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Panoramic photograph of beach on Cumbrae, with the sun low in the sky to the right. The firm wet sand reflects the lightly-clouded blue sky. There is a prominent pebble in the foreground, and a row of houses on the other side of the bay.Small islands are on the horizon.
(Great) Cumbrae, as featured in a two-night holiday I had with my son last week

My blog is a little tired, so I hope to refresh it soon with better organisation, a new look (using WordPress’s Full Site Editing) and perhaps a more regular content schedule (but that’s probably just wishful thinking!). I’m also a little tired, so I’m coming back to the unpost format, to dump some fairly disorganised thoughts on you, dear reader.

The last thing I wrote in my drafts (apart from the posts you’ve actually seen) was this: Yes, it’s my vulva’s first birthday – although I suppose it was more of a metamorphosis than a birth, as my surgeon transformed the anatomy I had been cursed with into something that seems so right. But I realise I haven’t written anything about my experience. It’s something I want to do for the sake of my trans sisters and non-binary siblings who may be looking forward to their own vaginoplasty and are understandably anxious about what’s in store (with the caveat that everyone’s experience is unique).

I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to writing about that, though I have made some headway in having downloaded the archive of my alt Twitter account, now deleted – I could just turn that into a post at some point, but it would be rather long! Anyway, that was last March. My vulva’s second birthday, which I completely failed to notice, was 19 days ago. My poor, neglected vulva! I have had issues with maintaining my vaginal dilation routine: to cut a long story short, it hasn’t been happening for over a year, though I nearly restarted last month – my one-day streak was interrupted by me falling backwards off a wobble board into some shelves and probably fracturing my elbow.

Another thing I’ve never really written about is my journey to autistic discovery and eventual diagnosis, but that’s an idiosyncratic thing that feels less important as time goes on. And this year I added an ADHD diagnosis to that, along with medication which worked for a little (just before I fell off that wobble board) but may also have caused tachycardia and postural hypotension, so I’ve stopped some of that now, with the consequence that my brain is all over the place once more – and ironically I can write waffly blog posts like this one.

One thing I did last year, which I’d like to continue this year, but haven’t done yet – my brain doesn’t let me choose what to focus on – is a bit of song-writing. I wrote several songs based on lyrics by Edinburgh-based children’s author, illustrator, poet and musician Linda Sarah. Lyrics really aren’t my strong suit, though I did write some extra lyrics for the last song I worked on. Unfortunately, I had to keep that song to myself because Linda was uncomfortable with those particular words being used. Shortly after that, she blocked me on Twitter, which was extremely upsetting, and probably why I haven’t really done anything musically since then.

You can listen to my recent songs on SoundCloud.

All these things have been set against the ever-present background of a pandemic, catastrophic climate change, and now Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Thanks to the covid situation, I’ve just stopped singing in the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, as it’s much too stressful, and I’m considering doing the same with the Loud & Proud choir. I love making music with other people, so this isn’t something I’m very happy about at all.

While we still have some mask requirements in Scotland, I went away with my son for a couple of nights to Largs, on the west coast of Scotland, not too far from Glasgow. We packed in a lot, visiting Wemyss Bay, Cumbrae and Ardrossan, and had a really nice time, though it was very tiring, and I needed a couple of days to recover when I got home.

Railway signals at the National Museum of Scotland

The 4th of March was the second Weird Pride day, and I volunteered to do a 7-minute lightning talk, not realising how much bigger it had become since last year’s relatively low-key start. Rather than talk about weirdness, I decided to express another aspect of my own weirdness by speaking about the joy of railway signalling. I gave the talk very little thought and simply threw together half a dozen photos shortly before the event. When my turn came around, I did a spoken equivalent of an unpost, just being enthusiastic about the subject and trying to convey a little information. It was a bit of a blur, but people seemed to like it, and even said they’d learned something.

Ok, so for an autistic trans woman, an interest in railways isn’t actually that weird: it’s almost a stereotype! But I have had a lifelong interest in railways, I’ve always enjoyed train travel, and I’m particularly fascinated by signalling and railway infrastructure more generally. It’s some combination of the complex systems of rules and the aesthetics that appeals to me.

I said earlier that I didn’t get to choose what my ADHD brain decides to focus on, and it hasn’t devoted much neural capacity to railways for a while. However, it’s been long enough now that the novelty is there again. So I’ve been reading new signalling books, and watching endless YouTube videos filmed from the cabs of locomotives, just so I can see how different signalling systems work, at least from a driver’s perspective. (I’ve previously focused on British signalling practice, but I’m now starting to branch out and look at the way things are done differently elsewhere, especially in other European countries.)

I titled this post ‘self-preservation’ before I’d written a word, because I anticipated that I’d end on this note. I think the reason I’ve suddenly started devoting so much time to one of my ‘special interests’ is that it’s a way to avoid a lot of what’s going on in the world – not just the big things that I mentioned earlier, but also the stuff that I am exposed to whenever I’m on Twitter: the incessant transphobia, ableism, autmisia, and general all-round nastiness. But I’m thankful for my good friends there too!

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