Give me strength

The dress fits. More than a quarter century on, and the dress fits. More than pleased; no need to spend funds on another outfit. Just shoes, and I can go cheap with those. Basic black pumps, no frills, low heels. Yippee.

Language lesson was far less of a drudge than I’d feared. I enjoyed it, as a matter of fact. Probably because I worked hard, I understood what was said, what was read, what was expected of me and I answered correctly 98% if the time. It’s a rare thing for me to make a mistake on my homework now. And I’ve moved into understanding nuances of words.

Got back the Dutch kids’ story, with corrections. Again, less than I’d feared. For 12 pages of handwritten material, I made very few mistakes – and those I did make, once pointed out to me, were obvious.

Pulled info on screenplay formatting, and began roughing a few lines in. I’m enjoying re-thinking the script, visualizing what I could do with a camera and editing rather than live action stage actors. It’ll be a nice project to putter on in between everything else.

Doing my best to cut back on smoking. Ugh. This is one I do NOT want to do. However. I need the time, the brain power, and the money in other areas right now, so cut back it is. Want to ride that line between cutting back and irritation; no need to make myself into a total bitch at the moment. I’ll self medicate as I feel I need. But ONLY when I need.

Followed up on our health insurance changes. Think I’ve got all the info we need to make a decision. I feel sort of dumb; in the end, getting thru it wasn’t that tough, and I’ve been dragging my feet for three years on this. Still. My language ability took a big leap recently, so I won’t be too hard on myself. Six months ago and this breezy attitude of ‘it wasn’t so difficult’ would not have surfaced – I was still mired in trying to understand.

More Dutch films. Ran ‘Sint’ last night with Dutch subtitles. Heard more. Understood more. But oh! I’m so happy I ended up here, in Rotterdam, rather than Amsterdam. Amsterdammers drop the last syllable of every word. No idea how they can tell the proper verb form on anything. It all sounds identical. And no wonder some immigrants just begin putting an ‘ah’ sound on the end of every word. It’s what it sounds like. Unfortunately for me, Amsterdam is still the center of the world here, so I need to learn their dialect because it’s in every radio broadcast, film, and tv program.

Getting close to asking someone why there are close to zero Dutch programs other than talk shows. Oh, their talk shows. Panels of people that discuss this or that. Close to 100% of what they do. No soaps, no sit-coms, no dramas. Panel shows and game shows. Snore! Why not a story? Why not something more? They’ve got the skills in media. Their films are top quality, and the stories they tell in film are wonderful. So why not tv?

Woke up crying. Don’t ask me why; I’ve already blocked the thoughts from my mind. But tears were there. Telling myself to hang on. It’s okay. Just part of the process, right? Pain leaks out of us in every sort of manner. This morning, it was tears from my eyes. This afternoon it might mean me feeling like shit because I still haven’t heard whisper one on anything I’ve sent out. And tonight I might snap at my brother because I feel unheard or unappreciated. Never happy about that, and I try to not turn my hurt on others. But it happens, and I realize why it’s happening. Too much pain. Something’s got to give.

Need to get to the gym. Put money on my metro card, and go hunting for shoes. See if the building has enough hot water to take a shower today. And go thru some more Dutch (already put in over an hour this morning).

*sigh* I feel disconnected from myself. And this, too, shall pass… Withdrawal. Yep. Feelin’ it already. I really miss my morning smoke.

Goddess, give me strength.

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The verbal truth

Having to rethink the Dutch people.

It’s easy to see the Netherlands as a fairy-land. The manicured landscapes, the oh-so-cute buildings stacked one atop the other, the canals. It’s easy to overlook, as a visitor, the graffiti or the garbage, the pushy tourists or short tempered natives. Especially if you partake at the coffeeshops. Then it all blends into one glorious haze. The language becomes the tram lines, the tram lines become your croissant and coffee breakfast, and your breakfast becomes the experience. It is something you cannot pick apart. You cannot explain the difference in food quality without delving into food regulations. And you can’t talk about food regulations without addressing the overriding social structure of humanism. Back home, you just shake your head and tell people ‘it’s different’.

And, it is different. Coming from the US, the Netherlands seems a doll-house world. The “wide open spaces” of the US (aka, suburban sprawl) are replaced by neat, tight neighborhoods clustered around parks, playgrounds, and needed services. I am still struck by the Dutch use of space: toilets in unexpected areas, steps up or down to add variety, whole floors of buildings hanging in the air as if ready to fall. They mix these tight, convoluted spaces with clean-lined furnishings, and the overall effect is one of spaciousness. As a first time visitor I was amazed at how much storage space was available in their rather tiny homes, just as I was amazed at how much orange taste they got in a glass of fresh squeezed juice.

I looked at this land and thought: Wow. Nice. I want to live there.

There is a polished edge to life here, a smoothed surface on everything. The food is better. The transport is better. The internet is better. The prices are better. The clubs are better. Everything is that bit up. Nothing can just ‘get by’; there’s too much competition. Before you know it, you’re used to the well presented top quality plates at restaurants, the cleanliness of the metro and public buildings, the efficiency and work ethic presented to you in every field.

But the Dutch are quick to say they’ve got problems. Things they’re not happy about. For some, that’s basic: government and taxes. Most, however, point vaguely to less concrete issues: inequalities, rising violence, kids left behind in the system. They seem to think first of the big picture, the stuff that affects everyone and their society as a whole. The small stuff – personal issues like how much disposable income they have every month – comes later.

For three years, I’ve sampled life here on the edges. Kind of getting involved, but the language held me back. You can do that. You can totally get by with zero Dutch. It won’t always be easy, mind you, but you can do it. But if you really want to climb into Dutch living, you’ve got to embrace the language.

Now that I’m there, it seems I can’t be held back. I want more Dutch films. And not just for the language learning. What I’m seeing, what I’m hearing, is teaching me far more than my visits and spaced-out walking around for three years. Art reflects life and vice versa.

Last night’s film… My brother was unashamedly in tears. It was a film about bullying, and so inclusive in its story and so well executed that – even tho it was geared towards the late teen crowd – I can’t imagine it NOT resonating with everyone. I was…stunned. On a couple of levels. First, it portrayed an environment I thought beyond the Dutch. An environment in which adults ignored the evidence, people turned away and said nothing. In other words, what I would consider a typical American mindset: it’s none of my business. Or, worse (since the object of bullying was an overweight kid), he/she deserves it. Having lived in this doll house cocoon, imagining that all of that was far, far away from me…well, it was a slap in my face. A wake up call. A realization that yes, it can even happen here. And no, I’m not so dense as to think that there aren’t nasty people everywhere on this planet. That much seems obvious. What I’m shocked at is this totality: the victim, the bullies, the other kids, the parents, the teachers. The small, unspoken collusions needed to set up this story in the first place. It speaks of darker problems. Larger issues, harder to tackle issues. Why? Because the bullies were shown in their own homes. A few scenes showed a life most people would want to escape. They did not wear black capes; they were not irredeemable. Just the opposite. Hateful actions, from characters you ended up feeling sorry for. And that brings me to my second level of astonishment: the unblinking stare these artists used in bringing out this story. No holds barred. No lines crossed, either: it was neither over the top nor schmaltzy. But they were not afraid to show us the hateful things. The terrible things. It was as if the filmmakers said ‘This is what’s happening. No frills, no added oomph. This is it. Look at it.’ And it was all the more powerful for that understated, quiet demand.

This is what I admire. That forthright attitude. The outspokenness. The bluntness.

Yet I must grow accustomed to truth-speaking. I do it in my writing, but verbally, I lag behind. I stutter, I avoid topics, I outright lie if I feel under too much pressure. No! Really! It’s fine. I’m fine! All the while I’m dying inside.

There is a toughness to the Dutch I didn’t anticipate. It is not a hard slap in your face toughness, but a softer kind. A ‘I’ll tell you the truth because we’re both worth it’ attitude. More than the grammar or the words themselves, it is that part of Dutch that intimidates me. It is that part of life that intimidates me.

The verbal truth.

Oddball

Back to three a day.

Went to the gym, walked. All was good – even thought some of the pain in my back was easing off. Then I walked home, and was hit with a muscle seizure that made me gasp in pain loud enough that passers-by gave me a look. Inched home from there. Said fuck that, took an extra morphine pill in the afternoon. And if it happens again today, so be it.

Got a bill in from the dentist. There goes any plans for January funds.

Wish I would hear something from someone. Get at least one of these anticipated events pinned down to a day and time. Trying to remember at least half the world is still hung over.

Reluctant to move ahead on so many levels. Need to follow up with the jaw physio, but that means more money out, so I’m stalling. Need to call for an adjustment to my shoes, but that means dealing with Dutch, so I’m stalling. Need to get money on my phone, but there’s a hell of a wind storm at the moment, so I’m stalling.

Bloody hell.

The only thing I’m not stalling on is the gym and promised pain relief once I walk this out enough.

Hate the emptiness in my head. Echo, echo, echo… There’s nothing there. No ideas gripping me, no epiphanies to wrap my brain around – nothing. My senses deal only with what’s directly in front of me: do I have an appetite? My feet hurt; shut up and keep walking. I’m tired. I’m bored. See that mess? Clean it up. Make yourself useful, for God’s sake!

Ugh.

And what is with my brain? Noticed I’ve swapped around the numbers in my phone number on all my scripts, meaning I’ve sent the fuckers out with the wrong number on them. Geez! Well, I’ve been noticing problems with flipping around letters and numbers lately. A bit of dyslexia? Probably. I’ve always had problems with i/e or e/i. Just…got away with it in English, thanks to repetition and spell check. But Dutch? Ouch! It’s very evident.

*sigh* Learning another language has taught me so much about myself.

…Maybe it’s time to pick up film script formatting. Always said I wanted to take the thriller trilogy to film. It’s cerebral work. Half creative, half editing. At least it would be something to focus on for now. Flesh things out. Let my head have something to work on, but not too much. It doesn’t have to think plot lines. Oh, there needs to be some extended scenes and yadda yadda to make full length films, but the majority of what I’d need to do is think edits and camera angles.

Hm. Worth at least beginning the research on it. Remind myself of the format. Familiarize myself with the additional notations. Dream a little…

My bro is sensitive to my mood right now. He bought John Wick 2, which we hadn’t seen, saying ‘it’s something new, and I know you need that right now’. Goddess. I couldn’t ask for a better support. This is why my brother has my undying loyalty ’til the end of time. It’s the small stuff. The ‘buy yourself something fun; you need it’ or ‘take time off; you’re driving yourself too hard’. He’s the one who tells me when I go too far, do too much. I’ve got to have that. ‘Cause I can’t do it for myself.

Been thinking in the back of my brain about my maturity, or lack of it. Been called immature, young for my age, a child at heart… Sometimes I feel like that’s wrong. No. Oftentimes I feel like that’s wrong. Like people look at me and find it amusing, but they can’t puzzle me out. What’s with her? Of course, I look at them and wonder why they feel they need to be like they are: cynical, or devious, or lacking warmth because they think that’s the way adults act. Why shouldn’t someone keep their innocence, their joy over the small things, that fast, locked in love that comes from shared fun and trust? Shouldn’t we all be wondering why people say such nasty things to each other, why everyone seems so bent on tearing each other down rather than working together?

What good comes of being a dragon? Of working only for wealth, an illusionary thing tied only to this physical reality? What good comes of hoarding needed medicines or food?

I mean…I’m the last person to be called a fan of humanity. It’s rotten to the core, and I’m all for letting the species die out. And I’d still rather share what I have with others. Spread a little joy. A little understanding.

Is that what people find so ‘immature’? Is it because I’m unmarried and live with my brother? Is it the way I smile, the way I laugh, the way I play when I’m happy?

…I can’t figure it out. Guess I should ask.

I’m an oddball. Will I ever climb out from under that mantle? Oddball in school. Oddball in life. Oddball at work. Oddball at play. When you hear shit like, ‘you’re not like any other woman I’ve ever known’ over and over, you begin to wonder. And as time goes on, and others get married, buy homes, have kids, and plan for things, you look at that and think ‘ugh! no way; that’s not me’ and somehow that sets you apart, makes you even more different…

I don’t fit in.

Oddball.

 

This is you

Friday. Final rehearsal last night. No big surprises or hiccups. May have another reader for Taman; it’ll depend on how healthy he is (sick at the mo).

No word, either, on much of anything. Saw J as she walked out; said she’d begun reading the script and liked it so far. Told her I wanted her to read Nina on the night. She was excited.

Word is we’ll have 45 or more people during our final performance. That’s doubled from the last time I heard the number. Did not ask if there was a trackable change from my work, but can’t help but feel that maybe I had a little to do with the numbers going up. Hopefully a time will come when I can actually ask about sales. If there was a peak sales day after I posted notification on the web, well…I’ll take well-deserved bow.

Was hit again last night by the little green monster. One of the actors discussed how he and his wife ‘flew on a whim to France for a few days’ over our week off. Can’t help but feel a bit envious of that type of ready cash. Well beyond my means. But, then, I thought about what he did over the break versus what I did – and decided that my time was better spent. He went and drank wine with his wife. I created something.

And meh. Made mention of my difficult week of language lessons. The people present broke into Dutch – jokingly. Too fast and too advanced for me to try to answer them, but I caught the gist of their words and replied – in English. Tried a little Dutch with them, but honestly I’m so damned embarrassed by my lack of knowledge! I KNOW I talk like a damned kid – mixing tenses and using the wrong verb form. I’m getting better each week, but I’m painfully aware of how poorly I speak. Still. Had a compliment on my pronunciation, which is the first step to being understood. I’ll take what I can get.

My mind has drawn a curtain down. Saturday night after the performance is when time stops. A bit worried about making it home; the handy metro system stops running out to my house around midnight. And my acting partner is not driving, so I’m making my own way. Found notice that the city is running a late night bus on the weekends. It leaves every hour. Need to double triple check the wording – been caught out more than once because I missed some added fine print at the bottom – ‘no longer in service’ or some such phrase. But I’d like to stay after the performance. Enjoy a beer or two. Chat with people. Problem is, I also want to make sure I get home without having to walk for over an hour because there isn’t any public transport going out where I live that late at night. So I’ll do what I can to cover my ass. Maybe that means walking into Centraal station to confirm there’s a bus running that late. I can do that.

But there I am stuck. Just…getting home. Sunday is a blur to me: I really have to buckle down on memorizing this page of verbs that don’t follow the rules. And I have a new letter to write, today or Sunday…probably Sunday. I’m in the last 24 hours before performing, and I don’t want to break the character. Will be going thru the body language from here on out. Walk, move like her. Don’t do the voice; it’s too taxing. Besides, get the body language right and the voice comes out naturally. The hand movements, the nervous gestures, the tilt of her head, the way she raises her shoulders…these are the things I’ll be doing.

Honestly, sometimes I think I’m nuts. To do a role properly, I become that person. For this role, that means becoming a nervous, unsure older woman. My body reacts to this as if I really am that nervous – meaning I’ll get gassier and less and less comfortable in my skin as the performance approaches. I don’t look forward to it. But I don’t want to fake it, either. I could. I could fake it all and get away with it. The audience would never know.

But I would…

And that’s something I’m not willing to accept. So I have to mess with my own system. Bring up those insecurities, let them eat at me a little. Nibble, nibble. Open the door to the darkness that drives that kind of behavior.

lol! That’s never been the problem. The problem has always come afterwards, when I try to turn it off and shut that door.

*sigh* Fuck and oh, well. I’ll live. And maybe I’ll do something great.

The sudden influx of insecurities is NOT helping me when my mind turns to my writing. Someone pat me on the head – please! …Which is why, I suppose, I’ve drawn that mental curtain down in the first place. Put an end to the chapter of performing before I open the chapter of writing.

…I gotta trust myself on this.

Fuck it all. Sunday will be a whole new world. I’m afraid of being afraid in that new world. Feels like my self esteem issues were much better of late. And I’m worried I’m gonna need to claw my way back.

So…put a bookmark in it. We stop, here. Just a pause. Sunday we’ll open this up again. We’ll find strength through reading our work. We’ll know, in our gut, it’s good – regardless of reader comments, regardless of other personal agendas we have no fucking idea about. KNOW that. Cement it in here. You do it with your insecurities to bring them out at the proper time; you can do with your self confidence. Regardless of what you write, regardless of who you become on stage, remember ONE thing:

This is you.

Thank you, me

Time off is a good thing. It gets you out of your rut, changes things up, adds a bit of excitement to your life. It also screws mightily with your schedule.

After more than a week off from hard exercise, I was a bit worried I’d find myself slow and weak at the gym. While I admit my arms are like a baby’s – more flab than muscle, so they ARE weak – the rest of me was more than up to the test. Took it easy; still have a performance on Friday. But I fell into my run/jog on the cross trainer, falling only a little short of 3.5 km in 30 minutes, without a hiccup. Kept an eye on my heart rate (at my age, I feel that’s a public service more than anything: make sure the old lady doesn’t keel over from a heart attack). 120, 130, 140. Then a push and up to 150. Yes! Seems that’s the magic number for me. The sweat pours out of me and the endorphins must kick in because it – all of it, from the sweat to the burn in my legs – feels good.

*sigh* The full force of my addictive personality really leaves me feeling bummed. But I guess I should pat myself on the back; at least I’ve found an outlet for it.

Today is a physiotherapy visit. Haven’t seen my guy in a while – busy with the play and too poor to pay for a visit. Think I now know how to handle my visits. I can keep a good 8 weeks between appointments as long as I keep active. However – wait; I should say HOWEVER – if I have more than 2 days down due to illness or injury, I need an appointment. All it takes is 2 days for the pain to creep back in. The flip side of that is that all it takes is 2 days of movement to make me feel better. And that’s good…great, in fact. But there are times when 2 days of movement is beyond me. Hence, my need for physiotherapy.

Besides, do I really want to give up an occasional visit to the cutest guy I know?

Nope.

Got through half my Dutch homework. Still have 4 letters to write. Spoke up in class when yet another ‘you’re having a party, write a letter to your friend’ homework task was handed out. Can’t we please do a letter to someone else, about something else? How about a complaint to the electric company? Something like that would be more useful. So I got an extra 2 letters for my outspokenness. Good. I do well with homework, and usually have the time. May I have some more, please?

Something has clicked in my brain with Dutch. Was aware of it last night as I watched tv. I like Dutch tv; they run plenty of English programs with Dutch subtitles. Right from the start, I read the subtitles (or tried to; they go by fast for a beginner reader). Doing that has helped me figure out the meaning of many words, particularly when watching a cartoon or program for younger audiences. I see words repeated, hear words repeated, and pretty soon it becomes evident that this word means thus and so. But some sentences have always confused me. Too many words, too many ‘je je’ or past tense verbs or other things I just don’t understand. Last night, though, it was like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle were slid into place. Suddenly no sentence seemed too much: here’s the subject, the verb, the modifiers, the helping verbs. Instant recognition, even if I saw a word I hadn’t encountered before.

By jove, I think she’s got it!

…My mood has improved. Obviously. That’s two references to favorite childhood films.

Thank you, me, for going to the gym and working so hard. Thank you, me, for sweating and pushing through the wall. Thank you, me, for being so committed to our health that we get to the gym in the first place. Thank you, me, for listening to our concerns, taking them into account, and being careful with our body.

Most of all, thank you, me, for trying so damned hard.

Limits

Finally a bit of real rest. Didn’t feel like I slept after opening night; it was a light sleep, at best, with several times coming to and thinking about the matinee performance. I wasn’t alone. Everyone was dragging yesterday.

Flubbed. Missed lines, experienced that wonderful brain fart feeling – which, as I said later, really DID feel like my brain fell down somewhere around my ass leaving my head completely empty… Still got laughs, got through it. Still feel okay, though I know it wasn’t my strongest performance.

Had two people come to see me yesterday. Whoohoo!!! Two people! I wasn’t sure anybody was gonna show up. Felt real good to see them after the show, to have someone I sat with and talked with while everyone else chatted with their friends. Talked so much and so long the lounge emptied around us and we didn’t even notice. The director had to come and get me to help everyone strike the set.

Yea! Friggin’ yea! I know in the grand scheme of things two people aren’t a lot, but it’s good to know I’m not a complete social pariah. I can meet and make friends, be social, and have people HAPPY to come and share in what I do. That feels real good.

Got to talking about my writing, because I’m known by my pen name with these…friends? Can I call them friends? I hope so. Anyway, they know me by my pen name. The name I perform under in the play is different, as is my real name…Beginning to think maybe all these pseudonyms aren’t the best idea. Makes me look a little psycho. At the very minimum, it’s telling as to how much I hate being me. But I digress. Talked about scripts and read throughs. Told them about the Night Witches script. One of them knows some Russians from Russia, and said she’d ask them along. DAMN! Could I get a better sampling for a reading? Don’t think so. Very excited by the prospect. Had to warn her that I wrote it for Americans, so heads up to the Russians: don’t expect a lot; more than half of it is educating the audience. Crossing my fingers they appreciate my approach and like the story.

All this is good, because at the moment I feel very cut off online. My spam filter is working better than ever, but the upshot is I’ve had days go by without anything new showing up in my email. Not sure if an empty inbox is better than an inbox filled with spam. At least with a lot of spam, you know the world thinks of you as alive. You feel remembered…even if it’s just by advertisers.

Barely a clean pot, pan, plate, or spoon in the house. Garbage and recycling have piled up, too. The plants are gasping for water. And the dust bunny population has exploded. Will try to get to the big stuff today and tomorrow without hurting myself.

Language class later. Gotta try this morning to switch into Dutch. Maybe do some reading. Right now my head is all English.

Need to get back to the gym, too. Keep moving, keep that back pain free.

*sigh* Taking care of myself is a full time thing.

Friday I head to Leiden for another performance. Good news is, I have a lift. Bad news is, I’ll be going at noon and having another long, LONG, full day. Those are hard on me.

One day at a time. Lots of daytime appointments this week. Gotta buy new false eyelashes (found the limits on wearing falsies; the lashes fall out after a while). Catch up on a bit of rest each day. Do some laundry, chill, and run lines so (I hope) I don’t have any more flubs.

Couldn’t do this full time. Couldn’t do a play six or seven times a week plus live a life. I mean…one weekend gone and the house is a wreck, nothing’s clean, and I’m pooped. Good to know: if I ever DO get an opportunity to do more, it’s got to come with enough money to buy me help. A maid to come in and tidy up the house, a personal assistant to help me keep everything together while I perform. And a bleeding chauffeur to drive me around so I don’t have to sit at the theatre for six to eight hours at a time.

Good to know my limits.

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.

Coming Together

YES!

Received confirmation of our residency status yesterday. Technically, it wasn’t a confirmation; even says so in the second paragraph. That, however, is because the police have the right to yank a residency card last minute as they do background checks. Since I haven’t been in any trouble (such a good girl!), I don’t expect any trouble to come my way. All we need to do now is head downtown for pictures and fingerprints, then wait until we can pick up our cards.

Thank you, Goddess. Thank you so much!

Made what might be the worst cup of coffee in the world this morning (the filter bent, so I’ve a cup full of grounds) but what does it matter? I’m allowed to stay here in the Netherlands to 2019. I’m safe. I can stop worrying, even in the back of my head. Now, rather than looking around and thinking how much I might miss the place, I look around and think ‘I’m home, I’m safe’.

Now we’ve got time to pay down the debt we accrued to hire attorneys and accountants and pay all those fees.

I’m still poor, darlings, but truth is I’d rather be poor here than rich in the states.

Made a lucky choice with an over the counter hair color product. Did my roots yesterday afternoon, and you can see only a tiny shade difference in the brightest of lights. Yippee. No grey hair worries for the next month now. Maybe I’ll even get around to cutting my own hair. Haven’t tried that for years and years; it’s tough on the bursae in my shoulders. But I’m stronger now than I was, so I might just snip, snip. It’s not a big deal. I’ve had what I consider a bad hair cut twice in my life – and both times I still got compliments, so they weren’t that bad (I just didn’t like them). Truth is, it’s hard to fuck up my hair. I’ve got a lot of it, it grows fast, and unless you shave my head down to the bone, I can make it work.

Full dress rehearsal today. We’re doing it in my neck of the woods, so everyone is taking the metro up here. I get to walk since it’s so close to my home. Planning on baking some blueberry muffins to take along. It’s the first time we’ll all be together, and I thought it would be nice to bring something so we can all have a little treat. Plus, I know how good most people find my blueberry muffins. Play to your strengths.

We’ve had two days of glorious autumn weather. Sunny skies, warm air with that touch of cool in the shadows, that musty smell from fallen leaves – my favorite time of year. Been wanting to get up and go, but holding myself back. My foot is still giving me problems, and yesterday my wrist went. Really sucks to hurt yourself ten times over simply doing dishes, but it happened. So it’s nurse myself, don’t do too much, and all that. I guess it’s not a bad thing, really. Helps me remember to be careful this last week before performing.

Wanting more than ever to master this language now that I’ve got the green light from immigration. It’s still a daunting task. My new, higher level lesson begins tomorrow.

I feel like my mind is coming out of a long coma. The first few years here were and still are a mash in my head: a lot of anxiety and pain, and nothing that anchors time for me. Confusion over the language, worry over this or that – you name it, I’ve been there. It’s a floating mass of stuff labeled ‘my first two years’ that I have trouble sorting out. In some ways, I feel like this is my first two years in the Netherlands. It’ll be the first two years I step out with enough grasp of the language to understand most of what’s said to me. I know people now. Maybe I don’t have friends, but when I moved here I didn’t know anyone at all. Now I know people by name, even connected with them on social networks. I also understand how this society works; their time schedules and holidays, their quirks and habits. I’ve got a little foothold, and it feels good.

Can it be that things are finally coming together for me?

 

Crack

Been really jonesing for that endorphin rush I get off of hard exercise. So I hit the gym yesterday with the purpose of letting myself go. Held back on my Tuesday exercise, because I expected an active Wednesday (which didn’t happen due to shitty weather), so I was rested and ready.

The first time I was actually able to use the cross trainer for a full thirty minutes, I struggled (and failed) to reach one kilometer. Yesterday, I blew past my first kilometer at 9 minutes and 9 seconds. My second kilometer flew by at 18 minutes. And yes, I topped three kilometers plus a bit extra by my thirty minute mark.

WHOOHOO!!!!

I actually found it difficult to get off that machine and not punch the air with a whoop (I’d add in dancing a little celebratory jig, but…three kilometers; I was bushed!).

And I’m still tired. My muscles and bones are feeling it. But I’m also elated, and not just because of the endorphins. I’m more than three times as fast as I was. That’s in just a few short months of work, too, because it took several months of work to build up strength just to get ON the cross trainer. And if I’m honest, I’ve a nagging worry on me quite often over my smoking/toking. I know it’s not healthy, and I’m no longer a young woman. But now I can keep my heart rate at 150 bpm or higher for an extended period of time. I’m not gasping for breath, either. I’m grinning like a mad eejit. Oh, my face is red as a beet, and I sweat bullets. The first ten minutes I regret going to the gym and getting on that machine. But then…then, I fall in love with the process. I want to go faster, and faster, and faster (and I actually do pick up speed ). The harder my body works, the better I feel.

Been doing abdominal exercises – the old fashioned kind. They’ve got a dozen machines and benches at the gym for sit-ups and push-backs and all sorts of tummy exercises. Me? I get down on the floor, on my back, lift my legs up, and hold. The dreaded double lift (both legs, with your back pressed down into the floor) and single lifts (one leg and opposite arm up, for lateral muscles). I’ve never been able to fall in love with abdominals. In fact, I hate doing them. That’s why I do them first, after stretching. Get them out of the way.

Speaking of stretching…reached my forehead to my left knee (which is the bad leg, and always tighter than the right) yesterday. Another reason to celebrate.

And free weights…began with the one kilograms, now on the four kilograms. Seeing some real definition come in. Damn! I might conquer those bat wings yet.

My only regret in this is that I’m not strong enough to do it every day.

…Yet.

Language class yesterday in our new hall. It’s smaller and noisier than the last place. Meh. However, my patience with the system paid off. Was told that next week we’re having a field trip to the library, where we’ll be instructed on how to use the facilities. We’ll also have an opportunity to grab a free three month library membership. Now THAT’S worth it! …And honestly, while I’ve been to the library, I’ve no idea how to look something up in their system, so the instructions are welcome too.

Called for my orthopedic shoes and have an appointment today. Not thrilled to wake up to cold temps, wind, and rain. But I need to get the shoes adjusted; they rip up my left foot in three places. So I’ll go out there, and once out there, I’ll probably run a few more errands.

Read an article that Europe should expect a particularly bad flu season this year. I’m thrilled (stated with utter deadpan sarcasm). Asked my bro to get a shot this year because he usually doesn’t, but I really want to take every precaution I can, and that includes keeping him healthy so he doesn’t pass crap on to me.

*sigh* Better buy some more hand soap, too.

Heard from the director, who started to read Taman. He’s made some notes on what he’s read so far, and may I say I’m honored with how nit-picky he’s getting with my work. Shows he takes it seriously. Show he thinks it’s worth his time. Both are nods to me as a writer, and although he’s part of that group that can drive me mad with their insensitive talk, I still am heartened by it. …I guess anybody taking me seriously feels good, which (for the thousandth time) sadly points to how poorly I was treated by my family.

Watched one of those home video programs last night while waiting for another program to come on. Saw parents playing with their kids. And I thought: how strange. I remember my parents pushing me in swings when I was very little, or giving me piggy-back rides. But by the time I was six, that stopped. My mother never played games with me. I remember asking her to play dolls or one of the dozens of board games she bought me (so often left to gather dust because my siblings wouldn’t play with me and I didn’t have many friends), but she always said no.

I was so lonely as a kid.

…And I guess I took all that as an unspoken message: I’m not worth the time. Add in my sister’s bullying and I’ve a real self-confidence issue going that, at 51, I’m still struggling against.

But it’s starting to crack.