€8.15

Does it look bad? Painful? Did you suck in your breath and say ‘Oh my God!’ when you saw it?

Good. That’s make-up test number one, face bruising. Completed in less than 5 minutes, using a grand total of €8.15 worth of make-up. I’ll flesh this look out with a cut lip and blood dripping from a head wound.

Today I work on the exhaustion progression for Act 3. I need 3 or 4 (have to count them) looks that get progressively more tired and drawn. Doing the effects, snapping pix, taking notes on what I’m using. Already know I won’t have time to do everyone’s make-up back-stage, so I’m planning on a ‘how to’ meeting with the actors. Have a difficult time believing others don’t know how to do this, but…maybe they’re not as ghoulish as I am. I’ve been doing horror make-up since I began playing with make-up.

Oh, it’s fun! Much more fun that doing make-up the normal way!

Spent hours yesterday typing away, making notes. Have my agenda over the next 9 months roughed in, with marketing release dates already set in stone. Went thru my teaser trailer vid idea and picked dialogue from each act I need to record. Will pull more than necessary so I have room to play with length, etc. Thought about my interviews with cast and crew, getting the local tv station interested in doing a piece on us, sketched out a teaser flyer to release a month before the performance.

And blood, blood, blood. When I have a few euro (which may not be ’til next month, considering I spent my last €8.15 on make-up), I’ll buy red food coloring and chocolate sauce to practice squibs and blood capsules.

My bro has already warned me to run this past the director; I’m overstepping my bounds a bit. But…I’ve not been idle these past two years. I’ve been analyzing the group, noting their strengths and weaknesses. I’ve known from the start that doing this production meant more than just being an actor or writer. I have to step in on make-up, fight scene choreography, special effects, props, and sound.

*sigh* And I see it in their eyes. That slightly glazed look I get at first, then realization that no, I’m not asking them to do anything they don’t want to do and I’ve already planned out this or that. Then they’re all on board. I don’t really know if it’s sheer laziness or admiration for my ideas (or both). But I’m glad I’m given the chance to do it all.

Managed to get up and move a bit, walking around the neighborhood. Have not returned to my gym yet, and I’m really beginning to feel guilty (and fat). Better for me to work on this obsession, let it run out of me. I’d only exercise half-assed anyway, not really into it. If I do all the make-up tests I want to do, I can let it go. Besides, I’m really enjoying playing with all the shading and colors.

Two weeks left of language class. My head just isn’t there, and I’m not the only one. We’re doing the usual: dictation, reading, questions. But I told my teacher about my excitement over the production, and the blood effects I’ll be working on. She laughed in that easy way she has, and it was clear to me she heard me say ‘My focus isn’t on the language right now’. Bless her for understanding my hidden text.

Have an appointment with Dr. T on Thursday. Beginning to feel like my appointments with him are redundant. I’m doing well, nothing really to say. I’m not crying, not upset, and focused on the production. All positives. Might be straying a bit into the obsessive side of things, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s keeping me occupied and thinking. Most of all, it’s keeping me positive. Buoyed up by hope and anticipation. Working hard to keep active and take care of myself at the same time. Being kinder to myself. Even liking myself a bit these days.

Managed to keep a lid on my ideas. An additional teaser vid idea came to me: a 3 minute short film related to the play yet not included in the play. It would be killer to do, AND it would offer someone a chance to act a bit even if they’re not in the production. Worried about overloading myself, tho. But I might run it past the director. After filling in my schedule, I realize I could do this over summer. Won’t take long to write, direct, or shoot. And I don’t plan on a lot of edits. Ach! Listen to me. Still arguing with myself.

The sun is shining and my day is ‘free’. Have to use quotes there; plenty for me to do that’s needed but none of it is necessary to do today, so, guess what? It ain’t gettin’ done.

Instead, I’ll be bruising my face. Shading in the dark circles under my eyes, making my cheeks and nose look gaunt and unhealthy. Creating almost every make-up look I want.

All for €8.15.

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Unstuck in time

A-a-agony! I’ve sat on my arse long enough to waken the back monster. Ow. I suppose lugging my heavy books around yesterday didn’t help.

Class was fun. Me and my bro and four other students. My teachers were welcoming to T, and he got a chance to show off his translated music theory book to them. He did well, too – keeping up with our in-class work and getting at least 50% of the answers right (he, of course, focused on the 50% he got wrong – a good reminder of what I must sound and look like). Next week is screwed up with holidays as well, and the teachers asked him if he’d like to come back. After that, he needs to apply for a class transfer thru the org that gives lessons. Two lessons with us will give him a good idea if he can make the move up. I think he’s more than ready. And, if I’m honest, worrying about T – whether or not he knew a word or understood the instructions – kept me from worrying about me. I just answered as best I could and laughed at myself when I didn’t know what to say. So it ended up being one of the lightest and most fun classes I’ve had.

And after starting the day with so much nothing in me, having fun by the afternoon was a real relief. I grinned for real, laughed for real, relaxed for real. Gods, I love school. So much. Learning is fun. Okay, I sound like some public service announcement, but it’s true for me. I get a real rush of excitement when I spell a word correctly or answer a difficult question well. Yesterday we worked on antonyms. I’ve done some of that: left, right; up, down, etc. This was, naturally, a step up in difficulty. My teachers know I’m a big reader, so they chose a hard word for me: ordinary (gewoon). I barely use the word at all, and have only sussed out the meaning thru my reading. My first guess was ‘ongewoon’, adding on the ‘on’ in Dutch that is akin to the ‘un’ in English. That got everyone to laugh. Then, out of this fog of unknowing, a word popped up for me: bijzonder. I knew it was correct, tho it is yet another word I don’t use when I speak because it’s only a word I know thru my reading. Same thing happened again later: I came up with the correct answer even tho I’m not using the word. It’s all thru my reading; I know more words than I think I know. Same thing happened to me with English when I was a kid. I find it freakier in Dutch than in English, tho.

Today: gotta go to the gym. Agonize my way over there, hurt for an hour on the treadmill. Get moving again. Open up that back. Well, there I go: in the end, the pain will drive me back to some sort of exercise routine. Shouldn’t sweat it so much.

Will tackle homework while my enthusiasm is so high. I always do more when I feel like this. Still have lots to do, and I have a new word puzzle to wrestle with this week.

It’s been raining for days on end now. Greyed out, wet, windy, colder. Does not entice me to go out much. At least there’s no chance of drought in the foreseeable future.

Want to get back to this comedy I’m tinkering with. The first act is turning into a set-up. I’m using stereotypical archetypes familiar to us thru television and film. Setting: a space ship. So yes, there’s a captain who’s pulling off the impossible, a first officer who’s offering up all sorts of suggestions (and who’s a ladies’ man), a science officer devoid of emotion, a hot-shot pilot, a sexy communications officer, and a combative security officer. I want it played hammy, shown exactly for what it is. Act 2 is where the twist comes in, and things change. Still don’t know how or if I’ll get them ‘home’ again. Most of these types of stories end by bringing your characters back to the original set point having learned something about themselves. Hm. Tho an idea did just pop into my head…

Boy, I like my computer. Typing is so much faster and easier than writing things out by hand. Pull up the file, make notes, add question marks where I’m unsure of my ideas (???), and boom; I’m done. I have a chance of keeping up with my head by typing. I’d need to learn shorthand to do it by hand.

Feels like I’m a bit unstuck in time. Just floating. Tuesday? Yeah, I guess it is. Feels like a Friday, tho. Fridays are days to begin shutting down and concentrating on me and my stuff. Tuesdays are days to take care of things in the world: work, errands, stuff you need to do but don’t really want to do. Like…going to the gym and walking for an hour.

Well, that still leaves me a lot of hours in the day. And hopefully my back will feel better.

…Holy shit. It’s May. Didn’t quite realize that.

I’m more unstuck in time than I thought.

Playing with others

Ah, yes. Medication is like a tiny assistant you swallow. It helps you stay calm. It doesn’t override every bloody thing that happens. It doesn’t mean you can stop trying.

It’s too early, and I’m up again. But yesterday was my work with the director, so I’m not shocked. I was wound up as the time approached, wound up during the meeting, wound up after the meeting, wound up during sleep (can’t even count how many times I woke up biting down hard on my mouth guard), and now I’m awake – begrudgingly. For the record, 5 a.m. Better than 3 a.m., tho not by much.

Ach…I still can’t say with 100% certainty that we’ll do my script. The cast is large, and if we can’t find enough good people…well, the director said he’d rather not do it than do it with a shit cast. I am exactly where I don’t want to be: stuck in flux, with no certainties to hang my hat on. …No. Not true. I can hang my hat on the fact that the director really wants to do the script, he really likes the story, and he thinks we’re capable of doing it. Whether or not the production comes off shouldn’t be my main focus. Right. Hang on to that, Beeps. Your work is appreciated.

It was fun, yesterday, working. We pulled everything apart; took 5 hours. I was prepared to make major concessions. Geared up for major re-writes. What I heard was stuff like “I don’t think you need the word ‘on’ in this sentence” or “Did you see that typo here?” Minor corrections, minor adjustments. A few hours and it should be done. Mostly, we talked about what I didn’t write: the back stories of characters, the hidden ideas in the scripts. We discussed sound: how to approach it, what to mix together, what we needed for the venues. I was shocked when the director brought up the possibility of adding a video element to the show. Last discussion I’d had about adding video was that it’s expensive to do so the group just didn’t do it. But, hey! At this point, it’s the director talking to the board. He’s selling his vision, and if that includes video, let him argue the point. I’d love to do it. I wanted to get my hands on a camera anyway. Showed the director my rough cut trailer for YouTube, which he loved, and the flyer. As I explained my reasoning on the flyer layout, he just grinned and nodded. ‘I was thinking of something similar,’ he said. Our ideas were in-line for many elements, and my bro ended up chiming in some key ideas we all loved.

lol. And one mystery solved. I’d been wondering why the director kept saying my work was like Lovecraft, and yesterday I heard that reasoning. He feels Lovecraft wrote about things that just exist. They are not evil; they simply are. We’re terrified by what these things do, but they’re not malicious. They’re more like children, simply not knowing what they do is harmful. I laughed when he told me all this, because it’s bang on. I hadn’t torn apart Lovecraft to realize all that, but I knew it about my own work. I’ve written demons from Hell whom you’ll end up loving and cheering on, murderous elementals whom you’ll identify with and bear no ill will towards, and now the thriller trilogy with what ends up being, in short, a force of nature. Things that are just evil…they don’t really scare me. I’m sure they would, if they popped up in my life, but…outright evil is easy to combat. You know you have to fight it. What do you do with something that just is? What do you do with that grey area? How do you react when the unimaginable is stated in the softest and most reasonable voice? I find that disconnectedness more terrifying than fire and brimstone. I suppose that says a lot about me.

…In some ways, I feel like yesterday was the shrink session I really didn’t get with Dr. T. I am painfully aware my writing tells all to anyone clever enough to read between the lines. That knowledge knots my stomach and makes me wince. Discussing the back history of each character, bringing up what’s driving all of them…naturally, I was discussing myself on many levels. The director chuckled many times. He pointed out snippets of dialogue, things like ‘yes, here’s where her narcissism comes in’ or ‘you have a lot of psychologically based male/female dialogue here’. He questioned me on some statements, and I found myself very able to defend my reasoning. One thing in particular was a married couple exchange. A few things are clear to me, in retrospect. One, the director isn’t an outright narcissist. He didn’t know the moves. Two, he doesn’t know any outright narcissists because he didn’t know the psych behind it. Three, I heard a click in his brain when he asked me ‘How many Jims did you know?’ (Jim being the cheating husband), and I quickly said ‘too many’. We discussed self harm, suicidal thoughts, uncontrolled rage, helplessness, fear, obsession – all of them in the third person, all of them safely, all of them in regard to the story and the characters I wrote. I even started the meeting like a therapy session, with a warning that (a) I was really manic about the production and (b) I have control issues, so fair warning, and I’ll do my best to let go.

Most of all, tho, I stressed the idea that I know the power of a group. I don’t want to control every element. I don’t want to make every decision. I’ve got a lot of good ideas, and I want to put them to use, but I also want to have other people in on it. Have their ideas expand mine. Let them flesh in the corners I left dark.

Does this mean I’ve finally learned how to play with others?

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13 hours.

Home at 1 in the morning. Excited, because Leiden went well. Really well. Maybe the BEST for the group as a whole.

My feet hurt. My voice is iffy. Hope I won’t lose it completely. I’m tired, even after a decent sleep.

And I’m triumphant. Did the Universe take all possible positive comments and roll them into one night for me? Seems so. Two guys were pleasantly surprised to find my normal speaking voice wasn’t that horrid accent I do on stage. People loved this and that about my performance. But the best? Well…the group is getting more and more comfortable with performing and with each other. I’ve got this bit in the third scene – I’m supposed to be dancing at a party just outside the door, and the audience sees me every time the door opens. So I took it up a notch. Last night, every time the door opened I was a bit more drunk. Saved the best for last; even told my acting partner I was going to try and throw the actors on stage a bit. The curtains parted, my hair was bedraggled, my lipstick smeared, my shirt buttons were open and I staggered, took a drunken stance, looked straight at the director’s girlfriend (who was holding the curtain) and asked very drunkly ‘What?’. She told me later the scene went on longer than she wanted because she was laughing at me and couldn’t turn and let the audience see. In fact, she told that story to everyone at the bar afterwards and she couldn’t stop laughing even then.

Made me feel real good. I think, maybe, I’ve diffused any lingering resentment towards me through humor and honesty.

Other: J, the South African actress who is my fellow feminist in the group, told me she thought I was cool and wanted to keep in touch. YES! I might have FRIENDS out of this, as implausible as that may have seemed to me a few months ago. And my acting partner clued me into a Dutch website for actors to find parts in films. He told me they’re always looking for English speaking/American women.

Three weeks to chill before the last gig of the year. Defo everyone is planning for further performances next year. Hope to get up to Amsterdam to a theatre that will actually pay us to be there (including travel costs).

The only thing I’m planning for this weekend is finishing my homework, which should take me all of 20 minutes when I put my mind to it. Other than that, I am slothing (bloody hell; spell correct doesn’t like that but shouldn’t it be a verb?). Putting my feet up, maybe soaking them if I feel like pulling a warm foot bath together. Watching films. Not getting out of my pj’s unless I’m forced to. Not planning on a gym visit, but I’ll go if my body tells me it needs it. Juice, soup, naps, games. Sloth.

These upsets to my schedule are hard on me. 13 hours yesterday away from home, away from my comfy chair, not smoking (Gasp! I know! 13 hours with no toking! Though I did  have an emergency J on me just in case). Can’t help but feel it’s worth it. I’m happy, up, jazzed, and feeling great after a night full of positive, light-hearted social contact.

Laughing is so much easier in a group than it is alone.

That’s a lesson I’m taking with me. I tend to be a hermit, usually by choice. But with other people, with unexpected things being said and done…well…let’s just say I’ve long noticed that I don’t laugh out loud very much if I’m alone.

Laughter is something you share.

I like laughing. I like the way it makes me feel. I like making other people laugh, too.

So my path is clear.

Time to open up my world and share.

Gravy

Recoup.

Not sure what to say about the first night, other than it’s over. It went well. No major flubs, everybody got laughs. I feel a bit flat…

My bro got to the theatre early, around four. Hung out the entire night, talked with the director and other actors, and generally was someone who was ‘good people’, in the words of the crew. His good behavior was rewarded with meeting a dude into heavy metal, music, and recording (the sound engineer).

Did not think the first skit got the laughs it deserved…I deserved… Watched the vid last night, and came to the conclusion my brother stated earlier: the first skit has to warm up the audience. Of course they’re laughing a little less; this gets them in the mood (plus, it’s before the break so no one’s had a beer yet).

Things I’m pleased about: got compliments. That’s always nice. One was a back-hander, though…A woman who’d come to some general theatre group meetings showed up. Her comment? I watched you in the meetings and didn’t think you’d be very good…but you are! You’re a really good actress! Um…thanks? Decided that’s a statement that really needs to be appreciated for its sugar rather than its sting. Watched the vid my bro made. While some of the dialogue from the other actors is lost because the lines were said too quietly, my sonic timbered voice cuts through no matter what. Every word, every nuance, clear as a bell. The audio will need to be stripped, cleaned, and compressed to make everyone heard. Everyone but me. I feel good about that, tho it’s nothing to do with my performance. That’s just my voice. It cuts like a knife’s edge. I can make it softer, and generally do in normal conversation. On stage, though…Let’s just say it would take a really BIG theatre and a really BIG audience for me to need a microphone. Other: I’m damned proud of my portrayal. Wendy is perfectly natural. The vocal interjections, the nervous habits, the way she walks and talks…none of it forced, none of it unbelievable. For thirty minutes, I am this woman.

Got lifts in and back yesterday, and will have the same today thanks to my acting partner. That takes a lot of stress off me.

Stealing moments in between scenes to talk to the other actors. Finally talk. Found my co-feminist, who spoke up with me on Sunday’s dress rehearsal, to be a kindred spirit in many ways. Hope we can kindle a real friendship there. I don’t care if she doesn’t live in Rotterdam; I just want to stay in touch, maybe hang out once in a while. She likes bad horror films, she knows MST3000, and she smokes. I mean – DAMN! If I find out she likes punk music I am SO gonna bug her to be my friend.

Up a bit early today, but I’m getting picked up at 11:15 and I’ve got to pull my stuff together. Last night was just a toss-off: toss off the clothes, the make-up, the hair clips. Gotta find everything this morning and re-pack. Have breakfast, brush my teeth, get my contacts in, and start thinking Wendy again.

I’ll rest tonight.

Staying positive. Making sure I support everyone else. Smiling a lot. Mostly, having loads of fun.

Opening night is over. Now, it’s all gravy.

Bombshell

Ah. Late start; slept in. Gotta get used to this back and forth. Rehearsals (and the soon to come performance) really screw with my timing. I come back home wound up, excited, and nowhere near sleep. So it’s hours beyond my usual bed-time by the time I close my eyes, and the sun is well above the horizon before I wake.

Had fun last night. It was fun to do the role in a new manner, fun to play with make-up, but perhaps most fun was the reaction I received. Walking in freshly done up, I received an overwhelming ‘Oooooo!‘ from the group. Not a huge surprise; they’ve never seen me in make-up before. I’ve got one of those faces that can change into anything because it’s a blank slate. Put different colors on me, change my hair – and viola! Someone entirely new. These days, I don’t wear make-up. Ever. I’m not out for anything, I just want to be a person. Plus it’s really bad for your skin. But I’m still that blank slate. Add in some shading and color, and suddenly I’m a glam bombshell. Or, that’s the way the group treated me. My acting partner told me four times last night he found me terribly attractive – and that’s more than lip service, because he broke character twice and his reason was, both times, my look. My ego got stroked. Don’t care if I want anything or not; being perceived as attractive feels good. In the end, the director decided to retain my original interpretation of the role – though he does want me to keep using the false eyelashes. And may I say, wearing false eyelashes is one WEIRD experience. First, you’re very aware of them, and it feels unnatural. It’s visually odd because you can see the lashes hanging over your eyes. And the initial shock of going from no lashes to thick full lashes…well, it takes some time to adjust. About an hour and a half, to be precise. By the end of rehearsal, I was used to the lashes and the way they made me look. Good news is they hung on, despite sweating, so I’ve got the gluing process down.

Bad news is, the director was sick, so I’m on health watch today.

Still no compunction to write other than an occasional note and this blog. That’s good, actually. I didn’t want to be caught up in something this close to performance. My mind is focused on staying healthy and performing well.

…I’ll confess that in the secret depths of my heart, I hope one of these people I’m working with will be so impressed by my various interpretations that I’ll end up having an in with an acting agency. It’s a long shot, but I know most of these people are involved in various acting areas – other theatre groups, films, etc. They know people. And one can hope, right?

Dressed for the gym, but I’m not sure I’ll go. The weather is iffy; we’ve a warning out for high winds and storms. And I’m tired. Plus, I’ve been exposed. Might just chill. Probably should. …Oh…if I hold to my promise to myself, I have to chill. Forget the gym. Drink juice, nap, relax. I should stop kidding myself.

Great to know I can still pull off the bombshell look. But at almost 52 (just a few, short months away), it really takes it out of me.

Om de Hoek

Someone call 1912, tell them I found their missing summer day.

There is a spit of land in the far west of the Netherlands. A tiny spit of land that forms the headway for the great river Maas that cuts through Rotterdam. A tiny spit of land that takes the brunt of the elements, the largest ships, the everything the ocean and sky and wind can throw at it. That tiny spit of land is called Hoek van Holland (literally, the corner of the Netherlands). And yesterday, I finally saw it.

Hop on the B metro. That’s easy; the station is literally outside my front door. Ride that baby all the way to the end: Schiedam Central. Find the bus halt. In summer, there can be as many as four bus lines running back and forth – but, of course, on the day my brother and I went, there were only two buses every hour.

As I traveled across this tiny nation (and tiny it IS; my goddess! I’d drive longer to get to my grandparents’ home than it would take to travel the length of this tiny land), I watched the landscape change. The Dutch have a way of planting up the area to hide cities and towns and industrial parks. The only way you know something is over there is due to the church spire towering above the trees, or a fast glimpsed solar panel through the canopy. Then, in a heartbeat, everything changes. The trees open up to wide, expansive fields dotted with cows, sheep, and horses. A quiet lake surrounded by tall reeds erupts in activity as a gaggle of geese takes off in flight.

There was a time I looked at the neat rows of trees here in the Netherlands and thought yuck, gimme real forests. Everything looked too manicured, too tamed to my eye. I was used to horizon-to-horizon openness: wide skies, nature, and not another human to be seen. But after spending a large portion of my life near such untamed wildness, I find now that I appreciate all the landscaping the Dutch have done. There are paths through the land here. Paths that can take a bicyclist or walker from one side of the country to the other. Paths that are well laid, and lit at night. Paths that wind you around those trees and quiet lakes, through the fields dotted with animals, past every sight worth seeing. Tired? Thirsty? Need to pee? Undoubtedly the Dutch have thought of that, too, and if you just hang on for another five minutes you’ll see the bench laid out to sit on (conveniently under a large tree that offers its shade to travelers), or the cafe with cold drinks and hot sandwiches, or the public toilets that are always kept clean and well stocked.

These little niceties are especially appreciated after 14 years in Ireland, where sitting was an irregularity…

When we finally made the beach, it was like some long forgotten scene of a by-gone era. Sun parasols dotted the sand, a look I always associate with “olden times”. Some kids flew kites. A couple of boys kicked a football around. Kids and adults alike licked ice cream cones and sucked cool drinks. Dogs played in the surf. Despite it being only 20C (70F), most people were out in their bathing suits, determined that since it was summer, they’d treat it like summer, no matter how many goose bumps they got from the chilly off-shore wind.

And it was clean. Maybe the cleanest beach I’ve ever seen.

We were told it was ‘just a beach’. What we found was a lively on-sand mini-town. There were fancy vacation homes if you wanted full time sun and sand. A row of cheap fast food, then better sit down meals, then clubs with alcohol and entertainment. Shops to buy stuff at, arcades to throw away your euro on. And a long stretch of sand dunes, guaranteed to hide walkers, bikers, and lovers from prying eyes.

Up, and down. Out to the end of the breakwater, to watch the waves crash over the gigantic rocks laid down like a giant’s building blocks scattered along the way. Half a dozen hardy fisherman cast their long poles, teasing the hidden fish swimming amongst the seaweed.  A double toot from an outgoing passenger liner, people standing along the railing waving at those of us still on land.

The most disappointing thing of the day was our fish, bought from a stand on the beach. Expensive, and not nearly as good as the guy who has a stand by our house.

Today, I am back to more normal activities. The gym, obviously. Walking in the sand for three hours is good exercise, but it isn’t the cross trainer. Need to get to the printer and have a hard copy of my play printed up. Haven’t looked at it for days; giving my brain and my eyes a good rest before the final editing process. Gotta run my lines, too. Been neglecting that.

Telling myself good things are coming. They’re om de hoek.

I know it

Editing. Formatting. All that crazy shit a writer does that makes our eyes go wonky. Honestly, sometimes I think I stare so long at the computer screen my eyes dry up completely. It even hurts to blink.

All of that is good. Well, maybe not good as in good for me, but definitely good as in I’m on the right track. And way the hell ahead of my deadlines.

Had occasion to pause and bless my brother the other day. He’d met with R, his friend, in the morning. In the afternoon, he came home and told me: our appeal was rejected by immigration. Without skipping a beat, he informed me he’s already met with lawyers and accountants, and a clear plan of action has already been instigated, so, keep cool and relax. We are re-applying this year. Basically, starting our entire residency over again from day one. It’ll cost. Naturally. But our team has informed us it’s the way to move forward – and, apparently, a fool proof plan. There are no grounds to reject us if we re-apply.

I heard that, and the first thing I thought was ‘he doesn’t trust me with the news; he had to get everything settled before telling me’. Second thing was ‘Goddess, what other action could tell me how much he cares about me? He didn’t want to throw me or worry me or have me slip into a depression. He kept it from me until he had answers.’ My mind has settled on the second thought, and once again I find myself feeling small and petty for any and every argument I’ve ever brought up against him. Here I am, bitching because I think he doesn’t always listen to me or do the dishes in a timely manner, and there he is, dealing with extremely stressful questions about our future and not wanting to stress me out. And when I asked him why he didn’t tell me immediately, he simply answered: I knew you were upset about L, and I didn’t want to add to your worries.

Small. Teensy-tiny. Miniscule. Whip out your microscope and see me cringe.

Yesterday was a day out. (And here’s another thing about my bro, if you don’t already think he’s fabulous.) Every once in a while, my bro takes me out. Gets me out of the house, forces me to go downtown, eat a meal in public, walk around. We window shop, he encourages me to look at new clothes, once in a while we buy something. Yesterday we were on a mission for new headphones for both of us. Into Media Markt by Alexandrium. Wall of headphones. I chose a mid range set – not the cheapest, but not the most dear, either. Then an attempted casual ‘since we’re here, why don’t we look at entertainment?’ from my bro. Upstairs to DVD heaven. They were having a massive sale; found dozens of films for only five euro each. Walked out without spending too much, yet still have loads of hours of good watching. Then it was off to Papaya – literally, a little buffet type hole in the wall. But Goddess! THE best food ever. Came home to that companionable feeling we have after a fun day out. We laughed a little easier, talked a little more animated – all because we got out of the apartment for the afternoon.

And, I got a new hoodie. One that doesn’t look old or scruffy. One that hasn’t been washed a thousand times. Might go back and buy a nice blouse. Something that’s NOT a T-shirt. I’ve only got a few non-T-shirt shirts; I’d like some more.

Today I must tackle the housework. It’s piled up. I’ve managed to keep up on dishes and the big stuff, but the floor -! I can’t even consider getting down to do abdominal exercises with all that crap lying around. It’s too dirty. So I’ve lined up a day of hoovering a dusting, washing and ironing. Probably won’t get to the gym because of it.

Oh! And I have an answer. Anything I ever fantasized about my very cute physiotherapist was all one-sided. During my last appointment, we talked about the upcoming play – and I teased him that I have a whole two months to convince him to come to one of the performances. Hitch. I could feel it. His response: I’ll think about coming. Not sure, I’d love to come! So, now I know. Any interest on his part should have resulted in a bit more enthusiasm in his reply. I dithered on at the appointment. I said how I don’t know many people, how it would be good to have some support, etc. Tried to mitigate the disaster I just opened up. Oh, well. Can’t feel too bad about it. I am talking the production up, and I am inviting everyone I say more than two words to (other than shop workers; I often say five or six words to them, but I’m not inviting every cashier I meet). I tried, you know? Put it out there. I suppose it’s better to know for sure than to wonder forever if…. If. That wonderful two letter word! In my mind, it only becomes a curse if you put ‘only’ behind it: if only…. Do that, and you might as well shoot yourself in the foot. But if…Truly, that word sums up all that we can be.

I digress.

…I may sit at a unique crossroads in my life. Don’t know that I’ve ever received such not so good news yet still felt so okay about it. I mean…I’m not happy about the residency thing. The idea that we’ll need to cough up thousands yet again in order to stay here doesn’t sit well with me. But we will be able to stay. Right now, that’s everything. As for my fantasizing…A little bit of that, especially (ouch!) at my age probably isn’t such a bad thing. But I don’t necessarily want that to manifest into my reality. I’m too busy with my own life to share it with anyone else right now.

I’m 51. And selfish.

I know it.

It feels good

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Ah, to play the star again. No writing, no direction, no cinematography – just get up and act. Be the role.

My prep for the first night of auditions was needed. Despite anticipating a few dozen people to show up there were fewer than 10 of us there, and all but one were long time participants with the group. I was one of two women, so I got to strut my stuff three times with different male actors. Loads, loads, loads of fun. But I didn’t see anyone I wanted to ask to my read through. 😦 Hoping they show up on Tuesday night, which I will still go to (although there’s no need for me to audition again). I took what was on offer last night, and what was on offer was light heartedness and a seemingly genuine happiness to see me back. I smiled and chatted, participated, felt the fool and laughed at myself.

I also hit my lines perfectly, each and every time.

Got thru the phone call (ugh) in Dutch (UGH) to make an appointment for my hearing trouble. Had to switch to English. I don’t know…maybe it’s my hearing problem, maybe it was her accent, maybe she used all the words I don’t know yet, but I just couldn’t understand what was going on. Don’t feel great about that, but telling myself it’s okay. I tried, and that’s what counts. First time they had open was in May, so I’m waiting another 4 weeks before anything changes for me.

Headache this morning. Not the subtle kind I sometimes get, the ones that I wake up to and realize I have a bit of pain in my brain. Nope. Today was the WAKE UP kind, the ones that pound relentlessly at your forehead and temples and force you to get up.

Been completing ignoring the rolling tumbleweeds in my inbox(es), and allowing myself to fall into writing again. Cannot say how long I wrote yesterday because I didn’t look at the clock and I’ve no concept of time when I write. But I did map out the radio drama. Put in three narration spots, borrowing passages from my original short story. Wrote out the first scene and a climax scene that’s almost completely sound effects. Decided I just can’t keep calling my characters ‘cop’ and ‘schoolkid 1’, so I did what I always do (that little bit of extra insanity you don’t know about unless you look for it): I researched the meanings of names and chose each character’s name to reflect their primary purpose in the script. Probably something no one will ever catch onto. But it’s there.

Ready to send an SMS to my teacher blowing off my lesson today and head right back into the script.

Really feeling the flux around me. Don’t know what’s going to occur. Don’t know how I’ll manage to juggle things if everything I’ve thrown up into the air comes back to me at the same time.

I do know I put myself out there. Put my best foot forward. Gave it my all.

It feels good.

Birthday Blog: Hands on Acceptance

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Happy b-day to me, happy b-day to me…

My very cute physiotherapist who I’m really trying to not think about kissing told me I should throw a little party. I said there’s nothing sadder than a birthday party that no one comes to, and since I don’t know many people and those I do know I don’t know well, I’m scared that’s exactly what would happen. Birthday parties don’t go that well for me. I’m better with the ‘it’s Friday night so I’m having a party’ type of things. Those parties are legendary. Well, if I’m honest, my 21st was a legendary party. The first, last and only legendary b-day party. Huge house party, cops came three times, I never saw them because I was playing ditzy party girl and indulging in lines of cocaine upstairs. Legendary. But since then, b-days fall kind of flat for me. Sometimes downright disappointing. Which is why my birthday became my birthweek during my thirties – because time after time the actual day sucked, so my brother kept suggesting do-overs. It got so sucky around my birthday that I needed that entire week to be Queen and Do As I Pleased.

I’m living in a better place now  – yeesh! just made it sound like I died! But there’s far less to annoy me, far more to do and see, and I find having one (or two) birthdays a year works just fine.

The weather is supposed to cooperate; that’s always a good start. I’m pretty certain I’ll be blowing off my language lesson this morning. It’s not that learning the language isn’t important. It is. It’s very important. But today is my day, and I may no longer be Queen for a Week but I sure as hell am Queen for Today (at least in my little life circle), so Queenie says we’re not working today at all, just playing and having fun, and I say ‘yes, ma’am’ and jump to it. My brother suggested we go out for something to eat. That way I have fabulous food and he’s not slaving away in the kitchen to make it. We can both have fun. Queenie has declared we’re having Greek today, down at Markt Hall. It’s a good choice. For less than thirty euro, the two of us will get plied with incredible fresh Greek delicacies and feel more than satisfied. Plus, there’s no clean up tomorrow. What could be better? From there, it’s a delightful short jaunt to shopping supreme street. Shop after shop. What do you want to look at? It’s there. I want to get into the cheap shops. The bargain shops. Walk out with an armful (or two armfuls) of brightly coloured fun things for a tenner. Be silly. Buy a silly toy or two. Buy something that makes me smile. Doesn’t have to cost much. I just want a little frivolity today. Then maybe stop for a joint in the cool place around the corner from the library. They’ve got the inside done up like you’re underwater. Another wander around in fresh air, and take the metro back home. Cut into my b-day cake, which I baked and frosted yesterday. I finally went with a confetti cake, like my mom made for me when I was very small. What can I say? The age thing has been bothering me, so I’m giving myself a little bit of nostalgia today, too. Then it’s camp down for another night of Gotham, one of the two b-day gifts I’ve received from my bro. The other is a set of books telling Dutch history in Dutch – and in comic book form. Fun and educational. I got ALL my bases covered this year!

I think, too, I’ve come to some sort of acceptance with my age. Can’t say I’m thrilled about it, but I do think I can live with it.

….Because I was right when I said judgement comes from outside. Leave a person alone and they don’t deride themselves for their weight, the way they dress, their hairstyle (or lack of). But put that same person in a room full of other people and suddenly all that becomes important – or, at least, it can become important. I’m not saying everyone does that. I’m just saying it happens. Quite a bit.

And maybe I’m mistaken here; maybe I’m way off the mark. But I feel like I’ve found at least one person who’s accepted me fully. One person I haven’t hidden parts of myself from, one person I’ve been blatantly honest and forthright with. The strange thing is, it’s my physiotherapist. Something about taking my shirt off in front of a guy (and with all the lights on) within 30 seconds of meeting him just disarms me from any subterfuge. What’s there to hide? All the flab I disparage, all the wrinkles and sagging that make me feel old are out in the open before the first minute has passed. There’s nothing left to hide. So I am myself with him, fully. He’s seen me sad, angry, jovial, thoughtful. He’s heard my life views, my political views, even some of my spiritual views. I’ve heard him laugh at my jokes. He’s remembered our conversations visit to visit, and asked follow up questions. He’s revealed quite a bit about himself, too. In short, I feel I can say anything to him. Complete honesty at a level I’d never even contemplate with a sit-behind-the-desk therapist.

*sigh* No wonder I’m crushing so hard.

But crush aside, I do have a strange easiness with him I rarely experience. Maybe it’s all his professionalism. Maybe he’s just a nice guy. Maybe he treats all his patients this way. I don’t know. What I do know is I can stand in front of him next to naked, look him straight in the eye, and not feel one bit of discomfort or embarrassment. I like to make him laugh. I like to discuss world views with him.

And boy, do I like the feel of his hands on my body.