It’s the end of the month again and it’s been a while since the last post (almost exactly one month), and considering I’ve been dying to write and draw and film about TONS of stuff, that’s nowhere near logical. Right now I’m sitting in a cafe I’ve been obsessed with the last couple of weeks, it’s a franchise cafe but it’s as good as it gets in my neighbourhood. It’s about one kilometre from my house and it’s the second closest coffee shop to me (the other one is probably less than 200m), but the reason I go here and not to the closer one is because (a) this one’s open from 7.30am-10pm, the other one’s 11am-5pm, so THAT’s a HUGE difference), (b) it does savoury stuff and filter coffee, which are both my favourite.
Speaking about coffee shops, there’s been a change in my way of thinking in that I figured that if you treat the cafe prices as the baseline, then you get to go to cafes more often, and you consider going to the supermarket for ingredients as being thrifty and getting a bargain. I suppose this way of thinking doesn’t let you save a lot of money, but it’s a lot more pleasant than treating cafe-going as an unnecessary expense and necessarily a treat. Perhaps I’m getting aged in the sense that I began to put value in my convenience. Or maybe it’s called getting lazy? I’ve definitely felt lazy in the last few months, although whether this is objectively true is something I wouldn’t be able to tell.
Today I accepted my accommodation offer from the University of Brighton. I’ll be living in Varley outside of Brighton. All of Brighton’s university accommodation is outside of the city, which is novel to me since in Edinburgh I always lived within a 20 minute walk to any of the uni facilities I needed. Today I even thought: “why bother with moving to a different location if I could’ve just stayed there?”, but I think that’s the laziness talking, the laziness I just spoke about. Brighton has a very interesting Centre for Design Research that I’m very curious about and it’s meant to be very reputable and they have some exciting topics they’re working on. Lots of variety in the research topics of the staff and it’ll be lovely to get to study there. This afternoon there’s an online event that’s meant to tell us all about accommodation and living in Brighton, so I’ll hopefully find out how I’ll get to and from the main campus.
Lots of exciting things in my life. I’ll end this post here so as not to make it long. Suffice to say I’m very happy at the moment even though I’ve been feeling weird for the last few weeks, I’m taking my medication more regularly than I did in the spring but to be fair I’m often feeling confused, I think the main cause is (a) trouble with my driving course and (b) trouble with and worrying about getting back to Edinburgh to say goodbye to my coop location and retrieving the leftover belongings of mine that I left up in the room I moved to but never lived in. Flat 16, top floor, very nice room and cool cozy kitchen that I never lived in. Anyway. Yeah, I’ve felt confused but very happy, too, so I suppose things are good.
Dzisiejsze zdjęcie jest rarytasem, jest to zdjęcie zupy parówkowej… to znaczy zupy zwanej pomidorową, w wykonaniu mojej babci. Znaczy zupa została wykonana przez babcię, a zdjęcie przeze mnie, telefonem. Jest to najsmaczniejsza zupa na świecie. Tak żegnamy czerwiec, tak się złożyło.
Every time I pass this building – which is often because it’s a minute walk from my house, plus I used to pass it twice a day on my way to and from middle school – it hurts.
It hurts to look at it, to see it, to catch a glimpse of it with the corner of your eye. And it’s not even all of the mint in this street – the mint facade ‘adorns’ the northern side of the building facing Mickiewicza street. The residential building opposite Oknoplast – by the way, named the Building of the Year 1995 (d. by architect Czeslaw Sobocinski, precise address: Sienkiewicza 14) – is a very similar shade of mint, although complemented by dirty yellow and the old blood kind of red. But Sobocinski’s building looks more just postmodern than this poor kind of stripped neopalladian modern.
On the left side – the browns and the oranges – are some of the plentiful ‘historical’ buildings of Bydgoskie Przedmiescie. The direct neighbour of Oknoplast is the building housing Czarny Tulipan (Sienkiewicza 15), a locally legendary pub that opens at 3pm and stays open like a pub does. It’s the main hangout spot for local adults who are not the so-called “autochtons” of Bydgoskie (though you could say this word’s not so accurate; what it’s meant to refer to people aged 40+ who spend long daylight hours sitting around in pubs drinking 5 PLN beers) – you’d say, a pub for people.
The building in the middle, also made of red brick, is residential, and the corner building houses both flats (which you enter from the side yard) and some services – a second hand fashion store and a plumbing parts shop.
And the cherry on top of the mint ice cream facade are the cars which are choking Sienkiewicza street. The only breath it gets is when a tram makes its way from Bydgoska towards the university campus through Sienkiewicza. It makes you think that there’s an alternative for cars, and that perhaps one day we’ll return to the point where most people who now drive cars daily used public transport almost all of the time.
Hereby I propose Toruńska Ustawa Krajobrazowa (TUK) which would ensure that environment in our town is pleasant to the eye and mind and enhances the reputation of Torun as a city for the arts and for knowledge.
There’s a place in Toruń that always stuns me whenever I go by it.
It’s a block of flats in Bartkiewiczowny Street, in the Koniuchy district (sort of). It has an official address – one consisting of the street name and some numbers – but I call it differently. I call it Riviera. In my eyes, the place is the exact embodiment of the name Riviera. Forget the Riviera Student Halls in Warsaw. This is the real Riviera.
The building has waves and blues and turquoises and also the sandy yellow of the beach. It’s the place where the river meets the sea, the mouth of the Vistula or perhaps some other large river, and although there isn’t the tiniest body of water in its proximity, it brings the water to you.
There are things I find hard to believe and things that I can believe very easily. For example, it’s very easy for me to believe we exist among ghosts and other beyond-natural creatures. But I struggle to believe that it’s almost the end of June already and that it’s 30 Celsius degrees outside and we all wear T-shirts and shorts and there’s no snow lying around in the streets.
Having had the winter that we had, it’s actually very difficult to take in the fact that it’s summer now! When I worked in January or February at -15 or -10 Celsius temperatures I seriously thought this winter wasn’t going to end. Heck, I thought that the shift I was on was never gonna end. Even a 3-hour shift felt like eternity. I thought I’d never feel my feet or my fingers again and that I’d die in a ditch on the side of a road with a pizza slowly going cold in my thermal backpack.
Okay, don’t laugh at me, this was my reality – me as a food delivery cyclist – for a long couple of months! But now it’s summer, time’s sped up, I’m not doing my driving license as fast as I should to get it done in time (i.e. by the end of summer – at least that’s what I think) and I seriously, seriously can’t believe it. Also, another unbelievable fact – though one that I knew would become reality at some point – is that I’ve completed my degree!
I’ve not had a graduation as such (covid), but on Monday afternoon they updated our degree outcomes, which I checked only on Tuesday around 1pm. And now I can officially say that I got a First Class degree in geography!
Pic for proof \/
I will keep this endajune (end of June… got it?) update short and sweet and end on this sweet, sweet note of my First! Stay cool this hot summer.
What you’re about to see is way beyond coolness. It’s a PRL design aficionado’s paradise and just the perfect spot if you want to grab an iced coffee and chill in the shade for a bit. In front of you there’s parked cars and a road, but beyond that there’s the very big Park Skaryszewski (aka Skaryszewiak or Skaryszew) so you’re looking at trees the whole time after all.
It’s Vintage Kolektyw Kawiarnia & Sklep in Washington Alley (Aleja Waszyngtona) 30/32, Warsaw.
Their coffee is delicious, just the right hue of sweetness (not the sour one), and they do a decent iced matcha latte if you want it, too (sweet or not sweet, up to you). They also sell traditional blok czekoladowy (sth very much like tiffin) and lemonade.
I’ve tried their hot and cold drinks and bought myself a glass collectioner’s notebook (Notes Kolekcjonera: Szkło). I don’t collect chairs or glass or lamps or clocks, but finding vintage glass is the likeliest (like I once did with awesome PRL tableware that I found when throwing out glass rubbish).
Pardon me for not providing any pictures, but I have a very good excuse. My phone got soaked on Sunday afternoon (maybe it was tired of the sun, everyone wants a cold water dip on a hot summer day) and since 10pm on that day it’s been non-functioning. I took about 4 photos during my little-over-20km trek on Sunday (we walked through the woods from Nieporet to Zielonka, both satellite towns of Warsaw in the Masovia region in Poland), so it’s not like you (or I) are missing anything. And so since Monday morning I’ve been going around Warsaw without a phone, right now it’s Tuesday morning so it’s not been that long but let’s say yesterday was probably the most challenging day (apart from Sunday, when my phone worked) – I had places to go and people to meet in specific places at specific times. To add to my phone being dead, my watch also isn’t particularly functional – it only shows minutes, and even that isn’t always, so a few times I had to ask strangers for the time (a lady in a kiosk; a shopkeeper at Zabka; and a lady at a bus stop). But I navigated the city pretty well after all. I have some blisters after two days of intense walking, but I’m gonna take it slow for the next few days (that was my plan from the very beginning) and probably get some blister plasters at Rossmann, just to prevent my feet getting worse.
Anyway, did you figure yet that I’m in Warsaw? I’m in Warsaw! First time since January 2020, and I always liked going to this city, so I’m having lots of fun. And it’s even more more more fun than being here with a working phone. I’m taking zero pictures and googling zero directions and zero eateries and zero museums. I spend some time with my laptop in the morning and then figure out everything I need to figure out. It’s not really old school travelling considering my laptop, but it’s still a big step in the right direction.
I’m staying in a very nice hostel in North Praga (Praga Północ, a district of Warsaw on the opposite side of the Vistula River to the Palace of Culture and the city centre). It’s chill and I’m fulfilling my dream of, well it’s a weird dream, so I won’t say anything about it right now, but let’s just say, I’m very happy where I am right now and the experiences I’m having are pretty good.
The rule of thumb on my wordpress is that the less I write, the finer I am. I know! Dumb! But right now I am really fine, really fine, believe me. But it’s been too long, nearly three months, since my last post, and something doesn’t feel right. So let me tell you what I’ve been up to.
In April I submitted my last two pieces of written assignment. On May 7-8 I had my final, FINAL exam at university. At least in my undergraduate degree. It was the 24-hour ‘take home exam’ in Geography, Science, Civil Society (it’s the name of the subject). Since the morning of May 8th, I’ve been a free person. The first two weeks I was totally high on my freedom. Now the high’s subsided, but it still feels pretty good not to have anything hovering over me. I can now officially say that I’ve done my undergraduate degree, and though I won’t receive my final mark for another month (more or less – I do believe the board gathers around early July?), there’s nothing else I need to do and so I am done with my degree. I’ll soon be able to say that I’ve graduated from university, and really, this is all I ever really wanted in my life!
There’s another kind of high I’ve been getting for the last few (several?) weeks. As you might (or might not) know, my dissertation – which I submitted on April 1st, and about a week ago I got a mark for at the astounding 72% (which, to be fair, I’m very pleased with as many times I felt my dissertation wasn’t gonna get a first) – focused on issues of representation of human-environment relationships in the computer game The Sims 4. Oh, writing this dissertation was an adventure, and I doubt it would’ve been possible had I not moved home in November. With my PC at hand, I could really do the kind of research the topic required, which is playing the game itself and documenting its many outcomes and procedural layers.
But as much as I disliked playing The Sims 4 as recently as summer last year, over time I really took a liking to this game. I assign this to the fact that after you get a couple of expansion packs, the game actually becomes interesting and absorbing. You can tell a multitude of stories with the multitude of options you add (purchase). And you really get attached to the characters you create. I don’t see much difference between book or movie characters that you fall in love with and characters you play with in your game. It’s the same kind of bond – these characters might be fictional, but the emotional bonds you have with them are real, and become stronger the more you exist with them in the world of fictional events created in the medium. But in the game, they are dependent on you and you become dependent on them.
As much as I like building my own stories in The Sims, I am really in my spirit whenever the keyboard or pen is mine and I can write them down. So it was great to take to the keyboard today and provide you with this short update that by no means sums up everything I’ve been up to over the last three months. Let’s just say I spent some of May plotting and writing some sort of report that I wrote for the greater good, but it’s still waiting for its publication and having any sort of impact. Aside from that I’m negotiating between taking a brain break after 4 years of university and putting everything I’ve learned and trained in to use in my countless side projects. I suppose we’re always negotiating between something and so this is my negotiation for the time being.
Aight, I’ve got to wrap this up here because I have to go to class – oh yes! I enrolled in a driver’s license course and started it on Monday, two days ago. Today’s my third day of theory class. It’s incredibly dull, a guy talking about cars and lanes and speeding and overtaking and six hours of sitting on my butt until it’s numb. But I’m taking it because it’ll be useful in the long run. I’ve been planning to get my driver’s license for years and this might be my one shot, so yeah, I’ve gotta go.
A week ago, March 6th, I went to Gdansk for the first time in a long time. And I visited the Gdansk Shipyard for the first time in my life. You can now tour the area where Lech Walesa and Anna Walentynowicz worked in the 1970s and set up Solidarnosc following the new Kaiser Shipyard Trail (Szlak Stoczni Cesarskiej) in Gdansk.
Here’s a selection of photos which I hoped would spark interest among some of you.
Here are Rzeźby wychodzące z morza [Sculptures walking out of the sea], which you can read more about here. They are sculptures made of metal scraps found in junkyards, created by artist Czeslaw Podlesny.
Next, old signs on some shipyard building. The bigger sign announces that “the shipyard will employ: production manager, painters, carpenters, locksmiths” and other vocations. The smaller, horizontal sign announces the internal street name – “ul. Przy Pirsie”, which means “Next to the Jetty Street”.
This is the main entrance to the Shipyard. The red building in the back is named the European Solidarity Centre. Just yesterday they closed it again for visitors, but you can read more about what the Centre does here.
Next, the pretty cool (it’s cool, isn’t it?) souvenir kiosk, right outside the main Shipyard entrance (see: previous picture). There, you can buy magnets with Walesa and Solidarnosc logo. I don’t know what else is there, because well, I’m not that much of a souvenir gatherer anymore (the space in my room is finite, after all…), and we’re living in a pandemic (which seems to never end). Nonetheless, the sign on the kiosk is the sort of cool vintage that people are into these days. At least they were in the 2010s.
Are people still into vintage fonts, or did their popularity pass with that of kale and turnip smoothies?
This is the inside of one of the shipyard buildings, the closest to the historical crane that’s marked on the trail. The interiors of most of those buildings are derelict just like this. You can look into some of them through the broken windows, like I did. Just make sure you don’t cut your hands. (I didn’t. I was careful).
The broken window pictured below:
And to finish, a general view of the main horizontal street of the Shipyard:
It was a good and informative visit. There are information boards in both Polish and English distributed across the area. I strongly recommend the trail and am wondering what future awaits those glorious buildings.
It’s been almost a year since all normal activities stopped in Edinburgh because of covid… and I sort of remember the first days when I started cutting out my outings, although I still went out relatively frequently – I went to Tesco once a day to get some fresh vegetables (I remember I was into celery sticks and cream cheese back then), and soon after they advised not to go shopping frequently so instead I started going on early morning walks around the Meadows… but I wanted to check what I did before all those precautions came in. The last moments of enjoying the freedoms I didn’t know we’d all lose!
So I checked my trustworthy MacBook calendar and here’s what I did…
Saturday, 7 March – I start on a Saturday because Friday 13 March was really when my ‘normal life’ ended. That day I went to the post office to pick up a parcel – it was from my mum – and I think afterwards I went to Costa to sit and read. Or maybe I didn’t? Who’s to know? I think in the parcel there were coloured fineliners I asked my mum for.
Sunday, 8 March – That day I remember well. First of all, it was my dad’s birthday; second of all, I was working at a rugby match. It was one of the Six Nations matches. We were starting quite early, around noon, and the day was beautiful and sunny, so I decided to treat myself to a takeaway coffee on my way there. It was the one and only time that I went to easyCoffee in Haymarket. I got a stamp on my newly acquired loyalty card, and I bought an iced pumpkin spice soy latte. A mouthful, isn’t it? It was great, very cold and it matched the sunny, cheerful day perfectly. And easyCoffee has really cheap coffee, for Edinburgh coffeeshop standards at least. (Sure, it’s a chain. No, I’m not afraid of chain coffee, as you can see. Actually, I used to go to chains most times I went out for coffee).
The match was really fun to work at because my friend from S College St place was working as we were short of staff, so I super quickly recruited him that morning! And he’s a very fun person, so that was a pleasure to have him on the team that day. So all in all, that was a great day. I’m glad I got to experience it just before the pandemic.
Monday, 9 March – Well, my calendar tells me I went to the dentist that day. I don’t remember it. Other than that, a PALS debrief and a meeting in the evening. I don’t remember those things either. My memory is patchy.
Tuesday, 10 March – I remember this day probably the most vividly. My friend was campaigning to be our university’s student union president, and that day was the last day to go around student halls door-knocking to talk to potential voters. After dark (it was around 6pm, I think) we went door-knocking in a couple of student halls in central Edinburgh.
When I reflected on that after covid hit, I thought: what a dumb thing to be doing just before the pandemic! Like, we could’ve spread germs, we could’ve caught it, we could’ve made it worse… Did we? Well, that we’ll never know! But I do remember banging on the doors until someone opened, and talking to those students having pre-drinks and getting ready for going out (it was a Tuesday evening after all).
Afterwards we went to our (my) beloved place in S College Street and I think we had rocky road or tiffin squares, or the sort, and I think I had coffee and he refused to have either tea or coffee because he doesn’t drink stuff like that. He doesn’t drink it because of the colonial/imperial legacy of tea and coffee. And for that reason he doesn’t really eat chocolate either. What an interesting personality, right?
Well, I can tell you he has an interesting personality, and now he even has a quite successful business! It’s still in its early days as it’s a few months old (though I think closer to a year now than a quarter), but he’s such a determined person that I’m not surprised at how well he’s been managing it. He obviously wasn’t voted the student union president, but it’s probably good for him – I feel sort of bad for the student union reps who had to work this year, and probably weren’t aware their entire terms would be affected by a pandemic… must suck. But correct me if I’m wrong.
Wednesday, 11 March – That week was some sort of talks organised by the student and lecturer strike, as it was the last week of the strike. We were meant to start lectures on Monday 16 March… which never happened. Nonetheless, I used the opportunity to go to some talks. On Wednesday it was a talk+discussion on the ‘commodification of student lifestyles’. It was really thought provoking, though I must admit that none of the things that were mentioned should’ve come as a surprise… There were some people I knew at that talk, too, so that was nice. We were sitting in a big circle of chairs in the gym where our conservation society had the charity ceilidh in February 2020.
It also says I had another dentist appointment that day. Seriously??! I don’t remember that either.
Thursday, 12 March – That day I went to a discussion group in an independent bookstore next to the university’s main campus. We talked about peer learning, related in a way to the PALS volunteering I was doing that year. I remember I said some stuff, as there weren’t many people there (there couldn’t have been because the bookstore has very limited space…). Also, I never really went to that bookstore before for any longer than to go in and out. (It’s probably too radical for me, come to think of it).
Friday, 13 March – Friday the thirteenth! The crucial thing is I did laundry that day. And laundry back in those days really was a challenge, because – to make sure you had a vacant machine – you had to get up really early and claim it before anyone else did… I was also meant to go to the election results night, but because covid got serious that day, I didn’t go. So I stayed in my flat all day.
And that’s where normalcy ended.
Thanks for hanging out and reading about my last week of pre-covid life. I don’t know what’s there in it for you, but I wonder if you too tried to remember the last week before covid came into your life. Or perhaps you’re always thinking about it? Either way, let me know. I’d be glad to hear anything.
My views have SO DROPPED lately, there’s barely anyone here!
So, to start off the month right, I’ll post three screenshots from Mount Komorebi. Precisely three. However, I find them screenshots of high quality, as they gorgeously present the gorgeousness of Mount Komorebi and its snowy environs.
I took them while sending the Ito family parents up to climb the summit of Mount Komorebi. It was snowy. At the middle point, it was so snowy even I, the player (the god!) couldn’t see through the thick snow. I felt compassion for those Sims, after all not that long ago I myself was ploughing through such blizzards on my pitiful bike… but they made it, and the views sure rewarded them for their persistence.
Or so I thought. The views rewarded me, but not them. These Sims didn’t get any moodlets after climbing Mount Komorebi!!! Other than those coming from a successful expedition. There were no moodlets associated with climbing to the mountain peak and seeing all these fabulous views. A massive oversight, if you ask me. Evidence proves that the feeling of standing on top of a mountain is exhilarating, and the views are amazing. Why didn’t the designers include it in the game?
Forgetfulness, I’d say! Luckily, there’s always room for patches.
Serce mnie boli, że Dzień Myśli Braterskiej (World Thinking Day, 22 lutego) się skomercjalizował. Widać to dobitnie w newsletterze (który będę nazywać “biuletynem”), który dziś rano wylądował w mojej skrzynce mailowej. Nadawcą jest Składnica Harcerska ZHP 4 Żywioły.
W mailu “druhowie” ze Składnicy napisali:
Już na horyzoncie Dzień Myśli Braterskiej, to wyjątkowe święto przyjaźni. W taki dzień warto obdarować swoją bliską osób drobnym upominkiem.
Z tej okazji sprawdź naszą ofertę. Poniżej mamy dla Ciebie kilka propozycji.
Dalej biuletyn płynnie przechodzi w promocję kubków, czapek, maseczek, puzzli (z wilkiem!) i T-shirtów z nadrukiem.
Może DMB nie ma zapisane w genotypie, że jest świętem antykonsumpcyjnym. Ale czy istotą DMB nie jest braterstwo i przyjaźń? A sprowadzanie święta przyjaźni i braterstwa do kolejnej okazji, żeby to kupić coś nowego, nie jest zjawiskiem pozytywnym? A przecież harcerz i harcerka powinni oddziaływać pozytywnie na swoje środowisko, całą swoją postawą i działalnością.
Przekaz z tego biuletynu wypływa taki: jeśli nie kupisz swojej druhnie/druhowi nowej koszulki, czapki, puzzli, czy kubka, to nie wyrazisz w odpowiedni sposób swojej przyjaźni. A to nieprawda.
Zastanawiam się, jaki wpływ harcerstwo miało na mój stosunek do dóbr materialnych. Z jednej strony widzę z perspektywy czasu, jak bardzo miałam obsesję na punkcie rzeczy – to było przede wszystkim ciągłe chcenie gadżetów typu notes z ulubionym anime, koszulka z ulubionym muzykiem, przypinki, kubki… i cała masa niepotrzebnych rzeczy, których dzisiaj nie dałabym sobie wcisnąć za nic. Z drugiej strony właśnie obecnie mój stosunek do rzeczy jest raczej sceptyczny, a zawsze uważałam, że prezent zrobiony własnoręcznie to powinno być coś standardowo wyżej cenionego niż przedmiot ze sklepu. Na obozach zawsze robiliśmy mnóstwo rzeczy własnoręcznie, a na wigilię drużyny co roku dawałyśmy sobie prezenty właśnie robione samodzielnie, w domu.
Jedną rzeczą którą na pewno wyniosłam z harcerstwa to to, że pieniądze nie uszczęśliwiają. Oczywiście oficjalną ideologią było to, że służba bliźniemu i ojczyźnie (i teoretycznie Bogu) uszczęśliwia, ale też że to się po prostu robi. Bez oczekiwania na coś w zamian. A na pewno nie na wynagrodzenie materialne. Rzeczy materialne, dawane np. jako nagrody w turniejach czy grach, były cenione za to, co można z nimi zrobić – z pałatką można było zrobić szałas z zastępem, z grą planszową – fajną zbiórkę, a kompas zawsze się przyda do zajęć terenowych.
Dlatego nie podoba mi się zwrot harcerzy w kierunku takiego gadżeciarstwa. Nie jest to zachowawcze na dłuższą metę, i nie promuje pozytywnej postawy wśród młodych ludzi. Jeśli chcemy zmniejszyć swój negatywny wpływ na środowisko jako ludzie, musimy porzucić przywiązanie do ostentacyjnej konsumpcji (ang. conspicuous consumption, konsumpcji na pokaz, szpanu – termin wymyślony przez Thorsteina Veblena w 1899). Zwłaszcza, że ostentacyjna konsumpcja narodziła się w klasie próżniaczej… a próżniactwo raczej nie jest pożądaną cechą w ZHP, ZHR, ani nigdzie indziej.