Question of the day.

   Today’s question of the day is courtesy of Meg

  Were you ever afraid of anything as a child that turned out to (probably) not exist? 

   My answer: 

   That’s an interesting question from my perspective, because I guess I could say yes and no. 😀 Let me find Misha before I continue though, I don’t want to get the creeps. 

   Okay, Misha’s here sleeping now. The biggest fear of my childhood, that is still very much a thing, were definitely all things that had something to do with my sensory anxiety. I feared a lot of different sounds, sequences of sounds etc. even some words or clusters of language sounds, that for one reason or another sounded kind of weird to me and didn’t agree with my brain. It could be even a very normal sound for the rest of the world, no horror soundtracks or anything like that required, but to me it would feel super scary and often in a very personally threatening, aggressive way. Like I said, it’s still a thing, although I was even more sensitive to that as a child. When I heard a sound like that, as a small child, I would often start screaming and shrieking, and sometimes would run away from it, or if it scared me totally shitless it happened to me a few times that I would just flop down on the floor right where I stood because the fear made me feel so weak and like someone turned my legs off simultaneously with that sound appearing. 😀 Later on when I started bottling up my feelings and all that I wouldn’t shriek anymore but hearing something creepy in that way typically made me freeze for a little moment, and still does, which is really annoying as you can’t remove yourself from it or anything. Then after I’d hear something like that, it would get stuck in my brain and be particularly intrusive whenever it would be silent around me or whenever I wouldn’t have much to do, like right before sleep or something like that. Simultaneously, my brain would also make up a sort of personification of that sound, like what they looked like more or less, were they a man or a woman, how scary they would be and in what way exactly etc. etc. etc. The most prominent one in my early childhood was a woman whom, for the purpose of this post, we’ll call «Victoria», who was the personification of all the radio jingles from one particular local radio station that doesn’t exist anymore but all their jingles were super scary to me and were all the worse that that  station had an interesting approach to them, playing them mid-songs and mid-everything, so they could pop up literally anytime. My Dad really liked that radio station, and although it wasn’t very easy to get hold of in our specific area, as it was geared more towards West Pomerania, my Dad put a can over the antenna in his car and this way he could receive it with only minimal disruption. I had a bit of an ambivalent relationship with that radio station, because while its jingles were super scary, as a child I was also very much into radio, which manifested itself, among other things, in that I got always super excited when I could get hold of a station that wasn’t normally or easily reachable in our area, and this was definitely the case with that one. As for «Victoria» though, she was a very tall, super strong and rather androgynous woman, who wore loads of clinking jewellery and was very brash and unpredictable and, unlike her equally prominent successor, was very intelligent and constantly found other, different ways of tormenting Bibiel. It feels like she’s always been there because I don’t remember a specific moment when she came to life or when I’d first heard that radio station, so I guess I must have been very young when my mind created her. She was super loud and aggressive. After that radio station morphed into a different one, I never heard that sound again until much later when we tried to do exposure therapy with my therapist, but she still stayed the dominant figure in the murky corner of my Brainworld for quite a while. Then when I was a pre-teen she was replaced by «Ian», which is also not his actual name but obviously I’m not gonna share that (writing this post is already making me feel way too jittery, thank God for Misha 😀 ), although she hasn’t disappeared completely to this day. And «Ian” is mostly a personification of a word, which unfortunately exists in multiple languages because it’s a short word so in each of those languages that I’m aware of it means something else entirely and it can even be a fragment of many other words. Out of all the languages that I know to some degree currently, only Swedish and Norwegian are completely free of «Ian», and English is full of him so it’s absolutely impossible to avoid him while listening to English or speaking English. I once wrote a story on here inspired by my sleep paralysis  which isn’t exactly what I experience but it’s very close and it features an «Ian» who is very much based on mine. Mine has red eyes, a bulky frame, a very deep voice and despite he’s not particularly clever, definitely not as much as Victoria, he can be even more scary and in a way I think it’s precisely because of that, ‘cause he only thinks on a very primitive level. He can be super quiet when he wants, which can be even more menacing than when he yells, and he has disgusting claws. Also I always feel that while «Victoria» was generally an unpleasant person and probably didn’t like anyone, «Ian» has some very particular kind of dislike for Bibiel, I wonder why he hates me so much more than the rest of humans. 

   And whenever I’d be alone or in a quiet space or something like that, I’d be afraid that, at some point, when I will least expect it, the sound that was only being stuck in my brain at a given point, will suddenly manifest itself in front of me in this personified form and do something real scary to me. I couldn’t say what, but I knew it would be super scary. So not only was that scary sound stuck in my brain and I was feeling scared because of that, but I also felt like things could get a lot more scary any second or minute when my fear will actually become the reality and I’ll hear this thing for real all over again and possibly other stuff will happen simultaneously, like, dunno, they’re going to kill me or something. Or I’d be scared that they’re actually already somewhere very close to me and lurking, especially «Ian», just waiting for the right moment to reveal themselves to me. 

   And, in a way, my fears were well-founded, because I got to see all them creepy peeps in my sleep paralysis dreams countless times, which feel as real as anything real. I have no problem with having regular-people nightmares, like, dunno, running away from someone «normal», falling, people dying and whatever other normal nightmares people have. I wake up from them and feel either relieved that it was just a dream, or even laugh at it because it was so vivid and creative and how come my brain creates such suspense-rich plots, even if they’re not pleasant while lasting. But when it’s sleep paralysis that features my actual creeps so realistically, I get really scared of it and it doesn’t go away as soon as I wake up. Especially that I experience a lot of false awakenings in sleep paralysis and I can think that «Phew, at least it’s over now!» And dream about how I told someone about my creepy dream and started my day as I normally would, and then realise that, oops, it’s not quite finished yet, part two is coming. So even though theoretically you always know it when you’ve woken up for good, you can’t help but feel a bit distrustful of your judgement after so many false awakenings in which you’d also thought that you’d woken up for real. So usually when I wake up it takes me a lot of time to recover both physically and mentally. Anyway, when «Victoria» was the dominant creepy character in my sleep paralysis episodes, they would usually start with me having a bath, and my Mum unceremoniously coming in and saying excitedly that I have to get out quickly because someone wants to see me. We both knew who it was, and Mum knew how much I hated «Victoria», but every time she was either oblivious to my protests, or like she felt for me but couldn’t do anything. Then my Mum disappeared and before I even got a chance to get out of the bath, everything would start to spin, with me often banging my head on the bathtub as a result, and I’d hear the dreaded jingle, and «Victoria» would storm in, and other creep peeps following and assisting her. They would put me on something that I can best describe as some sort of mini couch thing made of metal and padded with leather, and strapped me to it so that I laid on it on my back with  arms stretched out behind my head. This couch had wheels and they wheeled me super fast to wherever «Victoria’s» place and spun it a lot n the meantime and obviously in the meantime I heard a lot of creepy jingles. Once we’d get there, «Victoria» would yell into my ears super loud, tickle me under my armpits in a way that wasn’t funny at all but quite threatening, and showed me various mini dreams in which all sorts of scary things happened to my family or me or stuff like that. At some point though, I’d always be able to end the dream if I was quick enough to spot that moment, by making some sort of manoeuvre and saying some weird nonsensical word that I could never recall while awake except that it started with G, lol, all in the dream, not for real, and then everything vanished slowly. I’m not as fortunate with «Ian» though. With «Ian», aside from some details and stuff, I largely described the experience in the short story linked above, aside from stuff that is difficult to describe or that changes every time. «Ian» also visits me in sleep paralysis a lot more frequently than «Victoria» did. «Victoria» still visits me occasionally without «Ian», but when she does these days she’s a lot more malicious than she used to be before «Ian» and often even more malicious than «Ian». 

   So, yeah, I guess it’s hard to say in a way whether my childhood existed or not. You can say that they did, because obviously the sounds did exist, and my sleep paralysis experiences did exist, but their personifications and my perception of threat from the sounds were just imaginary. 

   How about you? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What were you like as a child? 

   My answer: 

   Just to clarify for the beginning in case it could be confusing, I am going to mostly refer to my younger self as Bibiel or little Bibiel. Those who know me may know that I like to talk about myself as Bibiel or Bibielle in third person, and also use that name specifically for the more child-like/childish/quirky/creative part of me. When I was very young I didn’t use that specific word in reference to myself, and I never really think about my younger self as Bibiel because the child-like Bibiel part of my Brainworld and my younger self conjure two a bit different images, but in this post I’m going to refer to my younger self as Bibiel because: a) I like the word Bibiel, b) I guess it’s boring to constantly repeat awkward phrases like «my younger self» or «little me) and c) I went by a different legal name back then, which I don’t share on here, but Bibiel works well enough instead as it seems kind of absurd to think about my 5-or-so-year-old self as Emilia. Now for the actual answer. 

   
   Fairly different to what I’m like now, in a lot of ways. In fact, sometimes when I think back to the child version of me, the one below age 8, or when someone tells me about something from that time that had to do with little Bibiel or reminisces about how I was like then, I feel kind of flabbergasted and almost confused about how it’s even possible that I was different like that and liked so many things that I hate now, like peopling. Other people, family and others, have also told me countless times how I’ve changed since then. I mean, duh, everyone does, right? And I do think that some of those people are a little biased, like my Dad for whom the past is always better than the present, or my maternal grandparents for whom I was their first survived grandchild and they spent a lot of time with me as a little kid, doted on me and idealised me in a way, and then we parted ways a bit both emotionally and physically so they kind of know the little bibiel better than the present me, particularly my grandma, even though we see each other regularly. Of course I do recognise some of my current traits that I have in common with little Bibiel, like some of my weird ways of thinking or the funny way my Brainworld works, some of my interests or even some of my personality traits, but generally, whenever I thought about the little Bibiel more, I feel kind of perplexed, like wtf?! My Mum says I changed so much ‘cause of the boarding school, but I don’t think so. I mean yeah, sure, it must have been a strong trigger, very possibly the main one or one of the main ones, but I really highly doubt it could be the cause. I’ve always associated the whole «change» thing with my first major depressive episode, that I was diagnosed with when I was 10, but I’d been feeling depressed  ever since I was 8. It wasn’t that I was feeling some spectacular change in myself at that time or like it happened overnight as soon as I turned 8 or as soon as I started to feel depressed, but simply when I look back at my childhood that point in time seems to be more or less the dividing line between the «two Bibiels», although my Mum claims I was quite like that old Bibiel still when I was 10 and remembers me like that for the last time from my aunt’s wedding. So perhaps the new Bibiel was born after my Achilles tendons surgery or something. At around similar time when I started feeling depressed, I also started taking growth hormone and so it seems like my appearance changed more or less simultaneously as well. I was really short and quite chubby as a small kid, and then on growth hormone I suddenly went quite skinny, and while I’ve never really been tall especially compared with my immediate family members, I was growing so quickly at first that it kind of seemed like I became really tall in no time and people made lots of comments about how I suddenly changed physically so I guess it was a big deal for them lol. 

   Honestly? As much as I don’t necessarily love myself, I don’t really like that little Bibiel almost at all, so whenever and however it happened, I’m glad she’s gone. I mean, I only like her a bit because I have some sympathy for her or something and obviously in some regards understand her better than anyone else so I know that in a way she was just what her surroundings expected her to be or something like that, and we’ve been through the same things, but if she was someone external, like one of my little cousins or my sister for example, I probably wouldn’t like her at all because I wouldn’t even have that understanding to warm me up to her. That’s probably why all the therapist and coach speak about embracing your inner child irks me so much.

   When I was a teenager or so, my frozen in the past Dad really liked to watch old camera videos that Mum had recorded when Olek and me were kids, and insisted that we all do that together, or at least that whomever he was watching at a given point should be there and see themselves as well and reminisce with him about the good ole days and laugh at the same things over and over and over. There weren’t very many things that I hated about my family life more than that. I mostly hated watching these videos because, unlike for my Dad, I wasn’t really nostalgic for those times at all. Perhaps some little bits yes, but generally watching that shit always made me feel extremely blue and then I couldn’t stop ruminating. Then I had to go through that once again not long ago when Olek decided that he wanted to revive his childhood memories and got all those tapes digitalised and we had to watch ALL of them again. Thankfully, at that point it wasn’t just me who got hit with a blues afterwards, it hit my Mum as well and probably even stronger ‘cause she ended up crying and all. So from then on we decided that we’re not going to do the communal time-travelling sessions  anymore because it affects Mum in a rather destructive way. I wish I could be an easy cryer like that so perhaps it would have already been over much sooner, lol. 

   But the other reason, like I said, was that that little Bibiel was just so bloody annoying. In some ways almost like your typical annoying character from children’s books. People always liked me when I was a kid, I mean adults, kids probably didn’t care ‘cause she didn’t care about kids either and didn’t know how to interact with them. I’ve always perceived her as extremely selfish and not caring much for other people. I guess she only liked people and was nice to them when they gave her attention, otherwise acted like some sort of offended queen and could be downright rude, like I was rude to Olek nearly all the time on those tapes, even though Olek hardly got as much attention from our parents or other adults in our lives even without me trying, ‘cause Bibiel was so fucking adorable and oh so disabled. My Mum has told me that when Olek was very little, I would come over to him and whack him over the head full force with a toy or something. Later on, I was always very happy to snitch on him. Interestingly, despite Olek is no meek character, as a kid, he was always extremely tolerant of me, very protective and even if I was nasty to him or outright ignored him, he always wanted to play with me and waited patiently for whenever queen Bibielle would be in a more favourable/playful mood, which would usually kick in late in the evenings when we were already in beds. Then we’d make up all kinds of crazy games, or just keep laughing our brains off for no apparent reason, because  almost the mere fact that it’s bedtime makes everything instantly more hilarious, that’s one thing that I still do have in common with that Bibiel, I still get fits of giggles at night quite often. 😀 Or we’d play jump-bears (simply jumping on the beds, either standing up, or bouncing up and down on your bum, or on your back when in bed and yelling «Jump-bear!» Every time you jump, just ‘cause bears, and more exactly the Polish word «miś» which means bear, is super cool and you just can’t say it too many times during the day). That would naturally really annoy our parents that, instead of sleeping, we’d be double as noisy as during the day, but instead of dividing the punishment fairly or at least equally, most of the time, Dad would storm upstairs and sometimes Olek would get a spanking. Sometimes, he would tell Bibiel not to «provoke» Olek, but he never seemed to assume that Bibiel was just as active a part in those games, probably because he didn’t want to, because Bibiel is so adorable and cute, how could Bibiel ever do anything wrong like, for real? Believe it or not, but that’s what little Bibiel kind of thought herself. Bibiel knew that adult people go to confession, and I recall little Bibiel having a thought once that she will probably never have to do that, because she never seems to do anything wrong. In Bibiel’s defence, we can say that it certainly wasn’t because Bibiel was actually so self-assured. Bibiel was simply very rarely told that she did something wrong or that her behaviour wasn’t right sometimes. I don’t think Bibiel thought it in a way: «Oh yeah, I’m so amazing that I never sin and I won’t ever have to go to confession, it’s for losers», rather, I remember that thought more like feeling kind of curious, like, how come all the kids around are so badly-behaved and all the adults do bad things all the time but Bibiel is always so good? I guess that means Bibiel is somehow really special or something. 

   Once queen Bibielle’s playful mood would vane, she’d go totally quiet, and if Olek tried to initiate a conversation or something, he would usually have to call «Bibiel!» «Bibiel!» Several times, and then at some point would invariably hear a very indifferent: «I don’t want to talk to you anymore», which he always calmly respected and promptly fell asleep. 

   Aside from being sinless, Bibiel also thought she must be somehow incredibly smart, which was totally thanks to my grandad, who values brains in people more than anything else and thinks very highly of his own, so I wonder what would happen if Bibiel dared not to be smart, whether he’d still spoil her as much as he did and pay much attention to her at all. While Bibiel had no real desire to be cocky or smarter than others or anything like that, I think for a while she genuinely thought she was somehow incredibly smart for a child. The truth was simply that Bibiel absorbed information pretty quickly, and liked language, and obviously children who have a wide vocabulary seem a lot smarter, regardless of whether they actually are smarter than their peers, whatever «smarter» actually even means more broadly. Like I once heard of a condition called Williams syndrome where people have below average IQ but are really outstanding at acquiring language, and outsiders often think they’re of normal intelligence when they’re definitely not, so that’s all obviously very relative. 

   As you may be aware, Bibiel LOVED singing. At least that’s the common narrative. I’m actually really quite curious if that was truly the case, or that my family simply went along with that «Oh yeah, our Bibiel sings so well (read, not too out of key 😀 ) and we’ve heard that so many blind people are good at music, so our Bibiel must be really good too and we should promote that skill) or something along those lines except perhaps more subconsciously. Anyway, even if the latter was the case, Bibiel grew up with a conviction that she does love to sing, and wanted to be a singer when she grows up, or, as she always eloquently phrased it «do a career». And I think I’ve mentioned several times on here how there once was a movie about our blind nursery while I was there and they asked each of us what we would like to be, and 5-year-old Bibiel obviously said singer, plus in reference to every other girl saying that they want to be mummies (and one (girl) who wanted to be a daddy), Bibiel revealingly noticed that «I don’t want to have a baby ‘cause when women want to, they can have it, and when they don’t, they don’t have to». 

   There are loads of videos of Bibiel singing. I would have understood it if Bibiel was seriously some significantly talented child, but really, while Bibiel could sure sing in tune and even produce quite clear very high notes, I’ve heard a lot of children of similar age who are more remarkable in this respect. My Mum regrets it now that, when she focused so much on me, she left Olek out a bit, and that while there are so many recordings of Bibiel singing, Bibiel talking, Bibiel playing, Bibiel this, Bibiel that (why haven’t anyone recorded Bibiel pooping? 😛 ) there are comparably very few recordings of Olek. There’s only one recording where we sing together. Bibiel loved all kinds of public performances, and even if they were a bit stressful, it was pretty much only positive stress. It was our family tradition that, every year, Bibiel would take part in a song competition for disabled children that was taking place at one of our local schools. The odd thing was that the school was for intellectually disabled children, and Bibiel was the only non-intellectually disabled child there and the only one from outside that school. Bibiel would prepare her favourite song or even a few, sometimes these weren’t even whole songs but just a bit of this, a bit of that mixed up together and it was clear to everyone anyway that Bibiel will be the best, and it was always the flipping Bibiel who ended up leaving with a huge basketful of sweets. I mean, if that’s not utter Bibiel propaganda, wtf is it? 😀 One could have thought it must have been 20 years earlier and Bibiel was actually a representative of the USSR  or something like that. Poor children from that school. As if that wasn’t enough of Bibiel, later on Bibiel even made it to a radio show for children in Warsaw, and then some sort of a casting for some sort of advertisement about disabled children or whatever shit, in what is now my least favourite Polish television (not because of anything to do with the casting). My Dad apparently still regrets I didn’t win it. 

   And that singing thing is really what I remember about Bibiel most, and what others – family, strangers and everyone in between – seems to recall most strongly about Bibiel as well. 

   Knowing all that, you’d think that Bibiel must have been a very confident child. Except generally not. Bibiel did love to socialise, very much so. Any kind of gatherings, meeting new people, talking to people, it was definitely Bibiel’s element. Bibiel had a weird sort of way of becoming really clingy with stranger people. Like, a lot of people who would visit our house just a couple times or even once would very quickly and spontaneously earn the title of Auntie or Uncle. But Bibiel mostly only dealt well with one on one contact, when the other person would be wholly engrossed in listening to Bibiel’s constant chatter or at least pretended to be, and bonus points if they were good at pretending that they understood what she was on about (no one could actually understand, because basically Bibiel thought everyone was synaesthetic and fixated on sounds and thought the same way). 😀 Bibiel could also thrive in larger gatherings of humans, but only if they were made up of exclusively or mainly adults, and, again, if their attention was on Bibiel rather than constantly shifting and a bit on Bibiel and a bit off Bibiel. Kind of like our Misha is now. It is really weird to explain and I guess I don’t even get it anymore at this point but in a way, while Bibiel really enjoyed peopling, she was also really shy. She was very easily scared of people, and as much as she liked meeting new people and making friends with them, she was afraid or perhaps didn’t know how to initiate contacts with people, so the initiative always had to come out from the other side. I clearly remember that when Bibiel was in the nursery for the first few days and the children were brushing their teeth, which they started each at slightly different times depending when they finished their meals, everyone would always ask the staff person: «Can I rinse now, miss?!» Repeatedly, and she’d have to tell everyone whether they can or not. But Bibiel was too scared to ask. Or something. So while all the other children brushed and rinsed their teeth and went to beds, Bibiel was still standing by the sink, and brushing or at least pretending to brush her teeth. 😀 It’s really weird, ‘cause I guess normally «smart” people would see that everyone else’s left, so what’s the point of brushing your teeth all night? Apparently Bibiel didn’t pick that up, and like I say for several days, until she finally did. On the other hand it’s weird that the nursery people didn’t notice that though, perhaps they wanted to end their shifts quickly. 

   Bibiel was also oddly unassertive. My Dad’s family, who are generally pretty rough, unemotional people, were really touchy-feely with Bibiel, and they liked Bibiel’s singing no less than Mum’s family, even if they weren’t quite as exuberant about it. Apparently Bibiel liked visiting them, because I remember Bibiel praying every single evening that we would visit (paternal) gran tomorrow, but I also remember that, just like I usually am these days, Bibiel would also usually feel quite bored there, and kind of tense in a way. My late paternal grandpa had a real soft spot for Bibiel, and when we (that is of course Dad, Mum, Olek and Bibiel) would visit them, he would run out all smiley and call out «Our Bibiel is coming! Hello Bibiel!) as if everyone else was just a mass of air surrounding Bibiel. Bibiel liked him, but didn’t always feel comfortable around him, just like with the rest of Dad’s family. It was seriously like they thought that a blind child needs to be touched all the time to have any sort of meaningful contact with people or something. They would often suddenly scoop Bibiel up and carry her into the house, despite Mum’s faint protests that «Bibiel can walk…» or at my paternal aunt’s place my teenage cousins would always bring Bibiel to their rooms. If Bibiel sat at the table next to my parents, someone would often want her to come to them and sit on their lap, which Bibiel, despite her frequent clinginess with people, rarely felt enthused about. My uncles, trying their best to develop some sort of relationship with Bibiel, would often creep behind Bibiel and rub her cheek or ear with their finger, sometimes asking if Bibiel knows who this is. Bibiel didn’t like that either. Only Bibiel’s maternal grandad was officially allowed to play dumbly like that with Bibiel ‘cause he knew that Bibiel actually knows who it is and it was just him and Bibiel being silly. When Dad’s family did stuff like that, Bibiel would just sat stiffly there, sometimes smile and do whatever was polite and expected, other times just sitting and not doing anything, afraid to refuse the touchy-feely attention in any way or directly oppose someone. As I learned years later, my Mum hated that too, and, just like Bibiel, was also too afraid to speak up or do anything. 

   Also Bibiel was totally incompatible with other children, with only a few exceptions like Olek and a couple children from the nursery and some children older than Bibiel. This had gotten better once Bibiel went to primary, and then at some point I noticed that, at least in some respects, I much preferred talking to my peers than adults. 

   At nursery and to a lesser degree later in the beginning of primary, my Mum claims that Bibiel was also something of a school mascot. Bibiel would often represent the school at various outside song competitions, as well as sing on those organised within the school. Bibiel would bring flowers and thank all kinds of VIPs who visited our nursery/the whole blind institute thing or however I should  best call it in English, a photo of Bibiel would be featured in a magazine during then-First Lady’s visit to our school as she held and kissed Bibiel. My Dad apparently still has that pic, who cares that he wasn’t the supporter of that president? 😀 However Bibiel didn’t really notice it as much there because there were also other such kids that were sort of seen as more representative or something so it wasn’t like there was only Bibiel as it was the case at home, therefore it didn’t really bother Bibiel while it was happening. I only talked with Mum about it much later on and realised that it also had some other consequences for my stay there but that’s beyond the topic of Bibiel. From Bibiel’s representative school activity, I remember most vividly how we were often visited by people from Italian embassy or consulate, not sure exactly who they were but usually people just called them «the Italians» even though not all of them were Italians, and as far as I remember they visited us regularly throughout Bibiel’s three-year stay in the nursery. There was an Italian couple who seemed to be in charge of the whole thing, I’m not sure if they were the actual ambassadors or what, but I heard unofficially that they visited us so often and funded all sorts of things for us and stuff because they had a particular liking for one  girl in our nursery who had multiple disabilities and a difficult family situation and so they were like second/foster parents to her or something. But they also had some sort of special likings for many other children, including Bibiel. Bibiel didn’t really like them back though. SO many people and SO much noise were beyond even Bibiel’s capacity for peopling, no matter how genuinely nice they were. In fact, they were really nice to Bibiel, and two times they even organised Bibiel’s birthday in a proper style, with all them people who came giving Bibiel separate presents. Most of them knew that Bibiel doesn’t like to play the way normal kids do, like with dolls or whatever other kids play with, but instead Bibielz (still) like glass balls, as in I guess you guys call them marbles in the Anglosphere, or iron balls like you have in car bearings, or teddy bears, or glass/porcelain figurines, or any random, small objects that have a nice texture and are fun to fidget with. And most of them really cared and got Bibiel really nice things and lots of marbles and the like, except one couple who bought Bibiel a doll who was moving and singing something. Bibiel went from one thing to another with the translator lady showing her everything and the couple asked Bibiel whether Bibiel likes the doll, to which the normally so unassertive Bibiel simply answered «No». I guess Bibiel thought the translator would keep it to herself, but she didn’t, and the couple got understandably upset. They made up for it the next year, buying Bibiel a huge sack of beautiful marbles, such like Bibiel had never seen before. 

   When I returned to the blind school from being in an integration/inclusive school for two years at age 10 and 11, it quickly became very clear to everyone that that Bibiel, who was already waning before I went to the inclusive school, must have been taken by Moomins to the Moomin Valley or wherever else and is  totally gone. I was already very much set on that I won’t be singing publicly anymore or anything like that, but I didn’t even have to say that really because I wasn’t that Bibiel anymore and so no one expected it from me I guess. After that, I had quite a few interactions with different people who told me stuff like, for example: «You know, I remember how Ms. So-and-so said she wanted to have you in her class, because you sang so well and were so cute, awww what a pity that you don’t sing anymore!» That made me feel quite weird. I definitely didn’t want to come back to singing, I totally didn’t feel it, but hearing stuff like this, especially at the beginning, also made me feel like now I wasn’t really likeable at all. On the other hand, it made me feel relieved that, although this process of kind of «shedding» Bibiel was completely involuntary, I was no longer that Bibiel who got attention from everyone all the time, and in a way life became much more peaceful. 

   Aside from Bibiel’s a bit strange problems with peopling, like I’ve already mentioned, Bibiel had a very peculiar way of thinking, and thus also expressing herself. That is one area in which I kind of do regret that I’m not that Bibiel anymore, because looking back at little snippets from memories that I have, I believe little Bibiel’s brainlife was even more varied and lots more vivid than mine is currently. I don’t think I can describe that well so I won’t really try. In any case, one of Bibiel’s peculiarities was that for a long time she thought that other people also have the same synaesthesia as hers. Which, for the non-initiated folks, made understanding her a bit tricky sometimes. For example, Bibiel associated the words crocodile and dragon with two different kinds of metal trouser braces clips that she had in her play box, among other things, and whenever she saw similar brace clips anywhere she’d also call them «crocodiles» or «dragons». Don’t ask me why crocodiles and dragons, I’m curious too, I mean it’s interesting because generally synaesthetic associations like that are very random for me and crocodiles and dragons have quite a few things in common. That’s one reason why I think that my synaesthesia developed based on links between different objects/shapes/textures that Bibiel felt while at the same time hearing specific words spoken by people. Bibiel had such weird mindset that she thought that if someone’s name is associated in her mind with a specific food, they should like that food, or otherwise it’s… well, just wrong, dunno they should change their name or something. 😀 One person who was particularly tolerant of Bibiel’s synaesthetic chatter was my uncle, whose name Bibiel associated with the Chocapic cereal. And Bibiel would always go on and on and on about how «All Marcins must like Chocapic! Because Marcin tastes like Chocapic! It’s impossible that you don’t. Why don’t you like Chocapic? Did you like Chocapic as a child?» Etc. etc. etc. He must’ve thought I was high on Chocapic, but he and my aunt divorced so we haven’t seen each other in years. 

    Even before Bibiel had any idea about spelling, books and stuff like that, she had lots of favourite words, and while she liked some (like miś) for their sound, she liked most for their synaesthetic associations. When some specific word or object was on her mind, she liked to speak as much as possible using words that felt similar to the original word that she was thinking about, or that were associated with the object she was thinking about, because I can have multiple synaesthetic associations with one object. There’s still one Mother’s Day card in our house that Bibiel made  and it has wishes for Mum on it that to most people would probably sound very odd to be written by a child (well it was the nursery teacher who wrote them but the idea was entirely Bibiel’s). It goes something like: «Mummy, I wish you were very happy, very sensitive, very zealous, very benevolent to Daddy and Olek, very patient, very kind, very caring, very bright, and that you wouldn’t be deceitful, fearful, gruff, boastful and argumentative». I of course don’t remember that list of adjectives by heart and what they were exactly, but I know that Bibiel associated all of them with a particular thing – my grandma’s necklace, and they all happen to rhyme in Polish, and it’s quite a large group of adjectives really. – When my Mum saw this she just snorted, and I think Bibiel felt a bit hurt that she was so unappreciative. 😀 

   On the other hand, there were words that Bibiel feared, for all kinds of reasons. There are still such words, for that matter. But one particularly ridiculous example that I remember vividly and that was so bad that even my family remembers it to this day, is how Bibiel was scared of the word traffic. The word traffic in Polish is peculiar because the word that means also means a couple other unrelated things, for example a bath plug. Bibiel feared the word traffic so much because one radio station at the time had a horrific jingle for their traffic news that Bibiel found really scary. And so then when it turned out that bath plugs have something to do with traffic, Bibiel became panically afraid of bath plugs. Bibiel wouldn’t even touch one, which, as you can imagine, made baths a little bit complicated. As far as I remember, Bibiel seriously thought that these are the same «traffics» as the ones on the roads – lines and lines of rubbery «traffics» making the gulping water sounds, plus the jingle sound blended somewhere into that. – Bibiel was scared that if she even moves that damn bath plug, let alone plugs it out or in, that traffic jingle is going to explode over the whole bathroom and… don’t know what. Kill her or something.

   So, if Bibiel wasn’t chattering about her synaesthesia, it was the sensory anxiety, because again, she thought everyone must at least dislike the sounds that she finds scary. In a way I still find it baffling that people just usually don’t care. 

   Bibiel had a huge, metal box, in which she kept all kinds of things. Mostly marbles and iron balls, of course, but also loads of other small objects that could fit in one palm comfortably. From natural things like chestnuts or cones, to some little bits and bobs from my Dad’s garage, to the aforementioned brace clips, old-fashioned clip-on earrings, or the agate necklace of my grandma’s that Bibiel loved so much that at some point she just gave it to Bibiel because she weren’t wearing it anymore and how could she not give it to Bibiel if Bibiel so clearly wanted it? The contents of this box varied throughout the years a fair bit. What did Bibiel do with all that? Well, Bibiel sat in the living room, and fidgeted with every single object from that box – either waving it between her fingers, or tossing up and down in her palm, or whatever felt most intuitive with a specific object. – And, to an outside observer, it was just that. Some crazy Bibiel sitting on the floor and wiggling various random objects in her fingers while mumbling something to herself. Except there was more to it, because all the while playing with these objects, Bibiel was making up some sort of story, using the various toys as inspiration for fun words to include in the story. The stories could be based on anything – whether it be something that happened to Bibiel, a fairytale she recently listened to, something she heard in church, a random idea or imagining that popped into her mind, something that someone said, whatever. – Since she usually had multiple words associations with each object, there were a lot of words to be drawn from them and to be used in such stories, and to provide sometimes unpredictable plot twists. But even when Bibiel didn’t have her box with her, she could still play in some different ways in her mind. She had absolute tons of various weird mental games that were to do with language. She learned the alphabet pretty quickly, even though she had no idea how words are written or anything, and had her favourite letters as well as such that she disliked and based some of those games around that. Others were again based on synaesthesia. I remember that in particular she loved finding words new to herself that felt to touch or tasted like some particular thing. I can recall her sitting in my grandad’s car with him and trying to think of as many words as possible that would taste like any kind of ice cream, enlisting grandad’s help, because obviously she thought he knew what she was talking about. I guess in the end he was trying to think of words similar to those that she had already accumulated in her ice cream words collection and that proved to be a good strategy because I think Bibiel did learn a couple new words  that ticked the criterion after all, in particular I remember Bibiel being in awe with the very ice-creamy name Arabella that she never heard before. 

   And you know what? I still do it. Well, some of my language brain games are very different, and I don’t utilise them quite as often, and I don’t have a huge box like Bibiel did, I only have one little plastic fishy, but now the details work a bit differently. Anyway, I still fidget with this little fish in my fingers while making up stories, but I only do it when I’m alone and I’m sure that no one sees it. It’s really fun, you should try that too. They don’t even have to make much sense, although ideally they should at least seem like they do. My parents never understood what I was actually doing with that, and they don’t know that I still do. I mean, my Mum knows that I take the fish with me everywhere I go for longer than a day, but she thinks it’s just emotional, like that I just like her so much for whatever reason and can’t part with her. Well, in a way, yes, so I don’t tell her otherwise. My Dad had told me that he once asked Bibiel what she was doing while she was playing. Obviously she said «Playing». He asked how she was playing and if he could play too. Bibiel graciously allowed and he sat next to her, presumably waiting for instructions, but Bibiel already started playing again, not bothering about him. After a while, as Dad was sitting there observing her, she turned to him and, according to him, said: «You can’t play, you human you!» I have absolutely no recollection of that, but it cracked me up and since he told me that I always refer to him as «you human you» when he annoys me or something. 

   Okay, I think that’s already far more than enough about Bibiel for one day. Now I want to hear about your childhood selves. What were you like? Do you like yourself from when you were a child? Were you much different at all? 

Question of the day.

   If you were around before cell phones, what did you do while sitting on the toilet? 

   My answer: 

   Cell phones have become a part of my family’s life in about mid 2000’s I believe, that’s when my parents got themselves their first cell phones although I guess my Dad must have had some kind of work cell phone before that because I don’t recall him ever not having one. For me though, I only got my first phone in 2009, so practically I definitely was around before cell phones. What did I do on the toilet? Nothing I guess, except for the obvious stuff that you do there, which ensured that I did my business quickly without blocking the toilet for longer than necessary and getting engrossed in something interesting like my family routinely do these days. I would usually just occupy myself with my own thoughts, daydreams or some other kind of imaginings. Now that I think of it, I recall that when I was very little, I liked to imagine that I was giving birth to a baby whenever I was pooping. 😀 I often liked to compare some situations in my life or stuff that I was doing to something that I thought must be kind of similar but more interesting. So even though, unlike a lot of other girls at my nursery/preschool, I wasn’t particularly into babies, I still found giving birth more interesting and more spectacular than pooping. Other times, when my sensory anxiety got really bad, I’d just focus on trying not to get all consumed by it. A toilet is one of the places where it can be particularly problematic because it’s quiet and not particularly brain stimulating. Sometimes as a way of distracting myself I’d sing or talk to myself while on the loo, which worked barely but was always something. 

   My Mum often reads on the toilet, even now when she has a cell phone, we still have like a whole container in there that’s full of books and magazines that my family considers good toilet reads, which, unlike what you might perhaps think, isn’t always synonymous with light reads. It’s usually my Mum who reads them, though others sometimes do too, and if my Mum considers something a useful and important read for everyone, she’ll throw it in there. But personally I’ve never read a physical book on the toilet, I guess it’s less practical with Braille books. 😀 At some point, largely due to my loo fears, my Dad installed a radio in the bathroom, which would turn on and off with the light switch, and stranger people would often get scared by it when visiting us. So since then we could listen to the radio while in the toilet, or while having a bath. Later on, when my music taste has quirked and my grip on what’s trendy and popular with most people has started to loosen visibly, one of my school friends teased me that the only time I have contact with « normal » music is when I sit on the loo. FYI that’s totally not true, but oh well. 😀 

   Then when I got my first book player for the blind (a Polish one called Czytak NPN), I would sometimes take it to the toilet with me, either when I knew I’d be staying there for a longer while, or when I was particularly creepified, or just read a cool book that I didn’t want to unglue myself from. I still do the same with my PlexTalk, the book player that I use currently. 

   But honestly, even now it isn’t really some very strong habit of mine to go to the toilet with the phone. Sometimes when I’m alone at home I’ll sit on the loo with headphones on while listening to some YouTube video or podcast playing from the phone, but that’s not very often. Probably part of why I don’t do it as much as people seem to do is because for me it’s most comfortable to use my phone with an external keyboard/Braille display, and while I can do without one, it’s not quite as fun and things take me a lot longer to do, not to mention that typing on the screen is a nightmare for me and I totally don’t get how many other blind folks don’t have a problem with it, and no, Braille Screen Input (basically iPhone screen simulating a Braille keyboard) doesn’t do it for me, so if I don’t have to, I don’t do it. I am more likely to take my phone with me when having a bath, which is not too often as these days we do showers more often. Then I like to play music from it, because while we still have a radio in the bathroom, I think it’s nicer to listen to something that actually has some significance to you while having such a fun thing as a bath. Sometimes, when I’m particularly creeped out, or just want to have a really chill, long bath, I even take my Bluetooth speaker with me and hang it on the bathroom door and play the music through it as that’s obviously a lot nicer than through phone speaker, but that would be super unpractical for just going to the loo. 

   How about your toilet activities pre cell phones? 

Question of the day.

   Which song sounds normal to people, but for you, for some reason, it sounds creepy? 

   My answer: 

   No, I haven’t actually thought about asking you this question myself, I just found it online and it sounded like it well could have been me asking it, because I experience that with a lot of songs, and I wonder if other people have that too and with which songs. Even if the experience itself is totally different than it is for me, because for me it’s kind of “sensory” and I don’t know many people who have a similar thing going on with creepy sounds as me. Nevertheless, regardless of the way in which someone might experience such creeps and the reasons or origins of that, I’m simply curious. 

   While there sure are such songs that I find creepy because there’s something rather objective that’s off about them that some people notice or pay attention to and others just don’t, mostly when I think of songs, or any sounds really, as “creepy” I actually mean creepy as in my so-called “sensory/silence/sound anxiety” way. This means that they’re creepy for me in a way that I often can’t even describe properly, and I usually realise that they wouldn’t be creepy for most people, or really I guess anyone else at all. It’s just that when I hear them, I get like a sudden rush of adrenaline in my brain and everything feels just off and extremely scary and I feel overwhelmed and all the creepiness of that sound or cluster of sounds or song or whatever it might be is just aimed directly at me. It often feels like it’s just seething with aggression and something evil, and outwardly it may be just a very calm-sounding thing or totally neutral and unobtrusive for other people. It’s almost like there’s some special creepy message in there just for Bibiel, and someone has actually once suggested to me that, since I get these creeps a lot with all sorts of jingles or commercials or stuff like that and get that feeling of it being directed at me and being aggressive, I could be somehow weirdly sensitive to subliminal messaging. And it in a way made sense to me but not all of the things I’m creeped out by are these kinds of sounds, if I’m particularly jittery and hyper-alert or something even people talking in a specific intonation can set me off. Or, like, a few years back, to my horror, I discovered that there’s a language that, for some reason, I find kind of scary. I just totally cannot explain it and it’s absolutely crazy, and I assure you that it’s not like I have anything against that language or people who speak it or anything, it just makes me feel really weird when I hear it. This language is guaraní. I mean, how can a language as such have subliminal messaging in it? It would have to be hidden in phonemes and that just makes no sense at all. And why would it be guaraní, out of all the freaking languages in the world? 😀 I don’t know why I have this thing going on and part of me would really like to know, but I suppose it must actually be several different factors, because the whole thing that I call sensory anxiety are actually several different things that kind of overlap and influence each other. When I hear something creepy like that, it’ll be coming back to me in a rather intrusive way, like when it’s quiet or I am not focused on anything specific, or it’ll develop a scary personification who will visit me in my next sleep paralysis episode. And when I get creeped out by one thing, it takes me from a couple days to weeks to recover and sort of desensitise from it, and if I get sleep paralysis in the meantime it obviously makes things worse so then I need more time to desensitise, and during that time I’m often more prone to being creeped out by something else because it’s a bit like everything feels creepy and my senses are on high alert as if I was expecting something really awful to happen any minute, because in a way it’s true that I sort of am. And with some sounds I just never recover and there are such that I’ve been deadly scared of ever since I was a ridiculously young child, and some I haven’t even heard in ages but still it feels like I remember them very clearly. 

   So, rather than focusing on songs that are creepy to me in a way that I guess is more objective, I thought I’d tell you about a very innocent song that once creeped me out as a kid in that more subjective way. I’ve long recovered from that since and don’t even remember exactly what that song sounded  in the version I heard, and I think I’d actually almost forgotten about it but quite recently heard someone mentioning this song and the memory of me being creeped out by it came back to me quite clearly. Which makes it the perfect topic for this post, because I’ve actually been struggling with sensory anxiety  a lot on and off for over a month now because I’ve been getting sleep paralyses all the time lately, and wouldn’t like to make it worse myself by talking about any active or recent creeps, the more that I’m actually home alone so it would be literally asking for trouble. 😀 

   This song is… a nursery rhyme! An English nursery rhyme. Ten Green Bottles, more exactly. 😀 (Wonder what subliminal messaging is in there.) I was twelve when I first heard it, and it was shortly after I’d come back to the blind school, after having left it for an inclusion school for two years. It was obviously a difficult time for me emotionally because change and because school 😀 and then as soon as I more or less dealt with the emotional stuff, I remember the sensory anxiety hit me extremely hard and quite out of the blue, it was so hard it was actually difficult to function with it because I was constantly on tenterhooks and either overstimulated with the sounds around me or even simply a lot of stuff going on, or understimulated and flooded with stimuli from the inside, and it was just super annoying because it wouldn’t go away or lessen for ages no matter what I did, and I felt like I was going totally crazy. I think it was Teacher’s Day, so 14th October here, in any case we didn’t have any real lessons and at some point we were just sitting in our classroom and talking and there was some CD playing in the background that must have gone along with some English textbook or something I suppose. I’m pretty sure the CD wasn’t even what we were using for actual English learning because if it had Ten Green Bottles on it then it was quite a fair bit below 4th grade level. 😀 Someone had probably just put it on to make an impression that we were actually learning something. And I was sitting there mostly quietly and listening to what my classmates were talking about, feeling on high alert like always then, and then at some point that song started playing. It wasn’t any spectacular, massive creepout like some I’ve experienced that would make me freeze or anything, but it immediately struck me as really odd and creepy. I only remember that it was sung by a man, and that it was its arrangement that felt creepy for some reason. And then as I kept hearing it, it kept feeling creepier and creepier and I couldn’t get my attention off it, so that even the lyrics started to seem weird to me.  I guess usually in this song the bottles are “hanging on the wall” but I’m pretty sure that in that one they were “standing”, or else I misunderstood it, because I can vividly recall thinking that that must’ve been some weird wall if something can stand on it. Back then I would only understand the English word wall as in a wall in the house, between the rooms, rather than just any brick structure, and so I could hardly imagine anything standing on a wall. And there was the sound of the bottles breaking as they kept falling down to the floor, and I thought that was kind of creepy too that they keep falling like that, “accidentally”.

   Once I get creeped out by something, it’s really easy for my brain to find other creepy things, the more that I often start overthinking on it and how come it feels so creepy. Im pretty sure that if I was in a normal brainstate and not already creeped out by everything, this song wouldn’t really make any impression at all on me, it doesn’t really have a creepy melody or harmony or anything and the fact that I don’t even remember that arrangement anymore speaks for itself pretty much, but that’s how it is once such a chain of creeps starts. 

   Now you share your creeps, if you have any. 🙂 

How do I feel about my age?

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

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

   How do you feel about your age? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is my glass half full or half empty? Or, Bibiel’s take on defensive pessimism.

   Let’s do another journal prompt-inspired post, shall we?! For today, I chose the following prompt from Hannah Braime’s collection of journal prompts called The Year of You: 

   Would you describe your glass as half full or half empty? 

   I figured that with so much toxic, overrated, farting sweet, bright red and just ewwww yuck positivity floating around the world, it won’t hurt if I share my perspective on the glass dilemma, which, based solely on how often people seem to misunderstand it, must be not a very common perspective to have. Besides, I already wrote about it briefly quite recently in this post, so why not expand it further. 

   Like I wrote in that post, people who know me a bit, even some who know me a lot like my Mum, often tend to think of me as an extreme, incurable, even “hopeless” pessimist. And that’s kind of true except it’s not, and not just because I am not hopeless. My brain is definitely  on the gloomy side, and I am indeed a fan of thoroughly thinking through all possible worst case scenarios of a situation, which sometimes ends up spinning into proper catastrophising. Also if I happen to be very anxious, especially for a prolonged time or over a lot of stuff at once or one thing that feels really difficult to deal with, it’s extremely easy for me to slip into ruminating and overthinking, which as far as I know are all classic pessimistic traits. Yet, I don’t think I’m a real, pure pessimist. Many people I know who declare to be or are seen as pessimists don’t seem to get anything good out of the mindset that they have. It only stresses them out, makes it difficult to enjoy the good things in life while they are lasting, and often is very toxic, creating a really unpleasant and tense atmosphere in their surroundings that affects other people around them. For me, ruminating and overthinking can naturally be very stressful too and I’d much rather not deal with them, depression is also really shitty, but I tend to consider these more like brain malfunctions, even if deeply ingrained ones and ones which have been with me for a large part of my life, rather than a  mindset, definitely not a fixed one anyway. Those brain malfunctions can surely affect my mindset, especially when I feel particularly mentally unwell and have very low mood, but they can’t fully replace it because they’re entirely different things. I hope that makes sense.

   My pessimism is not about constant complaining (not that I think there’s anything wrong with complaining as such, as long as there isn’t too much of it and something constructive comes out of it, like yourself feeling better after getting something off your chest), constant/excessive grumpiness, finding faults with everything/everyone or never being satisfied with the good things that you have or that happen to you. 

   So what is it? My pessimism is defensive, so aside from being a way of thinking, it’s also a coping strategy for me. I firmly believe that it’s a lot better to always prepare yourself for the absolute worst possible thing and keep your expectations rather low, rather than hope for the best. Hoping for the best might be easier during the waiting  for whatever is supposed to happen, but if something positive that you’ve been waiting for doesn’t end up happening, or isn’t nearly as good as you imagined, the crash down from so high up will most often be  a really unpleasant experience, and you’re ultimately left with nothing other than your disappointment, and possibly other difficult feelings, depending on a particular situation. Whereas if you don’t expect much, you can only go higher. You won’t end up dramatically and painfully crashing down from anywhere, but you can end up feeling very pleasantly surprised. And, as a defensive pessimist rather than a plain grumpy pessimist, if something does exceed my expectations, I try to appreciate it as much as I can, rather than be like: “Oh well, it’s just an exception from the rule, something will surely go wrong”. It may or may not be an exception from the rule, and something else may or may not go wrong very soon, but I try to be very appreciative and grateful for the things that do go well, and enjoy them nevertheless. In fact, perhaps a little paradoxically, despite being an anxious melancholic with dysthymia, I am also blessed with the ability of finding even small things in life enjoyable and pleasurable, and if my mood is somewhere around what I consider my baseline, I don’t have to try very hard to make myself feel these feelings or focus on it very much. 

   Similarly, when you’re awaiting something that you consider stressful or otherwise difficult, for example an exam like Sofi does tomorrow, I personally don’t think it’s a good idea to try to convince yourself for all means that everything will be fine. I think it’s worth considering things that might go wrong, so that when something does go wrong, you can handle it better emotionally at worst, because you’ve sort of already been through it in your brain, and prevent it from happening altogether at best. You sure can’t always think of every possible thing that could go wrong in a given situation and prepare yourself for everything, but still, going through a few different difficult scenarios in your brain before a situation takes place, even if the actual situation won’t look exactly like any of the things you imagined, can be helpful in handling things in my opinion. 

   I guess though that while this works for me, it doesn’t necessarily have to work for everyone. I guess if so many people promote positivity, positive affirmations and stuff, it must work for them. I only know that my approach works well for me. I’d tried being more optimistic, because everyone, and especially my Mum, says that when you think of good things, then good things happen to you, and when you think about bad things, then you get bad things. And I have no reason to believe that this is not the case for people who say so. But for me, most of the time it just doesn’t work this way. I can seriously count on my fingers all the times when my very positive thinking led to a very positive outcomes, not counting all the situations when I just had a very strong gut feeling bordering on certainty that everything will go well and didn’t feel like I needed to either think of worst case scenarios or force myself to optimism, because when I have very strong gut feelings like that, they’re usually right. Most of the time when I tried hard to think positively about something, the actual outcome made me feel really anxious and overwhelmed because I totally didn’t see that thing coming. Meanwhile, very often, if I think of all the possible awful outcomes of something, and think that one of them is probably more likely than a positive outcome, the thing ends up very positively for me. Not always, but very often. This is part of why I’ve always considered myself an almost ridiculously lucky person, ‘cause apparently I do everything to attract all the bad things yet so many good things happen to me and, more importantly, so many bad things that could happen to me, just don’t. 😀 Admittedly, I’m perhaps not as insanely, , incessantly, provocatively, in-your-face lucky as my optimistic Mum, but still extremely, miraculously lucky. So if my defensive pessimism gives me very similar results to those that optimists get from optimism, I really don’t feel like changing my  brain and re-learning optimism just because optimism is more well-seen by society. It’s also rather boring. 

   I’ve actually been using the term defensive pessimism to describe this before I even learned that there actually is such a term in psychology, which has been coined by Nancy Cantor. I guess mine is a bit different though because it seems like that official definition of defensive pessimism is a little more narrow, only viewing it as a cognitive strategy, whereas I’d say mine is a mix of that plus just a more general way of thinking that is quite stable, I guess like a personality trait, or an attitude or something…? Not sure how to describe it well. Anyway, when I read that defensive pessimists perform worse in experimental tasks when encouraged to use a more positive cognitive strategy, it made me think that perhaps that’s just how it’s supposed to be, not only with cognitive strategies but also the more stable attitudes – that is, whether you’re an optimist, realist, pessimist or whatever else there is, you should just follow your brain and think the way you’re made to think, or the way you’ve learnt to think, in order to make things go well for you and be successful, rather than twist your brain wires at uncomfortable angles to tweak your thinking to what most people consider best and risk electrocuting yourself in the meantime. – What do you think? 

   Interestingly, I guess I haven’t always been a defensive pessimist. Similarly to how I wasn’t always quite as introverted as I am now. I’m pretty sure that the little Bibiel, like below age 8 or so, must’ve been an optimist, and the defensive pessimism thing has developed later on as I was gaining  new life experiences. When I wrote a post about defensive pessimism on one of my old Polish blogs as a teenager (which I remember I called “A Recipe for Luck” 😀 ) I said in there that I thought the main reason for why I ended up being a defensive pessimist was that I often experienced disappointment when expecting to go home from school, or my Mum to visit me in there during a weekend, which often ended up being cancelled or delayed multiple times for all sorts of reasons, which was an absolute catastrophe for me every single time, and that this way of coping became even more strengthened during my recovery from the Achilles tendons surgery, about which everyone kept reassuring me that it will  be okay, and which I also really wanted to believe, but didn’t really have much of an idea at all what to expect, and the whole recovery thing was a lot more difficult than I expected and I was totally unprepared mentally to handle that sort of thing. Even though I remember writing all that with a lot of certainty, I’m not sure it’s truly the direct cause of my defensive pessimism, and I don’t think it matters very much what exactly had caused it, but it sure is possible. My Mum is a bit impulsive and she would often get my hopes up telling me that she’d take me home next weekend, so then that was what kept me going all week long, until when it was almost Friday I’d learn that it won’t be happening just yet.  And so I guess over time my brain could have learned that the more frantically and desperately it’s hoping for something positive to be true, the more likely it is that it will be the opposite. If I didn’t expect to go home next weekend and lived as if it wasn’t supposed to happen, it was a lot easier to deal with such disappointments when they came, because they weren’t really actual disappointments anymore, and when I was able to go home, in a way it felt even better because I wasn’t really expecting it so it had a bit of a surprise factor to it. Generally I’ve never liked surprises very much ‘cause they’re really awkward, but a surprise weekend at home or visit from Mum was always more than cool. By the time I had the surgery I guess I was already quite an experienced  pessimist, and ruminator for sure, but it could have indeed been the ultimate thing that has cemented it into my brain for good. Regardless whatever it was that made me a defensive pessimist, in the end I can say I actually feel grateful for that, because it works for me, so why not. 

   So to answer the prompt question, is my glass half full or half empty, I’ll say the same thing that I said in the post linked above, that Bibielz expect an empty glass, and when Bibielz get a glass that’s half full, Bibielz go “Yayyyyyy! There’s water in it!” This is such a cool feeling, when you don’t expect to be able to find a single metaphorical drop of water to drink all day long, and then someone gives you a whopping HALF a glass. Who cares if it’s half empty or half full? There’s actually something in it, that’s what matters! And you relish every single metaphorical drop of it, because you don’t know when the next time will be that you’ll be granted such a luxury, and it tastes a lot better than if you were expecting it to begin with, because then it would be just normal water and you’d likely take it for granted. And it’s even better when you get half a glass of metaphorical kefir… 😉 

   Now, you tell me about your glass. 🙂 Oh yeah, and what is it actually filled with? 😀 Also if you have a mental illness, I’m curious if/how it affects the way you see your glass. 

My most cherished childhood memory.

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

   Describe your most cherished childhood memory. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question of the day.

   What food do you consider disgusting? 

   My answer: 

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

   What’s such a thing for you? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What is something from the early 2000’s that no longer exists? 

   My answer: 

   Ugh, being a 2000’s kid, I’d say a lot of cool things. But one I definitely want to focus on in this post because I’m actually still grieving it is a really cool Polish radio station called Polskie Radio BIS. BIS was an acronym for Bardzo Inna Stacja (Very Different Station). 

   As a child, especially a little child like toddler to early primary school or thereabouts, I was quite into all things radio. This, for some weird reason, is a very common theme for blind people, at least I know many who had it similar as children or still do. I was interested in many different aspects of radio and I had a period where I myself wanted to work in a radio as well. I was told by someone that when there is a storm, it often brings radio stations with itself to places where they’d otherwise never be possible to hear, and so I always liked to scan the radio for any stations that would be new to me or that i rarely heard. I also loved to do that at night, particularly in some specific places like when I occasionally slept in my grandparents’ house, because I noticed that it happened at their place regularlythat new stations appeared at night, perhaps not from very far away, but far enough that they weren’t something you could normally hear from our location. Any such finds were really exciting for me. I also liked to look out for radio stations unfamiliar to me whenever I was travelling somewhere further. Back then, we lived in the countryside, on a sort of hill, and when you went upstairs and had a good radio, you could catch radio stations from Sweden, or at least one for sure. I once found it accidentally and they were speaking all the time and i got absolutely mesmerised with the language and synaesthetic experiences that I was getting from it and I was wondering what language it could be, and later when I showed it to my parents they said maybe Swedish, or maybe Danish or something like that. I liked to think it was Swedish, because I was in love with The Six Bullerby Children and from there got an idea that Sweden is some sort of an idyllic place where people play all the time. I was then lucky to find it on a regular basis and they were ALWAYS talking on there, which makes me think it was probably a public radio station called P1, and I had lots of pleasure just listening to the language, not understanding a single word. 😀 

   But, let’s go back to that Radio BIS. It was a public radio station, supposed to be nation-wide in theory but in practice you could hardly if at all catch it in many areas, because it seemed to have a lot fewer frequencies than other public national radio stations. Already when i was its loyal listener, the amount of its frequencies was lessened even further. I vaguely remember that at some point it was sharing its frequencies with Polish Radio Programme 2, so each station had a limited time during the day. I believe it started out as some sort of station for scouts, and then evolved into an educational medium with a lot of popular science programmes for young people, programmes about sport, or specifically directed at young children. Unfortunately, although I was already a part of the world at the end of this period in the history od Radio BIS and I remember occasionally hearing it then, I was very little and so didn’t get to thoroughly experience that, and there’s very little old materials from that time that can be found online, well practically none, except for a few jingles and a promotional spot. I really regret I didn’t get to listen to Radio BIS more at that time. However, even back then, I still remember exhibiting a little weird interest in it. Weird because I didn’t really get to listen to it often, but i liked it very much. I think it started out because Radio BIS was quite hard to reach in our location, you could only catch it, with a lot of background noise and distortion, in the kitchen, if you had a radio with a good antenna. So I think that sort of unusual factor made me interested in the station in the first place, as well as its name. I really liked the word bis and thought it sounded very cute. I remember that my Dad expanded the antenna in our kitchen radio somehow so that it could catch Radio BIS, and I was super happy about it, but it only worked reliably for a little while from what I can recall. When I was in nursery, I remember that one weekend my parents came to visit me, and we went to the zoo. When we came back, it turned out that meanwhile, our nursery was visited by Polish Radio, and I was told that there were some people from Radio BIS as well and I was disconsolate. Everyone in the nursery, including myself, even though I wasn’t present at that meeting with Polish Radio, got four candies, which I believe were in different flavours and each had one of the four public stations’ name on its wrapper. I let Olek eat all three candies, but I left the BIS one for myself. I was very curious how it tasted, but I felt like it would be a shame to eat it, so I never did it. Like, NEVER. Years and years ago, after I was out of that blind school, my Mum and me found that BIS candy in one of the boxes with my things and Mum said the candy still looked normal though of course was unlikely to be edible anymore. We threw the candy away, but I still have that wrapper  and it says “Polish Radio BIS” on it.

   My memories of Radio BIS at that time make an impression of a very calm-sounding radio station. I have shared this on my blog multiple times that one of the symptoms of the phenomenon I experience that I call sensory anxiety or sound anxiety is the like, is that often the sound that freak me out, or especially did when I was a kid, were various jingles, or commercials or the like, even though they’re not objectively scary at all, but I feel like they’re seething with aggression specifically towards me, it’s a very weird feeling. Well, with Radio Bis, I really liked their calm and cheerful jingles from that time, especially this one. So different from most Polish late 90’s-early 2000’s overdone jingles. I remember one more that was slower and more flowing kind of and I liked that one particularly much, but I’ve never found it anywhere. Then, in 2004, the Polish Radio peeps had some sudden awakening that made them realise that Radio BIS has a very small audience compared with other Polish Radio stations, and rather than give them more frequencies, they decided to change the format, and after a couple years, like I said earlier, reduce the amount of their frequencies even further. That was when the name BIS started to work as an acronym for Very Different Station. It was still a medium directed at young people, but less educational, and more music-oriented. You could hear there all sorts of weird and normal music from genres like hip-hop, alternative rock, reggae, various kinds and shades of electronic music, even a bit of folk. For the most part, stuff that you would not hear in other radio stations, at least not here. And that was about the time when I started to listen to it. I guess I got some new radio and I remember it was summer and I was lying on the lawn with it and listening to a station where there was really weird music playing and the whole thing sounded really cool, and I was wondering what it was, until they enlightened me and said it was “BIS! BIS! BIS! Very Different Station”. As I said, I always liked Radio BIS, but it was then that I figured that I really have to start to listen to it more regularly, because there were too many times when I came across some cool-sounding radio station just to realise that, surprise, it’s Radio BIS! Again, I got a very long antenna and it turned out more or less possible to catch it in my room. With ever-present humming in the background, but not too bad if you kept the radio in a certain position. The educational content, however, was not totally forsaken, and there were still programmes like my beloved BIS-Up from Monday to Friday, from 1 PM to 4 PM if I remember correctly, where there was a lot about culture of various countries, thought-provoking questions like what does gingerbread have to do with a windmill and, every hour, there was a language lesson, for English, German and Russian. But there was generally a whole lot of linguistic type content in BIS-up from what I can recall now. There were also some cool programmes on weekend mornings called “Rusz Głową” (literally Move Your head, but it’s a sort of expression that actually means something like think, use your brain etc.) which were also quite brain-stimulating. I regret I wasn’t into folk back then and actually disliked it thinking it was “granny music”, but it was thanks to Radio BIS that I started to be into “different” music in general and I started to like reggae, especially Polish reggae, a lot thanks to them, with my favourite band being Vavamuffin. I now don’t listen to reggae so much and it doesn’t really resonate with me as much as it did back then, but I still sometimes listen to it when I’m in the mood and I have good memories with it. I also remember loads of weird songs from Radio BIS with absolutely weird, nonsensical lyrics which I think could easily be classified as experimental music or something like that and I loved it. Late in the evenings, or at nights if you prefer, there was a programme called “Zostaw Wiadomość” (Leave a Message), with a lot of talking, often about some very serious things, usually something more or less to do with psychology, and I really liked it too and often stayed up late to listen to it, and it really made my fascination with all things people and psychology grow. I really fell in love with Radio BIS, and the word Bis entered into my own vocabulary as part of many different neologisms, phrases and expressions. Like the word bis alone means either any child, or someone who is very cool and likeable, depending on a context. Then in 2007 I had my Achilles tendons surgery, after which I had to spent six weeks in casts and effectively was in bed most of the time and was bored to death, and then had a few more months of recovery, and Radio BIS was my constant companion at the time, keeping me more or less sane. I even went as far as calling them several times at that time and I really enjoyed it. 

   Unfortunately, it wasn’t long that I got to enjoy Radio BIS. Apparently, there was a lot going on in there on a political level that the new government didn’t like. It was the PiS (Law and Justice) party, the one that currently makes up the majority of our government, who was also in power in an alliance with several other parties in 2007. When you consider my fanatic love for Radio BIS, it’s quite a funny thing that I am actually a PiS voter now, because, while I think they do a LOT of things wrong nonw and I still hold a grudge towards them for what they did to Radio BIS, I believe that currently there is no more viable option in this country and PiS is the lessest of all the evils. 😀 Anyway, I honestly don’t remember much that would be politically charged in Radio BIS when I was listening to it, but I was only about 10 or younger then and was simply unaware of many things, even when Radio BIS was about to fall apart I don’t think I quite understood what exactly were the actual reasons behind it, I just thought it’s simply planned to change into another radio station and didn’t think why that could be so. However when I digged into it a bit more years later I realised that there clearly was something odd going on in Radio BIs, particularly it seems that it went wild late at night sometimes, and a lot of people whom I recognise as working back then in BIS now work in media that are strongly left-wing. And, overall, it’s good that it was addressed. I think, whether it’s left-wing or right-wing opinions, Radio BIS would be better off with no sociopolitical content at all, its mission was not being a political opinion-forming medium, we already have enough of these. Still, I think there could be a much better way of dealing with  this than destroying the whole station, I think. Why not just get rid of specific people? But yeah, one of the problems I have with PiS is that it doesn’t really seem to value culture very much. So, one day in 2008, there was some sort of conference or however I should call it where it was said that Polish Radio BIS would soon change into Polish Radio Euro, which will still be directed towards young people, but more sport-oriented. Part of me was curious what it would be like and interested in seeing the whole change, but for the most part, I was furious. Polish Radio people were saying that it wouldn’t really change all that much, just that there would be more sport content (and of course no unwanted political and world-view ideas), and my family were comforting me that it’s surely going to be the same, they’re just making a lot of fuss so that it looks like they’re doing something, but i knew that it was inevitably going to change, and it did. Yes, there were still a lot of the same people, some of the same programmes, music was rather similar, but as time went by, it was slowly but clearly losing that “different” BIS feel. I still listened to them regularly but the sports content was overwhelming, and it was less and less frequent that I’d find some new music that I would really love. Old BIS people, even those who I highly doubt expressed any political views at all publicly, kept disappearing, even if just to another place in Polish Radio, and new people kept coming, and I listened to it less and less. Radio Euro didn’t live for very long, as soon they went back to their original name, before BIS, that is, Polish Radio Programme 4 and that’s what it’s still known as. The sports content was reduced again in favour of music content, but the whole feel of the station was kind of different compared to the old BIS. I tried to get myself back into it and listen to it, but, while their playlist is certainly a bit more different than most Polish radio stations, it tends to be awfully repetitive. Also, now, rather than being generally youth-oriented, so that you could happily listen to it whether you were a child like I was, or a teenager, or a young adult, now it’s quite clearly directed towards university students or at least that’s a feeling I always get whenever I listen to them. My Mum also kind of liked BIS, and later on tried to get herself into listening to Radio 4, and she too said that BIS was definitely young, but even older people could listen to it with no problem, whereas Radio 4 is rather annoying for her as someonenot in her twenties. TO me, it’s like a cross of a commercial mainstream-y radio station in the way they generally present themselves, and an academic radio station, because of some of the more niche music and the student type content. Also, I don’t really follow them regularly but they either had or still do have a liner that says something like Radio With Vision, and you can actually watch some of their programmes on their website. I totally don’t get the radiovision idea and what the point of that is. 

   So yeah, I feel sad for BIS and that it died. I have some archival materials, but there isn’t much that I could find. 

   So, how about you? What’s such a thing from early 2000’s for you? 🙂 

Question of the day.

What is your earliest childhood memory?

My answer:

My earliest memory is from when I was two years old, which some people find strange or impossible, claiming that you can only have real memories from the age of 3, but I believe that when they’re strong and emotionally intense memories, you can remember things that happened earlier, plus I guess everyone is a bit different and it must depend a lot on an individual. Anyway, my earliest memory is about when Olek was born. My Dad and me went to visit Mum in the hospital, and the first thing I remember from that was when we were in the lift and I was a little bit scared of the sensation of it moving. I still avoid lifts if only it’s possible and reasonable, even escalators, because they make me feel dizzy and floaty in an awful way and mess with my vestibular system though I’m pretty sure it was a lot worse when I was younger. Then we went to the room where my Mum was and I remember that she was really weak or something and kind of wasn’t herself really, actually at the time I think I thought she was really sleepy. My Mum had a C-section so she certainly could still be groggy after that. Olek wasn’t in there. Mum let me feel her tummy and I remember it really shocked me and made me feel quite awful. I don’t really remember or know now what exactly was going on with her, was it her stitches that she showed me and my brain exaggerated that, or something else, but I quite clearly remember a HUGE needle sticking out of her tummy and the thing overall looked quite raw and not quite like what I expected I think. And I got ann idea into my head, quite a logical one for a kid I guess, that it was my baby brother who was to blame for that. I must have said it out loud because I remember my Dad laughing and saying what a monster Olek must be. I felt really sorry for Mum. Then I don’t remember anything else, but later on I often thought that this first impression of Olek that I got, before even actually meeting him, could have influenced my later attitude towards him and I felt guilty because of that and still sort of do, though these days this is not the sole reason for why I feel a sense of guilt in relation to him, but that’s a whole different topic. Anyway, when we were little kids, I was really nasty for him. I don’t really remember that very clearly but my parents say I could just come over to him all of a sudden and start frantically bang him with something over the head or bite him really badly, or I wouldn’t let him play with my toys and generally rejected him all the time. I do remember having a kind of feeling of aversion or something towards him and like I didn’t really like him, and that I was very fickle with him. Sometimes I played together with him and we had a lot of fun, but other times I wouldn’t let him play with me. We shared the same bedroom (actually at the time our whole family had just one, huge, open area that we slept in) and sometimes I would initiate some play, because I was rarely sleepy when I should be and as a toddler always got a huge energy shot towards the evenings and it was the best time for playing for me, and he happily joined in with that, or we just talked and laughed like crazy because everything’s always most hilarious when it’s time to sleep. And then in the middle of that I’d suddenly just turn my back on him for no apparent reason and play by myself or start doing something else that I wouldn’t include him in and I acted like I was cross with him or something. Or we’d be talking and suddenly I’d start acting royally haughty and like I was deadly bored and be like: “I don’t wanna talk to you”. Or if he tried to talk to me but I didn’t feel like it, I’d also say something like that, no matter how much the poor kid would try to get my attention. Thinking back to that, I am actually a bit surprised that he wasn’t similarly nasty to me in return, as kids usually are. He’d still make efforts to be able to play with me no matter how jerky I was with him, and no matter how often I’d keep rejecting him he’d continue to try to connect with me and was always very protective of me as a kid, it looked as if my attitude wasn’t even affecting him at all. Sure he liked a bit of sibling rivalry, and would be mischievous sometimes and piss me off totally deliberately, but he was mischievous with everyone so it wasn’t anything specifically directed at me, and I think a lot of kids, if they were treated like that by an older sibling, would at some point just shrug and let go, or start acting the same as their sibling.

How about your earliest memory? 🙂

Delyth Evans – “Gymnopedie III”.

Hey people! 🙂

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

Question of the day.

What do you miss the most about your childhood?

My answer:

As much as I never looked forward to being an adult and even now still don’t like it and find it kind of intimidating, I can’t say I miss my childhood very much either. Usually, I guess when people say they miss their childhood or being a child in general, they miss some carefree feeling that they remember from that time, or a sense of safety or something like that, perhaps less awareness about things going on around them. I don’t really remember any particular carefreeness that I’d feel as a child, I think I must have been born a professional ruminator ’cause I never felt very carefree for a longer period of time as a kid. 😀 There was always something I was stressed or worried about and while I often tried to distract myself from that, it only worked temporarily.

I think if I do miss something, it would be the very early childhood, below age 5. I remember that when I was a teenager I often missed being a very small child or a baby, which probably says something about my emotional maturity. 😀 Not that I have many memories from that time that I’d miss, I just suppose it must be the nicest part of one’s life, when one doesn’t have much of an idea about anything. And most of the memories that I do have from that time are indeed quite happy. Also I’m plain curious because I know from my own experience with myself, and from what my family tell me, that I was quite a lot different personality-wise as a young child. I was definitely a really really weird kid and had my own little, freaky world which was very difficult for complete outsiders to grasp, just as it was difficult for me to grasp that other people don’t necessarily think the way I do and often had no freakin’ clue what I was even talking about, yet when I was like four, or even six, I was a lot more outgoing and socially capable, or even as my Mum claims “happy”, than by the time I was eight, and then since about being 7-8 years old, perhaps earlier, I was gradually kind of withdrawing. As a small kid, I was certainly shy and might have struggled a lot especially with initiating contact with people, but I was quite sociable and when I felt safe with people I always felt very happy to have everyone’s full attention. Most people liked me and I liked people if they didn’t seem scary, I could bond with nice people really quickly. At that time I had more trouble relating to my peers though, which my Mum was initially rather worried about. Some people still can’t get over it that that little Bibiel is gone. And no, thankfully it’s not my Mum. And while I believe there might have been quite a few things that contributed to this gradual yet at the same time seemingly abrupt change, it could be quite interesting to go back to that time and figure out with my current brain how exactly did it happen that that little Bibiel had left the stage. Also it was when I was a small child that my synaesthesia was developing from all sorts of sensory experiences I had, and I sometimes think I’d like to go through that process yet again but with a bit more consciousness to observe it critically, it would be really cool. What I mean is that, for example, a lot of my tactile synaesthetic associations involve stuff that I think I touched or felt as a child, like some of my toys. With some of my synaesthetic associations, I can only feel the overall shape of something, or the texture, but not much detail. And, while I’m sure that some of my tactile associations my brain has just made up, I’d like to go back to those objects or other things that existed for real and see how they actually looked like in full and what they were, and find out why I synaesthetically associate with them what I do. Like, why do i associate my Dad’s name – Jacek – with something as random as a screw cover? I don’t even know if that’s what it’s called in English. 😀 The round, ring-like metal thing that you can put on a screw. I often liked to play in my Dad’s garage, where he always fixed all kinds of things, and I played with all sorts of weird things, and I’m pretty sure that that’s how a screw cover (and lots of other similar things) ended up among my tactile synaesthetic experiences, but why is it associated specifically with Jacek and not any other word or sound? Perhaps someone, like my Mum, came into the garage and said my Dad’s name while I held it? I really like the name Jacek, plus of course it’s myy Dad’s name, so I have a lot of emotional connection to it, but I have none to screw covers. When I once revealed this to one sister at nursery (the blind school I went to was led partly by nuns), she got quite indignant that I have such odd associatioons with my own Dad. Except obviously it’s not what I associate my Dad with, but the sound and sort of overall vibe of his name. This in no way affects what I think of either my Dad, or any other Jaceks, it’s just a separate thing.

Other than that, I guess I could say I miss how, in retrospect, the world at large seemed kind of better when I was a child. Obviously it’s very subjective because I knew very little about it. But when I think about the world and various aspects of it as it was when I was a kid, vs now, it feels like those 15-20 years ago, life in this world in general was a lot better and more interesting. It feels like less crazy shit was happening in the world, and there were SO many cool things that are now a thing of the past. Think Polish Radio BIS, for example. I’ll never get over this loss, even though I’m sure there’s a lot of idealisation involved on my end. 😀

Also one thing not really related to my childhood as such, but that did happen during my childhood – I miss Sofi when she was very little. –
I miss the time when she was still a baby and a toddler, and all sorts of funny and cute things she did and said that she now doesn’t even remember, only from what we’ve told her.

You? 🙂

How do I calm down my emetophobia? (part 1) My story.

 

If you’ve been around on my blog for some time, you know that I like being possibly engaging with my readers. Part of what that means for me personally is ensuring, as much as I can, and as much as that actually goes in line with what I want my blog to be, that people can find here what has brought them to my blog. So I like to go through the search terms that bring people to my blog, either on WordPress or on Google Console, about once a month. And lately, I’ve noticed a surprising amount of my visitors and people whom Google has displayed my blog in the results have been asking it “how to calm down emetophobia?” and similar things.

While I am emetophobic and have written a bit about this, I don’t think they were able to find the direct answer to this question, hence I thought I would write about what I do, or what helps me specifically, to deal with *my* emetophobia, and maybe that will also help some other people who are dealing with this.

This post is going to be divided into two separate parts – one talking in detail but not overly graphically about my experience with emetophobia, so that perhaps if this is something you’re struggling with you might relate to it to some extend, and for those who don’t have the condition I hope I’ll be able to show people a bit of what it’s like, at least from one person’s perspective. The other one will be all about things that have helped me, or still do, or that I know help other people effectively, in dealing with this phobia.

This first part will be a rather rambly and free-flowing post, so if you’re in a full-blown panic attack or crisis caused by emetophobia and need some concrete tips on how to deal with the thing here and now, you might want to skip this part. If you are emetophobic, I want to put a little trigger warning first, just in case, mostly for those who are in a particularly bad place with their phobia. I’ll try my best to keep this post as minimally graphic as possible, but if words relating to the topic are very highly triggering for you, please note that they will be present here. I’ll also be discussing my triggers and telling my emetophobia story overall, mentioning various specific situations from my life or contexts in which it occurred, so some things may potentially feel uncomfortable. Even if you start reading this and feel distressed or triggered at some point, of course there’s no obligation to continue. Just be gentle with yourself.

*****

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, emetophobia is a specific phobia, which causes intense fear of vomiting. What I mean by intense here is, I guess no one likes to vomit or see someone vomit or have anything to do with vomiting, and I guess a lot of people may have some degree of fear around it, but the degree to which it is present in emetophobia is a lot higher and affecting, more or less strongly, the quality of life of an affected person, so that in some cases it might impact their daily life functioning. The experience of this phobia may vary a lot from person to person, and so one individual with it might be anxious about vomiting themself, whereas for another it’s about other people in their surroundings or in movies or animals etc. doing so, or it may be even more specific like only pertain to vomiting in public. For me, and most people with this disorder I’ve heard about, it’s a combination of more than one thing. The weird thing is, most people who know something about emetophobia or learn what it is, seem to assume that emetophobic people must be somehow very prone to vomiting. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite for a lot of us, including myself. From what I’ve noticed, most of us tend to have pretty resilient digestive systems to begin with, and a lot has to be going on for them to give up and make us vomit, and on top of that I’ve heard that people with emetophobia are just too blocked emotionally for vomiting to occur, which makes sense and is comforting in a way. 😀 A lot of emetophobics also have their own strategies, like a special way of breathing, which help them prevent vomiting when it’s about to happen. Yet, typically, we tend to remember when was the last time we vomitted, and the last time before that, how long ago it was and why exactly (in our opinion, at least) it happened, along with such details like what was in the news that day or what we were wearing, depending on a specific case of course, not to mention what food we ate beforehand. It’s a bit strange the way it works. I’ve also come across people thinking that emetophobics are afraid of vomiting because they’re afraid they will die while it’s happening to them. Maybe some do, I don’t know. I only know that I don’t. I mean, it would be a horrible kind of death, probably the worst I could wish for myself, but it’s not what I fear the most. Like my Mum still seems to think that I must be afraid of choking on it or something, which I have no idea where she got it from. I mean, sure, this is just another valid reason for why vomit is evil, but it’s not a primary one, not for me anyway, and I don’t think for most emetophobics either. It’s just scary because it’s vomit.

I am scared of vomiting myself, as well as of other people – both because it’s scary in itself and because they may be sick with something contagious and I might get it too, or we may have been food poisoned with the same thing. – I hate the sound of vomiting, gagging, choking etc. and the feeling I get when either I or someone else is vomiting, that everything is out of control. I hate things whose texture reminds me of vomit. I’m afraid when Misha is vomiting, even though he always does it very quietly and it’s very much unlike it sounds in people. It happens to him quite often though so over time it has become a lot less of a deal but it still is a big deal, even though it never is for him. While like I mentioned above, the possibility of vomiting in public seems to be particularly scary for many people, and I do think it is terrifying, I don’t think I’m a lot more scared of it than vomiting anywhere else, whether alone or in company. Sometimes when I have really difficult days emet-wise and am just absolutely sure that I’ll vomit I can’t decide whether it’s better to be alone when it’s happening, so that you can do it discreetly and no one sees it, or with someone around so that you are – well – not all alone with it. I can just never decide on that, either is equally horrid. Also like a lot of emetophobics, I have that weird fear even of the words relating to vomit. These days, my emetophobia is a lot better most of the time than it used to be (or else I wouldn’t be writing this post) but on my worse days, just hearing or thinking about one of these words makes me feel sick-ish. But seriously, what’s up with all languages that their words for vomit, throw up and puke are so creepy? The English vomit is by far the best, although a lot of people seem to prefer throw up. Throw up is WAY too picturesque for my liking! It’s not just all about vomit. The words for gag are scary too. When I was learning about various British dialects and accents, I remember being absolutely mortified at the fact that gaggin’ means thirsty in Mancunian. Who would even still be thirsty after talking about gagging? Also nausea, even though I don’t have a fear of nausea directly. The English word isn’t so bad, I mean it sounds awful but it’s not so triggery. The Polish word is though. My radars always go off more or less whenever I hear someone say in Polish that they’re nauseated, or their tummy is hurting, even before I know if it’s a sick kind of hurting or more a period kind of hurting or maybe something else entirely. Even the word faint in Polish is kind of scary too because for some people it seems to mean the same as nauseated.

When you have a look around emetophobic communities and stuff, people talk about v* (for vomit), n* (for nausea) or d* (for diarrhoea) and, if it helps someone, that’s okay, but I feel like for me personally, such tiptoeing only contributes to creating the tension around the topic. What I prefer to do myself, when writing in my journal or something like that, is, I use a totally different, unrelated word to replace the scary v* with, when I actually feel the need to do so. Same as with my sleep paralysis “friend” whose name I’m too scared to say or even write so I always call him “Ian”. When I write in English, this word for vomit is Moomin. And no, so far this hasn’t given me a Moomin phobia. 😀

I don’t know how this whole thing has started for me. It feels like I’ve been more or less emetophobic ever since. A theory I have though is that it could have started when I was at around preschool age. I don’t know if I was already going to nursery or not. There was some kind of ball organised for young children somewhere near where I lived, and I was supposed to go there and was really happy for it. Yes, there were such times when Bibiel was happy to go to a ball. As a little kid,I was fairly shy but mostly like “normal” shy, and a lot more outgoing, if not more extroverted, and then at some point things just magically changed. 😀 That’s what people tell me anyway. My grandma, who really liked to sew at the time, made a special Little Red Riding Hood costume for me, just for that occasion, as that was my favourite fairytale back then. However, on the day of the ball, I was feeling quite funny. I remember that I came downstairs and was about to have breakfast but just as I went into the kitchen, the floor started moving very ominously, I suddenly started feeling utterly terrified, I guess that’s literally what people call a feeling of impending doom, and then I was sick. I felt a bit better afterwards I guess and I think I didn’t want to miss out on the ball, so we did end up going there but, from what I remember, I was still feeling rather miserable and was clinging to my Dad all the time. I don’t remember that, but my Mum says that I also got sick there. Since I can’t even remember that, and generally don’t have any particular feelings around the whole event, you’d think that it would be rather insignificant, but what makes me think that it might be that incident which caused my emetophobia is that I also have an absolutely weird, inexplicable fear of all things like proms, balls, discos, dancing parties, wedding receptions etc. Yes, I’m a socially anxious introvert with AVPD who doesn’t love dancing and has some feet issues, though I don’t particularly hate dancing either as such, but there’s something a lot more to my fear of things like these than any other people gatherings and I always avoid these more desperately and can’t even explain what scares me about them so much. So maybe there’s some link here on a subconscious level or something.

Whether it was that event which started my emetophobia or not, I certainly had some emetophobic tendencies as a kid, though for the first 8 years or so of my life they were quite easily manageable for me. I only remember feeling stressed about it whenever I was seriously feeling sick or about to vomit or when someone was vomiting I would feel as if I were about to faint, but I never actually did, even though I think I wanted to ’cause then I wouldn’t have to witness it. When I was 8 things started to change and gradually I was feeling worse and worse mentally, with both depression and a lot of anxieties, including health anxiety.

At the age of 10 I had a lot of stress to deal with due to various life situations but mostly having an Achilles tendons lengthening surgery, about which I wrote on here many times before, that I found the long recovery process extremely difficult emotionally. I was normally confined to my room during my recovery period most of the time out of necessity as I couldn’t move about easily, but there was one day when I went to school – I was at the so called integration school at the time – because they were doing some kind of theatrical performance. I can’t remember whether I was playing in it too, or just watching it. Anyway, this was the only day during the whole six weeks that I went somewhere for longer and mingled with people, so my autoimmune system probably wasn’t ready for it to happen all of a sudden, and I got some respiratory infection soon after that. I had to take an antibiotic, but it definitely didn’t agree with me, as it always made me feel super sick and weak whenever I would take it, and one beautiful day… Moomin! That was on Halloween! And it is then, I think, that my emetophobia started properly.

I knew that it was probably the antibiotic, but my small Bibiel brain at the time was thinking that if it seriously was the antibiotic, it would make me vomit right away, after taking it for the first time, rather than after a couple days. So clearly it must have been the orange juice that I drank ann hour or so before the Moomins came, because it made me feel very queasy straight after I drank it. So, with all my love for the orange juice, I decided to throw it out of my life permanently. And that’s how I started building my ever-growing no-no foods (and activities) list. Actually I already had some things on it – scrambled eggs (which had made me vomit at the gym in the nursery), bigos (a Polish stew made of chopped meat and sauerkraut), liver, and blood sausage), but that was different, because I didn’t like any of these dishes to begin with, so I was actually quite happy having an excuse that they make me feel awful so I didn’t have to eat them and no one would make me. But after that Halloween, things started evolving a lot more dynamically. After the orange juice, loads of items quickly followed, so that I think theoretically everything was soon included on it, because – let’s be honest and accept the brutal truth – everything CAN make you Moomin! Practically, I did have to eat something, so I broke my own rules, even if I ate very little and only when I really had to, and then felt sick and was convinced that I’m going to Moomin, the matter was only when that was going to happen. Then I learned that you can also kinda Moomin on an empty stomach, so I did start to eat a bit more ’cause I figured that if either way is bad I may just as well eat a little bit more, but it was still just a little bit more, and my no-no list didn’t get any shorter. Back then, things were also complicated by the fact that I had more general health anxiety and a lot of other anxieties, I was just a bundle of nerves. I kept washing my hands all the time, but on the other hand had a problem cleaning my teeth because I was afraid it would make me gag, regardless whether it would make me vomit too. I still have a problem with having things in my mouth that aren’t edible. If someone was sick, no matter how I loved them, I wouldn’t go near them. Which made me feel super selfish. Medications were of course a problem too. If I ever was prescribed something at that time, I would look up side effects and see if Moomin was a possibility. If it was (which it was typically), I would be stalking my poor therapist (whom I started seeing shortly after recovering from that surgery as my Mum concluded that she doesn’t know how to help me anymore) telling her that it makes people Moomin, I’m afraid it will make me Moomin, I know it will make me Moomin, asking her what to do so I don’t Moomin, and hoping that she’ll tell me “No, of course you won’t Moomin, you will never, ever Moomin, it’s impossible!”, but even then I’d still lose my sleep over the fact that there is 0,0005% chance that I will.

I’ve also always had some issues with balance and it’s easy for me to feel dizzy, and of course dizziness was something I’d avoid as much as possible too. Same about unnecessary travelling, especially on roads I weren’t familiar with, as I had motion sickness. I still have motion sickness but I never Moomined due to it so I don’t care about it now really. Forget things like amusement parks, which I despised anyway because of the balance problem but to which I still was forced to go from time to time with schools ’cause all children like it and people like to make children happy because it feels good. Even stress itself was a trigger, and still is to an extend, because my main symptom when I’m really stressed or anxious is nausea. So it’s a bit of a vicious circle as you can imagine and sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between anxiety nausea vs sickness nausea.

Soon after my 11th birthday, something weird happened to me, probably to my brain, that I started feeling really, really ill physically. Mostly, it was just very bad nausea, but I also had a coming and going sore throat and other aches and pains, was very tired, weak and lethargic, and I don’t remember what else, I guess a lot of coming and going stuff, but mostly just overwhelming nausea, so bad that I wasn’t able to get out of bed or even eat anything, let alone things like go to school. Then after a day or a few I would have a break from that, or feel at least good enough to be able to do everything as normal, whatever normal was for me back then, and then again the nausea & co. would come back, and so on and so forth. At the beginning of this mysterious illness, obviously my family couldn’t accept the state of things and that I almost wasn’t eating at all, and that wasn’t even because I was scared of Moomin but I just felt it was physically impossible. I guess my grandma was particularly worried so one day she decided to make Silesian dumplings especially for me. Silesian dumplings are one of my favourite dishes, so, I think if it would be just about my fear, I’d eat at least some anyway, but as it was, I could only take a little bite after which my nausea got a lot worse, so I felt like a proper bitch for not eating them even though she made them especially for me. But it was just physically not doable, no way. My Mum in turn kept going with me from one doctor to another, doing blood tests (which all came back normal) and what not, which I remember I found quite exhausting as I was so tired all the time I could sometimes barely sit upright. Finally I ended up dehydrated so then I was seriously freaked out about Moomin because I could remember being dehydrated once as a small child and then I moomined so I was sure that now I would too. We found a paediatrician about whom my Mum already knew that he was extremely thorough any time he examined a child. Never mind that he said that Sofi was probably going to have psychomotor delay because she still had some neurological reflex that according to the textbooks she shouldn’t have at her age, and scared my aunt in some other way about my cousin not developing quite right. Well turned out that he probably had a knack for finding rare, dramatic diagnoses for children, because when we came to him and he examined me, thoroughly as always, he decided that what I have must be LCHAD (don’t ask me what it is, some genetic illness that apparently is noticeably prevalent among Kashubians, which is where we live and my Dad is Kashubian). That got everyone properly scared, including myself. Having health anxiety, I was already wondering what I may be ill with to feel so awful, and was rather stoically thinking that I’m probably going to die, which didn’t scare me as that was a lot better than the dreaded Moomin, of course, or some illness that would involve Moomin or even a treatment which would have such a side effect. As long as it was just nausea, or even death, I thought I could deal with it. But now with this LCHAD thing, I had no clue what that was, and his explanation was rather enigmatic as well, at least to me as a child, but my Mum didn’t seem to understand a lot more than I did. For the time being, he sent me to the emergency where another doctor started laughing heartily as soon as my shocked Mum told him about my newly acquired diagnosis, said that I of course do not have LCHAD but just need a drip, and probably I was just having a tummy bug, in which case a light diet for the next few days should surely help. As I was sitting there with that drip, thinking what’s better, LCHAD or a tummy bug, a mum with a baby came into the room, the baby had a high fever and was given paracetamol, which it moomined right away.

After the drip I felt a lot better, also emotionally despite that baby incident, because I wanted to believe this drip doctor was right, and so did my Mum, so we went back home. The next day my Mum called the endocrinologist who was treating me at the time for the hypopituitarism, and told her about the LCHAD doctor, but she also reassured her that I surely can’t have it because if it went undiagnosed for so long I wouldn’t be alive anymore. My Mum was immensely relieved. The day after that I felt awful all over again, and so the cycle continued, I honestly have no idea until when. People tried to give my Mum good advice, of course, my class teacher kept calling and asking how I’m feeling, saying that, if I can’t eat, it must be something gastric so I should have a gastroscopy, my grandma was saying that it must be anaemia and I need more drips or something if I can’t eat anything, while my therapist was saying that it’s a psychological thing, which my Mum found offensive. My Mum herself tried her best to force Nutridrinks into me at least and constantly asked me how I was feeling, and if I said that I wasn’t feeling well, she would pause whatever she was doing and be like: “Hmmm…” as if she was deeply thinking about something. I grew to hate it so much when she did it with that specific intonation, it still makes me feel weird when people say “Hmm” like that, ’cause it immediately makes me feel a bit stressed. 😀

About a month after that LCHAD scare, my worst dream came true and I actually did Moomin. I don’t even know why. My best guess is it must have been somehow stressogenic. It happened exactly at 3 AM and scared the heebiejeebies out of me, of course. I felt dreadful the whole day but it didn’t happen anymore. Neither on that same day, nor the day later, nor any time in the 13 years since then, yay! I associated the incident with cocoa that I drank for supper the day before, and so cocoa was promptly added on the no-no list, and spent a loooong time there. I had become even more crazy with regards to all things food and Moomin after that. And I still kept having these coming and going times when I felt ill.

At some point things got back to normal in that I no longer felt so ill, although I had another bout of it some time in the summer of that same year which was all the worse that we were away on holidays. When I went back to the boarding school after the integration school experiment didn’t work out, I no longer had these bouts of sickness but my emetophobia was still just as bad. However, my school had a bit of a different take on eating than my Mum, who claims that there’s nothing worse than forcing a child to eat, because no child has ever died of hunger when there is free access to food. At school, we were at the very least strongly encouraged to eat all we got without fussing or anything. So I had to start eating more, as it just wouldn’t work out any other way, which then made me endlessly ruminate about Moomin. Still, I tried to eat as little as possible at the same time, and avoid the products that were especially high on my no-no list. At some point, one of the group staff came into my room when I happened to be alone in there and was like: “We need to talk… I know you have a problem… with food. Don’t you?” “Ummmm, why’d you think so?” – I asked, feeling a bit scared and a bit genuinely surprised because I was sure no one would figure that out. – “Well, I once had such a girl in my group. She would also eat very little at meals and then would sometimes eat by herself and only certain foods, I wasn’t born yesterday, I know what anorexia looks like…” Phew! I was so relieved I could have laughed. She wanted me to talk to her or something, I can’t remember, I also don’t really remember what I told her actually, I think I must have made up some story that wouldn’t make her too alarmed but that also wouldn’t deny her assumption, but somehow no one ever talked about that anorexia thing with me again and when I was telling my Mum the story years later she had no idea that anyone had such suspicions.

Over the next few years, my more general health anxiety had quietened down a lot naturally, so that the only health-related fears I would have were either emet-related, or something to do with the brain, ’cause you regular people here know I’m freaked out by even the idea of neurodegenerative diseases and other such things to this day. It has also become less irrational and easier to function with. Having to live in such a fairly structured institution like a boarding school meant that I had to adapt somehow with things like eating, and while I still had my no-no list and my fear was very strong, I somehow managed to eat almost like normal and do other things as normally as I could, even if they caused me a lot of stress. Fortunately, this way, I was also quietly forced to tick off some of the less “dangerous” things from my no-no list. Sometimes for some reason, like a tummy bug being spread around, my anxiety would get insanely high again to the point where, again, I would eat as little as possible and avoid everything I could that I thought had something to do with Moomin, and then over time managed to go back to the apparently near-normal but constantly scared lifestyle, and so on and so forth. Because my way of eating was very irregular as you can imagine, I would often feel a bit queasy after every single thing I ate, I guess kind of as if my body wasn’t used to dealing with food. I would feel very full after even a very small meal, and that would instantly make me panic that surely I’m going to be sick and that something is wrong if I can’t even eat a small meal without feeling off.

I believe that part of why things were changing, even though very slowly, for the better, was simply that I was growing older and from what I know this phobia has a tendency to get better with age.

Things got a chance to gradually improve even more when I got to leave the blind school. By that time my Mum knew a little bit more aboutmy emetophobia, even if she didn’t understand it and still doesn’t really. I think in a way just the fact that I didn’t have to hide with it so much helped me to let go of it a little bit. Since then, I still have times when the only thing I’m able to think about is vomit because someone was sick at night and I heard it because my room is next to the toilet, and I still have times when I eat very little or nothing and restrict very severely what I eat but they are less and less often, and less and less intense. I am less freaked now whenever I just happen to have nausea that is anxiety-related or just not serious, whatever was its cause, and I can differentiate better between serious and not serious nausea. I could gradually and very carefully start to eat some of my more difficult no-no foods that really scared me but at the same time I liked them, and actually enjoy their taste, and then ruminate less and less about what’s going to happen afterwards. I was able to eat out again with less difficulty. It’s still a problem for multiple reasons, not just emetophobia, and I still prefer to stick to safe meals at restaurants, but there were times when eating out was a lot more anxiety-provoking. I’ve become less sensitive to all the vomit words. Of course I still have very bad days sometimes, but things are improving. I also worked a bit on my emetophobia and my thinking processes around it with my therapist, which helped a little.

And by now, I can say that my emetophobia is a lot less severe than like five years ago. It’s still a challenge, sometimes a huge one, but it doesn’t affect my life quite as strongly. I can function with it normally most of the time. There are still foods that I have very mixed feelings about and I still freak out at the thought of eating something expired and have no way of knowing whether it’s expired, I still hate the sound of vomit and can’t stand the thought of vomiting myself or hear someone doing so or be close to them when I know they are sick. But I can sort of deal with a sick Misha in the same room as me. It will always give me a bit of a scare but not bad enough that I’d freak out completely.

Tummy bugs are the worst. They can still really freak me out. When I know that someone in my surroundings is contagiously sick and is vomiting, I still tend to regress and stop eating for the time being until things calm down or will be eating very little and only the safest things in my opinion, and wash my hands and everything around me as often as I can.

I’ve had a tummy bug several times ever since my emetophobia has properly begun, and, while it never made me vomit, the experience was absolutely horrifying each time and recovering from it emotionally always takes me ages.

While like I said before, most of the time I’m now pretty immune to the words related to this fear, I still find them extremely descriptive in a gross way, and when I’m having a worse time anxiety-wise, even not specifically in terms of emetophobia but generally am not doing well, I can still sometimes feel affected by such words.

I absolutely cannot stand hearing the sound of people vomiting in things like movies or anywhere. It still makes me freak out very much. But I’m happy to say that I hardly ever struggle with books anymore, unless they have really graphic descriptions of the thing and very frequent, and at the time I’m also not doing the best, then I may need to give up on the book or at least skip a few pages. The last book I needed to stop reading altogether because of too much vomit scenes was “Tim” by Colleen McCullough, can’t even remember how long ago. I also can’t remember much of the plot line, except that my impression was that someone – usually Tim – vomited in it every few pages and it was really exhausting. I wonder if I would have the same impression now too, or was it just something that I focused on very much then, but I don’t feel courageous enough to try.

There are still foods I’d rather not eat and some that I won’t eat at all because of the emetophobia, but most of them I don’t regret because I don’t care for them very much. I still have problems with meds like antibiotics. I have a very hard time starting on a new antibiotic that I’ve never ever tried before, and I would never ever take the one that made me vomit when my emetophobia started out. And I have no freakin’ idea what I would do if, for example, it turned out one day that I had cancer and the only treatment available is chemo or something else vomit-inducing. Dizziness is also something I struggle with a lot in regards to emetophobia, and it sucks because dizziness or some other kind of floaty feelings and the like are very much my daily reality. There’s still always a strong niggling feeling somewhere in the background of my mind whenever I feel unsteady or dizzy or floaty: “Gosh, what if I’ll Moomin?!”

Going to the dentist is a huge trigger for me ’cause I’m scared of gagging.

I used to drink some alcohol quite regularly, but I stopped because it often made me very nauseous, even small amount. I don’t smoke either, because I’ve known someone since early childhood who claims that smoking causes her to vomit, so I never even wanted to try cigs, but also for other reasons.

I really don’t like public toilets because of the amount of germs and, like… how do you know if someone hasn’t Moomined in there? Maybe the person before you had a norovirus?

Panic attacks is not the most common type of anxiety I experience – my anxiety is more of the chronic and constantly present variety rather than sudden and gripping – but when I do have a panic attack, while most people are scared they’re gonna have a heart attack or can’t breathe, I’m sure you can figure out what Bibiel is most scared of in a panic without me telling you. 😀

My relationship with food still isn’t the healthiest. I’ve only recently been forced by circumstances to look at this topic more closely and it’s not just emetophobia which is responsible for this, but this is definitely the main thing. My way of eating can still be quite dysregulated and stress definitely plays a big role in how much/little I eat. I’ve been slightly underweight or bordering on underweight for many years, and while I suppose it’s mostly a genetic and hormonal thing, I guess my erratic way of eating/not eating contributes to it too.

So, there you have it. This is my emetophobia story.

If you have emetophobia, what does it look like for you? If you don’t have it, do you have any other specific phobia(s)? What has your experience been with them.

See part 2.

Question of the day.

How many times have you moved house?

My answer:

Two. The first house we lived in was built by my parents and grandad some time after my parents married. My Dad didn’t really have the best job situation and it didn’t look like it was about to change any time soon, if ever, he also worked a lot abroad, and my Mum was studying before I was born but she didn’t really have the heart for it to begin with. After I was born, she felt she needed to stay at home with me, she started getting the benefits because of being my caregiver, but the strange thing with caregiver benefits in Poland is that they think once you become a caregiver, your only identity and your sole life purpose is being a caregiver, and if you even start working part-time or from home or something, your whole benefits will be taken away from you, even if you make a lot less than what you receive from the benefits. When I went to school the authorities did take the benefits away from her because apparently I was no longer under her care, but, with no higher education aand Olek being born, it would be even more difficult for her to find a job then. So my Dad, me and my siblings got used to the state of things, she accepted the situation and never ended up finding a paid job and has become a home manager as she calls it, and holds this position to this day. Thus, at the beginning of their life together, my parents struggled financially, so it was just a small house, with a kitchen, a living room and a very small bathroom downstairs and one big room upstairs which was my parents’ bedroom, and after my and Olek’s birth it was ours too, there was enough room for three beds, each in a different corner of the room. So I didn’t have my own room until I was 10, which I remember really amazed some of my school friends. 😀 My parents still considered themselves lucky – well, at least I know my Mum did – because they got to live close to my grandparents, they had help with the house building, a huge backyard they could use, they didn’t have to pay any rents etc. just for the heating, which would probably still be a lot less than if they had to move somewhere else and live in a flat or something like that. – My Dad’s financial situation improved drastically after a few years – my Mum often says she brings people luck and here it definitely sounds like it must have been the case, because I’m sure it wouldn’t happen without her intervention. – My parents were thinking about moving somewhere else entirely, but then my grandparents encouraged them that they could just build a new, bigger house on top of theirs. That sounded like a good idea to them so that’s what they started doing, but the whole process got complicated by several things, and also in the end it turned out not to be such a great idea. The family dynamics – with my Mum’s family – have changed in some respects, my Mum’s sisters started their families and decided they’d happily live on the same backyard as well and the more people, the more conflicts y’know. – Also the plan of how my parents wanted this house to be like didn’t fully work out. The whole building process was dragging on forever from what I remember, my parents were very stressed out and I was convinced that it would just never be built. 😀

Finally we moved in there shortly after Sofi’s birth, although we were basically forced to move out of our previous house asap so the new one wasn’t fully finished yet. Olek and Me had our rooms downstairs, mine was huge, and my parents had their bedroom up in the attic and after some time a small room for Sofi was added next to it. Sofi, however, didn’t spend much time there beyomd sleeping, as she much preferred playing downstairs close to Mum, and even if she napped during the day both she and Mum much preferred if she was somewhere closer so that Mum, or anyone really, could hear her crying. When she got a bit older Mum was also concerned that she would fall from the stairs or out of her crib when no one would be up there. I don’t remember if that was the ultimate reason why, but eventually, after about four years, we switched rooms with Sofi, to both of us’ euphoria and delight. I actually preferred living up there a lot more. This room had a nicer atmosphere to me for some reason and I made friends with it right away. I liked how it was so small and quiet and friendly and seemed more my style in terms of design, while my previous room was much better suited to Sofi in this aspect. I liked that I had practically my own loo up there – it was a small room inside my parents’ bedroom but they only used it at night, and it was perfect when there were a lot of people downstairs and I didn’t want to have to deal with them just for the sake of ging to the loo. The only downside was that the ceiling in there was very low so for the first few months, the first thing I’d do after getting up was hitting the ceiling with my brain, and sometimes even later on if I’d be too sleepy and forget about it being so low and get up quickly. So I’d often use that with people as a reason for why I’m so weird. 😀 Sofi, meanwhile, was also very happy to live downstairs and have enough space for all her toys and a huge wardrobe for all her clothes, which she always loved acquiring and changing as frequently as possible, or just having them for the sake of having.

The situation with my Mum’s family kept getting hotter, perhaps no dramatic arguments or anything like that, but all of us started to realise that, while family is a great thing to have, it’s also good to have more space between each other, or things can get quite unnerving and people get each other in the way, trying to be the one in charge, lecturing each other’s children and “borrowing” each other’s things indefinitely without the “lender” even being present at home. Such small things, over an extended period of time, can get extremely frustrating, especially if you’re the type of person my Dad is, with a heightened sense of individuality and need for territorial sovereignty. So my parents started thinking about finally buying a house elsewhere. Well, actually, they did almost ever since we’d moved to this second house. At some point they found a house in the town nearby that they kinda sorta liked, nothing special in itself but, in my Mum’s opinion, who is very interested in interior design and people has always envied her the skills in this area that she has and how differently our houses always look from everyone else’s, said that it could be made into something a lot better than it is. This is where we currently live. The whole process of moving here was never-ending as well, due to a lot of formal and familial issues, and rearranging a lot of things inside and out. We would probably also linger with this a lot longer, if not the fact that the furnace in our previous house broke suddenly in late autumn, and we knew we’d be about to move in a few months, so my Dad didn’t feel like buying a new furnace, therefore we used a… gosh, I think I knew how it’s called in English but now I can’t remember, either a compressor or a supercharger I think, anyway, we used that for space heating and that obviously wasn’t ideal as it couldn’t go on 24/7, and even if it would, we’d probably go deaf. 😀 So most of the time it was quite interestingly freezing and that definitely made us move out sooner, after about a week I guess. There is no tradition of naming houses in Poland, but my Mum did call our house Acacia River, since we live by the river, it’s flowing through our backyard, and our street is named after the acacia trees, which inspired my Dad to plant a lot of them here. This is definitely my favourite of the three houses we’ve lived in, although at the beginning I was sure I wouldn’t be able to love a house that other people lived in previously, and it wasn’t just me feeling this way. But of course over time we’ve made it feel ours and I guess it likes being ours too since all the people who’d seen it the way it looked before, when the previous owners lived in here, vs now, they say it’s a lot more beautiful. I like that it’s spacey and has its own spirit, and I love my room very much, and that we don’t have to share the house or the backyard with other people, not even family. I like that we live in a town so it’s close everywhere, yet because we live in the outskirts it’s really quiet here, no traffic, and actually feels fairly rural because it’s very green and there’s a park close to us, plus a lot of people actually do either some kind of gardening or farming here, so we didn’t feel like it was a major transition moving here from the countryside. 😀 But I also think I simply like this house the most because so far, living here has also been the best time in my life.

If you wanted to be exact, you could probablyy say that I moved around a lot more, because I was going between home and boarding school for many years, plus at school I’d also moved buildings in which I lived a couple times while staying there, but, while that contributed very strongly to my feeling that I was constantly on the move which I definitely didn’t like, I don’t think any of that counts for proper house moves.

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

Would you ever send your kids to boarding school?

My answer:

In strictly practical terms, no, because it’s highly unlikely I’m ever going to have kids, for several different reasons (the fact that I’m blind isn’t one of them, despite what a lot of people think 😀 ).

Hypothetically, it’s… complicated. As someone who spent 10 years in a boarding school and mostly didn’t like it to put it very concisely, I’m normally inclined to say NO WAY. It’s not that I think boarding schools are bad in general or that my school was bad, I feel like you really have to have a valid reason to do so, unless your kid is like in high school and actually wants it herself because she thinks it’s very cool. Then she has a more or less developed character so you can figure out whether it’s actually a good solution for her. With younger children, unless they have some special needs, disability or severe behavioural problems and there really is no other option, or you’re from some family where education is a priority and you want your child to have the best education possible in the fanciest school in the country because otherwise they’ll be a black sheep in their circle; I can’t think of a rational reason why anyone would want to send a younger child to a boarding school.

In my experience, when I mention someone about my being in a boarding school and not having the best time there, people often jump to a conclusion right away that it’s my parents who are to blame because they should know better and get me out of there earlier if I was struggling. Even my Mum used to think like this and I think she still has some guilt even though I don’t blame her at all. But I really don’t think my parents had a better choice. We had tried one alternative and it didn’t work out for me. And, as I think I’ve already written on here before, boarding school can have a fantastic influence on a child, or it can fuck them up, and you just cannot predict it in an easy way when the child is very young.

I always feel for any child when I hear about them going to a boarding school, even if they don’t feel for themselves at all. That’s just how my brain works now I guess. 😀 So, based on my previous experience that was mostly negative, it would be only natural that I wouldn’t want the same to happen to my child. Often I even wonder how I’d cope with sending a child to a normal school, and whether I wouldn’t transfer my anxieties around that and my less than enthusiastic attitude towards the education system onto the poor kid before they’d get to form their own opinions and figure out how much they like/don’t like school. I’d probably prefer to do homeschooling/flexi schooling or something like that (I always wanted to be homeschooled as a kid, like that was my biggest dream) only I’d surely have no patience for it and I dislike teaching other people.

On the other hand, I have such a weird tendency though. My Mum said half-jokingly that I should count this as yet another reason not to have kids, and yes, I sort of do. 😀 I feel like I’d probably be a very extreme parent. Either, like I just said, over-protective, shielding and molly-coddling or sometimes I feel that I would actually do just the opposite thing. I would send my kid to a boarding school, to make someone feel the way I did. I don’t know if it makes sense. I do know though that it sounds very immature and cruel, but I’m not gonna have kids anyway so I don’t think it really matters. Ever since I was a child, I had a weird sense of pleasure of reading books about kids who were sent away from home or had no family or something like that, firstly because I found that more or less relatable, and secondly because it made me see that there is someone who has it worse than myself and it made me feel better. There was one such Polish series I read as a child, (“Ania Z Lechickich Pól” (Anne of Lechite Fields) by Maria Dunin-Kozicka, in case it tells you anything), it wasn’t really for children but it followed the main character – Ania’s – life from her childhood until young adulthood and it’s title was rather suggestive that it was for children, like Anne of Green Gables or something, so I guess that’s how I ended up reading it. Ania, after living a few happy years in a very loving family is sent off to something like an orphanage, because her father died and her mother married her rich childhood friend, who didn’t like Ania, so he arranged it so that her mother would think it’s just for a short while. Then WWII came, and the orphanage relocated to Ukraine, without the family knowing, because of course no one knew she had a family who would be interested in knowing that. She does eventually find a very loving adoptive family and then reunites with her biological siblings as an adult, but the first part of the series describing her childhood is quite harrowing given her personal situation and how painful it is for her as well as the war in the background. And, while I felt for her a lot, in a way it also made me feel good that this girl, even if fictional, had it so much worse and I enjoyed reading about all the difficult stuff in her life.

So, yeah, I don’t really know. Maybe I’d be a very bad mummy and send all my kids to different boarding schools all over the country, or maybe I’d be a good-bad, nurturing and obsessive mummy who would dote on their children all the time like I do on Misha and keep them locked at home like I do with Misha as well. 😀

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

What would twelve-year-old you never believe about you?

My answer:

Hmmm… I don’t think there’s anything all that unbelievable about my life. As a twelve-year-old, I had a lot of ideas and imaginings as for how it would look like, I had some potential plans but was never fully convinced that I’d actually want to do any of these things for real, was only considering that I might want to do so, for example to be a psychologist or a writer. Then on the other hand I’ve written here a few times about that weird dream or whatever it was that I once had when falling asleep about myself being an adult, standing in a huge kitchen full of children and not knowing what I’m supposed to do, either with myself or with them or anything really, which pictures how I generally felt about adulthood, as something I was scared of, didn’t really have a clue about or what I was going to do then, and it didn’t change by the time I was 12. I don’t think anything in my current life would surprise twelve-year-old me so much that I wouldn’t be able to believe it. Well, perhaps I could be surprised at the fact that I didn’t pass my finals, since people, especially my Mum, were always telling me that it wouldn’t be a problem for me to get to a university, and still, despite not doing that, I can live, and even have some sort of a job, even if it’s only thanks to my Dad. And my linguistic interests weren’t quite as clear yet when I was 12, I did know a bit of Swedish and I did enjoy English as a language, not as a school subject, but because at that time I was unable to continue my Swedish learning because of being at the boarding school and wasn’t able to resume it until leaving it, it was really difficult for me and if I wasn’t able to learn Swedish anymore, I preferred to forget about it as much as possible because thinking about it or even hearing it somewhere was really aggravating. So maybe twelve-year-old me would be surprised to know that I was eventually able to go back to my Swedish and can now use it, better or worse, and am also learning another language – Welsh – and planning to learn lots more. I guess it could be a little mind-blowing for me because, like I said, I didn’t have such aspirations back then at all. Oh yeah, and the fact that I blog in English, I think I’d be really surprised to know that, especially that at the age of 12 I didn’t blog yet at all and had very little idea about what a blog is, I only started blogging a year later.

You? 🙂

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. 😀

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. 😀 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 😀 ). 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. 😀 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. 😀

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. 🙂

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 Smołdzino, 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.

Smołdzino lies by the sea in Słowiński 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 Smołdzino, 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. 😀 I always looked forward to summer mostly for that particular reason, because I hoped we’d go to Smołdzino, 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 Smołdzino 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! 😀 – As a child, I loved collecting seashells and these in Smołdzino were always particularly good quality so I loved doing it there. I grew to love Smmołdzino so much that after some time going to any other beach was just so blah and boring, only Smołdzino 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 Smołdzino 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 Smołdzino so it wasn’t like the tourists had many more alternatives as for where to go, unless they used Smołdzino 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! 😀 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 😀 ) 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 😀 ), 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 Smołdzino I taught him how to call Akrofil/Magnus and we would play sea people together. 😀 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? 🙂

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? 🙂

Question of the day (17th September).

Hi people! 🙂

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. 😀 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? 🙂