Beginnings

Beginnings are tough. The first word on a page. The first day of a new job. Seems just about everything in life turns into a metaphoric pair of shoes: you gotta wear ’em in a bit and get used to them. And until you do, you’re a bit uncomfortable. A little too aware of where they are rubbing at your heel or pinching your toes. Hopefully the shoes give a bit with time, and the heel rubbing and toe pinching stops. Meanwhile, you hang in there with that new pair because you just bought them, or they look good, or you so want them to work for you.

My metaphoric new shoes were my return to the gym. I found it tough just walking thru the door because it’s been too long. Kept to the exercise bike and treadmill. Too long = I’m weak as shit, so no big push until I can do the bike and the treadmill without sweating. No weights, either, until I know my wrist won’t start hurting again (this is the third day without pain, and I’m just enjoying it). Felt good to stretch out and use my muscles. But now I’m telling myself how I need to go and do it again and… Ugh. Again? And again and again and again? Is there no end?

…You were expecting an end?

That’s the topper, isn’t it? We live in a false world full of ends. Stories end, films end, days end, years end… But that’s not true. The story continues, the film could go on, and we live in an unending time continuum. It would be better just to say ‘here’s where the story stops’ or ‘here’s where this day becomes the next’. ‘End’ is a misnomer.

We have come to expect ends. An end to life, an end to pain… We tend to call the culmination of our dreams ‘the end’, although it’s really just another beginning. Dieters dream of their restricted meals ending, schoolchildren long for the end of the school year. Focusing on ends pushes our vision into the past: the end of an era, the end of ‘the good old days’, etc. We want to wrap things up in tight bundles: here it is; finite and complete. Take a picture, and bemoan about your memories for the rest of time.

This behavior blinds us to the continuity surrounding us. To the flow. To seeing how one thing leads to another, then another.

Too many people seem to be asking ‘how did we get here?’ when the answer seems obvious to me. Stop viewing time as frozen bits of truth. The past does not contain our truth. It only contains the seed of what we are now, and if you’re blind to that you’ll never recognize it even if it bites you on the nose.

Look to the past to discover who you are. Look to the future to find who you can be.

I have looked to my past. Kept my eyes inwards, downwards, searching, asking. I can’t bemoan any of that right now. It’s served me well in many instances, and made me a better person.

But now I look up. Literally. Used to walk down the street looking down, watching where I put my foot so I didn’t trip or turn an ankle. Now I look at the sky and trees. It’s amazing what I see when I stop looking at the ground. I forgot the world held so much color and variety.

Often I’ve been called a ‘starter’ rather than a ‘finisher’. I can finish projects – make no mistake about that. But I’ve started more than I’ve finished. In the past, that’s been used against me. Shamed me. This morning I can only see my behavior as evidence of my underlying optimism. I kept starting. Kept trying to reset. Toss away the shame of ‘not finishing’ and see what you were really doing: continual movement, continual attempts to change things in positive manners. Me grasping for me. Oh, little girl! You did so well! You just never gave up, no matter what. You hated yourself, you hated life, you didn’t understand so much, but you just kept at it. … Now, that’s a solid feeling. One that doesn’t flutter in briefly and leave me the next moment. It is deep and heavy, yet light…

I have allowed so much shame to cover me in the hopes that it would bring me love. I let myself be used physically, like a bag of garbage. I let myself be lied about, let the worst be thought about me, without one word of defense. I let others’ judgements rule me: how I should act, what I should want, how I should look or be.

…I suppose in my world, being yelled at for this or that was the only attention I really received. Being good never got it. I was never good enough to be praised for being good, only told I could never be the best, the prettiest, the most talented because there would always be someone better than me. Getting yelled at, though… Now, that I excelled at. I was the worst ever. The most base slut on the planet, the worst drug addict, the biggest liar, the most horrible thief, the worst person you could ever know.

It seems I could be the best at something, then.

…Yikes. That’s a hard one to swallow. Years of bad behavior in a textbook case of an unloved and unwanted child seeking attention.

That’s my seed from the past. It grew me into who I am today. But who I am today, when I step outside the door, is totally up to me. I can go out there loaded for bear, ready to take issue with everyone and everything.

Or I can take my seed and go out with gentle patience and understanding. Knowing my seed can’t grow under certain conditions. It’s part of what it is.

My new beginning.

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Transformation

I am old. Old enough to bitch about current trends, and bemoan my lack of understanding over the newest app on the market. I’m okay with that. But I’ll give the internet one thing that’s superior over the time before the internet: it makes bitching at people a hell of a lot easier.

Just off a scathing email to Heineken beer. This is a Dutch company, so I feel particularly watchful over it and more than qualified to speak the hell up. Complaint: the use of “Heineken Girls”. This sexist marketing must stop. Ah! Now that’s what the internet is good for: fast anger, fast action. Popped over to Heineken’s site, used the contact page, told them how terrible their marketing campaign is. Poured it out in English because it’s an international company and someone there should be proficient in it. Besides, even Roald Dahl doesn’t use the words I needed for that email, and I didn’t want my comments to be tossed aside because of poor grammar.

And yes, I’m very aware I’m becoming that stereotypical older person, shooting off angry letters to companies, bitching about the noise from kids, ignoring most current trends because they’re all just so damned silly to me. You know what? It’s comfortable.

I have decided to remain silent on auditions. If I’m truly giving up control, then give up control. Auditions are called by the director and the board. That’s what they do. That’s what they’ve always done. They do not need me needling at them to do it. I’ll continue to work on getting back to a routine for my health. I’ll continue to peck away at the tech notes. And if mid-May comes and there’s still no auditions called, I’ll ask about them. But not yet.

Got up yesterday and took a shower. Yea! The Universe was with me on that: hot water aplenty in the building. And standing under it -! I felt all the days of inaction slide off me. It was more than refreshing; it was rejuvenating. Got downtown for my errands. I contemplated wandering around, looking at stuff. Two things stopped me: lack of money, and the crowds. So I came back home. Did some internet searches to expand my mind. Chilled. Paced and talked aloud.

And did four full drying rack’s worth of dishes all by myself.

Finished Esio Trot (or ‘Ieorg Idur’ in Dutch). Only took two sittings. It was short and had lots of pictures, but I’m proud of myself. That was a fast read with really high comprehension. That makes nine Dutch books I’ve read so far this school year. Some of my classmates, btw, are still on their first book. I’m impatient for my head to finish making all the connections. I like the sparks I get – the sudden comprehension, catching new words, whatever. It’s too slow for me, tho everyone says I’m making great progress. But I know now that I’m reading so much, I’ll get there. Eventually.

Oh! For the first time in a very long time – maybe truly for the first time in my life – I had a positive reaction to my reflection in the mirror. The lift in our building has a mirror, one of the best I’ve got for seeing my full body. We’ve had really hot weather, so I dressed in cool clothes: a pair of dark grey harem pants and a T I haven’t wore in a while. It was more form fitting than I generally wear, and I was pleased with my appearance. I admired my ass. I liked the curve of my hips. In the 5 seconds it took to go from the top floor to the ground floor, I experienced a body revolution. I found myself attractive. It was…more powerful than I can put into words. I’m hanging onto that memory, that feeling. I like it.

Finding myself taking more time with me. Brushing my hair, brushing my teeth, even trying on one or two different tops to see what I look like before I leave the house. It’s been years since I’ve cared about doing any of that. Been taking care of my cuticles and nails. Thinking about purchasing a bit of make-up for special evenings out. Keeping in mind that in future when I shop, I should pick clothing a size smaller than I generally do. I’m tired of wearing bags for clothes. Tired of looking extra fat because everything is so large. I don’t have to look like that.

I don’t have to be that.

…Wow. I guess 10 mg does the trick. Or, let me rephrase that because I’m dissing my own action in that: 10 mg is enough to help me make that connection in my brain and see my own worth. I know finding my body attractive is a small step. I still don’t feel worthy of help. Or money. Or love, really. But…not repeating those old phrases to myself about how unattractive I am, how fat my ass is, how totally nothing I am in every way… That’s good. I’m told most people don’t do the things I do. They don’t wake up crying, they don’t obsess over their mistakes or the world, they don’t continually beat themselves up. No wonder you can hold jobs and have families and do a hundred extra curricular activities! You’ve got so much time on your hands when you’re not whipping yourself! Things are so much easier! You think: okay, I’m gonna go do this and you do it without interrupting yourself or getting caught up in some web of logic or paranoia.

I’ve still a long way to go, but…those things that I was bitching about last week, the take care of yourself shit that just seemed too big to tackle…I’m just doing it. Slowly picking it up. Doing it because I want to. Doing it because it’s easy.

The time has come for transformation.

So easy to fly

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

52. I can no longer say I’m barely in my fifties. You can get away with that at 51, but at 52 you’re officially IN there. Two years since the big 5-0 and running towards 55. I gotta say, it don’t feel bad. Especially since I really can run towards 55 – if I’m so inclined.

So. *ahem* I got the film! I got the film!! Signed into my google account yesterday (I’ve several email accounts under my pseudonyms) to find a message from the casting director asking me to contact her. Sent out an excited email in reply. Then I signed in FB to find she’d also contacted me out there. With two messages sent to me in quick succession, both containing phone numbers, I weighed my desire: did I want this bad enough to pick up my mobile and call a Dutch number? Yes. Yes, I did. And, oh Goddess! She’s a fan. She saw me in the last play – even spoke to me after a performance. Her picture is cut off online, but I think I may remember her. She sure as hell remembered me, and I had that weird moment when someone remembers you and your memory doesn’t dredge up a corresponding memory to remember them. Ach, I’m so naturally bad at that type of thing! Anyway, she was VERY excited to have me – ME – onboard. So very excited I got excited, and had a damned difficult time winding down last night. It’s a psychological thriller, and my part is big. Not the main part; that’s left for the 20-something actor who’ll play my son (can you imagine? me as a mother?). But I’ll be needed every day for filming (must be a mother issue psychological thriller…gee, I can relate). I look forward to some real acting – crying, screaming, trembling with fear or anger. Letting it all go on camera.

I’m gonna be in a mo-vie! I’m gonna be in a mo-vie!

I’m just so excited! This may be the best birthday present ever.

My head’s just flying. Imagining people asking me to work with them again. Imagining bigger directors seeing my work and contacting me for roles. Imagining, even, collecting awards for roles I haven’t played yet (yes, I’m THAT far into the future). Then there are the writing fantasies: I’ll talk about my work. Someone will get interested. Someone will say, gee why don’t you take that to film? And on and on and on…

Here’s how full my head has been: I haven’t even had time to dream of Taman being well received.

Did clear my scriptwriting desktop. Whatever faults lie in Taman, stand. I think I got most of them. Now I’m ready to load up the thrillers.

Came to a very clear decision yesterday on my Thursday language lessons. I’m not continuing them after this semester. Just. not. worth it. The room is too crowded, and my teacher…well. I think she’s got a problem with me. Was nagged yesterday on pronunciation of a word I’ve known for over two years. Do not know what she was on about; she kept repeating the word and telling me I was saying it wrong. I told her I couldn’t hear any difference between what she said and what I said. She kept nagging at me. I told her I didn’t actually CARE if I made a few mistakes here and there in Dutch pronunciation, as long as I was understood. “People will know you’re American”, she told me. So? I asked. I then clearly stated that I’ve never claimed to be anything OTHER than a dumb American, and I wasn’t going to pretend I was. Besides, I said, everyone has a bleeding accent. Even with your own people. And then there’s the mumblers. To tell me that there’s only ONE way to say a word, and that if I don’t say that word exactly the way she tells me I’ll look or sound like an idiot (or whatever she meant to imply), is complete and utter bullshit. Especially when, post this discussion, my co-student read a sentence aloud that made ME cringe at her poor pronunciation of every word – and she received no nagging nor correction.

Homey ain’t gonna put up with dat no more.

Side note: I kept my temper. My teacher might not have felt that was true; she brought out that passionate side of me that drives my words with a forcefulness some people find intimidating. But I didn’t lose my cool, and I knew that. How she perceived it is her own thing.

I feel like I stand on a knife’s edge. There’s a tipping point at my feet. Something’s in the air. One way lies success; the other, oblivion. I know it as sure as I’m sitting here (or I’m just really, really lost in a manic spree…that could be true, too). Feels a little unstuck in time, if I’m honest. My mind’s eye shoots out, far into the future, but my real eyes see my reality. Then I get a jolt, coming back into my body. Doing my best to anchor myself: this is real, this is true, this is life. Even if I get many more film roles or get my own writing produced some things will still hold true. I’ll still sit with my brother watching tv in the evenings. I’ll still get up, shit, make coffee, and write. That’s life. That’s my anchor. My armpits will still stink, I’ll still sweat at the gym, and it will still be difficult to say no to cakes and sweets. Reality. No amount of success will take that away. Remember that.

Today is all fun. Play games, enjoy films, and go out for some Greek food later on. Even if it rains (and it sounds wet outside), that rain will be magical.

Because today it’s so easy to fly.

Choice

Yesterday, I chose to care about myself. Just a little bit.

Hauled back two heavy bags of groceries late morning. Noticed my ankle hurt a wee bit with every step. Didn’t matter how careful I was, how I placed my foot – when I stepped, there was an edge of pain. I was all fired up to go to the gym, to push, to not care. Dare I say it? To hurt myself. But the reality of that bit of pain with each step weighed on me. I sat in my bedroom, a large bandage in my hand all ready to wrap that damned ankle up, and suddenly my bad mood telescoped out into the future. I saw myself hurting my ankle – badly. Saw the weeks, the months down. Saw the just sitting there feeling like a fucking idiot on a thousand levels. And some quiet voice in me spoke up and asked, ‘Do you really want to risk sitting around and going even deeper into this for months due to injury?’

It was hard to say no. Because I wanted to hurt myself. That’s my thing: go to the gym and push my body until it breaks. And I suddenly realized it wasn’t about health or endurance, it wasn’t even about getting some endorphins going so my mood improved. It was about punishing myself.

Hating myself.

Self-flagellation comes in all forms.

Acceptance of the moment, my reasons, my self-hate, was the key to opening my mouth. I’d not said much to my brother up to that point; still in a hissy fit. But once I stopped and accepted what was going on with me, I communicated. And I found it easy to avoid angry communication. In fact, it wasn’t even part of the equation. My anger left me as soon as I realized what I was doing. I had no need to harangue my bro over his SIM game. He enjoys it; why should I spoil that for him? And I found no reason to nag about the housework, either. It never really takes that long to tidy up. No. I admitted to my bad mood, my twisted anger, my desire to hurt myself – and all that surface shit just slid away.

So I did not go to the gym, despite my angry ‘no matter what’ declaration yesterday. And I learned something. Thought it was only exercise that would release my anger in this fashion. But it isn’t. If I can get to the core issue and admit it, I can let it go without all the sweat and effort. That’s a big IF. Everest height. And it’s not a mountain I care to scale too often. I suppose I shouldn’t say that. It should be my goal to handle my mood swings in such a manner, right? Find the cause, accept it, move on. No acting out, no mad blog writing at 5 a.m. But I am comfortable with my old methods, with the exercise push and mad writing, the slamming of doors and gut-churning anger. …How utterly sad to say that. I’m fucking used to such horrors.

…I’m fucking used to being such a horror.

Ah! I was going to say I see my sister in all this – the acting out, the hissy fits, the slamming doors. I do see it, and I do hate it. But I also realize now what’s probably at the base of my sister’s actions. Self-hate. Makes me have a drop of empathy for her this morning.

Could we just stop with the epiphanies? Just for a little while? This hyper awareness…I welcome new levels of understanding, but hey! You’ve got to give me time to digest one bit of info before shoveling a new load into my head. Feels like there’s just too much to grasp, too much to know, and as soon as I get a hold of one idea something else loosens and gets away from me…

It’s like learning Dutch. If I concentrate on the correct verb and sentence structure, I’ll get the verb tense wrong. If I think too much about the verb tense, I’ll screw up the syntax. I can’t seem to hold all that info in my brain at once. I know it’s a matter of practice. Go slow, go steady, and keep trying.

But although I suffer embarrassment over my poor language use, I do not have to go through emotional turbulence over every little word. Setting out to change the way I think…now that’s difficult. I get triggered left and right, have to stop and sort myself out, fight against the depression, reign in the mania…it’s bloody exhausting. There’s no manual out there for this, no instruction booklet to make things easy. What I would give for a big Book of Life with easy to read chapters and answers in the back!

For now, I’m choosing to care about me. It’s not a choice I’m comfortable with. Not. at. all. But I am more afraid of months down, unable to get out or do much of anything, than I am of carrying some extra weight on my body or feeling guilty from missing a day at the gym. Until I can take a step without pain, I’m choosing to be careful. Choosing to not push. Choosing to not hurt myself.

I can do this. I can learn to take care of myself.

It’s a choice.

Progress as a verb

Run.

Nothing like watching a horror film to make you remember why working out is important. What if. That’s all you really have to ask yourself: what if. What if disaster struck, what if you were being chased by an axe wielding maniac. Three years ago, my answer would have been ‘lay down and die’ because I was stiff, out of shape, and in a lot of pain. Yesterday, my answer was run. Run fast, run hard – and the great thing was, I found I’m still capable of doing that.

For the record: 8 minutes and five seconds in I passed my first kilometer. Passed the second kilometer in 7 minutes. My knees felt good, I felt strong. Did my stretches and abdominal exercises and free weights, too.

These days, I have a fairly decent chance of getting away from natural disasters and axe wielding maniacs. Not if I’m with a bunch of 20-somethings. But give me an average group, and I’ll be able to outrun a couple of them. I’ll also be able to fight if needed. I’m lifting more, getting some real muscle definition, and while it may be a while since I had any martial arts lessons, I still know how to move.

Don’t underestimate this old broad.

I said I’d laugh at myself if my plan worked, so HAHAHAHAHAHA BLOODY HA! My letter on behalf of my brother was answered – in less than a day. Fastest response I’ve ever seen on flipping ANYTHING. They want a PDF sample. That’s my must-do today: check the text and pick what to send. And since I didn’t send a sample of the manuscript, let me crow because it’s all down to me. My letter, my writing, my pitch got this response. Bloody hell! Wish I could do this for my own stuff! But envy aside, I’m very pleased and working to contain my excitement. This next letter is as important as the first, so I’ll work on it as well. Pleasant, friendly, open and willing to compromise while at the same time holding a high degree of professionalism. That’s what I shot for in the first letter, and I’m holding to the same standard in the second.

Goddess, please help me not fuck up!

Just a few, short weeks left before performing. Don’t know I’m actually ready for it. You know how things go – once someone knows the jokes, they tend to not laugh. That’s what’s going on. My funniest bits go un-laughed at, and I’m starting to doubt the comedy of it all. And I know how much laughter from the audience can throw you. Hearing other people laugh can set you off. I’d like a bit more indoctrination on that, but it’s gonna be feet in the fire, and keep a straight face because you really only get that experience by performing. I keep in mind that the funniest bits on the old Carol Burnett show were often when they’d lose it a little and struggle to keep straight faces. In other words, don’t be afraid of the process. Or even more simply: trust yourself.

…For the very first time since beginning my heavy cross trainer exercise, I find myself wanting to go to the gym two days in a row. I’m not as exhausted as I’ve been in the past. Tired, but not exhausted. Feeling pretty good, as a matter of fact. That’s why I want to go. And so I will. Not to cross train, but to walk on the treadmill and do some biking and lifting. Won’t let myself fool myself into two hard days. I know how that goes! I’d do it, and burn myself out so much I’d have problems the rest of the week. Nope. Simple movement today. If I can live through that and begin doubling up on days at the gym, then I’ll consider two hard days in a row.

Wow. Can you imagine? When you spend a lot of time sick or in pain, you begin to think that’s it forever. It’ll never get better. And let’s be clear: it ain’t easy. I invite anyone into my brain during my work-outs to experience the nausea, the pain in the push, and all the shit I have to shoulder my way through before I get the endorphins everyone talks about. But it IS getting better. The image of me toddling around barely able to walk, or the one of me using some sort of walking aide…they’re beginning to fade from my possible futures. At least, in my head. I know RA; later today I might not be able to move. It’s a bitch of a bitchy disease, striking when you least expect it, taking you down when you’re not prepared. These are things I always need to remember. I just enjoy not dwelling on them.

*sigh* Got to admit I’m wound up. Received a letter from immigration the other day. It was just to pick up some paperwork, but I thought maybe it indicated a positive response in our case. It wasn’t, yet it was. It wasn’t the magic ‘yes, you can stay’ answer I wanted, and I must admit I feel disappointed even though there’s no reason for it. I also feel a heightened anxiety over the entire issue, which again is nonsensical. What the letter does indicate is movement. Progress. A forward motion in life. The great gears are turning, and things are changing. I’ve lived through this often enough to know I might not be pleased with the outcome, and I guess that’s what’s worrying me.

We risk everything to move forward. I risk my health every time I work out. I risk my brother’s shot at the best music publisher in the biz if I don’t get that package just right. I risk failure on stage. And, the hardest to admit, I risk facing deportation if my immigration case doesn’t go through.

But stagnation isn’t the answer.

Progress is. Not as a noun, but as a verb. I progress through life. Yes.

Never quite whole again

Went to the gym. Did dishes, made my bed. All that stuff I promised I’d get back to – I did it. Even opened up my script and wrote 2000 words.

And it felt right to get back to the day to day. Solid, real. Reminded myself where I am. When I am. Who I am.

But I am still mourning, and it’s a private grief. There is not one person in my life today who met L, so for them it’s like saying a celebrity died – distant and cerebral. Even heard from someone I shared my sob story with, who said just that, which is why I bring it up…because the statement felt cold. Really? You’ll compare my losing someone I spent every day of my 20s with the death of a celebrity? You think that compares? Cold.

Maybe I’m just being a bitch. Maybe the person who said that really did get shaken down to their bones. Maybe, in secret, they flew off to the UK and spent many long afternoons and evenings with their hero, David Bowie. Maybe they remember Bowie shooting pool with them. Being at their side when their parents died. Maybe they spent hours on the phone, all hours of the day or night, talking. Just like I did with L.

Or maybe not.

No one says ‘I love you’ to me. Not even in writing. I do. I tell people I love them at the end of my letters. That is, I tell them I love them if I truly do love them. I don’t just write it for everyone. It’s a select bunch, I’ll give you that. Not many I’d say it to. And I know not everyone is comfortable saying it. Not everyone can say it, even in the written word. There are several people in my life who aren’t in the habit of saying it, yet I know they care about me because of how they treat me. They are there for me, consistently. To talk, to help, to console. They never say ‘why are we talking about this again’ or ‘gee, I just don’t have time to deal with your crises anymore’.

Still. I’d like to hear the words echoed back to me.

Writing has become a thing. A real thing in my life. Not something I do when the mood strikes me, but something I sit and do regardless of my mood. And thank you, Goddess, for it! Hours typing away, creating dialogue and story lines…hours I don’t think about myself, or my sorrow, or the (possible) lack of love in my life.

I think I could finally write for a living now. Punch in the hours, type in the words.

The script is going well. Strong. Strong characters, strong statements. I need to modify a few things in Act 1. Add in one or two historical references. Make sure I’m not using contractions (I know I have to comb over the beginning for those). But I don’t want to modify Act 1 yet. Keep moving forward. Get through the whole thing. Otherwise, I run the risk of spending the rest of the week editing Act 1 – which is truly silly, since I haven’t written the end yet. Finish it off, THEN go back and tinker with the beginning. You know that!

Go! Write! Forget!

Forget.

Strange how I bury my sorrow in words that remember.

Today is another gym day. Get my ass over there and sweat. Regret, after 7 minutes, getting on the cross trainer. Feel I’m gonna vomit after 20 minutes on said cross trainer. Then over that hump. Into the endorphins. Smile, when my legs burn. Laugh at the sweat dripping off me. I wonder if L kept up on exercise. Is this the reason I’m living longer than my mates? Because I get off on it? Do I have an addictive side that’s so hung up on exercise highs I return to physical activity throughout my life in order to feed my need?

Fucking hell. Can I finally turn that weakness into a strength?

Find my soul a little more forgiving. My urge to grasp happiness a bit more conscious and aware. My weaknesses are not insurmountable mountains in my path, hampering my every move, but flat spaces of nothingness I can build on.

If the value of a person lies in the lessons they teach us, L was valued very highly, indeed.

No wonder they say growing old is scary. It sure as fuck is! Hearing about or, worse yet, seeing the people you know and care about die – fucking die – is terrifying.

…People want to talk so much about money and finances these days. What’s your 401K look like? How much is in your portfolio? But no one ever talks about our emotional investments. How we invest so much in the people in our lives. Not just the big memories, but the day to day stuff. The dreams, even. Dreams of them, of seeing them again. And when we lose someone, we go bankrupt. Immediately. All of that is lost. The comfortable chit-chat and grousing over our routines. The irritating habits we snap at each other for, then later regret mentioning. The things we think we’d like to be rid of, and the things we think we can’t live without. Gone, in an instant.

We are left in an open wound of love and sorrow, and facing the huge obstacle of putting our lives back together again. But we are missing a piece.

And while working a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle maybe be fun even if a piece is missing, the picture is never complete.

We are never quite whole again.

3 (not so) Easy Steps to Trusting Yourself

  1. Say  you’re going to do something.
  2. Do it.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2.

I’m gonna do something. Don’t state unmeasurable goals. Don’t say ‘I’m gonna lose weight’ – there’s no time limit and no weight stated. Say instead ‘I’m gonna go to the gym three times a week’ or ‘I’m gonna eat a salad every day before I have my dinner’. These are concrete and measurable goals.

Do it. No excuses, no alibis. Commit, and follow through. As long as you follow through, no self-bashing allowed. If your head starts to berate you, saying ‘Sure, you went to the gym but you never even worked up a sweat’ or ‘Great, you had salads but they were slathered with dressing’ – tell your head to go to hell. The trick to part 2 is just to do it, not do it well, not master it or get it all done in one go. Just DO it. All that crap your head is telling you in step 2 should be shoved off to step 3.

Repeat steps 1 and 2. Now is when you master it. Now is when you find your stride. In the repeats. It’s called practice, and everyone needs it. Push a little harder at the gym. Use less salad dressing. Take what you began with in step 2 and build on it.

We have this weird self denial going on: sometimes – even when we know a thing will take a long time to manifest – we act like it should be happening instantaneously. I see people at the gym like that all the time. They come in, they put heavy weights on, they power lift for 20 or 30 minutes, and then they don’t come back for a week or more. Or someone ‘diets’ for a week and expects to see a big change in the scales.

If you’re making a real change in your life, it’s long term. Long term not just to get there, but also to maintain.

And kiddies, trust is all about long term.

If someone with a perfect track record fucks up – badly – even once, …well, you doubt him or her next time, don’t you? Even if you don’t want to. Even if that person is your closest friend. Some part of pipes up and reminds you of that disaster and the possibility that it could happen again. Same is true with yourself. Fuck up on a commitment to yourself just ONCE, and you’ll have to work twice as hard to regain the trust you just lost.

Two tips:

  1. Start small. Build your trust in yourself like you would with a child. Ask yourself to stand up, first – not run full out like an Olympic champion. You’re a baby. Stand up and keep your balance, then give yourself a gold star. Yeah, it’s tough. Tough to tell yourself you’re doing well when you feel a fool, or when you feel you should be able to do more. Ignore it, and praise yourself. After you stand, take a step. Then two steps. Expect to fall on your ass more than once. Get up, and try again.
  2. If it helps, make a list. If you’re a self doubter, a self hater, make a list of everything you want to accomplish every day, like a grocery list. Then check ’em off. At the end of the day, praise yourself for all the checked off items. Move unchecked items to tomorrow’s list. Keep at it.

The good news: once you begin to establish trust with yourself, it snowballs. The process becomes easier.

And just like anything else, keep at it. Fail a few times. Take time off from it. But always – ALWAYS – come back to this basic equation. It’s a key component to life, and one most of us aren’t taught.

Take it upon yourself to learn it.

Puberty at 51

It is a source of continual amazement to me that people who voted for 45 – restricting human rights, killing the environment, degrading women – are shocked when I inform them we can no longer be friends. I’ve been told to ‘grow up’ and ‘get over it’, or better yet: ‘it’s just stupid politics and you’re far less of a person than I thought’.

Wow.

As a measure of my self restraint, I’ve said nothing in reply. Good on me.

Feels like I’ve taken the first step towards adulthood. Sticking to my ethics. Saying “no”. No more! I won’t take it.

And you’re fucking surprised.

Seems you didn’t know me at all.

Now I may have to deal with a troll on FB. My ex pen-pal, who voted for 45 and said ‘it wasn’t a big deal’ (among other language that PISSED ME OFF) sent three messages telling me to fuck off then three more emojis throughout the night to make sure I knew he wasn’t okay with any of it.

One more message from him and I’m reporting him. I DO not and WILL not take being fucked around with on a social network.

And what goes through people’s minds? That this kind of behavior will reflect any better on them? That I’ll change my mind and say ‘oh, sorry! you’re so upset; let me take it all back’? Um…nope. Should be a clue that it took me as long as it did to say what I said. Time = thought. I thought long and hard about it. Thought about my ethics and moral stance, thought about the friendship, forgiveness, taking the higher road – all of it.

So let me make this utterly clear one more time:

I am not some messiah, willing or able to turn the other cheek after you abuse me.

Expecting me to be is on YOUR head. Telling me I’m wrong for my feelings is on YOUR head.

I’m not wrong. Now let me throw back your own language at you.

Suck it up, snowflakes. You big fucking babies! Whine, whine, whine. Sorry you’re so fucking stupid you don’t realize that when you shout obscenities at me and my friends, when you take away our rights, or when you destroy the planet I react with anger. I think your ignorance is on your own head, too. Read a book!

Went to the gym yesterday to try and burn it out. Two hours. I was tired, less angry afterwards, but not completely calm (obviously).

Didn’t help that my language lesson lacked ANY sense of direction. First, we were asked to pull random words out of the fucking air and make sentences. Then we were told to use ‘omdat’ (because) and corrected on grammar without being told the grammatical rules. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be learning. Couldn’t take anything down because the instructors said the correct sentences once and then quickly moved on. I was bored, angry for having my time wasted, and frustrated because I now KNOW how much better a lesson can be.

Fucking hell!

Happy news: have all of next week off. Thursday is Hemelvaartsdag (Ascension Day), and Friday a lot of stuff is closed to ensure a long weekend. Perfect for me! An entire week free of classes or appointments. I can write. Get the radio script loaded into the software, make the formatting changes, send it out and move onto the next script. Already stepped out the scenes for the next one in my brain. I think I can do it with 4 actors and very minimal set dressing. Can’t wait to get started; it’s timely, creepy, and easy to do as a production.

…You know, if I keep coming up with these horror/Twilight Zone plays, I’m gonna get a reputation for being able to write them. Maybe I can; it IS what I’m coming up with. But I think it’s all a fluke. I’m just stumbling into them. Discovering them by accident. I’m not setting out to write them. Gotta admit, they’re fun to create. And maybe I should let go of any expectations I have of myself. If I turn into a female Clive Barker, well…that’s not all bad, is it?

Ha! Listen to me. Dodging the flack thrown at my head and accepting my limitations and abilities. Now, that IS really growing up!

Can a person hit puberty at 51?

 

F*ck

Remember meds refills tomorrow. Don’t forget methotrexate; take the box in (no refill number). Stop by doctor’s office regarding hearing problem.

Today’s tidy up seems so much more impressive after a few days of intensive scrubbing. Things are just cleaner. Unfortunately there’s pain radiating from my wrist, so keep it light for a few days – no heavy lifting, no wonky wrist activity. Better to maintain at this level than overdo it for one day, resulting in long term inactivity – again. Got to put in that ‘again’ to remind myself.

Break these bad habits.

Contracts: ugh. No other word for it. My first form on the chop block was pretty standard. Now I’m stepping into custom territory, and it’s all a big soup of this term or that, specific clauses and uniform language. Taking a day off. Need more examples. Need a bleeding law degree to do this right, but reminding myself that anything I can tackle is one less thing we have to pay for.

Managed to stave off my second smoke until noon. Not as good as I’d like; not as bad as I’d feared.

Really should get into the shower later. I have to go out there soon, and that means people will be able to smell me (even if I still can’t).

Is this repetitious merry-go-round gonna stop anytime soon?

Find myself picking up hard of hearing habits. I tilt my head towards sound sources, trying to make out what’s going on. When people talk, I do my best to watch their lips. It helps me fill in what I’m missing. Ye gods! I don’t want this to become my normal. It’s interesting, tho, how quickly I’ve adopted these tactics.

Worried today. My bro’s in more meetings. Goddess, let things go well. Worried about his stress level, his health, the outcome, finances to cover all this, my health and physical ability to take another move, pain levels, lack of smoke and smoking too much, going off meds (again), red tape, prejudices and national level pay-back.

Worried that no one cares.

Find it difficult to occupy myself during the day when so many of my usual options are closed to me. Shouldn’t even be typing this, with my wrist pain, but if I don’t my head will explode and no one wants that. Music? Nope. Cleaning? Again, nope. Writing? Not right now. Even holding a book hurts my wrist. I really should be sitting in my chair, watching tv, and doing nothing with my hand. Which is probably undoubtedly where I’ll end up.

That just sucks. For a day or two once in a while, maybe. Okay, even. But day after day because of this health problem or that painful joint? Drives me fucking insane. And it seems I always fall into this rut, where one thing after another keeps me down for extended periods of time. Insane laughter upon insane laughter because this is me being kind to my body. Push it and all I hear is ‘you shouldn’t do that’ or ‘you can’t continue to do that’.

Fuck.

How much?

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Me: There’s this high pitched ringing in my ear that doesn’t go away…it’s driving me crazy!

Nurse: Try this for a week.

A week! Forgive me if I start to just post Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz in future. I can’t hear much else. And insanity just around the corner has always been a danger for me….

Got outside the apartment for my physio appointment. A short span of fresh air did me good; I feel stronger mentally. Still the same physically – oh, with an added cough from the sinus spray they’ve got me on now (ugh). Today the winds are whipping and the rain pouring, so it’s a no-go zone for moi.

Heard from friends. Love them to bits for throwing me a life line when I needed it. Just a little direct contact means so much.

Feel a shift coming on. A life shift. It’s big, whatever it is. I hope it includes full acceptance of my age and physical capabilities. That’s what I’ve been struggling with. Being this side of cool. Let’s face it: I’ve never been here before and I don’t know how to handle it. My parents were two generations older than me and while they might have been cool at 20, they were already a long ways away from their coolness by the time I came around. My DNA siblings were never cool.

I did see a beautiful woman once, and it’s a memory I hang onto. She was old, older than old – full of wrinkles and sagging skin. And she stood proudly in the street, with her hair multicolored and a clubbing outfit hanging off her that probably should have been on a woman half her age. She defied me to see her. And I saw her. I saw her and smiled. Not because I thought she looked ridiculous. Not at all. It was because I was taking a picture in my head. I wanted to remember her always. That proud woman, thumbing her nose at every age convention. Yes, I thought. Now that’s something to aim for.

Oh, I want to be one of those people you hear about. Someone who skydives at 90 or runs a marathon or keeps their smile on no matter what misfortune befalls them. I fall short most days. There are still moments of energy and youth and optimism that burn so bright you can’t help but notice, but for the most part my feathers have lost their color and I have become a wallflower – passed by, and unnoticed. I know I’m mixing my metaphors. Who cares? I’m old enough to get away with a little madness.

I guess the only question remaining is: how much madness can I get away with?