Distractions

In the past 24 hours, I’ve had to turn down an invite to see a local band and nix my language lesson – all in the name of health. Does not help that I feel manic and am having a difficult time settling. I’m probably erring on the side of caution, but after six weeks ill this spring plus losing my hearing, I don’t really think of that as a minus. Still…it’s hard not to feel like a wimp. I’m not ill. Trouble is, I want to stay that way.

Avoiding class today because we were scheduled for a field trip to the local library. Offered a three month free library membership, which I wanted. But it’s cold and wet and windy again. Chances of getting soaked on the walk to and from the library are high, and even higher for being exposed to something. So I’m bundling down. Drinking juice. Staying warm.

My commitment to the theatre group runs through the end of October. Like it or not, I have weeks of vigilance ahead of me.

Vigilance kept me from a full work out yesterday, too. All went well, topped another 3 km on the cross trainer, felt strong. Then I got off the cross trainer, and felt a twinge in my knee. Tried walking it out, both on the floor and at a very slow pace on the treadmill but it kept giving me gip, so I followed the damned instructions on the machine (the one that said STOP if you’re having pain) and headed home. *sigh* It’s not like I wanted to. But again, experience spoke to me: nine months unable to walk after tearing the cartilage in both knees makes for a powerful memory.

Been watching Ally McBeal again. Very dated at this point. Especially post Ugly Betty and Drop Dead Diva. Had to remind my brother it was a ground breaking series when it came out. Ally McBeal was one of the first shows to portray a single, working woman who didn’t close herself off in a male world. She was romantic, soft, and very flawed. Oh, but there are elements that grate at me! I watch it now and pity my younger self and all women of that era. THIS is what we thought was marvelous at the time. I can only hope that the rapidity of strong female role models emerging in the entertainment industry will be mimicked in reality.

Ach. It comes too little, and too late for me.

Not too late for me to capture what I know, though. My particular brand of family issues and insecurities is brewing into something. Will I leave an opus? Goddess, I hope so. I don’t feel I have much to give as a person. I give what I can, trust when I’m able – but I recognize it’s far too little in most instances, and I judge myself meanly.

…Being left alone with only my thoughts brewing isn’t helping.

C’mon, distractions!

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Broken Levee

C’mon…who didn’t think of this when they saw the headlines? How could you not? Most of the headlines quoted the chorus. Bet I’m not the only one posting the song today.

On the heels of one of the worst natural disasters pampered America has had to deal with, my uncle sent me a link to an article discussing the melting of the arctic permafrost level, with a note saying in HIS opinion, this was being caused by a change in the inner most core of the earth, the magma center – even though he’s not a scientist, and probably (from his comment) hasn’t opened a scientific book since he was in school.

Goddess, save us from idiots!

How did I come from such inbred, backwards-thinking stock?

Took the day off yesterday, as the temp soared above 30 degrees. Watched a rather non-thrilling thriller out of Sweden. Interesting to see Swedish landscapes, but other than that, I couldn’t recommend it. Far too slow. In fact, my attention kept popping in and out of the story – as it did all day long. My brain is cooking up part three in The Terror Trilogy.

In between the master dish being prepped somewhere in the back kitchen of my head, I’ve also been aware (somewhat) of the shit that’s been dished up before my eyes. Caught a line last night about an older woman – ‘She’s held up well’. Held up well? You couldn’t actually spit out that a woman over 40 was still sexy and attractive? “Held up well”! Like we’re a bridge or a building. Gee, those supports have held up pretty well over the years… Ugh.

Can’t seem to finish Perelandra by C.S. Lewis. Can’t get beyond a sentence before I interject (often aloud) ‘Because he’s a man!’. So many male dominated religious overtones I just can’t take it.

And you know what? That shit’s got under my skin, too.

I’ve been writing my trilogy with all female characters taking the forefront. Why not? So many stories are all about men, and have men as central characters. They don’t need to be male characters, it’s just a sign of the culture. But the thought occurred to me that my work will get dissed because I used all female characters. That the idea that I’m representing the effect on ALL humans through using female characters will somehow get twisted into it ONLY affecting women, and that’s not the case. I’m just using women to convey the story.

I’ll bet my bottom dollar some man gets the issue confused.

And then we’ll have to have the discussion, and I’ll get accused of being a this or that lesbian, feminist, and/or left wing radical.

But there’s nothing like telling me no to get me to do it. My determination is ramping up, and right now I kind of regret ever writing a story with a male lead in it. I don’t want to go THAT far. I don’t want to write men out my stories entirely. After all, they still dominate this planet. Can’t really write a story without including them. Oh, they seem to be perfectly able to write stories about themselves without including women. Yes. Yes, indeed. But I flatter myself that I’m a broader thinker than those closed minded individuals. I don’t think any story can truly be told without all sides being presented. Women have to deal with the fallout of men’s actions all the bleeding time. We’ve been doing it since the beginning of time, when they started to blame us for being ‘evil’, ‘weak’, and ‘subservient’.

…One more thing. I am so sick of seeing/reading/hearing stories about women written by men. They never get it right. It’s true; they really don’t understand women. They can write about what they see, what they hear from us – but they don’t understand the inner workings. They don’t understand that continual pressure, that continual diss in every aspect of society.

Sick. of. it.

Oh, I’m angry. I know. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a real issue underneath my rants that SHOULD anger people.

And once that wall breaks, that bit of peer pressure or societal pressure that we’re subjected to every second of our lives…Well, everything just comes pouring out. The built-up resentment. The anger, and the frustration. At least; that’s the way it is for me.

‘Cause, baby…It’s been raining a long time now, and my levee’s broken…

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.