One giant leap

Up late. I believe we have new neighbors. Neighbors who believe in allowing young children the run of the house all hours of the day and night. Hearing these kids run around and yell, play loud music and generally make a nuisance of themselves, well past 11 at night. I have to stay up later now, because going to bed earlier won’t result in sleep. It’s too noisy. I have to wait out the kids, and hope they settle down by midnight.

Heard from S yesterday. First a text, then a call. We’re meeting tomorrow in downtown Rotterdam for coffee and a long chat. I was correct in letting go my anxiety over S. Last we spoke, her grandmother had just died. Yesterday I learned that her grandfather died a few weeks later. She’s been in mourning, and had interviews and stress. It wasn’t me. Her life just got very busy. Looking forward to seeing her in person. We’ll probably talk and talk and talk and still not get to everything we want to talk about. That’s okay. It’s what friends do.

No plans to reveal my big secret to S at this time. Not unless our conversation naturally swings that way. I don’t need her to know; I don’t need anyone to know. I was the one who needed to know, who needed to accept it. Telling other people is just an explanation now. Why can’t you like yourself? My mother abused me. Why can’t you take a compliment? My mother abused me. It has become my first line of defense, the first thing I want to whip out when some aspect of my behavior or demeanor is cause for comment. Once again, it’s not a full explanation. A full explanation would be: I know I’m screwed up because my mother abused me when I was young. Can’t quite put that sentence together in my mouth. That’s okay. I’m still assessing how ‘screwed up’ I am, and until I form some conclusion that’s comfortable for me and fits, I won’t say anything to that effect. Res ipsa loquitur; the thing speaks for itself. You see it, I know it…it’s no secret.

It was always just one of those things that was totally evident and never discussed. That’s a very American attitude: ignore it, don’t talk about it, just gloss it all over and when someone finally pops you can all claim innocence and ignorance. Oh, we had no idea she was so depressed! No, he always seemed like the most normal guy! Bullshit. You all saw the signs; it’s just that American secretive attitude that keeps everything shoved under the rug. You don’t want to talk about it, because if you did you’d need to admit how pervasive it is, how cold the American life, how empty the American ‘dream’.

Squeeze a rat colony and watch how quickly they become cannibals. I watched this pervasive attitude that the world is dying and we’re running out of room, food, clean air, water, and energy increase throughout my lifetime. And it’s true; keep polluting the world and everything will run out. But that underlying information has fed fear into humanity’s subconscious, and helped give rise to this ‘all for me, I’m the greatest and deserve everything’ attitude. If we’re all going down and doomed anyway, grab everything you can because it doesn’t matter anyway. We are the rats, turning on each other.

…Yeah. Lots to unload today.

Hope to get a few things done. Go to the gym for a long walk. Start to mix some cookie dough because we’re almost out of lembas again. Water the plants. Take a shower. Read.

Still have not replied to my uncle’s last message. Purposefully keeping a spam email in my box so when I open my email my uncle’s message isn’t the first thing I see because it’s the last message. Do not want that visual nag every day.

Reminding myself to take things one at a time. First, the dental surgery and time to recover. Then, call to have my shoes finally taken care of so I’m comfortable when I walk. After that, see the psychiatrist. Then I’ll be concentrating on the Amsterdam performance of the play. When all that’s over, I can start on other things – seeing my doc about my poor digestion or going back to the dentist because the tooth that had the root canal still isn’t right. It’s too tall a stack of NEEDS to tackle at once, and I know that, but my head tends to pile everything up in one place and label it THINGS YOU MUST DO – which then just makes me feel anxious because it’s all so much.

…And I’m shrinking those pix in my head. Taking the screen down small, turning down the volume, reminding myself it’s not that big a deal. It’s my anxiety that blows things out of proportion, my focusing on one aspect and one aspect only that makes it seem so damed difficult.

One positive thing to report: I can breathe easier. This is a bit of an oxymoron, because it’s repeating ‘my mother abused me’ that helps me breathe – the very sentence that I first fought so hard against and had such anxiety over. But it fits. My whole body clicks into a more comfortable, relaxed position when I say it to myself. While I am verbally hanging onto that phrase, I think I’m beginning to let go of it in my body. I’m encouraged by that, and frankly, it feels real good to breathe easier and release some knots in my stomach. And my shoulders. I carry a lot there.

Top of my list today (and every day from here on out) is: take care of yourself. Whatever that looks like. Hiding, reading, watching films, writing, crying… Does not matter. It doesn’t matter what I do or what it looks like. It doesn’t matter if I’m ‘successful’ or not; the only thing to judge success on now is how at ease I am in my own skin.

One small step for Beeps, one giant leap for Beeps’ mind…

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The verbal truth

Having to rethink the Dutch people.

It’s easy to see the Netherlands as a fairy-land. The manicured landscapes, the oh-so-cute buildings stacked one atop the other, the canals. It’s easy to overlook, as a visitor, the graffiti or the garbage, the pushy tourists or short tempered natives. Especially if you partake at the coffeeshops. Then it all blends into one glorious haze. The language becomes the tram lines, the tram lines become your croissant and coffee breakfast, and your breakfast becomes the experience. It is something you cannot pick apart. You cannot explain the difference in food quality without delving into food regulations. And you can’t talk about food regulations without addressing the overriding social structure of humanism. Back home, you just shake your head and tell people ‘it’s different’.

And, it is different. Coming from the US, the Netherlands seems a doll-house world. The “wide open spaces” of the US (aka, suburban sprawl) are replaced by neat, tight neighborhoods clustered around parks, playgrounds, and needed services. I am still struck by the Dutch use of space: toilets in unexpected areas, steps up or down to add variety, whole floors of buildings hanging in the air as if ready to fall. They mix these tight, convoluted spaces with clean-lined furnishings, and the overall effect is one of spaciousness. As a first time visitor I was amazed at how much storage space was available in their rather tiny homes, just as I was amazed at how much orange taste they got in a glass of fresh squeezed juice.

I looked at this land and thought: Wow. Nice. I want to live there.

There is a polished edge to life here, a smoothed surface on everything. The food is better. The transport is better. The internet is better. The prices are better. The clubs are better. Everything is that bit up. Nothing can just ‘get by’; there’s too much competition. Before you know it, you’re used to the well presented top quality plates at restaurants, the cleanliness of the metro and public buildings, the efficiency and work ethic presented to you in every field.

But the Dutch are quick to say they’ve got problems. Things they’re not happy about. For some, that’s basic: government and taxes. Most, however, point vaguely to less concrete issues: inequalities, rising violence, kids left behind in the system. They seem to think first of the big picture, the stuff that affects everyone and their society as a whole. The small stuff – personal issues like how much disposable income they have every month – comes later.

For three years, I’ve sampled life here on the edges. Kind of getting involved, but the language held me back. You can do that. You can totally get by with zero Dutch. It won’t always be easy, mind you, but you can do it. But if you really want to climb into Dutch living, you’ve got to embrace the language.

Now that I’m there, it seems I can’t be held back. I want more Dutch films. And not just for the language learning. What I’m seeing, what I’m hearing, is teaching me far more than my visits and spaced-out walking around for three years. Art reflects life and vice versa.

Last night’s film… My brother was unashamedly in tears. It was a film about bullying, and so inclusive in its story and so well executed that – even tho it was geared towards the late teen crowd – I can’t imagine it NOT resonating with everyone. I was…stunned. On a couple of levels. First, it portrayed an environment I thought beyond the Dutch. An environment in which adults ignored the evidence, people turned away and said nothing. In other words, what I would consider a typical American mindset: it’s none of my business. Or, worse (since the object of bullying was an overweight kid), he/she deserves it. Having lived in this doll house cocoon, imagining that all of that was far, far away from me…well, it was a slap in my face. A wake up call. A realization that yes, it can even happen here. And no, I’m not so dense as to think that there aren’t nasty people everywhere on this planet. That much seems obvious. What I’m shocked at is this totality: the victim, the bullies, the other kids, the parents, the teachers. The small, unspoken collusions needed to set up this story in the first place. It speaks of darker problems. Larger issues, harder to tackle issues. Why? Because the bullies were shown in their own homes. A few scenes showed a life most people would want to escape. They did not wear black capes; they were not irredeemable. Just the opposite. Hateful actions, from characters you ended up feeling sorry for. And that brings me to my second level of astonishment: the unblinking stare these artists used in bringing out this story. No holds barred. No lines crossed, either: it was neither over the top nor schmaltzy. But they were not afraid to show us the hateful things. The terrible things. It was as if the filmmakers said ‘This is what’s happening. No frills, no added oomph. This is it. Look at it.’ And it was all the more powerful for that understated, quiet demand.

This is what I admire. That forthright attitude. The outspokenness. The bluntness.

Yet I must grow accustomed to truth-speaking. I do it in my writing, but verbally, I lag behind. I stutter, I avoid topics, I outright lie if I feel under too much pressure. No! Really! It’s fine. I’m fine! All the while I’m dying inside.

There is a toughness to the Dutch I didn’t anticipate. It is not a hard slap in your face toughness, but a softer kind. A ‘I’ll tell you the truth because we’re both worth it’ attitude. More than the grammar or the words themselves, it is that part of Dutch that intimidates me. It is that part of life that intimidates me.

The verbal truth.

Make All Women the Norm

International Women’s Day. So far I’ve seen various articles on it. Most are men talking about how the day should be celebrated, or ‘fun’ little articles on how roses are being handed out to random women in a particular city. Would it kill the media to focus on strong female role models? Or even whisper about our pay inequality?

Apparently so.

And all the women shown to me today are thin, young, wearing fashionable clothes and make-up. Not a one over 40 (much less 50), not a one brave enough to show their true, unpainted face.

It brings to mind the very basic arguments of feminism: what and how can we be and act? Why do we even need to ask these questions? Why is every action or non-action we take scrutinized so fully?

Make-up. When I was young, I was all for it. I felt more attractive and therefore more confident. As I sit here sans make-up and with a lot more experience, I understand that the reaction I had when younger was denial: I denied the fact that I felt invisible and therefore used brightly colored paints to decorate my face in attempt to stand out and be noticed. That’s what truly lay behind my earlier viewpoint, tho I was unable to acknowledge it at the time.

And I believe that mindset lay behind much of the back and forth bullshit I’m hearing these days. It’s reinforced by media stereotypes, cultural influences, paradigms and idioms. It’s cemented in by jokes and situational comedies, by cover spreads and centerfolds, by our own desire to be seen, heard, and valued.

See me: we paint our eyes, outlining them in dark colors, adding shading and glints, we glue on false eyelashes, we stick color bits of plastic on our eyeballs to make our eye color change, we draw in dramatic eyebrows. See me; I’m here.

Hear me: we paint our lips, outlining them, plumping them, adding gloss and glitter all in an effort to draw attention to what we say.

Value me: we paint our cheeks with blush; too much and we are whores, too little and we are sallow-faced and unhealthy, but just right and we can be mothers, leaders, world changers.

Using make-up isn’t wrong. It doesn’t make you wrong, or less. But with the obvious (tho little discussed) health issues associated with make-up use, it does beg the question why women feel the need to continue using it.

We question why smokers continue to use a product dangerous to their health.

We tell drug users they’re killing themselves, and they need to get clean.

We body shame the fat, tell them they’re costing our health care systems millions just because they’re lazy.

But we don’t address the ‘window dressing’ women feel compelled to do. If we do, we are shunned. Extremists. Un-womanly women.

And everyone seems to think the large issues need tackling first. That’s silly. It’s the small stuff that should be worked on first: build from the ground up. Show real women: women over 40, women over 50, fat women, skinny women, ugly women, beautiful women. Women with make up on and women with make up off. Make all women the norm. We need not be one thing or another, this or that. That truly is extremism.

 

 

 

I want it to stop

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What? What?

Been listening to the same tune since Sunday – a high pitched ringing in my left ear. And that’s all I can hear from that side. Another mutation of this virus, or another virus on top of the one I had that’s now fucked up my ears. Oh, yes. Did I mention the dizziness? Stumbling around drunk even tho I haven’t touched a drop? Yeah. It’s loads of fun.

Not.

Watching the world die is not an occupation that gives me comfort. So I’m antsy. Can’t watch regular tv. Too upsetting. Everything pisses me off. The sheer stupidity of most shows on tv these days is mind boggling. You find this crap funny? Appealing to the lowest common denominator – and DAMN, it’s got LOW – still works. Frankly, the popularity of such low brow entertainment tells me how foolish most people are. It tells me they can’t read beyond a third grade level. They can’t do maths, they don’t understand anything with complexity. But make a joke about a race of people or women, and THAT they find funny.

You’re really showing your ignorance.

Some days I wonder why I don’t pick up a weapon and kill everyone I see. Some days I see no down side to that plan.

My chauvinistic, racist, bigoted brother who still resides stateside must have been drinking this weekend, because a picture of my great-nephew showed up in my email with a short message: This is your nephew, he is 10 and attends third grade. All I can say is, so? Am I supposed to feel something for this stranger? Because I don’t. I don’t love him, I can’t even like him considering he’s the son of his father whom I find a right little shit. I don’t hate my great-nephew, but he’s got to prove he’s more than the sum of the programming he’s being put through. To me, he looks a proper little Nazi. Blond hair and blue eyes, holding a gun. Bravo. The kid is 10 years old and you’ve already got him brainwashed into thinking guns are cool, get one, hold onto one, shoot it off and “protect” yourself (and anything else you think it’s worth killing someone over) because it’s so right. Yeah, it’s right alright. As far right as Hitler. Well done. Another linkage to a family I’m ashamed of and disgusted by. I deleted the photo and the message.

I predict another message from my ‘non-interfering’ uncle will show up in my email within a month. You know – the one who never discusses me with my siblings.

…Finding it difficult to keep pushing through. Very difficult to stay calm. The future has never been more uncertain, both on a personal level and a world level. Telling myself panic won’t help anything. Not easy. I have to fool myself. Distract myself with shiny things. Basically, I have to induce a state of quasi-denial: it’s not happening; look at the birds!

I’m not real good at denial. That’s why I do drugs.

Oh. Shouldn’t have said that, right? That makes me “wrong”. Even here, with NL’s rather liberal stance on soft drugs, I’m “wrong”. Say that to a doctor here and they’ll back peddle on you: you’re not wrong, the behavior is. Then in the next breath they’ll tell you why you need to stop that behavior. Take a walk if you feel it’s too much, they say – or they’ll come up with some other trite piece of advice I can smash down in 3 seconds or less.

What’s “normal” is based on an average. The Bell Curve. If your behavior falls under the big curve, you’re fine, you’re normal. Go out on one of those side lines, though, and you’re wrong, depressed, psychotic, crazy – you pick the fucking term. But that’s such bullshit! Let’s see…under that line of thinking, anyone with an IQ over 110 is probably abnormal. A freak. Wrong in the head. Anyone too tall, too short, too fat, too old, too young – you’re abnormal. Freakish. Wrong. It’s always implied. Wrong. And those in the wrong are always pushed – through laws or social pressure – to conform. Two hundred years ago and they’d have just killed us rather than deal with us freaks; maybe in the end, that’s better.

I don’t understand how people can live their lives and not understand some things. Like, right this minute there are people dying, being murdered, raped, children getting fucked up the ass by some old creep. Am I supposed to feel joy in this life knowing others are suffering? Seriously? Doesn’t that show a complete lack of social empathy? And I’m “wrong” for feeling this way! Wrong for bringing it up, wrong for ‘being a downer’, wrong, wrong, wrong.

Well, fuck you.

I say it’s you who are insane. You’re so stuck in denial you can’t even acknowledge it.

Life. is. shit.

And yes, I know it’s been weeks of sitting around trying to nurse myself back to better health. No exercise, nothing other than my own thoughts and sleep. I know I’m at the lowest ebb I can be, outside of a real depressive episode (and no, this is NOT depressed for me, as I keep saying to doctors ad infinitum). Doesn’t make my words any less true. When I feel better, or I’m on a manic high – those are the rare times I really CAN get into denial and escape. That’s all. I embrace it then. Focus on what’s right in front of me. But it’s not like I forget about all the crap in the world. I never do. I never stop thinking about it, even at my most manic. The deeper knowledge of shit in the world, that’s always there. Can’t escape it. Can’t deny it. Can’t drug it away.

I don’t get people who can.

Will this ringing never stop? Maybe it’s the echo of my own words, churning around in the inner recesses of my ears. Things I’ve said, things I will say, all rebounding back to me into one high, incessant hiss.

I want it to stop.

Responsibility for the Now

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After an hour of tossing and turning in my bed, trying to recapture that elusive thing we call sleep, I got up. There’s only so much hoping you can do; for me, that’s about a dozen turns on either side: left, right, no left again ’cause it’ll be so much more comfortable, damn it! try the right again – and so on.

For some strange reason, I can’t get George Michael singing ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ out of my head.

And I’m not even a big George Michael fan.

Sticking in my craw: a little tidbit I floated past my bro yesterday afternoon, as we SIM’d and gamed our way through the late afternoon with South Park playing on the telly. South Park – which is truly our repository of all social commentary – gave me the clue (again). I realized that Americans tend to think of their country like a sports club – go team, no matter what. That’s not right. A country is supposed to be a group of people who work together for their common good. I mean, if everyone’s just out for themselves, it’s hardly a country, right? Just a bunch of yahoos grabbing everything they can. Sounds like the Old West, which, btw, was a territory. Not a country, not a nation, not even states yet – just a territory. No. A country works together. A country realizes the benefits to such things as proper infrastructure (roads, trains). A country realizes they need to keep their people healthy in order to continue producing. It’s a simple matter of economics.

But Americans….They’re very much the half naked painted fat guys you see at the Superbowl, drunk out of their minds on a cold winter’s day, screaming for their team to kill, kill, destroy the other side. They have a sense of victory when someone from the other side gets taken off the field with an injury. They are small, and petty, and demand daily confirmation that they’re the biggest and baddest bully on the block.

The only thing Americans come together for is mayhem.

Other than that, they’ll let you rot. No money, no help. You can die right outside the hospital grounds and no one will lift a finger. I tell that to people here, and they don’t quite believe me, just as they don’t quite believe me when I tell them that American food products that carry the word ‘cellulose’ contain wood pulp.

When I speak of Americans, I also speak of my family. The two are intertwined; it was my family who raised me on the motto ‘If you don’t like it here, get the fuck out’. This despite a firm and rather desperate need to keep all their children from entering the armed service – the most patriotic thing you can do, according to their lip service. But not for them. No! My eldest brother even made sure to pave the way for his son way back in ’00. Contacted me and planned an escape route up to Canada, where I was living, in order for his son to escape a possible reinstatement of American conscription. It didn’t happen at the time, but my point stands: typical two faced behavior from my family. Say one thing, do another.

Sometimes I wonder how I learned to function at all with those people around me.

I know just a few days ago I was saying how understanding and compassionate I felt towards my family. I know this is a flip. I don’t know why, particularly. The news has been bad for quite some time now. Nothing jumps out at me, nothing is bugging me, other than George Michael (still singing) and my irritation towards Americans and, thus, my kin. It simply IS today.

Formatting on the script is complete. I’ve got a PDF waiting to be printed at the library. I hemmed and hoed, re-read the script again, made a few on the fly subtle changes, and walked away completely convinced I don’t have a cohesive story at all, I haven’t made my point, and it’s not very good. I’ll call it the final stage of editing madness, and it’s a thoroughly unpleasant malady to suffer from. The only real remedy is rest, the one thing I find myself incapable of doing. I am a manic sloth; antsy to sit and waste my time with games, ready to lie down in bed yet unable to stay there.

Wake me up, before you go, go….

I wanna go. Why is the world asleep? Because it’s dark? Hardly a reason! Wake up! Wake up! Open your shops, start the coffee, make some noise. If I ever buy fireworks for New Years, I’ll get up early one morning like this and set a few off. Just because I can.

Gods. And it’s Sunday! A day when people are even slower than usual.

Naturally, this will throw my whole day and perhaps my entire week off. My sleep patterns will be off, one way or another. My routine is set for a shake-up, too, with an old friend breezing thru the city for two days on a whirlwind tour.

Trigger, trigger, trigger, down the line.

Ah. Old friend. Memories. Been looking at those with different eyes lately. Eyes through which I see myself differently. It’s not a pleasant picture. The beginning of accepting that I chose this. One form or another, I chose it. I chose each little step along the way, all adding up to the big NOW. And I think about the blaming I’ve done. Sure, it would have been nice to grow up in a supportive family. A family that doesn’t play narcissistic games. But how long can I point my finger at my family, my mother, my sister, my brother, and say ‘this is because of you, because of how you treated me’? Yes, what happened back then influenced the decisions I made, and in that respect, they are responsible for a lot of shit. I’m afraid I may never be free of that influence. That scares me more than anything.

But the now…that’s mine. I can destroy it, or I can play with it. I can make friends, or create enemies. I can look back, or plan for the future.

The responsibility for the now weighs heavily on me today.

Everyone

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My annoyance level was maxed out this morning in the swimming pool. Most days I manage to let all the not-drowners just do their thing. Sure, I roll my eyes when they get in my way. But then I take a breath and shoot past them, my head in the water. Today was a little different. Today I had a Klingon. A purposeful Klingon. A Klingon whose whole thing was to get in my lane – repeatedly, even after moving over 5 feet to another lane. I finally blew up and made my opinion clear to anyone within ear shot. Goddamn idiots. What the fuck? I get ONE shot a week at the pool. One. Is it so fucking surprising that I feel the need to swim in the swimming pool? And is it so fucking surprising I get annoyed when every time I turn around there’s someone in my way? It’s a big pool. You’ve got to WORK to continually be in my way. That’s more than just being a moron. That’s being an asshole.

And no, I could give a shit that this particular asshole was a pregnant woman. Pregnancy doesn’t give you the right to be a cunt or a dick or an ass or whatever the hell else you want to call fuckers who do things just to annoy other people.

Been thinking about my upcoming birthday. I have the luxury of claiming two days for my birthday now; I was born in the states at 6:55 p.m. and with the time change it’s the next morning here when it’s my exact birth time at my birth place. Hey – any excuse to make growing another year older a celebration. I’m far from thrilled with the lines and wrinkles on my face or my flabby upper arms (yeesh! flabby no matter WHAT I do). Wishing now I still had an older woman in my life. My mother, or an aunt. Someone. Someone who’s been through this. Someone who could help me a bit. ‘Cause I don’t know how to do it. Don’t know how to grow old. Especially if you tag on ‘with dignity’. Grow old with dignity. What the hell does that mean, anyway? I have no idea, other than it comes with assumption to ‘act one’s age’ – another concept I have a hard time grasping. I’ve always just been. When I was young, I was told I had an old soul. Now that I’m old(er), I’m told I have a young soul. Seems to me to be another smoking type of situation. Tell a new doctor I smoke three times a day and I hear how awful smoking is and I need to stop now. Tell a older doctor who’s familiar with me that I smoke three times a day and I hear how great I’m doing at cutting down.

Judgement. That’s all it is. Judgement. And it comes from outside.

Oh, I’ve heard all that crap about you’re only as old as you feel. Well, with my RA some days I feel 150. Does that make me that old? Of course not. And does feeling like a teenager make me a teenager? No; that much is obvious from the side long looks I feel on me when I let myself get a bit ditzy.

No, my confusion over my age is coming from outside. It stems from the assumption that I’m physically capable of doing more than I can coupled with the derogatory glances I get if I goof off. People have me pegged as this or that. Young or old, depending on their judgement. Not mine! Theirs.

Case in point: Like it or not (and I don’t), I’ve been mulling over all that’s been said about my script attempt. One statement has come up for me over and over and got me wondering. It’s not what I expected from you. After such a brief time with these people, to have such strong assumptions about who or what I am that someone would actually say THAT to me just blows me away. Really? In those dozen or so hours that I’ve spent in your company, you think you’ve got me pegged? You think you’ve seen every side of me? You think I’ve even begun to show you all of myself? Such a laugh! I carefully selected everything I presented to the group. What I wore. How I acted with them. What I said. I would not say I was relaxed. I was not tense, either. Alert. That’s the word. I was alert to many things. Social interaction. Theatrical egos. Competitiveness. The dynamics of the group. The dynamics of how the group broke into smaller groups. I felt I handled myself well: I interacted with them without becoming emotionally invested. When I heard a nasty comment, I didn’t react with anger. I acknowledged the truth in the words AND the, shall we say, language the comment was couched in with a smile and no overt judgement. Just friendly openness. Yes, openness. Acceptance. Acceptance of the limitations I saw and the competitiveness I witnessed. Acceptance, even, of the egos. Mr. Bitch does tend to be catty. Yet he’s a decent actor, and I’m very ready to admit to that. The one director needs to be firmer with his directing, but I understand he also wrote the piece he directed – and that was probably his mistake. Too emotionally invested. One actor was terribly wooden. Yet I’ve even imagined a character just for him, drawing on the strength of his woodenness rather than asking him to do something beyond his capabilities. I don’t want to turn any of these people away. In my last post, I claimed to be a fluid piece of artwork creating and remaking myself simultaneously. That’s what we all are. Even the pain in my ass pregnant woman this morning in the pool falls into that category.

And I think that maybe, just maybe, I’m beginning to see that. In everyone.

 

Rehumanize Yourself

Burkini bans. Geert Wilders. Islamophobia. The world is battering at me with reasons to be anxious.

Saw a bit on The Daily Show at a Trump rally. They had an on the street interview with a woman who didn’t think women could ever be President because of our hormones. It’s hard to see a fellow female be so damned closed minded; never mind when MEN do it. I consider it akin to men voting for a candidate that favors cutting off all men’s balls. Maybe there’s one or two freaks out there who say yeah, let’s cut all our balls off, but most men wouldn’t think it was a good idea.

Got body checked this morning by an old guy riding a bike. Many things crossed my mind. I felt affronted that I was reduced to nothing but meat: he looked like he was trying to figure out if I looked good enough to gobble up. My negativity spoke up and said oh, god, do I look THAT bad?!? while another rebel part of me pointed out that some people would consider it a compliment to be able to pull at all at my age.

If the gurus and saints are right, nothing happens that isn’t perfect in our lives: perfectly timed, perfectly executed – everything happens for a reason, even when we can’t perceive that reason. This, too, crossed my mind as the moment the body-checking man passed me my iPod (on random shuffle) began to play ‘Rehumanize Yourself’ by The Police. And then it hit me: this man had passed me by and did not see my smile, my nod in greeting to him because his eyes were too busy devouring and degrading my body head to toe.

Rehumanize yourself, indeed!

Too often I hear ‘they’re nothing like us’ these days. Nothing could be further from the truth.

People want to be happy. Society faces a problem because some people get off on abusing others – and that is a serious issue. But saying someone from another culture is too different from yourself is just sticking you head in the sand. Everyone wakes up in the morning. Everyone has to pee and shit. Everyone worries about the future, and every single one of us is afraid of something. These are huge similarities, that supersede any differences in skin color or religious views. But humanity is being whipped to a frenzy right now. Politicians are hammering home narrow and dangerous ideas. An entire generation that ‘slipped through the cracks’ of the capitalistic bubble are now being heard. You didn’t invest in your schools when you had the chance, and THIS is your outcome: poorly educated people with little to no chance of advancement on the money train, so they end up lashing out at people who don’t deserve it.

It’s happening again. That’s all that’s running through my mind, and I wonder if I’m here to stand witness to the next great war.

This behavior begins at the smallest level. It begins with the man who body-checked me this morning. His dispassionate assessment of me as sex object rather than me as a person. It is a small disregard of my humanity. But as we allow these small disregards to stand without censure, they begin to add up to larger and larger societal problems. Burkini bans. The right to choose. Equal pay for equal work. Health care for all.

I do not want to prosecute the man who body checked me. That does not and will not help the situation. I want him to understand on his own why what he did was wrong. But the only way to do that is through education. And you gotta catch people young, when their minds are still open and flexible. Very few of us have mobile enough grey matter to make leaps of understand once we’re adults.

Back to current espoused policy. Geert Wilders came out with his platform for next year’s elections. In addition to several anti-Muslim measures, it includes more of the same: cuts to the elderly, cuts to the disabled, cuts to schools and art, cuts to public broadcasting. It is a frightening prospect. How his party managed to compact so much hate into such banal political wording I’ll never know.

This is a loop. A circle of compliance and fear. I see it happening around me. And yes, it scares the hell out me. I think what frightens me most is that so many people can’t see the bigger picture. Everyone says yes, yes, it’s horrible, they’re terrible to say/do these things and I, for one, don’t support them. Yet it’s happening. If the rest of us ignore right now the rise of these right wing extremists, WE will be the ones to answer for the next batch of atrocities.

Don’t get me wrong: I understand the drive of these people. The anger they feel. What I don’t get is why everyone turns this anger on each other rather than those that rule us. Because make no mistake about it: you are ruled, whether you live in a country with a king or president or prime minister. We have been taught to worship strips of paper. We have been told that “they” want everything we have and they’ll do anything to get it. I don’t give a damn if you insert Syria or Muslims or Putin into the “they” – we all hear it. And it’s ALL a lie. It’s a slight of hand, a flash of something shiny to distract you. Oldest trick in the book and it’s still used because it still works.

You’re being played.

If you’re hearing you don’t have a choice, you’re being lied to. If you’re hearing pat answers placing the blame on someone else, you’re being lied to. No one problem is simple to fix because it wasn’t simple to create.

Everything is connected.

Time to wake up.

So history tells us

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Maybe I shouldn’t say anything anymore. Someone overhears me, muttering in a corner, and somehow they think it’s free and open season on conversation. So they respond with a comment, which then brings someone else in to make a different point. Ye gods. Next thing I know there’s a fight going on caused by my ONE muttering. Had I said nothing, never been overheard, maybe everyone would have gone on their merry way and no one would walk away with a bruised ego. As it is, I have an old Uni friend and my uncle arguing on FB at the moment. Of course it’s political. Seems everything is political right now, or turned into a political argument. And both of them are pointing fingers at the other one, saying it’s your fault things are so bad in the US.

MY comment – the original muttering – was that ALL American citizens better re-think what the fuck they’re doing. Not Republicans. Not Democrats. Every. single. citizen. But no. In the US, it’s got to be them against us. Always has been, and probably always will be. Want to know WHY the US has a two party system? Because it falls into the easy ‘them or us’ category. It makes it easy to pit people against each other, draw lines in the sand, start fights.

Divide and conquer. That’s what the fat cats have done, and boy! Do they have YOU over a barrel.

By keeping one side chanting ‘USA, USA’ and the other side shouting ‘Black Lives Matter’, no real issues get addressed. Health care, once a hot topic in the states, isn’t discussed right now though I’ve heard umpteen complaints over the problems in the system Obama founded. And it should be.

The United States has the most expensive health care in the world. And it’s not very good. The doctors aren’t good. The board that watches docs and kicks out the quacks isn’t good. The drugs you get – IF you can get any medication, which seems to be damned difficult unless you’re asking to get hooked on some opioid – are horrendously expensive.

They keep telling you it’s great. I’m telling you it isn’t.

I would have thought when Michael Moore took a bunch of people down to CUBA to get their health care problems addressed in Sicko that more people would have sat up and said ‘Cuba? Cuba has better health care than the states?’ but it seems they didn’t.

I remember the time I had to go to hospital after getting mugged and dragged down the street. Not my choice; I got banged on my head and my sister insisted I get checked for a concussion. I spent over an hour on a gurney, waiting to be seen. When I finally WAS checked, it took a whole 20 minutes – 15 of which was given over to a class of med students who came in to look at my uneven pupils, a semi-rare condition I was born with. A week later I was slapped with a $2000 bill.

My physiotherapist apologizes to me for charging €31 for a half hour session.

Even in Ireland, where health care was FAR more expensive than here in the Netherlands, it was far LESS than in the states. A visit to my GP cost €21 each time in Ireland. Last time I saw a GP in the states it was $80 – and that was 25 years ago.

And health insurance? I think my policy is costing around €130 a month. When I was in my 20s and HEALTHY Blue Cross Blue Shield cost $300 a month.

Let’s just think for a minute. If everyone in your country is sick, disabled, in pain, and unwell, how high do you think your production will be? How about the quality of your products? People make mistakes when they’re not feeling well. Now think about a healthy nation. A nation where everyone gets taken care of. How much do you think they’ll be capable of? And how high will the quality get?

This is basic stuff. One plus one equals two. Why can’t you see that?

Let me make myself clear: this is NOT the fault of the doctors, nurses, and health care professionals in the field. It’s the fault of the ENTIRE SYSTEM. A system that asks young people to burden themselves with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt from school. A system that sees the health of its citizens as an opportunity to make a buck. If you are poor, uneducated, or disabled, you’re not really ‘part of the system’. You’re just a burden. The scapegoat of society, the blame for all ills of the nation. Never mind what your POTENTIAL is; right now you’re a drain on resources. That makes you bad. All of you, from your head to your toe, from your childhood to your death – BAD. You stink from it, and it’s a stink that will never wash off.

This football team maniacal feeling of ‘kill the other guy’ isn’t new. Nor is the ‘if you don’t like it, get the hell out’ line. In fact, I heard the second line enough that I did just that – got the hell out. I’m not alone. The US has had a record number of people giving up their citizenship for new nationalities.

If you seek out comparisons in history, you might find the disturbing fact that all totalitarian systems had an exodus of intellectuals prior to the final crack down.

History repeats itself.

We are growing more divisive at a time when we need to come together. This phenomenon isn’t happening only in the states; here in NL we have Geert Wilders, who’s been likened as the Trump of the Netherlands. In Britain, it’s Nigel Farage. France, Marine Le Pen. Organizations like the Sons of Odin – basically vigilante groups – are gaining ground.

Things are spiraling out of control. Everyone’s trying to say it’s not so bad, they’ve got a way to fix it. Everyone is lying. It IS that bad, and you can’t fix it. Not fast, and not easy. There is no action you can take that won’t have negative consequences somewhere. Politicians like to espouse simple lines and simple solutions. They act as if we live in an open ended universe, where all assets are unlimited as long as you keep working or digging for them.

The truth is, there’s a limit. This isn’t an open ended system. It’s closed. We use it up, that’s it. There is no more. No way to fix it. If you take more than you need, someone goes without. THAT’S the true law of the planet.

And like children, some people just can’t keep their hands out of the cookie jar. They must take, they must comment, they must incite violence.

This world is not theirs alone. Injustice always topples. Always. And hate will always instigate hate.

So history tells us…

IRL

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WARNING: THE FOLLOWING IS A REAL RAGE DUMP.

No matter how bad it gets, remember someone always has it worse than you.

My ASS. If this were true, it would mean somewhere on the planet there is one person who has it absolutely the worst in the world. Could you point him or her out to me, please? Because I think we ALL need to know what’s “the worst”. To put our lives in perspective. Not some inspirational story about some paraplegic who’s managed to win a dance contest because they control their wheelchair with their teeth, not some dying kid who gives away everything to help other people. Show me the worst. Show me that drudge that’s got it so fucking bad I should shut the fuck up about my own problems.

I reject every goddamned meme out there that subtly and not so subtly tells me I’m not good enough, not worth listening to, not worth caring about.

And fuck you for even SAYING it.

Fuck you for even THINKING it.

Just off a dust off with my bro. Subject? Rape. I simply wanted to point out that now that male rape is being talked about, rape in general has become a whole other thing. It’s so horrible. Rapists need to be punished. Um…women have been saying that for fucking THOUSANDS OF YEARS and we’re still blamed for being raped more than half the fucking time. But oh no! Now MEN are fucking each other and oh, poor little men who get raped it’s such a goddamn tragedy and we should all line up and fucking cry for them.

For once, I was the one staying calm. I was only pointing out the change that’s come with the acknowledgement of male rape. He’s the one that went ballistic, cutting me off mid sentence.

Yeah, I’ve wondered before if my bro’s been raped.

And while rape is rape and a horrible crime no matter WHO it’s committed against, you’ve got to admit that the entire subject is being taken in a different light now. I’m not saying men weren’t raped thru the ages; I’m sure they were. As I’ve pointed out before, some men can’t contain their penises, and quite often rape is more about power than sex anyway. But please! Why is the topic NOW getting so much attention just because men are admitting to being raped? Because they’re men? It’s the only fucking difference I see.

Yet I’m to blame for bringing this all back to a men vs women argument.

But isn’t that what it IS?

Same with body shaming. I’m not happy to know that young men are being body shamed and encouraged to take supplements, steroids, and generally act counter to their good health. But why such a ruckus about body shaming now? Again, this is an argument women have been fighting for generations, and those that have had the courage to stand up against it have been called dykes, bitches, and worst of all (gasp!) feminists. Yet one fat man stands up and says oh boo-hoo, I’m being body shamed and the fucking media and social thought gets turned on their heads. Oh, this is so awful. Oh, we MUST do something about it right now.

Again, show me how this ISN’T a men vs women issue and I’ll back the fuck off.

The more I get this shit in my face, the more radical my thought processes become. I’m more than half way to voting every man’s dick should cut off right now.

*sigh* Let’s just leave that old wound alone…

Pleased enough to say my appointment went well yesterday. Then again, I worked hard for it. I cleaned myself up, donned better clothes, pulled my hair back off my face, and practiced some Dutch before going. Nothing about my last visit was hinted at. My concerns were taken seriously, and I had blood and urine tests done. Should get the results in a few days.

Got another doctor appointment today, for my psoriasis. Far less frightening.

Really wishing I didn’t feel so un-balanced at the mo. Guess who’s gonna scramble a bit to recover her calm exterior? I just don’t have a good idea on how to do that…

This fundamental unfairness I feel..it doesn’t go away just because I head out for a walk or turn my mind to other things. It’s always there, and I’m always angry about it. I don’t understand how you can walk this planet as a woman and not feel it. I suspect it’s the same for racial minorities or gays or any other group that is discriminated against. Say what they will: I STILL see more mid to upper class white men in film roles, on tv as presenters or guests or experts, in music, in literature – characters AND authors. The only time you see more women is when we’re showing our tits or draped across a car. And that sickens me, right to the core. It’s blatant fucking programming. White males are NOT the majority of persons on this planet. But you sure as fuck wouldn’t know that just looking at our media and culture. It should be closer to 51% female. THEN you can break it down into races, religions, and sexual orientation. But let’s START with a proper representation of the LARGEST dissed group: women.

And I get shit when I bring it up. Guess it’s an issue only white males should talk about.

Okay, so I didn’t drop it. I’m still goddamn angry.

How the fuck do you deal with this on a day by day basis? Huh? Ignore it? Forgive the foibles of men closest to you because they’re KIND of good guys? Because 85% of the time they think before they talk? Goddamn!

This reminds me of a South Park episode. Kyle makes the mistake of saying he understands Token and what it’s like to be black. Maybe that’s all I’m looking for here: an acknowledgement from men – from my brother – that they don’t understand what it is to be a woman and face this discrimination every goddamn minute of our goddamn lives. In the end of South Park, Kyle, of course, learns his lesson. But that’s tv.

What about IRL?

Happiness Challenged

Yesterday I hit that ‘can’t do this anymore’ point about 6 p.m. Could not sit down anymore, could not rest anymore, could not NOT smoke anymore. I did my best to treat my addict side….guess I might as well ADMIT my addict side. That half joint in my ashtray got smoked. I rolled another thin one and nursed it, taking hits like a newbie – light hit with a lot of air and then cough, cough. Felt bad about it, but I’d already snapped at my bro (for no reason) and I felt like I looked like this:

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I could hardly have that attitude walking into evening telly! Especially on a Doctor Who night. So I did it, I smoked. The good thing is that yes, my smoking is waaaaaaaay down from what it was. Good on me; I didn’t just pick up and start puffing away like a mad eejit. Guess I’ll have to do this in small increments. Maybe when my doc comes back from holiday I’ll ask her about some help. A patch or some gum or some such shit. Ugh. I don’t really feel up to tackling my smoking. I just wanted to cut back. That I’ve done.

My brother has threatened to start getting up even earlier this week. Like myself, he’s now got a bit of a life; things to do and places to be at by a certain time. Rotterdam IS a working city. You find none of that all night partying nonsense that’s in Amsterdam. Here, pretty much everybody is shut down by midnight during the week ’cause tomorrow is a work day. That works for me, and in the past my bro would deal with it and sleep right past the time that everyone was up. But now, he wants to GET UP in the mornings. Yeesh! Not like I can re-wire my brain to be at that slightly punch drunk free wheelin’ writing stage at any other time of day. If I could, I’d do it right now. My sacred mornings are soon to be shattered. So guess who’s pushing herself to get up even earlier? Don’t want to give up blogging first thing. It clears up the debris that’s accumulated in the corners of my brain overnight. Sweeps up all the dust bunnies. I feel clearer and more purposeful after blogging, like I’ve settled something in my own mind. Time, time, time is the issue once again.

I’m not a fast writer. If I was, I’d have more books and stories out there. I be slow. Or rather, I have long periods where nothing goes on paper (or computer) and then a fast push where a lot comes out. I’m inconsistent. That’s more accurate – inconsistent. And of course I’ve been told that’s a bad thing, that I can never be a full time writer because of it because I just can’t churn stuff out at the pace the modern world tells me I have to. That’s a load, told to me by people who are (1) jealous and (2) incapable of understanding how a bipolar artist works. Goddamn! Margaret Mitchell only wrote one book in her life. She didn’t have a follow up to ‘Gone with the Wind’. Yet SHE’S known as an author. These days if you don’t shit a book out every other year you don’t earn that title. Same with everything else. Want to be known as an actor or musician? Better keep producing your stuff, going on tour, working your ass off every single fucking minute of every single fucking day. Don’t think you’ll have a life, ’cause that will take you out of the spotlight and how dare you anyway! Thinking you could have a fucking life AND be an artist at the same fucking time! Geez!

This modern microwave world moves too goddamn fast. Nice for some things, yes. Getting a message from my friend half way around the world just seconds after they send it, well, that IS nice. But for everything else, it sucks. Doing something well takes time. There’s no getting around it, no ‘life hacks’ to make it go faster. You want QUALITY? Then you gotta take the time. And there’s the problem: we’re inundated with shitty products that don’t stand the test of time. Think Justin Bieber’s “Baby” is still gonna be around and played in twenty years? Or Britney Spears? Do you really imagine the new batch of superhero films will be remembered as ground breaking cinema? No. None of that will stand the test of time. None of it will be remembered in five years, much less twenty. There’s books out there I forget the plot of just days after reading because they are so similar to a thousand other stories. There are films I’ve seen and completely forgotten about until they come on again and get 15 minutes into the plot and then I say ‘oh! I’ve seen this’. And music? Well, there’s a good reason some comedians sing medleys of pop songs – because they’re all based on the same 3 chords and you can sing every single one of them over a repeating phrase. Yes, it’s funny and I laugh my ass off. And yes, it’s tragic because it shows how LOW we’ve all sunk.

Sometimes I think we’re on the brink of cultural collapse. Rome is going down in flames. We stand on the edge of a new Dark Ages, where might is the only right and knowledge is a thing that takes too long to pursue. Standards are dropping, and dropping fast. I think the film ‘Jackass 2.5’ is proof of that. When did the idiots take control? And why do we keep voting them into office? Disparity in income is matched by disparity in general knowledge. We are all fools on a fool’s errand.

*sigh* I guess I AM grumpy this morning…Excuse me, I’m happiness challenged. Anyone else?