Moment to moment

Morphine. Mark the day. I’ve avoided it as long as possible because there’s nowhere to go from here, other than more morphine.

Saw my GP this morning. She took me seriously (thank the Goddess; I’m too scarred from docs ignoring me for years). Wanted to know the pressure points – I guided her hand to them with my eyes closed. Far too familiar at this point. Had blood tests to check on a nerve infection. Results were negative, for which I’m thankful. I don’t know what the treatment might have been, but the normally passive face of my doctor was very concerned when she spoke of this possibility. Now I’ve another appointment Monday morning, to discuss the situation.

Pretty sure I’ll hear TMJ. Damn. Should have been a diagnostician. Could have rocked that career. Not sure what it will entail. Maybe a mouth guard. From what I’ve read, they think it’s due to people clenching their jaw while they sleep. The nerve eventually seizes up and the pain is unbearable.

What’s blowing me away is that this occurred at a moment of high success and excitement, not horrible devastating loss.

Does this mean I can’t take success?

I said it was tough to take the compliments. Being acknowledged as a role model. Admired. Loved. All of it.

Am I so screwed up that I can take every rejection and pain without blinking, but love me and I seize up?

Oh, dear Goddess.

I don’t want to accept that. But I can’t deny the possibility of it.

…And the morphine pills have a refill.

Fuck.

I am thankful for the pain relief. Still a dull roar in the side of my head, but I don’t have to hold it or pace in a crazed manner.

I am also thankful for the dull, grey day outside. I don’t think I’d like it if the world looked happy and gleeful when I feel like this. It’s a visual reminder to curl up and take care of myself. My brother is cooking easy to eat, healthy food. Can’t eat much, but at least what I do eat is very healthy. Don’t want to sit too long. I know what can happen to my back. But I’m fairly buzzed. Hoorah. I like buzzed, especially after days of pain. So, walk? Mm. Not today. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have my morphine legs, and walking on the treadmill will be okay. Right now it seems too much.

Watching Downton Abbey. Beautiful fantasy.

Don’t know about school next week. We’ll see how I feel. Don’t know about later today; ditto on that.

This is moment to moment living.

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Behind the door

Bah. Back to pain. Something else is wrong. I’ve had root canals and tooth problems; this ain’t that. This is an ice pick inserted at my temple and turned round and round for 2-3 hours at a time. This is my ear feeling full and sore, pain radiating down my neck, difficulty swallowing. And sleeping! Twelve to 16 hours a day has become my norm. It’s backing off slowly. If Sunday hit a 10 on my pain scale and Monday/Tuesday were 8, I’m around a 6 to 7. I can sit when it hits – most of the time. But I’m thankful for sleeping so much so I don’t have to be aware of it all the time.

Have an appointment with my GP tomorrow. Will take her thru it, including all the hot spots under my ear, in front of my ear, and at my temple. Don’t want to eat because that’s what seems to set it off. Even now – been eating mush. Really don’t have to chew, just move it around with my tongue and swallow. That’s still too much. Two hours later, I’m pacing and holding my head. Just willing myself thru it until it eases off. Then I’ve got to sleep.

Gods, there are moments when I’d like to just rip my entire face off. Yank all the teeth, cut off my ear and ear drum, rake out my throat. Anything. Even tho the level of pain has dropped, its persistence is driving me nuts.

Looked and found info on a condition termed TMJ, and that’s what I think is going on. My jaw doesn’t click, but other than that, I’ve got all the symptoms. I know docs hate patients who self-diagnose, but I also hate docs who don’t see the obvious, so I’ll mention it. I have to live in this pain box; I know where the limits are. You can think I’m being overdramatic, if it’s just a tooth. I know. I also know what it’s like from the inside, and let me tell you, your diagnosis is wrong. Don’t know what can be done. As usual, I’ll have waited too long. Had I seen my GP earlier, there’d probably be no question. But now some of it is backing off – mostly because I’m not moving my mouth at all, not talking, and barely eating or swallowing anything. I spend hours managing the pain that comes from what little mouth movement I do. And I sleep. I can’t go to my classes, I can’t go out, I can’t really do anything. Hell! I can only sit long enough to write this because (1) I already took a pain pill, (2) I haven’t eaten anything and (3) I lit up a J as soon as my eyes opened.

Too much.

No desire to sit on this thru the holidays. No desire to put up with it for one more day. Don’t want to eat anything today. Fuck.

Taking old ativan tabs. My brother had some left over. They’re 2 years out of date, but he’s kept them in the cool and dark, so they’ve still got a some potency left (and honestly, I didn’t care if I poisoned myself just so long as the damned pain eased off). They do seem to be helping, and if I’m correct about it being TMJ, they should help. Knock me on my ass, tho. Which is fine – I can sleep right now because I’m relaxed rather than being worn down by pain.

My appointment with the dentist isn’t ’til the 28th. Hoping for two things. One, that my GP backs up my suspicions on this TMJ thing, and two, that the seizing is long over before I have to crank my mouth open for an extended period of time. Right now, brushing my teeth is tough. Keeping my mouth open wide enough and long enough for work to be done…ugh. I don’t even want to think about it.

One thing has happened with all this sleep: the bags under my eyes are at their lowest level since I was 40. I knew I was tired most of the time. But several days of 12 hours plus sleep…that’s real tired. Maybe I need something to help keep me down on a regular basis.

Doing my best to stay positive. Telling myself that even if my GP does nothing, the pain is slowly getting better. I just don’t want to invest months in this. Barely talking, sleeping so much, dealing with it, dealing with it day after day even when you think ‘that’s it! that’s the last pain!’ but it never is… No wonder I’m so fucking exhausted.

Sent a text to my language teacher yesterday ditching class. Can’t talk or concentrate. All I’d do is rock back and forth in my chair holding my head. Why bother?

Planning to sleep to tv today. Have to take my pills, so I have to eat something. Ow. I’ll put that off as long as possible. Will take an ativan half an hour before eating. Maybe that’ll give it enough time to relax the area so it doesn’t seize up. Get thru the inevitable bout of pain post eating; I’m anticipating it now. Then sleep. Probably all day. Try to eat in late afternoon so the pain hits in the early evening. Shitty, right? Plan life around when you want the pain to hit. But that’s where I’m at. Get it done early enough that I can sleep by nine at the latest.

There’s very little left to life when you’re compartmentalizing agonizing pain.

I’ve got pretty good at it over the years, tho. Sad to list it as one of my special skills, but, there it is. I’m pleased enough to sit here without feeling the need to nurse my head. To breathe in and experience little pain.

The big pain sits behind a door marked PAIN. And that’s where I want to keep it.

Thoughts and thanks

Ninety minutes.

I’m not a big phone talker. Maybe when I was 14, but not since then. Use the phone to make a date or a plan to talk in person. So much better! But last night, I was on the phone for an hour and a half with S, the casting director from the film. Unexpected? Absolutely. But not unwanted, even tho the call came in around 10 at night (she’s a night owl).

I think I might have found a real friend.

Heard about the last day of filming, which went great. Heard how much everyone missed me, which felt great. And then, it was just talk. Talk about life, relationships, self confidence, our past…Well, we had a long conversation, so we covered a lot.

She said I was a role model. That she thought I was brave. I’m a bit stunned. Me? Brave? Maybe in front of the camera, but other than that I know how deeply chicken shit I tend to be. Yet, there it was: I was tagged as brave. I think that might be the first time in my life I’ve earned that particular label. I don’t feel like a role model. But then, I’m older. I’ve let a lot of stuff drop. I used to worry about people finding me attractive. Now I think about being a good person. I used to worry about saying too much, being too blunt. Now I state my opinions simply, without an argumentative tone in my voice. I understand how, as a younger woman, that might look brave and like someone you want to emulate. And good if that’s what it is! If I can take one day off of another woman’s internal suffering because they admire how I deal with life or men or politics or whatever, then I’ve lived a life worth living. I know how long I’ve sat in the shit. I don’t think anyone deserves to feel as bad about themselves as I have.

And I am so tired of seeing women tear themselves down. That shit that surfaces from competitiveness and petty jealousies. The nasty comments behind the back and to the face. The use of male branded put downs, male dominated ideals, male led lives. We have allowed ourselves to be led around the ring by our noses, just like the pieces of meat so many misogynists see us as. And those of us caught in that web deny it: I’m not jealous; she’s just a whore.

Can we be honest? Can we say that a lot of that surfaces because we’re all dick hounds after a good fuck? Because we all want this fairy-tale ideal we were fed from birth, that a perfect life includes a husband who has a good job? Okay, I know I’m ignoring the lesbians (sorry) and the non-sexual people out there. I’m making a point. This shaming of women BY women comes out of competition. It’s insidious, and it’s been instilled in us for forever.

Every time we do it, we play their game. Every time we do it, we support their foul opinions of us. Every time we do it, we kill ourselves and hamper our futures and the futures of all our daughters.

It’s got to stop.

If the only way you feel you can get ahead in life is to tear someone else down, you’re not making any progress.

I guess considering the world these days, that attitude alone should make me a role model. Embrace it, Beeps. You’re a knight in shining armour. Hm. And thus, comes understanding of how roles are thrust upon us. You just…live long enough that you become an oddity. An oddity that people admire, but an oddity nonetheless. And then they tell you, and you begin to monitor your own behavior. You start to become what they see you as, because a part of you doesn’t want to let them down. So you try. You reach for the bigger part of yourself. You keep doing that, keep trying.

And so you become.

That’s not to say you buy your own marketing. Therein lies the problem. I guarantee you that at the base of any star’s suicide is a deep seated belief that they didn’t really live up to their image. Maybe it’s not the ultimate tipping point, but it’ll be in the mix. It’s a big and ugly problem. Because people need those heroes. People need role models, the personalities larger than life to inspire and lead them thru dark times. But it can feel like a lie. I’m not really that good, I’m not really that smart, or that talented, or that beautiful… You need to balance what is and what is perceived.

Tread lightly, oh walkers of life! You never know when you will become. And you never quite realize, from where you are, just how difficult that balancing act is.

So. I have a friend. Admiration. Dizzying amounts of respect. It is as tough to take as the opposite. Especially after years of having no friends, no admiration, and no (or little) respect. And I don’t want to fuck it up. I want friends. I want people in my life. People who are happy to see me, people who are sad if I’m ill. People to share things with, because fun is amplified a thousand fold when you share it.

I am…at a loss. I don’t know why I’m getting this outpouring. I don’t know what I did so right to deserve it; if I did know, I’d keep doing it. All I can do is be the brightest me I can be. Listen, care. Slow down enough to really interact. Share my sense of humor. Hug people when I know they need it.

Waking every day with a sense of thankfulness. It’s totally new. I’ve had it for short bursts, over little accomplishments. This feels big, and solid. Like a river of lava flowing thru my life: huge, encompassing, and burning away all those truly inconsequential things that have been hampering me for so very long.

Thank you.

My kind of Monday

Pain. Let’s talk about it, because yesterday it was my entire world.

Started having trouble on Saturday. Pain in my right upper jaw. I’ve got a tooth up there that hurts sometimes – like when I get sinus infections. So I wasn’t too worried. But it got worse. And worse. Spread to my whole jaw, and my ear.

By yesterday I couldn’t sit still. The pain was too much. I also got a bit woozy and light headed from it, but I couldn’t stop pacing. Wanted to try to make it to Monday before seeing someone. Couldn’t. Called the emergency number for my dentist and made an appointment.

Now, my film friends got their wish. We had snow. Real snow, with real accumulation. And on that one day of winter white-out, THAT’S when this had to happen. Had to travel in slush and cold, deal with delayed metros, the works.

They were late getting to me, naturally. Everyone must have had dental problems at the same time. Waited for an hour and a half in agony, pacing the floor, holding the right side of my head, and occasionally wincing.

Abscess? Nope. Cracked tooth? Nope. Infection pocket somewhere? Nope. They did full 360 x-rays of my mouth – absolutely no frigging problem anywhere. He tested my teeth and got zero reaction other than a normal one. But then a wave of pain hit while I was in the chair, after he’d injected me with numbing agents. It took me right back up on my feet, and the dentist was worried. That shouldn’t be happening, he said. A few more tests – this time, he hit a spot that almost made me jump through the roof. Yep, that’s the one. But I puzzled the dentist. He finally chalked it up to an irritated nerve that wouldn’t stop hurting.

Emergency root canal. Yeesh. You can hardly find three such intimidating words to string together. I was bloody shaking in my boots – not only was I in agony, I was terrified three times over. I hate dentists in general, and here it was a damned emergency. But at that point, I didn’t care if he pulled all my teeth. Just make the pain stop.

At first, it was fine. After the wave of pain left me, the area was numb. He began the procedure. Drilling: no pain. Start the work: no pain. It was the last bit, the final nerve and cleaning that was pain personified. I held up my hand as he’d asked me to – Stop! It hurts! He gave me about 10 second to catch my breath before continuing. And I squirmed. Tried not to squeal or cry out. It hurt like hell, and he kept saying ‘almost done’ for what seemed like forever.

Finally, thirty very long minutes later, it was over.

The head-splitting agony I’d been going thru was done. I could sit still. I could walk without feeling like I might pass out. And for the first time that day, I felt hungry.

Now I must make an appointment with my regular dentist and get the temporary filling replaced. Heading there this morning. Sad because I was going to go up to the film set and see everyone, turn in my expenses, and pick up the lights. But the echo of the pain I experienced is still with me. Eventually, that will fade. That happens. You kind of forget HOW bad it was – and that’s okay. For now, I remember all too clearly. And I just need some down time. Time to heal. Time to forget, if I’m honest. I don’t want to remember the last 48 hours.

HERBAL INFO TO REMEMBER: Chewing raw garlic for tooth aches works. It is horribly nasty, and you can’t swallow the garlic or the garlic oil in your mouth (stand by a sink and get ready to spit a lot, because raw garlic will really get your saliva glands going). And it’s temporary. I chewed four cloves of garlic yesterday afternoon because the pain kept returning. But damn! It gave me relief for 30-40 minutes at a time, and I was very grateful for it. Kept me from going completely crazy.

Someday, when I’ve left this flesh and moved on, they’ll open up this body to see what made me tick. And I hope to hover above the table, or sit in the corner, just to hear them say ‘Aha! Look at that! So that was her problem! That was why she had this pain, that was why she didn’t respond to this medication, that was why. She was wired differently.’ And they’ll take their notes and pictures, and maybe in the long run it will save someone else from going thru what I’ve gone thru.

Or, maybe they’ll just dump me in a trash container.

Happy thoughts. See why I need a little mental break?

It might be a pj’s all day kind of day. Just call the dentist (even confronting Dutch on the telephone isn’t as scary as what I just went thru). Watch films and cartoons. Play. Baby myself a bit. No scripts, no homework, no guilt over not making it up to the set today.

My kind of Monday.

Blend me

There. Downtime taken. Not easy. I was super squirrelly. Couldn’t actually nap, but I rested as much as possible and applied arnica lotion to my bruises throughout the day. Kept getting little jolts of excitement every time I went online, seeing posts from my film friends and friend requests and happily confirmed friendships and DAMN! I’ve never felt like I’ve had this many friends before.

Those feelings from the set are still oozing out of me. No longer from my hands; that part is over. Now it oozes from my eyes, as I tear up thinking about how much fun we had. I just felt so included and wanted. I still do, because of the continued online explosion.

But today it’s back to reality. The big equalizer: scrubbing out the toilet. Doesn’t matter if you’re King or Shit-Sweeper; scrubbing out a toilet brings everyone down to the same level. There’s dishes to clean, garbage to take out, a few items to pick up at the store, laundry to shift around. Get up and get moving again at the gym. Try to keep it all light, drink juice, take a break if I need it.

I still don’t have my holiday lights up yet.

Winter has come to the Netherlands. It’s been here for several days, but I’ve been too busy to pay much attention. Hail, sleet, and snow rain down from the cold skies every day. We might even get a little accumulation before the day is out. Almost hope for it; some of my new friends are from warmer climates and they talked about wanting to see a real snow. 🙂 I refrained from saying anything about ‘real snows’ or drifts five feet high when they said that. Dutch snow, I can handle. Even if a lot comes down, it doesn’t stick around.

…Have to admit, my deepest dreams are for family members to notice my posts about the film and show some interest. Maybe say ‘well done!’ I’m not holding my breath. They’ve had 52 years to tell me ‘well done’, 52 years to support me doing what I love, and so far all they’ve offered me are half-assed jokes at my expense. But I’d be lying if I said any different. I want that recognition from them. I want my mother to be proud of me. I want my father to acknowledge my beauty. Even with both my parents dead, and voluntarily cutting myself off from the rest of the family, I still want it. There’s the saddest thing of all, because I know I’ll never get it. Not from my mother or father. Not from my oldest brother or sister. Not from any of my aunts or uncles on my mother’s side. The extended family from my father’s side has always supported me from the moment time I met them. That was my very first clue: here were family members who took me as family, shared their lives with me in words and pictures, and supported me. Said ‘wow!’ or ‘well done!’ or ‘I’m so excited for you!’ They barely know me – we’ve never actually met in person – and yet they are so much more open and loving than my real family. It told me so much.

And it made me so sad. Oh, I’m done asking why. At least for today. The why doesn’t bloody well matter in the end, does it? The only thing that ends up mattering is what the hell you’re going to do with the mess you got dealt in life.

I see now, in hind sight… Ach! I was going to start saying I should have this or that. Fuck that. I did what I did. Chose how I chose. It taught me things, things I wouldn’t have learned any other way. I’ll embrace that. It’s hard to say thanks for it. Felt like a lot of shit to go thru, but maybe that’s because I’m bull headed and stubborn.

For now, I feel inspired. Fired up with standing up and being noticed. Moving forward for reals. Feels like my feet are firmly planted on the ground. I’m not building castles in the air. I’m not living on pipe dreams. I’m doing. I’m being.

And while part of me wishes I could take this knowledge back to myself and change things, let me make this abundantly clear to the Universe and anyone who’s listening: I DON’T WANT TO GO AROUND AGAIN. I want to see and be in the now, take the joy I can, love who I trust, do what I’m meant to do.

Holy fuck. Am I saying I want to…live?

That word has new meaning for me now. Live used to mean exist. I existed. I put up with the pain. But there’s a whole other dimension to that word. To truly live. Wow. It’s an immense feeling.

I want to keep that feeling, even when I’m scrubbing out the toilet today. I’ll live it. It’s just a tiny seed in the huge fruit of life. It’s hard, and tasteless. You might hurt yourself if you bite down on it too hard. It might be a bit bitter tasting, or slimy, or just gross. Don’t eat it. Consume the fruit. Spit the seeds. Everyone’s been telling me that, in their own words. Stop focusing on all the bad in life. Look on the bright side. Why can’t you take a compliment? But I didn’t have enough fruit. I was getting all seeds. My life was a pomegranate. And I don’t like pomegranates.

I’d been eating life raw. Very raw, and with no help from a cheery television chef telling me how to make this shit edible. Now, it feels like I’ve got a fully stocked kitchen with all the latest gadgets and gizmos. Just hit a switch and all the work is done for you.

Go on; do it.

Blend me.

May I have another?

Behold, the knees. I’m on the left, with the grey socks. My 21 year old co-star is on the right. After cut was called yesterday, we went up to change clothes and compare bruises. Don’t know how many times we ended up doing the death scene, but as you can see, we put everything we had into it.

This has to rank as the number one experience of my life. Been trying to think what might even come close to topping it, and I’m drawing a blank. The dedication of these young film makers – barely any sleep, push, push, and keep a great attitude. The sheer professionalism of them, from the camera work to the thought behind the shots. And damn! They were all so nice. I think I’m in love with each and every one of them.

That love translated into good work. When it came time for the big scene I drew it up – the tears, the despair over watching as your own child turns and kills you. Time after time. It was right there, behind my belly-button, and all it took was a bit of breathing. M, my costar, locked eyes as I went into it. And the further I went, the further she went. We began to feed off each other – the kind of thing you hear about on celebrity talk shows. The room faded, the crew were a background noise. It was the two of us, staring into each other’s eyes, falling into a world of pain and torment. And it. was. glorious. The best work I’ve ever been able to do, because everyone around me was that good.

…To be able to do that… To have an opportunity like that… I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how much it means to me.

Oh, Goddess! And to work with an actor who could match me!! That was another world. Gone were any inhibitions, any doubts. Had the director asked us to strip naked to do the shot, I think we could have without blinking an eye. That’s how intense and personal it was.

My hands never stopped leaking an oily sweat the entire shoot. That was the mania: uncontrolled, and oozing out of me even when I didn’t want it. But I didn’t shake. I didn’t falter. I didn’t back down or compromise. And it all got funneled into the role.

And there’s a story within a story here. Because not only was the shoot itself fabulous, the time around the shoot was fabulous, too. We did the filming at the home of the casting director, and her parents were around for most of the time. Her father honored me several times – he tried my homemade cordial for my voice, loved it, and promptly shoved some money in my hands to buy two bottles. He shared a family photo album of a trip to India. He spoke to me of his daughter, and his life. And his daughter! Oh, she’s a bright one! Found myself, as usual, spilling my guts in that no-nonsense way I seem to have these days. She said, ‘It’s kind of like therapy for you, isn’t it? I can tell by the way you say these things’. And yes, she’s right. I knew that a while ago. She’s just the first person to bring it up. She also told me how difficult it was for her to think of me as 52. ‘You’re very young. Like part of you hasn’t aged at all.’

Oh, I’d love to spend more time with her, and with her family! Good people. Straight talk, unafraid to say those things that need saying. Unafraid to hear what I have to say.

…I’ve had a taste of being a film star. Not just in name, but truly being a film star. Because it’s not what you do, it’s how people treat you that makes all the difference. I can only assume this translates into whatever field you study; that finally getting the accolades and notice you’ve worked so hard for always feels this good. I have been passed over so much – wait! I’ve allowed myself to be passed over so much! better! – , and these past two days are a big wake-up call on that front. Gratitude. Real gratitude for who I am and what I do. I feel accepted. In full, and without having to apologize for my weird sense of humor or the funny voices that sometimes burst out of me or anything else I do.

This is amazing. Absolutely amazing.

And all I want to do is fall down on my very bruised knees and scream THANK YOU! at the top of my lungs because prayer is far too quiet for what I feel.

This is me, actualized. In total. Giving it my all. Burning the way I know I was made to burn. Not turned away. Not ignored because other people were uncomfortable or didn’t know what to do or say. I was watched. I was admired – and TOLD. I was – dare I say it? – loved as much as I loved. I saw it and felt it. I was hugged not because that’s what you do at the end of filming, but because our emotions were overbrimming, because we knew we’d all shared something special and unique.

…I’ve no real plans, other than showering and babying my injuries. Thinking of maybe making a surprise visit on Monday to the set. I still owe the casting director’s dad a bottle of my cordial, and, well… As I was saying good-bye, and telling everyone how sad I was that it was over, someone said ‘you could always come visit on Monday’ and that’s just been turning in my brain overnight. I could see everyone again. Take care of the cordial, and pick up the lights. Drop off my expenses.

The more I consider it, the more reasons I find for going one more time.

Thank you. May I have another?

Bliss

For the first time in my life, I have to (gulp) admit to the reality of my mother’s fears. I could have got a big head doing this. A really big head.

I was admired, complimented, and helped to within a hair’s breadth of my life.

Got there early because, well, that’s what I do. Always, if possible. The director was working on script changes. In 20 minutes I had a new script in my hands. Essentially the same, but the group couldn’t find a fake hand that looked good, so they changed it to brains. So, arms to brains, move around the eye references a bit…basically, screw with the dialogue just enough to make it maddening. No worries; that’s what rehearsal is for, right? Use the new script and learn it. Met my fellow cast members, and I’ve got to say the group did an excellent job. The female playing my daughter has my blue eyes, and the man playing my husband is appropriate looking age-wise and body-wise (not to tall nor too short). We could be a family. Spent the afternoon running scenes, trying out different approaches, different timing and actions. Worked on establishing a believable connection between daughter and mother characters.

But it was the side stuff that truly affected me. The fact that during the rehearsal runs, I received no corrections, no ‘try this’ – nothing! – while the other actors were asked to do it again, try this, I don’t believe you’re feeling that, etc. In fact, I just had to ask. Is this working? Do you like what I’m doing? Oh, the shiny, happy face the director turned to me! Yes, he said, I love it. You’re believable and creepy all at the same time. Or how silent the room became every time I opened my mouth to give my opinion. Or how everyone stepped back when I offered a suggestion to another actor. How the casting director took me shopping afterwards to find a dress for my role, how she told me she’d noticed me during the theatre open meetings, that I’d stood out from the rest of the crowd immediately for her, that I was SO bleeding good and would I please help the other actors and lead them in warm-up exercises before the shoot? Goddess! She even told me how she was the driving force behind hiring me, even before auditions. I kept telling them they want you, that you’re the one who can do this, she said. They kept asking me, why are you pushing her before the auditions? Let’s see what she can do. I told them they don’t know who they’re dealing with, that they should be thanking you for taking the role… Or how my ‘daughter’ automatically helped me in our fight scene to gracefully fall to the floor without hurting myself. The sheer respect I felt! Wow! Now I know why old white men fight so hard for that chairman’s seat on the board of directors. Power and respect. Heady stuff.

I kept in mind everything I ever said about having acting opportunities. I made sure to compliment the other actors. I thanked everyone. Cracked a few jokes now and then (it wasn’t hard; my wig kept falling off) to make everyone laugh. Be not just a good actor, but a good person to have working on your team because she’s pleasant, nice, and just fun to be around.

Was told that of course there’s an opening night to which I’m invited. Hells Bells! From what I heard yesterday, it sounds like this is a very serious final project. They’re going to be advertising on tv. The school also hosts an awards night for best this and that, including actors (the casting director told me this with a knowing tone in her voice, as if she felt I really had a chance at winning an award).

This is bigger than I anticipated. …What did I fall into? A dream?

…No, it’s not a dream. My feet hurt too much for it to be a dream.

Scheduled for two hard days of filming, Thursday and Friday. Hopefully they won’t need me on Monday, but we have that, too, if we need it. Most of all, I’m worried about sweating. Can tell I’m off my exercise schedule; my hot flashes are back with a vengeance. And the wig is hot. The dress is hot. I’m just really, really hot the entire time. In some ways, that’s working for me. I can’t get too excited right now when I’m in costume or I’ll sweat all my make-up off. But it’s a forced calm, and that takes effort in itself.

Really need to use my mini-break today to get to the gym. Stood for most of yesterday, and my hips/back are feeling it. Add in hours of travel on the metro, and I need to move for sure today or I’ll be in agony by Saturday. Also need to meet the casting director downtown. Overheard a concerned discussion on lighting, and offered up our two LED stage lights. My bro mentioned them earlier, and here was an opportunity to ‘shine’ (ha!) just that bit more with the group. So I’m bringing them downtown to her, since she’s traveling from Den Haag. Easier. Meet half way. And it goes on my expense account.

Did not smoke yesterday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. And it was only on the trip home that I even thought about it. Then, I wanted it. Before then…never even crossed my mind. Who needed a toke during all that excitement and fun? I had a reason to stay sharp and clear, a reason to stay sober. Everything I expected from myself. Get me into an environment I can truly engage in, and I don’t even think about smoking.

Two more days of standing. Two more days of heat. Of early mornings and a plastered, false smile. Of false eyelashes, a dress that’s a little tighter than I want, and nylons.

Ah! Bliss.

A breath is all you need

Rehearsal today. Ten a.m. to 4 in Den Haag. Bring stuff, think, do my best, stay healthy! Mantras and mania; that’s my morning. Mania takes over – tense muscles, holding my breath. Then the mantras kick in, mostly: let it go, let it go. Whatever I’ve forgotten or failed to do by this point doesn’t matter. I have a long day ahead of me, with plenty of stress.

My hair will be played with. My face will be painted. I’ll be screamed at, choked, slapped, and asked to repeat lines ad infinitum.

Take no body issues with you! You are just a piece of marble. A sculpture called ‘actor’. This is the way you were carved; live with it. Use it, even. You can do things now that you were incapable of 30 years ago. Remember that.

Nodding. Frozen smile. Slow blinks. Got it.

Focus…

Wish I could have a look at the shooting script. It would tell me so much, like will my feet show? Where are the close-ups? How will we break the scenes? None of that is known right now, so I feel a bit unsure. I like to be prepared, but truth is, there’s only so much prep you can do for a film. Last minute changes are legendary. Best to have a good basis but not be entrenched in your ideas. I think I’m there.

Uploaded, formatted, and sent part three of the thriller off to the director. Did it yesterday morning, and paid for it with a headache that lasted all day long. Seems Celtx works for me now; I created three stage plays in my folder. Now I can load up parts one and two, and begin real work. Plus I get to keep them there, on my workspace, to modify as needed while the group works.

Turned in my kid’s story in Dutch. Or, what I have so far. Ugh. Made a million mistakes, and I know it. For one, found out for the VERY first time yesterday that the ‘u’ form is always handled as a single person, even if it means a large group. Really? Good Goddess! Now there’s a rule that wasn’t made clear to me when I first learned it. Well, that adds about three thousand errors to the kid’s story, because I used ‘u’ throughout. Fuck. Also, I keep writing ‘loopte’ rather than ‘liep’. Damned irregular verb! And it’s one that catches me out ALL THE FLIPPING TIME because ‘lopen’ (verb, ‘to walk’) is used so much. Add another several hundred mistakes to that story…

Still. Even with all those errors and rookie mistakes, my writing is improving.

Putting the rest of writing – even thinking of writing – in the closet. It’ll come out next week, when all this hub-bub is over and done with. Not the easiest to do. The writer is exploding with confidence, wanting to push out even more. Telling her to do her thing in the corner. Figure out what she needs to figure out. When it’s her turn again, her work will go that much quicker.

In the meantime, the rest of me is facing out. Looking at people. Interacting as well as acting. Listen to what they say. Think about your words. Be kind, be supportive. Most of all, be gentle with others and with yourself.

Gods. This is gonna go on the entire metro ride, you know. The repetitive pep talk. The calming reminders. And I’ll sit there, alone, with a small smile on my face, nodding and blinking. Over and over again. …Yeah, like that won’t look strange!

At least I’ve trained myself long enough to be fully alert at this hour. Ready for breakfast, even. That’s new.

Last minute list: things to bring. Water, juice, a bottle of my cordial. Wig, apron, jewelry, make-up. Script. Paper and pen. Hair stuff, teeth cleaning stuff, pain killers, phone. Sanity.

Excited. At that ready to jump spot; just point me in the right direction. I feel like a racer waiting for the starter gun.

Didn’t put money on my ov chip card. Should have enough to get up there; can always add more there. It’s a big station. They’ll take cash somewhere.

Let it go, let it go

There’s a quiet spot in me that’s been growing stronger and stronger. A calm in the storm. Somewhere I can reach to, close my eyes, and breathe. Don’t know how I’m doing it, but I’m thankful. It doesn’t work for a long time. Sometimes the calm only lasts during the breath I take.

But sometimes, a breath is all you need.

Who you are

Four a.m. is a lonely time. I suppose if you see four a.m. because you’re still up partying it doesn’t seem so lonely. But getting up that early is another matter. It’s dark – nighttime dark. And cold, and quiet. If I needed the time to tease a story out of me, it would be perfect.

Instead, I’m just re-setting my time clock: live normally, only a few hours earlier. That’s what makes it lonely. Get up alone, eat breakfast alone, spend hours alone because I’m off of the rest of the world.

Really makes me feel for those third shift people out there.

Another call from the casting director, with an apology for calling me on a Saturday. Ah, the Dutch! Even if the world was about to split apart, they’d apologize for bothering you with it on a Saturday. Called to see if I could make rehearsal on Tuesday. We need to test make-up and hair, check the dress she’s got for me, meet, greet, and rehearse with the rest of the cast, talk, and take care of whatever else comes up. Yep. Expected as much, and ready for it. Dug out my mother’s wedding ring and my pearl necklace. Finally! A chance to use them.

Me: played Susie Housemaker and cooked up dinner. Usually that’s my bro’s job, but Saturday is his comic day, so it fell to me. Didn’t need to do much, but I kept thinking about the role: she would make a full dinner. She would do it and be happy about it. She would lay out the table, make hot bread, think three steps ahead and be serving up the food the moment people walked in the house. So I did just that, to get in her skin.

Also spent time in front of the mirror. Usually, the only time I look in the mirror is to fix my hair or brush my teeth. Now I’m trying out smiles and small nods. I’ve determined the key to this role: I can’t move my eyebrows. She is cool as cool; as the old saying goes, butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. And so, always a smooth brow. A small, almost sad smile: look how much I do every moment for you! It’s both believable and surreal – too real to be fake and too off to be completely comfortable with. Keeping my eyebrows still is a challenge. I’ve the kind of face that moves with expression, and in my natural state I’ve been told many a time I could never play poker well. My eyebrows jump and twitch. I can feel them doing vaults over my eyes – in particular, that right eyebrow raised to a pitched arch with my left eyebrow steady and glowering. Yes. I speak with my damned eyebrows. …Like right there, when I realized there was no more coffee. Pop, went that right eyebrow. Really and truly? Hm. That’s a shame. She doesn’t do that. Smooth forehead. Slow turns of the head. Slow blinking, even. Been practicing it. I like the way it looks in the mirror. Hope the director likes it, too.

Chilled yesterday in between bursts of Susie H. Felt I deserved it and that it was warranted. I did well on my audition, and I need to conserve my strength (which means relaxing when I can). Today I want to walk at the gym and get thru my Dutch homework. Also want to prep for Den Haag. I might need to head up there on Wednesday, as well. Sure that will depend on how Tuesday goes. Must make sure I get laundry done; it’ll be my last opportunity before next weekend. Trying to keep my cuticles under control and my nails neat. Do a last check for earrings; haven’t found any I felt were appropriate.

Things I really should invest in: a pair of natural looking false eyelashes. A pair of pumps, for a (ugh) dress. A new bra or two. Pantyhose. Earrings. Maybe some make-up that isn’t so garish. All could be used for the film, and I don’t have any of it. Seems a bit weird. The shoes, anyway. But I gave up on all that. Stopped caring so much. I am me. I shouldn’t have to window dress myself like that. Groom myself, yes. Take care with my appearance, sure. But paint myself up with poisons and dead animals? Throw my back and hips out of balance by tip-toeing on some impossibly high shoes? Hell no! That’s…insecurity. What about you makes you feel you have to do that? It’s not comfortable. It’s not healthy. I just don’t get it.

She, of course, gets it. She lives it. And so I must change. Drop my attitude and embrace hers. I’m not going to torture my feet with pumps all week, but I will try to remember that’s the way she lives. I did it at one point in my life. The memories are there. And I fully expect to be handed a pair of shoes to wear. If I can wear my sneakers because my feet won’t show, I will. But I’ll think pumps.

…I sometimes wonder how much of this is me. I am very visceral, and must do to learn. Want to know what madness is like? Go there. I am also a parrot, picking up gestures and phrases and mimicking them back. Right at this moment, I can’t think of one thing I do or say that I haven’t seen or heard done by someone else. I am not original. I’m just kind of an idiot savant at parroting back exactly the right thing at the right time to the right person. A spliced together sound and vid file that seems to answer you with the appropriate response.

What’s underneath all the learned bits? That’s what I keep asking.

Time to anchor myself solidly again, before I drift off into another persona.

Punk. Toker. Joker. Brilliant. Powerful. Feminist. Person. Student. Teacher.

That’s who you are.

Film star

Wow. I was gonna do some improv… I thought the dialogue wasn’t that good. But you…somehow, you made those words sound natural. I don’t know how you did that.

That was the director, yesterday afternoon. Truth is, I was made to stand in front of three 20 something year olds and forced to listen to compliments. Yes! Torture. The casting director told me how, when she first heard from the theatre group that someone was interested, she prayed – prayed – that it was me. I heard how blown away they were that I’d memorized the dialogue. How brilliant my delivery was, how perfect I was, how wonderful and amazing everything that came out of my mouth was.

The ego is stroked, people! WOW! Is this the way other people feel? I mean…good about themselves? Is this how other people can have such a positive outlook on life – because they allow themselves to hear the compliments and really take them in? Because there’s no one in their lives raining on their parade, telling them they’re not really good or successful because of whatever reason? Is this success? Self confidence? …Even self-like? (Won’t go so far as to say self-love, but self-like is a big step for me.)

I knew I had it. The call that came in at 8 in the evening to tell me I had it was anti-climatic.

So, to business. I’ve three days of filming in Den Haag. Going to have to be there by 7 or 8 in the morning, so I’m prepping now by getting my ass out of bed at 5. Get used to those early hours again. The script is in flux, as most film scripts are right up to the point they shoot the scenes. I was told they’re thinking of doing it straighter, hold back on the creep factor (which, apparently, I nailed as well). The casting director wants me in a dress; I was asked my dress size and a full body picture was requested. Don’t yet know if I’ll be wearing a blond wig or going natural, but I was told to expect make-up and hair preparations. Ooo! I’ll feel like a real film star. There may be rehearsals as well, so my three days in Den Haag might stretch to four or five.

For moi, it’s taking care of the animal. Getting to the gym to walk each day – no push, no pull, just walk. Keep the back in shape. Take my vitamins and pills. Get to bed, hopefully a bit earlier each night to help me thru these 5 am wake-ups. Stay calm, and focused. Do what I can to combat the bags under my eyes.

Because I was also told the group’s teacher was a working film director who has worked on many Dutch films. Ding! There’s my in. He’ll see my work no matter what; he’s the one who’s got to grade it. Have a little fantasy of going to the screening – film students always have screenings, even if it’s only at their school – and their teacher comes up to me. Ah! he says. You do wonderful work! You know, I know of someone who could use you… And the next day I’m contacted by someone who’s in the biz, who’s offering me a small part with pay. Which leads to another part, and another part, and bigger paychecks all the way along.

I like that fantasy.

…You know, for a 52 year old woman who’s spent a long time in rural situations far from the glitz and glamour of movie-lands throughout the world AND who doesn’t have an agent, I think starring in my second film is pretty damned impressive. No matter how you want to cut it up: it’s a student thing, I’m not getting paid, blah-de-blah. It’s still fucking impressive.

And I get to miss another week of language lessons. We’re filming next Thursday and the following Monday. My Monday teachers will get the full news, along with what is now an 11 page hand written kid’s story in Dutch (not yet finished). My Thursday teacher will get an SMS on Wednesday telling her I’m not coming. No reason given; I don’t want to waste the money on my phone and I don’t know how to correctly write it all out.

I feel like a kid. Not only do I get to go, dress up and pretend to be someone else for three days, I get out of school for it.

…Oh. For the record: I went relaxed, but took everything with me. A change of clothes, some make-up, jewelry, and the wig. Had occasion to laugh heartily on the trip there: I was waiting at Beurs metro station for my connection when the casting director called and asked me if I could bring the wig along, just for the director to see what I looked like as a blond. Sure, I said, knowing it was in the bag at my feet. Got there, loads of time, no stress, no worry, with the easiest possible path there and zero confusion on directions (even without buying a map). Into the bathroom to get my hair tied up and under the wig. Damn! Was I pleased I’d brought along a change of clothes! Huge sweat stains under my arms. Change the shirt, put on the wig, darken my eyebrows…even had time to just sit in the lobby and acclimate myself to the hair. All in all, no, I didn’t need that extra time but I’m VERY happy I built it in.

Now it’s a weekend of mirror work. Tilt my head, smile, try different facial expressions. Keep running the scenes each day for memory’s sake.

‘Cause a week from today, I’ll be a film star.