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Forecast – by Justyna

13 May

So we’ve moved again. I know. It’s insane (our seventh move since 2006). When we moved in October last year it was to the outskirts of town (last stop on the tram line) because we needed ‘breathing space’ in terms of the surface area of living space. By moving into a bigger apartment we broke our cardinal rule – location matters most. We thought we would be happy with a laundry, an extra bedroom, sufficient storage space and a bathroom with a window! Those elements made us happy for about a second. When I found myself ringing Michal each day to bring back bread or milk or something or other from the shops on his way home from work, I knew we made a horrible mistake. We made ourselves car dependent. Argh. Michal I think actually became depressed. And if not depressed than really, really bitey and aggressive (“I despise this place” was a common phrase in the evenings). I tried to find solace in the fact that I had a laundry. But when it took 20 minutes to get to a semi-decent park with Kazek in tow, fighting despicably uneven footpaths, and then later pushing a pram with Julek down those same broken footpaths, I no longer cared much for the separate washing machine space. So when a two bedroom apartment became available on Mazowiecka in the same block of flats we had lived in previously, we jumped for joy and sprinted back to paradise.

This is my favourite area of Krakow to live in. It is green (which is rare). It has a park on the other side of the block of flats. We live in walking distance to our friends Ania and Tomek’s place, because they live on the other side of the said park. It has a grocer who knows my whole family by their first names. It has a medical centre I can reach on foot in about two minutes. The best ice cream in town is a 7 minute stroll through the park. In fact I can WALK to EVERYTHING I NEED. There is even a 24-hour liquor store at the end of the drive way. The tram stop is close enough to love it. Michal’s office is just down the road and he can POP in for LUNCH! When Kazek turns three in August he will be sent to the public pre-school which he will reach by not EVEN HAVING TO CROSS A ROAD. Is this paradise? Yes. Did I get teary when we moved back and Michal and Kazek were both riding their bikes ahead through the park and I was pushing Jules in his pram, and the birds were chirping, and the day was hot and I recognised the mums on the benches with their kids who smiled at me and said hello? Yes I bloody well did. Things are so looking up. The forecast for Justyna is shit yeah!!

I am glad now we had made the mistake of moving to the arse end of town because it has resulted in a pact – Michal and Justyna solemnly declare never to move in Krakow again unless we are kicked out of our apartment or if we have to change cities or countries. The lease is signed at for four years.

I think that this declaration has also made our friends happy. Tukan and Titka, the loyal souls that they are, helped us with the move. Again. The very first apartment we rented in Krakow was in winter of 2006. The temperatures were around -30 Celsius then. We flew into Poland and slept at T&T’s place for a week behind their fold-out couch in their studio apartment. We found a crappy one-room unit that needed to have the wallpaper torn down and a fresh coat of paint. Tukan would come after work and take off his suit and help with the wallpaper tearing. We got kicked out of that place pretty quickly though and had to move about 2ks further away. None of us then had a car. The move involved the four of us lugging all our crap in four backpacks doing I don’t know how many runs. Then we bought a place and T&T were around to help us move again. And then again. And again. They have helped in nearly every single move Michal and I have made in this town. This last one though was pretty significant. It involved the renting of a moving truck. But more importantly it was a long-weekend, the very first hot weekend of the year after a long winter, and instead of enjoying it under a tree somewhere with a beer, both Tukan and Titka sacrificed their whole day lugging really heavy boxes up and down flights of stairs. No whinging. Just lugging.

Our pact is also a homage to them. We never want to have to ask for their help in moving again. Titka reckons we’re being a bit optimistic.


Forecast – by Karen

13 May

It’s Mother’s Day! Amongst typical weekend antics of whining, fighting, sucking the life out of music lesson, and asking for a macaron when offered a square of chocolate, my kids have also managed to amuse me.

Finn: When we go out later, we can get you a present
Me: Ok, but just talk about it with Dada, it’s got to be a surprise
Finn: But I know what we could get, we-
Me: No! Don’t tell me
Finn: I just want to give you a clue
Me: I don’t want a clue
Finn: Just a clue though
Me: I don’t want a-
Finn: It has seven eyes.
Me: ….

So, foreboding and forbidding as that  was, I should share with you some other Forecasts as per the topic this week.

Someone, I think it was Beth, once asked for predictions for 2012, and mine was “coloured car tyres”. I stand by that. Some more forecasts:

Weather: Easy in Singapore. Humidity will be 90-100 per cent. It will be very hot, then slightly cooler for five minutes, prior to a thunderstorm, then it will be hot again, including during the thunderstorm. Which day was that forecast for? It doesn’t matter.

Fashion: Something that was previously fashionable and looks very ugly will suddenly be worn by people who are cool. Then other people will wear it. Then time will pass. Then they will all stop wearing it, except occasionally. Then I will wear it, cursing myself all the while.

Technology: Something that HP tried to make happen 12 years ago will be released by Apple. People will like it. Then HP will release a less popular version (for HP, you can substitute any hardware manufacturer).

Movies: A good one has to come out soon. Surely.

Nathan: Will find himself employed before he and Tabitha have a chance to enact their Thailand game plan. They will both feel slightly disappointed with themselves for not feeling slightly disappointed.

Food: Mini dacquoise will be the new macaron. I’ve been calling this since a trip to Japan two years ago, but fuck it, this has to happen.

In Japan, even Starbucks has ’em. That’s the future, people.

Forecast – by Tabitha

10 May

I’ve mentioned before about how I don’t deal very well with uncertainty. I like to have a clear vision of the future and where I fit in it. I don’t care if the weather ahead is dark and stormy, so long as I know the forecast.

So I’m currently investing a great deal of mental effort into trying to be TOTALLY OKAY with that great big blank space which is lying just ahead of us. Nathan’s contract finishes in five weeks, leaving us free to leave Hanoi, and that’s the end of what we know. We don’t have jobs, we don’t know what city in Australia we’re going to move back to, and there’s no point us going home until we actually manage to get jobs. We don’t know when that will be, and until we do, we can’t even buy plane tickets.

Cue Operation:  WE ARE TOTALLY OKAY WITH THIS. Keep saying it, and it will be so, right?

Yes, Nathan and I have had several minor freak-outs over this. But we pulled ourselves together enough to devise the world’s most appealing alternative to an uncertain future, whereby we post all our stuff home and head to a Thai island with a good internet connection, and wait until we get jobs.

It looks like we can get a quiet beach bungalow on Koh Samui for about $150 a week. Nathan is going to study, and I’m going to write, and we’re going to luxuriate in the kind of ceaseless stretch of time that won’t be bestowed on us again until our retirements. Or, we’re at least going to try.

There’s something about unemployment that renders you incapable of making the most of your time. And then you get a job, and then you never have enough time, and then you fantasise about not having a job. So we’re not positioning this as unemployment; this is an indefinite holiday. I know how good that sounds, because when I tell people, they look all wistful and jealous. Not the kind of look you get when you say you’re jobless and homeless.

We’re starting to believe our own marketing. I’m getting pretty excited about the idea of having no plans, no lists of things to do, no hurries. Just some job applications, some walks on the beach, and plenty of Thai food.

It’s going to be a bright, bright sun-shiny day.

The forecast is for… by Beth

7 May

With any luck, I am going to get old. And I hope you do too. As shit as it’s going to be in some ways (I was talking to a menopausal friend about the nitty gritty of it the other week and hooley dooley that sounds difficult!), it’s a blessing to grow old. I’m reminded of this by talking to a friend our age undergoing treatment for aggressive breast cancer.

Recently I listened to an NPR interview with writer Anna Quindlen where she talks about being in her late 50s and how she’s changed: “It’s odd when I think of the arc of my life – from child to young woman to aging adult. First I was who I was. Then I didn’t know who I was. Then I invented someone and became her. Then I began to like what I’d invented. And finally I was what I was again.” Pretty cool, hey? You can listen to the whole podcast here.

We can hunger for the past, or ache for the future, but I think that being in the moment and just living it: whether it’s the enjoyment of that moment, or the pain of it, is one of the greatest things we can do. I also find it very hard! By not doing any form of meditation or yoga and not studying a spiritual practice, I’m probably not giving myself the best chance at achieving a maximum ‘live in the moment’ sitch, but it really feels good when I catch myself there hanging out. Just digging the vibe.

For the past month I’ve been doing a boot camp. Not to be mistaken with the boot camp that Tabs hosted back in 2008/09, which was legendary in its own right. This boot camp is hard but awesome. I truly miss it (some) mornings when I’m not there at 6:15am. Doing fitness is so great for being in the moment. And it turns out that I quite enjoy running (short distances). I never would have forecasted that!

Living in the moment is definitely different from *enjoying* every single moment. Also a favourite subject of mine in connection with parenthood. See here and here. Today Leo and I were at a chemist and an old lady said “they grow up too fast, don’t they?” As cliched and loaded as that statement is, the sentiment at the heart of it: that children are beautiful in every way is, of course, lovely. And true. But of course they’re also exasperating and difficult to live with too. So when that kind of ‘enjoy this, it’s the happiest time of your life’ sentiment is trotted out to a mother in a moment where she’s clearly not having a good time, I think it’s annoying to bring that up. (Through gritted teeth: “Yes, yes, it’s the happiest time of my life”…) etc.

So on this particular morning, I sat there with Leo (playing with his car and two clips he insisted on bringing) on the floor of the chemist, drinking him in, loving his company and reminding myself that I wasn’t in any real hurry.