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Notes from a Flat-Dweller

There are many things a man doesn't want to be woken up to, or, perhaps even worse, woken up by. You most likely have your own personal list; my own, to my mild shame, includes 'finding a spider on the pillow'. Since I moved into a (mercifully spider-free!) private apartment Saturday gone, my list has increased exponentially. It now includes 'the people upstairs having loud and offensive sex' (I suspect them of being heavily into BDSM, which is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, but not in a flat, people); 'next door to my right playing Radio Wawa at full blast' (think Galaxy FM on steroids, for those of you unfortunate enough to be acquainted with Galaxy FM); 'next door and up one on the left playing electric guitar, badly'; 'downstairs and left one's dog barking on the balcony' and, of course, 'directly left one's marriage-ending screaming rows'.

All that being said, this is not a bad apartment. It's spacious -- the bedroom is also the lounge, but it's a good-sized room; there's room to swing a cat in the bathroom (not that I have a cat to swing; I'm also lacking in nine-flailed whips); and the kitchen, though small, has all the necessaries. I thought it was a bad culture shock to go from an eleven-room detached house to my first three-room apartment above my host's dwelling, but at least that was still a detached private residence; if I thought that was bad, I hadn't a hope when it came to a flat: three rooms, three flights of stairs (no lift), the Marquis de Sade living upstairs, and next door's divorce pending. (These latter two are pure speculation, but I would not be at all surprised on either one).

I've had to... adapt, somewhat. I've never been one for loud music, thank gods, but nonetheless, out of a misplaced sense of courtesy, I've taken to playing any music (it was the Planets suite last night, which I admit I do tend to blast) through my laptop with earphones plugged in. Flute practise is out after 9pm, as I understand next-door-left have small children. (That and I don't want to scare the dog who lives in the flat below-left). I haven't self-imposed a lights-off curfew as yet, but the fact there aren't real curtains, only a heavy net, means I have to get changed in the dark (at night) or the bathroom (in the morning). Oh, and there may be room to swing a cat in there, but my hair when I've just washed it is another matter. I'm so glad the dye's taken now, or there'd be a permanent line of black speckles up the wall behind the bath from my flicking it over.

For all this, I'm quite enjoying life as a flat-dweller. Coming from my parents' house to this is a wonderful taste of freedom (even foreign freedom, which is a bit more salty, if anyone's interested, and goes well with most good merlot), and it's indescribably wonderful to lock my front door (my front door!) when I leave and unlock it again when I return knowing that I'm entering a private sanctum. I rather think going 'home' for any extended period would be difficult if not impossible now, and I've taken the decision to look for a place of my own ASAP after I return.

Speaking of returning, my decision is made as regards the potential interviews at the university. My flight is changed and I will be back in England at the end of May. Do I regret this? Yes and no.

Yes, because it's cutting the trip short by well over half of its intended length, and a small but insistent part of me is trying to shout 'hah, you failed!!' at me, usually late at night when I'm tired and occasionally slightly gone on aforementioned merlot. No, because if I don't at least give myself the opportunity to attend the interview, I'll kick myself forever; work out here isn't going to happen without a fully accredited TEFL, and the finances aren't going to last as long as planned without some work to back them up. There's also the matter of missing my dog, my mother and several very dear friends, which, while not necessarily the be-all-and-end-all deciding factor in my saying "Hang it, I'll come back", certainly held quite some weight in the deliberations.

Did I fail, though? I ask myself this frequently, again, usually late at night, or at around 20:30 local time when I have to shut off the laptop, if I've made it to Koffeina that day, and scurry for my bus for fear of being stranded in Rynek all blessed night (that's another negative on this flat -- it's twenty-five minutes out of the city centre by bus. That said, my parents' house is nearly an hour away from both of the major local cities, so I shouldn't complain too much). The conclusion I have come to, and from which nothing will dissuade me, is a resounding 'no'.

Admittedly, it's true, I'm cutting the losses and skiving back to my country of birth, wherein just about everything is entitled and easy, nearly three months before I'd originally planned to. However, this was always intended as an experience in Learning not in Stamina or Bloody-Mindedness, and to stay until September would be spectacular and quite idiotic Bloody-Mindedness. Also, my heading back early doesn't make it any less of a learning experience. My gods, have I learnt. 900 miles away from everything you once knew, you find out who your friends are, for a start. I've also now got a decent working grasp of Polish which I'm quite pleased with -- I was considerably discouraged by how much it seemed I didn't know when I arrived, but I didn't let it put me off getting in there and being a damn stupid Englishman if it got my point across, and I've had some incredible, touching and occasionally downright funny experiences along the way.

I've also produced, so far, sixty-eight pages (in standard Times New Roman, size 12) of the infamous Novel-That-Isn't that I hope to publish someday; the idea has been in the works now for half a decade (or, if you prefer, a little over a quarter of my life) and this is by far the furthest I've ever got with any form of cohesive continuant prose on it all. My evenings have been productive: reading, language study, and lots of writing. My days, generally speaking, have been productive for the local economy if nothing else; I was present-shopping again today. The time has most certainly not been wasted. (Nor has the money!)

I intend to return, then, refreshed, revitalised, a little older and a lot wiser, and of course (...this is me we're discussing) bearing gifts all round. For now, though, it's time to sign off and get back to my reading and writing... and hoping to hell I don't wake up to the sound of my toilet doing a good impression of a heaving bulimic at 6am. Apparently even the bathroom's sick of the company...

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cityofshadow
City of Flowers and Shadows

Shadow's City

Welcome to the travel log of the adventures of one ShadowSaine, variously known as Zof, Shadow and Oi You, on a big city and bright burning lights adventure in Krakow, Poland, 2007.

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