The first thing I did this morning was reach up to drag my heavy, long hair out of my face. Then I realized – it’s short.

Somehow, I always ask for the impossible. I always want a color they can’t give me, in this case auburn because I went too dark and no hairstylist wants to bleach my already dry and thirsty hair. They did manage to find a nice in-between, a lighter and redder color they added to the roots and brought through to the ends to blend it all. But I did it again with the cut. Brought in several pix of asymmetrical haircuts, which I just love on me; looks so much better than perfect symmetrical cuts. Then it was snip, snip, snip. Several inches hit the floor in the first pass. I went to a student academy, ’cause prices are half what I’d pay in a regular salon. So I had my stylist/student, three teachers, and a professional stylist puttering with my hair, talking about the length, the fall, the curve. Took more than two hours, but it was worth it. My hair hangs pixie-like and free, curving around my face gently to set it off, and falls gracefully a few inches to the right leaving a long lock that winds around into one gorgeous curl.

Maybe I’m the one person in a hundred thousand who still wants asymmetrical cuts. Or maybe it’s because I walked in there with such long, shaggy hair and it was such a dramatic make-over. I don’t know. But, as usual, I garnered a LOT of attention at the salon. Not just from the teachers, but also from the other students who kept watching the process of my new look getting sculpted out of the old. Are you sure you want this? Have you gone this short before? I found their questions funny. I wanted to say yes, I’m 52 and have done everything with my hair before you were born, dearie. Shaved, purple, multi-colored, rat-tails, super spiky short, long curly locks, blond, brunette, and red-head: you name it, I’ve done it at some point.

And oh! I’m not getting rid of this cut anytime soon. I’ll work hard to maintain it, as a matter of fact – which is not something I’ve said in a while. I like it. Brings back memories of my first asymmetrical cut when I was 17. My mother wanted to send me back to the salon (in fact, she wanted to send me back to HER salon, not one of my choosing). C was very noncommittal with me on most things, never showing too much approval or disapproval no matter what. But that hair! She hated it. Really, really, hated it. Nagged at me every time I wore it in a manner that emphasized that off-set cut. Pin it up, she’d tell me. No one will hire you with that hair. Eventually, she wore me down. I got a job in an office, and cut it.

Now, I’ve no one to tell me to cut it differently. No one to nag at me how it’s not normal, or how someone my age or weight or whatever shouldn’t have hair like this. I did not expect to feel so giddy. So free and uninhibited. Nor did I expect to write over 500 words about my hair.

…I’ve a long list of stuff. Things I need to do, things that have happened that nagged at me over the past day or two… But the headlines, of course, are where my immediate concern lies: government shutdown. Not sure how that will affect my brother’s pension, but I don’t expect it to be good. Refuse to panic or worry. There will be time enough for that later. And if something drastic happens…well, I expect a bit of understanding and slack here. I hope. It’s not something I want to discuss much, because that riles me up and gets me worrying. Just noting it’s happening and I’m doing my best not to freak.

Concerned, also, about the premiere. Getting up there, timing, the outfit, finding the place… The list on that goes on and on, too. I will be alone in a not-so-familiar city. Alone and dressed to the nines. At night, and it’ll probably be raining. Need to check with S about helping with my make-up. I don’t want to intrude; sounded like she’s gonna have loads of family at her place that evening. If I do go and get her help, I’ll more likely have time to kill because I’ll want to not step on any family gathering so I’ll be there early. My bro suggested I just head to a coffeeshop to smoke. I just don’t know: me, in fancy dress, with sparkling jewelry and full on make-up, walking into a coffeeshop to smoke weed. It’s more everyone else’s reaction I’m thinking of…not that I make a habit of it, but please! I’d stare at me if I walked in looking like that. Then there’s just the ick factor: coffeeshops tend to be a bit less clean than other Dutch establishments. The bathrooms can be…not nice. And there’s always the concern about burning my outfit from some falling ash. I’ve kept this dress in good condition this long, and I don’t want to lose it because I felt like having a hit or two before the premiere. Similar concerns with getting a bite to eat: messing the dress, smearing the make-up, and dealing with food stuck in my teeth. Um…nope. Drinks? That’s my best bet of staying neat and tidy. Also my best bet at getting out of hand because I don’t drink anymore and a couple of beers will put me under the table. I have this vision of me standing alone in a corner (so I don’t wrinkle the dress), drinking water through a straw (to keep the make-up perfect) for an hour or more in a quiet, out of the way nothing place. Sounds boring.

But I’ll look fabulous.


A New Thought

I feel undeserving. Just opened up my writer’s email and found this:

I wanted to let you know that unfortunately, we selected two shows for our spring event and your show was ranked third. However! I think this show would be the perfect for the Capitol Fringe festival (it’s a summer play festival in Washington DC that showcases tons of original works, sponsored by local theaters and actors.) If you are interested, I would like to put together a proposal for the Board of Little Theater of Alexandria[where I am the governor of seasonal planning] and propose that they sponsor it for the summer of 2019. IF they approve and IF it’s accepted to the festival, it would receive several weeks of performances at a venue in DC. In exchange for using your script, LTA would sponsor everything – we’d get a director, audition actors, provide rehearsal space, and cover all associated costs with promotion, props, staging, etc. Because we would be paying for everything, we would not provide any money to you for rights. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in I can work up a proposal to take to our Board (and show to you as well) to see if they would be interested.

I know eventually I’ll need to get paid. Can’t live on kudos alone. And some people would discount this note entirely because there’s no money involved. But I can’t get past the fact that this artistic director and governor of seasonal planning has now TWICE suggested taking my work to another level. She really believes in my script. I mean…look how much work she’s talking about taking on. Prepping for a festival, putting together a proposal, submitting to the board – that’s all her. I don’t do any of it. When I balance out the money they’ll spend on auditioning, rehearsing, travel to the fest and accommodations while there… I’m more than getting paid in my opinion.

Think I’ll offer her the full trilogy. She’ll either love it or she won’t. She’s already hot to trot on the first part.

Going to the gym on a daily basis right now. Had a huge, deep crack from my back yesterday and an immediate release of tension. Feeling better. Haven’t returned to my regular rotation yet; just doing the treadmill to open up my hips and back. But it’s a start.

Speaking of pain, I can brush my teeth now. All of them. Still a bit painful in one or two spots, but I can brush. Hip hip hooray.

Heard from S. We must have got our messages crossed. Either that, or my original message went missing in some cyber space black hole. She sent me her script. I…put on a teacher’s hat and gave her some notes. In fairness, she asked me to. And I was gentle, telling her ahead of time I’m being tough on her script because I think it’s worth the time and effort. English is her second language, so she’s got some basic errors that simply come from unfamiliarity with the phrases. While not technically wrong, some of her dialogue sounds a bit stilted. Gave her some suggestions. Her script is littered with passive writing – again, not wrong, just not in favor at the moment. Pointed these things out, gave her workable alternatives. The story was something else. She pinned it on a possession tale. Horror. I like horror. Sadly, she wrote from a film maker’s perspective – meaning she concentrated on her cuts and shots rather than the story. Her plot line was full of holes, full of unanswered questions. I brought these to her attention, giving her my take on the story. Sometimes writers are just blind to what they write; the story is so strong in their heads they fail to communicate it well. Left my note with a statement that I hoped it wasn’t too much, I enjoyed what she’s got, and I’m willing to talk more with her about these issues.

…*sigh* Made myself climb out of bed early this morning. Trying to force my way back to ‘normal’ hours. Hate that. It takes me 10 days to reset my clock to time off – staying up later, sleeping in, chilling. I get a day or two of bliss and deep sleep, then I have to force myself back to an earlier schedule to try and get ready for life. Almost not worth it.

Dutch. My brother’s been sneaky. He bought several cheap Dutch films over the break for me. Knows that in my current manic state, I’m more apt to take on an unknown film with subtitles simply for something new to watch. Watched 2 of the films. Thankfully, they’ve got English subtitles, so for the first viewing I was at least able to understand the plot. But I listened as much as I could. Found that as the films went on and I got used to the way each character spoke, I could make out more and more words. That’s encouraging. Not asking my brain to decode everything, just hear it. That’s the first step. Every once in a while, a light went on in my head – I know that phrase! Good. It’s coming back.

2018. I’ve got a Dutch children’s story to write this year. Months in the studio fiddling with sound for (hopefully) the performance of my work in Rotterdam. Research on a couple of levels: film script notation, historical references for future stories, weird and unsolved mysteries to base stuff on.

I’m not doing anything different. Or, I don’t feel like I am. So it’s difficult to reconcile this support. I find myself questioning it. Why? Why is this happening? Maybe it’s just a numbers game. Get out there long enough and eventually you’ll find someone who likes your stuff.

Or…maybe this is just karma. Maybe I’ve actually been doing things right. Giving so much, and now finally receiving.

Maybe I really do deserve this.

…Now, that’s a new thought.

It never really stops

It is done.

I’ve a few typos and formatting mistakes to fix. But the story is done. Did a full read through of all three parts plus the prologue. I’ll be the first to say it: brilliant. I’ve woven this story brilliantly. Each piece is tense and frightening. Each piece stands alone. Do them front to end, though, and an entirely new picture emerges. Pieces of a puzzle. A magnificent, full length, 90+ page puzzle.

The excitement over finishing it matches the flatness I feel now that it’s done. What the fuck am I gonna do now? Now that I no longer need to think scenes through. Now that all considerations are done and over with. I’ve been working on this for so long – the original first story was concocted in my brain over a year ago. It just never stopped. I put it on pause during Taman and my other work. But it never stopped.

Good Goddess! I may need to go through a mourning period, if that makes any sense. Feels like a big part of me just…turned over in bed, got up, and walked away.

Did not wake up to a merry email in my writer’s account this morning. And yes, for the first time in my life, I was expecting it. The theatre group in the states was scheduled to meet on Friday, and the director said she’d be getting back to me after that. Hoping their work ran late, she was tired, and she decided she’d wait until after she slept before writing those emails. But meh. I know those are all patch kits against a wave of disappointment threatening to leak thru my dyke. The longer it takes to hear from someone, the more likely it’s a rejection.

I’ll put that off. The disappointment can wash over me when I actually hear that no, my work wasn’t selected. For now…try and topple me. I don’t think you’ll get too far. I know what I did on the re-writes of the first part. I know what I just finished. It’s good.

Woke up and opened my personal email to have an old picture of my mother stare back at me, with a message from my uncle: “My niece K posted this on Facebook. A beautiful woman, inside and out.” *projectile vomit* Leave it to the damned family (maybe I should start calling them The Damned Family) to get all sappy and sentimental at this time of year. They’re all drinking too much. *sigh* And I know – I know! – what narcissists do. How they twist shit around. Still. I’ve been playing a dangerous game, occasionally checking in on family members’ pages. They work so hard to make everything seem normal. They make me doubt myself. My own memories. The only thing that keeps me sane is that very, very old memory I pulled up of not knowing whether good mommy or bad mommy was walking into the room – and the accompanying fear. No. Not fear. Terror. I was bloody terrified of my mother. That can not be written off as a ‘drug induced paranoia’ or whatever else they call my claims (guessing on that, but considering I’ve been called a drug addict I think it’s a good stab in the dark). That’s a very early memory, and sadly, very real. I’ve never brought any of this up to them. Why? I’ve already experienced my sister calling me a liar when I said I remembered things from a very young age. You’re lying! No one remembers when they were that young! Yeah. That protest has denial written all over it.

Still having pain in the right side in my mouth The tooth that had the root canal work is the worst, but there’s also a tooth on my lower jaw that hurts. Hard to brush around those areas. Still taking morphine. If this is what I think it is, it’s just got to stop fucking hurting for a while. So keep drugging it. Tuesday I’ll go to the doc’s office and set up an appointment with this physiotherapist she wants me to see. Soft foods, and as little stress as I can manage. Hope it quiets down soon.

I have no hope of my brain quieting down anytime soon. Already dithering between several possible new scripts. The work on Taman has made me want to write more historical dramas, and with an eye towards future work for the same competition, I’m now thinking about Mata Hari and Maya Deren. I’ve also got an idea written down that’s been bugging me. Another sort of thriller. I’ll probably explore that first; several strong scenes are already in my head and won’t stop replaying over and over.

Want to re-set. Take the last day or two of the year and fuck around, without thinking. I need it. Want some new games, too, but my computer system is too out of date to handle anything new. Oh, well. Make do with what I’ve got. Or try.

Come back to the world, Beeps! Your brother needs you!

Yeah. That’s another thing. My bro’s let me write and write and write, without thought towards him or anything else. He waited until I read everything through, then we talked. And I’ve gotta be present, in the here and now, and work a bit of magic for him. Support him, because he’s gonna need it. Cheerlead a little. Pick up a bit more. Help him reach his goals, ’cause in the long run, we both need that.

The door is closing on 2017. It’s been a long and sometimes painful road. But I’ve made more progress this year than ever before. Personally and professionally. And I can acknowledge that.

It’s a good way to end this chapter of life, and start the next. Because it never really stops.

Goals ahead

Pain free. Not now; I’ve run out of paracetamol. Sounds inconsequential while I’m on morphine, but trust me – paracetamol is needed. But the low level ache that woke me up at 4 in the morning was the first I’d felt in 24 hours. My Sunday was pain free. First day in a week. Gives me hope that this will get under control. With drugs, at least.

Also had my first laugh yesterday. My face has been in too much pain to laugh. Hell. It’s been too painful to chew or talk. I’ve been talking with my jaw clamped shut, like a ventriloquist. Made me think back to when I was 8 – got a ventriloquist doll for Xmas. Worked on it, too. Never got good at it, but I learned how using an ‘n’ rather than an ‘m’ can work; people listening to you anticipate your words, and their ears fill in any discrepancies (only works if you KNOW a language). So I amused myself briefly with an old skill, trying out different words and phrases. Found if funnier than funny that the two words I could articulate best were ‘drugs and alcohol’ (you’d need to intimately know my history to understand the humor; trust me that it’s there). Guess it’s a good thing to know that I can still ask for what I need even when I’m in that much pain. Drugs and alcohol.

Sent out Taman. Dithered about it, mostly because of how doped up I felt. That, and I needed to write a 100 word bio as a playwright. Ye Gods! Finally just did it, ignoring my flinching ego as I typed away. It’s hard to write about how great I am as I writer. But, a bio is like a CV. You’re expected to pump yourself up. I used the words I heard given to me over my writing: Lovecraftian, intense, raw. Thank the Goddess I had some compliments to draw on. Made it much easier. Otherwise I’d just sit there and say ‘Yeah, I write. I wrote this, I wrote some other stuff. I think it’s good.’

My doctor’s appointment is at 9:10 this morning. I feel I know what she’s gonna say. She’ll ask about my pain, and have that worried look on her face when I tell her I had to take more morphine than anticipated. She’ll tell me she wants me to see a specialist. She’ll mention TMJ, or the Dutch equivalent. And she’ll tell me to keep taking the drugs, get a refill, and she’ll give me more if I need it because ain’t nothing stopping this except drugging it out (if I am reluctantly turned into the drug addict I’ve been accused of being I’ll…well, I don’t know what I’ll do, but it’ll be ironic).

Meh. Plenty of writers were/are drug addicts.

Finally ate. Managed during the last week to choke down stuff like half a cup of oatmeal or a scrambled egg, but never more than 400 calories a day. Had a real meal last night. Still soft food, but it had more calories than I’d eaten for days. Have to take it slow. Food now makes me feel a bit ill. Good at first, then a bit ill because my body isn’t used to it. Drinking more water. Discovered how hungry I was just for water once my bro got me some straws. Long, long drinks of water. Feeling good enough to wonder if I managed to shed a few pounds during this. Don’t want to check the scale. Goddess forbid I do that and find the number still hasn’t changed. Nope. Better to feel like I dropped weight. Sometimes you need the psychological edge more than the real thing.

Pretty sure at this point I won’t be going to language class. Even if I’m not hurting, I woke up before 4 a.m. I be tired, and on morphine. Yes, I can think again and yes, I think I can even do some Dutch if pushed (like when facing a doctor who doesn’t speak much English). I just don’t want to push. I’ve been pushing, or feeling like I have, all week just to stay sane and not claw my brains out of my cranium with my fingernails. And today of all days, I’m taking the advice of everyone who’s ever met me. I’m being easier on myself. So, no school. I be lolling around and napping. I will go to the lesson and deal with the teachers in person rather than via text. The class is very important to me, and I want them to know that. So I’ll write it out – my problem, how I shouldn’t talk, the pain, the meds, the regret at not being able to sit in class and pay attention during the afternoon. In Dutch. Or I’ll try.

Not so with Thursday’s teacher. She’ll get a text.

Finding myself writing again. In the evenings, as I watch tv. My eyes are open, I react when my brother does, but I’m not really seeing anything. Zero retention of anything I’ve watched. Nope. I’m deep in scripts and story lines. Plotting out scenes. Contemplating mysteries to write about. It’s a bit annoying, really. I get to see the opening of a show, then I’m gone during the bulk of it, only to come back to watch the end. The upshot of this is I feel I’ve seen too much of the show to watch it again, yet missed too much to know what really happened.

😉 Kind of like my life.

Still. I feel like a wide, clear path is opening for me. Always knew were I wanted to be, just didn’t know how to get there.

Goals ahead.

Thoughts and thanks

Ninety minutes.

I’m not a big phone talker. Maybe when I was 14, but not since then. Use the phone to make a date or a plan to talk in person. So much better! But last night, I was on the phone for an hour and a half with S, the casting director from the film. Unexpected? Absolutely. But not unwanted, even tho the call came in around 10 at night (she’s a night owl).

I think I might have found a real friend.

Heard about the last day of filming, which went great. Heard how much everyone missed me, which felt great. And then, it was just talk. Talk about life, relationships, self confidence, our past…Well, we had a long conversation, so we covered a lot.

She said I was a role model. That she thought I was brave. I’m a bit stunned. Me? Brave? Maybe in front of the camera, but other than that I know how deeply chicken shit I tend to be. Yet, there it was: I was tagged as brave. I think that might be the first time in my life I’ve earned that particular label. I don’t feel like a role model. But then, I’m older. I’ve let a lot of stuff drop. I used to worry about people finding me attractive. Now I think about being a good person. I used to worry about saying too much, being too blunt. Now I state my opinions simply, without an argumentative tone in my voice. I understand how, as a younger woman, that might look brave and like someone you want to emulate. And good if that’s what it is! If I can take one day off of another woman’s internal suffering because they admire how I deal with life or men or politics or whatever, then I’ve lived a life worth living. I know how long I’ve sat in the shit. I don’t think anyone deserves to feel as bad about themselves as I have.

And I am so tired of seeing women tear themselves down. That shit that surfaces from competitiveness and petty jealousies. The nasty comments behind the back and to the face. The use of male branded put downs, male dominated ideals, male led lives. We have allowed ourselves to be led around the ring by our noses, just like the pieces of meat so many misogynists see us as. And those of us caught in that web deny it: I’m not jealous; she’s just a whore.

Can we be honest? Can we say that a lot of that surfaces because we’re all dick hounds after a good fuck? Because we all want this fairy-tale ideal we were fed from birth, that a perfect life includes a husband who has a good job? Okay, I know I’m ignoring the lesbians (sorry) and the non-sexual people out there. I’m making a point. This shaming of women BY women comes out of competition. It’s insidious, and it’s been instilled in us for forever.

Every time we do it, we play their game. Every time we do it, we support their foul opinions of us. Every time we do it, we kill ourselves and hamper our futures and the futures of all our daughters.

It’s got to stop.

If the only way you feel you can get ahead in life is to tear someone else down, you’re not making any progress.

I guess considering the world these days, that attitude alone should make me a role model. Embrace it, Beeps. You’re a knight in shining armour. Hm. And thus, comes understanding of how roles are thrust upon us. You just…live long enough that you become an oddity. An oddity that people admire, but an oddity nonetheless. And then they tell you, and you begin to monitor your own behavior. You start to become what they see you as, because a part of you doesn’t want to let them down. So you try. You reach for the bigger part of yourself. You keep doing that, keep trying.

And so you become.

That’s not to say you buy your own marketing. Therein lies the problem. I guarantee you that at the base of any star’s suicide is a deep seated belief that they didn’t really live up to their image. Maybe it’s not the ultimate tipping point, but it’ll be in the mix. It’s a big and ugly problem. Because people need those heroes. People need role models, the personalities larger than life to inspire and lead them thru dark times. But it can feel like a lie. I’m not really that good, I’m not really that smart, or that talented, or that beautiful… You need to balance what is and what is perceived.

Tread lightly, oh walkers of life! You never know when you will become. And you never quite realize, from where you are, just how difficult that balancing act is.

So. I have a friend. Admiration. Dizzying amounts of respect. It is as tough to take as the opposite. Especially after years of having no friends, no admiration, and no (or little) respect. And I don’t want to fuck it up. I want friends. I want people in my life. People who are happy to see me, people who are sad if I’m ill. People to share things with, because fun is amplified a thousand fold when you share it.

I am…at a loss. I don’t know why I’m getting this outpouring. I don’t know what I did so right to deserve it; if I did know, I’d keep doing it. All I can do is be the brightest me I can be. Listen, care. Slow down enough to really interact. Share my sense of humor. Hug people when I know they need it.

Waking every day with a sense of thankfulness. It’s totally new. I’ve had it for short bursts, over little accomplishments. This feels big, and solid. Like a river of lava flowing thru my life: huge, encompassing, and burning away all those truly inconsequential things that have been hampering me for so very long.

Thank you.

Blend me

There. Downtime taken. Not easy. I was super squirrelly. Couldn’t actually nap, but I rested as much as possible and applied arnica lotion to my bruises throughout the day. Kept getting little jolts of excitement every time I went online, seeing posts from my film friends and friend requests and happily confirmed friendships and DAMN! I’ve never felt like I’ve had this many friends before.

Those feelings from the set are still oozing out of me. No longer from my hands; that part is over. Now it oozes from my eyes, as I tear up thinking about how much fun we had. I just felt so included and wanted. I still do, because of the continued online explosion.

But today it’s back to reality. The big equalizer: scrubbing out the toilet. Doesn’t matter if you’re King or Shit-Sweeper; scrubbing out a toilet brings everyone down to the same level. There’s dishes to clean, garbage to take out, a few items to pick up at the store, laundry to shift around. Get up and get moving again at the gym. Try to keep it all light, drink juice, take a break if I need it.

I still don’t have my holiday lights up yet.

Winter has come to the Netherlands. It’s been here for several days, but I’ve been too busy to pay much attention. Hail, sleet, and snow rain down from the cold skies every day. We might even get a little accumulation before the day is out. Almost hope for it; some of my new friends are from warmer climates and they talked about wanting to see a real snow. 🙂 I refrained from saying anything about ‘real snows’ or drifts five feet high when they said that. Dutch snow, I can handle. Even if a lot comes down, it doesn’t stick around.

…Have to admit, my deepest dreams are for family members to notice my posts about the film and show some interest. Maybe say ‘well done!’ I’m not holding my breath. They’ve had 52 years to tell me ‘well done’, 52 years to support me doing what I love, and so far all they’ve offered me are half-assed jokes at my expense. But I’d be lying if I said any different. I want that recognition from them. I want my mother to be proud of me. I want my father to acknowledge my beauty. Even with both my parents dead, and voluntarily cutting myself off from the rest of the family, I still want it. There’s the saddest thing of all, because I know I’ll never get it. Not from my mother or father. Not from my oldest brother or sister. Not from any of my aunts or uncles on my mother’s side. The extended family from my father’s side has always supported me from the moment time I met them. That was my very first clue: here were family members who took me as family, shared their lives with me in words and pictures, and supported me. Said ‘wow!’ or ‘well done!’ or ‘I’m so excited for you!’ They barely know me – we’ve never actually met in person – and yet they are so much more open and loving than my real family. It told me so much.

And it made me so sad. Oh, I’m done asking why. At least for today. The why doesn’t bloody well matter in the end, does it? The only thing that ends up mattering is what the hell you’re going to do with the mess you got dealt in life.

I see now, in hind sight… Ach! I was going to start saying I should have this or that. Fuck that. I did what I did. Chose how I chose. It taught me things, things I wouldn’t have learned any other way. I’ll embrace that. It’s hard to say thanks for it. Felt like a lot of shit to go thru, but maybe that’s because I’m bull headed and stubborn.

For now, I feel inspired. Fired up with standing up and being noticed. Moving forward for reals. Feels like my feet are firmly planted on the ground. I’m not building castles in the air. I’m not living on pipe dreams. I’m doing. I’m being.

And while part of me wishes I could take this knowledge back to myself and change things, let me make this abundantly clear to the Universe and anyone who’s listening: I DON’T WANT TO GO AROUND AGAIN. I want to see and be in the now, take the joy I can, love who I trust, do what I’m meant to do.

Holy fuck. Am I saying I want to…live?

That word has new meaning for me now. Live used to mean exist. I existed. I put up with the pain. But there’s a whole other dimension to that word. To truly live. Wow. It’s an immense feeling.

I want to keep that feeling, even when I’m scrubbing out the toilet today. I’ll live it. It’s just a tiny seed in the huge fruit of life. It’s hard, and tasteless. You might hurt yourself if you bite down on it too hard. It might be a bit bitter tasting, or slimy, or just gross. Don’t eat it. Consume the fruit. Spit the seeds. Everyone’s been telling me that, in their own words. Stop focusing on all the bad in life. Look on the bright side. Why can’t you take a compliment? But I didn’t have enough fruit. I was getting all seeds. My life was a pomegranate. And I don’t like pomegranates.

I’d been eating life raw. Very raw, and with no help from a cheery television chef telling me how to make this shit edible. Now, it feels like I’ve got a fully stocked kitchen with all the latest gadgets and gizmos. Just hit a switch and all the work is done for you.

Go on; do it.

Blend me.

May I have another?

Behold, the knees. I’m on the left, with the grey socks. My 21 year old co-star is on the right. After cut was called yesterday, we went up to change clothes and compare bruises. Don’t know how many times we ended up doing the death scene, but as you can see, we put everything we had into it.

This has to rank as the number one experience of my life. Been trying to think what might even come close to topping it, and I’m drawing a blank. The dedication of these young film makers – barely any sleep, push, push, and keep a great attitude. The sheer professionalism of them, from the camera work to the thought behind the shots. And damn! They were all so nice. I think I’m in love with each and every one of them.

That love translated into good work. When it came time for the big scene I drew it up – the tears, the despair over watching as your own child turns and kills you. Time after time. It was right there, behind my belly-button, and all it took was a bit of breathing. M, my costar, locked eyes as I went into it. And the further I went, the further she went. We began to feed off each other – the kind of thing you hear about on celebrity talk shows. The room faded, the crew were a background noise. It was the two of us, staring into each other’s eyes, falling into a world of pain and torment. And it. was. glorious. The best work I’ve ever been able to do, because everyone around me was that good.

…To be able to do that… To have an opportunity like that… I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how much it means to me.

Oh, Goddess! And to work with an actor who could match me!! That was another world. Gone were any inhibitions, any doubts. Had the director asked us to strip naked to do the shot, I think we could have without blinking an eye. That’s how intense and personal it was.

My hands never stopped leaking an oily sweat the entire shoot. That was the mania: uncontrolled, and oozing out of me even when I didn’t want it. But I didn’t shake. I didn’t falter. I didn’t back down or compromise. And it all got funneled into the role.

And there’s a story within a story here. Because not only was the shoot itself fabulous, the time around the shoot was fabulous, too. We did the filming at the home of the casting director, and her parents were around for most of the time. Her father honored me several times – he tried my homemade cordial for my voice, loved it, and promptly shoved some money in my hands to buy two bottles. He shared a family photo album of a trip to India. He spoke to me of his daughter, and his life. And his daughter! Oh, she’s a bright one! Found myself, as usual, spilling my guts in that no-nonsense way I seem to have these days. She said, ‘It’s kind of like therapy for you, isn’t it? I can tell by the way you say these things’. And yes, she’s right. I knew that a while ago. She’s just the first person to bring it up. She also told me how difficult it was for her to think of me as 52. ‘You’re very young. Like part of you hasn’t aged at all.’

Oh, I’d love to spend more time with her, and with her family! Good people. Straight talk, unafraid to say those things that need saying. Unafraid to hear what I have to say.

…I’ve had a taste of being a film star. Not just in name, but truly being a film star. Because it’s not what you do, it’s how people treat you that makes all the difference. I can only assume this translates into whatever field you study; that finally getting the accolades and notice you’ve worked so hard for always feels this good. I have been passed over so much – wait! I’ve allowed myself to be passed over so much! better! – , and these past two days are a big wake-up call on that front. Gratitude. Real gratitude for who I am and what I do. I feel accepted. In full, and without having to apologize for my weird sense of humor or the funny voices that sometimes burst out of me or anything else I do.

This is amazing. Absolutely amazing.

And all I want to do is fall down on my very bruised knees and scream THANK YOU! at the top of my lungs because prayer is far too quiet for what I feel.

This is me, actualized. In total. Giving it my all. Burning the way I know I was made to burn. Not turned away. Not ignored because other people were uncomfortable or didn’t know what to do or say. I was watched. I was admired – and TOLD. I was – dare I say it? – loved as much as I loved. I saw it and felt it. I was hugged not because that’s what you do at the end of filming, but because our emotions were overbrimming, because we knew we’d all shared something special and unique.

…I’ve no real plans, other than showering and babying my injuries. Thinking of maybe making a surprise visit on Monday to the set. I still owe the casting director’s dad a bottle of my cordial, and, well… As I was saying good-bye, and telling everyone how sad I was that it was over, someone said ‘you could always come visit on Monday’ and that’s just been turning in my brain overnight. I could see everyone again. Take care of the cordial, and pick up the lights. Drop off my expenses.

The more I consider it, the more reasons I find for going one more time.

Thank you. May I have another?


For the first time in my life, I have to (gulp) admit to the reality of my mother’s fears. I could have got a big head doing this. A really big head.

I was admired, complimented, and helped to within a hair’s breadth of my life.

Got there early because, well, that’s what I do. Always, if possible. The director was working on script changes. In 20 minutes I had a new script in my hands. Essentially the same, but the group couldn’t find a fake hand that looked good, so they changed it to brains. So, arms to brains, move around the eye references a bit…basically, screw with the dialogue just enough to make it maddening. No worries; that’s what rehearsal is for, right? Use the new script and learn it. Met my fellow cast members, and I’ve got to say the group did an excellent job. The female playing my daughter has my blue eyes, and the man playing my husband is appropriate looking age-wise and body-wise (not to tall nor too short). We could be a family. Spent the afternoon running scenes, trying out different approaches, different timing and actions. Worked on establishing a believable connection between daughter and mother characters.

But it was the side stuff that truly affected me. The fact that during the rehearsal runs, I received no corrections, no ‘try this’ – nothing! – while the other actors were asked to do it again, try this, I don’t believe you’re feeling that, etc. In fact, I just had to ask. Is this working? Do you like what I’m doing? Oh, the shiny, happy face the director turned to me! Yes, he said, I love it. You’re believable and creepy all at the same time. Or how silent the room became every time I opened my mouth to give my opinion. Or how everyone stepped back when I offered a suggestion to another actor. How the casting director took me shopping afterwards to find a dress for my role, how she told me she’d noticed me during the theatre open meetings, that I’d stood out from the rest of the crowd immediately for her, that I was SO bleeding good and would I please help the other actors and lead them in warm-up exercises before the shoot? Goddess! She even told me how she was the driving force behind hiring me, even before auditions. I kept telling them they want you, that you’re the one who can do this, she said. They kept asking me, why are you pushing her before the auditions? Let’s see what she can do. I told them they don’t know who they’re dealing with, that they should be thanking you for taking the role… Or how my ‘daughter’ automatically helped me in our fight scene to gracefully fall to the floor without hurting myself. The sheer respect I felt! Wow! Now I know why old white men fight so hard for that chairman’s seat on the board of directors. Power and respect. Heady stuff.

I kept in mind everything I ever said about having acting opportunities. I made sure to compliment the other actors. I thanked everyone. Cracked a few jokes now and then (it wasn’t hard; my wig kept falling off) to make everyone laugh. Be not just a good actor, but a good person to have working on your team because she’s pleasant, nice, and just fun to be around.

Was told that of course there’s an opening night to which I’m invited. Hells Bells! From what I heard yesterday, it sounds like this is a very serious final project. They’re going to be advertising on tv. The school also hosts an awards night for best this and that, including actors (the casting director told me this with a knowing tone in her voice, as if she felt I really had a chance at winning an award).

This is bigger than I anticipated. …What did I fall into? A dream?

…No, it’s not a dream. My feet hurt too much for it to be a dream.

Scheduled for two hard days of filming, Thursday and Friday. Hopefully they won’t need me on Monday, but we have that, too, if we need it. Most of all, I’m worried about sweating. Can tell I’m off my exercise schedule; my hot flashes are back with a vengeance. And the wig is hot. The dress is hot. I’m just really, really hot the entire time. In some ways, that’s working for me. I can’t get too excited right now when I’m in costume or I’ll sweat all my make-up off. But it’s a forced calm, and that takes effort in itself.

Really need to use my mini-break today to get to the gym. Stood for most of yesterday, and my hips/back are feeling it. Add in hours of travel on the metro, and I need to move for sure today or I’ll be in agony by Saturday. Also need to meet the casting director downtown. Overheard a concerned discussion on lighting, and offered up our two LED stage lights. My bro mentioned them earlier, and here was an opportunity to ‘shine’ (ha!) just that bit more with the group. So I’m bringing them downtown to her, since she’s traveling from Den Haag. Easier. Meet half way. And it goes on my expense account.

Did not smoke yesterday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. And it was only on the trip home that I even thought about it. Then, I wanted it. Before then…never even crossed my mind. Who needed a toke during all that excitement and fun? I had a reason to stay sharp and clear, a reason to stay sober. Everything I expected from myself. Get me into an environment I can truly engage in, and I don’t even think about smoking.

Two more days of standing. Two more days of heat. Of early mornings and a plastered, false smile. Of false eyelashes, a dress that’s a little tighter than I want, and nylons.

Ah! Bliss.

Film star

Wow. I was gonna do some improv… I thought the dialogue wasn’t that good. But you…somehow, you made those words sound natural. I don’t know how you did that.

That was the director, yesterday afternoon. Truth is, I was made to stand in front of three 20 something year olds and forced to listen to compliments. Yes! Torture. The casting director told me how, when she first heard from the theatre group that someone was interested, she prayed – prayed – that it was me. I heard how blown away they were that I’d memorized the dialogue. How brilliant my delivery was, how perfect I was, how wonderful and amazing everything that came out of my mouth was.

The ego is stroked, people! WOW! Is this the way other people feel? I mean…good about themselves? Is this how other people can have such a positive outlook on life – because they allow themselves to hear the compliments and really take them in? Because there’s no one in their lives raining on their parade, telling them they’re not really good or successful because of whatever reason? Is this success? Self confidence? …Even self-like? (Won’t go so far as to say self-love, but self-like is a big step for me.)

I knew I had it. The call that came in at 8 in the evening to tell me I had it was anti-climatic.

So, to business. I’ve three days of filming in Den Haag. Going to have to be there by 7 or 8 in the morning, so I’m prepping now by getting my ass out of bed at 5. Get used to those early hours again. The script is in flux, as most film scripts are right up to the point they shoot the scenes. I was told they’re thinking of doing it straighter, hold back on the creep factor (which, apparently, I nailed as well). The casting director wants me in a dress; I was asked my dress size and a full body picture was requested. Don’t yet know if I’ll be wearing a blond wig or going natural, but I was told to expect make-up and hair preparations. Ooo! I’ll feel like a real film star. There may be rehearsals as well, so my three days in Den Haag might stretch to four or five.

For moi, it’s taking care of the animal. Getting to the gym to walk each day – no push, no pull, just walk. Keep the back in shape. Take my vitamins and pills. Get to bed, hopefully a bit earlier each night to help me thru these 5 am wake-ups. Stay calm, and focused. Do what I can to combat the bags under my eyes.

Because I was also told the group’s teacher was a working film director who has worked on many Dutch films. Ding! There’s my in. He’ll see my work no matter what; he’s the one who’s got to grade it. Have a little fantasy of going to the screening – film students always have screenings, even if it’s only at their school – and their teacher comes up to me. Ah! he says. You do wonderful work! You know, I know of someone who could use you… And the next day I’m contacted by someone who’s in the biz, who’s offering me a small part with pay. Which leads to another part, and another part, and bigger paychecks all the way along.

I like that fantasy.

…You know, for a 52 year old woman who’s spent a long time in rural situations far from the glitz and glamour of movie-lands throughout the world AND who doesn’t have an agent, I think starring in my second film is pretty damned impressive. No matter how you want to cut it up: it’s a student thing, I’m not getting paid, blah-de-blah. It’s still fucking impressive.

And I get to miss another week of language lessons. We’re filming next Thursday and the following Monday. My Monday teachers will get the full news, along with what is now an 11 page hand written kid’s story in Dutch (not yet finished). My Thursday teacher will get an SMS on Wednesday telling her I’m not coming. No reason given; I don’t want to waste the money on my phone and I don’t know how to correctly write it all out.

I feel like a kid. Not only do I get to go, dress up and pretend to be someone else for three days, I get out of school for it.

…Oh. For the record: I went relaxed, but took everything with me. A change of clothes, some make-up, jewelry, and the wig. Had occasion to laugh heartily on the trip there: I was waiting at Beurs metro station for my connection when the casting director called and asked me if I could bring the wig along, just for the director to see what I looked like as a blond. Sure, I said, knowing it was in the bag at my feet. Got there, loads of time, no stress, no worry, with the easiest possible path there and zero confusion on directions (even without buying a map). Into the bathroom to get my hair tied up and under the wig. Damn! Was I pleased I’d brought along a change of clothes! Huge sweat stains under my arms. Change the shirt, put on the wig, darken my eyebrows…even had time to just sit in the lobby and acclimate myself to the hair. All in all, no, I didn’t need that extra time but I’m VERY happy I built it in.

Now it’s a weekend of mirror work. Tilt my head, smile, try different facial expressions. Keep running the scenes each day for memory’s sake.

‘Cause a week from today, I’ll be a film star.

So easy to fly


52. I can no longer say I’m barely in my fifties. You can get away with that at 51, but at 52 you’re officially IN there. Two years since the big 5-0 and running towards 55. I gotta say, it don’t feel bad. Especially since I really can run towards 55 – if I’m so inclined.

So. *ahem* I got the film! I got the film!! Signed into my google account yesterday (I’ve several email accounts under my pseudonyms) to find a message from the casting director asking me to contact her. Sent out an excited email in reply. Then I signed in FB to find she’d also contacted me out there. With two messages sent to me in quick succession, both containing phone numbers, I weighed my desire: did I want this bad enough to pick up my mobile and call a Dutch number? Yes. Yes, I did. And, oh Goddess! She’s a fan. She saw me in the last play – even spoke to me after a performance. Her picture is cut off online, but I think I may remember her. She sure as hell remembered me, and I had that weird moment when someone remembers you and your memory doesn’t dredge up a corresponding memory to remember them. Ach, I’m so naturally bad at that type of thing! Anyway, she was VERY excited to have me – ME – onboard. So very excited I got excited, and had a damned difficult time winding down last night. It’s a psychological thriller, and my part is big. Not the main part; that’s left for the 20-something actor who’ll play my son (can you imagine? me as a mother?). But I’ll be needed every day for filming (must be a mother issue psychological thriller…gee, I can relate). I look forward to some real acting – crying, screaming, trembling with fear or anger. Letting it all go on camera.

I’m gonna be in a mo-vie! I’m gonna be in a mo-vie!

I’m just so excited! This may be the best birthday present ever.

My head’s just flying. Imagining people asking me to work with them again. Imagining bigger directors seeing my work and contacting me for roles. Imagining, even, collecting awards for roles I haven’t played yet (yes, I’m THAT far into the future). Then there are the writing fantasies: I’ll talk about my work. Someone will get interested. Someone will say, gee why don’t you take that to film? And on and on and on…

Here’s how full my head has been: I haven’t even had time to dream of Taman being well received.

Did clear my scriptwriting desktop. Whatever faults lie in Taman, stand. I think I got most of them. Now I’m ready to load up the thrillers.

Came to a very clear decision yesterday on my Thursday language lessons. I’m not continuing them after this semester. Just. not. worth it. The room is too crowded, and my teacher…well. I think she’s got a problem with me. Was nagged yesterday on pronunciation of a word I’ve known for over two years. Do not know what she was on about; she kept repeating the word and telling me I was saying it wrong. I told her I couldn’t hear any difference between what she said and what I said. She kept nagging at me. I told her I didn’t actually CARE if I made a few mistakes here and there in Dutch pronunciation, as long as I was understood. “People will know you’re American”, she told me. So? I asked. I then clearly stated that I’ve never claimed to be anything OTHER than a dumb American, and I wasn’t going to pretend I was. Besides, I said, everyone has a bleeding accent. Even with your own people. And then there’s the mumblers. To tell me that there’s only ONE way to say a word, and that if I don’t say that word exactly the way she tells me I’ll look or sound like an idiot (or whatever she meant to imply), is complete and utter bullshit. Especially when, post this discussion, my co-student read a sentence aloud that made ME cringe at her poor pronunciation of every word – and she received no nagging nor correction.

Homey ain’t gonna put up with dat no more.

Side note: I kept my temper. My teacher might not have felt that was true; she brought out that passionate side of me that drives my words with a forcefulness some people find intimidating. But I didn’t lose my cool, and I knew that. How she perceived it is her own thing.

I feel like I stand on a knife’s edge. There’s a tipping point at my feet. Something’s in the air. One way lies success; the other, oblivion. I know it as sure as I’m sitting here (or I’m just really, really lost in a manic spree…that could be true, too). Feels a little unstuck in time, if I’m honest. My mind’s eye shoots out, far into the future, but my real eyes see my reality. Then I get a jolt, coming back into my body. Doing my best to anchor myself: this is real, this is true, this is life. Even if I get many more film roles or get my own writing produced some things will still hold true. I’ll still sit with my brother watching tv in the evenings. I’ll still get up, shit, make coffee, and write. That’s life. That’s my anchor. My armpits will still stink, I’ll still sweat at the gym, and it will still be difficult to say no to cakes and sweets. Reality. No amount of success will take that away. Remember that.

Today is all fun. Play games, enjoy films, and go out for some Greek food later on. Even if it rains (and it sounds wet outside), that rain will be magical.

Because today it’s so easy to fly.