The Krakow Diaries

75 days in Krakow. On a literary grant from the German Kulturstiftung der Länder. In the Guesthouse of the 16th century Villa Decius, with 10 other writers from Poland, Germany, Belarussia, Ukraine and Georgia. Beautiful city. Nice Krakovians. Fun nightlife. Beautiful women. And in the guesthouse: Meetings of the minds. Too much vodka. Good friends. One of the great pleasures of my life.

Day #28: Saturday, Oct. 14: Rynek Days with My Beautiful German Frolein








Day #27: Friday, Oct. 13: Who Knew?


Well, I lost again. Yesterday I put ten sloty on Bob Dylan winning the Nobel prize for Literature, and instead it went to some guy named Pamuk. Who knew?

Last night we all got together – those of us remaining in the house – and decided that we would defy fate and do what true literary-minded souls would do in this situation, which is bet on who would win the Nobel Prize for Literature. We were all there except for one – the elusive, mysterious Larysa. We discussed the ins and outs of the situation over a bottle of vodka. Then we all threw 10 sloty into the pot and wrote down our bets:

Mirek – (first Updike, then Androkovich, then…) DeLillo
Danuta – Roth
Ambrosi – Kapuszinsky
Kobus – Pynchon
Erica – Pamuk
Eric – Dylan

But when I went down to the breakfast room this morning, only about an hour before the announcement, a new name had been added to the list:

Larysa – Pamuk.

The elusive, mysterious Larysa had been watching us, somehow, all this time.

When Erica saw the new name, she realized that she would either have to split the pot with Larysa or change her bet. So she changed hers:

Erica – Updike.

We're going to have to find out a little bit more about this Larysa person.

Day #26: Thursday, Oct. 12: The Mysterious Package Part 3

This morning I got up and decided to put an end to it. These nightmares of missing the cookies, of cookies going stale, of Katja appearing out of nowhere, saying, "But those cookies were for you!"

When I was young and a Mormon, I thought a lot about the phenomenon of temptation and resistance. A friend, another Mormon, told me a parable about a Buddhist monk. He is walking along a path in the woods with his pupil beside him when they come upon a stream. At the stream, a beautiful woman is standing. "I'm afraid I will slip and fall," she said. "Can you carry me across the stream?" Without hesitation, the older monk picked her up in his arms and carried her across the stream.

When they were alone again, the pupil, who was a little concerned, asked: "Why did you do that, master? Didn’t you vow never to touch a woman?"

"I did, Grasshopper," said the monk (I don’t think he actually said "Grasshopper"), "but I knew if I didn’t do it, I would be thinking about it for the rest of my days – in my mind, touching her over and over again. this way, I touched her, I know how it felt, I got it over with, and I can go on."

This is the story I thought of as I sat in bed after another terrible night. So I got up, pulled on some pants, and in the early morning hours I stumbled down the stairs and into the kitchen, determined to make that package of cookies mine.

But when I got there, it was gone.

Day #25: Wednesday, Oct. 11: The Mysterious Package Part 2

I couldn’t sleep last night. I was tortured by nightmares of homemade cookies fading from my grasp before I could bite into them. Then I woke up – with a start. I was no longer in bed. In my sleep, I had gotten up, walked out the door and was standing before the stairs leading down to the kitchen.

No, I can’t do that. I have to stay away from that package. I forced myself to go back to bed, and was tortured by nightmares all night long.

Day #24: Tuesday, Oct. 10: The Mysterious Package Part 1

A package has been sitting around in the kitchen for some time now. If there is indeed someone still in the house with me, no has claimed it. I keep thinking about it. I can’t get it out of my mind. It haunts my dreams. It's the kind of package that looks like it might contain cookies. Homemade cookies. The name on the return address label is a motherly kind of name – the kind of name that would bake cookies and send them.

It is addressed to Katja, but Katja is gone. I don’t think she's ever coming back. I'm no longer sure she was ever here. That can only mean the package is meant for someone else. Someone who is smart enough to figure it out. I am beginning to think maybe the package is meant for me.

But still, something holds me back. This Katja person… maybe she does exist. Maybe she will return. But how can I know before the cookies go stale?

Day #23: Monday, Oct. 9: Faust Was Here…




...and so was Copernicus.

Day #22: Sunday, Oct. 8: Choice of Weapons

Kobus' flyswatter of choice (see comment one post below).

Danuta's flyswatter of choice.

My flyswatter of choice.