Question of the day (18th December).

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

My answer:

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

To give you some more specific examples, Sofi is very uncomfortable when it comes to talking about all things sexual, even though my Mum isn’t this sort of person who would discourage healthy discussion about it or who wouldn’t make her children aware of the birds and the bees when it seems appropriate. Sofi’s repulsed by all that but at the same time interested in learning about various things to do with sex, and the weirdest thing is that, if ever she does want to talk about it, ask questions and stuff, the only person she seems comfortable doing that with is me, and she says she is really embarrassed to talk about it with Mum despite Mum definitely encourages her. I say it’s weird because, well, unlike my Mum, I don’t have any practical experience in the field, so I always tell her that she should talk about it to Mum, but she doesn’t want to. Sometimes I think I should seriously consider becoming a couples’ counsellor or something like that, because people often come with things like that or their relationship problems to me when I have no idea about it because like I often say I’ve never even dated or anything. ๐Ÿ˜€ So anyway, Sofi has a problem even with the word sex, and other words around this topic like body parts, and it seems like her embarrassment about using them is part of why she finds the topic so difficult to talk about. So I figured the best way to get rid of at least that part of the problem is to change the words. It certainly doesn’t work in all situations and circumstances, but I felt that it would here and it does, though it doesn’t get rid of all Sofi’s problems, of course. So we started creating our own, new, unique sexual vocabulary. The process was really simple, and funny. We got a random and would open it at some random word, and then from then on that would be the word we used instead of some specific sex-related word, if we both agreed that it worked well and fit. Some are really crazy, for example for sex itself, we use the word biel which means whiteness in Polish, and the crazy part about it is that I often go by Bibiel so it sounds very similar. ๐Ÿ˜€ For vagina, we drew the word jabล‚ko, which means apple, except in the end we use the word jabล‚co more often, which is like the opposite of a diminutive. I guess there’s no such phenomenon in English but in Polish we not only have diminutives but also an opposite thing which is used to make something sound either pejorative, or bigger than standard, or sometimes also kinda affectionate but in a sort of rougher way than when you’re using a diminutive, or just plain funnier. For us, it’s about that last thing. We made that whole vocabulary thing up before either of us had any Apple products, but even now that we do, we still use this word because Sofi got used to it, and sometimes things get quite hilarious. We also use it in other contexts now, not just to mean the actual vagina, but for example we’ll sometimes say to each other: “Shut up your apple” when we don’t really care what the other has to say, but it’s more good-humoured and teasing rather than insulting despite the way it sounds.

Also, since we’re talking about sort of intimate or taboo or politically incorrect vocabulary, we’ve invented something else quite recently, about a month ago when we had that wave of sickness go through our house. Maybe goofiness is another symptom of Covid, or maybe we were just too bored or something. But we sometimes just do have phases like that. ๐Ÿ˜€ Namely, our Dad said that someone was an asshole, and then Sofi had some weird musings that she shared out loud, about how it’s okay to use vulgar words in a derogatory way (specifically dupek (which means asshole in Polish) for men and pipa (which means pussy) for women, but it would sound a lot more inappropriate if you called someone an anus or a vagina or something like that). That made my Dad and me laugh and my Dad said that if we’d use anus (odbyt in Polish) for men, then rectum (odbytnica in Polish) would sound more appropriate for women and we bot had a fit of giggles. And then we started using these words and calling each other that and Dad happily joined because he really has some weird liking for using neologisms of his own creation that sound like horrible insults to refer to his loved ones in what’s meant to be an affectionate way. ๐Ÿ˜€ In fact, Dad seemed to have most fun with it. After a few days, however, we naturally stopped using rectum for some reason and we all referred to each other as anuses, regardless of gender. It was only for a few days until we got bored of this, but in the meantime we used that a lot and Mum looked at us as if we were crazy. I was thinking what would someone from the outside think if they just came to us and sat quietly and observed things, and hear our Dad come to us yelling excitedly: “Yo what’s up, little anuses?!” and me respond phlegmatically: “Nothing, giant anus”. They’d probably feel like involving social services or something. ๐Ÿ˜€ I think if Dad wouldn’t get so excited about it, we might have ended up using it more between each other with Sofi, but he talked like that ALL the time so it became boring and rather childish for the two of us very quickly.

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

here.

How about you and your family, or other people you mingle with a lot? ๐Ÿ™‚

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? ๐Ÿ™‚

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? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What is your favourite soft beverage?

My answer:

I wrote about it many times so I guess if you’re a regular it’s going to be predictable: kefir! I really love kefir! That being said, what I drink most often, in-between meals, is usually water. Kefir is very refreshing and quenches thirst very well, but I think water does even better and in our family we generally drink a lot of water.

You? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

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

My answer:

A lot of language stuff, imo, is fairly easy to apply in practice but freakishly difficult to explain in theory. I know I am terrible at explaining language, or so it seems, and so it always irks me when people assume that just because you know a language, you can teach it to other people. I think knowing/being able to do something doesn’t automatically mean you’re able to teach it to others. It shows particularly well if you try to help someone learn your native language when you actually have no experience of how to teach it to non-natives. It seems easy because, well, you know the language, but it’s not. It’s freakishly difficult to explain things to someone for whom it’s just not intuitive yet how your language works. I suppose it might particularly be a problem for me because I tend to learn a bit differently than people do in conventional language schools and stuff. I learn my own way and I comprehend things my own way, which doesn’t have to be right for everyone and which is difficult to explain to other people who are outside of my mind. By my own way, I mostly mean that I don’t really focus on theory so much. Like, in normal schools and many language schools, there’s so much emphasis on grammar, and more often than not, it’s done in a very theoretical way, like rather than just learning grammar through practice and exposure and noticing different patterns in it and stuff, there’s all the notetaking about what present simple is and how it’s used and then memorising it along with example sentences, and then doing exercises in a textbook which consist of filling the blanks in sentences with correct grammar forms or place the words in the right order to make a logical-looking sentence. To me, that’s quite boring. Also, when I was going to school, I seriously struggled with all these theoretical definitions. And it made me a bit concerned that perhaps something is wrong with me and that I’m not doing something right. After learning some grammar structure at school, I usually didn’t have huge problems using it properly, though of course I’d make mistakes sometimes like any non-native and I still do, but remembering the whole theory thing… nah, it was always rather abstractive to me. Even now, if you asked me about what is, say, a subjunctive, or even how articles work in English, I may have a problem explaining it, but if it’s some structure that I’ve become sufficiently familiar with, I’ll be able to apply it in practice anyway. I used to think it’s weird and perhaps just another example of how quirky my brain is and how it so often doesn’t do things the normal way. It was only when I started to try and help non-natives learn Polish language when I realised that, in a way, perhaps my way of perceiving and learning/absorbing grammar is better, because it looks a bit more like how natives perceive their language and thus I guess is a bit more natural. Inn Polish, we have something called reflexive verbs, and one guy who was learning Polish and with whom I was penpalling asked me if I could help him figure out how that works. Well, except… I don’t know… I just use them, and I know that I use them right, because it feels right, and any other way would feel wrong. I tried my best to help him out but writing all that down in theory seemed so infinitely more complicated than it actually is. I don’t need to know the definition of a reflexive verb in the Polish language to be able to use one and know when to use one etc. I highly doubt that there are many people in Poland who aren’t linguists, teachers or real huge language geeks or something like that who’d know what reflexive verbs are at all, let alone be able to clearly explain to someone how they work, just like people in the Anglophone countries don’t memorise all the irregular verbs because they just know how to use them. Because, of course, we acquire our native languages through constant exposure to them, rather than studying textbooks and memorising definitions. By that, I’m not saying that studying textbooks when learning a foreign language is total bullshit, I do it too (assuming I have access to such things as textbooks in a specific language, I don’t have any Welsh ones for example and I don’t really feel the need to) just that, if you base solely on a textbook, it’ll never become natural. Also, unfortunately you can’t just acquire a new language as an adult, or not nearly as easily as a small child would, even with a lot of exposure and practice, but for me personally, observing how the language is used and thus getting concrete examples, is more intuitive, and far more interesting, than basing primarily on dry, often long-winded and full of exceptions to the rules textbook definitions, and it clearly gives me more than the dry learning, given how insanely fast my English started progressing as soon as I started self-teaching and distanced myself a bit from the way I was being taught at school. I also often try to help Sofi with her English homework, but I always end up exasperated at all the boring theory in there they have to digest and all the silly exercises. No wonder that the poor kid hates English. ๐Ÿ˜€

What is such thing in your opinion? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What’s your biggest addiction?

My answer:

I think dreaming. Daydreaming, imagining things, visualising (though perhaps visualising isn’t the best word to use when you’re blind but I can’t think of a more adequate one) and generally spending time within my complex Brainworld structures. It’s a lot of fun, and I love it in there, but I’ve noticed that I do it so much and so often, and have done throughout my life, that I’m often pulled in there involuntarily, when I should and/or want to rather be focusing on something else, and then it can be a little frustrating.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What’s the coolest thing you own?

My answer:

Well, I own a lot of things that I guess people could consider cool either because they’re beautiful, or interesting, or even because it’s something they’ve never seen before like some of my gem stones or the more niche tech equipment for example, , but for me personally, it’s Misha who’s the coolest. Misha’s not really a thing, is he, but I do own him, officially anyway, as weird as that sounds, so I think he counts and I don’t own anything that would be cooler than Misha.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

If you had two days left to live, what would you do?

My answer:

Most importantly for me as a Christian and Catholic, I’d make sure to go to Confession, which I’m going to do soon anyway as it’s Advent and I haven’t yet been to confession since it’s started, and receive Holy Communion, so I could die peacefully, and I’d try to focus even more on my spiritual life than I already do. Other than that though, I don’t think I’d do much differently. As I’ve said it many times, I’m not the kind of person who’s extremely attached to life as such so I wouldn’t be despairing or trying to do as much as possible, worry about stuff like writing my last will etc. Well, maybe I would write some kind of will but there wouldn’t be much to write about really, it’s not like I have a dozen of children waiting for their legacy lol. I suppose I’d leave most of my things to Sofi. I’d certainly leave my computer to her, because that’s what she’s waiting for anyway, hoping that I’ll get a MacBook soon and become comfortable with it enough that I’ll give my current desktop PC to her. ๐Ÿ˜€ I’d want to talk through some gravely important things with my Mum, but perhaps I’d simply write all that down instead, would be way easier for me. Since I’m doing well health-wise at this point, I assume it would have to be some kind of accident or something that would kill me, so before that happens, I think I also might want to take an advantage of the fact that I wouldn’t be dying of some awful illness and would want to do some fun things. I’d also spend loads of time with Misha.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

You are tasked with pissing off your entire neighbourhood. What do you do?

My answer:

We generally have pretty good relationships with all of our close neighbours, we’re not very close with any of them but they’re nice people, so I don’t have any reason nor would I want to piss them off, but if I really had to, I have several ideas so I could use all of them or just one, depending how badly I would need to piss them. The first and most obvious thing that comes to my brain is a classic – listen to music at full volume with as much bass as possible. – This way I could also take revenge on our neighbour who pisses us off with his music every summer, when he works in his backyard, listening to the radio, which is not too loud for him because it’s in a distance from where he is, but he puts it in such place that it naturally makes the lows sound really deep and the sound comes out as if from a box or something, and you can constantly hear a rumbling, vibrating beat as if there was a huge party going on or from my room it often sounds more as if some engine was running out there constantly, even though it’s not like he listens to something that’s full of beats in itself, that’s just what it sounds like from our house even when it’s ads on the radio. ๐Ÿ˜€ He works like that all day long and it is particularly audible (or should I say perceptible because it’s more like you feel all this beat rather than hear it) in the kitchen, which is where my Mum feels best and is most of the time even when not cooking or anything, and sometimes it makes her go seriously crazy and she says she feels like she’s vibrating inside from it. My Dad asked him very politely a couple times and explained that it sounds really shitty from here and he is always understanding and apologetic until the next summer, so every time it’s more embarrassing for my Dad to remind him to turn it down a bit or get it out of wherever he keeps that radio. So yeah, I’m not really a vengeful person or not in such pety situations anyway, and I am pretty sure he doesn’t do it because he’s mean and wants to piss us off but simply has such a habit, but if I had to piss people off anyway, I think making him feel the way we do would make it easier for him to change the habit.

Then I’d do something with the Internet, cut the Internet cables or turn off the whole electric for the entire neighbourhood, but first I’d have to get more cell data on my phone so I myself could survive. ๐Ÿ˜€ That sounds like quite a lot of hassle though and I don’t know how pissed I’d have to be at someone to go to such lengths.

I could get our Jocky involved. Give him some laxatives and take him for a walk round the area so that he could freely defecate in front of poor people’s houses. That could be a revenge on my Dad’s behalf as we also get a lot of random people’s dogs’ poop in front of our house and it really pisses him.

You? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What is one little thing you can always count on to make you happy when you’re feeling down?

My answer:

Well, my answer to questions like this is always the same and very simple – Misha! – I’m SO glad I have Misha in my life and the longer he is in my life, the more difficult and eerie it is for me to imagine how I could have ever lived without Misha and not feel like something was missing. Well, perhaps I did feel it but just didn’t know it was Misha that was missing. Misha is a real help. He won’t always make me happy as such, and this also depends on how deep down exactly I am, but he’ll always make me at least a bit happier and that’s always appreciated.

What is it for you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day (6th December).

If you had to choose another period from world history to live in, what would it be and why? Do you think you could survive in that time?

My answer:

We had a very similar question over a half year ago, so you can read

my answer here.

That earlier question didn’t include the bit about surviving, but I think I covered it in my answer quite extensively. It would certainly be super tricky to adapt, I seriously can’t imagine living without electricity and Internet, but I guess I’d get used to it over time and maybe would find good enough ways to compensate for that.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

Who is a character from a classic novel you really like, or at least relate to?

My answer:

If Anne of Green Gables is considered a classic, can all L.M. Montgomery be considered as such? If yes, then it’ll surely be one of her characters. While my favourite book/series by Montgomery is Emily of New Moon, my favourite female character from her books is actually Valancy Stirling, from The Blue Castle. I don’t know what it is about her, but I like her SO, sooo much, she was one of my first literary fazas. Also I find her and her life oddly relatable, and I can’t even put my finger exactly on why, but I suppose it’s more about the details rather than the full picture. I find Emily even more relatable, but slightly less likeable. My favourite male character created by L. M. Montgomery is Dean Priest from the Emily books, whom a lot of people consider to be a creep because he was in love with Emily even though she was I guess like twelve when they met and he was over ten years older than her, but I’ve never really seen it this way and I don’t think their relationship is creepy even though it doesn’t work out in the end. I think Dean is a very interesting character, and I also had a sort of faza on him, and when I first read Emily I was actually quite disconsolate to find out that, in the end, despite having planned to marry Dean, she chooses to marry Ted who has no personality imo and is absolutely meh. It took me some time to understand that it probably really would be a bit of a disaster with Dean and all Emily’s writing dreams would fly out the window. Also Pat Gardiner from Pat of the Silver Bush. I don’t love her, and the books are meh compared with some of the better books by Montgomery but I nevertheless found her extremely relatable when I was a kid because of her love for her home, and I was away from mine at the time, and I understood her need for stability and being where she belongs to, and her fear of changes.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What is your least favourite board game?

My answer:

I don’t think I have one, because I dislike most board games equally much. In our family there are people who either really like playing board games, or find it extremely boring. Both my siblings love board games, my Dad also enjoys playing them sometimes like on holidays when we’re spending time together or something. My Mum really doesn’t like it and says board games make her want to sleep, and it’s very similar with me. It’s just not particularly exciting really. My extended family also seems to be divided into these two camps. My Mum knows how much Sofi enjoys board games though, and she likes it far more when Sofi plays them rather than sits on her phone, so she’ll often play them anyway just to occupy Sofi and make her happy. I used to play along with my family as a young child but now it’s been ages since I last played a board game. The only board game that I’ve played quite a lot and actually really like is Scrabble, since it’s a word game. I got Scrabble adapted for the blind from a friend, which sighted people can also play just like normal, and she also taught me how to play it and we’d play it a lot when she visited me at the boarding school and I like that. Then I took it home with me and played it a lot particularly with my grandad and Olek, but ever since we’ve moved houses it must have got lost somewhere because I haven’t been able to find it which is a real pity.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

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

My answer:

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

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

You? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

I am putting off…

My answer:

…helping Sofi with her school work. Since it turned out after all that BOTH of my parents have Covid (which wasn’t really much of a surprise as they have very typical symptoms so I don’t really know how come my Dad’s first test was negative and the doctor said it was bronchitis) we’ve been in quarantine. Sofi has been really mad about it because of course she’s bored and most of the time she quite likes going to school and she wants to, but she obviously can’t now. She’s also a little stressed about having to catch up with school work, which is a little out of character for her, she never used to worry about such things, but well, maybe it’s because she has exams in April. She left most of her notebooks and stuff in her school locker and today finally someone from her class had mercy on her and brought them to her. Someone is also sending her what they’re doing at school over SnapChat. So finally she can catch up but Sofi doesn’t like working alone, and also probably genuinely needs help with some stuff, and asked me to assist her or something, though I don’t really know what it is that they’re doing at school right now and she didn’t tell me, so I’ve no idea how much help I’ll be. I think mostly it’s just that she doesn’t want to be alone and wants to have audience as always. Also the way it works with Sofi, if she has something to do that she really doesn’t like, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on that because more often than not she’ll do it for five minutes and then go back to doing something more fun. So it’s possible that if no one helps her, she’ll never end up doing her entire school work because she’ll be distracted by a gazillion things. Except, to be honest, I’m getting a bit tired. I spent almost the whole day with Sofi yesterday, and the day before, and it’s fun, but my social battery is quite low at this point. ๐Ÿ˜€ Sofi’s really absorbing, and man does she have moodswings! She’s not as absorbing as she used to be when she was younger, but she still is. Normally I’d ask Mum to help so I could have time to recharge, but Mum’s sick and not doing very well and I’m sure the last thing anyone would want while being sick is to listen to Sofi’s incessant chatter and have to answer the neverending stream of questions. So I told Sofi that I will help her today so that she can at least start catching up on what her class has done so far this week, at least I could surely help her with English or something, but I so don’t feel like it, so I’ve been putting it off. I guess for now Sofi’s satisfied with it and, rather than trying to do something by herself, is procrastinating on her phone, because if it was otherwise she’d be coming to me every five minutes and asking me when I’ll help her. ๐Ÿ˜€ As much as I often feel kind of envious of Sofi, because I often have a feeling it is so fun and uncomplicated to be Sofi, I really don’t envy her that huge need she has for near constant human presence around her, it must be difficult.

You? ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

I recently bought…

My answer:

…Well, the books for my Mum and Sofi that I’m going to give them as Christmas gifts. Other than that, our house continues to be a hospital (now it’s also my Mum who is sick with something that looks like it might well be Covid, she had a test today so we’ll see) and me and Sofi order food for lunch for ourselves every day and today I got us some pierogi which were really yum.

You? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day (28th November).

I am listening to…

My answer:

…something nearly all the time, haha. Today I’ve mostly been listening to a Swedish-Gambian soulpop artist called Seinabo Sey. I’m not a huge fan of soul, though it’s not like I dislike it as a whole either, but I do like a lot of her songs.

You? ๐Ÿ™‚