A breath is all you need

Rehearsal today. Ten a.m. to 4 in Den Haag. Bring stuff, think, do my best, stay healthy! Mantras and mania; that’s my morning. Mania takes over – tense muscles, holding my breath. Then the mantras kick in, mostly: let it go, let it go. Whatever I’ve forgotten or failed to do by this point doesn’t matter. I have a long day ahead of me, with plenty of stress.

My hair will be played with. My face will be painted. I’ll be screamed at, choked, slapped, and asked to repeat lines ad infinitum.

Take no body issues with you! You are just a piece of marble. A sculpture called ‘actor’. This is the way you were carved; live with it. Use it, even. You can do things now that you were incapable of 30 years ago. Remember that.

Nodding. Frozen smile. Slow blinks. Got it.

Focus…

Wish I could have a look at the shooting script. It would tell me so much, like will my feet show? Where are the close-ups? How will we break the scenes? None of that is known right now, so I feel a bit unsure. I like to be prepared, but truth is, there’s only so much prep you can do for a film. Last minute changes are legendary. Best to have a good basis but not be entrenched in your ideas. I think I’m there.

Uploaded, formatted, and sent part three of the thriller off to the director. Did it yesterday morning, and paid for it with a headache that lasted all day long. Seems Celtx works for me now; I created three stage plays in my folder. Now I can load up parts one and two, and begin real work. Plus I get to keep them there, on my workspace, to modify as needed while the group works.

Turned in my kid’s story in Dutch. Or, what I have so far. Ugh. Made a million mistakes, and I know it. For one, found out for the VERY first time yesterday that the ‘u’ form is always handled as a single person, even if it means a large group. Really? Good Goddess! Now there’s a rule that wasn’t made clear to me when I first learned it. Well, that adds about three thousand errors to the kid’s story, because I used ‘u’ throughout. Fuck. Also, I keep writing ‘loopte’ rather than ‘liep’. Damned irregular verb! And it’s one that catches me out ALL THE FLIPPING TIME because ‘lopen’ (verb, ‘to walk’) is used so much. Add another several hundred mistakes to that story…

Still. Even with all those errors and rookie mistakes, my writing is improving.

Putting the rest of writing – even thinking of writing – in the closet. It’ll come out next week, when all this hub-bub is over and done with. Not the easiest to do. The writer is exploding with confidence, wanting to push out even more. Telling her to do her thing in the corner. Figure out what she needs to figure out. When it’s her turn again, her work will go that much quicker.

In the meantime, the rest of me is facing out. Looking at people. Interacting as well as acting. Listen to what they say. Think about your words. Be kind, be supportive. Most of all, be gentle with others and with yourself.

Gods. This is gonna go on the entire metro ride, you know. The repetitive pep talk. The calming reminders. And I’ll sit there, alone, with a small smile on my face, nodding and blinking. Over and over again. …Yeah, like that won’t look strange!

At least I’ve trained myself long enough to be fully alert at this hour. Ready for breakfast, even. That’s new.

Last minute list: things to bring. Water, juice, a bottle of my cordial. Wig, apron, jewelry, make-up. Script. Paper and pen. Hair stuff, teeth cleaning stuff, pain killers, phone. Sanity.

Excited. At that ready to jump spot; just point me in the right direction. I feel like a racer waiting for the starter gun.

Didn’t put money on my ov chip card. Should have enough to get up there; can always add more there. It’s a big station. They’ll take cash somewhere.

Let it go, let it go

There’s a quiet spot in me that’s been growing stronger and stronger. A calm in the storm. Somewhere I can reach to, close my eyes, and breathe. Don’t know how I’m doing it, but I’m thankful. It doesn’t work for a long time. Sometimes the calm only lasts during the breath I take.

But sometimes, a breath is all you need.

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Who you are

Four a.m. is a lonely time. I suppose if you see four a.m. because you’re still up partying it doesn’t seem so lonely. But getting up that early is another matter. It’s dark – nighttime dark. And cold, and quiet. If I needed the time to tease a story out of me, it would be perfect.

Instead, I’m just re-setting my time clock: live normally, only a few hours earlier. That’s what makes it lonely. Get up alone, eat breakfast alone, spend hours alone because I’m off of the rest of the world.

Really makes me feel for those third shift people out there.

Another call from the casting director, with an apology for calling me on a Saturday. Ah, the Dutch! Even if the world was about to split apart, they’d apologize for bothering you with it on a Saturday. Called to see if I could make rehearsal on Tuesday. We need to test make-up and hair, check the dress she’s got for me, meet, greet, and rehearse with the rest of the cast, talk, and take care of whatever else comes up. Yep. Expected as much, and ready for it. Dug out my mother’s wedding ring and my pearl necklace. Finally! A chance to use them.

Me: played Susie Housemaker and cooked up dinner. Usually that’s my bro’s job, but Saturday is his comic day, so it fell to me. Didn’t need to do much, but I kept thinking about the role: she would make a full dinner. She would do it and be happy about it. She would lay out the table, make hot bread, think three steps ahead and be serving up the food the moment people walked in the house. So I did just that, to get in her skin.

Also spent time in front of the mirror. Usually, the only time I look in the mirror is to fix my hair or brush my teeth. Now I’m trying out smiles and small nods. I’ve determined the key to this role: I can’t move my eyebrows. She is cool as cool; as the old saying goes, butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. And so, always a smooth brow. A small, almost sad smile: look how much I do every moment for you! It’s both believable and surreal – too real to be fake and too off to be completely comfortable with. Keeping my eyebrows still is a challenge. I’ve the kind of face that moves with expression, and in my natural state I’ve been told many a time I could never play poker well. My eyebrows jump and twitch. I can feel them doing vaults over my eyes – in particular, that right eyebrow raised to a pitched arch with my left eyebrow steady and glowering. Yes. I speak with my damned eyebrows. …Like right there, when I realized there was no more coffee. Pop, went that right eyebrow. Really and truly? Hm. That’s a shame. She doesn’t do that. Smooth forehead. Slow turns of the head. Slow blinking, even. Been practicing it. I like the way it looks in the mirror. Hope the director likes it, too.

Chilled yesterday in between bursts of Susie H. Felt I deserved it and that it was warranted. I did well on my audition, and I need to conserve my strength (which means relaxing when I can). Today I want to walk at the gym and get thru my Dutch homework. Also want to prep for Den Haag. I might need to head up there on Wednesday, as well. Sure that will depend on how Tuesday goes. Must make sure I get laundry done; it’ll be my last opportunity before next weekend. Trying to keep my cuticles under control and my nails neat. Do a last check for earrings; haven’t found any I felt were appropriate.

Things I really should invest in: a pair of natural looking false eyelashes. A pair of pumps, for a (ugh) dress. A new bra or two. Pantyhose. Earrings. Maybe some make-up that isn’t so garish. All could be used for the film, and I don’t have any of it. Seems a bit weird. The shoes, anyway. But I gave up on all that. Stopped caring so much. I am me. I shouldn’t have to window dress myself like that. Groom myself, yes. Take care with my appearance, sure. But paint myself up with poisons and dead animals? Throw my back and hips out of balance by tip-toeing on some impossibly high shoes? Hell no! That’s…insecurity. What about you makes you feel you have to do that? It’s not comfortable. It’s not healthy. I just don’t get it.

She, of course, gets it. She lives it. And so I must change. Drop my attitude and embrace hers. I’m not going to torture my feet with pumps all week, but I will try to remember that’s the way she lives. I did it at one point in my life. The memories are there. And I fully expect to be handed a pair of shoes to wear. If I can wear my sneakers because my feet won’t show, I will. But I’ll think pumps.

…I sometimes wonder how much of this is me. I am very visceral, and must do to learn. Want to know what madness is like? Go there. I am also a parrot, picking up gestures and phrases and mimicking them back. Right at this moment, I can’t think of one thing I do or say that I haven’t seen or heard done by someone else. I am not original. I’m just kind of an idiot savant at parroting back exactly the right thing at the right time to the right person. A spliced together sound and vid file that seems to answer you with the appropriate response.

What’s underneath all the learned bits? That’s what I keep asking.

Time to anchor myself solidly again, before I drift off into another persona.

Punk. Toker. Joker. Brilliant. Powerful. Feminist. Person. Student. Teacher.

That’s who you are.

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.

Thank the Goddess for pizza!

More phone calls. My audition is moved back half an hour. And, I’ve been told, they’re swamped with appointments. Tons of people coming. Sitting on the fence at the mo: do I go 150% today? I’ve read the script, feel I’ve a good handle on the character. I could dress appropriately, wear the blond wig and jewelry that I chose, bring the apron for the scene…but I was told none of that mattered, that the director was focusing on the acting.

Hm. Don’t know I believe that. This is film.

Do I go comfortably? It would be best for my acting. No worries about clothing that doesn’t sit well, no worries about a wig falling off, etc. etc. On the other hand, directors are notoriously single minded and unimaginative, and if you don’t present them with the look they want they might have a difficult time seeing you in the role.

Hm. Really don’t know what I’ll do.

Ran the lines, broke the scenes down. Learn the story, the logic of the dialogue. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Did a fast internet search on dream imagery and found yes, cannibalism in dreams often represents some taboo sexual desire (thought so from the way the script was written). That changes things. It tells me they’re not looking for the motherly type. They’re looking for a woman who’s still sexually attractive to some extent. (Oh, Gods! Sorry. Just dissed every mother everywhere as not being sexually attractive. I meant the older, heavy breasted woman who played mother to everyone…oh, shit. Just shut up, Beeps.) So double hm. Yes, I could do the wig and all but…it doesn’t look that great. I think I’m more attractive with my natural hair. And if that’s what the role calls for…well, maybe my dark, curly locks are best left alone in their glory.

Decisions, decisions, decisions…

For the last 24 hours I’ve sounded like the stereotypical actor prepping for a role. Repeating singular lines with different emphases: I think you’ve been working too hard, I think you’ve been working too hard, I think you’ve been working too hard… Almost laughable, even to me.

Okay, be smart. Use that logic. You’ve acted, directed, and written roles. You know what this role needs. (1) Sexual undercurrents. (2) Tension. (3) The mad flip. The insanity. The crazy look. (4) The fight scene. (5) Scheduling availability. (6) A physical appearance that lends to the credibility of this being a family unit, with DNA connections.

Can’t do jack about 6, but the rest I can work on.

And – dare I say it? I need to be a little less relaxed. Insanity takes energy to perform. And I have to draw it up in a few seconds. Don’t feel I’ve hit it yet in my rehearsing, tho I know what I want. Focusing, as usual, on the minutiae. The pitch of my voice. Hand gestures. Eyes. Facial expressions. …What I want, at the critical moment, is a mix of ecstasy and mania. An almost orgasm of horror.

I have a few hours to work my way up to that.

Feels like a lot to do in a short time. Can’t believe everyone will have the lines memorized. Not in such short a time. Doing my best to hit every word. Was told I’ll have 30 minutes to wow the director. Asked if a particular scene would be run and the reply was, ‘Just be ready to do it all’. Um…okay. You do know I’m fast on memorizing dialogue, and if I’m scrambling… Well. My efforts should put me ahead of most.

Thinking now of tomorrow. Sunday. Monday. Still have homework. Still have housework (gods, it’s the weekend again; how did that happen?). Still have to prep Taman — twice, now – to send out. Still have my writing to get to.

Boy, I’m looking forward to Xmas break. Just to have a break!

Tired. Wish I could sleep more, but my body keeps waking up around 6 a.m. And I fell asleep last night during tv – again. Damn. Hate it when I do that. Just glad the program I’m watching now has a ‘previously on’ before every episode. I get to catch up on what I slept thru.

…And I’m still stuck in the past, and dreaming of the future. Worried when I come back to Earth. The time is coming when I’ll need to address that worry. See doctors, get checked out for various problems. But I’m not kidding myself. I’m probably in the last great hurrah. In ten years, I might be too tired to do much. And if my health isn’t the best now, I can’t imagine it being better with 10 more years of use on this body. So…go, girl. Do it. If you drop, you drop. At least you tried.

After yesterday’s headiness, I feel almost flat. Like, why bother? I know that’s just the dregs of a mania hangover, and the push on this role. I’ve allowed my thoughts to be undisciplined. And this is the last I think of myself this morning. When I sign off, it’s all my role (ooo! better not ramp it up too high or I’ll freak my bro when he wakes up). Think! Be her. You know how to do it. Do not let your thoughts stray. The past has NO place in your mind today. Nor does the future. It is only this moment, in that kitchen. The dream. Today, you must dream. But not your dream! Someone else’s. Pay attention. Play your part. Be what you need to be.

Okay. My bro has already scheduled in a pizza day today. He laughingly told me that pizza was a good choice: order it in whenever, and it works whether I think I nailed it or flopped at the audition. And he’s right. It does work that way.

Thank the Goddess for pizza!

Let loose

I get to be someone’s nightmare.

Received the script for the short film. What a flippin’ joy! Not that it’s superb or anything, no. Written by native Dutch speakers, it has as many mistakes in grammar and spelling as my Dutch homework has every week. But I get to use a knife, and have blood dripping from me, and try out a real fight scene.

Suppose I shouldn’t say I got this 100%. Still have to audition, after all. Tho I’ve little doubt they’ll take me. For one, they seemed to be scrambling to find people to do the roles. For another, I be good, and they’re asking me to do a role that’s weird – my forte. I even have a blond wig, which I’ll wear because the character is written as having ‘long, blond hair’.

Of course…it might not happen. I might be disappointed. But the mentat in me (sorry, I’m re-reading the Dune series again) tells me the odds of that happening are very slim.

Waiting ’til the sun is up before I SMS my Thursday teacher to tell her I’m not coming. I could go. The script isn’t that tough to learn. But I’m not gonna go. I’m gonna get some gentle exercise at the gym, read my lines, prep the role, and get ready to travel all by lonesome up to Den Haag on Friday. A little frightened of getting lost. Always am. Don’t know why; I’ve never been lost and not been able to eventually find my way. But I always get tense. Will I find it? Will I find it in time? Building in an extra half to take (according to Google maps) a 7 minute walk from the station to the meeting place. Figure I’ll buy a city map when I get there; have none in the house. Last time I was in Den Haag, there was a lot of construction going on and the route Google maps gave me was absolutely useless. Worried? Get your back-up plans in place.

And this time, for the first time, I feel comfortable enough with the language to ask directions from anyone. My Dutch is good enough I shouldn’t miss a word, or a turn, or anything anyone tells me.

Fell into writing yesterday. Didn’t plan it. Just…did it. Opened up part three of the thriller. Knew I wanted an additional scene with one of the characters. Read the script. It was obvious where the extra scene should go, who should be in it, and what should be said. My fingers started typing even as my head was asking are you sure you want to open up this can of worms? But it wasn’t a can of worms. It was easy, almost too easy. Another one of those things I’ve obviously thought through and completed in my brain. Do that, and the writing of it becomes almost automatic.

I’m pleased. The extra scene adds to the story. Always a bit worried extra scenes or dialogue will end up detracting from what I have. Guess I should put that worry to rest. I know how to weave it in seamlessly.

Did send out a rant – check that, two rants as of this morning – to Celtx, the online software I’m using. Once again, it won’t let me bring a new project in as a stageplay. Even when I ask it to. I’ve told admin about this before, and today I received a very pat ‘hit the stageplay button on your project folder’ answer. Oh, they got their asses chewed off! Like my original complaint wasn’t clear! I really don’t expect a reply to this morning’s email. It had a lot of CAPS in it, and I asked them if they thought I was a complete moron. Not exactly the tone that will elicit a speedy reply. Must admit, I allowed myself to blow my top. I already decided I’ll take it in as whatever the system gives me. The local group I’m working with…they only need something they can read. It doesn’t have to be bloody perfect. Just readable. So that’s all I’m really after (tho it would be nice to get a fucking stageplay when their system says it’s capable of that).

And if the world blows up and I get kicked off Celtx for bad language in my email? Well, I’ll just format from my word processing system. It’ll be slow, and very un-perfect, but it’s the way it WAS done for years and years. I think I’ll manage.

Screw this half-assed shit that’s trying to pass itself off as something good.

My bro keeps harping about autism. In connection with me. Where once he scoffed at the idea, I think he’s now firmly convinced I suffer from some form of it. It wasn’t noticeable in English. My parents were verbose, and I listened closely. But you can tell now that I’ve moved into Dutch. The memory lapses. The strange way my brain works. How I have to write it before I can speak it. As well as the overwhelming frustration of it all, and the freeze-ups I experience. I’m not particularly happy about that. What’s the point? There’s no medication that could help me; my brother tells me that, too. Why do I have to have some label attached to me? To explain away my behavior when I ‘get out of line’?

Why can’t I just be accepted as different?

Part of me says ‘Don’t you want to get better if you can? Wouldn’t it be nice to not struggle so hard? Look at your bro. He’s better on medication. Better able to work. Better able to control his thoughts.’

But…do I want to control my thoughts? Isn’t it because I go to the edge that I have the ability to act the roles I do, to write the stories I do? Do I really want to hobble myself?

No.

I just want to let loose.

Perturbed

Hurry up and wait. Story of my fucking life.

Had four phone calls from the casting director yesterday, asking me if I was free on Friday to meet with the director, was I a vegetarian, could I contact my acting partner from the play about his availability dates, and could I ask said partner if he could make the meet ‘n’ greet on Friday. After such a flurry of rings, questions, and answers, I expected to see the script (promised to come my way) in my inbox by the time I returned from language class. Nope. Still nothing this morning, too. But perhaps there’s been an emergency meet of the team. My acting partner can fill the role, but only if we do the filming after he returns from holiday. That would put filming in Den Hague either over Xmas or between Xmas and New Years.

I could do those dates, and I will if that’s what happens. But my writing…that was my block of time to finish off the thrillers. It would mean an entire week of not writing.

Language class was interesting. Teacher One, Ms. HardAss, was cool to me as I tried to explain the film possibility. Even cooler when I told her about the story I was writing. Her reply? That wasn’t the homework assignment. Teacher Two, let’s call her Ms. Nice, was pleased as anything that I’d written so much. Didn’t matter that it wasn’t the homework assignment; just write is her motto.

…And am I the only adult on this planet that woohoo’s when I get a difficult question correct? Seems I am. Irregular verb conjugation, verbal drill. Got a whopper, dredged up those far corners of my brain and found the correct form. So yes, I whooped and punched the air. I need that to reinforce that my memory is correct, I’ve made the right connection, keep that one. Everyone laughed. Everyone also laughed when Ms. HardAss told me to stop looking up at the ceiling; I should look at her when I answer. I, of course, look up at the ceiling because it’s that automatic body reaction when I search my memory. Um…what’s that again? It’s a well documented physical reaction. I do it because this is difficult for me, because it’s not second nature. And I need to have those answers come without thought. Rapid fire responses. I’m just not there yet. But I am working my ass off, and honestly, I don’t appreciate all the laughter thrown at me. I’m not terribly angry about it – I understand why they laughed, and I get the joke. But…don’t they see I do that because I’m working so hard? Great for them that they’ve all had better lessons than me. Great for them that they all have Dutch spouses or friends to talk to. I don’t have any of that. I went from A, B, C, to this class in one jump, and the very fact that I’m able to keep up with them is impressive.

Then there was coffee break time… Everybody goes downstairs where there’s a little cafe run by the group. Have a cup of coffee, chat. I don’t know what happened. The group broke up into smaller bits. I avoided one woman entirely because she was very ill. Two women wouldn’t include me in their conversation, tho I stood close and tried to catch their eyes. Another group sat around a very small table, full up, in some tight talk I obviously wasn’t a part of. I had no one to talk to, nothing to do.

I find this type of thing happens a lot to me. Guess people just don’t like me. I don’t try to be a social pariah. What I don’t understand is what happened between last week and this week. I thought things were cool, thought I’d found a couple of people to chat with. But they peeled off into a private group and from my point of view their body language said very clearly ‘stay away; you’re not welcome’. I’m left just scratching my head, not knowing what I’ve done or said that’s made this occur. And maybe it has nothing to do with me. I’ll allow for that. I’ll allow for the idea that they had specific things to discuss, maybe even in their native language. But…

Why do I keep seeing the same scenario played out before my eyes? The only common factor is me, so I’ve got to come to the conclusion that I’m doing something that’s making this happen.

No one will tell me what it is.

And then people wonder why I don’t like myself. How can I? It’s obvious to me no one else does. I try to get out there, to remember to be pleasant and ask other people questions. Show an interest in them. I try to stay off hot topics, particularly in Dutch class because I just don’t have the skills to say what I want. And still, I find myself alone during these social breaks, with walls six feet deep surrounding all the little clutches of conversation. No idea how to break through. No idea what I’m doing so wrong.

In future, I’ll bring the book I’m supposed to be reading. Get twenty minutes in on that. It’s not that I want to. I just don’t want to feel the way I did yesterday, shuffling around from one group to another hoping they’d include me, waiting, waiting, waiting, smiling, waiting, feeling discouraged and shuffling on.

And there will come a day I’ll be accused of being stand-offish. Cold. Hard to talk to, hard to approach. Closed off. Unwilling to communicate. (Geez, I could go on here…guess I’ve heard most of these before.)

Tell me, am I supposed to continuously offer myself up as a sacrificial lamb each and every day? And how the fuck do I change this?

Then there’s my eldest brother, my head won’t shut up (in English or in Dutch)…I’d fucking like to cry this all out, but I can’t. The tears won’t come. No time for them.

Gonna have to drop some balls. And I don’t like to do that.

I am perturbed.

Try, learn, and do better

I really must learn to stay off social media.

Found a FB post from my eldest bro. He left a comment on his own page – not tagged to me, not sent to me – saying ‘happy birthday to my little sister even tho ya don’t give a fuck about yer American family’.

Do not want to admit it, but my heart is beating damned fast right now. And my angry replies are bubbling to the forefront – “listen, you sexist racist bigoted mother fucker…”.

Wish crap like that didn’t affect me. At all. Wish I could have seen it and coolly just moved on. Still want to defend myself, lash out, blame, make them SEE. Since I know going direct to the source is a waste of my time, I came out here. To be safe. To say what I needed to say.

Ow.

Odd how, even knowing what a piece of shit I’m dealing with, I let it affect me. I guess that’s programming at its basest level.

Here is my flaw: I want too much to be loved. And I’ve been made to feel that it’s my fault that I don’t get what I want from my family. They were never wrong. They ARE never wrong. It’s me. My fault for wanting, my fault for feeling, my fault for thinking and hoping.

I have met strangers who were kinder to me than you. People who wanted nothing from me, and gave me everything. And you dare to call me family? You dare to approach me with guilt and shame, bullying and controlling tactics? You hurt me, I walk away, and I am accused non-stop of being a child, being wrong, being whatever it is you call me in the depths of your oh-so-perverted mind. Fuck you ’til the end of time. I hate you. With every fiber of my being, I hate what you are, what you stand for. Your ignorance, your total disregard for anyone other than yourself, your fixation on money, money, money, your blatant LACK of caring on the most basic of levels. You have no right to shame me, you piece of shit.

…My oldest brother will die before hearing from me. That’s his punishment. And maybe some people think I’ve no right to mete out my own punishment. Maybe that’s even true. But I’m tired of waiting for the Universe or some Goddess to make things right. I don’t want to strike out; that will be detrimental to my own psyche and THAT is what I’m concentrating on. Not him or his “feelings”. I’ve no time for the latent incest-ridden fantasies my eldest brother holds.

And yeah, that shows a distinct lack of character on my part. I’ve witnessed people stand in the midst of an emotional storm and keep their balance. It can be done. Those that have done it have earned great respect from me. They’ve shown me what can be done, if you stay centered and grounded. I want to be like that. To be able to have my say, take the backlash, smile sadly and turn away without hurting anyone.

I ain’t got enough drugs to make that happen.

So I protect myself and everyone else by staying silent. I say nothing, again.

You know…I should at least give myself credit for having the strength to do that. To walk away, rather than engage.

Good. on. me.

In 20 minutes, I need to begin verb conjugation. Write out the irregular verbs. Again. Try to mash them into my brain one more time. I will get this. I will get this!! Try, make mistakes, learn, do it better next time. That’s the level I’m reduced to. No grand schemes, no lofty goals. Just try, learn, and do better.

Yep. That’s a good motto for today.

The spread of my mind

The spread that takes over the dining room table as I work on Dutch is immense. Homework, two dictionaries, past sheets on verbs and grammatical rules I’ve collected, and a large language book that often references exactly what I need when I need it. I can rarely get thru a sentence without turning to at least one of these tools to check a definition, spelling, or conjugation. It’s a pain to haul it all out, set it all up. Even more of a pain to work that way, tossing one book to the side for another, scribbling down two words at a time, and consulting so much I sometimes forget what the hell I’m working on.

Does not help that the other day I couldn’t remember how to spell “could” in English. It didn’t look correct to me, and I sat and pondered why the hell there was an ‘L’ in it in the first place. I realized the three famous rhyming English words – could, should, would – are strange animals in language. They imply shame. You could have done more. You should have done more. This wouldn’t have happened but for this or that. They are nags over the past, blame throwers. They imply things would have been much nicer if only this screw-up hadn’t occurred.

I think a lot can be learned from languages. Not just communication, but culture. It’s the idioms that give it away. Growing up with only one language, one communication style…you get blinded to it. Or maybe I was just ignorant of it right up to the point I began working on Dutch.

American English uses ‘look’ a lot rather than ‘listen’. They mean ‘listen’: look, I didn’t want to be the one to tell you this… or look, we’ll be okay. When you take a step away from it, it sounds funny. It literally makes no sense to use ‘look’. But American culture (if there is such a thing) places value on speed. Get it done and get it done quickly. Their use of ‘look’ rather than ‘listen’ emphasizes that. Your eyes can take in far more than your ear can in the same amount of time. So, looking is quicker than listening, ergo, look. They ask you to understand it instantly. They do not want to waste time convincing you or debating the merits of their statement. They want comprehension. NOW. Similarly, in American English you ‘run the risk’, while in Dutch, you ‘walk the risk’. The difference is speed. Americans do everything faster.

Speed is not an indicator of value.

I was weaned on ‘could, should, would’. Weaned on speed. Do more, go faster, be better, work, work, WORK, you damned workhorse! And honestly, I don’t know my limits. I go until I become such a raging bitch I grow unbearable to be around.

I have never gone ’til I drop. I don’t where that limit is.

That…haunts me. Feeling like I have more in me, if only I could (there’s that word again!) control myself.

Here it is Sunday, and I have not yet begun my writing that’s due on Monday. Too many hours fiddling with homework sentences, conjugating verbs and trying to learn every single word. I feel behind, yet I know that (so far) every week I’ve been the only one in class to hand in every single bit of homework every time. My brother thinks my teachers are searching for my limits. They want to know how much is too much. I want to be Miss Polly Perfect, so I’m sweating. More time, every day. No time for English. No time for my scripts.

I feel myself nearing that anger edge, which is where I don’t want to go. Keep me busy, keep me challenged – yes. But drive me mad? No.

And here’s the crunch: I know that if I work hard now to capture this, it’ll be easier. Right now I spend about an hour of my time on every sheet of homework. Give me 8-10 sheets, and there’s my regular work rotation every day. Add into that writing stories and memorizing irregular verbs and you’re encroaching on ME time. Oh, and I’m forgetting reading. I’m supposed to be reading, too. But…if I was doing this in English, I wouldn’t spend even half that time on it. And I want to get there with Dutch. So either I work hard now, or keep struggling.

My American side is screaming for quick fix. Some leap-frog pill or hypnosis trick that’ll get me over this hump. Bought some fish from the vendor outside for dinner last night. Listened to a conversation in Dutch. Heard SO many words from my homework – recognized them immediately. But I still struggled with the meaning. My head was three steps behind – oh, that word…what does that mean again?

How do I get myself to learn?

Pure repetition is a recipe for madness. As is more work. I’ve got to get it into my writing. Pick up a verb and use it, in all its forms. Maybe I’ll ask my teachers for some of that. Or maybe I’ll just start to do it.

Thinking I might abandon my written homework this week in favor of my little story. It’s not really on target subject-wise, but the object of our written homework is to get us writing, and it IS writing. Plus…it’s what I want to write. If my teachers give me leeway on subject matter, they won’t be able to stop me writing. That is, when I have an idea. I don’t expect that of me every week. I think it’s the one area of my life I’ve managed to totally eliminate the ‘could, should, would’. It’s impossible – even for me – to come up with decent story material every week.

Once again, I find my comfort in the written word. Doesn’t matter these days if it’s English or Dutch.

I can slow down to tell my stories.

It’s the spread of my mind.

So easy to fly

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

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.

I ain’t that dumb

I do not feel like an idiot. That’s gotta be number one today, because so often I do feel stupid. …It’s awful nice not to be beating myself up for something or the other.

Exercise. Back at the gym on my regular rotation. Took the cross-trainer up to level 4 and blew through my first km at 6 minutes 44 seconds. Ran – RAN – more than four km in my 30 minute stint (that includes slowing down for 10 minutes of back peddling). I’m gonna break 5km in 30 minutes before I’m done! Yesterday was tough, naturally. New level, new push, far more aching in my ass muscles. It was worth it.

Language class went well. Maybe my Thursday teacher has been talking to my Monday teachers. Don’t know. What I do know is I was given more time to collect myself before answering, and not once was I given a disappointed look – even if I wasn’t perfect. The other students laughed at me; I was given a very long sentence to read aloud, and kept repeating it to try and pick up the full rhythm of the words. But my teachers nodded at me and smiled in agreement when I said ‘It’s like music’. There’s a cadence to speaking fluently that you need to master. Certain syllables get emphasized in a sentence to help convey meaning. I guess some people never hear that. I can’t help but hear it. …Was satisfied to intercept a look between two other students at one point of the class. We have a know it all (even worse than ME) who interrupts everyone so she can give her answers. I was concerned my irritation with her was purely my thing, my bipolar, my anger. No! Caught that look and I knew – I knew – I wasn’t alone. In fact, one of the people involved in the look caught my eye and smiled, bringing me into the joke. It felt good to be included. Got to say I’m now concerned about this know it all woman. Oh, she irritates the hell out of me. She doesn’t really talk to anyone during break, just sits by herself. But…I can’t help but feel for her. Cultural differences, personal differences…who knows what makes her tick? I don’t. But I do know what it feels like to be on the outside. Too often I’ve been in her shoes – the know it all no one can stand. I just…I don’t know that I want to be the one to work so hard to be nice to her. And…it was so pleasant to sit at a table with several other students, drinking coffee and chatting in Dutch. So light. I want more of that. Is that wrong of me?

…I am THRILLED to find the theatre group has collapsable knives and a prop toy gun. No worrying, no fretting, no re-thinking the death scenes. I can move forward with the thriller trilogy without massive re-writes. Yea! I didn’t really want to give up my final scene with the gun. It’s powerful. And the knives – that’s just icing on the cake. The second act can stand as is.

Ready to finish Taman today and get it off my system. Might even devote ten minutes of brain power to looking at the submission requirements.

And writing… I’m beginning to write in Dutch. I have a little story thought out, front to end. I think I can handle the language needed to write it. It’s a kids’ story, nothing earth shattering. But it’ll be my first attempt at really writing in the language. Strange, thinking in Dutch. Strange, hearing the turns of phrase in my head. Not fully there yet, but I’m close. Very close. I know this will just be another step. There’s still many more to go before I’m fully proficient. But I look forward to really trying my hand at a narrative. My own story, thunk up outta my brain.

Yeah…(extra space left for dreaming my dreams).

Two days ’til I turn 52. Really can’t quite believe that number. I thought I’d be dead by 40. No reason in particular, I just felt I was gonna die rather early. Now I almost feel like I’ve lived beyond my sell-by date. Doesn’t help when I read news of David Cassidy dying. His picture was up on my wall when I was a kid. People my age are dying. Every day. My friends and comrades are vanishing into memory. Makes me think even more over my own mortality. Makes me wonder when my body clock will go off, when I’ll hear the word ‘terminal’. Will I feel ill and tired? Or will it come at me when I’m at the top of my game? It’s the latter I worry about.

Have an appointment with my very cute physiotherapist today. Don’t really feel I need it – and that’s a good thing. I’ll push my next appointment out even further. Maybe I’ll be able to take my visits down to 4 a year. Wish I could break thru the patient-doctor barrier with him – and not just because I find him so damned attractive. He’s a nice guy, and easy to talk with. He could be a friend if the situation were different.

Now there’s something to get me into trouble: friendships with men. I prefer them, on the whole – right up to the point where the man gets a little drunk, or a little bold, and finally says to me that he’s always fancied me and why didn’t we ever hook up? Oh, fuck. I’m leery of that now. ‘Cause it’s just not there. It could be, if I gave up all sorts of ME. I’ve been sexual, and could be again. I just. don’t. wanna.

I operate best as a big kid. Bumbling around, making observations no one wants to hear, learning, watching, digesting it all and spitting it back out. I don’t want to be distracted by grown-up stuff. That’s what makes me feel like an idiot.

And I ain’t that dumb.