Stoned Soul Picnic

In a bizarre blog twist, my entire entry about Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, other than the opening paragraph, has completely disappeared from here, which is very strange. I don’t know how that could have happened; and it’s disappointing, as I made some very strong points about racism and the erasure of the brutality of slavery from our history. I did wonder why it, as opposed to so many of my other entries, wasn’t getting ‘likes’ by anyone, and now I know why–it’s not that it offended people, but rather that the entry is now simply, mostly gone.

How fucking annoying. And, of course, I always write the blog directly here, rather than using Word and cutting and pasting. So, it’s simply vanished into the ether, gone forever. Heavy heaving sigh. As for as writing losses go, it’s pretty low on the scale but at the same time…it hurts to lose any writing. Ever.

Heavy sigh.

I spent some more time reading Stephen King’s Finders Keepers yesterday between doing some cleaning (I never did get to the windows, but will today) and relaxing. I got caught up on Riverdale, ran some errands, cleaned the living room thoroughly (although I needed the ladder to do the ceiling fans and the windows, it was upstairs and so when I moved upstairs to I cleaned up there before bringing the ladder down, and by then I just wanted to relax and read), and did sit in my easy chair thinking about things I am working on. Today, I am going to do some straightening up around here, the windows and the ceiling fans in the living room, and I may finish cleaning upstairs. I don’t know, quite frankly; I am also feeling the lure of Finders Keepers, which I am really enjoying. It’s the middle book of his Bill Hodges trilogy, which began with the Edgar-winning Mr. Mercedes, which I also greatly enjoyed. I am almost halfway finished with the book, and King’s ability to create great characters the reader can understand and even empathize with, no matter how awful the characters may actually be, is on display here.

I also cleaned out some books for the donation pile, which is always a lovely start. I need to stop buying books, really, is what I need to do, but it’s a lifelong problem, and at almost fifty-six, I’m not sure I can effect behavior change anymore, but it’s certainly worth a try. I am also going to go to the gym later on today as well; and lift weights. If I go back to the old system–let’s face it, I am never going to motivate myself to do cardio–of what I did when I lost weight originally–go to the gym, do a full-body workout with more reps and lighter weights, and do some stretching–in addition to eating healthier, I should be able to get rid of that pesky fifteen pounds and get back down to 200. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get back to 180–my oddly shaped frame would make finding clothes that fit properly an issue (the ten pounds or so I’ve already lost has made all my pants too big in the waist, but they are still tight in the legs, and the small waist and big quads/hamstrings has always been an issue for me with pants), so I don’t know that I’d want to get back down that far. A flatter stomach and more definition is all I really want, anyway, so that I can at least get to the point where I don’t mind going to the beach, as I would really like to get tanned again. And going to the beach is always lovely, anyway.

Apparently it’s going to rain today, so doing the windows is out. Heavy sigh. It does look gloomy out there. There’s always next weekend.

Friday I am driving up to Montgomery for an appearance at the Alabama Book Festival, and driving back to New Orleans for a day before heading up to an event at the Sarah Isom Center for Women at Ole Miss in Oxford. I am very excited, if a bit nervous, to do both events. It’s so lovely having a new car so that I don’t have to worry about the driving, though. I love my new car; and almost three months after I bought it, it still has the new car smell.

I’ve also figured out how to revise “Quiet Desperation”, which is something I’d like to get to work on this week. My work schedule is sort of normal for the week, despite a late night on Thursday. As I start getting back into the groove of writing and rewriting, I am hoping to get a lot more done from now on. I also no longer have to get up ridiculously early for work on Tuesdays anymore–I don’t have to be at the office until 11 henceforth–which makes the week a bit more palatable for me; I won’t be tired and sleepy from Tuesday on anymore. Here’s hoping.

I want to kick my writing up a notch or two, push myself harder. Fingers crossed.

Here’s an Easter Sunday hunk for y’all.

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I Wish It Would Rain

Saturday morning in the Lost Apartment and it looks lovely outside. I may clean the windows today. I have to get the mail, pick up some prescriptions, make a grocery run, and I also want to get the car washed, and of course, as always, there is laundry to do. I also want to spend some time reading today, and cleaning the kitchen and living room. Yes, I am feeling rather ambitious today; we shall see how it turns out.

I forgot my book (The Nest) at the office on Thursday night; I worked at the other office yesterday and it’s French Quarter Fest, so getting down to Frenchmen Street would be a nightmare and would make me tired and cranky, so I decided to just start reading another book–Ben H. Winters’ Underground Airlines, recently named a Thriller Award nominee for Best Novel. I’d always intended to read The Underground Railroad and Underground Airlines back-to-back for comparison sake; I forgot and started reading something else when I finished reading the Whitehead. The Winters book was controversial when it was released; it, like the Whitehead, is sort of magical realism/alternate history; Winters’ premise is that the Civil War was never fought as yet another slave-owner appeasement compromise was reached in 1860 that prevented secession and the war; and other compromises were reached over the years since. It’s an interesting concept, and at the time the book was released there was some controversy; the main character is a free man of color who works as a slave-catcher. I’m not very far into it, but it’s well-written and I’m enjoying it thus far.

I also got a lot of work done on “Quiet Desperation” this week; the story is now well over four thousand words. I stopped working on it the other day (Thursday, to be exact) because I felt that I was getting impatient and rushing the ending, so I decided to pull back from it for a few days and then get back to it over this weekend. I also think the story may have meandered a bit. The goal is to finish it and the chapter of the new Scotty I’ve been working on, so I can really get going on both the Scotty book and another short story next week. Ambitious goals, yes, but do-able.

And I want to get to the gym tomorrow morning.

A truly ambitious plan for the weekend, no?

We’ll see how it all works out, won’t we?

Here’s a hunk to see you through your Saturday.

Turn Around, Look At Me

Well, in perhaps the most exciting news (at least for me) of the week thus far, I actually wrote fiction yesterday.

Hurray!

I think writing that essay finally on Monday flexed the atrophying writing muscles, because yesterday I opened my document of “Quiet Desperation” and wrote well over fifteen hundred words in a very short period of time, until I was interrupted. Of course, once interrupted the flow stopped–which is why interruptions annoy me so very much. I might have even finished the story had I not gotten interrupted…but the great thing is that in writing so much on it today, I also was able to figure out how to finish it and what the core of the story is; what I am trying to say. Whether I will succeed or not remains to be seen–but it’s yet another one of those stories about a writer. I’m not sure why I keep writing these stories about writers, but it’s also what I suppose I know the best. But I like the direction “Quiet Desperation” is taking, and I’m also enjoying working on Scotty again–I also managed over a thousand words on the new book yesterday, which made me feel terrific. Even after all the writing I’ve done over the years, when you hit a fallow stretch or period, when you don’t feel like writing, or you do and you can’t, there’s always this terror that the well has, indeed, finally run dry; followed by constant self-reassurances that always ring hollow–because the only thing that can make that terror go away is actually writing something.

So, thank you, Sisters in Crime, for kicking me in the ass and getting me to write that overdue essay. I think I’m over the hump now–and I am really looking forward to writing today.

I am tired, though. Wacky Russian basically made me do legs today, the bitch, and so even though my legs are usually fried from the small leg workout I get every time, today they are particularly tired and sore, the bastard. That’s okay, though. I think I am going to go in on Saturday and do legs on my own, some cardio and maybe some stretching. I need to get in better physical condition.

And since it’s Wednesday, here’s a Hump Day Hunk for you as I head back into the spice mines.

Tighten Up

Ah, reality officially slapped me in the face this morning. Yesterday–while my first day back in the real world–I was still kind of in the Festival Bubble; reality didn’t seem quite real. Getting up at six this morning to come to work for a twelve hour day? Shit got real. I should have gone to bed at ten last night; instead I waited until eleven, which wasn’t the smart thing to do. I am not sleepy this morning, nor am I tired, but I am also not completely awake, either.

Heavy heaving sigh. I suppose tonight I shall have to try to go to bed early, and break this cycle once and for all.

There are, of course, worse things.

I am hoping to have a productive week, and next week I am hoping that I am going to start my increased and enhanced workouts at the gym as I attempt to get myself back into tip-top physical condition. I also intend to make a dentist appointment, get my bloodwork done, and see about getting another eye appointment; I feel like I already can’t see as well with the glasses I bought last year, which is endlessly annoying. Only this time, I think I am going to get a prescription for contact lenses–progressive ones, at that–because I can always get the prescription refilled at Costco after I exhaust my vision benefits. Work. That. System.

This week I want to edit three chapters of my secret project, write two chapters of the new Scotty, and finish two short stories–at least the first drafts. A friend of mine suggested to me this past weekend that I should put together a collection of my dark stories–crime and horror–and you know, I think I might actually have enough stories already to pull together as a collection, plus might have to write a couple of new ones. It’s a worthwhile project, methinks, to try to pull together. And I do like to write short stories, I just don’t think I’m very good at them–they certainly are harder for me (in a different way) than writing novels. The two stories I am working on are “The Terrortorium” (which was originally “Happyland”, but I really disliked that title) and “Quiet Desperation.” (Of course, the first is a rewrite and the second is an entirely new story, ergo–more fun to work on, and more difficult, but in a different way.)

I find myself writing, or at least thinking about writing, about writers more frequently these days. I’ve tried to avoid that trope (although Stephen King has written about writers a lot, and has done so extremely well) for most of my career, but I find myself going that way more and more lately. It’s something I am incredibly familiar with, for one thing, and I also know a lot of writers (not that I want to write about people I know, of course). I think the first time I wrote about a writer was in my short story “Annunciation Shotgun,” and since then I’ve kind of created a writer character who’s kind of a stand-in for me in some ways; he was the narrator of my story “An Arrow for Sebastian,” and I kind of used him again in both The Orion Mask and Garden District Gothic (Jerry Channing is his name). I find myself sometimes thinking about short stories and novels about writers, and I default to him…I even have an idea for a stand-alone novel about him. So…we shall see. Even “Quiet Desperation” is about a writer–although most definitely not Jerry.

Not sure what that’s all about, but there you have it.

And now, back to the spice mines.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I worked late last night, and despite being tired, I wasn’t able to sleep until much later than I’d have liked, and as such I overslept this morning. Which, of course, has now thoroughly screwed up my sleep schedule. This is frustrating, because I’d reset my body clock to go to bed early and wake up early; this was in preparation to start going to the gym in the mornings before work starting next week.

Well, I suppose it’s okay; this weekend was going to screw it up anyway.

I have some errands to do today before heading down to the Quarter; some neatening and straightening of the Lost Apartment (the work being done on the upstairs is finally finished, so things can be put back the way they are supposed to be). I also am going to the Riverwalk Outlet mall to buy a new outfit for tonight’s parties (a little treat to myself), but I don’t feel awake and energetic the way I did when I was waking up early this week. Very annoying.

But last night I did start writing my story “Quiet Desperation” in my head, which is a good thing. It’s a great idea, and now having the right tone for it…well, that’s just perfect, you know? Finding the right voice for a story is everything. (I think I actually got the voice for “The Terrortorium” right yesterday, as well. Whew. Such a relief.)

I also have to got to Costco at some point; maybe Sunday morning, maybe Monday before work. We shall see.

All right I need to get a move on, take my vitamins, eat some breakfast, get cleaned up, pack some shit for the weekend. I doubt I’ll be checking in much over the weekend, everyone, so if not…see you on the other side.

Here’s a pair of hunks to slip you into the weekend.

Sunshine of Your Love

Wednesday! The week is almost half over!

Well, more than half for me, since I am taking Friday off. I dropped Paul off at the Monteleone this morning–it’s not like him not being home is going to be different, I’ve barely seen him these last few weeks anyway–on my way into the office and am still riding a bit high on the endorphins triggered by my workout with Wacky Russian this morning. I slept really well last night–I even went to bed at nine thirty (!) because I didn’t feel so well…and woke up only twice throughout the night before going back to bed. It was kind of awesome, actually; I’ve been sleeping so well this week that I hope this continues. After the TWFest/S&S weekend, I am going to commit to continue to eat healthy (I’ve lost nine pounds so far since Carnival) and make it to the gym a few more times a week. It just means going to be earlier and getting up earlier. Without Paul being home at night this week I’ve been able to get to bed early; once this is all over again I am going to commit to working out more frequently as well as continuing to eat healthier with a goal of being between 190-200 pounds by Labor Day weekend. As I am now at 216 or so, I should think I would be able to do this with a concerted effort over the summer.

It can be done. It can. And it will. It must.

Of course, this means none of my clothes will fit, but hey. There are worse things. And my pants are already too big from the weight loss I’ve managed so far.

I also need to take advantage of the massage gift certificate Paul gave me for Christmas.

The writing hasn’t been going that well this week, at least not so far. I got some disappointing news yesterday about a project I was very excited about, but these things happen. You can’t take them personally, but when you’re already having a bad writing week having something fall through due to no fault of your own–and frankly, I do think there was some shady shit going on there–it can create a spiral. I feel better today about things, frankly, and ready to get some work done. I am going to do some editing and maybe some brainstorming with the Scotty book–it needs some more thought before I can really get it going–and work on that pesky other short story. I may even edit one of my others and submit it somewhere. Why the fuck not?

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

Here’s a Hump Day hunk for you, CR.

Everyday People

I am sore this morning, but it’s the good sore–the one where you’re aware that you worked out but not so much that moving is a challenge. Tonight I am going to go see Colson Whitehead speak, which is going to be amazing. I also realized yesterday that TWFest and Saints & Sinners are literally in two weeks. GAH. Where did this year go?

I am really looking forward to this weekend, I must say. I am hoping to get to the gym on Saturday to do some cardio and maybe even some light weights. The St. Patrick’s Day parade is Saturday, which means all of Uptown will be pretty much a traffic snarl for most of the day, so running errands is completely out of the question–I will have to do that on Sunday (hello, Costco!) so Saturday will be a ‘clean the house/go to the gym/write’ day.

Oh, and SLEEP IN.

I also need to make a to-do list. I’ve kind of been floating through this week in a daze; I’ve done some reading and a very little bit of writing, and of course I’ve paid the bills and done all the adulting stuff one always has to do no matter how badly you don’t want to. I also just noticed that this weekend is when we lose the hour for Daylight Savings, which means I am going to be out of it next week too. Sigh. Hurray.

Heavy heaving sigh.

I also have to go shopping to buy some pants and maybe a new dress shirt for the Williams Fest. I have these amazing, snazzy shoes I never get to wear because of course everything formal or dressy I own is black and red (black pants, red shirts) and so I need something tan and pale blue to go with my cool shoes. I am going to go to the outlet mall at Riverwalk Mall and see what they have. I also need to get some every day wear and workout shoes. Sigh. It never seems to end.

And on that dull, boring note I am going to get back to the spice mines.

Here’s a shot of Michael Fassbender for you.