Intimidation

Sometimes, when I’m playing one of my computer games, I hit a level where I get intimidated and must stop. I do too well and worry I’ll screw it up. Silly, right? I bought the game to bleeding play, and it’s no competition. Still, there it is: intimidation. Eventually I get over it, and continue.

Been intimidated on stage. Many times. By the crowd, the heat, the lights, my own jitters…. There have been mornings and nights I’ve vomited my fear up, but it didn’t stop me from going on when I needed to.

Today I faced a different intimidation. One deeply layered – almost insidiously so. It’s tied into rape and physical abuse…and I realize even as I’m writing this that I’m only touching the top of it.

The guy in my Friday language class – the one I’ve mentioned before – …well, he showed up today. Class begins at 9:15 and runs to noon. He banged the door open at 11 and sat as near the door as possible. Fifteen minutes later he slammed the door shut on his way out.

A ripple of fear ran around the room. Literally; you could feel it. One of my teachers – the male – tried to pass if off when someone asked what it was all about. Said he thought maybe the guy was just going to the bathroom. Yeah, right.

Btw, the rest of us are women. And it doesn’t take a genius to look at us and realize I am not the only one with abuse and rape in my history.

Couple that with current news. Dare I mention, in this context, terrorism?

I am NOT comfortable with this guy. Purely on the anger issue. Add in whatever happened with the female teacher, and I’m on edge. Douse that with today’s event and I’m unsure I want to go back if he keeps showing up.

I don’t feel safe.

I don’t want to condemn out of hand, either. I’m completely aware that all of this blatant anger in class might be because of something else. Other stressors in his life. What I’d like is an explanation, but considering his tight-lipped reluctance to say anything (leaving his comments purely in the form of angry stares and slamming doors), I doubt I’ll get one. And, you know the saying – better safe than sorry. He’s displaying behavior that’s intimidating all of us, so I’ll err on the side of caution and say get this guy the fuck out!

But – what to do, what to do? Do I lodge a complaint? Nothing has been directed purely towards me. I did not see whatever happened that made the female teacher tell him to keep his hands to himself and stay away from her. I do not want to cause more trouble in a perhaps already deeply troubled life. And, bloody hell, you know they’ll make me say it in Dutch (a small, yet troubling snag in this situation). Yet…what if we’re really in danger? What if something happens? Something more than what we’ve already been subjected to?

And how about our rights? Don’t we have a right to learn in a safe space, without this intimidation?

Why was he even allowed back in the building after what happened with the teacher? …What did happen?

I was worried enough that I shifted in my seat slightly to keep the corner of my eye on him. He was sitting next to L, a really nice woman I’d like to call my friend. I didn’t want anything to happen and have L be too afraid to say something.

If I’m that worried, isn’t it possible there’s something to worry about?

Our school year is almost over. Two more weeks to go. The timing of it all adds to my uncertainty. Maybe he won’t come back in September.

Maybe I should let it go. Doesn’t seem either teacher said anything.

But maybe they’re struggling with it, too. They’re volunteers. I’m sure they don’t want to appear to not be able to handle half a dozen adults.

I’m also sure I’m not imagining the ripple effect around the room today.

Not a one of us wants that anger pointed directly at us.

We’re all intimidated.

Nobody said it would be easy

Friday lesson: better than I thought it would be. My teacher listened to me, for one thing. Not just listened, but he attempted to implement my suggestions immediately. That felt good. Being heard always feels good.

Weird incident, though. Don’t know precisely what happened, ’cause I was reading along in the book. But this other student, this guy (emphasis on that word because he’s a real character) must have touched or groped the female teacher. She almost jumped out of her chair. Bitched him out and told him to move, that he couldn’t sit next to her. He ignored her. Maybe it was an accidental graze. I really don’t know. What I do know is the dude in question is questionable; he’s always angry and makes no bones about it. And he stares a lot. At me. With a look on his face I can’t quite pin down. Hate? Lust? Both? I’ve found it unnerving in the past, and in future I’ll find it more so.

Nursing a big lump of angry disappointment. Heard from Bolton; suddenly they’ve modified their terms and conditions. Now a script can’t be more than 700 words. 700 words! My blog posts are longer than that. Why the fuck didn’t they say that up front? Don’t know if I’ll write something for them now or not. I can shit 700 words out pretty quick. But I’m still kind of angry. So I guess I’ll just wait and see how long my irritation lasts.

On the up side: plenty of places to send to. Writing up a synopsis (UGH) and updating my CV. Think I might have something that’ll work, so I’m in down mode now. Give it 24 hours before I read it again. Otherwise I’ll just go round and round – very much the proverbial dog chasing its own tail.

Stepping up research on the next script. Still do not know the name of my main character. I want to use real names, but I’m taking full artistic license with the names I choose. This is for an American audience, and if there’s one thing I know about American audiences, it’s this: give them too many Russian names and I’ll lose them. So I want to choose names with simple and familiar diminutives. Right now, she’s just ‘the new girl’. She’s already a pilot, and a little cocky about her skills. I’m getting a sense of the other women, too. How they react to this newcomer. And the men. The slurs, the set-ups. Letting my mind wander through these ultra short scenes. I need to pick and choose the best. Hone it down. Make it run on a limited cast. And figure out how – or IF – I can write a scene while the women are in their planes. Can’t expect them to have big sets. So it’s gotta be lighting and sound again. Hm.

Doing my best to keep up with a gym visit every other day. Not easy. When I get in that groove, I want to push every day. When I’m not in that groove, it’s a pain to just put my shoes on and head over there. Trying to do what’s best for my body – day on, day off. Meh. If only my body and my head would mesh better.

Still find myself just snapping at my brother once in a while. Why can’t I apologize to him for that? I should. Instead I ignore it and privately vow to do better. And I do better, for a while. Then I mess up again.

*sigh* I guess nobody said it would be easy.

Right here, right now

The script is out. Finished the A4 formatting, checked the entry page, wrote a short intro letter, and clicked send. No more thinking.

As usual, I was hit with a wave of manic energy afterwards. Bad enough my brother mentioned it was affecting him. I headed to the gym.

Think I might have turned the corner on my weight issue. Think I might have dropped some excess weight without quite knowing it. I mean, I wear sweat pants almost 24/7. It’s hard to judge where your body is when you’ve always got elastic waisted pants on. But I caught a few glimpses of myself that didn’t make me look wider than I am tall. A few sidelong looks where I thought gee, my stomach doesn’t stick out as much as it used to. And, hallelujah, I’ve found my collarbones again. Don’t even have to sink my chest in to see them – I can just stand there as usual and out they pop.

The house is pretty clean, thanks to my bro helping me on Sunday. I felt bad for a fleeting moment; he did the hoovering and ended up in a sweat because…well, it’s hoovering. Means you gotta move all the furniture and get underneath. It sounds like an easy job, but it isn’t. And I reminded myself of all the sweaty hours I spent cleaning this place, and the last one, and the one before that – and suddenly I didn’t feel so bad or guilty for allowing him to take on this tough task. Sometimes I think my bro needs to be reminded that hoovering sucks, that doing the dishes every day can make you lose your mind, and that housework doesn’t just get done all by itself.

No rehearsal Monday. The director bowed out with a sore throat. More than happy about that; I’m over anxious about staying healthy and my number one freak out is being exposed to other people’s illnesses. No rescheduled date yet.

Strangest thing this morning. Two strangest things. One, my hoodie is missing. It’s not in my room nor the living room, and I was just using it yesterday. Two, my coffee cup is missing. Gone. Non-existent. Had to use a secondary cup, not my normal one (didn’t feel right). Can’t for the life of me figure out why someone would come in, grab my hoodie and coffee cup and split. But I’ve been up and down this tiny place and see zero sign of either of them.

Finished reading the book on the Night Witches my director gave me. Need to make some notes. The bibliography lists several sources to check on for factual info. I’m well pleased with the info provided in this book. Gives me a good grounding on the groupings within the military and how they work in such a strict hierarchal system. And I’m beginning to see the play. Found my main character the other day. She’s still developing, but I caught the first glimpse of her. Beginning to know some of what the characters will face in the play. It’s big – and exciting. The setting I’ve chosen to write about allows me to bring in as many famous flyers as I want. It’s a strong skeleton, and I’m pinning my ideas down with factual points – dates, names, deaths.

First, tho, finish the US formatting for the current script. Get it out to as many places as I can find, because I think this one is a doozy. Do my Dutch homework. Keep getting to the gym. Keep following through on my commitments. Keep myself focused and busy in the now, not the past, not the unwritten future.

Right here, right now. This is where you make the change.

I wonder

Thirty minutes on the cross trainer. No more fucking around. The additional ten minutes were easier than the first ten. Thirty minutes on the bikes – giving my feet a rest from the treadmill. Thirty minutes lifting weights and getting eyed up by all the men pushing their bulging biceps just a little bit further.

I sweat a lot at the gym. Not because I’m that fat, or because I abuse alcohol, but because I drink copious amounts of water each and every day. Doesn’t take much exertion to get sweat going with me – and I consider that a good thing; sweating is a natural cleansing process. Sweat pours off my face, soaks my shirt. I drip.

And people look at me. Never know exactly why. Do they think I look ridiculous, working so much while in this old body? Do they worry I might keel over from too much exertion?

…Why does anybody look at anybody in the gym? Is it a diss thing? Does it allow shallow people to judge and find you (or me) lacking so that they feel better about their own pathetic existence?

I’m not so stupid as to forget the basics: the gym is the new meat locker. No, I didn’t spell that wrong. I said meat locker and I meant meat locker. It’s the place to go and scope the sex you’re attracted to. See it all – the muscles and the flab. Make your choice whether to fuck or not fuck based on the daylight, stripped down version rather than the nighttime dolled up version at a club.

So I gotta ask – why look at me? Don’t you know how old I am?

Honest answer: no. No, they don’t know how old I am. And thanks to a certain disgusting American “comedy” show that birthed anagrams like MILTF, they don’t even care that I’m older. Because even an older bitch is still worth a ride. Not a relationship, mind you, – but a ride. Once in a while.

Ignore. Got a pair of psychic blinders I put on that helps me studiously ignore all such nonsense – and usually the soundtrack is something heavy duty, too, like Lacuna Coil or Queensryche.

Have found a temporary balm for my troubled soul in the form of a tv show. Yeah, I know. Keeps me on my ass, sitting around, and all too easy to smoke. Tough. It’s soothing my angry spirit, calming my worried mind – so it’s worth it right now.

All the wind is knocked out of my sails right now with the script. Still got formatting to do, and my head screams with boredom so loudly when I think of it I swear it’s audible in the room. Hope I’ll find my enthusiasm again soon, and everything will get done in that lickety-split manner that happens when you’re all ready for the long haul. If not…well, I still got two weeks to complete it and get it out before the deadline. Even if I’m screaming out loud by then, I can get it done.

Sleep is my friend again. Seems someone out there listened to my fevered prayer. The Sandman doesn’t just sprinkle my eyes at night, he whaps me over the head with his full sandbag and I’m down for 10 hours minimum.

Tomorrow night is another play rehearsal. Have not even opened the script. On some level, I feel it’s not necessary. We’re still blocking the piece out. Trying different pauses and inflections. Why memorize my role one way, then have the director tell me to do it differently? Better to get his take on the whole thing, then rehearse it with his notes.

Dutch is a little better. My head took my language frustration seriously, and I can tell I’m really trying to zero in on the words again. Not back to reading the novel; when I’ve the energy to read, I’m researching for my next script. But I am trying to do a page of exercises in my books before classes. …Oh, yeah. And I skipped on Friday. Can’t help but think skipping the most stressful lesson of the week helped me to refocus. My teacher really ramps me up, and that doesn’t help me learn.

My brother has promised to help me today with housework. I bitched yesterday morning about it. Loudly and clearly. Didn’t blame, just whined that the continual grind of it makes me forget what day it is. Doing the same chores every single day in the same manner at the same time with no variation can really fuck you up that way. And I’m always too bushed from doing the basics to do any of the bigger stuff. So I hope with help today to get the hoovering AND the dusting done, all in one go. Clean the mirrors, scrub out the sinks. If we can do enough that I don’t feel I’ve got to clean something every damned day, I’ll feel better.

At least for a week.

Very much feels like I’m trying to get ahead of my darkness. If I can stay a half step ahead of it, if I eat right and get enough sleep and exercise regularly, maybe, maybe I won’t go down again. I know that’s a lie. I’ll go down again. I always go down again.

And I’ll be honest here. As a writer, or a wanna-be writer growing up, I wanted to go down. I wanted to know rock bottom. How could anyone effectively write about something they know nothing about? It seemed to me that all the great writers went down, found that pit of base humanity from which to write – and thus, all the great stories were born. So I said to myself, yes, I want that. I need to know what it is.

Did I drive myself mad? Did I embrace insanity at some point to know? I wonder.

Back to it

Writers from the UK only. Irish and UK residents only. We focus on Texas writers. We want midwestern writers only. Canadian writers will be given top consideration. We will not read international scripts. No submissions accepted from outside the lines we’ve drawn in the sand.

Fucking hell. Fifteen minutes of an internet search and the rug’s been pulled out from under my feet. Every time I check for new theatres to submit to, there are more bullshit caveats like the above. Restrictions. The ‘if you don’t live here you can fuck off’ attitude. Isolationism is the new fad du jour.

Yeah, go stick your heads in the sand.

Theatres have, as a matter of fact, closed down so much with their submission policies I’m really starting to think about screen plays because – at least for NOW – those are open to all writers no matter where you currently live. Kind of feels like a trap, tho. Spend loads of time mastering a new format to find everyone has closed down their submissions again. I mean, that’s what happened with the fucking theatre scripts.

Bastards.

Sometimes I hate the world so much.

Well, I’ve still got a couple places I can send out to. After this year, tho…*sigh* I might be working in a vacuum again.

Yesterday’s social outing went well. Easy conversation, pretty comfortable. Mentioned some of the summer fests coming up and hope we can get together to wander the streets of Rotterdam enjoying the music and art on offer. It’s good to have someone other than my brother to talk with. And…my ego got stroked a bit. They were at my script read through, and I felt like I had a gold star hanging above my head the whole time. There was no question as to whether or not I was a good writer – only whether or not my scripts have been chosen for production. That’s new. Usually when I mention my writing (or music, or anything else artistic), people demand (demand!) to know what I’ve done – and then they sit there saying ‘uh-uh’ or ‘don’t know it’ or ‘never heard of it’ like that was their intention in the first place – to put me in my place. But I didn’t get any of that yesterday. Instead, I had some polite enquiries on the status of my radio script. Super enthused grins when I talked about my current script. Quick ‘yes’ replies when I asked if they were interested in helping me with the Night Witches. And I thought ‘Damn! These people really respect me as a writer!

It felt good.

Today: physical activity is needed. Like, direly. Gotta get to the gym for a full bash (hopefully not my ankle again). Want to put time in on the script and start to get it in the new system. Have two old films I recorded off BBC to watch. Should also do at least one run through of the play and my lines. And I should get serious about Dutch, and do a bit every day…again. Fell off that last resolution pretty quick, but the key to accomplishing your goals isn’t doing it all in one go, it’s getting up every time to you fail and starting again.

*sigh* Get up. Back to it.

Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough

Rehearsal last night. I planned to be home around 10:30, the usual time I make it home after a theatre meeting.

Baby, I was so good I got home at 8:30.

First to note: there was absolute zero flirting or anything that even my paranoid brain could make into something. I am so happy about that. I was me, the director was himself, and we had work to do.

Other: My character analysis was snatched out of my hands and read through. Things got circled, underlined, notes jotted to the side. The director hmph’d and chuckled. Then, ‘Yes, exactly how I saw her. …Do you mind if I keep this?‘ Hopefully he didn’t keep it to show it to other actors while saying ‘Now this is how you write a character analysis!’

I was told the first thing usually done in these rehearsals was an ‘Italian read through’, which (I was told), was going thru the dialogue without acting, just flat voiced and as fast as possible. The director said an ‘Italian read through’ helped him know where and when he wanted pauses. …We skipped that. Straight into a regular read through, then up on our feet for two walk-throughs. A few notes – ‘she should be more hopeful when she says this’…’give that line a little more frustration’. Then ‘that works’ and ‘perfect’.

Perfect.

Forgot how much I like hearing that word when it’s connected to my work.

I was assured my fellow actor (on holiday until July) was more than competent on learning his lines. Obviously, he and the director have worked together before. Good to know. I still want a bit of extra rehearsal when he comes back, to catch the other actor’s timing – and the director agreed with me to the point he made me wonder if he’ll break into his summer holiday to conduct a few rehearsals in August.

Garnished a couple of laughs with my physical portrayal. A few well timed gestures and movements. The director seemed a bit surprised that my acting began before the scene starts. But dahlings, I’m a film star! Worked with KB out of New York, a big fan of Jim Jarmusch. We had no script. Improvisation, all. And you never knew when the camera was directed towards you – so you acted all the time. Got me used to it.

Ah, I feel good. That I did a good job and didn’t blow it good. Even slept better than I have in days.

Language lesson today. Still don’t have the hang of European school years. More breaks during the year, but you go longer over summer. Just can’t wrap my head around the idea of sitting inside learning when outside is so SUMMER.

…Geez, between the acting and the bee-yitch over school, I feel like I’m about 14 years old.

Oh, baby! Don’t stop! Not ’til you get enough… 😉

Root myself, and fly

The problem with words is their vagueness. If I say ‘blue’, what color comes to mind? Light, egg shell blue or deep, dark navy? Both are blue. Neither are the color I had in mind. Words take on significance through experience – unfortunately, every person’s experiences are different, which results in different shades of meaning for each and every word anyone has ever thought up.

Take ‘morning’. Here, in the Netherlands, the time between midnight and six a.m. is called ‘night’, not ‘morning’; in the states, I’d say ‘I woke up at 5 in the morning’ but here it’s ‘I woke up in the night, at 5’. Gotta disagree with the Dutch on this one. Five is in the morning, not the night. The sun is coming up. The birds are singing. And if you’re someone who’s never made it up at 5, never seen the sunrise or smelled that fresh-day-coming scent that pours through your window, you’ve no idea what I’m talking about.

This is morning. Why aren’t more people up and about?

Well, well. One night of rehearsal and my sleep schedule is more than two hours out of whack. Fell asleep watching tv last night, then went to bed where I promptly woke up to toss and turn for an hour before drifting off again. Yesterday morning I was praying for quiet, so I could lie in and continue to rest. Today’s quiet was too loud; made me get up, smell the air, and that was it. Once I smell that scent from outside I can’t get back to sleep. It’s too full of possibility. Later in the day a new scent will arise – one of baked earth and concrete, hot metal and asphalt, cut grass and searing flesh on a barbeque. And the day will be set in olfactory stone – it’s hot, hot, hot! But now…now, everything is open. Anything can happen.

I love it.

Saw the new Ridley Scott film, Alien Covenant. Need to see it again before giving voice to any comment. The Alien franchise is next to holy-holy for me (and Cameron is, therefore, the devil) and Scott is a walking demi-god as far as directors go. Goddess, how I’d love Scott to do a film script I wrote! …There were proper bits of horror that had me squishing myself into my seat in uncomfortable positions no 50+ woman should ever try to get into to. *big grin* Can’t wait to own Covenant, and do the whole run – Prometheus through the Alien Quad mixed with the Predator Saga (all viewed in chronological movie time order). Only way to do it.

Today: burn myself out at the gym. A proper, no holds barred work-out. I want to come back dripping wet, exhausted, and in need of food. After that, I’ll think about writing. Or I’ll take a nap. I refuse to make that decision now.

Free floating bits of anxiety keep nipping at me. Just out of nowhere. Vigilance! Just because I defeat depression one day doesn’t mean I can ease up on my routine. Now is the time to attack without raising a hand.

Root myself, and fly.