onetwothreefourfivesix

Step 1: Turn off the news.

Step 2: Cut my long fingernails.

Step 3: Turn on the Trance station. Aaaah! Soothing.

Step 4: Close the curtains. Need darkness.

Step 5: Clear my head.

Step 6: Write.

Spent time yesterday frustrating myself by trying out that new Scrivener software. Ugh! Horrible formatting for radio. Fucking horrible! Ended up returning to my simplistic Word template and fudging it around until I got PDF print that looked good to me. It’s sent out already to a theatre in Florida. Had the whole week scheduled to dick around with it. Shoulda known I didn’t have the patience for a week of editing.

A week free. What new project can I take on?

Ah, yes. A bit I began on January 6 (computers ARE useful for keeping track of things like dates for you). Google: monologues and duologues. Bing! Found a fest calling for work due July 1. Funny thing is, it’s in a city I performed in. So I know what they want, what they’re used to, and what I should expect.

Good mini project to take on. Enough time, certainly. Even enough time to write it in Scrivener and give it one more chance to wow me.

Heard from my ex-pen pal on FB. Again. Still blaming me, still justifying himself. Now stating conflicting things, and I don’t know what to believe. The only thing I know for sure is he’s showing me his true face. The name calling, the manipulation games, the attempts to coerce me into guilt. If he’d come at me gently, asking for me to talk to him please, I might have responded. But not this! I know what this is – a narcissist’s game. I grew up with that shit and will not deal with it anymore in my life. Screw you. Still. In deference to our friendship, I’m giving him his one last shout at me without blocking him. I know he’s hurt, and lashing out. But that’s it. He’s used up all my gentleness and compassion.

And maybe I should just block him now. My history shows I have a habit of attracting stalkers and weirdos. I know he doesn’t get that this is me being kind to him. I could have written a long, torrid message explaining exactly why I found everything about his stance so offensive. I could have ripped him a new asshole. I didn’t. I chose to quietly say goodbye. Why bring any of it up? He obviously doesn’t understand. He’s one of those people who’ll nod and say ‘uh-huh’ while simultaneously thinking the opposite. Best I can ever do is take it, and use it in my writing. Create the character. Show him, not tell him. Far more effective.

…Odd to think I once felt at a loss over what to write. I struggled to find story material. Now, there’s so much to write about. So very much. It’s almost formulaic. Follow the rules, and begin. Keep to your outline. Trim, trim, trim it down. And in onetwothreefourfivesix you’ve got 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?

 

I don’t suck dick

This is not where I expected myself to be at 5 something in the morning. Not today. But noise woke me up (lorries? a thunderstorm? someone half a mile away closing their garage door?) and suddenly I couldn’t sleep anymore because one thing was on my mind: I’ve got a 45 supporter as a friend on FB, and that needed to change and change right away.

My longterm online correspondence (10 years or more) has ended. I opted to keep it simple – I can’t be friends with someone who voted for 45. Farewell. That’s a kinder message than members of my family received. Unfriend.

I should really go through my FB ‘friends’ and unfriend them ALL unless I know for sure they didn’t vote for the orange orangutang. That’ll leave me with a handful of people. *sigh* Just too lazy to do it. I only post derogatory news items of The Orange One and occasionally cuss on FB. It’s un-cool as a social website. Sometimes I think about just deleting my account, but then I remember the South Park episode when Stan tried to do that.

I don’t want to get sucked into a lame 80s cyber world.

Second dental cleaning yesterday because it was three years since I had it done and there’s just a lot of work to be done. The new hygienist was brutal. Had me spitting blood.

My teeth look amazingly white, tho.

Reason to feel both jealous and hopeful: yesterday’s language lesson found me sitting in with another student and teacher because my usual teacher is off on holiday. And DAMN! I’d really like to permanently switch to this new instructor. She was probably a teacher in real life. First, we had reading to do. Then questions to answer. Then complicated words to pronounce. Then a spelling test. Then simple chatting over our opinions on the story. It was THE most thorough lesson I’ve ever had. I was corrected on pronunciation and syllable emphasis. English was readily swapped to when needed. My grammar was corrected, and sentences were spoken to me slowly, clearly, and repeated until I got every single word precisely. SO jealous I don’t have her as a regular instructor. Also hopeful that I can find a teacher out there who’ll really teach me rather than sit there half bored as I try to read aloud.

Went into overtime using my Dutch when a knock at the door revealed two workers from the local Buurtwerk (neighborhood work) group. They’re out covering their areas, checking in with residents and asking about the neighborhood. What’s good about living here? What’s not good about living here? I stumbled through with my pidgin Dutch. Sure, I made grammar mistakes. Sure, I inserted English when I didn’t know the Dutch. Point is, they understood me and I understood them. Progress!

Inclement weather. The skies are grey, the clouds low and threatening. Please send us a good, ripping thunderstorm! I love thunderstorms. The sheer power let loose strikes me dumb. I just stand in front of the window, looking. And I’m 14 years deprived of thunderstorms; Ireland didn’t have them. So gimme, gimme, gimme!

Preparing mentally to dive into editing mode with this new software. Almost there. I find editing like reading Dutch: I can do it any time, but how well I do it depends on my mental prep. When my head’s there, it goes super fast. When my head isn’t there I spend most of time going over three lines and not being able to get beyond them.

Naturally money is tight. Tighter than tight. Another big bill showed up. Apparently it was a February bill that someone forgot to send to us, and now they want their money. All my doctor’s visits hit at the same time, so that’ll cost us. And the exchange rate is for shit. Goddess! Whatever happened to the idea that the euro was created to be a one on one challenge to the dollar? Thanks, Nixon, for killing the gold standard and hanging all the world’s currencies on the mighty US dollar. Stupidest move ever. Now currency manipulators use their power to create false values to world currencies. Just another slave game by the 1%.

Caught myself last night thinking that there’s a whole part of life I never let myself experience. Family, home, kids, cars, job. That stray thought occurred to me during a car commercial. Not sure what it was about that ad that triggered me. But trigger me it did, and a flood of all I’ve missed came whooshing towards me followed by regret and fear. Was able to recognize I was chasing that ‘grass is greener on the other side’ idea; I was reacting to an idyllic scenario, not anything based in reality. Oh, wouldn’t it be great to be young and in love and have lots of money and be thin and beautiful all at the same time. Fuck yeah, it would! I always thought so. But should we really allow ourselves to lead around by this carrot on a stick that’s only ever available to a chosen few? Goddess! And I’ve heard some of these chosen few espouse the idea that this was their destiny, the almighty guided them to it, blah blah puke blah. Um…it was chance. Luck. Chaos. A roll of the dice.

Or the dick you sucked.

There’s one thing about me that’s always been true, and I guess my life reflects it.

I don’t suck dick.

A whole new animal

Sorted through the umpteen million PDFs of writing opportunities I’ve got on my desktop. Good thing, too. While many are just getting catalogued – found them too late for this year, so I’m saving the info to have a head start on next year’s calls – a couple caught my eye. One call is for a 30 minute play due September 1. I can make that. I can write Night Witches and still make that. So now my schedule is sorted. First up, my radio script. Transferring it into Scrivener, a writing software designed to handle real projects: scripts – radio, theatre (US and UK), film – research papers, books. There’s so much in Scrivener I’m having a difficult time getting through the instructional information. Pretty sure I’ll pop for the full version. It’s loaded and it works on my older operating system. But I’ve gotta see what happens when I transfer in something I’ve already written. How much formatting will hold? Probably none. I won’t kid myself there. Good news is, formatting is the easiest (tho most boring) part of writing a script. So, in goes the radio script. Add a few things here and there for the next place I’m submitting to. Take a deep breath, ’cause there’s no break allowed – straight onto the 30 minute script. One month max for it while simultaneously reading the book on the Night Witches. Have time to schedule a read through with the local theatre group if anyone’s actually around during summer (other than me). Send it out, start writing Night Witches pronto. Leaving myself a couple of months to flesh in the story, call for a read through, and still have more than 30 days left to fix any problems and polish it up before I submit it.

Also just spent time thinking about my personal schedule. I’ve got this tendency to diss myself and everything I do – you might have noticed. So I counted. Counted the hours I spend exercising for my RA, the hours in language class, the hours for doctors and physio and dentist visits, and with a mere 4 hours given over to writing Monday through Friday I’m topped out at 40 hours a week. To take care of myself, and do a little bit of writing. 40 bleeding hours – full time shit. No wonder some part of me balks at volunteering time anywhere; must have already known I’m maxed out.

Rehearsals are called for next week Monday. Three hours in the evening slated to read through the entire play (all 4 skits) and talk about character development (or some such theatrical jargon that’ll make everyone feel like they’re involved and participating when it’s really the director giving instructions to actors too dense to understand their roles). Want to watch and listen with my writer’s perspective; I tend to distance myself emotionally from the situation when I fall into observation mode. I stay calmer because people become characters acting things out in front of me. They’re not mean or nasty towards me; they’re showing me a scared and callous side of themselves. Remember that! I intend on watching the girlfriend of the director closely. Big surprise she made the cut – not. At the moment, I’ve got her pegged as the biggest see-saw of the bunch: loudest mouth, most unsure about her talent (as am I; never seen her try to act), and most likely to get thrown off balance by something not connected with the production.

My head’s wagering on what’s gonna happen. This chick is the one who was disruptive during my reading. I think I’ve sussed out all the possibilities for that behavior. Now she’s got to deal with me in this production. Cold shoulder, or false best friend? How will she react? Odds are I’ll get the false best friend. Forced cheerfulness. Inclusion when possible in order to sneak in those barbs that can’t be called out because they’re too deep in entendre. Oh, yes. Been there, done that. It’s what I expect.

But I’m not the person I was thirty years ago. I’m not so easily disrupted. I’ve a few good foundations to cling to, to remind me of what’s true and what’s not. Don’t know what she expects of me. Maybe she doesn’t know either. What I do know is this: I believe I have the capability to handle whatever she throws at me and not lose my cool. Because one thing is absolutely clear to me – I don’t care if she likes me or not. I saw her real face early on, at one of our meetings, and had that analysis confirmed during my script read through. I don’t like her, and I don’t want to be her friend. She’s got nothing to hook me with, nothing to hold over me, nothing to use against me. Wanna diss me on my work, my looks, my age? Go on! Nothing I haven’t said to myself. Nothing you’re gonna say that’s any worse or harder than what my own brain comes up with to taunt me. I shall laugh. Laugh at her, laugh at her attempts to unhinge me.

No, I’m not the child I was. I’m a whole new animal.

Down to the bones

It’s happened. I’m a true Rotterdammer. At least, I’m true in the sense that I can make my way around the city sans map and reach my destination no matter what the road block. Good thing, too, since I had to reach the hospital to have my x-rays done and the entire city came to a crashing halt to hold tribute to their victorious football team. Oh, it was all jerseys and scarves downtown, mad mobs bent on having a good time despite it being Monday. When I realized all the trams were down, my head reached into some hidden compartment and out popped a map, complete with metro, tram, and bus lines (backup: the line of taxis always present around Rotterdam Centraal). No sense of panic. Hopped on the D line metro, off at a stop my English speaking mind continues to insist calling “Melancholy Way” even tho that’s not the translation, and a quick northern line tram hop to the hospital. My butt didn’t even hit the chair before I was called in, stripped down, x-rayed, and sent back out.

I was on my way home by 9:50, the time of my actual appointment.

Short break at home to tidy up: dishes, garbage, ashtrays, bed-making.

Off to the gym, where my body hit its stride after 40 minutes of exercise and things really started to kick in for me. The sweat flowed down my face. My heart rate reached 140 and hovered there. Didn’t want to stop, so I just kept going. Full on work-out, complete with free weight reps.

Had that satisfactory aching butt muscle feeling last night. Good.

Dinner by 4, because I skipped lunch as I generally do and once my work-out is done I need food and need it NOW. My bro volunteered to get Turkish pizzas and of course I said yes. Who can say no to a Turkish pizza? So I stuffed my face with flat bread wrapped savory meats and veg topped with hot sauce. Yummy.

Heard from the theatre group. The director is organizing rehearsal time. Amazingly, this group is scheduled to rehearse from now ’til July, when summer holidays begin. Then we’ll rehearse AGAIN post summer holiday. Don’t know why they need so long to memorize such short bits. Also noticed the people who were notified; other than myself, I saw no new members – just the same old people who make up the core group. Mm. Bit of favoritism? Can’t say for certain, since I wasn’t present for all the auditions. Happy enough to be included this time, tho I’ve got to admit to a sad feeling for everyone else who wasn’t chosen. Sure know how that feels, and it’s not nice.

Organizing info on theatre submission opportunities. Pulled a lot; now I’ve got to schedule it if I’ve a hope of making any deadlines. Found one or two places to try sending out my radio script, as well. Really need a helper. Someone to take care of this scheduling and sending so I can concentrate on writing more. Been saying THAT for years.

Click, click, click. I can feel the gears moving. Something in the grand scheme of things has shifted. Starting to understand Dutch without trying. Still have to listen closely; there’s still plenty of mumblers out there! But when a person does speak clearly enough, I don’t have to work quite so hard anymore. Noticed it on the metro yesterday. Reading Dutch has just become reading; not figuring out a foreign language, but reading a story. Yes, there are still words I stumble over but my head thinks less on that and more on the tale. And writing…writing has become something else, too. I no longer feel I’m stumbling around, trying to write. I’m just doing it. Cutting out the fat, closing the loopholes, catching the grammar mistakes earlier on – there’s no longer a question of whether my material is good. The question has become have you streamlined this piece down to the skeleton? You can always add back in a few lines, fluff it out if needed for timing – but you gotta get that story down clearly first. Condense your message down to one sentence, and stick to it.

Take it down to the bones.

I want it to happen

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A rare word to my followers: thanks. I’ve picked up a few newbies this week, and received some comments that have boosted my mood. It’s gratifying to know someone out there connects with what I write. I’m late in replying, late in acknowledging awards, late in reading and commenting on your words – and I know it. That’s my bad. I haven’t forgotten you or meant to diss you. I’m just a bit lost in my own life.

My head is full of English. Another bad on me. Three people spoke to me at the pool this morning, and I did my fall back: smile, nod, and laugh a bit if their body language and facial expression indicates that’s appropriate. Make non-committal noises. Mmm-hmm and uh-huh are my two biggies. Did I understand them? A little. Not enough for two years living here, not enough in my book – although I’ll admit my book is a tall tome that’s intimidating to read and twice as scary to live. My grasp of Dutch is a constant struggle. And active listening is a pain in my ass! I want to hear and understand. Right now, I hear and have to think, translate, sort out the sounds that are thrown at me at such a fucking rapid pace I can barely distinguish where one word ends and another starts. It’s so much work!

The writing has begun. Nothing on paper. Nothing will go down on paper for a while. But the scenes have begun. The words are flowing. The ideas are coming. My time spent on the radio drama was very worthwhile; I’ve learned that short ideas grow into long pages all by themselves. All I need to do is find my short ideas, the three main areas I’ll circle around during each act. Act 1 is obvious: set up. Introduce the characters, the scene, the setting, the conflict. I know one character dies, tho I’m uncertain if that’s Act 2 or 3. And I’m thinking ahead, of the resolution. Do I end it with the end of the war? Not sure I like that idea. Too bleeding obvious.

Keep hearing music in this thing, too. Keep seeing characters burst into song. It’s not what I want to focus on, and I find it distracting. Though I’ve got to admit…I’ve had ideas for one or two songs that I might include. Showing the solidarity of these women through singing is appealing.

…Better check the rules. If they allow musicals…maybe. That’s all I’ll say. Maybe.

Shocker: came home from the pool to find my brother had the dishes done. I was doubly surprised considering he’s busy with writing and busy with beginning of the month stuff like paying bills. It was pretty nice, though. Volunteered to make an easy dinner tonight to take the stress of cooking off him.

Tomorrow I go downtown, get my blood tests done, and copies of the script printed up for Thursday’s read through. Where will my head be at by Friday morning? Should I even be thinking about that? Guess I’ve got to, on some level. There’s still the final touches on the radio script: last minute edits and final numbering. Technically, it’s not done yet. Just gotta keep it together a bit longer, though I already feel the pull of the next piece dragging me away from this world.

And I want it to happen.

It would be nice, though

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Got up this morning extra early and on purpose so I could write, and now I’m staring at the blankness of my post and wondering what the hell to say.

Start with the good. I can walk without pain. That’s a biggie. Off pain pills, down to an occasional paracetamol in the evening. Want to get back to the gym today for a long, slow exercise session. I am very aware my attitude goes to shit when I experience pain (note: pain for me lies somewhere between 5 and 8 on the 1 to 10 pain scale; anything less than a 5 is just discomfort). If more people were aware of that…but they aren’t, and they’re all too busy with their own thoughts and lives to think to ask why I’m in such a shitty mood so often. The answer is simple: pain. I’ve a lot more of it than I talk about.

It’s May. The Netherlands celebrated the coming of this merry month with a 20C sunny day – warmest to date, and followed up by a grey, dingy morning promising rain and feeling twice as cold as it actually is because it falls the day after such summery warmth. Nonetheless, May means movement; time has marched on. There’s the script read through. Several doctor appointments. More language lessons. Deadlines to meet. And I must begin haunting some of my online emails for replies to earlier script send-outs.

Worried about a lot. Worried my ears are gonna get sliced and diced at the doc’s, and I’ll have to spend the summer keeping out of the water. Worried the ear doc is gonna say there’s nothing they can do to rid me of this continual ringing. Worried I’ll get yet more rejections on my writing. Worried about my residency status. …There’s so much to worry about it kind of cancels itself out. Just becomes a wall of grey noise.

Do not want to begin writing on a new project before I’ve wrapped up my last, so I’m keeping myself busy. Playing games. Watching Twin Peaks again. Doing what I can to help around the house. Giving my brother as much time as possible each and every day for him to do his writing. Keep telling myself thank you. Thank you, Beeps, for doing the dishes. Thank you, Beeps, for cleaning under the bookcase in the hall. I gotta say it, because my bro is too wrapped up in writing mania to acknowledge it. I understand; been there often myself. Feels a little lonely, tho. The only conversation I get is about his book, his writing, his graphics. Wears thin after a while.

Well, now I know what it feels like…and next time, I’ll try a lot harder to pull my head out of my ass when my brother talks to me as I write.

*sigh* But I need concrete, real stuff right now. I need people contact, and laughter. I need things to look forward to. I need my appointments and classes, my weekly and monthly routine. Feels like my dreams are pulling away from me; all the old comforts I told myself for years and years don’t offer the same protection as they once did. Realized I still dream as a 20 year old. The only difference is now I dream with the sole purpose of escaping my worries. I don’t really think any of it will happen.

It would be nice, though.