Free, Gay, and Happy

Probably the first clue that I wasn’t like other guys was that I loved to dance. There’s nothing like that feeling of freedom when you’re out on the dance floor and the deejay is playing one of your favorite songs to dance to, and you’re in a crowd of gay men, all moving to the same music but in vastly different stages of reality diminishment, from total sobriety to tipsy to buzzed to wasted to fried on a drug of some sort (you always could tell the difference between the drunks, those fried on a stimulant, and those on Ecstasy), and many of them with their shirts off and passing around bottles of poppers. Dance floors in gay bars always have a musty smell to them when they’re crowded, as though the man-musk from dozens and dozens of sweaty men has somehow seeped into the walls, the floor, the speakers.

That interesting mix of sweat, musk, cologne, cigarette smoke, and poppers that lets you know you’re in a gay bar, and pheromones are everywhere.

And of course, there’s today’s title, which was a great dance hit back in the mid-90’s; 1995, I think, to be exact?

Click here to hear the song.

God, how I used to love to dance.

I had no idea how to actually dance, of course. All I had was years of watching American Bandstand, Soul Train, and various teams of cheerleaders and pom-pon girls. The first time I went out onto the dance floor was when I was a junior in high school. It was a victory dance after we won a football game, and someone asked me to dance. And oh look, Greg actually can find a backbeat and knew instinctively to move to it–and that your upper body could move differently than your lower body. It was fun, I loved it, and people actually thought I was good at it, which made it even more fun. My junior and senior years of high school saw the rise of disco, and my first few years of college were during the height of the disco era. The little clubs and bars in Kansas I was able to get into, where I could drink beer till I was drunk and the music played and I could dance, weren’t Studio 54 or anything like that, but I could dance, and I would spend the whole night out there on the dance floor, sweating through my shirt and my bangs plastered to my scalp with sweat. I missed dancing, when we moved to California and I was no longer old enough to go out to bars, and when I was, I did want to go out dancing, but the 80’s weren’t a great time for dance music (in straight bars, any way), and the few times I was able to get to a gay bar, the music was much better and the dancing was way more fun…

The dance floor was, for a long time, the only place in a gay bar where I felt comfortable. This remained true even after I came out and merged my two separate lives into a single whole. Coming out was really just the first step towards accepting myself and figuring out who I was. I’d spent most of my life thinking there was something wrong with me, and that manifested itself in incredibly unhealthy ways for me emotionally and mentally. I’d always believed that coming out would solve all of my problems, but it didn’t; instead it created new problems to replace the old. I felt unattractive, overweight and unlovable. Every experience I had with another man only added to that sense of discomfort, that self-loathing that was still there in my head. I used to go to gay bars with co-workers, who would disappear as soon as we got there, out prowling for a cute boy for the night’s comfort while I just stood somewhere in a corner. I had a crush on this really hot bartender at a gay bar in Ybor City, Tracks, which is where we always used to go. He was always so friendly and polite and I na├»vely thought he might be interested…which was when I learned all gay bartenders are friendly and nice because they want to get tipped (and I never made that mistake again). The only time I ever felt comfortable or at ease was on the dance floor. I also convinced myself that I was unappealing, which was why no one ever approached me–or it was rare that someone did (I am too shy to ever approach anyone). I had an extremely unpleasant experience the summer I turned thirty-three, and that motivated me to reevaluate everything in my life and start over. I essentially burned myself to the ground and started over.

I still had the same shitty job, but if people thought I was out-of-shape and unattractive, well, I couldn’t change my face but I could change my body. I radically altered my life and started eating healthy and exercising. I even stuck to it. I lost a lot of weight in a very short period of time (which probably wasn’t healthy) and figuring (hilariously) that the possibilities of finding love and a relationship were already gone because I was thirty-three and still single (just goes to show what I know, right?), but everything changed. I also began to realize over the years that followed that I wasn’t ever approached back in the day because I wasn’t attractive but because I was giving off a bad vibe–how can you help but give off a bad vibe when you’re insecure and feel uncomfortable? It’s amazing what a difference a friendly, open smile makes. But it’s hard to look friendly and inviting when you don’t feel friendly or inviting or good about yourself. The on-going struggle with my self-esteem really started in earnest during this time of my life, and while those self-esteem issues have never truly been conquered, I started enjoying my life a lot more. I no longer felt like my life was something that just happened to me. I felt like I was making things happen for myself. And as my self-esteem continued to grow, I also found myself figuring out how to make the big dream–becoming a writer–come true.

And I also managed to find my true love in the process of finding myself.

I do miss dancing, but I don’t think I am capable of staying out late at night to dance. But I remember those days of dancing till dawn fondly, trying to flag down a cab in the cold gray morning light, drenched in sweat and shivering. It would probably take me a week to recover from dancing all night…and let’s face it, dancing all night was the best way for me to get cardio.

Beautiful Stranger

Wednesday and it’s Pay-the-Bills Day again; how does time pass so goddamned quickly?

We were in a flash flood advisory yesterday evening when I left the office, and on my way home I could see that at some point yesterday some of the streets I traverse every day had flooded at some point in the afternoon. I did get a little work done on the book yesterday, but was ultimately forced to surrender to fatigue and repaired to the chair. I was also still feeling some of the after-effects of the Anthony nominations being released on Monday–was still getting congratulatory posts and emails and messages, which I had to acknowledge; everyone is so kind and lovely. So many people are delighted and happy for me, which always comes as a surprise. I guess you never really outgrow the PTSD from being a queer kid?

But I also got to see this week’s Ted Lasso last night (they drop on Wednesdays, but we always can get it at 8 pm central on Tuesdays on Apple Plus) and it was maybe one of my top five episodes of the entire series. Yes, I’m partisan, and yes, I am prone to love anything well-done with gay themes and yes, I am also very highly critical of gay themes in film and television. Stop reading now if you want to avoid Ted Lasso spoilers. When it was revealed earlier in this final season that Colin was actually a deeply closeted gay player I got a bit excited. I’d wondered if the show would address homophobia in sports, and what’s it feels like to be a closeted gay professional athlete, and it was handled so beautifully. The scene with Trent Crimm and Colin talking about it in front of the Homomonument in Amsterdam was just brilliant, and then last week Colin’s friend Isaac grabbed his phone from him to delete nude photos (long story, but YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING) and of course saw his text conversation with his boyfriend. Isaac just gave him a disgusted look and walked away…and my heart broke a little bit for Colin. I know that feeling all too well–the friend who becomes a former friend once they find out or you come out to them (and yes, coming out is a process that goes on for your entire fucking life)–but it’s Ted Lasso–I knew this wouldn’t turn out badly, and it really didn’t. Yes, I am biased, but this episode is one of my favorites of the entire run of the series; everything was clicking and humming along the way it usually does–this season has felt a little uneven–and everyone was pitch perfect, from Roy to Ted to Keely to Rebecca to Higgins to even Nate, whose redemption arc I am enjoying. Yes, I was disappointed when he turned in Season 2, but I am delighted to see that he’s still the same Nate, still figuring things out but at heart a really good guy. And Roy’s growth and development–courtesy of a swift hard kick in the pants from Rebecca–is epic. The end game of the show is now in sight, and I think we’re all going to be delighted with the direction in which it’s going to go. I hope there’s a bit with Trent Crimm doing a book launch for his book on the season and Richmond and Ted’s philosophy of coaching. I cried a few times during last night’s episode, won’t lie–and I absolutely cannot wait to watch it again when I get home this evening. I have to run some errands on the way home–post office and prescriptions–but I am hoping I’ll get home and be able to have a lovely evening of writing before I wind up turning into a cat bed.

I don’t feel tired today although I had a relatively restless night of sleep–sorta sleep as I call it, where your mind feels sharp the next day but physically you’re tired. I need to start stretching (and yes, I know I’ve been saying this for months) but it does help keep you nimble and loose; the aches and tiredness comes from tight muscles, and the best thing to do with tight muscles is stretch them. Maybe I should put that on the to-do list? I didn’t want to get up this morning–the bed was incredibly comfortable and I felt really relaxed–but I can look forward to not getting up to an alarm on Friday morning.

And on that note, I am heading back into the spice mines. Thanks again, everyone, for all your kindnesses about the Anthony nominations; I still can’t believe it myself, you know? Three? Madness. Have a great Wednesday, Constant Reader, and I’ll check in with you again tomorrow.

Frozen

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.

Bad Girl

Ah, Malice Domestic.

My flight was a bit delayed yesterday–weather between New Orleans and Fort Lauderdale–and then got stuck in a lengthy cab ride in horrific DC traffic (which is why I never drove that miserable year we lived here), but over all it was pleasant. The flight wasn’t full, I had a row to myself, and the screaming infants on the other side of the aisle weren’t too obnoxious, and I got to read Ellen Byron’s Wined and Died in New Orleans, which I’ve been calling the wrong name for quite some time now, which is more than a little embarrassing (it’s because I’ve always wanted to write something called To Live and Die in La.–which is a play on the title of a crime film from the 1980’s I remember nothing of other than the title song was recorded by Wang Chung and I kind of liked it; and I think–could be wrong–Willem Dafoe was in the cast (I don’t care enough to look it up; you can access the Google just as easily as I can). Other than that, I don’t really remember a whole lot of it.

But I did make it to the hotel, got my registration packet, and then started running into friends–first up were Barb Goffman and Dina Willner; always a treat when the first people you run into are lovely people you enjoy–and then that first night became a bit of a blur; I wound up having dinner with Julie Hennrikus and Sherry Harris, then ran into Ellen Byron (see above) and then I wound up sitting in the bar with her, Vicky Delaney, Leslie Karst, and a couple of other lovely people whose names I do not recall. Then, very tired, I repaired back up to my room and actually slept decently (for a hotel; it would have been a ‘meh’ sleep night if I were at home). The bed is actually very comfortable, the room itself is nicely sized, but cannot comment on the shower yet, as I’ve not had one but no worries–it’ll be happening very soon.

It just feels very good to be around book people again. I kind of need that, you know? Writing is such a weird profession, in that you spend most of the your time isolated from your colleagues (co-workers, really) and even if you like near other writers…everyone is busy. We all have jobs on top of our writing, we all have families and homes to keep up and errands to do and the everyday minutiae that has to be done every day…and then you have to carve out time from all of that to do your own writing. I try to be very jealous of my writing time and always try to protect it, which was always an issue before. And yes, there are many times when I’ll find something else–anything else–to do other than write, I really don’t understand it, but almost everything I love to do is something I have to make myself do. I have to make myself go to the gym. I have to force myself to write…although that usually happens when the other option is so odious that writing is preferable. But once I get started–when I finally get started–I love it. Just like the gym. I always feel so good afterwards (that endorphin rush is so marvelous)…which reminds me, I want to start taking walks every day when I get home from work, even if it’s just around the block or down to the park and back, I should spend more time outside, really.

I should do a lot more things.

But I already feel invigorated and inspired, which is really the primary benefit (for me) of coming to these things. Even yesterday on the flight I was putting Ellen’s book aside from time to time so I could scribble an idea into my journal. That’s very cool. I think this morning I’ll probably take a shower and then spend some time editing the new Scotty because I may not get another chance to work at all and I am running (as always) out of time,

So on that note, Constant Reader, I will bid you adieu. My panel tomorrow morning is early, and I have to leave for the airport relatively early on Sunday morning, too, so…this may be the last you hear from me until Monday. Can you go two days without me, Constant Reader? Chin up! You can do it. And besides, you know me. I’ll probably post something anyway.

Rescue Me

Sunday morning and it looks to be a lovely day out there today. Yesterday, while I ran my errands, I was regularly amazed at how nice of a day it was, and how I wished I could take full advantage of it. It would have been a wonderful day to take a walk. Instead I was inside doing stuff and trying to get everything under control; the apartment mess, the book, and so forth. I have a long day in the spice mines ahead of me today, too. I also cannot believe that I’ll be at Malice this week; leaving on Thursday morning. I’ll need to make a packing list, of course, and I am looking forward to all the lovely plans I have for that weekend. I know I’m having dinner with some friends on different evenings, and brunch with another friend on Saturday after my signing, and of course Saturday night is the banquet.

I slept pretty well last night, and was already awake when the caterwauling began this morning. I stayed in bed for a little while longer after getting His Majesty’s breakfast for him, but finally decided to stop avoiding getting up and getting back to work. SO here I now sit, with a cup of steaming coffee in front of me, trying to decide what to have for breakfast. Toast? Cereal? A sausage, egg and cheese croissant out of the freezer? Or nothing at all, which is also always an option. I’ve also got some mess here in the office area I need to take care of this morning as well before I can really and truly dig into the manuscript.

We finished the second season of P-Valley last night, and got caught up on Yellowjackets, too. This means tonight we don’t have anything to watch–I am going to suggest we watch A Knock at the Cabin, and maybe the latest Scream is streaming already? I don’t know. I enjoyed P-Valley; I always kind of like shows about marginalized people doing what they need to in order to survive, as well as getting the occasional shot at higher stakes than usual. The next season is already set up so we’ll be watching out for that in the near future, but what I really want to see is the second season of Reacher. I did go up into the storage attic yesterday and found a box that can go directly to the library sale; alas, then I remembered I won’t be in town for the next two Saturdays so there was no point to bringing the box down. I also made the decision yesterday that I am most likely going to just go ahead and destroy my papers. I’m tired of having them around, frankly, taking up space and collecting dust, and no one is ever going to want to look through all that crap anyway. It’s all disorganized and scattered and in no particular order; who is going to ever have the time or inclination to go through all of that shit? And almost everything I have on paper is available electronically. There may be some things, some older manuscripts, that I no longer have electronic versions of anymore because the programs have aged out; old Word files and old operating systems no longer open with current systems anyway. But if I can clean out all that paper, and donate all those books in the attic, I can store other stuff up there and alleviate the clutter in the apartment itself. That is the plan for the rest of the year; and hopefully by December I’ll be able to close out the storage unit.

There’s a lot of files in my filing cabinet I can dispose of, too; I don’t need all my tax records going back to 2007, for sure (I saw them in there yesterday when filing away this year’s return) and do I really need contracts for short stories going back to 2000? Probably not. Anything where the rights have reverted back to me can certainly be tossed, and old file folders for ideas that may never go anywhere at this point might as well be discarded as well. I just really felt, yesterday, very strongly, for the first time utter and total disgust with all of this clutter and stuff. I’m thinking about it because of course my sister and nieces are helping my dad go through Mom’s stuff and things, and she was a bit of a packrat who didn’t like to throw things away as long as there was still a use for them–clothes and so forth, as well as papers; they found the receipt for the first washer and dryer she ever bought, back when we moved to the suburbs in 1971 and how pleased and delighted she was to no longer have to drag everything to a laundromat (kind of how I was when I got my first ones in 2005–there was something adult like about buying appliances, you know?) and realizing I don’t want anything to have to sort through all of this shit when I die; may as well make it as easy as possible for the survivors, whoever they may be.

Grim to be thinking in those terms, but once sixty is in your rearview mirror, you need to start thinking that way. How much mess is someone going to have to deal with when cleaning out my home? I’ve always been singularly unprepared for almost every life-changing thing that has happened to me; maybe I should actually prepare for this one. No worries, everything is still working the way it’s supposed to and while my working parts may not work as well as they used to, but overall I am still relatively healthy. And I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of regular trips to the gym next month as well.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. I’m going to finish this, drink some more coffee, finish all this filing, and get cleaned up so I can dive headfirst into this revision. You have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and I’ll check in with you again tomorrow.

Express Yourself

Sunday morning and I am feeling good, I think. I stretched yesterday a little bit and used the back roller thingee, which made me feel a lot less tense and tight and may have helped me sleep better. I feel good this morning, after a very deep and relaxing night’s sleep. If that was a result of a brief time stretching and using the back roller, well, I am more than willing to spend five or so minutes every morning doing just that. I don’t feel tense this morning, and I feel like a lot of stress stored up in tight muscles that have been ignored for far too long. Regardless, I will be doing some stretching again this morning once I’ve finished this.

LSU’s Gymnastics team didn’t do so great at the Nationals–fourth out of four– but hey, just the fact they made it to Nationals was a victory; they lost one of their major stars to injury, a secondary star to another injury, and several other solid performers were out for the season as well from a team that didn’t make it out of Semi-Finals last year. LSU is killing it in sports right now, and with football season just a few months away, this is a very exciting time to be an LSU fan, to be honest. GEAUX TIGERS! And next year’s team will be even better and stronger than this year’s. A very good time to be a Tiger fan.

I ran errands yesterday, mostly to the post office and to make a little groceries. I came home and spent some time rereading MRM until it was time for the Gymnastics. I also spend some more time yesterday morning with Scorched Grace, which I am taking my time with to savor every word and sentence; it’s that kind of amazing book with such extraordinary language choices and structuring and style. It’s hard to believe this amazing work is a debut, and more than a little humbling for someone who’s working on book forty-something. I really look forward to finishing it and sharing my thoughts and impressions with you, Constant Reader. After the Gymnastics and dinner, we started watching something new, since we’d finished our last show already, and Paul chose P-Valley, from Starz; which I remember hearing about when it debuted, but not much since. A strip club in the Mississippi Delta area–known for its poverty–wasn’t something I’d usually be interested in. But I’d also heard good things about it–what little I’d heard, that is–and so we started watching. At first it reminded me a bit of Showgirls, in its rawness, its insane dialogue and story-lines, but the second episode really pulled us into it and now we’re all about Mercedes, Uncle Clifford (the gender non-conforming club owner), and Autumn.

The plan for today is to put away some things in the kitchen (I got a little lazy about put away the sundries when I got home from the store yesterday) and then most likely spend some time with Scorched Grace this morning before getting cleaned up and diving headfirst into the book. I am, of course, as always terribly behind, which isn’t a good thing at all. But focus and a strong push should get me through this revision. Fingers crossed I stay not only motivated but rested, what do you think? It rained a lot yesterday–it even rained over night–so there’s this damp chill in the air this morning which makes me, frankly, want to get back into bed under the covers. But I am going to resist my natural inclination to laziness and get back to reading and writing and getting things done and taken care of and tearing through the rest of my to-do list. (And if I feel this good after some minor stretching yesterday, imagine how good I’ll feel once I start lifting weights again…)

So yes, I am behind on everything as always, but this morning I feel like life is full of infinite possibilities, and I am feeling very optimistic about everything and my capacity and capability of getting everything done that I need to get done. It’s amazing what a difference a really good night’s sleep can make, isn’t it?

And on that note, I am heading to my chair with Margot, my coffee, and Scorched Grace. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader.

Spotlight

And here we are on Friday at long last. This week seemed to last forever, didn’t it? It did to me. I remember thinking with a groan on Tuesday night that it was only Tuesday somehow, and the same thought on Wednesday. But we did it, we made it, and it was marvelous in our eyes.

I somehow managed to get everything to my amazing accountant, who got my taxes done in record time–she is so worth every penny I pay her, seriously–so here’s hoping that I get my cash before the trip to Malice, how marvelous would that be? My financial situation is improving month to month, but the progress is always so much slower than I would prefer it to be, you know? There will be another big shift at the end of the year, too, when the loan I took against my retirement to pay off my car (figured it was better to pay myself interest than paying it to the bank) so that automatic deduction from my check will stop in either November or December, which will be splendid. I’ve already dramatically cut back on my book purchasing–certain authors and books are exempted, but I am trying not to buy more books until I’ve made some serious progress into my TBR pile, which is enormous. I think when the revision of this book is finished, I am going to take a month and simply work on short stories to recharge and recalibrate my brain, while getting some serious reading taken care of in the meantime. My gym membership will be taken off the inactive list in May as well, and I think I’ll probably start listening to audiobooks when I go the gym and take walks and so forth. Sure, it may take me longer to get it listened to than when I am in a car on a long highway drive, but there are also shorts. I have four shorts by Lisa Unger downloaded to my Audible app, and those will probably do the trick.

So, I went down a wormhole that started the other day and now I have a substack. Did I want one? I don’t really think so, but I’d seen that they’ve added something similar to Twitter, and I wanted to keep seeing a friend’s tweets (they were trying out the new Substack function), and one thing led to another and now I have a Substack page. I’m not really sure what it’s for, to be honest; I archived my newer blog to it and tried to archive the old one to it, but it didn’t work. I think I know how to do it now, but am also not terribly sure I need to move that over there as a back-up or not. I’d like to have it archived somewhere besides Livejournal, but it’s like twelve years of entries and what an enormous pass in the ass it would be to do it manually (which I will not be doing; I can’t even keep up with my computer files, for fuck’s sake, let alone downloading twelve years of almost daily entries, one by one. Just the thought chilled my blood, frankly. So, I have a substack now, not sure why or what it’s for or what I will use it for (maybe I’ll come up with a plan so that it promotes me, which this blog has never really done–it really is a wonder I have a career, seriously).

I slept really well last night. LSU’s women’s gymnastics team qualified for Nationals by winning their semi-final yesterday afternoon; the “Four on the Floor” are LSU, Florida, Utah, and Oklahoma. I would love it if they won, but I don’t know how good their chances are. Both Utah and Oklahoma were over 198 with their scores; LSU had slightly less than that. They also didn’t perform as well as they were capable of; the question is can they pull it all together this weekend and pull off the upset? LSU is also down one of their biggest stars as well as some of their other top athletes, and yet made the finals anyway. I suspect LSU is going to be a major power in the future (they’ve come close but have never quite gotten the brass ring), which is exciting for all of us down here in southeastern Louisiana. We watched the replay of the semi-finals last night after we both got home, and then I went to bed shortly thereafter. Today is work-at-home Friday, but I have a department meeting and a health fair (attendance required by our insurance) so I have to go into the office anyway for a little while anyway. I’ll run a couple of errands on my way home, and then may be in for the weekend, other than perhaps a grocery run on Sunday morning. This weekend’s primary focus is getting work done on the Scotty manuscript as well as other chores around the house, and maybe working on some odds and ends and getting those things quite caught up. It’s hard to believe that two weeks from today I will be waking up in Bethesda, Maryland, where I am attending Malice Domestic as an Agatha nominee (!!!!), which I still can’t believe. My peers have been very very lovely to me over the past year, which makes me incredibly grateful and is a little humbling at the same time. I don’t think I will win, but it’s still a big thrill and an honor; I certainly never thought I would ever be nominated for an Agatha Award.

And since I had done such a lovely job last weekend and during this past week of organizing and filing, I don’t have to spend a lot of time this weekend working on that. I am behind on the dishes, of course, and I need to go through the refrigerator again–and the floors need doing yet again–but I don’t think I have to spend as much time on chores this weekend as I usually do, and if I do spend some time on them, I will be that much closer to getting my house cleaned and under control at long last. I also need to make another sweep through the books again this weekend, and I do need to start working on clearing out the storage attic by bringing down a box of books and getting going (I may have to leave the house tomorrow, to drop off books at the library sale, if I am thorough) on that project. Financially, it makes more sense for me to clean out the attic and then start slowly emptying and cleaning out the storage unit–moving the stuff I want to keep out of it (my kids’ mystery series books and copies of my own books) and donating the rest to a library sale. Closing the storage unit will also be a financial boon for me, and bring me yet another step closer to solvency.

And on that note, I am going to get cleaned up and head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

Crazy for You

Sunday morning in the Lost Apartment and feeling fine. I did get sucker-punched yesterday morning; I got an email about Mother’s Day gifts already (isn’t it in MAY, for Christ’s sake?) and yeah, wasn’t expecting that tidal wave of sadness and overwhelming grief. However, I took that as a sign to walk away from my computer and get my errands run, which is precisely what I did. Sigh. I guess I have Mother’s Day and the holidays without Mom to look forward to this year. Yay? Sigh again.

Ah, well, it’s not like I’m the first person to go through this. Just because it’s new to me doesn’t mean anything profound, really.

Yesterday was a good day. I made some excellent progress on the book–the revision should be finished today, praise Jesus–and did get some things done. I made groceries and went to get the mail. I also dropped off two boxes of books to the library sale. I did some of the dishes and made some progress on the apartment, which was lovely. We got caught up on Yellowjackets and started watching The Night Agent on Netflix, which isn’t bad. It’s not great, either–it’s a spy show, involving skullduggery probably within the government structure–but it’s entertaining enough, and the lead actor (whose name I cannot recall) is handsome enough. And then I had a very lovely night’s sleep to top everything off. This morning I feel rested and relaxed–which is always a good thing–while for some reason Scooter wants to sleep in my lap while I am sitting here working this morning. I don’t mind, of course–he’s such a sweet thing, really; and he’s getting older, so I know that a day will come where I will regret not cuddling with him every time he wanted me to.

I’m not feeling burnt out, which is also a good thing. It’s hard to believe it’s April already–I’ve got to get my taxes ready–and already I am way behind on all of my plans for this year. That was to be expected–even under the best of circumstances I will always tend to get lazy and put things off–and of course I hadn’t counted on a death in the family, which has impacted me far more than I ever could have realized (I guess there’s no way of knowing until you actually experience it). I was thinking last night that now all of my surviving aunts and uncles, with one exception, are all widowed now; and the only one where both are still alive…well one probably won’t last much longer. I guess I am now understanding how my dad felt after his mother, the last in her generation, went; the time will come far sooner than I would like when my generation will be the oldest surviving one in the family. It’s a somber thought, and I guess I should also realize how lucky we are as a family that my generation is still intact.

Today LSU’s women’s basketball team plays Iowa for the national title. I probably won’t watch–I haven’t really enjoyed basketball much since the advent of the three point shot and the shot clock (which should give you an indication of how long ago that was), so it’s unlikely. I have to finish the revision today anyway, and the game is this afternoon, I think. I doubt I’ll be finished with the manuscript by then, either, and that’s the most important thing. Much as I would love to go read a book this morning as I rev up to write and revise, I’m not going to because of the danger of getting deeply involved in reading and I won’t want to put the book down and get back to work. Instead, I am going to finish the dishes and do some filing–gah, my computer files will take weeks to get organized, not to mention how bad I am with the paper files. I’d hoped to take a week off this summer to clean out the storage attic, divest myself of a lot of these paper files, and get rid of a lot more books, while also working to get my electronic storage straightened up. But I am going to probably have to use at least part of that week going to see Dad up north; I’ll just have to be a lot more efficient with my time than I usually am when I take time off, I suppose (good luck with that, right?). But I also plan to start being better about some other things in the meantime. I want to reactivate my gym membership for May, and in the meantime I want to start stretching several times a week as well as using that back-roller thing to loosen the muscles in my back (which are tight and knotted, imagine that). I also am going to have to baby myself when I go back because of this issue with my left arm, which is irritating, although I suppose all of this is part-and-parcel of getting older and the slow, steady slide into the grave.

LSU Gymnastics is also in the regional final tonight, too.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader, and I’ll check in with you again tomorrow–before I head to work.

Material Girl

Saturday and all is well within the Lost Apartment. I slept really well last night, and woke up early this morning. I guess I slept in yesterday till eight so today my body was all “what the hell, dude? GET UP”so I did. My coffee is brewing, and I have a lot to do today. I have errands to run later, cleaning to do, and writing to do as well. Paul has his trainer later this morning and will probably go to the gym after; he’s been really good about that since the Festivals are now over. As soon as my toe is fine again, I plan on starting up again. It’s been over a year, and I think I can hang with returning to the gym again, testing out my left biceps, and seeing how long it takes me to get back into the groove. I need to lose some weight–I’ve not weighed in months–but my shorts are getting to the point where they don’t really fit comfortably anymore and same with my jeans; getting back into shape and starting to eat a more healthy diet can’t hurt, either.

I got some good work done on the revision yesterday; my goal is to get it finished this weekend and turned back in so I can get back to work on another revision I have to get done quickly. This one will require a lot more work than the other, so here’s hoping I can get it all done in April. I really do want to get these out of the way so I can go back to the ones I really want to be working on. I went down a Michelangelo wormhole this week, thanks to the stupidity of the David statue controversy, and I really want to write that book at some point–not quite yet, I don’t think; it’s also going to require another trip to Italy. Paul and I are thinking about doing an Amsterdam-Berlin jaunt at some point; I’ve always wanted to see both cities. I’d also like to do Greece and Spain before I die, too; Egypt is probably never going to happen (Mom always wanted to see the pyramids), but that’s also fine. Who knows? I could die in my sleep tonight, too. And of course, I have always wanted to go to France, too. Heavy heaving sigh. Ah, well. As little as I enjoy traveling domestically, not so sure how I will do on another international flight.

We finished watching season three of Outer Banks last night and it was terribly disappointing. I’m not entirely sure what went wrong with this season, but it was nowhere near as fun as the first two. Without giving spoilers, the treasure hunt that has been the basis of the first three seasons ends with the third; with a potential set up for a fourth season that’s a whole new treasure hunt coming at the very end. I’m not sure if the magic will return, but I suspect the writers ran into the problem that so many do; you have to keep going bigger, and eventually it becomes farcical. The writing was particularly bad in this third season; so much that didn’t make sense, and of course they wasted the first half of the season setting up the second half, which then felt incredibly rushed and nonsensical and stupid. It was disappointing, of course–we’d been looking forward to its return, too. Ah, well. Now that A Knock at the Cabin is streaming, we’ll probably just watch movies tonight; The Pale Blue Eye is also something I’d like to watch.

And what a night for LSU yesterday, as the women’s basketball team won to make it to the National Championship game for the first time in school history, where they will be facing Iowa. That game is tomorrow–I also think it’s Iowa’s first time playing for the national title–but I am not sure that I’ll watch. I used to love basketball, but stopped watching when they kept changing the rules to try to make it more exciting. LSU’s Gymnastics team is competing for a shot in the final four in that sport as well; not sure if they’ll make it out of the group of eight, but you never know. GEAUX TIGERS! And the baseball team is kicking ass this year, too. Looks like that athletic director that replaced the idiot one who went along with all the program abuses (I also like to remind people he was the same guy who blew the Duke lacrosse case) knows what he’s doing.

I also want to spend some time with Margot Douaihy’s Scorched Grace this morning (her last name is pronounced like Hawaii–only with a d. Doo-wa-eee), which looks fantastic. I am taking books to the library sale this morning, and want to do some more purging over the weekend, too. I’m starting to feel. like i have my life back again–the gym is the last piece of the puzzle to snap back into place–and I’m kind of enjoying myself again. It’s been quite a ride since Mom’s initial stroke–the grief still sneaks up on me every once in a while–but I also hadn’t realized what a subconscious weight her health had put on my shoulders. I don’t clench up and my stomach doesn’t knot when I get a text message anymore. I guess with all the other weight I was carrying around from other things I didn’t really notice? I think my compartmentalization is probably not as healthy as I would have liked to believe. But you know, you live and you learn. I’m realizing a lot of things now about life (mine in particular) and seeing things I couldn’t see before. I think the past few months, with everything going on with Mom and all the writing I had to do and the readjustments at my day job, was just so much that I just was kind of coasting along, doing what I needed to get by and trying not to get overwhelmed by focusing on one thing at a time. I also think, hard as it was to be a Festival widow this year, that it was probably good for me to have all that time in the evenings to myself. I could have been a lot more productive, but I think that was also part of the grieving process?

I just feel sort of like I’ve been asleep for a long time and have finally woken up.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader; I certainly intend to!

Can’t Stop the World

Monday morning has rolled around again and I am up before the sun rises yet again. Neither brain nor body wanted me to get up and heed the siren song of the alarm, but there was no escaping the inevitably of getting up and heading into the office yet again. Yesterday was a mixture of days; I got things done in the morning but after making groceries, I was oddly tired and physically exhausted. I did manage to read a few more chapters of Cheryl Head’s marvelous Time’s Undoing, which is very good and I’m enjoying it a lot, even as I wince at the past sections set in 1929, at its unerring and accurate depiction of the Jim Crow South. I honestly, as a Southern man, see no problem with reading about Southern history accurately; and certainly, seeing Jim Crow through the eyes of people of Color is a reminder than no matter how bad I may have thought things were, it still wasn’t a reality I would have had to either face or deal with, and it was so much worse than I can ever imagine it–and I have a very vivid imagination. Yesterday’s exhaustion was unexpected and out of nowhere, particularly coming in the wake of two pretty good days and a good morning as well. But grief is sneaky like that, is never linear, and can literally come from nowhere. There’s also the issues involved with my bout of long COVID from last summer and how my energy levels have never really recovered from that, either.

And don’t even get me started on the memory issues.

I am hopeful for a good week; I know I’ll eventually start experiencing being tired from exerting myself at work; it’s interesting that someone with shyness issues like me has wound up working as a counselor–but one-on-one and with a purpose to the conversation makes it much easier than having a conversation with someone I’ve just met at a party. Small talk is literally my Kryptonite, and of course, being socially awkward is my lifelong jam.

I did rewatch Mildred Pierce last night on TCM after Paul went to the office, and once again I marvel at what a terrific film it was–melodramatic and over-the-top, for sure, but the addition of the murder rescued the movie from not working. I need to reread the book–it’s been a hot minute–but the one thing I’ve never really gotten from either is a sense of who Veda is and why she is the way she is; spoiled and rotten and manipulative. In order for Cain to get his point across about Mildred and her own obsession with mothering, Veda turns out to be horrible and one-dimensional; everyone sees that Veda is horrible except Mildred–obsessed with being the perfect mother and giving Veda everything, it’s also a smothering, all-encompassing kind of love that most teens would rebel against and struggle to get away from. I remember about ten years ago I wanted to write Veda’s point of view; either a retelling of the story from her point of view or a sequel to the novel (no murder, remember?) which picks up with Veda some years later, having parlayed her singing and musical talents into a film career. That’s one of the things I love the most about Cain’s work, really; so much can be read into it, and so many great ideas can be inspired by rereading his work. I’ve not read the entire Cain canon–that “never want to run out of books to read by any author” thing I struggle with–but I’ve read quite a bit. Chlorine is really my first real attempt to write a noir; I cannot wait to get back to work on that. It’s already been delayed for far too long, and once i get through these contracted books, Chlorine is going to be my focus.

Finally, right? LOL. But I do eventually get around to the projects I talk about writing for years, don’t I? I talked about the Kansas book for well over a decade before #shedeservedit saw print.

I think today is going to be a good day. I feel rested this morning, and I slept really well. The toe is still twinging; I am beginning to suspect it really is gout. I went to WebMD (which I always tell my clients not to do) and the list of foods to avoid? Everything I eat, basically. So, I am going to have to bite the bullet, schedule an appointment with my doctor, and get on with things, you know? I don’t why I’ve dithered and dicked around about this for so long, either. Just another thing I didn’t want to have to deal with so I kept kicking the can down the street, which isn’t wise. Nothing ever fixes itself, you know; a lesson I keep having to relearn over and over again. I also need to schedule an appointment with the hearing specialist, a dentist, and make an eye appointment while I am at it. Yay. But I need to start and keep up with all this routine maintenance, especially if I want to start going back to the gym in April. I also need to start doing push-ups, crunches, and stretch every day too. Maybe I will climb back on that horse this evening when I get home from the office; stranger things have happened in the past and will probably continue into the future as well. The kitchen is a mess, too; I made dinner last night, so when I get home tonight I’ll have to clean the kitchen again and maybe even get the rest of the straightening up taken care of as well. I am definitely going to be taking books to the library sale this coming Saturday, and I also want to wash the car this weekend and vacuum it all out. I also want to spend some more time with Cheryl’s book this evening. So, so much to do and work on and get done. I also have to start preparing for moderating panels for the two Festivals coming up in a couple of weeks…yikes.

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