Dissolve those blocks

A block is a block is a block. And I found my block: my silence regarding my uncle and family communication issues. All it took was one statement, one time standing up for myself –

And it flowed.

I’ve spent the last few days divvying up my time between pacing and writing. My head’s so there I can’t even concentrate on tv at night. My eyes watch, but my mind is far, far away. Tying together plot threads, modifying scenes, adapting new ideas and new information into the story.

Honestly, it was almost an explosion. I’ve pages and pages of notes and rough drafts. Hammered out all the loose ends I was unsure over. Found solid reasons for people to do what they do. More: I was able to articulate the core premise of my thriller trilogy, something I hadn’t been able to do. And I’ve got to chuckle, because the core premise is connected to all my family issues.

People are affected more the more they are in denial.

The effect is cumulative – the more you hear or see, the worse it is, but people not in touch with themselves quickly succumb.

The issue of denial – denying everything, from the insults slung to their real feelings over important issues – is a bone of contention between me and my family. It’s a long, old ache I can’t rid myself of. Essentially, I’m writing about a phenomena currently underway – in my family, and in the states. Everything is twisted. Neo nazis scream about genocide and claim that’s their right under free speech. Then they blame anyone who tries to stop them, calling them enemies of free speech. Denial. Denial of their bigotry and hate. Denial of their calculated twisting of the facts. It’s killing every bit of humanity, and it’s a disease that’s rapidly spreading. My premise is that people like that – people so caught up in denial they can’t even begin to admit the truth of what they’re doing – they’re the ones affected. They’re the ones who flip out and kill everyone (literally and metaphorically). Don’t know how many people will get that connection when they watch the trilogy. But it’s in there.

Now there’s that layered depth of meaning that’ll win me an award!

But that little gem of thought is costing me re-writes. It’ll be well worth the price; I’m just noting it. Noting that I need to increase tension in this character, have a few more verbal spats in that area… Nothing major. Subtle. I’m down to subtle writing. Taking that fine sand paper and working on the last hard edges. That’s often the more difficult kind of writing. Hacking out the rough ideas – that’s easy. Take a swing, chop, chop, and there you go. Viola. But fine tuning – that’s tough. Reading and re-reading. Changing one word in a sentence to open up multiple interpretations of meanings. Moving this, editing that – if you’re not careful, you can get stuck in this mode forever.

Lucky for me, I have readers. Willing readers. People who want to read my scripts, want to participate in the evening get togethers, want to give me feedback. Yes, I called a read thru for Taman and am getting many positive responses. I need 12 people capable of reading English to do this properly, and I’m half way there. Hope I get enough. We could double up, but that always muddies a read thru. Plus, I want the input. I want to hear people’s opinions and ideas. Used to think other people’s opinions were judgements: good or bad. Now I hear them as suggestions. Hm, she wants me to change that sentence because it isn’t clear to her…maybe she has a point. Or gee, he thinks this wouldn’t happen. If it doesn’t happen, then this might occur. Wow, that would mean… etc., etc. It takes me in new directions.

And it’s taught me (again) about communication. You can use every word in the dictionary – you can speak at the highest level, using the best grammar in the world – but if no one understands you, you’re not communicating. People have to understand you before you can claim to be communicating. If you use words they don’t know, or introduce ideas that are beyond their comprehension, you’re not communicating. You’re just being obtuse (and there’s a perfect example: if I said that to my autistic brother, he wouldn’t comprehend the use of ‘obtuse’ in this sentence). Side note: Goddess! I should throw that word ‘obtuse’ at my uncle!

…Now it’s time to reign it all back in. Back to the grind this week: classes, gym. Last rehearsal on Thursday and the performance on Saturday. Week after that, my read thru for Taman. I feel confident that by mid-November I’ll be done with Taman; it’ll be off my desk and sent out. That sets me up nicely for finishing the trilogy during Xmas break, which means I could present it to the group in January.

Beyond that, I haven’t thought. It’s a big enough deal to be back in the flow and writing again. Still surprised over how quickly all my mental blocks came crashing down the moment I stood up for myself.

Remember that. Dissolve those blocks.

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Keep on rock ‘n me, baby

This morning I hit the unfriend button on FB. Unfriended my uncle. Still half on the fence with the whole idea, but I can’t shake the truth that if anyone other than a family member did to me what he did, I’d read him the riot act. Sharing DNA doesn’t allow people to treat you like dirt. So after much deliberation and a lot of anxiety, unfriend it was.

I’m worried about the backlash. The demands to know why I did it, the endless denials and accusations, the being told I’m wrong over and over. Do not know how much I’ll take before I…blow up? Finally get angry? Tell them to fuck off? Report them for bullying and abuse? Any or all of the above. That frightens me, too. So far I’ve dealt with this very level headed. I don’t want to lose it now. More; I don’t want to give them one iota more of anything they can use against me. Losing it is definitely one of those things they’ll use against me.

Found myself thinking the other day that if, when I die, my mother appears to me, waiting to guide me to the other side, I’ll grab her fucking hand and DRAG the bitch to Hell. And if that means I’m stuck in Hell for all eternity, well, as long as I know she’s getting HERS, I’ll deal. Can’t be all that much worse than living here.

Now, that’s a sad fucking thought, isn’t it?

Fuck! I’m screwed up.

…Having a difficult time getting myself motivated. Maybe I finally took the word ‘holiday’ in its entirety. You know – REAL time off. Gym time, writing, reading – even running my lines for memory’s sake has become a chore, a non-emergency, something I can do tomorrow or the day after. For my own peace of mind, I’ve allowed it. I know what I can do when I am motivated; no need to push it if I’m not. One more performance to stay healthy for. One more run thru of the play to do. Focus!

But something’s cooking. I hope my inner eye is focusing on the thrillers. I think it is. I’ve begun pacing again, talking aloud to myself, sorting out ideas. The task of taking my ideas to paper seems monumental, but that’s my lack of motivation. I’m sorting. Thinking. Plotting. Getting that film of the story to run seamlessly in my mind.

Been talking aloud to myself a LOT lately, actually. About all sorts of things. Part of that is my brother’s schedule: he’s out more and more with band rehearsals and other stuff, leaving me alone in the house. Part of it is just ME. It’s what I do, what I’ve always done. I think I give myself comfort this way. I think it helps for me to hear with my ears all those words of support I tell myself. After all, that’s why I think I began it in the first place – to allow my ears to hear those words no one ever said to me. You’re beautiful. You’re talented. You’re brilliant. In talking to myself, I can be brutally honest without fear of being ridiculed. I can be supportive without strings; my self talk doesn’t hinge on me acquiescing to political views or moral stances I find abhorrent. And I feel it, down to my toes. It’s mother-me comforting child-me.

Same reason why I rock while seated. It’s a comfort motion. My torso moves for and aft, back and forth, rhythmically, like I’m rocking a baby. I am rocking a baby: me. I’m telling myself I’m okay, I’m safe, and I can take care of myself.

And that’s okay. It’s okay to give myself what I need. It’s healthy, in fact. I’m embarrassed by what I do: the rocking and the talking aloud. Embarrassed a LOT. Part of me is afraid it looks insane, and I know what happens when THAT line of thought occurs to someone. Everything that comes after gets discounted, no matter how on the mark or true it is. Part of me is just plain ashamed of myself: here I am, 50+, and still trying to comfort that crying little girl in me. I should be beyond this. Over it. Able to let it go, and get on with my life.

I shouldn’t feel so fucking stuck.

But I do, and saying I shouldn’t is just one more way for me to reinforce that blame and guilt instilled in me as a child. It’s all your fault. If you were better/stronger/smarter, you wouldn’t be here.

Oh, yeah. It’s lovely having a war of confidence go on in your head 24/7.

I always feel so naked when my confidence is shaken. So the worm, wriggling in the mud. Nothing. Contemptible in my lowliness. It is what’s allowed physical abuse into my life: hit me, I deserve it and worse. That’s a mindset I have to fight against every day because no matter how long it’s been since I was in an abusive relationship, I still think that way. I still hate myself that much. I still think that little of myself.

Rock. Or smoke. Or do anything other than think about what you just wrote.

Ugly truths are like scabs. I can’t help but pick at them. And it hurts. Another way to hurt myself…

Run. Hide. Deny. Distract.

But truth will out. Even in my distractions. I know the music I’m including in this is a ‘love’ song. But flip it to me talking to me-the-child – because that’s the way I’m hearing it this morning.

Keep on rock ‘n me, baby.

Six Easy Steps to Stopping a Narcissist Cold

October 16, 2:05 p.m. (my time)…That’s the last time I received a comment from my uncle on the play notification I posted on FB. Almost two entire days of silence. This morning, of course, there was an email in my mail. One of his mass sends to friends and family. The email was a picture of a patch – one of those embroidered things people put on their shirts and jackets to make them feel important (like a Boy Scout). The pic was two buzzards, with the caption ‘patience my ass – I’m gonna kill something’, and I can’t help but feel I had at least a little to do with the level of frustration and anger it reveals. Side note: my DNA sister was the first to respond to my uncle’s email, posting a laughing meme back (her communication style is exactly the same as his, so no big surprise there).

The following is the conversation in full. I’m copying it here to make sure I don’t lose my words, because this is one of those RARE times I actually shut up the narcissists in my family by turning the tables on them, and I want to remember it.

uncle: I imagine this will be funny…..sorry, I won”t be in that area then. LOL

me: What’s so funny that you put ‘LOL’? You didn’t make a joke.

uncle: K-, Yes I did….when I said, I won’t be in that area then. That was my joke.

me: Oh. But you don’t live in the area. In fact, you live on the other side of the world – a fact I know. So…where’s the joke?

uncle: you need another cup of coffee Ms. !

me: What does my caffeine level have to do with our discussion? And why are you trying to change the subject and blame me for your poor “joke”? A joke is supposed to be amusing – yet your original statement, “I won’t be in that area then” isn’t amusing, it’s simply a fact. There’s no cause for laughter. No cause unless you feel uncomfortable for some reason. Shifting attention to my caffeine intake is simply a distraction from your discomfort. Why are you uncomfortable? ..Plus, get it right. I live in Rotterdam, not Amsterdam.

uncle: I was hoping some caffeine would wake you up and you would see my joke…;.clearly you have seen my joke all along. And….I won’t br in Rotterdam to see the show either.

me: Actually, I don’t see your joke at all – which is why I queried you in the first place. However, if you’re referring to me noticing your discomfort, yes, I did see that. It’s pretty obvious. I also noticed you continue to sidestep my question: why are you so uncomfortable?

uncle:  I’m not uncomfortable…..just made a joke about the show sounds good but I won’t be in the area to see it. I thought it was a funny comment.

me: Well, we already established it wasn’t a joke. You didn’t say anything unexpected or funny even tho you keep insisting you did. So you’re either uncomfortable for some reason, or the LOL isn’t actually because there’s a joke in your statement, but because you’re making it into a joke. Returning to the stage is important to me. Why do you feel the need to make it into a joke? I don’t understand. Please explain.


Since asking him to explain himself, he’s been silent (other than the patch email today). Hallelujah! I called him out on it and didn’t let him get away with SHIT. Notice how I turned things on him? Needling him with the idea that he was uncomfortable? That was deliberate. I wanted to wind him up on that point, knowing it wasn’t on the mark, so he’d admit he wasn’t uncomfortable – which led him straight to the point I was making: he was being a bully. There was nothing funny about his comment; he was belittling me. Note: he didn’t like my post about the upcoming production. He just made his ‘joke’. And the fact that, half way through the conversation when he realized I was getting the upper hand, he had to make ANOTHER joke just showed that yes, his goal was to belittle me. That joke was all about ‘you’re not even worth replying to; I won’t answer you directly, just make a silly joke with you the butt of it’. The last few sentences are the real corker: Returning to the stage is important to me. Why do you feel the need to make it into a joke? I don’t understand. Please explain. Straight up statement: you’re making fun of me; why? Explain yourself.

Oh, how I made him run!

Distilled down, here it is:

  1. Destroy their first statement. This isn’t true because… Stay calm, and state the facts.
  2. Explain how, if their first statement isn’t true, then the following must be what’s really going on. This is where the turn happens. We already established it wasn’t a joke. So you’re either uncomfortable for some reason, or the LOL isn’t actually because there’s a joke in your statement, but because you’re making it into a joke.
  3. Push the alternative you know isn’t true. Why are you so uncomfortable?
  4. Make them admit the false alternative is false.
  5. Point out that the only thing left is precisely what they don’t want to admit to: they’re being an asshole. Don’t say asshole. Don’t accuse them of being mean. Again, turn it. This is important to me. Why do you feel the need to belittle it?
  6. Ask them to explain themselves.

The sheer I wanna get up and do a jig JOY I feel over mastering one conversation with a family member!! If only someone had told me it was THIS easy to shut them up!

Six easy steps to stopping a narcissist cold.

Pearls before swine

I’ll start with this morning, ’cause it’s in my face.

Another uncle comment. This time, it’s a ‘You need some coffee’ with a Google link to coffee houses (NOT coffeeshops) in Amsterdam after I called him out on NOT being funny and NOT making a joke. Here’s my reply:

What does my caffeine level have to do with our discussion? And why are you trying to change the subject and blame me for your poor “joke”? A joke is supposed to be amusing – yet your original statement, “I won’t be in that area then” isn’t amusing, it’s simply a fact. There’s no cause for laughter. No cause unless you feel uncomfortable for some reason. Shifting attention to my caffeine intake is simply a distraction from your discomfort. Why are you uncomfortable? ..Plus, get it right. I live in Rotterdam, not Amsterdam.

I’m proud of my reply. Called him out on it. Kept my cool. Even left with a little jab about him getting the city wrong. Ha fucking ha, uncle. Are you laughing now? I’m particularly proud over pointing out his discomfort (several times) and calling him out on his attempt to distract and blame me.

You wanna play games? With words? You DO know I’m a wordsmyth, right? Plus, I was taught by your sister – my mother. Your OLDER sister. The woman who knew every game you ever played and one upped you continually.

You ain’t gonna win.

I said I fucking had it with this shit.

…NEWS ALERT: Just had a notification from FB. An instantaneous reply from my uncle. DAMN! I really got him. Here’s his reply (including the typos; he was obviously in a hurry to say what he needed to say): “I was hoping some caffeine would wake you up and you would see my joke…;.clearly you have seen my joke all along. And….I won’t br in Rotterdam to see the show either.” Oh, I’ll continue with this charade. If it winds him up so much he’s got to reply the moment he reads what I say, I’ll continue.

Give him a little tit for tat. Generally I’m against that type of behavior, but some people just don’t learn!

Onto happier things.

Three point seven kilometers in thirty minutes. Wanted to write that out, because it deserves that much respect. That’s topping 7 km an hour on the cross trainer. And I felt flipping tired. Have the last several times I’ve gone to the gym. But I keep amazing myself, pushing more and running faster than I ever imagined I could. I believe soon to be 52 year old me could easily lap 22 year old me. Upped repetitions on my arms. That’s difficult, and I have to stop often and take a break. Still hate doing my abdominal exercises, but I might be ready to add a few more crunches to my routine. Walking is, as always, the easiest – though I’ve got to confess I feel awful slow walking at 5km an hour after running on the cross trainer. Find myself wanting to pick up the speed on the treadmill. Haven’t, yet.

Feeling strong in my body, my mind, and my soul. A bit unshakeable. Like I’m suddenly too together for anyone (including my uncle) to get under my skin. I like this. If this is the level other people operate at, I can see why they don’t understand when I fall apart. Doesn’t give them license to be assholes about it, but I get why they might not fully understand why someone like me struggles so much. It’s easy to let things slide off your back when you’re here. World trouble? Yeah, always is. Emotional turmoil? Yeah, it’s a pain, but what are ya gonna do? Financial trouble? It’ll sort itself out somehow. All those pat answers spewed ad infinitum via memes suddenly make sense.

I blame the endorphins. I’m getting a regular blast of them when exercising. And let’s face it: they say ‘peptide’ and ‘hormone’, but in reality they should say ‘drug’. It’s an all natural drug, I’ll give you – but it’s a drug. You get a drug response, it’s addictive, you need more to keep getting off – it’s a drug. More: it’s a drug I like. So I keep pushing to get it. Now…doctors get very pleased when they hear about an exercise regime. Oh, good! You’re getting regular exercise, toning your body, and losing weight. What could be better? No one acknowledges the drug interaction in your brain, unless it’s to say something like ‘well, exercise is GOOD for emotional turmoil’. Why is it that a drug naturally produced in our bodies is better or good, while drugs we take are bad and evil? I just don’t get that. It’s a drug, either way.

Blanket fucking statements. They ruin the damned world.

Today, I work. A few errands to run, and I plan on using the travel time on the metro to read Dutch. Then it’s time to tear into Taman. Make those changes I keep talking about. Start arranging a read through. Want to read through the play I’m doing, too. Keep my lines fresh over this break. And I need to call for an adjustment to my shoes (more Dutch; ugh!).

First, though, I will fashion a reply to my uncle. He doesn’t get the last word on my page. Even if that means this discussion goes on for another year, back and forth. And I know what I’m doing. I’m staying coolly disconnected. I know the necklace is tearing, and the mud is thick.

I know I’m casting pearls before swine.

Kill them all

How many times have I woken up far too early, thinking ‘I should have just killed them all’? More than I care to count, and this morning numbers among them.

Funny thing, my morning moods. Never know what’s gonna come out of me. Sometimes it’s hate – pure, unadulterated. Sometimes it’s understanding – a compassion I often lack, but always aspire to.

This morning, it was a no-nonsense approach.

Replied to my uncle. Simply wrote “What’s so funny that you put ‘LOL’? You didn’t make a joke.” Straight up called him out on it. It’s a method I’d prefer to use on a daily basis, but I must admit my own emotions often get in the way. Today was a mix of disgust and anger, cooled by the knowledge that he couldn’t touch me, couldn’t hurt me, and nothing he was going to say (or no tirade he was going to throw) could ever really affect me.

To quote a sample used in a very old song I participated in, I’m sick of this shit.

So if he’s mean, I’ll tell him he’s mean. If he’s wrong, I’ll tell him he’s wrong. If he’s an ignorant shit (most times) I’ll have to find the courage to say that, too.

Fuck “saving” this relationship. There’s nothing to save but a board my family uses to strap me down to while they whip me with lies and old, unrelated shame.

I hate them.

Shoulda taken one of the hundreds of guns they keep ‘in stock’ or ‘for sporting purposes’ and blown every single one of their heads off. That includes the small children, because I know from experience that if they were raised in THAT family, they’re fucked. Forever. Might as well free their souls and let them try again.

That’s horrific, isn’t it? A terrible thing to say or think (or at least that’s MY knee jerk reaction).

Stuck in the usual place: hating, and hating myself for hating so much.

…Spent time yesterday doing all those chores I haven’t done for a month. Cleaning. Ev-er-y-thing. Laundry, dishes, floors, cabinets, bedroom, toilet – you name it, I did it. Not perfectly. It was a nice day, and a Saturday, and I didn’t want to work that hard. Got it back to livable standards. My bro’s radar was on full blast when he got home. First thing out of his mouth? Wow, look at how clean everything is! Walked into the toilet: Wow! Everything shines! Yeah. Funny how appreciative he is of cleanliness, yet how reluctant he is to join in on the work to get there…

Today it’s back to the gym to be stared at as I stretch, and sweat, and push. Watched a recorded Graham Norton show last night during which a guest commented that she doesn’t have very good eyesight, but that worked to her advantage because audiences just became a blur. I can relate. My eyes aren’t terrible, but my long vision is fuzzy. Things are soft. All the ugly and hard edges are taken off, and the world is one big bouncy castle. Much different when I put on my glasses or stick my contacts in! But I don’t wear my contacts or glasses at the gym, so everything is in soft focus. I can’t tell if people are looking at me or just in my direction unless they happen to be close enough. And any facial expression of shock…well, that’s just blurred away. It’s as good as blinders. I don’t register anything directed at me, so I act like nothing is directed at me. Unless someone actually speaks to me, I’m totally alone in my head.

But I gotta admit…I might start facing the wall during my stretches. ‘Cause I now know they watch me. For sure.

Haven’t found the head space to begin work. Determined first to make the changes I know I want to Taman. That should take all of an hour if I’m really slow. Then it’s on to part 2 of the thrillers. Know what to change there. It’ll take a re-write, but hey! When I know what I want, a re-write barely takes any times at all. Been cooking up part 3. Bringing back a character from part 1. Have a particular actor in mind for this role – one of the troupe I’m working with. Not sure why. He’s not a great actor. Not even very good. But I’ve seen him in a couple of things now, and…he’s getting type cast. If there’s a gay man, he’s the actor playing it. Always. Great that they want a real gay person playing a gay person, but…he never gets another role. And they’re always the same type of gay person. Flamboyant. Never anything else. The character I’m writing for him IS gay, but not flamboyant. And he’ll have to stretch. In part 3, he’s close to a nervous breakdown.

Realize as I mull over the trilogy that I’m asking a LOT of this troupe. It’ll take more than memorizing lines to pull this off – but in them I see the desire to do more and, oftentimes, the boredom over not being challenged. Am I projecting? I realize those are MY emotions. But now I see the tiny habits of everyone. The surreptitious phone checking, the whispering, the fidgeting and distractions. The yes, we can do this and it’s fun but it’s not really challenging us attitude. And I sense they’ve worked, as a troupe, in one direction: improv. They stress it, they’re good at it. I want to see them stretch in another manner.

I want to see them act.

It could very well end up a disaster.

But I’ve my ace in the hole: sound. I know exactly what I want and how to get it – plus I’ve the skill and equipment to do it. Set your audience on edge with sound, and the acting can be a bit sub-par. It’ll still work.

And I really want to do this. Why? Because in my writing, I really did kill them all.

No One Makes it out Alive

Success. Responses to enquiries, searches that reveal that yes, Virginia, my press release about the upcoming performance is out there. Sadly, there’s only half a dozen sites in Rotterdam written in English – but I hit them all.

Headed to the gym early. The woman never showed. Kept an eye out for her – which is why I saw, for the first time, the way people look at me while I stretch. That woman is not alone in stopping whatever’s going on and standing still with a slightly open mouth while I move. Everyone in the gym did it at some point during my warm-up. Don’t you people stretch? – Oh, wait… You don’t. I ‘member now. You’re all about jerk lifting heavy weights, and running on the cross trainer for 10 minutes. Yeah…

There’s not much reason, in my opinion, to be jealous of me. I’m not super beautiful, or super fit, or super rich, or, (seemingly) super talented. Just a bit of this and that. But my flexibility…Now that I can acknowledge as a thang. You can be jealous of me over that: next month I hit 52, and I can still take my forehead to my knees and straight down to the floor while stretching. Don’t know anyone who gets turned on by that, nor any way to market it as a talent and make money off it. But it’s mine, and when I stretch deeply I automatically begin Ujjayi breathing – a thing I learned long ago as a child, watching Hatha Yoga on PBS. I focus. It’s one of the beautiful feelings I can create in my body without thinking or trying.

Surprised to find more energy in me than I expected. Did my full-on work-out, no holds barred. Pushed hard, sweated loads.

Doubly surprised then, to find myself pacing at 7 p.m. Up and down, back and forth, maniacally stalking the tiny walkway in the apartment. I was unsettlingly unsettled last night. My bro was out at a band rehearsal (second band; they REQUESTED his uber talented presence – yea!) for the evening, so I was solo for tv time. That never goes very well – I prefer, in the evenings, to have someone with me so I can talk to them and have a bit of companionship to slow me down. But I expected, after such a push at the gym, to be tired.

Ha! 

Had to force myself to slow down. Forced myself to sit in the chair, watch the film I’d chosen. Forced myself to keep lighting up (thought: good Goddess, something has to slow me down!). Took it down to reading. Quiet, still. Relax, I told myself. Finally began feeling less manic. Slept.

I’ve time off from language lessons this coming week. Need to read thru Taman and make a few corrections and changes. Also need to begin the process of a read-through. Ask the teachers if they’ll come so I can use a classroom at Erasmus. Set a date. Get emails out.

But what I really want to get back to is my thriller trilogy. My experience with the theatre group has made me re-think a few things. What I once envisioned as three stand alone one-acts that have an arcing storyline are now expanding for the stage. I’m pulling the surviving characters through the one-acts for continuity. Wasn’t part of the original plan. However, while performing this play I’ve noticed what people have said to me. The number one thing people comment on is my tiny cameo in Act 3, where I’m seen dancing at a party held in the other room. Part of that, I know, is because it’s the last time they see me on stage. But there’s a definite glee the audience gets, seeing a character from an earlier story inserted into a later story. It offers a thread of continuity to the audience, and seems to bring the entire play into some sort of reality: this is the real world, and people’s paths cross. Here you go; proof. Okay. Good. I’ll use that. It’ll take a bit of re-thinking, but the basic story lines can hold.

Might use the following as a tag line for the production: No one makes it out alive. It’s a good overriding line for a thriller trilogy done over Halloween – though I’m concerned it’s too old hat and cliche for my production.

…It’s not a bad tag line for life. …Damn! I might have to get a T-shirt with that on it. Just for me.

Reality check: another comment from my uncle on FB. Ugh. Meh. Not even sure if I want to honor it by deleting it. Maybe I should just let them stand, without comment, and let the world see what a fucking eejit the man is. This one was strange. Or, at least, I found it strange. Re-posted one of my press releases from a site I successfully loaded the info into. This is not the first post about the play on my FB page. Maybe the 10th. Something must have finally clicked with my uncle, because for the first time he’s commented on it: “I imagine this will be funny….sorry, I won’t be in the area then. LOL”

LOL? Um…I realize he probably thinks he’s making a joke (which is weak in and of itself, because there’s nothing joke-like about his statement), or that’s what he’d claim. But is it really? I see a pandering to me in the first half (I imagine this will be funny: note, though, the comment is in general and not directed towards me or my acting ability) and a discount in the second half (he lives half way around the world and I never imagined for even a split second that he’d come for a performance). Pat on the head, and a slap in the face. Or so I see it.

For now, it stands without reply.

I got bigger fish to fry.

‘Cause it’s true. No one makes it out alive.

Yes, it is

Two weeks from Saturday is our last performance of the play. So I checked. Did a Google search – even setting the search parameters to the name of the play and the name of the group. Found a couple of notices on page one…in Dutch…for the first two performance dates. Nothing for our upcoming show.

It AMAZES me how all these business school teachers (who all say ‘yeah, yeah, we know all about marketing’) fall off the bus when it comes to actually doing any marketing work.

And maybe the director doesn’t want the group too big… He said that during the last performance. Doesn’t want the group too big, doesn’t want things to get out of control, doesn’t want to step aside to allow other people to do things with the group. Okay. I get that. But we at LEAST want to break even, right?

I sure as hell don’t want to continue ponying up money for the privilege of performing.

Found the group’s write-up about the play in English on their FB page (had to HUNT for it). It was half a press release – all teaser info but no facts. So I did what I do: I fixed it. Added in the missing data. Corrected some clunky English. And found half a dozen online Rotterdam agenda sites that’ll publish the info for free. Spent half an hour on the headline… The play isn’t well known enough to push that as the opener. The playwright isn’t well known enough to push that aspect. The group isn’t well known enough to carry the headline. In the end, I choose ‘English Comedy in Rotterdam’ because I’m posting to English language sites targeting ex-pats and I figured those four words were the most important in the entire thing. It’s in Rotterdam, it’s comedy, and it’s in English. The info is already sent to two places, and I’ll tackle the remaining sites after my language class.

Had a real surprise yesterday at the gym. Went in for my second day in a row (yet another attempt to raise my activity level). Saw, out of the corner of my eye, a woman watching me while I stretched and warmed up. Sure enough, she came over and began talking with me.

Surprising enough to me that I slipped into Dutch like a comfortable shoe. Didn’t even bother with my traditional ‘my Dutch isn’t very good’ line – she got that from my stilted use of the language. But we communicated (she spoke very clearly). Talked, even! She asked me about the exercises I was doing. Did I make them up, or did I learn them somewhere? A bit of both, I told her. Then she asked if I knew of any exercises that were good for a person’s balance. I actually had the audacity to question her – is it your hips? I asked, remembering the word for ‘hips’. Yes, she told me. Ah! We’ve the same problem. Do you go to the physiotherapist? Yes, but she doesn’t like him and he’s not doing her any good. How about these exercises? I asked, showing her the three golden rule exercises my physiotherapist gave me. Never saw them before. I walked her through them, told her to do them every night. When are you here? she asked me. I want to come back and exercise with you.

Wow. Seriously? This hip heavy old woman? You look at me and think ‘yeah, she’s got it together’? Don’t get me wrong – I’m pleased as punch. Pleased to have an opportunity to get to know someone, pleased to pass along what knowledge I do have about staying in shape, pleased someone thought that much of me. I’m just really, really surprised.

What I’m NOT thrilled about is the idea I’ll be opening up my head space during exercise time. Exercise time is a very inner thing for me. I’ve got the best drill sergeant I know under my skull, and all I need is her egging me on and really loud, fast music in my iPod. If I’m helping someone else, though, I won’t be able to lose myself in loud music. I’ll need to talk, be present…which will be DAMNED difficult, because I blast the music and close my eyes so I don’t HAVE to be uber present in my body while it works and sweats.

Saw the woman talk to a few other older women as she left the gym. Oh, nelly. In a few weeks time will I be writing that I’m leading a handful of mature women through some basic stretching and yoga exercises?

As long as they let me be on the cross trainer. That’ll be my one rule. I get on that machine, and no talkie-talkie with me. Let me sweat. I’ll be done in 30, and very pleased to help you then.

Sounds reasonable.

Also, in my searches for websites to post the press release for the theatre group, I stumbled across a call for writers. Writers in English, right here in the Netherlands. It’s all free lance, pay as you go, first come first served on story ideas. But I’m thinking I might give it a go. Even if I only get one or two stories a month, it’s something. A bit of cash to get my hair cut. Maybe I could take my brother out to dinner for once. Pay for my own metro card top up.

And isn’t it nice to get some sort of recognition for your efforts outside of your own head?

Yes. Yes, it is.

Shallow footholds

Breathe.

My uncle, who claims to have been “inoculated” against bubonic plague (yes, you read that correctly; he’s that ignorant) is on the commenting rampage again. This time? A superfluous comment on a post about the theatre group’s last performance. No idea what was going thru his mind…if anything. The damned post was in English, but he seems to have translated it. A tag that caught his eye was ‘Friday in Leiden’, which was a reference to our Friday night performance in the town of Leiden. His comment? What’s Friday in Leiden? Free day later? – or some such nonsense. Deleted it. I’m not talking to someone that stupid.

Saw a Graham Norton show on which a guest said he loved Twitter because ‘it was created to wind people up’ and he found ‘winding people up was a lot of fun’. I believe that puts my uncle’s behavior into a nice box. He enjoys winding people up. If I was his child and went to him to complain about being bullied, he’d say what those people always say: Ignore it. Yet, when I do that, I receive all sorts of negative comments about how immature I am, how I can’t even hold a conversation, etc. etc. Same double standard their president is trying to pull, and it’s the same obvious bullshit manipulation.

My brother has this idea that he’ll post the video of my performance and somehow THAT will open up my uncle’s mind. I expect flak. Bullshit wind-up comments. Back-handed compliments that aren’t really compliments. Stuff I’ll delete immediately, because I don’t want to deal with it.

Reminding myself I must apologize to the group in case anyone saw his comment. I’m sure my uncle would be angry if he knew I felt I had to apologize for his behavior. But I do feel it. I feel I must apologize for much of what Americans say and do.

Now THAT’S sad.

Language class: oh, I’m a prat and I know it. Brought along the book on Anne Frank that I finished reading. I believe that’s what prompted the teacher to ask all of us for impromptu book reports. I was the only person who had read more than a few pages. Swapped for a new book – a detective story. Lots of words in there that I don’t know. But that’s good; picking up meanings while reading is the BEST way to get it into your brain. Sometimes I have to resort to the dictionary, but hey! I did/do that with English, too. There are always words you don’t know. Did pretty well with my homework. A couple of mistakes; that’s okay. I learn even more from my mistakes than I do simple repetition. Really appreciate the level of this class. High enough, but not too high. Stressing what I need stressed. Feel myself falling into my student mode: open, accepting – almost like a sponge. Absorb first. Question later.

It’s a decent mind-state to carry into the world.

Keep telling myself I’m gonna cut back on smoking. Keep failing. Keep making excuses for myself, too. I’m still stressed from performing (true). My system hasn’t settled yet (true). But I’m bending the rules, being too easy and forgiving of my bad behavior. It’s got to stop.

Going to the gym today. My big excursion into out there. Want to come back so worn out I can barely keep my eyes open. Want it. Need it, even.

Keep telling myself to hang in there. Just a bit longer. A bit longer to what I’m never sure. Success? Easing of some of the financial restrictions? I’m afraid things might get worse before they get better. Once again, I have tumbleweeds rolling thru my e-mail. Not word ONE on my script, which I sent out a month ago to half a dozen places with very high expectations. Winter is coming on, which means more watching my health and being all over hand washing and juice sipping. All of that is discouraging, as are the bills that come in unexpectedly, throwing our budget out of whack.

But doors are opening. Just a crack – enough to get my foot in. Checked the film website my acting partner told me about and it’s everything he promised. Casting calls for all sorts. Already found one I’d really like to apply for. Need to get my info online. Told my bro about it, because there’s plenty of calls for sound engineers, something he’s more than qualified for.

Do not want to jinx myself, so I’ll just say all of this is on the table. As is the production of my scripts via the theatre group. Stepping slowly, cautiously. Nothing is settled or for sure, so there’s no real reason to get worked up. There’s just…interest.

Another note: J, the other feminist in the theatre group, asked for my blog address. I was thrown, dithered a lot by saying it’s nothing, just my empty thoughts. Truth is, I was and am afraid to share this blog. Whether or not I have anonymity, I feel as if I do, and that makes all the difference in how I write. But with my last post on sharing, I wonder if I’m being a bit hasty to pull back on this issue. How better for someone to understand me than to read my words? Must say, I’m honored that she cared enough to ask. That alone weighs heavily on the ‘give her the address’ side.

My head keeps playing back compliments I received for my performance. Particularly compliments from the group, because these are the people who’ve seen me do it over and over. These are the people who’ve heard some of my opinions, talked to me, gotten to know me a bit better… Truth is, I have no idea what they might say about me when I’m not there. Last autumn, I was a fly on the wall, so I know shit happens.

They might end up being very shallow. But even a shallow foothold is better than none.

Life isn’t like riding a bike

Slothing – proper slothing – is as fun and time consuming as anything else. Is it Sunday already? Yes, Virginia, it’s Sunday already and Monday is barreling towards us.

No homework done. No heavy duty anything done. I did get the dishes done, but that’s my thing: can’t stand a sink full of dirty dishes. Everything else is backed up, from the recycling to the dust bunny corral, which is full to bursting.

My voice is still with me. And my feet didn’t fall off of their own volition. That’s two good things right there.

Began looking at the acting website my partner told me about. All in Dutch, naturally. But he’s right; there are casting calls for fluent English speakers. Of course, most of the female roles are looking for 20 something attractive women. I’m hunting in the “motherly” categories – Goddess! Motherly! The one adjective I’d never use in reference to myself. Oh, well. I guess that’s why they call it ‘acting’.

Pooped. Need to make an appointment for my new orthopedics; another blister point in the heels that needs attention. Need to get to the doc’s for a flu shot. Need to get back to my routine, get back to the gym, get back to writing and sending stuff out.

Beginning to wonder about my death. I’m getting happy lately, and I’ve always had this feeling that I’ll finally achieve happiness, self confidence, and full understanding just before I die. So for me, being happy is a bit of a trigger. I enjoy it; don’t get me wrong. But it does carry its own set of worries. Foolish? Probably. But I am speaking from a lifetime of irony here, and I’ve always felt dying when you’re finally really happy with yourself and your life to be the ultimate irony.

Maybe I should just keep complaining…

How is one supposed to walk the line between your personal life and the outer world? If I focus on world news, I get upset and frustrated. If I focus on my personal life, I can forget the horrors out there and appear callous.

Wish I had more answers. Wish my mother would have thought it important to teach me things like how to deal with my emotions (other than denying them, stuffing them down, or ignoring them). That, apparently, was not as important as teaching me to iron a handkerchief perfectly. So here I am, fifty years later, still griping about my emotional issues and not touching an iron with a fifty foot pole.

Will I ever grow up?

Been wondering about myself. I know I’m smart, but there just seems to be something missing. Something I don’t get. And I don’t know what it is that I’m missing. Am I just a head in the clouds person? Someone kind of ditzy? It’s frustrating. I know I’m different. Unusual. Not like the others. It’s something with other people…understanding their facial expressions, hidden agendas, trust issues…something I can’t quite get a grasp of. And it’s barely there. I fake it well. But I see it, and every once in a while something happens and others see it, too.

Wonder if someday I’ll meet someone who’ll put it all in perspective for me. Like finally telling someone with dyslexia about dyslexia – no, it’s not your fault and yes, it’s a real thing. Oh, you’ve got this, or there’s a touch of that about you. Not a you’re wrong for doing this, or feeling this, or learning this method. Just a oh! Like that lightbulb that finally comes on. Of course, of course. Why didn’t anyone see this earlier? Here; take this pill once every morning and all will be right with the world.

Meantime, I do what most of us do: battle on. Handle the stress and fear as best I can. Get up, get dressed, and get out in the world. Try to be friendly, polite, considerate. Try to not think only of myself. Do my best in each and every situation.

No one ever tells you ‘growing up’ doesn’t stop. It doesn’t stop at 18, or 21. It doesn’t stop at 30, or 40. It just keeps going, relentlessly opening up your mind through experience. For me, it makes me feel small and foolish. Damn! Didn’t I learn that years ago?

Maybe so, but life isn’t like riding a bicycle. It’s not a deep seated motor skill that, once learned, is never forgotten. It’s more like language skills: you can read about a language, even learn TO read it and understand it, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into being able to speak it. And if you don’t use it, you lose it. You get rusty, forget stuff, stumble, make mistakes.

Oh, hell. I never was good at riding a bike…

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13 hours.

Home at 1 in the morning. Excited, because Leiden went well. Really well. Maybe the BEST for the group as a whole.

My feet hurt. My voice is iffy. Hope I won’t lose it completely. I’m tired, even after a decent sleep.

And I’m triumphant. Did the Universe take all possible positive comments and roll them into one night for me? Seems so. Two guys were pleasantly surprised to find my normal speaking voice wasn’t that horrid accent I do on stage. People loved this and that about my performance. But the best? Well…the group is getting more and more comfortable with performing and with each other. I’ve got this bit in the third scene – I’m supposed to be dancing at a party just outside the door, and the audience sees me every time the door opens. So I took it up a notch. Last night, every time the door opened I was a bit more drunk. Saved the best for last; even told my acting partner I was going to try and throw the actors on stage a bit. The curtains parted, my hair was bedraggled, my lipstick smeared, my shirt buttons were open and I staggered, took a drunken stance, looked straight at the director’s girlfriend (who was holding the curtain) and asked very drunkly ‘What?’. She told me later the scene went on longer than she wanted because she was laughing at me and couldn’t turn and let the audience see. In fact, she told that story to everyone at the bar afterwards and she couldn’t stop laughing even then.

Made me feel real good. I think, maybe, I’ve diffused any lingering resentment towards me through humor and honesty.

Other: J, the South African actress who is my fellow feminist in the group, told me she thought I was cool and wanted to keep in touch. YES! I might have FRIENDS out of this, as implausible as that may have seemed to me a few months ago. And my acting partner clued me into a Dutch website for actors to find parts in films. He told me they’re always looking for English speaking/American women.

Three weeks to chill before the last gig of the year. Defo everyone is planning for further performances next year. Hope to get up to Amsterdam to a theatre that will actually pay us to be there (including travel costs).

The only thing I’m planning for this weekend is finishing my homework, which should take me all of 20 minutes when I put my mind to it. Other than that, I am slothing (bloody hell; spell correct doesn’t like that but shouldn’t it be a verb?). Putting my feet up, maybe soaking them if I feel like pulling a warm foot bath together. Watching films. Not getting out of my pj’s unless I’m forced to. Not planning on a gym visit, but I’ll go if my body tells me it needs it. Juice, soup, naps, games. Sloth.

These upsets to my schedule are hard on me. 13 hours yesterday away from home, away from my comfy chair, not smoking (Gasp! I know! 13 hours with no toking! Though I did  have an emergency J on me just in case). Can’t help but feel it’s worth it. I’m happy, up, jazzed, and feeling great after a night full of positive, light-hearted social contact.

Laughing is so much easier in a group than it is alone.

That’s a lesson I’m taking with me. I tend to be a hermit, usually by choice. But with other people, with unexpected things being said and done…well…let’s just say I’ve long noticed that I don’t laugh out loud very much if I’m alone.

Laughter is something you share.

I like laughing. I like the way it makes me feel. I like making other people laugh, too.

So my path is clear.

Time to open up my world and share.