Intimidation

Sometimes, when I’m playing one of my computer games, I hit a level where I get intimidated and must stop. I do too well and worry I’ll screw it up. Silly, right? I bought the game to bleeding play, and it’s no competition. Still, there it is: intimidation. Eventually I get over it, and continue.

Been intimidated on stage. Many times. By the crowd, the heat, the lights, my own jitters…. There have been mornings and nights I’ve vomited my fear up, but it didn’t stop me from going on when I needed to.

Today I faced a different intimidation. One deeply layered – almost insidiously so. It’s tied into rape and physical abuse…and I realize even as I’m writing this that I’m only touching the top of it.

The guy in my Friday language class – the one I’ve mentioned before – …well, he showed up today. Class begins at 9:15 and runs to noon. He banged the door open at 11 and sat as near the door as possible. Fifteen minutes later he slammed the door shut on his way out.

A ripple of fear ran around the room. Literally; you could feel it. One of my teachers – the male – tried to pass if off when someone asked what it was all about. Said he thought maybe the guy was just going to the bathroom. Yeah, right.

Btw, the rest of us are women. And it doesn’t take a genius to look at us and realize I am not the only one with abuse and rape in my history.

Couple that with current news. Dare I mention, in this context, terrorism?

I am NOT comfortable with this guy. Purely on the anger issue. Add in whatever happened with the female teacher, and I’m on edge. Douse that with today’s event and I’m unsure I want to go back if he keeps showing up.

I don’t feel safe.

I don’t want to condemn out of hand, either. I’m completely aware that all of this blatant anger in class might be because of something else. Other stressors in his life. What I’d like is an explanation, but considering his tight-lipped reluctance to say anything (leaving his comments purely in the form of angry stares and slamming doors), I doubt I’ll get one. And, you know the saying – better safe than sorry. He’s displaying behavior that’s intimidating all of us, so I’ll err on the side of caution and say get this guy the fuck out!

But – what to do, what to do? Do I lodge a complaint? Nothing has been directed purely towards me. I did not see whatever happened that made the female teacher tell him to keep his hands to himself and stay away from her. I do not want to cause more trouble in a perhaps already deeply troubled life. And, bloody hell, you know they’ll make me say it in Dutch (a small, yet troubling snag in this situation). Yet…what if we’re really in danger? What if something happens? Something more than what we’ve already been subjected to?

And how about our rights? Don’t we have a right to learn in a safe space, without this intimidation?

Why was he even allowed back in the building after what happened with the teacher? …What did happen?

I was worried enough that I shifted in my seat slightly to keep the corner of my eye on him. He was sitting next to L, a really nice woman I’d like to call my friend. I didn’t want anything to happen and have L be too afraid to say something.

If I’m that worried, isn’t it possible there’s something to worry about?

Our school year is almost over. Two more weeks to go. The timing of it all adds to my uncertainty. Maybe he won’t come back in September.

Maybe I should let it go. Doesn’t seem either teacher said anything.

But maybe they’re struggling with it, too. They’re volunteers. I’m sure they don’t want to appear to not be able to handle half a dozen adults.

I’m also sure I’m not imagining the ripple effect around the room today.

Not a one of us wants that anger pointed directly at us.

We’re all intimidated.

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.

Three Facts

I am up too early and smoking too much.

Did my best to hang onto my high yesterday, but it wore away under the relentless pounding it got from everyday concerns. Dutch lesson: a tragic disaster. My head’s been writing in English, thinking in English – so my Dutch felt more than rusty. Don’t know if I put together a coherent sentence. Didn’t help that my teacher picked a page out of a workbook that was way too advanced for me, conjugating verbs that use ‘zich’ in a sentence. I felt dumber than dumb. By the end of the lesson my head was beginning to come back to Dutch – but then we were saying good-bye, and I was walking home knowing it’s up to ME to keep the Dutch alive in my brain until next week.

Off to the pharmacy to pick up my meds. Contemplated the whole way there. What was the correct question form? Is the word I’m looking for krijgen? Gekrijgen? Am I even in the ballpark? Settled on using a half sentence – I have a text message from you/Ik heb een SMS van jullie. Not great grammar, but I was understood. Stocked up on pills. Oh, goodie.

Off to the gym for a light session. I banged my ankle last time on a machine edge, and yes, it’s black and blue, so I took it easy.

Then there’s the headlines this morning. – !

I’m tired and smoking isn’t helping. But I’ve got a lesson this morning with the teacher who riles me up 75% of the time without trying, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna walk into that classroom without something to soothe my nerves.

Wanna delve right into more English. Edit the last script. Read it, at least. I shouldn’t. I should let it sit. Got class this morning and meeting acquaintances on Sunday for a coffee and chat (see? I AM trying to get out and be social). Should keep my head on straight. …*sigh* Somehow that makes the temptation even greater.

…Oh, I wish I were different. Stronger. More self assured.

Wish I knew what the fuck I’m doing, too.

Right.

Fact: no one knows what the fuck they’re doing. If they claim they do, they’re lying.

Fact: everyone feels insecure sometimes. If you never see them down, they’re faking it well.

Fact: everything I’ve heard about my progress with Dutch is someone’s opinion. I’m doing well, I’m not so hot – all just opinions. I’ve got more comprehension than when I began. I can generally make myself understood. Everything else is cake.

Three facts I need to burn into my consciousness this morning.

Real Life

Have you heard anything yet? …Oh. Really?

Amazing how fast non-writers think publishers will get to written work. Can’t quite convey to them how unusual it is just to receive confirmation that your work was received. It’s like watching yourself the first time after you’ve sent something out. There’s the same naive innocence, thinking you’ll hear something right away. There’s the same disappointed reaction when they learn there’s been no response. And then that questioning light comes up in their eyes – Are you sure you’re doing the right thing? Maybe you should just get a job.

Goddess!

Meanwhile….

Thought explosion. In the past 48, I’ve edited my script (in my head; the file is untouched but I know exactly what I want/need to do), outlined three new scripts, contemplated writing scripts for comic books (again), given serious contemplation to working my good theatre scripts into movie scripts, and written a character analysis of my role in the upcoming theatre production.

Strengths: I kill at the one-act length. Just nail it, every time, almost right down to the word. My work with the radio drama has unleashed full 3D into my writing. No longer is it just dialogue and stage directions; now there’s sound and lighting effects, too. I’m thinking outside the box of the theatre. I also think I’m beginning to master what I’ll call the ‘Lillian Hellman’ effect – the story is in what the characters don’t say, rather than what they do say.

Weaknesses: Fear. There’s my number one problem. Can I turn out a full length whopper of a story by treating it as three individual one act pieces? Can I even write a story that fully, or will it end up being 90% fluff just to fill the allotted time? Always worried I’ll ask too much of the actors or stage crew, too. Working with the local group has reminded me how small and amateur these things can get. Lovely to plan out a big scene with sound, lights, and make-up – but if only the biggest theatres can do it, I’m writing myself out of a lot of work.

My only recourse is to open myself up to any and every opportunity. I didn’t think I could ever write a thriller, yet here I am, author of what I think are two very tight and suspenseful tales [note: the current script began as horror, but I realized the line between horror and thriller is written in blood – which takes me back to my concerns over asking too much of special effects, so I let the idea go and just wrote it as a thriller]. Do the work for the full length play on historical female figures. Research, outline, give it a shot. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it. But try. Try your hand at 10 minute scripts. 15 minute scripts. See a story that piques your interest? Write it. Fuck the end product; just write it – keeping it tight, keeping it small, keeping in mind that most theatres are on the brink of death and they don’t want big productions right now.

…Pulling myself back into real life is tough. Real life is so flat compared to writing life. Writing life is intense, full of passion. Real life is slow. Slothfully slow. It creeps by, waiting for you to pick up something to keep yourself occupied for just a fraction of each day.

Meh. We all know which one I prefer. Give me writing life for real: no down time, not even any bathroom breaks (you never read about sitting on the toilet for five minutes every day in a story). Just action, feeling, reaction. And no financial concerns. Need to fly to Rome for something? Of course you can afford it. Just go. No colds, either. Life threatening illnesses…yes. Common colds…no. All black and white, just as we writers intended it (not) when we first put black ink down on white paper.

So easy to cut through the shit on paper.

So difficult in real life.

Keep your eyes open

Do not know how long I was at it yesterday. Began writing before my brother woke up. Took a breakfast break when he came out of his room for coffee. Back at it before he left for the comic book shop. Surfaced around five in the afternoon. Came up gulping for air, actually. It was intensive.

And the first draft is complete.

Shivers. I think I’m dead on with my 30 minute timing, too…

A glance at my calendar told me I’m not one month ahead of myself, but two. So I’m not touching the new script for a few days. Oh, I’m itching to read it through. Test it. See if it’s as good as I think it might be. But I’m gonna let my brain rest. Honestly, it feels swollen. Like the grey goo is all puffed up and pushing against my cranium. Not pain, exactly…just very tired.

Two days ago my brother pointed out that our glass recycling needed taking out. Today, the recycling is still sitting in our kitchen, un-taken-out. The dishes aren’t done, either, for the second or third day in a row (I forget how many). I wonder how my bro feels about that. …Irritated? Has it wound him up like it winds me up, and will his sleeping brain program him to NEED to clean when he wakes up? Color me skeptical. I think he’ll easily let it slide for a few more days…whereas I, now out of my writing trance, am irritated by it no end and will probably begin cleaning by 8 a.m.

Someone needs to do the grocery shopping, too.

…Thinking about calling for a reading of the new script, tho I’m concerned about two things. One, this is very topical. So topical I’m not mentioning it (even the title of the piece) to anyone but my brother. It’s not that I don’t trust the people I know, I just know that people are stupid. They’ll say something without thinking to their hairdresser or the receptionist at the dentist’s office – who’ll then say something to someone they know, who happens to be a writer, who’ll be better known or have an agent or just get their stuff out faster than me, and suddenly my brilliant idea is old hat that no one wants to read. My second concern is more personal: I don’t want to call a reading just to toot my own horn or show off – Come! Read my fantastic script! I feel confident on my timing, sure in the story telling. There’s no real reason to read it through, no questions I have other than can it actually be pulled off? – And the answer to that question will not be revealed in a read through.

I’d like to squeeze in some gym time today. Not that I’m in the mood to go and sweat. Nope. Want to let my body ooze through the day, inert and sluggish. But I think getting up and (at least) walking for an hour would do me good.

Received a temporary rehearsal schedule from the director. Temporary because it’s only laid out for four weeks and if anyone can’t make their night, the whole thing will get shifted around. Fine by me. I’ve nothing on in the evenings. Thought we were going to work with two scenes each night, meaning four actors would be at every rehearsal. But the director’s schedule has only one scene blocked out each night. Which means, since my acting partner is on holiday from now ’til July, I’m working alone with the director on my nights. He even blocked himself in for reading the other role in my scene.

On the heels of my questioning his girlfriend’s reaction and all that I see occurring within the dynamics of the theatre group, that tiny, black and white rehearsal notification set my heart racing. Oh, Goddess! Not again! 

What the fuck am I gonna do now?

My first thought: circumspection. Don’t stand too close, don’t laugh too long, don’t talk too earnestly to him – and certainly don’t bring him any blueberry muffins! That grates at me. Damn it! It’s so rare I meet someone who could actually be my friend that when I do I become this big, enthusiastic dog. Jumping around, slobbering everywhere – happy just to be there. And I like to stand close to my friends, laugh long and hard with them, discuss real issues in a forthright and serious manner, and bake them goodies. It’s what I do. So to ask me to reign it in…feels like I’m asking myself to erect walls – something I’ve been told I do very, very well. Something I’ve been trying very hard NOT to do.

Ach! Enough. I’m thinking too far into the future again. I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I shouldn’t be making so many bleeding assumptions.

Look down at your feet. You have so many steps to take before you’re there!

Just…walk slowly. And keep your eyes open.

Root myself, and fly

The problem with words is their vagueness. If I say ‘blue’, what color comes to mind? Light, egg shell blue or deep, dark navy? Both are blue. Neither are the color I had in mind. Words take on significance through experience – unfortunately, every person’s experiences are different, which results in different shades of meaning for each and every word anyone has ever thought up.

Take ‘morning’. Here, in the Netherlands, the time between midnight and six a.m. is called ‘night’, not ‘morning’; in the states, I’d say ‘I woke up at 5 in the morning’ but here it’s ‘I woke up in the night, at 5’. Gotta disagree with the Dutch on this one. Five is in the morning, not the night. The sun is coming up. The birds are singing. And if you’re someone who’s never made it up at 5, never seen the sunrise or smelled that fresh-day-coming scent that pours through your window, you’ve no idea what I’m talking about.

This is morning. Why aren’t more people up and about?

Well, well. One night of rehearsal and my sleep schedule is more than two hours out of whack. Fell asleep watching tv last night, then went to bed where I promptly woke up to toss and turn for an hour before drifting off again. Yesterday morning I was praying for quiet, so I could lie in and continue to rest. Today’s quiet was too loud; made me get up, smell the air, and that was it. Once I smell that scent from outside I can’t get back to sleep. It’s too full of possibility. Later in the day a new scent will arise – one of baked earth and concrete, hot metal and asphalt, cut grass and searing flesh on a barbeque. And the day will be set in olfactory stone – it’s hot, hot, hot! But now…now, everything is open. Anything can happen.

I love it.

Saw the new Ridley Scott film, Alien Covenant. Need to see it again before giving voice to any comment. The Alien franchise is next to holy-holy for me (and Cameron is, therefore, the devil) and Scott is a walking demi-god as far as directors go. Goddess, how I’d love Scott to do a film script I wrote! …There were proper bits of horror that had me squishing myself into my seat in uncomfortable positions no 50+ woman should ever try to get into to. *big grin* Can’t wait to own Covenant, and do the whole run – Prometheus through the Alien Quad mixed with the Predator Saga (all viewed in chronological movie time order). Only way to do it.

Today: burn myself out at the gym. A proper, no holds barred work-out. I want to come back dripping wet, exhausted, and in need of food. After that, I’ll think about writing. Or I’ll take a nap. I refuse to make that decision now.

Free floating bits of anxiety keep nipping at me. Just out of nowhere. Vigilance! Just because I defeat depression one day doesn’t mean I can ease up on my routine. Now is the time to attack without raising a hand.

Root myself, and fly.

I don’t suck dick

This is not where I expected myself to be at 5 something in the morning. Not today. But noise woke me up (lorries? a thunderstorm? someone half a mile away closing their garage door?) and suddenly I couldn’t sleep anymore because one thing was on my mind: I’ve got a 45 supporter as a friend on FB, and that needed to change and change right away.

My longterm online correspondence (10 years or more) has ended. I opted to keep it simple – I can’t be friends with someone who voted for 45. Farewell. That’s a kinder message than members of my family received. Unfriend.

I should really go through my FB ‘friends’ and unfriend them ALL unless I know for sure they didn’t vote for the orange orangutang. That’ll leave me with a handful of people. *sigh* Just too lazy to do it. I only post derogatory news items of The Orange One and occasionally cuss on FB. It’s un-cool as a social website. Sometimes I think about just deleting my account, but then I remember the South Park episode when Stan tried to do that.

I don’t want to get sucked into a lame 80s cyber world.

Second dental cleaning yesterday because it was three years since I had it done and there’s just a lot of work to be done. The new hygienist was brutal. Had me spitting blood.

My teeth look amazingly white, tho.

Reason to feel both jealous and hopeful: yesterday’s language lesson found me sitting in with another student and teacher because my usual teacher is off on holiday. And DAMN! I’d really like to permanently switch to this new instructor. She was probably a teacher in real life. First, we had reading to do. Then questions to answer. Then complicated words to pronounce. Then a spelling test. Then simple chatting over our opinions on the story. It was THE most thorough lesson I’ve ever had. I was corrected on pronunciation and syllable emphasis. English was readily swapped to when needed. My grammar was corrected, and sentences were spoken to me slowly, clearly, and repeated until I got every single word precisely. SO jealous I don’t have her as a regular instructor. Also hopeful that I can find a teacher out there who’ll really teach me rather than sit there half bored as I try to read aloud.

Went into overtime using my Dutch when a knock at the door revealed two workers from the local Buurtwerk (neighborhood work) group. They’re out covering their areas, checking in with residents and asking about the neighborhood. What’s good about living here? What’s not good about living here? I stumbled through with my pidgin Dutch. Sure, I made grammar mistakes. Sure, I inserted English when I didn’t know the Dutch. Point is, they understood me and I understood them. Progress!

Inclement weather. The skies are grey, the clouds low and threatening. Please send us a good, ripping thunderstorm! I love thunderstorms. The sheer power let loose strikes me dumb. I just stand in front of the window, looking. And I’m 14 years deprived of thunderstorms; Ireland didn’t have them. So gimme, gimme, gimme!

Preparing mentally to dive into editing mode with this new software. Almost there. I find editing like reading Dutch: I can do it any time, but how well I do it depends on my mental prep. When my head’s there, it goes super fast. When my head isn’t there I spend most of time going over three lines and not being able to get beyond them.

Naturally money is tight. Tighter than tight. Another big bill showed up. Apparently it was a February bill that someone forgot to send to us, and now they want their money. All my doctor’s visits hit at the same time, so that’ll cost us. And the exchange rate is for shit. Goddess! Whatever happened to the idea that the euro was created to be a one on one challenge to the dollar? Thanks, Nixon, for killing the gold standard and hanging all the world’s currencies on the mighty US dollar. Stupidest move ever. Now currency manipulators use their power to create false values to world currencies. Just another slave game by the 1%.

Caught myself last night thinking that there’s a whole part of life I never let myself experience. Family, home, kids, cars, job. That stray thought occurred to me during a car commercial. Not sure what it was about that ad that triggered me. But trigger me it did, and a flood of all I’ve missed came whooshing towards me followed by regret and fear. Was able to recognize I was chasing that ‘grass is greener on the other side’ idea; I was reacting to an idyllic scenario, not anything based in reality. Oh, wouldn’t it be great to be young and in love and have lots of money and be thin and beautiful all at the same time. Fuck yeah, it would! I always thought so. But should we really allow ourselves to lead around by this carrot on a stick that’s only ever available to a chosen few? Goddess! And I’ve heard some of these chosen few espouse the idea that this was their destiny, the almighty guided them to it, blah blah puke blah. Um…it was chance. Luck. Chaos. A roll of the dice.

Or the dick you sucked.

There’s one thing about me that’s always been true, and I guess my life reflects it.

I don’t suck dick.