Post Narrative Bliss

Post narrative bliss. I think that’s what I’ll call it. That almost orgasmic experience I have at the end of a good story. You know it’s coming. Visually, you can see you’re near the end of the story. Narratively, if you’re reading a good author, you get that feel, too. The story is winding up. These characters are about to say good-bye to you. The denouement is always bittersweet to me. If the story was good enough, I don’t want to say good-bye. I want the ending, the wrap-up, that feeling of completion – but I don’t want these new friends to leave my life. I’ve heard of some people who never read the last page so they can avoid this whole mess. That’s silly to me. A good story is like a snow globe you can enter and play in. It’s always there, always the same, and always snowing. That perfect capsule of sweet imagination isn’t ruined by tasting the last drop. Just the opposite; the last words of a tale are often the ones that haunt you, that make you pick it up and read it again. I won’t cheat myself of that thrill.

So there I was, about two in the afternoon, totally in post narrative bliss. My breathing was a little ragged, I sighed like a lovesick Juliette, and my first thought was ‘I’ll never find another story like that’. Nothing could compare. But you know…I was very happy just to be there. To feel that much after reading a story. And to get it in Dutch, my new language, was a double hit. I’ve felt so dumb, trying to learn this language. But Dahl was like a skilled lover. He made me feel smart for understanding so much. He gave his typical Dahl style – that kind of adults-not-allowed childhood funny that makes the reader feel like they’re the only one in the world who knows the author’s secrets. I felt special for understanding his jokes. I felt uplifted, honored that someone would share such a tale with me. And I felt loved. The warmth of the description, the innocence portrayed in the characters…it was narrative love, and I held my arms open and sucked it all in. My soul feels fed. It’s not reaching for, wanting. It’s just dozily happy, with that crazy smile on its face.

Satisfied. I be satisfied. Thank you, Roald Dahl. And thank you, translator of Roald Dahl. You did a great job.

More childlike stuff: my brother has concocted what has to be the BEST treat I’ve ever tasted. He starts with his secret recipe for French toast, which, btw, you can’t call ‘French toast’ over here because it’s not French nor toast and they don’t know what you’re on about. That alone, topped with maple syrup, is outstanding. But here’s the twist: before the syrup goes on, he sprinkles the top of the bread with hagelslag. What’s hagelslag? American term: sprinkles, the kind you’d put on top of ice cream. Here, they put it on their bread for breakfast (an odd habit I still can’t quite wrap my head around). The heat from the French toast melts the hagelslag and forms a thin layer of melted, rich chocolate. Out. of. this. world. There is no hope of escape; when he makes it, the scent fills our flat and I dare anyone to just sit there, smell all that, and then say ‘no thanks’ to that tasty goodness. I’ve gotta ask him to stop making it so often.

Lol! On the other hand, I’ve full plans to go ahead and make my own goodies to pile the inches on around my hips and waist. LLR nut that I am, I dubbed the recipe ‘lembas’ after the elven bread Frodo and the team eat on their way to Mordor. It’s subtly addictive. Lightly sweet – so lightly sweet you barely feel like you’ve had a treat. And there’s the catch. You can eat them and eat them and eat them all day long (I’ve seen it). There’s a couple of tricky ingredients you need for real lembas, and I can get them here. The only thing that’s held me back is the time involved. It’s a double batter recipe that then gets twisted together in a marbled effect. Very hand intensive. I haven’t felt up to it, but after taking care of a part of me I didn’t know was starving I finally feel I have the oomph to do it.

My bro ran a printed copy of the trilogy for me. He put it down on the table with a ‘here’s your book’. I glanced at it and thought ‘that’s just a story’. Our two perspectives say a lot about our writing skills and style: he is at the beginning, seeing a pile of paper and thinking ‘that’s a lot of writing!’, and I am further on, knowing that the words never stop flowing and that tiny pile is just a fraction of what I’ve committed to permanent form as ‘the written word’. I have the weekend to page through it and allow myself to feel pride. Not out in orbit this is the best thing ever, but calm pride. I’ve worked on this for a year now, thinking and honing and outlining and writing. While not the longest piece I’ve written, it is, perhaps, the most complete. The tightest and fullest without being so verbose that I knock the audience out from sheer pontification. And it’s not static; I’m particularly proud of that. Not a bunch of people on the stage just talking, oh, no!

Oh, I really hope they like it.

…And what will it feel like, I wonder, to see my story produced and acted out on stage? I get that post narrative bliss after writing. Will this take that experience to a new level?

I can see it now.

A darkened theatre. The last curtain down. The audience applauds. And from the back you can hear me, moaning like Meg Ryan in ‘When Harry Met Sally’.

Post narrative bliss.



The more I physically heal, the more anger I feel. Old stuff. Same old stuff. No need to go thru it again.

Trying to monitor this shit for real, ’cause…well, pain. That, and I figure I’ve had enough of it at my age.

Spent two hours on the phone talking to S last night. It’s strange to have a friend who just wants to chat on the phone. But I was happy to catch up with her, happy to feel good enough to talk normally. She made me laugh – hard – when she told me the guy who played my husband in the film got cut. The crew got to the editing suite and no one like his footage or performance. Even their teacher watched his stuff and said ‘cut it’. Now S is ducking the actor because she doesn’t want to tell him he’s been completely cut out of the film. Oh, I empathize with her dilemma! I wouldn’t want to tell him either, tho I suggested to her that she play to his ego and start with something like ‘I know you’re a real professional, so you’re aware that sometimes scenes get cut in the editing room…’. But, you know, in the nugget of perfection on that shoot, he was the sore spot. Things were a little less fun, a little less together while he was there. And he was a lousy actor. Best they could find, and I’m sure he’d work in some situations – but he was bad. Everyone knew it at the time. S thinks she might tell him the premiere got cancelled by the school. She’s also considering sending a special cut with his scenes to him, just to appease him. I don’t want to sound like a bitch, but…it’s funny. If you’d heard him speak about his acting, you’d understand.

I’ve been told I’m on the posters and marketing info. Apparently, my tongue is now the director’s screen saver, too. I be everywhere. And according to rumor, my ass and tits look great on screen. So glad I’m old enough to know the difference between the illusion and me. No worries about trying to look like that all the time…tho, honestly, if I someday find members of the press outside my door, I’ll at least brush my hair before I leave the house.

Received an excited confirmation on Taman. Good golly! Must have really written a great 100 word bio. They don’t know me from Eve. I was apologetically informed my entry was early, most authors don’t get their work in before December 31, and it would take months to sort thru everything and make a decision. I was thanked sincerely for my work, and left with their hope that I would continue to work with them and write about more women. Not what I was expecting. Again, it’s more. More than I dreamed of getting.

Coming to the realization that I’ll need new pages under my writing name and as an actor. Hi, this is the new me. Again. This time, tho, I’m not fluffing things out with nonsense. I’ve already got concrete realities to talk about. Scripts, films, plays, interest and excitement. One more project under my belt and I’ll hire someone to help me on the side. I so hate social media pages.

The morphine is doing its job. Brushed my teeth last night without any electric feeling jolts in my molars. Determined to stay on three a day until Monday. I want this thing down. Quiet. Subdued. A week from today I get my temporary filling replaced, and I want to be pain free for days before going in. Feels a bit like cheating. I’m not screaming in agony any more. I could probably get by on less. But it’s so damned pleasant to not feel pain. I just want a little more of that. And I don’t want the nerve to start up again.

The time is coming. My hair is getting chopped and changed. I’ve been thinking about it more and more lately, a sign I’m well acquainted with. I want to go back to auburn. That color looked particularly good on me. And I think my new cut will be jaunty and asymmetrical. That also looks real good on me. I’m dithering a bit. There are elements of longer hair I enjoy. Mostly tying it back or up. But it’s hard to keep nice. My hair tangles easily, so when I do wear it down and free I always have snarls to deal with. It’s a pain to wash, a pain to dry, a pain to keep out of my eyes. Other than that, I like it. But, new me, new hair. And I’m ready for the ta-da! of a new ‘do.

Hell! I’m ready for the ta-da! of a new me.

Film star

Wow. I was gonna do some improv… I thought the dialogue wasn’t that good. But you…somehow, you made those words sound natural. I don’t know how you did that.

That was the director, yesterday afternoon. Truth is, I was made to stand in front of three 20 something year olds and forced to listen to compliments. Yes! Torture. The casting director told me how, when she first heard from the theatre group that someone was interested, she prayed – prayed – that it was me. I heard how blown away they were that I’d memorized the dialogue. How brilliant my delivery was, how perfect I was, how wonderful and amazing everything that came out of my mouth was.

The ego is stroked, people! WOW! Is this the way other people feel? I mean…good about themselves? Is this how other people can have such a positive outlook on life – because they allow themselves to hear the compliments and really take them in? Because there’s no one in their lives raining on their parade, telling them they’re not really good or successful because of whatever reason? Is this success? Self confidence? …Even self-like? (Won’t go so far as to say self-love, but self-like is a big step for me.)

I knew I had it. The call that came in at 8 in the evening to tell me I had it was anti-climatic.

So, to business. I’ve three days of filming in Den Haag. Going to have to be there by 7 or 8 in the morning, so I’m prepping now by getting my ass out of bed at 5. Get used to those early hours again. The script is in flux, as most film scripts are right up to the point they shoot the scenes. I was told they’re thinking of doing it straighter, hold back on the creep factor (which, apparently, I nailed as well). The casting director wants me in a dress; I was asked my dress size and a full body picture was requested. Don’t yet know if I’ll be wearing a blond wig or going natural, but I was told to expect make-up and hair preparations. Ooo! I’ll feel like a real film star. There may be rehearsals as well, so my three days in Den Haag might stretch to four or five.

For moi, it’s taking care of the animal. Getting to the gym to walk each day – no push, no pull, just walk. Keep the back in shape. Take my vitamins and pills. Get to bed, hopefully a bit earlier each night to help me thru these 5 am wake-ups. Stay calm, and focused. Do what I can to combat the bags under my eyes.

Because I was also told the group’s teacher was a working film director who has worked on many Dutch films. Ding! There’s my in. He’ll see my work no matter what; he’s the one who’s got to grade it. Have a little fantasy of going to the screening – film students always have screenings, even if it’s only at their school – and their teacher comes up to me. Ah! he says. You do wonderful work! You know, I know of someone who could use you… And the next day I’m contacted by someone who’s in the biz, who’s offering me a small part with pay. Which leads to another part, and another part, and bigger paychecks all the way along.

I like that fantasy.

…You know, for a 52 year old woman who’s spent a long time in rural situations far from the glitz and glamour of movie-lands throughout the world AND who doesn’t have an agent, I think starring in my second film is pretty damned impressive. No matter how you want to cut it up: it’s a student thing, I’m not getting paid, blah-de-blah. It’s still fucking impressive.

And I get to miss another week of language lessons. We’re filming next Thursday and the following Monday. My Monday teachers will get the full news, along with what is now an 11 page hand written kid’s story in Dutch (not yet finished). My Thursday teacher will get an SMS on Wednesday telling her I’m not coming. No reason given; I don’t want to waste the money on my phone and I don’t know how to correctly write it all out.

I feel like a kid. Not only do I get to go, dress up and pretend to be someone else for three days, I get out of school for it.

…Oh. For the record: I went relaxed, but took everything with me. A change of clothes, some make-up, jewelry, and the wig. Had occasion to laugh heartily on the trip there: I was waiting at Beurs metro station for my connection when the casting director called and asked me if I could bring the wig along, just for the director to see what I looked like as a blond. Sure, I said, knowing it was in the bag at my feet. Got there, loads of time, no stress, no worry, with the easiest possible path there and zero confusion on directions (even without buying a map). Into the bathroom to get my hair tied up and under the wig. Damn! Was I pleased I’d brought along a change of clothes! Huge sweat stains under my arms. Change the shirt, put on the wig, darken my eyebrows…even had time to just sit in the lobby and acclimate myself to the hair. All in all, no, I didn’t need that extra time but I’m VERY happy I built it in.

Now it’s a weekend of mirror work. Tilt my head, smile, try different facial expressions. Keep running the scenes each day for memory’s sake.

‘Cause a week from today, I’ll be a film star.


Sip, sip

I’m a damned good writer.

Let me say that again: I’m a damned good writer.

I walked into last night’s read thru of my script feeling pretty good. A little nervous, as always, when my work comes under scrutiny. But good, because I heard from J in the afternoon. She couldn’t make it to the read thru – insert unhappy face ’cause I wanted her there – but she said ‘I hope the group decides to do this because I really want to audition for it’. And she didn’t just tell me, she made sure to tell a couple of other people in the group.

Caught some typos and grammar problems. Nothing like having six to eight people read your stuff aloud to catch things no amount of proofing or grammar check on your computer could ever find! But they loved the story. Loved the characters, loved the whole set-up. Even discussed (briefly) their ability to pull the script off – because they liked it that much. I assured them I hadn’t written it for them, but I was working on something I wanted them to do. Then came more discussion: a bit about the thrillers, and many questions from me regarding their limitations on cast size, sets, and other bells and whistles. I asked if anyone had stage fighting experience – if they’d be open to a scene that called for a fist fight.

Feels like I have a number of people on my side right now. I’ve fired up their trust in my writing by sharing my work, and I’ve fired up their imaginations by teasing them with the thriller. I feel there’s no question in the director’s mind anymore: he’s doing the thriller trilogy. But I spoke to one of the board members and got all positives in response, which felt good because I know, in the end, the board has final say.

The only little monkey wrench in my whole happy pie is the fact that this group, unusually, has more men than women involved on a regular basis. I’ve been in this women, women, women, mind set – lots of women on the stage, powerful roles for women, women pushing and leading the storyline. But I can’t diss the men, especially if I’m writing specifically for this group. Lucky for me, my stories are fluid. Usually it doesn’t make any difference if the role is male or female. I don’t write stories about having babies or prostrate cancer. Those are gender specific stories. I did write them…once. But a gender flip on my own work showed me the holes in my writing. The result was so unfunny, unappealing, and unworthy of my skills I just said forget it, no more of that. Now I just write people. And I remember the words of the scriptwriter responsible for Alien – Ripley was originally a man. Characters should be strong, interesting, and non-gender specific. And as a writer, I should be able to flip the gender on any character and still make the story work. If I can’t, I don’t have a real story to tell.

So, flux in my head because I’m thinking on the limitations we discussed last night in relation to the thrillers. A bit of pressure, because I said I’d have a finished script for everyone to read by the end of January or beginning of February. Simple brain static, caused from remembering the typos and corrections needed in Taman.

And I gotta get back on sending out my brother’s work. I gotta get back to the gym. I gotta buckle down on language. I gotta…

I gotta stop telling myself what I gotta do.

Planning on making use of my alone time when my bro is at band rehearsals. I don’t generally like to write late at night. It’s hard to get started at that time of day, and harder still to stop. But I can’t let a couple of nights every week go to waste in front of the tv. I’ve got work to do. I opened my mouth and made the verbal commitment – now it’s up to me to see it thru. Thought about this before I went to the reading. The time I’d need, the nights spent writing rather than relaxing, the increased pressure I’ll feel trying to juggle all this at once. As always, I hope I’m not stretching myself too thin.

But I had to own up to the truth. I really want to do this.

I really want to write plays.

Maybe even more than my desire to be in them.

Because I know. I know my words have a chance of living beyond me. A performance…while entertaining, maybe even great, isn’t quite the same. I can enjoy the performance of someone no longer alive thanks to film and video. I enjoy many such performances. Many times I’ve thought to myself, ‘Gods, that person could really act!’. But words…words that make you think. Words that catch your imagination. Words that stop you suddenly, that make you see the world and even time as a small thing because here, out of the millions, perhaps billions of possible words and authors and word-author combinations, someone put something down that made you realize that no, you’re not alone and yes, someone else sees it that way. It can come from current literature or the classics. Known or unknown authors. Does not make ONE whit of difference. When it’s there, it’s there – and it’s a powerful thing.

It’s a power I’ll likely never taste. Not in full. I’d have to have a rocket engine ride to fame to achieve that. That’s unlikely to happen. So I’m trying to walk that line between dreaming of greatness and expecting nothing. – It’s the second bit of that statement that I’m working on. Meh. Tough to do.

Meanwhile, I’ll sip a little from the power of my words. People like my writing. It’s hard not to feel like a cook who’s just pleased she didn’t burn dinner, tho…

Sip, sip.



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.


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


Friday morning, post script read through, and I am more ecstatic than expected. 😀 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?


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



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.