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Jesień / Autumn

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Jesień jest wtedy, kiedy robię naleśniki z dżemem. Częściej niż zwykle. Wtedy, kiedy usypia mnie dźwięk deszczu bębniącego o parapet po drugiej stronie szyby. I budzi też. Wtedy, kiedy chmury biorą pierwszeństwo nad słońcem, rozpychając się samolubnie po niebie. Wtedy, kiedy gdy jadę o poranku na rowerze, liście szeleszczą pod kołami. I marzną dłonie, więc na zmianę wkładam raz jedną, raz drugą do kieszeni kurtki, żeby je odrobinę ogrzać. Continue reading “Jesień / Autumn”

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Such a week

It all started with Michal, last Friday. He was awarded with The Alchemist’s Award and he will soon start his travel across South America. This all thanks to my Iza, who left no stone unturned to make it happen.

Then Ania passed her exam for the trucks driving licence. She will soon start driving them. That has always been a dream of hers.

And now B. passed a very difficult interview and she was awarded scholarship. She will start her studies in Germany since September.

Continue reading “Such a week”

I am the lucky one

My name is Kasia, I’m 31 years old and I am the lucky one.

I am lucky becasue although I was born in a country with a communist system, I don’t really remember much from those times, except climbing trees and playing blocks. The system fell apart when I was 5 years old – so it didn’t manage to force me to anything what I didn’t want to, like e.g. marriage below 18 years old – which is the experience of 1/3 girls in the developing countries or 1/9 below 15 years old. Like 76% girls below 18 and 28% girls below 15 years old in Niger [1].

Continue reading “I am the lucky one”

My Warsaw Book Club

One of the coolest things I have ever organized in life is our Book Club. I remember when I was invited by Agnieszka to participate in a Book Club meeting myself for the first time and I was feeling so stressed when going there. I was thinking whether I will be able to conduct a-very-intelectual-conversation-on-a-very-theoretical-level. All of my doubts and hesitations dissapeared the moment I came – I enjoyed the meeting a lot and we had wonderful conversations. The biggest discovery for me, however, was that you can read the book in so many different ways! And that was an amazing discovery, really!

The main difference between the Book Club I was participating in and the one I wished to participate was that I wanted to read more contemporary books. The one I was attending was amazing, with lots of smart and wonderful people, but the book choice was very different from what I was reading on a daily basis. And I really wanted to discuss the books I was reading myself. So – as John & Pawel posted recently on my Facebook profle:

I spoke with a couple of people around, all of them were saying that it’s an awesome idea and they all wanted to participate. So I thought “Ok, it’s a cool idea and it looks like it’s going to work” and for the first meeting we have chosen the book “Male lisy” (“The little foxes”) by Justyna Bargielska. Lenght: ca. 100 pages. I was sure that people should be up to read it.

Paula was the only one that came. And we were there, in the corridor, Paula was taking off her coat (it was October, so it was a bit chilly already) and she said that she had not finished reading the book. But she still wanted to discuss it – she added quickly. “At least! I thought – We will make it”.

You always have to start somehow. Maybe there are only the two of us, but let’s try it. And so we did.

I made a pot of tea and we started talking with Paula on my couch about “The little foxes”. For two hours or so! I made another pot of tea. At the end of the meeting we chose the book (“Niebko” by Brygida Helbig) and the date for the next one. Paula didn’t make it, but Gosia and Justyna came. And there was my couch and the pot of tea again.

This is how it all started. Eventually we have changed my couch into Wrzenie Swiata,as it was easier for everyone to reach. The pot of tea has always been there.

Nowadays our meeting are attended by approximately four people. We meet more or less once a month to talk about the book and all the book-related topics. We choose the book for the next month and we decide about the date.

I haven’t read one book so far (“Drach” by Szczepan Twardoch) but I came to the club to listen to the discussion. I have missed two meetings (the discussions about “Thinking is a form of feeling” by Susan Sontag and “Detroit: An American Autopsy” by Charlie LeDuff) – I was travelling in the Middle East back then. Today I’m also not going to participate in the meeting – I’ll be leaving Poland later on today. And girls will meet in the evening in Warsaw to discuss the book “Egypt: Haram Halal” by the Polish author Piotr Ibrahim Kalwas.

The Club is celebrating its first birthday today. 12th meeting. And I’m very proud of it! ❤

Czyzowice, 14 October 2015 (written in Warsaw on 2nd September 2015 – after the last Book Club’s meeting)

I’ve been thinking

 

Joanna Bator, my favourite Polish writer, has once said that one should not fight insomnia. That when it comes, you should simply accept it, get up and do something useful. Wait until the dream eventually decides to come. I first tried all the methodes: it was too hot – so I took off the socks. It was too cold then – I put on the thinner ones. It was too hot again – I took off the hoodie. It was too cold – I put on the thinner one. I changed the bed’s side. I put the head on the legs’ side. And then I eventually gave up, got up and looked at the time. It was 2.22. I turned on the light and the music, quiet sounds of Camille O’Sullivan’s album “Changeling” spread out across the room. I didn’t have enough energy to write, so I’ve been only laying down in my bed. And I’ve been thinking.

I’ve been thinking about how much has happened in my life in the last six months. Becasue it’s been already six months since I quit job and decided to look for myself in the world. I’ve been thinking about the first three weeks at home, then three months in Israel, Palestine and Jordan. Then two weekes in Warsaw and Krakow, a month in my family village again, finally next two weeks in Warsaw. And then one week on the way and the last one here, in Krakow. This is how those six months looked like in a geographical order.

I’ve been thinking about how many times I had to cross my own border – of fear, uncertainty, trying something new, submitting to what the fate will bring and not what I have planned. Unstoppable lessons of humility, which which life has been giving me across those six months, all the time.

I’ve been thinking about how I was learning how to be happy. And how difficult lesson it was (and still is). How much I’ve been taught “not to be happy” in my life (in order to not to jinx because then it will not work; or becasue others don’t have it, so I should be ashamed rather than happy..) and how much being happy is still a matter of shame for me and I have to get out of my comfort zone every single time. How much I wanted to put myself into such instability to learn about happiness and appreciation. I wasn’t able to appreciate enough all I had had: stable well-paid job & cool people to work with; family; lots of friends; my own flat (with a mortage, but somehow still with the feeling of ownership). The only thing missing in this life jigsaw puzzle of mine was the feeling of happiness. And although I didn’t have any idea about how to find it, I decided to look for it at least. That’s how I ended up i here, six months later.

I’ve been thinking about the time in Israel, when I was living in the six-people dorm most of the time. When I was learning about the life in completely new conditions surrounded by a completely new culture. How happy I was about every single skype conversation with friends – from Poland, from all over the world, back then. And this discovery I made that I actually know how to be happy and that this happiness in me is deep, honest and beautiful.

I’ve been thinking about this one month at my family home, when I re-discovered friendship that was lost somewhere on the way. And how slowly time was passing by in there, slipping through the fingers, dragging like a chewing gum. And how sunny August was this year, I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful one. Every single day was sunny and beautiful. And how I re-discovered the time with my parents as well. Many evenings spent together on the terrace or inside, watching sports. And the time with my granny. Bike trips with friends and a lot of laughs. A lot of laughs with my sister as well, whom I told that I regret a bit that we are not in a similar age, because it could be quite cool together. But I actually don’t regret it becasue she is the best sister in the world and I would not exchange her into any other.

I’ve been thinking also about how “I don’t have regular incomes” sentence cuts all the telephone calls from banks, for whom I stopped being an interesting client.

I’ve been thinking about this bike project of mine, that suddenly happened to be a good energy release and that I would never expect such a huge positive wave of reactions. And how difficult it was to ask people to join the project and not to make them fell offended or badly in any way.

I’ve been thinking about how much I’ve learnt to re-define a success over those six months. And that one of the biggest successes of those months for me is the fact that so many people have registered to Polak Potrafi – a Polish crowdfunding platform and although for many of them my project was the first one they ever supported, I hope it will not be the last. And that I was able to create the atmosphere of a community around this project and get so many people involved.

I’ve been thinking about Iza and her #Don’tTellHim project, which has a lot of special meaning for me. And that I don’t remember when was the last time, when I so much wanted something to come true for someone I haven’t even met personally. And how much happiness brought me every single FB post and every single message from Iza.

I’ve been thinking about many other things.. and then I suddenly fell asleep.

Ps. I also have this reflection recently, although it’s a very hackneyed slogan, I know, but I’ve been thinking a lot about it and I really think that it’s worth to try to find your own way. Draft a direction and follow it. To try. Becasue for now, every time when I have a worse day or a very bad day and I think “why the hell am I doing all this shit?”, I immediately ask myself “do I (already) regret that I have tried?” as well. And the answer has been “No, I don’t regret”, so far.

Krakow, 26 September 2015

Why I’m happy about participating in the 7th Congress of Women

I’m dedicating this post to Justyna, Kamila, Ala, Paula and Karolina – five women without whome all that would have never happened! ❤

The Congress of Women is an event gathering thousands of women from all around Poland once a year in Warsaw. I had a huge priviledge – maybe not the easiest and often a bitter one, but still a priviledge – to be organizing it for the previous three editions. That’s why this year has been quite different for me.

This year – together with Paula, Ala, Justyna, Kamila and Karolina, we have organized the Center of Young Women – the space for young women (like us) at the Congress to make them (us) feel good and welcome and at the right place. The space that has been missing at leastat the three last edition’s of the event.

For the last couple of months we’ve been working hard to make it happen. From very different places, skyping, emailing, meeting in person twice but never in the whole group. After all that work, seeing the result – our result, I can definitely say that I’m very very proud of us all. Despite all the differences between each other, despite very strong characters we all have, despite the distances (the physical ones!) – not only we have managed, but we’ve managed with a great success!! And the only thing I regret is that we have not made a common photo. That’s why I’m posting the collage below – to virtually connect us all once again. Girls – we rock! ❤

CMK team: Paula, Karolina, Justyna, Kamila, Ala and me
Center of Young Women team at the 7th Congress of Women: Paula, Karolina, Justyna, Kamila, Ala and me

But the Congress brought much more things I’m grateful for!

For Panna Pollyanna and that she had dressed me up for the event! A beautiful elegant light pink-coloured dress idea was quite tricky because it had caught everybody’s attention – especially those that are used to myself being dressed in jeans and t-shirt! The flowered-colorful-dress I got for the second day + the “I love my bike” badge was making everybody (especially me) smile. Really! Thank you, Iza!

Being a speaker at the Congress and talking about my experiences and fears connected with Girl on Bike project was a very new experience to me as well. And it also made me feel both happy and thankful. Many wonderful participants came to listen and ask the questions. And I could see their smiles and their warm eyes and I think that at least for those smiles and those eyes (and those hugs I was given after the meeting) it was worth making this project happen. Kamila who was speaking together with me has been one of the greatest inspirations for me recently and it was a pleasure to listen to her and answer the questions she had asked me. Thank you, Kama!

It’s been also amazing to speak and facilitate meetings with another women I had a chance to invite for the Congress. Edyta Kotowicz – the social innovator, co-founder of The Jillion – a new crowdfunding platform and an energy volcano and a great inspiration at the same time. Yael Vishnizki Levi – an artist and a curator speaking about her art project, how it did happen that she lives in Poland right now and how she does feel like in here. Iza Stawicka vel Panna Pollyanna – amazing, inspiring and extremely warm person that was speaking about her recipes for happiness. And Our Little Adventures at the end of the day – a meeting I was not facilitating but listening to – Karolina & Mariusz (and Mania) – a couple travelling with a child speaking about how to be partners, not only when travelling but especially in life. Thank you guys: Edyta, Yael, Iza, Karolina, Mario for your openess, engagement and sharing yourselves with us!

I’m also very happy that I had a chance to meet and see many – important in my life – women. The meetings happened in very different dircumstances (look at the picture below) – they were longer or shorter, on the couches or stand-up (or on the floor), while being tired and/or rested, in the morning and in the evening, in peace and in run, a smiles exchange only sometimes. But they did happen – and that is was what mattered!

With Gosia
With Gosia 🙂

Beata! I’m very very happy that you came and took so many beautiful pictures for us! And I’m super happy to have eventually a photo with you as well! ❤ Thank you for coming and supporing us!!

With Beata Lechowicz - a photographer and an author of many photos for this project!
With Beata Lechowicz – a photographer and an author of many photos for this project! (photo: Mariusz Zielonka)

It was a good time with good meetings and a lot of inspirations. This is how my piece of the Congress looked like. Hania, Agata S., Agata J., Julia, Dorota and all the other people I don’t personally know – thank you so much for creating that space. I know pretty well how much work it must have been for you. And that’s what makes me soooo very thankful to have those moments in my head now. Because these are the ones which easly transfer into a smile on my face!

photo by Beata Lechowicz
photo by Beata Lechowicz

Warsaw, 14 September 2015

A little hatred

hosea-ballou-quotes

A local newspaper has published an article about my bike trip’s plan. The trip itself is not such a big deal – it’s just a bike trip, from Warsaw to Istanbul, maybe not an ordinary thing (at least not for me), but also nothing really unique. On the other hand – it feels really nice that the plan has been noticed and that there was someone who wanted to write about it.

Several comments have been published under the article :

  • “I think you should ride around Ryjewo and then around Poland and speak with ordinary people (not with local elites like e.g. in Ryjewo), but with those that have been debased by the party you are supporting. I can guarantee that this is much more tragic than the stories from the Balkans” – wrote lolek (logged as a guest).
  • “She will be cut into kebaps in Istanbul! And they are going to create a local bus for driving kids out of her bike. I’m curious who is sponsoring her? Dad or mum?” – wrote Polski Murzyn (a Polish Nygga) – also logged as a guest. And then added: “That’s a pity she is doing that for other people’s money instead of her owns! Time to start working after a few years of studying and not begging in the Internet! There won’t be a civilization’s jump and the Green Island here with such idlers around!”
  • mieszkaniec (resident) – also logged as guest – added: “Ms Traveller will not let to make herself into a kebap becasue she used to work for the Cogress of Women. She will bring the torch of learning taken from Ms Sroda into the Muslim countries and she will now teach them how they should treat women 😉 Well, good luck.”

As such an unpleasant wave of comments has never happened to me personally before, I started to wonder, what makes people write such things, namely: claiming to know better than me what I’m going to speak about in the Balkan countries and that these are going to be tragic stories only; knowing my political views and the party I’m supporting; staying publicaly racist and xenophobic; being curious though where do I take the money from and not being satisfied that there are other people willing to support me; knowing I’m an idler doing nothing, but knowing I’ve been studying at the same time (good research!); and eventually having knowledge about where I’ve been working befor, they know also all my secret plans.”

The time I’ve spent on writing this article is probably not worth it. But as such thing happened to me for the very first time, I felt I needed to express it.

At the same time I keep looking at the link to the article published on Facebook with almost 70 “likes” and comments of a very different kind: “I will keep my fingers crossed”, “good luck”, “safe trip” – signed by people’s own names and surnames.

And it only makes me wonder why people lose their time to write such comments, especially when they don’t want to sign them with their names and surnames. At the end of the day they know what opinions they have and they are not ashamed to speak them out loud anonymously. Why not sign it officialy and show the face then?

ignore the drama

Warsaw, 8 September 2015

Doubts

Yesterday I eventually passed the treshold of the minimum amount on Polak Potrafi, which means 5000 PLN will already be mine for sure. That means that I’m going on this journey. It has just happened! Yay!

But at the same time I also started having some doubts, becasue the other savings are shrinking and there is less of them than I thought I was going to have. And I’m thinking quite a lot about maybe finding some winter job on the way in Austria for one month or two to get the budget a little up in order to have a bit more money and a bit more peace of mind. I have also decided to apply to the Ministry of Culture for a creative scholarship for the next year, although I don’t believe I have big chances to win, but I wanna try at least.

Those last two weeks – and this is how long it took me to collect the minumum sum of money, have showed me a lot. It was a really hard work – hours spent in front of the computer, hundreds of e-mails sent, countless conversations. But they brought also a lot of beautiful moments. First of all it was quite amazing having 80 people that decided to donate for my project in two weeks. 80 people! Secondly – my invitations to join the project brought a lot of good stories that people have shared with me and renewed many lost-in-the-past contacts.

The longer I’m in Poland, the bigger pressure I feel that I should be doing something. That yes, it’s cool, awesome what I’m doing or planning to do, but at the same time everyone goes to work every day, earns money and I sit back home the whole day in front of the computer most of the time. And it makes me feel quite uncomfortable. That’s interesting, isn’t it?

Another thing is that I also started to feel that I actually wanna go back to work. I supposed that it was going to happen one day and I was quite surprised it took that long! But suddenly here it is, I got there again. So what I fell is kind of need of a bit of stabilization, regaining my own place and recreating the space around me. Becasue five months out of work and out of stabilization and out of your friends circle is quite a while, isn’t it?

At the same time I really really really wanna make this project happen.

What should I do now?

Rio (Ryjewo), 30 August 2015

About last weekend and identity issue

During the weekend I decided to cut myself off a bit from Girl on Bike, its FB fanpage, money collection etc. Of course I have not managed to do it 100% and I checked FB and Polak Potrafi’s platform from time to time, but I have not sent a single “work” e-mail. But I’ve done a lot of other stuff and again magic things started to happen!

I went to visit my granny on Saturday. And suddenly, out of the blue, we started to talk with granny about the past and granma told me a lot of family stories. So I slowly started to analyze what is going on and it looks like I am: 1/4 from current Podkarpacie (granny Halina), 1/4 from where my parents currently live (grandpa Bruno), 1/4 from Zamojszczyzna (grandpa Roman) and 1/4 from Warmia (granny Maria). Which makes qiute an interesting mix and explains a bit my constant need of moving around!

So on Saturday I was listening to the stories of my greatgrandparents and greatgreatgrandparents (from my granny’s side), stories about Katyn, Lviv, Argentina, Detroid, Warsaw reconstruction, displacements, Russian soldiers etc. etc. The biggest (and most amazing!) surprise was a diary of my greatgrandpa (my granny’s dad), which I have received from granny. We’ve talked about it years ago, but the diary itself did not belong to grandma. She knew however that I’m interested in our family’s story and I’m a bit rummaging in our past. So she has extracted it for me. Amazing! The diary of my greatgrandpa Jozef, who started writing it at a day of his wedding with my greatgrandma Stefania at 10 April 1939. I had tears in my eyes!

With granny Halina listening to family stories

And on Sunday I took my whole family for a trip to Kadyny. Kadyny – a place where my dad used to live for the first 10 years of his life (0 to 10). So we went there and my dad was telling us – here was a school (a restaurant now), here was a dayroom where I have watched “Winnetou” for the first time and I cried my heart out, and here is Bazynski’s Oak Tree – second oldest oak tree in Poland, here was wood depot where I used to play with my buddies, here was a playground where we played football.. And we were driving through this tiny village (of around 450 inhabitants right now), dad was spinning the stories, I was taking the pictures, and we all were listening. And eventually we have decided to ring the doors, where dad lived as a child and where he has not been since… 1970! One day in the past I have met the woman who lives there right now – Ms Magda at the Congress of Women in Elblag and she had invited me/us to visit herself one day. And that’s how I have introduced myself now. We stayed there for half an hour, told each other different stories, started to getting to know each other a bit. Dad asked to take a picture of him unter the grapevine, where he had exactly the same one taken (exactly!) 50 years ago! I need to find it now and put the two of them together.

Dad and grapevine
Dad and grapevine

We went to the nearby beach after that and then to Pogrodzie, where dad was born (I know now in which house exactly!), and to Tolkmicko, where was was supposed to go to the fourth grade, but then his parents have moved to Ryjewo (Rio).

I’m writing this all not to forget, to keep memory of those moments. Becasue I believe they are quite magical and we need to collect such magical memories.

Rio (Ryjewo), 23 August 2015

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