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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, I will.

Authoress Theatricus

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Four days, non-stop (other than my brother yelling at me to pause for silly things like meals and sleep). The script is finished and I am thrilled. Thrilled to be done, thrilled to have finished at all, thrilled to hope there may be some real funny jokes in the script…thrilled. Did a little victory song and dance yesterday after I wrote the last ‘curtain down’. The world of spell check and formatting comes later, but at the moment, the bulk of the work is done.

Now what the hell do I do?

That’s a joke, of course. I’ve got four days of piled up stuff to do. More, if I care to be honest about how lazy I’ve become. But I’ve been walking around with “that burnt out stare” (according to my bro) that I get after an intensive writing spree. Watch one of the movies you recorded! Don’t you dare turn your computer back on! I had to get up a wee bit early so I didn’t catch hell just blogging this morning.

My bro even topped up the card we use online. He handed it to me yesterday afternoon with a slip of paper. “See? Over a hundred euro all ready. You’ve got fifty for games.” I never spend that much on games, I scoffed. “I know. Break the habit and spend it. Just take a few days from your writing.” – Now, that’s the act of a desperate man!

I like writing the way I do. It’s become something of a ritual with me. When I finally fall into that groove, I don’t want anything to stop me. Not my brother, nor tv, meals, sleep, or any other interruption. I really should have a cage to go sit in. A dark cage with just my desk and computer sitting in it and a plaque on the front saying:

Authoress Theatricus: a rare species of female writer. The Authoress Theatricus enjoys solitude, and working under the cover of darkness. Although she may look warm and fuzzy, the Authoress is extremely dangerous. Do not approach the cage; do not hit the bars of the cage to catch the Authoress’ attention. This animal is known to attack swiftly and violently without provocation.

Growl!

Right now I need the zookeeper to hose down my cage. Part of that ‘no interruptions’ stuff includes not showering or even changing my underwear. I don’t want to wash the story off my back! Sounds silly, I know, but I have this strange feeling that when I write, I sweat out the story. That sweat becomes part of the story, part of the setting, and when I’m really in the groove I don’t want anything to throw me.

Including my own stink, or lack thereof.

This morning I’ll get the sweat and oils burned off my body in a chlorine pool (don’t gross out; I’ll shower before jumping in). I might just float on my back, grinning, the whole time. I did it. It’s done. I still feel all giddy thinking those thoughts.

My characters threw me curves right up to the curtain close. My brain fished out a divorce horror story from long ago, and I threw echoes of it into the script via the eldest son and his wife. I had this foggy idea of how the play was supposed to end, but no real idea how to get myself there. But, trust to my subconscious! Even when I don’t listen to myself, it does. It heard and remembered my words about using the script to heal my family in a manner I’m unable to do in real life. And this came out:

I know, Mom. But that’s not a life. And I want a life! It would sure be a lot easier to go and get one if I felt you supported me.

That stopped me and made me think. Brought a tear to my eye, too. From there, the rest fell into place: the denials, the jokes, the confessions – everything.  The real parts of my life are utterly real in this thing. Almost too real, in some aspects. But as my fingers beat down closer and closer to the word count I was shooting for, I wrote what never happened in real life: a change in behavior. A healing, a coming together in support of each other like my family was never capable of.

As the last lines were written and the final running gag punchline typed in, I felt a release. An acceptance. The buzz of irritation and anger I felt around the word ‘family’ melted away.

I didn’t look for this. I didn’t expect it. But I’ve healed myself, at least a little bit. The understanding I needed as a writer to create these characters, with all their foibles and irritating behaviors, got welded into my mind. I wrote what I thought was behind it all: my mother’s narcissism, my father’s bellowing, my brother’s drinking and cheating, my sister’s shallow callousness. The characters were called out, brought up short, and given a good slap in the face metaphorically to wake them up. And I find, today, in my heart, more understanding and forgiveness for my family than I’ve felt in many years.

With the final curtain down stage direction written, the heavy fog surrounding Rotterdam lifted. Quite literally; I opened the curtains to weak sunshine, which grew and strengthened into the nicest day we’ve had since I fell into this trance. Can’t help but feel that’s a sign, or at least a reflection of this brilliantly glowing light inside me.

I done good.

Today, I pick up my old life. The one before the time portal opened and I fell down the rabbit’s hole. It feels strange to face a day of swimming and…and nothing. No plans to write, no need to dream up any more dialogue. I should turn my brain to Dutch again. Get back to the gym later this week for exercise.

Time to draw the curtain down around the cage; this exhibit’s closed for the time being.

Good Sound

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Okay. I’ve had 24 hours to adjust to the fact I’m insane. Not really happy about it but okay. I mean, what the fuck else am I gonna say?

I am wrong, my memory is wrong, I’ve been speaking like an ass for a goddamn year. Confirmation came thru this morning in the form of an email from my previous teacher. And I swear it was he who told me! But okay. Down the rabbit hole, lost the mind.

Now I can’t trust myself.

And that makes me sad.

Been having this sitting lump in my stomach. That sorrow/depression feeling I know all too well. The thing that will allow me, once in a while and only for appearances’ sake, to emit a laugh now and then while I watch tv with my bro. But the laugh comes from nowhere and goes nowhere. It doesn’t stay in my body, buzzing and humming and making me feel good. It doesn’t linger on my face, showing the world that yes, I AM actually happy. It dissipates. Disappears. Melts back into that lump and returns to my stomach.

I feel very alone. What the fuck am I supposed to do? Hi, doc, my brain is now telling me things that aren’t real and giving me memories that never happened. Got a pill for that? That’s pretty much a straight to the looney bin do not pass go scenario, isn’t it? All I can do right now is start again. Assume I’ve made other mistakes, because if I make such a big mistake in verbs I must be making similar mistakes elsewhere. A, B, C.

What I really want to do is crawl under a rock somewhere and just ignore it all. Everything. The language, exercise, my writing, my music, people – even my brother – everything. Fuck it all. I feel wounded in a way that doesn’t show and it seems no one else understands. And I can’t make people understand this, I guess. I try. No one gets it.

Days like this and I do wonder if I don’t suffer a touch of autism. I get so frustrated and upset and it seems the more I try to make myself understood the further I get from any sort of understanding. All I can do – and I do mean the only thing I can do – is get myself under control. That could take days. Weeks. I never know. I’m sad and angry and I can’t communicate it at all IRL. But I do know from experience that if I continue to bang my head against the wall I’ll just wind myself up more. I HAVE to walk away.

And yes, in the past when I’ve walked away I’ve been called all sorts of names. I’ve been told I’m a quitter, a slacker, a loser for doing it. Even a stuck up princess that expects the world to turn on her desires. Doesn’t matter if I get myself under control and come back to it; the fact that I must walk away at some point has always garnered me shame. So I’m ashamed to walk away, even tho I know if I don’t things will get worse. Double bind. Got a lot of those in my life.

I fucking hate people sometimes. How they are so callous and mean. Never had anyone say to me Yeah, Beeps, it’s okay. Take ten minutes or a day or whatever you need. It’ll still be here. A little break won’t hurt anything. No. It’s always shame you for this, shame you for that. Peer pressure to make you say and do things you don’t want to say and do. Push, push, push. I push myself enough, thank you. Don’t need YOUR hand on my ass, too. Now I got people looking at me like I’ve really lost it – what do you mean you got such a basic thing wrong? What do you mean you don’t want to participate now? What do you mean? Why? Why? And I tell them and they STILL look at me that way.

I feel I got no one on this. Nobody. Even my home doesn’t feel safe; my only option seems to be to curl up inside myself, to become that leaden thing down in my stomach.

Don’t want to. Really fighting it. Think I might need the release of a good cry, but I’m afraid if I start I won’t be able to stop.

Now, I know (intellectually) all I’m trying to do. I realize everything is coming to a head – lowered calorie intake, increased activity, withdrawal from smoking, sustained pressure on the language front. I know this is one of those times I need to take a few things in stride. Cut myself some slack. Be okay with fucking up because I’ve put myself physiologically in a topsy turvy situation. Yeah. I’ve got just enough clarity I can occasionally lift my head out of the shit and see that. Can’t see the other side of this, tho. Can’t see a shore or a boat or anything. Feels like I’m gonna be here forever. That adds to my panic and anxiety. Calmly laying everything out for me to examine helps for a few minutes. It doesn’t get me through the day.

Gonna go out and take a walk. It’s not my walk day. It is, in fact, a down day for exercise. Doesn’t matter. Thought I was getting up around 7, too, only to find that no, I forgot about Daylight Savings time and it was really only 6. Shit happens. Besides, what the fuck am I supposed to do today? I don’t want to do language – I still feel too burned and unsure of myself. I don’t want to sit and play games; feels stupid and time wasting to me. Don’t really want to do anything. If I could become a rock today, I would. Just a rock. No thoughts, no feelings, no nothing. Just sit there. For fucking ever.

Birds would shit on me. Rain would wash me clean. I’d take the feet of all that walked over me and never break. Everything would just pass over me, and I’d still remain intact.

Sounds good. Guess I’m looking for a place called Good Sound.

Make the most of it

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Can finally eat again. Think again. Sleep again.

More talk with my brother. Apologies and reassurances. Why do you feel the need to force this when you’re not doing well? Because when I’m doing fine I don’t want to talk to anyone; don’t need to. Because the timing is never right for me to stop smoking and begin the entire process of letting people diagnose me. Because. Do I need another reason?

Hell’s bells. I was even told that the elusive R, my brother’s ex-sensei and friend, was willing to talk to me about therapy. Like I need someone who isn’t qualified tinkering in my head, or someone who’s never read a word I’ve written here to tell me what they think I should do. No. If I can’t make friends on my own, I’m not borrowing them from my brother.

More walking. Less thinking. Distract, distract. A day has a lot of hours to fill, and I can’t walk them all. Bought some games for my computer again. The browser is out of date and I can’t upgrade, so sooner or later that’ll be it and I won’t be able to buy any more games for myself. Buy ’em now so I got something to do. TV sucks right now. It’s autumn and there’s shit on. Nothing new. WTF? And my mind is made up (for now) – NO LANGUAGE ON THE WEEKENDS. I get it enough without trying. No pushing. No opening my books, no mouthing words to get the vowel sounds right. Throwing myself into overload does me no good. I mess up on simple things and my head feels like it’ll explode.

*sigh* I also heard all about how no one on this planet thinks I’m a failure but me. How I judge myself too harshly. How my long-standing web status and many works intimidate most people. How I look too big. Certainly musicians I’ve worked with can feel that way, especially when they’re out trying to get some attention for a new band or release. But babies, I’ve been doing the internet thing since 1996. Building my on-line presence. Putting out my stuff, getting a fan base. It hasn’t been overnight. I don’t have a marketing agency behind me that set up 10,000 pages with my name on them. I’ve done that over the past 20 years, either through direct work or getting noticed enough that other people have added me automatically.

The really awful thing about it is this: newbie musicians just getting online with their bands and music think I’m big and get too intimidated to talk to me. Big musicians know I’m not there yet and don’t BOTHER talking to me. So I’m left in limbo. Some musician’s purgatory. Can I spout off about the thousands of streams I get every month? Sure. Sure I can. I’m also a bit too honest, and tell people that .003 per stream doesn’t get you far.

Life echoes. Similar things happen when I look for friends. Finding a 40-60 something female with no kids or husband who’s still a punk at heart but understands if I’m too tired or aching to go out is really tough to do. About as tough as breaking thru the invisible membrane my music career is stuck on. Or my writing career – you could add that in, too.

I’m just covered with sticky tape and getting nowhere. That’s what it feels like. Move one foot and get the other stuck. And it seems the more I struggle, the worse it gets.

So I’m letting it go. Again. I’m choosing to let go of my worries. To not think of them. Not easy; I fell asleep in front of the tv last night by 9 p.m. and toddled off to bed. But once there, I could find no rest. For two hours I tossed and turned, combating this angry thought and that angry thought. Tried to find a calm spot. Tried a soothing beach at sunset. Didn’t work. Tried a mountain glade with a running stream. Didn’t work. It was the buzzing of the intercom at 11 p.m. by some drunk that got me up with an explosive ‘GET THE FUCK OFF THE INTERCOM YOU MORON’ and finally gave me the release I needed. Got chided for that behavior, btw. But I rolled and toked, shivered in my pyjamas, and when I did go back to bed I didn’t have to fight any negative thoughts; I just dropped off.

I dunno. I think sometimes you just gotta let go with a good vocalized burst of anger to get it out.

Won’t say I’m doing well. But better. If I don’t run into anything that tips me off balance again I should recover in a few days. Didn’t cry this bad spell, something I usually get down to. That’s different: a no tears tantrum. What does that mean? That I didn’t get to the root of it, or that I did better than I generally do? I suppose it could be spun either way.

Know what? I’m not gonna bother with that. It’s just another way to judge myself.

Today’s a brand new day. I’m gonna try to go and make the most of it.

Hoe gaat het?

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Ugh. It’s 5:30 and my body couldn’t decide if it was hot and sweaty or cold and shivery. I pre-empted it and told it it was time to wake up. Or, more accurately, I said to myself if I’m gonna toss and turn for the next two hours I might as well get up and have some coffee.

There’s a new note about language lessons in my inbox this morning. Found a short message late yesterday saying they’ve found someone to give me one on one language lessons and would this week work to start. I replied late, seeing it late, and now have this:

Ive sent him a message this afternoon, I suppose he will be there tomorrow

Don’t know his name. Don’t know the time. I am flying blind this morning. Completely. Best of all for my personal angst, it’s in the same building I walked out of a few weeks ago. Oh, yea. I get to go back where I burned a bridge. That always makes me feel about two inches tall.

My very cute physiotherapist has been on my mind a lot the last 24 hours. He usually is after a session because he IS cute. Yesterday he said a couple of things that made me think. Think like maybe he might be hinting about dating me. Christ, that feels completely egotistical just typing that out. But he told me he has problems with women, that he always seems to choose the wrong ones, that he’s single and lives and alone with his cat. It seemed a bit too personal of info for a doctor’s visit, you know? He didn’t have to go into details. It felt like he wanted to tell me he was single. Or maybe that’s just my overactive imagination. I mean – other than introducing himself, the first thing out of his mouth was ‘take off your shirt’ so he could see my back….That usually does not lead to anything; I don’t have THAT great a set of knockers. And he’s younger than me. Maybe not by that much. He’s got some salt and pepper at his temples (just enough to give him that REALLY perfect look) so it’s not like he’s a baby.

Fuck. I’ve been trying to put that to rest for the last 24 hours. Just get it out my head. I won’t see him for two weeks. Now it’s all there on the page and I can’t stop thinking about his soft brown eyes…

And it’s bleeding ridiculous because I wouldn’t know what to do with a guy in my life anymore. I don’t want sex. Not really. The few times I do feel aroused it’s very short lived. A sexual partner might have a five minute window once or twice a month when I feel frisky. Usually I’m yawning by 9 p.m. I know part of that is there’s just nothing in my life to make me feel any other way. I mean, get me out to a nightclub with some good music and a drink and I might go very late indeed. And maybe if I had a really cute physiotherapist gazing at me with his liquid brown eyes I’d be in the mood more often. But there’s more. More I haven’t been brave enough to admit to.

For the few of you who do read this, let me preface this by asking that you don’t judge me. I have this innate sense that if I can’t even commit the words to paper I’ll never be able to say them out loud, and the day may come when I need to say them out loud, so here goes. An ex-boyfriend gave me herpes. There. It’s awful and I’m fucking ashamed of it. I shouldn’t have hooked up with him, shouldn’t have had those drinks, shouldn’t have, shouldn’t have, shouldn’t have. And I KNOW he was a dick for doing it. That knowledge doesn’t stop me from kicking myself. The why he did it is almost comical. He cheated on me and broke up with me in a public place. I was so angry I wanted to hurt him, so as I left I shouted ‘Good luck; you’ve got herpes now’ and left. I didn’t have herpes at the time, I just wanted to make him feel bad. However…he developed it. Whether through the woman he cheated with or someone else, very soon after I shouted that at him he developed it. So he thought I gave it to him. He said nothing of this until we’d slept together again, then brought it up. I laughed and told him I’d just been angry, even apologized…and then he told me.

My words really came back to bite me in the ass on that one.

Now that you know what a hollow shelled slag slut whore person I am…Why the fuck even bother finishing that? Either you’re grossed out or not.

What I need is a bit of acid – LSD would be fun, but I was thinking more the car battery variety – to scour my brain clean. Pour it on and watch those memories dissolve.

I’m gonna be a fucking head case for this first lesson with a person I don’t even know the name of. Yee-ha (said in the most monotone voice ever). Let’s go and have a language thrown at me when my brain can barely grasp the truth of my own life. Sure! Why not? Add something else to the jumble. Maybe genius will spring forth. Maybe I’ll just put my head down and die, too.

Apologies. Let me gather my armor.

…First thing is I’ve got to find a good head space. Set aside the cute physiotherapist, set aside the burnt bridge I’m BOUND to see when I walk in this morning, set aside the guts I’ve just opened up and splayed over the page. These things are; that does not mean I have to react to them. Reaction is my choice.

When everything seems too much I revert to the basics. Making sure I breathe. Fighting to stay in the present. Even my language goes back to the first thing I learned: hoe gaat het (how goes it)?

The one question I don’t really want to answer.

I’m a dick

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9:48 and I’m just settling into my chair to blog. After careful consideration and a lot of help from friends, I decided I’m not going for coffee this morning. The guy creeps me out.

My walk this morning was not as paranoid as my walk the other day. Only looked over my shoulder once today; the other day I was checking every 15 minutes, just to be sure. Still sticking to main streets rather than the parks. And I think I’ve ruined one park for me: I told him I liked to walk thru it. I’m also avoiding the street area where I ran into him. Can I ‘fess up to all that and still claim to be okay? I’m not freaking out horribly – but feeling like I need to avoid certain areas does point to my remaining discomfort. My friend, J, thinks women are conditioned to not trust our instincts. And it’s true. We’re told we’re being paranoid or overreacting all the while we’re fighting to keep hands off of our bodies. Yes. I have that particular memory in my own horror-flavor. And yes, it’s been coming up a lot lately.

Whether or not avoiding this situation is mentally healthy for me doesn’t matter right now. I need to know I’m physically safe. Been un-safe too many times in the past.

So. I now walk with my iPod on low, so I can hear things around me. My keys are kept in my right hand pocket, so I can grab them as a weapon. I keep my head about me, and my eyes sharp for who’s close to me.

I don’t like feeling unsafe.

IF, in the future, the dreaded confrontation comes with the guy – the why didn’t you show up or text questions – I hope to have enough courage to state it simply: you scared me when you locked the door. Boom. Don’t have to say anything after that. I was raised to lie in situations like this: say you got ill, you lost the number, etc. I don’t like that at all, and I’m not good at it. Just don’t know how brave I’ll be if it comes up. Just hope it never does come up.

…And no matter how many times I go thru this, how much I tell myself I need to listen to my gut, I feel guilty for sitting here right now rather than showing up and telling him face-to-face what’s going on.

That’s my bad, and I own it. Maybe a little too much.

‘Cause this isn’t a simple thing for me. It’s a big thing. A big, BIG thing. It’s okay to not get it right a few times. I did what I didn’t do before; I made my concerns known to the people around me. Got some feedback and support. I’m saying no the only way I know how right now: by not showing.

And that’s okay. People do it all the time. Better a clean cut than a prolonged bunch of bullshit, anyway.

A bit of me time today. A shower. Maybe a facial masque while I watch some more Awkward. Got into the series yesterday on my tv system. Sometimes I think I enjoy watching programs about much younger people because some part of me is stuck back there and I’m still trying to figure things out. But I do find the show more enjoyable than others I’ve tried recently, so what the hell. I’m looking for entertainment, not some deep epiphany on my own behavior. I can acknowledge I’m showing great courage in discussing my fears, even in my decision to not show up today. I’m taking control of me and my body. I just need a little self pampering.

Gods…I just can never acknowledge the pain that could be on the other end of a bullshit move until I’m there, you know? Not showing is a bullshit move. I should just show up, tell him he scares me and I don’t want any kind of relationship with him and leave. That would be the brave thing to do. But I’m not ready to do that. Too fucking chicken. So I make the bullshit move of not being on the up and up but I want empathy and understanding for the pain that makes me do it – GODDAMN it! If I ask for that, I have to give it in return, which then brings up a whole bunch of other shit.

So I’m not ready. I’m a dick for saying I’d be there and then ditching. I can live with that.

I don’t know that I could live with some of the scenarios my brain insisted on showing to me.

 

Let’s Keep It That Way

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Nothing happened. I need to preface this tale with that statement, both for you and for me. Nothing happened.

Went for a walk after my language class (which I like, btw). I felt good; my back was at a low ebb and the sun was shining. Hadn’t quite made the first canal when I passed a guy on a bike, who nodded to me. A moment later I heard a ‘mevrouw’, so I paused. The guy on the bike stopped to ask me if I knew where the supermarket was. Simple! Not only did I understand him, he happened to be asking about the shop I live above. ‘Ja’, I said proudly, knowing I could give him directions direct from my lessons: straight ahead on your right side. A conversation ensued. Where are you from? How long have you lived here? Standard Dutch questions I’m beginning to anticipate. We found we were both newcomers to the Netherlands, and both in language classes. When he asked if he could walk with me for a bit, I said yes, enjoying the simple conversation. All went well, until he felt he needed to show me his apartment. Three times I tried to say no, three times I heard ‘oh, no, come on, come on’. I reluctantly followed him up the stairs to his flat.

Every hair on my body stood up when he locked the door behind me.

I’m gonna be honest here, even tho I’ll be admitting to some horrible thoughts. The moment that lock clicked every refugee rape story I’ve heard – including women older than myself getting raped – ran through my head in a moment. This guy did not strike me as a predator, but then, that’s how you get into trouble. You think of course it can’t/won’t happen to you, and then it does. He continued to insist I stay, telling me to take a seat, offering me some water. I didn’t budge from the hallway. I put on my best sorry face, and told him my brother was waiting for me to be done with my walk so we could begin some language work. I was very relieved when he unlocked the door and let me out.

He walked with me part way back to my home. Kept asking to have coffee some time. I did my best to put him off. I straight up asked how old he was (26) so I could hit him with my own age (which I popped up to the next number): 51. Didn’t phase him. I heard that I was a beautiful woman, age didn’t matter, blah, blah, blah. Ye gods! Under pressure I agreed to coffee, but on my terms – Monday morning in a public place.

I really want to tell myself that he’s lonely, just wants a friend in the neighborhood, someone he can practice talking to. I think he wants more, though. *rolls eyes* Far more than I’d be willing to give.

So I’ve got his mobile number. And he asked me to send him a text confirming that we’ll meet Monday morning. But I’m concerned. I’m concerned that if I send out that text I’ll suddenly be bombarded with texts and phone calls from him. I guess if I’m honest with myself, my gut tells me there was something a bit off. I hate to jump the gun here; it could easily be cultural differences that are throwing me – which is why I agreed to coffee on Monday in the first place. But something isn’t right. Either it’s a predator I’m smelling or a guy looking for a wife – either way, I don’t want any part of it.

I KNOW what the triggers are that are making me so jumpy. They’re easy to define. I just don’t know if I’m only being triggered or if there really is something sinister going on. Why, oh why couldn’t it have been a woman that approached me? (Answer: that probably comes with its own set of triggers, and would be far more difficult for me to deal with.)

Damn it all, anyway!

Told my bro when he came home – after I heard about Marvel comics for an hour (aarrrrgh; sometimes his autism really drives me nutty). He expressed a passing interest in coming along Monday for conversation, so I think I’ll see if he’s serious about that. A public place is good. A public place with another person there to back me up is better. If the guy I met really is lonely and just wants some friendship and conversation, he’ll welcome my bro. The more I think about it, the more I realize it really IS a good idea. A litmus test, of sorts. My bro has the tendency to bring out the real person in people.

So yeah, nothing happened. *Clink*. It’s just that *clink* I can’t get the sound of the lock turning *clink* out of my head *clink*.

A caged animal. That’s what I felt like, a caged animal. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. Funny how such a small sound can do so fucking much to your head.

I’ll admit, too, to a certain dread of walking that direction again simply out of fear of running into him. Fear over everything: more Dutch to wade through, the possible predator I might be talking to, having to dodge more passes made at me.

Yeah, that sums it up.

No wonder I drank when I was younger. This is three guys in two years; used to be three or more guys a day coming on to me. It’s hard to dodge, hard to say no, hard to deal with in every single fucking aspect. I’m not asking for it. I’m not dressed up, wearing make-up, or flirting by ANY stretch of the imagination. If I like a guy that way, I’ll make it known. Otherwise – get out of my face. I don’t have the time or patience for your pretend ‘I love you’ crap.

Nothing happened. Let’s keep it that way.

Like I care

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

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

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

Yippee!

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

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

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

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

Reborn.

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

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

Ding. Time to take a happy pill.

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

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

Joy!

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

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

*snicker*

Like I care.

A choice

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Do it. I don’t give a shit what your excuses are, do it. You know you need to. A part of you even wants to. So go on, turn your quiet day with nothing in it into a thousand word post. Air your private thoughts. Give vent to everything that drags you out of bed so fucking early. This is your therapy prescription; take as needed.

Been angry. Feeling a little too vulnerable lately IRL. Imagined slights are cutting me pretty deep at the mo. I say imagined because they’re not coming from my bitch of a sister, therefore they can’t have the same intent to hurt as her comments always have, and since her intention to hurt meter is my gauge everything else falls short. But yeah. Any minor reprimand for overstating things ‘everyone always…‘ and I’m ready to clam up, say nothing anymore, why bother if no one listens to me in the first place. But the more I clam up and say nothing, the more isolated I feel. And I don’t want to feel isolated. So I talk and have to deal with the comments that come back at me. That brings me right back to angry.

Lovely little bitch of a conundrum there.

Went walking hobbling around the neighborhood yesterday in an effort to ease my back pain. Also as a safety guard; I wanted to honestly say yes I’ve been walking if I had to go back to my physiotherapist with this. Forty-five minutes lurching around, hissing in pain with every mis-step. I came home to rest, thinking that was it, I’d be calling for an emergency appointment first thing Monday morning. Then I got up from my chair and my spine popped audibly – twice. By evening I was back to walking normally. Lesson learned: walking will help. Eventually. I think it unusually cruel to ask me to walk when I can barely stand up straight, but I can’t deny it works.

I still want to damn the doctors for telling me to do it.

Getting very close to asking my bro to help me re-arrange the front room again. We moved the studio back into a corner, cramming everything together while our friends came in April. But April has come and gone; our friends have been back home for a long time now. My fingers are starting to itch to get back on the machines, to immerse myself in sound, to dial things up from a quiet hiss to a slurred roar; in short, to record. While I could do it as things stand, more than half the time I’d be bent over – not a good position when I’m having so many problems with my back. So pull things back a bit.

…Had a little soul crisis this morning, too. I hate to even mention this but it IS nagging at me. Went out on FB to see what’s happening in an unsheltered version of cyber-world and saw a post from someone I went to high school with. It was just a picture of her dog, in her home. But the home -! Couldn’t even make a guess at the value. Half a million? More? Sure as fuck looked ritzy. Far more big furniture and hutches to hold valuables than I could ever afford. I made the comparison between what I saw in that picture and my own life, and found my life lacking. And my life DOES lack things. I don’t have a lot of big, cushy furniture, just my one chair to put my feet up. I don’t have a big wardrobe, just a lot of t-shirts and sweat pants. I don’t have a car, or a house, or a kid, or a husband, or even a dog. Even my studio equipment is small, limited, and ancient by most standards.

Guess I’m standing on this hill, now, and wondering if I made the right decisions decades ago. My life looks sad: I’m aging, my skill sets are limited and probably as out of date as my studio equipment, and I’m undeniably poor. Throw in a violin and my RA and you’ve got a real tear-jerker in the making.

Or you could. If you shaded everything with that greyed out look some film makers give to their work.

But I stood on that other hill, decades ago, watching my parents die with all their things and I saw that none of that mattered. The house wasn’t going to save them. Their savings accounts and investments couldn’t help. Their stuff didn’t gather around them to mourn their passing. In the end, my mother said a sad goodbye rather than goodnight and killed herself. My father mourned his lack of connection with my older DNA bro and sister right up to the morning he slipped into a coma. Not one of their things mattered in any way whatsoever.

So I didn’t hoard. I spent freely. I travelled. Lived. Found out how different life can be and how much we’re all the same. I hope I helped some people on the way. The fact that I think kindly back on some people I met along the way gives me hope that they have similar thoughts about me. If I made a trade, I think I made the right one. Yeah, I’d like the cushy furniture and the house and car and dog. Maybe even the husband and kid. But I remind myself the cushy furniture might not be that comfortable. The house might be drafty. The car definitely needs petrol and insurance and repairs. The dog needs attention. And who knows what complexities lie in a husband and kid? From what I hear, no one. You’ve just got to experience it yourself.

The same can be said about my life: you’ve just got to experience it yourself. The letting go of things. The focus on finding myself, reaching out, being a better person. Neither path is right or wrong, noble or ignoble.

It is, simply, a choice.

Deep…

“Is it always up to me…?” Pause, replay. “Is it always up to me…?” Pause, replay.

Sometime in the last 24 hours the horrible answer came to me: yes. Yes, it IS always up to me. Doesn’t matter if “it” is losing weight, making myself heard, or deciding on life rather than death. What I want is a life interpreter; someone to be by my side day and night to explain me to the world, to stand up for me, to tell me that yes, damn it, I’m gonna hang on for another day and find a reason to smile again. Take all that responsibility off my shoulders and just let me be a baby. Put me in fucking diapers. Hell, I’m 50; I may need them soon anyway.

I’ve looked for a crutch in other people, drinking, drugs, sex (oh, so much sex), exercise, jobs, art, pets. Crutches work temporarily, as you know. I made it this far. But when crutches fail – and they always do – you realize nothing’s really changed for you. Change can only come from inside. Doesn’t matter how many outsides you try on; if you’re the same shriveled thing inside it’ll always turn out like shit.

That sucks on level I can’t even begin to communicate. *groan*

Made an exchange yesterday: a clean house for a bit of back pain. I did it unknowingly, btw. Really worked slow, did my best to not hurt myself. But I’m crooked again. I can feel it. How bleeding appropriate to say “I’m crooked”. That probably sums me up in two words pretty well. Not crooked like a liar, but crooked like off balance. Everything’s just a little skewed; my emotions, my self image, maybe even my line of reasoning at times.

To use a reference from painkills2, I’m “special”.

In all the ways I don’t want to be.

And while I am a unique individual, I’m not unique in this level of “special”. While I am special in this sense, that alone does not make me special to the world. Goddess! I’m beginning to sound like Yoda in my own head. Some guru spouting circular adages that DO mean something, but lose all meaning in the act of stating them.

Hm. I’m grumpy and if I don’t own up to something this isn’t going to go right at all. Okay. Deep breath. Here goes. My memory showed me a little film clip from long ago. An argument with my sister. She, as always, violated my boundaries and said hateful things. I, as always, walked away and refused to continue the argument. She followed, as she always did, and “tried” to heal the wound in her narcissistic manner. But the words out of her mouth… “Why is it always up to ME to try to talk to you?” That’s what’s hitting me. That same feeling of taking on this fucking burden that you don’t want. Aha! Burden. Why did I use that word? Well, it feels that way, doesn’t it? It’s not easy to remain calm when you’re triggered, to continue to communicate even when you feel your words are falling on deaf ears, to invest a lot into someone or something you don’t think you see anything from in return. …So what do I think I’m not getting?

Well. I do feel stuck. Spinning my wheels. I’m still not effectively meeting new people as potential future friends yet. Plenty of on the streets contact, sure, but only in passing. Nothing where asking for a phone number to go and get a cup of coffee wouldn’t sound weird. So that’s troubling. Exercise and sweating and I can’t see much difference in the tone of my body – that’s frustrating. Still struggling with the language; don’t have to go into that one yet again. And then there’s the physical side: continued problems with my back, my feet, my hands. Didn’t think I’d be taking so many of those horse sized paracetamol tablets when I got the script filled, but the bottle is half empty already.

I guess there’s a lot of shit right now that really IS making me feel stuck.

Fine, or as the Dutch say, prima.

I acknowledge that I feel helpless in the face of everything in my life right now. I acknowledge I feel I am making little to no progress, that every action feels like I’m moving through molasses in the middle of January. I acknowledge that continuing to try is getting damned difficult. And I’m gonna lay it all down. Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, my progress is slow. All I’m asking of myself is to keep treading water. Don’t focus on making progress; maybe we can’t do that right now. Just tread water. Keep your head in the air. Don’t worry about reaching some imagined ‘end’; you know very well there is no end to this. Am I listening to myself? Keep kicking your legs, woman.

And this is when the “it’s always up to me” is so vital. I gotta keep kicking. No one can do that for me.

But remember, this is your CHOICE. It is not a burden thrust on you. You COULD give up and just be fat, ignorant, and ultimately dead. You know that damned well. So don’t stomp around like your sister and mother did and make everyone in a thirty mile radius of you feel guilty.

Oooooooo….Just had to make it that bit harder for myself, didn’t I? So much easier to do if I could stomp and scream and blame everyone else the entire time.

Back in the water. Kick, kick, kick. I can do this all day. When I get too tired I can just chill on my back, looking up at the tiles. Kick, kick, kick. Water is my friend. Kick, kick, kick. Doesn’t matter how far the sides of the pool are from me. Kick, kick, kick.

Find that rhythm. Get into the zone. Deep relaxation. Deep concentration. Deep…deep….