket of a jacket and stay invisible. On the other hand, as any newly produced device it appears fragile and gives an impression of being designed to endure 2-year warranty period and some two days beyond it before breaking down.

I regret not taking it with me on Wednesday, when Ursynów witnessed the biggest blackout in last 15 years. I drove to P&R Stokłosy shortly after 7 a.m., it was still dark and the only lights emitters were vehicles. Reminded me of North Korean power outages and was worth documenting, but would I have taken decent-quality photos with a new camera I’d not been familiar with?

I took the camera last Friday to capture beauty of a frosty, sunny morning (-12C). To the right - having parked the car, I roam around Metro Stokłosy bus terminus. I use ‘snow’ theme to take shot of the intersection of ul. Ciszewskiego and al. KEN, it’s shortly before sunrise...

To the right – I walk out of Świętokrzyska underground station. It’s slowly getting light. Camera’s settings remain unchanged. Machines in the background belong to second underground line builders. As I’m familiarising with the new device, I’m focusing more on the quality of the photo rather than its content.

To the right – ten before eight, sauntering towards my office I turn aside to make a picture of ul. Towarowa towards Plac Zawiszy. If you enlarge, you might come to the same conclusion I’ve reached – I’d focused on the wrong object, hence key parts of the picture are not as sharp as I’d want.

To the right – another try, night-time shooting. No tripod, flashlight turned off, camera held in slightly quivering (in attempt to do my best to prevent any motion) hands. Could it have been done better?

Today I ventured to Piaseczno to play with the camera again. To the right – I focused on the Christmas tree on the town square and even forgot to cover it all and ‘cut off’ the star at the top. My old Canon used to put out more ‘granular’ photos, while shots from Olympus seem still kind of blurred…

Around half past two magnificent fog, which I’d been lingering over the whole day, began to descend and grow thicker. To the right – intersection of ul. Okulickiego, ul. Powstańców Warszawy, ul. Nowa and ul. Mleczarska. I’m standing some 100 metres from it and use optical zoom to the limits. I focused on the tree in the background, but given the acuity of other objects on the photo relative to the tree, there was some fail.

I walk homewards and cross the single-track coal line. Similar shots have been taken by me here in June 2009. I somehow adore the theme of lines converging onto the horizon. Here they disappear, swathed in the fog. I focus on the horizon.

Then I turn around and capture the view eastwards. I took several other photos today, but for sake of practising how to handle the new camera rather than to document something. Gave me much joy on this gloomy and short day.

I was used to my old camera, so using a new one means picking up new habits. The Olympus has a few features that wind me up, e.g. when it turns on it’s always in photo-taking mode and I think it can’t be set to go into photo-watching mode after switching on. The other thing is that it runs on its internal battery, rather than on AA batteries, which is good, except for the fact its battery begins to charge up every time I plug the camera to the computer to transfer photos or to the TV set to watch it. This will diminish durability of the battery, due to ‘memory effect’.

The new camera has more settings, many gadget-like, this translates into opportunities to tweak with something and more chances to screw something up = take an unsatisfactory photo due to choosing wrong settings. Unlike with my old Canon, I wouldn’t fall back on ‘automatic’ mode, which fails to properly adjust setting to the scenery. The best choice is to desist from using themes and use a ‘P-mode’, where you can change key setting manually.

The biggest challenge is sharpness adjustment. I seem to be mastering how to control it, although I’m more skilful in it in shots taken outdoor rather than indoor, some progress is made since first snap, albeit there’s still a way to go. Again I’m proven the more complex camera, the worse the photo taken by a skill-deficient photographer will likely be. To make a good use of this camera, you’d rather not just press the button…

I haven’t tried out its filming capacity. Due to much higher resolution, my new Olympus will offer much better quality than the Canon, but at the expense of film size. At the moment I have a 1GB memory card taken from my old camera and the new one says it can save up to 3 minutes 56 seconds of decent-quality footage on it, so I should consider upgrade to 8GB card.

To recap, the camera fully meets my needs of occasional documenting reality for pleasure. It has now almost 100 snaps on the counter and, as I notice, just like a brand-new car, needs running in before its capacity can be fully utilised; this process is under way. Am I right?

In the meantime, my old, defective was put up for sale on Allegro. 12 minutes before the end of the auction the highest bid is 10.28 PLN. If a new user knows how to fix it on his own, after buying a shutter flex for another 10 PLN on Allegro, they will have a decent, slightly obsolete compact for a dirt-cheap price.

Sunday, 9 December 2012


July 1997. Prime minister Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz visits sites damaged by the flood of millennium and concludes: this is yet another incidence which bears out one should be prudent and take out insurance, alas this truth is still not common. Nothing hurts like the truth. Mr Cimoszewicz’s utterance has become a nail to the coffin of his party in the coming parliamentary elections and has gone down in history as a symbol of insensitiveness to other people’s misery.

In fact only extreme liberals have the courage to admit Mr Cimoszewicz’s statement was hitting nail in the head when speaking about lack of foresight among humans. Those words might have been out of place, if spoken out among people who had lost all their belongings in the flood, but look at it from a different perspective. One person pays insurance premiums for years and when their house is destroyed by a flood, they collect a compensation. Another person, if they have luck be one of many victims of a natural disaster, gets aid from the government = taxpayers. What is your sense of justice telling you now? Should there by any differentiation between forward-looking citizens who take out insurance and those who reckon when it comes to the crunch the government will step in and help? There are several ways out. First one – the government does not help anyone, the insured get money, those who failed to insure against flood are left out in the cold. Second one – the government gives money, but only to those who have not bought insurance policies. Those who paid insurance premiums learn they are suckers sinking money into insurance policies for years and their reckless neighbours are free-riders whose lack of prudence is rewarded. Third option – the government gives money to anyone aggrieved, no matter insured, or not. Those without insurance get relief, while when comes to the insured ones, there are two options – either they get a compensation from their insurance company and in effect are better off (counting out the hassle to rebuild their houses and arrange them) after the flood, or insurance companies refuse to pay out compensations, as benefits from the government have the same character. In both cases somebody grows richer at taxpayers’ expense – the insured flooded or insurers…

The considerations above arise from the widespread belief government is omnipotent and is capable of influencing events at its discretion. This conviction is abjectly dangerous as it implies firstly citizens are infantile creatures not capable of taking care of themselves and should be incapacitated, secondly the government can be blamed for virtually everything, since it can control everything.

When politicians of PiS blame government for everything, it is not just an element of their political strategy which assumes no matter what the PO-led government do, good or bad, must be slated right away, but also an exemplification of their view of the world. Mr Kaczyński’s advocates deeply believe if Kaczynski was in power, all the problems would disappear. They deeply believe people in power are capable of turning things around whenever they wish. And this is dreadful. This also engender claimant’s stance – a way of thinking “I deserve”, “the state is duty bound to provide for…”. “Mnie się należy”, “państwo ma dać”, “państwo ma obowiązek, dbać, zapewnić, etc.”, „co państwo zrobiło”... Rigns a bell? Makes me want to puke…

In fact how a society functions, all social plagues, shortcomings, criminality, etc. is mainly a sum of millions of individuals’ behaviours, attitudes, moral spines. Other factors shaping workings of society are formal and informal sets of rules which tell us what is acceptable and what not. There is legal system, including penal code, which deters individuals from engaging in unacceptable practices, but what really can discourage people from wrongdoing are enforceable social norms. It is not a potential punishment of let’s say ten years of imprisonment for drunk driving that should prevent us from sitting behind the wheel when intoxicated, but the strong conviction this is dangerous and will be condemned by any upright citizen.

You cannot blame government for everything. Can we blame the government for Amber Gold scandal? Partly yes, as it did not amend regulations which did not oblige prosecutors to instigate proceedings against the fraudulent company immediately upon receiving request from Financial Supervision Authority. The state should ensure all scams are detected early and their masterminds imprisoned, but the state will not prevent you from entrusting your money voluntarily to a crook.

Can we blame the government for bankruptcies in the construction sector? Terms of contracts, including payment terms, as proposed by Road Construction Agency were often unfavourable for contractors but they all in concert bid the lowest prices. They all agreed for conditions set by Gdaka, but when everyone cries about bankrupt subcontractors (doing business means taking risks), why does nobody mention millions or zlotys saved from the public purse? Intense competition among road builders has finally brought costs of road construction to a level comparable with European ones. Why does nobody mention relief to taxpayers and lower public debt?

Your fate lies in your hands. Many times people’s misery is not their fault, but many times they work hard for their predicament. As someone aptly summarised recent summer’s woes of clients of Amber Gold, OLT Express, or bankrupt travel agencies, this can be all put down to Polish greed, tight-fistedness, low level of wealth or simply dziadostwo. We chase bargains by seeking out promises of high yield, low-lost travels, without minding credentials of our counterparties. And when it falls down, we blame regulators, government, bad people, but never ourselves, our naivety, greed, lack of foresight and judgement.

If so, no wonder we posit the government should take responsibility for us, but consequently we deprive ourselves of freedom. But let’s ask whether freedom is actually desirable. Freedom is not the right to prance about in tight clothes on a gay parade (I have nothing against homosexuals, but I am not fond of flaunting sexual preferences), but freedom entails responsibility, means you are wise enough to take decisions regarding your life and suffer consequences of your deeds and this may be inconvenient for many.

My observations indicate people prefer to renounce responsibility and admit their infantilism by offloading responsibility to others. No matter if these were bankers who begged for bailout four years ago, or unemployed Poles blaming Mr Tusk for their joblessness, the trend towards giving up freedom in return from protection is disturbingly apparent…

PS. Bought a new camera today :)

Sunday, 2 December 2012

After-exam after-thoughts

Happy to leave it behind, now an almost two-month long wait to get the result begins. Given the difficulty of the exam and level of my preparation I should be quite secure about the outcome, yet far from certainty… Many questions were tricky, means to mislead candidates, so in this case, seeing is believing, albeit I believe I did well.

For sake of brevity, just a few observations…

1. I’m getting older... Most candidates I saw yesterday looked like students. Maybe I can’t properly assess people’s age by their look, maybe many didn’t look their age, but it seems I’m lagging a few years behind the most ambitious youngsters. Some of my university friends took this exam, i.e. were on the same stage of development in June 2009, yet none has reached the end of the road and many are struggling to make further steps forward. I wanted to reach this milestone before my 25th birthday and did it.

2. It’s a men’s world... I dare to estimate roughly 80% of candidates were males. I could go on about possible explanations for this, but I will only take the liberty of mentioning there are no barriers to entry to the programme and signing up is absolutely voluntary, so I believe this is women’s choice or lack of interest in the programme that keep their share in candidate structure so low.

3. I can’t stay in one place when I feel restless. Other people can stand or sit, while I need to move around. Being in motion somehow calms me down. It’s been like this for years, even when waiting on a bus stop I have to be in motion... I’m not cut out to be idle!

4. I can’t understand people reading notes until the last moment before any exam and delving into the content thereafter. I’d been studying for eight months and finished my preparations on Thursday. On Friday I put my mind at rest and didn’t think about the oncoming exam at all. I felt a bit stressed out in the evening, upon returning home and managed to ease up the next day, after I saw first questions on the exam sheet.

5. The exam doesn’t only test your knowledge. It would be too easy. It puts to the test your logistical skills and endurance.
The former as you need to strictly obey several rules, violation of any would result in termination of your candidacy to the programme. You need to check you have all permitted items and not have anything not permitted, which made me go to the test centre without keys and mobile phone. Getting to Centrum Expo XXI is a bit of a nuisance, getting out of there as well, especially if you’re not from Warsaw. Even if you live in the capital of Poland, still it is a bit of a challenge, as it is a few hundred metres away from the nearest bus stop. Therefore I’m immensely grateful to my father for insisting on dropping me off there and picking me up.
The latter as the exam consists of two sessions. The first, which last three hours and wears you out solid, is followed by an hour-long break. The break in fact lasts shorter, some 40 minutes, as you are not allowed to leave the exam room before all papers are collected. Within 40 minutes you need to queue up to a cloakroom with 300 other candidates, get your rucksack containing a packed lunch, immediately queue up to a cloakroom to give back your rucksack and in the meantime devour whatever you can (one sandwich and one apple were my only nutrition during the day), then go to the toilet and then check in for the second, three-hour long session, which ends at 5 p.m. At that time I was hungry, thirsty, felt cold (heating was off, excellent!) and virtually prostrating. At the end you’re in for to a 40-minutes-long wait to get you coat from the cloakroom…

I’m complaining a bit, indeed, but if you fork out thousands of zlotys for something, is it too much to expect good organisation and heating turned on? Nevertheless, I recognise endurance should be tested, as working environment for people working in financial industry require this and only the fittest can survive there. And after all, sacrifices must be made in a pursuit of a better life…

Needless to say, this is all an excellent example of rent-seeking. Now I financially support rent-seekers hoping to become one of them one day…

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Student's diary

Sunday, 18 November
Yesterday Janusz Piechociński was elected, by a tiny majority of votes, to a position of president of PSL. Thus he deposed Waldemar Pawlak who had been clinging to his office for too long, and, let’s face it, impeded many of the government’s plans to move the Poland forward. He steps down in disgrace, taking umbrage with rules of democracy and proving lack of manners by not congratulating the newly elected leader. Mr Piechociński’s headship should be a breath of fresh air for Platforma’s coalitional partner; his style at first impressed me, but on second thoughts, his hyperactivity begins to appear feigned…

Monday, 19 November
I have foregone the idea of turning off the phone and have to face the music. Half past nine, first call from the guy whose car I damaged a few weeks ago. Renault’s insurer needs another statement signed by me to pay a compensation to the garage which repaired the car. I drop everything, take the car and drive to Konstancin to write out a statement in which I admit at the time of the accident I was not intoxicated. Nobody bothered to check it right after the prang – does it mean Poland is no longer a land of mistrust? Half past two in the afternoon. My boss calls me. He cannot work out how I calculated one of parameters of our potential new credit exposure. I drop everything, start calculating everything from scratch, then send him an e-mail. Exchange of e-mails and discussion over correctness of calculation drags on for an hour… And I am on holiday!

Tuesday, 20 November
Woke up to the news Polish secret services have foiled an assassination attempt. A lecturer from one of universities in Kraków had planned to either outright kill several of the country’s officials or to park a booby trapped car under the houses of parliament and detonate the bomb. The size of averted tragedy is mind-boggling, despite this several laymen criticise secret services for bringing their success to the public either too early or too late…

Wednesday, 21 November
A quarter before ten. My boss calls me and asks whether everything is alright, as I am almost an hour late and this has not happened before. I gently put him right by referring him to our HR management system in which his approval of my two-weeks’ absence is recorded. Much than disenchanted, he puts down the receiver. My colleague predicted this would happen, but thought he would have been astonished not to see my on Monday. I send her a text message and learn she is on a sick leave. If my boss has half of his team absent and work piles up, no wonder he is discontent. Tough luck, his problem, I don’t give a damn!

Thursday, 22 November
An important news item for today is that a member of PiS from Oleśnica was ousted from the party for calling on referendum whether to kill the prime minister Tusk on his blog. The very idea hatched by the Kaczyński’s party activist does not surprise me, yet my jaw drops open, when Mr Kaczyński says his membership has been suspended so that the media do not attack PiS authorities

Friday, 23 November
Today the world revolves around the debacle of EU summit on the new budget for 2014-2020. In times of austerity several politicians (the biggest advocate of EU financial downsizing is the British Prime Minister, Mr Cameron) attempt to cut back on the budget, which would have adverse consequences for Poland, which is a net beneficiary of EU funds. Much of the stride my country has made over the last years is owed to the inflow of EU funds. The summit should be completed next year and if the agreement is not reached, EU will be operating year by year on temporary budgets…

Saturday, 24 November
A day to take a break from studying. In the morning to the swimming pool, then to my grandparents to clean up their flat, after early lunch I take my father, we catch a bus to ul. Ludwinowska and take a walk to Lotnisko Junction and then walk back through new roads of Southern Bypass of Warsaw to ul. Puławska. There is still much work ahead for the builders of the Bypass and it will take at least half a year to complete it, provided winter is mild. There is much to be documented, but I have not bothered to buy a new camera. Some seven kilometres covered on foot spent indulging in sights of Zielony Ursynów and watching the new infrastructure are a great way to recharge batteries. In the meantime a graduation ceremony is held at my university. Had I known that, I would have gone there to take an opportunity to meet schoolmates…

Sunday, 25 November
Doing well in terms of exam preparation and feeling more confident. May it only not lead to overconfidence…

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Home straight

For a good beginning – a linguistic puzzle. What’s the English for wyjęty z życiorysu? No dictionary can help translating this concept of busy period in which one cannot lead a normal life. So what? Subtracted from life? Taken out of lifetime? Written off? Simply lost or wasted?

Regardless of what correct translation is, the fortnight which started yesterday enjoys such status. I’ve just entered the final stage of my CFA level I exam preparation which has lasted since late March this year. The exam in its substance is not very difficult, but the size of curriculum a candidate has to master and time frame allotted to answer all tricky questions make it a challenge. I sacrificed an equivalent of my monthly salary to sign up for the programme and buy the books and spent several hundred hours sitting for it (if paid for which as for doing overtime I would have earned more than my car’s market value today), so a failure would be a considerable pity. Nevertheless I am prepared for the worst scenario and if it materialises, the world is not going to end, yet I’ve taken precautions to prevent it. I don’t fail to prepare, but this doesn’t mean I don’t have to be mentally prepared to fail.

I’m going to spend the coming days going over mock exams and revising the whole curriculum (3,000 pages, over a hundred formulas…). I initially planned to train before the exam by emulating the exam day schedule, i.e. cracking two exam sheets a day, as I’ll have to do on the exam day. This would require six hours spent doing tests plus additional time spent checking and reviewing answers and would terribly wear me down. The first day of exercising proved I should divide this by two, unless I want to come to the actual exam totally exhausted. So the revision schedule has been reset, so that I don’t end up weary and burnt-out on 1 December.

The coming time will be an experience of seclusion. I’ve taken ten days off work (paid), my phone will be switched off during working hours to preclude anyone from the office from nagging me with calls, the car will sit in the garage and won’t congest ul. Puławska during rush hours. Apart from down-to-earth activities I’ll focus on studying and taking physical exercise (a visit to the swimming pool in Piaseczno every second morning is a must) to give my brain enough oxygen to work at full steam and prevent me from putting on weight, while being fed by my mother (although it wouldn’t hurt to make up for at least one of these three kilograms lost in October and putting my on the verge of being underweight).

The experience of solitude confirms, again, I’m not cut out for working, nor spending time totally on my own, nor for academic work consisting in poring over books and taking details into pieces. Not a wonderful time, yet anyone who wants to achieve something in life must go through such phases.

Apologies in advance if I don’t post next Sunday and keep your fingers crossed on 1 December.

Prudent Student ;)

Sunday, 11 November 2012

A secular funeral

Attended such ceremony for the first time on Wednesday. In Poland it is customary to stage traditional church funerals even if the deceased were not deeply religious and ceremonies held not in a church and not administered by a priest are still a rarity. This time the deceased, my friend’s father, was a type of a hard-line atheist and had expressed a wish to have a secular funeral.

While a typical Polish funeral consists of a mass in a church and a burial ritual, a secular funeral has a sort of “last farewell” instead of a mass. On Wednesday the farewell was divided into two parts. The first one was a commemorative speech, being a brief biography and characteristics of the deceased, the second was a classical music concert.

I liked the form of the ceremony and part of the content, in terms of concert (the deceased was an opera-goer), but was disgusted by the eulogy… Delivering eulogies during funerals has become a widespread tradition in Poland. I heard it in 2009, 2010and in 2011, so if 2012 is drawing to a close I couldn’t miss the doubtful pleasure of listening to another one.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against speaking highly about dead people, but every time I listened to such speeches, I felt these were description of people other than those being buried. In Poland there is a custom that you either speak highly about the dead, or don’t speak at all, everyone accepts it, the best example is how the picture of late president Lech Kaczyński was distorted afterhis tragic death. Few had guts to tell the truth… I generally detest hypocrisy and maybe wouldn’t be so distasted if such eulogies were only biased. Every man has a bright and a dark side, highlighting only the bright one is forgivable, while telling lies about a deceased is overstepping the boundary of decency. Last year my parents made a blunder at our neighbour’s funeral when they broke out laughing having heard the neighbour, who, truth be told, was a despicable layabout and drunkard, in the eulogy was characterised as ‘exceptionally responsible man and caring father and husband’.

Damn it, if there is little good to say about the dead, conform to the principle and don’t speak at all! I can’t stand it!

During a burial ceremony there was also a moment when I didn’t know how to behave. I stood surrounded probably by former colleagues of the deceased, sturdy men, tall as I, but unlike me, well-built, and while urn was being put into the grave, they all burst into tears and kept on weeping like small children. I felt unnaturally. I saw people crying during funerals many times, but these always were family members or close friends…

Secular funerals are said to grow in popularity in Poland, as Polish society is turning less and less religious. I wouldn’t dare to say the same is true about weddings. Virtually all weddings I attended during last two years were church ones, I’m attending a secular one next month and this will be the odd one. It has to be underlined, however, if someone gets married in a church, if doesn’t mean they are religious. It’s all about the setting. Wedding in a registry office lacks the memorable character the one, traditional, in a church, has. Wedding is in principle a one-in-a-lifetime event which deserves a unique setting, but whether it is justified to spend on it an equivalent of new compact car’s price (alternatively even 10 metres of a new flat might be purchased for that money) to put on a triumph of form over substance is a topic for a separate posting…

And my advice for anyone going to Cmentarz Północny on a business day – set off from home early or check the timetable carefully. I set off from home at 8:45 to turn up for a ceremony starting at 10:30 in time and ended up stuck in a traffic jam beginning at the border or Warsaw, which I detoured through Jeziorki and having covered 25% of the distance within 40% of allotted time on a rainy day (rain snarls up traffic) I decided to forsake my car near underground station and take the public transport. Finding a space to park a car around 9:30 was difficult, yet doable, then I somehow managed to get to my destination by underground (33 minutes ride to the northern end of the line is boring) and from the beautiful Metro Młociny terminus, by 701 bus. Returning home was a bigger nuisance. I had to wait for a bus in a rain for 25 minutes (they run once in half an hour), getting from the cemetery to Ursynów took me an hour and a quarter. Cemeteries, as places visited often by elderly people, should certainly have much better public transport links to city centres…

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Energising song

Ever wonder about what she's doing
How it all turned to lies
Sometimes I think that it's better to never ask why

Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone's bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn't mean you're gonna die
You've gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try
You gotta get up and try try try

Eh, eh, eh

Funny how the heart can be deceiving
More than just a couple times
Why do we fall in love so easy
Even when it's not right

Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone's bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn't mean you're gonna die
You've gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try
You gotta get up and try try try

Ever worried that it might be ruined
And does it make you wanna cry?
When you're out there doing what you're doing
Are you just getting by?
Tell me are you just getting by by by

Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone's bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn't mean you're gonna die
You've gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try
You gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try
You gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try

Heard this on Monday evening while driving home for the first time. The catchy tune (I'm not particularly fond of that kind of music, but this is the second Pink's single released over the last months that impresses me) immediately lifted my spirits. What the song conveys is akin to the message from my Guardian Angel. Even if once something doesn't turn out the way you expect (this is an indispensable part of every human's life), even if you stumble and fall, don't give up, don't lose heart, start over and hope for the best.

A month has elapsed since that conversation. I think I've made progress in getting over, although I'm still at the stage of 'just getting by', emotionally numb, yet intelectually bright!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

See the difference – follow-up

… to one of my first posts which I published as a third-year student. After two years of working for a huge capitalist corporation, I see more semblances between capitalism and socialism and some similarities are disturbingly striking. The post would not have appeared here today, if it had not been for the violent crackdown on some of my fellow colleagues that took place in the third last days of October. Accidentally the ruthless moves in personnel policy coincided with an e-mail reminding about renewing the commitment to follow the social media use policy guidelines, observance of which prohibits me from revealing my identity and name of my more and more often hated employer…

I have taken the trouble to compare some workings of the political system of 1945-1989 socialist Poland and features of American-style corporate capitalism and within five minutes I managed to discern (and put down on a piece of paper) the following similarities (in random order)…

Brain-washing – in both systems you are told is more or less thinly-veiled way what you should think. Your mindset is shaped by someone who has interest in controlling how you perceive the world, what your hierarchy of values is…

Because efforts to wash brains of employees / citizens go in vain, omnipresent duplicity emerges. Officially people declare one thing, while unofficially they speak their mind and do their bit. In both systems they have to watch their tongues though! Self-censorship is natural in such circumstances. You weigh up every word you say, before something politically incorrect comes out of your mouth You never know who the sneak, waiting to tell on you to their principal, is.

Your workplace, as well as a totalitarian country, is not a place where you should make friends. Individuals are to co-operate with each other to serve the corporation / the system and should be discouraged from any closer interactions. Of course integration (after-work meetings) is encouraged, but its extent is attempted to be controlled. In the corporation one of crucial unwritten rules tells you to pursue your private life outside work. Having committed a sin of violating this rule, I admit there is a profound rationale behind it, but people should be free to pursue happiness their own way.

The two worlds, one real, dejecting and murky, the other full of bright prospects, exist thanks to wide-spread success propaganda, aimed to make you believe how well your company / country is doing. Poland is 1970s was catching up with mid-African developing economies, while official e-mail from the CEO of your corporation will inform you that the company has gained 50 clients, passing over the fact in the meantime it has lost 150 accounts. Censorship is thus not confined to individuals who muffle most of their thoughts, but is applied on much wider scale on the level of corporation.

Hollow words, spread far and wide, are distinguishing features of both corporate capitalism and communism. In pre-1989 you formally had democracy, free speech and other stuff guaranteed by constitution. Your employer promises you work-life-balance if you work eleven hours a day and do not get paid for overtime, instils integrity in you, while senior executive have no qualms lying through their teeth…

Once socialism was described as a system that bravely fights problems unknown in other political systems. The same applies to some big corporations where processes cannot run smoothly, but are impeded by self-created obstacles. This probably has an economic explanation is diseconomies of scale – a corporation which grows in size become too big to manage and turns marginally inefficient. Socialism fell apart because socialist economies had to reach frontiers of development and could not grow any further due to built-in inefficiencies. Big corporations are doomed to fall apart because they focus on themselves rather than on clients.

Dissent… is a crime (not on this blog, comments are highly appreciated). If you think free-market corporations foster ingeniousness, you are under the same delusion I used to be. Firstly, only selected individuals are allowed to come up with innovative ideas, secondly, if their innovations does not turn out to fetch expected enhancements, they are bound to bear the brunt of it. And do not hope for the second chance. In corporate capitalism it is safer to swim with the tide and not to stand out.

Targets are what socialist economy planners and corporate productivity managers are obsessed with. In the socialism there were five-year plans, always exceeded, in a corporations, you have sales target or other targets, depending on your position. Try not meeting them…

A human for a corporation has little value, just as in totalitarian systems. It is just a cog in a machine, an item on, respectively, a payroll or census list. It can be easily swapped for another one, if there is a need, or liquidated, if no longer necessary. A human is subjugated to the overriding goal which is, either the bottom line of profit and loss account, or interest of the system. And end justifies the means.

Recent goings-on at work reminded me of leitmotiv of disappearing people from ‘Master and Margarita’. During the big purge in 1930s people did not know the day nor hours when some ominous men knock on their door and make them disappear without the trace. In an American corporation you come to the office and never know if this is not the last day in your office. On Tuesday I saw head of one of department talking about lay-offs, glad he was not affected by this. A few hours later his job contract was terminated. On Wednesday morning I shook hands with one of the best (meaning having a portfolio of profitable accounts) corporate dealers, the previous day he had agreed on 20% salary cut and hence was sure he would not be given the notice. An hour later he was proved wrong…

Not to make this post one-sided, let’s highlight some differences between the two systems. Socialism offered job security, while in corporate capitalism you can be fired every day and if you corporation claims to be “socially responsible” (what a twaddle!) it can give you a generous severance package. Corporations, unlike socialist enterprises focus on work efficiency and can appreciate those who do the good job. Beware though, if one day you receive accolades, the next day you may be given the sack. I am in two minds about the distribution of income. I lean towards more pointing at bigger gaps between salaries of rank and files and key executives, but in the socialism there also were ‘equal and more equal’ comrades…

Plus note the fundamental difference between firing people and murdering them. In a corporation you are just given the severance pay and are free to pursue your career somewhere else. In a totalitarian system, there is no such things as freedom.

Having written this, I will return to my office tomorrow, with smile put on my face and hoping my position will not come under restructuring, at least this month. Once I heard people living in socialist have experienced so many humiliations, but what about staff of big corporations, exposed to so many similar disgraceful treatments?

Sunday, 28 October 2012

First prang

Just three weeks ago my Guardian Angel told me “Don’t drive aggressively as you did recently – you haven’t had any accident and may it stay so”. I have mended my ways in terms of style of driving and avoid risky manoeuvres, but there are several other factors that can contribute to accidents on the road. I had my first one, a scrape, rather than a full-scale collision, yesterday.

Funnily enough, I didn’t damage my own car, nor my father’s car…

The post for today was meant to be titled “Renault Clio IV – driving impressions”. I decided to accept a personal invitation for a test drive from the local dealership where I have my old Megane serviced and ventured there yesterday. Before setting out, I dropped in on the near garage, where I had my tyres changed for the winter ones. Forecasters had warned of winter attack over a week ago and arranged the visit, so the weather has not caught me napping (yesterday Warsaw saw the first snowfall this autumn, quite heavy). The difference between summer and winter tyres is noticeable, mostly on a slush which was on the roads yesterday. The car holds the road much better, reacts differently when accelerator and brake pedals are used. It’s all obvious…

I drove to Konstancin, took a test drive as scheduled. I was only stunned by the car’s magnificent design and drove rather carefully as the car lacked winter tyres and actually wasn’t impressed by the dynamics of 0.9 litre turbocharged engine. To get back to the dealership I had to make a u-turn on the roundabout with traffic lights. I drove through such roundabouts several times, including this one, with which I was familiar. I knew very well a green light on one road allowed me to turn left, where I would encounter another, red light for a perpendicular road, before which I should have stopped. It was a moment of my inattention or lapse of concentration and I realised it a bit of too late, just ahead of the traffic light and ahead of another road. I skimmed on the brakes, but did not avoid rubbing against the left side of another vehicle, moving straight ahead on the perpendicular road. My fault…

Damages: first of all, no injuries to people travelling in both cars (at such low speed little bad could happen), brand new Renault Clio had its front bumper severely scratched and number plate board ripped off, Fiat Palio Weekend had both left doors sternly scratched and slightly dented and side lath on driver’s door torn away. Both cars were still roadworthy.

First advice in such situations: stay calm and plead guilty if you are. Any attempt to shirk responsibility is an open invitation for the owner of a damaged car to call the police. It only make things worse – who needs a fine of a few hundred zlotys on top of the collision? Both the Fiat driver and a salesman who travelled with me as a passenger kept cool heads. We all drove to the dealership to write out a “culprit’s statement” (in which I concede I had caused the accident) to secure covering the costs of repair of the Fiat by the Renault’s insurer. In the meantime mechanics from Renault garage reattached the number plate to the new Clio so that other clients could test the car. Then I looked after my own business and made sure Renault’s own damage insurance policy also covered all damages inflicted by clients, so the insurer would not have recourse to me. The only way the prang will hit my wallet is that instead of having a maximum, 60% third-party liability motor insurance discount next year, I will see it go down from 50% to 40% (assuming no accident along the way) and it will take two years to reach the maximum amount (expected loss over two years: roughly 300 PLN – still little compared to cost of repairing two damaged cars which I estimate would be between 3,000 and 5,000 PLN). I could of course try to conceal the collision, but my data will be recorded in the central registry of culprit, run by Insurance Guarantee Fund and available for all motor insurers, so it would not pay off…

Yesterday’s smash-up only borne out how I have changed. When over two years ago I dented the front bumper in (then my father’s) Megane I reacted very emotionally and didn’t feel like sitting behind the wheel the next day, but my father forced to me to overcome the trauma. Yesterday I stayed very calm, not to make things worse and secure my interests. Then I cleared my car of snow and drove safely back home, told my parents about the prang, informed about it on facebook… A lesson learnt – drive more carefully.

Funnily enough, I have driven around 15,000 kilometres, almost all with my car, went for a short (less than 10 kilometres) trip with a dealer’s car and damaged it, while saving my own one. Actually if the same had happened if I had driven my Megane: (1) the accident might have not happened, as Clio was on summer tyres and on winter tyres the car might have stopped, (2), even if I crashed, I wouldn’t decide to repair my car, I would just carry on driving with scratched front bumper…

As long as nobody is injured and only cars are damaged, there’s no point in dwelling on an accident. Accidents happen and will happen, but I hope I won’t have any, even such minor scrape in the future…

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Camera breakdown

Once Scatts (mate, are you with us?) outlined a clear distinction between photography andsnapping. He identifies the former with high-flying art of documenting the surrounding world and the latter as thoughtless, quantity-oriented pressing buttons of cameras. For months I’d been trying to assign myself to one of the two categories and probably should wind up as one of those who Scatts scornfully calls ‘snappers’. On one hand I adore and can appreciate good quality photography, take pleasure in watching magnificent photos and like taking photos, but on the other I have too many features of an ordinary snapper. I’m slightly fond of photography, but it would be an understatement if I told photography is my hobby. Firstly, because I spend too far little time and money for it and secondly because I don’t possess professional equipment a photography freak must have*.

My equipment is typical for an amateur who needs to take shots on holiday, during social events and in other odd occasions that need to be documented. I have a compact Canon (PowerShot A460), bought in July 2007. The camera had served me quite well for over five years and despite its age and low-end characteristics, it generally would meet my needs. It could have done with a better optical zoom (4 times often doesn’t magnify as much as I would like to), picture stabiliser and could shoot films in higher resolution, but all in all I was satisfied with what my small (a big advantage, especially when you can slip it into an inside pocket of your jacket) Canon offered me. When describing my camera I had to switch to the past forms, because the camera doesn’t serve me any more…

I took the last normal snap with it on 23 August at 18:21, just upon leaving the office, to document heavy, as for holiday period and late rush hour, traffic on ul. Towarowa, jammed in both ways (to the right).

Two days later I drove to Łódź for a friend’s wedding ceremony. Before arriving at southern part of Łódź I stopped over near the centre to walk and photograph some of the buildings in town. For no apparent reason all photos were overexposed. On my way back home I took a shot of A2 motorway at night (to the right). The quality of the picture is more than satisfactory, given poor lighting, lack of picture stabilising function and the fact I drove 130 kmph and focused more on driving than on photographing. I actually deserve being reproached over using camera behind wheel when the car was in motion… If you enlarge the picture you should notice horizontal stripes on it…

Over the next weeks there were very few moments when I needed to use the camera. In September I didn’t bother to turn it on at all, despite carrying it around. I do keep it in my briefcase, but usually when I run across something worth documenting I don’t bother to take it out. And even if I take the trouble, the resulting photos land on my hard disk and then end up archived on a CD.

In early October I wanted to immortalise thick morning fog, took out the camera, took photos, but all were overexposed. I tried out the camera in daylight, in the darker environment, tapped symptoms of the breakdown into google and soon had the diagnosis – shutter flex ribbon packed up…
Two weeks ago I left it in one of Warsaw’s best known camera repair centres to get the repair cost estimation and, if the cost was acceptable (below 100 PLN), to have it fixed. After a week a technician from the centre sent a valuation report, with costs totalling to 220 PLN (therein 40 PLN for the flex ribbon and 180 PLN for labour charges), so more than a working camera’s market value. Tomorrow I’m picking it up from the centre (one positive thing is that cost estimations free of charge are standard on the market) and my plan is to contact four other repair centres in Warsaw. If each offers to fix it for 100 PLN or more, the camera will be put up in Allegro and sold for as much as the most willing bidder will be ready to pay. Oddly enough, I found in the internet such repairs in provincial Poland cost around 70 PLN, but if I don’t go by chance there in business and don’t stay at least three days, a journey Tomaszów Lubelski only to have the camera mended doesn’t seem cost-effective.

The other option is to buy a new camera. It will be again a compact one, from the upper band of the low end, with all functions and enhancements my old Canon lacks. My candidate is currently Canon PowerShot SX 130, which given my needs offers an excellent trade-off between price (mere 399 PLN) and quality (12 times optical zoom, optical picture stabiliser, HD filming), but I’m holding off on the purchase until the issue of the old camera is sorted out.

I must say over the last days I did miss the possibility to take out the camera to immortalise the beauty of sunny and warm Polish autumn. On Friday I cycled to Las Kabacki and I could only use my out-of-ark (almost five years old, but always reliable – has never let me down) Nokia 3110 Classic, whose built-in camera is crappy (example to the right, snapped while moving at some 20 kmph) and I wished I could use a decent equipment. Yesterday morning I walked to the swimming pool in Piaseczno and back and again could not immortalise magnificently beautiful, sun-lit morning thick fog. Today I drove to the countryside to visit my great grandparents’ grave and again missed a camera which could document golden Polish autumn in full charm.

Over the last days I needed a camera to document the beauty of the nature, which shows after many weeks I am again sensitive to it. And I began to discern it again, I’m on the mend!

A propos my musings from before two weeks. What’s been happening with me is not just the example of defence mechanisms turning on. These have been also coping strategies harnessed to tackle adversities. How I changed over last months might also be the illustration of the process of psychological resilience taking place. Worth reading about this. Theory of economics says markets have self-stabilising mechanisms that bring them into equilibrium. It is fascinating to observe how psychology resembles economics. Both sciences explain mechanisms of self-regulation and both take note of their imperfections. Just as not all markets allocate resources in the most productive way, not all humans’ psyches find ways to cope with stress and to emerge stronger after facing adversities…

Before deciding to study at SGH I wanted to get in to faculty of psychology. I changed my mind in September 2005, eight months before leaving high school and don’t regret, but now it’s a great time to foster my interest in psychology.

* There is an alternative approach, saying quality of photography depends mostly on the photographer’s skills, as expressed by the Polish adage Na nic sprzętu kupa, jak fotograf d*pa.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

I had a dream

Trying my best to break away for the last week. I’ve had some three crises over that time. The first one struck, quite naturally, in the second half of the working day on Wednesday, the second woke me up on Friday morning, the last one hit last night. Each one involved physical pain and pounding heart, but with each consecutive one intensity of pain wanes. I realise I can’t expect something which has been at the back of my mind for months to vanish into the air when I snap my fingers, but as I’ve finally got hold of myself I think I’m on the right track.

The first “crisis” was followed by one of the most uncanny dreams I’ve ever had in my life. It was deviously short and conspicuously realistic and thus has become etched in my memory. After a few days I still remember it well, with details and will try to take it into pieces.

I was in a laboratory in a local health centre. For no apparent reason I had to have my blood examined. I came there in a suit, took off the jacket, pulled up the right sleeve of my shirt and let a nurse prick a needle in my skin to suck in blood to a test tube. The needle punctured my skin and the blood began to gush; not trickled but gushed like a geyser. It splashed my shirt, suit, the nurse, who desperately tried to stem the small wound; to no avail. Then pressure under which my body pushed the blood from itself rose, the blood splattered walls and ceiling of the laboratory. The nurse ran to bring in other personnel to help her stem my bleeding. Somehow they couldn’t. I gazed at their endeavours and felt I was fading away. The less blood I had, the weaker I was and eventually I popped off and… woke up, paralysed by fear. It was half past two in the night and I was afraid to fall asleep again. I worried if I’d fallen asleep again, the dream would’ve ended and I’d have died.

For starters, a few questions regarding the very content of the dream…
Firstly, why did I need to have my blood examined? I had such examination in May, results were beyond reproach, I’m keeping fit, stay immune to germs flying around, cope well with stress… Leave out!
Secondly, why did I wear a suit? I have three suits – one for grand occasions and two put on when going to work only. This was one of those latter two. The first connection with work creeps over, but is misleading.
Thirdly, why a small wound brought about a flood of blood and why so many people who tried to help me couldn’t stem it?
Lust, but no least (watch out, this is a deliberately made spelling error, I saw such lapse once in a corporate mail and can’t get it out of my mind), why was I indifferently watching myself bleeding and patiently awaiting the imminent decease, if any sane creature that faces death desperately tries to save their life?

I told my parents about the weird dream, they told me it could signify I had a long life ahead.

I asked my female colleagues from the neighbouring team who start their working day from reading a horoscope if they could decipher the meaning of my dream and they found this. According to one of the first results uncle google spewed out, purport of a dream of blood is positive.

“Blood symbolises life (…), if it appears in dreams it renders openness, joy of life and self-esteem” – well, I turned from intraversion to moderate extraversion over the last year, despite last bad moments I smile a lot to people and display joy and have much self-confidence. As you read on, it gets more interesting.

“Blood is also a symbol of purification. When a body gets poisoned, blood is released to decontaminate the body. Blood appearing in a dream may signal a need to set free from secrets, problems or misdeeds. (…) In relationships between women and men the blood in a dream symbolises infidelity.” – if you have read through my previous post, you surely realise why I think the dream wasn’t haphazard.

“Blood might also by a symbol or sacrifice”. Extraverted people tend to do a lot for other people, even make sacrifices for them, and take pleasure in helping others.” – my workmates told me the dream rendered my personality well, but in their assessment they only covered how I behave towards people I work with. All, except one, couldn’t scratch beneath the surface and find the more important for me conclusion. Two reflections sprang to me mind. First, all the sacrifices I had in my mind were senseless. Second, the Elton John’s song. It tells a story of marriage going through a crisis, so surely it doesn’t reflect my personal situation, but contains one verse: It’s two hearts living in two separate worlds. I’ve written it once and maybe it’s the right moment to reiterate it – we are worlds apart and we’ll be still drifting apart.

“Finally, blood symbolises being born again (…) and may signal the desire to turn over a new leaf, in professional or personal realm of life” – and this is what breaking away is about – starting over :)

On Thursday afternoon I popped out for a lunch with a friend. She suggested I read about Jung’s contribution to dream analysis. Jung argued content of dreams should be put into a patient’s individual perspective. Only then the dream material can help rediscover someone’s sphere of the subconscious. I’m unfortunately not an expert in psychoanalysis, so I’m not capable of making any further steps towards taking this dream apart. But instead I found another website which says how Jung would generally interpret blood in a dream.

“According to Jung, blood is a source of life, love and spirituality. If we lose it in our dream, it means we feel emotional exhaustion and weakness and we should do something to overcome it” – if the chap has gone down in the history of psychoanalysis, there must have been a reason for it…

Another week passed by, interest rates weren’t cut (against analysts’ expectations), no new independent, party-backed candidate for a technical prime minister was presented, the incumbent prime minister delivered a speech, polls showed support for PiS was higher than for PO for the first time during five years of PO rule and meanwhile I focus on weird dreams… But who cares, I write for posterity!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Rozmowa z aniołem stróżem

It’s a transcript of a fictional conversation between my guardian angel and me. Most questions he is asking are the ones I have recently asked myself, most prompted by talks with several affable people who helped me realise I’m in a dead-end street and need to turn back…

I would like to say particular thanks to:
1) my colleague and soulmate Martyna, who for obvious reasons doesn’t know about the existence of this blog and who, in a surge of over-optimism about my odds to win, encouraged me to fight the losing battle,
2) my friend Ola, who by asking one fundamental question made me sure this is not love and has never been (fortunately),
3) fellow blogger Michael, for a gee-up to keep up the blog and instilling strength in me the moment I was faltering – thanks to him this is the first post since many weeks written out of pure inspiration, just like in times when I was at my best as a blogger.

Starring: Guardian Angel (GA), Bartek (B)

GA: So you confessed this accursed affection is a why and wherefore of how you have felt over the past months. You thought it would have to get better, you wanted to break away, you promised yourself to keep away from her and…

B: Promises are made to be broken… But she desperately needed me then and I’d have gone to hell and back to give her relief. I don’t know if I regret it. You know how torn I am…

GA: It’s long gone too far. You need to answer a few fundamental questions to at least partly comprehend what has happened. I won’t help you find your way around the whole state of affairs, but I’ll try to help you understand what you feel. We both know you’re unhappy without her, but… would you be happy with her?

B: Errr…

GA: Remember the corporate booze-up in late August? You got tanked up and began to flirt with your fifteen years older married colleague.

B: Are you reproaching me over flirting with her? This was just fun…

GA: I’d rather examine this later, you simplify the issue, it wasn’t fun, it was an escape. Anyway, you said you wouldn’t expect your wife to wash your socks, iron your shirts, clean the house, you’d make to do with a woman who’d be your best friend and who'd support you if you were in need.

B: I wasn’t tanked up yet at that moment, but indeed I meant what I said.

GA: So do you think she’s ever been your friend, has she ever been interested in your troubles when you’ve been in need? You were her shoulder to cry on when things were going bad, you knew the taste of her tears, but the hell did you see her smile when she was joyful?

B: The truth is bitter…

GA: There is the point. I won’t be gentle now and remind you one Friday from this June. You had fever of 39 degrees and took antibiotics after which you should not drive. Despite your parents’ begging you got into the car and drove to Warsaw to see her. She didn’t even notice your presence and when you approached her she, unlike other people, told you to back away. Do you remember how you felt then, how your parents feared? Should I remind you the yelling phases or other moments you’d probably wish to forget?

B: Do you want to these wounds to heal? Or are you trying make it ache even worse?

GA: I only want to show you how suffused with bitterness you are. There’s been too much pain along the way that time won’t erase it. Plus note one more thing. She’s not the same girl you met over a year ago…

B: Well, that’s a paradox, if I’m unhappy without her and I wouldn’t be happy with her, then I’m trapped, devoid of chance for happiness. Maybe that’s not over…

GA: Let’s check. But be honest. What was the happiest moment over the last quarter?

B: Those days when we were so close together…

GA: And what was the second happiest moment over the last quarter?

GA: Why?

B: Actually maybe because I had a chance not to think about her. I did think about her several times but my thoughts were drowned out…

GA: What do you feel when you’re beside her?

B: Anything but pleasure and ease…

GA: What do you feel when you’re away from her?

B: Relief…

GA: Am I not hitting the nail in the head. You feel better you’re apart than together. Let’s face the truth, look how you behave, you take every opportunity to lengthen the distance between you, you make use of every excuse to escape her. You turn your eyes away not to see her… Automatic stabilisers of your psyche run at full steam to keep you sane…

B: You sly psychoanalyst…

GA: So you can’t deny it. What happens with you is a classic example of defence mechanism turning on. There’s nothing to worry about. Imagine you drive a car and see an obstacle coming onto your way. Your naturally want to avoid a collision. In the case of human psyche it works the same way – you naturally avoid situations which could cause you pain. This prevents you from going insane. Recall your recent indifference about her…

B: Hang on, I don’t feel comfortable with that indifference.

GA: But you prefer to be indifferent and even kick yourself for that. It’s less painful than any emotional commitment that would sooner or later wound you.

B: You can say that again, I’d rather stay stone-cold than burn, as I used to.

GA: Good you mentioned it, look at yourself, there’s almost nothing left to burn. You’re already so burnt-out that you couldn’t take pleasure in being with her. Don’t burn any more, unless you want to burn down. Save what is best in you someone who’d deserve it, for somebody who’d be your best friend and supporter.

B: I’m not aflame, but still something’s smouldering inside me. Do you know my mind is cleansing itself, but my heart, it literally aches…

GA: After all I’m your guardian angel, I know when and how it aches. There is a breaking point at which the pain gets physical.

B: Breaking point? I’d rather wait for a turning point, if I fell so low, I’d like to bottom out. What’s going to happen next?

GA: Firstly, sorrow which overwhelms you is not a feeling which should be fostered and definitely not something you should flaunt.

B: But what about her?

GA: Bite the bullet on it. Don’t let all the bitterness overcome you. Don’t think about separating yourself from her. Show she’s going to knock you down, make yourself a winner. Demonstrate manly fortitude in the face of adversity! Don’t break down, break away! Give yourself time and you’ll get over it.

B: Once I thought I would follow that path, but I went astray, the whole plan went down the drain…

GA: Now it’s less likely to happen, yet not improbable. Your defence mechanisms protect you from giving in again, but I don’t know what circumstances in the future will be. There might be a situation when your defence mechanisms turn off. I have no idea whether you’d come out of it burnt and bruised or elated. But if it happens, don’t expect me to hold you back. You fate lies in your hands… My time’s up, I’ll be pushing along…

B: Well, thanks my angel. Anything you’d like to add?

GA: Remember you have a lot to lose. I know these goings-on involve negative emotions you need to give vent to, but remember…
Don’t drive aggressively as you did recently – you haven’t had any accident and may it stay so, the aftermaths of a collision are not only about smashed-up vehicles, you can damage someone’s health or take away someone’s life.
Be careful at work. You’re recognised, received accolades, people respect and appreciate you, so don’t let any lapse of concentration cause you to make egregious errors and don’t let anyone suspect what you feel.
Look at the bright side of this affection. It has made you stronger, it has toughened you up, you’ve grown in self-confidence, risen to many challenges, did well in extremely difficult situations, but beware – what you’d do was often dicey and you were always in the luck not to fall into troubles (often to protect her), so don’t repeat it.
Don’t overkill. A man should be tough when necessary and soft, if circumstances require it. Don’t wipe away the softness you’ll need to demonstrate one day
Don’t try to do stupid things to allay the pain at any price. Relief would be temporary and that time around you may seriously hurt someone else or harm yourself.
And foster your friendships. Those very people who proved recently how much they care for your happiness deserve your attention, time and emotions. Meet them, do them small pleasures, share their joys and keep the company when they feel down. And hold your head up, may your good mood rub off on other people. Smile to the world and the world will smile back to you…

The end...

With hindsight the post looks like a self-humiliation, but I'm not ashamed of it.