Poland

In June of 2015, I travelled to Poland, to see my beautiful friend, Marta Zalewska.

Since this trip was more than 8 months ago, the details are a little foggy. So I have a map which should help us both as I try to piece together what I did in this beautiful country!

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After Marta met me at the airport in Gdansk, we took a few buses to the student housing of her friend. We dropped off my bags and headed out on foot. Down the street was a small shop where we stopped for traditional Polish pierogis. My Polish is a little rusty now so I am having trouble remembering which flavor I had.

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After our lunch, we walked around Gdansk for a while then took a trolley and a train to Sopot which is on the Northern coast of Poland off the Baltic Sea. Before we got there, I had no idea there was a beach in Poland. I just never connected the dots that Poland was one of the Balkans. It was cold and rainy which meant the beach was empty but absolutely pristine. We got ice cream and waffles and walked along this massive pier. It got a little rainy and cold so we hoped on a tree and headed back to Gdansk.

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When we got back to Gdansk, Marta’s friend Mateusz, whose housing I had put my bags, was out of class and ready for exploring! We basically ate and drank our way around the city. We stopped for a few drinks, got a burger, and stopped for gourmet cupcakes! My Polish was slowly increasing. I was able to say please and thank you for myself, but still had to be a child with Marta ordering for me. In the late evening, we went to a convenience store, and bought some vodka (wodka in Polish!). We drank in Mateusz’s room until Marta’s boyfriend arrived to take us to our next adventure.

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Paweł, Marta’s boyfriend, picked us up from the student housing and drove us to Marta’s parents’ house in the country, outside of Grudziądz. It was like midnight or 1 when he picked us up so it was too dark for me to see the scenery as we drove. At one point, no one had spoken in english for at least an hour and Paweł and Marta were in such a deep discussion in Polish and we were just driving through these empty towns that I was absolutely convinced that they were taking me somewhere to murder me. I just sat silently in the backseat, making an escape plan. It wasn’t until we arrived at Marta’s parents house that I experienced relief and explained my worry to Marta. She just laughed at me.

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The next morning we woke up and headed out into Grudziądz. We first stopped for lunch and had a popular food, the zapikanka, which is like a chibatta loaf, cut in half, covered in savory cole slaw and ketchup (picture on the right). I also got a shawarma in fear that the zapikanka wasn’t going to be as delicious as it was.

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We took a walk to this big tower that had recently been renovated which gave beautiful views of the whole city.

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We walked through old Grudziądz which was mostly empty. The old town is built into the original city walls.

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Apparently Grudziądz is a popular street name throughout Europe.

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After our tour of Grudziądz, we stopped by this lake side camp to say hello to Marta’s mom. It was amazing to see all of this scenery, so different from New Mexico AND Norway

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The next day, Marta and I drove drove to her and Pawel’s apartment in Torun. We stopped at a McDonald’s on the way there and I just through it was adorable that the drive-thru was called a McDrive. :3 We also had this beer that tasted like thin, alcoholic honey and it was amazing.

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The next day, the three of us got on a train headed for Wrocław. We got snacks for the train and this turned into a Polish lesson. Turns out “Supertata” means “Super Dad” not “Super Tits” like I expected (and hoped).

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Once we got to Wrocław and had dropped off our bags at the hostel, we headed out to meet Marta and Pawel’s friends. We met at a bar and the vodka was quickly flowing. Beers turned to shots which turned to bottles.

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Once we were drunk enough, we left the bars and bought liquor at a store. Apparently drinking in parks is a thing in Poland so we took those bottles and found some empty benches in the park that was slowly filling up. Turns out the bathrooms in these parks close before the drunks (us) get there. So we had to resort to the camping method in light of the immense drinking.

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While I was drunk in this park, I texted this beautiful Viking named Hugo and it was such a great decision. Thank you, drunk Sarah. *self-five*

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In the morning, I woke up extremely itchy, attributing it to my close calls with unfamiliar trees and bushes in the park. That day, we ate and drank and adventured and ended up going to a birthday party in this little forest and all I have a picture of is us burning a box. This trip included more outdoor drinking (and peeing) then I could have imagined.

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We headed back to Toruń the next day. Pawel had to do some work at a MotoPri competition at the local arena so I bought some tickets for Marta and I. We drank a lot of beer, judged the cuteness of the competitors, and commented on all the older men with very young wives sitting near us in the VIP section.

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I felt so cute for matching the stadium so well.

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Me and Marta!

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Turned out that the itchiness I was feeling in Wrocław wasn’t from all the rubbing up against trees and bushes. I had gotten severely bitten by bed bugs in the hostel. I looked like I had leprosy covering my arms, legs, hands, and feet, and Marta and I were trying all the internet solutions to try to dull the itching. Luckily when we returned back toToruń, Marta loaded me up with Polish creams, ointments, and steroids, from her dad who is a doctor.

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Once I slathered on some anti-itch cream, Marta and I strolled around Grudziądz. We went to a contemporary art museum where I took these 3 pictures. The first is of a beautiful building across the street from the museum. The second, a multimedia piece which included showing the changing of reflection colors of frozen metal. The third was an interactive piece about communism and propaganda.

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Early the next morning, Marta put me on a train to Gdansk. This was probably one of my proudest travel moments because I successful got myself off the train, onto a bus, and to the airport while everything I needed was in Polish! I was happy to return safely to Bergen, and was glad the bedbugs didn’t follow me home; my liver was happy for the break.

xoxo Sarah

18 year old Me

I opened a letter I wrote to myself my senior year of high school this morning, here’s what it said:

Dear Sarah,

You should be enjoying your senior year at whatever exceptional university you chose. You should be exploring a subject that’s both interesting and challenging. Even if you didn’t go into Public Health or aren’t planning to go to med school in a few months, that’s fine. Just be working towards something worth your time and potential. Also, give everything you have to whatever you’re working towards. Even if you fail, at least you tried.

I know it gets lonely and hard but never settle. You are so much happier alone than with someone who doesn’t deserve you. Remember that.

You can’t make everyone happy. Sometimes you have to make the choices that are best for you and say fuck everyone else!

Love, Sarah

18 year old me, you were a boss bitch. I’m trying to do you right. :)

16 For 2016

I wrote my New Year’s resolutions on January 2nd, so it seems appropriate that I share them almost a week after the new year. I’ve tried to frame mine as attainable personal goals because I like things to be concrete. For the couple that aren’t that concrete, it was intentional; they’re more life habits I need to establish. Have a gander and comment about your resolutions!

  1. Plan less in the future, live and do more in the present. The irony of this list is then not lost on me.
  2. Go to Marfa, Texas, and the Grand Canyon (probably when I go to see Adele!).
  3. Plan a big trip to at least one new place, hopefully Columbia or Shanghai.
  4. Figure out what I love doing and do more of it!
  5. Make at least one good, new friend (hopefully a few more).
  6. Volunteer: Animal Shelter and Homeless Shelter
  7. Eat healthier and treat my body better. I need to remember that eating healthy is good for my body, inside and out, including my mental health.
  8. Exercise 30 minutes everyday.
  9. Wear lipstick and be generally more put together. I need to channel my inner Adele a little more.
  10. Go on one date every week. Be okay with the possible rejection.
  11. Try 2 new restaurants every month.Real restaurants and not just a new Taco Cabana.
  12. Build a budget and stick to it. Soon I’ll have a real job and real expenses and I want to be able to handle my money confidently.
  13. Read 1 book a month.
  14. Get all A’s in my MBA classes.
  15. Work on being able to express myself when I’m upset or frustrated, personally and professionally.
  16. Surround myself with strong women and not hold any resentment for the women who didn’t feel so empowering. Everyone is learning as they go and it’s naive of me to think that what’s best for me will be the best for anyone else.

 

xoxo Sarah

 

 

Bare Men (nsfw)

Sometime last week I was Pinteresting, like I do when I’m avoiding something, when I stumbled upon a pin by Refinery 29, a women’s culture site, about “12 Pictures of Naked, Vulnerable men”. Being a fan of both men and nakedness, I clicked. The website’s almost article and slideshow were lackluster, but I was intrigued by the artist’s quotes about the reasoning behind the series of photographs. I went to her website and instantly, this project found a place in my heart.

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Courtesy of Abigail Ekue

The series is called Bare Men. It is a series of photographs by Abigail Ekue showing men naked and vulnerable because those two things are rarely seen in the public eye and especially not together. The whole website is a great read and the photographs are amazing. I really recommend taking a look.

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Courtesy of Abigail Ekue

After reading through the website, I had SO MANY QUESTIONS because I have questions all the time, especially about things that make me curious. So I sent her an email with my questions and she emailed back so quickly! Check out here answers below.

Did the body language of the men change if/when they became aroused? Was there a consistent change among many of the men?

I can’t say there was a consistent change among the men. Some of the men got aroused and we continued to shoot. They expressed interest in getting erotic images done of themselves so even if they had to think themselves into that state or take some time to stroke until they became aroused, I would take a break from shooting then start again when they were ready. Others got erections because they were nervous.

Did you ever feel like men were trying to seduce you with their nakedness?

Yes, considering the majority of the men I’ve worked with are hetero or bi I think there was a definite “power play” at some moments. They’re nude in front of woman and she’s taking photos. But I’m professional during the shoots. It’s a fine line giving verbal cues to get him in a particular pose or frame of mind and flirting. I can compliment a man on a shot we’ve created without it being skeevy or sexual. I think out of ego they wanted to elicit some sort of response from me. Some men, who approach me for the series or private nude shoots admit that being naked in front of a women is a thrill for them.

When and how did this idea come to you? Did you have an ah hah moment?

It wasn’t really one particular aha moment. I always loved the idea of editorial photography. As much as I love movies, there’s something about still photography that I gravitate towards. So I did a male nude photo shoot and the response was positive. Viewers were intrigued by a feminist approach to male nudes even though that wasn’t my intention. From there working with more men, I knew I wanted a collection. The photo exhibit was the first idea. Fine art nudes of men with full frontal nudity are rare. I want(ed) to produce that.

Did this series change anything for you as an artist, photographer, woman?

I can’t say Bare Men has changed me as a woman. From personal relationships, I already knew that men had this other side to them – vulnerability, angst, insecurities, bravado – and it’s great that men are willing to share that part. As an artist, the series has been an extension of my other work. Before I started the series, I was already writing and blogging about sex, relationships and body image, I’d published the first edition of my erotic short story collection, The Darker Side of Lust, some of my self portraits were nude and I used to be a nude art model. I did a small collage project years ago called “Men Wanted” where I asked me questions about what it’s like to feel wanted. I’ve always worked to share how people think and to express their experience. That is a project I would revisit on a grander scale. now. http://www.abigailekue.com/MenWanted.html

You mentioned a book… Is it available? If not, can I preorder? :)

Yes, there will be a Bare Men book! I already have the layout done and with each new photo shoot I drop in new photos. It will be a hardcover, glossy, full color objet d’art. Think something you’d find in TASCHEN. Limited edition too. I don’t have a preorder link set up just yet. I have my eyes set on Feb/March 2016 for moving on to phase 2. By then I can start taking preorders because I’d know how many pages the book will be, the cost of printing and then know how to price it for consumers. Stay tuned!

Go check it out!

Sarah xoxo

Maybe I should be an artist. I’d live in Paris. In the attic of an old building. I would have fresh flowers. I would take many lovers. Falling in love with small moments. I would smoke on my balcony. I would wander the streets at night. I would wear a lot of black. Too bad I can’t paint for shit.

 

Luckily, I have time to figure it out.