I have been rather silent in this space again lately. To some, that may be a blessing. To the rest of you I'm sorry that I just haven't had the energy to produce any new writing. I have been working on my PhD proposal. It has been a bit of a challenge jumping directly from one extremely intense academic writing project right into another. This one is much smaller, but for me it is more stressful, because my acceptance to a PhD programme hinges on a quality proposal.
I need to get into a PhD programme before my visa expires in January in order for me to stay in this country. I have no desire to leave Scotland.
I have now completed the proposal and submitted my application. The feedback I have received has been mostly positive or at least constructive. I do know now that I will have to elevate my writing to a new level if I am to produce anything remotely acceptable as a PhD. (Enter self-doubt.)
In the grand scheme of things, life has been good. I continue to learn how to navigate the world as a single woman. The breakdown of my marriage has passed the open warfare stage and settled into a nice, peaceful coexistence. We are learning to share space according to a new dynamic. It is awkward at times, because old patterns tend to pop up and, while they were comfortable and effective ways to deal with issues in the old regime, the new paradigm often requires a different approach.
The good news is that we are both committed to working out peaceful solutions to our problems. I cannot foresee a time in the future when we will be friends, but at least I can see us being friendly. This is a dramatic improvement.
As I mentioned, academically I am now in waiting mode. I have done all I can do for now, and it is up to the selection committees to determine my next step. No matter how many times I am told that I am well qualified and that I should not worry about admission, I cannot help but wait anxiously for the actual decision. For the next few weeks, at least, it is still going to be a white-knuckle flight.
The grades are in, and I came within a hair's breadth of earning my degree with distinction. One more point on my dissertation and I would have been there. I was briefly disappointed as I had set the goal for myself of earning the distinction, but that quickly passed. I got the grade I deserved on the dissertation. The final chapter was weak. I spent so much time writing the earlier chapters that I only left myself a few days for the last chapter, and the result reflected that. Time management, sweetheart. Time management.
Graduation is next week and I have been asked to do one of the readings as a part of the ceremony. I am quite honoured to have been asked, especially in light of my situation. If there was any discomfort with me at all, they could have asked someone else to do the reading and no one would have been the wiser.
Now, I have my first chance to get in front of a hall full of people and speak as a woman. I am naturally a ham and usually relish these opportunities. This time I am scared to death. Almost all the people in the audience will have no knowledge of me and when I step in front of them, I do not want them freaked out by a deep, male voice coming out of my mouth. I have yet to find anything that will help me to shift my voice to a less male range without sounding completely fake. Also, I tend to revert to a deeper voice naturally when I am in stressful situations. Not a good combination.
The good news here is that if I crash and burn, I will have a chance to get right back on the horse and try again a few weeks later. At the end of this month. I am presenting a paper at a Peace and Development conference at the University of Bradford. This will be my first public presentation outside the safety of my own College. Truth is, I am more worried about covering my travel expenses than I am about presenting. Now that I have finished my course, I no longer have my scholarship and my pension only goes so far. The conference is aimed at students and junior scholars and does not have a budget to assist with presenter's expenses. I have to travel about 6 hours and stay over night in order to get there on time in the morning. Since I never know how someone will react to the fact that I store my boobs in a drawer at night, sharing a room with a stranger is out of the question. I'm thinking of starting a "Get Becky to Bradford Fund"
All in all, for a woman with nothing official to do, I am a pretty busy girl. My twin sister Michelle (michellelianna.wordpress.com) has been covering the trans-related philosophy pretty darned well as usual. It would be easier to explain most of my thoughts and feelings on these subjects by just having you read her blog and then me saying "What she said." I do now plan to return to waxing philosophical in this space now (lucky you). My next post will be a celebration of friendship.
I hope that those of you have followed my adventure through the months will find your way back here now that I am writing the blog again. I will try to write things that make it worth your time.