Saturday, December 29, 2001

Letter to My Friend Colin:

Survived (I seeem to be using this word more and more frequently...) an extremely formal and conservative Christmas in the village of Piaseczno--where I lived 10 years ago the first time I came to Poland. The men--sons of my host family and basically my age--wore suits with ties, and I, the slob from the Land o' Plenty, was left basically feeling inadequate in my turtle neck and blue jeans. I forgot how strange the world is at times, being constantly lulled to believe that I belong in whichever geographic space I "find" myself (or lose myself). Proud to have understood the huge passage of Jesus' birth from The Gospel of Luke in Polish. Then they proceeded to make me feel more "at home" by telling me what a strange bird I was for not eating fish: Christmas eve is a fasting day, broken by the huge--though "meatless" (fish ain't a meat! afterall)--Christmas meal which starts when the first stars in the sky are visible (i.e., around 16:30 here). Afterwards we ended up playing Milionerzy (or Who Wants to be a Millionaire?), the hugely popular game show both here and in the U.S., for several hours. My team, of course, won; that is, after the obscure words ("enamel," e.g.) were translated/explained to me.

Christmas morning we began breakfast around 10:30. I was totally pissed (don't you love how English my English has become!) by 11:00 after three huge shots of vodka. After eating I had to take a nap. And I was still loopy when I went outside with the kids to build snowpeople and have a snowball war. The 20- and 30-year-olds beat the asses of the under-11 team!

Made it back to Warsaw later that afternoon. Since then I've been watching films (Amelia finally, The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz, and the incredibly insipid and vacucous The Diary of Bridget Jones) and trying not to wallow too much in my self-proclaimed angst and ennui. Everyone in this city is implicated in my depression for creating such a place where love cannot exist. (Ah! I wax poetic!) I'm quite ready to petition for designating "sexlessness" as a mental disorder. I can't even face myself in the mirror, knowing what a wretched and loveless monster I've become.

Friday, December 7, 2001

At a loss as to what to write after ignoring my online writing responsibilities for so long. I have my health. And the people who make me happy here in Warsaw. My research, I feel (and fear), remains a bit too unfocused for me to feel comfortable being in this program, but I know I won't get to do what I'd like to do until I speak this language considerably better than I do now.

Stephen will be here in a couple of weeks. We'll travel around Poland, though we haven't yet decided on a place for New Year's. We're both thinking someplace quiet and uncrowded. Neither of us wants to relive the frustration of New Year's in Prague six years ago.

Much of my time recently has been spent considering the various options for next year and beyond. The scary beast (THE FUTURE) has raised its head on several occasions, demanding I engage it on every level imaginable: personal, academic, financial, professional, romantic.