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.

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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.

A Different Kind of Wallowing

My mind needed that. Needed to shut down, no words, no thinking. I lulled it with television programs and films. And I woke up with this crazy idea in my head about my role.

Headed over to Hesseplaats and hit the cheap shop. Aha! Forty-nine cents for a pair of outrageously ugly hair clips and a whopping €1.79 for some small, ugly, red-rimmed reading glasses.

Kept my mouth shut about it. Went last night to the photo shoot/rehearsal, excused myself before pinning my hair up with the uber ugly hair pins (on either side of my head, sticking out in the fashion of a 12 year old; completely inappropriate for a 50 year old) and donned the glasses. Grins all the way around when I walked in. But still! No voice, no voice. Not until the first line. Then I let gave it to them.

My eyes scrunched up, as if I had problems seeing. My upper lip raised over my teeth in the ultimate nerd facial expression. And the voice! Nasal. Whining. Somewhere between Urkel and Fran Drescher.

The room exploded in laughter so loud it almost threw me.

Then it was the piece de resistance: the long, uncomfortable silence between my character and my partner. I’d tried a lot of things to fill the time, but nothing that felt really solid. Nothing that felt really funny. Not so anymore! I needed to get my phone on the table for a bit later on, so I decided this silence was the time to take it out of my purse and set it down. And what could be more natural than to take a facial tissue out and blow your nose after such a move? I made the noise through my mouth, of course. I can’t actually blow like that. It was loud, and long, and completely obnoxious. Something no one could speak over.

I was told, later, two things. One, of the other actors was laughing so hard she couldn’t catch her breath. Two, my partner almost lost his composure at that point and had to struggle to keep a straight face.

Afterwards, the director said only three words to me: We’re keeping it.

This is to say nothing of the fact that my partner and I were the only pair to have our lines fully memorized, to be this deep into choreography, to have the kind of sympatico needed to pull off this comedy.

I went for it. Full on, no holds barred, no consideration given to intimidating or scaring any of my fellow actors.

And I stole the show.

Again.

Somehow, I think my picture is actually gonna make that promotional poster….

The rest of the duos did their thing. No one could muster up a laugh for anyone else equal to the smallest I received. …There were chuckle points. I made a point of paying close attention to everyone. But the people I saw perform last year are essentially doing the same thing this year. Same inflections. Same body movements. Same everything. It was very noticeable.

Yes, I raised the bar. Everyone now knows we run the risk of the first act going over like gang busters and the rest falling flat in comparison. I’m not exactly comfortable putting other people in that position. It can cause a lot of hard feelings. Especially since this is something I don’t even have to work at much. It’s as second nature to me as breathing.

And it threw me. The excitement. I came home at 10:30, smoked and talked my brother’s head off til midnight, tried to sleep til 1:30, got up and smoked some more, and finally drifted off sometime after two a.m. My head would not shut up. My mania went into overload. Every scenario grander than the last, winding me up.

This is what frightened my mom. This overexcitement post performance. I try to keep a lid on it, but that’s truly impossible. In comparison, I’m a champ at handling my negative thoughts. Much more success at breaking them. This…this was intoxicating on a level that rivaled the worst addiction. I recognize that.

It was like a mind orgasm. Everything felt good. I felt good – no, great about myself. My abilities. Confident, assured. Happy. So bloody happy! Nothing else compares.

Down to earth: the girlfriend of the director was there. Three sentences into her greeting, she slipped in ‘I’ve been hearing great things about you’. Uh-oh. Later on, during her scene, she felt the need to grab my water bottle and drink from it – thereby destroying it for my use later on. Two moves trying to show her dominance. She’s got nothing to fear on the romantic level. But as an actress…last night, baby, she got served.

Did maybe find someone to be a friend. Another female, one who was pulled in last minute and lives in a neighboring city. Don’t know her well. But she proved to be an American American, not a Dutch person who fools you into thinking they’re American because they do the accent so bloody well. She was very nice, open, friendly. We walked to the metro with the director and another actor. Ah, and they gave me props on the walk. Compliments, excited chatter over my next script.

My ego feels fat and full today. I don’t want my ego to become a monster. Don’t want this to become my norm. I must learn to sip a little bit from each encounter. Take a taste, but don’t gobble. I’m gobbling right now, and I know it. It comes from years of ego-starvation. But I intend to instill the same discipline I use with my exercise regime. Steady progress. Keep my head on straight.

…After today, that is. Today, I’ll still wallow. It’s just a different kind of wallowing.

Back to it

Writers from the UK only. Irish and UK residents only. We focus on Texas writers. We want midwestern writers only. Canadian writers will be given top consideration. We will not read international scripts. No submissions accepted from outside the lines we’ve drawn in the sand.

Fucking hell. Fifteen minutes of an internet search and the rug’s been pulled out from under my feet. Every time I check for new theatres to submit to, there are more bullshit caveats like the above. Restrictions. The ‘if you don’t live here you can fuck off’ attitude. Isolationism is the new fad du jour.

Yeah, go stick your heads in the sand.

Theatres have, as a matter of fact, closed down so much with their submission policies I’m really starting to think about screen plays because – at least for NOW – those are open to all writers no matter where you currently live. Kind of feels like a trap, tho. Spend loads of time mastering a new format to find everyone has closed down their submissions again. I mean, that’s what happened with the fucking theatre scripts.

Bastards.

Sometimes I hate the world so much.

Well, I’ve still got a couple places I can send out to. After this year, tho…*sigh* I might be working in a vacuum again.

Yesterday’s social outing went well. Easy conversation, pretty comfortable. Mentioned some of the summer fests coming up and hope we can get together to wander the streets of Rotterdam enjoying the music and art on offer. It’s good to have someone other than my brother to talk with. And…my ego got stroked a bit. They were at my script read through, and I felt like I had a gold star hanging above my head the whole time. There was no question as to whether or not I was a good writer – only whether or not my scripts have been chosen for production. That’s new. Usually when I mention my writing (or music, or anything else artistic), people demand (demand!) to know what I’ve done – and then they sit there saying ‘uh-uh’ or ‘don’t know it’ or ‘never heard of it’ like that was their intention in the first place – to put me in my place. But I didn’t get any of that yesterday. Instead, I had some polite enquiries on the status of my radio script. Super enthused grins when I talked about my current script. Quick ‘yes’ replies when I asked if they were interested in helping me with the Night Witches. And I thought ‘Damn! These people really respect me as a writer!

It felt good.

Today: physical activity is needed. Like, direly. Gotta get to the gym for a full bash (hopefully not my ankle again). Want to put time in on the script and start to get it in the new system. Have two old films I recorded off BBC to watch. Should also do at least one run through of the play and my lines. And I should get serious about Dutch, and do a bit every day…again. Fell off that last resolution pretty quick, but the key to accomplishing your goals isn’t doing it all in one go, it’s getting up every time to you fail and starting again.

*sigh* Get up. Back to it.

The Ghost in the Window

It’s good. With the right actors, it could be great.

Even the typos I found in my read through didn’t detract from the suspense in the story. Corrections were quick – been thinking about it for a week (there’s another life axiom: the longer you think about a storyline, the less time it takes to get it on paper).

Of course, if the script is performed by a bunch of hacks it’ll come off as cheesy. Or it could.

My brother gave me a weird warning yesterday, before I began reading. He told me to stay calm if anyone labels this as a black comedy. I told him there are zero comedic elements in the script and I can’t imagine anyone turning this into a comedy. He said I’m writing (again) about subject matter that makes most people nervous, and when people are nervous, they poke fun – therefore, it’s a possibility. Yo – write down a number and put enough zeroes behind it and you can call this script anything you want. Do it in full clown face; I don’t care if you pay me enough.

…Okay, not exactly true. I’d never go and see it if it’s done in any other manner than the way I wrote it.

It would not prevent me from writing another one. Which is good, because now that I found my way into these thrillers/suspense/horror stories, I know exactly how to make them happen. Two words: what if. What if this happened, what if that were true – what if can get you damned far in a story, and makes things very interesting.

And yeah, as I was sitting last night watching tv, I heard something that triggered those two words in my brain. Mmm.

Bad news: Scrivener sucks. Can I say that louder? Scrivener SUCKS. It can’t insert (MORE) or (CONT’D) in dialogue breaks. That’s a killer for me. No matter how much the designers of Scrivener want to say that using (MORE) and (CONT’D) is old fashioned and going out of style, they’re still vital stage directions in theatre scripts. Not including them in any software designed to write scripts is stupid. It’s akin to not adding in an auto page number function. And naturally, it’s not something you see until you get to the very last stage – printing. Grrr. Have another trial software – Fade in – to try, but I think I’ll just head out to Celtx and get it typed in on that software. Getting to that point where I need it done and out, so I can concentrate on my next script.

Started reading the book my director lent to me on the Night Witches. It promises to be an interesting read. It’s a role play game book, not a novel or non-fiction piece – something I’m not really familiar with. But it’s got suggestions for character types and scenarios, set-ups for interpersonal conflicts and intrigues, and I think it’ll expand my storyline in several directions. Certainly, if I get stuck on how to move forward, I think this book will be invaluable.

Just had a reminder pop up on my screen. I’m meeting people today to be social. Oh…yeah.  In five hours I need to be downtown, alert and aware, and preferably not looking like I just got out of bed. Bummer. Really don’t want to get out of my pj’s today.

Right. Arrows out. Remember to ask. Look up. Smile. Don’t overwhelm with a long monologue about my work. They are people, too.

So – breakfast and shower. Keep my head about me and my hands off the keyboard. Then a nice little metro ride downtown. A nice cup of coffee or glass of juice while I talk to people who might spark another story or character idea for me. A nice afternoon out of the house, and I’ll come back twice as refreshed and ready to work. Nice. That’s what I’ll aim for.

I’d like to be more than just a ghost this summer. I don’t get outside and do summery things anymore. And I never tan or stay outside long enough to get color. Part of that is my problem with too much heat. Part of that is my work. But I do feel a ghost, watching others get that warm brown skin, smelling the BBQs, seeing people sitting outside, hearing the music and laughter floating in thru the windows…. And I’m not quite sure how to stop being a ghost and start living again. Will forcing myself to sit outside, baking in the heat, take care of this sense that something is missing in my life? Or will it just make me feel lonelier, as I sit on a park bench by myself, speaking to no one, watching others have fun?

I could deal with my ghostly existence if it meant my work was getting noticed. It would offer me some sort of balance: okay, I don’t go outside but my work is winning me accolades. And I know I don’t do real life very well. Nice to dip my toe into once in a while, but I don’t want to go swimming in that sea every morning. Outside looks great, but I know once I’m there the heat is oppressive, I begin to sweat, and all I want is to find a cool place to chill. Better to view it from here. Better to look down, and observe.

That’s me; the ghost in the window.

Keep your eyes open

Do not know how long I was at it yesterday. Began writing before my brother woke up. Took a breakfast break when he came out of his room for coffee. Back at it before he left for the comic book shop. Surfaced around five in the afternoon. Came up gulping for air, actually. It was intensive.

And the first draft is complete.

Shivers. I think I’m dead on with my 30 minute timing, too…

A glance at my calendar told me I’m not one month ahead of myself, but two. So I’m not touching the new script for a few days. Oh, I’m itching to read it through. Test it. See if it’s as good as I think it might be. But I’m gonna let my brain rest. Honestly, it feels swollen. Like the grey goo is all puffed up and pushing against my cranium. Not pain, exactly…just very tired.

Two days ago my brother pointed out that our glass recycling needed taking out. Today, the recycling is still sitting in our kitchen, un-taken-out. The dishes aren’t done, either, for the second or third day in a row (I forget how many). I wonder how my bro feels about that. …Irritated? Has it wound him up like it winds me up, and will his sleeping brain program him to NEED to clean when he wakes up? Color me skeptical. I think he’ll easily let it slide for a few more days…whereas I, now out of my writing trance, am irritated by it no end and will probably begin cleaning by 8 a.m.

Someone needs to do the grocery shopping, too.

…Thinking about calling for a reading of the new script, tho I’m concerned about two things. One, this is very topical. So topical I’m not mentioning it (even the title of the piece) to anyone but my brother. It’s not that I don’t trust the people I know, I just know that people are stupid. They’ll say something without thinking to their hairdresser or the receptionist at the dentist’s office – who’ll then say something to someone they know, who happens to be a writer, who’ll be better known or have an agent or just get their stuff out faster than me, and suddenly my brilliant idea is old hat that no one wants to read. My second concern is more personal: I don’t want to call a reading just to toot my own horn or show off – Come! Read my fantastic script! I feel confident on my timing, sure in the story telling. There’s no real reason to read it through, no questions I have other than can it actually be pulled off? – And the answer to that question will not be revealed in a read through.

I’d like to squeeze in some gym time today. Not that I’m in the mood to go and sweat. Nope. Want to let my body ooze through the day, inert and sluggish. But I think getting up and (at least) walking for an hour would do me good.

Received a temporary rehearsal schedule from the director. Temporary because it’s only laid out for four weeks and if anyone can’t make their night, the whole thing will get shifted around. Fine by me. I’ve nothing on in the evenings. Thought we were going to work with two scenes each night, meaning four actors would be at every rehearsal. But the director’s schedule has only one scene blocked out each night. Which means, since my acting partner is on holiday from now ’til July, I’m working alone with the director on my nights. He even blocked himself in for reading the other role in my scene.

On the heels of my questioning his girlfriend’s reaction and all that I see occurring within the dynamics of the theatre group, that tiny, black and white rehearsal notification set my heart racing. Oh, Goddess! Not again! 

What the fuck am I gonna do now?

My first thought: circumspection. Don’t stand too close, don’t laugh too long, don’t talk too earnestly to him – and certainly don’t bring him any blueberry muffins! That grates at me. Damn it! It’s so rare I meet someone who could actually be my friend that when I do I become this big, enthusiastic dog. Jumping around, slobbering everywhere – happy just to be there. And I like to stand close to my friends, laugh long and hard with them, discuss real issues in a forthright and serious manner, and bake them goodies. It’s what I do. So to ask me to reign it in…feels like I’m asking myself to erect walls – something I’ve been told I do very, very well. Something I’ve been trying very hard NOT to do.

Ach! Enough. I’m thinking too far into the future again. I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I shouldn’t be making so many bleeding assumptions.

Look down at your feet. You have so many steps to take before you’re there!

Just…walk slowly. And keep your eyes open.