Writing project: index

This is a post to list the words I’ve used for this project. It will be updated monthly.

2018

2019

2020

2021

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 2 Jan 2022

What have I read this week?

Death by Water and Murder in the Dark and Murder on a Midsummer Night and Dead Man’s Chest and Unnatural Habits and Murder and Mendelssohn and A Question of Death: an Illustrated Phryne Fisher Treasury by Kerry Greenwood

These are books 15 to 20 of the Phryne Fisher series and a collection of short stories about the character. I quite liked these, more so the plots than the characters. I might read more by this author.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

This is a science fiction novel about Sibling Dex, a person who feels unfulfilled in their work and decides to do tea service. I really enjoyed this; Dex is a fascinating and relatable character and I really enjoyed the world this is set in. I will definitely read more by this author.

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers

This is a science fiction novel, the last in the Wayfarers series. It is about sentients from four different species who are trapped together by an unexpected disaster. I really enjoyed this, just as I enjoyed the rest of the series. The characters are all very different, and quite alien, and the world is really interesting. I will definitely read more by this author.

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

This is a science fiction novel about four astronauts on a mission to explore possible life-bearing planets. I enjoyed this a lot. The worlds they explore are really interesting, and the characters are interesting. I will definitely read more by this author.

© bardofupton 2022

2022

Another year over. That’s all I’m saying about it.

So what happened on the blog? I posted some stuff, mostly the reading and writing projects, often late because this year has not been an organised year for me. Not a lot of other stuff posted, apart from a sudden flurry of stuff in December, where I ended up finishing some posts I’d started last year or the year before. I also managed two poems and one more instalment of Inkwarriors.

My aims for this year: continue with the reading and writing projects, and hopefully write some more poetry and a bit more of Inkwarriors.

© bardofupton 2022

Writing project, December 2021

This month’s word is snow, meaning “a precipitation in the form of ice crystals, mainly of intricately branched, hexagonal form and often agglomerated into snowflakes, formed directly from the freezing of the water vapor in the air”, “these flakes as forming a layer on the ground or other surface”, “to send down snow; fall as snow” or “to descend like snow”.

————–

I never thought I’d see snow, living in the tropics as I do. And yet, here I am, watching fat white flakes drift down from the sky. The sun is blazing away, the temperature must be nearly 40°C, and yet. Snow. It doesn’t settle, of course, melting the instant it touches anything.

But still, snow. Magical, beautiful, bizarre.

I take picture after picture, snow falling around the palm trees, snow blowing past the hibiscus, snow falling through a grove of bamboo. Snow drifting over a very confused hummingbird and some very outraged flamingos, a dog shaking snow from its coat. Without proof even I won’t believe this tomorrow.

I’ve no idea how or why this is happening, and I don’t wish to ruin the mystery of it all by finding out. So I switch my phone off and just watch, reaching a hand out from under the verandah’s roof from time to time to feel the tiny bite of cold as flakes brush my palm.

I step out into the snow, feeling it fall on my arms, my bare legs, my upturned face, feeling the transition from cold to wet as it melts on impact. I laugh, watching snow drift past me.

A miracle, a little, silly, amazing miracle, and I get to see it.

I know I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.

© bardofupton 2021

Being diagnosed with autism as an adult

CN: cancer, autism

(So I was expecting this to be my first autism post, a more thoughtful kind of post, as opposed to my angry rant, but it’s taken me over a year to finish this, so, angry rant it is, then!)

I was diagnosed almost two years ago, at the age of 45. Why bother?, you might ask.

I’d been wondering for a while, a long while, years, in fact, if I was (maybe, maybe) autistic, or ADHD, or neurodivergent in some way. I haunted blogs, and read articles, and did online assessments, but I was never quite sure. Some things resonated, for sure, but I kept finding reasons why I wasn’t really autistic.

I didn’t stim, for example, except that one day I realised that I do; I just didn’t think of it that way. It’s not the classic rocking or hand-flapping, it’s twiddling my hair, tapping on things, twisting my fingers together. Humming. Clicking my tongue. Popping sounds.

I do get sarcasm, and jokes. Sometimes. Other times I think people are serious, and I get confused. I make jokes, but lots of people don’t get them, so again, confusion. I think one of the reasons it took me so long to recognise this is that my family mostly do get my jokes and sarcasm, and I get theirs, so it took me a long while to realise that this was less the case for those outside my family.

I do have an imagination: it’s not visual, true, but I write, and I draw and I paint (badly, but still), and I take photos and I used to make videos, but I kept being told that autistic people had no imagination. Even the person who diagnosed me told me this. I will admit that as a child I would usually play the same game/scenario with my toys if I was playing alone, so yeah, I’d agree that my imaginative play is perhaps limited, but not that I lack imagination.

And I will happily eat the same food for weeks, months, at a time. Listen to the same songs on repeat. I love routine, I just didn’t have all that much of it as a child, so I managed without it, just about, or rather I made my routine where I could. I’m happier with it, though.

Once again, and like with so many things in my life, it was my cancer that helped push me to get a diagnosis. My life is basically divided into before cancer, and after.

Before cancer, I kind of coped, more or less. I wasn’t good with people, but I had friends. Or rather, I’m not good at meeting people, and I have no idea how to go from “hi” to “wanna keep in touch?”. So mostly I have friends because other people have liked me enough to ask for my contact details. But once someone is my friend, I am okay at communicating with them, and I do genuinely like many people.

I masked, a lot. I think I’ve been masking my whole life. To the extent that I’m not sure what’s me, and what’s masking. That was compounded by being AFAB and socialised as female, so I was being taught to act in particular ways anyway, praised for being quiet and polite and not taking up space.

After cancer, well. Cancer was a wall that I hit, and nothing was the same afterwards. Which has overall been a good thing for me. I would probably not have pursued transition, or my autism diagnosis, without the cancer experience, which essentially boiled down to “life is short, why live in a way that makes you unhappy?”.

It’s been interesting since the diagnosis. I had some imposter syndrome to begin with, which was just weird. A lot of “am I autistic enough? Am I really autistic?” going on in my head. Since then, it’s been a gradual process of trying to figure out which things are my autism, and how it’s impacted me.

There’s been a lot of “oh, so now I understand that thing I do”, or “so that’s why this thing makes me feel weird”. It’s definitely been helpful, to look back over things and understand myself better. And it’s really helped to realise that I’m not the only one that does or feels or experiences a particular thing.

I’m following a lot of autistic content creators on social media, joined several groups for neurodivergent people, and it’s all been so helpful. Such a relief to know that I’m not the only one. A bit like when I realised I was bi/non-binary/ace etc and found a group of people just like me.

And getting a diagnosis was definitely worth doing for me. I have a better idea of who I am, of my strengths and weaknesses, and which things I can and can’t change, what accomodations I might need. The only thing I wish I could change is I would do it sooner.

It feels good to be able to say I’m autistic, to know there’s a reason why I struggle with the things I do, why I can’t do things that seem to come easily to others. It feels like when you shift the angle of an object in the sun, and suddenly parts of it are illuminated in a way they weren’t before: there’s nothing new there, but now you can see it better, differently.

And yes, maybe I could have just stuck with self-diagnosis, but truthfully, for me, that wasn’t enough. I would never have really felt able to claim autism (which is a me thing, I have no issues with other people self-diagnosing). That was a stage I needed to go through to give me enough confidence to go for an official diagnosis, but I personally needed more than that.

It’s part of my need for order, I think: I needed someone else to say it, for it to be real.

So here I am, #ActuallyAutistic. And still learning what that means.

© bardofupton 2021

Reading project, week ending 26 Dec 2021

What have I read this week?

Urn Burial and Raisins and Almonds and Death Before Wicket and Away With The Fairies and Murder in Montparnasse and The Castlemaine Murders and Queen of the Flowers by Kerry Greenwood

These are books 8 to 14 in the Phryne Fisher series. I enjoyed these, although I probably like the plots more than the characters. I will probably read more of these.

Travelling Light by Tove Jansson

This is a collection of short stories for adults. I found them interesting, but they weren’t what I was expecting at all. I would probably read more by this author.

© bardofupton 2021

Reading project, week ending 19 Dec 2021

What have I read this week?

Cocaine Blues and Flying Too High and Murder on the Ballarat Train and Death at Victoria Dock and The Green Mill Murders and Blood and Circuses and Ruddy Gore by Kerry Greenwood

These are the first seven books in the Phryne Fisher mystery novel series, about the eponymous young and wealthy woman who becomes a private investigator in 1920s Melbourne. I quite enjoyed these; they’re a fun read and I’ll probably read the rest of the series.

© bardofupton 2021

aphantasic love (poem)

I wrote this one a while back but for whatever reason didn’t publish it.

—————-

when you’re gone
i can’t see your face
but
when i hear your voice
it makes my heart lift
and when you enter the room
sometimes i forget to breathe
and the smell of you
your weight against me
the feel of you in my arms
means home
but
when you’re gone
i can’t see your face

© bardofupton 2021

Before and after

CN: cancer

Another cancer patient once asked me if I was grateful I’d gotten cancer. The answer is definitely no, but. There’s that but, that’s the problem.

There are lots of ways I could divide my life: pre and post moving to the UK, for example. Pre and post various traumas. Pre and post disability. Pre and post coming out. But cancer definitely changed my life in a sudden and obvious way, and so that’s how I divide my life these days: before I had cancer, and since.

I’ve written before about how getting cancer changed my outlook on life. I’m now almost five years out from finding my lump, and my life is very different to how it was before.

Different in good ways, and in bad.

The bad is mostly health-related: my chemo fatigue never went away, and all my other conditions got a little bit worse post-chemo.

The good is a lot of things: new friends, closer family relationships, partway through transitioning, working out the rest of my identities. Getting my autism diagnosis. Regular-ish blogging/writing, even. I’m getting better at setting boundaries, at knowing my limits. I feel more me than I think I ever have.

I’d never say I was glad I got cancer, but there have definitely been some positives that have come out of that whole experience. Would I have preferred to have had the positives without the cancer? Obviously, but it is what it is, and getting cancer definitely gave me the push I needed to take steps to improve my life.

So, to answer the question at the top, I’m not grateful for the cancer, but I acknowledge there were some beneficial effects. I just wish I could have had the personal epiphanies without the cancer.

© bardofupton 2021