Ready to step out

My brother hauled me out of here yesterday. Said I was going clothes shopping. Didn’t matter if I kept to the minimum or not, my b-day’s coming up and he thought it high time I had a couple new pairs of sweat pants and a fresh set of pj’s to lounge around in during my off days. He took me to a mall we don’t usually go to because we have to swap metros to get there – but it’s the only place I’ve found frozen soy “ice cream” that I can eat to my heart’s content because it doesn’t contain cow milk, and I hadn’t bought any for months and months and months, and…well, I like it.

For less than a hundred euro, we both walked away with new sweatpants and matching hoodies. I also got a spare set of sweat pants (seems I can never have enough, going to the gym like I do), a new light grey sweater that’ll be nice for class or going into town somewhere, my pj’s (men’s, top ‘n’ bottom, a cottony soft set I might not take off today, good day or bad), and 5 frozen cartons (bought them out) of chocolate soy deliciousness.

Gods, that frozen chocolate soy whatever-you-want-to-call-it is good!

Received a surprise email from a board member of the theatre group. They’ve had a request for actors from some film students, and I was asked if I want to participate. No pay, but reimbursement for travel costs and food and drink on site. Plus, the credit. Can’t forget that. Yes, yes, I’m interested! Hope to hear back this weekend. Hope they just send me the script and the shooting schedule (plans are to shoot between 7-10 December in Den Hague).

And I know! I know. Just shot myself in the foot, didn’t I? Yesterday’s post I bemoaned the idea of not having time to do what I want, and here I am making plans to jumble up my agenda and give myself even LESS time.

But…it’s a film. A real acting credit that might be seen by someone else. Something I can add to my IMDB page (yes, I have one).

And after all my crying and epiphanies and moments of self-realization, I can’t say no to my dreams when opportunities to make them happen are just handed to me on a platter.

Following that email was another email regarding the vids from the play. Nothing terribly important about it, just a ‘can’t wait to see them’ statement – but it came from the father of the board member who sent me the film opportunity. I feel a little pressure being put on me. Talked to my bro about it and decided I’ll proceed like a real, live grown-up. I’ll use his video work as a bargaining chip. I’m not gonna say ‘give me the role and get the video’, but I also feel if the role IS given to me, I need to make sure the group (and in particularly the board) stays sweet, so I’ll release it. Had to get my bro’s ok before I used his work like that. He’s all for it, naturally. He’d be all for me killing (literally) the competition if it got me what I wanted.

Now, I wait to hear from them. Have it all set to fall like dominoes at the word go.

And so, the Universe brings to me a solid damned reason to create boundaries. A real, live commitment that will force me to say at least once to my Monday teachers: I’m sorry, but I can’t do this homework. I’m too busy. Too busy with what? they’ll ask. And I want to learn how to say this in flawless Dutch:

I’m busy with making my dreams come true.

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

Meantime, the daily drudgery continues. Top on my list is to get Taman going. Dutch is going to the side-lines today. Maybe I’ll get a lot done and be able to work on Dutch tomorrow; maybe not. I’ve already put in a lot of time on my homework. What I will NOT do is sit around on my ass and create an emergency situation where I’m trying to finish Taman, do Dutch, and film at the same time. Forget it. I know what’s likely to come. I’ll prep for it. That includes doubling down on hand washing, eating well, getting to the gym, and sleeping enough – all that pesky shit I have to do to stay healthy. I had a passing thought of ‘well, if I fall sick now at least the play is over’. Uh-uh. Nope. Stay on the up. The wheel’s turning and I’ve got to be healthy and strong enough to grab it this time!

Goals within goals within goals. Other people stack plans or lies like that. For me, it’s goals. Stay healthy, so I can get the role. Get the role, so I can make connections. Make connections, so I can find someone interested in taking my work to film. Get someone interested in taking my work to film, so I can really have a career in writing. And if it just so happens that I become well known for my acting along the way, I won’t be complaining.

*snort* That’ll be a change of pace.

I find it difficult to stay calm in the midst of all these possibilities. Difficult to stay anchored, difficult to meld the heady dreams with the cold and somewhat greyed out reality of what it takes to get there. Difficult, too, to take the disappointments that come out of living like this. …Honestly, I don’t know that I’m ready. Don’t know that the world is ready to really see me. I’m not medicated (yet; the subject was touched on again by my bro). I still struggle with that concentrated emotion I seem to have so much of. There’s so much of me that’s unfinished.

But I’m ready to step out.


Right here, right now

The script is out. Finished the A4 formatting, checked the entry page, wrote a short intro letter, and clicked send. No more thinking.

As usual, I was hit with a wave of manic energy afterwards. Bad enough my brother mentioned it was affecting him. I headed to the gym.

Think I might have turned the corner on my weight issue. Think I might have dropped some excess weight without quite knowing it. I mean, I wear sweat pants almost 24/7. It’s hard to judge where your body is when you’ve always got elastic waisted pants on. But I caught a few glimpses of myself that didn’t make me look wider than I am tall. A few sidelong looks where I thought gee, my stomach doesn’t stick out as much as it used to. And, hallelujah, I’ve found my collarbones again. Don’t even have to sink my chest in to see them – I can just stand there as usual and out they pop.

The house is pretty clean, thanks to my bro helping me on Sunday. I felt bad for a fleeting moment; he did the hoovering and ended up in a sweat because…well, it’s hoovering. Means you gotta move all the furniture and get underneath. It sounds like an easy job, but it isn’t. And I reminded myself of all the sweaty hours I spent cleaning this place, and the last one, and the one before that – and suddenly I didn’t feel so bad or guilty for allowing him to take on this tough task. Sometimes I think my bro needs to be reminded that hoovering sucks, that doing the dishes every day can make you lose your mind, and that housework doesn’t just get done all by itself.

No rehearsal Monday. The director bowed out with a sore throat. More than happy about that; I’m over anxious about staying healthy and my number one freak out is being exposed to other people’s illnesses. No rescheduled date yet.

Strangest thing this morning. Two strangest things. One, my hoodie is missing. It’s not in my room nor the living room, and I was just using it yesterday. Two, my coffee cup is missing. Gone. Non-existent. Had to use a secondary cup, not my normal one (didn’t feel right). Can’t for the life of me figure out why someone would come in, grab my hoodie and coffee cup and split. But I’ve been up and down this tiny place and see zero sign of either of them.

Finished reading the book on the Night Witches my director gave me. Need to make some notes. The bibliography lists several sources to check on for factual info. I’m well pleased with the info provided in this book. Gives me a good grounding on the groupings within the military and how they work in such a strict hierarchal system. And I’m beginning to see the play. Found my main character the other day. She’s still developing, but I caught the first glimpse of her. Beginning to know some of what the characters will face in the play. It’s big – and exciting. The setting I’ve chosen to write about allows me to bring in as many famous flyers as I want. It’s a strong skeleton, and I’m pinning my ideas down with factual points – dates, names, deaths.

First, tho, finish the US formatting for the current script. Get it out to as many places as I can find, because I think this one is a doozy. Do my Dutch homework. Keep getting to the gym. Keep following through on my commitments. Keep myself focused and busy in the now, not the past, not the unwritten future.

Right here, right now. This is where you make the change.

It would be nice, though


Got up this morning extra early and on purpose so I could write, and now I’m staring at the blankness of my post and wondering what the hell to say.

Start with the good. I can walk without pain. That’s a biggie. Off pain pills, down to an occasional paracetamol in the evening. Want to get back to the gym today for a long, slow exercise session. I am very aware my attitude goes to shit when I experience pain (note: pain for me lies somewhere between 5 and 8 on the 1 to 10 pain scale; anything less than a 5 is just discomfort). If more people were aware of that…but they aren’t, and they’re all too busy with their own thoughts and lives to think to ask why I’m in such a shitty mood so often. The answer is simple: pain. I’ve a lot more of it than I talk about.

It’s May. The Netherlands celebrated the coming of this merry month with a 20C sunny day – warmest to date, and followed up by a grey, dingy morning promising rain and feeling twice as cold as it actually is because it falls the day after such summery warmth. Nonetheless, May means movement; time has marched on. There’s the script read through. Several doctor appointments. More language lessons. Deadlines to meet. And I must begin haunting some of my online emails for replies to earlier script send-outs.

Worried about a lot. Worried my ears are gonna get sliced and diced at the doc’s, and I’ll have to spend the summer keeping out of the water. Worried the ear doc is gonna say there’s nothing they can do to rid me of this continual ringing. Worried I’ll get yet more rejections on my writing. Worried about my residency status. …There’s so much to worry about it kind of cancels itself out. Just becomes a wall of grey noise.

Do not want to begin writing on a new project before I’ve wrapped up my last, so I’m keeping myself busy. Playing games. Watching Twin Peaks again. Doing what I can to help around the house. Giving my brother as much time as possible each and every day for him to do his writing. Keep telling myself thank you. Thank you, Beeps, for doing the dishes. Thank you, Beeps, for cleaning under the bookcase in the hall. I gotta say it, because my bro is too wrapped up in writing mania to acknowledge it. I understand; been there often myself. Feels a little lonely, tho. The only conversation I get is about his book, his writing, his graphics. Wears thin after a while.

Well, now I know what it feels like…and next time, I’ll try a lot harder to pull my head out of my ass when my brother talks to me as I write.

*sigh* But I need concrete, real stuff right now. I need people contact, and laughter. I need things to look forward to. I need my appointments and classes, my weekly and monthly routine. Feels like my dreams are pulling away from me; all the old comforts I told myself for years and years don’t offer the same protection as they once did. Realized I still dream as a 20 year old. The only difference is now I dream with the sole purpose of escaping my worries. I don’t really think any of it will happen.

It would be nice, though.

Take the flag


It’s a hell of thing to be sitting somewhere in public, waiting patiently, minding your own business, nothing at all wrong, and then, when you try to stand, you freeze with pain. Don’t know what sound escaped my mouth or which facial expression spasmed across my face, but I can tell you this – it caused five grey haired pensioners to gasp, get up, and try to help me.


Must not have looked too good.

Spent yesterday morning growing ever more paranoid during my language lesson. The other student was present again (surprise), and I noticed my teacher took ten to fifteen minutes to catch up and chat with her but far less to chat with me. Now, I know I’ve surpassed the other student in language use. I’ve come to lessons regularly, worked hard, and made a lot of progress. So it’s only natural that the teacher would try to draw out the other student more than me. Get her talking again. …Right? I was careful to note the teacher’s body language. Not too skewed, but she did seem to lean a bit towards the other student. …Does my teacher not like me? *sigh* What have I done now?

I guess that’s the risk anyone takes when they choose to not be a milksop. Have opinions, state them. Have energy when you communicate! For pete’s sake, don’t talk to me like it’s the closest thing to death; deadpan and distracted. Look at me! Fire up your soul! Maybe we’ll come to loggerheads but at least we’ll know we don’t like each other. But don’t hide yourself. Don’t say ‘uh-huh’ to everything, never offer an original thought, never let anyone see anything of the real you. …That’s my opinion, anyway.

But I’ve been told I can be a poor communicator. Not because I’m unclear or uninformed; just the opposite. Because I’m too clear, too informed. I’ve been told many people don’t like to discuss big issues in life. It makes them uncomfortable. But big issues is where my head is at. Big issues were what I discussed at the dinner table as a kid.

After 50+ years of big issues, I can say that there are a whole lot of people out there who don’t like discussing them. And they don’t like me because of it.

That always makes me feel bad. I don’t mean anything improper about it. Just the opposite. I want to know where people stand on this stuff. I want to know their reasons for their choices. So I ask. And people get put off, or offended, or feel so uncomfortable around me that they choose to not hang out or be my friend.

It’s the risk I take, being me. Because for all the disappointment and lost possible friendships, every once in a while I find a real gem out there. Someone who fires up just as quickly as I do. Someone with a magpie mind fast enough to keep up with me.

That ain’t my Thursday teacher. Nor my Friday teacher.

Not that I expected either of them to be my friend.

…Well, I can move freely enough today – so far. I’ll try going to class, but I’ll take my heavy duty pain pills with me. Or maybe I should just take one now. Get a jump on the stiffness and pain. Probably the smart thing to do.

This ain’t gonna stop me. Not the pain, not the stiffness. Not the idea that my teacher doesn’t like me. Not the embarrassment over forgetting words I knew a few weeks ago. Not my slight dyslexia that always makes me screw up numbers.

Feels like I’m gearing up for war. A war on everything that’s going to try to stop me. I know what my goal is. I know what I need to do to get there.

Time to take the flag.


A Tall Order


Saturday, and I can’t sleep. Up after seven hours. Up because my side hurt. My sciatica hurt. I felt everything in my ears shift and my left side kinda got blocked again. And I’ve a ghost of a headache that won’t stop haunting me.

Getting older sucks.

I’m obsessed with radio script format. Began work yesterday with five items open on my desktop so I could view all the notes, the template, my original story, and the file I was working on, all at once. Slow going, but I think I’m getting the hang of it. Roughed out an outline with a min of eight scenes to get the story told properly. Keeping in mind that those eight scenes should stick within the 3-4 page range, since I’m shooting for a 30 minute finished piece. Thinking of casting requirements, and which roles can be doubled up. Figuring out how to write proper sound notes. Most of all, I’m working out how to tell the story sans narrator. Might have to fall back on some narration if I can’t get the script within 30 pages with all the dialogue needed to convey what simple narration can do, but I’ll save that as a last minute thing. I know it’s  a stronger story without voice overs.

Did not get to the gym yesterday. All good intentions setting out, but by the time I returned home after my language lesson I was so wound up by one of my teachers I just couldn’t head over there. Worried I was a bit of a bitch in class yesterday; had to call said teacher on what I considered a real mistake: he made the claim that ‘ankle’ and ‘heel’ are the same thing. Hey; my Dutch isn’t great, but your ankle is your ankle and your heel is your heel – two very different things, no matter what language you’re talking. I felt berated by said teacher over a new word, which my Dutch to English dictionary defined as ‘stationery’. As a Midwestern US expat, ‘stationery’ is very specific to me: it’s a printed letterhead. Here, it’s pens and pencils (what I’d call writing instruments). But no. I was told I was wrong. I was needled over my answer. I explained myself. I was told I was wrong again. I asked what the correct answer was, and was told to guess yet again. This is the behavior I get on my Friday lessons, and it drives me UP THE FUCKING WALL. I don’t guess my least likely answer; I give you my best informed choice. Don’t keep asking me to throw out words AT RANDOM to try and figure out YOUR idioms. This is CLASS. Fucking TEACH ME. And this was on top of him disagreeing with my Thursday teacher and telling me two of her answers were wrong, then bashing her a bit by asking ‘who is she? a professional teacher?’, like HE’S a professional teacher (he’s not; he’s a volunteer) or anything special.


… Just a wee bit pissed off about that.

So a few days after posting a notice on FB, the theatre group has sent me an email reiterating the dates for auditions and providing a link to the script text. They’ve also asked for my preference on audition dates, and I think I’ll go for the latter night. I’ll show up the first night, to watch, to listen, and to ask a select few if they’ll join me on my own script reading/workshop project. But I’ll leave the actual audition for the second night. You know how it goes: people are more apt to remember the last couple of acts than the middle five at a big show, and the same thing goes for auditions. Plus, I want an opportunity to see how other people interpret the roles, I want to hear what the members of the group say for feedback or suggestions, and I want some time to figure out if I’m really going to audition or not. These people have yet to convince me they’re not all dicks.

Has my brother somehow been reading this blog? I have no idea. I can tell you he’s been extra supportive of me lately, and even listened to me when I talked about the radio script I’m writing. It’s a pleasant change to hear supportive comments rather than the same blow-offs I’ve had recently. My guess is he’s feeling the pressure is off him now regarding our immigration situation. I hope that gives me reason to hope (note: it’s all going down on the coming Tuesday).

Forgot to make an appointment to see the doc about my hearing. Putting it on my calendar for Monday, along with getting my roots done at that student hair salon. That’s setting up Monday to be a wash, with little to no time for my own work, but that’s the way it’s got to be. Maybe dishes won’t get done. Somehow they’ve magically been finished every day, neatly cleaned, dried, and re-stacked. That fairy might take time off to write a few lines in her new script.

Meantime, there’s loads to do. Move, so I’m not in so much pain. Write to make my deadline. Saddle up and do a dust bunny drive. Hit one of my last three big cleaning jobs and get it done. Most importantly: don’t freak out, don’t hurt myself, and try to keep my smoking in check.

Ye, Gods! That’s a tall order.

I Have Purpose


Didn’t take the time to blog yesterday. I planned a full day and felt mining my own brain was bit too much, so not blogging was my kindness to me. With hoovering, dusting, dishes, making the bed, finishing up laundry, and taking a walk on my plate I thought maybe I’d appreciate a morning of playtime rather than introspection. By 10 a.m. playtime was over, it was time to get dressed and down to work.

By 11 a.m. I was done. With the housework, at least. And YES, I put a dramatic pause in that bit of writing because one hour to do all that WAS dramatic.

All the work my bro (and I; let’s not discount my part in it) has been doing paid off just in hoovering time. Used to take me close to an hour to do this tiny place because there was so much to get around, move, get under. Yesterday I picked up the unit and carried it around the house as I walked because it was THAT FAST. I was done in 15 minutes, and that included getting under my bed.

Similarly, my walk went THAT FAST. Headed out into the nice weather, feelin’ good. My pace kept picking up. The day was sunny, and it felt good to walk, to move my legs and feet. Before I knew it I’d completed a 75 minute walk in 40 minutes. Bam!

I had time to come back, take a shower, and watch a couple of things on the tv system I’d recorded. All before 5 p.m.

The girl’s time lapsed. Didn’t need to talk to her; she’s been talking to me. And she’s sounding like this:

I’m so freaking PROUD of you! Look at all you accomplished this week. All the stuff you kept up around the house, the errands, learning Dutch. And not one hissy fit. Not one self pity party. Not one rage dump. You’ve actually been SMILING, you know that, right? I’m so excited I could jump over the moon!

We were on such a high that when we opened up our browser and saw my bookmarked page for the English speaking theatre group in Rotterdam, I filled in the contact page. Introduced myself. Set the wheel in motion. And I got a response. They’re in production now, but I’ve been invited to help out backstage – which you bet your sweet ASS I’m going to do! Meet some people. Have something to take me out of the house a few times a week. Socialize. I was also told that if I was interested in acting a new production would be underway in September/October. IF I’m interested! ROFL! Perfect timing for me. My RA will be at it’s least painful point and I’ll be flying on my annual autumnal manic period. In the meantime I can meet the people involved, find out where the place is, get to know the in’s and out’s of the group.

The girl’s statement to me is echoed again because I’m so freaking excited!!!!  

Who needs therapy when THAT sort of thing is happening?

Okay….well, maybe the answer is me, but it won’t be because I’m bloody depressed. FINALLY. Finally something to get me out, meeting people who have similar interests. And it’s more than that. Finally I’m going to find out, REALLY find out, if I still love acting the way I used to. If it’s still the secret desire in my heart. If I’m still capable of doing it. Give me one chance. Just one. One chance to bring people to tears, to make them laugh so hard they need to see the production again because they missed some dialogue. I SO won’t blow it.

Right now I feel like I could tackle just about anything.

Time to give props where props are due. A shout (silent, I know; he doesn’t read this blog) goes out to my bro, who’s been everything I ever wished he’d be in the support category. There was a day when the multitude of things I did around the house went unnoticed and unremarked upon. These days, everything I do gets me a gold star. The good is feeding on the good and it’s a cycle I LIKE to see happen.

Suddenly I have goals. Things to look forward to. Real life things, meaty things you can sink your teeth into and get real sustenance from. I’m lapping them up with gusto. Part of me feels starved of that kind of thing, and I guess I have been. I want to shake off every ghost, every demon that’s attached itself to me. Burn them off with this fire.

This is it. In life, timing is everything. The last time this kind of set up occurred to me I was only 17, and I allowed my mother to effectively kill the dream before it even saw the light of day. Not this time. This time it’s carpe diem. Don’t ask me how I know the timing is right. It just IS. I can feel it. The door is open and I can walk through.

In six months I could be more ME than I’ve been in a long, long time.

Bring it on, baby.

…In the meantime, today is today. Back to the here and now. It’s forecast to be a balmy 18C today. Figure it might be the day to go out in the hazmat outfit and try cleaning up the balcony. Scrubbing bird shit should be enough to bring me back to reality. It’s hard to keep up fantasies of super stardom when you’re out cleaning up excrement. There. Just typing excrement sent a bolt of reality thru me. Excrement. Shit-shoveling. Hardly something I’d imagine Dame Judi Dench doing.

Somehow everything is a little bit easier. Saying no to dessert is easier. Getting in exercise is easier. Running errands is easier. Learning the language is easier.

I know this could be temporary. Probably is. But one thing is different now. One thing has changed. That one thing is making all the difference.

I. have. purpose.



Count for Something


4 a.m. One word got me up today. Say it with me: HOSPITALIZATION. Three half hour sessions into getting to know Heike and fucking hospitalization comes up. She didn’t say that dreaded word; they have this great (not) euphemism here – ‘time out’. Yes, I was asked if I need a fucking time out. Make me feel two goddamn years old. Do you think you need a time out? A time out from what? I asked. Then the explanation came: there’s this clinic (hospital) where I could go for a week (or two, or a month, or however long they think my craziness merits) to quit smoking (dry out and get past the rage without hurting Joe Public). There are other people there just like me (so it’s really fucking unsafe) and I could stay there (away from my room and my things and my safety net) for as long as needed (until I pick up enough of their lingo that I can fool them into letting me go).

You can tell I’m really thrilled about the idea, right?

All I did was try to share my anger issues. I talked about my blow up on Friday, the Ativan, the extra smoking. How I wanted to lie. Looking back this morning, I’m afraid I was talking waaaaay too fast. I remember just putting my head down on her desk for a bit out of complete frustration. Rapid cycling? Well, I didn’t laugh at any point, but she did see tears. For me, the anger/rage and tears are one and the same. Or they end up being the same thing. Eventually I cry out of sheer frustration. My words can’t keep up with my head and there’s not a chance in HELL anyone else is gonna be able to keep up with me. Especially not poor Heike, for whom English is not a second but a third language.

What do you do when you’re that angry? Seriously? Rant. Write. Smoke. Cry. In about that order. Does it work? Better than anything else I’ve tried.

Oh! One more rage point with Heike. Language difficulties or bad therapy, I don’t know, but she said ‘You need to stop smoking and get down to your real emotions’ like what I’m feeling right now isn’t real. While I understand my smoking has kept the worst of my rage and depression at bay, none of that should negate the emotions I’m still feeling AND I’m still in touch with. I mean come on! If you’re saying hospitalization NOW when I’m just beginning to touch on that uncovered rage you’ll be running for the hills by the time I’m 30 days ‘sober’.

The appointment ended with an offer for ‘an emergency visit’ with Yoda, who has apparently just returned from holiday.

My brother thinks I should ask for a new therapist.

One week to think. Think long and hard about asking to see Yoda earlier than my appointment is scheduled for. Think long and hard about asking for a new therapist. I’ve already devoted the 45 minute trip back home from the appointment to thinking about a ‘time out’ and everything in me says no. I see no benefit in taking me away from every stressor to ‘dry out’ and then putting me back out there. I’ve got to learn to control it here, now. And how fucking safe could I ever feel stuck somewhere where I’ll be FORCED to speak Dutch because goddess! no one here wants to speak English. Not very. I’ll be more than frustrated. And strangers? No. It’ll be a waste of my time and theirs. I’ll immediately kowtow to their ways just because I’ll feel under so much pressure. It will be my defense mechanism to get out of there. Once I’m out, chances are high that I won’t continue with therapy or that I’ll start to lie because I’ll be angry about having gone in there in the first place. On top of that, you want to take me away from the foundations in my life that are working – my swimming, my language class? No and no. I may experience specific frustrations with both of those, but both serve to get me out of the house and into the public. I’m forced to interact whether or not I want to, and I’m forced to find enough balance to not lose it. I think it’s good for me, and I don’t want to break from it.

Today has already started in a manner I’d rather it didn’t. It’ll be near impossible for me to keep to 4 Js considering my early aggravated beginning. Best I can hope for is to make myself tired enough to sleep a few hours in the afternoon.

And I’m not even there. I’ve been talking about my rage, not being in it. Heike’s gonna shit her pants when I come in, fully enraged.

Focus. Forward. If I suck back 5, I suck back 5. My mind is already made up in regards to Yoda; I’ll take any earlier appointment with him, thank you. I do not consider this state to be dangerous – to me or anyone else. I’m too mindful of it, for one. I’m not going outside trying to walk this anger out and hurting myself; I refuse to do that. And so far, I’m not reacting other than to walk away, think, and then rant when I come back home where it’s safe. My only concern has been whether or not my bro can handle it, and he put that to rest yesterday during our discussion. Kind of. He said it’s hard to sit thru not because I’m angry but because he agrees with everything I say. My views of the world political arena, financial games, societal ills. But that’s all. He’s not taking it in. And he’s not asking me to smoke it away.

Neither am I. That’s got to count for something.

With or Without Nuts

So the last 24 hours have been an Almond Joy. Full of nuts and nutty things. Full of life.

Heike is not fired. I impressed her with my Dutch (tja; wrote it down and read it; we all know how I make people sigh with my reading) and she listened. I said ‘bipolar’ and ‘complex post traumatic stress disorder’. I admitted my problems with women. I told her the thing I’ve heard most often from other people is that I’m too hard on myself. She nodded in the right places and offered me encouragement.

The one word that smacks of Heike for me today is ‘soft’. Not soft as in weak, but soft as in kind, gentle, quiet. I took a real look at how she handled me. There was once I felt just the tiniest bit manipulated by her words; I wondered if she said them to see if I’d cry, and I did a little bit. But it was a manipulation of kindness, a soft reminder that there are no quick fixes for this type of thing, no magic bullet to shoot into the air, and in the end it was all up to me. I was just raw enough the idea struck me deep, and I felt tired and alone and scared. I didn’t want it to be up to me. Then, as I was going, she looked me directly in the eye, held my gaze, and said ‘You’re doing really well’ – at which point I lost it entirely and had to wait a minute before I could leave her office. Of all the tools in her arsenal, kindness is going to be the hardest for me to take. I could have told her that, but I think she’s learned it for herself.

Apparently Yoda (who’s real name I now know, but I like calling him Yoda) thinks my case is pretty ‘urgent’. Heike said the center usually weans people off marijuana and keeps ’em clean for 6 weeks before diagnosing them. Not so for moi. I’m getting shrunk whether I be high or not. All I can say is hallelujah.

I’m happy to say all the stuff I’ve been doing – washing out my ashtrays, swimming, my work week – gets big thumbs up. I’ve got some homework for next week. It’s a sheet and across the top are pictures of a pot on a stove. The pictures progress to show the pot heating up and then boiling. I’m supposed to write down all this stuff like which emotion I’d attach to each picture, how my body feels in that emotion, what my thoughts are, what I do in each state, and what I’d like to do. Heike pointed out that most people have a hard time coming up with things for the calm picture. I countered by telling her about my Tuesday floating in the water, how peaceful it was. Yep. I hit on something she actually calls the ‘float effect’, and I’m supposed to do it every chance I get. Of course, I tried it this morning. It was kind of like masturbating but not orgasming. I got close, so close, but no cigar. Left me feeling a bit frustrated and tired. Nonetheless, I’ll keep trying to induce that state at will. If I can master it, it will be a powerful tool to help me calm down.

There’s a new sheriff in town, and he’s called responsibility. I’ve got my badge on today, and every day from here on out. My bro used to get the smoke for the house. Now, I’ve got a monthly stipend sitting in a tin in my room just for smoke. It’s my responsibility to keep my own stock up. If I choose to smoke it all away, so be it. BUT – if I choose to hold back, not smoke as much, the left over money is mine to do with as I please. Heike asked me to move forward with ideas for rewarding myself for not smoking, and this was my idea. I don’t want to reward my good behavior with food – that’s just another crutch and bad habit I’d need to break later. This is pure control. My choice. Smoke it all up – I’m perfectly within my rights to do so. I can get the heaviest marijuana I can buy if I want. OR I can lighten up, not smoke as much, and maybe buy myself something when the month is over. Some new clothes. A new book to enjoy. A CD I’ve been wanting. A game to play. I figured it was the most direct way for me to feel in control over what I’m trying to do. And yes, all my baggies are now getting marked as mine and only being smoked by me.

All new motivation. I like it. A LOT.

And I’m setting the pace on this. I was asked how fast I wanted to proceed. My plan is to continue at 5 Js a day until that’s easy, then take it down to 4. Repeat and rinse. Keep going to one a day, then one every other day, then maybe one a week.

Good Goddess, the prospect of clean lungs is appealing!

Next week in language class we’ll start to learn past tense. Knock my life up a notch. Take it to the next level – with everything. And just like when I began swimming, remember to take a break after each and every length. Catch my breath. This is NOT a race. This is me, rejoining life. Breaking off that crusty outer shell that’s built up. Getting back to that gooey center. With or without nuts.

Dream On

Fresh off mijn taal les and squeezing a post in before my appointment with my rheumatologist. I started my morning with water and breath and kicked ass (mine and everyone else’s) in the pool.

I received a letter from Addiction Central telling me I have an appointment on Wednesday 13 January. So much for waiting for a phone call. I got lucky; Wednesday mornings are free for me right now. Sometime in the next few days I’ve got to find the place. It’s in an area of the city I’ve never been in, taking connections I’ve never made. I’ll halve my stress by knowing where the hell I’m going, so the few euro it will take to make the journey over the weekend will be well spent. In the meantime I’m doing what I can to banish if from my mind and stay in the present.

All day yesterday I watched the clock. Waited for the day to be over because there was nothing to it, nothing in it. Then, when I was finally going to bed I thought tomorrow is another day of nothing and I had to correct myself. My day is bloody FULL today. Will be all the way to evening, just like someone who has a job or does REAL things with their life. So my mood? Up. Strong. Fierce. Not fierce as in get your ass out of my way or I’ll mow you down, but fierce as in I can handle whatever comes my way. This is a place I’d like to put roots down in, to stay. I’d accomplish a hell of a lot. However, I’ll ask for no more than today to get me through my schedule, and I’ll be glad for it. Tomorrow I can sloth in my pjs if I want.

My language lessons are going well. Quite well. My teacher thinks I’ll be able to fluently speak within a year. I’m beginning to think so too. I’ve been outed as the class star. Or prat, depending on how you view it. I’m trying to not be a prat. Never tried to be a prat. Just tried to excel. Anyway, I’ve found the idea a little less intimidating because I’ve shifted my goals. Yes, I still want to speak fluently. However, what I really want to do now is to write in Dutch, which is a whole other animal. Even Dutch people having problems writing in Dutch. It’s kind of a mad idea, real star reaching. If I can master it I think I’ll have a damned good chance of really finding work here – even if that work is freelance writing or translation.

New goals. Unexpected goals. That’s what I’m finding right now. Since the new goals are set a little higher than my old goals, my old goals seem far more achievable than they once did. Great! I do NOT need the intimidation factor setting in again.

I suppose an Astrology guru would say it’s in my nature. I’m a Sagittarius, the archer. Arrow always pointed up at the stars.

But really. Why shoot if your arrow isn’t pointed as high as it could possible go?

So I’m aiming high. I’m dreaming of a body that doesn’t hurt every damned day. I’m dreaming of fluently communicating in my new language. I’m dreaming of a LIFE again, with people in it and things to do.

We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea-breakers, And sitting by desolate streams;—World-losers and world-forsakers, On whom the pale moon gleams: Yet we are the movers and shakers Of the world for ever, it seems.

Dream on.


All the difference


There are very few people who want to get up early on Christmas Eve. Fewer still who want to be in the water at 7 in the morning. I was one, of course. After the first 20 minutes, when all the sprinters lose their oomph and spend more time at the end of the lane dilly-dallying than they do swimming, I hit my stride. By 30 minutes I was picking up speed. An hour in and my only question was whether I was going to get into the whirlpool for a bit. The four heads sticking out of tub told me no, go straight to the showers. Once again, that’s good timing. I get the best shower, with full hot water blasting on my shoulder for as long as I want it. Then I have my pick of changing rooms, and zero competition for the hair dryers.

Still no satisfying rush from endorphins.

But I’d taken the time to read the comments on my post ‘help’ before heading to the pool. I determined that today I was taking my last big pain pill. Didn’t think I needed to put my shoulder thru a day of pain and stiffness after swimming. And I’m ready with Ativan. For later, for tomorrow, for any and every day I need it. ‘Cause Lola’s right (thanks Lola – you have no idea how much your words helped); it’s not like I have enough pills to make a habit of it, and right now I NEED a bit of calming down. No need to go off on a killing streak. I wanted to write a STORY about serial killers, not become one.

Yesterday’s … what do I call it? Emergency? Crisis? C-PTSD reaction? Left me pretty shook up. Had that tightness that comes after an adrenaline dump in your body. Took two chocolate muffins, a shitload of emails to and from Blah, and an Aardman animation to get me back to a better state of mind. Then there’s the slew of guilt over just blowing my top like that. Never so happy as to hear from the tribe that I’m doing okay. I always feel like such a shit after an emotional outburst like that.

I’m able to smile and laugh if something funny enough happens. Probably still depressed. I’m not manic, and if I’m not manic, depression is never really that far away. There’s too much crap in the world to be HAPPY. And having said that, all the crap out there makes me cherish what’s good all the more. What a fucking conundrum we exist in. All it takes is one shitty person to ruin so much for so many. And then what do we do with said shitty person? Isn’t that a fucking difficult question to answer. Sometimes I think we just need to cordon off somewhere and declare it Shitsville. All the shitty people can go and live there and be shitty to each other. Leave the rest of us alone.

Ah, well. Rotterdam is not a shit free zone, but it’s as close as I’ve seen in this existence.

Joy. My computer alert just reminded me I’ve got to take my injection today. Nothing like starting a day by piercing your own flesh. Ick. I hate doing it. Of course, I hate NOT doing it more.

So it’s gonna start to get lighter and brighter from here on out. That’s really what these celebrations are supposed to be about. We’ve reached the peak of darkness in the Northern Hemisphere. We lived through it. The sun is coming back. Query: why do we insist the Southern Hemisphere celebrate our time of darkness? Simply because there’s MORE of us? How infantile.

I miss stargazing. There’s one thing I can’t do well in the city. It wasn’t all that great out in Ireland, either: too much rain and cloud cover. But when that wasn’t there, you could see everything. I learned many constellations while living there. Someday I must travel to the Southern Hemisphere. I need to see the Southern Cross with my own eyes.

Why all this focus on the Southern Hemisphere? My thoughts are with Blah. She tells me my ghost would be bored, sitting on her couch day after day with her. Maybe. But my ghost finds its way there, bored or not. I imagine heat, and sweat, and that smell that comes when the earth has been baked for days by the sun. The musky smell of big animals floating on the wind. And the sounds. Calls different than what I know. Sounds I don’t understand spoken and heard through windows and walls. A sun that is familiar, yet different, for the sun is as dependent upon the land it casts its light on as that land is for the warmth the sun’s rays provide. Perhaps I’m romanticizing it. But it is what I think of.

Dare I set that goal for myself? To travel there to South Africa? To see it with my own eyes, my real eyes – not the eyes of my imagination? What a thing to ponder. The many obstacles to overcome. It would be a very long term goal. Very.

Today rain is falling on the window. How different what my eyes see to what my heart feels. I am laying down with the lions. I have a dragon on my side; I call her friend. And that’s making all the difference.