I crave rest.
When do you know you’re tired? It must be different for everybody. But when we discuss our current lifestyles with my friend Marcin, we agree that forgetfulness is a good indicator. He tells me how he’d locked himself out. His partner was away, there was no point in changing locks in two pairs of doors and so he ended up sleeping in a hotel. Hasn’t happened to me (yet?). Smaller things have. I walked away from a cash machine without collecting the money. I attempted opening my front door with my oyster card. And I notoriously have to remind myself to remind myself to text/email/call people back. Right now I’m stuck in a local restaurant because I forgot Karol had a singing lesson this evening and he’s the only one with our home keys.
‘Tis the season to be jolly tired.
I’m facing new old challenges at work (it has something to do with photographing kind of expensive handbags which I can only handle wearing white, cotton gloves. Don’t ask…) and this means long hours, more prep work at home and less time for thinking of anything other than work.
But when I do, when I get that free minute, I instantly scan the world for the signs of Christmas. An Indian couple with a newly bought tree that made my bus journey smell of fir. Some guy carrying a plastic Santa under his arm. Or those plumbers whose Christmas lights are commuters’ delight.
Tiredness is linked to my childhood memories of Christmas. My family was always busy running their business and everything about Christmas seemed rushed and done with that last lump of energy. We hardly ever sat down at the table right after having spotted the first star in the sky. That was most often the time we stopped vacuum cleaning! My mum must have felt most exhausted. It was a self-inflicted exhaustion, caused by her inability to say no to social norms but being a smart ass about it won’t change the fact that not everybody’s assertive and sometimes circumstances bully you into a certain way of living.
My circumstances are nothing compared to my mum’s. Yet, feelings are feelings. So here I am, with a headache, in a restaurant full of chattering, trying to decide when to organize a meet-up with those friends who won’t be spending Christmas in London and sympathizing with all people who make this last push of the year.
Crazy? You bet. This December, unlike before, Christmas craziness feels hereditary.
Last year we had a gift-free Christmas. We baked cookies and gave them to neighbours, had plenty of meals with friends but didn’t really buy any presents. This year, my friend proposed we donate to charity, as a group. Of course I loved the idea immediately. Later, during our Christmas planning session, Aga suggested we ask every person in our group to choose one charity and organize a Donation Lottery by the end of our evening.
Since I truly believe in giving, I thought I’d share this belief with you and hopefully encourage you to give, too.
DO YOU KNOW ANY PERSON IN NEED OR CHARITY THAT YOU’D LOVE ME AND MY FRIENDS TO DONATE SOME MONEY TO?
Please leave details in your comment and I’ll randomly choose one that will end up in our Donation Lottery this Christmas.
Additionally, I made these banners that you are more than welcome to share on your blogs, instagrams, facebooks and what not. They are my tongue-in-cheek reaction to the ubiquitous sponsor links that pepper most blogs these days. They’re about something other than stuff. If, like me, you consider yourself privileged and very, very lucky, you’ll understand what I mean.
One love, yo!
Let’s do it again and give Christmas more attention. I’m not sure if I can blog daily but to put a post together every second day? This seems achievable. Hello, hello December!
My plans for today were to help out with photographing a Christmas kids’ party. But. But it was Karol’s birthday yesterday and we ended up staying up so late… We had a relaxed cafe-based morning and then I met my friend Lucy for hours of chatting. Afterwards, together with my friend Aga, we headed to see Karol perform during his final night of Opera Scenes – a kind of graduation from a 3-month operatic singing course Karol completed (he was Antonio in Figaro’s Wedding, Frank in Die Fledermaus and Schaunard in La Bohème). Even though the whole thing finished late there was no way we could have skipped dinner. The singers, the teachers – they were far too excited to simply go home and so we reached a Soho bistro where Karol was welcomed with the best Happy Birthday song any singer could wish for. We ate, talked and laughed. December arrived. And London’s transport was falling asleep.
It’s no big deal, perhaps, to walk from one closed station to another, in the middle of the night. Party-goers, unlike the three of us, are used to practicing this skill weekly. But it is still pretty cool to cross the river with random groups of other home-walkers, look at the brilliantly lit up sights and listen to a busker. If that does’t make you fall in love with this city, then I’m not sure if anything ever will.
At Waterloo we discovered an only train which happened to go near where we live. Then a black cab ride – for me, always a treat – and we finally reached home. I was too tired to wake up the morning after for something I’d lost my heart for months back – photographing children. I’d overpromised and consequently let somebody down. Not good.
Today, on the first day of December, after a late breakfast (brunch is the word, right?), we went for some coffee-induced Christmas planning. Unlike last year, we’re celebrating this jolly season with our close friends. Aga grabbed a bunch of napkins and we decided on our strategy. Can’t wait to get down to work.
I’m waiting for Karol who’s paying for his overpriced lunch. This is a place in East London, so there’s a coffee machine and a bearded guy standing next to it. Do you ever wonder how come East London cafe workers – oops! Sorry! I meant baristas! – tend to look fresh and stylish, sporting the latest arty magazine must-have gadgets, riding uber cool bikes and behave so nonchalantly as if they were just doing their jobs as a hobby, a charity stint, not a way to earn a living? Anyway, I look around and spot a snow globe with Big Ben inside. Of course I shake it up and side and down. The guy goes: “it will be like that this year here”. So I reply: “yeah, I hope so”. To which he reacts: “you hope so? You crazy?!?” And so I think, yeah, you won’t find a moan-buddy in me boy, I have no reason to hate snow.
In fact, let’s be honest, when it comes to snow-haters I shovel them into three categories: one – those who hate it because they drive or cycle, two – those who wouldn’t mind it but are too fragile to enjoy it and finally three – those who can’t stand it because they’re being miserable twats.
For me, snow is beautiful. Awesome. Makes me feel inspired to just be, do nothing more than stare. It’s so dynamic that it makes me relax, feel cozy at home, for balance. Its brightness makes me feel safe when I walk at night. And its heaviness makes me determined when I get caught up in a winter storm. Of course it comes with side-effects, which medicine doesn’t?
December’s coming. I know it’s two days away. But when it comes to December, to Christmas, I’m worse than a kid. Not sure if I’ll be blogging daily this year. I have little time for that but then again, reflecting on Christmas daily is also special… we’ll see.
Today, I’m watching this documentary. It was done by a supermarket chain last year and if you want to see how Great Britain celebrates Christmas these days, I can recommend it. Yep, I’m a sentimental fool who loves stuff like this. And I love snow. Shoot me. With a snowball.
I’m out of touch with my native land. I don’t understand and don’t want to understand Poland and its residents. I’ve lost interest in the place, its problems and ambitions. This has been happening gradually, over a course of months. Or maybe years but I haven’t noticed. My relationship with that country, a roller coaster ride with its ups and downs, hit a wall of a stable long-term crisis.
It started with a break from the usually weekly phone calls to my family. I noticed that I enjoy not knowing much about the place. Somehow naturally I stopped reading all but one blog, spam-treated any email linking to Polish news, lost interest in culture, design and what not. It felt good, it felt great actually. My life gained lack of rubbish tax drama, insta-photos proudly (!) taken in starbucks, prevalent poor student’s mentality and, above all, constant stream of moaning. In my eyes, Poland became what it actually is – another European country. And as such it need not be handled with extra care.
So what does it all mean? I call my family regularly, I might even think of planning another trip to Poland next year (or the year after, or later), I appreciate good design. But Poland and its people en masse? No, thank you. Is it my ego? Is it about being right and wrong, better and worse? Nope. It’s about feeling OK with being where I am and glad where I am not. I hope this feeling lasts.