Darkness comes at four pm and everything that had just begun to melt freezes again. I knew this city in the sun, but in darkness shadows soften all edges, refiguring the city not to a labyrinth but to a separate city, strikingly familiar yet unaccountable.
In the room I rent there is a door I must not open. In fact, I can not open it, even though I’ve tried. I have keys, but none fit. I am convinced the door is not locked. It sits at the foot of my bed, like a dog, begging.
The cold sneaks under the feather-filled comforter, holds my hand. I squeeze it, for warmth, and lose feeling. Still, the heat flees from me until I cover my head, cocoon myself in my own steam. The cold is a close friend, but is not friendly.
This is the time for thought but I have only silence.
Not even echoes.
The creaking of bones straightening themselves out of gravity’s pull. Muscles blanketing the bones, nerves threading the muscles, skin a plastic wrap, a preservative, but I can smell through it to what’s beneath.
What is my dream? Why does it knock at the window, five floors up, and not roust the building, cry in the alley and wait for help from the lighted windows? Tear through the rags holding the wind out. Find the opened stone on the outer wall. Break your nails on the weathered edges.
The blood that spills will call you inside. There, you will color everything. You do not stain, you absorb, fabric, wood, flesh, air, heat, and the door, it will not open, even for you, but in absorbing you also take the place of the thing, and as the door you can choose.
You can open your eyes.
This is what you get when a writer (namely, me) has no direction.
Yesterday I bought a kebab. I know what you’re thinking–why the Middle East in Poland? A kebab, apparently, is a version of a gyro, except with a large flat roll instead of a pita, and covered in some sauce, perhaps chili sauce, and corn (just as last time I was surprised by corn on pizza, and ketchup for dipping sauce (of the pizza)). It was good, even though I’m not sure what sort of meat I was eating. There were two rotating joints of meat and I said I wanted a kebab (insert Polish here) figuring that I’d either get one or the other, and neither would be a bad choice.
Adventures in Cuisine Episode 1: See above.
Adventures in Cuisine Episode 2: See below.
Since I’m mostly going to the Tequila Bar (should the the be there?) during the day, I try and refrain from active drinking. Of course, now it’s four-thirty, and dark outside, and I really should get up with the sun, so maybe drinking is allowed. Instead of piwo z sokiem (beer with syrup, here it’s raspberry: a fruity drink because, well, I like fruity drinks) I get czekolada goranczem (spelling may be off), i.e. Hot Chocolate, except that here (for you chocolate lovers) it’s really pretty close to melted chocolate rather than a chocolate-flavored milky substance. Tasty.
I think I’m being too forgiving with this whole LiveJournal concept, especially since I plan on having a link to the blog from the website my brother’s putting together to advertise the book and me, you know, as some sort of author. In short, anyone can access these entries, which means students, potential employers, reviewers, random interested parties, etc., and that could perhaps be, you know, a negative.
It’s one reason I don’t usually talk directly about people I like in these entries. Or, so far, things or people I don’t like.
(Although, yesterday, at Massolit, I was sitting at a table near this American guy who ended up giving an English lesson–simply conversation, really–to a Polish girl for an hour. He was paid thirty zloty for the chore. That’s about twelve bucks… not a lot, but enough for three decent meals out.
Sometimes I just dislike people, and I don’t know why, and I dislike that my dislike is so random.
Later, after his Polish wife arrived, and they were talking with two German friends, he revealed that, essentially, he’d rather shoot himself in the head than learn Polish. He didn’t use those exact words. And I think my mood is tainted by his obvious reluctance to learn any of the language of where he is, and, not only that, but worse, seems to refuse to learn the language his wife natively speaks.)
I know that I can restrict these posts to friends only, and I may do that if I keep this up, but that whole restriction thing seems to defeat the purpose of the journal to begin with. I’m trying to make more of myself known (Proliferate!) and why should I be hiding these thoughts and experiences?
I’m trailing off. Safe to say, this is a constant thoughtrain, and it’ll come up again, I’m sure.
I wonder why I’m learning Polish. What is my drive, now, other than the fact that I’ve put myself in a country where that knowledge is necessary? (Also, I wonder if trying to speak Polish makes me more or less approachable as a foreigner, whether the attempt is appreciated, whether I’m doing it just for the appreciation)
In Kraków I live pretty much as I do in Houston, except that I’ve cut down my responsibilities and obligations, so that really, all I have to do is write and learn (and figure out how best to survive. ATTEMPT #1: I put an ad on Craigslist today to be a tutor in writing in English or conversation. This week I plan to put a similar one in Massolit. Not that I need the money, but so that I can see whether or not teaching is a viable option if I come back to Poland. Also, of course, to meet new people.).
It’s a lot like I’m back in school with only two courses:
I feel pretty good about the creative writing class as the requirements for producing new work are pretty slack. It’s the Polish that gets to me. I’ve already had a number of quizzes and virtually failed every one. I can understand… um, very little, but enough to eventually figure out a response, even if that response (mostly) in in English.
These things are getting long.
ONE LAST NOTE: BAR EXPERIMENT JEDEN
Last night I went out to two bars to try to expose myself (not in that way) to Polish people, to life, to perhaps meet someone, talk, etc.
The first place I went to is called Club Re. It’s a great looking club (Can you call it that if there’s no dance floor, if it’s just a bar?), underground in giant bricked vaults that used to be storage areas. However, what I learned here is that most Polish people don’t seem to go to bars alone, in fact, everyone there was with a group of at least three people. I bought a piwo z sokiem (malonowy = raspberry) and wandered a bit. Another difference is that most bars don’t seem to really have bars that you can sit at, just tables and tables and booths and tables. I ended up, after walking around embarrassed for a while, at a table by myself. Also, I felt foolish for drinking what I was drinking instead of a regular piwo since the piwo z sokiem is, essentially, a girl’s drink (and most of the girls drink straight-up beer).
I thought what I wanted was to blend in, but apparently I want to conform.
The trick is to act like you belong and that you’re confident in what you’re doing, whatever it is that you’re doing. This I have not mastered.
So, after finishing my beer relatively quickly, I left, but wanted to stick to my promised two drinks, now transmogrified into two bars, and chose the Bull Pub just down the street. It’s an Irish bar, staffed entirely by young Poles, and they had a bar with an empty seat. I ordered a Strongbow (even here, cider is more expensive, a full ten zloty (okay, that’s only four dollars)). I still didn’t speak to anyone. The staff was busy, and the people sitting around me were all English-speakers of some variety, and what I want is exposure to Polish, damn it. Still, I left feeling better about the whole experience (perhaps only because I’d had two drinks in an hour) and thinking that, in the future, going to bars is a good idea, still, but I need to get there earlier.