Pearls before swine

I’ll start with this morning, ’cause it’s in my face.

Another uncle comment. This time, it’s a ‘You need some coffee’ with a Google link to coffee houses (NOT coffeeshops) in Amsterdam after I called him out on NOT being funny and NOT making a joke. Here’s my reply:

What does my caffeine level have to do with our discussion? And why are you trying to change the subject and blame me for your poor “joke”? A joke is supposed to be amusing – yet your original statement, “I won’t be in that area then” isn’t amusing, it’s simply a fact. There’s no cause for laughter. No cause unless you feel uncomfortable for some reason. Shifting attention to my caffeine intake is simply a distraction from your discomfort. Why are you uncomfortable? ..Plus, get it right. I live in Rotterdam, not Amsterdam.

I’m proud of my reply. Called him out on it. Kept my cool. Even left with a little jab about him getting the city wrong. Ha fucking ha, uncle. Are you laughing now? I’m particularly proud over pointing out his discomfort (several times) and calling him out on his attempt to distract and blame me.

You wanna play games? With words? You DO know I’m a wordsmyth, right? Plus, I was taught by your sister – my mother. Your OLDER sister. The woman who knew every game you ever played and one upped you continually.

You ain’t gonna win.

I said I fucking had it with this shit.

…NEWS ALERT: Just had a notification from FB. An instantaneous reply from my uncle. DAMN! I really got him. Here’s his reply (including the typos; he was obviously in a hurry to say what he needed to say): “I was hoping some caffeine would wake you up and you would see my joke…;.clearly you have seen my joke all along. And….I won’t br in Rotterdam to see the show either.” Oh, I’ll continue with this charade. If it winds him up so much he’s got to reply the moment he reads what I say, I’ll continue.

Give him a little tit for tat. Generally I’m against that type of behavior, but some people just don’t learn!

Onto happier things.

Three point seven kilometers in thirty minutes. Wanted to write that out, because it deserves that much respect. That’s topping 7 km an hour on the cross trainer. And I felt flipping tired. Have the last several times I’ve gone to the gym. But I keep amazing myself, pushing more and running faster than I ever imagined I could. I believe soon to be 52 year old me could easily lap 22 year old me. Upped repetitions on my arms. That’s difficult, and I have to stop often and take a break. Still hate doing my abdominal exercises, but I might be ready to add a few more crunches to my routine. Walking is, as always, the easiest – though I’ve got to confess I feel awful slow walking at 5km an hour after running on the cross trainer. Find myself wanting to pick up the speed on the treadmill. Haven’t, yet.

Feeling strong in my body, my mind, and my soul. A bit unshakeable. Like I’m suddenly too together for anyone (including my uncle) to get under my skin. I like this. If this is the level other people operate at, I can see why they don’t understand when I fall apart. Doesn’t give them license to be assholes about it, but I get why they might not fully understand why someone like me struggles so much. It’s easy to let things slide off your back when you’re here. World trouble? Yeah, always is. Emotional turmoil? Yeah, it’s a pain, but what are ya gonna do? Financial trouble? It’ll sort itself out somehow. All those pat answers spewed ad infinitum via memes suddenly make sense.

I blame the endorphins. I’m getting a regular blast of them when exercising. And let’s face it: they say ‘peptide’ and ‘hormone’, but in reality they should say ‘drug’. It’s an all natural drug, I’ll give you – but it’s a drug. You get a drug response, it’s addictive, you need more to keep getting off – it’s a drug. More: it’s a drug I like. So I keep pushing to get it. Now…doctors get very pleased when they hear about an exercise regime. Oh, good! You’re getting regular exercise, toning your body, and losing weight. What could be better? No one acknowledges the drug interaction in your brain, unless it’s to say something like ‘well, exercise is GOOD for emotional turmoil’. Why is it that a drug naturally produced in our bodies is better or good, while drugs we take are bad and evil? I just don’t get that. It’s a drug, either way.

Blanket fucking statements. They ruin the damned world.

Today, I work. A few errands to run, and I plan on using the travel time on the metro to read Dutch. Then it’s time to tear into Taman. Make those changes I keep talking about. Start arranging a read through. Want to read through the play I’m doing, too. Keep my lines fresh over this break. And I need to call for an adjustment to my shoes (more Dutch; ugh!).

First, though, I will fashion a reply to my uncle. He doesn’t get the last word on my page. Even if that means this discussion goes on for another year, back and forth. And I know what I’m doing. I’m staying coolly disconnected. I know the necklace is tearing, and the mud is thick.

I know I’m casting pearls before swine.

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Kill them all

How many times have I woken up far too early, thinking ‘I should have just killed them all’? More than I care to count, and this morning numbers among them.

Funny thing, my morning moods. Never know what’s gonna come out of me. Sometimes it’s hate – pure, unadulterated. Sometimes it’s understanding – a compassion I often lack, but always aspire to.

This morning, it was a no-nonsense approach.

Replied to my uncle. Simply wrote “What’s so funny that you put ‘LOL’? You didn’t make a joke.” Straight up called him out on it. It’s a method I’d prefer to use on a daily basis, but I must admit my own emotions often get in the way. Today was a mix of disgust and anger, cooled by the knowledge that he couldn’t touch me, couldn’t hurt me, and nothing he was going to say (or no tirade he was going to throw) could ever really affect me.

To quote a sample used in a very old song I participated in, I’m sick of this shit.

So if he’s mean, I’ll tell him he’s mean. If he’s wrong, I’ll tell him he’s wrong. If he’s an ignorant shit (most times) I’ll have to find the courage to say that, too.

Fuck “saving” this relationship. There’s nothing to save but a board my family uses to strap me down to while they whip me with lies and old, unrelated shame.

I hate them.

Shoulda taken one of the hundreds of guns they keep ‘in stock’ or ‘for sporting purposes’ and blown every single one of their heads off. That includes the small children, because I know from experience that if they were raised in THAT family, they’re fucked. Forever. Might as well free their souls and let them try again.

That’s horrific, isn’t it? A terrible thing to say or think (or at least that’s MY knee jerk reaction).

Stuck in the usual place: hating, and hating myself for hating so much.

…Spent time yesterday doing all those chores I haven’t done for a month. Cleaning. Ev-er-y-thing. Laundry, dishes, floors, cabinets, bedroom, toilet – you name it, I did it. Not perfectly. It was a nice day, and a Saturday, and I didn’t want to work that hard. Got it back to livable standards. My bro’s radar was on full blast when he got home. First thing out of his mouth? Wow, look at how clean everything is! Walked into the toilet: Wow! Everything shines! Yeah. Funny how appreciative he is of cleanliness, yet how reluctant he is to join in on the work to get there…

Today it’s back to the gym to be stared at as I stretch, and sweat, and push. Watched a recorded Graham Norton show last night during which a guest commented that she doesn’t have very good eyesight, but that worked to her advantage because audiences just became a blur. I can relate. My eyes aren’t terrible, but my long vision is fuzzy. Things are soft. All the ugly and hard edges are taken off, and the world is one big bouncy castle. Much different when I put on my glasses or stick my contacts in! But I don’t wear my contacts or glasses at the gym, so everything is in soft focus. I can’t tell if people are looking at me or just in my direction unless they happen to be close enough. And any facial expression of shock…well, that’s just blurred away. It’s as good as blinders. I don’t register anything directed at me, so I act like nothing is directed at me. Unless someone actually speaks to me, I’m totally alone in my head.

But I gotta admit…I might start facing the wall during my stretches. ‘Cause I now know they watch me. For sure.

Haven’t found the head space to begin work. Determined first to make the changes I know I want to Taman. That should take all of an hour if I’m really slow. Then it’s on to part 2 of the thrillers. Know what to change there. It’ll take a re-write, but hey! When I know what I want, a re-write barely takes any times at all. Been cooking up part 3. Bringing back a character from part 1. Have a particular actor in mind for this role – one of the troupe I’m working with. Not sure why. He’s not a great actor. Not even very good. But I’ve seen him in a couple of things now, and…he’s getting type cast. If there’s a gay man, he’s the actor playing it. Always. Great that they want a real gay person playing a gay person, but…he never gets another role. And they’re always the same type of gay person. Flamboyant. Never anything else. The character I’m writing for him IS gay, but not flamboyant. And he’ll have to stretch. In part 3, he’s close to a nervous breakdown.

Realize as I mull over the trilogy that I’m asking a LOT of this troupe. It’ll take more than memorizing lines to pull this off – but in them I see the desire to do more and, oftentimes, the boredom over not being challenged. Am I projecting? I realize those are MY emotions. But now I see the tiny habits of everyone. The surreptitious phone checking, the whispering, the fidgeting and distractions. The yes, we can do this and it’s fun but it’s not really challenging us attitude. And I sense they’ve worked, as a troupe, in one direction: improv. They stress it, they’re good at it. I want to see them stretch in another manner.

I want to see them act.

It could very well end up a disaster.

But I’ve my ace in the hole: sound. I know exactly what I want and how to get it – plus I’ve the skill and equipment to do it. Set your audience on edge with sound, and the acting can be a bit sub-par. It’ll still work.

And I really want to do this. Why? Because in my writing, I really did kill them all.

No One Makes it out Alive

Success. Responses to enquiries, searches that reveal that yes, Virginia, my press release about the upcoming performance is out there. Sadly, there’s only half a dozen sites in Rotterdam written in English – but I hit them all.

Headed to the gym early. The woman never showed. Kept an eye out for her – which is why I saw, for the first time, the way people look at me while I stretch. That woman is not alone in stopping whatever’s going on and standing still with a slightly open mouth while I move. Everyone in the gym did it at some point during my warm-up. Don’t you people stretch? – Oh, wait… You don’t. I ‘member now. You’re all about jerk lifting heavy weights, and running on the cross trainer for 10 minutes. Yeah…

There’s not much reason, in my opinion, to be jealous of me. I’m not super beautiful, or super fit, or super rich, or, (seemingly) super talented. Just a bit of this and that. But my flexibility…Now that I can acknowledge as a thang. You can be jealous of me over that: next month I hit 52, and I can still take my forehead to my knees and straight down to the floor while stretching. Don’t know anyone who gets turned on by that, nor any way to market it as a talent and make money off it. But it’s mine, and when I stretch deeply I automatically begin Ujjayi breathing – a thing I learned long ago as a child, watching Hatha Yoga on PBS. I focus. It’s one of the beautiful feelings I can create in my body without thinking or trying.

Surprised to find more energy in me than I expected. Did my full-on work-out, no holds barred. Pushed hard, sweated loads.

Doubly surprised then, to find myself pacing at 7 p.m. Up and down, back and forth, maniacally stalking the tiny walkway in the apartment. I was unsettlingly unsettled last night. My bro was out at a band rehearsal (second band; they REQUESTED his uber talented presence – yea!) for the evening, so I was solo for tv time. That never goes very well – I prefer, in the evenings, to have someone with me so I can talk to them and have a bit of companionship to slow me down. But I expected, after such a push at the gym, to be tired.

Ha! 

Had to force myself to slow down. Forced myself to sit in the chair, watch the film I’d chosen. Forced myself to keep lighting up (thought: good Goddess, something has to slow me down!). Took it down to reading. Quiet, still. Relax, I told myself. Finally began feeling less manic. Slept.

I’ve time off from language lessons this coming week. Need to read thru Taman and make a few corrections and changes. Also need to begin the process of a read-through. Ask the teachers if they’ll come so I can use a classroom at Erasmus. Set a date. Get emails out.

But what I really want to get back to is my thriller trilogy. My experience with the theatre group has made me re-think a few things. What I once envisioned as three stand alone one-acts that have an arcing storyline are now expanding for the stage. I’m pulling the surviving characters through the one-acts for continuity. Wasn’t part of the original plan. However, while performing this play I’ve noticed what people have said to me. The number one thing people comment on is my tiny cameo in Act 3, where I’m seen dancing at a party held in the other room. Part of that, I know, is because it’s the last time they see me on stage. But there’s a definite glee the audience gets, seeing a character from an earlier story inserted into a later story. It offers a thread of continuity to the audience, and seems to bring the entire play into some sort of reality: this is the real world, and people’s paths cross. Here you go; proof. Okay. Good. I’ll use that. It’ll take a bit of re-thinking, but the basic story lines can hold.

Might use the following as a tag line for the production: No one makes it out alive. It’s a good overriding line for a thriller trilogy done over Halloween – though I’m concerned it’s too old hat and cliche for my production.

…It’s not a bad tag line for life. …Damn! I might have to get a T-shirt with that on it. Just for me.

Reality check: another comment from my uncle on FB. Ugh. Meh. Not even sure if I want to honor it by deleting it. Maybe I should just let them stand, without comment, and let the world see what a fucking eejit the man is. This one was strange. Or, at least, I found it strange. Re-posted one of my press releases from a site I successfully loaded the info into. This is not the first post about the play on my FB page. Maybe the 10th. Something must have finally clicked with my uncle, because for the first time he’s commented on it: “I imagine this will be funny….sorry, I won’t be in the area then. LOL”

LOL? Um…I realize he probably thinks he’s making a joke (which is weak in and of itself, because there’s nothing joke-like about his statement), or that’s what he’d claim. But is it really? I see a pandering to me in the first half (I imagine this will be funny: note, though, the comment is in general and not directed towards me or my acting ability) and a discount in the second half (he lives half way around the world and I never imagined for even a split second that he’d come for a performance). Pat on the head, and a slap in the face. Or so I see it.

For now, it stands without reply.

I got bigger fish to fry.

‘Cause it’s true. No one makes it out alive.

Yes, it is

Two weeks from Saturday is our last performance of the play. So I checked. Did a Google search – even setting the search parameters to the name of the play and the name of the group. Found a couple of notices on page one…in Dutch…for the first two performance dates. Nothing for our upcoming show.

It AMAZES me how all these business school teachers (who all say ‘yeah, yeah, we know all about marketing’) fall off the bus when it comes to actually doing any marketing work.

And maybe the director doesn’t want the group too big… He said that during the last performance. Doesn’t want the group too big, doesn’t want things to get out of control, doesn’t want to step aside to allow other people to do things with the group. Okay. I get that. But we at LEAST want to break even, right?

I sure as hell don’t want to continue ponying up money for the privilege of performing.

Found the group’s write-up about the play in English on their FB page (had to HUNT for it). It was half a press release – all teaser info but no facts. So I did what I do: I fixed it. Added in the missing data. Corrected some clunky English. And found half a dozen online Rotterdam agenda sites that’ll publish the info for free. Spent half an hour on the headline… The play isn’t well known enough to push that as the opener. The playwright isn’t well known enough to push that aspect. The group isn’t well known enough to carry the headline. In the end, I choose ‘English Comedy in Rotterdam’ because I’m posting to English language sites targeting ex-pats and I figured those four words were the most important in the entire thing. It’s in Rotterdam, it’s comedy, and it’s in English. The info is already sent to two places, and I’ll tackle the remaining sites after my language class.

Had a real surprise yesterday at the gym. Went in for my second day in a row (yet another attempt to raise my activity level). Saw, out of the corner of my eye, a woman watching me while I stretched and warmed up. Sure enough, she came over and began talking with me.

Surprising enough to me that I slipped into Dutch like a comfortable shoe. Didn’t even bother with my traditional ‘my Dutch isn’t very good’ line – she got that from my stilted use of the language. But we communicated (she spoke very clearly). Talked, even! She asked me about the exercises I was doing. Did I make them up, or did I learn them somewhere? A bit of both, I told her. Then she asked if I knew of any exercises that were good for a person’s balance. I actually had the audacity to question her – is it your hips? I asked, remembering the word for ‘hips’. Yes, she told me. Ah! We’ve the same problem. Do you go to the physiotherapist? Yes, but she doesn’t like him and he’s not doing her any good. How about these exercises? I asked, showing her the three golden rule exercises my physiotherapist gave me. Never saw them before. I walked her through them, told her to do them every night. When are you here? she asked me. I want to come back and exercise with you.

Wow. Seriously? This hip heavy old woman? You look at me and think ‘yeah, she’s got it together’? Don’t get me wrong – I’m pleased as punch. Pleased to have an opportunity to get to know someone, pleased to pass along what knowledge I do have about staying in shape, pleased someone thought that much of me. I’m just really, really surprised.

What I’m NOT thrilled about is the idea I’ll be opening up my head space during exercise time. Exercise time is a very inner thing for me. I’ve got the best drill sergeant I know under my skull, and all I need is her egging me on and really loud, fast music in my iPod. If I’m helping someone else, though, I won’t be able to lose myself in loud music. I’ll need to talk, be present…which will be DAMNED difficult, because I blast the music and close my eyes so I don’t HAVE to be uber present in my body while it works and sweats.

Saw the woman talk to a few other older women as she left the gym. Oh, nelly. In a few weeks time will I be writing that I’m leading a handful of mature women through some basic stretching and yoga exercises?

As long as they let me be on the cross trainer. That’ll be my one rule. I get on that machine, and no talkie-talkie with me. Let me sweat. I’ll be done in 30, and very pleased to help you then.

Sounds reasonable.

Also, in my searches for websites to post the press release for the theatre group, I stumbled across a call for writers. Writers in English, right here in the Netherlands. It’s all free lance, pay as you go, first come first served on story ideas. But I’m thinking I might give it a go. Even if I only get one or two stories a month, it’s something. A bit of cash to get my hair cut. Maybe I could take my brother out to dinner for once. Pay for my own metro card top up.

And isn’t it nice to get some sort of recognition for your efforts outside of your own head?

Yes. Yes, it is.

Shallow footholds

Breathe.

My uncle, who claims to have been “inoculated” against bubonic plague (yes, you read that correctly; he’s that ignorant) is on the commenting rampage again. This time? A superfluous comment on a post about the theatre group’s last performance. No idea what was going thru his mind…if anything. The damned post was in English, but he seems to have translated it. A tag that caught his eye was ‘Friday in Leiden’, which was a reference to our Friday night performance in the town of Leiden. His comment? What’s Friday in Leiden? Free day later? – or some such nonsense. Deleted it. I’m not talking to someone that stupid.

Saw a Graham Norton show on which a guest said he loved Twitter because ‘it was created to wind people up’ and he found ‘winding people up was a lot of fun’. I believe that puts my uncle’s behavior into a nice box. He enjoys winding people up. If I was his child and went to him to complain about being bullied, he’d say what those people always say: Ignore it. Yet, when I do that, I receive all sorts of negative comments about how immature I am, how I can’t even hold a conversation, etc. etc. Same double standard their president is trying to pull, and it’s the same obvious bullshit manipulation.

My brother has this idea that he’ll post the video of my performance and somehow THAT will open up my uncle’s mind. I expect flak. Bullshit wind-up comments. Back-handed compliments that aren’t really compliments. Stuff I’ll delete immediately, because I don’t want to deal with it.

Reminding myself I must apologize to the group in case anyone saw his comment. I’m sure my uncle would be angry if he knew I felt I had to apologize for his behavior. But I do feel it. I feel I must apologize for much of what Americans say and do.

Now THAT’S sad.

Language class: oh, I’m a prat and I know it. Brought along the book on Anne Frank that I finished reading. I believe that’s what prompted the teacher to ask all of us for impromptu book reports. I was the only person who had read more than a few pages. Swapped for a new book – a detective story. Lots of words in there that I don’t know. But that’s good; picking up meanings while reading is the BEST way to get it into your brain. Sometimes I have to resort to the dictionary, but hey! I did/do that with English, too. There are always words you don’t know. Did pretty well with my homework. A couple of mistakes; that’s okay. I learn even more from my mistakes than I do simple repetition. Really appreciate the level of this class. High enough, but not too high. Stressing what I need stressed. Feel myself falling into my student mode: open, accepting – almost like a sponge. Absorb first. Question later.

It’s a decent mind-state to carry into the world.

Keep telling myself I’m gonna cut back on smoking. Keep failing. Keep making excuses for myself, too. I’m still stressed from performing (true). My system hasn’t settled yet (true). But I’m bending the rules, being too easy and forgiving of my bad behavior. It’s got to stop.

Going to the gym today. My big excursion into out there. Want to come back so worn out I can barely keep my eyes open. Want it. Need it, even.

Keep telling myself to hang in there. Just a bit longer. A bit longer to what I’m never sure. Success? Easing of some of the financial restrictions? I’m afraid things might get worse before they get better. Once again, I have tumbleweeds rolling thru my e-mail. Not word ONE on my script, which I sent out a month ago to half a dozen places with very high expectations. Winter is coming on, which means more watching my health and being all over hand washing and juice sipping. All of that is discouraging, as are the bills that come in unexpectedly, throwing our budget out of whack.

But doors are opening. Just a crack – enough to get my foot in. Checked the film website my acting partner told me about and it’s everything he promised. Casting calls for all sorts. Already found one I’d really like to apply for. Need to get my info online. Told my bro about it, because there’s plenty of calls for sound engineers, something he’s more than qualified for.

Do not want to jinx myself, so I’ll just say all of this is on the table. As is the production of my scripts via the theatre group. Stepping slowly, cautiously. Nothing is settled or for sure, so there’s no real reason to get worked up. There’s just…interest.

Another note: J, the other feminist in the theatre group, asked for my blog address. I was thrown, dithered a lot by saying it’s nothing, just my empty thoughts. Truth is, I was and am afraid to share this blog. Whether or not I have anonymity, I feel as if I do, and that makes all the difference in how I write. But with my last post on sharing, I wonder if I’m being a bit hasty to pull back on this issue. How better for someone to understand me than to read my words? Must say, I’m honored that she cared enough to ask. That alone weighs heavily on the ‘give her the address’ side.

My head keeps playing back compliments I received for my performance. Particularly compliments from the group, because these are the people who’ve seen me do it over and over. These are the people who’ve heard some of my opinions, talked to me, gotten to know me a bit better… Truth is, I have no idea what they might say about me when I’m not there. Last autumn, I was a fly on the wall, so I know shit happens.

They might end up being very shallow. But even a shallow foothold is better than none.

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13 hours.

Home at 1 in the morning. Excited, because Leiden went well. Really well. Maybe the BEST for the group as a whole.

My feet hurt. My voice is iffy. Hope I won’t lose it completely. I’m tired, even after a decent sleep.

And I’m triumphant. Did the Universe take all possible positive comments and roll them into one night for me? Seems so. Two guys were pleasantly surprised to find my normal speaking voice wasn’t that horrid accent I do on stage. People loved this and that about my performance. But the best? Well…the group is getting more and more comfortable with performing and with each other. I’ve got this bit in the third scene – I’m supposed to be dancing at a party just outside the door, and the audience sees me every time the door opens. So I took it up a notch. Last night, every time the door opened I was a bit more drunk. Saved the best for last; even told my acting partner I was going to try and throw the actors on stage a bit. The curtains parted, my hair was bedraggled, my lipstick smeared, my shirt buttons were open and I staggered, took a drunken stance, looked straight at the director’s girlfriend (who was holding the curtain) and asked very drunkly ‘What?’. She told me later the scene went on longer than she wanted because she was laughing at me and couldn’t turn and let the audience see. In fact, she told that story to everyone at the bar afterwards and she couldn’t stop laughing even then.

Made me feel real good. I think, maybe, I’ve diffused any lingering resentment towards me through humor and honesty.

Other: J, the South African actress who is my fellow feminist in the group, told me she thought I was cool and wanted to keep in touch. YES! I might have FRIENDS out of this, as implausible as that may have seemed to me a few months ago. And my acting partner clued me into a Dutch website for actors to find parts in films. He told me they’re always looking for English speaking/American women.

Three weeks to chill before the last gig of the year. Defo everyone is planning for further performances next year. Hope to get up to Amsterdam to a theatre that will actually pay us to be there (including travel costs).

The only thing I’m planning for this weekend is finishing my homework, which should take me all of 20 minutes when I put my mind to it. Other than that, I am slothing (bloody hell; spell correct doesn’t like that but shouldn’t it be a verb?). Putting my feet up, maybe soaking them if I feel like pulling a warm foot bath together. Watching films. Not getting out of my pj’s unless I’m forced to. Not planning on a gym visit, but I’ll go if my body tells me it needs it. Juice, soup, naps, games. Sloth.

These upsets to my schedule are hard on me. 13 hours yesterday away from home, away from my comfy chair, not smoking (Gasp! I know! 13 hours with no toking! Though I did  have an emergency J on me just in case). Can’t help but feel it’s worth it. I’m happy, up, jazzed, and feeling great after a night full of positive, light-hearted social contact.

Laughing is so much easier in a group than it is alone.

That’s a lesson I’m taking with me. I tend to be a hermit, usually by choice. But with other people, with unexpected things being said and done…well…let’s just say I’ve long noticed that I don’t laugh out loud very much if I’m alone.

Laughter is something you share.

I like laughing. I like the way it makes me feel. I like making other people laugh, too.

So my path is clear.

Time to open up my world and share.

Thank you, me

Time off is a good thing. It gets you out of your rut, changes things up, adds a bit of excitement to your life. It also screws mightily with your schedule.

After more than a week off from hard exercise, I was a bit worried I’d find myself slow and weak at the gym. While I admit my arms are like a baby’s – more flab than muscle, so they ARE weak – the rest of me was more than up to the test. Took it easy; still have a performance on Friday. But I fell into my run/jog on the cross trainer, falling only a little short of 3.5 km in 30 minutes, without a hiccup. Kept an eye on my heart rate (at my age, I feel that’s a public service more than anything: make sure the old lady doesn’t keel over from a heart attack). 120, 130, 140. Then a push and up to 150. Yes! Seems that’s the magic number for me. The sweat pours out of me and the endorphins must kick in because it – all of it, from the sweat to the burn in my legs – feels good.

*sigh* The full force of my addictive personality really leaves me feeling bummed. But I guess I should pat myself on the back; at least I’ve found an outlet for it.

Today is a physiotherapy visit. Haven’t seen my guy in a while – busy with the play and too poor to pay for a visit. Think I now know how to handle my visits. I can keep a good 8 weeks between appointments as long as I keep active. However – wait; I should say HOWEVER – if I have more than 2 days down due to illness or injury, I need an appointment. All it takes is 2 days for the pain to creep back in. The flip side of that is that all it takes is 2 days of movement to make me feel better. And that’s good…great, in fact. But there are times when 2 days of movement is beyond me. Hence, my need for physiotherapy.

Besides, do I really want to give up an occasional visit to the cutest guy I know?

Nope.

Got through half my Dutch homework. Still have 4 letters to write. Spoke up in class when yet another ‘you’re having a party, write a letter to your friend’ homework task was handed out. Can’t we please do a letter to someone else, about something else? How about a complaint to the electric company? Something like that would be more useful. So I got an extra 2 letters for my outspokenness. Good. I do well with homework, and usually have the time. May I have some more, please?

Something has clicked in my brain with Dutch. Was aware of it last night as I watched tv. I like Dutch tv; they run plenty of English programs with Dutch subtitles. Right from the start, I read the subtitles (or tried to; they go by fast for a beginner reader). Doing that has helped me figure out the meaning of many words, particularly when watching a cartoon or program for younger audiences. I see words repeated, hear words repeated, and pretty soon it becomes evident that this word means thus and so. But some sentences have always confused me. Too many words, too many ‘je je’ or past tense verbs or other things I just don’t understand. Last night, though, it was like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle were slid into place. Suddenly no sentence seemed too much: here’s the subject, the verb, the modifiers, the helping verbs. Instant recognition, even if I saw a word I hadn’t encountered before.

By jove, I think she’s got it!

…My mood has improved. Obviously. That’s two references to favorite childhood films.

Thank you, me, for going to the gym and working so hard. Thank you, me, for sweating and pushing through the wall. Thank you, me, for being so committed to our health that we get to the gym in the first place. Thank you, me, for listening to our concerns, taking them into account, and being careful with our body.

Most of all, thank you, me, for trying so damned hard.

Limits

Finally a bit of real rest. Didn’t feel like I slept after opening night; it was a light sleep, at best, with several times coming to and thinking about the matinee performance. I wasn’t alone. Everyone was dragging yesterday.

Flubbed. Missed lines, experienced that wonderful brain fart feeling – which, as I said later, really DID feel like my brain fell down somewhere around my ass leaving my head completely empty… Still got laughs, got through it. Still feel okay, though I know it wasn’t my strongest performance.

Had two people come to see me yesterday. Whoohoo!!! Two people! I wasn’t sure anybody was gonna show up. Felt real good to see them after the show, to have someone I sat with and talked with while everyone else chatted with their friends. Talked so much and so long the lounge emptied around us and we didn’t even notice. The director had to come and get me to help everyone strike the set.

Yea! Friggin’ yea! I know in the grand scheme of things two people aren’t a lot, but it’s good to know I’m not a complete social pariah. I can meet and make friends, be social, and have people HAPPY to come and share in what I do. That feels real good.

Got to talking about my writing, because I’m known by my pen name with these…friends? Can I call them friends? I hope so. Anyway, they know me by my pen name. The name I perform under in the play is different, as is my real name…Beginning to think maybe all these pseudonyms aren’t the best idea. Makes me look a little psycho. At the very minimum, it’s telling as to how much I hate being me. But I digress. Talked about scripts and read throughs. Told them about the Night Witches script. One of them knows some Russians from Russia, and said she’d ask them along. DAMN! Could I get a better sampling for a reading? Don’t think so. Very excited by the prospect. Had to warn her that I wrote it for Americans, so heads up to the Russians: don’t expect a lot; more than half of it is educating the audience. Crossing my fingers they appreciate my approach and like the story.

All this is good, because at the moment I feel very cut off online. My spam filter is working better than ever, but the upshot is I’ve had days go by without anything new showing up in my email. Not sure if an empty inbox is better than an inbox filled with spam. At least with a lot of spam, you know the world thinks of you as alive. You feel remembered…even if it’s just by advertisers.

Barely a clean pot, pan, plate, or spoon in the house. Garbage and recycling have piled up, too. The plants are gasping for water. And the dust bunny population has exploded. Will try to get to the big stuff today and tomorrow without hurting myself.

Language class later. Gotta try this morning to switch into Dutch. Maybe do some reading. Right now my head is all English.

Need to get back to the gym, too. Keep moving, keep that back pain free.

*sigh* Taking care of myself is a full time thing.

Friday I head to Leiden for another performance. Good news is, I have a lift. Bad news is, I’ll be going at noon and having another long, LONG, full day. Those are hard on me.

One day at a time. Lots of daytime appointments this week. Gotta buy new false eyelashes (found the limits on wearing falsies; the lashes fall out after a while). Catch up on a bit of rest each day. Do some laundry, chill, and run lines so (I hope) I don’t have any more flubs.

Couldn’t do this full time. Couldn’t do a play six or seven times a week plus live a life. I mean…one weekend gone and the house is a wreck, nothing’s clean, and I’m pooped. Good to know: if I ever DO get an opportunity to do more, it’s got to come with enough money to buy me help. A maid to come in and tidy up the house, a personal assistant to help me keep everything together while I perform. And a bleeding chauffeur to drive me around so I don’t have to sit at the theatre for six to eight hours at a time.

Good to know my limits.

Gravy

Recoup.

Not sure what to say about the first night, other than it’s over. It went well. No major flubs, everybody got laughs. I feel a bit flat…

My bro got to the theatre early, around four. Hung out the entire night, talked with the director and other actors, and generally was someone who was ‘good people’, in the words of the crew. His good behavior was rewarded with meeting a dude into heavy metal, music, and recording (the sound engineer).

Did not think the first skit got the laughs it deserved…I deserved… Watched the vid last night, and came to the conclusion my brother stated earlier: the first skit has to warm up the audience. Of course they’re laughing a little less; this gets them in the mood (plus, it’s before the break so no one’s had a beer yet).

Things I’m pleased about: got compliments. That’s always nice. One was a back-hander, though…A woman who’d come to some general theatre group meetings showed up. Her comment? I watched you in the meetings and didn’t think you’d be very good…but you are! You’re a really good actress! Um…thanks? Decided that’s a statement that really needs to be appreciated for its sugar rather than its sting. Watched the vid my bro made. While some of the dialogue from the other actors is lost because the lines were said too quietly, my sonic timbered voice cuts through no matter what. Every word, every nuance, clear as a bell. The audio will need to be stripped, cleaned, and compressed to make everyone heard. Everyone but me. I feel good about that, tho it’s nothing to do with my performance. That’s just my voice. It cuts like a knife’s edge. I can make it softer, and generally do in normal conversation. On stage, though…Let’s just say it would take a really BIG theatre and a really BIG audience for me to need a microphone. Other: I’m damned proud of my portrayal. Wendy is perfectly natural. The vocal interjections, the nervous habits, the way she walks and talks…none of it forced, none of it unbelievable. For thirty minutes, I am this woman.

Got lifts in and back yesterday, and will have the same today thanks to my acting partner. That takes a lot of stress off me.

Stealing moments in between scenes to talk to the other actors. Finally talk. Found my co-feminist, who spoke up with me on Sunday’s dress rehearsal, to be a kindred spirit in many ways. Hope we can kindle a real friendship there. I don’t care if she doesn’t live in Rotterdam; I just want to stay in touch, maybe hang out once in a while. She likes bad horror films, she knows MST3000, and she smokes. I mean – DAMN! If I find out she likes punk music I am SO gonna bug her to be my friend.

Up a bit early today, but I’m getting picked up at 11:15 and I’ve got to pull my stuff together. Last night was just a toss-off: toss off the clothes, the make-up, the hair clips. Gotta find everything this morning and re-pack. Have breakfast, brush my teeth, get my contacts in, and start thinking Wendy again.

I’ll rest tonight.

Staying positive. Making sure I support everyone else. Smiling a lot. Mostly, having loads of fun.

Opening night is over. Now, it’s all gravy.

I’m ready

Dutch is a tricky language to learn. Any native will tell you that. Not only do you need to learn how to pronounce their ‘G’ without spitting on anyone, you also have to figure out the trick of spelling. In most cases, spelling isn’t bad if you know the combinations of letters and their corresponding sounds. There’s just one problem: the Dutch like to use d’s and t’s at the ends of their words, and both letters are pronounced the same. Is it a D? Or is it a T? Or one of those pesky words that uses both?

There’s a rule for that. Thought, at one time, I got it. After my lesson yesterday, I’m so fucking confused I don’t know if I understand it all.

Suppose I should feel good about all this: my lessons have surpassed my Thursday instructor. I’ve gone where she can’t follow. She’s got all the conversational skills, sure, but like many Dutch natives she doesn’t know the finer points of spelling or grammar.

Received an apology at the end of the lesson. The other student showed up, and conversation was limited to simple Q&A because she’s let her language skills slip so much. Barely got into my homework questions, and those that were looked at ended up confusing my teacher and muddling my own understanding.

At the rate this is going, I’ll be ready to teach beginner Dutch in six months.

Took the rest of yesterday off. Needed to let my mind rest, needed to let go of the irritation I was feeling. Good thing, too. My bro came home from his language lesson angry as all hell, so I let him vent. He’s not getting what he wants out of his lessons, either. He’s given stuff to read, which he struggles through, but there’s no correction or time taken to answer questions. I get that these instructors are all volunteers. It’s great to just have enough warm bodies to fill the positions needed. But there’s got to be some sort of structure everyone follows.

And shouldn’t instructors take some basic test to make sure they know how to read, write, and speak correctly?

Went out to FB today to make sure I didn’t have any comments from a certain uncle and found my page changed. I can’t comment on anyone’s posts. Don’t know if that’s some block that’s put up on me. Shouldn’t be. I don’t comment on anyone else’s stuff most of the time, and if I do it’s supportive. I’m not the troll. Also, when I visit someone else’s page, I only see part of their home page. Used to see the whole thing. What up wit’ dat? If it’s across the board on FB, okay. If it’s only me on my page, I must protest. …Sometime. When FB becomes important enough in my life to protest…which, granted, may be a while.

Staying out of the rain. Keeping warm. Resting, but moving enough. Had a very satisfactory POP out of my back last night. It’s what I needed: the spasming on my side eased off immediately. This morning, as I write, I have no pain. Glorious! No pain! This boost of physical comfort is still not enough for me to break my health cordon. Oh, I want to go. Go to the gym and work hard for two hours, feel that exhaustion. But no. 36 hours to go to curtain up. I’m no fool.

My bro is hoping to get a tripod for his phone/camera today so he can film my performance. *This is me feeling an ass for ever saying he doesn’t support me and he wouldn’t come to the play.* I hope things go well. No doubt over myself, just other people. Is that my trust issue, or just my good sense? Well, if anyone gripes over not doing as well as they want to, the group can bloody well let my brother in for free to film it again (if he’s willing to sit through it again, which I’m not guaranteeing). I do not look forward to seeing the camera’s perspective on my body. I always wince, no matter what my size. Then again, I always see myself as a whale no matter what. Or I have in the past. My only comfort is that this character is supposed to be awkward in her skin, and THAT is something I know how to convey.

Well. The excitement-o-meter is beginning to ramp up. I can feel that dump of adrenaline in my system. What do you know! I still get that feeling. Maybe as a kid it scared me. Hell! Horror films scared me as a kid. Now I love ’em. Same sort of thing: what once might have sent me over the edge is now something very familiar, very intimate. I know what to do with this. Concentrate on calm. Get to the gym, yes, but only for a walk and a stretch. Focus. Pack my bags for tomorrow. Take a shower. Make sure my outfit is ready. I’ve rituals at my fingertips, and plenty of smoke for when my rituals run out.

This is it; the final countdown. I’m ready.