Progress as a verb

Run.

Nothing like watching a horror film to make you remember why working out is important. What if. That’s all you really have to ask yourself: what if. What if disaster struck, what if you were being chased by an axe wielding maniac. Three years ago, my answer would have been ‘lay down and die’ because I was stiff, out of shape, and in a lot of pain. Yesterday, my answer was run. Run fast, run hard – and the great thing was, I found I’m still capable of doing that.

For the record: 8 minutes and five seconds in I passed my first kilometer. Passed the second kilometer in 7 minutes. My knees felt good, I felt strong. Did my stretches and abdominal exercises and free weights, too.

These days, I have a fairly decent chance of getting away from natural disasters and axe wielding maniacs. Not if I’m with a bunch of 20-somethings. But give me an average group, and I’ll be able to outrun a couple of them. I’ll also be able to fight if needed. I’m lifting more, getting some real muscle definition, and while it may be a while since I had any martial arts lessons, I still know how to move.

Don’t underestimate this old broad.

I said I’d laugh at myself if my plan worked, so HAHAHAHAHAHA BLOODY HA! My letter on behalf of my brother was answered – in less than a day. Fastest response I’ve ever seen on flipping ANYTHING. They want a PDF sample. That’s my must-do today: check the text and pick what to send. And since I didn’t send a sample of the manuscript, let me crow because it’s all down to me. My letter, my writing, my pitch got this response. Bloody hell! Wish I could do this for my own stuff! But envy aside, I’m very pleased and working to contain my excitement. This next letter is as important as the first, so I’ll work on it as well. Pleasant, friendly, open and willing to compromise while at the same time holding a high degree of professionalism. That’s what I shot for in the first letter, and I’m holding to the same standard in the second.

Goddess, please help me not fuck up!

Just a few, short weeks left before performing. Don’t know I’m actually ready for it. You know how things go – once someone knows the jokes, they tend to not laugh. That’s what’s going on. My funniest bits go un-laughed at, and I’m starting to doubt the comedy of it all. And I know how much laughter from the audience can throw you. Hearing other people laugh can set you off. I’d like a bit more indoctrination on that, but it’s gonna be feet in the fire, and keep a straight face because you really only get that experience by performing. I keep in mind that the funniest bits on the old Carol Burnett show were often when they’d lose it a little and struggle to keep straight faces. In other words, don’t be afraid of the process. Or even more simply: trust yourself.

…For the very first time since beginning my heavy cross trainer exercise, I find myself wanting to go to the gym two days in a row. I’m not as exhausted as I’ve been in the past. Tired, but not exhausted. Feeling pretty good, as a matter of fact. That’s why I want to go. And so I will. Not to cross train, but to walk on the treadmill and do some biking and lifting. Won’t let myself fool myself into two hard days. I know how that goes! I’d do it, and burn myself out so much I’d have problems the rest of the week. Nope. Simple movement today. If I can live through that and begin doubling up on days at the gym, then I’ll consider two hard days in a row.

Wow. Can you imagine? When you spend a lot of time sick or in pain, you begin to think that’s it forever. It’ll never get better. And let’s be clear: it ain’t easy. I invite anyone into my brain during my work-outs to experience the nausea, the pain in the push, and all the shit I have to shoulder my way through before I get the endorphins everyone talks about. But it IS getting better. The image of me toddling around barely able to walk, or the one of me using some sort of walking aide…they’re beginning to fade from my possible futures. At least, in my head. I know RA; later today I might not be able to move. It’s a bitch of a bitchy disease, striking when you least expect it, taking you down when you’re not prepared. These are things I always need to remember. I just enjoy not dwelling on them.

*sigh* Got to admit I’m wound up. Received a letter from immigration the other day. It was just to pick up some paperwork, but I thought maybe it indicated a positive response in our case. It wasn’t, yet it was. It wasn’t the magic ‘yes, you can stay’ answer I wanted, and I must admit I feel disappointed even though there’s no reason for it. I also feel a heightened anxiety over the entire issue, which again is nonsensical. What the letter does indicate is movement. Progress. A forward motion in life. The great gears are turning, and things are changing. I’ve lived through this often enough to know I might not be pleased with the outcome, and I guess that’s what’s worrying me.

We risk everything to move forward. I risk my health every time I work out. I risk my brother’s shot at the best music publisher in the biz if I don’t get that package just right. I risk failure on stage. And, the hardest to admit, I risk facing deportation if my immigration case doesn’t go through.

But stagnation isn’t the answer.

Progress is. Not as a noun, but as a verb. I progress through life. Yes.

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Bow, wow!

And so…

Went to the appointment for my shoes. Talk about trepidation! I know they’re built for me, but my orthopedics have caused me so many blisters and so much pain I grew scared of putting them on. Haven’t had them on all summer, as a matter of fact, because they’re leather, and ankle boots, and hot. Plus, aforesaid problems. Tried the shoes on before my appointment and GOT them on, which proved to me once and for all that yes, my feet swell up during summer, it’s not my imagination. Had a bit of luck at the shoe shop; not all shop help are created equal! Some know their stuff better than others. Got someone who really understood shoes (and my terrible Dutch with English interjections) and in less than 20 minutes I walked out with shoes that no longer hurt my feet. Glorious! Better still, I made it to the first corner on the street without pain. Yippee! Then the rain picked up, so I quickened my pace – still no pain.

I wore those shoes all day yesterday without incident one. YES! They’re finally what they claimed to be in the ads.

Made an appointment for my second pair. Asked for (and was shown) softer material. Picked out a sneaker type of style they had on file. Asked for (and was shown) a thicker tread for winter ice. Will I be able to wear these at the gym? I asked. Yes, I was told. They’ll be just like sneakers, only better. In fact, we’ll make them wider right away, so you won’t have any problems, and you should be able to wear them year ’round…

Hot damn!

Chose to NOT run errands in the rain yesterday. Plenty to do, but…I’m worried about my health. It’s cooling down quickly, and people have a nasty habit of continuing to wear T-shirts on days like today because they’re unwilling to give up summer. Then they get sick, I get exposed, and that’s it. My bro understood, and picked up some slack for me. Thank you!

Want to get back to the gym today. Still beat from my all-out on Thursday, so I won’t even try to equal that. But I need to move. Also need to do a full ‘dress rehearsal’ here at home, and video myself. Trying out this new take on my role, and I want to be as tight as I can be on Monday when I spring it on everyone. Plus, I gotta put in some practice time with these false eyelashes. It’s the first time I’ve ever tried them, and they’re a little tricky to put on. And I’m still not sure of my accent, so filming myself should give me an objective view (and hearing) on what I’m trying. Then there’s housework: dishes, hoovering, laundry, and the dreaded (ugh) cleaning of the bathroom.

Been perfectly happy the last 24 hours to sit still and do nuthin. Watching tv, playing games, sometimes just staring off into space. My mind has truly gone blank; I’m not thinking about writing or my stories – at least, not consciously. Who knows what’s being whipped up in that kitchen sink in the back of my brain? Allowing it. The last thriller was only half-cooked when I looked at it, so it needs more time. All the ingredients are correct, and the heat is on low. The chef can take a coffee break.

Feels like I’ve been on a manic streak again. Still got that over-riding positive attitude. My stuff will be discovered and produced! It’s good! I question my own reactions. Toyed with the idea of utter failure (again). Imagined it – the long waiting, the silences, the incessant beating down of rejection after rejection. Can’t honestly see myself keeping my positive attitude if I don’t get a tiny bread-crumb trail of hope. I try to prep for failure, but it’s almost impossible right now. I’m as quick to discount the negative possibilities when I’m manic as I am to discount the positive possibilities when I’m depressed. Doing my best to see all the alternatives and keep my feet on the ground.

…*sigh* And can’t some shrink just read this blog to analyze me? I’d really like some prescription medicine around this time…

Because I’m scared of the fall. I know it’s coming; it always does.

And I do my best to not be scared of the fall, because fear always makes a situation worse. I’ll get through it; I always have. That’s what I tell myself. But there have been times I’ve not been sure I’d make it. Black times, hard times. Down the well with no light times. I’m as scared of that as I am a full blown RA flare up. I’ve lived through both, but I never want to go back there. I mean never. Both extremes had me begging for death.

…Doesn’t help that I know (I know!) this conundrum of worry is a by-product of my mania. It’s not happening now; you’re getting stuck in the future again! Yeah, yeah. But once you start chasing your own tail, it’s difficult to stop.

Bow, wow!

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.

Flurries on the brain

Trying to break the grip of master storytelling today, and head off to the comic shop to see the guys. Not easy. I left my last script at a critical point, just before killing off the characters. It’s sort of like putting a film on pause. Everything stops, sure – but you haven’t finished it yet. And since I’m not writing something that’s blatantly obvious from the outset, I want to make it to the end.

Good stuff: The new script is dead on target, with word count right where I wanted it. I also think I’m managing to introduce a few scares and a very tense story. I’ve kept the cast to four people, and the tech requirements low. Considering the idea of asking my bro to record all the sound effects needed for my pieces, then putting both the scripts AND the sound effects out for use. Do it right, and both of us could make a bit of money. But that’s down the line. For now, I’m concentrating on story telling, and setting the audience up for as many thrills as I can. One more day of writing should finish up the first draft.

I find it odd, how I can set out on a script with a very clear idea of what’s gonna happen and who’s gonna do this or that, and then suddenly a small turn of phrase by one character changes the whole nature of the story. It happens almost every time. And I’m not complaining; it keeps it fresh even for me, the writer. But I think my brain works on levels of which I’m not even aware. Somehow, I manage to slip in stuff that seems inconsequential when I write it, but later becomes a vital foreshadowing point. Case in point: the current story, another thriller, is set in a remote cabin. I only envisioned one setting while sketching the outline. But suddenly, the characters were moving into the kitchen, and when I followed them there, what did I find? That this dusty, remote cabin had a spotlessly clean kitchen. Now, long term thought was the former owner was a killer – I’d planned to leave hints all around. I realized, tho, that walking into a clean kitchen after seeing a dusty and dirty living room was a good creep factor. So I’m playing it up: the knives, the weirdness. Even using loud bangs off stage at one point (very like a horror film, yes, that’s what I’m modeling on). Lights flickering on and off, strange behavior by some of the characters – it’s coming together, and if done by a troupe with real talent, it’s gonna be good.

That brain power is already cooking up script three in the thriller trilogy.

How did I get here? A year ago, I would have never considered writing a thriller. Would have thought it was beyond me. Now…I can’t stop. And it’s not just the stories. I want to scare people. I want to frighten the audience, make them squirm uncomfortably in their seats.

In fact, the only thing I can imagine stopping for is another historical drama. Because, like thrillers, I found I like writing that style – and I’m good at it.

Who is this person I’m becoming?

…My obsession with my work and change in writing style has kept me from thinking or worrying too much about anything. Oh, I still rant at the tv every news program. I’m still angry over a lot of stuff. But all that fades away when I lock myself in a dark room and think about how my characters kill each other. A little sick? Maybe. But it’s a lot healthier than acting out, or just being a bull-headed angry person all the time. Besides, write a character that kills, and suddenly (unless you’re writing about race or religious problems) all that goes away. Not much matters when you face a gun or a knife. Not politics, not skin color, not beliefs or hypocrisy or hate. It’s just death. Death and you.

And maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much of my life afraid that I can write what I’m writing. Maybe all those years of anxiety and fear will now pay off. Want someone who freaks out? No problem; I got that mindset down. How about a depressed person? Yep, know how they think, too. Self-harm? Got it covered. Narcissism? Seen it up close and personal. In fact, most behaviors that lead to thrillers (or horrors, or any story worth telling), I’ve got covered. I know them. Intimately. Some, too intimately. But it’s all coming together now. My experiences, the stories…I just hope my timing is good, too. That I find the right place to send my scripts to at the right time. That the right people read my material and see the production.

Either way, I find I don’t want to stop. I suppose some people will think it strange to say that the rejection letter I recently received is really bolstering my confidence, but it’s true. Even tho it was a no, they liked my writing. I find myself less apt to apologetically approach potential readers, half asking and half begging them to look at my work, and more apt to simply put it out there with the knowledge and confidence that my stuff is good and I don’t need them to read it. – At least, it’s good when I know it’s good. My thrillers are good. Real good. My historical drama is good (ditto on the ‘real’). My comedy attempts…not so much. I can do it…sort of. But I still don’t feel like I’m a real comedy writer – which, again, is strange, because a few years ago I would have said comedy was my forte.

Feels like my mind is a snow globe. You take a look at it on the shelf, and you see one thing. But as soon as you pick it up, stuff begins moving and swirling around. Then, suddenly, it’s a new scene – a snow storm. It looks the same as when it sat on the shelf, but now it’s far more complex. See what was hidden under that layer of snow? And watch the way the flakes dance around, drawing your attention to this or that miniature bit.

(sigh) I’ve got flurries on the brain.

It ain’t my fault

Ugh. Let’s vent.

Merry, merry. My return to morning posts has generated a few more readers. That’s what I’d hoped. I mean, writing English while in the EU…there’s got to be a joke in there somewhere, tho being as I’m living it right now, I can’t see it. My goal was to reach more English speakers and, thank you, it seems I’m doing that.

…Which leads me to my first vent. Some likes on yesterday’s post (now dim in my memory, after 24 hours of crunching more words out of my brain) made me go back and read my own words. All well and good, and a little stroke to my ego because I thought the post was pretty good, too. But it made me notice the advert WP puts on the bottom of my page (making money off my words, while simultaneously wanting to charge me money every month so I can get a piece of the ad revenue). And what lay there, asking/begging/demanding you go and check it out, even pony up some funds to buy? Scrivener. That software I gave a go, the shit that’s not worth even the trial version (if you’re a playwright) because it lacks the standard formatting 99.9% of places want.

Ye Gods….really?

Second vent: news. Nothing new about that. I’m not even reading the articles anymore, just skimming the titles. Trying to keep up on world news while not being triggered. Tough. Wish there weren’t so many pix of 45 out there. Is it possible to snap a photo of him when he DOESN’T look like a self-satisfied snobby bastard? Doesn’t seem to be.

Third vent: this current “free speech” bullshit the far right in the US is pulling. Let’s be clear: there is no free speech. There isn’t even any freedom. Not in the US, not anywhere. If the US had free speech, why did everyone come down on a certain female comedian when an obviously staged and comedic photograph came out with her holding 45’s head? Oh, no! I believe she got fired for that one. I believe she got death threats. And she sure as fuck got shamed beyond reason for it. Yet, that was her free speech. And the far right, who are now screaming that they should be able to call anyone anything, they should be able to say these people are all lazy, or rapists, or criminals – they’re the ones who put this pressure on her. …More than that, even. “Freedom” would be you’re able to do whatever the fuck you want (that is, actually, the way I’ve heard most right-wingers define it). So from that stance, it must mean you support the laziness, the raping, and the criminal behavior. They should all be free to do that, right? Oh! And how about pedophilia? That would be covered under your definition, as well. My point is that NO society is absolutely “free”, and thinking that you are is a child’s fantasy. For every individual to be free, societies would fall – because absolute individual freedom is counter to civilization. It’s an ‘all for me’ attitude, and that kind of thinking does not build roads, or schools, or hospitals. It does not pay a fair wage; it may not even pay its bills at all. It’s the kind of thinking that serial killers and narcissists have.

Fourth vent. A lovely link to a nonsense feature on the internet about how someone ran 1000 Hollywood scripts through a computer program to “find out” that women’s roles have, on average, thousands of fewer lines of dialogue than men, that taking women out of most stories doesn’t change the tale, and that women are underrepresented and dissed in almost every fucking way. Again, seriously? Can I be angry and bold enough to say I bet it was a man who came up with this idea? Because women have been saying that for ages and not taken seriously. The only reason I can think of why this particular bullshit shows up as “news” is because it’s a man’s study. A man’s article.

…And all that before 7 in the morning.

Other: worked on my script. Read it through, made a few changes. Prepped up a different script to send out again. Got to the gym, did my thing. Got on the scale, horror, horror…After all my sweating and straining, the damned scale said I lost a grand total of .3 kilo. That’s not even a pound. For months of hard work. The thought hit me that I should begin to accept my body for what it is. I’m not 20, or even 30 anymore. I’m 50+. That big number that always seems to have so many black colored birthday wishes in greetings card shops. Time to let that size 10 ideal go…

Had a thought strike me as I sat on the thinking chair (toilet). Yesterday I talked about reconciliation, and how I yearn for it. And I do. But I also realized that in my life, I’ve been the one to walk away from people. I’ve done it to protect myself, because being in their presence meant continual dissing and put-downs on a level I found very self-destructive. Of course, they faulted me for it. I’m the baby for walking away and terminating communication. I’m at fault. But I’ve never been able to make them see that loving someone means you make a choice. A choice about how much hurt you’ll take from someone. Everyone will, eventually, hurt you. They leave, they die, you argue, they betray you – something will happen, and you’ll feel let down. It’s inevitable. So for me, loving someone has meant I have to know where that line in the sand is drawn; what kinds of abuse I’ll take from people and still care. My family has crossed that line so many times, in so many ways, I can no longer trust any of them. Because even if I try to talk to them about it, all I get is blame, blame, blame – it’s my fault.

And it ain’t my fault.

The Right Words

After a few days of pre-scheduled posts (because it’s summer holiday, and I was sleeping in), we’re back to live, or as alive as it gets for the written form in cyber space.

Found a call for submissions, 20 minutes tops – and the deadline is 9 days away. It’s even got a topic to write on – “from the ashes” (interpreted as literally or fancifully as you want). At first, I was gonna blow right past it. But something made me stop, and take a PDF copy onto my desktop, and think. I figured, I got the time; why not try?

It was odd to go through the motions of deep writing for a small piece. Thinking. A bit of research and googling. Pace, pace, pace. Jot down three different ideas. Pace, pace, pace. Sit and begin to write. Not any of the three ideas I jotted down, naturally. Something completely different.

And then there was this note at the end of the submissions page:

[We’ll hire] at least 50% women, people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, people with disabilities, and any member of any underrepresented, or otherwise marginalized community.

…I read that statement to my brother, and he got a good laugh when I told him my characters – a black gay man, a transgender male, a lesbian, a disabled Indian woman, and one straight, white woman (I know; it sounds like the opening line to a joke). Stacking the deck? Maybe. Yet, why not? Why not make it a mixed bag, why not write for these groups? They’re people, with stories to tell. My concern, of course, is that I’m not black, or gay, or transgender, or technically disabled – and I’ll get dissed for it.

But…come on! Men write roles for women all the time, and they can’t have any better idea what it actually is to be a woman as I’d have knowing what it’s like to be a gay black man or a transgender man or a lesbian or a disabled Indian woman.

And I plan on sending a draft to my friend, J, and asking him if he thinks it’s offensive. I know he’s not the mouthpiece for the LGBTQ community, but he is a part of it. Plus, I know he’ll be upfront with me.

It’s obvious to me I’ve had my fill of writing drama/thrillers for now. This bloody thing is a comedy (told you it sounded like a joke set-up). Or, I hope it is. …Comedy is damned difficult to write. So much depends on the inflection given to dialogue. And somehow, in the past few decades, this skewed idea of black comedy has seeped into our culture. Oh, I’ve seen a few black comedies that were outrageously funny! But many seem to be simple dramas or even tragedies that the author just decided to label as ‘comedy’ – because there’s nothing funny about them at all. Not from what I’ve seen. Sorry. After seeing “The Snapper”, my interest in what humans call black comedy went straight down the toilet (the most horrible film ever made, in my opinion, for it shows nothing but the basest and most vile cross section of humanity the writer could dredge out of the slurry pit of his mind. Warning: if you watch this film, a girl gets pregnant after something I’d dub a rape and her family fucking celebrates it – disgusting).

I’m old fashioned. I think a comedy should make you laugh at some point.

…Maybe it’s inevitable that comedy offends someone. I mean…aside from slap-stick, it’s hard not to offend someone with a joke. And hell! Even slap-stick can be offensive. I’ve seen the old Benny Hill show. Offensive as fucking hell.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so worried about it.

But worrying about it prevents me from worrying about other things, which is a Godsend, really. So I’ll allow myself to be concerned over offending people with my writing. I’ll spend the hours pacing and typing away, concocting yet another play that may or may not see the light of day.

One other thing. I’m noticing a pattern in my writing. A deep seated desire for reconciliation. Almost all my stories (other than my thrillers) are ending with a reconciliation scene. Apologies, acceptance – even love.

And, you know…I’m glad of it. Glad to see that beneath all my anger and frustration, a seed of kindness and understanding still thrives. That’s what I’m after in real life. Maybe I’ll write a way to that for myself. Find something in my own words that turns the tide, stills my anger, and keeps me calm.

I just have to find the right words.

Lost

I had hoped to write today that I’m back from Amsterdam, forms notarized, and all is well. But you know the old saying about the hopes of mice and we fools who hang all our perceptions on our outer trappings rather than our inner selves, and it held true today.

I got bunk, people. Nadda. Nothing except a very long, very early morning with a lot of traveling in a big circle. Never have I been so damned disappointed in Dutch trains.

It all began by picking up the earliest metro possible: 6:02 a.m. From there, a short hop to the closest train station. I had all the info printed up. And we caught the train we were supposed to catch, and rode into Rotterdam Centraal. Found the next train platform – only to notice a blinking red line under our train’s notification, saying CANCELLED. Shit. Okay; another train to Amsterdam was leaving in 15 minutes from the same platform. But unfortunately, it was a slow train. After starting out the morning anticipating that we’d arrive in Amsterdam with almost an hour to spare, we found we were ending up half an hour late – and THAT was pulling into the station. Then it was find the tram, take it, walk 20 minutes, wait in line – in the rain, desperately holding onto a pee – then no, sorry, make another appointment…but wait! We were called back and for an additional half an hour I thought maybe they’d bend their tight-assed rules and let us in. Instead, we got an another little slap in the face, standing there, holding onto our bladders, asking again, only to be let in the first door and handed a half-sheet page of instructions that (wait for it) told us sorry, we need to make another appointment and be the fuck on time.

Fuck.

There’s only one ray of sunshine in my otherwise abysmal tale: the small print on my NS post delivered freebie train ticket. It’s good for two days. Oh, don’t be impressed. Everyone in the country gets them delivered to their door; I’m not special. But it comes to me at a convenient time. Today, we only lost the cost of one of us traveling in that big circle. Tuesday, our next scheduled appointment, will fall under the same category. So in the end, other than our time (and loss of sleep), we aren’t going to spend any more than we would have had we paid full price for both of us to train up to Amsterdam once.

It’s little consolation to me, though, because time is our big enemy on this. We’ve got 30 days to refile. Thirty days from our last letter. But the letter was written under one date, stamped with another, and received by our attorneys on a third. So when, actually, is our deadline? No effing idea, and that’s the wrench in the entire system. All I know is it gotta be done soon.

Does not help that I got a ‘if I’d taken care of this, this would never have happened’ line from my bro. Really? You want to absolutely guarantee that everything would have gone just swell had you made the train calculations rather than me? …And yes, I should have signed in at 4 this morning to check the fucking train schedules with NS. And yes, I should have written down six alternatives to the train I wanted to take. Shoulda, shoulda, shoulda… I could beat myself senseless with shoulda.

I’m choosing to take responsibility without guilt. Yes, there were back-up preparations it would have been a good idea to make. Let this be a lesson to me: I may love this country passionately, but I shouldn’t suppose for one minute that it’s perfect. And the last minute cancellation was not my fault. The delays and hiccups we encountered at every corner were not my fault.

Will anyone think less of me if I confess my mind’s first thought at my brother’s words: ‘oh, gods! you should just kill yourself! the best you can do is get in people’s way!’? Melodramatic? Sure. But I noticed the pattern. The guilt for bloody everything that falls on my shoulders followed by that ‘you’d be better off dead’ response in my head. It comes at me no matter what. Even when I’m bloody prepared to fail miserably and just get through it, those thoughts come to me.

I do not like being so fucking changeable. Okay one minute and desperately hating myself the next. And I’ve seen this in other people. I know how unnerving it is to hear that level of self-hate spew forth from someone’s lips. While I reacted to my brother’s statement angrily, I did not give voice to these haunting nymphs that never leave me. These words may stand as my only note of them this time ’round. Because…because I know it was an awful morning for both of us, and no one should have to hear about suicidal thoughts at ten in the fucking morning. Even if it IS raining. And note: I did remember to say ‘it makes me feel’. Not ‘you’re doing this again’, but ‘it makes me feel’.

So, good on me. I suppose you never really know how far you’ve come until shit hits the wall. It’s easy to be good or stable (or sane, or whatever word I’m looking for) when all is la-la-lovely in life.

Heard from the director. Heads up for heavy rehearsing next week ’til performance dates. No big surprise. I’ll hit those words later on. My brain’s too fried from the early morning and the stress and the travel today. Anything I’d try now would just end up getting…

Lost.

Pacing

I may never learn why pacing helps me sort out plot lines; all I know is it works.

Spent most of the morning viewing online unexplained mysteries vids. Current on the chop block is an idea I’ve had banging around in my head for a while. I’ve got the rough outline sitting on my desk top. There are a few areas I need to expand, and loads of foreshadowing I’ll need to weave into the story, but…I think I got it. The basics, anyway. Enough to let my head rest for a while.

And yesterday, I had one of those ‘clicks’ deep in my brain. A click that brought me out of my musings and into a seat further back from the immediate action. I realized the story I’m currently working on can be tied to a previous script (both are thrillers). In fact, I saw an expanded thriller trilogy – written for the stage. Sort of a Three Colors series for theatre – though far more chilling than those beautifully captured films. I like. A lot. A lot a lot. The third idea is still in its infancy, and that’s precisely where it should be right now. But I’ve got the rough idea, and I know how to tie all three together. No idea how long these next two might end up being. Have a feeling this second thriller can match the length of the first, which is on the short side. Great. I could pair them together. The third? Might get a bit more expansive. Might not. Won’t be able to say before I get the next idea out and finished.

Got to the gym. In fact, for the first time in maybe forever, my drive and impetus inspired my brother to get off his butt and take a bike ride for some exercise. Usually, it’s the other way around. Well, well, and my, my! Look at what a little commitment and discipline can do.

Met with the accountant and got some filled in forms we need for immigration. Must admit to feeling uneasy; it seemed to me that the accountant had his doubts over our case. Perhaps that’s me, reading into it with my own anxiety colored glasses. Perhaps not. In either case, I understand the need to remain calm, and the uselessness of allowing my anxiety to rule over me. To that end, I’m not dwelling on it. Reminding myself he’s an accountant, not our lawyer. He doesn’t know the ins and outs of the law. …Still. I’d rather not have seen his little mannerisms that got me thinking this way. It would be much easier if I hadn’t.

Glad to say that turning it off – my anxiety, that is – is easier now than when I was younger. Maybe I’ve just lived through enough instances when my worrying came to nothing, other than making me sick, to know I’ve just got to let it go. Maybe I’ve learned to put up other defenses. Or maybe it’s the marijuana I smoke. Whatever. I’m glad to be able to sleep when night comes, and I do not miss that continuous knot in my stomach at all.

Went out for dinner last night (Papaya again), and ran into one of the other students in my language class. Ach! Immediately I spoke Dutch, or tried to. Damn, it took time to pull the words out of memory. Another reminder I should try to listen to more Dutch, or do some homework, or reading, or something. …Though my guilt is lessened by finding out the other student hasn’t worked on the language at all over the summer break, either.

Things feel a bit muddled for me lately. Like all my thoughts are bleeding into each other. Immigration is mixing with the creepy thriller feeling. Emails with friends are blending with videos I’ve watched. Even days are getting hard to remember. What is it? Tuesday? What’s happening tomorrow? Oh, yeah. Nothing. It’s the day after tomorrow I need to remember…

I don’t like it. Not feeling clear.

Guess I need to do some more pacing.

And that’s okay

I’ve got a thin veneer of “fine” over me. Read thru my script; found less than five errors. Whipped through the paperwork for immigration. Rested my knee. Concentrated on the positive, the steps forward.

Underneath, things are simmering. Fear, naturally. Fear over my status here. Got an appointment on Thursday in Amsterdam to get some paperwork notarized. Bleeding 8:15 in the morning, which means traveling at a time I’m usually asleep (at least lately). Hope to push both me and my bro thru at the same time; we did last time, and our cases are tied together, so it makes sense. Otherwise, there will be another fly up to the big city on a different day to take care of my stuff. Last minute travel plans add to my anxiety. Not that they should; trains here run on time. Still…I feel it.

Physically, I’ve become a slug. Very little movement during my days. And I can tell I’ve let it go too long. To be fair to myself, I did get out on some walks. But it wasn’t the same, and I can tell I’m beginning to jones out on the lack of endorphins. Must get to the gym and sweat. Really don’t want to do it now that inertia has set in. But, no choice. I am determined to stay on top of my mind, and regular exercise is a big part of that – like it or not.

Been pulling news articles about the strange and wonderful – or things that could possibly be strange and wonderful. I like the idea of anchoring my stories in reality. What a change from twenty years ago, when I concentrated on sci-fi and fantasy! Now, give me some concrete, real fact I can hang my fancies on – that added dimension gives me extra shivers. And, wow. Thrillers have become my mainstream. What creepy thing happens? What fear can I inject into the audience? Those are my only questions these days.

Happy to say that with enough time and pull back from my creation, the rape scene included in my script didn’t hit me as hard when I read it as it did when I wrote it. Still a trigger potential. Still a short, terse paragraph for a gripping scene. But I saw beyond the rape, to the whole story. My message is very clear throughout. No role should feel jilted by lack of lines or interesting subtext. I kept tech suggestions to a minimum, with only one or two sounds used and simple blue lighting for nighttime. I suggest, in the production notes, to pull copyright free photographs from the web and project them in the theatre. But only a suggestion! I hope the scant tech needs attract people, and the suggestions encourage them to explore the depth of the material.

Feels like I’m finally on holiday. And I suppose I am; I was stuck in 1943 for a number of weeks as I wrote. So I’m not riding myself for my lack of interest in learning Dutch, or my reluctance to do a super-clean of this corner or that. I find I just want to be right now.

And that’s okay.

Feels like a Monday

Meetings, paperwork, questions, look it up, more paperwork, more meetings. Ugh. Pulling together the new application for residency. Horrid shit. Hate having to fill in the blanks myself. Hard to believe anyone with “knowledge” of this process charges thousands to do just that, but they do, which is why I’m dragging myself through it. Gods. Nothing like sweating every little stroke of the pen to make you fuck up. I could write those answers out a thousand times on a blank sheet of paper. Doesn’t matter. When it comes to committing my answers to THE FORM, I freeze and make mistakes.

Strained my knee at the gym earlier in the week. Nothing bad, but had to take some days off. I’ve had knee problems, and I don’t want them again.

Watching tv. Reading ‘Perelandra’ from CS Lewis (again). Doing my best (per my bro’s request) to stay calm. Not working well, obviously. Here’s another five a.m. I’m seeing.

I’m tired and I’d like a break. No time! Next week begins my language lessons. Have I tried to wrap my tongue around Dutch lately? Hell, no! Have I run thru my lines for the upcoming production? Hell, no! Feel kinda bad about that, but only kinda. I did have my shit down cold before the break. And language…well, that’s a constant struggle. But hey; I deserve a holiday, too. Maybe I can’t go anywhere or do anything, but that doesn’t mean I don’t deserve simple time OFF. Time to fuck off and do my own thing.

Kept the words of my excellent rejection in mind over the past few days. I’m a good writer. Keep telling myself that; it’s difficult to cut through years of feeling like and being told I’m a loser and actually grasp that truth. Of course, even my best intentioned thoughts are tinged with negativity: being a good writer is no guarantee of success. And I noticed certain family members who insist on commenting on everything bleeding thing I do (generally using subtle to not so subtle put downs in the process) have managed to stay quiet about the feedback I got on my script. Oh, got nothing to say now that someone has something NICE to say about me and my work? Well, no worries. It IS still a rejection, after all. You remain top dog in your own pathetic little world.

Gods, I hate my family. I mean really, really dislike them. A LOT.

Have not committed myself to anything just yet. I’ve more stories floating in my brain. Stories that pop up in the middle of watching tv, or on a walk. Letting it all be right now. My last script taught me that I can write off a strong outline no matter what occurs in my own life, and I trust myself enough now to back off a bit. Let those ideas rest. I’ll start to commit to paper in a few weeks. Ideas, sketches, characters. There are two strong contenders for my next project. Which one is chosen will probably depend on how full the outlines become. I suppose I should check on submissions calls; what people want, how limited the cast sizes are, etc. But I’m feeling like I just want to write. I’ve got a handle on most limitations, and it’s never a bad idea to just have stuff ready to send out.

…Checked out a couple of ‘playwright’ web pages. People who claim to be professional playwrights (don’t know and can’t say for sure, because I never heard of their works). Found one woman with 25 scripts to her name. I was impressed – until a deeper look revealed five of those scripts to be 10 minute affairs. Really? Isn’t that like a jingle writer claiming to be a song writer? Maybe I shouldn’t be such a bitch about it. Just take a look at one of these so-called 10 minute scripts. Not sure what kind of a “story” can be told in that short of time. …And then there was the rest of the so-called 25 scripts. Included a lot of shorts. A lot a lot. Very few full length pieces. By the end, I wasn’t impressed with her “credentials”. Though, DAMN! She listed a lot of awards.

Does humanity really suffer from ADHD? Seems so. Anything more than 500 words on a blog post is just asking to be ignored. Tweets have become the norm for communication – even from the American presidency. Ten minute plays, flash fiction – short, short, short! Is the illiteracy rate really so high? Seems so.

And you know…it doesn’t matter if I’m in the right on this issue. Doesn’t matter one bit. I’m the odd one out: a person who reads. There’s an old saying that a seeing man would be king in a world of the blind, but I don’t believe that’s true. I think that seeing man would be shunned, belittled, cajoled and ridiculed into going along with the mob. Because that’s the true nature of humanity: mob rule. Think differently and risk everything. Oh, maybe in ten or twenty or a hundred or so years the rest of humanity will catch up with you and then they’ll say ‘oh, gee, that person was such a genius!’ but I HATE the Van Gogh effect of dissing and ignoring artists and thinkers until long after they’re gone and then holding up their work, proclaiming it’s wonderful, and isn’t it a shame we didn’t give this person props when he/she was alive.

I mean really….fuck off! I hate this so much that if I actually get enough money together to bother with a damned will, I’ll write in a clause to reject ANY award given to my work post-mortem.

…Why, oh why, does it feel like a Monday?