|Last 10 min walk to work from Mat's parents flat.|
I've sort of mentioned on this blog somewhere that I moved from south Wales to south Poland this summer. For a while I was bunking in a small flat, in a block of flats, the guest of my boyfriend's parents. Five of us, the Andrzejewski's, I, B, E, M and a single Jones. It must have been hard at times for them, Irek and Ewa, Mat's folks, to have no privacy. They generously offered their room up for our use, they slept on the sofa bed from the end of July to the beginning of November, so that I could have some privacy in a strange new land! Generous is too inept a word. We finally moved out into a just about affordable flat second week of November. It's safe to say that by then I hadn't adjusted to life in an alien country all that well. I missed home terribly, the people that make it so at least. We'd hoped that this move, this new freedom, would take away some of the pressure and anxiety.
|Me in class less than a month ago, before the students arrived, 4kg lighter than today!|
Unfortunately it was too little too late. Problems with pay at work didn't improve. Initially we had been promised a good hourly rate and enough hours to live comfortably in Poland, and save for the future too. Ah, too good to be true. I have no contract, thus no employee rights. Things at the company/school are run in a most unorganized manner, they call you up 10 mins before you leave the house to start work to tell you that "you have a new group today so you'll finish later, and you should prepare (such and such level) materials for them in advance". Or you show up for work to be told that the classes have been moved, or that you'll have 6 new students or just a class of one. This all sounds innocent enough, but to someone who doesn't have years of teaching experience or a grasp of the local language, preparation is something I have to rely on heavily. If I prepare a group activity or game, and end up with one person, it doesn't work, we have to resort to something unplanned and less interesting/beneficial to the students...
So work was the same old stress, but we had more freedom at home. But this brought on untold amounts of new problems. Financial costs mainly, new this, need that etc., etc., not to mention rent and bills. Additionally the fact that I'd expected to feel, well, freer given this new space and privacy, I didn't. Yes it's kind of my place and I don't have to worry about offending anyone or being in the way, but, I'm not sure, I think maybe I blamed all my mood problems on being under everyone's feet, clearly they're much deeper, as thinking and writing about food dependence evidenced. We also had to take the bus in to work, and the massively unreliable Polish bus service meant having to be ready to leave the house up to an hour before work begun, which granted isn't new to many people! To me though, having to prepare things in the morning after waking, just to be sure I was ready to leave at 4, it felt like I was working all day long and only being remunerated for a fraction of the time. It's got me dreaming of a job where I'm a drone who doesn't have to think about work until I'm there, something I can leave behind when I physically leave. Which isn't me at all. I'm a carer, not wanting to care is a bit sad and scary.
|Windows from work, sitting and watching is still ok.|
So I continued to battle in an unsettling teaching environment. The classes themselves are mostly ok, I stress like crazy before they begin, like crazy, I think of bolting, I don't know how, getting on the wrong bus, getting run-over, anything. The thoughts of being stuck somewhere unknown where I can't communicate, or getting in an 'accident' without insurance are mostly my deterrents! When I get there though, it's ok, I'm ok, we're all ok. I have a few groups that really seem to like me! I'm so fond of them that the thought of leaving and not being able to chat with them again has me in tears. Ah if only certain circumstances were different. The idea of finding such amazing students in a future job (in an ok place that pays me) is enough to get me seriously thinking of undertaking an MA or P.G.C.E. I'm afraid that such student gems only exist in Higher/Further adult education, for which I'm told prospective teachers are increasingly required to poses Phd and MPhill qualifications, yikes, both mental and financial, double yikes! I know younger students are worth my care and patience, but, harder work I foresee. There are a couple of teens in my classes, my classes of surly teens, who light up occasionally, even laugh out loud at my funny expressions and general well-intended oddness. Some quiet ones who need encouragement, who flourish when given the opportunity. I can seek out these shy cases, because I know how it is to be quiet, to think nobody wants to hear your piece. I think it's a good thing that I could be that somebody who does want to hear your mumbled non-confident piece. I give them nicknames, we joke, they make suggestions and I implement them in our lesson plans. That side of 'work' is wonderful. The actual democracy of it all.
|Sometimes I come home from work truly 'buzzed', see?!.|
In searching for ways to overcome overeating and incorporate healthier habits, for good, I read somewhere that if you force yourself or happen to just do something often enough, everyday for 21 days for example, it becomes a habit. There was a study of people who decided to walk everyday for a month to see the benefits, and, even if there were no outstanding changes to health for some (there were of course for most, but some were fairly active before hand and just busy to walk daily, others were mostly sedentary) they continued with their daily walk as it had become routine. I'm writing this because I have a theory that if work was more settled, if I had my own room to teach in that was mine, books, resources, reliable superiors etc., then the job itself wouldn't be such a stress. If I spent more time teaching than preparing to teach then I'd eventually get over my fear. I think this is why I've never managed to do the gym or diet thing properly, I do it for a while, but never consistently every day, there are always exceptions here and there, then the exceptions outnumber the 'good' times, or times of adherence shall we say. Now I know all about moderation, I know too that I'll go home and my family and friends will say you're not a fat monster-pig, relax, indulge now and then bla bla, and it's true I'm not obese yet. But eating 3000 calories one (sedentary!) day and 300 calories the next to balance it out is wrong, unhealthy, stupid, obsessive etc., it isn't normal. The stupid thing is I've been stress-eating so much these last few weeks, worrying about Christmas, worrying that I won't get better at home, that I'll get worse. I'm now overeating because I'm worried about overeating in the near future. No sense. The fact that I'm leaving my new little home soon, the Andrzejewskis. my brilliant students, the huge sense of failure, also has it's part to play. This is my living room view. Nov- now.
The amazing thing is that the whole place has been blanketed in snow for the past couple of weeks now. The air has changed, the people have too. They're not so grey and sad-looking on the buses and streets. The white seems to reflect a little shine in everyone. This is a better idea of 'home', for less than a week now anyway.
We live on the outskirts of the city Piekary Śląskie, which is a many-churched crotch 'neath many churched skirts. Our skirt is called Dąbrówka Wielka, maybe one day I'll make a Wikipedia entry for it, I'm sure it'll be an interesting day. It's been home anyways. We tried to settle in.
|Garden view, unexpected visitors.|
|The sun has been setting outside our kitchen window.|
|The daily light is brilliant. Winter sun looks so alien.|
It's crazy how the time has flown, it's strange though we've only been living here a month, also sometimes it seems like it's been a lot longer. I sort of feel like I'm without time. I've lived the last year this way, and the others. I'm sure most people feel the same, like they don't make the most of their time, like the good times fly and the insignificant times (which make up a significant portion of hourly, daily, weekly etc., times) are sort of endless, expansive. Winter certainly adds to this time distortion, it's like I can see it speeding up, time that is, but the general feel of my December days is one of gloom. Mat remarked the other day that when I wake up in the morning he sees my face and he can tell I'm disappointed to be awake. It's true, I wake and I think "this again!?" I hate it, not because I'm not a 'morning person', I just feel stagnant and disappointed, with myself, I wake and know, today you'll fail. Fail to eat normally, to shower, to get dressed. At least outside is pretty, crisp, very cold for me. Not that I venture out often. When we moved a month ago the sun was just setting by the time I'd get the bus to work (16.20ish), these last couple of weeks it's been dark before I get to the bus stop. I like the dark. I wish it were getting dark by the time I finish work.
|Saw this on my way to the bus stop.|
|Mostly bare walls after taking down my photos.|
It's not a bad little place as you can tell, we even have a little wood burner in the corner of our living room. I'm just starting to work on communication with Mat, so leaving now is a real shame for an extra added reason to the list. A long list. We started to understand each others problems a little better. He's been neglecting himself recently. Where I've shot up to 68kg he's shrunk down to just 60, when he doesn't feel great, emotional stress etc., he doesn't eat, not intentionally, he just can't sometimes, he doesn't remember to, he retreats into his mind and forgets his physical surroundings. It makes things complicated further. I'm trying to keep away from food he's trying to get closer. I wonder if the humans of generations past developed such bewildering and convoluted relationships with food. He made this little banner as a reminder to us both to stop making "I'll be better tomorrow" excuses. I certainly need help staying in the present. I also woke one morning after he'd gone to work to find stickers with "control :-* " on the jam jars, nut bowls, sugar and such. I cannot quite describe how touched I was. I felt "finally he gets it", finally.
Last weekend we planned to go get some Christmas gifts for my family, so that I could pack and send them with my clothes/books/life boxes that were actually picked up this afternoon, scheduled to arrive in the UK next Wednesday. It was such a cold cold morning, it was like -10 or something outside, the car wouldn't start. The plan was to pick up Mat's folks, drive to some shopping centre somewhere, and, well, shop. We had to leave it until the afternoon because of the cold cold battery.
|First decorations seen in a shopping centre, they leave it late here.|
|I had to get a shot of these creepy Santas while looking for sweet treats for family.|
|Seriously how creepy is that?!|
|So creepy they had to put glasses on them in the end.|
|Bad photo (divine intervention?), Jesus sells anything in Poland.|
When we got back from shopping the sun was going down behind the trees and the scene reminded me so much of some dark expressionist sunset, maybe Munch, maybe even early Mondrian, I can't find what I'm thinking of on the internet, despite several key-worded search attempts, ah well, it's in my head and that's what counts.
|Sledging near Mat's folks flat.|
That same weekend we were treated to a slide show of Mat's folks old slides, there were dozens of amazing baby shots of Mat, but so many cool photographs of his mother and father too. These are a couple I caught.
After our late afternoon slide show we headed to the cinema for an early evening showing of The Cloud Atlas, it was English so suitable for me, and appealed to everyone else too. I think we all enjoyed it, it was all in all a wonderful evening. Mat's family are so cool I feel guilty for leaving so soon and not getting the chance to know them properly yet. Plus they've extended such generosity and kindness towards me, it feels like a real defeat that I couldn't get it together and make it work under those circumstances. Monday I spent the morning wrapping presents before work, and a spot of productive packing too. It was so sad to be packing my pitiful life into boxes yet again, so soon after the summer's packing and unpacking. It was also sad trying to decide in advance what clothes I'd be wearing over Christmas, and remembering all the rain back home. Sad because I don't fit into a lot of my clothes at present, which, c'mon, depressor! Sad too because of all the lovely white I've grown accustomed to of late (though - 25 can fuck right off for February thank you very much). You know what's even more depressing than all of that? My stupidity of course! I bought several bottles of various lovely Polish liqueurs and spirits, just assuming I could pack them away with my clothes and other gifts, only to wonder after wrapping; "wait a minute, can you send alcohol in the post...?" No Helen. No you absolutely can't you enormous dick.
So, wondering how many I could take in a suitcase on a plane (next Friday's flight will be my third, only been Stansted - Fez, Fez - Stansted before now) and finding out how lovely the people at Ryanair are was fun. I'm now, with the huge help of Mat, trying to stressfully work out if I can send a special (pricey!) courier out before Christmas. It is unbelievably stressing. It sucks that if I do manage to arrange one I'll have to unpack the presents I've packed to confirm the % of Alcohol is below 70 for each bottle, *sigh*. I'm such a complete tosser sometimes! All of this to sort out next week, plus I've transferred my money to my UK account, assuming I'd be paid in cash this week, so that I can close my Polish account next week, but now I'm not sure if I will be paid at all and there's this new effing courier to sort, my head is in the shed. It's supposed to feel all nice and Christmassy right about now, but isn't.
They finally started putting up Christmas decorations in the center of Piekary, which is a welcome sight in the low-cloudy nights. Tuesday evening Mat and I went to see the Moscow city ballet perform in the nearby city of Zabrze. Our Christmas gifts to each other. We dressed smart and drove on over. Despite the photos below it was quite crowded and popular, despite the high ticket price for Poland. I wasn't able to enjoy it as much as I'd anticipated, not only were other stresses attempting to drag me into the abyss of my mind, but, there was no live instruments! I was so crestfallen, for all we knew the whole (mono!) sound was streamed from The Very Best of Tchaikovsky on Spotify. The dancing was a little clunky and odd too. I'd never been to a ballet before, but, I was expecting something different. Ah expectation, the weight of you is crushing.
I'm sorry if you've read this far, reader. This is all sounding like some angry teen 'woe-is-me!' rant. Which I guess it kind of is, a seemingly never ending stream of complaints, interspersed with blurred phone photos hither and thither...
Never fear, more uplifting posts to come, to be sure!
I'm drinking a Yogi tea right now and the tab reads: Wealth is a healthy communication. That is all....