Crack that nut

Jokes that fell flat. Worry that my film friends have moved beyond me and no longer want to be my friends. Yet another message from my uncle. The amount of chemical backlash in my body from sheer terror is massive.

Goddess, where do I start?

Sent out a group message to the film crew. Made a joke about the director just telling R he was cut from the film (2 months late) and the ensuing conversation. Received one reply: we already knew about that. No laughs, no giggles, just cut short. That’s the biggest thing on my mind. I know they’re busy with job hunting, etc., but…well. I expected at least a giggle emoji in reply. Especially from S, the casting director to whom I thought/hoped I had a real connection. Maybe the time of that friendship is over. That happens. Circumstances make you friends, and circumstances can pull friendships apart. My biggest fear is that I’ll get an even bigger bite from someone in the group, some comment along the line of ‘Gee, the film is over. You’re an old woman. You’re nice and all, but we’re not really friends.’ That fear prevents me from asking if something is going on, if I’ve misstepped or said something that threw a wrench into the whole thing.

On the flip side, ran into B, a fellow ex-pat who’s been coming to my script readings and calls me by my pen name, and O, her friend. Saw them at the library yesterday when I renewed my membership. Talked for over two hours, left with hugs and hopes that we’ll get together after I’ve recovered from surgery. That felt good. My bro doesn’t like B nor her husband. That sucks; I can’t come home and say ‘I had a great conversation with B’ because he doesn’t like her. Always a nasty comment in return. I like B, and her husband. They’re very pleasant with me, very understanding and supportive. And I feel a real need to have a few friends. People who know ME, who like ME. Not people I’ve met through my brother, who are my brother’s approved friends. I’ve done that. For years and years. And it’s helped keep me safe. But now I have to do things differently. I’m moving beyond the sphere of influence my brother has and into a separate arena. Music, fine. My brother’s heavily involved, very educated and skilled, and very adept at putting projects together. I nod to his expertise. But he’s nothing to do with theatre, or writing. I need other people now. Other supports, other critiques – even if my brother doesn’t like them.

I’m not willing to exchange one kind of control for another. I listen to my brother’s gripes, his opinions. I take that as advice: be aware. Be careful. On certain levels, these people could be untrustworthy. I acknowledge that as a truth. And I hope, with my brother’s constant judgements, to hold an even keel and a steady head as I work my way through this jungle of networking.

Sickening jolts of fear running through my body. It’s like a timed flush, or a menopausal hot flash. I can feel it coming on. Feel the chemical dump, my heart rate race. I hate it. And I breathe deeply, do my best to calm myself. Got so bad at one point last night I couldn’t talk. Only breathe. Telling myself it’s like pain; it’ll pass, just get through it. And I do get through them, but the next time it hits me it’s just as bad, just as frightening, just as sickening.

Message from my uncle. Meh. What do I say? Yet another attempt – a blatantly obvious attempt, at least to me – to test the lines of communication between us. It’s what my family does: insult you to the hilt, ’til you can’t take it anymore and throw a fit, then come timidly back, testing the waters to see if you’ll still bite their head off. They never apologize, never approach the topic head-on. Don’t speak of the past; pretend it never happened. I hate that. Hate that approach, hate everything about it. One more way to enforce silence.

I will no longer be silent.

My mother – my uncle’s “saintly” sister and beloved nurse anesthetist – physically abused me. The physical abuse was covert; I never had a black eye or broken arm. But it was there. It happened. Of course, the physical abuse was just a set up for the mind fuck she pulled on me. Still not quite used to that look of shock that comes over someone’s face when I tell them some of my childhood secrets. She did that to you? Yeah. Yeah, she did. Repeatedly.

And the shock registered here, in the Netherlands, is far beyond anything else I’ve seen. Because they really care. Mental health isn’t an “issue” to be feared, and people with problems aren’t freaks. Many people have sought counseling for things that, when I hear them, I can’t help but have a moment of ‘wow, you thought THAT was bad?!?’. So when I tell them about things like the old adage of ‘you’re too smart to make such a dumb mistake’, or the fact that the first time I had my hair washed at a salon I was convinced they did it wrong because it didn’t hurt, they look at me with real bewilderment.

Getting well…it’s kind of like writing. You start with just spewing out everything. But eventually you get around to editing. You get down to the nitty gritty. I began my journey with my stories, no judgements, no classifications, just ‘this is what happened to me’. Then, I adopted the idea of physical abuse. Just the idea; I could write it, but I couldn’t say it. Now, I’ve edited it down. I can lead with ‘my mother was physically abusive to me’. It’s hard to say. Hard to say just that and nothing else. But that’s the kernel of truth behind all my stories.

Crack that nut, and everything else gets a little easier.

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Working on it

Language class. I turned in the Roald Dahl yesterday. Felt like I was giving up something precious, a well-loved toy. But my enthusiastic review of the book has more than one person in class interested in reading it, so…*sigh*…let them read it. Half the class left at break; next week is vacation and many were leaving early to head off to exotic places. The second half of class was warm. Intimate, even. Our teachers asked each of us what we most wanted to learn next semester, and gave us time to chat away (and get corrected on grammar). They also gave us a verbal review of our progress and work. The one thing we all heard was ‘slow down’. Forming Dutch sentences is difficult. Perfect past tense verbs get split, and personally I find it damned hard to remember the last part of the verb pairing in a long sentence.

I am in the top percentile. No more doubt about it. That terribly tricky article we had for homework was discussed. As usual, I went far beyond most. Most of the class hadn’t even read it through. Fewer still had tried to answer the questions. We tried reading it through, stumbling over those terribly long compound words, getting stopped every other sentence to be asked ‘do you know what this means?’. In the end, the teachers’ assessment was that their top three students found it rather difficult, so they weren’t going to push the matter. And yes, I was included in that top three student assessment.

Ach! They look at me differently. My teachers, that is. I can see it in their eyes. It’s almost an inside joke feel. They know I’m doing the work, they know I’m improving leaps and bounds over the others. My instructions are to keep reading, keep watching Dutch films and programs, keep writing. Had a flash of panic as they talked about my progress; was worried I was going to hear (once again) ‘You need to move up a level’. So I told them I loved the class, thought they were outstanding instructors, but please, please don’t make me go up a level yet because I need more practice right where I am. They smiled. I was assured they weren’t going to make me go to another class, that I was welcome to sit in on these lessons as long as I wanted.

Thank you, Goddess!

Yesterday evening provided me with a good laugh. Just so happened to be online and on FB when a message popped up on my screen. It was from R, my co-star in the film whose scenes got cut. It was totally in Dutch. I understood it immediately, tho I couldn’t reply in Dutch. He said ‘Just heard I got cut from the film. Have you seen the final version yet?’ Now, the job of telling him he was cut from the final was up to S, the director. It was a joke at the premiere that he was dragging his feet on it, and not saying anything to R. My first thought was ‘he finally got around to it’. So I messaged S, telling him I just got a note from R asking about the film. S replied quickly, saying yes, he’d just told R about the film and he didn’t think R was taking it too well. LOL! I am online so rarely and not really connected with my phone, so call it dumb luck or providence, but I found myself involved in ‘The Student Film Scandal’ (which is what I’ll call it, and it gets capitalized because it’s been a running gag for MONTHS now) in real time. Back and forth I went, both R and S online and messaging me.

To R, I did what I told the crew to do in the first place: I played to his ego. My first reply to him was that yes, he had been cut in the final, that it was sad but I also knew he’s a pro and probably had it happen before. That soothed a lot of anger away. He then asked me what I thought of the film. I replied that I think the crew got what they wanted, and when you take into consideration the lack of lighting equipment and tight spaces we were working with, it turned out very well. I also shared with him that I thought I looked terrible due to the poor lighting. He came back quickly, saying maybe it was better he wasn’t in the film if it had such bad lighting. I replied with a joke, telling him every wrinkle on my face was blown up horribly, so yes, it was probably a good thing he wasn’t in it. He ended the conversation with laughter.

Kept S informed of what I saying to R. Admonished him a bit for not doing it in the first place, but hey! S is young. Probably never fired anyone before, whereas I have had plenty of that experience. In the end, my conversation with S was light and laughter filled. Hell! I made both of them laugh, so I guess I did that pretty well.

What I didn’t say to either of them was that I always see myself as unattractive. Never ugly, just unattractive. I’m an almost. Almost pretty. I see it every time I look at myself. Or, that’s what I think. I’m a little too heavy, my face doesn’t have the right angles to it, my teeth are a little crooked, etc. etc. Almost. It takes decades before I can look back at a picture and just see ME. Then, I can acknowledge it: wow, I was pretty back then. I can’t do it real time. So I wasn’t shocked or surprised at all by what I saw on screen.

I’m learning. Slowly. Both the language and a bit of self acceptance.

I know my vision mind is skewed.

I’m working on it.

Let it go

Answer one: Amsterdam is on. Even tho half the cast isn’t coming. Surprised, but apparently the theatre knows we’ll only doing an hour’s show and they’re fine with that. The play is four individual scenes, and two of them will not be performed. More time for me on stage, then. Now, naturally, I’m concerned about my surgery only two weeks before curtain up. Oh, well. I’ll make it. Might not be feeling my best, but unless everything goes wrong and I end up in hospital again, I can do it.

Ah, Beeps! Take the bright side. You’ll be able to strut your stuff in Amsterdam. Who knows who might see your work? Who knows where it could lead? And it’s one more city you can add to your list of performances. A big city, with a lot of oomph behind it. Them’s crowing rights, that is.

My brother asked me yesterday to please do my best to slow down and take it easy. Don’t go to the gym, he said, you know how easy you hurt yourself. Did what I could to comply. Ran films all day, as I said I would. Tried some straight horror, some funny horror, some comedy. And can I say, I own a copy of Cowboys v Aliens and I watched it yet again yesterday and I STILL don’t know what the story is because I find it so irritatingly boring it loses my interest within five minutes. It’s neither a good western nor a good alien film. And Craig Daniel’s accent is terrible. Awful, awful stuff. But that was me yesterday: running too fast to just watch anything (much less a film I deem unworthy of my attention).

Trying to just take my morphine pills at night so I don’t bite down hard on that broken tooth. I want to just gobble them up. Take me away, Calgon. At least until I have the surgery done. But I’m holding back, talking myself down from total panic every time it creeps up on me. Not easy, and I don’t enjoy that sickening jolt of adrenaline or whatever it is that shoots through my body during those moments. It hits me, and I want to vomit and shake but I don’t allow myself to do either. Difficult shit to breathe through.

Well. Now I can add running lines to my list of things to keep me occupied.

Today is filled with the task of making cookies. Oooo! Tough stuff. The first batch of lembas is gone, and we need more. Probably a good thing for me: a child’s task for a childish mind. And I realize I missed the boat yesterday with my film choice; shoulda tried kids’ films. That’s where I am: childish reading material, childish tasks, childish mind. Go with the flow. Today will be cartoons and…well, cartoons. I’ve got a lot of them.

Can’t help but notice it feels like the pressure is mounting. Oral surgery, Amsterdam, psychiatrist… Feels like I’m on a rising wheel. Like things could continue to spiral into more and more excitement, both good and bad. I guess that’s up to me, and how I handle it. Can I bash my mother again for not teaching me this shit? At the point where I realize it doesn’t matter if she’s responsible for it or not; I’ve got to deal with it. I can either spend my time hating her for how she handled things, or use my time healing myself. And you know what? She ain’t worth it. She ain’t worth spending the rest of my days talking about or bemoaning this or that. She ain’t worth it.

I am.

…Had to work to get my shoulders to relax after that.

Right. Forward, march. I know what’s in front of me, at least to some extent. Let’s go down with our hands up, whooping all the way. No matter what. After all, they told you to bring someone with you because you’re gonna be so loopy post-surgery. You gonna be drugged up to your eyeballs, woman. Enjoy it. You know what that’s like.

Realized I’ll need to move my last jaw physio. Right now it’s scheduled for less than a week after surgery. I really don’t think I’ll want to have my jaw rubbed and pulled at that point.

But that’s something to do some other time. It’s Sunday, and all I gotta do is get through today. Preferably safely and pain free.

*sigh* There is no pressure other than what you put on yourself. There is no pressure other than what you put on yourself! One more time: THERE IS NO PRESSURE OTHER THAN WHAT YOU PUT ON YOURSELF!

Let it go.

I’ve been told I’ve been wrong before

Imagine, if you will, a thin, eerie whistling. …You’ve just entered the empty inbox zone.

Okay. Now it isn’t just mania. Going on five days since I heard about the possibility of performing in Amsterdam. Same amount of time with the read through, and still nothing. Nothing…nothing…nothing. The nothing is so LOUD it echoes. Feels like there must be worlds of conversation going on without me. Plans being made, ideas being discussed – and I’m out of the loop. Maybe that’s just paranoia, tho it won’t be the first time I’ve actually been left out. Seems to happen an extraordinary amount of times to me. I was ignored and left out of my family. I was ignored and left out by people I called my friends. Can’t help but get triggered by the silence; it’s so damned familiar to me. I can feel myself built walls: Well, I don’t need them or Next time I’ll be a bit more stand-offish. Defense in this case is okay; offense is not. I cannot take the lead. I must only react to what’s given me. Don’t ask me where that law is written. If I knew, I’d go and destroy it.

…Part of it, I know, comes from long and old memories of being told I was interpreting situations incorrectly. No, people weren’t ‘making fun of me’ like I felt they were or I was just ‘in my head and over-thinking as usual’. I’ve been taught to doubt myself at every turn. Have to remind myself those lessons came at the hands of people with whom I’ve broken contact because they’re totally screwed up. …Difficult, tho. Those early experiences get so burned into your soul.

In this case, my recourse is simple: ask. I’ve full rights to send out an email or two, asking about Amsterdam and the status of my script. Amsterdam is easy to ask about. The script…not so much. I face rejection on a couple of levels with the script, and I find myself reluctant to begin poking the bear just to get a reaction. Timing in life – as in comedy – is sometimes everything. Ask at the wrong time and you’ll get rejected big time. Wait, wait, wait until the wheels are in the correct alignment and you can ask for the moon. My instinct tells me to wait on the script and I’m gonna listen to that part of me.

Got a lot of nothing on my plate today. Cleaned the house before the web people came for the meeting with my bro, so that’s kind of already done. My homework is finished. I finished reading Roald Dahl and am well into the other book. And, biggest of all, it’s my bro’s comic book day so he’s out of the house all afternoon. Not sure what I’ll keep myself occupied with, tho a horror film spree while I play games sounds quite inviting. I should go and run the animal, too. Tho I’ve got to admit, I feel pretty damned lazy right now. Don’t know I’ll even get out of my pj’s.

…You know, maybe I should learn to clarify that pj point. I’ve said to doctors that I often stay in my pj’s all day and they get that look on their faces (you know the one) and then write ‘depression’ in my file. I’m not sad in my jammie-jams. I’m happy. It’s freeing and fun. It says ‘I don’t care what the world throws at me, I’m safe and warm and can do whatever I want, including closing my eyes and going to sleep right now’. Don’t you get that? I’m far more depressed in grown-up clothes, all tight and uncomfortable. Can you sit in a cross-legged position easily with jeans on? No? Then why wear them? I want freedom, full movement. Give me a big, soft bag to wear and I’m 100% secure. And when I feel secure, I’m better able to be happy. To allow myself some time and care.

While I’m on a rant, the same thing goes for make-up. Why, oh why, do people assume if a woman doesn’t wear make-up she’s either (a) depressed or (b) a lesbian? Why is it “okay” to wear a bunch of war paint that isn’t you out into the public arena? Why is it socially acceptable to feel good about yourself if you do up your eyes, your lips, wear high heels and dresses, but NOT okay to be happy bumming around in rags? I’ll admit: the make-up and tight clothes and high heels ARE attractive. Even I find them so. But I spent years doing that, and you know what? I’d rather not do it anymore. I’d rather my feet be comfortable in sneakers or my orthopedics. I’d rather my waist bands be loose so I can turn and run and do things. I’d rather my nails be short so I can type fast. I’d rather my hair be out of my face so I can see what I’m doing. I’d rather my skin be healthy and free from dead animal secretions and toxins. Why is that wrong? And why do you think I’m depressed for feeling that way?

Why, too, is it wrong to not want a sexual relationship? Why must we all fuck, fuck, fuck, right up to our dying day? Don’t you realize how much time that takes away from what I find truly important? Don’t you recognize the same old patterns, played out time and time again through the fucking eons? Don’t you see how empty the word “love” has become?

…I’m just flabbergasted that people don’t recognize this shit. Wonder at it, as I do.

*sigh* But I’ve been told I’ve been wrong before…

Hang in there

Bad things come in three. I was told that as a child and, strange though it seems, it’s held true in my life.

Today’s calamity: a broken molar and infection. Just back from the dentist. Found the infection last night, headed off first thing today. It’s not at the root, and there’s nothing they can do about the break, so it’s out with it. The doc said I have to go to hospital for the procedure, that he was afraid if he did it there’d be complications and I’d end up at hospital anyway.

Oh, yes. Let’s compound my dental horror with a phone call in Dutch. Got through it, though. I have an appointment in two weeks, and hope between a little bit of good luck and my pain pills that I can make it to the appointment without my face ballooning up or me screaming in agony.

Hell.

And that’s on top of me gathering up every ounce of courage yesterday and making that appointment with the psychiatrist (set for 22 March).

Gods. Getting old sucks.

My bro has an appointment here with some web consultants this morning, so I’m not smoking in the house. And I cut my smoking short outside the house, because it’s early and everyone’s dragging toddlers and small children around to school or creches. Ye Gods! Nothing will make you feel more like a drug addict than standing outside a building at 9 am. blowing a joint as people take their kids to school.

Doing my best to be brave. Really, really afraid right now. Doodbang (scared to death), as the Dutch say. Best to distract myself as much as possible.

I’m not fucking around; took a pain pill when I got back from the dentist and I will continue to gobble them the moment I feel any bit of pain from my jaw. Fuck it. I’ll deal with any backlash from a morphine spree once the problem is solved. Just wanted to be absolutely fucking clear on that.

Managed to bumble through the remainder of my homework. My brain worked hard to understand the article and accompanying questions. Don’t know that I actually got it; I’ll find that out on Monday. But I gave it a go, and didn’t just throw my hands up in the air and NOT do it. I get points for trying, right?

Finished Roald Dahl, started on the second book. So far, so good. It’s a story. Some of what I was reading was nothing more than lines of sentences strung together. No adjectives, no motives, no reasoning. Just ‘he did this; he said that’. SNORE. I know that’s the soup de jour in literature, particularly American literature, but SNORE! I find it boring. If the moon doesn’t sail or the stars don’t twinkle…well, it’ ain’t my world. Go live in your grown-up, no frills, everything in shades of grey with lashings of sadomasochism shit hole of a world. Go fuck each other, lie to each other, betray each other, cheat, steal, and be the horrors that every mother everywhere dreads.

I reject that. Totally.

…Still have not made a phone call to get my orthopedics adjusted. lol. Seems like small shit now.

I can and will rise above this. It’s not the end of the world, not the end of my life. It will not cripple me nor destroy me. It’s just one of those things. A hiccup, a bad fall, an accident. Not my fault, not anyone’s fault (except, perhaps, the hack dentists my mother took me to when I was young who just drilled my teeth mercilessly).

Got a tension headache. Again. Made mention to my jaw physiotherapist about having cluster headaches; she told me that’s definitely stress and tension. Meh. Maybe you should just take my brain out and solve the whole bleeding problem at once! No more thinking, no more stress, no more pain. Wouldn’t that be nice?

…Fuck.

Now I sit, waiting. Waiting for the dentist appointment at the hospital, waiting for the psychiatrist appointment… I do not like waiting. Especially when I’m afraid, and I’m afraid of both these things. My brother is doing what he can to help me. Hugs, understanding, all of it. I don’t know how I got so lucky with him. But thank you again, Universe, for making it so.

Hang in there, baby. I remember seeing the poster above (or one very much like it) in my grade school office. It was new back then and I found myself liking the adults in the office all the more for putting it up. It made them a little more human; up ’til that point I didn’t know adults might feel that way. Certainly my robotic female parental unit never gave any hint of feeling that way (or feeling much of anything, actually). *sigh* Is everything going to keep reinforcing this child-like feeling in me? Like, for the rest of eternity?

Or is this just the Universe telling me I am a child? Or that I need to grow up? Or that it’s all okay and I just need to accept it? Please! Can you spell it out in the sky with letters fifty feet high? Everywhere I turn I get triggered. I am so tired of trying to be adult. Of trying to be brave. I just don’t want to do it anymore. I want to cry and shake and be held, and hear ‘it’ll all be okay’ and BELIEVE it.

The best I can do right now is keep telling myself to hang in there.

Hang in there.

Hang in there…

So be it

“Mijn dokter heeft een briefje voor me…a-a-achterlaten. …Is dat correct?”

Yes, my Dutch was correct and yes, I actually stuttered. Stuttered, for fuck’s sake. I tried to be smooth, fluent. I practiced before I went to the doc’s office. But when the time came, I got got that hit of anxiety/excitement/self-doubt and the words stuck in my throat. I don’t ever remember doing THAT before.

Physio. I like my physiotherapist for my jaw. She’s very nice, and we chat mostly in English but she’ll throw some Dutch words at me so I can hear them. Back and forth, little phrases and words. I’m so grateful when people let me do that – throw in Dutch words when I can but use English when I must. I’m also grateful for the little corrections and help people give me. Not that I’ll remember most of it; it isn’t written down. Nonetheless, I love them for trying. As usual, my jaw hurt post therapy. She really pulls on that big muscle on the side of my face. On my ‘taking care of myself’ kick, I decided to pop some pain pills to make sure, once again, that my jaw didn’t go wonky at night when I slept. Better to drug it away than experience that level of pain again. I’ve one more appointment with her as a follow-up. Could probably use more; that muscle is as tight as a band of iron. And, honestly, it feels good to be a bit pampered, to have someone rub my facial muscles and soothe my aches – even if it does set off that burning sensation afterwards.

Gobbled up more words. Just sat and read. I spent the day with Dan and his father out in the woods, poaching pheasants. …My brother was right. Again. I can feel how I’m eating this – the phrases, the prepositions, the grammar. I am again reminded of my earlier years, reading and re-reading the same books over and over again until I could quote passages from them. It’s how I learn to use words. How I find things that help me describe my feelings and viewpoints. The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, LLR, Asimov’s entire catalogue – these were my meals when I was younger. Doing this in Dutch just makes me that much more aware of it. I keep catching myself thinking things like ‘oh, it’s aan, not bij’ or ‘so that’s how you say that’. My emotional link to these stories is intense. I remember one time – vividly. Was reading LLR for the 12 time (or something close to that) and making food at the same time. Big mistake. Popped into the next room to ‘just read a paragraph or two’ and the next thing I knew my mother was at my side, berating me for letting the food burn on the stove. She threatened to take my books away. I knew it was an empty threat at that point, that books would always be available to me and there was nothing she could do about it. I also remember being ready to take sides, and if my mother was asking me to choose between books and her, she was gonna lose. Every time. She could never feed my soul like those stories could.

I’ve a scant 30 pages left in the Roald Dahl, and I’m already feeling sad because I know the end is coming. However, I must admit to curiosity in the new book my teacher gave me. Another kids’ story. I opened the book up, just to take a look at it, and immediately my eyes focused on the words and I began to read. …There’s a part of me – a small part – who’s ashamed and embarrassed to sit in a public place and read a book written for someone 40 years younger than me. I had to overrule her yesterday as I waited for my physiotherapist. I’ve actually resorted to taunting myself in my head ‘Oh, c’mon! Who cares? You’re reading! You’re not so chicken shit that you’re just gonna sit there, are you?’ [And, as a side note, once I overruled that part of me I fell right into that deep reading trance. So deep my physiotherapist had to speak to me to catch my attention.]

My brother has already taken the time yesterday to once again tell me our house is damned clean, that I don’t need to do much, that I should really just stay chillin’. I verbally compromised, scaling back my tall ideas of a total scrub down to ‘running the hoover around and cleaning up the table’ which was acceptable to my bro. Gotta stick around until my injections are delivered. They usually come in the afternoon, so that means (yes!) I’ll have loads of time to read.

And phone. calls. Must do, or try to do. Picked up that referral letter from my doc. Two pages long. A third was a listing of diagnoses – including depression. A third was a listing of my medications – numerous, and depressing in their own right. The last third she gave over to a short explanation of my back and forth, up and down, smoking and swearing I’ve got it under control at this point. There was one line that caught my eye. I haven’t fully translated it, just gave it as good a read through as I could. But it’s a note about by-passing the traditional clinics and just getting me to someone ASAP. I’m not sure I want to translate that sentence. If she thinks I’m really bad, that’ll make ME feel bad for being in such bad shape, and it’ll just feed on itself. …Hm. Maybe I’ll just let that one go. But…time to pick up the phone. The good house phone, not my crappy mobile. I’ll give myself as good a chance of being able to understand the Dutch as I can. And if the words get stuck in my throat and I have to use English, well…so be it.

Allow yourself to dream

Woke up this morning with all enthusiasm for my script gone. I was/am feeling certain the group won’t do it. It’s all the way through me, not just an imagining in my head. Total acceptance. Some might say I had a bad dream. Others might say my subconscious put together some puzzle pieces my conscious mind couldn’t or wouldn’t. And what has sparked this? A message – a slightly niggling message – out on my Google email regarding a reprisal of last season’s play. A theatre in Amsterdam has an opening in April, and we’ve been asked to fill it. Seems I was the only one left to weigh in on the topic, since ‘everyone else is on WhatsApp’. Hm. While I’m not opposed to doing the play again, I am very conscious of the time commitment needed to do it and do it well – a time commitment that will take the group away from deciding on this season’s play, time away from auditions and work on something new. Namely, my script. It may push the timeline back far enough that we won’t have enough days to produce my work.

…Right. Had to apologize to my bro. Woke up late and ‘loaded for bear’, as the saying goes. Slammed around in the kitchen, doing dishes. Snapped at my bro. Sheesh. Well, I overslept, obviously got triggered, and didn’t have a moment to myself to write. Hardly any wonder I’d slam around, angry. *sigh* Nonetheless, an apology was warranted. Got a hug in return, and a bit of conversation. That’s good medicine.

Managed to get to the gym yesterday. Knocked myself out and fell asleep around 6 in the evening for a half hour nap. Ah, nothing like running the animal hard to make it docile. And she was happy at the gym, smiling away as our heart rate pumped up to 150+. Out of practice, though. Extra creaky and sore afterwards. Tried to take a look at my homework, but the Dutch just swam in front of my eyes. Little wonder; it’s an article about gas extraction and the accompanying earthquakes. Important, but BORING and strewn with words 30 letters long. Oh, Gods! No wonder I feel so sluggish reading that shit. It inspires nothing in me. And it reveals no new information, other than current public reaction. Puh-leeze! I make no bones about my distaste for most public reactions. They are, by and large, mob mentality reactions, ignorant of the facts yet bullheadedly stubborn in their feelings of righteousness. …Ach! And yet I know I need these words, the 30 letter ones that make that voice in my head say things like ‘fair-kur-bick-elick-em-(mumble, mumble)’, which isn’t even CLOSE to the correct pronunciation, it’s just gibberish because there’s too many flipping letters to drag myself through! Argh! Answered a couple of questions, left the rest for later. It makes my brain hurt.

No phone calls – yet. Today is my follow up physio and I decided I’d be gentle with myself: I left the task of picking up the referral letter to this afternoon, when I’m there for my appointment. Tomorrow is a home day, while I wait for my injections to be delivered. That’s cleaning and phone call territory.

Today I just want to calm down.

Been saying that a lot. Been hearing it a lot, too: calm down (or, in Dutch, ‘rustig!’). And I work at that, reaching a delicate balance that suffices until the next calamity strikes. But it’s taking its toll. Still having tooth and jaw pain. Still snapping at people. Still feel like I want to crawl out of my skin. Nothing is fast enough. It’s only 10 am.? Only Monday[I know it’s Wednesday; this has been going on a while]? What, has time suddenly decided to crawl through the rest of eternity? Good Goddess! The only thing my mind really seems to slow down for is simple Dutch reading. The fairy tales and kids’ stories. Give me that article on gas extraction and I zone the fuck out; give me Roald Dahl and I slow down to savor it. I can’t understand the gas extraction article fast enough, and I’m impatient. I want it, now. Now, now, now, now, now!

…Had to take a moment to get that id under control. Quite a terror.

My emails continue to have nothing in them. No peep, no follow up, no telling me what the status of anything is. Don’t know if I’ll be performing in Amsterdam in April. Don’t know if anything’s been forwarded or talked about with the Board. Don’t know if the artistic director in the states has even looked at my stuff (tho, of all my gripes, she’s the least on the list). Telling myself it’s only been two days – not even a full 48 hours – since the read through. That I only replied to the Amsterdam performance a scant 12 hours ago. But I feel like it’s been months since all of that, and that little girl id in me can’t understand what’s taking everyone so bleeding long.

Rustig. If the only thing you can slow down for is fairy tales in Dutch, use it. Read. Sit in your big chair and indulge. You know you want to; that starving part of you has been screaming for more, more, more since you woke her up. Screw the gym. Take care of the part of you that’s in the worst shape – and that isn’t your ass! It’s that wonder-filled little girl who always takes the time to smell the roses, and stare up at the twinkling stars. She never is in such a hurry she can’t enjoy flowers poking up from the earth, or the smell of autumn leaves decaying under her feet, or the eggshell blue of the sky. You have been pushing for months: the play, the film, the language. Stop! No; allow yourself to stop. You keep doing it, staring off in the distance, but then you shake it off and get back to work. Allow yourself to stare.

Allow yourself to dream.

Writer

This. is why. I’m going. to a psychiatrist! So said I at midnight, still bouncing off walls while brushing my teeth.

The read through…wow. First, I’ll note how disappointed I am in the “members” of the theatre group. Other than the director, myself, and the guy who set up the read through, ZERO members showed. Everyone fucking blew it off. Trying to not take it as a diss on me or my work. But we had 9 people who claimed they had interest and said they’d show. Nine. Second: We did have six newbies show up from the FB post. Thank goodness! Without them, it would have been difficult to give it a read through at all. And it’s always nice to meet new people with similar interests. Third: oh, Goddess! Nothing will take the wind out of your sails like a bad read though of your words. And although the first words out of my mouth were and are ‘Thank you’, even I have to admit it was a BAD read through. These people claim they know English? Stumbling through simple words, unable to pronounce half the text…if I read aloud like that in my language class I’d be kicked down a level. Absolutely awful. That’s not even mentioning the flat delivery, or the almost inaudible voice of one person who sat right next to me yet even I could barely hear her! Saving grace: two of the readers were decent. They carried it.

Since everyone who mattered in the decision on this script was absent, it’s still got to be approved by the Board. Glad to say the director and the member who set it up both like the story, so I’ve got two people who’ll vote ‘do it’. No idea when a decision might come down the tube. With their track record, it might be another month. Or maybe it’ll be easy for them: We don’t have to pay her, so let’s just do it.

Best of all, yes – they all got the unspoken meaning and reason for the trilogy. And, as I walked back to the metro with the director, he again brought up Lovecraft and compared my work to that master of terror. The director is a well read, articulate guy, so I have high respect for his literary opinion.

I can write.

But, yeah. Bouncing off walls. Up late, too excited to try to sleep. Oh! And I forgot to mention the kicker (at least for me). Mentioned to the director that as long as he’s taking the helm, I’ll take a role if he needs me to. He turned to me with large eyes and said “I should hope so! I want you in this!” Ah…to be acknowledged on two fronts. My ego is full. And to have a chance to play one of these high-octane characters -! Speak my own words?!? Oh YES! PLEASE!

Full disclosure, I took a morphine pill last night to (1) calm the fuck down and (2) prevent myself from biting down on my teeth again since I knew it began from mania and I was (and am) as wound up as can be.

Today is as full of stuff – or as empty – as I want it to be. My choice. The weather is crisp and clear this morning, and it almost feels like I’m starting anew. Things I may or may not do include a visit to the gym, tackling two needed phone calls in Dutch, reading, and starting on my homework. I could also duck out of the house to meet my brother at the library so I can get a new library card. Might do that…the sunshine out my window is awfully tempting and considering everything a little shake-up of my norm is probably a good idea.

One of those phone calls I could make today is to make an appointment with a local psychiatrist. Saw my doc on Monday regarding my mental health (YEESH! It was difficult to write those words!). Cried a little. She was very understanding. So now I’m holding this phone number. Need to pop by the doc’s office and pick up a referral letter, too. Then call, set a date, get my brain picked, and get some pills. Mentioned to my doc how I often can’t even tell you how I’m feeling before writing. She thought that was interesting. Have to admit I’m a bit curious to see what this referral letter says. My Dutch is good enough I’ll be able to read all of it. Finally.

Follow through. Remember that! Steady, slow progress. You don’t have to tackle the world today, or even this week. Take a bite today. A bite tomorrow. And put on that brave persona. The one you hauled out on holidays, the one who knew she could leave behind all the angst and shyness simply by choice. You can be whoever you want to be. Finally, keep in mind that you’re harder on yourself than anyone else. No one remembers your flubs like you do. And you’ve cut all those awful people out of your life, the ones who liked to nag at you and verbally remind you of all the times you fucked up. …Hell, woman! You’ve got a cheerleading section these days.

Yes. S and the rest of the film crew. The director here. The artistic director in the states. Even my teachers. Such a glow in Monday’s lesson! And why not? Even I could hear how my language popped up a level after reading through that book. …A couple of other students wrote their essays – half sheets, a small paragraph. Me? Five pages of A4 paper with small, tight hand writing. I received a gratifying gasp from my teacher. In perfect Dutch, I said ‘I can make my homework shorter, but I really want the practice.’ She smiled, and said no, please keep writing just as much as I want.

I am, and always will be, a writer.

No more of that

Finished writing my essay for class. Still have to recopy it, but the many grammatical and spelling checks I do are done. Think I have a couple of wonky sentences, but I don’t know how better to write them. Dahl showed up in my writing a few times. His word tempo, prepositional phrase use…he even taught me the word ‘schemering’ (twilight), and of course I used it. Found myself using a few words he taught me, in fact. That’s something I just do, and as I’ve grown as a writer I’ve become more cautious in allowing myself to read while I write. Give me Jane Austen and I’ll give you Pride and Prejudice 2. Feed me Roald Dahl and I’ll puke out a children’s story. Immerse me in Tolstoy and the Russian side of me will surface. It’s a fact about myself I refuse to see as a weakness. It’s just a literary tic, and, in fact, it’s got its uses. I found it particularly easy to slide into the Russian lilt during Taman because I’d just recently finished Tolstoy.

This behavior does make me think I’ve a touch of autism. That suck-it-all-up and spit it back out habit. If you don’t give me the words to begin with, I can’t start. I don’t know where to start. And it’s short phrases and idioms that trip my trigger. Learning ‘huis’ or ‘loop’ is fine for simple things, but I’ve gotta have the ‘time to get out of Dodge’ phrases. In Dutch, it’s been ‘Ik ben in de war’ (I am confused – a handy phrase to know) and ‘Wat is er aan de hand?’ (What’s going on?). I feel like my entire understanding of the language has been built on these two phrases. And the more of those phrases I get, the stronger becomes my foundation.

This dual language thing, now…that’s new to me. Refreshing. I can run at two speeds: high speed intellectual verbosity in English, and then what I think of as gear 2, Dutch. Gear 2 is simpler, more descriptive…more innocent, even. It has to be, seeing as I’m still learning. I judge myself to sit somewhere between a 10 year old and a 14 year old in comprehension. More difficult than that and I’ll catch the gist, but not the full meaning. But not too bad for only three years of work.

Yesterday, I figured out what the very best thing is about being in an adult body: you have full rights to say ‘no more of that’. As kids, we were all forced to do things we didn’t want to do. Eat our vegetables, do our homework, go to bed on time. We have even formed societal rules that reinforce this behavior on us when we’re full grown: timetables and agendas to stick to, taxes to pay, social niceties to observe. We give ourselves so little space to put our foot down it’s little wonder so many of us forget we have that power. Often it then comes out all screwed up – power plays, physical and sexual abuse, lying. I was reminded yesterday of my power to say ‘no’ in a very simple way: I changed the program on the tv. I’m one of those people who likes to put the tv on quietly in the background while I’m gaming or cleaning. I run Comedy Central almost all day, because I don’t want drama or news or negativity, and I find a quiet day long laugh track generally is the best thing for me. But lately CC’s been running Family Guy all day long. That program grates on my nerves. As usual, I quietly submitted for days, grousing in my mind that so much Family Guy was being shoved in my face (along with Friends – ugh!) but doing nothing about it. The simple act of putting in a DVD with NO commercials and NO Family Guy or Friends was amazingly freeing. It was with a heady feeling of power that I hit the button on the remote and said ‘no more of that’. My brother laughed. And that incident got locked in me. It’s so on my mind this morning that I can think of little else.

‘No more of that.’

I imagine myself with the power to do that to my unwanted repetitive thoughts. Holding a remote and hitting a button. ‘No more of that’. Yes. I’ll use that in future. The screen goes blank. Maybe some evil pixie will turn it back on over and over. I’ll keep turning it off.

No more of that.

This is the full power of being an adult. Saying ‘no’. It is why rape is such a horror to live through. It’s not just the physical assault, which is disgusting and sickening, but it’s the fact that our ‘no’ is disregarded. It puts us right back into two or three year old bodies, saying ‘no!’ firmly to our parents and just as firmly being forced to comply. It is an assault on the youngest and most innocent part of ourselves, a hideous reinforcement of the idea that we are not masters of our own fate.

…*sigh* And then they blame us for it…

No more of that.

Tomorrow is full. Doctor’s appointment, language class, script read through. Today is full, too: write out my essay, tidy the house, shower, make lembas. Wishing I’d bit the bullet on that last hated task and taken care of my orthopedics, but, oh well! Say it with me: no more of that.

Keep waking up at night, biting my mouth guard. Not hard, and not enough to cause pain. Just enough to wake me up. It’s made me aware of how often I do it. Answer? Very often.

My reaction to that is the same as my reaction to just about everything today.

No more of that.

Post Narrative Bliss

Post narrative bliss. I think that’s what I’ll call it. That almost orgasmic experience I have at the end of a good story. You know it’s coming. Visually, you can see you’re near the end of the story. Narratively, if you’re reading a good author, you get that feel, too. The story is winding up. These characters are about to say good-bye to you. The denouement is always bittersweet to me. If the story was good enough, I don’t want to say good-bye. I want the ending, the wrap-up, that feeling of completion – but I don’t want these new friends to leave my life. I’ve heard of some people who never read the last page so they can avoid this whole mess. That’s silly to me. A good story is like a snow globe you can enter and play in. It’s always there, always the same, and always snowing. That perfect capsule of sweet imagination isn’t ruined by tasting the last drop. Just the opposite; the last words of a tale are often the ones that haunt you, that make you pick it up and read it again. I won’t cheat myself of that thrill.

So there I was, about two in the afternoon, totally in post narrative bliss. My breathing was a little ragged, I sighed like a lovesick Juliette, and my first thought was ‘I’ll never find another story like that’. Nothing could compare. But you know…I was very happy just to be there. To feel that much after reading a story. And to get it in Dutch, my new language, was a double hit. I’ve felt so dumb, trying to learn this language. But Dahl was like a skilled lover. He made me feel smart for understanding so much. He gave his typical Dahl style – that kind of adults-not-allowed childhood funny that makes the reader feel like they’re the only one in the world who knows the author’s secrets. I felt special for understanding his jokes. I felt uplifted, honored that someone would share such a tale with me. And I felt loved. The warmth of the description, the innocence portrayed in the characters…it was narrative love, and I held my arms open and sucked it all in. My soul feels fed. It’s not reaching for, wanting. It’s just dozily happy, with that crazy smile on its face.

Satisfied. I be satisfied. Thank you, Roald Dahl. And thank you, translator of Roald Dahl. You did a great job.

More childlike stuff: my brother has concocted what has to be the BEST treat I’ve ever tasted. He starts with his secret recipe for French toast, which, btw, you can’t call ‘French toast’ over here because it’s not French nor toast and they don’t know what you’re on about. That alone, topped with maple syrup, is outstanding. But here’s the twist: before the syrup goes on, he sprinkles the top of the bread with hagelslag. What’s hagelslag? American term: sprinkles, the kind you’d put on top of ice cream. Here, they put it on their bread for breakfast (an odd habit I still can’t quite wrap my head around). The heat from the French toast melts the hagelslag and forms a thin layer of melted, rich chocolate. Out. of. this. world. There is no hope of escape; when he makes it, the scent fills our flat and I dare anyone to just sit there, smell all that, and then say ‘no thanks’ to that tasty goodness. I’ve gotta ask him to stop making it so often.

Lol! On the other hand, I’ve full plans to go ahead and make my own goodies to pile the inches on around my hips and waist. LLR nut that I am, I dubbed the recipe ‘lembas’ after the elven bread Frodo and the team eat on their way to Mordor. It’s subtly addictive. Lightly sweet – so lightly sweet you barely feel like you’ve had a treat. And there’s the catch. You can eat them and eat them and eat them all day long (I’ve seen it). There’s a couple of tricky ingredients you need for real lembas, and I can get them here. The only thing that’s held me back is the time involved. It’s a double batter recipe that then gets twisted together in a marbled effect. Very hand intensive. I haven’t felt up to it, but after taking care of a part of me I didn’t know was starving I finally feel I have the oomph to do it.

My bro ran a printed copy of the trilogy for me. He put it down on the table with a ‘here’s your book’. I glanced at it and thought ‘that’s just a story’. Our two perspectives say a lot about our writing skills and style: he is at the beginning, seeing a pile of paper and thinking ‘that’s a lot of writing!’, and I am further on, knowing that the words never stop flowing and that tiny pile is just a fraction of what I’ve committed to permanent form as ‘the written word’. I have the weekend to page through it and allow myself to feel pride. Not out in orbit this is the best thing ever, but calm pride. I’ve worked on this for a year now, thinking and honing and outlining and writing. While not the longest piece I’ve written, it is, perhaps, the most complete. The tightest and fullest without being so verbose that I knock the audience out from sheer pontification. And it’s not static; I’m particularly proud of that. Not a bunch of people on the stage just talking, oh, no!

Oh, I really hope they like it.

…And what will it feel like, I wonder, to see my story produced and acted out on stage? I get that post narrative bliss after writing. Will this take that experience to a new level?

I can see it now.

A darkened theatre. The last curtain down. The audience applauds. And from the back you can hear me, moaning like Meg Ryan in ‘When Harry Met Sally’.

Post narrative bliss.