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?

Never quite whole again

Went to the gym. Did dishes, made my bed. All that stuff I promised I’d get back to – I did it. Even opened up my script and wrote 2000 words.

And it felt right to get back to the day to day. Solid, real. Reminded myself where I am. When I am. Who I am.

But I am still mourning, and it’s a private grief. There is not one person in my life today who met L, so for them it’s like saying a celebrity died – distant and cerebral. Even heard from someone I shared my sob story with, who said just that, which is why I bring it up…because the statement felt cold. Really? You’ll compare my losing someone I spent every day of my 20s with the death of a celebrity? You think that compares? Cold.

Maybe I’m just being a bitch. Maybe the person who said that really did get shaken down to their bones. Maybe, in secret, they flew off to the UK and spent many long afternoons and evenings with their hero, David Bowie. Maybe they remember Bowie shooting pool with them. Being at their side when their parents died. Maybe they spent hours on the phone, all hours of the day or night, talking. Just like I did with L.

Or maybe not.

No one says ‘I love you’ to me. Not even in writing. I do. I tell people I love them at the end of my letters. That is, I tell them I love them if I truly do love them. I don’t just write it for everyone. It’s a select bunch, I’ll give you that. Not many I’d say it to. And I know not everyone is comfortable saying it. Not everyone can say it, even in the written word. There are several people in my life who aren’t in the habit of saying it, yet I know they care about me because of how they treat me. They are there for me, consistently. To talk, to help, to console. They never say ‘why are we talking about this again’ or ‘gee, I just don’t have time to deal with your crises anymore’.

Still. I’d like to hear the words echoed back to me.

Writing has become a thing. A real thing in my life. Not something I do when the mood strikes me, but something I sit and do regardless of my mood. And thank you, Goddess, for it! Hours typing away, creating dialogue and story lines…hours I don’t think about myself, or my sorrow, or the (possible) lack of love in my life.

I think I could finally write for a living now. Punch in the hours, type in the words.

The script is going well. Strong. Strong characters, strong statements. I need to modify a few things in Act 1. Add in one or two historical references. Make sure I’m not using contractions (I know I have to comb over the beginning for those). But I don’t want to modify Act 1 yet. Keep moving forward. Get through the whole thing. Otherwise, I run the risk of spending the rest of the week editing Act 1 – which is truly silly, since I haven’t written the end yet. Finish it off, THEN go back and tinker with the beginning. You know that!

Go! Write! Forget!

Forget.

Strange how I bury my sorrow in words that remember.

Today is another gym day. Get my ass over there and sweat. Regret, after 7 minutes, getting on the cross trainer. Feel I’m gonna vomit after 20 minutes on said cross trainer. Then over that hump. Into the endorphins. Smile, when my legs burn. Laugh at the sweat dripping off me. I wonder if L kept up on exercise. Is this the reason I’m living longer than my mates? Because I get off on it? Do I have an addictive side that’s so hung up on exercise highs I return to physical activity throughout my life in order to feed my need?

Fucking hell. Can I finally turn that weakness into a strength?

Find my soul a little more forgiving. My urge to grasp happiness a bit more conscious and aware. My weaknesses are not insurmountable mountains in my path, hampering my every move, but flat spaces of nothingness I can build on.

If the value of a person lies in the lessons they teach us, L was valued very highly, indeed.

No wonder they say growing old is scary. It sure as fuck is! Hearing about or, worse yet, seeing the people you know and care about die – fucking die – is terrifying.

…People want to talk so much about money and finances these days. What’s your 401K look like? How much is in your portfolio? But no one ever talks about our emotional investments. How we invest so much in the people in our lives. Not just the big memories, but the day to day stuff. The dreams, even. Dreams of them, of seeing them again. And when we lose someone, we go bankrupt. Immediately. All of that is lost. The comfortable chit-chat and grousing over our routines. The irritating habits we snap at each other for, then later regret mentioning. The things we think we’d like to be rid of, and the things we think we can’t live without. Gone, in an instant.

We are left in an open wound of love and sorrow, and facing the huge obstacle of putting our lives back together again. But we are missing a piece.

And while working a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle maybe be fun even if a piece is missing, the picture is never complete.

We are never quite whole again.

Vigil

The internet is so not free. Nor open. Searching for an old friend from overseas is frustrating, to say the least.

I have an address and land line.

I also found a death notice that claims L died at the age of 45.

Searched for an obit. All afternoon. Found nothing. Plenty of places I could cough some money up to, places that may or may not have any further info on her. No word from the message I sent out to her daughter. Found her husband, after a prolonged search. His online status lists him in a relationship with someone other than my friend.

I’m thinking of dialing that land line number this afternoon.

…Not even sure I want to know the truth. In some ways, people who live only in your memory are already dead. You think of them in terms of the past.

Keep telling myself it’s just an online mix up. One of those bullshit things that happen. I searched for her name and a death certificate; obviously, some site out there is gonna claim to have one. Thinking how silly I’ll feel if I call and she picks up. Of course she’s still there in Wisconsin. Of course she’s alive. How silly, how silly!

Yet…we’re talking about someone who was working with computers before computers became the thing. I have a difficult time believing she would have no social pages, no posts, no professional links whatsoever if she were alive.

Dead? At 45? That would make it 2010. Seven years ago.

And what does that make me? If ever you’d ask me, I would have said L was my best friend ever. Never had another connection with anyone that rivaled the bond between us. If she’s been dead for seven years…and I didn’t even know…

Can’t wrap my head around this. I’m in denial.

Want to find her photograph in my pile of memories. Look at her face. Demand her to be alive, be real.

…Goddess. I have to make that phone call.

Is it silly to mourn so belatedly?

The strange thing is, when people from your past die, a part of your memory dies. All those things we did, we crazy 20 something young women – now, maybe, I’m the only one to carry those memories. There is no one to reminisce with. The memories becomes stories, the stories become legend, the legend fades away and becomes forgotten. Somehow, thinking of L as alive – even tho we lost touch and hadn’t spoken for years, even tho we parted on less than ideal terms – it made the world a little less cold. There was someone out there who remembered me.

Now…now I have a four hour wait before I can dial the phone. A four hour wait to think, and remember.

A vigil. Light a candle, and pray like hell.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Remember to take down time for yourself. It works. I know it sucks! But this is the fastest you’ve recovered. A scant 48 hours. That’s two days, not two weeks. Think about it.

Found L’s daughter. Goddess only knows what I was thinking. Twenty-five years on. Must have been all that sitting around, waiting to feel better. Must have got sentimental. Crap! Sent out a note. Why, why, why? Last time I saw L she was all born again. Could not stand to be in her company much. That came more from her sanctimonious blame (and subsequent forgiveness) of me than her choice of church. You’re to blame for me doing this, but I forgive you… One more example of getting the weight of the world shoved on my shoulders. So why did I write? Why open that up? Why see if anything of the person I used to know is there anymore? I already know the answer: no.

The accusation…I agree I was wild. Wilder than wild. I’m sorry if hanging out with me and being my friend at that time in my life made you feel pressured to do anything you didn’t want to do. But the reality is I never forced you. You left, in fact, after our fight – and headed to Phoenix, where you went deeper into the muck than I ever wanted to go. Crystal meth. I still remember that phone call at 3 a.m. You were really jacked up. I was 1000 miles away.

Still want to blame me?

…Maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s what’s bugging me. The unsaid words on my part. Will a quarter century of experience temper her reply? Or will she still blame me, still point fingers, and simply turn away?

I miss the person I knew. I will always think of her as my friend, even tho at this point we’ve spent more years not being friends than our time together as comrades. Makes me sad because I’ve never had another friend like L.

I remember L as a woman of conditions. Certain lines drawn in the sand, never to be crossed. I also remember L as wild as myself, without any prompting by me. A pool hustler that convinced me to get my first and only tattoo. The chick in literature class I with whom I smoked my first on-campus joint. She was, in truth, the brave one of the two of us. It was her drive that first got me into the gym, her determination that took her half way across the country, while I looked on in awe and tried desperately to keep up.

Now we’re old. She has a grown daughter. And I think I still need to say a few things to her. Most of all, I want to acknowledge that yes, I was screwed up back then. Very much. So much so I didn’t know how much. I’ll take responsibility for that. And I am truly sorry if she felt pressured into anything during that time. I don’t remember it that way. But I’m willing to admit that my memories are not the only ones in question here. She saw what she saw, and felt what she felt.

…Maybe I’m looking for confirmation on my character. Character witnesses. Maybe I’m trying to absolve myself of past sins. Honestly don’t know. But I think there are unsaid things on my part, which is why I kept looking for her for so long.

I guess if there’s people you can’t let go of, you probably have something you need to tell them. I never told my mother what a bitch she was, ergo, my mother issues. Never fully called out my sister on her lying and cheating. Never said a lot of things to a lot of people – mostly because I couldn’t at those times in my life. Couldn’t articulate what was going on with me. And those people return to me. Their words haunt me, the memories of injustices left unchallenged drives me mad. Sometimes so much that I have to search them out, find them, say what needs to be said, because writing it out for myself just don’t cut it. It doesn’t release me from my bonds. I have to put it out there. I owe it to the younger me.

Gods, I’m scared.

What if it doesn’t work? I’m expecting some lightening of my load here. Some part of me thinks I’ll breathe easier after saying whatever it is I think I need to say. Will it? I think if I can address those times when I’ve been accused of more than I’m guilty of, perhaps I’ll view myself in a better light. Stop beating myself up so much. It’s hard, though. Hard to say I’m a little bit guilty. In my experience, once you admit to any bit of guilt you might as well go hang yourself. You’re guilty, full on, no exceptions, go straight to the guillotine. Or, just shove your toes in the fire. We’ll turn them as we sit fit.

Guess I can’t lose much of anything.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Chicken Shit

I guess every generation has its stories. For my grandmother, it was the model T. For my mother, it was the death of Kennedy. I lived through it; I was there. And we each came away with our own perspective. One of my grandmother’s favorite quotes was ‘Men have a place; it’s six feet under’. My mother always harped at me ‘don’t become dependent on any man’. I have to deal with being tagged a cougar or a MILF.

And dare I say how completely disappointed I am in society today? How quickly women’s problems have been shoved to the background in the face of racial tensions, religious fighting, and every other issue de jour you can think of? Yeah, yeah, I’m told, but that’s yesterday’s problem. Today it’s police violence, terrorism, blah-de-blah. And somehow, it’s always from a man’s perspective…

Just another diss by our male dominated society. Because no matter what issue you want to bring up, women are on the bottom of the pile. Our concerns come last. Our voices are heard last (if at all).

And we’re supposed to feel good that there’s the occasional Angela Merkel out there. That every once in a while, one of us is allowed – let’s not mince words here – allowed to come to the forefront.

You wanna talk about silent majorities? Then you need to address the women on this planet.

Oh, I’m becoming militant in my feminism. The more I see and learn, the more militant I become. And nothing makes you aware of these subtle disses throughout history than writing historical based stories. I’ve found the words and set-ups I’m using in my upcoming script to be extremely current. Seventy bleeding years and not much has changed.

That’s my fucking point.

Take away the historical setting, the Russian names, and you have a story that fits today’s attitudes towards women. The same struggles. The same blame. The same unspoken need to be twice as good as any man in order to earn half the respect.

This is the whole underlying reason for the script. To really show it. These women were pushing through the glass ceiling LONG before the equivalent shake up happened in the West, and here we are, SSDD (which in this case, should be read as same shit different decade).

But I digress…

Asked my bro, who’s ex-military, quite a few questions about some of the day to day stuff of military life. Like, do majors run around saluting each other, or do they use first names because they’re the same rank? Is it unreasonable for me to think a group of soldiers might sneak off for a little party in the middle of this war? I got a load of good info, including some really strong ideas for what might be stolen from the men’s regiment. The general story proved believable, even to a military person. So far, so good.

Hit the gym hard yesterday. So hard I was falling asleep around 9:30 last night. My arms are fucking killing me. Moved up on the free weight exercises, and ho-ly hell! Can I feel it!

Today was my last Thursday language lesson before the summer break. We had a few visitors and spent our time walking through the local parks, talking about the artwork scattered here and there. It was a pleasant change. There’s a language course over the summer, but it’s €50, and I just don’t see being able to cough that up right now. Things are too tight.

One look at my hair should tell anyone that.

Have to call my dermatologist for a refill on a prescription. Ugh. Dutch, Dutch, Dutch. You’d think I’d be able to get over this, but it seems no matter who I talk to, they end up using new words I’ve never heard before. Then I get flustered, and anxious, and the existing Dutch in my head goes out the window. Doesn’t help that I just don’t like phones.

Tomorrow is my last Friday language lesson before the break. Then I’m back to drop off my stuff and head out to theatre rehearsal – so my day on, day off exercise thing has a snag this week. Thought I might head over today, but…I’m still tired, it’s hot and humid, and I can’t imagine pushing myself after walking all morning.

Ah, well. If I’m that concerned I can get my fat ass down on the floor and do some abdominal exercises. Any takers? (Obviously not, as I continue to sit here in front of my computer and contemplate getting up to only (1) pee, or (2) grab a sugary cola from the ‘fridge.)

My brain is rebelling, and daydreaming over my very cute physiotherapist. Thought I’d trained myself out of that. It’s so easy to slip back into it, though. Now I ponder asking him to this theatre production. One of those I wanna ask you out but I’m too chicken so I’ll do it this way things. Push the comedy, the fun, tell him I don’t know many people and it would be good to bring a few audience members in with my first role (always add in the sympathy vote), it would make a great date for him and his girlfriend (a fish to find out if he’s still dating someone), and that it would be great to buy him a beer afterwards (a fish for time, and to see if I pick up any signals outside his office). And, honestly, doing it this way, if he says no or doesn’t show up, he’s rejecting the idea of sitting through an amateur theatre production, not me, right? Or, at least, that’s a foothold I can build for myself.

Gods, I’m chicken shit.