Question of the day (17th September).

Hi people! πŸ™‚

Have you ever had couscous, or do you like it?

My answer:

Yes, I have had it. But let me give you a bit of a backstory first as I guess it might be interesting. The first time I had couscous was around the time when I started primary or perhaps during nursery yet. I had an aunt back then, who wasn’t my real, biological aunt, but I always called her aunt anyway and will always think of her as such. And whenever I think about couscous, I immediately think of her. πŸ˜€ She lived very close to my boarding school, and at some point during nursery, when my Mum realised that I was struggling there and wanted to do something about it, she was looking for a flat or a room to rent there so that she could be closer to me and so that we could live there at least temporarily and some of the time during the year. The prices were really high though in that part of the country and there weren’t that many satisfying offers anyway, and so finally during her search my Mum phoned just another real estate agent, who didn’t have anything to offer for her but felt really moved by our situation as it seemed and offered that, since she lived so close to the boarding school, she could be like my aunt and visit me or I could visit her and perhaps having someone like this would make things easier for me even though it wouldn’t be my actual family. Mum was euphoric, though I remember being rather skeptical about the idea. But it actually turned out to be a great thing, we got along very easily and I grew very attached to her. It wasn’t quite like as if I lived with my family and it didn’t resolve all the problems, but it did make things easier. I absolutely adored spending time in her house which was very different from my ownn or from any houses I had been to so far. I visited her on weekends or we went out somewhere. When my Mum couldn’t be at stuff like different contests, Nativity plays or other such that I might have taken part in, she would often come and cheer me, despite she neither had to nor actually should as she was chronically ill and had something with her immune system so it was a bit risky. When my Mum came to me for the weekend or longer rather than took me home, she let us stay at her home upstairs so we didn’t have to continuously spend the time in the boarding school. She was extremely altruistic, to the point that you could consider it foolish or extremely naive. My family and her had a lot in common, though also at the same time she was very different from them which attracted me all the more to her, and also we both shared a passion for figurines, which I collected at the time, mostly porcelain figurines, and so did she, and we exchanged a lot of our figurines. Sadly though, this relationship didn’t last too long, because over time she felt worse and worse physically and had a lot of familial problems, so couldn’t see me as regularly as she used to, and finally, some two years or so since we first met, she moved out with her daughter to the city. I tried to keep in touch with her and called her infrequently but regularly when I was at home and could do it, as I felt very grateful for what she did to me and knew she was struggling with a lot of things and of course my family also encouraged me to show my gratitude towards her, and she continued to have more and more health issues of her own and also her two granddaughters were very ill. And then at some point we lost touch. Both me and Mum tried to find her, as it seemed like she changed her phone number, and we both wanted to show her our gratitude and perhaps help if possible, but from what we could find out it seemed like she might just as well have moved out somewhere else and we were unable to trace her. So it’s been very many years since we’ve last heard from her and this sucks a lot, as I’d like her to know how very helpful she had been to me, and I’d like to be able to reciprocate somehow. Since she was in her early fifties when we were in touch and as I said she was already struggling a lot with her health, I’m not even sure if she’s still alive.

Anyway, she was also a real foodie and quite sophisticated in general and, during my stays at hers, I got to try a lot of things that were totally new to me. Like the couscous, for example.

Interestingly, I found it absolutely delicious and I was a real fan of couscous. But when, years later, I asked my Mum to make it and she did, somehow it wasn’t quite as good, and my Mum found it even more unpleasant. My Mum is a fab cook and often makes various grains so I wonder was it just that it wasn’t so new and exciting anymore, or did my aunt make it in some special way that made it have a bit more character or have I just grown out of couscousmania. Whatever the reason, these days I find couscous incredibly bland, and so does everyone else here, so we don’t really eat it in our house. Perhaps we’re just not classy enough hahaha. I know that, because it’s so neutral, you can combine it with a lot of things, but either we haven’t combined it with the right things or it’s just not our thing because no matter the additions, spices and stuff the couscous itself always feels bland.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day. And a bit about the sensory anxiety thing.

Hi people! πŸ™‚

What was the last thing you got excited about?

My answer:

An iPhone app I discovered recently. It seems to be primarily geared at people who need noise cancelling in noisy environments, or people who just very generally need some sound background for meditation or relaxation or focus, and I played around with it mostly just out of curiosity because I’ve heard good things about it and thought, why not, I could do with a pleasant relaxation app. Only it turned out that it is possible that it could do much more for me, potentially. I’ll have to check it out in a true crisis situation but it’s promising. What I mean is that, when you purchase the app, you get access to a lot of different soundscapes or sound generators, which clearly aren’t just looped sounds, you can also calibrate the app so that it best suits your hearing range and your needs, and you can play around with these sounds and pretty much create your own mixes of friendly sounds in there.

Now if you know me you probably suspect where I’m heading with this. I gave it a long try, and was really pleasantly impressed with its capabilities and also with the pretty wide range of sounds, and I thought that, potentially, it could be a good tool in my tool box for dealing with sensory anxiety…

Okay, but most of you still don’t have a clue or almost no clue what this sensory anxiety is…

So, very spontaneously for me, I’ve just decided that I’m going to tell you a bit more in this post about sensory anxiety and how I experience it. It still most likely won’t be an exhaustive description and I am not aiming for it to be too long as its part of the question of the day post, though we’ll see, but I feel like I’m ready to try to write about it a bit more, so that you know what I’m talking about when saying sensory anxiety, and just in case someone may ever read this post who is struggling with the same thing so that they know they’re not alone. It’s just such a tough topic to describe, a totally sick thing and quite risky and emotionally weighty, but I have Misha so let’s hope I can do this). For those of you who are very new here and have never seen any of my posts where I mentioned this, very basically, sensory anxiety is how I call collectively a few different things I deal with on a regular basis, which include a fear of silence which can have a different degree depending on a situation (I do love silence but at the same time it can be awfully scary in the wrong circumstances), and anxiety and general discomfort triggered by specific sounds, groups of sounds, harmonies or even words, or sometimes specific sounds in specific situations, as well as these triggery and scary sounds then literally getting stuck in my brain after I hear them and popping up in an intrusive way. It’s like a brainworm, and I know I’m only hearing it in my brain, but I have very little control over it, and it feels very real and overwhelming.

From what I’ve observed talking to other people, also people who have perfect pitch and such and so know more about sound than I do, and analysing these things for myself over the years, there doesn’t seem to be any specific objective pattern recognisable for another person, between the things that are scary for me. But for me there are quite a few very clear ones, which are impossible to describe in words. These sounds most definitely have things in common.

When I hear such a triggering sound in my surroundings, my typical reaction is freeze. As a little kid I used to shriek, and sometimes when it feels particularly scary I feel a sort of fainting feeling and have collapsed a few times when I was hearing something scary while I was standing.

Sensory anxiety is by no means any professional term or anything, I’ve no idea if things like these have any particular professional term. πŸ˜€ It’s just how I call it so that I have a way to refer to it, in English. People have told me it’s anything from sensory deprivation, hypersensitive/immature nervous system, a form of blindism (blindisms are typically repetitive movements in children who are blind and this is their way of compensating for the lack of sight, providing themselves some additional stimulation, most commonly they are things like eye poking or rubbing, spinning around or just head spinning, rocking, hand flapping, kinda like stimming in neurodiverse people but a bit different genesis, anyway the person who told me that claims that there may be other types of things classified as blindisms, which seems to make some sense because why would it be only movement used as compensation, but I’ve never heard about that from anyone else nor found any resources about it), a kind of sensory overload like there is in autism, prodromal stage of psychosis (that was my last therapist’s theory, the one who was so crazy about my blindness, I wonder when I’ll finally go on to full-blown psychosis, I’m no psychiatrist but 23 years feels like a super lengthy time for psychosis to still be developing πŸ˜€ it’ll have to be something totally unusually monstrous once it’ll become full-blown!), some other kind of hallucinations, sensory processing disorder,, weird electrical activity in the brain triggered by auditory stimuli, just a part of generalised anxiety, to I don’t remember what else. A lot of these things make sense but I don’t have a clear answer. I have met some young blind children with similar stuff or people who had something more or less similar as little children but they’ve all grown out of it. My Mum says that maybe I still will too, and I hope so, but from what I’ve seen and heard it’s usually around early school age or even earlier when people get rid of it. It’s also possible that there are a few different things at play here rather than just one.

I’ve also met one guy (also blind) who once showed me some of his favourite music, and at some point he told me that he’s going to send me a few other tracks, and that they are going to be very “energetic”. The way he said it felt very meaningful for some reason. I didn’t say anythiing to that so he continued that by energetic he doesn’t mean dynamic, or happy, in fact a few of them are going to be the opposite, but that there are very interesting harmonies in them, and that it makes them feel very strange to him, both in a very good and in a bad way. And when he has this sort of feeling when listening to music he calls it “energetic”. And… whoa!!! the effect was spectacular for me! My brain did become so “energised” that I couldn’t sleep all night. πŸ˜€ His “energetic” music, just seems to work on me. And, weirdly, I do feel like the word energetic describes the thing in an incredibly accurate, and somehow eerie, way. This “energetic” music is only one kind of music or type of sound that my brain is allergic to, but that felt very interesting to meet someone thinking so similarly, even though he didn’t seem to react with anxiety to the “energetic” music and it seemed to be mostly a very positive thing for him. I can also agree with him that these “energetic” sounds can sometimes be very enjoyable because of how interesting they sound, but for me the line between something “energetic” being interesting and scary is very thin and it has often happened that I was quite enjoying listening to something and at some point it became too much to handle. There is some weird way in which it can attract you, though. And there have been, very few, but still, such incidents where some music I reacted very strongly and negatively to and froze immediately when hearing it, with time has grown on me and I’ve started to like it, even a whole lot. A prime example of this is the Norwegian singer Fay Wildhagen and her newest full-length album, Borders, with which I fell in love so deeply in the end that I shared almost all of the tracks from it on my blog, and I really like Fay now. But that is very rare. I didn’t even mention my sensory anxiety to that blind guy, nor even that I get the “energetic” thing, because as I said it’s a difficult topic for me, and I only knew him for a day or so.

Usually, I can become more or less desensitised to a specific sound over time, but there are sounds which have been haunting me since forever, and sometimes it happens that I become scared of something again if I’m exposed to it. For example, there’s that song by Mattofix, I’m not sure I spell the name of the band right but I don’t care, I’m not going to check it out, the song is called Big City Life. I was scared of it for weeks when it was a hit, and couldn’t recover properly because it was a hit so it was everywhere as hits tend to be. Over the months or perhaps years, I felt like it was over, but then when I heard it again much later when I was generally stressed, it all came back! The worst thing is that Olek loves this song despite it’s over 10-year-old, and I once mentioned to him that I don’t like it. That’s what I usually say to people when something triggers me, because, well, what other thing could I say? “Huh, this tune makes me feel so “energised!”? πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ But he of course thinks I only don’t like it, in a normal way, it just doesn’t appeal to me, it’s just my cup of tea, you get it. So I always dread riding anywhere with him in his car because he will ALWAYS, ALWAYS play this!

So far I haven’t been able to find a strategy that can totally eliminate it, except for some really really effective distraction but that’s rarely achievable to such a degree, and I am not expecting this app to do the trick, but there are things that can often decrease it more or less, one of them being surrounding myself with friendly and calming sounds. Typical relaxing music is something I like but something that sometimes works, and at other times does not, because it can have weird harmonies which don’t necessarily sit right with me when I’m already set off, so I go for things that are familiar usually, or that have very low risk of being potentially scary, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be objectively calm though it’s good if it is (Enya is the best!!!), but really when I’m like extremely bad anything can feel scary, packed with adrenaline, evil and aggressive, with the aggression geared directly at me, even Misha meowing. πŸ˜€ That’s really extreme though and happened only once to me – with Misha and when it’s this bad, it just has to go away on its own or only sleep helps temporarily if I can put myself to sleep. – And meds help to some degree too.

And so I thought that creating such friendly environment for myself with this app could be very helpful in such a crisis situation, assuming that I’d mix the sounds feeling relatively normal so that I wouldn’t have to do it at the moment when I need them, and so that’s what I did. It could be even more helpful in situations where I would be actually hearing something disturbing and not really able to extricate myself out of a situation, but would at the same time happen to have my phone and headphones with me. I could isolate myself pretty effectively unless the sound would be particularly loud. Sadly things rarely work like this that you always have what you need at the right moment, I rarely go out with headphones or even go around the house with them, but it’s good to have such an option, and I did have such situation last month with Sofi where she was watching some YouTube video in my room with really scary music, and I just happened to have my new headphones at hand and they worked well as they have a noise cancelling functionality in them.

I like the idea of immersing myself in a friendly sound environment like this which I can almost fully control, and cut myself off from silence/scary sounds/my brain throwing the scary sounds at me, at least to a degree.

There is only one problem and potentially could make it all a bad idea. When I experience this sensory anxiety thing I also feel very hypervigilant, and have the need to control what’s going on around me, in my immediate surroundings. When I’m struggling with this I may feel like someone is standing behind me, or maybe not even truly feel but just have a suspicion and be anxious that there might be someone standing behind me. Some of my stronger sensory anxiety triggers that have been with me throughout my life have become like almost fully personified, I think mainly because they are often featured in my sleep paralysis dreams, and while I always know full well that it’s all in my brain, no matter how I’m feeling, when I get flooded with intrusive scary sounds from the inside, or triggery sounds from the outside, aside from that weird, uncomfortable feeling and the rush of adrenaline, I feel like something scary is going to happen next, I can’t explain it, not even fully to myself, and it’s not rational at all. And then often when I feel the slightest movement around me, feel the slightest creek, or even nothing at all, I feel like someone might be there. Even if it’s an actual and well-meaning human being, it can still be scary when I don’t know full well that they are actually here. And it’s not even about someone’s presence, it’s just very general, when I’m unaware of my surroundings in such situations, it can just generally feel creepy and like I’m totally out of control and like absolutely anything can happen. It’s really difficult to describe, well, this whole thing is really difficult to describe.

Oh shit, I already feel kind of jittery just from writing about it all. Let’s bring some great music oon. And good that I have Misha here.

So, to sum this weird post up, I think I’ll just have to wait for the triggery stuff, and then I’ll try it out. I’m really excited and curious what the results will be though I’m also a bit scared that it won’t work. It does have the potential to work very well though, so let’s be hopeful!

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

Hi people! πŸ™‚

What was the last thing you purchased?

My answer:

I went with my parents and Sofi on Monday to do some shopping, Sofi needed some stuff for school and I needed to get myself a larger power strip for all of my newly acquired chargers and cables – to do with the iPhone. The strip I’ve been using for years is not enough for my needs at the moment, as it only has three outlets. I’ve actually purchased a new strip already last week or so, I bought it in iSpot – which is Apple’s reseller – I decided to buy it there as I had to get some accessories from them anyway so I got a discount for the strip – it was called Eve Energy Strip – and, as you could expect from Apple related stuff, the strip I got was smart and compatible with Homekit – so that I could control it from my phone, without having to dig my fingers into an outlet every time I wanted to plug something out or having to guess whether the strip is on or off as I had to with my old strip. With Eve, I could for example tell Siri to switch one outlet on, while all the others would be off, which was not possible with my old strip, which was either on or off, and so if you wanted something not to waste the energy you just had to plug it out. I really liked Eve and the level of control I could have with it, and how easy it was actually to use, but there was one huge problem. Despite the iSpot guy told me that it was going to have six outlets – three normal ones and three USB ones – it had only three outlets. Way too few for me now. I need at least six, ideally seven or eight. So as much as I liked Eve, I had to pack it away, and was going to return it once my Mum comes back from her trip in the mountains. I told Mum about that and she called the iSpot people, and the guy who sold me the strip was very apologetic, saying that someone in the magazine must have made a mistake and shipped the wrong one.

Mum came back last Saturday and we decided to call the iSpot general helpline and have them take Eve, while we would go to our local iSpot shop and get the right one in the meantime. Which we did on Monday. This new strip was called Koogeek and did have six outlets, although its cable was ridiculously short, which was a bit of a problem as the wall socket in my room where it was supposed to be plugged in is under my bed, so that meant the strip would barely stick out of there, and I would hardly be able to use my devices on the bed while charging, which I do a lot. But there was a much bigger problem with Koogeek, as it turned out when we got home. I installed the Koogeek app on my phone to connect the strip, and boy was I surprised by it! I think it must be some sort of a really geeky-techy app because I wasn’t able to do anything with it, absolutely flipping anything. The manual said I had to create a Koogeek account, and yes, there was a button called “Join Koogeek”, but when I tapped on it, it did nothing. Nothing was loading, opening or even trying to open, no communicate or anything. Oh well – I thought – must be something with VoiceOver. I’ve heard from people that some apps are so wonderfully made that when there is some sort of a checkbox, like for example when you have to accept privacy policy or stuff, for some reason you won’t be able to do it with VoiceOver, you’d have to disable it to accept or check whatever is required. I haven’t seen anything like this in my short time with iPhone but thought that must be the first time. I called Mum, disabled VoiceOver and asked her to look at it, but she also couldn’t do anything. There were a few other buttons as well and none of them did anything at all. We sat with it for an hour and both got very pissed, but it wasn’t helping either. In the end, Mum came up with an idea that I could return this shitty Koogeek thing, because even if there is some way for the initiated people to connect it to the iPhone, if there are problems with such a basic thing I probably would have more problems with this strip further down the road as well, and instead I could keep the Eve, which was still here, and get another Eve to go with it, and, with some rearranging in my room, have them both plugged in different sockets. This is some solution and after some thinking I decided it’s not that bad at all. For now I have my most basic stuff plugged into the Eve. Of course I could write to the Koogeek support now asking them for help, but with my luck with tech support people in all sorts of different companies I can’t see it could accomplish much and would be a waste of time.

Only then when Mum thought seriously about driving back to iSpot on her own (previously it was Dad who drove us) she didn’t like the idea. It’s rather far from us, in a big shopping centre, and Mum didn’t feel confident going there, as she doesn’t know the way there very well and she once got lost in that same shopping centre with Sofi as it’s really huge so she has like a mini trauma associated with it. And Dad definitely wouldn’t be up to going this far yet again, for such a trivial reason. So I decided to give the Koogeek thing to Sofi, who was very happy and didn’t care about the phone app and Homekit, and became even happier when she realised that, for whatever reason, her phone charger, which always made her phone act very weird while charging – it wouldn’t let her write what she wanted but would write some other characters or wouldn’t respond to her gestures appropriately – now worked just fine with the new strip. So that’s good at least.

But that means I’ll have to pay for THREE, not particularly cheap power strips, which is quite outrageous, and not fun as I’ve had quite a lot of expenses in the last few months due to the whole iPhone thing, especially with the headphones and speaker. At least I hope the two Eves will be usable for me for a very long time.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

Hi people! πŸ™‚

What’s the hardest you’ve ever worked?

My answer:

What comes to my mind is my final year of college/high school, before my final exams. As you may know, all things math are quite challenging for me, so that I even got the diagnosis of dyscalculia, albeit very late in my schooling as I was already 17, and it was a bit weird because technically for some reason blind people cannot be diagnosed with dyscalculia, really don’t get why, but I did have an assessment and the psychologist evaluating me decided I have it, perhaps because my then math teacher was her friend and this diagnosis would make things easier for both me and her. I’m not 100% sure whether my difficulties indeed could be classified as dyscalculia, assuming dyscalculia was normally diagnosed in blind people, because while I do struggle with a whole lot of mathematical concepts and operations to the point that even calculator isn’t helping much, if at all, since using it the right way feels like a challenge just as well, and I also often misread numbers, like when I’m reading aloud or rewriting some math operation I will recognise the numbers properly and have them right in my head but read or write down completely different ones, and I have a lot of trouble with remembering numbers, especially if there’s no meaning or stronger association with them for me, I don’t think I really do match ALL of the criteria, for example I do not have big problems with very basic operations, or have quite a good concept of time, I typically have no problem counting things either unless it’s something more abstract and complex like money or similar then I often need some help or at least much more time than most people I know to figure things out. Anyways, I don’t even feel particularly remorseful if it’s not exactly dyscalculia that I have because this label had been somewhat helpful in my last years of education, although still not substantially helpful and in the grand scheme of things didn’t really change much. Just that my teachers were more understanding than they were previously in the blind school, though they were also more clueless as for how to teach me, that I started having much better math grades and it was a little less frustrating, and that I could make a few more mistakes on the math final exam, which in the end didn’t mean anything as I didn’t pass it anyway.

What I’m about to say though is that one period when I was working very hard was studying for that math final. I had a math teacher at school, but while she was an amazing person and most helpful and accomodating, she was quite clueless about how to teach blind people math, so my Mum also found a tutor for me, who was a surdo- and typhlopedagogist, which simply meant she was specialised in teaching deaf and blind, or deaf-blind, people, and in her particular case her subject was maths. She was also a really great person and I really liked her as her, though just thinking of her these days makes me feel a bit sick ’cause we spent sooo much time together during these three years of my high school, and our time together was filled with so much pent-up frustration on both sides that with time it felt like there was no room for other, more pleasant feelings so that I automatically started to feel ragin’ inside upon just seeing her which I’m pretty sure was mutual. She had it worse, though, because after dealing with me every week for at least 1,5 hour, she had also Sofi, who isn’t blind or deaf but my Mum decided that my tutor was so valuable both as a teacher and as a person – which she undoubtedly was – that she’d like her to help Sofi out as well. Sofi perhaps doesn’t have dyscalculia or whatever it is that I do, but she does have a lot of trouble with concentration and just doesn’t like exerting her brain too much which she was very openly manifesting so working with her wasn’t too easy for our tutor either, because she often just wasn’t collaborating and preferred to chat with her about other things, or often didn’t do the homework that she gave her and then blamed her if she had a low mark on a test. Not that the tutor was unable to manage it, but it’s difficult to work in such challenging circumstances for so long at a time and so I don’t blame our tutor for not wanting to work any more with Sofi right after I had my finals.

We were meeting throughout the three years at least once a week for at least one hour and a half, during the last year it was longer and more often. And the last year of our collaboration was particularly draining. Of course on top of that I also had plenty of work she gave me to do on my own, which usually I happened to totally screw up so I wasn’t particularly motivated to do it but at least she wasn’t nasty if I did something, even everything, wrong, so I didn’t skip my homework like Sofi did or much less often, also Sofi wasn’t having her exams in a few months’ time so she could allow herself for that, but not so much me. Since the second year of high school I also did most of my schooling by myself at home, as the majority of my teachers weren’t as accomodating as the math teacher and based their lessons on slideshows which of course I couldn’t see, or totally ignored me/seemed to be utterly scared of me, so I figured I’d learn more doing the school work on my own, it’d be less stress for everyone and would be so much more productive. They agreed to this idea very happily, and I was happy too, as I like learning things on my own if only I am capable of it, but it all at once with math felt like quite a load of learning.

The whole final year was totally draining and I was feeling pretty badly mentally overwhelmed most of the time and had very high anxiety, not just about the finals and related stuff, and as a result my sleep cycle and quality that year was particularly all over the place, which didn’t help with my math focus. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to pass the math final, or at least couldn’t imagine passing it unless with some huge stroke of luck like the one I happened to have in secondary. I had even no real motivation for learning or even writing the finals because I had no realistic idea what I would like to do with myself afterwards, and it didn’t feel like I had a whole lot of realistic options that I felt would be something for me. I wanted to do Celtic studies online in Wales, but the uni’s “learning environment” turned out inaccessible and when I contacted them about it they never got back to me about it, or Scandinavian studies at the local university but my Swedish teacher strongly discouraged me from it saying that I wouldn’t get anything from it, my language level certainly wouldn’t go up from where it already was and other subjects in there were mostly just for the uni to get as much of the faculty financially as possible, and few of them were actually useful. Since the only reason I wanted to study Scandinavian studies was Swedish, when I learned that and then read some more about it I lost my interest in it. I suspected I was going to wait a year after finals with making the ultimate decision about what I wanted to do or study. But I thought that even if I’m not going to pursue any higher education afterwards, it still would be good to have the finals passed just in case I wanted to do something later and just for self-satisfaction. And I decided to take it as a challenge, just to see if I can surprise myself and pass the math. I thought if so, I’d be euphoric and it would just be another situation where my defensive pessimism worked wonders, but if not, nothing bad will happen, I have no immediate academic plans for the future anyway and I know what I can expect from myself. I decided that in such case, I would not rewrite it. At least not until I find some real reason that would require me/make me want to do it again. I also told my family about it and they agreed it’s a good idea not to be too worked up about it. A lot of them are intellectual people but they’re not crazy about education being the first priority in life so they understood where I was coming from. I may feel insecure about most things in myself, but all of my brains are not one of them so essentially I wouldn’t need a piece of paper to confirm my intellectual abilities or knowledge for myself, and since it seemed unlikely for everyone who knew me well anyway that I would be able to find any serious employment, unless in some really unusually fortunate circumstances or in a situation like the one I’m in now with my Dad, that is when someone knows my strengths and limitations well, it felt like even if I did pass the math, probably the only thing I would be able to do with the paper confirming it would be making use of it in the loo, would I ever happen to be deprived of that so unloved, yet so useful thing called toilet paper, as a result of unemployment. πŸ˜€

And so, despite math was not my extended subject, I spent a whole lot of time studying for it, and didn’t really feel like I was getting much more of a clue over time, only felt more hopeless and anxious about the thing and everything was getting more and more mixed up in my brain. Sometimes after the brain draining sessions I had strong self harm urges or just went to sleep for the next couple hours which of course meant that then I didn’t sleep at night or slept very little, so if I had another brain drain marathon the next day I was even more clueless, and often I could barely hold my shit inside and not flip out at my poor tutor, just as she seemed to have a very similar problem. πŸ˜€ My tutor had some health problems and would often catch infections or feel poorly, and some of these times she felt unable to come to us, which was a feast for Sofi if it was on a day she was also supposed to have her lesson, and a relief for me in some way, though that also meant I had more stuff to do on my own.

And so as most of you know if you have been following me for some time, or perhaps even from the beginnings of this blog which has started out the same year when I had my finals, I didn’t pass the math and so far haven’t tried to do it again, especially that my score was quite spectacularly low so I don’t know how I could get suddenly a high enough one when I couldn’t get there after three years. Also at the time of exams my circadian rhythm was upside down, and in the school where I was passing them (which wasn’t the school I attended but a special school for the blind closest to my home) I got super triggered by one jerky, stinking headmistress with too much testosterone, I wrote about that on my blog at the time though the post is currently password protected so I’m not linking. And so my motivation for repeating the experience is currently zilch.

My family, despite their initial support and despite they were aware of what my plans were, at least those people I felt needed to be aware, in the end were totally shell shocked when they learned about my results, both that I got such very high results from languages and so low from maths, and even more so when I told people again that, just as I said earlier, I am not going to rewrite the math unless I see the need. The only person who stood by me loyally, and uncritically, as always, was my grandad, who paradoxically is the most intellectually and academically-minded person in our family. And most of them have accepted my choice over time, though I have to admit I initially felt sort of guilty and not sure if I was doing the right thing, seeing their extremely shocked reactions.

So yeah, that whole year was definitely a time of hard, but at the same time pretty fruitless work, which made it feel all the harder, so I’m pretty sure I can say it was the time of hardest work for me. But I’m so glad the damn thing is over and that I don’t have to have anything to do with maths anymore or not to such an extend, anyway! It’s possible I had situations when I worked harder, especially mentally, but when you have more motivation or when it feels more meaningful it’s all the easier to do, even if objectively it may require more effort.

What was such a situation for you? Did your hard work pay off? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

Do you ever talk to yourself, or sing?

My answer:

Oh yeah, I talk to myself a lot and in different languages. It’s genetic, as my Mum’s the same, so we say we have such rich inner lives they’re spilling out, but my Mum has it worse, because she often thinks so loud that she doesn’t even know she’s thinking aloud and doesn’t realise that she’s just said what she was thinking, which leads to weird situations, but she doesn’t even care. But then when someone happens to be around while she’s spilling out her mind unbeknownst to herself, she is either very surprised and thinks that the other person must be a telepath, or accuses them of eavesdropping. It also seems like she has the same problem when she goes running, she has earbuds on when running and always thinks about loads of things and often finds that people look at her in a strange way, so she thinks she must think aloud while running too. It’s quite strange that someone would be so unaware of it but it’s funny at least from the observer’s perspective. I try to have more control over what’s spilling out of me and in what circumstances, and I don’t even have to try too hard as I’m way too blocked to do that so spontaneously, unless I just don’t know that someone is around, or happen to be extremely deep in thoughts, and then sometimes weird situations happen to me too, in such cases, but that’s really rare. I also talk to Misha and so if anyone ever happens to overhear something they also often assume I’m talking to myself. But, to avoid weird situations, since I can’t always know for 100% if someone is lurking around, and to practice my languages, I prefer to speak in other languages than Polish when talking to myself. And so my default language for talking to myself these days is ENglish, but I also talk quite a lot in Swedish and swear in Finnish. I also routinely have discussions with people on the other end when for example listening to something, like a YouTube video, a radio programme, whatever, even when reading things sometimes on the Internet but with speech synthesis, not in Braille, the more engrossing it is for me the more likely I am to do that, and voice my opinions, regardless of that the people on the other side are not going to hear them. With this I don’t even restrict myself so very much to when other people in my surroundings can’t hear it. πŸ˜€ Sofi picked it up from me and she also has discussions like that with her favourite YouTubers, for example, of which she has many.

I also sing to myself sometimes but it’s mostly in specific situations. I often sing for Misha when we are in my room. I seriously don’t know, perhaps it’s just me being megalomanic or something (although I don’t think I sing that extremely brilliantly, I just have musical hearing and can sing in tune and that’s it), but to me it looks like he likes when I do that and he relaxes himself and is listening very intently, so even if it’s just an impression, I typically do that when he’s going to sleep or when we’re having a cuddle time, he needs that sometimes, usually after a long time of being on his own, he’ll come and want to be petted and cuddled, and then I sing him to sleep, or when I have a feeling he’s sad or something’s wrong. I seriously think Misha’s not indifferent to music, and not only because he gets scared by very loud music. I also sing when I’m in desperate need for some background noise because of the sensory anxiety and there’s no other way of getting it. It only works so-so, but so-so is always more than nothing. And sometimes I just sing when I feel like it and when I’m alone but that’s pretty rare, I used to do it more.

You? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (13th August).

Hi people! πŸ™‚

Do you read or watch TV before falling asleep?

My answer:

I always read before going to sleep. I also listen to the music before I fall asleep and while I’m sleeping, as that helps me with anxiety and also I just like it this way. I read on my PlexTalk, and have a sleeptimer on, so that the book doesn’t keep on going or at least not too much when I’m already asleep. And in the background I have my iPhone quietly on, just enough so that I can hear it, either playing music on Spotify or some radio. If it’s radio it’s either playing some station which plays only music, and such that I really really like, and there are only few stations whose music I’d love so unreservedly, or, more often, it’s just talk in one of my favourite languages. Sometimes I also listen to some podcasts in bed but that’s rather if I’m not planning to go to sleep just yet.

How is it with you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

What time do you go to bed?

My answer:

As in my answer to the previous question, my circadian rhythm is screwed up so there are no rules whatsoever in practice for what time I fall asleep. I do try to have a more predictive bedtime though if possible, so my standard goal is to be in bed by midnight, not later. I might eventually get up if I’m not having any luck falling asleep for an hour or longer, or when I’m feeling mentally crappy and if I am only able to sleep, I like to go to sleep earlier and sleep as much as possible.

You? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (11th August).

Let’s talk a bit about our daily habits.

What time do you wake up?

My answer:

Really hard to say. It’s different almost every day, or at least every few days. It depends on which timezone my brain clock is at the moment. As you may know if you’re a regular reader of my blog, I have a problem with circadian rhythm, probably mostly due to that I am blind and don’t have any light perception or anything so my brain is probably permanently confused whether it’s day or night, but I’ve also learnt that pituitary is in some way responsible for controlling circadian rhythm – not sleep-wake cycle as such I guess or I’m not sure about this particular thing, but circadian rhythm in general, in any case, it could be relevant since I have hypopituitarism, and mental health surely plays a huge role with sleep problems as well. – Whatever is the reason, that’s how my brain works, and I’m mostly okay with it at the moment, of course it can be annoying but I am now having the luxury of being in charge of my own time at this point so I can usually decide when I need sleep and when trying to sleep doesn’t make much sense so it’s better to stay up and do something constructive. I used to supplement melatonin but it would work only to some extend, meanwhile giving me loads of vivid nightmares. I have a PRN sleep med which helps and I try to have some kind of a sleep-wake schedule at least in theory, something to aim to I’d say, but what probably makes my sleep problems worse is also that I’m not the best at sticking to sleep routine, but also I don’t want to be too obsessed with it as that could get more stressful than helpful long-term I guess. So that being said, my waking time shifts depending on my current circadian rhythm, and my circadian rhythm seems to depend on a lot of things, external and internal, I guess I’m not even aware of all of them, funny thing is also that with my sleeping and waking times, my need for sleep also changes kind of in cycles and sometimes I feel the need to sleep a lot, and sometimes I feel rested after just a few hours and get lots of energy at night, or don’t sleep at all.

With my “ideal” sleeping schedule, I try to wake up at 7:30, because I’ve figured out after some experiments that it seems to be a generally optimal time for me, though as I said, it can look different in practice. I have an alarm – previously on my PlexTalk, now on the iPhone – and I try to stick to it when possible, but when I’m not asleep say by 3 AM I just turn it off so it doesn’t wake me in case I will fall asleep until 7:30, since usually falling asleep that late I’ll also probably need to sleep a bit longer than that, or when I feel very sleepy and it goes off I just turn it off, go back to sleep for however long I need and don’t care, unless I have somewhere to go or something really important to do on time. Also when my depression is particularly bad, sleep is my best friend, as long as I can get it, and then I turn into a real sleep escapist if only I can do it and have no plans, and turn the alarm off altogether, and turn it back on again when I feel more motivated to actually live or when it’s really necessary for me to get up at a specific time. At the moment though, I’ve been sticking to my normal waking time since a few days and I like it, though my falling asleep time is later than it should be in theory so I’m not getting a whole lot of sleep but I’m not feeling it really.

How does it work for you? Do you have any sleep routine at all and if so, are you good at sticking to it? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (9th August).

Hey people! πŸ™‚

I’ve found an interesting question online and thought I’d ask you:

Have you ever had anyone ask you, (How did you get so smart)? If so, how did you answer them?

My answer:

Oh yes, and that’s partly why I found this question interesting, haha. I get a lotof questions like this from people and I usually don’t really know how to react. My intelligence is one thing about myself I think I have a reasonably rational view on despite the AVPD thing and I do think I’m intelligent, I’ve always heard that I’m above average and I also feel this is true, also my brains are something that have helped me to cope in all sorts of situations and I’m so very grateful for being gifted in this area, but I also don’t know how it happened that I am “so” smart. People usually say that because they’re surprised that I know a lot of different things not everyone knows or that they wouldn’t expect me to know. So when people ask me such questions, I don’t know what to say because I just don’t know why it is how it is, other than it’s just is this way and that some people in my family are highly intelligent, and I also don’t know what kind of answer they expect. Is it supposed to be some sort of a bit odd compliment in the form of a rhetorical question? πŸ˜€ Or do they really want me to explain the whole process, or whatever? Also I really don’t want to sound like I’m bragging or something.

So how I usually respond is either saying something light along the lines of: “Oh really, did I?!” or “It’s because I never add lemon to hot tea so I probably don’t have that much alluminium in my brain” or that “It’s my grandad’s fault” or “I wonder about that too, y’know? My Mum says it’s a bit of a miracle” or “It’s because I trained my memory so well as a kid by learning all the name days in the calendar” etc. etc. or I get all confused and don’t say anything really, or I tell them seriously that I don’t know, but I read a lot as a kid and seem to have some weird ability to retain loads of information and have always had and am learning things quite quickly, at least some things. It depends on a situation, the other person and how I’m feeling, which approach I take.

The first time I remember I was asked a similar thing and that really made me think hard, was when I was at my classmate’s house for a few days, and her brother once asked me how it is that me, or his sister are quite smart, while some other blind kids are not and why (he was referring to another girl from our class who visited them earlier and who also had some mild intellectual disability and was a preemie and had other problems). And I was literally dumbstruck. I often wondered about similar things but now that someone has actually said this aloud, and asked me, I had to think about it seriously and figure it out somehow. I really wasn’t able to tell him something more insightful at the time, and I think it would be hard for anyone of any age because well, how do you explain why some people are smart and some aren’t, regardless of whether there are some disabilities at play or not. So I just told him something about that that girl was a preemie and I was not, and that my family at least on Mum’s side are smart people, and my Dad was teaching me things like capitals of countries and such when I was very little so maybe that was why my brain was quite well-developed. But I was thinking about it for a reeeally long time, and I don’t think my answer was satisfying for him, either.

Have you ever had similar situations or is it just me? πŸ˜€

Some fun stuff instead of question of the day.

Hi guys! πŸ™‚

I’ve found something today that I thought I could post on here so we can have some fun. Below are sentences that we can complete. I’ll do it here in this post, and you can do it in the comments, or in your own posts (don’t forget to pingback or leave the link in the comments so I can read it). Keep them as long or as short as you only wish. For your convenience, I’ll write the unfinished sentences alone first so that you can copy paste them without having to edit them and delete what I wrote. Here goes:

I am confident about…

I am insecure about…

I need to…

I want to…

I like to…

I recently bought…

I am thinking about…

I am anticipating…

I am procrastinating…

I am watching/listening to/cooking…

Mine:

I am confident about… nearly nothing, I guess. I’ve been thinking on this for a while now and I just can’t come up with one thing I would be like absolutely and unquestionably confident about. πŸ˜€

I am insecure about… almost everything, which I guess is pretty logical from what I wrote above.

I need to… find myself another faza. It’s really getting imperative! I haven’t written much about that lately but I’m still searching intensely. My latest finding has been Jack Hughes who is cool but too normal, not versatile enough, and has a bit peculiar way of singing which would be annoying for me long-term. Why do I have to find a faza for myself in the first place, rather than it just happening without my conscious effort, like always before? My brain is getting way too lazy. And it’s a vicious circle because lack of a faza and thus beneficial stimuli in the right amount only makes it more lazy. πŸ˜€ What do you do with a lazy brain?

I want to… stop cutting myself. I did last week again, and a couple of times, so this time I only managed to go without it a month or so I believe. And on the other hand I don’t want to stop cutting. Well but what I do want is I don’t want to do it in such an impulsive way. Or at least be able to not do it for longer periods of time, like once I managed not to cut for about half a year. In case you’re wondering why I did it, I was just feeling depressed and overloaded, also had a lot of anxiety for no obvious reason, it was my friend Jacek from Helsinki’s another death anniversary on July 29, and then later in the week it was my cousin’s 18th birthday party and I reeeally couldn’t deal with the socialising and all that comes with it. Quite ironically, I have some special memories with Jacek from Helsinki and my own 18th birthday party, which didn’t help. But it’s better now.

I like to… sleep with Misha.

I recently bought… my new Bang & Olufsen headphones, yaaaaaay!!! Seriously, this was a very spontaneous purchase, totally on the spur of a moment, completely unlike me, just because it was my Mum who found these headphones online on sale and she told me about them, I only briefly looked them up online to see if it could be something for me and it seemed like it could perhaps be but might just as well not be, but it was on Zalando Lounge so they were way cheaper than they would be otherwise and I could return them if I decided they’re not for me. I really needed some good headphones for my iPhone, I also need a good speaker(s), so I figured I might just as well try these with an opportunity like this. I had to wait ages for these headphones, about a month, and also I was rather sceptical whether it could really be something for me ’cause I’m sort of picky and have some very specific requirements. But they came on Monday – just before my parents went out on their camper van trip so Mum could pick them up for me – but they had to go and Sofi wasn’t home when they were leaving so I had to set them up and pair by myself. Which was not difficult but I had no accessible manual or anything and I didn’t really know how to do it. I figured how to turn them on and turn Bluetooth on after a while but they still weren’t visible for my iPhone because it turned out I had to get an app to set them up, so I was very apprehensive and wondered how accessible it’ll be with VoiceOver – the iPhone screenreader – and moreover how usable for me as a still more or less beginning iPhone user. It would probably be badly inaccessible if not the fact that VoiceOver can now guess what different buttons in an application do from how they look if they’re not labelled properly, and as far as I remember none or very few were labelled originally in that app and VoiceOver did a very good job at the guessing game. Then I didn’t remember what exactly model I had and I had to select the one I had from the list in the app to set it up, and some only differ between each other with one number so not very Bibiel-friendly. So I ended up having to call Mum and she had to check up what my model was. Then still iPhone couldn’t connect to the headphones for ages and I was getting really frustrated, but then finally I did something random and they did connect to each other. And once I had them paired, a very Bibiel-friendly manual showed up – both with audio and text, not some weird, hardly descriptive video like a lot of tutorials are – so I could figure out hhow to actually use the headphones without anyone’s help very easily. And once I learned it it was very rewarding because I’ve already grown to like the headphones a lot. I would never buy them for their original price, I seriously don’t think the sound is worth as much, but it’s definitely good for me and good for the price I paid for them. When I read reviews people complained that the active noise cancelling feature is meh because it doesn’t work as well as in other similar headphones but for me it’s just right. They’re my first noise cancelling headphones and, I don’t know, I have a terribly, horribly, freakishly loud desktop computer and when I turn the noise cancellation on and sit at the desk I can barely hear the hum nor anything else outside. Granted, I don’t need some really extreme noise cancellation, I am obviously blind and a control freak, I want to know what’s going on around me most of the time so that I don’t need to worry that someone is lurking behind me and I have no idea because I’m listening to music. On the other hand I do like the noise cancelling for situations when I don’t need to hear the world around me so that I have a good and immersive environment for daydreaming haha, and these headphones are just right for this purpose. Even yesterday I had a situation when Sofi was in my room, watching a video on her phone, and there was some really weird music that was setting my brain off a little bit, so I just quickly put my headphones on and turned my own music on with the noise cancelling, and I could no longer hear Sofi’s evil shit. They also have transparency mode which is good sometimes for such people like me (Sofi once said that they should invent cheekphones for me because with my computer headphones often when someone was in my room or something I would have the headphones more on my cheeks than ears so that I could hear my surroundings clearly without having to constantly put on and take off the headphones, yes, cheekphones could be a cool idea for some specific situations πŸ˜€ ), and integration with Siri which is useful at times, and the earpads are really comfy, though I haven’t used them for a longer stretch of time yet. They have gesture control which seems to work very poorly, or perhaps it’s me not doing the gestures the right way exactly, but thankfully you can also control them within the app or just simply from the phone. They also have a cable so I can plug them into my PlexTalk which does not have Bluetooth which is cool because my previous PlexTalk/computer headphones are falling apart. Oh wow, what a mini review I just wrote lol.

I am thinking about… Jocky, whom Sofi has just let inside and he’s devastating the house and barking his lungs out, and about Misha, who is thankfully cosily tucked inside my wardrobe – this is his recent hideout for when he’s a bit stressed as it seems, and he certainly is stressed now because Mum is away and he’s very attached to her.

I am anticipating… huh, nothing really. Can’t think of anything I’d be anticipating at the moment.

I am procrastinating… way more than I realise on a daily basis. I’ve only recently thought more about it. I really procrastinate a whole lot and it’s usually because of anxiety as it seems. But it’s not like impairing or anything so I can’t say I care very much, just a little alarming when you suddenly realise such things.

I am watching/listening to/cooking… listening to BBC Radio Cymru at the moment.

So, who wants to play along with me? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

Hey people! πŸ™‚

Today I have a question for all the female readers of my blog which is the following:

How old were you when you got your first period? How did your family and friend react? Did anyone say anything weird?

My answer:

It was a little strange with me because from what I’d always heard from my endocrinologist, it was quite possible for me not to have period due to my pituitary not working quite as it should. So when all or almost all of the other girls in my boarding school group and class were already having period and for me nothing was really changing, at least apparently, I readily and happily assumed that I’m going to be spared and didn’t really care much about periods anymore, and my Mum also assumed I’m not going to have it so that’s better for me. Not that I ever did overly care about periods, it never seemed very creepy or shameful like it does to a lot of girls, I was quite aware of what it was from observing and hearing people and also my Mum talked a lot about it to me, at least what it feels like and what it means and what it’s like in theory, so I knew what to expect. There was a lot of taboo around things like this in my Mum’s family, my grandma is scared of even such words like vagina so Mum herself always wanted it to be clear with me and now with Sofi that, while it’s something extremely intimate, it’s not a taboo or anything shameful. So one day in April I was greeted to an extreme surprise when I woke up – I vaguely remember that I had some exam on that day or something… something to do with music school I believe – and felt all wet and sticky down there. I honestly was convinced it must be something else, just some other kind of discharge, but no! I was a little shocked to learn that it happened after all. But actually it wasn’t even that very late, I don’t remember how old I was exactly, but I couldn’t be older than 14 I guess. Luckily that first visit of Jack the Ripper/Butcher in my life was not particularly painful or intense, which changed quite soon afterwards, but still I think I was rather stressed about it and worried that I won’t be able to manage it well practically, because one thing my Mum didn’t do was that she didn’t show me or explain to me at all what I’m actually supposed to do when having a period, probably because she didn’t seriously think I’d have to bother with it in real life. And I didn’t like having to rely on the boarding school staff ffor assistance with my period hygiene at the beginnings. It took me quite some time, but luckily summer holidays came quite quickly after that so then I had less stress about it and could learn to put a pad in my underwear and not to make everything around messy while I was showering. πŸ˜€

I didn’t really tell that many people started having periods – my Mum knew, and the staff at the boarding school, and my roommates – and a couple of my close online friends, but I don’t think anyone of them said anything at all, let alone anything weird. Those of them who knew about my hormonal issues were only surprised that it actually happened, and as I said so was I.

How was it with you? πŸ™‚

Breaking the Silence- my short story.

Hey people! πŸ™‚

I was going to write this post a few days earlier, but I was actually writing this story for a loooong time, and then rewriting bits of it, and wondering whether I should actually post it and whether I like it, and then I ended up with a migraine yesterday, so hopefully I can do it today. The title was meant to be only for the draft but I didn’t have a better idea so I left it as it was. I based it on the following prompt from The Goddess Journaling Workbook by Beatrix Minerva Linden:

I welcome new adventures. Imagine the most exciting adventure which could happen to you tomorrow. Write a short story about it. You don’t have to keep things realistic: allow yourself to dream big.

And as you can see, I did allow myself to dream very big. As always, apologies for any linguistic shortcomings and do let me know if you see something about the language that could be improved as I’m not a native and have only wrote a few stories in English so far. Also, a little note to the bit at the end of the story, about the old lady and the “guide cat”. It was inspired by a few stories I’ve heard from different guide dog owners who said that people often talk to their dogs, rather than to them, or believe some strange things like that guide dogs can read traffic signs.

Okay, here goes:

Breaking the Silence

“Oh, wow!” – I exclaimed in my brain, looking at the clock- “4 AM! Is it really?!” For the last six and a half hour, I was writing another chapter of my Jack Hamilton novel, or perhaps I should say saga at this point. I hadn’t touched it for ages, but today I must have caught up on all that time. While writing, I didn’t feel the passing time whatsoever, just like it always was back when I used to write the novel regularly, every single night at school, because when you spend time with someone as interesting as Jack Hamilton, there would be something badly wrong with you if you paid any attention at all to such a trivial thing as time. Now that I stopped writing though, and my brain hit the hard surface of the real world, the tiredness and lack of sleep hit me just as hard. Satisfied with the result of my efforts and with having been able to hang out with Jack for so long, I turned the computer off, put some music on and went to bed. Very unusually, Misha was already waiting for me in his bed, sound asleep. Usually he only comes when I call him, and when I go to sleep this late, it’s rare that he would still be waiting for me. I felt really happy to have him close to me. I laid next to him, and very soon, as for my standards, I followed him to Dreamland.

* * * * *

I was still in a deep sleep, floating from one dream to another, when I heard a very faint sound coming, as it seemed, from the real world. It felt vaguely familiar, and there was something urgent about it, but I was way too sleepy to care, and just ignored it. Admittedly, a part of me was pretty sure that it already must be indecently late for sleep, but really, what’s decency gotta do with sleep at all? I kept on dreaming. After all, you don’t get nice dreams every night, certainly not if you’re me, so why should I give up on cool dreams featuring Jack Hamilton just because there’s something squealing in my room? Or whatever is it doing. After a while though, the sound repeated, pulling me out of my new dream, but still not out of sleep. “Perhaps there’s a baby somewhere” – I thought, and fell in a deep sleep again. – The little sounds repeated more and more frequently, getting louder with each time, now making it impossible to sleep deeply and peacefully, but I was still too sleepy to fully wake up, even though with every such sound, deep down I felt an increasing sense of that I actually should for some reason. After a while they turned into wailing, and became even more annoying. Then the wailing turned into proper crying, and then started to morph into words:

“Pleeeeeaaaaase, wake up, I really, really need to pee.”

and then suddenly my consciousness started working properly. Or semi-properly. It must be Misha. Why didn’t I leave the door opened so that he could get out whenever he’d wake up? How funny that my brain started to make up words to his meowing. While I usually love waking to Misha greeting me with his little sounds and cuddle him before letting him out in the morning, when I have a late night it’s definitely not as pleasant to get out of bed just to open the door for Misha, even if I can go straight back to bed immediately. I sat up slowly and checked the time, while the now very agitated Misha jumped at the door. “What? It can’t be 1 PM already.” – I thought. “Misha wouldn’t be here by now. Sure someone would let him out”. Misha usually wakes up earlier than any of us, so when my Mum doesn’t see him downstairs when she gets up, she often checks whether he is in my room,and sometimes lets him out, because, just like me, she likes very much his presence in the morning, and when he’s not there, it feels very empty. Also she doesn’t understand that a lot of the time I find it very pleasant to be able to see Misha first thing in the morning and that it’s pure pleasure to let him out, because for her it would be a nuisance, so she does it for me as well.

“Hey, Mishmish, what are you still doing here?” – I asked groggily. –

“Hmmm, let’s think… Purrhaps because my so called “mummy” likes her sleep more than me, and no one else can be bothered to open the flipping door?”

I jumped up to the ceiling. What was that?! Have I gone totally mad now? I was frantically trying to come up with an excuse for what has just happened. Maybe Zofijka is in a silly mood and making some weird pranks? Or perhaps seriously I’ve got some bad hallucinations. I was ready to admit there must be something in what people say that I’m too obsessed with Misha.

“Misha?” – this was the only thing I was able to say.

“Misha, Shmisha!”.

I didn’t know what more could I say… Then suddenly my confusion and fear turned into pure amusement. I fell back on the bed heavily and started laughing heartily at myself. OMG, my brain must be really off that I am wide awake and still seriously consider the possibility that my cat can talk. Too much silly playing with Sofi.

“What’s so funny?!” – the little voice grew more annoyed. – Still laughing, I thought that “Actually, what’s so wrong about it? I’ve always talked to Misha so now I should be happy I can also hear him. Who cares if I’m the only one who does? Let’s just go with the flow!”. –

“When you’ll be as old as me, Misha, you’ll notice that most things are funny, even if they aren’t.”

“Deign to remember that I’m already older than you, I’m over 30 in peep years. Now, will you finally let me out so I can go to the loo or should I do it on the carpet?”

“Oh, Misha!!!”

“What, Misha”.

“Have you really been waiting all day long for me to let you out?”

I immediately remembered the time when Sasha was still with us, and when we were going for a day-long pilgrimage. Despite Misha and Sasha weren’t getting along with each other, Mum decided to put the two of them in the cellar with the food, water and litterbox, because Sasha, despite being a very clever kitten overall, had a real problem with peeing in the right place, which, as we later discovered, must have been due to some traumatic experience with Misha. He would do his thing everywhere but not in the litterbox, and had a very strong aversion to it. At least in the cellar there was nothing that could be damaged if he peed or pooped on it. Since Misha needed to do the business somewhere as well, and we had only one litterbox, he had to go in the cellar too. And when we came back from the pilgrimage, there was pee and poop in three different cellars, the litterbox was empty, Sasha was basking in the sun on the windowsill with his paws dirty from the poop, and Misha sitting high up on the wardrobe looking utterly scared. When we let them out and Mum put the litterbox back in place, Misha sprang to the loo immediately and it was clear that he was holding it all day long, so stressed he was. Also when there was a time that no one cleaned his litterbox, instead of doing his thing wherever else, he was holding it until it was clean and he could do it properly.

Poor little thing, I wouldn’t blame him if he just peed on the rug in these circumstances, as he tried his best to wake me up, and normally I wake up fairly quickly when I hear him, as this is almost always the first thing I hear in the morning, but he probably just couldn’t bring himself to do this.

“Oh my, Misha, I’m so sorry…”

I quickly opened the door and he sprang out and flew downstairs with lightning speed.

“Was that why he started talking?” – I thought to myself. – Nonsense! It must have all been in my head. Sometimes, as it seems, hallucinations can be very useful for pet owners. I wonder if parents with babies ever experience the same phenomenon? God knows how long I would sleep if this didn’t happen. Or maybe it’s because of my out-of-whack sleep that I hear cats talking?

The house was empty, except for me and my talking feline, and I was on my way to the kitchen, when I heard a voice from the loo: “Can you please turn the light on? You guys always remember about it when you go to the loo, but you’ll never switch it on fur me.”

“Okay, no problem, if you want… but do you really need it? I mean… I’ve always thought cats can see in the dark?” – I said, switching the light on. –

“Obviously I can see in the dark, but I can also listen to the music, can’t I?”

“Absolutely yes!”

I don’t know if it’s a common practice in other countries, but definitely not here, so I believe you must learn, dear reader, that we are people strange enough to have a radio in the loo, so that it starts playing when you switch on the light.

“Uhhh, you listen to some real shit! Isn’t there any proper music?”

“WHat sort of music do you like to listen to?”

“…A human asked her cat, with whom she has lived fur over four years.” – the excess of pee has definitely made Misha feel very sarcastic. –

“Well you’ve never told me so how should I know?” – I asked, a bit irritated. I never thought my little Misha could be so grumpy.

“You do know! Jazz, classical and baroque. And renaissance music is okay. ANd some of your folk music is decent. And Russian ballads… And relaxing piano music. And Russian drum & bass is my guilty pleasure”.

“Huh, my intuition must be truly outstanding. ANd Zofijka’s.” – I thought. These are the genres we’ve always imagined that Misha likes, including the Russian drum & bass bit. Also because he seems to respond very well to some of these genres, like classical music. I found the station with classical music for him and finally went to the kitchen o get Misha’s favourite sauce, hoping he’ll consider it a good recompense for my previous shortcoming, and that perhaps this way I could persuade him into some more talking. I wondered what I should eat myself, but then noticed a plate of small sandwiches, like the ones my Dad always makes, on the table, with a piece of apple pie and a mug of iced coffee, and thought they must be for me. Yum, how cool that someone thought about me! As I started eating, Misha finally emerged from the loo.

“Enjoy your meal. And thank you fur turning on the radio. You left so quickly that I couldn’t thank you in time.”

“You’re always most welcome, Mishi. Are you always so very polite?”

“Yeah, always when I speak. Even when I’m grumpy at the same time.” – he noticed his bowl with sauce and started eating happily.

“You enjoy your meal too. Why are you talking now? I mean, why didn’t you do it before?”

“This sauce is very yummy, thank you, Mila. I had to wake you up somehow, right? And I really don’t like to pee on the carpets. They’re so unpleasant, at least fur peeing, you can’t even do it discreetly on them. So I had to do something, right? Other peeps left very early and I didn’t want to get up then just yet, but I didn’t think I’d have to be imprisoned in one room for so long”.

“But you speak very well. How do you do it?”

“Duh, all cats can speak! It’s just too much fuss so we normally don’t bother. We’re not made for this. But we’d have to be really stupid if, after living with people for as long as we do, we wouldn’t be able to speak. Especially with me when you talk to me all the time and in so many languages. Can I have some more Mish ice-cream, please?”

“No, you’ve just had a whole bowl.”

“But pleeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaase. I’m so hungry. And I can speak so well. Shouldn’t I get a proper treat fur that? Some whipped cream or something? I can say please in Swedish. Or in Welsh. Much more than please, actually.”

“Okay, okay, we shall see if there are some more snacks for Misha. But not whipped cream, you’d have to ask Mum for that.” – I squeezed another tube of Mish ice-cream into his bowl, all the while smearing my fingers in it, which prompted Misha to start licking them enthusiastically.

“Thank you, I love Mish ice-cream so much!” – he said, rubbing his head lightly with his paw, as he always does after a delicious meal. –

“I love making you happy.” – I said, smiling at him.

“I love making you happy too, that’s my job, isn’t it”.

“I guess so. I think we bothh live to make each other happy”.

Misha sat still for a while, as if thinking deeply about something.

“I’ll be happy if you let me out now”.

“What?!” – I screamed in shock, much louder than necessary. – “Misha, you are so clever, you can speak and all. So why can’t you understand that you just can’t go out? It’s unsafe for you. You don’t know what it’s like outside. There are a lot of animals and they can do something to you, hurt you or even kill you. Or someone can still you, because you are so beautiful, and people could get a lot of money for you. Or just be happy to have such a beautiful cat for themselves for free. There’s no way I’m letting you out. You could get lost, ran over by a car, you wouldn’t know how to get food, and you’re just not used to living outside. It only looks so nice in theory, but it’s very dangerous for such small, beautiful and unexperienced little Mishas”.

“Is your lecture finally over?” – he sighed theatrically – “I’m sorry but I don’t agree with you. It’s exactly the other way around. I’m so very clever, can speak and all, and therefore I do understand purrfectly well what it’s like outside, even though you never let me out. So it’s not dangerous for me. I know how to stay safe, trust me”.

“No, Misha, there’s no way you’re going to do that!”.

“If you’ll go with me, will you stop panicking?”

“No!!!” – I yelled in frustration – “Why do you have to be so stubborn? I said no, and it means no! It doesn’t change anything if I’ll go with you, because you always do everything to slip out of the leash, even with Mum or Sofi, and I won’t be able to see what you’re doing. You’re not going anywhere and that’s it!” – I was already missing those times when Misha didn’t speak. Now it’ll probably be an endless battle. What a sheer luck that he can’t open doors! Or can he? – “Plus, Misha, I can’t go with you alone because I can’t get around outside by myself, so we’d both be almost equally clueless. You know we have a river on our backyard so we could both end up in there.”

” You’re a liar! You said you want to make me happy but now when I want to do something that makes me happy you won’t let me. I’m not clueless. I could be your guide cat.” – he giggled.

“I would never think you could be so stupid.” – I mumbled, feeling like tossing him inside the wardrobe and not letting out for the next few hours.

“This is very offensive. Mila, why can’t you give me just one chance. One little chance. We’ll just go out for a little while. I’ll be really careful. I won’t slip out of the leash, if you won’t keep it too tight, and I’ll make sure we don’t fall into the river or anywhere else. And I won’t run away and we’ll come back home soon. We’ll just go for a little walk. Wouldn’t you like to go for a walk with your little Misha. If you really want, we can stay here in the backyard or in the garden, but we could also go out on the streets, why not? I know how to deal with cars. Please, Mila, give me just one chance”.

“You had many chances before, don’t you remember? We let you out but you’d always try to run away or cry all the time that you want out again”.

“I won’t cry at all after we go this time, I promise. I really, really promise. You wouldn’t want to bet with me, because I will win it and you’ll have to get me 50 litres of whipped cream.” – his typical Russian blue smile widened. –

“I’m not going to bet with you, nor am I going anywhere with you. You’re crazy”.

“Okay, suit yourself. I just wanted to be nice. But if you don’t want to be nice, I’ll just go on my own and I’ll come back when I want.” – and with this, he ran to the door and was just about to jump on the handle.

“No!!!” – I shrieked, and ran after him, took him in my arms and shook firmly a few times, which he definitely didn’t like.

“So what?” – he asked, when I finally put him on the floor. – “Are you going with me or not?”.

“I guess I have no choice, but be sure that this is the last walk in your whole life.”

“Yaaaay! Thank you, Mila! I knew you’re cooler than that. You’ll see it’ll be a lot of fun” –

I was full of doubts, but I got out Misha’s leash and out we went. Jocky went all bonkers seeing Misha, and Misha did let him jump all over him for a while, but after some time his patience was exhausted and he nudged him gently but firmly away with his paw.

“Excuse me, sir Jocky. I like you a lot, but I have more important things on my mind at this moment. WHere shall we go, Mila?”

“Dunno, it’s your freaking trip, you say.” – I said, feeling sort of as if I suddenly found myself right in the middle of some strange fairytale world a la Alice in WOnderland.

– “We’ll hang around here for a while, then” – said Misha confidently.

I had to admit it to him that so far he indeed was very well-mannered, didn’t ran out frenziedly or stand in one place full of fear as he usually did when we let him out, didn’t try to slip out of the leash and kept close to me, moreover, if there has ever been something like a guide cat, I believe he could be viewed as an example for what a guide cat should be and how it should behave, and, although I have no personal experience with guide dogs, dare I say he exceeded even them, as I didn’t have to give him any commands, and of course he was also able to talk. Though on the other hand I’m not sure if a manipulative cat who does exactly what he wants no matter what it takes could be the kind of a service animal most people would want.

Finally, we came to the garden and Misha decided we’ll spend some time here.

“We’ll just lie down on this purrfectly fresh grass, I’ll have some of it as I’m sure it’s great fur getting rid of hairballs, and we’ll have a cuddle, just as you always like. Doesn’t that sound nice? I won’t run away I promise.”

And so we did. Misha enjoyed the fresh grass and rolled around in it and nibbled on it. When he had enough grass in his tummy, and decided that he smells grassy enough, we just laid next to each other in silence, Misha taking in all the new smells, and I wondering about the whole surreal situation I’ve found myself in, and how long it will take me to go completely crazy.

“If you can jump on handles and go out whenever you want, why didn’t you do that earlier, for example when you wanted to the toilet today?” – I asked after a while.

“Cats never do such spectacular things when there’s no absolutely urgent need. And besides, I cannot jump on handles. You guys weren’t kind enough to put your handles low enough fur me to reach, nor was anyone willing to teach me how to open the door, I’m not THAT clever. I only wanted to scare you so that you’d go with me.”

– “You bloody manipulator!” – was the only thing I was able to say.

“Why do you insult me?” – he asked in a calm, innocent voice. – “I only wanted to have an adventure”. But never mind, I’ll furgive you. Oh look, there’s a butterfly, yay! I’ll catch it fur ya! What a beautiful butterfly!”

“No, Misha, leave it alone!”

“But why? It’s the last walk in my life and I’ve never propurly caught a mouse or a bird or an insect. DO you want me to feel like a total failure in life? That certainly won’t make me feel happy.”

Misha caught the butterfly in a matter of seconds, all the while making sweet, little feline sounds, as he always does when “playing” with little animals.

“Here’s my gift fur you, Mila. A very beautiful butterfly. I killed it myself.”

“Am I supposed to eat it or what?” – I asked, the surreal, grotesque feeling growing with every minute.

“Oh, you can’t even appreciate a heartfelt gift. I’ll eat it then.”

“Let’s hit the streets now. I need to get some new snacks for myself.” – he said after his little brunch.

I think I felt too dazed to refuse him any longer, or too exhausted by all the events of this short day, but whatever the reason, I followed him. We went out the gate and on the streets. Misha truly amazed me with his ability to navigate in the town, even as little as ours, with not very much traffic.

“Do you purrhaps know if there are any pet shops in the area?” – he asked.

“Yeah, there is one.” – I gave him the street. – “It’s quite close to us, but I don’t know where exactly, you’d have to figure that out for yourself somehow”.

“Okay, no worries, I will. Misha Hhrrru? can deal with any situation like a pro.”

“Excuse me, ma’am. – a well-dressed, tall, elderly lady with a grotesquely big hat and very-high-heel shoes, was passing us, and as it seemed, Misha decided to ask her about the pet shop. I froze. What will she think? Will she actually hear him?

The woman gasped, her eyes widening in horror, and pressed her hand to the chest.

“Jesus! Someone help me! A cat… a cat… This cat can speak…”

“Yes, you’re right, I’m a cat. My name is Misha. Nice to meet you. You don’t have to be afraid of me. I’m a nice and friendly kitty, I like people. I understand you, because I used to be afraid of everything too. Only today I decided not to be. Now I’m not afraid of anything. What do you need help with.”

“H…h…heeeelp! I think I’m going mad. And my heart… my heart… – she whizzed –

“Oh no, what’s wrong with your heart. Mila says I can heal people. I can’t promise anything, but purrhaps I can heal you…?” – but before Misha could end his friendly monologue, I dragged him in the opposite direction and we ran away, as quickly as possible. Misha realised it’s indeed not safe for him to stay there, as more and more people were gathering around the woman, looking at her and at us. Seeing us running away though, the woman suddenly regained some of her vital energy and started yelling:

“It’s hers!!! It’s this girl’s cat! THey’re running! Someone catch them! She’s making pranks on poor, elderly people!” –

“Come on” – I heard a little voice behind me – “I live right here, come with me, quick.” – a little girl, perhaps 9- or 10-year-old, was smiling at us.

We ran after her into her gate, which she closed behind us. We all sat at the stairs of her house. She giggled.

“Your cat is beautiful. How did you make that old bag believe he can speak?”

” Thank you for saying I’m beautiful. I can speak, every cat can.”

“Hahaha, that was really funny. How can I also make my cat speak?”

“You can’t make him. He must want himself. I am Misha, nice to meet you.”

“No, but seriously. How did you make your cat speak?”

“Seriously, I didn’t make him. He can speak for himself. He started today.”

She thought for a minute.

“Really? This is strange. But I want to believe it’s true so I guess I will.”

Soon, a man came out of the house.

“Nela? What have you been doing there for so long?” – he came closer – “Oh, good morning.” – he said to me – “What a beautiful cat. I am Nela’s dad.”

“I’m Emilia, and this is Misha”. – I said, nudging Misha to tell him not to say anything, which he understood. I really wasn’t up to another conversation about how I make my cat speak.

“Please do come in. Nela, you should have invited your guests inside.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, but I think we have to go now.” – I said – “Misha only came to visit Nela for a moment.”

“Well, okay then. But I hope you visit us some time soon in the future again.” – said Nela’s dad, visibly surprised that we weren’t going to stay for longer.

“What a pity you can’t stay for a while” – said Nela when her father disappeared into the house. – “I really love Misha. And perhaps my cat would learn to speak from him. I think it’s safe now so you can go”.

“Oh but wait!” – Misha called when Nela was about to go inside her house. – “I have a very important question.”

“What is it?”

“Do you know where is the nearest pet shop?”

“Emm… not really… I’ve been there once with my parents but I don’t know where exactly it is. But I can ask dad.”

“Oh no, there’s no need for that” – I said –

We said goodbye quickly and went in search of the pet shop. Misha decided to go back to the same street, as he was sure the fuss was already over. Nela had hid us very successfully, and it seemed like no one cared overly about the old lady’s revelations about a talking cat, perhaps apart fromm a bunch of people who could hear Misha for themselves. The street was actually empty. Or so we thought, until, seemingly out of nowhere, the old lady appeared in front of us.

“Oh yes, I knew you’d be back, scaring to death innocent, dignified older people and making fun of them with your possessed cat.” – she said to me.

“I’m not…” – Misha tried to defend himself, but I tightened the leash on him hard enough that he knew he has to stay quiet.

“I’m sorry if my cat scared you. I’m sure he didn’t mean to”.

“You are sorry! My only hope is that you will not do it ever again!”

“No, of course I won’t. We weren’t making fun of anyone. My cat can speak, but he’s not possessed or anything, and he’s not bad to people”.

“Of course he can’t speak, and if he can, there must be something wrong with him. Cats do not speak”.

“But I’m a guide cat!” – Misha couldn’t hold himself back anymore.

“What?!” – the old lady raised her eyebrows.

“I’m her guide cat.” – Misha repeated. – “You know about guide dogs, don’t you? How they help blind people to get around?”

“Oh yes, I know. My friend’s ex-colleague’s daughter’s daughter is blind and has a guide dog, and I watched a documentary about blind people years ago.” – she said, apparently forgetting she was talking to a cat –

“So I’m like a guide dog, only I’m a cat.”

“Oh, I didn’t know there were guide cats!”

“So, you see now, ma’am, don’t you, that I have to be able to speak. I have to tell her that it’s safe to cross the street, or ask people for directions when even I don’t know where to go.”

“Oh yes, now it’s a completely different matter. I’m sorry I was so unpleasant, poor girl, I didn’t know she was blind, God bless her.”

And with that, along with a dozen others maudlin comments like this, she wanted to leave, but Misha stopped her:

“Excuse me, ma’am, I have a very important question. Do you know where is the nearest pet shop? Even a guide cat deserves a treat once in a while, right?”.

“Oh yes, I know. Turn left, then right, and then left on the crossing, and you’ll see the pet shop first thing on your right.”

“Thank you.”

When we were sure she has left, we started laughing our guts out.

“Misha, you’re a genius!” – I uttered, when I finally was able to speak. –

“Thank you, Mila, but I already knew that. Honestly I didn’t expect her to be this naive. Now, let’s finally go to that pet shop, I’m really tired of all that peopling.”

* * * * *

“Bibiel!!! Biiiiiibieeeeeeeel!” – Sofi yelled so loud that she would wake up all the dead people on the cemetery.

“What do you want?” – I asked sleepily.

“Wake up. You’re sleeping and sleeping and sleeping. It’s 2 PM. Mum told me to wake you up and ask if you want to go with us to the beach.”

I sat up and rubbed my eyes. Misha sneaked in quietly and rubbed his head on my hand in a playful way. The memories of the last hour floated back into my brain. So it was only a dream… or was it?

Testing, testing!…

Hey people! πŸ™‚
I have news of the year for you! Bibiel’s got an iPhone. πŸ˜„
It’s been hanging in the air for a while already, because Zofijka got an iPhone recently too, and as my ten-year-old Nokia wasn’t getting any younger, I had to think about something new at some point. You may already know that I’d been very reluctant to have a smartphone because of my coordination and orientation difficulties and that it felt sort of surreal for me that I’d ever be able to use a touch screen, and all my attempts on other people’s phones in the past were miserable, so I was always joking that I’m sticking to Nokia due to my undying loyalty to Finland.
It’s been one heck of a change, as you can imagine, but somehow I’ve been able to keep my stress and rumination at healthy levels so far, and am even a little bit excited about the thing. I have a whole lot of things to get used to and would definitely be lost if not my Bluetooth keyboard, as I can do barely anything on the screen, and so far struggle a lot even with the keyboard, but hopefully it’s just the matter of getting used to everything.
I just wanted to let you know about it and test how the email thing works, as I’ve just set up my emails in the Mail app and am sending this via email. This is actually my second attempt as something didn’t work out the whole time. So far I’m pretty sure it’s not going to become my default way of blogging, it’s really arduous.

Question of the day.

Hi people! πŸ™‚

What are your opinions on zoos?

My answer:

I’ve never been a huge fan, probably mostly because the animals I like the most and have the strongest connection to are the ones that are used to people and live with them, especially cats and horses. Besides, it feels a little boring to me since I can’t really even engage with the animals in any meaningful way, as you can’t touch them or anything. I remember when I went to the zoo for the first time when I was 5, it was shortly after I went to the boarding school (or rather nursery), and by then my parents would visit me every weekend there for a year or so. And on one of those weekends we went to the zoo which wasn’t very far away from the school, and I was so excited, because I loved bears at that time, and when Mum told me some time ahead that we’ll be going to the zoo, I was telling everyone that I’ll take some honey and will be feeding the bears honey with a spoon. πŸ˜€ But in the end I guess there actually were no bears, or at least I can’t recall that haha. it feels a bit like a museum or a gallery to me, and these kinds of places usually aren’t that fascinating to me, often even when the theme of it is interesting. I guess I’ll learn more from reading about it than wandering aimlessly around. Especially that I have some marvellous talent for nearly fainting in entertainment places like that. I’ve never actually passed out but I could feel really weak and drained and pretty close to it anyway. Probably because you typically visit such places in late spring/summer when it’s hot, and you often have to stand in one place there for a longer period, then move a few metres to another place where there is another object/animal/whatever and either listen and learn about it when you’re at a school trip or with a guide or something, or just wait while everyone else is looking at it if you’re only with sighted people, rather than just walk all the time or sit, and heat plus long standing in place makes my BP drop. So it feels very unpleasant, stressful and darws too much bad attention for my liking. Also, despite I am not some extreme and crazy animal rights/environment advocate or someone who would want to humanise animals in a serious way, I always find it sad when I happen to be at the zoo that all those poor animals have to be there and had to lose their freedom just because of our human whims because WE fancy seeing wild animals in real life. Sort of similar to circus in a way, both because it’s something I can’t really engage in, and because it involves wild animals only that circus seems generally more cruel and unethical than zoo, and the whole circus thing doesn’t really make much sense to me, I mean I can’t quite get it what’s exactly so funny about it, it seems a little primitive kind of entertainment to me but maybe I’m just either too stiff and lacking humour or it’s beyond my cognitive abilities to get it. πŸ˜€ I know that the zoo is a form of education so that people can actually see the animals, but I’m not sure if we necessarily have to see something face to face to be able to learn basic things about it unless we are scientists. I also understand that sometimes it can be life-saving for some endangered species to live in the zoo rather than in their natural habitat which may not be a safe place, but I guess those are exceptional cases and zoos don’t consist of only such animals but also such that would be perfectly fine in the wild.

I don’t have any huge dislike for zoos or am not against them in general, but they are just not really my thing, I guess.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (23rd May).

Hey people! πŸ™‚

What’s the most bored you’ve ever been?

My answer:

I am generally not someone to get easily bored. There is that sort of saying that intelligent people don’t get bored. And, while I don’t think it’s very true and exact, it does make a good point. When you can rely on your brain to provide you entertainment rather than wait for the right external circumstances, you have it much easier and more interesting. But I believe that there are such situations that you really can’t not get bored in, regardless of your IQ. The imagination and your thoughts alone can be a good way to occupy yourself, but if it’s the only thing you are left with and are unable to do much more, that may not be sufficient for a longer period of time. The situations I usually get most bored in are in big gatherings of people, that is. Usually I feel a lot of anxiety when socialising, especially in large groups of people, but sometimes it happens that the anxiety lowers a bit with time and then boredom creeps in. This often happens to me at all sorts of bigger family gatherings where I don’t feel so awfully anxious that it would be the only thing that would be constantly on my mind. It does happen to me sometimes that I feel both highly anxious and very bored at the same time and that’s a very awful combination and feels strange in the brain, like, it’s hard to deal with it when you’re both over- and understimulated in different ways, right? πŸ˜€ I tend to feel bored in such big groups of people because I usually end up being the passive observer rather than the one actually participating in what’s happening. I do love observing people very much, analysing how they behave, trying to figure out what they are thinking about or feeling etc. But if I’m supposed to be around a lot of people for some longer time, you can’t do just it all the time. As it usually happens, most of the things they talk about aren’t overly interesting to me, assuming I have any actual clue about what/whom they are talking about, and having to sit in one place for hours just taking in a lot of meaningless nonsense isn’t one of my most favourite activities. Sometimes I go into my Brainworld and daydream or something but you have to be careful with such things in case you float too far away. πŸ˜€ I like my extended family and have mostly normal or good relationships with them apart from some exceptions who won’t even admit openly that they have a problem with me but rather let me know via someone else, but I don’t feel a strong sense of belonging with them, which I think is part of why things are the way they are. I often have no idea what they are talking about, or just am not interested/knowledgeable in the topic so I have little to say usually, even without the anxiety at play.

I can also get massively bored watching movies, mostly because I can’t focus on them for some reason, even when they are with audiodescription and interesting to me, I just have a weird problem with movies. πŸ˜€

But I think the time when I was most bored ever would have to be when I was 10 and recovering from the Achilles tendon surgery. The whole thing was quite scary, not because the surgery was scary or complicated or anything but because I think I wasn’t ready for what was coming next, no one has really told me. Or otherwise I don’t know what made it so scary, anyway I responded to it very badly. As I wrote on here earlier, after the surgery I had to have casts on both legs for 6 weeks and then physical therapy, the amount of which depends on a particular case and for me it was about a month I guess. My surgeon was slightly overzealous, because apparently my casts were waaay bigger than they needed to be, I had them from my thighs all the way down to my feet so that only my toes stuck out and I was unable to bend my knees so my legs always had to be stretched out (I guess that’s why now I always sit with my knees bent or even legs curled up whenever possible πŸ˜€ ). So basically I couldn’t walk at all and that was quite a surprise, I somehow didn’t think it would be like that. It sent me into a freakout because right before my surgery, I was put in the room with a much older girl about whom I’ve also heard that she had contracted Achilles tendons in her both legs and that she was after a few surgeries already and actually could barely move or do anything on her own. I only learned much much later from my Dad that she had an accident as a very small child and the Achilles tendons were just one small issue of the multiple ones she had and her mum had told him that that time she was there also to correct her tendons. But you know how kids can think, I was pretty sure that I was going to be a similar case to her for some reason and would have to be fed and all that. At the same time, it was a hectic time for my family, because Zofijka was only a few months old, and we’ve only just mmoved houses, and the house we were living in was still not fully arranged, my Mum was running around madly getting all sorts of stuff for it and taking care of Zofijka, and helping me with showering and such. I didn’t have the Internet yet, not even a computer, and since I didn’t have any other transport mode other than someone carrying me, I spent most of the time in my room. I was bored like shit and just as my muscles were stagnating, so was my brain, and I was awfully sensory deprived or something, which sent me spiraling down into ANxietyland, and I had all sorts of weird anxieties and other intense stuff like that. But in a way the boredom was even worse than the anxiety. I could read some of the modest selection of the books or kids magazines in Braille that I owned or borrowed from the library, if someone would get me something, as my bookshelves were quite some distance from my bed, and while I could get to the lower shelves on butt, I could not climb back up on to the bed with my ultra heavy legs. πŸ˜€ So I would usually ask someone to give me something to read, but most of the books and magazines I had were not signed in normal print so no one knew what it was, so I ended up reading the same things over and over again. I was in the integration school at the time so my class teacher visited me occasionally and did some school work with me, or sometimes my grandad came when he had time, as it was back when we lived in the country with all my Mum’s family, and sometimes Mum brought Zofijka to me. What helped me the most in those difficult times was Polish Radio Bis (BIS standing for Very Different Station) which was a public radio station mostly addressed to the youth that existed back then, which played a variety of music from genres like rock, alternative, reggae, folk, hip-hop, electronic etc. generally the quirkier the better, and had some educational and cultural programmes, including some that focused on teaching languages, and I was in love with Polish Radio Bis at the time, and even in the word bis used in whatever context. Radio BIS doesn’t exist any longer, but I still miss it and can’t get over it! πŸ˜€ And I still love the word bis. There is Polish Radio Programme 4 that has a very similar formula but, meh, it’s not the same at all. There are different people, different music, different programmes, even if some of the things stayed the same, and I don’t really like them half as much as I did BIS. Anyways, during my recovery from the surgery I even called Polish Radio BIS a couple times, but wasn’t on air, I just chatted to the people in there and wanted to tell them how much I like Radio BIS (read: how obsessed I was with it, but they didn’t seem to mind my obsession and some were very amused by it).

Generally though I had nothing to do all days, and all nights, too, as my sleep cycle was, quite naturally, ALL over the place. I remember very vividly how a couple days before my surgery I talked to my grandad about it and he told me something like that my legs will need to recover and they’ll be in stagnation. I didn’t know what stagnation was, so he explained to me that if I was left alone in a room where no one would come and it would be totally silent, I wouldn’t have any books, music, radio or any other contact with the world, this would be stagnation and I would fall into it easily in such circumstances. And so it was going to be the same with my legs. And then when I was after the surgery already I was thinking that, although I wasn’t completely cut off from the world, his example was so eerily accurate, since it weren’t just my feet that were stagnating, but my brain as well. The weirdest thing about all that is that the surgery actually didn’t work out, so it was rather pointless in the end. πŸ˜€

So yeah, the time I was most bored was probably that.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Post share – Blocking the Block – Cyranny.

So, have you guys already heard about this new WordPress block editor thingy? How do you feel aboutit?

If you feel similarly to me and much prefer the classic one, go over to

This post by Cyranny

and speak up about it, share the post with your readers so that we can have control over our blogs.

They say that we’ll be able to switch between the old and new editors, and if so, it’s great, but the message from their post on this seems to be a little contradictory imo, and I wonder for how long we will actually be given the choice.

As I already commented on the Cyranny’s post, I’ve just tried the new editor out to see what I should brace myself for and if it’ll be as bad for me as for many others, and found it really unfriendly and not really particularly cooperative. It took me about half an hour just to get out back to the classic editor, and it seems like the fact that I did it was only a sheer accident, haha.

I know that there were huge issues in the past with this block editor’s accessibility for screenreaders, and I have to say that, while it isn’t particularly user-friendly and intuitive, the accessibility with my screenreader (NVDA) isn’t bad, as much as I could tell from just testing and not writing an actual post and not being a huge tech savvy, which was a positive surprise, however I’ve heard that apparently there are some significant problems accessing it with another popular screenreader (Jaws). I can’t see for myself if that is the case and to what extend it is unusable as I don’t have Jaws (and even if I could, I’m not keen on the idea of voluntarily interacting with that thing again πŸ˜€ ) but if it really is, something seriously must change here.

 

Question of the day.

What “old person” things do you do?

My answer:

Sofi says I’m awfully vintage! πŸ˜€ Is that seriously true I have no idea, but also I’ve heard that I’m an old soul so possibly yes, though I’m not sure I myself would put it exactly this way either that I have an old soul, I have that Bibiel part of me and she’s anything but old, and probably that’s why some yet other people, especially those who know me more closely, say I’m childish. Well but I have a bit vintage taste in some things, like baby names for example, though I like a lot of modern names as well and hate a lot of vintage names so I can’t say I’m really a vintage names lover. I like archaic words that are no longer or hardly ever used, I like folklore, and would most happily live some time before 20th century, although the only tricky thing would be that there would be no power, no Internet or anything so I couldn’t read books etc. πŸ˜€ But I’m not sure if that is really “old person” things, I guess not really. I’m sure there are such things that I do, probably even a lot of them, maybe more than I realise, but I can’t think of anything… Yay! I remember something now! I don’t have a smartphone, still! πŸ˜€ How absolutely indignant for a blind person! This may change, and most likely will sooner or later, it’s hard to imagine it not to change, though we’ll see what the results will be. For now, I am happy with my other electronic stuff, and my good old Nokia with Symbian OS which is like 10 years old. I always say that I stick to it because of my loyalty towards Finland (Nokia is Finnish, there’s a place called Nokia in Finland and I believe the company originates from there). πŸ˜€ It has only survived such a long time because really in recent years I hardly use a phone. I had this phone with me at school and kept in touch with my family, and back then it went through lots of weird things, but these days I live with my family, I hardly ever call anyone and hardly anyone calls me, because I hate making phone calls and those who know me well know that it’s faster to reach me via email or something like that and that I much prefer writing. If I need to do something that you can only do from a smartphone, I can do it from my Mum’s Samsung with her help if it’s nothing private. I’ve been really wary of touchscreens because my spatial imagination and orientation are rather poor, whether it’s a large or a small space, and so it’s sort of hard for me to imagine that I would be able to figure out something as abstractive as a touchscreen, and my manual skills and coordination aren’t impressive either. But I’m thinking more and more about getting an Iphone because as I said I’ll most likely have to do it at some point anyway, as it can be difficult for a blind person without a smartphone these days, and Iphone and phones with Android (most phones with Android I guess) are the only ones that have screenreaders that you can use with. Then we will see if I can figure that out and to what degree, and in case if not, I’ll have to think about some alternative then, though it’s hard for me to think what it would be, perhaps getting a used Nokia from someone, the same model as mine, and going next 10 years with it haha.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (28th April).

Hey people! πŸ™‚

Do you use a skincare routine consistently? Why or why not?

My answer:

Not really. The only thing I try to do consistently, at least in the winter months when my skin gets really dry, is using some oil, like coconut oil most of the time, on it, and I have a peeling once in a blue moon, but it’s a very minimalistic and natural peeling, I don’t use any ready-made exfoliators. I seriously don’t feel the need for anything more, I’m not someone who would interact with lots of people in a professional setting or anything like that so I don’t think I have to look perfectly, and doing it for myself doesn’t really sound convincing because I’ve always found these kind of beauty self-care things quite uninteresting. On one hand I think my skin isn’t that bad at all that I’d need some fancy skincare routine, I have no big problems with it apart from being a bit too dry at some times, and on the other hand, I don’t know how to put it but it’s like, I don’t have the drive for such things because my self-esteem is too messed up, so I just don’t see the point in bothering, it’s not something pleasurable to me like it is for some people and it doesn’t really affect the way I feel about myself. I’m sure the fact that I’m blind plays some role in it too though I know some blind girls and women who are way more image-conscious than a lot of sighted people I know. And, while my Mum is someone who definitely likes to look good and take care of her appearance, and even is a trained beautician, by the time I was about the age when girls usually learn about those things, her views on skincare shifted dramatically, she’s always inclined to live healthily, but it’s become much more of a passion and a discovery journey for her and she’s started living much more naturally, she used to use tons of things for her skin and now she doesn’t use any shop-bought beauty products at all and relies much more on sport and diet. So the message I was receiving at that time was that it’s actually good that I’m not interested in putting too much shit of unknown origin on my skin, because skin will not absorb all that, so usually a skin product will only have an effect as long as you don’t wash it off, and what will get through the skin may be actually harmful, and it’s illogical to expect for example a cream, especially a cheap one, to make your skin look considerably better, and that it’s better to use natural oils from plants for example, we even use a homemade deodourant. Most of that made a lot of sense to me and still does, so that’s how I am trying to live though I am not nearly as much of a lifestyle freak as my Mum, rather than doing everything to stay healthy or something like that I just do what I like, and if it happens to be good for my health, then it’s a great bonus. She has it much more difficult these days with Sofi because she is much more image-conscious, she’s very pretty and knows about it and wants to fit in, watches loads of YouTube videos and observes her school mates and while she rationally understands Mum’s point of view, she really wants to do make-up, manicure etc. though she’s rarely allowed, but when she is allowed she is very creative, and she does have a very fancy skincare routine.

What about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

Hey people! πŸ™‚

What do you have this week that you didn’t have last week?

My answer:

The most striking difference between my last week and this week is that this week i have a broken SAPI5, instead of a functioning SAPI5. Well, it has broken last Saturday so technically last week, but only at the end of it and as I said, it’s the most striking difference between what I didn’t have/had last week and what I have this week. Plus I want to fill you in on what’s been recently going on in my life and need to rant a bit.

Do you know what SAPI5 is? Probably not, and that’s too bad, unless you have Mac OS or Linux, then you’re justified. But it’s too bad if you have Windows XP or later, because most likely, regardless of whether you use it or not, you do have something called SAPI5 on your computer. But even many technicians and IT people donn’t know what SAPI5, or SAPI in general, is, and that’s part of why it’s so frustrating when it breaks. I am not an expert in that either but I’ll try to explain it to you the way I understand it. SAPI is an interface developed by Microsoft that allows most modern speech synthesisers to speak in the system and all the apps on PC that use speech synthesis. Most people have SAPI5 on their computers as far as I know because most computers have at least one voice developed by Microsoft installed by default, and some people use apps that convert text to speech so that they can read books with speech synthesis, even though they aren’t blind or anything, so I guess SAPI doesn’t even really count as assistive technology though I may be wrong. How has it broken for me?

You may know that I’ve been fighting for a while now to regain some of my speech synthesisers that I really need and that I couldn’t, for this or that reason, get working on my new computer easily. I couldn’t activate my Swedish speech synthesiser, for example, because the company that used to produce it no longer exists, and it seems like now my activation key for that voice, and most of their voices, but strangely not all of them, doesn’t work. I do need some Swedish speech synthesis really badly though, so I decided to get some Swedish voices from another company, which in a way I thought could even be better, because that company is part Swedish and they have even some voices speaking with specific dialects, which can be useful for a learner. I’ve already been using speech synthesis in some other languages produced by that company, but to be able to use their Scandinavian voices, you have to upgrade to Nordic license, which is quite expensive but I felt like that was the best option for me so I went ahead with it. Finally, I got those Swedish voices, but then had some problem activating the licence so had to ask their support people to help remotely. They fixed my licence so that it worked right, but then when I was reinstalling their app containing all their voices that I own to get the access to the Swedish ones as well, I must have made some mistake along the way or something else went wrong, I’m not sure, anyway it wouldn’t start up properly after the reinstallation. I reinstalled it yet again and this time it did start up properly but there was some other error along the way, so again the support guy fixed that for me.

I was using my Swedish synths for just about a day, and was quite happy with them and really glad that finally that one thing is dealt with for good and I don’t have to read Swedish stuff with a Polish, or even worse, an English synth anymore. Then the next day – which was last Saturday – my antivirus went paranoid and detected some malware on my computer, which I think was very likely some false alarm because I’ve noticed a pattern to its paranoid behaviour earlier and it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with any real threats. Anyway, it wanted to make a full scan, so I let it do its thing. After that, my computer rebooted and my screenreader spoke to me with a completely different synth than the one I had been using. Well, that happens sometimes, so I was only slightly surprised. I wanted to change it back to the one I was using prior to the scan, but, to my now huge surprise and dread, I only got a message “Couldn’t load SAPI5 synthesiser”. All those Swedish voices, and all the other voices from that company from whom I got the Swedish voices very recently, and a few other synths that I use on a regular basis use SAPI5, so now I don’t have access to them. Now I only have a couple Polish voices that aren’t on SAPI5.

Other than that, when I tried to open the app with those Swedish voices and others from that company, it would never start up, it looked like it was constantly loading, and when I finally gave up and close it, it exploded with strange error messages.

It could be that I got something wrong with that reinstallation, but I feel like if that was the case, it would crash much earlier, not after the scan. Therefore I think it’s my antivirus that is to blame. It is apparently the only third-party antivirus these days that is (somewhat) accessible for screen-readers, so that’s why I’m using this one, but I’ve heard that actually the built-in Windows Defender is quite good these days, and apparently also accessible, so I’m seriously considering a change in that respect.

I had experienced a SAPI crash once before, many years ago, and that was absolutely dreadful!!! The technician that frequently helped me with things back then was clueless. I called him and just told him that my SAPI was broken, but he was utterly confused and like “Ummm, and what is SAPI?????”. I do know some things about assistive technology and generally about tech stuff because naturally you sort of have to know more when you’re blind if you want to survive and not be completely cut out from the world, I’d say an average blind person has to know a bit more about tech things than an average sighted person. But I’m far from being techy, and I don’t think I have to be, so if I had to explain really well what is SAPI like in theory, how it works and all, I don’t think I’d be able to do it well, all I know about it I have already told you, it’s only from a user’s perspective, and it’s entirely possible I got something wrong. Unfortunately I’ve had a couple technicians that have helped me with this or that, whom I had to educate on what is a screenreader, how does it work, what does it not do etc. etc. And it’s not like they are stupid jerks who don’t want to learn or don’t care or anything like that. They were really interested in all that and always asked me tons of questions. They just never got a chance to learn about it. I know a fair bit from user’s perspective, though not as much as a lot of people I know, and the inner workings of those things in theory aren’t something I’m particularly knowledgeable in.

In the end, with that previous SAPI failure, I had to send my computer to a company I know quite well who distribute specialised equipment for the visually impaired, the same people who helped me to choose a computer for me and then set it up, and they do similar things and they kindly fixed SAPI for me back then, but the whole thing dragged on for over half a year as far as I remember.

So this time round I was absolutely gutted when that happened and still am, and not really sure what to do, I would really not like to risk trying to fix it myself, I have no idea how to do that. Straight away after that happened, I wrote the support guy from that speech synth company from which I got the Swedish synths, that was what my Mum advised me to do, although I doubted they would be up to helping me this time since the problem didn’t have directly to do with their product, or not only with it. I thought he’d at least write that “No, sorry, we can’t help you with that”, but so far he hasn’t even written back to me. Maybe he doesn’t know what is SAPI either? πŸ™ƒ I will wait a couple more days for his response, but if he won’t get back to me, i’ll have to try our current technician who usually helps our family with tech issues and test his knowledge about SAPI, and he’ll be able to learn something new, hopefully without devastating my computer further. If that won’t work, I’ll have to ship it to that visually impaired company on the other end of the country and let’s pray that my fan won’t break yet again in the process. πŸ˜€ Or that they can do it remotely. Though if I’m honest, for some reason i have a gut feeling that it’s not a good idea to ask them to do that, despite it were them who did it the last time. Maybe it’s because of all that bad luck with my computer when they were setting it up for me. Anyway, in the end I may not have a choice. I’ve always had a more or less mild tech issues phobia, but lately those things are scaring the shit out of me and if that won’t stop, I don’t see how it could improve.

So yeah, I’ve become the owner of a broken SAPI5 this week, such a positive news of the day for my readers. πŸ˜€

How about you? Do you have some more positive news, or have you also become in possession of something you really don’t like having? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (7th April).

Hey people! πŸ™‚

DO you usually drive or fly when going on a holiday?

My answer:

I’ve never flew by plane in my whole life, and we usually go on holidays in the country so we drive most of the time. I am quite scared of the prospect of flying, mostly because I have balance issues because of something being wrong with my vestibular system, I don’t really know what exactly is wrong with it and why, I can only suspect that it could be somehow vaguely related to my blindness but then not all blind people have vestibular system issues, and diagnosis and labyrinth examination in the blind seems rather tricky. Anyway, some of the things I deal with because of it are quite odd and I can feel unwell just riding in the car, which is not just being car sick – although that’s how I usually compare that to people and how I refer to it when talking to other people who are unfamiliar and unlikely to get it for lack of a better, official and descriptive word, though I do get normal motion sickness sometimes too but it’s not quite as often and not quite as bad at all –
it’s like when a road is particularly bumpy, or very winding, or there is a hill, or someone is driving really fast, or I just have a bad day balance wise, because some days are definitely better and some are definitely worse, and it also seems to depend quite a bit on a kind of vehicle I’m riding, but in the wrong circumstances I can get all dizzy and feel generally strange sensations in my body and it’s also just plain scary. I have no idea if it would be the same on the plane or not, but trying it out feels quite creepy to me since I wouldn’t be able to just stop or go back or anything. When going to Sweden a while ago, we travelled by ferry to Karlskrona, and that was quite an exception from our normal, I was really determined to do it, but the travel was really difficult for me.

How about you? πŸ™‚