September 30, 2006

I am connected

The phone is on. Thank God, the phone is on. Two hours on the phone to Ally, two calls from Mum already and I am plugged in to what my friends are up to again. I had almost forgotten that you could speak to the people that you miss and who miss you. I never have anything to really tell people because so many of my friends read my blog.

The sun is still shining in Warsaw and sutumn, while on its way, is not here yet. Tomorrow, I will go to Lazienki park to enjoy what I am sure will be the last of he great weather. I am still wandering around in sandals and it is October tomorrow. The dark days bring a different feeling to the city and wrapping up warm is a national sport around here. I am looking forward to eating pierogi to carb up while the cold outside is kept at bay by jumpers and thick socks. I love the summer, but I am always ready for the winter when it comes.

September 29, 2006

Yorkshire Home Rule - Phase one

Phase one in my grand plan to create the nation state of Yorkshire is to create an army. This plan has been really quite acidental and has caught me with the genius of a true winning strategy. When Yorkshire has an army with which to defend itself we can make tea drinking a weeky class in schools. Children will be taught how to moan about the south at an early age and each child will have elocution lessons to make their Yorkshire accent so strong that no-one outside of Yorkshire will be able to understand them.

I am doing what I can to spread the word by creating an army of small international children who are accidentally adopting a Yorkshire accent. It never occurred to me that while teaching phonics, I would acutally be teaching Yorkshire phonics. I plan to send these children into the world to infiltrate International communities and spread the message that Yokshire will one day be free from its oppressors and shall indeed rule itself once more.

September 27, 2006

Google earth

I am totally disconnected from every-one as my phone is still not on. I forget how used I am to my two hour chats with Ally, or speaking to Mum and Dad every other day, even if only for a few minutes. I am already getting into the habit of not calling people, I can't wait for the phone to ring. It is just another way that I feel seperate from those who live in other counries. I can still imagine that Ally lives in kabaty when I can chat at our leisure on a Saturday morning.

Life in Warsaw continues to spiral into new bizarre levels. Now that I am into my routine, I find that life here is just as it ever was for me. There are new people and there are the old ones, just like the coffee houses and streetlife. Something old, something new. As I wind my way down these roads that have led me back here, I wonder: 'Am I lost, or am I on the way home?'

September 26, 2006

Blue skies ahead

After a week in my apartment I am only now starting to feel like I have any sort of routine. I chatted to J the other night about how coming straight from my intense family holiday to Warsaw has left me little room to breathe. I have also been emailing D about her coming to Poland and it has made me think of Paris again. I don't understand why I feel so at home in Poland. I loved every minute of our time in Paris, life there was much more of an adventure.

As I am faced with the choice of leaving this city at Christmas or staying until next summer, I look at how much Warsaw has changed, even in the few years that I have known her. I hope that D comes at half term, if only because in 5 years time the Warsaw that I know and love will have morphed again. I still think that these years of feeling unsettled will be the ones that mean the most. I wish I were a true free spirit who would wander the earth forever, but I can feel that my years of travel in this way are limited.

September 23, 2006

The crying game

J and I left school last night and went to Zgoda. This was one of my favourite places to eat in Warsaw and I always have the potato pancakes and gulash, placki cyganski. This is also the place with the best surowki (salad and pickles) in town. We sat and chatted and talked about how we never have enough time to chat through things, school, boyfriends, family take up lots of time these days.

For some reason we got onto the topic of crying and how it seems to come about through stress for both of us rather than outbursts of emotion. When I first came to live in Poland I thought I was coping really well with the massive changes that were coming thick and fast, Poland was alien and so was being away from the UK. That is, I thought I was coping until I sobbed for an hour all over H, who was staying with me at the time.

This trip to live in Poland feels very different, but the stress of packing up my life, finding a place to live, seeing old friends, and starting work is bound to come round to bite me on the nose. I am waiting for the meltdown, I am sure it will come now that things have slowed down. When it does, it will be a quiet, solitary experience. I don't need anyone to comfort me, I can only do that for myself. Maybe I will call TFT, just to hear him freak out at my tears might make me snap out of it. I always think that I am stress free, that I cope with anything, but that can't last forever, can it?

September 22, 2006

Photos of Warsaw

I have cast out lots of photos, there are only a few that I am happy with. I need to spend more time taking pictures, but work gets in the way.

September 20, 2006

In the wings

I signed my new contract today and so things with my space in Poland are more settled than they were half an hour ago. Sometimes, I am not sure what has really happened these last few years, how I have managed to live in these places, why I still feel the need to move. Coming back to Poland has been a bizarre experience, and not an unpleasant one.

I still remember my Polish words, and am finding that more and more come back to me very day. I believe that I was destined to be in Paris, but I also believe that it was fate that made me move away. Here I am back in the arms of familiarity ready to look forward to a weekend of doing those polish things I love. Maybe I will have some Gypsy pie at Zgoda, go shopping for Boleslawiec pottery on Ulica Jana Pawla. Maybe I will spend Sunday under the shade of the Palace of Culture, I could go over the River Wisla to see the fast disappearing Russian black market.

My head is still spinning at the thought that I have made it back, at least for a while. I can't wait to go to Krakow, a place that I love almost as much as Warsaw itself.

September 19, 2006

Sticky fingers

This new job is only temporary, and it has been a big change. I might be in Warsaw for a few months, I might be here for a year. I have been a teacher for a long time, and I like working with children. My days now are all about sticky fingers, blowing noses and exciting stories to be read at the end of the school day. The kids sit wide eyed with wonder as they hope that the BFG will save Sophie from being eaten by the Bloodbottler.

I never imagined that things would swing back round in this way. I like to think that I am following the right path, that my intuition is working full charge, but the truth is that things sneak up from behind. Do not think that you can ever second guess fate. There are people in Warsaw that I love, and there are some that I didn't even realise that I missed before I came back. There are some that I will have to let go of, our relationships have not all moved forward, and I don't like looking back. Will anyone buy that anymore? I left Poland and came back, will my 'no regrets' stuff wash now?

September 18, 2006

The fourth floor

I live on the fourth floor now. After school today I will go back to my apartment and sit and watch Tv for a while before an early night because I teach a bunch of six year oldsnow who sap my energy. My flat is little, but it is cosy and I like it. The building is an old 70s communist block, very like those that most Varsovians live in. I could afford a brand new apartment block, but I want to live like everyone else, or else what is the point?

From my balcony, you can see Smyk, the famous childrens store. At night, you can watch the cars flying past on Jerozolimskie and hear the sound of the trams rattling up and down like some kind of metal lullaby. I love this city, and I have loved her. Warsaw is very modern, but onlyi n a way that the communists allowed her to be just 15 years ago. Now she is growing, but still so Polish.

September 16, 2006

The big gulp

Green coffee looks out onto a busy pavement on one side and onto the Palace of culture on the other. It is always busy these days and I find that I am more and more drawn towards the fat muffins that sit in heavy paper cases. My coffee of choice is a cappucino bellaluna and I often think that I could sit there all day if I could.

This misty Saturday morning I am blogging from Ks computer, all packed up and ready to go. Today I will move into the new flat and then I will be only two minutes walk from Green Coffee. This afternoon, J and I will go and get our nails done, go shopping and experience the Saturday vibe like we used to. I am sure that this will be punctuated by many coffee stops and we seem to gravitate back there in the end.

This will be my first weekend of near normality in weeks, I have a sore throat, it hurts when I swallow and I am sure that everything is catching up on me now. As long as I have Warsaw, as long as there is coffee, I am happy to glide along. Note to self...take more photos today!

September 15, 2006

Property mogul

There has been much talk of flats and houses since I arrived back in Poland. K and N are in their new swanky Mokotow pad and I have been thinking about the different districts and what it would mean to buy a place here.

To give you an idea, in Paris I had a 20sqm one room studio on the left bank that cost 800 euros. In Warsaw my new placeis 40 sqm, one bedroomed and costs 400 euros and is right by the Palace of culture. You still get a very good deal on housing in Warsaw and at the ripe old age of 30 maybe it is time to make an investment.

The new flat looks onto Krucza and down to Jerozolimskie. I am sure that at night the lights will be great and I have never minded the sound of traffic rumbling past, I am not funny about noise at all. It feels cozy and I am looking forward to moving in. Leaving K and will be funny though, we have so much to chat about still and spending time with them is just so comfortable and easy. How can you not love people who take you into their home on 24 hours notice?

September 13, 2006

Picture me happy

I am a bit more self conscious about getting my camera out in Warsaw. There are not that many tourists around, even these days and it is a bit obvious when my Olympus climbs out of my bag. After living in Paris it is the concrete and graffiti that draws my eye here in the roughened edges of this Polish city.

I am also more inclined to take pictures of people, I would never have dared in Paris and the challenge was always to find spots that were humanless. There was never an end to things that caught my eye in Paris and I am back in the photo taking zone here in Warsaw. Once I move into my new non-haunted flat this weekend I will be scooting up to the old town to snap, snap, snap.

September 12, 2006


I keep thinking about him and wondering how he is. If I had known all those years ago that he would still cross my mind then maybe I would have at least hesitated before I let him go. So many months have squashed into those years and I have travelled around the world, further than even I imagined. Somehow, he is the one who pops up in the moments when the sun is setting and the quiet times begin.

Now that I am back in Warsaw I find myself daydreaming that he is still single and that magically he will find his way here to me where I might be ready at last to give him everything he wanted from me. Fate is cruel, and would never deal such a hand, but it gives me comfort to daydream.

I had relationships that were more serious, and ones that lasted much longer, but he is still the one that makes me sigh. I don't believe in regret, never have. That is the voice that I listen to, the words that chase the demons away.

"But would you know me now
Would you lay me down beside you
Tell me everything I want to hear
Like that was your favorite year"
Dixie Chicks

September 10, 2006

334 things to say

It is a strange thing to eat alone in a restaurant. After going to Lazienki park to listen to the free Chopin concert, I decided I was hungry and so went to San Marzano for a salad for lunch. I sat and watched the grey clouds drifting over my head and stared down at the little people below going in and out of the supermarket with their bags full to feed the family for Sunday dinner.

I don't mind eating alone, I never get round to getting my book out. My mind wanders and I like the space to organise my thoughts. I forget how much I need the quiet until I don't get it. I still feel unsettled today, I felt as though life in Warsaw had carried on too far past me, and I would never get a grip on it again. All it took was a couple of phone calls from old friends, one to meet tonight, one to meet tomorrow and I feel a little lifted.

When I logged in today, I noticed that this blog has 334 posts, including this one. 334 things I have said into cyber space, and hoped some-one is listening.

September 09, 2006

The marathon

I never had teaching days where I felt so tired. If there was a moment this week when there was not a six year old hand snaking through my hair or tapping my arm then it has blurred into the too frequent moments where there was. I am not a fan of looking backwards and now I know why. I still do not have a place to live and this is bringing a feeling of unsettlement with it. No-body is concerned about this but me, although luckily K and N have been so kind in their allowing me to stay for as long as I need.

When I think I am up Warsaw keeps knocking me down. There is the return to work which involves so much running around literally and figuratively that all sense of humour has gone. The weather is making its way into autumn and has robbed me of those last september days of summer. On every corner there is a little cafe or a shop that I don't remember. Every time I speak Polish, little bits of French creep in.

One week into la rentree, I find I am craving the one thing that most of the time I abhor. Routine, routine, routine.

September 05, 2006

Concrete and closed doors

I went back to the apartment after school today to pack up my stuff and move out. After a highly embarrasing conversation with the landlord, where I had to explain that I didn't feel comfortable in the flat. J and I went into the block, which appeared creepy all over again. This time we got stuck in the lift, facing concrete, we were stuck between floors.

This was enough to convince me that I never wanted to be in that building again and I am happy to be thought kooky if I means that my mind is calm. When we got out we hurried to the flat, packed up everything and got out of there. As we locked the door behind us, leaving the place felt good. I have never had a reaction to something like that before and was lucky that the owner was so good about it.

Another ridiculous story about my move to Poland, how do I manage to get lyself into these things? The moving process has been wierd on many levels. Poland is so familiar, so much like home to me, but I think that plunging into school life has brought on stress that I never thought it would. My day was filled with lego, tears and carpet time and that is a big change.

September 04, 2006

The other side

After blogging so recently about my lovely new flat, I felt that I should update things a little. Last night was my first in the new apartment, and things did not go well. I woke in the middle of the night after one of the worst nightmares of my life. In this nightmare I was pushed down and some-one screamed. I was forced awake and my whole body was drenched in sweat. I spent the rest of the night terrified and that feeling stayed with me all day.

After dinner with K and N, I went back to the apartment. Half an hour into running a bath, making a cup of tea and settling in front of the TV,the hair on the back of my neck began to rise and my skin prickled. I wanted to calm down, wanted to believe that I was overtired and reeling from the rush of the past week. I shoved stuff into a bag, left the flat and came straight back to K and Ns sympathetic and non-hackle inducing flat.

Tomorrow I will go back to the flat, pack up my stuff and spend another few nights with K and N until another flat can be found. I have no idea what I felt or why I felt it, but something in that place was wrong on my radar. Am I crazy? Did this really happen? Am I feeling something that is not there? I do everything on instinct, why not this?


In the blogging world, there have been instances of being dooced. This basically means that you have been fired because of what you have written on your blog, whether it be personal or based around your work. Petite Anglaise was recently dooced.

I am the first person that I know that has been un-dooced. There is some-one in Warsaw, reading the blog on a regular basis. From my posts about looking for a job, she was able to tell the right people that I was still available for work and so I was offered my job.

Today has been the first day back in school proper, and I must say that only now is it starting to sink in that I have a job again and things will only get busier as the school year rolls on. I have friends that I would like to see this weekend, with the reunions being both familar and exciting. I have been incredibly lucky that I just rolled back into my friendly intimacy with K, N and J.

The fatigue is setiing in though. I am able to smile and chat at school but the truth is that I am exhausted, nearly a week without a proper nights sleep is really taking its toll. My only goal now is to make it to the weekend, where sleep and relaxation beckon. Cinnamon oatmeal I brought with me from Canada. Big mugs of strong tea. Pyjamas and fluffy socks, I can only dream that I make it to Friday night.

September 03, 2006

Another suitcase in another hall

My bags are all packed again ready to move into my new flat. In keeping with the speedy theme of this move, I have already found a place and will be moving in today. The new flat is more than three times the area of my apartment in Paris and includes a bath and a washing machine, so no more blogging about the laundromat.

The flat looks onto Marszalkowska, one of the main streets in the city centre and was inhabited by a famous Polish dancer and her lover, a Polish writer. I have yet to find out who they were, but the flat has a fin de seicle feel about it and with huge windows and very large rooms I think I will be very happy there.

I am back to school tomorrow and feel nervous and excited about meeting the parents and getting sorted for the children back on Tuesday. If any teachers out there have suggestions for getting to know you activities for 6/76 year olds, please leave a comment in the box.

Back into the fray, it will be great to be busy again. I like work when it goes fast, when there is lots to do. It makes me feel like I am efficient, I work well under a little bit of pressure. With twenty small children around me every day, I am sure that there will be lots of that.

September 02, 2006

The sound of Polish

When I got into the taxi from the airport, K chatted to the driver to tell him where we wanted to go. On the bus, people talk around you and the round musical tones that I hear make me remember how I though Polish was such a beautiful language.

In the days to come it will be hard not to compare Warsaw to Paris, and perhaps this would be best done only in my head for the moment. Still, comparing one lover to another is never a good idea. I never allowed myself to miss Poland. I was involved in my life in Paris, and I loved my year there. But when I landed at Chopin airport I felt like I was coming home again. K and N live on the same street as I did, so this emotion doubled when I came back to there place.

I had a day at school yesterday and felt as though I had never been away. There are many things that change, and some that never do. There are new people, there is a new job, there are new places to go, apartments to find. Through it all, Warsaw is the same. Scruffy, proud, mine.