Question of the day (11th June).

What is something you enjoy doing, but others don’t?

My answer:

I really like reading dictionaries, while it’s just flicking through them (with or without a specific purpose) or reading them as you would a novel. I find words extremely interesting and sensorily stimulating as I have several forms of lexical synaesthesia (lexical-tactile and lexical-gustatory). I don’t do it very often because accessibility of dictionaries isn’t very high as a general rule, I had a dictionary of foreign words/loanwords in Braille as a child but now no longer have it as it took up a lot of space that I could have used for other things, plus when I started to use technology more it became useless because if I’d really need to look up something in this dictionary it’s in public domain so I can very easily do it online. I also have some Swedish-Polish/Polish-Swedish dictionaries in normal print which I’ve also scanned so I can read them, but these scans are actually pretty bad and difficult to read so it’s often easier for me to go online and do research if I need to figure out some Swedish word and how it’s used. Then now that I have an iPhone I also have tons of English dictionaries on it, and a couple Welsh ones – one very detailed with all sorts of information you may need and quite confusing sometimes if you’re a learner, and the other a lot more concise. – But you can’t really go through a dictionary app on your phone as you can through an actual book, plus the Welsh ones are not overly friendly when you’re a screen reader user which is discouraging. Still, I do like reading/browsing through dictionaries when I can and I think I do it a lot more often than average, not just because I’m learning languages but out of plain curiosity.

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

What are you in the 1% of?

My answer:

I hardly care about percentages, but let’s think… The first thing that springs to my mind is that (touch wood) I’ve never really had a proper cavity, despite my dental hygiene being rather crappy most of the time and not caring overly about what I eat. My Mum says it’s a miracle, I’m more inclined to think it’s genetics ’cause my whole family have very healthy teeth. The reason why this springs to my mind first is that I recently actually chipped my tooth slightly, but at the same time must have been badly enough that it hurt. It wasn’t a terrible pain, but rather annoying and wouldn’t go away for about two weeks so I was rather concerned. I guess it’s now gotten used to being chipped ’cause it now only hurts very very slightly and occasionally and the dentist didn’t even see any problem with it on an X-ray, but I got quite freaked out by how suddenly and easily it chipped and didn’t know what was going on. At the same time, strangely enough, my other teeth also became temporarily more sensitive so I was seriously wondering whether perhaps my lucky time is over and now my teeth are decaying all at once. 😀 Which is a real scary prospect when you’re emetophobic, hate gagging and having things in your mouth which is unavoidable at the dentist’s. So I had a full mouth X-ray to see what’s going on in there and both the X-ray technician and then my dentist couldn’t stop saying how healthy my teeth are and how they’d like all their patients to have such teeth as me. 😀 Back when I was going to school and when my emetophobia was bad enough that I really struggled brushing my teeth, whenever we were told that we’d be having a dental checkup, which we’d typically learn right before it was about to happen, I’d just brush my teeth beforehand or if there wasn’t enough time just run to the loo and scrape my teeth with my finger until they felt smoother, and the dentist’s reaction was always the same: “Wow, you have very healthy teeth!” I’m so freakin’ grateful for it, I seriously feel for any people out there who are emetophobic or have other phobias that get in the way of dentist appointments and who have more trouble with their teeth. Or maybe life is merciful enough that bad teeth plus emetophobia just don’t happen together? Still, the whole experience and the fear around it did set my phobia back a fair bit. Which also means that again I have to take a break from working on my post about all things emetophobia ’cause I don’t want to make it even worse.

So yeah, I don’t know how many people don’t develop cavities, and also it still might happen to me, although obviously I really really hope it won’t, but still it seems like I’m in the minority.

Another thing is I often wonder how many people in Poland can communicate in Welsh on any level, and I’m actually very curious. Of course it’s a minority language to begin with and I don’t even know what percentage of people worldwide can speak it. What I’m even more curious of is, if we exclude any potential Welsh natives or Welsh people who acquired it later in life and can use it to some extend, who may live in Poland, and people of any other nationalities who were born in Wales and acquired the language there (or perhaps in Patagonia where it’s also spoken), and any Polish people who learned the language to whatever degree in an academic setting (you can study it here at one or two universities) or while living in Wales (there’s a big Polish minority), how many people are left who can speak it? Is my family very far off in thinking that it’s just Bibielle? 😀 I’d like to know if there are other people in this country who are learning it like me – non-academically and plain because they like it, without ever having been there, having family there or anything like that. – If I’m the only one, it’s cool because it’s quite hilarious as I’d be literally one in like 38 millions, lol, but it would be just as cool if there were other such weird individuals here ’cause the more the merrier, at least this is the case when we’re talking about an extinct language. I’ll surely be even more of a phenomenon when I start learning Sami or Frisian, as, as far as I know, there’s no way to study these languages here in Poland. I hope I can do this.

AVPD is quite rare, or at least rarely diagnosed, can’t remember how many percent now, if I ever knew it to begin with, but maybe it could be around 1%. Actually in Poland alone it’s very possible. Then I am also a synaesthete, and one of the types of synaesthesia I experience is lexical-gustatory, which is apparently the most rare. Google claims there are 2-4% of synaesthetes so perhaps this could count.

I’m also such a strange peep who hardly ever feels any smells unless very strong and chemical ones, and even then it’s more like I feel them at the back of my throat rather than in the nose, yet at the same time I can’t say I have any problems with taste and flavour, or if I do it’s towards the other extreme that I guess I’m overly sensitive to some flavours. I have totally no idea why that is, I know there’s such a thing as hyposmia/anosmia where you have little to no sense of smell but I guess those people don’t experience flavours either, plus these are medical conditions as far as I know and I can’t really say my smell anomaly impacts me in any negative way, I’d rather say it’s the opposite ’cause I don’t have to feel all the yucky smells of this world and don’t miss the beautiful ones as I don’t know/can’t recall them.

Also I don’t like some things which most people seem to like and it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t. For example I dislike Harry Potter. Not just because it’s not okay with my religion, but it just totally doesn’t interest me, I don’t like most of the modern fantasy genre I suppose. Same about Star Wars. Or Twilight, and all the other vampire stuff. I actually did give Twilight a fair chance and I totally see why people may find it appealing, but don’t share the excitement and don’t want to. I don’t like a lot of books that normal people do, or at least don’t see anything special in them.

Oh yeah , and on another note, I don’t like pizza. Don’t hate it, but don’t like it either, and it seems to be a very unpopular opinion, at least among people I know.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

What’s one thing you absolutely want to do, given the chance, before you die?

My answer:

It’s nothing unpredictable for people who already know me. The thing I particularly want to do out of the things I want to do before I die category, is to, hopefully, learn all “my” languages to such a level that I can understand them without too much difficulty. I don’t know how realistic it’ll be, given that some of my languages are extincting, or already extincted and revived, and thus the amount of resources available to learn them is limited in comparison to, say, English, or even Swedish, and also I don’t like the idea of having a very long life. Plus there are other problems, including, but probably not limited to: because I am blind, the amount of resources shrinks even more; I live outside of the territories where these languages are spoken and with small languages like that it is a big deal, it may be difficult to find native speakers online, for example I still don’t know any Scottish Gaelic native, or a Sami one; some of them don’t have their own Braille alphabet and I do find it a lot easier when I can read and write in a language and not only listen, some don’t have good speech synths or none at all, for example there’s no Cornish speech synthesiser ’cause it doesn’t pay off for sure to make a synthesiser speaking a language that was once dead and then resurrected but still has like 500 speakers, and there are probably more things that can get in the way that I can’t think of right now. So while I don’t really know how well that will go in practice and how much of it is actually achievable and how much is just Bibiel’s lovely little dream like a lot of things have turned out to be, I’m going to do what I can do to make it work and to learn as many of them as possible. I’m doing quite well with Welsh, which is an endangered language, even though the beginnings were quite hopeless and infuriatingly frustrating, but that has been the case with every single language I was beginning to learn, so I’m taking the risk by being carefully optimistic about the rest that things will go well after some initial significant upheavals. We shouldn’t forget that technology also keeps developing so who knows, maybe those resources which aren’t accessible for me now will become later on.

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

What is the weirdest thing you have ever heard in a public place?

My answer:

I like to eavesdrop on people’s conversations discretely, but the only thing I can think of right now is from a few years back when we were at the beach, or actually walking back to the car from it, and we were passing two young people, a girl and a boy, who in turn were walking towards the beach. That is when I learned that north is actually west in English. Like, the word for west is “north”. 😀 My Mum doesn’t know English beyond some words and phrases she has passively absorbed from TV, music, technology, Sofi’s exercise books, me etc. but even she knows what north and west means in English and both of us were quite amused. These people could be like uni age or older, so they definitely must have had English at school and surely would already have covered things like directions, which, if I remember correctly, people normally learn in third grade in primary or so. That might give you a bit of an idea about the level of foreign language education in Polish schools, and how much attention is paid to people actually retaining and being able to use what they learn. The school way of teaching languages is pretty tragic, uninteresting and severely lacking in creativity. So I can’t even blame people. Of course student involvement is key too, but you won’t get a student involved if you won’t interest them with your subject, and few teachers care about that. My Sofi says it all the time that she is intimidated to say in her English class that she doesn’t understand something ’cause the teacher will be like “*sighs* But Sofi, what do you still not understand? I have already explained it!” It seems like most of her class must have some understanding problems as the vast majority takes extracurricular private lessons at a language school, which of course are paid. People who actually are interested for some reason (like this Bibiel here happened to be) are bored to tears in class and need to do everything on their own if they want to progress, which, I can imagine, can be discouraging for many, in fact, I myself started to dislike English as a subject quite early on, and wasn’t far from disliking it as a language at some point.

You? 🙂

Jacob Elwy – “Pan Fyddai’n 80 Oed” (When I Will Be 80).

Hey all you people! 🙂

Time for what currently Bibiels like best in terms of music – something from Jacob Elwy! – Yayy!

If you still don’t know who Jacob Elwy is – he is my new faza subject or faza peep, and if you don’t know what is faza either you can find out

 

here.

So, over the last few months since the start of my faza on Jacob, I’ve shared with you some music from Y Trŵbz, (the band where he’s been the vocalist) and also a piece sung by Jacob together with Mared Williams for Cân i Gymru (Song For Wales) 2019. But I’ve never shared with you any of his solo music yet. Admittedly, there’s not much of it so far, just some singles, but they’re all really worth listening to (or otherwise I wouldn’t have the faza).

Interestingly, Jacob took part in Cân i Gymru twice in a row -first together with Mared, and the second time with Rhydian Meilir accompanying him on piano. – Rhydian Meilir is also the one who composed and wrote the lyrics to both his Cân i Gymru songs as well as most of his other solo songs that have been released.

I really regret that: a. I didn’t follow Cân i Gymru during those two years and b. that I didn’t know about Jacob back then. As it happened, this year it was Jacob’s younger brother – Morgan – who took part in Cân i Gymru and won it with his reggae tune “Bach O Bach O Hwne” (A Bit A Bit Of That). He has quite a few siblings, and they’re a very strongly musically inclined, and I’m curious if all of them will now take part in Cân i Gymru, that would be really interesting! 😀 I have no doubt that it’s mostly due to my zealous crossing fingers (out of pure loyalty which I always have for my faza peeps and which also extends to other people connected with them), following Cân i Gymru at the time while it was happening and putting all my energy into it that made his song win. 😀 To be totally honest, I didn’t love Morgan’s song all that much, although I didn’t dislike it either, it just didn’t speak to me quite as much as Jacob’s both Cân i Gymru songs did (they both won the 2nd place), but that’s just me and my style and I can see beyond it, especially as someone who used to be quite keen on reggae once upon a time, that objectively it was a really cool song and very much a breath of fresh air for the Welsh music scene, which doesn’t have a lot of reggae music enthusiasts like him, or at least I don’t know many.

I don’t always love the lyrics like these, which I call half-ironically “inspirational”, because they can sound quite cliche and as someone who is picky and likes quirky lyrics, I can’t possibly like cliche lyrics at the same time. These, unfortunately, are a little bit on the cliche side, but I don’t care. Probably because it took me some time to actually understand them fully, not just the gist, and over that time I’ve already grown to like this song because it’s really really good musically in my opinion. The first time I heard it was on BBC Radio Cymru (or was it Cymru FM?) half-asleep, when I was having a migraine, and I remember vaguely thinking that I really like it. I only much later learned who sings it and that some small part of why I like it is because, in this song, Jacob’s voice sounds particularly similar to my late friend Jacek from Helsinki’s singing voice, which I believe was why I originally got this faza.

And, regarding these lyrics, yes, they may be slightly cliche, but they’re true. I often hear this song in my brain when I feel depressed and unmotivated and have no energy for my Welsh learning, and then I often find the motivation, because it makes me think – gosh, I still have so much to learn, it would be so frustrating if I were 80 and suddenly realised that I could have learnt many more languages, or learnt the one I know a lot better than I do, but didn’t, just because I gave in too often when I wasn’t doing well mentally or my linguistic progress wasn’t going quite as smoothly as I’d ideally like. On a different note, I dearly hope I won’t have to live this long. So, yes, it actually is kind of inspirational and motivating for me.

I’m also super happy because I managed to translate these lyrics, as they are quite easy! I’m sure my translation is not perfect, a bit unpolished in places and sometimes I didn’t know what some little words literally meant in English but overall I’m quite proud of the result.

 

When I will be 80

I want to look back and smile

At the foolish things I did

When I was young

When I will be 80

I don’t want to be overwhelmed by the pain

Of regretting the things I didn’t do

When I could

And when I will be 80

I want to hold you

Knowing that our love

Has overcome everything

But don’t hold back

You have nothing to lose

Life is too short to

Keep turning around

And when I will be 80

Grateful for having a family

Who are always there for me, still

And are like a strong rock

Don’t hold back

You have nothing to lose

Remember that it is yourself

who limits you

And don’t say „There’s always tomorrow”

Raise and go for it

Before it’s too late

Raise and go for it

Before you will be 80

Question of the day.

Are you learning anything new?

My answer:

Of course I’m always learning new words and structures in, and new things about my languages, but this is the everyday standard. Other than that, one major thing I’ve been learning lately is, I’ve recently started exploring and also practicing a bit Christian/Catholic meditative prayer, which I was a little bit apprehensive to before for all sorts of reasons, both totally personal/emotional and more spiritual, and a bit confused by it, but now I feel like it could be both a good thing to encorporate into my life long-term for strengthening my relationship with God and becoming a better Christian, but also a very valuable alternative to secular mindfulness for my emotional well-being and healing. That being said, I still haven’t made up my mind whether it will be a regular thing in my daily routine and whether I’ll stick to it, I’m trying to get more of a feel for it for now and if it could work for me on a regular basis.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

Do you do anything artistic/creative?

My answer:

I consider myself quite a creative person, but not necessarily artistic at the same time. I do write a lot, but these days it’s mostly non-fiction – either journalling or blogging. – I still write some short stories, mostly in Polish, and occasionally in English, and when they’re in English I usually post them on here as well if I think they are reasonably good, but I wrote a lot more of that kind of stuff when I was a teenager. Still, if we consider that only things that have some kind of audience cann be called art, most of my short stories from that time were no art because I would usually delete them shortly after writing or rip them into pieces and throw into the bin because I didn’t want to realise after a week or a year that what I wrote and originally really enjoyed writing it and thought it was good, is in fact super cringey. 😀 People would often be very surprised when I mentioned to them that I was writing something, and they’d be all like: “Show me! Show me!” and then learn that I deleted it right away. 😀

I also still have that whole Jack Hamilton novel which I’ve been writing since like fourth grade in primary school, but now it’s less about writing and more about just having a continuous connection with Jack who has been my great friend for years and I just owe him a lot, and besides it’s always felt more like he wrote it himself – I’d have some idea how to develop something but in the end it would go totally differently because, well, I guess he just had completely different ideas on how he wants to live his life than I did, and because it’s his life, and he’s quite a stubborn character, I didn’t have a say about that. 😀 – But it was more interesting this way.

I have two other novel ideas lying and collecting dust (well not really, they’re on my Braille-Sense so dust isn’t a problem) which are mostly just drafts even if quite detailed and well-developed ones. One of them I don’t think I’ll ever come back to writing seriously, because we originally started writing it with Jacek from Helsinki, then Jacek passed away and after a long time I picked it up again and wrote some more, but eventually realised that it doesn’t make sense without Jacek, who made up all the conlangs (constructed languages) that people in various worlds of this book spoke in, he came up with the idea first. It was no longer as much fun either. The other novel idea I am planning on developing and publishing under a pen name if ever I find myself in a more difficult financial situation, although I honestly have no idea how “publishable” it would be and if I could seriously make any money from something like this.

Also, I still try to translate some poems of Cornelis Vreeswijk into Polish whenever my creative juices are overflowing, which I’ve started doing when I was 17 and originally had a very idealistic dream of publishing them. Now I’m not so sure I would ever do that, even though part of me would still love to do it. There are many reasons for why not. The most important one is probably simply that I haven’t translated many poems in their entirety so far, and it’s even less when you don’t count the ones that I think still could be improved and I think I will be improving them over time. It’s always so that when I start to translate something, have some idea how it could be done, I get stuck at some point and I have a fair few translations that I think are really pretty good but there are either gaps or they aren’t finished because I don’t know how to translate something in a way that flows right or find some other problem along the way that I don’t know how to solve. Also I still feel incredibly self-conscious about the whole thing, if I’m honest. Another problem is something I had doubts about ever since I’ve started doing this – how well these poems could actually be received here. – Whether it wouldn’t be a bit as if, like I often say, I were trying to plant bananas in Poland, or something like that. A lot of his poems and lyrics are very Swedish and I can see some real Scandinavophiles being happy about such a translation, but not really beyond this niche. And lastly, over time, as I’ve been getting to know Cornelis better, and also forming my own views and beliefs, I’ve figured that, as much as I like him and a lot of his music and a lot of his writing, as much as I feel a lot of some kind of soul kinship or what you may call it with him, and find a lot of what he wrote relatable, we also do not agree at all about A WHOLE LOT of things. A lot of what he wrote is more or less political, and his views on most sociopolitical things are vastly different than mine, I am more than sure that I wouldn’t want to be associated with this and make an impression that I support his way of thinking, and I think that impression would be very strong to people. It would be as if I kind of betrayed myself or something. Of course, I could just translate the ones that do not touch on topics about which I strongly disagree with him, which is what I do, but as his views were quite naturally a strong part of him and his style, I feel like that wouldn’t be fully fair and wouldn’t give people a full picture. Which makes you wonder whether I’m seriously the right person to do this, as I originallyy thought and was told by some. Still, I can just translate his poems and lyrics for myself, and develop both my Swedish and general writing skills, especially that it’s quite a demanding kind of writing, to be able to reproduce someone’s writing style and what they have to say in another language, especially if you’re neither a poet nor a songwriter yourself. But I pretend I can do it. 😀

Something that I do that you could perhaps call some form of art ’cause it’s creative and it has an audience, is storytelling. Since Sofi was little, I’ve been making up stories for her about a creature called Jim. Jim is a so called Jimosaurus, which I don’t even know myself what exactly it means, other than he’s most definitely not a human, despite he looks exactly like one, and that being a Jimosaurus makes him immortal, and always looking very young (he always looks the same age as Sofi so you could say that his appearance is aging with her). Another difference that it makes is that, while he can eat normal, human food and really enjoys it, it is not life-sustaining for him. What is, is helping people, or any other living beings. He lives in a forest in Australia and is its king. His best friends and helpers are Zofijka the Bee – who is very practical, down-to-earth, chatty and sociable, a bit rough sometimes but very caring, and she’s something like a healer or a doctor, so Jim often takes her on his helping escapades – and a bear (I know there are no bears in Australia but Sofi doesn’t care either way, and I feel like it’s not a proper bedtime story if there are no bears, as I loved bears when I was a little child) who is very clumsy, makes an impression as if he’s always asleep or confused about where he is and what he’s doing, and wherever he is, something must go wrong, because he’s so forgetful and scatterbrained, but he has a heart of gold, and is a good listener if he isn’t too sleepy. Because he’s Jim’s best friend, Jim usually chooses him to replace him as the king whenever he goes to help someone, which is quite often. The Bear doesn’t like it but he likes Jim so he always agrees.

Jim has a little cottage in the forest, and whenever he’s feeling hungry, he takes his leather wings and his magical torch and sits on top of his roof, dangling his legs, and looks around the whole world to see who needs help most. When he finds someone, he puts on his leather wings, calls Zofijka if she’s needed and the Bear to let him know that he’s the king now, and anyone else who may be useful, and flies speedily to wherever his help is needed, and helps, always effectively.

Sometimes he helps people, sometimes animals or plants, sometimes it’s people Sofi knows or some random people, and sometimes they end up being friends and Jim takes them to the forest with himself, especially if the help they need is a change of surroundings because they live with mean people or something. Sometimes he helps with really trivial things that anyone could help with, while other times they’re proper miraculous interventions. Most of the time though he helps children all over the world in all sorts of situations, from a very difficult homework to dealing with life after a child’s mum was diagnosed with cancer.

Sofi really likes Jim and always when she has a problem she says she’d like if he could see her and come and wants him to be real. Who wouldn’t. I always tell her these stories before sleep – well not as in every time she goes to sleep but whenever I tell them to her, it’s at bedtime. – I really like them as well. My friend once said I could actually write them for more people and I thought it could be cool, but Sofi really hated the idea because it’s her personal Jim and I totally get that.

So yeah, that’s as artistic as it gets with me. 😀 I used to do music a lot at school but, as I’ve said many times, it was quite stressful and not all that fullfilling so in the end I decided I feel better as a listener than performer, although I do appreciate having that experience as I believe it makes me a slightly better listener/judge than I could be otherwise. A lot of people remember me from my early childhood when I was singing a lot, also in competitions and such, and I was considered to sing well (I don’t know, as far as I am concerned, when I listen to some old recordings of myself that my parents have I don’t think I sang any better than most children at my age then but okay), feel disappointed that I no longer do it (part of why I don’t is because that was the only thing some people seemed to like me for 😀 ), and when they say so I say that I simply switched to a different kind of music, which is languages. Because I do think that language is a form of music and that some musical skills are helpful with picking up honetics, although people have divided opinions on that and it’s not difficult to find very good singers who are crap at other languages than their native. 😀 So if you consider language learning an art, well, then I’m most definitely very artistic! The only audience for my singing these days though is Misha, who seems to like being sung to.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

What is something small and seemingly insignificant that brings you joy?

My answer:

The main thing that brings me joy and is definitely small, although we could and should argue about the “seemingly insignificant” part, is Misha. And also that Misha seems to be feeling better and is in a happier mood than he was recently.

Other than that, books, music, food, sleep, surrounding myself with my languages, some fun dreams I’ve had recently, playing BitLife –
although you probably wouldn’t call my current life in there the most joyful or successful one, even though I’m a millionaire and a member of the Danish royal family, at least to me it seems a bit grim – writing with my penfriends, playing with Sofi, being alone, some small milestones in my Welsh learning, my gem stones… yeah, these are all things that come to my brain right now.

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

What is something that is making you happy?

My answer:

Part of me is very happy that Easter is coming very soon, since this is such a joyful holiday filled with hope and how couldn’t I be happy about it, as a Christian! 🙂 On the other hand, I’m not so happy about it because for me holidays like that and often some time leading up to them are always very stressful and just so uncomfortable overall for all sorts of reasons and it’s getting to me a bit already.

Misha always makes me happy, although lately I’ve been worried about him because he doesn’t seem to be feeling well.

Oh, and my Welsh progress is making me extremely happy. It’s not huge, but at least it’s visible, and during this month I’ve gotten some real confidence boost and a proof that, while I may not be fluent just yet, I can already use the language fairly efficiently in writing, even if it requires a lot of effort and brain power.

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

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

My answer:

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

You? 🙂

Reasons why I love Polish.

If any of you have been reading my blogfrom it’s early months, you might recall a post I wrote about all the

reasons why I’m learning Welsh

that I could come up with. It was a translated post from my previous, Polish blog, and I wrote it because pretty much every single person whom I mentioned it to would ask me this question as either the first, or the second one, right after “Isn’t it an English dialect?” 😀 and because, well, as you can see in that post, there are very many reasons.

I enjoyed writing that post and it got a lot more attention than I thought it would, so the next year I also wrote about

reasons why I’m learning Swedish

and last year

reasons why I’m learning English.

I haven’t started learning any new language since then (even though some people seem to believe that I start learning a new one every month, haha), and I think it’ll be a while yet until I do, but although my language bucket list is long, I’m not rushing anywhere. And, there’s still one language that I know that I think also deserves its own post, even though I’m not learning it. Well, I am technically, but since I’m a native, it’s a different kind of learning, of course. And obviously as you can figure out of the title, or even if you know about me, this language is Polish. I was a little hesitant about writing this post however, even though I was thinking from the beginning of this yearly language series that I should do it. Of course I love Polish, and in a way it’s a more special relationship than with any other of my languages, but, because it’s always been a part of my life and not really as a result of my own, conscious choice as is the case with the others, I thought it would be harder to come up with as many reasons. As someone who hates anything to do with math, I always tend to appreciate quality over quantity, but I wouldn’t like this post to stand out as the shortest of the whole series, that would be sad and unfair, even if just in my opinion.

I shared the dilemma with my Mum, who rightly noticed that it would be much more sad and unfair if I didn’t write it at all. And that perhaps the reasons as such will speak louder here than their amount would. That was a very fair point to me, so that’s why I am writing this post today, after all.

Here are all the reasons why I love Polish:

   1.

It is, like I said earlier, my mother tongue, so, in a way, I have even more of a connection with it than any other of my languages. It was the first language that sparked the love for language in my brain, I mean language in general, as a phenomenon, linguistics. It made me fall in love with words, my synaesthetic associations with them, it showed me how fun it is to play with words and expand your vocabulary. I love it because it’s the language in which I communicate with people I love – my family. – And because learning it made me more able and open to learn other languages later on.

   2.

Like all my languages. It is plain beautiful. While other Slavic languages aren’t among my most most most favourites (I do like them a lot, they are super cool and very charming but they aren’t in that MOST group), I strongly believe that even if it wasn’t my mother tongue, I’d still end up loving Polish, I don’t know how I could not.

   3.

While I’m not inclined to brag like some of us like to do that our language is the most difficult in the world (it depends on what you’re starting with, and there are much, much more complex languages out there), Polish does have a rather complex grammatical structure when compared to English, and – if you can ever be objective about such things – I’d say it’s also more complex phonetically than all the languages I’ve learnt so far. That makes me lucky, because the more difficult language you’re starting with, the easier you’ll likely find learning other languages, because you may be familiar with their trickier bits already from your mother tongue. I don’t have to be scared of languages with genuses or cases, for example, and arduously try to conceptualise them, because I already know what they are all about, now I just have to figure out how they apply to the language I’m learning and what differences there are compared to what I’m used to. And while picking up phonetics of foreign languages seems to be more of an individual trait, I think it does help me with it that, in my mother tongue, there are sounds which can hardly be differentiated from each other by a non-native even though they are different (see ś and sz, ć and cz etc.).

   4.

There is a lot of great Polish literature. I don’t know much about how much of it gets translated to other languages and which ones most often, but given that most countries are largely focused either on writing their own literature, or translating things from English, and the Anglophone world doesn’t seem to translate a lot, if I lived anywhere else and didn’t speak Polish, I probably wouldn’t get to know books by people who are now my favourite Polish authors.

   5.

Some of the swearwords and expletives are priceless. See my post

about gingerbread,

for example, if you want to learn more.

   6.

It has loads of amusing idioms. And lots of such that are very straightforward and to the point, and lots of such that I just love the sound of.

7.

The archaic Polish language. While I think it’s very true that a language is alive as long as it’s changing, because we are always changing and the times are always changing so it would be weird if the language wouldn’t, hence I don’t understand people who are all against slang, loanwords and other such things, I think it would be fun if we talked more like we used to, used more of that vocabulary we no longer do. Or, why the heck did we stop using initial stress in words to replace it with a paroxytone stress? I guess only highlanders speak with an initial syllable stress now, and I like that because it makes them sound like Finns. 😀 Or I hate that we stopped using long and short vowels because that makes the prosody of a language feel more interesting. I love love love reading older Polish books where there are words that we no longer use, some that I don’t even really get and I love learning what they mean and feeling them. People used to have such a delicious way of writing, even at the beginning of the 20th century, not to mention earlier. I feel like it often gets lost now. I say delicious because one of the synaesthesias I have is lexical-gustatory and while words almost always have some sort of a taste and it’s not like the modern Polish language doesn’t and like there aren’t any delicious words in it (far from it), it’s just that more archaic Polish language tends to have something very specific about its taste as a whole, that I really like. My Mum has also always loved reading books written in an archaic or obsolete language, so I guess it must be genetic. She especially has a lot of prayer books from like even before WWI I guess, when even the spelling was different and we used y instead of j, or my grandma has a cook book from the end of 19th century. I just love things like these!

8.

Dialects. You may perhaps remember from my post about English, that I wrote about Polish being a fairly unified language in terms of accent, especially when compared to English. However, there still are some slight variations to how people speak in different regions and it’s interesting to observe. There are also some dialects. I don’t necessarily have to love all of them as such in terms of whether they appeal to me aesthetically, but I love that the ones that exist still do, that we have some linguistic diversity (although I wish there was more or at least that it would be more pronounced), and although I myself don’t speak any dialect or don’t have a particularly distinguishable accent (despite being half-Kashub, and Kashubian is classified as a minority language but I can hardly understand it let alone speak it), I am very easily driven up the wall by people saying things like that it is not “elegant” to speak in a dialect, for example. I do think it’s a good skill to have to be able to speak your language in some universal, standard way that is often considered more formal, but being disapproving of someone speaking in a different way is not only discriminatory but also kind of smothering a person’s identity, and I guess that’s one of the reasons why it bothers me so much whenever I come across such an attitude.

   9.

Words that are untranslatable to other languages that I know. I am always interested in the concept of untranslatable words, in any language, and the ideas behind them, how you can express sometimes some incredibly complex ideas using one word in one language, but in another, one sentence may sometimes be too little. A very good example of a Polish word that is untranslatable to English is kombinować, which also happens to be a word that I really like and which, as many Poles think, reflects our resourcefulness as a nation. 😀 Yes, there is combine, and kombinować absolutely can mean combine, but it also has another definition. It is something you do when you have a problem that you need to resolve, but there’s no straight way out of it and it needs first a lot of thinking and then coming up with some unconventional work-around strategy, which sometimes may not be the most honest one. Both the thinking process and then carrying your idea out is what kombinować means. When it is dishonest, you could of course say it’s plain cheating but cheating feels a LOT more weighty and negative, and also kombinować is more colloquial, plus kombinować may, but doesn’t have to include, any cheating. It could be coming up with any creative, out-of-the-box solution or idea and then doing what you came up with. It is often translated as being up to something but it’s not the same.

   10.

Poglish, Ponglish, Pinglish or whatchamacallit. I’ve always said Ponglish, but a lot of people say Poglish and recently I came across Pinglish and I think Pinglish is best. Anyway, obviously you know what I’m talking about, the blend of Polish and English. It is often used by Polish diaspore in the US and the UK (like in Chicago I guess it’s quite a big thing) or by Polish young people in a slangy sort of way, or (voluntarily or not) by Polish speakers learning English/English speakers learning Polish when they’re dealing with language interference and/or nearly discharged/fried brains. It can be so freakishly amusing sometimes.

   11.

I often gravitate towards languages that are less popular and less heard off, if not obscure. Polish may not be as much as obscure, but, apart from Poland or places in other countries where there are a lot of Polish immigrants, you won’t hear it a lot, and there aren’t super many non-natives who would speak it. This small language factor is very appealing to me.

   12.

Because, whether it is the most difficult language in the world or not, it is viewed by many learners and natives as difficult, and I was lucky enough to not have to make a conscious effort of learning it. 😀 And the difficult factor is also appealing in itself. I like difficult languages, they are fascinating, kind of similarly to how complex human beings are.

What do you love your native language for, if you do, and if you don’t, why? 🙂

 

Ten Things of Thankful.

How are you people doing? Thought I’d do a bit of a gratitude list, linking up with

Ten Things of Thankful – #TToT –

just because it’s Sunday. Not that Sundays are my favourite day of the week or anything – they never have – but just because I feel like it and because any time is good to be grateful.

  1.    That my new-ish migraine medication is kind of working. Some of you may recall that I was recently writing that I was free from migraines for quite an impressive amount of time – three weeks. – Well, and then I got a period, and the bliss appears to be over, because after my period went away, I already had two migraines. However, not long before that break, I was prescribed a new med by my GP, which would hopefully work better than the previous one and that I can also take in combination with the other one. I didn’t have an opportunity to test it though until this week. And it’s a bit curious because, while it by no means got rid of either of those two migraines, it did help enough that I could function somehow, and not just sleep or try to sleep my life away. The one I’ve been taking so far would either get rid of the migraine entirely sometimes, or other times not change the situation at all, it seemed to be very random. Still, we’ll see how it goes in the coming weeks, I guess. But so far, I’m grateful that, this week, it worked at least somehow, and that I’m not having a migraine today.
  2.    My faza developing beautifully and my current faza subject. My faza peak has gone down somewhat, but it’s normal, and so far it’s still a peak and doing quite well as such, and even without a peak, having a major faza is always such a fabulous thing! I wish I knew more about him than I do but oh well, maybe I still will over time… In this respect, this is probably the most difficult faza I’ve had, but at least I’m developing my deductive skills, or something… Oh yeah and I’d like to squeeze in all my pleasant and positive synaesthetic experiences in here, which I’m also very grateful for.
  3.    And, speaking of the faza and brain stuff, my Welsh language development. Lately it’s been feeling quite speedy. Well, maybe not as miraculously, spectacularly speedy as it was with my Swedish or English, but still. Recently I had my first dream where parts of it were in Welsh, and I’d been waiting for this for such a long time, because, you know, when you’re starting to dream in a language you’re learning, it shows that your brain is really processing it intensely and you’re actually absorbing it, and on the other hand that it’s already ingrained enough that it can even come out of your subconscious. And it’s just fun to be able to dream in yet another language. I was really waiting for it a long time because it was slowly starting to get boring to only dream in Polish, English and Swedish, as much as I’m crazy for these languages, I need more diversity. It probably needs time until Welsh will appear in my dreams regularly, and in that dream there were only like snippets of it, but it’s a great start, isn’t it? As you may know, I needed to limit my Welsh learning quite a lot last year because I had a lot of tech transitions and familiarising myself with new technology to do, so I only restarted my intensive learning this year. And I just love that feeling that I always get on Mondays after learning (Mondays are my most intensive days when I introduce new material, which can take up to 3 hours and then I work on it for the rest of the week about half an hour daily), when all my brain muscles are pleasantly sore and steaming and twitching in a total mix of languages. During this past year I kind of forgot how very satisfying and addictive this feeling can be. No space left for overthinking or anything like that. It can be quite difficult sometimes when I’m particularly depressed to get myself going, but once I do, it actually will often help me to feel better. Plus this year so far has been really pretty decent moodwise to begin with for me, as you may already know. And now with a brand new faza in the mix I have twice as much motivation, inspiration and various opportunities to further develop my language skills and they kind of do it on their own.
  4.    Podpiwek. Podpiwek is a Polish fermented soft drink made of grain coffee, hops, yeast, water and sugar, which contains a tiny little bit of alcohol, it’s served cold and in my opinion it’s better than any shop-bought fizzy drinks I’ve had. My Mum had always made it for Christmas/New Year’s, because that’s how it was at her home for some unspecified reason, but last year we had too much of everything else so she didn’t make it for Christmas which I was happy with because I was kind of sick on Christmas anyway so wouldn’t be able to enjoy it. Instead, she made it earlier this year, and since then, we’ve somehow really got hooked on it suddenly, as if we never had it before. So we came to a conclusion, why the flip only make it once a year, when you can have it all year round? Good thing that Sofi doesn’t like it, because when Sofi likes something, she absorbs it all at once, and this way there is more for the rest of us. 😀 It is very healthy, it has a lot of B vitamins and I don’t remember what else but my Mum listed a whole lot of things. It’s very refreshing. Initially, my Mum made her own, but then she made it again and it somehow didn’t turn out quite as good, at least in her opinion, so she kept experimenting until finally she decided to get the ready-made mix, got lots of it and lots of bottles, and now we have so much of it that I was at first wondering whether we’d manage to drink it all in two weeks as it’s best to do, and was worried that such a yumy thing will be wasted, but now I think there will be nothing left a lot sooner than that. It’ll probably be a fixed element of our diet now like kefir is for Mum, Sofi and me, and we may end up cutting back on shop-bought juices or soft drinks.
  5. A great book series I’m reading right now. Ages ago, one of my penn pals who is also very much into Welsh language and Wales, and especially north Wales, mentioned to me his favourite book – The Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet by Edith Pargeter. – This is a historical series about prince Llywelyn/Llewelyn ap Gruffudd otherwise known as Llywelyn the Last. It sounded to me like something I’d absolutely love to read, generally I’d love to read any realistic historical book set in north Wales because I had no luck with them and when I came across something, it was annoyingly unrealistic so that even someone like me – not a history buff – could spot it. But at the time when we were first talking about it my main source of books in English was Audible, and this book wasn’t on Audible, neither was it translated to Polish, not surprisingly to me at all. But this year he reminded me of it and told me that he was re-reading it, and what a pity it is that I can’t read it as well, so I thought I need to have a look in other places that I currently also use for getting English books from, and – yay! – I got it! And I’ve been reading it for a week now and enjoying it a lot.
  6.    Misha as always. Misha hasn’t been spending much time with me this week – or else I’d put him higher on this list – but whenever he does, it’s such a pleasure and I’m always grateful for it whenever it happens.
  7. Feeling quite well mentally and emotionally lately. I’m trying to get as much out of it as I can while it’s lasting.
  8. Jocky. I don’t have such a bond with Jocky as I do with Misha, he has this bond with Sofi and they fit each other so well, but I do love him and he’s a cute little fluffy ball and so playful and infecting with enthusiasm. But the reason why I put Jocky on this list is that he had an accident this week. He got hit by a car, and his tail was hurting a lot afterwards. It was so pitiful too see him hurting so much. Thankfully, when Mum and Sofi got him to the vet and he had X-rays, they were okay and he doesn’t have anything broken. But he still needs to take painkillers and it sure must have been hurting a lot at the beginning because even when Sofi would hold him gently and sit still, he would suddenly start to whimper. But now he’s more like his normal self and I’m so grateful for it because something like this could have easily ended up a lot worse.
  9. My Mum. Like with Misha, I’m always grateful for my Mum, because she always does a lot for me and also she is just great as a person and a lot of fun to chat with.
  10. Sleep. Mine has been really irregular for the last few days and last night for example I didn’t really sleep the best, but sleep is a great thing in general and I love to sleep, thus I’m grateful for it whenever I can get it, even if it’s not much.

Now you, what are you grateful for? 🙂

 

Question of the day.

Have you ever been to another country? Which?

My answer:

I’m not very well-travelled, but I have been to some countries a few times, although with most of them these were just day trips, so as you can guess most of these were our neighbouring countries (Lithuania, Slovakia and Czech Republic). My Mum’s family – namely my grandad – has some Lithuanian heritage, but we also have some distant family – from his side – in eastern Poland, mainly in Masuria. That is also where my Mum was born. Masuria is an amazing place to go for holidays to, because there are a lot of lakes and beautiful views and a lot of yummy food, and a lot of rural areas and tourism is quite a big thing there. So we would often go there to see our family and would often stay at their place and travel in the area or something, during summer holidays. One such year we decided to go a bit further, to Lithuania. Partly because of that family connection, although this is not something we know a lot about or have a strong emotional bond with because it’s just too distant, and partly because I’ve had a devotion to Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn, whose chapel is there, and I wanted to visit it, so my Dad had always promised me that we’d go on a pilgrimage there or something, and that’s what we eventually did. Zofijka was only a toddler then. She was also quite little on our next trip – to Slovakia – and often when we were driving somewhere that felt very far to her, she would keep asking: “Are we still in Poland?” which always made us laugh because it sounded as if she was such a globetrotter or a cosmopolitan that she can’t keep track of which country she’s in anymore. 😀

As for Slovakia, one year my Mum persuaded me to go on a summer camp that was organised by my school, and as a way of coaxing me into it she said that they – my family – would go there as well on their own. The whole trip was to the Tatra mountains, here in Poland, because my school had like its quarters there – that is, sort of a closely affiliate school in a village close to the mountains which was for primary school-aged children with some additional learning difficulties other than just blindness, so we were using that school as our base. – I would sometimes do stuff with my school, and sometimes with my family. Sometimes my family would join the school in doing what they had planned to do, and at other times they’d do something different. And my Dad was really keen on the idea of us going to Slovakia, because back when he was going to school, he once went to a school camp in Czechoslovakia and then later even was briefly penpalling with one of the girls from there, which is interesting because while Polish and Czech/Slovak are obviously in the same family of languages and are relatively well mutually intelligible, it’s not like you’ll understand each other all the time if you don’t have some background in the other language, at least that’s my experience, there are a LOT of “false friends” and their spelling also differs a fair bit, so I would never have thought that my Dad would be up for such a challenge and at school age, I’d think that would require some language consciousness that people, let alone school children, don’t always have. Then later on our trip to Czech Republic, to both my and Mum’s great surprise, it was my Dad who was the most communicative and understood people the best, my English was of less use than his Polish and plain ability to understand what people were saying. 😀 We’d never suspected him of a hidden linguistic talent like this. Anyway, because of having such memories with Czechoslovakia, and because of us being close to the Slovak borders and all being into the idea, we felt like it would be fun to go there. And because my Mum always wanted to visit some thermal aquapark or something like this, we were happy to find out that there is one quite close to the border, in Oravice. And, for me personally, that was the most fun day of the whole trip, which overall was, I believe, more exciting to my parents than my siblings and me. 😀 But we had a lot of fun in that thermal aquapark and have been thinking about going there again ever since, but never have so far.

Then, quite a lot later, as an adult already, I went to the Czech Republic only with my parents, because Sofi was on a swimming camp and Olek was working. Again, we were on longer holidays, this time in Silesia, and my Dad really wanted to cross the border. We went to Prague but weren’t really doing anything specific there, just walking around, taking everything in, people watching, listening to the language, trying random foods that we’d never seen before in our own country etc. That was a lot of fun. Then the next day we travelled to Czechia yet again but this time round to some villages and again weren’t doing anything specific. My Dad was chatting to people, me and Mum too but like I said before he was actually the most effective at that and could both be quite well understood and understand the most of us all, I remember we also went to some cemetery there.

And last, but not least, my most adventurous trip abroad so far was to Sweden, but I think most of you know a fair bit about it already. I went to Stockholm and nearby areas, again just with my parents because Sofi was on another swimming camp. This was quite spontaneous, even though my Dad was promising me every year that we’d go. I never believed it because we never ended up going. But that year he also kept saying we’d go to Sweden and then, quite unexpectedly for everyone, we actually ended up doing it. I felt really ambivalent about this trip. It was absolutely awesome, and I loved being immersed in the language and how it improved so incredibly muchh for me in this single week, how I got some real experience of talking to natives, which I had almost none of in Swedish before, or at least certainly not in person. And I heard so much positive feedback about my Swedish, although at the same time whenever I let it show in any way that it’s not my first language people would instantly switch to English so I was often wondering whether my Swedish is really that bad, haha, but I guess people just do it like this in Sweden regardless of your fluency level. It is frustrating from a learner’s perspective, but in fact I’m only starting to understand this phenomenon now that I’ve been helping some people who are learning my language, and I’ve realised that it’s really tempting to just switch to English, which we both know well, because this way we could communicate more quickly and also a bit more clearly, and I wouldn’t have to be mindful all the time of what and how I’m saying so that they could understand me more easily if they’re a beginner, which in turn feels less free and natural. Plus for me it’s probably also that I write much more in English these days than I do in Polish. 😀 But there were even people in Sweden who were surprised when they eventually realised that I’m only learning Swedish, which felt really flattering because I didn’t, and still don’t, feel all that confident in it at all, not as much as in English, my Swedish still feels a little clunky to me and not as comfy to use. But I guess what may be making this initial impressioon on people is that I pick up the phonetics and language prosody easily and perhaps I do a really good job at this one thing in Swedish, that’s what I heard from my Swedish teacher but he wasn’t objective, 😀 which maybe is what to people makes me sound more like a Swede even if I make grammatical/syntax mistakes and use sometimes not the right vocabulary than if it was the other way around – if I were speaking perfectly grammatically but with a weird accent. – If it really works like this, it’s funny that an accent can create such illusions. I loved just listening to people on the streets and observing them. One of the highlights of that trip for me was when we went to the cemetery where there is Cornelis Vreeswijk’s (one of my fazas) grave. I had always dreamt of visiting him there and bringing him some flowers. We had the yummiest Swedish chocolate and ice-cream, there were so many beautiful views that my Mum was in love with, I got lots of children’s books to scan, and, on the last day of our trip, we found a minerals shop, where I got some lovely new gem stones to my collection. I loved the shop owner, who seemed to like me too or perhaps was impressed with my interest with stones or something because he was incredibly nice and talked to me a lot about his stones and how he got them, and showed me lots of them even though initially he wasn’t too happy to let me touch them. The whole trip was extremely exhausting for me though in a lot of ways, and on that last day, I was feeling totally knackered, and when I’m very tired or sleepy or have drank alcohol or something like that, I have a strong tendency for mixing languages, especially if I happened to switch them a lot or was learning one of them intensely earlier that day. My thoughts are a jumble of different languages and sometimes I won’t be able to filter things out and will say something in a different language than I wanted. That can be quite funny, if a bit embarrassing for me or confusing for the other side, although my family are used to it and just ask me what language that was, and my family are who I mostly interact with in person. 😀 Anyways, that was the state of my brain on that day, and at some point, in the middle of my conversation in Swedish with that guy (which was rather challenging in itself because he was speaking super fast and with a rather strong Scanian accent, and Scanian accent is not something I can understand very well, it’s almost like Danish 😀 ), my Mum told me – in Polish of course – that there’s also a huge sapphire there and that it’s soooo very expensive. Instead of replying her in Polish, I did it in English, and was all like oh my I love sapphires I wish I could have it!!! or something along these lines. My Mum, who can’t speak English, didn’t get it, but the shop owner did, and was quite amused. He said he can’t sell that sapphire to me at any significantly lower price, but instead could give me a smaller one for free. And that’s how I got a lovely mini sapphire ball. That’s always something to start with, and I was quite euphoric over getting a sapphire – even if very small – to my collection. But I also bought a lot of other beautiful stones there.

The worse part of the trip was that it was really quite challenging overall, it was absolutely exhausting! First we had to do all the travelling, and my vestibular system went crazy on the ferry, I was freakishly dizzy and it was scary. Most of the trip I was going on a lot higher doses of my anti-anxiety medication than what I normally take, which is probably why a lot of my memories of that time are rather foggy and feel more like a dream or something. My parents don’t speak either English or Swedish, which means I had to do the talking for three people, when I normally struggle doing it just for myself. While my linguistic curiosity was higher than my anxiety, it didn’t make it any less difficult and all the interactioons with people, even though mostly very positive, were really wearing me out. So I was just as super happy leaving as I was going there, and I have the same very ambivalent feelings when thinking about going there again. I’d love it, but when I start to think practically about going through all that socialising and travelling shit again, it makes me feel sick. 😀

How about you. 🙂

My favourite place.

Today, I decided to do a post based on a writing prompt that I got from the PaperBlanks app which is the following:

“One place I always feel happy is…”

I don’t know if happy as such (I’ve generally got a bit of a dilemma with the word happy), but there is definitely a place which cann often make me feel happier, because it is a place where I feel safe and where I know I can be myself and do whatever I feel like doing, and which my brain associates with happy things generally. This place is my room. It’s a place where I always recharge after peopling, where I go to when I want to be alone, where i do most things in fact that are important to me, from writing to learning to working to sleeping to daydreaming. I have a real connection with it and lots of good memories, even though I’ve only been living for four years in here.

I have no pics to accompany this post, but I thought I’d describe my room a little for you, so that you could have a bit of an idea.

Both me and my siblings live upstairs. When you go up here, the first door to the left is the bathroom, and then, next to it, there’s my room. One thing that I don’t like about it is that the walls here are rather thin so that I always hear people in the bathroom, which is particularly annoying when someone is showering as there is a whole lot of noise.

It has a green, flowery wallpaper and is quite girly in terms of the design I’d say. I have a double bed – which used to be Sofi’s because Sofi is taller than me and it was clear years ago that she was going to end up taller than me so Mum wanted to get her a bed that would serve her for years, but I don’t even remember now why it ended up in my room, anyway we switched beds with Sofi and I love double beds so I’m happy with that. – Sofi now doesn’t sleep on the sofa that she got from my room anyway, because she has like two rooms, one inside of the other, and recently she has arranged her bedroom in the smaller one, on the matress, it feels more atmospheric for her and she actually has a more comfy bedroom now. Anyway, I’ve got the double bed, which means I have the space for Misha’s bed on top of it as well, and all my many pillows and other things, and can toss and turn as much as I wish, which I tend to do a lot. Misha’s bed is in the far right corner of my bed – it is a basket –

Right next to Misha’s basket, there is my bedside cabinet. There is also my power strip that is fixed to it, which is more practical because this way the cables don’t get tangled too easily and I can use my devices more freely when I’m in bed which I do a lot. My bedside cabinet has three drawers, where I have some of my clothes and things like PJ’s, meds, cosmetics, important documents that I use regularly, Misha’s treats etc. etc. it’s real messy in there. On the cabinet, there is another, more fancy cabinet where some of my gem stones reside, as well as my gem stone figurines, and some other knick-knacks that I have and that just look representative in there because this cabinet has a glass so people can see what’s in there and often get very hyper about my stones if they see them for the first time. Others are in a sort of cassette that my grandad made for me for this purpose, or in boxes. On the sides of this cabinet there are little shelves and I often also put some things there, but what is there pretty much permanently are some saintly statues that I have, a little picture of Our Lady of Ostra Brama, a statue of st. Hyacinth, and of st. Michael Archangel, and I have my rosary on there as well, while on the other shelf there are cards that I got from people over the last couple of years. As for religious stuff there is also a picture of The Last Super on the wall above my bed that I got for my First Communion. Up on the gem stone cabinet hangs my Bluetooth speaker, which I now always use at night to play some music or radio from my iPhone, which is so much better than listening on the computer which I used to be doing for years and it was okay, but my current computer is quite loud, and it’s not particularly pleasant at night really to sleep in so much hum, it feels like in some sort of a laboratory or something. 😀 On the bedside cabinet I’ll typically also have my water bottle there, right now there are hyacinths that I got for my birthday and a mug and a pot of tea.

Right next to the bedside cabinet there is my desk with an office chair. On and under the desk there is the computer (I have a desktop one, Braille-Sense, and a salt lamp, just to make it look nice, I think salt lamps are really cool. There is also a hand-made box that I got from Sofi where I keep some things that I need to have in close proximity but don’t want them necessarily to cluter the desk space. There’s also my Bluetooth keyboard for the iPhone although I use the Braille-Sense to navigate the iPhone screen far more often, and my Bluetooth headphones are there as well. There are also drawers where I keep all sorts of work documentation of my Dad’s or other papers, tons of Braille paper sheets which I don’t really use because I don’t use a Brailler all that much anymore for anything but Braille paper is expensive so it would be a shame to throw it away especially that it does come in handy sometimes when I still do need to write something, or sometimes Sofi uses it for something when she needs a thicker paper, some stationery supplies and ready-made Christmas cards that I got from my Mum when I started sending out cards to people but before I came up with MIMRA, I usually use these when I send cards or something to people outside of MIMRA, loads of cables, pen drives, SD cards, and currently also a lot of candy that I got for my birthday.

To the left of the desk, there is a window. I have both curtains and external blinds, which can be quite helpful in the summer, because my window is west-facing and my room heats up super quickly even when it isn’t hot but just very sunny outside, and it also helps when it’s very windy. On the windowsill is Misha’s observation point, you can see a lot of interesting things from here. When he gets weary of the outside world, he can go to sleep in a little basket that is standing there.

A brand new addition to my room is a big armchair which is standing between the window and the cupboards, which my Mum got somewhere last week because she liked how it looked, but didn’t really know where to put it, and eventually decided it would fit my room best. Previously I used to have a very old armchair that used to belong to my grandma decades ago. It was mostly used by people like my Swedish or English or math tutor when they used to come here, or anyone who would be visiting. Because I no longer have tutors or anything like that, and don’t have much of a need for using the armchair myself, I’m perfectly happy sitting on my bed or on the desk chair, its purpose will probably be mostly decorative, as it apparently looks really well, and my Mum likes to sit in here when she comes to my room to vent about life, which she does regularly. 😀

Then I have cupboards where there are all the other of my gem stones, another energy strip which is fixed on the inside, which I use for charging devices that I either don’t need to charge very regularly or don’t use all the time. There is also my OCR scanner, different documents of mine, some only archival like from schools, some that are actually useful sometimes. Up on the cupboards are my books in standard print, the ones that were able to fit in my room. I don’t really have a good place for storing books in here, and there isn’t really a good place for a proper bookshelf apparently either, so most of my books are on Sofi’s bookshelves. The books that I have in standard print are mostly either Swedish children’s books that I got in Stockholm at Junibacken, or books about names, and some books with fairytales and myths from all around the world – – and my Polish-Swedish and Swedish-Polish dictionary, and some other Swedish and even Norwegian books that my Mum got in a second-hand clothing shop (yes, you read that right, that’s where my Swedish tutor found that you can find ridiculously cheap Scandinavian books and my Mum had a look and found loads of them that no one was interested in, only she never could figure out which were Swedish and which Norwegian so I’ve got a lot of both, and I’ve never read the Norwegian ones or even scanned them in full, even though I think if I set my mind to it, I could, it just sounds like a lot of hassle, and I’m not motivated enough).

To the left, there is a wardrobe where there are all my clothes, and on top of it are some cartboard boxes where Misha likes to go to sleep, particularly when he’s somehow overwhelmed and doesn’t want anyone to see him. There is also myy old Brailler up there.

What is a place that you feel happy, or just safe in, and that you like? 🙂

People and things I’m grateful for.

I’d like to write some journaling prompt-inspired post, so I picked a prompt from Listify by Marina Greenway again, and it is the following:

   People And Things I’m Grateful For

In addition to the wonderful people in your life, make room to be grateful for the other special things as well. The talents you were gifted with, your home that gives shelter and comfort, a text from your best friend. There are things that we unconsciously appreciate each day. Wrack your brain and list as many as you can think of. By the way, make sure you are on your list too.

Now, you may remember a post I wrote last year about

expressing gratitude and “self-gratitude”

which was also based on a prompt from Marina Greenway, and if you read it you know that I’m not buying the self-gratitude concept and don’t really understand it, or even if it is a thing I don’t understand what the difference would be between it and what’s commonly known as self-care/self-love. I also don’t get the being grateful for yourself notion, so I won’t be including myself on the list below. I could be grateful for my life, or my parents for giving it to me or towards God for creating me, but for myself, I just don’t see the logic in here.

Here’s the list, in semi-random order.Just so you know, it’ll of course be rather long, since it’s all about coming up with as many people and things as I can.

  •    I’m grateful that God loves me. Also that I was raised in Christian faith and knew about God since the very beginning, and even though I later lost touch with Him, I have reconverted, and for all the people who help me develop my faith.
  •    I’m grateful for my life. I rarely actually feel genuinely grateful for my life and the fact that I am alive, because I’m not all that strongly attached to life and passive suicidal thoughts are something that is pretty much always there in the background for me, nevertheless it is worth appreciating and all the good things that have happened to me during my life so far. Also that I’m still alive despite I used to be actively suicidal in the past and that I’ve learnt to live with the passive suicidal thoughts.
  • That I’m Polish and live in Poland. I just like being Polish and I love the Polish language, and while you could always think about all the places where the grass is greener, I’m quite happy where I am and that my country is doing relatively well in the grand scheme of things – we are free, doing pretty well economically given the world situation, developing very fast etc. –
  • My parents, that they are loving and caring and that I have reasonably good relationships with them, especially with Mum, and that they are still alive.
  • My siblings, and especially my good relationship with Sofi and all the fun times we have together and that we get along despite a lot of differences.
  • Misha, and all the emotional support he gives me, that he makes me feel happier, safe, loved, useful and that he makes my life worth living, for his friendship and for how beautiful he is. Also that now he’s lived 5 years with us.
  • My online friends and the support and sense of community I get from interacting with them, and how meeting people who are like-minded with me but all in different ways makes me develop.
  •    All of my fazas, especially the major ones. That is, both the phenomenon of faza and my faza subjects as individuals that they exist. All the happy feelings that I get thanks to my fazas, how it helps me to cope with life, grow, develop, feel inspired and motivated. How it helps me with my languages. Also my faza subjects’ music and how it resonates with me. And, most of all, my current faza peak on Jacob!
  • Jocky and his neverending, infectious, child-like enthusiasm and happiness.
  • My other family and that they care, sometimes way too much, and all the good things they did to me and everything they helped me with, like when I was at school a lot of my extended family members would go with Mum to take me from school when Dad couldn’t and Mum didn’t feel safe or able to drive herself so far from home for some reason.
  • My languages that they exist and that I’m able to learn them or just be in touch with them, and especially the minority ones that are still alive, that they are alive despite it being a struggle. And that I have some sort of a knack for picking up the phonetics as it makes it a lot easier to learn languages. And that there are accessible places online where you can learn languages being blind. All the speakers of the extincting languages that I love, that they also keep them alive, and especially those who consciously care about keeping them alive and are proactive about this.
  • All the technology I use, whether it is assistive/specialised or mainstream, as it all helps me to do almost everything in life. My computer, my phone and my screenreaders on both, all the assistive apps, my blog and all the other places where I can stay in touch with people, my PlexTalk and Braille-Sense thanks to which I can read, and listen to music, and also that I can use my Braille-Sense in conjunction with my phone which makes it a lot easier. That I can work thanks to technology, and develop my interests. That there are dedicated people who make these things. That there are so many accessible apps and websites even if a lot aren’t, and that there are people who care about accessibility.
  •    Speaking of both language and assistive technology – people who create speech synthesis in small languages, which helps them to thrive and helps people like me with learning them. –
  • That I’m secure financially at the moment and have a job, as well as flexible work hours and that it’s not too stressful or anything, also that I am able to get disability benefits.
  • That I’m generally healthy.
  • That I haven’t had a migraine in over two weeks (this is really noteworthy because for the last few months I’d been having them at least once a week, I wonder whether it also has anything to do with a peak because the start of my faza coincides with the break in my migraines.
  • My home, that I have a place to live and that I actually feel at home here. And my room and that it is so great. That I don’t have to move around all the time anymore and have more of a sense of belonging.
  • All the beautiful things in the world.
  • Good sleep whenever I get it, and all my interesting, long and vivid dreams, and that I have a very comfy bed. Also all the nights when I cannot sleep because then I’m usually more creative so it has its benefits too.
  • Good food.
  • My synaesthesias, and other weird but fun things like that in my brain that make my life more interesting.
  • Great books.
  • All the great music in the world.
  • That I can blog and journal.
  • My sense of humour.
  • My imagination.
  • My brains.
  • My empathy and sensitivity, although it can also be a pain sometimes, just like the imagination.
  • My anti-anxiety medication.
  • Warm, relaxing baths.
  • My fabulous B&O headphones.
  • That I was able to learn how to use the iPhone.
  • My additional Bluetooth keyboard that I use with my iPhone when i can’t use my Braille-Sense.
  • My gem stones.
  • All the caring people in the world in general.
  • And all the people in the world who are able to think critically and independently.
  • That I haven’t vomited in over 10 years (for those who don’t know I am emetophobic which means I’m scared of anything to do with vomit).
  • That I don’t have any neurodegenerative disease and my brain is working well.
  • My relationships with the purgatory souls that I pray for, and the help from them that I experience.
  • That I’ve been doing quite well mentally lately (in no small part due to the aforementioned peak).
  • BitLife, and that today I won almost three million pounds in jackpot in BitLife and found a 10-carat diamond in my BitLife attic (which is a heirloom) so now I’m living the dream. 😀 That just shows BitLife isn’t really a real life simulator, but oh well. The first time I inherited an heirloom worth over a million dollars out of nowhere (it surely weren’t my BitLife parents who owned it 😀 ) and told my Mum about it, she said we should move there permanently.
  •    That I’ve got lots of Toffifee for my birthday.
  • That my cousin is considering the name Jacek for the baby she’s expecting (thanks to ME, of course! 😀 ) I somehow doubt they’ll actually use it, but I can hope, right?

That’s all I could come up with, hopefully I didn’t forget anyone or anything important.

What would your list look like? Let me know, or write your own post if you feel like it, and pingback to my post or comment with the link so I can read it! 🙂

 

Question of the day.

What’s on your bucket/to do list? What’s stopping you from doing it? 🙂

My answer:

I don’t really have an actual bucket list as such, I hardly ever even do to do lists, I just don’t have the habit I guess. You could say though that learning all my favourite languages is on my bucket list. Is anything stopping me from it? Well I’m already doing it, it just takes time so for now what’s stopping me from learning more of them is that I’m still working on my Welsh and still definitely don’t feel like I can move on to something new, because I don’t feel comfortable with it yet.

How is it with you? 🙂

Question of the day.

If you could gain perfect fluency in any language instantly, but only one language, which would you choose?

My answer:

Oh my, this one’s so hard! I’d like to be perfectly fluent in ALL my languages, as quickly as only possible. But… one language… I think I’m going to go with the most difficult one out of the ones I want to learn, which I guess would be Sami, especially considering the small amount of speakers and even smaller of resources. If I could be fluent in any of the Sami languages (preferably Luleå Sami but any will do) that would be very helpful.

You? 🙂

Question of the day (22nd September).

Did you ever study a foreign language by yourself?

My answer:

Sure, I think that’s the best way of learning a language if only you can manage to do it this way because no one knows what works for you quite as well as you do, and no one knows as well as you do what things you enjoy so only you can make your language learning thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve been learning English by myself since I left the blind boarding school when I started hanging around the Anglophone Interwebs and realised what I was already beginning to think years earlier, that school, any school really (at least I haven’t encountered a school over here that would be really good with languages unless it specialises in it but even then it’s no guarantee) isn’t going to teach me a language, and if I want to communicate in English and understand people I’d have to do it by myself. What school had done so far was it only managed to discourage me in some way, but thankfully more from English as a subject, which I found infinitely boring, rather than English as a language, but it was very close to it as well. I was pretty good at English at school most of the time and that was part of why I disliked the subject, that a lot of the time I had little to no constructive stuff to do in class.

Sometimes I feel like a kind of jerk when I say that I’ve taught myself English, first because I was going to school for so many years so surely it must have had some impact, and also I don’t really feel and never did like I put a whole lot of effort into my English learning, like most people do when they teach themselves anything. And yes, I did get the beginnings from school, as I wrote in the last post, I’m absolutely sure it all wouldn’t go as smoothly as it did if I had to start from scratch completely on my own. And I am extremely grateful for the bits and pieces that school did give me. But with what I got from school, while I had very good grades at English and could have a very basic conversation with someone with a lot of good will on both sides, I wasn’t really able to communicate effectively nor comprehend English very well either when reading or listening. I also don’t think it’s something fully due to my own merrit that I’ve managed to learn English to the extend that I did and as smoothly and easily as I did. I don’t believe in a “linguistic talent” because if it was the matter of talent we would have much more mute people or people with all sorts of language/speech disorders than we do, we also wouldn’t have had as much migration because people wouldn’t be able to learn another country’s language. But there are certainly some traits that people may or may not have that may make it easier to absorb languages, like a talent for catching the phonetics which I seem to have. And I think that has simplified the whole thing for me a whole lot, I also like learning languages and if someone does not, it’s typically going to take more time.

But even if I do have some particular language skills, I still feel like my English learning was kind of miraculous and insanely speedy given how little conscious effort I put into it. I immersed myself a lot into English, listening to different accents and just a lot of stuff in English and wanted to learn to distinguish different accents better than I could, and possibly also imitate them. I read a lot in English on the web so that it quickly became my habit that if I was googling something I did it automatically in English rather than Polish and still do. – I changed the interfaces of the devices/apps I used to English. I wrote my journal at least partly in English. Later I started penpalling which was at first very strenuous indeed for me to understand people and write in a comprehensive way, writing to a pen pal would take me ages but after that my brain would be buzzing in English for the next 24 hours so it was clear that it was doing me a lot of good, and over time, not very much time at all, it became less of a chore and much more of a pleasure and I think it’s penpalling and blogging that has been helping me the most. Then when I was already able to communicate quite well I also started this blog which had been my dream for years. Later yet, I started to read some books in English when I got access to them, and nowadays, I think the amounts of books I read in Polish and English are quite equal, and it has also been a very smooth transition, although it still requires more concentration from me to read books in English, but not the point where it would be uncomfortable or something.

While in my final year of college/high school I had briefly English classes with a private tutor, I thought it could be more helpful to show me what exactly my level is and what I have still to do, or at least help me to prepare for my finals. It did only one good thing for me. My teacher was super chatty and we talked a lot, so my conversational skills have improved. That was good as generally my daily, serious use of English evolves around writing, reading and listening (by “serious” I mean excluding talking to myself and conversating with Misha). I was already good with accents and such but nevertheless not particularly confident in speaking, and talking to him helped me to feel more at ease with it, at least in terms of language skills, as of course there’s also the whole socialising and peopling stress involved which is a totally different thing and can also affect things no matter in which language. Thanks to this, he certainly helped me to prepare for my oral English final exam as well. But other than that, it didn’t really take me anywhere further than I was and my general English level didn’t change because of it. So yeah, I think with English, I learned the most by myself. It’s been about six years since I left the boarding school and thus since I seriously started to learn English on my own, and I’ve learnt more in these 5 years than I did during English classes.

I am also currently learning Swedish by myself, although I started out with a tutor and, unlike school and the English tutor, he did a whole lot for me and I’m sure that if I didn’t meet someone like him, I wouldn’t be able to learn Swedish nor any language on my own now. He worked with me for two years first since I was 10, then we had a long break when I had to go back to the blind school as the integration school didn’t work out and that meant there was no way for us to meet up really. I avoided even the slightest contact with or any mention of Swedish as fire while at the boarding school because I felt like if I couldn’t learn it anymore it was pointless to think of it and it only made me feel extremely depressed, frustrated and angry. I forgot most of what I learned at least on a conscious level. But then I got the faza on Cornelis Vreeswijk when I was 17 and I couldn’t hold it in any longer. The more my faza developed, the more I felt almost literally how all the stuff I forgot was flooding my brain again, and I kept accidentally learning new, sophisticated words from his lyrics and poems, then I even managed to translate totally spontaneously a few of his poems with the little Swedish I had and these translations were really quite damn good as for my generally very poor Swedish skills by then. As it happened, the year I got that faza also turned out to be my last year at the boarding school, and in the autumn of that year I reconnected with my Swedish teacher. During our first lesson, he asked me to just say a few sentences in Swedish, whatever I was able to say, and neither of us was expecting much but I was actually able to express myself fairly coherently. He was very surprised and at first thought that I was learning by myself at school somehow or managed to find another tutor there after all, but then I told him that I was only kind of learning since about May but not really in a very serious way, and he said my brain must have somehow skipped over the most basic stages in no time because I actually knew more than what we’d covered in the past when I was in the integration school. That was weird, but that’s fazas for you, make your brain do strangely intense things without feeling like you’re doing much at all. 😀 I loved it and I kept skipping like that for a while yet.

But, skipping or no skipping, I certainly wouldn’t be able to be where I am with my Swedish and with other languages where I am now if he wouldn’t take up the challenge and try to teach me even though he had no idea about teaching blind people and even though back then when we were starting I didn’t even have an idea about any technologies or stuff so it all was really complicated. Most language teachers I’ve encountered are much more of scaredy cats. I just wouldn’t have the confidence that I am actually able to do it.

Now I’m no longer having lessons with him since a few years and I can learn Swedish on my own. With the help of emails from my Swedish pen pals, the Swedish Internet, some Swedish books, mostly children’s, that I can get, and loads and loads and loads of listening. That trip to Stockholm I once went for has also tremendously helped me, as well as my friendship with Jacek from Helsinki and meeting different people through him. I get very little practice in form of writing or speaking these days and somehow can’t figure out how best to change it, at least in terms of writing where it is more doable, in a way that would feel good and not like a chore, which makes me feel that my Swedish is kind of clunky and that it could be better, and I somehow feel like it has regressed a little bit since when my English has started improving so rapidly but I am definitely able to communicate with people and understand everything I read or hear unless it’s extremely sophisticated or someone speaks very fast with an accent that I don’t really get, like Scanian for example. 😀

And now I’m also learning Welsh by myself as there’s no other option, as for many of my other languages. I’d actually like it if there was someone in my area who could teach me so I wouldn’t have to think about resources and stuff but it could be just as effective as all of my English classes in the past so perhaps it’s better that I’m dealing with it oon my own. The biggest problem is that there aren’t overly many resources but since I’ve found a website for Welsh learners with a lot of courses and stuff it’s become much easier and structured for me and I don’t have to constantly be on the look out for new things in case I run out of the resources I have now or they stop being helpful. It’s also fairly accessible. Listening is definitely my main way of learning Welsh as it’s kind of a priority in my courses, I’m terribly slow at reading and my vocab could be better but at least with the latter I’m sure I’ll get there in time. I’d also really really like to be better at listening as my brain is kind of sluggish when processing auditory input in Welsh haha. So far, despite I’ve had a Welsh faza, I haven’t had such a speedy jumping like with ENglish and Swedish, with Welsh it would be even better because it’s more difficult, and I’ve actually found learning it much more strenuous than the other two languages, but no less exciting.

And with all of my other languages, I think I’ll also be learning them by myself.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day (21st September).

Did you have foreign language classes in your school?

My answer:

I had English classes from the beginning of primary until the end of my formal education, and German kind of on and off since fourth grade in primary until the end of secondary. But I don’t feel like the classes gave me much beyond teaching me the very beginnings of English which could perhaps be hard if I didn’t have them at school.

How was it with you? If you did have language classes, do you feel like you actually benefitted from them in any way? Or maybe quite the opposite? 🙂

Question of the day (20 September).

What other languages do you speak, if any?

My answer:

This is another thing that I’m sure a lot of you know about me as I write about it a lot and my languages are an important part of my life. But if you don’t, or doon’t remember, so far, other than my native language and obviously English, I can also speak Swedish, I’d say on an upper intermediate or advanced level or thereabouts, and Welsh, which I think would classify as lower intermediate. I also used to learn German at school but my actual knowledge of this language these days is very poor and most of it that I know is by similarity of the words with other languages that I know.

How about you? 🙂