Thoughts and thanks

Ninety minutes.

I’m not a big phone talker. Maybe when I was 14, but not since then. Use the phone to make a date or a plan to talk in person. So much better! But last night, I was on the phone for an hour and a half with S, the casting director from the film. Unexpected? Absolutely. But not unwanted, even tho the call came in around 10 at night (she’s a night owl).

I think I might have found a real friend.

Heard about the last day of filming, which went great. Heard how much everyone missed me, which felt great. And then, it was just talk. Talk about life, relationships, self confidence, our past…Well, we had a long conversation, so we covered a lot.

She said I was a role model. That she thought I was brave. I’m a bit stunned. Me? Brave? Maybe in front of the camera, but other than that I know how deeply chicken shit I tend to be. Yet, there it was: I was tagged as brave. I think that might be the first time in my life I’ve earned that particular label. I don’t feel like a role model. But then, I’m older. I’ve let a lot of stuff drop. I used to worry about people finding me attractive. Now I think about being a good person. I used to worry about saying too much, being too blunt. Now I state my opinions simply, without an argumentative tone in my voice. I understand how, as a younger woman, that might look brave and like someone you want to emulate. And good if that’s what it is! If I can take one day off of another woman’s internal suffering because they admire how I deal with life or men or politics or whatever, then I’ve lived a life worth living. I know how long I’ve sat in the shit. I don’t think anyone deserves to feel as bad about themselves as I have.

And I am so tired of seeing women tear themselves down. That shit that surfaces from competitiveness and petty jealousies. The nasty comments behind the back and to the face. The use of male branded put downs, male dominated ideals, male led lives. We have allowed ourselves to be led around the ring by our noses, just like the pieces of meat so many misogynists see us as. And those of us caught in that web deny it: I’m not jealous; she’s just a whore.

Can we be honest? Can we say that a lot of that surfaces because we’re all dick hounds after a good fuck? Because we all want this fairy-tale ideal we were fed from birth, that a perfect life includes a husband who has a good job? Okay, I know I’m ignoring the lesbians (sorry) and the non-sexual people out there. I’m making a point. This shaming of women BY women comes out of competition. It’s insidious, and it’s been instilled in us for forever.

Every time we do it, we play their game. Every time we do it, we support their foul opinions of us. Every time we do it, we kill ourselves and hamper our futures and the futures of all our daughters.

It’s got to stop.

If the only way you feel you can get ahead in life is to tear someone else down, you’re not making any progress.

I guess considering the world these days, that attitude alone should make me a role model. Embrace it, Beeps. You’re a knight in shining armour. Hm. And thus, comes understanding of how roles are thrust upon us. You just…live long enough that you become an oddity. An oddity that people admire, but an oddity nonetheless. And then they tell you, and you begin to monitor your own behavior. You start to become what they see you as, because a part of you doesn’t want to let them down. So you try. You reach for the bigger part of yourself. You keep doing that, keep trying.

And so you become.

That’s not to say you buy your own marketing. Therein lies the problem. I guarantee you that at the base of any star’s suicide is a deep seated belief that they didn’t really live up to their image. Maybe it’s not the ultimate tipping point, but it’ll be in the mix. It’s a big and ugly problem. Because people need those heroes. People need role models, the personalities larger than life to inspire and lead them thru dark times. But it can feel like a lie. I’m not really that good, I’m not really that smart, or that talented, or that beautiful… You need to balance what is and what is perceived.

Tread lightly, oh walkers of life! You never know when you will become. And you never quite realize, from where you are, just how difficult that balancing act is.

So. I have a friend. Admiration. Dizzying amounts of respect. It is as tough to take as the opposite. Especially after years of having no friends, no admiration, and no (or little) respect. And I don’t want to fuck it up. I want friends. I want people in my life. People who are happy to see me, people who are sad if I’m ill. People to share things with, because fun is amplified a thousand fold when you share it.

I am…at a loss. I don’t know why I’m getting this outpouring. I don’t know what I did so right to deserve it; if I did know, I’d keep doing it. All I can do is be the brightest me I can be. Listen, care. Slow down enough to really interact. Share my sense of humor. Hug people when I know they need it.

Waking every day with a sense of thankfulness. It’s totally new. I’ve had it for short bursts, over little accomplishments. This feels big, and solid. Like a river of lava flowing thru my life: huge, encompassing, and burning away all those truly inconsequential things that have been hampering me for so very long.

Thank you.

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May I have another?

Behold, the knees. I’m on the left, with the grey socks. My 21 year old co-star is on the right. After cut was called yesterday, we went up to change clothes and compare bruises. Don’t know how many times we ended up doing the death scene, but as you can see, we put everything we had into it.

This has to rank as the number one experience of my life. Been trying to think what might even come close to topping it, and I’m drawing a blank. The dedication of these young film makers – barely any sleep, push, push, and keep a great attitude. The sheer professionalism of them, from the camera work to the thought behind the shots. And damn! They were all so nice. I think I’m in love with each and every one of them.

That love translated into good work. When it came time for the big scene I drew it up – the tears, the despair over watching as your own child turns and kills you. Time after time. It was right there, behind my belly-button, and all it took was a bit of breathing. M, my costar, locked eyes as I went into it. And the further I went, the further she went. We began to feed off each other – the kind of thing you hear about on celebrity talk shows. The room faded, the crew were a background noise. It was the two of us, staring into each other’s eyes, falling into a world of pain and torment. And it. was. glorious. The best work I’ve ever been able to do, because everyone around me was that good.

…To be able to do that… To have an opportunity like that… I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how much it means to me.

Oh, Goddess! And to work with an actor who could match me!! That was another world. Gone were any inhibitions, any doubts. Had the director asked us to strip naked to do the shot, I think we could have without blinking an eye. That’s how intense and personal it was.

My hands never stopped leaking an oily sweat the entire shoot. That was the mania: uncontrolled, and oozing out of me even when I didn’t want it. But I didn’t shake. I didn’t falter. I didn’t back down or compromise. And it all got funneled into the role.

And there’s a story within a story here. Because not only was the shoot itself fabulous, the time around the shoot was fabulous, too. We did the filming at the home of the casting director, and her parents were around for most of the time. Her father honored me several times – he tried my homemade cordial for my voice, loved it, and promptly shoved some money in my hands to buy two bottles. He shared a family photo album of a trip to India. He spoke to me of his daughter, and his life. And his daughter! Oh, she’s a bright one! Found myself, as usual, spilling my guts in that no-nonsense way I seem to have these days. She said, ‘It’s kind of like therapy for you, isn’t it? I can tell by the way you say these things’. And yes, she’s right. I knew that a while ago. She’s just the first person to bring it up. She also told me how difficult it was for her to think of me as 52. ‘You’re very young. Like part of you hasn’t aged at all.’

Oh, I’d love to spend more time with her, and with her family! Good people. Straight talk, unafraid to say those things that need saying. Unafraid to hear what I have to say.

…I’ve had a taste of being a film star. Not just in name, but truly being a film star. Because it’s not what you do, it’s how people treat you that makes all the difference. I can only assume this translates into whatever field you study; that finally getting the accolades and notice you’ve worked so hard for always feels this good. I have been passed over so much – wait! I’ve allowed myself to be passed over so much! better! – , and these past two days are a big wake-up call on that front. Gratitude. Real gratitude for who I am and what I do. I feel accepted. In full, and without having to apologize for my weird sense of humor or the funny voices that sometimes burst out of me or anything else I do.

This is amazing. Absolutely amazing.

And all I want to do is fall down on my very bruised knees and scream THANK YOU! at the top of my lungs because prayer is far too quiet for what I feel.

This is me, actualized. In total. Giving it my all. Burning the way I know I was made to burn. Not turned away. Not ignored because other people were uncomfortable or didn’t know what to do or say. I was watched. I was admired – and TOLD. I was – dare I say it? – loved as much as I loved. I saw it and felt it. I was hugged not because that’s what you do at the end of filming, but because our emotions were overbrimming, because we knew we’d all shared something special and unique.

…I’ve no real plans, other than showering and babying my injuries. Thinking of maybe making a surprise visit on Monday to the set. I still owe the casting director’s dad a bottle of my cordial, and, well… As I was saying good-bye, and telling everyone how sad I was that it was over, someone said ‘you could always come visit on Monday’ and that’s just been turning in my brain overnight. I could see everyone again. Take care of the cordial, and pick up the lights. Drop off my expenses.

The more I consider it, the more reasons I find for going one more time.

Thank you. May I have another?

I ain’t that dumb

I do not feel like an idiot. That’s gotta be number one today, because so often I do feel stupid. …It’s awful nice not to be beating myself up for something or the other.

Exercise. Back at the gym on my regular rotation. Took the cross-trainer up to level 4 and blew through my first km at 6 minutes 44 seconds. Ran – RAN – more than four km in my 30 minute stint (that includes slowing down for 10 minutes of back peddling). I’m gonna break 5km in 30 minutes before I’m done! Yesterday was tough, naturally. New level, new push, far more aching in my ass muscles. It was worth it.

Language class went well. Maybe my Thursday teacher has been talking to my Monday teachers. Don’t know. What I do know is I was given more time to collect myself before answering, and not once was I given a disappointed look – even if I wasn’t perfect. The other students laughed at me; I was given a very long sentence to read aloud, and kept repeating it to try and pick up the full rhythm of the words. But my teachers nodded at me and smiled in agreement when I said ‘It’s like music’. There’s a cadence to speaking fluently that you need to master. Certain syllables get emphasized in a sentence to help convey meaning. I guess some people never hear that. I can’t help but hear it. …Was satisfied to intercept a look between two other students at one point of the class. We have a know it all (even worse than ME) who interrupts everyone so she can give her answers. I was concerned my irritation with her was purely my thing, my bipolar, my anger. No! Caught that look and I knew – I knew – I wasn’t alone. In fact, one of the people involved in the look caught my eye and smiled, bringing me into the joke. It felt good to be included. Got to say I’m now concerned about this know it all woman. Oh, she irritates the hell out of me. She doesn’t really talk to anyone during break, just sits by herself. But…I can’t help but feel for her. Cultural differences, personal differences…who knows what makes her tick? I don’t. But I do know what it feels like to be on the outside. Too often I’ve been in her shoes – the know it all no one can stand. I just…I don’t know that I want to be the one to work so hard to be nice to her. And…it was so pleasant to sit at a table with several other students, drinking coffee and chatting in Dutch. So light. I want more of that. Is that wrong of me?

…I am THRILLED to find the theatre group has collapsable knives and a prop toy gun. No worrying, no fretting, no re-thinking the death scenes. I can move forward with the thriller trilogy without massive re-writes. Yea! I didn’t really want to give up my final scene with the gun. It’s powerful. And the knives – that’s just icing on the cake. The second act can stand as is.

Ready to finish Taman today and get it off my system. Might even devote ten minutes of brain power to looking at the submission requirements.

And writing… I’m beginning to write in Dutch. I have a little story thought out, front to end. I think I can handle the language needed to write it. It’s a kids’ story, nothing earth shattering. But it’ll be my first attempt at really writing in the language. Strange, thinking in Dutch. Strange, hearing the turns of phrase in my head. Not fully there yet, but I’m close. Very close. I know this will just be another step. There’s still many more to go before I’m fully proficient. But I look forward to really trying my hand at a narrative. My own story, thunk up outta my brain.

Yeah…(extra space left for dreaming my dreams).

Two days ’til I turn 52. Really can’t quite believe that number. I thought I’d be dead by 40. No reason in particular, I just felt I was gonna die rather early. Now I almost feel like I’ve lived beyond my sell-by date. Doesn’t help when I read news of David Cassidy dying. His picture was up on my wall when I was a kid. People my age are dying. Every day. My friends and comrades are vanishing into memory. Makes me think even more over my own mortality. Makes me wonder when my body clock will go off, when I’ll hear the word ‘terminal’. Will I feel ill and tired? Or will it come at me when I’m at the top of my game? It’s the latter I worry about.

Have an appointment with my very cute physiotherapist today. Don’t really feel I need it – and that’s a good thing. I’ll push my next appointment out even further. Maybe I’ll be able to take my visits down to 4 a year. Wish I could break thru the patient-doctor barrier with him – and not just because I find him so damned attractive. He’s a nice guy, and easy to talk with. He could be a friend if the situation were different.

Now there’s something to get me into trouble: friendships with men. I prefer them, on the whole – right up to the point where the man gets a little drunk, or a little bold, and finally says to me that he’s always fancied me and why didn’t we ever hook up? Oh, fuck. I’m leery of that now. ‘Cause it’s just not there. It could be, if I gave up all sorts of ME. I’ve been sexual, and could be again. I just. don’t. wanna.

I operate best as a big kid. Bumbling around, making observations no one wants to hear, learning, watching, digesting it all and spitting it back out. I don’t want to be distracted by grown-up stuff. That’s what makes me feel like an idiot.

And I ain’t that dumb.

BOOM! There it is.

I had a mooie (beautiful) letter, but my teacher still found half a dozen corrections to make…

Language class. OMG. It’s a bit of boot camp for my brain. After a week off, I faced three in-class tests to find out how much we remembered and retained. Oh, I know I didn’t do well! I had NO dictionary, NO smart phone to access an online dictionary, NO idea what 60% of the words were. Well, if they really wanted to know exactly where I am, they did well, ’cause there was no hiding my ignorance. Think I might have been passable on present tense – though things like ‘humanity’ or referencing large groups of people as singularities still gets me to fuck up the verb tense. But the past tense! Ach, now there I was truly horrible. Did my best, but I’ve only got the grammar rules half learned, and it was embarrassingly evident as I worked my way through the paper. Still, I have to give myself a little credit. I managed to work my way thru the paper – something not everyone in the class was able to do (the tests were timed).

And homework: five or six sheets to fill in, plus another letter. One teacher said get used to it; she’s gonna ask us to write a letter every damned week. AAaaargh! I was also asked if I’d be ready to start a new book in Dutch next week, so the pressure is on for me to finish reading the one I’ve got.

Spoke to the only man in the group while we were on coffee break. Actually, he talked to me – and that’s something for me to note: he might be feeling a little lonely. All the other women in the group are Muslim, and they sort of group together and speak half Dutch and half Farsi. Knocks me out of the conversation. He’s left out, too. Better learn his name, and get used to his accent (rather heavy). He seems very open, and wants to talk. I’ve no issue with that, and I appreciate the time to try some free-flowing Dutch conversation. Had to laugh to myself, though. We did the standard beginner Dutch conversation: hello, how are you, how long have you lived here, where do you come from? When I told him I was born in Wisconsin – well, that was too vague. What’s the capital? He asked. I told him; he didn’t know it. I asked if he knew the Great Lakes. He didn’t. Finally got that ‘aha’ look on his face when I told him it was near the Canadian border. THAT’S how big you have to get when discussing something not on the coast in the US. People over here tend to think New York, L.A., Texas, and Florida. They forget everything in between.

As of today, I’ve got 8 readers coming to my script read thru. Three still to hear from. Spent time graphing out the speaking roles. I’ll need to do some doubling, and I want a good idea of which roles can handle that and which roles can’t. Last time the group read one of my scripts, I was a bit more lackadaisical. I just asked for volunteers for each part. This time, I’m choosing. I noticed in the first read thru that L, the director’s girlfriend, was a bit disruptive. Ticked me off at the time. But I’ve got to know her a little better now, and I realize she was probably just bored in the first read thru. So, this time, I’m asking her to read the starring role. She’ll be speaking in every scene but one – very little time for her to get bored. Thinking about the other roles, too. A couple of people are coming in from outside Rotterdam just to be there for me, and I want to make sure they get juicy parts. Actually, I don’t want anyone to get bored – another reason to double up roles that are well written and intense but aren’t in every scene.

And I’m talking with the director on the thriller trilogy. Sent him the first part, talked about recording bits for it. We’re beginning to discuss this like it’s a given fact, like the decision to do it has already been made. Sure hope he has some pull with the board. Wonder if he’s willing to say ‘Listen, I’m the director and I really like this, so we’re doing it’. That would be cool. I think, tho, that I’ll need to sell it to a few other people. Good to get the director’s thoughts, input, and attention now. No reason I can’t go in there with him on my side.

Funny how time seems to collapse the closer you get to a set date. Last week, I had all the time in the world to stretch my mental muscles, sit in sloth, and do whatever. This week I must adhere to an ever-increasingly strict schedule. Saturday is the last performance. Ran thru my lines last night. Had to check the script once, because my dialogue depends on my partner’s dialogue and I needed his verbal cue to kick off my memory. Half did the voice. Some lines I can’t say without the voice, some lines I can. Saved my throat as much as possible. Found the laugh (my bro is looking forward to me being done with this role so I stop snorting when I laugh). Found the physical tics. Found the attitude. I’ll need to do this a few more times; I hid Wendy well away under my writer mania. Time to dig her out.

Feel very buoyed up by everyone’s response to my read thru request. Feel very excited by the push from my teachers. And strangely enough, long, long ago, I did a numerology reading on myself. 51 was the age. A strange coming together of all things in my life; a high point. Didn’t think much about it at the time.

But BOOM! There it is.

Changeable

Autumn. A changeable time. Spring is changeable, too, but it tends to show it’s youth in its changeability with brash rains and persistent snows. Autumn, on the other hand, is mature. Still changeable with warm days and cool nights, but there’s a dignity about the season that spring lacks. Maybe it’s the smell in the air; that aged scent of decaying leaves that makes autumn a merry but sombre event. There is time to rejoice, but there is also time to reflect.

For me, the months following summer are often a physical relief from too much heat and a happy return to school and social contact. While I’ve had only a few weeks of heat to deal with this year, I have had a distinct lack of social contact while writing, and I found myself actually pleased to get back to the classroom and see people I know.

Thursday was, as usual, a one-on-one thing (meaning the other student didn’t show). I’m not as nervous as I once was with my Thursday instructor. Perhaps it was because I didn’t get corrected on my Dutch over the summer, so I grew a bit cocky. Perhaps it was because the Dutch I do know got cemented deep into the inner workings of my brain. Whatever reason, I found myself sweating less than usual. Which was good, because our table was approached by an administrator, talking more Dutch than I could keep up with. Sheets of information were passed to me. Ah. In the time of changeability, our class is being moved. And broken up. Sad to say, but other than my instructor, I may not see the people I’ve begun to get to know in that lesson again.

I looked forward to Friday, despite being a bit anxious after finding another student’s phone number in my notebook and remembering a promise to contact her over the summer. Bad me! That notebook got tucked away in July and I completely spaced my promise. Walked into the lesson, got the ‘Cheer’s’ effect hello – Hello! (or Goede Morgen, in this case) – to find out that this lesson was also getting broken up, I was to attend the Monday lessons beginning 25 September, and after those lessons begin I’m not supposed to return to Friday lessons. Why? Monday is an advanced lesson, and Fridays are returning to ABC level. …Can’t say my teachers are wrong. I need a faster class. Still. *sigh* Same effect as Thursday. The people I got to know aren’t following me to the higher level, so my tenuous friendships will die before they get a chance to really grow.

Also wasn’t good to come home and hear my brother so down about his lesson. He’s stuck with a volunteer who’s got no idea how to proceed. Just a lot of dithering around with any actual teaching. Told my bro to ask to transfer to the Friday lesson. They’re far more structured in their approach, and they’re still on the basics. Don’t need my one real support in life to get angsty and jealous over the fact I’m learning the language faster than him.

And me? …I pulled words out of my brain I’ve never used before. Heard more, understood more… Even received a rare compliment from my teacher on my communication ability. Other than my racing brain, I could almost – almost – make the switch to Dutch. I’ve got enough to survive.

…Paid for my gym membership for September and got a whole bunch of Dutch that took me by surprise. First, I wasn’t expecting a lot of Dutch (always an issue). Second, (once again) I ran into a lot of words I hadn’t heard before. Third, I found my six month membership was up, and I was asked if I wanted to continue on another six month term. …Really? I’ve been going to the gym for six months now? I was shocked. Shocked that that much time had passed. Naturally, I signed up for another six months. The guys behind the counter grinned. Everybody knows me – by sight, at least. I’m that person that super-pushes. The one with the red face and the sweat stains. My work has paid off in strength, if not weight loss. I’m more than twice as fast as I was, three times as strong, with even longer endurance. Stairs? No problem. Run to catch the metro? No problem. My arms are gaining muscle mass and my heart is used to racing at 150 bpm. I can do these things again.

Lots on the chop block today. Exercise, shopping, cleaning, napping, baking, writing. Will not get to all of it. Will not even try. My attention span is as changeable as the season, and I won’t try to second guess myself on what I’ll do or not do.

But…and… I must admit to a fleeing wish to travel. To fly with the birds, and see autumn from above. Just…get out. When I was younger, in the states, I’d hop in my car and drive. Take any and every road that looked interesting. Never worried about where I’d end up; I always kept maps around. I just wanted to see other landscapes, breathe other air. I’ve got that same feeling on me today. That desire to go, go, go, without any real direction other than whatever takes my fancy at that instant.

So, who knows where I’ll end up, or what I’ll end up doing? Not me. The only thing I do know is that whatever I do, I’ll do it because I want to do it right then and there. I’ve got an instant gratification thing going on: think it, want it, do it.

That’s my changeable nature.

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.

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.

In my mind

Opened up my outline and began writing in earnest this week. I feel almost as if I’m writing a term paper. My outline is so detailed I can’t stray far from it, so it’s just check the next line, think, and write it out. My biggest stumbling block right now is my determined decision to use zero contractions when my characters talk. It’s a little dialogue trick to emphasize the people are not native English speakers. But I don’t want to sound stilted or weird, so I must think from time to time and turn my phrases so they sound both foreign and natural (using Tolstoy as a big example). In other words, I must think more like a Russian in my dialogue. It’s a mind set I can use, but it’s like anything else: once my head is there, it’s difficult to pull out. My inner dialogue has shifted to a bad Russian accent (much like Moose and Squirrel), and I find myself giggling over idioms and sayings running thru my brain.

But I’m discouraged, even as I write. The Russian allegations, the hysteria, the hacking and propaganda accusations – Gods, I’d have to be Hemingway to get this play produced in today’s clime.

I’m still putting my all into it.

Realized more than ever that my first act must be both introduction to and education about these women. Too many people I speak to have never even heard of this regiment. So the first act may be the furthest from the ‘truth’. I have to explain the situation, their bad equipment, the sexism and opposition, and why the regiment was formed in the first place all thru dialogue. In real life, this was all known. In the script, we have to allow the audience to discover this – educate them. It’s a fine line, to give all that info without being heavy handed. But I think I’m managing to do it, through personal perspectives and stories.

Case in point: the soviet agent. Every soviet regiment had an agent, called the Politruk, attached to it. The Politruk was the long arm of communism. Often times, they were harsh and unforgiving – and just as suspicious of their troops as they were of the enemy. But how many Americans know that? How many would even recognize the word ‘Politruk’? Not many. So I introduce the term, but make it clear thru the dialogue exactly what this person’s role was in the military. A similar thing happened with the woman responsible for forming this regiment. No one in the US (or very, very few) will know who she is, even tho she’s a well known aviation star in Russia. So I have to give some background on her, explain why she’s a big deal – even tho she’s not even in the play. Her story is related thru another character’s personal history – this is the woman who inspired the character, who showed her that women can be more than just mothers and wives.

The entire first act will just be introducing all the characters, their relationships to one another, and enough historical information so the audience will understand the story. Like I said, I gotta stick to that outline. Eleven characters to give fully rounded roles to…that takes a lot of words.

Today’s a pimple on the ass of summer. We’ve had several cool days, back in the mid 20s. Today’s temp is shooting up to 30 or higher, out of the blue. And we’re supposed to pop with severe thunderstorms later on this evening. I sure hope so. My tiny bedroom always stays three to five degrees warmer than anywhere else in the house.

Off, soon, to the gym. Get my arse moving. Hopefully after that, I’ll still have a few hours to tinker with the script and get some more work done.

Heard from my acting partner, who is working as an extra in an upcoming film. Passed my head shot on to him, and he promised to pass it on to the casting director. Also heard from the director’s girlfriend, who put together the promo poster. While she wants to use photos of all of us in various promotional shots, they’ve decided to keep the photo with me and my partner as THE picture. Think I’ll get a large print out for my wall. I’m pleased she responded; never sure how that relationship is going. Doing my best to be warm, friendly, and non-threatening.

And I gotta ask a Dutch native about something. A Dutch guy, specifically. Some of the young men who work at the gym have a habit of winking at me every time I’m in there. I get winks when I check in, and winks when I leave. Honestly, I don’t know if that’s a ‘hey, you’re an older woman but you’re a tough broad, so I’ll give you a wink’ or a ‘hey, you’re an older woman and I’d like to do you’ thing. Or maybe it’s just a thing shop owners do. The Dutch say hello to me as I walk far more than other nationalities. So maybe winking at regular customers is just a friendly gesture. A ‘we’re all in this together’ thing. I don’t know. Wish I wasn’t so dumb about these things.

Very little thought to anything that frightens me. Too wrapped up in everything else. That’s good; saving me from needless anxiety. I worry sometimes that I use my work to distract me from all that. That all I’m really doing is pushing it away.

But, hey. A little distance from my fear isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a mental holiday from myself. Leave those doubts behind. Allow myself to feel powerful for a little bit. Sexy, even.

So in answer to the ever-present summer question are you going away on holiday?, the answer is I already am on holiday. In my mind.