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My experience in Poland 15 years ago as an American trying to live and work there.


Foreigner4 12 | 1,769
1 Nov 2010  #31
Hey man, first and foremost, that was good writing.
Fcuk the haters.
You at least have the guts to look at life from the dark side and still come out well enough. Some of these other naysayers lack the ability to actually be introspective and critical- they'd have a breakdown if that happened. Seems like you've come out on top.
OP michaelmansun 11 | 135
1 Nov 2010  #32
delphiandomine
Yes but all true. If I didnt keep some incidents brief, it would drag on into boredom. My book is really a collection of stories all bound together by a common timeline.

Thank you for your responses. I hope it sells.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,596
1 Nov 2010  #33
Yes but all true.

Well, of course - a diary should at least pretend to be real.

I suppose there's a touch of the "Merde" books there too.
poland_
2 Nov 2010  #34
btw, there were more beggars in Zakopane than Krakow back then.

They were in Warsaw too, it just happened that my experience was in Krakow. Hey it was all happy days.
Havok 10 | 912
2 Nov 2010  #35
Yes, I know how you feel. The point was that I was losing my humanity.

Well, I can definitely relate to this... Like Spaceman said,

There is a little bit of him in everyone of us.

I really enjoyed reading it. I think you have something here.
OP michaelmansun 11 | 135
2 Nov 2010  #36
Foreigner4
Hey man, first and foremost, that was good writing.

Thank you!. It is difficult to write sometimes and not seem as if you are trying to be clever. This was my true experience in Krakow in 1995-1997. I fabricated nothing. The book goes on past that, and it gets even stranger at various times. But I believe that the book will be chopped. Meaning, there is enough material up to 1997. After that it becomes more or less a daily struggle for normalcy after gaining some foothold in the place.

Many references to the old woman incident. Well, it reminds me of Bialy. Zamachowski is on the street after his wife divorces him, takes his home, his business and his money and he enjoys watching the old man struggling to put his bottle in the recycle bin. He smirks to himself as if he is entertained by someone else's hardship. A kind of relief for him to see someone else having a bad life.

No, I am not like that. It is when I realized that I was losing it, or that I was becoming like others. Just not caring.

Thank you for the positive comment. The book is meant to entertain, not depress, and not to bore. Maybe someone else has had a similar experience and can relate. As you said, a foreigner in a strange place, trying to figure out what the heck it is all about. Just struggling to understand, but at the same time to survive. There are some nights I spent on the streets, or in the train station, in the winter. Or in the Cały Dobę 24 Hour Non-stop Sexy Texas Cafe near the train station. I'll never forget those odd sounding names for these little places. Feeling nearly frozen, but unable to understand why I just would not leave. I think I felt challenged, and was refusing to be beaten.
trener zolwia 1 | 940
2 Nov 2010  #37
I like the concept and you probably have many good stories, but your writing and style seem somewhat pedestrian. Find yourself a good, and patient, editor.
Pinching Pete - | 558
2 Nov 2010  #38
Engine burning your legs and it destroys your back. Life is truly the pursuit of illusions.

Holy Christ.. well you are good writer but chances are you were bummed out in Des Moines or LA or wherever the hell you're from.. Yes .. you're American not super human..the two aren't mutually exclusive are they? Big surprise. Have fun and make the most of it. Lighten up.. the Poles like us in general. And to their surprise.. we like them in general.
Bzibzioh
2 Nov 2010  #39
Life, especially for the Poles was pretty difficult.

Funny sentence: who else was there?

I generally like it when newcomers (foreigners, etc) are writing about new places cos they tend to notice things permanent residents don't see anymore. But I'm not sure I particularly like your writing style: it's bit chaotic and not easy to follow.
Pinching Pete - | 558
2 Nov 2010  #41
Wow! English teaching really is a great job!! For British alcoholics! This sucks!

bawww hawww.. Look dude, just come home. We could have warned you about all of this on PF's It's a great country with beautiful.. and VERY TOUGH PEOPLE, but you have to acclimate yourself to that if you're American.
OP michaelmansun 11 | 135
2 Nov 2010  #42
I like the concept and you probably have many good stories, but your writing and style seem somewhat pedestrian. Find yourself a good, and patient, editor.

I know what you mean, and yes, I have an editor.

Sure, Pete.
Pinching Pete - | 558
2 Nov 2010  #43
Sure, Pete.

Sure, Michael.. I'm not the one complaining.
Chicago Pollock 7 | 504
2 Nov 2010  #44
"Seven Months of Winter

Looking for a title? I like that.

Yes, the book looks interesting. have you a publisher or are you going to self publish?
OP michaelmansun 11 | 135
2 Nov 2010  #45
Another exert from the book. I think is rather pedestrian as was mentioned. It is followed by a piece which is easy to discern as a dream by some. Others think I am trying to be flamboyant in the style of writing. The language is because it is a dream state. Both are from earlier chapters.

A new day and the sun seems to be even more dim than the day before. Can it really be getting lower and yet lower in the sky? Winter has now gone on for longer than I thought possible. It is so cold that it is dangerous to be outside. I'm just hanging out with David and Karen, the Americans who live next door to Jennifer and Magda. They are cool people, and they really seem to like me. It's a relief from sitting around with my roommate, the flamingly gay Holger who has decided to take an apartment in the city, thank God. Eloise has become enamored with Rafael of the Mozart Academy and and his big $45,000 bassoon. She just returned from a trip to Italy where she said every store seemed to have the name 'Gessepi' above the door. Rafael's family name. A bit jealous but not so very. "He said he is going to buy me gold and jewels!!" I laughed internally, but not at her. I laughed at the idea of being in love with anyone. I really do not have the capacity for it.

It seemed a short while since she and I were hanging out together, but well, in such a place you eventually hook up with someone or go nuts. I've got my eye on this Belgian girl, who was banging the actor guy temporarily, but of course, who has a boyfriend back home. The actor was walking down the hall some nights ago and just screamed out loud. Not sure why, but half the tension in the atmosphere drained out of everyone almost instantly. It was like he knew that everyone needed to scream and he screamed for us all.

But really, it is probably best that I remain alone. I'm just a born loner. I go to classes less often now. It is boring. The Ukrainian girl with the racecar driver father sits across from me with her skirt up high. You can see her panties and a little more. She looks quite OK, but then..oddly enough..in front of everyone she starts picking her nose like a 4 year old. The professors stand around in the hall and talk about how stupid we all are. The dwarf seems to be a nice guy though. He dresses quite well, and he is really very patient with my 10 Polish words I use over and over again.

I prefer to go to the city and listen to people in the cafes. To learn Polish that way. I didnt come here to be trapped in a quasi-prison structure with all these freaks. That's not fair. I'm as freaked-out as they are. Maybe more so. I miss running through the halls with Jennifer, up to the tower where they say a girl thew herself to the concrete platform below. Down again and through the various floors. Too cold to run outside. But she has her Italian dreamboat, and now I have to find someway to keep myself entertained. "Everybody likes him and he smiles all the time" she says. Well, he is OK. He told me, "Michael, it isn't good to spend all your time alone." I dunno.

Why am I even here? I really cannot remember why I came anymore. Should have gone to lawshcool as I had planned. Poland is so alien. But I dont know for sure because I'm always on this hill! Anyway, this hill is like a little colony for outcasts. I know that much. Got to stick around to know for sure. I cannot leave without knowing something about this country. It could turn out to be quite an adventure. "Gotta hang, Mikie!!" Now when its warm enough I run to Salwator alone. We used to run together. Now it's just me and my little Sony Discman. It's not much fun alone.

You can't really do much on 450 zloty a month from the Kościuszko Foundation, but I am surviving on the food in the little cafe downstairs and from the corner store at the bottom of the hill. Its expensive kind of, and its the same foul tasting stuff everyday. I think the toothless girl behind the counter likes me. She smiles. She shouldnt, but she does. Right now even she is starting to look good to me. I need to get out more and explore. But I get lost everytime I go out. It all looks the same. Grey.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------------

She came to my room and situated herself in a chair across from me. The candle glimmered off her smooth features and created a kind of halo around her. I could tell she was waiting for me to say something, but I was too afraid, really, as it was my dream come true at that moment, on that hill, in that remote cold environment we had all mistakenly undertook on our own, as a boy might volunteer for a war he could never understand. We all felt isolated, and the Japenese roaming the halls robotically repeating the same "Jak Sie Masz?" phrase had everyone on the verge of self immolation.

I finally found the courage to pull back the sheets and slowly crossed the room to her. I tried to seem confident. She smiled slightly, not nervously at all..but knowingly. She knew I was a rube out of my element. I could tell immediately that she was a woman who was sure of what she came for and wouldn't leave without conquering this ignorant southern boy who had travelled too far from home. I made it, step by step, and slowly kneeled in front of her. She appreared as an angel of mercy, in one sense, yet in another sense, as a dangerous incubus come to destroy me in my sleep.

I was there, on my knees, as a servant, waiting to be knighted or beheaded, feeling ridiculous, but there all the same hoping she would despense with me quickly. Her knees parted eternally as she placed a foot on each side of the chair. I was ready to do my duty for this temptress of the cold shadow over-world that was Przegorzaly. I was waiting only for her command to set me upon my path to momentary liberation from this evil hilltop, this soft prison in which we were all captured without any seeming hope of escape except out a window and down the hill, tumbling to land among the bones of the monks the Nazis had dug up and cast down as you might toss a hoard of cur dogs the bones of the saints.

Her lips parted...finally, she was going to give this poor hillbilly the vital instructions of how to please his conquering queen.

MIKIE!! GET YOUR HAND OFF THAT LITTLE THING AND GET OUT OF BED!! My eyes flew open and it was morning. She was standing over me, hair in directions never set on any map...anywhere. She had prepared breakfast, I was being invited, and my dream was over. Pheww.
skysoulmate 14 | 1,296
2 Nov 2010  #46
Didn't like the end but I liked the dream :)

Good writing...

PS. Totally off the subject but important. If anyone wants to do something special for Christmas here's an offer to you all.
Bzibzioh
2 Nov 2010  #47
Przygorzaly

Przegorzały

Koscuisko

Kościuszko

It's still bit too confusing for me.
OP michaelmansun 11 | 135
2 Nov 2010  #48
Yeah, but that was the way she spoke. I had left the door unlocked. Too vulgar? It was just a dream. Thanks.
skysoulmate 14 | 1,296
2 Nov 2010  #49
Too vulgar? It was just a dream. Thanks.

Nope, not at all. If so, most of my dreams are vulgar... :)

PS. Bzibzioch is right, you should spell Kościuszko correctly! (Leave out the Polish letter if you must but spell it correctly!) What the heck is "Koscuisko"?

It's as if someone from Poland wrote an article about Dziordz £aszington. Du ju anderstend?
OP michaelmansun 11 | 135
2 Nov 2010  #50
I know how to spell it. But it's from a rough draft. Sorry for the mispelling. Tadeusz Kościuszko was a Polish general and American Revolutionary War hero. There is a foundation in New York named after him who awarded me a small stipend to study Polish for a while. Thanks. I'll be more careful in the future.
skysoulmate 14 | 1,296
2 Nov 2010  #51
It's all good, if you haven't noticed there are many threads here on Polish names being butchered overseas. To say it's a pet-peeve of most Poles is an understatement. ;)

I also hope that your book will make clear your experiences occurred during a very tumultuous time in Poland's history. You said that you've been back several times since then and I hope your perceptions have changed for the better. If so, I think you should reference that. At least that's my take on it.
yuaelt - | 12
2 Nov 2010  #52
Very nice writing, I'm sure this book will be a success!

Just like somebody mentioned before it won't do Poland any good, 'cause many people will overlook the fact it's about how it was 15 years ago. But then again, had it changed so much since middle '90ties, people like me would be home, in Poland. I run away 3 months after getting my master's degree, and it's rather late, most people leave much sooner... it's not as depressing and crazy as it was 15 years ago, but it still feels like living two blocks away from the end of the world sometimes. I hope your book will be sold online?
OP michaelmansun 11 | 135
2 Nov 2010  #53
Wow. I thought I could edit the misspellings, but that feature doesn't exist. I feel bad about the errors really. I wrote and asked them to permit me to edit the post. I speak Polish, and write in Polish much better than that. My English if often times worse. Again, I apologize.

Yes, it was Poland 15 years ago. It has changed tremendously since that time. I would live in Poland again, but, well, I'm too old to do anything there now. Not old in the sense that I am ready to retire. That, fortunately, is still a couple of decades, and then some, away, but in the sense that I am too old to start at the bottom again, or to try to break enter a work force that still lists jobs with maximum age requirements.

There is a time and place for everything. I regret, and then again, do not regret living in Poland during those years. I regret that I couldn't assimilate and have a normal productive life, but many Poles could say the same thing. When you are young you do not seem to have the opportunities. When you are older and you see how open it is, and how young folks can now take advantage of that, you wish you were younger so that you could also participate. But, alas, it's just too late. The worst is having a boss much younger than you, but again, that is just the product of a transitioning economy. Personally, it is something I could never endure.

I will always love Poland. It was a defining time in my life. And, yes, it is a beautiful country, with a lot of wonderful people. I still have dreams, nice ones, that I am there, walking the streets of Kraków. Hearing Hejnał ring in the distance. Walking around the Planty with my girl, listening to the ring of the rails as the tramwaj passes by.

I am in Mexico tonight, and am off to bed. It is quite late here. Thank you for your comments, suggestions and criticisms. All of them. Dziordz £aszington. Damn. That is too funny, and very true.

Oh that's so cute.Kinda fairy tale "The prince and the little match girl".
Who are trying to fool?She will be just fine with or WITHOUT you.Have a nice trip!

Reply Quo

No, she did not sell matches. She sold vegetarian food in a small resturant called VEGA near Kino Wanda. She earned 400 zloty per month. Her boss was a mean thing. She made my wife work 9 hours per day alone. There were two girls serving, but when one quit, the owner made my wife work alone, serving food all day alone, and said that she did not plan to hire another person. My wife would leave work crying.

I made my wife resign from this job. I paid for her living after that. The owner began to cry when my wife told her to F.O. and said that my wife was not behaving as an adult. Hmmm. Who wasn't?

She tried to take advantage of her, because she thought she had no options.

So no, not a match girl, but I made her dependent on me. She had no other options. What? Another cafe? Eventually we went to Warsaw where her opportunities were much improved. She did very well in Warsaw. We were there on and off again for over three years.
trener zolwia 1 | 940
2 Nov 2010  #54
I don't know if I'd be putting my stuff out here in the ether, unprotected, for all to see and maybe pirate...
Teffle 22 | 1,321
2 Nov 2010  #55
Hi Michael

Style wise, I'm thinking almost post-apocolyptic rather than dream-like!

Some good stuff though.

(By the way, do Romanian beggars have such a tenacious reputation in other parts of the world?! We have them in Ireland too but to be honest they are fairly pathetic in terms of harassment - zero intimidation or bodily contact for a start. They just sit there mumbling - will barely look at you)
Harry
2 Nov 2010  #56
maybe pirate

That really is something of a long shot!
OP michaelmansun 11 | 135
2 Nov 2010  #57
I don't know if I'd be putting my stuff out here in the ether, unprotected, for all to see and maybe pirate...

Thank you. It is copywritten. But I know what you mean. I think at this point that plagarism will only help.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,596
2 Nov 2010  #58
That really is something of a long shot!

Certainly, the market for such "reality" books never got off the ground really.
OP michaelmansun 11 | 135
2 Nov 2010  #59
delphiandomine
Certainly, the market for such "reality" books never got off the ground really.

You may place "reality" in quotes all you wish, as if to cast doubt that the stories are true. It is all true, but, honestly, I don't care if you, or others, believe it or not.

As far as my book "getting off the ground", well, even if it doesn't, I have my advance, and some of the people involved, whose real names I have used throughout the book, will receive a copy.

I regret that some will be offended, such as yourself, apparently, by a hard look in the 'historic mirror' of reality that was Poland during my time there. Perhaps your use of "reality" was meant to question my state of mind during the writings entered into my daily journal. That much I agree with. I nearly killed a couple of people, another American, an exporter of illegal war antiques and check forger, and a Palestenian cocaine dealer, aforementioned as a Syrian (in error), and if I had not finally accepted that Poland was truly only for Poles in those days, I might have lost my mind entire.

Thank you for your comment.
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,595
2 Nov 2010  #60
Have you ever been happy in any country/city? I don't think so.

You are more pessimistic than most Poles.


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