Feelin’ it

Yep. I’m feelin’ it.

Worked on the home page of the theatre site. Saw a tab called “contact forms” and hit it. There sat a 12 June email from a national press journalist requesting info from the group – unanswered. Short note out to the board resulted in a request for me to ‘handle it’. Actually, it was written like this: Gee, I’m not sure anyone got back to her. Could you…? I’m still not authorized for the group’s email account, so I responded from my personal gmail account and hope and pray it won’t get lost in the junk. Kept it bright, brief, and perky with a ‘contact me with any questions’ sign-off.

Finished off SEO codes for the home page. At least for now. Began brainstorming for the other pages. Need to interview the board for a fresh ‘about us’ write-up. Wrote some questions up for the director specifically about his job as director. Thought about standard stuff for our members: vital info, links to other pages, a question or two to get what I want from them.

Got to the gym. My body is getting ready to go. Found myself hurrying on the treadmill, walking faster than I had it set. Hoo-fucking-rah and finally! Not pleased to say I still have a pull in my right side that’s a bitch. Hurts to raise my arm, and keeping myself upright is tough. Next physio appoint is a week from today. Rub me, rub me, rub me!

Was rewarded by the Universe with a working lift in the building. Surprise, surprise! Noticed all the notes hanging on the call bells were gone, so I tried it. I was not the only person surprised; when I came back from grocery shopping three other very shocked residents popped into the lift with me.

The rain scheduled to come in was a total strip tease. Big cloud build-up, flashes of distant lightening and the smell of sweet rain falling somewhere: we had it all, except the water. Still bone dry, and forecast to get even hotter in the next two weeks. I am happy about two things. One, my hair’s grown long enough I can get it all up in a clasp off my neck and none of it falls out. Two, this flat. East and west windows ensures we get the best air flow possible, and the UV treatment my bro did on the windows keeps us cool. It usually feels 5-10 degrees cooler in the house than outside, and that, at least, is assuring and takes away some of my growing fear over our climbing temperatures. But I have to face facts: my room is the smallest and hottest in the house. I’ll be sleeping sans pjs in the coming weeks.

…I should look around today and find a damned summer hat. Keep telling myself to buy one and I haven’t…

Began fiddling with my Dutch homework. Idioms and sayings; just the sort of thing I was looking for. Every language has them, and Dutch is no exception. I’ve been stumbling across quite a few in my reading. Seems I have some sort of secret upper hand with sayings. I can usually just figure them out, or get damned close to the meaning. But it’s great to go over them. Loads I don’t know. My teacher gave me a website address that lists almost every common saying in Dutch, grouped by topics. Got lost on it yesterday; fascinating stuff.

Today: Injection. Breakfast. Tidy up the kitchen. Gym. Homework. Website. Did not venture out to buy the fabric yet. Considering the forecast, that was probably a mistake. And probably not my last mistake, either! Oh, well. Wanted to give myself two weeks on the website and start video shooting in August. I’ll stick to that schedule for now.

Received some sobering news yesterday. Heard from R, my bro’s friend and sensei. He’s terminal. Explains the long silence from him. Neither my bro nor I find it surprising. R’s health has been on a steady decline for the last year. I don’t know R well enough to feel saddened by the news. Am I terrible to say that? I am sobered by the news, respectful of what he’s going through, but he was never a large enough part of my life to feel a huge impact. Sometimes I wonder if that indicates something really wrong with me. If I should feel sorrowful over this news. Should I? Am I callous and self-absorbed? I’ve seen videos of people crying for strangers. I’m not someone who’d do that. I feel for them, just not to the extent of crying. I mean, if I cried for every stranger, I’d cry every day all day long because there’s always someone dying somewhere. No. Death is a part of life in this reality, and we all get to face it someday. I can’t cry over such a normal occurrence. I can only cry for my own loss and grief. I suppose that does make me selfish. But, then…death is selfish. We think about our loss, how not having that person around will affect us, how much we’ll miss them, how much we ache to see them or hold them again. Rarely do we turn our minds to the loss of others when we are in the center of the storm. It is left to the fringe elements, the co-workers and friends, to comfort those in the center. We go the wakes, we hug, we give them what words we can – if we can find any words at all to give.

*sigh* Neither my bro nor I know any of R’s family. When the time comes, we will go the service to pay our respects. If R is up for visiting we’d love to see him, but having nursed two parents thru this process I’m well aware of the depression that settles in around a terminal patient. He may not want to see anyone. So, we wait.

Feelin’ it.


Pineapple and ice cream

I pulled the old diet coke with a piece of cake trick yesterday. Except in my case, I did it with pineapple and ice cream. I’m not proud of myself. But oh! Ice cream! Real ice cream! It does a number on my stomach, and I can only have a little bit at a time or my lactose intolerance kicks in but DAMN!!! It’s good.

Plus, I put on some clothes that were tight on me last November and found them very roomy. So I guess I can take a small scoop of ice cream once in a while.

Got back on the cross trainer. Didn’t try for anything other than to keep going for 30 minutes. Did pretty well. Gasped for air, naturally, and my heart rate was faster than I’ve seen it in awhile, but I kept on. Did my stretches, my abdominals, my weight lifting, and walking, too. Thought to myself: yeah, now I’m getting back on track.

Came home to my brother, who suggested we go out to eat for a biryani. I stood there in the hallway, sweaty, disheveled, and still red in the face, while he said this to me. Oh, man! So I took a break, cleaned up, had a cold soda, and headed out with him. It was a great meal – chicken biryani, garlic nan, tarka dahl, and mixed veg. I ate and ate and ate.

Saw my very cute physiotherapist. Did my bendy trick for him; I can bend straight over and put both hands flat on the ground. He said: Ah! No wonder you have back problems. It’s great you’re so flexible, but it also means your muscles have to work twice as hard as mine to keep you upright. Ding, ding, ding! So that’s why my back hurts so much when I stand for too long. He pushed at the sore spots, apologizing. I reminded him we’re the perfect pair; he’s a bit of a sadist on the physio and I’m a bit of a masochist, so push away. Pretty obvious he doesn’t get a lot of patients saying that.

Have heard nothing more from the theatre group, and if it goes the way it’s been going it’ll take me messaging the director before an actual meeting date is set. I’ve no problem being the Mom in this situation if he needs me to be, reminding him of dates and time lines. I just don’t want to be an unwanted Mom. Must remember to ask him about it (some people, unlike myself [pat on the back] have problems asking for what they need from others).

Still can’t quite get over the fact that I’m not falling into a horrible depression this summer. I’m actually feeling good, both physically and mentally. Good enough to contemplate getting out of the house more, doing more, going to a few free festivals or music events. It’s very strange. Been years since I felt good enough in summer to go out and enjoy it. But I’ve actually been thinking how pleasant it might be to go to the beach for a day. Lay in the sand, swim in the cool water, buy an iced treat from a near-by stand. Maybe wind the day up with a meal in a beach-side restaurant. I haven’t had that urge for 30 years.

Today is Saturday, meaning my bro is headed out to the comic shop. I have the day to myself. There’s cleaning to do, and the gym. That’s my daily pineapple. Sweet in their own right, and good for you. Dicking around with writing or just playing games…now, that’s my ice cream. Sweeter by far, easier to take, not really good for you, and far too easy to overindulge in. And just like that urge the other day in the supermarket when I picked up the ice cream in the first place, it’s difficult to ignore.

…We-e-e-ell, a little ice cream never hurt anybody. Right? Besides, soon I must face the pineapple of writing: the production notes, the script changes, the accommodations of this or that for the actors. I know what’s coming.

Don’t get me wrong. I like pineapple. A lot. I just like ice cream more.

But the pineapple is piling up. Still haven’t called for an appointment with the dietician. Still need to get back to the dentist for a check-up. Have to get over to my doc about a clogged hair follicle on my head. Must finish my homework for Monday. Need to call the dermatologist at the hospital and ask for more creme for my feet. Pineapple chunks litter my path: left here and there, easy enough on their own to pick up and eat but put all together and you’ve got one big assed pineapple to munch down.

Like any pineapple, you’ve got to slash off the prickly bits and cut out the core. The prickly bits are mostly made of up my language anxiety. The core is that I just don’t care enough about myself to do these things in a timely fashion. So I’ll do my best. I’ll try to take care of one thing on Tuesday morning, after I’ve had my language class. That’s when my ear is most attuned to Dutch. Monday is out of the way with its catch-up from the weekend and weekly meetings. Do one thing. If it’s easier than I imagined, I can try another. But no pressure. This is a big pineapple, and it’s not quite ripe.

In the meantime, pardon me if I eat some ice cream.

When the Universe Gives me Closure

Bitch and Ye Shall Receive. Or, Doubt and Ye Shall Be Proved a Moron.

It wasn’t long after posting my whinging yesterday that I received an email from the director. We’ve two interested parties in the last role. All I read was NO, YOUR DREAMS AREN’T DEAD YET. Sweet. Looking for a meeting next week to discuss the production and performance dates. I’m there. Need me two nights because not everyone can make it on one? Great. I’ll be there. I’ll be there every night of rehearsal, if you want.

Still feeling a bit apprehensive. Like if I go off the deep end with anticipation it’s bound to fall apart. So I’m keeping a lid on it. Distracting myself.

Did not make it to the gym yesterday, and I’m glad of it. For the first time in a week I woke up after only 7 hours of sleep feeling refreshed and really ready to start the day. Must remember to just let myself rest when I’m that tired. No pushing.

Today I’ve an appointment with my very cute physiotherapist. We’ve fallen into a regular thing, he and I, and I sometimes wonder if he encourages me to continue regular visits for the same reason I’m so eager to keep going: we like each other. Oh, I know my back will always need attention. It always has. But we’ve an easy back and forth, a real interest in seeing each other, a real enjoyment in our talks (and yes, he’s told me as much). Ah, whatever. If I have to pay for a bit of male bonding, I’ll pay. He’s worth it. And he knows exactly where to put his finger on my back to make me laugh or say ‘ow’. Thirty minutes in his company and I just feel better all around, like I’ve had physical and mental therapy in one go.

Hm. Crushes are lovely, aren’t they? Even if they end up breaking your heart in the long run, that high octane rush is a lovely thing. A smile, a soft reply, can lighten your entire day, lift you up above the shit, and make you feel like there’s a reason to keep fighting. I don’t kid myself that there’s anything on his side other than friendly feelings, I’m just enjoying the tingling sensation. Seems like once every ten years or so I meet someone I’m actually attracted to sexually. Was beginning to think that was all over, then there he was – smiling, a touch of grey at the temples, that easy manner. I’d love to kiss him. To taste his mouth. I think I’d even love to make love to this man. But I recognize what he is to me: an obsession waiting to take hold. I’d lose myself, like I always lose myself. Put my wants second in order to spend time with him. Put everything in my life on the back burner, and make time with him my number one priority.

I’m willing to lose myself like that in my writing. Not in a relationship.

*sigh* Still, it’s nice. Nice to feel this way again.

Four more weeks before Dutch summer kicks in for real. Hm. This time always seems difficult for students. I hear and see it everywhere, and feel it myself. We won’t get a break from school lessons until the third week of July. Trust me, it’s tough. That learning mindset just flies out the window when the weather gets nice. Still, I’ve been in the American system as well, and I don’t think that’s much better. Summer break is too long, and you get too far out of studying and forget too much between school years. Determined to find a language cafe this summer and go every week. I need to keep talking and working with Dutch. Reading is the one area I don’t have to push myself. Dahl is still sustaining me, feeding me new words and ideas, making me work to understand his story. I love grasping the unique turns of phrase the Dutch have. I love reading something and having a light turn on in my brain. It’s nothing you have to make me do. Not like writing, or talking. Writing is less of a chore than talking, even tho I sit with multiple books open and look up every other word while writing. But that’s true in English, as well. I prefer to write.

These posts, or anything else I write, take time. They rarely fly out of me, unless I’m on some hot-headed rant and just go with it. I go deep. Search for the perfect word. Think through all the psychological aspects of what I’m saying. And I prefer the perfect circle writing, coming back to the beginning to wrap things up into a neat package that brings you right back to my original statement (you may have noticed that in my posts).

I like closure.

Hm. Interesting! Did not know that about myself.

But now that I think about it, it makes sense.

In real life, stories rarely have a beginning or end. They are part of the continuous flow. We tell stories, or shoot videos, and they are only a snippet of what really occurs. A small snapshot that moves for a short duration. I believe the best artists see patterns in these small snippets. They see the sign posts, they draw the circle, they create a tiny, perfect bubble of emotion that the audience can sip from time and time again because it never runs dry. This is what I hope to achieve with my own work.

I have nothing to bitch about, and on this early sunny morning I’ve already proven to be a moron. Such is the aftermath when the Universe gives me closure.

It’ll get done

Despite the thunderstorms, despite the flooding, even despite the roof leak in the building, auditions went well last night.

The skies opened up and poured as I got on the metro. There was the lightening and thunder I wanted, and there was the torrential rain we’d been promised for days. By the time I reached my stop, the shower had largely passed – but it left a swath of water in its path. I was flummoxed several times, and had to search for the driest path available. Very glad I wore my sandals and casual harem pants. Ended up pulling up my trouser legs and wading thru several spots.

The director eagerly took down notes on the horror films I picked out for the actors to look at. The original Night of the Living Dead, to emphasize the story is about everyone’s reaction and not the monsters. The Fourth Kind for genuine fear reactions. If they feel it, the audience will feel it. Yes. Communicated that clearly.

Had a couple of ughs. A couple of people who speak so stiltedly I’m shocked they thought they could audition (I have not yet auditioned for any Dutch production because of the language barrier). Also had a couple of real gems show up. Heard eagerness in the actors, saw smiles and laughter. Funny to sit as a fly on the wall and hear other people talk about character motivations. I recognize how they put themselves in the roles, imagine how they’d react. Letting that happen without comment. Breathe life into it! Make it real. You’re teaching me every minute about how people interpret my words.

*sigh* And contrary to most years, we have more women showing up than men. Already talking with the director about gender flipping some roles. I’m not opposed to doing a female heavy cast, it’s just that I worked my ass off to tailor it for the group and of course it still needs some adjustments.

But I’ve got three core members involved now. We’ve enough good actors to fill critical roles. Still could use a few more to fill out the cast, so we’re scheduling round 3 of auditions. Back to relaxing into the behind the scenes roles: writer, marketing guru, make-up artist, props master, sound direction. Decided I’d like to make an announcement prior to each performance. A little addition to creep the audience out: tell them that yes, what they’re about to see is based in fact and if they choose to search or google for any information they do so at their own peril. That’s a great set-up. Weave that mythology a little tighter.

Loving this whole process. Taking it all the way, having a hand in the production. It allows me some control, yet I’m not totally on the line for everything. I can take some of the burden of it off my shoulders, but still shape aspects of it to my satisfaction. Yeah. I’m all for this.

And I mentioned that when the production hub-bub has blown over, my bro wants to produce a pod cast of another script. Get the actors excited now.

Time has kind of stopped for me. I’m not writing, other than this blog. I’m not really getting to the gym or getting regular exercise. Everything is hot and sticky, and I just can’t find much oomph to accomplish anything. Dutch has become a real chore. Anything other than existing during the hottest part of the day is a chore. The only energy I really feel like expending is towards the production: walking thru flooded streets, staying on top of the auditions, communicating with the director. Cutting myself slack on that. I know where my priorities lie. Everything else – exercise, the language work, even housework – that’s all just means to an end. I’ll exercise so my back doesn’t bother me. I’ll work on Dutch because that’s the language here. I’ll clean up around the house so the general filth doesn’t make me sick. But that’s it. Get it done to the minimum level. Everything else goes into the play.

Today: exist. Try not to sweat too much. Monitor the windows for when the storms hit. Should probably open up my homework and take a swipe at it. The gym would be a great idea…but let’s face it: I probably won’t go. If I do, I’ll be as surprised as anyone else.

This stillness… It runs so deep in me I’m shocked. Shocked, yet grateful. I thought I’d have to be dead to experience this type of relaxation. And even then, I figured I’d be a restless spirit. Mmm. All those years never feeling like I ever had any time off. And I didn’t; I had zero time off from my fear and anxiety. Holidays, work days, birthdays, school: didn’t matter. The anxiety and fear were always there with me.

So take the time off, Beeps. Enjoy it. Roll around in it, wallow in it. You can trust yourself to chill and not fuck off on everything.

It’ll get done.

You get used to it

Living in Rotterdam offers some strange sites. I once watched a guy walk down the sidewalk in his bathroom robe (a plaid affair) and slippers. In the unexpected summer heat and humidity we’re currently having, you’d probably be surprised to see so many people kitted out in full downy jackets with their hoods up. For me, it’s become the norm. All I see is immigrant. That’s not a diss, just a recognition that they’re used to temps much hotter than this. But it’s weird. White people in shorts and t’s, black people in down jackets zipped up.

It all comes down to what you’re used to.

I’ve become used to sitting around on my ass all day long. Sleeping during the afternoon, doing a bit around the house, resting. It’s high time to shake up ‘what I’m used to’.

Got out for a walk yesterday. Made it out before the heat really took hold. The area I live in is so un-city, so un-urban, if I told you all I encountered you might not believe I live in Rotterdam. Within a 10 minute walk from my front door there’s a stable with horses. Five minutes gets you to pastureland with grazing sheep and cows. I have woods to walk thru, lakes to bathe my feet in. Obviously, I don’t live downtown – and I’m glad of that. I like the energy downtown, sometimes think it would be cool to have an apartment somewhere in one of those high-rises, but I prefer it out here (even if that does make it difficult to head out on a late night adventure due to public transport shutting down). I can make it on my own two feet to a quiet place. Somewhere I can let my mind relax. And for a brief moment or two, I can pretend I’m not in a city. I like that.

But yesterday, the only thing relaxing my mind seemed to bring was disdain. I came home and popped in some horror. Been going thru them, watching, learning. What scares you? Sadly, not the films I put in yesterday. Ho, hum. Could drive a huge lorry thru their plot holes. And now that I’m really dissecting the genre, you gotta do better than that. Plus, fine that you can create scary scenes with cuts and edits, killers leaping out from spots where someone must have seen them, even tho no one in the film seems to use their bloody eyes, but what about on stage? And if you can’t create horror and fear on stage, how scary IS your story?

Things to avoid: human killers. Obvious dumb shit. Stuff no one in their right minds would do. Oh, a 10 year old hears a weird whispery voice coming from their heating grate and thinks ‘yeah, I’ll let whatever that is out’? Seriously? You want me to swallow that one? No. Get your story straight. And your bleeding mythology. It isn’t scary to just throw things in randomly and hope someone gets triggered by it. Other things to avoid: explanations. Religious overtones. Any reasoning.

Fear is fear. The power of fear is what happens to us. Explain it, give it a tangible source to fight, and fear becomes less effective.

I will never explain my monsters, other than to say they’re unexplainable. Beyond this world.

Dream a little dream. Or, a big dream. How cool would it be to get government funding to develop and open a theatre solely built for horror productions? Trap doors, wires strong enough to hang stuff on, special sets. Answer: uber cool. I’d bloody well love it. And considering any horror story – stage or screen – relies on unexpected sounds, it feels like a ready made thing for my bro to get involved in, too. He’s even got experience building haunted houses for Halloween. And he’s damned handy with tools.

…Yeah, that’s a big dream. Still… It would be cool.

That might be the only cool thought I have for today. Forecast: temps near 30C and high humidity. Possible plans: head downtown to a Vegan food and drink fest. Meh. The idea of showing my lily white legs in public is less than appealing. My arms tan. My face will even pick up some color. But my legs? It’s like their bleached. Permanently. And then there’s my problems with walking in shorts: my thighs are fat enough they rub together. Sweat and cause problems. So I try to not let that happen, and then I walk weird. Oh, I could wear pants. And if I go, I probably will. Which means my legs won’t get sun again, and they’ll remain lily white… See my problem? That’s not even mentioning my anxiety over my cellulite. Oh, I’ve seen worse, and every time I see worse I think ‘if she can show that, I can show mine’ but when it comes down to it…When it comes down to it, I’m ashamed of my flaws even if they’re not that noticeable. It’s hard to break out of hiding once you’ve put yourself in there.

Hiding has its downside. You avoid people, so you don’t have any friends. You avoid public spots, so you feel a bit trapped and in a rut. On the other hand, you began hiding for a reason: you were afraid. You got hurt, and retreated into yourself. And just like anything else, you got used to hiding. You took the bad parts of it – friendlessness and isolation – because you were at least safe. You didn’t face whatever it was that drove you there in the first place. And that part of you that adapts, that tries to go on no matter what the circumstances, that part accepted the limitations of your new life. It became your norm.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Moving out of your current comfort zone is like beginning anything else: the first step is the toughest. But once you’re out there, once you’re doing it, you adapt.

You get used to it.

Can’t just sit there

Sort yourself out, woman. Turn off the talking carrots and say something.

One day has blended into the next. The weather’s cooled off. Been getting some exercise by just walking, then (because the lift is still out) climbing up four flights of stairs. It’s starting to become less of a thing. Housework is always there for me: the dishes my bro just can’t seem to dry or put away, the bed, laundry, and chasing down dust bunnies.

Can’t seem to get anywhere with my writing. Tried several new story lines, wrote a bit, then fizzled out. Have to admit I’ve intimidated myself with the thriller. Worried that’s it, the best thing I’ll ever write. I know that’s silly. I know what I’m capable of. Still. I’m feeling it.

Worried about a lot of things. The EU is changing. The feel of this neighborhood is changing. Money is tight and getting tighter, plus we feel the pinch of needing to show real investment here – more money tied up that we can’t use for basics like rent or new clothes or just keeping our hair looking decent. My health doesn’t help. Doctors bills, hospital bills…I always feel guilty over how much it costs just to keep me alive.

Mentioned to my bro that I wondered if I’d qualify for an assistance from the government. He said to check it out. I don’t like the idea one bit, and I don’t know that it would really make me feel any better to take a hand out for not being able to do what a person my age should be able to do. On the other hand, even a hundred euro a month would make a great deal of difference to me. I’d feel like less of a burden on my bro. More of a burden on society, of course. But maybe with a little help we could keep our heads above water. Maybe with a little help my work will be able to thrive because we won’t be so damned tight every fucking minute.

And I am scarred from my time in Ireland. Every year we were threatened with our residency. Every year, we felt pressure. And although we supposedly were all okay and totally legal – which by law should have opened up a lot of options for us – we were told on the local level that any application for anything from the government would result in our getting kicked out. My bro’s been assuring me we’re no longer under that repressive (and quite possibly illegal) system. Still. Old habits die hard…

Fuck, fuck, fuck. You’re asking me to trust. I’m not good at that.

You’re also asking me to have enough self worth to stand up and say ‘Hey! I deserve a little help!’ That’s another thing I’m not good at.

…I’m not making any promises. Nope. Too much pressure either way. Just…leave it for now.

Other things…

A friend of mine has promised to take a look at a comic script I wrote 10 years ago. She’s a great artist, and I’m jazzed just over the possibility. Mentioned it to my bro, who said he’d be happy to get it printed up because he could insert an entire page to market his company and his music (which is absolutely true). He’s even got an in at the comic shop in town, and it’s an easy give away. I just think it’s a cool project to spend my time on.

Finished James and the Giant Peach and have moved onto some JK Rowling – The Tales of Beedle the Bard (in Dutch). Getting thru it, but it’s tough. Different language use. Dahl uses many of the same words book to book. It’s a great way to cement in the definitions in my head. Rowling has a different vocabulary. Plus I’m tussling my way thru the magic references. I mean…Dumbledore isn’t Dumbledore in Dutch. It’s Perkamentus. Have not figured out why yet. Might have to ask my teachers. I’m finding it less enjoyable than Dahl simply because I have to work hard on comprehending so much of it. Trying to just get thru it without using my dictionary too often.

Have to hit my Dutch homework today, too. Geen zin, as the Dutch say (no interest). *sigh*

Keep wondering if or when I’ll start an upswing. That semi-maniacal interest in things. That doggedness, that keeps me working for 12 hours at a time. It’s late this year. Is that my medication working? Not sure I’m pleased it’s taken the one thing out of my condition that I really enjoy.

Moved into summer foods. You know how it is…the windows are open, the neighbors are grilling…it’s hard not to do. Have finally managed to put together the Dutch version of a BLT. Took a while; bacon really isn’t a thing here, and I had to hunt for the right ingredients. It was worth the wait. I feel about BLT’s the way The Tick feels about BLT’s – it’s the best sandwich ever, but it’s GOT to be right. The Dutch version is so good it curls my toes in ecstasy. I might not eat anything else this summer.

Gotta get up and get going. Do fucking something. In the immortal words of Milo (Descendents): Can’t just sit there.

The Dawn Vampire

The lift in our building was broken all weekend. While that doesn’t make me a prisoner, it does give me reason to avoid going out. Four flights of stairs in a glassed-in southern facing stairwell after working out or walking around the mall isn’t enticing at all. In my mind I’m already relaxing by the time I get off the metro and see my building. Thinking just a few more minutes and I can take my shoes off and put my feet up. Confronting a four flight climb at that stage is just…ugly.

Dragged my feet through my Dutch homework. Too many letters to write. Tell me to write a story: great. Tell me to write a letter: ugh. Do not like it. Feeling that nervousness again about my bro coming to class. He was invited to return and did well last week, but we were given three sheets of antonyms and he’s been thru it with a fine toothed comb. Oh, he’s got his autistic questions and comments all ready! I’ve tried to explain to him to relax, it’s just a method of remembering words: up, down, high, low, sit, stand. He’s too literal. Sitting isn’t the opposite of standing. And he’s got a ten minute lecture to explain why. Honestly, I hope he just stones out and lets it all go. I’ve seen this happen all too often in the past, and it makes me uncomfortable.

I am determined, tho, to let him do whatever he ends up doing – without me jumping in and trying to explain.

Been doing okay physically. Aches and pains – the toe, the back. Nothing horrible; everything’s at a low level.

Mentally, not as great. Haven’t done any writing. Thought I had a good outline going, but the feminist in me complained I was relying on the old ‘couples’ trick to drive the story. Can’t you think of something that doesn’t rely on that? You’re so proud of your thriller because the sex of your characters doesn’t make one bit of difference to the story – and here you are, writing something totally dependent on the sex of your characters. She’s right, too. I can do it; it isn’t forbidden. But it’s a cop-out. An easy fix. I’d like something more from myself. Back to zoning out on games with the tv on.

Ah, summer. Well…summer makes me sweat, and sweat makes me think of tight, cramped spaces, and that leads to all sorts of twisted imaginings. If this comedy turns into a horror or thriller, fine. I won’t stop that happening. All I want is a new story line to chew on, to prevent me from worrying about this year’s production. And boy, am I gonna need it.

Still a wall of silence on auditions. I just want to feel like things are underway, you know? Right now it feels like the afternoon before a performance: geared up, ready to go, but you’ve got hours before you’re on stage so you’ve got to conserve your energy. That is my least favorite time. Please, Mr. Director, just set a date!

Hoping my meds delivery date really did get changed. I made a bad call online and set the date for today, when I have language class. Beat myself up mercilessly for about two minutes, then called the pharmacy. Stumbled thru the Dutch, asked for the delivery to be changed to tomorrow. The person I spoke to assured me she made the change on the computer but I didn’t get a confirmation email so I just hope all is well. Guess I’ll find out.

Totally spaced taking a pill a day or two ago. Not happy about that, but I was able to just say fuck it and start taking my pills in the morning again.

Keep feeling like I should be doing more. Doing something. My bro keeps reminding me it’s a holiday weekend again, and a lot is shut down. Chill. Relax. Play games. Now is not the time to work. I can play games for about an hour, but then I have to get up and do something different. Dishes, homework, pacing, anything. I’ve a jitteriness about me that I can’t shake.

Gods, and some things just never change! One glance towards the recycling told me that yes, it needs picking up and taking out again. I know there’s dishes standing over there just out of my sight, ready to be washed. The bed needs making. The sameness and repetition of these tasks is deadly. How is anyone supposed to keep track of time when their tasks are so repetitive? No wonder I so often feel like I’m in a rut.

I feel very vampire-ish: someone feed me some happy so I can smile. I’m not angry, or sad, just empty. I need some fresh blood to reinvigorate me. Give me some enthusiasm, please. Some oomph. I seem to have lost mine somewhere along the way.

…Just opened a window. The smell of lilacs hit me, smack in the face. Amazing how there can be so much in one delicate scent. I grew up with lilacs outside my bedroom window. They speak of dawn: cool dew, stillness, and the secrets of the natural world only early risers experience. I have never understood why more people don’t get up early for this, while at the same time being eternally grateful they don’t – because if they did, it would be ruined. Getting up at dawn is like going to the moon. There’s an eerie stillness around you, a secrecy in being up and active while everyone else is asleep, that I find intoxicating. I can do anything. Dance with the wind, sing to the sky, hug as many trees as I want, say hello to every bird, every cat, everything I encounter – and no one is there to look at me strangely or make me feel weird about it.

Yeah. Bend the dawn over backwards and bite into that jugular.

The Dawn Vampire.

Bump on a log

Bump on a log. I have sat for days, zombie-like, in front of my computer or the tv, not really hearing much, not really seeing much. My brain has felt fully empty – an oxymoron, I know, but that’s what it’s felt like: so much emptiness there’s no room for thought. What do you want for dinner? I don’t know. What are you gonna do today? I don’t know. When are you gonna start writing again? I don’t know. There is so much ‘I don’t know’ to sit and ponder over I can barely make a start on the basics, like dishes or making my bed.

This is my process. I begrudgingly accept it: the lengthy instances of sitting on my ass and seemingly doing nothing. I was taught this was wrong. Something to fight against. Oh, the years of harassment and nagging! The inevitable guilt I feel when it happens. I know I am a bump on a log. I know I sit there and sit there. It’s what I need. Just like the early mornings, the pacing sessions, the web searches. My brother handles this better than I. He is unfailing cheery, unfailing willing to pick up the slack I leave sitting around (for the most part; the dishes still aren’t done). It would be annoying if I paid more attention to what’s going on.

Ach, that’s two dishes references in as many paragraphs. Guess we all know what my trigger is.

Finally made a start on the dreaded tech notes check. Taking it slow. Trying to not drive myself insane.

Finished my latest Roald Dahl and began another. Have a loosely scheduled trip to the library today…sometime. Fine. Get me out. It’s been days…I think. Saturday? When was the last time I left the house? …Probably Thursday, when I took out the recycling. Yeah. Well, if I have to think that hard about it, I need to get out. A little metro ride, a little walk, return the book, pick up some smoke, a metro ride home. All in the sunshine.

*sigh* Keep forgetting to take my pill on time. I began at noon, brought it up to 11 a.m., but now it’s scooted back to 1:30 because I keep bloody well forgetting. I’d like to get it to either my pills in the morning or pills in the evening, but neither of those times are set in stone and my anti-depressant needs to be a bit more regular. So I’m floating. Trying to find a time I’m always aware of – now that’s difficult. Not sure what to do.

The tapping stopped, for the most part. I can go off into it at any time. It’s right there in my feet. But I’ve found if I don’t start, I can prevent another afternoon of incessant sound. And…keeping my shoes off helps.

… _ _ _ … (that’s SOS in text code, for those of you wondering…)

Some of the fog is clearing. I’m beginning to think again now and then. My brain really does go far, far away when it creates and when it comes back it’s like a snap into focus. I become aware in an instant of many things simultaneously: undone work, my surroundings, my brother’s mood, the weather. I can feel this coming to an end. I am ready to get back to something like a routine, albeit a summer routine. Not sure now what I’ll write. I was so certain, the other day, but now… Now I feel very different threads coming together in my brain. There’s something else up there waiting to give birth, and it’s almost ready. Or…it’s ready enough to sit and gestate quietly now that it’s kicked its twin out of the womb. I can wait. I know how it goes when I wait: an easy birth. One great push and out it comes. Cool. Just give me that frontal lobe back, please. I need it for my day to day.

Been haunting my emails again, hoping the theatre group would just pull themselves together enough to begin talking about auditions without me nudging them. No such luck. I’ll need to write something to the board member and the director. Worried about bugging them too much. The director, especially. But auditions should have at least a week’s notice; in my mind, two weeks would be better. It’s almost the end of April. That puts them mid-May at best. If everyone thinks they can pull this together after summer holiday, I’m willing to let them try but there’s one condition: I want the actors to have the script over the summer, so they can read the story. Once you know the story, the lines are simple. They follow the action. It’s logical, scene to scene. Just…read it.

Every day is too long, yet flies by. Maybe it’s the sameness. Everything blends into one big mass of blah. Sun, heat, tv, games, Dutch, dishes. Over and over. My wrist continues to hurt. It’s annoying, and keeps waking me up at night. Maybe it’s time to take out the big pain pills. The paracetamol ain’t doin’ it.

I want to scrape myself off myself, if that makes any sense. Scratch this tired repetitive zombie off me. Rinse it down the drain in the shower. Say ‘goodbye, inaction’ and become that calm, forward moving person I know I can be. I’m almost there. Please be patient with me a little longer.

Have this bad feeling this summer will be tough on my RA. It’s not even May and I’m contemplating morphine pills for my wrist pain. Fuck. And you know what the worst thing is? If I say something about it, I’ll hear the old make sure to get regular exercise stuff. How does walking or using the cross trainer help my wrist? No one’s ever been able to tell me. They just repeat how important regular exercise is, like I didn’t know.

Summer: my hands and feet swell. My knees and back get bad. Does not matter what I do or don’t do. And I love the idea of summer. Warm sunshine. I have great memories of summer activities.

But now… Now, summer puts me into bump on a log mode. Thinking in dark rooms. Babying my hands and feet because of pain. It’s a natural de-evolution.

Bump on a log.

Om de Hoek

Someone call 1912, tell them I found their missing summer day.

There is a spit of land in the far west of the Netherlands. A tiny spit of land that forms the headway for the great river Maas that cuts through Rotterdam. A tiny spit of land that takes the brunt of the elements, the largest ships, the everything the ocean and sky and wind can throw at it. That tiny spit of land is called Hoek van Holland (literally, the corner of the Netherlands). And yesterday, I finally saw it.

Hop on the B metro. That’s easy; the station is literally outside my front door. Ride that baby all the way to the end: Schiedam Central. Find the bus halt. In summer, there can be as many as four bus lines running back and forth – but, of course, on the day my brother and I went, there were only two buses every hour.

As I traveled across this tiny nation (and tiny it IS; my goddess! I’d drive longer to get to my grandparents’ home than it would take to travel the length of this tiny land), I watched the landscape change. The Dutch have a way of planting up the area to hide cities and towns and industrial parks. The only way you know something is over there is due to the church spire towering above the trees, or a fast glimpsed solar panel through the canopy. Then, in a heartbeat, everything changes. The trees open up to wide, expansive fields dotted with cows, sheep, and horses. A quiet lake surrounded by tall reeds erupts in activity as a gaggle of geese takes off in flight.

There was a time I looked at the neat rows of trees here in the Netherlands and thought yuck, gimme real forests. Everything looked too manicured, too tamed to my eye. I was used to horizon-to-horizon openness: wide skies, nature, and not another human to be seen. But after spending a large portion of my life near such untamed wildness, I find now that I appreciate all the landscaping the Dutch have done. There are paths through the land here. Paths that can take a bicyclist or walker from one side of the country to the other. Paths that are well laid, and lit at night. Paths that wind you around those trees and quiet lakes, through the fields dotted with animals, past every sight worth seeing. Tired? Thirsty? Need to pee? Undoubtedly the Dutch have thought of that, too, and if you just hang on for another five minutes you’ll see the bench laid out to sit on (conveniently under a large tree that offers its shade to travelers), or the cafe with cold drinks and hot sandwiches, or the public toilets that are always kept clean and well stocked.

These little niceties are especially appreciated after 14 years in Ireland, where sitting was an irregularity…

When we finally made the beach, it was like some long forgotten scene of a by-gone era. Sun parasols dotted the sand, a look I always associate with “olden times”. Some kids flew kites. A couple of boys kicked a football around. Kids and adults alike licked ice cream cones and sucked cool drinks. Dogs played in the surf. Despite it being only 20C (70F), most people were out in their bathing suits, determined that since it was summer, they’d treat it like summer, no matter how many goose bumps they got from the chilly off-shore wind.

And it was clean. Maybe the cleanest beach I’ve ever seen.

We were told it was ‘just a beach’. What we found was a lively on-sand mini-town. There were fancy vacation homes if you wanted full time sun and sand. A row of cheap fast food, then better sit down meals, then clubs with alcohol and entertainment. Shops to buy stuff at, arcades to throw away your euro on. And a long stretch of sand dunes, guaranteed to hide walkers, bikers, and lovers from prying eyes.

Up, and down. Out to the end of the breakwater, to watch the waves crash over the gigantic rocks laid down like a giant’s building blocks scattered along the way. Half a dozen hardy fisherman cast their long poles, teasing the hidden fish swimming amongst the seaweed.  A double toot from an outgoing passenger liner, people standing along the railing waving at those of us still on land.

The most disappointing thing of the day was our fish, bought from a stand on the beach. Expensive, and not nearly as good as the guy who has a stand by our house.

Today, I am back to more normal activities. The gym, obviously. Walking in the sand for three hours is good exercise, but it isn’t the cross trainer. Need to get to the printer and have a hard copy of my play printed up. Haven’t looked at it for days; giving my brain and my eyes a good rest before the final editing process. Gotta run my lines, too. Been neglecting that.

Telling myself good things are coming. They’re om de hoek.

In my mind

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

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

I’m still putting my all into it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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