Wednesday, 24 March 2010

TLT, or total lifestyle transformation

What seems to be a recurrent topic of the last few days is the issue of transformation of habits and lifestyle - the coursebooks are packed with fresh ideas that nicley match the spring, sun and the like. I myself have been an owner of a monthly fitness club ticket which I got from my husband for the International Women's Day. I guess I'd prefer a book or a 1500-piece jigsaw puzzle, like this one for example:

Which does not mean I'm not an active person; perhaps I'm just more keen on cerebral activity than swinging your limbs in all possible directions in slow motion (take Pilates classes, for example - not much is going on except for the fact that you feel your every single muscle stretch to what seems to be its ultimate limit).

Anyway, because of that gift ticket, which includes all sorts of physical exercise classes three times a week, I've fallen victim to a total lifestyle transformation. Do I feel refreshed? Hard to say. I need painkillers to be able to walk because of very painful muscle sores, not to mention getting into and out of the car, which takes me quite a few minutes accompanied by moaning and swearing. In a way, I remember I used to be quite a fit person before I started practising TBC and all the rest; now I can barely move, my eyes are bloodshot and I'd be glad to spend most of my free time sleeping after the huge effort of following the fitness instructor.

So, don't exaggerate with changing your lives; atfer all, couch potatoes can be nice people, too;)

recurrent - powracający
and the like - i tym podobne
cerebral = connected with the brain
limbs - kończyny, członki
in slow motion - w zwolnionym tempie
to fall victim (to sth) - paść ofiarą (czegoś)
painkiller - środek przeciwbólowy
muscle sores - zakwasy
moan - jęczeć
TBC = total body condition
bloodshot - przekrwione

Saturday, 20 March 2010

le sapeurs

To follow up our last meeting with my students, I'd like to ask you if you have heard about people who would sacrifice everything for designer labels and fashy clothes? I guess your answer will be yes, maybe you've even seen the Cofessions of a Shopaholic and you know that some fashion-lovers can't be warned even by the debt collector. But if I continue saying that these people may be found at the heart of the "Black Continent", in Congo, in shabby impoverished neighbourhoods - wouldn't you at least be a bit surprised? Take a look for example at this relaxed gentleman:

Or even a more relaxed gentleman:

Those people contrasting so strongly with their surroundings are called the spaeurs - form the French abbreviation SAPE - Societe des Ambienceurs et Personnes Elegantes (which may be transleted as the "society of atmosphere setters and elegant persons"). It wouldn't be at all strange for such society to exist, if not the fact that they often consist of the unemployed who spare on food or turn to crime in order to be able to afford getting the clothes.

You can view a slide show of photographs by Francesco Giusti and read an article about the sapeurs here.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

love your neighbour

With my brilliant intermediate students we've been lately meditating on the complexity of social issues in Great Britain, or - tu put it clear - on the problems with neighbours that you might encounter when living there. In order to fully realize why the British may freak out in relations with their neighbours, you should have a look at a typical street in Luton, near London:

What you see is a row of terraced houses, of a cookie-cutter type, where you might easily mistake somebody else's door for your own, as they do not differ much. When you look a bit closer, you'll find out in addition that the space between each two doors is really tiny. No wonder that when you come up with the idea to leave your garbage outside your door, your neighbour will treat it as a treacherous attempt on his life, or at least - as a health hazard.

Here the door is even more visible behind my back. Another striking fact is that the floor of a terraced house is on the level of the pavement, which gives the impression of actually living on the street.
Still, for me, those red Siamese houses have that wonderful air of the "Britishness" - provided that I can just walk along, disregarding the matters of noisy neighbouhood.
PS I request my students not to use my photo for the purpose of voo-doo practices - no matter how angry with me they might get:)
love your neighbour - miłuj bliźniego swego / kochaj swojego sąsiada (neighbour - 1. sąsiad, 2. bibl bliźni)
encounter - napotkać
terraced house - segment zabudowy szeregowej
cookie-cutter - foremka do ciastek; tu: sztampowy, na jedno kopyto
tiny=very little
treacherous - podstępny
attempt (on) - zamach na
pavement - chodnik
Siamese - syjamski
provided that - pod warunkiem, ze
disregard - nie zwazać na coś

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

tea or coffee?

Luckily for me, my chronobiogical devices comply with my lifestyle, which, in turn, is greatly affected by the circumstances of my job. In short, I work late. I start work when most of people have just finished. If you ask me about the good points, there are many. When I'm rushing to my language school downtown, I have no problems with traffic jams, because everybody is on their way home, just in the opposite direction. Also, my brain works better, the later it gets (within certain limits, of course - at midnight I'm a dead teacher and a dead person, anyway) and I don't need any additional stimulation (take, for instance, caffein) to be conscious in the afternoon or evening.
But what can I say about my mornings? First, I need a crane to lift me up from bed and arrange my numb limbs in some more or less vertical position. My kids play that role quite efficiently and effectively. Then, I need to hold my head with both hands in order not to drop it somewhere and then have difficulties searching it among toys and clothes. And then, when I've brought my kids to the kindergarten and my husband to work - and when the time is ripe to think of a breakfast, this crucial question arises: tea or coffee first? It's not Hamlet's "to be or not to be", but still, that is the question...

comply with - zgadzać się
downtown = in the city centre
conscious - przytomny
crane - dźwig
numb limbs - odrętwiałe członki
vertical - pionowy
ripe - dojrzały
crucial - kluczowe
arise - pojawiać się