Wednesday, March 18, 2009

18th March.

I woke up about 5.20 this morning. I'd dropped off to sleep about 11.00.
I worked that out in a sleepy kind of way in the luxurious moments after waking.... it doesn't sound like much, but it triggered memories of the time I was ill and waking, at least being aware of waking, every 45 minutes or so sometimes.
This was because my heart wasn't working properly, and I was suffocating.
I remember those days feeling as if even a few hours uninterrupted sleep would be like the most amazing gift... as if some glimpse of a paradise beyond my reach.
And what I didn't know was that I was also waking up beneath awareness every minute or so. Because I was stopping breathing.
And I thought of all that, and the amazing gift of sleep.

Yesterday I went to see KYOTO, David Greig's new short play. Which opened last week at Oran Mor in Glasgow, and transferred to the Traverse. It's the first time they've taken part in the 'Play, a Pie, and a Pint' season, and it was lovely to see the place full at lunchtime.
Also, of course, there was the huge pleasure of seeing my name among the list of plays going on later in the season.
And my play, AN APPLE A DAY, in which I feel such pride.
But that's not why I'm mentioning this. I'm mentioning this because I went with a transsexual woman friend who is in the process of coming out at work, and living her life now to the full.
For the very first time.
And she came to my house before hand so I could authenticate her new passport photograph and also her new driving licence... and I so want to admire and celebrate her courage.
Mine too.
Another gift: the thought that maybe I helped her in this process.
And afterwards I went round to see dear Marni the beauty therapist, who is patiently removing the last of my facial hair.
A process which feels like she is giving me my own face.
And after that I called in at a charity shop to browse through their clothes.
And thought of how for years and years I didn't dare go into shops and browse through the clothes I wanted to wear and that would express my real self.
But it's so simple now.
And then I went to the Caledonian hotel, a posh place in the West End, and there in their grand lounge was a dear friend waiting for me beside an elegant afternoon tea.
And the dear camp waiter flirted with me. He called me 'young lady' and said I was looking very nice that afternoon.

And this morning, as I woke rested, I was thinking of all these things.
In a kind of deep happiness I wanted to share.
So I came up the stairs to this high beautiful room where dawn was breaking in the most lovely clear sky.
The birds are singing: and over the rooftop I can see the half moon.
Fading in the light of the morning sky.


Monday, March 16, 2009

16th March
I know things aren't right when it's hard to get out the front door.
It becomes difficult to collect the stuff I need - the letters I was going to post, my purse, my keys... to remember to bring down the rubbish bags I was going to take to the bin...
I kept having to go up and down the stairs, and I was getting short of breath...
As I walked up the hill, a bit painfully because my back was sore and aching, I was trying to figure out why this was happening.
I spent the morning assembling receipts and stuff for a couple of travel claims - a journey to Hull to see YERMA, a journey to Leeds to give a talk at a seminar on translating for the theatre - and there was a bill to pay. I needed to find my cheque book. And the YERMA proofs to post back to the publisher, and a thank you card to a dear friend.
And then there was the mailing for "Leave to Remain", and the contacting of the press, and setting up a meeting of the "Queen Jesus" artistic team, and it's hard all this stuff, self promotion - and a nagging anxiety at the back of my mind about a couple of interviews I've been asked to do about "An Apple a Day".
And then a possibly hugely positive and significant upheaval late this year that I can't even talk about...
All this, I think, has to do with self esteem, with trying to learn to value myself, and it's all tangled up with my feelings about my birthday, which is coming up on Sunday, and the immense difficulty I have even imagining what a truly happy birthday might be like.
I just have this nagging feeling of being such a disappointment. At my birth, which was so hard and so painful and so dangerous for my mum, and she so badly wanting a girl. And though she was such a marvellous loving person, I still have this nagging sense of a real pang of disappointment in her first contact with me.
And is that at the heart of this lack of ability I somehow have to see my birthday as a cause for celebration?
How deep do these memories go?
How profound this kind of imprinting?
This we can never know.
All that I can do is walk slowly up the steep hill, and go to the post office, post the letters, go to my meeting, see if I can think up a good idea for a short opera or two - because that was what the meeting was about... stay alive to the beauty of the late afternoon.
Cook a good meal, try to enjoy my own company.
Do what must be done: and then sleep. As happy as I can.
And be thankful.


Sunday, March 08, 2009

March 8th 2009
Yesterday I was at another funeral.
I met Marcella Althaus-Reid when she and I and a muslim were taking part in a discussion about transsexuality and theology, I think, at St John's Church for the Peace and Justice festival.
I was very ill at the time, on the waiting list for valve repair surgery.
Heart problems, I think, profoundly affect your courage (which comes from the latin word for heart). It was one of the first times I had spoken in public as an out transsexual woman. I was very frightened.
She was lovely. So supportive, so strong.
I sent her GOD'S NEW FROCK, and she wanted to publish it.
She came along to LEAVE TO REMAIN and wrote and spoke about it in an utterly lovely way.
She was someone I so wanted to know better.
But in the turmoil of the last few years I neglected to. And though she seemed to have withdrawn from public view I thought nothing of it until I discovered she was dead.
And I hadn't even known she was ill.
That made me so sad.
I went along to the service, feeling a bit isolated, as usual. It was very moving to see members of my church there; and Maxwell reading out some of the tributes, and Andy leading one of our hymns.
I felt how much our church mattered.
I felt it mattered hugely that I was there: to bear witness.
The woman who spoke about her life spoke of how in her last weeks she felt she was about to pass through a 'curtain'.
Just as Susie spoke of going through a 'door'.
It was a big church. It was full.
I felt how much her voice mattered, and continues to matter.
She was apparently the first woman professor in New College, of Edinburgh University (and I saw the Edinburgh University flag flying at half mast in her honour).
I thought of me, the first tranny professor of QMU.
It made me feel proud, and wistful too about the ultimate failure of my academic career.
But strengthened me too: to keep writing.
To keep bearing witness.


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