Breaking the Silence- my short story.

Hey people! πŸ™‚

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

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

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

Okay, here goes:

Breaking the Silence

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Misha, Shmisha!”.

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

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

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

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

“Oh, Misha!!!”

“What, Misha”.

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

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

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

“Oh my, Misha, I’m so sorry…”

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

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

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

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

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

“Absolutely yes!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, you’ve just had a whole bowl.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, Misha, leave it alone!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She thought for a minute.

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

Soon, a man came out of the house.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What is it?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thank you.”

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

Testing, testing!…

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

Question of the day.

Hi people! πŸ™‚

What are your opinions on zoos?

My answer:

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

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

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (23rd May).

Hey people! πŸ™‚

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

My answer:

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

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

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

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

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

How about you? πŸ™‚

Post share – Blocking the Block – Cyranny.

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

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

This post by Cyranny

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

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

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

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

 

Question of the day.

What “old person” things do you do?

My answer:

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

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (28th April).

Hey people! πŸ™‚

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

My answer:

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

What about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

Hey people! πŸ™‚

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

My answer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question of the day (7th April).

Hey people! πŸ™‚

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

My answer:

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

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

When did you join WordPress and when did you start blogging? How did it feel like at the beginning? How much has changed since then?

My answer:

I started blogging when I was 13 I guess, in a programme developed for the blind. It served as a way to get blind people together, or something like that, it was fully accessible of course, people could message each other, there were forums, groups, people could have their sound avatars, it could play a variety of multimedia, stream Internet radio, YouTube videos, had a very simple browser, some audiogames etc. etc. and also blogs. It was very easy to make a blog there, you didn’t have to do much except agree that you want to start a blog and write. No making up a URL, choosing a theme, playing around with widgets, SEO or plugins. It was both good and bad. Good because of course it was easy and fun, very quick and absolutely everyone could blog and pretty much everyone did blog, more or less consistently. You didn’t have to worry about how your blog looks or that something doesn’t work with a screenreader or whatever. Bad, because despite it was built somehow based on WordPress, there was a very slim chance that someone outside of the community, who didn’t have an account there, would find your blog, unless you’d give them the URL address. And you weren’t able to make it more personalised, like adjust things and make them more your own, which would annoy me right now but I didn’t care about that back thenn at all. I started blogging out of curiosity, it felt very interesting and cool to me, and people were telling me I’m good at writing so I thought I could do that well and enjoy it. I did. I wrote mainly about my daily life I guess, and some other silly stuff like logging my dreams, I don’t remember really… I had 3 different blogs there over the years, one after another. The programme was soon left by its developers and it was hanging in the Internet for some more years before they killed it completely, but slowly different features were dying, for example YouTube was gone when YouTube got an update, stuff like Google search and Wikipedia browser followed and so – very slowly – did the blogs since they were based on WordPress so people were migrating to different platforms, seeing that things are getting less and less stable, before their old blogs would disappear completely, or they just stopped blogging altogether.

And that was more or less when I started blogging on WordPress, no idea which year it was but I guess I could be about 17. I’m not sure. I had little to no technical idea how one sets up a blog properly, I don’t think I have it now but the second time round I guess I either had more luck, more help or more determination to do it right. That first time was a disaster and the blog wasn’t even very accessible for myself, let alone for my blind readers, and my readers were mostly blind, mostly people from that old community, because my blog wouldn’t even show up in Google, unless you’d search for its actual name, which wasn’t very generic at all so not many random people would think about that. πŸ˜€ It was called Drimolandia, so kind of like Dreamland (it doesn’t mean Dreamland in Polish but I’d say you could call it a polonisation of the English word Dreamland, drim is how you would phonetically spell dream in Polish, and -landia is like English suffix -land, in countries). So, my traffic was just absolutely, extremely, unbelievably low, how low I can fully comprehend only now that I have a (much) better performing blog, seriously, in the whole career of that blog my record daily amount of views was 35! πŸ˜€ I think I could also blame Polish WordPress, there is a lot of Polish blogs set up on pl.wordpress.com but, at least from my observations, people don’t get many comments usually, and forget about the kind of community that is in the English blogosphere, with stuff like writing prompts or blog awards (okay I’ve seen a blog award post once). I copy-pasted all my posts from the previous blog I had onto Drimolandia, hoping to expand that further and write new posts over time, but because working with WordPress editor was a really painful, slow process – I don’t know if WordPress was so inaccessible then or if I had such a rubbish theme or what – that I had less and less motivation and finally abandoned it altogether and just left it hanging in the Internet by itself.

Then I joined another blind app which is still alive and being developed, based on that first one in terms of the general idea, created by one of the former users of that old app who is also a programmer. It had blogs too and I was blogging there for virtually a couple months. That was about the time when I started having my wild ideas about having an English blog, and not necessarily, preferably not, in the blind community. I really enjoyed being there and I liked a lot of people, I know many of them in real life from school or other places. And that was fun in a way, and in a way it wasn’t. I’d been thinking for a long time that I actually don’t like the fact that a lot of people there knew me in real life, or knew someone who knew me, that they had their own idea about me and had every right to it of course, and I felt like that was holding me back from making all those blogs what I really wanted them to be and I felt that I had to hold myself back and wasn’t really writing for myself and was censoring myself all the time or I felt very exposed otherwise. Maybe freaky for some, but that’s how I felt about it. Also, I was interested in things, or involved in things, that I wanted to write about, but even when I did, I didn’t really feel it was interesting for my readers and that they got it, because they didn’t feel it. I felt weird, I mean, I know I’m weird and I like being weird and if someone tells me I’m weird I take it as a compliment, but it wasn’t that kind of weird. I wanted to have a wider group of readers and for it to be more likely that someone who can really relate and/or will be interested can read it, whether they will let me know about that and comment or not, so that I could seriously feel that my opening up is useful and pays off somehow. Otherwise I could write in my diary, which I’ve had for years and write freely in it about everything that comes to my brain. Then also all the mental health stuff started to come up to the surface for me and I couldn’t ignore it any longer, some time later I started diving deeper into the English Internet, writing with people, learning more about myself and people in general, finally it felt necessary for me to have an outlet, for all that was going on in my brain, especially the mental health struggles as I had little support then, and that community wasn’t an option for me to write about such private things , and I also felt for other reasons that I needed to leave it.

And that’s how My Inner MishMash started out, in 2018! I’m so glad that I actually did it, and made this idea come true, it was beneficial to me in so many ways. I wonder now if I have written a post on that, if not, one would definitely be necessary at some point. My Inner MishMash was born on January 24th, but more officially on January 26th, as I was setting it up for 2 days, I was so scared not to screw it up! πŸ˜€ I don’t think it has changed very significantly over those two years (though maybe it’s different from a reader’s perspective?), other than when I sometimes look back at my older posts I can see that my English has improved a bit more and I have developed a bit more of an individual writing style, though it’s still very far from my very characteristic Polish writing style and sometimes I feel like that sucks, but I guess such things take time. On the other hand, as I’ve said many times, I feel much more emotionally expressive in English so everything has its good and bad aspects.

How about your blogging? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (3rd April).

Hey people! πŸ™‚

Do you like to buy physical copies of CDs or download the digital version? Or do you only download the singles? (or do you just listen to the radio or something?)

My answer:

As I wrote in my answer to an earlier question of the day, I don’t have a CD player right now and I don’t listen to CD’s anymore. I have two main ways of listening to music these days. First I use streaming services – for me it’s Spotify because I find it the most accessible, most of all I like that they have an accessible desktop app, and it’s Swedish, haha. – I have a bit of a love-hate attitude and relationship with Spotify and streaming services in general. I love them because they offer a comfortable, easy and relatively cheap (or even free if you like even lower sound quality and enjoy the ads) access to loads of music and if you need it, and have a lot of devices, you can listen to it pretty much anywhere you are, and stuff like family subscription plans are helpful, in our house three people have Spotify and it’s handy to be on a family plan. Also I really like that you can discover a lot of other music which is very handy as well if you are picky and won’t fall in love with every other song playing on the radio. πŸ˜‰ I hate it for the low sound quality, even though I understand that it’s not possible to be higher since millions of people are listening to music at the same time and Spotify doesn’t want to be sluggish. I hate it because, in practice, it only supports those artists and music labels who are already famous and popular. I mean, I’ve discovered a lot of great, barely known, niche artists from niche genres thanks to Spotify and I’m very happy about it, the list includes my last faza/music crush Gwilym Bowen Rhys and a lot of other great people, but from the moment you open Spotify and look through their browse tab, their own ready-made playlists, features like those regional filters for specific countries that they have or however they call them, you’ll be flooded by loads of mainstream music that you’d have easy access too otherwise as well and that you most likely already know either by name or have heard their songs, or both, or if yoou haven’t heard of them they’ll soon go viral anyway and every radio station will be playing them, or if that miraculously will not happen for this or that reason, they still make very easily digestible music and very much in line with what is currently most popular thanks to the media. And, okay, there is some good mainstream music out there, there are artists who are famous for a reason and are really talented, but it’s sad that artists who are lesser known, also those who do not want to go viral or whose music simply isn’t fit for that despite being really great and good quality, or who are independent and self-producing or something, and who could potentially make much more money on the music and be noticed by more people, are so little promoted by streamers and it’s all intentional and purposeful action, despite that with the possibilities that those streamers have, they could really transform the music industry, the way people listen to music, make people more conscious, more selective, and show them some good music, promote it so that those who don’t know much more beyond the charts and what has been popular throughout the last couple of years/decades can find something more that they would like but don’t know that they would like, because they don’t know it exists and where/how to look for it, and what they would actually be into. Of course if you are interested and determined and want to, you’ll find such underappreciated artists on Spotify and great music that they do not feature on their own playlists, but you really have to be interested yourself and most people just want to listen to something, are not interested in digging too much and have no time for that which is absolutely understandable, so they’d have to get it shoved in their faces to be able to notice that there is also other music and that it exists. It’s a shame that so many people just listen to what is forced into their ears by radio stations or other such and that those “trend setters” decide for them what they are supposed to like, instead of that people could actually choose what to listen to on their own, and decide on their own what is their favourite kind of music. It feels like brainwashing to me and makes me think that one can’t really be a self-aware person when they don’t know what music they truly like, but just takes what’s lying nearest to them. I don’t blame the individuals for that though because that’s how things have been for ages and we are used to listening to music this way. I also hate that those less popular artists aren’t paid enough as a result, I mean not as much as they would be paid if someone bought their album, and I feel it’s not fair whatsoever, but as my Mum rightly says the words justice and fair only exist in the dictionary. πŸ˜€ Not to mention that some independent artists are not on Spotify whatsoever despite making lots of great music, for various reasons.

The cons are quite heavy, and I guess there are more of them, but anyway, as I said, Spotify is my main way of listening to music despite that, and probably will be for a while yet, because it’s very accessible and easy, and sometimes the easy option is the only practically possible one. And I listen to a lot of music on Spotify these days, or mostly nights actually. Spotify is my main base for discovering new music and being up to date with my most favourite artists that I want to be up to date with, and music from Spotify serves me as a background noise when doing stuff on the computer during the day, unless I happen to be listening to the radio but I’ll write about that later. I also listen to music from YouTube sometimes but that’s not very often, only when there’s something I like that’s not on Spotify, usually something that I happened to discover years ago back when I was using Last.fm as my main source of discoveries and taste-shaping so to say.

As I said though, it really bothers me what Spotify is doing to the lesser known artists, for example those singing in extincting languages. My other way of listening to music is on my PlexTalk Linio Pocket. PlexTalk is a specialised device for the blind which is small, and thus portable, fitting into a pocket, as you can guess, and it can read books – audiobooks, texts – play podcasts, radio from Internet, play any audiofiles in most formats, so music as well, it can also work as a recorder and has a couple other features like a calendar, alarm, etc. It uses SD memory cards so all my actual music that I have for myself is on SD cards. If I like and respect an artist and their music particularly much, I’ll buy their album, or if I don’t like a whole album I’ll buy some single songs in a digital format. It also is very handy to have this kind of music collection because I take my PlexTalk everywhere with me so I can have my own, bought music there with me regardless of whether there is Internet connectioon or not, I can listen to my PlexTalk in my bed, in the car, etc. I can play the music from some other device if I don’t want to listen to it from PlexTalk’s small speaker or headphones but for example my computer speakers which have much better quality. And I know that I’ll always have this music and not just as long as the artist will be willing to cooperate with Spotify. Well except for things like if I lose or break a card or format it by accident, haha.

Also I do listen to the radio, but that’s rarely for the music. I was hugely into radio as a kid, I mean more like in theory, what it’s like to work in there, changes in specific radio stations over time, lots of such details, that was very interesting to me, and I still do find it interesting but not to such a geeky degree, and I listen much less to the radio right now. First of all I hardly listen to Polish radio stations now, if I do, it is because some programme really interests me. Or because it is playing in the background – in the kitchen, in the bathroom, even in the loo (we have a radio in the loo which turns on and off with the lights and it scares some people or at least surprises them very much when they visit for the first time and go to the loo), I like to switch it on if I’m alone somewhere if I don’t have my Plextalk with me there so that my sensory/silence anxiety is more manageable. – My school friend used to laugh at me that I am such a snob that I only listen to mainstream music and get a chance to catch up with what’s popular and form my opinion when I’m sitting on the toilet, lol, but that’s not the case. Well, not always. πŸ˜€ Otherwise, if I listen to the radio, it’s usually some public radio from another country, or in any case a radiostation where they talk a lot so it can boost my language skills. Like today I’m listening to Sveriges Radio p4 Stockholm all day. They do play a lot of music, very normal music, but I mostly just care about the language. Sometimes I like to make radio discoveries though from foreign radio stations. It was very hard for me, for example, to find Welsh language music on Spotify at the beginning of my Welsh language journey. I mean, there are playlists made by people which were helpful but when I wanted to go beyond that and see what’s more, I found it difficult, especially that Spotify’s algorithms picked up very late on my Welsh language mania and I couldn’t count on them that they would give me some further recommendations. BBC Radio Cymru was extremely helpful in that, as was Cymru FM, the latter plays almost exclusively music, with barely any talking ever in between, almost exclusively in Welsh (with some occasional, almost like accidental, Cornish or Breton songs) in a variety of genres but mostly pop, rock, folk and alternative/indie stuff, I’d say. Also I love learning about how different are music trends in different countries, no matter if I’m gonna like them or not, I like to see for example what Swedish songs are currently popular in Sweden, or even English ones that are either by Swedish artists or simply didn’t make their way to Poland to such a degree for some reason. I actually end up liking a lot of foreign pop or hits or stuff, lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Finnish pop in the radio stations. So I’m not such a big snob, after all. I myself don’t think I am at all, because seriously I do like a lot of “normal” stuff, but even Zofijka thinks I’m snobbish.

So, that’s about it, for me. How about you? πŸ™‚

A letter to my 33-year-old self.

Continuing with the

Letter Writing Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bibiell

*****

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

 

A letter to my 13-year-old self.

Today starts

10-Day Letter Writing Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question of the day.

Finish this sentence – “I am currently one step away from…”.

My answer:

…Getting my new Swedish speech synthesisers. As you may remember from some of my previous posts, I’ve been struggling a lot with regaining some of my speech synthesisers after changing computers, and some seem impossible for me to have on this new one, for example my great Swedish speech synthesiser which is no longer produced and the activation key doesn’t work. Instead, I decided to buy Swedish voices from a different company, from whom I already do have a licence for a lot of synths, but to have Swedish one, you have to upgrade to Scandinavian licence. I did that, and I’ve already even received a file that is supposed to activate the thing, and it all seemed to be very easy, but all those boring techy things seem to hardly be as easy as they seem, haha. I got this file, and I was instructed to plug the USB key on which I’ve got my global (not upgraded) licence to begin with, with all the voices, additional programmes and stuff, and I had to find a file with the same extension as the one I got, change the extension in that old file, and then paste the new file in there as well. It would be cool if I could find a file with such an extension on that USB key at all though. I could not. It is a hidden file, but I have enabled the option for showing hidden files on my computer, but I cannot see it anyway. So maybe I could paste that new file anyway, but I don’t know the way those files are working, and I’m quite apprehensive of experimenting and possibly messing up with such relatively pricey stuff. So I asked the company through which I bought the upgrade what I should do and if they could help in any way. They said they would pass it to someone in their company who is knowledgeable in the topic and he will get back to me. I haven’t heard back from him, but I am hopeful that he will get back to me soon and that there aren’t any more steps in the unknown to make for me to obtain those synths.

Your turn. πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

Hey guys! πŸ™‚

If you could choose a job that’s impossible for you to have (because of a disability/condition you have, lack of some necessary traits/qualities, your location, because it doesn’t exist anymore, because you’re too old etc. etc.), which one would it be?

My answer:

I think I could come up with more, as I like to dream of having all sorts of lives, both such that I would seriously like to live or not necessarily, just so that my perspective is richer and life is more interesting, but a job that I’ve always wanted to have and it’s highly unlikely I’d ever be able to have is to be a neurosurgeon. As many of you may know, I’m very much into human brain and a lot of things that have to do with it, and have been since many years. What first made me think of that I would really like to be a neurosurgeon were conversations with my horse riding instructor – who is also a neurologist and anaesthesiologist by profession at the same time – that I’ve had about all things brain related since about when I was 11. Also around that time, but I guess coincidentally and without the connection to my conversations with the horse riding instructor, I started to read books on human brain, and one that I remember particularly vividly from that time was a book by Jurgen Thorwald, its original is in German, I read it in Polish of course but I can’t find the English title, the Polish title would translate to “The Fragile House of the Soul” and it was about the history of brain surgery. It was a bit scary for me back then, but despite that, incredibly fascinating. While neurobiology and neuroscience are also fascinating, I think I’d enjoy it more to be a neurosurgeon than just neuroscientist as it would be less dry, though I guess I could as well be both. As I said though, naturally, it’s quite unlikely I’d be able to become a neurosurgeon in this life, first and foremost because I am blind, so that would be quite a disaster if I started to play around with people’s brains and people who already have some problems with their brains to begin with. πŸ˜€ Theoretically, my optic nerve could suddenly get stimulated or something and develop, though chances for that aren’t high and these days I’d probably not learn to actually see properly even if it would be fully developed, and I’m not quite sure I’d seriously like that to happen to me, even though a lot of people think it’s my biggest dream to be able to see even a little bit. I think that would be hugely shocking for a congenitally blind person, if not traumatising. But even if that happened to me and I would be able to learn how to use my sight properly, I’m still not sure I’d be the right fit for a neurosurgeon realistically, as my fine motor skills and coordination are both quite messed up, and while it could be influenced more or less by blindness, it’s not wholly caused by it as such so that would not go away miraculously. Oh, and obviously I’d have to redo my math finals to be able to study medicine, and being able to see would probably not make my math issues go away. πŸ˜€ But I was never frustrated that I can’t be a neurosurgeon or anything like that. It was always a bit of a pity for me, but not like I would feel really awful or imbittered about it, because I knew from the beginning it would have to stay in the sphere of my dreams.

What would that job be for you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (3rd March).

What was the last thing someone said that made you angry?

My answer:

My Mum said something that made me quite angry, well okay not angry but rather frustrated anyway. I was recently telling you about my dilemmas with the occupational medicine doctor, and how he doesn’t understand how different types of benefits work in our country, and doesn’t understand that despite being on benefits, I am still able to do the work that I do, and is scared that when he’ll confirm that, someone’s going to kill him or whatever, so instead of educating himself on the topic, through his colleagues or online or I don’t know how else, he sends me and my medical documentation back and forth between different places and wants to have an official explanation just for himself of something that’s stated on my disability benefits claim that’s clear to everyone else in the field and everyone involved, and just keeps making quite a bit of fuss and problem. So, to fill you in on the recent developments, he sent my documentation to the Occupational Medicine Centre, and asked them to explain whether I am able to work or not, interpret that statement on the claim, have a consultation with me or something, despite it’s not their competence at all. A couple days ago, they sent a letter to me, and to him, saying exactly that, that it’s not their competence to make such clarifications and that they don’t really understand what he wants from them, like what’s unclear. πŸ˜€ My Mum said that this will probably be very embarrassing to receive something like this and have his own incompetence pointed out in such a way, and today she went to see him about that, without me this time as she was going out anyway and he was not going to make any more check-ups or tests for me so it would be rather pointless if I went. Mum was sure that now that things are clear, that the OM Centre can’t do what he wants from them, and that the situation is clear to everyone except him, his eyes will finally open, and he will write that, from his – that is only OM – point of view, I am able to continue to work, and won’t be so scared of that as if he was doing some kind of crime or whatever. But, sadly, dr Jacek is too much of a chicken. He wants to continue the saga and write an appeal letter to them. When Mum told me that, I just couldn’t believe it for a while! I just wish he educated himself on different kinds of benefits and stuff, actually it feels puzzling how someone like this could get into occupational medicine. I guess he only knows how to deal with the most typical cases, but when things like disability are involved his brain can’t cope. I was thinking that if he’ll make further trouble, I’ll just change OM doctors, but it actually seems like a lot of ordeal in itself, with transfering my medical documentation from there to some other place. I guess I’ll just have to deal with it and hope it will end soon and things will be back to normal.

How about you?

Reasons why I’m learning English.

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

Reasons why I’m learning Welsh

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

Swedish.

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

1.

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

2.

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

3.

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

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

4.

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

5.

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

6.

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

7.

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

8.

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

9.

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

10.

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

11.

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

12.

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

13.

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

14.

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

15.

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

16.

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

17.

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

18.

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

19.

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

20.

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

 

21.

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

22.

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

23.

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

24.

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

25.

Because it’s easy. So why not?

26.

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

27.

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

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

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

 

This year so far.

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

year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How has this year been for you? πŸ™‚

 

If We Were Having Coffee… #WeekendCoffeeShare

Hey all you lovely people!

The

Weekend Coffee Share

link-up at Eclectic Alli’s is still lasting, so I’m happy to join in this week!

Let’s have some coffee, or anything else you’d like to drink, and maybe a snack to go with it.

It’s my Mum’s birthday, as well as Olek’s, and I’d love to share some cake with you, because it was super yummy, but, sadly, just a little while ago, the rest of it that hadn’t still got eaten, died a tragical death – Mum broke the plate with it, so the remaining cake was full of small pieces of glass. I was lucky because I got to eat the last edible piece only minutes before the accident! πŸ˜€ But I have tea, orange juice, Pepsi, and there still is a cake from bakery, but, although I haven’t had it, I’m sure it isn’t as good at my Mum’s was. And of course you can bring a drink or food of your own and have it, and share with other people if you want, as always.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask all of you how you’ve been doing… πŸ™‚

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that last week was quite eventful. Last Monday my family – that is my parents and Sofi – had a car accident. That was of course very shocking for everyone. Mum picked up Zofijka from her tennis class, as well as two of her friends, and they were going to head home when Dad called Mum to pick him up from work. She was reluctant to do that because that time around he was quite far away and she didn’t feel okay driving that far with all those kids and would prefer to drop at least Sofi’s friends to their homes, but there was no time. When they were on their way back home, there was a crossing in our town that Mum is always kind of apprehensive of, and while she was driving through it, they got hit by some young guy who was driving just crazily fast. I don’t know how it exactly looked like but anyway apparently it was only some immense, miraculous luck, that neither my Dad, nor one of Sofi’s friends, didn’t get killed or badly hurt. At the time, I was in my room, downloading some books, and having a yucky headache and was planning that as soon as I get done with it I’ll go to bed. As I thought that, my phone rang and I heard sobbing Sofi, who was standing outside and wanted me to let her in, because she didn’t have the key. Obviously that alarmed me immediately because I knew Mum has left to pick her up, and I asked her if there was something wrong, and she said yes, so I went downstairs quickly to let her in, and then I couldn’t believe what she was saying for quite some time. Mum had to stay there and wait for the police, but a couple who witnessed the whole thing helped her and her friends get back home. Apparently that young boy was just 18 and only had his driver’s licence for about half a year, and was jittery and really scared when that happened, and Sofi heard him saying that he’ll kill himself. I really hope he didn’t, or won’t. Mum’s car is a total wreck and we don’t know yet if it can be fixed at all. But thankfully nothing happened to anyone, other than shock, but we all managed to pick ourselves up after that pretty quickly. The first thing that I thought of when it finally sank in for me what Sofi was saying was that Mum must be devastated. She’s seen many accidents and whenever she sees anything like that, even less serious, she always cries, so I was sure she must be in quite a state emotionally. Turns out she was really brave this time and very cool-headed and didn’t cry at all, and was very surprised at that herself.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m just going through some sort of an occupational medicine saga. I had my OM check-up two weeks ago like every 2 years, and during it, it came up that on the decision of the institution which granted me disability benefits, it’s stated that I am “completely unfit for work”. That alarmed my OM doctor who said that, although he knows that I’ve been working for 4-5 years already and am able to do it despite my disability, it needs to be clarified, because someone might have a problem with that later on, for example if I change OM doctors or something, and I may not be allowed to work. So he referred me to the Occupational Medicine Centre to clear it and asked them to interpret that particular statement. From then on, I’ve been going back and forth between my OM doctor and the OM centre and it’s getting really unpleasant. In the meantime, me and my Mum asked the institution from which I get my disability benefits, which is called Social Insurances Association or something like this in Poland, and they told us that this statement “completely unfit for work” is something that a competent OM doctor should be familiar with and not make so much fuss around it, because they always write it when someone is on social benefits because of disability, and it means that you can only work in a position that’s adjusted to your needs. Of course it’s official jargon, and this statement is weird – an average person with not much knowledge in those matters wouldn’t think that “completely unfit for work” would mean anything else than “completely unfit for work”, but since this jargon is specific for the field, and he is an OM doctor, it seems very incompetent andΒ  no professional indeed that he doesn’t know such things and takes it literally. – My OM doctor is also a dermatologist, and it seems like he doesn’t really manage juggling those two specialisations at the same time, especially that one year when I visited him, he told me that he’s “probably the best dermatologist in the county”, so I suppose he focuses so much on being such a great dermatologist that he doesn’t have enough time on being a decent OM doctor and have the minimum knowledge. I came back to him after that, explaining to him what I’ve learnt, but he still insists on interpreting it just for him by someone from the OM Centre. It seems like, because he doesn’t know the rules and procedures and the basic terms used in his field of work, he is afraid to renew his decision that I can still work, because what if someone will say that I can’t and then he’ll have to bear the consequences. Instead of researching the topic himself or asking someone more knowledgeable, he wants me to do the job for him and interpret stuff that’s obvious for anyone who has some basic idea about how benefits work here. I’ll do that because as it seems right now I don’t have a better option, but then I think I’ll say goodbye to the best dermatologist in the county and find myself some other OM doctor. Sadly, this guy’s name is Jacek. I think he could be nice as a person, even if a bit too cocky, but even when your name is Jacek, it doesn’t immediately make you great at everything as it seems. πŸ˜€ Not that I didn’t know previously that Jaceks do have their weaknesses too, like all other people.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m fighting for and stressing over some of my speech synths that I’ve lost. I don’t know if I’ve told you that or not, but in that whole wave of tech issues and computer transition I’d had, I’ve lost ALL of my licences for those voices and the accompanying app. I won’t get into the details of how it happened, but to put it shortly, you get those speech synthesisers in the app on a USB stick, and that stick comes with 3 licences that enable you to install it locally. You can have one licence on one computer and of course you can remove it from it and transfer it back on to it as you wish. Except for when you have some unpredictable system crash that requires some major repairs and digging inside of it, drive replacement, etc. Then, even if you still have the same computer, the same system and haven’t removed the licence and uninstalled the app, your licence is still there but you are unable to use it, and neither can you remove it. And because usually we are not able to predict when our computers will crash, and also because I wasn’t aware of that, I gradually lost all of my licences because of some major changes on my computers and am stuck in a dead poind with them. So I had to contact the producer, they weren’t responding for a good few weeks so finally I decided to call them, which my Mum was persuading me to do for a long time and saying that I should do that in the first place. That cost me a lot as you can imagine if you know me at least a bit, but I was just like there’s no way I’m going to lose them permanently, I have to get them to do something. So I explained in Swenglish to the girl who answered my call (I called their Swedish quarters) what happened and what I want from them, but our communication was very poor because we couldn’t hear each other very well for some reason and besides she seemed quite clueless and the only thing she could do was to collect the info on the problem for me and she said she’d pass it on to other people and when they’ll know something, they’ll call me back. No one did for over a week, so I was thinking I’ll have to start flooding them with emails, but luckily before I started out with that, I got a response to my email. I now have 3 new licences from them that I can use, but to keep things interesting, I cannot, because for some reason a licence won’t transfer on to my computer. So the guy from that company will have to do something with it remotely. That makes me quite anxious and I’m not sure why. I mean the thing has been very stressful for me since the beginning but since that has become a real possibility I’m stressing about it much more. Am I such a privacy freak, or am I anxious of what the problem might be because it looks serious and that something will go wrong and because I have little experience with getting remote assistance, or am I scared of the interacting, probably a fair bit of it, that I’ll have to do with him, or what, no idea!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, while my anxiety has been pretty high for a long time now and hasn’t come down to what I perceive my baseline level in months, and now has actually gotten higher recently because as you can see things have been chaotic, the good news is that my depressive symptoms, including anhedonia, have alleviated a bit, and I have more energy for things, yay! I still don’t have a faza which stinks like a skunk, and it’s still far from my “normal”, but it’s better, so let’s hope this will continue! It certainly makes life that bit easier, and makes you feel a bit less like you have to fake everything you’re supposed to feel all the time, or less shitty about yourself when you are not able to fake. Concerning fazas and continuing what I wrote about in

this post

, if I ever thought that Jack Vallier was going to be my next crush, now I know he definitely won’t! Sofi took him over from me! Despite she doesn’t like “guys with earrings”. πŸ˜€ Yesterday we were sitting in the kitchen – us and Mum – and she was listening to the music, and then she played one of Jack’s songs and said: “Mum, guess who it is, this guy who’s singing?”. Of course Mum didn’t know. “It’s Jack V… I don’t know, but he’s Jack, he was going to be Emi’s crush but he’s too normal for her. So I’m taking him over. He looks awful but I love his music so much”. 🀣 Then I heard her talking to Dad, asking him if it’s possible that she/we could go to London this summer, because she’s read somewhere that her crush is going to have a concert there. Of course Dad didn’t agree. I don’t mind Sofi taking Jack over because as I said I didn’t think I would be able to get a faza on someone so normal anyway, and he’s more Sofi’s style, I mean his music is, and I know that for her, crush is something different than for me and we both understand it differently. It probably won’t even last very long for her. However if I did have a faza on Jack that would be really unfortunate, because I can’t imagine sharing my faza objects with Sofi hahaha.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you that me and Olek collectively bought Mum a new phone for her birthday, a Samsung Galaxy, though obviously I don’t remember which one exactly. It was Olek’s idea. I thought it was cool but also was a bit apprehensive of it, my Mum had always had LG phones and liked them, so I wasn’t sure if she’d like it. Of course she now has to get used to it, which always takes some time, but so far I guess she feels positive about it which I’m glad about.

What would YOU tell me if we were having coffee? πŸ™‚

 

Jack Vallier – “Copenhagen”.

Hi people! πŸ™‚

So, those of you who have been following my blog for a while know about my fazas/crushes and that lately I’ve been in a limbo, which is never a pleasant situation to be in, but is particularly unpleasant when it’s a faza limbo and when your existence is pretty much driven by fazas and stuff that they generate whatever that might be. And because that limbo is my first one – that is, previously I always went smoothly from one dominant faza into another – I feel very uncomfortable in it and am doing a lot of desperate faza hunting, particularly in the world of music because, albeit I do have literary fazas as well, it’s the music ones that are the strongest. You also know then that I’m a Jackophile and that my dream is that my next crush would be called Jack, or something else Jac-. It’s not a requirement whatsoever, I don’t really care what they’re called because as soon as I get a faza I will love their name anyways as far as I know, but that would be just extra nice, I’m just clueless about how to go about active faza hunting so I just had to have something to look out for, so primarily I look around for musicians called Jack or something similar. That doesn’t really help much but at least it is something that I can use as a criterion in my searching.

So there have been a few stronger candidates – one that I won’t even mention by name even though it’s highly unlikely any of my readers would have ever heard of him, but he’s too cringey for my “snobbish”, as a lot of people say, music taste πŸ˜€ even though he was actually Sami, and I suspect he has a developing alcohol problem because some kind of alcohol is present in almost all of his music, and I’ve already had a crush who was an alcoholic so I don’t want it to become a pattern hahaha, plus that crush of mine – Cornelis Vreeswijk of course – was so much better of a lyricist, and could write beautifully even about wine, while this guy here cannot. Then there was Jack Christopher Alsopp a.k.a. Just Jack (yeah, I have shared his song here). A nice guy, but too normal for me. I can’t even imagine myself having a faza on him so that was just wishful thinking, I don’t even like his music enough. Then there was Jack Rutter – very folksy and pleasant, from Huddersfield in England (which made me realise I’d just love to have a northern English crush!), I do like him a lot, he’s also a guitarist like all my previous major male crushes, and a bouzouki player like my last dominant crush Gwilym Bowen Rhys. – But, sadly, it didn’t work out. After that, Spotify recommended me a song by Jack Hawitt and Nyaki called “Dark Hotel” (I’ve intended to share it with you but somehow never have, but hope I finally will some day), and then I was familiarising myself with Jack Hawitt’s music, which was pleasant, but… you may have guessed it – too normal, too mainstream-y. – Then there was Hamish Napier, a fantastically versatile musician from Strathspey in Scotland – he’s a flautist, pianist, singer and what not – and his musical comfort zone is very wide. Versatility is something I really appreciate in a crush, I can’t imagine myself having a crush on someone one-dimensional because, if you are familiar with the meaning of the word faza for me, it helps me to develop, and it’s easier when there’s more diversity, but somehow my brain and Hamish Napier’s and his music didn’t click strongly enough. Also one of his parents is a harpist – I don’t know which one, though of course it most likely must be his mother, and I don’t know her name, but that’s a nice fact isn’t it? – It didn’t help anything. My faza is not going to be on Hamish Napier. There also was Jack Pantaleo, I believe he’s from California and also seems fairly versatile – he’s a social worker and has some background in psychiatry, but also is a certified harp therapist. – If you didn’t know, harp therapy and harp healing is a thing in many places all around the world, there are academies, online courses, certificates, and then such people work in hospitals, care homes, other institutions, do music therapy and such. I’ve been interested in it for a long time as a harp lover, and I thought it would be really cool to have not only a crush who is a harpist (such a rare thing for a guy to be a harpist these days isn’t it?) but also a harp healer. He has apparently written a book, and that book is accompanied by a CD with his music, and this seems to be his only album. I had a listen to it, and while obviously I love harp, and so I enjoyed listening to it, I didn’t find anything special or above average in his play, though then again, I am neither a harpist nor anyone with music background so I’m just saying how I feel very subjectively about his music. Also, while I like my faza objects to be unpopular and not frequently heard of in general, there has to be at least some info available about them in whatever language of the world, otherwise there’s not enough fuel to get my faza going for long enough. And there’s not much info on Jack Pantaleo. I wouldn’t even know how he sounds or probably not even what he looks like. There have been a few songs on his albums, with vocals, but I really disliked the voice of the vocalist.

And so, finally, getting to the actual topic of this post, there has also been Jack Vallier whom I have discovered a few days ago. Very normal, too, but I do like his music, and this one song in particular, it’s been sitting in my brain since I first heard it. As I was reading on him and immersing myself in his music, at some point Zofijka heard him in my room and she said she likes him – he does sound very much like something Zofijka would like – and then we were talking about him, that I thought he could be my new crush, and then, because Sofi liked him, she got very excited about it and wanted to see what he looks like, because that’s always my mission for her when I have a new crush, that she has to see what they look like and describe them to me and give me her opinion. Usually it works so that the more Zofijka is disgusted, either by their music or looks, the more this person is worth my attention. πŸ˜€ From my previous crushes she has only approved of Declan Galbraith but only until he matured and changed his looks and music style a bit. So, while I told her that it seems highly unlikely that Jack Vallier will be my next crush even though I do like his music despite it’s just pop, she ran to her laptop and looked him up. At first I thought it was very promising because Sofi kept making all the gagging noises and choking and such very spectacularly for a very long time implying that she’s throwing him up because he’s so disgusting, but when she finally was capable of speaking coherently she said “Well, no, actually, he’s just… he’s okay, he’s just… normal. I just don’t like guys with earrings”. πŸ˜€ Me neither for that matter, haha, though if I got a serious faza on him I probably would care very little about that.

Jack Vallier is from Bournemouth, UK, as far as I know, and his music is really cool, and pleasant, albeit normal. I hope that if, by any chance, Jack ever sees that post he won’t feel that it’s a critic or an offense or sarcasm or anything because it’s not meant as such. I seriously like a lot of “normal” music, as you can clearly see from my blog, and I don’t perceive it as inferior or wrong as long as it’s not trashy or overly cliche. This song of his is my favourite. πŸ™‚