Yes, it is

Two weeks from Saturday is our last performance of the play. So I checked. Did a Google search – even setting the search parameters to the name of the play and the name of the group. Found a couple of notices on page one…in Dutch…for the first two performance dates. Nothing for our upcoming show.

It AMAZES me how all these business school teachers (who all say ‘yeah, yeah, we know all about marketing’) fall off the bus when it comes to actually doing any marketing work.

And maybe the director doesn’t want the group too big… He said that during the last performance. Doesn’t want the group too big, doesn’t want things to get out of control, doesn’t want to step aside to allow other people to do things with the group. Okay. I get that. But we at LEAST want to break even, right?

I sure as hell don’t want to continue ponying up money for the privilege of performing.

Found the group’s write-up about the play in English on their FB page (had to HUNT for it). It was half a press release – all teaser info but no facts. So I did what I do: I fixed it. Added in the missing data. Corrected some clunky English. And found half a dozen online Rotterdam agenda sites that’ll publish the info for free. Spent half an hour on the headline… The play isn’t well known enough to push that as the opener. The playwright isn’t well known enough to push that aspect. The group isn’t well known enough to carry the headline. In the end, I choose ‘English Comedy in Rotterdam’ because I’m posting to English language sites targeting ex-pats and I figured those four words were the most important in the entire thing. It’s in Rotterdam, it’s comedy, and it’s in English. The info is already sent to two places, and I’ll tackle the remaining sites after my language class.

Had a real surprise yesterday at the gym. Went in for my second day in a row (yet another attempt to raise my activity level). Saw, out of the corner of my eye, a woman watching me while I stretched and warmed up. Sure enough, she came over and began talking with me.

Surprising enough to me that I slipped into Dutch like a comfortable shoe. Didn’t even bother with my traditional ‘my Dutch isn’t very good’ line – she got that from my stilted use of the language. But we communicated (she spoke very clearly). Talked, even! She asked me about the exercises I was doing. Did I make them up, or did I learn them somewhere? A bit of both, I told her. Then she asked if I knew of any exercises that were good for a person’s balance. I actually had the audacity to question her – is it your hips? I asked, remembering the word for ‘hips’. Yes, she told me. Ah! We’ve the same problem. Do you go to the physiotherapist? Yes, but she doesn’t like him and he’s not doing her any good. How about these exercises? I asked, showing her the three golden rule exercises my physiotherapist gave me. Never saw them before. I walked her through them, told her to do them every night. When are you here? she asked me. I want to come back and exercise with you.

Wow. Seriously? This hip heavy old woman? You look at me and think ‘yeah, she’s got it together’? Don’t get me wrong – I’m pleased as punch. Pleased to have an opportunity to get to know someone, pleased to pass along what knowledge I do have about staying in shape, pleased someone thought that much of me. I’m just really, really surprised.

What I’m NOT thrilled about is the idea I’ll be opening up my head space during exercise time. Exercise time is a very inner thing for me. I’ve got the best drill sergeant I know under my skull, and all I need is her egging me on and really loud, fast music in my iPod. If I’m helping someone else, though, I won’t be able to lose myself in loud music. I’ll need to talk, be present…which will be DAMNED difficult, because I blast the music and close my eyes so I don’t HAVE to be uber present in my body while it works and sweats.

Saw the woman talk to a few other older women as she left the gym. Oh, nelly. In a few weeks time will I be writing that I’m leading a handful of mature women through some basic stretching and yoga exercises?

As long as they let me be on the cross trainer. That’ll be my one rule. I get on that machine, and no talkie-talkie with me. Let me sweat. I’ll be done in 30, and very pleased to help you then.

Sounds reasonable.

Also, in my searches for websites to post the press release for the theatre group, I stumbled across a call for writers. Writers in English, right here in the Netherlands. It’s all free lance, pay as you go, first come first served on story ideas. But I’m thinking I might give it a go. Even if I only get one or two stories a month, it’s something. A bit of cash to get my hair cut. Maybe I could take my brother out to dinner for once. Pay for my own metro card top up.

And isn’t it nice to get some sort of recognition for your efforts outside of your own head?

Yes. Yes, it is.

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Thank you, me

Time off is a good thing. It gets you out of your rut, changes things up, adds a bit of excitement to your life. It also screws mightily with your schedule.

After more than a week off from hard exercise, I was a bit worried I’d find myself slow and weak at the gym. While I admit my arms are like a baby’s – more flab than muscle, so they ARE weak – the rest of me was more than up to the test. Took it easy; still have a performance on Friday. But I fell into my run/jog on the cross trainer, falling only a little short of 3.5 km in 30 minutes, without a hiccup. Kept an eye on my heart rate (at my age, I feel that’s a public service more than anything: make sure the old lady doesn’t keel over from a heart attack). 120, 130, 140. Then a push and up to 150. Yes! Seems that’s the magic number for me. The sweat pours out of me and the endorphins must kick in because it – all of it, from the sweat to the burn in my legs – feels good.

*sigh* The full force of my addictive personality really leaves me feeling bummed. But I guess I should pat myself on the back; at least I’ve found an outlet for it.

Today is a physiotherapy visit. Haven’t seen my guy in a while – busy with the play and too poor to pay for a visit. Think I now know how to handle my visits. I can keep a good 8 weeks between appointments as long as I keep active. However – wait; I should say HOWEVER – if I have more than 2 days down due to illness or injury, I need an appointment. All it takes is 2 days for the pain to creep back in. The flip side of that is that all it takes is 2 days of movement to make me feel better. And that’s good…great, in fact. But there are times when 2 days of movement is beyond me. Hence, my need for physiotherapy.

Besides, do I really want to give up an occasional visit to the cutest guy I know?

Nope.

Got through half my Dutch homework. Still have 4 letters to write. Spoke up in class when yet another ‘you’re having a party, write a letter to your friend’ homework task was handed out. Can’t we please do a letter to someone else, about something else? How about a complaint to the electric company? Something like that would be more useful. So I got an extra 2 letters for my outspokenness. Good. I do well with homework, and usually have the time. May I have some more, please?

Something has clicked in my brain with Dutch. Was aware of it last night as I watched tv. I like Dutch tv; they run plenty of English programs with Dutch subtitles. Right from the start, I read the subtitles (or tried to; they go by fast for a beginner reader). Doing that has helped me figure out the meaning of many words, particularly when watching a cartoon or program for younger audiences. I see words repeated, hear words repeated, and pretty soon it becomes evident that this word means thus and so. But some sentences have always confused me. Too many words, too many ‘je je’ or past tense verbs or other things I just don’t understand. Last night, though, it was like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle were slid into place. Suddenly no sentence seemed too much: here’s the subject, the verb, the modifiers, the helping verbs. Instant recognition, even if I saw a word I hadn’t encountered before.

By jove, I think she’s got it!

…My mood has improved. Obviously. That’s two references to favorite childhood films.

Thank you, me, for going to the gym and working so hard. Thank you, me, for sweating and pushing through the wall. Thank you, me, for being so committed to our health that we get to the gym in the first place. Thank you, me, for listening to our concerns, taking them into account, and being careful with our body.

Most of all, thank you, me, for trying so damned hard.

I’m ready

Dutch is a tricky language to learn. Any native will tell you that. Not only do you need to learn how to pronounce their ‘G’ without spitting on anyone, you also have to figure out the trick of spelling. In most cases, spelling isn’t bad if you know the combinations of letters and their corresponding sounds. There’s just one problem: the Dutch like to use d’s and t’s at the ends of their words, and both letters are pronounced the same. Is it a D? Or is it a T? Or one of those pesky words that uses both?

There’s a rule for that. Thought, at one time, I got it. After my lesson yesterday, I’m so fucking confused I don’t know if I understand it all.

Suppose I should feel good about all this: my lessons have surpassed my Thursday instructor. I’ve gone where she can’t follow. She’s got all the conversational skills, sure, but like many Dutch natives she doesn’t know the finer points of spelling or grammar.

Received an apology at the end of the lesson. The other student showed up, and conversation was limited to simple Q&A because she’s let her language skills slip so much. Barely got into my homework questions, and those that were looked at ended up confusing my teacher and muddling my own understanding.

At the rate this is going, I’ll be ready to teach beginner Dutch in six months.

Took the rest of yesterday off. Needed to let my mind rest, needed to let go of the irritation I was feeling. Good thing, too. My bro came home from his language lesson angry as all hell, so I let him vent. He’s not getting what he wants out of his lessons, either. He’s given stuff to read, which he struggles through, but there’s no correction or time taken to answer questions. I get that these instructors are all volunteers. It’s great to just have enough warm bodies to fill the positions needed. But there’s got to be some sort of structure everyone follows.

And shouldn’t instructors take some basic test to make sure they know how to read, write, and speak correctly?

Went out to FB today to make sure I didn’t have any comments from a certain uncle and found my page changed. I can’t comment on anyone’s posts. Don’t know if that’s some block that’s put up on me. Shouldn’t be. I don’t comment on anyone else’s stuff most of the time, and if I do it’s supportive. I’m not the troll. Also, when I visit someone else’s page, I only see part of their home page. Used to see the whole thing. What up wit’ dat? If it’s across the board on FB, okay. If it’s only me on my page, I must protest. …Sometime. When FB becomes important enough in my life to protest…which, granted, may be a while.

Staying out of the rain. Keeping warm. Resting, but moving enough. Had a very satisfactory POP out of my back last night. It’s what I needed: the spasming on my side eased off immediately. This morning, as I write, I have no pain. Glorious! No pain! This boost of physical comfort is still not enough for me to break my health cordon. Oh, I want to go. Go to the gym and work hard for two hours, feel that exhaustion. But no. 36 hours to go to curtain up. I’m no fool.

My bro is hoping to get a tripod for his phone/camera today so he can film my performance. *This is me feeling an ass for ever saying he doesn’t support me and he wouldn’t come to the play.* I hope things go well. No doubt over myself, just other people. Is that my trust issue, or just my good sense? Well, if anyone gripes over not doing as well as they want to, the group can bloody well let my brother in for free to film it again (if he’s willing to sit through it again, which I’m not guaranteeing). I do not look forward to seeing the camera’s perspective on my body. I always wince, no matter what my size. Then again, I always see myself as a whale no matter what. Or I have in the past. My only comfort is that this character is supposed to be awkward in her skin, and THAT is something I know how to convey.

Well. The excitement-o-meter is beginning to ramp up. I can feel that dump of adrenaline in my system. What do you know! I still get that feeling. Maybe as a kid it scared me. Hell! Horror films scared me as a kid. Now I love ’em. Same sort of thing: what once might have sent me over the edge is now something very familiar, very intimate. I know what to do with this. Concentrate on calm. Get to the gym, yes, but only for a walk and a stretch. Focus. Pack my bags for tomorrow. Take a shower. Make sure my outfit is ready. I’ve rituals at my fingertips, and plenty of smoke for when my rituals run out.

This is it; the final countdown. I’m ready.

Holding Pattern

There may be no such thing as a perfect day, but yesterday tried damn hard to get there.

Weather: gorgeous. Autumnal sunshine, fallen leaves smell, warmth enough to sit outside and have a meal. That alone gave me heart.

Got to immigration before noon. Had the entire metro trip to figure out what to say (in Dutch) when I got there – and I nailed it…but then I went blank when a forty foot high wave of Dutch came back at me (know I had that deer in the headlights look). Took a number and waited.

Twenty minutes later, I walked out with my new residency card.

Shocked. Shocked at the speed, the efficiency, the ever present politeness and common courtesy shown me at this government office. Shocked, too, that the card was in my hand. No photos, no fingerprints; they used my file from last time. I came home to find another letter from immigration telling me just that – that there was no need for me to have a photo or my fingerprints taken, I just needed to pick up my new card. Ha! Guess they didn’t count on me being as efficiently speedy in my response as they were in their work (note: almost spelled that ‘werk’, the Dutch way, and right now using a ‘o’ looks weird).

And this is the pink residency card. When I first got here, I received a pink card. It’s the top of the top in residency cards. The do not stop all access guaranteed card. I had one of three to be issued in the entire country. Don’t know if they’re still that rare, but I do know someone out there likes me. These things are difficult to get.

By noon, my bro and I were staring at each other outside the immigration office. We have our cards. That’s what we kept saying to each other. The question came up of what to do next, and I answered with the only place I KNEW would card us: a coffeeshop. Btw, it’s not that we look all that young anymore, it’s just that you’ve got to have an ID on you if you go to a coffeeshop. Usually, they have bouncers outside. Naturally…they didn’t. Walked straight in. Still enjoyed it, just sitting there and knowing we had our IDs. We’re official.

Back home, I found myself restless. Off to the gym for stretches and an hour’s walk on the treadmill. Want to do more, but holding back right now. I will not risk my knees or wrists just before performing.

Dinner was a semi-fast food sampler. Gotta say semi-fast food because it wasn’t McD’s or Pizza Hut: this was Dutch fast food. Dutch fast food means you go somewhere and they make your food to order fast. You don’t walk in and ask for something that’s been pre-made and sitting under a warmer. You order, they jump. And the ingredients are higher quality, too. Had some Turkish pizza and loempias. Nothing like mixing your ethnicities up with dinner, but the two vendors were close together and it just so happened that change from one purchase was the precise amount asked for by the other vendor. Therefore, Turkish pizza and loempias. Doesn’t everyone think like this?

Went to sleep after watching some Heroes (found a dirt cheap DVD copy of Season 2) and knowing I read through the first 30 pages of a book in Dutch. Felt good.

Hiccup this morning – from my uncle. Another comment on FB. Noticed his comments are becoming less and less inflammatory – so much so I’m feeling that guilt creep up on me when I hit delete. I’m also reminding myself how angry I was, and my promise to take care of me. So, delete it was, and will continue to be. I’ve no time nor temperament to deal with him at the moment.

Another language lesson today. For the first time, I’m not worried about a lag in my lesson. Just the opposite: I’m concerned I’ve too much material to go over, especially if the other student shows up.

Wanted – still want – to head out today and try to get a few posters up for the show. But it’s very grey, and very wet. Bad timing on me. Maybe it will pull back enough this afternoon to allow me a decent walk without the risk of getting too wet or too cold. Until then, plans are on hold.

Keeping calm, staying distracted. Not thinking too much about the play other than to be careful because it’s coming up.

I’m in a holding pattern.

Comin’ home

Being good is boring. Am I allowed to say that? It’s healthy, it’s how I should act every damned day, but it DOES make for a bland life. My focus is on staying healthy, so plenty of sleep and juice and hand washing. Meh.

Good news is, my health is strong. No sign of anything sneaking up on me. My back began aching yesterday, and I was quick to head to the gym to stretch out and walk on the treadmill; problem fixed. My bro is ready and willing to whip up anything I might want or need in the way of food. A few days to go to curtain up and I’m doing well.

The play: Rehearsal last night. It was my last rehearsal before Saturday. I was on the schedule every night this week (as was everyone), but our director said that he didn’t think we needed more time. Too true. My partner and I don’t call for line prompts, we have our choreography down to a T, and apparently anything I do at this point on stage is freaking funny. Plans are to open up the scene a bit; at first, we sat through most of it and now we’ve a bit of walking around the room to do. Got stopped at one point for some direction, and my partner asked what he should be doing. Reply? Don’t worry about what you’re doing. No one will be looking at you! She’s walking behind you with a look on her face…Trust me, no one will notice you. Um…thanks, and I hope my acting partner didn’t feel dissed. It’s his performance that allows me to do what I do.

Monday’s language class: Whoa, Nellie! I expected a step up; this is a BIG step up. Felt a little lost, spent a little time making sure I wasn’t just pouting because suddenly I’m not the best student in class. Have two female teachers, both brusque, both crisply prim on grammar. Oi! Made a mess of a sentence and was corrected, word by word, until I could repeat the proper sentence in one go. Got drilled on knowledge, speaking skills, and reading skills. Knowledge: some big gaps to fill in. Speaking: always tough, still not catching every word. Reading: OTT. While I was stopped several times to correct what I said, or correct my answers, I was not stopped when I read aloud. In fact, there was a moment of silence afterwards, then a short ‘Ah…goed’ from the teachers. I be old school. I remember the ‘Hooked on Phonics’ literacy series in the states. Never had to use it myself, but I understood the process: focus on the sounds. Drill the fact that certain combinations of letters always sound the same. I did that with Dutch early on, and it shows. Give me something to read aloud and it’s rare you’ll need to correct me. I might not understand everything I read, but it’ll sound like I’m a native.

Downtown today to deal with immigration. Nice to say that and not cringe with fear. Today I’ll be smiling, no matter how long the wait. It’s photo and fingerprint time. Get me my residency card!

And now I’ve time to get to the gym in the afternoon. Give my back another long walk on the treadmills to make sure it doesn’t seize up on me again.

My Dutch homework is done. All of it.

Even planted the idea that maybe – maybe – I’ll pitch my three one-act thrillers to the theatre group as a Halloween special. This, to the director as we had a ciggie outside. His eyebrows raised and he grinned. Took that as a positive inclination on his part. That’s good, because he might end up directing it.

Feeling good. Calm. Eerily calm. I expected more excitement in me as the first performance nears. I take it as a positive, though. Much easier to keep myself healthy when I’m not out dancing among the stars every night because I’m so damned hyper.

And why should I be nervous or hyper? I know where I belong: I belong on stage.

I’m just comin’ home.

I’m good, thanks

Rehearsal went well yesterday. It was fun, actually stepping into a Dutch home for once. The Dutch are lovely people, but they’ll only invite you to their homes after a long acquaintanceship (much more a ‘I’ll meet you there’ people than a ‘let’s hang here’ people) and showing up unannounced is the height of bad manners. So this was my very first time entering a Dutch home  – one that I didn’t rent for the weekend, anyway.

The blueberry muffins went over as well as I’d hoped. Silence descended on the room the first time they were passed around; everyone was stuffing their faces and it took a few minutes for someone to actually speak. Many compliments on them. It was even suggested (half-jokingly) the group sell them at performances to raise money.

The rehearsals themselves…Well, as I’ve said from the start, I’ll make you laugh. I can make no such guarantee about anyone else in the play. That’s still true. One of the duets is pulling out for the first two performances. Seems they don’t feel they have their parts down yet, which I just find hard to imagine. You want to call yourselves actors – even on the amateur level – and you can’t memorize a 25 minute skit in 6 months? Um…okay. There also seems to be a scheduling problem, even tho rehearsals and performance dates were chosen months ago. *sigh* I admit to a deep disappointment over this. Never kidded myself this was anything BUT amateur. I just hoped it was a little bit less amateur than what it’s proving to be. Or maybe I thought my own skills would prompt the others to up their games. I find it, now, a pity that I’m in the first skit. For the overall show, I think my skit should go second. Somewhere in-between the kinda funny other bits. Putting us first…well. I’m a bit worried the rest of the show will feel flat in comparison. Guess that’s my ego, ’cause no one else seems to share that feeling.

I heard the laughter levels, tho. We’re all familiar with the set-ups. Most of us have watched other couples act their bits out. So no big surprises for any of us, really. Yet my skit repeatedly gets out loud can’t stop myself laughter, while the rest just gets chuckles. I know the chuckles will grow into real laughter in front of a fresh audience, so it won’t quite be that bad for the rest of the couples. Still…this has been a concern from the start for me, and it’s not going away.

Also worried I shot my mouth off a bit yesterday. We took a break and sat out in the garden for a bit, having coffee and a bite to eat. Questions on women’s roles came up. Questions that were voiced as the speaker looked directly at me. So I spoke up. One great moment – maybe the greatest so far in my little life – was finding two other women in the group replying and reacting in the exact same manner as myself. That was so fucking amazing! Usually I’m the only one. To have two other women speak up at the same time, saying the same thing I was saying… It was quite a rush. But I’m a bit afraid I monopolized the conversation at one point. I didn’t get angry or bark out my answers. Just the opposite; it was one of the calmest and most measured responses I’ve heard come out of my mouth. It was just wordy, and there were seven of us sitting around talking. I hope I didn’t come across as a know-it-all opinionated conversation monopolizer.

Well, I guess that’s what the blueberry muffins were for. To make up for my social faux pas.

The marketing for the play hasn’t gone well. Someone checked on-line ticket sales yesterday. Saturday: 14 seats sold. Sunday: 10 seats. Leiden performance: 6 seats. End of October: 2. That’s it. I asked if anyone had contacted the papers with a public announcement. I was given a vague answer that some agenda had been contacted, and they thought they covered everything. Obviously not, because it’s not in the papers. And they’ll print it for free if you get it to them. One other question got a derogatory ‘that’s marketing’ sneer, as if getting the word out on this level was beneath their dignity. Was finally given a few posters to put up these last days before the performance. No flyers. No wonder so few seats have been sold. No one bloody knows it’s happening.

*sigh*

New language class today. It’s in the afternoon; not my favorite time of day. I’d rather learn first thing, before my brain has time to cook in its own juices. But I look forward to getting out of the house, meeting my fellow classmates, and hopefully finding my teachers are up to snuff. I don’t want to spend another class correcting the instructors (and this time, if I find that’s the case, I’m demanding they either pay me or let me attend the lessons for free).

September is almost over. My finances won’t be much better next month, but at least I’ll have a few bucks to put here and there where needed. Will probably have to pay my language lessons off in installments, just like my contribution to the theatre group fees or my gym membership. I’m a bit embarrassed by that, ponying up a ten or twenty here or there, obviously strapped for cash while others whip out fifties like it’s the only currency they carry. But I know the trap of money, know how it works. Paying bills or buying things is the only time and place where having money is advantageous. Other than that, I think it works against you. Makes you buy more, put yourself into more debt, worry about more things you have to upkeep because you bought them and if you let them all go to hell now you’ve just thrown your money away… And you don’t get to keep it. It doesn’t save you from dying. It won’t buy you happiness.

…I’m good, thanks.

Crack

Been really jonesing for that endorphin rush I get off of hard exercise. So I hit the gym yesterday with the purpose of letting myself go. Held back on my Tuesday exercise, because I expected an active Wednesday (which didn’t happen due to shitty weather), so I was rested and ready.

The first time I was actually able to use the cross trainer for a full thirty minutes, I struggled (and failed) to reach one kilometer. Yesterday, I blew past my first kilometer at 9 minutes and 9 seconds. My second kilometer flew by at 18 minutes. And yes, I topped three kilometers plus a bit extra by my thirty minute mark.

WHOOHOO!!!!

I actually found it difficult to get off that machine and not punch the air with a whoop (I’d add in dancing a little celebratory jig, but…three kilometers; I was bushed!).

And I’m still tired. My muscles and bones are feeling it. But I’m also elated, and not just because of the endorphins. I’m more than three times as fast as I was. That’s in just a few short months of work, too, because it took several months of work to build up strength just to get ON the cross trainer. And if I’m honest, I’ve a nagging worry on me quite often over my smoking/toking. I know it’s not healthy, and I’m no longer a young woman. But now I can keep my heart rate at 150 bpm or higher for an extended period of time. I’m not gasping for breath, either. I’m grinning like a mad eejit. Oh, my face is red as a beet, and I sweat bullets. The first ten minutes I regret going to the gym and getting on that machine. But then…then, I fall in love with the process. I want to go faster, and faster, and faster (and I actually do pick up speed ). The harder my body works, the better I feel.

Been doing abdominal exercises – the old fashioned kind. They’ve got a dozen machines and benches at the gym for sit-ups and push-backs and all sorts of tummy exercises. Me? I get down on the floor, on my back, lift my legs up, and hold. The dreaded double lift (both legs, with your back pressed down into the floor) and single lifts (one leg and opposite arm up, for lateral muscles). I’ve never been able to fall in love with abdominals. In fact, I hate doing them. That’s why I do them first, after stretching. Get them out of the way.

Speaking of stretching…reached my forehead to my left knee (which is the bad leg, and always tighter than the right) yesterday. Another reason to celebrate.

And free weights…began with the one kilograms, now on the four kilograms. Seeing some real definition come in. Damn! I might conquer those bat wings yet.

My only regret in this is that I’m not strong enough to do it every day.

…Yet.

Language class yesterday in our new hall. It’s smaller and noisier than the last place. Meh. However, my patience with the system paid off. Was told that next week we’re having a field trip to the library, where we’ll be instructed on how to use the facilities. We’ll also have an opportunity to grab a free three month library membership. Now THAT’S worth it! …And honestly, while I’ve been to the library, I’ve no idea how to look something up in their system, so the instructions are welcome too.

Called for my orthopedic shoes and have an appointment today. Not thrilled to wake up to cold temps, wind, and rain. But I need to get the shoes adjusted; they rip up my left foot in three places. So I’ll go out there, and once out there, I’ll probably run a few more errands.

Read an article that Europe should expect a particularly bad flu season this year. I’m thrilled (stated with utter deadpan sarcasm). Asked my bro to get a shot this year because he usually doesn’t, but I really want to take every precaution I can, and that includes keeping him healthy so he doesn’t pass crap on to me.

*sigh* Better buy some more hand soap, too.

Heard from the director, who started to read Taman. He’s made some notes on what he’s read so far, and may I say I’m honored with how nit-picky he’s getting with my work. Shows he takes it seriously. Show he thinks it’s worth his time. Both are nods to me as a writer, and although he’s part of that group that can drive me mad with their insensitive talk, I still am heartened by it. …I guess anybody taking me seriously feels good, which (for the thousandth time) sadly points to how poorly I was treated by my family.

Watched one of those home video programs last night while waiting for another program to come on. Saw parents playing with their kids. And I thought: how strange. I remember my parents pushing me in swings when I was very little, or giving me piggy-back rides. But by the time I was six, that stopped. My mother never played games with me. I remember asking her to play dolls or one of the dozens of board games she bought me (so often left to gather dust because my siblings wouldn’t play with me and I didn’t have many friends), but she always said no.

I was so lonely as a kid.

…And I guess I took all that as an unspoken message: I’m not worth the time. Add in my sister’s bullying and I’ve a real self-confidence issue going that, at 51, I’m still struggling against.

But it’s starting to crack.

Changeable

Autumn. A changeable time. Spring is changeable, too, but it tends to show it’s youth in its changeability with brash rains and persistent snows. Autumn, on the other hand, is mature. Still changeable with warm days and cool nights, but there’s a dignity about the season that spring lacks. Maybe it’s the smell in the air; that aged scent of decaying leaves that makes autumn a merry but sombre event. There is time to rejoice, but there is also time to reflect.

For me, the months following summer are often a physical relief from too much heat and a happy return to school and social contact. While I’ve had only a few weeks of heat to deal with this year, I have had a distinct lack of social contact while writing, and I found myself actually pleased to get back to the classroom and see people I know.

Thursday was, as usual, a one-on-one thing (meaning the other student didn’t show). I’m not as nervous as I once was with my Thursday instructor. Perhaps it was because I didn’t get corrected on my Dutch over the summer, so I grew a bit cocky. Perhaps it was because the Dutch I do know got cemented deep into the inner workings of my brain. Whatever reason, I found myself sweating less than usual. Which was good, because our table was approached by an administrator, talking more Dutch than I could keep up with. Sheets of information were passed to me. Ah. In the time of changeability, our class is being moved. And broken up. Sad to say, but other than my instructor, I may not see the people I’ve begun to get to know in that lesson again.

I looked forward to Friday, despite being a bit anxious after finding another student’s phone number in my notebook and remembering a promise to contact her over the summer. Bad me! That notebook got tucked away in July and I completely spaced my promise. Walked into the lesson, got the ‘Cheer’s’ effect hello – Hello! (or Goede Morgen, in this case) – to find out that this lesson was also getting broken up, I was to attend the Monday lessons beginning 25 September, and after those lessons begin I’m not supposed to return to Friday lessons. Why? Monday is an advanced lesson, and Fridays are returning to ABC level. …Can’t say my teachers are wrong. I need a faster class. Still. *sigh* Same effect as Thursday. The people I got to know aren’t following me to the higher level, so my tenuous friendships will die before they get a chance to really grow.

Also wasn’t good to come home and hear my brother so down about his lesson. He’s stuck with a volunteer who’s got no idea how to proceed. Just a lot of dithering around with any actual teaching. Told my bro to ask to transfer to the Friday lesson. They’re far more structured in their approach, and they’re still on the basics. Don’t need my one real support in life to get angsty and jealous over the fact I’m learning the language faster than him.

And me? …I pulled words out of my brain I’ve never used before. Heard more, understood more… Even received a rare compliment from my teacher on my communication ability. Other than my racing brain, I could almost – almost – make the switch to Dutch. I’ve got enough to survive.

…Paid for my gym membership for September and got a whole bunch of Dutch that took me by surprise. First, I wasn’t expecting a lot of Dutch (always an issue). Second, (once again) I ran into a lot of words I hadn’t heard before. Third, I found my six month membership was up, and I was asked if I wanted to continue on another six month term. …Really? I’ve been going to the gym for six months now? I was shocked. Shocked that that much time had passed. Naturally, I signed up for another six months. The guys behind the counter grinned. Everybody knows me – by sight, at least. I’m that person that super-pushes. The one with the red face and the sweat stains. My work has paid off in strength, if not weight loss. I’m more than twice as fast as I was, three times as strong, with even longer endurance. Stairs? No problem. Run to catch the metro? No problem. My arms are gaining muscle mass and my heart is used to racing at 150 bpm. I can do these things again.

Lots on the chop block today. Exercise, shopping, cleaning, napping, baking, writing. Will not get to all of it. Will not even try. My attention span is as changeable as the season, and I won’t try to second guess myself on what I’ll do or not do.

But…and… I must admit to a fleeing wish to travel. To fly with the birds, and see autumn from above. Just…get out. When I was younger, in the states, I’d hop in my car and drive. Take any and every road that looked interesting. Never worried about where I’d end up; I always kept maps around. I just wanted to see other landscapes, breathe other air. I’ve got that same feeling on me today. That desire to go, go, go, without any real direction other than whatever takes my fancy at that instant.

So, who knows where I’ll end up, or what I’ll end up doing? Not me. The only thing I do know is that whatever I do, I’ll do it because I want to do it right then and there. I’ve got an instant gratification thing going on: think it, want it, do it.

That’s my changeable nature.

Snap, crackle, pop

Rehearsal was cancelled. My acting partner and I are leap years ahead of the other pairs; our lines are memorized and we’re down to perfecting our choreography on stage. So, the director decided to use the evening with another pair because they needed more work.

Yesterday was frustrating. I was antsy, and found it difficult to relax. I needed to relax. Needed to sleep more, too, but no matter how much my body was screaming out for me to chill and take a nap, I just couldn’t let go of that last bit of tension. Tried everything – cool compress, dark room, the drone of a highly compressed tv show on low volume to cover up ambient noise… While it helped me relax a bit, the Sandman refused to do his thang, and after twenty minutes I just got up to shuffle through the day.

Problems with Celtx. I noticed they not only put restrictions on how many scripts I can enter under the “free” system, they’ve now also dicked me by making it bloody impossible to tag a new project as a theatre script unless I have zero projects in my folder. That means working on one script and one script only, clearing it out totally before I can move onto the next. [Btw, if I don’t get my stuff into theatre script mode, I can’t tag lines as Acts, and can’t properly format it.] I’m more than angry over this blatant manipulation. Had an automatic pop-up window harass me, insisting I MUST pay, MUST subscribe, cough up three hundred dollars for a year. Finally backed out of it, but if I have to tussle with that kind of shit every time I sign in I may end up finding a different platform to work on.

Really hope I re-visit these words after a very successful year and get a chuckle out of my angst.

Today’s my one-on-one language lesson. Well…maybe the other student will show. She showed about half the time last year (or maybe a little less; my mind has cemented in the idea these are MY one-on-one lessons, and she’s the extra student). Whatever. I’ll make mistakes, and be reminded how tough this language is. I know that, and expect it. Not really ready to pick all that up again. I know I need to. I know how important it is. But I find it similar to doing my nails. It sounds like a good idea, and even I enjoy the results. But it takes loads of time. Time away from writing, or playing, or sleeping, or whatever. Time I really don’t want to give right now. And even if I’m in the mood, clearing up a space in my schedule (don’t laugh; I know I don’t have a life but in my brain I still have a ‘schedule’) as well as prepping my brain and my ear to hear Dutch is difficult.

And I still find it so sloggy.

Meantime, with my blatant procrastination, things are piling up. Dust bunnies and errands, ideas and (a few) regrets. Not getting to the gym as much as I should (regret). Still need to brave the phone and make an appointment to get my orthopedics adjusted (errand). Not sure if I should just dive into the narrative for the next script (idea). And, well, dust bunnies…No more need be said about that.

Trying a crazy idea to help the perpetual bags under my eyes. I’ve read that happens when you’re older. The fat pockets can fall under your eyes and make them look baggy. Chalk up one more horror no one likes to talk about! I’ve done compresses, bought gels and lotions…nothing helps. So, I’m trying something logic says should have an effect, though I can find no mention of it. Then again, I’ve learned how much is stricken from records. How much information is blocked on a regular basis so big corporations can sell you products that really don’t work. …I’ll give my experiment 30 days. No harm done if nothing happens. But if it works…well, I’m poor enough and angry enough (and old enough, at this point) that I’ll make you pay to learn it. Through the nose.

…Ah, well. One can dream, right?

Been haunting my emails, looking for feedback on my work. Naturally, my email account is scheduled to be worked on in a few days. Probably right about the time someone tries to contact me. Frustrating. I should just ignore the world. They’ll get back to me when they get back to me.

My brother says I’ve been kind of manic the last weeks. He says my writing makes me moody. Can’t say he’s wrong. I have been kind of manic, and I am moody. More stuff is coming out in my writing than I’m aware of.

Gotta take a mental step back. Running around like a bull in a china shop because NO ONE can move fast enough for me, or get things done quickly enough, or just be as on the ball as I want them to be…Well, that’s counter productive, and I know it. I shouldn’t expect other people to just be ‘on’. It’s asking too much, especially when my brain pops around like Rice Krispies in milk.

Snap, crackle, pop.

Trust

I murdered four people before breakfast yesterday. One I poisoned, and watched him twitch and foam at the mouth before his head fell onto his plate. One I suffocated, holding a cushion over her face until long after she stopped moving. Two I knifed, slipping the blade in like I was sheathing the damned thing, until they fell to their knees, blood dripping from their mouths.

And it was glorious, glorious! I wrote like one possessed, and for all I know, I am.

My day out at the comic shop seeing the guys was fine. Spent most of the time talking to E, which is becoming a habit – but E just volunteers some time in exchange for a few comics; the rest of the guys are actually trying to make a living out of the shop, so, you know – I get it. While I’m kind of sad not to talk with everyone, I’m always happy to see so many customers. Means the shop is doing well, and the guys have a chance. …Gotta admit, I kind of begrudged the time on the way there. The place is all the way on the opposite side of the city, two metros and a 15 minute walk away. Takes me an hour to get there, and that’s if I make a quick metro connection downtown. Couldn’t help but think that I should be writing during that time – I left the script just before I killed everyone off, and was hot to trot to get to some mayhem. Somehow that begrudged time off was a good thing (again). I’d been fuzzy on how, exactly, everyone was going to die, but I found when I boarded the metro for the long journey home, I’d worked all that out. I knew not only how to kill off the four characters I was writing, I also knew more about the final installment of The Terror Trilogy – that’s what I’m calling it. Catchy, no?

Got to the gym for a decent sweat. Didn’t push. In fact, I was off the cross trainer early because I felt something pull by my ankle. Figured it was from standing in the comic shop for three hours the day before, stationary, talking. Did my abdominals, the treadmill, and the free weights without any pain.

Came back and read thru Taman again. Hallelujah! My head is now so deep into my new script that I was able to read it with fresh eyes. Found a couple of lines to change, and one typo that escaped my previous perusal. Bothered by one line of dialogue. It fits, it’s tight, and it works – but I believe I’ve borrowed the line, or paraphrased from something else. Gotta modify that. …Think I may pass that script onto J for a read. I don’t know if I’m still just very invested in my characters, or if I’ve really written something this engrossing. All this time after writing it (I know; real time isn’t long but writing time IS) and I’m still tearing up at certain points. It’s poignant and heartfelt without being schmaltzy. Or so I hope.

Tonight is rehearsal for the upcoming play. Looked again at the schedule, and found I’m paired with the director’s girlfriend almost every damned time. Ugh. The one person I don’t want to see again. For one, their bit isn’t really that funny. For another, it’s her… So I’ve decided three things. One, I’m going stoned. Two, I’m bringing an emergency joint. Three, I’m leaving as soon as the rehearsal part is over and they begin talking about money and jobs and everything that triggers me.

My brother surprised me yesterday. He’s made no bones about the fact that he does not like the theatre, he doesn’t think the play sounds funny, and he just doesn’t give a damn. I’ve been making sharp remarks now and then about it. Oh, I understand…and I know he doesn’t like theater in the first place. But I wanted him there. It’s not like I’m guaranteed to bring in a bunch of friends! I’m bloody well asking shop keepers and practical strangers because I still haven’t broken thru that Dutch barrier to real friends. Anyway…I knew the sharp comments were petty and small when they slipped out, and chided myself every time something came out of my mouth. My brother…he said he’s coming. Coming to film me, so he can put it up on the internet. Part of that, I know, is just his wanting current stuff to promote us on our site. The other part is the part more important – the part that realized this is important to me, and whether or not he actually likes the damn performance, he’s going to support me.

Oh, and let’s face it all, shall we? There’s a third part to his compliance: a chance to play with his new phone. He’s been hooked on it non-stop since he got it (it really feels like a modern household; he even watches television glued to the damned thing).

…I’ll concentrate on that second part…

No more excuses, no more dithering. This week my language lessons start. Haven’t picked my books up at all over the break. Been trying to tune into conversations and what I hear on tv, though. Lately, anyway. Trying to get my ear back into hearing it. I’m intimidated by it again – though I shouldn’t be. I know it’s there, somewhere in a file marked ‘Dutch/Nederlands (which is an improvement, because it used to just be marked ‘Dutch’). Just gotta access it, and trust. Trust to my memory and my intellect. Trust that I’ll fuck up a few times because I’m rusty. Trust that it’ll be okay, I’ll pick it back up, and in reality my brain never stopped working on the language even though I haven’t opened a book in weeks.

Trust.