Thursday, 13 May 2010


I stumbled home from work at about 5.15 pm, climbed into bed, read half the Financial Times and about two pages of my Italian detective novel and fell asleep for two hours. Finally I have found a job that mops up all the excess brain activity and leaves me with no energy to write. On the one hand, I love the job, I'm thrilled to finally be doing what I've wanted to do for - ok - the last maybe only two or three years. But on the other hand, I'm aware that I'm spending all day voicing someone else's opinion, trying to concentrate on a meeting that I knew nothing about yesterday and that will mean nothing to me tomorrow.

My - admittedly rather rather boring, 'let's please everyone' nice girl - personality wants to assert itself. I want to do something for ME. I sing an awful lot*, but the one activity where I really feel creative and feel proud of myself is writing - even when it's just a silly little blog post.

It's funny: I arrived in Krakow over three years ago, in April 2007, and there was almost too much to write: I couldn't cram it all in. I was grappling with an impossible language (and still am for that matter), a Slavic, Catholic culture that was largely unfamiliar and my first full-time job in a very different country. Every day I was presented with situations that could be either terrifying and discouraging or utterly hilarious. I chose the latter option. And I got there by writing about it. Had I not taken all my terrifying experiences with banks and Urzędy Skarbowe and the genitive case and Bad Obwarzanki Ladies and made them sound all cute and quirky and funny, I would have thrown myself into the Wisła after the first couple of months.

Here in Brussels, things are a little more familiar. Yes, the bureaucracy is a pain in the arse. Yes, customer service is if anything worse than in Poland. Yes, there are weird traditions (peeing statues, the Zinneke parade, a Kriek & Frites festival that resembled nothing so much as a family wedding in the country), but I tend not to get so involved in them. I find myself less inclined to take sneaky photos. I hang out with other ex-pats and have little contact with the locals. Language is not a problem: I speak fairly craptastic but at least serviceable French and have no intention - for the moment - of learning Dutch because languages are work now and do you have any idea how many Polish words I still have to learn?! One thing at a time, people!

So, for the moment my posts are cursory, summary, lacking in creative flair.

Here's a quick round up of the headlines, just in case you were wondering:

- Election: I'm so pleased that there's a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition. Apart from anything else, I couldn't decide who to vote for. And DC and Clegg look so cute together...

- Ash cloud: I have a couple of flights planned over the next two months so I'm really hoping it stays away from Brussels. Besides which, I blame it for the freezing weather that Belgium is currently 'enjoying'. I swear I could see my breath condensing in front of me as I walked past the park this morning.

- Polish update: I've been branching out into detective novels and just finished Tęczowy Cocktail by Helena Sekuła (thanks Peixote). I'm at the stage where there are still a lot of words I don't know, but this doesn't prevent my following the story. This means that I carry on reading and probably miss essential details of the plot. I put this down to sheer laziness - but on the other hand, if you spend too long looking up words, you lose concentration and your understanding of the whole sentence is affected. In any case, I have a Polish dictionary on my phone and use it whenever... well, whenever I'm not too lazy.

Talking of too lazy, I think it's bedtime.

Oh - and a resolution: I will try and find just one little thing to comment on each day - even if it's only a few lines. One tiny, quirky or interesting thing about Brussels, Belgium, languages, Polish culture, and all the other the things we like to mull over here. (By we I mean me and people who comment - I'm not giving myself the royal 'we' yet, far from it...)

*  among other things


peixote said...

My pleasure.

Deleted said...

I sympathise completely (and I'm glad it's not just me!)...

Jeannie said...

I'm so glad you'll be giving us snippets each day. I think we tend to overwhelm ourselves. Breaking it down sounds like a plan. :-)