Set-up

Tuesday was a set-up all the way. From my uncontrolled rage late Monday night to getting turned around and almost taking the wrong tram in Den Haag on the way home, it was one thing after the other seemingly designed to throw me, upset me, and make me lose my cool. Keeping said cool – and I did, thankfully – was costly. I’m taking today down. Maybe tomorrow, too, after I see my GP about that shoulder wound (redder and more irritated now than when it happened). Maybe even the rest of the week.

Our student film won two awards. Two out of five total, and the only group to win more than one. My co-star won for overall acting. I’d be lying if I said my ego didn’t take a small twinge on that one, but I reminded myself these awards were designed for the students, not some random actor they pulled in off the street. And the group/family feeling was there: we hung out together, sat together, took pictures, and celebrated together. If there’s one thing I can and should feel proud of, it’s this: I made it crystal clear to these kids that any award we won was a group effort; not one of us could do what we did without the others doing an equally excellent job. That sentiment was echoed back to me by their acceptance speeches. Every single one of them spoke about the team. No one was left out. I did a good job there. They didn’t just mouth the words, they felt them. They knew.

It helped, naturally, that a few people singled me out to tell me loved my acting.

And once again, we talked about working together on more projects. My co-star has an internship at a Dutch film company and said if she gets any more roles in front of the camera she’s going to demand I co-star with her. S wants to market the film to some festivals, see even if she can get some money from it. The director is itching for a story to pull us all together again. I feel buoyed up by their exuberance. Certain that sometime, somehow, we’ll all do another film. Maybe it’ll be my script, maybe something different – it doesn’t really matter. What matters is we’re family.

Family. Now there’s a word that’s had nasty connotation for me. But I was shown a different kind of family last night. Not only with the crew; that alone was great. But S’s parents are the sweetest, nicest people I’ve met in a long time. Her father told me I was always welcome in their home, that I was part of the family. I felt so comfortable with them I fell into using Dutch because their English isn’t that good. And they encouraged me, and helped me, and made me feel okay with using what Dutch words I know. My brother pointed out that they’re probably impressed by me. They’re Muslim, and these days…well. I don’t blink an eye. I ask questions when I’m curious. I’m respectful. And they’re so warm and welcoming and friendly that I’m just gobsmacked that this bigotry against all Muslims has been allowed to fester. But I find it akin to any religion: I don’t really care, unless you try to use your beliefs against me. If I catch a whiff of lecturing or blame or shaming, I’ll come down on you and your beliefs like a hellcat. That’s happened innumerable times with Christian sects. But I’ve yet to hear such blanket disregard of ALL of Christianity. I should. It’s the same. thing.

And please! Who hasn’t been annoyed by certain groups ringing your doorbell on Sundays to preach the word to you?

But no. Similarly, I came across an article today out of the Davos meeting. They’re claiming that AI will replace mostly women’s jobs. One article said ‘women and other low-skilled workers’. My gripe, naturally, is the assumption of what kinds of jobs you’ll find women in. The sexism is blatant to me, yet there it was carried in news articles across the internet with an attitude of ‘ah, yes, here’s some REAL facts we can report’. Zero comprehension about why this is so sexist. Am I the only one who sees this?

Blatant. fucking. bigotry. It’s nasty no matter who it’s directed at. Sex, religion, skin color, ability or disability, gender identification, life choice, lifestyle, body type, age, manner of dress, amount in your bank account – the list is endless, if you want to break it down. We’re just beginning to tackle the big issues. Underneath that there are thousands of subcategories. And all of it comes down to one issue: respect for others. Simple as that. Be open, be honest, and above all, be kind. I realize that for a sadist being kind is inflicting pain; this is aberrant behavior and cannot be allowed to flourish. But if there’s one thing humanity has ALWAYS allowed to flourish, it’s sadism. This idea of ownership. Greed. Gluttony. Power. Control. This trait has, in fact, been glorified. Held up as the pinnacle of all that is “winning the game”.

Shows you how small and despotic the human race really is.

…The winds are high today, never good for my mind. My shoulder is burning, and I’m worried that I’ve had a shingles recurrence and scratched off the blisters. It would be a strange place for shingles blisters, but the wounds look like it and it just gets more and more painful as time passes. Which is why I’m seeing the doc tomorrow. Meantime, I’m sequestering myself. Just in case. Having a hard time believing that’s what’s happened, but there are a few symptoms I can’t just blow off. Headaches. Chills. Been thinking it’s just stress from the premiere and school and such. But…maybe not. The risk to public health is utmost in my mind, so I’m erring on the side of caution.

I recognize I’m in a web of set-ups.

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Hugs

You can tell a lot about your relationship with someone by the way they hug you. Space left between, loose arm hold, fast release…you know when the hug is social, something they feel they must do rather than something they want to do.

I received one such hug yesterday. It came from the student who had to leave the country; her visa is up and she’s going home in a week. I noticed she sat a seat or two apart from the rest of us as we watched the film, and she didn’t join in the conversation often. Maybe the final production was tough. Maybe there was tension and some sort of fight over the film. Or, more likely, she was already feeling too much and she didn’t want to ache worse by engaging with us and then saying good-bye. I’m sad to think that. But I totally understand. The rest of the hugs I received ranged from true friendship to intense love. And I was a glutton, asking for hugs when meeting and hugs when leaving. Gimme, gimme, gimme. I don’t get many hugs, and I wanted to store them up. Plus, I love these people. Totally.

Was happy to find the people I felt most strongly about also felt the same way in return: their hugs told me so. Did not want to leave their company. I also did not want to force them into hanging out with me all day, so we did eventually end the afternoon. But the end came with promises of more calls, more visits – after exams and deadlines, which all seem to be happening in the next ten days. Asked S if I’d offended her with any of my comments on her writing. How I love this young woman! She turned shining eyes – really, her eyes were shining – to me and said ‘Oh, no! You gave me so much great information; I really appreciate it!’ and went on to tell me about the exam and deadline schedule. We have plans to get together once her calendar quiets down, to really talk about the script. And she’s promised (like a teenaged best friend) to help me with my hair and make-up on the night of the awards ceremony (which is black tie – gulp!).

Oh! I have a friend!

Talked a bit about my writing. Mentioned how I want to take my work to film. Everyone wants to continue working in the industry. And the director said, on the way out, ‘maybe we should just do another one’, meaning maybe we could get together and film MY story. He mentioned how little some films are made for, the funding and support available here in NL. I responded enthusiastically, saying my stuff is made for the stage so it’s already story heavy and FX light. …I know it’s not Ridley Scott or some other famous director, but the very idea has me all a-tingle. It might happen. I might see my script on the big screen.

Speaking of the big screen, OH MY GODDESS! Now I understand why Hollywood actors starve themselves. That screen blows you up to inhuman proportions. It doubles your size, and doubles your flaws. The part of me that always wants to look attractive winced. We used overhead lighting in the shoot – the type designed to throw shadows under any puffiness and exaggerate every crease and wrinkle. Ugh! I looked awful. And when I tucked my chin in, the skin on my neck just hung there all flabby and gross. But the part of me still addicted to being attractive is pretty weak. She gasped once or twice in my head, horrified at our appearance. Then the rest of me shut her up. We’re clay, I told myself. This is what they wanted. Look at the final product. And even she had to admit it added to this off feeling in the scenes, the tension and the something’s not right here that we wanted the audience to feel.

Oh, the excitement! The joy! All those times I was forced to work in groups, all those times I was told to pull as a team… I never felt it, and I never was in a group I felt included in. Not until the film. Now, I get it. I get the power of a team. I get the power of working together. It. is. amazing. And it’s effortless and fun and full of so many good feelings I often find myself near or in tears.

Guess I haven’t let myself care this much very often. I’ve wanted to, I’ve just not found people I felt I could trust with…all of this. I want to dance and sing, jump up and down. Show them all how much I love them. Support them, cheerlead for them, listen and help and be happy as I see them succeed in life. And I don’t want to freak any of them out, either. This old woman who’s so odd. Who just walked into their lives and now has set up camp. Trying to limit myself. Give a lot, but hold back from the all because…well, it almost overwhelms me. I don’t feel right burdening someone with it – and that’s what it feels like, even tho I’m so very focused on their happiness. Too much of anything isn’t good. So I shine that light on them, that bright burning joy I have around them, when I’m in their presence. Then, I try to tone it down. Not hound them every minute with it. I could; I’d like to write to each of them right now and tell them how much I love them.

I said it yesterday. Not with my words. That might sound weird. I told them how proud I was of them, how happy I am with the film, how much I loved being a part of it all, how I knew they’d all go on to be great successes. But my hugs said more. That’s how I told them I loved them.

Ta-da!

The more I physically heal, the more anger I feel. Old stuff. Same old stuff. No need to go thru it again.

Trying to monitor this shit for real, ’cause…well, pain. That, and I figure I’ve had enough of it at my age.

Spent two hours on the phone talking to S last night. It’s strange to have a friend who just wants to chat on the phone. But I was happy to catch up with her, happy to feel good enough to talk normally. She made me laugh – hard – when she told me the guy who played my husband in the film got cut. The crew got to the editing suite and no one like his footage or performance. Even their teacher watched his stuff and said ‘cut it’. Now S is ducking the actor because she doesn’t want to tell him he’s been completely cut out of the film. Oh, I empathize with her dilemma! I wouldn’t want to tell him either, tho I suggested to her that she play to his ego and start with something like ‘I know you’re a real professional, so you’re aware that sometimes scenes get cut in the editing room…’. But, you know, in the nugget of perfection on that shoot, he was the sore spot. Things were a little less fun, a little less together while he was there. And he was a lousy actor. Best they could find, and I’m sure he’d work in some situations – but he was bad. Everyone knew it at the time. S thinks she might tell him the premiere got cancelled by the school. She’s also considering sending a special cut with his scenes to him, just to appease him. I don’t want to sound like a bitch, but…it’s funny. If you’d heard him speak about his acting, you’d understand.

I’ve been told I’m on the posters and marketing info. Apparently, my tongue is now the director’s screen saver, too. I be everywhere. And according to rumor, my ass and tits look great on screen. So glad I’m old enough to know the difference between the illusion and me. No worries about trying to look like that all the time…tho, honestly, if I someday find members of the press outside my door, I’ll at least brush my hair before I leave the house.

Received an excited confirmation on Taman. Good golly! Must have really written a great 100 word bio. They don’t know me from Eve. I was apologetically informed my entry was early, most authors don’t get their work in before December 31, and it would take months to sort thru everything and make a decision. I was thanked sincerely for my work, and left with their hope that I would continue to work with them and write about more women. Not what I was expecting. Again, it’s more. More than I dreamed of getting.

Coming to the realization that I’ll need new pages under my writing name and as an actor. Hi, this is the new me. Again. This time, tho, I’m not fluffing things out with nonsense. I’ve already got concrete realities to talk about. Scripts, films, plays, interest and excitement. One more project under my belt and I’ll hire someone to help me on the side. I so hate social media pages.

The morphine is doing its job. Brushed my teeth last night without any electric feeling jolts in my molars. Determined to stay on three a day until Monday. I want this thing down. Quiet. Subdued. A week from today I get my temporary filling replaced, and I want to be pain free for days before going in. Feels a bit like cheating. I’m not screaming in agony any more. I could probably get by on less. But it’s so damned pleasant to not feel pain. I just want a little more of that. And I don’t want the nerve to start up again.

The time is coming. My hair is getting chopped and changed. I’ve been thinking about it more and more lately, a sign I’m well acquainted with. I want to go back to auburn. That color looked particularly good on me. And I think my new cut will be jaunty and asymmetrical. That also looks real good on me. I’m dithering a bit. There are elements of longer hair I enjoy. Mostly tying it back or up. But it’s hard to keep nice. My hair tangles easily, so when I do wear it down and free I always have snarls to deal with. It’s a pain to wash, a pain to dry, a pain to keep out of my eyes. Other than that, I like it. But, new me, new hair. And I’m ready for the ta-da! of a new ‘do.

Hell! I’m ready for the ta-da! of a new me.

Bliss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ah! Bliss.

Bombshell

Ah. Late start; slept in. Gotta get used to this back and forth. Rehearsals (and the soon to come performance) really screw with my timing. I come back home wound up, excited, and nowhere near sleep. So it’s hours beyond my usual bed-time by the time I close my eyes, and the sun is well above the horizon before I wake.

Had fun last night. It was fun to do the role in a new manner, fun to play with make-up, but perhaps most fun was the reaction I received. Walking in freshly done up, I received an overwhelming ‘Oooooo!‘ from the group. Not a huge surprise; they’ve never seen me in make-up before. I’ve got one of those faces that can change into anything because it’s a blank slate. Put different colors on me, change my hair – and viola! Someone entirely new. These days, I don’t wear make-up. Ever. I’m not out for anything, I just want to be a person. Plus it’s really bad for your skin. But I’m still that blank slate. Add in some shading and color, and suddenly I’m a glam bombshell. Or, that’s the way the group treated me. My acting partner told me four times last night he found me terribly attractive – and that’s more than lip service, because he broke character twice and his reason was, both times, my look. My ego got stroked. Don’t care if I want anything or not; being perceived as attractive feels good. In the end, the director decided to retain my original interpretation of the role – though he does want me to keep using the false eyelashes. And may I say, wearing false eyelashes is one WEIRD experience. First, you’re very aware of them, and it feels unnatural. It’s visually odd because you can see the lashes hanging over your eyes. And the initial shock of going from no lashes to thick full lashes…well, it takes some time to adjust. About an hour and a half, to be precise. By the end of rehearsal, I was used to the lashes and the way they made me look. Good news is they hung on, despite sweating, so I’ve got the gluing process down.

Bad news is, the director was sick, so I’m on health watch today.

Still no compunction to write other than an occasional note and this blog. That’s good, actually. I didn’t want to be caught up in something this close to performance. My mind is focused on staying healthy and performing well.

…I’ll confess that in the secret depths of my heart, I hope one of these people I’m working with will be so impressed by my various interpretations that I’ll end up having an in with an acting agency. It’s a long shot, but I know most of these people are involved in various acting areas – other theatre groups, films, etc. They know people. And one can hope, right?

Dressed for the gym, but I’m not sure I’ll go. The weather is iffy; we’ve a warning out for high winds and storms. And I’m tired. Plus, I’ve been exposed. Might just chill. Probably should. …Oh…if I hold to my promise to myself, I have to chill. Forget the gym. Drink juice, nap, relax. I should stop kidding myself.

Great to know I can still pull off the bombshell look. But at almost 52 (just a few, short months away), it really takes it out of me.

My life. My choice.

My last, few days of summer…Next week, it’s all rehearsals and language classes. Dust off the part of my brain that knows a little Dutch, and start paying attention to time again because I’ll be back on a schedule. But for the next three days, it’s still summer.

Received a form rejection on a play I sent out (my first script) six months ago. Standard language, with an added ‘come and see one of our plays and then submit’. Yeah. Like I’ll fly to the UK or the US or bloody anywhere to pony up funds for an amateur theatre group I’m trying to give my stuff to. Get real!

Got some other writing associated work done. Culled through my theatre listings, and sent out to another three places. Getting a bit cut-throat. My submission letters are as terse as my new writing style: basics only. Where once I included statements that tried to sell my work, I now simply present it and stand back, as if to say ‘here it is, and if you don’t realize how good it is, more the fool you’. It simplifies things. No need to spend time trying to come up with clever lines when you’re not gonna whore yourself out.

Been bothered by my encounter with the theatre group far more than I would have liked. Spent much of my time repeating my mantras, and reminding myself they’re all snobs, I knew they were snobs, and I shouldn’t be so surprised. Resolved to try and hold my tongue when the comments begin to fly. Resolved, in fact, to just walk away – I don’t need or want that in my life. While I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to act again, and part of me will always be grateful to the group because working with them inspired me to try writing scripts, I find myself very willing to walk away from these people. Upon a few more days away from the rehearsal night and all their comments, in fact, I’m left wondering if it was their goal to attempt to shame and control me. One thing that’s stuck with me was something said about how my make-up should be done for the production. We were all agreed it should look bad; this woman I’m playing does not know how to apply make-up well. But the suggestion made was that an eyebrow pencil be used to draw eyebrows above my own. Clownish. While I’m willing to go all out on a role, I must protest. Even an idiot could figure out that an eyebrow pencil should be used on eyebrows. …And, oddly, I was told to ‘tone it down’ a bit on the character – despite going over gangbusters, despite the frequent and voluble laughter I received. I believe now that this was the group’s attempt to restrict my talents so their own parts don’t seem so flat in comparison. Part of me feels ‘do it the way the director says, even if you disagree. It’s on his head’. Part of me thinks fuck that! …The only thing I can say for sure is, I’ll play to the audience. If I’m getting laughs pushing the voice and mannerisms, I’ll continue. Let the director bellow at me after people convulse with laughter and gasp for breath. If the need arises, I’ll remind the group it’s a comedy, so laughter is our business. They’ve no reason to restrict me.

Other than their petty jealousies, to which I believe I’m already falling victim. So where’s the down side?

Truth is, the group is heavy on my mind. Got an email asking for donations. Not a surprise; I knew they did that last year, too. And I was MORE than pleased to find one of their costs listed as ‘licensing fees to perform the play’. Didn’t really think they’d include that – tho I must not forget the possibility that that particular line was included to pacify me. Everyone knows where I stand on royalties. No one else is a real artist, so they all download illegally and rip off software and whatever else they can. And everyone knows I’m against that. It’s one of the few topics I can stop every single one of them on – permanently. They’ve no defense over the ‘it’s stealing’ statement. But I’ve been wondering how far I’ll go. We’ve got notification that next time we’ll be given flyers. Been told to ‘talk it up and sell the show’. I have no idea if the group even submits public announcements to the local papers, or puts out any kind of press release. …I could. I’ve written hundreds of press releases. And I know how to find resources. How to ask for the right department or person (at least, in English), which makes all the difference. But I find the question most in my mind is, do I want to put in that kind of work and allow the group to think it’s because of them? In other words, do I do what I do as I normally would – silently, and unasked? It hardly seems the time or place to be reticent. If I do it, I claim it.

Ach, but that gives them one more reason to begrudge me, and I do not like that feeling. I’m left unsure. Seems to me the pros and cons are about equal. Maybe a bit heavier on the con side.

Guess it’ll be left to what pops out first: my ego or my anger. Ego will make me go for it. Anger will keep me restricted.

But if I strip away any consideration for anyone else, if I concentrate wholly and completely on what I want and what I think is good for me, the answer is simple: go for it. Get the word out. I may be seen by someone who could help me in another role, or maybe even help my attempts at being a real playwright.

My life. My choice.

A Different Kind of Wallowing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I stole the show.

Again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hangin’ in there

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*sigh*

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

Gee. Like I don’t know that.

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

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

I just gotta hang in there.

Back to it

Writers from the UK only. Irish and UK residents only. We focus on Texas writers. We want midwestern writers only. Canadian writers will be given top consideration. We will not read international scripts. No submissions accepted from outside the lines we’ve drawn in the sand.

Fucking hell. Fifteen minutes of an internet search and the rug’s been pulled out from under my feet. Every time I check for new theatres to submit to, there are more bullshit caveats like the above. Restrictions. The ‘if you don’t live here you can fuck off’ attitude. Isolationism is the new fad du jour.

Yeah, go stick your heads in the sand.

Theatres have, as a matter of fact, closed down so much with their submission policies I’m really starting to think about screen plays because – at least for NOW – those are open to all writers no matter where you currently live. Kind of feels like a trap, tho. Spend loads of time mastering a new format to find everyone has closed down their submissions again. I mean, that’s what happened with the fucking theatre scripts.

Bastards.

Sometimes I hate the world so much.

Well, I’ve still got a couple places I can send out to. After this year, tho…*sigh* I might be working in a vacuum again.

Yesterday’s social outing went well. Easy conversation, pretty comfortable. Mentioned some of the summer fests coming up and hope we can get together to wander the streets of Rotterdam enjoying the music and art on offer. It’s good to have someone other than my brother to talk with. And…my ego got stroked a bit. They were at my script read through, and I felt like I had a gold star hanging above my head the whole time. There was no question as to whether or not I was a good writer – only whether or not my scripts have been chosen for production. That’s new. Usually when I mention my writing (or music, or anything else artistic), people demand (demand!) to know what I’ve done – and then they sit there saying ‘uh-uh’ or ‘don’t know it’ or ‘never heard of it’ like that was their intention in the first place – to put me in my place. But I didn’t get any of that yesterday. Instead, I had some polite enquiries on the status of my radio script. Super enthused grins when I talked about my current script. Quick ‘yes’ replies when I asked if they were interested in helping me with the Night Witches. And I thought ‘Damn! These people really respect me as a writer!

It felt good.

Today: physical activity is needed. Like, direly. Gotta get to the gym for a full bash (hopefully not my ankle again). Want to put time in on the script and start to get it in the new system. Have two old films I recorded off BBC to watch. Should also do at least one run through of the play and my lines. And I should get serious about Dutch, and do a bit every day…again. Fell off that last resolution pretty quick, but the key to accomplishing your goals isn’t doing it all in one go, it’s getting up every time to you fail and starting again.

*sigh* Get up. Back to it.

Keep your eyes open

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

And the first draft is complete.

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

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

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

Someone needs to do the grocery shopping, too.

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

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

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

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

What the fuck am I gonna do now?

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

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

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

Just…walk slowly. And keep your eyes open.