Carol of the Bells

Ah, Monday.

It was a long Monday; I work long days on Mondays and Tuesdays and half-days on Thursdays and Fridays now. This is my second week of working this schedule and I am beginning to somewhat adjust to it. Last night I watched Ready Player One and didn’t care much for it, to be honest–and I really wanted to like it. An appealing young cast, an adventure, and lots of 80’s references? Sign me the fuck up.

But it’s not a good sign when halfway through the movie you put it on pause, go make dinner, eat it, and clean up after it before walking back into the living room, only to look at the television and remember you were watching a movie.

And here it is Tuesday morning already and I failed in my write a blog entry every day for the first time ever this year when I wasn’t  out of town. Mondays are long days, yo, and I was tired when I got home last night. Tuesday is also a long day….so we’ll see how this goes.

I spent most of the weekend rebuilding my back-up hard drive and new flash drive; rescuing electronic files and deleting all the duplicates…of which there were many. It was incredibly tedious; I also worked on reorganizing my Cloud drive so it works more efficiently (there’s still more work to be done there, have no fear) and hoped that doing all this relatively tedious, mindless work would help reboot my brain and creativity, which it sort of did. I started editing the hard copy of a short story last night, and it was one of those things where I thought how many edits did I do on this story already? But that’s the great thing about distance; you see things more clearly than you do when you’re in the heat of the moment of writing the story.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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Call Me

Sunday and a cold morning in the Lost Apartment. I slept late, as one always does after the annual Christmas party I attended last night, and am trying to feel my way through the day. I got little to nothing done as far as cleaning is concerned yesterday; more’s the pity. However, I did get a lot of work done organizing electronic files and rebuilding my back-up hard drive and my new flash drive, which has to count for something. The work continues today–I will eventually start cleaning–and I may get some writing done later on, but I am not counting on it. At some point I’ll clean my desk and perhaps then…perhaps then I will get some editing and/or writing done.

We’ll see how it goes. I also have some project organizing to do; and some other things that need to get finished so I am ready to face this next week of work ready and a-rarin’ to go. Lists are ever so helpful.

One thing that appears to be lost is my short story submissions spreadsheet–which means I no longer know what stories have been submitted where (so as not to try them again with the same story). It’s possible it’s here archived somewhere–seriously, doing this time-consuming task has taught me that 1) I am a hoarder when it comes to back-ups and electronic files and 2) I really need to stay more on top of keeping the electronic files organized. This would not be near the time-consuming nightmare that it is had I not been lazy and just taken a minute or two here and there to stay organized, rather than just tossing everything into a new folder and saying I’ll organize this shit later.

Well, it’s later and I am not really enjoying this too much, quite frankly.

It is kind of amazing, though, the things I kept to deal with later. Years of writer’s organization emails from every organization I’ve ever belong to; a vast archive of my time on the MWA board (including boarding passes for flights from years ago) to may many duplicate file copies for manuscripts and short stories and essays and…let’s just say I finally got a fairly good look at just how much I have actually written over the years since I started using computers–and it’s probably not all of it; I am relatively certain years of work are missing. None of the newspaper and magazine writing I did in the 1990’s is anywhere; long gone, would be my guess. (I do have actual clippings of those pieces in a box somewhere; see what I mean about pushing shit off because I don’t feel like dealing with it? It’s a most serious problem.)

Although there is something to be said for hoarding; I just found my short stories submissions spreadsheet.

And back into the files I go. Have a lovely Sunday, everyone!

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This Town

I am technically considered a baby boomer; I was born in one of the last years that falls into that classification. But I’ve never felt like a child of any decade other than the 1980’s; even though I remember the 1960’s I was too young to be anything other than a passive observer. Likewise, most of the 1970’s I was young-ish; I graduated from high school in 1978 while I was still sixteen (turning seventeen the first week of college), and not turning twenty-one until 1982. So, if anything, I was probably mostly shaped by the 1980’s, even though I wasn’t a child of that decade. The 1980’s changed and shaped me and what I went through in that decade probably had the biggest impact on the person I was to become. The 1980’s were an interesting decade–horrific in some ways, terrific in others–but without question, I always think of the Go-Go’s when I think of that decade.

I remember the first time I heard “Our Lips Are Sealed” on the radio; it was different from anything else in the transitioning world of music; disco was dying everywhere except gay bars and so was operatic hard rock. New wave and punk were starting to make their presences felt on the charts, and of course the launch of MTV changed the world of popular music forever. I bought the Beauty and the Beat album the day it was officially released, at Tower Records on Blackstone Avenue in Fresno (I spent a lot of money in that Tower Records over the years). I loved it. It was one of the few albums I played cover-to-cover, over and over again. I wound up buying their albums on their release dates (alas, in the 1980’s there were only two more–Vacation and Talk Show–before they broke up the first time and an era ended), saw them multiple times in concert, and even bought their solo recordings (Jane Wiedlin’s solo recordings are spectacular and never got the attention they deserved).

I was distraught when they broke up.

So, naturally, when I heard Holly West was doing an anthology of crime stories based on the music of the Go-Go’s, I unashamedly contacted her and asked if I could write one for her. (I never do this, by the way. I will submit to open calls, but I never directly contact an editor to ask if I can write something for them.) Much to my delight, she said yes, gave me a list of song titles to choose from, and I picked “This Town.”

I honestly don’t know where the story came from. I cued up Beauty and the Beat on my computer one morning and blasted it while cleaning…listened to “This Town” on repeat a couple of times, and then sat down at the computer and started writing the story.

I was rather pleased with it, and so was Holly. The rest is history.

And when I found out Jane Wiedlin had written an introduction and the book was blurbed by 80’s MTV veejay Alan Hunter…what a fucking thrill.

And here’s the opening, for a taste.

Our IDs were fake, but no one seemed to care. Even when a burly bouncer asked to see them, his bare meaty arms adorned with tattoos, his bored eyes just flicked over the laminate before waving us inside. Celia was right about that, like she was right about everything. She could always find someone with coke to share or sell, or who was happy to share their blunt with us. She was a golden girl, the kind I used to think only existed in books or movies, the girl that’s too perfect to exist, the one every other girl wants to be friends with, wants to be. The one all the guys notice first, their eyes wide open and their jaws gone slack.

 She always had the trendiest new make-up, the first to try out a daring new look we were too cowardly to try but quick to copy, always the first, the one everyone else imitated. She seemed to glow from inside, drawing everyone’s eyes to her effortlessly, and she somehow managed to always look perfect, even when she was drunk, even after dancing for hours when our make-up was running down our cheeks and perspiration dampened our armpits. Her skirts were just the tiniest bit shorter than everyone else’s, her tops seemed to fit her in a way they didn’t fit anyone else, her hair thicker and shinier and bouncier. She pulled in guys like night insects to a white light, caught up in her magic, wanting her. They only noticed the rest of us once she’d turned her attention elsewhere. We didn’t mind taking second place to her because it seemed like the natural order of things. She always knew the right thing to say—whether kind or insulting—and we all gravitated to her, wanting to be her friends, to be her. She was our pledge class president, organized, efficient, determined we be the best pledge class our Omega Psi chapter had ever seen. Even the sisters seemed to be a little in awe of her, grateful she’d picked Omega Psi out of all the offers she’d had—every sorority had offered her a bid, I’d overheard one sister telling another at Monday night dinner, her voice awed as she went on to say that had never happened in the history of the Greek system at Tulane.

And she made us all feel special, whispering “Sisters” to us as we hooked our pinkie fingers and whispered the word back to her, committing to a lifelong bond with her.

She was Celia, and we were better for knowing her, special for being her sisters, like she’d selected us to be pledges and not the actives.

She somehow even knew the best places to catch the parades at our first Mardi Gras, and wasn’t from New Orleans.

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Another Brick in the Wall

We’re in a flash flood warning until six this evening, which doesn’t bode well for running my errands today. But all I have to do is stop at CVS, get the mail, return my library book, and possibly stop somewhere to get a gift for Paul for Christmas (which doesn’t have to be done today; I might even be able to do it on-line; I will probably check on that once I finish this blog entry).

I didn’t get nearly as much cleaning done as I’d intended last night; I hit a wall of exhaustion at one point, and so the cleaning still mostly needs to be done. I pretty much spent the rest of the evening lying in bed and reading, and part of today is probably going to fall into that category as well. I am fluffing the last load of clothes right now in the dryer, and I also have a dishwasher load to put away. The floors need to be done, and of course, there’s the disaster area currently passing as the upstairs. I also need to start rebuilding my flash drive and organizing the former back-up back-up hard drive to be the back -up hard drive. My biggest concern over the Big Data Disaster of December 2018 is that I’ve lost a lot of momentum–not knowing what I was working on, or where I was at with it, is, as you can probably imagine, more than a little annoying.

I remain hopeful that reconstructing both drives will somehow get my momentum going again. We shall see.

So, once I finish with the dishes and the laundry this morning I’m going to start cleaning while doing the reconstruction work. I am also going to try to work on revising the early chapters of Bury Me in Satin, which I am considering renaming We Shall Die in Darkness. I’m not convinced that I should make this change, of course; it occurred to me last night that as spooky and Gothic as Bury Me in Satin sounds, it doesn’t really fit the book; perhaps part of my problem with getting this bitch of a novel written is coming directly from slight dissatisfaction from the title not really fitting perfectly. Maybe I’ll read some T. S. Eliot, see if there are any great lines in The Four Quartets I can use.

Eliot is often good for that; so is Shakespeare.

I also have some organizing to do for a project I am going to be spending most of next year coordinating; and if I start out organized, I will be ahead of the game.

We shall see how that works out, won’t we?

I already feel like I’ve wasted this entire weekend, and it’s only Saturday morning.

So, without further ado, ’tis back to the spice mines with me.

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Magic

Friday evening, with the weekend looming large and lonely, as Paul is gone and the Lost Apartment is really weirdly quiet without him. He’s not very big nor is he loud, but when he’s gone the apartment just seems enormous and empty.

Funny how that works.

But the Lost Apartment is an utter and complete mess, and I am going to try to focus and get a lot of cleaning done today. I am tired and drained from the work week–despite only working five hours yesterday and merely four today–and so I think mindless cleaning is in order to reset my mind and creativity. Tomorrow I need to run get the mail and return a library book–a short voyage that should over-all take less than an hour; I was thinking about getting the car washed tomorrow but it’s supposed to rain all day so there’s no point in bothering with that (and I am sure the rain means a return of the hideous cold weather; yay!) and so I am going to try to get some writing/editing done–even if said editing is simply rereading manuscripts and making notes.

I also think I need to rework the first five chapters of Bury Me in Satin. They are just so…bare, and I am thinking up new things as I write that need to be threaded back into the beginning. I love when the story starts to emerge from the fog, and I think, oh yes, this makes sense, but I need to go back and put this stuff into earlier chapters because I can’t just spring it on people.

So, the last load of bed linens now agitates in the washer, and the second-to-last is spinning in the dryer. I have another load of laundry to do–how I am creating so much laundry with Paul gone?–and I need to unload the dishwasher. Scooter also is feeling particularly lonely and needy this evening as well–he has been ever since Paul left. It’s really sweet–although I know I am a mere substitute–because he curls up inside my arm every night in bed, purring, and stays there most of the night. (He usually does this with Paul, but you know what? It’s still sweet. Scooter is an incredibly sweet cat.)

All right, I’m going to do the floors.

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Rock with You

Well, I tried plugging in the old back-up hard drive to Paul’s computer with the old iOS on it, but no, the latest system upgrade made that back-up hard drive unreadable by any Mac, the fuckers. The good news is I discovered that I backed up the back up hard drive in August, so there’s a fairly recent version. Sure, I lost some stuff, but I think I printed out almost everything so I at least have a hard copy to reconstruct the file from, and yes, I now understand that back-ups absolutely positively must be done every week. I also realize that rather than using Mac compatible products I have to only use Mac products, as they always survive iOS upgrades–my secondary one was a Mac product, and it works just fine. So, part of my time over the weekend is going to be spent reorganizing computer files, backing things up, and so on and so forth. Annoying, yes, but at the same time a kind of relatively mindless task that, while fatiguing on some levels, will also free up my mind to be creative, so there is that.

Heavy heaving sigh.

So, do I bother taking it to the Apple Store to recover the data (or try), or do I just re-initialize it, wiping it completely and start using it again (as the back-up back-up?

I guess I could call the Apple Store and talk to someone.

Heavy heaving sigh.

The good thing, I keep telling myself, is that I had backed up most of what was current, or at least currently being worked on, on the Cloud so I could access it on the iPad whilst in Kentucky; pretty much anything and everything else I’ve written since the last time everything was backed up primarily came out of my  handwritten journals and had simply been typed into electronic files, and yes, I know, but I also printed them all out. So I can recreate the files, if necessary. But the bad thing is I don’t really know what precisely is gone. But I think the malaise of the last summer that lasted through the fall was a blessing, because it means not a lot of work was lost.

It’s truly frightening to contemplate how fragile the data that is my work is in actuality.

That’s probably why I tend to pretend that it isn’t, fingers in my ears and singing la la la la la I can’t hear you.

Sigh.

So this weekend–or part of it anyway–will be spent trying to figure out what material was lost and needs to be replaced (thank God for “search this Mac” function), but that’s something I can do while I am cleaning. I only work a half-day today, so I am going to try to get all the cleaning out of the way today so I can focus on writing and editing this weekend. I really really need to get the final read of Royal Street Reveillon out of the way; hopefully I can get some chapters of Bury Me in Satin done, and I also want to read some of the new short stories for the collection one last time to make sure they’re okay. (I am a little concerned/worried about “Don’t Look Down.”)

And now, ’tis off to the spice mines with me.

Happy Friday!

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Do That to Me One More Time

New Orleans bipolar weather has sadly struck again. And while it certainly hasn’t gotten as cold as it was a few weeks ago, when the sun is down it’s been in the forties only heating up to the high fifties and low sixties in the sunshine; but in the mornings it hasn’t warmed up enough yet as I sit at my computer, shivering in horror. But the coffee is definitely warming me up. I have a short day at work today and a short day tomorrow; I am hoping I can get most of the errands done on these two days so I can spend the weekend (other than a Christmas party on Saturday night) with my nose in my manuscripts.

Must. Get. Them. Done.

In other exciting news, the cover for Murder-a-Go-Go’s, an anthology edited by Holly West, has dropped this morning! You can view it here at BOLO Books. My story is called “This Town,” and is probably one of the most deliciously wicked tales I’ve ever written; probably deeply inspired by the work of the amazing Megan Abbott (read her books, if you haven’t; her Give Me Your Hand is making all the Best of 2018 lists).

Work on the book has slowed to an incredibly passive crawl; I did have a big burst Tuesday night, as I already mentioned, but yesterday was one of those can’t seem to get started days. When I got home from work last night I was both cold and tired; Scooter was incredibly needy, and for lack of anything better to do, I just got into bed and reread an old Barbara Michaels favorite until I got sleepy. I did sleep incredibly well last night, which was lovely, with Scooter curled up with me, purring non-stop. I hated getting out of bed this morning; after he got up and I fed him, he nagged me to come back to bed and finally gave up about twenty minutes ago. But I am being incredibly productive this morning since awakening; already finished folding a load of laundry and a second is in the dryer; once I finish this I will put the dishes away and do the ones in the sink.

Huzzah!

I am also hopeful that I’ll get the next chapter of Bury Me in Satin finished today. One can hope, can’t one?

And on that note, ’tis back to the spice mines.

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