Shut Up and Drive

Thursday morning and all is quiet and still in the Lost Apartment. Again, I didn’t want to get up this morning, but forced myself out–the constant whining from a hungry cat for the assist, seriously; he hasn’t shut up since I got up even though I have fed him–but that’s okay. I am taking tomorrow off because of Saints and Sinners, so being tired today is okay. I’m always tired by Thursday. I wasn’t that tired when I got home from work yesterday, so I was able to get some work done, which felt great–I also realized that after today I will be over halfway finished, with an end to the revisions in sight. It’s coming along very well and I’m quite pleased with it, and very happy I seem to have been able to get back into the groove after a very difficult period. I stopped by the post office to get the mail yesterday–some things I needed and ordered had arrived–and then came home to work for a glorious couple of hours before I started doing chores around here. I also watched the second episode of Ted Lasso, which I am still loving; I’ve seen some dissatisfaction on social media about the new (final) season; I have no quibbles or concerns with it so far. The show’s heart is still there, the character relationships are just as strong if not even more poignant, and I think they are taking us on a wonderful ride this final season. I love this show so much I don’t even wonder what’s going to happen or even speculate about it; I am more than content to simply enjoy the ride for what it is without looking ahead. (I don’t want to look ahead because I don’t want it to end.)

Tonight when I get off work I get to come home, do some more work on the book, and relax. Tomorrow I’ll move into the hotel for the night–I’m going to come home Saturday night to keep Scooter company, and then will commute back on Sunday before coming home in the evening. I also am probably going to try to do some organizing and cleaning before spending some quality time with Scooter in the easy chair. I also need to figure out what I am going to read from at the reading series on Saturday; but I can think about that tomorrow morning after I’ve slept in and feel a bit more rested than I do this morning. I slept pretty well last night; I pretty much slept through the entire night but I do remember waking up around one thirty in the morning before going back to sleep. But my coffee is jumpstarting my brain and body as I type this, and I am sure I shall make it through this day without a problem. I will probably just come straight home from work tonight; I can run errands tomorrow and get things done around the house before I head down to the hotel.

I’m looking forward to this weekend primarily to see people I’ve not seen in a hot minute. Some terrific crime writers are coming in for the weekend–Jean Redmann, Michael Nava, Cheryl Head, John Copenhaver, Marco Carocari, Shawn Cosby, and Kelly J. Ford, to name a few–and so am looking forward to seeing my crime fiction family as well as the other S&S regulars. I didn’t really do much last year because I was revising A Streetcar Named Murder, but this year I’ve managed to not be as far behind as I usually am at this time of year. (Make no mistake, though–I have a lot of catching up to do before May 1, believe you me.) Maybe when I get home tonight, after working, I can start reading something new. I haven’t decided on my next read yet, which is terrible since I finished reading my last book Sunday, and haven’t started anything new. I am almost finished with my years-long reading of Robert Caro’s The Power Broker, which has kind of turned into an Afghan War of sorts around the Lost Apartment; something that’s been going on forever with no end in sight. I think I am going to read something by David McCullough as my next major-length non-fiction read; either the Johnstown Flood or the Panama Canal one; I’ve not been able to decide but I think I have about another hundred pages or so of the Caro to go anyway so there’s plenty of time for me to decide.

I can’t believe March is almost over already, either.

I need to get my taxes done. Next weekend, for sure.

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

Rude Boy

And we’ve made it to Wednesday, Constant Reader! Isn’t it marvelous? Paul is moving into our suite at the Monteleone today; I will be moving (sort of) down there on Friday, but will be going back and forth between the Lost Apartment and the hotel over the weekend. Scooter is going to lonely and needy and definitely not happy, but who knows how their brains work and what their concept of time is? I am going to not head down to the Quarter until later in the afternoon on Friday anyway, and I’ll probably head back home after the reading/anthology launch on Saturday night before heading back on Sunday morning. I also have to do a reading on Saturday afternoon, so I probably should decide what I am going to read sometime before then and maybe practice a little bit?

I did get some work done on the book yesterday (huzzah!) which always feels good, and overall, outside of how cold it was at work (seriously, it felt like we were working in a refrigerator at the office yesterday; my knit cap was on most of the day), was a pretty good day. Yay for good days! I’m starting to feel more like myself than I have in a very long time, which is pleasant. I was beginning to think old Gregalicious was gone for good, another casualty of a pandemic, a crumbling society, and too much change too fast in too short a time. It’s nice to have the old Greg feeling again’; one where I am not stressed and have anxiety non-stop and can actually come home from the office, do some chores and some writing, and then relax in my easy chair with a purring kitty sleeping in my life and actually not feel guilty for not doing anything.

Because you know , sometimes you just have to do nothing. And enjoy it.

I went down another research rabbit hole the other day, too–I really want to write a book set in a foster-care home or an orphanage; crime or horror or some combination of both. One popped up on Facebook the other day on one of my old New Orleans pages; I think ain’t there no more is the page. Anyway, there was a Catholic boys’ orphanage in the area (actually, it was Marrero, so on the West Bank) called Hope Haven, where the boys were emotionally, physically, and sexually abused for years. (Thank God it’s closed now.) But it hits all my sweet spots, especially with the Archdiocese and the Catholic Church as the villains of the piece. And of course it was closed down after the scandals started hitting, about ten years ago.

I slept okay last night–not the greatest; I didn’t want to wake up this morning and I feel sleepy still, which means I’ll be dragging unless coffee comes to my rescue. I suppose I should be grateful that this is the first iffy night’s sleep I’ve had in a while. A lot of it, I think, has to do with Paul packing last night. I had already gone to bed by the time he got home, and he started packing once he was here. I woke up when he came home, and then had some issues falling back asleep but finally did. But here I am, forced out of bed at an ungodly hour, gradually and slowly waking up as I slurp my coffee and hope that time will slow down so I can put off going into the office. It’s really more the getting ready and driving over there that I dread more so than actually getting to the office, being there, and working. I just wish today were Thursday already, so the weekend would be closer. I am taking Friday off, so I don’t have to worry about any working-at-home duties, and can just spend the day at home doing things and getting packed and prepared to head down there before I actually do.

And of course, Paul won’t be coming home tonight or tomorrow, so Scooter is going to be needing lots of attention, so after I get home tonight and do some work–it’ll be over to my easy chair to be a cat bed for the rest of the evening.

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

Hate That I Love You

Tuesday and we survived Monday, Constant Reader–that has to count for something, doesn’t it? Actually, it wasn’t that bad, to be honest. I slept decently and woke up without problem with the alarm, and didn’t feel tired for most of the day. I had a highly productive day at the office, and then I came home and worked some more on the manuscript, which I am really starting to feel good about, believe it or not. I like my characters and I like the story, and I like that it isn’t set in either Uptown or the French Quarter or–where I always go–the Lower Garden District is always the default for me. This time out I set the book in the 7th Ward, on what we used to say was the “wrong side” of St. Claude (this is also the neighborhood where my office building is now, on Elysian Fields); even now people say this neighborhood is “unsafe”; and yes, we’ve had some instances where there was gunfire outside and we went into a code and locked down the office. Maybe I just have a false sense of security–which won’t change until something bad happens to me, as usual–but I never feel all that unsafe either going to or from my car before and after work. (I also love that realtors are trying to rebrand the neighborhood as ‘the new Marigny.” Um, no, it’s not and there’s no such thing as the ‘new Marigny.’)

I also slept well last night, which is great. I feel rested and relaxed this morning, but I also have to see clients today. I’ll probably be a bit tired when I get home tonight; seeing clients can drain you a bit, which is why I don’t see clients four days a week instead of three. I got some more work on the book done yesterday, and hope to get further along today as well–no relaxing until I get my work done tonight. I had a ZOOM meeting last night so I wasn’t able to get as much work done as i would have liked–still behind, of course, as always–but I am pretty happy with the work I am doing and how the manuscript is coming together, which is always lovely. I’m not hating the manuscript as I work on it, which is kind of a nice change, overall. Maybe I have finally gotten less self-loathing about my own work, after twenty-odd years? Nah, that can’t be it! Maybe I just feel centered for the first time in a long time? That is more likely.

It’s been a time, there’s no question about that. Mom’s health had been declining for years, so that was always weighing on the back of my mind, no matter how hard I tried to not think about it or even consider the possibilities inherent in recognizing that her health was failing; there was a pandemic and a dramatic shift/change in my day job; and of course I was doing a lot of volunteering around writing and trying to keep my authorial career going at the same time. I’m surprised I didn’t have more mental breakdowns over the last few years, in all honesty. It’s no wonder I was low energy, depressed, and tired all the time. There were paradigm shifts happening everywhere in my life, and I was completely unprepared for any of them, either physically or emotionally or intellectually. I don’t remember writing the books I wrote since the shutdown three years ago; Bury Me in Shadows, A Streetcar Named Murder, #shedeservedit–I remember the young adults because I’ve been working on them for years before I sold them; but the revision process? The editing? I don’t remember a fucking thing. I do worry some about how my brain works now; one thing that has definitely happened over the last three years is a complete loss of remembering how to deal with the ADHD, so focusing is a lot harder than it used to be. I don’t know if that’s related to the ten-day COVID I had last summer, or if it’s because of all the changes and shifts, or maybe it’s even a combination of all those things. I don’t know, but I know I haven’t been functioning at full brain capacity for quite some time now, and I am starting to feel normal (or what passes for that around here) for the first time in a long time. More like myself, I should say, rather than normal; I’ve always taken great pride in not being normal–once I accepted it.

But I also don’t remember much of my life post-Katrina, either; there are years after Katrina that are foggy memories, if that. It shouldn’t come as a surprise (or a shock) that things that occur during times of trauma and stress don’t go into the permanent memory bank (which isn’t as big and powerful as it used to be). I should be used to it by now, right? But I don’t think you ever get used to traumatic events, and your brain just figures out the easiest way to get through it all without causing more trauma, and if that means not remembering things that happen, well, who am I to question how my twisted brain works and functions?

I’m just glad it’s still functioning, really, even if it is all over the place.

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.

Pon de Replay

Monday and back to the office with me this morning.

I slept very well last night and woke up quite easily. The weather took a turn for the colder over the weekend (yay)–the high today is a bitter 54–which makes it harder to get out of bed in the morning, but at least the heat is working properly; it really has made a significant difference getting that new system two or three years ago. I got some work done yesterday–good work, at that–and also managed to finish reading Bobby Mathews’ Living the Gimmick, which was quite fun; a nasty little hard-boiled tale of murder and vengeance behind the scenes of professional wrestling. More on that later, but it was a fun, tightly written little story. Now I’m trying to decide what to read next–either Christopher Bollen’s The Lost Americans, or Margot Douahy’s Scorched Grace, or Ellen Byron’s Wined and Died in New Orleans. A virtual plethora of excellent options. The Festivals are of course this weekend and I have to get my weekend planned, including reaching out to my panelists (I’m moderating a panel on Sunday) and of course, there’s always editing I need to get done. I’ll be commuting, so we don’t have to board Scooter, which will be a bit of a pain, especially if it’s cold (note to self: check weather forecasts for the weekend). Scooter is being a needy kitty this morning, he’s up on my desk and purring, but every time I put him into my lap he climbs back up on the desk and then of course gets between me and the screen wanting to give me headbutts while he continues to be an out of control purring machine. (Why he doesn’t want to be cuddled up with Paul in our incredibly comfortable and warm bed remains a mystery for the ages.)

The revision isn’t going as quickly as I would like, frankly–but it’s going and it’s going well; I am starting to pick up momentum with the revision and would love to have it finished before the weekend, but I don’t think that’s going to happen, unless I really stay rested and motivated and don’t get worn out during the day at work, which happens–especially when you’re getting up at six every morning during the week. My big fear here is that I’ll be very tired when the weekend rolls around, which isn’t good. Maybe I’ll take Friday off, so I can sleep late and not have to worry about being tired? That’s the day I’ll have to take a Lyft to the hotel with my little bag so I am there. I’ll probably stay down there Friday night, come home Saturday night, and then head back down there for Sunday afternoon and then back home yet again.

We started watching the new season of Ted Lasso last night, which is marvelous (I’d already seen the first episode–impatience, of course– but was more than happy to rewatch it with Paul); it really might be one of my favorite comedy series of all time, if not the absolute favorite (Schitt’s Creek is still up there), and it’s just as charming as ever. I’m curious to see how the season goes, especially since it’s going to be the last season–but I hope the talk of spin-off series for some of the characters comes to fruition; although whether the strong characters can tentpole a show of their own remains to be seen. I am confident that both Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple could spin off into their own quite easily; the others I’m not as confident about, to be honest….although a Sam and Rebecca (how Cheers of them!) spin-off could be quite lovely.

And we still have the whacked out, over the top joy of Outer Banks still to watch, too. Huzzah! Now if we can only live through this coming weekend and survive…

Its a bit hard to believe the first quarter of the year is coming to a close, and DAMN IT, I have to get my taxes organized and done, don’t I? Put that at the top of the to-do list for post-Festival. Heavy heaving sigh. I really should keep track every month, update a spreadsheet with the expenses for the previous month, and then at the end of the year it would all be ready to go, wouldn’t it? But why on earth would I ever do anything that would make my life easier in any way? Self-defeating, as always; I shall probably go to my grave wondering why I sabotage or undermine my abilities to succeed and/or get ahead and/or act like an adult. Ah, well, today and tonight I am going to try to get myself better organized and make a game plan for moving on with the rest of the year.

And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines. Sorry to be such a crashing bore on a Monday morning, but that does seem about par for the course, does it not? See you tomorrow!

Little Lies

Sunday morning rolling around like a marble in the Mousetrap game–do they still sell that? We never had that game when we were kids–I remember having Clue, Monopoly, Life, and Chinese checkers, but never Mousetrap. We were a game family, often playing cards–Rook, Hearts, Spades, and Pinochle were enormous favorites within the family–and much later adding Uno and Trivial Pursuit (although no one will pay Trivial Pursuit anymore because I always win; and have even won on my first turn). Yesterday was kind of a lovely day, overall; I slept deeply and late, got up and did some things around the apartment; soaked my toe and slathered topical gel over it all day; read Bobby Mathews’ quite marvelous Living the Gimmick for a while, and worked. (Bobby’s book is really good, y’all) The work wasn’t easy but it also wasn’t difficult; in fact, I was kind of enjoying myself, which for me is lovely and encouraging. I do have to run out to the grocery store at some point today, but I’m not going to get terribly worked up and/or upset about it. I slept decently last night; I feel rested this morning but managed to get up early and am hoping that today will be a good, productive one.

The Lefty Awards were given out last night in Tucson: I lost Best Humorous to Ellen Byron and her delightful Bayou Book Thief; Kellye Garrett won Best Novel for Like a Sister; Wanda Morris won Best Historical for Anywhere You Run; and Ramona Emerson won Best Debut for Shutter. Congratulations to everyone! It was both a thrill and a surprise to be nominated in the first place, completely unexpected, and just a bit sad that the “race” is over. I can’t imagine being nominated another time, to be honest, but am very grateful for everyone who included A Streetcar Named Murder.

I still get to enjoy being an Agatha nominee for another month, though.

Yesterday was pretty good, over all. I did get a lot done, and I was pleased with the work I got done. I’m feeling a lot better these days about everything, really; it’s hard for me to explain but it feels like I’ve been operating on autopilot since even before the pandemic started; like there was a dark cloud inside my head that I somehow managed to get things done, but it was harder than it used to be. I don’t feel like that dark cloud is there anymore, at least not since last weekend, and it’s delightful to be free of that whatever-it-was. Depression and anxiety, most likely; I know I’ve been worrying about Mom in the back of my mind for years now, and I still kind of tense up when I get a text message alert from my phone. I guess a lot of that worry has now transferred over to Dad, but he’s healthy–or at least has been so far. The grief comes and goes still–far less frequently than before–but it still happens from time to time that I’ll get a bit overwhelmed and have to go withdraw from the world for a while.

While I was waiting for Paul to get home and after I had finished working for the day, I decided to watch a movie instead of just endless scrolling through social media and looking for things on Youtube to watch. I couldn’t remember if I had seen Uncharted or not; I like Tom Holland and still kind of enjoy Mark Wahlberg (while admitting that he’s probably not a great person–it’s complicated), so I queued it up and started watching. As I watched, I began remembering things from it, so I had seen it before, just didn’t remember it. It didn’t take long for me to start punching holes in the plot/story, and I remembered that it became so far-fetched that I didn’t enjoy it. I was about forty-three minutes into it when I gave up; the entire premise that Magellan had a fortune in gold that somehow got lost (he didn’t; he didn’t stay anywhere long enough to amass such a treasure) was simply taken for granted without explanation; that’s the legend so we just don’t question it. Props for using an actual historical figure to give it more authenticity, but…it also lost me. We watched the SEC Gymnastics championships (LSU came in third, but it really was a matter of tenths of points), then finished watching Servant, which was interesting and different and strange and very well done before catching this week’s The Mandalorian, which wasn’t a particularly good one. I’m not feeling this season, to be honest; and of course the best part–Baby Yoda–hasn’t really had much to do except just kind of be there.

Such a shame about Uncharted, really. I love treasure hunts, but they are so rarely (outside of Indiana Jones and Romancing the Stone) featured in good movies that I’m always a little hesitant to watch one. I still want to do my Colin treasure hunt book sometime, but God only knows when. The Festivals are this week, so Paul will be moving into the Monteleone Hotel on Wednesday, most likely, and I’ll probably go down there on Friday. I’m going to have to commute, which isn’t going to be easy–the limping toe, for example–so we don’t have to board Scooter, and means I will probably be exhausted by the end of the weekend. So be it, seriously. I definitely need to make a to-do list today; I’ve been operating without one for quite some time and I think it’s necessary for me going forward to stay on track with everything,

And on that note, I am going to read some more Bobby Mathews while my coffee continues to warm me up. I have some chores to do around the house (as always) and I am going to run over to the Fresh Market at some point to get some things (not entirely sure what is needed, to be honest, with Paul going away on Wednesday), and so I must be busy and productive today. Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

Breakin’ Dishes

Well, it definitely is not gout, Constant Reader. The antibiotic cream prescribed by my doctor has made a remarkable difference with my toe since I started using it yesterday; this morning it isn’t even reddish anymore and bending it hardly is noticeably painful. AH, modern medicine, and sorry I doubted you, Doctor. I did get tired eventually last evening; shortly after finally finishing yesterday’s post I repaired to my easy chair where I watched a few more episodes of Netflix’ The Movies That Made Us, primarily the ones about Friday the 13th, Aliens, and Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s always somewhat lovely to revisit pop culture of the 1980’s, even though it was mostly a pretty shitty decade overall. The difference between 80’s movies and 70’s cinema was dramatic, as I learned during my Cynical 70’s Film Festival back during the early days of the pandemic when I was making hundreds of condom packs every day sitting in my living room during what I was never completely convinced weren’t the end times.

I do have some more cleaning and straightening up to do around here today around working on my book. Yes, I am definitely digging into the book today. I slept like the dead last night, and even stayed up later than usual (Paul came home before I went to bed) and slept an extra hour later this morning being a lag-a-bed until nine (the horror!). I’m feeling very well rested this morning on all three planes of existence–physical, emotional, intellectual–so it should be a great and highly productive day. It’s cold this morning–in the forties outside–and yesterday I had to turn the air on because it was stuffy in here and the clothes weren’t drying. Turn the air conditioning on and cool it down a couple of degrees and it made a significant difference. (I’m always interested in that weird range of temperature where it’s really not hot enough to need the air conditioning, but the air is thick enough so that clothes won’t dry unless it’s colder and the damp is taken out of the air; I also always sleep best on the night that I launder the bed linens) But I am going to have some coffee, do some straightening up here in the office, maybe read for an hour or so, and then get cleaned up and parked at my desk for however long I can stand it today. My coffee is tasting pretty marvelous this morning too; always a plus and always a good sign.

I also spent some time last night revisiting Vito Russo’s The Celluloid Closet in what was probably the first time in about thirty years, which is kind of terrifying when you think about it. I discovered Russo back in the day when I was discovering the rich culture and heritage of my community, when I was venturing into gay bookstores and had started reading the gay papers and magazines in search of my people and some sort of definition of what it meant to be a gay man in the United States at that time. The Russo book was the first seminal text in critiquing the entertainment industry and its participatory role in enforcing the homophobic standards of the times (if not helping to create those standards by the erasure of queer people and themes in entertainments). Russo set out to show how Hollywood’s erasure, or stereotypic rendering, of queer people served to enforce those social dynamics and mores that were suppressing our community and relegating those who identified as members of that community as outsiders, a lower caste, and separate from the dominant culture. I’d love to see a popular nonfiction version of Russo’s work that focuses on representation in crime fiction; I have neither the research skills nor the patience to write such a book myself. One of the things I enjoyed the most about the Russo book was finding out what films had queer content erased from their original source material; like the film Crossfire, about anti-Semitism in the military, was based on a book called The Brick Foxhole, which was about homophobia in the military; the murder victim wasn’t a Jewish soldier but a gay one. The alcoholic Ray Milland won an Oscar for playing in the film of The Lost Weekend drank because he had writer’s block; in the book he drank because he couldn’t handle his homosexuality in a homophobic society. The mini-series made from Dress Gray saved the reveal of the dead cadet’s sexuality for a plot twist at the end; in Lucien Truscott IV’s novel it was right there, revealed on page one and treated, really, throughout the entire book as not a particularly big deal (I’ve been meaning to reread Dress Gray; it was one of the few books I read as a teenager that didn’t treat homosexuality as a hideous moral failing, a massive sin, and/or something just revolting and disgusting, just as I’ve been meaning to reread Pat Conroy’s The Lords of Discipline–you just know there had to be a queer or two at Carolina Military Institute).

I also remember discovering queer mysteries for the first time at the gay bookstore in Tampa, and thinking you’ve always wanted to write mysteries, why don’t you write them with gay characters and themes? And thus the seed was planted–by Michael Nava, Richard Stevenson, and Steve Johnson–that grew into my becoming a gay mystery writer in every sense of the term: I’m gay, I’m a gay writer, and I write gay mysteries.

So, that’s where my mind was last night; thinking about the very limited queer rep I’d been exposed to as a reader growing up and how discovering gay fiction by gay writers about gay life and experiences–books–essentially changed my life and the trajectory of my writing. I think my writing began to improve when I started writing what I knew–the tired old trope of write what you know–because I was writing about my truths and experiences and feelings about being a gay man in a homophobic country; that was how I found authenticity and truth in my writing, and was able to extrapolate that outward into writing about other lives, other people, other experiences.

And of course, the Lefty Award banquet is tonight. I’m cheering on my friends and fellow nominees from afar. It’s a pleasure and a thrill to be nominated for Best Humorous Mystery; I never expected in a million years to ever be nominated for a Lefty and then it happened, so A Streetcar Named Murder continues on as my “first” of many things. I’m not sure which of the other four nominees will have their name called tonight, but it’s an honor to lose to any of my fellow nominees. (I also never thought I’d be nominated for an Agatha, and yet here we are; I’ve been having a hell of a twelve month period, am I not? Two Anthony nominations, a Lefty, and an Agatha; who’s a lucky Gregalicious?)

And on that note, I am going to make another cup of coffee and go curl up for a bit with a book for a little reading pleasure this morning before I go to work. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

Unfaithful

Well, this would normally be a work-at-home Friday blog, but we have a staff meeting that I have to go in for this morning, so there’s that. But we made it through another week, Constant Reader, and lived to tell the tale, which is marvelous, of course. I got to sleep an extra hour later this morning, which is lovely, and I am now having a quite delicious cup of coffee. The doctor doesn’t think I have gout; rather, he thinks it’s an infection of sorts, and prescribed an antibiotic cream. I am also supposed to keep the foot elevated as much as possible, as well as to soak it in hot water and epsom salts several times a day as well as taking Advil three times per day to get the rest of the swelling down. I’m glad it’s not gout, of course, but I’m also not certain that it isn’t. But we’ll see how it goes this weekend; if it’s all better by Monday I guess he was right.

I’m actually rather excited that it’s the weekend almost; I am looking forward to diving headfirst into the manuscript and making excellent progress. I feel good this morning, too–not like low energy, or like it’s not going to be a good day on any level–so that’s a good thing. I think my body has adapted to the time change and to getting up in the morning again, which is always helpful. I think the time change is why I had such a shitty sleep Sunday night which made Monday kind of a lost day for me. I was tired after going to the doctor and had things to do when I got home–putting away dishes, laundry, etc.–and by the time I was finished I was a bit fatigued, and of course once Scooter crawled into my lap it was over. I watched a documentary about how the Kansas State football team–once one of the worst in the sport–rebranded and rebuilt itself into a winning team, something no one ever thought would ever happen. (I love when traditionally terrible football teams turn it around; I kind of have a soft spot for both Kentucky and Vanderbilt, for example, in the SEC because they rarely, if ever, succeed. I have a thing for underdogs–and no one should ever think a traditionally bad team can’t be turned around; not when you have the New Orleans Saints example right in front of you, either.)

I’m not sure how much Paul is going to be around as the countdown to the festivals continue. I know the SEC Gymnastics meet is this weekend and he’ll want to watch that, so maybe he’ll be around on Saturday. *shrugs* Who knows? But I have a lot of work to get caught up on, and of course all the chores around the apartment that I am behind on need to be done. Groceries shouldn’t be a need this weekend since Paul will be out of the house starting on Wednesday, and I am not sure when or how much time I am going to be down in the Quarter that weekend, either. I can always go hole up in Paul’s suite to write and edit, if need be, but there’s also the possibility–a very high one–of overstimulation; I’m still not used to being around large groups of people. I was never great in those situations to begin with; after the pandemic I’m not even remotely as close to being decent in those situations. I know at Bouchercon I would get overwhelmed in the bar so always tried to stay out the outer fringes of that enormous crowd. So, we’ll see how all this goes with my flagging energy and my inability to remember things.

This was also a big week for awards shortlists; the Hammett Prize, the Lambdas, and the Thriller Award finalists were all announced this week. Lots of friends, as always, nominated for awards, but my joy for Barb Goffman, who landed a Thriller nomination for Best Short Story for her contribution to Land of 10000 Thrills, “The Gift” knows no bounds. It’s always lovely when people who’ve contributed stories to one of my anthologies gets recognized for their work; primarily because it reflects well on my editorial choices and I can also take a tiniest little piece of credit for publishing the story in the first place. (Like how I am always excited when something I’ve contributed a piece to gets a nomination or a win; How to Write a Mystery‘s almost complete sweep of everything it qualified for was a bit of a thrill since I had a piece in it.) The Lefty Awards will be presented on Saturday, but I have zero chance of winning since I am not there–since attendees vote over the weekend, not being there is a hindrance (not that I would have run around begging people to vote for me anyway) to winning. (I probably would still have zero chance of winning even were I there; there are some juggernauts in the category with a strong track record of winning awards.) I do miss being there and seeing everyone, but with the Festivals coming up this next weekend and me going to Malice next month…there’s no way I could have squeezed a trip to Left Coast in this month without a complete physical, mental and emotional collapse.

Well, I didn’t finish writing this entry before I had to leave for work; the time somehow slipped through my fingers and the next thing I knew, I was worried about being late and rushed on out of here, leaving this as a task to finish after work-at-home duties. I did manage to get the prescription for the medicated gel for my toe my doctor prescribed, and it seems to be working. I’ve only used one application and the ache/pain seems to be gone, and I can bend it again without agony running up to my brain, so I guess my doctor knows what he’s talking about. I hate doubting my doctor; I’d much rather believe everything he says without question. I don’t want to be one of those patients, but when you’re a natural-born worrier with a touch of obsessiveness, well, that’s a line that I am always afraid I am going to cross with my doctor. Maybe now I can just relax and believe everything he says.

As if.

Hilariously, it’s now even later on Friday evening and this still isn’t finished or posted. I started doing laundry and pruning books and cleaning/straightening/organizing, and got sidetracked from this yet again until I sat down, woke up the computer and saw the cursor blinking here on this page, and thought, whoops, if I don’t my streak of daily posts will come to an end and so here I am , trying to finish this while still leaving things to talk about on here tomorrow morning. (I did a quick reread of The Celluloid Closet by Vito Russo, the first time in decades, and was a bit surprised at what year his book finished in; I was like, wow, I was actually looking forward to hearing his thoughts on Priscilla and To Wong Foo…more on that tomorrow morning.) I have also continued to put the gel on my toe and I cannot believe the significant difference it has made already. Definitely saving whatever is leftover in case this ever happens the fuck again, right? Sheesh.

And on that note, I am finally going to bring this to its inevitable and long overdue close. It’s been a hot minute since it took me all day to write an entry. Be back in the morning, and have a lovely evening.

Only Girl in the World

I saw that John Jakes died yesterday–or they announced he had passed yesterday–which was kind of jolting; primarily because he’d come across my radar again lately. I don’t remember who or how, but I was looking at something or looking up something and a quote from him about reviews and critics and his place in American literature, or he was asked about the literary stars of the day or something (these memory lapses are so aggravating) but I loved what his response was: I don’t remember exactly the comparison, but he compared books to wine: his were an inexpensive wine you could pick up at a grocery store, satisfying but nothing special, while others were the really rare and fine vintages you went down into the cellar to retrieve and had to blow dust off the bottle. (It may have been meats; I can’t remember exactly but the wine analogy seemed more correct and apt, frankly.) I appreciated that, because I spent a lot of my teens and early twenties reading Jakes’ American history novels. They were fun to read but not great, and I wound up reading the entire eight volume Kent Family Chronicles as well as the North and South trilogy (and I think in some weird way the train of thought that led me to the Jakes quote was remembering Kirstie Alley and Patrick Swayze in the mini-series of North and South, because I was also thinking about the Civil War because I was watching Civil War documentaries on Youtube, which led me to abolitionists and a meme I saw reading I don’t argue with people John Brown would have shot and you see how that all goes; the weird and twisted slipperiness of my mind. I hadn’t thought about Jakes in years; and now he’s popped up twice within a couple of weeks. (He was ninety, so had a long and full and vastly successful life. Those books were all bestsellers and the first three of the Kent books were filmed for television; I think the original plan was to film them all but that ended after the third made for television movie.)

I think there were eight books in the Kent Family series; the original plan was to follow the family through American history, but the book series ended in the 1880’s, I think; it ended before the twentieth century–which was smart. How would you cover the world wars and Vietnam? Civil rights? These were very pro-Americana books, too; they were all part of the big Bicentennial Celebration of 1976–which was a very big deal at the time, if you weren’t born yet, and the years leading up to 7/4/76 were a lot of patriotic overkill, frankly. Every business and company had some sort of Bicentennial celebration tie-in, starting in about 1974, I think, so by the time the actual Bicentennial rolled around many of us were already sick and tired of hearing about it. We had just moved to Kansas that summer, and we still only could get one channel–CBS out of Kansas City. (Hard to believe there was a time when you could live somewhere and only get one channel, but it used to be very commonplace, and there were only three networks anyway.) The primary problem, for me, with the Kent series was how plausible is it that every member of this family is a friend or acquaintance of every famous person in our history?

I slept well again last night, which is marvelous. I did laundry and put the dishes away after work, and made a grocery run, picked up a prescription, and got the mail. I was a busy Gregalicious yesterday, and I worked some more on the book as well. I feel a lot better about the book–it’s not nearly as terrible as I had feared; I really do need to work on not hating my work or at least going overboard as far as their condition, frankly. I am looking forward to making some more good progress this weekend as well; now that I am feeling more myself again (I feel good this morning, too) I think I am going to be able to get all of this finished and revised and reworked and handled and improved. This is the part of writing a book that I enjoy; the drudgery is the first draft, and the polishing and improving is the most satisfying, because you see and can feel it taking shape.

I did break down and watch the first episode of the new season of Ted Lasso without Paul last night; it was marvelous, as expected, and just such a delightful show and characters. I decided it was okay to go ahead and watch because I figured I wouldn’t mind a second watch when the Festivals are over. It just might well be my favorite comedy series of all time; definitely up there with Schitt’s Creek and Cheers for sure. Today I also am heading in to see the doctor this afternoon about my toe, which still hurts to bend and twinges when I walk, but I am not limping. Maybe it’s a waste of the doctor’s time, but you never know, and once you’re past sixty you kind of have to take any of these sorts of things that happen seriously. (I have a tendency to ignore it and hope it goes away on its own.) It’s been nearly a month since it all started; I think it was exactly four weeks ago today that it started hurting and initially swelled, but between Carnival and Mom, I didn’t really have a chance to get in, and as soon as I was able to know for sure I could make an appointment and keep it, I did–and this was the first one available. Fingers crossed it isn’t anything more serious than arthritis or (sigh) gout.

It’s amazing what a difference to my overall mood getting back on the writing horse makes, seriously. Now that I am working on the manuscript again, I’m sleeping better and feel more settled and like myself again, which is lovely–I was beginning to wonder. I wasn’t quite as tired yesterday when I left the office, and I have to say, it’s been marvelous feeling rested and being able to work again. Much as I whine and complain about writing–usually, it’s not the writing itself I complain about, but rather deadline stress more than anything else–I do love it, I do love doing it, and it really makes me happy. I recently realized that while my primary identity is author, another identity (and one I’ve held much longer than author) is reader. I have always been, first and foremost, a reader. I love to read, and wish I had more time to do so; hence the not worrying about ever being bored if and when I do get to the point of retirement–there will always be books to read, stories to write, and something to clean around the house. I am only bored if and when I choose to be; and there’s also always some movie I haven’t seen I can stream, too. I’m a homebody, and the older I get the more true that becomes. I am putting off a Costco run until after the Festivals, even though we’re getting low on things and out of others; there’s no point in doing much restocking of the kitchen since Paul will be moving down to the hotel on Wednesday and not coming home until either Sunday or Monday. I need to figure out what I am doing over the weekend myself. I think I have something Saturday morning, a reading that afternoon, and then a panel on Sunday? I don’t know, I’d have to check I suppose, and at some point I should get that all put into my phone calendar.

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

Where Have You Been

Wednesday and Pay the Bills Day has yet again rolled around. Huzzah?

Yesterday was a good day. I had a great day at work getting caught up on everything around the office and seeing clients; I came home in a good mood and not exhausted, so I worked and edited for a while before blowing the proverbial end of day whistle and repairing to my easy chair to relax for the evening. It was nice, really, having a lovely day again. It has been so long. I also slept pretty well last night, too–I woke up a few times throughout the night, so it wasn’t a straight sleep through, but I feel rested and good this morning; not groggy or like my body hasn’t woken up yet, either. But the coffee tastes great, I don’t want to go back to bed and sleep some more, and I am getting my shit together. Today feels like it might be a good day; I’ve learned that how I feel when I wake up isn’t always necessarily the best indicator of how the day will go because they’ve certainly gone south once they’ve gotten underway, LOL.

Ted Lasso is back, tonight I think? Won’t be watching until the festivals are over and Paul is home in the evenings (same with The Mandalorian, and the festivals are next weekend), and of course we also have Outer Banks on deck, too. I didn’t read when I finished working yesterday–I’d wanted to–but by the time I’d finished with my editing, I was burned out and tired and just mentally fatigued, so I went to the easy chair and watched some history documentaries to pass the evening until I got tired (documentaries on Claude of France; Anne of Brittany; and several other figures from French history) and went to bed. It was very cold yesterday (for New Orleans and compared to lately) and so I had to end up turning on the heat last night. I just turned it on downstairs, figuring some heat would rise and it’s better to sleep under a pile of blankets when it’s a bit on the chilly side in the bedroom. It was nice to come downstairs this morning and not start shivering, or hovering by the Keurig waiting for the coffee to brew so I could wrap my cold hands around the hot cup. I also have been paging through Stephen King’s Danse Macabre and Grady Hendrix’ Paperbacks from Hell, which is a marvelous reference guide (I was happy to read–I’d forgotten–that King agrees with my assessment of The Exorcist and William Peter Blatty’s writing; this is another instance where the movie is better than the book) and I am not entirely sure I’ve written a post about Paperbacks from Hell? I’ll have to look, but this is another example of my memory being shot; how do I not remember whether I’d written about something or not? Particularly when it’s something I’ve really enjoyed? I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to do another post (if there was an original) about the book because it really is delightful and fun.

I also paid my latest camera ticket on-line last night. I fucking hate camera tickets. I got this one driving home from getting up super-early and having blood drawn; I just brushed my teeth and washed my face, threw on some clothes and headed down there without having coffee first–coffee can affect your blood sugar levels, and as mine are getting higher with every blood draw, my doctor is monitoring that–and so of course I wasn’t really terribly awake as I drove home sans three test tubes of blood.

I fucking hate the cameras. I get at least two tickets per year, and always–always–in a school zone. (No, that doesn’t mean I see kids milling about on both sides of the street and speed up, hoping…I am not fond of children, to be sure, but I don’t want to eliminate any of them) I guess when I get to the speed limit/school zone signs I need to just slam on the brakes rather than gradually slow, which is what I usually do.

Ah, well. I hope the traffic camera tickets help pay to fix the streets or fill in a pothole or two. There’s a lot of road repair going on at the moment–Elysian Fields, Claiborne, and Martin Luther King; all main streets and all ones that are part of my daily drives around the city–which is a good thing, even if it’s a massive pain in the ass right now for me.

And tonight I have to make groceries and probably should swing by the post office and I have a prescription ready, too, so hello, Uptown New Orleans! I need to edit tonight, too. I am hoping this centered, peaceful place I’ve found myself in these last couple of days is lasting….

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

Take a Bow

Sunday morning in the Lost Apartment and I slept well–I wanted to stay in bed for another few hours, but got up anyway and am now sitting in my kitchen remembering that there was a time change and it’s actually later than I thought. Sigh. So I didn’t get up early after all, did I? I hate Daylight Savings Time and wish we could do away with it once and for all; didn’t Congress take this up last year or something, and didn’t it look like this pointless time change was going to be a thing of the past, or was that merely a fever dream brought on by the pandemic or something?

Yesterday wound up being a wasted day for me. I had some things to do yesterday morning that had to be done–some emails I’d been putting off because I knew they would be triggering, and I was right. I’m still not certain the most important one was worded correctly or the right thing to say at all, but when I finally finished it–it took me several hours to compose it and myself–I was emotionally drained and in a grief spiral, so I decided to spend some time with Scooter sleeping in my lap to make me feel better. I wound up actually drained and exhausted and fatigued, so I simply stayed there. Paul didn’t go into the office yesterday (he is going today) and we finally spent some time together last night, getting caught up on Servant (which is really phenomenal; Lauren Ambrose doesn’t get near the credit as an actress that she should; there’s a scene in the second to last episode–the series finale is this Friday–that can be Ms. Ambrose’s Emmy reel; the scene where her husband and brother finally come clean with the secret they’ve been keeping from her since the first episode is a master class in acting, and it’s all done with her facial expressions, and it’s a tour-de-force), and then the first episode of Outer Banks. We were both getting sleepy, so we put on a true crime documentary series (Two Shallow Graves, which is quite interesting; we figured if we fell asleep it would be okay because we could rewatch it if necessary without necessarily spoiling anything) and finally repaired to bed (later) than I thought it was (stupid time change), which is already throwing me off this morning.

I am still digesting Cheryl A. Head’s marvelous Time’s Undoing, which I finished yesterday morning and greatly enjoyed. I was hoping to spend some time with my next read this morning….but I’ve already lost an hour. Maybe instead of reading this morning, I’ll finish this and get cleaned up and write for a few hours before curling up with a good book later on this afternoon. Paul is going to see his trainer this morning and then to the office, so he’ll be out of my hair for most of the day so I should be able to get a lot of editing and so forth done, as well as some planning for future writing. There’s also always cleaning and filing to get done; yesterday after the depression set in was pretty much a wasted day. But I’m not going to beat myself up over the lost day; it is what it is and nothing I can do now can ever change that, so I am going to be kind to myself and recognize that, while still disappointing, there’s a significant difference between deciding to be lazy and blow off the entire day as opposed to being so overwhelmed that you can’t do anything. (This being kind to myself thing I am trying this year is such an outlook change that it’s not reflexive and I always have to process myself into it; maybe at some point it will become reflexive and…yeah, I don’t see it becoming reflexive any time soon)

Oh, yes, and the Oscars are on tonight. My interest in awards shows has declined as I’ve gotten older; sometimes I wonder if my gradual growing antipathy for awards shows I used to look forward to when I was younger has anything to do with my own eligibility for awards since getting published? Don’t get me wrong; I don’t object to awards by any means, but they also aren’t why I do what I do. It’s always nice to be recognized, especially by your peers and especially when you’ve always felt like an outsider rather than a peer. But while winning an Oscar (or even being nominated) can change a film industry member’s career for the better, do book awards make a difference to someone’s career if they aren’t the National Book Award or the Pulitzer Prize? I do think it’s important to recognize excellence in the field, but awards are just as subjective as anything else, and when an award is decided by a panel of judges..well, a different panel of judges might not come up with the exact same shortlist and winner, either. It isn’t like you can campaign to win an Edgar–but there are awards for mystery novels that you can campaign for, and the campaigning always makes me uncomfortable. In the beginning, I hated asking people for votes and wouldn’t do it. Then I started adding my eligible stuff to Gabriel Valjan’s awards-eligibility lists, which he compiles every year for every award as their nominations period open up.

Last year was the first time I actually made a little announcement on social media that hey, Bury Me in Shadows is eligible for the Anthony for Best PBO because there wasn’t a children’s/young adult category on the ballot. A second ballot was sent out at the almost last-minute because they’d inadvertently left that category off the ballot, so…figuring I didn’t have a prayer at a Best PBO nomination, I asked people to write me in on their ballot for y/a. IMAGINE my shock to wind up nominated in both categories (I lost both, PBO to Jess Lourey and Y/A to Alan Orloff; it’s lovely to lose to friends because you can be happy for them rather than disappointed at losing–losing to someone you don’t like or respect is an entirely different situation); so this year I figured I had nothing to lose by asking for votes–and wound up nominated for a Lefty for A Streetcar Named Murder and an Agatha for #shedeservedit, so go figure, you know?

Another reason I stopped caring or watching the Oscars is because they’ve become so predictable in every category in every year that there are no fun surprises, or if there are any, they are so few and far-between that watching become tedious (although one delightful surprise was Olivia Colman’s win for The Favourite a few years ago); but there doesn’t seem to be a clear cut winner in every category this year, even though I will go out on a limb and predict Oscars for Brendan Fraser (everyone loves a comeback story), Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan (another comeback story), and Jamie Lee Curtis. The two actresses will not only be rewarded for their work in the film but also for lengthy, glorious careers that have never been recognized before; while the two men are feel-good comeback stories. I’ve not seen Everything Everywhere All At Once, but I do think it’s trending to win everything. (If I had to chose, Barry Keoghan probably deserves an award for The Banshees of Inisherin; to me his was the strongest performance in a film I really disliked.)

And on that note, I am going to get another cup of coffee and head into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and I’ll check back in with you later.