Down to the bones

It’s happened. I’m a true Rotterdammer. At least, I’m true in the sense that I can make my way around the city sans map and reach my destination no matter what the road block. Good thing, too, since I had to reach the hospital to have my x-rays done and the entire city came to a crashing halt to hold tribute to their victorious football team. Oh, it was all jerseys and scarves downtown, mad mobs bent on having a good time despite it being Monday. When I realized all the trams were down, my head reached into some hidden compartment and out popped a map, complete with metro, tram, and bus lines (backup: the line of taxis always present around Rotterdam Centraal). No sense of panic. Hopped on the D line metro, off at a stop my English speaking mind continues to insist calling “Melancholy Way” even tho that’s not the translation, and a quick northern line tram hop to the hospital. My butt didn’t even hit the chair before I was called in, stripped down, x-rayed, and sent back out.

I was on my way home by 9:50, the time of my actual appointment.

Short break at home to tidy up: dishes, garbage, ashtrays, bed-making.

Off to the gym, where my body hit its stride after 40 minutes of exercise and things really started to kick in for me. The sweat flowed down my face. My heart rate reached 140 and hovered there. Didn’t want to stop, so I just kept going. Full on work-out, complete with free weight reps.

Had that satisfactory aching butt muscle feeling last night. Good.

Dinner by 4, because I skipped lunch as I generally do and once my work-out is done I need food and need it NOW. My bro volunteered to get Turkish pizzas and of course I said yes. Who can say no to a Turkish pizza? So I stuffed my face with flat bread wrapped savory meats and veg topped with hot sauce. Yummy.

Heard from the theatre group. The director is organizing rehearsal time. Amazingly, this group is scheduled to rehearse from now ’til July, when summer holidays begin. Then we’ll rehearse AGAIN post summer holiday. Don’t know why they need so long to memorize such short bits. Also noticed the people who were notified; other than myself, I saw no new members – just the same old people who make up the core group. Mm. Bit of favoritism? Can’t say for certain, since I wasn’t present for all the auditions. Happy enough to be included this time, tho I’ve got to admit to a sad feeling for everyone else who wasn’t chosen. Sure know how that feels, and it’s not nice.

Organizing info on theatre submission opportunities. Pulled a lot; now I’ve got to schedule it if I’ve a hope of making any deadlines. Found one or two places to try sending out my radio script, as well. Really need a helper. Someone to take care of this scheduling and sending so I can concentrate on writing more. Been saying THAT for years.

Click, click, click. I can feel the gears moving. Something in the grand scheme of things has shifted. Starting to understand Dutch without trying. Still have to listen closely; there’s still plenty of mumblers out there! But when a person does speak clearly enough, I don’t have to work quite so hard anymore. Noticed it on the metro yesterday. Reading Dutch has just become reading; not figuring out a foreign language, but reading a story. Yes, there are still words I stumble over but my head thinks less on that and more on the tale. And writing…writing has become something else, too. I no longer feel I’m stumbling around, trying to write. I’m just doing it. Cutting out the fat, closing the loopholes, catching the grammar mistakes earlier on – there’s no longer a question of whether my material is good. The question has become have you streamlined this piece down to the skeleton? You can always add back in a few lines, fluff it out if needed for timing – but you gotta get that story down clearly first. Condense your message down to one sentence, and stick to it.

Take it down to the bones.

The Benefits of Talking to Yourself

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My hate meter is off the scale. It’s always been off the scale where 45 is concerned; now it’s gone nuclear. And my hate encompasses anyone connected with 45: his family, staff, and the people who voted for him. I hope every single one of 45’s homes has a huge sinkhole open up and swallow the whole fucking thing while 45 and his people are inside. Disgusting fucking excuses for human beings.  [Note: never miss an opportunity to beat THAT horse. He deserves a whipping every day for the rest of his life. ‘Nuff said.]

If you put in an order for a perfect day a year in advance, you couldn’t have received a better day than yesterday. Warm, but not too warm. Sunny but with plenty of shade under the newly leaved trees. Every window, every door in this fine city was thrown open to the elements. I was out and about, down at the new comic book shop. It was their Grand Opening and Free Comic Book Day. The new space is killer, more than twice the square footage of the last, with a long line of windows along the street that entice and tease curious customers through the door. Never have I seen them so busy! It was great to see, and great to know the shop looks like it’ll be around for a long time to come. Spent almost three hours there, looking around (there’s enough space they finally got the INDIE comic bins out where I can look at them), and chatting. Off to Blaak, and the best Turkish pizzas in Rotterdam, then back home. My day was gone without me even noticing.

Today, there are three must do’s. I must read through the latest chapter of my bro’s work; I promised I would. I must get out for a real walk of at least 40 minutes. And I must open my radio script and begin making the changes I’ve noted after the read through.

Been dealing with some anxiety issues, even one or two small panic attacks. Had a revelation. My panic attacks (if that’s what they are) feel a lot like I used to feel before going on stage. A sinking feeling in my body. Dread. Nausea. Hot and cold sweats. As a kid, I vomited. Every time. But I got over it, and in getting over it I realized I went through all that because I doubted my own ability to get through the situation. Once I learned I could do it, I could put myself out there and NOT fail, not fall on my face, not throw up in front of the audience, that fear went away. I get a bit nervous before performing, geared up, excited – but not that panicky feeling. So, all I need to do is teach myself that I CAN get through it (‘it’ being whatever the Universe decides to throw at me). Simple, right? Doesn’t ever feel simple in the execution of it. I still go through it, still leave my body when I freak out. But I can bring myself back. Eventually.

My sneaky trick on myself worked! Ha-ha!! Now that I’m done with Tolstoy, I’ve chosen Homer’s The Iliad as my bit of English literature. And oh my! Give my Russian names any day of the week over this! But that was the point: I’m making myself choose between reading something incredibly difficult and boring in English or something easy and fun in Dutch – and I’m choosing the Dutch. Maybe I’ll never get through Homer. I’ve ten or twelve chapters to read that explain the text before I even begin, and I’m already bogged down and bored by it. lol. And I’m not sure Homer would appreciate knowing I’m using his work as a way to keep me reading a foreign language. But it’s working, for now.

I should find something similar to do about my smoking. Tho in this case, it’s got to be something more desirable than toking up, not less.

Tough one.

Hope to squeeze enough cash this month to see the new Alien film. Been dying for Ridley to come back to the series, been waiting for so long for the follow up to Prometheus!

…Did I just give myself an answer? Make sure we can see the film by cutting back on smoking? …Yep, I think I did.

See how beneficial talking to yourself can be?

On and on it goes

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Elections today. Naturally, my residency status is still in flux, so on the day of the most important election I could vote in I find myself without the necessary paperwork to go to the polls. And just as naturally, my political minded uncle had to post something on my FB account regarding the election even tho I told him I don’t want to discuss politics with him or anyone else in the family.

Riots over the weekend. I was shocked, and upset. Shocked over the response – water cannon to disperse crowds is one thing, sicking dogs on protesters and allowing the dogs to chew and bite the protesters into submission is another. I’m upset to see and hear these residents claim they’re not Dutch, they’re Turkish, and Turkey comes first. Then what are you doing here? Why are you living here? Why are you taking Dutch money, Dutch support, Dutch health care and education? Go to Turkey. I didn’t feel American, and I hate the political system over there so I left. And it’s a hell of a lot easier to get to Turkey from the Netherlands than it is to get to the Netherlands from the US. Go!

Three weeks on, and the theatre group finally stirred to post a two sentence statement on their FB page. “A few more things to work out. Auditions coming soon.” DAMN! That must have taken it out of them, hey? At this point I could actually care less about auditions and the group; I’m fairly certain I don’t like them. Too closed, too full of themselves, too judgmental. I’m only there to hook up with people who are actually open, fun, and willing to see everyone participate. Bringing a notebook and pen next time, and getting as many people’s contact info as I can.

They might not be able to pull anything together for weeks on end, but I can make things happen much faster than that.

My hearing remains largely the same. The left side has quieted enough to hear the ring on the right side.

Went to the pool yesterday for a swim. Now that’s a step in the right direction. Managed to get a decent work-out in, even tho the pool was filled with people who weren’t drowning. Want to head to the gym today for an hour. Just so sick of sitting around waiting to feel better.

Trying to struggle back with the language, too. Listening twice as closely as before, working to catch all the sounds that are still a bit difficult for me to hear. I feel a complete failure with Dutch. Seems I take a step forward and then two steps back. Can you ever make any headway in that manner? My one-on-one lesson tomorrow gives me cause for concern. Will I be able to make out what she says in that big, open room with all those other people talking at the same time?

On and on it goes.

Will you?

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In a city like Rotterdam, wind becomes a sneaky animal. Seems no matter what direction it starts from, once the wind begins winding through the Escher-esque buildings with cut away floors and balconies protruding from every available surface, it gains a slyness to it. It will buffet you this way and then that, hitting you square in the face from multiple directions. You never really know from what direction it will come. Only where the city gives way to water expanses do these air acrobatics cease. The edges of the ocean, the river, the lakes – that’s where you can find true wind, blasting its way across the flatness of Holland and the North Atlantic, bringing a sea salt tinge and wayward seagulls inland.

This true wind met me as I stepped off the metro yesterday. End stop: Nesselande. Down the walkway, to the left of towering buildings that competed for the eye’s attention with hue changes, filigree looking glass designs, and sheer overhang intimidation. Opposite, open park and nothingness. Where strange buildings ended and nothingness met, the beach began.

A few sailboats and windsurfers skimmed across the surface of the lake. They raced the clouds above, seeming to fly across the water as swift as their air borne competitors ran before the breath of the gods. A few groups of pre-teens passed me, their phones out and their eyes glued to the screen: Pokemon. Three women and their assorted children ignored the wind and the clouds, determined to soak up what sun there was on offer.

People were scattered on the boardwalk. A few walked dogs. A few joggers. A few like me, just meandering. I nodded, and smiled, and said hello. Far down the beach I saw a skeleton set up for a festival. That drew me on to the very last park bench along the boardwalk. There I sat for a moment, my arms thrown wide, my head back – a summer gesture. While I was genuinely happy to grasp this nostalgic moment of summers past despite the decidedly un-summery weather, my head was already asking: where is that person I need to help today? It was as if the wind had blown them all away to roost in dark corners I wasn’t seeing. I knew they were there; I just couldn’t find them.

A bit more walking to the very end. No trailing off of the city into suburbs. It is a clean cut, a butcher’s chop. The very last building and then – nothing. Nothing but the road paralleled by the bike path, a straight shot to the horizon. It was easy to imagine the road never ending yesterday. No hills, no curves: it carved through the land like a young river, too bold to be waylaid by any simple land obstruction.

I wondered where it would take me. Sometimes that urge to just go is very strong in me. But as I gazed at the horizon and wondered the clouds that earlier seemed so buoyant and playful became dark and menacing things, gathering at the precise point of road meets distance. The wind shooed me back, past the towering buildings and the women trying to tan, past more zombie children with eyes fixed on their mobiles, to the ghost metro station of Nesselande. My carriage awaited me, and in a few short moments I was home.

My spiritual malaise over not finding someone special to help caused me to take my helper’s eyes out. I was just me, heading home. No poetry, no epiphanies. I told myself I’d done well. Fresh air and exercise for an hour all topped off with a smile and a good attitude. But a lingering petulance still plagued me, a dissatisfaction at not accomplishing what I’d set out to do.

I swung the door to my building open with more force than necessary – an indication that all was not well in Beeps world. My aggression was met with a flash of annoyance: two young girls were running around the small lobby in some sort of game. Their pink bikes were mini obstructions to get around before I could access my post box. I grabbed the papers stuffed in the box and turned to see the girls waiting for the lift, still pushing each other playfully. Taking a breath, I prevented myself from rolling my eyes by shifting my attention to the handful of flyers and newspapers I held as I walked towards the lift. On top of the mess lay one half sheet: a color in picture for kids.

Wil je dit?

I didn’t think, didn’t bother to probe my mind to find out if what I was saying was proper Dutch. It was out of my mouth before any of that could occur. And the girls were nodding yes, they wanted it. Their heads bent together over the flyer, their eyes reading what I was much slower to realize: it was a contest. They left the lift on their floor, their horseplay over and done with. Excited whispers accompanied pointing at the flyer. Dag, they said to me with a smile.

It took five full steps out of the lift before I realized that I’d just done what I wanted to do. It wasn’t what I expected, and it certainly wasn’t what I was looking for – or where I was looking for it.

But that’s kindness. It’s a wind through the city type of thing, not a wind off the lake thing. It meanders, it shifts, it changes direction dramatically on you. You’ll never know where or when the opportunity will come at you. In that way, kindness is sly. It wears many guises. It sneaks up on you when you’re not looking, then stands at your feet at stares at you eye to eye, eyebrow raised in the perpetual question kindness always asks.

Will you?

Local

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Bureaucracy. An ugly word in any language. And sometimes it seems like American bureaucracy came up with the ‘hurry up and wait’ mentality. These were some of my thoughts as I waited in line for an hour, INSIDE on a beautiful day, to hand in the paperwork for my new passport. Oh, yes. I simply HAD to make an appointment, date and time, don’t miss it, don’t be late, don’t bring any electronic equipment. Being ten minutes early (because I’m one of those dinosaurs who, when you say 10:45 a.m., is there at 10:35 to make sure I don’t miss the time), didn’t seem to make an impression. I was going to wait whether I was ten minutes early or ten years late. And goddess forbid that they should actually man all the counters available. Oh, no! Those are there for show, miss. We don’t actually MAN those windows, miss. People might get the idea they could get in and out in under an hour. *rolls eyes*

And here’s a question for you. What’s worse: being a person of color who doesn’t get waited on, maybe because they’re a person of color, or being a person standing BEHIND the person of color who doesn’t get waited on. Yeah. Could not believe what happened to this guy. First he was ignored for 15-20 minutes as he stood, next in line for service. Then the people behind him skipped him when a different window opened up. I had all empathy for him. No idea why he was there; could have been a passport, some modification to his records, or a visa thing. All I do know is he was there when I arrived and he was still there, waiting, when I left.

Of course there was a crying baby. There always is in these situations.

All of these things made me dread going to the US consulate in the first place because I knew these people – or people very like them – would be there. Sometimes it’s like being on stage in a play; cue baby crying, man at window raises voice, guard walks through the room. Maybe the US gets actors to come in. Maybe it’s all part of the US consulate experience. Come one, come all. Experience first hand the slow grind of bureaucracy’s wheels. Every show lasts at LEAST an hour! Cringe at the baby’s shrill crying. Sweat real bullets in the hot, overcrowded room. You’ll soon find you’re not WATCHING the show, you’re PART of the show. You’ll be muttering curses, making ironic observations, and pulling your face down into the American Bureaucracy Frown (patent pending).

So I was very surprised when I finally approached the window to find (1) a cheery person to deal with and (2) an amazingly quick and efficient response. Yes, I had to wait an additional 15 minutes for them to type my name into the system so I could pay them their money. I was still done faster than the man who was ignored for so long. Maybe it was my fore planning. The woman behind the counter commented on my passport (it doesn’t expire until February) and told me I was smart for coming in early. A fast check of my paperwork and a copy of my passport was all that was needed. I’ll be getting an email in a few weeks to go back and pick up my new passport. That’s it.

Other than the inevitable wait in line, it was the fastest bureaucracy visit I’ve ever had to experience.

The day then opened up. Ah, Amsterdam. Again. In heat. With tourists. Could have been worse; a Wednesday in mid May is nothing compared to a Saturday in June. But the lines for museums were too long for my brother and me. We’re not tourists anymore. We’re locals. We can return in winter, when the tourists are at a minimum. So we passed by the Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum. We vetoed Nemo, the science museum, because their exhibits close down early and we want to see everything.

In the end we simply walked through the city. Stopped in at a shoe shop selling off all their inventory and bought a couple of Chuckie’s for my bro. Got lured into a place making homemade halva via a free sample that sent my tastebuds to heaven, and bought enough halva for 6 months. Popped into a couple of coffeeshops for a toke and laughed at the tourists getting stoned off their asses. One guy seemed to be a writer. He had a notebook out and scribbled a few words. His head nodded down, down. Then there was a soft clunk; his head hit the table and stayed there for 5 minutes while he stared down at his notebook and his friends laughed at him. Ended up at a place called Blue for lunch. Fabulous view, fabulous food, and handmade fresh lemonade that was killer. I thought it was a bit pricey at ten euro a plate, but then I saw the plates. Didn’t need to have dinner later on, it was so much food. Wow.

The cherry on top of the day for me was using our local train station. Prior to this, any trip I’ve taken has been run thru Rotterdam Centraal. Yesterday’s trip was run thru Rotterdam Alexander, a train/bus/metro stop less than 5 minutes from the house. Check in with my OV chipcard and viola! Catch the train. No fuss, no muss. And no busy Centraal station to deal with. Now all I need to do is figure out a local Amsterdam stop to get out at. There’s a couple the train passed through yesterday. Hop out there, pick up local transport and bypass the tourist stuff altogether.

I’m becoming a local. Now I’ve just got to master the language.

 

Fun Centraal

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My feet, Grouchy and Sleepy

48 glorious hours to recoup before I head back up to the city that will dazzle and destroy you – Amsterdam. I think it’s gonna take that long for my feet to stop aching. Between now and then, the only walking I want to do is to and from my bed, the telly, and the toilet. If we run out of food I’m flipping getting delivery.

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what we saw

Yesterday was King’s Day. The color was orange and the word was fun. I didn’t feel strong enough to venture further than the neighborhood shindigs last year, so everything was as surprising to me as to my friends. The Netherlands is setting a record for the coldest King’s Day ever this year: snow in the northern areas, with cold rain and frequent hail by us. Did not stop the yahoos from going out in T-shirts only; I saw them. Mad people. Mad, young people with strong immune systems. I envy them and their casual approach to their health. The entire country (except those areas shut down by bad weather) was open air parties and one huge market. King’s Day is the one day where anyone can sell anything on the street with no permit. About 20% of the population clears out their homes of last year’s stuff, lays a blanket down in a public square, and does sort of a rummage sale thing. Plenty of regular stall sellers, too, but the thing that stretches the market from here to Groningen is joe public. Roads downtown are cut off to auto traffic. Nieuwe Binnenweg (a major crossroads downtown) was a sea of people on the sidewalks and people spilling into the streets – mostly in orange. If you had the strength and fortitude, you could have stocked your house from the ground up with everything: household goods, clothes for every size, knick knacks, cook wear, plumbing, electronics, plants and flowers. Frankly there were only two things I didn’t see for sale; people and hard drugs, and I’m sure SOMEWHERE that was going on, too (tho not condoned by anyone).

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what I want to see

And then there were the parties…I felt too old and weary to attend any of the thumping music venues. Doesn’t mean my smile didn’t widen and my step lighten when I walked past and heard great sound systems pumping out killer techno and trance. Well, they say three’s the charm. Next year will be my third King’s Day, so I look forward to feeling better and doing more.

Today there are two things on the chop block: smoke and play. I’m serious. My brother monitors my fun levels – as well as his own – and he’s declared that if he sees me doing anything other than playing games, smoking, or enjoying a film with my feet up, he’s gonna roll me a big fatty and sit down and make me smoke it in front of him until I calm down. Yesterday morning as I put shoes on my aching feet, I would never imagine that stopping, sitting, and taking a break would be so difficult. It is. I’ve been on a fast paced, active three day schedule and just STOPPING is hard. I’m exhausted but antsy. Keep feeling like I SHOULD be up doing something right now. I may fall back on that lone Ativan tablet I keep chipping away at. Take a bit to ensure I’ll relax. I still have tomorrow to run little errands (like getting my blood work done). Today I do nothing.

Yeah, I’ve wound up into a bit of mania or hypomania. Whichever. Just a bit too fast paced. Part of me wants to keep going with it. Of course! I’m walking all day long and barely eating anything. I KNOW I’m losing weight, pushing my muscles beyond what they normally do. If the pool was open, I’d be in it. Swimming HARD. Good thing for me it’s closed. I’m amazed I (knock wood) haven’t fallen ill since I’ve been walking around cold and damp for three days. Maybe once my friends are on their flights home I’ll collapse into a tired, fevered ball. Whatever is keeping me on my feet and keeping all illnesses away, it’s very welcome right now.

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TrefPunt; the coolest coffeeshop in Rotterdam

If I manage to change out of my pj’s – and there’s no guarantee that I’ll even TRY to change out of them – I’ll be donning my new T-shirt. My favorite coffeeshop, TrefPunt, had a King’s Day special: for 35 euro you got a 5 gram bag of unmarked weed and an orange TrefPunt T-shirt. The grass is not the highest quality, of course, but I’m surprised to find the T-shirt IS. It’s a warm, thick cotton blend with the TrefPunt logo, which is uber cool. Of course, wearing the TrefPunt T-shirt is akin to wearing a shirt with I AM A STONER written across your chest. But I AM a stoner so I wear it with pride and give anyone who even THINKS of looking at me askance one of my wide, all-knowing grins. It’s not a shirt I’d wear to language class or when I have a doctor’s appointment. Any other time, though, it’s fair game.

I think a new game for my computer is called for. Something I can zone into for several hours today. Fun! I’m a kid in a candy store when it comes to buying games for my computer. I got into gaming late in life; I think I bought my first computer game when I was 40. Gaming is now the primary function of my computer. I always feel I could go to the library to write on my blog or answer e-mail, but it’s only on MY computer that I’ve got games I love to play . I don’t need to move one inch. I’m already where I want to be: Fun Centraal.

Mind + Body = Spirit

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Today’s the day! As I write, my friend is flying thousands of feet above the earth.  He’s probably somewhere over the arctic ocean, in the dark, watching the horizon out of the window for the first sign of dawn.

I said I’d retract my sarcasm if my brother ran and did everything yesterday so OF COURSE he did. Last minute stuff, but at least it’s nothing we need to concern ourselves over this morning. Good for him. He didn’t completely ignore me. He just chose to listen to me last.  Geez, I said no sarcasm! *clears throat* We’re all set.

This morning I’ll not dwell on the negative. I have a precious hour before my brother gets up. One hour to write, have coffee and a smoke, think about what’s cluttering up the aisles in my mind and then the day starts.

Have a thin film of worry over two things. One is that I’ll unintentionally make an ass of myself in some manner and suffer embarrassment. The other is I’ll become socially inept at some point, run out of things to say, and feel awkward. The first is an easy fix. I usually go and make a deliberate ass of myself. Just circumvent the ‘unintentional’ and get it out of the way. Dance at the bus station. Ask a crazy question of a complete stranger. Be silly by choice, get some laughs, and move on. It generally works for me. The second I really don’t think is an issue. That’s me running too fast, thinking only of myself and not others. Easiest way to keep a conversation going is by asking questions anyway. Let other people talk. I’m not a tour guide, paid to keep up with non-stop amusing chatter. I’m seeing an old friend who has things to share with me, tell me, talk and laugh over. I just have to remember to shut up long enough to give other people a chance.

Woke up this morning thinking of Amsterdam and smoking etiquette. It’s quite different there than here. Here I can walk just about anywhere with a lit joint and never draw a look, never have to ‘hide’ it, never worry that a cop will hassle me. In Amsterdam smoking is highly restricted. Walking down a street smoking a doobie is uncool and might get you stopped. Oh, everyone tokes in the public parks. No worries there. But it’s the street side, casual smoking I’m so used to that I’ll need to keep a leash on. This IS an issue because my friend is a non-smoker so unlike times other guests come we won’t be spending the majority of our time in a coffeeshop. That’s completely cool; I just don’t want my newly ingrained casual attitude about lighting up in public to backfire on me. Putting my Dutch to the test via a conversation with the politie is NOT my idea of a good time.

Other than my little worry issues all is good. Very good. This latest cleaning spree might have imprinted on my brother; he made the comment yesterday that the house has never looked this clean and he liked it. Oh, good. Come join the cleaning brigade. We always need another hand. These days I can do much more myself. Doesn’t mean I want to spend several hours cleaning every week.

Still all over myself with my body issues. In other words, I’m still too damned fat to be 100% happy with my body. Been trying to not think too much about it or acknowledge it too much. And I can’t say I’d be any happier with myself if I was 30 pounds lighter. I’ve carried less weight and still been a mess. At the moment I have a film recorded to watch at some point in future. It’s a drama about a girl who’s driven to suicide because her mother pushes her so much. Figured it was something I should see, but I’m saving it for after J’s visit. Sounds like a tear jerker for me, something to sit down to on a rainy day with a box of tissues. But yeah…body issues. Funny how bad I’ve got that considering what a whale my mother was. But she was all about ‘do what I say, not what I do’ shit.

And, ya know…cut myself some slack. The more I climb out of the rheumatoid arthritis shit hole the more I realize how deep in it I was. Back at that half way point: energetic enough to know how little energy my body has.

…Goddamn it. Get up for my last cup of coffee and my mind goes a whole other direction. So I grabbed my cup o’ joe and went for the sugar. We do the Dutch thing and just get packs of sugar cubes. Easy to store, easy to use. Unless you’ve taken the top layer of sugar cubes out and need to access the bottom layer. Then you’re in for a fight. Getting that first one out is like pulling a tooth out of your mouth. Difficult to get a hold of, and then every other sugar cube seems to cling onto it, making an unbreakable barrier you just have to DRAG that sugar through. So a part of my head is watching this process from a distance. That’s my usual mode of operation: half on auto pilot. Part of me pays attention, the other part is thinking deep thoughts. This other, distant part of myself pulls its head out of the water long enough to say that’s what unravelling yourself looks like; pull the hardest thing you have to pull FIRST and the rest will come free and I just thought WHAT? I mean, great analogy and all that. But ye gods! Can we be less heavy, please?

And maybe in that there’s a lesson. If I can be less heavy in spirit and thought, will my body naturally follow form? Not sure that I even LIKE the idea that my body size is dictated by my subconscious mind’s natural state. Yet…the idea has that perfect roundness to it, that feel of a solved equation.

Mind+Body=Spirit

Body-Spirit=Mind

Mind-Spirit=Body

Leader of the Pack

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I may never complain about the weather on holiday again. Just checked the internet for the latest update. Chance of rain today, definitely rain tomorrow when J lands, heavy rain on Tuesday, and thunderstorms by Wednesday. It’s not scheduled to clear up – or even have a chance of clearing up – until Friday. Un-freaking-believable. I only hope it’s typical Rotterdam rain, which leaves room between showers to get out and do a few things.

Went on a genocidal spree yesterday. Dust mites were my victims. You know how when pillows get old half the stuffing can end up being dust mites? Yeah. Think like that, only bigger. It wasn’t the pillows, it was our old reclining chairs. And I may have pulled half the ‘stuffing’ out with the hoover. Made me thoroughly ashamed that we’d been sitting in them while they held all that filth. Had to rinse out the hoover and all its parts when I was done; everything was covered in dead skin cells fine sand. Yuck. I also got that kind of close up inspection you don’t do unless you’re on a super clean binge. Saw the wearing and fraying of the fabric, the sun bleaching, and the general age of those chairs in crystal clarity. They definitely need replacing at some point.

My body keeps getting ready to go outside before my head is ready. Don’t know how else to put it. I keep finding myself getting all prepped to run errands or take a walk and then I stop, realizing my head is a thousand miles away, and need to spend 15 minutes talking to myself to mentally prep. It’s almost annoying.

Of course I’m having problems with sleep. Getting excited. Up early. Thank the goddess for caffeine and caffeine products! I’m guessing my intake will increase during the next week. Ah, then I get to go through caffeine withdrawal again. Doesn’t take more than three days of extra caffeine to get me to the point where I’ll have headaches as soon as I cut back. Joy.

I ran my needed errands and made my decision regarding the train tickets I was dithering over. That took a downtown trip, straight to the train station. Thank you, thank you (again) goddess, for sending me to someone with English. I was prepped with short questions in Dutch but SO happy to just be able to ask everything I needed answering in my native tongue! And she was VERY helpful, telling me I needed to check any time restrictions on the promotional tickets. The tickets are good for any time past 9 a.m., so that works for us. Spent 32 euro and saved an estimated 40. Yea!

The no so great news is that my brother has managed to let all the time slip by and STILL not activate his chip card for the train. That means we have to leave early tomorrow so we can stand in line at the train station to get his card activated. I reminded him several times. He ignored me. Now we have an unknown time delay in our schedule on the day we need to get to somewhere by a specific time. If he leaves the house today (in the rain) to run downtown and take care of his card, I’ll write a retraction of this paragraph. Otherwise…Well, it will be damned difficult to not let ‘I told you so’ slip from my lips tomorrow.

Shoulda just taken his card with me when I went to the train station and got it activated right then and there.

Ach! I REFUSE to get excited over it. Flat out, uh-uh, not gonna happen. He’ll have to deal with rising early; I’ll have to deal with his grumpiness. There’s always immersing myself in my iPod.

We may be playing host to my brother’s sensei this week as well. He mentioned he’d like to stop by and meet all of us. Seems like he’s getting more and more involved with the music side of things. That’s cool; he KNOWS people. People in business, people who know other people. The dojo is in an industrial park area, and next door neighbors include some game development and corporate film companies, both of which need music. Right now, my bro’s sensei – let’s call him R – doesn’t want an official title, but he will be working on commission and get a cut of any deal he hooks us up with. I’m excited; it’s what I was talking about for over a year now. Finally everyone else is catching up with me…

It’s hard being ahead of the pack most of the time. Seriously. It’s lonely. I feel like I talk to a blank wall a lot. Everyone nods, says I have excellent points and yes it all sounds right and then they bugger off and ignore every bit of advice I’ve said. Then a year or two years or ten years down the line they all come back to me with this ‘new idea’ which is basically EXACTLY what I said earlier (which they all magically ‘forget’). Drives me bleeding insane.

It’s also hard for me to see other people mimic what I’ve done and have greater success at it because they know more people or are better at marketing or maybe even just better at it than I was. Had a hit of that this morning on twitter. A poet I worked with years ago now has a spoken word album out that includes music. Guess who turned him and a dozen other UK/Irish poets onto THAT idea? I know it’s a great compliment that I influenced them enough to do it. I take that compliment, and I LIKE it. But really. What I did at the time was very difficult. Very hard on me. It was very well received, but it drained me. I’m glad to see other people having success, and yet…*sigh* I don’t know. Maybe it would be nice if they acknowledged that I was the one that influenced them. A thanks for the idea, the inspiration. Before I’m dead. I might be glorified post mortem; oh, SHE was my inspiration for this, SHE was the first person I saw do all of this, etc. etc. No doubt. That doesn’t do squat for me now.

Ah, well. Whoever said it’s lonely at the top almost got it right. Forget the top; it’s lonely out in front.

Hell Yeah!

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Wow. What a day I had yesterday!

It began in the rain, with half hearted promises that yes, I would get outside the house on that very afternoon. My brother, on one of his many runs thru the city, happened across a shop that had pre-cut fully finished shelving boards on sale. The plan was to go, look, and buy a few for my room. I didn’t relish the idea of going out in the rain, but realized a good sale wasn’t going to last long in this town. Buy it or lose it.

By the time the metro delivered us near the shop, the rain stopped. The air had that just washed smell in it. Want to look around a bit? Yes, I found I did. We went to the Markthall, a relatively new building (it was finished a few months after we settled here). It’s shaped like a big horseshoe:

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And yes, it’s actually that cool. The ground floor is one huge permanent market, with food stalls and restaurants galore. Going in that building is akin to saying bye bye to any diet you thought you were on! The scents of food and spices and good things to eat were EVERYWHERE, and within 15 seconds my mouth was watering over half a dozen amazing looking dishes on display. Lunch was a no brainer by that time (if any of you come to visit, I’ll take you there and see how long YOU can resist eating something!). And my walk up and down the aisles told me exactly where I wanted lunch – the Greek place. They had a monster gyro on display that I just couldn’t pass by. In we went. Then it happened.

I opened my mouth to give my order to the waitress and Dutch poured out. No English. Only Dutch. And I understood what she said to me. From there on out, it was a Dutch day. Even my brother joined in. I spoke English only to my brother, and only when my ideas got too big for my grasp on the language. As soon as I could, though, it was back to Dutch. And it lasted all. day. Right up to bedtime.

To be able to communicate!!! Oh, goddess! What a feeling! Okay; I know I still get some things wrong. Mix up word placement. Struggle with meanings. But to know I can now open my mouth and SPEAK -! I can ask for help, I can reply to simple things, I can get thru a basic conversation without reverting to English.

I feel free.

We got the shelves and continued on our merry way back home.

My feet felt GREAT. My brother had to ask me twice to slow down because I can now walk faster than he can.

The night was topped off by watching Maze Runner on DVD. Great film!

Yeah, I’m using a lot of exclamation points. That’s how jazzed I feel this morning. 😀

Today the sky is rosy and the weather forecast is for a balmy 16 degrees. Big plans to go to Kralingse Bos, a huge park I haven’t seen yet because my feet haven’t been up to it.

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I’ll be taking my camera.

Man, I just said I wanted to have fun this summer! No sooner do those words cross my consciousness than fun presents itself. In oodles. Not sure why but thank you, thank you, and thank you again.

And I did that internet search for theatre groups in my area. Found one. It’s close by Kralingse Bos, as a matter of fact. According to their website, they’re in rehearsals right now. I want to check out their performance and see what they’re all about. The only thing is, everything they do is in Dutch. There are some English speaking theatre groups, but all are quite a trek to get to. Besides, now that the language is unlocking for me I WANT to use more Dutch. That means I’ll be on the side line for longer than I may want to be. BUT ..that will allow me time to get to know the troupe, how they operate, etc. I can help with background work and still have fun. And all the time I’ll listen, and repeat, and learn.

I want to find a way to do this. Really do this. Make the time commitment and stick to it. That means my body has to cooperate (you listening, body?) and my mind needs to ease off (don’t worry; I’ll still give you time). I can’t have stragglers in my head, the nay sayers who nag at me and wear me down. If we do this, we ALL commit to it. Can I get a hell yeah?

Guys?

Can we make a few conditions?

Um, sure. What are they?

We’re worried about our health. We can’t run ourself down while we do this. The time commitment needs to be flexible.

I understand your concerns. You do know, though, that they’ll have to have some sort of schedule to stick to.

Yeah. Can we find out about that before making this commitment? If it’s every night…You know how tired you are in the evenings. You know how easy we fall ill. And you know that the more excited you get, the easier it is to fall ill. Can we do this slow? Please?

Okay. I haven’t even emailed them yet. Is it okay to do that?

Can we mark the calendar and go see their performance first?

You sure you’re willing to commit to going to that performance? You won’t back out on me, will you? Come up with some excuse last minute?

I’ll try not to. Can you promise to remain calm all the way up to that performance date?

Nope.

Then you see how difficult it is for us to promise to go on the night, yes?

Yeah. I get it.

Okay. I’ll check that performance date. I think it’s in June, if memory serves. I’ll mark it down on my calendar. I’ll even set an alarm for earlier in the week to remind me it’s coming up.

No pressure. We only do this if it’s fun. Okay?

HELL YEAH!

I’m Looking for a Cleaner

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Not sure why I’m up at 4:30 this morning again after a streak of getting 8-9 hours of sleep a night. Let’s blame it on my appointment with Heike later. My conscious mind is fairly reasonable and calm about it, but that’s no guarantee that my subconscious is even on the same planet of ‘reasonable and calm’. For all I know, it’s rocketed into deep orbit. Flying free, winging around, while some part of me is screaming in that tin can, deep in the vacuum of space so no one can hear me…

Two successful days of keeping my smoking to 5 Js. Two successful days of planned and executed work. Got to add two days of almost running myself into the ground, because even tho my work time is now limited to 4 hours I go fast enough that I’m seriously tired by the end of it. The warning looks from my brother are coming more often; that look with drawn brows that says you’re doing too much for your condition and I’m worried you’re going to hurt yourself again. I love and hate that look. I love that he cares enough to give me that look, and I hate that my condition is such that it warrants that look. Honestly, I don’t think I’m doing that much. Not compared to other people. I mean, there are those of you who go out and work jobs or go to school and deal with kids or parents. Then on TOP of that you try to write and exercise and get a few things done around the house. Me, I just do a few things rather than sitting on my ass all day long. Excuse me. I FEEL like I just do a few things and then sit around on my ass all day long. I’ve been reminded that some people have classified me as ‘disabled’ due to my rheumatoid arthritis, and maybe I should think of myself that way. Tough one. It’s tough to call myself disabled. Especially when I can still do things that are way beyond the average person, like bend over and put my hands on almost flat on the ground. That’s a lot of flexibility. But I know it USED to be more; I used to get my hands not just flat on the ground, but flat on the ground with my elbows bent. I’ve lost several inches in stretch. Then there’s my hands themselves: those things that sometimes are incapable of holding onto an object and hurt for no reason. There’s my feet, which can no longer walk all day long. They also cannot propel me at the speed they used to. I’m losing ground in this battle, whether it’s with RA or age I really can’t tell. Which is why I don’t know when I should bitch about it. Fucking asshole circular bullshit.

My crowing glory is quietly working it’s magic in the corner this morning. Yesterday I started two gallons of my homemade blackberry wine vinegar. Of all the many delicious things I’ve created, this is what I think should be sold and marketed. It. is. unbelievable. I swear – any of you come to Rotterdam for a visit and I’ll cook you up something with this stuff. You won’t believe what it does to meats. If you’re a vegetarian I’ll find something to put it in. There is not an drop of doubt in me on THIS stuff. It’s too rich and sweet and tart all at the same time. lol! I’d better find people to give some of this away to…two gallons would last me a long, long time. Well. It’s gonna take at least a year to get ready, probably two to get it perfect. That’s time to find some friends.

Mmm. Two years. Now there’s an investment in the future. My first year here I didn’t want to unpack too much because I was so afraid they’d say I couldn’t stay. I still don’t have a nameplate for the front entrance buzzer. Anything like that means I’m staying, and it’s not that I don’t want to stay – I DO want to stay, desperately. I’m afraid they’ll say ‘nope, we’re too tight with everything going on and you guys can’t stay here anymore’. So I’ve been ready to pack up and leave. Always worried that letter will come. There’s no basis for it. We’re here and in the system. I’ve got a lot of options and a lot of resources to call on if need be. Still. I’ll feel better about all of it when I’ve a mastery of the language and I’m earning money somehow. Nonetheless, the wine’s been set and now must sit. No moving house while this is going on. It’s a little crack in my trust shield of ice, and frankly, it feels good.

Okay. I’ve avoided talking about the appointment other than in passing. I’m anxious. Feels like today is my real first appointment with her. She’s gonna hear my truth for the first time, and she’s gonna be judged on her reactions. I WANT to make this work. I don’t want to have to ask for someone else. So I’m putting extra pressure on me. I need to break this.

My choice, my choice, my choice. Everything is my choice. I can go or not go. I can smoke or not smoke. I can talk or not talk. Goddamn it! Okay. Fuck the entire counseling thing; I’ve got to fool myself into relaxing. I’m interviewing someone to help me clean my house. That’s what I’m doing today. I want a helper who’ll be there when it’s convenient for me. I want a helper who listens to what I think is important, and prioritizes her work accordingly. I want a helper who is innovative in her approach, taking into account my life and how I live before making any changes to my environment. And I want this to be a partnership, with give and take from both ends. I won’t outright diss her suggestions as long as she respects this is MY space and MY life. I’m not adding pink to the walls or perfumed crap in the air. I like many of the things in my home. I’m not looking for a redecorator. Just a cleaner.