steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Pollyannus Mirabilus

I've seen a few end-of-decade round ups floating about. I'm not much of a one for that kind of cosmic stock-taking, but the last decade was sufficiently eventful that it seemed worth looking back - not, of course, from the fixed point of achieved wisdom (the implied assumption of which, I now realise, is what I have always disliked about those "Letter to my younger self" columns in the otherwise-admirable Big Issue), but merely as a dizzy snatched glance from the twirling Waltzer...

Well, I began doing it, but it soon got far too depressing and whiny. So, instead, I'm just going to list some of the good things about the last decade. You'll have to imagine the long negative shadow that some of these cast - especially the first - but I'm not going into it here. Just take it as read that most important events have negative aspects.

I transitioned in 2011. This isn't a good in itself, but it was definitely the right (probably the only) thing for me to do, and despite all the negative consequences I've never regretted it. The same goes for the confirmation surgery (or whatever you want to call it) five years later: indeed, every day it seems like a kind of miracle. When I transitioned socially, I thought that body dysphoria wasn't that big a problem for me. Now that I don't have it any more I see that was wrong.

I learned Japanese - or at least, started on that long road. It's a) been a lot of fun and b) intellectually fascinating, and has c) introduced me to many new friends, d) given me a new research area, and e) offered an occasional escape from reality (or 現実逃避).

I began the decade as a Senior Lecturer at UWE (which I'd joined 20 years earlier), and am now a Reader at Cardiff University. After 25 years at one place (by the time I moved), this was definitely overdue, though I still miss my UWE colleagues and don't care for the commute. (On the other hand, I don't relish Cardiff quite enough to seriously consider leaving Bristol for it.) Meanwhile, I've published two monographs, in 2012 and 2018, plus the usual rash of chapters and articles and several edited collections. Though I'm definitely a 'resting' novelist at this point, I did at least produce Twisted Winter (2013), featuring original stories by Newbery winner Susan Cooper! Carnegie winner-to-be Frances Hardinge! and Southern Schools Book Award Shortlisted Author [not selected] Catherine Butler.

My body is ten years older, but so far not noticeably less able to do stuff. I'm told by those in the know that old age will come in a series of sudden drops, precipitated by illness and accident, rather than as a gradual decline - though that will be in the mix too, no doubt. At any rate, I'm not quite there yet, though I'm definitely stiffer than of yore, and must do something about that.

Hmm, that last paragraph was in danger of wriggling its way round to being negative after all, so before we leave the Glad Game I'll add that I've also made many new friends this decade, and seen some interesting new places (not only Japan but Taiwan, Valencia, Columbus Ohio, Toronto, Istanbul, Akureyri, Ankara, Athens and Milton Keynes - all of which I visited for the first time in the name of work - as well as some other places, like the Gower Peninsula, which I got to under my own steam).

Altogether, I have plenty of reasons to be happy.
Tags: real life
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