Saturday, October 31, 2020
Saturday, October 24, 2020
Last week I wrote about the newly enforced red zone rules. As of today, we are now in red zone 2.0. The red zone restrictions are now in place all across Poland, and they are even more strict: restaurants are only open for take out and delivery, public gatherings are limited to five people, and schools are now all virtual (with the exception of a few grades). I tried to convince Cameron to go out to dinner last night for one last hurrah, but he is Mr. Safety and asked that we avoid being reckless. I did happen to have dinner with some friends on Thursday, before any new restrictions were announced, so I feel like I managed to slip in my own little final hurrah.
Coronavirus definitely feels like it is hitting closer to home this time around. Two of my friends had to cancel on me because someone in their vicinity tested positive, and I just learned that some of my coworkers had gotten sick. Apparently one of them had his wedding a few weeks ago, after which he, his wife, and 40 of their guests left with a new friend- Miss Rona.
Clearly, the Polish government is trying to regain some control, but they don't know exactly how to go about it. To compensate, they're taking it out on women's rights.
On Thursday, it was ruled that abortions due to birth defects are "unconstitutional." Poland had already limited just a bout all other abortions, with only about 1000 legal abortions conducted last year. I know Poland is not my country, but it still is bad news that now gets to take up space in my brain. It is infuriating and tactless that someone decided that now is the time to drop this bomb.
My Facebook today if filled with commiserating posts, red lightning bolts, and messages of "piekło kobiety," "wybór nie zakaz," and "to jest wona" (roughly: "beautiful women," "don't forbid choice," and "this is war.") Last night there was a women's march in Old Town. People were encouraged to wear black, bring signs & coat hanger, and of course wear a mask. Had I found out about it sooner I might have gone, but the subsequent videos are ominous, largely because it gets dark by 17:00 (although Poland daylight savings time is tomorrow). The dark mood was intended to convey "a funeral for women's rights." I haven't heard any negative repercussions from the Krakow march, but I know the Warsaw gathering included pepper spray and arrests.
Well, I suppose I should end it on a good note. Hmm, let's see...the final presidential debate wasn't as shouty as the first one? Uh...my client who can be a bit of a bully was actually really chill on Friday? I really love having a dryer again and being able to hug newly dried warm clothes? Eh, good enough.
Sunday, October 18, 2020
- Greeting a group of people, even just acquaintances "my friends"
- Someone told a story where the character had to call "nine eleven."
- Babie lato literally translate to grandma summer but is the Polish equivalent of "Indian summer." Unfortunately, I don't think we will have any second waves of summer to pair with our second wave of pandemic this year.
- October is also the end of the "holiday season." The first time I heard that term I assumed Polish people are just very advanced planners but "holiday season" refers to the summer months that people take vacation.
- In English we might shorten "good morning" to "morning." Germans do it, too- "Gutten morgen" can be just "morgen." "Dzień dobry" would never be just "dzień."
- Wedding rings are worn on the left hand rather than the right hand. I've heard that it used to be on the right hand and you would only move your ring to the left hand after your spouse died. During the wars there were so many deaths that left hands just became the common place.
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Sunday, October 4, 2020
As of today, October 4th, Aackle has officially been in Krakow for one year. When I walk around the city, I still am giddy by how charming it is and I'm even happier that I've cut our my little space in it. Reading back to my first blog post from Poland (9 October, 2019) it seems that my life today could have been predicted to a T. For example, on day 1 in this city I had already started networking with a director at Pwc; now that man is my coach and team leader. It's really fun to recount what my goals were for myself a year ago and realize that I actually have been pretty successful and achieving them.
Clearly, getting a job was the top of my priority list. "Job" felt like the direct path to friends, culture, and purpose. Thanks to beurocratic delays it took four months but now I have the exact job I expected to have–working as an auditor for a public accounting firm. I admit it's not my dream job, nor did I ever expect it to be, and I look back to my days as a housewife enviously, but it has filled my days. I enjoy going back into the office on occasion and having a group of people to gossip with and my manager likes to teach me new Polish phrases to express my frustration. Most importantly though I learned that it's not having a job that makes me happy and it's quite freeing to realize I don't have to make work my only priority.
Not that work was every my only priority. Making friends was also high on the list and I laugh at the ways I went about it at first. Why I thought that going to a startup brainstorming event would lead to friendships, whose to say. Through the aid of women's groups, expat groups, Bumble BFF, work, and friends of friends I've found myself it the lovely situation of having too many friends. Last night to celebrate (and to have an excuse to use all of the mattresses in the house) I had some friends over for a sleepover. Going to dinner is one type of friendship, but if you are willing to hang out with someone for 16 hours and sleep in their house that's a good friendship.
Learning Polish was another goal I gave myself, and probably the only impossible goal, but honestly I'm quite pleased with myself. Look back through old posts I remember the garbled sounds I made when trying to order obwarzanek or zapiekanka. Now I can even write them without having to look up how the words are spelt! I am nowhere near fluent, or even conversational, but I'm really please that I typically know the most important words to get my point across. Yesterday, Cameron and I went shopping at Stary Kleparz, Krakow's oldest operating marketplace, and I felt like a Polish couple- I was requesting tomatoes and mushrooms and paying with exact change while Cameron collected all of our purchases.
Yesterday's outing also included a stop at a new bubble tea shop and an art store. Round trip it was probably an hour of walking. Although I glanced at my phone for a directional reminder occasionally I know I could have gotten us to these places on my own accord without too much back tracking. I really wanted to know my way around the city, and even though I'm not always confident, I generally feel like I have a general sense of where I'm going and I always know which way is home. I even feel good about public transportation and will quickly change my mind about which tram route if I see a different number pulling up to the station. Of course the true test would be to show off the city to others, but that wasn't a possibility this year. Fingers crossed travel restrictions are (safely) lifted next summer!
The root of all of these 'goals' was a strong desire to fit in. I wanted others to think I was a local with a normal Polish life. I know that is an impossibility, and I've shed some stress now that I'm not longer striving for that. Although I still appreciate the amazement on my Polish friends' faces when I order a coffee in Polish, there is a freedom being able to go up to the counter and also ask "what do you recommend" in English and not feeling guilty about that. I love my little life in Poland, and I love it even more knowing that there's only one year left. Since it seems I'm unexpectedly good at predicting the future I would like the universe to know that I expect to start loving my job, all of my American family/friends will visit next year, I'll be able to travel to Georgia/Sweden/Ireland before we move away from Europe, we will go skiing in the Alps, and Cameron will find his equivalent of my women's groups–it's going to be a great year!