A breath is all you need

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

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

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

Nodding. Frozen smile. Slow blinks. Got it.

Focus…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let it go, let it go

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

But sometimes, a breath is all you need.

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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.

So easy to fly

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

52. I can no longer say I’m barely in my fifties. You can get away with that at 51, but at 52 you’re officially IN there. Two years since the big 5-0 and running towards 55. I gotta say, it don’t feel bad. Especially since I really can run towards 55 – if I’m so inclined.

So. *ahem* I got the film! I got the film!! Signed into my google account yesterday (I’ve several email accounts under my pseudonyms) to find a message from the casting director asking me to contact her. Sent out an excited email in reply. Then I signed in FB to find she’d also contacted me out there. With two messages sent to me in quick succession, both containing phone numbers, I weighed my desire: did I want this bad enough to pick up my mobile and call a Dutch number? Yes. Yes, I did. And, oh Goddess! She’s a fan. She saw me in the last play – even spoke to me after a performance. Her picture is cut off online, but I think I may remember her. She sure as hell remembered me, and I had that weird moment when someone remembers you and your memory doesn’t dredge up a corresponding memory to remember them. Ach, I’m so naturally bad at that type of thing! Anyway, she was VERY excited to have me – ME – onboard. So very excited I got excited, and had a damned difficult time winding down last night. It’s a psychological thriller, and my part is big. Not the main part; that’s left for the 20-something actor who’ll play my son (can you imagine? me as a mother?). But I’ll be needed every day for filming (must be a mother issue psychological thriller…gee, I can relate). I look forward to some real acting – crying, screaming, trembling with fear or anger. Letting it all go on camera.

I’m gonna be in a mo-vie! I’m gonna be in a mo-vie!

I’m just so excited! This may be the best birthday present ever.

My head’s just flying. Imagining people asking me to work with them again. Imagining bigger directors seeing my work and contacting me for roles. Imagining, even, collecting awards for roles I haven’t played yet (yes, I’m THAT far into the future). Then there are the writing fantasies: I’ll talk about my work. Someone will get interested. Someone will say, gee why don’t you take that to film? And on and on and on…

Here’s how full my head has been: I haven’t even had time to dream of Taman being well received.

Did clear my scriptwriting desktop. Whatever faults lie in Taman, stand. I think I got most of them. Now I’m ready to load up the thrillers.

Came to a very clear decision yesterday on my Thursday language lessons. I’m not continuing them after this semester. Just. not. worth it. The room is too crowded, and my teacher…well. I think she’s got a problem with me. Was nagged yesterday on pronunciation of a word I’ve known for over two years. Do not know what she was on about; she kept repeating the word and telling me I was saying it wrong. I told her I couldn’t hear any difference between what she said and what I said. She kept nagging at me. I told her I didn’t actually CARE if I made a few mistakes here and there in Dutch pronunciation, as long as I was understood. “People will know you’re American”, she told me. So? I asked. I then clearly stated that I’ve never claimed to be anything OTHER than a dumb American, and I wasn’t going to pretend I was. Besides, I said, everyone has a bleeding accent. Even with your own people. And then there’s the mumblers. To tell me that there’s only ONE way to say a word, and that if I don’t say that word exactly the way she tells me I’ll look or sound like an idiot (or whatever she meant to imply), is complete and utter bullshit. Especially when, post this discussion, my co-student read a sentence aloud that made ME cringe at her poor pronunciation of every word – and she received no nagging nor correction.

Homey ain’t gonna put up with dat no more.

Side note: I kept my temper. My teacher might not have felt that was true; she brought out that passionate side of me that drives my words with a forcefulness some people find intimidating. But I didn’t lose my cool, and I knew that. How she perceived it is her own thing.

I feel like I stand on a knife’s edge. There’s a tipping point at my feet. Something’s in the air. One way lies success; the other, oblivion. I know it as sure as I’m sitting here (or I’m just really, really lost in a manic spree…that could be true, too). Feels a little unstuck in time, if I’m honest. My mind’s eye shoots out, far into the future, but my real eyes see my reality. Then I get a jolt, coming back into my body. Doing my best to anchor myself: this is real, this is true, this is life. Even if I get many more film roles or get my own writing produced some things will still hold true. I’ll still sit with my brother watching tv in the evenings. I’ll still get up, shit, make coffee, and write. That’s life. That’s my anchor. My armpits will still stink, I’ll still sweat at the gym, and it will still be difficult to say no to cakes and sweets. Reality. No amount of success will take that away. Remember that.

Today is all fun. Play games, enjoy films, and go out for some Greek food later on. Even if it rains (and it sounds wet outside), that rain will be magical.

Because today it’s so easy to fly.

I ain’t that dumb

I do not feel like an idiot. That’s gotta be number one today, because so often I do feel stupid. …It’s awful nice not to be beating myself up for something or the other.

Exercise. Back at the gym on my regular rotation. Took the cross-trainer up to level 4 and blew through my first km at 6 minutes 44 seconds. Ran – RAN – more than four km in my 30 minute stint (that includes slowing down for 10 minutes of back peddling). I’m gonna break 5km in 30 minutes before I’m done! Yesterday was tough, naturally. New level, new push, far more aching in my ass muscles. It was worth it.

Language class went well. Maybe my Thursday teacher has been talking to my Monday teachers. Don’t know. What I do know is I was given more time to collect myself before answering, and not once was I given a disappointed look – even if I wasn’t perfect. The other students laughed at me; I was given a very long sentence to read aloud, and kept repeating it to try and pick up the full rhythm of the words. But my teachers nodded at me and smiled in agreement when I said ‘It’s like music’. There’s a cadence to speaking fluently that you need to master. Certain syllables get emphasized in a sentence to help convey meaning. I guess some people never hear that. I can’t help but hear it. …Was satisfied to intercept a look between two other students at one point of the class. We have a know it all (even worse than ME) who interrupts everyone so she can give her answers. I was concerned my irritation with her was purely my thing, my bipolar, my anger. No! Caught that look and I knew – I knew – I wasn’t alone. In fact, one of the people involved in the look caught my eye and smiled, bringing me into the joke. It felt good to be included. Got to say I’m now concerned about this know it all woman. Oh, she irritates the hell out of me. She doesn’t really talk to anyone during break, just sits by herself. But…I can’t help but feel for her. Cultural differences, personal differences…who knows what makes her tick? I don’t. But I do know what it feels like to be on the outside. Too often I’ve been in her shoes – the know it all no one can stand. I just…I don’t know that I want to be the one to work so hard to be nice to her. And…it was so pleasant to sit at a table with several other students, drinking coffee and chatting in Dutch. So light. I want more of that. Is that wrong of me?

…I am THRILLED to find the theatre group has collapsable knives and a prop toy gun. No worrying, no fretting, no re-thinking the death scenes. I can move forward with the thriller trilogy without massive re-writes. Yea! I didn’t really want to give up my final scene with the gun. It’s powerful. And the knives – that’s just icing on the cake. The second act can stand as is.

Ready to finish Taman today and get it off my system. Might even devote ten minutes of brain power to looking at the submission requirements.

And writing… I’m beginning to write in Dutch. I have a little story thought out, front to end. I think I can handle the language needed to write it. It’s a kids’ story, nothing earth shattering. But it’ll be my first attempt at really writing in the language. Strange, thinking in Dutch. Strange, hearing the turns of phrase in my head. Not fully there yet, but I’m close. Very close. I know this will just be another step. There’s still many more to go before I’m fully proficient. But I look forward to really trying my hand at a narrative. My own story, thunk up outta my brain.

Yeah…(extra space left for dreaming my dreams).

Two days ’til I turn 52. Really can’t quite believe that number. I thought I’d be dead by 40. No reason in particular, I just felt I was gonna die rather early. Now I almost feel like I’ve lived beyond my sell-by date. Doesn’t help when I read news of David Cassidy dying. His picture was up on my wall when I was a kid. People my age are dying. Every day. My friends and comrades are vanishing into memory. Makes me think even more over my own mortality. Makes me wonder when my body clock will go off, when I’ll hear the word ‘terminal’. Will I feel ill and tired? Or will it come at me when I’m at the top of my game? It’s the latter I worry about.

Have an appointment with my very cute physiotherapist today. Don’t really feel I need it – and that’s a good thing. I’ll push my next appointment out even further. Maybe I’ll be able to take my visits down to 4 a year. Wish I could break thru the patient-doctor barrier with him – and not just because I find him so damned attractive. He’s a nice guy, and easy to talk with. He could be a friend if the situation were different.

Now there’s something to get me into trouble: friendships with men. I prefer them, on the whole – right up to the point where the man gets a little drunk, or a little bold, and finally says to me that he’s always fancied me and why didn’t we ever hook up? Oh, fuck. I’m leery of that now. ‘Cause it’s just not there. It could be, if I gave up all sorts of ME. I’ve been sexual, and could be again. I just. don’t. wanna.

I operate best as a big kid. Bumbling around, making observations no one wants to hear, learning, watching, digesting it all and spitting it back out. I don’t want to be distracted by grown-up stuff. That’s what makes me feel like an idiot.

And I ain’t that dumb.

My writing speaks for me

Whirlwind. The dust bunnies are settling (no, I didn’t get to them) now that it’s over. What was the reason? One day of massively concentrated writing.

Taman is essentially done. A couple of typos I caught on the last read thru. But the extra scene, the additional dialogue to spin out enough time so it didn’t seem like everything happened in two days, and a few references to modify the tone here and there…that’s done. Finito. In a few days’ time I’ll take the pdf from the system and wipe it from my page.

Good on me. Good on me for thinking ahead. Had some time after the gym yesterday (never really feel like taking on a big project post workout) so I buzzed around the internet, searching for theatrical props suppliers. Wanted to know what sort of costs I was running up in the thriller, asking for a gun and prop knives. Found some articles that made me think we might not be able to get said props here in NL. Asked the group, and sure enough, it’s a big hassle. Toy guns are okay. Prop guns are not. I’m assuming at this point that prop knives are just as big a hassle. What I’ve been reading seems to indicate that.

So, knives are out. Oh, sure, maybe we could find a rubber one, but I wanted retractable knives to stab. Just wouldn’t be the same. That makes Act 2 tough: how do the two siblings kill each other? I’m thinking poison, voluntarily taken… Sad to think Act 3 might feel a little cheap using a toy gun. But I gotta have a gun. I’ve thought and thought about it, and the gun is…it’s poetic. It’s poetic and frightening and terribly sad all at the same time. The last scene just wouldn’t be the same without it.

Sat in my chair last night during telly, half watching what was on, half listing out all the ways to kill someone without using guns or knives. I like electrocution. It carries the possibility of a good scene. But it implies forethought, and these killers do not think ahead. They just kill, using whatever is at hand. Beating someone to death is basic – and I’ll use it. It will take more physical acting than I’d anticipated – I’ve got a fight scene, but not a fight to the death. Most importantly, tho, I don’t want to double up on deaths. I don’t want everyone to die from gunshots, or stab wounds, or strangulation. I want variety. Total variety.

Gotta say, spending my time looking at all the things in a room I could kill someone with is…weird. I feel a little weird doing it.

….Hm. Too bad nothing I’m writing is near water. Drowning is always a spectacular death…

On land, without forethought, I’ve got strangulation, suffocation, poisoning (a little forethought there, but I can make it work), beating to death (body), pushing their eyes into the brain (difficult to pull off without FX), pushing someone off a height, hitting them over the head hard enough with an object… There’s always variations, too.

And there’s a thought! Can we get break away bottles to use rather than the guns??? I could make that work. Easy. Make a note to check.

…Now that I think about it, I could write a drowning scene. It only takes a few inches of water to drown someone. It can be done in a sink. Hm.

Rather morbid thinking for 7:30 in the morning.

When I’m done rambling, I gots Dutch to do. Meh. Not looking forward to it. I’d rather sit and pontificate on paper. But I need to look at those verbs, and write out my homework. It gets two hours of my time before class. No more.

My bro’s been proclaiming (loudly): Don’t forget to say ‘you’re number two’. I think he’s put that in my brain at least a dozen times since my crying jag. Still don’t know how to properly say it in Dutch; suppose I should try and look it up. The idea behind it is that I’m a writer. I write. Do not ever ask me to give up my writing. Ever. For anything. Because everything comes second or lower. This is an idea I need to communicate to my Monday teachers. I enjoy being challenged – but do NOT grill me or act disappointed when I say ‘I was writing’ and didn’t study. You do not come first; you are second at best. Third, if I’m honest, because I’ll blow off all my Dutch including my class to act.

And I do not want to hear ‘you’ll never get the language if you don’t stop using English’. I’ve heard that nugget of donkey shit already. No. I’ll take longer to learn to the language if I keep using English. It’s not fucking impossible, and I won’t believe it is.

And you know what? I’m cocky enough this morning to say that I’ll eventually get the writing side of Dutch enough to do my thing with it. Maybe I’ll never speak like a native. I think I could live with that, if my writing passed the mark.

I’ve never been real good at off the cuff. I can do it, and if it’s a subject I’m knowledgeable about, I can be intimidating. But…ask me how I’m feeling, what I’m thinking at any one moment… Then I stumble. Then I say things poorly. I can’t seem to find the words to explain myself clearly; I’m too caught up in the jumble.

Which is why I write. It gives me time to think. Time to lay out my ideas – as much for me to see as for the world. Once I’ve done that, I can be as bluntly honest and quick on explanation as anyone. But not before. My verbal communication has never been strong.

My writing speaks for me.

I’ll take the stars

Well. I took my time off right to the edge. Don’t think I could have sat around on my ass for another hour without going ballistic. Headed to the gym, ready to kill anyone in my way or myself if no easy victim showed up between home and there. Did not hold back – couldn’t hold back. Impressed myself with my iron stomach muscles, easily lifting both legs off the floor and holding for a count of 10. Impressed myself again on the cross trainer, blowing thru an 8 minute kilometer and topping 3.7 km at 30 minutes. And then the free weights – DAMN, girl! Is that muscle I see in your arms? Lift, lift, pant, think about the meaning of life, lift, pant some more.

I’m going back for more today.

My rheumatologist is happy. My condition is stable, and my joints show no signs of decay since my last x-rays. Yippee. Even said I could try to take the methotrexate down if I felt up to it. Assured her that although my hair loss continues, I know I can’t go without these drugs – and if I do go bald, I’m tattooing my entire head. Got that gold star I always want from someone plastered on my forehead: good on me for exercising, good on me for weight loss, good on me for doing so much. I needed that.

Upset with myself. Realize I’ve got a mother-thing going with one of my teachers. They gave us a spot check test just before class ended – those pesky irregular verbs. Oh, the look of disappointment that crossed my teacher’s face when I didn’t get the answer correct! And the gut wrenching hit of guilt that washed over me – I didn’t do enough, I didn’t try hard enough, I’m not good enough or smart enough or – … That shit has got to stop. Right here and now. I am NOT learning Dutch from a mother substitute. I refuse. For the last 36 hours I’ve been telling myself I’m doing what I can, when I can. I’m learning faster and faster, more and more. I’ll get it. I’ll get it. But Gods! It feels like one of my old nightmares. I get surrounded by these huge, disappointed faces (in my head; I’m not actually surrounded by monster faces – tho mentally, that’s the picture I have). I feel small, ashamed, and trapped. It’s not a good combination. Working to shrink those disappointed faces down to mini-size. Being as triggered as I am, it’s a real challenge.

Bolstering myself up with my newly grown confidence in my English writing. Think I’ll take time – this morning, while it’s quiet – to read part three. Haven’t had the time to do so since I banged out the first draft. I’m already reviewing it in my head, making mental notes of changes to add. But I want to just experience it, front to end, without interruption. How well did I capture what I see?

Had a good, long, hearty laugh yesterday. Was talking to my bro (big surprise) about social situations. We’ve both got our problems. Mentioned my lack of filters, how I can’t stop blurting out these deep truths. My brother laughed, and said ‘What do you expect? You learned your social skills from an agoraphobe.’ Yeah. Dad was very anti-social. More than six people in a room and he got real nervous. As a kid, I didn’t realize this. I knew Dad was less social than my mother. But he didn’t talk about it. It wasn’t until I was 15 or 16 and we had tickets to a show downtown that I realized Dad had problems in public situations. He became more and more wound up the further into the city we drove. He was tense, angry, swearing a lot. After the show was even worse: the crowd let out, and I thought Dad was going to have an heart attack. And Dad…he said whatever was on his mind. I grew up thinking politics, religion, and sex were good to go topics at a dinner table. Had a lot of missteps with friends and acquaintances. Still do. Dad welcomed my input, welcomed me to these cultural and philosophical debates. Even, I think, wanted me to speak my mind. Why was that? Now that I think about it, why did he do that? I’m replaying memories in my head right now, and I see him encouraging me to lay out a sound argument. Back up my statements with facts. I don’t remember him acting that way with anyone else in the family. My oldest brother would say something in support of what Dad said. He’d get a nod, maybe an additional exclamation. My sister would add in her two cents: generally a snide comment, again in support of my father’s statement. And then Dad would look at me. Challenge me with his eyes. Say it, his eyes would plead. Bring out your views. Tell me how wrong I am. As I grew older, these debates would get hotter. My logic improved, my access to facts to back up my statements was wider, and I think I was cutting too close to the center at times.

Did my father think that at some point I’d change? That money would change me? Or was that part of the original challenge I read in his eyes: can you stay true to who you are right now for your entire life? Can you hold onto your innocence, your faith, your dreams, in the face of everything life has to throw at you?

In the end, Dad was very clear about what he wanted for me. I want you to be happy, he said. Over and over. Not rich, not famous, not thin, not smart, not skilled, not useful, but happy. I know happiness is a mode of travel, not a destination. I can look at life with stars in my eyes or a sour pussed expression that will ruin everything before I even touch it.

I’ll take the stars.

I love it

It’s done. Everyone is dead.

Three days of hard writing. Concentrated, like those frozen juices you can buy. It all came out in one big lump.

Part three is done. Now that the story is out of me, I realize that yes, I really did need to get that finished before I could move onto the rest. Start with the end. No matter how many times I try to write a script from the beginning and just power through, it doesn’t work. I get the opening scene done, generally…but then I’ve got to stop, and write the ending.

Ends and beginnings…I’m good at those. It’s all the in-between that’s a muddle.

But now it’s done. And it’s magnificent in its action. Plays can be…too much dialogue. It’s easy to do. Especially with so many rinky-dink groups around. They don’t have a lot of money, they don’t have a lot of skill – so it comes down to having them memorize dialogue to tell the story. But I asked! I asked. And the group said they’d be willing to give some physical acting a go – specifically, on-stage fighting. Did my best to give the story enough of what it needed without demanding too much of the actors. But someone’s gotta take a few punches in Act 3. And can I say, I envy the actors who’ll get the roles. I’ve people going insane, panic attacks, screaming arguments – the kind of roles I, as an actor, would like to have a shot at.

Well…maybe I’ll get a chance at acting in my own work. It is a small group….

Have this tickling kind of sixth sense that tells me I’m gonna create an entire report on this trilogy for the group in order to sell it. A list of props needed – with notes on what I think will work, how much I think it might cost, etc.; a list of sound needed – easily covered; a list of lighting shifts – messy to write but easily done; and a list of general things to think about, like the fight scene, or the fact that I really don’t think we should attempt to do this two days in a row because it’s so demanding.

Eh. There’s the twat in me. Write a bleeding report -! Though, considering I’m a woman who can turn yesterday’s errands and her stray thoughts into an easy 1000 word blog, I suppose it should come as no surprise to think I’ll write up a summation of the trilogy, and address every objection and concern before anyone in the group can voice it.

…Is that a control issue? I imagine it is. Already trying to take my fantasies down. Deflate the mania balloon. Anytime I imagine the play being done, the thrills, the chills, the applause – I shrink it. My head is going too far, too fast, and the last thing I want is for the group to do it and me to be disappointed because I built up this big fantasy in my mind.

And let’s. be. honest. I know where this is going. I’ve known from the start, tho I’ve been reluctant to admit it. I’m working it to a screenplay. My stories are too visual to begin with, and include lighting techniques, camera moves, and tight edits even when I’m writing for the stage (those elements are not included in the play, of course…but they do influence what I write). Not thrilled about the idea of learning how to write a screenplay. I’ve a fairly good idea of the elements needed. I did drive my brother nuts while he was in film school, asking questions, reading his homework, learning almost as much as he did. But I haven’t tried to do it yet, so I imagine my first attempt(s) will be slow and not my best work.

That’s okay. It took me almost a year of writing stage plays before this story came out of me. The screenplays may take a while. Hell! Maybe by the time I really get around to writing the screenplays, I’ll be able to do them in Dutch. Take them straight to the National Film Works right here in the Netherlands. And even if they’re in English, I’ll start there. If I could get someone interested, get the ball rolling here…

Yeah. Squash that thought before it takes hold. I’ve loads of work to do before I can start thinking like that.

In the meantime, I’m pleased as punch. I’ve painted the floor with blood, and found it lovely. My brother has begun teasing me that I’ve finally let loose the killer in me (yes, I talked scripts to him and no, he wasn’t as closed down as I’d feared). He’s started calling me ‘Castle’, after the tv program (which we both enjoy). Hm. If I’m Castle, that makes him Beckett… Wow! That mash-up hurt my little brain in so many ways, not the least of which was a flash of my short-haired bro with long, flowing locks. And high heels.

For the record, I have not gone to the gym lately. Nor have I yet touched my homework (due today). Did manage to get some laundry done, but…the sinks are dirty, there’s clutter everywhere, and things are just a bit let go if you know what I mean.

I have managed to smoke a lot. Gee. Not a huge surprise, considering the trance-like state I was in. …My ashtray is a disgrace, no matter how many times I empty it.

But look at the bright side. It’s done. I’m dripping with blood. I stand here – metaphorically, of course – a Berserker Warrior, feasting on the hearts of the vanquished. And it. is. glorious. To mentally let go of every inhibition, every taboo, every law and just…destroy. I think I understand (a bit) that mad-dog mentality now.

Everyone’s dead.

And I love it.

I’m not gonna stop

*sigh* Where do I even start?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have to come from a place of honesty.

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

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

And keep them well apart.

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

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

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

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

I like working with him.

But I’m not gonna stop.

I really don’t want to lose this

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m writing; leave me alone.

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

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

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

I have value

Sunday, and I’m still on a high from all the praise I received at the script read thru. My brother admonished me for trying to jump right back into my routine. Take it easy, he said. Give yourself the weekend to sort yourself out. Did not help my flightiness to receive a note from the producer about the first part of the thriller series.

He likened it to Lovecraft’s work. Lovecraft. That’s like…classic.

My head’s spinning to be compared to such a well known author.

Too excited and jumbled to do much, but I did make a start. Payed for my gym membership (late; it was due on the first), picked up some groceries and needed items, took out the garbage. Spent more time on my feet than I have lately due to my ankle, and I felt it. So I lolled around in the late afternoon, and seemed very much a lady of leisure when my bro returned from the comic book shop.

Ach! And I have a weird complaint. My hands are not so good anymore. The RA’s done its thing, and my grip is generally pretty weak. Seems to me I’m always asking my bro to open this jar or bottle, or pick something up for me. And just this past week I dropped a bottle, shattering it, due to a poor hold. So what I’ve got to say doesn’t make a lot of sense. But, here it is. Every once in a while, I get super-strength. Like Hulk smash super-strength. The latest evidence of this is a now ruined pepper grinder, which I apparently twisted so hard I broke the entire thing. I swore up and down to my brother that it must have already been broken, that I didn’t even turn it that hard. He just laughed at me. No, it wasn’t broken. Yes, he was absolutely sure of that. He doesn’t blame for these things. He’s seen them too often. And he knows I have no intention of breaking anything. There are just weird moments when all the strength that’s left my hands comes rushing back, and I’m more powerful than I think. Then things twist and break like dry twigs. …I’m lucky this time it was only a pepper mill.

Spent time on my Dutch. Reading. Wasn’t really going to. Just wanted to take a look and see where I was in the book. But I began reading a few lines to remind myself where I left off, and suddenly I was sitting back, turning page after page. Only one chapter to go before I’m finished. Should be able to finish up the story and write out some verb conjugations today. Meh! Notice how I left the verb conjugations for last – my least favorite thing to do. But I feel pretty good. I’m done with the writing, almost done with the reading, and (while not looking forward to it) ready to work on verbs.

Today is laundry and dishes, hoovering and dusting. Hoping to get some guilty assistance out of my brother, which is why I left it for Sunday, when he was home, rather than Saturday, when he’s at the comic shop. Could use it. The place is bit dingy. A little too much dust on everything, a few too many pieces of grit on the floor…just dingy. I think I’ll just ask my bro to help me. Why wait to see if he volunteers? One hour of his assistance will wipe this place clean. Then I can gaze around and not feel guilty over the way it looks.

That would be nice.

Been walking the calendar out, assuring myself I’ve plenty of time to adhere to my schedule and write my scripts. It isn’t the easiest thing to do. I mean, planning time – that part of it is easy. Assuring myself that I’ll stick to my plan, that I can focus and write when needed and not freak the fuck out – that’s the hard part. Seems like a lot to do. I break it down into small bits. Do this part first, then work on that. For long term things like language, that means promising myself I’ll work an hour a day. For short term projects like my script, it means telling myself to take care of typos first and then worry about re-writes. But both those ideas are like promising myself I’ll stop eating cake and cookies. I can make that vow with incredible intensity – and have just same amount of intensity pulling me in the opposite direction when the moment of truth comes. End up having to use a combination of tough love and reward system: berate myself into doing it, then reward myself for completion. I’d like to love myself into doing it, but, one step at a time. Right now, results are more important than method. It’s important to me to finish my writing. To complete the trilogy, to send out Taman. To keep going, and not let anything hold me back because for once – once! – I really know I’ve got something here.

I’ve no mother to disparage me, no father to lovingly hold me back. No DNA siblings to shame and humiliate me, or make me feel lesser than. There is nothing to make me stop. Nothing but myself. And I won’t let that happen. I won’t let me sabotage myself. Do I hear me? Because what we’re doing is too good, too well crafted to allow to go to waste. You hear me?

I’m saying I have value.