Question of the day.

   Today’s question of the day is courtesy of Meg

  Were you ever afraid of anything as a child that turned out to (probably) not exist? 

   My answer: 

   That’s an interesting question from my perspective, because I guess I could say yes and no. 😀 Let me find Misha before I continue though, I don’t want to get the creeps. 

   Okay, Misha’s here sleeping now. The biggest fear of my childhood, that is still very much a thing, were definitely all things that had something to do with my sensory anxiety. I feared a lot of different sounds, sequences of sounds etc. even some words or clusters of language sounds, that for one reason or another sounded kind of weird to me and didn’t agree with my brain. It could be even a very normal sound for the rest of the world, no horror soundtracks or anything like that required, but to me it would feel super scary and often in a very personally threatening, aggressive way. Like I said, it’s still a thing, although I was even more sensitive to that as a child. When I heard a sound like that, as a small child, I would often start screaming and shrieking, and sometimes would run away from it, or if it scared me totally shitless it happened to me a few times that I would just flop down on the floor right where I stood because the fear made me feel so weak and like someone turned my legs off simultaneously with that sound appearing. 😀 Later on when I started bottling up my feelings and all that I wouldn’t shriek anymore but hearing something creepy in that way typically made me freeze for a little moment, and still does, which is really annoying as you can’t remove yourself from it or anything. Then after I’d hear something like that, it would get stuck in my brain and be particularly intrusive whenever it would be silent around me or whenever I wouldn’t have much to do, like right before sleep or something like that. Simultaneously, my brain would also make up a sort of personification of that sound, like what they looked like more or less, were they a man or a woman, how scary they would be and in what way exactly etc. etc. etc. The most prominent one in my early childhood was a woman whom, for the purpose of this post, we’ll call «Victoria», who was the personification of all the radio jingles from one particular local radio station that doesn’t exist anymore but all their jingles were super scary to me and were all the worse that that  station had an interesting approach to them, playing them mid-songs and mid-everything, so they could pop up literally anytime. My Dad really liked that radio station, and although it wasn’t very easy to get hold of in our specific area, as it was geared more towards West Pomerania, my Dad put a can over the antenna in his car and this way he could receive it with only minimal disruption. I had a bit of an ambivalent relationship with that radio station, because while its jingles were super scary, as a child I was also very much into radio, which manifested itself, among other things, in that I got always super excited when I could get hold of a station that wasn’t normally or easily reachable in our area, and this was definitely the case with that one. As for «Victoria» though, she was a very tall, super strong and rather androgynous woman, who wore loads of clinking jewellery and was very brash and unpredictable and, unlike her equally prominent successor, was very intelligent and constantly found other, different ways of tormenting Bibiel. It feels like she’s always been there because I don’t remember a specific moment when she came to life or when I’d first heard that radio station, so I guess I must have been very young when my mind created her. She was super loud and aggressive. After that radio station morphed into a different one, I never heard that sound again until much later when we tried to do exposure therapy with my therapist, but she still stayed the dominant figure in the murky corner of my Brainworld for quite a while. Then when I was a pre-teen she was replaced by «Ian», which is also not his actual name but obviously I’m not gonna share that (writing this post is already making me feel way too jittery, thank God for Misha 😀 ), although she hasn’t disappeared completely to this day. And «Ian” is mostly a personification of a word, which unfortunately exists in multiple languages because it’s a short word so in each of those languages that I’m aware of it means something else entirely and it can even be a fragment of many other words. Out of all the languages that I know to some degree currently, only Swedish and Norwegian are completely free of «Ian», and English is full of him so it’s absolutely impossible to avoid him while listening to English or speaking English. I once wrote a story on here inspired by my sleep paralysis  which isn’t exactly what I experience but it’s very close and it features an «Ian» who is very much based on mine. Mine has red eyes, a bulky frame, a very deep voice and despite he’s not particularly clever, definitely not as much as Victoria, he can be even more scary and in a way I think it’s precisely because of that, ‘cause he only thinks on a very primitive level. He can be super quiet when he wants, which can be even more menacing than when he yells, and he has disgusting claws. Also I always feel that while «Victoria» was generally an unpleasant person and probably didn’t like anyone, «Ian» has some very particular kind of dislike for Bibiel, I wonder why he hates me so much more than the rest of humans. 

   And whenever I’d be alone or in a quiet space or something like that, I’d be afraid that, at some point, when I will least expect it, the sound that was only being stuck in my brain at a given point, will suddenly manifest itself in front of me in this personified form and do something real scary to me. I couldn’t say what, but I knew it would be super scary. So not only was that scary sound stuck in my brain and I was feeling scared because of that, but I also felt like things could get a lot more scary any second or minute when my fear will actually become the reality and I’ll hear this thing for real all over again and possibly other stuff will happen simultaneously, like, dunno, they’re going to kill me or something. Or I’d be scared that they’re actually already somewhere very close to me and lurking, especially «Ian», just waiting for the right moment to reveal themselves to me. 

   And, in a way, my fears were well-founded, because I got to see all them creepy peeps in my sleep paralysis dreams countless times, which feel as real as anything real. I have no problem with having regular-people nightmares, like, dunno, running away from someone «normal», falling, people dying and whatever other normal nightmares people have. I wake up from them and feel either relieved that it was just a dream, or even laugh at it because it was so vivid and creative and how come my brain creates such suspense-rich plots, even if they’re not pleasant while lasting. But when it’s sleep paralysis that features my actual creeps so realistically, I get really scared of it and it doesn’t go away as soon as I wake up. Especially that I experience a lot of false awakenings in sleep paralysis and I can think that «Phew, at least it’s over now!» And dream about how I told someone about my creepy dream and started my day as I normally would, and then realise that, oops, it’s not quite finished yet, part two is coming. So even though theoretically you always know it when you’ve woken up for good, you can’t help but feel a bit distrustful of your judgement after so many false awakenings in which you’d also thought that you’d woken up for real. So usually when I wake up it takes me a lot of time to recover both physically and mentally. Anyway, when «Victoria» was the dominant creepy character in my sleep paralysis episodes, they would usually start with me having a bath, and my Mum unceremoniously coming in and saying excitedly that I have to get out quickly because someone wants to see me. We both knew who it was, and Mum knew how much I hated «Victoria», but every time she was either oblivious to my protests, or like she felt for me but couldn’t do anything. Then my Mum disappeared and before I even got a chance to get out of the bath, everything would start to spin, with me often banging my head on the bathtub as a result, and I’d hear the dreaded jingle, and «Victoria» would storm in, and other creep peeps following and assisting her. They would put me on something that I can best describe as some sort of mini couch thing made of metal and padded with leather, and strapped me to it so that I laid on it on my back with  arms stretched out behind my head. This couch had wheels and they wheeled me super fast to wherever «Victoria’s» place and spun it a lot n the meantime and obviously in the meantime I heard a lot of creepy jingles. Once we’d get there, «Victoria» would yell into my ears super loud, tickle me under my armpits in a way that wasn’t funny at all but quite threatening, and showed me various mini dreams in which all sorts of scary things happened to my family or me or stuff like that. At some point though, I’d always be able to end the dream if I was quick enough to spot that moment, by making some sort of manoeuvre and saying some weird nonsensical word that I could never recall while awake except that it started with G, lol, all in the dream, not for real, and then everything vanished slowly. I’m not as fortunate with «Ian» though. With «Ian», aside from some details and stuff, I largely described the experience in the short story linked above, aside from stuff that is difficult to describe or that changes every time. «Ian» also visits me in sleep paralysis a lot more frequently than «Victoria» did. «Victoria» still visits me occasionally without «Ian», but when she does these days she’s a lot more malicious than she used to be before «Ian» and often even more malicious than «Ian». 

   So, yeah, I guess it’s hard to say in a way whether my childhood existed or not. You can say that they did, because obviously the sounds did exist, and my sleep paralysis experiences did exist, but their personifications and my perception of threat from the sounds were just imaginary. 

   How about you? 🙂 

Rachel Newton – “One Hour More”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I’d really like to share with you this beautiful, melancholic piece from Scottish. Harpist and folk singer Rachel Newton. This is her original composition, from her 2016 album Here’s My heart, Come Take it. 

Question of the day.

   What’s the best thing about being an introvert/ambivert/extrovert? 

   My answer: 

   I wrote about introversion/ambiversion/extraversion and the advantages from it that we get in the society in a bit more detail in the past, so you can read that post as well, and the comments under it. 

   I quite like being an introvert and I don’t understand how so many people, even introverts themselves or introvert-leaning ambiverts think about it as a problem, something that is only a burden in life or something abnormal that you have to at least try your best to change. I think if it reaches a burdensome/abnormal level, it isn’t the introversion that is the actual problem, but anxiety/shyness/other people-related issues. It really irks me when people look at introversion as something pathological or inferior in relation to extroversion, and it’s weird since I guess the distribution of introverts vs extroverts seems pretty equal, extroverts  just make a bit more of a screamy impression usually as a whole, even if not all of them are necessarily screamy as separate individuals. So, since I like my introversion, it’s hard to say what is the actual BEST thing about it. 

   But I guess it’s the fact that introverts can be more self-sufficient emotionally is the best thing in strictly practical terms. I guess it must be quite difficult, especially for people who are very strongly extroverted, when they don’t have people around for a longer period and can’t really control it and feel lousy mentally as a result. As an introvert, I don’t need other people to make me happy, to provide me with things to do or meaning to my life. Sure, people can have an enhancing (or diminishing just as well, depends on a situation and specific individuals) impact on those things and make things even more interesting sometimes, but I can manage without that as well, sometimes even better because I’ve already mentioned on here a lot how I often have this thing going on when I’m around people where I can feel all the more lonely and kind of disconnected the more people there are around me, and it’s an extremely tiring feeling, way more difficult for me to tolerate than the normal aloneness. I feel all the more appreciative of that self-sufficiency that Sofi is the opposite, and so I can easily observe how difficult it can be for a pure extrovert when they don’t have that external stimulation from other people or when it’s greatly reduced, as was the case for Sofi during the pandemic, for example. I feel also really grateful for it because I am not very independent in other areas of life, so if I was also very emotionally dependent on other people on top of everything else, life would probably be quite shitty for people around me as I would likely turn into a proper parasitic being. 😀 

   How about you? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What are the best things about it being Monday? 

   My answer: 

   I have to say that I generally quite like Mondays, now that I don’t go to school and don’t have a rigid work schedule. I like regular week days far more than weekends now. And I’ve never liked Sundays, so Monday is a far nicer alternative. Sundays are usually more or less full of peopling, and tend to feel gloomy and kind of boring in a way to me. When I was a kid I always hated Sundays almost just as much as Mondays because I was already stressing out about going to school the next day, or if I was having a school break I would have to go back to the boarding school on Sunday so that we wouldn’t have to drive at insanely early hours on Monday morning for me not to be late for school. Mondays are far less likely to involve any major peopling for me these days. It’s often just Misha and me at home on Mondays which I usually really like. You can start  new fun things on Mondays. The most obvious example of it from my life is that I always start a new lesson in my Welsh learning on Mondays and then work through it over the week. If you’re looking forward to something during the week, it’s nice when this particular week finally starts and Monday brings you closer to the thing that is going to happen. I also particularly like Mondays after any major holidays like Christmas. Holidays are fun, but they can also be quite overwhelming especially when they go on for long, or when there’s weekend straight after the holiday, and it feels so refreshing to me when you can go back to your regular, normal life. 

   How about you? Do you like Mondays at all? Is there anything cool about this specific Monday for you? 🙂 

Llio Rhydderch – “Melangell”.

   Hiya people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you this beautiful and delightfully long piece played by Llio Rhydderch, the Welsh triple harp player whose music I really love and have shared on here many times. This is the title track from her album Melangell. Melangell is a Welsh feminine name said to originate from the Welsh words mêl meaning honey, and angell meaning angel. It’s the name of a Welsh early saint who is considered a patron saint of little creatures and whose feast day is on 27 May, her name can be also latinised as Monacella. I’ve actually once shared a song about her sung by Plu

Question of the day.

   What were you like as a child? 

   My answer: 

   Just to clarify for the beginning in case it could be confusing, I am going to mostly refer to my younger self as Bibiel or little Bibiel. Those who know me may know that I like to talk about myself as Bibiel or Bibielle in third person, and also use that name specifically for the more child-like/childish/quirky/creative part of me. When I was very young I didn’t use that specific word in reference to myself, and I never really think about my younger self as Bibiel because the child-like Bibiel part of my Brainworld and my younger self conjure two a bit different images, but in this post I’m going to refer to my younger self as Bibiel because: a) I like the word Bibiel, b) I guess it’s boring to constantly repeat awkward phrases like «my younger self» or «little me) and c) I went by a different legal name back then, which I don’t share on here, but Bibiel works well enough instead as it seems kind of absurd to think about my 5-or-so-year-old self as Emilia. Now for the actual answer. 

   
   Fairly different to what I’m like now, in a lot of ways. In fact, sometimes when I think back to the child version of me, the one below age 8, or when someone tells me about something from that time that had to do with little Bibiel or reminisces about how I was like then, I feel kind of flabbergasted and almost confused about how it’s even possible that I was different like that and liked so many things that I hate now, like peopling. Other people, family and others, have also told me countless times how I’ve changed since then. I mean, duh, everyone does, right? And I do think that some of those people are a little biased, like my Dad for whom the past is always better than the present, or my maternal grandparents for whom I was their first survived grandchild and they spent a lot of time with me as a little kid, doted on me and idealised me in a way, and then we parted ways a bit both emotionally and physically so they kind of know the little bibiel better than the present me, particularly my grandma, even though we see each other regularly. Of course I do recognise some of my current traits that I have in common with little Bibiel, like some of my weird ways of thinking or the funny way my Brainworld works, some of my interests or even some of my personality traits, but generally, whenever I thought about the little Bibiel more, I feel kind of perplexed, like wtf?! My Mum says I changed so much ‘cause of the boarding school, but I don’t think so. I mean yeah, sure, it must have been a strong trigger, very possibly the main one or one of the main ones, but I really highly doubt it could be the cause. I’ve always associated the whole «change» thing with my first major depressive episode, that I was diagnosed with when I was 10, but I’d been feeling depressed  ever since I was 8. It wasn’t that I was feeling some spectacular change in myself at that time or like it happened overnight as soon as I turned 8 or as soon as I started to feel depressed, but simply when I look back at my childhood that point in time seems to be more or less the dividing line between the «two Bibiels», although my Mum claims I was quite like that old Bibiel still when I was 10 and remembers me like that for the last time from my aunt’s wedding. So perhaps the new Bibiel was born after my Achilles tendons surgery or something. At around similar time when I started feeling depressed, I also started taking growth hormone and so it seems like my appearance changed more or less simultaneously as well. I was really short and quite chubby as a small kid, and then on growth hormone I suddenly went quite skinny, and while I’ve never really been tall especially compared with my immediate family members, I was growing so quickly at first that it kind of seemed like I became really tall in no time and people made lots of comments about how I suddenly changed physically so I guess it was a big deal for them lol. 

   Honestly? As much as I don’t necessarily love myself, I don’t really like that little Bibiel almost at all, so whenever and however it happened, I’m glad she’s gone. I mean, I only like her a bit because I have some sympathy for her or something and obviously in some regards understand her better than anyone else so I know that in a way she was just what her surroundings expected her to be or something like that, and we’ve been through the same things, but if she was someone external, like one of my little cousins or my sister for example, I probably wouldn’t like her at all because I wouldn’t even have that understanding to warm me up to her. That’s probably why all the therapist and coach speak about embracing your inner child irks me so much.

   When I was a teenager or so, my frozen in the past Dad really liked to watch old camera videos that Mum had recorded when Olek and me were kids, and insisted that we all do that together, or at least that whomever he was watching at a given point should be there and see themselves as well and reminisce with him about the good ole days and laugh at the same things over and over and over. There weren’t very many things that I hated about my family life more than that. I mostly hated watching these videos because, unlike for my Dad, I wasn’t really nostalgic for those times at all. Perhaps some little bits yes, but generally watching that shit always made me feel extremely blue and then I couldn’t stop ruminating. Then I had to go through that once again not long ago when Olek decided that he wanted to revive his childhood memories and got all those tapes digitalised and we had to watch ALL of them again. Thankfully, at that point it wasn’t just me who got hit with a blues afterwards, it hit my Mum as well and probably even stronger ‘cause she ended up crying and all. So from then on we decided that we’re not going to do the communal time-travelling sessions  anymore because it affects Mum in a rather destructive way. I wish I could be an easy cryer like that so perhaps it would have already been over much sooner, lol. 

   But the other reason, like I said, was that that little Bibiel was just so bloody annoying. In some ways almost like your typical annoying character from children’s books. People always liked me when I was a kid, I mean adults, kids probably didn’t care ‘cause she didn’t care about kids either and didn’t know how to interact with them. I’ve always perceived her as extremely selfish and not caring much for other people. I guess she only liked people and was nice to them when they gave her attention, otherwise acted like some sort of offended queen and could be downright rude, like I was rude to Olek nearly all the time on those tapes, even though Olek hardly got as much attention from our parents or other adults in our lives even without me trying, ‘cause Bibiel was so fucking adorable and oh so disabled. My Mum has told me that when Olek was very little, I would come over to him and whack him over the head full force with a toy or something. Later on, I was always very happy to snitch on him. Interestingly, despite Olek is no meek character, as a kid, he was always extremely tolerant of me, very protective and even if I was nasty to him or outright ignored him, he always wanted to play with me and waited patiently for whenever queen Bibielle would be in a more favourable/playful mood, which would usually kick in late in the evenings when we were already in beds. Then we’d make up all kinds of crazy games, or just keep laughing our brains off for no apparent reason, because  almost the mere fact that it’s bedtime makes everything instantly more hilarious, that’s one thing that I still do have in common with that Bibiel, I still get fits of giggles at night quite often. 😀 Or we’d play jump-bears (simply jumping on the beds, either standing up, or bouncing up and down on your bum, or on your back when in bed and yelling «Jump-bear!» Every time you jump, just ‘cause bears, and more exactly the Polish word «miś» which means bear, is super cool and you just can’t say it too many times during the day). That would naturally really annoy our parents that, instead of sleeping, we’d be double as noisy as during the day, but instead of dividing the punishment fairly or at least equally, most of the time, Dad would storm upstairs and sometimes Olek would get a spanking. Sometimes, he would tell Bibiel not to «provoke» Olek, but he never seemed to assume that Bibiel was just as active a part in those games, probably because he didn’t want to, because Bibiel is so adorable and cute, how could Bibiel ever do anything wrong like, for real? Believe it or not, but that’s what little Bibiel kind of thought herself. Bibiel knew that adult people go to confession, and I recall little Bibiel having a thought once that she will probably never have to do that, because she never seems to do anything wrong. In Bibiel’s defence, we can say that it certainly wasn’t because Bibiel was actually so self-assured. Bibiel was simply very rarely told that she did something wrong or that her behaviour wasn’t right sometimes. I don’t think Bibiel thought it in a way: «Oh yeah, I’m so amazing that I never sin and I won’t ever have to go to confession, it’s for losers», rather, I remember that thought more like feeling kind of curious, like, how come all the kids around are so badly-behaved and all the adults do bad things all the time but Bibiel is always so good? I guess that means Bibiel is somehow really special or something. 

   Once queen Bibielle’s playful mood would vane, she’d go totally quiet, and if Olek tried to initiate a conversation or something, he would usually have to call «Bibiel!» «Bibiel!» Several times, and then at some point would invariably hear a very indifferent: «I don’t want to talk to you anymore», which he always calmly respected and promptly fell asleep. 

   Aside from being sinless, Bibiel also thought she must be somehow incredibly smart, which was totally thanks to my grandad, who values brains in people more than anything else and thinks very highly of his own, so I wonder what would happen if Bibiel dared not to be smart, whether he’d still spoil her as much as he did and pay much attention to her at all. While Bibiel had no real desire to be cocky or smarter than others or anything like that, I think for a while she genuinely thought she was somehow incredibly smart for a child. The truth was simply that Bibiel absorbed information pretty quickly, and liked language, and obviously children who have a wide vocabulary seem a lot smarter, regardless of whether they actually are smarter than their peers, whatever «smarter» actually even means more broadly. Like I once heard of a condition called Williams syndrome where people have below average IQ but are really outstanding at acquiring language, and outsiders often think they’re of normal intelligence when they’re definitely not, so that’s all obviously very relative. 

   As you may be aware, Bibiel LOVED singing. At least that’s the common narrative. I’m actually really quite curious if that was truly the case, or that my family simply went along with that «Oh yeah, our Bibiel sings so well (read, not too out of key 😀 ) and we’ve heard that so many blind people are good at music, so our Bibiel must be really good too and we should promote that skill) or something along those lines except perhaps more subconsciously. Anyway, even if the latter was the case, Bibiel grew up with a conviction that she does love to sing, and wanted to be a singer when she grows up, or, as she always eloquently phrased it «do a career». And I think I’ve mentioned several times on here how there once was a movie about our blind nursery while I was there and they asked each of us what we would like to be, and 5-year-old Bibiel obviously said singer, plus in reference to every other girl saying that they want to be mummies (and one (girl) who wanted to be a daddy), Bibiel revealingly noticed that «I don’t want to have a baby ‘cause when women want to, they can have it, and when they don’t, they don’t have to». 

   There are loads of videos of Bibiel singing. I would have understood it if Bibiel was seriously some significantly talented child, but really, while Bibiel could sure sing in tune and even produce quite clear very high notes, I’ve heard a lot of children of similar age who are more remarkable in this respect. My Mum regrets it now that, when she focused so much on me, she left Olek out a bit, and that while there are so many recordings of Bibiel singing, Bibiel talking, Bibiel playing, Bibiel this, Bibiel that (why haven’t anyone recorded Bibiel pooping? 😛 ) there are comparably very few recordings of Olek. There’s only one recording where we sing together. Bibiel loved all kinds of public performances, and even if they were a bit stressful, it was pretty much only positive stress. It was our family tradition that, every year, Bibiel would take part in a song competition for disabled children that was taking place at one of our local schools. The odd thing was that the school was for intellectually disabled children, and Bibiel was the only non-intellectually disabled child there and the only one from outside that school. Bibiel would prepare her favourite song or even a few, sometimes these weren’t even whole songs but just a bit of this, a bit of that mixed up together and it was clear to everyone anyway that Bibiel will be the best, and it was always the flipping Bibiel who ended up leaving with a huge basketful of sweets. I mean, if that’s not utter Bibiel propaganda, wtf is it? 😀 One could have thought it must have been 20 years earlier and Bibiel was actually a representative of the USSR  or something like that. Poor children from that school. As if that wasn’t enough of Bibiel, later on Bibiel even made it to a radio show for children in Warsaw, and then some sort of a casting for some sort of advertisement about disabled children or whatever shit, in what is now my least favourite Polish television (not because of anything to do with the casting). My Dad apparently still regrets I didn’t win it. 

   And that singing thing is really what I remember about Bibiel most, and what others – family, strangers and everyone in between – seems to recall most strongly about Bibiel as well. 

   Knowing all that, you’d think that Bibiel must have been a very confident child. Except generally not. Bibiel did love to socialise, very much so. Any kind of gatherings, meeting new people, talking to people, it was definitely Bibiel’s element. Bibiel had a weird sort of way of becoming really clingy with stranger people. Like, a lot of people who would visit our house just a couple times or even once would very quickly and spontaneously earn the title of Auntie or Uncle. But Bibiel mostly only dealt well with one on one contact, when the other person would be wholly engrossed in listening to Bibiel’s constant chatter or at least pretended to be, and bonus points if they were good at pretending that they understood what she was on about (no one could actually understand, because basically Bibiel thought everyone was synaesthetic and fixated on sounds and thought the same way). 😀 Bibiel could also thrive in larger gatherings of humans, but only if they were made up of exclusively or mainly adults, and, again, if their attention was on Bibiel rather than constantly shifting and a bit on Bibiel and a bit off Bibiel. Kind of like our Misha is now. It is really weird to explain and I guess I don’t even get it anymore at this point but in a way, while Bibiel really enjoyed peopling, she was also really shy. She was very easily scared of people, and as much as she liked meeting new people and making friends with them, she was afraid or perhaps didn’t know how to initiate contacts with people, so the initiative always had to come out from the other side. I clearly remember that when Bibiel was in the nursery for the first few days and the children were brushing their teeth, which they started each at slightly different times depending when they finished their meals, everyone would always ask the staff person: «Can I rinse now, miss?!» Repeatedly, and she’d have to tell everyone whether they can or not. But Bibiel was too scared to ask. Or something. So while all the other children brushed and rinsed their teeth and went to beds, Bibiel was still standing by the sink, and brushing or at least pretending to brush her teeth. 😀 It’s really weird, ‘cause I guess normally «smart” people would see that everyone else’s left, so what’s the point of brushing your teeth all night? Apparently Bibiel didn’t pick that up, and like I say for several days, until she finally did. On the other hand it’s weird that the nursery people didn’t notice that though, perhaps they wanted to end their shifts quickly. 

   Bibiel was also oddly unassertive. My Dad’s family, who are generally pretty rough, unemotional people, were really touchy-feely with Bibiel, and they liked Bibiel’s singing no less than Mum’s family, even if they weren’t quite as exuberant about it. Apparently Bibiel liked visiting them, because I remember Bibiel praying every single evening that we would visit (paternal) gran tomorrow, but I also remember that, just like I usually am these days, Bibiel would also usually feel quite bored there, and kind of tense in a way. My late paternal grandpa had a real soft spot for Bibiel, and when we (that is of course Dad, Mum, Olek and Bibiel) would visit them, he would run out all smiley and call out «Our Bibiel is coming! Hello Bibiel!) as if everyone else was just a mass of air surrounding Bibiel. Bibiel liked him, but didn’t always feel comfortable around him, just like with the rest of Dad’s family. It was seriously like they thought that a blind child needs to be touched all the time to have any sort of meaningful contact with people or something. They would often suddenly scoop Bibiel up and carry her into the house, despite Mum’s faint protests that «Bibiel can walk…» or at my paternal aunt’s place my teenage cousins would always bring Bibiel to their rooms. If Bibiel sat at the table next to my parents, someone would often want her to come to them and sit on their lap, which Bibiel, despite her frequent clinginess with people, rarely felt enthused about. My uncles, trying their best to develop some sort of relationship with Bibiel, would often creep behind Bibiel and rub her cheek or ear with their finger, sometimes asking if Bibiel knows who this is. Bibiel didn’t like that either. Only Bibiel’s maternal grandad was officially allowed to play dumbly like that with Bibiel ‘cause he knew that Bibiel actually knows who it is and it was just him and Bibiel being silly. When Dad’s family did stuff like that, Bibiel would just sat stiffly there, sometimes smile and do whatever was polite and expected, other times just sitting and not doing anything, afraid to refuse the touchy-feely attention in any way or directly oppose someone. As I learned years later, my Mum hated that too, and, just like Bibiel, was also too afraid to speak up or do anything. 

   Also Bibiel was totally incompatible with other children, with only a few exceptions like Olek and a couple children from the nursery and some children older than Bibiel. This had gotten better once Bibiel went to primary, and then at some point I noticed that, at least in some respects, I much preferred talking to my peers than adults. 

   At nursery and to a lesser degree later in the beginning of primary, my Mum claims that Bibiel was also something of a school mascot. Bibiel would often represent the school at various outside song competitions, as well as sing on those organised within the school. Bibiel would bring flowers and thank all kinds of VIPs who visited our nursery/the whole blind institute thing or however I should  best call it in English, a photo of Bibiel would be featured in a magazine during then-First Lady’s visit to our school as she held and kissed Bibiel. My Dad apparently still has that pic, who cares that he wasn’t the supporter of that president? 😀 However Bibiel didn’t really notice it as much there because there were also other such kids that were sort of seen as more representative or something so it wasn’t like there was only Bibiel as it was the case at home, therefore it didn’t really bother Bibiel while it was happening. I only talked with Mum about it much later on and realised that it also had some other consequences for my stay there but that’s beyond the topic of Bibiel. From Bibiel’s representative school activity, I remember most vividly how we were often visited by people from Italian embassy or consulate, not sure exactly who they were but usually people just called them «the Italians» even though not all of them were Italians, and as far as I remember they visited us regularly throughout Bibiel’s three-year stay in the nursery. There was an Italian couple who seemed to be in charge of the whole thing, I’m not sure if they were the actual ambassadors or what, but I heard unofficially that they visited us so often and funded all sorts of things for us and stuff because they had a particular liking for one  girl in our nursery who had multiple disabilities and a difficult family situation and so they were like second/foster parents to her or something. But they also had some sort of special likings for many other children, including Bibiel. Bibiel didn’t really like them back though. SO many people and SO much noise were beyond even Bibiel’s capacity for peopling, no matter how genuinely nice they were. In fact, they were really nice to Bibiel, and two times they even organised Bibiel’s birthday in a proper style, with all them people who came giving Bibiel separate presents. Most of them knew that Bibiel doesn’t like to play the way normal kids do, like with dolls or whatever other kids play with, but instead Bibielz (still) like glass balls, as in I guess you guys call them marbles in the Anglosphere, or iron balls like you have in car bearings, or teddy bears, or glass/porcelain figurines, or any random, small objects that have a nice texture and are fun to fidget with. And most of them really cared and got Bibiel really nice things and lots of marbles and the like, except one couple who bought Bibiel a doll who was moving and singing something. Bibiel went from one thing to another with the translator lady showing her everything and the couple asked Bibiel whether Bibiel likes the doll, to which the normally so unassertive Bibiel simply answered «No». I guess Bibiel thought the translator would keep it to herself, but she didn’t, and the couple got understandably upset. They made up for it the next year, buying Bibiel a huge sack of beautiful marbles, such like Bibiel had never seen before. 

   When I returned to the blind school from being in an integration/inclusive school for two years at age 10 and 11, it quickly became very clear to everyone that that Bibiel, who was already waning before I went to the inclusive school, must have been taken by Moomins to the Moomin Valley or wherever else and is  totally gone. I was already very much set on that I won’t be singing publicly anymore or anything like that, but I didn’t even have to say that really because I wasn’t that Bibiel anymore and so no one expected it from me I guess. After that, I had quite a few interactions with different people who told me stuff like, for example: «You know, I remember how Ms. So-and-so said she wanted to have you in her class, because you sang so well and were so cute, awww what a pity that you don’t sing anymore!» That made me feel quite weird. I definitely didn’t want to come back to singing, I totally didn’t feel it, but hearing stuff like this, especially at the beginning, also made me feel like now I wasn’t really likeable at all. On the other hand, it made me feel relieved that, although this process of kind of «shedding» Bibiel was completely involuntary, I was no longer that Bibiel who got attention from everyone all the time, and in a way life became much more peaceful. 

   Aside from Bibiel’s a bit strange problems with peopling, like I’ve already mentioned, Bibiel had a very peculiar way of thinking, and thus also expressing herself. That is one area in which I kind of do regret that I’m not that Bibiel anymore, because looking back at little snippets from memories that I have, I believe little Bibiel’s brainlife was even more varied and lots more vivid than mine is currently. I don’t think I can describe that well so I won’t really try. In any case, one of Bibiel’s peculiarities was that for a long time she thought that other people also have the same synaesthesia as hers. Which, for the non-initiated folks, made understanding her a bit tricky sometimes. For example, Bibiel associated the words crocodile and dragon with two different kinds of metal trouser braces clips that she had in her play box, among other things, and whenever she saw similar brace clips anywhere she’d also call them «crocodiles» or «dragons». Don’t ask me why crocodiles and dragons, I’m curious too, I mean it’s interesting because generally synaesthetic associations like that are very random for me and crocodiles and dragons have quite a few things in common. That’s one reason why I think that my synaesthesia developed based on links between different objects/shapes/textures that Bibiel felt while at the same time hearing specific words spoken by people. Bibiel had such weird mindset that she thought that if someone’s name is associated in her mind with a specific food, they should like that food, or otherwise it’s… well, just wrong, dunno they should change their name or something. 😀 One person who was particularly tolerant of Bibiel’s synaesthetic chatter was my uncle, whose name Bibiel associated with the Chocapic cereal. And Bibiel would always go on and on and on about how «All Marcins must like Chocapic! Because Marcin tastes like Chocapic! It’s impossible that you don’t. Why don’t you like Chocapic? Did you like Chocapic as a child?» Etc. etc. etc. He must’ve thought I was high on Chocapic, but he and my aunt divorced so we haven’t seen each other in years. 

    Even before Bibiel had any idea about spelling, books and stuff like that, she had lots of favourite words, and while she liked some (like miś) for their sound, she liked most for their synaesthetic associations. When some specific word or object was on her mind, she liked to speak as much as possible using words that felt similar to the original word that she was thinking about, or that were associated with the object she was thinking about, because I can have multiple synaesthetic associations with one object. There’s still one Mother’s Day card in our house that Bibiel made  and it has wishes for Mum on it that to most people would probably sound very odd to be written by a child (well it was the nursery teacher who wrote them but the idea was entirely Bibiel’s). It goes something like: «Mummy, I wish you were very happy, very sensitive, very zealous, very benevolent to Daddy and Olek, very patient, very kind, very caring, very bright, and that you wouldn’t be deceitful, fearful, gruff, boastful and argumentative». I of course don’t remember that list of adjectives by heart and what they were exactly, but I know that Bibiel associated all of them with a particular thing – my grandma’s necklace, and they all happen to rhyme in Polish, and it’s quite a large group of adjectives really. – When my Mum saw this she just snorted, and I think Bibiel felt a bit hurt that she was so unappreciative. 😀 

   On the other hand, there were words that Bibiel feared, for all kinds of reasons. There are still such words, for that matter. But one particularly ridiculous example that I remember vividly and that was so bad that even my family remembers it to this day, is how Bibiel was scared of the word traffic. The word traffic in Polish is peculiar because the word that means also means a couple other unrelated things, for example a bath plug. Bibiel feared the word traffic so much because one radio station at the time had a horrific jingle for their traffic news that Bibiel found really scary. And so then when it turned out that bath plugs have something to do with traffic, Bibiel became panically afraid of bath plugs. Bibiel wouldn’t even touch one, which, as you can imagine, made baths a little bit complicated. As far as I remember, Bibiel seriously thought that these are the same «traffics» as the ones on the roads – lines and lines of rubbery «traffics» making the gulping water sounds, plus the jingle sound blended somewhere into that. – Bibiel was scared that if she even moves that damn bath plug, let alone plugs it out or in, that traffic jingle is going to explode over the whole bathroom and… don’t know what. Kill her or something.

   So, if Bibiel wasn’t chattering about her synaesthesia, it was the sensory anxiety, because again, she thought everyone must at least dislike the sounds that she finds scary. In a way I still find it baffling that people just usually don’t care. 

   Bibiel had a huge, metal box, in which she kept all kinds of things. Mostly marbles and iron balls, of course, but also loads of other small objects that could fit in one palm comfortably. From natural things like chestnuts or cones, to some little bits and bobs from my Dad’s garage, to the aforementioned brace clips, old-fashioned clip-on earrings, or the agate necklace of my grandma’s that Bibiel loved so much that at some point she just gave it to Bibiel because she weren’t wearing it anymore and how could she not give it to Bibiel if Bibiel so clearly wanted it? The contents of this box varied throughout the years a fair bit. What did Bibiel do with all that? Well, Bibiel sat in the living room, and fidgeted with every single object from that box – either waving it between her fingers, or tossing up and down in her palm, or whatever felt most intuitive with a specific object. – And, to an outside observer, it was just that. Some crazy Bibiel sitting on the floor and wiggling various random objects in her fingers while mumbling something to herself. Except there was more to it, because all the while playing with these objects, Bibiel was making up some sort of story, using the various toys as inspiration for fun words to include in the story. The stories could be based on anything – whether it be something that happened to Bibiel, a fairytale she recently listened to, something she heard in church, a random idea or imagining that popped into her mind, something that someone said, whatever. – Since she usually had multiple words associations with each object, there were a lot of words to be drawn from them and to be used in such stories, and to provide sometimes unpredictable plot twists. But even when Bibiel didn’t have her box with her, she could still play in some different ways in her mind. She had absolute tons of various weird mental games that were to do with language. She learned the alphabet pretty quickly, even though she had no idea how words are written or anything, and had her favourite letters as well as such that she disliked and based some of those games around that. Others were again based on synaesthesia. I remember that in particular she loved finding words new to herself that felt to touch or tasted like some particular thing. I can recall her sitting in my grandad’s car with him and trying to think of as many words as possible that would taste like any kind of ice cream, enlisting grandad’s help, because obviously she thought he knew what she was talking about. I guess in the end he was trying to think of words similar to those that she had already accumulated in her ice cream words collection and that proved to be a good strategy because I think Bibiel did learn a couple new words  that ticked the criterion after all, in particular I remember Bibiel being in awe with the very ice-creamy name Arabella that she never heard before. 

   And you know what? I still do it. Well, some of my language brain games are very different, and I don’t utilise them quite as often, and I don’t have a huge box like Bibiel did, I only have one little plastic fishy, but now the details work a bit differently. Anyway, I still fidget with this little fish in my fingers while making up stories, but I only do it when I’m alone and I’m sure that no one sees it. It’s really fun, you should try that too. They don’t even have to make much sense, although ideally they should at least seem like they do. My parents never understood what I was actually doing with that, and they don’t know that I still do. I mean, my Mum knows that I take the fish with me everywhere I go for longer than a day, but she thinks it’s just emotional, like that I just like her so much for whatever reason and can’t part with her. Well, in a way, yes, so I don’t tell her otherwise. My Dad had told me that he once asked Bibiel what she was doing while she was playing. Obviously she said «Playing». He asked how she was playing and if he could play too. Bibiel graciously allowed and he sat next to her, presumably waiting for instructions, but Bibiel already started playing again, not bothering about him. After a while, as Dad was sitting there observing her, she turned to him and, according to him, said: «You can’t play, you human you!» I have absolutely no recollection of that, but it cracked me up and since he told me that I always refer to him as «you human you» when he annoys me or something. 

   Okay, I think that’s already far more than enough about Bibiel for one day. Now I want to hear about your childhood selves. What were you like? Do you like yourself from when you were a child? Were you much different at all? 

Gwen Màiri – “Y Dydd Drwy’r Ffenest” (The Day Through the Window”.

   Hiya people! 🙂 

   Today I want to share with you a beautiful piece from Gwen Màiri’s album Mentro (Venture), an amazing album from which I’ve already shared several tracks in the past. In case you don’t know, Gwen Màiri Yorke is a harpist and folk singer of both Scottish and Welsh heritage, who is both a Scottish Gaelic as well as Welsh native speaker. On this album, she is accompanied by Jordan Price Williams on cello, as well as Gwilym Bowen Rhys on several instruments, but in this particular piece we can hear him playing the mandolin. As far as I’m aware, this tune is Gwen’s original composition. 

Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra – “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Continuing yesterday’s lullaby theme, today I’d also like to share with you a lullaby/nursery rhyme. I really like this orchestral arrangement of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, it makes it sound more interesting. It is performed by the Hobart-based Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, the smallest of all the orchestras established by ABC. 

Sally Fletcher – “Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral”.

   Hi people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to introduce you to another interesting harpist, who as far as I’m aware belongs more to what I call «relaxing harpist» camp, rather than folk or classical or something like that. Sally is also an organist, pianist and teacher. Still, the tune played by her that I want to share with you today is definitely a contemporary folk one. It is an Irish-American song that was written by James Roys Shannon and first performed by Chauncey Olcott, and later popularised again by Bing Crosby. 

Question of the day.

   How are you really? 

   My answer: 

   Pretty neutral I’d say. Okay overall. Didn’t get much good sleep as for some odd reason I had really annoying  tinnitus that wouldn’t go away pretty much until morning and it kept waking me up and was really frustrating. This is definitely not something that would be a regular thing for me so I got a bit worried and wondered whether it’s going to stay like this for longer-term, but it’s fully gone now so seems like it must have been just quite random. And I was really cold all night on top of that and couldn’t warm myself even with the hot water bottle, so I’m sure you know what it’s like to sleep when you’re cold meanwhile. But despite little sleep I don’t really feel sleepy or anything so I don’t really have a problem with it. 

   Also I’m still feeling a little bit excited about what my Mum and I did recently. I think I have mentioned to you that my Mum was thinking about possibly buying herself an Apple Watch, because now that she has an iPhone she often gets a bit nervous when she goes running or cycling and when someone calls or texts her, ‘cause she has to take the phone out and she’s worried that one day she’ll drop it and it’ll break, and I guess it must be just a little cumbersome replying to someone while cycling. Plus, she couldn’t find a good enough app for herself on iPhone for tracking kilometres that wouldn’t at the same time ooze with gentle toxicity and try to get her into the rivalling mode, yelling at her to share her «achievements» with friends or to break her records or whatever shit like that, when she just wants to do what she wants and when she wants and simply record the details of her sport activities for herself, she doesn’t do training for the sake of training or losing weight or stuff like that, just ‘cause she likes it. Initially I tried to discourage her from that because I didn’t think that Apple Watch would be much better in that department, it seemed to me, and still does in a way, that perhaps it’s even pushier with that sort of mentality, but Mum said that if it did all the other things well, she can ignore all the bs she doesn’t need like calories. And the more she thought about it the more she liked the idea, saying how Apple Watches look nice and things like that. It took her some time to make up her mind whether it would actually be as useful for her as she thinks, because she’s known for making impulsive decisions on the spur of a moment, and how hers should look, so she would look on Apple Store quite frequently and try to design it for herself so that it would fit her style and be a little different. She changed her mind a lot in the process, sometimes saying she actually doesn’t need it and while it could be fun, it’s not really necessary so why waste the money, and then she would say that actually why not buy something unnecessary for oneself once in a while as she doesn’t do that very often, since she’s on benefits and spends most of her money on Sofi and the only Apple Watch she was considering was the new SE 2 as she couldn’t afford anything more than that anyway. And finally last Saturday she made up her mind and stormed into my room saying that she needs to be delivered from constant thinking about it and make the decision once and for all before her mind changes again. 😀 Problem was that she didn’t have enough money on her card at that very moment so asked me if I could buy her the watch and then she’d give me the money back when she got them. So I gave her my phone so that she could choose the right looking Apple Watch, and as she was choosing everything, suddenly a wild thought popped into my mind, and I was all like: «Y’know what? Let’s make a deal! I’ll buy an Apple Watch for you and you’ll buy an Apple Watch for me, when you get the money». That wasn’t really as impulsive an idea as it may seem, I was already thinking a bit about whether Apple Watch might be useful at all for me in any way when Mum was dealing with her dilemma. Last month, I happened to have learned something about myself, or rather about something being a possibility, which I won’t be sharing just yet on here because I don’t have all the info yet ‘cause I’m still in the process of finding out and so I don’t want to prematurely raise any unnecessary emotions or tension or something, but I promise that if I’ll find out that it’s something more than just a possibility, I’ll update y’all on it. But anyway, finding that out made me think that, actually, perhaps an Apple Watch would be useful for me as well indeed. Maybe not as much as for my Mum, and not in the same way because I’m a semi-hermit so my phone generally doesn’t need to worry about being dropped somewhere outside and even when I go somewhere I very rarely take it with me, but it could still be useful if the possibility turns out to be reality, and even if not, I wanted to give it a try regardless. 

   And my Mum was happy with the deal. In fact, she was probably even happier than me. She’s a real chicken with technology so I think it made her feel better that I’ll have an Apple Watch too so I’ll be able to help her out make sense of it because she assumed that I would learn it faster. I think the thing isn’t about fast learning but about me being more inclined to actually sit and read about it, rather than blindly and chaotically try to do something without knowing anything about how to go about it which is how my Mum handles her devices and then it’s all like: «Hmmm, let’s guess what’s broken in the process”. In this situation, Mum really wanted our Apple Watches to arrive together, which was enough of a motivator that she decided on the spot to go transfer the change that she had to her card and then placed the order for my Apple Watch. Aren’t we just crazy people in this house? We got the same ones except my Mum’s is obviously larger, since I have mini hands, and hers is starlight with a red silicone band, whereas mine is silver with a slate blue braided loop band. 

   Our Apple Watches arrived together indeed on Tuesday. When my Mum went to get them from the delivery guy, she later told me that he said (as if Mum didn’t realise) that one package is addressed to «Some Bib-Bi-Bibiel Bibielz) and couldn’t restrain himself from saying that it sounds like an interesting name. Well thanks, it made my day. Yeah, I am a bit ironical, in case you’re wondering. But also I like when people say the word Bibiel out loud so for once I regret that I wasn’t there to hear it. I use Bibiel Bibielz as my Apple ID name ‘cause you obviously use Apple ID in all kinds of situations and I don’t always want some random peeps to know my full name, and don’t bother changing it just because I order something. Perhaps it’s further evidence of craziness. 😀 

   Anyway, we’re pretty happy with our Apple Watches, except I’m super mad at myself because I told my Mum to get herself an Apple Watch with cellular since it made sense if she’s going to use it when running, but I didn’t even think about checking previously whether our carrier even supports it. It seemed like an obvious thing to me that, since Apple Watches have been around for quite a while, duh they must be supported by carriers, right? Except ours does not support Apple Watch. So yeah, that was a fun discovery to make at the beginning for sure. My Mum claims it doesn’t matter ‘cause she has her phone with herself all the time anyway but I think it still sucks big time. But overall our Apple Watches are cool. I still find it kind of amusing that we both have Apple Watches, I never thought that either of us could be that kind of person lol. My Mum even sleeps with hers, but to me it still feels kind of off and I’m skeptical whether it’s actually comfortable. But I think I’ll try to do that at least once in a while ‘cause I’m curious about the sleep phases stuff. I wish it was possible to use apps like Voice Dream Reader or Audible without headphones on it, then perhaps Apple Watch could become a viable alternative for my PlexTalk at night and then it would be a very solid argument for me to get used to sleeping with it. I still hope that Apple will make my dream come true in the future. 

   How about your real feelings? 🙂 

Aine Minogue – “Dark Island”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you this pensive and relaxing piece by one of my favourite harpists – Aine Minogue – which she recorded together with other instrumentalists that she collaborates with. For those who are new to Aine’s music, she is an Irish Celtic harpist as well as singer and composer who was born in county Tipperary but currently resides in Boston. 

Sophie Zelmani – “Bright Eyes”.

   Hiya guys! 🙂 

   Yesterday we had a song about the fragility of life, and today’s song is also existential-themed, as it talks about death. The original version of this song, as most people will probably know, was recorded by Art Garfunkel In the 70’s, with the lyrics written by Mike Batt. I don’t really have any special feelings for this song as such (not even the fact that Declan Galbraith, one of my faza people, has covered it as well) but Sophie’s version is nice. I’ve introduced Sophie Zelmani to y’all a bit earlier this year, so if you read that post you know how I find her quite special, because even though her music never gives me any thrills or strong emotions or isn’t somehow breathtakingly beautiful, her voice is exceptionally soothing and calming to my brain, and I like her modest gentleness very much, and I like to listen to her when I’m having a migraine. So that’s why I thought she deserves more than just one of her songs being featured on here. 

Gwilym Bowen Rhys – “Y Ddeilen Dobaco” (The Tobacco Leaf).

   Hey people! 🙂 

    I thought I’d really like to share with you something from Gwilym’s latest  album, the second one in the Detholiad o Hen Faledi (Selection of Old Ballads) series, because so far I guess I’ve only shared one song from it on here, and it’s a really good album as I’ve already said so deserves some more attention on here. So I chose for today an interesting song from 19th century, in which the lyrical subject ponders on the transience and fragility of our earthly lives while smoking a pipe. It was written by poet Ebenezer Thomas, known under his bardic name of Eben Fardd (Bard Eben), and set to a traditional tune. The translation below comes from Gwilym’s website

  The tobacco leaf comes from afar,
be it good or ill to those who take it,
in the morning it is full of colour,
but in the afternoon it withers
and this shows us all
that we are not going to last here very long,
that we’re only people in clay pipes,
that’s what I think whilst smoking it

The white clay pipe, the colour of pure fine snow
that shines so bright as I see it.
when this falls, it quickly breaks,
and is cast away without a second thought,
and that’s how we are, though so bright at our dawn,
and all the good intentions we might have -
only a small strike will leave us broken on the floor,
I think all the while whilst smoking it.

The pipe, when used, obtains a bad colour,
the ash and the smoke blackens it.
to get it clean again,
one must put it in the fire to re-purify it.
and so are we with our black, cruel sins,
full of uncleanliness, inside and out,
until we are re-purified through spirit and grace,
I rightly think as I smoke it.

The sparks ascend to the heavens
to seek the element that’s there
and likewise the smoke rises,
we can clearly see it climbing.
and this clearly shows us all the while
that were are all but travellers, the wisest in the world -
let’s not place our desires in material things,
I always think whilst smoking it.

The ash and dottle stay on behind,
in a way that is to be remembered -
from the soil we came, loud is our noise,
to the soil we shall return again.
the earth to the earth, we’ll return on our way,
the ash to the ash, and the body like it was before.
our life disappears like smoke in the wind
I carry on thinking whilst smoking it.


Question of the day.

   What website did you use daily that doesn’t exist anymore? 

   My answer: 

   One example that came to my brain immediately is a very peculiar Polish website whose name literally translates to Great Calendar of Names (great as in large, not in a boasting sense lol). You know I’ve been a name nerd for years, and I’m into almost everything that has to do with names – their etymology,  popularity over time, social connotations associated with a specific name, trends, but even to some degree stuff that is seemingly as loosely associated with names as hagiography (writing about the lives of saints) as obviously saints have had a huge impact on how people in the Christian civilisation have named their offspring. So that calendar had name days for every single day (we do name days in Poland as several other European countries do, this is like a feast day associated with a specific name(s), often based on the commemoration day of the patron saint of that name if there is one, so when you have your name day you can celebrate it kind of like a birthday, although in some parts of the country they’re not quite as important or not celebrated at all, while in others a name day is a lot more celebrated than a birthday) ) but it wasn’t like your regular calendar that just shows you what day it is and two names per each day, it had loads and loads and loads of names for each day, pulled out of all sorts of different calendars, physical and online, from different points in history, as well as all kinds of name lists, name books, liturgical calendars, martyrologies and whatever else is out there, so basically it had data from all these places and books put in one place. And then when you clicked on a specific day, it would also show you what saints are venerated on that day and who they were, and that was very detailed as well, as it wasn’t just the most well-known saints, but also those that are pretty much only venerated somewhere locally or that it’s not even sure whether they actually existed but nonetheless their legendary existence had some impact on somewhere in the world, it also had people who weren’t even beatified but only declared venerable/servants of God, and aside from Catholic ones there were also Eastern Orthodox ones. The descriptions of their lives could sometimes also get quite lengthy if there was a lot that was known and could be written about that person, and if many sources mentioned them. I believe the sources themselves weren’t necessarily always very credible or trustworthy, but they weren’t listed anywhere, and I don’t think credibility or trustworthiness was the priority here, the author of that calendar seemed to just want to compile as complete a list of names as only possible and indeed I haven’t seen a more comprehensive Polish name resource when it comes to quantity either before or since that. The multiplicity of sources and their very diverse quality also contributed to a bit of a chaotic feel that it had, as it had different writing styles in different places and just simply looked like one huge bulky thing that combines a lot of bits and bobs from everywhere. Also separate from the calendar, there were alphabetical lists of names that were included in the calendar which had the origin of every name and if it’s been used in Poland lately at all, and with the more common names exactly how common they are. 

   The website itself apparently looked quite peculiar, because the man who made it was in his late 70’s from what I recall, he also had some other non-onomastic stuff on that website that I wasn’t into and I believe wrote some kind of a blog or articles or stuff like that on there as well, but I guess he wasn’t overly tech savvy because I once came across a discussion online where people were laughing at how dated that website looks but how at the same time it’s still so cool that he did such a thing, as people assumed, totally independently. As far as I and my screen reader were concerned, I saw nothing wrong with the thing, it was perfectly accessible, very easy to navigate and that was all I cared about. 

   I liked to look at that website daily to see all those huge lists of name days for each day and read the lives of the saints venerated on that day, and even though I thought I knew about a lot of very uncommon names and their origins, I still often found ones that were completely new to me. Like, it’s from that website that I learned that there is such a name as Tatul, which totally cracked me up because Tatul is how I call my Dad, and it seemed about just as absurd to be called Tatul as it would  be for an English speaker if they learned that someone’s legal name is Daddy. Except I don’t think Tatul is used as a name in Poland these days, or had been used ever at all, because it’s an Armenian name. It was just mentioned in that calendar because there’s apparently one saint Tatul of Armenia. I’m not sure that info is even correct or reliable because I could never find anything about him   anywhere else other than that website, but from what I can recall, it said that he was some sort of Armenian hermit who lived with two other men in one hermitage, one of them I believe was called Thomas, and the only thing they ate were some kind of leaves, , and they’re still much venerated in their home country and their feast day is 30 September. The author, or whatever other source he got that from, was guessing that perhaps it actually does come from the word dad in some language and claimed it to be a variant of the Latin name Papulus, but years later I read on Behind the Name that « Tatul » is a word in Armenian that means « paw » and I’m way more inclined to trust BTN here, even though « paw » seems like a weird name meaning to me. . Even when I went through the whole calendar in a year, later on I would still often consult it when looking up some names or was in search for a really odd and clunky rarity for a story or something, I really liked that website. 

   Sadly, some years later, the host of this website decided to shut down and thus so did the calendar, and I suppose the author didn’t have either the knowledge or energy or will to move it somewhere else. Now I feel a bit regretful that I haven’t archived it somehow for my personal use, but I guess back then I didn’t even know how I could have done that efficiently, and anyway I don’t really think I’d need it as much these days, it’s just a bit of a bummer that it’s completely gone. 

   Another thing that comes to mind, not so much a website but an app, although it still did have its own website which you could use to access some of the app features and it is no longer a thing either, was Klango, a sort of network community for blind people. The project was Polish but the community as such was very much international. It started out as an app containing several audio games, and then gradually morphed into something that I guess could be compared to what we currently know as social media, plus some more gimmicks. It was self-voiced and had a lot of sounds that informed you where in the app you are or on different things that were happening in it or what you were doing and people could create their own sound themes. You could exchange messages with people, write your own blog, which was really easy to do, as well as read the blogs of other users (people from outside the Klango world could see your blog too but it was unlikely to just pop up in Google so you had to give people the URL if you wanted to have any external visitors and I guess it wasn’t overly appealing graphically, it had all kinds of forums, including voice forums, groups in which you could talk about various topics of interests, you could create and take part in polls, add people to friends, change your status, have an audio avatar, create notes and collaborate on them with people, you could have a board like on Facebook etc. On the other hand, it also had a built-in media player, with a huge catalogue of radio stations, podcasts, a YouTube browser, Google, and if you really wanted you could browse the Internet with it, which had its upsides as the built-in web browser was super simple and accessible, but also stripped websites down to the bare minimum so a lot of features on websites didn’t work or were clunky, and it didn’t even have such basic options like being able to type in text fields, so logging in anywhere wasn’t an option. You could also manage files on your computer with it, listen to audio files, convert them, all kinds of stuff like that. The whole thing was controlled exclusively with keyboard, no mouse, and you could make it so that it wouldn’t show on the screen whatever you were doing, which was a cool privacy option if you wanted to do something discretely or something that your parents might not have been happy with you doing perhaps, 😀 people would just see the Klango Logo or optionally if your sound theme had any visual stuff to it it could show up as well. So it was a really fun place for me when I was just more or less starting to acquaint myself with computers and the online world as it was incredibly simple to use, you could perhaps even say too simplistic in some aspects. I met loads of people there and learned a lot of things and I generally feel quite grateful to Klango for all that. However, not very long after I joined, the authors decided that they’re going to ditch Klango in that they wouldn’t be developing it anymore. So while the community was more or less active for several more years, many Klango features were gradually becoming unusable, from YouTube and Google to blogs to all kinds of other things. I clung to it for a very long time, because I still talked to some people only on there, and I liked to use Klango for some of my online activity as a way of simplifying things. At some point one of the members of the Klango community decided to make a similar app that would actually work, which initially was a bit like a Klango copy but over time developed its very own look and personality, and I eventually joined it as well, but still used Klango or at least had it running somewhere in the background. But by then, I was feeling already since quite a while that, actually, I would like to go somewhere out. Outside of our blind community, where everyone knew me in person, often from school or something like that, and practically often the only thing that we really had in common was that we were blind. Of course it wasn’t like while I was there, I couldn’t be anywhere else, but I was feeling the need to distance myself from that. I know it works for a lot of people but when I was thinking about it I just couldn’t imagine staying like that my whole life and always mingling with people from school or thereabouts. I liked many of them and Called some friends, but none of that felt like any sort of deeper friendship. Initially I felt awful for even thinking about wanting to do this and never thought I actually could, because how do you even explain that without hurting people and not making them take it personally, but I talked about it with my Mum, Sofi and a few of my pen pals and they all said that I should do this. So one day I just simply left both those communities. I still felt awful initially, and whenever people like my Dad or my grandma asked if I still had contact with so-and-so from school or from Klango and knew how they were doing, and I said no, I’m no longer in touch with people from there, they were like « :O :O :O But why’d you do that!?» and seemed to think it was really weird or even really bad. Or I’d tell them something about someone online and they’d be like: «Are they blind?» That usually wouldn’t be the case but they seem to think that if you’re blind, you should mingle with blind people a lot or something. When my friend Jacek from Helsinki came to my 18th birthday party, my godmother, whom I told a lot about Jacek beforehand, was extremely surprised when she learned that he wasn’t blind and couldn’t get over it for the whole party and kept asking me why I didn’t tell her that. It hadn’t even crossed my mind to have to specify that, lol, and Jacek found it very amusing and regretted that he didn’t know in advance that she thought he was blind so that he could have pranked her. Perhaps my family make such assumptions precisely because I did mingle almost only with blind people as a kid. I do get it that it can be very useful because otherwise you may not know about things that could be important/relevant to you as a blind person, for example you could learn  by word of mouth that there is some funding that you could apply for currently, or you can help each other with things relating to blindness, but I am aware of that possibility and I try to stay on top of things myself, plus obviously it’s not like I’ve completely cut myself off from the blind world as a whole, I am still on various mailing lists for the blind, read blindness-related websites or those about assistive technologies etc. etc. and I don’t really feel like I’m losing much at all. I no longer feel guilty either, as I think everyone feels the need to move on from something sometimes, even if this something had been a large part of their life before. I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t ditch Klango and all that, I wouldn’t have my current Mishmashy English blog, probably wouldn’t have a Mac now because this new app that people use instead of Klango now is only on Windows, and wouldn’t have done a lot of other things, because most of my time online would be likely spent there as always. Still, I do feel a little nostalgic thinking of Klango, as, while it was lasting, it was a really good thing, taught me extremely much and showed me a lot. 

   What were such websites for you? 🙂 

Diana Rowan – “The Celtic Sonata: “The Star of Munster/Cremonea/Glenlivet”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I thought I’d share with you this lovely harp piece called The Celtic Sonata, as it consists of three movements, each of them being a traditional Celtic tune. The first one is a reel called The Star of Munster. The second – Cremonea, also known as Cremonia, which is the anglicised spelling of its Irish title Croí Muimhneach (Munster Heart) – is a tune composed by the blind Irish harper Turlough O’Carolan. The third one is called Glenlivet, and I’ve already shared a different version of it in the past, played by Kim Robertson

   Diana Rowan is a Celtic harpist and pianist from Dublin, but currently lives in the US, although she also travels a lot as she does a lot of concerts and gives lectures. 

Celtic Woman – “Wild Mountain Thyme”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I thought I’d share with you a song by the amazing supergroup Celtic Woman, which is an all-female folk band created and led by David Downes. I really like their music, and listened to them particularly much as a teenager when I was still rather new to the world of Celtic and folk music in general. This song comes from their latest album from last year called Postcards From Ireland, and the soloist here is Chloe Agnew, who is I believe one of the more recognisable and liked members of this group of all time, as she has been with Celtic Woman on and off since her teenage years. You can learn more about the song reading my earlier post where I shared a version of it sung by Órla Fallon, who, as it happens, was also part of Celtic Woman in the past. 

Cashmere Factory – “Love Bazaar”.

   Hiya people! 🙂 

   Today I thought I’d share another song from Norway with you all. This time, it’s from an alternative indie group called Cashmere Factory. I don’t really know much about them and haven’t acquainted myself with more of their music so far, but heard that song for the first time last year and I’ve been liking it  a fair bit ever since. 

Question of the day.

   If you were around before cell phones, what did you do while sitting on the toilet? 

   My answer: 

   Cell phones have become a part of my family’s life in about mid 2000’s I believe, that’s when my parents got themselves their first cell phones although I guess my Dad must have had some kind of work cell phone before that because I don’t recall him ever not having one. For me though, I only got my first phone in 2009, so practically I definitely was around before cell phones. What did I do on the toilet? Nothing I guess, except for the obvious stuff that you do there, which ensured that I did my business quickly without blocking the toilet for longer than necessary and getting engrossed in something interesting like my family routinely do these days. I would usually just occupy myself with my own thoughts, daydreams or some other kind of imaginings. Now that I think of it, I recall that when I was very little, I liked to imagine that I was giving birth to a baby whenever I was pooping. 😀 I often liked to compare some situations in my life or stuff that I was doing to something that I thought must be kind of similar but more interesting. So even though, unlike a lot of other girls at my nursery/preschool, I wasn’t particularly into babies, I still found giving birth more interesting and more spectacular than pooping. Other times, when my sensory anxiety got really bad, I’d just focus on trying not to get all consumed by it. A toilet is one of the places where it can be particularly problematic because it’s quiet and not particularly brain stimulating. Sometimes as a way of distracting myself I’d sing or talk to myself while on the loo, which worked barely but was always something. 

   My Mum often reads on the toilet, even now when she has a cell phone, we still have like a whole container in there that’s full of books and magazines that my family considers good toilet reads, which, unlike what you might perhaps think, isn’t always synonymous with light reads. It’s usually my Mum who reads them, though others sometimes do too, and if my Mum considers something a useful and important read for everyone, she’ll throw it in there. But personally I’ve never read a physical book on the toilet, I guess it’s less practical with Braille books. 😀 At some point, largely due to my loo fears, my Dad installed a radio in the bathroom, which would turn on and off with the light switch, and stranger people would often get scared by it when visiting us. So since then we could listen to the radio while in the toilet, or while having a bath. Later on, when my music taste has quirked and my grip on what’s trendy and popular with most people has started to loosen visibly, one of my school friends teased me that the only time I have contact with « normal » music is when I sit on the loo. FYI that’s totally not true, but oh well. 😀 

   Then when I got my first book player for the blind (a Polish one called Czytak NPN), I would sometimes take it to the toilet with me, either when I knew I’d be staying there for a longer while, or when I was particularly creepified, or just read a cool book that I didn’t want to unglue myself from. I still do the same with my PlexTalk, the book player that I use currently. 

   But honestly, even now it isn’t really some very strong habit of mine to go to the toilet with the phone. Sometimes when I’m alone at home I’ll sit on the loo with headphones on while listening to some YouTube video or podcast playing from the phone, but that’s not very often. Probably part of why I don’t do it as much as people seem to do is because for me it’s most comfortable to use my phone with an external keyboard/Braille display, and while I can do without one, it’s not quite as fun and things take me a lot longer to do, not to mention that typing on the screen is a nightmare for me and I totally don’t get how many other blind folks don’t have a problem with it, and no, Braille Screen Input (basically iPhone screen simulating a Braille keyboard) doesn’t do it for me, so if I don’t have to, I don’t do it. I am more likely to take my phone with me when having a bath, which is not too often as these days we do showers more often. Then I like to play music from it, because while we still have a radio in the bathroom, I think it’s nicer to listen to something that actually has some significance to you while having such a fun thing as a bath. Sometimes, when I’m particularly creeped out, or just want to have a really chill, long bath, I even take my Bluetooth speaker with me and hang it on the bathroom door and play the music through it as that’s obviously a lot nicer than through phone speaker, but that would be super unpractical for just going to the loo. 

   How about your toilet activities pre cell phones?