Tag Archives: science writer

Update about updates

Lately I’ve been updating far too little. Far too little for my own liking, even though I do know what I want with this blog. I still haven’t been able to commit to it as much as I should. Also my twitter activities have not been like I had intended it to be. Partly I think it’s fine, I’m human and I have other things in my life than just space and aliens. And partly it’s still fine but something changed in a way I didn’t expect. 

blogging

image credit Pixabay

The big change

The very last argument I had not to come out as agender was this: I didn’t want to put other people in a situation they didn’t ask for. I didn’t want people to deal with the fact that I was neither male nor female and that they had to adjust to that. I’m Dutch and there isn’t even a word for the singular they. Enby? (nb = non binary) I just didn’t want to confuse people but my wife said it was bollocks. It’s my life, it’s who I am. And I should show that, or at least tell people why I was looking into top surgery. Fair enough. 

So I came out earlier this year and everyone I spoke to was very accepting. Sure, some had no idea what agender was, but I was happy to tell them. Language is a struggle, as at work I’m sometimes called a lady (the rest of my male colleagues is then called gents in the same sentence), but that’s a language thing. Online I think it went well too. I wrote a piece on relating to Data of Star Trek The Next Generation as I started to realise that me being agender is part of that. It was fantastic. 

Unexpected impact

I feared my surrounding would struggle but they are fine. Sometimes they ask me questions but I see that as part of acceptance and I’m happy to talk about it. The biggest impact of me coming out as agender was not on my surroundings, it had the biggest impact on… me. I found myself in a situation of Fuck It, I’m doing this. So I dove head first into the LGBTQIA+ culture, something I probably already had but now I did it consciously. Other non binary people became visible and this was truly inspirational.

A whole new world opened up to me. I got my first binder, then got a decent one (which I’m calling ‘my second skin’), am on a two year waiting list for my surgery. And my head became a mess. Not in a negative way, but it’s been quite exhausting. It’s been a big change and I didn’t see it coming. I do see the irony in that. 

As I was busy with fitting into my own skin (and I still am), I was also tired. I started to slack writing, I enjoy learning online but didn’t have the strength for it any more. What I did manage was creating a new wardrobe, read and watch a lot of Star Trek, visit Sweden and finally declared my unconditional love for it (opposed to really, really REALLY loving Sweden), finally learned that dark hair suits me way better than blond and pastels, and I got a new task offered at work, one that suits me a lot, namely data control (numbers, not the android). 

LGBTQIA+ in the mix

I also realised that my space twitter became more LGBTQIA+ rights than space adventures. This is absolutely fine, it’s my twitter, it’s who I am. But I started it to communicate with space and alien folk and added Star Trek and cats to the mix. Does LGBTQIA+ mix well? Of course it does! But I really want to add more space, more aliens, more cats, even more Star Trek. I wanted to do something with my twitter and my blog. It had a purpose. And I just wasn’t doing it. 

Of course I had a lot on my mind this year. But that’s not all of it. I can do something when I really want it. But it needs not just a purpose, it needs an urgency. Trust me, I had coaching to figure that out. Eventually becoming a space writer and communicator doesn’t work. Becoming stupidly knowledgeable about Scandinavian UFO and alien cases eventually isn’t enough either. Eventually doesn’t spell urgency.

I want it, yes. I want to stop working in an office, sweet talking to terminal operators and skippers to please do their job at the agreed time. But to make that change, to work on that, I need more than ‘I want something else, possibly somewhere else’. I need a plan. One that could work. And it works when I want it and put my mind on it. I just need the right plan. The urgency. 

Here come the Swedes

Hello Sweden! While Sweden was winning from England in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, my partner (a bigger Sweden supporter than I am, she is nearly flawless at Swedish. My passive Swedish is great too, just don’t ask me to do anything else than order a coffee and asking whether this includes a refill, which to be fair is a great survival skill) and I were chauvinistic about the win and were overly annoyed by the Dutch commentator who, like many commentators, didn’t like Sweden at all. You see, the Swedish men didn’t lose 7-0 from the Dutch a few years ago which meant the Netherlands failed to go the the men’s FIFA World Cup. The Dutch never gotten over that. But never mind, we generally don’t like the Dutch either. 

Plus, on a more serious note, the climate change in the Netherlands it quite worrying. We’re both anything but sun worshippers and would both be considered suffering from summer depression. So 35 degrees is not ‘nice weather’ as the forced opinion in the Netherlands is, but it’s hell to us. We’ve celebrated midsummer (midsommar is a Swedish national holiday).This day marks the days getting shorter again, hurrah! And with the global climate change, how will the Netherlands even cope when sea levels do rise? It takes 5 minutes by train from where I live to the lowest point of the Netherlands, 5 metres below sea level. 5 metres is a lot! We thought about Sweden. We should climate migrate. 

Dreams and urgency

Dreams we had for like forever. But what happens when you start looking at how much it really costs? We’ve been dreaming of visiting Portland, Oregon for years as well and never really did something because we were sure we couldn’t afford it. Until we actually checked flight and hotel prices. We’re flying in two months. I don’t believe we’re living in a small village close to Kiruna by next year, but the things that need to be done (driver’s licence anyone?) aren’t really that much of a financial obstacle, if you have an urgency. Unless we win the lottery of course. I’ll be buying a ticket this afternoon. 

So, I have emigration plans, that’s cool. I realised that living in nature, in peace and quiet, and be semi self sustaining isn’t just a dream, but it’s something we can actually do. And we both love the city of Rotterdam, but these two introverts are really in need of a quiet life. We want two chickens for the eggs and a pig as a pet. Cool, cool, do what you must. But does this involve this blog and my space twitter? Yes, it does and it does big time. Because if I live in a village of 238 inhabitants in the North of Sweden*, chances are that I won’t get a job at an office. Hurrah! But I still need to work. So this blog finally has a destination. I finally know what I want to do with my plans. A real purpose. An urgency.

*or anywhere else in North Scandinavia. As long as it’s in the North, Scandinavia and provides a clear view on the skies and auroras

Thank you

I know I’ve struggled with blogging before and have pledged commitment time and time again. But never with a purpose such as this. I’m a certified science writer for Pete’s sake! The time has come to do something with it. And with many things in my life, if I really want it, really really want it and have an urgency to lead me (climate migration, leading a self sustaining life), then I know I will make this happen. Of course this blog may undergo several name changes again until I find one that fits and sticks. But it’s the contents that ultimately matters. 

I want to thank all my space and alien followers on Twitter for putting up with me for the past half year. You’ll get what you deserve now. I also want to thank all my new LGBTQIA+ friends, you’re an inspiration and I’ll continue to be on your side. And I would like to thank you in particular, you who has read all this. I’m happy to take you with me on this journey. 

My week hosting People of Space

In a spurt of not giving a fuck (and I hadn’t even read the book yet), I decided to give it a go. I asked the keeper of the twitter account @people_of_space if a person like me, a starting scicommer with little followers, would qualify for hosting the account for a day. And I was. This week would turn out to be a week where I learned more than I could have imagined. And I even found some confidence.

Space is for everyone

Tara created people_of_space so people from all walks of life could talk about their passion to a larger audience. Space is for everyone. So one week, it’s people who work in the space industry sharing what they do. The other it may be an enthusiastic amateur astro-photographer sharing their pictures. I think it’s an amazing concept and it really shows that people from all walks of life and from anywhere in the world have something to say about space. And anything that comes with it. Last week I hosted the account and I admit the closer the moment came, the more nervous I became. I had plans on what I wanted to talk about, but what if people didn’t want to hear about that?

In the week ahead I had some encouraging words over twitter, telling me that I could do anything, it was my week. Also, in a conversation a German astrophysicist mused whether #SpaceComm could be a thing, working nicely with the already known and used hashtag #scicomm. “Now, here’s something I can talk about!” I answered. I also stuck close to my twitter bio: Space, Cats, Aliens and Star Trek. Also, science writer. What does that even mean? Where do I write? I can do this! I can actually find good topics that are space and that also reflect on who I am. Just stick to that, I said, and it’ll be fine. There’s no plottwist here. I was fine. More than fine.

Aliens, Star Trek and Space Cats

Not all subjects I talked about gained an equal responds. My thread about the Netherlands Space Society didn’t seem to be doing much. Which may be okay of course. I ran two polls and was massively surprised that the poll about Aliens had much more responds than the one about Star Trek. It gave me the confidence boost to talk more about Aliens on my own account as well. People do believe in Extraterrestrial Intelligence. And some space people are too open to alien abduction stories, it’s not just me. I created #AlienFriday. I will keep using that. Who cares that I’m the only one using it? It now belongs to my space communication. And so does Star Trek, space people like Star Trek and their references.

Space Cats on Thursday was amazing. I have thought long and hard whether to talk about Felicette, the first cat that went into space. She’s not that well known. The cats were used for research and that’s what I find hard to talk about. I can’t look at pictures of animal neglect and abuse. Her story is a tad different but still. She was the first (and only) real space cat. I had to mention it. And I found it hard. But the responds was overwhelming! So much love and sympathy. I’m glad I mentioned her. My wife later added that it was also good, because using animals (against their will) is part of the space program and it’s important to talk about it, even when it’s more comfortable to just ignore that part. (I have skipped the part about the mice in Scott Kelly’s book for instance.)

Interaction and information

I was quite lucky with a relative quiet week at work. I could write most threads under office hours. So a small thank you for my colleague who didn’t mind doing a bit more that week is in order. Though I won’t tell him directly. I was also able to interact with people and that turned out to be easier than i thought. Someone asked me about blogging. It was nice to give some advice. Also people asked about CHEOPS, which was really cool as well.

What I learned was that I really enjoy talking about Space and sharing information. What I learned was that you can use a Star Trek gif or reference when applicable. I learned to talk about aliens when I wanted to, despite what others might think. I also learned that it actually didn’t bother me that some threads did better than others. It was interesting to see this development. And it’s good to know that you never know what will spark a discussion. It is also  timing after all. The most important thing I learned was, well, that I have been downright lazy before.

SpaceComm learning experience

Here I am, science writer, scicommer. Granted, I can’t do this full time as I have a office job. But I shouldn’t just wait until subjects present themselves to me, that’s not how it works. I knew that. But it’s how I often did my social media (to my followers: I’m deeply sorry for that). This past week made me think about contents, made me make a strategy. Exactly what my social media course had taught me but I hadn’t put in practice yet. And you know what, I really enjoyed that. This week has given me more confidence and more insight. Maybe it was because, no matter how you look at it, you are representing the account People of Space and you want to do it justice. And that helped.

I wil take all that back to my own account. I want to do it justice as well. I’ve added #SpaceComm to my twitter bio, because that’s exactly what I’ll continue to do. I’ll see about how #SpaceCatsonThursday will develop but I definitely will keep #AlienFriday if only that it will force me to keep talking aliens. And I want to keep talking about aliens. I’ve already been asked if I’d like to host again in the future. Ask me again after a couple of months and I’ll talk Space Comm. This is just getting started. And then I might tell about what I learned, how cool would that be? People of Space, you are amazing.