Happy New Year! *cough*

Happy New Year! *cough*

Tree with shadow, words on Polish flag: S-cray-oh-la in Poland

Welcome to my Poland section. I made this section to show my friends and my church the things I learned, observed, and thought during the preparation and process of my trip to Poland to teach English for a year.

2003/1/2

My mother said this has been the cheapest ten-day vacation she's ever taken. What with all the train travel I've done and the taxi rides, it's been one of the most expensive ten-day periods I've spent in Poland. I'm not complaining. It was worth every grosz. It just goes to show that living here is very inexpensive by American standards.

We spent a quiet holiday relaxing, reading, walking into town, and playing games, mostly cards. I also did a good deal of writing, and my main novel project is almost finished. The other novel I'm actively working on needs quite a bit more. My mother suggested I might have a one-track mind, because I sometimes ask questions about my novel when we haven't talked about it in several minutes, but I don't think I do. I think about many things... I just keep coming back to writing.

My mother insisted that she had to walk on the lake before she went home. I didn't like the idea, before Christmas because the lake hasn't been frozen that long, after Christmas because it has been above freezing every day since Christmas, and I didn't want to go swimming. But she insisted, so we stepped out onto the ice, and I led her along the shore. She wanted to go across, but I am cautious. This turned out to be good, because we had to scurry closer to the shore twice when we heard the ice cracking. But we didn't fall in, the ice didn't open, and we even got a couple of pictures of ourselves standing on the ice. Mom got the best picture; hers has a bouy in the background, frozen where it floats.

We also went to Ostro'da one day. We visited the church there, climbed the bell tower, and had tea with the pastor. We then walked to the local castle. It was very small (smaller than it used to be, because there was a magazine in one wall, and the magazine exploded years ago), but it was interesting. After that, we had to catch our train home.

On New Year's Eve, we ate dinner and relaxed for a few hours, then headed to bed. I was reading my Bible when the countdown happened. I wasn't listening for it, but I heard it: "cztery, trzy, dwa, jeden," and then a non-word cry. Singing right after the count is not a tradition in Poland, but apparently fireworks are. I looked out my window and saw fireworks everywhere I looked. Not bottle rockets and black cats; real fireworks. The kind that go up and make big, bright spheres when they explode. The whole sky was on fire. Mom and I watched for a few minutes. Then, we went to bed, trying not to think about the fact that someone was setting off explosives not 100 paces from the front door of the building.

On New Year's Day, we rose, ate breakfast, and relaxed. Near noon, we went for a short walk. When we returned, Kris had lunch ready for us. We ate, and then we were off to the train station to go to Warsaw. In Warsaw, we took a cab to the place where we would spend the night, and then we looked up Joanna. She was very happy to see us, and we were happy that she was willing to spend the evening talking to us, because everything is closed on January first. At around nine o'clock in the evening, we left there and went looking for a restaurant. Only two places within walking distance seemed to be open: and Indian restaurant (That's India Indian, not American Indian) and a KFC. Neither of us likes curry, so we had chicken. I ordered a chicken sandwich, and mom got the Colonel's popcorn chicken, which I enjoyed also, as she couldn't eat it all. My order came with fries, which were very good. I told Mom that I would probably not see french fries for another three months.

This morning, we went to break fast with Joanna, because she had invited us the night before. Then, we headed to the airport. There, I found a luggage cart, got Mom's bags loaded onto it, and we said our good-byes. She told me not to worry, to trust God, and that she would find the right gate in plenty of time. I returned to the rooms where we stayed, gathered my things, and walked with Joanna to a store where I hoped to buy a chess set. My mother and I had had a conversation about gifts, and I had said I didn't want anything, and anyway, I could only think of one thing I even vaguely wanted: a chess set I had seen in Warsaw for 50zł (about $12 at the time). I don't remember exactly our conversation, but she had said something like, "Well, why don't I get it for you?" So, since Mom and I didn't have time to go look for it, Joanna walked with me to the store (because I couldn't remember where it was). When we got there, the chess set in the case was 240zł, and it wasn't the same one!! I didn't have that much Polish money with me, and the set they had was ugly, so I decided I would just look for one in Iława. I walked to the train station, and by that time, it was almost time for my train. I got back to Iława, took a cab to the church, and arrived ten minutes before my first class. Nothing like cutting it close. I had three classes today, and expected to do a meeting of English practice club, but no one came for the club, and most of my third class didn't come. All in all, though, it's been a good day. I hope Mom's flights all go smoothly, and that she gets on the first available flight every time.

God bless you all. Happy New Year!

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The church at Ostro'da.

2003/1/5

I just got an email from my mother. She's been in Tallahassee since Friday near midnight, so I've been sitting around wondering whether she was still stuck in Charles de Gaulle for no reason. I'm glad she's back in Florida.

I spent the day relaxing, mostly. I did write a few notes of thanks, too.

In church this morning, I experienced some sadness and frustration. I don't know why, but I began having doubts I will ever get the hang of Polish. Everyone keeps telling me it's a difficult language, but I don't consider that any excuse why I shouldn't learn it. I'm smart enough and obstinate enough. I just need to get my tongue and my mind to work right.

The sadness, though, is from my loneliness, I think. Kris and Adam are great, but there's no one here I can just sit and talk to.

I'm concerned about things back home, too. I see a few things online, but I'm unable to access the outlets I had in the states to help me figure out whether what I'm seeing from five or six people is what's really going on or just the usual knee-jerk nonsense some people put out perennially. I'm not happy about the way things are being portrayed, particularly Christianity. Why the ignorant like to target the Faith is a mystery to me, but they do. I find it very annoying. Anyway, I'm sorry that this entry hasn't been cheerful, but life is like that sometimes. The temperature outside is -9°C/15.8°F. The snow is, of course, beautiful. We got a new layer, probably .5cm, last night. Wish you were here, friends.

2003/1/6

I finished my first draft of one of my novels. I'm only about 9 scenes away from finishing the other one I'm working hard on.

I think it was Saturday Kris told me this: A man fell through the ice walking across the lake. In five minutes, he was dead. Very sad. I'm glad I reigned in my mother's enthusiasm for the ice. I certainly didn't want to go swimming. No Polar Bear Club for me, thank you.

This morning, though it seems like yesterday...I guess it's been a long day, I woke to see a new dusting of snow on the world. It looks very pretty, even now that people have walked and driven over it. The crew came out this morning and spread some dirt on the slope and the steps of the path.

I had to teach four classes today because Adam is sick. This wasn't so bad, but one class was really annoying me, today. I hope I wasn't crabby toward the other classes. All in all, it was pretty fun. I had to rush my dinner (macaroni and cheese from the USA) and sneak a snack (cup-o-soup from here) during the two breaks of Adam's classes, but I did get food, so everything turned out okay. I'll probably order pizza tomorrow. This would mean I'd have something already here for dinner on Wednesday, so that sounds good. I'm a little short on cash right now because I didn't teach my private students last week, but I should make it with no trouble. I went shopping today, so I won't need money for a few days except pizza tomorrow, and that's not very expensive (It's a bit cheaper than Pizza Hut(TM)).

The time is 22:29, and the temperature beyond my window is -20°C/-4°F. Inside, it's 17°C/62.6°F, so I was surprised at how cold it is outside.

2003/1/7

It's official. I'm sick. If I press a breath, I make a little rasp, and my breath has that distinct but indescribable scent of illness. I had to rest four separate times today. One time, I even felt a little warm, like the precursor of dizziness. I hope that light work will be enough, because I can't exactly take the advice I was given at training: take a day or two off. I could normally, but since Adam is sick, there is no one to take my place. Cancelling a class could give us a bad reputation. If I feel worse tomorrow, I don't know what we'll do.

Kris gave me some vitamin pills and some calcium. I'm resting often, drinking a lot of fluids, and staying up too late like an idiot. Oh well. I intend to spend tomorrow morning on my bed. I probably won't sleep late, since that is not pleasant, so I guess I'll write or surf the internet and send lots of emails.

I got some letters mailed today. I had decided not to make the walk into town, but Kris mentioned he was going to the post office, so I handed him my letters and some money.

My ship finally came in. The box was smaller than I imagined, but mom made good use of the space. It only took just shy of three months to get here. Thanks, U.S. Postal Service... Fly like a turtle. I know it was surface mail, but three months is ridiculous.

Anyway, that's enough. It's probably close to -22, but I don't feel like getting up and looking.

2003/1/9

I slept late today. I got up at 12:15, when Kris lamented that I was still abed. I don't know whether the concept of bed rest is foreign to him or if I've brought this on myself by being hale and hearty for three months without interruption. He tells me to rise, drink hot tea, take vitamins, oh, and relax. To his credit, I don't think he realizes how sick I am. I'm not greatly ill. I just have some coughing and occasional weakness if I exert myself too long or too much. From what he sees, I probably don't seem any different than I have the last three months, except that my coughing is more pronounced. Anyway, I'm not upset with him. I just sit as often as possible, stay inside, drink fluids, and eat more than normal. Yesterday and today, I've been laying in bed most of the day. Yesterday, it was with my laptop. Today, I just slept.

I suppose this illness could have been what was causing the malaise I was feeling on Sunday.

I hope Adam is feeling better.

I know where Kris is coming from, though, at least partly. He doesn't want our school to get a bad reputation. I don't want to miss any classes, either, but I have to take it easy. So, I do. I sit more often and rest between classes. I wrote an update yesterday and forgot to make it visible. Bleah.

The temperature outside is -5°C/23°F

 

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