I’m Coming Out

So, one of the things I’ve decided to do for Pride Month is spend the entire month talking on her about, well, being a gay American and how that impacted (and continues to impact) my life every day. I have written numerous essays over the years, many of them with a very limited audience, and I’ve always had an eye to collecting them into a book, or using them to build a memoir of sorts around. But…this one I am sharing with you all this morning was very well received. I was asked to write a letter to my sixteen-year-old self, agreed to do it, and then completely forgot about it. I received a reminder email about it, which I read when checking my phone at the train station in Florence where we were waiting for the train to Venice. Horrified, I sat down in the first class car (we splurged), opened my laptop, and started writing. I reread it several times, made some edits, and then, as we were pulling into the station in Venice, I emailed it in. It went live overnight while we were in Venice, and when I checked in on-line the following day (taking the train back to Florence) I was shocked to see it had gone a bit viral (for me), being shared a lot and getting lots of likes and comments. Anyway, here it is, my letter to a sixteen year old me while on a train in Italy. (Rereading this made me laugh–as I pretended I had written it before the trip, so they wouldn’t know I waited to the last minute. For the record, I always wait till the last minute, and I also didn’t want them to know I’d forgotten about it.)

Dear Greg as a 16 year old:

I am writing to you on your birthday; our birthday, I would suppose. We have just turned 53 (I am going to henceforth refer to our disparate selves in the singular; Teen Greg as you; current self in the first person—the royal-sounding “we” sounds a bit on the pompous side). In two days, I am leaving for Italy. Italy! As a teenager, you are perhaps lying on your bed, either reading a book (if I recall correctly, that summer before your senior year you worked your way through James Michener; Centennial being the last one you read before school started) or daydreaming of being a writer, of being an adult, of getting out of Kansas, of being a success and traveling the world.

I know there are times when you wonder if you will ever leave Kansas, if your dream of being a writer will come true. I know there are times when you despaired of this; but please rest assured that on your 53rd birthday you will have published over thirty novels and fifty short stories. You will be president of the local chapter of Mystery Writers of America as well as serving a term on the national board and chairing several committees. You will have edited almost twenty anthologies, and been nominated for awards more times than you can remember—and will have even won some.

I know you think you are different from everyone else you know at your school, and in some ways you are. Your classmates will fall in love and marry, have children and watch those children grow up and marry and have children of their own. But that difference you are so ashamed of, the one you carefully hide from everyone you know and deny when confronted, is nothing you need feel shame for. I know there are nights when you lie in your bed and wonder if you will ever feel love, will ever be worthy of being loved, or whether your difference will force you to live your life, and walk your path, alone. I know that in 1977 it seems impossible not to be ashamed of who you are, and weight of that secret weighs heavily on your heart. But I can assure you that not only will the day come when you can hold your head high and shout at the top of the lungs I am a gay man, but likewise, you will find a love so pure and beautiful and remarkable that some nights before you go to sleep you will think about how lucky and blessed you are in wonder. There will be times when you are reading a book and you will look up at the man you love as he sits on the couch playing with your cat and you will be so suddenly overwhelmed with love that your eyes will fill with tears.

And several months before you turn 53, you and the man you love will decide to jointly celebrate your birthdays as well as the landmark of your nineteenth anniversary together with an eight day trip to Italy, visiting Pisa, Venice, Florence and Tuscany.

Just as you once dreamed.

As for never getting out of Kansas, you will find your true home on the day you turn 33. You will get out of a cab and step onto the cracked and tilted sidewalks of New Orleans and become overwhelmed with a sense of belonging and home. And two short years later, two weeks before you turn 35, you will move to New Orleans where you will hopefully live out the rest of a life that proved richer and more amazing than you could have ever hoped.

Yet as I write this, I realize that knowing these things lie in your future will affect the decisions and choices you make. Part of who I am now is because of the sorrows and sadness and bad choices you will make in your future. Even one different choice, one different path, will change your timeline and it is possible, even very likely, that I would not be sitting at my desk after packing for this trip to Italy writing this letter to you. I would not change my current reality for anything. I live in the city I love with the man I love doing the work I love living a life I love.

So I am glad I cannot actually let the 16 year old me know what the 53 year old me knows. I prefer to believe that writing this letter will send the positive energy back through time to give you the strength to always persevere, always survive, and always keep moving forward.

And maybe that is where my strength came from; maybe that is how I  managed to find the way to hold my head high and keep chasing my dreams.

As lovely as it would be to tell you this, that every one of your dreams will not only come true but better than you dreamed them, I am glad that I cannot.

With all my love,

Greg at 53

Almost ten years ago. Wow, that was a long time ago.

Love Profusion

Pay-the-Bills Wednesday has rolled around yet again, Constant Reader, and so later on during my lunch break I’ll take some time away from my food to start paying the bills due between now and the next time we get paid. I am also looking forward to this three-day weekend we have on the horizon; I’d completely forgotten about Memorial Day. Do gays from all over still congregate in Pensacola over Memorial Day weekend, to party on the beach and get sunburnt in places that usually never see the sun? I know there aren’t nearly as many circuit parties today as there used to be, back in the heyday of the 1990’s, when it seemed like there was one every weekend somewhere; Southern Decadence still happens, of course (I’ll be in San Diego for Bouchercon this year) but I don’t know about the others. I know Hotlanta died a long time ago; does the White Party still happen at Vizcaya? In Palm Springs? The Snow Ball? The Winter Ball? The Black and Blue Ball? Cherries in Washington? I suppose the time and need for these parties has passed for the most part–they wouldn’t be dying out, otherwise–but at the same time, it’s all a part of the history of our community, and I do hope it’s been documented somewhere. The circuit parties were easy to condemn and point fingers at, but anything that helped create a sense of community as well as provided a safe space during difficult, repressive times for gay men to be themselves and be as gay as possible deserves to be, and should be, remembered.

After all, that was the world that kind of spawned Scotty.

Hmmm, perhaps a future-Greg project? Yay! Because that’s just what I need, another project.

But the revision continues to progress quite marvelously, if I do say so myself. I should probably write more Scotty books because it’s so lovely to get back into his mind-space, you know? He’s so cheerful, and always so upbeat and positive…and even when he gets down because of whatever problem he’s gotten himself into, he doesn’t moan or whine, he just rolls up his sleeves and figures it all out. That’s why I like him, and why his readers do. I wish I could have that reaction to things…I don’t. I always have to curl up into a ball for a while before I can even consider getting on with things. Maybe someday that will change and I can absorb and handle shocks and surprises with Scotty’s flair and aplomb. I’m not holding my breath until that happens, either.

I slept really well last night–yet another good night’s sleep in the books, I think I am on a record streak now of sleeping well–and feel pretty rested this morning. I was awake before the alarm went off this morning, and then hit snooze a couple of times to give my mind and body the opportunity to wake up slowly. We watched the new Ted Lasso last night, which was more of a Jamie Tartt-centered episode, and my word, seriously: how did Jamie Tartt become one of my most beloved characters on the show? Last night he made me laugh and he made me cry; and I love his friendships with Roy and Keeley, who are also slowly (hopefully) inching towards a reconciliation. There’s only one episode left–after which I may have to do a complete binge rewatch, from start to finish. It really is quite a marvelous show, and I do love that the gay storyline ruined the show for the homophobes. The mark of a truly good show is you aren’t sure how you feel at the end of the episode, despite having enjoyed it. Was it good? Did the stories make sense? Were the performances good? How was the writing? It’s one of the reasons I watch every episode twice; once to enjoy and go along for the ride, the second to appreciate the acting and the writing and connect even further with the episode. This season I’ve noticed some bashing of the show on Twitter (and not just from homophobes), which was why I started rewatching; to see if the haters were right and I’d overlooked something out of my deep affection for the show (I can also watch more critically the second time). I am pleased to report that the haters are, indeed, always wrong. I am really going to miss this show, but I get the sense that the season finale will be incredibly sad yet satisfying. They have a long way to catch Schitt’s Creek for best series finale, but I suspect they will be able to do it.

I’m curious to see what spin-offs might twirl out of the show. I’m really hoping Jamie gets his own show; I’ve really developed a huge crush on Phil Dunster, who might just pry the supporting actor Emmy out of the death grip Brett Goldstein’s had on it these last two years. The development of his character arc has just been phenomenal–all of the characters, really, but Phil Dunster has really been given the chance to shine this season (and some of last) and I do sometimes think he might not be taken as seriously as an actor because–well, because he’s damned good looking.

Since Monday was an odd day, I am having trouble this week keeping track of days. I keep thinking today is either Tuesday (which makes no sense) or Thursday (which kind of does). I’m looking forward to getting some more good work done on the book tonight–and if Paul is late getting home, I am so watching the Vanderpump Rules reunion’s first part. I need to devote an entire entry to the insanity this reality show–which I actually stopped watching years (and I do mean years) ago–has spawned. I had started writing about Real Housewives of Beverly Hills after its season completed; I think I can easily do both shows in one entry since both have spawned scandals that became news (a sad commentary on the state of our news media, frankly), which brings up the question of audience enablement–if the ratings go up when people are really despicable on a reality show, aren’t we just encouraging more of the same?

Questions, questions.

And on that note I am off to the spice mines. Have a lovely middle of the week, Constant Reader, and I will be back tomorrow.

Die Another Day

At some point, with all the book -bans and censorship that’s going on, I am going to have to recap and go over my own experience with being banned; but that will require logic, rational thought and revisiting my blog entries from that period to refresh my memory. Yesterday I got political on here for the first time in a long time, and you know–it kind of felt good to get that out of my system and into the public sphere. I do feel very complicit for not speaking out sooner, but…I’ve always worried, more so after turning fifty, that my opinions might cause trouble for others I am associated with; I work at a non-profit for one, and of course, I had a very long volunteer service ‘career’ with Mystery Writers of America. It was probably at least nine years of service all told; and I didn’t want anyone claiming I was speaking for MWA (particularly when I was serving as Executive Vice President) when I was expressing myself personally; nor did I want anything I might say or do to reflect poorly on the organization–or have my words used against it in any way. As EVP, I was one of only two people authorized to speak for the organization publicly; and that last year after pandemic restrictions were lifted I traveled a lot, representing the organization at several conferences and events. And even though I personally knew where the lines were drawn and what was and wasn’t separate, I couldn’t count on other people to keep or recognize those same distinctions…and I was far too busy with everything to willingly risk more things to have to deal with by opening my mouth on here. That’s part of the reason I dialed that all back–along with the “preaching to the choir” element–but yesterday morning I realized you don’t have to be careful about what you say publicly anymore and it was incredibly liberating. So yes, I will sometimes be taking on things that I feel strongly about and not keeping my mouth shut the way I have for so long. (In my narcissistic hubris, I also sort of blame myself for the state of the world right now because I kept my mouth shut for so long.) Besides, if you read this blog or my books (hopefully both), it should be readily apparent that politically I am basically a Jacobin–albeit one who understands how our government runs and functions and how it is supposed to work…which some people serving in Washington don’t seem to know, which is odd. Surely the ones in my age group had to take Government or Civics in high school? I don’t see how they could have passed it, but here we are.

So be prepared, Constant Reader. There’s a lengthy tome coming on the Virginia Incident.

But I finished editing the manuscript I was working on (not one of my own) last evening and sent it back to the author, and I can breathe. I have a ZOOM call scheduled with my editor, so we can talk out all the issues and scheduling for Mississippi River Mischief, which I am actually itching to get back to work on. I think I’ll take today and tomorrow as free days from writing, and then I will jump back into the book on Sunday. I want to do it the way I always do my editing and revisions; by chapter as opposed to entire manuscript, which is what I had been doing and I think this change of work habits, on top of the depression and everything else, made it impossible for me to get the book finished. I don’t think I’ll get it done by the end of May, but surely I can get it finished by mid-June, and then can move back to Chlorine–which will also require me going over and revising the opening chapters again so I can get the voice down again. I am also going to go back to my chapter-per-week project I was working on before my life blew up late last year, and I feel marvelous about everything. I feel very excited about this, and about getting back to writing again. This hasn’t been the best year for me thus far, really, and I also need to stop thinking oh I need to understand why I feel like this or trying to deconstruct everything in some kind of pseudo-psychological processing. My mother died after a slow, lengthy decline, at an extremely difficult time for me professionally. I need to stop feeling guilty about grieving, or being unable to do anything because of depression. Of course I am experiencing some depression; I’d have to be inhuman not to feel anything. And like with all previous traumas, I am learning to navigate grief as I go–although maybe I should read Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking–and like all previous traumas, it creates a bipolar existence where one day you are fine and the next you’re back in the pit of despair. Sometimes the day will start out great and will flip as it goes on. I have nothing wise or profound to say about loss or grief; although there is something to be said about the numb emotional deadening the HIV/AIDS crisis brought in its wake. I would never want to be that zombie-like ever again, drifting through the days waiting to hear someone else is in the hospital, someone else has died, and there’s another funeral in a few days–but I also have to start recognizing, at this great advanced age, that I’ve never processed or dealt with that time either. (It’s a Sin was a strong reminder of that very thing. I was also thinking Longtime Companion deserves a revisit; it’s always been hard to watch for me, but the beach scene at the end always makes me sob. I’ve also been thinking about the literature of the plague; has anyone ever compiled a list of the classic HIV/AIDS writings? There’s a thesis for a grad student.)

Last night I slept like a log; the sleep of the righteous for finally finishing that editing job. I feel great this morning–rested and relaxed. I do have some work at home duties to accomplish today, and the kitchen is a complete disaster area. I have decided that I am going to finish reading Lori Roy’s Let Me Die in His Footsteps (which is fucking brilliant in every way), as well as reread the openings of the Scotty books this weekend, to see if I can get his voice back into my brain–I feel like that’s the big problem in Mississippi River Mischief–I haven’t nailed the voice and tone in any of the drafts yet, so I need to re-familiarize myself with Scotty’s voice and his wicked, wicked ways. I am actually excited about getting reacquainted with him. This is our ninth outing together, and I always wonder with each one if this is the last or not. I think there’s at least two more Scottys within the reaches of my brain–Hurricane Party Hustle and Quarter Quarantine Quadrille for sure–but you never know what is going to happen next and what may come along your road to write from out of nowhere. I’d like to get both Chlorine and Muscles finished this year, as well as the novellas, and maybe a short story collection by the end of the year. I have also been thinking that one thing that is missing from the annals of New Orleans (or Louisiana, for that matter) crime fiction is the environmental novel. John D. MacDonald deplored what politicians and greedy developers were doing to the tropical paradise of Florida, and slipped that social commentary into almost every Travis McGee novel and many of his stand alones (Barrier Island comes to mind). Louisiana has been in an environmental crisis for decades, and yet no one ever writes about the eroding coastline, the greed of the oil companies and the politicians they buy and pay for every year; Cancer Alley along the river between Baton Rouge and New Orleans being a hotbed of toxic waste; and of there was the Bayou Corne sinkhole a few years ago. I don’t know that I have the knowledge or the time to do the necessary research to write such things, but it’s something someone needs to write. And you know what I always say–if you think someone should write it, that someone should be you.

For me, though, the problem with research is how do you stop from going down wormholes and wasting days? Where do you draw the line, and when do you know you’ve done enough? As Constant Reader knows, I can never get enough of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries of European history; I can spend days in wormholes of research about politics and wars and the powerful; it was an interesting time–when white Europeans began their colonization of the world, when Christianity had it’s huge splintering that led to war after war after war, the Hapsburgs continuing to expand their empire by marrying it, and on and on and on. Remarkable female leaders proliferated in the sixteenth century more than perhaps any other century before or since; which makes the sixteenth a bit more interesting than the seventeenth. The seventeenth interests me because it was the century when the world empires continued to grow and oppress natives around the globe, but it was also the time of the rise of the modern state, when the political games became more about state power rather than faith or old inheritance claims–when politics became more about the country than the King’s whims. I also go down New Orleans and Louisiana history wormholes a lot, too. I will never have the time to write everything I want to write, or research history enough to write about it. I really, for example, want to write about the German Coast rebellion of the enslaved; I want to write about Freniere, Louisiana being wiped off the map; and I want to write more historical stories set in New Orleans.

And I want to write a romance. I had that on my list of projects for this year, but then everything blew up in my face and my control over the year slipped right out of my fingers. But even though it’s mid to late May, it’s not too late to salvage the rest of the year from the wreckage of the first five months.

And on that note, I’m heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader, and I will check in which you again later or tomorrow.


Tuesday morning and it looks like we managed to survive Monday somehow. It was ninety-seven degrees yesterday when I left the office–but the humidity hasn’t started getting super bad yet. After getting the mail and making groceries, I was exhausted by the time i finished unloading the car and putting everything away. And it’s only May. It’s funny how we forget the brutality of summer when it’s not summer her, every single year. It’s always a shock how hot it gets here when the summer heat returns in late spring…and how much it saps the energy right out of you. I did manage to get some work done last night after putting everything away, and then I repaired to the easy chair after a ZOOM meeting to be a kitty bed.

We started watching Shrinking last night on Apple TV, and it is really one of the funniest shows I’ve seen. I believe it’s written by Brett Goldstein, aka Roy Kent on Ted Lasso, and stars Jason Segal and Harrison Ford. Once it hits its stride–the pilot episode was a bit uneven–it becomes absolutely hilarious. I can’t believe more people aren’t talking about this (maybe they are, I am notoriously oblivious, after all) but it’s terrific. Funny–and the humor comes from the characters and who they are, rather than situations, which makes it richer and more human, I think. Jason Segal plays a therapist whose wife passed away about a year before the show opens, and he’s questioning everything about his life, including how he practices therapy with his patients, and decides to be more active, proactive even, in his treatment of them. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it is always quite clever and funny and enjoyable. He also has an estranged relationship with his daughter–his grief was selfish, and he wasn’t there for her when she lost her mom–and their neighbor, Liz, has kind of taken over taking care of Alice the daughter, so he’s trying to rebuild that relationship as well, while navigating his gratitude to Liz for stepping up–complicated by the fact she won’t let go or step back. Like Ted Lasso, it’s about relationships and learning how to navigate grief–in Ted Lasso, it’s the grief of the failed marriage, in Shrinking, it’s grief over a dead spouse…but the primary takeaway from the show so far is something I’ve noticed, and a friend who lost her spouse about six months ago and I have been talking about, is the lack of conversation and discussion about grief, how to grieve, how long one should grieve, the guilt you feel whenever you have a good moment or something nice happens to you (“I shouldn’t be having a good time!”), and so on.

We have a billion dollar industry built around grief–the mortuary business–and yet that’s all about the public display of grief, rather than the intimate experience of it. Ah, capitalism. I’m actually surprised no one has figured out a way to monetize grief, really. Or maybe that’s what the mortuary business is? If so, at least in my case, it’s gone horribly wrong. The service in Alabama at the funeral home was absolutely lovely, don’t get me wrong–but it didn’t provide me with any closure or answers or much of anything other than the ability to share sadness with the rest of the family (and I do pity the relatives who didn’t come or even call or anything; that is something Dad will never forgive. I am a little more understanding, but totally get where he’s coming from and can appreciate and understand it. He worshipped her and he saw that as a slap in her face, right or wrong.), so I don’t know.

I don’t know much about anything, really. Almost every day is a reminder of how little I know and how little I understand. But life really is a learning process; I hope to never stop learning and evolving and growing until the day my heart finally gives out as well.

And on that note, I am heading back into the spice mines. Have a lovely Tuesday, and I will check back in with you again tomorrow.

Don’t Cry for Me Argentina

It won’t be easy, you’ll think it strange…

Work at home Friday for one Gregalicious, and yes, I feel marvelous after not having to get up to an alarm at the ungodly hour of six a.m. It doesn’t matter how many days, weeks, months or years I have to do that–I will never get used to it. I’ve had 9 to 5 jobs before and it didn’t matter. I never got used to getting up to the alarm, never failed to get tired or worn down during the course of the week, and was generally so tired by Friday all I could do was pray for the day to end. Why is this? I don’t know, but I have always been like this–even when I was a kid. I made some decent progress on the book last night–thank God–and hopefully will be able to do so tonight as well.

Last night I joined some colleagues and friends for a catch-up-we-don’t-see-each-other-enough ZOOM call, which was lovely. They taught me how to take my face off the screen (I don’t like looking at myself, which is why I’ve always hated doing ZOOM things) and I learned how to blur out my background so I don’t have to stress about open cabinet doors or a stray dirty dish or case of condoms in camera range (which is why I’ve always hated ZOOM things) and it was quite lovely. It was a nice cap on an odd day of weird energy. As always, I enjoyed my clients and there was cake again today (there’s been cake pretty much every day this week), but I felt like I wasn’t getting as much done as I usually can and like I was kind of drifting through the day, if that makes any bit of sense (USE YOUR WORDS, WRITER BOY). But after the call I got through another chapter, and I think I am over the hump now and can buckle down and get the damned thing finished at long last. I have a lot to do this weekend, and not much time for being lazy and recharging (my favorite things to do) my batteries.

But it’s going to take some more time. In fact, I am going to stop being so lethargic and talk to my editor today and let her know how behind this is and see what we can do. Avoidance always makes things worse, you know, and this is a lesson I learned a long time ago–which makes this regression back to a time when “avoidance” was my middle name puzzling, confusing, and worrisome. I used to evade responsibility at every opportunity; eventually I realized that stepping up and taking responsibility was better for me on every level. Maybe I tend to overdo that somewhat; I don’t need to take responsibility for everything as not everything is actually mu fault, but I have also found that taking responsibility like that gives everyone and everything the chance to deal and move on. And sometimes that’s the best thing to do; because things inevitably devolve to “who do we need to blame for this?” and that isn’t productive.

After working some, Paul and I got caught up on The Other Two, which isn’t as funny in its third season as it was in its earlier ones, and then spent some more time with Somebody Somewhere, which I really do like. Today I have work-at-home duties as well as chores to get done before I can curl up with today’s edits; this weekend I have other things to do so I have to put the book aside once I take responsibility for my failures to get this revision done in a timely manner and get this back on the road to its completion. This morning I feel more clear-headed than I have all week, but then of course I should have expected to be tired this week; last weekend I spent over eleven hours driving between Saturday and Sunday and of course, the weekend was an emotional drain. It’s actually been quite a week, frankly; between the emotional rollercoaster of the weekend to the madness of getting three Anthony nominations and of course, the constant struggle to get this book finished, it’s really not a surprise that I was drained and tired and fatigued in every way (emotional, intellectual, and physical) by the time Thursday came rolling around. I also realized this morning/last night that the way I’ve been revising this book hasn’t been the best way to do it; I’ve been doing something different in my approach and as such, feel like no progress is ever being made and that makes it even harder. I was trying to work from the manuscript draft, with everything in one document, as opposed to what I usually do, which is every chapter has its own file with the chapter number and draft number as the file name (example: Chapter 2-4 means fourth draft of chapter two) and I can get the enormous satisfaction of keeping track and getting things done; working in one document there is none of that, and I think not getting that serotonin blast from the illusion of getting things done and moving ahead is what has been holding me back. I am going to go back to the old way of doing things while cutting and pasting the new stuff into the long document and see if that speeds me back up.

Never change the ingrained habits of over twenty years, for therein lies the path to madness.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. May your Friday be as lovely as you are, Constant Reader, and I’ll clock back in tomorrow.


Yesterday started off really well for me. I woke up, felt a little groggy, brewed a cup of coffee while I washed my face and brushed my teeth (also checking my scalp for sunburn acquired on Sunday) and then sat down at my computer to touch the space bar to wake it up. The first thing I saw was a DM from my friend Kellye, saying, okay double nominee and, as always, replied with “wait what?” She replied, have you not checked your email since last night? so I went to my inbox and there it was: the Anthony Award finalists for San Diego 2023…and I was on it three times. THREE. In all honesty and modesty aside I figured/hoped/thought my best chance to score a nomination was for the 2022 Bouchercon anthology (what kind of monster do you have to be to edit the Bouchercon anthology and NOT get on the short-list for their awards?) but Best Humorous for A Streetcar Named Murder? Best Children’s/Young Adult for #shedeservedit? How absolutely lovely and kind and totally a surprise. It’s kind on unreal. Last year I was nominated twice, which was stunning in and of itself (losing both was no surprise, and seriously there is no shame in losing to Alan Orloff and Jess Lourey; two very talented, funny, and lovely people), but three? I know Shawn A. Cosby was nominated for three I think last year, too? That’s some good company to be in, let me tell you what. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I am thrilled, and how delightful that Streetcar and #shedeservedit are getting some award love. The Anthony nominations announcement sort of derailed my day–but what a nice way to have your day derailed, right?–but I was able to get some things done.

I still can’t believe it. And if I didn’t say thanks or “heart” your congratulations on social media, my apologies. Thanks to everyone, really. It still doesn’t seem real; like always, it never does until I’ve actually not won the night they are presented, but like Paul said, “Three more opportunities to extend your losing streak!”

So, yeah, not much progress was made last night. I wasn’t tired when I got home, but I ran some errands and got home rather quickly–that was a surprise–but did some laundry and a load of dishes, but every time I tried to write anything I’d get more notifications and I am obsessive about thanking people; I never want anyone to think I don’t appreciate their being kind to me. And really, not bad for a queer writer, right? Granted, there’s not much queer about either Streetcar or the anthology, but I am still a queer writer no matter what it is I write, it will come from a queer societal perspective. That’s the thing, you know, about queer writers. Even if we aren’t writing about queer characters and themes, we cannot help but bring an outsider’s perspective towards everything we write, and while perhaps being on the outside colors our viewpoint, it also gives us the opportunity for a different perspective and the ability to sometimes see things a bit more clearly than our straight counterparts, who are all wrapped up in their straightness and their perceived straight world.

Obviously, I am still a bit aglow from the great big hug I just got from my colleagues–and still waiting for the correction email–but today I have to firmly reaffix nose to grindstone. I simply have too much to do to allow myself the ease of indulging in my exhaustion–although it is necessary sometimes for recharging purposes–but time is slipping through my fingers like quicksilver and I’ve got to get all this shit done. I must say, career-wise, this has been a good year so far. But I really am having a good year on the score; it just would be nice if my career wouldn’t only go well during times of trauma so I could enjoy the highs a little bit more? Oy.

But I did have another good night of sleep last night and I do feel rested for the moment–my legs are tired, though; I really need to start stretching daily–so we’ll see how the days goes. I’d like to finish reading my book (Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy, which is superb) at some point, and of course there are things to edit and emails to answer and things to write too–and I definitely need to make a to-do list as well as a Costco grocery list as well.

And on that note I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Wednesday Eve, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

The Power of Goodbye

I got home last night around eight o’clock. I am very glad I went up there this weekend; it meant a lot to Dad and it was kind of helpful for me as well. I am still kind of in shock that I was able to sleep in the motel room on Saturday night; I actually slept better that night than I did at home on Sunday, but here we are. I am composing an entry about the First Sunday in May; I started writing it last night when I got home but don’t want to finish it while I’m sleepy or foggy from sleep. It needs a clearer head, to be certain. It was hot and humid yesterday, and I have a bit of a sunburn on my scalp from the incredibly bright hot sun as we went from cemetery to cemetery.

I am very tired this morning, but am really glad I went this weekend. I feel like some of the darkness has receded–perhaps not for good, make that most likely–I have long since learned to know that once the constant darkness starts to recede that there are still going to be bad days in the weeks and months to come, but that first wave of grief that I’ve been living with seems to be over. Stay tuned, and keep your seatbelt fastened; there’s still more turbulence to come.

I didn’t finish listening to Carol Goodman’s marvelous The Ghost Orchid in the car, but I can finish listening while doing some chores around the office that always need to be done. It’s really fantastic; with DNA from Dark Shadows, Mary Stewart, and Elizabeth Peters; another one of those books that make you think why do I even bother? But Carol’s one of my favorite writers (and favorite people) so I prefer to enjoy her work than beat myself up over not being able to write books as well–there’s no point in that kind of thinking in the first place.

I do feel like the cathartic feel from this weekend might help me buckle down and get back on top of everything. I am so behind on everything that it’s not even funny. I do have an eye appointment this Saturday–just getting my prescription checked; will order new glasses from Zenni if they are needed (and I suspect they are)–and hopefully I will be able to get deeper into the book this week and maybe–just maybe–get all caught up by the end of this coming weekend. I need to go over my to-do list and come up with a new one; I won’t be able to take books to the library sale because of the eye appointment but I should take a box down from the attic this week to get started on the ultimate purge, and hopefully think ahead and plan as much as I can while this good feeling lasts.

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.

Another Suitcase, Another Hall

Well, hello there, Constant Reader! Gregalicious checking in on you from the road, from a motel in Jasper, Alabama. It’s a bit surreal being back in this part of the world, once again seeing for the second time this year the part of the country from which I sprang, as it were. I got up yesterday morning and headed north in a brutal thunderstorm; got Whataburger in Tuscaloosa (and it’s right off Highway 59! I can get it on all trips north from now on!!! Huzzah!), and then cut over to Highway 69 North and found myself driving through the backroads and back ways of where we are from; and before I knew it, I was at Fowler’s Crossroads (which appears in Bury Me in Shadows) and heading through the twisting back roads to meet Dad at Mom’s grave. A second cousin was also at the graveyard visiting her parents (she might be a first cousin once removed, or something. Her mother and my father were first cousins; I don’t know how all that degrees of cousin works, figure it out if you want for yourself), and then my aunt showed up to keep us company. Dad was tending the grave, and he and my aunt got some lovely flowers for the graves (her husband, my father’s brother, passed in either October or November). Afterwards, we drove back over to Jasper where I checked in and hung out with my dad for the rest of the day. I’m glad I made this trip. I am really glad I got to see my father this weekend, and we started thinking about my next trip up north to visit him (and stay in Mom’s house).

I also think that I’ll be able to get back to living my life once I get back home, too. Coming here, being here, has lifted a weight off my chest and off my subconscious mind; in fact, on the way here I was thinking about the book instead of giving as much of my attention to Carol Goodman’s The Ghost Orchid, which of course is fan-fucking-tastic, as all Goodman novels are. (I am hoping to finish it on the way back to New Orleans tomorrow–it has everything I love, including a dual time-line! EEEE!) This trip has been cathartic for me in ways I didn’t think possible, and of course, tomorrow I’ll be spending the late morning/early afternoon visiting graves, and remembering my so-far-distant past. I get it now–the whole graveyard visit thing, which I had always thought before was morbid and part of our weird American cult of death. Now I understand why visiting the graves matters; it’s a way to feel close to our lost departed ones, to remember loving them and being loved by them (Dad said something poignantly beautiful to me today–“she was the first person who loved you” which is both beautiful yet horrible at the same time: beautiful because it was true, yet horrible at the same time for not understanding and recognizing that when she was alive so I could be more appreciative. I saw Andrew Garfield the other day on a Youtube clip from a talk show, where he talked about grief being “all the unexpressed love you have for the person you lost” and that he hoped that the grief would never completely go away, because the pain, no matter how bad it is, is a reminder of that love. Maybe someday I will have something profoundly beautiful to say about grief and loss; I am simply not there yet. Dad also had copies made of some photographs of her–when she was FFA Sweetheart in high school; a “glamour shot” photo she had done for my dad when they were in their fifties; and a candid photo he took of her on a beach in San Diego when they lived there briefly. Mom aged really well, I have to say; in the candid shot she was at least fifty-seven but could have easily passed for her thirties. She had gorgeous skin that was luminous when she was younger; in that FFA Sweetheart photo when she was only fifteen–if she wasn’t wearing the FFA Sweetheart jacket it could have easily been a classic Hollywood glamour shot from Hurrell. Her skin literally glows, the way Ingrid Bergman’s did in black and white. I was very lucky to have a beautiful mother and a handsome father; how their genes and DNA somehow mixed and came up with me is a mystery for the ages.

She certainly aged better than I have. I look like Uncle Fester now but she was beautiful till the moment her heart stopped.

I suppose it’s normal when you lose someone that you love that there are things you wish you could have back, that you have one more chance to talk to them. I wish I could go back to the Friday after Thanksgiving, which was the last time I was able to talk to my mother, and hold her and hug her and kiss her and tell her that I love her, instead of sitting there at the kitchen table, drinking coffee and feeling tired and dreading that twelve hour drive. The coffee was starting to make me feel nauseous because I hadn’t slept well and I realized you’re wasting time sitting here and the more coffee you drink the worse you’re going to feel so I abruptly announced I was going to just go ahead and go. I startled both Mom and Dad, and I know she didn’t walk out with me. I gave her a hug and a kiss at the top of the stairs and told her I loved her and went down the stairs, got into my car, and drove back to New Orleans at ninety miles per hour most of the way so I could get home as fast as I possibly could. Had I known that I wouldn’t see my mother again when she would know who I was? I would have stayed another day at least, or could have stayed another hour that morning, or something. I comfort myself slightly by reminding myself that of course she knew I loved her, that she always knew, even when I wasn’t the most lovable or best son–I was far from being a good child to either of my parents, really–but listening to my dad recite his litany of what he considers his failures as a husband and a father last night made me understand the futility of allowing myself to go down that path.

The first person who loved you.

That’s just wrecking, seriously.

I do think I am slowly starting to heal. I will never not miss my mother, but I think I am beginning to learn how to live with the loss.


In a little bit I’ll be loading up the car and driving north.

We watched more of The Diplomat last night, and I must say, what a terrific show. Keri Russell is fantastic, the writing and production values are top natch, and the cast? Chef’s kiss, really. I also managed to get some work done on the book last evening, as well as doing some chores around the house on breaks from work-at-home duties. I laundered the bed linens, forgot to pick up my dry cleaning, and noted that the humidity has returned–the Formosan termite swarms won’t be far behind, either. There have already been sightings reported on social media, and yet it’s not yet Mother’s Day, which was usually the demarcation line of swarm season. The work on the house next door also looks like it may be winding down at long last, and while the house looks lovely, I still miss my crepe myrtles.

I slept very well last night, so we’ll see how I feel sleeping in a motel tonight. I don’t have much to do to get ready for the drive; my Carol Goodman audiobook is downloaded to my phone, and I just need to pack my shaving kit and a change of clothes to be ready to go, after showering and shaving. I also need to queue up the directions on my phone, too. It should be, all in all, a lovely drive. Mississippi, despite everything, is quite beautiful to drive through, as is Alabama (the entire South is beautiful, more’s the pity), and of course, I’ll probably be working through plot points in my own book while I listen to Carol’s read beautifully through my speakers.

I am not sure what time I will get back here tomorrow, but I assume it will be late, so I will be tired going into my work week. Maybe I should have taken Monday off? But even if I am tired, I should be able to drag my ass to the office. It’s my get-caught-up-on-things day at the office; and I generally am never there for eight hours. Since I am not client-facing on Mondays I am thinking I could probably manage the day despite being tired…and maybe being tired on Monday will help me sleep the rest of the week. I mean, I can dream, can’t I? And Lord, I am behind on everything. Hopefully getting this weekend out of the way will remove the cloud from my subconscious and I can move on ahead without the depressive lows or out-of-nowhere emotional collapses. Again, I can dream, can’t I?

So, when I get back tomorrow night I need to remember to make a list of everything that needs doing in the meantime–there’s a lot I have to do and get done, so I need to make certain that everything that needs doing is written down so I can remember to get to it. I have an eye appointment next Saturday, and I also need to figure out some things about getting the hearing aids and so forth. Heavy heaving sigh. It also looks kind of gray out there this morning; perhaps I should check the weather between here and there before I leave this morning. A thought, to be sure. Looks like rain both today and tomorrow–all the way there and all the way back, as well as here too. Yay, he typed in sarcasm font. That’ll make the drive ever so much easier.

But I don’t mind these lengthy drives, although I’d prefer to teleport wherever I need to be rather than drive or fly. It’s also unusual for me to be gone two consecutive weekends–although of course, after I went to the library events in Birmingham and Wetumpka I had to go to Kentucky the next weekend, and back to Alabama the next–three weekends in a row with me not home. The discovery of audiobooks for the drives changed everything, really. I also worked on cleaning up the piles of books, but haven’t bothered pruning much because I can’t get to the library sale to drop off books before next weekend at the earliest.

I don’t know if there will be an entry tomorrow morning or if it will have to wait until I get home, or Monday morning, one or the other. (And I just realized of course it’s raining today; it’s Jazzfest and it always rains on one of those weekends.)

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader–not sure when I’ll be back. SO hang in there, okay? You got this.


Work at home Friday, woo-hoo! The excitement really never stops, does it? Ah, well.

Yesterday was a pleasant enough day, despite my complete exhaustion by the time the afternoon rolled around. I was fine in the morning, focused and getting things done, but once I went back to seeing clients after my lunch break, I was physically and mentally fatigued. I also had to pick up the mail on my way home–the traffic wasn’t nearly as terrible as it had been the day before; I do NOT know what that was all about, nor do I want to know, frankly. I came home, did some things, and then collapsed into my easy chair. We started watching that new HBO MAX show about the Watergate burglars starring Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux (and if you would have told me in 1989 that Woody from Cheers would become one of our best character actors, I wouldn’t have stopped laughing until 1992), but while it’s exceptionally well done, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy aren’t the kind of people I want to know better or see anything about as the lead characters of anything. It was eerie how well they reproduced suburban life in that period (also having Cersei Lannister playing Mrs. Hunt was an interesting twist), but again…I couldn’t get a sense of whether this was parody or striving for accuracy (which shows how insane Hunt and Liddy both are/were), so after one episode we tapped out and switched over to The Diplomat, which is amazing. I fell asleep during the second episode (I’ll rewatch it to get caught up at some point) because I was, simply stated, completely exhausted from a week of working and not sleeping well and emotional upset, I suppose. Last night I slept like a rock–completely dead to the world all night, and even slept for nearly ten hours before rising this morning rested and refreshed. It is quite lovely, frankly, and I feel terrific for the first time all week. Of course tomorrow I have to drive to Alabama (and back again on Sunday) but I have already selected Carol Goodman’s The Ghost Orchid to listen to on the ride to and fro, and I am kind of excited at the chance to listen to yet another brilliant book by one of my current favorite authors.

I’ve not had a chance to pick up Lori Roy’s brilliant Let Me Die in His Footsteps, which I was reading on the way home from Malice last Sunday and loving every word. Despite the fact she has two Edgars and another nomination from her first three books (which is pretty amazing on every level), I think her more recent work is even better than her earlier work. This book is also pretty fantastic, and I can see why it did win the Best Novel Edgar. Roy has a very hypnotic writing style, and is a master of voice; this story is told by two very different and very distinct voices with an alternating dual time-line, which is also something I love, love, love. The pity is that when I finally do finish this book, there will only be one Lori Roy novel left that I’ve not read, When She Comes Home, and I’ll have to hold onto that one until she publishes another book unless I want to (sigh) finish her entire published canon thus far.

I dread the day when I run out of Carol Goodman novels to read, for example.

It’s been a tough week, and I think that its my subconscious dealing with the issues of what this weekend means, really. Over the course of my life I’ve become really good at compartmentalizing my life into different rooms in my brain and shutting and locking the door on things, thinking I can’t deal with that now, I’ll deal with it later but some things are too big to be locked away, and they seep out through the cracks around the door in its frame and drag like a heavy stone at my being and emotions. I hit a major wall when I got home from work on Wednesday; I just got overwhelmed out of nowhere with grief and collapsed into my easy chair for some purring cat therapy. I also find that my moods can easily be shifted with essentially a snap of the fingers this week. I am unused to this kind of grief, and periodically wonder–with a sense of dread and horror–how much worse this will be when I lose Dad, as he is the only parent I have left. I know I am lucky. I had my mom for nearly sixty-two years; most people don’t get that long with one parent, let alone two. How much harder would this have been to deal with when I was younger and more immature?

But that is the kind of thing I always dismiss when it comes to mind–the path of regret is one of futility, wasted time and energy and emotion. You cannot change anything, so what is the point of trying to figure out or thinking about how different things might have been had you chosen A instead of B at this point, or D instead of Y then? The ripple effect of every choice we make reaches people we don’t know in ways we’ll never know, so maybe different choices made by me could have resulted in horrible things happening to other people, and why on earth would I wish bad things for people I don’t even know? That sounds terrible, frankly, and nothing I would ever want.

In some ways, this morning I am kind of looking forward to the drive north. I mean, yes, the destination is grim and sad, but it’s a beautiful drive; I have a great novel to listen to, and I really am looking forward to seeing my father. I want to get a good look at him, you know, and listen to him and see how he is doing. It’s so hard to tell via email or text, you know? Nothing like having eyes on someone for a proper assessment. I’ve decided to go up there this summer for a while, keep him company and spend some more time with him. (And yes, hateful little voice inside my head, I am very aware that I should have been doing this when Mom was alive. No sense in regrets, but I don’t want to feel this way when I lose Dad, so…changes in mentality and thinking are necessary going forward. I do wish it were easier to get up there than it is, though. I don’t think anyone can fault me for thinking that, either.)

Ah well, I have work-at-home duties to take care of as well as chores, so I am going to bring this to a close and head into the spice mines. I’ll check in with you again tomorrow before I leave, Constant Reader, and have a lovely day.