Question of the day.

   What were you like as a child? 

   My answer: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question of the day.

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

   My answer: 

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

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

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

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

   How about your toilet activities pre cell phones? 

Question. of the day.

   You wake up as a forty-year-old person and you have a husband/wife and three kids, what do you say? 

   My answer: 

   I have no clue what I’d say, it feels extremely surreal and kind of creepy, not to mention overwhelming for someone like me, but I’d probably think that either I must be dreaming, or I must have had amnesia and forgot the last 20-ish years of my life, if I even lived them consciously at all. 😀 

   How about you? How would you feel about such a change? Or maybe it wouldn’t be much of a change for you at all? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What’s on your mind right now? 

   My answer: 

   Ugh, nothing specific really. Mostly my mind feels muffled and jumbled because I’ve been having a yucky headache since about noon. It’s not quite a migraine I guess, or not yet though I hope that if it hasn’t developed into one by now then it won’t at all, but still it’s pretty bad, and then on top of that I’ve been having a weird earache for some reason since yesterday, which seems totally random because I’d never really had earaches or ear infections or anything like that. I don’t even think this is due to an infection because it doesn’t affect my hearing and other than that and the headache I’m feeling okay, plus I don’t see how I would have gotten it and why, but it’s annoying nonetheless. It isn’t even like a constant earache but more like brief, sharp pain every few minutes so it actually feels more like a nerve thing or something. I slept for three hours or so thinking it would help but it didn’t really do much, in a way it actually only made things worse because I got really bad sleep paralysis. I woke up about two hours ago or so and am still processing and recovering from those dreams. Luckily I don’t even remember much but still it always leaves a shitty feeling in my brain, and I do remember one detail very clearly, how “Ian” (which is how I publicly call my dream “friend) roared at me that “Your mum crashed into a fucking ditch and died!” (except instead of the actual word that you’d normally use to talk about a human dying he used the one that you use for animals in Polish). He says a lot of bullshit like that and I sometimes think I should write down all his threats, prophecies and stuff to see if any will ever come true, but even though few or none do, he can still be very convincing. My Mum is in Germany on a camper trip with Dad, and I wondered why he said it about Mum but not Dad. Anyway, after I eventually woke up, I had to call Mum and make sure that she was okay and she was.

   Also Misha’s on my mind. He’s been a real pain ever since Mum has left. Actually I’m not sure why we’ve only figured it out this year but Misha’s insanely attached to Mum. I mean we’ve always known that she is his favourite person and he often follows her around the house or watches TV with her and stuff like that, but Mum always said it’s simply because she is his main feeder so he associates her with food. But it doesn’t seem to be the case because he obviously still gets food  from Sofi, , and he keeps crying so so much. And it’s always the case when my parents go on trips, and he gets so whiney and constantly wants something, either food or water or to pet him in the middle of the night while he sprawls himself out in the corridor. I used to think that Sofi doesn’t feed him enough, because in previous years she didn’t feed him often enough or change his water regularly, but it seems like Sofi’s a bit better about it now and he has more than enough food if he manages to vomit it fairly regularly. He constantly wants his snacks as well and can’t sleep normally through the night and keeps moaning. This is very different to how he cries when he wants out, it’s a bit guttural like his happy “hhrrru?” Except more resigned and lower-pitched, and he keeps repeating it over and over and over and over and over again. As soon as Mum comes back, he goes back to normal and is very affectionate with her. So I wonder if it wouldn’t actually be better for him if he went along with my parents. It would sure also be super stressful for him, but perhaps less than being away from mummy. My Dad always calls him Mama’s boy now. Last night Misha kept waking us up and we both felt like doing something nasty to him, so Mum said we should put him in the cellar/laundry room for the night and leave him some food and water there and that’s what we’ll probably do because he likes being there, and associates the place with Mum because he often accompanies her there when she’s ironing and Sofi says she’ll let Jocky in there as well so Misha will have someone to listen to his Mummy woes and Jocky will be able to cool off ‘cause it’s been frying outside for the last few days. For that reason I’m really glad that they’re coming back tomorrow, but then on Monday they go on another trip, this time one that my gran is organising for pensioners from her town. My parents are neither pensioners, nor from her town, but since she is the boss in their local pensioners group and they had some free spots with no local pensioners apparently willing to fill them in, they’re able to join in and will be going to Prague. We decided that Mum is going to give Misha   his favourite pill (Prozac) from Saturday to Monday (but smaller dose than what the vet had originally recommended because we don’t necessarily want him completely zonked all over again especially while Mum wouldn’t be around) and maybe that will calm him down a bit until she’s back. 

   I’m also thinking what we should eat for dinner with Sofi, whether we should order something and if so what, or perhaps just keep it simple and have sandwiches or something, or Sofi said in the morning that she wanted to do some sort of pasta but she’s been out with a friend so when she comes back I think she’ll be hungry but not necessarily into making it. And I’m thinking whether I myself actually want anything for dinner at all given how I’m feeling. I don’t know about other people but for me a headache, never mind if it’s a migraine or more low-key, is always accompanied by more or less intense nausea so food isn’t really something I’d dream about then. But on the other hand I also didn’t really eat much at all today so perhaps I should eat something. 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? 🙂 

Li’l announcement.

   Just wanted to let you know that Bibielz will be MIA for the next couple of days, not sure how long exactly, but most likely from tomorrow until Tuesday. My Dad’s on holiday from Monday, and he actually wanted to go to Sweden once again (didn’t realise he liked it so much the last time we were there). Except we’ll go to Warsaw rather than Sweden after all. It’s because Sofi’s going to have some model casting there. Last year when she was out shopping with Mum they were approached by a scout who says that Sofi has a potential for a model and gave her his business card. Mum didn’t feel for a long time like getting Sofi into that sort of thing, even though Sofi was all for it, and we were worried if it could be a scam. But the guy was called Jacek, so he gave me good vibes and  I looked him up and it seems to be a legit agency, but my Mum still wouldn’t want to hear about it. Only recently, almost a year later, she changed her mind for some reason and they contacted him and he said he’d be happy to see Sofi next week Tuesday at 2 PM, and that agency is in Warsaw. My Mum is still a bit of a chicken for driving such long-distance (it’s 4-5 hours from us), even though she rode there a lot back when I was at the boarding school because it’s near Warsaw, so since my Dad is on leave they decided it would just be a camper trip and meanwhile Sofi would have her casting. I’m curious how it goes for her. We’re also likely going to stop by some lake in Masuria which is an ever so popular region with my family, because it’s been roasting hot all over the country. 

   But you’ll probably be thrilled to hear that Bibielz aren’t so cruel as to leave my readers completely lonely, because Bibielz have scheduled posts for the next three days in both of the daily series (yay! 😀 ), so hopefully that’ll be enough until I’m back, and if not, perhaps I’ll be able to write something on the go but generally would rather not, because I only take my iPhone and Bluetooth keyboard with me and that’s not fun for writing longer or even medium things. 

   Until then, I hope y’all will be doing well, and lemme know if you’re also going for some trips or other stuff like that soon. 🙂 

Question of the day.

   Today’s elaborate question of the day is courtesy of my weird Mum. 

   What would you do, or what would your reaction be, in the following situation: you accidentally find an old letter addressed to your parents, in which it says that you were adopted. Or your parents sit down with you and are like: “You know, we have something to tell you. We never knew how and when to tell you this, but we think it’s about time now. So, um, well, we adopted you when you were a baby”. How would it make you feel? 

   My answer: 

   Lol well, I guess I’d feel a bit confused initially and need some time to process it and ruminate it through properly, but I guess most people would. Then I’d have to offer an apology to Sofi, because when she was little Olek and me teased her a lot that she was adopted from Russia (unless she actually were adopted too, everything’s possible now I guess 😀 ). I think I would feel a little resentful that they haven’t told me earlier about it, because, like, I think most people would like to know such things about themselves, but also I can appreciate that it surely would be a difficult thing to do for parents and why they might be tempted to wait with sharing this news for as long as possible, so I wouldn’t be really frustrated or mad or anything, this doesn’t really change a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, I guess, just would be good to know. 

   And then I’d probably do some research. A lot of research, knowing myself. It would actually be kind of funny, because I’ve just recently started playing with researching our family’s ancestry. I guess I always had a mild interest in this, but always thought it must be lots of effort and not very rewarding, plus a family tree isn’t something that is easy to show a blind person in an understandable and non-abstractive way, so I never thought I could do it even if I had more motivation. But then I became interested in praying for purgatory souls, and some time later started praying for my  great-great-grandfather (my maternal grandad’s grandad) Jacenty, because Jacenty is such a cool name, and whenever I was praying for him I was wondering what sort of person he was, but no one could tell me. And then a couple years ago, on my cousin’s 18th birthday party, my great-aunt told me how interesting it is in her opinion that I changed my name to Emilia because  her aunt (so my great-great-aunt) was called Emilia. And since then I started praying for her soul as well and kept wondering what she must have been like. And so finally a couple weeks ago my curiosity got the better of me and I thought I’d do some mini research and see where it takes me, with no high hopes because I’d heard that ancestry research apps aren’t really very accessible for the blind, and I wasn’t that determined to go searching beyond the world-wide web, so wouldn’t be running around cemeteries, visiting distant relatives or places where Jacenty and Emilia lived, just see where, if anywhere at all, my armchair research takes me.

   And it’s actually been going pretty well, because while I don’t have much of an idea about stuff like their personalities or even who my great-great-aunt was in terms of occupation (I do know that my great-great-grandad is said to be the first mayor in the country after Poland has regained its independence, yay!) I do have more of an idea about their lives now. It was going so well that I actually figured I really dig digging like that, so why not set up a proper, full-size family tree and dig some more through our ancestry as a whole? I knew my Dad would be over the moon if I had some interesting findings to share, ‘cause he likes such things too but would never do it himself. And that’s what I did, and this is going extremely well, given my meager ambitions. Like, one day I just decided to trace back the records of my paternal grandma’s mother’s ancestors, and I was able to go as far as to our one ancestress – Anna – who was born before 1742. This is one branch of my family that I know most about at the moment, and it was a very interesting and exciting experience to dig through the past and go further and further back in time and meet my old family and imagine them based on the usually very scant info on their lives that I was able to dig out.

   What was also fascinating for me to see as a name nerd is the changing name trends. I mean, obviously people used to be very repetitive with names in the past so I think it was even easier to establish which names were popular than it is when looking at birth announcements these days. I’ve heard a lot that in American baby naming, there’s such a thing called 100 year rule. This means that it usually takes about 100 years for a name to become fashionable again. Like, parents rarely name their children after their own parents, but they’re often happy to name them after their grandparents or great-grandparents, although of course there are exceptions because some names just never come back. Well, while I’m pretty sure that something like this is more or less of a pattern in many other countries as well, including Poland, I was skeptical whether here it is as pronounced as in the US, because we seem to have a lot more exceptions from this rule and new parents already start embracing some names that are still pretty normal among boomers. But looking at all these names of my ancestors, my skepticism has lessened a fair bit. We may be a bit slower with the fashion cycle (but then we also have less names because not long ago we had quite a lot of restrictions on what a child can be named), but when you look at old records, something is clearly going on. When starting my research, I was thinking I’d be seeing a lot of your typical today’s Polish granny and grandpa names, because I always had an impression that most of them must have been very common and popular for centuries and only became rusty in 1970’s or so. What was my surprise when, around the earlier half of 19th century-latter half of the 18th century, the children’s names started to have an oddly late gen X/millennial vibe. I also enjoyed seeing some interesting onomastic retro rarities. 

   So, going back to the question, well, this would feel quite frustrating now, ‘cause… shit, did I really spend so much time on this to be told that it’s not my freaking family?! 😀 I’d want to know who actually my family are then. Not because I’d want to meet them and make my hypothetical new bio mum aware that I’m her daughter (although who knows, maybe if I did some research and thought it was worth a try, why not? I just wouldn’t do the research for the sake of meeting them necessarily), but more for the sake of quenching my own insatiable curiosity, and just to have an interesting rabbit hole to go down, ’til another one appears. My Mum asked if I’d do genetic testing, and, I guess it would be a good idea. But my friend Jacek of Helsinki once did, because his mum was supposed to have some Ugrofinnic ancestry and he really wanted to find out if he had some Finnish blood in him, but then he learned that he’s no Finn, and his genes are instead Armenian to quite an impressive degree, and he wasn’t too excited. So maybe that would keep my curiosity at bay? I wouldn’t mind learning that I’m largely Armenian or whatever other ethnicity, but I might end up learning that I’ve inherited, say, Huntington’s, or other degenerative unpreventable shit. Ew, why would I want to know that already? 

   Your turn. 🙂 

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.

   What irritates you the most? 

   My answer: 

   People who are so extremely touchy that almost whatever you tell or ask them is considered attacking, stupid, or otherwise inappropriate or whatever and react in a way that feels aggressive or oozes with huffiness. It’s hard not to get irritated in response to something like that so it can start a vicious cycle. Both my Dad and Sofi, for all their virtues, are like that. Sofi in particular. Like, when it’s the “wrong day” you can’t tell or ask her about pretty much anything at all ‘cause everything will be interpreted as personal attack and she’ll respond with an eyeroll and almost yell at you in a very unpleasant tone, or with emphatic silence. If you don’t know Sofi well, you may be tempted to try and be even nicer to her, thinking that perhaps she’s just had a bad day at school and, you know, puberty and all. But the nicer you’ll try to be, paradoxically the worse it gets. My Mum is a huge people pleaser by nature, so am I I suppose but I guess to a lesser extent, so even though we know about it, we often try to make her feel better anyway, but that just never helps. And no, unfortunately it is not something that has come up now that she’s a teenager, she’s always been touchy and moody and easily irritated like this even as a toddler. We can only hope that it changes as she gets older, because overall Sofi is a very cool and likeable girl if she’s in a good mood or if she wants something from you, with a lot of good traits, but this particular trait makes her quite a difficult person and potentially even toxic, especially over time if she doesn’t grow out of it, because such stuff can get worse with age. My Dad is a bit different in that it doesn’t always take so little to set him off, but once you do succeed (which usually happens to my poor Mum), it can even end up almost like a proper tantrum. And it’s always everyone else who is to blame for everything, never him, and the whole family and everyone at work and their dog is plotting and siding against him. I dunno, I’m also quite easily irritated, and most definitely touchy (thanks, AVPD), but what I don’t understand is spilling it out so much on the other people. For me it would kind of feel humiliating if I just broke down like that and started yelling at someone just because they dared say “Hi Bibiel” and I have a feeling that they hate me and are laughing at me inside their brain. If it wasn’t true, I would only make someone feel awful, and if it was, it certainly wouldn’t make them hate me less or would give them more of a reason to laugh at what a freak Bibiel is. 😀 

   You? 🙂 

Gwilym Bowen Rhys – “Ben Rhys”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   I was listening to this song this morning and was wondering how come I don’t remember ever posting it on here in the song of the day series. But I checked and I indeed have not shared it before, as weird as it is. I say it’s weird because, well, I have obviously posted a lot of Gwilym Bowen Rhys’ music, both solo and with the bands he’s played and sung with, and this song seems to be one of his more popular/successful ones, also it was the first song from his solo album that I happened to come across when my faza on him was starting out, when I was already familiar with Plu and Y Bandana. It’s also a really good song and a very interesting one because it’s just about as folky as it gets while at the same time having this sort of bluesy and indie feel to it that I think can make it very accessible for those who perhaps aren’t necessarily as muchh into folk as Bibiels are. So this finally had to happen at some point. 

   This song was written by Gwilym together with his mum – Siân Harris – and it tells the story of his great-great-great-grandfather, Ben Rhys, who was a coal miner and died tragically in the Cymmer Colliery explosion in South Wales in 1856, from his point of view. While it was included on Gwilym’s 2016 debut album O Groth y Ddaear (From the Womb of the Earth), enthusiasts of Welsh-language music could have heard it two years earlier already, because he also sang it at the Cân i Gymru (Song for Wales) competition in 2014. It was his second time taking part in it, he also competed with the song Garth Celyn in 2012, which he co-wrote with his mum as well and which is also written from the perspective of a historical figure. The translation comes from Gwilym’s website. 

    My name is Ben Rhys, a man and a collier
And a pure Welshman under my dirty shell,
One of the ants of the pit in the centre of my valley
And I mine in the darkness day in day out
Yes I mine all my days to put bread on the table,
Labouring for hours in this underground furnace
Yes, I work under hardship
And sweat in the darkness
Just to earn mere pennies
Doing my duty as a father and husband

One mid-summer’s dawn I descend into the pit
And the humid walls close in about me
Under weak and fragile beams and my candle’s naked flame
I leave the light of day for the last time
Yes I leave the light of day unconscious of my fate,
The lack of air overwhelming and pressing on my flesh,
Yes, I’m choking from the gasses
Amongst the deafening beating of hammers,
The beating of picks, and my heartbeat quickening in my breast.

My name is Ben Rhys, I was a man and a collier
And a pure Welshman under my dirty shell,
A man, father and brother, one of four in a grave,
And the grave is one of twenty that are open,
Yes the grave is one of twenty that are open in my valley
And the widows are lamenting and the children are weeping, Repressed under the master’s feet ,
Masters who only want to fill their pockets,
And that flee from justice, an injustice to this day.

Question of the day (19th April).

   What’s a subtle sign that someone is not a nice person? 

   My answer: 

   Both Sofi and I think it’s when someone acts kind of sarcastic all the time. I mean, sarcasm is cool, we both like it a lot and use it a lot. But also I think sarcasm loses its point when you use it all the time, and from what Sofi tells me regularly it seems to be some sort of a trend among teenagers now. That doesn’t make sense to me. If you use sarcasm ALL the time, it’s as if you were eating, dunno, ketchup, for example, all the time, not as a condiment but as a sort of main dish. What’s fun or smart about that? I think they just say they like sarcasm so much because they don’t want to admit that they’re plain rude. When I hear Sofi’s school friends talk when they come over here, their dialogues really do sound weird. Like, you don’t know if it’s supposed to be funny, and if so, when exactly, and for whom, it’s like constant making fun of each other. Not directly, but still I think quite clearly. And then when you try to make a joke at the expense of such a master or mistress of sarcasm, they’ll be acting all offended and hurt and heartbroken. But I also think it’s unfortunately by no means just a teenage behaviour. My Dad’s family is very much like this, except it’s kind of worse because most of them don’t even have the brains to make it seem like sarcasm, so it’s less subtle actually. Whenever there’s some family gathering, they love dealing with their complexes by trying to laugh at, and some of them downright humiliate other family members, most often their wives. My one uncle is particularly good at it. He has some huge inferiority complex, which he tries to cover by being a jerk and pretending to have a very high self-esteem, while at the same time bringing other people down, or at least trying to, by making weird jokes or diminishing what they say or just acting almost rude. He also has some extreme problem with plain politeness. I don’t know if it’s with stranger people too but with family for sure. I’ve hardly ever heard him say things like “Please”, let alone “Excuse me” even if for something very small. If he sometimes does act a bit more polite, we silently go “Wow! So he knows how to do that, after all!” 😀 

   What’s such subtle sign that you can think of? 🙂 

How I think other people would describe me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question of the day (18th December).

What weird word or phrase does your family say but nobody else would understand? How did it come to be?

My answer:

Gosh, we use tons of weird words or phrases in my family. I really love word play and so does my Mum, so we create a lot of inside slang and neologisms and stuff. Sofi or my Dad aren’t huge wordsmiths overall, but still like it to and with Sofi we have a lot of words that only we know what they mean, or rather, people do know what they mean because they’re just normal words but we use it to mean something totally different, and my Dad does create a lot of weird, very peculiar-sounding neologisms too which he often claims are legit Kashubian words but upon research it always turns out they’re not. He also has such weird behaviour that sometimes he’ll hear a word that will stand out to him for some reason, for example because it’s new to him, and then he’ll repeat it over and over and over again with no context, and sometimes over time such word will gain some new meaning for us. For example he once watched the film The Great Gatsby, and then would be saying “The Great Gatsby” all the time for a day or so, and in the end for some reason me and Sofi ended up adopting the phrase to mean something like never mind. Olek doesn’t have such inclinations, but he’s always the first to understand weird language-based jokes and such.

To give you some more specific examples, Sofi is very uncomfortable when it comes to talking about all things sexual, even though my Mum isn’t this sort of person who would discourage healthy discussion about it or who wouldn’t make her children aware of the birds and the bees when it seems appropriate. Sofi’s repulsed by all that but at the same time interested in learning about various things to do with sex, and the weirdest thing is that, if ever she does want to talk about it, ask questions and stuff, the only person she seems comfortable doing that with is me, and she says she is really embarrassed to talk about it with Mum despite Mum definitely encourages her. I say it’s weird because, well, unlike my Mum, I don’t have any practical experience in the field, so I always tell her that she should talk about it to Mum, but she doesn’t want to. Sometimes I think I should seriously consider becoming a couples’ counsellor or something like that, because people often come with things like that or their relationship problems to me when I have no idea about it because like I often say I’ve never even dated or anything. 😀 So anyway, Sofi has a problem even with the word sex, and other words around this topic like body parts, and it seems like her embarrassment about using them is part of why she finds the topic so difficult to talk about. So I figured the best way to get rid of at least that part of the problem is to change the words. It certainly doesn’t work in all situations and circumstances, but I felt that it would here and it does, though it doesn’t get rid of all Sofi’s problems, of course. So we started creating our own, new, unique sexual vocabulary. The process was really simple, and funny. We got a random and would open it at some random word, and then from then on that would be the word we used instead of some specific sex-related word, if we both agreed that it worked well and fit. Some are really crazy, for example for sex itself, we use the word biel which means whiteness in Polish, and the crazy part about it is that I often go by Bibiel so it sounds very similar. 😀 For vagina, we drew the word jabłko, which means apple, except in the end we use the word jabłco more often, which is like the opposite of a diminutive. I guess there’s no such phenomenon in English but in Polish we not only have diminutives but also an opposite thing which is used to make something sound either pejorative, or bigger than standard, or sometimes also kinda affectionate but in a sort of rougher way than when you’re using a diminutive, or just plain funnier. For us, it’s about that last thing. We made that whole vocabulary thing up before either of us had any Apple products, but even now that we do, we still use this word because Sofi got used to it, and sometimes things get quite hilarious. We also use it in other contexts now, not just to mean the actual vagina, but for example we’ll sometimes say to each other: “Shut up your apple” when we don’t really care what the other has to say, but it’s more good-humoured and teasing rather than insulting despite the way it sounds.

Also, since we’re talking about sort of intimate or taboo or politically incorrect vocabulary, we’ve invented something else quite recently, about a month ago when we had that wave of sickness go through our house. Maybe goofiness is another symptom of Covid, or maybe we were just too bored or something. But we sometimes just do have phases like that. 😀 Namely, our Dad said that someone was an asshole, and then Sofi had some weird musings that she shared out loud, about how it’s okay to use vulgar words in a derogatory way (specifically dupek (which means asshole in Polish) for men and pipa (which means pussy) for women, but it would sound a lot more inappropriate if you called someone an anus or a vagina or something like that). That made my Dad and me laugh and my Dad said that if we’d use anus (odbyt in Polish) for men, then rectum (odbytnica in Polish) would sound more appropriate for women and we bot had a fit of giggles. And then we started using these words and calling each other that and Dad happily joined because he really has some weird liking for using neologisms of his own creation that sound like horrible insults to refer to his loved ones in what’s meant to be an affectionate way. 😀 In fact, Dad seemed to have most fun with it. After a few days, however, we naturally stopped using rectum for some reason and we all referred to each other as anuses, regardless of gender. It was only for a few days until we got bored of this, but in the meantime we used that a lot and Mum looked at us as if we were crazy. I was thinking what would someone from the outside think if they just came to us and sat quietly and observed things, and hear our Dad come to us yelling excitedly: “Yo what’s up, little anuses?!” and me respond phlegmatically: “Nothing, giant anus”. They’d probably feel like involving social services or something. 😀 I think if Dad wouldn’t get so excited about it, we might have ended up using it more between each other with Sofi, but he talked like that ALL the time so it became boring and rather childish for the two of us very quickly.

Other than that, I actually already wrote a post on that same topic three years ago, specifically on a phrase “without cheese” that we use, and you can read this post

here.

How about you and your family, or other people you mingle with a lot? 🙂

Question of the day.

What is your earliest childhood memory?

My answer:

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

How about your earliest memory? 🙂

Ten Things of Thankful.

I thought it’s time to do some gratitude list post, as I haven’t done it in a while. As usual with such posts, I’m linking up with

Ten Things of Thankful (TToT).

  1.    That my immediate family are more or less healthy again. We had a wave of Covid going  through our house in the last couple of weeks and we suspect we all might have been sick with it, to a varying degree. My parents certainly were, and it was them who were particularly badly ill. I was especially worried about my Mum, who has episodic asthma, and has been in the midst of an episode when it hit her, so she had really awful cough, but was also generally quite unwell with awful muscle pains and stuff. Thankfully, my Dad is completely well now and back to work, and my Mum is a lot better. She still can’t feel smells or tastes and has worse cough than her usual asthma cough, but other than that she says she’s feeling well and it shows. I’m really glad this is over, as it was quite depressing having a mini hospital at home, and like I said quite worrying at times.
        1. Good sleep last night. My sleep has been very up and down lately, and yesterday I had quite an awful anxiety day. It took me ages to settle down to sleep and I was really scared to fall asleep, but when I eventually did fall asleep I got solid ten hours of it and didn’t even wake up all the time as is usual when I’m having bad anxiety.
  2. Mum’s help. I’ve been having a lot of stuff to do this week – some Christmas shopping, writing and sending cards to people, some banking stuff etc. – and my Mum helped me with it all, which I am the more grateful for given that she’s still recovering. I’ve got a HUUUUGE collection of English-language cards that my Mum stocked up on for me years ago so that I can send them to people abroad, as I only send cards to people abroad at this point. That card collection is also something I’m grateful for, so that I don’t have to worry every single year whether I’ll be able to find the right cards for people in the shops but just pick something from my overflowing box. 😀 Christmas shopping is also so much easier for me with my Mum because I’m terrible with money and stuff like that, even when shopping online. Not to mention banking. 😀
  3. Lots of snow. We’ve been having a lot of snow since the end of November. Well, not like A LOT, but surprisingly much for this time, we usually don’t get proper, fluffy snow that would stay around for a longer time until about Christmas. And this early snow has been very fluffy so you can make snowballs and snowmen and whatever you want from it. We’d been in quarantine and now Sofi’s school has their classes online because a few teachers are sick, so Sofi’s really happy with the snow and we both play in it together with Jocky, and Jack Frost haha. It also means that I can wear my comfy fluffy overalls in the evenings that my Mum’s made for me for Christmas a few years ago, and it’s the season for tea with ginger and other amazing things like that. Tomorrow, provided that Sofi won’t lose interest, we’re going to make gingerbreads.
  4. Misha. I am grateful for Misha’s existence each and every day, even though today I haven’t even seen him yet because in the morning he played with Sofi and now no one knows where he’s sleeping.
  5. Tasting Christmas food. My Mum’s made a start to making all our traditional Christmas dishes, but because her sense of taste is non-functioning at the moment, it’s been quite challenging for her. Thus, Sofi and I kindly offered our help with the gustatory part. It was mostly meant to be for our current benefit – so that we get to taste all the Christmas food before Christmas actually comes – but now I’m really glad we thought about this because otherwise some of the dishes would be really quite insipid haha. I mean, Mum said she seasoned everything but it must’ve been some truly minuscule amounts. I really hope Mum’s senses go back to normal until Christmas so she can actually enjoy Christmas food.
  6. Medication. I’m grateful for having pain killers, as well as my migraine and anxiety medicines available. I had a migraine on Monday, which was pretty shitty, but I’m sure it would be even shittier if I didn’t have the migraine meds. And like I said I also had quite high anxiety yesterday. I’m absolutely used to dealing with anxiety with no meds, as that’s what I did for most of my life until I got my diagnoses, and I still try to take my PRN med only when things get really bad because it’s Xanax (except it has a different name here) so it’s highly addictive. It only takes the edge off it most of the time, but that’s still a very welcome difference and I’m extremely grateful for that, as at least it helps me to focus on and see other things in life beyond my little Bibiel brain bubble.
  7. My little Bluetooth speaker. Well, I’ve had it for over a year now and I’ve always loved it, but the reason why I mention it in this gratitude list specifically is that recently, for some mysterious reasons, it had stopped working for me. Basically, this speaker always gets a little freaky when I get a phone call, like it doesn’t know what to do about it. Sometimes its volume will go all the way up and it will play the ringer sound at the same time when my phone’s already playing it (best way to be woken up at night, and wake up everyone else), or it’ll turn off and never turn back on or anything when I finish the call. Sometimes when I answer the call I’ll hear it through the speaker, other times through the phone. So overall it’s just very unpredictable in how it behaves with phone calls and I don’t really know why, but normally I don’t care much because I don’t talk to people on the phone much. And earlier this week, I was listening to music when Sofi called me, and I heard a very weird popping sound from the speaker and then it turned off. I talked with Sofi, and wanted to turn the speaker back on when we finished the call, but it just made that popping sound again and wouldn’t play despite it looked like it was on. I tried to reset it but again it would only pop when I turned it off and on, and nothing beyond that, despite several trials, literally nothing I came up with seemed to help. I was really disappointed because it’s a really good speaker and I’ve been really happy with it so far. It has a smooth, bedroom-y sound, which is what I was looking for because I mostly wanted a speaker that I could listen to music from at night, but at the same time, unlike most speakers specifically branded as bedroom speakers, it sounds very clear even at relatively low volumes, and very neat when you turn it up as well. Also everyone says that it fits my room aesthetically for some reason. And my Mum always says she envies me it, which I totally understand, haha. And it’s from B&O which are known to make good devices overall so I wouldn’t have expected that this speaker would have such a short life or be so prone to serious malfunction, especially given its price, and I also have headphones from B&O so I was wondering if I should also prepare for their time to come soon. I was planning to get in touch with B&O somehow, but in the meantime my speaker was totally useless. Then yesterday I tried to turn it on once again, and, surprise! it worked! I’ve no idea what was wrong with it but now it works completely fine. I even got Sofi to call me again while I had it connected to my phone and it didn’t freak out. I’m really glad to have a functioning speaker again, and now I appreciate it even more that I don’t have to rely on the iPhone’s built-in and rather unfriendly-sounding speaker all the time. 😀
  8. That we have the possibility to attend traditional Latin Mass every week. I recently wrote about our discovering and kind of “conversion” to traditional Catholicism, and you can read about that here.  I am also grateful for all the resources that help me develop my faith and for all the grace that God gives me to make it possible for me to do so.
  9. My language-learning progress. This week has been rather low-key in this department, but I’ve been listening to a lot of Norwegian podcasts and have become a lot more confident when it comes to my listening skills in this language. I have also learnt some interesting new Welsh words. Fun fact for y’all: there’s such a word in the Welsh language as clusfeinio (klis-VAY-nee-aw in the North or klees-VAY-nee-aw in the South though I’m never quite sure how to represent Welsh sounds in English phonetically) which means to listen attentively, as well as to eavesdrop. I think it’s cool that there’s a language in this world that has a special word for the particularly attentive kind of eavesdropping, as this is something I do a lot. People-watching, blind edition.

What are your thankfuls this week? 🙂

Question of the day.

What is your least favourite board game?

My answer:

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

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

I am putting off…

My answer:

…helping Sofi with her school work. Since it turned out after all that BOTH of my parents have Covid (which wasn’t really much of a surprise as they have very typical symptoms so I don’t really know how come my Dad’s first test was negative and the doctor said it was bronchitis) we’ve been in quarantine. Sofi has been really mad about it because of course she’s bored and most of the time she quite likes going to school and she wants to, but she obviously can’t now. She’s also a little stressed about having to catch up with school work, which is a little out of character for her, she never used to worry about such things, but well, maybe it’s because she has exams in April. She left most of her notebooks and stuff in her school locker and today finally someone from her class had mercy on her and brought them to her. Someone is also sending her what they’re doing at school over SnapChat. So finally she can catch up but Sofi doesn’t like working alone, and also probably genuinely needs help with some stuff, and asked me to assist her or something, though I don’t really know what it is that they’re doing at school right now and she didn’t tell me, so I’ve no idea how much help I’ll be. I think mostly it’s just that she doesn’t want to be alone and wants to have audience as always. Also the way it works with Sofi, if she has something to do that she really doesn’t like, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on that because more often than not she’ll do it for five minutes and then go back to doing something more fun. So it’s possible that if no one helps her, she’ll never end up doing her entire school work because she’ll be distracted by a gazillion things. Except, to be honest, I’m getting a bit tired. I spent almost the whole day with Sofi yesterday, and the day before, and it’s fun, but my social battery is quite low at this point. 😀 Sofi’s really absorbing, and man does she have moodswings! She’s not as absorbing as she used to be when she was younger, but she still is. Normally I’d ask Mum to help so I could have time to recharge, but Mum’s sick and not doing very well and I’m sure the last thing anyone would want while being sick is to listen to Sofi’s incessant chatter and have to answer the neverending stream of questions. So I told Sofi that I will help her today so that she can at least start catching up on what her class has done so far this week, at least I could surely help her with English or something, but I so don’t feel like it, so I’ve been putting it off. I guess for now Sofi’s satisfied with it and, rather than trying to do something by herself, is procrastinating on her phone, because if it was otherwise she’d be coming to me every five minutes and asking me when I’ll help her. 😀 As much as I often feel kind of envious of Sofi, because I often have a feeling it is so fun and uncomplicated to be Sofi, I really don’t envy her that huge need she has for near constant human presence around her, it must be difficult.

You? 🙂

Question of the day (30th November).

I am learning…

My answer:

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

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

What is it that you are learning? 🙂

Question of the day.

I want…

My answer:

…to do some book shopping tonight, or tomorrow. I buy books all the time but this time, for a change, they’re not going to be for me, and they’re going to be actual, physical books rather than ebooks or audiobooks. Christmas is slowly approaching, and my family have a problem with presents every year. I mean, we never know what to give each other, because we’re very self-sufficient folks, maybe except for Sofi who LOVES getting presents, and if someone needs or wants something, they simply buy it for themselves rather than wait for the next Christmas or birthday or what not when someone else will be able to buy it for them as a present. After all, it is yourself who knows best what sort of things you like, and for me personally the whole present business feels a little awkward. So we never know what to get for each other, and we never know what we could want from each other. 😀 And Christmas shopping is stressful. I guess it’s my Mum who finds it especially stressful because she’s a bit of a perfectionist where family is concerned, but I think it’s stressful for everyone else too, again except for Sofi who absolutely loves shopping for presents just as much as receiving them herself, both because of all the joy of giving and because she loves visiting huge shopping centres which she isn’t allowed to do often. If it wasn’t for Sofi, we could do totally without presents, but Sofi would be disconsolate. So when we were talking with each other recently, Mum and me decided that this year, everyone will be getting each other books. I’m particularly happy about that because for a long time I’ve been wanting my Mum to read the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy by Sigrid Undset, and generally make friends with Sigrid Undset’s books, because I think my Mum and Sigrid Undset’s books are a really, really, really good match for each other. I first heard of Kristin Lavransdatter in the Jeżycjada series by my favourite Polish author Małgorzata Musierowicz, whose character Mila Borejko really loves Kristin and reads it numerous times in the series, and I think I read it there, or perhaps it was Musierowicz herself who said it, that every woman should read Kristin. I have read Kristin Lavransdatter twice, and then also The Master of Hestviken once and I loved them both for so many different reasons, though if I had to say what specifically, I’d have a hard time naming all those reasons because while I enjoyed the plot and all the Nordic vibes, it was something else that I can’t quite put my finger on that made me love these books so much. Sadly I have not been able to read more Undset’s books so far but I really hope I still will, maybe even will be able in the original at some point, who knows, although right now I feel like this is a super bold dream. Anyways, I’ve been drilling it into my Mum’s brain for years that she should read Kristin Lavransdatter, that she would LOVE it, probably even more than I do, but she still hasn’t so far. My Mum loves to read and always says how she would like to read more, she values literature very much and always encouraged Olek and me to read a lot when we were children, but she has not very much time for it, and when she does read, she has a real problem that she starts feeling sleepy real soon. Also she usually does it so that she is reading multiple books at once, which in the end means that she reads each book for a really long time. And these days she has a strong preference for non-fiction as it seems, she mostly reads biographies/autobiographies, books in the form of an interview, or some Christian books or from fiction she mostly reads old, Polish classics at the moment, most of which I had to read not so long ago as school compulsory reads so they haven’t gained much appeal for me yet. 😀 So maybe Norwegian fiction is a little bit outside of her comfort zone. Still, I know that if she makes this step out, she WILL love it. My Mum loves Scandinavian movies, used to read more Scandinavian literature too, like Mika Valtari whom we both love, loves Scandinavian landscapes and there are plenty of nature descriptions in these books by Sigrid Undset, basically she likes quite a lot of things Scandinavian. Besides, Undset was Catholic and her books are very Catholic. And they just have this kind of quality that makes me think it’s something for my Mum. So I’m going to buy her both Kristin Lavransdatter and Master of Hestviken.

And then there’s Sofi, who, as I wrote a while ago, has started to properly develop her passion for horses. Sofi isn’t the most passionate reader and is easily bored by books, but she already has a few books about horses from Mum and likes to read a bit from them once in a while and seems to be very fond of them even though I’m not sure if she has read any of them in its entirety. So I thought I could buy her at least a few books from the Heartland series for starters. Heartland is a series by Lauren Brooke about a girl called Amy Flemming who lives on a ranch called Heartland with her family where they take in all kinds of traumatised horses that they work with in a rather unconventional way. I was introduced to Heartland at school, where one of our boarding school staff read it to us in the evenings, there was one girl who was madly into horses and I guess the idea came from her. From what I remember we haven’t read much of that or not very regularly, but then some years later when I was already out of there, a Polish website which is kind of like an equivalent of GoodReads recommended Heartland to me and I was able to get all the 26 books that are in this series and read them. They are short and not very demanding really. Actually when I read them I was like 16-17 so to me they seemed rather infantile in some aspects and the characters were not the most multi-dimensional I’ve ever seen and either black or white and very wishy-washy, I remember that generally something about the writing style was a little grating to me or maybe it was due to the Polish translation, but all the stuff that concerned horses rather than people was very interesting, especially that I myself have gone to a stud where there are only horses who have been through a lot of yucky stuff before they ended up where they are now. I thought it could be a really good and not too challenging read for Sofi and Mum agrees with me so that’s what I’m gonna get her.

I have still no idea what I could get my Dad and Olek, my Dad likes historical books, especially things like albums, like books with photos of what some places used to look like, or other historical non-fiction, especially regarding WWII. I like historical books too, but they’re vastly different from what my Dad likes and our tastes are 100% incompatible so I just have no idea, maybe Mum will give me some suggestions. Olek also likes similar historical books to Dad plus a lot of adventure/mystery, crime novels etc. so mostly also not my thing and here I’m not even sure if Mum will be able to help. So I’m going to order the books for them later on when I have some ideas.

How about you? What is it that you want at the moment? 🙂

Question of the day.

We haven’t had questions of the day in a LOOONG time, as I was sick with bronchitis, so I thought let’s do a little bit of a general question today, and maybe for the next few days, except this time they won’t be in the form of questions, but rather blanks to fill in. Here’s the one for today:

I am thinking about… well, mostly it’s hard to tell what I’m thinking about at the moment, because my brain’s simply buzzing away with all the Norwegian I’d just been exposing myself to. 😀 I know, it’s the middle of the week, and I said I am going to do Welsh on week days, and Norwegian on weekends, because I already know quite a fair bit of Swedish so Norwegian isn’t as demanding for me as Welsh is, but I already did my Welsh in the morning, and the Norwegian exposure I had today wasn’t part of my usual learning routine, I just came across some children’s stories in this language and ended up reading a few because they were written in a way that seemed a bit weird to me (guess just older language than what I’m used to or maybe some dialect that I hadn’t come across yet) but I was surprised and intrigued that despite the weirdness I was able to figure out enough to understand the plot quite well. Nevertheless, I’m not really used to reading in Norwegian for as long as I did, so now I’m more like processing rather than thinking about anything specific. 😀

One thing that I *am* sort of thinking about right now, though more in the background, is the bouts of illness we’ve been having in this house for a while now. For Mum, Olek and me, it’s nothing new at this time of year (autumn-winter season) because this is when all of us change into real mucus factories. My Mum gets her episodic asthma and coughs incessantly until spring, and Olek gets his sinus problems which don’t last quite so long but seem to be really annoying while they do. Then there’s me and right now my situation is the best in our little phlegmy club, probably because it used to be the worst and I had my fair share of mucus adventures when I was younger whereas for them it has only started out properly as adults, especially for Mum. The way it works for me is that, pretty much ever since I was born, or at least ever since I remember, I would very regularly get bronchitis. Like, I couldn’t get sick with a normal cold, flu or stuff, it always had to be bronchitis. A lot of doctors, whenever they diagnosed me with it, said it must have not been “treated properly” the last time I had it so it came back, so I was often wondering how come no one knows how to treat it properly. I would always get some kind of antibiotic, sometimes two or three, one after another, and then it would go away and come back next year, or sometimes even after a few months. At some point I just got used to the fact that I got that weird thing once or twice a year where I first got a really sore throat and impressive amounts of snot, then would go really hoarse for a few days and sounded as if I’d been smoking longer than I’d been alive, and then all the snot would gradually go down into my airways and make me phlegmy and wheezy. As a small kid I often got fever with that and felt very ill, but as I got older, aside from the sore throat, coughing for weeks or sometimes months and the discomfort related to being filled with gunk I felt absolutely fine and would just go to school and do everything as normal, and everyone figured I just am like this and that if I feel okay and don’t get fever or anything it’s probably more like allergy thann actual bronchitis though my usual allergy meds only worked so-so. It always took really long to develop, and it frustrated me and my Mum that despite that, there didn’t seem to be any way to nip t in the bud before it developed properly. I still haven’t found a way to do that even though things are much better these days. Sometimes some people who saw me not very regularly assumed that coughing up mucus and wheezing must be my normal, everyday state lol. I remember one volunteer in particular who worked in our boarding school group and it happened so that she only came during autumn for a few years in a row, and she was so worried about me and was like: “Gosh, are you always ill like this?” 😀 At some point in my teens I suppose my system had enough of that and I got really ill with high fever and feeling weak and like absolute crap so that I had to go home and stayed there for a few months. My Mum was really worried because I apparently also looked like I was really ill and she was afraid it must be something really serious but every doctor kept saying it’s just allergy or just bronchitis. Finally we ended up finding an allergist who took a real good look at my phlegmy history, and then later on also at my other family members’ more or less similar issues, and he figured that yes, it is bronchitis, but, from what I understood, it’s something based on asthma, which I had no idea I had, and this bronchitis thing is simply the only manifestation of asthma that occurs for me, which apparently classifies it as episodic, although my Mum was also diagnosed by him with episodic asthma but hers looks a lot different so I suppose there can be very many faces to episodic asthma. So he gave me some different antibiotic for that and totally different allergy meds that I was to take only during these episodes, and suddenly I was all fine within two weeks. Then for the next couple years I kept getting it real bad with fever and everything but used more or less the same medication regimen and it would last shorter and shorter and be milder and milder every year. Finally when I had it two years ago I didn’t even need the antibiotic anymore and last year I didn’t have the bronchitis at all. So I was actually a little bit surprised and bummed when it came back again a few weeks ago as I thought maybe finally it had been “treated properly” for good. I actually got a bit freaked out, because my allergist has now retired and doesn’t work anywhere anymore, so I was scared what I’ll do if it gets really bad again and that it will be a lot of hassle filling someone else in who doesn’t know my history that well and isn’t quite as flexible with things. I did feel real crappy and weak for quite some time and sleep was the only thing I felt like doing, and even had fever for the first few days, but my respiratory symptoms were really really mild compared with all the previous times, I didn’t even have almost any cough as such at all, so I just took all the meds I usually take for the bronchitis excluding the antibiotic and ate a lot of things that help to reduce mucus and tried not to get too close with Misha (officially I am allergic to cats, which is normally very mild for Misha probably thanks to my autosuggestion but when I’m sick with this thing I try to be cautious and don’t let him into my bedroom or anything, but it didn’t seem like he was too upset about that) and it’s almost all cleared out now, and I’m feeling great. Meanwhile my poor Mum keeps coughing, and now it’s her who gets weird comments and questions from people: “Wow, are you sick still, or again?” “Covid, eh?” “Have you tried…?”

Just as I started recovering, it was my Dad who got sick and he claimed he caught it from me. I’m not really sure it’s possible if my bronchitis is asthma-based or something for someone else who doesn’t have asthma to catch it, but, like, what do I know. Also my Dad doesn’t belong to the phlegmy club normally, it’s just the three of us. Unfortunately he had to work the first few days of his illness, but then thankfully managed to get along with his colleague with whom they work shifts that he’ll take over until Dad recovers properly which is really great. Then over the weekend things actually got worse with him, he now has real bad sounding, chesty cough and is just overall not feeling well. He was tested for Covid, because he said he had something wrong with his sense of taste, but it came negative. So yesterday Mum drove him to the doctor, and, surprise… it’s bronchitis. 😀 Mum and me still doubt that it’s mine that he caught, he probably just has your usual bronchitis that normal people get sometimes. He’s now on an antibiotic and keeps feeling really miserable as far as I can tell based on the very miserable cues he’s sending. Today Mum figured that she could do cupping for him, she usually does that when anyone in the family is sick with a cold or something similar. But then she forgot that there was an online parents’ meeting for Sofi’s class so she had to be there. My grandad had finally taught me how to do cupping last year, which was a very stressful process but now I feel relatively confident doing it, so when I did my Norwegian and saw what the situation was I offered that I could do it for Dad, and both Mum and he were happy with that so I did. So that’s why I’m now thinking about all that illness stuff. I really hope Dad recovers quickly, because so far for the last few days it doesn’t seem like he’s been doing any better.

So, how about you? 🙂