How do I feel about my age?

   Thought I’d do some journal prompt-based post again, ‘cause, well, why not? 😀 

   I chose a prompt from Hannah Braime’s book The Year of You, which is the following: 

   How do you feel about your age? 

   Well, I think I’ve written on here before about how I feel there’s a kind of dissonance or something between my emotional vs intellectual maturity. There are people who get such an impression of me that I’m an old soul, and it makes sense in a way because ever since I was a child I always tended to prefer to hang out with people at least slightly older than me, I always found that a lot more interesting. Actually, as a very young child, I very much preferred hanging out with adults than other children, and especially being in adults’ centre of attention, like show off my singing abilities and stuff. 😀 I didn’t really do how to relate to other children back then, I guess. There are people, including, as I often share on here, my own Mother, who come for advice or opinions to me and seem to treat what I say very seriously, which in a way is cool because at least I guess I can be helpful for people, and it’s quite an honour, but also kind of fun and weird because, well, I have very little actual life experience, if not for any other reason then at least because I’m just 25, and sometimes it feels like a lot of responsibility to try to help people with their life experiences when they are not something that I have ever experienced. I guess part of why people see me the way they do is that I have a keen interest in analysing the characters and behaviours of my fellow humans and seem to have a very useful ability to often draw fairly accurate conclusions, and it gives others the idea that if you can judge someone’s character more or less accurately, you must be a very wise person as a whole. I am also considered intelligent by those who know me well like my immediate family, and I guess a lot of people see (verbal) intelligence as synonymous with wisdom. 

   But while I may well be a good judge of character and like to have deep or intellectual convos with people, I don’t actually consider myself very emotionally mature. Most of the time I feel very childish and clueless about life and most things really, apart from all the niche stuff that I’m into, to the point that it actually often feels pretty ridiculous. And most people, even those who simultaneously think of me as an old soul, especially those who actually know me in person, also see me as very child-like, if not infantile at times, in a lot of ways. I look pretty child-like and often react to things in child-like ways or have a lot of child-like behaviours in general. All my regular readers know that I like, especially in Polish, to talk about myself as Bibiel, as in “Bibiel likes this” or “Bibiel did that”. I used to do that all the time as a kid and teen, I wrote on one of my blogs like that all the time, now I usually do it when I’m really excited about something or stuff like that, but also when it simply kind of feels more adequate than just say I or me. Sometimes Bibiel feels just the only right thing to say. As I’ve written before, people have had all sorts of reactions to that – some think it’s cute, others think it’s eccentric and creative, others yet think it’s annoying or just plain childish or kind of sick. – And some like my Dad actually call me Bibiel pretty much all the time and think it’s kind of funny and really weird at the same time (btw just when I’ve been writing this post he yelled Bibiel outside my window so loud  that I almost shitted myself, not to mention Misha 😀 😀 😀 at least I know from whom I inherited my immaturity). In English I generally say Bibiel less, I’m kind of worried that since I’m not a native people might sometimes have a problem understanding me even without my throwing neologisms and weird constructions in, but recently I’ve been saying Bibiel more especially on here ‘cause it feels more genuine to just say “I” all the time, especially that it’s used so much more in English than it’s Polish equivalent, ‘cause in Polish everyone knows that you’re talking about yourself from the verb form. And unlike in Polish, I’ve also started to say Bibiels or Bibielz in English, even though there’s obviously only one Bibiel – well okay there are apparently some people in Brazil called Bibiel because years after we made up this word with Sofi I learned that it’s a (masculine) name in Brazil though it’s pronounced differently, but Bibielz in this sense as me, there aren’t any more  Bibielz in this sense I suppose so that’s just why it’s so funny to say Bibielz and make it seem like the whole universe must be bursting with Bibielz and literally creaking and cracking and moaning under the weight of all the billions of Bibielz and then some more and then their offspring, even though it’s not. 🙃 Does that even make sense what I’m saying to non-Bibielz? 😀 Aside from just calling myself Bibiel simply because I like that, I imagine Bibiel to be like the more child-like, spontaneous and carefree and crazy, but at the same time more mentally healthy, part of me. One who has a horribly childish sense of humour and likes to laugh a lot and is almost constantly either excited or obsessed in a positive way with one thing or another and can’t stop talking when she gets a chance to start. And while being kind of older and kind of younger than you actually are at the same time  can be tricky, I would never like to get rid of Bibiel, because also at the same time Bibiel makes everything easier. 

   I guess while in a way so far I’ve never grown up properly, in another way, I sort of had to grow up faster than most kids my age when I went to boarding school when I was five. And my little theory is that part of why I’m still so childish now is because Bibiel wants to make up for all that time. And there’s Sofi around, oh yeah, and Misha, and Jocky (and then my Dad, if all else fails) so there’s always someone to play, laugh and goof around with. Thankfully, even now that Sofi is 15, she’s also still pretty child-like herself, although sometimes I already start to feel that she’s becoming more mature than myself. 😀 Am I concerned? A part of me thinks that I probably should be, but mostly I’m not really. Sometimes I wonder whether some part of why I feel a lot younger than I am most of the time could be due to AVPD, because it seems to be a common experience of people with this disorder, so I’m curious if there’s really some link and how it works. 

   When Misha joined our family, Sofi and me felt it was such a pity that he can’t actually talk and tell us what he thinks and just chat with us. I still think it’s a pity, but one day I came up with an idea that we could play that Misha can have a connection with either of us, a brain connection, something kind of like Bluetooth or Internet or phone connection or stuff like that. He can connect to either of us, whoever is willing, and use this person to communicate through them. So we started playing like that and Misha would connect either to me or to Sofi and we could talk with him like that and incorporate him in our plays even more. But Sofi, while she liked the idea, felt awkward when lending her brain to Misha, because when she talked to Misha it could sound to an outsider like she was having a dialogue with herself and part of it in a child-like voice ‘cause of course we imagine that Misha would be rather child-like if he could talk, he might be middle-aged by cat standards but he’s so small and has only lived for six years, after all. I had no such inhibitions since I talk to myself anyway, so since then Misha talks mostly via me. It’s a very useful psychological tool, because even now when Sofi’s fair bit older than when we started doing this, she’s still more willing to share some of her more personal or deeper thoughts or problems with Misha than with Mum or just me, and it’s kind of easier and more fun for both of us, when she hears something from Misha who often points things out to her indirectly or asks her funny questions to make her think herself, rather than Mum or me directly lecturing her. I often come to Sofi with Misha when she’s in bed so that she can have a chat with him or we three can play together. Sometimes we even have distance chats, that is when Misha isn’t physically present in the same room as we are, but that doesn’t usually feel quite as genuine. Now the only thing we need is for someone to find a way to phone pets whenever  humans are away from home so that we could check on them. Over time, Sofi herself came up with an idea that it would also be cool if Misha could do other things through us, and for that he sometimes connects to me, and sometimes to Sofi, so like he can try peep food through us, do crafty stuff (or plast plast, as we call it) through Sofi, and write emails to Sofi through me. I wonder how many people my age or older do stuff like that. 😀 

   When I was a child, I never actually even wanted to be an adult, it always seemed insanely scary to me and I didn’t like how lots of kids seemed to look forward to it ‘cause I totally didn’t share the enthusiasm. I think I’ve shared with you how once when I was in nursery/preschool and laying in bed, I had that weird dream or other sort of vision or whatever (because I didn’t feel like I was really sleeping when it happened so I’m not sure how to call it) of myself as an adult, it was absolutely ridiculous and back then a bit scary for me because it felt so realistic. I saw myself standing in the middle of a huge but very crammed, messy kitchen, something was frying and it seemed like I was in the midst of or about to prepare a meal or something like that, the whole place was super hot, and I was wearing some sort of huge, wide apron which made me feel like an old lady, and I was apparently an adult, though I totally didn’t feel like I was. The worst thing was that there were small children literally all around, clinging to me and wanting something from me, and I felt utterly confused and didn’t know what to do with all that. I suppose my idea of adulthood then – so as a 5-year-old – must have been based on my Mum – that you have a family and kids and make them meals and you have to have everything together even if you don’t (although my Mum actually does, and she doesn’t have a messy kitchen, nor does she wear aprons usually 😀 ) and I didn’t think like I could ever be able to do that. After that dream thing, whenever someone would ask me what I wanted to do when I grow up, for a long time I responded that I wouldn’t have a baby, because if women want to, they can have a baby, but if they don’t, they don’t have to. 😀 Adulting is still something that I find scary, so while I indeed don’t have children and don’t even make my own food beyond the most basic like sandwiches or cereal, my premonition was kind of correct. 

   Im very much a daydreamer and a bit of an escapist, and generally the idea of some major responsibility freaks me out. I’m terrible with stuff like money, for example, it feels very confusing and kind of abstractive to me. I generally don’t have a problem with abstract thinking, but thinking about stuff that has to do with counting, amounts of things etc. Takes a lot of brain CPU for me and I feel much better having someone assist me in making major purchase decisions, not because I cannot make my own decisions but to kind of make sense of things. Not to mention that I don’t do socialising. Socialising in general is pretty stressful for me as y’all probably know but sometimes an equally difficult thing is that I cannot make sense of social stuff, like when to do what, and need to ask my Mum for advice whether doing/saying, or not doing/saying something is appropriate, or what people usually do in such and such situation. I usually learn such things from books, stuff like body language for example, but I still don’t know loads of things. 

   I usually don’t think much about people’s ages unless it’s relevant for some reason, and so I normally don’t think a whole lot about mine either, but I usually totally donn’t feel my age. Usually I  feel a lot younger, especially when it’s my birthday I’m internally always like: “Really?! Am I this old already?! No way!” 😀 Or other times I feel like a total granny – cynical, weary of life, lacking brainergy after a migraine,   shaking my head at what kids do these days and what awful slang they use and what crap music they listen to and how people no longer do emails and can’t write properly but beatbox instead. 😀 Like, I remember once being part of a Polish forum for introverts, and they had a whole section with stuff like personality tests and such, including some sort of mental age test, and when I did that test (I must have been around 17 then) it said my mental age was 40. I wasn’t sure whether it was saying something more along the lines of: “Awww Bibiel, you’re so mature beyond your years, that’s amazing!” Or more like: “Your brain is rotting prematurely, do something!” 😀 

   But now that I’m 25, I do care a bit more about being this particular age, though for a very silly reason. 

   When I was in primary, I made up a really weird game together with one of my groupmates at  boarding school, that was supposed to predict your more or less distant future, or give you insight in whatever you wanted to know. When it was very quiet, so especially at night before falling asleep, you had to really focus and listen to your mind, until some random words, preferably a more or less coherent sentence, would pop into your mind, and that would be your prediction. Sometimes these ended up, at least for me, not to be sentences, but more complex imaginings, you know what sort of things can pop into your mind when you’re about to fall asleep, and I guess it’s all the stronger when you’re blind because when it’s quiet and your brain doesn’t get even auditory input, it likes to make things up. At least I am very prone to this. Sometimes the results we got from that were really hilarious, like my friend hear something like: “You’ll be bouncing on the waves of dynamite” and we were wondering whatever that might mean, or I once heard that I will be queen of Egypt, and then another time that my Dad will die by stoning in Sweden. It was all for fun and very hilarious. But one night, as I was falling asleep and trying to “predict” something, I ended up having an absolutely eerie half-dream or whatever it was. Inn it, I was aware that I was a lot older than I was at the time, I was climbing up the stairs of the old building of our boarding school (the building itself is pretty creepy for many newbies who come there, it’s pre-WWI, with a lot of corridors that go on and on, rooms within rooms that you can quite easily get lost in, and even some bathtubs with taps with black water running from them when you try to use them, and after all the groups were moved to the new building, that old building has become a lot quieter and one of its purposes was providing guest rooms for any family members staying for weekends, so for example my aunt whenever she visited me she was really creeped out by the place. For me it definitely wasn’t creepy because we were still living there when I had that dream so it was just normal and perhaps a bit atmospheric, but in this dream, it definitely added to the overall creepiness, and after having that dream I always got the creeps whenever walking those stairs. Then I opened what would normally be the door to our then-group, but as soon as I opened it, I heard an absolute cacophony of sounds, and the place I found myself in wasn’t anything like our group, it was like a small house within that huge building. That cacophony of sounds were all sorts of sounds that have given me sensory heebiejeebies in the past, and on top of them was certain evil British song with a Jamaican Patois chorus from 2005 which for some evil reason was topping the charts in Poland around that time and even still gives me the heebiejeebies whenever I hear it (probably because I never get to recover from it because Olek likes it and thinks it’s funny that I don’t and likes to tease me by playing it, at least I suppose in his mind it’s just supposed to be teasing, but the result is Bibiel z freezing 😀 ). It was my biggest sensory anxiety trigger at the time, so I got really scared. And as is often the case with my dreams, all these sensory anxiety triggers had like their personifications, and the one that personified that song came up to me and told me that they’ll be waiting for me here, and when I’ll be 25, I’ll die and I’ll come to them and we will spend the eternity together. Then it all disappeared, and that was the end of my playing the predictions game, because I was absolutely convinced that since I was expecting to have a prediction and ended up having this weird dream thing, then that was what I wanted – a prediction of what is going to happen to me. – Except that I would probably die some time before turning 25, of fear of what was going to happen to me. Over time, of course I started thinking that it must have been just a dream, things like that don’t come true, ‘cause how would it even be supposed to happen, is it like a form of hell or something? 😀 But still, for a long time I had that niggling feeling, what if, maybe it won’t happen exactly like in the dream, but what if something really creepy was to happen to me when I was 25? I’d never shared this with anyone, because for a long time it felt too scary and I couldn’t even articulate it I guess, and then it felt too silly. I only told my Mum about it shortly before my last birthday, when I was actually able to have more distance to it. And even though I no longer believe that this is what is going to happen to me and am able to laugh at this dream and that whole game thing, I guess the original impression was so strong that deep within my brain I still have a very small niggling feeling, what if something real creepy will happen to me soon? Other than that though, as I said, age is usually not a very important thing for me, whether it’s my age or someone else’s. 

   Now you tell me. How do you feel about your age? Do you care about such things? 🙂 

Is my glass half full or half empty? Or, Bibiel’s take on defensive pessimism.

   Let’s do another journal prompt-inspired post, shall we?! For today, I chose the following prompt from Hannah Braime’s collection of journal prompts called The Year of You: 

   Would you describe your glass as half full or half empty? 

   I figured that with so much toxic, overrated, farting sweet, bright red and just ewwww yuck positivity floating around the world, it won’t hurt if I share my perspective on the glass dilemma, which, based solely on how often people seem to misunderstand it, must be not a very common perspective to have. Besides, I already wrote about it briefly quite recently in this post, so why not expand it further. 

   Like I wrote in that post, people who know me a bit, even some who know me a lot like my Mum, often tend to think of me as an extreme, incurable, even “hopeless” pessimist. And that’s kind of true except it’s not, and not just because I am not hopeless. My brain is definitely  on the gloomy side, and I am indeed a fan of thoroughly thinking through all possible worst case scenarios of a situation, which sometimes ends up spinning into proper catastrophising. Also if I happen to be very anxious, especially for a prolonged time or over a lot of stuff at once or one thing that feels really difficult to deal with, it’s extremely easy for me to slip into ruminating and overthinking, which as far as I know are all classic pessimistic traits. Yet, I don’t think I’m a real, pure pessimist. Many people I know who declare to be or are seen as pessimists don’t seem to get anything good out of the mindset that they have. It only stresses them out, makes it difficult to enjoy the good things in life while they are lasting, and often is very toxic, creating a really unpleasant and tense atmosphere in their surroundings that affects other people around them. For me, ruminating and overthinking can naturally be very stressful too and I’d much rather not deal with them, depression is also really shitty, but I tend to consider these more like brain malfunctions, even if deeply ingrained ones and ones which have been with me for a large part of my life, rather than a  mindset, definitely not a fixed one anyway. Those brain malfunctions can surely affect my mindset, especially when I feel particularly mentally unwell and have very low mood, but they can’t fully replace it because they’re entirely different things. I hope that makes sense.

   My pessimism is not about constant complaining (not that I think there’s anything wrong with complaining as such, as long as there isn’t too much of it and something constructive comes out of it, like yourself feeling better after getting something off your chest), constant/excessive grumpiness, finding faults with everything/everyone or never being satisfied with the good things that you have or that happen to you. 

   So what is it? My pessimism is defensive, so aside from being a way of thinking, it’s also a coping strategy for me. I firmly believe that it’s a lot better to always prepare yourself for the absolute worst possible thing and keep your expectations rather low, rather than hope for the best. Hoping for the best might be easier during the waiting  for whatever is supposed to happen, but if something positive that you’ve been waiting for doesn’t end up happening, or isn’t nearly as good as you imagined, the crash down from so high up will most often be  a really unpleasant experience, and you’re ultimately left with nothing other than your disappointment, and possibly other difficult feelings, depending on a particular situation. Whereas if you don’t expect much, you can only go higher. You won’t end up dramatically and painfully crashing down from anywhere, but you can end up feeling very pleasantly surprised. And, as a defensive pessimist rather than a plain grumpy pessimist, if something does exceed my expectations, I try to appreciate it as much as I can, rather than be like: “Oh well, it’s just an exception from the rule, something will surely go wrong”. It may or may not be an exception from the rule, and something else may or may not go wrong very soon, but I try to be very appreciative and grateful for the things that do go well, and enjoy them nevertheless. In fact, perhaps a little paradoxically, despite being an anxious melancholic with dysthymia, I am also blessed with the ability of finding even small things in life enjoyable and pleasurable, and if my mood is somewhere around what I consider my baseline, I don’t have to try very hard to make myself feel these feelings or focus on it very much. 

   Similarly, when you’re awaiting something that you consider stressful or otherwise difficult, for example an exam like Sofi does tomorrow, I personally don’t think it’s a good idea to try to convince yourself for all means that everything will be fine. I think it’s worth considering things that might go wrong, so that when something does go wrong, you can handle it better emotionally at worst, because you’ve sort of already been through it in your brain, and prevent it from happening altogether at best. You sure can’t always think of every possible thing that could go wrong in a given situation and prepare yourself for everything, but still, going through a few different difficult scenarios in your brain before a situation takes place, even if the actual situation won’t look exactly like any of the things you imagined, can be helpful in handling things in my opinion. 

   I guess though that while this works for me, it doesn’t necessarily have to work for everyone. I guess if so many people promote positivity, positive affirmations and stuff, it must work for them. I only know that my approach works well for me. I’d tried being more optimistic, because everyone, and especially my Mum, says that when you think of good things, then good things happen to you, and when you think about bad things, then you get bad things. And I have no reason to believe that this is not the case for people who say so. But for me, most of the time it just doesn’t work this way. I can seriously count on my fingers all the times when my very positive thinking led to a very positive outcomes, not counting all the situations when I just had a very strong gut feeling bordering on certainty that everything will go well and didn’t feel like I needed to either think of worst case scenarios or force myself to optimism, because when I have very strong gut feelings like that, they’re usually right. Most of the time when I tried hard to think positively about something, the actual outcome made me feel really anxious and overwhelmed because I totally didn’t see that thing coming. Meanwhile, very often, if I think of all the possible awful outcomes of something, and think that one of them is probably more likely than a positive outcome, the thing ends up very positively for me. Not always, but very often. This is part of why I’ve always considered myself an almost ridiculously lucky person, ‘cause apparently I do everything to attract all the bad things yet so many good things happen to me and, more importantly, so many bad things that could happen to me, just don’t. 😀 Admittedly, I’m perhaps not as insanely, , incessantly, provocatively, in-your-face lucky as my optimistic Mum, but still extremely, miraculously lucky. So if my defensive pessimism gives me very similar results to those that optimists get from optimism, I really don’t feel like changing my  brain and re-learning optimism just because optimism is more well-seen by society. It’s also rather boring. 

   I’ve actually been using the term defensive pessimism to describe this before I even learned that there actually is such a term in psychology, which has been coined by Nancy Cantor. I guess mine is a bit different though because it seems like that official definition of defensive pessimism is a little more narrow, only viewing it as a cognitive strategy, whereas I’d say mine is a mix of that plus just a more general way of thinking that is quite stable, I guess like a personality trait, or an attitude or something…? Not sure how to describe it well. Anyway, when I read that defensive pessimists perform worse in experimental tasks when encouraged to use a more positive cognitive strategy, it made me think that perhaps that’s just how it’s supposed to be, not only with cognitive strategies but also the more stable attitudes – that is, whether you’re an optimist, realist, pessimist or whatever else there is, you should just follow your brain and think the way you’re made to think, or the way you’ve learnt to think, in order to make things go well for you and be successful, rather than twist your brain wires at uncomfortable angles to tweak your thinking to what most people consider best and risk electrocuting yourself in the meantime. – What do you think? 

   Interestingly, I guess I haven’t always been a defensive pessimist. Similarly to how I wasn’t always quite as introverted as I am now. I’m pretty sure that the little Bibiel, like below age 8 or so, must’ve been an optimist, and the defensive pessimism thing has developed later on as I was gaining  new life experiences. When I wrote a post about defensive pessimism on one of my old Polish blogs as a teenager (which I remember I called “A Recipe for Luck” 😀 ) I said in there that I thought the main reason for why I ended up being a defensive pessimist was that I often experienced disappointment when expecting to go home from school, or my Mum to visit me in there during a weekend, which often ended up being cancelled or delayed multiple times for all sorts of reasons, which was an absolute catastrophe for me every single time, and that this way of coping became even more strengthened during my recovery from the Achilles tendons surgery, about which everyone kept reassuring me that it will  be okay, and which I also really wanted to believe, but didn’t really have much of an idea at all what to expect, and the whole recovery thing was a lot more difficult than I expected and I was totally unprepared mentally to handle that sort of thing. Even though I remember writing all that with a lot of certainty, I’m not sure it’s truly the direct cause of my defensive pessimism, and I don’t think it matters very much what exactly had caused it, but it sure is possible. My Mum is a bit impulsive and she would often get my hopes up telling me that she’d take me home next weekend, so then that was what kept me going all week long, until when it was almost Friday I’d learn that it won’t be happening just yet.  And so I guess over time my brain could have learned that the more frantically and desperately it’s hoping for something positive to be true, the more likely it is that it will be the opposite. If I didn’t expect to go home next weekend and lived as if it wasn’t supposed to happen, it was a lot easier to deal with such disappointments when they came, because they weren’t really actual disappointments anymore, and when I was able to go home, in a way it felt even better because I wasn’t really expecting it so it had a bit of a surprise factor to it. Generally I’ve never liked surprises very much ‘cause they’re really awkward, but a surprise weekend at home or visit from Mum was always more than cool. By the time I had the surgery I guess I was already quite an experienced  pessimist, and ruminator for sure, but it could have indeed been the ultimate thing that has cemented it into my brain for good. Regardless whatever it was that made me a defensive pessimist, in the end I can say I actually feel grateful for that, because it works for me, so why not. 

   So to answer the prompt question, is my glass half full or half empty, I’ll say the same thing that I said in the post linked above, that Bibielz expect an empty glass, and when Bibielz get a glass that’s half full, Bibielz go “Yayyyyyy! There’s water in it!” This is such a cool feeling, when you don’t expect to be able to find a single metaphorical drop of water to drink all day long, and then someone gives you a whopping HALF a glass. Who cares if it’s half empty or half full? There’s actually something in it, that’s what matters! And you relish every single metaphorical drop of it, because you don’t know when the next time will be that you’ll be granted such a luxury, and it tastes a lot better than if you were expecting it to begin with, because then it would be just normal water and you’d likely take it for granted. And it’s even better when you get half a glass of metaphorical kefir… 😉 

   Now, you tell me about your glass. 🙂 Oh yeah, and what is it actually filled with? 😀 Also if you have a mental illness, I’m curious if/how it affects the way you see your glass. 

Question of the day (13th May).

   Hiya people! 🙂 

   I meant to post some question for you all yesterday, but since I didn’t, after all, we’ll have two today, yay! 😀 

   You have fifteen minutes to prepare a lecture to 5000 people about anything. What would your topic be? Why? 

   My answer: 

   Goodness me, I have lots of ideas for what I could give a lecture to people about that I guess could be of decent enough quality, but, fifteen minutes… that probably wouldn’t go to well, whatever topic I’d choose, and I wouldn’t even be able to think of all the things that could go wrong to prepare for them as well! 😀 What I know for sure is that I would make people aware that someone organising this whole lecture thing is a very realistic thinker because I’ve only learned fifteen minutes ago that I’m supposed to be giving this lecture, so it’s not me who’s to blame if it’ll end up sounding like I prepared it last minute, the more that I’ve never given a real lecture, let alone to this many people. Oh yeah, and that I am no expert or authority on anything, just some random Bibiel who’s into a lot of weird things. 

   But, let’s think… well, I think the idea I like most out of those I’ve come up with so far is a very ranty lecture about all the shortcomings of the education system, because everyone who knows me knows I love to rant about this topic and find all things possible that are wrong with it ‘cause it’s just evil. But I’d try to make this lecture something productive rather than just ranting for the sake of it as it usually is, hoping that it would give people some food for thought. I’d really like to see a wise, carefully thought through, maybe even radical reform of how schooling works, I think such an investment in people’s minds would be really worth it and I guess I don’t have to convince anyone why. But because I am just one little Bibiel who has no experience working in the field of education, parenting or the like, I wouldn’t feel competent talking on my own about how the changes would exactly need to be made, just share some ideas and  raise some issues due to which I think changes would be worth considering by those who actually have more of an idea about it. I chose this topic over all the others that came to my brain when thinking of this question because, unlike the others, it’s based on my opinions rather than facts, which would be less demanding to prepare for in fifteen minutes and so more likely to be successful.

   I’d try to keep it as unniversal as possible because I think a lot of these shortcomings are a thing regardless of which country we’re speaking about, but of course I myself only have first-hand experience of schooling in Poland and more second-hand idea about it than about other countries so I’d refer to that a lot. I would probably go with the flow and get a lot of stuff covered spontaneously depending on how much time I’d have for this lecture, but some things I’d like to put some particular emphasis on would be the following: 

   individual approach (or lack thereof) to students in schools. Even in schools with small-sized classes where a teacher may have a closer contact with their students and be able to devote more time to each of them, there’s rarely any real focus on a specific individual’s particular needs, strengths and difficulties, academical first and foremost but also social, physical, emotional etc. Since everyone says that school is not just about academic learning. Special schools, inclusion schools, schools for gifted children and other such are probably a bit better at this than the rest, as they have IEP’s and all that, but still as someone who’s actually been in a special school, an inclusion school and then individual education for a while, I feel it’s largely just theoretical. I think what most smaller schools really do better than large/public schools is put more effort in making every student fit somehow into the curriculum, if not vertically, then horizontally, if not horizontally,  then whatever way goes so that they can finish school, pass what they have to and who cares if they actually retain any of the knowledge well enough that they’ll be able to recall and use it in practice in daily life, if they even know what they want to do with their life after school or if what they’d learned is all useful and valuable stuff. I’m sure it’s not because of anyone’s bad intentions, but we seem to forget that things (like schools, curricula (or is it curriculums? The more I think on either the weirder it sounds and looks 😀 ) grading systems etc. ) are for people, not people for things. Then there’s the problem with slower-learning children vs gifted children and how their potential is usually measured compared with the class overall, so if a kid does all he can to do well at school but is not doing as well as the class does on average, he’s being stretched beyond his limits and his self-esteem is being systematically ruined. Or if a kid is so-called gifted and does better than the class, he’s  bored to death at school seeing how his peers painstakingly deal with something he’s figured out on his own two years ago, which may be just as discouraging in the end. Let alone a child who, for whatever reason, whether “special” in any way or not, doesn’t develop very evenly and is exceptionally brilliant at some subject(s), but just as exceptionally lame at some others. Yeah, there are gifted schools, extra tutoring for struggling students, and all sorts of extra-curricular activities/interest-based clubs or however they’re called in English for those who are very good at some specific things. But not all schools have that, and not everyone can send their child to a school that does. So I think there really should be a lot more focus on working individually with each child by default, in that the teachers would actually take the time to sit one on one with a student and work on their individual skills, or at least we should have some better system of assigning children to specific classes rather than just based on their age. 

   Second language education. I’ve written a lot about that here already so won’t be repeating myself. Thankfully I believe it’s not an ever-present problem, I can clearly see for myself that the quality of language education is mostly very low here, but it doesn’t seem to be the case everywhere. 

   And last, but not least… yeah, homeschooling! Have I told you guys that when I was a kid it was my biggest dream to be homeschooled ever since I first heard of it? Sadly it never came true (it would be a huge thing if it did given my disability, the fact that my Mum doesn’t read Braille etc.), but I did get to sort of homeschool myself when going to the mainstream high school/college for adults as it made more sense for me than to sit in class while they were looking at slideshows and working with textbooks which I didn’t have in an accessible format so I only went there for term exams and emailed assignments to them. I’m still a big fan of homeschooling. But at the same time I realise that it is something really, really, REALLy difficult and daring and not every parent is able to do it for all sorts of reasons. I guess we all can think of some reasons for why it is so difficult and, as it is, not doable for many people, even if they really want it and even if their kids would really benefit from it. But one of the problems I see here is that homeschooling is seenn as some sort of last resort, when all else fails, and there’s very little support for parents who are brave enough to decide to do it. If someone does it even if nothing has failed in their child’s case, or there could be other options to explore, they’re seen as kind of eccentric. So I guess many parents may not even know that it’s a possibility, or if they know and are willing and theoretically could be able to do it, they don’t know how to go about it, because it’s not something you hear a lot about. I think it should just be one of the default options. You can send your children to school, or you can homeschool them, or flexi-school them (do some days at school and some days at home/somewhere outside like a museum), and there should be resources or places widely available that would give people all the info and help that they might need to make either of those three things happen. My Mum has really wanted to homeschool Sofi, which obviously didn’t work out, and that was one of her difficulties as well, that she didn’t know how one actually makes it happen. Like, can you just pull your kid out of school and say “I’m teaching her at home now?” I think it would be a lot easier if there was some sort of department at schools or separate places that would be there to help parents to make it easier to coordinate it all – helping the parents to make a plan of children’s education that they would stick to, make sure that the parents have all the materials they’ll need, assess the progress of the children with exams and what not organise time for children to  spend  together and socialise and have group activities, organising additional tutoring for children who are struggling in some subjects and whose parents aren’t able to help them adequately, just generally support such families. Perhaps they even should get some sort of benefits or however you’d call that in English, for homeschooling, so that one parent wouldn’t need to work and could stay with the children and teach them. I’ve heard that such families often stick together a lot because it’s naturally a lot easier for them to homeschool if they help each other out. Not every parent is good at every single subject, not every parent will find the motivation for taking their children for educational trips on a regular basis, but it’s easier when there’s a group of families who goes together so they don’t have to be alone with coming up with and preparing everything, so such parents share the responsibilities, plus the kids get to spend a lot of time with their peers, unlike what a lot of people think is the case with homeschooled children. There’s also flexi-schooling. Someone may want their children to develop their particular talents first and foremost, but obviously they also want them to learn everything and anything else that might be useful, except they don’t have a clue about physics, so the kid goes to school for physics. Or someone wants their child to be homeschooled but realistically can only take certain days of the week off work, and the rest of the week the child would go to school. 

   That’s, more or less, what I would give my lecture about. 

   How about you? 🙂 

(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.

What is your earliest childhood memory?

My answer:

My earliest memory is from when I was two years old, which some people find strange or impossible, claiming that you can only have real memories from the age of 3, but I believe that when they’re strong and emotionally intense memories, you can remember things that happened earlier, plus I guess everyone is a bit different and it must depend a lot on an individual. Anyway, my earliest memory is about when Olek was born. My Dad and me went to visit Mum in the hospital, and the first thing I remember from that was when we were in the lift and I was a little bit scared of the sensation of it moving. I still avoid lifts if only it’s possible and reasonable, even escalators, because they make me feel dizzy and floaty in an awful way and mess with my vestibular system though I’m pretty sure it was a lot worse when I was younger. Then we went to the room where my Mum was and I remember that she was really weak or something and kind of wasn’t herself really, actually at the time I think I thought she was really sleepy. My Mum had a C-section so she certainly could still be groggy after that. Olek wasn’t in there. Mum let me feel her tummy and I remember it really shocked me and made me feel quite awful. I don’t really remember or know now what exactly was going on with her, was it her stitches that she showed me and my brain exaggerated that, or something else, but I quite clearly remember a HUGE needle sticking out of her tummy and the thing overall looked quite raw and not quite like what I expected I think. And I got ann idea into my head, quite a logical one for a kid I guess, that it was my baby brother who was to blame for that. I must have said it out loud because I remember my Dad laughing and saying what a monster Olek must be. I felt really sorry for Mum. Then I don’t remember anything else, but later on I often thought that this first impression of Olek that I got, before even actually meeting him, could have influenced my later attitude towards him and I felt guilty because of that and still sort of do, though these days this is not the sole reason for why I feel a sense of guilt in relation to him, but that’s a whole different topic. Anyway, when we were little kids, I was really nasty for him. I don’t really remember that very clearly but my parents say I could just come over to him all of a sudden and start frantically bang him with something over the head or bite him really badly, or I wouldn’t let him play with my toys and generally rejected him all the time. I do remember having a kind of feeling of aversion or something towards him and like I didn’t really like him, and that I was very fickle with him. Sometimes I played together with him and we had a lot of fun, but other times I wouldn’t let him play with me. We shared the same bedroom (actually at the time our whole family had just one, huge, open area that we slept in) and sometimes I would initiate some play, because I was rarely sleepy when I should be and as a toddler always got a huge energy shot towards the evenings and it was the best time for playing for me, and he happily joined in with that, or we just talked and laughed like crazy because everything’s always most hilarious when it’s time to sleep. And then in the middle of that I’d suddenly just turn my back on him for no apparent reason and play by myself or start doing something else that I wouldn’t include him in and I acted like I was cross with him or something. Or we’d be talking and suddenly I’d start acting royally haughty and like I was deadly bored and be like: “I don’t wanna talk to you”. Or if he tried to talk to me but I didn’t feel like it, I’d also say something like that, no matter how much the poor kid would try to get my attention. Thinking back to that, I am actually a bit surprised that he wasn’t similarly nasty to me in return, as kids usually are. He’d still make efforts to be able to play with me no matter how jerky I was with him, and no matter how often I’d keep rejecting him he’d continue to try to connect with me and was always very protective of me as a kid, it looked as if my attitude wasn’t even affecting him at all. Sure he liked a bit of sibling rivalry, and would be mischievous sometimes and piss me off totally deliberately, but he was mischievous with everyone so it wasn’t anything specifically directed at me, and I think a lot of kids, if they were treated like that by an older sibling, would at some point just shrug and let go, or start acting the same as their sibling.

How about your earliest memory? 🙂

Question of the day.

If you summarise your year 2021 in a five-letter word, what would that be?

My answer:

Crazy. I think weird would also work, but it’s certainly not like it was the weirdest year in my life (that would have to be either 2007, which was scary weird, or 2014, which was happy weird) so I think crazy works better. There’s all the crazy stuff going on in the world, pandemic and everything, and then also crazy things that have been going on in the world for quite some time but it’s only this year that I’ve been realising this properly and exactly how crazy they are. And then there are all the crazy goings on in my internal world, I don’t think I’ve had a crazier, more erratic year when it comes to that, and as a result have become more crazy myself, both in a positive and negative way. That doesn’t mean that things have been very bad or something, just very… well, crazy, and a bit unpredictable. And there’s also been a fair bit of low-key change in my external life, immediate surroundings, people around me, which mostly wasn’t anything very radical but it adds up to the crazy, erratic vibe.

You? 🙂

Question of the day (30th November).

I am learning…

My answer:

…these days, I’m learning a lot about what is currently generally known as traditionalist Catholicism, that is basically Catholicism pre Vatican Council II and Holy Mass before that Council, which is also known as Tridentine Mass or traditional Mass and I guess a couple other terms exist in English but I don’t remember that now. As you might or might not recall, my Mum and I used to attend the Tridentine Mass for quite some time, I’m not sure when it all started, maybe a year or two ago…? We loved it and I think we always had some kind of subconscious desire or need or I’m not sure how to call it, to go back to the tradition, to what’s actually true. But in the beginning our main motivation to go to the Tridentine Mass was just emotional – that it was so much deeper, more beautiful, very moving for my Mum, so atmospheric, and for me it was interesting that it was in Latin. – I recently thought that back then I didn’t even have much of an idea as for why exactly this Mass is still celebrated, I thought it was mostly the sentimental value, that people just like it more for this depth it has, that it’s just the matter of liking it more or something. I heard about people who put so much effort into it that they go exclusively to traditional Mass and reject most things post Vatican II, and while I admired that in a way, I thought it was kind of unnecessarily hardcore. My Mum had a traditional missal or whatever it’s called in English, which she always took with her to that Mass, and some other traditionalist books from a Polish publishing house that publishes only this type of content. She sometimes read them to me and Sofi but generally, good Catholic ebooks (at least in Polish, and I much prefer consuming Catholic content in Polish rather than English) are not very widely available, and even if I had some books it wouldn’t be quite doable for me to use my Braille-Sense in church comfortably, and printing that in Braille would be really expensive, so I had nothing, which didn’t help my understanding of this Mass. My Mum was confused by a lot of things, and I was twice as much. I did understand more of Latin than my Mum did, though, and it was slightly less challenging for me, because I know a few more IndoEuropean languages, and particularly English which of course shares a ton of vocabulary with Latin. Also my grandad knows a lot of Latin and taught me a lot of words as a kid, which I always liked and absorbed willingly, and I have an interest in names, and a lot of names with European origins (about which I know more than about names from other cultures) come from Latin words. I also read the entire Dictionary of the Foreign Words and Phrases when I was ten after my Achilles tendon surgery when I was in casts for six weeks and had not much to do. All that helps me to understand a lot of single words, or at least suspect more or less what they might mean, so I can sometimes figure out more or less the overall meaning of what is said. Also I learned some basic prayers by heart quite quickly. Then as time went by we went to Tridentine Mass less and less, because it was difficult logistically, it was only in one church that we knew of in our area, only once on Sunday and once on a week day, and in the afternoon which we weren’t used to as we usually went to Mass early in the morning and it felt kind of “lousy” waiting with it until the afternoon and planning everything else major for the day was difficult. Besides, Dad and Sofi still went to the “normal” Mass, and so did Olek except he never went with us so we didn’t have to adjust to him or anything. And my Mum felt it was kind of odd that we didn’t go to the church together, and Dad always wants to do everything together with Mum so he was sulking every time we went to the Tridentine Mass, but he never wanted to go with us. Sofi went once but, being younger and less aware of things than she is now, she was extremely bored and frustrated, not understanding a word from it aside from the reading, Gospel and homily, not knowing what was going on, when to do what etc. and it was really long for her. So eventually, we stopped going altogether, despite still having, or feeling like we had, a strong affinity with the traditionalist movement and my Mum really longed for the Tridentine Mass and felt that the new Mass was lacking in reverence for God compared with the traditional Mass and it pained her, and reverent is something that a Mass should definitely be. I felt it too, but I didn’t actually see things that happen at either Mass, being blind, so it wasn’t quite the same as for her, even though I saw that lack of reverence and focusing primarily on humans rather than God in other aspects and things. Then, I think it was October, my Mum started to dig deeper in all things traditionalist, reading, listening to and watching traditionalist Catholic resources, and sharing a lot of that knowledge with us all. I found that very fascinating, for lack of a more fitting word, so I listened eagerly and then followed down that rabbit hole myself. It all felt like a very slow, gradual process, but now when I think back to those first weeks of this it seems like a lot happened so suddenly. Then after some time Sofi followed too. She has a very keen interest in all this and asks a lot of questions but has a hard time finding information for herself, even when we provide her with resources, because she isn’t the most patient and struggles with lengthy reading or listening to someone talking for ages because there are no images that you could just look at and learn the gist of it in five minutes, so it’s a frustrating process for her, but she is also learning a lot. We are not only learning about the Mass, all the differences between it and the new Mass, but also other aspects of traditionalist Catholicism. I am just writing about it in short because it’s very complex and kind of tricky to write about and if I wanted to do it in detail I’d have to write a whole essay, and also because most of my active readers are not Catholic as far as I know, but there has been so much going on for us in this area lately. Now, ever since like the end of October-beginning of November, Mum, Sofi and myself attend only the Latin Mass, and if for some reason we are unable to do so when it’s a holiday, we attend it in spirit, and to help us with that we listen to a traditional Mass online, rather than go to the new mass. That may seem very weird or hardcore to Catholics who go to the new Mass, as it once seemed to me, and we had a lot of doubts initially, but that’s what we think is the best thing to do. Although despite our previous logistical difficulties with attending traditional Mass, currently, it’s not so much a problem. We actually consider ourselves super lucky because we’ve found out that, in addition to the church where we used to go for this Mass, there are also two chapels in our area which celebrate it regularly, and a few other churches which do it on a less regular basis or which are a bit further away but still close enough that we can go there if need be. That’s a luxury compared with some other regions and I’m so happy about that. Like, one time we went to the chapel, there were people from a town that is some two and a half hour’s drive away! :O As for books, yes, I still often feel totally clueless when I go to Mass, because like I said it’s not very doable for me to have a book to refer to during the service, but I am learning that, unlike it works with the new Mass, it’s not my role to understand everything, say all those Latin prayers and know what’s going on. That’s the priest’s role, and even he cannot understand everything, and that’s what we have faith for. Who, after all, even in their mother tongue, understands things like, for example, what Holy Trinity means? My role is to pray as ardently as I can, offer up everything I have, and praise God. Sure it’s our duty to deepen our faith by learning and trying to understand, but it’s okay not to understand everything and also I’m sure that over time I’ll become less clueless, I am already becoming less and less clueless, or so it seems to my little Bibiel brains and so I’m hoping. However, the situation in the book department is still much better than what I expected it to be based on my previous experiences. My Mum has been drilling the holes in the brains of people from that traditionalist Catholic publishing house that they should make ebooks, even that they should audiodescribe the traditional Latin Mass for the blind (yeah, my Mum always dreams big) but so far there are no ebooks that they offer. Yet, I’ve managed to find a deliciously old (19th century) Polish book that my Mum also has from somewhere, a book about Mass, all its part, what everything means, how to listen to it/take part in it, all the rituals and what they look like etc. etc. etc. It’s a small book and it’s not a missal or anything like that, it’s just the very basics and clearly written for simple people in a simple language, but I’ve found it very helpful to read before Mass at home. It made me think of one thing (well, it made me think of lots of things lol but one specific that I want to mention), because a few times it mentioned people who were illiterate and only then I fully realised that, after all, years ago, a lot of people couldn’t read and were in a similar situation to me, and I wondered how they prayed during Mass. I asked around and did a bit of research and turns out a lot of people prayed rosary. That reminded me of an elderly lady I once came across in church at new Mass, she was sitting behind me and I could overhear that she was praying the rosary, whispering rather loudly. I found that weird, and thought it was quite ignorant to pray the rosary while attending a Mass. Now that’s what I often do myself and I think one fits with the other perfectly well. Or I try to meditate on Jesus’ crucifixion. Then I also found out that there is a website which has all sorts of articles on traditional Catholicism, but also you can download missal as an ebook from there. So now I have my own missal as well so I can read readings and Gospel and everything before each Mass. Unfortunately, my Dad only went with Mum and Sofi once, when I was sick recently and couldn’t go with them. Afterwards, when Mum asked him about his impressions, he said he felt as if he was at a Mass in a completely different country and didn’t seem to like that feeling. He no longer expresses that he’d like to go with us and says things like “your church” so he clearly doesn’t feel a part of it. I guess it’s that little bit too far out of his comfort zone but maybe as time passes it will become easier for him. But we don’t press him, as that’s not likely to help. Olek is very interested when Mum talks to him about it but so far hasn’t been on a traditional Mass.

So yeah, that’s something that I’ve been learning a lot about lately. We laugh with Mum that it feels a bit as if we were newly converted or something. 😀 We also still feel a strong connection with this rite emotionally, I think it sort of resonates with our personalities much more than all the new stuff and I could list so many reasons. One recent example could be that we were once talking about how cool it is that it’s a sort of default thing for women to wear a head scarf or something similar at a traditional Mass. I initially thought it was a little odd that it’s almost like a requirement and couldn’t understand why such a thing would be so important, but now I really like it and so does Mum. You’re kind of veiled from people and you’re more anonymous, people don’t stare at you, and as my Mum says, you can cry if you want and no one will even notice, and my Mum cries a lot in church because she’s sensitive like that and easily moved. I often make weird facial expressions and not always know about it, or I do even when I know, so I like that for this reason too. And it’s generally just cool, though Sofi still says she feels like a Russian granny when she has to cover her head in church. 😀 Basically what I want to say I guess is that it’s more introvert-friendly in a way than things like charismatic movements and the like that have developed after Vatican II. I remember back when I was at the boarding school, there was a time when our boarding school group staff would often invite people from different religious groups/communities/movements within the Church that existed and they would tell us about those communities and encouraged us to join in and I’d frequently hear that it’s so good to belong to some group like that because then you are a member of the Church more fully or something along those lines. None of those communities resonated with me, they all felt like there’s so much socialising above all else and totally not my thing, so I sometimes wondered whether that makes me a bad Christian. I am happy that it doesn’t really work like I’d been told.

What is it that you are learning? 🙂

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 (27th October).

What do you wish was easier?

My answer:

All things round peopling/socialising. I seriously don’t know how most people are so efficient at it when it’s so damn difficult.

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

What makes you instantly lose respect for someone?

My answer:

First off, I try not to lose respect for people. I believe that this is something we all have an unconditional right to due to the fact that we’re humans. At the same time though, because we’re humans, we’re flawed, and having respect for everyone can be difficult. I may find it very hard to show respect to someone if they seem very deliberately rude and jerky and cocky, this really irks me, or if I know that they can be cruel, or do things that I consider totally morally unacceptable, or don’t seem to make a good use of their brains despite there not seeming to be any major obstacles for them to do it, or when people are simply disrespectful of me or my beliefs or opinions or values, either trying to aggressively shove theirs down my brain, I suppose in an attempt to convince me that theirs are objectively superior or something, or ridiculing my perspective based on stereotypes or some one-sided view they have. I mean, it’s obviously totally okay to try to make someone see their perspective, to discuss things, even fiercely discuss things, and I try to be flexible-minded and when I hear about something someone believes in that is new or illogical or crazy or just not right for me I try to put myself in their shoes and think of what might appeal to them in it, just out of curiosity. But when it gets aggressive, I feel like it’s no longer fair play because I try my best to be respectful, and the other side doesn’t, so it feels like the only way to go is either for me to get down to their level and kick them back, which I’m usually not the one to do and which would probably end up in a proper fight or something, and respect would be difficult not to lose in the meantime, or stop playing with them and go home play with Misha. Still, I’ll try my best to respect people regardless. I don’t think there has been anyone I’d know that I could say I have NO respect for. In any case, even when I struggle with this, it hasn’t ever happened that I’d lose respect for someone instantly. I suppose they’d have to do something really really atrocious that my brain just wouldn’t be able to cope with.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

What are you thinking of right this second?

My answer:

My main thought right now appears to be that we haven’t had a question of the day in a while. I’m also stressed about lots of mundane things which I probably don’t need stressing about but it feels like if I won’t, nothing will go right. I’m also thinking about Misha who is on the wardrobe, tossing a little bit right now. And that I’m feeling quite chilly for some reason so I think I’ll have a real warm bath in a while, I haven’t had one in a long time as we only use the shower most of the time. And I’m thinking about Sofi, who has started volunteering in a local stud last weekend (not the one I’ve gone to but an adjacent one, a kind of more mainstream/normal one I’d say, where there are healthy horses, or horses of private people, and mostly able-bodied kids and Sofi says they seem quite snobbish, meanwhile where I go there’s mostly traumatised, elderly, sick horses and people with all sorts of disabilities, but mostly with things like severe cerebral palsy and while some people do things like dressage or disabled riding competitions, most just do hippotherapy alone). My instructor had also offered Sofi that she could come to her stud, but for some reason Sofi doesn’t seem to like her, I guess their personalities are too strong for each other or something, and my instructor is certainly quite eccentric. Sofi goes there on weekends and she can’t ride, at least not for now, but she takes care of the horses or helps out with other things like acquainting new kids with the place and she loves it, especially the directly horses-related part, of course. She’s there nearly all day every weekend day and so far is loving it. When she was starting this, I was thinking that it would be a shame if Sofi was in a stud and I wasn’t, so I thought that perhaps I should try coming back to horse riding and maybe my anxiety around this would be more manageable now again, it also appears that my instructor’s life is a lot less hectic at the moment. Except, a few days before Sofi was to go volunteering for the first time, I got that yucky, recurring skin infection on my calf which heals for ages and can hurt like shit when it’s in full bloom, and from my previous experiences I know that it’s not the wisest thing to ride while this is going on because riding irritates it and makes it hurt more. So no riding for me still, at least for now. Part of me is relieved that I don’t have to confront this just right now, and probably for quite some time, but another part of me is like “THIS IS FLIPPIN’ UNFAIR!!! Sofi has way more horse time than me!” So I’m processing what Sofi has told me about her day at the stud, and how they were celebrating early st. Hubert’s day (which is actually November 3 and he’s something like a patron saint of equestrians and horses). This makes me also think of all the memories of my own that I have of this day across many years during which I was riding and how cool that was. Oh yeah, and some part of my brain is registering that my leg’s hurting, though it’s just in the background, at least when I’m not walking a lot. Also in the background, I’m listening to Swedish radio and trying to figure out where the guy who’s currently speaking might be from, because he has a really weird, quite intriguing accent. 😀 Doesn’t sound like foreign, but more like something Swedish that I just don’t think I’ve heard before.

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

Since it’s my parents’ civil wedding anniversary today, and only today they realised that it must have been a Friday 13th, my question for you is the following:

What’s the most inappropriate song to play at a wedding?

My answer:

I haven’t been to very many weddings at all, but a lot of the ones that I have been to, or that I’ve heard of, have featured a song that I think is incredibly cringeworthy to play at this very time. I don’t know if my parents had it too at their wedding, but if so, then it could seriously be seen as a double jinx. It’s a bit like a tradition to play this at weddings, as if people had no idea what it’s really about but just think it’s some rather sentimental, for many people beautiful, song about a wedding from the bride’s perspective. For the longest time I thought I was the only human being in Poland who noticed this or felt amused and/or bothered in even the slightest way by the dichotomy, and that everyone else only cares that this song is only ABOUT a wedding, and not necessarily perfect FOR a wedding, but some years ago I learned that my Mum feels this way too so perhaps there are even more of us outsiders who sometimes pay attention to lyrics. It’s really quite silly though how people can’t even understand the lyrics in their own language. 😀

The song I’m talking about is a Polish ’70s pop ballad called “Windą do Nieba” (A Lift to Heaven) by 2 Plus 1.

Like I said, it’s written from the perspective of a bride who is writing her “last” love letter to a guy she’s actually in love with, on her wedding day where she’s supposed to marry another man. The guy she’s actually in love with is presumably an actor, because she says she saw him “once” “in technicolour”. She explicitly states that she doesn’t love the guy she’s about to marry, and that it’s the actor guy who plays the main role in her life, “but a girl cannot walk through the world completely alone”. And then in the chorus she describes how they’re already bringing her a wedding dress and a veil and all sorts of stuff that can give us some idea what this wedding actually looks like, and she concludes that they will carry her in a lift to heaven. I guess it’s this chorus that plays on people’s imagination and maybe it’s the only thing people pay attention to, and it makes an impression like it’s quite a grand wedding in a way I guess, so maybe that’s why people are so eager to play or perform it at weddings. Alternatively they don’t know what technicolour is so they get confused, but like I said, she says it clearly that she doesn’t love the one she’s marrying so I don’t think this knowledge is necessary, I don’t really have any idea about technicolour either other than it’s something with the cinema.

It’s quite hilarious, but also a bit jarring and grating and like I said also rather silly, and if I was superstitious I’d probably feel really concerned about couples who made a choice to have it played at their weddings. 😀 And personally I also just find this song in general rather cringey and kind of pathetic in a way.

What’s such a song in your opinion? 🙂

Question of the day.

If you had a choice to be immortal, would you take it? Why, or why not?

My answer:

Absolutely not! I mean, as a Christian, I do believe we are immortal anyway, in a spiritual sense, and that’s prettyy cool, but in this life, no way! Would be extremely exhausting, boring, and quite a curse. As someone who has quite a lot of passive suicidal thoughts or ideations humming in the background, which I usually ignore when I’m at my baseline mentally so it’s not a huge problem at this point but they’re still there, I’ve never been particularly attached to life. In that, most of the time I don’t hate my life or anything, I don’t actively want or do anything to die, I do have things in life that I really love, but if, say I’d become potentially deadly ill, I wouldn’t frantically fight for all means to survive, or if I learned that I’m going to die tonight, I’d be okay with it, as long as I could have at least a little while to prepare spiritually for it. Maybe I would have a bit of fear which is very natural for people when they die I guess, but so far I haven’t been afraid of death so I honestly don’t think I’d be very afraid if at all. To be honest, at this point in my life, from my current perspective, I’d be more scared of aging than death. But even if we’d invent things that could stop aging and make us immortal, that still wouldn’t do it to me. I must say I don’t understand the current trend or whatever that is, perhaps it’s not evenn current but something that’s always been a thing for humans, that a lot of us want to live LONG lives, that there’s so much talk about living a long life, here in Poland when it’s someone’s birthday people will often wish them “a hundred years”, and I’m always like wtf, how’s that supposed to be good wishes? When you say you don’t want to have a long life it’s like you’re saying a blasphemy. My grandma is like me and she always tells people not to wish her that, ’cause she already feels like her life’s been way too long, and everyone is horrified and indignant, even though she just says that normally and not in a suicidal way or anything. I can sort of understand people who say that they’d like to live a long life if they were very healthy and could be useful for their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren for many years and see things change in the world, ’cause that would be indeed very interesting to be able to have such a long perspective on all the changes in the world and its history. Like my Dad says he could happily live up to 200 years if he’d be relatively healthy. But still, even if I was healthy, I think it would be extremely tiring to live like that, with no end in sight. You see all your loved ones gradually die, one after another, the world changes like crazy so that you likely no longer feel as much a part of it because everything is so weird and different and difficult to relate, and other people have a problem relating to you as well, you wonder if you’ll ever die at all or will you keep going like that forever and in some 50 years maybe they’ll want you to be an exhibit in some museum and tell people stories from all the eras you’ve lived in. 😀 I don’t know about others but I am pretty sure I’d go hella cynical in all that time. I just totally don’t see the appeal. Especially that, after all, even living up to like 80 years old being perfectly healthy is a pretty rare occurrence, so while it can perhaps be an interesting dream to entertain, it doesn’t make sense to me that iin reality those people also do everything they can to live as long as possible. I realise it might change at some later point for me as I get older, but at thhis point, even living up to like 50 years feels like a freakishly long life. Not because I think 50 years is particularly old, but it definitely does feel long. Unfortunately for me though, my Dad’s family seems to have some pretty damn strong longevity genes, so I might have inherited them as well. The good thing is that his family also tend to stay very healthy even without some extremely healthy lifestyle, but still, the mere thought of living, and living, and living, and living makes me weary. 😀 Even when I play BitLife, which is a life simulation game, there it is really easy to make your character live quite a long life if you keep them healthy and happy and have a bit of a stroke of luck that nothing tragic happens to them and lead a low-risk life, and I once managed to make my character reach 120-something years. She was super healthy and happy and a millionaire withh a big, loving family, but living her for SOOO long was extremely boring, and seeing all her siblings, friends and then even children pass away, that was actually sad.

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

What is one thing you’d completely rid the world of?

My answer:

There are tons of yucky things in the world, like I’ve no idea why does stuff like vomit or vomiting have to be a thing, or neurodegenerative diseases, or some absolutely freaky sounds, or small talk, or any other stuff that I find more or less scary or overwhelming. But as I thought of this question, I thought that, actually, the best thing, in my opinion, to rid the world of, would be the primary sin. As I guess that would get rid of a whole lot of other yucky stuff. And I’d be really curious what would the world and our existence and everything really look like and function more long-term. That would be quite fascinating.

What is such a thing for you? 🙂

Question of the day.

What social stigma does society need to get over?

My answer:

As someone who is disabled and mentally ill, the most instinctive answer for me is disability/mental illness stigma, but since many of my readers also have mental illnesses and/or disabilities, I figured I’d leave that in case someone would like to write about this and I’d write about something else. Recently we’ve been talking with my Mum about stigma that mothers have to face, and if I were a mother, I’d be pissed off big time about it. Even when I’m not, I find it very annoying. Being conservative, Christian, traditionalist in a lot of ways, albeit an open-minded and quirky one, and all sorts of things like that I’m not necessarily a feminist the way feminism is typically understood these days, and neither is my Mum, but I think both of us still are, just in a different way. I suppose though that in this case the more modern feminists would probably agree with me. What I’m talking about is, when a man who has children goes out for a beer with his friends, no one investigates where and with whom he left his children, no one makes a tragedy out of it that a dad went out on his own without dragging his kids along. When a woman goes out with her friends clothes shopping and happens to come across someone she knows in the meantime, she’ll very likely be questioned about where her children are, as if her sole function was being a mother. Many will even procede to make such a “cruel” mother feel guilty or something. I’m not saying that a father can replace a mother, and there are definitely things that mothers tend to do better than fathers, and that fathers tend to do better than mothers, hence I believe that it makes sense that their respective roles in the family should be different, but their responsibility for children, and the right to have other identities and not just one of a parent, is something they both should share.

Also in the family department, the childless/single people stigma bites. I know a lot of young single and/or childless people and it’s crazy how often I hear people talking to them or about them how they should start looking for someone, how it would be super cool and cute and amazing and delightful if they became a mummy or daddy, how it would be good if they found another half to make them happy, ask them if they already have someone, or when they’re gonna have kids etc. etc. etc. Probably the most of that stuff that I witness is directed at my brother, who has no plans of finding a girlfriend any time soon and thus of having children either. I’m in a similar situation, but luckily I get way less of such bullcrap because duh, I’m blind so in most people’s brains it’s probably not even possible for me to be in a relationship and have children. 😀 Even my Mum, who is a very open-minded thinker and doesn’t like going with a life scheme and all that, and always tells us that she doesn’t want us to feel pressured to do any of the normal stuff that people do, she’ll still sometimes sigh how she’d like for Olek to “settle” and “find someone”. Thankfully she always has me to remind her of her no schemes philosophy lol.

The main reason why I’m so opposed to people imposing their relationship/children views on other people is not even so much because I don’t like schemes, but more so because I think not everyone is a good fit to be a parent. It’s a great thing to have a great family if you can and if you’re a good parent, but I think it’s a really bad idea to make it seem so that it should be the majority’s vocation to have children. My Mum and me have come up with that idea many years ago that people should be tested in all sorts of ways whether they’re fit to be parents and then be allowed or not allowed to have children. Obviously in practice there would be loads of problems and controversies around it that would be super difficult to handle in real life, and especially if you look at it from our Christian perspective, but in any case, parenting is a very difficult task, probably the most difficult in the world, and few people at the age of 20 when they’re often emotionally still much like children themselves are ready to start raising children of their own and the whole social pressure is an awful idea.

What is such stigma 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? 🙂

If We Were Having Coffee… #WeekendCoffeeShare.

We haven’t had a

Weekend Coffee Share

in a while, so I thought we could have one today, ’cause I have a couple things to share with you all, and I want to hear how you’ve been doing, too. 🙂 So if you feel like having a cuppa, or something yummy to eat, come along and join me, and I’ll be super happy to have you here! 🙂

Grab a cup of your favourite coffee (we only have black, whole bean coffee in here right now, which I personally think is the best, but if you’d like something fancier you can bring it with yourself). I can also offer you some tea (we do have plenty of these), or cocoa, or some orange juice, or kefir if you like it or want to find out what it’s like, or plain tap water, or you can bring some other drink that you like. I don’t have much interesting stuff where food is involved, if you’re properly hungry and are a meat eater there’s a fair bit of meat left because we didn’t manage to eat everything for lunch, or I can make you a sandwich, but otherwise I suggest you bring something yourself if you’d like a snack with your coffee or something. Yeah I know, bad Bibiel, what sort of coffee share it is without providing your guests with snacks, and a proper variety of coffees. Will try to prepare myself better next time. 😀

 

So if you’re sitting comfortably and have something to munch and/or sip on, let’s get into it. 🙂

If we were having coffee, I’d ask each of you how you’re doing…?

If we were having coffee, I’d start with the mundane topic of weather and share what it’s been like here this week. Because it’s been quite warm, if not hot, for late summer, at least here. It’s a common thing that late August is all gloomy and rainy, and then the first few days of September it gets maliciously hot so that poor kids who are starting school are melting indoors and want to go out and play but can’t cus they have to do some goddam fractions or whatever else they have to do, but after these few days it usually gets a fair bit colder and stays this way. Well, not this year. This year, the first week of September was very very windy and rainy and quite chilly, whereas this week it was as high as 27 C on Tuesday. It felt a lot fresher outside though than the temps would suggest and was just nice and summery. Then yesterday we got pretty bad rain and storms, and today it’s cooler but still very sunny.

If we were having coffee, I’dfill you in on

the Sofi situation.

In the post above I wrote how Sofi is suspected by her new GP to possibly have Marfan syndrome and that she’s gonna have genetic testing in February. In the meantime, my Mum had been ruminating about it quite a lot, which is not her normal, but she’s now feeling a lot better about it as it seems. Like, whatever will be, will be. The good thing is that Sofi doesn’t have, to our knowledge, any major complications that can arise from this condition, so even if she ends up being diagnosed with it, I personally figure that we should feel lucky that despite this diagnosis, she’s been doing this well so far. Mum agrees with me, and Sofi herself doesn’t think much of it. What had been particularly bothering my Mum, and still does, to an extend, is Sofi’s height, as she’s already like 180 cm and shows no signs of wanting to stop growing any time soon. I mean, maybe she herself wants, but her hormones or whatever is in charge does not. Since the genetic testing is still to come and we still have to wait quite a while, there’s no other news strictly where it comes to Marfan’s, but, as you may remember, all the worry related to that also made my Mum worry that Sofi could have polycystic ovaries and that that may be the reason behind her still growing and still not menstruating. So she had her first gynaecologist’s appointment about a month ago or so, and, while she was extremely anxious before that, it all went well and there were no bad news, everything is perfectly fine with Sofiwhere gynaecology is concerned.

If we were having coffee, speaking of Sofi (wow, what a cool rhyme lol, and yes, in case you’re wondering, this Sofi is pronounced like coffee with an S, not like Sophie because that’s how most Polish people say Sophie), I’d also tell you that recently she got vaccinated. Not for Covid, but for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (these sound really weird in English :O ). She got the vaccine on Thursday, then started having some arm pain in the evening. The next day her arm hurt even more but she still went to school as normal, but when she came back she was feeling horrid. She had a headache, sore throat, achy muscles, couldn’t breathe normally and was very tired and weak and had a bit of a cough. She was supposed to go have her nails done after school, which she did, but as soon as she came back she just went to bed, so it all felt kind of concerning given that she’s normally very strong and healthy. But I guess that could be the exact reason why she reacted to this vaccine so fiercely. She didn’t get up for the rest of the day and by the evening she seemed like she had some fever and it got quite creepy because not only did she have muscle aches but her skin seemed extremely sensitive to touch pretty much all over her and she couldn’t even change position easily ’cause she said it hurt so badly. My Mum claims though that as long as you’re hungry while sick, things are looking good, and by late evening Sofi got a wild craving for fast food so I got her some. When I was a kid I also got wild and very specific food cravings whenever I had fever, and especially at night, so it either must be a common thing that I didn’t realise or it’s genetic for us. 😀 On Saturday things were a little bit better and Sofi really wanted to go pick mushrooms with Mum, so she did, but she was quite drained by the time she came back and spent the rest of the day in bed. So has been the case today, and she’s also got a stuffed nose. Mum doesn’t really know what to do, since these appear to be vaccine side effects so it seems counterproductive to her to give Sofi some medicines because she thinks her body needs to deal with all this on her own. If things won’t get better until tomorrow, which it doesn’t seem like they will, Mum will take her to the doctor.

If we were having coffee, I’d share with you something about which I already wrote a couple times here, but not much and only in passing. This is not like a huge news or anything breakthrough, but I think it’s worth noting in its own place. This something is that I’ve kinda sorta started learning Norwegian, I guess it was some time in July. I think I’ve written at least one coffee share since but I still had too much turmoil in my brain surrounding it so didn’t feel able to write anything constructive. Perhaps you remember that, as long as my favourite languages list is, and despite it features languages like Swedish, Faroese or Sami, Norwegian had never been on it. And I’m still not sure whether it is now. But for some reason I’ve been feeling more drawn to it lately, and also want to have a closer look at how it works, so that I have some more idea about it other than simply through my Swedish. I don’t know why I’d need it because I could already understand a fair bit of (especially written) bokmål Norwegian (there are two written Norwegian languages – bokmål which is like more classic and nynorsk which is more modern and rural) via Swedish, but that’s what’s happening right now. I started to realise my feelings for Norwegian were deepening in late June, around the time when we were on our camper trip in Masuria, and Sofi and me rode in the back of the camper, on the bed, where if the roads were bumpy, it made us jump up high to the ceiling, so when people ask me “why oh WHY Norwegian? Have you got a faza or did something specific happen involving this language that made you love it out of the blue?” I say perhaps because I got a brain injury from all the close encounters between my skull and the ceiling on the trip, ’cause I really have no better ideas. I mean, I could tell you now, at the point where I am currently, that I like Norwegian for its extreme diversity, like, it’s one language, but it’s two languages, and in practice, as some say, there are more dialects than people there. 😀 This definitely contributes to me liking it now. But I only got to experience this phenomenon first-hand after I got into it. And my feelings started to deepen before I decided to go with the flow and get into it and try to learn it. And it wasn’t like these feelings came and I embraced them right away, far from it. At the beginning it was freakishly intense and I didn’t know what was going on and I was really reluctant to do it, actually. I mean, I’m learning Welsh right now, it’s my first Celtic language and it’s more difficult than any language I’ve learned before, have still like a dozen or so languages that I want to learn in the future, Sofi says I should be treated for that ’cause something’s wrong with me, so I seriously can’t afford another language, someone save me or it’s gonna kill me! In the end though, I just had no willpower left to resist my brain any longer and got pulled into it properly. It felt like I had no choice but make room for Norwegian in my life.

The situation isn’t as bad as I feared, since I already know English and Swedish so there’s a whole lot of similarities between Swedish and Norwegian, they’re generally mutually intelligible, and Norwegian and English also share some common ancestry being both Germanic languages. That means it doesn’t really feel like I am learning a completely new language. More like a complicated dialect or something. It’s not like I have to learn everything in a sort of linear, structured way, starting from the very basics, because a lot of vocabulary I’m either completely familiar with or can figure out without much trouble, and a lot of grammar also already makes sense. Also, compared to Welsh, learning Norwegian is also way easier due to the wider availability of all sorts of materials. I’d long forgotten what sort of luxury it is to be able to learn a language via your mother tongue, and there are plenty of Polish immigrants in Norway, so plenty of Norwegian online courses, workbooks, whatever you want. Only problem is that a lot of the Polish material I’ve looked into isn’t of particularly good quality, like they teach a terribly unnatural accent if not plain wrong pronunciation (like you in Norwegian is du, where the u sound is pronounced like in the English word you, while I’ve found a Polish resource where they teach you that it’s pronounced with an oo sound, more like the German du. Except when you pronounce it like that in Norwegian it’s spelled do and it means the loo 😀 ) or only give you an idea about some stiff, official bokmål which might be a thing in writing but no one speaks like that. So I still tend to stick to the English stuff for the most part, and am also able to learn Norwegian in Norwegian itself, especially from written materials. So with a bit of effort on my part, I managed to make it work so that I can squeeze in both Welsh, which is still in the centre stage, and Norwegian, which I learn usually on weekends plus a lot of exposure in the meantime. It feels kind of weird to call it learning though, because for me language-learning is when your brain lets out steam and your brain muscles get all sore and pulsating, whereas here it’s rarely this intense. It’s still enjoyable though. I still wouldn’t say that I love Norwegian as much as I do all “my” languages, but I think if it won’t disappear as randomly as it appeared I’m probably going to get there and I do like it a lot. I mean, I’ve never disliked it, but now I like it more than ever, yet still don’t love like I do Swedish, Welsh & co. Like I said, I love the whole diversity in it and I’m loving more and more how it sounds. It’s so cheerful and childish compared to Swedish, and at the same time kind of more rugged than Swedish and less fluid, to me Swedish sounds more serious and sort of posher.

I don’t even know yet what I want to achieve with this whole Norwegian “learning” and where I want to go, what for etc. but maybe things will clear up. I guess it might come in handy when I’ll start with Sami. Maybe I’ll finally pluck up the courage to read all those Norwegian books my Mum bought me, thinking they were Swedish, including a grammar book from I guess the 50’s. :DBut overall, while I usually try to aim for as much fluency and familiiarity with a language as possible, at least for now I’m taking it very easy with Norwegian and don’t have any wild ambitions or anything, we’ll just see how it develops, I’m not in charge here anyway, my brain has taken over while I was on those Masuria holidays. Who knows, perhaps it’s just a short episode and I’ll soon be over it?

Now that I’m no more reluctant and have accepted the state of things and flowing along with it, I’m thinking that perhaps there’s something like destiny or whatever involved here, because I’ve had several people in my life who have told me in one way or another that I should learn Norwegian. My Swedish teacher started learning it at some point during the years he was teaching me and could go on and on and on about it and would often try to tempt me into it too saying stuff like that, actually, Norwegian is just like a little dialect of Swedish. It made me think what Norwegians would think of someone putting things this way and I thought it sounded quite diminishing. Like, I myself am half Kashubian, and while I don’t have a strong bond with the Kashubian language (I can barely understand it when someone speaks fluently) or culture, and also am far from supporting the separatistic notion that some Kashubians have, one of the reasons being that I personally identify as Polish far more than Kashubian, nevertheless it really irks me when people call Kashubian a dialect of Polish ’cause it’s just not a dialect. One day he devoted the entire lesson to introducing all sorts of Norwegian phrases and idioms to me that he wanted me to translate to prove to me how Norwegian is very easy when you speak English and Swedish. Sure, but at that point I just didn’t feel it, and if I don’t feel a language there’s no point in trying to convince me. It’s as if you tried to make someone be friends with or date someone else just because YOU think they’d make good friends or couple, while the individuals in question feel totally indifferent about each other. Now that I’m learning both languages, I totally agree that, while Norwegian as it is now certainly is not a dialect of Swedish, in many aspects it really seems like it could be. 😀

Then there was a classmate I had at the blind school, who didn’t know about my Scandinavian interests (which I was trying to suppress at the time because I temporarily wasn’t able to learn Swedish and it was a huge source of frustration to dwell on it or expose myself to Swedish in those circumstances) and for some weird reason he told me several times how in his mind he associates me with Norway, which I found rather hilarious. He didn’t know why either. Later my paternal cousins have come up with some weird theory I’ve no clue how, that we have some Norwegian ancestry. It’s always seemed doubtful to my Dad and my gran and me too, but in the past they would often say how I should rather learn Norwegian than Swedish ’cause we allegedly have some distant family connection to Norway.

And lastly there was my late friend Jacek from Helsinki, who shortly after we first met said that, as much as he praises my learning Swedish and considers it aesthetically superior over other Scandinavian languages, he felt that perhaps Norwegian would have been a better option for me, because of all them weird dialects and because they have two languages instead of one so I’d probably have more fun. All of these people would probably be happy now that it has come true, after all, lol.

I also have THREE uncles who all work in Norway (one full-time and two get sent there from time to time for some longer-ish periods) and one has told my family that apparently he’s learned to communicate in the language decently. He never said that to me, although we have talked about Norwegian vs Swedish several times, and he never talked Norwegian in front of me, but now I have to admit I’m looking forward to some bigger family gathering where all of these uncles of mine will be present so I can break the news to them and we can find out who can snakke (speak) better than Bibiel *evil laugh*. Or maybe I’m in for a surprise and any/all of them actually snakker better than Bibiel, which would be just as cool, they’ve certainly had more exposure than me and more potential opportunities to practice with people! 🙂

If we were having coffee, I’d mention that we’re having a bit of a national Catholic holiday today. This is because it’s the day of beatification of cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, the Primate of Poland. Beatification means that he is now known as blessed (which is like a step below canonisation when a person is proclaimed saint) and a primate is the archbishop of a country. Even due to his function alone, he was a very important and valued figure in the Polish Catholic church during his life and still is very much valued and respected due to his huge positive influence on the church and aspects like the so-called folk devotion to Mary, to name just one thing. Along with him, another person who was beatified was mother Elżbieta Róża Czacka who was the foundress of the religious order who leads the blind school I went to, and also the foundress of the school and everything around it as well. She was blind herself ever since she was 22, I believe, and is said to be the first person in Poland who has taken the problem of education of the blind seriously. This school is relatively well-known and quite a few people who have nothing or very little to do with the blind have heard about it somewhere and back in my school days they would ask my Mum whether I go to THAT school. I am talking about this because now that she and the whole blind centre and the order she founded have been talked a lot in the media and churches in the period leading up to the beatification, I’ve got quite a few people from my family and even beyond, asking me things like whether I’m happy that she’s gonna be beatified, and I found the amount of that and this specific phrasing of the question quite interesting so I thought I’d write a little bit about that and how I feel about it. Am I happy? Yes, I’m very happy! I feel tempted to throw an “obviously” in there, but since I’ve got this question so often perhaps it’s not so obvious for some reason. But I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t be happy. We definitely can’t complain about lack of representation of disabilities among saints but the more the merrier, and also I’ve got a feeling that blindness in general has gotten a little bit of spotlight in the Catholic church due to this, because they are telling her story everywhere now and obviously it’s impossible to tell her story without talking about blindness and the blind. Also while I can think of several blind saints, most of them have lived quite a long time ago and when reading about their lives there’s not much you can learn about their experience with blindness specifically, perhaps except for my dear patron saint bl. Margaret de Citta di Castello but she has also lived quite some time ago. So I think mother Elżbieta (or should I be saying Elizabeth in English now?… I never know if you should translate saints’/blesseds’ names or not, it seems so inconsistent) is going to be particularly relatable and close to the hearts of many blind people, and I think that sort of connection is important. I know many who have loved her long before she has been beatified, even if they were too young to know her or didn’t get a chance to meet her personally. I’ve heard of some blind people from that school who actually regard her as a sort of mother figure or something. And beyond that, whether it’s her or someone else, I think a beatification of someone new is generally a very happy event in itself for the Church as a community. My Mum also asked me whether I feel any sort of bond with her, which I think is a more interesting question. We’ve both had the same disability, so on this level I think there is some connection that I feel to her. Also, while personally I have very mixed feelings about both the school and my experience there, i feel grateful to her for the mere fact that she founded it, because the whole thing was extremely courageous of her, and that she devoted herself to the blind so much and on so many levels. One thing I’m extremely grateful to her for is that she adapted Braille to the Polish language. But I don’t feel much of an emotional bond with her like a lot of blind folks do. Or a very strong spiritual one. When I was at school, they’d talk a lot about her and I remember one person once suggested to me that if I struggle with homesickness and stuff like that, I could think of mother Elżbieta as my second mum or a mother figure or something, that some people have this sort of bond with her. I initially really tried and really wanted to, but somehow didn’t feel it. Then not much later I got truly sick of all that talking about it being our second home and stuff like that and I internally rebelled against it all, so there was no way I could think of her as my mum. When I was older, I read her writings and letters and several biographies and a couple memoirs involving her. She was incredibly wise and virtuous and strong-willed and in many aspects very extraordinary and fascinating, and while I didn’t see that at school because I had vastly different outlook on things and vastly different things on my mind, now I do admire her deep devotion to the Cross. Yet when I read her writings she doesn’t come across as someone whom I could truly feel close to. With all her admirable traits and all the great things she did, I think we just are too different for such a close bond to be possible. Or maybe I just have a somehow skewed perception of her despite all the stuff I read about her. And the mixed feelings I have about the school surely get in the way too, even though it doesn’t have to do with her directly. Like I said, the saint I do feel more of a connection to, and who also happens to have been blind and multiply disabled is bl. Margaret of Castello.

If we were having coffee, last, but not least, I’d share about a major purchase I recently made. I got myself an iPad, YAY! Now this is really a huge thing because not long ago I thought I wouldn’t be able to be able to use a smartphone, due to the touchscreen, and now I’m getting a second Apple device. This is because, actually, recently I had been considering a possibility of transitioning to a Mac from my Windows computer. Yeah, I’ve transitioned to a new computer over a year ago, but I’m sure Sofi would be more than keen to inherit this one from me, and also some of its parametres are well above what I need. I’ve recently got to hear a lot about how it looks in practice to use a Mac with VoiceOver (the built-in screen reader) and I was like, huh, this doesn’t sound quite as difficult as I thought. It sounds way more intuitive and non-geek-friendly than Windows. And I really have grown to like the way Apple does things ever since I’ve got my iPhone, while at the same time Windows irks me in more and more ways. Yet I’ve also heard about several blind people who have tried using Mac and it didn’t really work out too well, and because it’s not like I am incredibly tech savvy or anything, it felt risky, especially that Mac OS computers are not the cheapest in the world as everyone knows. So I was playing around with that idea for a long time until I figured that perhaps a cool golden mean would be getting an iPad, because I’ve heard of some blind users who just use an iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard as their primary device rather than a laptop or a computer, which they only use when something is just physically impossible to do on an iPad. Perhaps if I tried that, I would be able to say more decidedly in a couple of years how worth it and how risky for me getting a Mac is. And I guess in a year or two I’ll be able to apply for funding which you can get for an assistive device, and a computer counts as one. Since I don’t need anything more than a MacBook Air, perhaps the funding would even cover that if I’m lucky and counting right.

So in the end I got an iPad 8 and Apple says it should be here tomorrow and I’m really really curious and a little bit apprehensive. One thing I’m kind of afraid of not working out as well as I’d like is typing. I do a lot of writing, but while I have a Bluetooth keyboard for my iPhone as well as my Braille-Sense which works like a Braille Display and Bluetooth keyboard at once, I find writing on iPhone a pretty arduous experience, especially on the Braille-Sense which I prefer for longer writing because it’s easier and faster to review what I write. Except in the end it’s not because the cursor often flies around so it’s hard not to make mistakes, or in some apps it will randomly throw me out of the edit field after every few characters, or it will be very slow and freezy or otherwise buggy. Since iPad is essentially the same system, I’m not sure whether I can hope for much difference there. But it’s not like I am supposed to ditch the Windows computer and rely on the iPad for everything from tomorrow on. If, after a year or a few, I’ll come to the conclusion that I like the Apple ecosystem increasingly and the only thing that stops me from using iPad full-time is the typing, I might still get the Mac as I don’t think it has the same typing issues as iOS devices do.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee? 🙂

 

Question of the day (17th August).

What should every person do at least once?

My answer:

I’d say learn a language, or at least try to and experience what it feels like. I think it’s a very enriching and interesting experience and it makes me feel sad that a lot of people miss out on it entirely, without even knowing whether they’d like it or not, either because they don’t have any real motivation for it or because they think they don’t have a “talent” for it, whatever that elusive talent thing may be. Also the brain benefits long-term are a huge advantage in my opinion. Not to mention that it can open various doors for you, like to an entirely different culture and mentality, help you meet some interesting people. Most of all though, the reason why I think everyone should try it is that every language you know gives you a different perspective on things, a slightly, or perhaps sometimes not so slightly, I guess depending how different from each other your languages are, way of thinking, since language plays a huge role in how we think about or perceive different things. I’d even go as far as to say that with each language you acquire, be it in early childhood or later on, a different layer or aspect is added to your personality in a way, that is absolutely congruent with the rest of your personality and doesn’t create any conflict or anything, because your languages exist peacefully beside each other and complement each other rather than compete in your brain or exist in some separate, distinct realms, but speaking and/or thinking in more than one language simply makes you more multi-dimensional or something like that, and it lets you think more flexibly and in more ways.

Only there’s a problem, because at the same time I firmly believe that you have to actually, truly like your target language to do it and be successful at it and experience all the benefits of language-learning. If you don’t like it, there’s no point whatsoever. You’re neither going to be good at it (unless you seriously have some brain superpowers or are extremely disciplined and strong-willed) nor are you going to experience anything good from such learning. So while in theory I think we would all benefit from it, I think in practice one would first have to find a language that one finds really appealing and has some true motivation for learning it, because otherwise it just won’t work. I feel so much for all the kids who have to learn a foreign language they don’t like at school, like Sofi says she really doesn’t like English, although with her I’m not sure whether she seriously doesn’t get along with English as a language, or started to dislike it due to school and being unsuccessful at it. I – and it’s not just me –
always say that there’s no such thing as a language talent, unless you’re talking stuff like learning a native accent, but I think for most people who are accused of not having a talent or say so about themselves, the real problem is that they don’t really have much love for the language they’re learning, so it’s hardly surprising they’re not making much progress at it, or if they do, it feels painful and/or slow. Since I like learning languages people usually consider me very talented, but when I was learning German at school, which is a language I merely like and not love the way I do all “my” languages, I was very mediocre at it. Or when my Mum once had a dream to learn Italian (which, like all Romance languages, doesn’t really appeal to me very much in terms of sound and also I guess too many people like it for it to be truly loveable for me), and asked me to help her somehow, I tried to learn the basics, thinking just like my Mum that I’m apparently so good at languages so it’ll be no problem for me to learn and teach her the very basic stuff, except the grammar didn’t really make much sense to me and it all felt extremely arduous so I gave up after like two weeks. 😀 I feel for people who have to learn a language for work-related purposes but don’t have more of a relationship with it so it only feels stressful and forced and no fun at all. I guess it must be like being forced into an arranged marriage as opposed to being with someone you actually love, or making friends with someone solely because you’re colleagues and it’s useful rather than because you have anything in common and you want it. But there are so many languages in the world that I think if we all just looked around, or rather listened intently, most of us could find at least one language that we’d really fall in love with.

What’s such a thing in your opinion? 🙂

Question of the day (15th August).

Do you think anything good will come from the pandemic?

My answer:

I strongly believe so, but a lot of it may be on an individual level rather than more generalised, and the good vs bad outcomes may vary a lot for different people. We can already hear people who see a lot of upsides in it regarding their personal life, or their internal life, development etc. and a lot of people who are seriously struggling with all this and barely managing to stay sane, and I think there are loads of factors involved into it, from whether someone and their family has actually had been personally affected by Covid and how severely, to how people deal with being alone, to how people’s financial situation might have changed over this period, to how their overall health is doing and whether they’re at a very high risk or perhaps have a lot of health anxiety… So whatever I’ll be saying here is definitely not meant to regard all people, just some good outcomes that either I have experienced directly, or that I frequently see happening for people around me.

I like how you can do a lot more stuff online ever since the pandemic has started. In a way I’m surprised though that it seriously needed as much as a pandemic for people to figure out that, for example, you can work online, even in a field where there’s no such tradition really, that you can do school from home (of course there are a lot of cons to it as well but I think a large portion of them is also due to how people have had to adjust to this remote learning in so much rush, without more far-sighted thinking really, at least it’s definitely the case here, and some aspects of it are slightly irrational), that you can do concerts online and lots of other things. I guess once the pandemic is truly over, whenever that may be, a lot of it will come to an end, but I hope that still there will be more things that we will be able to do online if we so choose, than it was before the pandemic. Some people do better working from home, and in larger cities it certainly must help with the traffic. My Dad, who is a tanker driver and delivers fuel across the country, has been saying that one aspect of Covid he really likes is more low-key traffic.

I think it has helped a lot of families to connect more with each other. I’ve heard a lot of people saying that they have discovered some new hobby that they like spending their time doing, that they’d never have time for discovering, let alone learning, otherwise. A lot of people around me say they have benefited from having more free time, either because they’ve got to do things they’d never had time for before, or because they could simply spend some time with themselves and tune into themselves better. Interestingly a lot of people seem to have been reading more books. Some people have learned to cope with aloneness a bit better. For example our Sofi. Being alone is still very far from her preferred state, and she’ll always much prefer when a lot is going on around her, with a lot of people, but I think it’s good when you’re able to accept and manage somehow when things aren’t like this.

It’s also cool that we now get to appreciate our own countries more when it comes to travelling and vacationing. Rather than going to some distant country, locking themselves in a hotel with tourists from your own country and sitting by the pool with a drink, people seem to explore their own countries more here in Europe.

I think for many people, due to the hardships that they have experienced during this time, the pandemic might have also contributed to increased resilience.

As for myself, I haven’t really been affected by Covid very much on a personal level. So far, I feel extremely lucky that it hasn’t affected a lot of my family members, and those who have been affected had mostly mild cases. My gran was an exception, as prior to Covid, which she got shortly before last Christmas, she also had pneumonia, and then before the pneumonia she had bronchitis, so she had already been sick for a long time before she caught Covid, and we were all prepared that, given her very recent infections and her age (she’s over 80) she would most likely die. Thanks to all the dedication of my cousin, who is a doctor, and my gran’s own fierce will to live, she made it through and is perfectly healthy now, so people say she’s indestructible. She really wasn’t sickly or anything before that bronchitis, so I guess her immune system must be very strong given her age. We also haven’t been affected financially, and, except Sofi, no one in my immediate family felt particularly deprived of human contact, probably because we’re already five people living here plus Misha & Jocky, and my Dad and Olek were still working so they got to hang out with people there. I, as you know, have been happy being able to reduce the outside peopling to almost non-existent, and I work at home regardless. Not having to deal with people as much means my social anxiety has reduced quite a noticeable bit, which is nice. And, like I already mentioned, it’s so cool having access to more things from home. For example, last year, when most of the world was in lockdown, I was able to take part in a few concerts of my favourite artists online, in which I certainly wouldn’t be able to take part otherwise, because here people don’t even know they exist so I’d have to travel to other countries, which is tricky even without Covid involved, and even if it wasn’t, being a hermit I would still definitely not be able to relish them quite as much as I could from the comfort of my lil hermitage, with Misha laying next to me, not being distracted by anything from immersing myself in music.

What good things do you see, if any? 🙂

Question of the day.

What are you thinking about?

My answer:

Okay, so this will be a rathr rambly post, as I also want to fill you in a bit and get some stuff out.

Today in general I’ve been thinking a lot about Sofi as I’m kind of worried about her and so is Mum. You see, Sofi is very slim, and very tall, and she keeps growing, even though she’s already like 180 cm. She also has long bones, long limbs and rather weak joints and muscles. She has done several different sport disciplines, but she hasn’t developed much muscle as a result and was always super quick to get injuries and stuff from it. The last time she tried some new sport (athletics) she ended up with a really painful ankle after just a few days of training, which had to rest for two weeks. People (but especially my Mum, who, also being very tall, I think has some unfulfilled ambitions of her own regarding doing sports as a teenager) have always pushed her to do sports because she’s so tall and fit and in this day and age where kids spend ages glued to their phones it’s the best thing for a kid to do. And Sofi seemed into it herself, but since that athletics episode it looks like she’s had enough and my Mum is no longer pushing her either.

Due to all those injuries, and sometimes without any obvious injuries at all, for many years Sofi’s had all sorts of aches and pains, mostly in her knees. I think everyone here has lost track of how many times she’s had her knees checked by doctors/physios, she also had knee braces several times. But with the exception of times when she had some obvious injury that she could recall herself, everyone has been saying, that it’s just “growing pains” and/or that she needs to put on some weight. I don’t know, I way less than her and I don’t really know what it’s like having joint pain, and I’ve never had anything broken, so I’ve no idea what’s weight to do with it. She’s had several bones broken, but also had her fingers in splints or however this thing is called in English several times, and I don’t know any other person, or at least am unaware of it, who’d ever break their finger, let alone as often and as easily as Sofi. But people have always said it’s nothing abnormal because our Dad has also pretty fragile bones, he’s also similarly built, and he’s had dozens of fractures when he was younger, including once breaking his ankle simply by tripping on a doorstep. I’ve honestly always thought that her pain tolerance must be very low or something because whenever she’d play with someone more dynamically, everything would hurt her and sometimes it seemed quite out of proportion, so that sometimes my Dad made fun of her and asked her to name all the places where she’s hurting, and she’d always have a few, but then as my Mum says if nothing hurts you, you can’t be alive, right?…

Sofi has like a double room, one part of this room is just like a normal room, and then there’s a hole in the wall and you can go in there and it’s like a little cave or something, like a mini room inside of that bigger room. Sofi reallyy likes it and has always spent a lot of time there. And earlier this year she decided to move her bed in there, or rather move the bed out of her main room and put a mattress into that mini room. That mini room, however, didn’t have a window, so one had to be put in there if she was to sleep there. Sofi really liked her new, cosy bedroom and always said she likes to sleep there way more. But then summer came and then a heatwave and it turned out that the little window doesn’t really change much, and even with a fan on her bedroom was always flamin’ hot. So she slept in my room for the time being, as I have AC and blinds here that make life in heat more bearable now, but since it was so hot and clammy we definitely didn’t want to sleep together in one bed. And I certainly didn’t have the space here for Sofi’s huge matress. So she had to make herself a makeshift bed. That was a huge ceremony as she couldn’t make it soft enough while not being too hot. She woke up in the morning complaining of a very painful hip, saying that her bed was still too hard, or maybe it’s her hip that’s too hard and now got bruised. She really had a huge bruise on it and I was quite puzzled that you could get yourself something like this when sleeping on such a load of sheets and blankets, plus Misha’s lamb skin, on the floor which does have a flooring. But then we managed to discover the culprit – on the floor, under all those layers of bedding, there lay Misha’s little iron ball – like the ones in car bearings. – Sounds like Sofi’s the real life Princess on the Pea! 😀

But the next night she slept at me, she woke up with even worse hip pain, so that it hurt her even when something or someone touched it a bit more firmly. And there was no ball to blame this time round.

The bruise took long to disappear, but it finally did, yet the pain hasn’t until this day, even though it’s been a month. So a couple weeks ago Mum finally took Sofi to the doctor to refer her for an xRay or something. Sofi’s previous paediatrician has recently retired so they visited this doctor for the first time ever. And, as Mum said, that was a very good thing, because she looked at Sofi from a fresh perspective, rather than “Ah, it’s this tall girl who’s always hurting”, and in her opinion it might be something else entirely than growing or thinness that causes Sofi’s constant pain problems, along with fractures and unstoppable growth.

She apparently had a long, thorough look at Sofi and said she thinks Sofi might have something called Marfan syndrome. People with this condition are usually very tall, very thin, have looong fingers, little muscle, fragile bones, often some problems with posture, very flexible joints, are near-sighted and have various heart problems and probably a dozen other things. Everything from what I mentioned except heart problems sounds very much Sofi. And even though Sofi herself doesn’t have heart problems, my Dad has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and like I said he has the same kind of body shape. My siblings and i have all been tested whether we have cardiomyopathy too but so far no one of us does, including Sofi. However sometimes when Sofi’s tired or stressed she complains that her heart aches, and sometimes it seems like she can be in a fair bit of pain from it. I would think that’s also abnormal, because I’ve never experienced heart pain, but my Mum says it is normal that people can have heart pain when they’re stressed so we’ve no idea if Sofi’s within the norm or not.

The only other time I heard of Marfan syndrome before was shortly before I was supposed to be checked for that cardiomyopathy thing myself, I could have been 17 or thereabouts. I was about to go ride on my horse and my Mum was explaining to my instructor that I won’t be able to come next week at the same time because I’ll have the cardiologist appointment, and my instructor suddenly got all panicky: “Oh! Why?! What’s going on?! Do you have some heart condition that I don’t know about?” so of course we assured her that no and that I’m just getting tested because of Dad’s illness, and she was all relieved and said she was just worried because she had another girl she worked with who had some sight problems and was slim and “tall like you” and she had Marfan syndrome, and apparently generally horse riding is a no-no when you have this. Fyi, I’m not really tall, I’m only 168 cm and I actually have hypopituitarism which essentially means that I had to get growth hormone injections as a teenager to grow beyond 140 cm, and before I started taking it I was short and plump. My endocrinologist, who was short and plump herself, wanted me to grow more and more and more, “So that you’re tall like your Mum”, but thankfully my Mum put a stop to that before it was too late. But as I started taking it, suddenly everyone, especially at my school, was “Omg you’re so tall!!!” and neither me nor my family could understand why so it always made us laugh, because if I was tall, what sort of giant Olek must have been to them, when he’s over 1,90. 😀 I suppose it must have been people’s autosuggestion because well, my Mum is tall, my Dad is tall, everyone else from my family who had ever been to my school is tall, plus I suddenly got a lot slimmer on that hormone so I guess slim people look taller than they are. Now hardly anyone still says that to me but my riding instructor happens to be very short, so she always goes on and on and on about how she’d like to have long legs like mine for riding etc. I actually do have very long and thin fingers, long fingers can be useful, but mine aren’t quite as long as Sofi’s, and like her I am also a lot more physically similar to my Dad and his family rather than Mum’s, but thankfully I haven’t got his bones. One time when I was at school, one of the boarding school staff was mentioning something about Britney Spears to my roommates and me and how she can throw her legs behind her head. I never did it, and I’ve never been particularly sporty or anything, but I thought to myself that it can’t be that difficult, and I decided it would be a fun idea to try and find out if I can do it myself, so that was what I did right there, and she was quite amazed that I can do it and freaked out and urged me to stop, saying that I’ll stay like that forever lol, even though it wasn’t much of a problem for me to do it at all so I wondered why so much fuss. 😀 But apparently not everyone can do it, so I sometimes did it just out of the blue, in favourable circumstances, to see how people would react, especially if I wanted to avert their attention from something else. I’d put my legs behind my head and rock in this position for a while like I was deadly bored and this was as good a thing as any that I could do in such situation, and people would often start yelling “Aaah what’s she doing?!” 😀 But when I tried my little trick on Dad he wasn’t surprised at all and said he did that too when he was younger. But can no longer do it. Interestingly, neither can Sofi and she never could, even though she’s way better at all things fit than me, so she’s envious, even though she can do all the typical things that people with Marfan’s apparently should be able to do like clenching your fingers in a fist and sticking your thumb out the other side. For me and Olek only a little bit of our thumbs go out, but Sofi can stick out half of her thumb. When I was a child people would also often comment on how I do weird things with my fingers that they wouldn’t be able to do, but about which I didn’t even think. Yet like I said, I’ve never had the aches and pains, nor heart problems, and I have nothing wrong with my eyes as such, only optic nerves, so I guess I only have some similar features. That makes me wonder if Sofi also just has similar features, or is it seriously a full-blown illness, even if she’s never had a surgery or anything like that?

So, going back to that doctor, Sofi got a referral for the hip xRay, but also for genetic testing for this weird thing, which is going to take place in February so she still has ages to wait and in the meantime my Mum is getting really worked up about whether Sofi has this or not. Initially we thought it’s probably a false alarm because despite all these aches and pains, plus Sofi being a bit near-sighted, it’s not like she has a lot of health problems, she has nothing wrong with her heart. Mum read that in the past, where there weren’t so many surgeries that now help people with this condition to lead long and as healthy as possible lives, people with this syndrome would die at about age 30. Well, if we assume Sofi has it, then my Dad has it even more definitely, and he only needed one surgery which has dealt with the problem quite well, and he doesn’t have quite so many problems as it seems people with Marfan’s typically have. But then I guess it’s a spectrum and people may have more severe or milder symptoms, but it’s still the same condition. I’m just not sure what to think. I guess I could not think about it at all until we know, but my brain doesn’t like to not think, so I hardly have a real choice.

At the beginning, as much as Mum was quite depressed and anxious about the whole thing, Sofi seemed quite happy. Soon after Mum told me the news and we talked it through, Sofi came to me all happy go-lucky and said: “Bibiel, guess what? The doctor said I have morphine.” She couldn’t remember what that thing was called, but as soon as she said “morphine” she knew it wasn’t that, and she knows what morphine is, so we both were laughing like crazy. 😀 So I asked her what this morphine is all about, as I didn’t want to show that I already knew about it from Mum, I wanted to know how she understood it and how she felt about it. And she said that it’s something that makes you tall and thin and makes your joints and bones and muscles hurt like hers and makes your fingers real long (whereupon she proudly presented to me how her fingers actually meet the criteria and how it’s so cool), and sometimes it screws your heart up. So I asked her what she thinks about it and she said it’s actually quite cool, because she doesn’t have any heart problems, and she no longer wants to do sports anyway, and this will be a good way to respond to people who make stupid comments about how tall she is. “Yeah, it’s ’cause I have morphine”. 😀 And it’s a fun random fact to tell people about yourself. Sofi has fairly recently started her YouTube channel and has wanted to do a facts about me video so I could see how such a super weird fact would be valuable.

But her hip kept hurting, and when she had an xRay it didn’t reveal anything at all. The xRay lady was also apparently real nasty to her, pressing her hip really hard, I guess not intentionally, and when Sofi winced she asked: “Does it really hurt you so much?” No, for flip’s sake, why would you think so? I just like getting xRays y’know? I had one half a year ago but it’s so much fun, and I was kind of bored so Mum thought we’d go and have another one. That wasn’t what Sofi told her, of course, just my brain’s allergic reaction to bullshit.

But a few days after the xRay, Sofi’s hip has started to hurt even more, so that she even finds it difficult to fall and stay asleep, and even if she herself touches the hip lightly it hurts like crazy. Even the seatbelt hurts. So when it started to hurt more she once came to me and, with a lot more concern than before asked: “Bibiel, what do you think, do I have this morphine or not?” “How would I know such a thing?” “I know, but what’s your instinct?” I said that my instinct is (or was, at the time) that she doesn’t have it, because she’d have way more problems with her health, and so would Dad. It’s honestly a difficult thing to have any gut feelings about since I barely have a clue about things like that. Last night Sofi’s hip hurt particularly badly because she bumped it accidentally with her elbow, and she couldn’t fall asleep. And I asked her if she wasn’t prescribed any pain killers for it at all. Sofi said no, because there’s nothing on the xRay. Holy shit, what sort of logic is that? I don’t know, obviously I’m not a doctor, but if I were, my dr Bibiel logic would be, if a patient has a lot of pain and she can’t sleep, especially if she’s a kid, and I can’t figure out what’s causing the pain, and the xRay doesn’t show anything, I’d at least try to relieve the pain if I’m absolutely sure that nothing else can be done to actually deal with the cause of the pain. Besides, yes Sofi will have that genetic testing in February, but couldn’t they keep looking for a direct source of the pain regardless? I don’t know, ultrasounds, whatever is used in such cases? I shared my reflections with Mum today morning, and she’s going to get Sofi to have an ultrasound soon, but we both think that this should have come from the doctor. We don’t even know if ultrasound is indeed the next thing that Sofi should have, it was just the first thought that popped into my head so that’s the direction in which Mum’s going first.

But what worries Mum even more than Sofi’s hip pain is her growth. My Mum is very much into hormones, as she’s going through menopause herself and has been trying to figure it all out and help herself with her very obnoxious symptoms. She uses natural progesterone and estrogen creams, tries to eat healthily and uses other things that help with hormonal balance I don’t even know what they are, reads books about hormones in females and generally educates herself in this regard all the time. And, since she already has some experience with me when it comes to hormones and growth/puberty, she started wondering right after Sofi got this potential diagnosis, whether/how Marfan syndrome may affect hormones, since people with this thing are so tall. She found that, while unlike what she thought Marfan syndrome isn’t directly linked to hormones, apparently what endocrinologists do with girls with this syndrome when they keep growing and growing is they give them estrogen to trigger menstruation, and that apparently stops further growth. I didn’t even know there’s such a relationship between menstruation and growth and that as soon as the former starts the latter is over. The way I put it is probably very simplified and maybe even not entirely correct but that’s just the gist of it. Apparently girls with Marfan’s also tend to start their periods later than average, which would be true for Sofi, who is 14 now and still hasn’t got it. Since Sofi is 180 cm now, Mum, who is exactly the same height and not particularly loving it, really doesn’t want her to grow even more, because it’s so impractical, so she gave Sofi the estrogen cream and instructed her how she should use and dose it. I’m not sure whether it’s a good thing the way she does it, just based on her own research. I mean, she’s surely very knowledgeable by now, but her knowledge is mostly limited to how hormones work in middle-aged women and it would suck if she screwed up something with Sofi’s hormones really bad just because she no longer wants her to grow.

Mum’s getting really neurotic about it all, which I can’t really blame her for. And today she went to do her nails, and spilled out some of her worries at the beautician, who was oh so helpful. I mean, I’m sure she meant very well, but she only worked my Mum up even more. My Mum explained to her how she’s worried that Sofi still hasn’t gotten her period, and keeps growing, and that Mum doesn’t want her to become a giraffe, and is worried that she still isn’t menstruating for so long. And the beautician said that she also didn’t menstruate for very long, so her mum took her to the gynaecologist and it turned out she had polycystic ovaries, so she’d advise my Mum to go get Sofi checked out as well. Uhhh… Mum came home and spent an hour flicking through her books, trying to find stuff about polycystic ovaries, and since all her books concern mostly older women, it seems like a lot of what she’s read is quite depressing.

I highly doubt (for what gut feelings are worth) that Sofi has this particular thing. I don’t think I got my period earlier than Sofi. I’m probably not the best example since according to my endocrinologist it was not certain if I’d ever have it, but still, I guess 14 is too early an age to wail over lack of period. But since I usually pick up people’s moods super quick, I’m feeling worried too. So that’s why I’m thinking about it.

How about you? 🙂