It’s a go

The last role is cast. Barring disaster, the production will happen.

Showed up around quarter past 6. The director was in the cafe, as usual. Found him deep in conversation with someone. We went out for cigarettes and a chat, all three of us. Sadly, I can’t tell you the other guy’s name. And I do mean sadly: he was one of those few that gave me that ding! feeling. Immediate connection. I talked up the play, he talked about joining the theater group. He’s Russian, very cool, and someone with whom I could indulge in a bit of flirting from time to time. Hoping he actually will come to the play and get involved.

Saw two actors last night, both female. One was (in the director’s words) a weirdo who contacted him on FB. She’s just in from Italy, and her messages told us she didn’t speak English fluently. But she had long experience in Italian theatre, so he wanted to meet with her. The other actor was a friend of someone already in the cast. She’s from Dublin, and we immediately hit it off in that easy manner that makes me think we could be real friends outside of the group.

The director chose two scenes, and asked me to stand in as the extra characters. I snickered to myself. While these are scenes we’ve used before in auditions, he hadn’t seen my interpretation of them yet and I got this feeling that THAT’s what he was really after. And it was fun to be grumpy Ted, grunting out his replies. It was fun to be fearful Alex, shamefully admitting to self mutilation.

Most fun of all, tho, was the glowing interest showed by the actors. There will come a time – soon – when I’ll step down as the writer and be the actor. I will not correct other actors to my vision or my interpretation; I’ll let them do it their way. But during auditions, I am still the writer. I am still the genius with the inspiration, the master of words, the holiest of holy. And I get a bit of that, especially last night. The actor from Dublin is also a writer, and we chatted away, she giving me gushing admiration for the script, my book, etc. The questions like: How did you come up with this? The slightly fearful and hesitant look everyone gives me when I tell them this is based in fact. Heady, heady stuff. Aaaaaah! 😉

Down to earth. I must admit to some trepidation. We’re set to premiere in February or March, depending on venue availability. Those are the months I’ve typically had massive health problems. So I’m already looking ahead. Reviewing my behavior in the past to figure out how better to protect myself. I will NOT be the reason this has to be pulled at the last minute. My priority is clear: the play is number one. I will forgo my language lessons, my exercise, any socializing, anything that endangers that priority.

I’m old enough to have experienced those rare moments in life when everything just comes together. You’ve got to be ready to seize that. Go for it. Those are the doors to step thru, to get you to another level. I recognize that now. This is one of those moments, or can be if I can juggle things just so. That’s the trick. You’ve got to juggle all the elements, keep things exactly where they should be. And the longer the set-up, the harder it is. This is a nine month set-up. A full pregnancy. And you betcha; this is my baby in every sense of the word.

So, like any expectant mother, I’m gonna be extra, extra careful. The baby takes priority, and becomes my reason for saying no to some things and yes to others. I am excited and a bit frightened. I have dreams for my baby, dreams that it lives and grows beyond me and the small start I help to give it. I’m worried, too, about what could happen to it. But I want it – I need it – to go out there. Pit itself against the critics and nay-sayers, and find out how strong it is. Support it, no matter what.

Was going to say I’d go out for a walk and do this or that today, but the truth is these last two later nights have really thrown me. I’m tired, and could use a day down in front of the tv, napping. So I’ll take it. Errands be damned. Homework be damned. Exercise and fresh air be damned. This is expectant mother stuff. I’m napping.

Taking care of myself starts today.

It’s a go.

Advertisements

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.

Right where I am

Round 3. I suppose there was a certain symmetry going on last night. The first audition brought very few people. The second a lot. The third…well, only the actors we asked to show up and give us a bit more came. Problem: we are one body short. Prefer it to be a man at this point; we’re women heavy (did not think I’d be saying that!). Hoping one of the actors can and will pull in some people. Messages are being sent out today, and we should know soon.

And I’m taking a role.

Yes, yes…I wanted it. I wrote it; I wanted it. I knew where I’d put myself in the mix, and that’s precisely where I landed: Elizabeth, mother of the girl who kills herself in act 1. The writer in me found it a bit odd. I began with Elizabeth, focusing on her sorrow. She was a very clear cut, in depth character to me. All I heard from the other actors, tho, was that she was tough to do. Difficult to get right. The director finally had me get up and read a scene as Elizabeth with another actor. It was a scene we’d been doing all three auditions, and no one really got Elizabeth. I, naturally, nailed it. I sat back down by the director and he leaned towards me: Yeah. No one can do Elizabeth like you.

Have been told the production will be in 2019, not this autumn. While a tad bit disappointed (do it, do it, do it!), overall I’m okay with that. I was worried about the timing, the push on the actors, the need to pull everything together in a few short months. Now I can stretch out. February, maybe March. We’ve time to find and buy a decent computer to do the recording on, everyone has plenty of time to rehearse, time to look for props, make-up, practice the fight scenes.

Best of all, tho, was the reaction from everyone when the news came out that we were one person short: concern, worry, real angst over the idea of not being able to perform this particular play. I was told by one actor how much she loved the writing because it wasn’t tied to any particular gender. Oh, man! Someone caught on to that!! I couldn’t be happier. They love the weirdness of it, they love the explosion of emotion in the characters. Eeee! If that’s what I get in a sample of seven people, I’m gonna be overwhelmed at the production. These things always follow percentiles. For instance, I consider it a good blog day if I get about 5% of my followers to like a post. That’s a decent sized percentile when you take all the variables into consideration. Positive feedback on work in person tends to be higher due to social pressure; people don’t like to say negative things (in general) in situations like that. They’ll find something positive to say, even if their hearts aren’t in it. But you can suss those people out. They’re the ones who give you a limp comment, half smile, nod, and then amble away. They never walk away. Too direct. They amble. Shuffle. Wander. Do their best to make it seem like they’re not leaving the conversation when in fact they are. Social pressure positives last night: zero. They may be actors, but none of them are good enough to sustain that level of interest for that long. I should know; I’ve watched them audition.

I am ready to grab life by the balls today. Get to the gym and do a full round of work. Tackle my homework. Smile, keep myself occupied and moving. I feel good.

Dare I say it? I feel so good even my bowels operated at peak efficiency. I almost took a picture of my morning dump because it was so damned shiny and perfect.

… Saw someone go down the grove last night. Two people, actually. Of course, that was just from one side of it; I didn’t see them emerge from the other side. They might have disappeared. My heart doubts it, tho. I think that thing can only emerge during certain times, or to certain people. I haven’t figured out the mythology yet. That’s my problem: I don’t know what I’m dealing with. It’s a puzzle I want to crack – or, from the audience’s perspective, create. And even if I never reveal my reasoning in any of my stories, I need to know it. Without it, you’ve got a story based on old hat scare tactics. If you don’t buy into the FX, you’re not frightened. With it, tho, you can scare the bejeezus out just about anyone.

😀 I like scaring people.

Ba-ba-de-doo-dah. So here’s something that’s bothering me a bit: I was told by the director last night that most people in my age group wouldn’t join our theatre troupe because they’d expect to be paid by this point. Either that or they’re real amateur, and expect very little from any production they’re involved in. Hmmmm. Yeah, I know. I should be getting paid for my work. I should be getting paid as a writer, too. I have been; I’ve got the cheque framed. But, you know – small cheque, and it was the only one (other than some meager royalties from my book sales). *sigh* I am not of the mindset to be financially successful with my art. I do it because I must. Because I love it. Because I want and need that surprise, interest, and support from people. And I’ve always felt that if my art is good enough, it will garnish the finances I need. Which is a double screw, because every time I’m not financially successful I tend to end up thinking my work is shit. But to purposefully hold out just for money… That doesn’t feel right. It makes me feel like a two bit whore.

That thought is so incongruous with my totally good feeling this morning that I reject it utterly.

I’m good, right where I am.

Strung out

Everything becomes a little more difficult when your hands sweat uncontrollably. It’s disgusting. I keep wiping the palms of my hands on my clothing, trying to dry them, but within seconds they’re again covered with sweat. It’s pouring out me.

Strung out. That’s how I feel. Like I’ve come off a cocaine binge or something. Sleep is still off. Food is off. The sweating. That feeling like part of me is jumping up and down, or should be – a restlessness that keeps me moving even when I’m damned tired. Truth is, this happens to me after every performance. …Which is why I don’t perform often. It takes it out of me. I admitted to myself years ago that I could not do the kind of schedule needed to reach a certain star status – not unless all restrictions were gone (like money, so I could go to first class hotels and indulge in a private masseuse to travel with me). I could, however, do more if I had help. This physical kickback is not a choice. It’s just a physical reaction like my RA.

And other than the two beers post performance, I thought I did very well. Stayed away from caffeine. Ate a rice meal. Kept up on fresh air, and movement, and all sorts of things I’ve not bothered to do before. In other words, I really tried. Tried this time to make the transition back as smooth and as easy for myself as I possibly could. And what did I get?

Sweaty hands.

Oh, and don’t tell me to not perform. Don’t tell me to let it go. I can’t. I just can’t. It’s too important to me. The last person to drill that idea into me sent me into a spiral of depression and self hate for 35+ years. I don’t have another 35 years to figure this out!

Thursday I see Dr. T. That alone is pushing me to class this morning. To say my head isn’t on Dutch would be an understatement. I’ve really got to slow down to form any kind of coherent sentence. Therein lies the problem: go to class this hyper and unfocused and risk an outburst, or stay in and go to my appointment on Thursday barely able to say anything. Hm…

I’ll decide after I eat. If I eat (and Red Velvet Cake doesn’t count).

Seeing M yesterday was great. She has such style! Perfect hair, clear skin, her outfit form fitting without being too tight (and all in black, naturally). Gods, I envy her that. We talked about my script, and the possibility of her auditioning for it. Can I say – WOW! She laid it out for me: her schedule, the fact she’s living near Amsterdam so travel one way would be an hour and a half, etc., and she still seemed like she wanted to do it. I feel so…I don’t know. Apologetic, I guess. I didn’t realize all that. I’d love her to do it, and I think she’d be great and have fun, but…honestly, I’d say no. It’s a lot to ask. She’s got that youth on her side, though. I sent her the script this morning, so she could look at the story, and said I’ll let her know when the group holds auditions. The best thing for it is just to see if she can make an audition and talk to the director about her travel and time restrictions.

Heard from S, too. I wrote to her last week, filling her in on my new medication. Guess I was a little too blunt about my condition; she said she’d been afraid to answer me, because she wasn’t sure what to say. I apologized for frightening her and assured her that the main point was I’m doing better, and happier for it.

Ach! And I still have glue on my eyelids from those false eyelashes…

Better sleep last night. A full nine hours. Headache this morning I can’t pin down. Tension? Anxiety? Hypomania? Dehydration? Sinus infection? Brain tumor?

Who the hell knows?

Particularly sensitive to smell right now. Just opened a window. Usually, the house has very good ventilation and even tho we both smoke, you don’t smell it. But now is one of those times: I smell it, and I can’t stand it. Open the fucking window. And close the curtains, because even tho it’s cloudy it’s too bright (tho then I’ll need the lights on because it’s too dark in the room).

Like I said: strung out.

Time to shut down

I can never sleep well after a performance. My body, like it or not, is set on its schedule and performances and the world be damned if it’ll stay in bed an extra few hours because I’ve been up late.

Ah! And now I understand. I’ve heard so much about performing in Amsterdam; the audiences are tough, the standards are high. Yes, the audience was tough. By the time the third act rolled around, they were laughing loudly but the first… The first act’s job is to warm up the audience, and I was never so aware of that as I was last night. Sure fire gags to get a big laugh stuff suddenly fell on silence. It was a cold audience, no friends or family there to cheer us on, just people who came to see a show. I felt it and folded it right back into Wendy’s nervousness. I looked towards the audience more often, used that fake smile that fell in an instant showing she really wasn’t enjoying the situation, fidgeted, blew my nose loudly, belched, whined in that whiny voice, and finally – finally! – near the last 10 minutes of the act began to get real laughter in response.

The owner of the place met us in the afternoon. He shook my hand and said hello. The group went to dinner at a place nearby (good food), and when we came back I transformed: the lashes, the blue eye shadow, the bright red lipstick, the ugly leopard print blouse, the hair pulled back with two garish clips, the glasses. The walk came in, and the voice came out. The owner passed me again, in make-up, and said hello: Wendy responded. We did our thing, hitting lines and marks the entire time. Curtain call. Then I hurried backstage to take Wendy off before joining everyone at the bar. The owner was serving, and I had two beers on tap. Finally, after most of the guests had left, the owner stopped by our celebrations to speak to us once again. He looked straight at me and a puzzled frown came over his face. Sorry, what was your name again? he asked me. I introduced myself. Then the penny dropped. Oh my God! You were in the first act! I would have never recognized you! Jesus, what a transformation! You’re one hell of an actress! The owner looked dazedly around at the other members of the group, as if to ask do you people know what you have here?

Most of the conversation before the performance was geared towards the performance, as you might imagine. We were all focused on the task. But the conversation afterwards… I have been accepted as a full-fledged member of the group: they’re teasing me. One would ask: So, do we have any idea what script we might do next? And the director would answer: Oh, I don’t know…maybe I’ve found one… all the time with sly looks aimed at me and grins they couldn’t quite hide. Auditions were discussed. Timelines. I found more enthusiasm from the members than I initially expected.

Oh, they’re not doing it because they feel they have to, or just because they can do without paying royalties! They like having me there! I was included in backstage pix, crowding around and hamming it up for the camera just like I see other people doing. I was hugged both formally and informally – sometimes just an arm slung around my shoulders in an inclusive camaraderie that I felt on a new level. Yea! I’ve found it so difficult for so long to find people I have anything in common with. And although I still would like a bosom buddy, I find having a circle of friends like this is almost as good. It is immensely gratifying to honestly say I’m not worrying about what was said or done last night; there is nothing to hash over. Nothing other than the warm memory of the smiles and the laughter, the excitement and expectation.

Wow. Put that one down on the calendar! I don’t think I’ve ever been able to say that before.

Class on Monday is looking less and less likely. I heard from my friend and film co-star; she plans to be shooting until the evening, so I’m looking at a late night again. Good time to catch me, when everything’s topsy turvy from the performance. I’ll nap this afternoon with the tv on and stay up later.

Snick. Wendy is gone; the magic silver ring is back in my ear.

Auditions might be called yet this month. The re-writes are done. Still have to check page numbers on tech notes. Still have to think about the legal end, too: I want releases for recorded voice and/or video sequences, and I want something between myself as the playwright and the group just to cover my ass. Those things fall to me to write. I don’t need complexity, just clarity. This is mine, you can’t do it without my permission, you understand your voice will be used in a performance and all rights to the recordings remain ours, etc. I’m not a fan of legal writing, but I can do it.

Will need another meeting with the director. Need to map out the schedule, especially the sound which I suspect will take longer than the actors. I want to move on that over summer holiday, so we have at least the roughs to use in rehearsals. …Ach, I will not have my notes fully made for any podcast/audio versions. I just won’t. It’s too much to pull it apart and re-write. Damn. Oh, well.

This production will help me in the next. And the next will help me in the first film version. And the first film version will help me the next time, when it goes full-length and big budget…

Yeah, yeah. We all know where that line of thought takes us.

…It’s Sunday. Time to shut down.

Curtain down

My bag is packed. My lines have been run. Fidgeting down. In six hours I’ll get a lift to Amsterdam and the fun begins – unloading, waiting, shuffling, waiting, talking, waiting, waiting.

Actually, I’m looking forward to it. Looking forward to being back in a city I always find energizing. Amsterdam…it’s magical. It’s very tourist, it’s very flashy, it’s very loud, and I wouldn’t want to live there…but it’s magical. Turn any corner and you might find that perfect something you’ve been looking for for ages, or a hidden hide-away hole in the wall where you discover the best food ever. I more than half expect to step through a worm hole and emerge in another time: that’s how strange and wonderful it is.

The trip there should be fun, too. My acting partner is driving up with some props, so he’s picking me, the director, and the director’s girlfriend up along the way. With four of us in the car, it’ll be a lively drive. I’ll be able to try out my social skills – How are you? How was your holiday weekend? – in a safe environment. And I’ve never made the trip to Amsterdam by car, so I’ll get to see all new roads and areas of the city I haven’t seen.

Did not get my hair done. I dithered back and forth, but after talking to my bro about finances for the month I decided I could just live with it the way it is. My brother gets his pension at the beginning of each month, and through long experience we’ve learned to be cautious. I’ve got the money now, but things are still tight. I’d rather hold onto it in case of emergency.

I did pick up a couple of needed items at the store: facial lotion, toothpaste. Used my bank card, which made me feel like a true Nederlander. Cash is being phased out here. Buy groceries? Run your card. Put money on your OV chip? Run your card. I’ve seen people run their card for purchases less than one euro. I find that silly. They take twice as long as handing over a euro and getting a few cent change. No, I’ll never be like that. But it is convenient and a little freeing to just swipe a card, punch in some numbers, and leave with what you want.

Found a new source of slavery: red velvet cake. I’m not someone who jumps on every food fad immediately. In fact, push that fad at me and I’ll dig my heels in and refuse to try it. So it’s been with red velvet cake. Up ’til yesterday. My brother came home with one from Albert Heijn, and oh, my! I am addicted. Those things should really come with big warnings across the front: MAY CAUSE FATNESS AND UNCONTROLLABLE LUSTING FOR THE RICH CREAMINESS YOU CAN ONLY FIND IN THIS CAKE. Wow. Glad I am out of the house for most of today. It should prevent me from having a piece. …Maybe.

My feet have been happy. The adjustments on my orthopedics seem to have done it. I can walk and walk and walk and not have problems. It’s warm enough now I can wear the other pair comfortably, too. They’re made of a tougher leather and they just don’t give much, so in cold weather they can still bite my feet. But it’s spring, and warmer, so they don’t. Make my feet happy, and I’m happy. There’s one of those old pains I just got used to. The aching, the soreness, the feeling of walking on broken glass. Amazing how much that shit wears on your spirit. Amazing how light and easy everything is with it gone.

Got down to Dutch, too. Wrote about spring in the different countries I’ve lived in. It’s a little short (for me). It’s far too pat in it’s conclusion. But it’s an exercise, not something I want to really write. Will not be surprised to find it contains less than the usual number of corrections; when I’m dispassionate about a subject, I can write very well. I don’t get hooked into my own words, so it’s easier to make corrections. Just one of those things I’ve learned about myself. It’s also why I now wait so long before releasing anything (other than these morning rambles). Time brings familiarity, and familiarity brings a more clinical and dispassionate view of my own work. I can catch more of my plot holes, fix more of my wonky sentences. Why not do the very best I can?

On my desk sits a tiny ring of silver. It’s a small earring I thought I’d lost. I found it yesterday. It is the only piece of jewelry I generally wear: one plain silver hoop in the second piercing on my right ear. I took it off in November for the role of Wendy, tucked it away a little too well, and forgot where I put it. Yesterday it shook loose. And tomorrow I put it back in my ear. It’s a very physical reminder of the full circle, a token of the closing chapter on this production: we will not do it again. I am certain of it.

…I wonder now if the Universe gave me the role of Wendy so I’d have a place to store all those annoying physical habits I built up over the years. Hunching my shoulders. Rubbing the palms of my hands on my pants. The nervous smiles and laughs. The uncertainty, the overcompensation, the brashness and abruptness that can put people off. She’s got all of that, in spades. But I also bring a vulnerability to her, an unexpected lowering of her defenses that, with one look and a trademark ‘oh!’ (which I must say at least a hundred times every performance), makes the audience like her.

Tonight, my hair will be frizzy and held back by two garish blue clips. My make up will be bright, loud, and unflattering. I will fidget, try to hitch up the back of my pants surreptitiously, snort laugh, lift my upper lip to show my gums when I smile, and speak with a cutting, nasal voice.

Then that’s it.

Curtain down.

There’s no place for worry

I worry too much. If I can honestly say I’m concerned over whether or not I performed a poop test correctly (and I can), I worry too much. How can you screw up a poop test? Really? Poop, take the sample, boom. You’re done.

I think I’m too used to worrying. If I’ve got nothing to worry about, I’ll invent something.

Very pleased with myself. I’ve hit the section of The Witches where the High Witch comes in and talks. She speaks with an accent, and the dialogue reflects that with misspelled words. There was a time when I wouldn’t have been able to get through that; didn’t know the Dutch well enough. Now, I can read through it and enjoy it.

Did some homework for Monday. Still have to write my little essay/story. It’s supposed to be about Spring. Woo-hoo. The only thing I came up with was: “The world is built on the bones of the dead.” While I could go with it, I suspect it’s not exactly what my teachers were looking for. Decided to wait until I was ready to talk about flowers and birds. Pondered – or tried – some simple poetry in Dutch. Just sat and tried to think of rhyming words. Bloody difficult. Add into that proper verb tense and grammar, and you’ve got one hell of a difficult thing to write in Dutch. Way beyond my skills.

Ah, well. When I can write a poem in Dutch, I’ll feel I have the language.

Meanwhile, I comfort myself by remembering I make far fewer notes on my homework in English. In the past, my teachers have given me homework that I’ve needed to look up multiple words in each sentence. Now, I know what those words are. Well done, me! By summer, I’ll be ready to move onto something other than Roald Dahl.

Ready to start moving again. Go to the gym today, do my thing. Pick up around the house. Start making those cookies I wanted to make. Something in me is rested enough to begin.

Thinking I might ask my bro to transfer some money into my account so I can get my hair touched up. The roots need it, and it would be great to go to Amsterdam feeling like I look my best. Been bringing up the role. Wendy’s voice was difficult to get back. She’s so whiny. Still don’t quite feel there, so I’ll keep on my daily rehearsals ’til it’s second nature. Ah, in November Wendy was easy. I was tightly wound, and that just meant all I had to do was let that nervousness show. Stop stopping myself from all those nervous gestures, swaying, and other habits I’ve worked so hard not to do in public. Now I have to bring it back up. It’s become a continual stream of work to remember to never really stop moving, fidgeting, playing with my jewelry or hair, straightening my clothes, etc. Lately I’ve been so relaxed I’ve noted my walk has changed. I don’t mince my steps; they are wide, easy swinging, and enjoyable. Wendy minces her steps. She is uncomfortable in every way. Taking on that physicality right now is not ideal, but I remind myself here and now that I’m just taking it on, not truly becoming it. And in order to properly counteract it, I should do a double chill. Time off must truly be time off.

On that note, I hereby give myself written permission (set in stone) to take next Monday off from class. Amsterdam Saturday, meeting my film co-star Sunday… Yes. I have the permission from myself without restriction. No strings attached, no measuring stick of how tired I need to be to take the time off. I can do it on a whim. Because I want to sleep in. Because I want to fuck off. For any reason whatsoever.

…Remember that. Any. reason. whatsoever.

There are one or two people on this planet who’ve treated me like a superstar. I should perk up and pay attention to that. Treat myself like they treat me. I don’t mean get an attitude, but…superstars rest because what they do is work. There’s a bad habit in society these days: calling any artistic endeavor that does not become a cash cow overnight a “hobby”. Cannot tell you how often I’ve had my life’s work slagged off because someone discounted it as a hobby. Hobbies are things you do in your spare time. Hobbies are fun things, things that help you relax and energize so you can go back to work a happier person. What I do isn’t a hobby. I need time off from it. I wish people would understand that. That constant discount from outside… I try to tell myself these people are just ignorant, but… Ah, too many ellipses. I feel discounted. That should be enough.

Meanwhile, there is a part of my mind that’s beginning to think ahead. What’s the next story? Caught myself at it the other day, just shuffling through story ideas at lightning speed while watching tv. Two come to the fore. One: a futuristic tale (okay, in an apocalyptic world; I’ll say it!) about a collector. Two: a thriller revolving around a serial killer. And then there’s just the standard interest stuff for me: those unsolved mysteries and weird factual stuff I like to base my writing on. Have this feeling that while I’m working on the production this year I’ll also be filling in the gaps, fleshing out a new story or two – at least to see where they lead me. If I hit a dead end, which I’ve done before, well, put it aside. I’m not ready to write it yet. But if one action leads to another, and another, and another…then it’s just a matter of learning it. Running that film version (quick edit, with whomever I want in the roles) in my brain. See it, hear it, write it. There’s no place for ‘worry’ in that.

Calm before the storm

I am on holiday. From myself. I’m not letting myself bully myself. I’m not jumping on every job, working through the holiday weekend. Telling myself everyone else is taking several days off; I can, too.

It’s weird. And slightly unsettling. Can’t entirely rid myself of that guilty feeling every time I pass the script on the table, or my homework, or see a dust bunny in a corner. The only thing I can’t take time off is thinking about my role in the upcoming production, but that’s well underway. I snort-laughed last night while watching tv; that’s Wendy, not me.

…Felt a bit nostalgic, as you do during holidays. Pulled up my oldest brother’s LinkedIn profile. Never took a look at it before, and I should have. His work history is nothing to crow about: a long line of employers, most jobs held for just over a year. Honestly, it made me feel better about myself. Here I’ve been allowing him to shame me through the decades over my choices, and his personal history is shit. Puts a new spin on it.

Been thinking, too, about being poor. Usually it’s not something I ponder much. Plenty of things I want to do but can’t afford; that’s life. But lately it’s been more in my face. Obvious differences I’m seeing between myself and others. That’s harder to take, especially when those same people turn to me and expect me to be able to cough up cash like they do. Or worse, when they pussy-foot around things because they know I don’t have the money.

Hm. I’d spend more if I had more. No doubt. But I find I’m not very materialistic. I’m not a fashion plate. Don’t need a closet full of clothes, don’t need 20 pairs of shoes, don’t need make-up. Too tired most times to go out at night, so no clubs or bars on the list. And I’m far more a peasant food lover than top shelf: give me a great rice dish and I’ll be much happier than serving me lobster. I’m not a great traveller, and my health has just made that more pronounced. All in all, I’m okay with hanging around the house in my sweat pants eating well prepared meals that cost less than three euro total.

I accepted a while ago that I live in my head. And I think if I had more trappings of modern life, I wouldn’t do that so much. I’d allow myself to become distracted. It’s happened before in my history. Then I go through long spells of not writing. Not creating. Feeling, but not knowing why. It’s never been comfortable for me. In fact, it’s always driven me so far that I’ve had to take time off because I break down emotionally and/or physically.

One thing age brings is a strong sense of what’s right for you. Although a part of me would love a penthouse apartment with beautiful furniture and fascinating paintings all done up in a stylized, modern look, I don’t think I’d be able to create in it. Nice to visit, like a hotel. Walk in and stay a day or two. But I need my mouse hole to create: eclectic, slightly too busy, a little disheveled, and very lived in. Make everything feng shui and zen and I’ll just go with it. But give me clashing motifs and bright colors, and I’ll create.

I suppose that would be my ideal: two homes. One the perfect zen, a place I could return to evenings and during my time off to kick back and chill out entirely; the other my mouse-hole, busy and bright and odd, for work mode. I’ve done the best I can with what I have, but when you live with a pack rat in a small space you can hardly achieve monk-like zen in any room. lol. And I know myself. I’d hardly spend any time at all in that zen room. My brother would have to lock me up in there, like it was a punishment: Go to your zen room! Now!

…I just made that into a zen room. Interesting. I’d been thinking I needed a zen living space, but I don’t. I just need a zen room. …So, what’s in that zen room? Carpet, for warmth and comfort. Pale walls with paintings and photos. Music. Plants. Bright light, big windows with curtains that can be pulled if needed but access to sunshine and lots of it. One comfortable couch, to lay or sit on as desired. Floor space, for yoga and contemplation and pacing.

*sigh* Sounds nice. At least I can construct it in my mind. Maybe that’ll help in visualizations.

Things to note: sleeping better. Longer. Feeling more and more like I’m healing physically, gaining strength. It’s…almost orgasmic. I eat and my body gains strength; I can feel it. Don’t really feel like challenging myself, so I’m sticking with walks around the neighborhood rather than going to the gym. Continually being amazed at how good ‘healthy’ feels. Really did not know how run down I’d become.

Controlling sights and sounds around me. Been burning through DVDs again, avoiding commercial content. Much better than sitting through hours of peddlers hyping their wares. I just sit at my computer, mindlessly playing solitaire while show after show plays. It is as if I’ve shut down on some level. Once in a while I try another game, something else, but… I keep returning to solitaire and eyeing the tv. This is a sign I’m working on something. That back burner is going and doesn’t want to be disturbed by frontal lobe thoughts. In fact, that back burner is singularly mysterious; usually I have a sense of what I’m working on. This time: Nadda. Niks. Rien. Nic. Zilch. I am as clueless as I’ve ever been.

And I’m letting that be okay. Regular me…she’d be upset. But I’m not regular me right now, I’m holiday me. If holiday me wants to spend her time zoning out, she can do that.

This is my calm before the storm.

I’m not strapped in

“We’ve never done a play by a female playwright, have we?”

“Sure – but only one: Agatha Christie.”

Okay, so there might be a million reasons why the local theatre group haven’t done more plays by female writers. Nonetheless, I felt like my name was tagged right up there with Christie’s: this is a worthy writer. The director grinned, his enthusiasm for my Lovecraftian work (he keeps saying it, so I’ll keep reminding myself that’s what he truly thinks) evident. Another support: I’d sent the script to a co-actor, one whom I’d had in mind for a specific role when I wrote the script. She’s finished it, LOVES it, and is determined to take part in the production even tho she lives in another town. I felt interest from several of our core members, which encourages me. Thought maybe they’d all take a pass on it, since I’m basically an unknown factor. But it seems like most of the group is onboard and enthusiastic.

Ran my lines before rehearsal. Gotta say, it reminded me very sharply why I grew annoyed with this writer in the first place. There wasn’t much to remind myself of; I’ve only one speech in the entire thing. Other than that, it’s ‘Yes’ or ‘Oh, dear’. As I watched the others rehearse, I realized just how chauvinistic this play is, how stereotypical. The women are either timid mice or roaring bitches, the dialogue is pat and based purely on old and tired cliches, and the men all have longer speeches than the women.

Not so with my work. I’m a bit female biased, as you might imagine. And I’m not afraid to put a woman in a lead role as a heavy. I’ve a bit of stereotypical word exchange between the male and female characters in part 2, but that’s in relation to older married couples. The rest…the women think. They take action. They make strong decisions, curse, and get right into the thick of things. I’ve one female character who’s a bit of a ditz, but I also have one male character who loses it, too. The rest run on logic, action and reaction, and basic human interplay. As I’ve said before, any of these characters could be male or female. I’ve swapped around the genders enough to know.

Got a dose of my own medicine last night from my bro. He had band rehearsal, and I didn’t know when he was coming home, so after relaxing for an hour I decided to head off and read in bed. Heard him walk in the front door as I was doing my back exercises. Came out of my room to chat. He was going a mile a minute. I’d already done my wind-down, tv on a good program, playing a few games on my computer. I saw in him what he sees in me every time I come home from performing: wide eyes, fast movements, angry outbursts. I asked him how his rehearsal went and he proceeded to dump everything out for 40 minutes. Finally, when he got it all out, he asked me how my night went. Ah, so that’s what it looks like! Well, it was a good lesson, especially on the heels of my last post. I will continue to work on winding down properly post-work.

Had my shoes adjusted yesterday, and wore them all night. No blisters, which is great. I was all ready to say no to a new pair of shoes, to tell them I just couldn’t afford it this year, so naturally the subject didn’t come up. Undoubtedly, they’ll accost me by phone when I least expect it. I dislike having to put my ‘no’ on hold. When I’m ready to say it, I’m ready to say it. It takes me a while to build up that courage. Then to ask me to sit on it and be just as clear and concise when someone decides it’s time to jump on me and finally ask… Ach! I do not like.

Still intend on taking it easy. I’ll get back to the gym soon enough. But last night I put on a pair of pants I haven’t worn in some months, and I noticed they were damned loose. While I’m always happy to say I lost weight, losing it from illness is not the way to go about it. Noticed I have color in my face again. I was so pale, so deathly pale for so many months! Now I have a warm glow in my skin. The difference between the before and after is drastic, and I’m taking note. My body was very run down. Reminding myself I just had 4 months on the edge. Taking two or three days (or a week!) is merited.

Want to get to the corrections and changes in the script this week. Need to look at my Dutch homework too; don’t want to let that go ’til the last day. But although I feel the mania just there, the reality of the work it will take to make my dreams come true sobers me up right quick. It doesn’t stop me from dreaming and hoping. The wind-up still occurs. But I never stop thinking about the work: the writing, the rehearsing, the sound work, the video work, the marketing. I find myself constantly on the look out for new and innovative ways to entice the general public. Latest brainstorm: drop info at the only goth shop in town. This is right up a goth’s alley. Besides, I’ve been meaning to walk into that shop and take a look. I like what they’ve got in the window. Reaching the public when you operate on next to zero cash is damned difficult. Your best bet is word of mouth, which means being social. Not my forte. But…I’ve done more with less. Hell! I drew in a family to Ireland from the states to see one of my shows. I know how to market.

…The palms of my hands have been dripping with sweat lately. Icky. And it keeps happening. I know what that is; it happened to me during filming: hypomania. My body’s taking off whether I want it to or not.

*sigh* And I’m not strapped in.

Whatever it takes

I am too anxious to count victories or pat myself on the back. Too future-fixed to do more than just write.

It amazes me how my mind can decide ‘do whatever it takes to stay calm’ and within 10 minutes the same mind is telling me ‘boy, you’re weak if you have to resort to that right away’. My mother trained my brain well; it took over her job the moment she kicked it. Crack open that proverbial space between a rock and a hard place and you’ll find me, shivering and squirming in indecision.

Yesterday should have gone better. I did my homework, I read my book, I listened and worked on the language all week. But everything was slightly out of focus. I experienced that fritz out sensation on a lesser scale. I kept up, mostly, with the verbal assault in Dutch. But I seemed to lose a lot of words and a lot of grammatical rules. Loads of correction from my teachers, which meant loads of patience from me. I didn’t lose it, I didn’t grow angry or have an outburst, but I know I didn’t do ‘well’. Not as well as I should have done. Gods, woman, just fucking say it! Okay. I’m too smart to make such dumb mistakes. There. That written in stone fucking shit that was drilled into me the moment C got a whiff of where my IQ sat. I can’t escape it, and I continue to beat myself with it every time I fuck up. I’ve heard variations on that theme from my teachers, too: slow down and think about it; you know better than this. Obviously no, I don’t, because I keep fucking up, don’t I? If I “knew” it, I wouldn’t do that, would I? So why keep repeating that I should know it, that I’m too smart for it, that I’m not thinking, that I’m making so many fucking mistakes?

Can’t smart people make mistakes? Why do I continually get messages that make me feel like I must be perfect 100% of the time?

Finding myself more and more ready to make those mistakes – at least, in language class. I think I’ve been going about this all wrong. I’ve always worked my ass off to do my very best. That leads to this assumption that I’ll always be that good and never make any mistakes. So, fuck it. I’m gonna stop doing my best for other people. I’ll just do whatever. A half-assed attempt. See my mistakes: I’m human. Fucking deal. Allow me to fuck up! Please! Why is it okay for everyone else to fuck up but not me?

…*sigh* I suppose, if I think about it, there’s reason in this to feel good. I must do such an amazing job most of the time that when I DO fuck up, it’s very noticeable. People must judge me very highly to always have this reaction, right? Don’t know that I’m happy about that. I mean…it just ends up making me feel awful about myself, and always, always brings me back to that horrible circular statement of being too smart to make such dumb mistakes.

Then people ask me why I feel so shitty about myself. Or why I’m so sad and depressed most of the time. Or why I don’t even want to try some days.

For fuck’s sake!

…I gotta break this. Already my thoughts are circling the drain… Someone just fucking kill me is top of the list.

Up this week: buying that CD. That’s a downtown trip during the day. Into public. Doing all those things normal people do: ride the metro, walk around, interact. Anxiety issue number 1, that is. Number 2 is the psych appointment. Really getting wound up over it. My bro’s b-day is Friday, so I’ve got to do some baking (which includes both before and after kitchen cleaning because for some reason it’s okay for my bro to leave a mess in there but not me). Also expect to meet with the director and hash thru the script (another anxiety ridden thing: can I let go enough to actually get it produced?). In between all that I need some gym time, some homework time, game time, and the bare necessities of sleeping and eating and keeping my body groomed enough to do everything else.

The best I can manage on ‘keeping calm’ is to balance one anxiety with another. When I think too long about the psych appointment, I counter it with my script anxiety and vice versa. If I worry too much about my trip downtown I concentrate on going to the gym. It works, to an extent. It doesn’t allow any one thing to become too big in my head. But it doesn’t take my overall anxiety down, which is what I want. Thinking ahead a week doesn’t really do the trick, either: then begins the countdown to my Amsterdam performance, which brings up all the associated issues of relearning my lines, hitting the marks, etc. …Fine. If I flip my computer calendar to April, it’s not so bad. As long as I ignore the alert in the first week about the upcoming performance, my schedule is clear and free. April it is, then.

Let’s see… It’ll be getting warmer by then, so maybe I’ll open up some windows. The sun will be out longer; perhaps I’ll be taking strolls in the evenings during twilight. The issues that are coming up this week and causing me anxiety will be in my past by then. Over and done with. Yes. And progress will have been made. Decisions about the production(s). Maybe some movement on some sound effects. Maybe I’ll have heard from the theatre in the states by then. Maybe the local theatre group will have already called for auditions. I’ll have written more – something. This blog, at least. Yes. I can feel good about all of that.

And remember what you said, woman. How do you feel in your skin? …Not so good at the moment. Then let it go. Seek that comfort in yourself. Don’t listen to that other part of you that wants to make you feel bad.

Whatever it takes.