It’s a go

The last role is cast. Barring disaster, the production will happen.

Showed up around quarter past 6. The director was in the cafe, as usual. Found him deep in conversation with someone. We went out for cigarettes and a chat, all three of us. Sadly, I can’t tell you the other guy’s name. And I do mean sadly: he was one of those few that gave me that ding! feeling. Immediate connection. I talked up the play, he talked about joining the theater group. He’s Russian, very cool, and someone with whom I could indulge in a bit of flirting from time to time. Hoping he actually will come to the play and get involved.

Saw two actors last night, both female. One was (in the director’s words) a weirdo who contacted him on FB. She’s just in from Italy, and her messages told us she didn’t speak English fluently. But she had long experience in Italian theatre, so he wanted to meet with her. The other actor was a friend of someone already in the cast. She’s from Dublin, and we immediately hit it off in that easy manner that makes me think we could be real friends outside of the group.

The director chose two scenes, and asked me to stand in as the extra characters. I snickered to myself. While these are scenes we’ve used before in auditions, he hadn’t seen my interpretation of them yet and I got this feeling that THAT’s what he was really after. And it was fun to be grumpy Ted, grunting out his replies. It was fun to be fearful Alex, shamefully admitting to self mutilation.

Most fun of all, tho, was the glowing interest showed by the actors. There will come a time – soon – when I’ll step down as the writer and be the actor. I will not correct other actors to my vision or my interpretation; I’ll let them do it their way. But during auditions, I am still the writer. I am still the genius with the inspiration, the master of words, the holiest of holy. And I get a bit of that, especially last night. The actor from Dublin is also a writer, and we chatted away, she giving me gushing admiration for the script, my book, etc. The questions like: How did you come up with this? The slightly fearful and hesitant look everyone gives me when I tell them this is based in fact. Heady, heady stuff. Aaaaaah! 😉

Down to earth. I must admit to some trepidation. We’re set to premiere in February or March, depending on venue availability. Those are the months I’ve typically had massive health problems. So I’m already looking ahead. Reviewing my behavior in the past to figure out how better to protect myself. I will NOT be the reason this has to be pulled at the last minute. My priority is clear: the play is number one. I will forgo my language lessons, my exercise, any socializing, anything that endangers that priority.

I’m old enough to have experienced those rare moments in life when everything just comes together. You’ve got to be ready to seize that. Go for it. Those are the doors to step thru, to get you to another level. I recognize that now. This is one of those moments, or can be if I can juggle things just so. That’s the trick. You’ve got to juggle all the elements, keep things exactly where they should be. And the longer the set-up, the harder it is. This is a nine month set-up. A full pregnancy. And you betcha; this is my baby in every sense of the word.

So, like any expectant mother, I’m gonna be extra, extra careful. The baby takes priority, and becomes my reason for saying no to some things and yes to others. I am excited and a bit frightened. I have dreams for my baby, dreams that it lives and grows beyond me and the small start I help to give it. I’m worried, too, about what could happen to it. But I want it – I need it – to go out there. Pit itself against the critics and nay-sayers, and find out how strong it is. Support it, no matter what.

Was going to say I’d go out for a walk and do this or that today, but the truth is these last two later nights have really thrown me. I’m tired, and could use a day down in front of the tv, napping. So I’ll take it. Errands be damned. Homework be damned. Exercise and fresh air be damned. This is expectant mother stuff. I’m napping.

Taking care of myself starts today.

It’s a go.


Learning to take care of myself

Good! Just sit there. Watch a movie or play a game. You’ve already been working for an hour. Don’t deny it; I saw you! Just…take a nap or something. – My brother, yesterday.

Scolded into taking care of myself. Again. Don’t know how my brother can always mix that slightly teasing tone with serious concern in his voice, but he can and he gets it 100% right 100% of the time. This time it came on the heels of pulling sound notes from the trilogy. It’s not terribly difficult, but it is wearing on me – staring at the screen, scrolling down slowly, checking every single page for every single sound notation.

My brother really should have saved that sure-fire scolding for a few hours later.

Spat out an outline for a new script. Just…paced about five minutes, opened up my computer, and began typing like a madwoman. It was just there. Scenes, dialogue, characters… Not a real surprise, I guess, since it’s based on my novel. In effect, I already wrote the story (just not in script form). But it made me confront the truth about my past work: I have no driver. It’s a funny story, with funny characters, outrageous scenarios and very laughable dialogue, but it has no driver. I kept looking at it and saying ‘yeah, this is amusing, but where are you going with it?’ Still don’t know. Took time to watch a few comedy films in the afternoon, looking for patterns to use. My arm chair analysis has led me to conclude there are two ways to handle comedy: over the top farce/slapstick, or twist something you think you know. OTT farce and slapstick works best in film; fast edits, special effects, all that. So I’m looking at the twist. But I need that final goal. It doesn’t even need to be addressed in the script, but I need to know it. The easiest is the simplest: save the world. Overriding, un-arguable…it’s used a lot. I’d like to be a bit more original, but I might have to fall back on it like a safety net. Besides, the old ‘save the world’ gag is a lovely vehicle to hide true motives that lurk beneath the surface. *sigh* What to do, what to do…

Worried this new idea will end up offensive. Oh, hell! It WILL be offensive to some; don’t think I can get around that. Anytime you turn something on its head you run the risk of offending someone. You poke fun at the un-laughable, you say the un-sayable.

I am pleased, at least, to find my mind has moved off death and violence and petty little human actions and onto more amusing topics. For close to a year I’ve been locked in small rooms with my characters, in the dark, in fear. It’s had to have had an effect on me psychologically. Now, my inner film screening room is running comedy. At least the ‘rushes’ of the day. I’m allowing it. Taking notes (obviously). Somewhere in me I have something funny to say…

Eight days to the script read through. Been thinking of what I need to say before we start. Practicing it, because I’ve a tendency to go on and on if you let me. I have to hone it down to the bare essentials, just like I do my writing. And I must note that my head is there, and focused on that task, rather than fretting over heading to language class tomorrow. That’s okay. I’ve distracted myself from the shame I feel over my behavior. But I don’t want to blow off my apology. I want to move forward, and to do so, I have to open my mouth and say the words (even if one of my teachers corrects my grammar instantaneously). That’s my path. I know it.

Zero homework done. Didn’t even open my books. Comforting myself by reading Roald Dahl in Dutch as my bedtime reading; at least I’m doing something. Have the occasional word to puzzle over, but most of the text is within my grasp. And I’m enjoying it.

A bit worried that my mouth guard is going to trigger me in my sleep. Two days of using it, and I’m reminded sharply of my teen years wearing a retainer. Teen years…now there’s a mess of muddled thinking. Not sure I want to connect with the me of back then. Or, let me rephrase that: I’m not sure I want the me of back then to take over. I’m connected to her. Always will be. I remember my first cigarette. I remember the shame I felt walking down the school hallway. I remember turning to writing, pouring my young heart out as best I could on the page. …Hm. Truth is, I might not have turned to writing without her. Maybe I shouldn’t be so afraid.

lol! Now there’s a phrase I should put on a poster: maybe you shouldn’t be so afraid. Just as a daily reminder. Just…try it. Try not being afraid for a day. Or an hour. Or a minute. You don’t have to commit to it, you don’t have to force yourself into submission and change your life from head to toe. Just sample it.

Not a bad slogan to take out into the world today. Saturday is easy as a trial date.

Now. A kind return. I do that, I try it, and I get something back. Figure it out. A coffee, a treat, a walk in the woods – figure out your reward. Sounds like a good time to deep condition my hair and apply a moisturizing face masque. A me mini day. No. A ME mini day. ME is important; ME deserves capitalization. ME. I will watch a film I wouldn’t dare suggest to my brother, knowing his tastes. I’ll turn the heat up a bit so I’m not huddled under my hoodie. I’ll cut my nails, maybe even do the cuticles.

How did I get so old without learning to take care of myself?

No reason to rush

This morning’s headline: Ass of Fire. Had Mexican with generous amounts of jalapenos. Yummy to my mouth, uh…refreshing to my butt. Kind of feels like I anally inserted a Halls mentho lyptus.

Went to the dentist this morning for my mouth guard. It’s bulky, hard plastic. Very attractive. Made me glad I sleep alone. Was told that yes, I’ll have pain if I start biting down again. The guard will only protect my teeth. Not thrilled about that. I want to make sure I stop this behavior. The pain level was too intense.

The date for a script read-through has been set: February 12. Will have nine theatre members there. I can feel my mania ramp up every time I imagine it. Yet another reason to finally see someone.

And I’ve been emailing back and forth with my health insurance rep. Like an idiot, I scanned in the docs at high res, and now they’re too big to send via email. The originals are already in the post. Put the file onto a file sharing site and informed the rep. It’s the only thing I could do, considering my system is so out of date.

Speaking of out of date… My bro’s been trying to render a song he’s been working on. Three days of it, and it’s still going. He needs a faster system. Can’t take a week to render everything he does.

Money, money, money. Want to make some; not sure if I can. My doubt springs from my physical limits rather than my skills or experience. Every winter, I’ve fallen deadly ill. The flu, colds, hearing loss, shingles, TMJ – it forces me out of life for weeks to months at a time. It’s become a fact of my existence, and I’m all too aware that that fact will knock me out of the running for most jobs. Or, I’d get the job, run hard for a few months, then be out sick for six weeks. Trying to find non-conventional ways to make it happen, but…frankly, I’m at a loss. If I can’t use my writing skills and work from home, I just don’t know that I can do it.

And then there’s the whole agism thing. Who wants to take a chance on a sickly 52 year old when there’s plenty of healthy 20 somethings around?

…Keep saying to myself ‘you might not even live to see it become a problem’. Is it wrong that I find comfort in that?


Going thru the trilogy, pulling lighting and sound cues. It’s made me realize again how ambitious this script is. I’m still convinced we can do it, tho we’ll need to be careful with the sound files and name them correctly so they’re easy to find – because there’s a lot of them. A larger, more established group could do live sound effects and use off-stage mics. I talked about that with the director, and we both felt it would be easier to just record everything so there was no danger of feedback or the mic being left open. And I knew all this when I began, which is why I’m ahead of myself. I know how long projects can take to create. I know how long the sound files might take – especially if my brother’s using his old system. I know how long the group can take to memorize lines and get to physical blocking. I know the limits of props, back-stage areas, and lighting. And I know what I’m getting into: being the hub of this piece. It won’t leave me much time for anything else.

Nervous about making an appointment with my GP regarding the whole anxiety/bipolar/whatever. Keep putting it off. I’m there; I said I wanted the film stuff done and my jaw taken care of before I made an appointment. Now is the time to talk about it. Especially since I can feel myself tensing up as my body grows healthier.

Trying to break my ‘you’ve got to stay healthy’ self-talk. I find it counter-productive. I’m never casual with my health; I’ve spent too much time down. Repeating that to myself like a mantra only winds me up. I don’t gotta do anything. Not even make that appointment with my GP. It’s in my best interests long term. But I don’t gotta. Stop saying that to yourself!

…Feck. Where is my courage?

Flushed out my ass with the jalapenos, no doubt.

C’mon, Beeps… Start small. Finish this, make your bed, do the dishes. Head downstairs and do the shopping so your bro doesn’t have to. Set some time limits, too. Working on script notes is fine, but only do it a couple of hours at a time. You don’t have to get it done in one day. Take a look at the homework you blew off because you weren’t going to class. Do a bit now. Do a bit tomorrow. Do a bit every day and you’ll have it done in no time. You know this. As for the whole appointment with the doc, just take it easy. You’re going in next week for physio. You’ve still got scabs on your shoulder. Just. chill. out.

…Pushing yourself to relax isn’t relaxing at all. So, I’ve two words for myself today: stop and slow. Feeling tense? Stop. Whatever it is you’re doing, stop right then and there. Then, slow. You have permission to finish whatever it is, but do it slow. Purposefully try to double your time. Take slow steps, make slow decisions, move slowly like a sloth. There is no reason to rush.

There is no reason to rush.


Sometimes, the Universe is very, very kind to me.

…Or, perhaps that’s always true, and I’m just too stubborn or blind to notice. Bears some deep thinking. Whichever; this morning I received an olive branch, of sorts. Finally a reply from the US theatre group on my work. The artistic director has been busy as all get-out, but she hasn’t forgotten about me and will read the trilogy as soon as her schedule chills. She also gave me a heads up that the fest she wants to take my work to has a time limit of one hour – which means chances of her taking the full story to the fest are nil. But I’m pleased to be remembered and acknowledged, even in this small manner. It’s all I ever really ask for. Sure, I want more but…in the end, I’ll be satisfied if I’m treated like a human being.

This long awaited note comes on the heels of introspective questioning. Do I judge too much? Is it time to let all that go? My conclusion was that yes, in some ways it is time to let it go. It is not time to let go of my truth, nor forget the forces that made me. But it is time to let go of holding the past so close to my heart. I have a new start here, with new people. Those diseased roots that grew me…I’ve cut them off. I’m branching out now, digging into new surroundings.

I’m finding respect for myself in the eyes of others, something I don’t have much experience with. And I find I walk a fine line these days. My behavior and way of thinking is aberrant. Strange. I am often called upon to justify my actions: why didn’t you speak up, why did you just walk away, why do you feel that way about yourself? It’s the shock in people’s reactions that’s waking me up. They’re shocked. They view me as together, intelligent, a role model, even… They can’t imagine someone like me feeling as bad as I do about myself. I hear it in their unspoken words: if I had what you have, I wouldn’t feel that way. That isn’t true, of course, which is where the explaining comes in. But it’s hard to explain without getting wrapped up in it. I am learning the words. Abuse. Neglect. They are difficult for my mouth to form. Never thought speaking one or two words aloud could cost me so much. It does, though.

Washed the illness gook off me. Feels good to be clean of it. Still another day of anti-virals, and more monitoring to make sure I’m truly recovered. Mild headaches have become a daily thing, and I can’t quite figure out why. Probably just from staring at my computer so long, playing games to distract myself.

Been reminding myself of real time passage. My original estimate was to finish the trilogy around this time. I’m wa-a-a-a-a–ay ahead of myself. Must acknowledge this latest manic streak. No wonder I fell ill. Truthfully, it’s been going on for a while. Since the play. Kept saying to myself ‘just get thru this; then you can be sick if you need to’ but it was one thing after the other. Play. Film auditions. Film shoot. US theatre interest. Holidays. Trilogy. Premiere. And my body kept up with it all. Allowed me to go, go, go. Long have I known about my tendency to lose time, to work until I drop. I have done it on a few occasions. It’s just one more reason why my brother is needed: he tells me when to stop. I don’t always listen, but he’s there with healthy food, good advice, and understanding when I finally give out. [Thank you, Universe.]

…Yeah. That’s a lot of mania in the past few months. No; nip that in the bud right now. That’s a lot of mania in the last TWO months. November was just a wind-up. AND you did it over winter, a time you generally fall ill from something or other. Props, girl. You finished an amazing amount of work in a very short time period. But…uh…you DO know we can’t keep doing this, right? You’re gonna have to make a decision. If you can’t handle the mania generated during certain events, you’ll have to avoid them. We were doing fine with the play and writing. Maybe a bit manic, but manageable. The film, now! That threw us. It continues to throw us. Perhaps we should concentrate on the writing side. Being in front of the camera… Could you even survive a full length film? Months of shoots? You sent yourself into a world of pain after TWO DAYS. Don’t make excuses, don’t deny it. Let it sit there. Think about it.

And then there’s all those triggers from seeing yourself on ‘the big screen’. All. those. flaws. So big. Bigger than real life. Your teeth never looked so crooked. Your skin never seemed so wrinkled. And those under eye bags! Wow! You could pack enough clothing for a week’s holiday in those things. That thick, thick torso of yours. Seemed terribly thick next to your co-star, didn’t it? And do you even HAVE a jaw line?

Well. None of THAT’S changed.

Maybe I should just copy and paste this in a note to S. She’s the one who can’t believe I have body issues.

…And I know – I KNOW – because Goddess knows this is one thing I’ve actually learned: in ten year’s time I’ll look at that film and wonder why I had such gripes about the way I looked. I’ll see myself for reals, not the way I see myself now. Same thing happens when I look at pictures of myself from my 20s or 30s. I wasn’t fat. Nor ugly. I felt I was, all the time. And why? Millions of reasons. Thousands of comments.

Now, the Universe is showing me a kinder face. A gentler side.

I’m not sure how to handle it.

Damned if I know

What is it now, Ralph?

If only I had a simple answer.

Positives: color is returning to my face. This is a symptom I should have paid more attention to. Been whiter than white for more than a month. So white, as a matter of fact, that the make-up people had a hard time matching my skin tone on the film. You’re so pale! Even the lightest foundation is darker than your skin! And yes, I’ve Irish blood somewhere in me and yes, I’m blue-eyed and fair haired so I’m naturally pale, but this went far beyond my usual skin tone. The return of a pink flush to my cheeks has made me aware of the fact that no, I’m usually not that pale when I’m healthy. Please remember for next time; make a note if you have to! My brain function is beginning to return to normal. Felt…foggier than foggy. Unable to keep any line of reasoning or thinking going longer than a few moments. Couldn’t remember what day it was. Kept reminding myself, then forgetting. Read how this is a symptom of shingles (when it’s bad). It affects your nervous system, and brain function can get wobbly. I was defo wobbly. Not 100% yet, but better. My bowel function is returning to normal. This is a biggie for me. My mother, C, died of colon cancer and I’ve been worrying over it for a while, a bit too afraid to see the doc about it and a bit too worried to just blow it off. A few days of anti-viral meds and my morning bathroom break worry is a thing of my past; things are normal and everything looks very healthy.

Wondering now how long this was creeping up on me. I’ve read you can suffer from a shingles outbreak without the blisters. Has this been going on since the beginning of December? Even earlier? Hindsight diagnosis says the possibility is there.

Icky and gross: my body is leaching out whatever made it ill – from my navel. Caught a whiff of something foul yesterday, something beyond the normal unwashed body of a few days’ illness. Took me a while bodysniffing (not something I’d recommend you do in public) to discover it was coming from my bellybutton. I’ve an innie. The skin is red and raw, and when I cleaned it some thick yellow goo came out. First thing out my bro’s mouth was ‘haven’t cleaned the lint from your bellybutton in a while, huh?’, but the answer is no, I keep up on body cleanliness and I do remember my bellybutton. It’s not shingles blisters, either – those hurt. This doesn’t hurt. If it hurt, I might have found it earlier. This just stinks to high heaven. Keeping it clean, and putting on a salve for the raw skin.

Other: my time problems have caught me out. It’s Sunday already. Tomorrow is my Dutch lesson, and I need to think about the note I’ll be sending to my teacher. Feels like I’ve lost a day or two. In effect, I have. Being too out of it to realize what day it is counts as ‘losing time’. The week that seemed so long when the doc handed me a ‘script for all these pills is now short, short, short, and almost over.

Up and coming things to freak out about: heard from the theatre group. A notice went out calling everyone to a reading of my script. A notice that (I noticed) had much closer dates on it than the attempted get-together to watch the vids from the play. Read through the trilogy yesterday. It’s sound heavy, and if it was anyone but me at the helm I’d say it’s too much. But while reading it through, I saw the places where things could be changed. I heard the small versions of the sound effects in my brain. I took everything down to a minimum in my imagination. And the story still works. Stilted acting, obviously fake props, smaller sound than I’d written, and I believe the story still stands strong. I’m nervous the rug will pulled out from under my feet. That the group has wound me up on the idea they’ll do my script, when in reality they won’t (for whatever reason). I’m trying to prepare myself for that let-down. Ach! I don’t trust these people. I’m trying to. But my connection with the theatre group is miles away from my experience with the film group. It was so easy with the film group. All of us pulling in one direction, together. The theatre group is very individualistic, each person worried about their lines, their appearance, their performance, to the neglect of the others. We do not operate as a group. Some alliances can form during work, but they’re tenuous and liable to shift in the next role assignment. It makes me nervous. And edgy. Telling myself that when the time comes for us to sit down and read my script through, I should say that. Tell them I’m nervous, tell them I really want them to do it. Put it out there that I’m vulnerable on this project. It’s my baby. That serves two purposes. One, it helps me start with a clean, honest slate. Two, it’s a bit of a test. It puts the ball in their court. They can rake me over the coals and throw me on the junk pile, or they can hear me and work with me. Their actions will tell me much. It’s the fact that I have to put myself out there in the first place that I hate. The risk of being hurt once again. I will do it, no question about it. But I am reluctant and afraid. Never think otherwise.

Horses and cows, violence and abuse… These things from my childhood are jumbling up in my brain. I’m trying to make sense of something that, in essence, makes no sense.

What is it now, Ralph?

Damned if I know.

Lick your wounds

Healing. My least favorite thing to do in the entire world. I’ve got to be on death’s door before I allow myself to lay back and rest. So exhausted, in such pain, that I can’t lift my head or do the dishes or even think. But give me even a hint of strength and I feel lazy, shiftless, and so damned greedy with time and energy that it’s a struggle to relax enough TO rest.

Somewhere in my past I must have been burned badly with the words ‘wasting time’. That’s my hiccup. I’m wasting time. I can make even the smallest reason into a justification, but not when it comes to healing. I can justify going to a party in order to ‘socialize’. I can justify not going to the gym because of my mood or fear of hurting myself. I cannot justify sitting on my ass the entire day long, watching tv, and doing nothing. I’m not in enough discomfort.

My meds, however, list dizziness as a side effect. Maybe I shouldn’t have read that; I might have retroactively triggered myself to feel it. But I do feel dizzy, within 30 minutes of taking my pills. So…rest. I’ve got an entire week of this.

Been refusing to put any more Dutch into my brain right now. I won’t even look at the subtitles on tv, tho I’ve got to admit that’s a tough one; my eyes keep shifting down to them and I’ve got to snap my attention back to the actors. English and Dutch are melting together. Half the time I don’t know what language a word is from. Is that…Dutch? English? Sounds and letter combinations are roiling around in my brain, all becoming mush. Thank you, Goddess, that sometime in my life I anchored this automatic writing in English. I will ALWAYS be able to get up and do this, even if my brain ends up flipping into Dutch or mumbo-jumbo for the rest of the day.

Meh. I suppose language is dependent upon your desire to communicate. I don’t know how strong that desire is for me right now. I feel less inclined to speak, and more inclined to sit silently observing. I get that way. It’s not a bad thing, tho some people find it annoying because I do grow reticent. But…there comes a time when I think, why speak? Why say all that I’ve said before? I have no new words to express myself. I have no new metaphors to light the darkness, to expand my consciousness or enlighten the ignorant. Just…hit play on the recorder; you’ll hear it. I don’t need to say it.

And frankly, I think you need to take time to internalize. You can’t live that way; that’s a mire of mental un-health if ever there was one. But you’ve got to get the words from your head to your mouth to your heart. Your heart is where it lives, those old pains and wounds we keep picking at and picking at. Your head can scream the truth at you, your mouth can form the words, but if you don’t get it inside you’re not gonna learn. You’ll just keep picking at those wounds, making yourself hurt, and not understanding.

I don’t want to hurt anymore.

Accepting the limits of my body… Every time I think I’ve mastered it, something new comes along. Oh, but that’s the trick to life! You never stop learning, never stop moving. Change is the only constant you can count on. You must dance on these change-lines. That’s how you progress. Every move you make modifies these lines, and the new configuration modifies your ensuing moves. It’s an internal feedback process. That’s the reason some people have come up with positive self-talk or smile therapy: put out positive vibes, and positive vibes will start to come back to you. That’s a recognition of the feedback process: change your dance, change the lines. The problem most of us run into is the lag-time. The time between changing our dance – a difficult and sometimes painful thing to do – and seeing results. Sadly, that’s only our poor perception. We move in space as much as we move in time, and when you recognize that you realize the vast amounts of area you must traverse to get from one place to another. It’s the difference between being next door to something or being all the way across town. Next door is easy to get to. Across town might take several stops or connections, some twists or turns that you don’t expect. I have an excellent example right here in NL. If I want to get from my house to Den Haag, a trip I’ve made several times, I either have to go out of my way to the west or out of my way to the northeast due to the train and metro connections. Life is like that: sometimes you have to head off in what looks like the wrong direction because that’s the only real route to get where you want to be. And when we bull-headedly head off in the wrong direction, thinking we’ll just power our way to our goals, we are often met with blockades.

…My words tell me what my head has so far failed to catch on to: I’m ignoring a flow. I’m trying to power my way somewhere upstream.

What’s the first thing you do when you get a cramp while swimming? Stop fighting.

Stop. fighting. your body.

Okay, animal. I understand you’re not doing well. You are tired, and ill. You are wounded, and in pain. You have allowed me to fight these symptoms many times. We have done wonderful things together. But now, I will listen to you. I will lay you down in a soft spot, warm and secure. You have been whimpering and I have been ignoring you. I’m sorry, my old friend. Rest, sleep, and lick your wounds.


That’s shingles.

The diagnosis was out of my doctor’s mouth within a second of seeing the wound on my shoulder. She made a call to my rheumatologist, who recommended I come off my medications for RA for a week and go on an anti-viral regime: 42 pills in 7 days. Good news is there’s very little risk that I infected anyone else. However, I sent out a message to S, warning her that I might have exposed her dad to it. His system is even worse than mine, and I know how easily I fall ill.

Good Gods! Make way for the walking dead. That’s what I feel like: my body is flipping falling apart on me but I just keep on going.

I am all too aware right now that the Universe just offered up a big, fat excuse for not attending my language class on Monday: shingles recurrence. It’s painful at best. Add into that the pumped up meds I’ll be taking, and it’s probably best overall if I just chill out this week and avoid too much people contact.

Um…thanks? I mean, I know I was looking for a way to squirm out of Monday because of my outburst. I didn’t really want it to come in this form. But that’s what you get, and it’s also why you’ve gotta watch out what you ask for: the Universe is likely to give it to you.

Today I’ll cook up a batch of my homemade remedy. I used it in 2014 on my first bout of shingles, and it worked very well. Sadly, I’ve already scarred myself by ripping the blisters off and creating these wounds. But I can prevent any further damage, and hopefully limit this incessant itching and burning sensation.

*sigh* This is the way you go, you know. It just becomes one thing after the other until your body can’t fight anymore. …Shit. Happy fucking thoughts.

Distract. Rest. Do what I can to stay calm. Anxiety isn’t helping me heal.

…Ah. Good. S just sent me a text. Her dad is okay. And now he knows, so if something happens in the next few days (please don’t let him get sick!!) he won’t blow it off (like I almost did).

And here I was thinking I’m doing so flipping well. I haven’t caught the flu. Not even a cold this winter. But my body just insists on falling ill every winter. It’ll flipping MANUFACTURE something if I don’t catch anything. …I’m trying to be understanding, to say ‘oh, my poor body, going thru so much’ but all I really am is disappointed. My body has let me down again. I didn’t expose myself to anything, I didn’t push myself beyond my limits, I didn’t do anything to myself – and yet, my body battles me. Pulls me down.

Some people get Lamborghinis or Porsches for bodies. I’ve got a damned Studebaker or Gremlin. It isn’t just shitty, it’s downright dangerous.

On the good side: first, I didn’t stop myself from going to the doc. That’s a biggie. I almost didn’t go. And I needed to go. Trying to learn that lesson. My doc realizes this, and told me I was right to come in, I didn’t waste her time, and if I have a fever or any other symptoms to come back immediately. Second, I probably didn’t pass this on to anyone, so let go of that guilt! Third, I’ve got people who actually care about me right now. Who are worried that I’m once again ill, and send their healing thoughts my way. Take that in. Fourth: I can blow off Monday language lesson or not; it’s up to me. My physical condition certainly warrants some down time. That’s up to me, and while I feel right now that I’ll be sitting home on Monday, I’ll wait to make that final decision. Fifth: there is smoke in the house, and entertainment on my tv system. I can wallow in it, and probably should for a day or two minimum. Sixth, and perhaps most important to remember: it’s only pain. Shingles isn’t life threatening. Annoying and painful, yes. A bit more dangerous to someone like me who’s got a bad immune system. But in the end, it’s just pain. A physical sensation like hunger. Something you can get through.

My disappointment in my body…now that’s not so easy to ‘get through’. I can’t hide my disappointment from myself. I can’t hide the immediate thoughts that come to my mind: damned body! What a train wreck! 

Can I ever learn to love this lemon?


Tuesday was a set-up all the way. From my uncontrolled rage late Monday night to getting turned around and almost taking the wrong tram in Den Haag on the way home, it was one thing after the other seemingly designed to throw me, upset me, and make me lose my cool. Keeping said cool – and I did, thankfully – was costly. I’m taking today down. Maybe tomorrow, too, after I see my GP about that shoulder wound (redder and more irritated now than when it happened). Maybe even the rest of the week.

Our student film won two awards. Two out of five total, and the only group to win more than one. My co-star won for overall acting. I’d be lying if I said my ego didn’t take a small twinge on that one, but I reminded myself these awards were designed for the students, not some random actor they pulled in off the street. And the group/family feeling was there: we hung out together, sat together, took pictures, and celebrated together. If there’s one thing I can and should feel proud of, it’s this: I made it crystal clear to these kids that any award we won was a group effort; not one of us could do what we did without the others doing an equally excellent job. That sentiment was echoed back to me by their acceptance speeches. Every single one of them spoke about the team. No one was left out. I did a good job there. They didn’t just mouth the words, they felt them. They knew.

It helped, naturally, that a few people singled me out to tell me loved my acting.

And once again, we talked about working together on more projects. My co-star has an internship at a Dutch film company and said if she gets any more roles in front of the camera she’s going to demand I co-star with her. S wants to market the film to some festivals, see even if she can get some money from it. The director is itching for a story to pull us all together again. I feel buoyed up by their exuberance. Certain that sometime, somehow, we’ll all do another film. Maybe it’ll be my script, maybe something different – it doesn’t really matter. What matters is we’re family.

Family. Now there’s a word that’s had nasty connotation for me. But I was shown a different kind of family last night. Not only with the crew; that alone was great. But S’s parents are the sweetest, nicest people I’ve met in a long time. Her father told me I was always welcome in their home, that I was part of the family. I felt so comfortable with them I fell into using Dutch because their English isn’t that good. And they encouraged me, and helped me, and made me feel okay with using what Dutch words I know. My brother pointed out that they’re probably impressed by me. They’re Muslim, and these days…well. I don’t blink an eye. I ask questions when I’m curious. I’m respectful. And they’re so warm and welcoming and friendly that I’m just gobsmacked that this bigotry against all Muslims has been allowed to fester. But I find it akin to any religion: I don’t really care, unless you try to use your beliefs against me. If I catch a whiff of lecturing or blame or shaming, I’ll come down on you and your beliefs like a hellcat. That’s happened innumerable times with Christian sects. But I’ve yet to hear such blanket disregard of ALL of Christianity. I should. It’s the same. thing.

And please! Who hasn’t been annoyed by certain groups ringing your doorbell on Sundays to preach the word to you?

But no. Similarly, I came across an article today out of the Davos meeting. They’re claiming that AI will replace mostly women’s jobs. One article said ‘women and other low-skilled workers’. My gripe, naturally, is the assumption of what kinds of jobs you’ll find women in. The sexism is blatant to me, yet there it was carried in news articles across the internet with an attitude of ‘ah, yes, here’s some REAL facts we can report’. Zero comprehension about why this is so sexist. Am I the only one who sees this?

Blatant. fucking. bigotry. It’s nasty no matter who it’s directed at. Sex, religion, skin color, ability or disability, gender identification, life choice, lifestyle, body type, age, manner of dress, amount in your bank account – the list is endless, if you want to break it down. We’re just beginning to tackle the big issues. Underneath that there are thousands of subcategories. And all of it comes down to one issue: respect for others. Simple as that. Be open, be honest, and above all, be kind. I realize that for a sadist being kind is inflicting pain; this is aberrant behavior and cannot be allowed to flourish. But if there’s one thing humanity has ALWAYS allowed to flourish, it’s sadism. This idea of ownership. Greed. Gluttony. Power. Control. This trait has, in fact, been glorified. Held up as the pinnacle of all that is “winning the game”.

Shows you how small and despotic the human race really is.

…The winds are high today, never good for my mind. My shoulder is burning, and I’m worried that I’ve had a shingles recurrence and scratched off the blisters. It would be a strange place for shingles blisters, but the wounds look like it and it just gets more and more painful as time passes. Which is why I’m seeing the doc tomorrow. Meantime, I’m sequestering myself. Just in case. Having a hard time believing that’s what’s happened, but there are a few symptoms I can’t just blow off. Headaches. Chills. Been thinking it’s just stress from the premiere and school and such. But…maybe not. The risk to public health is utmost in my mind, so I’m erring on the side of caution.

I recognize I’m in a web of set-ups.

I’m ready

Dutch is a tricky language to learn. Any native will tell you that. Not only do you need to learn how to pronounce their ‘G’ without spitting on anyone, you also have to figure out the trick of spelling. In most cases, spelling isn’t bad if you know the combinations of letters and their corresponding sounds. There’s just one problem: the Dutch like to use d’s and t’s at the ends of their words, and both letters are pronounced the same. Is it a D? Or is it a T? Or one of those pesky words that uses both?

There’s a rule for that. Thought, at one time, I got it. After my lesson yesterday, I’m so fucking confused I don’t know if I understand it all.

Suppose I should feel good about all this: my lessons have surpassed my Thursday instructor. I’ve gone where she can’t follow. She’s got all the conversational skills, sure, but like many Dutch natives she doesn’t know the finer points of spelling or grammar.

Received an apology at the end of the lesson. The other student showed up, and conversation was limited to simple Q&A because she’s let her language skills slip so much. Barely got into my homework questions, and those that were looked at ended up confusing my teacher and muddling my own understanding.

At the rate this is going, I’ll be ready to teach beginner Dutch in six months.

Took the rest of yesterday off. Needed to let my mind rest, needed to let go of the irritation I was feeling. Good thing, too. My bro came home from his language lesson angry as all hell, so I let him vent. He’s not getting what he wants out of his lessons, either. He’s given stuff to read, which he struggles through, but there’s no correction or time taken to answer questions. I get that these instructors are all volunteers. It’s great to just have enough warm bodies to fill the positions needed. But there’s got to be some sort of structure everyone follows.

And shouldn’t instructors take some basic test to make sure they know how to read, write, and speak correctly?

Went out to FB today to make sure I didn’t have any comments from a certain uncle and found my page changed. I can’t comment on anyone’s posts. Don’t know if that’s some block that’s put up on me. Shouldn’t be. I don’t comment on anyone else’s stuff most of the time, and if I do it’s supportive. I’m not the troll. Also, when I visit someone else’s page, I only see part of their home page. Used to see the whole thing. What up wit’ dat? If it’s across the board on FB, okay. If it’s only me on my page, I must protest. …Sometime. When FB becomes important enough in my life to protest…which, granted, may be a while.

Staying out of the rain. Keeping warm. Resting, but moving enough. Had a very satisfactory POP out of my back last night. It’s what I needed: the spasming on my side eased off immediately. This morning, as I write, I have no pain. Glorious! No pain! This boost of physical comfort is still not enough for me to break my health cordon. Oh, I want to go. Go to the gym and work hard for two hours, feel that exhaustion. But no. 36 hours to go to curtain up. I’m no fool.

My bro is hoping to get a tripod for his phone/camera today so he can film my performance. *This is me feeling an ass for ever saying he doesn’t support me and he wouldn’t come to the play.* I hope things go well. No doubt over myself, just other people. Is that my trust issue, or just my good sense? Well, if anyone gripes over not doing as well as they want to, the group can bloody well let my brother in for free to film it again (if he’s willing to sit through it again, which I’m not guaranteeing). I do not look forward to seeing the camera’s perspective on my body. I always wince, no matter what my size. Then again, I always see myself as a whale no matter what. Or I have in the past. My only comfort is that this character is supposed to be awkward in her skin, and THAT is something I know how to convey.

Well. The excitement-o-meter is beginning to ramp up. I can feel that dump of adrenaline in my system. What do you know! I still get that feeling. Maybe as a kid it scared me. Hell! Horror films scared me as a kid. Now I love ’em. Same sort of thing: what once might have sent me over the edge is now something very familiar, very intimate. I know what to do with this. Concentrate on calm. Get to the gym, yes, but only for a walk and a stretch. Focus. Pack my bags for tomorrow. Take a shower. Make sure my outfit is ready. I’ve rituals at my fingertips, and plenty of smoke for when my rituals run out.

This is it; the final countdown. I’m ready.

Comin’ home

Being good is boring. Am I allowed to say that? It’s healthy, it’s how I should act every damned day, but it DOES make for a bland life. My focus is on staying healthy, so plenty of sleep and juice and hand washing. Meh.

Good news is, my health is strong. No sign of anything sneaking up on me. My back began aching yesterday, and I was quick to head to the gym to stretch out and walk on the treadmill; problem fixed. My bro is ready and willing to whip up anything I might want or need in the way of food. A few days to go to curtain up and I’m doing well.

The play: Rehearsal last night. It was my last rehearsal before Saturday. I was on the schedule every night this week (as was everyone), but our director said that he didn’t think we needed more time. Too true. My partner and I don’t call for line prompts, we have our choreography down to a T, and apparently anything I do at this point on stage is freaking funny. Plans are to open up the scene a bit; at first, we sat through most of it and now we’ve a bit of walking around the room to do. Got stopped at one point for some direction, and my partner asked what he should be doing. Reply? Don’t worry about what you’re doing. No one will be looking at you! She’s walking behind you with a look on her face…Trust me, no one will notice you. Um…thanks, and I hope my acting partner didn’t feel dissed. It’s his performance that allows me to do what I do.

Monday’s language class: Whoa, Nellie! I expected a step up; this is a BIG step up. Felt a little lost, spent a little time making sure I wasn’t just pouting because suddenly I’m not the best student in class. Have two female teachers, both brusque, both crisply prim on grammar. Oi! Made a mess of a sentence and was corrected, word by word, until I could repeat the proper sentence in one go. Got drilled on knowledge, speaking skills, and reading skills. Knowledge: some big gaps to fill in. Speaking: always tough, still not catching every word. Reading: OTT. While I was stopped several times to correct what I said, or correct my answers, I was not stopped when I read aloud. In fact, there was a moment of silence afterwards, then a short ‘Ah…goed’ from the teachers. I be old school. I remember the ‘Hooked on Phonics’ literacy series in the states. Never had to use it myself, but I understood the process: focus on the sounds. Drill the fact that certain combinations of letters always sound the same. I did that with Dutch early on, and it shows. Give me something to read aloud and it’s rare you’ll need to correct me. I might not understand everything I read, but it’ll sound like I’m a native.

Downtown today to deal with immigration. Nice to say that and not cringe with fear. Today I’ll be smiling, no matter how long the wait. It’s photo and fingerprint time. Get me my residency card!

And now I’ve time to get to the gym in the afternoon. Give my back another long walk on the treadmills to make sure it doesn’t seize up on me again.

My Dutch homework is done. All of it.

Even planted the idea that maybe – maybe – I’ll pitch my three one-act thrillers to the theatre group as a Halloween special. This, to the director as we had a ciggie outside. His eyebrows raised and he grinned. Took that as a positive inclination on his part. That’s good, because he might end up directing it.

Feeling good. Calm. Eerily calm. I expected more excitement in me as the first performance nears. I take it as a positive, though. Much easier to keep myself healthy when I’m not out dancing among the stars every night because I’m so damned hyper.

And why should I be nervous or hyper? I know where I belong: I belong on stage.

I’m just comin’ home.