In April 2010, I put this Buddha on the rooftop overlooking the small communal terrace of our apartment building here in Macau. I remember sweating buckets, my arms feeling as if they were being ripped from my torso, and silently wondering what on Earth had possessed me to volunteer to help my landlord wrestle the almost 70 kg heavy statue to the very top of the building. In the end, I was a bit proud of myself. Now, 8 years later, he still looks so comfortable. Keeping watch over the village, he silently sits there, weathers scorching afternoons and powerful typhoons. Never wavering. Always greeting us with a smile when we come up for a bit of fresh air or a sip of wine.
Beginning of this week, I was supposed to start work for a new show. However, immigration allowed fewer foreigners to work for this spectacle than expected… so my search for a backstage job in Macau continues…
Being upstairs on this beautiful terrace at sunset, I am not too sad. I smile back at Buddha, feeling energetic and ready to get back to writing full time on my second book. There is so much to do. I’ll work hard on my own projects while keeping an eye out for any opportunities that might come along. It’s a bit scary sometimes, not exactly knowing what the next months will bring… but it’s also exhilarating to take life one step at a time and try to make the most of it.
After three months in Macau, we just moved and – it’s almost too good to comprehend – are right back in the apartment where I used to live. Amazingly, when we moved in, even my old desk was still here!!! This is the view from said desk… on which I already wrote so many papers, notes, and drafts. Well, here goes for round two!
It’s been 5 weeks since I moved from Zurich back to Macao…
My toes rejoice. Finally they are out in the open again as socks have become a distant memory. My senses pick up exotic scents finding their way into our living room from the Chinese and Korean restaurant kitchens downstairs. In our own kitchen, I’m becoming reacquainted with surprise visits from cockroaches, the size of small birds. Writing my second book on our couch, I listen to a soundtrack still oddly familiar. Loud Cantonese speaking voices shouting into cell phones, the sound of our next-door neighbour hawking and spitting in regular intervals, and the loud “Euuuuwwwwwww Euuuuwwwwww” of my favorite bird. I’ve never laid eyes on it, but it already Euuuuwwwwww’d to me when I lived on Kuredu Island in the Maldives. Now, here it is again, somewhere in the rustling, gnarly trees across the street, transporting me back home to another part of Asia and to memories of time well spent.
Then there is the ocean. Cafe-Latte-brown here in Macao. But only an hour away, in Hong Kong, it sparkles in myriad shades of blue. And then, there is the rain. The heavy, tropical kind, plummeting from the sky with such vigor, it makes it hard to distinguish individual droplets. When the clouds have exhausted themselves, the air is still thick with micro-droplets, the streets are steaming, and gutters are gurgling madly… whilst frogs and toads of all sizes hop along to after-rain parties somewhere in the bushes. I breathe deeply, smiling to myself. It’s good to be back.
The move to Macao is complete. The last couple weeks were all about organizing some last bits and pieces, resting, and arriving. This month, I’m giving myself one more week of vacation, then, beginning of July, it’ll be time to begin writing full-time again and get those chapters rolling. Can’t wait!
Since beginning of this year, I’ve taken a sabbatical from writing the first draft of my second book. Life changes have kept me busy and, at the same time, have served to clear my head regarding how I want to go about writing this collection of tales.
I am now back on my couch with a view. Thankfully it’s cold and grey outside, so staying indoors in a cozy and warm apartment, surrounded by purring cats, music on shuffle, hammering away at my keyboard, seems like the best option anyhow!
I’d love to hear your honest opinion:
While writing the first draft of my second book, it’s becoming clear that I need to make a decision whether it should include me as a character or not.
As you might know already, the book will be a collection of stories about the animal companions I’ve shared my life with and how they have inspired me and helped me grow as a human being.
It will focus on moments when these animals and I forged a special bond, when each of them taught me something… about them, about life and, in turn, about myself.
At the moment, I am not quite sure how to proceed with the overall concept. See, because the animal stories are connected to my life I am not sure if I should tie in my being transgender or not. In a way it has no real relevance to my friendship and experiences with these animals. But of course first a little girl is together with those animals and over the course of time she turns out to actually be a boy. As the years pass and other animals come into my life, we go from “she” to “he”.
Somehow it wouldn’t be quite truthful to refer to myself as “he” as a little kid when I didn’t yet consciously comprehend who I truly was.
I feel there are two ways of writing this book:
1) If I don’t want being transgender to become a theme in this book at all, I need to create a fictional character, just any kid who grows up with those animals and learns from them. Then it’ll be rather fiction than non-fiction.
2) I leave it as a book telling the story of my animals and me. The book will focus on the animal characters of course. But it will then be a semi-autobiographical piece as well. And it will be necessary to somehow gently add being transgender… (or will it?) … to be as authentic as possible.
I am totally torn, because I don’t want to be stereotyped in the future or even now as a “transgender author”. But I am also aware I have powerful things to say that can potentially make a difference. I have a unique view of the world which maybe I should simply own up to. Then again I’ve always seen myself as “not just transgender”, but as a human being who is the sum of his experiences. All my life I’ve fought stereotypes and felt that it is mostly our obsession with labelling other people and ourselves that creates the most trouble for humanity and prevents inclusion.
So what to do? Any thoughts dear friends and readers? I won’t hold you to it. I could just really do with some honest input and gut feelings from people who can still see the wood for the trees.
Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts with me either here in open discussion or in a PM! xoxo
So much is happening, so many things to think about and organize, focussing on writing my second book has been hard. It’s tough enough as it is, finding time during regular day job days, but even on my days off I have been distracted lately. Every morning, I get up with the best intentions, but then stuff needs to be done, I think, overthink, and get angry at myself for not being able to do it all, not being stronger. I lie awake at night, dreaming and plotting. When I wake up my thoughts are already racing, months ahead of the present…
I miss my wife who is working on a cruise ship on the other side of the world. When she is with me, I am truly home. It seems writing and creating is something I do best when the words flow from a source of deep happiness and belonging.
I miss you so much my love.
I tell myself to get a grip, take things one fish at a time, be disciplined, concentrate, and keep on writing no matter what. Only to put so much pressure on myself that it again becomes almost impossible to focus on the task at hand. I need to find a balance between letting go and being dedicated to my dream. I need to relax and trust myself. Trust that I will finish this book, even if not within the time frame I have set for myself… because art is not an emergency… and life happens.
Better to write well and take all the time I need, instead of writing obsessively fast, ending up with something I know I could have done better. Still, today, after pouring my heart out to you all, I will take a shot at chapter nine of seventeen…