Enjoy me

Permission granted.

I got through to myself. Obviously. After posting yesterday, my energy was sucked down a giant vortex. The animal and I were ready to rest.

However. My bro brought home some fresh pears a day before we realized I had shingles. He gleefully told me he’d bought them in the hopes I’d make a pie. You know pears: perfectly great right up to the moment they go. I didn’t want to disappoint my brother yet again, so I pulled out my recipe books and took a look. Had a lime sitting on the counter, left over from an Indian dish, and two pears. Many a times I’ve used lemon with pear or apple in a pie, but never lime. What a mistake! Pear and lime pie is out of this world fantastic. I’ll never use lemon again in this dish. Must note that, and if you haven’t tried it, do it asap because you’ll love it. While I’m thrilled I didn’t disappoint my bro, and I made pie that’s not only delicious but also stunning in its presentation, I didn’t really rest. Between prep, cooking, and cleaning, I was on my feet most of the afternoon.

Maybe it was a good thing. Burn out the remainder of that energy in me doing something constructive. That’s what I’m telling myself. But today, I feel beat. Bone tired. It’s only the caffeine in my coffee that’s keeping me awake.

Ah…at least I’m not crying every minute. That’s where I was. Not just exhausted, but exhausted (literally) to tears, crying every five minutes without knowing why I was crying. I don’t know if that’s a good thing, being so emotionally affected by my physical health and vice versa. People say being disconnected from your body is somehow wrong, a bad thing. I seem to be on the opposite end of the spectrum. I’m not just connected to my body, I’m integrated. Hurt me physically and I feel it emotionally. Hurt me emotionally and it manifests itself physically. That can’t be good. It doesn’t feel good.

Oh, Beeps! Drop the labels. It is what it is.

Noting a tendency to gravitate to family programming. I want that fairy tale, everything turns out all right in the end story right now. It’s as much chicken soup for my soul as the chicken soup my bro made for dinner last night was for my body. It feeds me, nourishes me, makes me feel whole and strong again. I know that’s probably silly. Or childish. But losing faith in the inherent rightness of things is a hollow feeling. And yes, I’m one of the first to cry out in horror when that rightness isn’t met in real life – and I do it a lot. Yet, I still have that thread of faith. As I’ve grown older, I’ve likened it in my head to believing in Santa Claus. People begin to tell you Santa doesn’t exist, that’s not the real world. There are even people out there who aren’t just willing but who want to shove your face into the shit, mushing it up your nose, sliming it across your face, to prove to you once and for all that there is zero reason for believing in anything good. It’s hard to keep your faith. In anything: God, yourself, Santa. But I decided a long time ago I didn’t want to become a hollow person, and I’ve fought to keep hold of that innocence in me. It is precious, and oh so rare. And it is why, I think, people always say I seem so ‘young’. I’m not young. I’m very experienced, in many ways that might turn your hair white. But despite the experience, I haven’t grown a hard shell. I did, once. I ripped it off, and it was as painful as you might imagine. It’s been painful ever since because to keep this attitude, you’ve got to be willing to keep feeling that hurt. You’ve got to go out there and hope for the best. Be willing to be taken for a ride because you won’t pre-judge. Be willing to let go, when needed. It hurts. No amount of previous scarring prepares you for the next bout of pain, and it HAS to be that way.

Your love has to be absolute. No strings attached. Given, without asking for anything in return. It is the most vulnerable thing you can ask yourself to do. But, as so often happens in life, it is in that vulnerability you are actually strong. You can’t expect yourself to walk around in it 24/7. But you can reach for those times when it’s possible. You’ll find it in yourself at the oddest moments, when you least expect it. Give it, and watch what happens. I’ve rolled over people with anger, with dignity, with piety and all sorts of emotional back-lash stuff. But roll over people with joy and love! It’s a tidal wave. They don’t know how to react.

And isn’t that a sad thing? That when faced with that kind of behavior, most of us stop completely because we don’t know what to do. It’s tricky, I’ll give you that. Too much schmaltz in any direction and your absolute love without strings becomes enmeshed in some philosophy or intellectual pursuit and loses all its power. It must be raw, and pure. Unspoken, even. It is a light that fills me, and I know when I radiate it.

It’s been my life goal to radiate that light full time. To live there. I have an instinctual feeling that if I did that, I’d burn out fast. It’s a conundrum. Reach without reaching. Burn without burning. Be, without asking.

I must appear so small to the Universe. A dust mote, hanging in the cosmic sunshine. Something that may temporarily catch your attention, but too short-lived to enjoy for more than a moment or two.

Well, this is my moment.

Enjoy me.

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Hugs

You can tell a lot about your relationship with someone by the way they hug you. Space left between, loose arm hold, fast release…you know when the hug is social, something they feel they must do rather than something they want to do.

I received one such hug yesterday. It came from the student who had to leave the country; her visa is up and she’s going home in a week. I noticed she sat a seat or two apart from the rest of us as we watched the film, and she didn’t join in the conversation often. Maybe the final production was tough. Maybe there was tension and some sort of fight over the film. Or, more likely, she was already feeling too much and she didn’t want to ache worse by engaging with us and then saying good-bye. I’m sad to think that. But I totally understand. The rest of the hugs I received ranged from true friendship to intense love. And I was a glutton, asking for hugs when meeting and hugs when leaving. Gimme, gimme, gimme. I don’t get many hugs, and I wanted to store them up. Plus, I love these people. Totally.

Was happy to find the people I felt most strongly about also felt the same way in return: their hugs told me so. Did not want to leave their company. I also did not want to force them into hanging out with me all day, so we did eventually end the afternoon. But the end came with promises of more calls, more visits – after exams and deadlines, which all seem to be happening in the next ten days. Asked S if I’d offended her with any of my comments on her writing. How I love this young woman! She turned shining eyes – really, her eyes were shining – to me and said ‘Oh, no! You gave me so much great information; I really appreciate it!’ and went on to tell me about the exam and deadline schedule. We have plans to get together once her calendar quiets down, to really talk about the script. And she’s promised (like a teenaged best friend) to help me with my hair and make-up on the night of the awards ceremony (which is black tie – gulp!).

Oh! I have a friend!

Talked a bit about my writing. Mentioned how I want to take my work to film. Everyone wants to continue working in the industry. And the director said, on the way out, ‘maybe we should just do another one’, meaning maybe we could get together and film MY story. He mentioned how little some films are made for, the funding and support available here in NL. I responded enthusiastically, saying my stuff is made for the stage so it’s already story heavy and FX light. …I know it’s not Ridley Scott or some other famous director, but the very idea has me all a-tingle. It might happen. I might see my script on the big screen.

Speaking of the big screen, OH MY GODDESS! Now I understand why Hollywood actors starve themselves. That screen blows you up to inhuman proportions. It doubles your size, and doubles your flaws. The part of me that always wants to look attractive winced. We used overhead lighting in the shoot – the type designed to throw shadows under any puffiness and exaggerate every crease and wrinkle. Ugh! I looked awful. And when I tucked my chin in, the skin on my neck just hung there all flabby and gross. But the part of me still addicted to being attractive is pretty weak. She gasped once or twice in my head, horrified at our appearance. Then the rest of me shut her up. We’re clay, I told myself. This is what they wanted. Look at the final product. And even she had to admit it added to this off feeling in the scenes, the tension and the something’s not right here that we wanted the audience to feel.

Oh, the excitement! The joy! All those times I was forced to work in groups, all those times I was told to pull as a team… I never felt it, and I never was in a group I felt included in. Not until the film. Now, I get it. I get the power of a team. I get the power of working together. It. is. amazing. And it’s effortless and fun and full of so many good feelings I often find myself near or in tears.

Guess I haven’t let myself care this much very often. I’ve wanted to, I’ve just not found people I felt I could trust with…all of this. I want to dance and sing, jump up and down. Show them all how much I love them. Support them, cheerlead for them, listen and help and be happy as I see them succeed in life. And I don’t want to freak any of them out, either. This old woman who’s so odd. Who just walked into their lives and now has set up camp. Trying to limit myself. Give a lot, but hold back from the all because…well, it almost overwhelms me. I don’t feel right burdening someone with it – and that’s what it feels like, even tho I’m so very focused on their happiness. Too much of anything isn’t good. So I shine that light on them, that bright burning joy I have around them, when I’m in their presence. Then, I try to tone it down. Not hound them every minute with it. I could; I’d like to write to each of them right now and tell them how much I love them.

I said it yesterday. Not with my words. That might sound weird. I told them how proud I was of them, how happy I am with the film, how much I loved being a part of it all, how I knew they’d all go on to be great successes. But my hugs said more. That’s how I told them I loved them.

Lovesick

*deep, lovesick sigh* Will I ever be able to have a physio appointment and NOT fall in love with my therapist? …Doubtful. I seem to be made hard-wired to like this guy. Everything about him – his looks, his voice, his mind, his attitude – I can’t help but like him. I’ve tried to keep cool. Be distant. But after each and every appointment, I feel love sick. I hoard up memories of his words and the jokes we share as if they mean something. Ach! I could spend a fortune on appointments just to have more time with him.

Today I’m getting walloped by a side comment he made about my hair. I told him the day is coming; it’s getting chopped off. Immediately his voice took on a slightly pleading tone: Why? I’ve heard that response before, in that tone of voice. It’s a ‘I really find your hair attractive, please don’t cut it off’ thing. And the very female response he brings out in me is now screaming to keep the hair long, deal with it. He likes it. Never once does this side of me ask if I like my hair this long. She’s only concerned with the impact it makes on other people. Especially people she finds intensely attractive.

…Still nothing in my inboxes regarding my work. I’m beginning to bite my nails.

I did manage to finally finish J’s story, and after several attempts, a note to him about it. Oh, that note! I re-wrote it and re-wrote it. I wanted to be up front about some technical issues. I wanted to be clear. Not mean, not cutting, just truthful. And bless J’s heart, he read it as I intended. Thanked me for pointing out the tech side of things, and admitted that he knew these were problem areas in his writing. I received a very long reply, detailing his ideas for his world and the characters. The message wound up with a ‘I’ve got low energy and loads of depression right now, so I’m not writing at the moment’. I replied, telling him to try and use that. His world is depressive; let that reflect in some of his characters. He ended up asking if he could quote me on FB. I said sure, thinking it would be one or two lines from my message. Nope. The whole thing, with praise heaped on my head for bringing these ideas to his attention. He told me he never once considered putting his depression into his stories. In his blog, yes. But in his stories? No. I could hardly believe it.

Please don’t tell me the majority of stories about depression are written by non-depressive people. It’s probably true; it has that ring of ‘yep, that’s reality’ in it.

No wonder the world is so fucked. We’ve been fed one viewpoint – a false viewpoint, with limited and restricting stereotypes laced throughout – our entire history. Stories about black people written by whites. Stories about women written by men.

Good Goddess! Write what you know!

More: write what you are. If you’re a man, write about men. If you’re gay, write about homosexuality. If you’re a woman, write about women. Don’t try to get tricky, don’t think you know what it’s like to walk in another person’s shoes. You think you know, but you don’t. Leave the truth telling to the people who’ve been through it every damned day of their lives. That, more than anything, seems to be lacking. The overriding, all-encompassing shit we ‘minorities’ face day in and day out. If you haven’t had to deal with people ignoring you because you’ve got big breasts, or dissing what you say out of hand because of the color of your skin, you don’t get it. Our minds are not wired to imagine such slurs on a regular basis, such degradation in everything we see and hear and touch. And it changes everything. People like to imagine themselves being strong and brave in these situations. People get it wrong. Because when you’re a dog beaten for no reason and locked up in a cage all your fucking life, you develop certain behaviors and attitudes that are not strong nor brave. It’s easy to be heroic when you step into a bad situation after a lifetime of support and real love. But if you’re that beaten dog, heroics are something you dream about, not something you do. You’re too enmeshed in freeing yourself from your restraints.

*grumble, grumble, and grouse…*

…So today I need to walk into my language lesson and tell them I’m not continuing this semester. Thursday lessons just aren’t worth it. There’s no lesson plan, no structure. The room is big and loud. It’s difficult at best to hear. I think my time is far better spent doing my Monday homework, extra reading, and watching more films and programs in Dutch. Structure, repetition, and clear speaking. That’s what I need. Not a teacher who’s half afraid of me and half doesn’t like me. Not a ‘lesson plan’ that dithers here and there without any clear direction. Not an extra student who, when she shows up, pulls the entire experience back to a lower level I’ve moved beyond. I need to keep moving forward. Not sure what to expect today. My plan is to take nothing; I’m not staying. Just show up and talk to my teacher. Tell her I can’t afford to pay for both Monday and Thursday lessons, and since I must choose, I choose Monday lessons. The other reasons…if I was offered Thursdays for free, I’d go. No skin off my nose. Then I’d view it as one more opportunity to just use the language. But it’s not worth paying for. Last semester, my fellow student didn’t have to pay. We’ll see if that occurs for me. I don’t expect it.

Get to the gym. Make sure I’m ready to head to Den Haag tomorrow.

*sigh* And work, once more, to free myself from this lovesick feeling.

Heaven makes a good cup of coffee

I was real ready for a good night’s sleep. Instead, I couldn’t get comfortable. Seemed even worse than the last few days. Finally drifted off, to wake up at 4:30 FROM A CAFFEINE HEADACHE BECAUSE I FORGOT TO DRINK ENOUGH COFFEE YESTERDAY WITH SEEING THE DOCTOR.

Damn!

So I am awake. Nursing one of those stupid caffeine headaches that will disappear once I drink my coffee. And may I say, I’m pleased enough to be up and grousing about a stupid caffeine headache! Funny how things like that get turned around after awhile.

For the first time in a week, I feel I can think again. Even contemplated writing this morning (serious writing, that is). Not sure I’ll go there, but it feels good to be able to string a few coherent thoughts together without getting interrupted by pain.

Heard from S, my new friend. Actually, she called me twice and sent me a text message while I was out of it. Did not hear my phone go off once. Filled her in on what’s happening, and bless her heart, she sent me a lovely message full of good wishes and asking if there’s anything she can do. My heart is full. Don’t know how or why I grew to love S and the rest of the crew so much so quickly. It’s like I finally met decent people, and my entire being responded without me thinking. I became nicer, more thoughtful, more gentle. I became who I wanted to be, and I guess that made me love them all the harder – because they’re the ones who made it safe for me to feel this way.

Also heard from someone I knew in Ireland. This woman was my neighbor, and for a short while we were friendly. When I began baking for a local farmer’s market, I went about it the way the law was written. I contacted and got cleared for my kitchen. All sorts of stuff. The upshot of this was the government agent saw the local farmer’s market that I was selling at, and that prompted her to stop by and check out everyone selling something – which raised complete and utter hell. Most of those people were operating very dangerously, in very unhealthy conditions. As usual with those types of people, I became blamed for ‘starting the whole mess’. I was ostracized. My up to that point friendly neighbor cut me off and refused to give me a lift to the market so in the end all that work I did to get certified was useless to me. She also refused to talk to me on any level. And now, she’s trying to reconnect on FB. I unfriended her some months back when I realized I’d never done it. Obviously, we’re not friends. But here she is, asking to be my friend. And gee whiz…it’s right on the heels of the posts about my films. Just gob-smacked at the bald balls this woman has. Seriously? After all that? I’d suggest you begin with an apology for treating me like shit. After that, I might talk to you. But, lady, I’ve sampled your kind of friendship – and I don’t want another helping.

I find it interesting how, on the heels of me saying ‘no’ to various members of my narcissistic family, my life took a fast upswing. Oh, I know I’ve got new issues to deal with now – acceptance, respect, and love. I’m not saying it’s easy. But I’m looking at a possible 2018 with a new film out, a play in the US, and a play here in NL all in the same year. Two of those things will definitely be happening. And who knows? I might get two plays done in the states; I’ve got enough material over there.

My point is that I dithered on the family issue for…well, all my life. And my life showed it: some upswings, but mostly downers. Shed those blood suckers and finally I bloom. I know I’m still stuck at wanting their approval, but it’s amazing how easy it’s been to get respect for me and my work once I let them go. There’s no one to continually tear me down. No one to niggle at me with ‘jokes’ meant to ‘put me in my place’. Just the opposite. And now that the shits are gone, I find myself better able to let in the positives. I really feel buoyed up by the likes on FB and the positive comments. Everyone’s been telling me I haven’t been letting the compliments get in, I just negate them immediately in my head. And they were right, to an extent. That was programming from my family. All those subtle things they’d say that were digs at me. I felt every single one like a knife.

They ruined my fucking life.

And yeah, I know eventually I’ll need to get past that statement, too. Not yet. I’ve a lifetime of anger stored up. That’ll come out, eventually. I hope. I don’t want to spend the rest of my time blaming my family and ignoring my life. I just want to live happily. Enjoy feeling good about myself. Have friends I trust and love. Maybe be able to prevent this from happening to someone else.

The toughest thing about this was sticking to the decision. I was scared it would be hard having little to no family. Cutting everyone off. But standing up for myself was the hardest part. After that, it got easier. Easier than I’d ever imagined. So easy it’s throwing me for a loop.

Maybe this is all mania and morphine. Like I’d know.

But, oh! To have people I click with, people I trust, people I love so easily…now couple that with respect for my work.

Did I die and go to heaven? Maybe so.

And if so, I gotta say: Heaven makes a good cup of coffee.

Moment to moment

Morphine. Mark the day. I’ve avoided it as long as possible because there’s nowhere to go from here, other than more morphine.

Saw my GP this morning. She took me seriously (thank the Goddess; I’m too scarred from docs ignoring me for years). Wanted to know the pressure points – I guided her hand to them with my eyes closed. Far too familiar at this point. Had blood tests to check on a nerve infection. Results were negative, for which I’m thankful. I don’t know what the treatment might have been, but the normally passive face of my doctor was very concerned when she spoke of this possibility. Now I’ve another appointment Monday morning, to discuss the situation.

Pretty sure I’ll hear TMJ. Damn. Should have been a diagnostician. Could have rocked that career. Not sure what it will entail. Maybe a mouth guard. From what I’ve read, they think it’s due to people clenching their jaw while they sleep. The nerve eventually seizes up and the pain is unbearable.

What’s blowing me away is that this occurred at a moment of high success and excitement, not horrible devastating loss.

Does this mean I can’t take success?

I said it was tough to take the compliments. Being acknowledged as a role model. Admired. Loved. All of it.

Am I so screwed up that I can take every rejection and pain without blinking, but love me and I seize up?

Oh, dear Goddess.

I don’t want to accept that. But I can’t deny the possibility of it.

…And the morphine pills have a refill.

Fuck.

I am thankful for the pain relief. Still a dull roar in the side of my head, but I don’t have to hold it or pace in a crazed manner.

I am also thankful for the dull, grey day outside. I don’t think I’d like it if the world looked happy and gleeful when I feel like this. It’s a visual reminder to curl up and take care of myself. My brother is cooking easy to eat, healthy food. Can’t eat much, but at least what I do eat is very healthy. Don’t want to sit too long. I know what can happen to my back. But I’m fairly buzzed. Hoorah. I like buzzed, especially after days of pain. So, walk? Mm. Not today. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have my morphine legs, and walking on the treadmill will be okay. Right now it seems too much.

Watching Downton Abbey. Beautiful fantasy.

Don’t know about school next week. We’ll see how I feel. Don’t know about later today; ditto on that.

This is moment to moment living.

Blend me

There. Downtime taken. Not easy. I was super squirrelly. Couldn’t actually nap, but I rested as much as possible and applied arnica lotion to my bruises throughout the day. Kept getting little jolts of excitement every time I went online, seeing posts from my film friends and friend requests and happily confirmed friendships and DAMN! I’ve never felt like I’ve had this many friends before.

Those feelings from the set are still oozing out of me. No longer from my hands; that part is over. Now it oozes from my eyes, as I tear up thinking about how much fun we had. I just felt so included and wanted. I still do, because of the continued online explosion.

But today it’s back to reality. The big equalizer: scrubbing out the toilet. Doesn’t matter if you’re King or Shit-Sweeper; scrubbing out a toilet brings everyone down to the same level. There’s dishes to clean, garbage to take out, a few items to pick up at the store, laundry to shift around. Get up and get moving again at the gym. Try to keep it all light, drink juice, take a break if I need it.

I still don’t have my holiday lights up yet.

Winter has come to the Netherlands. It’s been here for several days, but I’ve been too busy to pay much attention. Hail, sleet, and snow rain down from the cold skies every day. We might even get a little accumulation before the day is out. Almost hope for it; some of my new friends are from warmer climates and they talked about wanting to see a real snow. 🙂 I refrained from saying anything about ‘real snows’ or drifts five feet high when they said that. Dutch snow, I can handle. Even if a lot comes down, it doesn’t stick around.

…Have to admit, my deepest dreams are for family members to notice my posts about the film and show some interest. Maybe say ‘well done!’ I’m not holding my breath. They’ve had 52 years to tell me ‘well done’, 52 years to support me doing what I love, and so far all they’ve offered me are half-assed jokes at my expense. But I’d be lying if I said any different. I want that recognition from them. I want my mother to be proud of me. I want my father to acknowledge my beauty. Even with both my parents dead, and voluntarily cutting myself off from the rest of the family, I still want it. There’s the saddest thing of all, because I know I’ll never get it. Not from my mother or father. Not from my oldest brother or sister. Not from any of my aunts or uncles on my mother’s side. The extended family from my father’s side has always supported me from the moment time I met them. That was my very first clue: here were family members who took me as family, shared their lives with me in words and pictures, and supported me. Said ‘wow!’ or ‘well done!’ or ‘I’m so excited for you!’ They barely know me – we’ve never actually met in person – and yet they are so much more open and loving than my real family. It told me so much.

And it made me so sad. Oh, I’m done asking why. At least for today. The why doesn’t bloody well matter in the end, does it? The only thing that ends up mattering is what the hell you’re going to do with the mess you got dealt in life.

I see now, in hind sight… Ach! I was going to start saying I should have this or that. Fuck that. I did what I did. Chose how I chose. It taught me things, things I wouldn’t have learned any other way. I’ll embrace that. It’s hard to say thanks for it. Felt like a lot of shit to go thru, but maybe that’s because I’m bull headed and stubborn.

For now, I feel inspired. Fired up with standing up and being noticed. Moving forward for reals. Feels like my feet are firmly planted on the ground. I’m not building castles in the air. I’m not living on pipe dreams. I’m doing. I’m being.

And while part of me wishes I could take this knowledge back to myself and change things, let me make this abundantly clear to the Universe and anyone who’s listening: I DON’T WANT TO GO AROUND AGAIN. I want to see and be in the now, take the joy I can, love who I trust, do what I’m meant to do.

Holy fuck. Am I saying I want to…live?

That word has new meaning for me now. Live used to mean exist. I existed. I put up with the pain. But there’s a whole other dimension to that word. To truly live. Wow. It’s an immense feeling.

I want to keep that feeling, even when I’m scrubbing out the toilet today. I’ll live it. It’s just a tiny seed in the huge fruit of life. It’s hard, and tasteless. You might hurt yourself if you bite down on it too hard. It might be a bit bitter tasting, or slimy, or just gross. Don’t eat it. Consume the fruit. Spit the seeds. Everyone’s been telling me that, in their own words. Stop focusing on all the bad in life. Look on the bright side. Why can’t you take a compliment? But I didn’t have enough fruit. I was getting all seeds. My life was a pomegranate. And I don’t like pomegranates.

I’d been eating life raw. Very raw, and with no help from a cheery television chef telling me how to make this shit edible. Now, it feels like I’ve got a fully stocked kitchen with all the latest gadgets and gizmos. Just hit a switch and all the work is done for you.

Go on; do it.

Blend me.

May I have another?

Behold, the knees. I’m on the left, with the grey socks. My 21 year old co-star is on the right. After cut was called yesterday, we went up to change clothes and compare bruises. Don’t know how many times we ended up doing the death scene, but as you can see, we put everything we had into it.

This has to rank as the number one experience of my life. Been trying to think what might even come close to topping it, and I’m drawing a blank. The dedication of these young film makers – barely any sleep, push, push, and keep a great attitude. The sheer professionalism of them, from the camera work to the thought behind the shots. And damn! They were all so nice. I think I’m in love with each and every one of them.

That love translated into good work. When it came time for the big scene I drew it up – the tears, the despair over watching as your own child turns and kills you. Time after time. It was right there, behind my belly-button, and all it took was a bit of breathing. M, my costar, locked eyes as I went into it. And the further I went, the further she went. We began to feed off each other – the kind of thing you hear about on celebrity talk shows. The room faded, the crew were a background noise. It was the two of us, staring into each other’s eyes, falling into a world of pain and torment. And it. was. glorious. The best work I’ve ever been able to do, because everyone around me was that good.

…To be able to do that… To have an opportunity like that… I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how much it means to me.

Oh, Goddess! And to work with an actor who could match me!! That was another world. Gone were any inhibitions, any doubts. Had the director asked us to strip naked to do the shot, I think we could have without blinking an eye. That’s how intense and personal it was.

My hands never stopped leaking an oily sweat the entire shoot. That was the mania: uncontrolled, and oozing out of me even when I didn’t want it. But I didn’t shake. I didn’t falter. I didn’t back down or compromise. And it all got funneled into the role.

And there’s a story within a story here. Because not only was the shoot itself fabulous, the time around the shoot was fabulous, too. We did the filming at the home of the casting director, and her parents were around for most of the time. Her father honored me several times – he tried my homemade cordial for my voice, loved it, and promptly shoved some money in my hands to buy two bottles. He shared a family photo album of a trip to India. He spoke to me of his daughter, and his life. And his daughter! Oh, she’s a bright one! Found myself, as usual, spilling my guts in that no-nonsense way I seem to have these days. She said, ‘It’s kind of like therapy for you, isn’t it? I can tell by the way you say these things’. And yes, she’s right. I knew that a while ago. She’s just the first person to bring it up. She also told me how difficult it was for her to think of me as 52. ‘You’re very young. Like part of you hasn’t aged at all.’

Oh, I’d love to spend more time with her, and with her family! Good people. Straight talk, unafraid to say those things that need saying. Unafraid to hear what I have to say.

…I’ve had a taste of being a film star. Not just in name, but truly being a film star. Because it’s not what you do, it’s how people treat you that makes all the difference. I can only assume this translates into whatever field you study; that finally getting the accolades and notice you’ve worked so hard for always feels this good. I have been passed over so much – wait! I’ve allowed myself to be passed over so much! better! – , and these past two days are a big wake-up call on that front. Gratitude. Real gratitude for who I am and what I do. I feel accepted. In full, and without having to apologize for my weird sense of humor or the funny voices that sometimes burst out of me or anything else I do.

This is amazing. Absolutely amazing.

And all I want to do is fall down on my very bruised knees and scream THANK YOU! at the top of my lungs because prayer is far too quiet for what I feel.

This is me, actualized. In total. Giving it my all. Burning the way I know I was made to burn. Not turned away. Not ignored because other people were uncomfortable or didn’t know what to do or say. I was watched. I was admired – and TOLD. I was – dare I say it? – loved as much as I loved. I saw it and felt it. I was hugged not because that’s what you do at the end of filming, but because our emotions were overbrimming, because we knew we’d all shared something special and unique.

…I’ve no real plans, other than showering and babying my injuries. Thinking of maybe making a surprise visit on Monday to the set. I still owe the casting director’s dad a bottle of my cordial, and, well… As I was saying good-bye, and telling everyone how sad I was that it was over, someone said ‘you could always come visit on Monday’ and that’s just been turning in my brain overnight. I could see everyone again. Take care of the cordial, and pick up the lights. Drop off my expenses.

The more I consider it, the more reasons I find for going one more time.

Thank you. May I have another?

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.

I knew her

I called the number I found for L. There was a pause, while the lines made the long connections across the Atlantic. And then – a ring. My heart jumped. Two rings. What was it I was going to say? Three rings. I was ready to hear my old friend’s voice.

When a Midwestern drawl answered, I barely comprehended what was said. I kept on the line, listening as a pre-recorded message read off a list of extensions.

It was a company line.

Which means, of course, that the number’s been recycled. No one ever tells you that. That the new phone number you feel all shiny and happy about in your brand new home is probably from someone who died. Goddess! We pick the electronic bones of the dead.

Found a handful of photos. All of them were from one trip: our infamous Grand Canyon/birthday bash in Arizona. Most are too distant. L along the handrail by a huge backdrop. A few were taken at night, when we rented a limo to take us out to the clubs. I had a lousy camera at the time, and all of the nighttime pics are overexposed from the flash. But there’s one. One picture that shows the L I remember. We were in the car, taking some back roads to an out of the way hot spring we heard about. She’s driving, with sun glasses on. I must have told her to look at me for the pic; she turned, and in typical fashion of L at that time, she stuck her tongue out at me. That’s the picture. Not the ones of her and I trying to look grown up as we stood by the limo. Not the ones in the hats. That one, with her tongue sticking out. That’s the one that made me cry.

My brother was gone all afternoon; he’s found a band to work with and he was at his first rehearsal. When he came home, he was full of energy, full of stories about the day. I kept quiet, my responses limited to short exclamations of happiness on his behalf. It kept on that way all thru the evening: me wanting to bring all this up, yet saying nothing.

11 p.m. The last episode watched for the evening, I muted the tv. And in that heartbeat of silence, I told my brother what happened.

Not just about the phone call. About all of it. This obsession that came over me the last 48 hours. How, while waiting to make that phone call, I googled other things. Pictures and videos of my old home town. Walked the google street views from my old high school through the local village and up the hill to my dad’s house. Took a car trip along Lake Michigan. Places I’d travelled thousands of times in my youth. Places I could have driven blindfolded when I was 21.

There was little I recognized.

Buildings downtown, large skyscrapers – they’re still there. Still look the same. The lake is still there. Fair grounds: just as I remember.

But the trees were all different. Many were too tall, and now obstruct the view I grew to know as a young woman. Streets were widened. Shops had changed hands.

The more I looked, the more nostalgic I grew. It was a strange nostalgia, though. A ‘member-berry nostalgia. Because it wasn’t real. I knew that even as I felt those tugs at my heartstrings. These pictures didn’t include the heat, the humidity, the insects. The audio didn’t include the crassness, the ignorance, the bigotry. And even as I felt I’ve missed so much! I knew I hadn’t. I left because nothing ever happened.

Ended by searching my eldest brother. Figured I needed to see what info was available on him, someone I knew, before I could make a judgement on the info I had on L. Odd thing. I found a sales record of the family home in 2005. And a new address for my brother. He never mentioned selling the house or moving.

…You know, some idioms are like onions: so many layers, it takes a lot of peeling to get down to the core. You can’t go home is an idiom heavy on my mind today. Thought I fully grasped that one years ago. Turns out there was a whole other layer to it that I didn’t even know existed until it was ripped away.

I’m leaving the past behind. Letting it go. My brother agreed that, when we have a bit of extra cash, I can pay for a death certificate search for L through the state records. Just don’t know if I’ll ever hear anything from her daughter. For all I know, I was demonized in her eyes. The bad girl that led her mother astray. So I’ll rely on that cold confirmation of public records. But for me – I don’t want to lose today because I’m caught in memories of the past. So I’m snapping myself out of it. When I’m done with this post, it’s dishes and bed making, then off to the gym. Gonna run my lines for the play, and get some writing done. I’ll listen fully to my brother, engage in real conversation. Later in the week, I’ll take the metro downtown and just walk around, window shopping. Remind myself of where and when I am.

I could get that picture of L reproduced in a larger size. Get it framed, put it up on my wall. And maybe I will. But more than that, I want to write her. I don’t know that I’ll ever capture the person or entity I remember. I feel it my duty to try, though. She was and will always be someone who had a great influence over me.

And I have no doubt that I will see her again. Not in the same form, obviously. But I know we will meet again. Our friendship was one of those strange old soul things; we knew each other the moment we met in this life. It’s strange to say that, because I can’t honestly say I know that much about her physical life here. Who were her friends, other than me? I don’t know. What happened all those years we didn’t speak? I don’t know. But that…that’s surface stuff.

I knew her.

Small flies of annoyance

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About 5 in the evening yesterday my ‘not as tough as the swimming pool’ workout put me down. It was like a creeper bud: took a long time after the initial incident before I felt what I put my body through. By 9 I said goodnight, brushed my teeth, and don’t even remember falling asleep because it happened so damned fast.

I did get out for errands in the afternoon, too. Down to the market to buy stuff for dinner, back up to make the sauce. Down to the next shopping area over to buy some coffee on safe, lug it back to the apartment. Didn’t do the stairs – at all. I was concerned I may have injured my knee with some of the movements in the gym; it was a bit painful (just exercise; better today). Even stuck to my commitment and did my language lessons.

Saw only 4 stubs in the ashtrays this morning. No wonder I feel a little headachy.

My FB comment has, of course, drawn comments. Most people who know me know it’s one of those small explosions I do once in a while. That burst of anger that comes out fast and is, to the unobservant, uncalled for. My uncle has questioned me on it – again, of course. I’m trying to think of something that is (1) clear, (2) calm, and (3) unquestionable as a reply. Frankly, if you have to question why a woman fears Trump getting into office, well, I think your IQ must be somewhere around 80 then, right? And I’m gonna be completely un-PC right now: if you support Trump, you can’t call yourself a woman. You may have a vagina, but you’re not a woman. You’re a dude. Not even a guy, but a dude. No sane woman would stand up and say ‘Yes! Yes, please pay me less than a man even though I have the same qualifications. Please grab my pussy; it makes me excited. Please call me a dog and a whore – I like it and I call women dogs and whores myself. And of course if a woman claims she’s been sexually assaulted she’s a liar and to blame for the whole incident herself.’ No. You’re insane. Certifiable. Go seek help. And stay the fuck away from me.

And speaking of un-PC, I’m gonna share another very un-PC thought. I’m damned angry over people like Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. I don’t care if they want to fork out money to have their dicks cut off. What I’m angry about is that they support gender bias through they’re “portrayal” of womanhood – primped, pushed up, and padded. I mean, if one of them – ONE OF THEM – when through the surgery and became anything close to a real woman – meaning no make-up, no push-ups, no this or that because that shit is fucking EXHAUSTING, just be a PERSON – I wouldn’t be on a tirade. But they don’t. Look at what society thinks a woman is: she must wear a dress, she must wear make-up, she must wear high heels, she must show cleavage, she must try to look sexy at all costs. Excuse me, but that shit’s got NOTHING to do with being a woman. That narrowed, bigoted, biased view – that stereotype – is proven out every time someone goes through sex identity surgery and comes out looking like a magazine cover.

How fucking dare you!

Goddamn it.

Am I the only one seeing this shit?

Society’s fucked, the planet is fucked, and none of us have to worry about going to hell because we’re already there. Give me one good reason – a good one, mind you – for any of these lines we’re drawing in the sand. Because I sure as fuck can’t figure one out.

So glad I’m going in the water today. Might sit on the bottom of the pool, holding my breath. Think for a moment or two about breathing in liquid because why, why, why go on when there’s so much shit piled up?

Goddess, I hate my family. Hate them to the core of me. Hate them beyond redemption. No wonder I have such a screwed up idea about “love”. I was made to say that word to all these people I can’t stand. I love you. Every holiday. Didn’t matter what they did or said; I had to always say that.

I can’t love someone who tells me in no uncertain terms that they think I’m less than. Put whatever you want in that comparison; I’ve heard them all. And I’ve always come out wanting in the judgmental eyes of my family.

Ach! Shoulda just stayed off Fuckbook. Shoulda just kept quiet – again. Shoulda, shoulda, shoulda.

In this maelstrom, I’ve been trying to breathe. Find that calm spot. You might have noticed I’ve got a bit of anger coming up. I’ve noticed that, too. And yes, I’m doing my damnedest to not bite everyone’s head off but it’s getting fucking difficult. Real difficult.

I guess this is the wall. There’s always a wall. In everything. A time when everything feels too much. A time when you so desperately want to give in. The wall. Christ, I’m fucking tired of facing these.

Didn’t take long to hit it, did it?

…No. No, it didn’t.

Right. Temporary set-backs. Small flies of annoyance. Things trying to distract me. Ohm. I don’t have to respond. Ohm. I have the luxury of staying off social media and not opening my email. Ohm. No one is gonna force me to talk to anyone I don’t want to. Ohm.

And as for small flies of annoyance, I need to remember this: flies are born in shit. They live one fucking day and then they die and return to shit.

Ohm.