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.

   How are you really? 

   My answer: 

   Pretty neutral I’d say. Okay overall. Didn’t get much good sleep as for some odd reason I had really annoying  tinnitus that wouldn’t go away pretty much until morning and it kept waking me up and was really frustrating. This is definitely not something that would be a regular thing for me so I got a bit worried and wondered whether it’s going to stay like this for longer-term, but it’s fully gone now so seems like it must have been just quite random. And I was really cold all night on top of that and couldn’t warm myself even with the hot water bottle, so I’m sure you know what it’s like to sleep when you’re cold meanwhile. But despite little sleep I don’t really feel sleepy or anything so I don’t really have a problem with it. 

   Also I’m still feeling a little bit excited about what my Mum and I did recently. I think I have mentioned to you that my Mum was thinking about possibly buying herself an Apple Watch, because now that she has an iPhone she often gets a bit nervous when she goes running or cycling and when someone calls or texts her, ‘cause she has to take the phone out and she’s worried that one day she’ll drop it and it’ll break, and I guess it must be just a little cumbersome replying to someone while cycling. Plus, she couldn’t find a good enough app for herself on iPhone for tracking kilometres that wouldn’t at the same time ooze with gentle toxicity and try to get her into the rivalling mode, yelling at her to share her «achievements» with friends or to break her records or whatever shit like that, when she just wants to do what she wants and when she wants and simply record the details of her sport activities for herself, she doesn’t do training for the sake of training or losing weight or stuff like that, just ‘cause she likes it. Initially I tried to discourage her from that because I didn’t think that Apple Watch would be much better in that department, it seemed to me, and still does in a way, that perhaps it’s even pushier with that sort of mentality, but Mum said that if it did all the other things well, she can ignore all the bs she doesn’t need like calories. And the more she thought about it the more she liked the idea, saying how Apple Watches look nice and things like that. It took her some time to make up her mind whether it would actually be as useful for her as she thinks, because she’s known for making impulsive decisions on the spur of a moment, and how hers should look, so she would look on Apple Store quite frequently and try to design it for herself so that it would fit her style and be a little different. She changed her mind a lot in the process, sometimes saying she actually doesn’t need it and while it could be fun, it’s not really necessary so why waste the money, and then she would say that actually why not buy something unnecessary for oneself once in a while as she doesn’t do that very often, since she’s on benefits and spends most of her money on Sofi and the only Apple Watch she was considering was the new SE 2 as she couldn’t afford anything more than that anyway. And finally last Saturday she made up her mind and stormed into my room saying that she needs to be delivered from constant thinking about it and make the decision once and for all before her mind changes again. 😀 Problem was that she didn’t have enough money on her card at that very moment so asked me if I could buy her the watch and then she’d give me the money back when she got them. So I gave her my phone so that she could choose the right looking Apple Watch, and as she was choosing everything, suddenly a wild thought popped into my mind, and I was all like: «Y’know what? Let’s make a deal! I’ll buy an Apple Watch for you and you’ll buy an Apple Watch for me, when you get the money». That wasn’t really as impulsive an idea as it may seem, I was already thinking a bit about whether Apple Watch might be useful at all for me in any way when Mum was dealing with her dilemma. Last month, I happened to have learned something about myself, or rather about something being a possibility, which I won’t be sharing just yet on here because I don’t have all the info yet ‘cause I’m still in the process of finding out and so I don’t want to prematurely raise any unnecessary emotions or tension or something, but I promise that if I’ll find out that it’s something more than just a possibility, I’ll update y’all on it. But anyway, finding that out made me think that, actually, perhaps an Apple Watch would be useful for me as well indeed. Maybe not as much as for my Mum, and not in the same way because I’m a semi-hermit so my phone generally doesn’t need to worry about being dropped somewhere outside and even when I go somewhere I very rarely take it with me, but it could still be useful if the possibility turns out to be reality, and even if not, I wanted to give it a try regardless. 

   And my Mum was happy with the deal. In fact, she was probably even happier than me. She’s a real chicken with technology so I think it made her feel better that I’ll have an Apple Watch too so I’ll be able to help her out make sense of it because she assumed that I would learn it faster. I think the thing isn’t about fast learning but about me being more inclined to actually sit and read about it, rather than blindly and chaotically try to do something without knowing anything about how to go about it which is how my Mum handles her devices and then it’s all like: «Hmmm, let’s guess what’s broken in the process”. In this situation, Mum really wanted our Apple Watches to arrive together, which was enough of a motivator that she decided on the spot to go transfer the change that she had to her card and then placed the order for my Apple Watch. Aren’t we just crazy people in this house? We got the same ones except my Mum’s is obviously larger, since I have mini hands, and hers is starlight with a red silicone band, whereas mine is silver with a slate blue braided loop band. 

   Our Apple Watches arrived together indeed on Tuesday. When my Mum went to get them from the delivery guy, she later told me that he said (as if Mum didn’t realise) that one package is addressed to «Some Bib-Bi-Bibiel Bibielz) and couldn’t restrain himself from saying that it sounds like an interesting name. Well thanks, it made my day. Yeah, I am a bit ironical, in case you’re wondering. But also I like when people say the word Bibiel out loud so for once I regret that I wasn’t there to hear it. I use Bibiel Bibielz as my Apple ID name ‘cause you obviously use Apple ID in all kinds of situations and I don’t always want some random peeps to know my full name, and don’t bother changing it just because I order something. Perhaps it’s further evidence of craziness. 😀 

   Anyway, we’re pretty happy with our Apple Watches, except I’m super mad at myself because I told my Mum to get herself an Apple Watch with cellular since it made sense if she’s going to use it when running, but I didn’t even think about checking previously whether our carrier even supports it. It seemed like an obvious thing to me that, since Apple Watches have been around for quite a while, duh they must be supported by carriers, right? Except ours does not support Apple Watch. So yeah, that was a fun discovery to make at the beginning for sure. My Mum claims it doesn’t matter ‘cause she has her phone with herself all the time anyway but I think it still sucks big time. But overall our Apple Watches are cool. I still find it kind of amusing that we both have Apple Watches, I never thought that either of us could be that kind of person lol. My Mum even sleeps with hers, but to me it still feels kind of off and I’m skeptical whether it’s actually comfortable. But I think I’ll try to do that at least once in a while ‘cause I’m curious about the sleep phases stuff. I wish it was possible to use apps like Voice Dream Reader or Audible without headphones on it, then perhaps Apple Watch could become a viable alternative for my PlexTalk at night and then it would be a very solid argument for me to get used to sleeping with it. I still hope that Apple will make my dream come true in the future. 

   How about your real feelings? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What website did you use daily that doesn’t exist anymore? 

   My answer: 

   One example that came to my brain immediately is a very peculiar Polish website whose name literally translates to Great Calendar of Names (great as in large, not in a boasting sense lol). You know I’ve been a name nerd for years, and I’m into almost everything that has to do with names – their etymology,  popularity over time, social connotations associated with a specific name, trends, but even to some degree stuff that is seemingly as loosely associated with names as hagiography (writing about the lives of saints) as obviously saints have had a huge impact on how people in the Christian civilisation have named their offspring. So that calendar had name days for every single day (we do name days in Poland as several other European countries do, this is like a feast day associated with a specific name(s), often based on the commemoration day of the patron saint of that name if there is one, so when you have your name day you can celebrate it kind of like a birthday, although in some parts of the country they’re not quite as important or not celebrated at all, while in others a name day is a lot more celebrated than a birthday) ) but it wasn’t like your regular calendar that just shows you what day it is and two names per each day, it had loads and loads and loads of names for each day, pulled out of all sorts of different calendars, physical and online, from different points in history, as well as all kinds of name lists, name books, liturgical calendars, martyrologies and whatever else is out there, so basically it had data from all these places and books put in one place. And then when you clicked on a specific day, it would also show you what saints are venerated on that day and who they were, and that was very detailed as well, as it wasn’t just the most well-known saints, but also those that are pretty much only venerated somewhere locally or that it’s not even sure whether they actually existed but nonetheless their legendary existence had some impact on somewhere in the world, it also had people who weren’t even beatified but only declared venerable/servants of God, and aside from Catholic ones there were also Eastern Orthodox ones. The descriptions of their lives could sometimes also get quite lengthy if there was a lot that was known and could be written about that person, and if many sources mentioned them. I believe the sources themselves weren’t necessarily always very credible or trustworthy, but they weren’t listed anywhere, and I don’t think credibility or trustworthiness was the priority here, the author of that calendar seemed to just want to compile as complete a list of names as only possible and indeed I haven’t seen a more comprehensive Polish name resource when it comes to quantity either before or since that. The multiplicity of sources and their very diverse quality also contributed to a bit of a chaotic feel that it had, as it had different writing styles in different places and just simply looked like one huge bulky thing that combines a lot of bits and bobs from everywhere. Also separate from the calendar, there were alphabetical lists of names that were included in the calendar which had the origin of every name and if it’s been used in Poland lately at all, and with the more common names exactly how common they are. 

   The website itself apparently looked quite peculiar, because the man who made it was in his late 70’s from what I recall, he also had some other non-onomastic stuff on that website that I wasn’t into and I believe wrote some kind of a blog or articles or stuff like that on there as well, but I guess he wasn’t overly tech savvy because I once came across a discussion online where people were laughing at how dated that website looks but how at the same time it’s still so cool that he did such a thing, as people assumed, totally independently. As far as I and my screen reader were concerned, I saw nothing wrong with the thing, it was perfectly accessible, very easy to navigate and that was all I cared about. 

   I liked to look at that website daily to see all those huge lists of name days for each day and read the lives of the saints venerated on that day, and even though I thought I knew about a lot of very uncommon names and their origins, I still often found ones that were completely new to me. Like, it’s from that website that I learned that there is such a name as Tatul, which totally cracked me up because Tatul is how I call my Dad, and it seemed about just as absurd to be called Tatul as it would  be for an English speaker if they learned that someone’s legal name is Daddy. Except I don’t think Tatul is used as a name in Poland these days, or had been used ever at all, because it’s an Armenian name. It was just mentioned in that calendar because there’s apparently one saint Tatul of Armenia. I’m not sure that info is even correct or reliable because I could never find anything about him   anywhere else other than that website, but from what I can recall, it said that he was some sort of Armenian hermit who lived with two other men in one hermitage, one of them I believe was called Thomas, and the only thing they ate were some kind of leaves, , and they’re still much venerated in their home country and their feast day is 30 September. The author, or whatever other source he got that from, was guessing that perhaps it actually does come from the word dad in some language and claimed it to be a variant of the Latin name Papulus, but years later I read on Behind the Name that « Tatul » is a word in Armenian that means « paw » and I’m way more inclined to trust BTN here, even though « paw » seems like a weird name meaning to me. . Even when I went through the whole calendar in a year, later on I would still often consult it when looking up some names or was in search for a really odd and clunky rarity for a story or something, I really liked that website. 

   Sadly, some years later, the host of this website decided to shut down and thus so did the calendar, and I suppose the author didn’t have either the knowledge or energy or will to move it somewhere else. Now I feel a bit regretful that I haven’t archived it somehow for my personal use, but I guess back then I didn’t even know how I could have done that efficiently, and anyway I don’t really think I’d need it as much these days, it’s just a bit of a bummer that it’s completely gone. 

   Another thing that comes to mind, not so much a website but an app, although it still did have its own website which you could use to access some of the app features and it is no longer a thing either, was Klango, a sort of network community for blind people. The project was Polish but the community as such was very much international. It started out as an app containing several audio games, and then gradually morphed into something that I guess could be compared to what we currently know as social media, plus some more gimmicks. It was self-voiced and had a lot of sounds that informed you where in the app you are or on different things that were happening in it or what you were doing and people could create their own sound themes. You could exchange messages with people, write your own blog, which was really easy to do, as well as read the blogs of other users (people from outside the Klango world could see your blog too but it was unlikely to just pop up in Google so you had to give people the URL if you wanted to have any external visitors and I guess it wasn’t overly appealing graphically, it had all kinds of forums, including voice forums, groups in which you could talk about various topics of interests, you could create and take part in polls, add people to friends, change your status, have an audio avatar, create notes and collaborate on them with people, you could have a board like on Facebook etc. On the other hand, it also had a built-in media player, with a huge catalogue of radio stations, podcasts, a YouTube browser, Google, and if you really wanted you could browse the Internet with it, which had its upsides as the built-in web browser was super simple and accessible, but also stripped websites down to the bare minimum so a lot of features on websites didn’t work or were clunky, and it didn’t even have such basic options like being able to type in text fields, so logging in anywhere wasn’t an option. You could also manage files on your computer with it, listen to audio files, convert them, all kinds of stuff like that. The whole thing was controlled exclusively with keyboard, no mouse, and you could make it so that it wouldn’t show on the screen whatever you were doing, which was a cool privacy option if you wanted to do something discretely or something that your parents might not have been happy with you doing perhaps, 😀 people would just see the Klango Logo or optionally if your sound theme had any visual stuff to it it could show up as well. So it was a really fun place for me when I was just more or less starting to acquaint myself with computers and the online world as it was incredibly simple to use, you could perhaps even say too simplistic in some aspects. I met loads of people there and learned a lot of things and I generally feel quite grateful to Klango for all that. However, not very long after I joined, the authors decided that they’re going to ditch Klango in that they wouldn’t be developing it anymore. So while the community was more or less active for several more years, many Klango features were gradually becoming unusable, from YouTube and Google to blogs to all kinds of other things. I clung to it for a very long time, because I still talked to some people only on there, and I liked to use Klango for some of my online activity as a way of simplifying things. At some point one of the members of the Klango community decided to make a similar app that would actually work, which initially was a bit like a Klango copy but over time developed its very own look and personality, and I eventually joined it as well, but still used Klango or at least had it running somewhere in the background. But by then, I was feeling already since quite a while that, actually, I would like to go somewhere out. Outside of our blind community, where everyone knew me in person, often from school or something like that, and practically often the only thing that we really had in common was that we were blind. Of course it wasn’t like while I was there, I couldn’t be anywhere else, but I was feeling the need to distance myself from that. I know it works for a lot of people but when I was thinking about it I just couldn’t imagine staying like that my whole life and always mingling with people from school or thereabouts. I liked many of them and Called some friends, but none of that felt like any sort of deeper friendship. Initially I felt awful for even thinking about wanting to do this and never thought I actually could, because how do you even explain that without hurting people and not making them take it personally, but I talked about it with my Mum, Sofi and a few of my pen pals and they all said that I should do this. So one day I just simply left both those communities. I still felt awful initially, and whenever people like my Dad or my grandma asked if I still had contact with so-and-so from school or from Klango and knew how they were doing, and I said no, I’m no longer in touch with people from there, they were like « :O :O :O But why’d you do that!?» and seemed to think it was really weird or even really bad. Or I’d tell them something about someone online and they’d be like: «Are they blind?» That usually wouldn’t be the case but they seem to think that if you’re blind, you should mingle with blind people a lot or something. When my friend Jacek from Helsinki came to my 18th birthday party, my godmother, whom I told a lot about Jacek beforehand, was extremely surprised when she learned that he wasn’t blind and couldn’t get over it for the whole party and kept asking me why I didn’t tell her that. It hadn’t even crossed my mind to have to specify that, lol, and Jacek found it very amusing and regretted that he didn’t know in advance that she thought he was blind so that he could have pranked her. Perhaps my family make such assumptions precisely because I did mingle almost only with blind people as a kid. I do get it that it can be very useful because otherwise you may not know about things that could be important/relevant to you as a blind person, for example you could learn  by word of mouth that there is some funding that you could apply for currently, or you can help each other with things relating to blindness, but I am aware of that possibility and I try to stay on top of things myself, plus obviously it’s not like I’ve completely cut myself off from the blind world as a whole, I am still on various mailing lists for the blind, read blindness-related websites or those about assistive technologies etc. etc. and I don’t really feel like I’m losing much at all. I no longer feel guilty either, as I think everyone feels the need to move on from something sometimes, even if this something had been a large part of their life before. I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t ditch Klango and all that, I wouldn’t have my current Mishmashy English blog, probably wouldn’t have a Mac now because this new app that people use instead of Klango now is only on Windows, and wouldn’t have done a lot of other things, because most of my time online would be likely spent there as always. Still, I do feel a little nostalgic thinking of Klango, as, while it was lasting, it was a really good thing, taught me extremely much and showed me a lot. 

   What were such websites for you? 🙂 

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? 

TToT (Misha, Traditional Latin Mass, pillows, etc.)

   I thought that today is a good day for writing a gratitude list. I always try to include things that I’m thankful for at least once a week  when writing in my personal diary, but I think I haven’t written a grateful blog post in quite a while and I feel like it today. I’m linking up with Ten Things of Thankful. 

  1.    The fact that I’m feeling well physically. My family – that is Sofi, Dad and Olek – have been mildly sick with something and while it isn’t serious, no fever or anything, it seems to be dragging on for quite a while, especially for Sofi. So far, I’ve been spared. Jack the Ripper is visiting me this week and I had two migraines, but overall I’m feeling well. 
  2.    Misha spending a lot of time with me, particularly at nights. Misha has recently taken a particular liking for my armchair and sleeps at night either there, or on my bed as usual. I always love it when Misha sleeps with me, his mere presence instantly creates such a pleasant, peaceful, Mishful atmosphere. But this week I’ve been particularly appreciative of it as I’ve had some yucky dreams and night time anxiety, and waking up in such Mishful atmosphere makes things so much easier. 
  3.    That I’ll probably soon be able to get a new cable for my scanner. I haven’t been scanning anything for a long time, because it’s such a huge hassle and difficult to do well on my own. But now that I’m attending Traditional Latin Mass, I sorely feel the lack of quality Catholic books in accessible formats, especially older ones, and feel almmost envious of my Mum who keeps buying herself all kinds of such books. They are very useful for prayer, reflection or even simple reading as a form of deepening your faith, and I always have to go looking for things like that on the Internet, which in the end means that what I find won’t necessarily be traditionalist at all. I have always struggled with focusing during prayer, and not having materials to help me out and help my mind go in the right direction makes it even more difficult sometimes. Even the missal that I have in epub is a lot shorter than the one my Mum has as a physical book, and I’m limited here anyway because I can’t just take my Braille-Sense with the missal with me to church like all the other people take their books because that would be super unpractical, I have to read it before the Mass at home. So my Mum has wanted to help me out and scan at least some of her huge collection of these “saintly books” as she collectively calls them for short, but then we couldn’t find the power cable for the scanner absolutely anywhere, and it appears to be such a niche cable that it can’t be replaced with just any average cable. So Mum phoned the company that distributes those scanners and asked if there’s any way of getting another cable or something, and they said that next time they’ll be ordering from the company that produces those scanners which is in the UK, they’ll order a cable for Bibielz as well. So Bibielz can’t wait for it and for all them saintly books. 
  4.    Speaking of TLM, I still feel so incredibly grateful to God every time I think about it, that we’ve been able to become part of the Catholic Tradition and attend this beautiful Mass and generally change our lives thanks to this. It will soon be a year since we “converted” as my Mum puts it and Mum and Sofi and me often reflect on how much things have changed for us since then, not even only spiritually but generally in how we think, and laugh at the difference sometimes. 

   My pillows. Yeah I always love my pillows, but today is a good day for being grateful for them because I have new pillowcases. Not for the regular, big pillows, but two smaller ones, one of which I put on top of my big pillow when I sleep and keep my PlexTalk  under it, and the other is for all kinds of unexpected needs and situations and for Misha when he wants to sleep in the bed rather than on it as he usually does. And then I also have three larger, additional pillows just in case, haha, but that’s not relevant here. Anyway, the pillowcases I had on the two, smaller pillows got badly torn as I had them for ages, and before I got some new pillowcases for these  pillows, for some time I slept without an additional pillow and that sucked because I’m totally not used to it – my Dad only sleeps on one, flat pillow and now I’m not surprised he has sleep apnea, I think it wouldn’t take long for me to develop it sleeping like that all the time – so then I got a different pillow, which was bulkier than the one I usually put on top of my regular pillow, so then in turn it felt way too high, and it muffled my PlexTalk quite effectively. So I was really happy and relieved when I finally got brand new pillowcases  and could sleep with my actual pillow. The right or wrong pillow can really make a huge change. 😀 

  1.    That I can be helpful for my Mum with her iPhone. I really like it when I can be helpful for people, and while my Mum likes her iPhone and says that it is indeed a lot more comfortable than any of her previous Android phones, she also needs a bit of help or a tip on how to do something with it quite regularly. Even if I don’t know how to do something, it looks like it’s easier to research it for me than for Mum. Perhaps because I always automatically do it in English and there’s more info on most topics in English online. Funnily enough, since last week, she’s been saying that perhaps she’d like to buy herself an Apple Watch, because it would make it easier for her to take calls when out and about and she hopes it would be better for measuring how many kilometres she runs and bikes. I think it’s funny at what pace we’re becoming the Apple family. 😀 I am very seriously planning to sway Dad to the Apple camp by the end of next year as well, just cus why not? Olek will be all alone with a Samsung. 😀 I know it’s beyond my abilities to convince Olek as his choice is fully conscious and informed, and because of that I wouldn’t even want to change it as it wouldn’t make too much sense. I already told Dad how Apple has CarPlay and that seems to have appealed to him as a lorry driver. 
  2.    doing relatively well mentally. July and August were awful for me with loads of what I call sensory anxiety for the purpose of this blog, which was going up and downn a lot and which was mostly caused by an unusual amount of sleep paralysis episodes that I had at that time and that they also were quite unusually intense and long, so that things felt quite out of control and I had a hard time functioning normally. Lately things have calmed down significantly and for long enough that I think I can say this month has been better, even despite horrid dreams and anxiety at night afterwards that I had earlier this week. 
  3.    Lots of yummy fruit. We still have raspberries in our garden! They haven’t been very sweet this year, but are still good, and it’s always nice to have home-grown raspberries rather than have to buy them from someone/somewhere else. We also have loads of pears, more than we can eat, in fact, so Mum is making some sort of mousse from themm or something. We also have a lot of apples (as befits the Apple family lol). And even blueberries, though these aren’t home-grown, Mum just bought a lot of them a while back to freeze. So we eat a lot of fruits and it’s really nice that we can do it. 
  4.    Chilly weather, which is chilly and cosy enough for me to be able to wear my fluffy overalls in the evenings again. For me that always means that autumn has properly started. 😀 
  5.    My language progress. It hasn’t felt like anything huge, but I’m always grateful even for a very little bit that my brain absorbs. Also what I feel particularly happy about, and what is particularly tangible for me, is that because of my Norwegian learning, I can feel my Swedish strengthening significantly as well. I was kind of worried it would be the oppposite and that I’d end up having a jumble of the two and would regret my silly out-of-the-blue affair with Norwegian. I’m so glad that it’s not the case, as well as that, for that matter, my relationship with Norwegian has definitely become a steady one by now, as we’ve been together for over a year now. 

   How about you, lovely people? What are you grateful for this week? How has it been for you overall? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What do you wish you were really good at? 

   My answer: 

   I kind of wish I were better at all things technology. I’m not particularly into it, only to the extent that it actually helps me, which is quite a large extent given that I’m blind, and as I always say an average blind person who wants to function well and do a lot of daily life things on their own has to have somewhat more of an idea about technology and how to effectively use it than their average sighted counterpart. I’ve heard from quite a few sighted people who don’t have much of an idea about it, including my Mum, how tech savvy I apparently am, in fact my Mum’s been saying it a lot lately probably because I’ve helped her set up and learn her new iPhone and she even said that she admires me for having transitioned to Mac completely on my own and learned it so quickly. To be honest, I’m still kind of surprised by it too, even though like I said I’m no power user or anything. 😀 But generally, despite my lack of deeper interest in technology, I sometimes think it would be really useful and helpful if I were able to do more advanced things with it, as it would consequently help me with other areas of life. For example, well now I obviously don’t use SAPI (the Microsoft speech API) since I’m on Mac, but I did back on Windows and SAPI5 had broken for me several times, and if I were more competent in this field, I could have been able to fix it by myself, rather than ask all sorts of people and have to explain to everyone what SAPI is, and that would be really neat. Or I could make a lot of things potentially easier for myself. Or help other people more. Or be some sort of accessibility advocate, as online accessibility is something I obviously care a lot about since it concerns me very directly but it’s difficult to tell other people like app developers about it when they do something wrong accessibility-wise because I don’t know what to suggest them to make it right, or sometimes even how to describe the accessibility issue so that it would make sense to a non-screen-reader user. Or, going back to speech synthesis, I’ve always wanted to have a speech synth off my Mum or Sofi, and now there are quite a few possibilities to create your home-made, decent-sounding speech synthesiser, without having to go bancrupt and having a professional company do it, but to someone like me, it sounds extremely difficult and cumbersome, and not really doable at all. But, like I said, I don’t really have a strong enough interest in technology and related stuff, and I guess you have to have a particular type of brain and way of thinking for that, kind of like for math, so I’m not really determined enough to actually try and become more tech-savvy. 

   What’s such a skill for you? 🙂 

Question of the day (8th September).

   What are small problems you have daily? 

   My answer: 

   The first thing that comes to my mind is definitely peopling. I have all kinds of problems around peopling, big and small. But, to mention a small one, I always have a problem deciding if saying or doing something when interacting with someone is okay. I always overthink it massively and end up making the conclusion that either way it can potentially be seen as rude or something like that. Like today, I was thinking a lot about an interaction I’ve been having with someone, and had a bucket load of dilemmas. Should I ask them this question, or will they think it’s daft or intrusive? But if I don’t ask anything, it’ll seem like I’m generally uninterested and don’t care. How should I respond to this? Will this message even sound coherent to someone else than me? etc. etc. etc. All kinds of things. That’s why I say that online communication doesn’t always necessarily make it easier for me to talk to people. Especially if I write to someone new, I proofread a flipping three-line message ten times, and then sit in front of it for five minutes scared of sending it. Other times, I tell myself I think about it too much and no one does it and I should do whatever my gut feeling tells me, and only ruminate afterwards, and often regret something as well, because as much as I generally find my intuition to be very helpful, it isn’t necessarily so helpful when it comes to interactions with people, so if I go with my gut feeling I often end up either revealing myself more than I’d like or seeming very stiff. It’s not always what people will think of me type of dilemmas but also what’s appropriate more practically, like what people generally do in such and such situation, or finding a sort of balance when interacting with people so that you don’t do something too much or too little. So what I often do is I ask my Mum for advice and ask her all kinds of dumb questions. She isn’t always able to help, because she hasn’t always been in the same situations or because she just doesn’t get my perspective, but very often she can help at least a bit. When my  friend Jacek from Helsinki was still a part of this world and when we got a bit closer to each other, I would often also ask him, because he was an extreme extrovert and always knew what to do when peopling and was very successful at it, but at the same time he could understand my difficulties fairly well despite that, I would even ask him about in person peopling and whether something I did looked alright or not so much, or whether something wouldn’t draw too much attention etc. and he’d generally have more distance than my Mum so his input could be very valuable. I often also learn about such things from books and observing people. But while it is all helpful, I still deal with a lot of problems around peopling every single day. Many of them I’m so used to that I don’t even consciously think about them very often as problems, but I probably would if I, say, had a job that would involve me interacting with people a lot, and would require what they call soft skills these days. 

   How about you? 🙂 

Question of the day (7th September).

   What’s your biggest high school regret? 

   My answer: 

   That would definitely have to be that I went along with my Mum’s idea that I should pass my finals in a school for the blind. I went to a mainstream high school, so called high school for adults which meant we had classes only some days a week and in the evenings, and it was generally a lot less demanding than a regular high school, you didn’t pick your main subjects or anything like that. I didn’t have to go there and could pick just a regular high school, because I was just nineteen at the time and I was going there straight from secondary/junior high school/whatever other equivalent  you have in your country before high school, and it was very unambitious of me, but I went this route thinking it would be a lot less difficult for me practically and less stressful in general, with all the peopling and other stuff that I didn’t really feel I needed. In the end it went even better because some teachers were so scared of me that they embraced my suggestion that I would just homeschool myself at home and they would send me control assignment topics and exam dates and I would send them control assignments and only come to school for exams every half-term. That worked really well for me also because a lot of what my classmates did was based either on slides or textbooks, and I obviously couldn’t see the former and didn’t have the latter in an accessible format, so it felt like a huge waste of time. This way I was also able to have more hours with my math tutor, who was a special ed teacher for the blind and deaf, since as you all probably know by now I sucked at math and my school teacher had no clue how to teach the subject to a blind student, especially one like me hehe, despite her best intentions. Despite loads of hours of tutoring that I had, lots of homework that I got from my tutor and my desperate and mostly fruitless hours of trying to learn it myself somehow, I was pretty sure that I was going to fail my math finals pretty miserably and my Mum was worried about it too. So she thought that perhaps it would be easier for me if I could do them at a blind school. Not the one that I used to go to, but one a bit closer to us. I knew that when you have to have an official school exam and have some special educational needs, then it has to be adapted for your needs, but we were slightly worried if it’s going to be the case because when at some point the deputy head asked me if I’m going to take the finals and I just casually mentioned that I’ll need to have them adapted, in Braille and all that, she was absolutely flabbergasted. Plus, I thought I’d generally feel safer with the math exam specifically when I had competent people in the committee, even though they obviously wouldn’t be able to help me with the exam itself or anything like that.

   We were even more enthusiastic about it when it turned out that, in that school, unlike my previous blind school, each student writes their exams in a separate room. It can feel awkward, especially if you’re like me and always finish exams super fast, whether you’ve done it really well or really badly, because if I know everything, why would I need to take an eternity writing it, and if I don’t know anything, why would I sit around wasting everyone’s time pretending to do something? It’s even more awkward, because, very unfortunately for me, when you have special educational needs, you have more time for doing the exams. So whenever I had some official exam and said I was finished, everyone was all like: “Already?! Are you sure?” sounding extremely surprised and kind of suspicious. But if I sat with it for longer just to seem like I’m still writing, checking it for the 30th time in a row, the time flows agonisingly slow. Especially if you have a zombie day like I had on the day of my Polish final, or when you get a migraine like I got on my math final. 😀 But, overall, having a room and a committee just for yourself can also feel better than being in a room with loads of other people, especially if everyone writes on a Brailler and these tend to be loud-ish. I just generally had a good feeling about it, or perhaps I decided to trust Mum’s feeling, despite I actually had quite a bad experience with that school from a couple years earlier. Namely, after I left the blind school that I went to for most of my education, there was a few months of limbo that I had and we didn’t really know what to do with my education further except that I wouldn’t go back there. So my Mum got an idea that we would go ask in this blind school closer to us if they’d perhaps be able to help somehow, though we weren’t even sure how, but perhaps a bit naively thought that something along the lines of letting me use their educational resources or sending a teacher at least once in a while to help me with schoolwork. They said that, hm no, this isn’t something we do, and then the situation had a yucky twist because they all suddenly started to persuade me that I should join their boarding school. Well, I certainly didn’t leave one boarding school to replace it with another, that generally has worse reputation among blind people from what I know of, so I was absolutely adamant that I was not going to do this, but they kept trying to convince me and before I knew it there was a whole team of people of all kinds of professions surrounding me and telling me how I need their school but just don’t know it yet, and I was feeling increasingly like I was about to go crazy. It’s a frequent theme in my nightmares, both regular and sleep paralysis ones, that someone tries to convince me to do something or wants to do something to me and I keep telling them that no, for fuck’s sake, I don’t want it, yet they keep shoving it in my face and then end up either doing what they want or forcing me to do something, so it always makes me feel kind of threatened or something when this happens in real life, let alone a situation like that, I seriously thought I was in a dream. 😀 What was worse was that they ended up almost convincing my parents, and I still had a few months until turning eighteen so when we finally left, they were feeling very much that I should go there. Rescue came to me from the most unexpected direction I could imagine, and my grandad also deserves some credit, but that’s a different and unrelated story. 

   Going back to my finals, in the end, I donn’t think it made a substantial enough difference for me that you could really call it a difference at all that I took the exams in that school. Especially that I ended up failing math anyway. And it was all extremely stressful not only for me but also my parents, who had to drive several times back and forth, as this school is several hours drive away. I guess only Sofi enjoyed it and whenever the topic comes up, she always says how she’d like to go back there again because she has nice associations with that time and enjoyed sleeping in a hotel when we decided to stay in that town one night. Some bits about that experience were kind of triggering for me and in particular dealing with their “amazing” headmistress, I don’t think I’ve ever had to do with an equally or more toxic and just all round unpleasant being in my life, almost like an embodiment of Maggie my inner critic, even their names are etymologically related. Ever since then I always hear Maggie speak in her voice. 😀 If she’s like that with her regular students, I feel extremely sorry for each one of them and wonder how much counselling they’ll need later on in life, they should get compensations or something. 

   How about your high school regrets? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What’s one thing you still prefer to do the old-fashioned way, regardless of technology and why? 

   My answer: 

   I’ve talked about this before, but definitely reading books. And no, obviously I don’t mean that I prefer reading physical books over ebooks/audiobooks, that would be cool if I could actually afford it and have enough place to store all those books, because I’d love to be able to read physical books, but it’s inconvenient, clunky, and either limiting when you get them from a library, because Braille books are costly and slow to produce so the available books are FAAAAR fewer than standard print, or it’s super expensive if you’re desperate enough to order a book to be printed just for yourself. 

   What I actually mean is that I much prefer reading books on a specialised device for the blind like a book player or a Braille display, rather than on the phone, which seems to be the most popular option right now among blind people. Specialised book players are no longer particularly trendy and aren’t even produced as much as they used to be, simply because people are turning to phones now which are cheaper than specialised devices, and it doesn’t pay off for people to buy a specialised device for double the price of an iPhone when such a device has a lot fewer functions, even if oftentimes the functions it does have work better than on an iPhone because it was made to do a few specific things rather than everything possible. Book players are more of a thing with older blind people, like such who have lost their sight later in life and don’t necessarily feel up to learning how to use an iPhone blindly when they never even had a desire to that when they could still see. Their advantage is that they are obviously always accessible, and very intuitive and easy to use. Braille displays/notetakers  are of course still in demand because people use them in connection with their mainstream devices like a phone or computer, but still I guess few people use their displays like that they just put an SD card in them and read books directly from them, without connecting to anything, like I do. 

   The reason why I prefer reading books the way I do is very simple – because that’s what I’m used to and because that is most comfortable to me. – My current book player that I’ve had for some seven years (although not the same copy). While it is still sold, its firmware hasn’t been developed in a couple years and will no longer be, so it has lost some of its features already. For example  sharing files between it and a computer over a network folder because the protocol it used for that is outdated and no longer secure and no self-respecting computer will let you do that anymore. Which is generally a bummer because, yeah, you can of course theoretically connect it via USB like anyone sane would, except it’s not the best idea because when you unplug it, it just freezes and dies, and you have to take the battery out and put it back in, and if you need to exchange files on it regularly it’s not cool because sooner or later you’re going to damage the battery holder from constant playing with it. This has been a bug since forever and I know a few other people who’ve had it, but it never ended up being properly solved. So now I just use an SD adapter instead rather thann connecting to the PlexTalk as such when I want to add new files. But worse yet is the fact that it has lost support for Audible, because Audible ditched its older audio format. I was disconsolate because the sole reason for why I chose PlexTalk over a much cheaper device of its kind (which had the Jacek voice in it unlike PlexTalk!!! 😭) when I last got funding was because PlexTalk is the only one I know about here in Poland that supports Audible, and back then Audible was my only source of English books except for BookShare, and then after a few months there’s no Audible. I wrote both to Audible people and to Shinano Kenshi (PlexTalk) people but Audible people very gently expressed that they don’t really care, and Shinano Kenshi people wrote to me like half a year later (because they’re doing other things now, duh) saying that, yeeeah, they could, theoretically, maybe, add the support for the new format (which has also been around for quite some time already and it’s not like Audible has suddenly introduced a new one and ditched the old one simultaneously) but it doesn’t really pay off, to sum it up shortly.

   In the meantime (between Audible ditching its old format and Shinano Kenshi responding to me) I finally got myself an iPhone, and part of my motivation was to have easier access to Audible, and to finally get used to read like most people (using the app Voice Dream Reader) because it also has the Jacek voice in it and because I kept hearing how it’s so so cool and as good as a book player. 

   I tried several times to make this transition, both with audiobooks and with ebooks, but it just doesn’t work for me. With all its annoyingness, I like PlexTalk because it’s small, so I can put it under my pillow and read in bed like that. It doesn’t really feel like an option with a phone, I mean I could theoretically, but, uh, who sleeps with a phone under the pillow. And the radiation and everything! PlexTalk has Wi-Fi, but I don’t use it anyway, so it’s always turned off for me, and even if it still emits some radiation it’s never going to be nowhere near that of an iPhone. Or I can read much more comfortably in the car or a public place. With an iPhone, I would have to also bring  headphones, and I’m a control freak and don’t like having my hearing limited while being around other people in not very familiar places or situations, and with PlexTalk I can just keep it at a low volume near my cheek and have everything under control, no one hears it but I do perfectly fine. I’ve done that for ages and it’s just the only thing that feels right. Also if I’m reading in bed, I’m used to also having some music or radio quietly going on in the background, because a softly speaking speech synth alone going from a mini mono speaker doesn’t fulfill my need for sound entirely, and I use my phone for the music/radio, so I can’t simultaneously use it for reading because it would be one big chaos. Unless Apple one day introduces the possibility to have multiple audio outputs at the same time, and regulating the volume of each separately, then I might reconsider it once again.

   And another thing is, I am just not crazy about Voice Dream Reader at all. I don’t want to say I don’t like it, because i can see it is generally a very good reading app compared to other reading phone apps, and it’s amazing that it exists because I still do use it sometimes for language learning and many people find it very useful. Oh yeah, and there’s Jacek, I even purchased him in the app, and I also bought a Welsh voice because I have none on the computer anymore after it got lost irretrievably just like Jacek so I read Welsh stuff with Voice Dream Reader out of necessity because I myself am a very slow Welsh reader, even though it’s a south Welsh voice as opposed to North Welsh which I’m learning, and reads some colloquial things really oddly. In my opinion, Voice Dream Reader doesn’t work very smoothly with Braille, it keeps losing focus or throws me into random places in the text when panning (moving through the lines of Braille) and Braille reading like that is just really cumbersome and annoying. . And even if you don’t read Braille but just listen to speech, navigating within that book isn’t quite as smooth and precise as it is in all the specialised devices that I’ve used so far, and I’ve used four different kinds in my life. That’s all probably because Voice Dream Reader isn’t really an app for the blind, but generally people with all sorts of print disabilities so it doesn’t really cater to any of these disabilities in particular I guess but just tries to work for everyone.

   So yeah, I much prefer either my PlexTalk, for reading with a speech synth, or Braille-Sense (my Braille notetaker) as a standalone for reading books in Braille. 

   My eccentric reading requirements, unfortunately, meant that I had to figure out how to strip DRM’s from Audible, alongside all sorts of English-language ebooks from major retailers (really people, why don’t you just use watermarks? :O ) which I feel very sad about that I have to do it, but if they don’t want to be like properly inclusive… Perhaps at some point when/if the Marrakesh Treaty will become a thing in practice everywhere I won’t have to buy mainstream books anymore. Or regarding Audible alone I’ve heard that there is/is going to be some new device that actually supports the enhanced Audible format, so when my PlexTalk stops working and I’ll have a good gut feeling about that other device in general I’ll happily buy it instead, because it’s not like it’s some extreme fun spending an hour stripping books, the more that I have to do it on Sofi’s PC because I don’t know of a way to do it on Mac that would be both accessible and secure and that’s an inconvenience for us both. So let’s hope that Audible doesn’t come up with a new format until my PlexTalk dies, lol. 

   How about you? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What do you spend your money on? 

   My answer: 

   As you regular people on here probably know by now, I am in a very lucky and privileged situation that, despite being disabled and as a result on low income, I have the luxury of being able to spend my money mostly just on the things I want, rather than the things I need. This is because I live with my family – my parents and my siblings – so we share expenses for stuff like bills and food and such between each other, except obviously for Sofi who is a kid. For example I pay for electricity because I use it loads more than anyone else here, or for all Misha’s food, though that one is quite obvious really because as much as Misha is all of us’ cat and we all feed him and stuff, technically it’s me who owns him so it’s like logical that I should make sure he has everything he needs, and Olek pays for water or buys  the every day groceries or at least funds them. That means that I don’t have to care for all the bills and food and possibly even rent and things like that myself and this way, I don’t really feel any financial strain like I’m sure I would if I were living on my own. I do have a job at my Dad’s for whom it is lucrative to employ me because here when you employ a disabled person, all the costs of it that you have to bear are covered or partly funded by the State Fund for the Rehabilitation of The Disabled, like for adapting such employee’s workplace, trainings etc. And then you also get funding for the employment of such individuals. So I earn the minimum wage at my Dad’s and receive several kinds of disability benefits which I am eligible for. I mostly try to save up as much as I can, because I have no idea how long my Dad will be able to employ me and what my future will look like in general. But my Mum rightly says that it’s kind of irrational to only frantically save up for the future when you don’t even know how long you’re going to live and, just like I said, how that future is going to look like, perhaps something major is going to happen in the world of economy and all savings you’ve accumulated won’t matter anymore. Therefore I also use that money to satisfy all sorts of my whims, bigger and smaller.

   So, aside for spending my money on obvious necessities and mundane things, I have quite a few subscriptions – for example things like Spotify which I can’t imagine using the free version of in a serious way given that I listen to music at night, and YouTube which I subscribe pretty much solely because I hate not being able to lock my screen while watching something, which is absurd given that I’m blind and it’s just a waste of battery life and everything, and I share these subscriptions with my family, or Mum and Sofi more exactly. I also have a subscription for the website where I do my Welsh learning from and a couple other things. – I buy loads of books. Actually other than the recurring expenses, I think I buy books most often, especially ever since I’ve started to seriously read English books because English books are easier to get. I do use our Polish blind library as well as BookShare which is an American library for people with print disabilities, and I typically look for free versions of books there first but I still end up buying a lot of books anyway. I still haven’t found a good source for Swedish ebooks/audiobooks that would be both accessible and available for people from outside of Sweden, but if I find one I’ll definitely be spending even more on books but I don’t really feel guilty about it or anything like that as I think books are a great thing. 

   Occasionally I’ll also buy music but this has to be really good for me to do it, so it’s usually only of my faza people whose music I much prefer to always have available offline. 

   I buy a lot of food that I like but no one else here does, be it regular food or candy, and I buy lots of snacks for my poor, unhappy Misha whose only real joys in life appear to be food and sleep. I’m not a huge fast food eater in that I don’t like a lot of fast food, but once in a while I’ll order a KFC takeaway for me and Sofi especially if I want to get something out of her or if there’s nothing more interesting in our own fridge at a given moment. 

   I love to expand my gem stone collection and happily invest in that if only I am able to, though it is not a cheap hobby so it’s not like I buy a stone every week or even every month, and also a lot of stones in my collection I have actually gotten from other people like my Mum or my grandad or my math tutor whose brother used to collect crystals and minerals as well, or like that one time I got a free sapphire ball (her name is Cecilia as in Cecilia Lind) from a minerals shop owner in Stockholm. 

   I buy relatively a lot of tech, , although I also get fundings for a lot of it if I am able to because in particular specialised devices for the blind also have very specialised prices. But like last year I bought myself a MacBook Air for Christmas, and earlier that year I bought myself an iPad as well, and that felt like one huge whim even though it wasn’t really, because originally I didn’t really plan to buy both of these in such short time but felt a bit pressed by various external circumstances. In the end I’m really happy with it though and I’m really glad with these decisions. Then just recently I persuaded my Mum to also make the switch to Apple and join Sofi and me, and we bought her an iPhone with Sofi for her name day, but obviously Sofi is a kid so her input was more symbolic than anything. Of course I totally didn’t mind that, because as much as I generally find the whole presents thing super awkward, I do like giving people presents when I’m sure that they will like something and I knew that she would eventually love her iPhone and that it was worth it, and she’s already loving it. As I wrote in a recent post, Olek is going nuts because he once had, as he put it “Samsungised” our family, only for me to “iPhonise” them now, and he was joking that he won’t speak to us anymore. I liked my success with transitioning Mum to Apple and I thought that my goal for 2023 will be to drive Olek further up the wall and convince my Dad to make the move. That is going to be more difficult, but I’m curious to find out how good my persuasive skills are, and I really do think that if he could go past the getting used to phase, which would undoubtedly be a lot more difficult than with my Mum, he would end up liking it too. I’m not sure if I’ll still be up to funding it though, because unlike Sofi, my Dad isn’t a minor, and unlike my Mum, he isn’t unemployed and on caregiver benefits. When I was helping my Mum with the move, I was at the same time in need of a more accessible controller for my AC, because using it with the totally inaccessible remote was really getting on my nerves and I wasn’t really able to do that independently and efficiently. So I wanted to buy myself a smart AC controller that I knew was accessible because unlike my AC itself it’s compatible with HomeKit, which automatically makes it accessible, but it also wasn’t a very cheap thing. My Mum offered that she could buy it for me which I gratefully accepted, but she’s been borderline broke for quite some time now so eventually I decided that I might as well buy it myself since I am not broke and I’d have a lot more use of it now than in the autumn or whenever my Mum will become un-broke. Mum helped me set it up last Friday and it works really well for me, I felt so happy being able to ditch the old remote. I am all the more relieved to have done it that, as much as it hasn’t been too hot for over a week, we’re said to have some major heatwaves now in the first half of August all over again. 

   And I also spend some money on supporting people or organisations who do something that I support or really care about. This has changed over the years because there are so many people who do great things and so many people who need support or help or stuff like that, but currently both my Mum and me are patrons of one Polish Catholic YouTuber who talks about stuff that we care about on his channel and he’s actually become a Traditional Catholic a couple months before our family if I remember correctly, and he’s from our area, so now that we attend exclusively Traditional Latin Mass and so does he, we’re fellow parishioners and my Mum talked to him and to his wife once. He’s no celebrity or anything but it’s kind of funny to get to know like that someone whom you’d previously watched a lot on YouTube, especially for Sofi. 😀 Other than that, even though I’ve moved pretty much entirely from Windows to Mac OS around January, I still donate to support NVDA – the free Windows screen reader which is the screen reader that I have used on that system most extensively. – Even though I now only use Windows on Sofi’s computer to convert my books to formats that actually suit me because I still haven’t figured out an easy and accessible way to do that on Mac, I still do use NVDA on that, and even if I hadn’t, it doesn’t mean I automatically don’t care, I think it’s very important for it to develop because it’s a very good screen reader, and it’s free, and good and free is a fairly rare combination where technology is concerned I suppose. 😀 

   And that would be about it, I think. 

   Now, how about you? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   Hey all you people! 🙂 

   What are things that are seemingly easy for others but are very hard for you? 

   My answer: 

   Oh my flip, do I really have to list all of them now? 😀 It would have to be like a whole series of posts – “Things That Other People Can Do, But Bibielz Don’t Have a Clue How, in 50 parts. – 😀 Well I think I’ll just mention a few, I’ve just had a migraine and my brain’s still a bit spacey from that so I don’t feel like writing a series, plus really who needs a whole series of all the things Bibielz can’t do. 😀 

   So yeah, the obvious thing would be peopling. I’ve no idea how people do that and know what to say when and have the right emotional reactions to things and all that and how it’s not utterly draining for them. Logically, I’d think that if they can do peopling better than me, then they should be all the more drained by it, perhaps except for people like my Sofi who really are extreme extroverts and simply love being around people and talking to anyone and stuff, but most people are somewhere in the middle I guess, so it’s weird for me that their brain batteries have so much capacity. But yeah, I’m really quite clueless about how to engage with people, and so if I want to do that well, I often ask my Mum for advice, and while she can be very helpful, it often blows her mind that someone has such weird dilemmas around peopling as I do. And no, it’s not just with some random stranger people, it’s with all people really. Which is one part of why I find it rather difficult to form closer relationships that go beyond some rather superficial level. 

   Then there’s math. Although, after a lot of fighting, particularly on my Mum’s side, I did get a certificate or whatever that would be called in English saying that I have dyscalculia, for some reason it’s generally not a thing to diagnose blind people with dyscalculia and I don’t really understand why. I mean yes, a lot of blind people struggle with math and one reason why that might be is a lack/some degree of impairment of spatial imagination due to blindness, so perhaps someone figured that all blind people must struggle with math due to this so no point to diagnose them with dyscalculia on top of that if it’s blindness that’s responsible for their math difficulties. Except I also know some congenitally blind people who are really good at math, so it’s definitely not a rule and people who are better at it can’t be classified as exceptions from the rule because it seems to be a lot of such people. Plus, if there really is such a strict correlation between blindness and math difficulties that diagnosing people with dyscalculia makes no sense, then blind people should automatically have lowered requirements on all sorts of official math exams, just like dyscalculics/acalculics do, which is not a thing. Or we need some sort of additional criteria that would help in telling which blind people need those and which do not. Anyways, even though I got that certificate, and even though I often call my math difficulties dyscalculia because it’s kinda easier especially for other folks to understand, it doesn’t really look exactly like dyscalculia I think. It’s not like I can’t do counting at all or can’t understand stuff like time and such which is common among people with dyscalculia from what I’ve been told. I have no problem counting backwards, or doing some easy math in my brain, I even know the times tables to 100, which our 15-year-old Sofi still does not despite a lot of effort on her part so she laughs at me that I’m a total math geek compared to her lol. I usually had no problem learning theoretical math stuff at school and it seemed like I was able to understand it, but still applying it in practice was always difficult for me. With more complex calculations that have a couple steps or involve larger numbers, I’ve usually no clue what operations I actually have to do to get the result I need. I have that weird problem that when I read a digit, I read it right, but at the same time think of a completely different one, and it all gets really meddled in my brain. Same when someone dictates some digits to me, be it a mathematical operation, a code or whatever else really, I’ll hear the numbers right, but often end up writing different ones, and only realise that I did when something goes wrong later on. Or when I was at school we often had to read our homework aloud, and even though a boarding school staff would often spend several hours helping me do it the evening before and I had it done well, I would still often get a bad grade from it because I would read different numbers than the ones I actually wrote. It’s quite weird. I also have a problem using a calculator, not just because I often don’t know what operations to do to get the result I need, but also again because the numbers and all the plus minus etc. Keys get mixed up in my brain. Same even about digit keys on the computer, I have to really think when typing digits, especially in a string, because I usually make some mistake in there and then have to proofread and figure out if I did indeed and where exactly. 😀 So it’s funny actually that formally my job at my Dad’s includes making bank transfers. I wonder what would happen if he actually let me do that. 😀 I don’t even do my own transfers myself, I always ask my Mum, because I’m scared I’ll do something wrong and, like, send someone 3000 dollars instead of 300. Generally shopping is always a more or less stressful thing to me. I can deal with my own PIN codes and stuff like that because God bless Braille and the fact that digits in it are based on letters. What I mean is, if you want to write numbers in Braille, you have to precede them with a number sign so that it’s clear that these are numbers and not letters, and then numbers from 1 to 9 are letters from A to I, and 0 is J. So if I have to use a PIN code or something similar, I choose words from my various languages that can be written in Braille as digits, which makes them a lot easier to remember and type in. For example the Polish word babcia (granny) changes into 212391 if preceded by the number sign in Braille. This is helpful even if I don’t type in Braille but just any other keyboard or anything because I simply have to memorise the word and then it’s no problem to know what the numbers are. I also struggle with estimating numbers, like prices and stuff like that. One annoying problem that I also had with math at school was that I could do pretty well with it if I had someone sitting next to me and telling me what to do next and generally guiding me. I’d think for myself, but they’d just sort of help me figure out what to do next. And then I would often do everything really well and people would wonder what the problem really is with me and math when there’s no problem. But, as soon as the person would disappear, I’d have no clue what to do. It was super frustrating for me when I worked with my math tutor while at the mainstream high school, and she would often give me some homework to do. So in order to not forget how to do what we’d just been doing during our lesson, I’d sit down to my homework as soon as we were finished with the lesson, except my brain no longer knew how to do it. Perhaps if she’d given me the exact same math problem that we did during the lesson, maybe I’d be able to do it on my own, with the emphasis on maybe. 😀 So I’d be confused as to which operations to do when, and something would always go wrong. Especially if I ended up mixing up some numbers in the meantime as well, and as a result I could rarely get the right result. Interestingly enough, Sofi has exactly the same problem now, and for her it’s also similar to how it’s been for me inn that it’s gotten a lot worse around fourth grade. Sofi’s actually a preemie, and my aforementioned tutor also worked with her. She specialises in working with special needs students, especially blind and deaf but also more generally, and Sofi has no diagnosed special needs, but when my Mum asked her if she could help Sofi out she was willing to do it and taught both of us. So she spent like two hours with me (because I was preparing for finals at that time as well) and an hour with Sofi and we both marvelled at how she has so much patience and joked that this is why she gets ill so often, because she really got very ill with some sinus stuff or other such every few weeks. And quite soon after she started working with Sofi she said that it seems like Sofi might have some mild learning disability due to being born prematurely and suggested that she should be evaluated or something, but Mum didn’t go deeper into that as she didn’t think it could actually be practically helpful even if she was diagnoseable with something, because Sofi doesn’t have any academic ambitions really so she doesn’t even have to do the normal high school but can go to vocation school or something like that if she wants. Indeed, Sofi now says that she would like to be a plumber, or should I say a plumbress, lol, but still I think perhaps that would have been useful for her anyway. Now Sofi has a “mainstream” tutor and she – Sofi, not the tutor – tells me that she’s really struggling with her, because the tutor seems to think that Sofi’s just lazy or stupid or something, when actually she understands everything quite well during the lessons, it’s just when she has to do something completely on her own with no guiding that she has no clue how to actually apply what she knows in practice and just writes nonsense. 

   Other than math, Bibielz also can’t do a lot of seemingly simple manual things. Like how the flip do people even tie their shoe laces?! I’d been taught that in preschool, then at school, then my Dad tried his luck and I still don’t know how to do it. It’s kinda like with math, I know in theory what you have to do in order to do it, but I still don’t know how to do it in practice anyway. Not that I care, I can just wear shoes without laces, but yeah, that’s just another thing that Bibielz can’t do and that’s a mystery for me how other peoplez do it. And a lot of other things like that, like how do people do it that they can cut their food into even pieces, well generally cut either with a knife or with scissors properly? In my blind school, we had to eat with a knife and fork, one of the staff even said that we should eat vegetables that we would eat alongside sandwiches for breakfast with a knife and fork rather than just with our fingers as I guess most normal people do, though noone actually did it, and while I can eat with a knife and fork no problem, cutting food is another thing, so someone always either had to help me do it, or do it for me. We had such subject at school which I have no idea how to translate it to English, we learned how to do artsy things there (or as Sofi says “plast plast”) but also things like cooking or sewing or such. I had great luck that pretty much all the people who went to this particular class with me also struggled with it and most were intellectually disabled, and it was a pretty small group of just four people most of the time so our teacher was able to give everyone quite a lot of attention and make sure that no one would make too much of a mess during their crafty endeavours, wouldn’t ruin a Mother’s Day card or other clay figurine for their mummy so much that it would actually show that they did it totally independently, or chop their whole finger off and mix into the salad. 😀 I was also super lucky that this teacher actually really liked me despite  my shortcomings at her subject, and as soon as she discovered that I am decent at writing, we’d made an unspoken deal that I would make up lovely little poems for various cards that my classmates were making for various occasions, or for school events or stuff like that, while she would do most of the manual labour for me, which I was super grateful for. Or whenever she would learn about any art competitions for her students to take part in that also accepted literary forms, she would encourage me to take part in them and I would work at some short stories or stuff like that during our lessons. When I came back home from that school, I mean for good, I really wanted to learn at least some basic cooking or something like that, and wanted to help my Mum make dinner, so she told me to cut up vegetables. It went fairly decent for a while, even though my vegetable pieces were in all sorts of shapes, but then at some point I cut my finger pretty badly and there was so much blood that my poor Mum got really scared, and now she’s very reluctant to let me do anything more serious in the kitchen. 😀 

   Yeah, so these are a few example things that Bibielz can’t do. 🙂 

   Now your turn. 🙂 

Question of the day.

   How do you people deal with heat? 

   My answer: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

   What are your strategies? 🙂 

How do I feel about my age?

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

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

   How do you feel about your age? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question of the day.

   Who was the worst teacher you’d ever had? 

   My answer: 

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

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

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

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

   How about your worst teacher(s)? 🙂 

Question of the day (23rd May).

   Hi people! 🙂 

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

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

   My answer: 

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

   You? 🙂 

Question of the day.

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

   My answer: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   How about you? 🙂 

Question of the day (13th May).

   Hiya people! 🙂 

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

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

   My answer: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   How about you? 🙂 

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’s going on in your life right now? 

   My answer: 

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

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

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

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

   Your turn. 🙂 

(Almost) ten things I am really good at.

   It feels like, ever since I’ve got my Mac, I haven’t really posted anything longer. But now I’m mostly used to all the basic stuff on it, and have figured out how to blog from it, so I figured I’d finally do some journalling prompt-inspired post now. 

   I am going to go with a prompt from the book called 200+ Journal Prompts for the Mind, Body and Soul by Riley Reigns and the prompt I chose to do is as follows: 

   What are 10 things you are really good at? 

   I have to say that these kinds of prompts aren’t really easy for me and I don’t really like them, because I never know what to respond with. I mean, sure, we’re all good at something, have some good traits etc. But I usually have a hard time coming up with things and also even though I’m normally not a perfectionist, I feel like I’d have to be significantly good at something to include it in a list like this. But, I decided to take it as a little challenge and see how it goes and if I can actually come up with ten things. So, here we go: 

  1.    Language stuff. As I frequently say, I don’t believe there’s such a thing as language talent. You simply have to like a language and find a learning method that suits your particular brain architecture, because when you like something, it’s easier. Or at least the difficult aspects of it are a lot less daunting than they were if you hated it, and you have a lot more motivation. I feel for people who have to learn a language they dislike or feel meh about, for school or for business purposes or due to emigrating or whatever else. That being said, I think there is an area in language learning that is definitely easier if you have a bit of a talent for it, and that is picking up the sounds. And I feel lucky in this aspect too. It used to really surprise me how people often don’t hear the difference between sounds in a language that are similar yet, to me at least, clearly different. But it seems to happen to people frequently so I feel really privileged that I hear those things, it makes learning languages a lot easier. Often it also means that I have it easier to reproduce these sounds even though they may not be a part of my native language, though sometimes it may still take time for it to sound natural and other times I may be able to differentiate sounds in someone’s speech but be clueless as for how the flip they make a particular sound, like I don’t think I would ever be able to speak Danish convincingly, although I’ve been told that apparently getting drunk and speaking Swedish is a successful strategy for some people but I don’t even drink at all these days so thank God that I’m not in love with it or have never had a faza from Denmark or I’d have a huge problem. Even in Swedish, they have a sound called Viby-I, or Lidingö-I, which is a variation of your usual ee sound except it’s definitely not the same. It’s something that used to only exist in some rural areas  but now, for whatever reason, it’s common in Stockholm and Gothenburg and is considered a posh thing. I was always taught that the letter I is pronounced as ee in Swedish, just like it is in Polish, except I would so often hear people pronouncing it in a way that sounded really odd to me especially when the I was long. Even when I got myself a proper Swedish speech synthesiser, she also pronounced the ee like that. I once asked my Swedish teacher about it but he seemed like he didn’t know what on Earth I was talking about. It bothered me, because it felt like if I can’t reproduce a sound that seems so common in Swedish and that people use all the time even in the media, I ca’t be like a really really good Swedish speaker, but eventually I just let it go, because I saw that some people don’t do it at all, so it can’t be a huge crime if I can’t, plus it doesn’t really sound all that cool. I once saw someone online describing it that it sounds as if you have a bit of peanut butter stuck in your throat, which is quite accurate imo. 😀 The normal ee sounds a lot better. But then I started learning Welsh and I was particularly interested in North Welsh, which has a very similar, but not quite the same, sound for the letter U. So if I wanted to sound properly North Welsh I just had to figure it out. It took me some time but for some reason was a bit easier for me than the Swedish I even though the difference there is very slight. And once I figured out the Welsh u, I was also able to do the Viby-I as well. Although I don’t really like it so it’s not how I actually speak Swedish, I don’t think it fits me at all and it feels kind of exaggerated. Also what I mean by “language stuff” is that I, at least in my native language, have quite an extensive vocabulary. People always say that to me and people in my family always come to me when they don’t know what some word means or aren’t sure how to say something. 😀 I really do like words and word play and learning new words and using them in interesting ways, and creating my own words. 
  2.     Judging people’s characters, observing people and analysing what I know about them. I don’t often feel like I am as good at it as some people tell me I am, like my grandad who goes as far as calling me X-Ray lol, mostly because i feel there’s so much I always miss because of not being able to see, as people always send so many visual cues about themselves – appearance, clothing, facial expressions, body language, gestures  – that are important, and sometimes not being able to pick up on those cues can skew the whole picture completely. But if we put all my limitations into consideration, i guess I’m quite good at it indeed. I like to rely on this skill a lot in my interactions with fellow human beings, as I always find them – the interactions, not necessarily the human beings as such, collectively – difficult, and having as many cues as you can is always helpful to some degree.  Plus, people are generally quite interesting and so complex and multi-dimensional. The variety in people’s personalities fascinates me quite a lot. Sometimes it works as a sort of defence mechanism as well. The downside to it is that when you use something like that a lot and it often works well, you might lose vigilance at some point and rely  on this too much, and it won’t always be right. I now know that my judgment isn’t always right and that I always have to keep it at the back of my mind that there’s a possibility that some or all of my assumptions are wrong, but I had to learn it through experience. 😀 
  3.     Listening. I like to listen to other people. Their problems, their stories, their fascinations. I like to listen about how they feel. And I believe a lot of people like to share their stuff with me because they often tell me things that I would consider personal, or. ask me for advice or something. And I’m happy about it, because often I feel like this is the only substantial way in which I am able to help other people, so it makes me feel useful. I’m not sure why people like me so much as a listener, other than that I’m an introvert and introverts are apparently generally considered good listeners (which I don’t think is a rule) but I’ve heard it a lot that people find it easier to talk about personal or difficult stuff when they’re not looked at and I can relate to that myself as well very much. So it makes total sense to me . I am often able to perceive when someone’s looking at me, particularly if they’re doing it in a very persistent way, and more like staring actually, though it’s not like I can feel it always, and sometimes I feel like someone is looking at me even though it ends up not being true. But I really don’t like talking to people about stuff that I feel kind of emotional about when they are looking at me, so I can understand that they might find it easier to talk to me than anyone else because I don’t look at their expressions. Also, listening to other people  saves me from talking a lot myself, or from having to deal with people focusing their attention on me. A lot of introverts don’t like to talk about themselves. I can’t say I always don’t, because with people I like and feel some common ground with, I like to talk about myself, but only when I want it, not when I’m forced to do so by circumstances and the expectation to do small talk, so in such situations I’d much rather listen. And you can learn a lot of interesting things this way. Sometimes, it gives you a totally new perspective on someone and their life than you’d have otherwise. Sometimes, when you have a lot going on in your own brain, listening to others is difficult and quite daunting, but I usually try not to show it too much unless I really feel that my brain can’t deal with someone else’s shit on top of my own and no one is going to benefit from this. I appreciate it that people consider me a good enough listener to come with their joys and struggles to me, and I try to be helpful and as attentive as I can. 
  4.     Avoiding people and scary situations. Well, I have AVPD for a reason I guess. 😀 I can be really creative and go to great lengths where avoidance is concerned. I can go as far as going out at night barefoot and in my PJ’s onto the terrace covered in snow and wallow in it to get sick and avoid going to school the next day. 😀 I hate peopling passionately and, as regular readers of my blog will know, I have lots of anxieties and phobias, big and small, so there’s lots of things that I avoid regularly and have a lot of strategies to do it and do it successfully most of the time. If I decide not to avoid something, it’s usually for someone else’s benefit, for example I go to some family gatherings because I know that there are some people in my family who are so weird that they’d blame my Mum if I didn’t go, or my grandad would be worried that I’m having a migraine or disappointed that I didn’t come, and I care about my Mum and grandad. 
  5.     Not eating, or perhaps I should say dealing well with hunger mentally, because I’d been so good with not eating in the past that I no longer am as good. As a lexical-gustatory synaesthete, I really love food. I can be picky with what I like, but generally, I love food. Yet, I don’t seem to have as much of a problem with not eating as many people seem to have. I’ve noticed that stuff like not eating for a day scares many people, or blows their minds as something that they wouldn’t be able to do or would never ever want to do for any reason. For me, of course it’s not pleasant or fun, but it’s absolutely not a huge problem. Whenever I’m under a lot of stress, especially if it’s something temporary rather than more chronic, I tend to eat very little, if at all, and what little I do eat I have to just force into myself. It’s because I usually have nausea when I’m really stressed or anxious, but also it feels like all my energy goes towards dealing with the stress, and all the other functions freeze for the time being so even if I’m not nauseated I rarely have any appetite, or simply forget about eating. It doesn’t even have to be stress, can be strong positive excitement or a lot of changes, good or bad, going on. It’s only after everything’s over that I start to feel super-weak and ravenously hungry and usually eat something like a bag of crisps or a chocolate bar in one go. When I was a kid and teen I also had a few extended periods where I’d be unable to eat much if anything at all during the day because of generalised anxiety and the accompanying nausea, or emetophobia (fear of vomit). I also had times as a teenager when I wouldn’t eat as a way of self-harming or solely because I didn’t like having needs like that and it made me feel out of control, or I’d eat very irregularly and sometimes very little, and sometimes a lot. I still struggle with eating when something triggers my emetophobia really badly, and still sometimes have times where I have a control or self-loathing issue with eating, or other times I’m so engrossed and absorbed with something really fascinating that food is the last thing on my mind until I go back to normal earthly functioning or start to feel so weak that I can’t ignore it any longer. Also, as a Traditional Catholic, fasting is something I’m very much used to and something very normal to me. I know some people, like our Sofi, for whom fasting is a big sacrifice and they find it really difficult to resist not eating, but for me, while of course it’s an inconvenience, it’s not a huge one. Just enough to be a bit of a challenge but not like: “Uhhh no, it’s Ash Wednesday again!” Or anything like that. However, I feel that all my eating troubles have screwed me up a little physically. Because now I’m generally unable to eat larger portions, or even just normal-adult-people portions, of food in one go. Or if I do, I feel ridiculously full ridiculously quickly. On the other hand, while I can mentally deal well with hunger and fasting, physically it’s sometimes different, because often if I don’t eat at all for a full day, I’ll start feeling real weak and wobbly towards the end of the day and it’ll get a lot worse towards the morning and I’ll barely be able to drag myself out of bed and it feels kind of scary because even standing is exhausting and feels like I’m going to pass out and I really don’t know if I’d live alone how I’d even make myself food in such condition so I’m so glad I have a Dad who can make me sandwiches in the middle of the night. 😀 I also had this weird thing going on even when I was little, but it was a lot less frequent, only when I was ill at the same time or something, so I suppose my shitty eating habits must have exacerbated something that I have a natural tendency to or something like that. Therefore, these days I no longer do full-day fasts, even when it’s actually an obligatory fasting day, I just do intermittent fasting, otherwise it’s rather counterproductive and it’s obviously not the point of it. Even with intermittent fasting I have to be careful and not too ambitious and if I start to feel weak I eat something, even if it’s something small as it’ll usually do the trick and see me through the rest of the day. Now that my migraines have become more frequent and easier to trigger, I also have to watch out for that if I don’t eat for a longer period of time, as not eating can be a trigger, and if that’s what has triggered it and I manage to eat something before it develops fully, I may even manage to nip it in the bud without any medication. Oh yeah, and speaking of migraines, when I have a full-blown one, I always have awful nausea, so I never eat when having a migraine either unless I end up feeling weak like what I describe, and when it happens during a migraine it’s really shitty because you’re already drained because of a migraine, and you’re so nauseated that the last thing you feel like doing is eating, yet you have to eat because otherwise you’ll keep feeling more and more drained, and when you do eat you feel even more drained because when you’re already drained to begin with, eating’s more draining. 😀 Ohhh yeah and add emetophobia into the mix. SO yeah, these days, I’m rubbish physically at not eating, but hunger itself isn’t really a significant inconvenience for me on a mental level. 
  6.     Misha. Yeah you can probably tell by this that I’m running out of ideas. So I asked Sofi, and that was the first thing she said. I asked her what she means by me being good at Misha, but she couldn’t quite explain. 😀 So yeah, let’s say I’m good at Misha. It sounds like a perfect thing to put on your CV! 😀 Well, I have a good relationship with Misha, though naturally he has best relationship with Mum because she’s like his Mum too and he always seeks contact with her the most and misses her most when she’s away, and, more important than that, she’s his main food provider, so he just associates her with food, and food is his meaning in life. But we do have a very good relationship and we often sense each other’s feelings and states of mind. If he associates all of us with something, then I’d say he most likely associates me with sleep, because we often sleep together and he often sleeps in my room during the day and there’s lots of places for him to choose in my room where he wants to sleep and everything’s designed especially for him. Communication with Misha, in particular understanding his needs, is rather challenging for me, because he’s generally not very fond of touch or closeness, and his language is mostly movements and facial expressions, so it’s usually my Mum who will pick up way faster and easier what he wants or if he’s feeling physically poorly. Yet there are things with which I feel like I may get him better than other people here, though we’ll of course never know for sure. I can usually spot when he’s feeling anxious or distressed with something based on his behaviour quite easily, and when I can touch him his muscles are all tense and twitchy then. I think I can pick up on Misha’s moods fairly well but I don’t really know what that’s based on, guess just my intuition mostly though he does tend to be more vocal when he’s happy or playful and they’re of course happier sounds then. And, as much as Misha isn’t into closeness with humans, with me he’s more physically affectionate than anyone else here. He has his very complex routines around sleep, and when he sleeps here in my room and I’m with him, he won’t settle unless I give him at least a small treat and lay down on the bed. Then when he’s finished eating, he’ll very slowly and carefully go on the bed as well and go on top of me. He’ll put his head next to mine and gently sniff my, hair, then my cheeks. If he’s in a particularly exuberant mood, he’ll even try to lick my cheek, but I’mm not overly fond of that so I don’t really let him. This whole licking and sniffing business only started a year or two ago. Then he’ll start kneading me and eventually will lay on my chest or tummy, and then he’ll silently yet forcefully demand an in-depth head, ear, nasal bridge, cheekbone and chin massage, purring louder than he normally does. This is still not as loud as your usual cat purr, but it’s very loud and powerful for Mish standards. Sometimes this whole session lasts just five minutes, other times even half an hour and we both end up having a nap until Misha wakes up with a start, horrified at the extreme weakness and softiness he has shown, picks up what’s left of his dignity and slowly moves onto the blanket, as far from me as possible, and starts the kneading all over again, or rather, as Sofi calls it, sleep-waltzing. Then it’s grooming time, after which he still sometimes wants to copulate with my feet no matter how much I discourage it, although he’s way better now with this than when he was younger, and then, provided that everything goes to plan, little Misha falls asleep. But if I dare  get up from the bed, or even move to much, he’ll jump off and go sleep somewhere else and there’s no coming back. When he’s very sleepy or upset, the whole sniffing and massage and sleeping on Bibiel part is left out, but if I’m here I still have to be with him on the bed ’til he falls asleep. Of course, he normally won’t do it either when someone else is in my room, now that would be too much of a disgrace, right? But my Mum has managed to catch us like that a couple times and apparently she’s never seen Misha with an equally blissful expression on his face. As much as he loves Mum, he rarely lies with her, because she doesn’t like it for some reason, and she never allows it at night. So when she does sometimes have a whim to have a nap with Misha under the duvet, she usually ends up regretting it, because he scratches her legs (I think he does it in his sleep actually but it must be painful nevertheless) and feels strongly attracted to her feet as well, which always ends with her calling him a pervert and kicking him out. So yeah, maybe I’m good at Misha, whatever that means. 
  7.     Not vomiting. I’m forever grateful that I’ve got a brain like this, which, most likely, blocks me from vomiting. Apparently that’s the case with a lot of emetophobics, and it seems to be with me too. And even if it’s not, otherwise I’m good at avoiding situations that could lead to vomiting. I’m gonna assume that I’m both. 
  8.    Ummm… what else…? Sofi says playing BitLife, but I think she’s biased here because she knows no one else who plays BitLife other than herself and me and to her I’m the ultimate BitLife player who knows everything about the game and does more than just endless crime (which is what Sofi does). I do like BitLife, even though I no longer play it as much as I did at the beginning when I heard of this game. I have an impression that BitLife is getting worse now, but it’s still fun to play once in a while. And I know people who are much more into it and have played a lot more than I do. I haven’t even completed any of the official challenges, I’d rather do my own thing. I like to think of what sort of character I want to play and who I want them to be and what I want them to do, and then play that character over the course of a couple of months. Of course there’s only so much you can do In BitLife, but I like to imagine that character’s life in more detail and think about motives behind their various decisions and try to go into their head while living their life. And then I like to live their child’s life, and then their child’s child’s life and so on and have a little saga of my own creation kind of. I’ve had one family which went on for 16  generations. Oh and I love naming kids in BitLife, I once had TWENTY babies (playing a man) and I relished being able to name all of them. That wouldn’t be quite so fun in the real world when I’d actually have to raise all those children. But I think that there’s one thing that Sofi is incomparably better at me in BitLife. Not counting things like burglary which don’t seem to be properly accessible or I don’t get it. This thing is winning money on horse races. Sofi gets it right most of the time and I have no idea how she does it, but she does! I wonder if she has the same luck in real life. 

   Uh, no, I’m not going to come up with ten! Actually, to be honest with you, I was only able to come up with the first two, and then I had to ask around and enlist my Mum’s and Sofi’s help, but even they weren’t able to come up with as much as ten. As my Mum stated, ten is a lot! But, so is eight, isn’t it, and I think I’ve made up for this with that I’ve elaborated on each of the things on this list. . 

   What things are You good at? List how many or few you want. 🙂