Silver Springs

My back still hurts today, and while at the moment it’s better than it was yesterday…it’s always best when I get up in the morning, so I don’t know how the rest of today is going to go. I have to go pick-up the groceries I ordered yesterday–which has me nervous–and I’ve even decided to wait on ordering Costco until tomorrow or Work-At-Home Monday. I was hoping it would be okay enough for me to be able to at least spend a few hours at the computer this morning writing; but taking yesterday off to just lie flat while alternating heat and cold (thank you, Eric Andrews-Katz, for reminding me to do that yesterday and not just use heating pads and generic Ben-Gay; I will be doing that today as well)was enormously helpful in the healing process. I was also taking pain killers yesterday to make myself more comfortable, and by the end of the day yesterday I felt–I really don’t know how to describe it, but I felt like all of my muscles and joints needed to be stretched, so I started doing that in my chair and it felt ever so much better before I went to bed last night. I didn’t read much of anything because the pain killers were fogging up my brain something terrible; but I did get my three-ring binders containing everything I am currently working on out to reread where I am at on everything. Scotty’s Chapter Three needs a revision (or a re-ordering of its scenes) to match up to the changes I made on the first two chapters; I know where this story is going now and I really like the decisions I made before Bouchercon to turn this into something worthy of a Scotty novel. Today, other than the making of the grocieries, is going to be mostly me doing the same as I did yesterday–lying prone in my easy chair unfolded out, alternating between heat and cold, while hopefully reading the new Donna Andrews while managing my pain with Aleve while college football plays on the screen. LSU plays Mississippi State tonight in Death Valley, so we’ll get some sort of idea of how well the Tigers have regrouped since that opening loss (last week’s blowout of Southern doesn’t really count–no offense, Southern). And tomorrow is Saints-Buccaneers, so I can swear at Tom Brady some more, which is always an enjoyable experience.

So, looks like today–other than the groceries, getting the mail, and getting as–is going to be another enforced day off. I am afraid of doing my usual “oh it feels better so I can do more things only to make it worse and last longer” thing, so much as I am loathe to fall even further behind on everything, I really don’t have much choice. Your back is not something you want to fuck with a whole lot, and the last thing I need at my age–at any age–is to continue having chronic issues with my back. I hurt it at the gym years and years ago, always assumed it was safe to go back before it actually was, and then consistently made things worse. This was when my serious 3 to 4 times per week workout routine was finally and completely disrupted, and I’ve never really been able to consistently attend the gym to workout ever since.

The Lost Apartment is also a disaster area, but…don’t push it, Gregalicious. Just relax and allow yourself the time to let whatever-the-fuck-it-is you did to your back to heal. You’ve got college football games to watch and a Donna Andrews novel to read, and in a worst case scenario you can lay back in your easy chair and use the laptop to do things like write or something…until of course Scooter wants to go to sleep in my lap.

I also overslept a bit this morning, but the benefit of that is I no longer feel exhausted, which is yet another step on the needed path for me to feel like Gregalicious again. I got the Bouchercon email this morning in which sixteen (!!!!) attendees have tested positive this far, but so far I’ve dodged that bullet again. I have wondered, with the exhaustion, but that second line keeps on not showing up on my tests so as far as I can tell, everything else is fine. (Excuse me for a moment while I stick a swab up my nose; seriously, at this point I’d rather stick my finger and use blood to run the test. Why can’t this be an oral swab like the HIV tests used to be like?)

We did get caught up on Bad Sisters last night, and then moved on to the series premiere of The Serpent Queen, with Samantha Morton as Catherine de Medici. The show is actually–at least so far–seems historically accurate (other than she married Henri duc d’Orleans in 1533 rather than 1536; that year is fixed in my head because that is also the year Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn and had her crowned), and of course, Catherine is one of my favorite historical characters of all time. She is often depicted in history as evil and cruel and malignant–but imagine loving your husband so much and enduring the humiliation of his disinterest in you while being utterly devoted to a woman twenty years older…and this goes on for 26 years before he dies. Wouldn’t you be a little warped? Ignored, dismissed, laughed at…and then with her husband’s death she becomes one of the most powerful women in Europe, trying to preserve the crown and an intact France for her sons during a time of almost constant religious and political strife. She fascinates me, much as Eleanor of Aquitaine, Anne Boleyn, Blanche of Castile, and several other great queens of history do…which again leads me to my idea of writing a history of the sixteenth century in Europe through the tales of the great and powerful women of that century, A Monstrous Regiment of Women. There was also a time when I wanted to write historical novels of political intrigue, and what better place to set such a series than during the second half of the sixteenth century in France, which was a time more akin to Game of Thrones than most periods (the Wars of the Roses is another; the dying out of the Capetian dynasty in France in the early fourteenth is another).

Yes, a series centered around one of Catherine’s Flying Squadron (beautiful women trained in the arts of seduction and eroticism, who took lovers strategically so they could spy on them for the Crown) during the period of 1570-1589 would be a lot of fun to write, and the research! What fun would all that reading be? Perhaps someday when I have more time and energy…ha ha ha, I somehow managed to type that with a straight face.

I’ve also always wanted to write a sixteenth century murder mystery where Robert Cecil hires someone to investigate the death of Amy Robsart in 1560–which jeopardized Queen Elizabeth’s throne within the first two years of her reign.

And that’s not even taking into consideration my retelling of The Three Musketeers from Milady de Winter’s point of view.

Yeah, I will probably never write anything more historical any further back than my lifetime.

And on that note, I am retiring to my easy chair with Donna Andrews and some ice packs. Have a happy Saturday, Constant Reader.

You May Be The One

Tuesday and the week seems to be settling into a sort of groove that I can not only handle but isn’t too horrific, to be perfectly honest. The week has started off pretty okay, really; I was notified that Mystery Scene magazine had given an anthology I have a story in a glowing review which included a lovely shout out to my story, “The Snow Globe,” which is absolutely lovely. And I quote: “The Snow Globe,” by Greg Herren, is a dark and humorous Christmas tale–“Santa, Dylan thought, certainly has a great six-pack”–about loneliness, voodoo, and reconnecting with family.

Isn’t that lovely? Usually anthologies I am in get reviewed and my story doesn’t get mentioned; there was a review of one anthology in particular I recall where every single story was individually reviewed…except for mine, which wasn’t even mentioned. Since my story had gay content and characters, I can’t help but think that was due to the reviewer’s homophobia; why would you namecheck every story in the book with a few sentences about each and then not even mention mine, even to dog it? I know, I know, it’s not always homophobia, but one always has to wonder–especially when you have the only gay tale in the book and it is the ONE story that doesn’t even get mentioned. So how lovely was this?

I don’t even mind that the story was called “dark and humorous” even though it wasn’t supposed to be funny (this has happened so many times in my career….)

But, you see, this is yet another one of the problems of being a queer writer of queer work. When things happen like the aforementioned review (where my story was the only one unworthy of review or commentary), as a queer writer of queer work you always have to wonder: was my story that bad, or is this just your average, garden variety homophobia at work? This is always an issue for queer writers; is this a place that will publish a story about a gay man or will they just reject it out of hand? I wonder about this, particularly with the bigger markets for crime short fiction that are out there. I know I’ve sold a gay tale or two to some of the paying markets for crime short fiction; I also know there are some that have rejected every story with a gay character but have taken the ones that centered a straight character. I shouldn’t have to even wonder about this, to be perfectly honest; I should never hesitate about sending a story somewhere as long as it meets their guidelines. And yet, every time I submit something, anything, somewhere anywhere, I always wonder.

I ran my errands after work yesterday, came home and Paul and I relaxed in front of the television, watching the last episode of The Anarchists (weird and sad), and then got ourselves caught up on Becoming Elizabeth, which is quite well done for a Starz English royalty dramatization (earlier series, based on the Philippa Gregory books, were also well done, but not necessarily always historically accurate. Becoming Elizabeth follows the period between the death of Henry VIII and Elizabeth being crowned queen–the eleven year period of the reigns of Edward VI and Mary I, which were quite turbulent and Elizabeth often found herself imprisoned, if not her life in jeopardy. It was in navigating those times that her character was formed, and she learned–often the hard way–how to play both sides as well as how to never ever cross the line into treason.

I slept decently, not great, last night, and this morning I am not feeling either tired or groggy, but that doesn’t mean I won’t hit the wall this afternoon, either. I have so much to do it’s not even funny, and I suppose, as always, that the key to getting everything done is to just go down the list and check things off once and for all. I did get some work done on the new Scotty yesterday–not much but any progress at this point is progress–but I was mostly tired when I got home last night, to be honest. I am hoping for a better day today than yesterday was–not that it was a bad day, but it was a very low energy, low motivation day (which probably had a lot to do with me going in on a Monday, which isn’t the usual and at some point I am going to have to get used to again, which I kind of don’t want to do, frankly) so hopefully today won’t be like that. They set up a work station in my testing room yesterday, which means I don’t have to commute back and forth from my desk all day anymore, so today will be me trying to get used to that and trying to figure out how best to utilize the space in the my room and how to make it easier for me to do my job with the new set-up; I don’t know how I am going to get it set up to be functional quite yet, which means work arounds in the meantime until I can get it all figured out.

If it isn’t one thing, it certainly is another.

I also had ordered a new pair of glasses from Zenni.com that arrived yesterday, and I really do like them–I especially like that they were about one fifth the cost of my last pair, which I bought from the optometrist. (I may order another pair or two today; I didn’t want to go crazy until I got the first pair and could see that they worked just fine, which they do.) I had never thought of glasses as being fashionable; they were too expensive, for one thing, to think about in terms of oh I should get different pairs in different styles to coordinate with outfits; which of course meant that, as with everything, I saw glasses as utilitarian rather than fashionable–function over form, if you will. But this pair of glasses was inexpensive enough that I can actually start thinking of my glasses as form and function, rather than as one. So, maybe on my lunch hour I will look around on their website and see if I can find some others that work for my round face and slight wattle.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Tuesday, Constant Reader! And I will see you tomorrow!

Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream)

And here we are at Friday again. I have my office day without testing today, but we are having a health fair this morning for this bizarre points system we have with our health insurance–it’s the easiest way to get the points I need to get a discount on my health insurance–and I absolutely hate this. They always use the BMI charts to determine whether we are at a “healthy weight”, and anyone who has ever lifted weights for a decent period of time will tell you how that fucks up your BMI. Muscle is more compact tissue; someone who weighs for example, 180 pounds and is primarily muscle should have a lower BMI than someone who weighs the same and has never exercised a day in their life; but if they are the same height their BMI will be the same. So, for example, when I first started going to these health fairs I weighed 190 pounds and was wearing a size 31 waist in jeans.

They told me I was obese and needed to lose thirty pounds. I literally stood up, gestured up and down my body, and said, “From where?”

Now, of course I am twenty-two pounds heavier than I was–and yes, now they tell me I am morbidly obese. (My doctor tells me I am fine–“maybe ten pounds, but it’s not that big of a deal”–I choose to go with his assessment.) Sigh. Can’t wait to hear those words again this morning. It’s not that I object to being advised that I need to lose some weight–well aware that I do, thank you very much–its just that I don’t like being told that when its predicated on an outmoded system that was originally created merely to find what the average size is–not intended to diagnose or recommend weight loss. BMI doesn’t measure how much of your weight is fat tissue, muscle tissue, or bone; and those percentages are the ones that matter. And yes, I am fully aware that if my body-fat was being measured I would be told I need to lose some weight. I would just prefer that the measurement be something that is quantifiable rather than based on what I weigh and how tall I am.

Heavy heaving sigh. Okay, I’ll get down from my soapbox. But BMI measurements are often incorrect by a very long shot, and people who don’t have a background in personal training and fitness and don’t know that it’s a drastically inaccurate way of determining whether or not one needs to lose weight can be damaged by such an assertion–how does one react to being told their morbidly obese? It’s generally not something that makes your day better…

It’s interesting how perception of time and sleep is so weird and off. Today I don’t have to be at the office until nine, so instead of getting up at six, I get up at seven. Instead of going to bed between nine-thirty and ten, I go to bed at eleven–so I am actually getting the same amount of sleep, if not actually less, and yet every Friday morning I get up and feel so much more rested and less tired/sleepy; which really doesn’t make any sense but there it is. I feel very rested and relaxed and calm this morning, which means it was indeed a lovely night’s sleep. And of course tomorrow I can sleep till whenever I feel like bestirring myself from my bed. I do have errands and things to run this weekend, of course; I have to make groceries and at some point I either need to go to Costco or have it delivered (I am leaning toward a delivery, of course)–but I don’t mind going to Costco, really. Maybe I can wait and go when I get off work on Monday? I also have a lot to do this weekend. I have to go over the page proofs for A Streetcar Named Murder again; I need to do some serious writing; and I also want to spend some time reading. My birthday is next weekend, so I am timing my work-at-home days for the weeks around it so I work at home on both that Friday and Monday (part of the reason I am going in early on Monday; I am covering a clinic shift for someone). I am trying to decide what I want to gift myself for my sixty-first birthday, too. I don’t really need anything much, actually; although maybe a keyboard for my iPad might be just the thing I want and need. Hmmm. Something to think about, at any rate.

But overall it’s been a good week. Perhaps not as productive as I might have preferred, but it is what it is, and it’s Friday morning and I feel good and at peace. I am not feeling any major stress of any kind and am feel pretty good about everything right now. Sure, I am behind on almost everything I am working on, but a good productive weekend should have me soon feeling a lot better about everything and try not to get even more stressed about anything. Stress is the mindkiller, after all, not fear–Frank Herbert got that wrong in Dune, I’m afraid–and I am hoping I can have a nice relaxing, productive weekend. I am not going to get annoyed with myself if I don’t get everything finished that I need to get finished this weekend–it is what it is, after all–and the key is for me to ensure that I get rest and relaxation on the weekends, too. As long as I get to rest up, I can hang with the next week. I don’t ever want to get as fatigued as I was before I got COVID (which, in retrospect, was a bit of a blessing in disguise, really), and I need to take better care of myself. Bouchercon is in just a few weeks, and once that trip has passed, I am going to focus on a regular gym routine and trying to eat healthier and try to trim off some of this morbid obesity.

And at least the kitchen isn’t the enormous mess it usually is on Friday mornings, either. So it won’t take me long to get it back under control.

And on that note, I am going to make another cup of coffee and head into the spice mines. Happy Friday, everyone, and will check in with you again tomorrow.

Love Changes

And we’ve made it to Wednesday and Pay-the-Bills day. Hurray? But, as I do like to continually remind myself, at least you CAN pay the bills and still buy groceries and other things, which is a dramatic improvement over the way life used to be. I think back to the days when I worked for the airline and cannot believe the way I used to live; always broke, scrounging for change in the car to buy cigarettes (why didn’t I just quit?), never sure how I was going to get something to eat that day…sometimes not eating at all. Since this was also the period where I tried to get in shape and lose weight–not eating wasn’t as big an issue for me then as it is now. Then again, I’ve always had issues with food, body image, and body dysmorphia (which I still have, I just don’t pay as much attention to it as I used to back in the day when I cared more).

If there’s any kind of neurosis, it seems to be very welcome in my brain.

I was absolutely correct about the insomnia effects yesterday, I might add. Sure enough, all morning long I was a bit cloudy in the head and by the afternoon I was very tired; but I did get some emails answered that needed to be answered and some progress on things that needed to have progress made on them. By the time I got off work, I wasn’t even sure that I’d be able to go pick up the groceries I ordered but Constant Reader, I persisted. I was fucking exhausted after I got them into the house and put away, but I did it. I also swung by and picked up the mail on the way home as well. There were a couple of things that I forgot to put on the list that I considered stopping to pick up as I headed home, but decided they could wait for another evening (tonight, in fact; I can stop by the grocery store in the CBD on my way home, which is not only convenient but easy as well). Yay for me, I think. Today I have to get through that damned to-do list if it kills me–which it might–and so I can start seeing daylight again, or at least get to the surface where I can start treading water again.

I did finish proofing the Bouchercon anthology last evening–I suppose I could start calling it what it actually is, Land of 10000 Thrills, rather than the Bouchercon anthology–and it’s quite the good collection of stories. And an interesting variety of voices, stories, and crimes, at that. I think you will all enjoy it, Constant Reader, when it comes out, and I will be sharing the preorder links and the cover design as soon as they drop into my inbox. This is my third Bouchercon anthology; I did the first New Orleans one (won an Anthony for it, as well) and the St. Petersburg one (my story in that one was nominated for an Anthony Award) and now I’ve done this third one–and I am nominated for two Anthony Awards this year (as Paul says, “two chances to be a loser!”)–and this is it, the last one. I said that after Florida Happens, of course, but I kind of don’t ever want to do any more anthologies of any kind, to be completely honest. I think I am good at putting them together, but there’s not really any money in them anymore–and especially the ones like this, that don’t pay anything at all and are simply a donation of my time and energy, both of which I no longer have in great quantities any longer. I need to save my creative strengths and energies (such as they are) for novels, short stories, and essays. I shouldn’t have agreed to do this one, frankly–something I’ve reminded myself of over and over most of this year–but here we are. To be honest, I don’t remember agreeing to do this one, but I am betting it happened on that horrible drunken afternoon at St. Petersburg Bouchercon when bad influences got me to drink that Low ‘n’ Slow stuff.

Yes, that’s probably when it happened.

I did not, in fact, get trained on the monkeypox vaccine yesterday after all. Our program’s nurse had an emergency and couldn’t make it in, so we had to reschedule it. I’m right now blanking on when that was moved to, but I’ll certainly find out tomorrow morning when I get to the office (I only bring the laptop home on the weekends, because Monday is my work-at-home day). I also slept really well last night–my sinuses kicked in at some point overnight, so I’m a bit phlegmy this morning (ugh) but I am also fairly certain a Claritin will do the trick on that. I have one more thing to get done today before I am finally free and clear to work specifically on Mississippi River Mischief, and I hope to get that story edited today. I also read some more of Curtis Ippolito’s Burying the Newspaper Man, which I am enjoying–the book certainly gets off to a big start–and we watched some episodes o Control Z last night–we’re on Season Three, but don’t really remember much of the plot or the story from previous seasons, although they are doing something rather interesting with a queer storyline that I’m not very certain how I feel about. But it makes me think, which is always a good thing–good art, whether it’s a book, film or TV show, should always make the viewer/reader think a little bit; that’s what art is supposed to do, challenge and inspire.

I also picked up copies of new releases yesterday: Donna Andrews’ Round Up The Usual Peacocks, Gabino Iglesias’ The Devil Takes You Home, and Amina Akhtar’s Kismet. Definitely some good reading in my future; I’ll probably move the Iglesias up the TBR Pile to next position after I finish the Ippolito.

And on that note, Constant Reader, I am going to head into the spice mines. You have a lovely day now, you hear? And I will check in with you again tomorrow. Happy Wednesday to all!

It’s Only Love

AH, insomnia. It’s been a hot minute since you stopped by for a visit, thank you.

At least I slept for a good four or five hours before I woke up around three this morning and wasn’t able to really fall back asleep. I have a longish day ahead of me, too, and I can’t really afford to be tired and sleepy and groggy. I’m not right now–I’m wide awake–but this afternoon I am going to run out of steam. I am getting trained on how to give monkeypox vaccines today–I don’t know that I will actually have to do it; I was a little confused by the messages I was getting from the department head yesterday, but then again being able to give vaccines is a training that could be useful for me, especially as pandemics and epidemics seem to be the thing nowadays. I also assume that, if I am going to be administering them, I’ll be getting one as well? It’s weird, I am not sure how it works, and I am not going to be googling anything before I actually have my training; but I’d assumed it was a two-shot protocol–but who knows?

I got a lot done yesterday, actually. I got all my day job work caught up, and then I spent the evening proofing the pages for A Streetcar Named Murder, and then wrote up the acknowledgements and the dedication and sent them off to my publisher in the early evening. Now I have to do the page proofs for the Bouchercon anthology and do the edits on a short story, and then I am all caught up and can get back to work on writing again. Whew.

I got up early yesterday to go have blood drawn done for my bi-annual lab work, which kind of messed with my mindset a little bit for the rest of the day, but overall I think it was a good day, really. I let Imposter Syndrome out from behind its locked door in my brain for a while last night and went into a bit of a spiral as we watched the latest episode of The Anarchists and got further into the third season of Control Z–which I am not really following; it’s hard for me to remember which characters are which–that has a lot to do with COVID brain, though, I think. It’s hard for me to remember shows we’ve binged because we’ve binged so many over the past three years, and Control Z, which has shorter episodes (slightly longer than half an hour) makes it harder to connect with and remember characters and their story arcs when they aren’t really the main one, if that makes sense? The episode we watched last night ended with a surprise twist in that Pablo might be the hacker….but we couldn’t remember which character was Pablo. See what I mean about it being a problem?

We’re having a thunderstorm currently, which means dashing out to the car while carrying everything and an umbrella, fumbling to unlock the gate, etc. It also means we’re probably going to have flooding this morning as well–that’s what rain usually means in New Orleans during the summer–and also means my feet will most likely get wet (which is why I always have spare socks in one of my desk drawers at the office; there’s nothing worse than wet socks during the work day). Yay. This is the kind of weather than makes me want to stay in bed; one of these mornings when it’s raining on the weekend I am going to come down and get my coffee and go back up to bed to read while it rains, which is one of my favorite things in the world to do but I’ve not been able to do for a very long time, which kind of sucks, really. Simple pleasures are often quite marvelous and endlessly good for the soul–which is one of the reasons I love sleep (when I’m able to get it) so much.

And yes, one of the things I have to do this morning is make a fresh to-do list, and go from there.

And on that note, I am going to finish my peanut butter toast and get cleaned up for work. Have a lovely Tuesday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

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?

I Can’t Wait

Sunday morning and I slept late again, and again, it felt marvelous. I feel much more rested than I did yesterday morning–and I also don’t have to make an errands run today, either; lugging groceries from the car to the Lost Apartment on top of dealing with a grocery store on a Saturday of a holiday weekend wasn’t exactly an energy-enhancing experience either (my God, it was so humid yesterday; little wonder it rained off and on all day). But I did get things done–sort of. I finished reading The Savage Kind by John Copenhaver, which I really enjoyed from start to finish (more on that later); I got some chores done around the Lost Apartment, and I worked on getting better organized (always an in-process on-going thing). We binged a show on Amazon Prime last night–The Lake–which we both really enjoyed (and stayed up too late to finish watching) before retiring to bed for the evening, and now here I am this morning with a cup of coffee and slightly bleary, unfocused eyes as I write this. It’s a little cloudy and dim outside–not the blinding brightness of a cloudless morning, for sure. I don’t have to go outside for anything the next few days other than taking out the trash and using the grill–I’m probably going to cook out burgers either today or tomorrow, I can’t decide which–and then I am going to write and edit for most of the day, always a pleasure and joy. The next thing I am going to read isn’t something I can talk about, as it’s a manuscript in progress for a friend (who is also a really great writer), but I think the next book I read is indeed going to be Rob Osler’s The Devil’s Chewtoy, which is a great title and I’ve heard any number of good things about the author, who earlier this year won the Robert Fish Award from Mystery Writers of America for best debut short story–an impressive achievement, to be sure.

The Lake has an interesting premise, and it was much funnier than I thought it would be. Sixteen years ago, the main character–a gay male, Justin–had sex with his best friend (Teesa) on prom night (they were both drunk, and the only time he’s ever slept with a woman) and she became pregnant. They gave the child up for adoption–one of those “open” adoptions, so the child always knows who their adoptive and birth parents are, and has a relationship with their birth parents–which caused an even deeper rift between the main character and his father (already there because of his sexuality). After the adoption, Justin left Canada with his partner for Australia. That relationship has ended (the partner was “fucking half of Bondi Beach”), and he has returned to Canada. He brings his daughter Billie to the lake where he spent all of his summers as a child, and8 his family used to have a cottage to try to develop a relationship with her; only to discover that their old lake house was never sold–instead, his father left it to his stepsister and nemesis, Maisy, played brilliantly by Julia Stiles in an epic villain turn. The rest of the series details his schemes for getting back his lake house and feuding with Maisy; while developing a relationship with a local handyman named Riley, while his daughter ironically finds herself falling for Maisy’s son. Justin is played by Jordan Gavaris, who is terrific in the part; Constant Reader may remember Gavaris for his star turn in Orphan Black as Felix, the openly gay artist who is a foster brother to Sarah and her grounding point–seeing him in this reminded me of how terrific he was in Orphan Black, and how disappointing it is that he hasn’t broken out into a bigger star. But The Lake is terrific and funny and surprisingly twisted; I highly recommend it, and can we please have more good parts for Jordan Gavaris, please?

I still haven’t figured out what I am going to read on Thursday, either. Heavy heaving sigh. I seriously need to put some thought into that either today or tomorrow or both; I go back and forth during those brief moments when I do think about it. Should I read from Bury Me in Shadows, #shedeservedit, or one of my short stories? It would probably make more sense to read from something that might intrigue listeners to go buy the book, and even more sense to read a novel than a story, since I won’t earn anything from a sale of a copy of the anthology, really, if my reading was to move people into parting with hard-earned money to buy something of mine. Yes, the more I think about it, the more likely I am to read from #shedeservedit…or maybe “This Town.” I’ve always wanted to read that story aloud…hmmm. I just wish I had started thinking about this sooner–this is why I always end up doing things at the last minute, which always makes me feel like I’ve not prepared adequately.

But I do feel very good this morning, which is always lovely. I get paid on Wednesday this week, so I can go ahead and get the bills paid before I leave for the weekend (I cannot believe I have to get up at five a.m. for my flight; what the actual fuck was I thinking? Clearly I wasn’t. Of course, it was the only non-stop, which is what I actually was thinking. But…I’ll be tired. Very tired that evening. And probably hungry and crabby and tired and…oy. No sense freaking out about any of that right now. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

And on that note, I am going to shave my head and jump in the shower and get my day’s work started. Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader–I will check in with you again later.

Nightbird

Tuesday and back to the office. Huzzah?

I guess. It doesn’t feel like I accomplished much this weekend, but that’s nothing new. I always feel like I should have done more when the weekend–especially a long one–has ended; but I am trying not to beat myself up as much over stuff like this as I used to. It’s not good for my mental health, for one–always a shaky thing at the best of times–and it’s counter-productive. I feel very strongly that one should never regret things–no regrets is kind of a mantra of mine–because regret is really a waste of time and energy. You can’t change it, after all. (I am not saying this rule should apply to everything–murder, for example–but for anything that isn’t a crime, you should have no regrets. All you can do is change the behavior and not repeat it if you feel regret but wallowing in the regret is counter-productive and kind of self-defeating. I think you get the point. I’ve not had enough coffee to be certain I am making the point properly.) I didn’t finish reading my book, I didn’t write nearly as much as I could have, and I certainly didn’t get the apartment as clean and organized as I would have preferred. But it’s also a short work week, we have a regular weekend coming up and then another three day holiday after that; and then I am off to Florida for Sleuthfest–which makes that an even shorter week than usual. And since yesterday was a holiday, I actually get to use my Friday as my work-at-home day of the week. Huzzah! That will be nice, and I have all kinds of things I can take home and do this Friday.

We finished watching The Defeated last night and it’s really quite good. It was originally released in 2020 and approved for a second season, but the pandemic interfered and it looks like they went into production sometime last year, but where is the second (and final) season? It’s really good–if you enjoy Babylon Berlin or have any interest in the second world war and it’s aftermath, you’ll really like this show.

Well, yesterday I ran my errands–Metairie and the North Shore–and after I was finished and heading back home, I realized something: you can actually tell where an area falls on the political landscape based on the length of the drive-thru line at a Chik-Fil-A. The one in Metairie on Veteran’s Boulevard yesterday, for example–was so long it backed out onto Veterans and was blocking a lane of traffic. No offense to right-wingers, but there’s really no fast food in the world good enough for me to sit in a drive-thru line that would take that long (although now it occurs to me that it could also be an indication of how slow the line moves, which again–no fast food is so fucking good that it’s worth waiting in line for a minimum of twenty minutes for).

It was exhausting, of course–the heat index was well over a hundred yesterday–but it was also a beautiful day for a drive across the lake. I used to loathe driving over the causeway bridge, and it’s still not a favorite thing for me to do (the five dollar toll to come back to the south shore doesn’t help; yes, it’s free to go to the north shore but you have to pay to come to the south; just like when the Crescent City Connection was a toll bridge going to the West Bank was free but you had to pay to come back to New Orleans), but I’ve adapted and can now relax (depending on the idiot drivers, of course; there are always a few) as I drive across and enjoy looking at the beautiful expanse of water. The bridge is twenty-four miles long, so you can reach a point where you can’t see land in any direction, like you’re out there in the middle of the water with no end to it in sight–I think that was what always used to bother me about driving across the bridge. The north shore is also actually quite beautiful, too–you really feel like you’re in the South on the North Shore, more so than on the south shore, where it feels like Louisiana, if that makes sense? (although it would make for an interesting thing to write about in a Scotty book, hmmm) I do wish I had more free time, because I would like to go exploring around the city a bit more–the north shore, the river and bayou parishes–but the cost of gas is also making such explorations prohibitive. Maybe over the 4th of July weekend I can head down to the river parishes….I kind of need to for this new Scotty book. Then again, I am inventing a parish out of my imagination, but it also doesn’t hurt to ground a fictional parish in reality, either.

And on that note, I need to head into the spice mines. Happy Tuesday and will chat at you again tomorrow, Constant Reader.

Beauty and the Beast

Holiday Monday, which is celebrating Juneteenth (if you want to know more about the holiday, this is a great place to start). It’s hard to believe, and more than a little sad, that it took until recently for this to become a federally recognized holiday. Honestly.

Better late than never, I suppose–which is hardly any consolation, really.

But it’s nice to have another three-day weekend (I can’t remember which holiday we gave up for this one at my dayjob, but we only are allowed no more than eight holidays for some reason), and I slept late again this morning. The cappuccino yesterday morning had no effect on my sleep, so I am having another one this morning, which is lovely. I really do love the way they taste; I just wish making them wasn’t so complicated and dirtied up so much stuff. I made Swedish meatballs yesterday afternoon and that mess still needs to be cleaned up as well. Heavy sigh. What can I say? I got caught up in watching television once the meal was ready and stayed in my easy chair until it was time for bed. We watched the new episode of Becoming Elizabeth, which isn’t bad but it’s not overly compelling either–which is weird, because the period between Henry VIII’s death in 1547 and Elizabeth’s accession to the throne in 1558 was very fraught and very dangerous (Anya Seton brilliantly captured this period in her seminal novel Green Darkness, which I highly recommend along with the warning “it’s quite long”); but it’s not really translating to the screen very well in this production. I also spent some more time with John Copenhaver’s marvelous The Savage Kind, which I hope to do again today.

We also started watching an amazing show on Netflix that originally dropped in 2020 and whose second season was endlessly delayed by the pandemic (I checked it out on-line as we watched) called The Defeated starring Taylor Kitsch as a Brooklyn homicide detective who is “loaned” to a small precinct in the American sector of Berlin in 1946 to help rebuild their station along American police standards; which is a challenge. None of the people working as cops there have any experience in being police officers; some are young boys while the majority are women. The Germans aren’t allowed to have guns, so they have an “arsenal” where they keep their bedposts and other wooden sticks; the Russians are horrible; and Kitsch himself is looking for his brother, a soldier with mental problems who’s gone AWOL and whom Kitsch suspects is targeting and murdering Nazis. It’s extremely well done–think Babylon Berlin but only in another twenty years–and it also asks a lot of ethical and moral questions that really don’t have answers. The woman who runs the station, is the “superintendent” or captain of the squad–wasn’t a Nazi but her protestations about “we weren’t all Nazis” have the same credibility of a prisoner at Angola claiming innocence: no one admits to being a Nazi once the war was lost, after all. At one point she says, very poignantly, “The war is over and the entire world hates us because of what we did, or allowed, and who can blame them?” This seems particularly poignant given the current political climate in our country; I know it seems extreme, but I’ve seen other people comment on Twitter and other social media about how they feel sometimes like “they are living in Weimar Germany and it’s just a matter of time.”

I know I’ve certainly felt that way at times.

We also watched a classic old Bette Davis film, The Letter, which I’d realized I’d never seen yesterday so I pulled it up and started watching. I had read the original short story by Somerset Maugham a few years ago for the Short Story Project, and enjoyed it tremendously. The story is told from the lawyer’s point of view, while the movie certainly shifts the focus over to Leslie Crosbie, wife of a Malaysian rubber plantation owner, who shoots and kills a man she accuses of trying to rape her. Everyone believes Leslie…but you see, there is this letter that exists that contradicts her story, and the more lies she tells, the less her lawyer believes her–although he ultimately pays a blackmailer to get the letter back so she escapes conviction. In the story it’s all from the lawyer’s point of view; she’s merely the wife of a friend he is taking on as a favor, and he doesn’t know her well…but as he (the lawyer) discovers the existence of the letter and recovers it, he slowly begins to see through her lies and to see her as she really is. He doesn’t expose her–he allows her to escape her punishment–but he confronts her with the letter after the verdict and she confesses everything…only to return to her loveless marriage at the rubber plantation. The story and the movie both are steeped with the Imperialistic and racist overtones of the time the story was written and the film made; the ending of the movie is different than that of the story because of course, for the Hays Code of the time she couldn’t be seen as not being “punished” for her crime; she is murdered at the end by the Eurasian widow of the man she killed (his marriage to this mixed-race woman is what sets the tragedy in motion) during a party celebrating her verdict. There was one scene in particular that really made me shake my head: after she has told her story of being almost raped and committing murder to protect herself, she makes dinner for her husband, a friend of the family, and the local police magistrate and they sit around eating and talking about things like nothing’s happened. As we watched this season, Paul–who had no idea of what the movie was about–said, “Oh, he didn’t try to rape her, did he? She’s a cold-blooded killer.” GREG: “It’s Bette Davis, what do you think?”

Although it did make me think about false accusations of rape again, which is one of the myriad of reasons women generally tend to not be believed about being assaulted. There’s probably a really good essay to be written about that.

I also wrote yesterday, which was really lovely. I managed to get the first chapter of that manuscript written; I plan to look at it again today and tweak it a bit. I have a lengthy errand to run–must go over to the North Shore–and when I get home, I plan to write for a while before retiring to my easy chair with my Copenhaver book (I am really enjoying it, y’all) before we finish watching The Defeated (y’all, it’s really good). I’m not sure if what I wrote yesterday is actually any good or not; it remains to be seen, I suppose, and let’s face it, I am not (nor have I ever been) the best judge of my own work. But we shall see today, I suppose. It felt good to be creating again and it felt good to be finishing something, even if it’s just a shitty draft. I’d like to be able to get a lot more written today, if I can…

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Talk soon, Constant Reader!

Garbo

Saturday morning and I feel rested, somewhat. Later today I get to head out into the heat to run errands–one of which involves self-care, so we’re counting that as a necessity, and I also figured it was easier to do all the errands I need to run all at the same time to get them out of the way. On the Monday holiday I intend to return to the gym for the first time in months (huzzah!). I got to sleep in all the way till eight this morning, which is pretty amazing for me lately. I also got most of my chores around the kitchen done last night–the few that are left I will get to over the course of the morning, before I have to get cleaned up and head out for the errands–and Paul didn’t get home terribly late. We watched the new Emma Thompson movie on Hulu, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, which wasn’t bad–nothing like I expected, but enjoyable; Emma Thompson is always fantastic in everything she does–and then two more episodes of Why Are You Like This?, which continues to amuse us. While I was waiting for Paul I started watching a documentary series on Epix about Watergate–I watched the first episode about Martha Mitchell, since we’d just watched Gaslit–and then I was watching the last episode (I know the sequence of events and I know the story, so watching the entire thing in order wasn’t necessary), which was about the Saturday Night Massacre. I think it’s good that Watergate is getting talked about again since we are in the midst of more congressional investigations into the possible criminality of a president; it’s also interesting seeing that some of the same players–Roger Stone, for example–were involved then as they are now. The short term memory of our collective nation is appalling, really; it’s also appalling that there are people who continue to support a criminal even as the depth of the criminality is exposed as even more reprehensible in fact then it appeared from the outside.

I mean, no one’s talking about or reporting on Ukraine anymore, it seems; it’s like that war is over and we’ve all moved on to the next bright, shiny object. Guess what? It’s not.

Today I am going to do background work when I get home from the errands (and shower again). I managed to get some work done on a project yesterday, which was lovely; so today I kind of want to do some writing–always need to do some, every day, no matter what–as well as planning, and then I am going to curl up in my easy chair with Scooter in my lap and The Savage Kind by John Copenhaver in my hands. Tomorrow I hope to spend mostly reading and writing all day–we’ll see how that goes–and the same for the work holiday on Monday (I also have to run an errand to the North Shore that morning). The excitement truly never stops around here…but I am feeling good again this morning, just as I did yesterday morning, so that’s always a good thing. (I am worried that the heat outside, however, will defeat my good intentions and wear me out by the time I get home; we are at that point already in the summer where going outside is exhausting. It’s amazing the way heat and humidity can leech the energy right out of you.) But i must say it felt really good to write some last night–which was a lovely change from the recent “pulling teeth with pliers” way it’s been going lately, and even after I stopped writing (Scooter was most insistent that I provide a lap for him to sleep in) I was still thinking about what I had written and what I would write next on that particular project.

Which makes for a lovely change from the malaise I’ve been going through since I finished the edits of Streetcar.

I also need to edit and rework some short stories; I want to get some submissions out before the end of the month. Some of which will be long shots, as always; others more of a safe bet, but everything in this business is a crap shoot. I think part of the problem I’ve been having is that I don’t have a clear picture of what I want to write and what I want to submit and when things need to be turned in and so forth. I had hoped to have a second short story collection ready to go this year, but I don’t think that is going to happen–which is okay; I’d also wanted all the novellas to be finished and turned into a book this year as well. Ah, well, dreams die first.

And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines. I have an appointment at eleven, and I need to get ready for that as well as stop to air up my tires on the way there. I hope to be home around two from everything, and yes, I will be completely drained and exhausted from being out navigating the heat and so forth, as well as lugging groceries in from the car. Heavy heavy sigh. But best to get it over with and out of the way today…and we shall see how the rest of the day goes.

Have a happy Saturday, Constant Reader!