Paralian just won its 2nd literary award: the New Apple Award for Excellence in Independent Publishing! http://www.newappleliterary.com/2016Aw…/2016awardsCat38.html
I’m immensely grateful for this surprising honour. And, it lifts my spirits to see Paralian understood for the inspiring tour de force that it is. Thanks to the New Apple Awards team and thanks to all of you out there who are seeking for new, unique voices.
Beginning of this year, ‘Writers Resist’ events were held all over the world. These readings were to remind ourselves of the importance of human rights, freedom of speech, and mutual respect.
Here in Zurich, on a mid-January evening, we spoke up as well, reading from many different works of literature (including our own) in front of a sincere, spell-bound audience. I’m glad I was able to do my part. Because, as I pointed out in this article by JJ Marsh in ‘The Woolf’: “Kindness, compassion, and freedom of mind are key to our existence.”
The road is the destination and every milestone serves a purpose.
In my case, to name just a few, being orphaned and then adopted; living with my gay, often helpless father; surviving my paranoid, neurotic mother; having the greatest grandma of all; spasticity in my legs as a child which kept me from being able to play like other children; diving deep into the turquoise blue of the Indian Ocean; growing up in a girl’s body; being a social outcast in high school; cuddling with my animal companions; finding my biological mother and sister; being trans; coming steadily home to my true self; meeting and engaging with people from a multitude of different cultures; living in a show family; savoring friendship and love; waking up to the smiling eyes of my soul mate gazing into mine; traveling the world; listening to water; rejoicing, despairing, longing…
And moving forward. Always moving forward towards opening doors and new life experiences…
The unforgettable day I met my birth mom for the first time… and, at the same time, a rare photographic moment, captured just months before I had gender reassignment surgery…
“My biological mom lived on the top floor of the four-story apartment building. There was no elevator. With every step up, my heart soared and fluttered a bit more. My legs were made of feathers and lead at the same time. Finally, I reached her floor.
In the doorway of what looked like a modest little apartment stood the same short, forty-something, elegant lady I had observed the weekend before. Her eyes were careful and guarded yet also filled with wonder. Her expression was vivid. She looked me up and down and said, “Oh my god, you are so tall and pretty!” I was instantly amused, since I am only five foot six and stood in front of her in my usual, rather boyish attire: tennis shoes, faded jeans, and an old red tank top. My hair was cut short and, as always, I wore no make-up. My biological mom took a hold of my hand and pulled me into her little rooftop domain.
I had not arrived with any expectations – of the situation, of her, of anything. I savored the moment and treasured the opportunity to find out more about her and, maybe more about myself at the same time. Sandra hadn’t started talking yet, but I already recognized impulsiveness and an emotional intensity in this woman that seemed all too familiar.” (excerpt from Paralian, chapter 2)
The biggest treasure underwater lies in the shallow depths of the coral reefs. And in the simple joy of softly gliding along weightlessly, being just one more unassuming organism within the endless depths. I love the wild beauty underneath those waves. The myriad shades of turquoise and blue. The diversity of ocean life all around me. Everything, big and small. Most of all the small critters you only see if you dive in slow motion, all your senses tuned to pick up the tiniest movement or irregularity around you.
We called this little Frogfish Pinocchio. He sat in his sponge for several months. On this particular dive, I watched him for sixty minutes as he braved the currents that shook his chosen home. Spreading his foot-like pectoral fins. Balancing himself so delicately… with a split that would have made Jean-Claude van Damme proud. I returned several times. We kept blinking at each other until, one day, he was gone. Instead, other mysterious creatures took his place. The oceans. A neverending source of wonder and, for me, a lifelong love affair.
Thank you Sean McPolin. I’m glad Lily won this battle. There’ll be many more to come. Some to do with her being trans, others just because challenging us is what life does…
Makes me think of a quote I read the other day, “You’re gonna be happy'” said life, “but first I’ll make you strong.”
All the best to Lily and all of you out there on a quest to come home to yourself. Follow your heart and don’t ever give up.
Liam Klenk, 45, from Switzerland has offered his support to 18-year-old Lily Madigan, Chatham, after she threatened legal action against a Catholic academy, regarding their policies on transgender students.
Mr Klenk, born female, understood the difficulties Lily has faced at school, and struggles she will face in life.
Liam Klenk, born Stefanie, lived in Germany as a child.
He said: “Gender dysphoria is not a joke. I myself was struggling with it for many years until I finally transitioned from Stefanie to Liam when I was twenty-three years old.
“A weight as unbearably heavy as the Himalayan mountain range resting on my shoulders finally, amazingly, gave way to the weight of a feather the moment I took steps towards letting myself be the real me.”
“I often hovered motionless and watched the coral reef for a while, contemplating reef fish behavior. Each organism was busy defending its way of life. Tiny fish would attack divers the moment we ventured too far into their territory. There were all kinds of characters: the camouflaged, the timid, the curious, the bullies, the cowards. Some were defensive, others aggressive. As I watched the busy shuffling and posturing on the reef, I saw an intricate microcosmos, a perfect metaphor of human social life and daily struggles.” (excerpt from Paralian, chapter 24 “Indian Ocean”)