Just. be. me.

Why don’t you leave your notebook at home and just treat this as a social outing?

I got that freaky funny laugh, the one that comes from nerves and uncomfortableness. And I thought, yeah, why aren’t I treating this as a social outing? That was 6 pm last night, as I was walking out the door for our theatre group meeting.

I left my script and notebook at home. Downtown to a student bar that had hundreds of beers. Couldn’t resist a raspberry beer…two, actually. Seven of us made the meeting, and it was, as my brother had pointed out to me with his question, more of a social gathering than a work gathering. The night was warm, the beer was good, and the conversation lively.

Difficult to remember most of these actors hadn’t read the full script. They didn’t attend my first read through. Many thought their characters were gonna live thru the play; I had to correct them: everybody dies. If you survive an act, it’s just so you can die in another act. How do I die? I went around the table, telling them each what happens: you set yourself on fire, you get strangled, you’re shot, etc. And oh! The shining eyes that greeted me upon that gruesome news! Never believe an actor who tells you they don’t want to do a death scene. We all want that chance.

Tonight the director and I are meeting with a few people for the last role. Two, maybe three should show up. I very hesitantly put it out there that if we found someone spectacular for my role I’d step down. The director quickly said: No way. The subtext in that, I felt, was that no one can do that role like I can. Maybe he meant he didn’t want to go thru the whole audition thing again, but that’s the way I’m taking it. I’m more than pleased by that.

Much of the work conversation was kept to a minimum. Instead, we did the sort of thing that generally happens when a group of people don’t know each other well. Questions like Do you have children? or What do you do as a living? came up. I was surprised (a bit) at the drug discussion. Even tho marijuana is okay here, it’s still a little taboo. Everybody’s used it, or at least tried it. But most Dutch people don’t partake. Last night I heard about ‘the time I got really stoned’ or ‘when I had a few extra pills and rode the day out on them’. I’m still rather hesitant on admitting I’m a stoner, but did own up to smoking marijuana on a regular basis. I just…I know what most people think of regular smokers. You’ll see their mimicry of stoners all the time. That wasted, hungry, not really moving or thinking version. The ‘Duh-uh Dude’: catatonic and unfocused. That isn’t me, and I don’t want people to think it is. I haven’t yet told them they’ve all been seeing me high this whole time. I haven’t once gone to a theatre group meeting, audition, or rehearsal without first toking. I wrote the play stoned. I got my degrees stoned. And yes, I’m learning Dutch stoned. Pretty obvious I don’t go to that stereotypical state. But despite the culture here, that stereotype still lives on. I don’t know. Maybe I’m one in a million in that respect. I just chalk it up to my artistic temperament. All the greats had something: heroin, cocaine, alcohol. It’s too late in my life to be worried about it. But I still find myself reluctant to own it due to what I perceive as this bias against it. Maybe that’s just me, and the scarring I received about it during my lifetime.

Made a few age jokes about myself last night. Find myself doing that more and more. Conversation zoomed off into games played as kids: remember this console or that game? I sat there, thinking about my first video game: Pong. Yep, you heard me. Pong. Two paddles and ball, back and forth. And later: gee, I had to use a typewriter back when I was in school. My reply: when I was a kid, we had to use a chisel and hammer on stone. I got the laughs I wanted. But I know myself well. I’m using my humor to cover up my uncomfortableness.

It’s weird and odd being the oldest person at a table. I’m sure it’s a bit of a lark if you’re dealing with children, but when it’s adults… Then it’s another matter. Especially when I don’t feel like I’m the oldest adult sitting there. In fact, it makes me feel more child-like and immature than ever. No, I don’t own a home. No, I don’t have children. No, I don’t have investments or a large bank account, nor do I go on holidays every year. I don’t even have a concept of ‘retiring’. My ‘retiring’ is just death.

Also found myself joking about Dr. T. Used the old ‘my shrink’ a couple of times. That’s me getting used to owning up to it.

And I caught the director looking at me a couple of times, as if he saw beyond my jokes and knew what was going on. I wouldn’t be surprised at that; he’s perceptive. He approaches scripts looking at the psychological aspects of the play (and yes, another actor made a comment about what my mind must be like to write something like this).

I’m finding something in this group I didn’t expect: acceptance. Their acceptance is making it easier for me to accept myself. To own up to my depression, my mental health treatment, my problems without shame.

This is a whole new level of social interaction for me. No pretense, no feeling like I have to go along with the group just to have friends. I’m finding how I can be me without coming off overly aggressive or angry.

I can just. be. me.

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On the Construction of Reality in a Psychoactive Realm

Be careful what you write.

We all make our own reality. We weave it every day: this is my life. I get up, have breakfast, go to work, lunch, come home, eat dinner. This is my family. These are my friends. This is my reality.

And we’ve all been told about manifesting our fears and thoughts: think something bad will happen, and eventually it will. Continually tell yourself you’re a horrible person and you’ll find yourself doing horrible things.

We can think ourselves ill or healthy (tho sadly there are fewer in the latter category than the former). We can move positively into the world or negatively. If you’ve got your eyes open, sooner or later you figure out that you’ve created your life. Yes, bad things happened to you. But this is it: your story. How you write it is up to you.

Now, writing is tricky. Not just the mechanical side of it – tho there are loads of writers out there who prove with every word that the mechanical side of it is no walk in the park. But if we can manifest things into our lives (good or bad) through our thoughts, why should we think it any different with writing?

In other words, can we create something simply by giving it enough attention?

Think on the Slender Man. Two girls lure another girl into the woods, stab her 19 times, to impress the Slender Man.

And what of our Gods? Do we not create these entities at least in part by our thoughts, our attention?

Not a new question, I know. But as a writer, I find it a valid one.

I have begun writing about the grove. Or, trying to. It’s the first bit of writing other than this blog or my homework that I’ve attempted in quite some time. Naturally, I’m incorporating my experience in the story. Honestly, it’s creeping me out. It creeps me out to think about it, partially because the damn thing is located near where we have rehearsals. That’s how I ran into it in the first place. And I’m going down there a lot lately. So I have to pass it by. I’ve not seen it cut down again; it remains the grove. That makes sense; if the city actually came thru and cut it down to the ground, if I actually saw it and just didn’t hallucinate the entire thing, then it wouldn’t be on their rotation for several years. It might get on a planting rotation. How I’d like to see that! A crew down there, all ready to clear away the last of the rubbish and begin new planting only to find it all grown up, trees ten feet tall and fully formed. Anyway. I am thinking of it, and what lives down it, and growing more and more uncomfortable with each thought.

But I don’t want to stop writing the story.

Oh, I know! This is the horror story set-up about the writer who couldn’t leave well enough alone, right? This is where the entire audience sits up and says ‘How stupid! I’d never do that!’ Yeah. I’d be right there with you in the cinema.

But this isn’t a cinema. There isn’t any swelling music foreshadowing creepiness. This is hard, cold reality, cemented in with passing cars and tweeting birds. I’m telling myself I’m just spooking myself out. Telling myself that even tho I write it, I don’t ever have to go down it again. Telling myself that even in my mythology, it can only get you if you go down its lair. And I’m not going down there again.

Did I just hear a groan? Was that as predictable as ‘I’ll be right back’?

I guess if I want to write effective horror, I feel like I’ve got to buy it. I’ve got to be afraid to write it.

Trouble is, I didn’t start this. It started the story. I just went down there, wanting to get off the main path and smoke a joint in private. Yeah. That’s as stupid as ‘I’ll be right back’. For sure. Shoulda heard that creepy music at that point. Problem is, once you’re on that path, once you’re in the grove, it’s difficult to get out of. The path gets longer. And it’s much, much darker under that canopy than it should be.

I feel lucky it let me go.

And yeah, maybe it let me go so I would write about it.

Have I stepped on the crazy train yet?

…One thing is for certain: it’s a good story. If I’m this creeped out about it, it’s good. Aiming for a simple podcast script, 20-30 minutes. Have a good framework thought out; just found it there sitting in my brain. Began some puttering, but I know I’ll can it and start again. I started at the beginning, and that’s not where I want to start. I want to start at the end.

Ma-a-a-aybe this time I should leave someone alive. Just to be safe.

I wonder if anyone ever uses it. I’ve never seen anyone on that path. Not that I’m in the area that often, but it is near the Uni and you’d think with all the foot traffic I would have seen someone down that path in the dozens of visits I’ve made… Maybe I should stake it out for an afternoon. Sit across the road at the bus stop and watch it.

And I do want to be careful in writing this. Because if there is something down there, and if it did let me go just so I could write about it, well… That’s not the kind of client you want to piss off with bad work, is it? Do not want to think about that customer complaint session.

…Yes. Be careful what you write.

You get used to it

Living in Rotterdam offers some strange sites. I once watched a guy walk down the sidewalk in his bathroom robe (a plaid affair) and slippers. In the unexpected summer heat and humidity we’re currently having, you’d probably be surprised to see so many people kitted out in full downy jackets with their hoods up. For me, it’s become the norm. All I see is immigrant. That’s not a diss, just a recognition that they’re used to temps much hotter than this. But it’s weird. White people in shorts and t’s, black people in down jackets zipped up.

It all comes down to what you’re used to.

I’ve become used to sitting around on my ass all day long. Sleeping during the afternoon, doing a bit around the house, resting. It’s high time to shake up ‘what I’m used to’.

Got out for a walk yesterday. Made it out before the heat really took hold. The area I live in is so un-city, so un-urban, if I told you all I encountered you might not believe I live in Rotterdam. Within a 10 minute walk from my front door there’s a stable with horses. Five minutes gets you to pastureland with grazing sheep and cows. I have woods to walk thru, lakes to bathe my feet in. Obviously, I don’t live downtown – and I’m glad of that. I like the energy downtown, sometimes think it would be cool to have an apartment somewhere in one of those high-rises, but I prefer it out here (even if that does make it difficult to head out on a late night adventure due to public transport shutting down). I can make it on my own two feet to a quiet place. Somewhere I can let my mind relax. And for a brief moment or two, I can pretend I’m not in a city. I like that.

But yesterday, the only thing relaxing my mind seemed to bring was disdain. I came home and popped in some horror. Been going thru them, watching, learning. What scares you? Sadly, not the films I put in yesterday. Ho, hum. Could drive a huge lorry thru their plot holes. And now that I’m really dissecting the genre, you gotta do better than that. Plus, fine that you can create scary scenes with cuts and edits, killers leaping out from spots where someone must have seen them, even tho no one in the film seems to use their bloody eyes, but what about on stage? And if you can’t create horror and fear on stage, how scary IS your story?

Things to avoid: human killers. Obvious dumb shit. Stuff no one in their right minds would do. Oh, a 10 year old hears a weird whispery voice coming from their heating grate and thinks ‘yeah, I’ll let whatever that is out’? Seriously? You want me to swallow that one? No. Get your story straight. And your bleeding mythology. It isn’t scary to just throw things in randomly and hope someone gets triggered by it. Other things to avoid: explanations. Religious overtones. Any reasoning.

Fear is fear. The power of fear is what happens to us. Explain it, give it a tangible source to fight, and fear becomes less effective.

I will never explain my monsters, other than to say they’re unexplainable. Beyond this world.

Dream a little dream. Or, a big dream. How cool would it be to get government funding to develop and open a theatre solely built for horror productions? Trap doors, wires strong enough to hang stuff on, special sets. Answer: uber cool. I’d bloody well love it. And considering any horror story – stage or screen – relies on unexpected sounds, it feels like a ready made thing for my bro to get involved in, too. He’s even got experience building haunted houses for Halloween. And he’s damned handy with tools.

…Yeah, that’s a big dream. Still… It would be cool.

That might be the only cool thought I have for today. Forecast: temps near 30C and high humidity. Possible plans: head downtown to a Vegan food and drink fest. Meh. The idea of showing my lily white legs in public is less than appealing. My arms tan. My face will even pick up some color. But my legs? It’s like their bleached. Permanently. And then there’s my problems with walking in shorts: my thighs are fat enough they rub together. Sweat and cause problems. So I try to not let that happen, and then I walk weird. Oh, I could wear pants. And if I go, I probably will. Which means my legs won’t get sun again, and they’ll remain lily white… See my problem? That’s not even mentioning my anxiety over my cellulite. Oh, I’ve seen worse, and every time I see worse I think ‘if she can show that, I can show mine’ but when it comes down to it…When it comes down to it, I’m ashamed of my flaws even if they’re not that noticeable. It’s hard to break out of hiding once you’ve put yourself in there.

Hiding has its downside. You avoid people, so you don’t have any friends. You avoid public spots, so you feel a bit trapped and in a rut. On the other hand, you began hiding for a reason: you were afraid. You got hurt, and retreated into yourself. And just like anything else, you got used to hiding. You took the bad parts of it – friendlessness and isolation – because you were at least safe. You didn’t face whatever it was that drove you there in the first place. And that part of you that adapts, that tries to go on no matter what the circumstances, that part accepted the limitations of your new life. It became your norm.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Moving out of your current comfort zone is like beginning anything else: the first step is the toughest. But once you’re out there, once you’re doing it, you adapt.

You get used to it.

Something

Right. Let’s just do this.

I am terrified of becoming a bag woman. A homeless bum on the street. A mad woman who never showers, who trundles around behind a shopping cart full of her ‘stuff’ and mumbles perpetually about ‘them’.

I have no savings. No job. No income. I am totally financially dependent, and at least 50% physically dependent on help.

This is the truth.

… … … And it’s a hard truth to own.

I tell myself my artistic endeavors will one day pay off. That even Van Gogh lived in obscurity and complete dependence on his brother. I assure myself my value is not dependent on how many slips of paper I can entice people to throw my way.

But sometimes I just wonder if I’m kidding myself.

And I wonder, on the whole, what difference it makes. What difference does it really make if I die alone and in the street? Death is death, and once you’ve seen it up close you know that as fact. It really doesn’t matter who’s there or what the circumstances are. Death is a completely solitary experience. And it comes for you no matter what.

Still. I am afraid of the struggle. Everything in life is a struggle. Getting out the birth canal is a struggle. Taking that first breath of air is a struggle. Learning to walk, going to school, loving, hating – it’s all difficult. Aging and death are no different. And despite most of us having to go thru each of these experiences at some point, we fail to adequately convey to others what it’s like. Worse still, if we experienced disregard and belittling of our own pain and struggles, we’re more likely to react with those hated behaviors towards others.

I do that. I find myself often comparing the pain of others to my own. Finding their side lacking, complaining, overly dramatic. I attach all those hated words I was told as a child. Keep telling myself to stop that. Hear what the other people are saying: they’ve had enough. It doesn’t matter if I think I could ‘take more’ in their situation or not. This person, in this circumstance, says they can’t do it. Drop all that other shit and hear that. It all happens rather quickly, and I get to understanding very fast, but…I am ashamed of my first thoughts. They are mean and nasty, and they tell me that part of me hasn’t healed yet.

I don’t want to be mean or nasty. And I don’t want to be afraid. …Do you think the state would give me a lobotomy if I had to become a homeless person? I always imagined I’d be happier with one.

Gods, I’m fucking morbid. The sun is shining, it’s a bloody holiday, and I’m thinking such happy fucking thoughts. Yeah. Well. The whole nihilist movement had to come from somewhere, right? Part of me feels I should just embrace this inner goth. The girl who always kills everyone in her stories. Part of me wants sunshine and rainbows. The two fight. Sometimes one wins for a while: I wear black continually, or swap suddenly to color. And the goth girl hates the sunshine and rainbows girl; she thinks S&R girl is flighty and silly. S&R girl doesn’t hate goth girl, but she does think she’s an awful sourpuss and should just get off her ‘life is shit’ shtick. No matter how much I try, I can’t get these two to cooperate. They are too separate. Goth girl can’t understand how S&R girl can be so damned happy when there’s so much crap in the world. S&R girl doesn’t want to listen to goth girl because she knows goth girl is right about an awful lot but that doesn’t matter; S&R girl wants to play and laugh.

Is this normal? Or is this something I should tell Dr. T because it points to some other problem?

Get up, get out, get some fresh air. You don’t have to walk far or anywhere in particular, but get your brain out of this bleeding closet for a bit today! Listen to yourself!

Fuck.

Why do I keep feeling sadder and sadder? I felt good there, for a few days, on the increased medication. Now I’m feeling worse. More anxious. More fearful. More sad. Just shit coming up? Yeah, we got notice of another rental increase and no, it wasn’t welcome and brought a discussion of needing to move. And I really don’t want to move. But that was just discussion, batting around possible ideas to keep in mind for the next few years. It wasn’t pack your stuff up and get out now.

…Okay. You can ask why from now ’til forever. You know that. Just deal with what you’ve got in front of you today. Unhappy? Get some fresh air. Stretch your legs. Play some games, watch a good film. Talk to your brother. Make sure to take your pill on time. You don’t have to run from this. You can move forward without hysterics. Without anger or meanness. Sure, you’re sad. It’s okay to be sad. You’ve a lot to be sad about. Know that, accept that.

Or, darling girl, keep it in mind. You haven’t learned to accept this yet, so let’s not heap a bunch of stuff on our own heads that we can use to shame us in the future. What you have learned to do is to use it effectively. You’ve woven it into your writing. So the answer seems obvious, doesn’t it? Just begin. Anywhere. Wrap your fear and sorrow up into a scene. See it, feel it, write it. Find out where it leads you. Wherever it takes you, it won’t be here.

That’s something.

The Goddess within

Girls’ Night. I find it much easier to be a girl when my brother isn’t around. That’s a truth. And last night, I wallowed.

Olive oil on my hair to condition it, moisturizing masque on my face, hot shower ready to clean everything off, and nail paraphernalia out and ready for use. I am clean, my hair is far less frizzy, my face is smooth and soft, and my nails are trimmed and brightly shining. I felt good doing all that for myself. I feel good with the results.

Heard about the long-awaited auditions. The director said he’ll be using this next week’s holiday time to choose text and set a date. I told him about my film co-star and asked for some lead time for her; she’ll need it if she’s going to make auditions. Cool. We’re on the same page. And I got a message out to my film posse, letting them know auditions will be called in a few weeks and I’d love to have them involved somehow or at least come to the production. Yea! Good on me for reaching out, even tho I know they’re all busy with their internships. Usually I just discount that type of stuff, figuring they’re too busy anyway so why ask. That’s a mistake; let people decide for themselves if they’re too busy or not. And the film director wants to read the script (I told him this was the the story I’d mentioned months back), so I’m hoping that my life will unfold gently in this order: theatre production, film brain storming, film work, marketing, larger theatre productions, screenings, awards. One can hope, right?

I am Dutch obsessed. Can’t stop with the language. After taking care of myself last night, I ended up in my chair with the tv on and my homework propped up on my lap. I find myself excited by the work. Made notes, outlined, looked up some words, and sat there pondering the correct perfect tense form of a few new verbs. The film I had on ended and I noticed it was almost 10 p.m., my traditional get ready for bed and go read before sleep time. Really? Off to feed my brain more Dutch via Roald Dahl. That voice that reads aloud in my head is picking up speed, discovering the natural phrase breaks. I am stumbling less and reading faster. Gobbling up the words.

Took yesterday off from the gym. Still in build up phase, and that means gentle, gentle, gentle – whether or not I like that approach. Building back strength is a slow and irritating process for me. But I’ve learned – the hard way. Just to remind myself: torn ligaments, torn cartilage in the knees, back injuries, wrist injuries, shoulder injuries. We want none of that.

…*sigh* I honestly don’t know if taking all this on is a good idea. “All this” being the theatre production, the film push, the language, the self care. I’m scared of what it might mean for me. I’ve run on that obsessed mania so many times! Telling myself I’ve got support in my bro (a constant) and my doc. It’s okay to try this. Everyone’s happy that I’m taking better care of myself. Everyone is excited about my script and the production. I just…I don’t want to burn out and let everyone down. Again. I don’t want to overload. It’s a real stressor for me. So I’m trying to let myself feel happy without that restless get up and do something mania. That’s difficult. I said a few days ago I find patience to be passive. I also find happiness to be active. How can people just sit around when they’re excited or happy? How can you, as adults, just drop that and go about your life without any repercussion? I am more child-like. The excitement hangs on me forever. I obsess about it, wind myself up, can’t stop thinking or moving because of it. Usually I just have to burn it out of me one way or the other. Which then leads to my overload and breakdown. Obviously, I’ve tried this before. I know my pattern.

Self-care is the answer. I know that. Valuing myself enough to really understand – fully – that I can do nothing for anyone if I’m not taking care of myself. Part of that is letting go. Accepting help from others. Part of that is saying no. Putting myself first. Two sides of the same coin, really.

Ach! Well, I also said a few days ago that beginnings were difficult. And here I am, right in the muck of it. I now have to look at this coin I hold – my self worth, something I’ve seen for decades as a plug nickel – as titanium. I hate gold, so forget that analogy. It is valuable. I am valuable. My skills, knowledge, and talents are valuable.

See the obvious, woman! This play production could not happen without your skills as a writer. The film group would not have grown so close without you there to be the rallying point on set. It is your warmth that draws people to you, your talent that people seek out. You have evidence of your value all around you. Look up and acknowledge it! See what you can do without even trying.

Trying doesn’t have to upset your apple cart. Trying means being a little more patient with your listening skills. Trying means making sure you’ve got enough time to loll about and do the nothing stuff you find so vital to your head. Trying means getting regular movement, taking your pills, seeing the doctors.

You don’t have to rebuild Rome in a day. Just…wander carefully thru the ruins. Watch your step.

And always, darling girl, respect the altar. You know where it lies and you know what it wants. You know what she wants.

The Goddess within.

High Noon

3:15. Some people feel noon is the day’s midpoint. I disagree. Midpoint sits at 3:15 (afternoon or early morning, doesn’t matter; it’s always midpoint of the day or night). I think it’s because of all those years of waking up precisely at 3:15 a.m. What was it? 10 years? More? As a kid, I was convinced it was because 3:15 a.m. would be my time of death. I still could be right.

Today’s 3:15 is p.m., which rarely gives me the kind of problem that its a.m. partner does. However, this 3:15 revolves around my appointment with Dr. T. I would prefer to see him in the morning. I prefer to do most everything in the mornings; my head is clearer and I’m far less tired. But I’ll deal. The day promises to be warm and pleasant, so I plan on taking my time and walking over there. I’d like to shower before I go, but alas! That decision lies on whether or not the building has hot water more than my mood.

Culled thru my own writing, made notes. Sleep issues, sweaty hands, upset tummy, performances, ups and downs. I’m clear, and won’t make the mistake of saying everything’s okay just because I slept decently last night or the majority of my immediate stressors are done with for now. I do that. How are you? I answer in the moment: Fine. Okay. Well. The better question would be: How have you been since I last saw you? That would prompt the correct response in me. But if I nitpick over such things, I’m told I’m being too literal. I’ve learned, through time, to just jump ahead and interpret what people say to me rather than listen to their actual words. But then that gets me into trouble, too. I didn’t mean that or You’re twisting my meaning is said, and once again I am wrong. Why am I the problem here? Aren’t I responding correctly, and it’s all you poor communicators who are lacking in this situation?

Geez Louise!

My bro had band practice last night, so I was left alone for the evening. Ran DVDs on the tv and watched YouTube vids at the same time. Had to; doing only one of those two things wasn’t enough to keep me settled. Both at the same time kept me occupied. Slowed myself down enough to go and read for an hour before sleep.

Mild headaches lately, but it’s Spring. Allergy season. I’m not shocked nor surprised. And my head’s been stuffed up.

I’ve given up on trying to control my food habits. I used to be very regimented: oatmeal every day, right after or with my coffee. Felt pretty self-righteous about that, knowing the health benefits. Now…I haven’t had oatmeal for months. Can’t stand the stuff. Even thinking about it makes my stomach clench. And I find I do not want breakfast food for breakfast. My body craves savory food first thing. I’ve taken to eating rice and Greek tomato sauce with feta and olives. It’s so much better on my stomach! Everything about it is better for me right now. It isn’t ’til around 8 p.m. that I crave breakfast cereal. Then I have a big bowl, watching tv, crunching away and drinking up the excess milk. Cannot get my dad out of my head, who noted this food behavior in me as a young woman (I did it throughout my 20s, flipping around breakfast and dinner meals). He, of course, complained about it. I’m just going with it, and the father in my head be damned. It is my control, my freedom, my body – and this is what it wants. My body knows what it needs; the first time I came down with shingles, I craved licorice – a natural healer.

…Not sure if the last few weeks have been a good test ground for this medication. I’ve had lots of excitement. Been wound up over the good things that have happened. On the other hand, it’s the good things that get me into trouble. I’m used to being dumped on. I’m used to hating myself. I’m used to all that negativity. I know how to handle it. Be nice to me, give me a compliment, and watch me fritz out. It’s my weakness, and it’s what I need to work on. So maybe, all in all, it’s not a bad thing. Here it is, and this is small! I’ll be in up mode all year long with the production. Yep. This is it, Dr. T. And I’m doing everything I can to keep a lid on it. Sleep problems. Sweaty hands. Headaches. Strung out feelings. Weird dreams. Anger. Circular, repetitive thoughts. Grandiose ideas. It’s all there, under wraps. I learned long ago to not talk about these things. I was cut to the carpet every time I did: you’re being overly dramatic, everyone feels like that, just stop thinking about it, you’re lying, you’re crazy, you have no idea what you’re talking about, you think you’re so special but you’re not! Now, that’s a list I should translate and give to Dr. T. Title it Things my Family Told Me.

*sigh* So much of what I’d like to say I can’t. My Dutch isn’t there, and I can only look up so much ahead of time.

I’m apprehensive about today. Nervous. Nervous about being misunderstood. Nervous about misunderstanding. Fuck. Not helping.

Fine. Walk in there with a page of translated material from Google. Hand it to him. Tell him my brain isn’t working well, and Dutch is difficult for me right now. Give him the physical notes. Make it as easy on myself to communicate what I feel I must.

For the world, it will just be ‘afternoon’.

For me: high noon.

Freak

I was told I had the cutest ‘nose holes’ (nostrils) ever. That is, without a doubt, the strangest compliment I’ve ever had. Admittedly, my nostrils are unique. Each has a tiny notch by the cartilage. It’s natural; always had it. Just like my eye thing: one pupil massively big, the other middle to small sized.

Strange to get compliments on things you think make you into a freak.

…Took a walk outside yesterday. It was too nice to go to the gym, and I wanted fresh air in my lungs. Besides, in a month it will be too hot to walk outside and I’ll be back in the gym to protect myself from UV (cloudy yesterday, early April, and the index still hit 4). Did the shopping, the dishes, and made cookie dough.

Dreamt of icebergs. Huge, city-block sized things in the water: massive and frightening by their sheer size. I was on a boat, sailing past them. I felt no fear that the boat would hit an iceberg, it was just that they were so big and solid and powerful I felt frightened. I have always dreamt of things that were huge and towering over me: monsters, helicopters, tornadoes, icebergs. And in real life, I had the same fear reaction. I remember my Dad once took his boat into the city via the river… The huge cranes and bridges overhead scared me. I don’t know why. Tall buildings don’t frighten me. Natural heights like cliffs don’t frighten me. But bridges, cranes, and lifts (or elevators, if you will), do. Particularly frightening: freight elevators. Terrified of them.

I’ve always supposed that was a control thing. A reaction to what my mother did to me; the abuse, etc. No one will prompt an epiphany in me by noting that I must feel out of control. Duh-uh. I’ve known that for a long time. It’s one of the reasons I take control when and where I can, to help remind myself I’m not just a mote driven by every chaotic wind that batters me here or there. Sadly, my head operates at two levels. While I assure myself I can take and am in control of myself, I am also aware of what happens when we move beyond our ideas of dimension: time collapses. This is where “fate” comes in: there is no time, there is no choice. Our path is already over. I am both alive and dead at the same time. And…I can operate there. It’s not a very happy place, but I get it. The idea doesn’t drive me mad. I am also very aware that once I theoretically step outside of time and our known dimensions, I walk into the multi-verse: that place where every action has it’s equal, where all possible outcomes are played out in ‘bubble’ universes that exist both within and separate from our own. There are connections between these bubbles. Ley lines, if you will. Find the right place, at the right time, and perform the right action with the right words…and you can make the jump. I think we make those jumps all the time. The changes are generally too small to notice: suddenly, you’ve misplaced your keys. Or someone who you used to be on friendly terms with now takes issue with you. Our literature always makes the changes obvious: purple stop lights, flying cars, dinosaurs. That’s silly. That would take a big jump. And while big jumps are possible, they’re not very probable.

Truth: I once witnessed a park moving. It was in Canada. I lived several blocks from a very beautiful park. Walked to it almost every day. Knew every path, every route. Then… One day, it changed. It took longer. I kept expecting to see the park at every turn, but it was further than I’d mapped out. My brother was with me on this occasion, and noted it as well. After that, the park stayed there: further from our place than it originally was. I noted no other changes, but then, that was only in my local ‘burb.

While we’re on big truths… I once – no, more than once, it happened over an extended period of time – saw something impossible. It was in Ireland. One of the places we rented was on a hillside, overlooking a valley. You could see a few cottages dot the far hillside. One in particular always stood out: a pretty pink cottage, all alone in a sea of green. In Ireland, I’d wake up early and go surf the internet by the window overlooking that valley and cottage. And while I waited for the very slow dial-up to connect, I looked across the valley towards that cottage. There was something there. It looked to me like a huge earthworm with a humanoid face. It was wrapped around the cottage sinuously, it’s head up, looking straight at me. I was stunned. Transfixed. Told myself over and over it was in my head, an optical illusion. Then one day I had enough: I went down the hall and woke up my brother. And he saw it, too. So, hallucination? No. Optical illusion? Maybe. But it happened for months, every morning. You’d never see it in the afternoon or evening. Just those mornings. Over and over.

…Right. Now I’m starting to sound like one of those creepy pastas. Thing is, I’m not making it up. I couldn’t dream up some of the shit I’ve experienced.

Which brings me back to…freak. Ghosts sitting on the edge of your bed? Yep. Unexplained dreams that come true? Yep. Contact from the other side? Yep. Knowing things that were impossible to know? Yep. Physical evidence of something outside the norm going on? Yep.

These are things I won’t tell Dr. T. Too concerned he’d see it all as psychotic manifestations or something. It isn’t. I’ve considered it all: what condition I’ve been in, my stress levels, logical explanations. Over time, I’ve even had witnesses to various occurrences.

I’m a freak.

Time travel

There is one thing I am eternally grateful to my computer for: it automatically changes the time twice a year. I cannot even count the number of late or early mornings, my schedule thrown off entirely because, oh yes! It’s that human-created time jump that’s so damned nonsensical. *scoff* Who says we don’t time travel? We do it continually (moving forward) and then twice a year we jump thru artificial worm holes in hour chunks (tho not the entire planet; some chunks stay behind…or ahead…).

Whatever.

…Hmmm. Had to admit to being poor, darling. Poor, poor, poor. Too poor to even afford a metro trip to Den Haag right now poor (that’s less than 8 euro). It’s true. I can ill afford 8 euro right now when things are so tight.

Have yet again heard the ‘you really need to slow down’ speech from my bro. Ah…it’s not really a speech, and it’s not said pettily. It’s a reminder to take it easy because I’m barely on my feet again. It’s a ‘I care about you, so please take care of yourself’. I hear that. And he’s got reason to say it. Took more than 24 hours after the script meeting to begin to settle, begin to be able to draw a real breath in, not a half breath that I can’t quite open myself up to (I’m still working on it). Been having headaches again, too. Blowing them off because they’re ghost headaches – there, then gone, only to return.

Proud of myself. Managed to get downtown for errands yesterday, and squeezed in a trip to the library to return Matilda and find a new Roald Dahl (I picked up The Witches). Came home, did my laundry, took out garbage and recycling. Ran downstairs for groceries, did the dishes. Despite feeling so strung out I managed to get quite a few things done. Still gnashing my teeth at night, still waking up biting on that damned mouth guard.

Have to tackle my homework. Already put in time, but I want to do a bit more. This week’s subject is: politics. I’m not pleased about that because the topic winds me up. My bro suggested a very funny story line, which I might write out, but in the end I decided to give the topic a serious try. I know part of the assignment is to attempt handling a more difficult subject. This is a writing assignment for a teenager, not an eight year old. It’s not easy. I choose a side tangent; the subject of representative systems. I can address it cerebrally, dispassionately. I can’t do that with other political topics. And I’m not upsetting myself unnecessarily.

Still not back at the gym. Bad me. Telling myself I’m doing other things, and I am. I know it isn’t good for me, tho. I know I operate best when my body is at a certain point of fitness. Hm. My problem is I don’t want to build back up to where I was. I want to just go. Ah, yes. This is when I hurt myself. …Well. Walk it back, like it or not. Slow and steady. Get on the cross trainer for 10 minutes if you feel you must, but not 30. Drop back down on the arm weights, but do a few reps. Stretch. Move. I’ll only help myself if I work out the anxiety kinks and tight spots.

Today feels like a good day to start.

Langzaam. Rustig. Much of Dutch society lends itself to a relaxed pace, and for that, I’m grateful. Btw, if you’d say that to a native I don’t think they’d agree. I think most feel their society is quite uptempo and stressful. Comparatively, I find it a cakewalk. No one ever told me to slow down in the states. Just the opposite; they wanted to know how fast I could go. They’d pile on the the pressure, and watch me break. Bosses, lovers, friends…jump to it. The question was never if I’d jump, just how high I’d jump. And I felt I could never jump high enough. Never clear that bar. Here…here, they tell me that bar isn’t set as high as I imagine it. They tell me I’m jumping too high, and they’re worried I’ll hurt myself. Oh, don’t get me wrong. There are capitalists here just as single minded in their pursuit of monetary wealth as they are in the states. There is pressure to have wealth, to own things, etc. Definitely, and I feel it. But there is also an underlying layer of humanism in the culture, and that changes things for me (again, I don’t think most natives would agree with me, but that’s down to experience).

…Finding it difficult to commit right now. Difficult to say ‘yes, I’ll do this and this’ today. I want to get to the gym. I want to get to my homework. Definitely….no. Wrong syntax. I feel I should get to the gym. I feel I should get to my homework. That’s better. I don’t really want to do any of it. Been letting my id run a bit wild lately. Cookies for breakfast? Sure, at least you’re eating. PJs all day? Well, you got up and cleaned the house; that’s okay. Games rather than homework? You’re allowed. Problem is, my behavior adheres closely to Newton’s first law: once I’m ‘at rest’, I find it doubly hard to get moving again. And not moving creates its own set of problems. Ugh.

And it’s an hour later than I keep imagining. Yep. Better correct those antiquated non-digital clocks I’ve got around the house. I used to keep one clock at the old time, just to remind myself that yes, I’ve time travelled, here’s the evidence: a left over timepiece from that other world that’s just an hour off of this one. I found it confusing, because then everyone else jumped back into that old reality and I could never quite remember if the world was on the same time as me or not.

Confusing. Yeah. Well…that’s time travel.

Dr. T and me

My brother was worried. Half an hour before my appointment and I was what he calls ‘ballistic’. Unlike other instances, I didn’t leave super early because the health center I was headed to was so close to the house.

Walked in to the place, looked around, read a reassuring sign near the entrance that said if you have an appointment just take a seat in the waiting room. There was a mother and kid waiting, too, and the kid was playing with a block set. When the towering block the kid made fell over I jumped three inches and flinched (side note: the mother noticed and asked the kid to play more quietly; bless her). I was worried I’d misread the Dutch, that I went to the wrong address. As 10:00 (my appointment time) came and went, my anxiety ramped up. But I held still, and waited. Told myself I’d checked on this dozens of times and there was nothing that would indicate I had to go to a special location, and doctors are always late.

At 10:05 Dr. T entered the waiting room and just said ‘Is someone waiting for Dr. T?’ No calling of my name aloud, for which I was thankful. I was led to the back of the building, far away from the prying eyes of the people sitting in the waiting room. Did the standard ‘I don’t speak Dutch well, but I’ll try’ sentence. Handed him the letter from my GP, took a deep breath, and it began…

For not having been able to prepare anything ahead of time because I felt so sick every time I tried, I did well. Kept calm, listened closely. I knew, kind of, what he’d say. He’d talk about his treatment options, how this wasn’t a quick fix, how we needed to work as a team – and on all of that, I was correct. I told him about the last few months culminating in the tooth extraction. I told him about the headaches, the sleep problems, the food problems, the crying, the suicidal thoughts, and the need to write before I could speak. Then I told him about the mania. The obsession. At one point I got so wound up I stood up from the chair and paced around, mimicking things. He asked about my family’s history with mental health. It’s all undiagnosed, I told him, then said ADHD and depression. Oh! I interrupted myself, I also have a cousin who, when he was 15, grabbed a gun and took his family hostage, but I don’t know what you’d call that (my causal replay of this scene later for my bro sent him into spasms of laughter due to my half innocent/half devilish delivery).

Dr. T took a lot of notes. What I see now is depression. The possibility of bipolar… he scanned through the letter from my GP …no one has monitored this long term, and that’s what I need to do. What you’re describing is called bipolar phase II with hypomanic episodes. We need to approach this slowly. Right now, you’re depressed. You know that and I can see that. So let’s treat the depression first. We’ll get together regularly and monitor you. If you start to become hypomanic, we’ll deal with that at that time, okay?

I nodded. He put me back on Lexapro (or Escitalopram, as they call it here), my old favorite from my time in Ireland. Part of me felt hungry for it, if you can feel hungry for a drug. We made an appointment to see each other in two weeks, and I left with my prescription in hand. Stopped at the pharmacy on the way home and got the script filled. Popped into the store and picked up something to eat.

The pills are smaller than I remember, but then, different manufacturer. And I’m not complaining; I have too many horse pills I need to take already. Did not want to wait, so now noon is my pill time.

The day wore away. I spent most of it under a blanket watching tv. My stomach was still upset, I felt cold and shivery, and things just weren’t right with my body. Dinner came, still no appetite. My brother chided me: you’ve got to eat. Yeah, I know. I ate mechanically, not really wanting it. Worried about how I was going to feel later on when my system started pouring chemicals into my stomach and bowels to digest.

It was around 7 p.m. when I started to feel it. It began as a slight tickle just below my solar plexus, like I had a nymph inside me trying to cheer me up. My brother made a joke, and out it came – a laugh so long and hard I had to stop it midway because I really couldn’t catch my breath. And I kept laughing like that, deep and long, throughout the night. It’s the drug kicking in, I said. I know docs would poo-poo that. Tell me it takes at least 24 hours to feel it. Yeah, yeah. I know my body. It was the drug. I sat there, enjoying the tv but mostly enjoying the feeling of my body relaxing. I could tell my stomach and bowels were settling and unwinding. I could feel the weight on my chest begin to lift. I even found I had more of an appetite, and had a bowl of cereal.

This morning: nine hours of good sleep. No bedcovers thrown off, no pillows scrunched up or on the floor. Just nine good hours and a gentle coming to. No tears, no anger, just slowly waking up. My bowels are almost back to normal, so says my toilet bowl (can’t tell you how good THAT feels). I’ve a slight headache, but I’m pulling back on caffeine right now, so that’s not unexpected. I can do things today. Really get something done because I don’t feel so damned sick.

That’s good. I feel like I was listened to. I was heard (really heard, not someone saying “I hear you” which just irritates the fuck out of me). I feel like he saw me, saw I was suffering, and like any good doctor should, set about doing his best to alleviate my suffering. He’ll monitor me; I’m safe in doing this. And hey! I’ll finally be able to find out of this massive influx of energy is normal or not. Had to tell him I don’t know if I know what normal feels like.

But we’ll figure it out. The two of us: Dr. T and me.

No one can tell I’m crying when I walk in the rain

It’s 5 a.m. and no huge surprise that I can’t sleep.

In less than 5 hours I’m meeting someone who will probably be a part of my medical team for many years to come. The only way I’ve been able to look at it is that it’s like my RA. It’s incurable, I’ll never be able to stop treating it, never be able to stop seeing doctors about it, and I’ll just have to live with it and all the new complications it brings.

Keep thinking about people. The Dutch just don’t lose it like Americans, so it’s been a while since I’ve been treated to a public display that makes me think ‘wow, they let you loose from that straitjacket a little early’, but I see it all the time on tv. How do they let these people walk around? Why hasn’t it been universally recognized that they’ve got some real issues going and it would better to just deal with them? But, no. The absurd is commonplace now. This unhinged behavior has now come under the mantle of ‘free speech’ and allows everything from outright hate, bigotry and chauvinism to total narcissism. We feed the id, stuffing it with everything possible in order to avoid thinking about how fucking miserable we all are and how shitty life really is. I realize the only difference between them and me is that I recognize I’m miserable, but then, I’ve been asking for a lobotomy in one manner or another since I was 10.

Maybe that’s all mental un-health is. Recognizing how miserable you are. It sure doesn’t hang off of actual behavior unless you go on some killing spree. It sure doesn’t go off social ‘norms’ because they’re always changing and the people who don’t adhere to them aren’t just carted away. There’s no mentally healthy person on this planet to point to as an example. Even the doctor I’m going to see this morning has his issues and problems. He probably sees a shrink on his own; usually, that’s part of the job. Gods, please don’t let him be a closet chauvinist! I just can’t deal with that right now.

Right. So…imagine him in his underwear. Or sitting on the toilet. No one can be intimidating with their pants around their ankles. He’s just a person, with his own problems and issues. He’s been trained to communicate well, but he’s just a person, and people fuck up. Try to remember that. Today is no big deal. A meet ‘n greet. He’s got to get to know you, and you’ve got to get to know him. Don’t unload like a dump truck the moment the door closes. You acknowledge this is going to be long term, so act accordingly.

It’s okay to be cautious.

Another headache, or the same one that never really went away. Don’t know nor care. Just an observation. Same with my continued gut problem, tho that, I’m happy to say, is getting better.

Came to this morning, tossed and turned. Found my bed a mess: covers half off, pillows scrunched up or on the floor. I am aware my nights have been very hectic. Sleep is where I seem to confront my big stuff, and that’s the real problem. I’m not getting proper rest, I’m hurting myself, and I don’t seem to be working thru it. Didn’t help that as I lay there, tears came to my eyes and spilled down my cheeks. First. thing. in. the morning. That happens so often to me… I hate it. I know I must get up; continuing to lay there just makes things worse. But then I’m up in the middle of the night, which does nothing to help me feel rested.

…Felt bolstered to get a positive comment on a FB post about my upcoming performance. It came from the producer of a film I worked on, which doubles its weight in my mind. Wow. Yeah. I’ve done films. Plural. Keep that in mind. The comment was to my acting, which strokes my ego just so fine today. Yes, thank you. Thank you for the acknowledgement. I feel I don’t get enough of that in my life, so THANK YOU! for telling me you think I act well. Don’t feel quite comfortable saying ‘I’m a good actress’. Not this morning. But I’m comfortable enough acknowledging someone else’s opinion of my work. It’s a bit of yeah, not everybody thinks I’m shit feeling.

*sigh* I’m all over the place, aren’t I? I’m not even addressing the crying this morning other than noting it. What can I say? That it’s just become a fact of life for me? It’s not an every day occurrence, but it happens often enough that I’m not surprised by it. Maybe that’s what happens when you ignore it, tho. Your body ups the anti to get your attention.

Which is where I currently find myself.

Good Goddess, someone read this and learn from my mistakes because it sure as hell seems like I didn’t!

…Once in a while I ponder the idea that I’m leaving my own legacy behind. As an adherent to the idea of reincarnation, I like to imagine that someday I’ll stumble across my own words, my own work, and find myself again. I’ve run across things that make me hum. Totally, head to toe, vibrate with a deep…a deep what? Longing? Love? Something between the two? It resonates with me, and makes me feel like I’ve found a long-missed piece of a jigsaw puzzle I’m putting together. That’s the best way I can put it.

…I’m not real good at accepting help. I know that. People…tend to confuse me. I often do better if I’m just left alone to suss it out by myself. I do need to learn how to ask for help, tho. Especially when I need it. And I need it now. Not begrudging help, doled out with marks on a chalkboard adding up how much I owe in return. Not weak help, like a slimy fish handed to you that’s still alive and immediately slips out of your fingers. I need help like I’ve rarely received it before, and I need to let myself be helped.

….It’s raining. Well. There’s one good thing.

No one can tell I’m crying when I walk in the rain.