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.

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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.

Perturbed

Hurry up and wait. Story of my fucking life.

Had four phone calls from the casting director yesterday, asking me if I was free on Friday to meet with the director, was I a vegetarian, could I contact my acting partner from the play about his availability dates, and could I ask said partner if he could make the meet ‘n’ greet on Friday. After such a flurry of rings, questions, and answers, I expected to see the script (promised to come my way) in my inbox by the time I returned from language class. Nope. Still nothing this morning, too. But perhaps there’s been an emergency meet of the team. My acting partner can fill the role, but only if we do the filming after he returns from holiday. That would put filming in Den Hague either over Xmas or between Xmas and New Years.

I could do those dates, and I will if that’s what happens. But my writing…that was my block of time to finish off the thrillers. It would mean an entire week of not writing.

Language class was interesting. Teacher One, Ms. HardAss, was cool to me as I tried to explain the film possibility. Even cooler when I told her about the story I was writing. Her reply? That wasn’t the homework assignment. Teacher Two, let’s call her Ms. Nice, was pleased as anything that I’d written so much. Didn’t matter that it wasn’t the homework assignment; just write is her motto.

…And am I the only adult on this planet that woohoo’s when I get a difficult question correct? Seems I am. Irregular verb conjugation, verbal drill. Got a whopper, dredged up those far corners of my brain and found the correct form. So yes, I whooped and punched the air. I need that to reinforce that my memory is correct, I’ve made the right connection, keep that one. Everyone laughed. Everyone also laughed when Ms. HardAss told me to stop looking up at the ceiling; I should look at her when I answer. I, of course, look up at the ceiling because it’s that automatic body reaction when I search my memory. Um…what’s that again? It’s a well documented physical reaction. I do it because this is difficult for me, because it’s not second nature. And I need to have those answers come without thought. Rapid fire responses. I’m just not there yet. But I am working my ass off, and honestly, I don’t appreciate all the laughter thrown at me. I’m not terribly angry about it – I understand why they laughed, and I get the joke. But…don’t they see I do that because I’m working so hard? Great for them that they’ve all had better lessons than me. Great for them that they all have Dutch spouses or friends to talk to. I don’t have any of that. I went from A, B, C, to this class in one jump, and the very fact that I’m able to keep up with them is impressive.

Then there was coffee break time… Everybody goes downstairs where there’s a little cafe run by the group. Have a cup of coffee, chat. I don’t know what happened. The group broke up into smaller bits. I avoided one woman entirely because she was very ill. Two women wouldn’t include me in their conversation, tho I stood close and tried to catch their eyes. Another group sat around a very small table, full up, in some tight talk I obviously wasn’t a part of. I had no one to talk to, nothing to do.

I find this type of thing happens a lot to me. Guess people just don’t like me. I don’t try to be a social pariah. What I don’t understand is what happened between last week and this week. I thought things were cool, thought I’d found a couple of people to chat with. But they peeled off into a private group and from my point of view their body language said very clearly ‘stay away; you’re not welcome’. I’m left just scratching my head, not knowing what I’ve done or said that’s made this occur. And maybe it has nothing to do with me. I’ll allow for that. I’ll allow for the idea that they had specific things to discuss, maybe even in their native language. But…

Why do I keep seeing the same scenario played out before my eyes? The only common factor is me, so I’ve got to come to the conclusion that I’m doing something that’s making this happen.

No one will tell me what it is.

And then people wonder why I don’t like myself. How can I? It’s obvious to me no one else does. I try to get out there, to remember to be pleasant and ask other people questions. Show an interest in them. I try to stay off hot topics, particularly in Dutch class because I just don’t have the skills to say what I want. And still, I find myself alone during these social breaks, with walls six feet deep surrounding all the little clutches of conversation. No idea how to break through. No idea what I’m doing so wrong.

In future, I’ll bring the book I’m supposed to be reading. Get twenty minutes in on that. It’s not that I want to. I just don’t want to feel the way I did yesterday, shuffling around from one group to another hoping they’d include me, waiting, waiting, waiting, smiling, waiting, feeling discouraged and shuffling on.

And there will come a day I’ll be accused of being stand-offish. Cold. Hard to talk to, hard to approach. Closed off. Unwilling to communicate. (Geez, I could go on here…guess I’ve heard most of these before.)

Tell me, am I supposed to continuously offer myself up as a sacrificial lamb each and every day? And how the fuck do I change this?

Then there’s my eldest brother, my head won’t shut up (in English or in Dutch)…I’d fucking like to cry this all out, but I can’t. The tears won’t come. No time for them.

Gonna have to drop some balls. And I don’t like to do that.

I am perturbed.

I’m not gonna stop

*sigh* Where do I even start?

I got the contract copy from the theatre group. There it was, number 4 under the clauses: absolutely no videos, filming, audio recordings or any other recordings of any kind ever under threat of absolute torture. Iron clad, clear as a bell. It also stated it was the theatre group’s responsibility to add that notice on all public displays, playbills, and advertising – which they didn’t do. They also didn’t adhere to the two shows listed in the contract; they ponied up two more shows on there without admitting to them. That’s the group’s karma, frankly – and I added in that note to show that no, they’re not exactly on the up-and-up.

But the video clause was a problem. Because my bro has been putting in around 50 hours this week trying to compress audio tracks, clean things up, make things visible, and put titles on everything he spent three days filming and talking about getting out to the public (and not one of the theatre board members bothered to correct him at any time). And I – I got to tell him. Tell him that all his work was for nothing. Gee, thanks you sat up babysitting your computer for half the night while it tried to process these vids. Thanks you listened and re-listened and brought down all the coughs and sneezes and interruptions so you can hear the dialogue, which you compressed several times to get the best sound you could. But you can’t release them to the public.

Did not go down well in brother land. I had to hear loads of bad comments on the group, their abilities, and them as people. I had to hear about all the time and work and effort. I had to hear about how his attitude was now ‘Fuck them; I’m not sharing any of it. They’ve got the rough footage. They can look at that. They don’t get to see my work and take it for granted – not when they couldn’t even say hi to me.’ He rounded out his tirade with ultimatums – he’ll never put that time in again, never film them again, never come multiple nights again, never again put up with everything he felt he had to put up with. I think I heard ‘never’ at least a dozen times.

And I made the mistake of teasing the group with upcoming vids. Now I have to explain. Again.

I do not like making excuses for my brother. I do not like tempering his words and anger into a palatable message for the world. It puts a lot of stress on me.

On the other hand, I sure as FUCK don’t want him around the group anymore. Not with that attitude, and not with his life-long ability to hold a grudge.

I still want to use these people to get my work out. Yes! Maybe for the first time in my life I have a slight ‘hidden agenda’ – though, to be honest, I’ve made no secret of it. Because I’m not someone who can go into a situation like this, pretend to have some fun – pretend to enjoy myself – while really not liking any of it, but sticking it out because I want something from the people involved. I’ve tried. Tried to be underhanded and sly. I can’t do it. Just like I can’t sell something I don’t believe in. Tried.

I have to come from a place of honesty.

Took me over an hour after my bro left the house before I could fashion a short reply to the original message. I didn’t want to just say ‘okay’. I wanted to let them know about the work my brother’s done – all the time he spent for no reason because they didn’t make a public announcement. All that time lost. I did make mention of it, but it wasn’t really acknowledged in return. No ‘gee, sorry he spent so much time’ or anything. Just a small justification, and a rather cryptic repeat of ‘we can share it amongst ourselves’, which I take to mean he’d like to see the vids my brother put in over a week of his own time working on. Thing is, they have the raw footage. They don’t need to see what my brother’s done.

So, here I am. Facing my brother’s anger, which is righteous and just; he should have been informed. Facing this idiotic and unthinking response from the group, who seem to expect stuff to just be done for them. And me in the middle. Soothe my brother as well as I can, be empathetic and understanding because I’ve stood in his shoes. Explain to the group as well as I can, be gentle and kind because I don’t want to ruin the possibility of working with them in future.

And keep them well apart.

Which throws a real wrench into the thriller trilogy. Oh, I had grandiose plans to use everything at my disposal! The sounds were going to be many, and richly layered. Now…Now I’m looking at taking it all down to the minimum. Stripping it as far as I can, so my brother is involved as little as possible. Even thinking about just doing the sound myself. It would take longer, and be a big burden on me because I’m just not as fast or as competent as my brother at engineering, but I could do it.

Telling myself maybe it’s a good thing. I was creating something I was capable of doing…but not everyone could do it. This should create a script more people can do. I hope.

Still, I’m sad. Sad because now I must curtail all my communications with my bro. Not mention the group, or the thriller, or any of it, because it’ll set him off.

And I’m sad because my brother won’t be as involved as I wanted him to be.

I like working with him.

But I’m not gonna stop.

I really don’t want to lose this

I took time off. No homework, no thinking about Dutch, no pushing anything. Just games and telly and pj’s.

By noon yesterday I was climbing the walls from unanswered mania. And I told myself ‘do the work you need to do first’. The plan was to open Taman and start on those typos. That was the plan. But if my fingers were reluctant to open that file, my brain was even more reluctant to begin working on it. A wall of condemnation rolled over me – I had no decent concentration, I was a loser, I’ll never get it done, damn me anyway. I sat there, staring at my computer screen, unable to open the file and unable to get a start on it. Too much noise! Everything I’m working on was sloshing around in my brain, bits of this and bits of that. Did my best to winnow it down. Put this concern aside, make a note of that for later – nothing helped. In fact, the more I winnowed the more I realized I didn’t want to work on Taman. I had to get the third part of the thriller hacked out on paper before I could move forward with anything else.

Okay. Blank page. I typed in the title and looked at the blinking curser. Began laying out the characters I’d need. Began setting the scene. Realized I’d need to name the characters first; I’ll be damned if I write a script with “female scientist” and “military man” as listed characters – even a first draft. Meh. Naming my characters is usually the most difficult part. Told myself to just pick some names; who cares if they’re the final names I use? But I took some care, because once I begin thinking of a character by a name, well…that’s it. That’s their name. I’ve never successfully been able to change the name of a character once I bring them into life. I’ve scrapped characters and written new ones, but never renamed them. Finally found enough names scattered through the alphabet (have a bad habit of latching onto one letter and coming up with a dozen names – Allan, Abigail, Arthur, Andrew, Anne, etc.) – and began writing in earnest.

Scene one flew by. Scene two cemented in. Scene three blossomed under my hands. It adheres loosely to the outline notes I made earlier, but only loosely. I’ve not changed my notes since the read through. All those limitation and concerns of the group keep dancing in my head, changing things here and there. No, this can’t be a woman; there aren’t enough women in the group. Or we can’t do that; we don’t have the equipment/furniture/knowhow. Somehow it’s all coming together as I write. The limits, the cast, scene changes, props. Even the basic premise of the trilogy came out in screaming fashion: the delineation between before and after this force is clear and precise.

I’ve paced this story out often enough. It’s ready.

Want to get right back to it today, but I’ve other things I need to take care of. Get to the damned gym so my back doesn’t hurt again. Get down to the smoke shop if I want to smoke today; my bro will pick something up on the way home but I’d have to wait ’til five to partake and I’m not suddenly going to ask myself to change up my writing habits when I’m hot on the trail of a new script.

So: downtown this morning for smoke. Back, short break. Off to the gym for a no holds barred session. Return to quiet. Open file, begin writing.

No idea when or if I’ll get back to my homework, and frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. I’m more than pleased right now to be an idiot on Monday, answering incorrectly and unable to explain what certain words mean.

I’m writing; leave me alone.

Hiccup: wrote to the theatre group to say thanks again for the read thru and tell them my bro’s almost done with the videos from our performances. Heard back from one member that the vids can’t go public due to copyright contracts. I’ve asked to see the contract. Pretty sure the group doesn’t have a clue; we’re talking about a third party, not the group. My bro isn’t a member. And he’s listing the author as the copyright owner. Neither he nor the group will see one cent of revenue from it. And, please! If there’s one thing my bro and I have had experience with, it’s YouTube. Pretty sure we’re in the right, and he’s free to put them up. But I want to (1) check the wording to make sure and (2) find out how big of an asshole this particular group member, who brought up this hiccup, is.

Ugh. I do NOT want to cause a big shit storm. But if he’s going to “include” a third party in his contract terms, that third party has full right to see the terms they’re being forced to adhere to. Didn’t put it quite that way, naturally. But I’m not gonna be dicked by people who misinterpret legal clauses because English isn’t their first language, or they don’t have the experience or the understanding of the system. And…the person who brought this up…this is the ONE person in the group I’ve tagged as not on my side. He tries to be, or tries to seem like he is. But I get a definite negative off him. Fairly certain it has to do with his ego, and feeling threatened. He’s the one who repeatedly brings up finances and money issues, and he’s the one who flew to Paris on a whim to buy wine. I believe all of that is a “look at me; I’m doing so well!” thing. And it just seems to me that the more praise and respect I get, the cooler he is to me.

Gotta be careful. I really don’t want to lose this…

I’m good, thanks

Rehearsal went well yesterday. It was fun, actually stepping into a Dutch home for once. The Dutch are lovely people, but they’ll only invite you to their homes after a long acquaintanceship (much more a ‘I’ll meet you there’ people than a ‘let’s hang here’ people) and showing up unannounced is the height of bad manners. So this was my very first time entering a Dutch home  – one that I didn’t rent for the weekend, anyway.

The blueberry muffins went over as well as I’d hoped. Silence descended on the room the first time they were passed around; everyone was stuffing their faces and it took a few minutes for someone to actually speak. Many compliments on them. It was even suggested (half-jokingly) the group sell them at performances to raise money.

The rehearsals themselves…Well, as I’ve said from the start, I’ll make you laugh. I can make no such guarantee about anyone else in the play. That’s still true. One of the duets is pulling out for the first two performances. Seems they don’t feel they have their parts down yet, which I just find hard to imagine. You want to call yourselves actors – even on the amateur level – and you can’t memorize a 25 minute skit in 6 months? Um…okay. There also seems to be a scheduling problem, even tho rehearsals and performance dates were chosen months ago. *sigh* I admit to a deep disappointment over this. Never kidded myself this was anything BUT amateur. I just hoped it was a little bit less amateur than what it’s proving to be. Or maybe I thought my own skills would prompt the others to up their games. I find it, now, a pity that I’m in the first skit. For the overall show, I think my skit should go second. Somewhere in-between the kinda funny other bits. Putting us first…well. I’m a bit worried the rest of the show will feel flat in comparison. Guess that’s my ego, ’cause no one else seems to share that feeling.

I heard the laughter levels, tho. We’re all familiar with the set-ups. Most of us have watched other couples act their bits out. So no big surprises for any of us, really. Yet my skit repeatedly gets out loud can’t stop myself laughter, while the rest just gets chuckles. I know the chuckles will grow into real laughter in front of a fresh audience, so it won’t quite be that bad for the rest of the couples. Still…this has been a concern from the start for me, and it’s not going away.

Also worried I shot my mouth off a bit yesterday. We took a break and sat out in the garden for a bit, having coffee and a bite to eat. Questions on women’s roles came up. Questions that were voiced as the speaker looked directly at me. So I spoke up. One great moment – maybe the greatest so far in my little life – was finding two other women in the group replying and reacting in the exact same manner as myself. That was so fucking amazing! Usually I’m the only one. To have two other women speak up at the same time, saying the same thing I was saying… It was quite a rush. But I’m a bit afraid I monopolized the conversation at one point. I didn’t get angry or bark out my answers. Just the opposite; it was one of the calmest and most measured responses I’ve heard come out of my mouth. It was just wordy, and there were seven of us sitting around talking. I hope I didn’t come across as a know-it-all opinionated conversation monopolizer.

Well, I guess that’s what the blueberry muffins were for. To make up for my social faux pas.

The marketing for the play hasn’t gone well. Someone checked on-line ticket sales yesterday. Saturday: 14 seats sold. Sunday: 10 seats. Leiden performance: 6 seats. End of October: 2. That’s it. I asked if anyone had contacted the papers with a public announcement. I was given a vague answer that some agenda had been contacted, and they thought they covered everything. Obviously not, because it’s not in the papers. And they’ll print it for free if you get it to them. One other question got a derogatory ‘that’s marketing’ sneer, as if getting the word out on this level was beneath their dignity. Was finally given a few posters to put up these last days before the performance. No flyers. No wonder so few seats have been sold. No one bloody knows it’s happening.

*sigh*

New language class today. It’s in the afternoon; not my favorite time of day. I’d rather learn first thing, before my brain has time to cook in its own juices. But I look forward to getting out of the house, meeting my fellow classmates, and hopefully finding my teachers are up to snuff. I don’t want to spend another class correcting the instructors (and this time, if I find that’s the case, I’m demanding they either pay me or let me attend the lessons for free).

September is almost over. My finances won’t be much better next month, but at least I’ll have a few bucks to put here and there where needed. Will probably have to pay my language lessons off in installments, just like my contribution to the theatre group fees or my gym membership. I’m a bit embarrassed by that, ponying up a ten or twenty here or there, obviously strapped for cash while others whip out fifties like it’s the only currency they carry. But I know the trap of money, know how it works. Paying bills or buying things is the only time and place where having money is advantageous. Other than that, I think it works against you. Makes you buy more, put yourself into more debt, worry about more things you have to upkeep because you bought them and if you let them all go to hell now you’ve just thrown your money away… And you don’t get to keep it. It doesn’t save you from dying. It won’t buy you happiness.

…I’m good, thanks.

Trust

I murdered four people before breakfast yesterday. One I poisoned, and watched him twitch and foam at the mouth before his head fell onto his plate. One I suffocated, holding a cushion over her face until long after she stopped moving. Two I knifed, slipping the blade in like I was sheathing the damned thing, until they fell to their knees, blood dripping from their mouths.

And it was glorious, glorious! I wrote like one possessed, and for all I know, I am.

My day out at the comic shop seeing the guys was fine. Spent most of the time talking to E, which is becoming a habit – but E just volunteers some time in exchange for a few comics; the rest of the guys are actually trying to make a living out of the shop, so, you know – I get it. While I’m kind of sad not to talk with everyone, I’m always happy to see so many customers. Means the shop is doing well, and the guys have a chance. …Gotta admit, I kind of begrudged the time on the way there. The place is all the way on the opposite side of the city, two metros and a 15 minute walk away. Takes me an hour to get there, and that’s if I make a quick metro connection downtown. Couldn’t help but think that I should be writing during that time – I left the script just before I killed everyone off, and was hot to trot to get to some mayhem. Somehow that begrudged time off was a good thing (again). I’d been fuzzy on how, exactly, everyone was going to die, but I found when I boarded the metro for the long journey home, I’d worked all that out. I knew not only how to kill off the four characters I was writing, I also knew more about the final installment of The Terror Trilogy – that’s what I’m calling it. Catchy, no?

Got to the gym for a decent sweat. Didn’t push. In fact, I was off the cross trainer early because I felt something pull by my ankle. Figured it was from standing in the comic shop for three hours the day before, stationary, talking. Did my abdominals, the treadmill, and the free weights without any pain.

Came back and read thru Taman again. Hallelujah! My head is now so deep into my new script that I was able to read it with fresh eyes. Found a couple of lines to change, and one typo that escaped my previous perusal. Bothered by one line of dialogue. It fits, it’s tight, and it works – but I believe I’ve borrowed the line, or paraphrased from something else. Gotta modify that. …Think I may pass that script onto J for a read. I don’t know if I’m still just very invested in my characters, or if I’ve really written something this engrossing. All this time after writing it (I know; real time isn’t long but writing time IS) and I’m still tearing up at certain points. It’s poignant and heartfelt without being schmaltzy. Or so I hope.

Tonight is rehearsal for the upcoming play. Looked again at the schedule, and found I’m paired with the director’s girlfriend almost every damned time. Ugh. The one person I don’t want to see again. For one, their bit isn’t really that funny. For another, it’s her… So I’ve decided three things. One, I’m going stoned. Two, I’m bringing an emergency joint. Three, I’m leaving as soon as the rehearsal part is over and they begin talking about money and jobs and everything that triggers me.

My brother surprised me yesterday. He’s made no bones about the fact that he does not like the theatre, he doesn’t think the play sounds funny, and he just doesn’t give a damn. I’ve been making sharp remarks now and then about it. Oh, I understand…and I know he doesn’t like theater in the first place. But I wanted him there. It’s not like I’m guaranteed to bring in a bunch of friends! I’m bloody well asking shop keepers and practical strangers because I still haven’t broken thru that Dutch barrier to real friends. Anyway…I knew the sharp comments were petty and small when they slipped out, and chided myself every time something came out of my mouth. My brother…he said he’s coming. Coming to film me, so he can put it up on the internet. Part of that, I know, is just his wanting current stuff to promote us on our site. The other part is the part more important – the part that realized this is important to me, and whether or not he actually likes the damn performance, he’s going to support me.

Oh, and let’s face it all, shall we? There’s a third part to his compliance: a chance to play with his new phone. He’s been hooked on it non-stop since he got it (it really feels like a modern household; he even watches television glued to the damned thing).

…I’ll concentrate on that second part…

No more excuses, no more dithering. This week my language lessons start. Haven’t picked my books up at all over the break. Been trying to tune into conversations and what I hear on tv, though. Lately, anyway. Trying to get my ear back into hearing it. I’m intimidated by it again – though I shouldn’t be. I know it’s there, somewhere in a file marked ‘Dutch/Nederlands (which is an improvement, because it used to just be marked ‘Dutch’). Just gotta access it, and trust. Trust to my memory and my intellect. Trust that I’ll fuck up a few times because I’m rusty. Trust that it’ll be okay, I’ll pick it back up, and in reality my brain never stopped working on the language even though I haven’t opened a book in weeks.

Trust.

My life. My choice.

My last, few days of summer…Next week, it’s all rehearsals and language classes. Dust off the part of my brain that knows a little Dutch, and start paying attention to time again because I’ll be back on a schedule. But for the next three days, it’s still summer.

Received a form rejection on a play I sent out (my first script) six months ago. Standard language, with an added ‘come and see one of our plays and then submit’. Yeah. Like I’ll fly to the UK or the US or bloody anywhere to pony up funds for an amateur theatre group I’m trying to give my stuff to. Get real!

Got some other writing associated work done. Culled through my theatre listings, and sent out to another three places. Getting a bit cut-throat. My submission letters are as terse as my new writing style: basics only. Where once I included statements that tried to sell my work, I now simply present it and stand back, as if to say ‘here it is, and if you don’t realize how good it is, more the fool you’. It simplifies things. No need to spend time trying to come up with clever lines when you’re not gonna whore yourself out.

Been bothered by my encounter with the theatre group far more than I would have liked. Spent much of my time repeating my mantras, and reminding myself they’re all snobs, I knew they were snobs, and I shouldn’t be so surprised. Resolved to try and hold my tongue when the comments begin to fly. Resolved, in fact, to just walk away – I don’t need or want that in my life. While I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to act again, and part of me will always be grateful to the group because working with them inspired me to try writing scripts, I find myself very willing to walk away from these people. Upon a few more days away from the rehearsal night and all their comments, in fact, I’m left wondering if it was their goal to attempt to shame and control me. One thing that’s stuck with me was something said about how my make-up should be done for the production. We were all agreed it should look bad; this woman I’m playing does not know how to apply make-up well. But the suggestion made was that an eyebrow pencil be used to draw eyebrows above my own. Clownish. While I’m willing to go all out on a role, I must protest. Even an idiot could figure out that an eyebrow pencil should be used on eyebrows. …And, oddly, I was told to ‘tone it down’ a bit on the character – despite going over gangbusters, despite the frequent and voluble laughter I received. I believe now that this was the group’s attempt to restrict my talents so their own parts don’t seem so flat in comparison. Part of me feels ‘do it the way the director says, even if you disagree. It’s on his head’. Part of me thinks fuck that! …The only thing I can say for sure is, I’ll play to the audience. If I’m getting laughs pushing the voice and mannerisms, I’ll continue. Let the director bellow at me after people convulse with laughter and gasp for breath. If the need arises, I’ll remind the group it’s a comedy, so laughter is our business. They’ve no reason to restrict me.

Other than their petty jealousies, to which I believe I’m already falling victim. So where’s the down side?

Truth is, the group is heavy on my mind. Got an email asking for donations. Not a surprise; I knew they did that last year, too. And I was MORE than pleased to find one of their costs listed as ‘licensing fees to perform the play’. Didn’t really think they’d include that – tho I must not forget the possibility that that particular line was included to pacify me. Everyone knows where I stand on royalties. No one else is a real artist, so they all download illegally and rip off software and whatever else they can. And everyone knows I’m against that. It’s one of the few topics I can stop every single one of them on – permanently. They’ve no defense over the ‘it’s stealing’ statement. But I’ve been wondering how far I’ll go. We’ve got notification that next time we’ll be given flyers. Been told to ‘talk it up and sell the show’. I have no idea if the group even submits public announcements to the local papers, or puts out any kind of press release. …I could. I’ve written hundreds of press releases. And I know how to find resources. How to ask for the right department or person (at least, in English), which makes all the difference. But I find the question most in my mind is, do I want to put in that kind of work and allow the group to think it’s because of them? In other words, do I do what I do as I normally would – silently, and unasked? It hardly seems the time or place to be reticent. If I do it, I claim it.

Ach, but that gives them one more reason to begrudge me, and I do not like that feeling. I’m left unsure. Seems to me the pros and cons are about equal. Maybe a bit heavier on the con side.

Guess it’ll be left to what pops out first: my ego or my anger. Ego will make me go for it. Anger will keep me restricted.

But if I strip away any consideration for anyone else, if I concentrate wholly and completely on what I want and what I think is good for me, the answer is simple: go for it. Get the word out. I may be seen by someone who could help me in another role, or maybe even help my attempts at being a real playwright.

My life. My choice.

In my mind

Opened up my outline and began writing in earnest this week. I feel almost as if I’m writing a term paper. My outline is so detailed I can’t stray far from it, so it’s just check the next line, think, and write it out. My biggest stumbling block right now is my determined decision to use zero contractions when my characters talk. It’s a little dialogue trick to emphasize the people are not native English speakers. But I don’t want to sound stilted or weird, so I must think from time to time and turn my phrases so they sound both foreign and natural (using Tolstoy as a big example). In other words, I must think more like a Russian in my dialogue. It’s a mind set I can use, but it’s like anything else: once my head is there, it’s difficult to pull out. My inner dialogue has shifted to a bad Russian accent (much like Moose and Squirrel), and I find myself giggling over idioms and sayings running thru my brain.

But I’m discouraged, even as I write. The Russian allegations, the hysteria, the hacking and propaganda accusations – Gods, I’d have to be Hemingway to get this play produced in today’s clime.

I’m still putting my all into it.

Realized more than ever that my first act must be both introduction to and education about these women. Too many people I speak to have never even heard of this regiment. So the first act may be the furthest from the ‘truth’. I have to explain the situation, their bad equipment, the sexism and opposition, and why the regiment was formed in the first place all thru dialogue. In real life, this was all known. In the script, we have to allow the audience to discover this – educate them. It’s a fine line, to give all that info without being heavy handed. But I think I’m managing to do it, through personal perspectives and stories.

Case in point: the soviet agent. Every soviet regiment had an agent, called the Politruk, attached to it. The Politruk was the long arm of communism. Often times, they were harsh and unforgiving – and just as suspicious of their troops as they were of the enemy. But how many Americans know that? How many would even recognize the word ‘Politruk’? Not many. So I introduce the term, but make it clear thru the dialogue exactly what this person’s role was in the military. A similar thing happened with the woman responsible for forming this regiment. No one in the US (or very, very few) will know who she is, even tho she’s a well known aviation star in Russia. So I have to give some background on her, explain why she’s a big deal – even tho she’s not even in the play. Her story is related thru another character’s personal history – this is the woman who inspired the character, who showed her that women can be more than just mothers and wives.

The entire first act will just be introducing all the characters, their relationships to one another, and enough historical information so the audience will understand the story. Like I said, I gotta stick to that outline. Eleven characters to give fully rounded roles to…that takes a lot of words.

Today’s a pimple on the ass of summer. We’ve had several cool days, back in the mid 20s. Today’s temp is shooting up to 30 or higher, out of the blue. And we’re supposed to pop with severe thunderstorms later on this evening. I sure hope so. My tiny bedroom always stays three to five degrees warmer than anywhere else in the house.

Off, soon, to the gym. Get my arse moving. Hopefully after that, I’ll still have a few hours to tinker with the script and get some more work done.

Heard from my acting partner, who is working as an extra in an upcoming film. Passed my head shot on to him, and he promised to pass it on to the casting director. Also heard from the director’s girlfriend, who put together the promo poster. While she wants to use photos of all of us in various promotional shots, they’ve decided to keep the photo with me and my partner as THE picture. Think I’ll get a large print out for my wall. I’m pleased she responded; never sure how that relationship is going. Doing my best to be warm, friendly, and non-threatening.

And I gotta ask a Dutch native about something. A Dutch guy, specifically. Some of the young men who work at the gym have a habit of winking at me every time I’m in there. I get winks when I check in, and winks when I leave. Honestly, I don’t know if that’s a ‘hey, you’re an older woman but you’re a tough broad, so I’ll give you a wink’ or a ‘hey, you’re an older woman and I’d like to do you’ thing. Or maybe it’s just a thing shop owners do. The Dutch say hello to me as I walk far more than other nationalities. So maybe winking at regular customers is just a friendly gesture. A ‘we’re all in this together’ thing. I don’t know. Wish I wasn’t so dumb about these things.

Very little thought to anything that frightens me. Too wrapped up in everything else. That’s good; saving me from needless anxiety. I worry sometimes that I use my work to distract me from all that. That all I’m really doing is pushing it away.

But, hey. A little distance from my fear isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a mental holiday from myself. Leave those doubts behind. Allow myself to feel powerful for a little bit. Sexy, even.

So in answer to the ever-present summer question are you going away on holiday?, the answer is I already am on holiday. In my mind.

A Different Kind of Wallowing

My mind needed that. Needed to shut down, no words, no thinking. I lulled it with television programs and films. And I woke up with this crazy idea in my head about my role.

Headed over to Hesseplaats and hit the cheap shop. Aha! Forty-nine cents for a pair of outrageously ugly hair clips and a whopping €1.79 for some small, ugly, red-rimmed reading glasses.

Kept my mouth shut about it. Went last night to the photo shoot/rehearsal, excused myself before pinning my hair up with the uber ugly hair pins (on either side of my head, sticking out in the fashion of a 12 year old; completely inappropriate for a 50 year old) and donned the glasses. Grins all the way around when I walked in. But still! No voice, no voice. Not until the first line. Then I let gave it to them.

My eyes scrunched up, as if I had problems seeing. My upper lip raised over my teeth in the ultimate nerd facial expression. And the voice! Nasal. Whining. Somewhere between Urkel and Fran Drescher.

The room exploded in laughter so loud it almost threw me.

Then it was the piece de resistance: the long, uncomfortable silence between my character and my partner. I’d tried a lot of things to fill the time, but nothing that felt really solid. Nothing that felt really funny. Not so anymore! I needed to get my phone on the table for a bit later on, so I decided this silence was the time to take it out of my purse and set it down. And what could be more natural than to take a facial tissue out and blow your nose after such a move? I made the noise through my mouth, of course. I can’t actually blow like that. It was loud, and long, and completely obnoxious. Something no one could speak over.

I was told, later, two things. One, of the other actors was laughing so hard she couldn’t catch her breath. Two, my partner almost lost his composure at that point and had to struggle to keep a straight face.

Afterwards, the director said only three words to me: We’re keeping it.

This is to say nothing of the fact that my partner and I were the only pair to have our lines fully memorized, to be this deep into choreography, to have the kind of sympatico needed to pull off this comedy.

I went for it. Full on, no holds barred, no consideration given to intimidating or scaring any of my fellow actors.

And I stole the show.

Again.

Somehow, I think my picture is actually gonna make that promotional poster….

The rest of the duos did their thing. No one could muster up a laugh for anyone else equal to the smallest I received. …There were chuckle points. I made a point of paying close attention to everyone. But the people I saw perform last year are essentially doing the same thing this year. Same inflections. Same body movements. Same everything. It was very noticeable.

Yes, I raised the bar. Everyone now knows we run the risk of the first act going over like gang busters and the rest falling flat in comparison. I’m not exactly comfortable putting other people in that position. It can cause a lot of hard feelings. Especially since this is something I don’t even have to work at much. It’s as second nature to me as breathing.

And it threw me. The excitement. I came home at 10:30, smoked and talked my brother’s head off til midnight, tried to sleep til 1:30, got up and smoked some more, and finally drifted off sometime after two a.m. My head would not shut up. My mania went into overload. Every scenario grander than the last, winding me up.

This is what frightened my mom. This overexcitement post performance. I try to keep a lid on it, but that’s truly impossible. In comparison, I’m a champ at handling my negative thoughts. Much more success at breaking them. This…this was intoxicating on a level that rivaled the worst addiction. I recognize that.

It was like a mind orgasm. Everything felt good. I felt good – no, great about myself. My abilities. Confident, assured. Happy. So bloody happy! Nothing else compares.

Down to earth: the girlfriend of the director was there. Three sentences into her greeting, she slipped in ‘I’ve been hearing great things about you’. Uh-oh. Later on, during her scene, she felt the need to grab my water bottle and drink from it – thereby destroying it for my use later on. Two moves trying to show her dominance. She’s got nothing to fear on the romantic level. But as an actress…last night, baby, she got served.

Did maybe find someone to be a friend. Another female, one who was pulled in last minute and lives in a neighboring city. Don’t know her well. But she proved to be an American American, not a Dutch person who fools you into thinking they’re American because they do the accent so bloody well. She was very nice, open, friendly. We walked to the metro with the director and another actor. Ah, and they gave me props on the walk. Compliments, excited chatter over my next script.

My ego feels fat and full today. I don’t want my ego to become a monster. Don’t want this to become my norm. I must learn to sip a little bit from each encounter. Take a taste, but don’t gobble. I’m gobbling right now, and I know it. It comes from years of ego-starvation. But I intend to instill the same discipline I use with my exercise regime. Steady progress. Keep my head on straight.

…After today, that is. Today, I’ll still wallow. It’s just a different kind of wallowing.