A letter to my 33-year-old self.

Continuing with the

Letter Writing Challenge

today I am writing a letter to my older – 33-year-old – self.

Dear Bibiel, because I believe that, if you are still there, you are still Bibiel, deep down, aren’t you?

Remember me? I’m your younger self. How’s life going for you right now? What are you doing today? I must say I’m quite curious what you would write to me, but since you have more important things to do at the moment, I assume, I decided to write to you first, and hope to get a response, someday.

I wanted to remind you that, wherever you are at in your life right now, whether you like it and are satisfied with it, or not and are struggling a lot, everything is transient in life. I’m sure you know that better than me but it’s easy to forget about it in everyday life. I also want to remind you about another cliche thing that I’m sure you know, but I want you to never forget it, that no matter where you are, and what people are surrounding you, or maybe you’re alone or lonely, no matter whether you like it or not, what you are doing and what life is like, what is going on with the world and what challenges you are having to face, you have your brain. Use it. You know I am not talking about thinking, although that’s important too especially that we humans seem to be worse and worse at it and get tired of thinking more and more easily, and I don’t expect this trend has changed in the world where you live. I am talking about coping with things. I hope you are surrounded by supportive people, even if it is mostly or exclusively online as is the case with me, and that you are privileged to be able to support other people and do it as much as you can, but even if you do, and especially if you do not, it is important to know that no one will help you more than you can help yourself, and that you can’t rely too much on other people. Your brain is your fortress so do use it, as much as possible, especially when all else fails, and don’t forget about your Brainworld, it is always there.

How is Misha doing?… Does he still live with you or did you move somewhere and leave Misha with your family? I hope that if you live on your own, you weren’t selfish and possessive enough to take him with you, if you did, know that I loathe you for that. Well, unless some miracle happened and you are able to take proper care of him and provide him with all that he deserves. On the other hand I hope you do not live with Zofijka, because as much as she is a sweet kid, I know you would have a very hard life living just with her, or possibly her family, since you both are quite clashy and neither of you would be happy long term. I also hope that you didn’t have to bring your emergency plan into life, if it did have to happen by now, I hope you are managing and have something that brings joy into your life, and that it isn’t as bad as it used to be. At the same time I congratulate you for being a very courageous Bibiel, courageous enough to make it happen and I know it must have been a very difficult decision, and its outcomes are certainly no less difficult. Most of all though, I hope you will never have to do that.

How is your language learning going? I hope you can continue with it and it’s exciting to think that you may be able to speak even more languages than I can. As you may realise, I am in a faza limbo right now, or I hope that this is a limbo, and not the end of everything, as I sometimes feel. Please tell me that it’s not the end, and that you have a faza!

You may also remember, that at the time I’m writing to you, the world is going through the coronavirus outbreak. I’d be curious to hear from you what you think about it, looking back. Were you scared of it at any point? Did it affect you?

Looking forward to hear from you in the future and sending you a little piece of Mishfur, and a little Mishpurrr, with this letter, in case you forgot how it feels and sounds.

Bibiell

*****

I thought I’d clarify one thing in the letter, so that no one has any doubts. One of my readers was concerned that my “emergency plan” was suicide, and after re-reading this, I agree that it is easy to draw such a conclusion. But it was not what I meant, and it isn’t anything dangerous and unsafe. Just something I am not particularly looking forward to, but will do if I have to. I may have a lot of passive suicidal ideations in the background of my brain but I am stable enough at this time in my life that I don’t make active plans or anything like that, and I would definitely trigger warn this post if it was about suicide even indirectly.

 

A letter to my 13-year-old self.

Today starts

10-Day Letter Writing Challenge

and, as I mentioned in the original post that I reblogged earlier today, or rather yesterday as it’s past midnight, I really liked the idea. I have never participated in those kind of challenges where you write every day for a certain amount of time, so I don’t know how it will go and I don’t promise that I will stick to it on my blog, but I do plan to write those letters for sure in my diary because I like to expand it in such ways and not just plain write about my daily life.

Here’s a letter to my 13-year-old self:

Hi Bisbis [Bisbis/Bibiel was the way I used to mostly call myself as a child and teen]

I am your future self, however strange that may sound to you. You may wonder why I am writing to you in English then, and I am sure that it will take you a looong time to figure this letter out, but this will at least improve your English skills and occupy your mind with something interesting for a while. You will need it in the future – the English, I mean. – One day, when life will get better, you will have an English blog. You have heard from people that you have a talent for languages and you sometimes wonder if it is true and what you should do about it, if anything. And you have already learnt some Swedish. I know how painful it is for you that you cannot do it anymore. Please don’t suppress this one thing at least. I think it will be of some comfort to you if I’ll tell you that you will be able to return to your Swedish in future. It will bring you a lot of pleasure and you will also learn to love many other languages, which will make your life feel more purposeful. You will have to thank one of your faza objects for that. Soon after that, you will also find the greatest love of your life (so far at least), whom you will love with all your brain and soul, who will live with you and sleep with you and who will be your best friend. No, obviously I’m not talking about any guy, I’m sure you know it! Nor about a girl, if you’re wondering, or maybe being concerned, hehe. His name will be Misha, not Jacek, and that’s all I’m gonna tell you. Believe me, seriously, the things will not always be the way they are right now, even though it really looks like they will. Change will come sooner than you think, although you will have to get through a lot before it happens, and then learn a lot of things that you might find unpleasant or uncomfortable.

I know that you wrote a letter to me as well, like Emily of the New Moon did to herself, but unfortunately I am not able to read it now and look back at all those things you wanted to know and respond to you properly because you lost it. You do have to learn to be less chaotic. But so far it hasn’t happened. 😀 And I think we agree that being chaotic is more interesting, right? I still like Emily of the New Moon a lot, although not as frenziedly as you. I can assure you that your current dream will come true and that you will change your name to Emilia legally soon after you turn 18. It was a good idea so you don’t have to worry, you were right and I thank you for that.

At this point, I live in a different house than the one that is your family home, but not far away from there, just in a town nearby. It is also big, and you will move in it about 7 years from where you are at, if I’m counting correctly. You will like it here. As we’re talking about counting, I have some bad news for you too. Well, at least for you it will probably sound bad, I feel quite neutral about it and I don’t perceive it as a tragedy or even anything near it. You will not pass your math final exam after high school. Moreover, you will decide not to rewrite it.

There was that man who told you that you won’t fix yourself by studying psychology and becoming a therapist, and you felt offended because he was assuming and implying that something was wrong with you and that you were selfish, and I think you also felt very insecure because you knew he could be on to something. I know that your intentions weren’t selfish at all, but, as you’ll see for yourself later on, he was actually right, in a lot of ways. Because, you do know deep down that it is not normal to feel the way you feel, all the time, don’t you? And you do realise that many things in your life and functioning aren’t the way they should be? Well, you will need time to come to terms with this, and one day you will understand that it is yourself who needs help, before you can give it to others. But also, this is not your fault, as you think and as everyone is making you feel or even telling you, indirectly. I do not like you much more than you like yourself, if I’m being honest with you, but I want you to know that this is not your fault and that some people, even those you seriously wouldn’t suspect to be, are way more selfish than you think, others are clueless. You are clueless too. You will learn and discover some difficult things about yourself and your life circumstances, I am still doing that and in a way it’s getting overwhelming, and so confusing, but you will learn to live and cope with those things you learn about yourself, but also making those discoveries will be helpful, as life and your whole situation will become a bit clearer for yourself and others, and it is always easier to deal with something that you know at least a bit. As I said, life will really get better. Your brain will get better. The mere relief from having to pretend that everything is OK will make a difference. You will find a lot of friends online, not the same ones as you have right now, although I know many of them are cool, and don’t let anyone tell you that online friendships are any less valuable or real or something. You will find very supportive and understanding people with whom you will often have a lot of things in common, in one way or another. I know it feels awful right now but don’t give up just yet. And, while you will still have a deep interest in psychology, maybe even deeper in some ways, I think you will grow out of that idea, and instead you will decide to focus on your languages more. Well, that’s at least what I know now, who knows how things will get in the more distant future. As for more distant future, currently I have no idea how it will go, and it feels somewhat scary even to me, but I am trying to be hopeful because otherwise I would have no right to tell you not to give up, as my life is way easier than yours.

Zofijka is almost your age now and a lot of what you thought she’d be like has come true. She is very bubbly and energetic and talks all the time, and she loves sports and One Direction and currently has become enamoured with Japanese men, and yes, she loves clothes shopping and changes her clothes all the time, but she has a very distinctive style despite being a very average girl in a lot of ways, and you’d be surprised how very mature she is deep down. I think you would like her. Though she is very different from you, and thus very different from me, and so we not always get along.

I really don’t know what else to tell you, other than that there is hope, so I will be finishing, because it’s 2 AM and I feel like I should go to sleep. Yeah, I still tend to write at nights, but now it’s my choice, and not a necessity, and I realise it’s a luxury not only for people like you who feel they lack privacy but most people actually, who aren’t able to manage their time on their own. Ah, and I can tell you that you will live in times of a pandemic, which is happening right now, I guess you’d find that interesting, for example to observe how people are behaving. I find it interesting myself, but while it’s changed our lives all around the world very much, it doesn’t feel scary for myself so far. Maybe just because it is not a norovirus pandemic, haha.

Your future Bibiel self (I no longer call myself Bibiel all the time, only sometimes, you have to adjust to the society at some point, but I still am Bibiel and am loving it no less than you do)

Question of the day.

What is the most useless piece of advice anyone ever gave you?

My answer:

I probably can’t remember what was THE MOST useless one, but my Mum, who can generally be a good advisor, sometimes has given me quite crappy advice, and she seems to be especially crappy advisor when it comes to thinking. Or we just think in very different ways and are not able to imagine the way the other one does. Or my thinking is too strongly impacted by the anxiety and all that shit. Anyway, her best advice for me was: “You just have to stop thinking sometimes. Just switch your brain off for a while”. I asked her if she can seriously switch her brain off on demand, or does it happen randomly. In any case, if that happened to me, I don’t think I’d be particularly happy. My brain can be an uncooperative bitch, and obviously I hate anxiety and overthinking or when my thoughts are racing or other things that my brain is either hyperactive or not efficient enough at doing, but still, I do like my brain, I guess I have a real love-hate relationship with it, and I believe that, since I already have it, it would be a bit nonsense if I wanted to switch it off. I’d be afraid that if I did, I wouldn’t be able to switch it on again, and I don’t want to be a brainless Zombie, that’s way worse than having anxiety, even a lot of it. Yes, I know that some people who meditate can get into such a state that they practically don’t think, and some say it is relaxing and healthy for the mind and soul and all that, but I don’t like the idea at all, and some things about some of such meditative techniques don’t go in line with my beliefs. I did use to try doing some lighter meditation, as well as Christian meditation, but it was always extremely hard for me to focus on. I think I can’t say I have low attention span because I can do quite a few things at once as long as it doesn’t involve being able to coordinate your movements well, but I do have a hard time focusing on thinking about just one thing for an extended period of time, it’s boring and quite exhausting in a way. I just think about a lot of things at the same time always. Another thing my Mum used to say frequently that pissed me off incredibly was: “Don’t think about it”. Yeah, don’t think about the white bear. 😀 I think it is possible to just stop thinking about something if you try hard, but, well, at least for me, it takes a lot of effort, so usually I prefer to distract myself with something productive or do something relaxing rather than force the damn thing out of my brain for all means, doesn’t really pay off, or not for long. But I guess that works for my Mum somehow, because it seems like she frequently deals with negative things by just “erasing” them. Not if they are serious things that require some action, but, to give you an example, you may or may not remember Sasha, the other Russian blue kitty who used to live with us for some weeks. Mum decided to get him very spontaneously, without really thinking it through, what that would mean, for us and for him and for Misha, and we were all elated, everything was arranged literally at last minute, and it was quite a massively selfish act of us to do that and very much on a whim. Then it turned out there were various complications, they didn’t get along with Misha whatsoever, were both awfully stressed out and got sick from it, and Mum got quite depressed about it, I mean it seriously looked as if she was depressed, she would lie with Sasha on the sofa hardly able to do anything and was very dejected and overwhelmed by the whole situation, so very much unlike her. So we had to find a new home for Sasha, when things got really bad. We did, and he seems to have a great family, and we were happy for him that he will have a better life after all, but we were also really sad quite naturally and missed him, and a bit sorry for ourselves. The way my Mum coped with this situation was she didn’t speak about Sasha at all, and didn’t want to hear anything about him, or otherwise she snapped at people, so there was a bit of a taboo in our house for a while. It seemed like she wanted to ignore that he ever lived with us and forget about the whole thing, erase it from her brain and not think about it. And she really seems quite successful at it. I know that people often do it in an unhealthy way, that they try to stop thinking about things and make them disappear this way rather than do something about them, but, as far as I can tell, it is not unhealthy in her case. It is certainly not the way my brain works, though, so for me, that was absolutely useless advice. In the Sasha situation, neither me nor Zofijka wanted that to happen that we would forget about him completely, because despite the sadness, we were also very fond of him and we did want to talk about him and remember him so we did with each other. And while we all can still be sad when something reminds us of him, I think all of us coped and adjusted to the situation to a similar extend, despite applying different measures.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

Do you follow your country’s politics? What do you think about the current political climate?

My answer:

I do have an interest in it and it matters to me, although it’s not like one of my main interests or something that I’d give a lot of thought to every single day or be regularly very worried about the state of things like some people are. I like to be up to date and oriented in the most important things or those that matter to me particularly strongly, and I like to be able to have concrete views on them, but I don’t get FOMO if I sometimes am not up to date and I don’t like to overwhelm my brain with too much news or political speculations every single day because I generally tend to overthink things, and politics is not something I’d have a direct impact on so it’s pointless to ruminate on that overly. My Mum and grandma tend to care about politics so very much which is great in a way, because it’s important to care about your country I think, but on the other hand it’s awful to stress so much over things you cannot really change and catastrophise like my grandma does. I don’t like though when people go for the other extreme – are not involved at all in what’s going on saying that they no have any influence over it, don’t vote and have no real views of their own, but still complain about all that’s going wrong in their country according to them, and selfishly take for granted all that is positive.

As for the political climate, I am really happy that, since the 2015, the party I’ve been supporting ever since I’ve gotten some clearer idea about politics (PiS, or Law and Justice in English), has been in majority government, and that our current President (Andrzej Duda) is of the same political option, as, to put it shortly and simply, since the fall of communism until the above mentioned 2015 Poland has been ruled by “former” communists (from parties like Civic Platform or Polish People’s Party or Democratic Left ALliance), or their children or close relatives. Actually, the first Polish president after the communist period – Lech Wałęsa – who was given Nobel Peace Prize and whom people glorified and authentically perceived as a true statesman and someone who was going to make a real change, was a pawn in hands of the communist government and spied for them, but of course that came up officially only recently. Our current government is far from flawless, as is the situation in Poland, but I don’t think there are flawless politicians anywhere in the world, just as there are no flawless people in general, and, at least for now, I don’t think there is a better option, and they do a whole lot of good, and actually visible, change, even though it’s going slowly, because it takes time to rebuild the country after so many years of inefficient reigns, and some people are complaining about that, including those who actually have voted on them, like my Dad for example, because they seem to think it’s such an effortless process.

How about you? 🙂

Reasons why I’m learning English.

Nearly a month after starting up this blog, I wrote a post about all the

Reasons why I’m learning Welsh

and a year ago, I wrote a similar post concerning my

Swedish.

With each of them I felt like they got quite a bit of interest, so I’m going to continue it this year as well, and write about English. Let’s see how many reasons I can come up with

1.

Isn’t it obvious? English is obligatory in schools in most countries, I guess. Or at least in all countries in Europe. So, you could say I didn’t have much choice. 😀 Before I went to school though, I was already subjected to English thanks to my Godmother, whose English was on a pretty good level for a person growing up in the 80’s (communist period – learning Russian as a second language at school) and not needing English for professional purposes. I guess it’s more common for people about her age or older to learn English now even if you don’t need it for work, but I guess back then in early 2000’s there wasn’t as much pressure yet. I believe she started learning English around college and took private lessons and while she wasn’t and is not fluent, as I said, the degree to which she knew English could feel a bit unexpected, plus she’s very communicative by nature so such people don’t need a whole lot of vocabulary to be understood. Anyways, she taught me a lot of things before I went to school, and one of them was some very basic English vocabulary and a bit of fondness for English, which probably helped me more than I normally realise to remain positive about the language itself even when I started to see that English as a school subject is MEH, and pushed me to learn it anyway. So by the time I reached school, I remember I was actually euphoric when I heard on my first actual day of school that our next lesson is going to be English. I associated it with home and with fun things and I liked it as I said, so I was super happy that I would be able to learn it at school. Sadly, I didn’t have particularly much luck with good English teachers throughout my education. I’m not saying they weren’t competent or anything like that, probably some were more, and some were less, some were very nice, some were very unpleasant, some rather bland, but the great majority of them just didn’t do anything to me more than help me prepare for the necessary tests and exams. Of course I had to learn basics at school and I did, but after that, although I was learning English throughout my whole education, I feel like school didn’t give me much in that respect and I taught myself the most. Neither did school motivate me to learn English, in fact, my first English teacher wasn’t particularly likeable person and I don’t think she cared much if we liked her subject or not. I became disillusioned quite quickly and realised that, while English may be a cool language, the subject is just deadly boring. And my view on that became even stronger when I started to seriously learn on my own and became actively interested in learning English and not just ticking off exercises in the textbook. I don’t think it is solely that I just happened to have bad teachers. I think it’s the case with most people here, and that simply the way language learning and teaching is perceived in our country and the level of English education in our schools is terrible. Basically, unless someone has some extra English classes, or wants to learn on their own or something like that, most people go out of education being barely able to communicate. And since Polish language is way more complex than English, the problem cannot be with people”s brains. People get out of schools with the mentality that they are supposed to speak perfectly, with no grammar mistakes or otherwise someone will kill them, and if they can’t do that, they won’t speak at all, even if they do have enough vocabulary to speak decently. And English lessons are not interesting, or at least they are rarely as interesting and fun as language learning could be. My Sofi writes down tons of words and rules she doesn’t understand, and when someone in her class is thinking independently enough to ask the teacher for some explanation and say that they don’t understand something, the only thing she’ll say will typically be: “*sighs theatrically* Oh my, what do you still can’t understand? It’s easy. You have to practice more at home. How many more times am I going to have to explain it?”. Well, the majority of Sofi’s class go to extracurricular English at a language school. Those who do not, have very bad grades. And I assure you that Sofi’s school is not an exception. But OMG I could rant about education system and terrible attitudes of people towards language learning for ages. 😀 Anyway, I did get the basics of English at school and I’m grateful for that, but that’s all that any school or individual teacher did for my foreign language education. There also was that teacher who was having conversations with me for a year in preparation for my final exams, and admittedly he helped me to feel a bit more confident in speaking, and most certainly contributed to the fact that I got 100% from oral English,but not much else, although I hoped he would be able to teach me some new things. He was most keen on talking about himself though. 😀

2.

Because English is everywhere. That’s why I kind of feel for English natives. On one hand it’s so cool when you can go almost anywhere in the world, read almost anything you want and not have to make the effort of translating, understanding or learning another language. But on the other hand, people miss out on so much when they don’t learn a new language, and when everyone speaks your language, what motivation can you have to do that? So it’s a bit unfair on the English-speaking folks and only for their sake I wish we had some artificial or dead language to use internationally, rather than deprive a certain group of people – a large group of people – from the benefits of learning a language and developing their brains even more. Anyways, the rest of us does have to learn English if we want to have a somewhat broader perspective on the world. Internet is huge and you can read a lot in it, do a lot with it and learn a lot, but Polish-language part of the Internet seems so mini mini compared to English. I wouldn’t be able to do so many things that I do if I didn’t speak decent English. I wouldn’t be able to restore my synths, to give you a recent example, haha. My Mum tells me that about once a week “You’re so lucky that you speak English” or “I’d like to know half of your English”, so I am constantly reminded that I should be grateful for that, and that I was given enough determination to learn it myself, and, more than determination, just plain luck, because I don’t really feel like I made some huge effort with my English, from some point on it just came to me on its own, I guess via a lot of exposure. But perhaps not everyone can be that lucky, or not everyone can make use of it or realises it. Some people like my Mum constantly complain that they can’t speak English but when you actually confront them about it “So why won’t you try to learn it?” they will have tons of arguments, including that they are too old, too stupid, too busy, too lazy, don’t have a talent (there’s no such thing as talent for learning languages unless you want to have a native accent, you just have to find the right method for yourself and that can be tricky) to name a few.

3.

Because I plain like it. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I didn’t like English though. Would I still be so keen on learning it? My experiences with other languages show that not necessarily, because my effects at it seem to be strongly correlated with my feelings for it. I can’t quite imagine learning and being good at Esperanto for example, even if it was the international language. Of course I would learn it at school if need be, and would continue it if I really needed it, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be anything more than average. I was learning German at school (and I like German more than Esperanto, because I don’t like Esperanto at all) and, unless I put a lot of conscious effort into learning it, I was just having rather mediocre results, and forgot most of it very quickly after finishing my German education, even though I did have an ambitious plan to continue learning it on my own, but that just went out the window before it started properly.

But I do like English, and I do like the culture surrounding it, the diversity of its accents, which we don’t have in Polish, and – what I’ve mentioned in both Swedish and Welsh posts, I feel a kind of bond with the nations speaking my favourite languages. English is also the most boring of my languages because it’s so mainstream-y and it’s everywhere and it spoils the experience massively, but still, it’s so cool and so rich!

4.

Because it can serve as a bridge to the whole Celtic world for me. Of course English is used in Britain and all its Celtic regions, and as a Celtophile it’s very important to me. It helps me to develop my Celtic passions and discover more about all the Celtic stuff, the folklore, the languages, the people…

5.

Because it enables me to meet interesting people whom I wouldn’t be able to meet otherwise. As well as like-minded people. Actually, the most development of my English skills is largely due to all of my pen pals. With some of them I’d onnly written for a while, more or less short, but with some I have developed great connections and friendships and I am so thankful for that.

6.

Because it helps me with blogging, and generally expressing myself. I used to blog in Polish for years but it wasn’t quite as fun as it is now. I feel like I can be more candid about a lot of things on my English blog and that it was one of my better ideas in my whole life to start an English blog. It works both ways – my English learning makes my blogging better, and my blogging stimulates my English learning in an incredibly effective way. – As for expressing myself, since my English skills have improved so dramatically over the last few years due to a lot of exposure, penpalling and blogging, I also write my diary mostly in English. I’ve written frequently about that I find each language useful for different kind of writing, and that it also corresponds with different kinds of emotions for me. I will write about the specific emotions of English in a while, but first, I want to say more generally that I find it much easier nowadays to express myself emotionally in English. Where feelings are concerned, but also more specifically, any kind of mental health difficulties, especially more complex stuff, somehow it’s much easier to put it in English. I’ve come to the point where sometimes it’s easier for me to find words describing some things in English, rather than in Polish, and what I want to say sounds more clunky in Polish. 😀 The emotions that in my synaesthetic view correspond particularly strongly with English are especially love, pain, sarcasm, playfulness, sadness, emptiness, anxiety, comfort, passion, euphoria and loneliness.

7.

Because it has enabled me to build a more stable support network and become both more aware of my mental health struggles, as well as deal better with them. Again blogosphere and penpalling have helped me immensely with that. Previously, I couldn’t really say I felt free to talk to anyone about what I was experiencing. Partly because I didn’t really understand it myself but also because I simply either didn’t feel like I could trust them, or I knew they wouldn’t understand. Now, thanks to my English, I have found a lot of people who have similar experiences to me or even if they don’t, they are still very supportive and I want to support them as well, and I feel like I’ve made more meaningful connections with people even though they are just online. All this keeps me motivated to develop my English further, and actually makes it develop on its own because obviously the more you use a language, the more it develops.

8.

Because there’s lots of great music in English and I want to know what it’s about.

9.

Because then I can be helpful to my immediate family who are all practical monoglots and sometimes need to translate something from English. Especially my Dad who is a tanker driver, and it’s hard to be a tanker driver and often supply foreign ships with fuel and speak no English. I often don’t have the vocabulary that he needs anyway, but some vocabulary is better than none. At least I can help him how to describe the word he needs to use and then because they are oriented in the field, they understand quickly what he wants to say, unless their English is poor too. 😀

10.

Because there are so many cool accents. I’ve already said that, but it deserves a separate mention. I LOVE that feature of English that it’s so rich in dialects and accents! You can tell where someone’s from just by their accent, and here we can’t really do that, or at least not to such an extend as you! Polish language is much more universal. There are several major dialects that are commonly recognisable, but they aren’t many and not many people choose to speak them on a daily basis, and our dialects are mostly different because of specific words that we use in different regions, rather than accents as in pronunciation differences. That doesn’t mean there are none, but an average person who is not a language geek and has no interest in such things will not hear those subtle differences or at least certainly won’t be able to tell someone’s location by them, unless someone’s accent is really super strong and very commonly associated with a specific area which mainly concerns eastern accents that are influenced by languages like Russian or Belarussian or Ukrainian or perhaps Lithuanian. My grandma has roots in all of the above mentioned countries and despite living in the north for years people can usually hear her long and soft vowels and identify correctly and always ask if she’s from the east or something. But that’s a rare case. I consider myself a language geek and the only things I can recognise are those Eastern accents, some subtle things that are specific to Silesia or Lublin area, and some stuff specific to the highlands and that’s it pretty much. This is due to the fact that after WWII people were massively migrating from countryside to towns and moving around different regions, so the accent has unified a lot. I think it’s such a pity. That’s why for some people the whole concept of an accent is a bit out there and they don’t really know what it is in terms of English. For example my Dad asked me not long ago what that whole accent thing is in English, is it about word stress (because that’s what we call akcent in Polish), or that people have some speech deffects or what, hahaha. And for a long time I didn’t get that either. Like how can you hear that someone is from Sheffield or New York or Glasgow or wherever unless they tell you? 😀 I didn’t hear those differences for a long time either. Only at some point one of my earliest English online friends started to teach me about accents and then one day something clicked in my brain and I started to gradually hear them and now I think for a non native I’m pretty good at distinguishing at least the British ones and of course between which one is British, which Australian and which American, though I have a very hard time distinguishing American accents from each other or I can barely recognise English US from Canadian or New Zealand from Australian. With understanding it really depends on how out there someone’s accent is and how quickly they are speaking. I also like to think that my own accent is very good for a non native, and that’s what people have been telling me, both natives and non natives, though I’m sure I do have to have still at least a bit of Polish accent, not that I can hear it myself (I can’t, but you can’t be a good judge of your own accent I suppose), but because I don’t know many people who have just gotten rid of their accent, and also it is not something I am aiming to in itself, because I guess it would feel weird if people couldn’t tell at all that I’m Polish, as if I was a bit less Polish or something and I don’t want that, and I like to imitate different English accents though, while I can speak some kind of US English (or so I believe) I am much better and more comfortable at British and I have more clue about how to imitate different British accents than American ones, especially the of more or less general southern-ish/Rp and more or less general northern-ish. The only British accents that I know that I cannot imitate convincingly are Geordie and Scottish. But being able to fake different accents has come to me much later on and after a lot of immersion and listening, before than my accent was just kind of Ponglish. Now the only Ponglish I can make is the very extreme one, I believe I can’t speak sort of in-between any longer like I used to – with not overly strong but definitely audible Polish accent – it’s either hardcore Ponglish or normal English (with a possible little bit of Polish as I said), and the extreme Ponglish one I use either for making fun of some kind or with Poles who can’t understand my normal, English English otherwise like Sofi. 😀 Playing with accents is so fun.

11.

Because English is so rich in colourful phrases, idioms, sayings and words. I believe that must come from the very wide variety of influences on this language. Polish is a very rich language in this too, but English seems much more than any of the languages I’ve learnt and sometimes it overwhelms me how many brilliant and fascinating words I don’t know how to use yet. Every language has its words that are untranslatable, but English has just so many! Or maybe it’s just my impression? It’s so flexible and you can do so much with it. Swedish is also flexible and you can make a lot with it, but I guess not to such an extent. I really lack some of the English expressions in Polish these days, especially when talking to someone who speaks only Polish. 😀

12.

Because it lets me read more books, and because reading in English is fun. And because I want to read even more in English. I already read most of stuff on the Internet in English, but with books so far the majority of what I read is still Polish, even thoughh there are more and more English ones thrown into the mix.

13.

Because it lets me learn more about my music crushes/fazas. Even if they aren’t English natives. Usually, especially at the beginning of a faza, it’s easiest for me to find info on my crush in English.

14.

Because, apart from helping me to develop my already existing interests, it helps me to build new ones.

15.

Because I can learn other languages through it. Like I do with Welsh right now. It has its upsides and downsides, but if not my English skills, I wouldn’t be able to access Welsh resources that I can.

16.

Because it shares a lot of similarities with other languages. Swedish for example – when I first started it, I was told it’s just a blend of English and German. – It’s very simply put but it’s true to a large degree, and my English and Swedish definitely help each other. Also while English is a Germanic language and Welsh is Celtic, they influence each other so that helps to some extent as well. And I’m going to learn some more Germanic and Celtic languages in the future, so I am sure English is going to be helpful with those too. Both because I am most likely going to learn them through the medium of English, as well as because they share more or less similarities.

17.

To develop my brain. I’ve written on my brain paranoia and wanting to avoid cognitive issues especially in the Welsh post. It’s hugely important to me.

18.

So I can talk to Misha in English or to myself. If you want to read about my experiments with Misha and foreign languages, I recommend you reading the above mentioned posts. Of all the foreign languages, my English is the best, and so I can communicate with Misha the most easily, if I want to talk to him in a language other than Polish. I also think he responds to it the best except for Polish of course, but that could be due to many reasons, including my autosuggestion.

19.

Every language makes your perspective broader, and kind of adds you a new personality. This is just interesting to observe, but is also great in some self-development, or just self-discovery. It’s interesting to see your thinking pathways in Polish vs in English vs in Swedish, for example. It’s interesting to see in which moments and in what kind of situations my thinking switches from Polish to English or back to Polish or to Swedish, or when it’s a mix of all that plus Welsh. I definitely tend to think about more emotional stuff in English, the same as with writing. Recently I’ve even started automatically praying in English. 😀 The first time when that happened, I only realised that I’m praying in English a few minutes after I’ve started, and that was so hilarious. But obviously God is very multilingual so I let my soul and brain pray in whichever language it’s convenient as long as that doesn’t get in the way of prayer itself because for example I think more of how I should put things rather than focus on praying itself and on God. My dreams have been a linguistic mix for years now.

20.

Because it’s fun to have more than one language to swear in. Even though Welsh or Finnish is better for that than English, English is quite bland and cliche I don’t know why, and most people here know the basic words like fuck or shit so it doesn’t feel the same.

 

21.

Because it can help me with anxiety, as well as with depression, see the posts above for details.

22.

To be able to understand at least some slangs to whatever extent possible, as well as dialects and other such interesting language creations.

23.

To have access to English-language media, like radiostations, and actually understand what they are saying, and not just immerse myself in the language as I’d been doing for years.

24.

To challenge my social anxiety. See the posts above for details.

25.

Because it’s easy. So why not?

26.

Because people wouldn’t treat me seriously if I only were learning some endangered, minority languages. I wrote more on that in the Swedish post. But also, even if I spoke Swedish, I guess that still wouldn’t look as serious if I didn’t speak any English. 😀

27.

Because, just like with Swedish, I hope it will be also useful in a more practical way, occupational for example. Who knows.

Yay! I thought there will be less reasons for English because it’s so obvious but there are even more!

If you are a native speaker of English, what do you like it for, or why do you not like it? If you are an English learner, what are your reasons for learning it? 🙂

 

This year so far.

A couple of days ago, the writing prompt at Word of the Day Challenge was

year

and so I decided to write a bit on how this year has been so far for me.

The first thing I immediately think of when thinking of this year are the dreaded tech issues of all sorts, as well as changes. As you know, I had my computer changed, which was planned for months in advance, and was supposed to take place much earlier that I’d finally transition to it but in the end there were a lot of unexpected things happening. At first, the fan in the new computer got broken on the delivery to me, which was back in September of last year. That made it useless but the delivery company decided to cover the costs of a new one for me and then the new one was sent to me not long before Christmas. And just some time around Christmas as you may remember, this one stopped working too, as it turned out later on, also due to the fan being loose, but the ways in which it manifested were so weird and puzzling to everyone that it took a while to figure it out. I had it sent back to the company who helped me with choosing it and setting it up and they fixed it – luckily I didn’t need to buy a completely new computer this time – and then they sent it again back to me. And, surprise – after a few days, some time mid January – the fan was loose again. Obviously this time I didn’t send it anywhere but just my Mum took it to a nearby servicing place but we were scared doing even that ’cause what if such simple transportation will make something else go loose. The guy at the servicing place put it in place more firmly and since then, I’ve had no fan issues thank God and hopefully it will stay this way. As you can imagine, this has been very stressful to me, and made my transition process even more difficult, as it was a rather unwelcome but necessary thing to do for me to begin with, and presenting a lot of small but at the same time significant changes in itself. Not only was it a transition from a laptop to a desktop computer, but also I switched systems and had to stop using or replace a lot of apps I had been using. With all that glitching at the beginning, and such a huge delay, my brain was ruminating like crazy and the whole thing was much more scary than it probably would be in other circumstances. I’ve mostly gotten used to my new computer by now and I like that it’s more efficient than my laptop, and I’m usually quick at learning things, but I still have some getting used to and figuring out to do, especially that, at least for me, learning is one thing, and adapting a completely different one. And to this day, whenever I hear the slightest click or creek inside of it, I freak out that something is loose again, and my tolerance to tech issues is not very high these days haha. After the fan saga has finished though, I was still left without most of my speech synthesisers and had only a few of those I actually own. For some, I lost the licence because in that loose fans havoc there was a lot of major and deep system digging and repairs done on my computer because people didn’t know what was the problem and it looked like a system error. That all led to my licence being irretrievable. As I shared in the last Weekend Coffee Share, I’ve been contacting the company producing those speech synths, who were very unresponsive to begin with, but once they did respond to me things started to happen relatively quickly, and I am happy to announce that yesterday I finally had that remote session with the support guy, the one I was so strangely anxious about, and it turned out my anxiety was not adequate this time round, because it was not only super quick but also – yes – successful! So quick and successful that for a good while I couldn’t believe that it was all OK and was sure something will soon come up and be wrong again. 😀 But now I have my new licence working and my English, Scottish, Finnish, Sami, Faroese and Dutch speech synthesisers. As soon as we were done with that I also wrote their distributors who are closest to me from whom I’ve got my original licence and asked them if they could upgrade my licence to Scandinavian, because I need Swedish voices now (I had had a very good Swedish voice on my laptop but it’s no longer produced and seems like I am not able to activate it anymore so I need to look for something different). But I am so happy I’ve regained so many of my voices and that all my stalking them via email and phone, in English, Swedish and Swenglish which was probably much more stressful to me than to them paid off. 😀

Also, another piece of good news regarding synths is that, it seems like there is a slight glimmer of hope I may yet get back my Jacek synth – the Polish one that I love so much. – I just need to experiment a little bit with something I just discovered and who knows, that would be so cool! I’m still disconsolate that, just like with my Swedish voice, it’s very unlikely I’ll ever get the Welsh one back, and it was very helpful with my Welsh learning, even though I am learning north Welsh and it was south Welsh and that was getting in the way sometimes, but still, it was a lot of help especially with reading longer texts because my own reading in Welsh is still a bit sluggish. On the other hand though, it will probably just motivate me to read more myself even if it will take ages. 😀

Those first two months were also very gloomy and depressive to me. You know that I have dysthymia, so, while the way I feel can often be shitty, externally I am usually rather high-functioning as long as not too much overwhelming stuff is going on. My physical energy levels are usually also not that bad that it would be noticeable for outsiders that something is wrong in this particular regard or at least I think so, unless my blood pressure is particularly low or something which does tend to happen a fair bit of time if I don’t stimulate myself with something in the morning or if it’s hot etc. While I often have to force myself to do even small things especially if I feel worse than my dysthymic baseline, and force myself to feel things sometimes, to be more enthusiastic and all, I generally don’t tend to experience very bad anhedonia or at my better times (especially when a crush peak is involved) none at all, and as you probably know my fazas and passions (plus now also Misha since I have him) are the only things that keep me going and wanting to keep going, even if as I said there are times when I have to force myself to feel some enthusiasm to them, and sometimes the only thing I can force myself to do is only faking it for the sake of other people. Towards the end of last year, and at the beginning of this year, my anhedonia has gotten worse. I associate it with the fact that my current or last dominant faza/crush on Gwilym Bowen Rhys has been slowly fading (which absolutely doesn’t mean anything like that it’s going to fade completely or that I don’t like him anymore – fazas for me are a bit different than what most people understand by a crush and so far none of the major ones I’ve had has just gone away, they are still there but just in the background) and as I said my fazas are very important to my wellbeing, they inspire me, help me to develop, learn new things, discover new things, make my life more bright and add more dimensions to it, and the so called crush peaks – that is periods when faza is particularly strong are especially pleasant and make you feel a bit high, kind of more creative. – Generally I’d say fazas are like fuel for my brain, my creativity, but also what drives my passions. Usually, when one of my fazas starts to fade discreetly (at least that is how it had been before) soon, before it fades to any serious degree, I come across a new one. Well not this time. And so, as you also probably know, I’m trying to help my brain and frantically looking for some new faza myself. Normally I don’t have to look for them, they just come to me. Sometimes via other people, sometimes a string of events, or somehow else accidentally. I associate my recent anhedonic tendency and lower energy and feeling flat and having to fake things with that, but it’s possible that other things have been also involved, possibly something deeper that also doesn’t let me develop another faza, who knows. And I’m sure the recent stressful stuff hasn’t been without an impact either especially that my anxiety, specifically the more kind of situational one, always drives the depression very much. I’ve been at very different points with my dysthymia and I’d had a few major depressive episodes before I was even suspected to have dysthymia, but I’ve never been on any antidepressants as such. And I’ve always felt like, as long as it will be possible for me to cope at least somehow, I’d rather not be. I would really not like to become overweight due to them, for some reason this has always felt the yuckiest effect of them for me, even though theoretically I shouldn’t worry perhaps because I’ve been either bordering on or underweight for years now. But the recent state of things got me thinking whether perhaps getting some medication to boost my mood wouldn’t be wiser. I haven’t made up my mind on that, but since a week or so, I’ve noticed a bit of an improvement, despite I still don’t have a major faza. Perhaps it’s again due to the stressful stuff resolving a bit. It’s good to feel more pleasure out of life again, it’s a really yucky feeling when you have to fake things and force yourself to everything and just nothing makes you feel better. On one hand I want people not to see the way I really feel because it’s pathetic and doo all I can for them not to see but on the other when someone who knows about my struggles says it doesn’t show I feel like I’m just attention-seeking or manipulating people or just evil or what not, even though what I want is definitely not for people to pay attention to my depression as I said. I know it’s Monkey Maggie talking but I don’t have enough bananas to stuff her with to keep her quiet, as I don’t like them at all. That’s a dilemma… 🙃 My anxiety has still been pretty high though, or rather it’s like different of my anxieties are coming to play at different times.

I’m pretty happy with the way my relationship with Misha has been evolving this year. I have an impression like we’ve become closer in those two months. Recently I am trying to help him the way I feel could help with his fear, I’ve mentioned many times that he is so afraid of closeness and touch and movements and is generally very fearful and on one hand he does like to be cuddled, petted and spoilt and wants to show us his affection, but on the other he’s scared of it, the reasons of which I don’t fully understand other than that he’s afraid of touch, so then there are frequent situations like that when Misha comes to someone very closely and then suddenly turns back and runs away, or hhrrru?’s at someone to come over and stretches on the floor and as soon as this person comes closer he goes away as well, or he is afraid to come over to his food bowl when someone’s close to it, or hides under big objects when there are people around, or something. It’s not always like this but like I wrote recently sometimes he’s much more courageous than at other times. Anyway, I’ve been doing one thing with him every evening before bed – that is on days when he decides to sleep with me. – I don’t know if it’s right because I have very little idea what is on his mind and what his fears really are, and a huge obstacle for me is that in contact with Misha – and probably all other cats – it’s eye contact that can tell you the most about him, and in Misha’s case it’s even more important because he doesn’t always respond to touch very well and is not particularly vocal, so it’s just what I think could be helpful. – I simply sit on my bed with his mini sausage, and I ask him to come to me, and once he manages to go on my lap, then I give him the sausage. I have to ask him repeatedly and it can last even 15 minutes but even I can feel how his mind is working and analysing, whether to come or not, and when he comes to me he does it very slowly and cautiously so I can’t even move too much or otherwise it discourages him. But, sooner or later, he does it, and I can give him the sausage, so I think in fact he is a very brave Mish, don’t you think? My Mum is laughing that brave is the last word one could describe Misha with but brave is not the one who doesn’t feel fear, right? When he manages to do that, so far he has always slept soundly with me, without showing much distress and having to leave as he often did before, so perhaps it’s seriously working. But apart from that sausage challenge, even before that, I feel we’ve been getting along better and understanding each other better.

My language learning hasn’t been as dynamic so far this year. I’ve been doing a lot of Welsh repetitions but not much new material, mostly because of having to get used to all new stuff, also my new situation with learning that I do not have a Welsh synth any longer. Besides I didn’t have any good English synths until yesterday either and I am learning Welsh via English. While I can read things like blogs or emails or websites etc. in English with a Polish synth with no problem and I’m used to it and sometimes it’s even better, in language learning, it’s not such a good option, not for me anyway. Also the most plain reason was that simply my motivation hasn’t been great lately due to feeling blah and I was just being lazy. I am hoping to get more consistent with it now that I do have English synths.

Okay, I guess that would be all about my beginning of this year, I can’t think of any other major stuff going on that would be worth mentioning.

How has this year been for you? 🙂

 

The sounds of animals. #SOCS

It’s Monday but I thought it would be fun to join in with

Stream Of Consciousness Saturday

today anyway. Last Saturday, Linda’s prompt for us was to write about the sounds that animals make and how we experience them.

Well, quite obviously I think, the first thing that comes to my mind when thinking of the sounds of animals in general, are feline sounds, more exactly the sounds that Misha makes. I find them soooooo soothing and relaxing. It’s pure bliss to me to be very close to Misha so that I can hear all the sounds of his. I generally love to hear cats purring (who doesn’t?), it’s a cute sound, but Misha’s purr is special. Not only because Misha is mine and I love Misha, but also because Misha’s purr is very quiet. An average cat will start purring before you even stroke him, and so loudly that sometimes even people on the other side of the room or even next door can hear it. Cats are very generous in that respect. Well, not Misha. His purrs are for VIP’s only, and even more often, he purrs just for himself. As you probably know if you’ve been around here for a while and read some of my posts about Misha or Misha’s posts, Misha is very fearful, rather solitary and not particularly vocal. It’s not like he’s selfish, like a lot of people think. He does want closeness, and cuddles and all that, but, first, it has to be on his conditions – when and where and how long he wants – and second, he is also afraid of touch and sudden movement and often it is very difficult for him to overcome this fear, though there are better days and worse, I’m not entirely sure what exactly it depends on, but probably just like with us humans – sometimes we’re cheerful, sometimes we’re sad, sometimes we’re anxious, sometimes we want to be alone, and sometimes with others, and sometimes we want to have fun and play. – Anyway, all those traits of Misha probably contribute to the fact that his purrs are usually very, very quiet. Like, most of the time you’d have to literally put your ear very near him to hear it, so usually you are more likely to feel his purr and the vibrations in his throat, rather than hear it. My Mum claims that Misha must have something wrong with his throat or larynx because it is not normal, and I’ve always thought it’s just the way he is and has nothing to do with his larynx. However, recently I’ve been thinking more about it because I’ve noticed that Misha frequently chokes a bit when eating. Not very badly, just a little bit. I suppose it’s not something new but just something that I hadn’t noticed previously. So that could be either through some larynx issues indeed, or perhaps because Misha tends to eat very quickly and a bit as if he supposed that someone is going to take the food away from him any time suddenly or do something scary so that he’ll have to run away immediately. Really sometimes you could think he’s got some bad trauma like a lot of shelter cats do.

We humans often think that when a cat purrs, it must be happy and content. Well, I’m no expert at felines, though I have observed Misha and read a lot about cats and their behaviour, and specifically purring, and it seems to be a myth. I think I’ve written on that previously, but I’ll say that here too. Cats can also purr when feeling anxious, or in pain, to soothe themselves in a variety of situations, and probably in several other instances which I don’t remember. The anxious bit is certainly true for Misha! I’ve often heard, or felt, that he purrs when he’s afraid or just tense and nervous. As I said, he frequently purrs just for himself, for example in his bed, before falling asleep, when no one is petting him or paying particularly much attention to him. I always find it so cute, it’s like a child would sing himself to sleep. I think it soothes him.

Apart from purring, cats of course make a lot of other noises. Misha hasn’t spoilt us with a particularly wide range of them, but he’s definitely capable of it, just chooses not to do it very frequently. He can be just as expressive with all the “hhrrru’s?” and meows he makes as we can be with our languages and tones of voice, which makes him an excellent manipulator! Some of his sounds alone will break your heart and fill you with overwhelming sadness, others will make you annoyed and irritated at him even though he didn’t do anything other than meow or hhrrru? because it sounds like he’s screaming at you, others will make you feel lighter and happier and like it’s going to be a very beautiful day, and some will make you rush for Mish ice-cream and sausages urgently on autopilot. There are also such that will let you know that poo is on its way (when Misha is for example closed somewhere and can’t go to the loo) or that he’s going to vomit (this is probably the only Mish sound I really dislike, or that sun is shining so beautifully that Mishka would like to go out just for a little while, or that the fun has gone one step too far and Misha has transformed into a real predator.

When Misha sleeps in my room and doesn’t feel too anxious, I love to sit or lay very close to him, and listen to his purr, breath, heartbeat and his tummy gurgles. It’s better than any kind of music or relaxing sounds we could ever create! Especially Misha’s breath is something I love, and, again, it’s not always easy to hear well even when you’re relatively close. A lot of the time, especially when he isn’t purring, his breath is very similar to that of a baby.

Another Mish sound I truly love is the sound of little Mish paws on a carpet when he’s running or walking quickly, it’s a very quiet sound but so delightful.

There are sounds that cats make though that I am not a big fan of, especially when it comes to wild cats. When I was a small child and lived in the country, we had lots of wild cats on our backyard. Some got used to people and were very cuddly, others not, but they were both fighting and copulating frequently at nights, and I hated hearing that. It was scary! Especially when I was very small and had no idea what those sounds were! Just imagine it – everyone’s asleep, you’re in bed and suddenly you hear moaning and howling and lots of other creepy sounds, as if some haunted or long condemned individuals were wandering around out there. – 😀 My sensory anxiety always gets way more nasty when I don’t know the source of a sound, which I guess is not particularly strange as we’re always more likely to be scared of unknown stimuli especially when our brains are going to see them as a danger anyway. Now that I know what sounds cats make sometimes, they no longer provoke my sensory anxiety even if they are a little creepy sometimes. Here we also have a lot of wild cats, though Jocky keeps them at a distance most of the time. When we didn’t have Jocky though, there were loads of them and they made lots of noise as well, but that sounded more like extremely distressed babies crying or shrieking. 😀

We also had a fox farm in the neighbourhood for a while which was awful. My Mum has extremely sensitive sense of smell – she says she could work as a police dog 😀 – and it was always particularly unpleasant for her when the stinky smell of foxes would fill the air after the rain for example. What I hated the most though, were the sounds they were making sometimes. Before we moved here, I had no idea what sounds, if any, foxes could make, and the first time I heard that was very unpleasant. Not only because their barking is really unpleasant I think rather objectively, but also because… if any of you had read my short story about sleep paralysis called

“Help!”

, then perhaps you remember the guy called Ian, who was the main character’s sleep abuser. Well, for some reason, my “Ian” sometimes makes eerily similar sounds, and has had since I know him, that is since pretty much forever, dunno, maybe he has some fox relatives or whatever. So you can imagine that it scared me out of my pants.

Which animals sounds do you like or find soothing? Are there any that you particularly dislike? 🙂