Goals ahead

Pain free. Not now; I’ve run out of paracetamol. Sounds inconsequential while I’m on morphine, but trust me – paracetamol is needed. But the low level ache that woke me up at 4 in the morning was the first I’d felt in 24 hours. My Sunday was pain free. First day in a week. Gives me hope that this will get under control. With drugs, at least.

Also had my first laugh yesterday. My face has been in too much pain to laugh. Hell. It’s been too painful to chew or talk. I’ve been talking with my jaw clamped shut, like a ventriloquist. Made me think back to when I was 8 – got a ventriloquist doll for Xmas. Worked on it, too. Never got good at it, but I learned how using an ‘n’ rather than an ‘m’ can work; people listening to you anticipate your words, and their ears fill in any discrepancies (only works if you KNOW a language). So I amused myself briefly with an old skill, trying out different words and phrases. Found if funnier than funny that the two words I could articulate best were ‘drugs and alcohol’ (you’d need to intimately know my history to understand the humor; trust me that it’s there). Guess it’s a good thing to know that I can still ask for what I need even when I’m in that much pain. Drugs and alcohol.

Sent out Taman. Dithered about it, mostly because of how doped up I felt. That, and I needed to write a 100 word bio as a playwright. Ye Gods! Finally just did it, ignoring my flinching ego as I typed away. It’s hard to write about how great I am as I writer. But, a bio is like a CV. You’re expected to pump yourself up. I used the words I heard given to me over my writing: Lovecraftian, intense, raw. Thank the Goddess I had some compliments to draw on. Made it much easier. Otherwise I’d just sit there and say ‘Yeah, I write. I wrote this, I wrote some other stuff. I think it’s good.’

My doctor’s appointment is at 9:10 this morning. I feel I know what she’s gonna say. She’ll ask about my pain, and have that worried look on her face when I tell her I had to take more morphine than anticipated. She’ll tell me she wants me to see a specialist. She’ll mention TMJ, or the Dutch equivalent. And she’ll tell me to keep taking the drugs, get a refill, and she’ll give me more if I need it because ain’t nothing stopping this except drugging it out (if I am reluctantly turned into the drug addict I’ve been accused of being I’ll…well, I don’t know what I’ll do, but it’ll be ironic).

Meh. Plenty of writers were/are drug addicts.

Finally ate. Managed during the last week to choke down stuff like half a cup of oatmeal or a scrambled egg, but never more than 400 calories a day. Had a real meal last night. Still soft food, but it had more calories than I’d eaten for days. Have to take it slow. Food now makes me feel a bit ill. Good at first, then a bit ill because my body isn’t used to it. Drinking more water. Discovered how hungry I was just for water once my bro got me some straws. Long, long drinks of water. Feeling good enough to wonder if I managed to shed a few pounds during this. Don’t want to check the scale. Goddess forbid I do that and find the number still hasn’t changed. Nope. Better to feel like I dropped weight. Sometimes you need the psychological edge more than the real thing.

Pretty sure at this point I won’t be going to language class. Even if I’m not hurting, I woke up before 4 a.m. I be tired, and on morphine. Yes, I can think again and yes, I think I can even do some Dutch if pushed (like when facing a doctor who doesn’t speak much English). I just don’t want to push. I’ve been pushing, or feeling like I have, all week just to stay sane and not claw my brains out of my cranium with my fingernails. And today of all days, I’m taking the advice of everyone who’s ever met me. I’m being easier on myself. So, no school. I be lolling around and napping. I will go to the lesson and deal with the teachers in person rather than via text. The class is very important to me, and I want them to know that. So I’ll write it out – my problem, how I shouldn’t talk, the pain, the meds, the regret at not being able to sit in class and pay attention during the afternoon. In Dutch. Or I’ll try.

Not so with Thursday’s teacher. She’ll get a text.

Finding myself writing again. In the evenings, as I watch tv. My eyes are open, I react when my brother does, but I’m not really seeing anything. Zero retention of anything I’ve watched. Nope. I’m deep in scripts and story lines. Plotting out scenes. Contemplating mysteries to write about. It’s a bit annoying, really. I get to see the opening of a show, then I’m gone during the bulk of it, only to come back to watch the end. The upshot of this is I feel I’ve seen too much of the show to watch it again, yet missed too much to know what really happened.

😉 Kind of like my life.

Still. I feel like a wide, clear path is opening for me. Always knew were I wanted to be, just didn’t know how to get there.

Goals ahead.

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Moment to moment

Morphine. Mark the day. I’ve avoided it as long as possible because there’s nowhere to go from here, other than more morphine.

Saw my GP this morning. She took me seriously (thank the Goddess; I’m too scarred from docs ignoring me for years). Wanted to know the pressure points – I guided her hand to them with my eyes closed. Far too familiar at this point. Had blood tests to check on a nerve infection. Results were negative, for which I’m thankful. I don’t know what the treatment might have been, but the normally passive face of my doctor was very concerned when she spoke of this possibility. Now I’ve another appointment Monday morning, to discuss the situation.

Pretty sure I’ll hear TMJ. Damn. Should have been a diagnostician. Could have rocked that career. Not sure what it will entail. Maybe a mouth guard. From what I’ve read, they think it’s due to people clenching their jaw while they sleep. The nerve eventually seizes up and the pain is unbearable.

What’s blowing me away is that this occurred at a moment of high success and excitement, not horrible devastating loss.

Does this mean I can’t take success?

I said it was tough to take the compliments. Being acknowledged as a role model. Admired. Loved. All of it.

Am I so screwed up that I can take every rejection and pain without blinking, but love me and I seize up?

Oh, dear Goddess.

I don’t want to accept that. But I can’t deny the possibility of it.

…And the morphine pills have a refill.

Fuck.

I am thankful for the pain relief. Still a dull roar in the side of my head, but I don’t have to hold it or pace in a crazed manner.

I am also thankful for the dull, grey day outside. I don’t think I’d like it if the world looked happy and gleeful when I feel like this. It’s a visual reminder to curl up and take care of myself. My brother is cooking easy to eat, healthy food. Can’t eat much, but at least what I do eat is very healthy. Don’t want to sit too long. I know what can happen to my back. But I’m fairly buzzed. Hoorah. I like buzzed, especially after days of pain. So, walk? Mm. Not today. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have my morphine legs, and walking on the treadmill will be okay. Right now it seems too much.

Watching Downton Abbey. Beautiful fantasy.

Don’t know about school next week. We’ll see how I feel. Don’t know about later today; ditto on that.

This is moment to moment living.

Film star

Wow. I was gonna do some improv… I thought the dialogue wasn’t that good. But you…somehow, you made those words sound natural. I don’t know how you did that.

That was the director, yesterday afternoon. Truth is, I was made to stand in front of three 20 something year olds and forced to listen to compliments. Yes! Torture. The casting director told me how, when she first heard from the theatre group that someone was interested, she prayed – prayed – that it was me. I heard how blown away they were that I’d memorized the dialogue. How brilliant my delivery was, how perfect I was, how wonderful and amazing everything that came out of my mouth was.

The ego is stroked, people! WOW! Is this the way other people feel? I mean…good about themselves? Is this how other people can have such a positive outlook on life – because they allow themselves to hear the compliments and really take them in? Because there’s no one in their lives raining on their parade, telling them they’re not really good or successful because of whatever reason? Is this success? Self confidence? …Even self-like? (Won’t go so far as to say self-love, but self-like is a big step for me.)

I knew I had it. The call that came in at 8 in the evening to tell me I had it was anti-climatic.

So, to business. I’ve three days of filming in Den Haag. Going to have to be there by 7 or 8 in the morning, so I’m prepping now by getting my ass out of bed at 5. Get used to those early hours again. The script is in flux, as most film scripts are right up to the point they shoot the scenes. I was told they’re thinking of doing it straighter, hold back on the creep factor (which, apparently, I nailed as well). The casting director wants me in a dress; I was asked my dress size and a full body picture was requested. Don’t yet know if I’ll be wearing a blond wig or going natural, but I was told to expect make-up and hair preparations. Ooo! I’ll feel like a real film star. There may be rehearsals as well, so my three days in Den Haag might stretch to four or five.

For moi, it’s taking care of the animal. Getting to the gym to walk each day – no push, no pull, just walk. Keep the back in shape. Take my vitamins and pills. Get to bed, hopefully a bit earlier each night to help me thru these 5 am wake-ups. Stay calm, and focused. Do what I can to combat the bags under my eyes.

Because I was also told the group’s teacher was a working film director who has worked on many Dutch films. Ding! There’s my in. He’ll see my work no matter what; he’s the one who’s got to grade it. Have a little fantasy of going to the screening – film students always have screenings, even if it’s only at their school – and their teacher comes up to me. Ah! he says. You do wonderful work! You know, I know of someone who could use you… And the next day I’m contacted by someone who’s in the biz, who’s offering me a small part with pay. Which leads to another part, and another part, and bigger paychecks all the way along.

I like that fantasy.

…You know, for a 52 year old woman who’s spent a long time in rural situations far from the glitz and glamour of movie-lands throughout the world AND who doesn’t have an agent, I think starring in my second film is pretty damned impressive. No matter how you want to cut it up: it’s a student thing, I’m not getting paid, blah-de-blah. It’s still fucking impressive.

And I get to miss another week of language lessons. We’re filming next Thursday and the following Monday. My Monday teachers will get the full news, along with what is now an 11 page hand written kid’s story in Dutch (not yet finished). My Thursday teacher will get an SMS on Wednesday telling her I’m not coming. No reason given; I don’t want to waste the money on my phone and I don’t know how to correctly write it all out.

I feel like a kid. Not only do I get to go, dress up and pretend to be someone else for three days, I get out of school for it.

…Oh. For the record: I went relaxed, but took everything with me. A change of clothes, some make-up, jewelry, and the wig. Had occasion to laugh heartily on the trip there: I was waiting at Beurs metro station for my connection when the casting director called and asked me if I could bring the wig along, just for the director to see what I looked like as a blond. Sure, I said, knowing it was in the bag at my feet. Got there, loads of time, no stress, no worry, with the easiest possible path there and zero confusion on directions (even without buying a map). Into the bathroom to get my hair tied up and under the wig. Damn! Was I pleased I’d brought along a change of clothes! Huge sweat stains under my arms. Change the shirt, put on the wig, darken my eyebrows…even had time to just sit in the lobby and acclimate myself to the hair. All in all, no, I didn’t need that extra time but I’m VERY happy I built it in.

Now it’s a weekend of mirror work. Tilt my head, smile, try different facial expressions. Keep running the scenes each day for memory’s sake.

‘Cause a week from today, I’ll be a film star.

Mainlining

When it rains…

Oh, baby! Flood me! C’mon! I think it’s safe to say I have never experienced the type of upswing currently underway in my life.

Signed into my pen name email yesterday. Usually there’s nothing there. So often, as a matter of fact, that I complain about tumbleweeds rolling thru. And, to be honest, there was only one email waiting for me. But it was a doozy.

The group I sent my first thriller, Blue Whale, to has contacted me again. They loved my story, but at the time they thought the tech requirements were beyond them. Do not know what’s changed, but they want to consider it again. And they contacted me. I’m just in a tizzy. Theatres and artistic directors don’t do that. They say ‘we’re open for submissions’ and sit back and wait for stuff to come to them. They do not pursue writers, they do not contact writers days ahead of notifying the general public to say ‘please, please, can we try your work?’. It just don’t happen.

I’m living a dream.

They’ve also asked if I’ve anything else. Think I’ll send them Taman. It’s done, it’s tight, and they might really like it. I have nothing to lose; they’re going to consider Blue Whale no matter what. So enthralled and thrilled I don’t dare ask if their tech requirements have changed. Talked to my bro about it, and he thought maybe they’ve been thinking about BW this whole time. Considering what they can do, how they could make it work.

Erk (that’s me, choking a bit). People…are thinking about my work for months?!?

…And here I am, emailing back and forth with a bleeding ARTISTIC DIRECTOR of a theatre like we’re old friends! I – I – I….I’m stuck on amazement.

More coffee, and another J.

Feels like I’ve hit a wall. A wall of excitement. I can’t be any more excited. I maxed out days ago. This…just stuns me. And I think that if more excitement comes my way, if things keep up this momentum, I’ll find that new balance of living IN this. Get the role? Exciting, yes, but no reason to jump up and down. Blue Whale gets done? Same again. Taman gets noticed? Ah, yes, add that to the list.

I’m waiting now to see if the last piece falls into place. If, when my teachers get a hold of the children’s story I’m writing in Dutch, I hear that I should send it out to get published.

Got a feeling that might happen.

Today is all mine. Did as I said, and contacted my Thursday teacher to tell her I wasn’t coming to our lesson. Got to the gym, stretched, did a long walk on the treadmill. Today I run lines, shower, prep for tomorrow. Hell! I even did my nails last night – cuticles and polishing – because I figure most women my age would do that type of thing, and it’s the small details that make a role.

…You know, I’ve had shit hit me like this. One thing after another ’til I felt like I was gonna break. Being on the flip side is weird

Weird.

So weird, it’s completely blanked out my anxiety over finding my audition tomorrow. I’m too up. I’m also too focused. Not the usual drive myself ’til I drop manic focus. Oh, no! This is a down to earth, get enough rest, think long term focus. No amount of excitement will prevent me from sleeping. No amount of excitement will prevent me from doing what I need to do – like getting to the gym for regular exercise. No amount of excitement will rile me up to the point where I can’t write. …Good Goddess, do people operate on this level as a regular thing? Or have I flipped into some hitherto unknown hyper-mania?

Television has been shit lately, so yesterday evening I ran some of my recorded Futurama episodes during dinner. Watched the one where Calculon comes back from the dead. Kept laughing at his hammy acting and inflated ego, right up to the point when someone in my head said, ‘That’s what Mom was afraid you’d turn into.’ *groan* I examined that idea, and you know what? I find it fucking insulting. You thought I’d turn into that kind of ego maniac? What made you think that? The way I was so quick to backtrack, so fast to take the blame in any situation, so immediate with my ‘I’m sorry’ exclamations? Or maybe it was how proud I always was of myself – after all, I’m the woman who allowed herself to beaten at the hands of partners and raped multiple times; obviously my ego is out of whack. What. the. fuck -?

Oh, yes! And before I forget. Had an apology – APOLOGY! – from Celtx about their original email. Ye Gods! I really will burst with one more thing.

The words of my hated sister ring in my ears this morning. You don’t know how to handle success. Can’t stop thinking about it because she was right. She said it as an accusation, obviously. My sister’s modus operandi: shame me. But it’s also a statement of fact. I don’t know how to handle success, because my family never let me succeed. Not in their eyes! Now that I’ve basically cut myself off from them (excepting my occasional nostalgia driven internet searches), I’m free – FREE! – to experience success. But no, I don’t know exactly how to handle it. It’s all new to me. The good feelings, the flattery…the sheer headiness of it. None of that underhanded nastiness I’m so used to. At least, not yet. It’s out there; I know it is.

But for now, it’s pure, and clean. Real admiration. Real compliments. I feel like they’re raining down on me in one, huge burst from the Universe.

And baby, I’m mainlining.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, I will.

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.

I am a Vengeful Person

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I have looked strange the past 24 hours. I know it. Because every time I remind myself to think success without revenge, I’ve stopped. Frozen completely – even mid-stride. It’s difficult to remember to change my thinking habits, and even harder to do. Each time I have to build it up from the ground – calm, no family, see it, hear it – bit by bit I construct it, view it dispassionately, then I remember I’m mid-stride or mid whatever and I come back to myself with a ‘huh!’. The things I’ve found in my brain have been small. Simple. And success has lost its frenetic energy; it’s become a calm and measured thing. Most measures of success I have for myself as an artist are things I can already lay claim to: having someone moved to tears by my performance, hearing that something I did changed someone’s life. The only thing I’m missing is being able to cover my expenses by my art.

I think you are too hard on yourself. That’s a quote from my very cute physiotherapist, tho I can’t write in his adorable bleeding Dutch accent. He made me laugh. Obviously, I have been myself with him. And obviously, he’s too hard on himself in some ways since he saw it so readily in me. I got him to really open up and talk about football (soccer, if you’re in the states). He’s on a semi-pro team as goalie and admitted that he’s a hard ass when it comes to winning on the field, which is completely counter to the person he presents to the rest of the world. It gave me a good insight to him that he hadn’t let me see before, and honestly, I feel I can relate to him even more now that his veneer of perfection has a dent in it.

Picked up Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. Man, I love Russian writers! I admit it’s difficult to get past the names, but the writing -! Often I have to pause and consider the perfection of the thought presented to me. This book got me from the start, with the first sentence:

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

That’s a sentence I want tattooed on my bleeding forehead. It’s got to be the single most gorgeous line I’ve ever read, truly yummy in my brain and my soul. Ah! To write like a Russian! Tolstoy just gets me right down to the core.

Went to my language lesson this morning, which more and more often is a one-on-one thing since the other student rarely shows up. I had quite a bit of apprehension: my sick time didn’t include one moment of Dutch, and I felt pretty rusty and out of it. But we kept on, and props to my teacher who found a simpler text for me to read out of. I’m going paragraph by paragraph, getting pronunciation correction when I need it and switching to English when I don’t understand something. Simple things blow me away. In Dutch, you stop something in your mouth rather than put something in your mouth. That kind of stuff trips me up every damned time. Or remembering what lays or what stands on a table. Ach! But I don’t feel so bad about language at the moment, and that’s a new and different (and very welcome) feeling. I’ve been laughing at the irony of reading Tolstoy in English while struggling with Dutch text meant for a nine year old. It’s a perfect example of why I’m frustrated. I enjoy Tolstoy. Really enjoy it. I really enjoy a lot of traditionally ‘hard’ reads. So trust me, struggling to understand simple text is just freaking difficult and to have even the slightest relaxation of that frustration is a cool blessing on my brain.

Tomorrow, of course, I have to deal with a teacher who isn’t so nice to me. But that’s tomorrow, and I refuse to borrow any trouble right now.

What with getting out of the house for hair appointments (yes, it’s done), physiotherapy, and language lessons, I’ve had more fresh air and exercise in the past 24 hours than I’ve had in weeks. It’s served to underscore the fact that I’m not really well yet – I’m damned tired by the end of the day and back to falling asleep in front of the tv. Which is a good reminder, because naturally I’m feeling more and more antsy and a trip to the gym has been crossing my mind with regularity. Not ready for it yet. Maybe next week.

You know…I really don’t know what I’m building here. With the crush on my physiotherapist and my language attempts and all this non-revenge visualization. Not a bleeding clue. I don’t know if I’d go out with my physiotherapist even if he asked me, and believe me, I’ve thought about that one a lot. I don’t know if I’ll ever really feel comfortable with Dutch. Even Dutch people have told me it’s a dull language and English offers so much more expression. And the non-revenge stuff…I’m ashamed to admit to how deep revenge goes in me. How much of a hole is left in my life when I take that out of the equation. Gah! What the hell does that say about me? I don’t like the message. I don’t like what I see.

Maybe that’s my lesson. Maybe it’s been the vengeful part of me I’ve never really liked. Never thought about it that way before. And I know, like an alcoholic, I’ve got to admit it before I can move on.

Hi, I’m Beeps, and I’m a vengeful person.

So THIS is where I’m stuck

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It’s official: I am not gonna die from this cold. Last night was the first non-interrupted sleep in 10 days. I’m beginning to remember what breathing without a rattle in my lungs feels like.

The roots of my hair are finally getting schooled today. All I can say is yippee! Feels like my head is a walking advertisement for half and half. Tho I’ve got to admit, after a certain point (and I’m there) my roots stop looking so silvery and start looking simply light brown. I hope that once my hairdresser helps me to transition from this almost black color back to something closer to my natural color that grow-out phase won’t shock me so much. Let’s face it: grey pubic hairs are enough of a shock for anyone to deal with, and I have to face those every damned time I piss.

After my hair, I get to see my very cute physiotherapist. This is the first time since I’ve started physio that I haven’t walked or exercised or even done the minimum stuff he gave me to do for my back. Just too damned sick! I feel immensely fat. Ugh. At least my hair will be done.

Can’t wait to get out of my head. There’s nothing worse than being stuck physically to make my mind go bonkers. I do my best to reign it in when it crosses the line but it’s difficult. My thoughts are lightening fast and by the time I realize I’m thinking down lines I don’t want to go I’m already more than half way there.

Anger, obviously. I make no bones about that. Sometimes I wonder if I really am insane. If everything I think I know about my family and the way they treated me is all just some delusion I’ve built up. That’s a hard one. Makes me feel very lonely. But then I remember some basic facts about my family, like how out of all my cousins only two have chosen to reproduce, and I think no, my family is really screwed up and I’m not imagining it. I know under that anger lies sorrow. But I figure I ran around being sad for most of my life; it’s about time to express some of that anger towards the people who deserve it. Maybe I won’t get past that this lifetime. I’d like to. I’m just too angry.

Next time I’m on that wheel and they tell me I have to come back here I’ll say no, no, no, no!

It scares me to think I’ve let my life waste away. Sometimes I do feel that way. That I’ve been so stuck and angry for so long I haven’t done much. I know! I know – that’s a major discount of what I have done. Can’t help it. Maybe we all have to go through that. Middle age is kind of the New Year’s of our lives – a time when we pause and reflect on what we’ve done or not done. I’m sure I’m not the only one to make mid-life resolutions. To do better. To live more. Problem is, when you get to middle age you really do feel tired so easily. Throw in the RA and it’s no wonder I’m asleep by 10:30 most nights.

….So I have to ask myself: what are you waiting for? Why are you stalling out on your dreams? Why do you come on this bleeding blog and write almost every day, yet you don’t show the same dedication to your ‘art’?

OH! You can’t rush inspiration. I do work on my art. I know where I go when I really write. Damn! I just hit my own defensiveness button. Excuses and alibis, followed up by a big question mark just sitting in my brain because behind all those excuses and alibis lies something I really don’t fucking want to take a look at. A big, ugly lump of fear.

My family used to accuse me of being afraid of success. That was why I did what I did. That was where the self sabotage came from. That was the alpha and omega of mental health in my family: you’re afraid of success. I was never afraid of success. I was afraid of failure, which I felt to be inevitable. After all, if my own family felt I wasn’t good enough then why should anyone else? My family knew me longer and more intimately than the general public. They passed their judgement, and I accepted it.

Any dreams I ever imagined of success in my life never included my actual family. Never. In fact…I only ever imagined success as a means of revenge on my family. I always (in my fantasies) appeared suddenly to my family after achieving mega success. Sometimes the fantasies were subtle, sometimes they were over the top. But they all showed me being very successful and the rest of the family wanting to be my friend, wanting to shower me with the praise they were all so fucking miserly with, and I turned away from them in the exact manner they turned away from me for so damned long.

Hm. Something tells me revenge is not a good basis for success.

Well that’s an interesting tidbit of info I pulled out my head today. Just wrote it down so I could keep contemplating my words.

Now. What does a fantasy about success that doesn’t include revenge look like? I do not like fawning behavior. Previously in my success fantasy, I’d burn fawners. So let’s not do that this time. A sincere thank you, with understanding and kindness behind it. No family allowed in this at all, other than my bro…. What I see boils down to one word: respect. Simple respect. People asking to hear my opinion, and listening to my answer. Respect for what I do, too. No snobs telling me I can’t write or whatever. And naturally, enough income earned to pay my own way. I’m not a champagne and caviar type of person, and I don’t need gold plated everything. But I’d like to be able to get my hair done and buy new clothes if I feel like it.

This is hard. Really hard for me. I can put the pieces in place but I still can’t quite imagine the scenario. It’s all just dead cardboard cut-outs in my brain.

So this is where I’m stuck.

Aspiring to be Beeps

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Bounce back. Yesterday was gloomy, today is bright and shiny and Rotterdam seems to have taken an extra Prozac this morning. I’m off of a luscious swim, thanks to a Tramadol one hour before starting. On my walk home I stopped to feed George – of course. Several ducks are getting cozy with me, daring to step closer and closer now that George has shown them the way. Then to top things off, five cats were outside enjoying the sunshine and ready and willing to give me some cat love.

I am full of what the morning has offered me. 🙂

Dragged my fat ass out of the house yesterday and walked. Walked like I did before I threw my back out this last time. Walked ’til I made my heart beat and my cheeks pink. I’ve been easy on myself since my birthday and subsequent back damage, not pushing myself. That stopped yesterday, and the full flow of endorphins back in my brain from sweating is fucking awesome. Gimme this in pill form.

My bank account is open. My balance is at zero; I’ve still got to pop some funds in there. But it’s open. My card is being sent. In a few weeks I should be able to update my computer and stop getting all those ‘you’re out of date’ messages. Yea! I’ll be happy to see those gone from my life. And it seems Chrome will translate pages for me automatically; I can get through PayPal. All that I need now is for someone to pay me.

Addiction Central is starting to get info from me, too. Their online forms are getting filled in. Ugh. The translations don’t always work. Sometimes I’m just guessing what they want to know. Oh, well. It’s somewhere to start from. I’ll probably get all sorts of questions about it during my first appointment. Joy. Not thinking too much about it. The alarm on my computer will go off a day before to remind me. Until then, forget it.

It’s nice to be able to say that – forget it – and actually be able to DO it, too.

At the moment, I doubt very much if I’ll be able to get anything done today other than play. Let me set the scene: my brother is standing to my left, recording a bass line in on his computer. He’s got to rehearse sections a few times, then record it. The supermarket on the ground floor is getting a delivery; I can hear the lorry’s engine. And somewhere below me, some work is going on. An electronic tool is being used, and sounds very much like some sort of machine fart that goes on and on.

Just a few distractions.

That’s okay. I’m in mulled brain mode. Been tossing a lot ideas around, looking for something to pull out my hat. No rabbits have coalesced in my hand, though, so I’m just holding one arm out in the air, waiting. I have no idea if I’ll jump to music or write another story or go off on some mad idea that’s supposed to make me money. For reals. Again. Not like before. 😝

…Yesterday at the bank, the woman who was taking down my info and helping me noticed my birthdate and said “You’re fifty? I’m fifty too!” and I didn’t know how to respond. I looked at her sagging, wrinkled skin and thought um, great? Should I be scared? Offended? Pleased I don’t look like you?. So I didn’t react at all. Probably rude of me. But really! What was I supposed to say? Congratulations? Welcome to the club? What?

Ach, and while I’m addressing my icky-ish feelings I’ve got to pony up to another stress. I’ve noticed I’ve been getting a few more followers. My numbers have been increasing. While that side of me that NEEDS those gold stars is happy as a camper (WHY are campers happy?), I’m also feeling increased pressure. To measure up, I guess. Which is silly, because people won’t follow me if they don’t enjoy what I write. So, just keep writing like ya do, eejit. Somehow that don’t cut it for me, tho. That knowledge is in the back of my brain…people are listening, watching. I’ve been told I’m afraid of success and leadership. Yes, and yes. Success means more people watch you fall. Leadership means I’m responsible for more than just me. I’m uncomfortable with both of those ideas. Yet I hate being ignored. Contrary me. I can never make up my fucking mind which way I want it.

But, dahlings, you know Beeps, a side of me I present to you all packaged and neat in words. I don’t believe I come off as cool and together IRL as I seem here. I think my life would be QUITE different if I did. Hell, even I aspire to be Beeps. Ha! I guess we DO need those WWBD ankle bracelets.

Success, Music Industry Rant, and Moving Forward

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The only uncle I communicate with sent me the above picture. He’s the one who knows what’s going on with me. Even leant me a couple of thousand dollars to get me over the moving expenses. He’s a good man. Sometimes he falls into that trap that people who don’t suffer depression get into. I’ve heard hard things to hear from him; ‘other people have it harder’, ‘hang in there’, ‘it’s not all that bad’, etc. To give him all due credit, when I’ve pointed out how hard that is for me to take in when I’m depressed, he doesn’t push me. He tries, which is more than any other blood relative I have does for me, and I’m very thankful.

How I measure success….It’s changed since I was a kid. When I was very little, I measured success by how many keys someone had on their key ring. My dad had one of those huge, super filled key rings. He had keys for everything, and a couple of things he could no longer remember what the frigging key was for. But I used to think if someone had so much stuff that their key ring needed two circles to carry all their keys, well, they MUST be successful, right? Only successful people get to own that much stuff.

In school, success became linked to popularity. The cheerleaders, pom pom girls, prom queens – hell, anyone who even WENT to prom – was successful to me. Scholastic success was absolutely secondary in high school. Strange to say, but true. Education was NOT the focus of high school for me, although it should have been. I didn’t try, I wasn’t challenged, and I stagnated in my education because I was more focused on fitting in than figuring out calculus.

In my 20s, I achieved the ‘success’ of popularity. Through excessive drinking, drugs, and sex. Oh, yes! I was popular. Bring me in, guaranteed fun. Guaranteed things get a little out of hand. Guaranteed. I remember my mom being actually PROUD of the fact that the phone would ring six times a night for me with friends and guys asking if I was going here or there and would I meet up with them. She thought it was fucking great. She was in complete denial over what I was actually doing. Seductive clothing, staying out all night (sometimes all weekend), was OK in my case, even tho my older siblings would have caught holy hell for doing the same things. A very, very screwed up time for me. I mean, talk about fucking mixed messages…

When mom died, I went back to Uni. Success FINALLY became linked to scholastic performance, and I excelled. But I found, as many others have found before me, that it was a hollow success. By the time I hit my junior year I was running into older students who had graduated and were out in the job market. Too many of the ones I knew were working secondary jobs; a lot weren’t working in accounting at all. And the ones that DID land jobs with the big 6 were in nightmares: I spent an afternoon with a school friend who audited a factory in Mexico. She detailed to me all she witnessed, and I knew right then and there I couldn’t do it. I’d be a whistleblower. It sounded horrible. Environmental polluting, slave labor, shanty towns, child labor – all of it. I mean, WTF?

For the last 20 years I’ve been an ‘artist’. It’s very hard to measure success. I’ve done a lot of projects I’m proud of. I’ve done a variety of art forms and performances. I even have a cult following on the net. I’m always dissing myself because my art doesn’t pay for my life. And I’m always reminding myself that Van Gogh went through the same fucking thing, not being recognized – hell, he was VILIFIED – while alive.

I’m not sure how to change my success markers. For me right now, success = success as an artist, i.e., making enough bloody money each month to cover my living expenses. This discounts just about everything I’ve done. Because I’ve created ART, not mass consumption fluff to be reproduced ad NAUSEUM on everything from coffee mugs to t-shirts. The one thing I’m clinging to these days is my slow but steady increase in downloads and sales. I’ve got zero marketing budget, so everything relies on self promo and word of mouth. Since I’m seeing an increase – and it ain’t from me; I’ve been lazy – it’s gotta be from word of mouth. People sharing my songs and then I see some extra downloads.

The time lag is terrible. I mean fucking TERRIBLE. Just got in reports covering the first half of 2015. These reports ACTUALLY cover sales from 2014. Because I’m waaaaaaaaaaay down the line in reporting. There’s like 3 or 4 companies that have to close their books and file reports with other companies who then close their books….Anyway. I hear about stuff 6-12 months behind sales. Not easy to remember what the fuck I was doing 6 months ago that might have sparked downloads.

Meh. It also does not help that I get .003 for each stream. Yep. And since they don’t release funds unless you’ve earned a MINIMUM (usually set around €25), I need 10,000 to get paid. Don’ cha love DAT shit?

I’d just better get the fuck over this shit. I’d just better fucking ACCEPT what I am and deal, ’cause this is driving me nuts. And I’d better fucking remember I have a plan, a concrete, solid plan I’m currently in the middle of to up my royalty earnings. I am NOT just sitting on my arse hoping more sales happen. I am taking steps. Even if it don’t look like it right now.

Hm. Just like the picture I posted. 😉