Here it is – the post that should have been done approximately thirty-seven years ago.
The last few weeks have been challenging, to say the least. I would like to call it ‘character building’. From a cascade of mortality in and around my family, to the persistent snow drawing my very unprepared country to a halt (this is not a common occurrence in the UK, hence why we fail so epicly on the rare occasion that it does happen), it feels like every possible thing has dropped out of the sky to screw with my emotionally and physically.
I was going to write about these things. I was going to write about death, and grief, and panic attacks on train station platforms, and the overbearing sense of hopelessness that can sometimes grip hold of you. Normally that’s my first instinct when things happen that make me feel things. I want to crack open my brain and write it all down.
But then I opened the app and saw this half-finished blog. And I wanted to finish it. I needed to. More than I wanted to write about the crap. So here I am.
I was nominated for the Liebster Award by Alyssa over at Queerly Texan. I am ashamed to say that even though she has been one of the most loyal followers of my blog over the last few months, I haven’t spent nearly as much time returning the favour. And I’m glad that this award, designed as it was to encourage connections between bloggers, was there to make me get off my arse and have a closer look.
Alyssa has a really wonderful blog, with some great posts on life and everything in it. Whether it be chronicling her medical journey (something my family and I are hyper aware of, as we travel down our own frustrating paths), sharing thoughts on her life journey, or commenting from the heart on issues that we all note and feel, I’m so sorry that I didn’t follow her sooner.
Here are my answers to Alyssa’s questions:
- What is your favorite thing about the city/state/country you live in?
This is a very difficult one for me. I live in the United Kingdom – we have a long inglorious history of violent colonialism, and are currently shrouded in a veil of cruelly oppressive neo-liberalism. I spend a lot of my time criticising and protesting against my own country. This presents me with a dilemma in terms of identifying my favourite thing about it. But it also gives me my answer. My favourite thing about this country are the people who stand against the things our country has done. The Medieval peasants revolting against enclosure; the Luddites smashing the machinery that replaced their work; the people of London pushing back Nazis at Cable Street; the striking miners standing against the forces of Thatcherism; millions of people taking the streets to protest the war in Iraq; and the small group of activists who chained themselves to a chartered plane to prevent an inhumane and deadly deortation flight. With every awful thing committed in this country, there have been marginalised groups fighting against it. Even if they didn’t win, they wouldn’t go down without a fight. I hope that we can continue that legacy – looking at the current and next generation, I think we’ll succeed.
- How do you come up with ideas for new blog posts?
It depends. Some of the ideas have been carefully cultivated for weeks or even months beforehand – I made a list when I started of things I wanted to talk about at some point, and that list is nowhere near even halfway done. A good example of this would be my post on ‘functioning’ labels. But a large majority of the posts I make are based on things that happen to me – primarily thing in the news, on social media, or from my own interactions with the world that piss me off. If it gets in my brain and won’t leave, then I’ll try and write something about it. If there’s nothing much niggling in there, then I’ll consult my list and write about the things that jump out at me.
- What song means the most to you?
The first song to come to my mind is Since You’ve Been Gone by Rainbow. Not because the lyrics speak to my in any particular way (in fact, I’ve never really looked at the lyrics), but because this has been my favourite song since before I have any real other memories. There are videos of me bouncing along to it in my baby car seat, reciting the lyrics even though I really didn’t know the words that were coming out of my mouth. It’s something that I know, and it’s something that has always been there. It flicks on a switch on my brain. Nowadays, when I hear it, it just fills me with a warm, contented, familial feeling – I feel happy, I feel bouncy, and most of all, I feel safe.
- What was your favorite game to play as a child?
Anything make-believe. I had so many worlds in my brain that it’s difficult to single out just one. I could be a superhero one day, a Pokémon trainer the next, Scooby Doo’s sidekick over the weekend, and then a super-intelligent super-sassy part-dog-part-girl crime fighter by the time Monday rolled around again. When I was in the first few years of school, I would indulge in these imaginary scenarios with other children. As they grew up and drifted to other playground pursuits, I would continue to play – only this time I was alone and the games were played in my head. I absolutely lost myself in these imaginings , as they were often a more pleasant place than the real world unfolding around me. In my head, if something didn’t make sense, I could control it, I could change it and, most importantly, I could understand it.
- What is the nicest thing anyone has ever said about you?
My mum told me that I am the reason she came out as gay. I came out as bi when I was seventeen (or maybe sixteen…those years sort of blend together into a lovely confusing mess), and as I went through into my first year of university I became what you may call ‘obnoxiously out and proud’. It was the best way to survive as an insecure bi girl with very little self confidence. But, regardless of how superficial and desperate that pride may have been, my mum picked up on it in a big way. I was twenty when she came out to me and my brother at a local cafe. And she told me that my out-and-proudness was one of the key factors in both her journey to self discovery and her confidence in revealing it to the world. When I look at her now, happily out, proud and married to my stepmum, those words ring in my mind and reassure me that I did at least something good with my life.
Another one that I have to mention comes from a time when seventeen year old me was volunteering at a local hospice. I was in the first and perhaps most extreme stage of my ‘I don’t want to dress like other people, I want to dress like me’ mindset. I had short spiky hair, lots of jewellery, bright make up, and various other oddities. My job was to make dinner for the patients of an evening, and as I brought food to one very ill lady, she looked up at me, her eyes started to sparkle, and she smiled around the words ‘thank you for being so bright’. I still get emotional about that.
- What is a social justice cause you are passionate about?
Well, the main social justice causes I’m active in are the ones that relate most closely to my experience: autism, disability, LGBTQIA+ and feminism. But I’m also an ardent socialist and antifascist who believes the whole system is built on a platform that is deliberately unfair. I want to change that whole set up so that every marginalised and oppressed group has justice and equitable opportunity. It would probably be easier to come up with social justice cause that I’m not passionate about. I guess that’s something that comes with the way my lovely autistic brain works – if I see something that’s unfair, or sense an injustice, or even a whiff of inequity, then my brain immediately classifies it as no wrong bad stop. If it doesn’t make sense to me, then I can’t just sit back and accept it like I see my neurotypical friends and family doing. I have to try and change it. I have to try and make the world make sense.
- Who is your favorite person to be around? and why?
My dogs. Next question.
Okay, so, lets get some context on that. Not to in any way minimise how much I love being around my friends and family, but there’s something incredibly pure and simple about spending time with my dogs. They don’t lie, they don’t have an ulterior motive, they don’t care about my flaws or oddities, they love me so absolutely that they are always happy to just spend time with me. We can sit and just look after each other for hours. I love them so much (in case you hadn’t already realised that).
- Have you ever travelled abroad?
I have, but definitely not as much as I would have liked. I have been to St Maartens in the West Indies, Switzerland, Florida twice (yes, you guessed correctly, they were both Disney related holidays), and I’ve travelled across Canada as well. I’ve also been to France on several occasions (again, yes, that was Disney, how did you guess?) and have done various hops over the Channel on school trips. There may be (yet another) Disneyland Paris trip in the coming year (they are one of the best places I have been in terms of understanding accommodating autism), and my best friend and I are hoping to do a Big Nerdy US Road Trip (encompassing Universal Studios in Florida, Las Vegas, San Diego Comic Con, Disneyland Anaheim, and the D23 Expo) in 2020 (saving for this is going really well, and by ‘really well’ I mean ‘not very well at all’).
- What are you excited about this year?
Opportunity. Justice. More chances to make a difference. Helping Generation Z kick ass and save the world. Watching Black Panther, A Wrinkle In Time, Avengers: Infinity War, The Incredibles 2, Love, Simon and Pacific Rim Uprising. Writing more. Reading more. Learning more. Loving more. Speaking more. Star Wars: The Last Jedi coming out on DVD so I can watch it as many times as I want. Spending more time with friends. More queer, autistic, and queerly autistic voices fighting through. My Showchoir’s upcoming concert. Generally being more fabulous. Fascists getting punched. Loving myself. And the inevitable downfall of neoliberal capitalism.
- Would you ever want to be famous?
Part of me says that ‘yes, I would like to be famous’, if only so that I could have the influence and resources to have an impact on the world. I feel very small and insignificant sometimes, and to be able to have a slightly elevated reach in the world can sound like a dream come true. However, I’m also fairly certain that I wouldn’t be able to handle being famous. In my fevered imagination, my fame would come through my activism and my writing – and as strong as I want to believe that I am, I know that the kind of backlash and scrutiny that comes with being a queer disabled woman with an opinion (especially the vein of social justice opinions I have) is something I would struggle with. Would I still do it of it meant that I could make my mark on the world? The honest answer is, probably, absolutely yes.
- Neurodivergent Rebel
- Aspie Under Your Radar
- Autism and Expectations
- Dangerous Thoughts
- The Silent Wave
And here are the rules if you choose to accept the nomination:
• Write about it on your blog and thank the person who nominated you. Write about their blog too.
• Display the award on your blog.
• Nominate 5 or 10 blogs which you feel deserve it.
• Let the nominees know that you nominated them.
“Don’t forget to create 10 questions for them to answer. Notify your nominees and provide a link to your post so that they’ll know what to do.
And my questions!
- How are you feeling today?
- What gets you out of bed in the morning?
- Can you describe your blogging process?
- Favourite animal? Tell me, in detail, why they’re the best.
- What irritates you most in the world?
- What piece of media (film, TV, book) could you lose yourself in for hours?
- If you could go back ten years, what would you say to yourself?
- Does pineapple belong on pizza? Please explain why. (Can you tell I’m an English Literature graduate?)
- What would be your dream job?
- How are you feeling after answering all of these questions?