I’ll take the stars

Well. I took my time off right to the edge. Don’t think I could have sat around on my ass for another hour without going ballistic. Headed to the gym, ready to kill anyone in my way or myself if no easy victim showed up between home and there. Did not hold back – couldn’t hold back. Impressed myself with my iron stomach muscles, easily lifting both legs off the floor and holding for a count of 10. Impressed myself again on the cross trainer, blowing thru an 8 minute kilometer and topping 3.7 km at 30 minutes. And then the free weights – DAMN, girl! Is that muscle I see in your arms? Lift, lift, pant, think about the meaning of life, lift, pant some more.

I’m going back for more today.

My rheumatologist is happy. My condition is stable, and my joints show no signs of decay since my last x-rays. Yippee. Even said I could try to take the methotrexate down if I felt up to it. Assured her that although my hair loss continues, I know I can’t go without these drugs – and if I do go bald, I’m tattooing my entire head. Got that gold star I always want from someone plastered on my forehead: good on me for exercising, good on me for weight loss, good on me for doing so much. I needed that.

Upset with myself. Realize I’ve got a mother-thing going with one of my teachers. They gave us a spot check test just before class ended – those pesky irregular verbs. Oh, the look of disappointment that crossed my teacher’s face when I didn’t get the answer correct! And the gut wrenching hit of guilt that washed over me – I didn’t do enough, I didn’t try hard enough, I’m not good enough or smart enough or – … That shit has got to stop. Right here and now. I am NOT learning Dutch from a mother substitute. I refuse. For the last 36 hours I’ve been telling myself I’m doing what I can, when I can. I’m learning faster and faster, more and more. I’ll get it. I’ll get it. But Gods! It feels like one of my old nightmares. I get surrounded by these huge, disappointed faces (in my head; I’m not actually surrounded by monster faces – tho mentally, that’s the picture I have). I feel small, ashamed, and trapped. It’s not a good combination. Working to shrink those disappointed faces down to mini-size. Being as triggered as I am, it’s a real challenge.

Bolstering myself up with my newly grown confidence in my English writing. Think I’ll take time – this morning, while it’s quiet – to read part three. Haven’t had the time to do so since I banged out the first draft. I’m already reviewing it in my head, making mental notes of changes to add. But I want to just experience it, front to end, without interruption. How well did I capture what I see?

Had a good, long, hearty laugh yesterday. Was talking to my bro (big surprise) about social situations. We’ve both got our problems. Mentioned my lack of filters, how I can’t stop blurting out these deep truths. My brother laughed, and said ‘What do you expect? You learned your social skills from an agoraphobe.’ Yeah. Dad was very anti-social. More than six people in a room and he got real nervous. As a kid, I didn’t realize this. I knew Dad was less social than my mother. But he didn’t talk about it. It wasn’t until I was 15 or 16 and we had tickets to a show downtown that I realized Dad had problems in public situations. He became more and more wound up the further into the city we drove. He was tense, angry, swearing a lot. After the show was even worse: the crowd let out, and I thought Dad was going to have an heart attack. And Dad…he said whatever was on his mind. I grew up thinking politics, religion, and sex were good to go topics at a dinner table. Had a lot of missteps with friends and acquaintances. Still do. Dad welcomed my input, welcomed me to these cultural and philosophical debates. Even, I think, wanted me to speak my mind. Why was that? Now that I think about it, why did he do that? I’m replaying memories in my head right now, and I see him encouraging me to lay out a sound argument. Back up my statements with facts. I don’t remember him acting that way with anyone else in the family. My oldest brother would say something in support of what Dad said. He’d get a nod, maybe an additional exclamation. My sister would add in her two cents: generally a snide comment, again in support of my father’s statement. And then Dad would look at me. Challenge me with his eyes. Say it, his eyes would plead. Bring out your views. Tell me how wrong I am. As I grew older, these debates would get hotter. My logic improved, my access to facts to back up my statements was wider, and I think I was cutting too close to the center at times.

Did my father think that at some point I’d change? That money would change me? Or was that part of the original challenge I read in his eyes: can you stay true to who you are right now for your entire life? Can you hold onto your innocence, your faith, your dreams, in the face of everything life has to throw at you?

In the end, Dad was very clear about what he wanted for me. I want you to be happy, he said. Over and over. Not rich, not famous, not thin, not smart, not skilled, not useful, but happy. I know happiness is a mode of travel, not a destination. I can look at life with stars in my eyes or a sour pussed expression that will ruin everything before I even touch it.

I’ll take the stars.

Advertisements

It be jammie-time

Een, twee, drie…

AAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaargh! Fer frickin’ fuckin’ goddamn it all hell!!

After achieving a certain ‘I got this’ feeling about Dutch, or at least about carefully conjugating verbs, I’ve been corrected this morning on pronunciation and conjugation until I feel like my head is going to fucking explode and I’m far, far more stupid than I thought. Dialects. Don’t think too much about it in English, or at least not American English. A Southerner doesn’t correct a Northerner to ‘y’all’ or other regional idioms and pronunciations. But damn it to hell! Just when I feel confident on pronouncing something, I get corrected. Then next time I get corrected by someone with a different dialect. Well, which one is it? Who do I listen to (or, if you want to get nit-picky with English, To Whom do I listen)?

Grumble, grumble, bitch and moan…

Somewhere in my brain is a piece of information that says Dutch has somewhere around 300,000 words. Don’t know if that’s correct or not, and I sure as hell don’t know if that includes every possible conjugation or not. What I do know is that I’ve been here 3 years. To master every damned word by this point would be… Well, a dream for me. Some people can do it, I guess. Or I’m being made to feel like some people can do it. I’m doing the best I can. Feeling a little overwhelmed by the amount of homework and sheer listening I’m doing these days. So when I say I don’t know a word, I don’t fucking know a word! I don’t know if the stem of the word contains two e’s or not, and since every single person I encounter seems to say things a little differently, how the FUCK am I supposed to just pull this out of my ass? Seriously?

And, by the Goddess! It did not help that I found myself, once I decided to treat myself to an in-town coffeeshop visit and smoke, writing in bleeding Dutch. Handwritten? Dutch now. It’s in my fucking fingers from all the homework. The sentences are probably for shit in a million different ways – wrong verbs, wrong grammar, wrong sentence structure – but I couldn’t help myself. I was frustrated in Dutch, and it came out in Dutch.

This isn’t even counting my frustration over occasionally being ‘reset’ in my brain, and having to go back to the basics on ‘oo’ vs. ‘oe’.

Overload. That’s where I’m at. I recognize it. Turn the damned Dutch off. Stop writing it, stop reading it, stop listening to it. My brain is all hay-wire.

And I got so much writing to do in English!

Two needles today. One taking blood, one giving medicine. Going to have bruises from both. Loverly. So hate when that happens.

…And, ya know…I feel like a damned pincushion. Not just from the needles, but also in my brain. Feels like all sorts of stuff got shoved in there, helter-skelter. Poking here, poking there, rip this seam out, pull the stuffing, and viola! A mess, and a good analogy for my head.

Slept like shit last night. Pain in my back no matter how I positioned myself. Just a low, dull ache. Nothing you couldn’t sleep over, but nothing you could totally ignore, either. It feels better today. Or I’ve blocked it enough that it’s no longer registering. Never really know which it is. I AM the person who’s repeatedly injured herself without noticing. Done all sorts of shit I should never have done. Guess all I can say is, I’m thankful for whichever ’cause it ain’t bothering me right now.

Tomorrow I sit. And sit, and sit. Have to wait for my injection delivery. It’ll probably come in the afternoon, but I don’t know for sure. Hope to get some work done on Taman. Really want that off my desk so I can give whatever brainpower I’ve got left over to the thrillers. My brain’s been plotting too much as it is; it should be concentrating on the re-writes I MUST do. *sigh* Alas, no. Thinking far, far too much on the thrillers. Determined I’ll go ahead and write the third before re-doing the second. The third is very nailed down; certain things just gotta happen. But the second…that one is fluid. Flexible. Pliable to my needs. Modes of death, dialogue, scene set-ups…all of that can shift depending on the first and the third sections.

And I want…more with the second. The set up is predictable: a small group of people in a cut-off location. While what I’m playing with isn’t predictable, there are elements that seem obvious. A little too obvious. So…what else can I do? Can I set up an audience member to scare? Maybe, in the dark, touch him/her with a creepy hand? Limitations are always an issue. Money, man-power, skills or lack thereof. But there’s gotta be something. Something outside the box…

There I go again! Off on the Great Thriller Trilogy I’m currently fucking obsessed by.

For now, tone it down. No challenging myself with more Dutch. Gotta cool those engines. Game playing is top of my list. Zone out. Think of nothing. Nothing. Just a big blank nothing. Calm.

…Yeah.

A storm is moving in, the darkness is gathering, and I’m beginning to feel safe. Go on, wind! Take my anger and frustration and whip it away in your fingers. Take it far, far away. I don’t want it anymore.

Think I’m gonna go get in my pj’s. I need to take care of myself. And even tho it’s barely three in the afternoon…

…It be jammie-time.

Pretty fuckin’ crude

Feelin’ good about yer English? Cool. Now let’s do Dutch.

Was worried my recent writing high would make me feel twice as bad about mistakes in language class. Just the opposite; yesterday I cut myself more slack and was more understanding of myself and my mistakes than I usually am. It’s okay, I thought. Look how far you’ve already come. Must admit it helped that most of the class wasn’t up to speed. Some hadn’t written their story for homework. Many hadn’t worked on the irregular verbs.

I picked up my third novel in Dutch. Yep! Only one in class to finish any book – and I’ve finished two so far.

And, English or Dutch, my twat side comes to the fore. The teacher’s eyes popped when she saw my story – two pages stapled together. The writing is big, and I’m using every other line so there’s plenty of room for corrections. Still…it was the longest of any student’s story. By far.

But I’m a writer. I think I’ve accepted that fact now, right down to the tips of my toes. I write, and I write well. Another language? Well, don’t expect that to slow down my brain. You’ll still get startling statements from me. They’ll just be a little immature and have a few grammar mistakes.

This week’s assignment: write something in Dutch every day. Nothing fancy, just what we did during the day. Like a diary entry, my teachers said. Yeah…like I have any hope of keeping THAT simple. And it could hardly be like a diary entry, in truth. My blog entries are stilted, many sentences lack full grammatical structure because of the casual nature of my writing, and once in a while I pull a purposefully poor sentence and/or spelling out of my hat because…well, I just do (either I think it adds color, or it’s an echo of what I think my family would say to me). I’ll get marks off if I pull that in class. Full sentences, proper grammar, proper tense.

And it ain’t so much my sentence structure I be worried about, it’s the thoughts and ideas behind my words I got the willies for.

That truth I can’t stop speaking.

Case in point: this week’s assignment. A little story about your family. I confined it to my dad, someone I felt I could be at least a little bit positive about. But what did I write? I wrote about his depression, and the depression and alcoholism of his father. I wrote about my dad’s brother, who died in WWII. I wrote about my connection with my dad, how I had his blue eyes, his dimples, and his way of looking at the world. …Pretty sure the rest of the papers are going to say stuff like ‘I have two sisters. My oldest sister is married with three children. They live in Timbuktu.’ I mean…yeah. I could write that. I could bore myself silly with that shit. I’m beyond it already, and eager to write more.

There’s so much more to words than just plain facts.

Been being extra, extra good with my ankle. Maybe it was hurt more than I realized. Took longer than I care to admit for it to not hurt when I just touched it. But now, my back is beginning to seize up. I gotta move. Been getting out, doing more each day, but today has to be a gym day. I’ve got to get walking again, for at least an hour. I can’t sit comfortably at night. That shit’s gotta stop. Tossed my agenda around; was going to get my blood work done today, but that means an extended public transport ride into the hospital. Can’t do that comfortably, so put it off a day or two. The doc told me I could get my blood tests done first thing the morning of our appointment and the lab would be able to process everything in time for our meeting, so no time constraints on that side. Tape up the ankle, get to the gym, and walk.

Hoping getting back to the gym will simultaneously fire up and calm my brain. My brain has been working – but it’s often static. Grey noise meant to distract me. Flighty thoughts, with no beginning and no end. Circular. That’s dangerous territory. Often it ends up with me berating myself endlessly, caught in some web of thought that won’t let me go. I want to find my rock, nail down an end of my thoughts, and start spinning. For that, I need a moment of calm, a little quiet pool in the river of my brain. And I can’t get that with static going on non-stop. Gotta turn that tv off.

And how do you turn that tv off? By turning the animal on.

It’s the visceral part of you you must empower. For me, that means exercise. Nothing to wake the animal up like running the body hard. I don’t think about my family or my past while I exercise. All my attention is given over to my heart rate, pumping my legs, working harder, enduring even when I want to give up. Oddly enough, tho…while I’m aware of all that and while it drives the static out of my brain, other things do come to the forefront. Connections I can’t see while I’m caught in some self-imposed web. Sometimes the connections have to do with me, sometimes my writing, sometimes the world in general. But that’s what I want. The animal push quiets that all pervasive low level angst I have over things not being right. It’s not right, what we do. It’s not right, how we treat other people. It’s not right, it’s not right, it’s not right!

How can we all have heard as children the lessons about sharing and caring and turned out to be such SHITS? How baseless, how crude is humanity, truly?

…Pretty fuckin’ crude.

I have value

Sunday, and I’m still on a high from all the praise I received at the script read thru. My brother admonished me for trying to jump right back into my routine. Take it easy, he said. Give yourself the weekend to sort yourself out. Did not help my flightiness to receive a note from the producer about the first part of the thriller series.

He likened it to Lovecraft’s work. Lovecraft. That’s like…classic.

My head’s spinning to be compared to such a well known author.

Too excited and jumbled to do much, but I did make a start. Payed for my gym membership (late; it was due on the first), picked up some groceries and needed items, took out the garbage. Spent more time on my feet than I have lately due to my ankle, and I felt it. So I lolled around in the late afternoon, and seemed very much a lady of leisure when my bro returned from the comic book shop.

Ach! And I have a weird complaint. My hands are not so good anymore. The RA’s done its thing, and my grip is generally pretty weak. Seems to me I’m always asking my bro to open this jar or bottle, or pick something up for me. And just this past week I dropped a bottle, shattering it, due to a poor hold. So what I’ve got to say doesn’t make a lot of sense. But, here it is. Every once in a while, I get super-strength. Like Hulk smash super-strength. The latest evidence of this is a now ruined pepper grinder, which I apparently twisted so hard I broke the entire thing. I swore up and down to my brother that it must have already been broken, that I didn’t even turn it that hard. He just laughed at me. No, it wasn’t broken. Yes, he was absolutely sure of that. He doesn’t blame for these things. He’s seen them too often. And he knows I have no intention of breaking anything. There are just weird moments when all the strength that’s left my hands comes rushing back, and I’m more powerful than I think. Then things twist and break like dry twigs. …I’m lucky this time it was only a pepper mill.

Spent time on my Dutch. Reading. Wasn’t really going to. Just wanted to take a look and see where I was in the book. But I began reading a few lines to remind myself where I left off, and suddenly I was sitting back, turning page after page. Only one chapter to go before I’m finished. Should be able to finish up the story and write out some verb conjugations today. Meh! Notice how I left the verb conjugations for last – my least favorite thing to do. But I feel pretty good. I’m done with the writing, almost done with the reading, and (while not looking forward to it) ready to work on verbs.

Today is laundry and dishes, hoovering and dusting. Hoping to get some guilty assistance out of my brother, which is why I left it for Sunday, when he was home, rather than Saturday, when he’s at the comic shop. Could use it. The place is bit dingy. A little too much dust on everything, a few too many pieces of grit on the floor…just dingy. I think I’ll just ask my bro to help me. Why wait to see if he volunteers? One hour of his assistance will wipe this place clean. Then I can gaze around and not feel guilty over the way it looks.

That would be nice.

Been walking the calendar out, assuring myself I’ve plenty of time to adhere to my schedule and write my scripts. It isn’t the easiest thing to do. I mean, planning time – that part of it is easy. Assuring myself that I’ll stick to my plan, that I can focus and write when needed and not freak the fuck out – that’s the hard part. Seems like a lot to do. I break it down into small bits. Do this part first, then work on that. For long term things like language, that means promising myself I’ll work an hour a day. For short term projects like my script, it means telling myself to take care of typos first and then worry about re-writes. But both those ideas are like promising myself I’ll stop eating cake and cookies. I can make that vow with incredible intensity – and have just same amount of intensity pulling me in the opposite direction when the moment of truth comes. End up having to use a combination of tough love and reward system: berate myself into doing it, then reward myself for completion. I’d like to love myself into doing it, but, one step at a time. Right now, results are more important than method. It’s important to me to finish my writing. To complete the trilogy, to send out Taman. To keep going, and not let anything hold me back because for once – once! – I really know I’ve got something here.

I’ve no mother to disparage me, no father to lovingly hold me back. No DNA siblings to shame and humiliate me, or make me feel lesser than. There is nothing to make me stop. Nothing but myself. And I won’t let that happen. I won’t let me sabotage myself. Do I hear me? Because what we’re doing is too good, too well crafted to allow to go to waste. You hear me?

I’m saying I have value.

Choice

Yesterday, I chose to care about myself. Just a little bit.

Hauled back two heavy bags of groceries late morning. Noticed my ankle hurt a wee bit with every step. Didn’t matter how careful I was, how I placed my foot – when I stepped, there was an edge of pain. I was all fired up to go to the gym, to push, to not care. Dare I say it? To hurt myself. But the reality of that bit of pain with each step weighed on me. I sat in my bedroom, a large bandage in my hand all ready to wrap that damned ankle up, and suddenly my bad mood telescoped out into the future. I saw myself hurting my ankle – badly. Saw the weeks, the months down. Saw the just sitting there feeling like a fucking idiot on a thousand levels. And some quiet voice in me spoke up and asked, ‘Do you really want to risk sitting around and going even deeper into this for months due to injury?’

It was hard to say no. Because I wanted to hurt myself. That’s my thing: go to the gym and push my body until it breaks. And I suddenly realized it wasn’t about health or endurance, it wasn’t even about getting some endorphins going so my mood improved. It was about punishing myself.

Hating myself.

Self-flagellation comes in all forms.

Acceptance of the moment, my reasons, my self-hate, was the key to opening my mouth. I’d not said much to my brother up to that point; still in a hissy fit. But once I stopped and accepted what was going on with me, I communicated. And I found it easy to avoid angry communication. In fact, it wasn’t even part of the equation. My anger left me as soon as I realized what I was doing. I had no need to harangue my bro over his SIM game. He enjoys it; why should I spoil that for him? And I found no reason to nag about the housework, either. It never really takes that long to tidy up. No. I admitted to my bad mood, my twisted anger, my desire to hurt myself – and all that surface shit just slid away.

So I did not go to the gym, despite my angry ‘no matter what’ declaration yesterday. And I learned something. Thought it was only exercise that would release my anger in this fashion. But it isn’t. If I can get to the core issue and admit it, I can let it go without all the sweat and effort. That’s a big IF. Everest height. And it’s not a mountain I care to scale too often. I suppose I shouldn’t say that. It should be my goal to handle my mood swings in such a manner, right? Find the cause, accept it, move on. No acting out, no mad blog writing at 5 a.m. But I am comfortable with my old methods, with the exercise push and mad writing, the slamming of doors and gut-churning anger. …How utterly sad to say that. I’m fucking used to such horrors.

…I’m fucking used to being such a horror.

Ah! I was going to say I see my sister in all this – the acting out, the hissy fits, the slamming doors. I do see it, and I do hate it. But I also realize now what’s probably at the base of my sister’s actions. Self-hate. Makes me have a drop of empathy for her this morning.

Could we just stop with the epiphanies? Just for a little while? This hyper awareness…I welcome new levels of understanding, but hey! You’ve got to give me time to digest one bit of info before shoveling a new load into my head. Feels like there’s just too much to grasp, too much to know, and as soon as I get a hold of one idea something else loosens and gets away from me…

It’s like learning Dutch. If I concentrate on the correct verb and sentence structure, I’ll get the verb tense wrong. If I think too much about the verb tense, I’ll screw up the syntax. I can’t seem to hold all that info in my brain at once. I know it’s a matter of practice. Go slow, go steady, and keep trying.

But although I suffer embarrassment over my poor language use, I do not have to go through emotional turbulence over every little word. Setting out to change the way I think…now that’s difficult. I get triggered left and right, have to stop and sort myself out, fight against the depression, reign in the mania…it’s bloody exhausting. There’s no manual out there for this, no instruction booklet to make things easy. What I would give for a big Book of Life with easy to read chapters and answers in the back!

For now, I’m choosing to care about me. It’s not a choice I’m comfortable with. Not. at. all. But I am more afraid of months down, unable to get out or do much of anything, than I am of carrying some extra weight on my body or feeling guilty from missing a day at the gym. Until I can take a step without pain, I’m choosing to be careful. Choosing to not push. Choosing to not hurt myself.

I can do this. I can learn to take care of myself.

It’s a choice.

Pearls before swine

I’ll start with this morning, ’cause it’s in my face.

Another uncle comment. This time, it’s a ‘You need some coffee’ with a Google link to coffee houses (NOT coffeeshops) in Amsterdam after I called him out on NOT being funny and NOT making a joke. Here’s my reply:

What does my caffeine level have to do with our discussion? And why are you trying to change the subject and blame me for your poor “joke”? A joke is supposed to be amusing – yet your original statement, “I won’t be in that area then” isn’t amusing, it’s simply a fact. There’s no cause for laughter. No cause unless you feel uncomfortable for some reason. Shifting attention to my caffeine intake is simply a distraction from your discomfort. Why are you uncomfortable? ..Plus, get it right. I live in Rotterdam, not Amsterdam.

I’m proud of my reply. Called him out on it. Kept my cool. Even left with a little jab about him getting the city wrong. Ha fucking ha, uncle. Are you laughing now? I’m particularly proud over pointing out his discomfort (several times) and calling him out on his attempt to distract and blame me.

You wanna play games? With words? You DO know I’m a wordsmyth, right? Plus, I was taught by your sister – my mother. Your OLDER sister. The woman who knew every game you ever played and one upped you continually.

You ain’t gonna win.

I said I fucking had it with this shit.

…NEWS ALERT: Just had a notification from FB. An instantaneous reply from my uncle. DAMN! I really got him. Here’s his reply (including the typos; he was obviously in a hurry to say what he needed to say): “I was hoping some caffeine would wake you up and you would see my joke…;.clearly you have seen my joke all along. And….I won’t br in Rotterdam to see the show either.” Oh, I’ll continue with this charade. If it winds him up so much he’s got to reply the moment he reads what I say, I’ll continue.

Give him a little tit for tat. Generally I’m against that type of behavior, but some people just don’t learn!

Onto happier things.

Three point seven kilometers in thirty minutes. Wanted to write that out, because it deserves that much respect. That’s topping 7 km an hour on the cross trainer. And I felt flipping tired. Have the last several times I’ve gone to the gym. But I keep amazing myself, pushing more and running faster than I ever imagined I could. I believe soon to be 52 year old me could easily lap 22 year old me. Upped repetitions on my arms. That’s difficult, and I have to stop often and take a break. Still hate doing my abdominal exercises, but I might be ready to add a few more crunches to my routine. Walking is, as always, the easiest – though I’ve got to confess I feel awful slow walking at 5km an hour after running on the cross trainer. Find myself wanting to pick up the speed on the treadmill. Haven’t, yet.

Feeling strong in my body, my mind, and my soul. A bit unshakeable. Like I’m suddenly too together for anyone (including my uncle) to get under my skin. I like this. If this is the level other people operate at, I can see why they don’t understand when I fall apart. Doesn’t give them license to be assholes about it, but I get why they might not fully understand why someone like me struggles so much. It’s easy to let things slide off your back when you’re here. World trouble? Yeah, always is. Emotional turmoil? Yeah, it’s a pain, but what are ya gonna do? Financial trouble? It’ll sort itself out somehow. All those pat answers spewed ad infinitum via memes suddenly make sense.

I blame the endorphins. I’m getting a regular blast of them when exercising. And let’s face it: they say ‘peptide’ and ‘hormone’, but in reality they should say ‘drug’. It’s an all natural drug, I’ll give you – but it’s a drug. You get a drug response, it’s addictive, you need more to keep getting off – it’s a drug. More: it’s a drug I like. So I keep pushing to get it. Now…doctors get very pleased when they hear about an exercise regime. Oh, good! You’re getting regular exercise, toning your body, and losing weight. What could be better? No one acknowledges the drug interaction in your brain, unless it’s to say something like ‘well, exercise is GOOD for emotional turmoil’. Why is it that a drug naturally produced in our bodies is better or good, while drugs we take are bad and evil? I just don’t get that. It’s a drug, either way.

Blanket fucking statements. They ruin the damned world.

Today, I work. A few errands to run, and I plan on using the travel time on the metro to read Dutch. Then it’s time to tear into Taman. Make those changes I keep talking about. Start arranging a read through. Want to read through the play I’m doing, too. Keep my lines fresh over this break. And I need to call for an adjustment to my shoes (more Dutch; ugh!).

First, though, I will fashion a reply to my uncle. He doesn’t get the last word on my page. Even if that means this discussion goes on for another year, back and forth. And I know what I’m doing. I’m staying coolly disconnected. I know the necklace is tearing, and the mud is thick.

I know I’m casting pearls before swine.

Life isn’t like riding a bike

Slothing – proper slothing – is as fun and time consuming as anything else. Is it Sunday already? Yes, Virginia, it’s Sunday already and Monday is barreling towards us.

No homework done. No heavy duty anything done. I did get the dishes done, but that’s my thing: can’t stand a sink full of dirty dishes. Everything else is backed up, from the recycling to the dust bunny corral, which is full to bursting.

My voice is still with me. And my feet didn’t fall off of their own volition. That’s two good things right there.

Began looking at the acting website my partner told me about. All in Dutch, naturally. But he’s right; there are casting calls for fluent English speakers. Of course, most of the female roles are looking for 20 something attractive women. I’m hunting in the “motherly” categories – Goddess! Motherly! The one adjective I’d never use in reference to myself. Oh, well. I guess that’s why they call it ‘acting’.

Pooped. Need to make an appointment for my new orthopedics; another blister point in the heels that needs attention. Need to get to the doc’s for a flu shot. Need to get back to my routine, get back to the gym, get back to writing and sending stuff out.

Beginning to wonder about my death. I’m getting happy lately, and I’ve always had this feeling that I’ll finally achieve happiness, self confidence, and full understanding just before I die. So for me, being happy is a bit of a trigger. I enjoy it; don’t get me wrong. But it does carry its own set of worries. Foolish? Probably. But I am speaking from a lifetime of irony here, and I’ve always felt dying when you’re finally really happy with yourself and your life to be the ultimate irony.

Maybe I should just keep complaining…

How is one supposed to walk the line between your personal life and the outer world? If I focus on world news, I get upset and frustrated. If I focus on my personal life, I can forget the horrors out there and appear callous.

Wish I had more answers. Wish my mother would have thought it important to teach me things like how to deal with my emotions (other than denying them, stuffing them down, or ignoring them). That, apparently, was not as important as teaching me to iron a handkerchief perfectly. So here I am, fifty years later, still griping about my emotional issues and not touching an iron with a fifty foot pole.

Will I ever grow up?

Been wondering about myself. I know I’m smart, but there just seems to be something missing. Something I don’t get. And I don’t know what it is that I’m missing. Am I just a head in the clouds person? Someone kind of ditzy? It’s frustrating. I know I’m different. Unusual. Not like the others. It’s something with other people…understanding their facial expressions, hidden agendas, trust issues…something I can’t quite get a grasp of. And it’s barely there. I fake it well. But I see it, and every once in a while something happens and others see it, too.

Wonder if someday I’ll meet someone who’ll put it all in perspective for me. Like finally telling someone with dyslexia about dyslexia – no, it’s not your fault and yes, it’s a real thing. Oh, you’ve got this, or there’s a touch of that about you. Not a you’re wrong for doing this, or feeling this, or learning this method. Just a oh! Like that lightbulb that finally comes on. Of course, of course. Why didn’t anyone see this earlier? Here; take this pill once every morning and all will be right with the world.

Meantime, I do what most of us do: battle on. Handle the stress and fear as best I can. Get up, get dressed, and get out in the world. Try to be friendly, polite, considerate. Try to not think only of myself. Do my best in each and every situation.

No one ever tells you ‘growing up’ doesn’t stop. It doesn’t stop at 18, or 21. It doesn’t stop at 30, or 40. It just keeps going, relentlessly opening up your mind through experience. For me, it makes me feel small and foolish. Damn! Didn’t I learn that years ago?

Maybe so, but life isn’t like riding a bicycle. It’s not a deep seated motor skill that, once learned, is never forgotten. It’s more like language skills: you can read about a language, even learn TO read it and understand it, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into being able to speak it. And if you don’t use it, you lose it. You get rusty, forget stuff, stumble, make mistakes.

Oh, hell. I never was good at riding a bike…

Thank you, me

Time off is a good thing. It gets you out of your rut, changes things up, adds a bit of excitement to your life. It also screws mightily with your schedule.

After more than a week off from hard exercise, I was a bit worried I’d find myself slow and weak at the gym. While I admit my arms are like a baby’s – more flab than muscle, so they ARE weak – the rest of me was more than up to the test. Took it easy; still have a performance on Friday. But I fell into my run/jog on the cross trainer, falling only a little short of 3.5 km in 30 minutes, without a hiccup. Kept an eye on my heart rate (at my age, I feel that’s a public service more than anything: make sure the old lady doesn’t keel over from a heart attack). 120, 130, 140. Then a push and up to 150. Yes! Seems that’s the magic number for me. The sweat pours out of me and the endorphins must kick in because it – all of it, from the sweat to the burn in my legs – feels good.

*sigh* The full force of my addictive personality really leaves me feeling bummed. But I guess I should pat myself on the back; at least I’ve found an outlet for it.

Today is a physiotherapy visit. Haven’t seen my guy in a while – busy with the play and too poor to pay for a visit. Think I now know how to handle my visits. I can keep a good 8 weeks between appointments as long as I keep active. However – wait; I should say HOWEVER – if I have more than 2 days down due to illness or injury, I need an appointment. All it takes is 2 days for the pain to creep back in. The flip side of that is that all it takes is 2 days of movement to make me feel better. And that’s good…great, in fact. But there are times when 2 days of movement is beyond me. Hence, my need for physiotherapy.

Besides, do I really want to give up an occasional visit to the cutest guy I know?

Nope.

Got through half my Dutch homework. Still have 4 letters to write. Spoke up in class when yet another ‘you’re having a party, write a letter to your friend’ homework task was handed out. Can’t we please do a letter to someone else, about something else? How about a complaint to the electric company? Something like that would be more useful. So I got an extra 2 letters for my outspokenness. Good. I do well with homework, and usually have the time. May I have some more, please?

Something has clicked in my brain with Dutch. Was aware of it last night as I watched tv. I like Dutch tv; they run plenty of English programs with Dutch subtitles. Right from the start, I read the subtitles (or tried to; they go by fast for a beginner reader). Doing that has helped me figure out the meaning of many words, particularly when watching a cartoon or program for younger audiences. I see words repeated, hear words repeated, and pretty soon it becomes evident that this word means thus and so. But some sentences have always confused me. Too many words, too many ‘je je’ or past tense verbs or other things I just don’t understand. Last night, though, it was like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle were slid into place. Suddenly no sentence seemed too much: here’s the subject, the verb, the modifiers, the helping verbs. Instant recognition, even if I saw a word I hadn’t encountered before.

By jove, I think she’s got it!

…My mood has improved. Obviously. That’s two references to favorite childhood films.

Thank you, me, for going to the gym and working so hard. Thank you, me, for sweating and pushing through the wall. Thank you, me, for being so committed to our health that we get to the gym in the first place. Thank you, me, for listening to our concerns, taking them into account, and being careful with our body.

Most of all, thank you, me, for trying so damned hard.

Limits

Finally a bit of real rest. Didn’t feel like I slept after opening night; it was a light sleep, at best, with several times coming to and thinking about the matinee performance. I wasn’t alone. Everyone was dragging yesterday.

Flubbed. Missed lines, experienced that wonderful brain fart feeling – which, as I said later, really DID feel like my brain fell down somewhere around my ass leaving my head completely empty… Still got laughs, got through it. Still feel okay, though I know it wasn’t my strongest performance.

Had two people come to see me yesterday. Whoohoo!!! Two people! I wasn’t sure anybody was gonna show up. Felt real good to see them after the show, to have someone I sat with and talked with while everyone else chatted with their friends. Talked so much and so long the lounge emptied around us and we didn’t even notice. The director had to come and get me to help everyone strike the set.

Yea! Friggin’ yea! I know in the grand scheme of things two people aren’t a lot, but it’s good to know I’m not a complete social pariah. I can meet and make friends, be social, and have people HAPPY to come and share in what I do. That feels real good.

Got to talking about my writing, because I’m known by my pen name with these…friends? Can I call them friends? I hope so. Anyway, they know me by my pen name. The name I perform under in the play is different, as is my real name…Beginning to think maybe all these pseudonyms aren’t the best idea. Makes me look a little psycho. At the very minimum, it’s telling as to how much I hate being me. But I digress. Talked about scripts and read throughs. Told them about the Night Witches script. One of them knows some Russians from Russia, and said she’d ask them along. DAMN! Could I get a better sampling for a reading? Don’t think so. Very excited by the prospect. Had to warn her that I wrote it for Americans, so heads up to the Russians: don’t expect a lot; more than half of it is educating the audience. Crossing my fingers they appreciate my approach and like the story.

All this is good, because at the moment I feel very cut off online. My spam filter is working better than ever, but the upshot is I’ve had days go by without anything new showing up in my email. Not sure if an empty inbox is better than an inbox filled with spam. At least with a lot of spam, you know the world thinks of you as alive. You feel remembered…even if it’s just by advertisers.

Barely a clean pot, pan, plate, or spoon in the house. Garbage and recycling have piled up, too. The plants are gasping for water. And the dust bunny population has exploded. Will try to get to the big stuff today and tomorrow without hurting myself.

Language class later. Gotta try this morning to switch into Dutch. Maybe do some reading. Right now my head is all English.

Need to get back to the gym, too. Keep moving, keep that back pain free.

*sigh* Taking care of myself is a full time thing.

Friday I head to Leiden for another performance. Good news is, I have a lift. Bad news is, I’ll be going at noon and having another long, LONG, full day. Those are hard on me.

One day at a time. Lots of daytime appointments this week. Gotta buy new false eyelashes (found the limits on wearing falsies; the lashes fall out after a while). Catch up on a bit of rest each day. Do some laundry, chill, and run lines so (I hope) I don’t have any more flubs.

Couldn’t do this full time. Couldn’t do a play six or seven times a week plus live a life. I mean…one weekend gone and the house is a wreck, nothing’s clean, and I’m pooped. Good to know: if I ever DO get an opportunity to do more, it’s got to come with enough money to buy me help. A maid to come in and tidy up the house, a personal assistant to help me keep everything together while I perform. And a bleeding chauffeur to drive me around so I don’t have to sit at the theatre for six to eight hours at a time.

Good to know my limits.

I’m ready

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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