Lay it out

I didn’t ask. I laid it all out. I’ve been wanting new music for years now, and I searched online… The new CD is still expensive, but I can pick up their first for only ten euro, and I like some of the songs on that album, so I’m gonna get that. On a whim, I added: And if I happen to smell something good as I walk around, I give myself permission to buy something for a couple of euro and eat it, too. My brother: ‘Hell yeah! Here! Take this extra money for food. Go and have some fun.’

Yeah. There it was, me laying out every reason, every line of thought and justification for going out and spending money on myself, and my bro totally onboard, totally supportive, totally knowing how difficult something like that is for me.

I prepped. Ventured out. Walked among people. Looked at things. Sadly, I didn’t find what I wanted and, being Sunday, I wasn’t sure the shops downtown would be open, so I called it and came home. I picked up a meal snack and a cake snack downstairs to console myself.

So, things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to. Kind of the opposite; everywhere I went I ran into crowds of people and long lines. Kept my cool – if you don’t count rolling my eyes at the delays. For me, that’s a win. No muttering darkly from my far spot in the queue, no face of thunder as I clomped around. Nope. Casual walk, relaxed face. Just the eye roll – which was justified at the supermarket when I popped into the shortest line in the store to purchase my two items and ended up waiting 5 minutes while a guy two people ahead of me argued some charge on his receipt with the cashier. I just stood there, knowing that Murphy’s Law would kick in if I dared to move to another queue. That’s just a fact of life for me; sometimes, the Universe makes sure I get delayed somehow and no matter what I do, I’ll be delayed. I’ve found in the long run it’s just best to accept it and go with it. Supermarket queues are the pièce de résistance of such a fact. …I believe I could, conceivably, be caught in supermarket queues for the rest of eternity if I tried hopping between them.

Dreamt the other day of blood in my mouth. Just…spitting out a lot of blood. It was gross. Experienced the second bloody nose of my life yesterday. Again, just a lot of blood and again, it was gross. Not thrilled about the dream nor the bloody nose. Not thrilled they had to fall on the heels of each other: dream of red blood, experience red blood. Kind of like a double whammy.

My head is beginning to gnaw on my upcoming psych appointment. This Thursday. Doing what I can to calm and distract myself. Allowing myself to think, if that’s what it seems I need to do. Trying to keep all my imaginings in Dutch, but that’s difficult because I just don’t have a full vocabulary in Dutch. It’s about half and half right now. I think I’d like it if my doc knew enough English that I could speak half and half. Some words in English are best avoided. I can state things much more calmly in Dutch than in English. But…like I said, I don’t have a full vocab yet, so I must resort to English for some ideas. A part of me has decided to treat this like a homework assignment, and write everything out in Dutch. My ‘why are you here’ answer, which is bound to come up. My short and edited version of what I think my main problems are. How people keep telling me I’m different, immature, child-like. The anger. The frustration. The fritzes. Most importantly, tho, I want ground rules. Been thinking about those a lot. What I need to feel safe and okay.

First up: I swear. I cuss. I use expletives. While I am perfectly capable of curbing my ‘sailor’s mouth’ in company, I do find the need to burst out with bad language now and then; it’s warranted in certain situations and while discussing certain subjects. Know it and deal with it. Second: I really don’t want to discuss my sexuality. I don’t adhere to the idea that sex is the pinnacle of existence. When I drank, I had a lot of sex. When I stopped drinking, I stopped being so sexually active. Without the influence of alcohol, I meet someone I’m sexually attracted to maybe once every ten years. And I don’t want to pursue a sexual relationship for a myriad of reasons. I’m okay with those choices. I need my doctor to be okay with them, too. Third: I need to know I’ll be believed. To that effect, I need my doc to understand I’ll be telling him my truths. Truth is a tricky thing; I’ve said it before. And I know in my bones other people would have versions of their truth if they were here to chime in on these topics. What’s important is my truth, the way I saw it, the decisions I made about the world and myself. Not the lesson that was trying to be imparted, not the intentions of the other people involved. I’m aware of those other facets of existence, but none of that negates my truth. Fourth: no access to my blog. I’ll print things up, I’ll ping him PDFs, but he does not (ever!) get this address. It’s my secret, my safety blanket, that teddy bear I hold at night to feel warm and secure. No one’s ruining that for me. Fifth: He must know I’m a chronic people pleaser, which is the main reason I feel talk therapy will never work for me. I will always give the answers I think my therapist wants to hear. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to sit across from a person and get the hint that they want me to say something along the lines of this or that because I’ll do it whether or not I consciously want to.

This is the time to say those things I’ve always been afraid of saying. This is the time to take that risk.

A different ‘him’ today, but just as valid: tell him.

Lay it out.


And so are you

Yesterday’s get together with the theatre group went well. I felt unsure of myself, a little stiff at first seeing everyone again after months of being apart. But I was welcomed in typical Dutch fashion: kiss, kiss, kiss, first to the left then the right then back to the left and given big hugs. How little these people understand that these simple social graces make all the difference in the world to me. I worked to put my best foot forward: ask, listen, smile, participate, be there. Don’t go too deep into anything, don’t talk at length about my pain or problems, don’t crow about the film group or the premiere. I had a long list of what to do and what not to do as I walked in. I kept to it, and had a pleasant exchange. From time to time I wondered if others had a list like mine, those subjects you don’t bring up in casual company, those things you don’t talk about in order to make sure no one feels bad. Doubtful. I heard a bit of crowing. Well, more than a bit. But I recognized the corner it came from, and didn’t rise to the bait. I felt comfortable with my accomplishments over the break: the film, my writing. When asked about the film, I made two or three glowing comments about the crew and a self-depreciating joke about my body issues and seeing myself on ‘the big screen’. Got a laugh, and left it at that.

Left the question about my script ’til the very end, when things were winding down. The answer I received…well. The board member I directed my question to lifted his eyebrow and looked pointedly at the director. The director said ‘I’d like to do it’ and that was apparently that. The director said we need to meet and discuss the script and how we might be able to get it on stage. Hoping we can do that this week right here in my home so my bro can also sit in on it for the sound production.

But…honestly, it was the least enthusiastic affirmative I think I’ve ever received. I know the director likes it; he’s told me he thinks it’s very akin to Lovecraft (a writer he admires and enjoys), so I’ve no qualms there. The rest of the group, though…especially the board member, who was at the reading…totally flat. No interested smile, no sitting up a bit straighter as we talked because the idea just energized them that much, nothing. They were closer to a bunch of Sunday stoners to whom I’d just suggested we leave the house to get some munchies. ‘Yeah…that might be cool…’ as they sat there unmoving, eyes glued to the tv. Gee. I saw more interest in that crap play we just watched, and it WAS a crap play.

So, it seems I’ve got the go-ahead. But I don’t feel secure. I don’t feel it’s cause for celebration. Getting my first real script produced should be cause for celebration, right? No matter how rinky dink the group doing it. It’s acknowledgement, something I’ve craved for forever. But…I don’t even feel sure enough about this to actually claim my script will be done. I feel like at any moment I might hear ‘we can’t do it’ and that will be the end of it.

Maybe, just maybe, I owe the group a thanks for NOT being all excited. It was difficult enough for me to settle after I got home; just being in the presence of other people winds me up with excitement. If they’d been clamoring over my script, hyped on the idea of doing it…I might not have been able to sleep at all last night. Okay. Thanks, group, for your luke-warm response. I didn’t spaz out into a full blown manic episode (tho I did wake up with a headache). Still. I find it difficult to deal with, like the group collectively said ‘Go on, be excited about this if you want to but understand it’s you being excited about it, not us’. Didn’t help that on the heel of my question, one of the actors announced he wouldn’t be participating on stage this year, too busy, too whatever, but he’d put together the flyer for it. That makes two of our core group who won’t be on stage this autumn. And I need 9 actors for the script as it stands. Color me a little worried. I’ve seen the type of ‘actor’ that typically comes cold to one of our meetings or auditions. It’s not good.

Shuffling through a lot of thoughts. First, just get it produced. You’ve said it can be done by a group of not so great talent because the story is that good. Stand by that. Second, actor quality is a concern of the director, not you, so let that go. He’s made poorer plays with bad actors come off okay, so trust him. Third, this is not your only option. This story is too big to contain, and you know it. The podcast will go through, no matter what happens on stage. And you can always present it to your film group and work on it from that side.

Listen here, missy: you might be doing incarnations of this script for years to come. And you’re well aware of that. How many crappy LLR attempts were done before the big release? Loads. How many shitty Spider Man films got canned because they were just too cheesy? Even more. You know this. Let. it. go.

Let it live on its own. It’s good enough. Strong enough. And so are you.

Why can’t you?

Spilled my guts to my bro yesterday, including my discomfort over his dislike of B and her husband. What our conversations must look like! Two manic people doing their best to slow down, hear each other, and communicate. He has a slight advantage over me, with his pills. We got through it. Cleared the air. Got a ‘yes, it’s okay to be friends with B and her husband’ along with a lot of other explanation that I didn’t really need but I realized my brother needed to tell me. I feel better for having talked it through.

Last night was tough. I was left on my own because my bro had band practice. Happy for him; he enjoys playing music with other people. But for myself, I faced a long, silent night with no one to talk to, no one with whom to enjoy films, and no one to help slow me down. I kind of forgot about the rehearsal, too, so I wasn’t even mentally prepped for it. Usually I’ll spend an hour or so going thru our DVDs, pulling out the ones I think I might enjoy watching all by my lonesome. I’ll think about dinner, an after dinner treat, snuggling in my jammies, etc. Yesterday, nothing. Six in the evening came around, my brother said goodbye and walked out the door, and I was left with a whole lot of nothing to deal with. Took an hour to talk to myself, calm myself down. Paced and rubbed at my pants (a terrible habit I’d like to break myself of because I end up ruining all my pants in short order). Chose a film, sat, forced myself to watch and keep watching. Every time my attention wavered I pulled it back to the screen. Watched a tv program we’d recorded, too. Managed to keep myself occupied ’til 10:30 – a record for me. Usually I give up and just go read for three hours.

Still unable to really relax. Just keeping it off panic-mode.

Today I plan to get back to the gym. Nothing else really going on, and I don’t want to sit around here all day long. Get out, do something else, breathe air somewhere else. The gym fits all that, plus it gets me moving (and it’s already paid for). Then it’s back here to begin my audio book read along in Dutch. I have these tools for three weeks. No problem getting through them. The only real question is, will I have time to get through them twice? *sigh* I really want to return to my language class with another bump in my learning. Come back forming better sentences, speaking clearer, knowing more. I should just buy a set of gold star stickers and use them on myself. Put one on my forehead for communicating clearly, or on my homework when I do well. Gods! If only that worked as well for me as having someone ELSE give me that gold star!

If only I could believe myself worthy of a gold star. That’s the real problem. I can’t keep asking other people to give it to me, I have to learn to give it to myself. Maybe I need to go back to my reward system. I found it difficult to get through, difficult to actually give myself rewards. I promised them to myself. Oh, yes. But giving them to myself was a whole other thing. Being able to enjoy them once I allowed myself to have those treats was even harder. And what, exactly, to DO to treat myself? Tried taking baths; felt guilty about using so much water, sitting around doing nothing, and tying up the bathroom. Tried going out for a pastry; felt guilty about eating a sugary treat, and paying for it when there’s so little disposable cash in the house. Tried going out for a walk; that was okay, but it was too much exercise and push and not enough pure enjoyment. The only thing I really feel is a “treat” is when I allow myself to sit and read for hours at a time. But making that activity into an action dependent reward system makes my skin crawl. I don’t want to put limits on it. I don’t want to make it into a guilty activity when I’ve finally remembered the joy in it. Doing my best to use it as an after thing; head to the gym and then you can read or clean up the house and then you can enjoy your book. But I don’t want that set in stone. I don’t want to be left intellectually hungry – no, starving – again.

What to do, what to do…

…How about trusting yourself?  – Okay, who asked that? Hm. Some part of me, obviously. Well, listen, missy: a reward system doesn’t mean I don’t trust you. Or us. I just want one in place to help us. And, c’mon…we deserve a treat now and then. We work hard. This is me trying to be nice to us. Why are you making it into something combatant? That’s not what it’s meant to be. If you/I look at it as something negative, it won’t work. Can’t we say we did a good job? Can’t we have a treat of some sort, pet ourselves in some manner, pat ourselves on the back? Why do you feel like we don’t deserve that? Other people do things like take vacations, for fuck’s sake! They take down time. Why can’t you? …You’re worth more than that, you know. You’re worth knowing, worth having around. Other people can see that.

Why can’t you?

The last vestige

Start to heal, and feel worse. Anyone else suffer through this? Three days on the anti-viral and the exhaustion hit me – couldn’t stay awake for anything. Now, it’s a stuffed nose and cold-like symptoms. Joy. Reminding myself to feel happy about it while I cough and blow my nose, tearing through the facial tissues in the house until all the garbage cans are full of my used product. It’s coming out of my body. The nose blowing, the navel goo, the exhaustion…all side products of this illness.

Gods, healing is gross.

Sent a text to my teacher, telling her I had shingles and wouldn’t be coming to class. Waited nervously for a reply. Kept thinking she’d tell me no one wanted me back in class after my outburst. Went through the whole thing in about fifteen minutes: shame, guilt, anger, acceptance. Finally my phone jangled with a note: get well, and we hope to see you next week. I find my reaction and…well, everything that’s going on worth mentioning. Because I’m getting this reply from the teacher I call Ms. Hard Ass. Make no mistake about it: she IS a hard ass. But I think she also understands me better than most. I think she’s sussed out that I’m bipolar, maybe a bit autistic. And I think she’s dealt with this type of behavior before. She was the only one who dared to continue speaking to me normally after my outburst. I remember her even asking ‘may I point a few things out to you?’ before giving me some corrections. Of all the people in that room, I feel she’s the one who understood what was going on with me, so her kind reply is doubly appreciated.

Been imagining me apologizing to the class. I have to; it’s the only way I can work up the nerve to do it. Have to add that my imaginings always seem to include someone (one person in particular) piping up with ‘suggestions’ on how to stay calm or stay healthy or whatever. Assumptions, really. The same sort of thing I have to suffer through when someone tells me of some home remedy for rheumatoid arthritis. Dudes! I studied herbal remedies. Whatever you’re going to tell me about, I’ve tried it or looked into it and decided the science can’t back up the claims. Don’t lecture to me about eating right, or sleeping, or getting exercise. I’m on top of all that. I’ve been juggling this illness since I was 10. I dealt with it undiagnosed for 25 years, and now diagnosed for another 17. I’ve done more than you could ever imagine. But it always comes up. And I have to paste that smile on my face, the one that hurts even me to use (can’t you SEE how unhappy I am with what you’re saying?), and listen, and say ‘yes’ and ‘really?’ like I’m truly interested because doing anything else is viewed as rude. Very few people seem to understand how rude it is from my side. …I understand I’m being triggered. My experience with apologizing has been that the apology is never really accepted; I must go through lectures and reminders for the rest of my life. So I’m naturally leery. Afraid it’ll happen again. It’s hard to remember that there are people out there who aren’t gonna react like my family. Doing my best to offer myself alternative fantasies: apologize, and have the apology accepted. People smile and nod at me. I am forgiven. I want that, and I want to trust that it’ll happen. It’s the last part I’m snagged on: trust.

How can I trust S and the film crew so easily, yet be unable to trust other people? I’m having the same issue with the theatre group. I don’t trust they’ll follow through with my piece. Or am I asking the wrong question? Is it ME I don’t trust in these situations? Do I feel incapable of taking criticism, of hearing ‘no’? *sigh* Again, my experiences are not great. I’ve rarely had the thing known as ‘constructive criticism’ given to me. Rip you to shred criticism, yes. In abundance. Meant to hurt you as much as possible criticism. I’m afraid of that. It hurts. No matter how much of it you get, it hurts. Maybe I’m being a drama queen, but it does seem I draw more of that to me than most people. I’ve heard things like ‘you can’t even write a grammatically correct sentence; don’t even BEGIN to think you’re a writer’, or the always deadly ‘gee, you’d be really pretty if you just lost 20 pounds’. That’s not even mentioning the times I was called childish, ignorant, stupid, arrogant, and just plain wrong in every way imaginable (and no, my inner defeatist attitude is NOT something bred in me, but moulded onto me – these are simply echoes of things I heard about myself growing up). So yes, I’m touchy. Begin to attack me personally and I’ll go off on you. Point things out to me calmly and without judgement, and I’ll be fine. I don’t think I’m asking so much there. Am I?

If life is a mirror, then I’m in trouble here. Because things point to the fact that I’m too judgmental. If I feel judged, then (by mirroring standards) I must be putting out too much judgement. …Oh. Well. I DO judge. I’ll admit to thinking ‘gods, people are STUPID!’ about three hundred times a day. And I judge my mother, and my sister, and all my family. I judge them all to be lacking, and all to be dangerous to my mental stability. *sigh* Yet it’s only after leaving them – finally leaving them, all the way through me leaving them, not just in words or distance leaving them – that I’ve met people I can love. I’ve found places I fit in, even if it’s just a short film shoot. I’ve gained self respect.

My doubts and fears…they are just the remnants, the last vestige of the damage done.

Damned if I know

What is it now, Ralph?

If only I had a simple answer.

Positives: color is returning to my face. This is a symptom I should have paid more attention to. Been whiter than white for more than a month. So white, as a matter of fact, that the make-up people had a hard time matching my skin tone on the film. You’re so pale! Even the lightest foundation is darker than your skin! And yes, I’ve Irish blood somewhere in me and yes, I’m blue-eyed and fair haired so I’m naturally pale, but this went far beyond my usual skin tone. The return of a pink flush to my cheeks has made me aware of the fact that no, I’m usually not that pale when I’m healthy. Please remember for next time; make a note if you have to! My brain function is beginning to return to normal. Felt…foggier than foggy. Unable to keep any line of reasoning or thinking going longer than a few moments. Couldn’t remember what day it was. Kept reminding myself, then forgetting. Read how this is a symptom of shingles (when it’s bad). It affects your nervous system, and brain function can get wobbly. I was defo wobbly. Not 100% yet, but better. My bowel function is returning to normal. This is a biggie for me. My mother, C, died of colon cancer and I’ve been worrying over it for a while, a bit too afraid to see the doc about it and a bit too worried to just blow it off. A few days of anti-viral meds and my morning bathroom break worry is a thing of my past; things are normal and everything looks very healthy.

Wondering now how long this was creeping up on me. I’ve read you can suffer from a shingles outbreak without the blisters. Has this been going on since the beginning of December? Even earlier? Hindsight diagnosis says the possibility is there.

Icky and gross: my body is leaching out whatever made it ill – from my navel. Caught a whiff of something foul yesterday, something beyond the normal unwashed body of a few days’ illness. Took me a while bodysniffing (not something I’d recommend you do in public) to discover it was coming from my bellybutton. I’ve an innie. The skin is red and raw, and when I cleaned it some thick yellow goo came out. First thing out my bro’s mouth was ‘haven’t cleaned the lint from your bellybutton in a while, huh?’, but the answer is no, I keep up on body cleanliness and I do remember my bellybutton. It’s not shingles blisters, either – those hurt. This doesn’t hurt. If it hurt, I might have found it earlier. This just stinks to high heaven. Keeping it clean, and putting on a salve for the raw skin.

Other: my time problems have caught me out. It’s Sunday already. Tomorrow is my Dutch lesson, and I need to think about the note I’ll be sending to my teacher. Feels like I’ve lost a day or two. In effect, I have. Being too out of it to realize what day it is counts as ‘losing time’. The week that seemed so long when the doc handed me a ‘script for all these pills is now short, short, short, and almost over.

Up and coming things to freak out about: heard from the theatre group. A notice went out calling everyone to a reading of my script. A notice that (I noticed) had much closer dates on it than the attempted get-together to watch the vids from the play. Read through the trilogy yesterday. It’s sound heavy, and if it was anyone but me at the helm I’d say it’s too much. But while reading it through, I saw the places where things could be changed. I heard the small versions of the sound effects in my brain. I took everything down to a minimum in my imagination. And the story still works. Stilted acting, obviously fake props, smaller sound than I’d written, and I believe the story still stands strong. I’m nervous the rug will pulled out from under my feet. That the group has wound me up on the idea they’ll do my script, when in reality they won’t (for whatever reason). I’m trying to prepare myself for that let-down. Ach! I don’t trust these people. I’m trying to. But my connection with the theatre group is miles away from my experience with the film group. It was so easy with the film group. All of us pulling in one direction, together. The theatre group is very individualistic, each person worried about their lines, their appearance, their performance, to the neglect of the others. We do not operate as a group. Some alliances can form during work, but they’re tenuous and liable to shift in the next role assignment. It makes me nervous. And edgy. Telling myself that when the time comes for us to sit down and read my script through, I should say that. Tell them I’m nervous, tell them I really want them to do it. Put it out there that I’m vulnerable on this project. It’s my baby. That serves two purposes. One, it helps me start with a clean, honest slate. Two, it’s a bit of a test. It puts the ball in their court. They can rake me over the coals and throw me on the junk pile, or they can hear me and work with me. Their actions will tell me much. It’s the fact that I have to put myself out there in the first place that I hate. The risk of being hurt once again. I will do it, no question about it. But I am reluctant and afraid. Never think otherwise.

Horses and cows, violence and abuse… These things from my childhood are jumbling up in my brain. I’m trying to make sense of something that, in essence, makes no sense.

What is it now, Ralph?

Damned if I know.

Take control

Time is beginning to collapse. Always happens around year end. You wait and wait for the holidays. Maybe you even enjoy the lights and songs and food of the season. Then sometime around the 18th of December, time crumples and suddenly it’s on you and there’s zero time left to do anything.

I’ve got that feeling. Keep telling myself I have ample time to write, ample time to flesh out the stories, ample time to allow myself to feel better before I begin, but I can’t shake it. Driving me nuts. My head is always half writing, half imagining death scenes and dialogue. Been told by my bro to smoke it down more times than I can count – and he only sees the half of it. He doesn’t see my pacing or hear me talking aloud to myself when he leaves the house.

Two things today: exercise and writing. Been slack on both, and it’s time I get back to it. I need to start walking again. Get me back on those treadmills. And I’m just gonna dive in. Today my bro’s headed to the comic book shop, as usual, meaning I have the entire day to myself – and I’m NOT gonna divide it between pacing like a mad eejit and allowing my head to blank out to some film. Back to part one of the thriller for re-writes.

Re-read the first part again. It’s good. It’s tight. But I can make it better. Most of what I’m facing is easy, but I know my editing will shorten the length overall and I don’t want to lose time, so I need an additional scene. That’ll take a bit more work, but I’ve already thought it out.

How do I market this if the theater group in the states does the original version, and then I re-write it to be part of the trilogy? No flipping idea. *sigh* I’ll just be thrilled to have my work performed.

And I’m thinking ahead. What’s the next story? What do I tackle now? Another tidbit to drive me bonkers. Finish this first. Deal with that later. I’ve a list of story ideas and a folder of weird and unsolved mysteries. More than enough material for another script. In a way, that’s okay. I mean…it’s maddening, and distracting, but it also means I’ve thought out the thriller long enough that I feel it’s old hat. I know the story. I don’t have to think it out again and again. All I gots to do is type it out.

Manic, manic, manic. I’m on a spree. A mostly contained spree, but a spree nonetheless. No wonder I was clamping down on my jaw. I can’t stop my head.

Deep breath and slow movements. Small steps. Same prescription as I give myself for depression: keep going, but slowly. Don’t jump in any direction. Always move with caution or you’ll hurt yourself. And always, always, rest. Be kind to myself. Give myself props for what I can do rather than tear myself down for what I can’t do. …Sounds great on the page, but in reality my head’s putting up a lot of resistance. Scribble noise. If I was using paper and a pencil, there’d be a big scribble mark on the page. Just…frustration given form. Not so easy when you type. But trust me, it’s there.

Beginning to feel off. Out of sorts all the time. Thought I was doing better, feeling better, so I tried some pizza for dinner the other night. Talked normally, laughed. Woke up the next day feeling worse. More drugs. Back to soft food. I suspect the morphine is increasing my manic feelings right now, that antsy can’t quite sit still sensation that keeps me up and going even when I’m tired. Fairly obvious I still need it, tho. Monitoring my water intake, my food intake, my sleep, my pills… I need an assistant just for that. And when I’m not squirrelly tired, I’m so out of it I don’t even hear my phone ringing.

Hoping an hour’s walk will help. Or start to help.

I guess it all comes down to trusting myself. Right? I’m afraid of all the hang-ups that could rear their heads. I’m afraid of my upcoming dental appointment, that it will send me back into searing pain and start the entire cycle again. I’m afraid of spending my holiday nursing said pain, and not writing. …Yep. As if in confirmation, I just got hit with pain on the right side of my head.

Fine. Break it down.

Part one: the areas I need to re-write are already highlighted. I know what to do. The only question is the additional scene, and that – rightly – I should leave for last. Max words to that final scene: 1000. Max time: 2 hours. Time on other re-writes: 3 hours. Even with taking thinking breaks, that puts part one done in two days of work.

Part three: done. Stop thinking about it.

Part two: still fluid. However. I have the first version, and can re-write from there. Have to flip around the characters, female to male to accommodate the group. Have to modify the death scenes; I know what I want now. But the basic story, the creep factor…that stands as is. Even if I take a week with it, which I suspect I won’t, I’ve got the time. More than enough time. Everything else – production notes, sound and lighting cues – that can come later, when I’ve got the green light.

So stop. counting days. on your calendar! Rest! Get back into the swing of your life. Walk on the treadmills. Take your pills, baby yourself. You’ve got this. You can open up those files and tinker with the scripts any time you want. Do it today. Prove to yourself how easy it is, how little time it’s gonna take by doing some right here, right now.

Don’t let time push you around like a wimp. Take control.

May I have another?

Behold, the knees. I’m on the left, with the grey socks. My 21 year old co-star is on the right. After cut was called yesterday, we went up to change clothes and compare bruises. Don’t know how many times we ended up doing the death scene, but as you can see, we put everything we had into it.

This has to rank as the number one experience of my life. Been trying to think what might even come close to topping it, and I’m drawing a blank. The dedication of these young film makers – barely any sleep, push, push, and keep a great attitude. The sheer professionalism of them, from the camera work to the thought behind the shots. And damn! They were all so nice. I think I’m in love with each and every one of them.

That love translated into good work. When it came time for the big scene I drew it up – the tears, the despair over watching as your own child turns and kills you. Time after time. It was right there, behind my belly-button, and all it took was a bit of breathing. M, my costar, locked eyes as I went into it. And the further I went, the further she went. We began to feed off each other – the kind of thing you hear about on celebrity talk shows. The room faded, the crew were a background noise. It was the two of us, staring into each other’s eyes, falling into a world of pain and torment. And it. was. glorious. The best work I’ve ever been able to do, because everyone around me was that good.

…To be able to do that… To have an opportunity like that… I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how much it means to me.

Oh, Goddess! And to work with an actor who could match me!! That was another world. Gone were any inhibitions, any doubts. Had the director asked us to strip naked to do the shot, I think we could have without blinking an eye. That’s how intense and personal it was.

My hands never stopped leaking an oily sweat the entire shoot. That was the mania: uncontrolled, and oozing out of me even when I didn’t want it. But I didn’t shake. I didn’t falter. I didn’t back down or compromise. And it all got funneled into the role.

And there’s a story within a story here. Because not only was the shoot itself fabulous, the time around the shoot was fabulous, too. We did the filming at the home of the casting director, and her parents were around for most of the time. Her father honored me several times – he tried my homemade cordial for my voice, loved it, and promptly shoved some money in my hands to buy two bottles. He shared a family photo album of a trip to India. He spoke to me of his daughter, and his life. And his daughter! Oh, she’s a bright one! Found myself, as usual, spilling my guts in that no-nonsense way I seem to have these days. She said, ‘It’s kind of like therapy for you, isn’t it? I can tell by the way you say these things’. And yes, she’s right. I knew that a while ago. She’s just the first person to bring it up. She also told me how difficult it was for her to think of me as 52. ‘You’re very young. Like part of you hasn’t aged at all.’

Oh, I’d love to spend more time with her, and with her family! Good people. Straight talk, unafraid to say those things that need saying. Unafraid to hear what I have to say.

…I’ve had a taste of being a film star. Not just in name, but truly being a film star. Because it’s not what you do, it’s how people treat you that makes all the difference. I can only assume this translates into whatever field you study; that finally getting the accolades and notice you’ve worked so hard for always feels this good. I have been passed over so much – wait! I’ve allowed myself to be passed over so much! better! – , and these past two days are a big wake-up call on that front. Gratitude. Real gratitude for who I am and what I do. I feel accepted. In full, and without having to apologize for my weird sense of humor or the funny voices that sometimes burst out of me or anything else I do.

This is amazing. Absolutely amazing.

And all I want to do is fall down on my very bruised knees and scream THANK YOU! at the top of my lungs because prayer is far too quiet for what I feel.

This is me, actualized. In total. Giving it my all. Burning the way I know I was made to burn. Not turned away. Not ignored because other people were uncomfortable or didn’t know what to do or say. I was watched. I was admired – and TOLD. I was – dare I say it? – loved as much as I loved. I saw it and felt it. I was hugged not because that’s what you do at the end of filming, but because our emotions were overbrimming, because we knew we’d all shared something special and unique.

…I’ve no real plans, other than showering and babying my injuries. Thinking of maybe making a surprise visit on Monday to the set. I still owe the casting director’s dad a bottle of my cordial, and, well… As I was saying good-bye, and telling everyone how sad I was that it was over, someone said ‘you could always come visit on Monday’ and that’s just been turning in my brain overnight. I could see everyone again. Take care of the cordial, and pick up the lights. Drop off my expenses.

The more I consider it, the more reasons I find for going one more time.

Thank you. May I have another?


I murdered four people before breakfast yesterday. One I poisoned, and watched him twitch and foam at the mouth before his head fell onto his plate. One I suffocated, holding a cushion over her face until long after she stopped moving. Two I knifed, slipping the blade in like I was sheathing the damned thing, until they fell to their knees, blood dripping from their mouths.

And it was glorious, glorious! I wrote like one possessed, and for all I know, I am.

My day out at the comic shop seeing the guys was fine. Spent most of the time talking to E, which is becoming a habit – but E just volunteers some time in exchange for a few comics; the rest of the guys are actually trying to make a living out of the shop, so, you know – I get it. While I’m kind of sad not to talk with everyone, I’m always happy to see so many customers. Means the shop is doing well, and the guys have a chance. …Gotta admit, I kind of begrudged the time on the way there. The place is all the way on the opposite side of the city, two metros and a 15 minute walk away. Takes me an hour to get there, and that’s if I make a quick metro connection downtown. Couldn’t help but think that I should be writing during that time – I left the script just before I killed everyone off, and was hot to trot to get to some mayhem. Somehow that begrudged time off was a good thing (again). I’d been fuzzy on how, exactly, everyone was going to die, but I found when I boarded the metro for the long journey home, I’d worked all that out. I knew not only how to kill off the four characters I was writing, I also knew more about the final installment of The Terror Trilogy – that’s what I’m calling it. Catchy, no?

Got to the gym for a decent sweat. Didn’t push. In fact, I was off the cross trainer early because I felt something pull by my ankle. Figured it was from standing in the comic shop for three hours the day before, stationary, talking. Did my abdominals, the treadmill, and the free weights without any pain.

Came back and read thru Taman again. Hallelujah! My head is now so deep into my new script that I was able to read it with fresh eyes. Found a couple of lines to change, and one typo that escaped my previous perusal. Bothered by one line of dialogue. It fits, it’s tight, and it works – but I believe I’ve borrowed the line, or paraphrased from something else. Gotta modify that. …Think I may pass that script onto J for a read. I don’t know if I’m still just very invested in my characters, or if I’ve really written something this engrossing. All this time after writing it (I know; real time isn’t long but writing time IS) and I’m still tearing up at certain points. It’s poignant and heartfelt without being schmaltzy. Or so I hope.

Tonight is rehearsal for the upcoming play. Looked again at the schedule, and found I’m paired with the director’s girlfriend almost every damned time. Ugh. The one person I don’t want to see again. For one, their bit isn’t really that funny. For another, it’s her… So I’ve decided three things. One, I’m going stoned. Two, I’m bringing an emergency joint. Three, I’m leaving as soon as the rehearsal part is over and they begin talking about money and jobs and everything that triggers me.

My brother surprised me yesterday. He’s made no bones about the fact that he does not like the theatre, he doesn’t think the play sounds funny, and he just doesn’t give a damn. I’ve been making sharp remarks now and then about it. Oh, I understand…and I know he doesn’t like theater in the first place. But I wanted him there. It’s not like I’m guaranteed to bring in a bunch of friends! I’m bloody well asking shop keepers and practical strangers because I still haven’t broken thru that Dutch barrier to real friends. Anyway…I knew the sharp comments were petty and small when they slipped out, and chided myself every time something came out of my mouth. My brother…he said he’s coming. Coming to film me, so he can put it up on the internet. Part of that, I know, is just his wanting current stuff to promote us on our site. The other part is the part more important – the part that realized this is important to me, and whether or not he actually likes the damn performance, he’s going to support me.

Oh, and let’s face it all, shall we? There’s a third part to his compliance: a chance to play with his new phone. He’s been hooked on it non-stop since he got it (it really feels like a modern household; he even watches television glued to the damned thing).

…I’ll concentrate on that second part…

No more excuses, no more dithering. This week my language lessons start. Haven’t picked my books up at all over the break. Been trying to tune into conversations and what I hear on tv, though. Lately, anyway. Trying to get my ear back into hearing it. I’m intimidated by it again – though I shouldn’t be. I know it’s there, somewhere in a file marked ‘Dutch/Nederlands (which is an improvement, because it used to just be marked ‘Dutch’). Just gotta access it, and trust. Trust to my memory and my intellect. Trust that I’ll fuck up a few times because I’m rusty. Trust that it’ll be okay, I’ll pick it back up, and in reality my brain never stopped working on the language even though I haven’t opened a book in weeks.


Sick of it. Literally.

Felt it start yesterday afternoon. The scratchy throat. The cough that hurt. This morning I awoke with full blown laryngitis, an annual side-effect of my summer allergies. I’m sucking lozenges, gargling with salt water, drinking juice, and taking it easy.

Suck-ola. Found myself getting angry at my doctor without ever actually visiting: I’m well aware that if I made the foray over to her office and actually wrangled an appointment within the next 48 hours, I’d be told to suck lozenges, gargle with salt water, drink juice, and take it easy. The only reason to go is to have medical proof that yes, once again I am ill. Seems I must justify myself to the medical community before anyone takes me seriously. As usual, I’m physically drained with this, and don’t want to do much more than vegetate in front of the tv. So, as usual, I’ll do that first line of defense on my own and see if it clears itself up.

Script: 4000 words and climbing. I’ve barely begun act 1 scene 3, and have a lot of territory to cover in the next 2000 words. But I’m allowing my characters a bit of verbosity. Easier to cut than to stretch a story. I like my soviet agent. A lot. She’s menacing without being outright threatening. My characters are fleshing out and surprising me. One is funnier than I expected. Another more vulnerable than I thought. And it’s not just the women; the men are more than I expected, too. These disparate roles are ready made for personal conflict.

To round off my life, my brother is on a kick of disregarding me and my personal space. Dirty dishes left piled in the sink. Washed dishes left in the rack, never put away. Miscellaneous shit, like an extra water bottle I’d emptied and put aside for personal use. Oh, was that yours? I didn’t know. Well, did you put it there? No? Then what makes you think it was left there for you? Did you imagine Santa Claus came in overnight and left you a present? Hanging his rain-soaked clothes directly over my face towel, thereby soaking said face towel with underwear and sock drippings. Get the picture? Feels like I don’t exist, my work doesn’t matter, and half the time I’m just in his way.

…Was gonna write ‘I’m sick of it’ and then I realized I really AM sick of it. Literally. Funny how that happens so often in my life.

Well, let’s make this a short illness. Pick up the box of tissues, the lozenges, the water, my pills, and head off for a nap.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

3 (not so) Easy Steps to Trusting Yourself

  1. Say  you’re going to do something.
  2. Do it.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2.

I’m gonna do something. Don’t state unmeasurable goals. Don’t say ‘I’m gonna lose weight’ – there’s no time limit and no weight stated. Say instead ‘I’m gonna go to the gym three times a week’ or ‘I’m gonna eat a salad every day before I have my dinner’. These are concrete and measurable goals.

Do it. No excuses, no alibis. Commit, and follow through. As long as you follow through, no self-bashing allowed. If your head starts to berate you, saying ‘Sure, you went to the gym but you never even worked up a sweat’ or ‘Great, you had salads but they were slathered with dressing’ – tell your head to go to hell. The trick to part 2 is just to do it, not do it well, not master it or get it all done in one go. Just DO it. All that crap your head is telling you in step 2 should be shoved off to step 3.

Repeat steps 1 and 2. Now is when you master it. Now is when you find your stride. In the repeats. It’s called practice, and everyone needs it. Push a little harder at the gym. Use less salad dressing. Take what you began with in step 2 and build on it.

We have this weird self denial going on: sometimes – even when we know a thing will take a long time to manifest – we act like it should be happening instantaneously. I see people at the gym like that all the time. They come in, they put heavy weights on, they power lift for 20 or 30 minutes, and then they don’t come back for a week or more. Or someone ‘diets’ for a week and expects to see a big change in the scales.

If you’re making a real change in your life, it’s long term. Long term not just to get there, but also to maintain.

And kiddies, trust is all about long term.

If someone with a perfect track record fucks up – badly – even once, …well, you doubt him or her next time, don’t you? Even if you don’t want to. Even if that person is your closest friend. Some part of pipes up and reminds you of that disaster and the possibility that it could happen again. Same is true with yourself. Fuck up on a commitment to yourself just ONCE, and you’ll have to work twice as hard to regain the trust you just lost.

Two tips:

  1. Start small. Build your trust in yourself like you would with a child. Ask yourself to stand up, first – not run full out like an Olympic champion. You’re a baby. Stand up and keep your balance, then give yourself a gold star. Yeah, it’s tough. Tough to tell yourself you’re doing well when you feel a fool, or when you feel you should be able to do more. Ignore it, and praise yourself. After you stand, take a step. Then two steps. Expect to fall on your ass more than once. Get up, and try again.
  2. If it helps, make a list. If you’re a self doubter, a self hater, make a list of everything you want to accomplish every day, like a grocery list. Then check ’em off. At the end of the day, praise yourself for all the checked off items. Move unchecked items to tomorrow’s list. Keep at it.

The good news: once you begin to establish trust with yourself, it snowballs. The process becomes easier.

And just like anything else, keep at it. Fail a few times. Take time off from it. But always – ALWAYS – come back to this basic equation. It’s a key component to life, and one most of us aren’t taught.

Take it upon yourself to learn it.