Friday, 24 August 2012

The book

Running the blog is not my first instance of dabbling in writing. I’ve been sharing my thoughts with the visitors of this site for over three and a half years, but long before setting up the blog, once I committed a longer piece of writing.

It was the summer of 2004, I was sixteen at that time and I can’t affirm these were the happiest months in my life. For sure I needed a katharsis and writing a 134-pages long book, which I’ve never given a title, helped me take some of the toxic thoughts off my chest and break free from some memories. My work covered over two years of my adolescent life, spanning from 21 May 2002 to 31 August 2004. The end of the book coincided with the last day of writing it (I’d started works on 19 July 2004). The script, consisting of 12 chapters (actually 10 have been completed, two ones, covering the period between 8 May and 31 December 2003 were supposed to be supplemented later, but I’ve never followed out this plan) dealt with matters most important for a typical teenager, i.e. friendships, first affections, family affairs, school. The writing provided insight into tribulations of ordinary life – joys intermingled with sorrows, downs were followed by ups, failures were outshined by successes. Notably, I wrote everything off my memory, I didn’t have to recourse to any notes to bring back with accuracy most important moments from recent over two years of my life.

In the last days of August 2004 I shared the book, sending the copies via e-mails, with my closest friends. It went down well, was praised for good style and maturity and criticised for my ease and shamelessness in exposing my inner-most feelings to any audience. On the last day of summer holidays of 2004, having discharged all the loads off my mind, I secured the file containing the book with a password and left it on my hard disk. I’ve never printed a copy of the book, as the I concealed the writing from my parents. They actually realised I was writing something, as it took some time to compile an over a hundred-page-long work, but were left unaware of what the book dwelled on. Probably some excerpts of it would fill them with dread and for some they would tell me to look for a new home. The book was safely copied to a new hard disk of my laptop, as I changed computer in 2006 and stayed there until June 2010.

From the very moment of closing the book, I had no courage to revert to it, nor to read it over. The mere thought of reliving the moments I depicted there made me want to puke. Later, as I became more focused on mundane issues, such as those mentioned in the name of this blog, and less emotional, I didn’t even feel the need to reopen my work. In June 2010 the file was wiped out with most of my hard disk’s content. I easily came to terms with the loss of the book as I my turbulent teenage years were meant to be left behind.

Just some time ago, while drifting somewhere between cloud nine and slough of despond, I felt the strong need to relive some moments from before almost 10 years. Coming by the book was anything, but an easy job; I had to stoop low to get the only printed copy of it (no electronic version has been saved), but eventually the coveted 134 pages came into my hands.

For a few days I was keeping it in a glove compartment of my car and hanging back on getting to grips with my past, but last Friday I finally took it out of the car, smuggled in my briefcase to the house and put into one of several binders containing study materials, so that it could not be found easily.

I read the book almost from cover to cover on Saturday – Sunday night last weekend. I must admit I have skipped a few pages, as at some moments I was running out of courage to confront myself my past emotions, but I did manage to overcome my fear. Felt like a healing…

Looking at the book from the perspective of being eight years older than when writing it, I must assert in some respects I changed much, in others, I haven’t evolved at all. In terms of style at times the writing seems superb, at times mediocre of worse. At times the author appears very childish, at times mature. Today I could tweak it (note it’s been written in Polish) and rearrange a lot, still leaving the purport untouched. I would edit out childish comments, irrelevant details and probably leave the rest out, as committed into paper then. The two missing chapters will remain unwritten forever. I can’t recall now eight months of 2003 to cover them day by day, nor would I have any pleasure in looking back on those days. The book will be preserved in the form I got hold of it ever after.

PS. As some of you have noticed, there have been some deviations from the dreary posting schedule (i.e. one post a week each Sunday). Don’t expect any news this weekend, as I’m staying at work overtime to co-ordinate implementation of a new IT tool, the same overtime job is scheduled in two and four weeks over weekends. Plus tomorrow evening I’m heading to Łódź for another friend’s wedding (alas this time skipping the reception for abovementioned reasons).

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Olsztyn, wedding

As planned, headed for Olsztyn for the weekend, to celebrate one of the most important moments in my friend and fellow SGH graduate, Ola’s life.

The road – I chose the most convenient way of getting there, i.e. went by my own car. No need to wait for any other means of transport, carry the luggage, rely on someone else, plus if you take a passenger (I did so), costs of fuel can be divided into two or more people. The obvious drawback is that you have to be careful with drinking, which I didn’t mind anyway, as my body’s tolerance for alcohol has disturbingly decreased recently. I eventually confined to six brims of vodka and had no hangover, nor other signs of post-alcohol fatigue, despite not sleeping a wink.

The distance between Warszawa and Olsztyn can be easily covered within three hours. Several people warned me of notoriety of that road (I hadn’t travelled it since 2002), but the drive went very smoothly. On Saturday on the way to Olsztyn we encountered a traffic jam in Łomianki, two downpours and snarled-up traffic between Nidzica and Olsztyn. While returning to Warsaw, the traffic was sparser than I’d expected. Maybe this road is infamous on account of reckless drivers making risky overtaking manoeuvres. I saw a few such incidents, but these were feats of much too hasty drivers. If you want to overtake safely, traffic conditions allow you to do so.

The section between Warszawa and Płońsk is either an expressway or a dual carriageway, the rest of the road is a single carriageway. Only the section between Olsztynek and Nidzica is being adjusted to the standards of an expressway. The new road was due to be opened in July, but the contractor negotiated postponing the deadline until late November. Pace of work is appallingly sluggish (even making allowances for the weekend) and sight of no workers and few machines hasn’t filled me with optimism.

The city. Olsztyn has almost 200,000 inhabitants and is probably still depopulating. It appears kind of small, cosy and picturesque, as it is located on a hilly land. Having the checked in to the hotel and spruced ourselves up, with some our of spare time to make use of, we set off to town to stroll around Olsztyn’s historical part. To the right – sitting in the café in the town square. Lots of tourists and locals roam around or sit outside restaurants and cafes. This is the only part of town that seems enlivened.

Strolling back towards the car park. Architecture reminds this used to be a German city. Streets are narrow and should be reserved for pedestrians and cyclists only. The invader on Warsaw plates surely couldn’t understand their vehicle was a blot on the landscape and had to park as near their destination as possible. To the left – an Open Finance (financial intermediary) branch. The only thing I was missing there was an Amber Gold branch. The company, currently in the state of self-declared liquidation would rent retail space in prime locations. Now the branches are closed an empty and people who entrusted their savings to the dodgy company should have no hopes to get their money back. As I later learnt, the only Amber Gold branch in Olsztyn was in a shopping mall some one mile away from the old town and in the vicinity of the church where Ola and Arek were getting married.

Saturday, half past seven in the evening and the city is empty and quiet. On Saturday evenings Warsaw also comes to a moderate standstill, but in Olsztyn you can hear your thoughts. The only people on the streets are drunkards hanging around, traffic is very sparse. On our way to the wedding reception we pass by a fine-looking town hall, so while waiting for the traffic light to turn green, I snap the historical building, lit by setting sun.

The venue – a nice hotel with two wedding halls on southern suburbs of Olsztyn, just next to the road out to Warsaw. For privacy reasons I’m not publishing any photos from the wedding. The choice of the place was surely excellent, the key advantage was the accommodation for guests on-site, meaning you could move from the dance floor to your room within a minute.

The event – memorable, stunning and well-organised. Not only in terms of pure logistics which was beyond reproach, the event owes its splendour to the newlyweds who carefully paid attention to all guests with topmost class. Manners matter and this time hosts met the highest standards. I’m approaching zeniths of the flattery, not only because I promised the bride not to say a bad word about the event, but just because I haven’t noticed any shortcomings, and if everyone around shared my view, I was lucky to attend a perfect wedding.

The bride and groom – looked genuinely happy. It may sound like a daydream, but I hope their marriage will be the bed of roses ever after.

For me the trip and the event were a great breakaway and rest after all the recent bitter-rather-than-sweet goings-on at work and not only. With batteries charged up I can (reluctantly) return to work tomorrow and tackle challenges with more energy.

PS. During the reception I caught the broom’s bow tie, so according to the Polish superstition, I’ll be the first bachelor to tie the knot. But it’s just the superstition…

Olu, Arku, jeszcze raz dziękuję i życzę Wam wiele szczęścia na Nowej Drodze Życia

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Good enough

One of the recent issues of “Polityka” contained an article which dwelled on the shift in young Poles’ attitude towards life. The new stance, put across in two simple English words “good enough”, is a comprehensive response to all pursuits which used to determine hierarchy of goals in older Poles’ lives. Career, materials goods, outperforming others and all that stuff that deluded people in the first twenty years past the downfall of socialism in Poland.

Now, as one generation have walked the path of bending over backwards to excel in private and professional life, the next one draw conclusions from their struggle. Sick of the rat race, they ease up and tackle things pragmatically. ‘Do as much as you have to’ and nothing more. Keep level with the others, pulling out at all stops will not be rewarded, so why bother? If standing out involves more stress, the balance is tipped towards chill-out.

Don’t resist your parents. Times of generation gap are long over. These days parents easily find a common tongue with their offspring and even support them in their pursuit of being ‘good enough’. Have they learnt from their mistakes and wish to spare their children futile efforts? Is everything in order? Since centuries each new generation challenged the patterns and lifestyle taken after ancestors. In the second decade of the twenty-first century this ever-lasting process ceased…

Give up on your lofty ideals? The world’s abhorrent and you won’t change it. There’s too much stuff out of place and you’re out of tool to mend it. Your power is diminutive in comparison to complexity of all problems, so don’t take it on the chin, there’s no use. If you can’t change something, conform to it. Relax and take the path of least resistance, you’ll be better off by holding back from taking any action, if you’d attain nothing anyway…

Just be nice – if you don’t feel like being nice to somebody, pretend to be nice. Messing with someone you don’t like doesn’t pay off. This leads to duplicity, but this is how many well-brought-up youngsters behave these days. If you talk to them, they can make an excellent impression on you, but deep down they might think you’re an arsehole. Well, keeping up appearances simply bears fruit, so why not pretending?

Worry as little as possible. Bring a problem to your mind the moment you have to tackle it, not beforehand. Generally try to make your life stress-free…

What’s my take on it? There’s something tempting in being easy-going, yet I’d never fully indulge in such attitude. I’m just finishing a mentally and physically debilitating weekend (catching up with household and garden chores, running errands in town, plus picking up my grandfather from the hospital), while most of my friends have been enjoying two days of at least moderate rest. I could have also given a shit about it all, tell my parents to toil away despite their tiredness, leave lots of stuff undone, tell my grandmother to hire somebody to tidy up her flat if she doesn’t feel up to, tell my father to pick up his father from the hospital on his own and cut down my activities to the bare minimum of issues that affect only me and are important only to me. My conscience tells me I can’t embrace it. Young people should be brought up in cognisance of dark sides of life – taken to hospices, hospitals, poor districts and towns, they should know the taste of depravity, for the very sake of appreciating what they have. And being ‘good enough’ somehow doesn’t square with my concept…

Next posting bound to crop up after the next weekend (heading to Olsztyn for a friend’s wedding).