No One Makes it out Alive

Success. Responses to enquiries, searches that reveal that yes, Virginia, my press release about the upcoming performance is out there. Sadly, there’s only half a dozen sites in Rotterdam written in English – but I hit them all.

Headed to the gym early. The woman never showed. Kept an eye out for her – which is why I saw, for the first time, the way people look at me while I stretch. That woman is not alone in stopping whatever’s going on and standing still with a slightly open mouth while I move. Everyone in the gym did it at some point during my warm-up. Don’t you people stretch? – Oh, wait… You don’t. I ‘member now. You’re all about jerk lifting heavy weights, and running on the cross trainer for 10 minutes. Yeah…

There’s not much reason, in my opinion, to be jealous of me. I’m not super beautiful, or super fit, or super rich, or, (seemingly) super talented. Just a bit of this and that. But my flexibility…Now that I can acknowledge as a thang. You can be jealous of me over that: next month I hit 52, and I can still take my forehead to my knees and straight down to the floor while stretching. Don’t know anyone who gets turned on by that, nor any way to market it as a talent and make money off it. But it’s mine, and when I stretch deeply I automatically begin Ujjayi breathing – a thing I learned long ago as a child, watching Hatha Yoga on PBS. I focus. It’s one of the beautiful feelings I can create in my body without thinking or trying.

Surprised to find more energy in me than I expected. Did my full-on work-out, no holds barred. Pushed hard, sweated loads.

Doubly surprised then, to find myself pacing at 7 p.m. Up and down, back and forth, maniacally stalking the tiny walkway in the apartment. I was unsettlingly unsettled last night. My bro was out at a band rehearsal (second band; they REQUESTED his uber talented presence – yea!) for the evening, so I was solo for tv time. That never goes very well – I prefer, in the evenings, to have someone with me so I can talk to them and have a bit of companionship to slow me down. But I expected, after such a push at the gym, to be tired.

Ha! 

Had to force myself to slow down. Forced myself to sit in the chair, watch the film I’d chosen. Forced myself to keep lighting up (thought: good Goddess, something has to slow me down!). Took it down to reading. Quiet, still. Relax, I told myself. Finally began feeling less manic. Slept.

I’ve time off from language lessons this coming week. Need to read thru Taman and make a few corrections and changes. Also need to begin the process of a read-through. Ask the teachers if they’ll come so I can use a classroom at Erasmus. Set a date. Get emails out.

But what I really want to get back to is my thriller trilogy. My experience with the theatre group has made me re-think a few things. What I once envisioned as three stand alone one-acts that have an arcing storyline are now expanding for the stage. I’m pulling the surviving characters through the one-acts for continuity. Wasn’t part of the original plan. However, while performing this play I’ve noticed what people have said to me. The number one thing people comment on is my tiny cameo in Act 3, where I’m seen dancing at a party held in the other room. Part of that, I know, is because it’s the last time they see me on stage. But there’s a definite glee the audience gets, seeing a character from an earlier story inserted into a later story. It offers a thread of continuity to the audience, and seems to bring the entire play into some sort of reality: this is the real world, and people’s paths cross. Here you go; proof. Okay. Good. I’ll use that. It’ll take a bit of re-thinking, but the basic story lines can hold.

Might use the following as a tag line for the production: No one makes it out alive. It’s a good overriding line for a thriller trilogy done over Halloween – though I’m concerned it’s too old hat and cliche for my production.

…It’s not a bad tag line for life. …Damn! I might have to get a T-shirt with that on it. Just for me.

Reality check: another comment from my uncle on FB. Ugh. Meh. Not even sure if I want to honor it by deleting it. Maybe I should just let them stand, without comment, and let the world see what a fucking eejit the man is. This one was strange. Or, at least, I found it strange. Re-posted one of my press releases from a site I successfully loaded the info into. This is not the first post about the play on my FB page. Maybe the 10th. Something must have finally clicked with my uncle, because for the first time he’s commented on it: “I imagine this will be funny….sorry, I won’t be in the area then. LOL”

LOL? Um…I realize he probably thinks he’s making a joke (which is weak in and of itself, because there’s nothing joke-like about his statement), or that’s what he’d claim. But is it really? I see a pandering to me in the first half (I imagine this will be funny: note, though, the comment is in general and not directed towards me or my acting ability) and a discount in the second half (he lives half way around the world and I never imagined for even a split second that he’d come for a performance). Pat on the head, and a slap in the face. Or so I see it.

For now, it stands without reply.

I got bigger fish to fry.

‘Cause it’s true. No one makes it out alive.

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Shallow footholds

Breathe.

My uncle, who claims to have been “inoculated” against bubonic plague (yes, you read that correctly; he’s that ignorant) is on the commenting rampage again. This time? A superfluous comment on a post about the theatre group’s last performance. No idea what was going thru his mind…if anything. The damned post was in English, but he seems to have translated it. A tag that caught his eye was ‘Friday in Leiden’, which was a reference to our Friday night performance in the town of Leiden. His comment? What’s Friday in Leiden? Free day later? – or some such nonsense. Deleted it. I’m not talking to someone that stupid.

Saw a Graham Norton show on which a guest said he loved Twitter because ‘it was created to wind people up’ and he found ‘winding people up was a lot of fun’. I believe that puts my uncle’s behavior into a nice box. He enjoys winding people up. If I was his child and went to him to complain about being bullied, he’d say what those people always say: Ignore it. Yet, when I do that, I receive all sorts of negative comments about how immature I am, how I can’t even hold a conversation, etc. etc. Same double standard their president is trying to pull, and it’s the same obvious bullshit manipulation.

My brother has this idea that he’ll post the video of my performance and somehow THAT will open up my uncle’s mind. I expect flak. Bullshit wind-up comments. Back-handed compliments that aren’t really compliments. Stuff I’ll delete immediately, because I don’t want to deal with it.

Reminding myself I must apologize to the group in case anyone saw his comment. I’m sure my uncle would be angry if he knew I felt I had to apologize for his behavior. But I do feel it. I feel I must apologize for much of what Americans say and do.

Now THAT’S sad.

Language class: oh, I’m a prat and I know it. Brought along the book on Anne Frank that I finished reading. I believe that’s what prompted the teacher to ask all of us for impromptu book reports. I was the only person who had read more than a few pages. Swapped for a new book – a detective story. Lots of words in there that I don’t know. But that’s good; picking up meanings while reading is the BEST way to get it into your brain. Sometimes I have to resort to the dictionary, but hey! I did/do that with English, too. There are always words you don’t know. Did pretty well with my homework. A couple of mistakes; that’s okay. I learn even more from my mistakes than I do simple repetition. Really appreciate the level of this class. High enough, but not too high. Stressing what I need stressed. Feel myself falling into my student mode: open, accepting – almost like a sponge. Absorb first. Question later.

It’s a decent mind-state to carry into the world.

Keep telling myself I’m gonna cut back on smoking. Keep failing. Keep making excuses for myself, too. I’m still stressed from performing (true). My system hasn’t settled yet (true). But I’m bending the rules, being too easy and forgiving of my bad behavior. It’s got to stop.

Going to the gym today. My big excursion into out there. Want to come back so worn out I can barely keep my eyes open. Want it. Need it, even.

Keep telling myself to hang in there. Just a bit longer. A bit longer to what I’m never sure. Success? Easing of some of the financial restrictions? I’m afraid things might get worse before they get better. Once again, I have tumbleweeds rolling thru my e-mail. Not word ONE on my script, which I sent out a month ago to half a dozen places with very high expectations. Winter is coming on, which means more watching my health and being all over hand washing and juice sipping. All of that is discouraging, as are the bills that come in unexpectedly, throwing our budget out of whack.

But doors are opening. Just a crack – enough to get my foot in. Checked the film website my acting partner told me about and it’s everything he promised. Casting calls for all sorts. Already found one I’d really like to apply for. Need to get my info online. Told my bro about it, because there’s plenty of calls for sound engineers, something he’s more than qualified for.

Do not want to jinx myself, so I’ll just say all of this is on the table. As is the production of my scripts via the theatre group. Stepping slowly, cautiously. Nothing is settled or for sure, so there’s no real reason to get worked up. There’s just…interest.

Another note: J, the other feminist in the theatre group, asked for my blog address. I was thrown, dithered a lot by saying it’s nothing, just my empty thoughts. Truth is, I was and am afraid to share this blog. Whether or not I have anonymity, I feel as if I do, and that makes all the difference in how I write. But with my last post on sharing, I wonder if I’m being a bit hasty to pull back on this issue. How better for someone to understand me than to read my words? Must say, I’m honored that she cared enough to ask. That alone weighs heavily on the ‘give her the address’ side.

My head keeps playing back compliments I received for my performance. Particularly compliments from the group, because these are the people who’ve seen me do it over and over. These are the people who’ve heard some of my opinions, talked to me, gotten to know me a bit better… Truth is, I have no idea what they might say about me when I’m not there. Last autumn, I was a fly on the wall, so I know shit happens.

They might end up being very shallow. But even a shallow foothold is better than none.

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13 hours.

Home at 1 in the morning. Excited, because Leiden went well. Really well. Maybe the BEST for the group as a whole.

My feet hurt. My voice is iffy. Hope I won’t lose it completely. I’m tired, even after a decent sleep.

And I’m triumphant. Did the Universe take all possible positive comments and roll them into one night for me? Seems so. Two guys were pleasantly surprised to find my normal speaking voice wasn’t that horrid accent I do on stage. People loved this and that about my performance. But the best? Well…the group is getting more and more comfortable with performing and with each other. I’ve got this bit in the third scene – I’m supposed to be dancing at a party just outside the door, and the audience sees me every time the door opens. So I took it up a notch. Last night, every time the door opened I was a bit more drunk. Saved the best for last; even told my acting partner I was going to try and throw the actors on stage a bit. The curtains parted, my hair was bedraggled, my lipstick smeared, my shirt buttons were open and I staggered, took a drunken stance, looked straight at the director’s girlfriend (who was holding the curtain) and asked very drunkly ‘What?’. She told me later the scene went on longer than she wanted because she was laughing at me and couldn’t turn and let the audience see. In fact, she told that story to everyone at the bar afterwards and she couldn’t stop laughing even then.

Made me feel real good. I think, maybe, I’ve diffused any lingering resentment towards me through humor and honesty.

Other: J, the South African actress who is my fellow feminist in the group, told me she thought I was cool and wanted to keep in touch. YES! I might have FRIENDS out of this, as implausible as that may have seemed to me a few months ago. And my acting partner clued me into a Dutch website for actors to find parts in films. He told me they’re always looking for English speaking/American women.

Three weeks to chill before the last gig of the year. Defo everyone is planning for further performances next year. Hope to get up to Amsterdam to a theatre that will actually pay us to be there (including travel costs).

The only thing I’m planning for this weekend is finishing my homework, which should take me all of 20 minutes when I put my mind to it. Other than that, I am slothing (bloody hell; spell correct doesn’t like that but shouldn’t it be a verb?). Putting my feet up, maybe soaking them if I feel like pulling a warm foot bath together. Watching films. Not getting out of my pj’s unless I’m forced to. Not planning on a gym visit, but I’ll go if my body tells me it needs it. Juice, soup, naps, games. Sloth.

These upsets to my schedule are hard on me. 13 hours yesterday away from home, away from my comfy chair, not smoking (Gasp! I know! 13 hours with no toking! Though I did  have an emergency J on me just in case). Can’t help but feel it’s worth it. I’m happy, up, jazzed, and feeling great after a night full of positive, light-hearted social contact.

Laughing is so much easier in a group than it is alone.

That’s a lesson I’m taking with me. I tend to be a hermit, usually by choice. But with other people, with unexpected things being said and done…well…let’s just say I’ve long noticed that I don’t laugh out loud very much if I’m alone.

Laughter is something you share.

I like laughing. I like the way it makes me feel. I like making other people laugh, too.

So my path is clear.

Time to open up my world and share.

I’m ready

Dutch is a tricky language to learn. Any native will tell you that. Not only do you need to learn how to pronounce their ‘G’ without spitting on anyone, you also have to figure out the trick of spelling. In most cases, spelling isn’t bad if you know the combinations of letters and their corresponding sounds. There’s just one problem: the Dutch like to use d’s and t’s at the ends of their words, and both letters are pronounced the same. Is it a D? Or is it a T? Or one of those pesky words that uses both?

There’s a rule for that. Thought, at one time, I got it. After my lesson yesterday, I’m so fucking confused I don’t know if I understand it all.

Suppose I should feel good about all this: my lessons have surpassed my Thursday instructor. I’ve gone where she can’t follow. She’s got all the conversational skills, sure, but like many Dutch natives she doesn’t know the finer points of spelling or grammar.

Received an apology at the end of the lesson. The other student showed up, and conversation was limited to simple Q&A because she’s let her language skills slip so much. Barely got into my homework questions, and those that were looked at ended up confusing my teacher and muddling my own understanding.

At the rate this is going, I’ll be ready to teach beginner Dutch in six months.

Took the rest of yesterday off. Needed to let my mind rest, needed to let go of the irritation I was feeling. Good thing, too. My bro came home from his language lesson angry as all hell, so I let him vent. He’s not getting what he wants out of his lessons, either. He’s given stuff to read, which he struggles through, but there’s no correction or time taken to answer questions. I get that these instructors are all volunteers. It’s great to just have enough warm bodies to fill the positions needed. But there’s got to be some sort of structure everyone follows.

And shouldn’t instructors take some basic test to make sure they know how to read, write, and speak correctly?

Went out to FB today to make sure I didn’t have any comments from a certain uncle and found my page changed. I can’t comment on anyone’s posts. Don’t know if that’s some block that’s put up on me. Shouldn’t be. I don’t comment on anyone else’s stuff most of the time, and if I do it’s supportive. I’m not the troll. Also, when I visit someone else’s page, I only see part of their home page. Used to see the whole thing. What up wit’ dat? If it’s across the board on FB, okay. If it’s only me on my page, I must protest. …Sometime. When FB becomes important enough in my life to protest…which, granted, may be a while.

Staying out of the rain. Keeping warm. Resting, but moving enough. Had a very satisfactory POP out of my back last night. It’s what I needed: the spasming on my side eased off immediately. This morning, as I write, I have no pain. Glorious! No pain! This boost of physical comfort is still not enough for me to break my health cordon. Oh, I want to go. Go to the gym and work hard for two hours, feel that exhaustion. But no. 36 hours to go to curtain up. I’m no fool.

My bro is hoping to get a tripod for his phone/camera today so he can film my performance. *This is me feeling an ass for ever saying he doesn’t support me and he wouldn’t come to the play.* I hope things go well. No doubt over myself, just other people. Is that my trust issue, or just my good sense? Well, if anyone gripes over not doing as well as they want to, the group can bloody well let my brother in for free to film it again (if he’s willing to sit through it again, which I’m not guaranteeing). I do not look forward to seeing the camera’s perspective on my body. I always wince, no matter what my size. Then again, I always see myself as a whale no matter what. Or I have in the past. My only comfort is that this character is supposed to be awkward in her skin, and THAT is something I know how to convey.

Well. The excitement-o-meter is beginning to ramp up. I can feel that dump of adrenaline in my system. What do you know! I still get that feeling. Maybe as a kid it scared me. Hell! Horror films scared me as a kid. Now I love ’em. Same sort of thing: what once might have sent me over the edge is now something very familiar, very intimate. I know what to do with this. Concentrate on calm. Get to the gym, yes, but only for a walk and a stretch. Focus. Pack my bags for tomorrow. Take a shower. Make sure my outfit is ready. I’ve rituals at my fingertips, and plenty of smoke for when my rituals run out.

This is it; the final countdown. I’m ready.

Holding Pattern

There may be no such thing as a perfect day, but yesterday tried damn hard to get there.

Weather: gorgeous. Autumnal sunshine, fallen leaves smell, warmth enough to sit outside and have a meal. That alone gave me heart.

Got to immigration before noon. Had the entire metro trip to figure out what to say (in Dutch) when I got there – and I nailed it…but then I went blank when a forty foot high wave of Dutch came back at me (know I had that deer in the headlights look). Took a number and waited.

Twenty minutes later, I walked out with my new residency card.

Shocked. Shocked at the speed, the efficiency, the ever present politeness and common courtesy shown me at this government office. Shocked, too, that the card was in my hand. No photos, no fingerprints; they used my file from last time. I came home to find another letter from immigration telling me just that – that there was no need for me to have a photo or my fingerprints taken, I just needed to pick up my new card. Ha! Guess they didn’t count on me being as efficiently speedy in my response as they were in their work (note: almost spelled that ‘werk’, the Dutch way, and right now using a ‘o’ looks weird).

And this is the pink residency card. When I first got here, I received a pink card. It’s the top of the top in residency cards. The do not stop all access guaranteed card. I had one of three to be issued in the entire country. Don’t know if they’re still that rare, but I do know someone out there likes me. These things are difficult to get.

By noon, my bro and I were staring at each other outside the immigration office. We have our cards. That’s what we kept saying to each other. The question came up of what to do next, and I answered with the only place I KNEW would card us: a coffeeshop. Btw, it’s not that we look all that young anymore, it’s just that you’ve got to have an ID on you if you go to a coffeeshop. Usually, they have bouncers outside. Naturally…they didn’t. Walked straight in. Still enjoyed it, just sitting there and knowing we had our IDs. We’re official.

Back home, I found myself restless. Off to the gym for stretches and an hour’s walk on the treadmill. Want to do more, but holding back right now. I will not risk my knees or wrists just before performing.

Dinner was a semi-fast food sampler. Gotta say semi-fast food because it wasn’t McD’s or Pizza Hut: this was Dutch fast food. Dutch fast food means you go somewhere and they make your food to order fast. You don’t walk in and ask for something that’s been pre-made and sitting under a warmer. You order, they jump. And the ingredients are higher quality, too. Had some Turkish pizza and loempias. Nothing like mixing your ethnicities up with dinner, but the two vendors were close together and it just so happened that change from one purchase was the precise amount asked for by the other vendor. Therefore, Turkish pizza and loempias. Doesn’t everyone think like this?

Went to sleep after watching some Heroes (found a dirt cheap DVD copy of Season 2) and knowing I read through the first 30 pages of a book in Dutch. Felt good.

Hiccup this morning – from my uncle. Another comment on FB. Noticed his comments are becoming less and less inflammatory – so much so I’m feeling that guilt creep up on me when I hit delete. I’m also reminding myself how angry I was, and my promise to take care of me. So, delete it was, and will continue to be. I’ve no time nor temperament to deal with him at the moment.

Another language lesson today. For the first time, I’m not worried about a lag in my lesson. Just the opposite: I’m concerned I’ve too much material to go over, especially if the other student shows up.

Wanted – still want – to head out today and try to get a few posters up for the show. But it’s very grey, and very wet. Bad timing on me. Maybe it will pull back enough this afternoon to allow me a decent walk without the risk of getting too wet or too cold. Until then, plans are on hold.

Keeping calm, staying distracted. Not thinking too much about the play other than to be careful because it’s coming up.

I’m in a holding pattern.

I’m good, thanks

Rehearsal went well yesterday. It was fun, actually stepping into a Dutch home for once. The Dutch are lovely people, but they’ll only invite you to their homes after a long acquaintanceship (much more a ‘I’ll meet you there’ people than a ‘let’s hang here’ people) and showing up unannounced is the height of bad manners. So this was my very first time entering a Dutch home  – one that I didn’t rent for the weekend, anyway.

The blueberry muffins went over as well as I’d hoped. Silence descended on the room the first time they were passed around; everyone was stuffing their faces and it took a few minutes for someone to actually speak. Many compliments on them. It was even suggested (half-jokingly) the group sell them at performances to raise money.

The rehearsals themselves…Well, as I’ve said from the start, I’ll make you laugh. I can make no such guarantee about anyone else in the play. That’s still true. One of the duets is pulling out for the first two performances. Seems they don’t feel they have their parts down yet, which I just find hard to imagine. You want to call yourselves actors – even on the amateur level – and you can’t memorize a 25 minute skit in 6 months? Um…okay. There also seems to be a scheduling problem, even tho rehearsals and performance dates were chosen months ago. *sigh* I admit to a deep disappointment over this. Never kidded myself this was anything BUT amateur. I just hoped it was a little bit less amateur than what it’s proving to be. Or maybe I thought my own skills would prompt the others to up their games. I find it, now, a pity that I’m in the first skit. For the overall show, I think my skit should go second. Somewhere in-between the kinda funny other bits. Putting us first…well. I’m a bit worried the rest of the show will feel flat in comparison. Guess that’s my ego, ’cause no one else seems to share that feeling.

I heard the laughter levels, tho. We’re all familiar with the set-ups. Most of us have watched other couples act their bits out. So no big surprises for any of us, really. Yet my skit repeatedly gets out loud can’t stop myself laughter, while the rest just gets chuckles. I know the chuckles will grow into real laughter in front of a fresh audience, so it won’t quite be that bad for the rest of the couples. Still…this has been a concern from the start for me, and it’s not going away.

Also worried I shot my mouth off a bit yesterday. We took a break and sat out in the garden for a bit, having coffee and a bite to eat. Questions on women’s roles came up. Questions that were voiced as the speaker looked directly at me. So I spoke up. One great moment – maybe the greatest so far in my little life – was finding two other women in the group replying and reacting in the exact same manner as myself. That was so fucking amazing! Usually I’m the only one. To have two other women speak up at the same time, saying the same thing I was saying… It was quite a rush. But I’m a bit afraid I monopolized the conversation at one point. I didn’t get angry or bark out my answers. Just the opposite; it was one of the calmest and most measured responses I’ve heard come out of my mouth. It was just wordy, and there were seven of us sitting around talking. I hope I didn’t come across as a know-it-all opinionated conversation monopolizer.

Well, I guess that’s what the blueberry muffins were for. To make up for my social faux pas.

The marketing for the play hasn’t gone well. Someone checked on-line ticket sales yesterday. Saturday: 14 seats sold. Sunday: 10 seats. Leiden performance: 6 seats. End of October: 2. That’s it. I asked if anyone had contacted the papers with a public announcement. I was given a vague answer that some agenda had been contacted, and they thought they covered everything. Obviously not, because it’s not in the papers. And they’ll print it for free if you get it to them. One other question got a derogatory ‘that’s marketing’ sneer, as if getting the word out on this level was beneath their dignity. Was finally given a few posters to put up these last days before the performance. No flyers. No wonder so few seats have been sold. No one bloody knows it’s happening.

*sigh*

New language class today. It’s in the afternoon; not my favorite time of day. I’d rather learn first thing, before my brain has time to cook in its own juices. But I look forward to getting out of the house, meeting my fellow classmates, and hopefully finding my teachers are up to snuff. I don’t want to spend another class correcting the instructors (and this time, if I find that’s the case, I’m demanding they either pay me or let me attend the lessons for free).

September is almost over. My finances won’t be much better next month, but at least I’ll have a few bucks to put here and there where needed. Will probably have to pay my language lessons off in installments, just like my contribution to the theatre group fees or my gym membership. I’m a bit embarrassed by that, ponying up a ten or twenty here or there, obviously strapped for cash while others whip out fifties like it’s the only currency they carry. But I know the trap of money, know how it works. Paying bills or buying things is the only time and place where having money is advantageous. Other than that, I think it works against you. Makes you buy more, put yourself into more debt, worry about more things you have to upkeep because you bought them and if you let them all go to hell now you’ve just thrown your money away… And you don’t get to keep it. It doesn’t save you from dying. It won’t buy you happiness.

…I’m good, thanks.

Coming Together

YES!

Received confirmation of our residency status yesterday. Technically, it wasn’t a confirmation; even says so in the second paragraph. That, however, is because the police have the right to yank a residency card last minute as they do background checks. Since I haven’t been in any trouble (such a good girl!), I don’t expect any trouble to come my way. All we need to do now is head downtown for pictures and fingerprints, then wait until we can pick up our cards.

Thank you, Goddess. Thank you so much!

Made what might be the worst cup of coffee in the world this morning (the filter bent, so I’ve a cup full of grounds) but what does it matter? I’m allowed to stay here in the Netherlands to 2019. I’m safe. I can stop worrying, even in the back of my head. Now, rather than looking around and thinking how much I might miss the place, I look around and think ‘I’m home, I’m safe’.

Now we’ve got time to pay down the debt we accrued to hire attorneys and accountants and pay all those fees.

I’m still poor, darlings, but truth is I’d rather be poor here than rich in the states.

Made a lucky choice with an over the counter hair color product. Did my roots yesterday afternoon, and you can see only a tiny shade difference in the brightest of lights. Yippee. No grey hair worries for the next month now. Maybe I’ll even get around to cutting my own hair. Haven’t tried that for years and years; it’s tough on the bursae in my shoulders. But I’m stronger now than I was, so I might just snip, snip. It’s not a big deal. I’ve had what I consider a bad hair cut twice in my life – and both times I still got compliments, so they weren’t that bad (I just didn’t like them). Truth is, it’s hard to fuck up my hair. I’ve got a lot of it, it grows fast, and unless you shave my head down to the bone, I can make it work.

Full dress rehearsal today. We’re doing it in my neck of the woods, so everyone is taking the metro up here. I get to walk since it’s so close to my home. Planning on baking some blueberry muffins to take along. It’s the first time we’ll all be together, and I thought it would be nice to bring something so we can all have a little treat. Plus, I know how good most people find my blueberry muffins. Play to your strengths.

We’ve had two days of glorious autumn weather. Sunny skies, warm air with that touch of cool in the shadows, that musty smell from fallen leaves – my favorite time of year. Been wanting to get up and go, but holding myself back. My foot is still giving me problems, and yesterday my wrist went. Really sucks to hurt yourself ten times over simply doing dishes, but it happened. So it’s nurse myself, don’t do too much, and all that. I guess it’s not a bad thing, really. Helps me remember to be careful this last week before performing.

Wanting more than ever to master this language now that I’ve got the green light from immigration. It’s still a daunting task. My new, higher level lesson begins tomorrow.

I feel like my mind is coming out of a long coma. The first few years here were and still are a mash in my head: a lot of anxiety and pain, and nothing that anchors time for me. Confusion over the language, worry over this or that – you name it, I’ve been there. It’s a floating mass of stuff labeled ‘my first two years’ that I have trouble sorting out. In some ways, I feel like this is my first two years in the Netherlands. It’ll be the first two years I step out with enough grasp of the language to understand most of what’s said to me. I know people now. Maybe I don’t have friends, but when I moved here I didn’t know anyone at all. Now I know people by name, even connected with them on social networks. I also understand how this society works; their time schedules and holidays, their quirks and habits. I’ve got a little foothold, and it feels good.

Can it be that things are finally coming together for me?

 

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.

Trust

I murdered four people before breakfast yesterday. One I poisoned, and watched him twitch and foam at the mouth before his head fell onto his plate. One I suffocated, holding a cushion over her face until long after she stopped moving. Two I knifed, slipping the blade in like I was sheathing the damned thing, until they fell to their knees, blood dripping from their mouths.

And it was glorious, glorious! I wrote like one possessed, and for all I know, I am.

My day out at the comic shop seeing the guys was fine. Spent most of the time talking to E, which is becoming a habit – but E just volunteers some time in exchange for a few comics; the rest of the guys are actually trying to make a living out of the shop, so, you know – I get it. While I’m kind of sad not to talk with everyone, I’m always happy to see so many customers. Means the shop is doing well, and the guys have a chance. …Gotta admit, I kind of begrudged the time on the way there. The place is all the way on the opposite side of the city, two metros and a 15 minute walk away. Takes me an hour to get there, and that’s if I make a quick metro connection downtown. Couldn’t help but think that I should be writing during that time – I left the script just before I killed everyone off, and was hot to trot to get to some mayhem. Somehow that begrudged time off was a good thing (again). I’d been fuzzy on how, exactly, everyone was going to die, but I found when I boarded the metro for the long journey home, I’d worked all that out. I knew not only how to kill off the four characters I was writing, I also knew more about the final installment of The Terror Trilogy – that’s what I’m calling it. Catchy, no?

Got to the gym for a decent sweat. Didn’t push. In fact, I was off the cross trainer early because I felt something pull by my ankle. Figured it was from standing in the comic shop for three hours the day before, stationary, talking. Did my abdominals, the treadmill, and the free weights without any pain.

Came back and read thru Taman again. Hallelujah! My head is now so deep into my new script that I was able to read it with fresh eyes. Found a couple of lines to change, and one typo that escaped my previous perusal. Bothered by one line of dialogue. It fits, it’s tight, and it works – but I believe I’ve borrowed the line, or paraphrased from something else. Gotta modify that. …Think I may pass that script onto J for a read. I don’t know if I’m still just very invested in my characters, or if I’ve really written something this engrossing. All this time after writing it (I know; real time isn’t long but writing time IS) and I’m still tearing up at certain points. It’s poignant and heartfelt without being schmaltzy. Or so I hope.

Tonight is rehearsal for the upcoming play. Looked again at the schedule, and found I’m paired with the director’s girlfriend almost every damned time. Ugh. The one person I don’t want to see again. For one, their bit isn’t really that funny. For another, it’s her… So I’ve decided three things. One, I’m going stoned. Two, I’m bringing an emergency joint. Three, I’m leaving as soon as the rehearsal part is over and they begin talking about money and jobs and everything that triggers me.

My brother surprised me yesterday. He’s made no bones about the fact that he does not like the theatre, he doesn’t think the play sounds funny, and he just doesn’t give a damn. I’ve been making sharp remarks now and then about it. Oh, I understand…and I know he doesn’t like theater in the first place. But I wanted him there. It’s not like I’m guaranteed to bring in a bunch of friends! I’m bloody well asking shop keepers and practical strangers because I still haven’t broken thru that Dutch barrier to real friends. Anyway…I knew the sharp comments were petty and small when they slipped out, and chided myself every time something came out of my mouth. My brother…he said he’s coming. Coming to film me, so he can put it up on the internet. Part of that, I know, is just his wanting current stuff to promote us on our site. The other part is the part more important – the part that realized this is important to me, and whether or not he actually likes the damn performance, he’s going to support me.

Oh, and let’s face it all, shall we? There’s a third part to his compliance: a chance to play with his new phone. He’s been hooked on it non-stop since he got it (it really feels like a modern household; he even watches television glued to the damned thing).

…I’ll concentrate on that second part…

No more excuses, no more dithering. This week my language lessons start. Haven’t picked my books up at all over the break. Been trying to tune into conversations and what I hear on tv, though. Lately, anyway. Trying to get my ear back into hearing it. I’m intimidated by it again – though I shouldn’t be. I know it’s there, somewhere in a file marked ‘Dutch/Nederlands (which is an improvement, because it used to just be marked ‘Dutch’). Just gotta access it, and trust. Trust to my memory and my intellect. Trust that I’ll fuck up a few times because I’m rusty. Trust that it’ll be okay, I’ll pick it back up, and in reality my brain never stopped working on the language even though I haven’t opened a book in weeks.

Trust.

My life. My choice.

My last, few days of summer…Next week, it’s all rehearsals and language classes. Dust off the part of my brain that knows a little Dutch, and start paying attention to time again because I’ll be back on a schedule. But for the next three days, it’s still summer.

Received a form rejection on a play I sent out (my first script) six months ago. Standard language, with an added ‘come and see one of our plays and then submit’. Yeah. Like I’ll fly to the UK or the US or bloody anywhere to pony up funds for an amateur theatre group I’m trying to give my stuff to. Get real!

Got some other writing associated work done. Culled through my theatre listings, and sent out to another three places. Getting a bit cut-throat. My submission letters are as terse as my new writing style: basics only. Where once I included statements that tried to sell my work, I now simply present it and stand back, as if to say ‘here it is, and if you don’t realize how good it is, more the fool you’. It simplifies things. No need to spend time trying to come up with clever lines when you’re not gonna whore yourself out.

Been bothered by my encounter with the theatre group far more than I would have liked. Spent much of my time repeating my mantras, and reminding myself they’re all snobs, I knew they were snobs, and I shouldn’t be so surprised. Resolved to try and hold my tongue when the comments begin to fly. Resolved, in fact, to just walk away – I don’t need or want that in my life. While I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to act again, and part of me will always be grateful to the group because working with them inspired me to try writing scripts, I find myself very willing to walk away from these people. Upon a few more days away from the rehearsal night and all their comments, in fact, I’m left wondering if it was their goal to attempt to shame and control me. One thing that’s stuck with me was something said about how my make-up should be done for the production. We were all agreed it should look bad; this woman I’m playing does not know how to apply make-up well. But the suggestion made was that an eyebrow pencil be used to draw eyebrows above my own. Clownish. While I’m willing to go all out on a role, I must protest. Even an idiot could figure out that an eyebrow pencil should be used on eyebrows. …And, oddly, I was told to ‘tone it down’ a bit on the character – despite going over gangbusters, despite the frequent and voluble laughter I received. I believe now that this was the group’s attempt to restrict my talents so their own parts don’t seem so flat in comparison. Part of me feels ‘do it the way the director says, even if you disagree. It’s on his head’. Part of me thinks fuck that! …The only thing I can say for sure is, I’ll play to the audience. If I’m getting laughs pushing the voice and mannerisms, I’ll continue. Let the director bellow at me after people convulse with laughter and gasp for breath. If the need arises, I’ll remind the group it’s a comedy, so laughter is our business. They’ve no reason to restrict me.

Other than their petty jealousies, to which I believe I’m already falling victim. So where’s the down side?

Truth is, the group is heavy on my mind. Got an email asking for donations. Not a surprise; I knew they did that last year, too. And I was MORE than pleased to find one of their costs listed as ‘licensing fees to perform the play’. Didn’t really think they’d include that – tho I must not forget the possibility that that particular line was included to pacify me. Everyone knows where I stand on royalties. No one else is a real artist, so they all download illegally and rip off software and whatever else they can. And everyone knows I’m against that. It’s one of the few topics I can stop every single one of them on – permanently. They’ve no defense over the ‘it’s stealing’ statement. But I’ve been wondering how far I’ll go. We’ve got notification that next time we’ll be given flyers. Been told to ‘talk it up and sell the show’. I have no idea if the group even submits public announcements to the local papers, or puts out any kind of press release. …I could. I’ve written hundreds of press releases. And I know how to find resources. How to ask for the right department or person (at least, in English), which makes all the difference. But I find the question most in my mind is, do I want to put in that kind of work and allow the group to think it’s because of them? In other words, do I do what I do as I normally would – silently, and unasked? It hardly seems the time or place to be reticent. If I do it, I claim it.

Ach, but that gives them one more reason to begrudge me, and I do not like that feeling. I’m left unsure. Seems to me the pros and cons are about equal. Maybe a bit heavier on the con side.

Guess it’ll be left to what pops out first: my ego or my anger. Ego will make me go for it. Anger will keep me restricted.

But if I strip away any consideration for anyone else, if I concentrate wholly and completely on what I want and what I think is good for me, the answer is simple: go for it. Get the word out. I may be seen by someone who could help me in another role, or maybe even help my attempts at being a real playwright.

My life. My choice.