Life in Poland

How many hats do you wear?

I play many roles in my life, as we all do and when I meet someone (officially with introductions) or in passing (the cashier at the check-out lane) I wonder about all the roles they play…for I see only one……hats

You could suppose that I am voyeuristic or plain nosy but actually I am just curious…in a healthy way. It doesn’t matter that I live (and have lived for more than 10 years) in a different country. I still want to learn about what makes us different and what makes us the same. Maybe that’s the reason some people read my blog too.

So please indulge your voyeuristic desires. Here are some of my roles…

Mother: No 1 most important, rewarding, time-consuming and brain-cell sucking. Becoming a mother changed my whole life. It changed how I see the world. It has made me a better person. I cannot say the same for my manicure.

Wife: You’d have to ask Misiu how he feels I’m doing in this role but I feel that when I have to cut corners of one my roles, I usually cut ‘wife’ corners before I cut ‘mother’ corners. Sad, but true. Sorry Misiu for forgetting our anniversary this year 🙁

juggling motherCook: I’m getting better. Nobody is starving in our household and thanks to the computer located basically in the kitchen, a new recipe is just one google away.

Housekeeper: Don’t even ask.

Friend: Ok, this is the one that actually gets cuts the most – first out of necessity/practicality- I mean I can’t seem to meet with some friends because one of us (or our children) is always ill. With “friends” (I really mean acquaintances/workmates) they are understanding and meeting once a year sometimes has to be sufficient. I am no longer the one seeking out my friends. I learned from Misiu – if someone doesn’t check if you even exist for more than a year, then what kind of friend are they anyway? We’ve each got a handful of friends that we love and trust (and who would lend us money). That’s enough for us.

Parent: Of course this should go along with mother, but I am talking about the perspective of others, for example teachers at school where I am “that parent”- the one who thinks rajstopy are not necessary on an everyday basis. The one who doesn’t allow her children to attend religion lessons. The one who sometimes doesn’t iron her children’s clothes.

From the perspective of my children, I guess I will know for sure how I am doing as a parent some 20 years from now (with a time about 10 years from now in which I will learn that I am ruining their lives). Currently, Daddy is the best and Mommy is chopped liver.

Neighbor: I think I am a good neighbor. We are clean, calm, pretty quiet, helpful. I used to be known (and maybe still am) as “that neighbor”. When there was a problem in the building one neighbor said to me “maybe you can do something about it….they already know how you are”. You mean totally cool? Of course they know how I am. Smokers in the hallway…I’ll take care of it. Stinky garbage in the hallway…done. Crazy cat lady and the funky smell coming from her apartment…double done. Dog poo every where in front of our building….still working on it.

And we were rewarded for our good neighborly relations last Halloween and the Halloween before that when our neighbors allowed our little trick-or-treaters to come to their doors.

Teacher: I have my good times and my bad. You’d have to ask my students. Wait. Better not.

Employee: Misiu is my boss per se but we have a good system.

Daughter-in-Law: Or basically anything-in-law is totally ok now. I can speak enough Polish and anything which disagrees with the expectations of how I should perform this role is blamed on the fact that I am American. That is a very convenient excuse.

Churchgoer: My performance in this role ended a long time ago and while my lack of church going is often blamed on the language barrier we all know the reasons are deeper than that.

Patient: I’m a pain in the ass patient for many doctors because I ask a lot of questions (something I learned almost too late from the time I was ill). I follow the philosophy of my former doctor…

1. “In the medical profession, I trust no one, even myself.”

2. “Chris, be careful. This town is a kurwidół (a whore pit) and we (doctors) are all kurwy (whores).” He really said that.

The practical application of these philosophies means that my approach to medicine is at best cautious leaning towards suspicious, sometimes borderline paranoid.

Confidante: I’m real good at this one. People will tell you everything at English lessons, about their upcoming divorce, insider trading, shady pasts, and the good stuff too like how much they love their kids or think skiing is the best sport ever, etc.

Writer: I decided to add this one. I mean what does this role really require – that I write something (I do write some stuff) and somebody reads it (not even sure that is required). I guess I fulfill the minimum requirements of this role 🙂

Sister: I do very poorly in this role, but I suppose it is because no one is particularly interested in me fulfilling it.

The role that I am struggling with the most is daughter. Maybe because I haven’t played that role in over 7 years and for the 10 years before that it was played only on a part-time basis. My parents also do not know me in the roles of mother, parent, teacher, employee, friend, patient, writer and so on. They only know one slither of me and they don’t even know that slither very well. I’m planning a visit to my parents (not soon but planning). That gives me some time to figure out how to introduce them to me, the whole me.

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  • Reply
    Asia Prezentuje Prezenty
    January 4, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Chris, I have been reading your blog for a while already and while this post has satisfied some of my curiosity about you and your life it has also raised new questions 😉 The phrase that I most liked was \”borderline paranoid\” – can't say I blame me for such attitude to the medical profession!

  • Reply
    January 4, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    What about 'foreigner' role? Do you still feel like an alien (like my beloved Japanese officials like to call us) or you already become one of us?

  • Reply
    January 4, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    PP- I am glad to hear from you. Hmmm, more questions raised…well, I was a cheerleader in high school, was known as a witch (starting with \”b\”) at university and got married in a black dress. Does that help? ;)Borderline paranoid is my new status – much safer than my original status of totally trusting. I learned better the hard way.kubala – That's a hard one. Sometimes it depends on the context. I feel more foreign when I go to the village. I know that's weird. When it is an \”us\” \”them\” conversation, I identify as Polish unless the us/them is US/Poland. I am esp. Polish when the \”them\” is Germany or Russia 😉 I share a lot of common experiences with my friends here (husband, wedding, taxes, hospitals, births, kids, school, working, driving, roads, entertainment) so sometimes they laugh and say that I am \”tutejsza\”. On rare occasions, something is said or something happens or I read something and I feel on the outside, alien. It happens less and less often though.At least I look like everyone else so unless I say something, nobody knows I am a foreigner. I have a student of Middle Eastern heritage and he said that his father still feels alien even after 50 years in Poland. I suppose one reason is that everyone looks at him and sees \”foreigner\”.

  • Reply
    Lois B
    January 7, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Glad you added writer; it's how we know and love you!

  • Reply
    January 10, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Thanks Lois 🙂

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