Question of the day.

Do you like to cook and/or bake?

My answer:

I thought I’d do a bit of a rambly post of this. Just so you know. ๐Ÿ˜€

Whether I like is one thing, whether I can is another, lol. Because my dexterity is out of kilter – mildly but enough that it does affect some areas of my life and functioning – I never really had any spectacular achievements in the culinary field, in fact it often was exactly the opposite but at least the perk of it is that it can get interesting. ๐Ÿ˜€ When we had such class at school which involved cooking or baking among other things (I’ll write about that a bit more in detail later) I always preferred to have a bit of distance to my lack of abilities in this field so would tell people that I’d rather allow my creativity to flow freely rather than have some damn recipe rule my brain and tell me what I’m supposed to do. Who cares if it comes out inedible, lumpy or something? It’s a piece of art so it would be a sacrilege if you tried to eat it anyway. And esspecially when baking, I would openly show my weird creations around the class to the great amusement of the other kids. It’s always been one of my coping strategies that I’ll either laugh at myself or things that are happening, or distract people from something I don’t want them to talk about/notice by making them laugh, but in this case I didn’t really have a huge problem with my lack of culinary abilities, I don’t think they’re necessary these days in the age of caterings, though are certainly extremely useful. Probably a factor influencing this was that these classes were generally not very competitive as the few other kids who took part in them with me had some form of learning disability, which for most of them didn’t affect their dexterity or coordination so that they didn’t have exactly the same problems as me and with the same activities, but had others, often more challenging ones, instead, and so if they were laughing that was not really in a mean way, and I even sort of liked entertaining them. I had also a very good relationship with the teacher, she was in fact one of those adults there with whom I had quite a good relationship and liked them, I know she liked me a lot as well, and she was often very supportive of me.

I do not either cook or bake independently and never have, but when I do get enough individual support and guidance with that, the results can be tolerable, but then again, I feel like it’s not really exactly my merrit then, but rather the person’s helping me. This is quite an interesting and to a degree even fascinating field (maybe not hugely fascinating like to a degree my languages are to me or some other things but it’s interesting for me to observe how people cook or bake especially when they’re particularly talented and how something they’ve had in mind or some recipe on a piece of paper develops into something very specific it’s a little bit black magic to me ๐Ÿ˜€ ). My Mum says cooking is all about chemistry and physics, which I think is very true, but might be just another reason why I find it as tricky and a bit abstractive as I do, also with all the proportions in recipes and all that.

Going back to that class thing, what it was in fact was a sort of fusion of art class with stuff like knitting, cooking, baking and other manually focused activities. I have no clue how you call it in English if at all, but in mainstream schools here in Poland, children have class which is called the same but they learn things like calligraphy or how to pass a bike licence or such. In our blind school, that class probably wouldn’t work out or even have much sense in its mainstream point, so I guess they must have adapted it to be something more suitable to our abilities and useful at the same time. It was more like what people my parents’ age had at schools during the communism period which was called practical and technical activities, or something like that.

So as you can imagine knowing the above about my coordination and culinary skills already, I was generally super lame at that subject, but the teacher was always very understanding of me and I always got B’s at the end of the year, though wondered for what. ๐Ÿ˜€ I liked the cooking and baking because we typically did some very yummy things but at the same time felt useless because rather than contributing to it as much as everyone else did, I was more likely to screw something up, possibly ruining everyone else’s efforts as well, or at least come out with bleeding fingers or something unless I got a lot of help, and even if the other kids wouldn’t have additional difficulties, they were still blind, and blind people even when they’re only blind, do need to at least be shown individually how to do some things if they’ve never done them before, so she couldn’t focus all her attention on me even in such a small class where there were only like 4 people or so. So even if I didn’t have particular problems with the sole fact that I wasn’t able to cook or bake, it was still quite distressing in that class, at first.

Until somehow one day, I guess it was Mother’s Day, we were making cards for our mums, and I wanted to include a poem on mine, and I came up with it myself and the teacher wrote it on my card. I’ve always considered myself much better at prose than poetry and I do like writing prose much more thann poetry, but she decided that my poem was great and witty and long and to my huge embarrassment showed it to my class teacher and everyone else who was in the teachers’ room must have heard it as well although it was just for my Mum, and she couldn’t get over it as if I wrote God knows what a masterpiece. And since then, we’d developed an unwritten agreement of sorts with her. She would help me greatly with all the technical stuff – not just cooking and baking but anything that I found more challenging to do by myself so basically almost anything in that class – or would do the whole job for me if it needed to be done well and quickly, or I wouldn’t have to do it at all if there was something else I could do, and instead I would do a lot of writing if there was any need, especially for poems because these were typically writings on cards or other occasional stuff. For example there was one boy in the class for whom I wrote poems for his aunt who was his main carer I believe and he always seemed to like it so much. Or I would write for school – Teacher’s Day, enf of school year, Christmas etc. – I can’t say it was something I liked a lot, because just like I said I don’t really feel very comfortable in the world of poetry either as a writer or reader (except of Vreeswijk and a few other poets), and I found especially the school poems quite an annoying chore, but at least I could rhyme well and make even verses which were even a bit witty sometimes which seemed to be enough for everyone so I was glad there was something I could do better than cooking and make myself kinda sorta useful. The only type of poetry I enjoyed writing, for myself, were some spontaneous, weird, long-winded, full of wordplay, immature- or black-humoured poems whose topics I found hilarious and which made my roommates laugh. I guess though what must have been most funny about them was the language, the way I wrote them, rather than what I was writing about, that’s at least how I see it now, the plots themselves were mostly rather immature just like I said.

The good thing about that whole writing thing though was that sometimes there were art competitions organised somewhere in the country, and our school often took part in such thiings, especially if they were for people with disability. And since art competitions are often also literary competitions at the same time and you can choose which form you prefer, and my teacher knew I’m better at literature than art, she would always encourage me to take part in such things and then I could do a bit of prose. While everyone else was making their artworks, I would be making up some short story and then dictating it to the teacher (as they had to be in normal print typically). I didn’t like the dictating part really because, well, you often change your mind about stuff while writing, and with dictation there isn’t really as much room for that, you have to form your sentences well from the start, know what you want to be happening next in the plotline so that the other person doesn’t have to wait for ages until your creativity strikes, and at the same time it also requires a lot of spontaneity and is a bit like stream of consciousness writing in my view, only more stressful because you have to be mindful of the quality. I don’t know why I simply didn’t write these things on the computer or something, but I guess there must have been a reason. But overall it was always an exciting experience and one such time my dictated short story must have actually turned out quite good quality to the judges, because it got a first place – it was a Bible-inspired contest and I wrote a story inspired by the parable of the prodigal son and based on a real life story from my family. –

When I was out of school, I asked Mum to teach me some basic culinary stuff. I also thought I’d like to be able to help her a bit, because my Mum is the only person who cooks and bakes in our house –
Zofijka now does some occasional cooking or baking but only when she’s in the mood really, although she’s extremely good at it when she does do something. – And I thought it could be interesting and that maybe now that I’d have my Mum’s undivided attention it would be easier for me to learn and practice and for her to actually teach me things than for my teacher. It wasn’t really as good an idea as I expected though, because having to instruct me and often help me with more complex things made meal preparations longer and actually my input didn’t help at all, but instead contributed to Mum having to spend more time in the kitchen. Plus she didn’t really have the patience or the skills to teach, which I guess is a common thing with people who are self-taught at something. Finally one beautiful day I was grating vegetables and cut my finger really badly, and that was the end of my cooking adventures practically. ๐Ÿ˜€

Still, because I feel a bit sorry for Mum, even though she hardly ever complains, I traditionally ask her whether she wants help when she’s making some food but that’s more of politeness or something rather than I actually expect her to need/want my help or think I could be helpful, she’ll always say no but I ask anyway I guess to show her that I appreciate her efforts and would help if I could, in case she needed it. Sometimes she does say yes and then we do something together but that’s when she’s really got the time and energy to spare.

Given all that I wrote above, I don’t really know which of these activities I like more as I have very limited experience of them, but if I really had to choose I think I’d go with baking, there’s something atmospheric about it.

Okay, your turn now. ๐Ÿ™‚

My first holiday/vacation.

As you guys know or may have noticed, I’ve recently been very big on all sorts of journaling prompts. Particularly in my private journal but on here as well. You also know that I know about most of my journaling prompts’ sources thanks to Astrid of A Multitude of Musings. One such source that I haven’t used for a blog post yet is an app for iOS called Paperblanks that I’ve been using for a while now in my personal writings and really like. So I thought I’d do a post loosely based on one of the prompts from this app on here today. It asks about the first vacation that you remember taking.

I said it’s going to be loosely based because I’m not sure what was exactly the first vacation I remember taking in my life, but one of the earliest holiday related memories that comes to my mind is about a little seaside village called Smoล‚dzino, that we used to visit very regularly, pretty much every summer. I don’t remember the first time we went there and discovered that place, I don’t even know how we discovered it because it wasn’t a popular holiday destination then, and it all blends together in my brain, but I thought it could be fun to write a bit more in general about my memories from there and give you a feel of that very lovely place.

Smoล‚dzino lies by the sea in Sล‚owiล„ski National Park, and is part of a nature reserve. So you can imagine it’s a very clean, quiet and peaceful place. I live in the north, and we have many more beaches closer to where we live, but since we’d discovered Smoล‚dzino, for a long time, whenever we would have some more time on our hands, even a few days, we’d go there. It’s about 90 km (over 50 miles) from us, so it was always a longer trip than what me and Olek were used to going to the seaside. For me, that was both good and bad. I always found longer travels exciting, and the longer the better, but at the same time my vestibular system had a different view on this so I was generally rather ambivalent about the whole thing. ๐Ÿ˜€ I always looked forward to summer mostly for that particular reason, because I hoped we’d go to Smoล‚dzino, as I really liked it there. After over an hour in the car, since it was a nature reserve, you had to leave it about four kilometres from the beach and walk the rest of the way with all your belongings, of which we usually took a lot with us, on foot. It was typically mid July or so, and thus could be very hot (one year I remember it being about 35 degrees C or 95 F which is considered unusually hot here) so it could be rather exhausting, dire and boring, especially for us kids, but when we finally got there it also felt so extremely rewarding! And over the years as we did it every year or almost every year, sometimes more than once every year, we all got used to it and considered it part of the overall unique Smoล‚dzino experience.

From our first few times being there I remember me and Olek making sand mountains and sliding down from them. There were always hardly any people, if any at all except us. No madly screaming, splashing kids peeing in the sea and their parents shouting at them to get out of the water for now and possibly their dogs running around, no people selling pop corn and yelling about it through the whole beach, no stray bottle caps or cigarette stubs or other surprises – an ideal place for hermits! ๐Ÿ˜€ – As a child, I loved collecting seashells and these in Smoล‚dzino were always particularly good quality so I loved doing it there. I grew to love Smmoล‚dzino so much that after some time going to any other beach was just so blah and boring, only Smoล‚dzino had real value for me. The sea was always so clear there. We – but especially our parents – were always marvelling how come people not know about this place, and how great that naturally is for us. – We often bragged about this summer hideout we’ve found to others or recommended it to them but somehow no one shared the degree of our enthusiasm, perhaps because people didn’t think it would pay off for them to drive for an hour to get to the sea when the nearest beach is 15 km away. The village itself though, with its inhabitants, made an impression of a very poor, socioeconomically neglected and kind of grim place. When I realised that when I was a bit older, I found that a very jarring contrast with all the beautiful nature and the sea and the idyllic associations of Smoล‚dzino that I had. The people there lived mostly from fishing and tourism but I wonder what sort of tourism if there were so few people on the beach, and aside from the sea and beautiful nature and views, there wasn’t much more in Smoล‚dzino so it wasn’t like the tourists had many more alternatives as for where to go, unless they used Smoล‚dzino as their base and from there drove to bigger towns where there are more touristy beaches and more things happening, but because these towns are also by the sea they have a lot of accomodations for tourists of their own and they are much better from what I’ve noticed.

That year when it was so extremely hot and Sofi was already part of our family and starting to speak her first words, my aunt and uncle expressed an interest in tagging along with us and Mum somehow got in touch with a woman who lived there and had one big room for rent, so we decided we’ll stay there for a few days rather than just go for a day trip. I thought it was a brilliant idea but I didn’t end up liking it quite as much as I did the day trips, perhaps because of the heat, which was particularly aggravating in our room, and that when we weren’t at the beach, I was deadly bored in there with not much to do. The woman at whose house we lived was extremely chatty and sociable and would make barbecues for us almost every day or want us to spend a lot of time with her family which was very nice and friendly but rather annoying and obtrusive long-term for all of us, and I just didn’t feel as comfortable there with my Dad’s family around as I did when there were just us. I remember one night particularly clearly. Usually when we were there, we the kids would be sent to beds much earlier than the adults, and my circadian rhythm was cooperating for a few first days. But one day, when we were already in beds, I couldn’t fall asleep and the adults decided to go to some local party that was taking place there and see what it’s like. I was still not asleep by the time they came back which was about 1 AM. They all went to sleep and fell asleep pretty quickly as it seemed, but not me. And then suddenly my uncle started snoring, and it was SO freakishly dramatically spectacular and loud! ๐Ÿ˜€ I was used to unbelievably loudly snoring people (not like used to in the sense that it just didn’t phase me, but more like I was very familiar with the phenomenon from an early age and accepting of that sometimes it just happens and you may end up having a rotten night as a result if you don’t fall asleep before the snorer does ๐Ÿ˜€ ) because my Dad is a super loud and passionate snorer and when me and Olek were younger we didn’t have our own rooms but rather one huge bedroom where our beds were in one corner and our parents’ bed in another. But I’d never heard before –
and haven’t afterwards either – someone snore THAT loud, like my uncle did, and I wondered how everyone else managed to sleep in such conditions. In the past, when Dad’s snoring would go crazy before I fell asleep, I would cover my head with a pillow or something, but it was way too hot for that then. I found the situation kind of hilarious at first but over time I grew more and more frustrated to the point where it became rather dangerous and I was starting to have some homicidal ideations. I think I finally did manage to fall asleep some time before everyone else woke up, but was the most frustrating night ever for me, hahahaha. I didn’t tell anyone about that, until years later, when it was a great source of amusement for everyone including the snorer and myself.

Also when Sofi was already with us, I spent a lot of time in my Brainworld which was my most powerful coping strategy with life which was yucky at the time. I always had a very rich brainlife but at that time my Brainworld became much larger and more developed. Among other stuff, I made up a sort of submarine or generally aquatic world with sea people ruling it. The king’s name was Akrofil back then (it wasn’t supposed to mean anything specific, it was just a name I made up and liked the sound of but I later changed it to Magnus when someone told me that Akrofil sounds like some kind of pervert and I looked it up and acrophilia apparently is a real thing, a paraphilia, that is ๐Ÿ˜€ ), and I don’t remember what was his wife’s original name, something sort of oriental, but currently her name is Nerissa, and they had two children and a lot of subjects and they all lived in a castle under the sea but they also felt at home in any other body of water and not necessarily deep down. You could call Magnus or anyone else of them up if you knew how and they would appear if they would consider it necessary, and they could help people with a lot of things. Naturally they always helped people who had something to do with the sea in the first place but they were also very eager to help people who were struggling with anything else a lot and just unhappy. You could talk to them and typically they would take you down to their castle and you could spend some time there in their happy world and just relax and have a lot of fun. They always had a lot of feasts and led a very sumptuous life. But you couldn’t stay there indefinitely so after some time Magnus would send you back on to the land, but he would give you some magical things that could help you cope with the situation that made you call them in the first place, for example such items would enable you to call upon them wherever you were so they would help you in a specific situation, or he would give you a drink that would make you feel better or a special vehicle that could transport you wherever you wanted etc. etc. etc. Sometimes though, when he decided he couldn’t help you practically, he’d just let you stay in there forever, and you could just become one of the sea people. They make up just one section of my Brainworld and aren’t as important a part of it as they were back then, but I still love hanging out with them. And back then when I did that a lot, it made me feel especially close to them and like they were real when I was by the sea. I wasn’t particularly eager then to share things like these with people, but funnily enough, for some reason I did share the whole Akrofil thing with my Dad, and although he’s generally not particularly imaginative and not very flexible-minded, he seemed to love the whole idea almost as much as I did. Perhaps because he loves the sea so it spoke to him somehow. So in Smoล‚dzino I taught him how to call Akrofil/Magnus and we would play sea people together. ๐Ÿ˜€ Or I would do by myself. Either way was super fun and very nourishing for my escapist brain.

After some time, somehow we stopped going there. I guess life just went in a different direction and we always wanted but never really did. Until last year, when my parents decided to go there for a quick day trip, this time with another aunt and uncle from my Dad’s side of the family. I decided not to go for a mix of different reasons, and turned out that it was a good idea. They arrived there about noon and were hugely surprised to see a long line of cars, all waiting to be let in. And because there are limits on how many people can be at the beach because it’s a nature reserve, only some portion of them were allowed and my parents who were quite late to the party weren’t among them, so they came back. The guy who let people in told them that things have changed a bit over the last couple of years and more people come there regularly, and from what they’d seen the village seemed in a better state now and there were more people. It also had a more touristy feel apparently, with more shops and other such scattered around, which I found worrying when I heard about it, but it’s apparently not very bad and it’s not obnoxiously touristy,, it couldn’t be when it’s a nature reserve, so that’s a good thing, in the grand scheme of things, and for the village it’s good that it’s more prosperous, as it really made a rather sad impression on me all those years ago. Good for them that they are developing.

So there you have – my one of the first and the most favourite holiday destination. – What are your earliest holiday memories? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What was the first adult book you ever read? How old were you? Did you ever read YA when you were age appropriate, or did you jump from children’s books to adult books?

My answer:

I was thinking hard about it and it took me really a long time. Probably both because I read a lot, and I don’t really have memory for such details like which book was first and when exactly, I’ll typically remember the plot line of the book, or other things that happened around the time when I read it, what was going on in my life, what were my reactions to/associations with the book etc. But actually when I thought hard enough I figured the answer was much easier than I thought, because one of the first books I read was a proper, very adult, very difficult book. And I’m pretty sure I’ve even written about it on here not that very long ago. I just got signed into the school library and was reading my first, short children’s books, but they weren’t particularly interesting and too short for me to be enough between the times when I was able to go to the library. So I wanted to try something longer and something that I knew I’d actually like, and asked about brothers’ Grim fairytales. I got a huge book, but, to sum it up, because as I said I wrote about it earlier in more detail, there was a mistake and the book I got was nothing like brothers Grim’s fairytales! And the funny thing was that, despite as I read on and couldn’t get myself at all engaged into the oh so boring, dull plotline, and it wasn’t at all like the brothers Grim book my Mum had read to me, no alarm went off in my brain that, uh oh, perhaps I’ve got the wrong book. I thought perhaps it was some really long introduction (though why it was completely off topic I had no idea either). Finally, a young girl who was volunteering in our boarding school group at the time once came over to me and asked just out of curiosity what I was reading. I complained to her that I got brothers Grim from the library but it’s so much more boring than when my Mum read it to me and actually seems like a whole different book, and there’s a lot about animals. She wanted to have a look at the cover and we were both surprised to realise that it was actually some very fancy book about… white lions? if I remember correctly, something like that. Super geeky! I was still very much learning what the whole literature thing was about and how to deal with books, and while I could read the title page myself and did, it must have probably been too disorientating for me yet. I don’t think I’d be into something like that even nowadays, although I’m sure I wouldn’t keep on reading it for as long as I did, it wasn’t really very much like me, I generally get discouraged with books quickly and give up on them ’cause why read something that’s not particularly interesting if there are so many more interesting books out there, I hate being bored.

Anyway, I must have been about 7-8 at the time it happened.

As for adult book in the context of a book containing so called adult content, when I was maybe a preteen, I was a member of our local talking book library. I loved to read and I would happily to it all the time but I could hardly have enough Braille books at home even with all the different sources I got them from, so mostly I listened to talking books on tapes. The library ladies liked me very much and were very nice, but I don’t think they really knew themselves what they had in their library, what the books were about and what ages they were appropriate for. Because I got lots of books from them that, even though I was quite a smart kid, were often for one reason or another not really appropriate for my age either intellectually or emotionally, in hintsight. That particular “adult” book was about a 15-year-old girl, so actually it could probably classify as YA only it did have a lot of sexual scenes that I absolutely wasn’t ready for then, and found all of that quite shocking, together with that the protagonist’s family was very much pathological, and she herself had a sort of lifestyle that I didn’t realise a 15-year-old could live. I think I did knew the basics about the birds and bees by the time, but not much beyond that, and it was just something very new and very overwhelming to me. I don’t think there was anything pervert or anything like that, just very graphic and the whole book overall had a sort of rough feel to it the way I remember it which made it feel even more overwhelming. In a way though, this new world was even quite fascinating. But I felt very much disturbed and after some time I talked about all that with Mum, and she reassured me, explained some things to me that were in this book and that I was wondering about, and said that if I didn’t feel like reading it further, I didn’t have to, and so I left it. I don’t remember the title of it now, I only have a vague recollection that it was German but I’m not even sure of that.

And as for YA, oh of course I read it! A lot! Since quite an early age, and enjoyed it a lot. Moreover, I still do and read a lot of it.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day (17th September).

Hi people! ๐Ÿ™‚

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

My answer:

Yes, I have had it. But let me give you a bit of a backstory first as I guess it might be interesting. The first time I had couscous was around the time when I started primary or perhaps during nursery yet. I had an aunt back then, who wasn’t my real, biological aunt, but I always called her aunt anyway and will always think of her as such. And whenever I think about couscous, I immediately think of her. ๐Ÿ˜€ She lived very close to my boarding school, and at some point during nursery, when my Mum realised that I was struggling there and wanted to do something about it, she was looking for a flat or a room to rent there so that she could be closer to me and so that we could live there at least temporarily and some of the time during the year. The prices were really high though in that part of the country and there weren’t that many satisfying offers anyway, and so finally during her search my Mum phoned just another real estate agent, who didn’t have anything to offer for her but felt really moved by our situation as it seemed and offered that, since she lived so close to the boarding school, she could be like my aunt and visit me or I could visit her and perhaps having someone like this would make things easier for me even though it wouldn’t be my actual family. Mum was euphoric, though I remember being rather skeptical about the idea. But it actually turned out to be a great thing, we got along very easily and I grew very attached to her. It wasn’t quite like as if I lived with my family and it didn’t resolve all the problems, but it did make things easier. I absolutely adored spending time in her house which was very different from my ownn or from any houses I had been to so far. I visited her on weekends or we went out somewhere. When my Mum couldn’t be at stuff like different contests, Nativity plays or other such that I might have taken part in, she would often come and cheer me, despite she neither had to nor actually should as she was chronically ill and had something with her immune system so it was a bit risky. When my Mum came to me for the weekend or longer rather than took me home, she let us stay at her home upstairs so we didn’t have to continuously spend the time in the boarding school. She was extremely altruistic, to the point that you could consider it foolish or extremely naive. My family and her had a lot in common, though also at the same time she was very different from them which attracted me all the more to her, and also we both shared a passion for figurines, which I collected at the time, mostly porcelain figurines, and so did she, and we exchanged a lot of our figurines. Sadly though, this relationship didn’t last too long, because over time she felt worse and worse physically and had a lot of familial problems, so couldn’t see me as regularly as she used to, and finally, some two years or so since we first met, she moved out with her daughter to the city. I tried to keep in touch with her and called her infrequently but regularly when I was at home and could do it, as I felt very grateful for what she did to me and knew she was struggling with a lot of things and of course my family also encouraged me to show my gratitude towards her, and she continued to have more and more health issues of her own and also her two granddaughters were very ill. And then at some point we lost touch. Both me and Mum tried to find her, as it seemed like she changed her phone number, and we both wanted to show her our gratitude and perhaps help if possible, but from what we could find out it seemed like she might just as well have moved out somewhere else and we were unable to trace her. So it’s been very many years since we’ve last heard from her and this sucks a lot, as I’d like her to know how very helpful she had been to me, and I’d like to be able to reciprocate somehow. Since she was in her early fifties when we were in touch and as I said she was already struggling a lot with her health, I’m not even sure if she’s still alive.

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

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

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

Hey people! ๐Ÿ™‚

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

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

My answer:

It was a little strange with me because from what I’d always heard from my endocrinologist, it was quite possible for me not to have period due to my pituitary not working quite as it should. So when all or almost all of the other girls in my boarding school group and class were already having period and for me nothing was really changing, at least apparently, I readily and happily assumed that I’m going to be spared and didn’t really care much about periods anymore, and my Mum also assumed I’m not going to have it so that’s better for me. Not that I ever did overly care about periods, it never seemed very creepy or shameful like it does to a lot of girls, I was quite aware of what it was from observing and hearing people and also my Mum talked a lot about it to me, at least what it feels like and what it means and what it’s like in theory, so I knew what to expect. There was a lot of taboo around things like this in my Mum’s family, my grandma is scared of even such words like vagina so Mum herself always wanted it to be clear with me and now with Sofi that, while it’s something extremely intimate, it’s not a taboo or anything shameful. So one day in April I was greeted to an extreme surprise when I woke up – I vaguely remember that I had some exam on that day or something… something to do with music school I believe – and felt all wet and sticky down there. I honestly was convinced it must be something else, just some other kind of discharge, but no! I was a little shocked to learn that it happened after all. But actually it wasn’t even that very late, I don’t remember how old I was exactly, but I couldn’t be older than 14 I guess. Luckily that first visit of Jack the Ripper/Butcher in my life was not particularly painful or intense, which changed quite soon afterwards, but still I think I was rather stressed about it and worried that I won’t be able to manage it well practically, because one thing my Mum didn’t do was that she didn’t show me or explain to me at all what I’m actually supposed to do when having a period, probably because she didn’t seriously think I’d have to bother with it in real life. And I didn’t like having to rely on the boarding school staff ffor assistance with my period hygiene at the beginnings. It took me quite some time, but luckily summer holidays came quite quickly after that so then I had less stress about it and could learn to put a pad in my underwear and not to make everything around messy while I was showering. ๐Ÿ˜€

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

How was it with you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Lxandra – “Swimming Pools”.

Hi lovely people! ๐Ÿ™‚

I have a song from a really cool, young singer for you today. Alexandra Lehti, aka Lxandra, was raised in an inhabited Finnish fortress called Suomenlinna, and has a Finnish father (Pekka Lehti – bassist who played with a fair few bands including a great female folk Vรคrttinรค, and he also seems to be a music producer -) and a German mother. I’ve heard this song for the first time a couple weeks ago and this was my first contact with Lxandra’s music. I really like her vocals, which are often compared with Adele and indeed there is some similarity. This song is about being true to who you are and where you come from, which is something that resonates with me as I feel strongly about cultivating your roots, on all sorts of different levels, and the message in Lxandra’s song seems to be more about our individual roots and background.

Question of the day.

How strict were/are your parents?

My answer:

I have asked you this question last year and answered it, but I just thought as I always do in such cases that I’d post it anyway for the sake of those who are new to my blog or haven’t seen that question and woould like to answer it. So I’ll just go the easy way and copy/paste my response from back then.

My parents were definitely flexible! My Dad likes to think about himself as a very strict parent, but he is only very strict with Olek, with whom he doesnโ€™t have the best relationship so that strictness seems to come more from the place of anger and the need to control than care. As weird as it feels to admit sometimes, for me, and I think for Zofijka too, he doesnโ€™t really have much authority. He likes to tell all of us what we have to do in his view but we never care, sometimes weโ€™ll do it for the peace of mind. My Mum is much more of a role model and an authoritative person for me, even though she was a big softy in raising all of us and with a bit of a tendency to be overprotective. Still, she has her rules, and they were always clear to us, and sometimes she can be pretty strict, but not over the top, just for the sake of being strict and tough, but rather for the sake of being possibly fair. Sheโ€™s always been most flexible with me, using the excuse that I am the most disciplined of all of us, although I donโ€™t think of myself as a very disciplined person and I am not even sure I would like to be one, it certainly makes life easier but also awfully boring, so I think what saves me is that I have some common sense after her, rather than am somehow very disciplined or dutiful or something like that. What was/has been your experience? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day (16th March).

Hey guys! ๐Ÿ™‚

Did you like doing science projects, as a kid?

My answer:

I think it depended what it was about. Some of them were interesting, some not at all. But overall I think I couldn’t say I either loved them, or particularly hated, as I was rather neutral about science subjects in general, except for physics which involved too much math for me to be able to like it. Olek really liked science projects though, and he still has a whole book about chemical experiments that he got as a child. He’s no longer as wildly into it, but he used to, especially if it involved explosions or gross smells of any kind, or stuff like that. ๐Ÿ˜€ That sounds rather geeky, but overall, apart from that one thing, you couldn’t describe him as a geek or nerd, haha.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Working On Us – rejection.

I haven’t participated in Working On Us by Beckie of

Beckie’s Mental Mess

for a while, so I thought I would this week. THe topic of this week’s mental health prompt is rejection.

1. Have you ever been rejected by family/friends because of your mental illness/disorder?

No. I think it’s mostly simply because I usually do not tell people about my mental illness or such things, or if I do it’s very briefly if necessary. I have experienced some negative or invalidating reactions, in particular from my Dad, which often felt very hurtful to me, but I wouldn’t call that rejection. Rather a lack of understanding and flexibility in thinking. My Mum is very supportive in all sorts of practical ways and I wouldn’t do without her, she is also more open-minded than my Dad, she tries to understand it but it’s often not easy for her as she’s never experienced things that I have, and often says hurtful things more or less unintentionally. I used to struggle much more with that but I’ve never thought that it could be their way of rejecting me. Other people are far more likely to reject me because of my blindness than mental illness.

2. Has anyone mistreated you to the point you felt like you were nothing?

Don’t know if it made me exactly feel “as if I were nothing” but I had experienced some emotional abuse at school, particularly from one of the boarding school staff, who was humiliating me in a veiled way and diminishing me and all I did, which caused me a lot of confusion and feelings of inadequacy, and made my self-esteem drop quite a bit, and it never was particularly high. It took me a lot of time, only as an adult, to figure all that out and make some sense of that situation, because for a long time I felt like it kind of wasn’t real and that I perhaps misunderstood her words or actions or something like that. There were also many other situations there where I felt like people were making me feel very shitty about myself but it wasn’t as bad and I think wouldn’t even affect me as much as it did if not my overall life situation – that I was miles away from my family and could never fully adapt there. – When I got older I frequently experienced quite spectacular reactions of people to my disability, like, I assume some people must be terribly afraid of catching optic nerve hypoplasia from me or something, I’ve had people treating me like I was a mass of air. That felt very unpleasant for sure and as if I was nothing to them, but I can’t say I cared very much or felt significantly hurt, it was frustrating and annoying, but more funny than seriously hurtful, it’s funny when people are so silly that they’re so scared of you that they can’t talk coherently when they see you. ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s paradoxical when people are scared of you and you’re a sociophobic.
3. Have you ever confronted the person/persons that have made you feel this way?

No. When it comes to that staff person, I was a child then, I didn’t really feel safe talking to her at all, let alone confronting her, also, I’m sure you guys know how it is with toxic people, emotional abuse and all that. I actually had no clear idea what was going on. I wouldn’t think it was abuse or that she was treating me wrong in any way. First because I was a child, even if fairly intelligent and enjoying observing and analysing people’s behaviours, and second because it’s all always so veiled and subtle, I wouldn’t know how to talk about it to her and not sound irrational or something. I think I would still have trouble in such a situation if it happened to me now, it’s just tricky. I tried talking to another staff member who was a really competent person and whom I quite liked, but she didn’t really get it, I honestly don’t think she believed it because that other woman was always so positive and everyone saw it, so how could she do such things? I only talked to her because my Mum told me to do so.

4. If the answer to #3 is โ€œYesโ€, was anything resolved?

When talking to that staff member didn’t help my Mum talked to her – that other staff member, not the one who was nasty to me – and things have changed a little for good, but not significantly.

5. Has rejection changed you in any way? ieโ€ฆ Self-Esteem, Depression, and/or changed your opinion the way you feel towards the human race as a whole?
Wellyes it did. I have avoidant personality disorder in which fear of being rejected is one of the features, and it often develops in people who have experienced it early in life. I had never thought about it this way, but some time ago my Mum wanted to talk about it and her theory is that when I went to that school (I was 5) I might have felt rejected by my family and confused about what was happening. I just never saw it this way, I always thought it was normal I must be there and that the problem is rather that I can’t adjust there and accept the situation. But perhaps when I was 5 I didn’t understand what it was all about, why I had to be away from home, and why people were coming and going, or taking me home for a few days and then leaving me there again. This theory makes sense to me now. But obviously I don’t blame my parents now or anything like that because I know they didn’t feel like they had a choice and their motive wasn’t that they wanted to get rid of me. But I think such an experience could successfully make me more sensitive to rejection. I wouldn’t say this is the strongest AVPD symptom in me, like that the primary reason why I avoid people, why I struggle with social situations, why I don’t do socialising is because I’m afraid of rejection. I don’t think that’s most important here, though at the same time it’s hard to say what is that core thing, I just think it’s a mixture of loads of things. I’ve heard about many people with this disorder struggling with this particular thing the most of all. For me, I’m not desperate for acceptance from everyone, I won’t typically tell you that I like something just so we would agree and be friends and would like me or I won’t tell you my opinion on something because yours may be different. I don’t go around in search of people who will accept me and if some relationship doesn’t go well or if I see that someone doesn’t really feel the connection I won’t desperately try to keep them. I do value my individuality even if at the same time I hate it because it makes me feel like such a flippin’ alien. I guess when I interact with people, they may see I’m anxious or depressed or such things, but I think I’m pretty good with hiding my AVPD related difficulties in daily life or in casual interactions with people, but perhaps that’s just what I think. I have no problem with, for example, people I know online for a little while when they suddenly stop writing back to me or something, unless there are some other things involved, but when it’s people I feel attached to that reject me or I feel that they reject me it’s crushing. For me, the fear of rejection manifests more in the way that I hate being clingy, for example, I just hate clinginess, both in myself and in other people. I don’t want to feel like a burden for people or someone needy, either emotionally or in any other way, yet I often strongly feel like I am. I often don’t let myself close enough to people I would like to be close with, and keep at least a bit of a distance, ’cause then they can’t reject me. Or if I have a possibility, first I do an in-depth observation and analysis of a person before I start talking to them. With people with whom I am more close with I always sort of have a radar on, which is in a way very yucky and a bit paranoid, I think I have this particular tendency from my Dad, but then again, I’ll do everything for them not to realise that. Often I’m just simply scared of closeness with people. I’ve realised some time ago that I often test people that I meet and that I feel we could be friends, or when I just feel very insecure, I do it often almost unconsciously, kind of automatically. I virtually only realised I’m doing it when I got diagnosed and was reading about it a lot, I had no clearer idea before that. It feels quite yucky too but you do have to protect your brain don’t you? You’ve got only one and when it’s already screwed up to begin with you have to be careful. I suppose they’re not aware of that testing thing, or maybe it’s just my wishful thinking. It feels rather gross when you think about yourself that you’re “testing people”, but that’s true, even if not always fully voluntary. If the test is negative, I have the possibility to retreat before they reject me, it makes me feel more in control of my own life and feelings. I’m often afraid though that I would become attached to someone so much that I won’t be able to notice it in case they would no longer accept me for whatever reason or never truly did, and then they would suddenly reject me without me even being able to prepare for it emotionally in advance and accept it.

6. Or, has rejection done the opposite and made your stronger and more resilient?
I don’t think so, but I do think my tolerance for it has increased over time.

Question of the day.

In childhood, did you ever have extra-curricular instruction (for sports, a musical instrument/singing, or participate in any arts and crafts classes or organisations)? This may or may not be related with school.

My answer:

While at the school for the blind, we all had a lot of extra-curricular activities which weren’t always associated with our schooling, but more with the rehabilitation thing. Like, all of us had some mobility training which we simply called “spatial orientation”, which involved learning some routes, using techniques for walking with and without white cane, but also some other life skills not necessarily always closely related to mobility. Many people, including me, had so called corrective gymnastics, I had that mostly for my shortened Achilles tendons. All of us went swimming twice a week after school. Things like that were sort of basic there. I remember I really didn’t like going to the swimming pool, it always stressed me out for some reason, so I looked for any way of skipping that, which was easy since I seemed to have some skin reaction to the chlorine and my Mum didn’t want me to absorb too much chlorine because she read somewhere that people with hypothyroidism (which I had) shouldn’t get too much of it. I really love being in the water, so it’s not that I am afraid of it or something. I love being in the sea or river, I just still have that crazy aversion to swimming pools which I don’t really understand, I would just never go to a swimming pool voluntarily, unless an open one, like Zofijka has. But I hate the in-door swimming pools.

When at the nursery, all of us had horse riding, which I wrote about earlier, that I was so scared of and then started to love to bits, haha. I also ended up getting into the music school, which was a bit accidental. As I wrote even in the last question of the day post, I did a lot of singing there, also on stage. I was taking part in some sort of contest and I had a lot of rehearsals and preparations for that. I guess, being at the age of 5 or 6, I must have been sort of confused whether it was a temporary thing or if I was to have those rehearsals regularl even after the contest, and at some point I asked one of the staff out of curiosity if I’ll be still having that. She was puzzled and said that I’d better ask our… OMG how do you call it in English…? rhythmicity teacher…? People make up really weird subjects, even for nursery children lol. Anyway, she told me to ask her, because she was working at music school, so she would know, or would get in touch with that tutor who was preparing me for that contest earlier. So I did, And the rhythmicity teacher asked me which instrument I was learning to play with that lady. I was very confused, I was just singing. But after a while, not knowing what I should say, I said piano, because she played piano, so I thought maybe that was what the teacher asked me about. And she was like: “Oh, but she doesn’t teach piano…” and she told me that she will talk to the teacher who did teach piano and get her to work with me. And, although I hadn’t ever think about learning to play piano,a week afterwards I met my teacher, who was a lovely and cheerful young woman, with whom I loved to chat with, especially about the Parpills (the creatures I made up), but the whole piano learning thing was super strenuous. I found it really difficult, technically, to repeat more complex things that she asked me or showed me to do. Then after a few years, when I was in primary, that nice teacher had to go on maternity leave and I never worked with her again, instead, I was assigned an older lady, who was very sophisticated and serious, and super calm and had the patience of a saint, which was probably life-saving for us both. Most of the girls in my group at the boarding school were in the music school and quite a few were very passionate and serious about that so I sort of felt like I should too, and once I very carelessly shared one of my dreams with my Mum. Not my real big dreams, you know, just a little, funny daydream I once had that didn’t mean anything, because I’ve had daydreams about being a hundred and one things in my life, and it doesn’t immediately mean that’s what I would seriously like to do for my whole life. Dreams are fun because you can pop in and out of them when you want. My daydream that I shared with my Mum was influenced by a book I read. For a while I wanted to be like the main character in that book – a 30-something sophisticated, elegant mummy with a big family of six children living in a mansion, who was very artistic and liked to play piano for her family’s entertainment. –
I had to hear about that little dream of mine for the next three years until I finally couldn’t take it anymore, my extended family seriously thought I could play the piano, and I felt like an imposter, and I was just frustrated with it and with myself and I quit. The more that that year I had to get my corrective gymnastics hours increased because the creepy shadow of Grice-Green’s surgery was hanging over my feet and the last thing I felt like focusing on was freaking piano. ๐Ÿ˜€ Some time afterwards I quit the singing thing for good as well, for a mixture of reasons but I guess mostly because it wasn’t my thing any longer. I only sing in the shower now or for Misha’s entertainment who seems to like it for some reason. I later tried learning guitar at home during holidays with my aunt’s acquaintance, mostly to please my Mummy but also because I had a glimmer of hope it could get better this time. Piano felt like a very sophisticated instrument, but I’d heard from lots of people that guitar is easy, and knew people without much talent for music who learned to play some tunes by heart, so I thought if it’s so easy, and since I did have an ear for music, perhaps I could master it too. It didn’t work like that. After four months I was definitely getting it at the brain level pretty well,but couldn’t repeat any of the chords completely on my own properly without at least some instructions or assistance. I wasn’t too disappointed though, just came to the conclusion that being a listener is much more fit for me than being a creator of music. If we all only made our own music, no one would listen to it, I guess. I also had other classes as part of my musical education for a while, which lasted for too short to give me very much knowledge, but I appreciate that experience because I did get some knowledge or understanding of music that I would probably never get otherwise, so while I don’t know nearly as much as someone who completed music school, I also guess I have a bit more insight than an average person would. And later on I was taking part in music therapy which was extremely helpful and relaxing for my brain which was one big nervous wreck at the time haha.

When I left that school to try the integration school out, my Mum made me a surprise organising horse riding lessons for me, which was scary like hell at first for me, but as you know I discovered very soon how much I in fact love horse riding. During my second year there, at 4th grade, I somehow ended up in a theatre club. I really don’t remember how I got in there. I guess it must have been something like that everyone had to pick an after school activity or something? And my Polish teacher was running it so I guess I got in there thanks to her. I really didn’t like it here. Neither did Olek, who also took part in it, well I suppose he must have disliked it even more, I had at least some experience with such things so could grit my teeth and get on with it, but when you’re new to it and not into it… sucks. I’ve had people telling me that I have some acting skills, which at first made me snort out with laughter, but when even my Mum said that I started to think about this more seriously. I like to play pretend with Zofijka, I am good at mimicking accents, I guess, and that’s what people say, but it’s been mostly Polish people saying that to me about English accents so they might as well have no idea, the more that Polish people usually have nasty accents in English, even if they are fluent. And I like to mimic people and how they act too. The thing is, I have to be really chilled and comfortable to do that. Every time I took part in a play on stage, I was stiff as a stick. And while I have mostly very good memory, I don’t do well with absorbing stuff like learning a poem by heart, or a word list in another language in specific order, or lines for a play. I always struggled a bit with that. I remember standing on a stage for hours after school, which always made me dizzy because it was so high and I was like “What if I fall from these stairs?!”, ravenously hungry and stressed, and I know so was Olek. We were doing a nativity play that year, and I was Mary, and hated it with my every brain cell. When we were finally performing in front of the whole school and parents and all, the power was out and mics weren’t working, and we all had to yell our lines, which I remember clearly because I had a bit of a cold that day and my throat was aching so that wasn’t fun. ๐Ÿ˜€ And I remember having high-heel shoes (did Mary seriously go all the way to Bethlehem pregnant in high-heel shoes), which was a really bad idea because I felt even more unsteady and panicky. ๐Ÿ˜€ But the whole thing seems rather hilarious to me now.

That’s also where my saga of my math compensatory classes (is that how you call it?) started.

At some point during my education at that school, my Mum found a teacher for me, via some local newspaper, with whom I had Swedish, as I always wanted. I loved that to pieces!

I had to go back to the “blind” school in the end, so all my jolly horse riding and Swedish adventures took a backseat because I wasn’t able to take part in them as often anymore, and then they finally all completely disappeared leaving me in a lot of distress (especially the fact that I couldn’t have Swedish) that I managed to sort of suppress and not think about but any time something reminded me about Swedish language I was enormously frustrated.

Instead there was some project funded by EU at our school in which I was chosen to take part and learn English via Callan method, together with some of my groupmates. I guess all of us disliked it because it was really boring, and looking at it now, I really wonder where that decision came from and why they chose Callan method, because I guess it’s the most ridiculous language learning method on the Earth. I mean, it certainly must have been of use in the circumstances in which it was created – for soldiers, to quickly learn the language, I guess soldiers do not need to be incredibly fluent, but just say what they need to say and learn as much as possible as fast as possible. – It’s basically that you memorise loads of grammar rules and learn loads of artificial sentences from the textbooks, no flexibility or anything like that. ANd I don’t think it gave me anything special, was just a waste of our time, and waste of the precious funds of the EU. We really liked to skip those classes if that was possible for any of us, but they emphasised it very much that we shouldn’t because they were paid in advance, so I guess it’s a pity they weren’t a bit more useful.

Basically as you can see we were able to have lots of extra activities there so it’s possible there was something else that I don’t remember now.

When I got out of there I could finally breathe with relief and restart my Swedish and horse riding after my depression got more manageable (the horse riding I still have even though I’m not in school anymore, though I’m having a hiatus again). I also had extra English classes at home for a while, I felt like I needed them to be as well prepared for my English finals as I could, and I happened to get a really really chatty teacher so I really got to talk a lot with him in English, which I liked and which probably helped me to get that 100% result at oral English, not even because I learned that very much from him but because I gained more confidence in that and could speak even more freely. Oh and I also had my poor math tutor, who was courageously teaching me all the stuff we had at college plus helping me immensely with exam preparations. I liked her as a person, but those lessons with her I sometimes still get in my dreams – that I am sitting there and don’t know how to resolve some ridiculously weird equation or something and we both get more and more frustrated and hours are passing and I feel like punching and throwing everything around – really stupid topic for a dream isn’t it?

So that’s it from me, phew, quite a lot, as I can now see. ๐Ÿ˜€ I really appreciate it now that I can decide on it myself what I want to invest my time in, although some of those experiences were really interesting.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day (26th August).

Hey people. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s my another question for you:

Throughout childhood, did you seek to have a specific profession (perhaps different professions during different periods) once reaching adulthood? Did this change once you passed beyond high school?

My answer:

I had multiple ideas throughout my childhood as for what I wanted to be as an adult, but it rarely or never was very clear, like, I’m sure I want to be this, and I will do anything to make it happen. And, in fact, the older I got, the more blurred my ideas were getting, due to many factors. When I was in nursery, so in my case from the age 5, I really loved singing. I don’t know where I got that from, I certainly had some skill for it but I have an impression this could be that stereotype that, you know, blind people are always good at music, and my family picked it up and so I did too. But whatever the cause of that, I liked it at the time, and whenever someone would ask me about what I wanted to be in the future, I’d say I would like to either be a singer, or a musician, or perhaps even a dancer, and that I didn’t want to have babies, because when women want a baby, they can have it, but they don’t have to when they don’t want. ๐Ÿ˜€ Around the same time though (I have a feeling I might have written about that somewhere on my blog earlier), I got some weird dream or an imagining or whatever it was. I was lying in bed at night in the nursery and almost falling asleep, or perhaps I was already somewhere between asleep and awake, and I know that a while earlier I was thinking about how it feels like to be an adult, and that I guess I wouldn’t like to be. And then, I saw myself as an adult, in a really huge kitchen. I was about to prepare a meal I guess, and I was all surrounded with little children and toddlers clinging to me. But the most weird and vivid thing for me that I remember the best in that little scene was the sense of hopelessness and despair I felt, and that I didn’t know what to do, like at all, with myself, with those kids, with that damn meal, it was frustrating, I was lost and confused and like people are expecting something from me but I didn’t know what and how to do it. I think it had to be a really powerful image because it stayed with me for years and when I was a kid, whenever I heard the word “adult”, that was what first came to my mind, and I still have that association somewhere in my brain.

When I was older, I wanted to be a writer, which has always been quite an appealing thing to me and I’ve always loved writing, I also had a stage when I wanted to be a psychologist, I guess as in therapist, and then for quite a while I also wanted to be a sound engineer or a music producer, which eventually led me to getting a chance to try my hand at the former for a couple years in an online academic radiostation where my friend Jacek (the one from Helsinki, but back then from Poland) volunteered, even though I wasn’t a student at his uni, but he managed to get me in there. Was loads of fun, but I realised I wasn’t enough into it to do it full time. I also wanted to do something with linguistics, like be somehow involved in creating speech synthesis for example, as it’s definitely something that is hugely based on linguistics and they need people who know something about specific languages and phonetics stuff in general.

When I met my horse riding instructor, who is also a neurologist and knows a whole lot about the brain and loads of other interesting things about horses and humans, and after I spent some time with her, it slowly dawned on me that had I been sighted, I’d definitely have to be a neurosurgeon, I’ve also read some really interesting books about the brain at that time as well as about the beginnings of neurosurgery. But obviously since I’m blind that was out of question, and while it was and still is a fun dream for me, since it’s not a realistic one, I don’t think about it outside of the dream zone anymore at all.

I’ve fell in love with harp along the way and I had a really strong phase when I wanted to become a harpist, but at the same time, having tried two instruments before and not being able to learn to play any of them really well because of coordination issues and such, I was too scared to try in case I would be disappointed, because then I’d be disappointed really hard, and since it was Celtic harp I was dreaming about, there weren’t even any tutors in my area for that instrument, and it would be even more unthinkable for me to learn on my own.

Then I got a chance to finally do more with my languages and finally I’ve embraced what people have been telling me for ages, probably just because it was the only idea that popped into their mind as for what a blind person could do (apart from being a musician or a massage therapist) that I should become a translator. It wasn’t too appealing to me before, because the only idea of a translator I had in my mind was someone who follows you everywhere in a foreign country if you are a VIP and translates your every word and translates what people say to you. I never knew how they managed to do it – remember what someone is saying and translate it in their brain and then tell it the other person in the other language so quickly – and I couldn’t imagine myself doing that. –
Oral translating, especially simultaneous, is still like black magic to me, but I like the idea of doing written translations. I also discovered for good how in love I was with Celtic languages and cultures and wanted to do something with it. I didn’t really know what I could do after Celtic studies, apart from making another translation of Mabinogion or something like that, but I wanted to study Celtic studies. And I think I would probably do that, if not the fact that the two universities in Poland where they were available were very far away from me, and I completely didn’t feel like going to the other end of the country again, not even for the Celtic studies, and didn’t feel it would be realistic for me to live there independently. There were Celtic studies at University of Wales Trinity St. David that I really really really wanted to apply for, because they sounded like just for me, but after some investigation their e-learning environment turned out not to be very accessible, and later on I realised that they were MA studies so I couldn’t do them straight away after finals. And then I didn’t have to worry about my Celtic studies anymore because, quite as I supposed it could be, I didn’t pass the math final exam, and failed in a big way at it. I decided that at least for now I am not going to rewrite it, as you may already know. But still I think it’s not unrealistic for me to become a translator or something like this. I might rewrite that exam at some point, or even if not, I still know a couple languages, and as my Swedish teacher had always told me, knowing about all my other issues, no one would need a piece of paper to confirm that, and no one can tell me I can’t speak a language if they see I do. I am also slowly working on my translations of the poems of Cornelis Vreeswijk’s, I’m never happy with them and my feelings about whether I should ever show them to the wider audience or not are ever fluctuating, so we’ll see. I am, as you also probably know, also working as a secretary/office worker in my Dad’s company, which I feel very lucky about, and which I don’t think my childhood self would ever guess to happen. ๐Ÿ˜€

How was it with you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day (25th August).

Hi guys. ๐Ÿ™‚

I was feeling shitty all day yesterday so didn’t even write anything, so here’s the overdue question for you, another childhood related one.

Did you like school? Are there reasons that you liked/disliked it?

My answer:

Who likes school? Not me anyway. Okay, at the beginning of my education I liked school somewhat, just except having to stay at the boarding school and except all the stressful stuff. It was stressful and challenging but I guess I liked learning. But it didn’t last long. Things were becoming more and more stressful, and I realised that, at least most of the time, creativity isn’t very well seen, and that most of the time it’s just either boring or freakishly abstractive for my brain, and that it was becoming more and more rare that what I learned at school would be either interesting or significantly beneficial/useful to me and bring something new into my life. I much preferred to learn things myself, things that I found interesting, although that wasn’t always possible, or not to a big degree. I didn’t do socialising literally at all at the beginning, then with years I learned to engage with people a bit more but it was very superficial. At the beginning of primary I remember I loved learning Polish and especially English, with English I stopped loving it as a subject very quickly because we happened to have a teacher that no one of us really liked who wasn’t too approachable or likeable, and then for the next year or two we had in turn a very meek teacher who was a lovely person but couldn’t even have much control over the class, and wasn’t demanding at all so things were either boring or chaotic on her lessons. And most of the time I didn’t have luck with English teachers, no matter in which school I was, I had only a few pretty good ones, and I’ve had fair few of them haha. Polish I loved for longer, as long as I was allowed to write elaborate stuff on topics I liked or that I felt comfortable with and could read at least mostly what I liked or stuff that we were reading for school was interesting. I think I started to get seriously disheartened by Polish in 4th grade but still was fairly good at it, and still there were things I liked about it. But, as you hopefully know, at least if you’ve been here for a while, neither English or Polish as a subject has ever discouraged me from liking those languages as such, although it was very close to it with English at some point and I had to rediscover it for myself a bit and, in a way, relearn it in my own way. I never cared much for grades, neither good nor bad, and I was not a perfectionist at school matters whatsoever, though the bigger tests usually really scared me and with time I did started to feel slightly inferior because of my math dilemmas, but only a bit. I hated that they wanted me to be good at everything (thankfully my Mum didn’t and was pissed off with that approach when she found out there is such so I didn’t want to be good at everything either). I guess I must have some sort of ability to learn things reasonably quickly, which was a bit weird but which really saved me at school, because I didn’t like studying hard, I mean repeating what we had at school and just spending more time than necessary with school stuff, I only did homework and repeated things very superficially before tests if I felt like I could fail spectacularly or if I needed to do reasonably good. I just never like to spend too much time doing boring things that I don’t have much interest in. I had to change that approach when preparing to my finals and spend horrendous amounts of time preparing to my math exam, but, as it seems, even studying really hard can’t always save you. ๐Ÿ˜€ So, especially as time went by, there were less and less things I liked at school. I was constantly stressed and depressed, having trouble engaging with people and doing a lot of daily prosaic stuff because of various things that I was struggling with, I was awfully neurotic and just hated school with a passion. Somehow I guess though that most of the time I at least managed to keep the impression that I’m doing well, unless someone was a bit more perceptive but I didn’t want people to see, or see as little as possible. I’ve also always been scared of changes, and at school you get a whole lot of them sometimes.

When I was 17, I got out of the school for the blind permanently and for a year that I had left until starting college, or however else you’d call it in your country, I was having individual education at my local school, where my brother was going to. My dream was always to be homeschooled, but I knew that was hardly possible, so I was happy that the psychiatrist who saw me at the time agreed with my Mum and therapist and the headmaster of that school who felt I could benefit from doing that year in individual education. And my poor teachers would benefit too, they weren’t really prepared for me appearing suddenly and I know most of them were deadly scared of the prospect of teaching a blind student. So I think it was easier for them doing it just with me than in the class, if it felt so challenging for them. And that year was the best year at school for me. I am sure that had I been at that school all the time it wouldn’t be a good decision, but I sort of regretted I didn’t come there earlier. I discovered that – while I was reasonably good at most subjects before – I was doing much better when learning one to one, and also I liked that I could really get to know my teachers well and they could get to know me well. I had exams at the end of that year, before going to college, but I don’t remember being very stressed about them. I was, a bit, for sure, but not quite as much as I was before previous or later major exams. I only remember finishing the syllabus for most of the subjects ridiculously quickly and reading my Vreeswijk’s poems translations or my short stories to my Polish teacher during our lessons and such. They really liked me there and I liked them. Sometimes I came to Olek’s classroom and had had lessons with the class (we were in the same class even though he’s two years younger than me because I had two years delay) and I kinda got along with a few girls in there even though they didn’t even know where people speak Finnish but oh well, never mind. I had a whole big classroom just to myself where I had all the lessons, and I remember passionately reading “Outsider” by Colin Wilson during most breaks while listening to music on the headphones so, if you know me, you’d figure out I was pretty chilled there, as for my standards. ๐Ÿ˜€ So yeah, that school I did like.

Then I went to that weekend school for adults, which was just boring. I also found it hard to socialise with people, especially with most of the teachers, those who seemed to be plain scared of me or something like that. I was really struggling with math stuff, and the rest was usually quite boring. I had one good friend who was helping me with things like getting around which made it all much easier for me, and I had some other fun people in the class too though a lot of people were dropping out or coming as they pleased since it was a college for adults so no one could pressure them to do anything really, and many folks got some benefits at work or something like this when they were learning at the same time so they enrolled often just for the sake of it. It all felt a bit artificial for me but then school is generally one big faking in so many ways for me so I was just trying to get through that period as best I could. At some point my Mum got tired of driving me back and forth and I was tired of sitting in the class while they were looking at slideshows or doing something from a textbook that I didn’t have and we collaboratively decided to ask my teachers if I could do the learning at home and just come in for exams and such. They all agreed with great relief, and promised profusely to send me what they are doing in class and the topics of the assignments and dates of the exams, but then I had to send them countless emails asking for that and that was rather yucky and resulted in a couple situations where I knew just last minute that I had an exam coming up or wrote an assignment a day before the due date. I hated that and it annoyed me like shit but overall when I stopped having to go to school every weekend life became a bit easier practically, and even more so for my Mum.

So that’s it, my experience with school, quite eventful, but mostly miserable, and made me feel really spiteful towards the whole education system, so that if someone wants to rant about it, I am always open and happy to chime in, just for the sake of it. Though Mum claims I am intoxicating Zofijka with my spite when doing it with her. I’m not sure I even care, is that awful of me? Zofijka mostly thinks what I do anyway, and comes with her school troubles to me a lot of the time, and I have to get my shit out somewhere finally too.

How much did you hate school? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

Did you share bedroom with any siblings?

My answer:

Yes, for some years. The first house that we lived in was in the countryside, we shared the same backyard with my maternal grandparents and my Mum’s two sisters and their gradually developing and growing families. My grandad has built this house for my Mum. It was pretty small. There was a kitchen, a mini bathroom, and a living room, and from the living room you could go upstairs. There was one big, sort of open plan room and we all lived there, that is my parents, me and Olek. Me and Olek slept in one part of it, and my parents in the other. Strangely, as much as I’ve always had an enormous need for privacy, this particular thing rarely bothered me much. In a way I even liked it because it was easier to deal with my night time anxieties when I had my family all around, and my Dad snoring his lungs out every night (now I couldn’t sleep with that level of noise). Sure, I liked the idea of having my own room and I envied a little bit other kids who did, though I also remember that it was normal to me to not have your own room, and I remember feeling genuinely surprised hearing from other children for example at school that they have their own rooms. It wasn’t something I desperately wanted or dreamt about every night though. I think it was also good because then it let me get used to sharing bedrooms with roommates at school, which is a different thing than sharing a room with your family but I think it made it easier for me than if I went to school without having that experience before, especially with my need for privacy and adjustment issues I had there. Some time before my Mum was pregnant with Sofi, at least a year before Sofi but I think it must have been a few years, my parents got an idea of building a new house, technically on the roof of my grandparents, and a much bigger one. This whole thing lasted for years, because they had real bad luck with the people they hired and other stuff kept going wrong, it was really exhausting and affected all of us in a bad way, I wouldn’t believe building a new house could affect your entire life and your whole family like that if someone told me and if I didn’t know from my own experience, I thought we would always be just building it and will never really move in there, as I said I don’t even remember in which year or at what time it had started because it felt like we’d been building that house since forever. And then when Zofijka was 2 months we moved to our new house very spontaneously, though it still wasn’t fully finished, and I had my own room there, and at this point, I can’t imagine sharing a room with someone else all the time, not even a sibling.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

Here’s another childhood/family related question I have for you.

Were you closer to one of your parents than another? Has it changed in your adulthood?

My answer:

It was differently at different times. I had a long time as a kid when I was closer to my Dad. He was, and still is, though not to such a degree as in the past, getting along with me the best of all of his children, which, as I later learned, was largely due to the fact that I was blind. I hated it so now I’m no more as close to him personally because I find it a weird reason to favour one of your children more than the rest because she’s blind and not at home most of the time. ๐Ÿ˜€ But before I found out that little piece of info, and especially when I was a little child, we used to spend a lot of time together, he even played with me, went to the beach just with me, we had quite a lot of things to talk about and were almost on the same wavelength. My Mum was more neurotic at that time, and while I definitely loved her, I wasn’t as much into being around her as she was easily irritated and not as fun to talk to. Then things somehow changed, and that thing I learned did influence it too, and our relationship with Dad became somewhat distant and still is a bit. But I think even without that thing about my blindness, it’s really hard to interact with my Dad, he is a good person, but has a really difficult character, gets incredibly suspicious easily and is very hypersensitive and now it’s him who is way more irritable than Mum, you just have to tiptoe around him, never criticise and always do what he wants if you want things to stay calm, so sometimes it’s better to not interact at all for a while. My relationship with my Mum has deepened a lot since my adolescence but especially in the last 5 years since I got out of the boarding school and we’ve both opened up a lot to each other and, well, are just spending more time with each other now when it is possible. We are in a lot of ways like friends, or in any case best listeners for each other haha, even if we don’t really understand each other in all things. And we always have stuff to talk about. I don’t know if something with me has been going on or if my Dad’s bad traits and annoying habits have worsened over the last year or so but recently our relationship has been really suffering, at least from my point of view. I feel really annoyed by him most of the time, he just pisses me off, so I prefer to avoid him sometimes in order not to let my irritation show too much. I frequently catch myself feeling relief when he’s going to work for a few days, or looking forward to him leaving for longer, and then I feel like a monster for feeling so, because it doesn’t seem to have any particularly strong reason other than he gets on my nerves, sometimes just with his presence.

How about you and your parents? ๐Ÿ™‚

Ina Wroldsen – “Mother”.

Hi hi people! ๐Ÿ™‚

So, this song, for me, is that kind of song which lyrics are just so ridiculously, creepily or comfortingly – depending from which angle you choose to look at it – relatable to you and describing you, your life and various situations you’ve been through, as if someone just broke into your flamin’ brain and wrote about your feelings. I hear so often that people say things like “Oh God, this song is just about me!” or such things, but to me it actually doesn’t happen very often, not to such an extent that I could literally sign myself with all my limbs under the lyrics, although I did have my personal song as a child and teen, which was “Evacuee” by Enya. This one is vastly different from Enya’s music, but no less relatable to me, maybe even more relatable to me in a way because, thankfully, I no longer have to relate to that child in “Evacuee”, and this song by Ina Wroldsen describes my feelings and my life and my relationships with people in so many more ways, not just a part of my life as it is with “Evacuee”.

Ina Wroldsen is a Norwegian singer, she is very popular in her country and in Scandinavia but also in other European countries, collaborating with many DJ’s and such, I am pretty sure that I must have heard her somewhere earlier before I discovered it for myself, as for example her song “Strongest” was a real hit. I discovered her for myself when I started to listen to more Norwegian music, largely by accident, but I never was very crazy on her, just another cool Norwegian artist out there, a bit too normal for me to like her really really much. ๐Ÿ˜€

Sometimes I focus on lyrics of my favourite songs, sometimes I don’t. Usually I focus more on those I like more, and when something is just cool but normal I tend to only focus on the music, since it rarely has very striking lyrics anyway. And so was when I first heard “Mother” last year. But at some point while listening to it I focused much more and thought: “Huh, these lyrics sound familiar”, as in, something I knew from my own experience and from my own brain. ๐Ÿ˜€ And, seriously, when I listened to the song thoroughly, just everything felt so so much like me. And not at all only in regards to the time where I was at the boarding school and struggling with a lot of stuff and wanted outa there, and not only even in relation to my own Mum. Some verses, that I’m sure were written more metaphorically, were about me in such an absurdly literal way that I just had to laugh, other were more metaphorical. I could find descriptions of my relationships with important people in my life in it and things I’ve been through, and pretty much my entire life in a way, but especially my childhood. It feels odd and crazy! And, as always when I find a song that is even somewhat relatable for me in any way, I am still so very curious what inspired Ina to write it, although I believe it was a piece written collaboratively with some other people. While it speaks to me in such an incredible, almost eerie way, I also think that most people are able to find something about themselves in it, as is the case with some songs. I hope you enjoy it anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

Hi guys. ๐Ÿ™‚

My question of the day for you is again about your childhood. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you were raised by both your parents or more than one guardian, did one of your parents seem more lax and the other more strict?

My answer:

In a way, yes. As I wrote in my answer to yesterday’s question, my Dad likes to make an impression of someone very strict and tough, so you could say he was more strict, or at least much less flexible than Mum. But I think it very much depended on a situation. In some situations my Mum would be much more lax than Dad, while in others Dad would be perhaps not lax as such but he wouldn’t be as involved and wouldn’t care that much what we were doing as Mum would.

How was it in your family? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

I have some questions for you on the topic of childhood now. Here’s the one I picked for today. ๐Ÿ™‚

Were your parents/guardians flexible or strict?

My answer:

My parents were definitely flexible! My Dad likes to think about himself as a very strict parent, but he is only very strict with Olek, with whom he doesn’t have the best relationship so that strictness seems to come more from the place of anger and the need to control than care. As weird as it feels to admit sometimes, for me, and I think for Zofijka too, he doesn’t really have much authority. He likes to tell all of us what we have to do in his view but we never care, sometimes we’ll do it for the peace of mind. My Mum is much more of a role model and an authoritative person for me, even though she was a big softy in raising all of us and with a bit of a tendence to be overprotective. Still, she has her rules, and they were always clear to us, and sometimes she can be pretty strict, but not over the top, just for the sake of being strict and tough, but rather for the sake of being possibly fair. She’s always been most flexible with me, using the excuse that I am the most disciplined of all of us, although I don’t think of myself as a very disciplined person and I am not even sure I would like to be one, it certainly makes life easier but also awfully boring, so I think what saves me is that I have some common sense after her, rather than am somehow very disciplined or dutiful or something like that.

What was/has been your experience? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

Who taught you to read?

My answer:

Since despite multiple attempts and good will my parents have never learnt Braille, moreover, doubted I’ll be able to learn it when I was little, I learnt to read at school, as I think the vast majority of blind people would. In spite their doubts, it really didn’t take me that much time to master it. I didn’t like reading at the beginning, but once I’ve become more fluent at it I grew to love it and my teacher was actually saying I read way too quickly and too much (no idea where the boundary between enough and too much lies in this case ๐Ÿ˜€ ). Nevertheless, when she found out that I feel slightly bored with the stuff we had to read at school, for some time she wrote little stories for me that I could practice reading during longer school breaks when I was at home, they were all – just as I wanted it – about a little boy named Jacek. These weren’t hard to read either, especially that I would tell the whole plot to her earlier so she’d know what to write, and I was actually the one making them up, but at least that was fun and not boring and felt quite special to me. ๐Ÿ˜€ I guess though that with time it became a bit of a pain in the neck for her, haha, so I had to move on and start writing stories myself which turned out to be even more fun as no one would understand my ideas as well as I do!

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

Hi guys! ๐Ÿ™‚

This is my question for you today:

When was the first time you remember feeling really angry?

My answer:

I generally wasn’t the type of a child that would easily get angry, not in my very early years anyway, later it started to look a bit different, when I would bottle it all up and then my brain would suddenly throw it all out at once and I’d feel out of control, but when I was very small I remember I was actually wondering why people get so angry so often about everything, and how do they do it, like as if I didn’t even know how to be properly angry. ๐Ÿ˜€ Yet my very first childhood memory is all about anger. The first thing in my life that I remember is when Olek was born. I was 2 then, and some people tried to persuade me that children don’t remember things at that young age, but, well, turns out that I do, at least this one thing, maybe because of how intense it felt. Mum was in the hospital, and me and Dad came to visit her. I remember clearly when we came in to the hospital and then we were in a very creaky lift and I was a bit scared because I felt dizzy in it. Mum was on her own in the hospital room and we were both very happy to see each other. Olek, like me and Zofijka, was born through C-section, and she showed me her belly, and I saw the wound and all, it looked horrid, and I remember she had a big needle close to her tummy, I don’t even know what it was for, but, at least then, it looked huge to me and it was all just awful, and I was feeling absolutely, seriously mad at that horrible creature who did that to her, I think good for him that he wasn’t there. I was mad at him for hurting my Mummy, and for taking her away from me. I don’t remember anymore of that, but when me and Olek were kids, we weren’t really like typical siblings – yes we played a bit with each other, and yes we argued like all siblings, especially sisters and brothers do, but I didn’t really like him at all, and I didn’t feel anything positive towards him, I was indifferent to him at best. – And, while I don’t remember those things, my parents recall that I would often come over to him and start to beat him with something, or wouldn’t let him play with me or with my things, or wouldn’t talk to him etc. I was real nasty to him. And we still don’t really have much of a relationship at all, which kinda sucks, and is definitely weird, and we both feel pretty awkward around each other and mostly only talk casually. But I no longer beat him, I’d be afraid to do that as he’s at least 30 cm taller than me. ๐Ÿ˜€ And it’s not that we don’t like each other now, just don’t have a close bond I guess. But while it seems slightly weird, especially given that I have a much more strong bond with Zofijka who is 10 years younger than me, I guess not all siblings have to have a great relationship.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

Hi people! ๐Ÿ™‚

When was the first time you remember feeling accomplished about something?

My answer:

Well, I guess I don’t remember which one could be the first time… I used to take part in many song competitions and such as a small child, so maybe something in relation to this. I especially liked our local song contest, where I competed with children from a special needs school in a neighbouring town, who were all multiply disabled often including intellectual disability, in contrast to me as I have only one disability per se, and I always won those contests, which wasn’t difficult for me at all, and I guess it wasn’t even that very fair as the jury were kinda biased towards me, haha, so not much challenge at all. So I always came back home from there with a big basket of sweets and we’d have a month or so of devouring horrendous amounts of them every day with Olek. Although now I wonder why they actually got me in there and then always made me a winner whether rightly or not rather than give more chances to the children at that school, and not make them compete with someone who had completely different kind of difficulties than them, I guess some people, even those in the field of disabilities, still think that a disability is just a disability and it doesn’t matter if you’re using a wheelchair, are blind, mentally ill or having a rare disease, it’s all the same for them, which is stupid. At least not all people are like this nowadays.

What’s the first accomplishment that you can remember? ๐Ÿ™‚