Question of the day.

   How do you people deal with heat? 

   My answer: 

   Thankfully, I have my AC now so that helps a lot. I would really like to be able to control it more than I can, because unfortunately its app is pretty much unusable with VoiceOver and the only thing that I can use with it is its remote, so the only thing I can do knowing what I’m doing is to turn it on and off, and even then it often likes to act up and I have to turn it both on and off repeatedly for it to actually take effect, but it’s definitely better than none. This is why I am thinking about getting myself a smart AC controller, it’s called Sensibo Air and is very accessible, you plug it in the AC, configure it with an app on your phone and it basically works like a remote. Except I’m not entirely sure yet if it’s compatible with my AC, and my Mum hasn’t really been able to help determine that, so we asked a guy who was setting it up for me to come over and check it, but so far he hasn’t. Anyway, yeah, AC is very helpful during a heatwave, and I also sporadically use it in winter to heat the room. 

   My room generally heats up really fast, so I also have blinds here, and they help somewhat as well, but not extremely much. 

   Other than that, I try to drink a lot, especially iced drinks, be it orange juice, water or Pepsi, iced coffee too but it’s not hydrating really. I really really love ice, I don’t know what it is and if it’s something about ice or something weird going on with me but I’ve always really loved ice, be it feeling it, sucking on cubes of it, hearing it, icicles, or drinking iced drinks, where you can actually feel bits of ice. When I was a kid, and even now, actually, I wanted there to be ice that wouldn’t melt, or not so easily at least, so that I could have like a whole container of it and feel it as long and often as I’d like without it melting. I know that health-conscious people like my Mum say you should actually drink hot drinks when you’re hot so that your body will start cooling itself down or something, but that doesn’t make much sense to me, and I bet that few people actually do it unless it’s somehow part of their cultural customs to do that, not even my health-conscious Mum actually does it. I typically have tea with my breakfast though no matter the season, or sometimes cocoa or I used to have coffee a lot too, because having a cold beverage with breakfast feels kind of weird to me and I don’t like cold or even iced tea, and I haven’t noticed that it would make me particularly cooler when it’s hot. Very cold kefir will also do, but iced kefir would be kind of odd I guess. 

   We are also very privileged people here because we have a river on our backyard, so while you wouldn’t necessarily want to swim in it I suppose, you can still sit by the shore and put your feet in it or even sit in the water where it’s shallow. A cold/very lukewarm shower is also something I like to take especially if I was out in the heat riding in the car or something. 

   I only tend to wear stuff like airy, breathable dresses or skirts when it’s hot, with leggings underneath if I have to people ‘cause I don’t like to show my legs if I really don’t have to, or I just wear a long enough skirt. If I go to the beach or for a trip or even out on a terrace or to sit by our river or for a walk, sunscreen is a must in summer ‘cause it’s quite ridiculous how quickly I can get sunburn, I typically use grape seed oil for that. 

   Oh yeah, and I try to limit standing for long periods of time as much as possible. This is something that has always been a bit of a problem for me ever since I was a young child, that long periods of standing in one place would make me feel faint and like extremely tired and nauseated and my pulse would   get a lot faster, and just the whole thing is really weird and awful in general, and it’s regardless of the weather, but heat is one of the things that is a particular trigger for that. Sofi has the same thing which is even weirder because unlike me her blood pressure seems to usually be normal rather than usually low like mine, we both also had cardiological assessments because our Dad has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy but there was nothing wrong  with either of us. That’s why I always dreaded school trips, which typically took place at the end of school year when it was already pretty hot and would involve visiting stuff like museums or other such where you’d be standing for ages in front of every single exhibit and listen to a lecture about it. 😀 And I have to avoid Corpus Christi processions (Corpus Christi is a Catholic holiday) which are typically in May-June and it just absolutely always has to be hot when this day comes. Walking as such is okay with my system, but when it’s a procession, you first have to stand for quite a while before it starts so you’re already starting to feel a little weird before it starts properly, and then stop regularly and go from kneeling to standing to kneeling and so on, which doesn’t help, so that I usually am not able to make it through the whole thing before I get the ringing in the ears sensation and everything starts to feel oddly distant, so I would usually ruin it for my family because one of our parents would have to take me (and often Sofi as well) home and miss the rest of the procession as well. And I hate drama like that and ruining stuff for people, so while I don’t like having to avoid it,  I just go to the morning Mass with Mum and Sofi so that when Mum wants she can go to the procession later. Anyways, while I’ve never ever fainted, I don’t fancy experiencing it, so when it’s hot, like I said I prefer to avoid  standing  for too long if I can, but normal walking is fine. 

   What are your strategies? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   Your objective is to go back in time into the 1700’s and blow the minds of everyone there. What do you bring with yourself? 

   My answer: 

   Some giant blow-dryer, I suppose, so that I could be able to blow as many minds at once as possible as quickly as possible, lol. But seriously, I think it wouldn’t be a difficult task at all to blow the 1700’s people’s minds, except for the actually getting there bit. My first thought was to show them some audio recording equipment, as well as something that music can be stored and played on, be it  a CD or an iPod or a computer with either audio files or a streaming service or whatever really. So I’d definitely have to get myself some pretty powerful power bank, or if even that fails back then perhaps I’ll actually have to borrow my grandad’s machine that produces electricity (I can’t figure out what its actual name is in English, but the huge, noisy thing that you use when there’s a power outage and whatever you make your living off doesn’t really allow for power outages) and drag it back in time with myself, plus something to keep it in that would muffle the sound so people wouldn’t think it’s the devil roaring. And then I’d also definitely pack my iPhone – but I wouldn’t actually be showing all its features to them, like what a phone actually is and stuff like that ‘cause they would either end up having some pretty bad shock, which can’t be good for your mental health, or wouldn’t be able to take it in anyway – I’d just use it to show them that there are such things that can record your voice, or anything really, for that matter, and then you can play it back and do sound editing and what not, and I’d show them some music, probably from just normal audio files because the only other way I listen to music and I guess most people do is streaming services, and I don’t think these peeps would be ready for the idea of the Internet quite yet and how you can stream something out of nowhere, plus I don’t know how I could take the Internet with me. It wouldn’t be anything  too modern like, dunno, dubstep,  lol, just some classical music and very traditional-sounding acoustic folk tunes or something like that, I don’t want the population to extinct in one mass heart attack. Perhaps this way, it would get them to think and develop ways of recording music earlier than people actually started doing it, and we would be able to have an even clearer idea of what people listened to back then, as well as they could simply make any other random recordings that could work as sort of family heirlooms for future generations, that they’d have recordings of their family members voices, and maybe as a result they’d learn to record video sooner as well. It would also be cool because for those who were still illiterate, or just weren’t very experienced at writing, they could just keep an audio diary, which would be sooo interesting for linguists because spoken language is so different from how it’s written, just in case you’ve never heard of this phenomenon before. 

   And then I’d also want to show them ebooks somehow, at least to the more educated folks out there. So I guess I’d need to take my Mac with me, explain what the screen and keyboard is all about and how you can display text, and read stuff, and I would show them how to read a text file and how to edit text files and generally type on a keyboard. I would probably also need to borrow a Kindle or something similar from someone and show them how books can be read on something like that. This would be for very selfish reasons – so that, once they’d hopefully wrap their minds around it, they’d also be able to write their books in other ways than just physical, which would make them accessible to Bibielz, which would mean that more deliciously old books in a deliciously rusty language would be available to all the Bibielz and non-Bibielz out there. As it is, a lot of old books are digitalised by libraries, but they’re typically just image scans that haven’t been converted to text, and a lot of classics to which copyright has expired can be downloaded for free very easily in accessible formats, but these are usually very obvious, very well-known books. It’s difficult to get something deliciously old and deliciously obscure, or simply not classic, in an accessible text format. 

   Problem is, I’m not sure I’d be the most fortunate person to blow their minds with this, because obviously I use screen readers, and screen readers are even later an invention than the Internet, and also fairly abstract to explain how it works (even to IT people sometimes *sighs*) and I’m pretty sure that even a computer alone could be quite a creepy thing for someone from 1700’s, let alone a talking one, and I actually wonder what would be worse, very robotic-sounding synths or the neural ones that even many people these days can’t tell apart from a human. Not to mention that the idea of blind people being able to basically read screens is still pretty difficult for many people to take in, so I would expect it to be even more spectacularly mind-blowing back then, and they’d probably think it’s some sort of prank or something supernatural or don’t know what else. 😀 

   What would your choice be? 🙂 

How do I feel about my age?

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

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

   How do you feel about your age? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question of the day.

   Who was the worst teacher you’d ever had? 

   My answer: 

   I guess I’ve had both some teachers that were pretty damn good, as well as such that were really awful. Either at teaching or generally dealing with students. But it’s really hard to pick the ultimate worst. My class teacher at the inclusion/integration school that I went to for two years is someone whom I don’t have particularly good memories of. Thankfully she wasn’t my class teacher for those two years, only the second year. At the same time, she happened to be our math teacher. She was very weird and moodswingy, and clearly had some mental problem with my being blind, but wouldn’t show it in an explicit way ‘cause… well, inclusion school. Instead she just acted really awkward not only with me, but also with my Mum. She was very happy to throw as much of her teaching responsibility off her shoulders onto my Mum, so my Mum didn’t have the best relationship with her either. And overall she just wasn’t a particularly likeable person, creating a lot of unnecessary tension and stressful atmosphere around her. 

   I then also happened to have a math teacher as my class teacher when I came back to the blind school, and she got on my nerves all the time, but I suppose that was more because of my whole math situation rather than her being a bad teacher in general, even though a lot of other students didn’t like her either. She wasn’t a very engaging or particularly pleasant person, seemed kind of dry and emotionless to me, but I don’t think it would be fair to say that she was a bad teacher no matter how eagerly I disliked her. 

   I had some pretty bad luck with English teachers. Some of them were lovely people, but not very good teachers, while others were I guess decent teachers, but unpleasant people who could easily discourage you from liking their subject, but thankfully none managed to discourage me from liking the language itself. 

   Oh yeah, and my history teacher in high school/college, he was absolutely hilarious and annoying, I don’t know which he was more. It was a mainstream school and I don’t think he had to do with a blind individual before ‘cause he seemed to be utterly scared of me. It was really ffunny on one hand, because, huh, I didn’t know I was this creepy, and me and one of my classmates had a lot of laughs about it and wondered what would happen if I did something weird in his lesson, like started laughing like a freak or yelling in Swedish or pretended to be spectacularly sick like have a heart attack or a seizure, or whatever, how he would react, and my classmate highly encouraged me to try, but on the other hand it was really inconvenient because being a sociophobic myself, I didn’t really know how to interact with him, and I did have to occasionally. He was even absolutely terrified of my Mum. I originally thought that perhaps he also has social anxiety or something like that and felt for him, but since his interactions with everyone else other than my Mum and me were totally normal I quickly figured out that he’s just probably scared of contracting blindness.  I later on decided that I will do most of my school work from home and just send them control assignments and come for half-term exams, because my sitting in class for eight hours often felt like a total waste of time when they did some textbook-based stuff or looked at slideshows, and when I came to school with my Mum to ask the teachers if that was okay, my Mum said that he looked very visibly relieved. He still had to deal with the creepy Bibielz during exams, which you’d think would be  all the worse because it was one-on-one interaction and he couldn’t just pretend I wasn’t there, so I thought it would be very problematic, but he actually seemed to deal with that better. 

   How about your worst teacher(s)? 🙂 

Question of the day (23rd May).

   Hi people! 🙂 

   Here’s your question of the day that I was actually planning to post yesterday, so today we’ll hae two questions again. 🙂 

   What is the most fucked up thing a person you know has done? 

   My answer: 

   The first thing that comes to my mind is something that my two later to become boarding school roommates did when we were in nursery/preschool. There was one boy who, aside from obviously being blind like all of us, also had some intellectual disability and I guess something wrong with his face, a cleft palate or something. And one time when he was in the loo, they went in there and started banging his head on the walls from side to side, just as he was sitting on the loo. Thankfully someone has noticed and they got punished by it in some way. I only learned about it from them years later, and it struck me as really odd and quite hardcore cruel, because they’re normally not like that at all, and it didn’t seem like they had any clear motivation behind that, just that one of themm got such an idea and the other followed. 

   You? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   Which part of the stereotypical teenager experience did you not relate to? 

   My answer: 

   Probably more than what I did relate to, and more than what I can think of right now. I guess most people think of teenagers as being rebellious, loud, having an attitude (this is such a weird, vague-sounding expression, everyone has some sort of attitude) and stuff like that. I wouldn’t say I was those things. I never really felt the need to rebel in some ostentatious way. Well, I guess you may say that I sort of did in my late teens when I turned away from Christianity and pretended mostly for my own sake that I was an atheist or agnostic, then later tried playing with Wicca, because my school was Catholic and I wanted to reject everything to do with it. I also identified and liked to present myself as a Goth, and I think there was also a sort of rebellious element to it because it doesn’t really get along very well with Christian values. I would also do stuff like I-dosing (using such binaural beats which work sort of like drugs and simulate various mental states) or lucid dreaming, which was primarily a way of escapism for me, but in a way I think a sort of rebellion as well. But while I really regret all of that now and have not only got a chance from God to re-convert but also found my place in the traditional Catholic community and now attend exclusively traditional Latin Mass, which is kind of funny when I think of it more, I don’t think people around me perceived me as particularly rebellious in a typical teenager way. 

   I definitely wasn’t impulsive or into risk. I certainly was emotional like a proper teenager, but I was a huge fan of bottling things up and apparently very good at it so I came across as the opposite of that to many people.

   I’ve always felt that most fictional teenagers – and most of the real ones that I knew while being a teenager myself, for that matter – seem to have a lot of friends, or at the very least one best friend that they share stuff with and are really close to each other. This is also not really an experience I had. As I wrote on here before, I think I was liked at school and unlike your stereotypical friendless teenager I didn’t have any enemies either and was never bullied or anything like that. I got along well with most people and had some common ground with a handful, I even called some of them friends, but wasn’t particularly close with anyone. The girls I particularly enjoyed hanging out with were already a very tightly-knit circle of friends to each other, and while I think they liked me and my company and we had a lot of common ground, they clearly didn’t see me as part of that circle and were most happy to spend time without additional people, as they had their insider things that they liked to do together and that they weren’t keen on introducing to anyone else, so I spent most of the time alone. I mostly didn’t mind that, though I often felt that life would be a lot easier in a lot of ways for me at school if I had someone that I could be closer with and with whom we could be best friends for each other, and while I wasn’t desperate for a friendship, the lack thereof contributed to my already strong feelings of inadequacy. There were also two girls that I met online about whom I really liked to think as my best friends, we met in a blind online network that was a thing back then. We had a lot of fun times and one of them introduced me to my first two faza people which she also had fazas on. But we only talked online, and I only had access to the Internet when I was at home, which was only either when there was some school break, or on an occasional weekend, or when I was sick or something so not too often, which doesn’t help with maintaining a relationship. Later on, when I was still deep in my teens, I met my now late friend Jacek from Helsinki which was quite a close yet also very turbulent friendship, but I don’t think it fits in with your stereotypical teenage friendships because I didn’t meet him at school, except on a forum for translators where I shared my Vreeswijk’s translations. 

   As regulars ón here know, I didn’t fall in love, date, or have sex either. Still, for some reason, some girls really liked to come to me for relationship advice. It sometimes felt a little awkward being practically the only one not going out with someone, except for those girls who had some mild intellectual deficits, but I didn’t really have any desire to that just because that was what everyone else was doing, and, more importantly, there was just absolutely no one sufficiently interesting that I could go out with, and just the mere idea felt slightly intimidating. 

   I didn’t go to parties. Well, I did, if I had to, but these were mostly stuff like school balls/proms or people’s birthday parties also held at school, and obviously parties within my family. No teen house parties, discos or clubbing or whatever else people might do. I never had any desire to do that sort of thing either. I hated even the school balls and always dreaded them and did whatever I could to avoid them. 

   I didn’t have much of an interest in make-up, doing my nails and stuff like that. Which I suppose is the typical teenage girl thing because it is very much Sofi’s thing and Sofi is, for the most, very typical of her age group. It just seemed like a lot of hassle to deal with being blind, and I had very little motivation. I became more interested in it once I became a Goth, but it was still rather half-hearted. 

   I was lucky enough that I almost didn’t have acne. I did get some occasional  pimple, especially before Jack the Ripper’s visits whenn he started coming, but for the most part I don’t seem to have a particularly oily skin. My Mum says that it also could be because I usually didn’t pop the pimples unless the more gross-looking or painful ones in more visible locations. 

   I didn’t try to desperately follow my peers in what I did or was interested in. Sometimes like I’ve already said it contributed to me feeling more inadequate, but even so I wasn’t interested in fitting in more. On the other hand though, I also liked not being into everything that happened to be trendy at the moment either worldwide or in my immediate surroundings and having my own taste in things and thinking a bit more independently rather than blending in with the crowd for all costs. Sure, there were things that the majority did that I did as well, it wasn’t like I would reject something just because everyone else did it so I wanted to be different for all means. I just took what I liked from what they did. 

   I didn’t look up to my peers more than my parents and I didn’t have any major generational issues with my parents. If I did, they never led to any huge conflicts or arguments or anything like that. A huge part of that was definitely the fact that I spent most of the time in the boarding school and I really didn’t like it and didn’t want it to have any influence on me, I also missed my Mum a lot so she was the strongest authority figure for me. But also my Mum is a very flexible-minded person so it’s easy to get along with her and make a compromise if needed even if we have different ideas about something, she’s also very loyal so even if my siblings or I did something wrong at school or anywhere else outside of home or were in trouble or something, she would always be on our side rather than, say, the teacher’s or whoever was accusing us, while at the same time acknowledging that what we did was wrong and not being happy about it, but she just thinks that if you’re a parent, you should be in your child’s corner so that they’re not alone even if they did something bad or stupid. She was also always very interested in our lives and we knew we could talkk to her about anything freely if we wanted, unlike what seems to be the case with many teenagers and their parents. In fact, as a teenager, often when I was witnessing a class- or groupmate having some trouble I’d be surprised when they didn’t think of talking about it with their parents first so that they could help, but instead tried to unsuccessfully deal with it on their own or talked to the staff who were often rather biased, or other kids who could often comiserate but not necessarily always help in a real way. I also didn’t understand regular teenagers living with their parents on a daily basis how they could be often so rude to their parents or argue with them all the time or almost not talk with them at all. So whenever I needed some advice, had some questions of vital importance, or decided to let a little bit of that bottled up stuff out, I would most often call my Mum. And I think I must have achieved some school record in calling my family , as from what I could observe, no one did it as often as I did, which was often multiple times during the day. 

   I guess it’s also a common stereotype among people that teenagers really want to become adults so that they can finally do what they want. Well, I didn’t. I always dreaded adulthood, even at preschool age, which I’m pretty sure I’ve already written about here how I had some sort of dream or vision or whatever that was of myself being an adult surrounded by little kids and having totally no idea what I’m supposed to do. If anything, when I was a teenager, I often felt a very strong sense of a sort of emotional/mental weariness, probably due to depression, and I sometimes thought how cool it would be to be a baby again and not have much of an idea about anything. That probably says something about my emotional maturity. 😀 I also often felt really confused when facing various life responsibilities. 

   How about you? 🙂 

Question of the day (13th May).

   Hiya people! 🙂 

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

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

   My answer: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   How about you? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What’s the worst part about puberty? 

   My answer: 

   Neither of these things are directly related to puberty, and they’re problems that I still experience, but I think they fully developed for me when I was around puberty. I think for me that would have to either be the neverending social pressure that I felt, or my constant emotional swings, which were probably all the worse that I kept bottling everything up. Regarding social pressure, I’m talking about all the socialising that you’re expected to do at school, in my case also at the boarding school ‘cause obviously after you go back from school you’re still surrounded by people pretty much all the time, in particular your peers, and you’re expected to act at least more or less like them. Also you’re supposed to make friends with people, which I didn’t really know how exactly it works. I guess I was mostly liked by people in my class and boarding school group and I liked most people as well and got on well with them, I also called a few of them friends if I got along with them better than with the rest, but these were never particularly close or deep friendships. Generally all those people that I considered friends, they were of course friendly with me and all, we’d talk a lot, even have our insider language or stuff like that, but they actually had a wider friends circle that they mostly spent their time with, and I wasn’t really part of that and they clearly didn’t want more people in that circle or at least not full-time, so I was alone most of the time. I generally didn’t mind as I really like being alone and not having to deal with people, I didn’t necessarily feel like I needed someone to be happy or anything like that, I was also used to it by then, but sometimes I did wish I had one proper friend and wondered what that would feel like and whether it would make my life at the boarding school any easier, because people who said they liked it there usually said so because they had friends there and they missed them while being at home on school breaks, which to me was unthinkable. I also had a strong feeling that it really made me stick out in the eyes of our group staff or teachers, and my Mum sometimes said that she was worried about me and that she’d like me to have a “real” friend there. While I could deal with the casual interactions with my peers, anything even slightly beyond that, and especially if involving more than three people at once, felt really straining for my brain, I was never sure what I was actually supposed to do or say and felt totally out of place and really stressed out. Just thinking about it in depth now makes me feel mentally weary and like phew, I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with that anymore, I’ve no clue how I did for so long and it’s little wonder that I ended up being a freak. 😀 

   Where swings are concerned, like I said I think that was something more due to my way of handling emotions and feelings rather than being so extremely hormonal. I remember it was really challenging for me that when I was an adolescent, I could feel quite a lot of really intense emotions in a very short time. The intensity could be quite crushing. On one hand, these were interesting experiences, but on the other, it was difficult to live with, especially if you’re determined to keep everything inside like I was, and I didn’t really have much in terms of a space where I could let some of that out safely and privately. I did keep a diary, but our days at the boarding school were busy, and I was rarely completely alone, so if I wrote in it, it was usually at night, which came at a high cost for my already messed up circadian rhythm and daily functioning, but I felt it was necessary for my sanity to have some time just for myself and I treasured every such minute. 

   Like I said, I still experience both of these things, I still struggle with that kind of peopling and I’m still very moodswingy if a lot is going oon for me, so I don’t really think these challenges were directly to do with puberty, but I don’t think that any of the typical puberty issues was really a significant issue for me. 

   What was the worst part for you? 🙂 

My most cherished childhood memory.

   I thought that I would write another journal prompt-inspired post, this time based on a prompt from a book called 412 Journaling Exercises and Prompts for Personal Growth by Meredith Lane. I’ve actually already sort of used this prompt in my private diary in the past, but thought I’d also write about it on here, and the prompt goes as follows: 

   Describe your most cherished childhood memory. 

   When I was writing about this prompt in my diary, I found it more difficult than I would have thought it could be to think about the one, MOST cherished memory from my childhood. I could think of a lot of happy and pleasant and all sorts of positive moments from my childhood, but it wasn’t like right when I saw this question something would spring to my mind as being the MOST. I of course eventually did come up with something that felt like it could come up this criterion, but I assumed that the fact it took me so long was due to my brain being at fault, because apparently our brains are a lot better at retaining and remembering the yucky stuff that happened to us – provided it’s not so very yucky that the brain would rather get rid of it and suppress it – rather than the good stuff. Before I wrote this post, I decided to ask my Mum about her happy childhood memories. Partly because that’s what I very often do before or during writing posts like this, because we usually end up having long discussions on the topics of my posts and I end up seeing it from an additional angle, but also because I was just curious. My Mum has often told me that she feels like she doesn’t remember a whole lot out of her childhood and has a lot of gaps, and while I don’t think she would call her childhood unhappy and I don’t think one could call it so objectively, most of what she has shared with me about it sounds just a little bit unpleasant to me. The times in which her childhood happened to be – communism – her extreme timidity and anxiousness as a child, and her dad, who in all her stories, especially the ones she told me when I was a child, sounded extremely stern and even a bit scary to me – an ever-looming presence of someone who is physically present most of the time yet hardly speaking to his children at all, and if so, usually to scold or punish them. – It was all the more scary for me that he is so different now as a grandfather, and a better father to his adult children as well, and that extreme difference was unfathomable for me. So when I asked her this, she ended up having the same problem and couldn’t come up with anything specific for a long time. So I asked her whether she thinks it’s because she doesn’t have a lot of happy memories from her childhood. She said that no, it’s probably just that she doesn’t really dwell on her memories so much and has always lived in the moment for the most part, and also that while she has many nice memories from her childhood and remembers it fondly as a whole, she couldn’t really think of anything that would particularly stand out. So I told her that I had the same problem when trying to answer that question in my diary and that it took me a long time to come up with something, to which she reacted with: “Oh, but what sort of childhood you had, it was a nightmare!” Well, I don’t think so at all. I definitely couldn’t call it happy if I were to be truthful, but I think a nightmare would be not only a huge overstatement and taking all the good things for granted. And that was when it dawned on me that the reason why we find it so difficult to think about the best memories from our childhoods is exactly this – that our childhoods weren’t a nightmare. – If they were, it would be easier to think of the few situations that stood out as a lot better than what we’d be used to our life being like as a whole. From what I’ve noticed, people who have gone through extreme poverty, extreme trauma or other major adverse experiences in childhood, often tend to have a handful or even just one memory from their childhood that stands out in their minds as being a lot better than everything else what they’ve been used to. Having a full, warm meal, or someone treating them better than what they’re used to at home, or having a fun outing at school etc. For us, most people these are normal things! Still much appreciated, but absolutely normal. So even though we have many experiences of happy times in our childhood, they naturally don’t stand out so much, because it was normal to have a lot of yummy food, presents for every birthday, playing silly games etc. Etc. Whatever an average kid does. My Mum agreed with me and said that rather than having any particular memories that would stand out very much, when she looks back at her childhood she just collectively remembers all the fun she had with her siblings, the constant presence of her mum at home and how cosy it was, spending time with her best friend etc. Nothing spectacular. It’s quite similar for me, and I wonder how it is for you. 

   Nevertheless, as I said, I did manage to come up with a memory, well, a few memories, that I guess kind of do stand out, or at least based on some things I’ve later experienced and little cues I’ve had in relation to them I believe that they must really stand out for my subconscious for some reason, and in this post, I’ll reminisce a bit about them. 

   They are memories of  the few times when I got to ride home from school in my Dad’s tanker lorry. That was not something that happened often or regularly,  because  generally tanker drivers are not supposed to have passengers, unless it’s a fellow driver and they work shifts. Or at least that’s the case with delivering fuel which is what my Dad does. Officially, anyone who is to ride a tanker has to go through some kind of training so that they’ll know what to do should there be an explosion or something. However, the hours and days of my Dad’s work were always rather unpredictable, and he couldn’t always organise it so that he’d be off work to pick me up from school together with Mum the, hm, conventional way. Especially if something unexpected came up like I was sick or whatever. And Mum was back then too chicken to drive four hours to my school and back on her own. So what they’d sometimes do was they’d take me from school a bit earlier when it fit Dad. Or other times Mum would ask someone from our extended family to go with her and drive, and people often very kindly did it. But there were a couple times when the most viable option was for Dad to take me in the lorry, when he happened to be working somewhere in the area or driving nearby anyway and could logistically squeeze in picking me up. I also think that the restrictions around that must have been a bit different when I was a young child, or perhaps for some reason there was a difference between how different companies where he worked handled it, because when Olek and me were little it would happen slightly more often that he would take us and/or Mum for rides when he had to go somewhere nearby and one time he even took Mum and Olek for quite a long trip. 

   I don’t remember now how many times exactly I rode with him from school in the lorry, maybe three or four, but each time it happened I remember being extremely excited and euphoric about it. In my mind, it had a whole lot of pros to it, though I’m pretty sure that if I had to ride back to school with him in the lorry, I wouldn’t have quite so exciting memories from it, as that would likely mean that we wouldn’t even be able to say goodbye to each other properly and he wouldn’t be able to stay there at all and would have to leave right away. As it was, it was absolutely thrilling. It was usually something that was organised last minute so was a total surprise for me, and while I generally am not a fan of surprises, I was always happy to hear about one like this. Most of the time, particularly if you left school for some official holiday break rather than for a weekend or some personal reasons, the whole procedure of leaving could take really long and I really didn’t like it. Sometimes there were parent-teacher meetings, or parent-group staff meetings or other stuff like that, sometimes if it was something like the end of school year or Christmas break or something like that there would be a school play, and loads of talking and peopling and what not. Especially that my Mum often did feel the need to talk with my staff or teachers a lot, even without a special opportunity, and it was very much mutual because most people really like my Mum and could talk for hours with her. But if I left with my Dad in his lorry, it didn’t matter if it was the end of a school year or whatever, my Dad had a schedule that he had to stick to, so I had to pack in advance, he would usually inform everyone, including myself, at very short notice that he’s going to pick me up and I was to be waiting for him and as soon as he arrived we’d leave. Even if he didn’t have to count his minutes at work, he values his time very much and is a rather impatient person, and he doesn’t have the gift of the gab like my Mum does, nor the gift to listen. And it was just so unusual. No other kid, at least of those that I knew, had a dad who would pick them up in a lorry. So I felt super proud. 

   The first time it happened, I was in the nursery/preschool/whatever you’d call it, so I could have been around six or seven (yes, that blind nursery worked a bit differently and children there were older than you’d normally expect in a nursery, otherwise you’d have to send three-year-olds to a boarding school 😀 ). I believe I had to have an endocrinologist’s appointment and the easier way for my parents to organise transportation home for me was for Dad to pick me up in the lorry on his way back from work, so he didn’t have any fuel in there anymore, as he was meant to go through Warsaw anyway and my school was near Warsaw. He was only able to do this at night though, so I was to wait for him to come. I was usually excited at the mere thought of going home, but being able to stay up very late (which was something I was very much used to doing at home but not really able to do at preschool) and then drive through half of the country in the middle of the night had me properly thrilled. As a kid, I really loved riding long distances, learning about names of different towns and villages, the funnier the better, and, most of all, finding out what different radio stations were out there in different parts of the country. I remember that it all felt very unusual, when I was allowed to stay up, even after our regular staff left and the nightshift lady came  and all the other children fell asleep. I was quietly playing on my bed, with all my bags already packed, and listening to something on headphones and the wait felt really long, but at some point the nightshift lady came in and told me that my Dad had arrived. To my surprise, there was also some other guy there who turned out to be his colleague whom I didn’t know before, and I got a feeling that he ended up really liking me. I also remember that he gave me loads of oranges along the way and kept asking me if I wasn’t sleepy, as I suppose he found that weird that a kid my age wouldn’t be at such time. My Dad was driving, his colleague was sitting in the passenger seat, and I was on the bed. I kept chatting to them about all sorts of things that happened to me at school and whatever my weird Bibiel brain made up and they were laughing. At some point Dad told me that he had a surprise for me and gave me a chocolate bar called Jacek, this is a Polish chocolate bar which I believe is no longer even produced, but as far as I remember it was a type of nougat-flavoured bar. That was the first time I had it and before that I didn’t even know that  such a chocolate bar called Jacek existed and after that I only had it twice. Anyway, those of you who know about my Jackophilia can probably imagine that my euphoria was sky high at that point. I was all like: “WOw, world, people, hear me! There’s a chocolate bar called Jacek, have you ever heard anything more interesting than this?!” At some point though I guess I did end up feeling sleepy ‘cause the next thing I remember my Dad’s colleague had magically disappeared and we were quite close to home. We arrived very early in the morning and Mum was still asleep. Dad told me that it’s a surprise for Mum and that she doesn’t know I’m coming, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t the case but he just wanted to make it fun or something. So he went to load our furnace and told me to ring the doorbell so that Mum would think I came home by myself, and initially she was indeed quite surprised to see me there. 

   The second time I don’t really remember much about, other than I rode with my Dad alone and I think I was in primary by then and I sat next to him for some part of the journey and we were listening to Radio Bis. One incident from that journey that I remember clearly was that at some point the police were checking Dad’s car and I had to hide under blankets and duvets so that they wouldn’t see me. I found that extremely exciting and fun, far more than my Dad for sure, and I remember that it reminded me of how my gran told me that her siblings hid her in some sort of a container full of potatoes during WWII when she was four so that a German soldier wouldn’t see her and when they ended up not seeing me I felt like some sort of great hero. 

   The third time happened much later, I think when I was in my early teens. I remember I was having a properly rotten time at school in all sorts of ways for several weeks as well as a lot of anxiety and when I was coming back to the boarding part, or  however it’s called in English, after classes, and was thinking how could it would be if my Mum could make me a surprise and visit me this weekend or something. Well, then I had lunch, went to my room and was about to start doing my homework but looked at my phone before that and saw that I had several missed calls from Mum. When I called back she said that she and Dad are in his lorry and that I should pack my most essential things because they’d be for me shortly and take me home for the weekend. For a while I really couldn’t believe it. But they did come and I went home with them, despite there wasn’t really such need as there weren’t any holidays approaching and I didn’t have any pressing reason to come home like a medical appointment or something. That trip home was a bit less unusual and surreal because there was Mum, but still, I really enjoyed it as a whole. 

   And the last time that I remember riding back from school in Dad’s lorry was almmost at the end of my stay in that school, I guess I could be around sixteen or something. I can’t remember what was exactly the reason for that, but it had to be something important because I stayed home for a really long time. It was March-April time so it could be Easter, but our Easter breaks weren’t normally particularly long so perhaps I got sick or something, but I don’t remember getting sick during that break and I certainly wasn’t sick with anything when going home. I just remember that, again, I was having a really shitty day at school, though I don’t remember why exactly. I only know that there was some goalball tournament going on  that day or other sport event (goalball is a team sport for the blind) which I didn’t take part in myself but everyone was watching it anyway, and I was quite bored and it was dragging on for ages, and I was making use of all that time by ruminating on whatever shitty stuff was going on. Then I come back and go with my life as normal and at some point when I was in my room talking to my roommate my Dad called me. It was rather unusual for him to call me on his own accord because it was me who had free unlimited calling time set up with him so me calling him paid off more, and we rarely talked in the middle of the day like that unless I was either really bored or had some difficult Geography assignment. So I answered, a little surprised, and he said he’s going to be here literally in five minutes so I better get ready. I was absolutely euphoric. I went to one of our group staff to share the good news and asked her to help me pack but she wouldn’t even believe me. 😀 But I somehow managed to convince her that I was not making it up so she helped me and as soon as I was packed, my Dad was waiting downstairs. AFter the boring and extremely understimulating morning at school, now I was all super giddy and jittery and extremely happy. I could sit next to my Dad high up in the lorry and we chatted about all sorts of stuff. It was already after our relationship has started gradually straining more and more so we weren’t getting along anymore as well as we did when I was younger, but we could still chat about a lot of stuff and still can despite the strain and stuff. I was at first a bit stressed when he told me that we’ll actually need to sleep in the lorry overnight, as I didn’t know how I’d manage with stuff like showering and the like, but in the end I decided, oh well, I don’t even have to do it, I’ll shower when I’ll get home. I would much rather go home straight away than sleep in the car and wait SO long to get to my beautiful little Bibiel room, but in a way sleeping there was also kind of exciting. Dad slept on the passenger’s seat and left his bed for me. But while his sleeping conditions were probably even less enviable, at least he was sleeping, because I guess my Dad can fall asleep anywhere if he’s sufficiently tired. I meanwhile, couldn’t sleep almost at all. I kept wondering how anyone can manage to sleep on such narrow, small bed, if I, being fairly small and thin myself, felt like I was being squeezed between the bed and the ceiling and could barely move comfortably. I wondered how my Dad’s current shift colleague, who is quite obese, can get in and out of here and doesn’t get stuck. All sorts of vehicles were either driving past us, or standing near us with their engines running and once in a while people would be yelling something to each other. And, of course, my Dad was snoring, as if he was competing with all those engines or something. I’ve always liked some background noise while sleeping, but perhaps not SO much. I was also stilll fulll of beans and excitement. So rather than sleeping, I was reading Emily of New Moon, or just thinking about all sorts of things and generally feeling quite happy about life at that very moment. I think I did eventually get some sleep but felt very zombified when Dad woke me up. Which, with help of a few coffees, didn’t last long. (Gosh, I wish I could still have a few coffees in the morning and feel normal afterwards, I miss coffee so much!) We had some quick breakfast and then drove homeward, but first Dad had to tank a barge (it’s entirely possible that I’m using wrong English words here in relation to the whole fuel delivery stuff btw, I’m clueless about it even in Polish). So once we got there, he took me inside of it, and I got to wait for him in a room while he was filling it up and what not. I had my Braille-Sense with me and was reading something on it, and one guy who was working on the barge came over and started chatting to me and wanted to know what this thing was and how it worked, so I kindly explained to him the workings of a Braille-Sense for like half an hour, surprised that he has so much time on his hands at work, and ever so slightly annoyed that he won’t leave me alone to read in peace. He seemed quite impressed though. And then when my Dad was done we drove to where Mum was supposed to pick us up and she picked us up and we rode home. 

   I also rode many more times in my Dad’s various lorries for much shorter distances, but still long enough to feel thrilling. Now however I haven’t done it in years, despite he sometimes asks me, I guess just for the sake of asking, whether I’d like to, when it’s possible for him to do so. But I never do it, as we no longer really have the sort of relationship we had when I was a small kid. Things have changed a lot, and both of us have changed a lot, and the prospect of it no longer feels exciting at all. 

   When thinking about home rides from school with my Dad, however, one more thing always springs to my mind, despite it has nothing to do with lorries, but is a nearly equally pleasant memory. Namely, there was one such time in our family history when my Dad came to take me home from school by train. Unfortunately I no longer remember why exactly he had to do it by train, why not by car. Perhaps it was broken or something? What I do know is that my Mum had to have kidney stones removed and was in hospital, and that was why she, or they both, couldn’t take me home. That was a year before Sofi was born so I must have been nine years old. Ironically, it was Mother’s Day, and our boarding school group staff was planning some sort of meeting with parents and some sort of Mother’s Day celebration I suppose as well. I knew about it in advance that my Dad would come for me on his own and I found the whole idea hilarious that he would be sitting there in a chair, eating cake (he hates cakes and almost everything sweet), watching some sort of Mummy’s Day play and listening to ALL the stuff our boarding school staff had to say, when normally he could barely keep track of in which grades me and Olek were and how old we were and stuff. 😀 Also the idea of my Dad picking me up on his own by train and me coming back home with him by train felt absolutely weird and kind of funny, as I’d always only seen him as the driver, the one who is in charge of things, and you’re hardly in charge of things on a train. So he came, and I’m pretty sure that his patience was put to a great test, because, at least as far as I can tell, that whole meeting thing was really long. Until the last minute, I – who, as you already know, also don’t like such long-winded stuff – was hoping for his temper to break and for him to have a mini meltdown like he often does when Mum’s around and sulkily grumpily leave with me because he ain’t got all day or at least hastily explain to someone that he has to go to be in time for his train, but no. He sat there like a proper daddy, or should we rather say mummy, perfectly calm and collected. I was really relieved when we finally got to go, and I’m sure so was he. The journey wasn’t as very exciting as all the lorry ones, but it was really fun nonetheless. I just remember feeling very excited and happy about it and that I could travel by train with Dad, but no clearer details really. The only thing I remember more clearly was that at some point there was a guy going round selling light beer and I asked my Dad if light beer is anything different than just beer and if not than why call it light beer, and we ended up having a whole discussion about beers, not just light beer, and how different beers are called, and then for some weird reasons we went on to cheeses and their names, but I have no recollection of how the transition from beers to cheeses took place. 😀 Sadly, Dad was not able to provide me much information on what the differences between all them cheeses were in taste. 

   So that’s it, these are my most cherished childhood memories, at least those that I remember and that came to my mind first. 

   How about yours? Do you have any that stand out, or is it also difficult for you to come up with anything? Do you agree with my theory that people with more or less normal or at least not extremely traumatic childhoods have less of an ability or perhaps need to cherish good childhood memories because they have loads of them compared with people with very traumatising childhoods? Would love to hear thoughts, and memories. 🙂 

Five physical features that I like about myself.

   A while ago, I wrote a post inspired by a journalling prompt in the 200+ Journal Prompts Ideas for the Mind, Body and Soul book by Riley Reigns about (almost) ten things I’m really good at and today I thought I’d do another not just oh-so-self-centred but also oh-so-vain post based on a prompt from this book, which goes as follows: 

   What are 5 physical features that you love about yourself

   That previous post was fiendishly difficult for me to write, even with the help of my family, and I suppose this one is going to be quite challenging as well. While I don’t consider myself unattractive, I also donn’t think I have such physical traits that I would as much as LOVE. So instead, I’ll focus on those that I like, and we’ll see if I can come up with five. As I do usually with lists like these, instead of just listing stuff, which would be boring, uninventive and ridiculously short, I’ll try to expand on all of these as much or as little as I see fit. 

  1.  My hair. I quite like my hair, specifically how thick, soft and strong it is. Most of people in my family have very thick and fast-growing hair, except for my Dad. I like that it’s very healthy, looks good and people usually compliment me on my hair, and you can do a lot with it if you want. Even when I was younger and my hypothyroidism (which I’ve had as a result of congenital hypopituitarism) was difficult to control which made my hair fall out like crazy, it still didn’t show and it didn’t look like my hair was thinning so my Mum kept saying that it’s probably for the better that I lose so much of it because God knows what would happen if I didn’t. Now I don’t lose quite as much of it and no disaster has happened so far, thankfully. As a young child, I had reeeeal long hair, which I generally really liked, and I liked the added bonus of being able to hide behind it if I didn’t want people to stare at me or something. But long hair is loads of hassle, so even though I still love the idea in theory, in practice it’s a different kettle of fish. Thick hair can be quite a lot of trouble if, like me, you don’t do a whole lot with your hair. It grows really quickly, so I have to have a haircut once a month or sometimes more often, and I hate having my hair cut and everything to do with it, I generally hate people messing with my hair and I totally don’t get how it can be relaxing for some people. :O Because it’s so thhick, haircuts and other hairdressing maintenance and stuff takes longer than with average-thick hair. Actually recently one hairdresser told me that she never had to do with more difficult hair than mine. Though my Mum said that probably means she just hasn’t had much experience in general. Even with my short-ish hairstyle (currently it’s with a strong emphasis on the -ish part ‘cause I haven’t had it cut in over a month and of course it also depends on a specific hairstyle I’m having at a given time, but usually my hair-length oscillates somewhere within the short-ish spectrum these days) I sometimes simply don’t have enough either physical energy or brainergy to wash my hair and do stuff with it, the more that when you have frequent migraines, playing around with your hair feels even more annoying while you’re migraine-y, and even though I most of the time don’t need to worry overly about hairstyles anymore, like I said I still have to have it cut more or less regularly. I’mm also not overly thrilled about its colour, which is kind of mousey and just not all that exciting. Someone once told me that it would be super cool if I died my black hair, and so that was what I promptly did, the more that my Gothic interests started to emerge. I liked it, and I got a lot of positive feedback from people. What irked me though was the fact that it was difficult to find black/deep dark brown dyes that wouldn’t have a reddish shade to it, which I didn’t like the idea of and which apparently didn’t make the effect so good either. So eventually, as my Celtic interests started to grow, I decided that if I have to have some red in my hair, I’d much rather be a full-blown redhead than a reddish brunette or something like that, and so I was happily a redhead for a while, which I also got a lot of positive feedback on and I don’t even know which I liked more, having properly black or red hair. However, we’ve already established that my hair grows like crazy, and when I did all those experiments I was still going to the boarding school, so I could only dye my hair (or rather my Mum did for me to be specific) when I was at home, and I was at home on average once a month, so my roots would start to show quickly. Also, since I don’t like people playing with my hair, I dreaded the procedure itself. Then the second in my life major depressive episode hit me and I just stopped bothering with it, and have never bothered with it since anymore. 
  2. My eyelashes. As much as I don’t like my eyebrows and would like them to be at least a bit thicker and a bit darker, I do quite like my eyelashes. I don’t know if there’s some big reason why. I just do. They’re cool, and it’s considered a good thing  to have thick eyelashes it seems. It looks like you’re dreamy, and I am dreamy, so that happens to be pretty accurate. And, for what it’s worth, I remember that my late friend Jacek from Helsinki told me once that apparently it’s the most striking physical part of me, whatever he meant, but I guess he meant it as a positive thing or otherwise he probably wouldn’t have said that. I only don’t like them when they get inside my eyes and I can’t get them out. 😀 
  3. My fingers. I have long fingers, and I think that’s more practical than to have short fingers, and for some reason I generally like long fingers in humans. Ever since Sofi was born, I’ve loved her fingers to pieces. I also really liked to play with my Dad’s fingers when I was a kid, I even still do sometimes. I remember once sitting in the living room with Dad as he was watching the telly, and overhearing Mum talking to someone how “Jacek has such shapeless fingers” This was weird because it’s not something my Mum would tell like that to someone else, even if she thought so. My Dad did indeed have an accident as a teenager that affected his hand and fingers. He was grinding food for ducks and accidentally put his hand into the machine as it was working. He ended up with 34 stitches in his hand and had it in some sort of a cast or something for a year. It’s apparently some sort of miracle that he can actually use it, let alone that he’s still as marvellously dexterous as he is. One of his fingers is kind of crooked and there is still some scarring and marks from the stitches visible and palpable, nonetheless, I would never call his fingers shapeless. In fact, I think they’re very shapely and strong. And so, whether that was something that my Mum actually said or something my mind made up, I felt really indignant and sad and concerned that he might have heard it too, so I just started playing with them and that’s what I did ever since whenever we sat together. My fingers are definitely not as strong and as big as his, which I’m perfectly okay with being a woman, haha, in fact they’re very small and soft and people tell me all the time that I have baby hands, which is a bit weird but oh well okay. 😀 My fingers are also nowhere near as dexterous as my Dad’s, but that’s definitely not the fault of my fingers as such, rather, it’s my brain and coordination that is to blame. 
  4. My figure. Well… I have very mixed feelings about this. I’m thin and curvy, with large breasts, defined waist and wide hips. Apparently, it’s the “ideal” shape of a female body but I’m not sure what exactly ideal means in this context and for whom it’s so ideal. 😀 On one hand, as a female, I do like looking decidedly feminine, and I like being thin. But other than that, I don’t really like my boobs. I don’t think they need to be THIS huge to still make me fit into the “ideal” category, but I can’t do anything about it because coincidentally, I also happen to have mild pectus excavatum (a chest deformity) which from what I’ve heard would make mammoplasty complicated. The more that apparently the combo of pectus excavatum plus large boobs is uncommon, as pectus excavatum much more often co-occurs with boobs that are too small. As it is, I think it’s quite unhealthy, given that I tend to be either underweight or close to it, as sometimes it feels like my weight consists mainly of my bust. 😀 It’s not practical either, bra shopping is a nightmare. But overall, I guess I could have been in a much worse situation, and I’d rather have a lot of boobs than for example be overweight so that there would be a lot of me in general. 
  5. My skin. Aside from that it can get dry and itchy in winter, I generally feel very lucky in this regard and grateful about my skin being so easy to maintain, though I guess it’s only now that I’m writing this that I’m fully realising it. 😀 I”ve always liked my light complexion, especially when I was a Goth but I still do, unless I don’t have proper sunscreen when it’s needed and go red in the sunlight. Generally, I have a very soft skin without having to do much about it, even when it’s actually always more on the dry side, so no huge skincare routines here, I only sometimes need to moisturise it or have an occasional face peeling. Even when my thyroid was bad, I didn’t have most of the classic manifestations of hypothyroidism that a lot of people with this condition talk about and seem to struggle with a lot. On the other hand, I’ve never had bad acne either, despite it has plagued Sofi very badly, and my Mum struggled with it a lot too. I’ll get an odd pimple when Jack the Ripper (period) is about to arrive but nothing dramatic, though perhaps a part of why it never gets dramatic is that I never pop pimples because I think it is more gross than actually having them, though I can understand it must be different for sighted people. Apparently if your skin has more of a tendency to dryness and not much acne you could get wrinkles earlier than people who get a lot of acne, but I don’t think I mind that very much, I guess wrinkles are less problematic than acne and at least stranger people will no longer automatically assume I’m Sofi’s peer lol. The only thing that I definitely don’t like about my skin is the amount of moles I have, which is surely genetic as both my Mum and my gran on Dad’s side also do. When I was little my Dad used to say they’re “beauty spots” but I totally don’t get that and would get rid of them all if there weren’t any potential complications of that. I just hope I wonn’t get hair growing on them like my  gran. 😀 

WOW, I did it! Go Bibiel!!! But I’m pretty sure that if it would be six, I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything else. And if I did it, so can you! 

   So, what are your five things? Or feel free to name more, if you wish. 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What food do you consider disgusting? 

   My answer: 

   Semolina, hands down! I hate, hate, hate the texture, it has always reminded me of yucky vomit, even before my emetophobia has exacerbated properly. Also it’s so insanely bland. You can add what you want to it, and it’ll always taste the same, semolin-y way, aka not taste at all. I remember when Olek was little and we still lived in our first house so all of our family shared one, huge room, and Olek wouldn’t fall asleep without a bottle of semolina with milk, and then he needed another one very early in the morning to keep him asleep for a couple more hours or otherwise he’d threaten that he’s gonna be “died of hunger” (I don’t know how to best put it in English to capture it but he said it in a very funny way grammatically and we laugh at it to this day whenever he’s hungry 😀 ). Once he’d have his bottle, he’d suck at it and guzzle clearly very happily. Sometimes, or especially when he was older, and occasionally even now though he’s 23 and having his own business and all that, Mum would make him semolina with milk and berries for breakfast, just like people have cereal or noodles with milk. I rarely hear about people, or babies, for that matter, in Anglophone countries eating semolina but in case it’s not a common or normal thing where you are, it definitely is here. Sofi also guzzled her semolina as a baby, and I loved feeding her with her bottle, but I hated whenever any of the semolina would accidentally spill out, I just have such strong aversion to it now that even just feeling it, without tasting it, is gross. As a kid I often had a problem going to sleep at the time when my parents would normally expect me to, and I’d keep Olek awake and make him laugh and do all sorts of mischief with him or argue with him, and sometimes Mum would threaten me, more jokingly than for real, that she’ll make me a bottle of semolina too to keep me quiet. 😀 Then I went to school and it turned out that semolina was a fairly regular thing there. I still vividly remember the first time I got chicken soup with semolina for lunch at nursery, which was a total novelty for me, I’d never have thought you could make chicken soup with semolina. I really like chicken soup, but that stuff was just… ewww! It didn’t even really taste all that much like chicken soup, just pretty flavourless broth full of this vomit thing and bits of vegetables that were so small that you could just think they didn’t get enough time to get digested properly. 😀 And I just couldn’t eat it, and the sister who was on a shift in our nursery group then had a very hard time understanding it. Probably because there were no other children, at least as far as I’m aware, who’d have a problem with foods like that. If anything, some were the opposite and preferred liquid or semi-liquid or very soft foods to anything more chewy or crispy because their parents hadn’t previously introduced solid foods to them, fearing that they won’t be able to teach a blind child, especially if with coexisting disabilities, how to bite and they might choke. So she insisted that I have to eat it all, no matter how long it takes me. I did sit with that bowl of vomit for hours, but eventually she just gave up, seeing that it wasn’t very likely that I’d ever eat it whole, and probably figured out that it’s really beyond the scope of my possibilities and she finally let me move on to the main course instead. When I later told my Mum about our amazing lunch on the phone, she was surprised too, to hear about chicken soup with semolina, and although she has no problem with semolina herself, she said that this combination really must have been yuck, so I felt kind of validated. This sister never forced me to eat semolina again, but this soup was a recurrent item in our menu throughout the nursery, and then later when I moved on to the actual school, because it was the girls’ boarding school kitchen that also cooked for the nursery so our lunch food stayed the same. And of course we had to do with a lot of different staff, and none of them could understand that I just had a problem with semolina. While they of course preferred if we ate everything, most were flexible enough to understand that some people might not like such controversial things like some specific vegetables, or liver, or a type of sausage that’s like a Polish version of black pudding, which would also sometimes appear and which many people didn’t like. But semolina?! In some cases, you could just say that you feel awful after eating something, but you can’t do that with semolina, after all, it’s given to people who have tummy problems, are after a stomach surgery or a stomach bug or whatever. Speaking of tummy problems, I had a stomach bug at school a couple times and ended up in the infirmary, or as they literally called it “little hospital”. ANd the first day or two they’d always give me semolina for lunch, except it wasn’t even a broth, just a watery sort of soup, and all the nurses were very upset that I wouldn’t eat it at all and wondered why I was still so sick. Finally at some point I asked them if I could have something, anything, other than that, but they said unfortunately not at this point. Also, one of the staff in my boarding school group introduced to us a cake made of digestive biscuits layered with semolina. She liked it because according to her it was tasty, plus very easy and quick to make and low budget, so we could often make it for our birthdays. I couldn’t understand why would someone want to have semolina even in a cake. Semolina tastes even worse when it’s cold. I did have to make it a few times for my birthday though, which felt a little weird since I guess normally you’re supposed to make what you like on your birthday, but I’ve never was one to make a big deal of birthdays anyway, so I didn’t care overly and just made it for others and didn’t eat it myself. My Mum was also surprised when I told her about it and said it must be quite bland. So yeah, I really like all the other grains that I’ve tried, but semolina’s absolutely disgusting. 

   What’s such a thing for you? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What’s going on in your life right now? 

   My answer: 

   Not much really I guess. LIke I said in my last question of the day post, I’ve been feeling under-sleeped lately so I’m sleeping a lot, having loads of dreams. 

   I’ve been having my MacBook for over two months and have gotten used to most basic stuff by now, but I’m still learning and figuring out some slightly less basic things. I really like this system overall, but it really pisses me how it’s filled with bugs related to its built-in VoiceOver system. I’ve known that it’s common for Apple to leave accessibility bugs unaddressed for years despite people repeatedly reporting them, but on Mac OS it seems particularly glaring, especially when you want to use it with a Braille display. I no longer even try. 😀 I’ll also miss some things from Windows once I give my PC to Sofi for good, like being able to easily strip DRM from Kindle and other DRM-protected books so I can read them on my good ol’ PlexTalk, which is way comfier than on a phone or computer. I know there’s Calibre and it’s multi-platform, but on Mac it’s either not accessible or you have to do some weird acrobatics to make it somewhat accessible for yourself which I don’t feel I’m competent enough to do as it sounds scarily complicated. I’ll still of course be able to pop to Sofi when I’ll need to engage in such “illegal” activities, but it would be way nicer for both of us if I could do it on the Mac, in a feasible way. But oh well, not many alternatives to choose from here. 

   Oh, and remember when I wrote about Sofi possibly having Marfan syndrome? Well, so she had a genetic testing appointment yesterday, was really long, and finally we know that she does not have it. The geneticist said she, and we in general as family, do indeed tick quite a bunch of criteria but Sofi doesn’t actually have it, and her ECG was okay. It was all very unpleasant for Sofi, no one of us had ever to do with genetic testing before, so when she asked what it would be like we were saying perhaps she’ll have a blood or saliva test or something like that, and she wasn’t quite prepared that it was going to be as long as it was. Also the doctor was  male, and she had to take off her clothes of course and she’s extremely uncomfortable with things like that. Then, according to Mum, there was another doctor involved, some elderly lady, who kept saying how Sofi’s SO tall, as if Sofi was some sort of an alien. For flip’s sake, she’s just 180 cm, is that really so rare? My Mum told her that people are taller now than they were in, like, the fifties, and it’s no tragedy – quite the opposite, she’s tall and slim so could be a model or something – and it’s only natural that she is tall if both of her parents are. She told her that Olek is even taller and she couldn’t get over that either. Mum wanted to give her a whole lecture but had to suffice with that because Sofi was there. Yet she kept saying how tall Sofi is. She probably didn’t mean to say that it’s something bad that Sofi is tall, but perhaps for some weird reason she found it unusual and it must have been super awkward for poor Sofi to have herself reduced to her height and hear it talked about for so long as if there was nothing more interesting about her. It’s really a bit weird how people react to tall people. When I was at school I also remember people always oohing and aahing about how my Mum is tall. They meant it as a compliment, but, people, please, it’s so awkward when you say something obvious like this over and over again. For some people in my school even I was tall though, when I’m only 168 cm and, ironically, had to take growth hormone. 😀 Actually, why don’t people go around telling other people stuff like: “Wowww, you’re such a very short girl!” Is short objectively less attractive so it shouldn’t be mentioned that someone is short? Even if it were, both are equally obvious things to say, surely embarrassing for the person on the receiving end of such sophisticated compliments and to me it feels kind of rude. I feel lucky that I’m not actually SO tall as Sofi. I’d feel confused: should I thank the person as if they were telling me a compliment? It would feel as if I was thanking them for making me realise this fact, and thus make me seem even more daft than the person making such a bright observation about me. Also it’s not even my own merit or anything so thanking the individual seems odd. Yet if I said “Yes, I know” they’d probably think I’m cocky. Not to mention that hearing such things would no doubt fire up my AVPD. Good thing that Sofi doesn’t have anything like that.

   Mum said that Sofi seemed rather dejected afterwards. She’s very sensitive when it comes to her appearance and always takes great care to look great, you could probably say that she’s a bit vain, so it probably hit her self-esteem hard anyway, no AVPD required. I didn’t get to talk to Sofi much yesterday though, so we didn’t talk about that stuff yet. In any case, it’s good that she doesn’t have the “morphine” as we call it. It’s still to me that she has so many aches and pains then but maybe indeed they’re growing pains. One might wonder though how long she’s going to grow yet. 

   Your turn. 🙂 

How I think other people would describe me.

I thought I’d do some journaling prompt-based post, and I chose the following prompt from Hannah Braime’s The Year Of You:

How do you think other people would describe you if asked?

Before I get into the actual topic, I’d like to brag about the fact that last week I got my MacBook Air, and that’s what I’m writing to you from currently, and this is my first post from it. I wrote in one of the recent coffee shares that I’d been thinking about getting one, but planned it for some more or less distant future. Well, to keep it short, let’s just say that all sorts of different circumstances contributed to me making the purchase a lot earlier than I thought. Now, in the space of… wait a minute, how long have I had my iPhone for?… not even two years… so, in the space of less than two years I’ve acquired a total of THREE Apple products!… :O Me! 😀 Who would have thought… But, as you can surely imagine, I’m still learning and still mostly relying on my Windows computer. I’m not rushing with it really. A lot of things in the Mac world still feel super weird or totally mysterious to me. I don’t know what the end result will be and I also have to take into account the possibility that I end up not getting used to it quite as well as I hope I will and will not be able to rely on it as my primary computer, I know a handful of blind people for whom it hasn’t really worked out that well, and that was the main reason why I originally planned to wait with the purchase. But I’m going to give myself even as much as half a year to see how I get into it. I’ll let you know if I can finish this post successfully from here or if I’ll switch to Windows midway. Now, let’s get to the oh so self-centred topic of this post.

I wrote on the same prompt in my personal diary a couple months ago and said there that I think it’s quite interesting that it seems that various people would probably describe me in ways that would differ from each other quite a lot. I know (well, at least to some degree) what the reasons behind that are, but I can’t help wondering if part of it could perhaps be due to me being somehow two-faced or just not genuine at all. I think it’s really hard to say as there are many aspects involved in this. Before I thought about  writing a post on this, I decided to actually talk to my Mum about it, mostly because, despite she is one of the people I’m closest with, if not *the* closest to me, I had trouble thinking of the things she could say to describe me, so I thought I’d simply ask her about it and, quite as I expected, received a full report in response that didn’t include only my Mum’s own view of me but also she mentioned that she thought I would probably get a different description of myself depending on whom I’d ask. 😀

Mostly though, I think someone who doesn’t know me very well would usually describe me as shy, quiet (I absolutely hate when someone calls me “quiet”, you should spend a freaking minute in my brain if you think I am 😀 ). Many of those people seem to think I’m not particularly smart and rather plain and uninteresting and don’t really have an idea about much of anything because I don’t have a lot to say, or that I’m very apathetic because I don’t seem to react to anything very much and don’t seem to have any deeper feelings. When I sometimes do spontaneously and usually more or less accidentally reveal something about myself to them that they don’t know, or if someone else does, they’re usually quite shocked.

Then there are also people who don’t know me well who think I am very outgoing, talkative, eloquent, smart and humourous, ‘Ive even heard  stuff like charismatic. That’s usually when such an individual met me one-on-one which situation I often find easier to interact with people in, plus probably in a setting that I was comfortable with, like, dunno, talking about Misha, and when I’m generally doing quite well socially, which sometimes seems to be rather random I guess. We’ve had quite a handful of such situations where I’d talk with someone and then later they’d be raving about me to someone in my family how delightfully outgoing I am and my family would be like: “What?!” 😀 Or such person would then see me in a different situation, where there are perhaps more people or which is more challenging socially for me for some reason, and they’d see the version of me that I mentioned earlier, and they’d be like: “Ohhh, what’s wrong with Bibiel?” Unfortunately I can’t always control that. Like, as some of you might remember, I had an autism evaluation some three years ago. That was the second one I had in my life, because I had one earlier at school as a kid, but back then the circumstances were rather yucky, I wasn’t really informed about things properly and I really didn’t want having that diagnosis so I did all I could to avoid being classified as autistic, whereas that second time I was open to it being a possibility and thought that if it was indeed the case, having a diagnosis could help me a bit, if only with explaining some things to people, and my Mum was pretty much sure that I actually must be autistic. Except when I came to that evaluating place, my “delightfully outgoing” persona kicked in, despite I was actually feeling terribly anxious, and they decided that I am most definitely not autistic at all. 😀 While I decided to keep it that way, because I figured they’re the experts so they should know, after all, if I really had it, they should be able to tell it anyway I guess, and I wouldn’t want to go through yet another evaluation, we sometimes wonder if they’d say the same thing if they could see me in some real life situations.

Then there are peeps who simply think I am an icy, indifferent person, and I guess they tend to get the impression  I’m very nerdy or something., or that’s what I’ve been told When I was a teen I’ve heard that some people are intimidated by my iciness/unfeeling-ness, which idea I actually liked, haha, though that totally wasn’t the reason why I acted this way. I now try to do that less, more for my own sake than other people’s, but around people I feel very insecure around it is really difficult not to, after getting my brain used to handling situations this way.

But let’s talk about people who actually know me somewhat more, that is my family.

My Dad, I’m actually very curious how he would describe me if someone asked him, but I wouldn’t ask him that myself as he’s not the type of person my Mum is and would surely find something like this difficult and pressuring rather than fun. But I think he would say something like that I’m funny, know a lot of weird things, like where random people’s surnames might come from (for some reason he often asks me that sort of thing like when he hears some weird surname on the TV he’ll ask me where it comes from, and I will often not know because I feel a lot more competent when it comes to given names’ etymology rather than surnames,  but sometimes I do know or can at least try to guess something and he finds that interesting and always wants to know how I know that sort of thing). He’d probably also say that I’m weird, but not because I am actually weird, rather because there’s a lot of things that my Dad considers weird or downright crazy. For example, extensive use of one’s imagination without an actual need for it like creating something practically useful, or talking to yourself (that’s mental, after all), or talking to a cat as if he were a human, or saying that you’re “reading” a book, even though you’re listening to it. Actually, his phrase for this kind of weirdness is that someone “has films”, which is odd, because in real Polish language “to have films” means to have hallucinations, after drugs usually, but for my Dad it means to have weird, unreasonable behaviours. My Mum constantly “has films” too. Because my Dad is the kind of person for whom something is usually only real when it’s visible, he would also probably say something like that I lead a VERY BORING life, because I have no real, important job, and the one that I do have is only because he graciously agreed to provide it for me despite it wasn’t necessary for him. Furthermore, I never go out, except in absolutely essential situations, I have no real life friends and spend most of my time doing things that he considers meaningless and mundane, like writing some freaking blog posts, when he doesn’t even know wth exactly a blog post is, and I’m not even making any money on it like all them influencers that Sofi follows do online. He thinks the same about my Mum’s life, though of course for different reasons, but he fails to recognise that what makes our lives truly fascinating for ourselves is our inner lives. He’d likely also say that I’m a good listener, because I try to be that for him, even though he’s one of the more difficult people to listen to for longer periods of time, because he finds it hard to put his thoughts into words. But I’ve always got a feeling that there are a lot of things that he’d like to talk about to someone, particularly about his past, to share his memories and stuff like that, but in our family no one seems very interested in that. Neither do I find it extremely interesting, but I believe everyone should have an opportunity to share such things if they feel such a need, so I do try to show a genuine interest in what he has to say, most of the time anyway, and I’ve spent countless hours listening to the stories of his rather colourless, childhood and teenage years, his time in the army (which I actually think must have been rather traumatising for him) and the times when he worked at waterworks (or at least I hope that’s the English word, I don’t have a handy translator app on here yet as I do on the PC), which he now looks back at very fondly and probably idealises that time a whole lot simply because it happened when he was young, and he now has a much better life situation, at least from an outsider perspective.

Like I said, I had a problem coming up what my Mum would say, so I asked her, and she said that I am “of above average intelligence”, which I could actually have predicted because that’s what she always says, even though I’ve never had any kind of IQ test done (it seems to be quite tricky with blind people). She said that it’s very interesting to talk to me because I seem to know something about almost everything and have a lot of interesting ideas. We both do, actually. We could start a business selling our ideas to people, lol. She thinks I have a very extensive vocabulary and am a good storyteller, which actually surprised me because while I certainly do have a large vocabulary and can go on and on and on about things I really love,I  never thought I was actually a good storyteller when speaking. She also said that I am a good listener and have a good sense of humor and that she doesn’t understand why I don’t reveal these qualities of mine to people more and wondered if it is because I feel superior towards people. I really don’t understand it when people interpret things this way, when someone is introverted/shy/socially phobic/whatever else similar people will instantly assume that you must consider yourself superior. It used to really distress me because it just couldn’t be further from the truth. She thinks I could achieve a lot in life, but to do that I’d have to do people, and I can’t do people so my chances are greatly diminished. I Donn’t really know if that’s true, that I could achieve something big sometimes I think so too, other times absolutely not, but regardless, I think it’s the case with a lot of people who could otherwise achieve a lot of great things in their lives if not something that is getting in the way because the world doesn’t work like they do. As for myself, I don’t even know what so great that could be that I could achieve, people or no people, which probably complicates things even more. And let’s not forget that I also cannot do math. 😀 She also thinks that I’m difficult to get along with, which is absolutely true, and that I am a hopeless case of a pessimist, which, imho, is not. I certainly am a pessimist and one who is very proud of it because positivity is awfully overrated, but my pessimism is not hopeless, it’s just defensive. I don’t like the kind of pessimism that makes people grumpy and always discontented with everything. I do my best to enjoy life and all that it gives me, while being a pessimist at the same time. It’s like, optimists see the glass half full, pessimists see it half empty, and Bibiels expect to be dealt an empty glass, and then when they get half a glass, Bibiels go “Yayyyy! There’s actually water in it!” 😀

I don’t really know what Olek would say about me because as it is, we hardly talk. Sometimes though, when we’re the only people who happen to eat dinner at the same time or something like that, he’ll talk to me about stuff that’s going on for him and, unlike with my Dad, I am genuinely interested and don’t have to make it seem so, so I do hope he considers me a good listener. I often think that he must think I’m extremely weird and that he generally doesn’t really like me but I have no actual evidence for that. He seems to think that I’m something like a grammar guru because he often asks me if something’s grammatically correct or something like that. And I’m pretty sure he also likes my sense of humour.

Sofi thinks I’m different than most of my peers, that I’m crazy, in a positive way, because we do a lot of crazy stuff together, that I often make her laugh, that I’m kind of childish, that I’m medieval because I’d rather people send me things via email than Snapchat (I don’t even have such a thing as Snapchat in case you’re wondering), and because I listen to “ancient” music and don’t know what her slangy words mean unless they’re from English, but even then I sometimes don’t because kids here sometimes use English words differently than what they actually mean in English. She also thinks that I should get some treatment because of the amount of languages I want to learn, but I’m not sure if she’d mention that if she had to describe me.

My poor, Fillyjonk grandma would probably say that I’m a poor, blind girl… and I’m not really sure what else she’d say, and if she would be able to specify why exactly I am poor, but that’s the adjective she often uses in reference to me. Perhaps she’d also say that I used to sing as a little child, but now I no longer do at all, because that’s where she seems to be stuck at a lot of the time. My grandma is a perfectly clear-minded, educated woman, but she just can’t seems to get past some ideas she has about me and I find any communication with her extremely difficult for that reason so I can’t even challenge that somehow. My Mum tried too, because for her it’s more of a problem than for me. Then again, I myself am not hugely motivated to change her view, it’s not like I live with her and like what she thinks matters hugely.

My grandad would probably say that, well, I’m an X-ray, that’s how he often jokingly calls me because he thinks I have a good people instinct. He often says that I am “like him” so he’d probably say that too. He’d more than likely say that I am smart, because this is something he values in people. He wouldn’t say one even slightly negative thing about me because he never does, I don’t think he’d say anything critical to me or about me even if I decided I want to kill someone, so it’s great that he’s my grandad, rather than my father and that it wasn’t him who brought me up. Other than that, I don’t really know. I have a really strong bond with him and he has always stood by me even when no one else has, and we understand each other really well, but actually a lot of time we’ve spent together has been mostly in silence, because we seem to get along best this way, so I don’t really know what he’d say.

And my gran would probably say something like that I am not like all the other blind people she’s heard of because I don’t travel by bus on my own and don’t do music.

So yeah, I think that’s it. In case you’re curious, yes I’m still on the Mac, yay for me! That’s the power of defensive pessimism for you: I thought I’d maybe do two paragraphs and then get frustrated and won’t know how to do something and switch to the PC, that it’ll be good if I’ll even manage to find my way on the rather chaotic WordPress website with the weird VoiceOver navigation so that I can at least  start writing, but I’ve made it with barely any problems at all.

Okay, now over to you: how do you think people would describe you?? Be it people from your family or any other people? Is it consistent with how you see yourself? 🙂

Question of the day (6th December).

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

My answer:

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

my answer here.

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

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

What is your least favourite board game?

My answer:

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

How about you? 🙂

Delyth Evans – “Gymnopedie III”.

Hey people! 🙂

Recently I shared with you one of the Gnossiennes composed by Eric Satie and played on the harp by Floraleda Sacchi, and today I’d like to share another, and I guess more commonly known, composition by Eric Satie – the last of his Gymnopedies. – Gymnopedies are three pieces of music that Satie composed for piano, all very melancholic pieces (the first is meant to be played painfully, the second sadly, and the third – the one we’ll listen to today – gravely) and I’ve heard quite a few different harp performances of them and I really like how they sound played on the harp. The name of these pieces comes from some ancient Greek festivity called gymnopaedia, during which young men were dancing naked/unarmed. I have a little bit of a personal connection with Gymnopedies because when I was in nursery, there was a documentary that was being filmed about our nursery (for the blind) and how we lived in there. Then all of our parents got a copy of this film. I now know that my Mum hated that film, but she watched it a lot anyways especially when I was away at school and then she always ended up crying. Once I grew up a bit I never liked watching it either or people mentioning it, something about it is very depressing to me though I’m pretty sure it’s just in my brain and all sorts of memories coming up rather than the documentary itself being objectively depressing. Anyways, gymnopedies were in the soundtrack of this film. I actually don’t remember now if it was all of the Gymnopedies or just one, and if one then which one, because I haven’t watched that in ages nor has my Mum, but I am sure that there was at least one Gymnopedie. I guess Gymnopedies are a sort of go-to soundtrack for all things that are meant to be tear-jerking because I’ve heard them used a lot in this way. This is actually a bit of a pity, because they’re great pieces of music, and while they’re melancholic, it’s not in a tear-jerking, maudlin way. But despite my Mum hated that film, she really liked this music and wanted to know what it is, and finally when she found out she bought some music album where Gymnopedies were included, I don’t know who played them. And she still really likes them despite they sometimes make her think about the times when I was at school and how it made her sad that I couldn’t be at home with my family. And that’s why, when it comes to me, what I primarily associate Gymnopedies and what they make me think of when I hear them is my Mum, rather than the time when I was in nursery, which I’m so glad about, because otherwise they’d probably be totally spoilt for me, and as it is, I really love them. Especially, like I said, played on harp. This third, grave Gymnopedie in A minor is played by the already well-known harpist on this blog, Delyth Evans (currently Jenkins) from Wales.

Question of the day (30th November).

I am learning…

My answer:

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

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

What is it that you are learning? 🙂

Question of the day.

What is something that you refuse to spend money on?

My answer:

There are probably tons of things that I either consciously refuse, or just for whatever other reason don’t spend my money on that a lot of/most people do, but it feels so natural that I can’t even think of many such things at the moment. 😀

One such thing that does come to my mind though is films streaming services like Netflix or whatever else is out there. There are several reasons for that, but the major one is simply that I’m not all that much into movies. Or even regular, traditional TV, for that matter. Something has to really, really, really interest me for me to want to watch it and for my interest to keep going. Most people assume that this is normal, because duh, I’m blind. While I don’t care about how normal it is, it’s probably not the entire reason, because there’s quite a lot of content with audiodescription now on such streaming services and it’s growing. Plus, even without that, I know quite a bunch of blind people who enjoy watching TV or movies regardless, with someone being their personal audiodescriber or just things that are possible to follow more or less without audiodescription. Moreover, I’ve even came across a blind movie critic from Sweden. I guess I have something weird going on because, whether it’s with audiodescription or not, I find it quite difficult to follow movies, I get distracted or plain bored very easily. And this is very selective because I don’t have this problem with anything else really. Perhaps in some part it’s because when I was a small kid, Olek and me watched a fair bit of children’s television or cartoons, but no one really described everything for me in a very detailed way as is apparently the case with a lot of other blind folks and their families. And I didn’t really mind that, I didn’t think much of it and I’m not perfectly sure if I even understood it totally that other people take something else in other than the audio bit. 😀 And I think it just might not have crossed my parents’ minds that a blind child might need that. I usually don’t mind it these days either if someone isn’t up to describing, unless I’m really really really interested in something and totally can’t make sense of some scenes or a movie as a whole, then it absolutely can be frustrating. I suppose it’s difficult to do audiodescription while watching the movie yourself, especially for the first time, and describe things in a way that makes sense, and especially when a movie is fast-paced. In our family only Sofi can do this reasonably well, but will often get so engrossed in watching that she’ll forget to describe things when the plot gets more dense and it tends to be rather inconsistent. My Dad tries his best, but has no knack for describing, plus the same problem as with Sofi, and my Mum doesn’t do it nearly at all unless I explicitly ask her to. But like I said it’s not a big deal usually, it only helps me grow my deductive and analytical skills if I am interested in a movie, or if I’m not so much, then I don’t really care, I just zone out to my Brainworld which is always interesting, until Sofi’s back in multitasking mode. 😀

If I do watch things for some reason, it really has to engross me, or I watch for social reasons, that is as a way of spending time with my family, or for linguistic reasons, as a way to expose myself to a language or a particular accent in a language, which happens rarely these days because I can think of tons of more interesting ways of exposing myself usually but there was a time in my life where I’d be jumping out of my skin with euphoria at a possibility of watching a Swedish movie just to hear the language. 😀

So, as you can see, it’s not really worth it for me. Plus, Olek does have a subscription to Netflix, which Sofi also uses when she’s allowed and my parents use occasionally, so if I want to watch something specifically from Netflix I can watch it with Sofi. We watched Anne with an E, for example, which Sofi loved, and I had super mixed feelings about but mostly didn’t like it because I never like how movies based on the books change, simplify and cut out SO much of the original book plot line. 😀 We also watched Wonder, based on the R.J. Palacios book, which was amazing for Sofi who didn’t read the book, and pretty cool for me who did read the book. But, while I was kind of interested in how much both movies would differ or not from their book counterparts, there was a lot more of Sofi’s initiative in it, haha.

My Mum also subscribes HBO and a couple other things that I can’t remember now and sometimes we watch stuff from there, usually documentaries that we both find more or less interesting. Or one time we watched a whole Czech thriller or crime series or whatever that would be classified as in one night, that I originally only watched because there was a girl called Misha in there and I had nothing more constructive to do at the time, but it ended up being fairly interesting overall, even though I’m generally not a huge thriller person.

What’s such a thing(s) for you? 🙂

Synaesthetic Q&A.

I’ve recently been seeing a lot of synaesthete people in various places post asking people to give them some things like pieces of music, numbers, pictures, words, even names in name geeks communities, whatever their synaesthesia is about, and they’d tell them what are their synaesthetic associations with this thing. I myself have also had people ask me especially about their own names, what I associate them with, and some seemed quite flattered when I told them that they taste like something very yummy, as if it was something I actually had any control over and said it on purpose to give them a compliment. 😀 Good thing though that people don’t get offended when I tell them that I associate their name with something generally considered totally mundane and insignificant. So anyway, I thought perhaps I’d do it on here, for any of you that might be interested in this and how it works for me, of course I’m not going to be talking about other people’s synaesthesias because I’m not other people so I only know their experiences second-hand and feel competent to only talk about how it is for me. Everyone experiences it differently and has different associations with different stimuli. I have lexical-tactile (word-touch), lexical-gustatory (word-taste), and a bit less developed auditory-tactile (sound-touch) and auditory-gustatory (sound-taste) synaesthesia, but as you can see it mostly evolves around all things lexical, so if you’re curious what are my synaesthetic associations with any words, feel free to ask. Also if you have any other, more general questions about my specific synaesthesia, they’re welcome too.

I’ll just add for clarity’s sake that it seems like mine is a bit different to what I’ve heard of most people’s synaesthesias, so that I actually for a long time didn’t even call it synaesthesia despite it seeming very familiar and similar and despite I knew about the term, because I just wasn’t sure if it classifies. Even now I’m not exactly sure, but it has to be called somehow, and despite some differences, I guess they generally do count as synaesthesias. As a small kid (that is after I realised that, wow, other people don’t have it like that! which took me quite a long time to understand) I used to think that it’s something to do with my blindness. I still think that it possibly might somehow be related, some way of compensation or something, but that’s just my little theory which doesn’t have to be true at all. The differences for me vs most synaesthetes I’ve talked to/heard of are that there are things with which I have very strong, clear associations, and some that have either always felt kind of muffled, or have faded over time, so that sometimes I may feel for example some vague shape or texture of the word I’m hearing or reading or thinking about, but I’m unable to make out how it looks exactly. There are words, especially ones that I’ve acquired later on, that I don’t associate with anything at all, but it’s not like it’s a rule that I never have associations with such words, it just depends on a specific word I suppose. In languages other than Polish, especially ones with wild spelling vs pronunciation differences like English, I sometimes have separate associations for spelling and pronunciation. I generally don’t have to speak a language to have associations with its words but if something’s super exotic and unlike anything I know I probably won’t have any or clear ones. I’ll often have several things that I’ll associate with one stimulus, for example there might be a word with which I’ll have several tactile associations, or several gustatory ones, or both a tactile one and a gustatory one, or even several of both tactile and gustatory ones. On the other hand, there might be several words that I associate with the same or very similar tactile or gustatory thing. Often when I associate several words with the same thing, it’s because these words have something in common, especially in the way they sound, like, they may have the same prefix. A lot of my tactile associations tend to be things or fragments of things, sometimes a bit distorted I guess, of things that I experienced in very early childhood, but sometimes it’s quite difficult to figure out what the original object might have looked like. From what I’ve noticed, a lot of lexical-gustatory folks tend to have very weirdly specific and detailed, quite hilarious associations, which sometimes is the case with me and sometimes is not. With auditory synaesthesia, like I said it’s only like partial, it’s definitely not like every single sound has some synaesthetic association for me, but those that do tend to be very clear and powerful. Sometimes it takes a while for an association to form in connection to a sound, so it’s after I’ve repeatedly heard this sound, which I’m pretty sure is not a usual case with synaesthesia. Usually the kinds of auditory stimuli I’m likely to have/develop synaesthetic associations with are people’s voices, instruments, an overall sound of a language, pieces of music, some small, short-ish sounds, and when I was younger also space acoustics, I mean what the acoustics were in a specific room. I still remember what sort of synaesthetic associations I had with some space acoustics but I no longer feel it and it feels rather illogical for me nowadays the way it worked, it doesn’t make sense anymore at all, I would even have trouble explaining that in more detail to someone.

So yeah, that’s a bit of an introduction as to how I feel my synaesthesia or perhaps some near-synaesthetic experience works so that you know the basics. I’ll be happy to answer any of your questions whether about some specific stimuli or the nature of my synaesthesia in general, and if you have some kind of synaesthesia, I’m very curious to hear about yours. 🙂

Question of the day.

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

My answer:

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

You? 🙂