R-e-s-p-e-c-t

Draft one: done. Once I got to a certain point in the script, it just went. Have begun reading it through for errors and typos. Changed up a few things; found I’d gotten two of my characters muddled in the middle of an argument. And, despite my sticking to my outline and often feeling like I was writing a term paper, this script has given me some surprises. I was going to set up one character for stealing, then realized that I had another, shadier character to actually take the fall. My attempts to add subtlety into the dialogue led me to ambiguous statements (as it WILL do), and by the end of Act 2 I found a couple of my ideas modified without me even realizing it. Hm, now it sounds like maybe this person did that in secret because of her earlier statement… It’s added color and a refreshing slap to a story I worried was getting too predictable.

Now it’s dead-head time. Stop thinking, start editing. Not looking forward to the hours needed to get it into the formatting software. Sure, I can upload the text – but nothing else sticks, and I must go through it all, line by line, marking each character, each line of dialogue, each production note, again. Ugh.

Good news is that without pushing myself, I’ll be able to format and print the script for final inspection before my language lessons begin again.

I want to say it’s good. I think it is. Been very persnickety on military details (which often go lacking, or are incorrect in many portrayals) – but I’m not focusing on them. They are not the story. Nor is the war itself; there is only one scene with the women in battle. In fact, as I read through my work for errors and corrections, there was only one word that surfaced in my brain. The reason for the entire story: respect (and yes, Aretha is singing it in my head). Respect for these women – or the lack of it – is central to this piece. It comes up, again and again: the male commander shouting that women shouldn’t be soldiers, the male soldiers’ flirtations…Even amongst the women themselves, the question of respect comes into play. The characters’ alliances shift, in response to action both on and off the stage. Everything funnels down to the end, to the most combative roles in the play, and a final handshake – a sign of respect.

And I have settled on a name. ‘The Night Witches’ (or some form of that) is damned tempting. Kind of hooks you into it right away, doesn’t it? But it’s been used. Like, a million times. For articles and books, videos and films. Despite how much I want to use it, I won’t. Thought about calling it ‘588’ for the regiment number, but then it should really be ‘588th’, not ‘588’, and I felt the ‘th’ at the end was something that might trip people up. It tips you off this is a story about the military (at least, for me it does). Besides, the regiment was renamed after receiving recognition. So using a number is just confusing. …The script is called ‘Taman’. It’s set on the Taman Peninsula, in 1943. I know ‘Taman’ is a bit misleading as well – it should be ‘The Taman Peninsula’ or ‘The Taman Offensive’…but I don’t like either of those. And something about just calling it ‘Taman’… Although it’s not an English word, it’s not something that would frighten most people. It’s not Tzuychrswski or some similar foreign word with that string of consonants that always trips up English speakers. And it’s neutral. What is Taman? A person? A place? Immediately you ask questions, want answers. I’m hoping that curiosity will transfer into audience members. Plus, this is where the women made history. This is battle front that earned them their honors.

…Since it be about respect, y’all…I figure I be allowed a little of that there ‘artistic license’.

Keeping up on exercise, tho skipping my 30 minutes on the bikes. Pushing myself on the mental front right now. If I do it mentally and physically, I’ll run myself into the ground. So I’m being a little easy on myself until I feel the push is really over.

And it is a push. I’ve put so much into this…including a rape scene and the aftermath – accusations, shame, humiliation, fear… I’m tearing up every time I read it. The battle scene, when two of the characters are shot down and die, is also difficult to read: full of emotion, raw and ripe.

I sure hope other people are as moved by it as I am.

For myself, I feel I can put another notch in my belt. Didn’t know if I could write something military. Certainly doubted my ability to write something historical. Yet, here I am. I won’t lay claim to having written some fresh, new perspective. Don’t know that I’ll ever be that arrogant. But I think I’ve written well. I think the story is engaging, the characters believable.

…Maybe underneath all my writing, there’s another message: respect for myself. I rarely give it.

Today, I will.

This doesn’t bode well

I’m 51. Almost 52. Yet, just like any kid, I couldn’t help but feel that rush of excitement yesterday as my very last language class drew to a close. Six glorious weeks of holiday. I know I’m bound to flip, and at some point complain how could I ever have thought this much time off was a good idea? But that ain’t today. Today I’m still a kid, off of school, no more homework or doing things I don’t want to do.

Yippee!

Had the treat of finding another online comment from (yep, you guessed it) my uncle, who seems to yank my chain an awful lot. Props to him; he did it again. I’d posted an article from a German news source that discussed a study of sexual aggression in male apes. It suggested that sexual aggression and intimidation runs in the species; similar behaviors were noted in various monkeys, orangutans, and apes. It also suggested that, humans being closely related to our ape cousins, this trait was present in male humans – which led us down the merry path of ‘rape is just something men do’. Sugar-coated, I’ll give you. But it lay there in the midst of this article’s words, splayed legged for the world to see and jerk off to. Naturally, my comment while posting said article was rather scathing. And how did my right-wing, privileged uncle respond? “This picture isn’t of an ape.” Yes. A stupid comment on the accompanying picture of said article. Nothing on the content. Nothing on my thoughts. Apparently, this was his only way to discount what was being said. You’ve got the wrong picture on top of the article. If that’s wrong, I’m not even gonna bother reading it. Maybe that wasn’t his intention. But it read that way.

The only reason I see for him doing any of this is to needle at me. I just can’t figure out why he feels the need to needle me. I don’t even live on his continent. His life never need intersect mine. And how many times do I need to say thanks for the money loan? It was paid back, with interest. Doesn’t mean I have to shut up with my opinions.

You didn’t buy me, uncle.

I replied, and told him I didn’t write the article and perhaps his comment should be directed towards the news agency that published it.

Play rehearsals went well. Learned we’re booking five performances. Two locally, two in Amsterdam, one in Leiden. That’s so far. Hope there aren’t too many more. If I have to cough up for money towards a venue, plus travel costs, plus perform – well, that’s asking a lot, isn’t it? At the same time I’m glad. Glad I’ll have these opportunities to shine. Glad it won’t be a lot of work for just two nights and then sitting around doing nothing for the rest of the year. I’m puzzled as well. These people think they can do local plus out of town gigs? What’s the draw? Or are there just so many theatre goers in the Netherlands that we’re guaranteed a certain amount of people? It’s not even like they’re active online. Their sites – both the dot com and their FB page – rarely changes. I saw them struggle to draw more than 40 people last year, and that was locally. Well, I’ve not been invited into the inner circle yet. The Grand Poo-Pah has not granted me access. So I don’t know who’s doing what, or why they’re not doing some things that seem obvious to me.

Want to get in some rehearsal time today while my bro is at the comic book shop. Not that I need much. I almost got my lines memorized from last night’s three run-throughs. Then it’s dishes, per usual. My bro did a bunch of dishes yesterday while I was busy, but then he dirtied as many dishes as there were earlier by making dinner. So I’m left with a large sink full of dishes to do all by myself. Again. Hoo-rah. Then it’s off to the gym, for an extended-extended work out. What I’ll extend, I don’t know. I just know I want to burn, burn a lot, and burn hard. After that, if I can lift my arms and keep my eyes open, I’ll see about puttering with my outline.

*sigh* And the festivals are beginning. The endless outdoor music and all sorts of fun festivals. No money for entrance fees, so I have to wait for the freebies. But I hear the fireworks at night, celebrations with thousands of people. It’s kind of lonely, hearing that as I lay in bed trying to get to sleep. Gee, listen to that. All those people out there having a good time. All that fun and life and music and activity. Usually I’m too tired to worry about it for long, but in those brief moments before sleep takes me I can feel very alone.

Diving into writing will only reinforce that aloneness. I know that. Going to do my best to get out every day, no matter how hot the writing is going. I don’t want the next six weeks of posts to be about feeling like a ghost, or having no friends, or being disconnected. And I do want to get my work done. So a strict half schedule must be adhered to. Half a day, every day, get the fuck out of the house. Go to the gym. If I have to do the gym every day because it’s the only thing I can afford that’ll get me out for a couple of hours, alright. Then I’ll super push. Go to rehearsals. Take a walk. Look through the charity shops for cheap clothes. Try to meet up with acquaintances. Say hello. Chill. Ask them how they are, what they’re doing.

Anything.

Hm. Two hours officially into my holiday and I’m already finding ways to keep myself occupied.

This doesn’t bode well.

Chicken Shit

I guess every generation has its stories. For my grandmother, it was the model T. For my mother, it was the death of Kennedy. I lived through it; I was there. And we each came away with our own perspective. One of my grandmother’s favorite quotes was ‘Men have a place; it’s six feet under’. My mother always harped at me ‘don’t become dependent on any man’. I have to deal with being tagged a cougar or a MILF.

And dare I say how completely disappointed I am in society today? How quickly women’s problems have been shoved to the background in the face of racial tensions, religious fighting, and every other issue de jour you can think of? Yeah, yeah, I’m told, but that’s yesterday’s problem. Today it’s police violence, terrorism, blah-de-blah. And somehow, it’s always from a man’s perspective…

Just another diss by our male dominated society. Because no matter what issue you want to bring up, women are on the bottom of the pile. Our concerns come last. Our voices are heard last (if at all).

And we’re supposed to feel good that there’s the occasional Angela Merkel out there. That every once in a while, one of us is allowed – let’s not mince words here – allowed to come to the forefront.

You wanna talk about silent majorities? Then you need to address the women on this planet.

Oh, I’m becoming militant in my feminism. The more I see and learn, the more militant I become. And nothing makes you aware of these subtle disses throughout history than writing historical based stories. I’ve found the words and set-ups I’m using in my upcoming script to be extremely current. Seventy bleeding years and not much has changed.

That’s my fucking point.

Take away the historical setting, the Russian names, and you have a story that fits today’s attitudes towards women. The same struggles. The same blame. The same unspoken need to be twice as good as any man in order to earn half the respect.

This is the whole underlying reason for the script. To really show it. These women were pushing through the glass ceiling LONG before the equivalent shake up happened in the West, and here we are, SSDD (which in this case, should be read as same shit different decade).

But I digress…

Asked my bro, who’s ex-military, quite a few questions about some of the day to day stuff of military life. Like, do majors run around saluting each other, or do they use first names because they’re the same rank? Is it unreasonable for me to think a group of soldiers might sneak off for a little party in the middle of this war? I got a load of good info, including some really strong ideas for what might be stolen from the men’s regiment. The general story proved believable, even to a military person. So far, so good.

Hit the gym hard yesterday. So hard I was falling asleep around 9:30 last night. My arms are fucking killing me. Moved up on the free weight exercises, and ho-ly hell! Can I feel it!

Today was my last Thursday language lesson before the summer break. We had a few visitors and spent our time walking through the local parks, talking about the artwork scattered here and there. It was a pleasant change. There’s a language course over the summer, but it’s €50, and I just don’t see being able to cough that up right now. Things are too tight.

One look at my hair should tell anyone that.

Have to call my dermatologist for a refill on a prescription. Ugh. Dutch, Dutch, Dutch. You’d think I’d be able to get over this, but it seems no matter who I talk to, they end up using new words I’ve never heard before. Then I get flustered, and anxious, and the existing Dutch in my head goes out the window. Doesn’t help that I just don’t like phones.

Tomorrow is my last Friday language lesson before the break. Then I’m back to drop off my stuff and head out to theatre rehearsal – so my day on, day off exercise thing has a snag this week. Thought I might head over today, but…I’m still tired, it’s hot and humid, and I can’t imagine pushing myself after walking all morning.

Ah, well. If I’m that concerned I can get my fat ass down on the floor and do some abdominal exercises. Any takers? (Obviously not, as I continue to sit here in front of my computer and contemplate getting up to only (1) pee, or (2) grab a sugary cola from the ‘fridge.)

My brain is rebelling, and daydreaming over my very cute physiotherapist. Thought I’d trained myself out of that. It’s so easy to slip back into it, though. Now I ponder asking him to this theatre production. One of those I wanna ask you out but I’m too chicken so I’ll do it this way things. Push the comedy, the fun, tell him I don’t know many people and it would be good to bring a few audience members in with my first role (always add in the sympathy vote), it would make a great date for him and his girlfriend (a fish to find out if he’s still dating someone), and that it would be great to buy him a beer afterwards (a fish for time, and to see if I pick up any signals outside his office). And, honestly, doing it this way, if he says no or doesn’t show up, he’s rejecting the idea of sitting through an amateur theatre production, not me, right? Or, at least, that’s a foothold I can build for myself.

Gods, I’m chicken shit.

Francis-stein

Allowed that despair to overtake me yesterday. Just for a moment or two. Enough time to sob deeply and feel a tear drop from my eye. Then I shook myself, sighed, and went to the gym.

Exercise has become a time waster. A thing to keep me from smoking. Not a thing I enjoy. Not a thing I do to get in shape or lose weight. Just a thing that keeps me out of the house, away from my ashtray. The goal is to spend as much of the afternoon at the gym as possible.

Hope to tire myself out. Get back here and almost fall asleep for the rest of the day. Wouldn’t need to smoke then. Wouldn’t need to do anything, other than chill.

Doesn’t quite work, of course. The more I do, the better shape I’m in, the longer it takes to tire me out. Half hour on the cross trainer. Half hour on the treadmill. Half hour on the bikes. Half hour on the free weights. Was surprised all evening long. Kept expecting my eyes to close while watching tv. Nope. Wide awake.

Telling myself I shouldn’t feel all wimpy and weak. My stamina has improved. I’ve moved up settings on everything, including heavier free weights because a 15 year old BOY had to go and pick up the lightest free weights in the gym to exercise. Really, kid? I didn’t want to, but I picked up the 4 kilo weights and started working – after I shot him a dirty look. He’s a healthy BOY CHILD and should be working harder. I’m an OLD WOMAN and should be working less.

Gave a lot of thought to what I wrote about yesterday. Thought so much about it I think I might have handled one of those disagreement points better than usual. It came up in conversation. I could hear it in our words and the slightly harder edge in my brother’s voice. My head said ‘this is one of those times when he feels you’re not hearing him’. So I stopped trying to get my point across. I acknowledged what he said ‘I hear you, and agree’. I dropped the pitch and volume of my voice. And I heard him stumble a moment, expecting a fight and getting none. Then he dropped his voice volume and tone, and suddenly that horrible argument moment was over and done with without our getting into a shouting and/or blaming match.

….And no, it didn’t escape me that in handling and defusing the situation I had zero opportunity to speak my own mind. That could be an issue, so I hope nothing too important comes up. This whole thing began in part because I feel un-listened to. While I’m very pleased to have no arguments or bad feelings to overcome this morning, as far as the subject goes my brother has NO IDEA HOW I FEEL ABOUT IT. He’s assuming I feel one way or another because I haven’t spoken up. But I can’t speak up without causing an argument. And I can’t prevent and argument AND speak up. That’s two conflicting things for me. Either I concentrate on keeping the peace or I speak my mind. And if I continually choose to keep the peace, I end up feeling like my opinions and thoughts don’t matter anyway – which is exactly what started the whole fucking thing in the first place.

Why does this shit always fall to women? I never hear men talk about compromising themselves in order to keep the peace with someone. NEVER. They just bulldoze over. Me, me, me. Hear me. Listen to me. Honor MY fucking opinion. Oh, you have one too? Well, that’s just silly. You should think like me. You do, don’t you? Oh…you don’t? What’s wrong with you?

Round and round. Get ready, women. If you haven’t hit this shit in life yet, prepare yourself. It’s gonna happen, and you’ll be blamed no matter what you do. It’s what men do. How they react. It’s their fragile male egos, which we pamper and coddle because some of us like to get penises shoved up our vaginas. Or maybe all of you put up with it because you think you need men. We don’t, you know. Plenty of sperm in the sperm banks. We can kill every man on this planet and be just fine. Better than fine, with their male egos out of the way. We can make real peace, real change. And never, ever let another person with a penis think they’re better than us. Never, ever let them take over again. Return to a matriarchal society. Burn every book that uses ‘he’ as a gender neutral pronoun or ‘mankind’ to describe humanity. Destroy every testosterone driven film. And yes, cut off all the dicks of every male ever born because frankly I’d find it cathartic.

Right about now is the time when some man usually pops up and asks ‘are you a dyke?’

No, for the record, I’m straight. I just see men the way they really are. Oh, got a problem with that? Can’t reconcile the idea of a strong willed woman who’s not gay? You are so immature.

But that, of course, is just another male put down. Oh, if a woman has a strong opinion, she must be a lesbian. Regular women don’t talk like that. Real women don’t think like that. I’m rolling my eyes as I type.

No wonder I remained single all my life. Sure, part of it was choice. Part of it wasn’t. No one ever wanted to spend their life with me. And I suppose that’s got to do with having a strong opinion. Dad told me long ago that I’d scare men off. Too smart, too opinionated, too outspoken.

Odd, then, because he’s the man who made me this way. Encouraged me to think, to debate, to challenge his viewpoint at every opportunity.

I feel like a freak. Some Francis-stein that’s half modern woman and half old fashioned lady. Don’t know where I fit in, don’t know HOW to fit in.

A harsh woman

The morning has been derailed. How and why? Two well placed words; that’s all it took. Two words connected with (again) one of my uncle’s emails: Sarah Palin.

As if I want to hear anything that person with a vagina has to say! (SP is not a woman in my book; SP is a man with a vagina or womb, just like the word “woman” implies.)

The why of it all escapes me. Perhaps it was just to rile me up; people tend to find that shit funny. Like me getting angry and passionate over something is fucking funny. Ha, ha, ha! Look at the female getting all upset over women’s rights!

Some things are good. I find it good that I don’t live in the states anymore. I find it especially good that I have zero access to guns (great temptation this morning, and if I still lived in the US and had access to guns – which I would have IF I lived in the states because guns are fucking everywhere – I’d start killing people).

Some things are bad. My sciatica woke me up this morning, despite the exercise I’ve been getting. I’m disappointed in myself to not be able to ride out the latest tide of bullshit from my family without losing it.

Looking forward to my bro going to the comic book shop today. Good! Get the fuck out of the house!! Let me work on MY writing for a change. Feels a lot lately like my life revolves around my brother’s. Help him do his stuff. Make sure the kitchen is clean so he can cook dinner. Tidy up when he’s out of the house so it’s not a mess. Been trying so hard to make sure his life runs smoothly that my own is getting left behind.

Not that I have much of a life to live.

Things I don’t understand:

  • I don’t understand women in videos who get real excited and start screaming when one of their children announces they’re going to have a baby. Do. not. get it.
  • I don’t understand how so many people on tv shows can get involved in community projects yet remain such shitty people.
  • I don’t understand what’s taking so fucking long with the theatre group. All they need to do is set a date and announce it.
  • I don’t understand people who lie to make themselves feel better. Lying out of guilt I can understand. Lying because you want to hurt the other person or put them down, I don’t get.
  • I don’t understand anyone who supports 45 or any right-wing politician. Talking to those people is like hitting my head against a brick wall. They’re all ignorant. You can point out every hypocrisy in their agenda, and the followers all just nod their heads and say ‘yep’ like it makes sense.
  • I don’t understand men who think rape is funny, or something to be streamed live on Facebook, or something to be excused because they have “a sexual emergency”. Cut all their dicks off.
  • I don’t understand why I have such a hard time keeping it together.

…Right. Popped a codeine pill for the sciatica. Smoking a J to calm the Sarah Palin anger. And screw you if some judgmental crap just came up for you in your head; I’m fucking dealing with it in my own fucking way and fuck you if you don’t fucking get it.

I’ve been called a harsh woman, and I guess that’s true. Cross the line with me and you’ll never make amends. You can’t. My “line” goes pretty far. I’ll take a lot of shit, a lot of pain from people before I cut them off. But once cut off, that’s it. And if it seems a surprise to you, if you’re one of those people who turn around to look at me with a shocked expression on your face because up to that very moment I haven’t complained about you bashing me around every single second of your existence, then my response is simple: you have no human decency. Not even the concept of it. If you had any inkling of decency you’d understand your behavior is unacceptable. Hurtful. Wrong. But no. You try to make me feel I’m wrong. I reject that.

But I will mirror your behavior back to you. Laugh at rape and I’ll call for all dicks to be cut off. Treat me like a second class citizen and you’ll find a full scale revolt on your hands. Belittle me, hurt me, ridicule me – it will all come back to you in spades. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But never mistake a passage of time for the idea that I forgot what you did to me. I didn’t forget.

And I am a harsh woman.

Thankful

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There are plenty of times I accept the old adage it’ll get a lot worse before it gets better. The disarray that a large scale cleaning project brings, the slogging work of trying to lose those last five pounds – been there, done that. But I did not expect to experience the workings of that old adage with my head.

The last 24 hours I’ve experienced some of the worst sinus headaches of my life. Pain around my eyes, pulsing at my temples, radiating down my neck and into my shoulders. Stuffiness on a scale I only get during the worst of sinus infections. Coughing, drainage – you name it, I got it. And the dizziness is worse.

Give me a weak laugh because this is me getting well.

My bro expects me to get out of the house today and meet him downtown for a Turkish pizza. I don’t want to disappoint him; he’s been talking about Turkish pizza since our favorite place went down for renovations (it’s open again, so now there’s urgency in his talk). But if I get socked with more of what I had last night, I hesitate to go out. My goal this morning is to ride out the day between codeine pain killers and smoke, doing my best to ease my own discomfort without sending me to sleep. We’ll see how well I do.

Back to script writing. My idea to gender bend the last script set me on fire. As I went thru my writing, modifying the he’s to she’s and him’s to her’s, I began to get a real sense of what I was creating. A lot of what I had in the original script stands, but some I have to write from scratch. This piece is not fantasy; it is not set in a reality where men can get pregnant (which is a problem because pregnancy jokes were a big part of the original). Not doing that. But the rest is getting flipped, even down to substituting ‘goddess’ for ‘god’ every single time, and ‘gals’ for ‘guys’. The point of doing this is to emphasize how our every day language, particularly the way it’s used in the US, is male orientated – and I’m doing that by flipping the references. I figure if anyone gets annoyed by hearing ‘goddessdamn it’ rather than ‘goddamn it’, I’m hitting my mark. But throughout my notes, particularly to the actors, I need to make it clear that this needs to be played absolutely 100% straight. The men, tho shown as caretakers and generally submissive to the females, can NOT be effeminate. The women, tho shown as blunt and abrasive, can NOT be masculine. These people simple are what they are. The behavior they express seems outrageous now: where once I had the father harping on about checking the oil in your car, now the mother is doing it – and it shows how strange that behavior is. The crassness of what was a brother and now is a sister seems doubly crass. The worry and control exhibited by what once was the mother and now is the father almost feels over the top.

And how strange to have my characters keep saying ‘daughter’. Hearing parents refer to their male children as ‘son’ is fairly common, but hearing them refer to their female children as ‘daughter’ is weird.

The cultural references I sprinkled throughout the script are tough to switch up, too. Not many female counterparts to reference, and most are not as well known.

Most of all, this work is an eye opener to me regarding how rigidly my own mind is set in male dominated roles and labels.

Other notes on the script: I’m tossing any reference to dates. This piece shouldn’t be shackled by any particular decade in human history. Actor direction has to include a bit on make-up. I want the actors to use make-up but only to the extent a male would: a bit of foundation, some powder, maybe a hint of blush under the lights, but that’s it. Only one character should wear any other make-up, and that’s a male – but only to the extent of some eyeliner and maybe a bit more blusher. These are people and just people; the paint shouldn’t reflect any particular sub-set of people.

I’ve even thought about the idea of doing as sexless as possible. Removing all references to ‘wife’ or ‘husband’, ‘he’ or ‘she’. I might still write a version like that.

…Whatever ick I feel over this illness is offset by my re-ignited enthusiasm for the script. And for that, I’m thankful.

Make All Women the Norm

International Women’s Day. So far I’ve seen various articles on it. Most are men talking about how the day should be celebrated, or ‘fun’ little articles on how roses are being handed out to random women in a particular city. Would it kill the media to focus on strong female role models? Or even whisper about our pay inequality?

Apparently so.

And all the women shown to me today are thin, young, wearing fashionable clothes and make-up. Not a one over 40 (much less 50), not a one brave enough to show their true, unpainted face.

It brings to mind the very basic arguments of feminism: what and how can we be and act? Why do we even need to ask these questions? Why is every action or non-action we take scrutinized so fully?

Make-up. When I was young, I was all for it. I felt more attractive and therefore more confident. As I sit here sans make-up and with a lot more experience, I understand that the reaction I had when younger was denial: I denied the fact that I felt invisible and therefore used brightly colored paints to decorate my face in attempt to stand out and be noticed. That’s what truly lay behind my earlier viewpoint, tho I was unable to acknowledge it at the time.

And I believe that mindset lay behind much of the back and forth bullshit I’m hearing these days. It’s reinforced by media stereotypes, cultural influences, paradigms and idioms. It’s cemented in by jokes and situational comedies, by cover spreads and centerfolds, by our own desire to be seen, heard, and valued.

See me: we paint our eyes, outlining them in dark colors, adding shading and glints, we glue on false eyelashes, we stick color bits of plastic on our eyeballs to make our eye color change, we draw in dramatic eyebrows. See me; I’m here.

Hear me: we paint our lips, outlining them, plumping them, adding gloss and glitter all in an effort to draw attention to what we say.

Value me: we paint our cheeks with blush; too much and we are whores, too little and we are sallow-faced and unhealthy, but just right and we can be mothers, leaders, world changers.

Using make-up isn’t wrong. It doesn’t make you wrong, or less. But with the obvious (tho little discussed) health issues associated with make-up use, it does beg the question why women feel the need to continue using it.

We question why smokers continue to use a product dangerous to their health.

We tell drug users they’re killing themselves, and they need to get clean.

We body shame the fat, tell them they’re costing our health care systems millions just because they’re lazy.

But we don’t address the ‘window dressing’ women feel compelled to do. If we do, we are shunned. Extremists. Un-womanly women.

And everyone seems to think the large issues need tackling first. That’s silly. It’s the small stuff that should be worked on first: build from the ground up. Show real women: women over 40, women over 50, fat women, skinny women, ugly women, beautiful women. Women with make up on and women with make up off. Make all women the norm. We need not be one thing or another, this or that. That truly is extremism.

 

 

 

You Bet Your Burqa

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This is a woman, with loves and hates, opinions and thoughts. See her.

Been wondering if I have enough hate stirred up to write a post. How silly! Of course I have enough hate stirred up. I’m awake, aren’t I?

Current target: all this ongoing bullshit about burqas and burkinis. Or let me state this a bit clearer: all this ongoing bullshit about what women wear. Because that’s what we’re really talking about, isn’t it? One more chance to weigh in one what’s appropriate for women to wear or not wear.

Get your fucking opinions off my body.

Why aren’t we focusing on the men who rape? The men who hate? The men who bully, who blow shit up, who lie and cheat and threaten? Why are we talking about what a small group of women choose to wear?

Sounds like a fucking attempt to shame us once more.

Let me make myself very clear: in today’s climate, I do not think anyone should be able to fully cover their face up 100% of the time in 100% of public places. No way! But why are we outlawing women’s outfits? Why are we focusing entirely on women? Why?

The Netherlands introduced a law about covering up your face. These days, if you’re asked to show your face, you’ve got to. I’m okay with that. I understand people of devote Muslim faith may have an issue with it – but can’t we accommodate those few? Are you telling me it’s really so much of a pain in the ass to provide female officers who could take the burqa-clad woman in question into a private room so she’d remove her veil? I mean, we do it for strip searches (or should; I know plenty of places in the states where women are regularly assaulted by men under the guise of ‘strip searches’ – it’s illegal, ladies).

If anyone’s created the climate of hate towards the Muslim religion’s poster children (and that’s women in full burqas), it’s the media. Why do I continually see pix of fully clad women? I’m living in one of the most integrated cities in Europe and let me tell you, I don’t even think I’ve seen one. I’m sure there are a few out there, but there sure as fuck aren’t as many as the goddamn media will have you believe.

Once more, it’s all women’s fault. Why not just brand us with a big ‘W’? Make us wear stars on our sleeves. You already treat us like second class citizens. You already cut our pay in comparison to our male counterparts. You already tell us we’re wrong if we choose to stay at home and raise children because modern women work for a living, but we’re equally wrong if we go out and get a career because then we’re neglecting our children. And don’t even get me started on women who don’t reproduce. We’re just taking up space.

I am so right there with Trey and South Park when Butters said women are pissed off, ready to lock all the men away in a basement, and milk them for semen.

You bet your burqa.

Small flies of annoyance

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About 5 in the evening yesterday my ‘not as tough as the swimming pool’ workout put me down. It was like a creeper bud: took a long time after the initial incident before I felt what I put my body through. By 9 I said goodnight, brushed my teeth, and don’t even remember falling asleep because it happened so damned fast.

I did get out for errands in the afternoon, too. Down to the market to buy stuff for dinner, back up to make the sauce. Down to the next shopping area over to buy some coffee on safe, lug it back to the apartment. Didn’t do the stairs – at all. I was concerned I may have injured my knee with some of the movements in the gym; it was a bit painful (just exercise; better today). Even stuck to my commitment and did my language lessons.

Saw only 4 stubs in the ashtrays this morning. No wonder I feel a little headachy.

My FB comment has, of course, drawn comments. Most people who know me know it’s one of those small explosions I do once in a while. That burst of anger that comes out fast and is, to the unobservant, uncalled for. My uncle has questioned me on it – again, of course. I’m trying to think of something that is (1) clear, (2) calm, and (3) unquestionable as a reply. Frankly, if you have to question why a woman fears Trump getting into office, well, I think your IQ must be somewhere around 80 then, right? And I’m gonna be completely un-PC right now: if you support Trump, you can’t call yourself a woman. You may have a vagina, but you’re not a woman. You’re a dude. Not even a guy, but a dude. No sane woman would stand up and say ‘Yes! Yes, please pay me less than a man even though I have the same qualifications. Please grab my pussy; it makes me excited. Please call me a dog and a whore – I like it and I call women dogs and whores myself. And of course if a woman claims she’s been sexually assaulted she’s a liar and to blame for the whole incident herself.’ No. You’re insane. Certifiable. Go seek help. And stay the fuck away from me.

And speaking of un-PC, I’m gonna share another very un-PC thought. I’m damned angry over people like Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. I don’t care if they want to fork out money to have their dicks cut off. What I’m angry about is that they support gender bias through they’re “portrayal” of womanhood – primped, pushed up, and padded. I mean, if one of them – ONE OF THEM – when through the surgery and became anything close to a real woman – meaning no make-up, no push-ups, no this or that because that shit is fucking EXHAUSTING, just be a PERSON – I wouldn’t be on a tirade. But they don’t. Look at what society thinks a woman is: she must wear a dress, she must wear make-up, she must wear high heels, she must show cleavage, she must try to look sexy at all costs. Excuse me, but that shit’s got NOTHING to do with being a woman. That narrowed, bigoted, biased view – that stereotype – is proven out every time someone goes through sex identity surgery and comes out looking like a magazine cover.

How fucking dare you!

Goddamn it.

Am I the only one seeing this shit?

Society’s fucked, the planet is fucked, and none of us have to worry about going to hell because we’re already there. Give me one good reason – a good one, mind you – for any of these lines we’re drawing in the sand. Because I sure as fuck can’t figure one out.

So glad I’m going in the water today. Might sit on the bottom of the pool, holding my breath. Think for a moment or two about breathing in liquid because why, why, why go on when there’s so much shit piled up?

Goddess, I hate my family. Hate them to the core of me. Hate them beyond redemption. No wonder I have such a screwed up idea about “love”. I was made to say that word to all these people I can’t stand. I love you. Every holiday. Didn’t matter what they did or said; I had to always say that.

I can’t love someone who tells me in no uncertain terms that they think I’m less than. Put whatever you want in that comparison; I’ve heard them all. And I’ve always come out wanting in the judgmental eyes of my family.

Ach! Shoulda just stayed off Fuckbook. Shoulda just kept quiet – again. Shoulda, shoulda, shoulda.

In this maelstrom, I’ve been trying to breathe. Find that calm spot. You might have noticed I’ve got a bit of anger coming up. I’ve noticed that, too. And yes, I’m doing my damnedest to not bite everyone’s head off but it’s getting fucking difficult. Real difficult.

I guess this is the wall. There’s always a wall. In everything. A time when everything feels too much. A time when you so desperately want to give in. The wall. Christ, I’m fucking tired of facing these.

Didn’t take long to hit it, did it?

…No. No, it didn’t.

Right. Temporary set-backs. Small flies of annoyance. Things trying to distract me. Ohm. I don’t have to respond. Ohm. I have the luxury of staying off social media and not opening my email. Ohm. No one is gonna force me to talk to anyone I don’t want to. Ohm.

And as for small flies of annoyance, I need to remember this: flies are born in shit. They live one fucking day and then they die and return to shit.

Ohm.

Manic Tornadoes: We End Up on Menopause

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My sleep routine has begun to topple over. When doctors ask about my sleep habits, I’m honest. I can stay in bed 6-8 hours every night. That leads to a ‘oh, you sleep enough’ or worse, ‘oh, you sleep too much for bipolar’. I should probably lead with this:

I’m laying down on my bed for 6-8 hours every night. I do not sleep 6-8 hours every night. I toss, I turn. I do not know how long I toss and turn because I stopped looking at the fucking clock every ten fucking minutes back when I was 20 something – it’s counterproductive.

Right now my body is trying to turn me completely around. I’m tired as can be sometimes during the day, but round about 10 p.m. I get a devilish burst of energy – an hour before I generally head to bed. I toss and turn so much trying to get relaxed and comfortable I almost drive myself nuts. And that nagging feeling that I’m always sitting on a piss is coming back, too.

I’m going manic. Or hypomanic. Whatever.

No big surprise, really. My last 2 posts have been bleeding POSITIVE, for pete’s sake. Me. Positive. Oh, yeah. That’s a warning sign.

Contrary to what I’ve been undergoing, I actually had an appetite last night for dinner. That’s weird, I know. Most of the stuff I’m reading would suggest people generally need less food when they’re on the up. But up until last night, my evening meals were VERY light. Light enough I was beginning to have concerns for myself (I don’t want to drop the extra weight I’m carrying too quick – dangerous and lousy for your skin). I had an actual plate full last night. A sensible sized piece of meatloaf, 2 big piles of veg, and some bread. And I ate every bite!

Wow, that is weird….me complaining over me NOT eating. I’ve complained over eating too much, not eating the right things, eating at bad times of the day. Suddenly I find myself on the flip side of food: most days I struggle to eat a minimum of 1500 calories. Since I’m also active, I don’t want to drop my caloric intake too far. And frankly since my cooochie-koo has given up the ghost my body’s been changing so bleeding much I barely recognize it.

Menopause…what a fucking trip it is, ladies. Since I have no female role models in my life and HAVEN’T had any for a long time, I didn’t have any foreknowledge walking into this thing other than (1) it’s a natural event and (2) every female goes through it. There’s some things I’ve learned now that I wish I knew then, so I’m gonna share ’em (WARNING! Brutal honesty ahead).

Let’s tackle the bad boy in the room first: HOT FLASHES. Like most women, I knew about hot flashes. I’d heard the jokes. I’d read the warnings about hormone replacements. I was prepared (I thought) to deal with it. Turns out I was no more prepared for it than I would have been for birth. Nothing you think you know about feeling hot is going to make a hill of beans difference when the first hot flash hits you. Nothing. ‘Cause there ain’t nothing out there like it. You’re set on fire from the inside. For me, it was a growing heat in my solar plexus area that spread and grew and kept getting hotter and hotter. There’s no escaping it, no fanning it away. You’ve just got to ride it as best as possible, which means keep fanning yourself, keep using cold items to cool your skin, keep opening windows and doors to step outside until it passes. It’s not fun, and goddess help you if you think you’re going to be able to wear fucking makeup through it. You won’t be able to. Maybe in the first 3 years you can; my hot flashes were small, brief, and infrequent at first. By the time I was in my 8th year of perimenopause (the state when your period is infrequent but still shows up), the hot flashes were something cooked up in the pits of hell. Oh, and if you’re not scared yet, here’s the kicker: they can continue for the rest of your life. Yep. The rest. of. your. life!

Perimenopause. I googled it quickly to make sure I was using the correct term. The definition on-line is (and I quote): “the period of a woman’s life shortly before the occurrence of the menopause”. SHORTLY before? SHORTLY? Whoa! I do NOT consider 10 years to be “shortly”. It’s one hell of a long time. If you live to be 80, it’s fucking 1/8 of your entire fucking life! Fucking shortly my ass! And yes, 10 years isn’t all that rare.

Mood swings are a hard thing for me to talk about because I was subject to wild mood swings BEFORE I started down this road. I can tell you they got much, much worse. Everything was amplified, everything was just MORE.  I had to grow a little philosophical about it in the end and tried to see it as a reverse puberty. The forces at work are the same, and the process is just as mysterious and fucking insane. It didn’t help much when I was in the grips of it, tho. About 3 years into perimenopause I hit a depression like no other. My depressive periods up until then had been what I’d now describe as melancholic. I’d be down, but I could function. Three years in and I could no longer function. I couldn’t look at people. I didn’t stop crying. It was a horrible, dark time that made me realize what serious depression was all about. I was put on an anti-depressant. A year later I was soaring, reaching a manic state I’d never seen before. For 2 and a half years I went like nothing else. I WAS superwoman. I set up a charity dedicated to bringing the arts to rural communities. I gathered performers from all over, brought them into downtown Nowheresville and let them do their thing. I set up video performances with some unbelievably high status directors, including an award winning Italian woman I can’t believe even responded to my request. I was EVERYWHERE spreading my message; the most together, with it, continually happy and upbeat I’ve ever achieved in my life. Then the bubble burst and I burnt out. Had to pick up the pieces again. Shut everything down; could no longer handle any of it. Since then I’ve been up and down, up and down. Sometimes within the hour, sometimes days, and sometimes weeks. There is no rhyme or reason anymore, no rhythm to count on. One more thing: sex drive. Mine went from what I’d call a normal state to overdrive. I stole every moment I could to masturbate and fantasized sexually ALL THE TIME. That was the last shout. I now have no interest in sex with another partner. I DO still masturbate from time to time, but many times I disappoint myself and fail to reach orgasm no matter what I do.

And then there’s the hair loss. Down THERE. I can’t even begin to tell you about my horror when I first noticed my pubes were marching down my legs. That’s on top of a good sprinkling of grey hairs, too. Oh, goddess. This point may not be an issue if you’re one of the people who’ve gotten into shaving everything. I was always a trimmed girl; keep it neat but don’t fucking shave it off. Had to be; my pubes tend to be ingrown hairs if I shave them off and no matter how turned off you may be seeing pubic hair it’s a thousand times worse seeing red bumps from ingrown hairs everywhere! It’s also just icky and itchy. So what if I’m hairy? At least I shave my pits.

Oh, but don’t frown quite yet, ladies! Cause hair loss down there is supplemented by hair GROWTH on your face. I mean dark man like hairs. Sometimes spiky sliver grey hairs that you can’t see but you sure as hell can feel cause they poke a whole in your damned finger! Yeesh! I now have to spend a good half hour every fucking night patrolling my face under a magnifying mirror. Pluck, pluck. Tweeze, wax. And the timing of growth spurts has just been fucking with me: I’ll clean up my entire face, no sparse eyebrow hairs or anything poking from my chin or upper lip every DAY yet still I catch these big things dangling from my face like they’ve come from a fucking UFO and just LANDED there while I was walking down the street or something. Geez!

Wrinkles and sagging skin and cellulite, oh my! Think you got some BEFORE menopause starts? Get ready, cuz here it comes! It’s distressing to watch yourself age. Distressing to see your skin begin to sag and all those tiny lines that once didn’t show up unless you were badly lit are now becoming obvious in any light. You learn to love yourself again. And again. And again. ‘Cause from now on, it’s not stopping.

My body odor’s changed, too. I used to smell like flowers when I’d sweat. It was completely nuts. I stopped using deodorant and perfumes all together. Bees followed me everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Can’t even begin to tell you how many times someone asked me what perfume I was wearing when I wasn’t wearing anything at all (I even went to non-scented shampoo and I don’t use hair products). Now, I look back at that time as lucky! I STINK!! The smell from my underarm pits drives ME up the wall. And no amount of bathing gets it off. Never. I can step right out of the shower and smell it on me. BLAH! It’s completely disgusting.

Best advice I can give any woman – EVERY woman out there is to stay informed about your options and keep communicating with the people in your life. It’s important for them to know what’s happening to you. Menopause is a fucking force of nature, people, as terrible and frightening as a tornado. It WILL come through and whip away at things you once thought important. It will fly things into your life that you never would have considered before. It will leave you changed, yes, but changed to a person you may have forgotten you were. Or forgotten you could be.