I am here

With my life as it is, all I have to do is ensure that I have enough food in. I could even wait until I had not, and go to buy it then. If I don’t have milk, I can’t have tea or cereal with milk until I buy some. I don’t have to tidy my living room, or clean the filthy basin in my bathroom.

If I don’t clean my teeth, I feel uncomfortable, and if I don’t have enough fruit I feel out of sorts. I love fruit. Peaches in the summer, though I could get expensive ready-to-eat peaches now, but sweet conference pears are almost as good for intensity of flavour and juiciness; grapes, plums, and citrus- tangerines, satsumas, clementines, whatever.

I love pictures. I love the mannered strangeness of Giulio Aristide Sartorio, my latest happen-upon. I keep telling myself I could get the train to London to the Tate, which always has wonderful exhibitions. Getting to Swanston, getting the train, getting across London takes trouble and expense, but it is manageable. I have not got round to it. I am unsure why not.

I have managed to strip my life down to minimal challenge. I blog a lot (I like blogging.) I watch a lot of television.

How I respond to challenge may be the issue.

I am in trouble. Various people are going to meet to address the problem of Clare, and may come up with a solution I do not like. I have a knack for focusing tensions in a group around me, and while I feel those tensions are the problem rather than my wickedness, I am unsure I could convince them of that. Hollyoaks has nothing on the way I manage my personal relations. There is little I can do, I just have to wait until they have met.

I would like someone to give me a hug and say there, there, it’s going to be alright.

I have had the thought,

I am here.

Now, I am finding what that might mean. This morning, I cycled into Swanston for the fruit stall. It was not there last Tuesday, but was today, perhaps because the weather was better. I could always ask them why they don’t come. I got apples, plums, grapes, and satsumas, much cheaper than the supermarket. I am pleased.

If I cycle, I save the bus fare, but there are costs to this. That hill is hard work. It’s cold. I will get sweaty and possibly smelly. I don’t like the jacket (I could replace it). Most of the road is between hedges which are ugly, and much of the landscape beyond is featureless. The sun, and the brightness, are beautiful. An overtaking driver gave me far too little room, so that when I swerved to the right to avoid a pot-hole just as he passed me, he was frighteningly close.

Three miles from home, I address the thought, I am here. There is beauty where I am. I have an effort to make. It seems to me my ways of dealing with the efforts I have to make are denial and resentment. I deny the effort. Anyone with the slightest resilience, anyone with any value as a human being, would find them minuscule and unworthy of notice. (Therefore I have no value.) Then I resent. I should not have these difficulties.

There is some pleasure in facing where I am. Three miles to cycle, with some climbing. These delights, and these difficulties which matter to me. These blessings and the forebearance of my situation keep me safe enough.

I look out the window at the sunset. The sky is so beautiful!

giulio-aristide-sartorio-wee-boys-smile

Uses of friendship

File:The Gates of Paradise by William Blake -3.jpgMy beautiful, talented and vibrant friend has emailed twice, and I have not responded. When we met last month, we hugged and I was delighted to see her, as well as reserved. She said, “Call me”, and I have not.

We met two years ago at a weekly drama improvisation. After, we went to the pub, and shared stuff, and said motivational positive-thinking wisdom stuff at each other. She came to see me at my stand-up gig, and we ate afterwards. Then we did not see each other again.

So her email in October was delightful, and yet I did not respond, by email or phone, and it occurred to me that I was ashamed to. I had been talking of performing, and all this wisdom, and I am in a cul-de-sac, not having given birth to a dancing star or whatever.

One gets the impression that Robert de Saint-Loup really cares for Marcel, and Marcel does not entirely reciprocate. Sometimes Marcel uses his friendship: he wants an invitation to the house of a woman; he wants a message conveyed to Albertine after she leaves him, and he wants to micro-manage how that is done, indicating a lack of trust in the messenger. He observes Robert’s love for Rachel as a writer might.

At one point I had two friends I saw weekly, and shared deeply. I have generally had one who would hear my woes, and now I have one 396px-The_Gates_of_Paradise_by_William_Blake_-1 who chunters on boringly about her issues, so that when I talked of my father’s funeral she moved onto another subject quickly, in great detail. Don’t worry, it isn’t you. She is pleasant enough when I have nothing better to do- most of the time.

So it seemed that I had been one particular aspect of myself with the Vivacious one (who is straight, unfortunately) and I would have to ease in to being other aspects of myself.

-How are you?
-Alright. You?

and deep conversation like that.

A friend could reassure me that one particular view of myself is correct. A friend could do many things. Perhaps I should explore.

449px-William_Blake,_painter_and_poet_(page_28a)Having finally got the idea of the Mega-me, I thought I might actually do it. The brain cannot tell the difference between doing something in fantasy and doing it in actuality- our mirror neurons fire off replicating others’ feelings, and if we can create feelings of achievement we can go out and do the thing in reality. So I thought I would ask Quakers to participate in an improvised drama, and imagined friends objecting because it was silly. Useful to have someone to project on.

By horrible coincidence, two people I knew through karate have also lost a parent in the last month. They announced it on facebook. I did not want to- but did, today. I have hardly been posting there for a month. Lots of loving, warming comments from people I rarely see, Likes because I said how wonderful he had been, and I walked in the park feeling Happy, perhaps because of the mild air and beauty of the place, perhaps because of facebook.

In the moment

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dd/Battle_of_Dunsinane_-_John_Martin.jpg

File:Fuseli - Macbeth and the Witches.jpgAs we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

More improvisation games.

Now we pass the energy to each other, across the circle, carrying something. It may be heavy, or wriggly and difficult to hold, or tiny and precious, and It changes for each person. Each mime is a new creative act. Planning ahead, it would be a small furry thing to cuddle, pet and stroke, but when Dick goo-goos at a small fluffy being, caressing it, and passes it to me, I must do something more. I gently put it down on the floor, and blow on it, and mime that it is growing, then I lead it over to someone else to pass it on.

At the start of the day- we sit in a circle, light a candle, and close our eyes, and Claire speaks to us hypnotically. Saturday, I am with it immediately, I feel present and relaxed. Sunday, I am distracted, ruminating, and still not clear what the difference is. That mime feels good. It feels right, and it popped into consciousness seeming full-formed- but I am not sure what else could happen. It seems my conscious mind could only censor it, but possibly the edit/censor process is unconscious too. It only becomes problematic and uncomfortable when the inspiration and the censorship war, with no clear winner.

dsc05130-2And sometimes it feels right with other people, sometimes it does not. Three of us improvise a short scene: one massages my shoulders, the other comes in, there is a veiled confrontation and she starts massaging my shoulders. Of course I enjoyed that. It was lovely. It communicated to the audience, but I think it luck rather than some mystic Inspiration; and inspiration strikes where with practice we learn what works.

Much of our work is on Macbeth. First we think ourselves into these characters: Macbeth, Malcolm, Duncan, Lady Macbeth, Macduff. Then we improvise scenes with them.

File:Macbeth consulting the Vision of the Armed Head.jpgSomeone objected that these are dark, violent characters, but for me my fear of my shadow is the problem: embodying “bad” characters is the way to relax that fear. I have the capacity to act well, and I can relax those inhibitions created in childhood, that there are Bad responses which must not be allowed. As an adult I can create better responses to my reactions than to suppress them. To release the suppression, I have a safe, playful space to be Bad.

We play the scenes. As many of us as wish can play one character: at one point we have three Lady Macbeths surrounding Macbeth and goading him. About half of us play witches: Children and adults can play witches at Hallowe’en, there are places to “let your hair down” and play with darker impulses, other than here.

I also played Macbeth murdering the King. After, I had a toy witch’s broom, and I paced the floor to one side while Macduff and Malcolm plotted against me elsewhere. I shook the broom to symbolise my increasing stress and desperation, until it fell to pieces scattering bristles over the floor. A beautiful symbol I could not have planned. After this, being “killed” by the rebels was a relief.

In the pub

Josse-Lieferinxe-Abraham-and-the-Three-Angels Early at St Pancras, I play the piano. A woman asks what I am playing, and asks to record me on her phone.

I am here for Claire’s drama workshop “Mega-me”- be all you can be. Writing, now, on the train home on Monday morning I am happy, singing “Slow down, you’re going too fast” walking along the platform- I am my father and my father is me, he lives on in me. Earlier today, Jack asked how the funeral would be and I said we would be conventional and correct with each other- then, it is an interaction, a meeting, there is always hope. I saw a friend who told me she was going to a funeral, and I said I had a funeral this week.

-Whose funeral?
My mother’s.

I wondered whether to say it, but- “We both thought we could trump the other, didn’t we?”

Walking to the workshop in the sunshine on Remembrance Sunday, I passed some Army cadets on a street corner, with two adults.

He: Then we do a Hałt.
She: We all stop, yeah?
I would not have thought that jargon, myself.

Pietro Perugino angelLast night in the pub after the workshop, I met J and Arianna. She is a lawyer, qualified in Greece and now seeking qualification in London. She is angry about the government in Greece, forcing Austerity on the people- judges were told, “Tomorrow your wages will be halved”. There is no democracy, Papandreou was a fool, the Germans tell them what to do. She hates her country’s weakness.

-Tell me about Golden Dawn.
She does not understand, until I say we translate the party name into English. Fascists, she spits. I am perturbed that they should be shot. Later, she plays the guitar beautifully: she would like to be a musician. Law is a career for her. Everyone just does it for the money.

We did improvisation games with Dick, the same ones. In the group, we speak as moved, to count to 20: if two people speak at once, go back to one. Three line scenes: step into the middle, and speak. Don’t think of what you will say beforehand. Whatever we say in the moment is alright. One wants to say something clever and amusing, of course, and also I want to get beyond editing and censoring what I say. The thought comes, then the calculation: can I say that, could I say it better- and the moment is gone.

Once, in a three line scene- one speaks, the other responds, the first wraps it up- I spoke as the moment inspired. Allowing the other to speak, and responding, is more difficult. A question takes the energy out of the interaction, adding nothing, as bad as a denial or refusal. Can we accept what happens, and give back?

In a circle, we “pass energy” to each other. First we go round the circle: one gurns and gestures at the next, who copies the movement and expression and noise, then turns to the next to make a different movement to be copied in turn. I find myself mirroring the gestures each person makes: perhaps there is a shared emotion of the whole room in that moment.

Dancing in the Shadows

Harald Giersing, Danserinde, 1918I cycled in to the office, and went to chat to the other volunteers. Having cycled, I was a bit sweaty in shorts and vest, and had taken off my pink helmet. As I went to change into  a more suitable top and skirt, Les came to talk to me about it. There had been complaints.

Les skirted around the dodgy ground- “Is it becoz I is Trans?” and said the objection was to me appearing without my wig. I could have pressed it- would there be any objection to my appearing without a wig, if I were not trans? S takes great care to make her thin hair appear to best advantage- do you think she should cover her head? And- I did not. So if I cycle in and want the sweat to evaporate a bit before changing, I must hide away in the other room. But he said, “It is as if you want to shock. Do you?”

I have been asked this before, by an Episcopalian priest who was on the Community Building in Britain Facilitator Training Group, around the time I joined it. I joined the FTG only just before I decided I would transition, so first attended dressed male. It was appearing female that shocked the priest. Do I want to shock? Well, yes. Or, if this shocks you then I want to shock you; or if the choice is appearing male or shocking you, then I want to shock you.

And Philip, also on the FTG, commented that I seemed to be seeking to blend in, in the most eye-catching way possible. I was in drab colours; not dressed fashionably, because I did not have the eye for it; and not sexily, because I wanted to get away from the transvestite stereotype, the ugly, beefy bloke in a mini, tight top, and huge falsies- but I was dressed dramatically.

I want to hide away, and not attract attention, and I want to be on stage, the centre of attention. The hiding comes from past hurts. I have wondered if the dancing does too, an attempt to placate others, to be accepted because I entertain- no, it is what I want for itself. It is just so exciting.

I have been cavalier about going wigless, in part because I think I get read anyway: but as John thought me normal female until he saw me wigless, perhaps I should keep it on. I commented on the new hairstyle of the woman on the checkout. She changes it often, she told me. So I lifted my wig an inch, grinned at her, and said so do I. Yes, I do like to shock, provoke, destabilise, challenge. I like to take a contrarian view in argument. And, I am hiding away.