Crack

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

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

WHOOHOO!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

…Yet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was so lonely as a kid.

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

But it’s starting to crack.

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Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…I’ll concentrate on that second part…

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

Trust.

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.

Shared History

For all the times I’ve been called a ‘baby’ or ‘childish’ by my older siblings, it’s amazing how quickly my eldest brother runs to our uncle with every little thing I say or write. My bitch sister did that, too, as if gathering up the shock and awe of all our aunts and uncles would somehow make her righteous in the matter. Naturally, my uncle gets half the conversation – my rant. Then I receive (as I did this morning), an email from my uncle that pussyfoots around anything that actually matters and only explains whatever my uncle feels needs explaining. Today it’s political views in the US. Almost a word-for-word reply to the message I sent to my oldest brother; which is more than my oldest brother ever bothered to answer with. He ends with “I know you favor the socialists….don’t want to fight…just bounce ideas around a bit.” *sigh* This is the reply I want to send right now:

Uncle D.,  I believe what’s prompted this latest email from you is a message – a private message – I sent my brother, D. This is not the first time a private message I sent to one of my siblings ended up becoming public: I shall never forget nor forgive K’s shameful message, blindly sent to you and my other aunts and uncles to humiliate me. This is a real problem. When I write to someone directly, I am saying what I say to that person and ONLY that person. D has long been an ass politically; he has the temperament of a child throwing a fit saying ‘mine, mine, mine’ with his hard right wing bullshit. I have had to live with that growing up, and I felt it was about time he know how I felt about the ugly rhetoric that falls out his mouth. More than that, uncle….I have never felt my older siblings respected my opinions, my knowledge, nor my experience. I think I understand the dynamics of what’s happening, though that doesn’t make it any easier for me to deal with. What I do not understand is how I can continually be accused of being a baby, acting like a baby, or having a baby’s views, yet it is THEY who continually run to you with every little thing I say or write. If D was so upset by what I wrote, so worried about how I felt, why did he not address me himself? He claims to be an articulate grown up; let him fight his own fights or at LEAST explain himself! You do not need to do it for him. As for D., I noticed that he’s avoided answering the one real question I posed to him in my note. I wanted him to understand that when he spouts off with degrading and nasty comments on any group of people, I tend to stand with those people politically. And D HAS spouted degrading and nasty comments about people; I’ve watched his FB page, and know. I posed to him the question of whether or not he’d line up with a gun to shoot me down if a stand-off like that ever occurred. I wanted to find out if he cared more about his political views or the people he supposedly ‘loved’, because the two seem completely incongruous to me. 

You, uncle, do not need to answer that question for me. You already have, with everything you’ve done. You’ve shown respect for my views even though you don’t agree with me. For that, you have my infinite thanks and equal respect in kind. You’ve helped me, talked to me, and shown me in every way that you care – and I care deeply for you because of it. Please do not let either D nor K bother you with anything I say to them privately; that is between me and my siblings. Behind every word is a long story – and it’s an ongoing story, as I work to sort out my issues. Neither D nor K really know me. They never have. The reasons behind that are three times as long as this message, so I won’t get into them. But take it as a given that I never felt safe enough to be myself with anyone for the first 30 years of my life. I’ve been so afraid of it that I’ve had a difficult time making choices because I didn’t know what I even wanted. I will always be grateful to T for taking me so far away from everything I’m familiar with. Had I continued to live in close proximity to the family, with the yoke of disrespect I felt everyone had for me…well, I can’t say what exactly would have happened, but I can tell you this: it would have been Hell for me. I don’t think I would have ever found myself under those conditions. And I certainly would not have been happy.

I know I cannot tell you to not care about any fighting between me and my siblings. You took up that burden for the family, didn’t you? I find it admirable. I know your health is not wonderful, yet you work to keep connected with everyone. Even me. I wish I could tell you that all is forgiven between me and K or me and D, but I can’t do that with a clear heart. I did it for Mom. I did if for Dad. I want to do it for you, too, but if I do it one more time – if I give in without speaking up just once more – I feel I’ll be giving up forever on myself. I MUST be myself. Perhaps I’m not doing things eloquently or well, and for that I apologize. I apologize, too, for the long buried anger that often finds its way into my words. But I’ve long suspected that, had we not shared DNA and family memories, my siblings and I wouldn’t be friends. If that occurs, it is not on you. It is not on Mom, nor on Dad. It is on the three of us, and our inability to find our way past our shared history.

Teaching an old dog new tricks

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My back is at the stage that I’m fine once I’m up and walking. It’s just the getting up that’s a problem. Takes me twenty or so steps before I can actually straighten up fully. Before then, I’m hobbling around bent over like a hunchback. Nighttime is intermittent pain and sleep.

That pain just drives everything else out if it’s bad enough. It stokes my anger, too. Damned bastard back! I think as it spasms yet again while I try to stand up just to take a pee. Anger is so much more proactive a feeling than sorrow.

Not that the anger sits with me for long. It just comes and goes, stabbing at me in random fashion.

Been thinking a lot about my family. My DNA-brother is trying to be understanding out on FB. Trying, and failing miserably. I feel I can’t trust any sentiment that might once have made me feel like he’s a real human being. He’s so cold. So wrapped up only in his life. So unable to actually CARE for another person. Just when I think he might have changed, he lets loose with something that tells me no, same old same old just with a new coat of paint.

I know the bigger and better part of me needs to see past all that stuff. Hear the pain hidden behind his words.

And there is so much pain in my family.

Normal for me growing up meant stuff like my brother’s reaction to death – which only made him sad because it served to remind him that he, himself, would die someday – was okay. He was fine; no reason not to feel that way. I wasn’t told that was a cold, hard reaction. I was told MY reaction was out of line. That I needed to understand him, not the other way around. Same with my sister: when she had an off day, the family walked on eggshells. The second child in the family dictated everyone’s behavior because goddess! Don’t set her off. Let her have her way. Don’t speak up, don’t defend yourself, don’t cause any more problems.

You know: normal.

Problem is, that wasn’t normal.

Like a caged animal, though, that’s what I was fed. I was the one that was wrong for feeling unloved, unsupported. Their push me-pull me actions were not the problem; everyone did that. Siblings did that. The lying, the back stabbing – all part of being a ‘loving family’.

Don’t get me wrong here. This isn’t a blame-bash session. This is a full understanding coming on me. This is a I get it down to my socks kind of feeling.

No wonder any sign of human kindness blows me away. I never got it from the one source everyone said you always got it from: my family. Or if I did, it would be there one day and snatched away the next, replaced by ridicule and shame, making me even more vulnerable.

They taught me not to trust.

What happens to a puppy you raise when you feed it with one hand and cut it with the other? It grows up into a mad dog, biting the hand that feeds it.

And I know if that happened to me, it happened to my siblings. I know that underneath all my DNA-brother’s bullshit and hateful language lies a lot of pain. That pain lies underneath all I hate about my sister, too. I hear echoes of it in my uncle’s words.

My family is mentally ill. Even the ones that don’t have some built-in chemical imbalance or whatever you want to blame for mental illness.

We were raised in cages. Cages of crazed behavior passed off as normal.

It wasn’t until I began writing out here that I really started to learn about the rainbow variety of mental health. I saw myself in so many people’s words. And I began to learn that my ups and downs weren’t the ‘norm’. Not everyone struggled the way the tribe did, despite the fact I’d been told ad infinitum that my problems were not unique and everybody had to go thru it. Still, it was hard to stop blaming myself. My mother taught me (and was no doubt taught by her mother) that discipline and iron will are the only things that can pull you through life. Just stop thinking that way, she’d say to me so many times. But for me, stopping my circular thoughts was impossible. I was weak for not being able to do it. Weak, on top of everything else. Wasn’t ’til I came out here that I began to acknowledge how strong you’ve got to be to do this.

The door is open. I had a dream as a kid about being in this huge house. A mansion, a castle. So many rooms, but no door leading outside. Only one, hidden in the basement. An old door I’d assumed was locked. But as I touched the doorknob, the door swung open. It had never been locked; it was always open.

Almost forty years on and I feel today like I finally understand that dream. That door – the way out of the madness I was raised in – was always available to me, always open and ready to walk through. I’ve just been too afraid to walk through it.

I feel like one of those rescued dogs you see on tv adverts. Half starved, barely able to stand, blinking against the light because it’s been in the dark for so long.

Now begins the long task of teaching this old dog new tricks.

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Thanks

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I have a jewel, a nugget of warmth and goodness I’m holding close to my chest this morning. This particular goodie came in the form of a few well placed words from my brother. He’s one of those people who rarely say anything that could be written up on a Hallmark card, so when he does it means all the more.

He’s The Tick to my Arthur. He’s the superhero that drags me along with him, covering my ass when needed, sometimes driving me crazy, always believing in me. Even our physiques fit the bill; I’m the pudgy one while he’s bulking up via kick boxing. He’s out there, always on, never afraid, while I hang back yelling ‘Not in the face! Not in the face!’. We’re quite a team. Throughout our many adventures and years of travel together, I’ve often thought he’s been putting up with me because Dad asked him to – while on his death bed. There’s no promise like a promise made to someone while they’re dying, and my brother made that promise to my Dad. Yesterday our conversation turned heavy, as it sometimes does. I cried, and confessed, and got a hug. And then he said the magic words I’m wearing proudly today like a Queen’s cloak:

Without you, this place would just be a bunch of rooms where I put my stuff. You make it a home.

Yep. I make a home for someone else. It’s the little things I do: the sounds I make when I’m here, the jokes I crack, the comradery, the companionship, that helps to make a home for someone I care about.

It’s not just his promise to Dad. It’s ME.

Go on and blow, ill wind in my head. Someone cares about me. Not because of a promise they made, but because of ME. Thank you, I just got the golden ring.

The tears that fall from my eyes this morning are tears of gratitude, not sorrow. My heart is full, and all I have in me is thank you. The fierce lion of loyalty is roaring in my head. No one and nothing will ever EVER make me turn my back on my brother. He is the only person on this planet that has said anything like that to me. And while I have in the past tried to make a home with other people, I’ve never had the strength and support that I do now.

There’s no other word for it. I’m damned lucky.

Somehow, by accepting what’s been given to me I’ve been building a small web of support. Doctors, other bloggers, my teachers..There’s this growing circle of people I can talk to, people I can trust and go to with a problem. It’s still damned small, and still very loose. But. It’s there – and it wasn’t there a year ago. This situation is still so new I tend to forget it exists. Just like learning anything, tho, my mind is remembering to remember it more and more often.

Talking is getting easier. Saying the words out loud is getting easier. Every time I do and DON’T get the response(s) I’m conditioned to, I feel a bit braver. Oh, and the memories of the conditioned responses! I hear very few words; words were always shaped to cut the deepest for any given situation. What I’m remembering are facial contortions and sneering tones of voice. They come like flash photography in my brain; fast stills taken at one time or another and plastered up forever in the book of my memory. They bring shame and guilt. Sometimes I flinch, expecting a physical blow.

Spent a good deal of time reflecting over my feelings about doing voice overs. At the core of the matter I discovered guilt – again. I grew up being told that pursuing anything I enjoyed – music, acting – was a waste of my potential. I was wrong to want to do those things when I had the brains to go and do a ‘real’ job. I should ‘work’. Didn’t matter that I didn’t want to pursue any of the kinds of ‘work’ my parents wanted me to; anytime I pursued what I wanted I got shit. Put downs. Guilt. It wasn’t okay for me to do what I loved doing. That was ‘coasting thru life’. Being an adult was hard. You don’t get to do what you WANT to do. You do what you HAVE to do.

Anyone still surprised I’m so fucking amazed to hear stories about people who grew up with supportive parents?

Speaking of, I’m toying with the idea of writing a letter to the creator of Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane. Telling him how great I think his dramatic portrayal of living through an abusive, narcissistic upbringing is. How poignant I find Meg’s life. How right on he shows the abuse, the continued oblivion to obvious mental health issues. How thoroughly correct he portrays the hypocrisy of the American family in his cartoon film noire. I’d really like to piss that fucker off. Just once, in retaliation for all the shit he spews and gets away with because it’s in cartoon form. Fuck you, Seth. [Disclaimer: Comedy Central has been playing a lot of Family Guy lately, and I’m having a hard time getting away from it.]

Today my goals are simple: support my brother any way I can. There’s stuff to do, like grocery shopping and cooking. Stuff he’d usually take care of. I’m gonna try to step up today and do it for him so he can continue to work on his new music. It’s small in the grand scheme of things, but it’s what I can do. I have no idea what I’m gonna try to make for dinner. It’s been years since I’ve HAD to cook. But I’ve all day to figure it out and do it. Oh, I could go all simple with soup and sandwiches and he’d be happy. I want to make an effort. Just to say thanks…

Unwanted Gift

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Merry Xmas and all that. I got an unexpected something in my inbox this morning. A message from my aunt, whom I’ve not spoken/written to since my sister sent out a message to the extended family telling them all I was insane, a drug addict, a liar, a cheat, etc. Haven’t heard from my aunt in at least a year. Now I have a message telling me she heard from my uncle, her brother, that I’ve been feeling depressed (wrote to my uncle last night; have a reply from him, too). Uh. This is my mother’s family. It’s more than a little difficult to not say ‘Oi! It’s your sister’s fault. She was a bitch.’ It’s more than a little difficult to not say anything about my sibling’s blatant problems, or the problems that run in the family line. But, you know. Xmas and all that. No need to bring up bad feelings. I guess.

Wow. Two family members reaching out to me. I’ll sidestep all the possible darker motives they may have, including just catching up on gossip to go and spread to everyone. All those bad things could be true; I have no proof either way. But I don’t want to be a sceptic. I want to believe they actually care, and that’s why they’ve written. My note last night was the first time I think I used ‘depression’ in my language. I didn’t have the guts to say ‘bipolar’ or anything else; didn’t feel they’d understand. But depression? They’d understand that. As long as they don’t have to deal with the day to day grind of it. Long distance depression has it’s advantages – none of those phrases you can’t stand to hear uttered out loud. Worst I have to do is read shit like that.

*sigh* I’ll answer them later. My uncle is a peach; it’s my aunt I’m not sure how to approach. I really felt abandoned by her, shed many tears over not hearing from her for so long. We never wrote each other on a schedule, it was very casual. But we always got back to each other, always kept the conversation going or, if it had lagged too long, began a new conversation as a catch up. That stopped after my sister’s message. I’d written a note to my aunt and then my sister’s tirade came into play. After that, silence. I wrote one short, scared note asking if my aunt had received that message. She replied that yes, she had (as had everyone else) but not to worry, no one thought worse of me for it. Then nothing. No reply to our conversation, no pick up of a new topic. For over a year. Now this. Thinking back on it just reminds me of HOW hurt I was. And not just over the lack of response to my communication, but over the phrase ‘no one thinks worse of you’ like they already thought me such a piece of shit nothing could lower their expectations more.

I want my brother up so I can talk to him about this. He lived it with me: getting the message from my sister, discovering she’d sent blind copies out to the extended family, the long silence from everyone, my hopelessness and depression over losing my connections. Today’s the first day I’m happy his new medication cycle demands he gets up by 9 a.m. to take his first pill. I don’t have to wait ’til noon before he’s up. He always sees things I don’t, always points out something I’ve missed and gives me good advice.

My hands and mind are itching to write a scathing reply. Throw guilt out like I was taught to do so well: I was under the impression that you no longer wanted to talk to me. Despite your words, it seemed you did take what K said about me to heart. It’s been more than a year. Now you tell me that you love me? That’s a bit pat, isn’t it? Maybe it’s Christmas, but we’re not big Christians, so what exactly are you doing? Feeling lonely? Or just gathering new evidence to pass along to my sister? Because I hardly think that bitch has left me alone. I think she seethes a bit every time she see the block I put on her on FB. I think she’s dying to know how badly I’m doing, so she can gloat and feel superior. And I think she’s couched all of that in gentle language, telling you she’s sorry for what she did and she’s really worried about me. That’s all a lie; she’s not sorry and she’s not worried. She wants fuel to feed her hatred of me, and any new news is fuel. I do not want her to know a thing. She doesn’t deserve to know I’m living in Rotterdam, or that I changed my hair color, or that I’m suffering from depression. Tell her I’m dead. She’s dead to me. Or if she isn’t, she should be.

Some days seem made to set you up for a crappy time. I’m betting today is one of those days. So I’m flipping the bird to the world and taking an Ativan chip NOW. There. Get down there with coffee and joint smoke. Do your fucking job. I am not. gonna allow myself. to get. wound. up.

This gift was NOT on my list to Santa. He must be getting senile to think I’d open this with anything other than suspicion.

Man! I’d take that unwanted gift of socks over this any day of the week. Socks are useful, even if they do feel like an anti-climax when you take the wrapping off. This is just ookey – a little icky with a lot of ‘ooo’ like you got punched in the stomach.  And no return queue for this. I don’t have a receipt.

A lot of nothing to say

Spoke to my bro yesterday, and told him everything I felt about my new room filled with old things. Admitted that I may need to put things away or even get rid of them. Admitted my terrible guilt for spending so much money dragging things so far and then saying I may not want them.

You know, my brother can drive me straight up a wall. His mania can cause him to interrupt me so much I feel like I don’t get to speak a full sentence for weeks on end. He looks over my shoulder as I write at my computer no matter how many times I tell him not to. He still says a lot of trigger words around me. And when his mind is made up he can be a real ass carrying through with his intentions.

All that being said, yesterday was a good example of why I rely on him so much. I felt guilty and afraid telling him my new decision about the stuff in my room. Other members of my family would have used this to berate me more, rub my guilt in to make sure they’ve got something to keep me down and under their control. Not my bro. He looked at me with incredulity when I admitted to my guilt and shame and said ‘Of COURSE you might have to get rid of some of that! I expected it. Don’t worry about it. I’ll help you anyway I can.’ Thank you, goddess, for my brother. I have no idea why I am so lucky. I really don’t. In a few quick words he can relieve my guilt and make things ok. He’s been taking care of me for decades now, putting up with my non-stop crying, my threats to kill myself, my horrible rages. He’s helped me pick up the pieces after I fall apart. I feel like I can’t do this without him, which I don’t like – I want to be able to stand alone and do it all by myself. But I AM glad for his help ’cause boy, do I need it some days.

Decided to take some days off and let my tendonitis ease. I suppose it wasn’t so much a decision I made as it was a decision made for me by my body. Anyway, no lifting for several days now. I’m back in the pool tomorrow, which means I’ll be flying high for a few days with extra energy. Good thing I have just the project for THAT energy.

Music. Very close to recording my next piece. The first two I’ve been working on have been chill out songs. Both are downtempo, relaxing, meditative. The current one is 85 bpm and designed to be hypnotic. I’m very close because I’m having a difficult time hearing to produce – I just zone off and get glassy-eyed. VERY effective. Added a punch track yesterday to isolate an effect I wanted in just ONE area. Lush! So lush I added it to one other area ’cause DAMN! that sound is nice and should be heard more than just once. Fingers crossed I’ll turn on today, do my high and low volume listens, and give the go ahead for final recording. Then one more notch in my musical belt. On to the next 8 songs!

Ended up with my ass in my chair yesterday afternoon, flipping through available films on my smart tv system. Music is a wonderful distraction right now, but as I’ve mentioned I can only produce for about 4 hours max a day. Then I’ve GOT to shut down and rest my ears no matter how much I want to keep going. Ergo, ass in chair by 3:30p.m.

Ended up having my eye caught by something called Melancholia by director Lars von Trier.

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Now, all the descriptions for films come up in my system in Dutch. I can read somewhere between 30-60% of the content, depending on the words used in the write-up. I get the gist of it, in other words, but lose the nuances. If I’d seen the English write up of the film I may never have hit play.

Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide with Earth.

Well, yeeeeeeees, that’s pretty much the story in a nutshell. No, it doesn’t tell you anything important about the film. It doesn’t tell you this is an art film. It doesn’t tell you about the minimalistic dialogue. It doesn’t tell you about the visual sequences over music. I doesn’t tell you this is one of the most brilliant film portrayals of depression I’ve ever seen. EVER!

Kirsten Dunst took the lead role (please suspend any Mary Jane references; she did well in this). She is DROWNING in depression and while her family tries to cope, they do it in all the wrong ways. They buy her nice things and tell her she should be happy now. They marry her off in the hopes it will cheer her up. They yell at her, berate her, and alienate her all because she can’t snap out of it. It is PERFECT in showing the imperfections surrounding depression. Dunst acts out: she leaves her new husband on their wedding night to fuck a stranger, she first won’t leave the bathtub and then later she won’t get in to clean herself, etc. It’s a masterpiece, that’s the word: MASTERPIECE. Everything from the sparse dialogue, the subdued lighting, the music interludes, the dream sequences – all of it works in concert to present a picture of depression that is absolutely 100% completely real. I sat in complete enthrallment during it. Then the end came.

Oh, the end! The end that turns absolutely everything I’d seen in the film completely on it’s head. Because, you see, I didn’t catch the whole sic-fi angle when I read the Dutch. This new planet careening in was at first a huh? then an oOh! then a myGOD! Because Dunst isn’t just depressed in this film. She’s a modern day Cassandra. The planet careening towards earth hits us, which ends everything including the film. Dunst’s character has known this all along. Her depression has been stemming from the fact that she’s grown up knowing this would happen.

No, this is NOT a film you should watch if you’re currently in depression. I think the portrayal is far too real, and would only serve to reinforce what’s going on with you. But wow, just WOW! I can’t wait to view it again with new eyes. To see the dream sequences over again, with deeper understanding. Great film.

After seeing such a mind blower, it was doubly hard to watch the film in the evening; my brother’s choice, and it was one of the Librarian series. I don’t rightly remember which one, and somehow I DOUBT it makes much difference. Directed by Jonathan Frakes. BAD Jonathan Frakes. Shame on you for even picking this sucky project up. Shame on whoever cut and pasted the script together, too. I took refuge from boredom by poking fun at it and naming every OTHER film each scene had been stolen from. They pretty much picked the bones of Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom, with a good bit of The Mummy and Harry Potter thrown in. Some notable Scooby-Doo moments, as well. Bad film, bad acting, bad script, bad directing. Bad Librarian series! And bad Hollywood for doing shit like that, for giving people actual MONEY to do something that crappy. A real let down in every sense. I can deal with films that are pure entertainment. I LIKE a lot of them. This didn’t even qualify for entertainment. It stunk up the whole living room with it’s broadcast.

Aha! Thanks, computer that can multi task. Lars von Trier did Dancer in the Dark as well, which was also brilliant. Must note his other work and look them up.

I’m getting bored already. Antsy. What the fuck am I doing talking about fucking films? Do I think I’m some fucking film critic now? Geez, I get pedantic. So today I’ll do what I’ve been saying I’ll do but haven’t followed through with: I’m shutting off and plugging into my music for a spin through my songs with my visualizer on. Smokin’ a joint. Chillin’. Groovin’ to my tunes. Tunin’ out. Lovin’ it.