Fill it up

Saturday. Summer heat is here. Nights are still blessedly cool, but you can tell the dog days are coming: the shady areas under trees are no longer colder than the sunshine. The earth doesn’t have to suck up every bit of warmth to wake up and get the day started. It’s warm already.

There are a very slim few weeks after the bitter cold leaves and before the real heat sets in when I feel GOOD. That time is now. Taking advantage of it by walking outside in the sun with no jacket on. So pleasant! To not shiver when a breeze blows; ach! That’s a slice of heaven.

Began a bit of research for my next writing project. Reading what’s available on the web. Taking notes. Not really believing it because, well, it’s on the WEB. The web is not an accredited source, which is pretty evident once you begin taking notes and find that just about everything out there contradicts some other information.

Working to get the hate out of my heart. And oh, how I hate these days! There are more than a few people I’d gladly kill. Blow them the fuck away because I think the world actually would be a better place without them.

I’m not the fucking messiah. I can’t turn the other cheek (it’s black and bruised and torn). And unlike Sting, I can’t write an upbeat pop song about it.

Woke up and realized I’ve decided to tell my long term FB pen-pal he can go hang himself. Haven’t done it yet. Haven’t decided on the exact wording. But I can’t be friends with someone who voted to destroy the environment, illegally withdraw human rights from millions of people, and restore male dominance over a woman’s body. This decision goes against my people-pleasing. It’s hard to tell him to fuck off. But…I just can’t imagine continuing any discourse with this person. I don’t want to tell him anything about myself. He’s violated my trust, as surely as if he’d raped me himself.

Hm. Maybe that’s how I should put it. Think he’d get it?

Reading Dutch now with little hiccups. Still many words I wonder about. Do my best to catch the meaning from the sentences. I think I’ve read enough to get a flow going. My inner voice speaks the words out (sometimes VERY slowly, especially if it’s one of those 36 character compound words the Dutch love so very much). Not sure I’m pronouncing some things correctly – syllable emphasis is everything, and when I’ve got four or five syllables to choose from…well, YOU tell me which is correct. And naturally, being a story, it’s all past tense verbs. But my grammar is improving. That was evident in Friday’s language lesson. I heard less correction from my teachers, and saw more nods and smiles. Maybe my Thursday teacher doesn’t like me – I don’t really know, and probably never will. But there’s no reason for me to feel like an idiot. I’ve been studying with volunteers in a haphazardly taught program for two years and I’m doing pretty well. Yeah, the book I’m reading is “only for teens” and maybe the way I pronounce some words does reveal my American roots (two comments from Thursday that are still bugging me), but I’m making progress.

That’s good. Think of positives.

Smoking less. That’s because I made hash brownies. Still. It earns a check mark. Getting fresh air and regular movement. Not my heavy duty work outs, but maybe that’s a good thing, too. Pretty much pain free. Can walk, bend, turn, lift, and use my hands without wincing. Definite positive. Still got great hearing. Ignore the ringing; ignore my stray thoughts that make me wonder if I’m hearing all the life getting sucked from the planet. I can hear, and hear well. Positive.

Now all I need to do is fill up my time…

Take the flag

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It’s a hell of thing to be sitting somewhere in public, waiting patiently, minding your own business, nothing at all wrong, and then, when you try to stand, you freeze with pain. Don’t know what sound escaped my mouth or which facial expression spasmed across my face, but I can tell you this – it caused five grey haired pensioners to gasp, get up, and try to help me.

Gods!

Must not have looked too good.

Spent yesterday morning growing ever more paranoid during my language lesson. The other student was present again (surprise), and I noticed my teacher took ten to fifteen minutes to catch up and chat with her but far less to chat with me. Now, I know I’ve surpassed the other student in language use. I’ve come to lessons regularly, worked hard, and made a lot of progress. So it’s only natural that the teacher would try to draw out the other student more than me. Get her talking again. …Right? I was careful to note the teacher’s body language. Not too skewed, but she did seem to lean a bit towards the other student. …Does my teacher not like me? *sigh* What have I done now?

I guess that’s the risk anyone takes when they choose to not be a milksop. Have opinions, state them. Have energy when you communicate! For pete’s sake, don’t talk to me like it’s the closest thing to death; deadpan and distracted. Look at me! Fire up your soul! Maybe we’ll come to loggerheads but at least we’ll know we don’t like each other. But don’t hide yourself. Don’t say ‘uh-huh’ to everything, never offer an original thought, never let anyone see anything of the real you. …That’s my opinion, anyway.

But I’ve been told I can be a poor communicator. Not because I’m unclear or uninformed; just the opposite. Because I’m too clear, too informed. I’ve been told many people don’t like to discuss big issues in life. It makes them uncomfortable. But big issues is where my head is at. Big issues were what I discussed at the dinner table as a kid.

After 50+ years of big issues, I can say that there are a whole lot of people out there who don’t like discussing them. And they don’t like me because of it.

That always makes me feel bad. I don’t mean anything improper about it. Just the opposite. I want to know where people stand on this stuff. I want to know their reasons for their choices. So I ask. And people get put off, or offended, or feel so uncomfortable around me that they choose to not hang out or be my friend.

It’s the risk I take, being me. Because for all the disappointment and lost possible friendships, every once in a while I find a real gem out there. Someone who fires up just as quickly as I do. Someone with a magpie mind fast enough to keep up with me.

That ain’t my Thursday teacher. Nor my Friday teacher.

Not that I expected either of them to be my friend.

…Well, I can move freely enough today – so far. I’ll try going to class, but I’ll take my heavy duty pain pills with me. Or maybe I should just take one now. Get a jump on the stiffness and pain. Probably the smart thing to do.

This ain’t gonna stop me. Not the pain, not the stiffness. Not the idea that my teacher doesn’t like me. Not the embarrassment over forgetting words I knew a few weeks ago. Not my slight dyslexia that always makes me screw up numbers.

Feels like I’m gearing up for war. A war on everything that’s going to try to stop me. I know what my goal is. I know what I need to do to get there.

Time to take the flag.

 

Zombified

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Yo.

Accomplished: hair, doctor’s appointment, printing of audition material. Still waiting on: submission form and rules for competition, acknowledgement and answer on proposal. Didn’t even try: housework, exercise at gym.

Woke up Saturday and hurt my index finger. How? I used it. I suspect it’s a pinched nerve, running from the large knuckle on the hand all the way to the tip. Several ‘hot’ spots I don’t even want to come close to touching. Not getting better with rest. Use it and it hurts.

My bro says go to the auditions. Try out. Use the group for social contact; it’s my best option right now and until my own theatre workshop materializes, it’s almost my only social contact. Found the director for the upcoming production is the dude who never answered me about my first script. Don’t hold out a lot of hope that I’ll get chosen for a role; I know how that shit goes. If he’s been avoiding talking to me over a script I sent, he’s sure as fuck not gonna want to see me multiple times over the next several months. Also got notice to “memorize” a passage. Seriously? I saw these people rehearse last year. They used scripts in rehearsals right up to a few hours before the curtain went up. And you want me to memorize a passage in a few days to audition?

Have thought (and thought and thought) about the best approach on my story for a script. Worked out each and every version, what works, what doesn’t, what I need to foreshadow and reveal. Came to one conclusion, which sticks no matter what version I end up doing: I’m using a family to tie it together. It’s tight, compact, and offers the best opportunity to convey everything I want to without losing the audience by having too many characters. I’ve got to have an emotional connection with what’s going on, and if I just have random cops, scientists, and kids with no central hub I’m not sure I can achieve that. A family allows me to center everything: one parent a cop, one parent a scientist, and a kid. Perfect.

Seeing my doc on Thursday morning. Would have liked it to be any other time than my one on one language lessons, but I’ll take what I can get. Almost feel like I shouldn’t even bother. I’m old. Hearing fades. Maybe this is it for me. Always having to ask people to speak up. Cupping my hand around my ear in a crowded room to make out a few words of conversation. *sigh* It would be nice to have the ringing stop.

Worried about today. Worried about my future. Worried I won’t die fast enough or easy enough and I’ll fuck everything up again, even in death. Worried people (the theatre group) are laughing at me behind my back. Worried about my hearing, my health, my always semi-poor mental state.

Pushing it all back, doing my best to not think down those paths. Positive thoughts for positive outcomes and all that crap, right? But I feel a bit zombified.

A Tall Order

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Saturday, and I can’t sleep. Up after seven hours. Up because my side hurt. My sciatica hurt. I felt everything in my ears shift and my left side kinda got blocked again. And I’ve a ghost of a headache that won’t stop haunting me.

Getting older sucks.

I’m obsessed with radio script format. Began work yesterday with five items open on my desktop so I could view all the notes, the template, my original story, and the file I was working on, all at once. Slow going, but I think I’m getting the hang of it. Roughed out an outline with a min of eight scenes to get the story told properly. Keeping in mind that those eight scenes should stick within the 3-4 page range, since I’m shooting for a 30 minute finished piece. Thinking of casting requirements, and which roles can be doubled up. Figuring out how to write proper sound notes. Most of all, I’m working out how to tell the story sans narrator. Might have to fall back on some narration if I can’t get the script within 30 pages with all the dialogue needed to convey what simple narration can do, but I’ll save that as a last minute thing. I know it’s  a stronger story without voice overs.

Did not get to the gym yesterday. All good intentions setting out, but by the time I returned home after my language lesson I was so wound up by one of my teachers I just couldn’t head over there. Worried I was a bit of a bitch in class yesterday; had to call said teacher on what I considered a real mistake: he made the claim that ‘ankle’ and ‘heel’ are the same thing. Hey; my Dutch isn’t great, but your ankle is your ankle and your heel is your heel – two very different things, no matter what language you’re talking. I felt berated by said teacher over a new word, which my Dutch to English dictionary defined as ‘stationery’. As a Midwestern US expat, ‘stationery’ is very specific to me: it’s a printed letterhead. Here, it’s pens and pencils (what I’d call writing instruments). But no. I was told I was wrong. I was needled over my answer. I explained myself. I was told I was wrong again. I asked what the correct answer was, and was told to guess yet again. This is the behavior I get on my Friday lessons, and it drives me UP THE FUCKING WALL. I don’t guess my least likely answer; I give you my best informed choice. Don’t keep asking me to throw out words AT RANDOM to try and figure out YOUR idioms. This is CLASS. Fucking TEACH ME. And this was on top of him disagreeing with my Thursday teacher and telling me two of her answers were wrong, then bashing her a bit by asking ‘who is she? a professional teacher?’, like HE’S a professional teacher (he’s not; he’s a volunteer) or anything special.

*GROWL!*

… Just a wee bit pissed off about that.

So a few days after posting a notice on FB, the theatre group has sent me an email reiterating the dates for auditions and providing a link to the script text. They’ve also asked for my preference on audition dates, and I think I’ll go for the latter night. I’ll show up the first night, to watch, to listen, and to ask a select few if they’ll join me on my own script reading/workshop project. But I’ll leave the actual audition for the second night. You know how it goes: people are more apt to remember the last couple of acts than the middle five at a big show, and the same thing goes for auditions. Plus, I want an opportunity to see how other people interpret the roles, I want to hear what the members of the group say for feedback or suggestions, and I want some time to figure out if I’m really going to audition or not. These people have yet to convince me they’re not all dicks.

Has my brother somehow been reading this blog? I have no idea. I can tell you he’s been extra supportive of me lately, and even listened to me when I talked about the radio script I’m writing. It’s a pleasant change to hear supportive comments rather than the same blow-offs I’ve had recently. My guess is he’s feeling the pressure is off him now regarding our immigration situation. I hope that gives me reason to hope (note: it’s all going down on the coming Tuesday).

Forgot to make an appointment to see the doc about my hearing. Putting it on my calendar for Monday, along with getting my roots done at that student hair salon. That’s setting up Monday to be a wash, with little to no time for my own work, but that’s the way it’s got to be. Maybe dishes won’t get done. Somehow they’ve magically been finished every day, neatly cleaned, dried, and re-stacked. That fairy might take time off to write a few lines in her new script.

Meantime, there’s loads to do. Move, so I’m not in so much pain. Write to make my deadline. Saddle up and do a dust bunny drive. Hit one of my last three big cleaning jobs and get it done. Most importantly: don’t freak out, don’t hurt myself, and try to keep my smoking in check.

Ye, Gods! That’s a tall order.

On, Teb

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Good or bad, my new script is out. Hard to stop beating myself up; the place I sent it to had an on-line submission page, and only allowed one PDF file to be uploaded – yet it asked for the script AND a cover letter, two completely different things. Couldn’t make it work any other way; I had to go back to the on-line software I’m using and insert a cover letter at the beginning of the play text. It’s not where a cover letter should sit, and that’s bugging the hell out of me. But if anyone knocks me down for what I did, they can suck the balls of a donkey. It was the only way to give them everything they wanted. So, that’s California. Now I’m haunting the website of a New York theatre, waiting for their submission period to open. Gotta keep checking online, too: never know when a new notice will be posted.

Still really fucking scared. I get moments of heart stopping anxiety. My body goes cold, the never ending pit to Hell opens up in my stomach, and I completely leave my body. Those moments are less frequent now than a week ago, so I guess I’m making progress. Can’t say it feels like it.

I’m probably making progress on losing weight, too. But again: I don’t feel like it. My body looks (to me) as wide and as fat as ever before. Lately I’m at the gym for extended periods to prevent me from smoking all afternoon, not for weight loss. Two hours a day should accomplish both: no smoking and loads of caloric burn. Yet somehow my smoking level remains fairly constant (according to the butts in my ashtray the next morning), and my body is still flabby and thick.

The sciatica pain is better. That’s something.

Hearing: same. High end ringing and fizzy popping like you just opened a can of soda and put it right up against your ear to listen to the carbonation bubbles – all the freaking time. Get up, that’s what I hear. Go to sleep, that’s what I hear. It’s at a low enough level I can hear most other things as well, and in noisy situations I can’t make out the ringing or the fizzing popping, but put me in a quiet space and it’s the first thing I’m aware of. Bass frequencies are difficult or (in some cases) even missing from my audible range. High end frequencies cause all the fizzing popping to get even worse, and I’ve found some music on my iPod tweaked too high on mixing boards; it hurts me.

Handled a bread knife yesterday doing the dishes and didn’t think once about cutting myself.

Experiencing fear and a bit of amazement over the idea of being able to reach out and make things happen in my life. Case in point: been talking about getting a read through of my first script since I began writing it. Now – BOOM! Have two English speaking and reading volunteers, and a possibility of using the comic guys’ new shop one evening if nothing else pans out for me. Suddenly it’s become real, and not just a stray thought. And I find myself shy about doing it. Scared. Nervous. Worried, even. How can that happen so fast for this one thing, yet so much of my life involves waiting around for months at a time?

Going on six weeks now with the local theatre group. Still waiting for that announcement that’s “coming soon” for auditions.

Speaking of waiting, I was treated to a rejection email the other day from a publication I sent a piece out to over a year ago. Gee! Like I couldn’t figure out you didn’t want to use my stuff after not hearing from you for thirteen months. But thanks for the standard automatic reply.

I am flying blind, and terrified.

Still. On, Teb.

A harsh woman

The morning has been derailed. How and why? Two well placed words; that’s all it took. Two words connected with (again) one of my uncle’s emails: Sarah Palin.

As if I want to hear anything that person with a vagina has to say! (SP is not a woman in my book; SP is a man with a vagina or womb, just like the word “woman” implies.)

The why of it all escapes me. Perhaps it was just to rile me up; people tend to find that shit funny. Like me getting angry and passionate over something is fucking funny. Ha, ha, ha! Look at the female getting all upset over women’s rights!

Some things are good. I find it good that I don’t live in the states anymore. I find it especially good that I have zero access to guns (great temptation this morning, and if I still lived in the US and had access to guns – which I would have IF I lived in the states because guns are fucking everywhere – I’d start killing people).

Some things are bad. My sciatica woke me up this morning, despite the exercise I’ve been getting. I’m disappointed in myself to not be able to ride out the latest tide of bullshit from my family without losing it.

Looking forward to my bro going to the comic book shop today. Good! Get the fuck out of the house!! Let me work on MY writing for a change. Feels a lot lately like my life revolves around my brother’s. Help him do his stuff. Make sure the kitchen is clean so he can cook dinner. Tidy up when he’s out of the house so it’s not a mess. Been trying so hard to make sure his life runs smoothly that my own is getting left behind.

Not that I have much of a life to live.

Things I don’t understand:

  • I don’t understand women in videos who get real excited and start screaming when one of their children announces they’re going to have a baby. Do. not. get it.
  • I don’t understand how so many people on tv shows can get involved in community projects yet remain such shitty people.
  • I don’t understand what’s taking so fucking long with the theatre group. All they need to do is set a date and announce it.
  • I don’t understand people who lie to make themselves feel better. Lying out of guilt I can understand. Lying because you want to hurt the other person or put them down, I don’t get.
  • I don’t understand anyone who supports 45 or any right-wing politician. Talking to those people is like hitting my head against a brick wall. They’re all ignorant. You can point out every hypocrisy in their agenda, and the followers all just nod their heads and say ‘yep’ like it makes sense.
  • I don’t understand men who think rape is funny, or something to be streamed live on Facebook, or something to be excused because they have “a sexual emergency”. Cut all their dicks off.
  • I don’t understand why I have such a hard time keeping it together.

…Right. Popped a codeine pill for the sciatica. Smoking a J to calm the Sarah Palin anger. And screw you if some judgmental crap just came up for you in your head; I’m fucking dealing with it in my own fucking way and fuck you if you don’t fucking get it.

I’ve been called a harsh woman, and I guess that’s true. Cross the line with me and you’ll never make amends. You can’t. My “line” goes pretty far. I’ll take a lot of shit, a lot of pain from people before I cut them off. But once cut off, that’s it. And if it seems a surprise to you, if you’re one of those people who turn around to look at me with a shocked expression on your face because up to that very moment I haven’t complained about you bashing me around every single second of your existence, then my response is simple: you have no human decency. Not even the concept of it. If you had any inkling of decency you’d understand your behavior is unacceptable. Hurtful. Wrong. But no. You try to make me feel I’m wrong. I reject that.

But I will mirror your behavior back to you. Laugh at rape and I’ll call for all dicks to be cut off. Treat me like a second class citizen and you’ll find a full scale revolt on your hands. Belittle me, hurt me, ridicule me – it will all come back to you in spades. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But never mistake a passage of time for the idea that I forgot what you did to me. I didn’t forget.

And I am a harsh woman.

Vomit

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Still no word from my friends, though I did read about the internet hack so maybe it’s just a matter of time. Maybe they sent out messages to me and are waiting at their respective homes, thinking ‘why haven’t I heard from Beeps in a few days?’. Not much response on my last post, either, and I’m telling myself similar things; the web is down, people are busy, I wrote it at an odd time in the day for me, etc. Figures. I have loneliness problems and the Universe just seems to mirror that and shoot it right back at me.

My head’s finally cleared, though. I’m out of writing mode and back to responding like a real human. I hear what people say and see what’s going on around me. My old doubts have crept back up on me too. Been thinking my script really isn’t all that funny, or good, or anything. That big L I generally feel floating somewhere around my forehead is lit up with neon – “Loser“. The odd thing is, it feels like I’ve come back into my old self. Like that manic fantasizing, positive about me person is just a fake. A costume I put on once in a while. I can wear it, it looks good on me, but it feels wrong. In the end, it feels wrong. It chafes at me.

How odd to say I feel better even tho my head is doing a number on my ego again!

Rain and cold weather are coming. How do I know? My knee hurts. Yep. Turning into that old cracker in films that gimps around, looks at the sky, and announces rain. How’d ya know that, granny? My rheumatism is actin’ up, child. The knee doesn’t lie. Oh, lovely! Maybe I should buy a corn cob pipe, too.

Hell.

My very cute physiotherapist made the comment last time I saw him that I was ‘a young person stuck in a body that has an old person’s disease’. Been this way for a while. RA took me down in my mid 30s – and when I say took me down, I mean took me DOWN. If you see me roll my eyes or hear my exasperated sigh when someone points out one knuckle on their finger that’s affected and painful from RA that’s me thinking ‘oh, poor you!’. I. couldn’t. move. Bed ridden for – well, if you added up all the times I was bed ridden, probably for about three to four years of my life. Three. to four. years. Years. Years asking my brother to help me get up. Years calling for help in the bathroom because I couldn’t get up off the toilet. Years of needing help feeding myself, dressing, do anything that a normal person takes for granted. Down. All the way down. For about 4 months it got in my jaw and I could barely chew.

Yeah, I feel trapped.

And you know, it’s not something I can easily get other people to understand without coming off as the world’s biggest downer. You think YOU got pain; let me tell you about painSo I stay silent most of the time. When I do talk, I hear the same shit I hear every single time I bring the subject up: but you’re so young! Young my ass! YOU get in this body for a few days and tell me how young you end up feeling. Oh – and see if you can stop yourself feeling depressed, too.

*sigh* I was told on Thursday that 51 is still young. Is it? Is it really? Because I remember my folks at 51 and they weren’t young. They weren’t doddering grey haired people, either, but in no way were they still young. Been thinking that maybe the Dutch as a people tend to live longer than I’m used to seeing, and maybe that’s why I keep hearing this stuff. If they’re used to seeing people live ’til 80, 90, or 100, 51 IS still pretty young. But I’m used to seeing people die by the time they hit 70. To me, 51 doesn’t leave me a lot of time.

Maybe it’s just that illusion of youth that seems to follow me no matter where I go or how long I live that’s garnering all these comments. But it’s weird. I hated getting slighted for my age when I was younger. You know the types of comments that can do it: you’ll understand when you’re my age. You’ll change your mind when you get older. And now I’m older. And I still hear things that make me feel slighted. Sorry, but when I tell you I’m bloody disabled with this fucking disease and all I hear in response is ‘but you’re so young!’ it feels like you’re negating what I just said. That my RA can’t be all that bad because you think I look young. I’m sure it’s not being said with that intention. But that’s what it’s starting to feel like.

My rheumatologist and my bro are the only ones that really seem to take the disease seriously. Then again, my rheumatologist has seen my blood results and my brother’s been the one helping me on and off the toilet for the past 16 years. They know. Anyone else, meeting me on a good day…Well. I was a consummate actress at one point in my life.

Blah, blah, blah. Old age and rheumatism. If that’s all I can write about, I really HAVE turned into an old woman.

Finally walked in and joined the gym near my home. No excuse to not get exercise now! I took that away from me. Even if there’s a foot of snow on the ground I can hop the metro to the next stop and the gym entrance is right there. Maybe I’ll break my gym cherry and go in this morning. Sweat in front of an open window. That’s bound to bring some stuff up. *rolls eyes*

Like I haven’t been vomiting up my issues all morning.

Dance Moves

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Headed out on a walk around the block yesterday to loosen my back and side muscles that felt so beat up after swimming. Came back an hour plus later. It was a gorgeous morning, absolutely perfect for walking, and I found the longer I walked the better I felt. I really have turned the corner with this exercise thing.

Kept my promise to allow myself as long as I wanted on music, too. Managed to work for over two hours before I needed to shut down. My new song is cleaned up and EQ’d. Another time slot to work on effects and then I’ll be looking to record it. Very jazzed about this piece. It’s not quite the psychedelic trance I’ve been doing, nor the pop sounding vocal pieces I’ve been writing. This is different. It’s a little throw back to my roots, but done the way I would have LIKED to hear my early stuff. I’m calling it ‘gezellig’, which means pleasant in Dutch. At 120 bpm it’s a step down in tempo from the rest of the material I’m working on for my new release. Somehow I managed to intertwine two melodies so that they work in harmony, yet offer unique melodic structure to the song. I finally got the song set and just stood back in the room to really listen…

And I picked up my feet and began to dance.

I became a DJ because I can’t really dance. Used to; used to love it. But somewhere around the age of 20 my hips began to freeze up. Rather than a smooth cycle when I rotated my hips, I’d get a hard lurch to one side – and pain. And I don’t know any moves. Like, ANY. I’ve always felt klutzy on the dance floor. But suddenly yesterday I was stepping in a small box. Sambaing or rumbaing – I don’t know. MOVING. Turning. My feet kept the beat and in a moment I wasn’t just shuffling around the floor or trying, I was in full fantasy dance mode, complete with a very handsome partner in my arms.

I have NEVER in my LIFE fantasized over dancing with a guy in a waltz or samba or anything. Ever. Mostly because I always felt so clumsy. Why should I fantasize over something so very, very impossible for me achieve? Yet there I was, twirling around my very cramped front room, pretending I was on Dancing with the Stars or something.

And it was fun.

Maybe I’ll learn to dance yet.

Today I face my first language lesson of the week. I feel unprepared. Did a lot of reading since the last session. Slow reading. I can still only cover about 6-7 pages in an hour. But I haven’t talked much, haven’t conjugated verbs, haven’t pounded vowel sounds over and over. Well, this is part of my taking it slow project. Only an hour a day max on language work. I think I’m beginning to understand ‘toch’, a word that often comes up in sentences and means ‘still, yet, all the same, even so, indeed, anyway, anyhow’. It’s sort of an appendage word; it’s there, it adds meaning, but I still think right now you could strip it away and be perfectly intelligible. Unfortunately, it’s used. A lot. So I’m trying to get used to it. Seeing where it gets inserted in sentences, repeating the interjections I see (toch, maar) and just trying to get the hang of it. Been reminding myself, too, that I’m facing several regional accents. One of the instructors I work with on Friday is really riding me on those vowel sounds, but his accent is different from that of my first teacher who rode me on vowel sounds. So that’s tough. I’m trying to sort out some sort of middle ground; some pronunciation that everyone can understand immediately. Don’t know that I’ll be able to find that, but I’m trying. And in the end, I don’t know how vital it is. My first teacher said to me that some words sound identical, and you’ll only know the difference due to the other words used in the sentence. Plus, I’ve been listening to native Dutch speakers talking at a ‘normal’ adult pace. All those subtle vowel sounds get blurred when the speed picks up. But I understand the importance of getting it straight at the start. Knowing clearly and certainly which vowel sounds I’m trying to make, which words I’m trying to say. And how to spell them.

So. Finish up my web work, squeeze in half an hour of play time (because I REALLY need play time every day), breakfast, get dressed, and off to my lesson. No promises, but I want to try – if I feel good and have the energy – to come back via the mall. Do a bit of shopping I’ve been promising myself. Get some new underwear. Look for one new nice autumn top. Maybe even pick up some new socks. I’ve got a coupon for my favorite clothing store. And I am definitely in need of those items.

Got a flyer in the post for a local gathering of home owners and residents. My bro and I both want to go. It may be more for businesses than individuals, but it’s another opportunity to get out among people who live in our area. Mix. Say hello. Get to know locals by site, at least. And, of course, try out our stilted Dutch. Go through the inevitable questions that are covered by our computer lessons (boy! did they get THOSE right!) like ‘what’s your name?’, ‘where are you from?’, and of course ‘how long have you lived here?’.

My social calendar is beginning to fill up. Classes, theatre group, neighborhood gathering. I’m excited by that. Hopeful. A little concerned I may be picking up a bit too much steam. Pushing myself a wee bit too hard. Trying to remember moderation – in everything (including moderation itself; it’s good to once in a while go beyond what you think you can or should do).

This is a new balance point. It feels a little awkward, yet it also feels right. Instinctive.

Just like those dance moves.

I ain’t losing it

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*Moan* [There is nowhere on my body that doesn’t ache right now.]

I have no patience for people who mouth ‘I’m dyin’!’ just because they’re a little tired. I’ve a class full of them during my swim time. They half raise their arms and vaguely wave them about in-between their gossip sessions and then go to their doctors and say ‘but I swim for an hour a week!’ in protest when the doctors tell them to get some bleeding exercise.

My brother tells me I’m a bit of a masochist.

But for me, exercise is pushing your body beyond your comfort zone. You’ve got to work the machine until it’s tired. It sweats. The breathing gets fast. You feel bloody uncomfortable and want to stop – in my book, that’s a warm up. Jump higher, punch your arms out with all your strength, lift your legs like your life depends on it – that’s me. And I do it laughing. Laughing because I know I’m red in the face, I’m tired and kind of flopping around a bit, and I probably look ridiculous. Laughing because I can STILL do it at my age. Laughing because under the red face, the tiredness and floppiness and complete ungainly ridiculousness I go through, I feel better. Angry? Punch it out until you can’t lift your arms. Self pity? Kick it out, side to side. It’s as much therapy as exercise, and I know it.

Yesterday I had occasion to head downtown for a short errand. I’m short on clothes -again; need to do laundry – so I chose a slightly better outfit than I’d usually throw on for a quick metro trip. Out came my purple pants. And I wondered. On they went…easily. No tug around my hips, no gathering in front needed to button them up. Just on, zip, bam.

I’ve lost weight. No maybe about it. At least 10 pounds.

My aunt once told me it was easier to lose weight when you’re young than when you get older. I’ve been young, I’m now older (at least as old as she was when she said that to me) and I’m here to say it’s a load of bunk. I’m sure losing weight when you’re older IS more difficult if you let your body seize and freeze up. Then getting the machine to move fast enough to do some real good is a tough thing. But why are you letting your body get that bad?

Just read a ‘guide to healthy living’ from my insurance carrier. Part of it was an “inspirational story” *UGH* about a paraplegic who’s got this positive attitude towards life. As usual, that kind of thing set me off. It shoves depression in people’s faces, just makes most people who REALLY struggle feel even worse because (as I explained to my brother), it sounds like people say ‘Look at this person with no arms and legs. THEY can be happy. Why can’t you?’ It’s a blame game, not an inspiration. And I’m sorry, but I CAN’T relate to someone having no arms and no legs. Absolutely zero of my fantasies – good or bad – involve that scenario. I’ve got nothing to go on with it, other than faint imaginings.

But I DO know about being incapacitated. Hurting so much you can’t hold back the moans. Being bed ridden for almost a year at a time. Needing help with things like getting on or off the toilet, or feeding yourself. THOSE things, I’ve lived. So I feel absolutely confident on sharing a personal motto:

Move it or lose it.

Get up off your ass and make that machine blow the carbon out of the carburetor. Rev it up, get it moving. If you don’t reach a point where you HAVE to slow down to catch your breath, you ain’t got it.

Push, push, push. I feel real good even tho I’m so damned aching. That’s the endorphins. And this can all be yours, for the price of an hour a day and a bit of effort. Keep your body open. Stretch! For fuck’s sake, if you do nothing else in a day for your body, stretch. Keep it flexible. You know the old saying – the tree that can bend with the wind survives; the tree that snaps, dies. Keep bendy. Be Gumby.

Gonna grab some paracetamol and head out on a stroll. Not gonna kid myself; I overdid it yesterday. But that’s a good thing! It feels good to be so achey. Am I making any sense? Probably not. But I’ll keep it light today. More stretch, less sweat. Back for an hour of Dutch language reading – starting to enjoy the comic book I’m making my way through. And then –

It’s music time. On goes the equipment, on with the headphones. I’ve promised myself all afternoon.

And slowly, things are re-shaping around me. Heard from two of my three MIA friends. My body is shedding the excess weight and getting stronger. My reading is picking up in speed and comprehension. I have plans to get out and opportunities to meet people. All that fake it til you make it stuff is starting to pay off. The smiles, the nods, the trying.

Or maybe it’s just my yearly autumnal manic cycle.

Change is back in the air. Change I feel I have the power to manipulate, rather than it having power to manipulate me. This is different, though. It’s not based on pipe dreams alone. It’s based on solid, hard work. It’s based on me not giving up. It’s based on all those days I tried and felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere but I kept going anyway.

I’ve kept moving. And I ain’t losing it.

Like I care

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Tramadol. Diazepam. After a tearful and painfully slow walk around the neighborhood – which took 45 minutes rather than the usual 20 – I called for the big guns. My back just seized up entirely.

I tried the automatic phone line for prescription refills. Got through the first 5 or 6 things in Dutch and then it lost me. Called the front desk and explained (in Dutch) and got assured the system was difficult when your language is limited. Got thru the entire phone call without using English. Best of all, by 2 in the afternoon I had my pills and was only half an hour away from relief.

A night of deep diazepam induced sleep and my back feels amazing. Still a hitch on the left side, but way, way down from what it was. I can walk like a normal person again. Even hit the pool this morning, though I didn’t swim as long as I normally do and took 15 minutes in the whirlpool.

Yippee!

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Make me feel better, world. So it did. Another phone call, this time about my injections. All handled in Dutch. My confidence is growing. I can understand and do this. Bloody hell! Two phone calls all in Dutch. Didn’t even have much anxiety over them.

The plan is to rest most of the day, take a stroll in the afternoon to make sure my back stays open and flexible. Staying on the drugs for now, but I hope to be weaning off tomorrow. Three days of diazepam and I risk depression. I don’t want that now, when I’m starting to feel better.

And Friday I begin a new language class. Got the message in yesterday. I’ll have two instructors, so chances are good I’ll be able to understand at least one of them. It’s the A1-A2 level, which is a step up from where I’ve been working. I think I’m ready for it. I expect to tread water for a bit, not understand everything, and make plenty of mistakes. I also think real focus every week with homework plus the work I do on my own is gonna make a huge difference.

You know…I can’t help but hate my painful periods. The times my RA flares up, my back goes out – anything with real physical agony. And yet I can’t deny that every time the pain recedes I feel an amazing lift up. I guess when even breathing becomes painful your focus gets down to just that – the pain. Everything else tends to slide away due to the immediacy of what you feel. It’s just clenching your hands and teeth as you make yourself move – all very slow, very focused. Trust me to get into some weird, masochistic form of concentration. When that’s finally gone, when you can finally take a breath or move your head without searing pain…well, it feels like everything is gone from you. The pain came and burnt everything else out, and you’re left standing in an open field, able to raise your arms to the sun for what feels like the very first time.

Reborn.

Doesn’t take long for life to come crashing in. First thing I noticed was my hair is REALLY grown out and I’ve GOT to make an appointment to get it done. Like, today. I think I’m gonna ask about going lighter. I like this almost black hair, but not on my face. No matter how dark I dye my eyebrows it doesn’t quite fit me. And I want shorter layers. I’m sick of pulling my hair back every day because it gets in my way. Now there’s a sign of me getting ready to work: revamping my hair.

Well, autumn is here. That changeling season with summer sun and fall wind. My time to romp, and how ready I am! As usual, I’ll probably try to stuff an entire year into a few months. I hope to remain a bit more balanced in my approach rather than falling into mono-mania with my focus on one thing and one thing only. I’m just far enough into a Doris Day mindset to say ‘que sera, sera, whatever will be will be’ – oh god, why did I start THAT? Indicative of what’s to come, no?

Ding. Time to take a happy pill.

More SpongeBob SquarePants. Almost through Season 1. Had a real thrill yesterday, watching a Halloween special. Vliegende Hollander. That’s what I kept hearing. Took me a bit, then it dawned on me – Flying Dutchman. I was so happy I actually punched the air and let out a whoop. Not sure yet if I’ll watch the season over again now that I feel I understand more (still struggling with all the words in the opening song) or move onto The Powerpuff Girls.

Hm. I am probably a little bit manic. Yes? No? *zooms across the room*

Joy!

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Well, if you can’t enjoy that then you might as well kick it. [Ooooo….my apologies for that if you’re not feeling it. That’s a poorly-written self-reference; I’m not telling you to kick it.]

Guess all my self talk and belly button gazing did some good. Either that or I’m just really high.

*snicker*

Like I care.