Opportunity 3: Just say ‘nee’


Oh, my. After 24 hours, a rather frank discussion with my very cute physiotherapist, and a deep search in my head for a box marked ‘my age’, I found no real answer. In fact, in that boxed marked ‘my age’ there’s just a slip of paper with two words on it: I am. A statement of being rather than a reflection of my march through time. I thought on my youth, and spending an inordinate amount of time in the company of older people. Why should the reverse now bother me so much? The answer is it shouldn’t, so I’m setting aside my heebie-jeebies over the entire issue and hope it doesn’t raise its head again before my 70th birthday.

Onto bigger and badder things.

I have had four new ‘language cafés’, as they call them here, pointed out to me. A language café is just a time and place for people to get together and talk in whatever language they’re trying to learn. One morning, one afternoon, and two evenings have been, shall we say, rather strongly suggested to me. On top of classes, reading, the television, the papers, the adverts, the EVERYTHING. So I HAD to pick that picture on top of the page, because yes, that’s how my brain feels: washed out, fried, a little dirty around the edges, and cooked for too long.

Dear Goddess!

…And I don’t know if my reaction is normal or not. Seems to be an awful lot of people who CAN do it all 24/7 and not lose it. I don’t count myself among them. And I’m a little afraid to point that fact out to these people who push me so much! Met a woman last night who speaks 10 languages fluently. 10! And she knows someone who speaks 35.

I’m feeling overwhelmed.

There’s still so many words I don’t know yet. Today was my one on one lesson, which really WAS one on one because the other student was sick, and my teacher and I talked for two hours. There were rather large gaps of time when she was talking and talking and I could barely understand the general gist of the conversation. Other times, I understood quite well.

It’s a matter of vocabulary. Mine is still quite small. And I’ve found the best way for me to learn new words is from the computer. My online lessons show the written word. They have a person clearly say the word. There’s a button right there I can hit over and over again to listen and try to imitate it perfectly. Then they move onto short sentences that include the words you just learned. THAT’S how I’m picking up more words. You can mouth syllables at me FOREVER and I just won’t get it. It’s that hardcore repetition that’s giving me the words I need to make the move from a child-like speech pattern to a more grown up one.

And if I’m forced (or strongly encouraged) to spend so much time talking or reading or listening, well, frankly, I get bloody tired. I don’t want to do the damned computer lessons after a certain point. I’m fried.

More will just confuse me.

*sigh* But I guess I gotta take into consideration what these people might see in me. Whether or not they’d be shocked by my real age, they don’t see a dummy. They don’t hear someone who can’t speak the language. Just the opposite; plenty of people tell me I speak very clearly. Great. Those are the vocabulary words I KNOW. I’ve seen them. Said them. Heard them. Repeated them and repeated them. I need new words. New adages and sayings. But not so fast I get confused. That’s why the computer is so great. I never annoy it when I ask it to repeat what it’s saying twenty times.

On the other hand (because there’s always an ‘other hand’), I found today that my limited vocabulary got me through quite a bit. We talked about the news I’d watched, the stories I’d seen. Or that’s where we began. One of the news articles I saw is about a proposed change to the assisted suicide law. That brought up a lot. Ulla. My mother, then my father. Her mother. Death in general. Figures; even in DUTCH I try to talk about death! Then we moved onto other topics: the theatre group I found, University, her kids, careers and jobs in general. A rather wide range of topics to try to tackle after only one year of language lessons.

But then I never DO set the bar low. That can be very problematic. Perfectionism and the bald reality of never being able to live up to that ideal. Yet if you don’t try, if you don’t aim high, you’ll never hit that mark. So I try. And when I fail, as I inevitably do, I tell myself that I gave it my all, I could ask no more of myself, and I’ve done well. You did good, kid. Of course I always second guess myself. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. Live too long in that neck of the woods and you’ll end up in Regretsville permanently. I should know; I’ve spent years there and I’m sure the ghosts in my head keep an empty apartment on the second floor for me.

There’s a fine line here I can safely walk. Heel to toe, all the way. I will not try them all out in the same week. I will not even consider that. Not with my regular classes, the theatre group meetings, and trying to wedge some exercise in there too. Too many times I’ve spread myself too thin. Too many times I’ve lost my balance and dropped all the balls.

I am completely unwilling to do that again.

Thank you, but I’m busy. Thank you, but I can’t. No, no, no. They say ‘no’ is one of those early words for babies. Why do I have such a hard time saying it? Maybe it’ll be easier in Dutch.

Nee, nee, nee.


I am more


The dog days of August have hit. It’s the kind of heat you swim through. Walking becomes a strange activity, full of pulling at your shorts as they ride up your thighs or fluffing out your shirt to try and force cooler air down against your wet skin. Even children have slowed down in their play, the heat dragging at their limbs and making them move like old people long before their time.

My day begins before the sun is up, when a touch of coolness still lives in the air. Before the city wakes up I am out the door for a walk. A few other early morning walkers join me on the paths in the parks, but I quickly lose them as I head off the beaten track and into the woods. My feet grow damp as I stalk through the grassy lane. It’s easy to forget how wet the morning dew can make things. As a child, I always knew this. As an adult, that simple fact of nature slips my mind. I laugh at myself as I slide in my sandals, picking up gravel and mud and generally making a mess of myself. It is a childlike activity, walking without care like this. Getting wet and reveling in it. Getting dirty and enjoying it. In this, I am very different from the Dutch. Even the children prefer mown lawns to wild growth, but I – I am different. That differences takes me on paths little travelled, to see marvels just sitting there waiting to be noticed yet overlooked by so many: a tiny wooden bridge over a canal with weeping willows hanging in the languid water, the perfection of filtered sunlight under the canopies of a hundred trees, a pair of miniature ponies munching lazily on the grass.

And I know, deep inside, how lucky I am to be here right now.

The apartment remains as cool as possible on a day like today. I live on the fourth floor (fifth, if you’re from the US). Down on the ground things bake, but up here breezes continue to flow through the massive east-west windows in the living room. Even with this advantage, it’s a shorts kind of day and any exertion will result in sweat. Despite this, I’m determined to get on the floor and do my sit-ups. I remind myself I have all day to do the 40 lifts I’ve set as my routine. That thought keeps me going through that half way point, when the elation of being able to do the work is overtaken by the work itself. Push my back down, exhale, lift my legs, breathe in while I count to ten. The tension I feel running across my stomach is wonderful and horrible, and even as I pray to be able to hold it to a full count of ten I know I will, and I will do more. My stretches are another deeply wonderful and horrible pull, as I splay my legs and take my head down towards the ground. I have lost much of my flexibility, but as soon as the thought crosses my mind it exits; I am too into the stretch to think of anything else. Stand, for arm movement. Over the head, out to the front, side to side. My shoulders ache and an odd feeling of numbness steals over my arms as I move them; this particular exercise is difficult for me. Roll the shoulders, then the neck. Deep breath and reach, reach, then collapse down. My hands touch the floor and I hear my back pop-pop-pop as the vertebrae move.

Now, I think, to work. 🙂

Three replies to three messages I sent out in Dutch appear in my mailbox. Once again I receive a shot of sheer elation over simply being understood. I have volunteered to help at a local festival coming up the first weekend of September, and they are happy to have my help. I will meet people who live in the neighborhood. Maybe I will find a friend. The thought makes me feel warm in a way the temperature outside my apartment never could. I have the answer I sought about my language lessons: they begin at 9:30, half an hour earlier than my previous lessons began. Where trepidation once lived, eagerness now resides: I can’t wait to start. Perhaps most poignant of all, my hesitant message to my previous teacher has elicited a warm response. The fantasy of learning to speak, write, and read well enough to join his discussion group remains fixed in my head despite me telling myself it probably won’t happen for a dozen reasons. In the meantime, I am happy to have an occasional online correspondence with him.

Even in the midst of this focused and happy time, I’m aware of things that could cause me future anxiety. My brother talks of taxes and forms, immigration and rules all the time. Our reapplication with IND is coming due, and as usual we’re both concerned – probably too concerned – over the entire process. To know one’s future is entirely in the hands of other people is very unnerving. I dislike the process immensely. At least this time I’ll have more language. Never before have I encountered a place where trying is so important. Using the few words I have to get through a conversation in Dutch scores high in the eyes of the locals.

So keep at it. Computer language lessons, then read a bit. Focus on learning the language and rehabilitating my body. I’m two years behind, in my opinion. Should have hit the floor running with this when we moved here. But I was reminded this morning of how bad I was two years ago: off meds, the RA taking over, the depression from abruptly stopping my anti-depressants. And kicking myself over ‘losing time’ isn’t going to help me. I did what I could at the time, which is what I always do. Right now my ‘could’ is a lot more than it was.

Somehow, I am more.



Less than a week before J comes to visit and the gauntlets are off. No dust is safe in my house. It will get tracked down, hunted, sucked up, swept, picked up, and tossed away. Be gone ye devils of old skin flakes! I swear between those and all the hair I’ve lost that gets tangled in the hoover this place probably needs an exor-cleaning: In the name of Jesus I command you to be clean. Be gone, Satanic dust bunnies that run ahead of the hoover with a mind of their own. Be gone, foul masses of hair that seem plucked from Beelzebub’s head himself – be gone! Wind yourself no more among the moving parts of my hoover. Weave yourself no more among the fibers of every chair. In the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the holy ghost, I command you to LEAVE this house.

Maybe I did it wrong. 😉

Been busy every day. Errands out in the world (which I’m handling better and better), chores here (goddess! the place is looking good!), even a PHONE CALL (which scared the living shit out of me and I had to rehearse for 10 minutes prior) to order Indian take-away. Yesterday I swam, then popped up around 11 a.m. to begin cleaning off the bakers’ racks I have in the kitchen corner. They’re great; big, heavy wooden things that can handle a lot of weight and still look good. They’re also difficult to clean. Everything must come off before you can clean the shelving and then of course everything must be cleaned off before going back on. One down, one to go.

I checked in with the girl, to make sure everything was okay before J comes for his visit. The session was pretty topsy-turvy; she ended up telling me to calm down, relax, take it easy. In re-reading what I wrote, the girl is calm. It’s me who’s over the edge. I put ‘my’ parts ALL IN CAPS. And I can tell from the fast, disjointed talk that I was manic when I wrote.

I am neither surprised nor over it.

Springtime. Never as high flying as autumn, but there. It’s the change in season that does it, I think. Nature’s flux sends me into orbit.

Sleep is odd. I’m sleeping ‘enough’, I guess. I make eight hours. I feel like the walking dead when I get up, though. Like I could keep sleeping another eight hours if only my head would let me. Can’t, so I get up. Then I have a three hour or so wind up in the morning – usually fueled with some coffee – and off I go, a modified version of the Energizer Bunny (I don’t DO pink). There’s no ten hours without sitting down anymore. Been making sure to take a break every couple of hours. Sit down for 20 minutes. I try for half an hour but can’t do it. So 20 minutes down, then I’m back up doing something or pacing around looking for something to do.

It’s productive.

My baby tomato plants are toddlers now, all in their own private little growing pots. All six are standing upright, strong, healthy. Every day I can see new growth. Very cool.

Half the shelving in my room is dust free. I’ve been intimidated by the job. It’s all step ladder and slow movement, getting stuff off the shelves to clean and then carefully repositioning everything. Going faster than I imagined, thanks to my current fast burn. Very easy to fall into that laser focus: the task is everything and everything is the task. Doesn’t matter what the task is. Right now it’s dusting the shelves. Get into that groove and suddenly half the day is gone and you’re further in your work than you anticipated at breakfast.

Honesty check in: still smoking too much. Haven’t cared. I know I’ll have to go through some withdrawal again. Just cutting back will be tough at first. Again: don’t care. I care about the now, and I’m choosing to smoke right up until I’m supposed to quit. I guess it’s just easier. And hells bells! I haven’t been belly aching about this problem or that lately. A few weeks of reprise from my usual internal hell is very welcome. Don’t mess with what’s working.

Been trying to slip more language work in. I’ve found the time to do it, it’s just…with this current hyperness I’m having a REAL hard time grasping and remembering stuff. I can regurgitate it for you. Doesn’t mean I’ll understand when you use the words in a sentence. Trying to move forward by telling myself I don’t need to remember all of it. Been reassuring myself that if I can learn one word, one small phrase each week outside of class I’m doing well. It’s not easy. Now’s when I read English so fast I practically speed read. Dutch…I miss too much. I don’t know the words. I can’t say them that fast in my head as I read. I’ve got through the second chapter of my teacher’s book, but my comprehension has gone way down. Strictly large picture stuff now; I’m getting zero nuance. And frankly I’m getting confused (in de war) over the various names I’m reading. Names of dogs, names of breeders, names of breeding associations, names of scientists, names of journalists, names of publicists. Oi! And NONE of it is John Doe. It’s all Leeder van de Dyrk or something like that. Long names. Names I’m unfamiliar with. Tough to keep straight.

Getting my hair done today. Yippee! It’s just long enough and the weather is just warm enough that it’s been bugging me. Hope to get some of the heaviness cut out. But sitting there for an hour and a half today is gonna be tough. Last thing I want to do is sit on my ass. Even if it DOES mean a head massage while they shampoo my hair.

Well. I guess I’ll use the time to recharge. Sit in zone mode. Get it right and it’s a self-hypnotic thing. I can feel refreshed and more alert. It can look weird; just saw the film Dark Skies and my bro said I look similar. Kind of just stand or sit there with a vacant look on my face (though he’s pretty sure in my case it’s not due to aliens).


Just recharging.

That Includes Me


Been trying to sneak a new word or phrase each week into language class. Try it out first with my teacher. Yesterday I managed ‘in de war’ which is the Dutch way of saying confused. Ik ben in de war. Also stretched my memory to come up with herinnering (literally ‘memory’) which is a word I’ve seen often but not tried to pronounce before. I do really well with pronunciation. Exceedingly well. Over my head I don’t even know what I’m READING type of pronunciation.

Fuck. Why am I bringing this up? Because I ran into a word yesterday I didn’t understand. I pronounced it flawlessly and just ran past it as I usually do with a new word, waiting for understanding to dawn on me rather than looking it up. Got tripped up by my teacher, who’s playing a new game. He stops us and asks for the antonym to various words we’re using. It’s an excellent learning tool. Anyway, it was one of THOSE moments. Everyone looking at me with that ‘you didn’t KNOW that?!?’ look on their faces. I owned it; the word was ‘krijgen’ (to get or receive) and I was mixing it up with ‘kijken’ (to look). Gimme a break. The two words look similar and sound similar. I confessed to my confusion and everyone laughed.

And I can’t get their faces out of my head.

My reaction goes way beyond embarrassment. There’s real shame in me for not knowing the answer. For being SO far off base. For being the ONLY person in class who didn’t catch on.

I can handle making mistakes. Mistakes are small things that can be corrected. What I have problems with is flubbing. I flubbed to a major degree. Flubs can’t be fixed. They’re the type of things that get caught on camera and show up on Ridiculousness. They’re the type of things that (goddess forbid!) define you if you’re unlucky enough to have them happen as a teenager (there goes The Flasher…yeah, split their pants right up the middle and didn’t have any underwear on…everybody saw).

Ugh. I’m sure no one else has been ruminating on my mistake. Just me. Just me and my own shame.

Knowing that doesn’t help.

The more I try to pin down the why of it, the more I think it’s a very, very early thing. There is no specific memory that pops to mind. Just the repeated HEAVINESS (and oh! how heavy that burden was!) to be brilliant. Always. With everything. Mom made a point of never telling me what my IQ was when I was young. What she DID do was repeatedly tell me I had too many brains to be stupid. ‘Stupid’ to me included flubbing (which was often scoffed at as temporary ‘stupid’ behavior). And it didn’t matter what the subject matter was; my brains meant I should be able to grasp it and grasp it fast. Getting things wrong didn’t mean getting hit or punished. It meant mom’s mouth clamped down into that thin, white line. That instilled enough terror in me. I still get the willies thinking about that look.

And I was told I was a disappointment. Not with words. Oh, no! Never say it with words. Say it with tone of voice. Say it with body language. Communicate two things at once because that’s what people do, and of the two methods of communication humans will take the non-verbal message over the verbal every time.


So I’m tight in my body because part of me is having a damned hard time letting this go. I’ve stopped myself from a knee jerk reaction of diving off the deep end, intensifying my studies so I never make a flub like that again.

It ain’t easy.

Got to run a couple of errands today in between rain drops. That should afford me enough opportunities to make an ass of myself that I’ll probably stop thinking about yesterday’s mistake and start thinking about all the ones I’m currently making. Joy.

Bright side, bright side, bright side. I guess I’ll never mix up ‘krijgen’ and ‘kijken’ again. That’s something.

And DAMN IT! I’m NOT a machine. I never wanted the mantel of perfection. It was fucking thrust upon me by a narcissistic mother, complete with a dirty hem of SHAME for when I’m not perfect. Fuck her and her ‘gift’. Fuck her and her ‘nurturing’.

Time to let that go. Let HER go.

I am me. Here, now. I begin today. No one knows me. I can be anyone I want. I don’t have to carry shame over flubs and mistakes. I don’t need to see myself as less than other people.

I can be worthy. Of ME. True to myself. Honest in word, thought, and deed. No subterfuge.

And I can tell myself it’s okay. Even flubbing is okay as long as you learn from it. There’s no lesson of shame in this. Those faces I see in my head – that’s a distortion. The surprise is exaggerated. The laughter is not unkind. In fact, I handled the situation well. Diffused it with a little comedy. It’s only my battered brain that refuses to let it go. It wants to build it into something different, to make it another reason to feel guilty. I’m onto your tricks, you devious bastard…

As for the two people who wanted to start up lengthy conversations with me yesterday..Yes, it was above my head. I was back to catching about 40% of what they said. That does not negate my little victory when I understood the woman asking for directions. It just says there’s a lot more to learn. And no doubt. I feel like I’m a sponge, just trying to absorb words here and there. There’s thousands of words to learn AND I’ve got to learn how to make sentences. Throw in the fiddly sayings of any language and you’ve got a hell of a lot to catch on to.

Considering I began with my current instructor in November, meaning I’ve had a scant 5 months of lessons, I think I’ve come a long way. At this rate yes, I’ll be speaking pretty fluently after a year. And reading even better.

Everyone takes time to learn. Everyone. That includes me.


Hell Yeah!


Wow. What a day I had yesterday!

It began in the rain, with half hearted promises that yes, I would get outside the house on that very afternoon. My brother, on one of his many runs thru the city, happened across a shop that had pre-cut fully finished shelving boards on sale. The plan was to go, look, and buy a few for my room. I didn’t relish the idea of going out in the rain, but realized a good sale wasn’t going to last long in this town. Buy it or lose it.

By the time the metro delivered us near the shop, the rain stopped. The air had that just washed smell in it. Want to look around a bit? Yes, I found I did. We went to the Markthall, a relatively new building (it was finished a few months after we settled here). It’s shaped like a big horseshoe:


And yes, it’s actually that cool. The ground floor is one huge permanent market, with food stalls and restaurants galore. Going in that building is akin to saying bye bye to any diet you thought you were on! The scents of food and spices and good things to eat were EVERYWHERE, and within 15 seconds my mouth was watering over half a dozen amazing looking dishes on display. Lunch was a no brainer by that time (if any of you come to visit, I’ll take you there and see how long YOU can resist eating something!). And my walk up and down the aisles told me exactly where I wanted lunch – the Greek place. They had a monster gyro on display that I just couldn’t pass by. In we went. Then it happened.

I opened my mouth to give my order to the waitress and Dutch poured out. No English. Only Dutch. And I understood what she said to me. From there on out, it was a Dutch day. Even my brother joined in. I spoke English only to my brother, and only when my ideas got too big for my grasp on the language. As soon as I could, though, it was back to Dutch. And it lasted all. day. Right up to bedtime.

To be able to communicate!!! Oh, goddess! What a feeling! Okay; I know I still get some things wrong. Mix up word placement. Struggle with meanings. But to know I can now open my mouth and SPEAK -! I can ask for help, I can reply to simple things, I can get thru a basic conversation without reverting to English.

I feel free.

We got the shelves and continued on our merry way back home.

My feet felt GREAT. My brother had to ask me twice to slow down because I can now walk faster than he can.

The night was topped off by watching Maze Runner on DVD. Great film!

Yeah, I’m using a lot of exclamation points. That’s how jazzed I feel this morning. 😀

Today the sky is rosy and the weather forecast is for a balmy 16 degrees. Big plans to go to Kralingse Bos, a huge park I haven’t seen yet because my feet haven’t been up to it.


I’ll be taking my camera.

Man, I just said I wanted to have fun this summer! No sooner do those words cross my consciousness than fun presents itself. In oodles. Not sure why but thank you, thank you, and thank you again.

And I did that internet search for theatre groups in my area. Found one. It’s close by Kralingse Bos, as a matter of fact. According to their website, they’re in rehearsals right now. I want to check out their performance and see what they’re all about. The only thing is, everything they do is in Dutch. There are some English speaking theatre groups, but all are quite a trek to get to. Besides, now that the language is unlocking for me I WANT to use more Dutch. That means I’ll be on the side line for longer than I may want to be. BUT ..that will allow me time to get to know the troupe, how they operate, etc. I can help with background work and still have fun. And all the time I’ll listen, and repeat, and learn.

I want to find a way to do this. Really do this. Make the time commitment and stick to it. That means my body has to cooperate (you listening, body?) and my mind needs to ease off (don’t worry; I’ll still give you time). I can’t have stragglers in my head, the nay sayers who nag at me and wear me down. If we do this, we ALL commit to it. Can I get a hell yeah?


Can we make a few conditions?

Um, sure. What are they?

We’re worried about our health. We can’t run ourself down while we do this. The time commitment needs to be flexible.

I understand your concerns. You do know, though, that they’ll have to have some sort of schedule to stick to.

Yeah. Can we find out about that before making this commitment? If it’s every night…You know how tired you are in the evenings. You know how easy we fall ill. And you know that the more excited you get, the easier it is to fall ill. Can we do this slow? Please?

Okay. I haven’t even emailed them yet. Is it okay to do that?

Can we mark the calendar and go see their performance first?

You sure you’re willing to commit to going to that performance? You won’t back out on me, will you? Come up with some excuse last minute?

I’ll try not to. Can you promise to remain calm all the way up to that performance date?


Then you see how difficult it is for us to promise to go on the night, yes?

Yeah. I get it.

Okay. I’ll check that performance date. I think it’s in June, if memory serves. I’ll mark it down on my calendar. I’ll even set an alarm for earlier in the week to remind me it’s coming up.

No pressure. We only do this if it’s fun. Okay?


Ramble On

The rage dump yesterday was exactly what I needed. I didn’t carry that out into the world; it got left behind on my computer screen while I spent the morning smiling and laughing in my language class. My teacher is a very kind man who believes putting pressure on people who are trying to learn a new language is counterproductive. We read, we talk, he corrects us and explains things we don’t understand. I feel confident enough in the language to make mistakes (it’s okay; it really is!) and even pulled a joke yesterday.

And my head is making the switch. For the first time every yesterday, my brain used a Dutch word rather than an English one. It was only ‘van’ (meaning ‘from’), but I slipped it in so fast and flawless that I startled myself. Some things have only become Dutch; for instance, in the house my brother’s condition is always stated in Dutch (Ah-Day-Hah-Day) rather than ugly English – which we both tried to do, and you know what? The English was hard to say as quick as the Dutch. There are even words in Dutch that I know and use correctly, yet translating them into English takes me a moment because it’s just a word that I know, not something I run thru my translation filters in my head.

Ik ben blij (I am happy). There’s still tons of words I don’t know yet, but I’m learning every day. I understand more that’s said to me, I can reply with more Dutch words, and I’m not feeling like such an idiot with the language. Yea!

Of course I thought how nice it would be if my language instructor could somehow become my therapist. I like him, I know he’s a kind person with a real heart (saw him tear up when he talked about his favorite dog that passed away), and I feel safe talking to him. Then I think about what happened with my huisarts and how I don’t feel comfortable right now even with her. No. Better to leave my teacher as my teacher. I don’t want to lose another person I feel is a good support in my life.

Still not sure what to do about my huisarts, btw.

My sore throat is better (even there! I first typed ‘beter’, the Dutch word – the computer corrected me). I correctly diagnosed it as oral thrush. Think I might have missed a calling in medicine; I’ve got an uncanny knack at diagnosis. No, I didn’t see my huisarts. Didn’t need to, just like when I knew I fractured a bone in my foot. PUH-LEEZE! Nothing worse than having to sit and wait somewhere for hours only to have someone come in and tell you exactly what you already know. Especially when the course of treatment is just ‘rest’. I’ll get more rest just not going in for the diagnosis, then, thanks. You have no idea how much that pisses off doctors, especially when there’s a fractured bone involved. You should have come in! We need that on record! *rolls eyes* They get to see me once in every three incidents. I’ve got SOME semblance of a life, you  know.

Or I WANT to have…

With spring here and summer on the way, I find myself not wanting to begin too many new things. Heat always does a number on my joints, and I’m not stupid enough to think this summer will be any different. I hope it will be better; I hope an increase in my meds and my new shoes will do a LOT for me and help me get out to do everything available during summer months. But I expect to spend the hours of 11 a.m to 4 p.m. inside, on my chair, just about every day. I sure as hell don’t want to begin with a new doctor and diagnosis and all that shit when I KNOW the chance is high my body will be hurting.

Maybe I’m being a pussy. Weak. Avoiding.

So be it.

I want to have FUN this summer. And that means giving me every chance to feel good, which means no poking around in my head to see what sets me off. I’ll continue to write. Don’t think I could STOP blogging now. But for the rest…Meh! I’ll smoke when I smoke. And I’ll think when I think, and use my words and talk when I need to. This summer I’ll discover myself in a safe and loving way. I won’t push. That’s new. Last time I tried something like that would have been long, long ago (in a galaxy far, far away) BEFORE all my dreams were trampled under my mother’s feet.

Maybe…maybe with my better grasp on the language, I’ll seek out a theatre troupe. Not with the intention of actually getting a part, but…It might be fun to sit in on things, to read the script, to try. I used to live for that. It was my entire existence – the desire to act. I haven’t allowed myself to participate in that world since mom shut me down. And I think I’ve been missing a huge part of myself… I should do a web search. Find out where the closest group is. Find out if it’s within the realm of possible first, before I fly off.

Well, there you have it. My summer homework. Language, gentle care of me and my body (and I remind myself right here and now that my poor body does everything it can to struggle through the pain and problems it has), and find a theatre group. No therapist could come up with a better plan. Now to negotiate the path. Slow, simple, step by step.

Time to ramble on.

Feelin’ it


Panic. Hit me last night while watching tv. I guess I was triggered by the film; it DID center on a homeless character. All I know is for about 3 seconds I was THERE, in the future, my brother dead, me homeless and destitute, on the street, waiting to die. My whole body went into shock. Breathing was difficult. My chest tightened up and I didn’t know if I was going to vomit, pass out, or both.

Recovery took much longer than the 3 seconds or so of adrenaline flooding my system. Half an hour later I was still drawing deep breaths, looking around, telling myself I was HERE and it was NOW and not happening to me.

I can’t even begin to describe that level of terror. Words fail me.

My mother used to say my imagination was my worst enemy. I did that all the time as a kid; just flaked out. Got hysterical. Had panic attacks. Over a LOT of stuff. And people would tell me ‘just don’t think about it’. I never understood that. How can you NOT think about it? Especially when that kind of thing hits you. Trust me, it took a lot to bring myself back.

And I’m still scared. I just won’t look it straight in the eye right now.

Yes, I’m smoking. Fuck it. Fuck off, everyone. This shit wasn’t happening to me when I was smoking on a regular basis. Get me onto this ‘recreational’ use and suddenly I’m fucking having panic attacks.

I KNOW that’s because I’m finally accessing it. I don’t want to access it THAT fast.

I couldn’t smoke when it happened. I don’t think I lit up for at least 15 minutes afterwards. I was still having problems breathing.

Just writing about it makes it hard to breathe.

…Damn it. Thinking about the flipping panic attack makes me feel like I’m on the edge of one.

Shift your focus.

Went swimming this morning. It’s become a chore. I’m clock watching again. Waiting for at least 40 minutes to go by before I feel I can get out of the pool. My black mood seems to have spread thru the pool; despite there being 6-8 people in the fast lane and at least as many in the slow lane, my lane was left largely to me. Two people swam with me for about 15 minutes each. I’ve swum before and shot out that ‘get the fuck out of my way!’ vibe towards slow pokes who hold me up. Did it work? Or am I dripping something else in the pool these days? Is this panic and angst leaching out of me and into the water?

Can they feel it?

Ironic how many times I ached to be left alone in my lane, yet when that time comes I feel paranoid and outcast.

Fuck! This isn’t helping.

Stopped by George’s canal on the way back. Now the ducks are in mating season, and VERY territorial. One pair ruled the patch of grass I stood on, so I didn’t get to interact with George. I think I spotted him, on the water, and tossed some bread his way. But we didn’t do our one on one thing. I’ve got to find an area where the other ducks will let him approach me.

Language class this morning. One student returned, and we had a new student today as well. Flipping amazing. The new student has lived here 19 years and has 4 children. She can talk okay, though she has a heavy accent and gets the grammar mixed up. But she can barely read. Can you imagine? That long and barely able to read. Our teacher had no problems understanding her; she’s from a Portuguese speaking country and drops all her h’s. Our teacher recognized her accent right away, but the rest of us had problems understanding her. Man! Like the language isn’t tough enough; I’ve also got to learn Dutch on different accents. No wonder the native Dutch get titchy about their language. It’s loosening up fast and getting replaced by English.


More words, more sentences. Did more thinking when I spoke today so I made less mistakes, tho I spoke at a slower rate. Talked about cousins, which in Dutch uses the same word as niece or nephew or goes to the longer ‘the son/daughter of my mother’s/father’s sister/brother’. Then we drilled words relating to cars autos (might as well get used to using the Dutch word) which I had a really hard time remembering…mostly because I didn’t go over last week’s work at all. Discussed the difference between ‘ruit’ (the glass of a window) and ‘raam’ (the entire window, or frame), which then clicked on a dozen ahas! in my brain and a lot more suddenly made sense. Talked about ‘wandelen’ (wandering), and how the only time you’d say ‘Ik wandel’ (I wander) is when you’re actually out on a walk and your mobile rings. Otherwise, it’s ‘Ik ga wandelen’. Good to know when I walk all the time.

…*sigh* Nothing like a good load of laundry to bring you back to reality. The fussiness of getting it hung up to dry just anchors me. Same with doing dishes. Probably the same with hoovering, or vacuuming, or, as the Dutch say, dustsucking. I wouldn’t know; I loathe it. Loathe DOING it. I love the results.

Gimme a cheer; I splashed out on myself with a couple of hair products. Didn’t buy the cheapest I could find. I actually spent more than I needed to and got something with quality. I’ve now got a hair clasp that actually, really holds my thick hair back off my face and neck. And I’ve got two – two – finishing products, one for blowdrying and one for air drying.

A bit more work and I might actually look like I can rejoin the human race.

Now to just feel like it…




While laying in bed this morning, I hurt my own feet with simple pressure. Enough that my eyes, which up to that point remained closed as I stretched and moved around, snapped open. What did I do? Pressed my foot into the mattress while I stretched. That’s all. That’s all it took.

Those tootsies hurt quite a bit today.

My swim yesterday was odd. I never felt I really got into the rhythm of it, and I kept checking the clock to see if I’d spent a respectable amount of time in the water. Yet I was consumed by hunger by 3 p.m. and fell into one of my super naps afterwards because I just felt worn out. I don’t feel like I worked that much in the water. I did, however, allow myself to do those things; eat, then nap. Afterwards I got up and made a cup of coffee to warm me up and help me stay awake. Watched a film with my brother, did the Dutch drills on my phone app, and turned off the light to go to bed.

Today I see my huisarts. I have not prepared what I want to say. I’ve only one note to bring with me, and that contains the dates of my first visit with Heike and my first visit with Yoda. This behavior is unusual for me, but I’ve been trying to do just this to prevent any further anxiety. My only sensation is one of relaxation..Talking to my huisarts, as I’ve said before, is very easy. She’s an exceptional doctor, and an exceptionally kind person. I’m confident with her that my concerns will be listened to and acted on. I trust her to never diss my feelings, even after what just happened with Yoda AND all my previous experiences with doctors. Still, I’m cautious with her. I don’t want to overload her, and I feel I could easily do that with just my physical ailments. But this appointment was made to address only my therapy problems. Things keep coming up, physical stuff that I should also discuss with her. Right now I’m brushing them aside; they are distractions, things I’m bringing up to prevent myself from fully discussing the real issue. They can be written down and mentioned, if there’s time at the end. Or I can make another appointment if I still think they’re all that important AFTER today. I suspect most will fade back into my memory and returned to being small things that aren’t really that big of a deal.

Today I feel low. Tired, aching, melancholy. That would be the word I’d pick today; melancholy. Not beyond a laugh or a tear, depending on circumstance. But mostly just plopped there. Unmoving and unwilling to move. Stone-like. I know that veil is deceptive; it’s a thin and flimsy thing that’s easily broken thru. The only reason I can maintain it at the moment is because very few other people are up and making noise. It’s quiet. The lights are low. I’m in my safe element. In a few hours, when everyone is awake and chatty, when the lights are on regardless of whether or not you want them to be, when there’s background music I don’t control and wouldn’t ever pick, that thin veneer of dispassion will sweep aside. We’ll see how I feel then.

The older I get, the only thing I’m sure of is how unsure I am.

Sounds like a joke, right? I said that to my bro and he laughed. It’s true. Then again, my (secret) goal has always been to break down the barrier of this world, to perceive it as it is, not as it’s presented to us. Part of that is unlearning all those ‘facts’ about the Universe, the world, and myself. If I wasn’t learning alternative ideas, things that make me question my original idea of what the world was, then I’m not moving towards my goal, am I? The solidity of the objects around me is false; my desk and my computer are just clouds of atoms. More space in them and in me than actual matter. We are held together by thought. We think these things are solid, and our brains reinforce that idea by giving us sensory perceptions that we interpret as ‘evidence’ of our reality. Get down to the nitty gritty of things and all that falls apart. Then you start to see how observers change outcomes, how seemingly chaotic systems have patterns and logic, how all of THIS – our lives, our jobs, our fucking societies – mean nothing. Squat.

There’s a little quantum nihilism for you this morning.

Hm. I like that phrase, ‘quantum nihilism’. It’s a song or an album or a movement; can’t decide. But it just got written down.

Well, this collection of free floating atoms must shift space today while other collections of free floating atoms fall from the sky as cold rain. I have not yet mastered moving my atoms instantaneously across space time from one point to the next, so I’ll have to walk. And despite my desire to return to that place where the physical does not exist and communication sounds like music, I’m not there. I’ll have to shift the atoms that make up my mouth and push atoms out of my lungs to form the symbolic syllables that we’ve decided make up ‘words’ to try to convey my ‘feelings’. It’s a sloppy and imperfect system.

It’s doomed to fail, on some level, from the beginning.

But it’s all I have to work with. So far.

Somedays I wish I could lay down and will my death. Quietly, without fuss and bother. I haven’t mastered that yet, either. Until I do, I’ll continue. To keep trying, and keep working. Because paradoxically, although I firmly believe in quantum nihilism on a material level, I do not believe that in the realm of thought. I guess that’s my faith. I adhere to no religion, know no phrases from holy books. I’ve just this sense of something more. I’m not here to be one of the herd.

This is me, in transition.



I’m still angry at Heike. Talking to the walls, practising what I’ll say, how I’ll react next time I see her. Then it occurred to me that she wasn’t feeling that way; for her, I’m a job. She sees me, takes 10 minutes to make notes, and then puts me out of her mind. I do not trouble her sleep or rile up her anger each and every damned day, like she does to me. I’d like that kind of dispassion. Visit over, just put her out of my mind. Gonna do my best to let it all go.

‘Letting it all go’ is much tougher once your brain has gone over that edge. Doesn’t matter if it’s the edge of depression or anger, if it started with abuse or abandonment. Once your brain is there the simple act of letting go becomes monumental. I’d rather spend 10 minutes in a closed room with someone continually shouting at me ‘don’t think about penguins! don’t think about penguins!’ because then, of course, I’d think about penguins. ANYTHING to get my mind off this shit.

Step it up. Got plans. Things to do, tasks to tackle. The one shining promise in my day today is the slot marked ‘TIME TO WRITE’. Scheduled writing has never been too successful for me; while I can push through some rough patches, it never leads to the kind of flow I really enjoy. It’s like the three legged donkey of writing. It goes, it does something, but it kind of just limps along at an ungainly pace and in the end you’re not sure if you really wanted to witness what just happened. However, if I wait until the mood strikes me and the neighbors aren’t making too much noise and my brother isn’t on my butt about listening to his latest mix, I’ll never get anything done. So scheduled time it is. Chances are high I’ll just sit there, reading the last paragraph over and over. Or I’ll write two sentences, sit back, then decide I’d rather be working on music. But I’m gonna try.

Language is another step up program. Once a week in class is a good basis to build on, but I’ve got to put in more time. CONSISTENTLY. I do put in more time here and there, but once again I’ve got to schedule it in. Make sure I get to some exercises at least two times other than class. The basics still need to get ingrained in me. And I need more words. More phrases, more adages, more of the way the Dutch say things. I’m so CLOSE to forming solid sentences. Just a bit more drilling and practice with grammar. Then it will be second nature.

*shakes head* I’m doing it again, aren’t I? Setting myself up to overload. Putting expectations on myself so I have an opportunity for some self beating when I don’t measure up or follow thru. Right. I’d like to buckle down harder. No, that’s still not right and the damned phrase itself indicates putting myself under pressure. ‘Buckle down harder’, indeed! How’s this? I want to do more. A broad statement, to be sure. But accurate. And no hidden pressure. Fine. I want to do more. More with my life, more with my time. It’s great to occasionally blow off the day and just have fun doing whatever. You can’t make a life out of it. I know; I’ve tried.

Good Goddess, I’ve flipped around. Just a few days ago I was happy and going off about all my accomplishments. Now I’m working hard to not start beating myself up again. And the ribbon that ties it all up is anger. Anger I can’t let go of, anger I can’t stop thinking about no matter how many times I clear my head. The worst part of it is that I know I’m the only person getting stopped up by this. It doesn’t affect Heike or the jerk who pisses me off by pushing past me. No one’s skin is burning off their bones (too bad!). The only thing that’ll end up burning is my stomach acid if I let this go on too long.

There’s a 10:30 open pool today, and I think I’ll go. Even if I just float there for an hour.

*sigh* And I’ve another phone call to brave. To my dermatologist to set up an appointment. More Dutch. More phone. Recent successes prop me up and give me courage, but it’s still a big thing. I just hate phones.

Kindness is still foremost in my thoughts. Be kind to myself. Even though I hate the circumstances that have brought this on, I’m pleased to find me so eager to support myself. It’s difficult for me. It’s difficult to know the difference between being kind to myself and being lazy or using my emotions as an excuse to fuck off and smoke. Hells bells! I can’t even BEGIN to tell the difference. I’m just walking the line, doing my best to keep it together and move. The goal is to move forward; I don’t always achieve that. Sometimes it feels like I backstep or sidestep. Must look like I’m doing a little dance from above. And it is a dance; that’s all life is. We’re all ballerinas twirling around on top of the music box called reality. Some people’s gears get stuck, some people wind down. Others seem to circle around endlessly with a stupid look painted on their faces.

Well, I’m not gonna overwind my box today. That tutu HAS to come off. If my fate is to dance, I’ll dance at my own pace and rhythm. I’ll do my own moves. This is MY dance, not Heike’s or Yoda’s or my brother’s – or my MOTHER’S. Mine. And just like my writing or my music, my dance will not be to everyone’s taste. That doesn’t negate what I do, NOR how I do it. I AM moving. If it’s too slow, time lapse film me and then speed it up.

You’ll see me dance.

Ik Sta Op


Eight hours sleep. Better. My head’s been thinking again. Had this crazy idea to just quit smoking outright, fuck the irritation and withdrawal, just DO IT because Heike really fucking freaked me out with her ‘time out’ shit. I keep hearing Yoda tell me he doesn’t think that’s a good idea, and I don’t want it to be a good idea. I WANT to keep smoking. At least my wake up J and my sleep time J. The rest I can cut out with ease. Those last two are gonna be hell.

Put the smoking aside for a minute. Can I? It’s become as big an obsession as food once was in my life. Either thinking about how much time I want to pass before I smoke again OR just thinking of delaying a bit longer, hold it off, don’t smoke it down so fast.

I apologize if this has become repetitive. Then again, you’re not doing this, so…well, fuck off if you think it’s repetitive. Get your ass into my shoes, do it, deal with my body and my problems, and then we’ll talk about fucking repetitive.

Christ I’m fucking irritable when I write. Wonderful.

No news is good news, and I’ve had no news for 48 hours. Usually I’ll deal with the times my brother likes to watch news by getting out of the room or hunkering down to play games. Ignore, ignore, ignore. Concentrate on killing zombies or finding that hidden treasure chest. I’ve been ‘bad’ enough lately that he’s not watching news while I’m around, and I’ve not gone out to any news websites to ‘catch the headlines’ because invariably I end up seeing something that pisses me off. My RT icon on my computer has over 90 unread stories at the mo. I wonder how far that thing will count up. I might just find out.

This morning I’m envisioning my next appointment with Heike, and it looks much, much different than the last. I am dressed better, a bit less grungy. My hair is done and looks good. I speak calmly, sitting back in the chair. My arms and legs and crossed because YES! I’m keeping her out and away from me. The little girl in me wants to pout and not talk at all now. We were honest, we let it all out, and we heard almost the exact words come out of her mouth that have fucking haunted me since I first told my mother that I didn’t see any reason to live. I’m angry and closed off. Shut down. Saying fuck you with my whole body, not just my middle finger.

It’s very tempting. Part of me thinks I’ll ‘teach her a lesson’ if I shut down on her. Punishment. Revenge. Yep. These are the wonderful lessons I learned at my mother’s teat. I know it; I have a bitch sister that mirrors the same fucking shit and I know HER games all too well. And I know it’s the wrong thing to do. It will get me nowhere, and the outcome is likely to be ugly.

I still want to do it.

Five days to talk myself out of it. Five days to calm down. I’m figuring I’ll resort to writing it all down again. Fuck it if it works for Heike; it works for me. Get it into simple black and white language. I’m cold, not hot, with emotion. So chances are I’ll be able to get some of it translated into Dutch. Great. It’s good practice.

Dutch, Dutch, Dutch. *sigh* The good news is that some of the past tense verbs I now know are exactly the same as English. The bad news is that I’m really beginning to confuse myself with it; I’ll start to say the right word then I’ll stop and wonder if I’m not just trying to use an English word with a Dutch pronunciation. And yesterday I uncorrected myself on a word pronunciation; first time I got it right and the second time I fucked it up. I’m at that stage: second guessing. Doubting my own knowledge. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I always get here and stumble a bit. That’s a sign of too much pushing. You wouldn’t think so; it’s not like I’m doing lessons every damned day. But it’s always around me, on tv, on radio, on stranger’s lips in the stores and streets and metro. I’ve been trying to actively listen. My apologies to the general public for eavesdropping, but that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Trying to catch normal conversation. It’s tough. And it’s sure as hell not easy when people like the receptionist at Addiction Central prattle on to me in very fast Dutch when I ask where the bathrooms are and the ONLY thing I catch is a slightly sarcastic ‘Can’t you READ?‘ because I didn’t know that ‘bezoekers’ marks a bathroom in Addiction Central, not the usual WC or universal icons.

I’m gonna bitch to Heike about that. I ended up asking my teacher if it was a Dutch thing. I’ve been in places in North America where bathrooms have gag names, like cowboys and cowgirls. Sometimes I’ve stood outside the doors and waited for another person to come out or go in because I can’t figure out which is the women’s. So, you know..I thought maybe ‘bezoekers’ was one of those. Nope. My teacher looked confused over the whole thing. ‘Bezoekers’ means guests. It’s done in private buildings rather than the usual clear, simple, and universally understood WC. The crack about my not being able to read was way the fuck out of line.

Funny how standing up for myself is pretty much the same thing as being honest. Saying what I think and feel rather than smoothing it over. I didn’t connect those two before I began this journey, but now I understand. I get it. I know why I’ve been accused of dishonesty in the past. It’s right here: I didn’t speak my truth or stand up for myself.

Move aside, everyone. Ik sta op.