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4 Lessons I Learned: Reading Recollections of My Non-Existence by Rebecca Solnit

18.09.2020 Posted in Red Writing No Comments

I have just put down the new book by Rebecca Solnit, Recollections of My Non-Existence, published in March 2020 by Viking. It portrays a life of a young woman who seeks to become a writer and find her place in a society. Her way to find her place in the modern America is marked by her constantly feeling harrased by men and by fear of violence directed against women silenced by the society. Rebecca Solnit is certainly one of the most prominent modern female writers. The book is masterfullly written. But for me it was much more than enjoyable reading. It was like a psychology book to better understand myself. It described the experiences I have had that I have never managed to express or did not even know about. It awoke many memories that I had a hard time to recognize. It helped me to come to terms with quite a few events of the past when I was the same age as the writer in the book. Rebecca Solnit also shares with the reader her interesting vision of art as well as of gay men in a society from the gender-understanding point of view. On the down side, I expected to learn more about the life of the author and was not very much interested in some of the people portrayed in the book. I also found that some of her experiences were overstated. Nonetheless the book is beautifully written. It helped me immensely to understand so many […]

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Tribute to Sylvaine

21.08.2020 Posted in Red Lifestyle, Red Writing No Comments

If you have been following my blog, you know that I’m working on my book The Choice of a Countess, based on a true story of the incredible R.B. born Intersex. I would like to devote this post to Sylvaine Telesfort who has greatly helped me with my research on the book and who has passed away this summer. Sylvaine was the President of AMIHE, Association of Intersexuality and Hermaphrodism, in Paris. I discovered her association on the Internet while searching for information about people born Intersex and decided to call. Our first telephone conversation lasted for about an hour. She was open, frank and provided a lot of detailes and facts. It was priceless for my book. We met a few days later for breakfast in one of the parisian coffee shops not far from the St Lazar train station. This time I brought a digital recorder to register our conversation. Sylvaine was very generous with her time and knowledge, showing exemplary patience and understanding, particularly at the beginning of our encounters when the subject was still new to me. She patiently answered all my questions, sometimes going over the same issues again and again to help me gain necessary knowledge and to advance with my research. She has also arranged for me to meet a doctor and a good friend of hers, Dr Jean-Pierre Siffroi, a specialist in cytogenetics, from CHU Paris Est – Hôpital d’Enfants Armand-Trousseau, whose input was invalubale for my book.   Born intersex, Sylvaine had […]

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The Discussion over Surgery on Intersex Babies

26.06.2020 Posted in Red Writing No Comments

If you have followed my blog, you know that I’m about to finish writing my book The Choice of a Countess, based on a true story of the incredible R.B. born Intersex. R.B. and I have met by a coincidence. It was on Martinique during Xmas vacations. We were seating next to each on the beach. We started to talk and after spending a few hours together under the hot Carribean sun, the idea of the book was born. I was totally carried away by R.B., her life, inner strength and resilience. However, I did not know anything about the Intersex people. It was the first time that I have met an Intersex person. So in order to write about R.B., I had to do a lot of research about the subject that was new to me. The subject of Intersex individuals is a complex, little known to general public matter and it raises a lot of issues which I somehow had to treat in my book while telling about R.B.. One of them seems to be a discussion (or a battle) on whether intersex babies should be operated. The point of the operation is to give them a gender identity so that they can integrate into society by the time they go to school, be identified as either a man or a woman and avoid zillions of problems they inevitably have to face. The main drawback of the operations is that they are based on the results of a […]

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Woman, Man and Intersex

19.06.2020 Posted in Red Writing No Comments

Dear reader if you have missed my previous post about How much research should you do for your book you can find it here. If you have read some of my previous posts, you know that I’m working on a book The Choice of a Countess based on a true story of R.B. born Intersex. When I have first met R.B. and decided to write about her I did not know very much about Intersex. I was fascinated by R.B., the things she had been through in her life because of this condition she was with and her resiliance. However, it was the first time I was speaking with someone who was born both. None of my friends or people I have met so far were Intersex, at least they have never talked to me about it. All I knew was that the word Hermaphrodite derived from the Greek legend about the water nymph Salamacis, who had fallen in love with the handsome son of Aphrodite and Hermes and asked the gods to unite them forever, being transformed into an androgynous form. In order to write about R.B. it was important for me to learn and understand the Intersex individuals. The first thing I learnt, no matter how basic it sounds, is that hermaphroditism is different from transsexuality. These two things are often misunderstood. There is a difference between being born a man and wanting to become a woman and vice versa which may happen for a number of reasons, […]

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How much research should you do for your book?

12.06.2020 Posted in Red Writing No Comments

Dear reader hope you are holding up despite the recent crisis events – coronavirus, social unrest in America and economic crisis, which will change forever the way we used to live, from travelling to work, to the level of security we are used to and our relationship to each other. If you have missed last week’s post about the Amazing June Almeida, considered a discoverer of human coronavirus, and her passion for discoveries, you find it here. For me working on my book is one of the my remedies which help me to get back into world again and reduce the anxiety. I have nearly finished writing my new book The Choice of a Countess, about an awesome R.B., born intersex and her fascinating life. While I’m re-reading and editing my book, I keep asking myself whether the research that I did was sufficient and how to know when to stop looking for more information and adding it to the book. The right answer is probably – never. New information will keep coming in even after the book is published and it is good to have it, even for personal knowledge. However, while the book is still in the process of editing, new details and facts can be reassuring just as they can be destabilizing. New evidence helps creating scenes and developments, deepen the characters and produce a credible well-developed story. With Internet within an easy reach and Google research brining up more news – when to stop? In case […]

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The Amazing June Almeida

5.06.2020 Posted in Red Lifestyle No Comments

Dear reader hope you are doing fine, wherever you are, with pandemic still ravaging through many countries while others are starting progressive deconfinement with life getting back to normal. If you have missed last week’s post about the research for my new book The Choice of a Countess, about an awesome R.B., born intersex and her fascinating life, you can catch up here. I have been working from home for the past two months. One of my ‘new’ activities to vary my daily routine included reading printed newspapers which I bought from a nearby newspaper kiosk. It was something I did not do very regularly in my pre-pandemic life when I had to rush off to work every morning. A couple of weeks ago, as I rediscovered the pleasure of reading a printed newspaper compared to an on-line edition, I came across an article about an extraordinary woman, June Almeida (née Hart), an internationally renounced virologist. Although she left school at 16 and never went to the university, June Almeida became a known scientist and pioneered new methods for viral diagnosis, considered a discoverer of human coronaviruses. Upon leaving school for financial reasons she became a laboratory technician (a histopathologist) in Glasgow, then moved to London, married a Venezuelan artist and moved to Toronto where she worked at the Ontario Cancer Institute. In Canada it was easier to pursue career without formal degrees. While working int Toronto, June made a number of discoveries, co-authored many scientific publications and became to […]

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Coming Soon: The Choice of a Countess

29.05.2020 Posted in Red Writing No Comments

After making a red food parenthesis in my last week blog post and sharing a recipe of my all-time favorite Beetroot Cured Salmon, I continue sharing the news about my new book The Choice of a Countess devoted to a story of R.B., an awesome woman, born intersex, whom I have met some time ago on the beach in Martinique (to know how we have met and how the idea of the book was born see one of my previous posts by clicking here). Writing a book about R. B. required a substantial research about the intersex in the XXth century France and proved to be complicated due to the scanty information on the subject. Such as due to lack of space, hospital archives in Paris and in Lyon, where R.B. was treated, are kept only for a limited number of years. The files which contained the valuable information for my research about the doctors who treated R.B. and about her treatment were no longer available in 2019. As a result most of the audio and printed materials that I consulted came from the LGBT library in Paris. Interviews were as always an invaluable source of information. Not only I scheduled regular frequent calls with R.B., but I met with friends of R.B., doctors who specialized in this subject, people who had intersex among their friends and were ready share their views on the issue. During the course of my research I also met other people who were ‘born both’ […]

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Red Food parenthesis: Beetroot Cured Salmon

I would like to make a ‘red food parenthesis’ in my posts and share one of my favorite Russian-cuisine-inspired recipes of Beetroot Cured Salmon. It can be served as appetizer or as a main course. Beetroot gives salmon a slightly sweetened taste and adds a unusual red color, making it look appetizing and elegant. Ingredients: 800 gr Salmon filet, skin on 50 gr of Extra Large Sea salt 50 gr of Sugar Sliced beetroot Dill (optional) Steps to make it: Mix Extra Large Salt and Sugar together Lay Salmon Skin down and cut Filet in two halfs Sprinkle Salmon with salt and sugar Cver one of the filets with beetroot and fill Sandwich two filets together Wrap in aluminium foil or in plastic wrap Put in a dish and cover with something heavy which weighs around a pound or more Refrigerate for 12 hours or mre (It can be 24h depending on your taste) Discard accumulated juice, beetroot and dill Slice thinly without the skin, serve with bread, sprinkled with lemon juice Bon appetit!

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Sharing an extract from the new book: The Choice of a Countess

15.05.2020 Posted in Red Writing No Comments

I have nearly finished writing my new book, The Choice of a Countess. It still needs some editing. I would like to share with you an extract from the book, Chapter 1. Feedback is always welcome! “At the age of six, Guy was often prone to anginas. One evening, after two days of a particularly severe cough and elevated temperature, Angele and Louis called a family doctor. He came to see Guy, examined him, asked him to open his mouth and say “Aah”, and wrote out a prescription to take to a pharmacy. Then he told Guy: “Turn you head to the side and cough as strongly as you can.” All of a sudden, Guy felt a cold touch on his lower abdomen. As he continued to cough, he lowered his eyes to see what was going on. To his surprise, the doctor was pulling down his underclothes. It was the doctor’s wedding ring that was touching Guy’s skin. The boy was surprised and expected the doctor to explain what he was doing. Instead, the doctor turned to his parents who were standing beside him and said: “Your son does not have testicles.” Guy remembered that Angele and Louis turned pale. “How is that possible?” “I would not worry. They will descend later.” “Can there be some mistake?” “I would not think so.” Sensing that there were other questions to come, he added: “Come to my office tomorrow at 5PM. We will have time to talk.” Louis accompanied the doctor […]

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The Thirst to Become

The Thirst to Become – food for thought during confinement. Few people know the ‘Russian Socrates’, the Georgian philosopher Merab Mamardashvili (1930-1990). Merab was born in Gori, Georgia. He called his teaching ‘Socratic’ in the sense that it was composed of dialogues. In his life only a few books were published, his lectures (for his style of lecturing he and others called them “conversations” or “dialogues”) were taped and published after his death. One of his teachings focused on the thought that life was in the self-realization and “in fulfillment of oneself as a human being”, that is the fulfillment of the possibilities of one’s character or personality. Some of the most known phrases coined by Mamardashvili are: “consciousness is an experience of inexperiensible experiences”, “phenomenology is the accompanying feature of all the philosophy”, “loneliness is my profession” and so on. I recently came across a short video in which Mamardashvili tells about the Thirst to Become, and about the self-realization “What have I undertaken in order to be born in thought, to become a human being?” which I found particularly interesting during this long period of confinement To watch the video the Thirst to become with English sub-titles

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