And that’s okay

I’ve got a thin veneer of “fine” over me. Read thru my script; found less than five errors. Whipped through the paperwork for immigration. Rested my knee. Concentrated on the positive, the steps forward.

Underneath, things are simmering. Fear, naturally. Fear over my status here. Got an appointment on Thursday in Amsterdam to get some paperwork notarized. Bleeding 8:15 in the morning, which means traveling at a time I’m usually asleep (at least lately). Hope to push both me and my bro thru at the same time; we did last time, and our cases are tied together, so it makes sense. Otherwise, there will be another fly up to the big city on a different day to take care of my stuff. Last minute travel plans add to my anxiety. Not that they should; trains here run on time. Still…I feel it.

Physically, I’ve become a slug. Very little movement during my days. And I can tell I’ve let it go too long. To be fair to myself, I did get out on some walks. But it wasn’t the same, and I can tell I’m beginning to jones out on the lack of endorphins. Must get to the gym and sweat. Really don’t want to do it now that inertia has set in. But, no choice. I am determined to stay on top of my mind, and regular exercise is a big part of that – like it or not.

Been pulling news articles about the strange and wonderful – or things that could possibly be strange and wonderful. I like the idea of anchoring my stories in reality. What a change from twenty years ago, when I concentrated on sci-fi and fantasy! Now, give me some concrete, real fact I can hang my fancies on – that added dimension gives me extra shivers. And, wow. Thrillers have become my mainstream. What creepy thing happens? What fear can I inject into the audience? Those are my only questions these days.

Happy to say that with enough time and pull back from my creation, the rape scene included in my script didn’t hit me as hard when I read it as it did when I wrote it. Still a trigger potential. Still a short, terse paragraph for a gripping scene. But I saw beyond the rape, to the whole story. My message is very clear throughout. No role should feel jilted by lack of lines or interesting subtext. I kept tech suggestions to a minimum, with only one or two sounds used and simple blue lighting for nighttime. I suggest, in the production notes, to pull copyright free photographs from the web and project them in the theatre. But only a suggestion! I hope the scant tech needs attract people, and the suggestions encourage them to explore the depth of the material.

Feels like I’m finally on holiday. And I suppose I am; I was stuck in 1943 for a number of weeks as I wrote. So I’m not riding myself for my lack of interest in learning Dutch, or my reluctance to do a super-clean of this corner or that. I find I just want to be right now.

And that’s okay.

I deserve this

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

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

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

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

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

Excellent. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I digress.

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

I’m 51. And selfish.

I know it.

In my mind

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

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

I’m still putting my all into it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Nod to Vanity

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

Yes, that’s me on the left.

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

So far, no reply.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Swimming

Lesson learned. When I began this whole theatre thing, I didn’t know if my health would allow me to do it. It’s always been precarious, and with all my meds (and this older body), my health has become downright rickety.

Needed two days down after ‘performing’ for our small group. Planned to be tougher than that, but woke up Friday dead to the world; had four cups of coffee to put an end to my caffeine headache and promptly fell asleep for another three hours. I’ll say performing is performing (pretty much), so I’ll use a two day gauge as my guide. Or as my minimum. Maybe that’s better: minimum. Standing around in a crowd of fans for an hour after performing might just add a day or two to that schedule.

My manic episodes have almost ceased, if that’s what they are. Mostly, they consist of me garnishing huge laughs on stage and then standing around gathering praise afterwards. Sequels to what I felt on Wednesday night, only bigger (because you know the sequel has to be bigger).

And time off was needed; woke up Thursday with a full nose and a scratchy throat. Babied myself. Scolded myself into sitting around and resting on Friday.

I think I’m ready to get back to the day-to-day.

First up is exercise. Of course. Said to a fellow actor that I have to move or I feel pain. Nothing like being accurate with your own Catch 22s. A couple of days down, and my side pain is kicking up again, aggravated. Off to the gym for a light session today. Still have a scratchy throat, still not 100%, so keep it light.

This prolonged lag has me a bit worried. I’ve got to do back to back performances on our first weekend, then be ready to go again the weekend after. It might take me all week to recoup.

My brother is more than supportive right now. Well…he sees it. The joy. The sheer, unbelievable JOY I experience just having this opportunity again. If my knees were in better shape, I’d get down on them to thank the Goddess for these precious memories.

Because I no longer doubt. For so many years, I questioned myself. Was my mother right? Was I just not talented enough to give acting a chance?

No. The bitch was wrong. Every bit of me is screaming it.

But, then, my mother…We’re talking about a person who could make a fish feel guilty for swimming.

And let me tell you (seeing as I am that fish), allowing myself to swim again after so long is an unexpected treasure. I knew I enjoyed it. I knew, even, that I loved it. But I forgot how much. I made myself forget it when I gave up on my dreams.

It hurt so much to turn my back on myself.

Now, more than ever, I’ve got strikes against me. I’m older. Have this illness to contend with. It’s going to be an uphill battle all the way.

But I have to. I am the salmon, returning up stream to spawn. It’s in my nature to battle the rapids, the rocks, to take on the odds and win.

I’m a fish. And baby, I’m swimming.

A Different Kind of Wallowing

My mind needed that. Needed to shut down, no words, no thinking. I lulled it with television programs and films. And I woke up with this crazy idea in my head about my role.

Headed over to Hesseplaats and hit the cheap shop. Aha! Forty-nine cents for a pair of outrageously ugly hair clips and a whopping €1.79 for some small, ugly, red-rimmed reading glasses.

Kept my mouth shut about it. Went last night to the photo shoot/rehearsal, excused myself before pinning my hair up with the uber ugly hair pins (on either side of my head, sticking out in the fashion of a 12 year old; completely inappropriate for a 50 year old) and donned the glasses. Grins all the way around when I walked in. But still! No voice, no voice. Not until the first line. Then I let gave it to them.

My eyes scrunched up, as if I had problems seeing. My upper lip raised over my teeth in the ultimate nerd facial expression. And the voice! Nasal. Whining. Somewhere between Urkel and Fran Drescher.

The room exploded in laughter so loud it almost threw me.

Then it was the piece de resistance: the long, uncomfortable silence between my character and my partner. I’d tried a lot of things to fill the time, but nothing that felt really solid. Nothing that felt really funny. Not so anymore! I needed to get my phone on the table for a bit later on, so I decided this silence was the time to take it out of my purse and set it down. And what could be more natural than to take a facial tissue out and blow your nose after such a move? I made the noise through my mouth, of course. I can’t actually blow like that. It was loud, and long, and completely obnoxious. Something no one could speak over.

I was told, later, two things. One, of the other actors was laughing so hard she couldn’t catch her breath. Two, my partner almost lost his composure at that point and had to struggle to keep a straight face.

Afterwards, the director said only three words to me: We’re keeping it.

This is to say nothing of the fact that my partner and I were the only pair to have our lines fully memorized, to be this deep into choreography, to have the kind of sympatico needed to pull off this comedy.

I went for it. Full on, no holds barred, no consideration given to intimidating or scaring any of my fellow actors.

And I stole the show.

Again.

Somehow, I think my picture is actually gonna make that promotional poster….

The rest of the duos did their thing. No one could muster up a laugh for anyone else equal to the smallest I received. …There were chuckle points. I made a point of paying close attention to everyone. But the people I saw perform last year are essentially doing the same thing this year. Same inflections. Same body movements. Same everything. It was very noticeable.

Yes, I raised the bar. Everyone now knows we run the risk of the first act going over like gang busters and the rest falling flat in comparison. I’m not exactly comfortable putting other people in that position. It can cause a lot of hard feelings. Especially since this is something I don’t even have to work at much. It’s as second nature to me as breathing.

And it threw me. The excitement. I came home at 10:30, smoked and talked my brother’s head off til midnight, tried to sleep til 1:30, got up and smoked some more, and finally drifted off sometime after two a.m. My head would not shut up. My mania went into overload. Every scenario grander than the last, winding me up.

This is what frightened my mom. This overexcitement post performance. I try to keep a lid on it, but that’s truly impossible. In comparison, I’m a champ at handling my negative thoughts. Much more success at breaking them. This…this was intoxicating on a level that rivaled the worst addiction. I recognize that.

It was like a mind orgasm. Everything felt good. I felt good – no, great about myself. My abilities. Confident, assured. Happy. So bloody happy! Nothing else compares.

Down to earth: the girlfriend of the director was there. Three sentences into her greeting, she slipped in ‘I’ve been hearing great things about you’. Uh-oh. Later on, during her scene, she felt the need to grab my water bottle and drink from it – thereby destroying it for my use later on. Two moves trying to show her dominance. She’s got nothing to fear on the romantic level. But as an actress…last night, baby, she got served.

Did maybe find someone to be a friend. Another female, one who was pulled in last minute and lives in a neighboring city. Don’t know her well. But she proved to be an American American, not a Dutch person who fools you into thinking they’re American because they do the accent so bloody well. She was very nice, open, friendly. We walked to the metro with the director and another actor. Ah, and they gave me props on the walk. Compliments, excited chatter over my next script.

My ego feels fat and full today. I don’t want my ego to become a monster. Don’t want this to become my norm. I must learn to sip a little bit from each encounter. Take a taste, but don’t gobble. I’m gobbling right now, and I know it. It comes from years of ego-starvation. But I intend to instill the same discipline I use with my exercise regime. Steady progress. Keep my head on straight.

…After today, that is. Today, I’ll still wallow. It’s just a different kind of wallowing.

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.

For now, it’s good

Nothing helps me get a grip like hard exercise. Make your heart work, your muscles ache, your lungs gasp. Brings me right back into my body, no questions asked. After I push through the first wall, you’ll see me grinning like a fool as sweat drips off my face. I enjoy being that grounded.

I’ve definitely changed, inside and out.  Twenty years ago I would have been intimidated by the free weights; too many guys hanging around admiring their muscles as they jerk twenty kilos. These days, it’s a no brainer. Go, and do. Ignore them, ignore them. Ignore the glances in my direction. I need to do this. Fuck off with your youthful judgement.

Today I slipped on a pair of pants that have hovered somewhere between tight and too small for a year – and they were loose. I’ve more than an inch around my waist and enough bagginess in the butt to make me pull them up once in a while.

Hooray!!

Also received an email from a real person regarding a script. Thanks for your submission, and we’re making our decision by August 10. I can live with that.

Started putting down ideas for Night Witches (or is it The Night Witches? don’t know yet). I want it to end like this, so this must happen before then. Which leads be back another step, that must happen first. A quick glance at my acceptance letter showed me there’s no time nor cast limit. Fan-fucking-tastic. Forget all that. Write what you want. Trying to keep it to 10 characters, 7 women and 3 men. I’ve got my pilots. I know the name of my main character. Been fleshing in the history of each role, what circumstances brought them to the front line. I’ve got a lesbian and a patriot. An abused woman just wanting to escape her family. Someone who lost everyone in her family to the Nazis. I’ve sympathetic men and antagonistic men. There’s infighting, chauvinism, sexual attacks, gossip and loss – and then there’s the war. Everything’s going into the outline. And I’ll probably write it backwards again. Last scene, first to be written. End where you want to end. The beginning will write itself.

Tonight is theatre rehearsal. No prob. Got it down pretty well, just working on delivery nuances.

Almost the last week of language classes. All that really means is I’ll have my Thursday and Friday mornings free. Continuing to work on Dutch is kind of obligatory when you live here. That is, if you want to understand anything important.

Hope my good mood will continue. We’re slated for cooler weather for this whole week, so that should help. My RA won’t be flaring up, and that always makes me feel better. Keep on with – well, everything. Exercise, eating right, sleep and rest, language studies, line memorizing, housework…staying on top of it all makes me feel competent. That gives me a toehold on self-confidence. One or two kindly words about my progress, and suddenly I’m not feeling so down on myself.

No illusion this is a permanent change. I know myself too well to think that. But…and…for now, it’s good.

Hangin’ in there

One of the hardest things to do is to keep going even if you feel you’re not making any progress or doomed to failure from the moment you begin. Two things are gnawing at me today (and they’re no big surprise): my writing and my weight.

Hopped on a scale yesterday. Mistake. BIG mistake. I haven’t done it for years and I don’t know what got into my head. Guess I was feeling a bit cocky. A little sleek and fit. I wanted to prove to myself that yes, I’ve modified my body size and aren’t I good little girl for keeping up on my diet and exercise. And I have lost weight since last I was on a scale. Must keep that in mind. A whopping 3.4 kilos.

There’s plenty of sayings about puncturing your ego with a pin – and that’s exactly what it felt like. One moment I was admiring my bicep muscles and feeling pretty good about myself, the next I was poking my pudgy middle and berating myself for being such a fat, old woman. And I thought Holy Fuck! All those hours in the gym, in the pool, walking when I don’t want to walk, denying myself sugary goodies or treats, cutting back on meal size, going to bed hungry – and I’ve taken off a whole 3.4 kilos. I mean, seriously…is it worth it?

As for writing…I search out theatres looking for submissions every other week or so. Pull half a dozen PDFs, put them aside to look at again. And I always think I’ve got some real winners in there – sure fire places that’ll take my work. Look! My stuff fits their requirements perfectly. They’ll love it! Then the time comes for me to really read it through and prep up to send out – and I notice all sorts of things that scare me off. Don’t put in too many acts, keep it to six or less characters, don’t give too much lighting or sound cues, don’t send if you’re not some purple eyed booger monster that crawled out of the deep from a crack opened up in Kentucky. The restrictions go on and on. So much so that I wonder if some of these groups EVER get a submission that perfectly fits all their requirements.

Then I have afternoons of feeling useless. Oh, they won’t take it because of this, it’s too long for that theatre, too many characters (or too few) for that group, or I don’t live there so they won’t even bother opening it up. The ‘no’s’ become so loud I feel overwhelmed, and just want to hide.

I tell myself it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to feel defeated. It’s just not okay to give up.

So I wait a day or two, until I have some self confidence back. Then I prep up and send out without allowing myself to think too much. Let them make the decision, I tell myself. Let them say no. If I take myself out of the running before the race even begins I’ll never get anywhere.

*sigh*

Doing well with memorizing my part for the play. One or two places I need a memory jog, but considering tomorrow is only my second rehearsal with the director I think I’m ahead of the game. I like this role because it calls for a lot of acting without words. My partner may have the longer dialogue, but I’ve got the reaction to his lines – which is far more powerful (especially the way I plan to play it). There is not one minute of stage time when I’m not wringing my hands or rubbing them together or fussing with my hair – all nervous habits my character needs to display. Big thing I’m working on now: a quick eye shift, left to right. It’s something everyone does without thinking about it, but it’s a lot harder to do it on cue and make it look natural. Same with allowing any emotion to emerge on your face: you gotta make it look natural, and as soon as you think about it, it’s no longer natural. Trying to BE the role more than act the role. Keep myself on edge for the scene. Allow my personal nervous habits to come to the fore. If I’m IN the role, my face will react the way I want it to. If I ACT this thing, it won’t. So I must be a late middle aged lonely woman who’s very nervous about meeting someone for the first time.

Gee. Like I don’t know that.

..Okay, I’m not LATE middle aged. But other than that….

Watched an outstanding documentary on the Night Witches. Took notes from the book my director leant me. There’s still a lot of that story that’s foggy for me. Do I set this at the training facility? Thought I might, but after watching the documentary I’m rethinking that. I’m zeroing in on 9 months in 1943. The regiment is up and active, and the fighting intense. I’d hit the worst months of the war, including the death of their leader. And I’ve built in reasons to write it: it would begin with the first replacements reaching the regiment, and end with the recognition of the regiment as an official guard unit. But I’ve vowed to keep on researching. One idea will come to the forefront, show itself to be superior to my other ideas.

I just gotta hang in there.