Just one more

It was three, not two. Three humans showed up for auditions last night. I guess I should be happy we snagged a whole other person to come in. Happy enough to say the three that did show were decent, and we’ll probably use them all in the production.

Ah, man…it was cool to sit in the back of the room with the director, like the cool kids. It was cool to give the text to the actors and go out for a smoke while they rehearsed. It was cool to see them get through my words, interpret my directions. And it was cool to see and hear their enthusiasm. My play. My script.

Lots to learn and accept, tho. I heard some lines delivered absolutely opposite to the way I wrote them. I just thought, man! how can you screw up the delivery of that line? But…let it go. This is where it begins to breathe. The director was helpful, pointing out that he finds it a good idea to let people go and do there thing first whether or not it’s good. That way, they feel like their creativity isn’t stifled. I saw that in action, and it worked well.

Hashed out role ideas with the director. We both want to see everyone, give everyone a chance. But knowing some of the actors coming in, we’re already honing ideas. We know, for instance, that the two females coming in next week are both solid performers and either could do any of the roles in the script. We know the scope of one of the male actors who’s always around, and narrowing down the role he can play.

Ugh…okay. And I felt a tug at my heartstrings when roles were discussed. I guess I really do want to play in this, tho I’m also very firm with my decision that I’d like to give everyone a chance. I had this moment of realization: shot forward after a performance, seeing the small venue and small audience. Heard the applause, saw the reaction. The usual reaction: the audience tends to react to the actors more than the writer. Someone in the crowd might say ‘It was a good story!’ but that’ll only be the one. The rest will be saying things like ‘You did so well!’ or ‘I really liked it!’. Their comments will not come to me. Trying to mentally prep myself for that, tho I think it might end up being like the whole role thing – I’ll do my best to say it’s all okay, and I’m okay with it, and expect nothing more, but when that moment finally comes I’ll feel a bit stung.

Well…scout rule. Be prepared. Expect to feel disappointed at some point.

Counter that reaction with your mantra: I’m a real playwright. The US premiere of my work happens in 2019. Yes, another theatre group is doing my work. That’s what happens when you’re a real playwright. Oh, yes…it’s a theatre festival. Possibility of more than 10,000 people seeing my work. No, I can’t fly out for it. Not this time.

And remember to do your happy dance once a day. Shake your butt, swing your arms in the air, and say “I’m a real playwright”.

Hope to stop all this napping. I get up, do some things in the morning, get tired from the medicine, sit down in my chair, and the next thing I know I’m falling asleep. I know it’s what I need to heal, and I’m trying to not fight it. But I feel very out of shape, unhealthy. It’s time to kick this cough and get back to the gym. Back to moving, breathing, pushing my body a bit. We finally have some rain, so that should help pull all the crap out of the air that’s making my nose so bad. Crossing my fingers that this will be it; whatever set me off is done now and I can just get thru the rest of summer.

Tomorrow is my shrink appointment. Meh. Gotta think in Dutch. Try. Maybe I should put on one of my Dutch films this afternoon. Hear it a bit, get it back into my brain. There’s a lot of info I’d like to communicate to him, but I can’t do it in Dutch.

Meanwhile, I still haven’t got back to my artist friend. I haven’t got online and responded to something I need to. Still getting headaches, tho I feel like I’ve just got to deal with it now and then and get some damned work done.

Here comes the lethargy. Took my allergy pill an hour ago.

Maybe one more day of napping. One more day of chilling out.

Just one more.

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I be so ignorant

Gentle and patient. That’s what I said, and that’s what I went with out into the world.

I took some time choosing my clothing. Brushed my hair and teeth. Washed my face and applied some moisturizing lotion. The weather’s cooled off and it feels like spring again rather than summer. I wrapped up warm, not caring that other people were walking around in hoodies or lighter clothing. Get sick if you want; I’m staying healthy.

Language class. …I know my teachers are babying me a bit. They used to be a bit tougher on me – right up to the point where I broke the tooth and told them it was from stress. Now, they emphasize the positive. Um…is it okay for me to say I like it? I like the support and the positivity. I like the assurances that I’m gaining ground and getting better. I like feeling like it’s okay for me to speak up and ask the definition of a word I don’t know, or to mess up and make mistakes or draw blanks on answers I really should have down. Doing those things more and more now, and my learning is improving because of it.

Remembered to take my book to class to read over the break, and I had the occasion to be damned happy about it. Total shut-out, and there were only 5 of us in class so it was pretty damned obvious. Once again, people were willing to speak to me before class but not during the break. Difference? One of those two women who seem to be spearheading this ‘ignore her during the break’ movement walked in a bit late to class. She wasn’t there before the lesson. But she was there for coffee. I hesitantly tried, choosing a seat next to their four person table that was full. I half turned my body towards them and dithered around, pretending to check my phone and sort thru my backpack. All things to give them a chance to turn their chairs slightly and include me, say ‘hey! come join us’. They didn’t. So I took out James and the Giant Peach and began reading. Only took two sentences to fall into the story. Then I was reading for real, at my regular pace. I smiled to myself, enjoying the language, the story, the jokes. It didn’t matter to me that I wasn’t talking. Let those people with their pidgin Dutch talk about homework or their husbands or children or the immigration process. I want more.

Ach! And one woman had the gall to complain to me that all the reading in class was ‘too childlike’ for her. This from the person who’s lived here twenty some years and can’t speak properly or read with any great comprehension. My response was simple and un-confrontational: Oh. I have noticed a great difference between myself and the other students: they are still grasping at the big words thinking they’ll have the language if they learn all the 36 letter long shit that stumps me, while I am concentrating on those pesky little words that pop up over and over in every sentence knowing that’s where the real communication lies. It’s not in the big words; it’s in the small words that color every sentence. I know I can look up a long word, or ask what the hell it means. But it’s the ‘just’, ‘only’, and ‘yet’ words that everything tips on. Even, maar, toch, al, nog… The words that seem, at first, easy to fly by in reading – yet when you get them, you realize it’s precisely what you need to fully understand the message.

Have the option of coming in next week, a scheduled holiday, for an extra lesson. Of course I said yes, and of course the teachers weren’t surprised. Three or four of us said we’ll come class. More one on one with two women I respect the hell out of! Oh, they intimidate me. I sweat in class, trying hard to do my best. But I know they hold the keys to learning, and I am so hungry for that. They see it.

I’ve finished the first viewing of the third Twin Peaks event. Wow. Got off into a discussion of alternate realities and time loops with my bro. He thinks Cooper and Laura have jumped into an alternate reality, one where Laura never existed. I think they’ve time travelled to earlier, before Laura’s family bought the house. I need another viewing. And another. But I recognize the tight loop Lynch created and hats off to him for it. It’s a great nut to crack.

Chop block today: wear in that new pair of shoes again. Back to the gym, more movement. Work on Dutch; I’ve a pile of homework. Work on tech notes. Find time to take care of me – something I’m doing without bitching and moaning. Been working on my cuticles, applying some moisturizer late at night while I watch tv and can I say they’ve never looked better! Nor felt better; those pesky fly away pieces of flesh that often bled and hurt seem to be a thing of the past. Didn’t realize with a little perseverance I could help myself so much.

And there we go, because I need to learn to persevere with being gentle and patient with myself. Somehow being gentle – and particularly being patient – seems to be at loggerheads with persevering. Patience seems passive to me. You patiently wait. You have patience with a tantrum throwing child. I am only aware of working on being patient when it becomes difficult to maintain, when I must persevere with patience in the face of whatever the hell is setting me off. …In other words, I feel I need to practice being patient. Is that even possible?

The gentlest and most patient answer I can give myself is: I don’t know.

…I can accept that. Admitting your ignorance is the first step to learning.

And I be so ignorant.

That’s the way to use it

So, now I’m pissed off. Yesterday’s discussion of my problem with my fellow students was an intellectual note. Something that nagged at me, but that was all. Today it pisses me off. Lucky for me, I’m reading Roald Dahl. He specializes in long, insulting sentences. I’m ready to whip out something along the lines of: You’re a horrible, slimy, nasty, mean, and evil bitch of an witch – and I can do it in Dutch. Fair warning, Universe. If I am laughed at one more time, or dissed, or spoken over, they’re getting it. I’ll write it the fuck down and memorize it. I am not putting up with that shit any more. As for the break issue, I’ve determined I’m just bringing my reading with me from now on. Screw everyone.

My teachers have asked me not to swear in class, and I’ve obliged because I care about their opinion and respect them as people and as teachers. But I can still put people down – thank you, Dahl! You’ve drilled those words into my head with every book.

And if all else fails, I know two Dutch insults to sling at them. One: drop dead. Effective in any language. Two: tell them they’re cancer. That’s a strange one; a big Dutch insult is calling someone a disease. But, okay. I’ll go with it. You’re cancer.

I prefer the long winded, descriptive sentences of Dahl, tho. Use what I’ve learned.

*sigh* The hoover broke. Overheated and didn’t recover. The only thing I’m not unhappy over is the fact that it happened while my bro was using it. Thank the Goddess! I do not have to hear about what I should have done, or what I should have noticed, or anything negative. He did it. Not me. I grew up hearing I was a mechanical jinx, that I broke any machine I came within three feet of. It wasn’t true, of course, but it was repeated to me so much and so often I’ve developed a real complex about it. I was 32 and still hearing about a lawn mower I “broke” at the age of 4. So if the damned hoover had to break, I’m breathing a sigh of relief it didn’t do it while I was using it. My being a jinx is a family myth that’s hard to shake. Unfortunately, it happened at a time when I haven’t cleaned the house regularly, meaning we have dust bunnies in every room. My room, in particular, was on the list of ‘needing to get clean’. Now I have to wait ’til I don’t know when. ‘Til we can find a decent, inexpensive hoover, I guess.

Meanwhile…

Opened up and looked at the production notes. Did a fast spot check and, yes, I found pages moved. Shit. That means going thru it line by line, checking 13 pages of notes against the script. Not a fun job. Did manage to work on the dialogue I needed to pull apart; tabled it, diagrammed it, and ended up pulling out 50 cuts to record separately. May not use them all, but it’s a good place to start, I think.

Got out for a walk. Spring is here. It pussyfooted around, timidly playing with us for a month. Now it’s moved in and pregnant with summer. In one day, the trees went from that feathery bud stage to leaves out. I passed four freshly cut lawns. There was so much green smell in the air it was rushing up my nose and tickling my brain with an almost electric feel of excitement. Gods, bottle that! I’ll buy it. It was so warm even I didn’t need a jacket or hoodie. Just a t-shirt. In 48 hours, temps are forecast near 30C. Well, that was it, then. That’s too hot. My wrist already hurts from the temp increase. Time to shift to summer life: early wake ups from the sun and the noise, afternoons in the gym where there’s air conditioning, open windows rather than turned on radiators. Makes me glad I got outside for a walk when I could.

Tapping my feet a lot more. I try to stop, but then I get busy with something on my computer and the next thing I know I hear that tap-tappa-tap-tap rhythm that I do. Palms still sweating, tho not as bad. Sleep is something I do. Something I tell myself to do. It’s bed time; turn the light off. Or it’s light out; get up. How rested I feel has very little to do with anything. Food…desire comes and goes. I eat, twice a day minimum. And it’s not the food; it tastes good. My mouth waters. I just…I think I’m hungry, then I drink some water or something and I’m not, and I just go back to whatever I was doing for a few more hours until I start to feel cold. That’s when I know I need food: I’m cold. Not hungry. Cold.

I’ve got a plan. I just gotta stick to it. Get up, blog. An hour on Dutch. Eat. Go to the gym. Back home, work on the script. Dinner. A little game playing, then tv time. Read, sleep. It’s a solid plan, guaranteed to get me thru the work I need to get done. Honestly, though, I just want to sit here. Don’t know why. I’m tired of every damned computer game I’ve got. I don’t even pay attention to what’s on the tv half the time. But I keep finding myself doing it: droning out, playing solitaire of all things. Mindless. Repetitive. Nothing surprising, nothing challenging. A few strong story plots surfaced the other day while I was on my walk. One came complete with characters, plot line, and scenes played out in my head. Fairly obvious what my next play will be.

And I owe it to my fellow students. That nagging feeling, that anger…it’s turned into something. It’s given birth to a veiled woman. Mysterious. Intriguing. Heartbreakingly sad.

That’s the way to use it.

I’m not stopping

Life just has to keep giving me evidence of the two opposites I orbit ’round. Up and down, high and low…it gets mimicked in my life so often I’m getting sick of it.

Language class. Definitely a mixed bag. Thirty minutes before I had to leave, I remembered the underlying cause of my reluctance to go: the stone wall of diss I’ve encountered during our class break. I have sat at small tables with people, nodding, trying to get into the chit-chat. But it always seems to devolve into the other students reverting to Farsi, or some other language, and/or totally ignoring me. I sit there, either trying to listen to just zoning out, while they talk back and forth faster and faster, not even making eye contact with me. This has become the norm, and I don’t like it. I’ve gone out for fresh air, headed to the bathroom to diddle around so I didn’t feel so awkward, gone back up to the class early, and sat reading or working on Dutch. One or two women seem to head this up: they’ll see me somewhere, come and join the table, then take over the conversation and monopolize it. Right. I get it; you don’t like me. I don’t think much of you, either. I’m just trying to use my language skills here, and when you don’t give me any opportunity to form a sentence, well…fuck you.

There is one exception to this behavior: the only man in class. He often seeks me out for conversation, at least before class when we’re the only two students in the cafe. Every time he’s done this (and yesterday was no exception), he ends up asking me out for coffee on the weekend. Every time he’s asked, I’ve said no politely, saying I’m too busy. And then…then one of the women walks in and joins us, and he drops it like he never even asked. I suspect that he’s looking for a little something on the side (he’s mentioned a wife and family in our lesson) AND that the other women are somewhat aware of his intentions. It explains his hot/cold potato behavior. Sad. Once again, I am given an example of men’s behavior that I just find repellent. Does the Universe want me to become a lesbian? Sure as hell feels that way. Why do men only talk to me if they want to get into my pants? Why are women so fucking catty to me when I’ve done nothing – nothing!! – to deserve it?

The answer is obvious, if I just ignore that fifty foot wall of self hate I’ve built up: I am drop dead gorgeous. …Feels good just to say that for once. I do not mean physical beauty; there are many women more beautiful than I am. But there’s a combination in me that’s hard to pin down: something between my intelligence and my sense of humor, that kid or big dog that comes out in me wanting to play…people find that attractive. Combine it with looks that aren’t hideous, maybe even a bit attractive on their own, and boom! You got me. I have always believed it is my soul people are attracted to, not really my body. Men…they react to the body. Anyone sexual reacts to the physical. I don’t truly believe for one second that’s what’s behind all this. And the physical reaction…I find it tiring. Good Goddess, can’t we get beyond your penis? So many can’t. Then they find they’ll never get what they want from me, so they leave because they have no idea how to be friends without being sexual. I’m am tired of that. I just blow them off before they even start.

*sigh* Still. I am uncomfortable with the reaction from the women. They’re pleasant enough in class, in front of the teachers. But on break, it’s a whole other ball of wax.

More separation. Our teachers talked to us a bit about another, higher level language class. They thought some of us might be ready for it, and they invited us to check out a class or two this spring to see if we liked it. The man popped up and said he thought he could go to the lesson. The teachers were quick to point out his problems with the simple prepositions and sentences we’re working on. You’ll be lost. I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to go. Then their eyes focused on me. You could do well in that lesson, but it’s up to you. Go to a few and see what you think. It’s your choice. A few other students were talked to, their progress discussed. No other student was told so boldly that yes, they were ready to move up if they wanted.

And if I have to choose between my fellow students or my teachers, I’ll choose my teachers every time. Hands down. One had done some spring cleaning, and came to the lesson with four hard cover children’s books for me. Three Roald Dahl even the big library downtown doesn’t have, and one JK Rowling I’ve not read. I am thrilled. Even when I have to puzzle over an idiom’s meaning, I’m thrilled to be able to read and understand at the level I’m at. Ha! to everyone who ever said to me that Dutch was a clunky, unexpressive language. It is rich and full and beautiful. You don’t read well, do you?

Give me more, please.

So. Super high on my teachers. Super low on my fellow students. It’s so like school during my childhood I feel like I’m on a continual, low level LSD flash-back.

And, like school during my childhood, I’m ignoring what I can from my fellow students and holding onto my hunger for learning. They can sit on their asses if that’s what they want. They can do the minimum if that’s what they want. They can even resent me for it, for whatever they perceive in me that trips their trigger.

I’m not stopping.

Screw the rules

Did you take your pills?

That’s one, I thought. Yes, I replied, two, two, twoExcellent verbal skills, no? Well, I was a little hyper, which is why the question was asked in the first place. But, Lordy Loo! We are at that point. The first go-to question will now be did you take your pills? *sigh*

It wasn’t so much that I felt hyper, I just did things yesterday. It didn’t start that way. I left off from my blog, still pondering my long ‘to do’ list, wondering where to start. Laid out my tasks to my bro, who asked me what was on my mind (a rarity). He got me to laugh at myself by pointing out how far ahead of everything I already am. I relaxed enough to ask myself the Golden Question: what would you do if you really cared about yourself? The answer was obvious.

First up: pick up my meds at the chemist. I had enough to get to Monday, but I didn’t want to add stress on a future day (that’s not caring about myself), so that was the biggie. Second: give myself that CD. No more delayed positive reinforcement. I need it when I need it. Third: get to the library, turn in my old book and find a new one. Before I left, I began my laundry – much needed, as I was down to ankle or heavy, wool ski socks.

I dressed in fresh clothes. Brushed my hair and teeth. Fussed a bit over how I looked, and headed out.

The chemist was far less busy than I thought. I took my number and waited. In walked a couple. The woman was there for something, her boyfriend (obviously, no husband quite hangs on a woman like a boyfriend) just stopping in with her. They paused at the machine, nudging each other the way lovers do, taking three times as long as needed. Then – the man looked at me over his girlfriend’s shoulder. Thought nothing of that first glance until it was followed by a second, and then a third. Took a while to dawn on me: he was checking me out. I judged him to be 10 years my junior at least. My thoughts were harsh and judgmental. That’s men for you, I thought to myself. They can be with any woman and they’ll still look and wonder about every other woman they come across. Then I checked to my left. A younger, 20 something darker skinned woman sat there four seats away, complete with four inch high spike heels. Was he looking at her, not me? I checked and judged the angles of our seats versus his stance. Nope. He didn’t see her at that angle, and his eyes met mine. Then I thought: Racist. There’s a much prettier woman sitting just to my left, and the only reason I can see that you won’t look at her is that she’s darker skinned.

It wasn’t until I was walking out that I considered the idea that maybe he just found me attractive enough to look at.

On the metro, downtown. It’s been a while since I’ve been downtown, in the heart of the shopping district. Things have changed. Shops are gone, closed down, replaced by shiny new markets called ‘market’ with all black interiors designed to show off their low, aluminum shelved products at their very best. The first record shop I stopped at was a victim of the Dutch online shopping obsession; it was gone, no sign of it ever having been there. Okay. I knew another record shop a few blocks away. Walked down, found it, searched – what a mess! There are NO OCD people working at that store, let me tell you! But everything was used, and old. Not what I wanted. I sighed, and headed off to the library – walking, for exercise and fresh air. On a whim, thinking it was the slimmest chance possible, I stopped at Media Markt and looked. Took a while, but I found it for 8 euro. Meandered thru the aisles, looking at all the goodies I couldn’t afford (DVD and book shops are the only two places I guarantee I’ll take my time and window shop). Saw the latest Twin Peaks revival for sale; excited about that, but didn’t have the money to pop for it. My purchase paid for, I headed to the library. Up the roltrap (escalator) to the one shelf I know in the entire six floor complex: the Roald Dahl shelf. Chose a shorter book, knowing I’ve been having trouble with concentration and reading lately. Got home at 3.

My brother was cooking, so the the moment I opened the door my nose was hit with a mass of delicious smells: hot sauce, onions and peppers, garlic. He was making his famous enchiladas. Sadly, he kept forgetting needed items. I just got back from the store myself. I forgot I needed tomatoes! And later: Um…I forgot sour creme. I’ll go and get some, if you could just start the rice… My game was closed before he could finish his sentence, and I was up and chopping onions before he left. Dinner was delicious. I finished first, and rinsed my plate off. Hm. The food was still in the pans. Without thinking too much, or dithering, or asking, I just quietly put everything away in containers, rinsed all the dishes, and put them to the side. My brother was watching tv. Later, when he rinsed his own plate off, he looked around in wonder. The food…it’s already put away? Yes, I replied, without snark or any hidden desire to be told what a good girl I am. And later, I sprang out of my chair and checked for hot water – good, we had some. Tackled the dishes.

That’s when I heard the question.

It didn’t bite at me, though I suspect it will in future. Or…it could. I had far too much of ‘are you on your period?’ shit when I was younger.

Meanwhile, I be da woman wit’ da bomb plan: keep asking myself the Golden Question.

Screw the rules.

Time to shut down

I can never sleep well after a performance. My body, like it or not, is set on its schedule and performances and the world be damned if it’ll stay in bed an extra few hours because I’ve been up late.

Ah! And now I understand. I’ve heard so much about performing in Amsterdam; the audiences are tough, the standards are high. Yes, the audience was tough. By the time the third act rolled around, they were laughing loudly but the first… The first act’s job is to warm up the audience, and I was never so aware of that as I was last night. Sure fire gags to get a big laugh stuff suddenly fell on silence. It was a cold audience, no friends or family there to cheer us on, just people who came to see a show. I felt it and folded it right back into Wendy’s nervousness. I looked towards the audience more often, used that fake smile that fell in an instant showing she really wasn’t enjoying the situation, fidgeted, blew my nose loudly, belched, whined in that whiny voice, and finally – finally! – near the last 10 minutes of the act began to get real laughter in response.

The owner of the place met us in the afternoon. He shook my hand and said hello. The group went to dinner at a place nearby (good food), and when we came back I transformed: the lashes, the blue eye shadow, the bright red lipstick, the ugly leopard print blouse, the hair pulled back with two garish clips, the glasses. The walk came in, and the voice came out. The owner passed me again, in make-up, and said hello: Wendy responded. We did our thing, hitting lines and marks the entire time. Curtain call. Then I hurried backstage to take Wendy off before joining everyone at the bar. The owner was serving, and I had two beers on tap. Finally, after most of the guests had left, the owner stopped by our celebrations to speak to us once again. He looked straight at me and a puzzled frown came over his face. Sorry, what was your name again? he asked me. I introduced myself. Then the penny dropped. Oh my God! You were in the first act! I would have never recognized you! Jesus, what a transformation! You’re one hell of an actress! The owner looked dazedly around at the other members of the group, as if to ask do you people know what you have here?

Most of the conversation before the performance was geared towards the performance, as you might imagine. We were all focused on the task. But the conversation afterwards… I have been accepted as a full-fledged member of the group: they’re teasing me. One would ask: So, do we have any idea what script we might do next? And the director would answer: Oh, I don’t know…maybe I’ve found one… all the time with sly looks aimed at me and grins they couldn’t quite hide. Auditions were discussed. Timelines. I found more enthusiasm from the members than I initially expected.

Oh, they’re not doing it because they feel they have to, or just because they can do without paying royalties! They like having me there! I was included in backstage pix, crowding around and hamming it up for the camera just like I see other people doing. I was hugged both formally and informally – sometimes just an arm slung around my shoulders in an inclusive camaraderie that I felt on a new level. Yea! I’ve found it so difficult for so long to find people I have anything in common with. And although I still would like a bosom buddy, I find having a circle of friends like this is almost as good. It is immensely gratifying to honestly say I’m not worrying about what was said or done last night; there is nothing to hash over. Nothing other than the warm memory of the smiles and the laughter, the excitement and expectation.

Wow. Put that one down on the calendar! I don’t think I’ve ever been able to say that before.

Class on Monday is looking less and less likely. I heard from my friend and film co-star; she plans to be shooting until the evening, so I’m looking at a late night again. Good time to catch me, when everything’s topsy turvy from the performance. I’ll nap this afternoon with the tv on and stay up later.

Snick. Wendy is gone; the magic silver ring is back in my ear.

Auditions might be called yet this month. The re-writes are done. Still have to check page numbers on tech notes. Still have to think about the legal end, too: I want releases for recorded voice and/or video sequences, and I want something between myself as the playwright and the group just to cover my ass. Those things fall to me to write. I don’t need complexity, just clarity. This is mine, you can’t do it without my permission, you understand your voice will be used in a performance and all rights to the recordings remain ours, etc. I’m not a fan of legal writing, but I can do it.

Will need another meeting with the director. Need to map out the schedule, especially the sound which I suspect will take longer than the actors. I want to move on that over summer holiday, so we have at least the roughs to use in rehearsals. …Ach, I will not have my notes fully made for any podcast/audio versions. I just won’t. It’s too much to pull it apart and re-write. Damn. Oh, well.

This production will help me in the next. And the next will help me in the first film version. And the first film version will help me the next time, when it goes full-length and big budget…

Yeah, yeah. We all know where that line of thought takes us.

…It’s Sunday. Time to shut down.

Curtain down

My bag is packed. My lines have been run. Fidgeting down. In six hours I’ll get a lift to Amsterdam and the fun begins – unloading, waiting, shuffling, waiting, talking, waiting, waiting.

Actually, I’m looking forward to it. Looking forward to being back in a city I always find energizing. Amsterdam…it’s magical. It’s very tourist, it’s very flashy, it’s very loud, and I wouldn’t want to live there…but it’s magical. Turn any corner and you might find that perfect something you’ve been looking for for ages, or a hidden hide-away hole in the wall where you discover the best food ever. I more than half expect to step through a worm hole and emerge in another time: that’s how strange and wonderful it is.

The trip there should be fun, too. My acting partner is driving up with some props, so he’s picking me, the director, and the director’s girlfriend up along the way. With four of us in the car, it’ll be a lively drive. I’ll be able to try out my social skills – How are you? How was your holiday weekend? – in a safe environment. And I’ve never made the trip to Amsterdam by car, so I’ll get to see all new roads and areas of the city I haven’t seen.

Did not get my hair done. I dithered back and forth, but after talking to my bro about finances for the month I decided I could just live with it the way it is. My brother gets his pension at the beginning of each month, and through long experience we’ve learned to be cautious. I’ve got the money now, but things are still tight. I’d rather hold onto it in case of emergency.

I did pick up a couple of needed items at the store: facial lotion, toothpaste. Used my bank card, which made me feel like a true Nederlander. Cash is being phased out here. Buy groceries? Run your card. Put money on your OV chip? Run your card. I’ve seen people run their card for purchases less than one euro. I find that silly. They take twice as long as handing over a euro and getting a few cent change. No, I’ll never be like that. But it is convenient and a little freeing to just swipe a card, punch in some numbers, and leave with what you want.

Found a new source of slavery: red velvet cake. I’m not someone who jumps on every food fad immediately. In fact, push that fad at me and I’ll dig my heels in and refuse to try it. So it’s been with red velvet cake. Up ’til yesterday. My brother came home with one from Albert Heijn, and oh, my! I am addicted. Those things should really come with big warnings across the front: MAY CAUSE FATNESS AND UNCONTROLLABLE LUSTING FOR THE RICH CREAMINESS YOU CAN ONLY FIND IN THIS CAKE. Wow. Glad I am out of the house for most of today. It should prevent me from having a piece. …Maybe.

My feet have been happy. The adjustments on my orthopedics seem to have done it. I can walk and walk and walk and not have problems. It’s warm enough now I can wear the other pair comfortably, too. They’re made of a tougher leather and they just don’t give much, so in cold weather they can still bite my feet. But it’s spring, and warmer, so they don’t. Make my feet happy, and I’m happy. There’s one of those old pains I just got used to. The aching, the soreness, the feeling of walking on broken glass. Amazing how much that shit wears on your spirit. Amazing how light and easy everything is with it gone.

Got down to Dutch, too. Wrote about spring in the different countries I’ve lived in. It’s a little short (for me). It’s far too pat in it’s conclusion. But it’s an exercise, not something I want to really write. Will not be surprised to find it contains less than the usual number of corrections; when I’m dispassionate about a subject, I can write very well. I don’t get hooked into my own words, so it’s easier to make corrections. Just one of those things I’ve learned about myself. It’s also why I now wait so long before releasing anything (other than these morning rambles). Time brings familiarity, and familiarity brings a more clinical and dispassionate view of my own work. I can catch more of my plot holes, fix more of my wonky sentences. Why not do the very best I can?

On my desk sits a tiny ring of silver. It’s a small earring I thought I’d lost. I found it yesterday. It is the only piece of jewelry I generally wear: one plain silver hoop in the second piercing on my right ear. I took it off in November for the role of Wendy, tucked it away a little too well, and forgot where I put it. Yesterday it shook loose. And tomorrow I put it back in my ear. It’s a very physical reminder of the full circle, a token of the closing chapter on this production: we will not do it again. I am certain of it.

…I wonder now if the Universe gave me the role of Wendy so I’d have a place to store all those annoying physical habits I built up over the years. Hunching my shoulders. Rubbing the palms of my hands on my pants. The nervous smiles and laughs. The uncertainty, the overcompensation, the brashness and abruptness that can put people off. She’s got all of that, in spades. But I also bring a vulnerability to her, an unexpected lowering of her defenses that, with one look and a trademark ‘oh!’ (which I must say at least a hundred times every performance), makes the audience like her.

Tonight, my hair will be frizzy and held back by two garish blue clips. My make up will be bright, loud, and unflattering. I will fidget, try to hitch up the back of my pants surreptitiously, snort laugh, lift my upper lip to show my gums when I smile, and speak with a cutting, nasal voice.

Then that’s it.

Curtain down.

And so are you

Yesterday’s get together with the theatre group went well. I felt unsure of myself, a little stiff at first seeing everyone again after months of being apart. But I was welcomed in typical Dutch fashion: kiss, kiss, kiss, first to the left then the right then back to the left and given big hugs. How little these people understand that these simple social graces make all the difference in the world to me. I worked to put my best foot forward: ask, listen, smile, participate, be there. Don’t go too deep into anything, don’t talk at length about my pain or problems, don’t crow about the film group or the premiere. I had a long list of what to do and what not to do as I walked in. I kept to it, and had a pleasant exchange. From time to time I wondered if others had a list like mine, those subjects you don’t bring up in casual company, those things you don’t talk about in order to make sure no one feels bad. Doubtful. I heard a bit of crowing. Well, more than a bit. But I recognized the corner it came from, and didn’t rise to the bait. I felt comfortable with my accomplishments over the break: the film, my writing. When asked about the film, I made two or three glowing comments about the crew and a self-depreciating joke about my body issues and seeing myself on ‘the big screen’. Got a laugh, and left it at that.

Left the question about my script ’til the very end, when things were winding down. The answer I received…well. The board member I directed my question to lifted his eyebrow and looked pointedly at the director. The director said ‘I’d like to do it’ and that was apparently that. The director said we need to meet and discuss the script and how we might be able to get it on stage. Hoping we can do that this week right here in my home so my bro can also sit in on it for the sound production.

But…honestly, it was the least enthusiastic affirmative I think I’ve ever received. I know the director likes it; he’s told me he thinks it’s very akin to Lovecraft (a writer he admires and enjoys), so I’ve no qualms there. The rest of the group, though…especially the board member, who was at the reading…totally flat. No interested smile, no sitting up a bit straighter as we talked because the idea just energized them that much, nothing. They were closer to a bunch of Sunday stoners to whom I’d just suggested we leave the house to get some munchies. ‘Yeah…that might be cool…’ as they sat there unmoving, eyes glued to the tv. Gee. I saw more interest in that crap play we just watched, and it WAS a crap play.

So, it seems I’ve got the go-ahead. But I don’t feel secure. I don’t feel it’s cause for celebration. Getting my first real script produced should be cause for celebration, right? No matter how rinky dink the group doing it. It’s acknowledgement, something I’ve craved for forever. But…I don’t even feel sure enough about this to actually claim my script will be done. I feel like at any moment I might hear ‘we can’t do it’ and that will be the end of it.

Maybe, just maybe, I owe the group a thanks for NOT being all excited. It was difficult enough for me to settle after I got home; just being in the presence of other people winds me up with excitement. If they’d been clamoring over my script, hyped on the idea of doing it…I might not have been able to sleep at all last night. Okay. Thanks, group, for your luke-warm response. I didn’t spaz out into a full blown manic episode (tho I did wake up with a headache). Still. I find it difficult to deal with, like the group collectively said ‘Go on, be excited about this if you want to but understand it’s you being excited about it, not us’. Didn’t help that on the heel of my question, one of the actors announced he wouldn’t be participating on stage this year, too busy, too whatever, but he’d put together the flyer for it. That makes two of our core group who won’t be on stage this autumn. And I need 9 actors for the script as it stands. Color me a little worried. I’ve seen the type of ‘actor’ that typically comes cold to one of our meetings or auditions. It’s not good.

Shuffling through a lot of thoughts. First, just get it produced. You’ve said it can be done by a group of not so great talent because the story is that good. Stand by that. Second, actor quality is a concern of the director, not you, so let that go. He’s made poorer plays with bad actors come off okay, so trust him. Third, this is not your only option. This story is too big to contain, and you know it. The podcast will go through, no matter what happens on stage. And you can always present it to your film group and work on it from that side.

Listen here, missy: you might be doing incarnations of this script for years to come. And you’re well aware of that. How many crappy LLR attempts were done before the big release? Loads. How many shitty Spider Man films got canned because they were just too cheesy? Even more. You know this. Let. it. go.

Let it live on its own. It’s good enough. Strong enough. And so are you.

A breath is all you need

Rehearsal today. Ten a.m. to 4 in Den Haag. Bring stuff, think, do my best, stay healthy! Mantras and mania; that’s my morning. Mania takes over – tense muscles, holding my breath. Then the mantras kick in, mostly: let it go, let it go. Whatever I’ve forgotten or failed to do by this point doesn’t matter. I have a long day ahead of me, with plenty of stress.

My hair will be played with. My face will be painted. I’ll be screamed at, choked, slapped, and asked to repeat lines ad infinitum.

Take no body issues with you! You are just a piece of marble. A sculpture called ‘actor’. This is the way you were carved; live with it. Use it, even. You can do things now that you were incapable of 30 years ago. Remember that.

Nodding. Frozen smile. Slow blinks. Got it.

Focus…

Wish I could have a look at the shooting script. It would tell me so much, like will my feet show? Where are the close-ups? How will we break the scenes? None of that is known right now, so I feel a bit unsure. I like to be prepared, but truth is, there’s only so much prep you can do for a film. Last minute changes are legendary. Best to have a good basis but not be entrenched in your ideas. I think I’m there.

Uploaded, formatted, and sent part three of the thriller off to the director. Did it yesterday morning, and paid for it with a headache that lasted all day long. Seems Celtx works for me now; I created three stage plays in my folder. Now I can load up parts one and two, and begin real work. Plus I get to keep them there, on my workspace, to modify as needed while the group works.

Turned in my kid’s story in Dutch. Or, what I have so far. Ugh. Made a million mistakes, and I know it. For one, found out for the VERY first time yesterday that the ‘u’ form is always handled as a single person, even if it means a large group. Really? Good Goddess! Now there’s a rule that wasn’t made clear to me when I first learned it. Well, that adds about three thousand errors to the kid’s story, because I used ‘u’ throughout. Fuck. Also, I keep writing ‘loopte’ rather than ‘liep’. Damned irregular verb! And it’s one that catches me out ALL THE FLIPPING TIME because ‘lopen’ (verb, ‘to walk’) is used so much. Add another several hundred mistakes to that story…

Still. Even with all those errors and rookie mistakes, my writing is improving.

Putting the rest of writing – even thinking of writing – in the closet. It’ll come out next week, when all this hub-bub is over and done with. Not the easiest to do. The writer is exploding with confidence, wanting to push out even more. Telling her to do her thing in the corner. Figure out what she needs to figure out. When it’s her turn again, her work will go that much quicker.

In the meantime, the rest of me is facing out. Looking at people. Interacting as well as acting. Listen to what they say. Think about your words. Be kind, be supportive. Most of all, be gentle with others and with yourself.

Gods. This is gonna go on the entire metro ride, you know. The repetitive pep talk. The calming reminders. And I’ll sit there, alone, with a small smile on my face, nodding and blinking. Over and over again. …Yeah, like that won’t look strange!

At least I’ve trained myself long enough to be fully alert at this hour. Ready for breakfast, even. That’s new.

Last minute list: things to bring. Water, juice, a bottle of my cordial. Wig, apron, jewelry, make-up. Script. Paper and pen. Hair stuff, teeth cleaning stuff, pain killers, phone. Sanity.

Excited. At that ready to jump spot; just point me in the right direction. I feel like a racer waiting for the starter gun.

Didn’t put money on my ov chip card. Should have enough to get up there; can always add more there. It’s a big station. They’ll take cash somewhere.

Let it go, let it go

There’s a quiet spot in me that’s been growing stronger and stronger. A calm in the storm. Somewhere I can reach to, close my eyes, and breathe. Don’t know how I’m doing it, but I’m thankful. It doesn’t work for a long time. Sometimes the calm only lasts during the breath I take.

But sometimes, a breath is all you need.

Let loose

I get to be someone’s nightmare.

Received the script for the short film. What a flippin’ joy! Not that it’s superb or anything, no. Written by native Dutch speakers, it has as many mistakes in grammar and spelling as my Dutch homework has every week. But I get to use a knife, and have blood dripping from me, and try out a real fight scene.

Suppose I shouldn’t say I got this 100%. Still have to audition, after all. Tho I’ve little doubt they’ll take me. For one, they seemed to be scrambling to find people to do the roles. For another, I be good, and they’re asking me to do a role that’s weird – my forte. I even have a blond wig, which I’ll wear because the character is written as having ‘long, blond hair’.

Of course…it might not happen. I might be disappointed. But the mentat in me (sorry, I’m re-reading the Dune series again) tells me the odds of that happening are very slim.

Waiting ’til the sun is up before I SMS my Thursday teacher to tell her I’m not coming. I could go. The script isn’t that tough to learn. But I’m not gonna go. I’m gonna get some gentle exercise at the gym, read my lines, prep the role, and get ready to travel all by lonesome up to Den Haag on Friday. A little frightened of getting lost. Always am. Don’t know why; I’ve never been lost and not been able to eventually find my way. But I always get tense. Will I find it? Will I find it in time? Building in an extra half to take (according to Google maps) a 7 minute walk from the station to the meeting place. Figure I’ll buy a city map when I get there; have none in the house. Last time I was in Den Haag, there was a lot of construction going on and the route Google maps gave me was absolutely useless. Worried? Get your back-up plans in place.

And this time, for the first time, I feel comfortable enough with the language to ask directions from anyone. My Dutch is good enough I shouldn’t miss a word, or a turn, or anything anyone tells me.

Fell into writing yesterday. Didn’t plan it. Just…did it. Opened up part three of the thriller. Knew I wanted an additional scene with one of the characters. Read the script. It was obvious where the extra scene should go, who should be in it, and what should be said. My fingers started typing even as my head was asking are you sure you want to open up this can of worms? But it wasn’t a can of worms. It was easy, almost too easy. Another one of those things I’ve obviously thought through and completed in my brain. Do that, and the writing of it becomes almost automatic.

I’m pleased. The extra scene adds to the story. Always a bit worried extra scenes or dialogue will end up detracting from what I have. Guess I should put that worry to rest. I know how to weave it in seamlessly.

Did send out a rant – check that, two rants as of this morning – to Celtx, the online software I’m using. Once again, it won’t let me bring a new project in as a stageplay. Even when I ask it to. I’ve told admin about this before, and today I received a very pat ‘hit the stageplay button on your project folder’ answer. Oh, they got their asses chewed off! Like my original complaint wasn’t clear! I really don’t expect a reply to this morning’s email. It had a lot of CAPS in it, and I asked them if they thought I was a complete moron. Not exactly the tone that will elicit a speedy reply. Must admit, I allowed myself to blow my top. I already decided I’ll take it in as whatever the system gives me. The local group I’m working with…they only need something they can read. It doesn’t have to be bloody perfect. Just readable. So that’s all I’m really after (tho it would be nice to get a fucking stageplay when their system says it’s capable of that).

And if the world blows up and I get kicked off Celtx for bad language in my email? Well, I’ll just format from my word processing system. It’ll be slow, and very un-perfect, but it’s the way it WAS done for years and years. I think I’ll manage.

Screw this half-assed shit that’s trying to pass itself off as something good.

My bro keeps harping about autism. In connection with me. Where once he scoffed at the idea, I think he’s now firmly convinced I suffer from some form of it. It wasn’t noticeable in English. My parents were verbose, and I listened closely. But you can tell now that I’ve moved into Dutch. The memory lapses. The strange way my brain works. How I have to write it before I can speak it. As well as the overwhelming frustration of it all, and the freeze-ups I experience. I’m not particularly happy about that. What’s the point? There’s no medication that could help me; my brother tells me that, too. Why do I have to have some label attached to me? To explain away my behavior when I ‘get out of line’?

Why can’t I just be accepted as different?

Part of me says ‘Don’t you want to get better if you can? Wouldn’t it be nice to not struggle so hard? Look at your bro. He’s better on medication. Better able to work. Better able to control his thoughts.’

But…do I want to control my thoughts? Isn’t it because I go to the edge that I have the ability to act the roles I do, to write the stories I do? Do I really want to hobble myself?

No.

I just want to let loose.