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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.

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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.

A New Hope

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Friday morning, post script read through, and I am more ecstatic than expected. ūüėÄ My dark nightmares did not manifest themselves; I was not hemmed in, told what was wrong, or made to feel inadequate as a writer. On the contrary: I was given a rare compliment by a Dutch native on the story line.

How strange to have (relative) strangers read my work aloud! I planned and completed three read throughs, and had the pleasure of hearing people find their feet with characters and begin to bring them alive. I learned a whole lot, too. Like the fact that some people, no matter how many (PAUSES) you include or … you add to dialogue runthroughtheirlinesliketheirpantsareonfire. Found a couple of typos, and considering my computer went through a breakdown when I flipped my location to the Netherlands so¬†it no longer recognizes English as its main language and¬†I have to catch all the typos manually, that’s pretty effing good. Discovered a couple of production notes I want to add to the text to make things clearer to the actors.

But…and…the timing is good. I can stretch it by a few lines here and there. My most worrisome scene that uses more sound effects than dialogue came off well and the consensus was the audience will understand what’s going on.

Asked for and received positive responses to help me with my next script. I want a draft ready for a read through or workshop by October, leaving me two months to make changes before that deadline.

And I remembered another script¬†I want to write….

Yeah. Just a little manic today. Positive feedback does that to me. Feels odd to say that finding my feet after a positive experience is more difficult than finding my feet after a negative experience. Maybe that’s more a reflection of the type of life I’ve had rather than anything specific about me.

Nonetheless, the challenge remains. First on the list is resting. I was up after 6 hours of sleep, too hyped and excited about¬†starting the day to lay around¬†any more. Feeling it now, and with my bro already gone off to write at the library I’ve an opportunity to chill and close my eyes in front of the tv for an hour or two. Think I’ll take it. Then later, a good walk around to get some movement. A decent dinner, an early night. Tomorrow, a trip to the comic shop to say hi to the guys and see the new place. No writing before Sunday. I want last night’s experience and suggestions to simmer for 48 hours before committing them to paper.

Feeling good. A little worried that the Universe will send some disaster my way to un-balance me again.

But for now, I’ve A New Hope. *orchestral crash* Da. Da-da-da. Can¬†you hear the opening theme? I can.

Will you?

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In a city like Rotterdam, wind becomes a sneaky animal. Seems no matter what direction it starts from, once the wind begins winding through the Escher-esque buildings with cut away floors and balconies protruding from every available surface, it gains a slyness to it. It will buffet you this way and then that, hitting you square in the face from multiple directions. You never really know from what direction it will come. Only where the city gives way to water expanses do these air acrobatics cease. The edges of the ocean, the river, the lakes – that’s¬†where you can find true wind, blasting its way across the flatness of Holland and the North Atlantic, bringing a sea salt tinge and wayward seagulls inland.

This true wind met me as I stepped off the metro yesterday. End stop: Nesselande. Down the walkway, to the left of¬†towering buildings that competed for the eye’s attention with hue changes, filigree looking glass designs, and sheer overhang intimidation. Opposite, open park and nothingness. Where strange buildings ended and nothingness met, the beach began.

A few sailboats and windsurfers skimmed across the surface of the lake. They raced the clouds above, seeming to fly across the water as swift as their air borne competitors ran before the breath of the gods. A few groups of pre-teens passed me, their phones out and their eyes glued to the screen: Pokemon. Three women and their assorted children ignored the wind and the clouds, determined to soak up what sun there was on offer.

People were scattered on the boardwalk. A few walked dogs.¬†A few joggers. A few like me, just meandering. I nodded, and smiled, and said hello. Far down the beach I saw a¬†skeleton set up for a festival. That drew me on to the very last park bench along the boardwalk. There I sat for a moment, my arms thrown wide, my head back – a summer gesture. While I was genuinely happy to grasp this nostalgic moment of summers past despite the decidedly un-summery weather, my head was already asking: where is that person I need to help today? It was as if the wind had blown them all away to roost in dark corners I wasn’t seeing. I knew they were there; I just couldn’t find them.

A bit more walking to the very end. No trailing off of the city into suburbs. It is a clean cut, a butcher’s chop. The very last building and then – nothing. Nothing but the road paralleled by the bike path, a straight shot to the horizon. It was easy to imagine the road never ending yesterday. No hills, no curves: it carved through the land like a young river, too bold to be waylaid by any simple land obstruction.

I wondered where it would take me. Sometimes that urge to just go is very strong in me. But as I gazed at the horizon and wondered the clouds that earlier seemed so buoyant and playful became dark and menacing things, gathering at the precise point of road meets distance. The wind shooed me back, past the towering buildings and the women trying to tan, past more zombie children with eyes fixed on their mobiles, to the ghost metro station of Nesselande. My carriage awaited me, and in a few short moments I was home.

My spiritual malaise over not finding someone special to help caused me to take my helper’s eyes out. I was just me, heading home. No poetry, no epiphanies. I told myself I’d done well. Fresh air and exercise for an hour all topped off with a smile and a good attitude. But a lingering petulance still plagued me, a dissatisfaction at not accomplishing what I’d set out to do.

I swung the door to my building open with more force than necessary – an indication that all was not well in Beeps world. My aggression was met with a flash of annoyance: two young girls were running around the small lobby in some sort of game. Their pink bikes were mini obstructions to get around before I could access my post box. I grabbed the papers stuffed in the box and turned to see the girls waiting for the lift, still pushing each other playfully. Taking a breath, I prevented myself from rolling my eyes by shifting my attention to the handful of flyers and newspapers I held as I walked towards the lift. On top of the mess lay one half sheet: a color in picture for kids.

Wil je dit?

I didn’t think, didn’t bother to probe my mind to find out if what I was saying was proper Dutch. It was out of my mouth before any of that could occur. And the girls were nodding yes, they wanted it. Their heads bent together over the flyer, their eyes reading what I¬†was much slower to realize: it was a contest.¬†They left the lift on their floor, their horseplay over and done with. Excited whispers accompanied pointing at the flyer. Dag, they said to me with a smile.

It took five full steps out of the lift before I realized that I’d just done what I wanted to do. It wasn’t what I expected, and it certainly wasn’t what I was looking for – or where I was looking for it.

But that’s kindness. It’s a wind through the city type of thing, not a wind off the lake thing. It meanders, it shifts, it changes direction dramatically on you. You’ll never know where or when the opportunity will come at you. In that way, kindness is sly. It wears many guises. It sneaks up on you when you’re not looking, then stands at your feet at stares at you eye to eye, eyebrow raised in the perpetual question kindness always asks.

Will you?

Fly Like an Eagle

Victory. Yesterday I got a big one: not only did I make the phone call I needed to, I spoke and was spoken to in Dutch for the entire conversation, was understood, and understood what was said to me. Nothing like that break-through high; I floated on smiles and confidence for the rest of the day. My appointment is tomorrow morning at 9:30, which will necessitate a journey during rush hour, including a bus transfer.¬†I’m not intimidated. Just the opposite; I’m looking forward to attempting to converse¬†more in Dutch (my appointment is with someone new; the gent I’ve been working with is on holiday).

I felt so good yesterday that as 2:30 rolled around and my home Dutch lesson was over with, I didn’t dither or delay in taking a walk. On went my shoes, and out into the fresh air I walked for a full hour. My only pause was an almost reverential experience. I happened upon a lone dog in the park. Well groomed and collared, I knew it to be someone’s beloved pet but it seemed to be out there all alone. I stopped and did what I always do: I talked to it. As I was contemplating what to do – should I take it home with me, or search for its owner in the park – a woman approached. Relief flooded thru me; I was spared making any tough decisions about the animal. She had watched me with the dog. Maybe I’m unique in the way I approach animals; I don’t know. What I do know is the woman touched my arm, her eyes met mine, and she said ‘Lieverd, dank u’ (darling, thank you) with so much emotion in her voice I felt beatified. Blessed, I continued on my way and came home with a decent sweat built up in exchange for my effort.

This morning echoed yesterday. Back to the pool after a four week absence. I was surprised to hear¬†The Beastie Boys playing when I entered the swimming area – so pleasantly surprised that I exclaimed aloud and gave a thumbs up to the attendant standing nearby. That led to another conversation – mostly in English; his¬†Dutch was too much for me ¬†– in which I was told to please submit some music suggestions to the class instructor, she’d really appreciate it (yeah; I’m prepping a list). Into the water – warm, the temperature of a perfect relaxing tub. Once again my instructor impressed me by coming over to inquire why I hadn’t been in class. She doesn’t have to; she just does. Just one more human kindness freely given here.

As my language skills open up, that is what I’m most impressed with in Dutch society. The simple social skills the Dutch have. The little kindnesses they show to everyone, one and all, that makes life here special. I’ve lived in cities, suburbs, and rural wilderness. Never before have I encountered such an urban lifestyle combined with small town manners.

I feel seen. So often I’ve passed as a ghost through this place or that. Not here. Here I am becoming part of the neighborhood. Someone you nod and say hello to as you pass by. It is not an interest born of malice, as I’ve encountered in other parts of the world. The people here are not looking for your weaknesses in order to exploit you. Rather, they seem to understand that they live as a people or die as individuals. Their choice has been life. And what a life they’ve created! A mix of the best of socialistic views with enough environmentalism¬†and a sprinkle of capitalism to act as an inducement for¬†innovation. The world could learn a lot from the Dutch.

I’m happy. Not that wild manic happy, but a contented pleasantness that permeates every pore in my body. Even my little aches and pains, still with me, seem inconsequential to the larger bulk of HAPPY in my life right now.

Smiling is so easy right now.

And yes, I’m well aware that my current well of contentedness is springing from my interaction with other people. That’s what you can get when you stop picking belly button lint and try. Of course it’s risky. Of course I’m on a lucky streak right now.

It’s just real nice when things work out well once in awhile. So I’m enjoying it. There’s a bittersweet element to it, too. I know that, unfortunately, my happiness doesn’t radiate through everyone. I have friends who are still in very bad places. It’s hard to not feel a little guilty over feeling so good when people I care about feel like shit. But I would not begrudge them happiness if I was down. I’d be pleased¬†that they, at least, feel good. I hope my friends think similarly.

True to yesterday’s post, I changed my desktop photo. I had a twinge of guilt for personifying a perfectly innocent elephant with my sister’s twisted spirit, but I accept that I’ve made the connection now and it’s not harming anyone or anything (I fully support saving the elephants, btw). Today the photo on my desktop is equally symbolic. A lone eagle is flying near a giant waterfall, all lit in that early morning yellow you don’t see unless you get your ass up out of bed while it’s still dark. Yep, that eagle is me. A tiny dot against a giant backdrop. And still flying, despite the obvious show of brutal strength in the background.

Fly, baby girl. Fly like an eagle.

 

It Felt Appropriate

WARNING! WHILE THE AUTHOR IS IN NO WAY SHITTING RAINBOWS, SHE IS PRETTY DAMNED HAPPY. DEAL WITH IT.

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AAaaaaaaahhhhhhh! I have an entire week to let my feet rest before returning to Amsterdam. If I felt like dancing, I would get up and do a jig. As it is, I’ll say ‘Ah!’ with satisfaction, take another sip of coffee, and lick my lips with pleasure. It’s good to be home.

Our last day in Amsterdam with J was the best. The weather was sunnier and warmer, the wind less biting. Saturday in Amsterdam – ANY Saturday in Amsterdam – is busy. The guys had their fill of museums and gardens and Dutch kitsch, oh my! so we took them off the beaten path and out to Vondelpark. We popped for some more travel passes for the two of them, then hopped the 2 tram to the Rijksmuseum which is just a stone’s throw from the entrance to the park. We strolled through the park. The Dutch were out enjoying the day and the crowds of tourists disappeared. We stopped for a cup of coffee at Blauwe Theehuis, a little kiosk place that’s been in the center of Vondelpark since the dawn of time. With the guys low on cash it was all about just enjoying the time they had left in the city. I was actually a bit glad they were so broke; J’s boyfriend had no manic knee going because he was busting to get out and do something. That frontal facade that you can get in this type of situation – J’s boyfriend didn’t know us before this visit – melted away. He and I spent quite some time dropping social niceties and really talking. I saw his hyper smiling vanish and get replaced by somber, almost tearful memories. We shared some personal pain with each other, and grew closer because of it. We wound the day up with a delicious meal at Sherpa’s, a Tibetan food place that’s outstanding. Then a slow walk back to their hotel, a somewhat teary good-bye with many hugs, and it was time to go. The train pulled out of the station just before sunset, so our short trip was one of gorgeous colors and silhouettes while we rode in style in first class. No, we didn’t pony up for it. The goddess intervened; we were sent a promotional package with some advertising in the mail. The package included two free upgrades to first class within the next 30 days, so we took advantage of it. Got to say it might have done the trick; my bro thinks we should upgrade our chipcards to first class status if it’s not too much more money. Wider seats, more leg room, and plenty of arm rests. Plus not too many people travel first class so there’s always seats available, unlike second class.

Despite my bro at times driving me up the wall (he DIDN’T, by the way, try to buy shoes on the way to the train yesterday), despite the pain in my body from so much walking, I’ve been so happy these last few days. So happy to see J again. So happy to rediscover how easy it is to get around this country. So happy to think that yes, I CAN get out and do things. I CAN shop around Amsterdam for a day and come home. I CAN manage to find my way in the train station without getting lost. It’s been very affirming.

I’ve even been called pretty. I know, I know! That’s completely petty. Still. It makes me feel good.

May has begun and I guess the weather has finally taken its bipolar medication because in less than a week it’s scheduled to be up in the 20s and stay there. There’s just enough time to take a day for our feet, then my bro and I have to kick it into gear and get ready for the warmer weather. He’s on anti-mosquito patrol and I’m¬†on tomato watch. We don’t get many mosquitos here, especially being on the 4th (or 5th, depending on how you count it) floor. The ones we DO get, however, seem a bit dizzy from their journey to this altitude and are doubly determined to get some of your blood to calm down and find their way out. So my bro wants to fashion some mosquito netting around the windows. As for me, my little tomato seedlings are now stout, hardy plants that will need new pots in the next week. My assignment (since I’ve chosen to accept it) is to find new pots and do the transplanting. I’m happy to have the occasion to putter around on a small scale like this. Just enough gardening to give me purpose but not enough to take over my life. Perfect.

Feels like I got a real shot in the arm of sunshine and lollipops just before heading into summer. Great! If it can carry me through the drudge days of heat and sweat I’ll be very thankful.

And maybe – maybe – I’ll get back to actually creating something rather than just talking about creating something. Turn on the studio. Get those final cuts of my new trance. Been thinking long and hard about pans and effects these days. Keep going back to my¬†source of all great trance: Sven Vaeth. First thing I need to do is turn the studio on and play with effects. Make some choices. Then we’ll need to pull apart our lovely living area again and squash our new dining area so the studio can have some breathing room because I already know one thing: I want both mixing boards hooked up to give me maximum room. I recorded in on my small board and was limited to 16 tracks but my recording equipment can handle 24 tracks. That buys me 8 tracks for special runs, edits, punches, and cuts. Since both my small board and my big board have problem channels, hooking them both up ensures I can pick out the best channels¬†to use. I may even be able to do some voodoo wiring and increase my effects channels. Sick.

I don’t usually use that word in that context. I’m not 20. But hey! It felt appropriate.

Meat and Potatoes Served Up Well

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I am geeking in Geekdom, dudes.

A couple of months ago and I was living like a squatter who broke into this place. Loads of stuff everywhere. It looked trashy.

A couple of weeks ago and I was living like a poor student. Big, functional stuff that got my crap up off the floor but didn’t do anything to make the room feel better.

This morning I walked into a living room. A real living room for real people. The first thing I noticed was a space we opened up from shoving moving the studio stuff back. It was¬†blank. A bare-assed bit of wall is showing and that’s so shocking it’s like a woman in 1890 showing her ankles. Then I stepped into the room and saw the dining table. Oh! What a table. It looks like I plucked it from the pages of a catalog. Certainly it doesn’t look like we got the table for free; people almost paid us to take it away. And now the¬†chairs¬†are there. You can SIT at my dining table. First time ever. Before it was an art installation piece. A¬†concept¬†of a dining table without all the fuss and muss. I was all ready to print up a card announcing the following:

This table is a statement on the breakdown of the modern family in the 21st century. Married people no longer stay married. Families break apart. Modern technology has us all googling and texting rather than talking to each other. This installation reflects our expectations of family, yet our unwillingness to sit down and MAKE a family. The emptiness of such a life is reflected by a lack of chairs and in the glass medium the artist chose to use for the table.

Betcha I could get a six figure grant for that. Hmmmmmm…..

But¬†NOW…Now I have a gracious table. My green and purple chairs are here, the flowers I bought still look fresh, and I can’t wait for someone else to SEE how nice it looks. Even my bro, who’s allergic to just about every flower on this planet, loves having the fresh flowers on the table. We spent half of last night turning around in our chairs to just gaze on our dining table.

And we have two small, simple sitting chairs (on coasters, so we can move them around) of light blue in the living area. Honestly, all this colorful stuff in the room now makes our recliner chairs look dirty and clunky. It’ll be a couple of years before we can do anything about that, though.

I’m doubly happy today because the under my skin stress bubble that had been building between me and my bro broke. We were almost at each other’s throats. Even had some angry words with each other. Now that the furniture is here and the room is re-arranged it’s like we’re new people. My bro is less prickly and I’m smiling more. Great room chi. Or qi, if you want to spell it like that. I’ll take the phonetic version.

Gave my teacher a copy of my book. Really sweated over what to write in the front for him. Finally settled on a couple of relatively easy phrases in Dutch. I hope he likes it. I explained it was written for a young adult market. I was aiming for the post-Harry Potter people. Certainly nothing scholarly like his book! While we were talking, I mentioned my music. Took him completely by surprise; my bro has talked a lot about music but I haven’t mentioned my part in it. For one thing, my bro and I are well tired of being taken as the Bobbsey Twins. It’s happened¬†all our lives¬†to the point where some people begin to think we’re one person and we have the same opinions on every subject. For another, I’ve learned the hard way that it’s too easy to overload people with all I do. Most people probably think ‘And what do you do?’ is an easy, simple question to ask anyone. It’s one of the first things you ask someone you just met, right?¬†What do you do for a living?¬†It puts them in context for you; are they busy with a high end career or just kind of muddling through with a job? For me, that question is one of the hardest ever to answer. I usually just pick ONE of the many things I do. With my teacher I latched onto my writing. It was natural, learning a new language, to gear my answer towards my work with words. There’s probably hundreds (thousands?) of people of this planet who’ve met me and who think I’m a rather flat, one dimensional person who does one thing. That’s because they don’t stick around. Like I said, I won’t overload anyone with the full list.¬†What do I do? What DON’T I do might be easier to answer. Anything creative. I’m an author, a published poet, a performance poet, an actress, a composer, a musician, a singer, an arranger, and I also paint. Haven’t tried sculpting yet, but I’d like to. Then there’s the subtext questions. What instruments do you play? Oh, gods! Really? I can pull a tune out of just about anything. It’s just too much.

So out there I don’t say much. At least not at first. I need people to know me as me before I reveal the full extent of my artistic madness.

Anyway, my teacher now knows a bit more about me. I could see something click in his head, some AHA! moment. I must have answered the question of WHY my bro and I live together for him. Yes, it’s the music that ties us together. Always has been.

Nothing artistic on the chop block today. It’s all meat and potatoes stuff. Hoovering, dusting, cleaning the sinks, the toilet, the dishes. Ugh. Yet I know today it will be easier than it usually is to do those chores. My setting has changed. It might be just a meat and potatoes day, but it’s served up well. Presentation is everything.

Flowers and Fears

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For the first time in 35 years I have fresh flowers sitting in a vase. When I was a kid I’d gather them from outside; lilacs, peonies, and occasionally a bunch of weeds I thought looked pretty. I stopped doing it when I was 15 or 16. Maybe it was the beginning of real depression for me. All I remember thinking was how sad it seemed for the flowers to die off in that vase, cut off from their sisters and shoved into a foreign environment. It didn’t feel right anymore. It made me more sad than happy. Then I convinced myself (and, I think, everyone around me) that I didn’t like flowers by loudly declaring that I thought cut blooms¬†were a waste of money. So I never got them. Correction. I got flowers¬†once.¬†From a friend for my birthday. That’s the only time. But, you know…flowers were expensive and it seemed there were always more pressing things I had to spend money on.

Not so in the land of flowers.

Yesterday I picked up two bunches of tulips that were on sale for ‚ā¨1 each. Yellow and purple. I wanted fresh flowers for when J comes to visit. For me, nothing screams Netherlands like fresh flowers. I know it’s a bit early, but with the sale price I thought what the hell. I’m so glad I did it. Can’t even begin to describe what those bright blooms are doing for me right now. It’s like two dozen bits of sunshine sitting on my table.

I think fresh flowers will be found in my home more and more.

My hair is sublime. The roots are done and I’m sporting a new cut. More layers for the hot weather. Showered yesterday and my hair went complete Shirley Temple. Ringlet curls EVERYWHERE. Not frizzy, out of control stuff, but perfect little swirls¬†that look like I put curlers in my hair.

Shit…okay. Gonna talk about something that I don’t feel so good about. I made the mistake of bombarding my bro with information the other day. He’d just come home and was wound up. I didn’t help. It’s been a long time since I did something like that, but the sting of his reaction – which I KNOW he didn’t mean to so sound so snappish, but he did – really hurt. I’ve been berating myself for it ever since. It was a set-up. I KNOW it was a set-up. Had he been more relaxed or had I been a wee bit less manic myself, none of it would have happened. Nonetheless. I’d like an apology from him. I’d like to apologize TO him, as well. But my gut says I’ll apologize and he won’t. He usually doesn’t. Maybe that’s my fault. I don’t ask for an apology. I always feel apologies should be given freely, not asked for. An asked for apology is kind of worthless. Is that my stubborn pride? I don’t know.

I guess the best thing I could do is just tell him I felt hurt. Not like he attacked me verbally, but I DO feel skittish over broaching the subject with him again. That’s just a basic break down in communication, and should be addressed. There’s no real hurt feelings over it. He didn’t say I was wrong or ‘bad’ in any way. He just got that ADHD/Autism look on his face, which unfortunately conveys a lot of anger and frustration. I took it in. Not my fault and not his fault. But it does need to be brought to light so it doesn’t fester in the dark recesses of my head.

Ugh. I may need to write that down in detail to bring up much later on. The timing isn’t right¬†for a long discussion. We’re both attempting to take care of various tasks before our guests arrive, and we’re both a bit naturally wound up. Talking about it now…smells like another set-up to me. Too easy for one of us to say the wrong thing and set each other off.

Right. Check. Handle this in adult mode. Unfortunately, the discussion involves a purchase. If I wait to talk to him until after our friends leave, the purchase will already have been made and the consequences will just have to be dealt with. If I broach the subject at the wrong time, we might have one hell of an argument just due to our own moods.

DAMN! This really is an adult moment. Make a fucking decision on your own, Beeps. People do it all the fucking time. It can’t be THAT hard.

Right. I need a few questions answered first. That means getting them on my own, not relying on my brother to sort it out. Okay. The question is over some train tickets on offer by a local supermarket chain. They sound almost too good to be true – which is what I want to find out. That means heading downtown to the train station to talk to someone in English. Go right to the source. What, exactly, will these tickets get me? If all seems okay, I’ll buy them. Any flutter of doubt and I won’t.

Great. I can do it tomorrow. I can even talk to my teacher today, in case I don’t get someone with good English at the train station. Get a few easy Dutch questions ready that I can handle. Or maybe my teacher will just look it up on his computer and tell me right there.

Oh, hell. I didn’t count on all this grown up stuff. I guess I can handle¬†train tickets, for Pete’s sake. Still…

One more opportunity to prove to myself I can do it, right? That’s what I need to see. Not a mountain of obstacles to get over, but a chance to say to myself that I did it all by myself and feel some pride, some¬†confidence¬†in myself.

I hope I’m ready.

Vidalia Season

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My fun and sunny day never showed up. It remained cloudy and cool, with no forthcoming suggestion from my brother to let loose and treat myself. Rather the opposite; I was asked how many boxes I wanted for the living room area and what colors. So my original plan was resurrected and I cleaned. NOT top to bottom as my head kept telling me I should do, but an all around pick up and tidy which was easier on me and more effective visually than super cleaning one spot.

I am VERY unsophisticated. It’s not that I don’t like nice things – I do. But I see no reason to have clothes you can’t relax in, furniture you can’t sit in, carpets you can’t walk on, all to keep things ‘nice’. That’s asinine behavior from people who have too much money.¬†We don’t sit in that room unless we have company.¬†Say whaaaaat? Where do you live, Downton Abbey?

My house is so small…

How small is it?

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I should have a slew of jokes ready for that. I’ve only got the one, and it’s only for my bedroom: My bedroom is so SMALL that when a mouse moved in I had to get an extension put on.

Anyway, my home is as unsophisticated as I. Color schemes don’t exist. Stuff is just stored as neatly as possible. My brother…he isn’t quite a hoarder, but he comes close. We carried some broken studio equipment from the US to Canada to Ireland (paying $$ each time) because ‘maybe someday’ he’d get it fixed and use it. And hey! What do you call someone with 15,000 comics? He’s got a lot of stuff. If you saw the wall of DVDs…well, you’d say it looks like a rental DVD place, and you’d be right. There might be more than a thousand.

My point is I won’t¬†bother trying to bring this living room together into any cohesive whole. There’s the tv corner, the studio corner, the kitchen corner, and the dining/computer corner. There you have it: the full layout of the living room. It’s packed. It’s also now colorful. My bro is as childish as I am at heart, so he had no problem getting boxes in every color they had. Green, turquoise, red, orange, dark blue, yellow. A bit more of that and the living room¬†will echo the colors in my bedroom. Combine the colors with two dominating windows, one to the east and one to the west which flood the living room in perpetual light, and it’s a light hearted room to be in despite the clutter.

The good mood generated from seeing the house neater just keeps on snowballing. Get one spot cleaned up, move some stuff around, and suddenly a LOT is tidier. Spent quite a bit of time yesterday opening up my kitchen cupboards. That used to be asking for a pile of kitchenware to fall out onto the floor. Now I can see where stuff is and what I have.

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Also tidied up the light fixtures, which right now are nothing more than hanging bare bulbs ala ‘Hollow Hills’ from Bauhaus on the Reunion Tour (anyone? other than me?). They used to be hanging bare bulbs with big gaping holes where the wires come out. Now they’re all capped. Unfortunately, we lost electric to one of our outlets. Just happens to be the outlet I plug my computer and the studio into. Going to have to call in an electrician to find the fault. I spent about 2 hours yesterday afternoon without access to my computer, and never in the history of the WORLD has there been two longer hours. Man! I thought I jonesed when I stopped¬†smoking. Nothing compared to going cold turkey from my computer. Suddenly I couldn’t write, I couldn’t play, I couldn’t access the internet to talk to anyone. I felt like there was very little I could do to fill my time: only¬†tv or reading. I take back every gentle laugh, every joke, every thing I ever said that might have been disparaging to people who’d lost their mobiles. If they live on them like I live on my computer, I now understand. It’s almost like a death. We rely on our phones and computers so much that when they’re gone they leave this big hole in our lives that’s damned difficult to fill.

Modern day addiction. I can see why clinics are opening up to help people off their gadgets.

Guess that’s the set up to talk about smoking – my personal addiction. It’s going well, thank you. Smoking one now. Will smoke again after breakfast. Will smoke this afternoon while I play and enjoy the new cleanliness of the living room. Right now all I ask of myself is that I don’t smoke so heavily my smoker’s cough returns.

Today is the girl’s day. Time for me to ask what she wants to talk about and give her space to ramble on. I’m less uneasy about doing that since I’ve not been thrown by it. I feel like I can talk to myself, discover a thing or two, but not carry any negativity from remembered emotions or scenarios. Feels like I’m developing some space between hurtful memories and the person I see as me. I’m more apt these days to take a look at what the other people in my memories might have been going thru rather than just blame them. Don’t know if that’s ‘right’ or not. Maybe I need to process more. Maybe I’m just ready to move on. After all, I’ve already spent the better part of my life trying to figure out why I am the way I am.

I’ve no delusions that I’ll come to an ‘end’. The only ‘end’ to personal growth is death, and on the right day I’ll even argue THAT. But since we reside in a linear time reality, we really are on an unending journey of self discovery. Our memories add up; we make decisions over ourselves, our friends and loved ones, and our world based on what we make of our personal history.

For now, I’m on a stable layer. A peel on the Onion of Truth that isn’t ready to slide off in your hand.

And damn! Today the Onion isn’t even a crier. Must be vidalia season.

C’mon, Jackpot!

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Ah!¬†Back to my preferred order in life: wake up, coffee, and blogging. I can do those other days but they’re just not the same.

Big, big plans today. Whirlwinds of cleaning. We’ll see how long my body can keep going. Dust sucking might just knock me out; there’s still a lot of moving and bending and maneuvering involved even with the new shelves and new storage spaces. Then there’s window cleaning and getting out on the balcony (might need to wear hazmat clothing for THAT job). And of course, the inevitable dishes that need doing.

Or maybe my brother will wake up and say ‘Hey! It’s a great day. Let’s let the housework sit and go do something’, in which case I won’t get anything done around the house. I never know.

And it IS supposed to be nice weather…

The longer I contemplate it, the more I think I should let all the ‘work’ I usually reserve for weekends go. Get outside today. Go somewhere different. Have fun.

Been saying that a lot lately –¬†have fun.¬†Maybe it’s my mortality creeping up on me. Seize the day, have a laugh, because tomorrow you may die.

Fuck. I’m a cheery camper, aren’t I?

Okay… I’ve¬†deliberately¬†shorted myself on a cup of coffee this morning. That’s a damned good reason to get out and have a cuppa somewhere public. Be social. See and be seen.

Do something.

Stop. Right now. You just made it sound like you sit on your ass doing nothing all day long. That’s not true. Want to back up and restate that?

I want to do something different today. Outside. In the nice weather.

Better.

Finally got all the print outs of the paperwork I need to renew my passport. AND the letter to Heike. Got to sign that sheet and dump it in the post. Today. Get it off my back, good-bye, sayounara, so-long.

I might be paranoid, BUT…It sure seemed to me that my rheumatologist was taking an awful lot of notes, clacking away on her computer during my visit. And I think she was mirroring me deliberately, testing my mood. Of course I was excited about my shoes, chattering away non-stop. She slipped a comment in, something along the lines of ‘It’s so much easier to be energetic and happy when your feet don’t hurt so much’. That just makes me go¬†Hmmmmm. Medical files are very integrated here; the fact that I was seeking help at Addiction Central as well as any notes like ‘depressive’ or ‘bipolar’ would have come up when she pulled my info.

Well. So be it. I never said I was anything but what I am. Maybe if someone compiles all the notes from all the doctors visits they’ll see it.

Been thinking less lately. lol! Not that I’ve been acting like a ditz; Beeps don’t do that (unless I’ve been drinking, then it’s a different story). I just haven’t spent every minute lately analyzing myself, trying to figure out why I’m feeling this way or that way. Of course I can only DO that because I haven’t had any strong negative emotions come up in the past 24-48 hours. Odd. I let myself be happy to just be happy. I won’t let myself be sad to just be sad. No. Sadness needs ‘fixing’. Anger needs ‘fixing’. Anxiety needs ‘fixing’. The only emotion that doesn’t need fixing is happiness.

There’s a flaw in that thinking.

So let me take a minute here….

Okay. I’m happy because I’m looking forward to J’s visit. I’m really getting excited about it. I’m happy because I’ve still got my trial pair of shoes, which means my feet are protected and I can walk. I’m happy because my custom shoes are getting worked on, and to have all that effort and money spent on¬†my feet¬†makes me feel special. I’m happy because I feel I’m making progress with the language. I’m happy because flowers are blooming and the trees look like they have lace hung on them and I LOVE everything that spring brings. I’m happy because finances are getting a bit better, the house is looking neater and cleaner, and I don’t look so scruffy some of¬†the time.

Sounds like logical, real life reasons¬†to be happy. While my thoughts still get ahead of me – stuff like thinking I’ll be able to clean the whole house, top to bottom, in one day – I’ve been able to realize that thinking is ultimately destructive to me, and take a more leisured pace. I haven’t wanted to push myself physically, so I’ve not hurt myself. Just the opposite. When I find myself walking briskly I check my step, pull back a bit to¬†ensure¬†I don’t hurt myself.

Good days, in other words. Drink them up to the last drop.

There’s no great surprise for me in finding that having something to look forward to, feeling less in pain and more mobile, feeling more confident with the language, and feeling less financially restricted all makes me happy. I’d think anyone would feel happier.

Where will the future take me? Don’t know. Had a long talk with my bro last night about a cordial I make. His¬†kickboxing instructor was ill, so my bro took him a bottle of this stuff. It’s my own recipe. Amazing drink; clears your throat like you wouldn’t believe and it tastes great, too. ANYway, his instructor is a big fan of it (as are most people who try it) and he thinks we should get it out on the market. The great thing is that his instructor is a business man first, well versed in the ins and outs of Dutch business practice. He also is a very sociable person, and has many connections. So who knows what will happen? I may just get introduced to someone who wants to license the recipe from me. Ka-ching! That’s money in the bank with zero effort. I’ll take that.

I’m feelin’ lucky. And today is a lotto day. C’mon, jackpot!