Trust your core

What’s your core like?

There was a time when I’d go to the gym and avoid all the hard stuff. You’d find me on those machines that isolate one muscle in your legs or arms, pumping away. But you’d never find me on the floor, holding both legs up, breathing in. Good golly! Voluntarily lift both legs up off the floor? Do you know how difficult that is?

But things have changed. I’ve changed. I no longer dance around the outside of life, trying one thing or another. I’m in the core. And I’ve found, to my surprise, my core is very strong indeed.

Yes, I’m back at the gym and feeling damned good about myself. I’m also making a metaphor.

A word out to anyone reading right now: if you’ve been struggling – and it doesn’t matter with what – and you’re still trying, good on you. Your core is strong. Stronger than you probably give yourself credit for. Those of us with issues tend to focus on our negatives; I struggle so much or It just seems twice as hard for me as everyone else. True. And you’re still trying, aren’t you? You’re still seeking solutions. Give yourself a pat on the back, no matter what your ‘trying’ looks like. Because most of those people out there who make you feel bad about yourself…they’re the ones who are weak. Their core is so flawed they have to try and steal some of your strength to even begin feeling okay about themselves.

…Been thinking on a friend I lost to suicide. She keeps popping up in my brain lately. Don’t know why. I’m not one of those people who mark the date of death down on a calendar and mourn every year – tho I can always tell you the season a person died in. I can tell you what the weather was like. Isn’t that odd? I can tell you my father died during the heat of an American Indian summer. I can tell you my mother died in the still crisp air of a Wisconsin spring. I can tell you I heard the news about my friend during the heat of summer. But dates, months, years…those I’d have to search out.

Generally, tho, if I can’t get someone or something off my mind, it’s important in some manner. Since I don’t know what this particular someone is doing in my brain, all I can do is put my first thought out there: if you’re thinking about it, please don’t do it. You don’t go thru your suicide; everyone else does. And you will be missed by people and in situations you could never even imagine. That’s the problem, too: you can’t see it right now. These words are for you. I’m telling you there are people in the world that care about you. People who’s lives will be greatly affected by your death. You imagine it isn’t so; you think your death will cause no fuss or muss in anyone’s life. You’re wrong. It will be something that never leaves the people who love you. Never, ever.

And your core is much stronger than you think.

…I have a crazy theory. One not based on scientific observation. One that is purely gut instinct. I think there are two types of people in the world, broadly speaking. One is prey, the other hunter. And I think those of us with what’s termed mental illnesses are the natural hunters. Thousands of years ago, we’d have been the warriors. The protectors. Our nervous energies and multi-faceted (and sometimes paranoid) thinking would have been spent every day by chasing animals, setting traps, fighting. We have very little outlet for these natural tendencies in the modern world. And the way I see it, it’s the most natural thing in the world to turn these tendencies inward where they fester. We end up hunting ourselves, worrying over every thought, every desire. We are told our natural fight instinct is wrong in today’s world. We must learn to be passive and accepting. Here, take this pill. And do NOT misunderstand my words: I am all for medication. I credit it with an awful lot lately. Plus, let’s face it: some aggressive tendencies need to be curbed. But medication doesn’t do it all – not unless you’re in a straight jacket and they’re pumping you full of shit that’ll whack an elephant out. So, I’m going to try a new way of thinking. I’m going to hunt life.

What, exactly, does that mean? I don’t know. I’m making it up as I go. I do know it involves seizing more opportunities, doing more. I know it involves making conscious choices to be happy. Turning my brain away from negatives and emphasizing the positives. That’s particularly difficult for me because no one ever taught it to me. But like the Dutch language, it’s something I need to learn. Not because it’s mandatory. Not because anyone is on my ass about it. But because I want to.

It is a choice I’m making based on my core. Based on a deep strength I’m finding within myself. This is the part of me that stopped me all those other times I contemplated suicide. This is the part of me that went to the doctor and admitted she needed help. This is the part of me that loves the mornings, that talks to birds and trees, that wakes up with hope in her heart.

To all the fellow hunters out there: I know the need to test yourself. To find out for yourself. I also know the traps hidden within that search; we are all too good at our natural hunting instincts to not lay traps for ourselves. You are strong. Hunt life, not death! Go after it with all you’ve got. After all, what have you got to lose? If you’re already contemplating ending it all, you’re on that brink. You’re not afraid to gamble.

Trust your core.

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On the Construction of Reality in a Psychoactive Realm

Be careful what you write.

We all make our own reality. We weave it every day: this is my life. I get up, have breakfast, go to work, lunch, come home, eat dinner. This is my family. These are my friends. This is my reality.

And we’ve all been told about manifesting our fears and thoughts: think something bad will happen, and eventually it will. Continually tell yourself you’re a horrible person and you’ll find yourself doing horrible things.

We can think ourselves ill or healthy (tho sadly there are fewer in the latter category than the former). We can move positively into the world or negatively. If you’ve got your eyes open, sooner or later you figure out that you’ve created your life. Yes, bad things happened to you. But this is it: your story. How you write it is up to you.

Now, writing is tricky. Not just the mechanical side of it – tho there are loads of writers out there who prove with every word that the mechanical side of it is no walk in the park. But if we can manifest things into our lives (good or bad) through our thoughts, why should we think it any different with writing?

In other words, can we create something simply by giving it enough attention?

Think on the Slender Man. Two girls lure another girl into the woods, stab her 19 times, to impress the Slender Man.

And what of our Gods? Do we not create these entities at least in part by our thoughts, our attention?

Not a new question, I know. But as a writer, I find it a valid one.

I have begun writing about the grove. Or, trying to. It’s the first bit of writing other than this blog or my homework that I’ve attempted in quite some time. Naturally, I’m incorporating my experience in the story. Honestly, it’s creeping me out. It creeps me out to think about it, partially because the damn thing is located near where we have rehearsals. That’s how I ran into it in the first place. And I’m going down there a lot lately. So I have to pass it by. I’ve not seen it cut down again; it remains the grove. That makes sense; if the city actually came thru and cut it down to the ground, if I actually saw it and just didn’t hallucinate the entire thing, then it wouldn’t be on their rotation for several years. It might get on a planting rotation. How I’d like to see that! A crew down there, all ready to clear away the last of the rubbish and begin new planting only to find it all grown up, trees ten feet tall and fully formed. Anyway. I am thinking of it, and what lives down it, and growing more and more uncomfortable with each thought.

But I don’t want to stop writing the story.

Oh, I know! This is the horror story set-up about the writer who couldn’t leave well enough alone, right? This is where the entire audience sits up and says ‘How stupid! I’d never do that!’ Yeah. I’d be right there with you in the cinema.

But this isn’t a cinema. There isn’t any swelling music foreshadowing creepiness. This is hard, cold reality, cemented in with passing cars and tweeting birds. I’m telling myself I’m just spooking myself out. Telling myself that even tho I write it, I don’t ever have to go down it again. Telling myself that even in my mythology, it can only get you if you go down its lair. And I’m not going down there again.

Did I just hear a groan? Was that as predictable as ‘I’ll be right back’?

I guess if I want to write effective horror, I feel like I’ve got to buy it. I’ve got to be afraid to write it.

Trouble is, I didn’t start this. It started the story. I just went down there, wanting to get off the main path and smoke a joint in private. Yeah. That’s as stupid as ‘I’ll be right back’. For sure. Shoulda heard that creepy music at that point. Problem is, once you’re on that path, once you’re in the grove, it’s difficult to get out of. The path gets longer. And it’s much, much darker under that canopy than it should be.

I feel lucky it let me go.

And yeah, maybe it let me go so I would write about it.

Have I stepped on the crazy train yet?

…One thing is for certain: it’s a good story. If I’m this creeped out about it, it’s good. Aiming for a simple podcast script, 20-30 minutes. Have a good framework thought out; just found it there sitting in my brain. Began some puttering, but I know I’ll can it and start again. I started at the beginning, and that’s not where I want to start. I want to start at the end.

Ma-a-a-aybe this time I should leave someone alive. Just to be safe.

I wonder if anyone ever uses it. I’ve never seen anyone on that path. Not that I’m in the area that often, but it is near the Uni and you’d think with all the foot traffic I would have seen someone down that path in the dozens of visits I’ve made… Maybe I should stake it out for an afternoon. Sit across the road at the bus stop and watch it.

And I do want to be careful in writing this. Because if there is something down there, and if it did let me go just so I could write about it, well… That’s not the kind of client you want to piss off with bad work, is it? Do not want to think about that customer complaint session.

…Yes. Be careful what you write.

Shoot for the stars

Backlash. My rheumatologist said my RA would probably get worse after the sinus infection. She was right. This is the week of wrist pain. Started as it always does: a bit of pain when I moved wrist. That was a day or two ago. I’m now wishing I had wrist splints to wrap my hands in.

The third round of auditions has been called. For next week. Ach! Less than a week’s notice. No difference in the damn picture used, so it looks precisely like the last three posts on the page and is very easy to miss. We are NOT gonna find the people we need in this manner. I feel like a runner in the start position. I get in the mind-set of being just the writer and helper, then I get worried and start to think I’ll have to stand up and be part of the production, then I’m told to crouch down again and just be ready to do whatever. Refusing to move forward on much until I know we’ve got the people we need. I’m not putting in hours of hard work on production notes or searching for props when I’m not even certain we can do this yet. Hoping the director has a few people up his sleeve. He always seems to; people have dropped out in the past and he’s magically found bodies to occupy the roles.

Gender flips. I’ve two characters that can swap genders, no problem. I wrote men into the roles because I was told more men usually audition than women. But there’s no reason for Ted not to be Tina, or Gabe not to be Gabriella – other than changing he to she (and taking a walk on the wild side).

Here it is, June, and we don’t even have the cast chosen. Ooooooh! This really will push the production back to late in the year. Please don’t have them try to do it during the Xmas season. That’s a guaranteed death.

Managed to put some time in on my homework. Still have to finish it off, but I’ve a good start. The word puzzles I was given were too easy. Completed them in a few minutes. The letters I need to write are short and simple. Fell back into a comfortable reading pace last night. Now I’ve just got to wrap my mouth around those sounds…

And maybe this is the week to sit in on that harder lesson.

My bro is all for me resting. Yesterday I got as far as saying I felt I should get up and do something. His response? Why? It often falls this way, he telling me to rest and me feeling like I should be doing a million things. These days, tho, I hear him saying ‘take care of yourself a little better’. It’s no longer a nag, no longer a negative on me. It’s a ‘I’m seeing those signs in you, sis, and you promised me you wouldn’t go off into la-la land again’. Finding that balance is always the tricky bit. He knows I’ve got devils on my shoulder, whipping me into action, telling me I can never do enough. He plays the angel, telling me to rest.

…But do I sometimes wonder if my bro holds me back? Not consciously, naturally. Just…do I think he feels strong taking care of me? Yes. Do I think he sometimes grows afraid I’ll get to some point of health or success and leave? Yes. I can see that, and understand it. I also know he only wants me to be happy. It’s just that basic fear we all have from time to time: will the people we love stick around? Both of us have been abandoned in so many ways, by so many people. It’s one of the things that ties us together: the determination to always have each other’s backs. And it’s always been like that, ever since we were kids. Doesn’t matter what we face. If we do it together, we’ll get thru it.

I think I need to remind my brother of that. Remind him I won’t leave. No matter what.

Spent some time lately investigating sites and methods for earning money from podcasts. The plan is to do my radio script once the play is over. Now, there’s a long road. From what I’ve seen, it takes loads of podcasts to really earn money. And I’m the only writer in this; I just don’t have enough material. I do feel capable of doing short stories, simply read aloud to a static pic (tho it would still take time to flesh those ideas out). But full on scripts? I’ve got a backlog for stage, but they’re not all horror/thriller.

Still. Even those big sites had to start with the first one.

Have a strange, bubbling energy going on… Perhaps I’ll say to hell with the wrist pain, and write today.

What scares you? That’s the question I’ve been mulling over for days. Years, if you want to get into the psychological aspect of it, which I wasn’t really talking about, just the literary aspect; these days I feel I’ve good handle on what scares me. What scares you, the audience? And what film tricks can I take to stage? Began following an FX master, who suggested a simple trick to successfully cut off a limb on stage. Want to try it over the summer; just need to get the supplies. Anything I can learn, I can incorporate into my scripts.

But I want more than simple slasher stuff. More than just gore. I want to use gore selectively (unless we do a splat, which would be fun). Looking up phobias. Common nightmares. Tricks old mediums used to use.

Okay, own up to it: I’ve set myself the task of becoming known as a horror writer for stage. That’s about as tall an order as saying I’ll become a proficient writer in Dutch.

Shoot for the stars.

I live in the grit

Disappointment. Yesterday: swing up. Felt good. Enjoyed the day. Today: disappointment right down to my toes, and it isn’t even 8 a.m.

One of the actors I was counting on – one of the actors I wrote a specific part for – has pulled out. Won’t even be coming to auditions because of her ‘big items on my annual to-do list’. What annual to-do list? Cleaning your house comes before a role I wrote for you? Shit. I guess her note was a little too breezy for me this morning. Saying Hey darlings or I know it sucks or I would really love to but and then giving me some flimsy excuse doesn’t cut it. If you ain’t getting an operation cutting you open, you could make it. You just decided against it.

I’d rather hear she was just too poor to pay for the train trip down to rehearsals.

Thunderstorms finally came thru and cooled us off. Now, they won’t go away. Every day this week is marked off on the forecast with thunder and lightening. I’m so disappointed right now all I can think is Great; the storm will drive off even more people from auditioning. Gotta be pretty low for a thunderstorm not to cheer me up.

Telling myself (and a bit excited about it) that this opens up that role for me. But…I was all set on being the writer. Sitting by the director, offering up psychological insights to characters as the actors need it. We may get a hot-shot walk-in last minute. That’s how they found me, after all. I ain’t holding my breath on it, tho.

Shit. Fuck. Truth is, I knew she could have done a great job with it. Raised the bar on the whole production. Now…now I’m right back to feeling like the core group thinks my work is rinky-dink, not worth the bother, a small something to do in-between their real plays. Total core members who have thus far auditioned: one. We’ve one more scheduled tonight, if she shows. Out of eight die hards, that’s it.

Reminding myself the director is sticking by me, sticking by my work. Reminding myself of the 2019 US production, which may be seen by thousands of people. Reminding myself of the times I’ve been published and praised.

Whatever the core group members think, I’m still a real playwright. I’m a real author, and a real poet. You can find me out there. People have bought my work, praised my words, stood up and clapped at my performances.

No one can take that from me.

…Right. The actors are the director’s problem. There’s enough other stuff to do. Sound, lighting, props, make-up; we could use three people back-stage as helpers. Marketing, for fuck’s sake. Loads to keep me busy whether I’m on the stage performing or not. Focus on that. I always knew I’d be the last minute understudy in this thing.

Tried to take in some Dutch last night. Recorded a Dutch film, Flodder 3. Oi! Too much, too fast, and far too much Amsterdam dialect. Barely caught a word. The humor was very physical, so it wasn’t hard to understand what was [supposed to be] funny. Not my thing. I was more interested in the lighting, the sets, the costumes. I saw the typical Hollywood stuff: the homes only millionaires could afford, the clothes no one really wears, the poses, the fake quality of all of it. And, you know – this was camp. An over the top thing. Silly. I’m not faulting the actors nor the director. I’m just saying that films typically show untruths. They portray stories that are supposed to be about average people, yet they never show an average life. The homes are huge and well appointed. The clothes are pressed and expensive. The make-up and hair flawless. No wonder everyone on this planet has the wrong idea about the rest of the world! No one ever shows it to them. Films and stories are edited down to the most exciting bits. You don’t roll with the characters thru their boring routines, unless it’s an edited montage shot to give you the idea that this person has a boring routine. I’ve spoken to EU youth who think all the excitement is in the US. When they say that, I remember the long boring afternoons out in the ‘burbs with nothing to do and nowhere to go. There’s shitloads of places that have nothing. Literally nothing. But that’s not the way it’s portrayed to them, and until they go and experience it themselves they won’t believe a word I say. Conversely, don’t you go thinking everything in the EU is so fabulous. Don’t you think that people live the way I saw last night. Sure, some do. But most don’t. I’ve been in enough people’s homes to know that now. Filming in a real Dutch home would be difficult. They’re small and tight. Nowhere to set up cameras and lights. That’s true of much of Europe: if you see a large room, a big and spacious home, you’re looking at the upper 1%.

*sigh* Disappointing. I can’t be the only one out there getting frustrated with this, can I? And yes, I know there’s “edgy” stuff out there. That’s what it would be called: edgy or urban or gritty. In other words: portraying reality is hard and dirty. You narrow the market down because it’s not all colorful and lush. I know that. Put your story in the tropics on a beach with swimsuits and it will always do better because there’s a certain percentage of people who’ll watch it just to see the beaches and swimsuits. It’s better to put hard issues outside of our own time: if you want to talk about race injustices, do a historical piece rather than a current piece. Current pieces invite people to question their reality, and most aren’t comfortable with that. They want reality served up in neon lights, with fluffy throw pillows.

My reality is different. I live in the grit.

 

A perfect day

Go on, have a perfect morning.

Dragged myself up at 6, half reluctant, half excited. Out the door by 7. It was a good choice. The heat and humidity hadn’t set in yet. Began by taking a short detour, hoping for some kitty love. Score! Not the cat that knows me; someone new. A bit reluctant, as Dutch cats seem to be. Doesn’t take long, tho, before they flop down on the pavement, belly up, purring, nudging, loving me. A new friend to greet once in a while.

My feet just kept walking. Made it all the way to the end of the metro line. Walked up to the lake, down the beach, loving the silence and stillness of it. A solid hour and half tromp before breakfast.

Yesterday: hoovering, dusting, toilet duty, mirrors, sink scrubbing, dishes, grocery shopping. Even did my cuticles during my break.

Keep tackling these things and looking around for something else to do. Something besides sitting on my butt, playing computer games.

Did some nostalgia surfing. Searched out current news for some of the other places I’ve lived. Sent out a hooray to my Irish connections. Damned proud of all those young women who fought so hard for change. Saw a few pictures, read a few street names that brought up that feeling I get once in a while… That longing for a home that never really existed. It’s sad most of all. There’s a longing mixed in, a remembrance of fun I had in cities and towns, but mixed in with that is a revulsion of the things I didn’t enjoy. I remember the stifling heat. Physical pain and emotional torment. I remember the oppressive feeling of so many situations. The stalker. The clubs. The jobs.

In short, it’s complicated.

Complicated…

Been thinking about how there are no white hat characters in real life; we all wear shades of grey. Thinking about why good people might do terrible things. I guess that’s why I began writing in the first place. Owning up to – on some level – my own horrible acts. For years I just beat myself up. Vague ego bashing. Now…I’m seeing things from a new perspective.

Now, I can state the truth. Yes, I left an ex with several thousand dollars of debt for drugs. That was a horrible thing to do. It was a horrible relationship, and I hated him by the end. He became my stalker – perhaps in no small part over the money involved. It was crazy time with a capital CRAZY. Dark and desperate, and even then I could see it only leading to darker and more desperate situations. But no matter what my reasons, from his perspective, I left him abruptly with a large debt. A debt I’d sworn to help pay back.

And does he have right to damn me to hell every night? Certainly, that was the tipping point in his life. He was no great winner up to then, that’s for sure. Alcoholic, drug addict, sleeping on an ex-girlfriend’s couch (and it says a lot about me at the time that I was able to justify any of that). But from what I’ve been able to find out thru online searches, he then turned to burglary and prompted got caught.

So, am I to blame? I didn’t help. If he wanted to believe his life before all that was okay, well then yes, I fucked that up. But I believe I was fighting for my life. To get away from the drugs, away from him, away from that insanity. I do not think I’d be alive today had I stayed. I made my choice.

I think I’m getting around to beginning to forgive myself for that.

Knots untying. What’s left once that old rug unravels? It’ll be interesting to find out.

Do bad guys love the dawn? That fresh start to each day, that appreciable end to every night’s activities. Do vampires think ‘Oh, thank God!’ when the dawn light comes, knowing they can clock out and get some rest? We never think that way. Vampires and bad guys curse the dawn. It burns them; they are visible. Maybe we’re all turned around on that. Doesn’t every factory worker look forward to the end of the day? Go have a beer, put your feet up, chill in front of the tv. Are days like that for bad guys? Hm. I think I’d like to see that. Or at least play with the idea.

Tomorrow I’m back to Dutch lessons and schedules. And I’m just about ready for it. A little rusty with my verbal skills, but I’ll get there. Second auditions on Wednesday. Feel about ready to begin working on the computer again, tho only an hour at a time. Still having brief headaches.

Things I’d like for today: a really big thunderstorm. Love ’em, haven’t seen a good one yet this year, and it’s possible tonight. Other: something to keep me entertained. Passive, plopped in front of the tv, cold soda in my hand, entertained. It’s hot out. A shower (for me) would be good, too.

Not too much to ask, is it? And it would follow up my perfect morning, and make a perfect day.

Nice to meet you

Three hours to go before my appointment with Dr T.

My bro almost forgot band practice last night. Good thing he’s set his phone up with reminders. Ping. Left himself enough time to grab his stuff and head out without being late. I found myself unexpectedly alone for the evening.

First thing: check for hot water. Yep. Then I did something gross. Something I can’t wholeheartedly recommend. Two egg yolks, olive oil, whisk, and on the hair. I’ve used straight olive oil, but not this thick mixture. Just kept wondering if I’d end up pulling scrambled eggs out of my hair. I didn’t, of course. The smell wasn’t something I found pleasant. And the fact that 20 minutes later my hair was shellacked into a hard helmet didn’t help matters. The result, however, is pretty damned good. Cut the frizziness way down, and my hair feels much softer. And you can’t beat the cost.

Showered, watched a film, tried a new BBC show, read some Dutch before lights out. Most importantly: I wasn’t so squirrelly I couldn’t sit still. Got a bit restless during the BBC show (didn’t really like it), but even that was on the low side.

Been trying to marshall my thoughts. I’m not sure what to say to the doc today. I’m not waking up crying. That’s good. And I’m not so angry. All true. I don’t know…maybe I should just say it in English. I’m really trying to assimilate here, tho, so I feel the push to use the language no matter how much I struggle. But once again I’m seeing Dr T after a run of English and no Dutch. Gods! I wish I were one of those people who just ‘pick it up’. I’ve picked up a bit, but I can’t converse well.

What I want to say: I have a new level of understanding regarding my mother. I still haven’t forgiven her, and I realize I may never really forgive her. But I do understand her a bit more. I even feel pity and empathy for her. My anger is fading. That’s an important step. Similar with my sister; pretty sure I’ll never actually forgive her, but I see now how she was getting triggered with her own shit. The realizations I’ve come to regarding my family do not make me want to reconnect. Just the opposite; they’ve confirmed for me all the reasons why it’s better to have nothing to do with those people. I see, now, how sometimes my fears and anxieties were warranted and sometimes not. And I see why I was so confused. I was taught to be confused. Hurt, and told I was loved. Abused, and told I was spoiled. I was taught to not trust at a very early age. Do not trust your own perceptions; we will tell you what you should feel. All the while my truth was I couldn’t trust my own family, my own mother, and deep down I knew that.

Things to remember: the unaccepted truth makes you run. If you find yourself running, look for that truth. It won’t be easy; you’re running from it. You won’t want to look at it. It will be that thing in the corner of your eye. The thing that makes you uneasy when you’re alone. The thing that gives you those nightmares. The thing your mind flits over time and again so fast you might not even be aware of it.

Accept it, and stop running.

As if it were that easy, right? If it were easy, I would have done it years ago. If it were easy, I wouldn’t be writing this blog. But it’s one of those stupid things in life that once you get it, you do say to yourself ‘Hm! That was easy!’ because things just fall away.

Or maybe the doc just finally got the dosage right with my medication…

Sometime yesterday I blew out the last of this illness. I can feel the difference. Might hold off on the allergy pill for a bit. See if I can go without it. I feel ready to start that long journey back to good health.

My nails actually look good these days. I don’t paint them, but I have been keeping up with cuticle maintenance. Been keeping them filed and buffed, too. I’m not ashamed to show my hands. Now that it’s summer weather, I’ve even been working on my toenails.

I wake up and think about today. Not yesterday, or years ago. Today. What I’ll be doing, how I’m feeling – all very in the now.

It’s very different. No wonder some people seem to have so much time. They don’t think about the past the way I did. I couldn’t get OUT of the past. I was stuck there. I’m feeling more capable of moving on now. Maybe I won’t get things right. Hell! lol! I’m sure I won’t. But I’ll be doing it consciously. Thinking about the present. Seeing things as they are, not veiled by the dark truth I didn’t want to accept.

Honestly, I wish everyone could feel this way. It’s not happy, exactly, tho there are elements of joy in it. The joy of being free. Of having my mind free. The freedom – and power! – to stop those destructive thoughts before they take hold. There’s an excitement, too. Knowing that whatever I choose, this is a new path for me. I’m not bound by those old chains anymore. It’s liberating.

In some ways, I’m a brand new person. This is my first meeting with the doc.

Hi, Dr T. Nice to meet you.

No more ow

Gout. Wanna know why they call it that? Because if you’ve got it, you gotta say OW really loud. OW FUCKING OW. That’s gout. My left big toe is affected. Not my right foot, not my other toes, just the one. Feels like someone’s got it in a nut cracker and is trying to crush it. The pain’s been getting worse for days; a combination of summer coming on, lack of regular exercise, and my dumb luck. I’ll say it again: OW.

Walking despite the toe problem: check. Tiding up the house and keeping my personal space neat: check. Doing those pesky things like brushing my teeth and hair, or trying to look a little better than I generally do when I leave the house: check.

The Universe seems to be on board with my whole celebration this weekend. The powers that be resurrected our dead hoover. Last we checked it, it just sat there all quiet in its corner doing nothing. Got some SUCK power going again (maybe I should be worried). But in my wisdom I wanted my weekend free, so I did the housework yesterday. Four loads of dishes, hoover the place while the machine works, water the plants, take out garbage and recycling. The place isn’t perfect, but it’s better. And I feel better for it.

Headed outside for a walk. A check with the weather forecast told me yesterday was the only day possible for a pleasant walk; heat is returning with a vengeance (my toe could have told me THAT). I looked up at the blue sky. At the trees, with their leaves almost fully out. I said hello to everyone I passed and was rewarded with smiles and greetings in return (this is the only city I’ve found where people actually DO that anymore). Had a bit of happy magic passed onto me by a child. He just said hello to me when I greeted him and his parents. But it was such a musical hello, such a happy hello, I felt like I got a real gift from that two year old. He made me smile.

Plans today to head off to another mall. There is one mall in Rotterdam that has a natural foods shop which carries the frozen yogurt I like. Tried to find it other places, closer places. Nope. That’s their specialty thing. So my bro gave me a fifty and suggested I take the cold pack and go get some. ‘And take a look around, if you feel like it,’ he said. In other words: here’s some money, go spend it on yourself if you find something you want. He’s also made sure to automatically transfer a bit of money into my back account every month from his, so I can use my bank card for transactions. I know it’s a small allowance, and I know doing all that isn’t too much in the grand scheme of things, but I’m very pleased. I get more opportunities to feel like a real Dutch person and just swipe my card to pay for something. And he’s given me everything I need (permission included) to have a really enjoyable day at the mall.

The only thing I’m trying to judge right now is if my foot will let me do the mall walking I’d like to do.

Cleaned out a lot of clutter in my brain. I was able to think clearly and coherently as I took my walk yesterday. Centered on my new piece. I like the idea, think it’s fun, but it’s too squishy and undefined to continue as is. Was bothered by building up the space crew so large – large casts are always a problem for the local group, and I’m using them as my example of what to look for when writing plays. Scheduling 10 or 12 people is just damned difficult. So I began cutting. Who’s necessary? What’s really driving it? Took the idea down to 6 people: 4 space crew and 2 others they can interact with. As I pruned the story in my head, new ideas came to me. Ah, yes! That’s what was sitting under that morass of loose ideas! Beginning to feel the pacing of the play, when everything happens. Good.

Still no word from the director. This is another holiday weekend, so that’s it. Cough it up, buddy. You put the deadline as ‘after the holidays’, and we’ve just a few short days left to go before that condition is reality. My bro hopes to get a new computer by July, so any thoughts of recordings need to just be stored away until then at the earliest. lol! And I’m not noting any of that because I’m nervous about it. I’m noting it because I’m telling myself I’ve still got a few months available to lose myself in a new story before real work on this year’s production begins.

…Realized, too, we just passed the anniversary of my mother’s birthday. Some part of me must have been mulling that over. Feels a little odd to think about C now. I feel like I’m seeing her for the very first time – and maybe I am. If she were here today, I could look her straight in the eye. Not as her daughter, just as a person. And I’d let her see my empathy and understanding: I get it. I feel that way, too. In my imagination, C hangs her head a bit after that look. She feels regret over the past. She is proud of me, too, but she’s a bit shy of her feelings because she’s not quite sure how I grew into the person I am.

I have never before in my life envisioned that sort of calm exchange between my mother and myself. Screaming, fighting, crying – yes. But one look and all those chains melt away like nothing? One look and the balance tips in my favor? That’s brand new.

Hm. The pain in my toe has vanished.

No more ow.

Are you learning?

Two days of walking and my back is almost pain free. At least I can get up out of a chair without moaning from agony. Thank you, Goddess, for giving me such an easy fix on this one! I swear I’ll do better from now on.

Had a long letter from J, my street bro and friend for decades. He’s had a major blow-out with his DNA sister, and I can tell he’s upset. Need to write back to him today on it. Give him some support and kindness.

Writing a bit. Playing a bit. Telling myself all I need to do now is walk and get my back into shape. Everything else comes second.

Been pondering from time to time my feelings of worthlessness. I keep watching tv and film and wondering how these jerks and idiots get jobs that pay enough for them to live in the manner they live in. Keep remembering how I never felt I was worth that much money, despite my knowledge or degrees. And I’m sorry, but no one’s worth that much money for anything. This person made 36 million last year. For what? Being a jerk? Acting like an asshole? They didn’t solve any crisis, they didn’t save anyone’s life, they just made money. Why do we have such inflated salaries? Who needs that much money to live on?

I don’t want to be – and will never be – that decadent. If tons of money come my way, I’ll use it differently. Invest differently. No stock market schemes, all straight personal investments in people I believe in. People are the only real resource, anyway. Why invest in cyber space or gold? It’s meaningless, worthless. Why invest in real estate or things? You can’t take any of it with you. The only thing worth investing in is people. Changing their lives for the better. Giving those that really struggle just to make ends meet a chance.

I don’t want things. I want people to remember me. My jokes, my advice, my help, my kindness. I want people to stop and ask themselves what I’d do before making any choice for themselves. I want people to think. I want to help people over those hard spots in life, point out the pitfalls so maybe they can do better than me. I want people to try harder to understand others and themselves. I want others to do better in life than I have, and I hope my experiences, advice, and help, are valuable to them.

That’s the only real kind of immortality any of us can ask for. A lot of people have kids to pass on their knowledge to, but after growing up with my older siblings I was all too aware of the idea of how far the apple can fall from the tree; biological children were never the answer for me. You are my children. Everyone and anyone reading this is my child. This is my experiment: to treat every human like my child, to see everyone on this planet as an opportunity to be a bit kinder, a bit better version of ME that leaves people pondering their own behavior and hoping to improve themselves. The only real way I know how to do that is be honest. Destroy the pedestals even as they’re erected: I am not perfect. I yell and scream. I can be petty and purposefully hurt others. I make a lot of mistakes. See me for what I really am, not that rose colored version of me. That version will be built in the future, not in my lifetime. That version will be the myth, the legend, the one that lives on in the tale told ’round the campfire. And hopefully that version will be inspiring, even if it’s not realistic. The problem is, of course, that we all build our our mythos. Our actions build it, day by day. And just like you can’t really see when your body drops a couple of pounds because you look at yourself every day, you don’t realize what kind of mythos you’re building until you get some feedback.

So no, I don’t really know what I project. No one does. I am heartened, tho, by those few who open up to me. Who come back to me when they’re hurting. My children, wanting a kiss on their boo-boo’s. That’s a bit condescending sounding, and I didn’t really mean it that way. Oftentimes all I feel like I can do is kiss it, remind them how important they are to me, how great I feel they are, how much I care about them. I can’t offer much concrete help. But there are people out there who return to me with their problems, offering them up to me in messages, hoping to get that inspirational letter in response. I know that, and do my best to be there for each and every one of them. I always say I’m not the ‘mothering’ type, but I do have a lot of ‘mothering’ characteristics.

And I guess the word ‘mother’ got a bad reputation in my head. Just like the word ‘lady’ got a bad reputation. Those words were brought out to shame me, to justify horrible behavior, or to constrain my impulses. I can not remember one day of wanting to be a ‘lady’ or a ‘mother’ in the sense C used the words.

But I do want to help people. Protect them, shelter them from the worst in life. Whether that’s lady-like or motherly, I can’t really say. It is a base impulse in me, tho.

…Sorry; I still can’t use the M word in association with myself. I can accept I’m a carer. That’s straight-forward, and clean.

I care.

And I always have.

I cared about my high school prom, even tho I loudly proclaimed I didn’t. I care about my current poverty, tho I do my best to not worry too much. I care about the world, and people, tho I shout and scream and tell everyone to go to hell from time to time.

I care so much I have to shout about how much I don’t care so when I get hurt it’s not as bad and no one thinks I’m as big a wreck as I am…

Are you listening, my children?

Are you learning?

Something

Right. Let’s just do this.

I am terrified of becoming a bag woman. A homeless bum on the street. A mad woman who never showers, who trundles around behind a shopping cart full of her ‘stuff’ and mumbles perpetually about ‘them’.

I have no savings. No job. No income. I am totally financially dependent, and at least 50% physically dependent on help.

This is the truth.

… … … And it’s a hard truth to own.

I tell myself my artistic endeavors will one day pay off. That even Van Gogh lived in obscurity and complete dependence on his brother. I assure myself my value is not dependent on how many slips of paper I can entice people to throw my way.

But sometimes I just wonder if I’m kidding myself.

And I wonder, on the whole, what difference it makes. What difference does it really make if I die alone and in the street? Death is death, and once you’ve seen it up close you know that as fact. It really doesn’t matter who’s there or what the circumstances are. Death is a completely solitary experience. And it comes for you no matter what.

Still. I am afraid of the struggle. Everything in life is a struggle. Getting out the birth canal is a struggle. Taking that first breath of air is a struggle. Learning to walk, going to school, loving, hating – it’s all difficult. Aging and death are no different. And despite most of us having to go thru each of these experiences at some point, we fail to adequately convey to others what it’s like. Worse still, if we experienced disregard and belittling of our own pain and struggles, we’re more likely to react with those hated behaviors towards others.

I do that. I find myself often comparing the pain of others to my own. Finding their side lacking, complaining, overly dramatic. I attach all those hated words I was told as a child. Keep telling myself to stop that. Hear what the other people are saying: they’ve had enough. It doesn’t matter if I think I could ‘take more’ in their situation or not. This person, in this circumstance, says they can’t do it. Drop all that other shit and hear that. It all happens rather quickly, and I get to understanding very fast, but…I am ashamed of my first thoughts. They are mean and nasty, and they tell me that part of me hasn’t healed yet.

I don’t want to be mean or nasty. And I don’t want to be afraid. …Do you think the state would give me a lobotomy if I had to become a homeless person? I always imagined I’d be happier with one.

Gods, I’m fucking morbid. The sun is shining, it’s a bloody holiday, and I’m thinking such happy fucking thoughts. Yeah. Well. The whole nihilist movement had to come from somewhere, right? Part of me feels I should just embrace this inner goth. The girl who always kills everyone in her stories. Part of me wants sunshine and rainbows. The two fight. Sometimes one wins for a while: I wear black continually, or swap suddenly to color. And the goth girl hates the sunshine and rainbows girl; she thinks S&R girl is flighty and silly. S&R girl doesn’t hate goth girl, but she does think she’s an awful sourpuss and should just get off her ‘life is shit’ shtick. No matter how much I try, I can’t get these two to cooperate. They are too separate. Goth girl can’t understand how S&R girl can be so damned happy when there’s so much crap in the world. S&R girl doesn’t want to listen to goth girl because she knows goth girl is right about an awful lot but that doesn’t matter; S&R girl wants to play and laugh.

Is this normal? Or is this something I should tell Dr. T because it points to some other problem?

Get up, get out, get some fresh air. You don’t have to walk far or anywhere in particular, but get your brain out of this bleeding closet for a bit today! Listen to yourself!

Fuck.

Why do I keep feeling sadder and sadder? I felt good there, for a few days, on the increased medication. Now I’m feeling worse. More anxious. More fearful. More sad. Just shit coming up? Yeah, we got notice of another rental increase and no, it wasn’t welcome and brought a discussion of needing to move. And I really don’t want to move. But that was just discussion, batting around possible ideas to keep in mind for the next few years. It wasn’t pack your stuff up and get out now.

…Okay. You can ask why from now ’til forever. You know that. Just deal with what you’ve got in front of you today. Unhappy? Get some fresh air. Stretch your legs. Play some games, watch a good film. Talk to your brother. Make sure to take your pill on time. You don’t have to run from this. You can move forward without hysterics. Without anger or meanness. Sure, you’re sad. It’s okay to be sad. You’ve a lot to be sad about. Know that, accept that.

Or, darling girl, keep it in mind. You haven’t learned to accept this yet, so let’s not heap a bunch of stuff on our own heads that we can use to shame us in the future. What you have learned to do is to use it effectively. You’ve woven it into your writing. So the answer seems obvious, doesn’t it? Just begin. Anywhere. Wrap your fear and sorrow up into a scene. See it, feel it, write it. Find out where it leads you. Wherever it takes you, it won’t be here.

That’s something.

Light ’em up

Smoke ’em if you got ’em! Happy 420.

Got in one good pacing session. The weather’s been hot, and my bro has been hanging around a bit more to avoid the sun so I haven’t had many opportunities to get up and talk out everything pouring thru my head. Have one storyline roughed in, another half there with ideas and questions: very productive for one pacing session (granted, it lasted about 2 hours).

Ratta-tat-tat-brrrr-ratta-tat-tat. My brother had to come out from his room four times yesterday to comment on my tapping feet. Just…kept doing it. All afternoon. Please remember to tell your psychiatrist about this when you see him next. Yeah. He’ll probably say it’s depression. That’s what everyone says about everything I say: it’s depression. Depression. Fast feet? Depression. Sweating hands? Depression. Poor sleep? Depression. Repetitive thoughts? Depression. I’m beginning to wonder why I bother mentioning anything. They’ve pegged me, and until they see obvious shit in front of their own eyes they won’t change their minds.

Must. let. go. I’m obsessing over the production. Bless my bro’s heart, he recognized that yesterday and did his best to talk me down. He let me go thru my concerns, talk about the sound layering, the recordings needed, and my worry over time and overloading him. He replied (confidently; damn! I wish I could do that) that he could get all the sound done in one week if push came to shove. And he reminded me that I’ve passed the baton. He’s the sound director, and the director is the director. Let go. If they say they can do it within the time frame they’re setting, they can do it. That’s tough. Had a lot of people let me down. Drop things at the last minute, then look at me like ‘well, if you want it done, do it yourself’. The only thing I know for sure that works is immersing myself in a new story – which is why I took off all restrictions on myself and paced things out. I thought I’d want to be clear headed and focused on the production, but I find my laser beam concentration too much. I’ve got to distract myself.

Still cooking things up in my brain, so my body’s been allowed to be the slug. Sit. Go thru the motions of playing solitaire. Unfocused eyes on the tv. Uncomprehending hearing. My bro is indulging me. Encouraging me, even. He sees the obsession and the manic traits even if the doc doesn’t.

My phone rang about 10 minutes before my pizza was delivered. I knew before looking at it that it was S. She’s the only one who calls me. Bless her, she was trying to multi-task a bit; she called me while she was on the train. Unfortunately, the noise made for a difficult phone call. I hung in there, responding between bites on my pizza. I know that’s an instance I should probably say ‘could you call me back in half an hour? my pizza just came’, but I can’t. I have so few friends and people in my life, and I know how busy they all are. I’m grateful for whenever S’s calls come, whether it’s 10 minutes before my pizza or just after I’ve turned the light out in my room and I’m ready to sleep. Plus, I know it’s my schedule that’s weird and off. Sometimes I’m sleeping at 6 in the evening. Sometimes I eat dinner at 3 in the afternoon. So I do my best to accommodate those phone calls because…well…I don’t get many. And I know I’m the oddball.

Anyway, she’s fine. Busy. Happy at her internship. I’m so thrilled for her! A bit jealous, too. Or envious. Wishing I could be in her shoes – trained in what she loves, just heading out and beginning. If she doesn’t succumb to hating herself, she can go far. I find it interesting to hear her. We’ve talked deeply enough that I know a few of her issues, and she mine. We connect on several levels; our problems aren’t dissimilar. It is almost as if I’m talking to a younger version of myself. She’s half on the track and half lost. She knows she struggles with depression and self hate, but she thinks repeating those tried and true memes will get her thru her shit. Had a good laugh (internally) when she told me: It’s all in your head. Yes. Depression is all in your head. But she seems to want me to be able to talk things out and get to an ‘end’ (or perhaps she’s hoping to see that so it gives her hope that her own issues will, eventually, come to an ‘end’). I have not the heart to tell her there is no end to it. And I do not have the courage to let her see the hag in me: that older, wiser woman with keen perception. I allow her to tell me her youthful wisdom, full of hope and rainbows. I do not point out the deeper issues I see lurking behind her words or actions. To me, they are obvious. She is on the right track; she’s told me about the competitiveness between herself and her older sister. That was my first step, too. I recognize the overeating, the family issues behind the nice facade (no diss on her family; I’ve met her parents and they’re both very pleasant to strangers but it’s obvious to me she’s not getting what she needs from them).

Well. You’re the wordsmith. What would you have listened to when you were her age? You can’t tread her journey for her. You can’t put her feet down on the right path. She’s got to do that. The only thing you can do is try to illuminate her mind. Connect with her. Let her know she’s not alone.

Light ’em up.