It ain’t my fault

Ugh. Let’s vent.

Merry, merry. My return to morning posts has generated a few more readers. That’s what I’d hoped. I mean, writing English while in the EU…there’s got to be a joke in there somewhere, tho being as I’m living it right now, I can’t see it. My goal was to reach more English speakers and, thank you, it seems I’m doing that.

…Which leads me to my first vent. Some likes on yesterday’s post (now dim in my memory, after 24 hours of crunching more words out of my brain) made me go back and read my own words. All well and good, and a little stroke to my ego because I thought the post was pretty good, too. But it made me notice the advert WP puts on the bottom of my page (making money off my words, while simultaneously wanting to charge me money every month so I can get a piece of the ad revenue). And what lay there, asking/begging/demanding you go and check it out, even pony up some funds to buy? Scrivener. That software I gave a go, the shit that’s not worth even the trial version (if you’re a playwright) because it lacks the standard formatting 99.9% of places want.

Ye Gods….really?

Second vent: news. Nothing new about that. I’m not even reading the articles anymore, just skimming the titles. Trying to keep up on world news while not being triggered. Tough. Wish there weren’t so many pix of 45 out there. Is it possible to snap a photo of him when he DOESN’T look like a self-satisfied snobby bastard? Doesn’t seem to be.

Third vent: this current “free speech” bullshit the far right in the US is pulling. Let’s be clear: there is no free speech. There isn’t even any freedom. Not in the US, not anywhere. If the US had free speech, why did everyone come down on a certain female comedian when an obviously staged and comedic photograph came out with her holding 45’s head? Oh, no! I believe she got fired for that one. I believe she got death threats. And she sure as fuck got shamed beyond reason for it. Yet, that was her free speech. And the far right, who are now screaming that they should be able to call anyone anything, they should be able to say these people are all lazy, or rapists, or criminals – they’re the ones who put this pressure on her. …More than that, even. “Freedom” would be you’re able to do whatever the fuck you want (that is, actually, the way I’ve heard most right-wingers define it). So from that stance, it must mean you support the laziness, the raping, and the criminal behavior. They should all be free to do that, right? Oh! And how about pedophilia? That would be covered under your definition, as well. My point is that NO society is absolutely “free”, and thinking that you are is a child’s fantasy. For every individual to be free, societies would fall – because absolute individual freedom is counter to civilization. It’s an ‘all for me’ attitude, and that kind of thinking does not build roads, or schools, or hospitals. It does not pay a fair wage; it may not even pay its bills at all. It’s the kind of thinking that serial killers and narcissists have.

Fourth vent. A lovely link to a nonsense feature on the internet about how someone ran 1000 Hollywood scripts through a computer program to “find out” that women’s roles have, on average, thousands of fewer lines of dialogue than men, that taking women out of most stories doesn’t change the tale, and that women are underrepresented and dissed in almost every fucking way. Again, seriously? Can I be angry and bold enough to say I bet it was a man who came up with this idea? Because women have been saying that for ages and not taken seriously. The only reason I can think of why this particular bullshit shows up as “news” is because it’s a man’s study. A man’s article.

…And all that before 7 in the morning.

Other: worked on my script. Read it through, made a few changes. Prepped up a different script to send out again. Got to the gym, did my thing. Got on the scale, horror, horror…After all my sweating and straining, the damned scale said I lost a grand total of .3 kilo. That’s not even a pound. For months of hard work. The thought hit me that I should begin to accept my body for what it is. I’m not 20, or even 30 anymore. I’m 50+. That big number that always seems to have so many black colored birthday wishes in greetings card shops. Time to let that size 10 ideal go…

Had a thought strike me as I sat on the thinking chair (toilet). Yesterday I talked about reconciliation, and how I yearn for it. And I do. But I also realized that in my life, I’ve been the one to walk away from people. I’ve done it to protect myself, because being in their presence meant continual dissing and put-downs on a level I found very self-destructive. Of course, they faulted me for it. I’m the baby for walking away and terminating communication. I’m at fault. But I’ve never been able to make them see that loving someone means you make a choice. A choice about how much hurt you’ll take from someone. Everyone will, eventually, hurt you. They leave, they die, you argue, they betray you – something will happen, and you’ll feel let down. It’s inevitable. So for me, loving someone has meant I have to know where that line in the sand is drawn; what kinds of abuse I’ll take from people and still care. My family has crossed that line so many times, in so many ways, I can no longer trust any of them. Because even if I try to talk to them about it, all I get is blame, blame, blame – it’s my fault.

And it ain’t my fault.

I deserve this

Thank you for submitting to the LTA Millennial Committee’s New Voices Halloween event. We had 184 submission for 3 slots, and unfortunately your show was not selected.

I wanted to send you a personal note because your show was excellent. It would have been in our top five, except the tech requirements were far too complex for our space. We have an incredibly bare bones and small room for these shows, and there simply wasn’t a way to do the script justice in our space. Your writing was wonderful and the story very engrossing. Our spring event will most likely occur on a full stage, and once we set the theme, I hope you will consider submitting for 2019.

Boy! I suppose it says something about my low self esteem when I say this rejection made me feel really good. It IS a rejection – though one of the best. To stack a rejection with words like ‘excellent’, ‘wonderful’ and ‘very engrossing’ just takes the sting out of the whole we can’t use it issue. And it gives me hope. Real hope. This is an outside source; no one who knows me, no one who might be embarrassed to be honest with me about my writing, and they chose to use these words to describe my work.

They even let me know WHY my work wasn’t chosen – tricky tech requirements. That’s like the rarest of rare gems in the writing world.

I wanna jump up and down. Shout out that I’m a good writer. Let myself feel this. I put myself down so much that half the time I’m not even quite aware of it.

Excellent. 

Btw, this personal note arrived ten days before they announced their results (been lax on checking my email accounts again). It’s not a sham letter sent to everyone. It’s a real, honest to Goddess, personal note crafted just for me.

Whoopee! I was rejected! – And it feels good.

My next great piece of work slated for a magnificent rejection is sitting on the dining table, unread. Letting it sit for a few days. I’ve got two months before I call a reading, and another two months after that to finish up whatever editing I want to do. Can I say it looks good? There’s something about getting my work printed up that really jazzes me. That stack of papers – that’s a window into another time and place, something that’ll grab you by the balls, make you cry, make you think, make you respect these women (and maybe other women you know). And I created it. Out of my head, using my hands, my words, my feelings.

I know there’s only two weeks before school begins again. I know my language lessons are becoming more frequent; by October this year, I’ll have three classes a week to keep up on. And I’ve got the play, and life, and all that.

And I’m already crafting my next story. Can’t help it. Now that I opened the floodgates, it’s just gushing out of me.

Plus…I really want more positive feedback like that note. That’s driving me more than anything, I think. More of a rush than I anticipated. Not as heady as the immediate feedback of a live audience, but damned close – and in some ways, longer lasting. Feedback after a performance is only on the performance – the next night, you might fuck up. But feedback on my writing -! Now, that’s got some lasting power to it. My words stand, and that comment is now forever attached to my work (at least in my own head).

Celebrations. This time, I’m gonna celebrate the positive feedback I received for as long as I’d fret over a negative comment. That means DAYS. Days of reminding myself, days of smiling over it, days of doing something special just for me. Because if I heard something terrible about my stuff, you know I’d be struggling. You’d have multiple posts over what a shitty this or that I am, how worthless I feel, how nothing matters. I won’t push my success down anyone’s throat, but I am going to work to stay up right now.

Fifty-one years of feeling pretty much the loser; I deserve this.

Om de Hoek

Someone call 1912, tell them I found their missing summer day.

There is a spit of land in the far west of the Netherlands. A tiny spit of land that forms the headway for the great river Maas that cuts through Rotterdam. A tiny spit of land that takes the brunt of the elements, the largest ships, the everything the ocean and sky and wind can throw at it. That tiny spit of land is called Hoek van Holland (literally, the corner of the Netherlands). And yesterday, I finally saw it.

Hop on the B metro. That’s easy; the station is literally outside my front door. Ride that baby all the way to the end: Schiedam Central. Find the bus halt. In summer, there can be as many as four bus lines running back and forth – but, of course, on the day my brother and I went, there were only two buses every hour.

As I traveled across this tiny nation (and tiny it IS; my goddess! I’d drive longer to get to my grandparents’ home than it would take to travel the length of this tiny land), I watched the landscape change. The Dutch have a way of planting up the area to hide cities and towns and industrial parks. The only way you know something is over there is due to the church spire towering above the trees, or a fast glimpsed solar panel through the canopy. Then, in a heartbeat, everything changes. The trees open up to wide, expansive fields dotted with cows, sheep, and horses. A quiet lake surrounded by tall reeds erupts in activity as a gaggle of geese takes off in flight.

There was a time I looked at the neat rows of trees here in the Netherlands and thought yuck, gimme real forests. Everything looked too manicured, too tamed to my eye. I was used to horizon-to-horizon openness: wide skies, nature, and not another human to be seen. But after spending a large portion of my life near such untamed wildness, I find now that I appreciate all the landscaping the Dutch have done. There are paths through the land here. Paths that can take a bicyclist or walker from one side of the country to the other. Paths that are well laid, and lit at night. Paths that wind you around those trees and quiet lakes, through the fields dotted with animals, past every sight worth seeing. Tired? Thirsty? Need to pee? Undoubtedly the Dutch have thought of that, too, and if you just hang on for another five minutes you’ll see the bench laid out to sit on (conveniently under a large tree that offers its shade to travelers), or the cafe with cold drinks and hot sandwiches, or the public toilets that are always kept clean and well stocked.

These little niceties are especially appreciated after 14 years in Ireland, where sitting was an irregularity…

When we finally made the beach, it was like some long forgotten scene of a by-gone era. Sun parasols dotted the sand, a look I always associate with “olden times”. Some kids flew kites. A couple of boys kicked a football around. Kids and adults alike licked ice cream cones and sucked cool drinks. Dogs played in the surf. Despite it being only 20C (70F), most people were out in their bathing suits, determined that since it was summer, they’d treat it like summer, no matter how many goose bumps they got from the chilly off-shore wind.

And it was clean. Maybe the cleanest beach I’ve ever seen.

We were told it was ‘just a beach’. What we found was a lively on-sand mini-town. There were fancy vacation homes if you wanted full time sun and sand. A row of cheap fast food, then better sit down meals, then clubs with alcohol and entertainment. Shops to buy stuff at, arcades to throw away your euro on. And a long stretch of sand dunes, guaranteed to hide walkers, bikers, and lovers from prying eyes.

Up, and down. Out to the end of the breakwater, to watch the waves crash over the gigantic rocks laid down like a giant’s building blocks scattered along the way. Half a dozen hardy fisherman cast their long poles, teasing the hidden fish swimming amongst the seaweed.  A double toot from an outgoing passenger liner, people standing along the railing waving at those of us still on land.

The most disappointing thing of the day was our fish, bought from a stand on the beach. Expensive, and not nearly as good as the guy who has a stand by our house.

Today, I am back to more normal activities. The gym, obviously. Walking in the sand for three hours is good exercise, but it isn’t the cross trainer. Need to get to the printer and have a hard copy of my play printed up. Haven’t looked at it for days; giving my brain and my eyes a good rest before the final editing process. Gotta run my lines, too. Been neglecting that.

Telling myself good things are coming. They’re om de hoek.

I know it

Editing. Formatting. All that crazy shit a writer does that makes our eyes go wonky. Honestly, sometimes I think I stare so long at the computer screen my eyes dry up completely. It even hurts to blink.

All of that is good. Well, maybe not good as in good for me, but definitely good as in I’m on the right track. And way the hell ahead of my deadlines.

Had occasion to pause and bless my brother the other day. He’d met with R, his friend, in the morning. In the afternoon, he came home and told me: our appeal was rejected by immigration. Without skipping a beat, he informed me he’s already met with lawyers and accountants, and a clear plan of action has already been instigated, so, keep cool and relax. We are re-applying this year. Basically, starting our entire residency over again from day one. It’ll cost. Naturally. But our team has informed us it’s the way to move forward – and, apparently, a fool proof plan. There are no grounds to reject us if we re-apply.

I heard that, and the first thing I thought was ‘he doesn’t trust me with the news; he had to get everything settled before telling me’. Second thing was ‘Goddess, what other action could tell me how much he cares about me? He didn’t want to throw me or worry me or have me slip into a depression. He kept it from me until he had answers.’ My mind has settled on the second thought, and once again I find myself feeling small and petty for any and every argument I’ve ever brought up against him. Here I am, bitching because I think he doesn’t always listen to me or do the dishes in a timely manner, and there he is, dealing with extremely stressful questions about our future and not wanting to stress me out. And when I asked him why he didn’t tell me immediately, he simply answered: I knew you were upset about L, and I didn’t want to add to your worries.

Small. Teensy-tiny. Miniscule. Whip out your microscope and see me cringe.

Yesterday was a day out. (And here’s another thing about my bro, if you don’t already think he’s fabulous.) Every once in a while, my bro takes me out. Gets me out of the house, forces me to go downtown, eat a meal in public, walk around. We window shop, he encourages me to look at new clothes, once in a while we buy something. Yesterday we were on a mission for new headphones for both of us. Into Media Markt by Alexandrium. Wall of headphones. I chose a mid range set – not the cheapest, but not the most dear, either. Then an attempted casual ‘since we’re here, why don’t we look at entertainment?’ from my bro. Upstairs to DVD heaven. They were having a massive sale; found dozens of films for only five euro each. Walked out without spending too much, yet still have loads of hours of good watching. Then it was off to Papaya – literally, a little buffet type hole in the wall. But Goddess! THE best food ever. Came home to that companionable feeling we have after a fun day out. We laughed a little easier, talked a little more animated – all because we got out of the apartment for the afternoon.

And, I got a new hoodie. One that doesn’t look old or scruffy. One that hasn’t been washed a thousand times. Might go back and buy a nice blouse. Something that’s NOT a T-shirt. I’ve only got a few non-T-shirt shirts; I’d like some more.

Today I must tackle the housework. It’s piled up. I’ve managed to keep up on dishes and the big stuff, but the floor -! I can’t even consider getting down to do abdominal exercises with all that crap lying around. It’s too dirty. So I’ve lined up a day of hoovering a dusting, washing and ironing. Probably won’t get to the gym because of it.

Oh! And I have an answer. Anything I ever fantasized about my very cute physiotherapist was all one-sided. During my last appointment, we talked about the upcoming play – and I teased him that I have a whole two months to convince him to come to one of the performances. Hitch. I could feel it. His response: I’ll think about coming. Not sure, I’d love to come! So, now I know. Any interest on his part should have resulted in a bit more enthusiasm in his reply. I dithered on at the appointment. I said how I don’t know many people, how it would be good to have some support, etc. Tried to mitigate the disaster I just opened up. Oh, well. Can’t feel too bad about it. I am talking the production up, and I am inviting everyone I say more than two words to (other than shop workers; I often say five or six words to them, but I’m not inviting every cashier I meet). I tried, you know? Put it out there. I suppose it’s better to know for sure than to wonder forever if…. If. That wonderful two letter word! In my mind, it only becomes a curse if you put ‘only’ behind it: if only…. Do that, and you might as well shoot yourself in the foot. But if…Truly, that word sums up all that we can be.

I digress.

…I may sit at a unique crossroads in my life. Don’t know that I’ve ever received such not so good news yet still felt so okay about it. I mean…I’m not happy about the residency thing. The idea that we’ll need to cough up thousands yet again in order to stay here doesn’t sit well with me. But we will be able to stay. Right now, that’s everything. As for my fantasizing…A little bit of that, especially (ouch!) at my age probably isn’t such a bad thing. But I don’t necessarily want that to manifest into my reality. I’m too busy with my own life to share it with anyone else right now.

I’m 51. And selfish.

I know it.

That’s life

Life has returned. My memories are back in the closet, not forgotten, but filed away. Time to move on.

Writing is going well. Not enough time to do it lately. Seems it’s all run this errand, pick that up, and of course the ever present necessity to get to the gym and move so I don’t hurt so much. Haven’t even cleaned the house in I don’t know how long, and it shows it.

Today I’m keeping to my life commitment. Heading out with my brother to the comic book shop. Say hi to the guys. Hang out. Talk. Be a part of the world. Got to keep in practice with that, at least a little bit, or I’ll forget how to do it.

Been feeling very alone and lonely. The two don’t always go together, but right now they do. In the wake of my reaction to the news about L, I feel friendless. Want to change that, but I find my physical condition works against me. Last time I tried to schedule a get together with potential friends I woke up with laryngitis. Shit happens. Just the excitement of looking forward to getting out and meeting people can make me ill. Do that enough times to a potential new friend and they lose interest in pursuing a friendship. Seen it happen.

And I don’t like this double life I live. The reality is, my health isn’t good. I do fall ill very easily. I’m not strong. But then there’s my gym life: the nods and notice I get while working out. Maybe they’re not all dyin’ to do me, but they do acknowledge I work hard (beginning to think that most of the smiles I receive are ‘she’s a tough old bird’ type of thing). Most people drop out after an hour of exercise. Most people are shocked and think two hours is extreme. Oh, god, I could never make it for two hours! Then they look me up and down, decide that maybe not all physical strength translates into slim, tight bodies, and put me in that ‘healthy as hell’ category, which I do not deserve to be in.

…At least my physiotherapist understands.

Speaking of, looking forward to seeing him next week. Realized a long time ago our sessions are half physio and half talk therapy. Why can I do that? Why am I so open with someone like him, yet so closed if I see someone called ‘therapist’? One of those mysteries about myself I’d like to solve. …I need him on both levels right now. Despite my physical movement, I’ve got some pain building up. And although I don’t know what I’m going to say, I do know I’ll probably bring up L.

Been a few months since I’ve been able to get my hair done. Upshot is, I’ve got grey showing. Maybe for the first time in my life. A couple of silver hairs by each temple. I’ve looked at it closely in the mirror. It’s not unattractive. In fact, I find myself more distressed by the shaggy outgrowth look I’ve got right now than those grey hairs. …Don’t think I should wear my hair this long. It looks strange on my face. A 20 something tousled hair style on a 50 something woman. But what am I supposed to do? That’s my hair. It just looks that way, naturally. Hope to get it all spruced up before September.

Have not worn my orthopedics, despite the cooler weather. Do not want to wear my orthopedics. My cheap tennis shoes (with added insoles) are lovely: they give me plenty of support, and they don’t bite my feet at all. Plus they were a quarter of the cost of my orthopedics. But I’ll need to get back on that. No use in doing it in August; this entire country goes on holidays. Another thing to write in for September.

Bought some cheap eye gel and dark circle remover. Cosmetics that promise the impossible. But I figure any improvement is an improvement. And I’m guessing it helps to just go through the motions. Applying lotions, massaging them in – that’s a form of self love. I care enough about myself to do this, it says. Or at least that’s how I see it. So, I’m doing it, and hoping it will buy me a few years of looking not so tired and worn out.

Have let myself off the hook for tomorrow’s exercise. My bro is on me to read the final chapters in his book, one of the comic book guys leant me a run of stories by George Romero, and of course I have my own writing to get to. Today will largely be shot, between traveling to and fro and all the time spent visiting. Tomorrow is my make-up day: do the writing I should be doing today, finish up those comics, and start reading my brother’s work.

Wish these things didn’t always pile up on me.

…Wish I could just say no like so many people have said to me. I’m too busy with my own shit. Deal.

And that takes me right back to who I want to be. Do I want to be that person who’s always too busy for friends? Do I want to show the people I care about that I care about them, or will I just perpetuate that lip service shit my family gave to me? It always comes up for me at times like this. And I get angry, and pout, and whine that it isn’t fair, isn’t fair, isn’t fair…

But that’s life.

Never quite whole again

Went to the gym. Did dishes, made my bed. All that stuff I promised I’d get back to – I did it. Even opened up my script and wrote 2000 words.

And it felt right to get back to the day to day. Solid, real. Reminded myself where I am. When I am. Who I am.

But I am still mourning, and it’s a private grief. There is not one person in my life today who met L, so for them it’s like saying a celebrity died – distant and cerebral. Even heard from someone I shared my sob story with, who said just that, which is why I bring it up…because the statement felt cold. Really? You’ll compare my losing someone I spent every day of my 20s with the death of a celebrity? You think that compares? Cold.

Maybe I’m just being a bitch. Maybe the person who said that really did get shaken down to their bones. Maybe, in secret, they flew off to the UK and spent many long afternoons and evenings with their hero, David Bowie. Maybe they remember Bowie shooting pool with them. Being at their side when their parents died. Maybe they spent hours on the phone, all hours of the day or night, talking. Just like I did with L.

Or maybe not.

No one says ‘I love you’ to me. Not even in writing. I do. I tell people I love them at the end of my letters. That is, I tell them I love them if I truly do love them. I don’t just write it for everyone. It’s a select bunch, I’ll give you that. Not many I’d say it to. And I know not everyone is comfortable saying it. Not everyone can say it, even in the written word. There are several people in my life who aren’t in the habit of saying it, yet I know they care about me because of how they treat me. They are there for me, consistently. To talk, to help, to console. They never say ‘why are we talking about this again’ or ‘gee, I just don’t have time to deal with your crises anymore’.

Still. I’d like to hear the words echoed back to me.

Writing has become a thing. A real thing in my life. Not something I do when the mood strikes me, but something I sit and do regardless of my mood. And thank you, Goddess, for it! Hours typing away, creating dialogue and story lines…hours I don’t think about myself, or my sorrow, or the (possible) lack of love in my life.

I think I could finally write for a living now. Punch in the hours, type in the words.

The script is going well. Strong. Strong characters, strong statements. I need to modify a few things in Act 1. Add in one or two historical references. Make sure I’m not using contractions (I know I have to comb over the beginning for those). But I don’t want to modify Act 1 yet. Keep moving forward. Get through the whole thing. Otherwise, I run the risk of spending the rest of the week editing Act 1 – which is truly silly, since I haven’t written the end yet. Finish it off, THEN go back and tinker with the beginning. You know that!

Go! Write! Forget!

Forget.

Strange how I bury my sorrow in words that remember.

Today is another gym day. Get my ass over there and sweat. Regret, after 7 minutes, getting on the cross trainer. Feel I’m gonna vomit after 20 minutes on said cross trainer. Then over that hump. Into the endorphins. Smile, when my legs burn. Laugh at the sweat dripping off me. I wonder if L kept up on exercise. Is this the reason I’m living longer than my mates? Because I get off on it? Do I have an addictive side that’s so hung up on exercise highs I return to physical activity throughout my life in order to feed my need?

Fucking hell. Can I finally turn that weakness into a strength?

Find my soul a little more forgiving. My urge to grasp happiness a bit more conscious and aware. My weaknesses are not insurmountable mountains in my path, hampering my every move, but flat spaces of nothingness I can build on.

If the value of a person lies in the lessons they teach us, L was valued very highly, indeed.

No wonder they say growing old is scary. It sure as fuck is! Hearing about or, worse yet, seeing the people you know and care about die – fucking die – is terrifying.

…People want to talk so much about money and finances these days. What’s your 401K look like? How much is in your portfolio? But no one ever talks about our emotional investments. How we invest so much in the people in our lives. Not just the big memories, but the day to day stuff. The dreams, even. Dreams of them, of seeing them again. And when we lose someone, we go bankrupt. Immediately. All of that is lost. The comfortable chit-chat and grousing over our routines. The irritating habits we snap at each other for, then later regret mentioning. The things we think we’d like to be rid of, and the things we think we can’t live without. Gone, in an instant.

We are left in an open wound of love and sorrow, and facing the huge obstacle of putting our lives back together again. But we are missing a piece.

And while working a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle maybe be fun even if a piece is missing, the picture is never complete.

We are never quite whole again.

Vigil

The internet is so not free. Nor open. Searching for an old friend from overseas is frustrating, to say the least.

I have an address and land line.

I also found a death notice that claims L died at the age of 45.

Searched for an obit. All afternoon. Found nothing. Plenty of places I could cough some money up to, places that may or may not have any further info on her. No word from the message I sent out to her daughter. Found her husband, after a prolonged search. His online status lists him in a relationship with someone other than my friend.

I’m thinking of dialing that land line number this afternoon.

…Not even sure I want to know the truth. In some ways, people who live only in your memory are already dead. You think of them in terms of the past.

Keep telling myself it’s just an online mix up. One of those bullshit things that happen. I searched for her name and a death certificate; obviously, some site out there is gonna claim to have one. Thinking how silly I’ll feel if I call and she picks up. Of course she’s still there in Wisconsin. Of course she’s alive. How silly, how silly!

Yet…we’re talking about someone who was working with computers before computers became the thing. I have a difficult time believing she would have no social pages, no posts, no professional links whatsoever if she were alive.

Dead? At 45? That would make it 2010. Seven years ago.

And what does that make me? If ever you’d ask me, I would have said L was my best friend ever. Never had another connection with anyone that rivaled the bond between us. If she’s been dead for seven years…and I didn’t even know…

Can’t wrap my head around this. I’m in denial.

Want to find her photograph in my pile of memories. Look at her face. Demand her to be alive, be real.

…Goddess. I have to make that phone call.

Is it silly to mourn so belatedly?

The strange thing is, when people from your past die, a part of your memory dies. All those things we did, we crazy 20 something young women – now, maybe, I’m the only one to carry those memories. There is no one to reminisce with. The memories becomes stories, the stories become legend, the legend fades away and becomes forgotten. Somehow, thinking of L as alive – even tho we lost touch and hadn’t spoken for years, even tho we parted on less than ideal terms – it made the world a little less cold. There was someone out there who remembered me.

Now…now I have a four hour wait before I can dial the phone. A four hour wait to think, and remember.

A vigil. Light a candle, and pray like hell.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Remember to take down time for yourself. It works. I know it sucks! But this is the fastest you’ve recovered. A scant 48 hours. That’s two days, not two weeks. Think about it.

Found L’s daughter. Goddess only knows what I was thinking. Twenty-five years on. Must have been all that sitting around, waiting to feel better. Must have got sentimental. Crap! Sent out a note. Why, why, why? Last time I saw L she was all born again. Could not stand to be in her company much. That came more from her sanctimonious blame (and subsequent forgiveness) of me than her choice of church. You’re to blame for me doing this, but I forgive you… One more example of getting the weight of the world shoved on my shoulders. So why did I write? Why open that up? Why see if anything of the person I used to know is there anymore? I already know the answer: no.

The accusation…I agree I was wild. Wilder than wild. I’m sorry if hanging out with me and being my friend at that time in my life made you feel pressured to do anything you didn’t want to do. But the reality is I never forced you. You left, in fact, after our fight – and headed to Phoenix, where you went deeper into the muck than I ever wanted to go. Crystal meth. I still remember that phone call at 3 a.m. You were really jacked up. I was 1000 miles away.

Still want to blame me?

…Maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s what’s bugging me. The unsaid words on my part. Will a quarter century of experience temper her reply? Or will she still blame me, still point fingers, and simply turn away?

I miss the person I knew. I will always think of her as my friend, even tho at this point we’ve spent more years not being friends than our time together as comrades. Makes me sad because I’ve never had another friend like L.

I remember L as a woman of conditions. Certain lines drawn in the sand, never to be crossed. I also remember L as wild as myself, without any prompting by me. A pool hustler that convinced me to get my first and only tattoo. The chick in literature class I with whom I smoked my first on-campus joint. She was, in truth, the brave one of the two of us. It was her drive that first got me into the gym, her determination that took her half way across the country, while I looked on in awe and tried desperately to keep up.

Now we’re old. She has a grown daughter. And I think I still need to say a few things to her. Most of all, I want to acknowledge that yes, I was screwed up back then. Very much. So much so I didn’t know how much. I’ll take responsibility for that. And I am truly sorry if she felt pressured into anything during that time. I don’t remember it that way. But I’m willing to admit that my memories are not the only ones in question here. She saw what she saw, and felt what she felt.

…Maybe I’m looking for confirmation on my character. Character witnesses. Maybe I’m trying to absolve myself of past sins. Honestly don’t know. But I think there are unsaid things on my part, which is why I kept looking for her for so long.

I guess if there’s people you can’t let go of, you probably have something you need to tell them. I never told my mother what a bitch she was, ergo, my mother issues. Never fully called out my sister on her lying and cheating. Never said a lot of things to a lot of people – mostly because I couldn’t at those times in my life. Couldn’t articulate what was going on with me. And those people return to me. Their words haunt me, the memories of injustices left unchallenged drives me mad. Sometimes so much that I have to search them out, find them, say what needs to be said, because writing it out for myself just don’t cut it. It doesn’t release me from my bonds. I have to put it out there. I owe it to the younger me.

Gods, I’m scared.

What if it doesn’t work? I’m expecting some lightening of my load here. Some part of me thinks I’ll breathe easier after saying whatever it is I think I need to say. Will it? I think if I can address those times when I’ve been accused of more than I’m guilty of, perhaps I’ll view myself in a better light. Stop beating myself up so much. It’s hard, though. Hard to say I’m a little bit guilty. In my experience, once you admit to any bit of guilt you might as well go hang yourself. You’re guilty, full on, no exceptions, go straight to the guillotine. Or, just shove your toes in the fire. We’ll turn them as we sit fit.

Guess I can’t lose much of anything.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

In my mind

Opened up my outline and began writing in earnest this week. I feel almost as if I’m writing a term paper. My outline is so detailed I can’t stray far from it, so it’s just check the next line, think, and write it out. My biggest stumbling block right now is my determined decision to use zero contractions when my characters talk. It’s a little dialogue trick to emphasize the people are not native English speakers. But I don’t want to sound stilted or weird, so I must think from time to time and turn my phrases so they sound both foreign and natural (using Tolstoy as a big example). In other words, I must think more like a Russian in my dialogue. It’s a mind set I can use, but it’s like anything else: once my head is there, it’s difficult to pull out. My inner dialogue has shifted to a bad Russian accent (much like Moose and Squirrel), and I find myself giggling over idioms and sayings running thru my brain.

But I’m discouraged, even as I write. The Russian allegations, the hysteria, the hacking and propaganda accusations – Gods, I’d have to be Hemingway to get this play produced in today’s clime.

I’m still putting my all into it.

Realized more than ever that my first act must be both introduction to and education about these women. Too many people I speak to have never even heard of this regiment. So the first act may be the furthest from the ‘truth’. I have to explain the situation, their bad equipment, the sexism and opposition, and why the regiment was formed in the first place all thru dialogue. In real life, this was all known. In the script, we have to allow the audience to discover this – educate them. It’s a fine line, to give all that info without being heavy handed. But I think I’m managing to do it, through personal perspectives and stories.

Case in point: the soviet agent. Every soviet regiment had an agent, called the Politruk, attached to it. The Politruk was the long arm of communism. Often times, they were harsh and unforgiving – and just as suspicious of their troops as they were of the enemy. But how many Americans know that? How many would even recognize the word ‘Politruk’? Not many. So I introduce the term, but make it clear thru the dialogue exactly what this person’s role was in the military. A similar thing happened with the woman responsible for forming this regiment. No one in the US (or very, very few) will know who she is, even tho she’s a well known aviation star in Russia. So I have to give some background on her, explain why she’s a big deal – even tho she’s not even in the play. Her story is related thru another character’s personal history – this is the woman who inspired the character, who showed her that women can be more than just mothers and wives.

The entire first act will just be introducing all the characters, their relationships to one another, and enough historical information so the audience will understand the story. Like I said, I gotta stick to that outline. Eleven characters to give fully rounded roles to…that takes a lot of words.

Today’s a pimple on the ass of summer. We’ve had several cool days, back in the mid 20s. Today’s temp is shooting up to 30 or higher, out of the blue. And we’re supposed to pop with severe thunderstorms later on this evening. I sure hope so. My tiny bedroom always stays three to five degrees warmer than anywhere else in the house.

Off, soon, to the gym. Get my arse moving. Hopefully after that, I’ll still have a few hours to tinker with the script and get some more work done.

Heard from my acting partner, who is working as an extra in an upcoming film. Passed my head shot on to him, and he promised to pass it on to the casting director. Also heard from the director’s girlfriend, who put together the promo poster. While she wants to use photos of all of us in various promotional shots, they’ve decided to keep the photo with me and my partner as THE picture. Think I’ll get a large print out for my wall. I’m pleased she responded; never sure how that relationship is going. Doing my best to be warm, friendly, and non-threatening.

And I gotta ask a Dutch native about something. A Dutch guy, specifically. Some of the young men who work at the gym have a habit of winking at me every time I’m in there. I get winks when I check in, and winks when I leave. Honestly, I don’t know if that’s a ‘hey, you’re an older woman but you’re a tough broad, so I’ll give you a wink’ or a ‘hey, you’re an older woman and I’d like to do you’ thing. Or maybe it’s just a thing shop owners do. The Dutch say hello to me as I walk far more than other nationalities. So maybe winking at regular customers is just a friendly gesture. A ‘we’re all in this together’ thing. I don’t know. Wish I wasn’t so dumb about these things.

Very little thought to anything that frightens me. Too wrapped up in everything else. That’s good; saving me from needless anxiety. I worry sometimes that I use my work to distract me from all that. That all I’m really doing is pushing it away.

But, hey. A little distance from my fear isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a mental holiday from myself. Leave those doubts behind. Allow myself to feel powerful for a little bit. Sexy, even.

So in answer to the ever-present summer question are you going away on holiday?, the answer is I already am on holiday. In my mind.

A Nod to Vanity

Forgot for a few days to check with the theatre group about all those pictures. Signed in and found the above, set as THE advertisement for the play.

Yes, that’s me on the left.

After all my moaning and thinking I wouldn’t even MAKE the promotional picture, here it is. Just me and my acting partner (there’s 8 of us in the cast). Can’t help but feel it’s a nod from the group, here’s the people you really want to come and see. Popped a note off to the director’s girlfriend, who did the poster, and thanked her for all her work. Yeah, she’s got PhotoShop and yeah, it’s a simple posterization of the original photo with a few words thrown over the whole thing. Nonetheless, I know what it’s like to work on the behind the scenes – often a thankless job. So I thanked her, and told her I was really jazzed and honored.

So far, no reply.

I’ve thought about using the pic as the desktop for my computer. I probably won’t; that’s more than a nod to vanity, that’s an outright leg-spread.

Can I say, though, that I’m more than pleased to see this picture of myself and say I DON’T view myself as fat? Maybe I’m not a stick, but I’m not a balloon, either. Photographic proof. I have this bad habit of hanging my sister’s body off my head in my mind – obese. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been around many full-length mirrors. Maybe it’s because my mother treated me as a mini version of my sister: matching clothes, hair, and even (reputedly) naming me after her.

But I’m NOT my sister. Nor my mother. That’s a unique person in that picture. Truly unique.

One other thing. I usually don’t pull my hair back from my face like that. Since I was 15, my bangs generally hang low over my face, half obscuring it. It makes me feel safe. Hidden. But I like the way I look with my hair pulled back. It’s open, inviting. Friendly. To me, that looks like someone you could walk up to and begin a conversation. Ask for directions. Comment on the weather while waiting for the metro.

Am I finally seeing myself the way other people see me?

Got to the gym for exercise. Feel much better for doing it. Blew all the calories I burned by buying and eating several fancy little cakes. I know! I know. Counter-productive. And it’s an old coping mechanism. But I have to admit, the past few days with the memory of feeling good, performing well, and now the picture…It’s brought up a few things for me. More than a few things. In fact, it’s brought me right back to my formative years. That frightened and angry kid. Frightened because I half believed my mother, and thought maybe I wasn’t good enough. Angry because I knew it wasn’t right. You don’t do that to someone you care about. So I turned to that old comfort: sugary treats. I’m not proud of it. But I can admit the truth.

And the pic threw me. Got too excited after seeing it. Too wound up. Set my head off on that manic streak again. I allowed it, again. In fact, I vow to do it completely different from the manner I was brought up. Acting wasn’t something that taxed you, and if you took time off after performing you were lazy and weak. That’s not true, of course. And it drove me to many unnecessary illnesses while growing up. Now, it’s an automatic down for several days. It’s an automatic assumption I’ve caught something and need to fill up on vitamins, juice, and hearty food. And the manic thoughts…let them come. They vanish, eventually. Fade back into the half-dreams I console myself with as I fall asleep. But they are not wrong, and I am not wrong for having them. Nor am I wrong for being so wound up after performing that I can’t sleep. Many performers go through that.

I feel bad for my parents, on some levels. They were small, provincial. Their worlds were tiny. My understanding of that brings compassion: they didn’t know any better. I recognize they did the best they could with the day to day. Still angry over the outcome, though. Won’t make any bones about that.

This is all so new. Feeling good about me, and what I’m doing. Taking care of myself while feeling good about all of it. Reaching new levels of understanding. Feeling like I’m letting go of some stuff. Does the past matter now? It gives me a certain perspective. And that perspective colors everything I do. So, yes. But also no. My mother’s doubts, her lack of support and self-centeredness…that’s melting into the background.

I’m not afraid to look in the mirror these days. I see ME. Still beautiful, still vital, always talented.

That kind of talk would have meant a sharp reprimand when I was a kid. Vain! Don’t be vain! There’s always someone better than you, more talented than you, funnier than you. You’ve nothing to be vain about!

But a nod to vanity isn’t always a bad thing, either.