Sunday, July 6, 2008


There's just so much to write about!

The information I must include is that we were lied too: there will not be Internet in our bedrooms; there is only a computer room in the basement with six machines. And the basement is a steaming pit of laundry and smoke, because that's where the wash-room and smoking-room are. So, we're at McDonald's, and, unless they kick us out, we'll probably be here often. I just wish it were a groovy coffee shop. Oh well.

I also haven't taken caffeine for three days! I've been going to bed at 9:00 or 9:30, yes, but I'm sleeping enough.

Today we got the very good news that I won't have to move again. I had moved down into the other room in Professor Whipple's suite and we'd moved the man who was supposed to be there up to the 3rd (in America, the 4th) floor. Well, turns out that man is 76 years old, so the summer school people were mad at us, but Professor Whipple finagled it so I can stay where I am. As I am basically an old person, it's perfect for me. I don't have to deal with noisy roommates who stay up late.

Last week has been a mixed bag of excitement and disappointment. I'll get the worst over with, because I hate talking about it.

On Friday we went to see one of the greatest organs in Poland. Professor Whipple has played it once, as he chanced there last time just as Mass was ending and the organist was really kind, so we went there with some trepidation, hoping we'd get lucky again. I tried to be a staunch pessimist so I wouldn't have my hopes dashed.

Well, we got there just as Mass was ending, and Professor Whipple and I sneaked up into the organ loft. The organist was new and young, but very nice, but he wouldn't let us play without permission from the Father Superior.

Well, the Father Superior turned out to be a (swear word). "No foreigners are allowed to play unless they are giving a recital." The nice organist said that there was a tour group waiting to hear a 30 minute recital at that very moment, so the Father Superior agreed to let Professor Whipple play that, but no students were allowed into the loft.

So, I stood next to one of the greatest organs in Poland, let myself get excited about playing even one simple hymn, and had my hopes dashed by a fat, probably indigested monk.

On the other hand, I got to see Belarus and Ukraine across the Buk river, so that was cool enough.

We've also eaten really well. In Zamość we sat in a restaurant right on the historic and beautiful town square, with the town hall in view. Last night, we ate at a superb little restaurant in Lublin right in the old town.

Lublin is a nice enough city. Our neighborhood is something of a hair-clogged drain, where the swill of society congregate. The building across the street is basically ruined, and hooligans and bums and aspiring race-car drivers (it's not even a through street) make for a nervous atmosphere.

But, we're only five minutes away from the old town, on foot, and since its summer they have evening concerts and fun to-dos. I'm getting used to walking a lot more, even though I still think I'll ride the bus to school (as soon as I have time to figure out the routes), because I don't want to spend the time walking. I don't know, I should walk an hour a day, but I'd rather walk and see new places, rather than the same street over and over.

I still haven't bought sunglasses, because I don't have anyone to go with me and tell me whether they're damn sexy. I will settle for no less than damn sexy.

If you couldn't tell by word choice, all the irreverence in my soul is at a steady boil.

Today at church we had a crew of folk dancers from none other than Burley, Idaho--middle-schoolers and leaders. Since there were two Poles there, it meant that sacrament meeting was in English, so I was recruited to translate for a nice Polish woman, and I had to do a running translation, because no one cared to speak slowly.

As it was my first time translating, and it was continuous at that, I felt I did pretty well. I got totally flummoxed when the leader of the Burley group started talking about BYU's folk dance team and how they decided to form the group and tour the world because it would be too hard for the kids to get into BYU. Try explaining all that to an elderly Polish woman in the space of a single sentence.

We had some really unique experiences this week with folk artists. Because Professor Whipple is such a connoisseur of Polish folk art, he has some friends in the trade. We visited one whom Professor Whipple hadn't even met, who is in his seventies and lives very primitive circumstances. Three others who we visited have a big presence in Professor Whipple's collection, and they were all very gracious hosts and it was a side of Poland few people get to see.

All of them carve and paint wood, and it's quite a craft they've developed. I wished I had more money so I could take more of the beauty home with me and show you. I did get plenty of pictures.

Speaking of which I shall now figure out how to post some pictures and videos, and those will be posts unto themselves.

Starting tomorrow, I have to start studying Polish in earnest, but I'll still try to find time to write.

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