storm the bastille of your imagination
On the plane back from Berkeley I was sitting next to a man speaking an unidentifiable language; eventually it came to light that he was an applied mathematician from Brazil and had been speaking French with a Portuguese accent. I was reading Teach Yourself Polish, printed in the United Kingdom in 1964, while he was reading The Pickwick Papers, of all things. We had a bit of conversation about that.
I am now the proud holder of a yearlong lease on a small house near the Berkeley campus. There is a fig tree in the backyard. I found a lot of other things besides the house; friends, fog, the word WONGER! (clearly a French verb: voulez-vous wonger avec moi ce soir?) carved in the sidewalk, the word GWART on a van, which was so damn funny that I gwarted my Gatorade all over the sidewalk and then fell over.
It's all about to change, my friends; surely for the better. Parts of myself have shrunk in the past two years of seclusion, and only now do I remember that I still possess them, that they're still in working order. No, that's not meant sexually, you pervs. Nor (I am told) does Wittgenstein's darüber muß man schweigen work as a pickup line. I'll take it to heart regardless. Enough about me. Let's talk about Teach Yourself Polish, which at the end of each little chapter gives you some English phrases to translate into Polish for grammar and vocab practice. It was a weekend of finding things, I give you a bit of found poetry, which honestly gives me the chills:
I am surprised that this flat is so cold. Flats in old houses are often very warm. I don't like the cold. He lived with my brother. My husband was very ill, but he is better now. It was very warm at the seaside. Who is learning better, he or she? Now they are ashamed of this letter. We are rejoicing over your victory. Mother was expecting a letter from my brother. My office was very dark and cold. The children are staying here for the holidays with the grandfather and the aunts. Don't laugh at this. One often sees that. One often saw that. One often hears that. One often heard that. Why are you burning this letter? What is burning here? This window does not close. Your life is beginning, mine is ending.
In a few days I'll be able to give you that in Polish. It has been suggested that I could use these phrases to terrify Polish children. While wearing a weird hat.