Just. be. me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can just. be. me.

Advertisements

Pineapple and ice cream

I pulled the old diet coke with a piece of cake trick yesterday. Except in my case, I did it with pineapple and ice cream. I’m not proud of myself. But oh! Ice cream! Real ice cream! It does a number on my stomach, and I can only have a little bit at a time or my lactose intolerance kicks in but DAMN!!! It’s good.

Plus, I put on some clothes that were tight on me last November and found them very roomy. So I guess I can take a small scoop of ice cream once in a while.

Got back on the cross trainer. Didn’t try for anything other than to keep going for 30 minutes. Did pretty well. Gasped for air, naturally, and my heart rate was faster than I’ve seen it in awhile, but I kept on. Did my stretches, my abdominals, my weight lifting, and walking, too. Thought to myself: yeah, now I’m getting back on track.

Came home to my brother, who suggested we go out to eat for a biryani. I stood there in the hallway, sweaty, disheveled, and still red in the face, while he said this to me. Oh, man! So I took a break, cleaned up, had a cold soda, and headed out with him. It was a great meal – chicken biryani, garlic nan, tarka dahl, and mixed veg. I ate and ate and ate.

Saw my very cute physiotherapist. Did my bendy trick for him; I can bend straight over and put both hands flat on the ground. He said: Ah! No wonder you have back problems. It’s great you’re so flexible, but it also means your muscles have to work twice as hard as mine to keep you upright. Ding, ding, ding! So that’s why my back hurts so much when I stand for too long. He pushed at the sore spots, apologizing. I reminded him we’re the perfect pair; he’s a bit of a sadist on the physio and I’m a bit of a masochist, so push away. Pretty obvious he doesn’t get a lot of patients saying that.

Have heard nothing more from the theatre group, and if it goes the way it’s been going it’ll take me messaging the director before an actual meeting date is set. I’ve no problem being the Mom in this situation if he needs me to be, reminding him of dates and time lines. I just don’t want to be an unwanted Mom. Must remember to ask him about it (some people, unlike myself [pat on the back] have problems asking for what they need from others).

Still can’t quite get over the fact that I’m not falling into a horrible depression this summer. I’m actually feeling good, both physically and mentally. Good enough to contemplate getting out of the house more, doing more, going to a few free festivals or music events. It’s very strange. Been years since I felt good enough in summer to go out and enjoy it. But I’ve actually been thinking how pleasant it might be to go to the beach for a day. Lay in the sand, swim in the cool water, buy an iced treat from a near-by stand. Maybe wind the day up with a meal in a beach-side restaurant. I haven’t had that urge for 30 years.

Today is Saturday, meaning my bro is headed out to the comic shop. I have the day to myself. There’s cleaning to do, and the gym. That’s my daily pineapple. Sweet in their own right, and good for you. Dicking around with writing or just playing games…now, that’s my ice cream. Sweeter by far, easier to take, not really good for you, and far too easy to overindulge in. And just like that urge the other day in the supermarket when I picked up the ice cream in the first place, it’s difficult to ignore.

…We-e-e-ell, a little ice cream never hurt anybody. Right? Besides, soon I must face the pineapple of writing: the production notes, the script changes, the accommodations of this or that for the actors. I know what’s coming.

Don’t get me wrong. I like pineapple. A lot. I just like ice cream more.

But the pineapple is piling up. Still haven’t called for an appointment with the dietician. Still need to get back to the dentist for a check-up. Have to get over to my doc about a clogged hair follicle on my head. Must finish my homework for Monday. Need to call the dermatologist at the hospital and ask for more creme for my feet. Pineapple chunks litter my path: left here and there, easy enough on their own to pick up and eat but put all together and you’ve got one big assed pineapple to munch down.

Like any pineapple, you’ve got to slash off the prickly bits and cut out the core. The prickly bits are mostly made of up my language anxiety. The core is that I just don’t care enough about myself to do these things in a timely fashion. So I’ll do my best. I’ll try to take care of one thing on Tuesday morning, after I’ve had my language class. That’s when my ear is most attuned to Dutch. Monday is out of the way with its catch-up from the weekend and weekly meetings. Do one thing. If it’s easier than I imagined, I can try another. But no pressure. This is a big pineapple, and it’s not quite ripe.

In the meantime, pardon me if I eat some ice cream.

My house is clean

Housework. It’s one of those things I tend to do when my bro is out of the house. For one, he’s out of the house – that means no ‘could you please move so I can hoover there?’ or other awkward incidents of him trying to “help” in some way. For another, I find it well worth the effort to get it done and have an hour or maybe even two in a totally clean house before The Fuzz and Dirt Monster returns. It’s not something he tries to do, but he does. Rubs his socked feet together so the floor is filled with little bits of fallen cotton, misses the ashtray so his side of the table is full of ash and filth, doesn’t seem to see the drips and spats around the kitchen after he’s done cooking. It adds up to one big job, and a thankless job at that, because I think my brother’s close-up vision is going and he really doesn’t see this stuff. Up side is he doesn’t get upset about any of it; down side is he never sees how much I actually do.

My room was first up. More than six months since I tore through it. It is spanking clean, with fresh sheets on the bed and tidy shelving on the walls. I still hadn’t put away my jewelry from the film premiere in January, so I’ve been living in an increasingly messy spot for a while. Now, naturally, I’m doomed to forget where I put things so the minute I need something I’ll panic and rip everything apart again. In the meantime, I’m letting myself enjoy it.

Worked so hard and did so much that by 3 in the afternoon all I could do is sit, drink a cola, and chill. Finally hit the shower around 5 and deep conditioned my hair. Rubbed in my new body lotion (in a pot, thick and creamy), put on fresh clothes, and ate dinner.

It was glorious, sitting in my chair last night. Feeling fresh and clean, yet smooth and soft (thank you, body lotion). Knowing that the tv was wiped down, the stand was dusted, the floor hoovered, the plants watered – it was a rare, simultaneous, the-house-is-clean-and-so-am-I moment.

Remembered about 8 pm that I hadn’t touched my homework. Again.

Have not heard squat from the director. That’s a bit worrying. Need to accept that if that last body isn’t found for the role, we’ll have to look at a different script. He said as much to me last audition. He also emphasized the ‘we’. Whatever the fallout on my story, I get the feeling I have been recruited as the director’s go-to person. The aide, the second director, the props master, the marketer, the make-up guru. I feel good about that. Good that he trusts me, that he finds my input valuable, my help valuable. I am not someone who needs to prove herself worthy; I’ve already done that. And who knows? With a letter of recommendation from the director, I might be able to get a job at a theatre. A paying job.

Today I have to take a crack at Dutch. Two letters to write. I did go to the trouble on Friday of translating them, making sure I understood all the nuances. They’re big asks: lay out a reasoned argument in one, prep up a “well-informed” request in another. Plan to finish one. The other I’ll leave for next week. Just a bit too much stuff going on, mixed in with a bit too little oomph to get the work done.

And get me to the gym! I’m still tired from the super cleaning yesterday, but I’m dyin’ to get back on my exercise routine. Stretch, move, sweat. I want it today.

Little by little, I’m getting there. My hair is as soft as a deep conditioner can make it. My nails are neat, trimmed, and the cuticles are pushed back and healthy. My feet are lotioned, buffed, and pampered. My body is clean and soft. I’ve even pondered buying some make-up. Saw a good offer on a big kit the other day, and I might go back for it. Partly for any theatre work in future, partly because I want to play with the colors. That feels very girly. As does the new hair clip I bought to whip my hair off my neck. It’s strong and tight, and does the trick without losing its grip (paid more for it; guess I get what I pay for). Have thought about painting my nails – just for fun. But I don’t want to go from frump to dazzle in one jump. That’ll garnish too much attention. I just want to gradually move into a better look. Subtle. Something that in six months people who know me will ask ‘gee, when did that happen?’ – like when you lose weight: you don’t see every pound, you just become aware at some point that the weight is off.

Feels a bit odd to gather myself up this late in life. To say at 52 ‘Yes, I’m still attractive and I’m going to show it’ or ‘I’m worthy, smart and valuable’ or even ‘I’m sexy’. But I reminded myself (in the middle of cleaning, when I was full of sweat and dust) that I still get asked out once in a while. Not every day. Not even every week. But I get offers, and they’re not from the worst guys out there.

So much has been cleaned up for me lately, I’m not sure what to do anymore. I’m standing in my own life, looking around and thinking ‘Damn! It’s clean in here!’ Worrying or thinking about family: almost down to zero. Beating myself up: almost never. Feeling stupid: that one comes more often; every day gives me occasion to feel stupid. But I’m forgiving myself faster. Positives: Feeling more attractive. Wanting to do more. Being more social. Getting along better with others. Not taking so much to heart.

My house is clean.

Transformation

I am old. Old enough to bitch about current trends, and bemoan my lack of understanding over the newest app on the market. I’m okay with that. But I’ll give the internet one thing that’s superior over the time before the internet: it makes bitching at people a hell of a lot easier.

Just off a scathing email to Heineken beer. This is a Dutch company, so I feel particularly watchful over it and more than qualified to speak the hell up. Complaint: the use of “Heineken Girls”. This sexist marketing must stop. Ah! Now that’s what the internet is good for: fast anger, fast action. Popped over to Heineken’s site, used the contact page, told them how terrible their marketing campaign is. Poured it out in English because it’s an international company and someone there should be proficient in it. Besides, even Roald Dahl doesn’t use the words I needed for that email, and I didn’t want my comments to be tossed aside because of poor grammar.

And yes, I’m very aware I’m becoming that stereotypical older person, shooting off angry letters to companies, bitching about the noise from kids, ignoring most current trends because they’re all just so damned silly to me. You know what? It’s comfortable.

I have decided to remain silent on auditions. If I’m truly giving up control, then give up control. Auditions are called by the director and the board. That’s what they do. That’s what they’ve always done. They do not need me needling at them to do it. I’ll continue to work on getting back to a routine for my health. I’ll continue to peck away at the tech notes. And if mid-May comes and there’s still no auditions called, I’ll ask about them. But not yet.

Got up yesterday and took a shower. Yea! The Universe was with me on that: hot water aplenty in the building. And standing under it -! I felt all the days of inaction slide off me. It was more than refreshing; it was rejuvenating. Got downtown for my errands. I contemplated wandering around, looking at stuff. Two things stopped me: lack of money, and the crowds. So I came back home. Did some internet searches to expand my mind. Chilled. Paced and talked aloud.

And did four full drying rack’s worth of dishes all by myself.

Finished Esio Trot (or ‘Ieorg Idur’ in Dutch). Only took two sittings. It was short and had lots of pictures, but I’m proud of myself. That was a fast read with really high comprehension. That makes nine Dutch books I’ve read so far this school year. Some of my classmates, btw, are still on their first book. I’m impatient for my head to finish making all the connections. I like the sparks I get – the sudden comprehension, catching new words, whatever. It’s too slow for me, tho everyone says I’m making great progress. But I know now that I’m reading so much, I’ll get there. Eventually.

Oh! For the first time in a very long time – maybe truly for the first time in my life – I had a positive reaction to my reflection in the mirror. The lift in our building has a mirror, one of the best I’ve got for seeing my full body. We’ve had really hot weather, so I dressed in cool clothes: a pair of dark grey harem pants and a T I haven’t wore in a while. It was more form fitting than I generally wear, and I was pleased with my appearance. I admired my ass. I liked the curve of my hips. In the 5 seconds it took to go from the top floor to the ground floor, I experienced a body revolution. I found myself attractive. It was…more powerful than I can put into words. I’m hanging onto that memory, that feeling. I like it.

Finding myself taking more time with me. Brushing my hair, brushing my teeth, even trying on one or two different tops to see what I look like before I leave the house. It’s been years since I’ve cared about doing any of that. Been taking care of my cuticles and nails. Thinking about purchasing a bit of make-up for special evenings out. Keeping in mind that in future when I shop, I should pick clothing a size smaller than I generally do. I’m tired of wearing bags for clothes. Tired of looking extra fat because everything is so large. I don’t have to look like that.

I don’t have to be that.

…Wow. I guess 10 mg does the trick. Or, let me rephrase that because I’m dissing my own action in that: 10 mg is enough to help me make that connection in my brain and see my own worth. I know finding my body attractive is a small step. I still don’t feel worthy of help. Or money. Or love, really. But…not repeating those old phrases to myself about how unattractive I am, how fat my ass is, how totally nothing I am in every way… That’s good. I’m told most people don’t do the things I do. They don’t wake up crying, they don’t obsess over their mistakes or the world, they don’t continually beat themselves up. No wonder you can hold jobs and have families and do a hundred extra curricular activities! You’ve got so much time on your hands when you’re not whipping yourself! Things are so much easier! You think: okay, I’m gonna go do this and you do it without interrupting yourself or getting caught up in some web of logic or paranoia.

I’ve still a long way to go, but…those things that I was bitching about last week, the take care of yourself shit that just seemed too big to tackle…I’m just doing it. Slowly picking it up. Doing it because I want to. Doing it because it’s easy.

The time has come for transformation.

Light ’em up

Smoke ’em if you got ’em! Happy 420.

Got in one good pacing session. The weather’s been hot, and my bro has been hanging around a bit more to avoid the sun so I haven’t had many opportunities to get up and talk out everything pouring thru my head. Have one storyline roughed in, another half there with ideas and questions: very productive for one pacing session (granted, it lasted about 2 hours).

Ratta-tat-tat-brrrr-ratta-tat-tat. My brother had to come out from his room four times yesterday to comment on my tapping feet. Just…kept doing it. All afternoon. Please remember to tell your psychiatrist about this when you see him next. Yeah. He’ll probably say it’s depression. That’s what everyone says about everything I say: it’s depression. Depression. Fast feet? Depression. Sweating hands? Depression. Poor sleep? Depression. Repetitive thoughts? Depression. I’m beginning to wonder why I bother mentioning anything. They’ve pegged me, and until they see obvious shit in front of their own eyes they won’t change their minds.

Must. let. go. I’m obsessing over the production. Bless my bro’s heart, he recognized that yesterday and did his best to talk me down. He let me go thru my concerns, talk about the sound layering, the recordings needed, and my worry over time and overloading him. He replied (confidently; damn! I wish I could do that) that he could get all the sound done in one week if push came to shove. And he reminded me that I’ve passed the baton. He’s the sound director, and the director is the director. Let go. If they say they can do it within the time frame they’re setting, they can do it. That’s tough. Had a lot of people let me down. Drop things at the last minute, then look at me like ‘well, if you want it done, do it yourself’. The only thing I know for sure that works is immersing myself in a new story – which is why I took off all restrictions on myself and paced things out. I thought I’d want to be clear headed and focused on the production, but I find my laser beam concentration too much. I’ve got to distract myself.

Still cooking things up in my brain, so my body’s been allowed to be the slug. Sit. Go thru the motions of playing solitaire. Unfocused eyes on the tv. Uncomprehending hearing. My bro is indulging me. Encouraging me, even. He sees the obsession and the manic traits even if the doc doesn’t.

My phone rang about 10 minutes before my pizza was delivered. I knew before looking at it that it was S. She’s the only one who calls me. Bless her, she was trying to multi-task a bit; she called me while she was on the train. Unfortunately, the noise made for a difficult phone call. I hung in there, responding between bites on my pizza. I know that’s an instance I should probably say ‘could you call me back in half an hour? my pizza just came’, but I can’t. I have so few friends and people in my life, and I know how busy they all are. I’m grateful for whenever S’s calls come, whether it’s 10 minutes before my pizza or just after I’ve turned the light out in my room and I’m ready to sleep. Plus, I know it’s my schedule that’s weird and off. Sometimes I’m sleeping at 6 in the evening. Sometimes I eat dinner at 3 in the afternoon. So I do my best to accommodate those phone calls because…well…I don’t get many. And I know I’m the oddball.

Anyway, she’s fine. Busy. Happy at her internship. I’m so thrilled for her! A bit jealous, too. Or envious. Wishing I could be in her shoes – trained in what she loves, just heading out and beginning. If she doesn’t succumb to hating herself, she can go far. I find it interesting to hear her. We’ve talked deeply enough that I know a few of her issues, and she mine. We connect on several levels; our problems aren’t dissimilar. It is almost as if I’m talking to a younger version of myself. She’s half on the track and half lost. She knows she struggles with depression and self hate, but she thinks repeating those tried and true memes will get her thru her shit. Had a good laugh (internally) when she told me: It’s all in your head. Yes. Depression is all in your head. But she seems to want me to be able to talk things out and get to an ‘end’ (or perhaps she’s hoping to see that so it gives her hope that her own issues will, eventually, come to an ‘end’). I have not the heart to tell her there is no end to it. And I do not have the courage to let her see the hag in me: that older, wiser woman with keen perception. I allow her to tell me her youthful wisdom, full of hope and rainbows. I do not point out the deeper issues I see lurking behind her words or actions. To me, they are obvious. She is on the right track; she’s told me about the competitiveness between herself and her older sister. That was my first step, too. I recognize the overeating, the family issues behind the nice facade (no diss on her family; I’ve met her parents and they’re both very pleasant to strangers but it’s obvious to me she’s not getting what she needs from them).

Well. You’re the wordsmith. What would you have listened to when you were her age? You can’t tread her journey for her. You can’t put her feet down on the right path. She’s got to do that. The only thing you can do is try to illuminate her mind. Connect with her. Let her know she’s not alone.

Light ’em up.

Screw the rules

Did you take your pills?

That’s one, I thought. Yes, I replied, two, two, twoExcellent verbal skills, no? Well, I was a little hyper, which is why the question was asked in the first place. But, Lordy Loo! We are at that point. The first go-to question will now be did you take your pills? *sigh*

It wasn’t so much that I felt hyper, I just did things yesterday. It didn’t start that way. I left off from my blog, still pondering my long ‘to do’ list, wondering where to start. Laid out my tasks to my bro, who asked me what was on my mind (a rarity). He got me to laugh at myself by pointing out how far ahead of everything I already am. I relaxed enough to ask myself the Golden Question: what would you do if you really cared about yourself? The answer was obvious.

First up: pick up my meds at the chemist. I had enough to get to Monday, but I didn’t want to add stress on a future day (that’s not caring about myself), so that was the biggie. Second: give myself that CD. No more delayed positive reinforcement. I need it when I need it. Third: get to the library, turn in my old book and find a new one. Before I left, I began my laundry – much needed, as I was down to ankle or heavy, wool ski socks.

I dressed in fresh clothes. Brushed my hair and teeth. Fussed a bit over how I looked, and headed out.

The chemist was far less busy than I thought. I took my number and waited. In walked a couple. The woman was there for something, her boyfriend (obviously, no husband quite hangs on a woman like a boyfriend) just stopping in with her. They paused at the machine, nudging each other the way lovers do, taking three times as long as needed. Then – the man looked at me over his girlfriend’s shoulder. Thought nothing of that first glance until it was followed by a second, and then a third. Took a while to dawn on me: he was checking me out. I judged him to be 10 years my junior at least. My thoughts were harsh and judgmental. That’s men for you, I thought to myself. They can be with any woman and they’ll still look and wonder about every other woman they come across. Then I checked to my left. A younger, 20 something darker skinned woman sat there four seats away, complete with four inch high spike heels. Was he looking at her, not me? I checked and judged the angles of our seats versus his stance. Nope. He didn’t see her at that angle, and his eyes met mine. Then I thought: Racist. There’s a much prettier woman sitting just to my left, and the only reason I can see that you won’t look at her is that she’s darker skinned.

It wasn’t until I was walking out that I considered the idea that maybe he just found me attractive enough to look at.

On the metro, downtown. It’s been a while since I’ve been downtown, in the heart of the shopping district. Things have changed. Shops are gone, closed down, replaced by shiny new markets called ‘market’ with all black interiors designed to show off their low, aluminum shelved products at their very best. The first record shop I stopped at was a victim of the Dutch online shopping obsession; it was gone, no sign of it ever having been there. Okay. I knew another record shop a few blocks away. Walked down, found it, searched – what a mess! There are NO OCD people working at that store, let me tell you! But everything was used, and old. Not what I wanted. I sighed, and headed off to the library – walking, for exercise and fresh air. On a whim, thinking it was the slimmest chance possible, I stopped at Media Markt and looked. Took a while, but I found it for 8 euro. Meandered thru the aisles, looking at all the goodies I couldn’t afford (DVD and book shops are the only two places I guarantee I’ll take my time and window shop). Saw the latest Twin Peaks revival for sale; excited about that, but didn’t have the money to pop for it. My purchase paid for, I headed to the library. Up the roltrap (escalator) to the one shelf I know in the entire six floor complex: the Roald Dahl shelf. Chose a shorter book, knowing I’ve been having trouble with concentration and reading lately. Got home at 3.

My brother was cooking, so the the moment I opened the door my nose was hit with a mass of delicious smells: hot sauce, onions and peppers, garlic. He was making his famous enchiladas. Sadly, he kept forgetting needed items. I just got back from the store myself. I forgot I needed tomatoes! And later: Um…I forgot sour creme. I’ll go and get some, if you could just start the rice… My game was closed before he could finish his sentence, and I was up and chopping onions before he left. Dinner was delicious. I finished first, and rinsed my plate off. Hm. The food was still in the pans. Without thinking too much, or dithering, or asking, I just quietly put everything away in containers, rinsed all the dishes, and put them to the side. My brother was watching tv. Later, when he rinsed his own plate off, he looked around in wonder. The food…it’s already put away? Yes, I replied, without snark or any hidden desire to be told what a good girl I am. And later, I sprang out of my chair and checked for hot water – good, we had some. Tackled the dishes.

That’s when I heard the question.

It didn’t bite at me, though I suspect it will in future. Or…it could. I had far too much of ‘are you on your period?’ shit when I was younger.

Meanwhile, I be da woman wit’ da bomb plan: keep asking myself the Golden Question.

Screw the rules.

Calm before the storm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is my calm before the storm.

Here we go…

Another day of hibernation. Hard to not feel the slug, but at least I stayed calm.

My bro decided to take control with our food and put me on a gluten free diet before we know the results of my test. Must say, my stomach is better today than it’s been in weeks. I ate better, felt better all night, feel better this morning. Aw, crap! That means no more take away pizza. It also means ditching all the wheat flour in the house and searching out for the alternative flours I use for my gluten-free stuff. *sigh* And I never did hit on a gluten-free bread I really liked…

I’m worried over how readily we accept this gluten-intolerance diagnosis. It’s a new phenomenon. Our question should really run to why this is happening. What’s going on with our food that’s causing this? But, no. Doctors come up with a new catch phrase diagnosis that everyone latches onto and that’s it. The diagnosis becomes the full monty: the cause and the reason all rolled into one. No other answers are searched for, other than new chemical combinations to ease the symptoms of this new disease: a money-making combination if ever I heard one.

Heard from my film co-star. She asked about my Amsterdam performance because she’s up there doing her internship. Sadly, she’s busy that day but happily she’s in Rotterdam the next day and we’re going to meet up. Cannot tell you how gratifying it is to find my affection for these young people returned in this manner. They want to see me, want to meet up. Thank you, Universe, for sending me people I can love so easily. It’s opened my eyes. Want to pass on a hard copy of my script to her. I’ve already asked her to think about auditioning for the play, and that I want to take it to film. I want her excited about the story. So far, everyone who reads it is.

My bro printed up a copy of a radio script I wrote. I sent it out and hit the typical black holes: over a year now, and not a word – even a rejection. We both figured it would be the first script to do a podcast of, since it’s written purely for sound. Wanted a hard copy for when we eventually start to tear through it.

Trying to think ahead right now on the podcast issue. Especially in relation to my current play. I’ll be doing the bad guy voice (highly affected, so it’s nondescript). What I’d like to do is write out the dialogue I might need to change the non-speaking scenes into audio scenes and get everything recorded at once. I’ve worked long enough in audio to know a slight shift in electrical current can result in a very different sound recording, and I don’t want to re-record everything for the audio version. Getting it all at once guarantees I’m working with similar raw files.

Ach, this will call for a lot of juggling. Juggling the play, rehearsals, sound work. Juggling ideas for the podcast. Juggling ideas for the film version. I think I can do it if they don’t overlap too much. Well aware it will take continual effort from me to remain calm and grounded. That’s what’s worrying me. I’ve said it before: I like to fly. Like to run on the mania or hypomania or whatever. Not doing that feels unnatural, like I’m holding myself back. It’s both difficult and annoying. It’s also necessary; I’ve found that out the hard way.

I need a faster internal switch. It takes me a while to ramp up to energy. It also takes me a while to relax from energy. If I could jump from 0 to 60 in one go (or back again), I’d be fine. Hype up for rehearsals or performance, shut down afterwards. Instead, my wind up for performing is a long affair of getting in the skin of the character, and my wind down is legendarily long. Hm…. Don’t ever really know that I’ll be able to do that faster. It is what it is. But if I could manage the entire process a bit calmer, I think I’d do better. Winding down is never calm. Winding down is manic talk, non-stop, one thought after the other thrown at the only other person in the room, my brother, until I start to yawn – and even then, I suffer tossing and turning and a bad night’s sleep. That’s where I most need help.  …Maybe I should work on a wind-down list.

Okay. Don’t know where to start… Um…right. So, what I’ve been doing doesn’t work all that well. Outside the box, ideal scenario: go to the gym after a performance and burn the extra energy out of me. Problem: the gym isn’t open that late. Possible solution: take a walk instead. A brisk walk around the neighborhood. That might work. Of course, that means I’m coming back even later, and my brother will be off to sleep by the time I return. I dislike that. No one to talk to. On the other hand, talking hasn’t exactly helped too much, so…try it. Other possibilities: write it out. Come out and blog. That’s why this is here. Another: when you get home, accept the fact you won’t sleep or go down. Put in a film and watch it. Play games. Just say ‘okay, I’m up for a few hours’ and keep yourself entertained.

Not bad for not knowing where to start.

Today I’m getting my shoes adjusted and rehearsing. Long evening ahead of me. Well, I’ve my new wind-down list, so I know what to try if I come back hyper.

And yep, there it is. The influx of adrenaline as I thought about today.

*sigh* Here we go…

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.

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.