If We Were Having Coffee… #WeekendCoffeeShare.

We haven’t had a

Weekend Coffee Share

in a while, so I thought we could have one today, ’cause I have a couple things to share with you all, and I want to hear how you’ve been doing, too. 🙂 So if you feel like having a cuppa, or something yummy to eat, come along and join me, and I’ll be super happy to have you here! 🙂

Grab a cup of your favourite coffee (we only have black, whole bean coffee in here right now, which I personally think is the best, but if you’d like something fancier you can bring it with yourself). I can also offer you some tea (we do have plenty of these), or cocoa, or some orange juice, or kefir if you like it or want to find out what it’s like, or plain tap water, or you can bring some other drink that you like. I don’t have much interesting stuff where food is involved, if you’re properly hungry and are a meat eater there’s a fair bit of meat left because we didn’t manage to eat everything for lunch, or I can make you a sandwich, but otherwise I suggest you bring something yourself if you’d like a snack with your coffee or something. Yeah I know, bad Bibiel, what sort of coffee share it is without providing your guests with snacks, and a proper variety of coffees. Will try to prepare myself better next time. 😀

 

So if you’re sitting comfortably and have something to munch and/or sip on, let’s get into it. 🙂

If we were having coffee, I’d ask each of you how you’re doing…?

If we were having coffee, I’d start with the mundane topic of weather and share what it’s been like here this week. Because it’s been quite warm, if not hot, for late summer, at least here. It’s a common thing that late August is all gloomy and rainy, and then the first few days of September it gets maliciously hot so that poor kids who are starting school are melting indoors and want to go out and play but can’t cus they have to do some goddam fractions or whatever else they have to do, but after these few days it usually gets a fair bit colder and stays this way. Well, not this year. This year, the first week of September was very very windy and rainy and quite chilly, whereas this week it was as high as 27 C on Tuesday. It felt a lot fresher outside though than the temps would suggest and was just nice and summery. Then yesterday we got pretty bad rain and storms, and today it’s cooler but still very sunny.

If we were having coffee, I’dfill you in on

the Sofi situation.

In the post above I wrote how Sofi is suspected by her new GP to possibly have Marfan syndrome and that she’s gonna have genetic testing in February. In the meantime, my Mum had been ruminating about it quite a lot, which is not her normal, but she’s now feeling a lot better about it as it seems. Like, whatever will be, will be. The good thing is that Sofi doesn’t have, to our knowledge, any major complications that can arise from this condition, so even if she ends up being diagnosed with it, I personally figure that we should feel lucky that despite this diagnosis, she’s been doing this well so far. Mum agrees with me, and Sofi herself doesn’t think much of it. What had been particularly bothering my Mum, and still does, to an extend, is Sofi’s height, as she’s already like 180 cm and shows no signs of wanting to stop growing any time soon. I mean, maybe she herself wants, but her hormones or whatever is in charge does not. Since the genetic testing is still to come and we still have to wait quite a while, there’s no other news strictly where it comes to Marfan’s, but, as you may remember, all the worry related to that also made my Mum worry that Sofi could have polycystic ovaries and that that may be the reason behind her still growing and still not menstruating. So she had her first gynaecologist’s appointment about a month ago or so, and, while she was extremely anxious before that, it all went well and there were no bad news, everything is perfectly fine with Sofiwhere gynaecology is concerned.

If we were having coffee, speaking of Sofi (wow, what a cool rhyme lol, and yes, in case you’re wondering, this Sofi is pronounced like coffee with an S, not like Sophie because that’s how most Polish people say Sophie), I’d also tell you that recently she got vaccinated. Not for Covid, but for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (these sound really weird in English :O ). She got the vaccine on Thursday, then started having some arm pain in the evening. The next day her arm hurt even more but she still went to school as normal, but when she came back she was feeling horrid. She had a headache, sore throat, achy muscles, couldn’t breathe normally and was very tired and weak and had a bit of a cough. She was supposed to go have her nails done after school, which she did, but as soon as she came back she just went to bed, so it all felt kind of concerning given that she’s normally very strong and healthy. But I guess that could be the exact reason why she reacted to this vaccine so fiercely. She didn’t get up for the rest of the day and by the evening she seemed like she had some fever and it got quite creepy because not only did she have muscle aches but her skin seemed extremely sensitive to touch pretty much all over her and she couldn’t even change position easily ’cause she said it hurt so badly. My Mum claims though that as long as you’re hungry while sick, things are looking good, and by late evening Sofi got a wild craving for fast food so I got her some. When I was a kid I also got wild and very specific food cravings whenever I had fever, and especially at night, so it either must be a common thing that I didn’t realise or it’s genetic for us. 😀 On Saturday things were a little bit better and Sofi really wanted to go pick mushrooms with Mum, so she did, but she was quite drained by the time she came back and spent the rest of the day in bed. So has been the case today, and she’s also got a stuffed nose. Mum doesn’t really know what to do, since these appear to be vaccine side effects so it seems counterproductive to her to give Sofi some medicines because she thinks her body needs to deal with all this on her own. If things won’t get better until tomorrow, which it doesn’t seem like they will, Mum will take her to the doctor.

If we were having coffee, I’d share with you something about which I already wrote a couple times here, but not much and only in passing. This is not like a huge news or anything breakthrough, but I think it’s worth noting in its own place. This something is that I’ve kinda sorta started learning Norwegian, I guess it was some time in July. I think I’ve written at least one coffee share since but I still had too much turmoil in my brain surrounding it so didn’t feel able to write anything constructive. Perhaps you remember that, as long as my favourite languages list is, and despite it features languages like Swedish, Faroese or Sami, Norwegian had never been on it. And I’m still not sure whether it is now. But for some reason I’ve been feeling more drawn to it lately, and also want to have a closer look at how it works, so that I have some more idea about it other than simply through my Swedish. I don’t know why I’d need it because I could already understand a fair bit of (especially written) bokmål Norwegian (there are two written Norwegian languages – bokmål which is like more classic and nynorsk which is more modern and rural) via Swedish, but that’s what’s happening right now. I started to realise my feelings for Norwegian were deepening in late June, around the time when we were on our camper trip in Masuria, and Sofi and me rode in the back of the camper, on the bed, where if the roads were bumpy, it made us jump up high to the ceiling, so when people ask me “why oh WHY Norwegian? Have you got a faza or did something specific happen involving this language that made you love it out of the blue?” I say perhaps because I got a brain injury from all the close encounters between my skull and the ceiling on the trip, ’cause I really have no better ideas. I mean, I could tell you now, at the point where I am currently, that I like Norwegian for its extreme diversity, like, it’s one language, but it’s two languages, and in practice, as some say, there are more dialects than people there. 😀 This definitely contributes to me liking it now. But I only got to experience this phenomenon first-hand after I got into it. And my feelings started to deepen before I decided to go with the flow and get into it and try to learn it. And it wasn’t like these feelings came and I embraced them right away, far from it. At the beginning it was freakishly intense and I didn’t know what was going on and I was really reluctant to do it, actually. I mean, I’m learning Welsh right now, it’s my first Celtic language and it’s more difficult than any language I’ve learned before, have still like a dozen or so languages that I want to learn in the future, Sofi says I should be treated for that ’cause something’s wrong with me, so I seriously can’t afford another language, someone save me or it’s gonna kill me! In the end though, I just had no willpower left to resist my brain any longer and got pulled into it properly. It felt like I had no choice but make room for Norwegian in my life.

The situation isn’t as bad as I feared, since I already know English and Swedish so there’s a whole lot of similarities between Swedish and Norwegian, they’re generally mutually intelligible, and Norwegian and English also share some common ancestry being both Germanic languages. That means it doesn’t really feel like I am learning a completely new language. More like a complicated dialect or something. It’s not like I have to learn everything in a sort of linear, structured way, starting from the very basics, because a lot of vocabulary I’m either completely familiar with or can figure out without much trouble, and a lot of grammar also already makes sense. Also, compared to Welsh, learning Norwegian is also way easier due to the wider availability of all sorts of materials. I’d long forgotten what sort of luxury it is to be able to learn a language via your mother tongue, and there are plenty of Polish immigrants in Norway, so plenty of Norwegian online courses, workbooks, whatever you want. Only problem is that a lot of the Polish material I’ve looked into isn’t of particularly good quality, like they teach a terribly unnatural accent if not plain wrong pronunciation (like you in Norwegian is du, where the u sound is pronounced like in the English word you, while I’ve found a Polish resource where they teach you that it’s pronounced with an oo sound, more like the German du. Except when you pronounce it like that in Norwegian it’s spelled do and it means the loo 😀 ) or only give you an idea about some stiff, official bokmål which might be a thing in writing but no one speaks like that. So I still tend to stick to the English stuff for the most part, and am also able to learn Norwegian in Norwegian itself, especially from written materials. So with a bit of effort on my part, I managed to make it work so that I can squeeze in both Welsh, which is still in the centre stage, and Norwegian, which I learn usually on weekends plus a lot of exposure in the meantime. It feels kind of weird to call it learning though, because for me language-learning is when your brain lets out steam and your brain muscles get all sore and pulsating, whereas here it’s rarely this intense. It’s still enjoyable though. I still wouldn’t say that I love Norwegian as much as I do all “my” languages, but I think if it won’t disappear as randomly as it appeared I’m probably going to get there and I do like it a lot. I mean, I’ve never disliked it, but now I like it more than ever, yet still don’t love like I do Swedish, Welsh & co. Like I said, I love the whole diversity in it and I’m loving more and more how it sounds. It’s so cheerful and childish compared to Swedish, and at the same time kind of more rugged than Swedish and less fluid, to me Swedish sounds more serious and sort of posher.

I don’t even know yet what I want to achieve with this whole Norwegian “learning” and where I want to go, what for etc. but maybe things will clear up. I guess it might come in handy when I’ll start with Sami. Maybe I’ll finally pluck up the courage to read all those Norwegian books my Mum bought me, thinking they were Swedish, including a grammar book from I guess the 50’s. :DBut overall, while I usually try to aim for as much fluency and familiiarity with a language as possible, at least for now I’m taking it very easy with Norwegian and don’t have any wild ambitions or anything, we’ll just see how it develops, I’m not in charge here anyway, my brain has taken over while I was on those Masuria holidays. Who knows, perhaps it’s just a short episode and I’ll soon be over it?

Now that I’m no more reluctant and have accepted the state of things and flowing along with it, I’m thinking that perhaps there’s something like destiny or whatever involved here, because I’ve had several people in my life who have told me in one way or another that I should learn Norwegian. My Swedish teacher started learning it at some point during the years he was teaching me and could go on and on and on about it and would often try to tempt me into it too saying stuff like that, actually, Norwegian is just like a little dialect of Swedish. It made me think what Norwegians would think of someone putting things this way and I thought it sounded quite diminishing. Like, I myself am half Kashubian, and while I don’t have a strong bond with the Kashubian language (I can barely understand it when someone speaks fluently) or culture, and also am far from supporting the separatistic notion that some Kashubians have, one of the reasons being that I personally identify as Polish far more than Kashubian, nevertheless it really irks me when people call Kashubian a dialect of Polish ’cause it’s just not a dialect. One day he devoted the entire lesson to introducing all sorts of Norwegian phrases and idioms to me that he wanted me to translate to prove to me how Norwegian is very easy when you speak English and Swedish. Sure, but at that point I just didn’t feel it, and if I don’t feel a language there’s no point in trying to convince me. It’s as if you tried to make someone be friends with or date someone else just because YOU think they’d make good friends or couple, while the individuals in question feel totally indifferent about each other. Now that I’m learning both languages, I totally agree that, while Norwegian as it is now certainly is not a dialect of Swedish, in many aspects it really seems like it could be. 😀

Then there was a classmate I had at the blind school, who didn’t know about my Scandinavian interests (which I was trying to suppress at the time because I temporarily wasn’t able to learn Swedish and it was a huge source of frustration to dwell on it or expose myself to Swedish in those circumstances) and for some weird reason he told me several times how in his mind he associates me with Norway, which I found rather hilarious. He didn’t know why either. Later my paternal cousins have come up with some weird theory I’ve no clue how, that we have some Norwegian ancestry. It’s always seemed doubtful to my Dad and my gran and me too, but in the past they would often say how I should rather learn Norwegian than Swedish ’cause we allegedly have some distant family connection to Norway.

And lastly there was my late friend Jacek from Helsinki, who shortly after we first met said that, as much as he praises my learning Swedish and considers it aesthetically superior over other Scandinavian languages, he felt that perhaps Norwegian would have been a better option for me, because of all them weird dialects and because they have two languages instead of one so I’d probably have more fun. All of these people would probably be happy now that it has come true, after all, lol.

I also have THREE uncles who all work in Norway (one full-time and two get sent there from time to time for some longer-ish periods) and one has told my family that apparently he’s learned to communicate in the language decently. He never said that to me, although we have talked about Norwegian vs Swedish several times, and he never talked Norwegian in front of me, but now I have to admit I’m looking forward to some bigger family gathering where all of these uncles of mine will be present so I can break the news to them and we can find out who can snakke (speak) better than Bibiel *evil laugh*. Or maybe I’m in for a surprise and any/all of them actually snakker better than Bibiel, which would be just as cool, they’ve certainly had more exposure than me and more potential opportunities to practice with people! 🙂

If we were having coffee, I’d mention that we’re having a bit of a national Catholic holiday today. This is because it’s the day of beatification of cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, the Primate of Poland. Beatification means that he is now known as blessed (which is like a step below canonisation when a person is proclaimed saint) and a primate is the archbishop of a country. Even due to his function alone, he was a very important and valued figure in the Polish Catholic church during his life and still is very much valued and respected due to his huge positive influence on the church and aspects like the so-called folk devotion to Mary, to name just one thing. Along with him, another person who was beatified was mother Elżbieta Róża Czacka who was the foundress of the religious order who leads the blind school I went to, and also the foundress of the school and everything around it as well. She was blind herself ever since she was 22, I believe, and is said to be the first person in Poland who has taken the problem of education of the blind seriously. This school is relatively well-known and quite a few people who have nothing or very little to do with the blind have heard about it somewhere and back in my school days they would ask my Mum whether I go to THAT school. I am talking about this because now that she and the whole blind centre and the order she founded have been talked a lot in the media and churches in the period leading up to the beatification, I’ve got quite a few people from my family and even beyond, asking me things like whether I’m happy that she’s gonna be beatified, and I found the amount of that and this specific phrasing of the question quite interesting so I thought I’d write a little bit about that and how I feel about it. Am I happy? Yes, I’m very happy! I feel tempted to throw an “obviously” in there, but since I’ve got this question so often perhaps it’s not so obvious for some reason. But I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t be happy. We definitely can’t complain about lack of representation of disabilities among saints but the more the merrier, and also I’ve got a feeling that blindness in general has gotten a little bit of spotlight in the Catholic church due to this, because they are telling her story everywhere now and obviously it’s impossible to tell her story without talking about blindness and the blind. Also while I can think of several blind saints, most of them have lived quite a long time ago and when reading about their lives there’s not much you can learn about their experience with blindness specifically, perhaps except for my dear patron saint bl. Margaret de Citta di Castello but she has also lived quite some time ago. So I think mother Elżbieta (or should I be saying Elizabeth in English now?… I never know if you should translate saints’/blesseds’ names or not, it seems so inconsistent) is going to be particularly relatable and close to the hearts of many blind people, and I think that sort of connection is important. I know many who have loved her long before she has been beatified, even if they were too young to know her or didn’t get a chance to meet her personally. I’ve heard of some blind people from that school who actually regard her as a sort of mother figure or something. And beyond that, whether it’s her or someone else, I think a beatification of someone new is generally a very happy event in itself for the Church as a community. My Mum also asked me whether I feel any sort of bond with her, which I think is a more interesting question. We’ve both had the same disability, so on this level I think there is some connection that I feel to her. Also, while personally I have very mixed feelings about both the school and my experience there, i feel grateful to her for the mere fact that she founded it, because the whole thing was extremely courageous of her, and that she devoted herself to the blind so much and on so many levels. One thing I’m extremely grateful to her for is that she adapted Braille to the Polish language. But I don’t feel much of an emotional bond with her like a lot of blind folks do. Or a very strong spiritual one. When I was at school, they’d talk a lot about her and I remember one person once suggested to me that if I struggle with homesickness and stuff like that, I could think of mother Elżbieta as my second mum or a mother figure or something, that some people have this sort of bond with her. I initially really tried and really wanted to, but somehow didn’t feel it. Then not much later I got truly sick of all that talking about it being our second home and stuff like that and I internally rebelled against it all, so there was no way I could think of her as my mum. When I was older, I read her writings and letters and several biographies and a couple memoirs involving her. She was incredibly wise and virtuous and strong-willed and in many aspects very extraordinary and fascinating, and while I didn’t see that at school because I had vastly different outlook on things and vastly different things on my mind, now I do admire her deep devotion to the Cross. Yet when I read her writings she doesn’t come across as someone whom I could truly feel close to. With all her admirable traits and all the great things she did, I think we just are too different for such a close bond to be possible. Or maybe I just have a somehow skewed perception of her despite all the stuff I read about her. And the mixed feelings I have about the school surely get in the way too, even though it doesn’t have to do with her directly. Like I said, the saint I do feel more of a connection to, and who also happens to have been blind and multiply disabled is bl. Margaret of Castello.

If we were having coffee, last, but not least, I’d share about a major purchase I recently made. I got myself an iPad, YAY! Now this is really a huge thing because not long ago I thought I wouldn’t be able to be able to use a smartphone, due to the touchscreen, and now I’m getting a second Apple device. This is because, actually, recently I had been considering a possibility of transitioning to a Mac from my Windows computer. Yeah, I’ve transitioned to a new computer over a year ago, but I’m sure Sofi would be more than keen to inherit this one from me, and also some of its parametres are well above what I need. I’ve recently got to hear a lot about how it looks in practice to use a Mac with VoiceOver (the built-in screen reader) and I was like, huh, this doesn’t sound quite as difficult as I thought. It sounds way more intuitive and non-geek-friendly than Windows. And I really have grown to like the way Apple does things ever since I’ve got my iPhone, while at the same time Windows irks me in more and more ways. Yet I’ve also heard about several blind people who have tried using Mac and it didn’t really work out too well, and because it’s not like I am incredibly tech savvy or anything, it felt risky, especially that Mac OS computers are not the cheapest in the world as everyone knows. So I was playing around with that idea for a long time until I figured that perhaps a cool golden mean would be getting an iPad, because I’ve heard of some blind users who just use an iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard as their primary device rather than a laptop or a computer, which they only use when something is just physically impossible to do on an iPad. Perhaps if I tried that, I would be able to say more decidedly in a couple of years how worth it and how risky for me getting a Mac is. And I guess in a year or two I’ll be able to apply for funding which you can get for an assistive device, and a computer counts as one. Since I don’t need anything more than a MacBook Air, perhaps the funding would even cover that if I’m lucky and counting right.

So in the end I got an iPad 8 and Apple says it should be here tomorrow and I’m really really curious and a little bit apprehensive. One thing I’m kind of afraid of not working out as well as I’d like is typing. I do a lot of writing, but while I have a Bluetooth keyboard for my iPhone as well as my Braille-Sense which works like a Braille Display and Bluetooth keyboard at once, I find writing on iPhone a pretty arduous experience, especially on the Braille-Sense which I prefer for longer writing because it’s easier and faster to review what I write. Except in the end it’s not because the cursor often flies around so it’s hard not to make mistakes, or in some apps it will randomly throw me out of the edit field after every few characters, or it will be very slow and freezy or otherwise buggy. Since iPad is essentially the same system, I’m not sure whether I can hope for much difference there. But it’s not like I am supposed to ditch the Windows computer and rely on the iPad for everything from tomorrow on. If, after a year or a few, I’ll come to the conclusion that I like the Apple ecosystem increasingly and the only thing that stops me from using iPad full-time is the typing, I might still get the Mac as I don’t think it has the same typing issues as iOS devices do.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee? 🙂

 

Question of the day.

What are three things you like that other people don’t like?

My answer:

I like liking things that other people don’t. One reason is because it feels kind of quirky, and since I’m quirky anyway it comes to me without even trying particularly hard. Another one is that I like and have a strong tendency to personalise things or even abstract concepts, so my mentality is like if no one likes them, they must be really sad. 😀 And since I am an (overly, as it seems) empathetic person, I feel a genuine need to compensate for that.

One such thing that I like but very few other people seem to do as well is the beautiful Dutch language. The funny thing is that I also used to consider it quite an unattractive language when I was younger, but everything changed as I started to listenn to Cornelis Vreeswijk when I was 17 and got a faza on him (he mostly sang and wrote his music and poems and everything in Swedish and lived there most of his life since he was 12 but he was born in the Netherlands and also had some sort of a career in his native country however much less impressive from what I understand and it’s like he’s sort of known in his country for being famous in Sweden). Fazas can change one’s perspective quite a bit, and while it took me quite a while to take a liking for this language, at some point it was just like something randomly switched in my brain and suddenly I was like “Awwww it’s actually such a really really beautiful language!” and my brain was all melting with delight as it tends to in such situations. It feels weird these days that I could ever have not liked it. I’m not one for the Romance languages and the like. One reason is that they’re “over-liked”, everyone wants to learn them and considers them beautiful. Aside from that, I often say, and have said on here as well, that I believe a language is similar to pasta in that it needs to be al dente. Swedish is a perfect example of that. Perhaps Dutch is a bit undercooked to be considered al dente, but that’s still way better than overcooked, I totally don’t mind the former and as a kid even used to eat dry pasta or noodles, but I can’t stand the texture when it’s overcooked, ewww! Like a dish, a language also needs to be spiced just right, and not be bland or wishy-washy. I usually don’t like things that are aesthetically, as my Mum calls it, “farting sweet”, or cloying, unless it’s genuinely cute. Dutch is really hot and I guess not everyone has high tolerance for spicy food so perhaps it’s the same with this language. Anyway, most Dutch natives I’ve talked to seemed very surprised whenever I mentioned that their language is on my list of languages that I want to learn and that I love. They’d usually find it difficult for some reason to understand why I’d want to do it, and many would admit that they actually don’t like the language themselves, and that they prefer English. 😀 I love English too, but it’s everywhere so it’s a bit boring, why limit myself like that? And some would even tell me how their language is actually quite difficult. I mean, I don’t speak it just yet, but I don’t really see how it would be extremely difficult for me, when I already know two Germanic languages (three if you include my kinda sorta making friends with Norwegian since about a month). Perhaps I’m overly confident here or not aware of something but it seems pretty straightforward and I find it very encouraging that I can already understand small bits of vocabulary with the languages I know, so it feels like one of the easiest languages on my list, if not THE easiest one. Some things about the sentence structure, like sticking the verb at the end of a sentence, is fairly odd to me, but I suppose it’s just a matter of enough exposure and practice until it will no longer feel odd. Swedish sentence structure in some more elaborate cases, especially where time is involved, is also different from the Polish (which is quite loose really or at least not permanently fixed) or English one and felt slightly intimidating to me at the beginning and difficult to understand, but, while I still do make mistakes with it, overall it feels completely natural that that’s how Swedish works because it’s Swedish, if that makes any sense to anyone other than me. Or it’s amusing what I sometimes hear Dutch language learners say, that they visit or move to a Dutch-speaking country to be able to practice their target language, but it often turns out impossible because as soon as people figure out they’re non-natives, they speak to them in English. 😀 Some of my Sweden experience was very similar, and it was kind of confusing because it made me feel like my Swedish must be really shitty if they find it easier to communicate with me in another language rather than their native one, even though I theoretically know it’s because people want to be helpful. Anyway, I myself am quite a patriot and love my own language and country so every time I’ve heard Dutch people being so underappreciative of their language, I honestly felt really shocked and also kind of sad, and that gave me just another reason for wanting to learn that language, to give it some love it totally deserves. I also love and plan to learn Frisian, which also gets some really interesting reactions sometimes. 😀

Another thing I love truly and deeply but everyone uninitiated seems to hate, or at best just not get my love for it, is kefir. I drink loads of it, so does Sofi, it’s very healthy and yumilicious and very refreshing, and is good for your guts so a perfect thing to drink if you’re emetophobic and happen to need to take antibiotics or something. It’s also okay for people who have lactose intolerance like my Mum. Obviously there is kefir and kefir though so you have to find the right one which has some better quality if it’s really important for you that it has the health benefits it’s supposed to have. Aside from water, I think this is the best drink when you’re properly thirsty. I rarely drink it on its own, unless I’m very thirsty and happen to crave kefir, but I drink it with most meals. I also used to get bad culture shock in my early days of penpalling when I’d mention kefir to my British pen pals and they’d be like: “Uh, and what is kefir?” I have an impression though that it’s become more popular over the last few years in regions where it hadn’t been previously known.

And another such thing are olives. I guess it’s not like everyone dislikes them but there seem to be two camps, people who love olives and people who dislike/hate olives and hardly anything in-between. I much prefer the black ones, but the green ones are okay too, certainly better than none. Olives weren’t a thing my family would eat when I was a kid, as we’re not very fancy with food really, and I remember the first time I ate them was on the train station in Warsaw when my Mum and me were waiting for a train to go home from my school. We were ravenously hungry so we bought one big Greek salad for us both, and that was how I discovered olives and immediately fell in love. Even though I have always loved them, I think I get why people wouldn’t, they really do have a very particular taste, and even I wouldn’t be able to eat a lot of olives without something that would complement the taste, it starts to feel weird pretty quickly. Since my Mum loves olives too, when she found out that so do I they became a regular ting in our house, even though everyone else here hates them. I also love capers, which seem to be even less popular with normal people.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day (17th August).

What should every person do at least once?

My answer:

I’d say learn a language, or at least try to and experience what it feels like. I think it’s a very enriching and interesting experience and it makes me feel sad that a lot of people miss out on it entirely, without even knowing whether they’d like it or not, either because they don’t have any real motivation for it or because they think they don’t have a “talent” for it, whatever that elusive talent thing may be. Also the brain benefits long-term are a huge advantage in my opinion. Not to mention that it can open various doors for you, like to an entirely different culture and mentality, help you meet some interesting people. Most of all though, the reason why I think everyone should try it is that every language you know gives you a different perspective on things, a slightly, or perhaps sometimes not so slightly, I guess depending how different from each other your languages are, way of thinking, since language plays a huge role in how we think about or perceive different things. I’d even go as far as to say that with each language you acquire, be it in early childhood or later on, a different layer or aspect is added to your personality in a way, that is absolutely congruent with the rest of your personality and doesn’t create any conflict or anything, because your languages exist peacefully beside each other and complement each other rather than compete in your brain or exist in some separate, distinct realms, but speaking and/or thinking in more than one language simply makes you more multi-dimensional or something like that, and it lets you think more flexibly and in more ways.

Only there’s a problem, because at the same time I firmly believe that you have to actually, truly like your target language to do it and be successful at it and experience all the benefits of language-learning. If you don’t like it, there’s no point whatsoever. You’re neither going to be good at it (unless you seriously have some brain superpowers or are extremely disciplined and strong-willed) nor are you going to experience anything good from such learning. So while in theory I think we would all benefit from it, I think in practice one would first have to find a language that one finds really appealing and has some true motivation for learning it, because otherwise it just won’t work. I feel so much for all the kids who have to learn a foreign language they don’t like at school, like Sofi says she really doesn’t like English, although with her I’m not sure whether she seriously doesn’t get along with English as a language, or started to dislike it due to school and being unsuccessful at it. I – and it’s not just me –
always say that there’s no such thing as a language talent, unless you’re talking stuff like learning a native accent, but I think for most people who are accused of not having a talent or say so about themselves, the real problem is that they don’t really have much love for the language they’re learning, so it’s hardly surprising they’re not making much progress at it, or if they do, it feels painful and/or slow. Since I like learning languages people usually consider me very talented, but when I was learning German at school, which is a language I merely like and not love the way I do all “my” languages, I was very mediocre at it. Or when my Mum once had a dream to learn Italian (which, like all Romance languages, doesn’t really appeal to me very much in terms of sound and also I guess too many people like it for it to be truly loveable for me), and asked me to help her somehow, I tried to learn the basics, thinking just like my Mum that I’m apparently so good at languages so it’ll be no problem for me to learn and teach her the very basic stuff, except the grammar didn’t really make much sense to me and it all felt extremely arduous so I gave up after like two weeks. 😀 I feel for people who have to learn a language for work-related purposes but don’t have more of a relationship with it so it only feels stressful and forced and no fun at all. I guess it must be like being forced into an arranged marriage as opposed to being with someone you actually love, or making friends with someone solely because you’re colleagues and it’s useful rather than because you have anything in common and you want it. But there are so many languages in the world that I think if we all just looked around, or rather listened intently, most of us could find at least one language that we’d really fall in love with.

What’s such a thing in your opinion? 🙂

Question of the day.

What was the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?

My answer:

Village School by Miss Read. I’d been wanting for the longest time to read something from this author, particularly Miss Clare Remembers and No Holly For Miss Quinn, which are two books in her Fairacre series which inspired Enya (one of my faza people) to compose two pieces of music with the same names. Just listening to those songs I always thought that if they have book equivalents, they must be great, and reading their synopses made me think they were right up my alley, but there was no Polish translation, or at least I couldn’t find any, and it’s fairly recently, some two years ago I guess, that I’ve seriously started reading English-language books of all sorts more regularly and casually, that is not solely for learning the language and new vocabulary. GoodReads must have also figured that it would be right up my alley, because recently I’ve found the first book from this series (the aforementioned Village School) in my recommendations on there, and since now I have access to different places where I can get English books and I read them regularly, I figured I really need to give this series a go now. It took me some time to get into it properly, but I really did enjoy this book and I felt really at home in it by the time I finished. It was really sweet and charming and I absolutely loved her way of describing characters, I love authors whose characters I can actually imagine and who seem life-like, her way of describing things in general is amazing, and I liked her sense of humour.

At more or less the same time I happened to learn that a guy I used to follow quite regularly some years ago, who teaches Swedish online and is a Swede himself and generally seems quite crazy about languages, has written a handbook for Swedish learners, called A Lagom Guide To Swedish. I figured I could really use some good Swedish offline resource that I wouldn’t need to scan or anything, so I bought the ebook right away. And while it’s a handbook, so generally not something you’d just read like from cover to cover, that was precisely what I ended up doing, in just a few sittings. 😀 I was quite curious how much of the things in this book I would have already known, so I started just skimming through it, but then got positively surprised that I actually know SO much of the stuff he covered in it, and even more surprised and happy whenever I came across something I didn’t know or realise, that I just didn’t want to put it aside. It really boosted my self-esteem in terms of Swedish, because ever since my English has leapt so much forward, I’ve been feeling less confident about my Swedish than I was before, even despite I managed with it quite well in Stockholm and I can get along with people just fine, I always have an impression that my Swedish, compared with my English, feels kind of clunky and it’s not as easy for me to express everything in it as it is in English, even though there was a time when my Swedish was waay better than my English. So I’m really glad I came across that book, even for this one reason. And it’ll definitely still be useful in different situations.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

What did your school teach you that turned out to be a complete lie?

My answer:

That you absolutely HAVE to pronounce the -ing endings in English with the standard English ng sound, or the velar nasal consonant linguistically speaking, as opposed to the way most Polish people with little practice in English pronunciation/accents tend to do.

When I was in my later years of primary and then early secondary, we had an English teacher who was generally quite demanding and also nitpicky in some respects and seemed to genuinely like creating the sort of image of a very stern and not particularly connected to her students teacher. Understandably, a lot of people who didn’t do very well at English were very stressed of having lessons with her, and even many who did well at English were still stressed. I did well at English for my class’ standards and didn’t like neither her nor English as a subject at all and found it extremely boring most of the time, yet I didn’t find it very stressful for some reason, guess because I generally didn’t overly care about grades. She had a habit of choosing a few people at the beginning of the lesson whom she would question from the previous material, and people usually dreaded it very much. One of the things she was particularly nitpicky for some reason were the -ings. Which would be absolutely okay with me as an accent freak (although I definitely didn’t have a normal English accent back then yet) if not the fact that it was very hypocritical, because she herself said them wrong half the time and lots of people noticed it and were annoyed about it, and generally looking back from my current perspective she didn’t seem to have the best accent. Neither did most of her students, thanks to this method, including, like I mentioned, myself. It was frustrating because, as is always the case in schools, there were children who learned slower than others, and still lacked some vocabulary or didn’t understand some grammar and she would also overwhelm them with such tiny details. Or on the other hand there were quite a lot of people who were good at English, especially in writing, but were shy when speaking because of stuff like this.

Years later I was learning English by myself, having a lot of fun with it, and immersing myself in a lot of different accents, discovering a lot of dialects, especially British ones, and their weird vocab etc. and trying to imitate all these accents and dialects and stuff and learn to tell one from another. And I grew quite fond of northern England accents, though frankly I love all of the British accents, when people ask me which one I love most I always say the one I’m currently hearing, because I can never decide. Yet I do prefer the northern ones slightly because they’re less ever-present and I like the rusticality I guess. 😀 And I started to notice that people from like York or Sheffield, I guess also some people in Manchester and Liverpool areas, would say their -ings “wrong”. The first couple times I figured I must have misheard it or something, you don’t say -ing like that, after all, but then I found it stated somewhere explicitly that people in the north of England do pronounce ing with the g. It IS different than the way Polish people typically do, because it’s still softer and more nasal, but still, it reminded me of that teacher and it made me laugh. I’m too used to saying my -ings “right” at this point, but I sometimes say it the northern way when I feel like it.

I personally pay A LOT of attention to things like accent in a language, because it’s freakishly interesting for me as someone whose native language has developed to be very universal across the country, and because at this point I can’t not pay the attention. But generally I agree with most of language teachers and mentors and learners and what not that accent isn’t the primary thing to be paid attention to when teaching/learning a language. Pronunciation and language melody and being understandable to natives as much as possible – yes – but purely accent not necessarily. I guess it seriously can affect the self-esteem and create a lot of mental blocks for people, who not only have to focus on a load of grammar rules (usually dryly memorised by heart because some people just like tormenting others and/or themselves like that), but also on the mini details like the -ings, and then when they actually get to talk to someone in their target language they can’t because they’re scared that the other person will laugh at them or kill them because they said one word wrong. Not to mention when we’re talking children. And especially when the teacher herself can’t show how to say something properly, so that people maybe don’t even realise how it should sound actually. From what I know, a lot of people, not just me, are a bit puzzled why foreign language classes aren’t taught in the target language altogether. I think that would make it way easier for students to learn to pronounce these -ings. As it is, a single individual hardly gets to say more than a handful of example sentences they’ve learnt from the textbook, and the majority of the lesson, all the real teacher-students interaction, happens in Polish, in most schools anyway. When people don’t talk or listen, but instead fill in the gaps in the book and memorise useless crap, how can they learn the fun stuff like accents, or whatever really? And, most of all, I wonder why it’s not solely native speakers who teach their native languages. They do have a different perspective than someone who’s just learning this language, for sure, and may not understand some mistakes they make due to their first language’s structure, but overall I think the upsides outweigh the downsides here. And then there are also some people who just don’t hear mini differences like that in a foreign language, like our Sofi.

How about your school? 🙂

Question of the day (17th June).

What is your biggest non-academic, non work-related accomplishment?

My answer:

Well, I think that would be my language learning achievements, especially when it comes to English and Welsh, as with Swedish I had a tutor for a long time so you could say it was kinda academic, but with English and Welsh I’ve been doing it mostly by myself. I did of course have English throughout my formal education, but, as I said many times before, I don’t feel like I learned anything more than just the basics this way, and anything else I wanted to achieve, I had to take care of myself, and only reached fluency in my last years of schooling when I had plenty of time to work on my English as I first had a year of individual education and then did schoolwork part-time and mostly from home. With Welsh, even though I don’t feel fluent yet at all, it feels like even more of an accomplishment because, even though I’m not fluent, I sort of doubted I could achieve even the level I’m at now, given the limited resources and their frequently limited accessibility and/or availability where I live.

You? 🙂

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? 🙂