That Made Me Stronger

Monday morning has rolled around again, and this morning I had to get up ridiculously early to go have blood drawn for my biannual check-up–I find it easier to just get up early, brush my teeth, wash my face, and throw on some clothes to run down there before eating or drinking anything (must fast before bloodwork; therein lies the rub) before rushing out to the car where my travel mug rests with my first cup of coffee in it. That first swallow of coffee is always so blissful once the three vials of blood have been taken from my arm.

I finished all the copy edits of the Bouchercon anthology in order to get it turned in (late) last evening; that was quite an experience–but it’s a great anthology. There are some terrific stories from writers you know and writers you may not have heard of yet, but you’ll be delighted to make their acquaintance here. I am hoping to get the page proofs this week so I can get that out of the way–after I finish work tonight I have to finish the proofing for Streetcar–and am feeling a bit weird this morning that it’s now August. (Nineteen shopping days left before my birthday, Constant Reader, so make a note of that, okay?) I also did laundry and dishes yesterday; went over that story one last time and decided to bite the bullet and submit it anyway–if it’s offensive or tone deaf, they won’t use it, after all; ordered groceries on line to be picked up tomorrow night after work; and did some more cleaning around here. I also finished reading Sandra SG Wong’s In the Dark We Forget, which I greatly enjoyed and already blogged about, and started reading Curtis Ippolito’s Burying the Newspaper Man at long last. I’ve also picked up some more books to read along the way somehow, and more are coming that were preordered.

I will never finish reading everything I want to read, just like I will never write everything I want to write.

I did get some writing done over the weekend, though–all this proofing and copy editing and so forth haven’t exactly made it the easiest thing to do, seriously–and I have to get the edits/revisions done on another story that’s been accepted; it’s being edited as a google doc, which I don’t have a lot of experience with and so I am not sure what I am looking at, which is always fun; I hate being technologically challenged on a regular basis–whenever I get used to something like “track changes” in Word, now we have a new way of doing this I have to learn! Hurray! Because, after all, all I have is time to learn how to use new technology when I haven’t completely grasped the old yet. Heavy heaving sigh. AH, well, this evening after the data entry is completed I will see if I can figure it all out. It’s a good story, and I am excited to have sold it….but it also reminds me (when I was looking at the submissions spreadsheet last night, so I could update the story submission from yesterday, and add the others from this year I’ve not recorded yet) how few short stories I’ve been sending out lately. I’ve only sent out three stories this year–two have sold, the other went yesterday–and it irritates me to know that I’ve once again let something slide that I wanted to prioritize this year. And of course now I have exactly three months to write the Scotty book. Heavy heaving sigh. I need to get my shit together, don’t I?

I am also getting trained tomorrow on how to administer the monkeypox vaccine; my department head messaged me over the weekend about my schedule for Tuesday so I can get trained. I am assuming this means we are getting some of the vaccine* in for my clients; since I spend most of the week working in the clinic with appointments every hour I can’t see how I can work vaccinating in other departments or areas of the clinic (I work in the STI clinic for men who have sex with other men and trans individuals; which is just one small piece of our overall massive public health clinic), but who knows? I was a little taken aback to be told I was getting this training–I am not any kind of medical professional, I am merely certified by the state to do rapid antibody tests for HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis C; I turn them over to the nurse for everything else–but I guess anyone can give someone a shot if they know how, and obviously, this isn’t an intravenous shot but one that probably goes into the upper shoulder. I’m not a huge fan of getting shots–I loathe needles–let alone giving them; but…doing fingersticks to draw pipettes of blood to do the antibody tests got me over my dislike and distaste for blood, so this is a really good way to get me over my intensely visceral dislike of needles and shots. I can’t imagine it’s a lot more complicated than doing a fingerstick, really; just a matter of prepping the needle and then using the plunger once the skin has been pierced by the sharp end of the hypodermic. And who knows? Learning how to administer a vaccination might be something that could come in handy for my writing someday.

We also watched the new Neil Patrick Harris show, Uncoupled, on Netflix last night. In it, Harris plays Michael, a gay realtor in New York City whose partner of seventeen years (Tuc Watkins) decides out of the clear blue to leave him, moving out on his fiftieth birthday without any forewarning (Harris thinks they’ve been robbed), and the rest of the season shows him trying to adapt to being single again, dating again, and trying to get over the hurt and betrayal of the end of a relationship he thought was for life–and his old partner just doesn’t seem to want to have anything to do with him again. It was a very well done depiction of grief and anger and finally acceptance–it’s a shitty situation, and his character can’t see past his own shock, hurt and anger to even wonder what went wrong and why he didn’t see it coming in any way–but eventually he starts coming to terms with everything and starts moving on. It’s done by Darren Star, who also did Sex and the City, and there’s a very Sex and the City vibe to the show–I pointed out how like Carrie the main character was, and we spent the rest of the series deciding who Miranda and Charlotte and Samantha were of his friend group. The best part of the show, though, are the women: Marcia Gay Harden is fantastic as Claire Lewis, a wealthy woman whose husband has also just left her out of the blue, and Tisha Campbell is Emmy worthy as Michael’s business partner and best friend, Samantha. We did enjoy it–though I did have some questions about it, which could make (as always) an interesting essay someday–and are looking forward to the second season.

And on that note, this data ain’t gonna enter itself now is it? I’ll check in with you again tomorrow, Constant Reader.

*If this is, in fact, a general thing Crescent Care will be offering to the general population rather than just our established and current clients, I will of course make announcements on social media, so locals–stay tuned or watch this space or whatever you want to call it.

Too Far from Texas

I used to think you could never be too far from Texas, in all honesty, despite my deep appreciation and affection not only for Houston (I lived there for a time) but for all my marvelous friends in Texas. Murder by the Book, the only mainstream mystery bookstore that would allow me to have events in their store when I first published, always holds a deep place of affection within my heart and soul; I love that store, and of course, I also love me some Whataburger.

Whataburger alone makes Texas worth visiting, to be honest.

The Chanse MacLeod series was originally going to be set in Houston. I created him, and actually started writing about him, while i lived in Texas from 1989-1991. I remember distinctly that he had an office and a pager, as well as a secretary and an off-hours answering service…clearly, I didn’t understand how private investigators actually worked and was basing everything off movies, books, and television programs. But I do recall the name of the first book was going to be The Body in the Bayou–and Chanse was also straight in his original iteration–and it wasn’t until later (after my birthday visit here in 1994) that I decided to move it to New Orleans, and of course by the time I started rewriting the New Orleans version, I’d discovered gay mysteries and so of course, I changed his sexuality (I’ve never once regretted that either, I might add). I also put The Body in the Bayou aside and started writing a whole new murder mystery for him (Murder in the Rue Dauphine) that eventually became my first published book. Chanse remained from Texas–a small town in east Texas called Cottonwood Wells–and I even wrote a short story where Chanse goes back home to that small town. (I’d always wanted to write a book where he goes back home and has to deal with memories and so forth; I just never got around to it and his original publisher always made the sign of the cross at me whenever I suggested, “hey, should I set the next one in Chanse’s home town, where he has to go to clear up a crime someone from his past is accused of?”) Cottonwood Wells also popped up in earlier drafts of #shedeservedit, as where main character Alex’ family was originally from; that eventually got edited out over the final drafts.

Sunday morning and I slept late, and even after waking, stayed in the bed for a while longer. It felt very comfortable and my body was very relaxed, which was lovely, and I didn’t really want to get out of the bed, to be honest. I made swedish meatballs last night for dinner and left the mess for this morning (I am now cursing lazy Greg last night who made that decision–part of the reason I made this decision was I realized while cooking that the dishwasher had a clean load in it that needed to be put away, and it was a pain in the ass to do while cooking and trying to time everything) and I didn’t really want to come downstairs and face the mess. I did get some cleaning and organizing done yesterday–I did the kitchen floors at long last–and I also worked on the living room some. I wrote about fifteen hundred words yesterday to flex my writing muscles a little bit–I’ll probably go back over them again today as I write more–and I also have to get the proofs for Streetcar significantly finished today. I also want to work on the new Scotty a little bit as well. We’ll see how much I can get done this morning/afternoon before Paul gets up–although he is going to go into the office today; there was a lot of thunderstorms yesterday and street flooding, so he and the IT guy rescheduled for today (can’t say as I blame him, we were in and out of flash flood alerts all day yesterday; the joys of the tropics in the summer) which will free up this afternoon for proofing.

My self-care appointment (okay, it was a back wax; someday I will write an essay about my issues with body hair) went well and after that, I swung by and picked up the mail. On my way back home I stopped at the Fresh Market (I rarely shop there; I always forget it’s there) to get a few things, and while it is more expensive than other places, I like shopping there. The fruit and vegetables always seem much fresher, and rather than buying prepackaged ground sirloin, I instead got it from the butcher counter, remembering suddenly that it’s fresher that way–and those meatballs turned out superlatively. I think in the future I might shop there a little more regularly. They don’t carry everything I would need, of course–that would make life too easy–but for meats and fruit and vegetables…well, it really cannot be beaten. I spent some more time with In the Dark We Forget–which I am also going to do this morning for a bit, it’s really good and I want to find out what happened to Cleo and her parents–for the rest of this morning, and then I need to vacuum the living room at some point (I swept up the floor in there last night as well, and tried to get it to look cleaner and better organized in there as well; it’s amazing what a difference the clean floor makes). So, a busy busy day for one Gregalicious. But that’s fine, I kind of like having things to do…it’s just when I have so much to do the thought of it is soul-crushing and defeating that I don’t like it.

We started watching The Anarchists on HBO MAX last night, and it’s….something, all right. It’s also interesting how these people chose to define “anarchy” as something other than what most people generally accept it as meaning; but they were using the actual definition of anarchy rather than the societal definition. I always laugh at people who think that laws and rules and regulations are things that restrict freedom and are unnecessary in a society; it’s really just another branch of libertarianism or Ayn Rand’s insane “objectivism”–those laws and rules and regulations exist because they were necessary, because human beings tend to always operate by putting their own needs first. Regulations exist because food manufacturers regularly sold bad, or dangerous, food to the general public because there were no regulations and no one keeping them honest; robber barons created monopolies to exploit the public and make themselves rich (Bezos, Musk, etc are simply the modern day version of the robber barons) at the expense of the needy; hence we needed government intervention to prevent abuses. I’ve never understood the mentality of “oh, if we do away with regulations and laws and rules we’ll all live together in peaceful harmony” because there’s always at least ONE asshole in every group.

ALWAYS.

And on that note, I am going to make another cup of coffee, put the clean dishes away, and go read for a bit. Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader, and we’ll talk again tomorrow, if not later. (I’ve been going down the Stevie Nicks discography for my titles, and some of them–along with some of them from other song lists I was using before–wind up having the same titles as some of my books, and I’ve decided–see yesterday’s post about Sleeping Angel–that when I have a blog list song title that matches the title of one of my books, I am going to post about the book. Right now, I have Timothy in my stored draft blogs folder, and I think there’s another called “Watching Scotty Grow” in which I am trying to write the history of the series, which could be helpful as I am writing Book Nine at the moment, and since I am doing Stevie’s discography, that means Sara will also be coming up at some point.)

Somebody Stand By Me

Saturday morning in the Lost Apartment and all seems to be well so far–yet it is still early, nevertheless. Yesterday was an interesting day. I had to go to a training, if you will recall, in the morning–it was okay, as far as trainings go–and then of course I had a shortened day in the office afterwards (I can only do six hours on Fridays because I work extra long on clinic days), after which I headed home for the Lost Apartment. I almost have the Bouchercon anthology completed; and now I have my page proofing for Streetcar to get through this weekend. I also have a short story deadline tomorrow; but I am not really sure if I am going to bother submitting this story to it. I’m not entirely comfortable with it and what it’s about; it may be in questionable taste, and that of course concerns me deeply. If the story is problematic I don’t even want the editors to read it, you know? And I have this feeling–that nagging voice, which is so quick to point out every flaw in my life and writing and so forth, is really having a good time with this right now–that if you’re worried about the story being problematic, then it probably is.

On the other hand, I thought Bury Me in Shadows might be problematic, and it wasn’t. So maybe this story isn’t as bad as I think it might be, who knows? I am often not the best judge of my own work, after all–the lack of confidence in my own writing really is not good for me at all–and who knows if I will ever get the chance to publish it again anywhere other than a collection of my own (where I can count on my publisher saving me from myself if it is problematic?), so maybe–just maybe–after I finish the proofs for Streetcar this weekend, I can give the story another once over, and give it a shot.

I slept really well last night. When I got home from work last night I laundered all the bed linens, did another load of dishes, and then just kind of chilled for the rest of the evening as I was a bit mentally tired. I managed to get all the copy edits back to everyone for the Bouchercon anthology; I’m still waiting to get a few of them back and I can turn the manuscript in. I have a self-care appointment this morning at ten; then I am going to come back home and work on the page proofs and maybe carve out some time to read some more of In the Dark We Forget, which I am really enjoying and would love to finish reading this weekend. I need to make myself read for an hour every night; if I read for an hour every day I will gradually work my way through the TBR pile. I think the next book I am going to read is going to be Curtis Ippolito’s Burying the Newspaper Man, although the new Donna Andrews is probably going to be delivered sometime soon, as well as Gabino Iglesias’ new one. I also want to get some filing and cleaning done today–Paul has to go to the office to meet his tech person because his computer is messed up–and I think I am also going to get a box down from the attic to sort through as well as go through some drawers to throw shirts and shorts and things I never wear out. I also plan on getting through all the emails in my inbox at some point this weekend as well; I am tired of all those goddamned emails being in there, you know what I mean?

It also occurred to me yesterday that I should send the Word file of Jackson Square Jazz to my iPad so I can reread and copy edit it on there. Progress can only be made when you set yourself up to succeed, which sounds like one of those horrible motivational posters that were such a thing sometime in my past–they were in office spaces everywhere and always made me want to roll my eyes whenever I saw one. But I slept really well last night, which was incredibly lovely, and I am looking forward to getting quite a bit done this weekend. I already feel rested, which is really nice, and the Lost Apartment isn’t the usual disaster area it always appears to me when Saturday rolls around again. Sure, there’s stuff I need to clean up and organize and there’s always filing to do–not to mention the computer files that need clearing and cleaning up–but after my self-care and my errands, I should be able to come on home and dig into my work that needs to be done.

And on that note, I can actually get started on that before I get ready to leave for my appointment, so have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow, or perhaps even later again today.

Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win)

She rings like a bell in the night…

And we have managed to circle back around to Friday yet again. Hurray! I have a training at work this morning (I think it’s “conflict resolution”, and I am astounded that management feels I need this, LOL–just kidding, it’s mandatory for everyone in department), and then I have a lot of things to get done at the office for the rest of my workday before I call the weekend’s beginning, which is rather exciting. I have some major things to get done that I am behind on, but have full confidence I can get it all done. I am going to order groceries for pick-up on Sunday morning (I love this) and I have some self-care scheduled for tomorrow morning; I am thinking I may even attempt a return to the gym this weekend as well. Scared o’that, you know? But it’s kind of past time.

I am not even tired this morning. It’s felt like I’ve not been sleeping deeply this week, but I have felt rested and relaxed all week, only getting tired in the evenings after I get home from work and do some chores around the house, which is not normal for me, but I like it. I woke up before the alarm this morning–Fridays I get to sleep an extra hour, which is quite lovely–and again, don’t feel any fatigue or anything; this is hopefully a good sign. I’m not sure what changed during my COVID infection, but it’s like something changed? Maybe I am tired, but since it’s not the same kind of fatigue/exhaustion I was experiencing during the COVID Times it’s not as noticeable and doesn’t bother me as much as it did before the pink line showed up on my at-home test? It is indeed possible that could be fact.

We watched the latest episode of American Horror Stories last night, and while episode two was vastly superior to episode one, it still wasn’t quite there. Both episodes were clever in concept, but didn’t completely deliver in execution (so often the case with things from Ryan Murphy), but it was entertaining, and then we finished season two of Into the Night, which is this amazing Belgian/French co-production that is non-stop stress, anxiety and drama–and very well done. The concept behind the show is that the sun has turned toxic, killing anyone and everything exposed to it–to the point where it even ruins gasoline and jet fuel and food–and in the first season, everyone was on a plane when they realized what was going on and turned around to fly west to stay ahead of the sun. At the end of Season One they’d managed to land the plane and find a military bunker, prepared for survival; season two is all the drama that one might expect from civilians and military personnel sharing an underground bunker and trying to get along and of course, conflict arises. No one else seems to be watching the show or talking about it, which is a real shame, but it’s quite good and its international cast is stellar. Quite marvelous. This is how you pull off high concept in a television series.

One thing I absolutely have to do is clean out my email inbox this weekend, for sure. Sheesh. It got out of control while I was sick and all I’ve been able to manage to do is stay current with new emails and so forth. I really want that marvelous experience of having an empty inbox again.

So, I have a lot to get done over the next few days, and feel pretty good about the possibilities of getting it all done in the meantime. I’ll have to get and stay motivated–tonight I need to do laundry and dishes, start putting things away and organizing, etc.–and I think we might watch The Gray Man tonight because why not?

And on that note, I’m getting another cup of coffee and heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader.

Sorcerer

Thursday Thursday–Thor’s Day. Last day of getting up at six for the week–tomorrow I get to sleep in till seven, woo-hoo–and while I am not feeling tired this morning I am also not completely awake. I think I slept well last night–it’s always hard to tell–but I feel rested this morning. How long will that feeling last remains to be seen…but I think we have a fairly light client schedule at the office today. That would be nice, of course, but I don’t expect it to happen either. It could easily have filled up yesterday after I left for the day early. I had a check-up with my primary care physician, nothing more than the every-six-month check-up so my prescriptions can get refilled, but it’s really in everyone’s best interest that my Alprazolam get refilled, trust me on this.

We watched the new episode of Only Murders in the Building but I have to say, I am not loving this season the way I loved the first. It just seems like there are a lot of filler episodes and not much actual crime-solving, as there was in the first season, or maybe the novelty of it has worn off. I still think Martin Short and Steve Martin are fantastic as two of the series leads (I go back and forth on Selena Gomez), but it seems like this season is all over the map and we’re still no closer to finding out who killed Bunny as we were at the end of season one. We’ve also been watching the second season of Into the Night, a French/Belgian thriller series that’s a nonstop adrenaline-based thrill ride from the very start.

After my appointment yesterday, I was tired when I got home to the Lost Apartment. It had been raining most of the day, and after my appointment I decided to run a couple of errands–pick up the mail, make a very small grocery run–and of course, there was flooding going on in Uptown, which always makes me nervous to have to drive through. I also have to go get the mail again today after work, because some packages were alas delivered after I stopped in yesterday, and I also have to stop at CVS to see what the deal with my prescriptions is (it looks like two of them were filled, but it also has that Check with your pharmacy about your refills note appended to them, so I don’t know what that means and it also shows that I don’t have any ready for pick-up either; so I can swing by there and talk to them today after I get the mail and head home.

I also have a personal-care appointment on Saturday morning, and I think I may just go ahead and order groceries on-line again this weekend–why the hell not? Save myself the hassle of actually doing the actual shopping itself, so perhaps I should start thinking about what to order. Hmmm.

And I scheduled my blood draw for the biannual check-in for Monday morning, so I can just wake up, wash my face and brush my teeth, roll out to the car and get it done before I eat or drink anything–yay, fasting–but these are the things you need to get taken care of regularly when you’re of A Certain Age. (Interesting title that would make, no? A Certain Age. I like it.) And I hope to get everything else that is needing to get done by Sunday….done by Sunday.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Thor’s Day, Constant Reader.

Trouble in Shangri-La

Wednesday morning and out of nowhere, my insomnia returned last night. I am assuming it was an aberration of some sort; too much brain usage yesterday after a long respite or something like that. I don’t feel either sleepy or tired or mentally fatigued or anything this morning, so hopefully I can make it through the day without it being challenging. I also get to leave work early this afternoon because I have a doctor’s appointment. Nothing serious, just the semi-annual check-up/prescription refill once over, and that will get me home much earlier than usual. Maybe I can get some more work done tonight when I get home from work. Stranger things have happened. At the very least, I should be able to get back to reading my book, Sandra SG Wong’s marvelous In the Dark We Forget, which I am enjoying tremendously.

We finished watching Mind Over Murder last night–the final episode finally dropped–and it’s really such a sad story on every level. I don’t know, the more of these documentaries that are made and the more injustices they expose on a far-too-regular basis makes me wonder about the police and the job they are doing. I wouldn’t ever want to be a cop–under any circumstance–but at the same time, yikes. Big time yikes on every level. I mean, as I was watching this last night I was thinking about how in most countries everyone fears the police, who are agents of the state and often above the law…and how this is one of the few countries in the world that celebrates the police, embracing them, when the truth is the Constitution was written to define the rights of citizens to protect us from abuses from agents of the state. There’s some essay forming in my head about this, to be sure.

In other exciting news, I got some ARCS for A Streetcar Named Murder in yesterday’s mail, and the book looks fantastic. I absolutely love the cover, and I appreciate that they drew the cat to resemble Scooter–the cat in the book is also named Scooter, and now that I think about, I think Scotty has a cat named Scooter. That’s me, immortalizing my cat in literature for all time. I am trying to cap my excitement about the book (naturally, I am very excited about it, but trying to rein it in a bit)–and of course, have been having all kinds of Imposter Syndrome thoughts about it not selling and getting bad reviews and so forth–but I am going to just go on being happy right now that the book is finished, for all intents and purposes (still have to proof the pages this weekend) and going to focus on getting the Bouchercon anthology finished as well as getting underway with Mississippi River Mischief. I’m kind of excited to be writing about Scotty again–funny how writing him never feels old to me; I always get a bit happy about going to revisit his world and his circle of family and friends–and writing it also means having to do a bit of travel and research outside of New Orleans, since the book is going to be partially set in a fictitious river or bayou parish. (Which I have cleverly named St. Jeanne d’Arc–although that begs the question of why there isn’t actually a St. Jeanne d’Arc parish in Louisiana…)

A quick glance at my inbox also shows that the edits for my story “Solace in a Dying Hour” have also dropped, so that’s something else to go on the agenda/to-do list for this week. I am really proud of this story, to be honest, and I am really curious to see the edits (one of the co-editors is who I worked with on the Sherlock story “The Affair of the Purloined Rentboy,” and her edits were fucking AMAZING) and see how much more work is needed on the story. I also have until Sunday to decide whether to submit that story I am not sure about anymore to that anthology I wanted to submit it to–that was quite a sentence, wasn’t it?–but I don’t know about it, you know? Although I suppose if it is really horrifically tone deaf and offensive they won’t accept it…but I also don’t want anyone else to read it if it is offensive and tone deaf. Ah, well, I have until the weekend to decide one way or the other.

I also am about half-way finished with getting the copy edits to the contributors to the Bouchercon anthology. I probably won’t get much, if any, of that done today, but stranger things have happened. Maybe when I get home early tonight Scooter won’t be whiny and demanding a lap to fall asleep in…or not.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Wednesday, Constant Reader, and I will talk to you again tomorrow morning.

Whenever I Call You Friend

And it’s back to the office with me today.

It feels weird, no lie. I haven’t been up this early in quite a while, and I would imagine it’s going to take more than a hot minute for me to get used to it again. I slept well last night, but there’s just something about being jarred out of sleep by an alarm that feels disruptive, and inevitably means I wind up feeling tired/sleepy all day because to my mind, the alarm means I didn’t get enough sleep. I did wake up around two, four, and five, but was able to go back to sleep relatively easily; there was a part of me that thought, when I woke up at five, that I should go ahead and get up. But the bed felt comfortable, the blankets comforting, and I could stay there, relaxed and comfortable, for another hour so I closed my eyes and turned over and went back to sleep. It’s going to be a rough week for sure–getting used to being back at work after being sick so long; I don’t think I’ve ever been out of the office this long for being sick, let alone on vacation or anything else–but soon enough it will be the weekend again, so there’s that.

It must be extremely humid this morning because my sinuses are reacting, so I had to take a Claritin-D to calm that the fuck down. Now that I am gradually coming awake, I feel much better than I did when I first rolled out of bed this morning. Hopefully that will be the case for the rest of the day. It’s going to feel weird being back in the office this morning; and hopefully that weirdness will wear off sooner rather than later. I didn’t get as much done last night after I finished my work-at-home chores for the day, I was a bit tired and my eyes were buggy (data entry has that effect on me) so I retired to my easy chair to do some reading. My mind was wandering and I couldn’t focus on something new, so I regretfully left my Sandra SG Wong novel on the end table and opened up Royal Street Reveillon on my iPad, to sort of get a sense of what was going on with Scotty and the boys before really starting to dig into the new one. I had a side-story I was thinking about adding into it, but now am not so sure or certain that I can either pull it off, or will have the time to do it properly. One can certainly hope, at any rate. But I did manage to make a substantial to-do list for this week, and hopefully by sticking to it and checking it every morning I can make a plan for getting things done throughout the day every day this week.

I can’t believe next Monday is the first of August. Where did this year go? I will be sixty-one in less than thirty days. Yikes!

There’s a deadline for an anthology I had wanted to submit to this coming weekend, but the story I had on hand that I just wanted to revise and polish a bit–I’m not so sure I want to go ahead and submit it without rereading it thoroughly and thinking about it some more, and there may not be time for me to do any of that (if things go the way they usually do, and getting up early makes me tired and not as productive as I could be in the early evenings after I get home) before this weekend–and I have the page proofs of Streetcar to get through, and I have to finish the Bouchercon anthology at some point, which is looming large on the schedule. Losing all that time to COVID was not a help at all in most respects, other than the lengthy break from working and getting so much rest that my body clearly desperately needed–although as always, the exhaustion/fatigue of the illness had me worried that it had nothing to do with being sick and everything to do with my body changing as it ages, and that fatigue was something I was going to have to live with for the rest of my life. That was an absolutely terrifying prospect, especially because knowing that it was the illness (and has now passed) doesn’t mean that all-encompassing fatigue is not, in fact, in my future as a part of being old–which is why I really need to start getting back to the gym and getting my body back into shape. I don’t need to be lean and ripped anymore, like the guys I feature here every day with the blog; that vanity is long gone and continues to grow smaller in the rear view mirror. For me now, getting back to the gym and working out is more about being healthier, working my muscles and keeping them loose and limber and strong, which inevitably brings with it the side effect of more energy and better, more restful sleep. Walking to the gym in the weather we are currently having–the soup-like gumbo of humidity and excessive heat–isn’t particularly appealing to me either, but neither is taking the car to drive five blocks to go work out.

So, I am hoping that today will be a good day as I ease back into my normal routine. A good day seeing my clients, getting work done, and then picking up the mail on my way home. There’s laundry to fold and dishes to put away tonight; tomorrow I have to leave work early because I have a doctor’s appointment. And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Hope your Tuesday is a special one, Constant Reader, because you deserve the best! Talk to you tomorrow, okay?

Every Day

I actually love being a writer.

I love everything about the creative process. I like creating characters and coming up with stories for them. I like actually writing, even while I complain about it. I am not fond of deadlines, and I think we can all agree that I am horrible at marketing, but the writing itself? I love it.

I slowly started working my way back into writing again yesterday–I did about 1400 words on a project yesterday, and just like exercise, the muscles were creaky and rusty and had to get moving again. But I also wrote 1400 words–regardless of whether they’re any good or not, regardless of whether I’ll throw them all out or keep some, regardless, I wrote 1400 words yesterday and it felt very good. I did some chores, I ran an errand, and I feel like yesterday was a good day for me, a lovely bridge from being sick and doing little or nothing to getting back into the chair, looking at the computer, and typing away as the words come to my mind. I kind of like that, a lot. That’s why I’ll always write, even after I’ve lost my audience and no one wants to publish me anymore, I’ll still write and create and scribble in journals and hear phrases and think oh that would make a GREAT title, wouldn’t it?

Yeah, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shut down that part of my brain.

I also found my Tennessee Williams quote for the opening of Mississippi River Mischief, and it’s from the short one-act play Auto-da-fé: “You harp on purity, purity all the time, and yet you’re willing to stay in the middle of corruption.”

Nice, right?

Yesterday was the first time since I fell ill that I actually felt like a writer again, and that was really nice. I’ve often commented on the strange duality of my life; of being a lower-level employee at my day job while at the same time coming home after work and being interviewed for a national podcast. A strange disconnect, to be sure, at the very least and a bizarre bipolarity at the worst. I like my job because it keeps me humble–I do have an ego, but it’s pretty fragile, so I try to keep it under wraps and under as much control as I can, and going from doing a reading for a room full of people or talking about writing on a panel to a room filled with people to being someone who simply does what he’s told and has no say in anything within my department and my job cannot help but keep the ego (which I don’t like having to an extent) down, which is a good thing.

We finished watching Chucky last night, and it’s fun but…not particularly good. An understanding of the film series is necessary, as it turns out; the show is a continuation of the mythology from the movies rather than a reboot or a reimagining, so there are times when I found myself not really sure what was going on and having to google the film series to get a sense of the story and why these things were happening in the show. I think it was kind of cool–a wink to the long-time fan of the movies, which is the kind of thing I appreciate (the Scream television series could have done a lot more of this, frankly, which would have made the show a lot more fun than it was, rather than just a complete reinvention of the franchise), even if I never saw any of the movies (nor am I likely to).

And today I have to get caught up on everything that I fell behind on. While I usually work at home on Mondays, I’ve not been into the office since the Thursday before last, and I think it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and go in today and get things taken care of before I come in tomorrow to see clients again. I feel mentally and physically rested, which is a good thing–Paul tested negative yesterday as well so it’s over for both of us, which is really nice–and it feels like it’s been a very long time since I could say that. Granted, right before I got sick I had traveled for the weekend and then dove right back into work as soon as I got home, so I was feeling tired and run down already when the viral infection took hold and knocked me on my ass for nearly nine days–eight since I tested positive, which makes me worry that I may have been already infected and been infectious before I started staying home, but I also tested myself that Thursday before I tested positive on Friday morning (since a co-worker had gotten sick) so the Friday morning test was a follow-up to getting up and the nasal congestion issue, if I recall correctly.

And now it’s time to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Monday, Constant Reader.

Planets of the Universe

Sunday morning in the Lost Apartment and I slept really well again last night. I feel really rested now that I am over the virus, and the absence of the brain fog (which I feared was simply another sign in the inevitable decline of age) has been simply wonderful. I made groceries yesterday, taking advantage of the “order on-line/pick-up when you get there” systems which are marvelous and I will probably continue to use going forward. I do have to run an errand at some point this morning, but it isn’t really much of anything and it shouldn’t be an issue. I did manage to read some more of Sandra SG Wong’s wonderful In the Dark We Forget, which I am going to spend some time with this morning as well, and I am going to try to write and get some other things organized today. I did make some progress yesterday on things, but I also kind of took it easy on myself. I don’t want to overdue my recovery and potentially relapse–I’ve heard this is a thing, and that one must carefully dip one’s toe back in and slowly reenter the water slowly after getting over this monstrous thing. So, although I really want to just dive in headfirst and work on things all day today, I think I am going to continue to take it easy. Monday is usually my work-at-home day, but I think I am going to actually go into the office tomorrow–I’ve not been in for well over a week–and so it just kind of makes sense to me to go in. I don’t have to see clients tomorrow, for one, and so it’ll just be an easy way to ease back into going to the office as well.

We finished watching Special on Netflix, which was interesting and poignant and funny, and then watched a wonderful documentary about Showgirls, You Don’t Nomi–if you’re a Showgirls fan than you’ll really enjoy You Don’t Nomi (I also read It Doesn’t Suck, the academic book about it from a few years ago as well; it made me think about writing my own essay about the movie–because, of course, I think I should write about everything at one point or another)–and then started watching Chucky on Peacock, which was a lot more fun and better done than I would have thought. I didn’t expect the main character of the show to be a fourteen-year-old gay kid, which makes it a LOT more interesting than I would have originally thought. I’d never seen any of the Chucky movies–but I have a basic idea of what they were about, and I don’t think–at least not so far, but we’re only an episode in–you need to go back to watch the movies to pick up on things you can’t enjoy the series not knowing.

I also need to make a to-do list, update when my bills are due for August on my calendar, and of course, try to get some cleaning and organizing done around my home office workspace. Heavy heaving sigh. It never really ends, does it? LOL. It’s also been raining a lot this weekend–torrential downpours, with minor street flooding–but it looks sunny and very warm out there this morning. It also occurred to me last night that I’ve not had an entire week off from work in the last twelve years other than our trip to Italy in 2014 (eight years ago), so part of this slightly weird disconnect I’m feeling from everything probably has something to do with that. I am not, however, going to allow myself to get stressed out by how behind I am or how much work I have to get done. That doesn’t help and also causes paralysis of a sort. No, the thing to do is make a list, get everything organized as everything needs to be organized, and just start getting things done.

Step one is to get all this mess sorted and put away, which is what I am going to do right now before I put away the dishes. Then I’ll start working on my lists.

So I think I am going to head into the spice mines this morning. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again later.

Candlebright

I slept in again this morning–which has been happening alot, which means I am going to have to get used to getting up early again next week because this morning’s COVID test came back negative. It’s finally over. Yesterday I still felt a little worn down and fatigued, but managed to get things done (not much, really; but some laundry and dishes and some reading and so forth–I was afraid to overdo it, even though I felt good; cautious and concerned about a relapse), but now that I can safely confirm that I am out of the woods, it’s time to start easing myself back into my life. I ordered groceries for curbside pick-up this morning, so once I get that text I’ll drive over to pick them up, but…I’m over everything. It is now safe for me to go out in public (wearing a mask, believe me; I know that doesn’t really protect me but other people, but I can’t help but remember that it was when I allowed myself to get more lax with the masking that I got infected. So yes, intellectually I know it’s not helping but emotionally it makes me feel better to do so, so I am going with the emotions over the intellect on this one) again, and it also means I can finally return to work on Monday. Monday is usually my work at home day, but having been out of the office for the last week, I kind of feel like I probably should pop in on Monday and make my presence known again.

Plus, I have to get all the sick time bullshit sorted–and might as well do that on a day when I don’t have clients.

Huzzah? Huzzah indeed.

We finished the second season of Condor last night, which was enjoyable. If you’re into espionage/political thrillers, this is a very good one. Ben Irons (Jeremy’s son) is really good in the lead as Joe Turner, a low-level CIA employee who catches on to something major in the first season and everything goes to shit for him from there–like the book and movies it was based on (the movie was Three Days of the Condor, starring Robert Redford; the book was Six not Three. I watched this as part of my Cynical 70’s Film Festival during the shutdown/work at home times). I have a copy of the book, by Richard Condon, that it in my enormous TBR pile. I’ve wanted to read it (along with The Manchurian Candidate) because these old political thrillers are interesting to me, with their extreme paranoia and evil Communist archetypes. I want to read them not only for their value as political thrillers but as remnants of a past time that could be said to also border on propaganda–painting the Communists, particularly the Soviet Union–as the bad guys. (This is not to say that the Soviet leadership weren’t bad people–some of them most definitely were–but their national interest also opposed to ours, so from their point of view Americans were the bad guys; that whole “no villain sees themselves as a villain” thing we talk about in character workshops and panels.)

It was also incredibly weird and strange resting so much over the last eight days. I have to recognize the fact that part of how I am feeling–the strangeness–is because I am actually no longer tired. I am always tired, apparently; not really sure why that is other than not getting enough sleep or something along those lines, but this morning, after sleeping off and on almost regularly for eight days, I feel rested this morning. Which means I can get all kinds of things done today–slowly easing myself back into my life, as it were–and plan to spend some time with Sandra SG Wong’s riveting In the Dark We Forget, should do some writing and editing, and then there’s of course all the cleaning and filing and organizing that needs to be done. I need to update my bills list, I need to make a new to-do list, I need to reread and revise a story one last time before submitting it to an anthology I want to get it into; and may I add how lovely it is not to have the brain fog this morning? My head is clear, and that feels amazing. My throat still feels a little bit more raw than I would prefer, and now I know that post-nasal drip is sinus related and a Claritin-D will take care of it. Huzzah!

I also don’t feel terribly daunted about getting started digging out from under the piles of everything that gathered while i was sick and foggy and exhausted, either–which is another good sign. I know it sounds weird, but now that I am sixty (sixty-one in less than a month; there’s still time to get a card and buy a gift, you know) I always worry that things aren’t necessarily related to an illness but rather are a permanent change to my life and my body and my brain. Our bodies and brains don’t come with user manuals, after all, so we are best off just getting by the best we can and always have to wonder. I was worried that the brain fog, for example, wasn’t something related to the COVID plague but rather a shift in my head that goes along with my age, you know? My memory has already become a lot more specious and less-specific than it used to be; I no longer remember things that were committed to memory just a few years ago. Admittedly, a lot of it was trivial information that really only came in handy when you’re playing Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit, but damn it, I used to always run the categories and rarely, if ever, lost at Trivial Pursuit and those days are sadly long past me now.

And I also feel relatively certain you’re tired of listening to me whine about being sick–well, you don’t have to worry about reading about that any longer, Constant Reader. I was even taking notes on some thoughts about Mississippi River Mischief yesterday in my journal.

And on that note, I am going to get cleaned up so that when I get the text that my groceries are ready I can head down to the store for curbside pick-up, which will be lovely. Have a wonderful Saturday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.