In America

Wednesday morning and it’s not quite sixty degrees yet this morning in New Orleans, so the space heater is on to take the chill out of my kitchen and my office space as I swill coffee and prepare for my day. I was exhausted yesterday, and fell asleep almost immediately after tumbling into bed. I had a fabulous night’s sleep, and this morning I feel very rested and well–although I could have easily stayed in bed for a while longer. Tomorrow morning I have to get up early because I have to have bloodwork done, but I am also in the home stretch of the week where the half-days are happening.

Huzzah!

I started–very slowly–revising the WIP’s first chapter last night. I’d always envisioned the book opening with the line The summer before my senior year my mother ruined my life, and while it is a great opening, it doesn’t really work with the story I am actually writing–while my character still believes that to be true, of course, as a framing device for the actual story my WIP has become it no longer works. For one thing, I am writing the book in a very close first person, present tense; so opening with a sentence and paragraph in the past tense, where he is obviously looking back to what happened that particular summer in Alabama, the shift in tense is awkward and abrupt and really doesn’t work anymore. I am horribly stubborn about this sort of thing, and it usually takes me much longer to give up and recognize that the opening I love so much has to go–so I am kind of pleased about that I’ve already gotten past that, to be honest. And the story is much better for it.

As I was writing those first ten chapters, too, I recognized holes in the plot when I saw them but, as is my wont, I simply made note of them and kept ploughing ahead. Part of the reason I want to go back and do a second draft of these chapters before I move on to the second half of the novel is because fixing those plot holes and cleaning up those mistakes will make writing the second half easier…and the book might go to twenty-five chapters, rather than the twenty I was thinking about. I”m not going to worry too much about length at the moment–that can always be worked out later–but I am very excited to be writing something new again.

And not to worry, Scotty fans–writing this doesn’t mean I’m not making notes and doing research for the next Scotty. I may not get to it until this fall, but I am going to get to it at some point.

Now I need to get on the stick and get my TWFest homework done. I have to have two books read by next weekend! This is ordinarily not a problem for me, but all kinds of crazy shit is going on around here. I have to have bloodwork done tomorrow, we have to start getting ready not only for the Weekend o’Festivals but also for the house tenting for termites that is going to occur that weekend as well–which means the easy day I have planned for that Friday is turning into a nightmare–I have to take the cat to board; I have to clean out our freezer because the power will be off; I have a doctor’s appointment that day; I have to figure out how to get all my stuff down to the hotel in the Quarter without the car (no fucking way am I paying hotel parking in the Quarter); and how to get ready for that evening’s parties and so forth….then the following Monday, also a day off for me, will require me to retrieve the cat and the car and everything else.

Just thinking about it is making me tired.

But on that note, I am heading back to the spice mines.

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I Wanna Be Your Lover

So, Facebook was apparently wonky yesterday, and so was Instagram. I rarely go to Instagram–I’m not really sure what the point of it is, and I mostly follow male fitness models because I like to look at pictures of pretty men, feel free to judge me for this–but I did have some things I wanted to post on Facebook yesterday which kept failing on me. But the wonkiness kept me off of there for most of the day, and I have to say it was kind of lovely.

I am loving Alafair Burke’s The Better Sister, as I knew I would. This weekend I am going to have to spend most of my free time reading, because I still have two more books to read to prepare for my panel and time is running out.

Yesterday the box o’books for Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories arrived, and it looks fantastic. I can’t tell you, Constant Reader, how pleased I am with what Bold Strokes has been doing with the packaging of my books. Great covers, the interior with Janson (my favorite font); they look terrific, and I couldn’t be more pleased. It’s been a while since I got a box o’books; the last Todd Gregory novel came out in January of 2018, and this is the first fiction I’ve published since then (I don’t count anthologies, even though my name is on the spine). Yeah, I know that’s just over a year, but for me that’s a long time.

And no, the feeling of opening up a box o’books with my name on the cover still hasn’t gotten old.

I am really looking forward to getting the box o’books for Royal Street Reveillon.

I had hoped to have the first draft of the WIP finished by the end of this month, but I don’t really see how I can do that while getting the reading done that I need to do for my panel…which means, I suppose, that I’ll have to rejuggle my calendar for the year. Ha ha ha, like I actually have taken the time to make a to-do calendar for the year. I’ve not even been making to-do lists. Maybe this is why I’ve felt so at-sea this year; I should get back on that and get back to normal.

I started watching The Order on Netflix last night, per the recommendation of some of my co-workers, and I kind of enjoyed the first episode. It is a paranormal show of some sort, but it, like True Blood (and the grandmother of all these shows, Dark Shadows), doesn’t take itself seriously and there are some seriously funny moments on the show. I also watched the first episode of Gregg Araki’s new show on Starz, Now Apocalypse, and also am intrigued enough to watch more. American Gods is also apparently back for its second season, which is something else I can watch during these last few weeks pre-Festival while Paul is working around the clock.

My new computer was delivered yesterday–I did wind up ordering a new MacBook Air on-line on Monday (not that there’s anything wrong with the HP Stream; there’s not, but it’s a long story I won’t bore you with and it doesn’t hurt to use it as a back-up in case of other issues AND this way when we travel we won’t have to share a laptop which is always aggravating), and it did arrive and I am picking it up this morning on my way to the office. Today and tomorrow are, of course, my half-days, which is lovely, and so I can come home tonight and get things started on cleaning around here as well as reading, and then tomorrow I can make groceries on the way home and be in for the weekend. This weekend is St. Patrick’s Day, which means parades and day-drunks roaming around the neighborhood, so not leaving the house is optimal.

And on that note, I should return to the spice mines. Happy Thursday, Constant Reader,

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I Pledge My Love

Good morning, Saturday, how are you doing? I’ve been up for over an hour and am just now finishing my second cup of coffee. I slept really well last night, and feel incredibly rested this morning. This is a good thing; I have a few errands to run later this morning (including getting my filthy filthy car washed) and therefore I need a lot of energy. I am also dropping off several bags worth of beads and throws at the Latter Library drop-off for the ARC of Greater New Orleans (attention locals: if you’re looking to get rid of excess beads and throws, here is a list of the drop-off points.). There are also a few odds and ends I need to get at the grocery store, and of course I always need to get the mail.

Yesterday was a bit of an adventure.

So, Thursday afternoon my MacBook Air started…well, acting a little funky. It was working just fine, no worries on that score, but on the left part of the screen, a series of vertical black lines suddenly appeared. I could still see what was behind them, but there was some flickering and the wall paper just turned into flickering blotches of color. Uh oh, I said to myself, that can’t be good. I spoke to Apple Support on-line, and we determined that yes, it wasn’t software but a hardware issue, which is what I suspected all along. We made an appointment for me to take it to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store in Metairie, the earliest available appointment being for 3:15. Terrific, I thought. I get off work at one, can drive out to Metairie and go shopping at Target–which I need to do anyway–and then head to the mall.

So, I did precisely that; I got off work at one, headed over to 610, and took it to where it merges with I-10 just over the parish line and drove out to Clearview Parkway. I spent far too much money at Target (it’s just like Costco in that way; even with a list I buy more than I intended to–oh, look, I need toothpaste but this deal for two is a dollar cheaper than buying two separately at separate times; oh, coffee is on sale? This is too good a deal to pass up…and so it goes) and loaded everything in the hatch of the car (where there were already all the bags of beads and throws to be donated) and headed to Lakeview Mall. I checked in–an hour early–at the Apple Store, then went to eat at the Smashburger in the food court (good, but a little too expensive; I should have stopped at Atomic Burger, which is also expensive but worth it). I returned to the Apple Store and started checking out the MacBook Airs, just in case the old one wasn’t reparable. I really can’t afford to buy a new one at this time, but was prepared to because I can’t do without a laptop.

And long story short, no they couldn’t repair it because it was too old. I bought the Air in 2011–eight years old, and eight years of it working brilliantly whenever I needed it to.

So, I decided to go ahead and get the least expensive one, which was actually very similar to mine. Except…

..they had none in stock, it had to be ordered, and the earliest I could get it would be April 1st.

Um, no. They did have the more expensive models in stock, of course.

But there was no way I was taking that financial hit and then having to wait four weeks to actually get the damned thing, all the while hoping that the current one would continue to work.

But this happened before, I remembered, with my current iPad–the store told me it would take five weeks to get it on back order, then I came home, went on-line, ordered it from Apple.com and had it within a week. So, I decided to come home and do the same thing–order it on-line and see what happened.

But as I was leaving the mall and turning around to head back to New Orleans, I saw there was a Best Buy on my right. What the hell, I thought, and pulled into their parking lot. Long story short, I bought a HP Stream for $251 total and it didn’t cost me any cash out of pocket; the cashier signed me up for Best Buy credit and if I pay it off in six months there’s no interest…which means even if it is a cheap piece of shit and breaks down or turns out to be useless, it should give me at least another year of use while I save up to buy a proper Apple laptop. And I may not even go with the Air next time and might get a MacBook Pro.

This HP Stream also looks just like my old iBook, which I loved and used for six years or so before its motherboard went out. It’ll take some getting used to, of course, but this all kind of worked out really well for me and I am most pleased.

And when I got home, there were no places to park on my street–remember, hatch was full of bags from shopping at Target–but as I drove down the street, resigned to having to lug everything two blocks in the heavy humidity we get before a rain, someone pulled out of a spot right in front of my house.

Seriously.

So, today I am going to run my errands and come back home to clean. I also plan on doing one last copy edit of Scotty before I send it in to my editor, and also get back to work on the WIP. I also need to read some more of Alafair Burke’s The Better Sister, in preparation for our panel later this month at the Tennessee Williams Festival.

And I hope you have a lovely, lovely day, Constant Reader.

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How Do I Make You

My last day of work before my Carnival vacation. It’s a long day; roughly eight am to eight pm, one of the notorious twelve hour days. But I slept really well last night, and while it’s gloomy and rainy and gray and a bit chilly out there, I am in a good mood and feel rested. Thunderstorms are forecast for the entire weekend of Carnival. I’m not sure what that’s going to do to the parade schedule, but adaptation is always necessary when it comes to the weather here. I just pray Endymion doesn’t rain out, so they wind up rescheduling to follow Bacchus on Sunday down St. Charles. That’s happened before, and it’s always a nightmare. The parade never finishes before three in the morning, and seriously–Sunday is already non-stop parades all day.

I did no revising yesterday. Shameful, I know, I was in a fairly good mood but completely unmotivated. I didn’t even read anything yesterday. Horrific, I know. I did start doing some laundry last night but didn’t finish, either. I am going to stop at the grocery store tonight on my way home from work and get some things; at some point over the next few days I am probably going to make a Costco run as well. As always, I have a sink full of dishes and at least two loads of laundry to finish…

Ah, the excitement! I can only hope I won’t be too overstimulated to sleep.

I also think I am going to use this vacation time–I am out of the office from tomorrow until Ash Wednesday–to head back to the gym. I stretched a little yesterday morning, and it felt fantastic; at the very least, even if I can’t drag my enormous and ever-growing ass to the gym to do weights every day, I should at least stretch because it feels good and I love doing it. Seriously. I actually LIKE lifting weights and working out; I don’t know why I have so many issues with actually DOING it.

But that’s everything in my life, isn’t it? I love writing. I love revising. I love cleaning. I love cooking. I love working out. So why do I never want to do any of those things, and when I do them it’s always grudgingly?

So, my goals over the vacation are these: finish revising Scotty and get it to my editor; get back to writing the WIP; finish reading Lori Roy’s brilliant Gone Too Long; clean and organize the entire house; get my car washed (I parked it under a tree; you can guess the rest); get my brake tag; go to Costco and eat at Five Guys; and start working out again. I think I can make all these things happen, and hopefully once I am working out again I will continue working out. I don’t really need to lower my BMI all that much to trim off the excess fatty tissue; the problem with the size gains I’ve made over the last seven years or so is any excess fat makes it ALL look like fat. Heavy sigh.

I CAN DO IT.

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

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More Love

So, yesterday I went to pick up the mail–I’d ordered some sleepy-time tea on line, and they’d arrived on Wednesday, and yes, this tea actually works–and discovered FOUND MONEY in the mail. Back when I worked for that Unnamed Airline (Continental), in my last year there they gave us stock–something I would imagine they continued doing–but it was Class B or something; whatever it was, we couldn’t sell it. Flash forward and they merged with United. Fine, it was only ten shares, whatever, I always get the notice every year and just toss it in a drawer.

Yesterday, I actually read the thing and discovered that–wait, it’s now the kind of stock you can sell. It took me five minutes, but I signed into the stock website and sold that. It only took another five minutes for it to actually sell. How cool! I love when found money suddenly shows up, you know? It makes me quite happy.

I knew when I woke up yesterday was going to be a marquee day for the week, and it was. Huzzah! Part of it was after feeling so low energy all week, despite being rested, was waking up with batteries recharged; that happened again this morning in time for my short day this week. I have some errands to run this morning before I go in this afternoon; and some other things I need to get done around the Lost Apartment.

I’m still reading Last Seen Leaving  by Caleb Roehrig, which I am enjoying. I hope to finish reading it today, and then I am moving on to another Diversity Project book (after reading some short stories), and I think I’ve decided to read The Klansman by William Bradford Huie. I read this book when I was about nine or ten originally; I know the book belonged to my uncle, and I read it one lazy summer I was spending in Alabama (the same summer I read To Kill a Mockingbird.) Huie isn’t really talked about much anymore–at least not that I’m aware of–and The Klansman was a look at the violence and horror of the Civil Rights Era from the perspective of a white sheriff in a small county in Alabama who’s trying to keep the peace. Huie also wrote The Execution of Private Slovik, and other books illustrating social justice issues. I liked the book a lot, and it was, I think, the first time in my life I was ever given a different perspective on civil rights other than what I was hearing at home or at school, so I am curious to see how it holds up. I can’t remember when I remembered the book and tracked down a used copy on line; but am pretty certain it was after some tragedy involving racism in the last few years–unfortunately I can’t be more specific than that because there have been so many.

So, I have a nice busy weekend ahead of me–reading, cleaning, reading page proofs, and perhaps working on the Scotty revision. I’d also like to go to the gym both days as well; it never hurts to get the working out monkey off my back and start making time for the self-care and self-improvement I desperately need to make this year a winner.

Our Internet was out last night, so we couldn’t watch anything on television–no Australian Open, no US Figure Skating championships, none of the shows we watch regularly, nothing–so I spent the night doing some cleaning and some more reading. The good news, of course, is that it back this morning and a lot faster than it was before the crash last night (or of the last few weeks or so), which is lovely.

And on that note, probably should get back to the spice mines. Happy Friday, everyone.

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Babe

It’s late Friday afternoon, and I am home already. The car maintenance stuff went extremely well, and I did some grocery shopping on the West Bank since I was already over there–and who knew there’s now a Five Guys on Manhattan Boulevard? I was torn between my usual Sonic and going to Five Guys; Five Guys won out in the end. I did console myself with the thought you can always come over here more often to shop, you know. And the Sonic is not going anywhere.

And I am now on my three-day weekend. Tomorrow I am off to Costco–woo-hoo!–and Sunday of course is the Saints NFC championship game. The city is, of course, awash in excitement today; everyone wearing the colors or a jersey, flags waving from the tops of cars, etc. I am going to try to get to Costco relatively early, come home, and then relaunch my workout program before coming home to do some cleaning and writing (I am also cleaning tonight). Sunday I pretty much assume I’ll be completely useless; I’ll be drained and exhausted one way or the other after the game…and then there’s Monday. Paul will be at work, and so I can go to the gym and spend the rest of the day writing. Maybe I can even get the Scotty finished once and for all on Monday? No, not likely; it’ll probably happen the following weekend, after which I can spend the rest of February finishing the first draft of the WIP before the madness of Carnival.

Christ, Carnival is late this year but it’s still just around the corner. #madness.

I also am going to launch myself back into the Short Story Project by reading and talking about all the stories in Murder-a-Go-Go’s, the fabulous anthology of crime stories inspired by the music of the Go-Go’s edited by the amazing Holly West. I also have my own collection coming out around the same time, Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories, so I will also be talking about those stories as well. And if I can find the time, I am hoping to work on some of the short stories I’ve written and are just in some kind of limbo, which is also kind of exciting. I am also excited to get back to watching Titans, and of course the Australian Open is also going on…and Schitt’s Creek is back. Huzzah! (So is Riverdale.)

And now tis back to the spice mines. Just thought I’d check in with you Constant Reader. I also hope you’re having a three-day weekend as well.

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With You I’m Born Again

Thursday night of one of my half-days, and I am waiting for Paul to get home. I am in the process of making dinner. I have already done a load of laundry, there’s another in the dryer right now with another in the washer just waiting its turn to tumble dry. There’s a clean load of dishes in the dishwasher. I am also preparing a lot of things I need to mail out when I go to the post office on Saturday. I’ve cleaned the kitchen counters off and done some things in the living room.

I reread the first five chapters of the Scotty today, and I’ve not been able to stop thinking about them–and by further extension, the rest of the manuscript as I’ve read it this week. I really hate these five opening chapters, hate them. They drag, they don’t make sense, and while there are certainly other moments later in the manuscript where my tendency to have the characters sit around and talk through what’s going on (or have Scotty walking/driving/doing something and trying to think things through), which quite naturally brings the story, pacing and narrative to a complete and utter screeching halt, there are a lot more of those things in the first five chapters (and the prologue) than there are in the entire rest of the manuscript.  SO much explaining.  A lot of trimming and revision; and I was absolutely correct that the opening scene of Chapter One had to be trashed and completely redone. But at the same time, I am feeling quite up to this task, and am kind of excited about it, to be honest.

I also had an epiphany about my reread of Pet Sematary today. I realized that the reason the book was so hard for me when I read it that first time when I was twenty three was because I didn’t really understand grief at the time; I was well acquainted with misery and despair and hopelessness at that age, but I didn’t even have a passing acquaintance with grief yet. At almost fifty-eight, my perspective is a lot different. Being confronted with such an incredibly powerful depiction of almost unknowable grief made me deeply uncomfortable, made me squirm. The Creed grief is so profound, so powerful, so overwhelming–what pain could be greater than the death of your child, particularly as toddler?–that I recoiled away from it, turned my back on it as if to say no, I don’t want to know this and will never know this. 

But that’s absurd, of course.

Rereading the book now, I can see that it’s actually a masterpiece, a tour-de-force. King makes us take a long, hard look at death itself, the greatest fear we all collectively share. Death, as he says in the pages of this exceptional book, is the one thing we never talk about, that we don’t learn how to react to, that we can’t learn how to react to, how to behave, what is the right thing to say to someone who is  grieving so deeply, so strongly, so powerfully? We shake our heads and click our tongues to each other and murmur sympathetic things that are just trite words in the face of the monumental grief. There are few books–at least that I’ve read–that deal so starkly with death and what it means, how we all feel about it, what we think about it, and how we deal with it.

The section of the book called “The Micmac Burial Ground” opens with one of the most astonishing emotional gut-punches I’ve ever read in a book; so horrific and shocking is the death of two-year-old Gage Creed that King foreshadowed it in the closing pages of the previous section, openly telling us that Gage is going to die in six weeks…but he doesn’t tell us how.

How Gage dies, how it happens, is so terrible that not knowing going into this section that Gage is going to die would make it too awful. I would have probably stopped reading the book thirty-five years ago had that been the case. That his entire family saw it happen, tried to stop it from happening, and all failed…my God in heaven. The guilt and the grief!

Crippling.

I mean, wow.

It’s now Friday morning, and I am up early to head over to the West Bank to my car dealer for some routine maintenance on the car. I slept pretty well last night, all things considered, and now am on the cusp of a three day weekend, during which I want to get a lot of writing and editing done; and possibly put the finishing touches on some other projects I am working on in the meantime. It would be lovely going into next week with all of these things completed; we shall see how it goes, shan’t we?

Heavy heaving sigh.

And on that note, I should get back to the spice mines.

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