Pearls before swine

I’ll start with this morning, ’cause it’s in my face.

Another uncle comment. This time, it’s a ‘You need some coffee’ with a Google link to coffee houses (NOT coffeeshops) in Amsterdam after I called him out on NOT being funny and NOT making a joke. Here’s my reply:

What does my caffeine level have to do with our discussion? And why are you trying to change the subject and blame me for your poor “joke”? A joke is supposed to be amusing – yet your original statement, “I won’t be in that area then” isn’t amusing, it’s simply a fact. There’s no cause for laughter. No cause unless you feel uncomfortable for some reason. Shifting attention to my caffeine intake is simply a distraction from your discomfort. Why are you uncomfortable? ..Plus, get it right. I live in Rotterdam, not Amsterdam.

I’m proud of my reply. Called him out on it. Kept my cool. Even left with a little jab about him getting the city wrong. Ha fucking ha, uncle. Are you laughing now? I’m particularly proud over pointing out his discomfort (several times) and calling him out on his attempt to distract and blame me.

You wanna play games? With words? You DO know I’m a wordsmyth, right? Plus, I was taught by your sister – my mother. Your OLDER sister. The woman who knew every game you ever played and one upped you continually.

You ain’t gonna win.

I said I fucking had it with this shit.

…NEWS ALERT: Just had a notification from FB. An instantaneous reply from my uncle. DAMN! I really got him. Here’s his reply (including the typos; he was obviously in a hurry to say what he needed to say): “I was hoping some caffeine would wake you up and you would see my joke…;.clearly you have seen my joke all along. And….I won’t br in Rotterdam to see the show either.” Oh, I’ll continue with this charade. If it winds him up so much he’s got to reply the moment he reads what I say, I’ll continue.

Give him a little tit for tat. Generally I’m against that type of behavior, but some people just don’t learn!

Onto happier things.

Three point seven kilometers in thirty minutes. Wanted to write that out, because it deserves that much respect. That’s topping 7 km an hour on the cross trainer. And I felt flipping tired. Have the last several times I’ve gone to the gym. But I keep amazing myself, pushing more and running faster than I ever imagined I could. I believe soon to be 52 year old me could easily lap 22 year old me. Upped repetitions on my arms. That’s difficult, and I have to stop often and take a break. Still hate doing my abdominal exercises, but I might be ready to add a few more crunches to my routine. Walking is, as always, the easiest – though I’ve got to confess I feel awful slow walking at 5km an hour after running on the cross trainer. Find myself wanting to pick up the speed on the treadmill. Haven’t, yet.

Feeling strong in my body, my mind, and my soul. A bit unshakeable. Like I’m suddenly too together for anyone (including my uncle) to get under my skin. I like this. If this is the level other people operate at, I can see why they don’t understand when I fall apart. Doesn’t give them license to be assholes about it, but I get why they might not fully understand why someone like me struggles so much. It’s easy to let things slide off your back when you’re here. World trouble? Yeah, always is. Emotional turmoil? Yeah, it’s a pain, but what are ya gonna do? Financial trouble? It’ll sort itself out somehow. All those pat answers spewed ad infinitum via memes suddenly make sense.

I blame the endorphins. I’m getting a regular blast of them when exercising. And let’s face it: they say ‘peptide’ and ‘hormone’, but in reality they should say ‘drug’. It’s an all natural drug, I’ll give you – but it’s a drug. You get a drug response, it’s addictive, you need more to keep getting off – it’s a drug. More: it’s a drug I like. So I keep pushing to get it. Now…doctors get very pleased when they hear about an exercise regime. Oh, good! You’re getting regular exercise, toning your body, and losing weight. What could be better? No one acknowledges the drug interaction in your brain, unless it’s to say something like ‘well, exercise is GOOD for emotional turmoil’. Why is it that a drug naturally produced in our bodies is better or good, while drugs we take are bad and evil? I just don’t get that. It’s a drug, either way.

Blanket fucking statements. They ruin the damned world.

Today, I work. A few errands to run, and I plan on using the travel time on the metro to read Dutch. Then it’s time to tear into Taman. Make those changes I keep talking about. Start arranging a read through. Want to read through the play I’m doing, too. Keep my lines fresh over this break. And I need to call for an adjustment to my shoes (more Dutch; ugh!).

First, though, I will fashion a reply to my uncle. He doesn’t get the last word on my page. Even if that means this discussion goes on for another year, back and forth. And I know what I’m doing. I’m staying coolly disconnected. I know the necklace is tearing, and the mud is thick.

I know I’m casting pearls before swine.

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Yes, it is

Two weeks from Saturday is our last performance of the play. So I checked. Did a Google search – even setting the search parameters to the name of the play and the name of the group. Found a couple of notices on page one…in Dutch…for the first two performance dates. Nothing for our upcoming show.

It AMAZES me how all these business school teachers (who all say ‘yeah, yeah, we know all about marketing’) fall off the bus when it comes to actually doing any marketing work.

And maybe the director doesn’t want the group too big… He said that during the last performance. Doesn’t want the group too big, doesn’t want things to get out of control, doesn’t want to step aside to allow other people to do things with the group. Okay. I get that. But we at LEAST want to break even, right?

I sure as hell don’t want to continue ponying up money for the privilege of performing.

Found the group’s write-up about the play in English on their FB page (had to HUNT for it). It was half a press release – all teaser info but no facts. So I did what I do: I fixed it. Added in the missing data. Corrected some clunky English. And found half a dozen online Rotterdam agenda sites that’ll publish the info for free. Spent half an hour on the headline… The play isn’t well known enough to push that as the opener. The playwright isn’t well known enough to push that aspect. The group isn’t well known enough to carry the headline. In the end, I choose ‘English Comedy in Rotterdam’ because I’m posting to English language sites targeting ex-pats and I figured those four words were the most important in the entire thing. It’s in Rotterdam, it’s comedy, and it’s in English. The info is already sent to two places, and I’ll tackle the remaining sites after my language class.

Had a real surprise yesterday at the gym. Went in for my second day in a row (yet another attempt to raise my activity level). Saw, out of the corner of my eye, a woman watching me while I stretched and warmed up. Sure enough, she came over and began talking with me.

Surprising enough to me that I slipped into Dutch like a comfortable shoe. Didn’t even bother with my traditional ‘my Dutch isn’t very good’ line – she got that from my stilted use of the language. But we communicated (she spoke very clearly). Talked, even! She asked me about the exercises I was doing. Did I make them up, or did I learn them somewhere? A bit of both, I told her. Then she asked if I knew of any exercises that were good for a person’s balance. I actually had the audacity to question her – is it your hips? I asked, remembering the word for ‘hips’. Yes, she told me. Ah! We’ve the same problem. Do you go to the physiotherapist? Yes, but she doesn’t like him and he’s not doing her any good. How about these exercises? I asked, showing her the three golden rule exercises my physiotherapist gave me. Never saw them before. I walked her through them, told her to do them every night. When are you here? she asked me. I want to come back and exercise with you.

Wow. Seriously? This hip heavy old woman? You look at me and think ‘yeah, she’s got it together’? Don’t get me wrong – I’m pleased as punch. Pleased to have an opportunity to get to know someone, pleased to pass along what knowledge I do have about staying in shape, pleased someone thought that much of me. I’m just really, really surprised.

What I’m NOT thrilled about is the idea I’ll be opening up my head space during exercise time. Exercise time is a very inner thing for me. I’ve got the best drill sergeant I know under my skull, and all I need is her egging me on and really loud, fast music in my iPod. If I’m helping someone else, though, I won’t be able to lose myself in loud music. I’ll need to talk, be present…which will be DAMNED difficult, because I blast the music and close my eyes so I don’t HAVE to be uber present in my body while it works and sweats.

Saw the woman talk to a few other older women as she left the gym. Oh, nelly. In a few weeks time will I be writing that I’m leading a handful of mature women through some basic stretching and yoga exercises?

As long as they let me be on the cross trainer. That’ll be my one rule. I get on that machine, and no talkie-talkie with me. Let me sweat. I’ll be done in 30, and very pleased to help you then.

Sounds reasonable.

Also, in my searches for websites to post the press release for the theatre group, I stumbled across a call for writers. Writers in English, right here in the Netherlands. It’s all free lance, pay as you go, first come first served on story ideas. But I’m thinking I might give it a go. Even if I only get one or two stories a month, it’s something. A bit of cash to get my hair cut. Maybe I could take my brother out to dinner for once. Pay for my own metro card top up.

And isn’t it nice to get some sort of recognition for your efforts outside of your own head?

Yes. Yes, it is.

Life isn’t like riding a bike

Slothing – proper slothing – is as fun and time consuming as anything else. Is it Sunday already? Yes, Virginia, it’s Sunday already and Monday is barreling towards us.

No homework done. No heavy duty anything done. I did get the dishes done, but that’s my thing: can’t stand a sink full of dirty dishes. Everything else is backed up, from the recycling to the dust bunny corral, which is full to bursting.

My voice is still with me. And my feet didn’t fall off of their own volition. That’s two good things right there.

Began looking at the acting website my partner told me about. All in Dutch, naturally. But he’s right; there are casting calls for fluent English speakers. Of course, most of the female roles are looking for 20 something attractive women. I’m hunting in the “motherly” categories – Goddess! Motherly! The one adjective I’d never use in reference to myself. Oh, well. I guess that’s why they call it ‘acting’.

Pooped. Need to make an appointment for my new orthopedics; another blister point in the heels that needs attention. Need to get to the doc’s for a flu shot. Need to get back to my routine, get back to the gym, get back to writing and sending stuff out.

Beginning to wonder about my death. I’m getting happy lately, and I’ve always had this feeling that I’ll finally achieve happiness, self confidence, and full understanding just before I die. So for me, being happy is a bit of a trigger. I enjoy it; don’t get me wrong. But it does carry its own set of worries. Foolish? Probably. But I am speaking from a lifetime of irony here, and I’ve always felt dying when you’re finally really happy with yourself and your life to be the ultimate irony.

Maybe I should just keep complaining…

How is one supposed to walk the line between your personal life and the outer world? If I focus on world news, I get upset and frustrated. If I focus on my personal life, I can forget the horrors out there and appear callous.

Wish I had more answers. Wish my mother would have thought it important to teach me things like how to deal with my emotions (other than denying them, stuffing them down, or ignoring them). That, apparently, was not as important as teaching me to iron a handkerchief perfectly. So here I am, fifty years later, still griping about my emotional issues and not touching an iron with a fifty foot pole.

Will I ever grow up?

Been wondering about myself. I know I’m smart, but there just seems to be something missing. Something I don’t get. And I don’t know what it is that I’m missing. Am I just a head in the clouds person? Someone kind of ditzy? It’s frustrating. I know I’m different. Unusual. Not like the others. It’s something with other people…understanding their facial expressions, hidden agendas, trust issues…something I can’t quite get a grasp of. And it’s barely there. I fake it well. But I see it, and every once in a while something happens and others see it, too.

Wonder if someday I’ll meet someone who’ll put it all in perspective for me. Like finally telling someone with dyslexia about dyslexia – no, it’s not your fault and yes, it’s a real thing. Oh, you’ve got this, or there’s a touch of that about you. Not a you’re wrong for doing this, or feeling this, or learning this method. Just a oh! Like that lightbulb that finally comes on. Of course, of course. Why didn’t anyone see this earlier? Here; take this pill once every morning and all will be right with the world.

Meantime, I do what most of us do: battle on. Handle the stress and fear as best I can. Get up, get dressed, and get out in the world. Try to be friendly, polite, considerate. Try to not think only of myself. Do my best in each and every situation.

No one ever tells you ‘growing up’ doesn’t stop. It doesn’t stop at 18, or 21. It doesn’t stop at 30, or 40. It just keeps going, relentlessly opening up your mind through experience. For me, it makes me feel small and foolish. Damn! Didn’t I learn that years ago?

Maybe so, but life isn’t like riding a bicycle. It’s not a deep seated motor skill that, once learned, is never forgotten. It’s more like language skills: you can read about a language, even learn TO read it and understand it, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into being able to speak it. And if you don’t use it, you lose it. You get rusty, forget stuff, stumble, make mistakes.

Oh, hell. I never was good at riding a bike…

Thank you, me

Time off is a good thing. It gets you out of your rut, changes things up, adds a bit of excitement to your life. It also screws mightily with your schedule.

After more than a week off from hard exercise, I was a bit worried I’d find myself slow and weak at the gym. While I admit my arms are like a baby’s – more flab than muscle, so they ARE weak – the rest of me was more than up to the test. Took it easy; still have a performance on Friday. But I fell into my run/jog on the cross trainer, falling only a little short of 3.5 km in 30 minutes, without a hiccup. Kept an eye on my heart rate (at my age, I feel that’s a public service more than anything: make sure the old lady doesn’t keel over from a heart attack). 120, 130, 140. Then a push and up to 150. Yes! Seems that’s the magic number for me. The sweat pours out of me and the endorphins must kick in because it – all of it, from the sweat to the burn in my legs – feels good.

*sigh* The full force of my addictive personality really leaves me feeling bummed. But I guess I should pat myself on the back; at least I’ve found an outlet for it.

Today is a physiotherapy visit. Haven’t seen my guy in a while – busy with the play and too poor to pay for a visit. Think I now know how to handle my visits. I can keep a good 8 weeks between appointments as long as I keep active. However – wait; I should say HOWEVER – if I have more than 2 days down due to illness or injury, I need an appointment. All it takes is 2 days for the pain to creep back in. The flip side of that is that all it takes is 2 days of movement to make me feel better. And that’s good…great, in fact. But there are times when 2 days of movement is beyond me. Hence, my need for physiotherapy.

Besides, do I really want to give up an occasional visit to the cutest guy I know?

Nope.

Got through half my Dutch homework. Still have 4 letters to write. Spoke up in class when yet another ‘you’re having a party, write a letter to your friend’ homework task was handed out. Can’t we please do a letter to someone else, about something else? How about a complaint to the electric company? Something like that would be more useful. So I got an extra 2 letters for my outspokenness. Good. I do well with homework, and usually have the time. May I have some more, please?

Something has clicked in my brain with Dutch. Was aware of it last night as I watched tv. I like Dutch tv; they run plenty of English programs with Dutch subtitles. Right from the start, I read the subtitles (or tried to; they go by fast for a beginner reader). Doing that has helped me figure out the meaning of many words, particularly when watching a cartoon or program for younger audiences. I see words repeated, hear words repeated, and pretty soon it becomes evident that this word means thus and so. But some sentences have always confused me. Too many words, too many ‘je je’ or past tense verbs or other things I just don’t understand. Last night, though, it was like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle were slid into place. Suddenly no sentence seemed too much: here’s the subject, the verb, the modifiers, the helping verbs. Instant recognition, even if I saw a word I hadn’t encountered before.

By jove, I think she’s got it!

…My mood has improved. Obviously. That’s two references to favorite childhood films.

Thank you, me, for going to the gym and working so hard. Thank you, me, for sweating and pushing through the wall. Thank you, me, for being so committed to our health that we get to the gym in the first place. Thank you, me, for listening to our concerns, taking them into account, and being careful with our body.

Most of all, thank you, me, for trying so damned hard.

On the road to hell

Watched the death toll and wounded count rise. Saw and heard the vids. Kept checking back, maybe just to make sure it really happened.

Vegas on top of Catalan on top of hurricanes and those everyday bombs that keep getting dropped in the names of “democracy” and “decency”. I’m not sure how much more humans can handle. I lay the blame on the heads of those idiots in charge, those same idiots who’ve always been in charge and who will continue to be in charge long after “voted” officials are gone from office. I lay the blame on guns and gun makers, capitalists who put a buck before humanity, and the vast majority of Americans who feel this is their life and they’ve a right to do whatever the fuck they please while alive.

Well, there you go. NRA fanatics, capitalism, and “freedom” all rolled into one. Multiple auto and/or semi automatic weapons (fuck the official reports; I heard those gunshots and they weren’t from a fucking rifle) at an open air concert in Vegas.

And wow. A full day has gone by without some fucking gun rights idiot claiming that if only someone in the crowd had a gun they could have taken the shooter down. That’s the most common argument put forth by those people: that more guns are safer because if some nut job starts killing people, another law abiding and upright citizen can kill the shooter dead on the spot. Never seems to happen.

What also never seems to happen in a simple acknowledgement of the FACTS. FACT: Europe has less guns and more gun control, and although there are gun related deaths and crimes here, we haven’t seen these mass shootings on the same scale as the US. In fact, we’re not even ON the same scale. The US has one all their own, and gun deaths are listed in the tens of thousands every year.

The Netherlands is shocked if gun deaths surpass several hundred.

And no, don’t bring up the idea that NL is so much smaller than the US and that’s why there aren’t as many gun deaths. That’s bullshit, and you know it. In fact, compare NL’s stats to any state in the US and I think you’ll still find the gun deaths here to be less. Skew it anyway you want; guns kill, and making guns easily accessible makes it easy to kill.

…What I don’t get is why the rest of the world allows a paranoid, gun-toting, bullying minority to rule them.

Gee. Maybe I just answered my own question.

One more thing I’ll risk saying because I think it needs saying: Thank Goddess the shooter was white. Enough color bullshit from the states. Acknowledge you’re discriminatory. Acknowledge your white privilege. Acknowledge you pay women less, think foreigners are dumb, and still treat African Americans like slaves. Exceptions don’t count; you’ve got to talk about the MAJORITY now. Saying ‘we’ve got a black guy on staff’ or ‘there’s a woman on the board now’ only makes it worse. It sounds as if you’re saying ‘Well, we let one of you in. That’s it; we’re done. We’re not racist or sexist anymore, see? We’ve got one of you on our side. He/She will even back us up, because we’ve let them into our club. We’ve given them money and power beyond their reckoning, and they’ve caved in and given up their morals just like we knew they would because everyone does it. Now, go away. We’ve business to attend to, boy/silly woman.’

AAAAARRRRRRRGH!

Ah. And can we talk about free speech? A news exec got the ax after an off-color comment on her personal FB page. Let’s see… You can’t protest in the streets by marching. You can’t protest at work by taking a knee. You can’t protest or even speak your own mind on your social network pages for fear of being fired. So when does this free speech kick in? Btw, I’m NOT defending the comment. Off-color is a very kind euphemism. But when and where in the “Land of the Free” are you supposed to exercise your “right” of free speech?

For many decades, you’ve only been free in the US to talk about the freedom in the US. Let’s not forget the McCarthy years (and if you’ve forgotten, or are too young to know, look it the fuck up). Let’s not forget the wording of the Patriot Act. Let’s not forget Guantanamo Bay. Let’s not forget the burning crosses on people’s front lawns, the public shaming of victims of sexual violence, the physical abuse of the LGBTQ community.

Freedom my ass!

The US likes to make things two sided. You’re for guns, or against guns. Coke or Pepsi. Democrat or Republican. Left or right. Christian or Muslim. Black or white. Man or woman.

There’s far more choice in the world.

There’s far more grey in the world.

If you force your black and white viewpoint on me, then fine. I’ll pick a side. And from where I stand, you’re in the wrong. Or at least, you’re more in the wrong than in the right. I can’t discount the fact that you’re a human being, too. You must have people you care about, things you love. You must experience some sort of emotional connection to the world, even if it’s a small and skewed one. Maybe all you feel is fear and anger. Well, I can relate even to that. Certainly, there have been days – weeks, even – when I’ve felt the world would be a much better place if 95% of the people in it were dead.

Those are my little fantasies. In those fantasies, generally I just wake up and people are gone. Not even the bodies to deal with. Total fantasy, and I realize that.

Today, though… I don’t think that particular fantasy will come up for me. I am in shock over the violence in the world – all over the world.

We are on the road to hell.

Limits

Finally a bit of real rest. Didn’t feel like I slept after opening night; it was a light sleep, at best, with several times coming to and thinking about the matinee performance. I wasn’t alone. Everyone was dragging yesterday.

Flubbed. Missed lines, experienced that wonderful brain fart feeling – which, as I said later, really DID feel like my brain fell down somewhere around my ass leaving my head completely empty… Still got laughs, got through it. Still feel okay, though I know it wasn’t my strongest performance.

Had two people come to see me yesterday. Whoohoo!!! Two people! I wasn’t sure anybody was gonna show up. Felt real good to see them after the show, to have someone I sat with and talked with while everyone else chatted with their friends. Talked so much and so long the lounge emptied around us and we didn’t even notice. The director had to come and get me to help everyone strike the set.

Yea! Friggin’ yea! I know in the grand scheme of things two people aren’t a lot, but it’s good to know I’m not a complete social pariah. I can meet and make friends, be social, and have people HAPPY to come and share in what I do. That feels real good.

Got to talking about my writing, because I’m known by my pen name with these…friends? Can I call them friends? I hope so. Anyway, they know me by my pen name. The name I perform under in the play is different, as is my real name…Beginning to think maybe all these pseudonyms aren’t the best idea. Makes me look a little psycho. At the very minimum, it’s telling as to how much I hate being me. But I digress. Talked about scripts and read throughs. Told them about the Night Witches script. One of them knows some Russians from Russia, and said she’d ask them along. DAMN! Could I get a better sampling for a reading? Don’t think so. Very excited by the prospect. Had to warn her that I wrote it for Americans, so heads up to the Russians: don’t expect a lot; more than half of it is educating the audience. Crossing my fingers they appreciate my approach and like the story.

All this is good, because at the moment I feel very cut off online. My spam filter is working better than ever, but the upshot is I’ve had days go by without anything new showing up in my email. Not sure if an empty inbox is better than an inbox filled with spam. At least with a lot of spam, you know the world thinks of you as alive. You feel remembered…even if it’s just by advertisers.

Barely a clean pot, pan, plate, or spoon in the house. Garbage and recycling have piled up, too. The plants are gasping for water. And the dust bunny population has exploded. Will try to get to the big stuff today and tomorrow without hurting myself.

Language class later. Gotta try this morning to switch into Dutch. Maybe do some reading. Right now my head is all English.

Need to get back to the gym, too. Keep moving, keep that back pain free.

*sigh* Taking care of myself is a full time thing.

Friday I head to Leiden for another performance. Good news is, I have a lift. Bad news is, I’ll be going at noon and having another long, LONG, full day. Those are hard on me.

One day at a time. Lots of daytime appointments this week. Gotta buy new false eyelashes (found the limits on wearing falsies; the lashes fall out after a while). Catch up on a bit of rest each day. Do some laundry, chill, and run lines so (I hope) I don’t have any more flubs.

Couldn’t do this full time. Couldn’t do a play six or seven times a week plus live a life. I mean…one weekend gone and the house is a wreck, nothing’s clean, and I’m pooped. Good to know: if I ever DO get an opportunity to do more, it’s got to come with enough money to buy me help. A maid to come in and tidy up the house, a personal assistant to help me keep everything together while I perform. And a bleeding chauffeur to drive me around so I don’t have to sit at the theatre for six to eight hours at a time.

Good to know my limits.

Gravy

Recoup.

Not sure what to say about the first night, other than it’s over. It went well. No major flubs, everybody got laughs. I feel a bit flat…

My bro got to the theatre early, around four. Hung out the entire night, talked with the director and other actors, and generally was someone who was ‘good people’, in the words of the crew. His good behavior was rewarded with meeting a dude into heavy metal, music, and recording (the sound engineer).

Did not think the first skit got the laughs it deserved…I deserved… Watched the vid last night, and came to the conclusion my brother stated earlier: the first skit has to warm up the audience. Of course they’re laughing a little less; this gets them in the mood (plus, it’s before the break so no one’s had a beer yet).

Things I’m pleased about: got compliments. That’s always nice. One was a back-hander, though…A woman who’d come to some general theatre group meetings showed up. Her comment? I watched you in the meetings and didn’t think you’d be very good…but you are! You’re a really good actress! Um…thanks? Decided that’s a statement that really needs to be appreciated for its sugar rather than its sting. Watched the vid my bro made. While some of the dialogue from the other actors is lost because the lines were said too quietly, my sonic timbered voice cuts through no matter what. Every word, every nuance, clear as a bell. The audio will need to be stripped, cleaned, and compressed to make everyone heard. Everyone but me. I feel good about that, tho it’s nothing to do with my performance. That’s just my voice. It cuts like a knife’s edge. I can make it softer, and generally do in normal conversation. On stage, though…Let’s just say it would take a really BIG theatre and a really BIG audience for me to need a microphone. Other: I’m damned proud of my portrayal. Wendy is perfectly natural. The vocal interjections, the nervous habits, the way she walks and talks…none of it forced, none of it unbelievable. For thirty minutes, I am this woman.

Got lifts in and back yesterday, and will have the same today thanks to my acting partner. That takes a lot of stress off me.

Stealing moments in between scenes to talk to the other actors. Finally talk. Found my co-feminist, who spoke up with me on Sunday’s dress rehearsal, to be a kindred spirit in many ways. Hope we can kindle a real friendship there. I don’t care if she doesn’t live in Rotterdam; I just want to stay in touch, maybe hang out once in a while. She likes bad horror films, she knows MST3000, and she smokes. I mean – DAMN! If I find out she likes punk music I am SO gonna bug her to be my friend.

Up a bit early today, but I’m getting picked up at 11:15 and I’ve got to pull my stuff together. Last night was just a toss-off: toss off the clothes, the make-up, the hair clips. Gotta find everything this morning and re-pack. Have breakfast, brush my teeth, get my contacts in, and start thinking Wendy again.

I’ll rest tonight.

Staying positive. Making sure I support everyone else. Smiling a lot. Mostly, having loads of fun.

Opening night is over. Now, it’s all gravy.

I’m ready

Dutch is a tricky language to learn. Any native will tell you that. Not only do you need to learn how to pronounce their ‘G’ without spitting on anyone, you also have to figure out the trick of spelling. In most cases, spelling isn’t bad if you know the combinations of letters and their corresponding sounds. There’s just one problem: the Dutch like to use d’s and t’s at the ends of their words, and both letters are pronounced the same. Is it a D? Or is it a T? Or one of those pesky words that uses both?

There’s a rule for that. Thought, at one time, I got it. After my lesson yesterday, I’m so fucking confused I don’t know if I understand it all.

Suppose I should feel good about all this: my lessons have surpassed my Thursday instructor. I’ve gone where she can’t follow. She’s got all the conversational skills, sure, but like many Dutch natives she doesn’t know the finer points of spelling or grammar.

Received an apology at the end of the lesson. The other student showed up, and conversation was limited to simple Q&A because she’s let her language skills slip so much. Barely got into my homework questions, and those that were looked at ended up confusing my teacher and muddling my own understanding.

At the rate this is going, I’ll be ready to teach beginner Dutch in six months.

Took the rest of yesterday off. Needed to let my mind rest, needed to let go of the irritation I was feeling. Good thing, too. My bro came home from his language lesson angry as all hell, so I let him vent. He’s not getting what he wants out of his lessons, either. He’s given stuff to read, which he struggles through, but there’s no correction or time taken to answer questions. I get that these instructors are all volunteers. It’s great to just have enough warm bodies to fill the positions needed. But there’s got to be some sort of structure everyone follows.

And shouldn’t instructors take some basic test to make sure they know how to read, write, and speak correctly?

Went out to FB today to make sure I didn’t have any comments from a certain uncle and found my page changed. I can’t comment on anyone’s posts. Don’t know if that’s some block that’s put up on me. Shouldn’t be. I don’t comment on anyone else’s stuff most of the time, and if I do it’s supportive. I’m not the troll. Also, when I visit someone else’s page, I only see part of their home page. Used to see the whole thing. What up wit’ dat? If it’s across the board on FB, okay. If it’s only me on my page, I must protest. …Sometime. When FB becomes important enough in my life to protest…which, granted, may be a while.

Staying out of the rain. Keeping warm. Resting, but moving enough. Had a very satisfactory POP out of my back last night. It’s what I needed: the spasming on my side eased off immediately. This morning, as I write, I have no pain. Glorious! No pain! This boost of physical comfort is still not enough for me to break my health cordon. Oh, I want to go. Go to the gym and work hard for two hours, feel that exhaustion. But no. 36 hours to go to curtain up. I’m no fool.

My bro is hoping to get a tripod for his phone/camera today so he can film my performance. *This is me feeling an ass for ever saying he doesn’t support me and he wouldn’t come to the play.* I hope things go well. No doubt over myself, just other people. Is that my trust issue, or just my good sense? Well, if anyone gripes over not doing as well as they want to, the group can bloody well let my brother in for free to film it again (if he’s willing to sit through it again, which I’m not guaranteeing). I do not look forward to seeing the camera’s perspective on my body. I always wince, no matter what my size. Then again, I always see myself as a whale no matter what. Or I have in the past. My only comfort is that this character is supposed to be awkward in her skin, and THAT is something I know how to convey.

Well. The excitement-o-meter is beginning to ramp up. I can feel that dump of adrenaline in my system. What do you know! I still get that feeling. Maybe as a kid it scared me. Hell! Horror films scared me as a kid. Now I love ’em. Same sort of thing: what once might have sent me over the edge is now something very familiar, very intimate. I know what to do with this. Concentrate on calm. Get to the gym, yes, but only for a walk and a stretch. Focus. Pack my bags for tomorrow. Take a shower. Make sure my outfit is ready. I’ve rituals at my fingertips, and plenty of smoke for when my rituals run out.

This is it; the final countdown. I’m ready.

Comin’ home

Being good is boring. Am I allowed to say that? It’s healthy, it’s how I should act every damned day, but it DOES make for a bland life. My focus is on staying healthy, so plenty of sleep and juice and hand washing. Meh.

Good news is, my health is strong. No sign of anything sneaking up on me. My back began aching yesterday, and I was quick to head to the gym to stretch out and walk on the treadmill; problem fixed. My bro is ready and willing to whip up anything I might want or need in the way of food. A few days to go to curtain up and I’m doing well.

The play: Rehearsal last night. It was my last rehearsal before Saturday. I was on the schedule every night this week (as was everyone), but our director said that he didn’t think we needed more time. Too true. My partner and I don’t call for line prompts, we have our choreography down to a T, and apparently anything I do at this point on stage is freaking funny. Plans are to open up the scene a bit; at first, we sat through most of it and now we’ve a bit of walking around the room to do. Got stopped at one point for some direction, and my partner asked what he should be doing. Reply? Don’t worry about what you’re doing. No one will be looking at you! She’s walking behind you with a look on her face…Trust me, no one will notice you. Um…thanks, and I hope my acting partner didn’t feel dissed. It’s his performance that allows me to do what I do.

Monday’s language class: Whoa, Nellie! I expected a step up; this is a BIG step up. Felt a little lost, spent a little time making sure I wasn’t just pouting because suddenly I’m not the best student in class. Have two female teachers, both brusque, both crisply prim on grammar. Oi! Made a mess of a sentence and was corrected, word by word, until I could repeat the proper sentence in one go. Got drilled on knowledge, speaking skills, and reading skills. Knowledge: some big gaps to fill in. Speaking: always tough, still not catching every word. Reading: OTT. While I was stopped several times to correct what I said, or correct my answers, I was not stopped when I read aloud. In fact, there was a moment of silence afterwards, then a short ‘Ah…goed’ from the teachers. I be old school. I remember the ‘Hooked on Phonics’ literacy series in the states. Never had to use it myself, but I understood the process: focus on the sounds. Drill the fact that certain combinations of letters always sound the same. I did that with Dutch early on, and it shows. Give me something to read aloud and it’s rare you’ll need to correct me. I might not understand everything I read, but it’ll sound like I’m a native.

Downtown today to deal with immigration. Nice to say that and not cringe with fear. Today I’ll be smiling, no matter how long the wait. It’s photo and fingerprint time. Get me my residency card!

And now I’ve time to get to the gym in the afternoon. Give my back another long walk on the treadmills to make sure it doesn’t seize up on me again.

My Dutch homework is done. All of it.

Even planted the idea that maybe – maybe – I’ll pitch my three one-act thrillers to the theatre group as a Halloween special. This, to the director as we had a ciggie outside. His eyebrows raised and he grinned. Took that as a positive inclination on his part. That’s good, because he might end up directing it.

Feeling good. Calm. Eerily calm. I expected more excitement in me as the first performance nears. I take it as a positive, though. Much easier to keep myself healthy when I’m not out dancing among the stars every night because I’m so damned hyper.

And why should I be nervous or hyper? I know where I belong: I belong on stage.

I’m just comin’ home.

I’m good, thanks

Rehearsal went well yesterday. It was fun, actually stepping into a Dutch home for once. The Dutch are lovely people, but they’ll only invite you to their homes after a long acquaintanceship (much more a ‘I’ll meet you there’ people than a ‘let’s hang here’ people) and showing up unannounced is the height of bad manners. So this was my very first time entering a Dutch home  – one that I didn’t rent for the weekend, anyway.

The blueberry muffins went over as well as I’d hoped. Silence descended on the room the first time they were passed around; everyone was stuffing their faces and it took a few minutes for someone to actually speak. Many compliments on them. It was even suggested (half-jokingly) the group sell them at performances to raise money.

The rehearsals themselves…Well, as I’ve said from the start, I’ll make you laugh. I can make no such guarantee about anyone else in the play. That’s still true. One of the duets is pulling out for the first two performances. Seems they don’t feel they have their parts down yet, which I just find hard to imagine. You want to call yourselves actors – even on the amateur level – and you can’t memorize a 25 minute skit in 6 months? Um…okay. There also seems to be a scheduling problem, even tho rehearsals and performance dates were chosen months ago. *sigh* I admit to a deep disappointment over this. Never kidded myself this was anything BUT amateur. I just hoped it was a little bit less amateur than what it’s proving to be. Or maybe I thought my own skills would prompt the others to up their games. I find it, now, a pity that I’m in the first skit. For the overall show, I think my skit should go second. Somewhere in-between the kinda funny other bits. Putting us first…well. I’m a bit worried the rest of the show will feel flat in comparison. Guess that’s my ego, ’cause no one else seems to share that feeling.

I heard the laughter levels, tho. We’re all familiar with the set-ups. Most of us have watched other couples act their bits out. So no big surprises for any of us, really. Yet my skit repeatedly gets out loud can’t stop myself laughter, while the rest just gets chuckles. I know the chuckles will grow into real laughter in front of a fresh audience, so it won’t quite be that bad for the rest of the couples. Still…this has been a concern from the start for me, and it’s not going away.

Also worried I shot my mouth off a bit yesterday. We took a break and sat out in the garden for a bit, having coffee and a bite to eat. Questions on women’s roles came up. Questions that were voiced as the speaker looked directly at me. So I spoke up. One great moment – maybe the greatest so far in my little life – was finding two other women in the group replying and reacting in the exact same manner as myself. That was so fucking amazing! Usually I’m the only one. To have two other women speak up at the same time, saying the same thing I was saying… It was quite a rush. But I’m a bit afraid I monopolized the conversation at one point. I didn’t get angry or bark out my answers. Just the opposite; it was one of the calmest and most measured responses I’ve heard come out of my mouth. It was just wordy, and there were seven of us sitting around talking. I hope I didn’t come across as a know-it-all opinionated conversation monopolizer.

Well, I guess that’s what the blueberry muffins were for. To make up for my social faux pas.

The marketing for the play hasn’t gone well. Someone checked on-line ticket sales yesterday. Saturday: 14 seats sold. Sunday: 10 seats. Leiden performance: 6 seats. End of October: 2. That’s it. I asked if anyone had contacted the papers with a public announcement. I was given a vague answer that some agenda had been contacted, and they thought they covered everything. Obviously not, because it’s not in the papers. And they’ll print it for free if you get it to them. One other question got a derogatory ‘that’s marketing’ sneer, as if getting the word out on this level was beneath their dignity. Was finally given a few posters to put up these last days before the performance. No flyers. No wonder so few seats have been sold. No one bloody knows it’s happening.

*sigh*

New language class today. It’s in the afternoon; not my favorite time of day. I’d rather learn first thing, before my brain has time to cook in its own juices. But I look forward to getting out of the house, meeting my fellow classmates, and hopefully finding my teachers are up to snuff. I don’t want to spend another class correcting the instructors (and this time, if I find that’s the case, I’m demanding they either pay me or let me attend the lessons for free).

September is almost over. My finances won’t be much better next month, but at least I’ll have a few bucks to put here and there where needed. Will probably have to pay my language lessons off in installments, just like my contribution to the theatre group fees or my gym membership. I’m a bit embarrassed by that, ponying up a ten or twenty here or there, obviously strapped for cash while others whip out fifties like it’s the only currency they carry. But I know the trap of money, know how it works. Paying bills or buying things is the only time and place where having money is advantageous. Other than that, I think it works against you. Makes you buy more, put yourself into more debt, worry about more things you have to upkeep because you bought them and if you let them all go to hell now you’ve just thrown your money away… And you don’t get to keep it. It doesn’t save you from dying. It won’t buy you happiness.

…I’m good, thanks.