Just for me

It’s done. I guess when you go into dental surgery, you want a dentist who’s good and, preferably, fast. I got both. In and out in under 10 minutes. Barely any swelling. Sore, but that’s to be expected.

Can’t help but chide myself a bit. Well, there you go. You wound yourself up about this for two damned weeks and it only took 10 minutes. Once more I’m vowing to myself to do better, to  stay calmer, to not panic the next time something comes up.

Yeah. Right.

Spending the weekend inside. While I woke this morning to snow outside my window, it’s nothing in comparison to what hit Ireland. I’ve been checking on Irish news sources, horrified over what I know is currently going down in that country. To say the Irish aren’t prepped for a lot of snow might be the understatement of the decade. What makes me saddest is the knowledge that the most vulnerable members of society are often the most isolated, which means out on the end of those snowy peninsulas where no one can get to right now there are elderly people without food, without heat, and in need of medical attention. People will die. And no one will give a damn.

I feel lucky to be here. To NOT be one of those people who are dying.

Only thirty pages left to read in my book. Plan on sitting down this afternoon and snuggling up with it. Ms. Polly Perfect in me is very happy and excited; she knows on Monday she’ll be able to turn that book in and clearly state she’s reading another. Gimme a gold star, teacher. I did good. Not that doing good is difficult in this situation. Ms. Perfect likes to read, so it’s no great stretch to find she’s gobbled up yet another book and wants more. Ms. Perfect is also happy with her pronunciation. She doesn’t like the fact she doesn’t know ALL the words, but she’s very happy that every time she opens her mouth native Dutch speakers compliment her on her language. Slow and steady. We’re getting there, Polly. Just be patient with me.

Have a bit of something on my desktop. Can’t really call it a story, tho I suppose that’s what it is. For me, it’s too real to call ‘a story’. It is my memories, my tale, told from my eyes and my perspective. I’m…doing my best to stay away from ’emotional’ language. There’s a bit of a disconnect going on with me; just state what happened. Don’t color it. Don’t say how much the pain hurt; pain is pain is pain. Everyone knows it hurts. Matter of fact statements can slap readers far harder than trying to color everything in. The pain went on. No one interfered, no one questioned it. Later, the child was given a spoonful of sugar that hid something bitter. That’s all you need. If you don’t read that and understand something is wrong in the child’s life then it’s you who has the problem. …Don’t know who I’m writing this for. The psychiatrist? Somewhere I think I can submit it? Who the fuck knows. I’m just writing it. That’s okay. I’m allowed to do that.

Here it is March and still nadda from the theater group regarding my script. I don’t think they’ll have time to do it. Maybe they won’t even have time to do another production this year; lots of foot dragging going on. No call for auditions. No discussion on how or what to do this autumn. And with April’s performance of last season’s play in Amsterdam, I just don’t see it happening. Plus…I really don’t want them to throw my idea together last minute. Give me – and my work – a bit more respect than that. No, you guys can’t do it if you can’t give yourselves enough time to learn the parts. No, I can’t give you audio clips if you don’t give me the time to create them. At the rate the group is currently crawling along, they won’t even hold auditions before May. Then it’ll be a couple of rehearsals before they take their summer holiday. In effect, they wouldn’t be able to really begin work on another play before September. I don’t want my first production to be so haphazard and sloppily put together. I spent a year crafting the story. Let’s give it a bit more effort than that. Both I and my work deserve it. And I hope, if the situation arises, that I’ll be able to state that clearly to the group. I deserve more than the dregs of your time. I’d prefer we put my script on hold ’til next year if that’s the way this year shakes out. Plus, I’ll need more than a month or two to do the sound effects. And I’m not gonna put myself or my bro under pressure to do everything in a short time because the group can’t pull it together in a timely manner. I’ll need to tell them that, because right now I think they think I could do the sound effects in a matter of weeks. Not that I blame them; if you don’t work with sound, you don’t get it. But I’ve had that before. What do you mean, you can’t put this all together in such a short time period? I could. I could just turn on my computer and do it. No, you couldn’t. You can’t do it, and that’s the point. If you think you can get this layered sound I want in just a day or two, you don’t know what you’re talking about. And you don’t know sound production.

Yeah. Speak up, Beeps. They gotta know that one ahead of time: I need time to pull that rabbit out of the hat. It ain’t magic; it’s hard work.

And let’s be clear: it’s hard work I’m willing to do for me. Not for you. Not for the theatre group.

Just for me.

Advertisements

?

Sometimes, the Universe is very, very kind to me.

…Or, perhaps that’s always true, and I’m just too stubborn or blind to notice. Bears some deep thinking. Whichever; this morning I received an olive branch, of sorts. Finally a reply from the US theatre group on my work. The artistic director has been busy as all get-out, but she hasn’t forgotten about me and will read the trilogy as soon as her schedule chills. She also gave me a heads up that the fest she wants to take my work to has a time limit of one hour – which means chances of her taking the full story to the fest are nil. But I’m pleased to be remembered and acknowledged, even in this small manner. It’s all I ever really ask for. Sure, I want more but…in the end, I’ll be satisfied if I’m treated like a human being.

This long awaited note comes on the heels of introspective questioning. Do I judge too much? Is it time to let all that go? My conclusion was that yes, in some ways it is time to let it go. It is not time to let go of my truth, nor forget the forces that made me. But it is time to let go of holding the past so close to my heart. I have a new start here, with new people. Those diseased roots that grew me…I’ve cut them off. I’m branching out now, digging into new surroundings.

I’m finding respect for myself in the eyes of others, something I don’t have much experience with. And I find I walk a fine line these days. My behavior and way of thinking is aberrant. Strange. I am often called upon to justify my actions: why didn’t you speak up, why did you just walk away, why do you feel that way about yourself? It’s the shock in people’s reactions that’s waking me up. They’re shocked. They view me as together, intelligent, a role model, even… They can’t imagine someone like me feeling as bad as I do about myself. I hear it in their unspoken words: if I had what you have, I wouldn’t feel that way. That isn’t true, of course, which is where the explaining comes in. But it’s hard to explain without getting wrapped up in it. I am learning the words. Abuse. Neglect. They are difficult for my mouth to form. Never thought speaking one or two words aloud could cost me so much. It does, though.

Washed the illness gook off me. Feels good to be clean of it. Still another day of anti-virals, and more monitoring to make sure I’m truly recovered. Mild headaches have become a daily thing, and I can’t quite figure out why. Probably just from staring at my computer so long, playing games to distract myself.

Been reminding myself of real time passage. My original estimate was to finish the trilogy around this time. I’m wa-a-a-a-a–ay ahead of myself. Must acknowledge this latest manic streak. No wonder I fell ill. Truthfully, it’s been going on for a while. Since the play. Kept saying to myself ‘just get thru this; then you can be sick if you need to’ but it was one thing after the other. Play. Film auditions. Film shoot. US theatre interest. Holidays. Trilogy. Premiere. And my body kept up with it all. Allowed me to go, go, go. Long have I known about my tendency to lose time, to work until I drop. I have done it on a few occasions. It’s just one more reason why my brother is needed: he tells me when to stop. I don’t always listen, but he’s there with healthy food, good advice, and understanding when I finally give out. [Thank you, Universe.]

…Yeah. That’s a lot of mania in the past few months. No; nip that in the bud right now. That’s a lot of mania in the last TWO months. November was just a wind-up. AND you did it over winter, a time you generally fall ill from something or other. Props, girl. You finished an amazing amount of work in a very short time period. But…uh…you DO know we can’t keep doing this, right? You’re gonna have to make a decision. If you can’t handle the mania generated during certain events, you’ll have to avoid them. We were doing fine with the play and writing. Maybe a bit manic, but manageable. The film, now! That threw us. It continues to throw us. Perhaps we should concentrate on the writing side. Being in front of the camera… Could you even survive a full length film? Months of shoots? You sent yourself into a world of pain after TWO DAYS. Don’t make excuses, don’t deny it. Let it sit there. Think about it.

And then there’s all those triggers from seeing yourself on ‘the big screen’. All. those. flaws. So big. Bigger than real life. Your teeth never looked so crooked. Your skin never seemed so wrinkled. And those under eye bags! Wow! You could pack enough clothing for a week’s holiday in those things. That thick, thick torso of yours. Seemed terribly thick next to your co-star, didn’t it? And do you even HAVE a jaw line?

Well. None of THAT’S changed.

Maybe I should just copy and paste this in a note to S. She’s the one who can’t believe I have body issues.

…And I know – I KNOW – because Goddess knows this is one thing I’ve actually learned: in ten year’s time I’ll look at that film and wonder why I had such gripes about the way I looked. I’ll see myself for reals, not the way I see myself now. Same thing happens when I look at pictures of myself from my 20s or 30s. I wasn’t fat. Nor ugly. I felt I was, all the time. And why? Millions of reasons. Thousands of comments.

Now, the Universe is showing me a kinder face. A gentler side.

I’m not sure how to handle it.

Set-up

Tuesday was a set-up all the way. From my uncontrolled rage late Monday night to getting turned around and almost taking the wrong tram in Den Haag on the way home, it was one thing after the other seemingly designed to throw me, upset me, and make me lose my cool. Keeping said cool – and I did, thankfully – was costly. I’m taking today down. Maybe tomorrow, too, after I see my GP about that shoulder wound (redder and more irritated now than when it happened). Maybe even the rest of the week.

Our student film won two awards. Two out of five total, and the only group to win more than one. My co-star won for overall acting. I’d be lying if I said my ego didn’t take a small twinge on that one, but I reminded myself these awards were designed for the students, not some random actor they pulled in off the street. And the group/family feeling was there: we hung out together, sat together, took pictures, and celebrated together. If there’s one thing I can and should feel proud of, it’s this: I made it crystal clear to these kids that any award we won was a group effort; not one of us could do what we did without the others doing an equally excellent job. That sentiment was echoed back to me by their acceptance speeches. Every single one of them spoke about the team. No one was left out. I did a good job there. They didn’t just mouth the words, they felt them. They knew.

It helped, naturally, that a few people singled me out to tell me loved my acting.

And once again, we talked about working together on more projects. My co-star has an internship at a Dutch film company and said if she gets any more roles in front of the camera she’s going to demand I co-star with her. S wants to market the film to some festivals, see even if she can get some money from it. The director is itching for a story to pull us all together again. I feel buoyed up by their exuberance. Certain that sometime, somehow, we’ll all do another film. Maybe it’ll be my script, maybe something different – it doesn’t really matter. What matters is we’re family.

Family. Now there’s a word that’s had nasty connotation for me. But I was shown a different kind of family last night. Not only with the crew; that alone was great. But S’s parents are the sweetest, nicest people I’ve met in a long time. Her father told me I was always welcome in their home, that I was part of the family. I felt so comfortable with them I fell into using Dutch because their English isn’t that good. And they encouraged me, and helped me, and made me feel okay with using what Dutch words I know. My brother pointed out that they’re probably impressed by me. They’re Muslim, and these days…well. I don’t blink an eye. I ask questions when I’m curious. I’m respectful. And they’re so warm and welcoming and friendly that I’m just gobsmacked that this bigotry against all Muslims has been allowed to fester. But I find it akin to any religion: I don’t really care, unless you try to use your beliefs against me. If I catch a whiff of lecturing or blame or shaming, I’ll come down on you and your beliefs like a hellcat. That’s happened innumerable times with Christian sects. But I’ve yet to hear such blanket disregard of ALL of Christianity. I should. It’s the same. thing.

And please! Who hasn’t been annoyed by certain groups ringing your doorbell on Sundays to preach the word to you?

But no. Similarly, I came across an article today out of the Davos meeting. They’re claiming that AI will replace mostly women’s jobs. One article said ‘women and other low-skilled workers’. My gripe, naturally, is the assumption of what kinds of jobs you’ll find women in. The sexism is blatant to me, yet there it was carried in news articles across the internet with an attitude of ‘ah, yes, here’s some REAL facts we can report’. Zero comprehension about why this is so sexist. Am I the only one who sees this?

Blatant. fucking. bigotry. It’s nasty no matter who it’s directed at. Sex, religion, skin color, ability or disability, gender identification, life choice, lifestyle, body type, age, manner of dress, amount in your bank account – the list is endless, if you want to break it down. We’re just beginning to tackle the big issues. Underneath that there are thousands of subcategories. And all of it comes down to one issue: respect for others. Simple as that. Be open, be honest, and above all, be kind. I realize that for a sadist being kind is inflicting pain; this is aberrant behavior and cannot be allowed to flourish. But if there’s one thing humanity has ALWAYS allowed to flourish, it’s sadism. This idea of ownership. Greed. Gluttony. Power. Control. This trait has, in fact, been glorified. Held up as the pinnacle of all that is “winning the game”.

Shows you how small and despotic the human race really is.

…The winds are high today, never good for my mind. My shoulder is burning, and I’m worried that I’ve had a shingles recurrence and scratched off the blisters. It would be a strange place for shingles blisters, but the wounds look like it and it just gets more and more painful as time passes. Which is why I’m seeing the doc tomorrow. Meantime, I’m sequestering myself. Just in case. Having a hard time believing that’s what’s happened, but there are a few symptoms I can’t just blow off. Headaches. Chills. Been thinking it’s just stress from the premiere and school and such. But…maybe not. The risk to public health is utmost in my mind, so I’m erring on the side of caution.

I recognize I’m in a web of set-ups.

Thoughts and thanks

Ninety minutes.

I’m not a big phone talker. Maybe when I was 14, but not since then. Use the phone to make a date or a plan to talk in person. So much better! But last night, I was on the phone for an hour and a half with S, the casting director from the film. Unexpected? Absolutely. But not unwanted, even tho the call came in around 10 at night (she’s a night owl).

I think I might have found a real friend.

Heard about the last day of filming, which went great. Heard how much everyone missed me, which felt great. And then, it was just talk. Talk about life, relationships, self confidence, our past…Well, we had a long conversation, so we covered a lot.

She said I was a role model. That she thought I was brave. I’m a bit stunned. Me? Brave? Maybe in front of the camera, but other than that I know how deeply chicken shit I tend to be. Yet, there it was: I was tagged as brave. I think that might be the first time in my life I’ve earned that particular label. I don’t feel like a role model. But then, I’m older. I’ve let a lot of stuff drop. I used to worry about people finding me attractive. Now I think about being a good person. I used to worry about saying too much, being too blunt. Now I state my opinions simply, without an argumentative tone in my voice. I understand how, as a younger woman, that might look brave and like someone you want to emulate. And good if that’s what it is! If I can take one day off of another woman’s internal suffering because they admire how I deal with life or men or politics or whatever, then I’ve lived a life worth living. I know how long I’ve sat in the shit. I don’t think anyone deserves to feel as bad about themselves as I have.

And I am so tired of seeing women tear themselves down. That shit that surfaces from competitiveness and petty jealousies. The nasty comments behind the back and to the face. The use of male branded put downs, male dominated ideals, male led lives. We have allowed ourselves to be led around the ring by our noses, just like the pieces of meat so many misogynists see us as. And those of us caught in that web deny it: I’m not jealous; she’s just a whore.

Can we be honest? Can we say that a lot of that surfaces because we’re all dick hounds after a good fuck? Because we all want this fairy-tale ideal we were fed from birth, that a perfect life includes a husband who has a good job? Okay, I know I’m ignoring the lesbians (sorry) and the non-sexual people out there. I’m making a point. This shaming of women BY women comes out of competition. It’s insidious, and it’s been instilled in us for forever.

Every time we do it, we play their game. Every time we do it, we support their foul opinions of us. Every time we do it, we kill ourselves and hamper our futures and the futures of all our daughters.

It’s got to stop.

If the only way you feel you can get ahead in life is to tear someone else down, you’re not making any progress.

I guess considering the world these days, that attitude alone should make me a role model. Embrace it, Beeps. You’re a knight in shining armour. Hm. And thus, comes understanding of how roles are thrust upon us. You just…live long enough that you become an oddity. An oddity that people admire, but an oddity nonetheless. And then they tell you, and you begin to monitor your own behavior. You start to become what they see you as, because a part of you doesn’t want to let them down. So you try. You reach for the bigger part of yourself. You keep doing that, keep trying.

And so you become.

That’s not to say you buy your own marketing. Therein lies the problem. I guarantee you that at the base of any star’s suicide is a deep seated belief that they didn’t really live up to their image. Maybe it’s not the ultimate tipping point, but it’ll be in the mix. It’s a big and ugly problem. Because people need those heroes. People need role models, the personalities larger than life to inspire and lead them thru dark times. But it can feel like a lie. I’m not really that good, I’m not really that smart, or that talented, or that beautiful… You need to balance what is and what is perceived.

Tread lightly, oh walkers of life! You never know when you will become. And you never quite realize, from where you are, just how difficult that balancing act is.

So. I have a friend. Admiration. Dizzying amounts of respect. It is as tough to take as the opposite. Especially after years of having no friends, no admiration, and no (or little) respect. And I don’t want to fuck it up. I want friends. I want people in my life. People who are happy to see me, people who are sad if I’m ill. People to share things with, because fun is amplified a thousand fold when you share it.

I am…at a loss. I don’t know why I’m getting this outpouring. I don’t know what I did so right to deserve it; if I did know, I’d keep doing it. All I can do is be the brightest me I can be. Listen, care. Slow down enough to really interact. Share my sense of humor. Hug people when I know they need it.

Waking every day with a sense of thankfulness. It’s totally new. I’ve had it for short bursts, over little accomplishments. This feels big, and solid. Like a river of lava flowing thru my life: huge, encompassing, and burning away all those truly inconsequential things that have been hampering me for so very long.

Thank you.

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?

Bliss

For the first time in my life, I have to (gulp) admit to the reality of my mother’s fears. I could have got a big head doing this. A really big head.

I was admired, complimented, and helped to within a hair’s breadth of my life.

Got there early because, well, that’s what I do. Always, if possible. The director was working on script changes. In 20 minutes I had a new script in my hands. Essentially the same, but the group couldn’t find a fake hand that looked good, so they changed it to brains. So, arms to brains, move around the eye references a bit…basically, screw with the dialogue just enough to make it maddening. No worries; that’s what rehearsal is for, right? Use the new script and learn it. Met my fellow cast members, and I’ve got to say the group did an excellent job. The female playing my daughter has my blue eyes, and the man playing my husband is appropriate looking age-wise and body-wise (not to tall nor too short). We could be a family. Spent the afternoon running scenes, trying out different approaches, different timing and actions. Worked on establishing a believable connection between daughter and mother characters.

But it was the side stuff that truly affected me. The fact that during the rehearsal runs, I received no corrections, no ‘try this’ – nothing! – while the other actors were asked to do it again, try this, I don’t believe you’re feeling that, etc. In fact, I just had to ask. Is this working? Do you like what I’m doing? Oh, the shiny, happy face the director turned to me! Yes, he said, I love it. You’re believable and creepy all at the same time. Or how silent the room became every time I opened my mouth to give my opinion. Or how everyone stepped back when I offered a suggestion to another actor. How the casting director took me shopping afterwards to find a dress for my role, how she told me she’d noticed me during the theatre open meetings, that I’d stood out from the rest of the crowd immediately for her, that I was SO bleeding good and would I please help the other actors and lead them in warm-up exercises before the shoot? Goddess! She even told me how she was the driving force behind hiring me, even before auditions. I kept telling them they want you, that you’re the one who can do this, she said. They kept asking me, why are you pushing her before the auditions? Let’s see what she can do. I told them they don’t know who they’re dealing with, that they should be thanking you for taking the role… Or how my ‘daughter’ automatically helped me in our fight scene to gracefully fall to the floor without hurting myself. The sheer respect I felt! Wow! Now I know why old white men fight so hard for that chairman’s seat on the board of directors. Power and respect. Heady stuff.

I kept in mind everything I ever said about having acting opportunities. I made sure to compliment the other actors. I thanked everyone. Cracked a few jokes now and then (it wasn’t hard; my wig kept falling off) to make everyone laugh. Be not just a good actor, but a good person to have working on your team because she’s pleasant, nice, and just fun to be around.

Was told that of course there’s an opening night to which I’m invited. Hells Bells! From what I heard yesterday, it sounds like this is a very serious final project. They’re going to be advertising on tv. The school also hosts an awards night for best this and that, including actors (the casting director told me this with a knowing tone in her voice, as if she felt I really had a chance at winning an award).

This is bigger than I anticipated. …What did I fall into? A dream?

…No, it’s not a dream. My feet hurt too much for it to be a dream.

Scheduled for two hard days of filming, Thursday and Friday. Hopefully they won’t need me on Monday, but we have that, too, if we need it. Most of all, I’m worried about sweating. Can tell I’m off my exercise schedule; my hot flashes are back with a vengeance. And the wig is hot. The dress is hot. I’m just really, really hot the entire time. In some ways, that’s working for me. I can’t get too excited right now when I’m in costume or I’ll sweat all my make-up off. But it’s a forced calm, and that takes effort in itself.

Really need to use my mini-break today to get to the gym. Stood for most of yesterday, and my hips/back are feeling it. Add in hours of travel on the metro, and I need to move for sure today or I’ll be in agony by Saturday. Also need to meet the casting director downtown. Overheard a concerned discussion on lighting, and offered up our two LED stage lights. My bro mentioned them earlier, and here was an opportunity to ‘shine’ (ha!) just that bit more with the group. So I’m bringing them downtown to her, since she’s traveling from Den Haag. Easier. Meet half way. And it goes on my expense account.

Did not smoke yesterday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. And it was only on the trip home that I even thought about it. Then, I wanted it. Before then…never even crossed my mind. Who needed a toke during all that excitement and fun? I had a reason to stay sharp and clear, a reason to stay sober. Everything I expected from myself. Get me into an environment I can truly engage in, and I don’t even think about smoking.

Two more days of standing. Two more days of heat. Of early mornings and a plastered, false smile. Of false eyelashes, a dress that’s a little tighter than I want, and nylons.

Ah! Bliss.

I can feel it

Sent a prayer out yesterday around one in the afternoon. Please, Goddess, I asked, please help make my travel to and from the theatre easy and safe. And please help me remember my lines and do a good job.

Headed out. Checked at Centraal station on the late night bus; everything was a go and the bus still ran. Walked the five minutes from the station to the theatre. Greeted a few of my fellow actors and the director. Scoped the space – cozy is a kind euphemism. Spent most of the afternoon re-staging all four acts. We didn’t have wings, didn’t have a good off-stage area, didn’t even have a step UP to the risers the stage was set on. My acting partner told me not to worry about getting home; we were forecast for high winds, so he brought his car (ah, I thought, there’s part one of my prayer answered). Went thru the usual mish-mash that happens before curtain up and somehow fills the hours of waiting with things to do. My bro came and set up the camera. Then it was up some very scary stairs to a closet-sized dressing room to change.

Nailed it. From the moves, to the lines, to the new stage directions (thank you, Goddess, for answering both my prayers in one night).

We sold out. SRO only. Even the limited view seats went.

Afterwards, talk. A director from my neck of the world (Minnesota) attended the performance. I’d met him once or twice before; he worked with the group last year, but now he’s formed another acting troupe. He was eager to talk, and sought me out. First thing out of his mouth: I loved seeing you in Act 3, dancing at the party! That brought a round of loud laughter from myself and my acting comrades because I’d just made a comment on how everyone seems to comment on that tiny little cameo I do more than my actual acting. I could sense the underlying message in the director’s words. He, like many others (too many, in my opinion) seemed to have a low first impression of my abilities and was caught somewhere between surprise over my acting and desire to use it in connection to his own work. I get that a lot lately. Must have grown real good at hiding myself over the years. Mentioned the upcoming reading of my script, and ding! ding! ding! I could see the change come over the director’s face. More than interested. He wanted to come, wanted to hear what I can do, because I just blew his little mind and went up three notches in his book.

*sigh* That’s fun. To so turn someone’s opinion around like that. To really show them what I can do. But I don’t want to make it a habit, nor do I want to kid myself about the hard edge these people carry around – if they dissed me out of hand once, they’ll do it again. They’re only being nice to me because they think the can use me or my abilities.

That’s hard to remember because once someone decides to be nice to you, they can be really nice to you.

Almost seemed like some minor god became jealous last night. Jealous of the Goddess answering my prayers. Felt like the Universe was reaching out to hurt me – first I smashed my hand against a door, later my ankle gave out and I fell on the sidewalk. Both injuries are rather minor, but I’m bruised and hurting this morning. The hand looked bad last night – noticeably swollen on the side. In fact, when I saw it in the light I was a bit worried I’d broken something and not realized it. Have full range of movement, though. The ankle is another issue. Soft tissue damage. It hurts the worse of the two, but looks the best. Figures. Right on the eve of returning to my gym routine.

And it’s fall back change the clock time. Got up earlier than I thought. Shit. Well, it’ll help in the long run. Get me back on track to my regularly scheduled madness…

Today I have to push thru a little hangover and memorize these irregular verbs for my lesson tomorrow. And write that damned letter! Hell’s bells! I got work to do.

But this is what’s happening: I’m getting respect. Respect as an actor, and respect as a writer. Got to say, I have a hard time knowing what to do with it. Takes me a moment to realize that’s what I see in other people’s faces. It’s not an underhanded or sly communication style. It’s far more upfront. And it shocks me. I look for the hidden sting in people’s words. I expect them to be sarcastic with me. But I watch them closely. That half hidden anger fueled smile isn’t lurking in their eyes. Their eyes are clear, and looking directly into mine. Oh, maybe they flip their opinions depending on their judgment of my abilities, but they’re not being covert. Just the opposite: they can’t seem to hide their surprise or their eagerness to work with me. And it just feels so strange. I expect things to flip any moment, for people to stab me in the back. To suddenly be the butt of all jokes. And I get kidded, but it’s not a put you in your place kind of kidding. It’s a you’re a part of the group now kidding.

These people talk to me. Really talk to me, and with me.

…One other thing. I’m blurting out truths in their presence. Like, deep truths. Things I would normally reserve for this blog. They just fall out of my mouth, time and again. And I’m listened to, sympathized with, understood and above all not judged. It’s more healing than any therapy I could imagine. The Netherlands is healing me.

I can feel it.

R-e-s-p-e-c-t

Draft one: done. Once I got to a certain point in the script, it just went. Have begun reading it through for errors and typos. Changed up a few things; found I’d gotten two of my characters muddled in the middle of an argument. And, despite my sticking to my outline and often feeling like I was writing a term paper, this script has given me some surprises. I was going to set up one character for stealing, then realized that I had another, shadier character to actually take the fall. My attempts to add subtlety into the dialogue led me to ambiguous statements (as it WILL do), and by the end of Act 2 I found a couple of my ideas modified without me even realizing it. Hm, now it sounds like maybe this person did that in secret because of her earlier statement… It’s added color and a refreshing slap to a story I worried was getting too predictable.

Now it’s dead-head time. Stop thinking, start editing. Not looking forward to the hours needed to get it into the formatting software. Sure, I can upload the text – but nothing else sticks, and I must go through it all, line by line, marking each character, each line of dialogue, each production note, again. Ugh.

Good news is that without pushing myself, I’ll be able to format and print the script for final inspection before my language lessons begin again.

I want to say it’s good. I think it is. Been very persnickety on military details (which often go lacking, or are incorrect in many portrayals) – but I’m not focusing on them. They are not the story. Nor is the war itself; there is only one scene with the women in battle. In fact, as I read through my work for errors and corrections, there was only one word that surfaced in my brain. The reason for the entire story: respect (and yes, Aretha is singing it in my head). Respect for these women – or the lack of it – is central to this piece. It comes up, again and again: the male commander shouting that women shouldn’t be soldiers, the male soldiers’ flirtations…Even amongst the women themselves, the question of respect comes into play. The characters’ alliances shift, in response to action both on and off the stage. Everything funnels down to the end, to the most combative roles in the play, and a final handshake – a sign of respect.

And I have settled on a name. ‘The Night Witches’ (or some form of that) is damned tempting. Kind of hooks you into it right away, doesn’t it? But it’s been used. Like, a million times. For articles and books, videos and films. Despite how much I want to use it, I won’t. Thought about calling it ‘588’ for the regiment number, but then it should really be ‘588th’, not ‘588’, and I felt the ‘th’ at the end was something that might trip people up. It tips you off this is a story about the military (at least, for me it does). Besides, the regiment was renamed after receiving recognition. So using a number is just confusing. …The script is called ‘Taman’. It’s set on the Taman Peninsula, in 1943. I know ‘Taman’ is a bit misleading as well – it should be ‘The Taman Peninsula’ or ‘The Taman Offensive’…but I don’t like either of those. And something about just calling it ‘Taman’… Although it’s not an English word, it’s not something that would frighten most people. It’s not Tzuychrswski or some similar foreign word with that string of consonants that always trips up English speakers. And it’s neutral. What is Taman? A person? A place? Immediately you ask questions, want answers. I’m hoping that curiosity will transfer into audience members. Plus, this is where the women made history. This is battle front that earned them their honors.

…Since it be about respect, y’all…I figure I be allowed a little of that there ‘artistic license’.

Keeping up on exercise, tho skipping my 30 minutes on the bikes. Pushing myself on the mental front right now. If I do it mentally and physically, I’ll run myself into the ground. So I’m being a little easy on myself until I feel the push is really over.

And it is a push. I’ve put so much into this…including a rape scene and the aftermath – accusations, shame, humiliation, fear… I’m tearing up every time I read it. The battle scene, when two of the characters are shot down and die, is also difficult to read: full of emotion, raw and ripe.

I sure hope other people are as moved by it as I am.

For myself, I feel I can put another notch in my belt. Didn’t know if I could write something military. Certainly doubted my ability to write something historical. Yet, here I am. I won’t lay claim to having written some fresh, new perspective. Don’t know that I’ll ever be that arrogant. But I think I’ve written well. I think the story is engaging, the characters believable.

…Maybe underneath all my writing, there’s another message: respect for myself. I rarely give it.

Today, I will.

Just DIE already

imgres-1.jpg

I don’t get it. I don’t get how or why people are supposed to love extended family members. These aunts, uncles, and cousins you may see once every five to ten years. Even grandparents. I saw my grandparents twice a year, a few days at a time. Grandpa terrorized me with his two day unshaved face, swooping me up in his arms to rub my tender three year old cheek against his rough old one. I hated it. I squirmed and screamed. His beard hurt. I felt it was punishment, and I couldn’t get away from him fast enough. Yet he did it, every time he saw me. And I was supposed to “love” him. It wasn’t until two years AFTER my grandfather’s death that I saw a vision of him in my dreams and finally received the love I felt I never got. Only THEN did I cry for him. Only THEN did I mourn. Only THEN did I understand that yes, underneath all that sadistic cheek rubbing was someone who genuinely cared for me.

My uncle is yanking my chain again. Asks my opinion on something and then blows me off with a single dismissive sentence. I spent six hours yesterday hot under the collar, trying VERY hard to settle down. I paced. I smoked. I listened to soothing music (even wrote a new piece). The culmination of my effort was my ability to turn on my computer and delete the conversation without comment. Then I had another few hours, telling myself I did the right thing. More pacing, more clenched gut.

It is days and times like these that I used to get a lot of ‘don’t let it bother you’. Still do. I don’t bother pointing out that giving me a negative statement (using ‘don’t’) isn’t the best way to go about letting it go. Nor do I point out the fact that I had I been able to let things go throughout my life I’d probably be in a very different situation. Nor that the people who tell me to let it go and calm down generally have problems letting go and calming down themselves.

Like my brother. We disagree on some very basic ideals and when we argue, that’s it. We can find no common ground. Worst of all is his tendency to cut me off mid sentence because he THINKS he knows what I’m going to say. He puts his words in my mouth. Doesn’t listen to me at. all.

None of my family angst is helped right now by my recent viewing of Absolutely Fabulous The Movie. *sigh* Two things are now terribly clear to me. One, Jennifer Saunders has been riding the same jokes for 25 goddamn years with her characters. Two, as Saunders ages she looks more and more like my mother (the hair is wrong, but the face and the wrinkles she’s sporting give a pretty good imitation). That’s the real kicker.  I was a big fan of Ab Fab series 1. Loved the second and third series, too. But then…then Jennifer began to age noticeably on screen. Then she began to do this thing with her mouth that set off such a hard reaction/memory in me I really kind of freaked. Now, all I see is my mother and old jokes I’ve seen since series one. It’s really a turn off. I’d like to like the series again but I’m finding it impossible. And I couldn’t really like the movie. It was bigger, it had more money put into it. But better? Not really. Just a rehash of every episode you’ve already seen. There was Saunders, doing the same gags she’s done since the pilot. The same jokes. Even Patsy’s ‘Gabon? Gabon?’ line was resurrected and reused. Characters and guest stars we’ve seen on the show for ages made cameos, doing and saying things very similar to what they did and said in the original episodes they starred in. And Saunders orchestrated it all, in my mother’s face. The wrinkles around her mouth and eyes. Her thinning upper lip. Her sneer.

It was an unsettling 90 minutes.

How am I supposed to feel something warm and fuzzy for people who don’t care enough about me to listen to what I say? I’m not asking for AGREEMENT, just hear me through. Give me a nod and say ‘we don’t agree, but I’ll respect your opinion’.

I’ve never heard that. Ever. Not from ANY family member.

And do NOT give me some holier than thou advice. Do NOT say I’m the one that needs to rise above it. That if I want respect, I must give respect. I was raised in this manner – verbally beaten down so bloody often I have a hard time making ANY choice as an adult. I feel guilty for just about everything in the world because at some time, somewhere, I’m to blame.

I am TIRED of trying to be the better person. Sick to fucking death of it. It’s so goddamned bad that it throws me right into suicide ideation; might as well bloody kill myself since no fucking person in my family is even decent enough to give me the most basic of respect due any person alive. Fuck them. Fuck them for fucking with my head so fucking much. These are the people who are supposed to be my support system. Instead, they’ve always been the most damaging to my self confidence. They’ve always made me feel wrong and bad. They’ve always made me angry. I just feel like if my FAMILY treats me this way, no one else is gonna treat me any better so I might as well just check out.

But I hang on. I LIVE for the time when they’re all dead, when I no longer have any echo of the childhood shit that’s been pressure sprayed under my skin. And here, the only place I have to speak my mind and NOT be interrupted or made to feel bad, here I will say what I haven’t said to those family members that treat me this way.

Just DIE already!

Songbird

images.png

Yes! Slept past 4 a.m.; that’s rare enough right now to deserve a celebration. Whooo-hoooo! Let’s grab a cup of caramel coffee and fire up…um, oh yeah. That’s what I do every day….Well, let’s do it anyway.

Tackled a stack of dishes yesterday before heading out. Even made my bed. Then I dithered over what outfit to wear. ‘What outfit!’ My wardrobe doesn’t offer a lot of ‘outfits’; it’s mostly just sweatpants and t-shirts. But, you know…I was headed downtown amongst people. I felt I needed more than my usual trampy look. On went my purple pants (Everyone should have a pair of purple pants. They make you feel different.) and my cute boots. A clean, newer deep blue T completed my look. My teeth AND hair got brushed. I almost felt like a human.

For my own peace of mind, I cut my ‘to-do’ list in half. It was taking too much self talk to get out the door; I did not think I would be up to stopping at half a dozen places to make small transactions. That was an excellent choice.

Downtown was a shock. Not because of the crowds, but because of the LACK of crowds. I got off the metro and wondered if I’d miscalculated for a minute and the shops were all closed there were so few people around. Never before had I see the main shopping drag so empty. It was spooky. Needless to say I made record time, managing to hit five stores with my guerrilla-style window shopping in less than an hour. I found two new bras, after sorting thru the numerous numbers on the freaking tags. Damn! Can’t we just decide on ONE fucking way to note sizes for bras? C’mon! No undies on the horizon, unless you want to count plain, boring white ones – which I don’t. I may be old, but my ass doesn’t need to be boring. Still, I know where the granny pants are if I really get stuck. Wish Bjorn Borg had one of his shops here in Rotterdam. I purchased undies from the store in Amsterdam – underwear that’s 100% comfortable AND funky cool designs. Expensive, tho. But I’m beginning to wonder if the extra cash isn’t worth it to keep my ass in comfort. After feeling mega disappointed in the undies selection, I topped up my chip card so I didn’t have ANY reason to panic next time I saw the doctor, walked to the coffeeshop for more smoke, and headed back home.

Time outside: 2 hours. Amazing how far and how fast you can tromp when no one’s in your way. My feet were aching, and all I wanted to do was chill.

I opened my computer to see my emails – something that’s been nagging at me for weeks now. Finally just deleted everything that was over three days old. I kept meaning to get back to posts I’d missed on WP, etc. etc. Time to wipe the table and start over. That backlog was just making me feel bad. It was too big to really take care of, unless I’m willing to devote a few DAYS to getting it done, which I’m not. Had to laugh at myself – gently, but with a note of ‘oh, god, here she goes again’ in it – when I felt that drop of disappointment on opening up my inbox this morning and seeing so few messages. A backlog of unanswered notifications does not make you important OR popular. It just makes you lazy. *sigh* Let it go…

Managed to finally sit still for 46 minutes and listen to my brother’s new music to give him my opinion. An hour discussion ensued. We ended up having a good laugh at ourselves; at one point I told him how amazed I am by what he does – he’s very progressive musically and rhythmically, and I could NEVER do what he does – and he turned around and said the same things about me; that he could never do what I do and he’s absolutely floored by what I put out. We both think what we do is moronically easy, and what the other one does is really difficult. The precise BALANCE of this between us is what made us laugh – and even knowing all of it’s down to our own perception, we still laughed. The truth is, he writes on equipment that lends itself to progressive music, while I write on equipment that lends itself to trance/techno. If we could swap equipment (and our mastery of said equipment), we could probably do each other’s type of stuff. As it is, it’s great to have that respect for each other. We can work together or on our own. It’s a good combination.

Today, fina-fucking-lly, I’m back to my own music. Come hell or high water. I know precisely what I need to do. After a bit of drum re-recording today, the microphone needs to come out. I’m at that point. Three ready songs and one in the wings if I can just manage to record the piano the way I want it. All waiting for vocals. Oh, the anxiety over not knowing what’s going to come out of my mouth when I try to sing again. Once Ol’ Nelly (my horse of a voice) wakes up and gets going everbody’s gonna hear me. Ach. This is where home studio work gets difficult. I can do a lot in headphones musically, but I gotta sing out loud – and I got a LOUD voice to sing with. Also…for some reason, I’ve been writing material that’s difficult for me to sing. Not the notes; those are easily within my range. It’s the words I’ve written. They make me cry, and when I cry I can’t sing. What I need is simple rehearsal, to take the triggers out of my words and just get through the song. But the before part…that’s what I don’t want to experience. The trying to sing, then breaking down and sobbing. Still. I need it to be done. I need these songs to come out.

Difficult or not, the songbird needs to sing.