Lady Jane

Ah, elusive sleep, how lovely thou art when you do finally bless me with your grace. Yes, sleep returned after a two-night absence and one Gregalicious at last got some rest last night. I didn’t want to get up this morning, to be honest, and probably could have stayed in bed for at least another hour or two. It feels a bit chilly in the kitchen this morning but the coffee is delicious and hot. Ah, fifty-one degrees. Well, that would do it. I have a lot of work to get done today and some errands to run, but right now I am going to enjoy my coffee as I gradually swim out of the misty fog that is my morning just-woke-up brain.

I was exhausted when I got home yesterday. Two consecutive nights of little to no sleep are not what my doctor (any doctor) ordered, and it had been awhile since i was that tired. (I get tired every afternoon, but that’s a function of having been awake so long already, methinks, and just normality when you’re at your office. Yesterday’s fatigue was different.) I collapsed into my easy chair and watched some history videos (the difference between Creole and Cajun–which I already knew but was curious to see if they got it right and if there was anything new I could glean, and there was not; a couple of videos about French history; a video about what happened to the minor kings of the German Federation when Prussia united them all into the empire of Germany; and of course, it’s always fun to watch the videos captured by the Tulane fans as they won the Cotton Bowl in the closing seconds of the game before Paul got home), thought about doing some reading or writing but my brain was just too tired to focus enough to accomplish much, and so thought some more about the work-in-progress. I need to get a lot of work on it done this weekend and the first two nights of next week, since I am going to New York on Wednesday and won’t be home until Sunday. I’ll have to try to get some work done while I am there, so I am hoping I won’t get struck by the insomnia monster while I am there. (It would be a first, for the record.) But there is nought to do but firmly press nose to grindstone and get motivated while staying motivated. I also need to pick out some books to read while traveling. I can probably finish A Walk on the Wild Side on the trip up; I just need to pick out one or two more to take along for the trip home.

The Lost Apartment is also a mess, so something must be done about that before I leave as well–I hate coming home to a messy house, and Paul doesn’t really make any mess downstairs, so anytime I come home to a mess and get annoyed I also have to take accountability for my own self because if it’s messy I didn’t clean. But there’s no college football this weekend–I am not going to stay up Monday night to see who wins because I can check the score when I get up Tuesday morning–so there are no distractions I can blame for not writing or reading or cleaning this weekend. I do have things to do besides that, of course; I need to make groceries for Paul and get the mail and maybe even clean out and wash the car (stop that crazy talk!)–did I ever tell you I found a marvelous do-it-yourself car wash finally on Louisiana Avenue on the other side of St. Charles? I need to make a point of washing the car every other week–so much grime gets on it just sitting on the street in front of the house, it’s unbelievable–and I also need to remember to get the oil changed before I leave for Alabama at the end of the month.

Sigh.

It never ends, does it? It’s always the minutiae of life that gets to you and gradually wears you down, those minor little tasks you have to do all the time that don’t seem like much but will eventually just grind you down into the dirt because you have no choice but to do them because otherwise they wouldn’t get done and life would be ever so much worse without getting that stuff done. But there’s naught to do but do them; I do always reserve the right to complain even when something is my fault.

It does look beautiful outside. The sun is shining and there are no clouds in our cornflower blue sky. Perhaps later on today I can take my phone with me and take a walk around the neighborhood. It’s been a hot minute and I always enjoy going for walks around the neighborhood, plus it helps me feel more connected to the city, something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. It’s silly for me to ever think that I don’t feel my usual connection to New Orleans; it’s always there, but it does change and evolve. As I said the other day, I’ve just grown so accustomed to life here that I don’t notice things as peculiar, unusual, or unique anymore; it just is New Orleans and normal now to me. I’ve finally gone completely native, and I can barely remember what it was like to live anywhere else in the country. Traveling has always felt like I was going to another country, ever since we moved here–and that’s really when the difference makes itself known. It’s a little jarring to feel like a foreign tourist when you go somewhere, but New Orleans is just so different from everywhere else in so many little ways that aren’t always apparent until you travel–like the Puritan liquor laws everywhere else. What about my freedom to drink, damn it?

Oh, and of course, tonight is Twelfth Night, so I should do a blatant self-promotional post for A Streetcar Named Murder, shouldn’t I?

And on that note I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader.

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

And here we are, on the final day of the year 2022. Happy New Year, I guess? It doesn’t feel like the year is turning, but everything has felt so totally out of whack since the 2020 Shutdown that it’s not a surprise, really. As I sit here bleary-eyed with my coffee trying to wake up for another thrilling day of writing and cleaning, it seems very weird to look back to a year ago at this time. I was on deadline then, too–and was way behind on that book, too (A Streetcar Named Murder, for the record), but other than that I don’t remember what my mood was like or what I was thinking about going into the new year. We were still in the midst of the pandemic (that hasn’t changed–what’s changed is it isn’t news anymore and everyone seems to be pretending it’s all over), and I know I wasn’t exactly going into 2022 thinking oh this is the year I’ll get the coronavirus! That did happen, and my ten-day experience with COVID-19 was bearable for the most part. I just had intense and severe exhaustion as well as the brain fog, which hasn’t entirely lifted. I still have no short term memory, and am struggling to remember things every day–which has made writing this book more difficult because I can’t remember small details and things that are kind of important. I also think being so scattered isn’t much help in that regard; I’ve never been able to handle getting a grip on things and have felt like I’ve been behind the eight-ball for the last three years, floundering and struggling to keep my head above water, and never confident that I had a handle on everything. It’s been unpleasant, really; I prefer to be better organized and to have things under some sort of manageable control, and this constant feeling that I am behind and will never catch up on everything has been overwhelming, depressing, and damaging.

I read a lot of great books this year–I was going to try to make a “favorite reads of the year” list, but as I went back through the blog for the last year looking at all the books I talked about on here, there’s no real way for me to quantify what were my avorite reads of the year. I managed to read both of Wanda M. Morris’ marvelous novels, All Her Little Secrets and Anywhere You Run; Marco Carocari’s marvelous Blackout; John Copenhaver’s The Savage Kind; Carol Goodman’s The Night Villa, The Lake of Dead Languages, and The Disinvited Guest; Ruth Ware’s The Death of Mrs. Westaway and The Woman in Cabin Ten; Raquel V. Reyes’ Mango, Mambo and Murder; Ellen Byron’s Bayou Book Thief; Rob Osler’s debut Devil’s Chew Toy; Mia P. Manansala’s Arsenic and Adobo; Kellye Garrett’s Like a Sister; Alex Segura Jr’s Secret Identity; Laurie R. King’s Back to the Garden; Tara Laskowski’s marvelous The Mother Next Door; James Kestrel’s Five Decembers (which would be a contender for favorite read of the year, if I did such things); and of course several Donna Andrews novels as well. I am forgetting some great reads I truly enjoyed this past year, I am sure–I will kick myself later for not remembering I Play One on TV by Alan Orloff, for one example–but it was a year of great reads for me. I know 2023 will also be a great year for reading.

I also watched a lot of great television this past year as well, and again, I won’t be remembering everything and will kick myself later. If nothing else, it was a year of some amazing queer representation on television; this was, after all, the year Netflix not only gave us the wonderful, amazing, adorable Heartstopper but the equally charming and adorable Smiley (which you should watch, absolutely). It was also the year where Elité continued, but the shine is starting to go off the show a bit. I was very vested in their Patrick/Ivan romance, which they ended in this last season with Manu Rios, who plays Patrick, leaving the show at the end of the season along with his two sisters (spoiler, sorry), which was dissatisfying. I am looking forward to seeing what else Manu Rios gets up to in the future…we also enjoyed 1899, Andor, Ted Lasso, Sex Lives of College Girls, Peacemaker, The Sandman, House of the Dragon, Ozark, and so many other shows I can’t possibly begin to remember them all this morning. But I have no problem saying that without question my favorite show of the year was Heartstopper. Even just looking at clips on Youtube, or those “Ten Cutest Moments on Heartstopper” videos, always makes me feel warm and fuzzy when I view them. The soundtrack for the show was also terrific, with some songs so firmly engrained in my head with scenes from the show (one in particular, Shura’s “What’s It Gonna Be” always makes me think of that scene where Charlie comes running after Nick in the rain to give him another kiss, which is what was playing in the background). Wednesday was another highlight, a surprising delight when I was prepared to have my hopes dashed, and The Serpent Queen was also a lot of fun. We also enjoyed The Bastard Son and the Devil Himself, but it was cancelled after its first season, which was disappointing.

Professionally, it was a pretty good year in which I had three book releases: #shedeservedit in January and A Streetcar Named Murder in December, with the anthology Land of 10000 Thrills, thrown in for good measure in the fall. I sold some short stories that haven’t come out yet, as well as some that did this last year: “The Rosary of Broken Promises,” “A Whisper from the Graveyard,””The Snow Globe,” and “This Thing of Darkness” all came out in anthologies this year, with “Solace in a Dying Hour” sold and probably coming out sometime in the spring. I also sold another story to another anthology that will probably come out in the new year as well, and I still have one out on submission. In what was probably the biggest surprise of the year, last year’s Bury Me in Shadows was nominated for not one, but TWO Anthony Awards (Best Paperback Original and Best Children’s/Young Adult) which was one of the biggest shocks of maybe not just the year, but definitely one of the highlights of my career thus far. I lost both to friends and enormously talented writers Jess Lourey and Alan Orloff respectively, which was kind of lovely. I had been nominated for Anthonys before (winning Best Anthology for Blood on the Bayou and “Cold Beer No Flies” was nominated for Best Short Story), but being nominated for one of my queer novels was such a thrill–and to have it nominated in two different categories was fucking lit, as the kids would say. The response to A Streetcar Named Murder was an incredibly pleasant surprise; people seemed to genuinely love the book, which was very exciting and cool.

I traveled quite a bit this year as well–going to Murder in the Magic City/Murder on the Menu, Left Coast Crime, the Edgars, Sleuthfest, and Bouchercon. I went to Kentucky twice to see my family, which further fueled my love of audiobooks for long drives–on both trips I listened to Ruth Ware on the way up and Carol Goodman on the way back–and also did some wonderful podcasts and panels on-line, which was nice. We didn’t go to any games this season in Baton Rouge, but in all honesty I don’t know if I can hang with a game day anymore–the drive there and back, the walk to and from the stadium, the game itself–I would probably need a week’s vacation afterwards!

College football was interesting this season, too. This season saw the reemergence of Tennessee, USC, and UCLA to some kind of relevance again; the slides of the programs at Texas A&M, Florida, Oklahoma, Auburn, and Texas continued; and LSU turned out to be the biggest surprise (for me) of the year. Going into the season I had hopes, as one always does, but after two years of consistent mediocrity (with some surprise wins both years) they weren’t very high. The opening loss to Florida State was a surprise and disappointment, but at least the Tigers came back and almost made it all the way to a win. The blowout loss to Tennessee at home was unpleasant, certainly, as was the loss at Texas A&M. But LSU beat Alabama this season! We also beat Mississippi, so LSU was 2-2 against Top Ten teams this season–and I would have thought it would be 0-4. And 9-4 is not a bad record for a transitional year, with a new coach rebuilding the program. And LSU beat Alabama. The Alabama game will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest Saturday night games in Tiger Stadium. It was incredibly exciting, and I still can’t quite wrap my mind around it or how it happened. It certainly shouldn’t have; LSU was simply not an elite-level team this past season, but what a job Brian Kelly did coaching in his first season in Baton Rouge. Did I mention that LSU beat Alabama this year? (And one really has to feel for Alabama, in a way; they lost two games by a total of four points on the last play of each game. Four. Points. That would probably be what I would call this season for Alabama: Four Points from Greatness. The LSU-Alabama game this year is definitely one of those that gets a nickname from the fan base, I am just not sure what it would be. The Double Earthquake Game? (The cheers when LSU scored in overtime and then made the two point conversion registered on the campus Richter scale) The Conversion Game? I don’t know what it will be named for all eternity, but it was an amazing game. I do think it also bodes well for the future for LSU. Will both LSU and Tennessee (which also beat Alabama for the first time in like fifteen years) be able to consistently compete with Alabama now? Has Georgia taken over as the SEC behemoth? Has the Alabama run ended? I don’t think so–they have an off year where they lose two or three games periodically (2010, 2019, 2022)–and they could bounce right back. next year and win it all again. You can never count them out, even in their off years.

As for the Saints, they swept Atlanta again this year, and that is enough for me.

I did write a lot this year, even though it didn’t seem like I actually did while the year was passing. I also worked on Chlorine and another project I am working on throughout the year, as well as the novellas, and of course, I was writing short stories and essays for much of the year. I also read a lot more New Orleans and Louisiana history, and I had tons of ideas for things to write all year long. I did make it to the gym on a fairly regular basis at the beginning of the year, but then it became more and more sporadic and after my COVID-19 experience, never again. I also injured my arm a few weeks ago–when I flex the bicep it feels like I have a Charley horse, so not good, but it doesn’t impact my day to day activities. I also had my colonoscopy at last this past year–the prep was horrific, and I am really dreading doing it again at sixty-five, should I make it that far.

Yesterday was a nice day. I was exhausted, and after my work-at-home duties were completed I did some chores–laundry, dishes–and I also spent some time both reading (A Walk on the Wild Side) and writing. I also watched the Clemson-Tennessee Orange Bowl last night before Paul got home from his dinner engagement and we watched a few more episodes of Sex Lives of College Girls. Today I am going to read a bit this morning with my coffee before getting cleaned up and diving headfirst back into the book. Paul has his trainer today and usually either goes to the gym to ride the bike or to his office to work for the rest of the afternoon, so I should be able to have some uninterrupted writing time, which will be lovely. And on that note I am heading into the spice mines. Have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve, Constant Reader, and I will check back in with you later.

Play with Fire

Well, I met quota again last night which was marvelous. It’s still a bit chilly this morning. By the weekend it should be back into the seventies (it was yesterday as I ran my errands after work; it’s sixty-one this morning but it does feel colder outside of my bed and blankets), as the Alabama and Kansas State fans start arriving for the Sugar Bowl. LSU is also playing on New Years’ Day in the Citrus Bowl against Purdue, which will probably be the only game I actually watch that day.

There’s been a conversation going on over at Book Twitter lately that doesn’t really impact me in any way, but it’s been kind of interesting to follow. The conversation has to do with concerns about what is and isn’t considered y/a fiction as well as what is, or should be, considered age-appropriate reading material for teenagers and pre-teens. It doesn’t impact me because no one considers me a young adult writer, for one thing; despite having written numerous books with younger and/or teenaged characters (Sorceress, Sleeping Angel, Sara, Lake Thirteen, Dark Tide, Bury Me in Shadows, #shedeservedit), most people think of me as a gay mystery writer. Everything published under my own name is a mystery novel of some sort, whether it’s one of the series books or one of the stand-alones. I’ve never really marketed myself as a writer of young adult fiction, really; I shy away from that, I think, because of The Virginia Incident and the subconscious fear that one day that controversy might resurrect itself (which is ludicrous, and I know that; it certainly would have by now and it hasn’t, which further proves my belief that The Incident had nothing to do with me or my writing or my career and everything to do with systemic homophobia and othering used for political gain). It just seems weird to me that in less than five years after that happened–when I was deemed a menace to America’s youth–I could publish books for teenagers without a single whiff of complaint or scandal or even the raise of a single eyebrow.

Interesting, isn’t it? Almost like the whole thing was just more smoke and mirrors whose sole intent was to rile the homophobic base.

I just love that my existence is considered by some as a constant and continued threat to children.

One of the things that has always mystified me over the years is what is and isn’t considered age-appropriate. Intellectually I was far more advanced that most of my classmates (my emotional and personal maturity being an entire other subject–I’d say I am still behind on that score) and I started reading early. The library and the Scholastic Book Fairs were my best friends as a child, and I read everything I could get my hands on. I loved history, from which grew an appreciation and love for historical fiction (which I really don’t read much of anymore, which is odd. I really want to read Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell books…) and of course, my grandmother got me interested in “scary” movies and mysteries.

You’d think I’d be a huge fan of historical mysteries, but I actually don’t read many of them. I did love Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series, and I’ve become a huge fan of Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series…I think exploring historical mysteries might be a project for 2023.

But the point was I was reading books far too advanced for most people my age when I was young. I freely will admit that in my first read of Gone with the Wind at age ten I didn’t know Rhett raped Scarlett the night of Ashley’s surprise birthday party–it wasn’t until a reread in my late teens where I thought oh, this isn’t right–let alone that she enjoyed being overpowered and forced. I also read The Godfather when I was ten, and there was no mistaking anything about Sonny Corleone and Lucy Mancini. He had a cock the size of a horse’s and her vagina was apparently the Lincoln Tunnel. (Although the she felt something burning pass between her thighs still mystifies me to this day.) I also read The Exorcist when I was ten and I was also very well aware of what was going on in the crucifix masturbation scene. As a kid, I was fascinated by these sex scenes (aka “the dirty parts”), and it wasn’t until I was older than I began to question the entire Sonny-Lucy thing (and why it was even in the book in the first place); and while the crucifix scene was gross, shocking and basically icky to me at ten–when I reread the book sometime in the past decade it seemed prurient, to be honest–used primarily for shock value and to get people to talk about it.

So, yes, I started reading books for adults when I was around ten. I also read Antonia Fraser’s Mary Queen of Scots and Robert K. Massie’s Nicholas and Alexandra that same year–I remember doing a book report on Mary Queen of Scots and my teacher not believing that I had read the thick volume; he started opening the book at random and asking me questions–which I was able to answer, so he grudgingly accepted the book report and gave me an A. (Teachers have doubted me all of my life; can’t imagine why I am insecure about my intelligence…)

Over the course of my teens I also read books by Harold Robbins, Sidney Sheldon, Jackie Collins, Jacqueline Susann and Gordon Merrick-every last one of them crammed to the gills with racy sex scenes. I was also reading Stephen King, Irving Wallace, Herman Wouk, Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Jean Plaidy, Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney and any number of authors who wrote for adult audiences not teens. Were there things in the books I didn’t understand? Sure there were. Were there things in those books that were probably inappropriate for teenagers? Undoubtedly. (I’ve also never forgotten the scene in Joyce Haber’s The Users where a Liza Minnelli-based character fucked herself with her own Oscar; some images are simply too vivid to forget methinks.)

This is one reason I shy away from calling some of my books with teenagers “young adult” novels. Megan Abbott’s Dare Me centered teenagers, but I would never consider Dare Me a young adult novel. I was thinking about this the other night while watching Sex Lives of College Girls (it’s hilarious, you really should be watching); can I authentically write about teenagers anymore? Have I ever been able to? I don’t speak their language anymore, and I haven’t been one in over forty years (!!!!); I don’t know the technology they use or their slang or what they watch or listen to. I don’t know what today’s teens think about virginity and sexuality these days; do the tired old tropes still exist? Does that whole “good girl/bad girl” dynamic still exist, or are today’s teenaged girls a bit more sophisticated than they were when I was in high school when it comes to sex and sexuality? (Contrasting two high school shows with queer content makes you wonder–there’s the jaded cynicism of the rich kids in Elite vs the wholesome purity and innocence and sweetness of Heartstopper, which also had me wondering–although I feel certain Heartstopper might be closer to reality than Elite…or that’s just my hope?) Of course I have other ideas for more books about young people–I have another in-progress one that’s been sitting around for a very long time that I need to repurpose–and I’d kind of like to write more at some point, but I don’t know. My suburban 70’s serial killer preying on teenaged boys book would be told from the perspective of a twelve year old, but it would definitely not be a young adult novel–but will probably be marketed and sold as one.

And on that note I am heading into the spice mines on my last day in the office for 2022. Check back in with you later, Constant Reader.

Route 66

Tuesday morning and back to the office. I made quota again yesterday but am still behind from missing on Friday or Saturday or whenever that was. It’s in the forties this morning–it feels chilly here in the apartment this morning, and it’s also dark outside. I’d forgotten over the three day weekend how much I hate getting up in the morning to darkness outside my windows. It really is oppressive having to wake up in the dark and get your day going while it’s still night outside.

We’ve been watching Sex Lives of College Girls and really enjoying it. It’s quite funny, occasionally sad, and very well done. I don’t even know why we started watching it–I’ve literally heard next to nothing about it, and had no idea it was a Mindy Kaling show until the credits–but it’s quite clever and enjoyable and funny. After years of seeing the male college experience, with its emphasis on drugs, alcohol, and sex, it’s fun to see it from the girls’ side of things–and a lot more interesting. It’s also laugh out loud funny at times, and at others, it’s rather poignant and sad. It focuses on four girls sharing a suite in the freshman dorms–one a rich society girl, one a scholarship student from a small town in Arizona, another a senator’s daughter and soccer athlete, and the final girl a sex-obsessed South Asian woman who wants to be a comedy writer–and watching their friendships and relationships grow organically is kind of nice. The rich girl is a deeply closeted lesbian who resists any push from sex/romance partners to come out–and those tired old excuses she trots are equally easily recognizable to anyone who’s ever been in the closet and thus living the double life. We have one more episode of season one left before we can move on to season 2–and the ongoing stories for each girl are kind of compelling and interesting to watch. It’s also fun watching the roommate bonding between them and their own friendships growing stronger over the course of the show. It’ll be even more fun seeing how it goes and grows.

It is hard to believe this is the last week of 2022, a time, one supposes, for casual and causal reflection on the past year as a new one is to be born. I do seem to recall the year as being a time of mostly being miserable and not enjoying myself much or being able to get much done, but once I start reflecting on everything that happened in the past year it was actually a good one overall; there were a lot of frustrations and miseries along the way, but somehow I managed to keep plugging along and keeping going. A lot of the misery was a feeling of disorientation, primarily driven by having to get up early several mornings per week–always a bad thing for me, it also shifts me into a misery-adjacent position–and never really feeling like I had a handle on things because there was always so much to do, which in its turn created anxiety and stress which then manifested as insomnia which then made me tired every day and often too tired to get much of anything done, which then added to the anxiety and stress which then made the insomnia more potent and so on and on it went, a vicious carousel where the brass ring was always just slightly out of reach for me. That’s kind of how everything has felt since the pandemic started back in March of 2020 (going on three years now)–I had just started adjusting to my work schedule in our new building when the bottom dropped out and I no longer felt like I had a handle on my life anymore. That is unsettling for me, being much more of a control freak than I ever thought I was; and one thing I would really prefer in 2023 is to not feel like the strands of my life are slipping uncontrollably through my hands–ad leaving rope burns.

Of course, as I am behind on my book and need to spend as much time as possible between now and this weekend finishing it, I may not have much time for careful and studied reflection on the new year and what I want from it as opposed to what I got from the previous year, or what I accomplished, or what I left unfinished. But from looking over my client schedule for the week, it looks pretty light; I think most of the doctors are out this week for the most part so no one will be added to the schedule, either. Next week we start seeing people every half hour, which is pre-pandemic level scheduling; it’ll take a while for that to start getting out of control and to the point where we actually have someone scheduled every half-hour, which we’ve not done since before the shutdown (it feels like that should become a thing, doesn’t it–Before The Shutdown, BTS for short). Which means my day-job will be busier and my every hour of my every work day up in the air. Woo-hoo! I love that for me (sarcasm font).

The book is coming along nicely, I suppose. It’s great to hit the word count every day (even though I missed a day and need to make it up at some point), and it’s nice to know that I can still sit down at the computer and bang out three thousand or so shitty words on a daily basis. I am always afraid that’s not going to happen someday when I sit down; it does sometimes, but it’s usually more from laziness of my own than anything else, really. But that doesn’t lessen the fear that the day will come when it won’t be my own laziness and desire to just sit in my chair watching whatever Youtube videos come up to watch after picking one I want to see. I also have to decide what I am going to read next, digging something out from the ever growing and teetering TBR Stack, which is about to grow again as I ordered books for my Christmas present to myself–more Ruth Ware, Carol Goodman, a few I saw recommended by other writers, Jami Attenberg’s writing memoir, and of course a Hollywood memoir of a bisexual actor (more research for Chlorine, of course). I am also finally reaching the end of my extremely long, over a thousand pages Robert Caro biography of Robert Moses, which means I’ll finally be ready to tackle another lengthy non-fiction book as well. It has taken me years to read the Moses biography, which is extremely well done (it IS Robert Caro, after all) and it’s also fascinating to see how ONE man reshaped the city of New York as well as the future of Long Island–and not necessarily for the betterment of either. I think I will probably move on to David McCullough’s history of the building of the Panama Canal, or his book on the Johnstown Flood (it’s much shorter).

I was also looking at all the blog entries I’ve started as essays about one thing or another over the past few years, and thinking one of my goals for 2023 is to finally get those entries finished and posted and out of the draft folder. Something else for the goal list to post on New Year’s Day, I suppose.

And on that note I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and I’ll check in with you again later.

You Make It Feel Like Christmas

Christmas Eve! It’s warmer today than yesterday by a full six whole degrees; it’s 32 degrees instead of 26, as it was yesterday. The The apartment is over all toasty and warm–but the kitchen and upstairs bathroom are not. They are a bearable degree of cold, but I do have the space heater going this morning in here as I type this and swill coffee and wake-up gradually. I slept magnificently last night, and feel very rested and relaxed this morning, which is quite marvelous. I hit my word count somehow yesterday–three thousand words–and hope to do the same today. Today has a higher goal–I’m feeling rather ambitious this morning–and Paul has his trainer this afternoon and is working on a grant proposal, so I should have the solitude I need to bang out the count I need to achieve today. I picked up the mail and ran some other errands yesterday–including taking Paul to Michaels on Claiborne to pick up a gift for me. You’d think by now I’d know he’s going to flout the “no gift” rule every year, because he has and yet every year I think he’s going to stick to it. I think it’s part of that failing memory thing I have going. Anyway, he had the front page of the New Orleans Times-Picayune/Advocate from the morning after the 2020 National Championship game framed and mounted; it’s a full page shot of Joe Burrow running downfield holding up both hands with his forefingers extended, with the headline PERFECT. It’s mounted on gold paper and the frame is purple, and I absolutely love it. Paul always won Christmas when we used to get plan on getting each other gifts, primarily because he pays attention to things I say and takes notes all year to plan for Christmas; I’ll never forget that marvelous year he got us tickets to see the Monte Carlo Ballet Company’s Romeo and Juliet, which I absolutely loved–all because I’d casually mentioned once that I loved ballet and wanted to write about it one day, despite knowing next to nothing about it. (Aside: I keep thinking I want to write a Sherlock Holmes story built around a Nijinsky performance in New Orleans; someday perhaps.)

We also watched, and greatly enjoyed, Glass Onion last night. I actually liked it better than Knives Out, in all honesty, and I love that this is turning into a film series. It reminds me so much of Agatha Christie at her best, and is there a better compliment to give a mystery film than a Christie comparison? I think not. I think Daniel Craig (whom I’ve loved since he emerged from the surf in that square cut swimsuit in Casino Royale, and quickly became one of my favorite James Bonds) is simply fantastic. The Southern accent grated a bit on me at first in Knives Out, but by the end of the movie it didn’t bother me anymore and it didn’t even make me recoil the first time I heard it last night. I think I’d like to write something along the lines of these films sometime–the big cast of suspects, the great detective unraveling the case–because I’ve always wanted to do an Agatha Christie style/classic vintage mystery type house party murder mystery. (Note to self: reread The Affair of the Blood-stained Egg Cosy)

But mother of God, it was cold yesterday when we were out in it. As I said to Paul–the entire world was out shopping yesterday because of course it was; we had to park a very long way from Michaels–“I can hang with this cold for a couple of days, but months of it would make me homicidal.” My grocery pick-up order ended up being canceled; they were unable to get it together for the time I’d selected, and the message was up to two hours minimum delay. At first I was a bit stunned, but then realized everyone and their mom is ordering groceries for pick-up today, and I bet the orders are a lot larger than usual. So I stopped by Rouses, they had a turkey breast in the freezer section, so I picked it up and carried it to the small order register, canceled my pick-up order (all I really needed with the turkey breast; everything else could wait) and then when I got home, put in another order for pick-up on Monday, since I have the day off.

Picking up the mail also ended up with a great gift to the Lost Apartment from the President: there was a stack of envelopes in the mailbox from the IRS for Paul, thirty in all. Turns out his student loans had all been forgiven, retroactively to 2017; the stack of envelopes were refund checks for every payment he’s made since then. So, yes, only more proof that our votes for President Biden and Democrats down the line was the right choices (and always have been for queer people). So keep your “how fucking dare you forgive student loan debt” shit to your fucking selves, you selfish assholes. This did, and will continue, to make a significant difference in our lives going forward; and can I just say, I can’t remember the last time any government policy had such an impact on us directly? Obviously, the Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell Supreme Court decisions had a macro impact on us, but this is an intimate micro effect that made us both very happy yesterday. And what lovely timing, too–right before Christmas. Let’s go, Brandon indeed.

I get a text from Entergy this morning warning of potential brownouts because of high demand for energy with the cold weather; I would imagine this is because the cold is effecting everywhere, so there’s nowhere Entergy can borrow power from if the supply runs low. That’s kind of scary, really, because people could literally freeze to death down here; imagine that! How weird would it be for someone to freeze to death down in southeastern Louisiana? It does make me a bit concerned about the homeless population here–we have a considerable one–so I hope they all found shelter and a place to stay warm.

And I think as soon as I finish this I am going to get the turkey started in the slow cooker, and curl up in my easy chair with my coffee, a blanket, and Dashing Through the Snowbirds by Donna Andrews. I think my new Christmas tradition every year will be just that; I’ll read Donna’s Christmas mystery for Christmas every year.

Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire

Winter is here, and not the usual New Orleans winter, either. The floor here in the Lost Apartment is very, very cold; and the kitchen of course feels colder than the living room (it used to be the back porch at one time before being enclosed into a kitchen/laundry room. I didn’t sleep very well on Wednesday night, and started flagging at the office yesterday in the late afternoon. The cold didn’t help–but at least it was still pleasant. I had forgotten a few things at Rouses on Wednesday night, and while I was considering not leaving the house today, I decided it was a better idea to order things to be picked up today rather than stop on my way home when I was already tired. Work on the book was a bit of a slog yesterday–which is not a good thing at all–but I got some of the work done, and hope to get more done today. It’s a holiday, so I don’t have to do any dayjob stuff, which is lovely–I also have Monday off, which is also lovely. It’s twenty-six degrees here right now (just checked) but the sun is out and it doesn’t look terribly windy or anything out there. I was terribly tired when I got home from work yesterday–as the day went on I flagged even more. When Paul got home we watched some more Three Pines. I am not really sure if I am sold on the show or not; it’s solidly done, the acting is good and the writing is okay, but there just seems to be something missing for me. I don’t know what it is, but it’s just not hitting me the way I think it should. And ordering the groceries for today was smart–turns out Paul needs to run an errand today anyway, so there I go–I was going to have to leave the house anyway so stopping on the way home wouldn’t have made any difference as to me not leaving the house today.

I slept marvelously last night, though. Scooter woke me up this morning at five thirty-ish, hungry–he doesn’t care about what day it is–but I went back to bed and was able to sleep nicely for another few hours, which was marvelous, really. I felt very rested this morning, and like I might be able to power through all the writing I need to do today. The groceries aren’t scheduled for pick-up until around one, so I figure I can get a lot done this morning while I swill my coffee. There’s a load of laundry in the dryer and a load in the dishwasher, so yay for that chore, and I usually launder the bed linens on Fridays, so I could get a jump start on that as well. Yay for ambition!

And ugh, just looking around the kitchen–yes, I should spend some time this morning cleaning up in here. Yikes. I’ve really become a slipshod housekeeper. Maybe in the spring I could take a week off from work and just work on projects around the house. Hmmm. That’s actually not a bad idea. I’m not going to be traveling much in the future–I was thinking about it yesterday, as reports of delays and cancelled flights kept popping up everywhere and friends who actually were traveling were posting complaints about delayed flights and lost luggage and delays and I was like, ugh, I’ve really begun to hate traveling. I like being there once I get there, but I hate the process. I traveled a lot this past year, I guess to make up for the pandemic years where I went nowhere other than Kentucky? But the whole airport/airplane/other passengers process, parking at the airport and getting a cab on arrival, etc…I am getting to the point where just thinking about it makes my blood pressure rise and my head hurt and my anxiety to climb. I am going to New York in a few weeks (note to self: book airport shuttle service for LaGuardia), and after that I am probably not going to travel again other than Bouchercon in the late summer/fall, in San Diego. I’ll probably also have to go to Kentucky at some point as well. Heavy heaving sigh.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am looking forward to these peaceful four days. It’s weird, isn’t it, how it simply being a holiday somehow makes a difference? I’m not precisely sure why that is, but somehow it has. I think it’s knowing that even if I wanted to go run an errand or something I wouldn’t be able to? I don’t know, maybe it’s one of the many quirks in my brain, but there you have it.

It’s funny, when I pulled up the draft for today’s post and saw the picture I’d selected already for it (I do that in advance) I realized it’s really a perfect illustration for my story “The Snow Globe.”

I mean, if you’ve read it you’d know what I mean. If you want to read it and buy the anthology it’s from, you can buy it here, and wouldn’t it make a great Twelfth Night gift for someone you love?

And as a little Christmas gift, here’s the story’s opening yet again.

Santa, Dylan thought, certainly has a great six-pack.

He smiled as he leaned against the bar, watching the so-called Santa with a slight smile. He definitely wasn’t your average department store Santa, that was for sure.

The guy’s body was thickly muscled and perfectly proportioned. His biceps and shoulders were thick, every muscle cord and fiber etched and carved beneath his smooth, tanned skin. The cleavage his big chest was deep, his nipples like purplish quarters. It didn’t seem possible for his waist to be so small, and the crevices between his abdominal muscles were deep enough for a finger to fit between up to the first knuckle. His legs were powerful and strong, ropy bulging veins pushing against the silky skin.

Like a traditional Santa, his face was hidden behind the obligatory long white wig and the thick white beard and mustache—but that was his only bow to tradition. Rather than a red suit with white trim and a big black belt, he simply wore a tiny bikini of crushed red velvet with glittery red sequins trimmed around the waist and legs with green faux fur.  Large brass rings exposing pale skin connected the front to the back. His red boots sparkled with red sequins and glitter, trimmed at the top with green velvet. Slung over his right shoulder was a red velvet bag, also trimmed with green faux fur. Every movement he made as he talked to a group of young twinks with poofy hair and obscenely slim hips caused muscles to bulge and flex somewhere.

Dylan knew he was staring but didn’t care.

The Christmas Waltz

The cold is coming!

New Orleans is going to have a hard freeze that lasts from this evening through Saturday night–which means I really need to make sure I don’t need to necessarily leave the house before Sunday, when the temperatures will be more normal for December in New Orleans. I’m just glad I am not flying anywhere this weekend–or driving. Yikes! It snowed the Christmas before Katrina–not really much of anything–which I’ve often pointed to as a sign that the horror was coming, but it’s snowed in New Orleans a couple of times since then without the city being destroyed the following year.

But it’s always in the back of our minds.

Thursday and my last day before the holiday weekend. I stopped and got the mail on the way home yesterday; I also made groceries. I also worked on the book some more, so I am hopeful that I can get some serious work done over the holidays. I am only going to take Christmas day off from writing–it’s the holiday after all, and I can swing a day to rest and do nothing and read Dashing Through the Snowbirds; it’ll be lovely reading over my morning coffee, which is really my favorite thing to do. Maybe in 2023 that can be my Sunday morning routine: coffee and a good book. Sounds marvelous, does it not?

Hilariously, I’ve been trying to remember my year of 2022 in an attempt to do some kind of end of year summary, or pick my favorite books and television programs and movies of the year, and to talk about highlights and so forth; but I’ve been wracking my brain to no avail. I couldn’t even remember when precisely I’d gone up north to visit my family in the spring, or if I didn’t go (I did, in going through the books I reviewed/discussed on here I came across the two audiobooks I listened to on my last trip, and those entries were in May; so yes, indeed I’d gone up there in the spring. I would have testified under oath not only that I didn’t go up in the spring but would have probably scoffed at the very idea). So, making a favorites of the year list would either be most likely incomplete or lacking validity in that I couldn’t remember everything. I also generally don’t like making favorites lists in the first place; how does one quantify what made me like one book more than another?

I’ve also spent some time this past year–and in the more recent weeks–thinking about my writing and my career and where to go with it next. I’ve been following a rather haphazard path since Hurricane Katrina; the hurricane showed me the futility of making plans and schedules and so forth for the distant future when nature can simply shred your plans in a matter of hours, leaving your life and your emotions in utter tatters. I know I want to make 2023 the Year of Completion; I’d love to get a lot of these unfinished projects around here done and out of the way. I do want to make a serious attempt at landing an agent in 2023; I say that every year but I’ve never really tried, so I think I am going to put myself out there in the new year and see what happens. I don’t think getting an agent will solve all of my career problems, or necessarily push me to resolve them myself–but it’s a step in the right direction, and I do think some of my in-progress works could do quite well for a publisher. Who knows? But at least having someone in my corner capable of giving me good advice–whether I take it or not is a different story, I am nothing if not headstrong–can’t really hurt going forward, can it? I have done pretty well for myself on my own, but going it alone my entire career was never part of the plan.

Ah well. Man plans, the gods laugh.

But yes, there are a lot of unfinished projects around the Lost Apartment, writing-wise. I need to get these first two finished as soon as possible, and then I am going to pick an unfinished project to work on every month. It’s an ambitious writing goal, to be sure, but I think if I focus–always an issue–I can make a lot of headway on a project. If it’s not finished at the end of the month, it goes back into the drawer and the next month will be spent working on the project scheduled for that month, and so on. Even as I typed that out I can foresee issues with it; what if I am on a roll at the end of the month? And is it that easy for me to switch from one voice and style to another? No, not really; it generally takes me a quick minute or so to get back in sync with the voice and the characters and the plot, but it does happen–writing my way through it always seems to help.

I did manage to pay all the bills and yes, I was correct–there was indeed a ridiculous amount of cash left over. A lot of bills, however, are coming due with that next paycheck, so I will have to conserve my cash to make sure I can make it through that rough almost-everything-comes-due-between-the-fifth-and-the-fifteenth period.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. The traffic has been much lighter on the way to work this week–I imagine the same will hold true next week as well–and so I am not nearly as aggravated and stressed when I get to the office, which has been kind of nice. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and tomorrow I will check in with you about surviving the freeze. AIEEEE!!!!

Deck the Halls

Wednesday Pay the Bills Day and also the last one before Christmas; the last one of the old year, in fact. I don’t get paid again until the new year, which is kind of final, isn’t it? The sands in the 2022 hourglass are running out even as I type these words; its chilly again this morning in the Lost Apartment and the week-long slide into the holiday weekend is almost completed. I just have to go into the office today and tomorrow and then a glorious four-day weekend follows, which will be quite marvelous and lovely. I am a bit more sluggish this morning than I have been recently when I arise, but who knows? It might be the weather–it’s below fifty again this morning–it could be any number of things. Hopefully the coffee will clear my head and help me get ready for the day.

One can hope, at any rate.

Well, I did pay the bills and have a surprising amount of cash left on hand; the way paychecks are falling this December/January means I get paid again the first week of January so all those early month bills will be due for that paycheck rather than this one. Obviously, I am going to hoard this surprising windfall (due to biweekly paychecks) to use against the next set of bills. I’m also expecting to get paid for some other work I’ve done between now and the next paycheck–and this is the end of a royalty period, so those will be just over the horizon as well, which is absolutely lovely. It’ll be nice going into 2023 not having financial concerns in the back of my mind. (I ordered myself some presents this morning after paying the bills, too.)

I did manage some work on the book last night, not nearly enough as per usual, but progress is being made. I remain hopeful that I can get so much done this four-day weekend that is looming that it should get me caught up on everything. I also have a short story that is due relatively soon, and another one I am supposed to be writing–I’ll have to look for the deadline in my saved emails–so I can get a better sense of where I am with everything I have to do. I also started writing another blatant self-promotional post for A Streetcar Named Murder, which I should be doing a lot more of, frankly. I did a load of laundry last night, put away a load of dishes, and soaked another sinkload overnight, so I can load the dishwasher when I get home tonight. I think there’s another load of laundry to do, if I am not mistaken. This cold weather certainly has been increasing the laundry–extra clothes being worn to help keep warm, I guess. Friday I’ll get up early, have a cappuccino as a treat, and then start working. I’ll pick up the mail that day and probably swing by Fresh Market to pick up incidentals, too; some other things I’ll need over the weekend. I think I will make pulled turkey on Christmas; I am planning on taking that day off from working and worrying about getting things done and/or cleaning, and I will probably go ahead and make shrimp Creole one other day of the weekend, probably Friday.

The great refrigerator shopping is going to go on hold until after the new year, methinks.

Sorry to be so brief today, but like I said, the coffee took a while to clear the muddle in my head and now it’s time to head into the spice mines already. Stay warm wherever you are, Constant Reader, and I’ll check in with you again tomorrow morning.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

I’ve actually never watched the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer television special–when I was a kid I hated that kind of animation, so I was uninterested in any animated special that used that kind and never watched–but it’s so ubiquitous in our culture that I know enough about it to continue being uninterested in watching it. So, no, young Greg was never a big fan of Rankin-Bass shows. Sue me. And I’ve heard enough about them that it’s like I watched them loyally and religiously every year. A Charlie Brown Christmas always used to be my favorite that I watched every year–maybe I should watch it again this year on Christmas Eve, for old times’ sake and auld lang syne and all that kind of stuff.

It’s not as cold this morning as it was yesterday, but it’s nice to be inside a nice warm house. I slept well again last night, which was lovely and nice, and I feel relatively well rested this morning. I worked on the book quite a bit yesterday, which felt great, and I ran some errands on my way home. It started raining when I left the office yesterday and was terribly windy; the wind was that biting damp cold that’s just miserable. WE also had a thunderstorm last night that Paul had to walk home in, poor darling, sweeping into the Lost Apartment with his umbrella and the winds like an orphan of the storm. Once he was home we finished off Wednesday, which was delightful and we greatly enjoyed. The entire season was actually a mystery, which I wasn’t expecting and was a clever way to do the show, actually. I hope it’s renewed.

Because it was raining and cold, I did think to check the mailbox here at the house–which I never do, but when I got home I remembered our neighbor in the front was out of town so I needed to bring his mail in so it wouldn’t get wet–which turned out to be a good thing; I’d gotten one of those notorious camera tickets, which ironically I had just been talking about recently with a friend, and I said “I haven’t gotten one in quite some time”–well, I guess I spoke it into being and it manifested. Sigh. So I had to pay that, of course–I am a good citizen, after all–but I hate that they send those things to my home address and not my mailing address; I never think to look in the mailbox here precisely because we have a mailing service. I never get mail here at the apartment–except from the Department of Motor Vehicles or from the state.

But Thursday night is when we’re supposed to have the big temperature drop of thirty to forty degrees. Much as I hate the thought, I could get up Friday morning, Christmas Eve Eve, and go make groceries rather than trying to do it on the way home Friday, but I am leaning toward the old “it’s smarter to get it over with” mentality. I guess it will also depend on how tired I am when I get off work that day. I think when I get home tonight, after I work on the book for awhile I am going to curl up in my chair and read for a while. I’ve not been reading a lot lately because my mind hasn’t been there, really, but I had wanted to get this finished so I could read Donna Andrews’ Christmas mystery for the year on the actual holiday. Wouldn’t that be a great way to spend actual Christmas? Bundled up with my blanket in my easy chair with my coffee and a Donna Andrews mystery? I don’t think there would be any better way to spend the day, actually.

I am really looking forward to this weekend, if for no other reason than being able to have four straight days off from work. Sure, I usually don’t go in on Fridays and work remotely, but I don’t even have to do that this weekend!

And on that totally boring note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Tuesday, and I’ll be here again tomorrow morning.

Underneath the Tree

Ah, Sunday. Sundae would be better, of course–who doesn’t love a sundae?

It’s below fifty this morning in New Orleans, so the predictions of colder weather coming our way in the forecast were clearly correct. It’s so nice having a heater that actually works. We didn’t turn it on upstairs, so when I got out of bed I felt a bit cold, but then I came downstairs where it is nice and comfortable. Maybe I can handle the cold weather with a working heater in the house. Who knew?

I worked a lot on the book yesterday and made a lot of progress with chores and things around the house. I’m hoping to get a big push today as well, and the only other thing I have to really do is go make groceries–I am debating as to whether or not that can wait until tomorrow on the way home from work but I am leaning towards going today and getting it over with. I also did some more refrigerator research–trying to find what I want in the price range we want that will also fit into the refrigerator space in the kitchen is proving to be more of a challenge than one would have expected. I think I found one that will barely fit into the space–it’s a matter of fractions of an inch–but we are also wondering if we can simply have the cabinet above the refrigerator removed to allow more room. Decisions, decisions–but there’s no rush, I suppose, other than my obsession now that we’ve decided to make the plunge and get a new one.

We started watching Smiley on Netflix last night, another Spanish language show with queer characters–it’s kind of a romantic comedy; there’s a gay couple, a lesbian couple, and a straight couple, all loosely connected (the pretty young gay bartender works with one of the lesbian couple at her bar; the older gay guy works with the straight guy at an architectural firm) and kind of charming. The premise is that both Alex (the bartender) and Bruno are single and about ready to give up on romance and love. Alex has a string of one night stands with guys who ghost him; Bruno has no luck with dating apps–getting some really nasty responses when he reaches out. For some reason, Alex decides to use the bar phone to call his last ghosting date, all furious and hurt and angry–but misdials and leaves the message on Bruno’s phone instead. Bruno finally decides to call back–just to let Alex know the person he meant the message for never got it–and they start talking and decide to meet. It doesn’t go well, and they end up arguing–and end up back at Alex’s having the best sex either of them have ever had, but misunderstandings continue to get in the way. The lesbians are also at a crossroads in their relationship, and decide to work through the issues rather than breaking up, and the straight couple is also having some trouble. It’s cute, it’s funny, and the actors are all pretty appealing–and of course, it’s nice seeing an “opposites-attract” gay rom-com happening on my television screen. And the young man who plays Alex is really pretty. He was also in Merli, another Spanish show we started watching but gave up on; his name is Carlos Cuevas. The guy who plays Bruno is also far too handsome to be the troll we’re supposed to believe these gay boys think he is–he’s handsome, he’s successful, he’s intelligent–Miki Esparbé; or maybe it’s because he’s older, I don’t know. But I’m interested to see how this plays out.

Christmas is next weekend, which doesn’t seem quite real to me yet. Part of this is because I am so focused on trying to get the book finished as well as trying to stay on top of everything else I am doing that days seems to slip through my fingers and the next thing you know, Christmas is next weekend. This whole year has been like this, frankly–the last few, if I am being completely honest, and in that same spirit, really everything from March 2020 on has been a confusing blur and I don’t remember when or where things happened. It’s also hard for me to grasp that 2010 was almost thirteen years ago, and trying to remember that entire decade isn’t easy. I guess this is what happens when you get older? Ah, well, it’s something I may never get used to but simply have to accept as reality, you know?

This week at work should also be interesting–the week before Christmas, and the week between Christmas and New Year’s is always a weird time around the office. We never have a lot of appointments, and we also have a lot of no-shows, which can be a pain. Paul and I haven’t watched anything even remotely Christmassy; although the Ted Lasso Christmas Special might be a fun thing to revisit.

It’s also weird as the year comes to a close as I start reflecting back on the year, and what is different going into this new year as opposed to going into the last new year. The fact that I have trouble remembering what happened throughout the year is also not any help to me at all, frankly, and neither is the fact that I always have to stop and think was that 2020 or 2021? There are also a lot of draft posts accumulated here; things I wanted to write about when I was more awake and not caffeine-deprived, so that I didn’t misspeak or say something that out of proper context could be problematic. I never talked about my reread of Interview with the Vampire or my thoughts about the new show, which I greatly enjoyed and thought was very well done, for example. (And Mayfair Witches will be debuting in the new year, which I am really looking forward to watching.)

The blog has always been my way of waking up and warming up my brain and my writing muscles, which is why it is always so scattershot and all over the place. I’m not exactly sure when it went from a daily writing exercise to a “daily writing exercise while I wake up in the morning”, but that happened at some point in the last eighteen years; my livejournal began in December of 2004, and I’ve been plugging away either there or here ever since. How much has changed since then? It snowed that December, I remember that, and we were living in the carriage house with Skittle. I know we’d put up a tree, and we were kind of looking forward to 2005 being an easier year after everything that happened in 2004. Little did I realize the evangelical Christians of Virginia were waiting in the wings, as well as a little hurricane that would be named Katrina. I had only published four novels, and only two short stories that weren’t erotica. (I just remembered that when we lived in the carriage house I had to do the laundry at a laundromat–I don’t miss that at all, even if it did get it all over with much more quickly than here at home.)

But the blog was also supposed to be a place where I could write personal essays about subjects that matter a lot to me; things I want to write about but no one will pay me to write about, you know? I started getting more cautious about writing about touchy subjects around 2008, when I went full-time at NO/AIDS (I no longer work for NO/AIDS either; as much as I appreciate the way HIV/AIDS treatment and so forth has changed, I do kind of miss the days when we were a struggling queer health non-profit), despite being reassured by NO/AIDS management that I didn’t need to worry about anything I did or said as long as I wasn’t on the clock–I still didn’t want to do or say anything here that some hater could latch onto and make trouble for the agency with. So, I started censoring myself a little bit, and the more I became involved with other non-profit volunteer work the less I felt comfortable writing about sensitive or touchy subjects, especially as the country became more and more polarized. I’m very careful never to talk about my volunteer work or my day job on here as anything other than my volunteer work or my day job. I’ve compartmentalized my life–the way I always have, back to when I was closeted to one large segment of my life and not to a much smaller part–so much so, in fact, that I’m not certain that I can stop doing it. I think one of my goals for 2023 will be to not compartmentalize as much, and to maybe spend more time finishing those personal essays that I’ve started here and never finished.

But of course, there’s also a time issue. Isn’t there always?

And on that note I am going to head into the spice mines and try to get going on everything I need to get done today. Have a lovely and comfortable Sunday wherever you are, Constant Reader. I will chat with you again soon, promise.