Francis-stein

Allowed that despair to overtake me yesterday. Just for a moment or two. Enough time to sob deeply and feel a tear drop from my eye. Then I shook myself, sighed, and went to the gym.

Exercise has become a time waster. A thing to keep me from smoking. Not a thing I enjoy. Not a thing I do to get in shape or lose weight. Just a thing that keeps me out of the house, away from my ashtray. The goal is to spend as much of the afternoon at the gym as possible.

Hope to tire myself out. Get back here and almost fall asleep for the rest of the day. Wouldn’t need to smoke then. Wouldn’t need to do anything, other than chill.

Doesn’t quite work, of course. The more I do, the better shape I’m in, the longer it takes to tire me out. Half hour on the cross trainer. Half hour on the treadmill. Half hour on the bikes. Half hour on the free weights. Was surprised all evening long. Kept expecting my eyes to close while watching tv. Nope. Wide awake.

Telling myself I shouldn’t feel all wimpy and weak. My stamina has improved. I’ve moved up settings on everything, including heavier free weights because a 15 year old BOY had to go and pick up the lightest free weights in the gym to exercise. Really, kid? I didn’t want to, but I picked up the 4 kilo weights and started working – after I shot him a dirty look. He’s a healthy BOY CHILD and should be working harder. I’m an OLD WOMAN and should be working less.

Gave a lot of thought to what I wrote about yesterday. Thought so much about it I think I might have handled one of those disagreement points better than usual. It came up in conversation. I could hear it in our words and the slightly harder edge in my brother’s voice. My head said ‘this is one of those times when he feels you’re not hearing him’. So I stopped trying to get my point across. I acknowledged what he said ‘I hear you, and agree’. I dropped the pitch and volume of my voice. And I heard him stumble a moment, expecting a fight and getting none. Then he dropped his voice volume and tone, and suddenly that horrible argument moment was over and done with without our getting into a shouting and/or blaming match.

….And no, it didn’t escape me that in handling and defusing the situation I had zero opportunity to speak my own mind. That could be an issue, so I hope nothing too important comes up. This whole thing began in part because I feel un-listened to. While I’m very pleased to have no arguments or bad feelings to overcome this morning, as far as the subject goes my brother has NO IDEA HOW I FEEL ABOUT IT. He’s assuming I feel one way or another because I haven’t spoken up. But I can’t speak up without causing an argument. And I can’t prevent and argument AND speak up. That’s two conflicting things for me. Either I concentrate on keeping the peace or I speak my mind. And if I continually choose to keep the peace, I end up feeling like my opinions and thoughts don’t matter anyway – which is exactly what started the whole fucking thing in the first place.

Why does this shit always fall to women? I never hear men talk about compromising themselves in order to keep the peace with someone. NEVER. They just bulldoze over. Me, me, me. Hear me. Listen to me. Honor MY fucking opinion. Oh, you have one too? Well, that’s just silly. You should think like me. You do, don’t you? Oh…you don’t? What’s wrong with you?

Round and round. Get ready, women. If you haven’t hit this shit in life yet, prepare yourself. It’s gonna happen, and you’ll be blamed no matter what you do. It’s what men do. How they react. It’s their fragile male egos, which we pamper and coddle because some of us like to get penises shoved up our vaginas. Or maybe all of you put up with it because you think you need men. We don’t, you know. Plenty of sperm in the sperm banks. We can kill every man on this planet and be just fine. Better than fine, with their male egos out of the way. We can make real peace, real change. And never, ever let another person with a penis think they’re better than us. Never, ever let them take over again. Return to a matriarchal society. Burn every book that uses ‘he’ as a gender neutral pronoun or ‘mankind’ to describe humanity. Destroy every testosterone driven film. And yes, cut off all the dicks of every male ever born because frankly I’d find it cathartic.

Right about now is the time when some man usually pops up and asks ‘are you a dyke?’

No, for the record, I’m straight. I just see men the way they really are. Oh, got a problem with that? Can’t reconcile the idea of a strong willed woman who’s not gay? You are so immature.

But that, of course, is just another male put down. Oh, if a woman has a strong opinion, she must be a lesbian. Regular women don’t talk like that. Real women don’t think like that. I’m rolling my eyes as I type.

No wonder I remained single all my life. Sure, part of it was choice. Part of it wasn’t. No one ever wanted to spend their life with me. And I suppose that’s got to do with having a strong opinion. Dad told me long ago that I’d scare men off. Too smart, too opinionated, too outspoken.

Odd, then, because he’s the man who made me this way. Encouraged me to think, to debate, to challenge his viewpoint at every opportunity.

I feel like a freak. Some Francis-stein that’s half modern woman and half old fashioned lady. Don’t know where I fit in, don’t know HOW to fit in.

Hanging on

Communication is a two way process. You can talk and talk and talk, but if you’re not communicating, nothing’s going to change.

I’ve been accused of being a poor communicator because sometimes (oh, goddess forbid!) I use uncommon words. Which means I dig below the surface layer of the average vocabulary and pull out a word that fits my definition perfectly rather than being a half-assed synonym.

Okay. I get that. If I use an unfamiliar term with no supporting language, it could be difficult to figure out what I’m driving at.

And that statement should hold true for everyone.

But, alas! In my household, it’s not. I am held accountable for my ‘high language’ as well as not understanding ‘common slang that everyone uses’.

This is coming from my brother, and it’s something I really hate about his communication style. Don’t know if he can accept he’s blaming me both ways, or at least that the words and facial expressions he chooses to use make me feel that way. I’ve done my best to say that. He doesn’t hear it, no matter what words I use.

And herein lies my problem, people. I’m damned well aware this is NOT a healthy communication style and it’s not good for me or my damaged self. Every time we come to loggerheads over something along this line I’m left feeling angry and unheard. Dissed. And of course my damaged brain goes that step further – it must be because he just tolerates me, he really doesn’t care, he’d rather I leave, etc., etc.

I hold onto something else, though. The idea that he does care, that this is just a left-over from our poor upbringing. My brother has seen me through some terrible times. Physically and emotionally. He’s watched me break, cried by my side for my unending self-hate, bolstered up my ego as much as humanly possible – all these actions say he does care, that my brain is turning on me, that I must keep my faith.

It’s difficult. Difficult to have my feeling conflict with the evidence at hand. Am I not being petty? Should I not call this what it is – a learned behavior of poor communication and blame? Is it not on me to rise above it, find a new way? He’s probably just as frustrated by these disagreements as I am.

Where do you draw the line?

They say you can’t fight every fight, and that’s an adage that holds true. You can’t. It’s exhausting.

But how does someone like me, who knows they’ve got issues and triggers, find that balance? Can I honestly say I’m reacting to all of this in a balanced and well rounded manner? Hell no! I’m being triggered by a billion things, including a lot of very old family shit. So am I doing that knee jerk reaction when I shouldn’t be? Or am I justified in my feelings?

Round and round with this question. I can never make up my mind.

Maybe it’s a bit of both. He’s wrong AND I’m wrong. He’s right AND I’m right. We both have valid points. And perhaps I never feel my point of view is acknowledged by him because he never feels I acknowledge his point of view. That’s what I’d expect a therapist to say. If you want to be listened to, listen to other people.

I just don’t know how so many things can get turned around to feel like it’s my fault no matter what I do or say.

Speaking of my fault, I grumbled the other night over my dental hygiene routine. Takes a long time every day, especially after some of the problems I’ve had. Heard this reply: “Well, maybe if you’d taken care of your teeth like this from the start you would’t have had all those problems.”

My brother was quick to follow up with all the advances in dental hygiene, how the tools we commoners can access are so much better…. All I heard was it’s my fault. My fault, I deserve it. All of it.

Made me wonder if I’d hear something similar, lying in hospital battling cancer. My fear says yes.

I don’t want to be blind-sided by that kind of thing.

The worst of all of it is my powerlessness. I have zero control. I’m only here under the graces of my brother, who’s basically supporting me right now. Chances of getting and holding a real job are very slim. I’m old, and my health is bad. I have no income, no savings, nothing of value to offer or sell.

I don’t think often on that part of reality, because it throws me into panic. But…and…this is why I say it’s better for me to just check out.

My brother, however, weaseled a promise out of me at one point. A promise to hang on, no matter what. To not voluntarily check out early.

When everything else goes haywire, that’s my rock. I sling a rope around that idea and hang on for dear life.

I’m hanging on now.

Fear is a weighty burden

Five a.m., 23 degrees. My eyes wanted to keep sleeping, but my head hit that anger button – hard. One moment I was tossing and turning in my bed, trying to get comfortable, the next I was half dreaming of a family reunion and running towards my bitch of an older sister to repeatedly smash her in the face. How I would love to do that. I’d hit her and hit her, until blood flowed. Then I’d hit her some more, until my hands broke. That’s how much I hate that bitch. Physical violence, all the way. Killing her by any means other than wrapping my hands around her overly-fat neck and squeezing wouldn’t be satisfactory. It’s harsh, but true.

And of course I want the truth to come out. How everything she accused me of was her projecting her faults onto me. I want the family to see it, to KNOW that to be true. I want vindication.

I am unlikely to get any.

I know I’m scared right now. Somehow the lid on that container got taken off, too. Been having small panic attacks over the last 24 hours. Been thinking about walking off and allowing myself to die. Holding on, but it’s getting harder. I’m slipping.

Falling into summer depression mode.

Telling myself right now that it’s temporary. Somehow, though, the thought that I’m only ever REALLY okay for a few months in spring and a few months in autumn makes me feel that this is my default, and those few blessed months away from self-doubt and overwhelming anger aren’t my true baseline.

Naturally, my body reflects my horrid self-image. My psoriasis has gone wild, and my feet look like they belong to a leper. Just in time for summer sandals. It’s even spread to my hands again, which makes me very self-conscious. I feel fat and bloated. Hate my hunger; my body’s too fat, it doesn’t need to eat! Wish I could live on popsicles alone. They’re cold and sweet, and only 40 calories each.

Have to sit thru a language lesson this morning. Don’t want to. I’ll give myself props where props are due: in the past few days I’ve overheard some Dutch – mostly from the tv – and understood. That’s overhearing understanding, not concentrating understanding. Big difference. Maybe I don’t know many Dutch words, but a few have wormed their way into my subconscious. I don’t need to think about them; I KNOW. Been picking up my Dutch book to read at night, too. Don’t feel I’m doing well, or reading fast, or getting everything. Need to re-read some passages a couple of times. At least I’m trying.

Got my first script rejection yesterday, too. That doesn’t help. I know – one more notch in the belt, right? I’ll add it to my pile of rejections (someday, when I’m famous, I’ll wallpaper a room with all of those rejections and make interviewers walk through it before talking to me). Felt a bit like all my mental defenses came crashing down, tho. I had that *whimper* why try? in my head. Yeah, well…get ready. Sent out to a lot of places during my last up phase. I’ll probably see the fruits of that come back to me now, when I least need it.

I’m worried I’ve wasted my life, dithering around, trying this and that. And it feels too late to try anything new. Feels like my only alternative is to keep trying, keep hoping. And I worry I’m living on a pipe dream. A nice fantasy I tell myself to keep the boogie man away at night. I keep saying someday. Someday when I have a bit more money, someday when I’m famous, someday…. I’m tired of saying it.

Afraid of telling my brother all this because I was doing well for a while there. Purposeful, forward movement. Now…now all I am is a mass of insecurities. And I feel like I can’t or shouldn’t keep relying on someone else to help me feel better. All I do is add to his worries.

Through all of this is the deep seated knowledge that I must, above all else, keeping taking steps forward. Keep on my exercise, keep trying to get some sleep. Keep sending my stuff out and to hell with all the idiots who can’t see how good it is. Funny how in this hottest of hot weather I feel like I’m moving through molasses in January. Slow, difficult steps. Things that drag on me, and weigh me down.

Fear is a weighty burden.

Nobody said it would be easy

Friday lesson: better than I thought it would be. My teacher listened to me, for one thing. Not just listened, but he attempted to implement my suggestions immediately. That felt good. Being heard always feels good.

Weird incident, though. Don’t know precisely what happened, ’cause I was reading along in the book. But this other student, this guy (emphasis on that word because he’s a real character) must have touched or groped the female teacher. She almost jumped out of her chair. Bitched him out and told him to move, that he couldn’t sit next to her. He ignored her. Maybe it was an accidental graze. I really don’t know. What I do know is the dude in question is questionable; he’s always angry and makes no bones about it. And he stares a lot. At me. With a look on his face I can’t quite pin down. Hate? Lust? Both? I’ve found it unnerving in the past, and in future I’ll find it more so.

Nursing a big lump of angry disappointment. Heard from Bolton; suddenly they’ve modified their terms and conditions. Now a script can’t be more than 700 words. 700 words! My blog posts are longer than that. Why the fuck didn’t they say that up front? Don’t know if I’ll write something for them now or not. I can shit 700 words out pretty quick. But I’m still kind of angry. So I guess I’ll just wait and see how long my irritation lasts.

On the up side: plenty of places to send to. Writing up a synopsis (UGH) and updating my CV. Think I might have something that’ll work, so I’m in down mode now. Give it 24 hours before I read it again. Otherwise I’ll just go round and round – very much the proverbial dog chasing its own tail.

Stepping up research on the next script. Still do not know the name of my main character. I want to use real names, but I’m taking full artistic license with the names I choose. This is for an American audience, and if there’s one thing I know about American audiences, it’s this: give them too many Russian names and I’ll lose them. So I want to choose names with simple and familiar diminutives. Right now, she’s just ‘the new girl’. She’s already a pilot, and a little cocky about her skills. I’m getting a sense of the other women, too. How they react to this newcomer. And the men. The slurs, the set-ups. Letting my mind wander through these ultra short scenes. I need to pick and choose the best. Hone it down. Make it run on a limited cast. And figure out how – or IF – I can write a scene while the women are in their planes. Can’t expect them to have big sets. So it’s gotta be lighting and sound again. Hm.

Doing my best to keep up with a gym visit every other day. Not easy. When I get in that groove, I want to push every day. When I’m not in that groove, it’s a pain to just put my shoes on and head over there. Trying to do what’s best for my body – day on, day off. Meh. If only my body and my head would mesh better.

Still find myself just snapping at my brother once in a while. Why can’t I apologize to him for that? I should. Instead I ignore it and privately vow to do better. And I do better, for a while. Then I mess up again.

*sigh* I guess nobody said it would be easy.

I wonder

Thirty minutes on the cross trainer. No more fucking around. The additional ten minutes were easier than the first ten. Thirty minutes on the bikes – giving my feet a rest from the treadmill. Thirty minutes lifting weights and getting eyed up by all the men pushing their bulging biceps just a little bit further.

I sweat a lot at the gym. Not because I’m that fat, or because I abuse alcohol, but because I drink copious amounts of water each and every day. Doesn’t take much exertion to get sweat going with me – and I consider that a good thing; sweating is a natural cleansing process. Sweat pours off my face, soaks my shirt. I drip.

And people look at me. Never know exactly why. Do they think I look ridiculous, working so much while in this old body? Do they worry I might keel over from too much exertion?

…Why does anybody look at anybody in the gym? Is it a diss thing? Does it allow shallow people to judge and find you (or me) lacking so that they feel better about their own pathetic existence?

I’m not so stupid as to forget the basics: the gym is the new meat locker. No, I didn’t spell that wrong. I said meat locker and I meant meat locker. It’s the place to go and scope the sex you’re attracted to. See it all – the muscles and the flab. Make your choice whether to fuck or not fuck based on the daylight, stripped down version rather than the nighttime dolled up version at a club.

So I gotta ask – why look at me? Don’t you know how old I am?

Honest answer: no. No, they don’t know how old I am. And thanks to a certain disgusting American “comedy” show that birthed anagrams like MILTF, they don’t even care that I’m older. Because even an older bitch is still worth a ride. Not a relationship, mind you, – but a ride. Once in a while.

Ignore. Got a pair of psychic blinders I put on that helps me studiously ignore all such nonsense – and usually the soundtrack is something heavy duty, too, like Lacuna Coil or Queensryche.

Have found a temporary balm for my troubled soul in the form of a tv show. Yeah, I know. Keeps me on my ass, sitting around, and all too easy to smoke. Tough. It’s soothing my angry spirit, calming my worried mind – so it’s worth it right now.

All the wind is knocked out of my sails right now with the script. Still got formatting to do, and my head screams with boredom so loudly when I think of it I swear it’s audible in the room. Hope I’ll find my enthusiasm again soon, and everything will get done in that lickety-split manner that happens when you’re all ready for the long haul. If not…well, I still got two weeks to complete it and get it out before the deadline. Even if I’m screaming out loud by then, I can get it done.

Sleep is my friend again. Seems someone out there listened to my fevered prayer. The Sandman doesn’t just sprinkle my eyes at night, he whaps me over the head with his full sandbag and I’m down for 10 hours minimum.

Tomorrow night is another play rehearsal. Have not even opened the script. On some level, I feel it’s not necessary. We’re still blocking the piece out. Trying different pauses and inflections. Why memorize my role one way, then have the director tell me to do it differently? Better to get his take on the whole thing, then rehearse it with his notes.

Dutch is a little better. My head took my language frustration seriously, and I can tell I’m really trying to zero in on the words again. Not back to reading the novel; when I’ve the energy to read, I’m researching for my next script. But I am trying to do a page of exercises in my books before classes. …Oh, yeah. And I skipped on Friday. Can’t help but think skipping the most stressful lesson of the week helped me to refocus. My teacher really ramps me up, and that doesn’t help me learn.

My brother has promised to help me today with housework. I bitched yesterday morning about it. Loudly and clearly. Didn’t blame, just whined that the continual grind of it makes me forget what day it is. Doing the same chores every single day in the same manner at the same time with no variation can really fuck you up that way. And I’m always too bushed from doing the basics to do any of the bigger stuff. So I hope with help today to get the hoovering AND the dusting done, all in one go. Clean the mirrors, scrub out the sinks. If we can do enough that I don’t feel I’ve got to clean something every damned day, I’ll feel better.

At least for a week.

Very much feels like I’m trying to get ahead of my darkness. If I can stay a half step ahead of it, if I eat right and get enough sleep and exercise regularly, maybe, maybe I won’t go down again. I know that’s a lie. I’ll go down again. I always go down again.

And I’ll be honest here. As a writer, or a wanna-be writer growing up, I wanted to go down. I wanted to know rock bottom. How could anyone effectively write about something they know nothing about? It seemed to me that all the great writers went down, found that pit of base humanity from which to write – and thus, all the great stories were born. So I said to myself, yes, I want that. I need to know what it is.

Did I drive myself mad? Did I embrace insanity at some point to know? I wonder.

The Old Fashioned Way

Three a.m. …Three a.m.!

I tried to stay in bed. Honest I did. But the season’s first buzzing insect came in and dive bombed my ear – probably something that, if I heard like a normal human being, wouldn’t bother me but I DON’T hear like a normal human being – and that was it; I couldn’t stand the noise, my head started to race and after an hour of tossing and turning I said fuck it and got up. If I’m dead tired by the time my lesson begins, I just won’t go.

In that strange way that my life persists in unfolding, waking up so early was a good thing. My bro left the windows open last night, and guess what’s happening outside the windows? Yep. Full on storm. I’d have had a very wet kitchen and living room if I hadn’t got up.

As it is, I sit now in the dark, a cup of coffee and a smoke by my hands, listening to the howling winds and pounding rains.

…C’mon. Gimme some thunder and lightening.

Got to the gym on Tuesday, felt damned good about it, too – evidenced by my post. La-de-dah. Is it perhaps possible to have TWO good days in a row? Or is that just way out of line?

Wrestling with formatting the script. Damn, damn, damn. Now I remember why I searched out software for my computer. Bleeding frustrating internet connection and cloud service! Meh. Sorry; I know I sound like a crotchety old lady when I talk about technology these days. But REALLY?!? I’ve lived long enough to see phone service start from shit, go to great, then go back to SHIT with the advent of mobiles. I was there at the hail of the business computer system. Oh, we’ll go paperless, they said. You know what happened? Twice as much paper was WASTED because of the manner that everything got printed out, and copies had to be run because COMPUTERS FUCK UP. And audio? Children, don’t even get me started. I know y’all can’t hear, anyway.

Grumble, grumble, grouse, and bitch.

You know, progress is a clear step forward. Not half a step forward while your other foot slides back into the muck. Humanity’s slipping. Sacrificing quality for speed. Not a big surprise. So many on the planet think it’s okay to sacrifice all sorts of things for another buck.

Haven’t you paid attention? You don’t have more time with all these electronic gadgets. You aren’t better informed. Just the opposite. You’re down to reading tweets as news, and spend all your time with your heads buried in your phones playing games or messaging or doing some bullshit that’s NOT NEEDED.

Like anyone CARES you just took the biggest dump of your life.

Goddamn it!

……Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. I hate starting a day this way. 

Prospects for going to class are diminishing rapidly. *sigh* All I want to do at this point is get my head on straight. After that – class or no class, sleep or no sleep, gym or no gym, work or no work – doesn’t matter.

Oh, I’m off. Well off. Bad dream? Some storm rider, come into my dreams thru the window? Don’t remember. Only remember the buzzing insect, the tossing and turning, then the storm.

It’s a mini bad day. I get them once in a while. Only real solution is the old fashioned one: let it run its course. Get up when I can’t sleep. Write. Watch tv. Nap when I can. My entire schedule will get turned topsy turvy, but them’s the breaks. I’ve tried these days the other way: pushing thru. Does not work well. I snap and bite and generally drive people off. Better to hermit the day away, and fall asleep to the pounding rain.

Back to it

Writers from the UK only. Irish and UK residents only. We focus on Texas writers. We want midwestern writers only. Canadian writers will be given top consideration. We will not read international scripts. No submissions accepted from outside the lines we’ve drawn in the sand.

Fucking hell. Fifteen minutes of an internet search and the rug’s been pulled out from under my feet. Every time I check for new theatres to submit to, there are more bullshit caveats like the above. Restrictions. The ‘if you don’t live here you can fuck off’ attitude. Isolationism is the new fad du jour.

Yeah, go stick your heads in the sand.

Theatres have, as a matter of fact, closed down so much with their submission policies I’m really starting to think about screen plays because – at least for NOW – those are open to all writers no matter where you currently live. Kind of feels like a trap, tho. Spend loads of time mastering a new format to find everyone has closed down their submissions again. I mean, that’s what happened with the fucking theatre scripts.

Bastards.

Sometimes I hate the world so much.

Well, I’ve still got a couple places I can send out to. After this year, tho…*sigh* I might be working in a vacuum again.

Yesterday’s social outing went well. Easy conversation, pretty comfortable. Mentioned some of the summer fests coming up and hope we can get together to wander the streets of Rotterdam enjoying the music and art on offer. It’s good to have someone other than my brother to talk with. And…my ego got stroked a bit. They were at my script read through, and I felt like I had a gold star hanging above my head the whole time. There was no question as to whether or not I was a good writer – only whether or not my scripts have been chosen for production. That’s new. Usually when I mention my writing (or music, or anything else artistic), people demand (demand!) to know what I’ve done – and then they sit there saying ‘uh-uh’ or ‘don’t know it’ or ‘never heard of it’ like that was their intention in the first place – to put me in my place. But I didn’t get any of that yesterday. Instead, I had some polite enquiries on the status of my radio script. Super enthused grins when I talked about my current script. Quick ‘yes’ replies when I asked if they were interested in helping me with the Night Witches. And I thought ‘Damn! These people really respect me as a writer!

It felt good.

Today: physical activity is needed. Like, direly. Gotta get to the gym for a full bash (hopefully not my ankle again). Want to put time in on the script and start to get it in the new system. Have two old films I recorded off BBC to watch. Should also do at least one run through of the play and my lines. And I should get serious about Dutch, and do a bit every day…again. Fell off that last resolution pretty quick, but the key to accomplishing your goals isn’t doing it all in one go, it’s getting up every time to you fail and starting again.

*sigh* Get up. Back to it.