Biggest Part of Me

WHO DAT! GEAUX SAINTS!

The temperature took a dramatic nosedive last night. It’s about forty degrees and gray in New Orleans this morning…but the city is full of nervous energy. The NFC Championship game is today, with our Saints taking on the Los Angeles Rams for a chance to go to the Super Bowl.

WHO DAT!

I slept well last night, which was absolutely lovely. I also allowed myself to go back to sleep after I woke up at just before seven; the bed felt comfortable and warm, and I managed to fall back to sleep for a bit before I finally got up.

I am glad I took the time to reread Pet Sematary, a book of Stephen King’s I didn’t care for on the first read, and had never reread. I understand the book a lot better, as I said, as a fifty-eight year old than I did when I was twenty-two. Mortality and death are difficult things to deal with, particularly when you’re younger; despite reading a lot of crime novels and horror I was clearly not emotionally equipped at that age to deal with these kinds of questions; this was one of those books where, almost every step along the way, I was pleading with Louis, the main character, don’t do this don’t do this are you crazy don’t do this you know this won’t end well. And Louis continued making those bad, wrong decisions…the book is an epic masterpiece, almost a Greek tragedy, about hubris, life, death, and loss. Incredibly well-constructed, and the characters are so perfectly delineated with so many little truths imbedded in them that you can’t help but care about them and what happens to them.

Now I’m wondering if I should reread other Kings I didn’t like on first read, like The Tommyknockers and Dreamcatcher. I still have others of his I haven’t read yet, like The Outsider, 11/22/63, Bronco Billy, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Black House, and Doctor Sleep, so maybe I should just go on and finish reading the other Kings I have on hand.

But next up for my reading is something for The Diversity Project–a queer y/a by Caleb Roehrig–and after that, I think I’m going to move on to either Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress or Kellye Garrett’s Hollywood Homicide or something by Chester Himes. I am also moderating a panel at the Tennessee Williams Festival and so will have some reading homework for that as well.

Before the game today I am going to do some straightening up around here and I am going to try to do some writing–put this nervous energy to good use. And of course, tomorrow I have the holiday off (yay for three day weekends!) and am hoping I’ll be able to get a lot of writing done then as well.

One can hope, at any rate.

We also started watching a new show last night on Netflix, Sex Education, which is actually quite charming. I think it’s a British show, and Gillian Anderson plays the main character’s mother, a sex and relationship therapist, which is rather challenging for her son, a sixteen year old virgin with his own sexual issues. But he makes a new friend, Maeve, the class bad girl from the wrong side of the tracks, and they start a business–where he gives relationship and sex advice to other students with issues. The relationships between the characters are refreshingly real and honest, the show also dabbles a bit in class and gender issues, and over all, it’s quite charming and funny. I do recommend it–we watched almost all of it last night, and will probably polish off the final two episodes tonight after the game.

And now back to the spice mines.

GEAUX SAINTS!

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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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Shining Star

Well, good morning, Thursday, how do you do? I’m a bit giddy, as I always am after working thirty-two hours in three days. I am in the home stretch of the week with my short days, and a three day weekend! Huzzah! Huzzah!

I can’t wait to sleep in. I also love days when I don’t have to go outside at all, other than perhaps walking to the gym or Walgreens or taking out the garbage. And as the Scotty work is going so well–I have only chapters one through five left to go over again, and then I can start inputting the changes and making the necessary corrections, and I need to finish rewriting the opening and I need to write the afterward–it also serves as a boon to my mood. I am really itching to be done with this, and I am so glad I took my time with this manuscript. I think it’s going to be one of the better Scottys, if I pull off everything I’m trying to do, and I have to say, it’s lovely to feel ambitious with a Scotty book. I think that was why the Chanse series felt like it was running down to me; I didn’t really feel particularly ambitious for the series and the character anymore. It’s been nice writing short stories about Chanse; “My Brother’s Keeper” in Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories is my first Chanse short story and it’s also my first-ever private eye short story. I’m feeling kind of excited about writing private eye stories–I wrote one for another anthology (not a Chanse, alas) and I really want to get back to the other Chanse story I started, “Once a Tiger.” I never thought I’d be able to write private eye stories, and now I feel confident enough to try writing them. I am feeling ambitious with my short story writing, and that’s also a really good feeling. I think I am getting better at it, and am starting to understand them better, if that makes any sense. I also spent some time over the last few days rereading some of my stories critically–“The Problem with Autofill” and “The Snow Globe”–and I think I know how to fix them. I am going to do the same with “Moves in the Field” and “Burning Crosses” over the next couple of days.

I’ve reached the point in my reread of Pet Sematary where the book starts to take off with its story; Louis is home alone at Thanksgiving while the family visits Rachel’s wealthy parents in Chicago (some back story of the bad blood between Louis and her parents is also established here), and of course, Ellie’s beloved cat Church is killed by a passing car on the road. Naturally, Louis doesn’t know how he’s going to deal with both Rachel (who has a very well-established death phobia) and his daughter, who is sure to be devastated and heartbroken. Father figure from across the road Jud, however, comes to his rescue, and later that evening, takes Louis and Church beyond the deadfall (which the ghost of Victor Pascow already warned him against crossing) and the pet sematary and into the woods and the swamp beyond, to the Micmac burying ground…and of course, Church comes back. Different, but back.

As I read this section of the book (of course, Ellie comes home and knows Church is different–so different she really doesn’t want anything to do with him; echoing Jud’s comment “sometimes dead is better”) I began to remember some of the issues I had with the book on first read. Namely, almost every step of the way the book and story has the problem that is probably best encapsulated as why would you do this? Like in horror movies, the group being hunted by the killer always splits up, or the girls always wear heels before running in the forest, etc. Louis is incredibly passive when it comes to the Micmac burying ground visit with the cat’s corpse; never once does he ever stop to question what he’s doing or to ask Jud why they are going so deep in the forest, or why he isn’t simply burying the cat in the regular pet cemetery. And when Church comes back…I don’t know; he seems to take the resurrection of the cat much easier than you’d think a doctor would. And of course when he asks Jud, after Church returns, if anyone’s ever buried a human up there…well, you just know at that point that someone is inevitably going to be buried up there; it’s simply a matter of who, and what’s going to happen when that person returns. I know if, for example, my own cat returned from the dead I’d freak out a whole lot more than he did.

But I am enjoying the book a lot more this time around; it reads very quickly and easily, and the Creed family are immensely likable.

I didn’t watch another episode of Titans last night, instead getting sucked into the Australian Open, which will undoubtedly happen more and more as the tournament goes on. (But I am looking forward to watching one when I get home; it’s an early day for me and I do have some cleaning to do, but I am definitely penciling in both more reading time and time to watch another episode.)

Tomorrow morning i have to get up early to take my car in for routine servicing, and then in to work. It’s also another early day for me–only four hours–and hopefully tomorrow evening when I get home I can finish the cleaning for the weekend so I can work on writing and editing all weekend as well as finishing my reread of Pet Sematary. My next read is going to be a Diversity Project read; I’m going to read my library book, Caleb Roerig’s Last Seen Leaving,  a queer y/a title, and after that, probably something by an author of color. I’m also going to work on rereading Stephen King novels this year, methinks–that’s a lot of reading projects, isn’t it–and I also have some Stephen Kings on hand that I’ve not read…which is something I intend to take care of this year as well.

And on that note, I am heading back into the spice mines for the rest of the morning. Have a lovely Thursday, Constant Reader.

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Upside Down

Tuesday morning, and the week is progressing relatively nicely.

I read those five chapters I’d been putting off yesterday–and there are sloppy messes–but that’s a hurdle cleared. Now on to chapters 10-14. I also started rewriting the beginning of the book, because I was never really happy with the beginning of the book and Sunday night, as I mentioned the other day, I finally thought of the perfect way to open it. Took me awhile, but I am finally there.

One nice thing about this manuscript–as it sits now, it’s over a hundred thousand words. I could, in theory, cut at least twenty thousand and still have a longer book than Garden District Gothic. I’m not quite as hung up on the length of the book as I once was; and who knows? Maybe once I start paring it down and making the sentences and paragraphs flow better, and work out the kinks in the plot and tie everything up and close the gaping holes you could drive a semi-tractor-trailer through, it might even end up that long again.

The great thing about writing is you just never know how it’s all going to turn out.

I am getting further into Pet Sematary, and I’d completely forgotten about Victor Pascow, the university student/jogger who is hit by a car and dies in the student medical center in front of Louis–and before he dies, when they are alone, warns him about going to the pet cemetery, and then his ghost appears to him again that night, and walks him out there to warn him again. It’s a terrific scene, scary and creepy yet not totally terrifying; tightly written and so suspenseful you can’t look away. The foreshadowing is strong, of course; the title of the book, the problems his wife has with death, etc. and the nearby availability of said pet cemetery makes it fairly obvious some bad things are going to have to be faced, and Louis might be making some very wrong decisions when the time comes. I mean, it is a Stephen King novel, after all. I’m enjoying the book ever so much more this time around. I don’t remember if I enjoyed reading it the first time–the actual reading of it. I just remember being so uncomfortable and disturbed by the subject matter that I was never driven to read it again; which makes me wonder if the subject of death was too much for me in my early twenties? Perhaps.

I also watched another episode of Titans last night. It’s starting to pick up steam; I also realized last night that building a television show around a team of heroes makes getting started difficult, as you have to introduce most of the characters as well as get a bit of their back story. Episode Two brought in Hawk and Dove, two lesser known DC Universe heroes I’ve alway liked who never had the marquee appeal of say Superman or Wonder Woman, which is a shame. I also noted last night while watching that all the Titans introduced thus far (with the exception of Starfire) have bird names: Robin, Raven, Hawk and Dove. The actors playing Dick Grayson and Hawk are very attractive; and of course the women are beautiful. I’m looking forward to watching another episode tonight when I get home from work.

Today is the second of my two long days of work; I slept well last night and don’t feel tired this morning. Tomorrow I’ll get to sleep a little later, which will be lovely. It’s always lovely once I get through Monday and Tuesday each week.

And on that note back to the spice mines

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Still

It’s dark outside.

I slept really well last night–even woke up before the alarm this morning–and feel rested, despite the early hour. Yesterday was a kind of lovely day, despite the incredible tension of the Saints’ win over the Eagles 20-14. I managed to get a lot cleaned and organized, and while those five chapters of Scotty are still waiting to be looked over–I did realize how to revise and redo the opening of the book last night. So, that’s progress of a sort; today I am going to try to organize my notes on the book as well as read those five chapters so I can move on to the next five. This coming weekend I am planning on not doing anything other than the usual errands as well as watch the Saints game on Sunday; I may have to take my car into the dealership to have the oil changed and the tires rotated–I am going to try to do that either on Friday or, if need be, on Saturday. But if I go to the West Bank on Saturday, I can also include my other errands that day…and if I go to work early on Friday I can make the Costco run after I get off work, so there’s that as well.

And this weekend is when I am going to start back at the gym, methinks.

Always good to have a plan.

And of course, no sooner do I make plans than I have to change them. I need to take my car in for an oil change and tire rotation; so of course there’s nothing at the dealership on Saturday. So I had to make the appointment for Friday morning, which means going to the West Bank Saturday morning and negates the possibility of an after-work Costco trip Friday–which means I’ll just have to go on Saturday morning, which means if I get the groceries I need on the West Bank after my car is finished, I can be done with it. But I think taking care of the car on Friday morning before work makes the most sense on every level…particularly since one of my tires seems to be losing air with a higher degree of frequency than I would like.

See how that works? The best laid plans, and all of that.

But today seems to be going well; as long as I stay motivated and focused there’s no doubt I can get everything I need to get done, done.

The Saints game yesterday was perhaps a little more exciting and stressful than I would have liked, but they did prevail, and now the Rams are coming to town next Sunday. Should be a great game–it certainly was the last time the Rams came to town–and so should the Kansas City-New England game be a good one. It would be very exciting to go to the Super Bowl again; although nothing will ever be better than that first experience. (I went back and reread my blog entries around the Saints winning the Super Bowl and those memories are wonderful ones I will always cherish–and I always forget I wrote Who Dat Whodunnit partly to make sure it was recorded.)

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines with me. Have a lovely Monday, Constant Reader!

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Please Don’t Go

GEAUX SAINTS!

Later this afternoon the Saints play the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles in a play-off game in the Superdome. It’s going to be loud in there, and it’s going to be extremely tense here in the Lost Apartment. I may keep Pet Sematary in my lap so I can distract myself from the nail-biting tension of watching the Saints play.

Yesterday wound up being my day off of the weekend; I didn’t write anything or edit anything, so I am going to have to do that this morning before the game. It’s fine; the game is later today so I should be able to get all the things done this morning/early afternoon that I need to get done. I managed to run the errands yesterday, which was incredibly lovely to get out of the way, and so now today I don’t have to leave the house. Depending on how much I get done this morning, I might actually go to the gym to do some stretching and cardio before the game starts; we’ll see how I feel. I am very happy about the recent weight loss, and am hopeful that will become the stepping stone to a return to being fit that I had hoped to make the case last year…although I am very well aware of the fact that my body dysmorphia will kick in and I’ll never think I’m lean enough or in good enough shape.

Heavy heaving sigh.

So, we went to see The Favourite yesterday, and I really enjoyed it. Visually it was quite stunning; although the wigs and powder of that period really leave something to be desired. It was really an enjoyable film; I never felt like it was going on too long, and those performances! I’ve been a fan of Olivia Colman since the first time I became aware of her–I think in The Night Manager, and then again in Broadchurch–and as Queen Anne she is simply phenomenal. Her performance is so strong it could easily overshadow those of her two co-stars, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, but it doesn’t; they are equally strong performances. I’ve always liked Emma Stone, and was really surprised by how strong her performance is in this film. The film is by turn funny and poignant; amusing and sad. It’s hard not to pity Queen Anne–those seventeen pregnancies!–and there are some anachronisms and historical inaccuracies in the movie, as there always are (one really can’t enjoy these films if one allows one’s self to be irritated or annoyed by those; I’ve managed to put those aside as these films are truly fictions based on actual events), but over all, I truly enjoyed it.

We also finished watching Homecoming last night; it’s a good show, and Julia Roberts is really terrific in it–and I am not a big fan of la Roberts. The final episode was kind of disappointing; we shouldn’t have put off watching it for so long. But there really wasn’t a good way that I can think of to end the show, but over all I give it high marks and would recommend it. I also started watching Titans on DC Universe after Paul went to bed (we also started watching season two of Futureman on Hulu; it doesn’t appear to be as good or as entertaining as the first; it also doesn’t help that I really don’t remember much of what happened in season one), and it’s premiere episode was a good one; the show is off to a good start. The young actor playing Dick Grayson is very attractive, and quite good in the role; more as I watch this first season play out.

So, I am going to spend the rest of this morning cleaning out my inbox, straightening up the kitchen a bit, and reading those fucking five chapters of Scotty I’ve been putting off all week. (I may even do the next five; depends on motivation and how quickly it goes.) I think Swedish meatballs are in the offing for dinner tonight; and I may even make teriyaki meatballs over night in the slow cooker.

And so, dear Constant Reader, I am about to put on my mining helmet and head back into the spice mines. Do wish me luck, won’t you?

Have a lovely Sunday.

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