Bring it on

Put those gold stars all over my forehead. I did good.

Not only did I ‘get up off my ass’ to do laundry and errands, I also tackled garbage, recycling, and dishes, jumped thru the ring of fire for my pharmacy and ordered new injections, and updated the theatre website.

Feel a bit bad about the last; L actually sent me a note yesterday asking for the password for the website so she could put up a notice that we were NOT doing my trilogy in 2019. I apologized to her; that’s my job. She must have received one too many messages referencing the production. I mean… Great that people got enthused over my story and my write-ups. But she shouldn’t have to be the one to explain to everyone that we’re not doing it and regrouping. Down came the graphics, down came the long thought over write-ups. *sigh* It was the last nail on the coffin for me, the final confirmation that my dreams of a European premiere will not happen in 2019. Posted in the blog, too. Kept it light-hearted. Wound up with a final mention of L’s play on Saturday. She deserves it.

Looking ahead: M is gonna be very busy after his first child is born. He certainly won’t be performing in anything for at least 6 months, and he may find it difficult just to make board meetings. T, the director, is not officially listed as a board member. He comes to all the meetings and his opinion matters because he’s the one who has to head every production, but in reality it’ll just be L and me. I won’t be too much help with venues; despite everything said here, you’ll only get an earful of Dutch when you talk to anyone in the city. You need fluency, and I don’t have that.  Once again, I find myself determined to support L in any way possible. She’ll have to work her way through venues and dates and tussle with a lot of behind the scenes problems. She needs to take the lead, too, due to the language thing. Plus, she’s the senior member. I want to be her right hand, the person who steps up and takes care of what needs to be done as quickly as possible. That’s why I worked hard to update the website yesterday, and why I was so pleased to send her message saying it was all done by 3 in the afternoon.

Haven’t heard anything about filming L on Saturday, so I don’t know. Haven’t bought a ticket online. From what I can see, if I did that I’d get an E-ticket to print up. I don’t have a printer right now, so it would be a pain in my ass to try and send it around and get a copy. Easier to pay right at the door. I don’t expect the show to be sold out.

The weather is just getting worse and worse. Snow by the weekend seems inevitable; everyone expects it. Happy to say I already bought a new pair of snow shoes when they were on sale. Not the best on the market, but certainly the best option for me at the time.

So…bring it on.

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*burp*

I may never eat again.

Nervousness was the word of the evening. I was nervous and so was my bro. We hauled ass to Den Haag, taking 2 trains and a tram to get to S’s house. Thank you, Google, for getting the mapping correct. Even tho I got out at a different station than I did when we filmed, I walked straight to the house with the online directions.

S greeted us at the door, looking lovely. We walked into a family gathering – aunts, uncles, a few school friends of S. Loads of Dutch. I was pleased to S’s parents again; they treated me very well during the filming and I really enjoyed their company. Nothing had changed: her family members greeted me with hugs and the traditional three kisses.

As soon as we sat down, the food came out.

First: a beet salad. Next: a plate of hors d’oeuvres. By that time I was more than full, but no! Dinner was called around 9 p.m., and they just wouldn’t hear of us leaving before the cake was cut and enjoyed.

Conversation was a mix of English and Dutch. I was very happy to see my bro conversing with people. He later told me his stomach was in knots, but he didn’t show it at all. Kept his cool thru it all. I kept encouraging him, telling him no one would know how nervous he was and he wasn’t ignoring others in the conversation.

We left around ten thirty, thanking everyone. Hugs and kisses from everyone. Within a minute of walking out the door, my bro started farting loudly. He’d been holding in gas from nervousness and finally let it all out. And out. And out. Farted almost the whole way back to the tram station, poor guy. That couldn’t have been comfortable for him.

I am still burping up last night’s dinner. Too late to eat for me. Don’t really think I’ll need much in the way of food today. Don’t plan on doing much and I can tell I’m still digesting everything.

And, oh! That was my last thing during this break. The last thing I needed to be concerned about. The last thing I needed to make an effort for.

Now, I’m free.

Do not think I’ll get out of my jammies today. Sloth and digestion: that’s all I want to do. Maybe a bit of Poldark.

My head is turning back to writing. Plan on setting aside a few hours every day to just sit and do it. Finish off the comedy and get it out. Steady work; that’s what’s needed. No need to get lost for 10 hours at a time. No need to go all haywire so I can’t even hold a conversation. Just…putter. Here and there. Tinker. It’ll write itself.

If ever I can get past my oh so full stomach, that is!

*burp*

I’ve lived it

Went thru Act 3 last night. That’s the act I was most worried about. Some negativity from the actors, some misinterpretation of my story…it was adding up to concern that the third act wasn’t gonna go well. And while I’m dealing with some non-native English speakers who have to practice what word to emphasize in some sentences, they’re listening to the director, adding in their own things, and it’s coming together. But, yeah. We laughed last night, but the mood was far more serious than the other two acts – even when I went into clown mode, miming wild gestures. That is due to the actor playing the government agent. She is such a buzz-kill. Even when she’s being a bit playful, she’s somber. But at least she can be playful.

Connected everything with everything. My phone is somehow connected now to FB, tho FB ended up being a shit and making me put in a new password even tho my home computer is still signed in on the old password. But, hey! I saw the news articles about FB. I don’t expect much other than personal invasion.

I’m being dragged into the 21st century whether I like it or not…

Got some pix on my new phone and the director set me up so every pix and vid on my phone goes directly to Google storage. Yippee; I can add photos to my theatre blog post today.

Need to try hooking the camera directly into my computer. The director said try that before we go any further. Crossing my fingers that my mac will recognize it. Then I can just download here at home, make the vids, and get them out.

Tonight is Act 1 again. Need to run my lines this afternoon.

Tomorrow is recording night. Up at 2 because my bro said the sweet spot in this building is between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Thinking I may just doze off in my chair and bring my alarm clock out here. I’m usually up ’til midnight these days, or almost. Nap for 2 hours, do the recording, then finally head off to bed. It’s gonna be weird, and I expect it to throw me for a few days.

Still working on my Dutch homework. More exercises than I thought in that small packet! Feeling good about it, tho. Confident.

Got in fresh air and sunshine yesterday. Breathed that cold air into my lungs, smelled that autumn smell of decaying leaves, looked up at the blue sky… It was a good choice. I was right; it had been too long since I’d done that.

And…wow! My bro’s stepped up the last few nights. I’ve come home to a clean kitchen post rehearsals. Dishes done, garbage and recycling out. Must remember to thank him for that. I come home wound up and tired. I notice the crap is gone but I’ve bigger things on my mind. Ha! The Universe is teaching me why I don’t hear about the same tasks from my bro when he’s out doing things. The shoe is on the other foot. Okay. I get it. Now I’ve got to change it. Start speaking up to him, thanking him when I come home and the house is clean. Point out to him that I notice and appreciate his work. If I do that, maybe I can teach him to do the same when things flip around again.

Spoke to the director about video for the production. Said we needed to meet and talk about that, that I needed time to create the vids. He agreed. Good. I roughed in several ideas months ago, so I’ve something to go on. And, as usual, my head’s been filling in those rough ideas. Edit this, do that, bring the entire tone of each vid into the lighting of the play.

Remembered, too, to ask about our local tv programming. It won’t hurt us to go in there and see if anyone doing a show on Rotterdam local events wants to interview or talk about the production. The director laughed at me when I told him I often surf thru those channels late at night. He considers it a cul-de-sac; a dead end that reaches no one. I disagree. Even if we only reach 5 people, that’s 5 more than we’re reaching now and it costs us nothing. We’ve got to start getting press coverage from somewhere. If we can’t convince a free, local tv show to talk about us we’ll never get larger press coverage.

And let’s not forget tomorrow I’ll be in the dentist’s chair. Brrr! Nothing like a bit of dentist anxiety and a panic attack at 10 in the morning. Really wakes you up.

Time to pull out that camera and start fiddling. I’d like to begin filming tonight. Compiling clips. It’ll take time to get what I want.

And… How insecure is it of me to know I want to wear make-up while I film myself? I know what I look with and without make-up on camera, and the whole thing will sell better if I wear make-up. That means painting my face tonight. Meh. Well, I’ll get plenty of practice in. I may even need to buy more make-up ’cause I’ll be using it on a regular basis. I just… I don’t want a hundred clips of myself looking so damned tired. Besides. Beauty sells. Anything and everything. I’d be stupid to ignore that fact.

Time to shoot up with my weekly drug that keeps me on my feet. I hate injecting myself. Have to really disconnect even tho it’s just under the skin. Goddess forbid that I’d have to find a flipping vein! Could not do it. Ugh. Have a very ugly memory of a drug addict sticking a needle in and out of his arm trying to find a vein. I put in in my memory deliberately. Sounds strange, I know. But that night I knew what was happening. I didn’t participate, but I did watch.

If I ever had to choose one moment when I decided somewhere inside of me to become a writer, that was it. That night. Watching that horror.

Watching that horror…

And the penny drops. There it is. The source. The reason why I’m finding it so easy to write horror.

I’ve lived it.

I’ll take it

Other than my rant – and thank you, gentlemen (you know who you are), for supporting that post with a ‘like’ – I’ve been regretting my foray into ‘let’s try less medication’ suggested by my rheumatologist. Damned methotrexate! It’s one that fools you because it takes time to build in your system. So I dropped the amount I take and was fine – great! – for two months. Now, I’m feeling it.

Damned rheumatoid arthritis. I hate this disease.

Taking more pain pills. Even the biggies. My bro stopped by one of the coffeeshops and bought me the strongest grass with the most oomph against pain. And if I smoke it straight and chill out, it works. But it’s expensive, and I’ve got class today…

Oh, and let me just bitch about the exhaustion before I move on, okay? I can sleep anywhere, anytime right now because that’s how damned tired I am. Back to a minimum of 10 hours every night.

Naturally, this is hitting me in my right arm. From the shoulder down to the fingertips. Continual pain radiating down. Gods, I should have taught myself to write with both hands!

Immediate concern: received a message from the director – scratch that, two messages – asking if I could meet with some of the actors tonight. Off I go at the drop of a hat. And we’re meeting at a bar. Naturally. So I’ve another night sipping expensive water. And me just now healthy after the last sniffle/cold/flu hit.

*sigh*

Reminding myself this is better timing for a medication trial than come spring. Things aren’t crazy right now. Telling myself that everyone else drags their feet and then jumps at the last minute, expecting you to do the same. I’ve no reason to reveal how organized I am. I can wait, until I feel a bit better, and do as they do. Golden rule, after all, right?

Man, I may need to buy some coffee tonight.

Most of all, I appreciate now (maybe a bit in hindsight) how well my team has kept me and my condition these past years. I’ve grown accustomed to no pain, to being able to move, to a certain energy. RA just saps all of that. Tuesday is my methotrexate day, and I’m going back to my old dosage right away. Minimize this as much as possible.

Strange dreams lately. I dreamt of shitting my pants. Literally. Yeesh! Of all the dreams in all my life, and that’s the one I wake up remembering! I know enough shrink-speak to diagnose this as a classic ‘fear of being out of control’ thing. Same anxiety I experienced as a child, wrapped up in a brand new nightmare. And not surprising: I am not in control. I’m working in a group now, and by definition that puts me out of control. I have to rely on others to do their part of it. I have to co-operate, meaning operate from the control of more than just myself. Others can overrule my thinking, as in the new graphic from the director’s girlfriend. Not even close to what I wanted. But, now that I’m in a group, I need to include others. So I went with it. But I don’t feel good about it. I don’t feel it works for the production, for the feeling of it, anything. She doesn’t get it. That much is obvious.

Managed to get thru my Dutch homework yesterday. Other than a rather strange request in section 2, I found it terribly easy. Basically, it’s a short read with a series of questions that dig into your understanding of the text. Kudos to my teachers: it’s on male and female languages. I’ve belly-ached once or twice (or more) about how Dutch uses separate words for the same thing: they still have actress and actor, teacheress and teacher, etc. Right up my alley. And it’s something we can do now that there are no men in the group. Not exactly a safe topic among mixed company. Again, a nod to my teachers for being so sensitive. They’re wonderful examples to me.

The hot water in the building continues to be a dream. To take a shower when I want, to wash dishes anytime of the day or night, to get warm water when I bloody well wash my hands is a luxury I’m not soon to overlook. Every human on the planet should go through a few years without ready hot water. It teaches you so much about thankfulness and all the good that society can do. That is such a problem these days. We gripe about slow internet access, or how long the microwave takes, or the traffic when we can’t drive as fast as we want. Luxuries, all. Humanity is a spoiled brat, unthankful for what it has and greedy, always, for the next new thing.

I guess, in a way, I’m thankful for what’s happened. For the years without hot water, for the rheumatoid arthritis, for everything that’s seemed bad in my life. Because it’s made me appreciate all the more what I have. More and more I find myself coming from a place of thankfulness. I’m thankful to my teachers. I’m thankful to the theatre group for doing this production. I’m thankful to my brother for sticking by me. I’m thankful for the trance writing, for the wonderful stories I’m building and spinning.

This is the good place age brings. It’s what everyone tries to achieve. It’s not something you learn, because you can’t teach it. It’s something you become. Do not think, at 20 or 30 (or even 50, like myself), that you understand the word ‘acceptance’. Learning that definition comes with time and experience. It is both a letting-go and a holding-on. It is a flower that blooms at the last, and being perhaps the last flower ever from that particular vine, is all the more beautiful for it.

Or maybe I’ve smoked enough of that super strong stuff for this morning…

…Doesn’t matter. I’ll take it.

I was not to blame

When you find yourself in danger, if you cannot fight or flee successfully, freezing is your next best survival instinct.

I’ve been allowing these words to sink in. Yesterday was the first time anyone ever said that to me. Of course, I’d never spoken about the guilt I carry for freezing up during the times I was raped and “allowing” it to happen. I know I did what I did because I was scared to death. But I’ve always had a part of me that said: if you’d have fought harder, it wouldn’t have happened. Dr T set me straight, and it was difficult to hear.

Did not walk into my appointment thinking that was what I’d be talking about. I thought I’d be talking about the sibling rivalry problem between myself and my siblings. But, no. Somehow Dr T got me to open up. Maybe it was because we were talking in Dutch.

I’m practicing saying ‘no’, I told him. But it’s easier in Dutch. I told him I knew how important it was for me to say no and take care of myself first. And then…and then the word ‘verkracht’ (raped) came out, and he asked when and I said it wasn’t so much when as how often, and then I started talking about the stalker and the beatings and how I felt like a caged animal for years. The conversation flowed from Dutch to English to Dutch in a comfortable manner. So now he finally knows that bit about me.

We talked about sexuality, about relationships. Have you been able to have a successful relationship with a man after the rapes? No. No, I haven’t. Not unless I can take sex out of the equation right away. If I can get a guy to just see me as a person, someone to hang out with and eat pizza, it’s fine. If they think me in anyway as a woman, as a female, as attractive – it’s a mess. Treating me nicely, taking me to dinner, asking me to dress up; all of it freaks me out. I suppose the two date rapes that happened to me do not help this situation. *sigh* Never trust a man that drops a hundred bucks on a meal for you. Never. The more they pay, the more the feel they’ve paid for you and the more likely they’ll take what they think they’ve paid for. That’s been my experience.

Did you ever tell anyone? No. None other than my brother, who’s had the overview but not the messy details. And then came the biggie: I thought my family would blame me. And I was right; they would have. They would have blamed my clothing, the fact that I was drinking, the fact that I went out ‘looking for it’.

I once built up the courage to tell my eldest brother that the stalker was hitting me. His response was a cool So? No ‘you’ve got to get out of there’ or ‘how dare he’. Just So? Like I’d just told him a bulb was burnt out in the house or something.

I was right to say nothing. I know I was. With that attitude, all I would have heard was how much of a slut I was, that I was already practically a whore so I might as well make it official, on and on, ad infinitum.

Trust your instincts, Beeps. The doc just told you you have good survival instincts. Trust them.

People here think I exaggerate. About my family, life in the states, etc. I’m not, naturally. A strange thing happens to people. They begin to act like they know an area because they spent a few days on holiday there. I’ve had loads of Europeans say ‘Oh, yes, I know the US’ and then go on to tell me how last year they spent a week in NYC or Boston. I look these people square in the eye and ask ‘If an American spent a week in Amsterdam would you say they know the Netherlands?’ Here in Rotterdam that’s a kicker; no one will say ‘yes’. Then I move on to explaining how large the US is. How different the states are from each other. The language, the customs, the laws, the taxes – all different. And finally I get them to admit that no, they don’t know what they’re talking about. I’m happy that their logic allows them to follow my argument, that they can readily and easily admit their mistakes. I’m not happy that I have to lay the argument out, over and over, to each fool I meet. I feel like I’m having the same conversation continually loop. Goddess! And why do I have to be the one who teaches everyone? Can’t someone else do if for a few decades?

…How do you change the world? One human at a time.

*groan*

The dregs of a hurricane from the Mediterranean are hitting NL today. High winds, rain. I’d like to get to the gym for a while. Work out and think on Dr T’s words. They’re having a big impact on me. They wash the last self-imposed blame from my body: I was not to blame. Nothing I did merited what happened to me. I went into survival instinct.

And they must have felt my head pulling away, or trying to pull away, as they shoved it down on their cocks deeper and deeper until I felt I was going to gag. They must have felt my fear, my frozen unwantingness. How dry my vagina was. How quickly I left afterwards. My lack of touch, lack of desire. It was all there. And they raped me.

I was not to blame.

Burnt marshmallow

I gotta be a bitch. B – I – T – C – H, bitch.

I do not feel bad for the people who’ve died in the US from the current hurricane. In fact, I think those fools who stayed behind and then needed emergency rescue should be billed for the rescue. I also don’t feel bad some jerk gotten eaten by a shark around Cape Cod. Again: stupid Americans ruining the environment and then getting bitten by bigger predators does not cause me one night’s bad sleep. In my book, you deserve it.

Do I lack empathy? I really don’t think so. Or, if I do, I only lack empathy for idiots. Nonetheless, I feel a bitch. A real bitch.

*sigh*

Been seeing the Sharknado series. One of the Dutch stations has run the films, and I’ve been recording them. Wow. What a catch-all for every has-been actor in Hollywood. Between Tara Reid still wearing the same hot pink shade of lipstick she wore at 20 (get over it woman, it looks awful on you now), sharks in space, and every ‘nado you can think of (including a ‘cownado’) it’s absolutely ridiculous. Oh, I got some good laughs. Naturally. But this is beyond a MST3000 type film franchise. They aren’t just B grade films, they’re trash. Silly, nonsensical, totally unbelievable – and the franchise is going strong. This is what bothers me. Not that people would find it funny, but that it’s become a thing. One more ‘Family Guy’ nail in the coffin on intellectual heights. Let’s all get stupid because a lot people just can’t be smart. Bah.

My right shoulder is giving me gripe. Well, my whole right arm, actually. It seems to radiate down from my shoulder, ache a few places in my arm, and end somewhere in my hand. Took a few heavy duty pain pills yesterday that gave me some relief but didn’t solve the problem (in other words, it wasn’t an irritated nerve or muscle that needed rest). Might need to see the doc on this one; it got me up early today.

Tomorrow is my language class. Looking forward to going back, seeing my teachers. Not sure I’m looking forward to seeing the other students. Only good thing is the slowest student in the class dropped back to a lower level after trying to keep up during our summer lessons. Good. She was terrible at Dutch, and I don’t know why she got moved ahead. Haven’t done any of the homework I was given over the break. It was all optional, and my option was not to do it.

In anticipation of needing to listen more, I watched a Dutch film last night – Zombibi. Amsterdam taken over by zombies. It was typical Dutch fun, and even tho some of the speakers spoke so fast I couldn’t catch a word of it, it was pretty easy to follow. My collection of Dutch movies is growing. I even feel like I’m beginning to understand the Dutch sense of humor, which is a big step. And I can see work for me in film: both as writer in other positions. They need my skills. At least…if they want to break the Dutch ceiling on films, they need my help. Chroma has to be adjusted. The make-up has to be better. Yes, I can see a niche for me.

Began some earnest make-up playing. Shot for a vampire and ended up looking like Harley Quinn from Batman. Meh. More research needed. Gotta start practicing wounds, too. Thank the Goddess I can do this in private, and my disasters aren’t seen by anyone.

Happy to say that is seems the hot water got fixed in the building. Either that, or a hot water hog further down the line moved out. For almost a week, we’ve had hot water. Morning, afternoon, and night. For the first time ever yesterday we made dinner and did dishes right afterwards because we could. Plus, I took a shower in the afternoon. Unbelievable how wonderful it is to have hot water. Unbelievable how good I feel being able to take a shower more than once every two weeks. My mood and my brother’s mood have taken a sudden upswing.

Time today for one last long walk in the sunshine and fresh air. The sky is blue, the air is fresh, and I can barely keep myself here long enough to finish this post. The day is calling me.

Oh, I miss George the duck right now. I miss how easily I could find him. How eagerly he snatched the bread from my fingers. How he always made me smile.

…I miss many of my friends. Two and four legged.

Oh, fuck Sunday and its reflective mood! I don’t want to get mired down by memories and sorrow.

I think I dreamt of my friend, L, last night. Part of me feels she is alive, even tho I’ve read her death notice on the ‘net. I know it isn’t real: I see her as I remember her, not as she’d be today. I only wish her to be alive. Out there, somewhere. Even if she doesn’t want to talk to me. But I know it’s only a wish. I know she’s gone.

Ah, there’s my soft spot. The one I work so hard to wall off from the world.

Oh, Goddess. I do it for my own protection. You know that, right?

If you read my words and think me a bitch… Well, you’ve got that right. But I’ll tell you right now: beneath my scabby and hard outer shell is a marshmallow center. A marshmallow center that’s been held over the fire for 50 some odd years. I’m all gooey, and if I didn’t have that crusty outside I’d fall apart.

So, go on. The bitch in me has been burnt into my flesh by the world. It’s there for all to see. That burnt marshmallow.

Make it rain

Sprang another hole in that mania shield. This time: marketing.

Long thoughts and soul searching. Came to the conclusion the theatre group is missing a beat by not having a newsletter. Many have asked; many have been disappointed. I’ve volunteered my writing skills. Spent yesterday pouring thru the form, our online info, and filling in our first issue. Naturally, it’s heavy on my production. It feels more than half an ad, but then, that’s what a lot of newsletters are. Pretty happy with what I have so far.

And, oh! This group needs help. I mean…for a bunch of teachers who teach business marketing, their marketing skills are terrible. Awful. They don’t take advantage of anything: not their members, not their social pages, not anything. Little wonder the group has had problems getting an audience of 20 to come to a show.

Well, do what you do, Beeps. You be the master of marketing on nothing. Maybe that’s these people’s problem: they’re used to talking about marketing on unlimited funds. That happens in academia. Their examples are huge corporations, and millions are moved around on chalkboards and computer screens all under the motto of “This is normal”. But that’s easy marketing. Anyone can make money when you start with money; it’s the law of averages. Spend enough and you get to a tipping point with your audience. Enough people get your message, your pitch, to buy your product. And once that happens, it spreads like disease. But doing it without throwing unlimited funds at the problem – now THAT’S a challenge. And not something everyone can do.

So…now I have passwords to all their secret social pages. I have the go-ahead on the newsletter. They’ve given me the reigns. Buckle up, people.

Want to announce a general meeting for October. The group hasn’t had a general meeting for a while. Auditions, rehearsals – sure. But not a meeting to bring in new blood. Not a meeting to draw attention to ourselves. Realized I have a skill I may never have really considered: special effects make-up. It’s something I’ve always done; vampire make-up, zombie make-up, pretend blood. Mostly for Halloween. But not everyone does these things. I tend to think it’s easy, that everyone can do it, but…That’s not really true, is it? So I thought we could call a fun general meeting in mid-October. Our rehearsals for the production won’t be bad at that point. Once a week at most. Pitch the meeting as a general meet n greet but also as a ‘learn how to do make-up effects for Halloween’ thing. I could use a couple of volunteers and do a zombie look, a bruised look, and a bullet hole in the head. Some people will learn, some will just think it’s cool, some will just want to come for the fun. Plus, it’s gently pushing the production: we need to master these techniques for the new play. Get that interest stirred up. And I could really use another make-up expert backstage. Have this feeling most of the actors will remain passive: here, do my make-up for me. I won’t have time for all of them, so help would be great.

My back is doing better, day by day. Still have some pain, so I’m moving slowly. Went down to the main library yesterday and checked out Roald Dahl’s autobiography. I’m greedy for his words; gobbled up over 50 pages between metro rides and reading before sleep. It is precisely my cup of tea: a historical account written by a great author. Love Tolstoy for the same reason. There is a flavor to the words of someone who’s lived thru it that’s just different. More authentic. Writers who imagine historical settings…they may do really well, but it’s not the same. Things get glossed over. If someone dies, it’s a tragic death, clean and with memorable last words. The truth is greyer than that. Death comes, no font of wisdom spews from the nearly dead lips, and reality crashes in. But one can easily see where Dahl’s material came from. His descriptions of his early childhood mimic his great works, and I am left with the evident trail of truth to fiction to follow thru his pages. Ah! Here’s where The Witches was born. Aha! And that’s a bit of Matilda in there. Truly fascinating.

Made a to-do list with huge things on it, like ‘search out T-shirt marketing’. That small phrase really contains hundreds of smaller things inside it. But start with the biggie. When I get into it, it’ll break itself down. Hoping just having the list will help me stay on track. I do not – do NOT – need another hole in my mania shield. I have enough leaks gushing water as it is. Keep on point, keep focused. Train that manic energy to the tasks at hand. If I spring too many leaks, I’ll overload and burn out. And I’m in danger of doing that right now.

Today I want colorful fun. No nonsense, straight up fun. Will get a walk in for my back and swing by the store to pick up a few things, then back here for play. Since my bro is by the comic shop today, I’m doing make-up. Want to try a few things out. Maybe even give the tissue paper and glue wound a try. Better check for hot water before I do too much.

My desktop is almost full of files, folders, and projects in various states of ‘doneness’. Nothing shows my mania more than my desktop. It’s a snapshot of my mind. I’ve got passwords, articles on strange phenomena, pictures, scripts, story ideas, recipes and notes. A total hodgepodge.

…Maybe we need to up my new med.

Very fitting I sit here in the Netherlands. I feel like that damned Dutch boy, sticking my fingers into the dyke, trying to keep back the flood. The flood is inevitable; I should just accept that.

Time to make it rain.

Just. be. me.

Why don’t you leave your notebook at home and just treat this as a social outing?

I got that freaky funny laugh, the one that comes from nerves and uncomfortableness. And I thought, yeah, why aren’t I treating this as a social outing? That was 6 pm last night, as I was walking out the door for our theatre group meeting.

I left my script and notebook at home. Downtown to a student bar that had hundreds of beers. Couldn’t resist a raspberry beer…two, actually. Seven of us made the meeting, and it was, as my brother had pointed out to me with his question, more of a social gathering than a work gathering. The night was warm, the beer was good, and the conversation lively.

Difficult to remember most of these actors hadn’t read the full script. They didn’t attend my first read through. Many thought their characters were gonna live thru the play; I had to correct them: everybody dies. If you survive an act, it’s just so you can die in another act. How do I die? I went around the table, telling them each what happens: you set yourself on fire, you get strangled, you’re shot, etc. And oh! The shining eyes that greeted me upon that gruesome news! Never believe an actor who tells you they don’t want to do a death scene. We all want that chance.

Tonight the director and I are meeting with a few people for the last role. Two, maybe three should show up. I very hesitantly put it out there that if we found someone spectacular for my role I’d step down. The director quickly said: No way. The subtext in that, I felt, was that no one can do that role like I can. Maybe he meant he didn’t want to go thru the whole audition thing again, but that’s the way I’m taking it. I’m more than pleased by that.

Much of the work conversation was kept to a minimum. Instead, we did the sort of thing that generally happens when a group of people don’t know each other well. Questions like Do you have children? or What do you do as a living? came up. I was surprised (a bit) at the drug discussion. Even tho marijuana is okay here, it’s still a little taboo. Everybody’s used it, or at least tried it. But most Dutch people don’t partake. Last night I heard about ‘the time I got really stoned’ or ‘when I had a few extra pills and rode the day out on them’. I’m still rather hesitant on admitting I’m a stoner, but did own up to smoking marijuana on a regular basis. I just…I know what most people think of regular smokers. You’ll see their mimicry of stoners all the time. That wasted, hungry, not really moving or thinking version. The ‘Duh-uh Dude’: catatonic and unfocused. That isn’t me, and I don’t want people to think it is. I haven’t yet told them they’ve all been seeing me high this whole time. I haven’t once gone to a theatre group meeting, audition, or rehearsal without first toking. I wrote the play stoned. I got my degrees stoned. And yes, I’m learning Dutch stoned. Pretty obvious I don’t go to that stereotypical state. But despite the culture here, that stereotype still lives on. I don’t know. Maybe I’m one in a million in that respect. I just chalk it up to my artistic temperament. All the greats had something: heroin, cocaine, alcohol. It’s too late in my life to be worried about it. But I still find myself reluctant to own it due to what I perceive as this bias against it. Maybe that’s just me, and the scarring I received about it during my lifetime.

Made a few age jokes about myself last night. Find myself doing that more and more. Conversation zoomed off into games played as kids: remember this console or that game? I sat there, thinking about my first video game: Pong. Yep, you heard me. Pong. Two paddles and ball, back and forth. And later: gee, I had to use a typewriter back when I was in school. My reply: when I was a kid, we had to use a chisel and hammer on stone. I got the laughs I wanted. But I know myself well. I’m using my humor to cover up my uncomfortableness.

It’s weird and odd being the oldest person at a table. I’m sure it’s a bit of a lark if you’re dealing with children, but when it’s adults… Then it’s another matter. Especially when I don’t feel like I’m the oldest adult sitting there. In fact, it makes me feel more child-like and immature than ever. No, I don’t own a home. No, I don’t have children. No, I don’t have investments or a large bank account, nor do I go on holidays every year. I don’t even have a concept of ‘retiring’. My ‘retiring’ is just death.

Also found myself joking about Dr. T. Used the old ‘my shrink’ a couple of times. That’s me getting used to owning up to it.

And I caught the director looking at me a couple of times, as if he saw beyond my jokes and knew what was going on. I wouldn’t be surprised at that; he’s perceptive. He approaches scripts looking at the psychological aspects of the play (and yes, another actor made a comment about what my mind must be like to write something like this).

I’m finding something in this group I didn’t expect: acceptance. Their acceptance is making it easier for me to accept myself. To own up to my depression, my mental health treatment, my problems without shame.

This is a whole new level of social interaction for me. No pretense, no feeling like I have to go along with the group just to have friends. I’m finding how I can be me without coming off overly aggressive or angry.

I can just. be. me.

Trust your core

What’s your core like?

There was a time when I’d go to the gym and avoid all the hard stuff. You’d find me on those machines that isolate one muscle in your legs or arms, pumping away. But you’d never find me on the floor, holding both legs up, breathing in. Good golly! Voluntarily lift both legs up off the floor? Do you know how difficult that is?

But things have changed. I’ve changed. I no longer dance around the outside of life, trying one thing or another. I’m in the core. And I’ve found, to my surprise, my core is very strong indeed.

Yes, I’m back at the gym and feeling damned good about myself. I’m also making a metaphor.

A word out to anyone reading right now: if you’ve been struggling – and it doesn’t matter with what – and you’re still trying, good on you. Your core is strong. Stronger than you probably give yourself credit for. Those of us with issues tend to focus on our negatives; I struggle so much or It just seems twice as hard for me as everyone else. True. And you’re still trying, aren’t you? You’re still seeking solutions. Give yourself a pat on the back, no matter what your ‘trying’ looks like. Because most of those people out there who make you feel bad about yourself…they’re the ones who are weak. Their core is so flawed they have to try and steal some of your strength to even begin feeling okay about themselves.

…Been thinking on a friend I lost to suicide. She keeps popping up in my brain lately. Don’t know why. I’m not one of those people who mark the date of death down on a calendar and mourn every year – tho I can always tell you the season a person died in. I can tell you what the weather was like. Isn’t that odd? I can tell you my father died during the heat of an American Indian summer. I can tell you my mother died in the still crisp air of a Wisconsin spring. I can tell you I heard the news about my friend during the heat of summer. But dates, months, years…those I’d have to search out.

Generally, tho, if I can’t get someone or something off my mind, it’s important in some manner. Since I don’t know what this particular someone is doing in my brain, all I can do is put my first thought out there: if you’re thinking about it, please don’t do it. You don’t go thru your suicide; everyone else does. And you will be missed by people and in situations you could never even imagine. That’s the problem, too: you can’t see it right now. These words are for you. I’m telling you there are people in the world that care about you. People who’s lives will be greatly affected by your death. You imagine it isn’t so; you think your death will cause no fuss or muss in anyone’s life. You’re wrong. It will be something that never leaves the people who love you. Never, ever.

And your core is much stronger than you think.

…I have a crazy theory. One not based on scientific observation. One that is purely gut instinct. I think there are two types of people in the world, broadly speaking. One is prey, the other hunter. And I think those of us with what’s termed mental illnesses are the natural hunters. Thousands of years ago, we’d have been the warriors. The protectors. Our nervous energies and multi-faceted (and sometimes paranoid) thinking would have been spent every day by chasing animals, setting traps, fighting. We have very little outlet for these natural tendencies in the modern world. And the way I see it, it’s the most natural thing in the world to turn these tendencies inward where they fester. We end up hunting ourselves, worrying over every thought, every desire. We are told our natural fight instinct is wrong in today’s world. We must learn to be passive and accepting. Here, take this pill. And do NOT misunderstand my words: I am all for medication. I credit it with an awful lot lately. Plus, let’s face it: some aggressive tendencies need to be curbed. But medication doesn’t do it all – not unless you’re in a straight jacket and they’re pumping you full of shit that’ll whack an elephant out. So, I’m going to try a new way of thinking. I’m going to hunt life.

What, exactly, does that mean? I don’t know. I’m making it up as I go. I do know it involves seizing more opportunities, doing more. I know it involves making conscious choices to be happy. Turning my brain away from negatives and emphasizing the positives. That’s particularly difficult for me because no one ever taught it to me. But like the Dutch language, it’s something I need to learn. Not because it’s mandatory. Not because anyone is on my ass about it. But because I want to.

It is a choice I’m making based on my core. Based on a deep strength I’m finding within myself. This is the part of me that stopped me all those other times I contemplated suicide. This is the part of me that went to the doctor and admitted she needed help. This is the part of me that loves the mornings, that talks to birds and trees, that wakes up with hope in her heart.

To all the fellow hunters out there: I know the need to test yourself. To find out for yourself. I also know the traps hidden within that search; we are all too good at our natural hunting instincts to not lay traps for ourselves. You are strong. Hunt life, not death! Go after it with all you’ve got. After all, what have you got to lose? If you’re already contemplating ending it all, you’re on that brink. You’re not afraid to gamble.

Trust your core.

Shoot for the stars

Backlash. My rheumatologist said my RA would probably get worse after the sinus infection. She was right. This is the week of wrist pain. Started as it always does: a bit of pain when I moved wrist. That was a day or two ago. I’m now wishing I had wrist splints to wrap my hands in.

The third round of auditions has been called. For next week. Ach! Less than a week’s notice. No difference in the damn picture used, so it looks precisely like the last three posts on the page and is very easy to miss. We are NOT gonna find the people we need in this manner. I feel like a runner in the start position. I get in the mind-set of being just the writer and helper, then I get worried and start to think I’ll have to stand up and be part of the production, then I’m told to crouch down again and just be ready to do whatever. Refusing to move forward on much until I know we’ve got the people we need. I’m not putting in hours of hard work on production notes or searching for props when I’m not even certain we can do this yet. Hoping the director has a few people up his sleeve. He always seems to; people have dropped out in the past and he’s magically found bodies to occupy the roles.

Gender flips. I’ve two characters that can swap genders, no problem. I wrote men into the roles because I was told more men usually audition than women. But there’s no reason for Ted not to be Tina, or Gabe not to be Gabriella – other than changing he to she (and taking a walk on the wild side).

Here it is, June, and we don’t even have the cast chosen. Ooooooh! This really will push the production back to late in the year. Please don’t have them try to do it during the Xmas season. That’s a guaranteed death.

Managed to put some time in on my homework. Still have to finish it off, but I’ve a good start. The word puzzles I was given were too easy. Completed them in a few minutes. The letters I need to write are short and simple. Fell back into a comfortable reading pace last night. Now I’ve just got to wrap my mouth around those sounds…

And maybe this is the week to sit in on that harder lesson.

My bro is all for me resting. Yesterday I got as far as saying I felt I should get up and do something. His response? Why? It often falls this way, he telling me to rest and me feeling like I should be doing a million things. These days, tho, I hear him saying ‘take care of yourself a little better’. It’s no longer a nag, no longer a negative on me. It’s a ‘I’m seeing those signs in you, sis, and you promised me you wouldn’t go off into la-la land again’. Finding that balance is always the tricky bit. He knows I’ve got devils on my shoulder, whipping me into action, telling me I can never do enough. He plays the angel, telling me to rest.

…But do I sometimes wonder if my bro holds me back? Not consciously, naturally. Just…do I think he feels strong taking care of me? Yes. Do I think he sometimes grows afraid I’ll get to some point of health or success and leave? Yes. I can see that, and understand it. I also know he only wants me to be happy. It’s just that basic fear we all have from time to time: will the people we love stick around? Both of us have been abandoned in so many ways, by so many people. It’s one of the things that ties us together: the determination to always have each other’s backs. And it’s always been like that, ever since we were kids. Doesn’t matter what we face. If we do it together, we’ll get thru it.

I think I need to remind my brother of that. Remind him I won’t leave. No matter what.

Spent some time lately investigating sites and methods for earning money from podcasts. The plan is to do my radio script once the play is over. Now, there’s a long road. From what I’ve seen, it takes loads of podcasts to really earn money. And I’m the only writer in this; I just don’t have enough material. I do feel capable of doing short stories, simply read aloud to a static pic (tho it would still take time to flesh those ideas out). But full on scripts? I’ve got a backlog for stage, but they’re not all horror/thriller.

Still. Even those big sites had to start with the first one.

Have a strange, bubbling energy going on… Perhaps I’ll say to hell with the wrist pain, and write today.

What scares you? That’s the question I’ve been mulling over for days. Years, if you want to get into the psychological aspect of it, which I wasn’t really talking about, just the literary aspect; these days I feel I’ve good handle on what scares me. What scares you, the audience? And what film tricks can I take to stage? Began following an FX master, who suggested a simple trick to successfully cut off a limb on stage. Want to try it over the summer; just need to get the supplies. Anything I can learn, I can incorporate into my scripts.

But I want more than simple slasher stuff. More than just gore. I want to use gore selectively (unless we do a splat, which would be fun). Looking up phobias. Common nightmares. Tricks old mediums used to use.

Okay, own up to it: I’ve set myself the task of becoming known as a horror writer for stage. That’s about as tall an order as saying I’ll become a proficient writer in Dutch.

Shoot for the stars.