Category Archives: memories

Gdansk Revisited

Past

The smell, I could live here! In Krakow you always fell like a tourist, in Warsaw even worse – I thought after long five hours in the train from Wroclaw to Gdansk. Someone mentioned a seaside during the party, hence five drunk students found themselves with a dog in the midst of a February cold and gray morning in ’96. The seagulls screamed mournfully, first pedestrians passed the streets as shadows, while we were waking up the whole city by knocking the sidewalks with our martens and barking the dog around. Alcohol remains in veins slowly gave a way to blood cells.
I grabbed the phone booth and insured by dorm mates I was alive and would be back by midnight.
From Gdansk we moved to thick fogs of Sopot, where we tried to spot the ships, tankers or whatever was sailing there, while sipping cold beer on a cold and wet sand in that milky fog moving towards us over the water surface… After long day of hanging around everyone dreamt about a piece of floor, but the next train compartment was chosen by a gypsy camp. In few minutes we were all singing and dancing ore ore hey amore…The bitch got its cap filled with beer and slept till Wroclaw.

Many years later the rough sea took me from Wroclaw Islands and casted away on the suburbs of Gdansk, which I cherish with difficult and ambivalent love. After eleven years in Wroclaw traffic jams this short walk from home to the office neutralized all suburban disadvantages but isolation. How long can you stare at the grassland, forest and landing airplanes? I felt raising emotional tension which found its relief in Internet, to which I was eventually connected after two years of overtures. The first blog was an ephemeral warm-up as the emotional explosion took place three years ago, when the elected stories spark reached the observer’s volatile cloud of senses.

Present.

Since I was a child there were stories written in hand made few-pages-books, illustrated and distributed among our neighbors in Raciborz. By the end of primary school we were publishing the first-ever school newspaper. We marched under DADA banner carrying the flame of happenings. We carried it to the high school, where each edition of Wejscie Ewakuacyjne (transl. Evacuation Entrance) was thoroughly studied by our appalled teaching staff. New released stream of freedom blossomed with school newspapers across the whole country. Our one was growing till final exams, then came a few years drought, ended up luckily with an Internet flood. All diaries, memoirs, letters, postcards and other analogs where discarded. Starting my web journey with simple mailing lists and first literary portals I never thought of a port called Blog. Until today and each time I click the publish button I have creeps. Fortunately you can correct at any moment. Besides there are still notebooks, inspiring to comparisons and analysis, allowing to notice the changes and trends flashing in front of your eyes. Also at those climatic changes- just take my recent stay in Krakow as an example. I left the plane fresh but after few deeper inhales I suddenly felt a strong pain in my chest. After another dreamless night I already knew that smog’s and dragons are not for me, I am a Northern Man! I dreamed about Baltic waters, to be swished by the sea wind when driving my bike to the beach (when it happens I never forget to share my status with my fb brothers and sisters. Revenge for those outdoor temperature screenshots from Wroclaw!)

I absorb Gdansk with all my senses and pour it over the fields of Internet wasteland. I feel the cod fish taste, hear the thunder storm or Oliva tram creeking, smell the Matarnia forest, fell the sand of Stogi beach in my eyes, hear the seagull’s crying all night and day.
My friends say – you’ve made it, we have a beach base! And in that base all possible beaching sets from set A with blankets, swimming sits or without it to full scale Z sets with tents, wind screens, mattresses, dolphins… It happens that after a week on Croatian stones my friends come straight to the Bay of Gdansk, where the sand is soft, the water is not itchy and there is no need for a shower after bath.

When the vacations are over my car is my pain. I prefer tram, bus or city train wandering over traffic, parking or garage. In such way I fill my city life with meaning when I can observe and talk to people at the same time. While stretching our legs with my dog we allow the timetable to carry us away into the future…

Future.

Sipping a cup of coffee on the terrace admiring the Spring sunrise. Down there in front of me I see the waves of Żuławy Bay slowly washing the feet of the Rabbit bastion. Further away the herds of floundering migratory birds. I finish both coffee and the manuscript, which my shy new neighbor gave to me yesterday in the elevator.
I look at the temperature and its 68 F a bit cold for the beginning of March so I put on a jacket and leave. There is a selfbus arriving right in front of my house so I step in and it takes me and few other sleepy passengers in silence and without traffic straight to the Newport Island.
Behind the bridge connecting Wrzeszcz and Letnica (its hard to believe that just ten years ago the water was reaching only Brzezno!) I get off in front of an office building, where the last floor is taken by our publishing house. From its windows you can see the New City on one side and the Bay on the other. There is already hard work happening, frying covers, forged fonts, the authors and editors bent over their corrections. I pass the room where the old treasures of literature are rediscovered, bringing back to life the forgotten writers. Then I enter a spacious room with a glass wall on one side which opens to the water. Editorial Board help themselves with a coffee and hot croissants and then we start to decide which cover to choose for Dorota Maslowska’s eight novel. Later on we will discuss the plan for 2030. I’ll wait with the surprise till end of the meeting. Before that I remind them about our agents who have found in the dark abyss of literary coal mines four diamonds. We just need to polish them and the sparklers can fight for the readers. We dreamed of the country, maybe Europe, but the whole World? Since the European government set the book market free and Poodle issued a simultaneous translation tool our authors are in constant demand. Have a look at the event department, they are like a travel office!
If you add to this the recent Polish reading records our friends from Sweden, France or Czech Republic are far behind us while our book market is growing like a weed! We will bake a good cake of it with a cherry on top!

Silence please, I would like to present you something which we have been working on for the last three years together with TriCity Institute of Technology. I open my bag and take a 300 pages A5 format out and I touch its cover menu choosing The Doll by Boleslaw Prus. The font size adjusts automatically in order not to leave empty pages. I open the book and pet its self-fusing pages feeling real paper under my fingertips. I admire the pictures when they smoothly turn into animation. This book is living and we will launch its 4.0 version next Spring. Booker. Revolution approaching.

Art of making choices

“Too many irons in the fire” or “to keep too many magpie’s tails” as we say in Polish. This is my challenge how to keep these tails and irons and not to loose anything precious.

If you saw a circus artist juggling then you realize how tricky the art of doing parallel things can be. For an untrained equilibrist like me it would be hardly possible to do it  with full attention and with best results. Even so I keep doing it and asking myself: Would it be writing or maybe blogging? Should I focus on yoga, studying or working? Meeting with friends vs watching top new TV series? Read the pile of unpacked books next to my bed or just the untouched magazines from the coffee table? Is it the right moment to take on publishing new writers or should I just take my dog for a beach walk? How to get it all done? How to embrace it?

There’s even this book that I’ve been writing for the last couple of years and there’s also this dream about printing books and smelling their fresh print. On top of that I’ve recently heard this call for helping people to keep the world for our future generations. I even have an idea how to melt all these irons into one but… how to push myself over the edge and let it fly?  I don’t want it to take another twenty years to ripen…

I was 8 years old and running down the stairs at my house in Raciborz with my friend Ela from the tenth floor, while her grandmother was slowly walking up, as the elevator was broken again. She stopped us, watched into my face and said quietly – Life is so, so short. Enjoy it when you still can. You won’t even notice when its gone…”

After all these years I still remember her voice and that moment on the staircase I remind myself every year and the sentence I put in front of my eyes each time I make difficult choices. So it will be this time.

Art of making choises

What is a home?

Yesterday was a long day in a train.  Speed train, recently delivered Pendolino. Comfortable trip from the North to the South of Poland. Within 8 hours instead of 13 just few months ago. I was coming home.  Raciborz, my first home till I was 19 years old. Then it changed into Wroclaw for another 13 years to continue with Gdansk for the recent 6… Between each home certainly there was a period of a blurred limbo when neither the new one nor the old one where my real homes.

What defines a home? When this particular feeling starts to grow and develop in your heart or mind or both? Is it when you make your first friend in the new place or is it just the first fire at the chimney? Is it the unpacking of your books on new shelves or baking first apple pie in the new oven?

I was desperately looking forward to leave Raciborz and start new life in Wroclaw. I left my first home with a bunch of high school friends making the landing as soft as possible. So it was soft, indeed. In the warm arms of the biggest city on Odra river, Silesian capital city, I felt home when after my first year two of my best friends came to the city to live and continue their studies and I had the chance to show them what I already loved there, all the cheap beer bars, great dance floors, open till mornings afterparty dives and evergreen parks and river islands…

After 13 years, when the date of move to Gdansk was getting closer I started my farewell through never ending friend night talks, old city wanderings, river bench cigarettes, one farewell party after another and in the meantime finishing first sketches of my first novel, impatiently waiting for the trip to Gdansk and already mourning the last day in Wroclaw…

Gdansk became home of course much quicker than within a year. When you fall into sleep next to your beloved one, your heart even if full of uncertainty already feels like home and that first drunk night with your new friends, when you leave the bar and go to the beach to listen how the birds welcome the sunrise…

Fluent borders of feeling like home, winding between old and new, filling the new with hope and promise, and leaving the old with gratitude and love.

and you know what? The best thing of all is that all these homes remain your homes for ever. So am I now back at the first one, planning to see the second for the end of this week. See you there! 🙂

Can we trust our memory?

I am back to school… and two rather sad facts about human nature
I have learned during the last weekend. First is that it is almost impossible to get rid of the stereotypes which rule both our consciousness and subconsciousness. The other is that one absolutely can not rely on human memory.

When you hear such provocative statements you feel strangled with all of this sudden ferocity of our existence and first thing you want to do is to argue, to scream, to deny, to subvert all these arguments. But then you start to memorize: what was I eating three days ago for lunch? When was the last time you saw your parents? Have you seen this movie? Have you read this book? Have you met that lovely person before? Sometimes you may find yourself in an awkward situation and you must admit that you really don’t remember if you had an appointment with this lady or that gentlemen, this Mr President or that Her Majesty and you didn’t say what you thought you had said…

There are even studies which show that you can’t fully rely on the witness testimony during the criminal processes which in combination with severity of judgments which depend on the moment of a judge’s day and may result in a lighter sentences for criminals for the same crime if an early bird judge will give its sentence in the morning than if it would have happened in the evening… Isn’t the world cruel enough to give us another trouble? Would we ever overcome this memory “weakness” ?

From now on you will probably look from a different angle at the whole digitization, internet-ization, computerization, media-tization, etc. Has humanity found its Holy Grail for making the memory reliable? Isn’t the web already functioning as such? Aren’t those countless apps for smart phones already taking off from our shoulders the burden of memorizing things? Do you really think its going to make us more stupid now? Or shall we be thankful to the modern technology for its salutary influence on our daily life even for the price of carrying in each pocket those countless gigabytes of data which we may never use or see again?

If you think the technology make us stupid, well, wait for that early morning in the court when the night owl judge will have to make up his or her mind…

P.S. How a fruitful start of my postgraduate studies in social psychology at SWPS in Sopot… 🙂

Three weddings and a hangover

This summer was full of weddings… It was such a fun that one could say that only a gay wedding was missing there this time. Unfortunately all those were not mine but these happy couples are still my close friends and to be there was a real pleasure and quite a new experience for such a wedding veteran like me. After few years break in this specialized entertainment industry I discovered that there are new fancy developments. Starting with VIDEOS! I watched it with my jaw down and eyes wide open and I thought yes, this is it! Just have a look at this example shoot in Wroclaw Thank you parents.

For those who prefer more traditional thank you you can now print a real professionally looking photo album with hundreds pictures.  There is plenty of printing services around you but just remember that prepare yourself and spend some time on editing to have an absolutely astonishing result and make sure the final product will be delivered before the wedding starts. The printing process may take longer than the time left to deliver it 🙂

An interesting variant from what I’ve seen so far were those famous speeches you have on the Danish weddings! These may take hours (fortunately during the dinner! 🙂 Speech is one of the main parts of the wedding ceremony as well as singing songs with lyrics based upon the groom and bride stories. Note that even if you don’t get a word in Danish you keep singing and laugh, its simply hilarious!

You will find such a variety of music both in Poland and Denmark and still you can dance your ass off if you like. With excellent live bands, basses, keyboards, percussion, vocalists, accordion, saxophone, acoustic guitar, piano, whatever you can think of…

When it comes to drinks I must admit that wine is taking over both in Poland and Denmark. Allthough both countries have nothing to do with wine apart from drinking it. Oh, ooops, I forgot, did you know there are  now some wineries in Poland and Denmark?? Just wait for the climate change to show its pawns! Have a look at Vineyard Cantina

Do you remember how to play wedding games? Well they always have played an important role all around the world. There is equal fun if you try to kiss the bride while the groom is out or you rip the veil off or cut the socks, or tail, or push the eggs through the grooms pants or run around the chairs or try to bribe the toast master to let you dance with the bride. All these wedding games make one good thing -bring the guests together and make real fun to all. So they did to me.

Yes, with all these videos, photo albums and games few things remain stable throughout the centuries – white dress, veil, good music, food and great fun. What else you need to help you survive this pleasant hangover next day?

How to keep your spirit human?

Since I was a child there was always a fight in my mind between its right and left parts… In primary school my day schedule was filled with sport: swimming twice a day for 1.5 hrs workouts, weekly competitions, mid year workout camps. In the meantime I was trying to catch up with classes in math, chemistry, nature science carrying the books with me across the country. But when I was fed up with all that physical exhaustion I started to run a weekly school magazine…

Later on at high school, while solving mathematics/physics problems I used to sing in the choir and kept on issuing the magazine but this time in a monthly issues. There was so many maths and physics to catch up that these monthlies hardly managed to stay alive for those 4 years. But they did, fortunately.

When it came to think about the university, the choice was again very obvious and kinda natural. I started first with Drama School (why not?) but ended up on Environmental Pollution Science. You should know that I couldn’t imagine stop singing so I joined the Wroclaw University of Technology Choir. During the rest of my educational carrier I toured half of Europe and America and surely the whole Poland. I continued writing at home, “for the drawer” as we call it here …

Now…Is writing and singing enough while working for a high tech company? Nope, its not, so why not to start thinking of a human arts post graduate study? Which can be whatever but preferably philosophy, sociology close to any -ogies which may stir up my mind again and let the thinking flow and flow. For a technical mind with human arts flavor its a way of watering the soil, nourishing it with new ideas. It broadens perspectives and inspires that famous out of the box thinking, so desirable in our current liquid modernity as the polish sociologist calls “… the kind of chaotic continuation of modernity, where a person can shift from one social position to another in a fluid manner.”

Let it be fluid then and let’s see what happens next.

The unfinished book maturates in the drawer … 😉

A letter from the past. 25th Anniversary of Polish Freedom


This morning I was watching Barack Obama driving through the streets of Warsaw to celebrate with Polish people the 25th Anniversary of the Freedom and first free elections behind the Iron Curtain that happened on the 4th of June 1989. What was I doing that time? I was only 13 years old, finishing primary school, thinking of my future education and witnessing the Wind of Change blowing throughout the European prairies. So when I came back from work I went straight upstairs and opened my memoirs box (yep, I’m sentimental 🙂
What I’ve found was a bunch of letters I once wrote to my beloved friend, who was taken by her parents on a summer trip and to Greece and escaped from there later to Canada, right before those first elections. Her mother told her in that bus to Athens, that she would never see her friends and grandmother again…

Raciborz, 31st October 1989

Hello!

Bogna, I am sorry for not replying for such a long time but it was not my fault, its just that nothing is worth to write about. October was very, very hot with temperatures up to 31 Celsius! Polish television is getting better and better, there is still no English at schools because there are few English teachers, so I went to an English course and I now need to pay 37,420 zlotys per 94 classes.

Bogna, I am so, so curious what is going on there in Canada, how is the TV, how is your city, what are your plans for the future?! So let me start about myself.
I have graduated the school year 88/89 with very good results. I am now in the 7th grade (7d), my master teacher is Mrs Piasecka and half of the class is new. They came from 6e which was another athletic class and guess what, they just don’t know anything! I didn’t go to the School of Sports eventually and I think that was the right decision.
Now I can spend my time at different classes and courses like  English, chemistry and in general I have a lot of spare time and almost not getting ill, which I am happy for.
After the primary school I would love to continue in High School, preferably in the Human Arts profile or biology-chemistry but its not decided yet whether we would stay or we would emigrate to Germany for good (we’ve got all the passports already and anyway there are only us, uncles from the 9th floor and both grandparents who stayed in Poland so maybe we will meet abroad?)

I spent my summer holidays in Zagorze Slaskie, at that hotel from Rafako, my father’s company. I wanted also to go to DDR but I was too late with my application, and there were no places left.

So as you know in Poland we have a PRESIDENT (hi hi hi) Jaruzelski and I am not sure if that’s gonna change anything for good since the ham costs ca. 30,000 zloty, the sausage from 3,000 to 40,000 zloty, one pack of matches is 25 zlotys, ice cream almost 200 zlotys, bread 1,500 zlotys, bread-rolls 150 zlotys and butter 5,000!!! Literally every day the prices go higher and higher like crazy, seriously! Before we leave Poland I don’t know whats going to happen…

Nothing has changed in Raciborz, well maybe apart from that our blocks are not from Rafako anymore, but they belong to a company that bought them from Rafako for a song … So as in our backyard and there are also changes in the city. A lot of new blocks are being constructed (even next to our school) they also build a new post office and telephone exchange building which I hope will eventually give us the long expected phone number!

On our backyard more and more people are leaving for I don’t know where and there are also new people coming so in the end you really don’t know who’s still there are who are these new people. Once upon a time everybody was saying hello or good morning but now forget about it and there’s even no smile! (well, with few exceptions maybe).

I would like to write you about the winter holidays I had in Zagorze Slaskie. So, it was super, super, really cool and very super simply the best winter holidays I have ever been to! We had a lot of excursions, discotheques, movies, great teachers and of course the people over there – a big bunch of good friends! When going back home some of them had tears in their eyes… On the very last day we had an art exhibition of all our art works and the hotel director told us that we were the most joyfull and singing group she had ever hosted at her place!

Few last words for the end with greetings from folks from the backyards and our neighbors: Asia, Ola and Madzia. Please give my best regards to your parents, your sister and your little brother.

I look forward for your letter.  Bye!

Fabian

Sex and the City vs Girls

Once upon a  time I was dying of laughing while watching every Friday night two of Sex&theCity episodes. Together with my sister who was at that time still studying  and I was spending Friday evenings with her and my beloved Foxy New York Ladies instead of having beer with my folks from my first job. Today, after thorough lecture of two books “Farewell to Growth” by Serge Latouche and “Swiat na rozdrozu” by Marcin Popkiewicz the undertone has changed. Adding to this the recent acclaimed “Girls” by Lena Dunham and you end up at least with a grim on your face.

Why? Consumerism, materialism, hedonism once in the 90’s TV series later on radiated across the whole globe, whether its South America , Africa, Asia or even Africa including the Muslim, Orthodox,  Catholic, Jewish or whatever countries. Imagine everybody lives the life of my excellent and magical 4 of Manhattan? We would need at minimum over 20 Earths in order to run such a way of life. Our only Earth is too small, there is too few resources for us all to run this horn of plenty. If you say its a fairy tale for adults I would agree, but the idea behind this great TV series is not only the sexual liberation of women, gay men or others but also the lifestyle which says: “Consume & have fun while you still alive” (you may refer to Miranda’s mother death in one of the last episodes). Please add to this picture hundreds of pairs of shoes and dresses, all-inclusive trips to the end of the World only to have a drink and buy another pair of shoes…

In this moment the “Girls” are approaching in a juxtapose to what Sex&theCity offers almost in every aspect. The idea of Latouche’s de-growth materializes here if you look at the modest second hand clothes, eco-food, eco-life, small apartments with co-tenants, bicycles, subway, buses, holidays at friend’s house. I would rather call this circumstantial since the idea of the authors was probably to show the hopelessness of youngsters life, seeking for job or money, looking for dreams that will never happen. Nevertheless if the screenwriters could expand some of its plots we could end up with a quite solid remedy for the ideology of growth.

So, watch the two, enjoy but please read Latouche or Popkiewicz and think how to keep ourselves alive. On Earth.

Pies w dom, radość w dom.

Niełatwo mi było podjąć decyzję. Tygodnie przekonywań, rozmów, konsultacji z rodziną, z przyjaciółmi, z psiarzami. Jak trudno namówić kogoś, kto nigdy nie miał psa! A jednak można, warto i nawet trzeba próbować! W efekcie zakończonych negocjaci wygrała opcja na maksa i tak oto od dwóch miesięcy rośnie nam w domu psiecko. Jak na drożdżach. Wiecznie głodny, a więc na dokładkę do miseczki kwiatki, trawka, patyczki, kupki i kubeczki, choć staramy się mu to wybijać z głowy. Chyba skutecznie, bo jest o niebo lepiej niż w lutym…

Ciekawa ale i zrozumiała rzecz, że wraz z Ozzim pojawił się wśród przyjaciół nowy, wielki temat rozmów i pytań, wśród których obok tego o zdrowie pojawiło się nowe: o Ozzinkę! No i w tym miejscu następuje cała lawina opowieści dumnego psiaty… Kto by pomyślał…

Pies w dom, radość w dom. Autentycznie i bez ściemy. Wraz z nim pojawiła się w domu znośna lekkość bałaganu, dosłownie uroczego! Nota bene Sznaucer spośród wielu swoich zalet ma tą jedną, że nie gubi sierści, a bałaganiąc robi to z takim wdziękiem!

Psiodzice są dumni ze swojej psiociechy!                                          Psiodzice wszystkich ras łączcie się!

A Silesian Mansion…

I’ve been dreaming about this Silesian Mansion House… Not once, twice, but many times.
Each time I walk these wooden stairs up to the spacious and bright ball rooms with wooden floors and big windows opening to the park behind the castle. 19th century floor is creaking delicately and when I get closer to the window and open it the fresh air comes in together with the birds tweets…

In 1989 when the State Owned Farms were liquidated the wind of change had also reached Rudnik Mansion House.
My auntie, who used to live in that house as one of the Farm’s Accountant, emigrated within few months to Germany through the opened borders with her sons and daughter. Right after the inhabitant left the apartments the Mansion was sold immediately by the Agricultural Real Estate Agency to an unknown private person and that was the beginning of the end… Later on the Mansion was sold to a Foundation which was deliberately established to rip out some mortgage money from these still in good condition buildings and that was it. Today after almost 15 years, the interiors are completely devastated with almost nothing left but bare floors and walls. The roof starts leaking as somebody started to collect the roof tiles…

The local community claims that the situation is hopeless since the Foundation is in liquidation status and there are no moves from it in order to sell the property. Anyway the local authorities somehow managed to localize two of the Foundation members of the board but just by talking to them the community has been convinced that these two people were just substitutes in order to blur the real owners of the Mansion, who most probably left the country with the money years ago…

There are only two possibilities which may help to rescue the once beautiful property, either the creditors will call for their money/property back or the Agency who sold the buildings will try to take them, but in order to do so it wants a big favor from the community and wants to sell their other ruins from the neighboring area…Real Gordian knot. Will anybody find the Gordian or is there no hope?

I had a dream…the last one of the series was that I had established a Foundation and in the next twink of an eye the Mansion was full of young people, running around and painting the walls, decorating the rooms, planting azaleas in the garden…

Believe it or not but that dream happened to me before I knew about the REAL Foundation!

The same foundation/mortgage/escape scheme happened to hundreds or even thousands of Mansion Houses across Poland.
If anybody can help the Rudnik’s Community let me know.
I promise, my dream will become real soon…