There’s already enough

Heavy sigh.

If I were to take as long healing from all the crap I got growing up as it took to brainwash me into thinking I was a piece of shit, I’d be 76 and counting before I got over it. That’s the thought that elicited the heavy sigh, a depressed feeling, and anger over time never fucking being on my side.

I hate my family.

Gods…I know I look awful when I’m at the gym. Catch myself too often too deep into emotion. I tear up, my face turns red – I’m sure I look either like I’m about to have a heart attack or a nervous breakdown. Or both. It’s what happens. My body moves, stuff shifts and suddenly I am overwhelmed by memories and emotions. Therapists really should think about doing sessions during work-outs. At least in my case.

Gotta go through it. Free up whatever got blocked. Breathe. Fucking breathe. That’s the only thing I can think of, when it hits me. My feet move, time ticks on, but I’m unaware of any of it. Just stuck somewhere deep in a half hidden memory that’s full of old, built up muck. I’ve only impressions left over. Impressions of regret, and anger. Why did it go down that way? Why couldn’t I have been one of the lucky ones born into a family that cared?

Don’t talk to me about fate. I’ve always felt like I’m paying forward in this life, and it sucks. I was never a kid who enjoyed frying ants or ripping off the wings of flies. I don’t have that mean streak in me. If I’d been a shit in a previous life, wouldn’t it have shown up early on? I think so. But I was that weird kid who’d get up at 4 am to sing the sun up. I talked to trees, and cried over injustices.

And if the secret to reaching zen is dealing with people shitting on you all the time, I must be some freaking holy zen master.

So why do I find all of this so fucking difficult?

Haven’t I learned anything?

But, hey. I don’t have social niceties. Was never taught them. Don’t get hidden agendas, or most faux pas (what IS the plural on that, anyway?). And if I had a nickel for every time I heard about how ‘different’ I was…well, I still wouldn’t be rich. But I could buy a cheap meal for myself.

So what’s stuck in my craw today?

Other than the welling up of old memories and feelings, I guess I’d have to say it was what happened at my language lesson. Yeesh. You know, questioning any of this makes me wonder if I’m not just some drama queen timing things out and demanding my fair share of attention. Nonetheless, I noticed a definite difference between how I am treated and how my fellow student is treated. The effect was heightened for me because we had another new volunteer teacher sit in with us, to learn how a lesson might be. I think she looked at me twice. The remainder of her eye contact was reserved for my fellow student. And rightly so; the majority of conversation took place between my teacher, the newbie, and the other student. I was not included. I was not asked questions. I searched for things to say, to include myself…didn’t feel it was well received. They turned, they listened, but they didn’t follow up with statements or questions. Am I being paranoid? So difficult to tell. The other student is not as far along as me, and both instructors might have felt she needed more practice speaking. That’s logical. Still. I’ve an undeniable feeling that something else is going on, something I’m not catching onto. I hate that.

Mm. That’s the second thing I’ve said I hate.

Decided something. Had a weird few minutes during the script read through. I was outside with the director and someone the director knew was leaving. The guy asked me – twice – if I was the director’s wife. My reaction: laughter. I’ve thought a lot about that, and realized it might have sounded derisive to the director. Like I was laughing at the idea that we could be married because I found him unattractive or whatever. I wasn’t; I was laughing over the idea of anyone even conceiving ME of being capable of marrying someone. I’m just a bit worried that my hilarity will be taken the wrong way, and I don’t want any misunderstandings over my lack of social skills. So I’m gonna bring it up to him. Remind him of that moment and explain myself because I didn’t at the time. And I don’t need anyone else thinking I’m a shit.

There’s already enough.

I want it to stop

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What? What?

Been listening to the same tune since Sunday – a high pitched ringing in my left ear. And that’s all I can hear from that side. Another mutation of this virus, or another virus on top of the one I had that’s now fucked up my ears. Oh, yes. Did I mention the dizziness? Stumbling around drunk even tho I haven’t touched a drop? Yeah. It’s loads of fun.

Not.

Watching the world die is not an occupation that gives me comfort. So I’m antsy. Can’t watch regular tv. Too upsetting. Everything pisses me off. The sheer stupidity of most shows on tv these days is mind boggling. You find this crap funny? Appealing to the lowest common denominator – and DAMN, it’s got LOW – still works. Frankly, the popularity of such low brow entertainment tells me how foolish most people are. It tells me they can’t read beyond a third grade level. They can’t do maths, they don’t understand anything with complexity. But make a joke about a race of people or women, and THAT they find funny.

You’re really showing your ignorance.

Some days I wonder why I don’t pick up a weapon and kill everyone I see. Some days I see no down side to that plan.

My chauvinistic, racist, bigoted brother who still resides stateside must have been drinking this weekend, because a picture of my great-nephew showed up in my email with a short message: This is your nephew, he is 10 and attends third grade. All I can say is, so? Am I supposed to feel something for this stranger? Because I don’t. I don’t love him, I can’t even like him considering he’s the son of his father whom I find a right little shit. I don’t hate my great-nephew, but he’s got to prove he’s more than the sum of the programming he’s being put through. To me, he looks a proper little Nazi. Blond hair and blue eyes, holding a gun. Bravo. The kid is 10 years old and you’ve already got him brainwashed into thinking guns are cool, get one, hold onto one, shoot it off and “protect” yourself (and anything else you think it’s worth killing someone over) because it’s so right. Yeah, it’s right alright. As far right as Hitler. Well done. Another linkage to a family I’m ashamed of and disgusted by. I deleted the photo and the message.

I predict another message from my ‘non-interfering’ uncle will show up in my email within a month. You know – the one who never discusses me with my siblings.

…Finding it difficult to keep pushing through. Very difficult to stay calm. The future has never been more uncertain, both on a personal level and a world level. Telling myself panic won’t help anything. Not easy. I have to fool myself. Distract myself with shiny things. Basically, I have to induce a state of quasi-denial: it’s not happening; look at the birds!

I’m not real good at denial. That’s why I do drugs.

Oh. Shouldn’t have said that, right? That makes me “wrong”. Even here, with NL’s rather liberal stance on soft drugs, I’m “wrong”. Say that to a doctor here and they’ll back peddle on you: you’re not wrong, the behavior is. Then in the next breath they’ll tell you why you need to stop that behavior. Take a walk if you feel it’s too much, they say – or they’ll come up with some other trite piece of advice I can smash down in 3 seconds or less.

What’s “normal” is based on an average. The Bell Curve. If your behavior falls under the big curve, you’re fine, you’re normal. Go out on one of those side lines, though, and you’re wrong, depressed, psychotic, crazy – you pick the fucking term. But that’s such bullshit! Let’s see…under that line of thinking, anyone with an IQ over 110 is probably abnormal. A freak. Wrong in the head. Anyone too tall, too short, too fat, too old, too young – you’re abnormal. Freakish. Wrong. It’s always implied. Wrong. And those in the wrong are always pushed – through laws or social pressure – to conform. Two hundred years ago and they’d have just killed us rather than deal with us freaks; maybe in the end, that’s better.

I don’t understand how people can live their lives and not understand some things. Like, right this minute there are people dying, being murdered, raped, children getting fucked up the ass by some old creep. Am I supposed to feel joy in this life knowing others are suffering? Seriously? Doesn’t that show a complete lack of social empathy? And I’m “wrong” for feeling this way! Wrong for bringing it up, wrong for ‘being a downer’, wrong, wrong, wrong.

Well, fuck you.

I say it’s you who are insane. You’re so stuck in denial you can’t even acknowledge it.

Life. is. shit.

And yes, I know it’s been weeks of sitting around trying to nurse myself back to better health. No exercise, nothing other than my own thoughts and sleep. I know I’m at the lowest ebb I can be, outside of a real depressive episode (and no, this is NOT depressed for me, as I keep saying to doctors ad infinitum). Doesn’t make my words any less true. When I feel better, or I’m on a manic high – those are the rare times I really CAN get into denial and escape. That’s all. I embrace it then. Focus on what’s right in front of me. But it’s not like I forget about all the crap in the world. I never do. I never stop thinking about it, even at my most manic. The deeper knowledge of shit in the world, that’s always there. Can’t escape it. Can’t deny it. Can’t drug it away.

I don’t get people who can.

Will this ringing never stop? Maybe it’s the echo of my own words, churning around in the inner recesses of my ears. Things I’ve said, things I will say, all rebounding back to me into one high, incessant hiss.

I want it to stop.

What have I got to lose?

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The weekend was tough. Lots of sleep, lots of not being able to breathe through my nose, lots of feeling almost better so I squirmed and got antsy in between my naps.

Doesn’t help my anxiety keeps ramping up. Immigration, no word from this place or that, tumbleweeds rolling through my email and private life – the list goes on and on. Doing my best to keep myself from freaking out. Went back to a Downton Abbey run, because I find it soothing. It’s that or films where everyone dies, and I’m trying to keep positive, so Downton Abbey it is. It helps, a little. Gets me through long afternoons when I got nothin’ to do. Talked with my brother; he’s assured me that no matter what happens the world won’t end. I’m not so sure about that, but I guess he’s right that there’s no bleeding reason to worry about it. If it happens, it happens. Expending energy and thought on future horrors doesn’t do me any good. I can’t solve anything. Can’t do anything to change it. I’m just caught up in the machinery, hooked on a cog that’s spinning around, so I spin with it.

I hate waiting.

Saturday found me just too ill and too bummed to get the script out to anybody. Every time I looked at my list I lost my confidence. No one cares, no one will do it, no one will bother. Very negative (thus, the Downton Abbey). By Sunday my mind hand’t changed much, but I felt a little stronger and was able to work through it. Pick a place from my list, prep it, send it out. Hit that damn button, woman. SEND. The new theatre had an automated response to my email, saying they received the script. Hey! That’s one up from the rest; at least I know my new email works because the message came through.

Was gonna pull back on my smoking today and head out for needed blood tests. Then I saw 45’s face, no messages from my friends, and my will kind of petered out. Just don’t know why I should keep trying some days. Seems like nothing I do makes a difference. So I lit up one, which has led to another, and now I’m just bleeding smoking. Fuck it. Tell me again how my activity is so horrible when we’ve blown up 2000 atomic bombs on this planet. Tell me again how the plastic in our food, the additives, the chemicals in our air and water don’t matter, but it’s my smoking that will kill me.

Fucking liars.

Woke up hating my sister. I always figure I’ve dreamt about her when I wake up like that. Some nightmare, or just a revival of some memory that really was a nightmare for me. Takes a lot of daylight to conquer those nighttime horrors. To let go of the desire to skin her alive. My mind is not inventive with torture ideas, but it is very cruel. I want her to hurt. I want her alive so she can continue to feel pain. It is the basest, cruelest part of me screaming out – and it is also the part of me that is in the most pain. I recognize that. So I did a little chorus of ‘Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead’ – the song I plan to sing when I receive news that my sister is, finally, dead – and pretended she’d already bit the dust. Had a little spark of pure joy at the thought. I know that’s very horrible of me. My own judgement condemns me: I am bad for feeling that way. But if I am to make sense of things, if I am to overcome this base ugliness that sits so constantly in the pit of my stomach, I must confess to all. A part of me looked forward to my mother’s death. Felt very guilty over that for a long, long time. Likewise, a part of me looks forward to my sister’s death. In this, I feel no guilt. She has always been guilty, always been horrible, always been the worst of everything a human being can be. I understand – at least a little bit – that her reaction stems from the same place mine does: my mother’s narcissism. Once in a while I get flashes of understanding from my sister’s viewpoint. I see things through her eyes: the favoritism our mother exhibited, the verbal bashing. I wonder if my sister suffered the kind of neglect and abuse I went through. My mind tells me it’s probable. More than probable. And I begin to see how she may have fixated on me as someone to hate, someone to be jealous of, someone to continually rip down, use and abuse, as a reaction to her own pain. I see all of that in her, because I see all of it in me.

Understanding does not bring forgiveness, though. I’ve never seen her try to change. Perhaps that’s sad; in fact, I feel it so, at this moment. She’ll never get it. She can’t; it’s beyond her way of thinking. At best, I pity her. At worst, I want her suffering. I suppose that’s a step up from only wanting her dead or in pain.

Not a very big step up, though.

Been sketching out scenes for new scripts. Forget actual writing; I can’t call it that. I won’t allow myself to fall into that trance. Too much to do. But I’m allowing little bits to come out, scene roughs. I figure if I do what I did last time, I can take all my little bits and mush them into something when I get another break. Not sure what’s going to take shape yet. I’m not restricting myself. Last time, I wrote specifically for the local group – small cast, small budget, small scenes. I’ve taken those blinders off. Not worrying about HOW something might be done. Here it is; you figure it out.

After all, what have I got to lose?

Salty, like me

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Salt. It’s not a nice smell. That’s not something we think about often; our language talks about ‘the salty sea air’ in novels like it’s wonderful. It isn’t. The sea stinks of fish and rotting seaweed. But it isn’t ’til you wake up in the middle of the night and smell the salt on you from dried sweat that you begin to know exactly how putrid salt actually smells. Then your nose wrinkles, and you don’t think about the sweat or the nightmares that might have caused it, you think salt. That’s all you smell. And it’s awful.

I suppose I should try to get used to it. This nightmare. I don’t even want to delve into what my brain might have cooked up for me in dreams; my waking reality is too far over the edge the way it is.

Anger woke me today. Same old, same old. I really got a problem with my family. Ain’t that loverly? To be so screwed up on the Alpha that your Omega passes by while you try to figure out what went wrong back at Alpha. Saddest thing is, they don’t care. I predict that if I dropped over dead right now, the only tear shed in the family would be by my older brother who’d be doing it because he felt sorry for himself for not getting to see me one last time. They wouldn’t care if it had been hard on me, they wouldn’t care how much it hurt. Only how their own little castles in the air get affected – now that would trip their triggers. I should borrow a hundred bucks from one of them and never pay it back just to make sure they have some reason to bring me up when I kick it.

Not that any of them would lend me a hundred bucks.

And I’m angry that yet another week has ticked by with nothing from the fucking director with the theater group. It’s not fucking Anna Karenina; it’ll only take a goddamn hour to read – two, if you’re not that great at English. If you didn’t want to read it in the first place, say fucking so! Say “Sorry, I don’t really have time” or “Gee, I’m not really the person you should hand this off to, sorry”. I’ll get it. I’ll move on. But to say you will, to string me along for MONTHS now and give me nothing but a carrot on a stick, pisses me off.

Shallow goddamn vipers.

As for my work, the changes have been made. Typos corrected. A line pulled here, a line inserted there. It’s as comprehensive, smooth, and fluid as I can get it without outside help. Today marks the beginning of The Great Send-Out. I’ve just enough anger to get over my anxiety about sending the script out. Oh, and Goddess, please! Let just one theater group say they’ll do it. They can be from bum-fuck nowhere, just let me hear back from them before the local theater group meets, so when the director stumbles around and gives me yet another excuse I can oh so cooly say, “It’s okay; I’ve got a group producing it right now” and just saunter away. That’s all I ask: the opportunity to for ONCE in my life give a little of that bullshit back that I get heaped on my head day in and day out!

I thank my love of cartoons for getting me through the days lately. Every time I feel lonely and alone, I imagine cartoon tumbleweeds rolling thru the room. It makes me smile, even thru the loneliness. As usual with people who feel lonely, I’m having a difficult time reaching out (terrible circle, that). The few email conversations I do have are short, and stunted. What I’d give for a long, drawn out message from someone I know right now! But everyone’s on Twit-o-sphere, everyone uses emojis, and no one seems to say anything about what’s really going on with them – or if they do share, it’s all bad, all negative. I’m so negative these days it’s hard when I hear my friends sound down. What can I say to them? I see the world as pretty shitty these days, too. I have no magic wand, no silver bullet, no cure-all.

Life sucks, and I didn’t ask for it.

That makes me angrier than anything. That I’m just here, without my consent or approval. That I’m forced to live inside this body – this fucking diseased body that wasn’t right from the get go. That I’m sentenced to go through this life.

This hell.

Didn’t go to the gym yesterday, and my attitude shows it. I’ll go today, despite it being Saturday. Try to burn hard enough that my brain releases endorphins and tricks me into believing things aren’t quite so bad, at least for a little while.

I feel old, and cynical.

Nothing to do but wait and see what happens. Yesterday a fellow student came to class with the flu. She had to sit next to me, had to push her used tissues to my side of the table, had to cough in my direction, lick her fingers and touch the papers she passed to me – in short, she seemed to do everything she could to ensure I fell ill again. I’ve had a bleeding headache since about 3 yesterday. Last night my throat felt raw. …Maybe I’m ready to be ill again. It’s a ready made reason to hide, and I do so feel like hiding lately. Just go away; you’re all assholes and fuckers, anyway. I’ll come back out when I rebuild my shell.

Which brings me back to salt because it seems like that’s the shell I’m building up. A salty, crusty outer layer. How fitting. My new work is coarse, and graphic. The things I’ve imagined writing about…the things my mind keeps turning back to, time and again…these are not script ideas for the local group. They’re not script ideas for family groups or church groups or school groups.

They’re salty, like me.

Responsibility for the Now

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After an hour of tossing and turning in my bed, trying to recapture that elusive thing we call sleep, I got up. There’s only so much hoping you can do; for me, that’s about a dozen turns on either side: left, right, no left again ’cause it’ll be so much more comfortable, damn it! try the right again – and so on.

For some strange reason, I can’t get George Michael singing ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ out of my head.

And I’m not even a big George Michael fan.

Sticking in my craw: a little tidbit I floated past my bro yesterday afternoon, as we SIM’d and gamed our way through the late afternoon with South Park playing on the telly. South Park – which is truly our repository of all social commentary – gave me the clue (again). I realized that Americans tend to think of their country like a sports club – go team, no matter what. That’s not right. A country is supposed to be a group of people who work together for their common good. I mean, if everyone’s just out for themselves, it’s hardly a country, right? Just a bunch of yahoos grabbing everything they can. Sounds like the Old West, which, btw, was a territory. Not a country, not a nation, not even states yet – just a territory. No. A country works together. A country realizes the benefits to such things as proper infrastructure (roads, trains). A country realizes they need to keep their people healthy in order to continue producing. It’s a simple matter of economics.

But Americans….They’re very much the half naked painted fat guys you see at the Superbowl, drunk out of their minds on a cold winter’s day, screaming for their team to kill, kill, destroy the other side. They have a sense of victory when someone from the other side gets taken off the field with an injury. They are small, and petty, and demand daily confirmation that they’re the biggest and baddest bully on the block.

The only thing Americans come together for is mayhem.

Other than that, they’ll let you rot. No money, no help. You can die right outside the hospital grounds and no one will lift a finger. I tell that to people here, and they don’t quite believe me, just as they don’t quite believe me when I tell them that American food products that carry the word ‘cellulose’ contain wood pulp.

When I speak of Americans, I also speak of my family. The two are intertwined; it was my family who raised me on the motto ‘If you don’t like it here, get the fuck out’. This despite a firm and rather desperate need to keep all their children from entering the armed service – the most patriotic thing you can do, according to their lip service. But not for them. No! My eldest brother even made sure to pave the way for his son way back in ’00. Contacted me and planned an escape route up to Canada, where I was living, in order for his son to escape a possible reinstatement of American conscription. It didn’t happen at the time, but my point stands: typical two faced behavior from my family. Say one thing, do another.

Sometimes I wonder how I learned to function at all with those people around me.

I know just a few days ago I was saying how understanding and compassionate I felt towards my family. I know this is a flip. I don’t know why, particularly. The news has been bad for quite some time now. Nothing jumps out at me, nothing is bugging me, other than George Michael (still singing) and my irritation towards Americans and, thus, my kin. It simply IS today.

Formatting on the script is complete. I’ve got a PDF waiting to be printed at the library. I hemmed and hoed, re-read the script again, made a few on the fly subtle changes, and walked away completely convinced I don’t have a cohesive story at all, I haven’t made my point, and it’s not very good. I’ll call it the final stage of editing madness, and it’s a thoroughly unpleasant malady to suffer from. The only real remedy is rest, the one thing I find myself incapable of doing. I am a manic sloth; antsy to sit and waste my time with games, ready to lie down in bed yet unable to stay there.

Wake me up, before you go, go….

I wanna go. Why is the world asleep? Because it’s dark? Hardly a reason! Wake up! Wake up! Open your shops, start the coffee, make some noise. If I ever buy fireworks for New Years, I’ll get up early one morning like this and set a few off. Just because I can.

Gods. And it’s Sunday! A day when people are even slower than usual.

Naturally, this will throw my whole day and perhaps my entire week off. My sleep patterns will be off, one way or another. My routine is set for a shake-up, too, with an old friend breezing thru the city for two days on a whirlwind tour.

Trigger, trigger, trigger, down the line.

Ah. Old friend. Memories. Been looking at those with different eyes lately. Eyes through which I see myself differently. It’s not a pleasant picture. The beginning of accepting that I chose this. One form or another, I chose it. I chose each little step along the way, all adding up to the big NOW. And I think about the blaming I’ve done. Sure, it would have been nice to grow up in a supportive family. A family that doesn’t play narcissistic games. But how long can I point my finger at my family, my mother, my sister, my brother, and say ‘this is because of you, because of how you treated me’? Yes, what happened back then influenced the decisions I made, and in that respect, they are responsible for a lot of shit. I’m afraid I may never be free of that influence. That scares me more than anything.

But the now…that’s mine. I can destroy it, or I can play with it. I can make friends, or create enemies. I can look back, or plan for the future.

The responsibility for the now weighs heavily on me today.

Authoress Theatricus

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Four days, non-stop (other than my brother yelling at me to pause for silly things like meals and sleep). The script is finished and I am thrilled. Thrilled to be done, thrilled to have finished at all, thrilled to hope there may be some real funny jokes in the script…thrilled. Did a little victory song and dance yesterday after I wrote the last ‘curtain down’. The world of spell check and formatting comes later, but at the moment, the bulk of the work is done.

Now what the hell do I do?

That’s a joke, of course. I’ve got four days of piled up stuff to do. More, if I care to be honest about how lazy I’ve become. But I’ve been walking around with “that burnt out stare” (according to my bro) that I get after an intensive writing spree. Watch one of the movies you recorded! Don’t you dare turn your computer back on! I had to get up a wee bit early so I didn’t catch hell just blogging this morning.

My bro even topped up the card we use online. He handed it to me yesterday afternoon with a slip of paper. “See? Over a hundred euro all ready. You’ve got fifty for games.” I never spend that much on games, I scoffed. “I know. Break the habit and spend it. Just take a few days from your writing.” – Now, that’s the act of a desperate man!

I like writing the way I do. It’s become something of a ritual with me. When I finally fall into that groove, I don’t want anything to stop me. Not my brother, nor tv, meals, sleep, or any other interruption. I really should have a cage to go sit in. A dark cage with just my desk and computer sitting in it and a plaque on the front saying:

Authoress Theatricus: a rare species of female writer. The Authoress Theatricus enjoys solitude, and working under the cover of darkness. Although she may look warm and fuzzy, the Authoress is extremely dangerous. Do not approach the cage; do not hit the bars of the cage to catch the Authoress’ attention. This animal is known to attack swiftly and violently without provocation.

Growl!

Right now I need the zookeeper to hose down my cage. Part of that ‘no interruptions’ stuff includes not showering or even changing my underwear. I don’t want to wash the story off my back! Sounds silly, I know, but I have this strange feeling that when I write, I sweat out the story. That sweat becomes part of the story, part of the setting, and when I’m really in the groove I don’t want anything to throw me.

Including my own stink, or lack thereof.

This morning I’ll get the sweat and oils burned off my body in a chlorine pool (don’t gross out; I’ll shower before jumping in). I might just float on my back, grinning, the whole time. I did it. It’s done. I still feel all giddy thinking those thoughts.

My characters threw me curves right up to the curtain close. My brain fished out a divorce horror story from long ago, and I threw echoes of it into the script via the eldest son and his wife. I had this foggy idea of how the play was supposed to end, but no real idea how to get myself there. But, trust to my subconscious! Even when I don’t listen to myself, it does. It heard and remembered my words about using the script to heal my family in a manner I’m unable to do in real life. And this came out:

I know, Mom. But that’s not a life. And I want a life! It would sure be a lot easier to go and get one if I felt you supported me.

That stopped me and made me think. Brought a tear to my eye, too. From there, the rest fell into place: the denials, the jokes, the confessions – everything.  The real parts of my life are utterly real in this thing. Almost too real, in some aspects. But as my fingers beat down closer and closer to the word count I was shooting for, I wrote what never happened in real life: a change in behavior. A healing, a coming together in support of each other like my family was never capable of.

As the last lines were written and the final running gag punchline typed in, I felt a release. An acceptance. The buzz of irritation and anger I felt around the word ‘family’ melted away.

I didn’t look for this. I didn’t expect it. But I’ve healed myself, at least a little bit. The understanding I needed as a writer to create these characters, with all their foibles and irritating behaviors, got welded into my mind. I wrote what I thought was behind it all: my mother’s narcissism, my father’s bellowing, my brother’s drinking and cheating, my sister’s shallow callousness. The characters were called out, brought up short, and given a good slap in the face metaphorically to wake them up. And I find, today, in my heart, more understanding and forgiveness for my family than I’ve felt in many years.

With the final curtain down stage direction written, the heavy fog surrounding Rotterdam lifted. Quite literally; I opened the curtains to weak sunshine, which grew and strengthened into the nicest day we’ve had since I fell into this trance. Can’t help but feel that’s a sign, or at least a reflection of this brilliantly glowing light inside me.

I done good.

Today, I pick up my old life. The one before the time portal opened and I fell down the rabbit’s hole. It feels strange to face a day of swimming and…and nothing. No plans to write, no need to dream up any more dialogue. I should turn my brain to Dutch again. Get back to the gym later this week for exercise.

Time to draw the curtain down around the cage; this exhibit’s closed for the time being.

A Whole New Year

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Your little men have moved. Did you even take a break since I left?

Saturday, 31 January 2016. After writing on and off, here and there, on my script for over a month, the good fairies with their evil laughs came and sprinkled magic dust all over me with two words: what if, and my mind exploded. Two days non-stop clacking away at my computer. Not seeing. Not hearing. In the groove, monomaniacal – crazed, even.

My calendar tells me it’s 2017. I was so burnt out last night I headed to bed before the big event. Even as I lay there, my sleep masque pulled down over my eyes to block the flash from the fireworks war going on, my mind mulled over possibilities. I drifted between wakefulness and forgetfulness. The crackle from the spitting fire displays outside seeped through the thin single pane glass of my window and reverb’d around my room, reminding me of a hard summer’s rain on a thin roof. Booms turned to thunderclaps, and before I wandered off to dreamland I found myself for an eerie moment standing under a long forgotten tin shack roof in Canada as a torrential rain unleashed itself on the thirsty earth below. I grinned before I slipped into full sleep, grinned at the memory; not a half-dried memory consisting only of a picture and few sounds, but a total immersion memory with all my senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and feel. It was a perfect pearl of yesterday’s flavor.

Yesterday is what I’m trying to capture.

I’ve re-written the entire script. Had to. At first, I dismissed the visions the fairies’ what if brought me. Totally out of character, I harrumphed. Impossible, I scoffed. But those fairies! They kept at me. Must have been hammering on my brain as I slept. The next morning I woke up knowing it wasn’t impossible, it was hilarious, and I had to start again from scratch.

Words flew from my fingers like blood from an open wound, and poured over the page. One thousand, three thousand, five thousand – in the blink of an eye. Jokes wrote themselves, surprising me into laughter. Running gags presented themselves. Somehow I made the characters both more and less true to my real life memories. My father’s obsession with engine oil and checking it in every car I ever drove is there now. But my sister has flipped to her physical polar opposite: in the new version, it’s she who’s slim, beautiful, and working to be an actress. My eldest brother’s sexual attraction to me is included, too – but his wife’s become a fast talking barrel of laughs, rattling off insane statements that his real life wife would have never dared to utter. Even my first trip to the Netherlands is included. The youngest son expresses his wish to visit Amsterdam, the family takes a few clumsy fisted swings at Dutch culture that I hope go down with a lot of laughs, and the son takes the usual sort of dismissive abuse I was subjected to – not unlike Saffy in AbFab. But unlike AbFab, that presents us with an over the top narcissistic mother with an acerbic, very British sense of humor, the humor in my script comes from the gentle ignorance of the typical American family. The false impressions, the misinformation; if I could write a bit about getting pregnant from a toilet seat, I would. It’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. These people aren’t mean, not in any sense of the word. Hung up on themselves? Yes. Poor communicators? Absolutely. But mean just to be mean, as Jennifer Saunders so often is in her writing? No. [Caveat: I’m a fan of AbFab and don’t mean to diss it or Saunders in any manner, but it’s obvious to me her humor comes from a tight-lipped anger and mine from a half-smiling understanding.]

To make my life (and the re-write) easier, I set up a small diorama of the stage and used six tiny plastic soldiers to represent my characters. I have to say, I find it amusing to watch my characters in their frozen stances, holding guns and various weaponry on each other. It adds a visual reminder for me that the slurs and zingers uttered are done so out of defense, not offense, and makes it easier for me to stay on track with my story. These, then, are the little men my brother referred to. They sit still, until I write a stage direction. Then they move as they’re told. Stand up, walk there, do this, come back, sit down. Little soldiers, all of them, squeaking out how high? when I say jump.

The fog that brought the fairies in still sits low over the city, pondering the New Year and all its smoke-related festivities. It’s as if a curtain is drawn down, shutting out that life. Write, write, I hear them whisper. It’s hard not to.

Have you eaten? asks my brother. Huh? I mutter.

Hey! I need you to pay attention now. For real.

It’s a telling sign that my brother’s learned to wait until I stop, put my computer to sleep, and turn to face him before trying to really ask me anything. I don’t know if he’s done one of those outrageous statements on me just to find out if I’m really listening or not. You know the kind: I’m gonna head out now. Thought I’d stop by the bank and hold them up, maybe take a few hostages, then grab some money, head to the store and get something for dinner. People do that to see if the other person notices or just grunts another ‘okay’ in their general direction. For all I know, my brother’s told me over the last few days that he turned his bellybutton inside out and he plans to have his eyeball pierced. Like I’d know!

In a few days, I’ll come down from this. I’ll either have the story done and finished, or I’ll be so exhausted and burnt my bro will shake his finger at me, make a pot of chicken soup, and insist I sit in front of the telly all day watching films.

We’ll see what happens. It’s a whole new year.