What only I can do

Yea. Finally, a day when I caught some breaks. Trains that ran on time, schedules that were correct, even people that remembered me and my bro from our attempt to take care of this last week. In fact, Amsterdam was the Amsterdam I remember, not the bitch-Goddess I experienced Thursday. She was quiet, dressed well, and kind.

Amsterdam was also, on an August day, totally empty. I’ve been in August, and seen the tourists. Madness. Can’t even get down the pavement because there’s too many people, usually dragging suitcases behind them. Hell! I’ve seen Amsterdam busier in January than yesterday. Took me a bit to realize it. Rotterdam is always slower, and emptier than the capital. But by the time 10 a.m. came around and the hot spots for tourists were still half empty, I knew this wasn’t just a freak Monday morning occurrence. This was for real. The closed shops and restaurants confirmed it – tourism is down. Way down.

While bad for everyone who’s building their retirement funds from tourist income, it was a real pleasure for me and my bro. Easy walking, a cool day with just a hint of sun – Amsterdam became the fairy tale doll’s house it was when we first visited. We wandered through the canals and streets. Even ventured into Jordan to sit down in Paradox for a smoke. – And all that on top of getting into the consulate early, getting the paperwork for both of us done at the same time, and getting out (believe it or not) two minutes before our appointment was actually supposed to begin.

Came back and napped to gather some strength for evening rehearsals. I was nervous; haven’t put much time into running my lines over the break. No reason to worry, though. Had a couple of stumbles, called for a line prompt twice – stuff that shows I’m out of practice – like everyone else.

I did, however, have reason to recall my initial assessment of these people: snobs. Must keep that in mind; just because they’ve deigned to offer me a role this time does not make them nice, and it sure as hell does not make them my friends. We’re finally doubling up on nights, with two duos going thru their stuff. Had to actually pause and ask the girlfriend of the director to stop talking – she was just chatting away (rudely) with her partner while I and my partner ran our bit. Nothing new there; been reminding myself I tagged her as a bitch and I should keep that label in place. Then, after all was done, the group hung out and talked for 20 minutes. About money. To the point where I found it vulgar – that’s the word I used, that’s the only word my head screams – VULGAR. For 20 goddamn minutes, it was this amount per hour, that amount per minute, I find thirty euro an hour offensive, I make 35 euro a minute, I won’t get out of bed for less than a hundred an hour – etc., etc., etc. Completely and utterly disgusting. I will not sit through that again. I will simply leave – because if I don’t, they’ll get an earful about being completely out of touch with real life.

And today I hardly feel like passing any of my written work to them for consideration.

That makes me sad, because I’d started to hope. Hope that maybe I’d find a friend in the group. Hope that maybe something good – like getting a play of mine produced – might grow from this small start. Last night shattered all that. These people are base, and conceited, and miserly. They will only give – grudgingly – if they receive.

I walked back to the metro alone, deep in thought. Reminded myself they may all own million dollar homes, but that also means they’ve got million dollar problems. I honestly found them so repellant I considered dropping out from the play. But I auditioned and took the part for me, not for them. I’ll do what I need to for me – just like they’d do what they feel they need to do for themselves. I will not, however, extend that friendship branch again. In rehearsal, they’re okay. Outside of rehearsal, they’re triggering me badly. I’ve had plenty of that kind of people in my life. I don’t need to willingly pick more up now.

Just want to bring myself back to earth. Remind myself of the basics. Ignore all I was subjected to last night.

Perhaps, next time, I should stand and list out all my accomplishments and garnished praise. All those little facts that other artists would find irritating. After all, if they’re going to shove money issues in my face, I can retaliate by making sure (subtly) they all know I think they’re fuckers. Oh, my band is ranked number one in hard rock. My play got this praise. My book is doing so well! And the film my music is in has just skyrocketed with views! Millions, literally. I’d have to write a script out for myself to cover 20 minutes of this banality. But I could do it, just to stick it to them. Revert to statements like this every fucking time money comes up – which will be almost non-stop.

Mostly, tho, I remind myself they do this kind of thing because they feel small and unimportant.

And they are. All their grand ideas? Haven’t seen them create anything, just make money off of forms or time or whatever. Haven’t heard them saying their happy, either. Truly…how can anyone who talks all the time about money and how much they make be happy? And none are ‘successful’. There may be one or two who gets an acting role here or there, an extra in the back of a shot or maybe a line in some play, but none are famous, none are successful, none make a living at it.

I’m gonna go create. Write myself happy.

Do what only I can do.

That’s life

Life has returned. My memories are back in the closet, not forgotten, but filed away. Time to move on.

Writing is going well. Not enough time to do it lately. Seems it’s all run this errand, pick that up, and of course the ever present necessity to get to the gym and move so I don’t hurt so much. Haven’t even cleaned the house in I don’t know how long, and it shows it.

Today I’m keeping to my life commitment. Heading out with my brother to the comic book shop. Say hi to the guys. Hang out. Talk. Be a part of the world. Got to keep in practice with that, at least a little bit, or I’ll forget how to do it.

Been feeling very alone and lonely. The two don’t always go together, but right now they do. In the wake of my reaction to the news about L, I feel friendless. Want to change that, but I find my physical condition works against me. Last time I tried to schedule a get together with potential friends I woke up with laryngitis. Shit happens. Just the excitement of looking forward to getting out and meeting people can make me ill. Do that enough times to a potential new friend and they lose interest in pursuing a friendship. Seen it happen.

And I don’t like this double life I live. The reality is, my health isn’t good. I do fall ill very easily. I’m not strong. But then there’s my gym life: the nods and notice I get while working out. Maybe they’re not all dyin’ to do me, but they do acknowledge I work hard (beginning to think that most of the smiles I receive are ‘she’s a tough old bird’ type of thing). Most people drop out after an hour of exercise. Most people are shocked and think two hours is extreme. Oh, god, I could never make it for two hours! Then they look me up and down, decide that maybe not all physical strength translates into slim, tight bodies, and put me in that ‘healthy as hell’ category, which I do not deserve to be in.

…At least my physiotherapist understands.

Speaking of, looking forward to seeing him next week. Realized a long time ago our sessions are half physio and half talk therapy. Why can I do that? Why am I so open with someone like him, yet so closed if I see someone called ‘therapist’? One of those mysteries about myself I’d like to solve. …I need him on both levels right now. Despite my physical movement, I’ve got some pain building up. And although I don’t know what I’m going to say, I do know I’ll probably bring up L.

Been a few months since I’ve been able to get my hair done. Upshot is, I’ve got grey showing. Maybe for the first time in my life. A couple of silver hairs by each temple. I’ve looked at it closely in the mirror. It’s not unattractive. In fact, I find myself more distressed by the shaggy outgrowth look I’ve got right now than those grey hairs. …Don’t think I should wear my hair this long. It looks strange on my face. A 20 something tousled hair style on a 50 something woman. But what am I supposed to do? That’s my hair. It just looks that way, naturally. Hope to get it all spruced up before September.

Have not worn my orthopedics, despite the cooler weather. Do not want to wear my orthopedics. My cheap tennis shoes (with added insoles) are lovely: they give me plenty of support, and they don’t bite my feet at all. Plus they were a quarter of the cost of my orthopedics. But I’ll need to get back on that. No use in doing it in August; this entire country goes on holidays. Another thing to write in for September.

Bought some cheap eye gel and dark circle remover. Cosmetics that promise the impossible. But I figure any improvement is an improvement. And I’m guessing it helps to just go through the motions. Applying lotions, massaging them in – that’s a form of self love. I care enough about myself to do this, it says. Or at least that’s how I see it. So, I’m doing it, and hoping it will buy me a few years of looking not so tired and worn out.

Have let myself off the hook for tomorrow’s exercise. My bro is on me to read the final chapters in his book, one of the comic book guys leant me a run of stories by George Romero, and of course I have my own writing to get to. Today will largely be shot, between traveling to and fro and all the time spent visiting. Tomorrow is my make-up day: do the writing I should be doing today, finish up those comics, and start reading my brother’s work.

Wish these things didn’t always pile up on me.

…Wish I could just say no like so many people have said to me. I’m too busy with my own shit. Deal.

And that takes me right back to who I want to be. Do I want to be that person who’s always too busy for friends? Do I want to show the people I care about that I care about them, or will I just perpetuate that lip service shit my family gave to me? It always comes up for me at times like this. And I get angry, and pout, and whine that it isn’t fair, isn’t fair, isn’t fair…

But that’s life.

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.

I knew her

I called the number I found for L. There was a pause, while the lines made the long connections across the Atlantic. And then – a ring. My heart jumped. Two rings. What was it I was going to say? Three rings. I was ready to hear my old friend’s voice.

When a Midwestern drawl answered, I barely comprehended what was said. I kept on the line, listening as a pre-recorded message read off a list of extensions.

It was a company line.

Which means, of course, that the number’s been recycled. No one ever tells you that. That the new phone number you feel all shiny and happy about in your brand new home is probably from someone who died. Goddess! We pick the electronic bones of the dead.

Found a handful of photos. All of them were from one trip: our infamous Grand Canyon/birthday bash in Arizona. Most are too distant. L along the handrail by a huge backdrop. A few were taken at night, when we rented a limo to take us out to the clubs. I had a lousy camera at the time, and all of the nighttime pics are overexposed from the flash. But there’s one. One picture that shows the L I remember. We were in the car, taking some back roads to an out of the way hot spring we heard about. She’s driving, with sun glasses on. I must have told her to look at me for the pic; she turned, and in typical fashion of L at that time, she stuck her tongue out at me. That’s the picture. Not the ones of her and I trying to look grown up as we stood by the limo. Not the ones in the hats. That one, with her tongue sticking out. That’s the one that made me cry.

My brother was gone all afternoon; he’s found a band to work with and he was at his first rehearsal. When he came home, he was full of energy, full of stories about the day. I kept quiet, my responses limited to short exclamations of happiness on his behalf. It kept on that way all thru the evening: me wanting to bring all this up, yet saying nothing.

11 p.m. The last episode watched for the evening, I muted the tv. And in that heartbeat of silence, I told my brother what happened.

Not just about the phone call. About all of it. This obsession that came over me the last 48 hours. How, while waiting to make that phone call, I googled other things. Pictures and videos of my old home town. Walked the google street views from my old high school through the local village and up the hill to my dad’s house. Took a car trip along Lake Michigan. Places I’d travelled thousands of times in my youth. Places I could have driven blindfolded when I was 21.

There was little I recognized.

Buildings downtown, large skyscrapers – they’re still there. Still look the same. The lake is still there. Fair grounds: just as I remember.

But the trees were all different. Many were too tall, and now obstruct the view I grew to know as a young woman. Streets were widened. Shops had changed hands.

The more I looked, the more nostalgic I grew. It was a strange nostalgia, though. A ‘member-berry nostalgia. Because it wasn’t real. I knew that even as I felt those tugs at my heartstrings. These pictures didn’t include the heat, the humidity, the insects. The audio didn’t include the crassness, the ignorance, the bigotry. And even as I felt I’ve missed so much! I knew I hadn’t. I left because nothing ever happened.

Ended by searching my eldest brother. Figured I needed to see what info was available on him, someone I knew, before I could make a judgement on the info I had on L. Odd thing. I found a sales record of the family home in 2005. And a new address for my brother. He never mentioned selling the house or moving.

…You know, some idioms are like onions: so many layers, it takes a lot of peeling to get down to the core. You can’t go home is an idiom heavy on my mind today. Thought I fully grasped that one years ago. Turns out there was a whole other layer to it that I didn’t even know existed until it was ripped away.

I’m leaving the past behind. Letting it go. My brother agreed that, when we have a bit of extra cash, I can pay for a death certificate search for L through the state records. Just don’t know if I’ll ever hear anything from her daughter. For all I know, I was demonized in her eyes. The bad girl that led her mother astray. So I’ll rely on that cold confirmation of public records. But for me – I don’t want to lose today because I’m caught in memories of the past. So I’m snapping myself out of it. When I’m done with this post, it’s dishes and bed making, then off to the gym. Gonna run my lines for the play, and get some writing done. I’ll listen fully to my brother, engage in real conversation. Later in the week, I’ll take the metro downtown and just walk around, window shopping. Remind myself of where and when I am.

I could get that picture of L reproduced in a larger size. Get it framed, put it up on my wall. And maybe I will. But more than that, I want to write her. I don’t know that I’ll ever capture the person or entity I remember. I feel it my duty to try, though. She was and will always be someone who had a great influence over me.

And I have no doubt that I will see her again. Not in the same form, obviously. But I know we will meet again. Our friendship was one of those strange old soul things; we knew each other the moment we met in this life. It’s strange to say that, because I can’t honestly say I know that much about her physical life here. Who were her friends, other than me? I don’t know. What happened all those years we didn’t speak? I don’t know. But that…that’s surface stuff.

I knew her.

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.

Wallow

Fighting that down side. That ever present, soul dragging weight that refuses to let me feel good about myself. I know it’s bad. My work out routine should effectively kill off any bad feelings – yet here I am, day after the gym, working to feel anything other than flat or slightly irritated.

I wanna hide inside today. Watch too much tv, and smoke.

Got an email from the director. Seems we’re all getting together on one evening for promotional pix. Oh, don’t be so impressed. Our promotional pix will consist of someone grouping us together and capturing the moment on their smart phone (they’re all too modern to own an old fashioned camera). And, with no costuming or make-up…Can you see where I’m going here? I don’t expect much.

In fact, I don’t expect to be in the promotional photo at all. I expect the mysterious board will choose the prettiest people to be in the ad. Oh, they’ll take my photo a few times. But use it? I really don’t think so.

No serious writing yet. A few outline adds. A few times of looking at the outline and having my bro come in, look over my shoulder (the worst possible thing you could ever, ever do to me), and break my concentration to the point I close everything down. *sigh* And I’m glad his writing is going so well, his book has so many thousands of words, so many pages, so many graphics, so much. I’d like to concentrate on my own now, thank you very much.

Doing okay with the getting out of the house every day vow. At least, so far. Thinking I might take the metro down to one of the city’s charity shops today and take a look around. I really need something other than my six summer t-shirts and one set of shorts. Not that anyone has said anything to me. But I feel it. I don’t like it.

Heard from a friend, whose life makes mine look like a fairy tale. Honestly, I could write down everything that’s happened to this person and it would read like the most made up soap opera of all time. He’s had more bad news, naturally. Sometimes I wonder if he ever has anything happy happen to him at all. I never hear about it. Once in a while he’ll describe things as ‘fun’ or ‘pleasant’, but most of the time he talks about his pain, his anxiety, his money worries. And I’ve never heard him crack a joke. Twenty-five years of knowing this person. No jokes at all.

Makes me feel pretty lighthearted and frivolous in comparison.

Trying to cut back on caffeine at the moment. My morning coffee consumption just crept up and up, until I was almost at 5 large cups. I’ve read caffeine isn’t good for irritable bowel syndrome, so I want to cut back on it and see how my tummy does. Easier said than done. Caffeine really affects me, and cutting back one cup in the morning for two days in a row has already resulted in caffeine headaches and general sluggishness. Well, better now than in autumn, when I have a schedule I need to adhere to.

Maybe I’m due a day off. No cleaning, no exercising, no language, no rehearsing, no errands. Sit, and wallow.

I know my mind is not all happy-happy. Woke up yesterday with five bruises on my arm from my own fingernails. Seems I crossed my arms over my chest at some point in the night, then dug my fingernails into my flesh. That’s not an act of a happy subconscious.

And rain clouds are coming in. It’s not supposed to rain today!

That’s it. I’m wallowing. I liked the idea the moment I wrote it. I’m too tired, too full-on lately. Haven’t had an afternoon off since I don’t know when. Take a nap. Chill-ax.

Wallow.

Amen

After an intensive writing session yesterday, my rough combined outline is complete. Seven filled pages, single spaced. Three acts, four scenes each. The acts I already knew; the scenes were simple once I combined all the individual outlines. I’ve a few notes to insert, mostly to remind myself of someone’s motivation or to add in some wartime/pilot dialogue here and there. Still have to find some last names; even I’m not concentrating on those, and I certainly don’t expect the audience to. I need to bone up on a bit of mechanics on the planes, military etiquette, and I want to find and pull instructions for a correct salute for the Red Army.

Skipped out on gym exercise. By the time I was done writing, I was dead tired.

Today I hit the housework – dishes, garbage, recycling, hoovering, dusting, mirrors, sinks, toilet. Feels good, at the end of the week, to know I’ve completed all this work.

More than on schedule. That feels good, too.

Looking ahead. Been thinking of another thriller. Hate to say that a lot will depend on what theatres want rather than my creative impulses, but it’s true. I’ll write to fit their requirements, so if no one wants a thriller it’ll just sit in my subconscious…at least for now.

Wishing I had a different reward system in place. My falls backs are food and smoking – both of which I’m trying to avoid. It’s hard to find something to fill that gap.

Need to do some shopping. Take a hundred euro, and go to the stores. Find at least one other pair of shorts (I’ve only one pair I feel comfortable in), and something other than my endless run of T-shirts (which range from old white T’s with sweat stains under the arms to solid color T’s with burn holes in them; perfect for the gym but nothing else). And my underwear! Good Goddess, my mother will return from the dead just to DIE again if I ever get in an accident and someone sees them (the proverbial threat of my childhood about stained underwear).

My feet are healing slowly. The long, hot spell we had really did a number on them. The psoriasis I suffer from (thank you, RA!) flared up, as did a nasty case of athlete’s foot. I’m so embarrassed about how they look I won’t even consider wearing sandals right now, so I’m doubly thankful for the cooler temps we’ve been having.

I miss having a female friend. Someone to hang out with, go shopping with. Someone who’ll help me with my really poor taste in clothing. You know – the kind of friend you can spend hours talking to about nothing much at all. Or everything. Haven’t had that for a long, long time.

Goddess, and I miss having a job! Somewhere to go to during the week. Some manner of making money on a regular basis. Thinking I’ll do some volunteer work over the summer, if I can. Just to get me out and involved with people.

Saw a Buddha in someone’s window today as I was taking out the garbage, which got me thinking about prayer and supplication. I guess we all send out a little prayer to the Universe from time to time; please, let this happen or please help me. I don’t know if I actually can claim to have any faith. I lose it so often in the face of life’s obstacles. I feel so weak.

I doubt so much.

And there’s always that caveat – be careful what you ask for. Yeah, that haunts me….

But if I were to pray – and today being Sunday I can’t help but think about praying – I’d hope someone would hear me, and pity me, and grant me the following:

Grant me sustaining faith. Help me remember the good times. Give me the courage to make friends, to be understanding and kind. And guide me, somehow, to a place where I can take care of myself.

Amen.

How much?

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Me: There’s this high pitched ringing in my ear that doesn’t go away…it’s driving me crazy!

Nurse: Try this for a week.

A week! Forgive me if I start to just post Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz in future. I can’t hear much else. And insanity just around the corner has always been a danger for me….

Got outside the apartment for my physio appointment. A short span of fresh air did me good; I feel stronger mentally. Still the same physically – oh, with an added cough from the sinus spray they’ve got me on now (ugh). Today the winds are whipping and the rain pouring, so it’s a no-go zone for moi.

Heard from friends. Love them to bits for throwing me a life line when I needed it. Just a little direct contact means so much.

Feel a shift coming on. A life shift. It’s big, whatever it is. I hope it includes full acceptance of my age and physical capabilities. That’s what I’ve been struggling with. Being this side of cool. Let’s face it: I’ve never been here before and I don’t know how to handle it. My parents were two generations older than me and while they might have been cool at 20, they were already a long ways away from their coolness by the time I came around. My DNA siblings were never cool.

I did see a beautiful woman once, and it’s a memory I hang onto. She was old, older than old – full of wrinkles and sagging skin. And she stood proudly in the street, with her hair multicolored and a clubbing outfit hanging off her that probably should have been on a woman half her age. She defied me to see her. And I saw her. I saw her and smiled. Not because I thought she looked ridiculous. Not at all. It was because I was taking a picture in my head. I wanted to remember her always. That proud woman, thumbing her nose at every age convention. Yes, I thought. Now that’s something to aim for.

Oh, I want to be one of those people you hear about. Someone who skydives at 90 or runs a marathon or keeps their smile on no matter what misfortune befalls them. I fall short most days. There are still moments of energy and youth and optimism that burn so bright you can’t help but notice, but for the most part my feathers have lost their color and I have become a wallflower – passed by, and unnoticed. I know I’m mixing my metaphors. Who cares? I’m old enough to get away with a little madness.

I guess the only question remaining is: how much madness can I get away with?

This is me

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This picture is not me; it’s just really cool.

Two nights of uninterrupted sleep. I’m finally on the mend. Still spewing a rainbow of colors out of every orifice, but it’s less than it was. And I can stay awake for the entire day without a nap. Definite improvement.

Ran into a hiccup with immigration. They sent forms, we’re preparing answers. I don’t like that the process is held up, don’t like not having every t crossed or i dotted. Don’t like the fact my ID card is out of date, as is the stamp on my passport. Don’t like being told ‘relax, everything will be fine’ when it’s clearly not.

But I’m hanging on.

Tonight is the long awaited theatre group meeting. So, naturally, we’re inundated with rain. Wet, wet, wet – it’s been banging on the window since I went to bed. To add to my list of things I don’t like right now, I don’t like the idea of having to walk in this wet weather when I’m still not 100% healthy. I’m also in a bit of a dither over the meeting itself. What’s going to happen tonight? Will I get blown off? Again? My mind wants to take it to the extremes. Keep pulling myself back to the now, telling myself to allow things to happen rather than try to predict the future.

Heard from an online friend. We ‘met’ over ten years ago. Been correspondents ever since. He seems a decent enough guy. But it’s been since before the election that I heard from him. Wise man; he was anti-Hillary. Not that I was pro-Hillary; I wasn’t. I was (and am) anti-Trump. Still. He mentioned it, in passing – the whole election, the huge divide the country faces right now – and he said ‘I didn’t know what we were getting into’. Now how the hell am I supposed to say anything to that? Tough titties, dude? It’s one of those you made your bed now sleep in it times. Frankly I think anyone who didn’t work to stop that asshole deserves whatever the fuck they get. Unfortunately, all my friends who failed to stop 45 are also suffering, and that I don’t like to see.

Too bad the world won’t accept the idea of refugees out of America. They should; it’s far from free, and far from a pleasant place to live. But everyone buys the Friends myth: that yes, you can all live in a place like New York working on a barista’s salary. You can all have your hair done at expensive salons, wear the latest fashion, go out, buy things on minimum wage. Yeah (oh, and the apartments are big and rat and cockroach free). The same people also feel real bad about the gang on Gilligan’s Island. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of people out there like that. I’ve met people from around the world who absolutely 100% believe in the American dream – even when I, a native, born and bred, tell them what I’ve experienced. I understand how that happens. I had a very naive idea about what Middle Eastern countries were like, until I began to meet people who lived there. All I ever saw on the news was desert nations, desert cities. Dust. A scraggly tree standing somewhere, small and alone. I didn’t know about the forests, the mountains, the rivers and lakes. No one ever talked about them. No one ever showed them.

What we need right now (and feel free to take the idea and run with it) is a Video Free America. A place where ordinary people could post real videos of real places. Show the slums, the ghettos, the inner cities that look like they were hit by bombs. Show the abject poverty in the countryside. Tell your stories about not being able to afford health care, food, clothing. Talk about the long waits in government offices. Show the cost of food, the cost of things. Really and truly – not the Hollywood version. Because no one out here knows. No one out here can even begin to fathom how much you pay for anything. The only thing on par with costs in the US is rent. And even in that category, I’ve seen nothing in the EU that can touch the high rental costs of America. Not when hovels in the US cost so much, and equivalent rental costs on the continent give you a clean and safe living space. And let’s talk about public transport. I know there are trains in the Eastern US, even light rails in some cities. But can you hop on ANY public transport near your home and take it to the furthest reaches of your own country? I can. I can get to any place on the planet from where I live. Hop the metro, three stops to the train, two stops to Rotterdam Central, and from there the world is mine. Hell’s bells! Do you even HAVE public transport where you live?

…The core of me is so sick with the actions of the elite. Not just now, but always. Still reading Tolstoy, and a few chapters last night mentioned the annual income of some of the characters. Hundreds of thousands a year – and that’s during the 1800s. Imagine. I don’t care what currency you’re talking about; that’s a LOT of money. More than anyone needs. I’ve heard all the arguments: these elites are the patrons, the ones who paid the merchants and workers to make fine things, thus giving them an income and a ‘leg up’ in the world. That’s propaganda. It was the rich pissing on everyone’s heads back then, and it’s the rich pissing on everyone’s heads now.

Too political? Perhaps. It is my heritage.

The one thing I find is that the more I hear – excuses, lies, taunts – the more intransigent I become. It is not the higher path. I know that. But I will not climb back into my cave. I will not re-learn to fear what need not be feared. I will not re-learn to hate what need not be hated.

Been looking for the upside of 50+, and maybe this is it: the surety to stand by my convictions. The firm knowledge of what I’ll take and what I won’t take. There’s a quiet calmness that comes with it. Do what you will; my mind is already made up. And that part of me, that ‘last inch’ as the film V for Vendetta called it, you cannot touch.

This is me.