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.

   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 (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 is a useless skill that you have? 

   My answer: 

   I can click with my big toes if I move them a certain way. I used to be more skilled at this when I was younger, but still can do it if I try hard enough. I can put my legs behind my head, which is apparently not something that most people can do although I think it’s weird because it’s not like I’m super sporty or anything, our Sofi is a lot more than myself and she cannot do this, and for some reason some people think it’s creepy and I sometimes do this and then rock in that position back and forth to make people freak out, ‘cause they think I’ll get stuck like that and won’t be able to get back to a normal position. 😀 

   When I was at the blind school, we would often get calendars in Braille at the beginning of a year. Usually here in Poland when you have a calendar it doesn’t just have dates in it but also names which celebrate their name days on a specific day, because like some other countries in Europe, we do name days. And that was the case with those Braille calendars too. I would often feel kind of intellectually understimulated at the boarding school, especially if I had nothing interesting to read because I would usually finish my library books quite quickly and often didn’t really feel like going to library several times a week. So to do something, and make it seem like I was doing something, I would often reread my current library book, or would read the name days in the calendar. The resulting side effect of that was such that I ended up memorising all those name days totally unintentionally, and a lot of people seemed quite impressed with that, especially my grandad, who values brains and I guess for him something like this must have been evidence that I must have them, even if it was totally passive and I didn’t really make any effort, nor did I had a particular desire, to memorise all that stuff. I’ve just generally always had a tendency to memorise a lot of useless stuff, which has often given people an impression that I know lots of things about lots of things, even if my knowledge about something is rather superficial. 😀 So he would often show off with me when we had some guests on family gatherings and stuff like that, asking me when those people’s name days are. I suppose this is quite a good example of an absolutely useless skill. Later on, I’ve learned to have a bit more respect for my brain and figured out I must be more mindful of what sort of things I let take up my brain storage, and so whenever someone would ask me when is so and so’s name day or whether I still remember that, I would say that I don’t, and eventually I indeed ended up forgetting most of it. 

   Hm, not sure what else, but some people would probably consider my Welsh a useless skill, because people are so often like “Why the flip would you even need Welsh?” And they’re totally right  that I don’t need it at all, I just want to learn it and speak it and understand it, but I most definitely do not need it, and it isn’t particularly useful here in Poland. But then thinking this way, perhaps we could say the same thing about my Swedish and Norwegian as well. English probably not so much, because I think it IS actually, objectively useful and would be for anyone, but I don’t really have to use Swedish or Norwegian, I don’t work with them, I don’t have to communicate in these languages. Well I do have pen pals with whom I communicate in these languages but it’s because of learning these languages that I wanted to find pen pals who speak them, not that I’m learning the languages to be able to communicate with my pen pals. 

   How about your useless skills? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What is your best insult, without using curse words? 

   My answer: 

   Well, one insult that me and Sofi use literally translates to English as “Roll a candy drop” (Turlaj dropsa in Polish, in case you’re curious). I have to say though that it wasn’t either of us who was so creative and made it up. Sofi used to have a friend with whom she had a really stormy relationship. They were friends for life a couple months, going everywhere together, sharing each other’s deepest secrets, what not, and then after those couple months something ridiculously insignificant would make them worst enemies, or at least the way it looked like from where I am sitting was that that other girl would blow something out of proportion and get absolutely incredibly mad at Sofi compared with the level of her guilt (like being late to the park where they were supposed to meet), but perhaps if I were to hear both parts of the story maybe Sofi did also contribute to the drama in some real, meaningful way, I don’t know. Anyway, as soon as she’d go mad, instead of just leaving Sofi alone like a reasonably thinking person would (if I’m THAT furious at someone, why would I want to talk to them?) she kept drowning Sofi’s phone relentlessly with quite unsavoury texts, unsavoury especially given her age, and most of them, especially the first ones, quite unoriginal and laughable. Sofi wasn’t worried or anything, but understandably was quite angry, and it doesn’t take much to set Sofi off, so she found it very hard to resist responding to those texts as they came, despite Mum and me repeatedly told her not to and were wondering why she didn’t block her right away. Anyway, further down the road, her texts have become somewhat more creative, some of these expressions that she threw at Sofi neither of us had ever heard before. I’m pretty sure that neither had she and she just looked on the Internet for “how to diss someone” or something like that. And at some point she told Sofi to “roll a candy drop”. Sofi knows a lot of slang words, but she didn’t know that one and it had both of us in stitches. Turns out it simply means fuck off, but why?! Why roll a candy drop?! I’ve no idea. It just seems like the most random thing someone could come up with. Not that I have a problem with that, Sofi and me also make up random code words for stuff, it’s just weird and funny. So we would say that a lot to each other, of course more in a playful way, to make each other laugh, rather than to actually tell the other one to fuck off, though occasionally that would be the case as well. After a few months of radio silence, Sofi’s hot-blooded “friend” resurfaced again, all apologetic, asking her if they could be friends again. They had tons of stuff to talk about and Sofi felt like they were on the same wavelength, so after some initial resistance and, again, despite absolutely everyone was telling her to quit that, she decided to meet up with her and the cycle began all over again, with them being the best friends in the world for a few months and then parting in a dramatic way. But while they were still friends that second time, Sofi asked her where she got that “roll a candy drop” from and she confirmed that she got it from the Internet. When they broke up their “friendship” the second time, Sofi was racking her brain for some equally random and funny insult that would also still sound equally legit as an insult as “roll a candy drop” does. So eventually she came up with “Roll a lollipop” (except in Polish the word roll is two distinct words in “roll a candy drop” vs “roll a lollipop”, I don’t know, maybe it should be something different in English too, but I’m not sure what would fit best… twist? Spin?) So she told her to go roll/twist/spin a lollipop and that’s pretty much the end of the story as far as I know. But we still use both, with one another and with other people as well. Sofi often tells her school mates to roll a lollipop if they annoy her or something but she doesn’t want a drama to blow up, so this is a pretty easy way for her to insult them without them knowing, they’re just like: “What???” Later we also tried making up other such insults, involving some verb and a food item, but the only other one that has actually survived to this day and is in use for very special occasions is the seemingly most trivial – “Eat bread!” – And this is also Sofi’s creation, and it’s also her who came up with how exactly it’s supposed to be used. If Sofi tells you to eat bread, things are not good. Unlike drop candies and lollipops, the “eat bread” one is not used when you’re simply mad at someone and don’t want to have to do with them, whether temporarily or ever again. You tell people to “Eat bread”, for example, when you’re really disappointed, or disgusted, about something they did. Maybe you expected a lot more, or maybe something they did was really immoral or just insanely dumb or cringey so that you no longer really feel like associating with them. It could of course also be an angry insult but more like cold angry than drops candies and lollipops are. You don’t shriek it out loud, you just say it in a low, kind derisive tone, or that’s at least how Sofi usually does it and she created it so I guess she gets to say how it’s supposed to be said as well. It’s more scornful than insulting really, like a veiled way of saying that you’re almost nobody, or something along those lines. Hence we never tell one another to eat bread, we thankfully never had such very bad  relationship with each other. Sofi says it’s bread because, well, bread is something that everyone eats, most people do almost every day and it’s just a normal thing, while drop candies and lollipops are candies and most people consider them good rather than neutral things. So if you tell someone to eat bread, they don’t even deserve to roll drop candies or lollipops, they’re just good enough for bread. Not sandwiches, not toasts, just bread. 

   What’s such an insult that you use? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What’s a ridiculously fun word to say? 🙂 

   My answer: 

   Oh my flip! This is gonna be a long post, no matter how hard I try! 😀 There are so many fun words! And, which language are we talking about? Whenever I think about stuff like this, I always have extreme trouble thinking about just ONE word, even if one for each language that I have any  idea about. Because really, there are so many words that feel fun to say, and fun in all sorts of different ways. And English is particularly difficult because it has such insane amounts of words, which can not only sound fun but also be so weirdly specific in what they mean. Also, I suppose that when most people think of words that are either fun or beautiful, they think words that aren’t used that often, whereas for me, a fun word can be something that’s part of daily vocabulary, for example ever since I learned about the English word pillow, I really love it and I think it’s so cute. And I’ve already wrote of my love for the English word sleep. Both English and Swedish have such a weird quality to them that they have so many words that sound absolutely cute and that are in regular use and I really like it. In the past, I even used to do rankings of my favourite words for each language I knew – so then it was Polish, English and Swedish – because I wanted to keep them all in one place or something, so I’d do yearly rankings for that. But there are too many cool words, and also I finally realised that a ranking isn’t perhaps the best way for me to keep track of anything, because as my brain doesn’t really do numbers, it only made things more complicated when I had to think which word I like more and put them in such very specific order. 

   So, I think rather than sitting here for hours and thinking about my ABSOLUTE most favourite English word, I’ll just tell you about one that I learned about quite recently, and it’s jackanapes! Does anyone still even use it?! :O I mean spontaneously of course? I wonder if an average English native speaker even know what it means? I’m very curious, but if you don’t, I’ll tell you that from what I learned it’s a fancy word for someone who’s misbehaving, or being mischievous, or downright impertinent. I’m nnot sure though if it’s supposed to have more of an insult vibe or is used in a lighter, joking context. Being a Jackophile , I love how English has so many jac- words, and so many of them are slangy and quite funny or quirky. Like, apparently in Ireland people use “the jacks” to mean toilet! 😀 I love it! 

   I think I already wrote about it in some distant past on here that one of my very favourite Polish words is mózg (MOOZG, though actually when pronouncing it on its own like that the zg goes unvoiced so it’s practically MOOSK) which means brain. No other language I know has a word for brain that would be equally or more satisfying to say than this. I generally find the brain fascinating, I like the word mózg, so I end up using it a lot, just like I do in English, even when most people would rather use mind or soul or head or something like that. For example in Polish I usually wash my brain rather than hair, which some people find extremely funny. Back when I was in college/high school/whatchamacallit in your country, I once let my Math tutor in and she had something she wanted to tell my Mum straight away, but I told her that unfortunately, right now my Mum’s washing her brain (meaning hair of course) which at first really puzzled her, and then after a while she started laughing like she never heard a better joke. When I have a migraine or a normal headache I also say in Polish that my brain’s aching. The English brain sounds not very cool though, it has an odd texture and tastes like plastic. Swedish hjärna and Norwegian hjerne are cool and quite passable but nowhere near as cool as mózg, and the Welsh ymenydd is incredibly bland. 

   In Swedish, one of my many favourite words which I learned quite early on and fell in love with passionately is krimskrams, which means knick-knack. It’s so cute! I also really love the Polish equivalent which is bibelot. It almost sounds like Bibiel! 😀 I don’t care about the English word though, because while all these words clearly sound like what they mean – something that’s not very practically useful and just gathering dust, at least the Swedish and Polish words sound like these things hold some emotional value to the owner, while knick-knack doesn’t give such a vibe, at least not to me. – 

   In Welsh, I love pilipala, which is one of several Welsh words meaning butterfly, it’s extremely cute. And the Swedish equivalent, fjäril, is so stunning and has very distinct tangerine flavour to it! The English word is quite disgusting though. And I’m fairly neutral about the Polish equivalent – which is motyl – it sounds like motility or something like that. 😀 I don’t have any stronger feelings about the Norwegian sommerfugl when it comes to its sound, but it means summer bird so that’s quite nice. Also when it comes to Welsh, I love the word achafi for how expressive it is, it’s not a swearword or even close to that but it can be loaded with so much expression that it can almost feel like one at times. Honestly though, after so many years of Welsh learning, I’m not perfectly sure whether it’s actually a proper Welsh word, or more of a Wenglish invention, that is something that’s actually originated among Welsh people whose dominant language was English, because most often when I hear it it’s thrown into English. Anyways, it means yuck, and from what I’ve noticed it isn’t only used when something is yuck, but also when you disapprove or feel indignant of what someone’s doing or when something generally doesn’t go quite the way you’d like. 

   Also, now that we’re talking about fun-sounding words, after I’ve mentioned one of my first loves in the Swedish language, and after having read Ashley Leia’s post about the versatility of the word fuck not long ago, I am reminded of another of my early infatuations in the Swedish language, namely, the word knulla, or, more exactly, knullar, which is the present tense of this amazing-sounding verb, as that was the form in which I heard it for the first time, being about 10-11 years old and totally unaware of it. I had just started learning Swedish not long ago, and, just like I did before I started learning, I loved to watch Swedish movies just to hear the language. I am not and never was a movie person, and I hardly focused on the actual movie, it’s plot line and all that, I just listened to the language, relished it and tried to understand as much as I could. And one day my Dad told me there’d be a Swedish movie on the telly in the evening, and we watched it together. I have no idea what movie it was and don’t remember what was going on in it at all. I only remember that it was something quite old, historical I think, and there was a dude who was yelling at what I think was a young woman/girl, and he used this word, and it sparked my attention right away, ‘cause it sounded so lovely and the more I thought about it, the more I loved it. “Knullar…” I was so excited about this new word that for the rest of this movie, I couldn’t focus on anything else. Then I went upstairs to enjoy and savour this new found word in the privacy of my room. I wonder, if any Swede would have seen me then, sitting on my desk, happily swinging my legs and stimming/“sensorisming” away with my fingers while repeating the word “knullar” to myself, what would they have thought of me. 😀 Thousands of different ideas went through my brain as I thought what this lovely, cute-sounding word could mean. To the tactile synaesthetic bit of my brain, it looked like a very flimsy-looking, small flower with very gentle, small, kind of velvety leaves. But it sounded like kötbullar (meatballs) and tasted like grilled cheese to the gustatory synaesthetic bit of my brain, so I figured it could be some kind of dish. I knew it probably wasn’t that for real, but I really liked the idea. Bulle (plural bullar) is bun, kötbulle (plural kötbullar) is meatball, so knulle could be some kind of cheesy ball or something. You could have some food place called Knullar, Bullar & Kötbullar, I thought. LOL if only I knew…! 😂 And then I entertained myself with thinking about what exactly these knullar could be, what they’d be made of other than cheese and how they would taste.

   Every time I had my Swedish lesson, my tutor would give me time where I could ask him all sorts of Swedish questions, be it about language or culture or whatever, that was unrelated to the topic of the lesson itself. So during our first lesson after my knullar discovery, I happily asked him about this beautiful word, and was very surprised with his odd reaction. First he went totally quiet for what felt like ages, so I wondered if perhaps he doesn’t know what it is but doesn’t want to show his ignorance, but that didn’t make sense as it had happened before that he wouldn’t know something I asked him about and had no problem admitting that. So I wondered maybe I didn’t get that word right and the guy in the movie actually said something else. But it felt kind of awkward. Finally he asked me in what still felt a rather odd way, where I came across this word, so obviously I told him in a movie, and then he calmly explained to me what the word knullar, or rather knulla, as that’s the infinitive form of this word, means, namely that it means to fuck. Now that was quite a surprise! Now that I’ve known this for years it’s normal to me but then I remember being really shocked because it totally didn’t sound to me like what it meant. And while I still think it sounds quite endearing, after I learned that, it lost a lot of its initial appeal. As far as I’m aware and from what I’ve noticed, it’s only used in the sexual context, you wouldn’t use the word knulla to mean fuck as in “fuck you” or anything like that. At least I’ve only heard it used in this one context and I’m pretty sure it’s considered quite vulgar and heavy. But once I managed to get over the shock and accept the truth, I did have a good laugh at it. 

   And, speaking more interlinguistically, I think the word mishmash, which as far as I know exists in many different languages, is very fun to say. Speaking of mish- words I alsoo like the English mishap, and I seriously used to think it’s pronounced MEE-shap. But I like it still, even though it’s not. 

   What’s such word(s) for you? In any language(s)? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   How did your Valentine’s Day go? 

   My answer: 

   Well, personally I don’t really care about Valentine’s Day. For one thing, I’m single and have always been, so I’ve never really had a reason to celebrate it. The second thing is that even if I was not single, I don’t think I would celebrate it, unless my other half would feel really strongly about it being otherwise for some reason. It’s always felt so awfully fake for me and is clearly not so muchh about love as about marketing and it being a great day for all sorts flower businesses, restaurants and the like. Oh yeah and media as there is something to talk and write about so they don’t have to think too much, just throw lovey-dovey content at people’s poor brains so that their own relationships start to feel even more flawed than ever. I suppose it’s different in countries like the States, but here, sometimes if someone expresses that they aren’t really a fan of this holiday, they’ll be accused of being stiffly conservative and not liking modern holidays and wrongly assuming that Valentine’s is an import from America like Halloween or other such, which is probably because, at least according to my Mum, Valentine’s Day was apparently not a thing in Poland until after the transformation, so 90’s. But I know it’s not a modern holiday, even if it’s new here, and even if it was modern, I don’t have a problem with any holiday solely because of how long it’s been a thing. In general, I totally don’t mind there being a special day for people who are in love, so that they can do something extra special for/with each other, or profess their love, as I can imagine it could be easier to have a day like this than pluck up your courage on some random day in a random situation, or even for steady couples who need something more than just their anniversary to remind them how much they actually love each other and to focus more on each other than on their children. But I don’t like its current superficial form, it looks very exaggerated and often almost forced to me. When we (my siblings and I) were younger, our parents would usually buy us some sweets and wish us Happy Valentine’s Day, and Dad always buys Mum, Sofi and me flowers on this day, same as on our birthdays and Women’s Day. So we got some lovely daffodils from him today. He never gives anything to Olek these days though, probably because he thinks it would feel awkward, but I think as it is it’s a bit awkward too, if you treat Valentine’s seriously you could have thought he doesn’t love him. 😀 And yes, he’s also single (Olek, not my Dad, just in case you’re wondering) so the poor lad doesn’t get anything! 😦 

   So, apart from those traditional daffodils, it’s just been a normal day for me. When we were having breakfast in the morning, Sofi sarcastically asked Mum and me what our plans for Valentine’s are and promptly added that she is going to spend all day with the love of her life – skates – celebrating that she doesn’t have the “morphine” (Marfan syndrome, which she was suspected to have but was tested a few days ago). Mum’s ambition was challenged, as the love of her life is running and she didn’t go running today morning. So, despite she normally doesn’t run in the evenings, she decided not to be worse than Sofi and said she’s going to have a romantic outing in the woods in the evening. I said that me and the love of my life don’t need special days to spend happy times together, and we don’t even need outings to enjoy each other, but Mondays are the days when we’re particularly close for particularly long, and so I’m going to spend ecstatic four hours with the love of my life – yr iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh language). – And that’s what I did, with my other, true blue purrfect Russian lover – Misha – accompanying us for a significant part of our date. Unfortunately, polygamic relationships are logistically complicated, and after a challenging and demanding date with my Cymric lover I was not able to do justice to my Norwegian one, but as I knew that was going to be the case, we had a lovely, romantic, light and not quite so demanding weekend together instead. But again it’s not something extremely unusual as we usually spend weekends with each other. 

   So, how’s your Valentine’s been? Do you celebrate it, or do you do something more like Sofi, my Mum or me, or is it just an average day like any other with no highlights to it? 🙂 

(Almost) ten things I am really good at.

   It feels like, ever since I’ve got my Mac, I haven’t really posted anything longer. But now I’m mostly used to all the basic stuff on it, and have figured out how to blog from it, so I figured I’d finally do some journalling prompt-inspired post now. 

   I am going to go with a prompt from the book called 200+ Journal Prompts for the Mind, Body and Soul by Riley Reigns and the prompt I chose to do is as follows: 

   What are 10 things you are really good at? 

   I have to say that these kinds of prompts aren’t really easy for me and I don’t really like them, because I never know what to respond with. I mean, sure, we’re all good at something, have some good traits etc. But I usually have a hard time coming up with things and also even though I’m normally not a perfectionist, I feel like I’d have to be significantly good at something to include it in a list like this. But, I decided to take it as a little challenge and see how it goes and if I can actually come up with ten things. So, here we go: 

  1.    Language stuff. As I frequently say, I don’t believe there’s such a thing as language talent. You simply have to like a language and find a learning method that suits your particular brain architecture, because when you like something, it’s easier. Or at least the difficult aspects of it are a lot less daunting than they were if you hated it, and you have a lot more motivation. I feel for people who have to learn a language they dislike or feel meh about, for school or for business purposes or due to emigrating or whatever else. That being said, I think there is an area in language learning that is definitely easier if you have a bit of a talent for it, and that is picking up the sounds. And I feel lucky in this aspect too. It used to really surprise me how people often don’t hear the difference between sounds in a language that are similar yet, to me at least, clearly different. But it seems to happen to people frequently so I feel really privileged that I hear those things, it makes learning languages a lot easier. Often it also means that I have it easier to reproduce these sounds even though they may not be a part of my native language, though sometimes it may still take time for it to sound natural and other times I may be able to differentiate sounds in someone’s speech but be clueless as for how the flip they make a particular sound, like I don’t think I would ever be able to speak Danish convincingly, although I’ve been told that apparently getting drunk and speaking Swedish is a successful strategy for some people but I don’t even drink at all these days so thank God that I’m not in love with it or have never had a faza from Denmark or I’d have a huge problem. Even in Swedish, they have a sound called Viby-I, or Lidingö-I, which is a variation of your usual ee sound except it’s definitely not the same. It’s something that used to only exist in some rural areas  but now, for whatever reason, it’s common in Stockholm and Gothenburg and is considered a posh thing. I was always taught that the letter I is pronounced as ee in Swedish, just like it is in Polish, except I would so often hear people pronouncing it in a way that sounded really odd to me especially when the I was long. Even when I got myself a proper Swedish speech synthesiser, she also pronounced the ee like that. I once asked my Swedish teacher about it but he seemed like he didn’t know what on Earth I was talking about. It bothered me, because it felt like if I can’t reproduce a sound that seems so common in Swedish and that people use all the time even in the media, I ca’t be like a really really good Swedish speaker, but eventually I just let it go, because I saw that some people don’t do it at all, so it can’t be a huge crime if I can’t, plus it doesn’t really sound all that cool. I once saw someone online describing it that it sounds as if you have a bit of peanut butter stuck in your throat, which is quite accurate imo. 😀 The normal ee sounds a lot better. But then I started learning Welsh and I was particularly interested in North Welsh, which has a very similar, but not quite the same, sound for the letter U. So if I wanted to sound properly North Welsh I just had to figure it out. It took me some time but for some reason was a bit easier for me than the Swedish I even though the difference there is very slight. And once I figured out the Welsh u, I was also able to do the Viby-I as well. Although I don’t really like it so it’s not how I actually speak Swedish, I don’t think it fits me at all and it feels kind of exaggerated. Also what I mean by “language stuff” is that I, at least in my native language, have quite an extensive vocabulary. People always say that to me and people in my family always come to me when they don’t know what some word means or aren’t sure how to say something. 😀 I really do like words and word play and learning new words and using them in interesting ways, and creating my own words. 
  2.     Judging people’s characters, observing people and analysing what I know about them. I don’t often feel like I am as good at it as some people tell me I am, like my grandad who goes as far as calling me X-Ray lol, mostly because i feel there’s so much I always miss because of not being able to see, as people always send so many visual cues about themselves – appearance, clothing, facial expressions, body language, gestures  – that are important, and sometimes not being able to pick up on those cues can skew the whole picture completely. But if we put all my limitations into consideration, i guess I’m quite good at it indeed. I like to rely on this skill a lot in my interactions with fellow human beings, as I always find them – the interactions, not necessarily the human beings as such, collectively – difficult, and having as many cues as you can is always helpful to some degree.  Plus, people are generally quite interesting and so complex and multi-dimensional. The variety in people’s personalities fascinates me quite a lot. Sometimes it works as a sort of defence mechanism as well. The downside to it is that when you use something like that a lot and it often works well, you might lose vigilance at some point and rely  on this too much, and it won’t always be right. I now know that my judgment isn’t always right and that I always have to keep it at the back of my mind that there’s a possibility that some or all of my assumptions are wrong, but I had to learn it through experience. 😀 
  3.     Listening. I like to listen to other people. Their problems, their stories, their fascinations. I like to listen about how they feel. And I believe a lot of people like to share their stuff with me because they often tell me things that I would consider personal, or. ask me for advice or something. And I’m happy about it, because often I feel like this is the only substantial way in which I am able to help other people, so it makes me feel useful. I’m not sure why people like me so much as a listener, other than that I’m an introvert and introverts are apparently generally considered good listeners (which I don’t think is a rule) but I’ve heard it a lot that people find it easier to talk about personal or difficult stuff when they’re not looked at and I can relate to that myself as well very much. So it makes total sense to me . I am often able to perceive when someone’s looking at me, particularly if they’re doing it in a very persistent way, and more like staring actually, though it’s not like I can feel it always, and sometimes I feel like someone is looking at me even though it ends up not being true. But I really don’t like talking to people about stuff that I feel kind of emotional about when they are looking at me, so I can understand that they might find it easier to talk to me than anyone else because I don’t look at their expressions. Also, listening to other people  saves me from talking a lot myself, or from having to deal with people focusing their attention on me. A lot of introverts don’t like to talk about themselves. I can’t say I always don’t, because with people I like and feel some common ground with, I like to talk about myself, but only when I want it, not when I’m forced to do so by circumstances and the expectation to do small talk, so in such situations I’d much rather listen. And you can learn a lot of interesting things this way. Sometimes, it gives you a totally new perspective on someone and their life than you’d have otherwise. Sometimes, when you have a lot going on in your own brain, listening to others is difficult and quite daunting, but I usually try not to show it too much unless I really feel that my brain can’t deal with someone else’s shit on top of my own and no one is going to benefit from this. I appreciate it that people consider me a good enough listener to come with their joys and struggles to me, and I try to be helpful and as attentive as I can. 
  4.     Avoiding people and scary situations. Well, I have AVPD for a reason I guess. 😀 I can be really creative and go to great lengths where avoidance is concerned. I can go as far as going out at night barefoot and in my PJ’s onto the terrace covered in snow and wallow in it to get sick and avoid going to school the next day. 😀 I hate peopling passionately and, as regular readers of my blog will know, I have lots of anxieties and phobias, big and small, so there’s lots of things that I avoid regularly and have a lot of strategies to do it and do it successfully most of the time. If I decide not to avoid something, it’s usually for someone else’s benefit, for example I go to some family gatherings because I know that there are some people in my family who are so weird that they’d blame my Mum if I didn’t go, or my grandad would be worried that I’m having a migraine or disappointed that I didn’t come, and I care about my Mum and grandad. 
  5.     Not eating, or perhaps I should say dealing well with hunger mentally, because I’d been so good with not eating in the past that I no longer am as good. As a lexical-gustatory synaesthete, I really love food. I can be picky with what I like, but generally, I love food. Yet, I don’t seem to have as much of a problem with not eating as many people seem to have. I’ve noticed that stuff like not eating for a day scares many people, or blows their minds as something that they wouldn’t be able to do or would never ever want to do for any reason. For me, of course it’s not pleasant or fun, but it’s absolutely not a huge problem. Whenever I’m under a lot of stress, especially if it’s something temporary rather than more chronic, I tend to eat very little, if at all, and what little I do eat I have to just force into myself. It’s because I usually have nausea when I’m really stressed or anxious, but also it feels like all my energy goes towards dealing with the stress, and all the other functions freeze for the time being so even if I’m not nauseated I rarely have any appetite, or simply forget about eating. It doesn’t even have to be stress, can be strong positive excitement or a lot of changes, good or bad, going on. It’s only after everything’s over that I start to feel super-weak and ravenously hungry and usually eat something like a bag of crisps or a chocolate bar in one go. When I was a kid and teen I also had a few extended periods where I’d be unable to eat much if anything at all during the day because of generalised anxiety and the accompanying nausea, or emetophobia (fear of vomit). I also had times as a teenager when I wouldn’t eat as a way of self-harming or solely because I didn’t like having needs like that and it made me feel out of control, or I’d eat very irregularly and sometimes very little, and sometimes a lot. I still struggle with eating when something triggers my emetophobia really badly, and still sometimes have times where I have a control or self-loathing issue with eating, or other times I’m so engrossed and absorbed with something really fascinating that food is the last thing on my mind until I go back to normal earthly functioning or start to feel so weak that I can’t ignore it any longer. Also, as a Traditional Catholic, fasting is something I’m very much used to and something very normal to me. I know some people, like our Sofi, for whom fasting is a big sacrifice and they find it really difficult to resist not eating, but for me, while of course it’s an inconvenience, it’s not a huge one. Just enough to be a bit of a challenge but not like: “Uhhh no, it’s Ash Wednesday again!” Or anything like that. However, I feel that all my eating troubles have screwed me up a little physically. Because now I’m generally unable to eat larger portions, or even just normal-adult-people portions, of food in one go. Or if I do, I feel ridiculously full ridiculously quickly. On the other hand, while I can mentally deal well with hunger and fasting, physically it’s sometimes different, because often if I don’t eat at all for a full day, I’ll start feeling real weak and wobbly towards the end of the day and it’ll get a lot worse towards the morning and I’ll barely be able to drag myself out of bed and it feels kind of scary because even standing is exhausting and feels like I’m going to pass out and I really don’t know if I’d live alone how I’d even make myself food in such condition so I’m so glad I have a Dad who can make me sandwiches in the middle of the night. 😀 I also had this weird thing going on even when I was little, but it was a lot less frequent, only when I was ill at the same time or something, so I suppose my shitty eating habits must have exacerbated something that I have a natural tendency to or something like that. Therefore, these days I no longer do full-day fasts, even when it’s actually an obligatory fasting day, I just do intermittent fasting, otherwise it’s rather counterproductive and it’s obviously not the point of it. Even with intermittent fasting I have to be careful and not too ambitious and if I start to feel weak I eat something, even if it’s something small as it’ll usually do the trick and see me through the rest of the day. Now that my migraines have become more frequent and easier to trigger, I also have to watch out for that if I don’t eat for a longer period of time, as not eating can be a trigger, and if that’s what has triggered it and I manage to eat something before it develops fully, I may even manage to nip it in the bud without any medication. Oh yeah, and speaking of migraines, when I have a full-blown one, I always have awful nausea, so I never eat when having a migraine either unless I end up feeling weak like what I describe, and when it happens during a migraine it’s really shitty because you’re already drained because of a migraine, and you’re so nauseated that the last thing you feel like doing is eating, yet you have to eat because otherwise you’ll keep feeling more and more drained, and when you do eat you feel even more drained because when you’re already drained to begin with, eating’s more draining. 😀 Ohhh yeah and add emetophobia into the mix. SO yeah, these days, I’m rubbish physically at not eating, but hunger itself isn’t really a significant inconvenience for me on a mental level. 
  6.     Misha. Yeah you can probably tell by this that I’m running out of ideas. So I asked Sofi, and that was the first thing she said. I asked her what she means by me being good at Misha, but she couldn’t quite explain. 😀 So yeah, let’s say I’m good at Misha. It sounds like a perfect thing to put on your CV! 😀 Well, I have a good relationship with Misha, though naturally he has best relationship with Mum because she’s like his Mum too and he always seeks contact with her the most and misses her most when she’s away, and, more important than that, she’s his main food provider, so he just associates her with food, and food is his meaning in life. But we do have a very good relationship and we often sense each other’s feelings and states of mind. If he associates all of us with something, then I’d say he most likely associates me with sleep, because we often sleep together and he often sleeps in my room during the day and there’s lots of places for him to choose in my room where he wants to sleep and everything’s designed especially for him. Communication with Misha, in particular understanding his needs, is rather challenging for me, because he’s generally not very fond of touch or closeness, and his language is mostly movements and facial expressions, so it’s usually my Mum who will pick up way faster and easier what he wants or if he’s feeling physically poorly. Yet there are things with which I feel like I may get him better than other people here, though we’ll of course never know for sure. I can usually spot when he’s feeling anxious or distressed with something based on his behaviour quite easily, and when I can touch him his muscles are all tense and twitchy then. I think I can pick up on Misha’s moods fairly well but I don’t really know what that’s based on, guess just my intuition mostly though he does tend to be more vocal when he’s happy or playful and they’re of course happier sounds then. And, as much as Misha isn’t into closeness with humans, with me he’s more physically affectionate than anyone else here. He has his very complex routines around sleep, and when he sleeps here in my room and I’m with him, he won’t settle unless I give him at least a small treat and lay down on the bed. Then when he’s finished eating, he’ll very slowly and carefully go on the bed as well and go on top of me. He’ll put his head next to mine and gently sniff my, hair, then my cheeks. If he’s in a particularly exuberant mood, he’ll even try to lick my cheek, but I’mm not overly fond of that so I don’t really let him. This whole licking and sniffing business only started a year or two ago. Then he’ll start kneading me and eventually will lay on my chest or tummy, and then he’ll silently yet forcefully demand an in-depth head, ear, nasal bridge, cheekbone and chin massage, purring louder than he normally does. This is still not as loud as your usual cat purr, but it’s very loud and powerful for Mish standards. Sometimes this whole session lasts just five minutes, other times even half an hour and we both end up having a nap until Misha wakes up with a start, horrified at the extreme weakness and softiness he has shown, picks up what’s left of his dignity and slowly moves onto the blanket, as far from me as possible, and starts the kneading all over again, or rather, as Sofi calls it, sleep-waltzing. Then it’s grooming time, after which he still sometimes wants to copulate with my feet no matter how much I discourage it, although he’s way better now with this than when he was younger, and then, provided that everything goes to plan, little Misha falls asleep. But if I dare  get up from the bed, or even move to much, he’ll jump off and go sleep somewhere else and there’s no coming back. When he’s very sleepy or upset, the whole sniffing and massage and sleeping on Bibiel part is left out, but if I’m here I still have to be with him on the bed ’til he falls asleep. Of course, he normally won’t do it either when someone else is in my room, now that would be too much of a disgrace, right? But my Mum has managed to catch us like that a couple times and apparently she’s never seen Misha with an equally blissful expression on his face. As much as he loves Mum, he rarely lies with her, because she doesn’t like it for some reason, and she never allows it at night. So when she does sometimes have a whim to have a nap with Misha under the duvet, she usually ends up regretting it, because he scratches her legs (I think he does it in his sleep actually but it must be painful nevertheless) and feels strongly attracted to her feet as well, which always ends with her calling him a pervert and kicking him out. So yeah, maybe I’m good at Misha, whatever that means. 
  7.     Not vomiting. I’m forever grateful that I’ve got a brain like this, which, most likely, blocks me from vomiting. Apparently that’s the case with a lot of emetophobics, and it seems to be with me too. And even if it’s not, otherwise I’m good at avoiding situations that could lead to vomiting. I’m gonna assume that I’m both. 
  8.    Ummm… what else…? Sofi says playing BitLife, but I think she’s biased here because she knows no one else who plays BitLife other than herself and me and to her I’m the ultimate BitLife player who knows everything about the game and does more than just endless crime (which is what Sofi does). I do like BitLife, even though I no longer play it as much as I did at the beginning when I heard of this game. I have an impression that BitLife is getting worse now, but it’s still fun to play once in a while. And I know people who are much more into it and have played a lot more than I do. I haven’t even completed any of the official challenges, I’d rather do my own thing. I like to think of what sort of character I want to play and who I want them to be and what I want them to do, and then play that character over the course of a couple of months. Of course there’s only so much you can do In BitLife, but I like to imagine that character’s life in more detail and think about motives behind their various decisions and try to go into their head while living their life. And then I like to live their child’s life, and then their child’s child’s life and so on and have a little saga of my own creation kind of. I’ve had one family which went on for 16  generations. Oh and I love naming kids in BitLife, I once had TWENTY babies (playing a man) and I relished being able to name all of them. That wouldn’t be quite so fun in the real world when I’d actually have to raise all those children. But I think that there’s one thing that Sofi is incomparably better at me in BitLife. Not counting things like burglary which don’t seem to be properly accessible or I don’t get it. This thing is winning money on horse races. Sofi gets it right most of the time and I have no idea how she does it, but she does! I wonder if she has the same luck in real life. 

   Uh, no, I’m not going to come up with ten! Actually, to be honest with you, I was only able to come up with the first two, and then I had to ask around and enlist my Mum’s and Sofi’s help, but even they weren’t able to come up with as much as ten. As my Mum stated, ten is a lot! But, so is eight, isn’t it, and I think I’ve made up for this with that I’ve elaborated on each of the things on this list. . 

   What things are You good at? List how many or few you want. 🙂 

Question of the day (18th December).

What weird word or phrase does your family say but nobody else would understand? How did it come to be?

My answer:

Gosh, we use tons of weird words or phrases in my family. I really love word play and so does my Mum, so we create a lot of inside slang and neologisms and stuff. Sofi or my Dad aren’t huge wordsmiths overall, but still like it to and with Sofi we have a lot of words that only we know what they mean, or rather, people do know what they mean because they’re just normal words but we use it to mean something totally different, and my Dad does create a lot of weird, very peculiar-sounding neologisms too which he often claims are legit Kashubian words but upon research it always turns out they’re not. He also has such weird behaviour that sometimes he’ll hear a word that will stand out to him for some reason, for example because it’s new to him, and then he’ll repeat it over and over and over again with no context, and sometimes over time such word will gain some new meaning for us. For example he once watched the film The Great Gatsby, and then would be saying “The Great Gatsby” all the time for a day or so, and in the end for some reason me and Sofi ended up adopting the phrase to mean something like never mind. Olek doesn’t have such inclinations, but he’s always the first to understand weird language-based jokes and such.

To give you some more specific examples, Sofi is very uncomfortable when it comes to talking about all things sexual, even though my Mum isn’t this sort of person who would discourage healthy discussion about it or who wouldn’t make her children aware of the birds and the bees when it seems appropriate. Sofi’s repulsed by all that but at the same time interested in learning about various things to do with sex, and the weirdest thing is that, if ever she does want to talk about it, ask questions and stuff, the only person she seems comfortable doing that with is me, and she says she is really embarrassed to talk about it with Mum despite Mum definitely encourages her. I say it’s weird because, well, unlike my Mum, I don’t have any practical experience in the field, so I always tell her that she should talk about it to Mum, but she doesn’t want to. Sometimes I think I should seriously consider becoming a couples’ counsellor or something like that, because people often come with things like that or their relationship problems to me when I have no idea about it because like I often say I’ve never even dated or anything. 😀 So anyway, Sofi has a problem even with the word sex, and other words around this topic like body parts, and it seems like her embarrassment about using them is part of why she finds the topic so difficult to talk about. So I figured the best way to get rid of at least that part of the problem is to change the words. It certainly doesn’t work in all situations and circumstances, but I felt that it would here and it does, though it doesn’t get rid of all Sofi’s problems, of course. So we started creating our own, new, unique sexual vocabulary. The process was really simple, and funny. We got a random and would open it at some random word, and then from then on that would be the word we used instead of some specific sex-related word, if we both agreed that it worked well and fit. Some are really crazy, for example for sex itself, we use the word biel which means whiteness in Polish, and the crazy part about it is that I often go by Bibiel so it sounds very similar. 😀 For vagina, we drew the word jabłko, which means apple, except in the end we use the word jabłco more often, which is like the opposite of a diminutive. I guess there’s no such phenomenon in English but in Polish we not only have diminutives but also an opposite thing which is used to make something sound either pejorative, or bigger than standard, or sometimes also kinda affectionate but in a sort of rougher way than when you’re using a diminutive, or just plain funnier. For us, it’s about that last thing. We made that whole vocabulary thing up before either of us had any Apple products, but even now that we do, we still use this word because Sofi got used to it, and sometimes things get quite hilarious. We also use it in other contexts now, not just to mean the actual vagina, but for example we’ll sometimes say to each other: “Shut up your apple” when we don’t really care what the other has to say, but it’s more good-humoured and teasing rather than insulting despite the way it sounds.

Also, since we’re talking about sort of intimate or taboo or politically incorrect vocabulary, we’ve invented something else quite recently, about a month ago when we had that wave of sickness go through our house. Maybe goofiness is another symptom of Covid, or maybe we were just too bored or something. But we sometimes just do have phases like that. 😀 Namely, our Dad said that someone was an asshole, and then Sofi had some weird musings that she shared out loud, about how it’s okay to use vulgar words in a derogatory way (specifically dupek (which means asshole in Polish) for men and pipa (which means pussy) for women, but it would sound a lot more inappropriate if you called someone an anus or a vagina or something like that). That made my Dad and me laugh and my Dad said that if we’d use anus (odbyt in Polish) for men, then rectum (odbytnica in Polish) would sound more appropriate for women and we bot had a fit of giggles. And then we started using these words and calling each other that and Dad happily joined because he really has some weird liking for using neologisms of his own creation that sound like horrible insults to refer to his loved ones in what’s meant to be an affectionate way. 😀 In fact, Dad seemed to have most fun with it. After a few days, however, we naturally stopped using rectum for some reason and we all referred to each other as anuses, regardless of gender. It was only for a few days until we got bored of this, but in the meantime we used that a lot and Mum looked at us as if we were crazy. I was thinking what would someone from the outside think if they just came to us and sat quietly and observed things, and hear our Dad come to us yelling excitedly: “Yo what’s up, little anuses?!” and me respond phlegmatically: “Nothing, giant anus”. They’d probably feel like involving social services or something. 😀 I think if Dad wouldn’t get so excited about it, we might have ended up using it more between each other with Sofi, but he talked like that ALL the time so it became boring and rather childish for the two of us very quickly.

Other than that, I actually already wrote a post on that same topic three years ago, specifically on a phrase “without cheese” that we use, and you can read this post

here.

How about you and your family, or other people you mingle with a lot? 🙂

Question of the day.

What’s difficult to explain, but easy to understand?

My answer:

A lot of language stuff, imo, is fairly easy to apply in practice but freakishly difficult to explain in theory. I know I am terrible at explaining language, or so it seems, and so it always irks me when people assume that just because you know a language, you can teach it to other people. I think knowing/being able to do something doesn’t automatically mean you’re able to teach it to others. It shows particularly well if you try to help someone learn your native language when you actually have no experience of how to teach it to non-natives. It seems easy because, well, you know the language, but it’s not. It’s freakishly difficult to explain things to someone for whom it’s just not intuitive yet how your language works. I suppose it might particularly be a problem for me because I tend to learn a bit differently than people do in conventional language schools and stuff. I learn my own way and I comprehend things my own way, which doesn’t have to be right for everyone and which is difficult to explain to other people who are outside of my mind. By my own way, I mostly mean that I don’t really focus on theory so much. Like, in normal schools and many language schools, there’s so much emphasis on grammar, and more often than not, it’s done in a very theoretical way, like rather than just learning grammar through practice and exposure and noticing different patterns in it and stuff, there’s all the notetaking about what present simple is and how it’s used and then memorising it along with example sentences, and then doing exercises in a textbook which consist of filling the blanks in sentences with correct grammar forms or place the words in the right order to make a logical-looking sentence. To me, that’s quite boring. Also, when I was going to school, I seriously struggled with all these theoretical definitions. And it made me a bit concerned that perhaps something is wrong with me and that I’m not doing something right. After learning some grammar structure at school, I usually didn’t have huge problems using it properly, though of course I’d make mistakes sometimes like any non-native and I still do, but remembering the whole theory thing… nah, it was always rather abstractive to me. Even now, if you asked me about what is, say, a subjunctive, or even how articles work in English, I may have a problem explaining it, but if it’s some structure that I’ve become sufficiently familiar with, I’ll be able to apply it in practice anyway. I used to think it’s weird and perhaps just another example of how quirky my brain is and how it so often doesn’t do things the normal way. It was only when I started to try and help non-natives learn Polish language when I realised that, in a way, perhaps my way of perceiving and learning/absorbing grammar is better, because it looks a bit more like how natives perceive their language and thus I guess is a bit more natural. Inn Polish, we have something called reflexive verbs, and one guy who was learning Polish and with whom I was penpalling asked me if I could help him figure out how that works. Well, except… I don’t know… I just use them, and I know that I use them right, because it feels right, and any other way would feel wrong. I tried my best to help him out but writing all that down in theory seemed so infinitely more complicated than it actually is. I don’t need to know the definition of a reflexive verb in the Polish language to be able to use one and know when to use one etc. I highly doubt that there are many people in Poland who aren’t linguists, teachers or real huge language geeks or something like that who’d know what reflexive verbs are at all, let alone be able to clearly explain to someone how they work, just like people in the Anglophone countries don’t memorise all the irregular verbs because they just know how to use them. Because, of course, we acquire our native languages through constant exposure to them, rather than studying textbooks and memorising definitions. By that, I’m not saying that studying textbooks when learning a foreign language is total bullshit, I do it too (assuming I have access to such things as textbooks in a specific language, I don’t have any Welsh ones for example and I don’t really feel the need to) just that, if you base solely on a textbook, it’ll never become natural. Also, unfortunately you can’t just acquire a new language as an adult, or not nearly as easily as a small child would, even with a lot of exposure and practice, but for me personally, observing how the language is used and thus getting concrete examples, is more intuitive, and far more interesting, than basing primarily on dry, often long-winded and full of exceptions to the rules textbook definitions, and it clearly gives me more than the dry learning, given how insanely fast my English started progressing as soon as I started self-teaching and distanced myself a bit from the way I was being taught at school. I also often try to help Sofi with her English homework, but I always end up exasperated at all the boring theory in there they have to digest and all the silly exercises. No wonder that the poor kid hates English. 😀

What is such thing in your opinion? 🙂

Question of the day.

Do you ever fill out sudoku, crossword puzzles, or word finds for fun?

My answer:

I really love playing with words and that includes word games but I actually don’t play them very often or if I do, it’s most often just in my brain. There are a lot of accessible word games in English, but I haven’t come across any in Polish, though perhaps I just haven’t looked deep enough. I don’t think I’ve ever played sudoku at all, for example. Crossword puzzles I don’t play on my own, but often when someone in my family is playing they’ll ask me for help and I’m happy to join in. My grandad also loves playing with words and is a real crossword puzzle maniac and back when we lived in the country and shared the backyard with my Mum’s family I’d often do them with him and he would always get real mad and sulky when I solved something quicker than he did. He would also give me some random challenges, inspired by something he was thinking about, like, what word has three ó’s in it? And then I’d be thinking for hours, steam going from my brains. Ever since I was a relatively young child, whenever I’d go somewhere with Mum that involved waiting, like to the doctor or something, or on long rides, and especially if any other of my siblings was there too, my Mum would encourage us to play things like anagrams or creating as many different words as possible from one given word, to kill the time. She’d find a word on some sign or something and we’d have to make up anagrams from it if there were any or think of as many words as possible that could be made with the letters in this word. It’s a good distraction indeed and I particularly liked it because I would usually find more words than my siblings or often even than my Mum and they’d get frustrated cus there were no words left for them lol. Sofi doesn’t like this game because she claims it’s impossible to play without writing down the word. But there’s something in my brain that makes it very automatic for me to analyse words kind of in the background and I do it nearly all the time so it’s easy for me. When Sofi’s really bored, she still likes to play the alphabet game with either Mum or me and it’s fun, especially if you have lots of challenging categories.

Now that I have my iPhone, I’ve also started playing some English-language word games, but because English isn’t my first language and my vocabulary in it is limited and also not quite as deeply rooted as Polish, I’m not quite as good at it, and it sort of frustrates me because I’m used to being very good at these things. I’ll play these games sometimes when I have nothing to do and need some distraction. Currently I have three word games on my phone which are Ordet (where you get some random letters and have to create as many words as you can using them), 7 Little Words (which has word puzzles but they’re not exactly crosswords), and Blindfold Words From Words (which is much like what Mum played with us – you’re given a word and have to create as many different words from it as you can, this game is no longer really developed but was made by a developer who did all sorts of equivalents of popular games for the blind, but that could also be played by sighted people).

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

I have to…

My answer:

…Well, nothing surprising here as for me. The thing that I have to do in the most immediate future, soon after I write this post, is my Welsh learning, which I’m going to do for about half an hour because today it’s mostly just going to be repetition. You could say that it doesn’t necessarily count as something I “have to” do, and more like something I just want, but in this particular case I think it’s both because when I love a language I just hardly have a choice, so I guess we can use these words interchangeably. 😀

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

We haven’t had questions of the day in a LOOONG time, as I was sick with bronchitis, so I thought let’s do a little bit of a general question today, and maybe for the next few days, except this time they won’t be in the form of questions, but rather blanks to fill in. Here’s the one for today:

I am thinking about… well, mostly it’s hard to tell what I’m thinking about at the moment, because my brain’s simply buzzing away with all the Norwegian I’d just been exposing myself to. 😀 I know, it’s the middle of the week, and I said I am going to do Welsh on week days, and Norwegian on weekends, because I already know quite a fair bit of Swedish so Norwegian isn’t as demanding for me as Welsh is, but I already did my Welsh in the morning, and the Norwegian exposure I had today wasn’t part of my usual learning routine, I just came across some children’s stories in this language and ended up reading a few because they were written in a way that seemed a bit weird to me (guess just older language than what I’m used to or maybe some dialect that I hadn’t come across yet) but I was surprised and intrigued that despite the weirdness I was able to figure out enough to understand the plot quite well. Nevertheless, I’m not really used to reading in Norwegian for as long as I did, so now I’m more like processing rather than thinking about anything specific. 😀

One thing that I *am* sort of thinking about right now, though more in the background, is the bouts of illness we’ve been having in this house for a while now. For Mum, Olek and me, it’s nothing new at this time of year (autumn-winter season) because this is when all of us change into real mucus factories. My Mum gets her episodic asthma and coughs incessantly until spring, and Olek gets his sinus problems which don’t last quite so long but seem to be really annoying while they do. Then there’s me and right now my situation is the best in our little phlegmy club, probably because it used to be the worst and I had my fair share of mucus adventures when I was younger whereas for them it has only started out properly as adults, especially for Mum. The way it works for me is that, pretty much ever since I was born, or at least ever since I remember, I would very regularly get bronchitis. Like, I couldn’t get sick with a normal cold, flu or stuff, it always had to be bronchitis. A lot of doctors, whenever they diagnosed me with it, said it must have not been “treated properly” the last time I had it so it came back, so I was often wondering how come no one knows how to treat it properly. I would always get some kind of antibiotic, sometimes two or three, one after another, and then it would go away and come back next year, or sometimes even after a few months. At some point I just got used to the fact that I got that weird thing once or twice a year where I first got a really sore throat and impressive amounts of snot, then would go really hoarse for a few days and sounded as if I’d been smoking longer than I’d been alive, and then all the snot would gradually go down into my airways and make me phlegmy and wheezy. As a small kid I often got fever with that and felt very ill, but as I got older, aside from the sore throat, coughing for weeks or sometimes months and the discomfort related to being filled with gunk I felt absolutely fine and would just go to school and do everything as normal, and everyone figured I just am like this and that if I feel okay and don’t get fever or anything it’s probably more like allergy thann actual bronchitis though my usual allergy meds only worked so-so. It always took really long to develop, and it frustrated me and my Mum that despite that, there didn’t seem to be any way to nip t in the bud before it developed properly. I still haven’t found a way to do that even though things are much better these days. Sometimes some people who saw me not very regularly assumed that coughing up mucus and wheezing must be my normal, everyday state lol. I remember one volunteer in particular who worked in our boarding school group and it happened so that she only came during autumn for a few years in a row, and she was so worried about me and was like: “Gosh, are you always ill like this?” 😀 At some point in my teens I suppose my system had enough of that and I got really ill with high fever and feeling weak and like absolute crap so that I had to go home and stayed there for a few months. My Mum was really worried because I apparently also looked like I was really ill and she was afraid it must be something really serious but every doctor kept saying it’s just allergy or just bronchitis. Finally we ended up finding an allergist who took a real good look at my phlegmy history, and then later on also at my other family members’ more or less similar issues, and he figured that yes, it is bronchitis, but, from what I understood, it’s something based on asthma, which I had no idea I had, and this bronchitis thing is simply the only manifestation of asthma that occurs for me, which apparently classifies it as episodic, although my Mum was also diagnosed by him with episodic asthma but hers looks a lot different so I suppose there can be very many faces to episodic asthma. So he gave me some different antibiotic for that and totally different allergy meds that I was to take only during these episodes, and suddenly I was all fine within two weeks. Then for the next couple years I kept getting it real bad with fever and everything but used more or less the same medication regimen and it would last shorter and shorter and be milder and milder every year. Finally when I had it two years ago I didn’t even need the antibiotic anymore and last year I didn’t have the bronchitis at all. So I was actually a little bit surprised and bummed when it came back again a few weeks ago as I thought maybe finally it had been “treated properly” for good. I actually got a bit freaked out, because my allergist has now retired and doesn’t work anywhere anymore, so I was scared what I’ll do if it gets really bad again and that it will be a lot of hassle filling someone else in who doesn’t know my history that well and isn’t quite as flexible with things. I did feel real crappy and weak for quite some time and sleep was the only thing I felt like doing, and even had fever for the first few days, but my respiratory symptoms were really really mild compared with all the previous times, I didn’t even have almost any cough as such at all, so I just took all the meds I usually take for the bronchitis excluding the antibiotic and ate a lot of things that help to reduce mucus and tried not to get too close with Misha (officially I am allergic to cats, which is normally very mild for Misha probably thanks to my autosuggestion but when I’m sick with this thing I try to be cautious and don’t let him into my bedroom or anything, but it didn’t seem like he was too upset about that) and it’s almost all cleared out now, and I’m feeling great. Meanwhile my poor Mum keeps coughing, and now it’s her who gets weird comments and questions from people: “Wow, are you sick still, or again?” “Covid, eh?” “Have you tried…?”

Just as I started recovering, it was my Dad who got sick and he claimed he caught it from me. I’m not really sure it’s possible if my bronchitis is asthma-based or something for someone else who doesn’t have asthma to catch it, but, like, what do I know. Also my Dad doesn’t belong to the phlegmy club normally, it’s just the three of us. Unfortunately he had to work the first few days of his illness, but then thankfully managed to get along with his colleague with whom they work shifts that he’ll take over until Dad recovers properly which is really great. Then over the weekend things actually got worse with him, he now has real bad sounding, chesty cough and is just overall not feeling well. He was tested for Covid, because he said he had something wrong with his sense of taste, but it came negative. So yesterday Mum drove him to the doctor, and, surprise… it’s bronchitis. 😀 Mum and me still doubt that it’s mine that he caught, he probably just has your usual bronchitis that normal people get sometimes. He’s now on an antibiotic and keeps feeling really miserable as far as I can tell based on the very miserable cues he’s sending. Today Mum figured that she could do cupping for him, she usually does that when anyone in the family is sick with a cold or something similar. But then she forgot that there was an online parents’ meeting for Sofi’s class so she had to be there. My grandad had finally taught me how to do cupping last year, which was a very stressful process but now I feel relatively confident doing it, so when I did my Norwegian and saw what the situation was I offered that I could do it for Dad, and both Mum and he were happy with that so I did. So that’s why I’m now thinking about all that illness stuff. I really hope Dad recovers quickly, because so far for the last few days it doesn’t seem like he’s been doing any better.

So, how about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

What took you an embarrassing amount of time to figure out?

My answer:

Maybe not as much as embarrassing, but it took me quite long anyway and now I consider it funny, namely all the weird assumptions I had about some things in English. For example, even when I was already a reasonably good English speaker, I thought some words were pronounced different than they actually were, or that some words or phrases mean something different than they actually do. I can’t think of very many such things at this very moment but there have been quite a few and some pretty hilarious. I’m thinking maybe I’ll have to compile a list of such things whenever I’ll be reminded of them and then I’ll share it on here. 😀 Like, for ages I had no idea how the word queue is pronounced, and I pronounced it like CUE-wee. 😀 I think even some five years ago I still pronounced it like that. And I think I already wrote about it on here that, for the longest time, I thought niche was pronounced nee-SHAY, much like cliche is pronounced in Swedish and also apparently in English. 😀 As for cliche, I’m still not perfectly sure what syllable should be stressed in this word as I’ve heard both people who pronounce it as CLEE-shay, as well as such who say clee-SHAY, maybe it’s an accent thing, dunno. Oh, and now I’m remembering that it was only when I started having lessons with my English tutor before finals, he enlightened me that deaf is pronounced DEF rather than DEEF. 😀 At that point I was already immersing myself in spoken English a lot, nearly all the time, but must have not heard that word actually spoken before but now that I think of it it’s kind of weird that I wouldn’t have figured that out earlier since dead for example is also pronounced with a short eh rather than an ee. As far as phrases go, I used to think that if you’re cracked up means you’re depressed, kind of as in, you’re quite sad to begin with and then something else happens and it “cracks you up” and you’re properly devastated, something along these lines, when in fact it means to burst out with laughter. And like I said there have been many more things like this but I just can’t think of anything else at the moment.

You? 🙂

Sandra Lyng ft. Morgan Sulele – “Ta Me Dit” (Take Me There).

Hiya people! 🙂

For a bit of change, today let’s listen to some very normal, Norwegian pop. I heard this song for the first time some week ago and it seems to be quite sticky because it stuck to my brain for quite some time afterwards, and I think it’s cool so why not share it. Both Sandra Lyng and Morgan Sulele are very successful, and quite recogniseable in Norway as it seems, singers. Sandra’s fame started when she took part in the Norwegian Idol in 2004, she also lived in Los Angeles for a while during her career and collaborated with American artists. I have already featured one song by Morgan Sulele called “Noora” some three years ago.

Since as you may know I’ve been kinda sorta learning Norwegian lately, I decided to try and translate the lyrics. It turned out to be a bit challenging, but not too challenging, and interesting, because while Morgan appears to be from somewhere around Oslo, Sandra’s dialect is one that I haven’t had much exposure to before. She is from a town called Mosjoen, in the Vefsn municipality, and although I’m still not very well-oriented in the Norwegian geography and am learning things, basing on some bits from her dialect it must be somewhere in the north. I have had contact with nordnorsk (northern Norwegian) but mostly from like Finnmark or thereabouts, and some features of Sandra’s dialect were quite new to me. I found the verbs particularly puzzling ’cause when they’re in present tense sometimes they look more like infinitives to me, or something yet different, and sometimes they do look like what I’d consider proper Scandinavian verbs in present tense. 😀 I wonder if it’s the dialect thing or the music thing, like how sometimes things don’t necessarily have to be grammatically correct in songs. Then there’s the word “me”, which struck me immediately since it’s in the title, I’d always thought northerners pronounce this as ma. Yet she pronounces it mostly as me, and then once or twice I think I heard it as ma. That just confirms my initial belief that Norwegian is freakishly inconsistent. 😀 It’s interesting because I’ve heard quite a few ways to pronounce this word (which in standard Norwegian is spelled meg and pronounced MY) but I don’t think I’ve heard “me” before. Norwegian is so fascinating in its diversity. Anyways, I found another

English translation

which, while kind of clunky itself, helped me to clarify the thing with verbs so that I could make my own translation, which I hope isn’t too bad though since I’ve only been learning Norwegian for a few months there could be some huge mistakes that I don’t even realise.

 

Dark night

Hunting for dreams

Dry, cold

No one is speaking now

Tomorrow will come, but it isn’t coming now

Thinking she will escape again, but no place to go

For no one can take the hope from her

Take me there

Where the sun always shines

Take me there

Where the love wins

Take me there

To a place where there is no shadow

Take me there

Take me there

He doesn’t dare go

Though the day is over now

Because he knows that mother is home and he knows that she is crying now

And if he comes home too late again

A fully deserved punishment is waiting

So now he must go home because the day is over now

Take me there

Where the sun always shines

Take me there

Where the love wins

Take me there

To a place where there is no shadow

Take me there

Take me there

When it’s raining, can you take me with you

To another place where everything is good

When it’s raining, can you take me with you

To another place where everything is good

Take me there

Where the sun always shines

Take me there

Where the love wins

Take me there

To a place where there is no shadow

Take me there

Take me there

Question of the day.

What phrase do you absolutely hate?

My answer:

There are surely ones that I hate more than this one, but what came to my mind first is a sort of weird saying that we have in Polish that I have no clue why people use it, and more importantly, what sort of response or reaction do they expect to it. 😀 I’ve no idea if there’s an English equivalent, but I hope there’s none. It basically says that it’s only the guilty one or the culprit who explains himself. It’s not only freakishly nonsensical and annoying, but also potentially super harmful when used in more serious situations. Thankfully, it’s mostly used in very casual situations and is supposed to be like a joke or something playful, kinda teasing, but still, it can sometimes create a rather puzzling situation sometimes where the person at the receiving end is basically stuck. If you make up weird sayings, at least go an extra mile and make up some clear script that the other person could follow. Good thing that the law doesn’t work this way. 😀 If someone accuses you of something and you don’t defend yourself, they’ll say that you’re probably guilty after all if you don’t even have a good excuse. If you do explain yourself, they’ll say that only guilty people do it. So, I seriously wonder, what a non-guilty person is supposed to do in the situation? I see though that more and more people are realising how stupid this is so maybe it’ll die out at some point.

What’s your phrase? 🙂

Question of the day.

What would you wish for if there was a genie who would grant your one wish?

My answer:

I would want to speak all “my” languages fluently, as fluently as possible, without having to learn them, especially the basic stuff when you hardly know anything at all in a language yet and you have to learn absolutely everything. A lot of people think that if I keep learning and learning and learning languages I must really like it, as in, the process of learning. But in fact I don’t. I think actually using a language is way more interesting, so if I could just acquire a language on the same or higher level of fluency that I’d be able to achieve via learning consciously, I’d take it, so I could use more time on actually using and sort of consuming the language rather than learning it. I mean, I’d probably still have to learn some things, even natives do, but this kind of learning doesn’t really feel like learning and is far more interesting when you already have a firm grasp of a language. Also learning of some of “my” languages, the less commonly spoken ones, is a pain with the whole practical side of learning, like how you’re supposed to do it, where you get the resources from, where do you practice and with whom, especially if you don’t live in the area where the language is spoken and even more especially if you’re blind so accessibility of things can be limited or there can be other obstacles on the way like lack of speech synths for a specific language or having to learn a Braille alphabet of every single language if you want to read Braille in them like I do. So that would be just extremely cool!

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

What’s something people don’t worry about but really should?

My answer:

There are lots of such things that come to my mind but one that I thought I’d write about is extincting languages. On one hand it’s totally subjective because I love language and it’s so sad to think that we’ve already lost so many languages and so many are on the way to be lost and discriminated against or something that it’s kind of weird for me to think that most people don’t really care. 😀 But second, our languages are part of our heritage as humans, part of our history and our identity, so that’s why I think we should really be more concerned about it collectively than we are, because with each language that dies it’s like a piece of our collective history as humans sort of falls off and then it’s quite difficult to put it back in place even if you try, especially in a way that looks natural.

What’s such a thing in your opinion? 🙂

Question of the day (26th September).

We haven’t had any questions of the day for quite a while, so let’s do some now. 🙂

What do you think is the most annoying piece of current slang?

My answer:

I’m in no position to make any particularly meaningful statements about English slang, given that I’m not an English native, don’t live in an English-speaking country to be able to immerse myself in slang regularly and know what’s current and what’s not, and I don’t really mingle with people who would use a whole lot of slang. Despite I’m very much into language(s) and linguistics and that definitely includes slang, even in Polish I don’t mingle with people who would use loads of it and I’m sure I’m very much behind as I’m quite an alien in general. These days I mostly get an idea about current slang from Sofi and if I like something I incorporate it into my own vocabulary, but Sofi herself doesn’t use a lot of slang and often doesn’t have much of a clearer idea what things are supposed to actually mean. Besides, a lot of what I’m introduced to by her is actually English words or English calques or some other Ponglish stuff, so to me that’s not even slang but normal English words. That’s why I don’t think I can say much about the most current Polish slang either. I guess one thing that annoys me a bit is that overanglicisation of everything that I mentioned. I mean, I absolutely LOVE English language, and for some kids (like Sofi) this way is one of very few of actively learning and actually retaining any English vocabulary, and English has SO many expressions and words that Polish doesn’t have so I too very often have super strong urges to use English words even with monoglots because otherwise it feels like there’s no way I’m going to get my point across and it’s frustrating. I’m not a purist, I don’t hate loanwords when they serve a purpose, and I believe a language is supposed to evolve or otherwise it’s dead, it’s also impossible to have a language with no loanwords perhaps unless it’s a conlang or something else rather artificial like that. But what I’m not a fan of is when the entire nation who has their own language suddenly starts replacing their own, perfectly functional words with foreign words that mean exactly the same, I guess just because the English words sound more trendy or something. Say there’s the word fame, which Polish youth tends to spell fejm which makes more sense with Polish phonetics. And that doesn’t make sense to me because we have our own words which express the same thing, and I’m a bit worried that in more long-term perspective this is gonna do a fair bit of damage to our language and many other languages as obviously it’s not like this process is limited to Polish. It can be funny mixing languages like that, I also often like throwing some English or other words into a Polish utterance for fun or expressive effect or because I like their sound more or because my brain sometimes just makes me do it for some not easily explicable reasons, but when it’s something more permanent and on a more collective level and we all speak like this ALL the time, like I said, gets slightly worrying. Also sometimes I have an impression that with some words those kids don’t even exactly understand the English meanings of those words, so I wonder if it isn’t a bit like that for every kid or teenager those English words mean something a bit different. For example Sofi claims that the word cringe (or krindż, as she prefers to spell it, which spelling always makes me cringe when I see it ’cause it looks so weird lol, and she pronounces it with an ee as well of course as that’s way more natural in Polish) is not so much about something being embarrassing in a disgusting, awkward or uncomfortable way but more in a hilarious way. I think something cringey certainly can be hilarious, but in her definition it’s a primary thing. Or maybe the Polish definition of krindż just really is different than the English definition of cringe.

Another thing which I guess could be classified as slang is acronyms and more exactly what I find grating is using them profusely in spoken language. Like, why?! I understand not having enough space or time or brain capacity to write in lengthy paragraphs, but when you speak in acronyms all the time it feels like you don’t really care about your interlocutor. Even when someone does that all the time in writing, I don’t like it. Sometimes when Sofi reads to me for some reason her texting interactions with her friends, to me it could just as well be some beat box exchange or something, there’s hardly any vowels. 😀 When she overdoses on acronyms while writing with myself or talks to me in acronyms I just go all the way like: “Y dnt u wrt lk a hmn?” (Why don’t you write like a human?). With other people, especially such that I don’t know too well, if I see that they use loads of acronyms without any particular purpose that I could figure out, my brain tends to quite automatically jump to the conclusion that they either don’t really like/struggle to write or aren’t particularly smart unless I have some evidence that challenges such conclusions. Too many acronyms can sometimes really affect the aesthetic feel of a language for me, and as both a linguophile and lexical (among others) synaesthete language aesthetics are important for me.

What’s such a thing(s) that annoys you? 🙂