Hangin’ in there

One of the hardest things to do is to keep going even if you feel you’re not making any progress or doomed to failure from the moment you begin. Two things are gnawing at me today (and they’re no big surprise): my writing and my weight.

Hopped on a scale yesterday. Mistake. BIG mistake. I haven’t done it for years and I don’t know what got into my head. Guess I was feeling a bit cocky. A little sleek and fit. I wanted to prove to myself that yes, I’ve modified my body size and aren’t I good little girl for keeping up on my diet and exercise. And I have lost weight since last I was on a scale. Must keep that in mind. A whopping 3.4 kilos.

There’s plenty of sayings about puncturing your ego with a pin – and that’s exactly what it felt like. One moment I was admiring my bicep muscles and feeling pretty good about myself, the next I was poking my pudgy middle and berating myself for being such a fat, old woman. And I thought Holy Fuck! All those hours in the gym, in the pool, walking when I don’t want to walk, denying myself sugary goodies or treats, cutting back on meal size, going to bed hungry – and I’ve taken off a whole 3.4 kilos. I mean, seriously…is it worth it?

As for writing…I search out theatres looking for submissions every other week or so. Pull half a dozen PDFs, put them aside to look at again. And I always think I’ve got some real winners in there – sure fire places that’ll take my work. Look! My stuff fits their requirements perfectly. They’ll love it! Then the time comes for me to really read it through and prep up to send out – and I notice all sorts of things that scare me off. Don’t put in too many acts, keep it to six or less characters, don’t give too much lighting or sound cues, don’t send if you’re not some purple eyed booger monster that crawled out of the deep from a crack opened up in Kentucky. The restrictions go on and on. So much so that I wonder if some of these groups EVER get a submission that perfectly fits all their requirements.

Then I have afternoons of feeling useless. Oh, they won’t take it because of this, it’s too long for that theatre, too many characters (or too few) for that group, or I don’t live there so they won’t even bother opening it up. The ‘no’s’ become so loud I feel overwhelmed, and just want to hide.

I tell myself it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to feel defeated. It’s just not okay to give up.

So I wait a day or two, until I have some self confidence back. Then I prep up and send out without allowing myself to think too much. Let them make the decision, I tell myself. Let them say no. If I take myself out of the running before the race even begins I’ll never get anywhere.

*sigh*

Doing well with memorizing my part for the play. One or two places I need a memory jog, but considering tomorrow is only my second rehearsal with the director I think I’m ahead of the game. I like this role because it calls for a lot of acting without words. My partner may have the longer dialogue, but I’ve got the reaction to his lines – which is far more powerful (especially the way I plan to play it). There is not one minute of stage time when I’m not wringing my hands or rubbing them together or fussing with my hair – all nervous habits my character needs to display. Big thing I’m working on now: a quick eye shift, left to right. It’s something everyone does without thinking about it, but it’s a lot harder to do it on cue and make it look natural. Same with allowing any emotion to emerge on your face: you gotta make it look natural, and as soon as you think about it, it’s no longer natural. Trying to BE the role more than act the role. Keep myself on edge for the scene. Allow my personal nervous habits to come to the fore. If I’m IN the role, my face will react the way I want it to. If I ACT this thing, it won’t. So I must be a late middle aged lonely woman who’s very nervous about meeting someone for the first time.

Gee. Like I don’t know that.

..Okay, I’m not LATE middle aged. But other than that….

Watched an outstanding documentary on the Night Witches. Took notes from the book my director leant me. There’s still a lot of that story that’s foggy for me. Do I set this at the training facility? Thought I might, but after watching the documentary I’m rethinking that. I’m zeroing in on 9 months in 1943. The regiment is up and active, and the fighting intense. I’d hit the worst months of the war, including the death of their leader. And I’ve built in reasons to write it: it would begin with the first replacements reaching the regiment, and end with the recognition of the regiment as an official guard unit. But I’ve vowed to keep on researching. One idea will come to the forefront, show itself to be superior to my other ideas.

I just gotta hang in there.

Monsters ahead and behind

One, two, three – send. The script is out to the competition it was written for.

Worked on my synopsis. Asked my bro for advice; he IS the person in the house that’s gone to a Uni scriptwriting class. Was surprised. I worked hard on the synopsis, particularly the opening three lines – which, after I read them aloud, is where my brother stopped me with a ‘Right there! That’s perfect!’ Thought I needed more, but my bro feels I should just let this loose on the world with a three line write up.

So it’s out. Sent. Available to read. Again. Hopefully I will NOT receive a reply stating the terms and conditions have been changed.

Bolton may get a mini-teaser. A short 700 word scene that ties into this script. I want a few things done first, tho.

Today: memorize. Seven pages to learn for the play. Rehearsal is scheduled for Tuesday and I’ve barely begun to learn my lines. Been reading it through, but reading isn’t the same as memorizing. Put in the time now. Not particularly worried; as I’ve said before, I say a lot of “yes” and “uh-huh” in the first pages. One larger monologue to work on, but I already have the general flow of dialogue.

Get to the gym. Tidy up the house. Do those weekend things that always need doing.

Had a nose bleed this morning. Usually blood doesn’t bother me, but my nose hacked up a bloody mass that looked (apologies ahead of time) like an aborted fetus, and I almost threw up. It stopped fairly fast, and it wasn’t really all that bad. But it was my first nose bleed ever, and I really didn’t expect such a stomach turning reaction from myself.

Haven’t buckled down on my research yet. Still need to take notes, check some online documentaries, and order the book I want. I think…MAYBE…I’m learning to accept my timing and writing rhythms. I know what I can do, and how quickly I can do it. I also know the longer I allow my head to think, the shorter the writing time is. So I’m not freaking out despite my apparent foot dragging. I’m not actually dragging my feet; I’m working. Just on a different level.

Boy, do I wish I could tell that to my mother!

…Boy, do I wish I’d stop thinking that thought! Maybe I do look backwards too much. Oh, hell. There’s no maybe about it, and I know that. Just trying to soften the blow for myself.

But, you know…rear view mirrors were created for a reason. ‘Cause every once in a while, shit creeps up on you from behind. And as every horror film shows us, if something creeps up on you from behind, it’s up to no good.

Looking back isn’t a bad thing. As long as you don’t run into the monster right in front of you, that is!

I’m well aware of the monsters behind me. Narcissism, neglect, self hate, depression. They’re all still hot on my tail. But what’s the monster in front of me? That’s easy: fear. The future. Uncertainty and doubt.

One thing I’ve learned: that monster in front of me is gonna come no matter what I do. But the monsters behind me…now those, I can fight.

Nobody said it would be easy

Friday lesson: better than I thought it would be. My teacher listened to me, for one thing. Not just listened, but he attempted to implement my suggestions immediately. That felt good. Being heard always feels good.

Weird incident, though. Don’t know precisely what happened, ’cause I was reading along in the book. But this other student, this guy (emphasis on that word because he’s a real character) must have touched or groped the female teacher. She almost jumped out of her chair. Bitched him out and told him to move, that he couldn’t sit next to her. He ignored her. Maybe it was an accidental graze. I really don’t know. What I do know is the dude in question is questionable; he’s always angry and makes no bones about it. And he stares a lot. At me. With a look on his face I can’t quite pin down. Hate? Lust? Both? I’ve found it unnerving in the past, and in future I’ll find it more so.

Nursing a big lump of angry disappointment. Heard from Bolton; suddenly they’ve modified their terms and conditions. Now a script can’t be more than 700 words. 700 words! My blog posts are longer than that. Why the fuck didn’t they say that up front? Don’t know if I’ll write something for them now or not. I can shit 700 words out pretty quick. But I’m still kind of angry. So I guess I’ll just wait and see how long my irritation lasts.

On the up side: plenty of places to send to. Writing up a synopsis (UGH) and updating my CV. Think I might have something that’ll work, so I’m in down mode now. Give it 24 hours before I read it again. Otherwise I’ll just go round and round – very much the proverbial dog chasing its own tail.

Stepping up research on the next script. Still do not know the name of my main character. I want to use real names, but I’m taking full artistic license with the names I choose. This is for an American audience, and if there’s one thing I know about American audiences, it’s this: give them too many Russian names and I’ll lose them. So I want to choose names with simple and familiar diminutives. Right now, she’s just ‘the new girl’. She’s already a pilot, and a little cocky about her skills. I’m getting a sense of the other women, too. How they react to this newcomer. And the men. The slurs, the set-ups. Letting my mind wander through these ultra short scenes. I need to pick and choose the best. Hone it down. Make it run on a limited cast. And figure out how – or IF – I can write a scene while the women are in their planes. Can’t expect them to have big sets. So it’s gotta be lighting and sound again. Hm.

Doing my best to keep up with a gym visit every other day. Not easy. When I get in that groove, I want to push every day. When I’m not in that groove, it’s a pain to just put my shoes on and head over there. Trying to do what’s best for my body – day on, day off. Meh. If only my body and my head would mesh better.

Still find myself just snapping at my brother once in a while. Why can’t I apologize to him for that? I should. Instead I ignore it and privately vow to do better. And I do better, for a while. Then I mess up again.

*sigh* I guess nobody said it would be easy.

Right here, right now

The script is out. Finished the A4 formatting, checked the entry page, wrote a short intro letter, and clicked send. No more thinking.

As usual, I was hit with a wave of manic energy afterwards. Bad enough my brother mentioned it was affecting him. I headed to the gym.

Think I might have turned the corner on my weight issue. Think I might have dropped some excess weight without quite knowing it. I mean, I wear sweat pants almost 24/7. It’s hard to judge where your body is when you’ve always got elastic waisted pants on. But I caught a few glimpses of myself that didn’t make me look wider than I am tall. A few sidelong looks where I thought gee, my stomach doesn’t stick out as much as it used to. And, hallelujah, I’ve found my collarbones again. Don’t even have to sink my chest in to see them – I can just stand there as usual and out they pop.

The house is pretty clean, thanks to my bro helping me on Sunday. I felt bad for a fleeting moment; he did the hoovering and ended up in a sweat because…well, it’s hoovering. Means you gotta move all the furniture and get underneath. It sounds like an easy job, but it isn’t. And I reminded myself of all the sweaty hours I spent cleaning this place, and the last one, and the one before that – and suddenly I didn’t feel so bad or guilty for allowing him to take on this tough task. Sometimes I think my bro needs to be reminded that hoovering sucks, that doing the dishes every day can make you lose your mind, and that housework doesn’t just get done all by itself.

No rehearsal Monday. The director bowed out with a sore throat. More than happy about that; I’m over anxious about staying healthy and my number one freak out is being exposed to other people’s illnesses. No rescheduled date yet.

Strangest thing this morning. Two strangest things. One, my hoodie is missing. It’s not in my room nor the living room, and I was just using it yesterday. Two, my coffee cup is missing. Gone. Non-existent. Had to use a secondary cup, not my normal one (didn’t feel right). Can’t for the life of me figure out why someone would come in, grab my hoodie and coffee cup and split. But I’ve been up and down this tiny place and see zero sign of either of them.

Finished reading the book on the Night Witches my director gave me. Need to make some notes. The bibliography lists several sources to check on for factual info. I’m well pleased with the info provided in this book. Gives me a good grounding on the groupings within the military and how they work in such a strict hierarchal system. And I’m beginning to see the play. Found my main character the other day. She’s still developing, but I caught the first glimpse of her. Beginning to know some of what the characters will face in the play. It’s big – and exciting. The setting I’ve chosen to write about allows me to bring in as many famous flyers as I want. It’s a strong skeleton, and I’m pinning my ideas down with factual points – dates, names, deaths.

First, tho, finish the US formatting for the current script. Get it out to as many places as I can find, because I think this one is a doozy. Do my Dutch homework. Keep getting to the gym. Keep following through on my commitments. Keep myself focused and busy in the now, not the past, not the unwritten future.

Right here, right now. This is where you make the change.

I wonder

Thirty minutes on the cross trainer. No more fucking around. The additional ten minutes were easier than the first ten. Thirty minutes on the bikes – giving my feet a rest from the treadmill. Thirty minutes lifting weights and getting eyed up by all the men pushing their bulging biceps just a little bit further.

I sweat a lot at the gym. Not because I’m that fat, or because I abuse alcohol, but because I drink copious amounts of water each and every day. Doesn’t take much exertion to get sweat going with me – and I consider that a good thing; sweating is a natural cleansing process. Sweat pours off my face, soaks my shirt. I drip.

And people look at me. Never know exactly why. Do they think I look ridiculous, working so much while in this old body? Do they worry I might keel over from too much exertion?

…Why does anybody look at anybody in the gym? Is it a diss thing? Does it allow shallow people to judge and find you (or me) lacking so that they feel better about their own pathetic existence?

I’m not so stupid as to forget the basics: the gym is the new meat locker. No, I didn’t spell that wrong. I said meat locker and I meant meat locker. It’s the place to go and scope the sex you’re attracted to. See it all – the muscles and the flab. Make your choice whether to fuck or not fuck based on the daylight, stripped down version rather than the nighttime dolled up version at a club.

So I gotta ask – why look at me? Don’t you know how old I am?

Honest answer: no. No, they don’t know how old I am. And thanks to a certain disgusting American “comedy” show that birthed anagrams like MILTF, they don’t even care that I’m older. Because even an older bitch is still worth a ride. Not a relationship, mind you, – but a ride. Once in a while.

Ignore. Got a pair of psychic blinders I put on that helps me studiously ignore all such nonsense – and usually the soundtrack is something heavy duty, too, like Lacuna Coil or Queensryche.

Have found a temporary balm for my troubled soul in the form of a tv show. Yeah, I know. Keeps me on my ass, sitting around, and all too easy to smoke. Tough. It’s soothing my angry spirit, calming my worried mind – so it’s worth it right now.

All the wind is knocked out of my sails right now with the script. Still got formatting to do, and my head screams with boredom so loudly when I think of it I swear it’s audible in the room. Hope I’ll find my enthusiasm again soon, and everything will get done in that lickety-split manner that happens when you’re all ready for the long haul. If not…well, I still got two weeks to complete it and get it out before the deadline. Even if I’m screaming out loud by then, I can get it done.

Sleep is my friend again. Seems someone out there listened to my fevered prayer. The Sandman doesn’t just sprinkle my eyes at night, he whaps me over the head with his full sandbag and I’m down for 10 hours minimum.

Tomorrow night is another play rehearsal. Have not even opened the script. On some level, I feel it’s not necessary. We’re still blocking the piece out. Trying different pauses and inflections. Why memorize my role one way, then have the director tell me to do it differently? Better to get his take on the whole thing, then rehearse it with his notes.

Dutch is a little better. My head took my language frustration seriously, and I can tell I’m really trying to zero in on the words again. Not back to reading the novel; when I’ve the energy to read, I’m researching for my next script. But I am trying to do a page of exercises in my books before classes. …Oh, yeah. And I skipped on Friday. Can’t help but think skipping the most stressful lesson of the week helped me to refocus. My teacher really ramps me up, and that doesn’t help me learn.

My brother has promised to help me today with housework. I bitched yesterday morning about it. Loudly and clearly. Didn’t blame, just whined that the continual grind of it makes me forget what day it is. Doing the same chores every single day in the same manner at the same time with no variation can really fuck you up that way. And I’m always too bushed from doing the basics to do any of the bigger stuff. So I hope with help today to get the hoovering AND the dusting done, all in one go. Clean the mirrors, scrub out the sinks. If we can do enough that I don’t feel I’ve got to clean something every damned day, I’ll feel better.

At least for a week.

Very much feels like I’m trying to get ahead of my darkness. If I can stay a half step ahead of it, if I eat right and get enough sleep and exercise regularly, maybe, maybe I won’t go down again. I know that’s a lie. I’ll go down again. I always go down again.

And I’ll be honest here. As a writer, or a wanna-be writer growing up, I wanted to go down. I wanted to know rock bottom. How could anyone effectively write about something they know nothing about? It seemed to me that all the great writers went down, found that pit of base humanity from which to write – and thus, all the great stories were born. So I said to myself, yes, I want that. I need to know what it is.

Did I drive myself mad? Did I embrace insanity at some point to know? I wonder.

The Old Fashioned Way

Three a.m. …Three a.m.!

I tried to stay in bed. Honest I did. But the season’s first buzzing insect came in and dive bombed my ear – probably something that, if I heard like a normal human being, wouldn’t bother me but I DON’T hear like a normal human being – and that was it; I couldn’t stand the noise, my head started to race and after an hour of tossing and turning I said fuck it and got up. If I’m dead tired by the time my lesson begins, I just won’t go.

In that strange way that my life persists in unfolding, waking up so early was a good thing. My bro left the windows open last night, and guess what’s happening outside the windows? Yep. Full on storm. I’d have had a very wet kitchen and living room if I hadn’t got up.

As it is, I sit now in the dark, a cup of coffee and a smoke by my hands, listening to the howling winds and pounding rains.

…C’mon. Gimme some thunder and lightening.

Got to the gym on Tuesday, felt damned good about it, too – evidenced by my post. La-de-dah. Is it perhaps possible to have TWO good days in a row? Or is that just way out of line?

Wrestling with formatting the script. Damn, damn, damn. Now I remember why I searched out software for my computer. Bleeding frustrating internet connection and cloud service! Meh. Sorry; I know I sound like a crotchety old lady when I talk about technology these days. But REALLY?!? I’ve lived long enough to see phone service start from shit, go to great, then go back to SHIT with the advent of mobiles. I was there at the hail of the business computer system. Oh, we’ll go paperless, they said. You know what happened? Twice as much paper was WASTED because of the manner that everything got printed out, and copies had to be run because COMPUTERS FUCK UP. And audio? Children, don’t even get me started. I know y’all can’t hear, anyway.

Grumble, grumble, grouse, and bitch.

You know, progress is a clear step forward. Not half a step forward while your other foot slides back into the muck. Humanity’s slipping. Sacrificing quality for speed. Not a big surprise. So many on the planet think it’s okay to sacrifice all sorts of things for another buck.

Haven’t you paid attention? You don’t have more time with all these electronic gadgets. You aren’t better informed. Just the opposite. You’re down to reading tweets as news, and spend all your time with your heads buried in your phones playing games or messaging or doing some bullshit that’s NOT NEEDED.

Like anyone CARES you just took the biggest dump of your life.

Goddamn it!

……Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. I hate starting a day this way. 

Prospects for going to class are diminishing rapidly. *sigh* All I want to do at this point is get my head on straight. After that – class or no class, sleep or no sleep, gym or no gym, work or no work – doesn’t matter.

Oh, I’m off. Well off. Bad dream? Some storm rider, come into my dreams thru the window? Don’t remember. Only remember the buzzing insect, the tossing and turning, then the storm.

It’s a mini bad day. I get them once in a while. Only real solution is the old fashioned one: let it run its course. Get up when I can’t sleep. Write. Watch tv. Nap when I can. My entire schedule will get turned topsy turvy, but them’s the breaks. I’ve tried these days the other way: pushing thru. Does not work well. I snap and bite and generally drive people off. Better to hermit the day away, and fall asleep to the pounding rain.

3 (not so) Easy Steps to Trusting Yourself

  1. Say  you’re going to do something.
  2. Do it.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2.

I’m gonna do something. Don’t state unmeasurable goals. Don’t say ‘I’m gonna lose weight’ – there’s no time limit and no weight stated. Say instead ‘I’m gonna go to the gym three times a week’ or ‘I’m gonna eat a salad every day before I have my dinner’. These are concrete and measurable goals.

Do it. No excuses, no alibis. Commit, and follow through. As long as you follow through, no self-bashing allowed. If your head starts to berate you, saying ‘Sure, you went to the gym but you never even worked up a sweat’ or ‘Great, you had salads but they were slathered with dressing’ – tell your head to go to hell. The trick to part 2 is just to do it, not do it well, not master it or get it all done in one go. Just DO it. All that crap your head is telling you in step 2 should be shoved off to step 3.

Repeat steps 1 and 2. Now is when you master it. Now is when you find your stride. In the repeats. It’s called practice, and everyone needs it. Push a little harder at the gym. Use less salad dressing. Take what you began with in step 2 and build on it.

We have this weird self denial going on: sometimes – even when we know a thing will take a long time to manifest – we act like it should be happening instantaneously. I see people at the gym like that all the time. They come in, they put heavy weights on, they power lift for 20 or 30 minutes, and then they don’t come back for a week or more. Or someone ‘diets’ for a week and expects to see a big change in the scales.

If you’re making a real change in your life, it’s long term. Long term not just to get there, but also to maintain.

And kiddies, trust is all about long term.

If someone with a perfect track record fucks up – badly – even once, …well, you doubt him or her next time, don’t you? Even if you don’t want to. Even if that person is your closest friend. Some part of pipes up and reminds you of that disaster and the possibility that it could happen again. Same is true with yourself. Fuck up on a commitment to yourself just ONCE, and you’ll have to work twice as hard to regain the trust you just lost.

Two tips:

  1. Start small. Build your trust in yourself like you would with a child. Ask yourself to stand up, first – not run full out like an Olympic champion. You’re a baby. Stand up and keep your balance, then give yourself a gold star. Yeah, it’s tough. Tough to tell yourself you’re doing well when you feel a fool, or when you feel you should be able to do more. Ignore it, and praise yourself. After you stand, take a step. Then two steps. Expect to fall on your ass more than once. Get up, and try again.
  2. If it helps, make a list. If you’re a self doubter, a self hater, make a list of everything you want to accomplish every day, like a grocery list. Then check ’em off. At the end of the day, praise yourself for all the checked off items. Move unchecked items to tomorrow’s list. Keep at it.

The good news: once you begin to establish trust with yourself, it snowballs. The process becomes easier.

And just like anything else, keep at it. Fail a few times. Take time off from it. But always – ALWAYS – come back to this basic equation. It’s a key component to life, and one most of us aren’t taught.

Take it upon yourself to learn it.