Time to shut down

I can never sleep well after a performance. My body, like it or not, is set on its schedule and performances and the world be damned if it’ll stay in bed an extra few hours because I’ve been up late.

Ah! And now I understand. I’ve heard so much about performing in Amsterdam; the audiences are tough, the standards are high. Yes, the audience was tough. By the time the third act rolled around, they were laughing loudly but the first… The first act’s job is to warm up the audience, and I was never so aware of that as I was last night. Sure fire gags to get a big laugh stuff suddenly fell on silence. It was a cold audience, no friends or family there to cheer us on, just people who came to see a show. I felt it and folded it right back into Wendy’s nervousness. I looked towards the audience more often, used that fake smile that fell in an instant showing she really wasn’t enjoying the situation, fidgeted, blew my nose loudly, belched, whined in that whiny voice, and finally – finally! – near the last 10 minutes of the act began to get real laughter in response.

The owner of the place met us in the afternoon. He shook my hand and said hello. The group went to dinner at a place nearby (good food), and when we came back I transformed: the lashes, the blue eye shadow, the bright red lipstick, the ugly leopard print blouse, the hair pulled back with two garish clips, the glasses. The walk came in, and the voice came out. The owner passed me again, in make-up, and said hello: Wendy responded. We did our thing, hitting lines and marks the entire time. Curtain call. Then I hurried backstage to take Wendy off before joining everyone at the bar. The owner was serving, and I had two beers on tap. Finally, after most of the guests had left, the owner stopped by our celebrations to speak to us once again. He looked straight at me and a puzzled frown came over his face. Sorry, what was your name again? he asked me. I introduced myself. Then the penny dropped. Oh my God! You were in the first act! I would have never recognized you! Jesus, what a transformation! You’re one hell of an actress! The owner looked dazedly around at the other members of the group, as if to ask do you people know what you have here?

Most of the conversation before the performance was geared towards the performance, as you might imagine. We were all focused on the task. But the conversation afterwards… I have been accepted as a full-fledged member of the group: they’re teasing me. One would ask: So, do we have any idea what script we might do next? And the director would answer: Oh, I don’t know…maybe I’ve found one… all the time with sly looks aimed at me and grins they couldn’t quite hide. Auditions were discussed. Timelines. I found more enthusiasm from the members than I initially expected.

Oh, they’re not doing it because they feel they have to, or just because they can do without paying royalties! They like having me there! I was included in backstage pix, crowding around and hamming it up for the camera just like I see other people doing. I was hugged both formally and informally – sometimes just an arm slung around my shoulders in an inclusive camaraderie that I felt on a new level. Yea! I’ve found it so difficult for so long to find people I have anything in common with. And although I still would like a bosom buddy, I find having a circle of friends like this is almost as good. It is immensely gratifying to honestly say I’m not worrying about what was said or done last night; there is nothing to hash over. Nothing other than the warm memory of the smiles and the laughter, the excitement and expectation.

Wow. Put that one down on the calendar! I don’t think I’ve ever been able to say that before.

Class on Monday is looking less and less likely. I heard from my friend and film co-star; she plans to be shooting until the evening, so I’m looking at a late night again. Good time to catch me, when everything’s topsy turvy from the performance. I’ll nap this afternoon with the tv on and stay up later.

Snick. Wendy is gone; the magic silver ring is back in my ear.

Auditions might be called yet this month. The re-writes are done. Still have to check page numbers on tech notes. Still have to think about the legal end, too: I want releases for recorded voice and/or video sequences, and I want something between myself as the playwright and the group just to cover my ass. Those things fall to me to write. I don’t need complexity, just clarity. This is mine, you can’t do it without my permission, you understand your voice will be used in a performance and all rights to the recordings remain ours, etc. I’m not a fan of legal writing, but I can do it.

Will need another meeting with the director. Need to map out the schedule, especially the sound which I suspect will take longer than the actors. I want to move on that over summer holiday, so we have at least the roughs to use in rehearsals. …Ach, I will not have my notes fully made for any podcast/audio versions. I just won’t. It’s too much to pull it apart and re-write. Damn. Oh, well.

This production will help me in the next. And the next will help me in the first film version. And the first film version will help me the next time, when it goes full-length and big budget…

Yeah, yeah. We all know where that line of thought takes us.

…It’s Sunday. Time to shut down.

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Always first an artist

For the first time in many years, I’m in love with a new song. It used to happen a lot when I was younger. Music was life for me in many ways. But as musical tastes changed I found it happening less and less. I didn’t like the EQ’s of new music. I didn’t like the instrumentation of new music. I didn’t like the chordal arrangements, the vocalizations, the words. I tried to like something. Anything. But it just never hit the G spot for me. Been spending quiet time with the radio on, most of it blending into that meh of pop muzik that I detest. Then the above song came on.

Different sound, different EQ, different chordal progression…

And the words.

*sigh* I like the song so much it gets me past that horrible keyboard sound in the lead section…

Attitude. A bit of dirt on that bass and guitar. A bit of slop in the manner of performance. Now I know what happened to rock. Thought it all got dissolved into R&B trills and hip-hop raps.

Oh, Goddess! There’s still life out there…

So. I know what I’m splurging on. This week. Gotta find the CD; I want the real, full sound files. Gotta find a bit of cash for it, too. Hope it’s in the 15 euro range rather than the 30 euro range.

Wake up, youngster. There’s still music being made out there that you’ll like. There’s still stuff going on you want to be a part of. And yes, there’s still life out there…

…No, I don’t want to get into the heavy psychological examination of why I’m in love with a song titled ‘Sorry’. I think it’s all rather obvious, don’t you? I’d rather focus on my joy over finding a sound I like. The neighbors are in danger of hearing that CD blasted at full volume for days on end once I get my hands on it. Hope they like it, too.

I find it odd how often I’m lead back to my childhood. Like I keep finding little scraps of myself that got cut off somewhere along the road. Oh, yeah. I remember feeling that way. I remember that joy, the sense of my entire spirit being filled with light and beauty. Why did I stop doing that? Why did I stop myself from enjoying that? My suspicion is that I’ve been punishing myself. Telling myself I don’t even deserve that feeling, and taking it away from myself.

Maybe all this childhood memory crap is a good thing. Maybe it means I’m finally forgiving myself.

…That’s…difficult to ponder. Makes me want to cry for all those wasted fucking years, but that gets me nowhere. I’d rather accept it all in one swallow: the good and the bad of it. The bad of it is that I’ve cut myself off from the world for a long time. The good of it is I’ve given myself time to think, time to sort, time to develop outside the influence of out there. The bad of it is I’ve beaten myself up and made myself feel awful. The good of it is I’ve learned so very much, and that’s enriched my writing, my mind, and my life.

I am proud of what I do these days. No hidden qualms, no thinking something isn’t quite right with my work but I can’t put my finger on it. I am confident, assured of my writing. I don’t claim to be perfect, and between typos, my Midwestern upbringing and poor grammatical understanding I never am. There’s always something to correct in my writing. I’ve become okay with that because I know that’s essentially just fluff. The core is good. The core is strong. If once out of every 5000 words I’ve got a typo or grammatical mistake, I’m not that bothered by it. It’s the development of the idea that I’m concerned about. The strength of the story, the lack of plot holes, the ability to drive an audience the way I want. Yes. Now there, I shine. I know it, and I’m not gonna dither around. This is my strength: good plots, good development. I have full rights to feel proud of myself on that note.

That’s good. A foundation to build on. My brother’s always telling me to think about the foundation. Turn weaknesses into strengths. If my bro had a life motto, I think it would be “Know Thyself”. He’s had to; he struggled for 50 odd years with undiagnosed autism and ADHD. He’s taught me to learn to accept what I can and can’t do, and work with it. I’m still new at it, still struggling with the whole acceptance thing. But I am finding reasons to be proud, things to enjoy, alternative paths I hadn’t considered earlier…

Maybe I’m defective. Or maybe I’m dumb.

…But sorry? Truthfully, no. Not in the long run. I know – as I’ve always known – that every step along the way leads me to where I stand now. I knew back when I was 20 what I was doing, what I was allowing myself to step into: that world, that dirt. I knew when I was 30 that my decision not to use my degree and suck up to some middle management toadie would result in certain circumstances. I knew. I always knew. I knew the chances I was taking.

But I won’t blame myself for it. I did what I did. I learned. I grew. Maybe I grew crookedly rather than straight, but who’s to say the twisted trunk of a tree isn’t just as lovely as a razor straight trunk? In truth, isn’t the twisted trunk a more beautiful thing? Doesn’t it scream out to you in its visual representation(s) of pain, the action of time, the determination to persevere?

…I know myself well enough to know this: if I had done everything differently, if I had taken a job and done the marriage/kids/house thing, I’d still be struggling right now. I’d still be in crisis, only it would be from the other side of it. That, above all, is what I’ve always known. I had to choose between the artist in me and what society called ‘successful’.

I am always first an artist.

Free

Out of jail. That’s how my head feels: I’m out of jail. Finally.

This delightful feeling of lightness comes from another notch in my understanding of Dutch. They said reading would help. I didn’t believe them as I slogged through text after text, never enjoying it, always feeling like it was homework because there were just too many words I didn’t know. Yesterday I reaped the benefits of my hard work. Every word from my instructors was crystal clear. I heard the ‘-ie-‘ used for ‘hij’ after a verb that ended in T. I heard ‘raad’ (guess) and knew what the meaning was. I heard ‘ingewikkeld’ (complicated) and caught on right away. I heard ‘om’ and ‘toe’ and ‘maar’ and ‘al’ – those pesky words that flash by in a blink with native speakers. I was so excited I just sat there vibrating with joy and excitement. I didn’t just follow the gist of the conversation, I got every word.

My teachers took my suggestions to heart. Thank you, thank you, thank you! We spent the day going over prepositions. Not just over or under, which are the baby prepositions you learn with A,B,C, but those larger prepositions that can get split in a sentence. I was not the only one excited by the lesson; everyone seemed to respond that way. We were more jovial, more verbal, there were more questions, more examples, and when we broke for coffee midway we ended up sitting around a table together and continuing to discuss prepositions, our lives, and the language. We were all so into it, as a matter of fact, that everyone – students and teachers alike – stayed an extra 15 minutes to finish up some reading.

I didn’t want the lesson to end. I didn’t want to take a break. I just wanted to keep hearing the language so clearly. Keep reading, keep learning. I don’t ever remember feeling so fired up, tho I imagine I once felt this way about English.

*sigh* Real satisfied joy. Boy, that’s a great feeling!

Today’s my appointment with Dr D, my GP, about the pain killers. Almost forgot about it with everything else. It’s small potatoes now, and I wonder why I ever thought it was a big deal. Go in, have my say, head out. No big whoop.

Yesterday was the first day I truly felt back to full health. No hunger pains or problems from almost starving myself. No headaches or jaw aches, no toilet problems or sleep problems. I had energy, I was alert, and I felt good physically and mentally. Happy I’ll be able to say all that to my doc. Worry was becoming a constant companion to me. Who’d a thunk my biggest problem was food? Not me, certainly. I have an almost non-stop litany of ‘you’re so fat’ going in my head. So I skip meals, cut back on what I eat, and never feel like I’m really doing enough. But I’m not 15, or 25. My body can’t do this any more, as evidenced by the migraines and other accompanying pain I experienced. And I shouldn’t feel like I need to ask it to do this.

It’s time to tackle my body issues. Among other things.

…Well, at least I’ll be doing it on a full stomach, for Pete’s sake…

Sent out some emails expecting them to be answered quickly. Naturally, they aren’t. One was to the director asking about meeting this week to go over the script. Hope my messages didn’t fall into a black hole. Again. There are black holes in cyber-space, and there are servers and areas where emails typically go missing. I’ve had it happen to me before. Best to give it a few days. Every time I follow up fast, thinking my message has gone missing, all I end up doing is annoying the other person because yes, they actually did get my first message and they’re just not as fast on response as I want them to be.

Can’t…slow…down…

Thinking I might head to the gym after my doc’s visit. I feel good enough to go and get a walk in. Yippee! That’s real progress. Trying to not dwell on how long I’ve been off my routine, or how long it will take me to get back to where I was physically. The goal is simply to get some movement. I still want to break 5km in 30 minutes, but I’m not ready to even get back on the cross trainer quite yet. I’ve been real good on taking care of myself, being gentle with myself. Getting on the cross trainer at this venture…oh, that’s asking me to push too hard and hurt myself. Nope. Won’t even give myself the opportunity.

I’ve very aware how close I am to tipping into full blown mania again. I’m too excited and excitable, too easily wound up, too easily thrown off from my normal sleeping and eating patterns. Nine days before my first psychiatrist appointment, and I hardly expect to be given a prescription after my first visit, so the number one rule is (as it’s been for quite some time now): take care of myself. Don’t judge what that looks like, just do what it takes. I cannot afford another three months down because of TMJ. I do not want more pain. I do not want to take more pain pills. And I have firm commitments coming up, goals to achieve. I need to be in good health to do all these things.

Prisons come in all shapes and sizes. My prison… I was going to say it was ‘all in my head’, which technically it is, but I don’t want to feel discounted by my own words. My prison was is was (which is the correct verb?) very real. A prison of anxiety and fear, self doubt and self hate. I walled myself off years ago to protect myself, never fully realizing how much I would cut myself off in the process.

Those walls are coming down. The language barrier is coming down.

And I’m free.

I’ve been told I’ve been wrong before

Imagine, if you will, a thin, eerie whistling. …You’ve just entered the empty inbox zone.

Okay. Now it isn’t just mania. Going on five days since I heard about the possibility of performing in Amsterdam. Same amount of time with the read through, and still nothing. Nothing…nothing…nothing. The nothing is so LOUD it echoes. Feels like there must be worlds of conversation going on without me. Plans being made, ideas being discussed – and I’m out of the loop. Maybe that’s just paranoia, tho it won’t be the first time I’ve actually been left out. Seems to happen an extraordinary amount of times to me. I was ignored and left out of my family. I was ignored and left out by people I called my friends. Can’t help but get triggered by the silence; it’s so damned familiar to me. I can feel myself built walls: Well, I don’t need them or Next time I’ll be a bit more stand-offish. Defense in this case is okay; offense is not. I cannot take the lead. I must only react to what’s given me. Don’t ask me where that law is written. If I knew, I’d go and destroy it.

…Part of it, I know, comes from long and old memories of being told I was interpreting situations incorrectly. No, people weren’t ‘making fun of me’ like I felt they were or I was just ‘in my head and over-thinking as usual’. I’ve been taught to doubt myself at every turn. Have to remind myself those lessons came at the hands of people with whom I’ve broken contact because they’re totally screwed up. …Difficult, tho. Those early experiences get so burned into your soul.

In this case, my recourse is simple: ask. I’ve full rights to send out an email or two, asking about Amsterdam and the status of my script. Amsterdam is easy to ask about. The script…not so much. I face rejection on a couple of levels with the script, and I find myself reluctant to begin poking the bear just to get a reaction. Timing in life – as in comedy – is sometimes everything. Ask at the wrong time and you’ll get rejected big time. Wait, wait, wait until the wheels are in the correct alignment and you can ask for the moon. My instinct tells me to wait on the script and I’m gonna listen to that part of me.

Got a lot of nothing on my plate today. Cleaned the house before the web people came for the meeting with my bro, so that’s kind of already done. My homework is finished. I finished reading Roald Dahl and am well into the other book. And, biggest of all, it’s my bro’s comic book day so he’s out of the house all afternoon. Not sure what I’ll keep myself occupied with, tho a horror film spree while I play games sounds quite inviting. I should go and run the animal, too. Tho I’ve got to admit, I feel pretty damned lazy right now. Don’t know I’ll even get out of my pj’s.

…You know, maybe I should learn to clarify that pj point. I’ve said to doctors that I often stay in my pj’s all day and they get that look on their faces (you know the one) and then write ‘depression’ in my file. I’m not sad in my jammie-jams. I’m happy. It’s freeing and fun. It says ‘I don’t care what the world throws at me, I’m safe and warm and can do whatever I want, including closing my eyes and going to sleep right now’. Don’t you get that? I’m far more depressed in grown-up clothes, all tight and uncomfortable. Can you sit in a cross-legged position easily with jeans on? No? Then why wear them? I want freedom, full movement. Give me a big, soft bag to wear and I’m 100% secure. And when I feel secure, I’m better able to be happy. To allow myself some time and care.

While I’m on a rant, the same thing goes for make-up. Why, oh why, do people assume if a woman doesn’t wear make-up she’s either (a) depressed or (b) a lesbian? Why is it “okay” to wear a bunch of war paint that isn’t you out into the public arena? Why is it socially acceptable to feel good about yourself if you do up your eyes, your lips, wear high heels and dresses, but NOT okay to be happy bumming around in rags? I’ll admit: the make-up and tight clothes and high heels ARE attractive. Even I find them so. But I spent years doing that, and you know what? I’d rather not do it anymore. I’d rather my feet be comfortable in sneakers or my orthopedics. I’d rather my waist bands be loose so I can turn and run and do things. I’d rather my nails be short so I can type fast. I’d rather my hair be out of my face so I can see what I’m doing. I’d rather my skin be healthy and free from dead animal secretions and toxins. Why is that wrong? And why do you think I’m depressed for feeling that way?

Why, too, is it wrong to not want a sexual relationship? Why must we all fuck, fuck, fuck, right up to our dying day? Don’t you realize how much time that takes away from what I find truly important? Don’t you recognize the same old patterns, played out time and time again through the fucking eons? Don’t you see how empty the word “love” has become?

…I’m just flabbergasted that people don’t recognize this shit. Wonder at it, as I do.

*sigh* But I’ve been told I’ve been wrong before…

Writer

This. is why. I’m going. to a psychiatrist! So said I at midnight, still bouncing off walls while brushing my teeth.

The read through…wow. First, I’ll note how disappointed I am in the “members” of the theatre group. Other than the director, myself, and the guy who set up the read through, ZERO members showed. Everyone fucking blew it off. Trying to not take it as a diss on me or my work. But we had 9 people who claimed they had interest and said they’d show. Nine. Second: We did have six newbies show up from the FB post. Thank goodness! Without them, it would have been difficult to give it a read through at all. And it’s always nice to meet new people with similar interests. Third: oh, Goddess! Nothing will take the wind out of your sails like a bad read though of your words. And although the first words out of my mouth were and are ‘Thank you’, even I have to admit it was a BAD read through. These people claim they know English? Stumbling through simple words, unable to pronounce half the text…if I read aloud like that in my language class I’d be kicked down a level. Absolutely awful. That’s not even mentioning the flat delivery, or the almost inaudible voice of one person who sat right next to me yet even I could barely hear her! Saving grace: two of the readers were decent. They carried it.

Since everyone who mattered in the decision on this script was absent, it’s still got to be approved by the Board. Glad to say the director and the member who set it up both like the story, so I’ve got two people who’ll vote ‘do it’. No idea when a decision might come down the tube. With their track record, it might be another month. Or maybe it’ll be easy for them: We don’t have to pay her, so let’s just do it.

Best of all, yes – they all got the unspoken meaning and reason for the trilogy. And, as I walked back to the metro with the director, he again brought up Lovecraft and compared my work to that master of terror. The director is a well read, articulate guy, so I have high respect for his literary opinion.

I can write.

But, yeah. Bouncing off walls. Up late, too excited to try to sleep. Oh! And I forgot to mention the kicker (at least for me). Mentioned to the director that as long as he’s taking the helm, I’ll take a role if he needs me to. He turned to me with large eyes and said “I should hope so! I want you in this!” Ah…to be acknowledged on two fronts. My ego is full. And to have a chance to play one of these high-octane characters -! Speak my own words?!? Oh YES! PLEASE!

Full disclosure, I took a morphine pill last night to (1) calm the fuck down and (2) prevent myself from biting down on my teeth again since I knew it began from mania and I was (and am) as wound up as can be.

Today is as full of stuff – or as empty – as I want it to be. My choice. The weather is crisp and clear this morning, and it almost feels like I’m starting anew. Things I may or may not do include a visit to the gym, tackling two needed phone calls in Dutch, reading, and starting on my homework. I could also duck out of the house to meet my brother at the library so I can get a new library card. Might do that…the sunshine out my window is awfully tempting and considering everything a little shake-up of my norm is probably a good idea.

One of those phone calls I could make today is to make an appointment with a local psychiatrist. Saw my doc on Monday regarding my mental health (YEESH! It was difficult to write those words!). Cried a little. She was very understanding. So now I’m holding this phone number. Need to pop by the doc’s office and pick up a referral letter, too. Then call, set a date, get my brain picked, and get some pills. Mentioned to my doc how I often can’t even tell you how I’m feeling before writing. She thought that was interesting. Have to admit I’m a bit curious to see what this referral letter says. My Dutch is good enough I’ll be able to read all of it. Finally.

Follow through. Remember that! Steady, slow progress. You don’t have to tackle the world today, or even this week. Take a bite today. A bite tomorrow. And put on that brave persona. The one you hauled out on holidays, the one who knew she could leave behind all the angst and shyness simply by choice. You can be whoever you want to be. Finally, keep in mind that you’re harder on yourself than anyone else. No one remembers your flubs like you do. And you’ve cut all those awful people out of your life, the ones who liked to nag at you and verbally remind you of all the times you fucked up. …Hell, woman! You’ve got a cheerleading section these days.

Yes. S and the rest of the film crew. The director here. The artistic director in the states. Even my teachers. Such a glow in Monday’s lesson! And why not? Even I could hear how my language popped up a level after reading through that book. …A couple of other students wrote their essays – half sheets, a small paragraph. Me? Five pages of A4 paper with small, tight hand writing. I received a gratifying gasp from my teacher. In perfect Dutch, I said ‘I can make my homework shorter, but I really want the practice.’ She smiled, and said no, please keep writing just as much as I want.

I am, and always will be, a writer.

And so it goes…

Blank wall. Been trying to remember lately. Nothing worse than trying to force something; it never comes when you want it. I’ve had repressed memories surface. A strange, disjunct experience that disturbed me greatly. I quickly learned to tell myself it was okay, that I was protecting myself until I felt I could handle the memories. I’m telling myself that again. That whatever comes up, it’s okay. I’ll be here for myself.

But there is a wall of grey nothingness. Just…fog. I see that younger me, I feel her. But there’s nothing. No surfaced memories of long repressed angst or abuse. No ‘oh, yes, I remember that incident; it changed my life’. Just that teenaged awareness, that awkwardness, and the same old body issues that have plagued me forever.

Tore through more than 50 pages in my Dutch book yesterday. Now there’s one thing I’ve rediscovered: my obsessive love of a good story. I’m gobbling it up, so enthused I have to share every bit of the adventure with my bro (who is getting sick of hearing about it). In the last 10 years, I set myself the task of reading more ‘classics’. Many I’ve enjoyed, but some have left me feeling like I’m back in school. Read it because. Because it’s listed as a classic, because people talk about it, because. Not because I enjoy it.

I’m loving this book. Both for the story, and for the fact that I’m understanding the language. It’s a reinforcing circle. Haven’t felt this way for…well, since I was a teen.

Forecast today is for snow. The country is on yellow alert. The Midwesterner in me laughs; this country is much like Texas or Florida. They shut down for a dusting. Today we might get 1 to 3 cm. Ooooo! lol. But it’s good warning. They put out alerts because it isn’t the Midwest, and people don’t normally carry shovels and a bag of sand in the trunks of their cars. Same with sidewalks. Shovel…sidewalks? What, are you picking up the cobblestones and re-laying them? This leads to some icy patches until it warms up enough to melt everything. That’s a serious subject for me. Icy patches mean risk of falling and hurting myself. Plans are to get out and do what I need to do early, then return home to snuggle under my blanket and READ.

Have to get back to writing, too. Didn’t finish my homework yet. But later, later…after I find out the next bit of the story. Or maybe after the next chapter. Or…oh, hell! There’s only 50 odd pages left in the book. Just finish it!

…On the heels of rediscovering my love of reading, I’m also rediscovering a very uncomfortable guilt. I feel guilty reading all day. Isn’t that silly? But I was raised that way, getting yelled at if I read books all day long. That probably tells you everything you ever needed to know about my mother: she bloody well yelled at and belittled me for improving my mind. No wonder I’m all hung up about excelling intellectually or just giving myself the pleasure – the pleasure – of reading all afternoon. Unwinding that guilt is tough. It’s all tied up in my mother issues and my feelings of self-worth.

*sigh* I compare myself to others to try and figure out if I’m a wimp or not. I know it isn’t healthy or ‘right’. I’m just admitting to it. Pain levels in particular are something I’ve had to do that with: I was taught my pain was nothing, I shouldn’t even complain about it. Now, as adult, all I get are confirmations that that idea was wrong. Doctors look at me in horror. Everyone asks why I let things get so bad. …The thing that’s strong in my mind this morning is when my mother told me about her bout with shingles. She said it was the most painful experience of her life. Caveat: that was before the cancer. Nonetheless, it’s important. Because I can say with 100% certainty that the pain I complained about and was told I should ignore was much worse than shingles. My mother was the wimp, not me. She was the whiny one, gobbling up pain pills three times too powerful for what she had. She was the one who drugged me as a child. And she drugged me a lot: when I got sick, when I went to the dentist, when she got sick of me. Not when I complained of pain in my hands or feet. No. Those were growing pains, and must simply be endured. Deal. [And…erm…WHO taught me to use drugs recreationally??]

I hope some small part of my mother’s soul is still aware, and knows just how fucking much I hate her for what she did. It was such a head-fuck.

Two days into exercises for my jaw and OW! Took one of my last morphine pills last night because it just had that sharp, painful ache going. I might have to get a refill on those. Do not want to be caught without pain pills and then have it hit me like it did. Haha! And here it is Friday, and me with only two pills left. Better sign into the pharmacy and order them right now.

Ye Gods!

And so it goes…

Hugs

You can tell a lot about your relationship with someone by the way they hug you. Space left between, loose arm hold, fast release…you know when the hug is social, something they feel they must do rather than something they want to do.

I received one such hug yesterday. It came from the student who had to leave the country; her visa is up and she’s going home in a week. I noticed she sat a seat or two apart from the rest of us as we watched the film, and she didn’t join in the conversation often. Maybe the final production was tough. Maybe there was tension and some sort of fight over the film. Or, more likely, she was already feeling too much and she didn’t want to ache worse by engaging with us and then saying good-bye. I’m sad to think that. But I totally understand. The rest of the hugs I received ranged from true friendship to intense love. And I was a glutton, asking for hugs when meeting and hugs when leaving. Gimme, gimme, gimme. I don’t get many hugs, and I wanted to store them up. Plus, I love these people. Totally.

Was happy to find the people I felt most strongly about also felt the same way in return: their hugs told me so. Did not want to leave their company. I also did not want to force them into hanging out with me all day, so we did eventually end the afternoon. But the end came with promises of more calls, more visits – after exams and deadlines, which all seem to be happening in the next ten days. Asked S if I’d offended her with any of my comments on her writing. How I love this young woman! She turned shining eyes – really, her eyes were shining – to me and said ‘Oh, no! You gave me so much great information; I really appreciate it!’ and went on to tell me about the exam and deadline schedule. We have plans to get together once her calendar quiets down, to really talk about the script. And she’s promised (like a teenaged best friend) to help me with my hair and make-up on the night of the awards ceremony (which is black tie – gulp!).

Oh! I have a friend!

Talked a bit about my writing. Mentioned how I want to take my work to film. Everyone wants to continue working in the industry. And the director said, on the way out, ‘maybe we should just do another one’, meaning maybe we could get together and film MY story. He mentioned how little some films are made for, the funding and support available here in NL. I responded enthusiastically, saying my stuff is made for the stage so it’s already story heavy and FX light. …I know it’s not Ridley Scott or some other famous director, but the very idea has me all a-tingle. It might happen. I might see my script on the big screen.

Speaking of the big screen, OH MY GODDESS! Now I understand why Hollywood actors starve themselves. That screen blows you up to inhuman proportions. It doubles your size, and doubles your flaws. The part of me that always wants to look attractive winced. We used overhead lighting in the shoot – the type designed to throw shadows under any puffiness and exaggerate every crease and wrinkle. Ugh! I looked awful. And when I tucked my chin in, the skin on my neck just hung there all flabby and gross. But the part of me still addicted to being attractive is pretty weak. She gasped once or twice in my head, horrified at our appearance. Then the rest of me shut her up. We’re clay, I told myself. This is what they wanted. Look at the final product. And even she had to admit it added to this off feeling in the scenes, the tension and the something’s not right here that we wanted the audience to feel.

Oh, the excitement! The joy! All those times I was forced to work in groups, all those times I was told to pull as a team… I never felt it, and I never was in a group I felt included in. Not until the film. Now, I get it. I get the power of a team. I get the power of working together. It. is. amazing. And it’s effortless and fun and full of so many good feelings I often find myself near or in tears.

Guess I haven’t let myself care this much very often. I’ve wanted to, I’ve just not found people I felt I could trust with…all of this. I want to dance and sing, jump up and down. Show them all how much I love them. Support them, cheerlead for them, listen and help and be happy as I see them succeed in life. And I don’t want to freak any of them out, either. This old woman who’s so odd. Who just walked into their lives and now has set up camp. Trying to limit myself. Give a lot, but hold back from the all because…well, it almost overwhelms me. I don’t feel right burdening someone with it – and that’s what it feels like, even tho I’m so very focused on their happiness. Too much of anything isn’t good. So I shine that light on them, that bright burning joy I have around them, when I’m in their presence. Then, I try to tone it down. Not hound them every minute with it. I could; I’d like to write to each of them right now and tell them how much I love them.

I said it yesterday. Not with my words. That might sound weird. I told them how proud I was of them, how happy I am with the film, how much I loved being a part of it all, how I knew they’d all go on to be great successes. But my hugs said more. That’s how I told them I loved them.

The Devouring Snake

Is this hurting you?

I wanted to tell him no, that it was just my fear that made tears leak out of my eyes. But my mouth was full of dentistry tools, and all I could manage was a negative uh-uh guttural sound, which seems to be understood by everyone in every language. Particularly dentists.

This morning I had the last bit of root canal work done. Sat down and talked first, told my dentist firmly that this wasn’t a tooth problem, took him thru an abbreviated version of the last two weeks. He kept asking me ‘Why did the dentist at Erasmus do the root canal?’ I told him all my teeth could have been pulled at that stage; I really didn’t care. The pain was too much.

The good news is he didn’t hurt me this morning. I told him to please numb the area out heavily because I was still having pain, and thankfully, he listened. So much so that I’m sitting here typing with half my face still feeling dead. The not so great news is I think he’s a bit angry at the emergency dentist for doing a procedure that wasn’t needed. Wouldn’t outright say that, naturally. Doctors tend to stick together. But his repeated questions and puzzlement told me that someone is going to hear about this.

Now I’ve more appointments for a mouth guard fitting. Joy, joy. And I need to get moving on the physio for this.

So, let’s add a bit more excitement to the mix, since it’s excitement and good things happening in my life that set this off in the first place. Signed into my writer’s email and found a message from the theatre group in the states. Blue Whale has made the semi-finals, out of 250 entries. Sent a reply out to the artistic director thanking her for the news and her continued support. Also apologized for not sending out Taman, which was my intention. Played up the health issue a bit – and I’ve gotta say, I’ve no shame in playing the sympathy card at this point in my life. If it gets my work performed and seen, I’m all for it.

Been working on the second installment of the trilogy. It’s a big re-write – but I knew that. Needed gender flips, different deaths… Still working on the last four scenes. And I’ve cut and cut and cut because it swelled up to over 7000 words. May have to add in another scene, but at this point I’d rather be pumping it up than cutting it more. Have two pages of notes/self talk written out as I work. Mostly stuff like ‘What are you doing here?’ or ‘If this is gonna happen in scene 7, you need to do this in scene 2’. The number one question I keep coming back to is: Does it drive the scene? Oh, yes. I’ve become one of those. Every word, every glance has to mean something. I don’t have time for fluff in this format. And so I’m analyzing my own work. This has to be there; it establishes this and that. If I want this, than I’ve got to have that somewhere earlier. And spread out the scares. Had them bunched up one on top of the other, with long stretches of important but not-so-scary dialogue.

I think I’m close. Don’t plan on much today after the dental work and anticipated soreness once the numbing agent wears off. But a few more days should do it. If I’m in the groove, I should be able to finish if before New Year’s.

January hangs in front of me, full of unscheduled pops of excitement like the fireworks that are already being set off in the neighborhood. I know the theatre group is going to get together to finally watch the vids of the play. I know the film group will get together, once to watch the finished film as a group and once for the awards ceremony at school. I’ll be hearing one way or the other from the theatre group in the states on Blue Whale. And it’ll be back to language classes, back to trying to write the children’s story in Dutch. That’s enough excitement to be dealing with, and I’d bet my last euro that something else is gonna pop up, too.

Mm. Can’t tell you how pleased I am that my refill on the morphine pills came with another refill.

Need to start pulling it together. Smoking too much. Not going to the gym. Gotta finish up my work and get my head out of my ass. My bro’s working on re-writing the lost chapter of his book, which means I’ll need to start sending out feelers for that. Gotta wrap my head around Dutch again. It’s there, almost, but it’s floaty. Indistinct. I know I should know it, but the meaning escapes me and I’ve reverted to just using English.

Geez…and I don’t want to start beating myself up again about doing this or that. The list above looks like my justification to begin berating myself. And I know I need to still rest and relax.

*SIGH*

…Is this hurting you? Hell, yeah! I hate sitting here feeling like I need to start accomplishing things again but holding back because my body needs to heal. Fucking hate it. Especially when I know it’s me hurting my body. It becomes one big circle: hurt yourself somehow, need to take time down, beat yourself up for being lazy, continue to hurt yourself… And it’s all the more bitter knowing it’s come to me from mania, from joy, from overloading excitement and amazement at good things suddenly showing up in my life.

I am the snake devouring it’s own tail.

Blend me

There. Downtime taken. Not easy. I was super squirrelly. Couldn’t actually nap, but I rested as much as possible and applied arnica lotion to my bruises throughout the day. Kept getting little jolts of excitement every time I went online, seeing posts from my film friends and friend requests and happily confirmed friendships and DAMN! I’ve never felt like I’ve had this many friends before.

Those feelings from the set are still oozing out of me. No longer from my hands; that part is over. Now it oozes from my eyes, as I tear up thinking about how much fun we had. I just felt so included and wanted. I still do, because of the continued online explosion.

But today it’s back to reality. The big equalizer: scrubbing out the toilet. Doesn’t matter if you’re King or Shit-Sweeper; scrubbing out a toilet brings everyone down to the same level. There’s dishes to clean, garbage to take out, a few items to pick up at the store, laundry to shift around. Get up and get moving again at the gym. Try to keep it all light, drink juice, take a break if I need it.

I still don’t have my holiday lights up yet.

Winter has come to the Netherlands. It’s been here for several days, but I’ve been too busy to pay much attention. Hail, sleet, and snow rain down from the cold skies every day. We might even get a little accumulation before the day is out. Almost hope for it; some of my new friends are from warmer climates and they talked about wanting to see a real snow. 🙂 I refrained from saying anything about ‘real snows’ or drifts five feet high when they said that. Dutch snow, I can handle. Even if a lot comes down, it doesn’t stick around.

…Have to admit, my deepest dreams are for family members to notice my posts about the film and show some interest. Maybe say ‘well done!’ I’m not holding my breath. They’ve had 52 years to tell me ‘well done’, 52 years to support me doing what I love, and so far all they’ve offered me are half-assed jokes at my expense. But I’d be lying if I said any different. I want that recognition from them. I want my mother to be proud of me. I want my father to acknowledge my beauty. Even with both my parents dead, and voluntarily cutting myself off from the rest of the family, I still want it. There’s the saddest thing of all, because I know I’ll never get it. Not from my mother or father. Not from my oldest brother or sister. Not from any of my aunts or uncles on my mother’s side. The extended family from my father’s side has always supported me from the moment time I met them. That was my very first clue: here were family members who took me as family, shared their lives with me in words and pictures, and supported me. Said ‘wow!’ or ‘well done!’ or ‘I’m so excited for you!’ They barely know me – we’ve never actually met in person – and yet they are so much more open and loving than my real family. It told me so much.

And it made me so sad. Oh, I’m done asking why. At least for today. The why doesn’t bloody well matter in the end, does it? The only thing that ends up mattering is what the hell you’re going to do with the mess you got dealt in life.

I see now, in hind sight… Ach! I was going to start saying I should have this or that. Fuck that. I did what I did. Chose how I chose. It taught me things, things I wouldn’t have learned any other way. I’ll embrace that. It’s hard to say thanks for it. Felt like a lot of shit to go thru, but maybe that’s because I’m bull headed and stubborn.

For now, I feel inspired. Fired up with standing up and being noticed. Moving forward for reals. Feels like my feet are firmly planted on the ground. I’m not building castles in the air. I’m not living on pipe dreams. I’m doing. I’m being.

And while part of me wishes I could take this knowledge back to myself and change things, let me make this abundantly clear to the Universe and anyone who’s listening: I DON’T WANT TO GO AROUND AGAIN. I want to see and be in the now, take the joy I can, love who I trust, do what I’m meant to do.

Holy fuck. Am I saying I want to…live?

That word has new meaning for me now. Live used to mean exist. I existed. I put up with the pain. But there’s a whole other dimension to that word. To truly live. Wow. It’s an immense feeling.

I want to keep that feeling, even when I’m scrubbing out the toilet today. I’ll live it. It’s just a tiny seed in the huge fruit of life. It’s hard, and tasteless. You might hurt yourself if you bite down on it too hard. It might be a bit bitter tasting, or slimy, or just gross. Don’t eat it. Consume the fruit. Spit the seeds. Everyone’s been telling me that, in their own words. Stop focusing on all the bad in life. Look on the bright side. Why can’t you take a compliment? But I didn’t have enough fruit. I was getting all seeds. My life was a pomegranate. And I don’t like pomegranates.

I’d been eating life raw. Very raw, and with no help from a cheery television chef telling me how to make this shit edible. Now, it feels like I’ve got a fully stocked kitchen with all the latest gadgets and gizmos. Just hit a switch and all the work is done for you.

Go on; do it.

Blend me.

May I have another?

Behold, the knees. I’m on the left, with the grey socks. My 21 year old co-star is on the right. After cut was called yesterday, we went up to change clothes and compare bruises. Don’t know how many times we ended up doing the death scene, but as you can see, we put everything we had into it.

This has to rank as the number one experience of my life. Been trying to think what might even come close to topping it, and I’m drawing a blank. The dedication of these young film makers – barely any sleep, push, push, and keep a great attitude. The sheer professionalism of them, from the camera work to the thought behind the shots. And damn! They were all so nice. I think I’m in love with each and every one of them.

That love translated into good work. When it came time for the big scene I drew it up – the tears, the despair over watching as your own child turns and kills you. Time after time. It was right there, behind my belly-button, and all it took was a bit of breathing. M, my costar, locked eyes as I went into it. And the further I went, the further she went. We began to feed off each other – the kind of thing you hear about on celebrity talk shows. The room faded, the crew were a background noise. It was the two of us, staring into each other’s eyes, falling into a world of pain and torment. And it. was. glorious. The best work I’ve ever been able to do, because everyone around me was that good.

…To be able to do that… To have an opportunity like that… I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how much it means to me.

Oh, Goddess! And to work with an actor who could match me!! That was another world. Gone were any inhibitions, any doubts. Had the director asked us to strip naked to do the shot, I think we could have without blinking an eye. That’s how intense and personal it was.

My hands never stopped leaking an oily sweat the entire shoot. That was the mania: uncontrolled, and oozing out of me even when I didn’t want it. But I didn’t shake. I didn’t falter. I didn’t back down or compromise. And it all got funneled into the role.

And there’s a story within a story here. Because not only was the shoot itself fabulous, the time around the shoot was fabulous, too. We did the filming at the home of the casting director, and her parents were around for most of the time. Her father honored me several times – he tried my homemade cordial for my voice, loved it, and promptly shoved some money in my hands to buy two bottles. He shared a family photo album of a trip to India. He spoke to me of his daughter, and his life. And his daughter! Oh, she’s a bright one! Found myself, as usual, spilling my guts in that no-nonsense way I seem to have these days. She said, ‘It’s kind of like therapy for you, isn’t it? I can tell by the way you say these things’. And yes, she’s right. I knew that a while ago. She’s just the first person to bring it up. She also told me how difficult it was for her to think of me as 52. ‘You’re very young. Like part of you hasn’t aged at all.’

Oh, I’d love to spend more time with her, and with her family! Good people. Straight talk, unafraid to say those things that need saying. Unafraid to hear what I have to say.

…I’ve had a taste of being a film star. Not just in name, but truly being a film star. Because it’s not what you do, it’s how people treat you that makes all the difference. I can only assume this translates into whatever field you study; that finally getting the accolades and notice you’ve worked so hard for always feels this good. I have been passed over so much – wait! I’ve allowed myself to be passed over so much! better! – , and these past two days are a big wake-up call on that front. Gratitude. Real gratitude for who I am and what I do. I feel accepted. In full, and without having to apologize for my weird sense of humor or the funny voices that sometimes burst out of me or anything else I do.

This is amazing. Absolutely amazing.

And all I want to do is fall down on my very bruised knees and scream THANK YOU! at the top of my lungs because prayer is far too quiet for what I feel.

This is me, actualized. In total. Giving it my all. Burning the way I know I was made to burn. Not turned away. Not ignored because other people were uncomfortable or didn’t know what to do or say. I was watched. I was admired – and TOLD. I was – dare I say it? – loved as much as I loved. I saw it and felt it. I was hugged not because that’s what you do at the end of filming, but because our emotions were overbrimming, because we knew we’d all shared something special and unique.

…I’ve no real plans, other than showering and babying my injuries. Thinking of maybe making a surprise visit on Monday to the set. I still owe the casting director’s dad a bottle of my cordial, and, well… As I was saying good-bye, and telling everyone how sad I was that it was over, someone said ‘you could always come visit on Monday’ and that’s just been turning in my brain overnight. I could see everyone again. Take care of the cordial, and pick up the lights. Drop off my expenses.

The more I consider it, the more reasons I find for going one more time.

Thank you. May I have another?