The Right Words

After a few days of pre-scheduled posts (because it’s summer holiday, and I was sleeping in), we’re back to live, or as alive as it gets for the written form in cyber space.

Found a call for submissions, 20 minutes tops – and the deadline is 9 days away. It’s even got a topic to write on – “from the ashes” (interpreted as literally or fancifully as you want). At first, I was gonna blow right past it. But something made me stop, and take a PDF copy onto my desktop, and think. I figured, I got the time; why not try?

It was odd to go through the motions of deep writing for a small piece. Thinking. A bit of research and googling. Pace, pace, pace. Jot down three different ideas. Pace, pace, pace. Sit and begin to write. Not any of the three ideas I jotted down, naturally. Something completely different.

And then there was this note at the end of the submissions page:

[We’ll hire] at least 50% women, people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, people with disabilities, and any member of any underrepresented, or otherwise marginalized community.

…I read that statement to my brother, and he got a good laugh when I told him my characters – a black gay man, a transgender male, a lesbian, a disabled Indian woman, and one straight, white woman (I know; it sounds like the opening line to a joke). Stacking the deck? Maybe. Yet, why not? Why not make it a mixed bag, why not write for these groups? They’re people, with stories to tell. My concern, of course, is that I’m not black, or gay, or transgender, or technically disabled – and I’ll get dissed for it.

But…come on! Men write roles for women all the time, and they can’t have any better idea what it actually is to be a woman as I’d have knowing what it’s like to be a gay black man or a transgender man or a lesbian or a disabled Indian woman.

And I plan on sending a draft to my friend, J, and asking him if he thinks it’s offensive. I know he’s not the mouthpiece for the LGBTQ community, but he is a part of it. Plus, I know he’ll be upfront with me.

It’s obvious to me I’ve had my fill of writing drama/thrillers for now. This bloody thing is a comedy (told you it sounded like a joke set-up). Or, I hope it is. …Comedy is damned difficult to write. So much depends on the inflection given to dialogue. And somehow, in the past few decades, this skewed idea of black comedy has seeped into our culture. Oh, I’ve seen a few black comedies that were outrageously funny! But many seem to be simple dramas or even tragedies that the author just decided to label as ‘comedy’ – because there’s nothing funny about them at all. Not from what I’ve seen. Sorry. After seeing “The Snapper”, my interest in what humans call black comedy went straight down the toilet (the most horrible film ever made, in my opinion, for it shows nothing but the basest and most vile cross section of humanity the writer could dredge out of the slurry pit of his mind. Warning: if you watch this film, a girl gets pregnant after something I’d dub a rape and her family fucking celebrates it – disgusting).

I’m old fashioned. I think a comedy should make you laugh at some point.

…Maybe it’s inevitable that comedy offends someone. I mean…aside from slap-stick, it’s hard not to offend someone with a joke. And hell! Even slap-stick can be offensive. I’ve seen the old Benny Hill show. Offensive as fucking hell.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so worried about it.

But worrying about it prevents me from worrying about other things, which is a Godsend, really. So I’ll allow myself to be concerned over offending people with my writing. I’ll spend the hours pacing and typing away, concocting yet another play that may or may not see the light of day.

One other thing. I’m noticing a pattern in my writing. A deep seated desire for reconciliation. Almost all my stories (other than my thrillers) are ending with a reconciliation scene. Apologies, acceptance – even love.

And, you know…I’m glad of it. Glad to see that beneath all my anger and frustration, a seed of kindness and understanding still thrives. That’s what I’m after in real life. Maybe I’ll write a way to that for myself. Find something in my own words that turns the tide, stills my anger, and keeps me calm.

I just have to find the right words.

Lost

I had hoped to write today that I’m back from Amsterdam, forms notarized, and all is well. But you know the old saying about the hopes of mice and we fools who hang all our perceptions on our outer trappings rather than our inner selves, and it held true today.

I got bunk, people. Nadda. Nothing except a very long, very early morning with a lot of traveling in a big circle. Never have I been so damned disappointed in Dutch trains.

It all began by picking up the earliest metro possible: 6:02 a.m. From there, a short hop to the closest train station. I had all the info printed up. And we caught the train we were supposed to catch, and rode into Rotterdam Centraal. Found the next train platform – only to notice a blinking red line under our train’s notification, saying CANCELLED. Shit. Okay; another train to Amsterdam was leaving in 15 minutes from the same platform. But unfortunately, it was a slow train. After starting out the morning anticipating that we’d arrive in Amsterdam with almost an hour to spare, we found we were ending up half an hour late – and THAT was pulling into the station. Then it was find the tram, take it, walk 20 minutes, wait in line – in the rain, desperately holding onto a pee – then no, sorry, make another appointment…but wait! We were called back and for an additional half an hour I thought maybe they’d bend their tight-assed rules and let us in. Instead, we got an another little slap in the face, standing there, holding onto our bladders, asking again, only to be let in the first door and handed a half-sheet page of instructions that (wait for it) told us sorry, we need to make another appointment and be the fuck on time.

Fuck.

There’s only one ray of sunshine in my otherwise abysmal tale: the small print on my NS post delivered freebie train ticket. It’s good for two days. Oh, don’t be impressed. Everyone in the country gets them delivered to their door; I’m not special. But it comes to me at a convenient time. Today, we only lost the cost of one of us traveling in that big circle. Tuesday, our next scheduled appointment, will fall under the same category. So in the end, other than our time (and loss of sleep), we aren’t going to spend any more than we would have had we paid full price for both of us to train up to Amsterdam once.

It’s little consolation to me, though, because time is our big enemy on this. We’ve got 30 days to refile. Thirty days from our last letter. But the letter was written under one date, stamped with another, and received by our attorneys on a third. So when, actually, is our deadline? No effing idea, and that’s the wrench in the entire system. All I know is it gotta be done soon.

Does not help that I got a ‘if I’d taken care of this, this would never have happened’ line from my bro. Really? You want to absolutely guarantee that everything would have gone just swell had you made the train calculations rather than me? …And yes, I should have signed in at 4 this morning to check the fucking train schedules with NS. And yes, I should have written down six alternatives to the train I wanted to take. Shoulda, shoulda, shoulda… I could beat myself senseless with shoulda.

I’m choosing to take responsibility without guilt. Yes, there were back-up preparations it would have been a good idea to make. Let this be a lesson to me: I may love this country passionately, but I shouldn’t suppose for one minute that it’s perfect. And the last minute cancellation was not my fault. The delays and hiccups we encountered at every corner were not my fault.

Will anyone think less of me if I confess my mind’s first thought at my brother’s words: ‘oh, gods! you should just kill yourself! the best you can do is get in people’s way!’? Melodramatic? Sure. But I noticed the pattern. The guilt for bloody everything that falls on my shoulders followed by that ‘you’d be better off dead’ response in my head. It comes at me no matter what. Even when I’m bloody prepared to fail miserably and just get through it, those thoughts come to me.

I do not like being so fucking changeable. Okay one minute and desperately hating myself the next. And I’ve seen this in other people. I know how unnerving it is to hear that level of self-hate spew forth from someone’s lips. While I reacted to my brother’s statement angrily, I did not give voice to these haunting nymphs that never leave me. These words may stand as my only note of them this time ’round. Because…because I know it was an awful morning for both of us, and no one should have to hear about suicidal thoughts at ten in the fucking morning. Even if it IS raining. And note: I did remember to say ‘it makes me feel’. Not ‘you’re doing this again’, but ‘it makes me feel’.

So, good on me. I suppose you never really know how far you’ve come until shit hits the wall. It’s easy to be good or stable (or sane, or whatever word I’m looking for) when all is la-la-lovely in life.

Heard from the director. Heads up for heavy rehearsing next week ’til performance dates. No big surprise. I’ll hit those words later on. My brain’s too fried from the early morning and the stress and the travel today. Anything I’d try now would just end up getting…

Lost.

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.

Sick of it. Literally.

Felt it start yesterday afternoon. The scratchy throat. The cough that hurt. This morning I awoke with full blown laryngitis, an annual side-effect of my summer allergies. I’m sucking lozenges, gargling with salt water, drinking juice, and taking it easy.

Suck-ola. Found myself getting angry at my doctor without ever actually visiting: I’m well aware that if I made the foray over to her office and actually wrangled an appointment within the next 48 hours, I’d be told to suck lozenges, gargle with salt water, drink juice, and take it easy. The only reason to go is to have medical proof that yes, once again I am ill. Seems I must justify myself to the medical community before anyone takes me seriously. As usual, I’m physically drained with this, and don’t want to do much more than vegetate in front of the tv. So, as usual, I’ll do that first line of defense on my own and see if it clears itself up.

Script: 4000 words and climbing. I’ve barely begun act 1 scene 3, and have a lot of territory to cover in the next 2000 words. But I’m allowing my characters a bit of verbosity. Easier to cut than to stretch a story. I like my soviet agent. A lot. She’s menacing without being outright threatening. My characters are fleshing out and surprising me. One is funnier than I expected. Another more vulnerable than I thought. And it’s not just the women; the men are more than I expected, too. These disparate roles are ready made for personal conflict.

To round off my life, my brother is on a kick of disregarding me and my personal space. Dirty dishes left piled in the sink. Washed dishes left in the rack, never put away. Miscellaneous shit, like an extra water bottle I’d emptied and put aside for personal use. Oh, was that yours? I didn’t know. Well, did you put it there? No? Then what makes you think it was left there for you? Did you imagine Santa Claus came in overnight and left you a present? Hanging his rain-soaked clothes directly over my face towel, thereby soaking said face towel with underwear and sock drippings. Get the picture? Feels like I don’t exist, my work doesn’t matter, and half the time I’m just in his way.

…Was gonna write ‘I’m sick of it’ and then I realized I really AM sick of it. Literally. Funny how that happens so often in my life.

Well, let’s make this a short illness. Pick up the box of tissues, the lozenges, the water, my pills, and head off for a nap.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Eating Elephants

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Night Witches is definitely an elephant. I don’t want everything centered on one character. Each role should be unique and driven by the character’s personality.

I’ve taken my basic outline and begun expanding it. Busy writing individual outlines for each and every character. Where are they? What are they doing? How do they react? Found a few surprises for myself, bits and pieces I hadn’t considered while writing the overall outline. When I’m done with each character’s outline, I’ll take everything and assemble a master outline. Very specific and tight. It should give me a good start on scenes and dialogue.

Settings shouldn’t be a problem. I think all they’ll really need will be a few tables and chairs. I was going to use the barracks as a setting, but that involves getting cots or beds in there to make it look like a barracks. Involved, and expensive. Changing it to a common area, like the mess hall. Kind of makes sense: if the entire regiment is going to meet to discuss anything, the space needs to be big enough to accommodate everyone at once. A mess hall would have tables and chairs, and enough space.

Going to be asking a lot of sound and lighting crew. Again. But, come on! That’s what they live for, right? Something inventive to get them involved. I’ll bet turning lights up and turning lights down for every scene gets boring. So, write them in. Make them pay attention and be present for the production. They’re part of the crew, after all.

My brain is cooking. The creativity pot is bubbling and boiling.

Skipped language class this morning. For one, I’m bloody well busy and damned happy to finally be on the active side of Night Witches. For another, the class was scheduled to have students come in to talk to us individually. Kid students. Those walking germ factories. Sorry; don’t care how old they are or how beneficial talking with them might be for me. I can’t risk my health. Not now, not ever. Got so involved with my outlines and thinking that I forgot to text my teacher. Feel kind of bad about that.

Had rehearsal last night. Can I say it? DAMN, I’M GOOD! For one, we blew through the first 7 pages and went on to begin working the last half of the scene. For another, I got one suggestion from the director on a line delivery nuance. One. My partner had quite a few. He also stumbled more with his lines, but as I assured him, he’s got the bigger speeches. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the director smile and nod during my performance, laughing a few times at my physical portrayal of the character.

One not so great thing I’ll note: I’m really terrible at small talk right now. During the break last night, I immediately got into heavy topics – generally, a no-no. But I, of course, just dive right into that stuff. That’s where my head is: my issues and my writing. That’s the conversation anyone gets out of me these days. And as the words came out of my mouth last night, I knew I was wrong. Wrong to bring it up, odd to mention my thoughts, too abrupt with my feelings. I need a bleeding social interaction class. *sigh* Though I think that only served to emphasize how perfect I am for the role of Wendy, who’s very socially inept.

Other: chatted on the way to the metro after rehearsal with the director, as usual. He told me he never partied. Like, never ever. At first, I thought he was pulling my leg. Took me three ‘Really?‘ exclamations before I accepted he was telling me the truth. I wonder if my wild days inevitably led me to where I stand today. I wonder how different things might have been…

In a lot of ways, I feel like I’ve never really lived. Never went after what I really wanted, never gave myself a chance. That’s terribly sad. I’m both angry at myself for caving in and my family for programming me this way. I pity myself and hate myself at the same time. It’s a really sucky place to be.

And yeah, I know I have to forgive myself. Sometimes I feel like I’m almost there. Other times…not so much.

Forgiving myself…now that’s a big elephant.

Triple F

I found it hard, as a child, to reconcile the memories voiced by my mother’s family with the truth. After all, what is a four year old to think, listening to her elders talk bout ‘gettin’ whooped’ while laughing heartily? I imagined a Dennis the Menace scenario. Something non-threatening and, ultimately, funny. Not a one of my aunts or uncles ever seemed to be angry over their past. ‘Whoopins’ were what you got. With a belt. Sometimes until you bled. But ha, ha, we all laughed about it in the end so it’s okay.

My dad, too, had stories. Stories in which he was always alone. Stories in which his parents grieved (and grieved and grieved) so much over the death of their first born that they seemed to forget they had another son.

And other hints. Frowning brows and dark looks now and then. A sharp tongued remark, quickly retracted. A tear that never fell from an eye.

I am a second gen product of abusive families.

Understanding – full understanding, the kind you only get with age and experience – hit me the other day. This is why my mother never doled out punishment when we were very little. She was too afraid she’d follow in the footsteps of her parents, and really smack us around.

My mother was an abused child.

And my father, a neglected child.

No wonder I am what I am.

I’ve often thought about my parents. How they got together. I know the story – a teacher in high school set them up on a date. What I never got was the why.

My father was very much into physical appearances. Comments on my appearance were usually limited to the ‘you’re a workhorse, honey, not a racehorse’ range. I was told I was beautiful only as a consolation, when I felt ugly and unloved. ‘Ah, honey! You’re beautiful just the way you are’ – which felt like a consolation and a lie. I was never freely told I was beautiful or even pretty. And I figured he had to say it; parents always have to say it, don’t they? Even if their kid is the butt-ugliest person on the planet.

At the time of their meeting, my mother was a slim and young size 12. My father was an extremely huge 350 pound linebacker for the school football team.

My mother claimed she saw beyond my dad’s weight. Saw he was a good person, a good man, and that’s who she fell in love with.

But there was another man in her life. A sailor. I’ve one black and white photograph of the two of them together. He went off to war. Mom never talked about him, other than saying she dated him.

I wonder now if Mom was just looking for a way out. Someone – anyone – to help her leave the house.

And I’m not saying my mother didn’t love my father. Just that the initial reason she got together with him might not be as noble as she would have me believe.

As for my dad…Mom was his first and only love. Again, not surprising when you take into account his past. He was starved for attention. First person to give him even a little bit of time and energy, and he asks her to marry him.

Never did get a straight answer on the pre-marital sex issue. Mom said no, they never did it, and Dad said yes, the were at it like rabbits.

I used to think my parents’ story was this great romance. Now…it’s just grey and bleak, like the weather hanging outside my window.

Bullshit ordinary things I need to keep track of: Tired all day yesterday, ’til I finally broke down and had some more coffee. Left 10 hours open to sleep, so naturally I was up after 8. Doing okay but not great with smoking. Getting down on the floor to do abdominal exercises these days. Sucks big time. Still not writing anything but these morning blatherings. Frustrated. Bored a lot. Feel very out of step with the world.

Everything’s weird. I’m weird. That’s the real problem: me. I’ve got that un-tethered feeling going on. Free floating fear. The dreaded triple F threat.

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.