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.

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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.

It’ll get done

Despite the thunderstorms, despite the flooding, even despite the roof leak in the building, auditions went well last night.

The skies opened up and poured as I got on the metro. There was the lightening and thunder I wanted, and there was the torrential rain we’d been promised for days. By the time I reached my stop, the shower had largely passed – but it left a swath of water in its path. I was flummoxed several times, and had to search for the driest path available. Very glad I wore my sandals and casual harem pants. Ended up pulling up my trouser legs and wading thru several spots.

The director eagerly took down notes on the horror films I picked out for the actors to look at. The original Night of the Living Dead, to emphasize the story is about everyone’s reaction and not the monsters. The Fourth Kind for genuine fear reactions. If they feel it, the audience will feel it. Yes. Communicated that clearly.

Had a couple of ughs. A couple of people who speak so stiltedly I’m shocked they thought they could audition (I have not yet auditioned for any Dutch production because of the language barrier). Also had a couple of real gems show up. Heard eagerness in the actors, saw smiles and laughter. Funny to sit as a fly on the wall and hear other people talk about character motivations. I recognize how they put themselves in the roles, imagine how they’d react. Letting that happen without comment. Breathe life into it! Make it real. You’re teaching me every minute about how people interpret my words.

*sigh* And contrary to most years, we have more women showing up than men. Already talking with the director about gender flipping some roles. I’m not opposed to doing a female heavy cast, it’s just that I worked my ass off to tailor it for the group and of course it still needs some adjustments.

But I’ve got three core members involved now. We’ve enough good actors to fill critical roles. Still could use a few more to fill out the cast, so we’re scheduling round 3 of auditions. Back to relaxing into the behind the scenes roles: writer, marketing guru, make-up artist, props master, sound direction. Decided I’d like to make an announcement prior to each performance. A little addition to creep the audience out: tell them that yes, what they’re about to see is based in fact and if they choose to search or google for any information they do so at their own peril. That’s a great set-up. Weave that mythology a little tighter.

Loving this whole process. Taking it all the way, having a hand in the production. It allows me some control, yet I’m not totally on the line for everything. I can take some of the burden of it off my shoulders, but still shape aspects of it to my satisfaction. Yeah. I’m all for this.

And I mentioned that when the production hub-bub has blown over, my bro wants to produce a pod cast of another script. Get the actors excited now.

Time has kind of stopped for me. I’m not writing, other than this blog. I’m not really getting to the gym or getting regular exercise. Everything is hot and sticky, and I just can’t find much oomph to accomplish anything. Dutch has become a real chore. Anything other than existing during the hottest part of the day is a chore. The only energy I really feel like expending is towards the production: walking thru flooded streets, staying on top of the auditions, communicating with the director. Cutting myself slack on that. I know where my priorities lie. Everything else – exercise, the language work, even housework – that’s all just means to an end. I’ll exercise so my back doesn’t bother me. I’ll work on Dutch because that’s the language here. I’ll clean up around the house so the general filth doesn’t make me sick. But that’s it. Get it done to the minimum level. Everything else goes into the play.

Today: exist. Try not to sweat too much. Monitor the windows for when the storms hit. Should probably open up my homework and take a swipe at it. The gym would be a great idea…but let’s face it: I probably won’t go. If I do, I’ll be as surprised as anyone else.

This stillness… It runs so deep in me I’m shocked. Shocked, yet grateful. I thought I’d have to be dead to experience this type of relaxation. And even then, I figured I’d be a restless spirit. Mmm. All those years never feeling like I ever had any time off. And I didn’t; I had zero time off from my fear and anxiety. Holidays, work days, birthdays, school: didn’t matter. The anxiety and fear were always there with me.

So take the time off, Beeps. Enjoy it. Roll around in it, wallow in it. You can trust yourself to chill and not fuck off on everything.

It’ll get done.

I’m good

Thirty-three degrees celsius (that’s over 90F if you can’t make the conversion). Little to no breeze. Burning sun. It didn’t feel like a school day. I wasn’t the only one who thought that, either. Class size: three. Even one of my teachers was gone.

Found I’m in need of some Dutch mouth warmer uppers. I stumbled over sounds and words while reading. I can tell you haven’t spoken Dutch for two weeks, my teacher said. Yep. But my mind is still powerful. I am now the ‘Look To’ student.

Can’t answer the question? Ask Beeps. Everyone has the wrong spelling? Ask Beeps. Don’t know how to explain what that word means? Ask Beeps.

My homework is special, too. Asked for and received more word puzzles in Dutch. Have a few more letters to write. No one else got these assignments.

Ah, it feels good to be a prat! Good to know, to feel that confidence. Maybe that’s the real reason why I want to stay in this level lesson for a bit longer – to build my confidence. I need to know I know, and not just know but fully understand. We went thru prepositions drills yesterday, and I sat and listened to a fellow student (who spent thousands on a daily lesson private school for Dutch) struggle with figuring out how to describe snow lying on a roof. She tried in, over, above. Pretty obvious she doesn’t have these meanings really down in her head. It felt good, too, to go thru our dictation drills and come out with only one mistake (a word I’d not encountered before). Everything else 100% perfect, no question in my mind about the words or their meanings.

A little worried that I’ll grow bored with this level by mid-term next year. I can see it happening in the lessons, tho I also see my teachers more than willing to work with me on harder issues – not dragging the class into it, obviously, if they don’t even know that snow lies op a roof.

*sigh* I’ll have to move on sooner or later.

I am reminded of my last days in kindergarten. Hearing I had to leave and say good-bye to the teacher I loved was one of the worst days of my young life. But I knew, even then, I was ready for more in the way of learning. Just like I know it now. The only difference is, now I’m an adult they can’t make me do anything. It’s my choice to move up or not. I guess I’m giving the child what she wants: another year with her kindergarten teacher. Lucky for me, my kindergarten teacher this time ’round recognizes my level and is willing and able to keep encouraging and teaching me.

Ye Gods! And put some effort into it. Running around talking pidgin Dutch with your friends doesn’t teach you jack. When I speak Dutch, I ask the other person if I’m saying something correctly, or to please correct me if I make a mistake. And the Dutch are, by and large, very willing to do that. But not speaking correctly – well, that’s a big reason why I don’t speak much. I don’t want to talk to foreign speakers who don’t know the language, who make mistakes in pronunciation or grammar. I want fluent native speakers. I need someone to correct me, not the other way around. Also, READ. Every day. I cannot believe these fellow students who claim they read and then make these obvious mistakes. You don’t read. You’re like the piano or guitar student who swears they practiced all week long on that piece. Well, you know what? Your teacher always knew when you were lying about that. Just as I know my fellow students lie about reading on a regular basis. Ipso facto: if you’d read, you’d learn. You haven’t learned, so you don’t read.

Still no thunderstorms. Been waiting. They’re in the forecast every day. We’re definitely in a heat cycle. Other than my hair being too thick and hot on my head and neck, I’ve managed to keep pretty cool. Part of that is I’m far more willing to jump in a pair of shorts these days. Even with my lily white legs, even with my cellulite. I’m more accepting of my body. And I can look at myself in lighter clothing and not cringe. Even find something attractive about myself. That’s all…weirdly solid. Like it was always there, underneath all that negativity. I don’t feel I have crowing rights in the world; there are far more beautiful people than myself out there. But I do have crowing rights within myself: I am pretty. I am blessed with a pretty face. My features are arranged in a manner that’s pleasant to look at it. You may find me beautiful; you may not. It’s one of those faces. But the nose isn’t misshapen, the cheekbones are good, and I don’t have warty growths anywhere. Nothing to call me ugly. I’m accepting that.

Have a slightly pulled muscle on my left side. Did it the other day; felt it go. Ouch. Wishing my appointment with my very cute physiotherapist was a bit sooner. Trying to work it out myself in the meantime. Should really get to the gym for a stretch and a walk. Ignore the heat and humidity – which gets easier to do the hotter it gets, because the gym has air conditioning.

My head… I’m a bit feather brained lately. Just ditzy. There, but not there. Getting flashes of stuff, ideas. So disjunct and quick I can’t even describe them yet. Letting that go. The chef will serve up that dish when it’s ready. Meanwhile, kick back with a drink and enjoy some appetizers: summer days, more auditions for my play, sheer relaxation and joy at the simplest things in life. Seeing the sun rise. Having my smiles and greetings returned. Enjoying a cold drink from the ‘fridge during the hottest part of the day.

I’m good.

A perfect day

Go on, have a perfect morning.

Dragged myself up at 6, half reluctant, half excited. Out the door by 7. It was a good choice. The heat and humidity hadn’t set in yet. Began by taking a short detour, hoping for some kitty love. Score! Not the cat that knows me; someone new. A bit reluctant, as Dutch cats seem to be. Doesn’t take long, tho, before they flop down on the pavement, belly up, purring, nudging, loving me. A new friend to greet once in a while.

My feet just kept walking. Made it all the way to the end of the metro line. Walked up to the lake, down the beach, loving the silence and stillness of it. A solid hour and half tromp before breakfast.

Yesterday: hoovering, dusting, toilet duty, mirrors, sink scrubbing, dishes, grocery shopping. Even did my cuticles during my break.

Keep tackling these things and looking around for something else to do. Something besides sitting on my butt, playing computer games.

Did some nostalgia surfing. Searched out current news for some of the other places I’ve lived. Sent out a hooray to my Irish connections. Damned proud of all those young women who fought so hard for change. Saw a few pictures, read a few street names that brought up that feeling I get once in a while… That longing for a home that never really existed. It’s sad most of all. There’s a longing mixed in, a remembrance of fun I had in cities and towns, but mixed in with that is a revulsion of the things I didn’t enjoy. I remember the stifling heat. Physical pain and emotional torment. I remember the oppressive feeling of so many situations. The stalker. The clubs. The jobs.

In short, it’s complicated.

Complicated…

Been thinking about how there are no white hat characters in real life; we all wear shades of grey. Thinking about why good people might do terrible things. I guess that’s why I began writing in the first place. Owning up to – on some level – my own horrible acts. For years I just beat myself up. Vague ego bashing. Now…I’m seeing things from a new perspective.

Now, I can state the truth. Yes, I left an ex with several thousand dollars of debt for drugs. That was a horrible thing to do. It was a horrible relationship, and I hated him by the end. He became my stalker – perhaps in no small part over the money involved. It was crazy time with a capital CRAZY. Dark and desperate, and even then I could see it only leading to darker and more desperate situations. But no matter what my reasons, from his perspective, I left him abruptly with a large debt. A debt I’d sworn to help pay back.

And does he have right to damn me to hell every night? Certainly, that was the tipping point in his life. He was no great winner up to then, that’s for sure. Alcoholic, drug addict, sleeping on an ex-girlfriend’s couch (and it says a lot about me at the time that I was able to justify any of that). But from what I’ve been able to find out thru online searches, he then turned to burglary and prompted got caught.

So, am I to blame? I didn’t help. If he wanted to believe his life before all that was okay, well then yes, I fucked that up. But I believe I was fighting for my life. To get away from the drugs, away from him, away from that insanity. I do not think I’d be alive today had I stayed. I made my choice.

I think I’m getting around to beginning to forgive myself for that.

Knots untying. What’s left once that old rug unravels? It’ll be interesting to find out.

Do bad guys love the dawn? That fresh start to each day, that appreciable end to every night’s activities. Do vampires think ‘Oh, thank God!’ when the dawn light comes, knowing they can clock out and get some rest? We never think that way. Vampires and bad guys curse the dawn. It burns them; they are visible. Maybe we’re all turned around on that. Doesn’t every factory worker look forward to the end of the day? Go have a beer, put your feet up, chill in front of the tv. Are days like that for bad guys? Hm. I think I’d like to see that. Or at least play with the idea.

Tomorrow I’m back to Dutch lessons and schedules. And I’m just about ready for it. A little rusty with my verbal skills, but I’ll get there. Second auditions on Wednesday. Feel about ready to begin working on the computer again, tho only an hour at a time. Still having brief headaches.

Things I’d like for today: a really big thunderstorm. Love ’em, haven’t seen a good one yet this year, and it’s possible tonight. Other: something to keep me entertained. Passive, plopped in front of the tv, cold soda in my hand, entertained. It’s hot out. A shower (for me) would be good, too.

Not too much to ask, is it? And it would follow up my perfect morning, and make a perfect day.

You get used to it

Living in Rotterdam offers some strange sites. I once watched a guy walk down the sidewalk in his bathroom robe (a plaid affair) and slippers. In the unexpected summer heat and humidity we’re currently having, you’d probably be surprised to see so many people kitted out in full downy jackets with their hoods up. For me, it’s become the norm. All I see is immigrant. That’s not a diss, just a recognition that they’re used to temps much hotter than this. But it’s weird. White people in shorts and t’s, black people in down jackets zipped up.

It all comes down to what you’re used to.

I’ve become used to sitting around on my ass all day long. Sleeping during the afternoon, doing a bit around the house, resting. It’s high time to shake up ‘what I’m used to’.

Got out for a walk yesterday. Made it out before the heat really took hold. The area I live in is so un-city, so un-urban, if I told you all I encountered you might not believe I live in Rotterdam. Within a 10 minute walk from my front door there’s a stable with horses. Five minutes gets you to pastureland with grazing sheep and cows. I have woods to walk thru, lakes to bathe my feet in. Obviously, I don’t live downtown – and I’m glad of that. I like the energy downtown, sometimes think it would be cool to have an apartment somewhere in one of those high-rises, but I prefer it out here (even if that does make it difficult to head out on a late night adventure due to public transport shutting down). I can make it on my own two feet to a quiet place. Somewhere I can let my mind relax. And for a brief moment or two, I can pretend I’m not in a city. I like that.

But yesterday, the only thing relaxing my mind seemed to bring was disdain. I came home and popped in some horror. Been going thru them, watching, learning. What scares you? Sadly, not the films I put in yesterday. Ho, hum. Could drive a huge lorry thru their plot holes. And now that I’m really dissecting the genre, you gotta do better than that. Plus, fine that you can create scary scenes with cuts and edits, killers leaping out from spots where someone must have seen them, even tho no one in the film seems to use their bloody eyes, but what about on stage? And if you can’t create horror and fear on stage, how scary IS your story?

Things to avoid: human killers. Obvious dumb shit. Stuff no one in their right minds would do. Oh, a 10 year old hears a weird whispery voice coming from their heating grate and thinks ‘yeah, I’ll let whatever that is out’? Seriously? You want me to swallow that one? No. Get your story straight. And your bleeding mythology. It isn’t scary to just throw things in randomly and hope someone gets triggered by it. Other things to avoid: explanations. Religious overtones. Any reasoning.

Fear is fear. The power of fear is what happens to us. Explain it, give it a tangible source to fight, and fear becomes less effective.

I will never explain my monsters, other than to say they’re unexplainable. Beyond this world.

Dream a little dream. Or, a big dream. How cool would it be to get government funding to develop and open a theatre solely built for horror productions? Trap doors, wires strong enough to hang stuff on, special sets. Answer: uber cool. I’d bloody well love it. And considering any horror story – stage or screen – relies on unexpected sounds, it feels like a ready made thing for my bro to get involved in, too. He’s even got experience building haunted houses for Halloween. And he’s damned handy with tools.

…Yeah, that’s a big dream. Still… It would be cool.

That might be the only cool thought I have for today. Forecast: temps near 30C and high humidity. Possible plans: head downtown to a Vegan food and drink fest. Meh. The idea of showing my lily white legs in public is less than appealing. My arms tan. My face will even pick up some color. But my legs? It’s like their bleached. Permanently. And then there’s my problems with walking in shorts: my thighs are fat enough they rub together. Sweat and cause problems. So I try to not let that happen, and then I walk weird. Oh, I could wear pants. And if I go, I probably will. Which means my legs won’t get sun again, and they’ll remain lily white… See my problem? That’s not even mentioning my anxiety over my cellulite. Oh, I’ve seen worse, and every time I see worse I think ‘if she can show that, I can show mine’ but when it comes down to it…When it comes down to it, I’m ashamed of my flaws even if they’re not that noticeable. It’s hard to break out of hiding once you’ve put yourself in there.

Hiding has its downside. You avoid people, so you don’t have any friends. You avoid public spots, so you feel a bit trapped and in a rut. On the other hand, you began hiding for a reason: you were afraid. You got hurt, and retreated into yourself. And just like anything else, you got used to hiding. You took the bad parts of it – friendlessness and isolation – because you were at least safe. You didn’t face whatever it was that drove you there in the first place. And that part of you that adapts, that tries to go on no matter what the circumstances, that part accepted the limitations of your new life. It became your norm.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Moving out of your current comfort zone is like beginning anything else: the first step is the toughest. But once you’re out there, once you’re doing it, you adapt.

You get used to it.

How crazy is that?

I am not a person with long experience in the mental health game. However, the experiences I have had have been…less than pleasant. Sometimes downright upsetting. Yesterday was the first time I left the office of someone in the mental health care profession feeling hopeful.

Did myself the favor of asking for our session in English. Just didn’t want to struggle so much. Talked about my mother, talked about depression, self esteem. Just light touches, explaining I’ve been reaching a deeper understanding over my mother. Dr T’s laptop went ratta-tat-tat the whole time.

What you’re describing isn’t uncommon. It wasn’t right, but it’s not uncommon.

Felt good to own the words: neglect. Abuse. Felt good to explain myself. I was most happy, though, with Dr T’s focus: now. He’s pleased I’m reaching this new level, but he doesn’t really want to get into the past. He wants me to stop feeling like shit about myself. He wants me to wake up with hope rather than despair in my heart.

My brother said shrinks only put you on the couch and begin to dissect your past when you deny stuff. When you say ‘oh, everything’s great’ or ‘my family was wonderful’. That sure isn’t me.

Apologized, too, for my behavior last session. He said he’d forgotten about it, and he had until I reminded him how angry I was. He assured me (again) it was his fault, and I had every right to voice my dissatisfaction. I agreed, but said it gave me no right to raise my voice or not look at him or get that ugly look on my face – all of which I did. We talked about those angry outbursts. He’s not sure yet if it’s all down to depression or if there’s something else going on. I’m okay with that. He’s watching me closely. That’s all I need to know. And he talked with me at length over the idea that when you get depressed, certain chemicals are released in your brain which then make you feel worse – in other words, it becomes damned difficult to know whether any depression is environmental or physical in nature.

lol. And boy! He’s not like the other guy I saw, who didn’t remember anything about me one session to the next. He was right on the whole playwright thing. There’s lots of positive things going on now in your life. Your play, for instance… Bless him. Bless him for doing his job well, for looking at his notes before talking to me. That felt good, like I mattered. It said my life and my problems were important enough to consider and remember. I was unique, an individual.

Continuing with my meds at the same level. Have another appointment in 5 weeks.

I am ready to get back to life. Will get out for at least a walk today. Maybe I’ll even go to the gym. Want to tidy up around the house. Look at those production notes on the script. Consult with my bro on my friend’s artwork and finally get back to her.

Even my headaches have been easing off…

Boy, it’s good to breathe normally again!

We’ve had rain. Washed all that pollen out of the air. I can smell the freshness. Get up, go! Everything is new again. Pristine. Yesteryear’s memories have dropped to the ground. They have become ash; their only purpose now is to fertilize for new growth. Dance, monkey, dance! Don’t you feel it out there? It’s all crayola colored life, fresh and new. Anything is possible.

Ah, I’m up too late to go dance with Venus. But the feeling is there: I’m joyful.

Still have not settled on any writing. There are several things floating around. Several things I keep coming back to. Once in a while I think I’ve got it, then it moves away from me. I’m letting it go. No real idea what I’m brewing up there, but I’ve a feeling my subconscious is making connections between some of my lesser story lines – intertwining them into a more complex idea. Two things keep coming up for me. One, use of flashbacks. How to portray that kind of shift in time on stage. Two, the perfect opening scene. Complex, not understandable – until you begin with the backstories. What the framework is, I’ve no idea. Murder? Disaster? A party? Beats the hell out of me. That’s why I’m letting it go.

And I’ve one more thing to note. One of those weird and strange things I don’t talk about much. There’s this grove of trees here in Rotterdam. It’s along a public road. It’s a short path; you can see the other side of it. But it’s not right. There’s something not of this world that lives down that grove. I’ve encountered it, and been glad it saw fit to let me pass. Mentioned it to my bro – it just happens to be near the center he goes to for his shrink – and he knew precisely where I was talking about. It’s a creepy little lane. Right. So a few months ago I had occasion to pass by it on a walk. I was startled, because it was cut down. Now, I’m always on the look out for creepy stories. I consider it my forte these days. Having noted the grove and the thing in the grove, I was startled. Figured I might not be the only person to get creeped out down there, so the city cut it down. Good so far, right? Right. Earlier this week, I was back in the area. The grove is back. In full. There is no evidence of anything being cut down to the ground like I saw a few months ago. And it’s not a replanting. Too much wild undergrowth going on. The trees were too big, too full. The moss on the stones was too heavy and thick. I’ve seen city replants, and this wasn’t that. This was the grove. Remade, in exact detail.

Now, how crazy is that?

Nice to meet you

Three hours to go before my appointment with Dr T.

My bro almost forgot band practice last night. Good thing he’s set his phone up with reminders. Ping. Left himself enough time to grab his stuff and head out without being late. I found myself unexpectedly alone for the evening.

First thing: check for hot water. Yep. Then I did something gross. Something I can’t wholeheartedly recommend. Two egg yolks, olive oil, whisk, and on the hair. I’ve used straight olive oil, but not this thick mixture. Just kept wondering if I’d end up pulling scrambled eggs out of my hair. I didn’t, of course. The smell wasn’t something I found pleasant. And the fact that 20 minutes later my hair was shellacked into a hard helmet didn’t help matters. The result, however, is pretty damned good. Cut the frizziness way down, and my hair feels much softer. And you can’t beat the cost.

Showered, watched a film, tried a new BBC show, read some Dutch before lights out. Most importantly: I wasn’t so squirrelly I couldn’t sit still. Got a bit restless during the BBC show (didn’t really like it), but even that was on the low side.

Been trying to marshall my thoughts. I’m not sure what to say to the doc today. I’m not waking up crying. That’s good. And I’m not so angry. All true. I don’t know…maybe I should just say it in English. I’m really trying to assimilate here, tho, so I feel the push to use the language no matter how much I struggle. But once again I’m seeing Dr T after a run of English and no Dutch. Gods! I wish I were one of those people who just ‘pick it up’. I’ve picked up a bit, but I can’t converse well.

What I want to say: I have a new level of understanding regarding my mother. I still haven’t forgiven her, and I realize I may never really forgive her. But I do understand her a bit more. I even feel pity and empathy for her. My anger is fading. That’s an important step. Similar with my sister; pretty sure I’ll never actually forgive her, but I see now how she was getting triggered with her own shit. The realizations I’ve come to regarding my family do not make me want to reconnect. Just the opposite; they’ve confirmed for me all the reasons why it’s better to have nothing to do with those people. I see, now, how sometimes my fears and anxieties were warranted and sometimes not. And I see why I was so confused. I was taught to be confused. Hurt, and told I was loved. Abused, and told I was spoiled. I was taught to not trust at a very early age. Do not trust your own perceptions; we will tell you what you should feel. All the while my truth was I couldn’t trust my own family, my own mother, and deep down I knew that.

Things to remember: the unaccepted truth makes you run. If you find yourself running, look for that truth. It won’t be easy; you’re running from it. You won’t want to look at it. It will be that thing in the corner of your eye. The thing that makes you uneasy when you’re alone. The thing that gives you those nightmares. The thing your mind flits over time and again so fast you might not even be aware of it.

Accept it, and stop running.

As if it were that easy, right? If it were easy, I would have done it years ago. If it were easy, I wouldn’t be writing this blog. But it’s one of those stupid things in life that once you get it, you do say to yourself ‘Hm! That was easy!’ because things just fall away.

Or maybe the doc just finally got the dosage right with my medication…

Sometime yesterday I blew out the last of this illness. I can feel the difference. Might hold off on the allergy pill for a bit. See if I can go without it. I feel ready to start that long journey back to good health.

My nails actually look good these days. I don’t paint them, but I have been keeping up with cuticle maintenance. Been keeping them filed and buffed, too. I’m not ashamed to show my hands. Now that it’s summer weather, I’ve even been working on my toenails.

I wake up and think about today. Not yesterday, or years ago. Today. What I’ll be doing, how I’m feeling – all very in the now.

It’s very different. No wonder some people seem to have so much time. They don’t think about the past the way I did. I couldn’t get OUT of the past. I was stuck there. I’m feeling more capable of moving on now. Maybe I won’t get things right. Hell! lol! I’m sure I won’t. But I’ll be doing it consciously. Thinking about the present. Seeing things as they are, not veiled by the dark truth I didn’t want to accept.

Honestly, I wish everyone could feel this way. It’s not happy, exactly, tho there are elements of joy in it. The joy of being free. Of having my mind free. The freedom – and power! – to stop those destructive thoughts before they take hold. There’s an excitement, too. Knowing that whatever I choose, this is a new path for me. I’m not bound by those old chains anymore. It’s liberating.

In some ways, I’m a brand new person. This is my first meeting with the doc.

Hi, Dr T. Nice to meet you.