I hope you’ve all had a great summer!
This is, I think, the longest break I’ve had from this website since I started doing weekly posts three years ago. It’s been good to cut down on the pressure, in a way – but I’ve also missed it! Having to prepare a weekly post keeps me writing, and thinking – and aware of what day of the week it is, which I rather lost track of over the summer! I suppose it’s the closest I’ll ever come to keeping a diary.
I’m trying now to pick up the threads and restart my schedule, since all of the new OU student lists are either about to come out or have just done so, and I’ll soon have a lot of new people (I’m heading for well over 100 students this year, just in my own groups!) to write for, as well as all the lovely people who have been unaccountably following my ramblings for years.
I’m going to try to avoid getting locked into a weekly post, though, because sometimes there just isn’t time. I’m also going to cut down on the Weekend Reading links, and just highlight a few things of interest – since other people out there are compiling much more comprehensive and thoughtful lists than I do! For regular reading, see the Rogue Classicism daily #Thelxinoe posts, and the new weekly Pasts Imperfect newsletter, to which you can sign up.
So, what’s been going on over the last couple of months?
Well, I can’t honestly say that I’ve had a relaxing summer holiday. It’s my own fault, of course – as usual.
I did manage to do some things that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I made it to two exhibitions I was desperate to see: the Harryhausen exhibition in Edinburgh and the Nero exhibition at the British Museum. (I found both of them slightly disappointing – but maybe that’s because of all the anticipation!) I visited my little nephews. I met in Real Life some people I’ve known online for ages, and patched up a decades-long feud. I ate in a beautiful restaurant for the first time in years, and had an amazing private viewing of paintings I’ve wanted to see since I was 12. I’ve gotten lost in three cities, eaten bad buffet food in an empty cathedral, and been sat on by an enormous dog (not mine) from London to Newcastle.
Throughout all of it I was pretty terrified – after so much time in lockdown, even leaving the house is scary! – but it was worth it.
In between trips, I’ve been working on some Projects.
My current Big Project is called Asterion, and it’s a national hub for neurodiversity support and resources in Classics. Or it will be. Right now it’s more of a vast and mostly empty space, just waiting for content and ideas to fill it up. But we’re getting there, and we have plans…! I’ve been joined by a group of amazing people, and I’m so excited to see where this all goes. For now I’m wearing quite a lot of hats, until the initiative gets up and running properly – but I hope that after a while I’ll be able to take a back seat and hand all the important roles over to people who can fill them more competently than I do.
As most of you probably know, I’m not at all comfortable being in the public eye, having spent most of my life skulking in corners and trying not to be noticed. In my time I have found all the best hiding places – on university roofs, behind locker rows (there’s usually a gap where two walls meet, which you can squeeze into if you’re small, just in case you were wondering) and under tables (don’t ask!). I am a professional at being invisible. All I really want to do is to sit in a quiet corner with a pile of books and a sketch pad.
But public attention seemed necessary, since we needed to get the word out as widely as possible – and it had to be personal, since Asterion needs visible representation of neurodivergent people in Classics in order to make everyone else realise that we exist! And I can’t really tell anybody else’s story, or ask anyone to take the risks that I’ve been taking. So I’ve been telling stories about me and my changing view of the world (some links below), and I’m very grateful to all the people who’ve featured Asterion in their blogs, podcasts and newsletters.
It’s not been easy, or entirely pleasant, to stick my head above the parapet like this. I’ve been criticised for my character, my history, my status and my qualifications. They’re fair criticisms. I’m definitely not perfect, I don’t always say or do the right things, I’m not trained in leadership, I’m not a professor, I’m not a qualified psychologist specialising in neurotypes, and I’m pretty much flying this project on my own right now, without institutional backing or proper funding. Effectively I’ve painted a giant target on my autistic forehead, and I can’t blame anybody for firing at it. But I keep coming back to the thought that if I don’t do this, perhaps nobody else will.
So I’m persevering, despite the fact that I now jump in panic every time my phone pings with an email or Twitter notification! It’s worth it, I think – and it seems that a lot of other people agree. The criticism has been balanced by huge and unexpected support from people I look up to in Classics. I’m so thankful to everyone who’s been in touch with donations, advice, personal stories and ideas. And if you’re reading this and thinking that you might want to get involved in some way (whether you’re neurodivergent or not), please do contact me. All help is very gratefully received!
There are other Projects in preparation too, which I will tell you about at a later date! For now, though, I’d like to welcome all the new followers to this blog – many of whom are also new to Classics. Welcome! I’m very lucky to have a group of the nicest followers I could imagine – so please don’t feel nervous about leaving a comment or asking a question! I’m afraid that this website is a sprawling mass of chaotic thoughts from the last five years – but I do earnestly intend to tidy it up.
Just as soon as I find the time…!
An article for the CUCD Bulletin on why we need Asterion.
An article for the CUCD EDI Blog on the logistics of building Asterion.
A mention in the new Pasts Imperfect newsletter.
A long chat with the wonderful Liv for Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby!
Welcome Posts from Previous Years
(to keep me from repeating myself!)