No one can tell I’m crying when I walk in the rain

It’s 5 a.m. and no huge surprise that I can’t sleep.

In less than 5 hours I’m meeting someone who will probably be a part of my medical team for many years to come. The only way I’ve been able to look at it is that it’s like my RA. It’s incurable, I’ll never be able to stop treating it, never be able to stop seeing doctors about it, and I’ll just have to live with it and all the new complications it brings.

Keep thinking about people. The Dutch just don’t lose it like Americans, so it’s been a while since I’ve been treated to a public display that makes me think ‘wow, they let you loose from that straitjacket a little early’, but I see it all the time on tv. How do they let these people walk around? Why hasn’t it been universally recognized that they’ve got some real issues going and it would better to just deal with them? But, no. The absurd is commonplace now. This unhinged behavior has now come under the mantle of ‘free speech’ and allows everything from outright hate, bigotry and chauvinism to total narcissism. We feed the id, stuffing it with everything possible in order to avoid thinking about how fucking miserable we all are and how shitty life really is. I realize the only difference between them and me is that I recognize I’m miserable, but then, I’ve been asking for a lobotomy in one manner or another since I was 10.

Maybe that’s all mental un-health is. Recognizing how miserable you are. It sure doesn’t hang off of actual behavior unless you go on some killing spree. It sure doesn’t go off social ‘norms’ because they’re always changing and the people who don’t adhere to them aren’t just carted away. There’s no mentally healthy person on this planet to point to as an example. Even the doctor I’m going to see this morning has his issues and problems. He probably sees a shrink on his own; usually, that’s part of the job. Gods, please don’t let him be a closet chauvinist! I just can’t deal with that right now.

Right. So…imagine him in his underwear. Or sitting on the toilet. No one can be intimidating with their pants around their ankles. He’s just a person, with his own problems and issues. He’s been trained to communicate well, but he’s just a person, and people fuck up. Try to remember that. Today is no big deal. A meet ‘n greet. He’s got to get to know you, and you’ve got to get to know him. Don’t unload like a dump truck the moment the door closes. You acknowledge this is going to be long term, so act accordingly.

It’s okay to be cautious.

Another headache, or the same one that never really went away. Don’t know nor care. Just an observation. Same with my continued gut problem, tho that, I’m happy to say, is getting better.

Came to this morning, tossed and turned. Found my bed a mess: covers half off, pillows scrunched up or on the floor. I am aware my nights have been very hectic. Sleep is where I seem to confront my big stuff, and that’s the real problem. I’m not getting proper rest, I’m hurting myself, and I don’t seem to be working thru it. Didn’t help that as I lay there, tears came to my eyes and spilled down my cheeks. First. thing. in. the morning. That happens so often to me… I hate it. I know I must get up; continuing to lay there just makes things worse. But then I’m up in the middle of the night, which does nothing to help me feel rested.

…Felt bolstered to get a positive comment on a FB post about my upcoming performance. It came from the producer of a film I worked on, which doubles its weight in my mind. Wow. Yeah. I’ve done films. Plural. Keep that in mind. The comment was to my acting, which strokes my ego just so fine today. Yes, thank you. Thank you for the acknowledgement. I feel I don’t get enough of that in my life, so THANK YOU! for telling me you think I act well. Don’t feel quite comfortable saying ‘I’m a good actress’. Not this morning. But I’m comfortable enough acknowledging someone else’s opinion of my work. It’s a bit of yeah, not everybody thinks I’m shit feeling.

*sigh* I’m all over the place, aren’t I? I’m not even addressing the crying this morning other than noting it. What can I say? That it’s just become a fact of life for me? It’s not an every day occurrence, but it happens often enough that I’m not surprised by it. Maybe that’s what happens when you ignore it, tho. Your body ups the anti to get your attention.

Which is where I currently find myself.

Good Goddess, someone read this and learn from my mistakes because it sure as hell seems like I didn’t!

…Once in a while I ponder the idea that I’m leaving my own legacy behind. As an adherent to the idea of reincarnation, I like to imagine that someday I’ll stumble across my own words, my own work, and find myself again. I’ve run across things that make me hum. Totally, head to toe, vibrate with a deep…a deep what? Longing? Love? Something between the two? It resonates with me, and makes me feel like I’ve found a long-missed piece of a jigsaw puzzle I’m putting together. That’s the best way I can put it.

…I’m not real good at accepting help. I know that. People…tend to confuse me. I often do better if I’m just left alone to suss it out by myself. I do need to learn how to ask for help, tho. Especially when I need it. And I need it now. Not begrudging help, doled out with marks on a chalkboard adding up how much I owe in return. Not weak help, like a slimy fish handed to you that’s still alive and immediately slips out of your fingers. I need help like I’ve rarely received it before, and I need to let myself be helped.

….It’s raining. Well. There’s one good thing.

No one can tell I’m crying when I walk in the rain.

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Take a dump

Beginning to learn why everyone recommends de-stressing. …Yeah, I know the articles all said stress does a number on your body; as usual, I didn’t quite believe it – at least not in the context of my workhorse, which was bred and raised to work. I was meant to drop in my tracks, right? That’s what workhorses do. [Thanks, Dad, for THAT programming.]

Self diagnosis: irritable bowel syndrome. Trust me, it sounds nicer than it is. And it doesn’t sound very nice, does it? For the past 24 hours I’ve been reluctant to do anything outside the house because every time I bloody well fart I have to be on the toilet. Diarrhea, bloating, belching, discomfort, and a disturbing amount of mucus do not make for happy toilet times even if you’re rich enough to afford one of those Japanese toilets that sing to you while you’re taking a dump. Imagine what it’s like in a stripped down WC.

Yeah, thanks Universe! I really needed that constant physical reminder. I really needed that extra added stress of my body not running the way it should. I needed that extra worry, those extra jolts of panic. Oh, good on you, Universe! This is sarcasm, by the way…

To any fellow IBS sufferer out there, I’ve one word for you: licorice. It’s got to be real licorice, with natural ingredients. Go to a health food/whole foods place; it’s out there. Licorice is one of those natural gas easers. It will NOT stop your IBS attack, but it will allow you to belch really, really (REALLY) loudly and get out that gas that causes pain. I just sucked licorice for most of the evening, and about 10 minutes after eating a piece I burped so loudly it almost registered as supersonic (little doubt the neighbors heard it; undoubtedly they’ll think it was my brother). Just…keep eating licorice. You’ll feel better. And it’s an easy and cheap remedy for anyone to try.

Meanwhile…

Ah, yes. Here comes on a morning headache. Good Goddess, I’m a mess! In 24 hours this will all be coming to a head as I wait the last bit before my shrink appointment. Can’t plan or think too much about that. Can’t even try to think out the Dutch I need to use. I tear up, my breathing gets ragged, and I feel totally insecure and afraid. So I’ve been distracting myself. But I know full well my subconscious has continued to gnaw on my upcoming appointment, and my body issues are the product of this. I acknowledge that. I acknowledge also that I do not feel particularly stressed in my conscious mind. Distraction works. It’s painfully obvious to me, tho, that my body is fighting it. I am not dealing with the stress, I’m stuffing it down so well I’m not consciously aware of it and it’s coming out physically.

I mean…what do I do? Sit here for the next 27 hours and let myself cry and shake while I think it all through? That doesn’t sound healthy to me. But then, neither is what I’m doing healthy.

Fuck, fuck, fuck. Go away, headache!

Help!

…To add to this mountain, I heard from the director. This Friday, 15:30, here at my place. That knowledge dumps a lot of adrenaline into my system; I can feel it. Went off on sound ideas for a couple of hours with my bro. Talked about organics, how to record what I wanted, sourcing ideas. I can mechanize the voice to the hilt, but in analyzing the great creepiness of my favorite stuff, I realized it’s the organics that make my skin crawl. And I want people to be afraid. Very afraid (about as afraid as I am most days). Ach! We’ll be hopping between our studio equipment and computers, layering and cutting sounds, and then compressing the hell out of everything. I’m happy to find my bro excited about the idea. If he was nonplussed, I wouldn’t feel so positive about it. But with the master producer and engineer on board, I know the sound will be great. And, hopefully, we can use much of what we create in the planned podcast.

I’m so committed to this/these stories that I’m amazing myself. My head is focused continually on the story line, the ways I could change it, the ongoing and side stories that could be written off my original work. I am ready to serialize this shit. Anyone of the three parts that make up the trilogy could have numerous sequels (so many I could really sell out and sign a contract for 20 or more sequels). It’s part of what I’m excited about: creating a perfect, unending loop. The only line indicating where to stop is when the audience stops coming to see the shows.

And whereas I feel slightly concerned over the idea of me immersing myself into this circular, horrific tale for years to come, I must admit it’s a great place to store my fear. I could literally write everything that terrifies me into this tale. This aspect is so concentrated in this work that I feel I could even do silent versions of it and still convey the terror and fear I want (great idea for some film shorts, that; keep it in mind).

…*sigh* Maybe that’s the point. It’s my dump ground. Maybe I should let myself go. Explore some of those side stories. It would keep me on point with the project overall, yet give me something to do and, well…dump into.

I’d like a new camera. The vid cam I’ve used in the past is a rinky-dink affair and cost less than 100 euro when I bought it. I’d like something a step up. Even if I’ve got to borrow it…

Hm. Time to send out feelers. Anyone own a camera I could use? Yep.

But first: write. Plan. Turn this nervous energy into something positive.

lololol! Literally, and metaphorically: take a dump.

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.

Lay it out

I didn’t ask. I laid it all out. I’ve been wanting new music for years now, and I searched online… The new CD is still expensive, but I can pick up their first for only ten euro, and I like some of the songs on that album, so I’m gonna get that. On a whim, I added: And if I happen to smell something good as I walk around, I give myself permission to buy something for a couple of euro and eat it, too. My brother: ‘Hell yeah! Here! Take this extra money for food. Go and have some fun.’

Yeah. There it was, me laying out every reason, every line of thought and justification for going out and spending money on myself, and my bro totally onboard, totally supportive, totally knowing how difficult something like that is for me.

I prepped. Ventured out. Walked among people. Looked at things. Sadly, I didn’t find what I wanted and, being Sunday, I wasn’t sure the shops downtown would be open, so I called it and came home. I picked up a meal snack and a cake snack downstairs to console myself.

So, things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to. Kind of the opposite; everywhere I went I ran into crowds of people and long lines. Kept my cool – if you don’t count rolling my eyes at the delays. For me, that’s a win. No muttering darkly from my far spot in the queue, no face of thunder as I clomped around. Nope. Casual walk, relaxed face. Just the eye roll – which was justified at the supermarket when I popped into the shortest line in the store to purchase my two items and ended up waiting 5 minutes while a guy two people ahead of me argued some charge on his receipt with the cashier. I just stood there, knowing that Murphy’s Law would kick in if I dared to move to another queue. That’s just a fact of life for me; sometimes, the Universe makes sure I get delayed somehow and no matter what I do, I’ll be delayed. I’ve found in the long run it’s just best to accept it and go with it. Supermarket queues are the pièce de résistance of such a fact. …I believe I could, conceivably, be caught in supermarket queues for the rest of eternity if I tried hopping between them.

Dreamt the other day of blood in my mouth. Just…spitting out a lot of blood. It was gross. Experienced the second bloody nose of my life yesterday. Again, just a lot of blood and again, it was gross. Not thrilled about the dream nor the bloody nose. Not thrilled they had to fall on the heels of each other: dream of red blood, experience red blood. Kind of like a double whammy.

My head is beginning to gnaw on my upcoming psych appointment. This Thursday. Doing what I can to calm and distract myself. Allowing myself to think, if that’s what it seems I need to do. Trying to keep all my imaginings in Dutch, but that’s difficult because I just don’t have a full vocabulary in Dutch. It’s about half and half right now. I think I’d like it if my doc knew enough English that I could speak half and half. Some words in English are best avoided. I can state things much more calmly in Dutch than in English. But…like I said, I don’t have a full vocab yet, so I must resort to English for some ideas. A part of me has decided to treat this like a homework assignment, and write everything out in Dutch. My ‘why are you here’ answer, which is bound to come up. My short and edited version of what I think my main problems are. How people keep telling me I’m different, immature, child-like. The anger. The frustration. The fritzes. Most importantly, tho, I want ground rules. Been thinking about those a lot. What I need to feel safe and okay.

First up: I swear. I cuss. I use expletives. While I am perfectly capable of curbing my ‘sailor’s mouth’ in company, I do find the need to burst out with bad language now and then; it’s warranted in certain situations and while discussing certain subjects. Know it and deal with it. Second: I really don’t want to discuss my sexuality. I don’t adhere to the idea that sex is the pinnacle of existence. When I drank, I had a lot of sex. When I stopped drinking, I stopped being so sexually active. Without the influence of alcohol, I meet someone I’m sexually attracted to maybe once every ten years. And I don’t want to pursue a sexual relationship for a myriad of reasons. I’m okay with those choices. I need my doctor to be okay with them, too. Third: I need to know I’ll be believed. To that effect, I need my doc to understand I’ll be telling him my truths. Truth is a tricky thing; I’ve said it before. And I know in my bones other people would have versions of their truth if they were here to chime in on these topics. What’s important is my truth, the way I saw it, the decisions I made about the world and myself. Not the lesson that was trying to be imparted, not the intentions of the other people involved. I’m aware of those other facets of existence, but none of that negates my truth. Fourth: no access to my blog. I’ll print things up, I’ll ping him PDFs, but he does not (ever!) get this address. It’s my secret, my safety blanket, that teddy bear I hold at night to feel warm and secure. No one’s ruining that for me. Fifth: He must know I’m a chronic people pleaser, which is the main reason I feel talk therapy will never work for me. I will always give the answers I think my therapist wants to hear. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to sit across from a person and get the hint that they want me to say something along the lines of this or that because I’ll do it whether or not I consciously want to.

This is the time to say those things I’ve always been afraid of saying. This is the time to take that risk.

A different ‘him’ today, but just as valid: tell him.

Lay it out.

Tell him

Somedays I’m in danger of allowing this blog to become a thing in my mind. Almost didn’t post because I said to myself ‘well, you didn’t do much; maybe you should take a break ’til you give your readers something to read’.

*ahem* This is for you and no one else. You do not advertise, you do not give out this address, you do not link, you do not push, you don’t do any of those things. This is for you. If people happen to read it, that’s their business. Stop worrying about how other people feel and take care of yourself. That’s why you started this. That’s why you’re out here almost every day. Not for them. For you. Only you.

Right.

So…was irritated yesterday beyond belief for a few hours after my bro came home. I’d spent five hours mega-cleaning the house and exhausted myself. I was so tired I didn’t have the energy to take the now full garbage bag downstairs to the trash. Instead, I took a hot shower and washed the day’s work and dust off me. My brother noticed the bag in the hall when he came home and said he’d take it down “since you’re so tired from whatever it is you did”. Whatever it is you did?!? Wait. I had to clean the hoover bag out twice from all the dust I picked up. There used to be a stack of DVDs by the tv over 30cm high that is now gone and all the DVDs are put away. There used to be scraps of paper, things left everywhere – it’s all tidied up now. And he says ‘whatever it is you did’ to me?

Goddess!! Sometimes my brother can be such a man. Such a guy. Such a dude. Such a how do you even manage to stay upright on two feet type of person. I swear he needs glasses ’cause he just doesn’t seem to ever see the layer of dust or crap around the place!

I let it irritate me for most of the evening. Just…wasn’t quite there in spirit, you know? My bro laughed at the tv programs; I sat there largely unsmiling. Realized it was a perfect little example of what goes on with me: something is said or done that hurts or irritates me, I say nothing, I end up not enjoying my time because I can’t stop thinking about why I’m hurt or irritated. So I took a look at that.

My first reaction was: say nothing. Let’s see how long it takes him to say something about the DVDs. My brain wagered me that it would be at least two weeks; my spirit upped the anti by claiming it would take him at least a month. While my brain and my spirit argued, I paid attention. I had two sides of me squabbling, raising my blood pressure and anger with everything they said, and I simply stepped in and quietly asked, ‘What is it you want?’

That stopped everything. The rolling comments that were winding me up, the anger, the back and forth arguing that got me nowhere.

I admitted to myself I wanted acknowledgement for my hard work. I’d done a great job and wanted someone to notice. Since my bro’s the only person who’s here to notice, the job falls to him – whether or not that’s fair. So that same calm and quiet voice in me then asked ‘And if you let it go and wait for him to notice, are you going to get what you want?’ Those arguing voices of brain and spirit sounded like reticent schoolchildren: ‘No-o-o-o….’

The answer became clear. I had to point it out to him. I feel like I shouldn’t need to do that. I feel like anyone who’d see the before and after would have enough perception to notice a lot of hard work had been put in on cleaning. But I also had to acknowledge that, love my brother as I may, he’s a product of poor upbringing as well as I. Some of his communication habits are very destructive. I can’t expect him to be perfect all the time. But he has this bad habit of throwing blame. Some of it is simply the words he chooses to use; quite often if I have him break it down, his meaning isn’t as mean as I’m taking it to be. Still…knowing I am someone who takes too much blame onto herself, this verbal habit of never acknowledging one’s own responsibility in a situation is trying. I feel blamed, whether or not he means to do it. And I’ve got to fight against that feeling every damned minute. I’ve yet to teach him better communication skills. …Well, I say that, but truth is I probably have. We communicate better now than we did thirty years ago. Still! There’s plenty of work to be done.

So I pointed. I spoke up. Oh! he said. Where’d the DVDs go? I pointed out that I’d inserted them into our collection in the appropriate sections: action, comedy, horror, kids. Then: And what about the DVDs you took out to make room for the new ones? Am I gonna have to look for something I want to watch now? No, I told him. I only removed the DVDs we’d both watched and both agreed were sub-par films and maybe we should give them to a charity shop. Once his concerns were addressed, I received the acknowledgement I wanted and went to bed feeling better. But his reaction to this bears scrutiny; his first thought was to ‘what did you do wrong’ rather than ‘good on you’. This is…typical. Sadly. I’ve learned to hear beyond his words because we’ve had innumerable arguments over poor communication in the past. I know, tho, that part of me cringes every time it happens. I’d do better with a different approach from him.

Nonetheless.

Good on you, girl! Double good on you! You worked hard and asked for what you wanted. You weren’t even bitchy about it.

Now, go and do something nice for yourself today. This is me, your superior, giving you an order. Do it. Find that CD you want. See if you can buy it.

And don’t ask your brother if you can do this. Tell him.

Always first an artist

For the first time in many years, I’m in love with a new song. It used to happen a lot when I was younger. Music was life for me in many ways. But as musical tastes changed I found it happening less and less. I didn’t like the EQ’s of new music. I didn’t like the instrumentation of new music. I didn’t like the chordal arrangements, the vocalizations, the words. I tried to like something. Anything. But it just never hit the G spot for me. Been spending quiet time with the radio on, most of it blending into that meh of pop muzik that I detest. Then the above song came on.

Different sound, different EQ, different chordal progression…

And the words.

*sigh* I like the song so much it gets me past that horrible keyboard sound in the lead section…

Attitude. A bit of dirt on that bass and guitar. A bit of slop in the manner of performance. Now I know what happened to rock. Thought it all got dissolved into R&B trills and hip-hop raps.

Oh, Goddess! There’s still life out there…

So. I know what I’m splurging on. This week. Gotta find the CD; I want the real, full sound files. Gotta find a bit of cash for it, too. Hope it’s in the 15 euro range rather than the 30 euro range.

Wake up, youngster. There’s still music being made out there that you’ll like. There’s still stuff going on you want to be a part of. And yes, there’s still life out there…

…No, I don’t want to get into the heavy psychological examination of why I’m in love with a song titled ‘Sorry’. I think it’s all rather obvious, don’t you? I’d rather focus on my joy over finding a sound I like. The neighbors are in danger of hearing that CD blasted at full volume for days on end once I get my hands on it. Hope they like it, too.

I find it odd how often I’m lead back to my childhood. Like I keep finding little scraps of myself that got cut off somewhere along the road. Oh, yeah. I remember feeling that way. I remember that joy, the sense of my entire spirit being filled with light and beauty. Why did I stop doing that? Why did I stop myself from enjoying that? My suspicion is that I’ve been punishing myself. Telling myself I don’t even deserve that feeling, and taking it away from myself.

Maybe all this childhood memory crap is a good thing. Maybe it means I’m finally forgiving myself.

…That’s…difficult to ponder. Makes me want to cry for all those wasted fucking years, but that gets me nowhere. I’d rather accept it all in one swallow: the good and the bad of it. The bad of it is that I’ve cut myself off from the world for a long time. The good of it is I’ve given myself time to think, time to sort, time to develop outside the influence of out there. The bad of it is I’ve beaten myself up and made myself feel awful. The good of it is I’ve learned so very much, and that’s enriched my writing, my mind, and my life.

I am proud of what I do these days. No hidden qualms, no thinking something isn’t quite right with my work but I can’t put my finger on it. I am confident, assured of my writing. I don’t claim to be perfect, and between typos, my Midwestern upbringing and poor grammatical understanding I never am. There’s always something to correct in my writing. I’ve become okay with that because I know that’s essentially just fluff. The core is good. The core is strong. If once out of every 5000 words I’ve got a typo or grammatical mistake, I’m not that bothered by it. It’s the development of the idea that I’m concerned about. The strength of the story, the lack of plot holes, the ability to drive an audience the way I want. Yes. Now there, I shine. I know it, and I’m not gonna dither around. This is my strength: good plots, good development. I have full rights to feel proud of myself on that note.

That’s good. A foundation to build on. My brother’s always telling me to think about the foundation. Turn weaknesses into strengths. If my bro had a life motto, I think it would be “Know Thyself”. He’s had to; he struggled for 50 odd years with undiagnosed autism and ADHD. He’s taught me to learn to accept what I can and can’t do, and work with it. I’m still new at it, still struggling with the whole acceptance thing. But I am finding reasons to be proud, things to enjoy, alternative paths I hadn’t considered earlier…

Maybe I’m defective. Or maybe I’m dumb.

…But sorry? Truthfully, no. Not in the long run. I know – as I’ve always known – that every step along the way leads me to where I stand now. I knew back when I was 20 what I was doing, what I was allowing myself to step into: that world, that dirt. I knew when I was 30 that my decision not to use my degree and suck up to some middle management toadie would result in certain circumstances. I knew. I always knew. I knew the chances I was taking.

But I won’t blame myself for it. I did what I did. I learned. I grew. Maybe I grew crookedly rather than straight, but who’s to say the twisted trunk of a tree isn’t just as lovely as a razor straight trunk? In truth, isn’t the twisted trunk a more beautiful thing? Doesn’t it scream out to you in its visual representation(s) of pain, the action of time, the determination to persevere?

…I know myself well enough to know this: if I had done everything differently, if I had taken a job and done the marriage/kids/house thing, I’d still be struggling right now. I’d still be in crisis, only it would be from the other side of it. That, above all, is what I’ve always known. I had to choose between the artist in me and what society called ‘successful’.

I am always first an artist.

The harder I try, the faster I go

Where is my baseline? When I’m depressed, I think ‘yep, this is where I normally live’, but when I’m manic I think ‘yep, this is where I’m meant to live’ and honestly, I just don’t know. I don’t know I know what it’s like to be happy or excited without being manic. I don’t know I know what it’s like to be sad or blue without being depressed. I don’t know that I’ve spent one minute of my life in a “normal” human mode without an extreme taking over.

My fears and frustrations did what they always end up doing to me: they pushed me into action. In the last 48 hours I’ve designed and prepped a flyer for my play; designed and prepped a teaser video for said play; brainstormed on marketing and advertising strategies (three pages worth); searched in English and Dutch for venues, bloggers, and anything remotely connected with theatre and the arts; and brainstormed, researched, and decided upon a tag line for the entire production. That’s in addition to reading several chapters in my book, writing three pages of narrative in Dutch, finishing my homework, getting to the gym, and keeping up on the housework.

Just a little manic (and yes, that’s sarcastic, I’m out in the fucking stratosphere, people).

In some ways, this is just my life. My pattern is to think for a long time. It looks like I’m doing jack shit, but in truth I’m working my ass off contemplating whatever it is I’ve got in my sights. When I finally do make a move, I’ve thought it out so completely that it goes at lightening speed. The flyer I designed was a perfect example: thought about it for days but the physical process of putting it together took me less than 30 minutes, and that includes searching for and manipulating a copyright free picture to use in the background. Same with the teaser video. Boom, boom, boom – one, two, three – and it’s done. Now both projects must sit on my desktop because neither can be released before I have performance dates and venues. … But, yeah. I’m always in feast or famine mode. It’s the natural of the way I work. Catch me in famine mode and you’ll think I spend my days sitting around on my ass playing games and watching tv. Catch me in feast mode and you’ll think I never sit down nor stop working.

………..

The internet cut me off. Yeah. Even the Universe is flipping telling me to STOP.

Trying to divvy up my time. An hour here, an hour there. Move around and don’t stay with anything too long. It isn’t really working. I’m fighting it, wanting to keep going once I get going. Or I get up and try something else to little effect and return to my obsession. Try this, write that idea down, search that. If I don’t slow down I’ll have all the ‘jobs’ finished before I even talk to the director about the production.

And no matter what I cajole my body into doing, my head stays on topic, never leaving it for long, never ceasing to think of new ideas, new approaches, new considerations. Mentally, I like being here. It is full of hope and energy. I also know it’s a danger point.

Food is never far from my thoughts these days. Don’t skip meals. Eat something. Mornings I feel like I have to shove food down my throat. Evenings I feel like I can’t eat enough. Been trying to just go with the flow as best as possible, but working out at the gym or any other afternoon activity throws a wrench into it: go too hard in the afternoon and I drop. Ergo, I need food before I do my afternoon activities. But I then I’m shoving food again, feeling like I’m eating unnecessarily when I’m not hungry. Tried riding out the morning and eating after the gym, which works to an extent. It screws up my dinner time, tho, and I don’t like that. The experience just serves to bring me back to the beginning: gods, I wish I didn’t have to eat at all.

Fucking three dimensional carbon based life forms! What a wet sack of shit we’re all caught in. My body just slows me down. The pain, the need to sleep, to rest, to eat. It disrupts my work, and that irritates me. I do my best to remind myself that this is reality as I know it; the animal is part of me, treat it like a well loved pet rather than an often kicked dog. Gah! It ain’t easy.

Thinking about tackling those big cleaning jobs around the house, the ones I do once every six months or so. It’s time; the place needs it. It would also be something else to keep me occupied and at least physically away from obsessing (and it would allow me ample time to just think about things). That’s hardly ‘rustig’, tho. My best bet is to try reading again, tho lately I’m so squirrelly I have a difficult time sitting even for that.

I can feel my routine break down. See it, even. I was so stable for so long. Get up, eat oatmeal, exercise, Dutch, afternoon writing, evening tv, sleep. Now, it’s all out the window. Can’t eat in the mornings, exercise is a vague maybe, Dutch homework is still a drag tho reading has become a joy, my only writing is my obsessive marketing information collection, evening tv is on but largely unwatched because I’m fucking obsessed and only thinking of my work, and sleep is a toss and turn and check the clock to see if I can get up and start again.

I’ve been here before. I know what this is.

And the harder I try to slow down, the faster I go…

Be open to it

I can’t figure people out. Not until time has passed and I’ve been able to review over and over what went down. I dislike that aspect of me; it makes me feel inordinately dumb. Why can’t I understand what’s happening while it’s happening? But, no. My comebacks come to me too late and I am left replaying the incident ad infinitum, wishing I’d said or done things differently.

Woke up thinking of my play. My head was obviously reviewing Sunday’s get together with the group. All those disparate parts came together – the two players who said they weren’t going to act this season, the cool reception I received on my work, the lack of enthusiasm or even the follow through on the commitment of coming to the read through, and the situation I walked in on two years ago with the poor group of actors and the director who walked out… I realized the group may allow me to use their name and their director, but the group may very well have nothing to do with this. I think I’m smacking my face against some good, old snobbery. I think most of the group will not participate or even audition for my play; they will feel it beneath their dignity. They will not take the chance on a newbie playwright unless said playwright has some medals or awards behind their name. They’ll smile, say ‘sure, we can do that’, but in the end they’ll all have excuses about why they can’t be in the play, how busy they are, etc., and it will fall to walk-in actors like I had at the read through.

Maybe I’m all off on this but…my spidey sense is tingling. It’s been going off since Sunday, despite the pleasantries. Just a few too many silences, too much eye contact avoidance, too little enthusiasm. Can’t help but wonder if this is what happened when I first joined the group. They had a second director, one who also wrote scripts. The first production I worked on was one such written by him (a dismal play, poorly written, horrible in almost every way). It didn’t escape my notice then that the ‘core group’ largely didn’t participate in the acting. I was never give any reason for that, but could it have been they were unwilling to do something that wasn’t sent via a publisher? I can’t totally rule out the idea that they all thought the script was crap and didn’t want to be in it, tho why they’d approve the script if they thought it was crap is beyond me. *sigh* Considering some of the other stuff I’ve seen and heard from them, I wouldn’t be surprised if plain old snobbery were at work.

That director/writer left the group and is now in Den Haag working with a different set of people.

I find this whole idea doubling upsetting because I wrote the trilogy and tailored it for them. Wrote characters thinking of particular actors in mind. Wrote the story, the settings, the needs with the venues I’d seen, the abilities I’d witnessed, the resources I knew the group had at hand. To have it dissed out of hand, when most haven’t even taken the time to read my words… The prospect is disheartening.

But it isn’t something that’s going to stop me.

I’ve worked with less and done more. To hell with their procedures, to hell with what “they normally do” – I’ve seen their average audience size, and what they normally do doesn’t cut it. I will work my magic for my production. If the results are such that everyone wants me to do it for them and their upcoming plays…well, then I’ll have real bargaining power, won’t I?

Began honing ideas. Roughed out a flyer for advertising. Outlined an ad video I want to make and put online to hype the performances. I’ve already scoured the internet for must invite names: artistic directors of bigger theatres that do English productions, reviewers, journalists. I will look at radio, public television, and internet vloggers and podcasts. I know how to market on a shoestring. I know about product placement, tag lines, what’s kitschy and what’s catchy.

The goal is to give my work as much chance of success as I can without killing myself.

That means taking control of some of these loosely performed aspects of the group. They’re all teachers at the school of business, but none really know about marketing. That much is obvious when they can’t fill an 80 seat theatre. Every production, they have flyers and posters printed. Where they put up the posters in this city, I don’t know. Never saw one up. Never found a place to put one, either – there are restrictions almost everywhere. Flyers are easily overlooked and most just end up in the trash bin. I’m not opposed to flyers, but…cut the size down, and rather than putting stacks of them at drop points, take a few afternoons and head down to the neighborhoods surrounding the theatre and put them in people’s mail slots. Chances are much higher they’ll at least be glanced at. Maybe you’ll only snag 1 out of 100 that way, but that’s one more than we’ve got now.

…This means, of course, that I’ve largely mapped out this year’s activity. I’m booked; don’t ask me to do more (and let’s stick to that!).

Well…good. Lateral thinking helps me. I like the full aspect of projects like this: take it start to finish (with help). Help is the area I’ve largely been lacking in past projects. One look at my vids would tell you that: written by me, directed by me, starring me, edited by me… I got so tired of it I filled in all those jobs with my pseudonyms just to make it look like I wasn’t an ego-centric mad old woman.

And…you know what they say about help; it comes from unexpected quarters.

Remember to be open to it.

Free

Out of jail. That’s how my head feels: I’m out of jail. Finally.

This delightful feeling of lightness comes from another notch in my understanding of Dutch. They said reading would help. I didn’t believe them as I slogged through text after text, never enjoying it, always feeling like it was homework because there were just too many words I didn’t know. Yesterday I reaped the benefits of my hard work. Every word from my instructors was crystal clear. I heard the ‘-ie-‘ used for ‘hij’ after a verb that ended in T. I heard ‘raad’ (guess) and knew what the meaning was. I heard ‘ingewikkeld’ (complicated) and caught on right away. I heard ‘om’ and ‘toe’ and ‘maar’ and ‘al’ – those pesky words that flash by in a blink with native speakers. I was so excited I just sat there vibrating with joy and excitement. I didn’t just follow the gist of the conversation, I got every word.

My teachers took my suggestions to heart. Thank you, thank you, thank you! We spent the day going over prepositions. Not just over or under, which are the baby prepositions you learn with A,B,C, but those larger prepositions that can get split in a sentence. I was not the only one excited by the lesson; everyone seemed to respond that way. We were more jovial, more verbal, there were more questions, more examples, and when we broke for coffee midway we ended up sitting around a table together and continuing to discuss prepositions, our lives, and the language. We were all so into it, as a matter of fact, that everyone – students and teachers alike – stayed an extra 15 minutes to finish up some reading.

I didn’t want the lesson to end. I didn’t want to take a break. I just wanted to keep hearing the language so clearly. Keep reading, keep learning. I don’t ever remember feeling so fired up, tho I imagine I once felt this way about English.

*sigh* Real satisfied joy. Boy, that’s a great feeling!

Today’s my appointment with Dr D, my GP, about the pain killers. Almost forgot about it with everything else. It’s small potatoes now, and I wonder why I ever thought it was a big deal. Go in, have my say, head out. No big whoop.

Yesterday was the first day I truly felt back to full health. No hunger pains or problems from almost starving myself. No headaches or jaw aches, no toilet problems or sleep problems. I had energy, I was alert, and I felt good physically and mentally. Happy I’ll be able to say all that to my doc. Worry was becoming a constant companion to me. Who’d a thunk my biggest problem was food? Not me, certainly. I have an almost non-stop litany of ‘you’re so fat’ going in my head. So I skip meals, cut back on what I eat, and never feel like I’m really doing enough. But I’m not 15, or 25. My body can’t do this any more, as evidenced by the migraines and other accompanying pain I experienced. And I shouldn’t feel like I need to ask it to do this.

It’s time to tackle my body issues. Among other things.

…Well, at least I’ll be doing it on a full stomach, for Pete’s sake…

Sent out some emails expecting them to be answered quickly. Naturally, they aren’t. One was to the director asking about meeting this week to go over the script. Hope my messages didn’t fall into a black hole. Again. There are black holes in cyber-space, and there are servers and areas where emails typically go missing. I’ve had it happen to me before. Best to give it a few days. Every time I follow up fast, thinking my message has gone missing, all I end up doing is annoying the other person because yes, they actually did get my first message and they’re just not as fast on response as I want them to be.

Can’t…slow…down…

Thinking I might head to the gym after my doc’s visit. I feel good enough to go and get a walk in. Yippee! That’s real progress. Trying to not dwell on how long I’ve been off my routine, or how long it will take me to get back to where I was physically. The goal is simply to get some movement. I still want to break 5km in 30 minutes, but I’m not ready to even get back on the cross trainer quite yet. I’ve been real good on taking care of myself, being gentle with myself. Getting on the cross trainer at this venture…oh, that’s asking me to push too hard and hurt myself. Nope. Won’t even give myself the opportunity.

I’ve very aware how close I am to tipping into full blown mania again. I’m too excited and excitable, too easily wound up, too easily thrown off from my normal sleeping and eating patterns. Nine days before my first psychiatrist appointment, and I hardly expect to be given a prescription after my first visit, so the number one rule is (as it’s been for quite some time now): take care of myself. Don’t judge what that looks like, just do what it takes. I cannot afford another three months down because of TMJ. I do not want more pain. I do not want to take more pain pills. And I have firm commitments coming up, goals to achieve. I need to be in good health to do all these things.

Prisons come in all shapes and sizes. My prison… I was going to say it was ‘all in my head’, which technically it is, but I don’t want to feel discounted by my own words. My prison was is was (which is the correct verb?) very real. A prison of anxiety and fear, self doubt and self hate. I walled myself off years ago to protect myself, never fully realizing how much I would cut myself off in the process.

Those walls are coming down. The language barrier is coming down.

And I’m free.

And so are you

Yesterday’s get together with the theatre group went well. I felt unsure of myself, a little stiff at first seeing everyone again after months of being apart. But I was welcomed in typical Dutch fashion: kiss, kiss, kiss, first to the left then the right then back to the left and given big hugs. How little these people understand that these simple social graces make all the difference in the world to me. I worked to put my best foot forward: ask, listen, smile, participate, be there. Don’t go too deep into anything, don’t talk at length about my pain or problems, don’t crow about the film group or the premiere. I had a long list of what to do and what not to do as I walked in. I kept to it, and had a pleasant exchange. From time to time I wondered if others had a list like mine, those subjects you don’t bring up in casual company, those things you don’t talk about in order to make sure no one feels bad. Doubtful. I heard a bit of crowing. Well, more than a bit. But I recognized the corner it came from, and didn’t rise to the bait. I felt comfortable with my accomplishments over the break: the film, my writing. When asked about the film, I made two or three glowing comments about the crew and a self-depreciating joke about my body issues and seeing myself on ‘the big screen’. Got a laugh, and left it at that.

Left the question about my script ’til the very end, when things were winding down. The answer I received…well. The board member I directed my question to lifted his eyebrow and looked pointedly at the director. The director said ‘I’d like to do it’ and that was apparently that. The director said we need to meet and discuss the script and how we might be able to get it on stage. Hoping we can do that this week right here in my home so my bro can also sit in on it for the sound production.

But…honestly, it was the least enthusiastic affirmative I think I’ve ever received. I know the director likes it; he’s told me he thinks it’s very akin to Lovecraft (a writer he admires and enjoys), so I’ve no qualms there. The rest of the group, though…especially the board member, who was at the reading…totally flat. No interested smile, no sitting up a bit straighter as we talked because the idea just energized them that much, nothing. They were closer to a bunch of Sunday stoners to whom I’d just suggested we leave the house to get some munchies. ‘Yeah…that might be cool…’ as they sat there unmoving, eyes glued to the tv. Gee. I saw more interest in that crap play we just watched, and it WAS a crap play.

So, it seems I’ve got the go-ahead. But I don’t feel secure. I don’t feel it’s cause for celebration. Getting my first real script produced should be cause for celebration, right? No matter how rinky dink the group doing it. It’s acknowledgement, something I’ve craved for forever. But…I don’t even feel sure enough about this to actually claim my script will be done. I feel like at any moment I might hear ‘we can’t do it’ and that will be the end of it.

Maybe, just maybe, I owe the group a thanks for NOT being all excited. It was difficult enough for me to settle after I got home; just being in the presence of other people winds me up with excitement. If they’d been clamoring over my script, hyped on the idea of doing it…I might not have been able to sleep at all last night. Okay. Thanks, group, for your luke-warm response. I didn’t spaz out into a full blown manic episode (tho I did wake up with a headache). Still. I find it difficult to deal with, like the group collectively said ‘Go on, be excited about this if you want to but understand it’s you being excited about it, not us’. Didn’t help that on the heel of my question, one of the actors announced he wouldn’t be participating on stage this year, too busy, too whatever, but he’d put together the flyer for it. That makes two of our core group who won’t be on stage this autumn. And I need 9 actors for the script as it stands. Color me a little worried. I’ve seen the type of ‘actor’ that typically comes cold to one of our meetings or auditions. It’s not good.

Shuffling through a lot of thoughts. First, just get it produced. You’ve said it can be done by a group of not so great talent because the story is that good. Stand by that. Second, actor quality is a concern of the director, not you, so let that go. He’s made poorer plays with bad actors come off okay, so trust him. Third, this is not your only option. This story is too big to contain, and you know it. The podcast will go through, no matter what happens on stage. And you can always present it to your film group and work on it from that side.

Listen here, missy: you might be doing incarnations of this script for years to come. And you’re well aware of that. How many crappy LLR attempts were done before the big release? Loads. How many shitty Spider Man films got canned because they were just too cheesy? Even more. You know this. Let. it. go.

Let it live on its own. It’s good enough. Strong enough. And so are you.