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? 🙂 

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? 🙂 

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? 

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? 🙂 

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? 🙂 

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? 

Question of the day.

   You wake up and realise you’ve just dreamt your entire life and you’re actually only thirteen. What do you do? 

   My answer: 

   Oh flip no, please! That would be awful! I feel relatively really good at this point in my life overall whenn you look at my life as a whole, and I certainly couldn’t say that about the time when I was thirteen. I’m not sure really what I would do though. Perhaps I’d think it’s some sort of false awakening and I’m going to wake up properly soon and realise that me waking up back at thirteen was actually a dream, because I’d be unable to face the reality. I’d keep on living all over again from age thirteen but constantly hoping to wake up properly. 😀 Otherwise, perhaps I’d be so sad and frustrated about it that I’d start crying. For whatever weird reason, I often wake up realising that I’d just been crying in my sleep, or feel like crying because of somethhing that happened in my dream that I often can’t even recall properly but just feel the emotion, so for once I’d have ann actual reason to cry, haha. Or maybe I’d frantically try to remember as much out of it as I only could, so I’d probably at least attempt to write it down, as much as I’d still recall, to be able to look back on it, or perhaps even replicate those bits of it in my life that depended only on my actions, but I guess it would be really difficult to remember such a long, huge dream. Or perhaps I’d just roll over and try my best to fall asleep again and have an episode two of the dream. What’s for sure is that I would probably miss misha most. Lol that would be taking the word hiraeth to the next level – missing a cat who has never existed. – 😀 

   How about you? 🙂 

TToT (Misha, Traditional Latin Mass, pillows, etc.)

   I thought that today is a good day for writing a gratitude list. I always try to include things that I’m thankful for at least once a week  when writing in my personal diary, but I think I haven’t written a grateful blog post in quite a while and I feel like it today. I’m linking up with Ten Things of Thankful. 

  1.    The fact that I’m feeling well physically. My family – that is Sofi, Dad and Olek – have been mildly sick with something and while it isn’t serious, no fever or anything, it seems to be dragging on for quite a while, especially for Sofi. So far, I’ve been spared. Jack the Ripper is visiting me this week and I had two migraines, but overall I’m feeling well. 
  2.    Misha spending a lot of time with me, particularly at nights. Misha has recently taken a particular liking for my armchair and sleeps at night either there, or on my bed as usual. I always love it when Misha sleeps with me, his mere presence instantly creates such a pleasant, peaceful, Mishful atmosphere. But this week I’ve been particularly appreciative of it as I’ve had some yucky dreams and night time anxiety, and waking up in such Mishful atmosphere makes things so much easier. 
  3.    That I’ll probably soon be able to get a new cable for my scanner. I haven’t been scanning anything for a long time, because it’s such a huge hassle and difficult to do well on my own. But now that I’m attending Traditional Latin Mass, I sorely feel the lack of quality Catholic books in accessible formats, especially older ones, and feel almmost envious of my Mum who keeps buying herself all kinds of such books. They are very useful for prayer, reflection or even simple reading as a form of deepening your faith, and I always have to go looking for things like that on the Internet, which in the end means that what I find won’t necessarily be traditionalist at all. I have always struggled with focusing during prayer, and not having materials to help me out and help my mind go in the right direction makes it even more difficult sometimes. Even the missal that I have in epub is a lot shorter than the one my Mum has as a physical book, and I’m limited here anyway because I can’t just take my Braille-Sense with the missal with me to church like all the other people take their books because that would be super unpractical, I have to read it before the Mass at home. So my Mum has wanted to help me out and scan at least some of her huge collection of these “saintly books” as she collectively calls them for short, but then we couldn’t find the power cable for the scanner absolutely anywhere, and it appears to be such a niche cable that it can’t be replaced with just any average cable. So Mum phoned the company that distributes those scanners and asked if there’s any way of getting another cable or something, and they said that next time they’ll be ordering from the company that produces those scanners which is in the UK, they’ll order a cable for Bibielz as well. So Bibielz can’t wait for it and for all them saintly books. 
  4.    Speaking of TLM, I still feel so incredibly grateful to God every time I think about it, that we’ve been able to become part of the Catholic Tradition and attend this beautiful Mass and generally change our lives thanks to this. It will soon be a year since we “converted” as my Mum puts it and Mum and Sofi and me often reflect on how much things have changed for us since then, not even only spiritually but generally in how we think, and laugh at the difference sometimes. 

   My pillows. Yeah I always love my pillows, but today is a good day for being grateful for them because I have new pillowcases. Not for the regular, big pillows, but two smaller ones, one of which I put on top of my big pillow when I sleep and keep my PlexTalk  under it, and the other is for all kinds of unexpected needs and situations and for Misha when he wants to sleep in the bed rather than on it as he usually does. And then I also have three larger, additional pillows just in case, haha, but that’s not relevant here. Anyway, the pillowcases I had on the two, smaller pillows got badly torn as I had them for ages, and before I got some new pillowcases for these  pillows, for some time I slept without an additional pillow and that sucked because I’m totally not used to it – my Dad only sleeps on one, flat pillow and now I’m not surprised he has sleep apnea, I think it wouldn’t take long for me to develop it sleeping like that all the time – so then I got a different pillow, which was bulkier than the one I usually put on top of my regular pillow, so then in turn it felt way too high, and it muffled my PlexTalk quite effectively. So I was really happy and relieved when I finally got brand new pillowcases  and could sleep with my actual pillow. The right or wrong pillow can really make a huge change. 😀 

  1.    That I can be helpful for my Mum with her iPhone. I really like it when I can be helpful for people, and while my Mum likes her iPhone and says that it is indeed a lot more comfortable than any of her previous Android phones, she also needs a bit of help or a tip on how to do something with it quite regularly. Even if I don’t know how to do something, it looks like it’s easier to research it for me than for Mum. Perhaps because I always automatically do it in English and there’s more info on most topics in English online. Funnily enough, since last week, she’s been saying that perhaps she’d like to buy herself an Apple Watch, because it would make it easier for her to take calls when out and about and she hopes it would be better for measuring how many kilometres she runs and bikes. I think it’s funny at what pace we’re becoming the Apple family. 😀 I am very seriously planning to sway Dad to the Apple camp by the end of next year as well, just cus why not? Olek will be all alone with a Samsung. 😀 I know it’s beyond my abilities to convince Olek as his choice is fully conscious and informed, and because of that I wouldn’t even want to change it as it wouldn’t make too much sense. I already told Dad how Apple has CarPlay and that seems to have appealed to him as a lorry driver. 
  2.    doing relatively well mentally. July and August were awful for me with loads of what I call sensory anxiety for the purpose of this blog, which was going up and downn a lot and which was mostly caused by an unusual amount of sleep paralysis episodes that I had at that time and that they also were quite unusually intense and long, so that things felt quite out of control and I had a hard time functioning normally. Lately things have calmed down significantly and for long enough that I think I can say this month has been better, even despite horrid dreams and anxiety at night afterwards that I had earlier this week. 
  3.    Lots of yummy fruit. We still have raspberries in our garden! They haven’t been very sweet this year, but are still good, and it’s always nice to have home-grown raspberries rather than have to buy them from someone/somewhere else. We also have loads of pears, more than we can eat, in fact, so Mum is making some sort of mousse from themm or something. We also have a lot of apples (as befits the Apple family lol). And even blueberries, though these aren’t home-grown, Mum just bought a lot of them a while back to freeze. So we eat a lot of fruits and it’s really nice that we can do it. 
  4.    Chilly weather, which is chilly and cosy enough for me to be able to wear my fluffy overalls in the evenings again. For me that always means that autumn has properly started. 😀 
  5.    My language progress. It hasn’t felt like anything huge, but I’m always grateful even for a very little bit that my brain absorbs. Also what I feel particularly happy about, and what is particularly tangible for me, is that because of my Norwegian learning, I can feel my Swedish strengthening significantly as well. I was kind of worried it would be the oppposite and that I’d end up having a jumble of the two and would regret my silly out-of-the-blue affair with Norwegian. I’m so glad that it’s not the case, as well as that, for that matter, my relationship with Norwegian has definitely become a steady one by now, as we’ve been together for over a year now. 

   How about you, lovely people? What are you grateful for this week? How has it been for you overall? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What genuinely disgusts you? 

   My answer: 

   Well, while generally I’d say I’m not a super easily disgusted person, when things do disgust me, they disgust me quite strongly, and the main such thing, since I’m emetophobic, is vomit, so for me the answer is very easy really. That means the sound of someone vomiting, very graphic descriptions of vomit or vomiting, the feel of vomit (luckily I don’t have to deal with human vomit directly like that but Misha’s vomit is something I do come in contact with once in a while and it really grosses me out), as well as sounds very similar or kind of related to vomiting like choking or belching, and textures that remind me of vomit like semolina or most mashy foods really or a lot of drinks that have bits of something like fruit floating in them. Also to a much lesser degree now but also words for vomit in all the languages I know and any sort of synonyms or related words like puke. I no longer find them as disgusting as I. used to, but they still do seem weirdly graphic to me and when I have a particularly difficult time with the emetophobia they can feel quite triggery. I particularly hate the Swedish word for it and the English word throw up feels way too descriptive for my liking so I don’t even get why apparently people consider it better than vomit. 

   How about you? 

Question of the day.

   Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, what’s a nightmare situation for your respective personality type? 

   My answer: 

   Well for those who may be very new here I am an introvert, and based on my personal experience, the winner of The Introvert’s Nightmare Situation Contest would be First Communions! Except I don’t mean the actual First Holy Communion celebration at church when the child receives the Sacrament of Eucharist for the first time, as a Catholic, I think it is amazing, as long as the child has actually been prepared well and knows what it’s all about and so does their family, because these days this is so often not the case, as people focus on everything else except what’s actually important – whose child will be best dressed, or if all are to be dressed the same than what they should be wearing, how to take the hugest amounts of photos possible during the ceremony, which child should recite a poem, which Mum should thank the priest, which child should thank the mums, whom to invite, what presents should family members get a child, and the poor children are stressed out about loads of little details and excited about what presents they’ll get etc. etc. etc. – which is why I think children should receive Holy Communion individually rather than in large groups like based on grade or age, that Communion age should be younger for most children and the whole Communion party thing should take place the day before or after or whatever makes sense in a given situation but not on the day of the actual Communion. – But that’s a whole different pair of rain boots, as we say in Polish. 

   Communion parties are usually quite nightmarish though. They usually take place in some sort of a restaurant, because who wants to do that sort of thing at home and prepare all the food or even if they get catering who wants to play waiter and dishwasher all day. My Mum did that with Sofi and ended up with a badly strained leg. Such events are usually a lot more introvert-unfriendly when they take place in a restaurant vs at home, because usually the place isn’t very familiar to you or not at all, so you can’t just sneak out somewhere less peopled as you likely would in a family member’s or friend’s house, you can’t help out in the kitchen or something like that, or even lock yourself in a loo for very long. Taking a French leave may also be more tricky. There are no pets that you could talk to and focus on instead, like when I’m at people’s houses I usually play with their cats or dogs or something but at a restaurant there’s just nothing to do. You can probably go outside for a little while, but soon there’s going to be another course or dessert or something, and you just don’t have such freedom as you could during a similar celebration in a private house, where there may be some sort of a backyard, garden, lawn or whatever where you could de-people a bit. But generally you’re supposed to sit at the table and talk and either keep loading food into yourself or wait for the next delivery. The whole thing usually also takes a lot longer in a restaurant than it does at a house, but even at a house, for some odd reason it tends to take way longer than a birthday or stuff like that. There are usually  more people around you, as it may be some sort of collective party for more than one child, or there may be other guests at the place so even if you don’t interact with them, it may also contribute to the whole situation feeling overwhelming. Oh yeah and food. Well I don’t know if this is actually an introvert thing, probably not, but for me eating out is generally a problem for quite a few different reasons. Most importantly in this particular situation though, that I just don’t like to eat in social situations, and that I can’t get quite as much food into myself in one go as most other people seem to be able, so having a two-course lunch plus several different desserts plus snacks plus a huge dinner… I mean how do people even do this?! 😀 

   So yeah, if you’ve never been to a Communion, trust me, they’re pretty bad on brain batteries. I suppose wedding receptions must be even worse, but I haven’t been to one in a very long time so thankfully don’t have the experience really. Olek (who is also an introvert, though more functional than me and he claims that he just “doesn’t like people”, which I’d say is something different because while I’m very much an introvert I certainly wouldn’t say that I dislike people) has been to a wedding reception last weekend though , and, judging from how he slept pretty much til late afternoon after it, it must have been extremely rough. 🙃

   I just asked my Mum this question and thought I’d share her answer too. My Mum is kind of a curious case because I’d say she’s very much an extrovert, whereas she says she feels more like an ambivert and usually a more introvert-leaning one. So I guess she knows better what she is. ANyways, I asked her this and she said that for her as an ambivert, such a nightmare situation would be to be in a group of stranger people that she’s never met before, like the parents-teacher meeting that she’s going to go to tomorrow at Sofi’s school, and having to speak to them all, like introduce an idea that she has and thinks is good, and then if everyone was against her idea and she had to defend it publicly. Or, alternatively, if she had the idea but ended up not sharing it at all for fear of speaking publicly and her idea being criticised, and would then really regret it because, after all, she knows that it was a good idea. I think it’s interesting how there seems to be that sort of dichotomy or inner conflict when you’ve an ambivert. Because if I were in the same situation as an introvert, there would be no dilemma. I am just not going to share the idea, no matter how good it is, and I’m not even going to regret it, because I never share my ideas with stranger people, so I’ll just entertain myself watching them and chuckle internally at how weird they are that they haven’t come up with the same idea as me yet. Whereas here you have this weird push and pull in both directions, although of course it’s not all just a matter of ambiversion but also my Mum’s sensitivity to criticism. 

   How about your nightmare situation? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What makes a restaurant/store unappealing? 

   My answer: 

   For me, it’s how it sounds. It can create a nice atmosphere when there’s some music playing in a place like a restaurant or a store, but in a restaurant, it’s a really bad thing when it’s so loud that you can’t comfortably communicate with your tablemates and when it just goes over everything. Especially if it’s some music that you don’t like and obviously people have all sorts of tastes so you’ll never be able to play something that absolutely everyone will love. I think that music in places like restaurants is just to add something kind of cosy to the ambience, so you don’t necessarily have to even hear every single note, as you likely won’t focus on it much anyway since you’re going to talk with people you’re with and focus on them and the food. 

   With stores I’d say it’s a bit different because they’re often loud anyway, at least if they’re on the larger side. But sometimes the music in such larger stores can feel kind of intrusive, just in a different way than in restaurants, and I know that I’m not alone in feeling this way. That’s one reason why my Mum hates going clothes shopping with Sofi, because Sofi always wants to shop in the popular chain stores, and many of them have a particularly intrusive audio-vibe. My Mum says that even the lighting in them feels aggressive as well. 

   So basically, with all that being said, I think the most unappealing places would be the ones that are least sensory-friendly. 

   What do you people think? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   If you named a disease, what would it be? 

   My answer: 

   Why not nitch? As I wrote in that post, it really sounds like some gross, highly contagious, medieval plague that affects your skin first. It is spread by annoying insects which are a lot like mosquitoes except smaller, make more annoying sounds, fly faster and are more dangerous. They should probably be called nitches like the condition. They pop up when it’s really hot and humid for long periods in places where it is not normally hot and humid, and when they bite people, they then go deep inside their skin and live there happily with their babies, and meanwhile the poor peep gets the nitch condition which had been transferred to them via the bite, and they get extremely itchy skin that you just can’t live with normally and you keep scratching and scratching all over, can’t sleep, can’t work, can’t focus on anything ‘cause it itches so much, and that is further worsened because of the baby nitches crawling under your skin. Eventually you either end up scratching your skin so much that it’s one huge bleeding, infected, gory mess so you basically lose a lot of blood and have a very serious infection that would probably be fatal, or you die from lack of sleep caused by constant itching, or the nitches do some damage to your insides and/or rob you of all the nutrients that you might have been able to take in with food in between scratching sessions, or you go crazy from it and dead yourself, it just depends what happens first for whom. Gosh, this is actually creepier than originally intended! 😀 I wonder what the treatment would be for such a niche condition. 

   What’s your creation? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What do you wish you were really good at? 

   My answer: 

   I kind of wish I were better at all things technology. I’m not particularly into it, only to the extent that it actually helps me, which is quite a large extent given that I’m blind, and as I always say an average blind person who wants to function well and do a lot of daily life things on their own has to have somewhat more of an idea about technology and how to effectively use it than their average sighted counterpart. I’ve heard from quite a few sighted people who don’t have much of an idea about it, including my Mum, how tech savvy I apparently am, in fact my Mum’s been saying it a lot lately probably because I’ve helped her set up and learn her new iPhone and she even said that she admires me for having transitioned to Mac completely on my own and learned it so quickly. To be honest, I’m still kind of surprised by it too, even though like I said I’m no power user or anything. 😀 But generally, despite my lack of deeper interest in technology, I sometimes think it would be really useful and helpful if I were able to do more advanced things with it, as it would consequently help me with other areas of life. For example, well now I obviously don’t use SAPI (the Microsoft speech API) since I’m on Mac, but I did back on Windows and SAPI5 had broken for me several times, and if I were more competent in this field, I could have been able to fix it by myself, rather than ask all sorts of people and have to explain to everyone what SAPI is, and that would be really neat. Or I could make a lot of things potentially easier for myself. Or help other people more. Or be some sort of accessibility advocate, as online accessibility is something I obviously care a lot about since it concerns me very directly but it’s difficult to tell other people like app developers about it when they do something wrong accessibility-wise because I don’t know what to suggest them to make it right, or sometimes even how to describe the accessibility issue so that it would make sense to a non-screen-reader user. Or, going back to speech synthesis, I’ve always wanted to have a speech synth off my Mum or Sofi, and now there are quite a few possibilities to create your home-made, decent-sounding speech synthesiser, without having to go bancrupt and having a professional company do it, but to someone like me, it sounds extremely difficult and cumbersome, and not really doable at all. But, like I said, I don’t really have a strong enough interest in technology and related stuff, and I guess you have to have a particular type of brain and way of thinking for that, kind of like for math, so I’m not really determined enough to actually try and become more tech-savvy. 

   What’s such a skill for you? 🙂 

Question. of the day.

   You wake up as a forty-year-old person and you have a husband/wife and three kids, what do you say? 

   My answer: 

   I have no clue what I’d say, it feels extremely surreal and kind of creepy, not to mention overwhelming for someone like me, but I’d probably think that either I must be dreaming, or I must have had amnesia and forgot the last 20-ish years of my life, if I even lived them consciously at all. 😀 

   How about you? How would you feel about such a change? Or maybe it wouldn’t be much of a change for you at all? 🙂 

Question of the day (8th September).

   What are small problems you have daily? 

   My answer: 

   The first thing that comes to my mind is definitely peopling. I have all kinds of problems around peopling, big and small. But, to mention a small one, I always have a problem deciding if saying or doing something when interacting with someone is okay. I always overthink it massively and end up making the conclusion that either way it can potentially be seen as rude or something like that. Like today, I was thinking a lot about an interaction I’ve been having with someone, and had a bucket load of dilemmas. Should I ask them this question, or will they think it’s daft or intrusive? But if I don’t ask anything, it’ll seem like I’m generally uninterested and don’t care. How should I respond to this? Will this message even sound coherent to someone else than me? etc. etc. etc. All kinds of things. That’s why I say that online communication doesn’t always necessarily make it easier for me to talk to people. Especially if I write to someone new, I proofread a flipping three-line message ten times, and then sit in front of it for five minutes scared of sending it. Other times, I tell myself I think about it too much and no one does it and I should do whatever my gut feeling tells me, and only ruminate afterwards, and often regret something as well, because as much as I generally find my intuition to be very helpful, it isn’t necessarily so helpful when it comes to interactions with people, so if I go with my gut feeling I often end up either revealing myself more than I’d like or seeming very stiff. It’s not always what people will think of me type of dilemmas but also what’s appropriate more practically, like what people generally do in such and such situation, or finding a sort of balance when interacting with people so that you don’t do something too much or too little. So what I often do is I ask my Mum for advice and ask her all kinds of dumb questions. She isn’t always able to help, because she hasn’t always been in the same situations or because she just doesn’t get my perspective, but very often she can help at least a bit. When my  friend Jacek from Helsinki was still a part of this world and when we got a bit closer to each other, I would often also ask him, because he was an extreme extrovert and always knew what to do when peopling and was very successful at it, but at the same time he could understand my difficulties fairly well despite that, I would even ask him about in person peopling and whether something I did looked alright or not so much, or whether something wouldn’t draw too much attention etc. and he’d generally have more distance than my Mum so his input could be very valuable. I often also learn about such things from books and observing people. But while it is all helpful, I still deal with a lot of problems around peopling every single day. Many of them I’m so used to that I don’t even consciously think about them very often as problems, but I probably would if I, say, had a job that would involve me interacting with people a lot, and would require what they call soft skills these days. 

   How about you? 🙂 

Question of the day (7th September).

   What’s your biggest high school regret? 

   My answer: 

   That would definitely have to be that I went along with my Mum’s idea that I should pass my finals in a school for the blind. I went to a mainstream high school, so called high school for adults which meant we had classes only some days a week and in the evenings, and it was generally a lot less demanding than a regular high school, you didn’t pick your main subjects or anything like that. I didn’t have to go there and could pick just a regular high school, because I was just nineteen at the time and I was going there straight from secondary/junior high school/whatever other equivalent  you have in your country before high school, and it was very unambitious of me, but I went this route thinking it would be a lot less difficult for me practically and less stressful in general, with all the peopling and other stuff that I didn’t really feel I needed. In the end it went even better because some teachers were so scared of me that they embraced my suggestion that I would just homeschool myself at home and they would send me control assignment topics and exam dates and I would send them control assignments and only come to school for exams every half-term. That worked really well for me also because a lot of what my classmates did was based either on slides or textbooks, and I obviously couldn’t see the former and didn’t have the latter in an accessible format, so it felt like a huge waste of time. This way I was also able to have more hours with my math tutor, who was a special ed teacher for the blind and deaf, since as you all probably know by now I sucked at math and my school teacher had no clue how to teach the subject to a blind student, especially one like me hehe, despite her best intentions. Despite loads of hours of tutoring that I had, lots of homework that I got from my tutor and my desperate and mostly fruitless hours of trying to learn it myself somehow, I was pretty sure that I was going to fail my math finals pretty miserably and my Mum was worried about it too. So she thought that perhaps it would be easier for me if I could do them at a blind school. Not the one that I used to go to, but one a bit closer to us. I knew that when you have to have an official school exam and have some special educational needs, then it has to be adapted for your needs, but we were slightly worried if it’s going to be the case because when at some point the deputy head asked me if I’m going to take the finals and I just casually mentioned that I’ll need to have them adapted, in Braille and all that, she was absolutely flabbergasted. Plus, I thought I’d generally feel safer with the math exam specifically when I had competent people in the committee, even though they obviously wouldn’t be able to help me with the exam itself or anything like that.

   We were even more enthusiastic about it when it turned out that, in that school, unlike my previous blind school, each student writes their exams in a separate room. It can feel awkward, especially if you’re like me and always finish exams super fast, whether you’ve done it really well or really badly, because if I know everything, why would I need to take an eternity writing it, and if I don’t know anything, why would I sit around wasting everyone’s time pretending to do something? It’s even more awkward, because, very unfortunately for me, when you have special educational needs, you have more time for doing the exams. So whenever I had some official exam and said I was finished, everyone was all like: “Already?! Are you sure?” sounding extremely surprised and kind of suspicious. But if I sat with it for longer just to seem like I’m still writing, checking it for the 30th time in a row, the time flows agonisingly slow. Especially if you have a zombie day like I had on the day of my Polish final, or when you get a migraine like I got on my math final. 😀 But, overall, having a room and a committee just for yourself can also feel better than being in a room with loads of other people, especially if everyone writes on a Brailler and these tend to be loud-ish. I just generally had a good feeling about it, or perhaps I decided to trust Mum’s feeling, despite I actually had quite a bad experience with that school from a couple years earlier. Namely, after I left the blind school that I went to for most of my education, there was a few months of limbo that I had and we didn’t really know what to do with my education further except that I wouldn’t go back there. So my Mum got an idea that we would go ask in this blind school closer to us if they’d perhaps be able to help somehow, though we weren’t even sure how, but perhaps a bit naively thought that something along the lines of letting me use their educational resources or sending a teacher at least once in a while to help me with schoolwork. They said that, hm no, this isn’t something we do, and then the situation had a yucky twist because they all suddenly started to persuade me that I should join their boarding school. Well, I certainly didn’t leave one boarding school to replace it with another, that generally has worse reputation among blind people from what I know of, so I was absolutely adamant that I was not going to do this, but they kept trying to convince me and before I knew it there was a whole team of people of all kinds of professions surrounding me and telling me how I need their school but just don’t know it yet, and I was feeling increasingly like I was about to go crazy. It’s a frequent theme in my nightmares, both regular and sleep paralysis ones, that someone tries to convince me to do something or wants to do something to me and I keep telling them that no, for fuck’s sake, I don’t want it, yet they keep shoving it in my face and then end up either doing what they want or forcing me to do something, so it always makes me feel kind of threatened or something when this happens in real life, let alone a situation like that, I seriously thought I was in a dream. 😀 What was worse was that they ended up almost convincing my parents, and I still had a few months until turning eighteen so when we finally left, they were feeling very much that I should go there. Rescue came to me from the most unexpected direction I could imagine, and my grandad also deserves some credit, but that’s a different and unrelated story. 

   Going back to my finals, in the end, I donn’t think it made a substantial enough difference for me that you could really call it a difference at all that I took the exams in that school. Especially that I ended up failing math anyway. And it was all extremely stressful not only for me but also my parents, who had to drive several times back and forth, as this school is several hours drive away. I guess only Sofi enjoyed it and whenever the topic comes up, she always says how she’d like to go back there again because she has nice associations with that time and enjoyed sleeping in a hotel when we decided to stay in that town one night. Some bits about that experience were kind of triggering for me and in particular dealing with their “amazing” headmistress, I don’t think I’ve ever had to do with an equally or more toxic and just all round unpleasant being in my life, almost like an embodiment of Maggie my inner critic, even their names are etymologically related. Ever since then I always hear Maggie speak in her voice. 😀 If she’s like that with her regular students, I feel extremely sorry for each one of them and wonder how much counselling they’ll need later on in life, they should get compensations or something. 

   How about your high school regrets? 🙂 

Question of the day (6th September).

   Let’s finally do some questions of the day, ‘cause there haven’t been any in a LONG time, I just don’t seem to have a lot of ideas anymore and not even my Mum is of much help. 😀 

   What’s a mispronunciation that sends you into fits of rage? 

   My answer: 

   Mispronunciations generally tend to rub me the wrong way, at least when a person doesn’t realise that it’s a mispronunciation and/or if it’s particularly glaring, because sometimes deliberate mispronunciation can be a fun way of playing with language or expressing things and I do that myself at least in Polish. But, whenever the topic of mispronunciation, misspellings or bad grammar comes up in any other of my languages, I feel kind of awkward because, yeah, I always have a radar on for such things no matter the language as long as I am good enough in a language to notice them, which can be quite annoying in itself because you focus on such details which most people don’t seem to care about and get distracted from the actually important thing, and then you’re further driven up the wall specifically by someone mispronouncing something. But, in English, I am just learning the language myself, so it feels weird for me to talk about English speakers’ – native or not – language mistakes, because obviously I make them too, so it seems kind of jerky or conceited to me, as if I was making a statement about their English in general that it’s worse than mine or something, even though it’s not at all what I mean. And what if their pronunciation is actually some uncommon regional variety or something? So I generally prefer to keep my acquired-language pronunciation irks to myself. But if I was to talk about Polish mispronunciations here it wouldn’t really be relevant for people and I’d have a lot of explaining to do. 

   One thing that I am sure is wrong and that I hear loads of, especially native, English speakers say, is “ek cetera’ instead of et cetera, as in etc. It almost seems like more people say it wrong than right, so perhaps, since language is a living thing, over time this will become the alternative proper pronunciation of this, but it would be a real bummer, because it just makes no sense. It’s not ect or ecc, after all, is it? I even used to have a Welsh English speech synthesiser back on Windows which always pronounced it like that, and it boggles my mind how no one even noticed it in the process of making it or anything, I mean it seems a fairly easy and obvious thing to catch and rather glaring in a speech synthesiser, and I assume it must have been the way the person doing the recordings pronounced it because the other Welsh English speech synthesiser from the same company pronounced it correctly. I wonder why, if this phrase is clearly difficult to get right for people, possibly because they can’t really associate it with anything in their minds that would make it feel logical, there isn’t an equally or more common English equivalent, I mean such that wouldn’t be a direct loan-phrase. I guess phrases like “and so on/and so forth” don’t seem to be used as frequently. In Polish we do use et cetera, but it generally sounds very sophisticated and intellectual, like something that someone very educated would say, or perhaps in literature or something like that, sometimes for a humourous/satirical effect as well although lately “etc.” has become more common online/in texting because of English. But generally, we have our own phrase for that. 

   I also used to be really irked by people pronouncing niche as “nitch”, because to me something about it just sounds gross, like some kind of yucky insect or other bug, or a common name for some gross skin condition that involves a lot of itching, my synaesthetic associations with it are awful too but better let’s not get there lol. And I used to think that the only true pronunciation is “neesh” which is so much nicer obviously because it almost sounds like Misha except it has N instead of M and no A. 😀 And for my synaesthetic brain it looks like some sort of stained glass that I don’t really know how to describe, and it tastes like dry wine which perhaps isn’t something I necessarily like but it certainly tastes lots better than “nitch”. But then I learned that not only is “nitch” just as okay to say as “neesh” but also that it has been a thing a lot earlier in English than “neesh”. 

   Your turn. 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What’s one thing you still prefer to do the old-fashioned way, regardless of technology and why? 

   My answer: 

   I’ve talked about this before, but definitely reading books. And no, obviously I don’t mean that I prefer reading physical books over ebooks/audiobooks, that would be cool if I could actually afford it and have enough place to store all those books, because I’d love to be able to read physical books, but it’s inconvenient, clunky, and either limiting when you get them from a library, because Braille books are costly and slow to produce so the available books are FAAAAR fewer than standard print, or it’s super expensive if you’re desperate enough to order a book to be printed just for yourself. 

   What I actually mean is that I much prefer reading books on a specialised device for the blind like a book player or a Braille display, rather than on the phone, which seems to be the most popular option right now among blind people. Specialised book players are no longer particularly trendy and aren’t even produced as much as they used to be, simply because people are turning to phones now which are cheaper than specialised devices, and it doesn’t pay off for people to buy a specialised device for double the price of an iPhone when such a device has a lot fewer functions, even if oftentimes the functions it does have work better than on an iPhone because it was made to do a few specific things rather than everything possible. Book players are more of a thing with older blind people, like such who have lost their sight later in life and don’t necessarily feel up to learning how to use an iPhone blindly when they never even had a desire to that when they could still see. Their advantage is that they are obviously always accessible, and very intuitive and easy to use. Braille displays/notetakers  are of course still in demand because people use them in connection with their mainstream devices like a phone or computer, but still I guess few people use their displays like that they just put an SD card in them and read books directly from them, without connecting to anything, like I do. 

   The reason why I prefer reading books the way I do is very simple – because that’s what I’m used to and because that is most comfortable to me. – My current book player that I’ve had for some seven years (although not the same copy). While it is still sold, its firmware hasn’t been developed in a couple years and will no longer be, so it has lost some of its features already. For example  sharing files between it and a computer over a network folder because the protocol it used for that is outdated and no longer secure and no self-respecting computer will let you do that anymore. Which is generally a bummer because, yeah, you can of course theoretically connect it via USB like anyone sane would, except it’s not the best idea because when you unplug it, it just freezes and dies, and you have to take the battery out and put it back in, and if you need to exchange files on it regularly it’s not cool because sooner or later you’re going to damage the battery holder from constant playing with it. This has been a bug since forever and I know a few other people who’ve had it, but it never ended up being properly solved. So now I just use an SD adapter instead rather thann connecting to the PlexTalk as such when I want to add new files. But worse yet is the fact that it has lost support for Audible, because Audible ditched its older audio format. I was disconsolate because the sole reason for why I chose PlexTalk over a much cheaper device of its kind (which had the Jacek voice in it unlike PlexTalk!!! 😭) when I last got funding was because PlexTalk is the only one I know about here in Poland that supports Audible, and back then Audible was my only source of English books except for BookShare, and then after a few months there’s no Audible. I wrote both to Audible people and to Shinano Kenshi (PlexTalk) people but Audible people very gently expressed that they don’t really care, and Shinano Kenshi people wrote to me like half a year later (because they’re doing other things now, duh) saying that, yeeeah, they could, theoretically, maybe, add the support for the new format (which has also been around for quite some time already and it’s not like Audible has suddenly introduced a new one and ditched the old one simultaneously) but it doesn’t really pay off, to sum it up shortly.

   In the meantime (between Audible ditching its old format and Shinano Kenshi responding to me) I finally got myself an iPhone, and part of my motivation was to have easier access to Audible, and to finally get used to read like most people (using the app Voice Dream Reader) because it also has the Jacek voice in it and because I kept hearing how it’s so so cool and as good as a book player. 

   I tried several times to make this transition, both with audiobooks and with ebooks, but it just doesn’t work for me. With all its annoyingness, I like PlexTalk because it’s small, so I can put it under my pillow and read in bed like that. It doesn’t really feel like an option with a phone, I mean I could theoretically, but, uh, who sleeps with a phone under the pillow. And the radiation and everything! PlexTalk has Wi-Fi, but I don’t use it anyway, so it’s always turned off for me, and even if it still emits some radiation it’s never going to be nowhere near that of an iPhone. Or I can read much more comfortably in the car or a public place. With an iPhone, I would have to also bring  headphones, and I’m a control freak and don’t like having my hearing limited while being around other people in not very familiar places or situations, and with PlexTalk I can just keep it at a low volume near my cheek and have everything under control, no one hears it but I do perfectly fine. I’ve done that for ages and it’s just the only thing that feels right. Also if I’m reading in bed, I’m used to also having some music or radio quietly going on in the background, because a softly speaking speech synth alone going from a mini mono speaker doesn’t fulfill my need for sound entirely, and I use my phone for the music/radio, so I can’t simultaneously use it for reading because it would be one big chaos. Unless Apple one day introduces the possibility to have multiple audio outputs at the same time, and regulating the volume of each separately, then I might reconsider it once again.

   And another thing is, I am just not crazy about Voice Dream Reader at all. I don’t want to say I don’t like it, because i can see it is generally a very good reading app compared to other reading phone apps, and it’s amazing that it exists because I still do use it sometimes for language learning and many people find it very useful. Oh yeah, and there’s Jacek, I even purchased him in the app, and I also bought a Welsh voice because I have none on the computer anymore after it got lost irretrievably just like Jacek so I read Welsh stuff with Voice Dream Reader out of necessity because I myself am a very slow Welsh reader, even though it’s a south Welsh voice as opposed to North Welsh which I’m learning, and reads some colloquial things really oddly. In my opinion, Voice Dream Reader doesn’t work very smoothly with Braille, it keeps losing focus or throws me into random places in the text when panning (moving through the lines of Braille) and Braille reading like that is just really cumbersome and annoying. . And even if you don’t read Braille but just listen to speech, navigating within that book isn’t quite as smooth and precise as it is in all the specialised devices that I’ve used so far, and I’ve used four different kinds in my life. That’s all probably because Voice Dream Reader isn’t really an app for the blind, but generally people with all sorts of print disabilities so it doesn’t really cater to any of these disabilities in particular I guess but just tries to work for everyone.

   So yeah, I much prefer either my PlexTalk, for reading with a speech synth, or Braille-Sense (my Braille notetaker) as a standalone for reading books in Braille. 

   My eccentric reading requirements, unfortunately, meant that I had to figure out how to strip DRM’s from Audible, alongside all sorts of English-language ebooks from major retailers (really people, why don’t you just use watermarks? :O ) which I feel very sad about that I have to do it, but if they don’t want to be like properly inclusive… Perhaps at some point when/if the Marrakesh Treaty will become a thing in practice everywhere I won’t have to buy mainstream books anymore. Or regarding Audible alone I’ve heard that there is/is going to be some new device that actually supports the enhanced Audible format, so when my PlexTalk stops working and I’ll have a good gut feeling about that other device in general I’ll happily buy it instead, because it’s not like it’s some extreme fun spending an hour stripping books, the more that I have to do it on Sofi’s PC because I don’t know of a way to do it on Mac that would be both accessible and secure and that’s an inconvenience for us both. So let’s hope that Audible doesn’t come up with a new format until my PlexTalk dies, lol. 

   How about you? 🙂