Friday, December 26, 2008

26th December 2008

The news got out yesterday that Harold Pinter has died. The poor suffering soul.

Dismayed at the level of animosity I feel towards him.

And the irritation at the thought that, given in this mad world dying tends to be a good career move, he will continue to communicate his unhappiness to us from far beyond the grave.

Mostly, I expect it's a question of vanity: because his dismal style of writing is valued, and mine on the whole is not.

Maybe there's something more: maybe his work angers me so much because it's done so much to popularise the notion that an evening in the theatre is going to be, on the whole, a pretty dismal affair. Watching a display of unhappiness and cruelty that's not very easy to understand and that, as a consequence, makes you feel ever so slightly stupid for not fully appreciating it.

Which means his work has done so much damage to theatre. So much harm to the art form I so passionately love.

As for him, poor soul, I hope he finds a measure of peace.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

23rd December 2008
The day before yesterday, I lost my pen.
I thought it fell under the bed. In the side against the wall.
I pulled the bed out, with some difficulty, because it's a bit jammed in, and couldn't see the pen at all in the heap of dust covered junk that I found there.
I was sorry to lose the pen. So yesterday, I pulled the bed further out and brought down a rubbish bag and started to clear away the rubbish.
Among all the junk were several pairs of my late partner's shoes.

And that is why that space had been untouched so long.

I so loved Susie's feet: they were small and graceful and intensely beautiful.

Of all the horrible things in the long painful process of her dying was what i could feel in the last days, when she was unconscious, and the breath was rattling in her throat; the slow loss of warmth and life in her feet.

And that was why I could not bear to throw out her shoes after she had gone.

And I could not bear to look under the bed, for all the grief and sadness stored there.

And now the place is cleared and clean, i feel better somehow.

I think I slept more peacefully last night.

And I found the pen. I had carefully wrapped in the cover round my tarot cards.


Friday, December 12, 2008

12 December 2008

Yesterday president Mugaba of Zimbabwe denied there was any cholera in his country.
In spite of the fact that many thousands are dying as a result of the collapse of the country's sanitation services; and the collapse of its health care systems.

Today one of his ministers said there was cholera, but it had nothing to do with them. It is a genocidal weopon being deployed by the U.K. because it is still hell-bent on recolonising Zimbabwe.

There could be something very comic, in a horribly macabre kind of way, about all this if the suffering in that country were not so intense... or if the attitude behind it were not so utterly prevalent.

The captain of a small, horribly overcrowded boat making the crossing from the Horn of Africa to the Arabian peninsula, when confronted by the fact that several people had died on his boat, suffocated in the hold where he forced them to stay, said it was not his fault. If he didn't keep them in the hold the boat would capsize.

Motorists in Manchester, offerred the option to change their means of transport into the city and do something about the horrendous congestion have just voted by an overwhelming majority not to accept a road charge. That would have enabled them to claim billions of government money to improve their public transport network.

Meanwhile the government which may or may not accept that something has to be done is frightened to doit itself and wants to force/bribe the voters to do it.

The EU is trying to hammer out a deal to decrease greenhouse gases. There's a UN meeting on the subject going on in Poland; the Poles along with everyone else, are no doubt in agreement about all this as long as they don't have to do anything about it themselves. Because most of their power comes from coal.

And a friend of mine just sends me his Christmas letter. He would no doubt consider himself an environmentally aware and responsible person; yet an item in his letter bemoans the fact they had to scrap one of their two cars.

Our collective inability to take action in the face of all the crises that confront us is utterly terrifying.

So I go upstairs and do my Christmas cards, and send off my little Christmas letter... and I know that once upon a time I would have written that quite scornfully, as if angrily aware of the futility of my actions and my helplessness, too, in the face of it all.

But I realise that at this particular moment there actually nothing else I can do: and trying to send off good positive wishes has to be better than nothing.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

9th December 2008

I try to start each day practising a little yoga.

The first posture is always tadasana: the Mountain posture. I understand this as being about standing in a firm and harmonious way.

You start at the soles of the feet: observe how your weight is distributed, how the toes are. Try to spread out the toes and see what happens when you try to spread the weight evenly.

Then the ankle; lower legs, knees; upper legs; hips and thighs...

Last Thursday I was aware from the moment I began of pain in my right hip. When I became aware of the soles of my feet, it felt as if my feet were somehow twistedly touching the ground. My ankles sagging somehow. A kind of kink in the knees. Intense pain in both hips.

It felt as if it was impossible just to stand in the world.

It was like an extreme physical manifestation of the difficulty of being a transsexual: the difficulty of being in my body.

A dear friend had offered me an extra massage: and somehow thinking of her kindness, which touched me deeply, triggered an extraordinary sequence of what felt like memories.

The time just after I was born. My mother had had three boys, and she badly wanted a girl. Just before me, she had had a late miscarriage. And the dead baby was a girl. I had been conceived straight afterwards: while she and my dad were still full of grief.

So when she became pregnant with me, it was as if I felt her hope and excitement. The risks she ran - she was past normal childbearing age for those days, her last babies had been twins. The pregnancy was not easy: I think she felt much anxiety and fear. But she knew I was a girl.

And then, when I was born a boy, I seemed to feel the intensity of her disappointment. And my dad's disappointment, too.

She knew she could never have another child.

But it was also as if I knew their determination to love me as a boy and their determination to do everything in their power to make sure I grew up a boy. And was loved and happy.

The intensity of their effort... I was awed by it.

And I could see how I tried everything to be that boy, that normal boy they so deeply wanted me to be.

And of course I could also see how that ended in failure. It was like surveying an immense landscape of futility and sadness.

And somehow all the good things that came out of that effort, even if from a certain point of view it was a failure.. Susie and me and our love for each other, our beautiful wonderful loving daughters, my existence as a writer... all these good and wonderful things only seemed to intensify my sorrow.

I think I cried most of that morning. In the deepest grief and distress.

And noticed that evening how much freer were my movements... how my knees and right hip no longer gave me pain.

And that's still true: provided I stay aware, allow my hips to sway, and keep my knees unlocked.

Life, I keep thinking, is just so great a miracle.


Monday, December 01, 2008

1st december

I was at the doctor's today: to get my sick line renewed, to stock up with pills.

I particularly needed finasteride, an anti-androgen, which I ran out of last wednesday.

In the waiting room I met an old friend whohas mostly known me as John; and who didn't at first recognise me as Jo.

And then his partner; and we kept bumping into each other in the illness production line from waiting room to chemist.

Soon after I was in the post office to post a book and DVD. There were two men behind the counter. One older, one younger.

I was dealing with the younger one; and just as I was leaving he said: "He (meaning his colleague) wants to ask if that's your own hair or not".

He asked this really offensive question in so straightforward and friendly a way that i was completely dumbfounded, and found myself answering, "It's mine" in an equally straightforward and friendly way. As if it was the most natural question in the world.

And then, predictably, once out of the shop, I found myself thinking "I really should have been just a tiny bit ruder", but in a pleasantly amused kind of fashion. And just as I was going past a queue at a bus time out of nowhere I heard someone saying "Is that a woman or a -?"

I was amazed. It's months and months since I've had these kinds of incidents.
And once the "I really must work harder at my hair" and the "I really must work harder at my make-up" kind of moment had passed, I started to wonder why. Had I reverted back to my male persona in response to my old friends?

Or was it the testosterone that the lack of medication had allowed back into my body subtly but unmistakeably altering the gender signals I sent out to the world?

And this afternoon, working away on the final stage of the second act of YERMA, I found myself feeling discouraged and telling myself how tired I was, in a way that has not occurred to me for many many years. A mood that I associate, in fact, with the difficulties and the discouragements of early stage transition.

In fact, if I think about it, with testosterone. Aamazing how much hormones matter to our sense of who we are and how we feel.


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